Day 33: Someone Special

This dream of someone special drags me down

like a black horse with lantern eyes

to an underground cavern steeped

in chill and ankle-deep water.

Somewhere a pipe drips and echoes

as the mare tosses her head,

and the light seems to flicker.

This happy ending detoured

halfway to paradise.

Were we ever headed that way?

or was it just the hungry cry

of my bones that put hooks

in your heart and called it love,

waiting for you to drag me home,

bleeding all the while.

I’ve touched pleasure

till it’s sore and swollen

then shamed it before

the world for ceasing delivery.

This isn’t the love I promised

or dreamed of soaking in

till my fingers got wrinkly.

 

This passion demands and aches

and shows my love

by bending my ribs outward

and asking you to cover

my gaping need.

So without you cold rushes in,

dust and pieces of gravel

stabbing my innards,

even in a room full of friends.

I guess love just hurts.

 

With you near, I had you so high

on the pedestal I built

I could barely make out your face

let alone hold your hand.

As you in turn placed me up

we lost track of who was higher

and who was lower,

and even when we met in the middle

it was only to notice our reflection

in the other’s eyes was gone.

 

Equal was sacrificed gladly for love,

since only love would satisfy.

But like settlers off the boat

with rich prairie fantasies,

we’d marveled at love’s possibilities

and found ourselves on bare, dusty ground.

There was always better,

until there became here.

 

Let me learn one day to love

love’s humble rolling hills

and level playing fields,

to lose track of paradise

in a kind word.

May I seek fullness not

by cracking ribs outward

but by noting the stars

they already contain.

May I see them so well

that one day if we meet again,

instead of looking for ourselves,

we seek out the comets

in each other’s eyes.

With gauze on our chests,

may we take our time

and instead of stripping love naked,

making ready to devour,

may we stop long enough

to politely ask its name,

and listen with great tenderness

to its story.

 

 

 

P.S. If you like, check out my Etsy store and support The Humane League!

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/SoftSpotAccessories?ref=l2-shopheader-name

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Day 10: The Work I Love

I’m writing so much these days. I absolutely adore it. After such a long personal fallow season of writing only diaries and prayers, to be making poems, overflowing with ideas – it’s such a rich time.

I’m watching the first season of Smash, a show I watched religiously when it first came out a few years ago. Seeing people working towards their dreams, following their hearts; it’s such a timeless, sweet theme. Well, most of the time.

When I saw Zootopia last year, despite thoroughly enjoying it, I couldn’t help but think: “Ugh, Disney, another wide-eyed ingenue pursuing her dream. Really?”

It can definitely be overdone and oversimplified, especially in family movies – the endless exhortation to “Follow Your Heart” can be dry and flat, and even frustrating when your passion or interests are particularly elusive. So what is it about now, about this show that makes my sentimental heart flutter against my ribs when last year I might have turned up my nose in disgust? Continue reading “Day 10: The Work I Love”

Day 5: Passion and Zen

My 14 year old brother is one of the most passionate people I know. He eats, sleeps, breathes, wears, reads, and polishes cars. Sometimes it seems there’s not much room in his brain for anything else. I don’t think I’ve ever known someone so single-minded in their love for something.

Okay *shuffles feet* maybe I have.

Today he had to write a poem for class based around an abstract idea of his choosing. He picked passion. A wise and pertinent choice, I thought.

I tried to come up with a few exercises to help him clear his mind and let him experience his passion in its raw, pure state. “What does that look like? How does it move? How does it feel?”

He wrote such a joyous, full-hearted poem about his love for cars, about being carried away on the wings of something like that. About losing yourself in devotion.

One of the things I am most passionate about is spirituality, in every form. And one of my favourite forms is Buddhism. I’ve been meditating on and off for ten years, with fervent passion and zeal, seeking the bliss and peace of enlightenment. The more I studied about Buddhism, the more I wondered if my passionate fiery personality was something to be quashed. Was my intense sensitivity the root of my suffering? The reason I struggled to get to the mat every day? I didn’t know how to stop feeling so much. I could watch my emotions; sometimes I could even have the awareness that they would soon pass. But I couldn’t get rid of them.

It’s only recently that I’ve started to realize without being so passionate, I never would have sought out meditation practice. I never would have read book after book after book on Buddhism, Taoism, Yoga, and Sufism. I wouldn’t still be getting up at dawn to keep my commitment to a 31 day yoga challenge. My feelings aren’t the problem, quite the reverse. Me being over-dramatic or overly sensitive is what has made me into the person I am and keeps me pursuing new knowledge and realization. It keeps me working ever harder to be the best version of myself. Passion keeps me moving in pursuit of peace.

Passionately Zen. It’s a bit of an oxymoron, I admit. But Zen is also about learning how to live with ease amid apparent opposites – being and non-being, Oneness and the Void.

So there must be a way to harmonize my fire and zest for life with the calm, observing part of myself I work so hard to cultivate. Can I learn to listen so closely (and yet with ease) that I can pick out the moment when the notes of passion and peace come together to produce one soul-stirring chord? What would that sound like?

For me, I’m beginning to think it sounds like poetry.

 

my heart is burning

under Shiva’s dancing feet

to limitless ash

 

 

I try to ignore

longing to go to the woods

yet the flute plays on

 

 

P.S. I now have an Etsy store up and running, in an attempt to raise a bit of money for The Humane League, and express my creativity at the same time. Check it out if you’re interested. Thank you very much🙂

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Why I Wish I Was Santa Claus

santa

(Photo is from Raymond Brigg’s Father Christmas)

In the summer I was lucky enough to spend the weekend at a cabin on the edge of a lake with a couple of friends and at one point I happened to say: “You know what I’d do if I could do anything in the world?”

My friend said: “Be Santa.”

Which is an unlikely response, wouldn’t you say? And just goes to show how well they know me, because they were one hundred per cent correct. For a long time I’ve felt deeply envious of the man in the red suit and longed to hitch up Dasher and Dancer to the sleigh, which might be an uncommon aspiration for a twenty-something woman. Not to mention an impossible one.

So I wanted to reflect on this further: why exactly do I want to be Father Christmas? It’s not that I want to fly around the world in one night or live any closer to the North pole or even give presents to everyone in the world. I don’t want to do his job. I want to be Santa. I want to feel the way I imagine he would feel. I want to be jolly, wise, generous, and loving, to discover within myself a depth of wisdom and a deep-seated well-being and share it with others. To be so full of love that my arms overflow and the only logical solution is to give it away.

Maybe it’s the same reason retirement and old age appeal to me so much – it’s the idea of having already made it through the major battles of my life, passed the torch, and forged profound relationships, so all that’s left is to help the younger ones through their trials. It’s the idea of being a safe haven, someone people associate with comfort and refuge. I want to be someone people can tell all their secrets to, trust with their darkest shames and sharpest desires, not necessarily to get advice but just to have a soft place to fall. And I want to be able to receive everything with a loving smile, a warm hug, and a sincere wish for that person’s well-being, and then maybe we’ll eat some cookies after.

It’s possible I’m overstating Santa’s job description here, and even that retirement might be a bit of a let down for me after this. But I saw a lesson from someone I look up to that validated it for me. Gabby Bernstein said “Be unapologetic about how you want to feel.” Rather than think about what I want to do (which gets me nowhere and makes me stressed out) I get much clearer when I ask myself how I want to feel. I focus on that feeling so I’ll recognize it when it shows up, whatever external shape it takes. Then I ask God to point me towards whatever will help me achieve that feeling.

So here it goes: I want to feel like Santa. I want to be that loving, accepting energy that looks at others with so much compassion for the pain they’re in, and then smiles with a twinkle in his eye at all the good that is coming their way. I want to fill myself with love and wisdom, and then give it all away. I want to hand out joy and a feeling of belonging to everyone I encounter.

That’s what I want, and I’m not going to tone it down or apologize for it.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

 

The Purpose of my Spiritual Life

coexist

I’ve been fascinated with all forms of spirituality since I was fourteen, which is helpful when I don’t really feel like taking the time to meditate or get out of bed and pray first thing in the morning. Something keeps me coming back, even when I try to skip for a few days. It has been the true, constant love of my life for ten years, and I seem only to get more curious about all the ways people connect with the Divine as time goes by.

But when I’m surrounded by people who don’t feel the way I do about this quest for self-growth and radical surrender, when people look at me like I’m crazy or just laugh at my efforts, I like to take a moment to reflect on exactly why I’m doing all this. Why all the study? Why the exposure to so many teachings? Why all the meditations and prayers and affirmations? Why the Pinterest board with almost 2000 quotes from spiritual teachers?

Well, first, it’s my passion. I do it because I don’t know how not to do it. Because I feel compelled to do it. It’s the thread that has run through the last decade of my life.

Second, I want to be the best person I can be in this life. I want to learn how to minimize my flaws and enhance my virtues so I can do as little harm as possible, and perhaps even put some light into the world. Spirituality is the method I’ve chosen to hone myself and become a kinder, more considerate and wise human being. And it works for me. I can see every day where my practice helps me to admit where I’m wrong in an argument, or be more present when I’m just hanging out with my brothers, or watch my inner speech when I’m dwelling in guilt or self-pity. I find it so much easier to relate to all kinds of people and situations. I’ve grown so much from the practices I’ve undertaken.

Third, it makes me happy. Praying helps me clarify exactly what I want and need or focus good intentions. Reading about so many teachers from so many traditions gives a variety of perspectives for me to draw on, while also showing me the common themes that connect them all. Meditating helps me pause, to recognize the still voice under all the noise of the ego.

Fourth, I can connect with people who are on a similar journey. Admitting who I really am, what I’m truly dedicated to, I find myself suddenly surrounded by people who feel the same way. At Yasodhara Ashram, I expressed concern about bringing what I was learning back home. I worried about being criticized or misunderstood as I had been in the past, especially because I didn’t feel I could keep my practice hidden anymore. It was too much a part of me.

One of my friends pulled me aside on her last day and told me specifically not to let anyone take me off my path. She saw how important being a spiritual seeker is to me, and in a few words completely supported and validated everything I’d been doing on my own for ten years. She may not realize it, but she started a shift in me that day. I started to feel stronger and braver in my practice, outgrowing the need to conceal or change myself for others. It created a desire to become unapologetic about being a seeker.

And why shouldn’t I be? I’m passionate about it, it makes me a better and happier person, and it helps me connect with people. I don’t need to tell everyone, but I don’t need to hide who I am. I don’t need to explain myself to anyone if I don’t want to.

Because I’m addicted to my practice. And I’m fucking proud of it.