Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Last night at my brother's house, I ate apples and honey to usher in a sweet New Year. Today, the first day of 5769 in the Jewish calendar, I meditated on the word Shalom. It has three translations: hello, goodbye and peace.

Shall om.
Om. This is the world I usually meditate on. It's a sacred and mystical symbol in the Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religions, written on the tongues of children in honey when they are born. Most say it means truth. In Tamil, it means 'yes, yes it is.'

Are the parallels lost on you?

Joseph Campbell spent his entire life writing The Golden Bough, thirteen volumes outlining the similarities between religions. Someone should have made that mandatory reading. How have we reached the place of seeing only the differences between religions, to the point where shalom is thought to be unattainable and war in god's name has become a just cause?

We have lost the taste of honey on our tongues -- the taste of love and compassion --and replaced it with the bitter taste of fear.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

are you a boy or a girl?

Age five. Pixie Petunia was one of my names. Hair cut short, running free all summer without a shirt like one of my three brothers. I felt infinite possibility then.

"Are you a boy or a girl?" I got this question a lot and I was unphased by it. Until once it was hurled as an insult by a gang of older kids who surrounded me on my way home from kindergarten. I felt hostage to -- what? those kids? the confining definitions of gender? being forced to declare myself as one or the other?

I cried, sensing for the first time that there was something wrong with me. They put a dent in my identity.

After that, I wondered what made me a boy or a girl. I loved to climb trees. I refused to wear dresses, insisting on Billy the Kid jeans from the boys department. I built and set off rockets in the school yard and my mom said that I was born with a ball in my hand.

So you tell me. Was I a boy or a girl?


When a ball is rolling towards me, I kick it, and my body springs alive, dashing round the bases. Recess in 6th grade. First picked, playing with abandon and then... the crack of my head against concrete, sound reverberating into the universe. So long ago and still I hear it.

What is the sound of cracking open?

Opening to what?

I often have the feeling of enough. I have enough stuff. Overstuffed. And yet there is never enough food. Four chews and a swallow. The speed of eating, like running the bases. A race for second, for seconds.

So what is this hole I try to fill with eating and what is the connection to wholeness? to openness? to enough?

signs of us

In stillness, I follow my breath and scan how my body feels. Just noticing changes it. Lying on my back, the gravity tugs me closer to the earth, heavy, solid.

And there is a pulsing in my sinus passage. I've never been aware of my heart beat there, so I stay with it and consider the word sinus -- 'sign us.'

Where is there a sign of us, of me, in the world? Where have I left my mark? Is it in the playgrounds I passed on the way here? Or in my child who I just dropped off for a 150 mile bike ride? What is the print, ultimately, that I want to make in my passage through this life?

There is so much time devoted in daily chores that remove all signs of us: washing and folding laundry to tuck in closed drawers; scrubbing dishes to stack on cabinet shelves; wiping stains from the kitchen counter; shredding junk mail for recycling...I seem to spend more time erasing of signs of us, racing through my days never noticing my breath, my passage.

Then there is the garbage. I try to picture the 1,460 pounds of trash I produce each year and wonder if this will be the biggest mark I'll make in the world.

So what else is it I want to create? This is the question I've been asking myself for the past five years, growing restless now as I sit without an answer. Sometimes I think that breathing is enough -- that it's all that is.

And then a voice from the back of my head asks again, "What is the breadth of what I want to create?" Is it enough to leave the world better than I found it, or should there be a sign of us - of me - of us?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

'meant to be' isn't what i meant

I'm the type that gets seasick, if you call that a 'type.' It's not that I need to be in control. In fact, I'm cut out for the sea. I've always liked the feeling of being rocked, even of drifting. I am a bit of a drifter. But I drift with some kind of rudder and tac, aligning with an inner purpose often unknown to me. Funny how surrendering to the wave can look like a decision or intention.

Faith comes into the equation quite early. Faith that where ever the journey takes me can offer another way to live my passion. Don't mistake this with fate. I'm not the type to say that everything is 'meant to be.' It's more that everything provides an opportunity for growth. This I believe.

When you're feeling seasick, you should look to the horizon. I can relate to this. Like now, when I'm feeling a bit nauseated with my work, I look off to the horizon to steady myself, to surrender, to find faith in what's next.

I've been waiting for some vision to strike me. Some aha moment. But it hasn't come. Instead, I feel a restlessness, and somewhere from the back of my head, there is a voice that speaks up more frequently. A call that draws me to the horizon.

Ironically, my feet are firmly rooted now. The only thing afloat is my desire.

tipping point

I've never heard this sound before.

Sitting on a bench facing a mangrove of algae-covered water, coated green, more than 50 ducks are pecking at the water's surface. I close my eyes and listen. Almost like heavy raindrops falling in a pond.

A woman walks by, glances at the carpeted water and mutters, "disgusting."

How differently we see it. I find it beautiful, here in the center of a city yet feeling as remote as last week's vacation on the Cape.

If there were just one duck pecking for food, I'd never hear it. But multiplied by 50, it's almost deafening against the backdrop of train horns and interstate traffic.

When is that tipping point of sound, the shift from silence to cover-your-ears loud? At what point do I take notice? What am I missing that's right before me if I would only stop to listen?

too much

Sometimes there's just too much shit to deal with.

I walked Bella early this morning just as I do every morning. I had 2 bags with me - enough for both poops. I dropped those bags in the school yard can that was overflowing with bottles and wrappers.

Then she pooped again.

Not a newspaper bag in sight. No shovel to bury it. No way to pick it up. She unburdened herself just at the mouth of the driveway at Isabella's house. I had this fleeting thought that I could just leave it there. After all, they were Republicans. And at some point, all the crap that the Republicans dish out should come to their doorstep, you know?

But in the end, I couldn't just walk away. I hightailed it home, grabbed another bag and hurried back to the scene of the crime.

I've been picking up shit all week. At least that's how it seems....


Starting in savasana, arms lengthened to the sides, there is this place of in-between where I resist the letting go. Where I resist the absolute stillness. Even the background 'om' is an irritant.

If I wait it out, the sounds of trucks and outside noise move from distractions to actual pathways -- portals to someplace deeper. The truck is not a truck, but the pulse of the universe, celestial.

My body is weighted to the floor, anchored solid, heavy, unmoving. Unmovable.

Then comes a line of warmth, radiating across the top edge of my ribs, and I can will the me that's within my body to peel away from the physical as pure energy. I remember the movie 'Ghost,' how when the people die, their souls move out. And this is what it's like. A ball of energy hovering above somersaults forward through space. It flattens, then spins like a frisbee across distance. And then slows and lifts like Tinkerbell.

My body below is dead weight. Shoulders pressed into the floor. Still. Unmovable.

Breathing is slow and easy. And the heat near my heart remains.

Upon suggestion of thought, the energy returns to my body, sliding into that crease of warmth. It spreads across my chest, my arms, down into my legs. Not until it pushes into my hands and fingers and into my feet do I wiggle my extremities, reunited as one. The limitless contained for now within a body, my body.