Saturday, February 23, 2013

Don't fix me. Just be with me.

I'm reading an excellent book right now called "Instinct for Freedom" by Alan Clements. As I read I'm struck (again) by something I often encounter - how pervasive the avoidance of anything painful, dark, or difficult is in so much of contemporary western 'spirituality.'

Perhaps I should simply say "the contemporary new age movement," but I don't really have any idea what that is. Of course, I don't really have any idea what "contemporary western spirituality" is, either. So I suppose I'll say this:

I'm a vivacious kind of guy. I'm a poet, a dancer, and a creative individual, who, at my best, embraces life wholeheartedly. This includes the full spectrum, I aspire to embracing all the unpleasant stuff as well. So when I'm out and about, as opposed to in the alone-zone, I often meet and strike up relationships with other people who are creative, vivacious, and seem to possess a similar zeal and zest for life. While plenty of folks I've met along my journey share my enthusiasm for an unfiltered experience of themselves, a large number of them seem to want to 'fix' me when I'm down.

In speaking to them about my depression, my feelings of hopelessness, fatigue, grief, or anger, oftentimes the very same people who have joyfully shared a dance or a poem with me - without for a second judging me or telling me my joy or my enthusiasm was "wrong" or somehow "invalid" - will suddenly transform from friend to guru and start spouting flow-and-glow dogma about how abundance will come to me as soon as I allow it, and in reality life is nothing but joy.

This confounds me. In my experience, life is nothing but... life. Labeling it "joy," or "pain," or even "love" limits us and inevitably leads to invalidating one aspect of our experience or another. My grief is precious to me, and I cultivate it and tend to it, as I do my joy. The weather of my being is ever-changing, and I feel intuitively that if I am ever to meet another in a place of true, heartfelt compassion I must care strongly for all of my being.

I aspire to much more than a life of "abundance..." especially because I'm not really sure what that means. I have a life of abundance, right now. I'm abundantly broke, abundantly musical, abundantly homeless and abundantly thankful. Ultimately, I aspire to meeting others in their places of deepest pain and sharing that space with them. It has been through others sharing their heartfelt presence with me in my agony that I have known I'm not alone and thus ultimately ok, and I would like to offer others the same.

I believe that as I evolve in my ability to simply offer my loving, heartfelt presence to others, as I grow in my ability to truly BE with them, where they are, then I will encounter deeper and deeper opportunities to practice this. Life has reflected this to me so far, and I trust it will continue to do so.

The miraculous thing about about this heartfelt presence is that as I cultivate this practice, "I" am less and less present during these precious moments. In the hand-holding of grief and the sharing of tears, my heart opens spontaneously and there is a kind of dissolving of me, a dissolving which frees me. This dissolution is simultaneously a coming-to-be, an emerging of some sort of self-realization I do not understand, and perhaps never will. It is something I cannot will, at best I can simply create the conditions for it to happen and strive to be present to it if and when it does.

I feel I am life itself in those moments... similarly to truly sharing space and meeting someone in the midst of a contact improv jam, although perhaps richer for the stillness and sanctity of grief.

I suppose this article is an entreaty to so many westerners swimming along the river of flow-and-glow, love-and-light mythology: friends, do not turn away from your pain. In turning away from our darkness it is inevitable that you turn away from wholeness, inevitable that you turn away from so many of us (humans) who are struggling. Pain, grief, struggle, weariness, confusion, heartache, despair... these are valid. They are true, and worthy, and right, and good, just as good as joy and laughter. Indeed, on some level, (as if there were levels, as if reality was stacked upon itself like some enormous 12-tiered cheesecake... oh, english, how limited you are sometimes) ...indeed, on some level, they are not other than joy and laughter.

They are part of the dynamic weather patterns of our experience, and it is only by going into them that we are able to learn and grow from them. So if I am courageous enough to share my tears with you, do not seek to turn off the tap. If I let myself be vulnerable, and rest against you when I feel heavy, please do not try to lighten me.

Be with me. Love me. Meet me where I am. Practice this sacred art, one we all must practice if we are to weave our spiritual life into our political life, if we are to bravely confront the injustices of this world and be willing to look, and REALLY look, and not shut our eyes to what we see.

I hope to someday be present for a human being who has truly suffered. I would someday stand with those who are confronting real injustice, I would side with them, I would risk my so-called privilege, my security, and my comfort, I would step squarely into the truth that as long as any one of us is oppressed, not a single one of us is free.

I have not suffered in the way so many have, yet I grieve. My heart aches to the breaking point, and often it breaks. And often when it does I feel as if I cannot take it, as if I cannot possibly feel so much... it feels like I will break, like I am breaking. And I am. I am breaking as a seed breaks, as the life inside of me, bit by bit, year by year, stirs and grows upwards and outwards.

To any and all who would seek to fix my grief, to re-orient me along your preferred track of "always choose light, always choose love," I tell you that I AM always choosing love, god dammit  And sometimes, (quite often in my experience) choosing love hurts like hell.

So if I open myself to you and share my growing pains with you, don't tell me I'm wrong to grow that way. Just be with me. Listen to me say whatever I need to say in that moment, bear witness as I struggle to navigate the precarious switchbacks of self-realization. Hold my hand. And if at any point you have the urge to fix me, or to do anything other than simply just be with me... don't. Just notice that urge, and be curious about the possibility that my pain is stirring up something inside of you that you would rather not deal with.

So, so, so many people in my life HAVE done this for me. I have been held by more people than I can remember, certainly more than enough for me to have a sense of how powerful such heartfelt presence is, certainly more than enough to inspire me to want to do the same.

To all of you who have held me - thank you for your grace, thank you for your friendship, thank you for your compassion. I am blessed to know you. I will pay it forward.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lover, please -

Lover, please -

crack open the top of my skull,
turn me upside down and shake me.

Stand me back up on my feet
and we'll look at the pile of things on the floor together.
Then we'll make a collage
and hang it on the wall,
where I can examine it at my leisure
and walk away whenever I wish.

crack open my sternum
and pull the breastbone apart.
Attach tethers to my heart,
and run long lines
of invisible thread
to all four corners of the world.

Run lines to the sun, the moon, and the stars,
run lines to the wind and the rain.
Affix me to the waves, to the trees, and to the mountains -
string me up as the world's puppet
and let all the truest things,
from now on,
decide how I am to dance.

I would be the world's marionette,
and I want only lovers
who would help me abandon myself.

Bind me to the earth's integrity,
I have none of my own.
Whatever true things move through me are only passing through,
I have yet to master the unwavering authenticity of starlight.

God save me from the cities,
from the dollars,
from the sense.
God save us from television,
from billboards,
from secondhand smoke
and secondhand hatred,
secondhand apathy
and secondhand lust.

God deliver us into spaces true,
ensconce us in cocoons of validity
and allow us to be reborn as butterflies,
wings awhirl with chaos and change
and flights unaffected
by the bullshit strewn about.

Lover, please if you can -
tether me to the true things of the world.
Empty me of myself,
and tie me to something real.

From now on,
I would move only
when those heartstrings are tugged,
every step a joyful surrender
to the subtle movements
streaming through the soul of the world.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Life Drives Me to Drink

Certain men 
leave their mark
upon the rest of us,
performing heroic feats
while affirming all the while:
"Not me, but this."

Vision, squirming it's way with vitality
into the crevices of our certainty:
the potency of belief.

"See what I do! Now look beyond the doing,
and the do-er."

Any man who utters such words with integrity,
let us turn to him for guidance.
For such a one has learned the secret 
of seeing beyond himself.

I ache in the presence of such men.
I try to stand as close as possible,
along with everyone else.

We all want a taste,
we crave the nearness
of such a soul,
love to spend time 
with a human being
whose incubation has ended,
a man whose life-fire
no longer slumbers in shell
but has burst outwards and,
with seemingly inexhaustible heat,
has the power to warm the world.

How long can we be satisfied 
with the secret fire
burning in the breast of another?

We whet our appetites 
with the accomplishments of such men,
and our wine-tasting is dangerous
for their intoxicating draught is addictive.

Drink too much, too often,
and eventually nothing else
will quench your thirst.
From then on,
the search
for the source of this wine 
will consume you,
driving you deeper and deeper within yourself
until the clarity of your desperation
brings light
to the dusky vineyards inside
and such sweet nectar flows forth
that you,

with seemingly inexhaustible heat,
proceed to warm the world.

Sit Still, and Breathe the Breath of a Pheonix

Ants navigate amongst mountainous pebbles
as I sit above them,

True calm is fleeting.

When inner quietude emerges,

the spacious sea-waters of my being lie still.

However-so briefly,

every heard sound and every skin-skimming sensation
drop within 
without a splash 
and sink rapturously out of sight.

Where they go is a mystery.

I imagine it's where wind blows,
the same infinite space each
inhale and exhalation eternally die into
and endlessly rouse out of,
ever-changing with each renewal.

What About Dreams?

Yellow pants I don't own,
dancing in a place I've never been.
Familiar eyes lift to mine
and I feel my dream-life begin.

Some dreams feel real,
the experience of imaginal me
robust with validity
and ripe fodder for inspiration.

At times I've wondered:
"Where do I place them?",
those significant experiences singing with truth...
how do I think about in waking life
what happens while asnooze?

This morning,
I don't think it matters.
Just as well wonder why birds chatter,
or how to think about a moonrise
after it's gone.
Life moves, ever and ever on.

No stopping, 
and all sense-making rendered irrelevant
in the truth of the dance.
I live for the hell of it.

I live to live,
I live for life.
I tried asking why,
tried spilling my blood with the question
until my veins ran dry.

It didn't work.

Not because of elusive truth
lurking hidden sight-unseen,
but because there is no answer.
A dream is...
A dream.

So what does that mean?

It means we'll make sense however we wish.
I met a woman from LA 
who swore she knew 'how it worked,'
offered to explain it to me.
I declined.

Not because I doubted the conviction in her eyes,
but because I'm too busy living now 
to waste any more time on 'why.'

Last night,
in whatever truth is mine,
I was blessed with strong hands
that touched me so surely
all weight was abandoned,
and my love found it could fly.