Archive | May, 2014

Rumi and Insomnia

Rumi and Insomnia of the Beloved

My beloved has been out of town for almost two weeks. And I miss him quite desperately. I do not sleep well when he is gone. The part of the bed which should be warm and heavy with him is neither.

Sometimes I sleep with his old, dirty t-shirt from the laundry. Because it smells like him.

I love his smell. His touch. His weight on me. His breathing near me. They are, apparently, good sleeping pills.

 

the feet of a couple in bed together.

 

This wanting, this strange not-quite sleeping is one facet of love.

Rumi writes:

When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you’re not here, I can’t go to sleep.

Praise God for these two insomnias!
And the difference between them.

 

a soft focus of a bedroom, with open window and soft light, with rumpled sheets from not sleeping

 

I look forward to the insomnia of that first couplet when he returns home.

Until then, I endure, and enjoy the bittersweetness of, the second.

 

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Both things. (‘Or’ doesn’t work anymore.)

The more I grow up, or maybe the more the world grows up, the more I realize that ‘or’ – the choice between two things – is not very helpful.

Both is helpful.

We need both things.

Ego / Soul

Dark / Light

Making Others Happy / Making Yourself Happy

Sad / Happy

Salt / Pepper

Body / Soul (not really separate anyway)

Connected / Independent

An orange and blue mandala of the taoist symbol for unity.

Truth / Honesty

Masculine / Feminine

Respect / Irreverence

Faith / Questioning

Fear / Love

Unique / Unity

Movement / Stillness

It’s the Taoist perspective, isn’t it? We cannot know one without the existence of the other. 

It may be duality. But it also defines unity.

What ‘both’ do you know to be true? What ‘or’ doesn’t work for you any longer?

 

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What Church Should Be

Every Friday I wake up at 5:30 am.

I roll out of bed and slink downstairs into the laundry room, wiping the sleep from my eyes and trying to warm up.

Amidst the baskets and bins and hangers and singleton socks, I put on my bright purple sports bra, a pair of black soccer shorts, and a pocketed thing made of neoprene that holds my insulin pump. No socks.

I do all this in the dark, if I can.
It’s easier that way.

Then I take six steps to the bathroom and pull my brown hair back into a ponytail.
(Also: potty break. I’m human.)

I catch the circular cap of my water bottle and head for the living room.
Grabbing my white laptop, I put it on a small IKEA-style table and open it up.

I queue up my music and hit ‘play.’

And I go to church.

 

a woman dancing on the beach at sunset in yogic poses

 

For 35 minutes I dance. I let my body form shapes to music that is flowing. Then music that is staccato. Then chaotic. My body and I move into something lyrical and then into stillness.

I sweat like crazy. The ponytail holder comes out and my hair is a mess- flying strings from one end of my head to the other. I growl and flail. I also gyrate and hiss. I smile and jump and push.

My soul is embodied. Fully in my flesh.

She wants to move like this. And then, like that– lightning!

My soul hits the floor with forceful feet, loud stomps that almost wake the children who are sleeping upstairs (I hope!). I roll my neck in wide circles and spin my body free- arms wide, face uplifted. She and I are one- moving in thoughtless motions that feel right.

We keep moving.

 

fire spun in a circle and looks like dancing flames

 

I am so whole right now – so fucking connected on every level.
There is no division between mind and body.
No fracture between soul and sensuality.

No barriers at all.
My psyche feels clean.

Even when I come to church in pieces, I feel better afterwards.
The bass of the music bounces the shards of my self into a different pattern.
Here you are, it says, and hands myself back to me.

The music slows. Laying on my back, feet in the air, arms open wide, I feel the place inside me that is sometimes dark, but is also very still.

I receive Her into me. She drops into my body – looking and feeling like a black angel. Communion. She is not ‘dark’ or ‘shadow’ – just the color of absolute stillness. Sacred stillness. The unformed black of space. Infinitude.

So fully in my body now I can actually feel myself breathing. (Instead of just thinking I am feeling myself breathing.) I breathe.

And then I gently pull myself up. I drink from the water bottle like this is the first time I’ve ever tasted water.

Dry off.
Put away the computer.
Greet my son as he comes downstairs for breakfast.

Stretch.
Stretch everything out into the day ahead.

And then, get on with the next step in life.

 

pink rose blossom in blue water, sacred symbols

 

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Life Is Full of Wonder, Love Is Never Wrong


Lyrics to Melissa Etheridge's "Legacy" including the lines "Life is full of wonder, love is never wrong."

 

From Melissa Etheridge’s “Silent Legacy” – a song that spoke deeply to me when I was leaving a mediocre relationship with a boy and a mediocre relationship with god.

“Mother’s tell your children,
Be quick, you must be strong:
Life is full of wonder,
Love is never wrong.

Remember how they taught you,
How much of it was fear.
Refuse to hand it down;
the legacy stops here.”

What our children live is what they consider ‘normal’ when they are grown up.

I teach my children that love, in all it’s forms, is truth.
And that wonder is everywhere if we look with our hearts.

This isn’t just some platitude or cliche. I grew up with a rather fearful definition of ‘wonder’ and spirituality. And it took me years to unravel that and turn it into something loving and integrative of my experience in the world.

Today, love (not fear) is my baseline.
And I hope I will be able to pass that on to my children.

 

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The Sacred Mantra for When Your Life Falls Apart

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away (another life, actually) I had a guy friend. This guy friend and I talked about music, some politics, the economy, and the ebb and flow of our days. It was a good-enough friendship. In fact, it was a fun and enjoyable friendship; it made me think and laugh.

Until I utterly fucked it up.

Due to poor self knowledge I did stupid things. Then I did … painful things. Then I got my ferocious claws out and took a page from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ playbook: I yelled, “Don’t come around here no more…whatever you’re looking for…don’t come around here no more.” I ended all contact. Which was the right thing to do at the time.

There was much crying and gnashing of teeth about it. A lot of “this wasn’t what I wanted!” whining on my part, despite knowing it was the right thing to do.

My ego didn’t want to let go.
My ego had plans.

And because my ego had plans – deeply held attachments to a Particular Outcome – when I let the friendship go, my ego felt like her world was falling apart.

It happens. Life falls apart.

I really did cry.
And gnash teeth. (Thank god for dental insurance.)
And got a bit depressed.
And a way lot angry.
And also felt like the rest of my life was falling in on me.

Oh, ego.

 

Even today, my ego whines about the whole thing. The small self, the “I” who goes about most of my business…she misses the friendship.

I miss the game he talked about music. My tastes were more eclectic, but we had strong common ground and just shared a love of music. It’s a gift to find connection and respect  and to be able to share honestly.

I miss his tentative questions about the meaning of life and how to live well. We are both Gen X-ers, and he believed our generation was screwed because we had no rallying war, rebellion, or ideology (it’s a fair point). I believe the only thing our generation has to fear or guide us is ourselves- and we should get on with that.

I miss his dry-as-the-dustbowl humor. And incredible brevity. I laugh a lot and talk with many words. It made for some interesting email exchanges, my 250 words to his 18.

I miss having someone who was my intellectual and generational equal to bullshit with.
That’s what I miss.

Someone to philosophize with. To talk music with. Someone who can be supportively neutral about my job and my kids- or not talk about them at all. A connection with a light touch but encouraging great depth of ideas.

I’m 39 and I yearn for deep, thoughtful friendships with people my own age. What’s available either isn’t that deep or doesn’t have the same cultural markers. (I do have two exceptions to this, but I wish for more good friendships.)

 

It wasn’t a perfect friendship, mind you. He would have regarded my admissions in the previous paragraphs- what I miss- as weakness. I know them to be vulnerability – a tool and state that builds strong hearts (they have to be strong to be open, you know). But, to carefully paraphrase Pablo Neruda, “The (friendship) was so short; and the forgetting is so long.”

This is one of the days when what I learned from the whole experience doesn’t make up for what I wish I had been able to create or keep hold of.

It’s not regret; I’m glad I made the decision I did.
It is, perhaps, grief. (Now that I’ve cleaned up my emotional mess, I have the capacity to grieve the lost friendship.)

It’s a day when my small self is in charge.
When my ego wants everything the way it wants it (and no other way, thank you!).
A day when I don’t want to trust that everything is fine just the way it is (especially because ‘how it is right now’ looks rather crappy).

It’s a mess.

 

When all of this was happening, (and even now, as I write it today and pick through it again) I needed something to guide and support me so I could find my way through it.

My ego was not to be trusted for soul guidance, and I couldn’t quite find the string of my soul’s path. So I needed some help.

I believe deeply that there are sacred and holy ideas in pop culture. I also believe that the Divine plays hide and seek with us and shares the infinite Truths wherever there is space for them.

And so, when life felt like it was falling apart, I went to find a sacred scripture to help me. It wasn’t in any of the usual texts. I found it here:

The sacred text to get through ego-destruction is this:

R.E.M./Document/Track 6: It’s The End of the World (As We Know It)/Chorus:

It’s the end of the world as we know it/
it’s the end of the world as we know it/
it’s the end of the world as we know it/
and I feel fine.

This sacred scripture, which I recited as a mantra, helped me in my messy time. The friendship, and who I was in that friendship was ending- that world was over. And I needed to know I would be fine. I needed to know I would find beauty in all this.

 

And there is beauty in my messy story.

The beauty is this: a piece of my ego got obliterated when I left the friendship.

My soul, which knew the best direction for my growth, got to be in charge. And that is the best thing that could have happened.

When the soul is in charge of decisions, you get a higher level and quality of guidance for your life. 

When your ego is in charge, you’re getting what you think you want.
When your soul is in charge, you’re getting what you need to grow and heal.
It’s as simple (and frustrating) as that.

In my case, there was pain I could not have healed, lessons I could not have learned, and strength I could not have developed if I had kept on with the friendship.

If I had kept on with what my ego wanted, I would have caused more pain and not grown into who I am now. And I’m a better person now.

 

Even now, my ego is being obliterated.

The desire I have for re-connection is never going to bear fruit. It would require so many things: an exceptional amount of grace and mercy on his part, which I don’t deserve; the ability to see each other as we are now (not as we were), which seems a ridiculous thing to ask after all that has passed; and the capacity to reach out, despite a lot of fear, and attempt a connection, which is impossible. (The odds on it are so long as to be infinitesimal.)

My ego will not have her wish.
But that is fine. Because there is good that can come of this, too.

I do not know what good, but I know good will come.

(Whenever I sit in meditation with the simultaneous emotions of grief and desire, I feel like god has put me in the ‘Warm, Gentle wash’ cycle in in the washing machine of meditation-  I have been gently pummeled into a place that feels softer and more supported. It is a combination of Chevelle’s “Face to the Floor,” and Missy Higgins’, “Warm Whispers.” A strange combo, but it works for me.)

It’s the end of the world as I know it – as I give up this hope
and I feel fine – because I know it will help me somehow.

 

 

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