So, I’m just pretending that anyone reads these posts, or listens to me once in awhile when I am up at 4 in the morning having an anxiety attack or just plain old lady insomnia. I pretend that I have an audience, because I have to write, I am just made that way and though it is a vanity I can’t shake, I keep hoping I can turn it to some use, someday, somehow, somewhere, there’s a place for me. [apologies to Mr. Sondheim].
When I decided to select my own nickname, never having had one that made sense to me, or some denigrating remark that stuck, I realize I invoked a source, a quality I have always wanted, but is harder than I thought to live up to. Much easier to live up to lard ass or stupid, but then, those names are harder to live down. I am comfortable with having to living down the idea of solidity, of reality, of truth, of purification, though it isn’t going to happen in a flash.
I have had my share of flashes, of Darshan, but this last one was strong like an earthquake. I can’t be happy with what I thought I was happy with. I was happy, enough that is, maintaining a bit of equilibrium and the illusion of control by relating to Life as though it might whack me if It caught me having fun. It might decide to take me down a few pegs if I drew attention to myself. Why not? That was what experience taught me. I have become skilled at being a good whipping girl all on my own so that God could see me out of the corner of Her eye when She had paused from doing Her nails and see that I was sufficiently not a threat, and therefore needed no chastising. No amount of reason or religion cut through this.
But though I can see that I am still getting excited and careening off on a wild trajectory, it no longer feels as though it will solve anything. I see what these kinds of tantrums get my grandchildren, which is absolutely zip on the positive side, and way too much processing and parental soul searching on the other. An impulse is an impulse, and the nature of it does nothing to predict how much of a mess it can make when unleashed.
It will probably always be without being a measure of my belief that under all that we see and most of what we don’t is love. It doesn’t matter about being heard, or loneliness or fear. It matters to be able to see those things as part of the ongoing changing pattern of karma.
Searching for a very large percentage of my time here and getting pissed off or disappointed or rejected or judged is not important in any way. What is, to me, is that I find it in my capacity as a human to see other humans, to hear them, to know that they are me, not different, not separate. [It makes me smile to think how little many people will relish the idea that I’m as much a part of them as they are of me. ]
Now that this standing in front of me, I can look forward to more opportunities to try it out with people who have been wired to my nervous system, people whom I find annoying, threatening, oppressive – because I am annoying, threatening, oppressive. The tricky part is that I don’t think I am, but I keep getting a glimpse and a whisper “yes, you are, but never mind…”
Underneath even the noisiest ego is the wordless current, running through all forms, bringing all truths to light, presenting every opportunity to burn Karma; offering always offering Grace, transcendence and Love.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A few years ago, when Ingrid would ride someplace with me in the car and bring dolls to play with, before the time of screens or cel phones, I could listen in on the doll’s conversations every now and then. Her dolls were discussing what needed to be done, and in the process I could tell that one of the dolls was not as interested in getting things done as she was in getting the other doll to do things for her. The doll who was being asked to be a personal assistant snapped at the lazy, princess doll “Clean you own windows!”.
At that moment, I saw the answer to all personal complaints.
I have had a lovely vacation from long term depression and the occasional sense of despair, but I notice that whether the moment of pure knowing comes for a flash or for a week [or 2] it recedes. I am enormously grateful to have had that, and to know that deep hole I have been in now has a ladder, and the lid has been removed from the top, so I can see the sky. It is a gift to know that the return is always to love, and that whatever happens between, it is what holds everything together, tears everything apart, stands in the way, and makes the way clear. So, no bitching about Grace going behind the curtain again, just looking for the reminders that she is there, flipping the switch, cranking the crank, and smiling quietly to herself. Unlike OZ, though, she is no fake.
Ram Das said that he didn’t express the love he felt for people indiscriminately because if he did, they would never leave him alone. Krishna Das describes their guru as the most beautiful being in the universe all wrapped up in a blanket, and how nobody could stay away from him, he was such pure radiance and love. He also says that when people are responding to his singing, it is Baba who is working through him, not taking credit for himself, not claiming to be enlightened or special – separate from anyone who comes to hear him.
I thought of this as I sat in the audience watching the energy rise and fall in the place, seeing bits of transformative fire fall on people, and could not miss the expression of my own frozen Karma that pops up every time I go out in public to an event I plan to enjoy. Right in front of me sat a couple, the woman clearly transported by the kirtan, participating and glowing, and her boyfriend, who, if I were making assumptions, [and I am] looked like a Marine, held himself with perfect stillness and silence throughout the whole thing. I wondered if he had come with her as a favor. I thought he must really like her, because he didn’t seem to care one way or the other about kirtan. It seemed as though he could take it or leave it.
At one point, Krishna Das talked about a saint who had been completely misunderstood, and that of course, saints were misunderstood, how could we understand them, they are saints! Then, he launched into a wonderful rendition of Jesus is on the Mainline. People got up and danced, and waved their arms, a sense of delight filling the room. The man in from of me seemed to soften a tiny bit, tapped his foot to the music and relaxed the muscles in his neck.
I bring him up because I know he is me. I have such a hard time letting myself open to anything, any joy, particularly in public, I just don’t trust it, it’s so much easier for me to be with it when I am alone, but then, I am alone and not relating from my heart with people. This is not my gift, I have been trying to remember if there was a time when connecting from the heart with anyone wasn’t put in the shame box and tied up with a humiliation bow. Alcohol was helpful, until it wasn’t.
Is it that important to express it? Is it enough for now to not be an asshole whenever possible? Is it enough to keep reminding myself that everything I see gets interpreted in the light of whatever karma needs burning today?
This bridge has to be built out of more than words, more than intentions. I can see heaven from here, but it is more than one finger bone away.
For awhile now, my daughter and her kids have been living with me in this 900 sq ft house. She came here from a collapsing personal life, and my idea was that I could provide a safe place that would also not cost her anything [other than her freedom] to heal in, to find her center again and to redirect her energy. To look at it another way, I went into full on mama bear mode, problem solving everything that appeared on the horizon. Over time I was told to stop saying this, stop doing that, and I worried so much all the time that I didn’t sleep well, I began to feel as though I were being put in time out while the kids ran wild over everyone. I couldn’t focus on my own interests, and fell into an old family pattern of being a maid, a cook, a laundress and taking care of everyone’s needs [as perceived by me] first, and having to keep my opinion to myself in the process. This was not fertile ground for harmony, so harmony became another problem for me to solve.
To do that, it would help to know what harmony really is in the first place.
It probably isn’t one person singing and the other person twitching.
The crescendo should be soaring, not deafening.
The way life would design it, I lost contact with close friends who were local, I ran out of money to drive 80 miles to be around a group I liked, I ran out of energy to do the drive anyhow, and somehow kept on doing things like falling, breaking things in my body, experiencing bouts of narcolepsy and depression that just would not lift long enough so that I might stop thinking in ways that made the quicksand come closer to my mouth.
i would force myself to do my best, feeling much of the time as though I were being flayed by the sound of children arguing, guts turning to stone whenever my daughter was having a tough day.
Then something happened. I began to desire something else, The words came across to me one day from Ramana Maharishi that all things belong to God, that nothing is ours.
Anytime at all, I could take my hands off the wheel, and life might anthropomorphically, sigh in relief and take over, take the vehicle where it supposed to go, and that all things connected with this will be handled appropriately. I didn’t need to worry, I could trust in the benevolence of life at its source and know that it is fine. I could untie the strings from the stories I tell myself about what is going on and let the stories float away, I could tell new stories, and not identify with them, either. I could know, that we are all created by love, out of love, and that there is nothing else but that love. All kinds of things can happen, do happen, might not happen, and I am not in charge of any of it.
Now, to so many people this sounds elementary, but even though I have heard it so many times, this time, it had something else with it, an experience of Joy, perhaps it could be called Darshan, if that’s not too big a word. It doesn’t seem to big a word to me, because my depression is gone, and I never though it would be.
My family moved in with me and brought chaos and noise, delight and fear for their safeties and futures. I had the beautiful gift of discovering that I am not able to fix anything, unless it is an old lamp I found at the dump. Through fear, and sadness, grief and depression I have tired out the system so completely that there was nothing else to do but stop.
I am grateful. I thought I was saving them.
They were saving me.
I was in Market Basket the other day, perusing the marked down vegetables, my favorite rack, because I know that the stuff is perfectly good, much cheaper and is going to end up in the dumpster if nobody wants it. Tomatoes with a weird bit on them, slightly rusty beans, a bag of basil with a wilted leaf or 2 and an abundance of artichokes that I know I can trim back severely and enjoy, in fact, when they are far enough gone to make it to the reduced section, they have a sweeter taste, and not just because I saved money, they really are sweeter. [shhhhh!]
The next step is to sit here with the cold cooked artichokes and leaf by leaf, scrape the meat off onto a dish for tapenade. It is tedious and I think, as I scrape off 1/8 teaspoon of edible bit, how much an artichoke goes through to get to me. In Castro California, a field of these marvelous edible thistles are tended and harvested and sent 3,000 miles to a store near me, and they are only $2.00 each, or, depending, they cost $2.00 each? Really?!
I am not a gardener, but if I were, that is what I would build a greenhouse for [and melons].
Peel, scrape, peel, scrape, after a few minutes the hairy bit and the heart, difficult not to just put it in my mouth after all that, but the heart is where the best is, and it is rude not to share.
There is almost a point to this story, I was thinking how like the journey and artichoke is. A little bit of something, a little bit of work to prepare,and one leaf at a time, stripping away obstacles to the center, some pleasure along the way, the occasional bitter surprise, or disappointed inhabitant, but pure joy at the heart