Just a few minutes ago, in finishing up a conversation with a friend of mine, I said:
"Life is meant to move through us. I think that's fundamentally why so much of our society doesn't make sense to me - turning people into little Lego-men and Lego-women saying:
"How are you?"
"OK, see you tomorrow."
Life is meant move into and out of us - roared out, shouted out, danced out, whispered out, oozed out."
I think this idea is worth looking into.
To begin, let's examine the idea that the experience of life is meant to move through us. It seems to me that 100% of any health issues I have, any physical or mental discomfort, can be traced back to an experienced that has not been authentically, appropriately expressed and received.
If something happens and I get angry, and in that moment I allow myself to experience the fullness of that state and then allow 100% of that energy to move through me and out of me, doing nothing more than maintaining an awareness of this process and lightly directing that energy into an expression that is not feeding back into the cycle of anger but that instead is consciously directed towards resolution, then the anger has moved through me and I am no longer experiencing it. On the deepest level of my being, I have allowed it to be - I have accepted it, embraced it, and invited it into my awareness, and then moved it through me - from it's mysterious point of origin - up into my physical body and my physiology - up into my conscious mind and my awareness - further up and finally out in the form of movement, gesture, facial expression, vocalization, etc.
One of the most important things I have learned in maintaining this understanding is that the key word here is "appropriate." We feel such a wide variety of things, many of them quite strongly. If on some level we believe that any of these feelings indicates a need for a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g other than expression, we are most likely going to make someone or something else the object of our desire in order to satisfy the "need" we think needs to be satisfied. Unfortunately, that's the epitome of inappropriate expression. Appropriate expression involves maintaining an understanding of oneself as complete unto oneself, needing nothing, yet experiencing so so much.
All of our experiences are energy, energy which wants to move. To allow it to be, to strive to open those energetic pathways that facilitate appropriate expression and to strive to starve those energetic pathways that reinforce inappropriate expression is to surrender to the voice of creation itself and allow it's song to be sung through you. To think you ARE the song is ego-maniacal: to think you ARE the anger you feel is absurd. You are not. Nor are you the love, nor the grief, nor the ecstasy. You are not any of it. You are nothing, all of it put together, pan-fried, eaten, digested, expelled and composted beyond recognition into the yearning seedling. Don't even bother trying to understand that, I don't.
The point is, you're not the anger. Nor the love. You are the backdrop upon which these things are projected, you are the channel through which those particular energies of life may pass.
Everyone will, of course, be the channel for different energies. Depending on the choices we've made, what energetic pathways we've opened and what experiences we've sought out, the nature of the energy that will want to come and move through us, to express itself through us, will be different. None of it is any better than any other, although it's easy to label the different kinds of energy 'higher' and 'lower' energy. While there is a massive difference between the eager greediness of a sugar-addict and the carefully cultivated desire of a meditation-addict, one isn't better than the other. They have different qualities, and so they have different effects when experienced and expressed. I would argue that a desire for meditation is preferable to a desire for sugar, because of the effect on the physical body. In this case, an 'appropriate' expression to the experience of a strong desire for sugar (assuming that one's intention is overall health and wellbeing) would be feel the neediness, invite it in, and express it in some way that doesn't involve a chocolate bar. If the desire is simply the natural feeling of hunger being misunderstood, then eating a healthy food option is an appropriate expression. If the desire does not involve hunger at all but is simply the addiction talking, then I find that talking to oneself and doing a bit of dramatic self narration can be a helpful appropriate expression.
"Oh man do I want chocolate... Damn. It's right there, I could totally eat it, oh how good would that taste. Am I going to? Nope. Why not? Because this feeling will pass and the more consistent desire to be healthy will come back eventually but DAMNIT I WANNA EAT THAT CANDY."
It's fun, it's silly, and eventually all of the energy of that desire has been expressed and I'm no longer experiencing that desire.
In the case of a desire to sit still and meditate, most of the time it's probably appropriate to do just that. However, meditation can also be used to avoid dealing with problems in relationships, or to reinforce the idea that one is spiritually superior to others. If, for example, the desire to go and sit still by yourself shows up when you're in the middle of a difficult conversation with a loved one, it can be tricky to determine the underlying motivation. Is the desire to meditate, in that context, emerging from a clear feeling of love and respect for the other person, a feeling which motivates one to find clarity within oneself so that the conflict can be resolved? If so, meditate away! But what if the desire to step away from the conversation is emerging from a feeling of being afraid of really looking at whatever issues that conversation is bringing up? In that case, meditation is being used as an escape, and one should stay with the conversation and go into those places one is afraid to look at.
In my personal experience, I feel an absurd amount of things in any given day, many of them quite strongly. If I don't express them, I feel the energy get stuck in my body and in my mind, and I keep feeling it over and over until I express it, or until it forces itself into expression in the form of a physical problem or psychological neuroses. (Of which I have many.)
Also in my personal experience, I do not feel supported in finding appropriate expressions for these feelings by many of the public spaces and organizations of our society. Much of mainstream society has pathologized feeling itself, reducing the spectrum of human experience to a narrow spectrum of individual economic and social ambition, exclusive and conditional friend/family affection, possessive romantic love, and vicarious catharsis. This is the most utterly bogus load of crap ever.
We need shouting-spaces. We need crying-parks. We need running-lanes on the sidewalk and screaming-comes in the middle of public plazas. Throw away the prozac and put a bunch of punching bags in the middle of times square. NUMB IS NOT THE ANSWER. To numb oneself merely renders one unaware of the energy of life, it doesn't 'fix' anything. And lying on the couch while somebody asks you questions about your childhood may not be the appropriate expression for you. It may be, who knows? But that's just one option. The other option is to stick you head underwater and scream, or turn on music and dance, or stand utterly still with your arms upraised and tears streaming down your face.
Why are these things not ok? Why can't we do them in public? I feel these kinds of thing in public, and then someone asks me how I am and I feel like I have to say: "Fine." FUCK THAT. I'm not fine. I may be heartbroken, tickled pink, exuberant, contemplative or inquisitive, but chances are pretty good I am not fucking fine. I'm only "fine" like, 1% of the time.
If you feel the same way, please share this post. Or write your own, about how YOU feel. Let's allow ourselves to feel what it to be alive, and share that with each other. I don't enjoy walking around enacting a performance of neutrality because that's been deemed appropriate while in other places men are beating women because that's deemed appropriate and people are killing each other because that's deemed appropriate. We are not our feelings, but we do need to express them.
Life is meant to move through us. Don't hold onto it, it's not you and it's not yours. Let yourself feel it, whatever it is, fully and completely. Then let it steam, fizzle, slink or yodel it's way out of you in whatever way is appropriate for the health and well-being and you and everyone around you. And if it makes some people uncomfortable, well... I think that's ok. The definition of "health and well-being" is dynamic and ever-changing, and it's not always synonymous with 'comfort.'
Sunday, June 23, 2013
From my current perspective, it feels like I'm only now beginning to see what this journey is all about. When it began, I very much thought it was about 'Becoming.' Although it wasn't clear exactly what I was going to become, I felt very strongly that by launching myself abroad and taking such a massive leap of faith I was embarking on a journey that would result in radical self-transformation. In retrospect, there was a flavor of desperation in the way I set out on this path - perhaps similar to our stereotypical idea of a man's mid-life crisis: he leaves his wife and kids, buys a motorcycle, and tries to forge a new identity because (for whatever reason) he can't accept the one he has.
At this point, I think I'm beginning to see that this whole thing I'm doing is more about 'Acceptance.' I've gotten myself into some fairly unsustainable situations along the way, in many ways because I've been heavily invested in my own personal myth of 'Becoming...'
...the idea that both my individual life and the world at large were fundamentally flawed and not ok as they were, and my self (as it was) was incapable of fixing either one of them. But by taking such a big risk I was enacting a demonstration of trust that the universe would respond to by transforming me into my new self, a self who would then be able to fix all the broken parts of both my individual life and the world at large.
In other words - I felt, deep down, and really, really strongly, that I wasn't good enough as I was. I felt I had to change, I felt I had to become something before I could be ok. Because my feelings about the world are just projections of my feelings about myself, I also felt that the world had to change, and that the world was not ok as it was. I wrapped all these feelings up into a ball and drop-kicked it over to Australia and, in my subconscious, I allowed this journey and this training program to represent the solution: by doing this, I was finally going to be able to fix myself.
This whole time I've been expecting that big transformation. I kept looking for it out of the corner of my eye, never exactly sure what I was looking for but knowing I'd recognize it when it came. It never came, obviously, and it's not going to come... I'm still me, and always will be. There's no solution, because there's no problem - life isn't broken.
I still feel like it's broken sometimes, and I still feel like I'm broken sometimes - it's a habit I've indulged for a long time. But not I know that there's no 'answer,' there's no ultimate goal or achievement to search for, because the search itself is motivated by and built upon a flawed perception of reality. I'm just trying to remember that now, and do my best to be present to what is, as it is, and let go of the idea that life can fundamentally be fixed or improved. I mean, it can still be superficially fixed or improved: like getting a better job, or recovering after an injury, or making amends with someone you love. But what initially motivated me to begin this journey was a deep-rooted feeling that life (i.e. me) was somehow fundamentally flawed - that I was broken and no amount of superficial changes would fix me, I had to become an entirely new me before anything could be fixed. So it's a shift of perception on a foundational level, not a superficial one... which means I'll still be shouting "Hooray!" if I win the lottery. :-)
So, that's where I'm at at the moment. I tried to give you the Reader's Digest version, but it's still quite a mouthful. You're so right about the poetry - I've got poetry-debt to quite a few people.I'll do what I can to repay yours now, with interest.
Shall we dance,
with exquisite tenderness
we care to express -
or sit still,
and move less,
it's our presence
that says it best?
Should we move,
filled with truth of
"Good God we're alive
and there's so much to do!"
or just be,
and be soothed
by the pulse in our veins
and heartbeat's simple truth?
must we insist
on the choice
between either the two?
When we've stillness in movement
and strong motion in calm,
when we position ourselves
as a bridge of awareness
which used to be either
When the fact
that there's nothing to do
erases the script
of what we thought we once knew,
only then can life
and players alike
in this supremely light-hearted
Friday, June 7, 2013
I rush in with words outstretched,
heart held in my hand.
Devoid of sense-making
and too-full of feeling,
descriptions pour from
all my wounded places,
coloring the ever-changing scenery.
Bitterness emerges immediately,
self-doubt clawing at me
like some dirty, snarling
maggot of addiction,
smearing wide swaths of my blood
across the page.
I write on, persistent.
I'm not always pretty,
to myself especially,
but also to others.
I'm not always ugly, either.
I'm not always anything,
neither love and light
nor fear and dark.
nameless as the patient union
of life and death themselves.
and am remade
a thousand times a day,
imagining a continuous trajectory of being
only because my cells,
just like the earth in the body of god,
are spinning too fast
for me to make sense of their motion.
I relinquish my hold on my self
and allow a resting of potential,
sick to death
of new age dogma
and old age karma
all at once.
"FUCK YOU BOTH"
screams one of the smallest voices inside,
petulant and angry
that he was born into a world
where some men offer ceaseless prayers
to their own greedy pocket-idols
while they feed bullets of deception
into sleek, shiny misinformation-machines...
"Fuck you both"
says that smallest voice,
scared and sad to be born into a world
where so many seem to prefer
to turn themselves into cringing lapdogs
or anonymous bigots en masse
rather than take responsibility
and shoulder the difficult burden
of their own hearts...
"fuck you both"
whispers that smallest voice,
all the blissfull bullshit to be true,
desiring nothing so much as escape.
Done apologizing for being,
the heart of the world be healed.
Perhaps it's better off as it is,
for who am I to deem it broken?
Who am I to claim
to have deciphered
our global cardiactic cartography,
much less my own?
'This too shall pass'
is a truism always applicable,
although uttering those words
will not always
ease the sting of the moment.
and I feel hard...
for I am a poet
and by definition
that's part of the job.
I also feel soft.
I also feel everything in between,
and other sensations
you could not even begin to imagine.
Perhaps I am nothing more
than a funnel for the emotions
of the universe,
allowing for a sort of
concentrated expression of existence.
then I am performing admirably.
The snarling maggot inside
settles back into slumber,
and fades away to nothing
as he drifts off to sleep,
no more true
than the opium-induced ecstasy
of an addict,
and fulfilling exactly the same function:
"I gotta get my fix, man."
I'm not interested
in rebounding from
one overwhelm to the next,
the spectrum of dualism,
nor am I interested in taking refuge
in spiritual materialism
or some escapist, narcotic religion.
Acknowledging that my judgement
of both is born of the transient understandings
of my small self,
nevertheless I do not
see either one as a solution -
- for there is nothing to be solved.
While there are muscles to be flexed and stretched,
meals to be eaten and dishes to be washed,
boards to be sawed,
holed to be drilled,
money to be made
poems to be written
wounds to be patched
and flawed systems to be re-imagined...
we may find a grace
in the doing of all of this
which belies the need
to do it in the first place.
Yet we will, for we are here,
and were it not for the dirty dishes in the sink
and the dirty laundry
of our current shared global situation,
we would have no chance
to enact the performance of this grace,
that despite all those snarling maggots
that seem all too-real,
despite everything done
in the name of 'God' or 'Freedom'
that in fact makes a mockery of both...
despite these illusions of
the myriad of inadequacies, imperfections,
and injustices of life
there is a dignity, a rightness,
and an essential integrity,
which somehow encompasses
the whole of it.
the resounding "YES!"
is never a "NO,"
no matter who's being addressed.
all of the bullshit and the pain
is enfolded alongside the joy,
and we've no need to choose
between the two,
or insist on one
at the expense of the other.
Let us become big enough
for all of it to be,
for only then
can we make our way forward
the same tired scenes
we've all seen a thousand times.
Let us allow all of ourselves to be,
and rest in the steady breath of
"I don't know...
yet here I am."
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
This simple, exquisite piercing
which rends me -
which comes from no place
other than myself
and is a mystery to me.
This blade of love
which cuts me,
which sheathes itself
in my chest,
leaving me gaping
I try to place my hands
on the hilt of the blade,
even as I reach
not knowing whether I seek
to pull this piercing out of me
or to drive it fully home.
All I know
is this piercing is my joy.
Through this piercing
my being is opened
to a broad expanse of possibility:
a feelingplace I did not know existed
before soul's blood was drawn.
All I know
is that I am fulfilled
through the truth of this communion:
all the fleeting falseness
of myself is laid low
and I am exposed -
exposed and opened
to receive the light
that is left in it's place.
It is this piercing
which at times pulls me away
from the shared space of community,
away from the simplicity
and complexity of daily life,
away from any sense of identity
other than that of a divine splinter
lodged somewhere deep
within the flesh of my own heart.
And it is this piercing
which pushes me,
demanding that I return everyday
to that space of commercials
and crowded sidewalks,
that space of hurried meals
eaten in between items on an agenda:
that space of handshakes and hugs,
that space where you and I meet
and where we seek to come together
to create something.
That space wherein
I find it so very hard
to remember this piercing,
to be conscious of it's integrity.
That space wherein
my resistance itself
becomes the only thing
keeping me from love.