Saturday, July 31, 2004
Finally he makes a quick dash for her and she isn’t ready, they both leap apart and he starts over from the edge of the sill again. Her legs lift and once again she watches and listens, lulled by the vibrations into a dreamlike state where he might mate when his lullaby concludes. So odd this cooperation, he so delicately dances to avoid death so that his potential murderer might bear his fruit. Clearly he knows she can kill him. Does he choose a lady spider worthy of this task, or is it random? Is the moment of ecstasy worth it? Why is this urge stronger than that to live? Does it come from the same place that makes me contemplate quitting my job, fleeing my home, taking my kids some place safer when faced with the remotest possibility of threat to them?
This time, the plucking is too much, or the strand not well made, and suddenly it snaps. He swings dangerously close and then hurls himself upward. She wakens fully and follows quickly, but stops to repair the thread rather than pursuing him as prey. He retreats, maybe permanently, there are plenty of her kind waiting on other webs nearby. She returns to sit in the center of her web, no indication of further interest or disappointment.
I pretend I am relieved to return to my chores, but find myself imagining dancing the last dance of my own life, imagine the concentration and terror, joy and effort, patience and courage. What if I cared that much about one thing I did? Maybe an artist would understand it. Or maybe I am too inhibited to allow myself to care so much. Maybe I pretend there isn’t as much at stake. I suspect I am too lazy. I suspect I don’t know what could possibly be worth that effort, that risk, that patience. I ought to know.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
... and why I don't seem able to "get it" about this desire thing. It occurs to me I should use my own space if I'm going to get so involved in the discussion.
It looks this way to me:
It seems that (many) women struggle with being used or abused or conquered to meet men's desires.
It seems that (many) men struggle with the desire to have carefree sex. Maybe the real struggle is to have "enough" sex, but it does seem to often include multiple partners.
It seems that both want intimacy but the means for a women to feel safely intimate involves men not having carefree sex.
The way I've heard it explained in terms of trends, many men physically desire first (task based view of the world), then develop the sense of connection I'd describe as compassion. Many women develop the compassion (relational based view of the world) then the desire.
And to speak to my own experience, rather than generalities, I find my own erotic attraction to a person to be directly linked with my sense of who they are. Brad Pitt might be someone's ideal, as might Jennifer Anniston, but neither would rate a moment of consideration from me, compared to someone who might not fit the models of beauty, but who actually does something to make the world better, or who is passionate about their creativity, things I would have to learn about them as people, as compared to their external presentation in the world. Which means, I don't tend to run into problems with desire for people I don't have compassion for, have a relationship with. And that is where my desire finds its boundary conditions... if I care about the person, (which for me is inseparably linked to desiring them ) then I want to act in a way that holistically supports that person, which provides the basis for choosing right action.
No I'm not pretending I don't have problems with desire. I've had inappropriate desire for married men. I've wished I could get physical needs met without worrying about the ramifications... and of course I've made some mistakes about what was right action too. But compassion played a big part in the process of deciding what to act on, and what to leave untouched, was the basis for the desire in the first place. I don't think of the desire in abstract, I think of specific people, the man I worked with in that group, this particular friend, that guy I dated but who didn't fall in love with me... and the components of them that I was attracted to... their intensity, sense of humor, sensual nature, commitment to a cause, creativity... and the circumstances that made it right or not to act on the attraction (he was married, he wasn't interested in me, he was too vulnerable... etc).
But it makes me wonder, if compassion doesn't come first, then isn't desire purely selfish? What is it about, if it isn't about them?
Without compassion, then doesn't a person need some "artificial" means of governing right action? And doesn't that create the ongoing struggle?
I think of the excuse that "what she doesn't know won't hurt her." Yeah I've heard that one a few times. Its not based in kindness. Or compassion. I think of my own past excuses... that we never had a physical relationship... so everything we did was ok. It wasn't ok, I still participated in something that hurt another person, even if I had never met them... I was not compassionate in my actions.
I guess I think that the love and ideal relationship between two adults could easily be a vehicle for compassion though, based on the kind of marriage my parents had, even though they weren't the most emotional of people... in fact, I think many of their daily choices were based out of a feeling of compassion and identification with the other, and with the responsibilities they shared to the household...
Maybe when they met, my Mom was drawn to his personality, and my Dad was drawn to her looks, or possibly he just hoped to get kissed before he shipped off for war... but something connected and it worked to keep them connected for 56 years. I'm sure of their fidelity, as a component of their mutual love and respect for the relationship and the role each had committed to play in our family... I seriously doubt either struggled with being faithful. And it seems to me in general, its exactly compassion that creates the true motivation to keep vows of fidelity. Compassion for the partner, for the kids, for the community...
Sunday, July 25, 2004
We went for bagels this morning, and then across the street to the Hillsdale Farmer's Market to take advantage of some of the region's wonderful summer produce.
We bought two huge artichokes from Tillamook, 3 ears of white corn, a bag of glorious mouth filling bing cherries, a few donut peaches, a bag of assorted Sungold (yellow cherry-sized), Lemon boy (yellow large), Brandywine (red) and Ferris Wheel (pink) tomatoes, a lemon cuke, assorted green, yellow and purple beans, a pint of blueberries, two pints of late strawberries, and snow peas.
There were dogs (a favorite was Bailey, a flat coated retriever, 10 years old and so sweet), babies in strollers, shoppers in wheel chairs, lots of smiles, lots of samples, sunshine, and folk music.
Our second stop was the party store as my son's birthday is soon arriving and we needed invitations. Things got a little out of hand when the kids started trying on Hawaiian leis, silly surfer hats, and singing corny songs to the monkey Tiki god drink holder. The check out man was not amused. I bought a Hula Party CD on sale. It has the Banana Boat song. Need I say more? We came home with some more silly lights for the front door, and a straw hat for mom.
The last stop was the parking lot car wash, high school kids in shorts and tank tops washing cars for their school fund raiser. I'm a sucker for kids washing cars. They had Queen cranked up loud on the portable CD player. Queen? What's up with that? And my daughter wants to buy "Summer Breeze." Yeah, it's the same exact one from 19 seventy what? How funny! If I dig in my old records collection, bet I can find it for her.
We're now engaged in laundry and the complex task of figuring out last names for the invitations to the birthday party. Which of the four Kyles is it? Which of the two Tylers? He wants to assemble goody bags, but I'm making him wait until the morning of the party. It's a tradition.
This is a pretty typical Sunday for me with the kids. Today, I'm working on paying attention to the little moments of joy in each part of the day. Mindful of the exact blush of pink on the tomato. Aware of the play of tart and sweet on the tongue as the blackberry melts. Enjoying my kid's playfulness. Thank full for the plenty of the earth, the warmth of the sun, the gift of health, the smiles and good moods all around me, fun things to look forward to. Typical day, but so full of life and happiness. Hang onto this when the days are more care filled. Remember tomorrow promises more small moments of joy. Practice practice being aware.
Friday, July 23, 2004
I'm just not so sure about them.
I find that I'm quite happy about the houses with the lawn signs I already agree with.
I find that I have less and less interest in chatting with the neighbors with lawn signs I disagree with.
I don't really believe that putting up a lawn sign is going to persuade anyone to vote a certain way, so what the sign does is declare allegience.
It seems to me, that its more likely to create a gulf that shuts down open dialogue and consideration of the issues.
I'm also thinking, it puts people on the defensive, so even if I never would have talked to my neighbor about politics, now I'm not even going to examine my beliefs in the quiet of my own home. I'm just going to take a stand and hold it no matter what golldarnit.
Still, I'm secretly cheering everytime I see another Kerry sign go up.
ooops. 2:00PM PST link now fixed.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
"This is a coin hold of great beak bird style, there are 3 size large, middle and small. you can put the name card, commutation ticket or pen on the back. Particularly in the beak which can be clip commutation ticket or paper money to enable driver to take up easy. also the wings will be flapped when the car is driving. it looks very attractive!"
(note: punctuation and grammar exactly as printed)
It does look very attractive, by the way. And it has great style.
I got it at Archie McPhee but since I don't see any in their catalog at the moment, you'll have to settle for these charming tiki god air fresheners instead. I'm sorry, I know I promised something of weighty content, but the dog had one of his epileptic seizures and I'm forced to improvise something entertaining with short notice tonight.
2 Possibly, wouldn't write it off
For our next internet poll, let me know if you like cats or dogs better as a pet.
Ok, I'll try and post something weighty later on tonight. *grin*
Sunday, July 18, 2004
Things happened that neither of us could explain in that couple of years. Things too weird to expect others to believe, like the time I suddenly "checked out" of the kitchen and found myself walking along a country road, split rail fence, examining the scenery transformed by an ice storm. A few seconds later, my family jolting me back into the kitchen. A few hours later, an unprompted emailed description from him matching my vision. Days later a picture of the road emailed, now icicle free, but the place he'd walked, a place I'd never seen, at least with my eyes, never had described to me, but the fence, the trees, the curve of the road, all there as I'd (what? felt it? seen it? walked it? what part of me was there?)
And then there were things we were so sure would happen, things we promised. I broke some promises, he broke others, finally there was this moment I realized none of it was reality. Many parts were very real, but I couldn't live day to day with what we had, souls linked but hands seperated by 300 miles and so many other barriers to anything like a living breathing partnership. I accepted that for who he was, those things couldn't change, but it doesn't mean I wasn't hurt, didn't lose respect. And so I let it drift away, even though I promised and believed we'd always, forever be connected. Said things that were surely hurtful. Didn't say a lot of things which probably hurt more. There were others after me - I don't really believe that he felt the same about them - but I can imagine that those women felt what I did. And I didn't wish for them the inevitable realization that something so precious and magical wouldn't be enough reason to shake free of the ties. Eventually I realized my part, I'd allowed those ties to get knotted that much tighter by filling in the gaps in his life without expecting something in return. It might be the most amazing and vital part of a relationship: the love, the connection, but it is only a part.
So I have a book that I bought for him sitting now buried under some magazines. A drawer full of memories, letters, bits and pieces of his days. A file full of his poems, many written for me. A lingering sadness.
But no goodbyes.
Do you think people are connected in other lives?
Saturday, July 17, 2004
He seemed so wise and warm, safe
So up she flew, drawing close
To whisper all her secrets through the long night.
He smiled, listened, whispered back across the blackness
And night seemed to last forever
Linked by the light of the stars
Their stories drifted and shimmered
An aurora of shared energy
Until she began to believe they were real
And the world shrank beneath her and nothing else
Seemed to matter.
The sun's arrival proved otherwise.
I am still caught here in this dream, she thought,
But now when day has arrived
He is somewhere else, softly shining
On another damp winged fairy
Drawn by the glow of his quiet light.
I am not quite so special as he said
And lonelier than before
For what could be more luminous than the moon
And fantasy so much sweeter than truth.
Eyes opaqued, wings singed, just another moth
Each night returning to circle in her Mach Band of pseudo darkness
Unwilling to surrender herself to the flame
Unable to pull herself away.
Ode to Rumi; Drawn to Light, an installation by Seyed Alavi
(Fairy Moon image used permission of David Delamare)
Friday, July 16, 2004
I do cry in movies. And at stupid commercials. When I feel bad for others, and when I am bursting with pride over something my kids do. Its not that I don't cry generally, I'm quite soggy in fact. But not over my own problems. I don't cry for myself.
I suppose this is not compassionate is it? I'd like to say its a sign of strength, but more likely disconnection and fear.
If I allow myself to cry, it means many things I'd rather not deal with.
I'd have to summon up the whole list of sucky things that have happened and look right at them all.
I'd have to cry for my failures and that's embarressing.
I'd have to cry for my unrealistic idealistic hopes that have been dashed, and for counting on the chickens before they hatched.
I'd have to cry dealing with my inner voice screaming "it could be so much worse you wimp!"
I'd have to cry knowing no one would be there to say "cheer up you old sod."
I'd have to cry wondering if I'll know how to stop crying.
Truthfully, in the last few years it seems that I have drifted over that razor's edge line from coping adequately into depression with only a small nudge from the self pity department. Pushing back from the edge more often comes from moving on to the next thing-being productive, doing something for someone else, and gritting my teeth.
Thanks for all the supportive thoughts. Its helped.
Thursday, July 15, 2004
According to my AOL home screen, in 2035 the fate of the earth lies in Will Smith's hands.
The first house on my block with a Kerry sign up out front belongs to one of the three neighbors I'd have put money on to have a Bush sign.
Iggy Pop is electrifying music starved crowds in Serbia.
No matter how incompetant I may feel in other parts of my life, I can still break up a neighborhood cat fight.
Things we are afraid have gone away, come
back in a new way when we wish hard enough.
Marion Jones will be in the Olympics after all.
L.A.'s DA has deemed Courtney Love a danger to the community. But she's not pregnant.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Weeks like this one uncover a huge discrepancy in my faith. Wrestling.
I am having one of those weeks where if something can go wrong, it does. In fact, even things that seemed DESTINED to turn out well have crashed and burned unexpectedly. I am an optimistic person in general. I refuse to ascribe bad luck to my karma, or to any divine punishment, or to any system at all.
But I'm liable to do my damnedest to find some cosmic rationale that allows me to trust that in the long run, this stuff will all turn out for the best, as irritating as it seems in this moment.
Obvious discrepancy. If there's no system creating the bad luck then I can't exactly put my trust in the nonexistent system to create order out of the chaos for me later. And trust in that is my only solace. Gratitude used to work as a back up, "thank god it's only this sort of problem and not that other huge one I'm terrified of." Well actually, it still works to keep my perspective in place, but I am a bit suspicious that it also works to devalue any feelings of sadness, loss or anger that I summon up at the actual problems. Here, put them in this box that's labeled "It could be worse you know" and deny away any difficult feelings. Heh. My whole family does that one, immediately upon learning of a misfortune for one of us, we lightheartedly point to how minimal it is compared to, say, conditions in Sudan. That went out the window for me after commonbeauty pointed out that gratitude about escaping another person's misery is a strange and rather scary thing.
So I'm left with this underlying doubt that maybe I am destined to have everything go wrong this week.
Ick. Feels like a self-fulfilling prophesy. Worse yet, a great rationale for the next 5 or 6 self destructive behaviors I can engage in. I tried to shift the energy tonight, took the dog for his walk and then took myself off to see Harry Potter, which left me feeling quite a bit better. Only to return to another blast of bad news left on the phone answering machine while I was gone. Then cynic in me slyly whispers there's something out there thumbing its nose at my over-confidence and I've brought it all on myself.
I wonder why I don't just allow myself to just cry when things go wrong.
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
“Maybe we need to reinvent marriage,” said Julia. “Maybe we need a whole new way of being in union. I know we can’t promise ‘forever’ to each other. It’s clear that only Spirit has the power over that one.”
“Our wedding ceremony would have nothing to do with appeasing the ghosts of our past, no tokens of sacrifice to the demons who would wish to hold us hostage. It was about rewriting the future, our commitment to each other, and our individual spiritual paths…..In most cases, I suspect the promise of forever comes from the fear of an uncertain future. It’s my experience that the only real answer is trust—trust in the compassion of the Spirit (a.k.a. God).
(Kenny now writes) "I see that when relationships are centered around the concept of security, then decisions get made that sacrifice the emotional needs of the individual in lieu of “protecting the security” of the agreement. But if the emotional and spiritual growth of the individual is viewed as the primary focus of the relationship, then security can be redefined in the form of trust—that my love is a gift from Spirit and is not based upon my performance, that what serves my heart will serve everyone on the relationship. I refuse to build our new marriage on the fear of losing each other. Because that fear would inevitably require one or both of us to stop growing emotionally, for fear we might “grow apart. ” I must trust Spirit, and that includes accepting the possibility that Julia’s spiritual path might someday take her away from me. But I truly love her, so I want her to become all of who she was born to be.”"
This then is the vow Julia makes as she takes ~off~ the gold ring and slips it into the river: “With this ring I set you free. You are free to follow your heart, your Spirit, to wherever you need to go for your highest good. I trust the Spirit that brought you to me. Only by knowing you are free can you make the decision to be fully here, where I will always love you…..”
Do you think commitments can weather the changes that come in our emotional and spiritual growth? What sort of commitment? Is unconditional love a realistic expectation from a partner?
Monday, July 12, 2004
You turn me to face away
Suddenly the universe is empty
As a blind man, I listen with my whole body
The yiraki a tuning fork
Your breath playing pulses
Over my shoulders and spine
Regulating the vibration in my soul
My heart beat shifts down
Allowing a tremor of self acceptance
This is my body, here.
This is my heart, here.
This is my sanctity, here.
My feet connected to the earth, my breath to the air
The flowing of my blood to the sea
Here tuned, for a moment, attuned
To the possibility
That you hear the single Spirit in me
That I hear the single Spirit in you
One with the purity of sound
An undulating echo of a whale’s song
Bubbles breaking through the surface of a brook
Wind caressing a chimney hollow
The single bowed note of a cello
Begging us to hold our breath alongside
We are linked in the rhythm sung by the air that dances between us.
Riding out to the airport parking lot on the shuttle bus, I sat across from my two very tired kids and stared at their profiles, thinking how alike they looked. Almost as if you could trace their features at that moment, and one would be a very slightly smaller version of the other. Which is pretty odd because one of my kids has no genetic relation to the other. But at that moment, I think they both were feeling precisely the same things. Reflections of their recent hours written on their expressions outweighed the difference in their ethnicity, lineage, heritage.
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
On the 4th I deliberately arranged to go to the beach, a place where I knew I could escape. But friends and I chatted on the way back about the "real" meaning of the 4th, and with my women's circle meeting at my house the following night, I felt compelled to do something to reclaim my sense of pride around the concepts our country was built on.
So last night the five women met and shared a BBQ, but one of middle eastern dishes, J. even added feta cheese to the watermelon and blueberry fruit salad. Red white and blue, but with a twist. Chicken kabobs, marinated in yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and tahini. Pita bread and hummus.
Next, we each created world peace poles. We did miniature versions of the community project ones you can read about here. Each of us chose three countries we wanted to focus our energies towards, copying down the world peace prayer in those countries' languages (see here where they also will play a sound file of someone reading the prayer in that language.)
We had small square wooden stakes, which we decorated with symbols of the US and in our traditional red white and blue color scheme, then on each side of the stake we transcribed a prayer from the countries we'd picked, with the last side being the English version of the prayer for peace in the U.S. We talked about the countries we picked while we did this, some chosen as the birthplace of ancestors, some being places of strife and pain today, some being places of spiritual connection. Transcribing in Hindi and Arabic was challenging but for me, it also created a feeling of connection with the people of those places too.
Finally, I read aloud A Prayer for Our Country from Rep. Kucinich's work to create a department of peace for the US government, and led a meditation that went something like this (abbreviated):
Let your feet find the earth and feel yourself firmly supported to the roots, the land which sustains us
Watch your breath move in and out, filling you with light and air and ridding you of the negatives and poisons you are carrying
Watch your thoughts come and go with your breath, let them fall away without holding onto them, as you let your breath go, without thinking
Let the tension drain from your shoulders, neck, as you feel the breath fill you with calm
Feel the breath reach down into your solar plexus to meet the strength of the earth rising up through your feet and legs. Feel connected to all
Now watch your breath flood your heart, and as it enters, open your heart to the world, let it open wide to let out the light and love you carry
Let it arc out of you now, to touch the places you have been praying for peace
Imagine yourself walking there, meeting people, reaching out your hands in friendship and hope that peace will come, that things will be better for their children, their communities, their lands
Maybe you will see something that needs to be done, that you can help with. Hold onto that, to bring back from your journey, you can make a difference with that action tomorrow
Imagine the healing, the joy, the loss of fear. Imagine all people opening up to the connection and common bond, rather than retreating from our separateness
Now return to your own neighborhoods here in the US, and spread some of that same openness. Help our country to act out of love and hope rather than fear, help our leaders to do the same
And now, let that same feeling of hope and connection heal your own heart, to reclaim your love of this country. Find the things you are proud of, in the ideals and values, in the land, in your neighbors, families, friends
Bring that back with you now, as you return to the room, to the breath entering and leaving your body, to the sounds in the room, to our circle.
This morning I need to call the agency my son was adopted through, we will sponsor a family this year. I will also add some additional contributions to Mercy Corps who has been very active in medical aid in Iraq, and is also addressing the crisis in Sudan.
Is there someplace in particular your heart is called to help, and if so, how?
Monday, July 05, 2004
From Dennis Kucinich's Action Center for Peace:
"A giant eagle soars above the chamber of the House, etched in glass against a huge canopy, it spreads its wings over the assembled Congress. I noticed it instantly when I first walked onto the floor as an elected member. The eagle is quick, daring, possessed of exceptional vision. It is symbolic of our national spirit, which when it soars is awesome to behold. Secure in our eagle's beak is a prophetic banner on which is inscribed our nation's original motto: E Pluribus Unum -- Out of Many, One. I think of my own journey as one of 435 members of the House representing 50 states. Here, I, and those who chose me, establish the merger of We the People of the United States. The proclaimed unitedness which the banner forever unfurls above the heads of the Members of Congress speaks not to the "idee fixe" of flat history, but challenges us to be mindful of our interconnectedness, how the choices each one of us makes are choices for all of us, that the idea of unity precedes us, is present before us and calls to us from a distant future. The very first sentence of the Declaration of Independence, in performing the act of dissolving "the political bands which have connected" people with one another confirms the underlying power of cohesiveness. The consciousness of interconnectedness together with the principle of freedom was the conceptive thought which birthed a nation. "We the People" is also prologue. The constitutive is intuitive. The awareness that America exists as the thoughts, the words and the deeds of each and everyone of us can empower all of us to begin to create today the nation that we and our children will live in fifty years from now."
Saturday, July 03, 2004
Exhibit with human bodies debuts in L.A.
Thursday, July 01, 2004
Excerpt from The Other 90% by Robert Cooper
"The man brought his palms together in front of his chest and with his wife and children, saying "Tashi deley." "It means," said the father to me through my guide, who interpreted the words, "I honor the greatness in you. I honor the place in you where lives your courage, honor, love, hope, and dreams. Tashi deley."
Then something happened that I'll never forget. His daughter asked me a question that changed me. The terror inflicted on them by an occupying army and government from China has been well documented. But she already knew she had some qualities deep inside her that no one else could take away, no matter how hard they might try to restrict her life or harm her.
"In America," she asked expectantly, "when people say 'Hello,' do they honor the greatness in each other?"
The question struck a chord in me. I peered into her earnest, bright face. "No," I said, and then I added, "but I wish they did."
Every step I took through the mountains that rimmed that valley in Tibet, I realized that so many of the problems we face begin when we fail to honor the greatness in each other. Rarely had I ever felt anything when I said hello to others. What was the price I had paid, that we all pay?
The Tibetan girl sensed the truth. Every human being has greatness inside, somewhere. No exceptions. Those who look for, and honor, this greatness in others are already growing. In some small but vital way, their star is rising."