It has been over a YEAR since I posted. It seems hard to believe that, but it is true. This year has been beyond description—the things that really matter have been underground, wordless, shapeless. I have tried to describe them to others, but I find that the only way someone understands is if they have had the same sort of experiences in their lives.
Mysterious healing of old wounds and rifts. Moments of deep depression and anxiety. Experiences of the rightness of the entire journey. Accepting that I am loved beyond measure; recognizing that we all are. Surrendering to trust in the Mystery: it prescribes the perfect journey for me. No other path is needed.
As I emerge, it is indeed like that well-worn metaphor of the caterpillar and the butterfly. Without longing for the cycle to cease, I trust the arising and also the descent. Light and dark. The great blessing of being human. To be caterpillar and butterfly, and then again—caterpillar, butterfly. Every day, til the heart stops beating, the cycle will carry me, sing to me, call me home to my own heart. It’s not a place of perfect joy. It’s a place of emotional range and brilliant experience.
Hello. Welcome back to my blog. And welcome home to your life. How’s things with you?
Ahhhh. That is how I feel right now. Accepting what is. The ups and downs. The flowing, changing world inside and outside of my being. My heart is stretching and finding a new shape. A softer path before me, a home inside the world.
The storm of the weeks after the Summit has subsided. In its wake, I found something I’ve sought for a long, long time: peace. Ironically, the peace I’m experiencing is not a state I have attained. It is not a state at all…it is a surrender. A letting go.
There is no longer a sense that I have to be some way, or some one, that I have to show up in a good-looking outfit with my hair just so, in order to be liked. I finally understand something crucial: the more authentic I am in any interaction, in any moment—the more people respond to me, appreciate me, know me and are moved by me. It is one of my roles in this life: to speak of the struggle and to bring it into the light. Everyone struggles. Everyone.
Welcome to the struggle of life. The peace we seek is within us, yes, but not like we generally have thought of it. It cannot be earned, like a good grade; it cannot be controlled. Peace is the boat on the ocean. It goes where the ocean goes.
Hafiz, great sufi poet, said: “Where you are right now, God circled on a map for you.”
Trust the living map of life as it unfolds before you. Know that the life you are living IS the “spiritual path.” Whether you recognize it or not, whether it matches your pictures or not. There is no where to go, no clothes to wear, no practices to adopt that will make you enlightened. Getting enlightened is not the goal, which is a good thing, because it, like peace, is also not attainable.
Surrender. Breathe. Come home to the heart, and live there. Let the heart listen to the soul, the connection to the god of your understanding. Let the heart be the instrument of seeing, and let the body-mind be ever in service to the heart.
This may not make sense, you may not have read this far. But if you have, thank you. I hope these words reach somewhere in you, that they bring you some amount of rest and peace. For me, the journey continues. I’m in search of a new home, and will be house sitting for the next 3 weeks or so in some lovely places. I am blessed; truly blessed.
I have followed my heart to Austin and here I am. I don’t know what the future holds; I have no plans beyond December. The only promise in following my heart is that I will then dwell in my heart. Which is plenty enough reward for this one.
The Global Youth Peace Summit was amazing and also incredibly challenging on many levels. I can’t even quite explain it, to tell the truth. But in the two weeks since it ended, I’ve spent a lot of time alone (nothing new there) and I’ve been pretty depressed. I have been weaving all kinds of stories about what people think of me and what a fucked up person I am. And although I know that these are not true, that in fact these same people like and even love me very much, and in fact I’m not fucked up at all, I’ve found it really hard to get out of the story.
In addition, I’ve hardly had any work lately, because my company just doesn’t have any work to give me, and since I’m paid a very good hourly wage but not salary, if I don’t have work, I don’t get paid. It also gives me WAY too much time alone. And when I’m alone, I get depressed. The one just sort of follows the other.
The time after the Summit is generally tough for everyone involved. The village that we create there is a powerful space of love, acceptance and healing for everyone, no matter what role they play or how they show up. It just happens. And leaving it is generally hard and can often be a letdown. It’s kind of like what happens for many people after Christmas. This year I had hoped that since I live in Austin now, it would not be as hard. In fact, I think it’s been the hardest post-summit experience yet.
I find that I’m embarrassed about what’s been going on for me and resistant to blogging about it. However, at the same time, I feel incredibly pulled to do so. In fact, I even started a new blog the other day, just so I could shout out without reservation how I feel and what I’m going through.
But, since I made a commitment a while ago on this blog to not hold back anymore, and to reveal the “deep, dark shit,” and also because something in me tells me that this is part of my service and what I have to offer the world, I’m going to write about it here. Basically, when things get bad, I hate myself. I honestly truly HATE myself. I think that I am a terrible person and that I really don’t deserve to be here. I think that other people don’t care about me. I think that I should not have come here to Austin, that the people at Amala Foundation don’t want me here, that they wish I would leave.
I think of past arguments with random people and past situations that were hard and I get stuck obsessing on those situations also.
I think about being single and that there is something innately ugly about me and that is why I’m single. I think about how hard it has been for me to do work in general, and how much I procrastinate, and how I don’t stay focused on creating photographs and writings, and it spirals into a truly ugly internal put-down session. It is just insane. Truly. Insane.
The thing is, I know this stuff isn’t true. I KNOW IT’S NOT. But I can’t believe that when I’m in it. I just get sucked down, like it’s a huge deep-ocean whirlpool from some 50s horror movie.
Let me say this, also, the good news: It’s shifting. I’m climbing out. I went to a volunteer appreciation thing at Amala last night. It was sweet. We did a sacred pipe ceremony (native american style) and then had a talking circle where we passed the talking stick. One of my friends and I went together and we both have been feeling very depressed and horrible and we both spoke up during talking circle. It was great to just say out loud in that community: “I am doing terribly, I hate myself, I think you all hate me, I don’t know who I am or why I’m here,” and then just pass the stick! It was awesome to do that, actually.
I truly didn’t want people to come up and get all huggy with me after, and people were very sensitive and kind in that way, but I felt a lot of love sent to me without direct contact. I did get a bit of very solid loving feedback from some people I feel very comfortable with, and then someone else who I respect and care about immensely, and was one of the people I had really convinced myself did not like me anymore, sat and talked with me for a while. He’s so real and so sweet and was very solidly rooted in knowing that everything that was happening is FOR me and not TO me, and that it’s all serving my evolution. As soon as he said that, I knew it was true. And I also realized that he indeed still cares about me and likes me, and that nothing at all was wrong.
Then I spent some more time today with someone else I care about a lot but who I have stories about that cause me pain. We had a sweet conversation as well, and we just kind of roundabout got into some of these stories I have made up. As we talked, I again realized that all my stories were missing big huge chunks of information and that when those were filled in, then the whole story shifted and my confusion was evident. Which felt fantastically freeing.
So, now, I feel like things are on a more even keel. I pulled a tarot card from the Osho Zen Tarot deck (online) and it was “Trust.”
“Trust life. If you trust, only then can you drop your knowledge, only then can you put your mind aside. And with trust, something immense opens up. Then this life is no longer ordinary life, it becomes full of God, overflowing.”
That resonated so fully and completely.
Oh and the reason I named my post “shaking my fist at god” is because I’ve been fully doing that lately. If you know me, you know that the god of my understanding is simply the universe, all that is, the pattern and love that underlies, permeates, creates, sustains and destroys all that is. Generally, I cultivate trust that the life unfolding is the exact right life for me. But this past week in the deepest muck of this darkness, I have denied and resisted, shouted and sworn, “why have you forsaken me?” And it felt like an important part of whatever this process is. To just say, NO, God! WHY ME, God? Fuck you, God!
and now…the other side of the mountain…the downhill side. for a while. [like the old Donovan song: “first there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is”]
In April I spent 10 days on the big island of Hawaii, in retreat with Vanessa Stone and 8 amazing friends. It was a truly heart- and mind-opening experience.
I am not going to write about the experience, not specifically and not here and now. But I will say that I left and returned home to Santa Cruz with some pretty clear realizations:
1. I want to and am ready to move to Austin, TX. To be near Vanessa Stone and her work with the Amala Foundation. To become more a part of that amazing organization and its humanitarian projects. And to simply reach out, broaden my horizons, welcome the world in.
2. I am not any longer interested in spending time worrying or analyzing. I am 100% committed to what is offered, to looking and seeing what is in front of me. To following the living map of my life, on a daily, hourly, breath-by-breath basis.
3. My foundation is my relationship to the core of my being, which I choose to call “God” or spirit, the absolute, pure love, the beloved. And that is where I will look for all guidance. Not outward. Not anymore.
So…I immediately was offered a place to stay in Austin for 6 weeks in June/July, for free, to housesit. My boss told me that he wants me to keep working for them (I already work remotely). I gave notice at my wonderful cottage by the creek. I’m finishing up this semester of school (mostly in the darkroom!), getting rid of all my stuff (again!) and hitting the road on June 11.
To say I am EXCITED would be a massive understatement.
It’s late. Later than usual, for me. Outside, the full moon transits over my house. And yours. Everyone’s house is covered by the moonlight tonight.
I sit at this desk, in this house, typing on this keyboard. There is a sudden clarity, a clear light, a relief. Miraculous, instantaneous. I am ok.
It sounds like a 70s self-help book. But it’s not. It’s just the lifting of darkness, the rising of the moon, the startling recognition of the simplicity of being. When the sun went down, I was confused. Now, in the middle of the night, that confusion has melted and all that’s left is all that is. Moonrise. Sunset.
I woke up in a hotel room in San Luis Obispo at 6 am this morning. I don’t even need an alarm anymore. I jut wake up. And when I looked outside, it was raining. I’ve got a long drive home, and a photoshop assignment to do.
I’ve been pretty sporadic with this blog. Inconsistently posting. And more than that, it feels pretty amorphic. Unformed. Shapeless. Some bloggers seem to blog happy, witty stuff. Some people spin with they say, so they look cool. Some people moan and groan. I don’t want to do any of these things. I just want to write about life, and what it’s like to live it, and post photographs.
I’m struggling with inner voices telling me I’m no good. The thing is, while I have a hard time believing them, I can’t quite get away from them, either. There are two main things I beat myself up about: I don’t get shit done and I don’t like the way I acted with someone. I want to be perfect. I want to be endlessly productive. I want to be the best friend who ever was. I want to be a master at sitting in silence. But…it turns out, I am not perfect, I am incredibly inefficient, I blurt out stupid and hurtful things before I realize what I’m saying, I am endlessly distracted and I fidget continuously.
Okay. Truth be told, it’s not that bad. Mostly, I’m doing well, I have good friends, a nice home…but the days keep turning into weeks, months and years, and very-few-to-none of my ideas get manifested. This is incredibly frustrating. I feel like I am wasting my life. And who knows how much time I’ve got left. Two times in the past three days, I came *THS* close to getting run off the road by an almost-out-of-control tractor-trailer. Every morning I wake up and think, Oh my god, I’m still alive. How much longer is this gift gonna last? I think how precious this human existence is, and how I want to make something of it and not waste it, and be fully fully alive, loving, particpatory. I realize I had checked out of life for a LONG time. Finding my way back in is proving to be a challenge.
If I seek the unbridled joy of being alive (and I do) then much is required. To crawl into the pain, nest there and pull it close around me. To sob until the tears turn to laughter. To sink into the silence at the core of being. To see God in everything, in every last piece of this crazy world.
I trust that process. I know that what is offered is all I could ever want. That the fullness of each moment constantly surrounds me, whispering of love.
As I come out of a period of deep depression, I find myself surrendered. Beaten to a joyous pulp, with nothing left to fight against. My heart has become the instrument of seeing. The mind divides and judges, but the heart pierces that veil. The heart can see clearly: that which animates galaxies and lovers and a child’s laughter also animates so-called evil. There is no separation. There is nothing “other.” Not really.
So I feel the embrace of the beloved, the god of my understanding, the force that manifests and sustains and destroys.
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground. Into the blue again, in the silent water.