STRANGER

Our final breath comes when,

at long last,

we nudge back toward

infinity.

 

Billions of atoms

moving through time and space –

locked within the confines of skin

in a dance with life, itself.

 

Too short, this

parenthesis in eternity;

as time flexes to accommodate

the neverending flow between pleasure and pain.

 

Like waves upon the ocean, we roll

back and forth,

endlessly adjusting

while our basic nature remains the same.

If the ocean changes little in millennia,

how, then, are we expected

to stem the flow of thoughts and responses,

habitual as the tides?

 

The need for quiet contemplation

nudges a thickened consciousness.

If we fail to heed the call,

push out reflection in favor of reaction,

the gulf expands until a chasm opens up,

threatening to swallow our

best intentions.

 

One may become a stranger

even to oneself.

~ bj

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Too Much Said

 Now fold your arms, and bow your head. And listen, while the prayer is said.

~ from my childhood

prayer

 

Stop.

Look.

Listen.

I learned them well as a child

growing up on concrete and asphalt;

backdrop of mountains and trees.

 

Sitting in Sunday school,

arms folded and legs crossed,

I mastered obedience

instead of boundaries.

When asked, I answered –

simple as that.

 

There’s a certain Stepford chasteness

in carefully following directions.

At the same time, innocence

is crushed when deference

to The Law produces parrots

instead of persons.

 

Squawk! Now you see me.

Turn away and you don’t.

 

If I couldn’t capture my reflection

in the ocean of your eyes,

I was lost.

Only later did I realize the futility

in unquestioning compliance.

Only later did I comprehend

circumspection; the ability

to rein in the tongue.

 

Too often have I given away

bits of essence to care-less ones.

Too many times have I shared far too much,

spawning boundless regret.

Observations On the Train – Part Four

The young man’s smile is engaging, while his girlfriend sits placidly, brow furrowed with tension, locked in a computer embrace. They are from Chicago, and have taken the train to Davis, California to a friend’s wedding. He possesses a rather lovely SLR/digital camera, and spends most of his time gazing out the window and snapping frames of the countryside.

She looks up and smiles tightly, doe-like eyes magnified through the lenses of her glasses. Pale skin tells me it’s been a long time since she has basked in sunlight. Indeed she affirms a harried work schedule that, despite the sheer magnitude of her employer’s firm, is frankly enjoyable. If only the company were a bit smaller, while she rushes to erase any criticism with the kindness of coworkers; the leniency of a schedule with free weekends. She appears exhausted.

Her boyfriend overhears that I live in Hawai’i. He asks What city would you live in, if you could live anywhere in Hawai’i? I tell him that one is easy, for there is no city in the great, wide world I would ever choose to live in; that I am a straight-up country girl, craving clean air and soil and wide, open spaces. He insists. But IF you had to choose, where would it be? Presses me again with such eagerness and guile that I feel obligated to answer. Honolulu, I finally settle upon, sure he is going to inquire about job possibilities in his Internet Technology field. He seems delighted, sharing that he once applied for a job in Honolulu but was turned down. I encourage him to have another go, adding She, my head inclining toward his weary traveling companion, would be happy if you did! And am rewarded with that weak smile, that flawless porcelain skin furrowed at the brow.

 

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To Have and To Hold

She doesn’t want to let me go –
it’s in the blood.

Like cells, we divide,
move apart;
couple up with others,
and revel in the familiar
of an original template:
family.

Our mother is leaving us,
hysterical now with dementia.
It’s fun to watch her laugh,
as we know the other side:
disgust, apprehension,
downright terror.

We ourselves are dead or dying,
as one by one
she picks us off
like fleas irritating
a mind tossing darts
at her imminent demise.

When this passes –
and it will –
we will expand our love
to fill the void;
let it seep into the spectrum
of children, spouses, selves.

Affection and endearment
are ours to have and to hold,
from that day forward –
until we, too,
shed these precious skins
and flow back into pure light.

 

ascension

Storylines

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How long can one exist on just a story? I think some people live out the entirety of their days in the thrall of fabrication. And many don’t realize it until it is too late.

I remember My Story. It began in the distant past, and I coughed it up and out like a nasty hairball – a reflexive and seemingly necessary act at the time – resulting in an unpalatable mess plopped directly in my path for all the world to see. I had to side-step it, just to forge on with a tiny bit of progress.

Recognizing something is a huge help in preventing its future recurrence.

Once I observed My Story for what it was, not only could I strive for greater authenticity, but I could detect the affliction in others. Another leap and I sailed beyond judgment into the waiting arms of compassion; not only for others, but for the once-mired illusory self I’d been dragging around all those years.

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Commentary on Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking”

This was so poignant, I cried. Absolutely brilliant. Attitudes and approaches are morphing on a grand scale, and it is heartening to observe these leaps in consciousness. We need hope in this rapidly changing world, in the face of all the greed and corruption and global warming. 

Becoming less cynical and bitter about unavoidable changes allows us to move into genuine gratitude. We are all changing and growing; making choices between the cocoon and the open sky; between addictions and subtractions, whether addictions to substances or behaviors or what we perceive as comfort. We’re all doing this in our own way.

But this can’t be forced; it has to be learned from life itself. It must be felt, viscerally experienced, as Amanda Palmer portrays. It HAS to be real.

We can rail at the gods for our lack of support as creative types; loss of profits on our talents due to the freedom of the Internet, for example. If we don’t deny this; if we look honestly at ourselves and our motives in work and in life, we will know something profound about ourselves. Do we feel entitled? Special? Do we compare ourselves to what we perceive as successful others who perhaps seem less deserving? These sentiments only separate us from our goals.

We are living IN the world, not apart from it. And Amanda Palmer gets this. We are living in the Age of Aquarius – a time to honor the collective and stop focusing on “poor little me.” I am only successful in relationship to you; we are all in this together. Such are Aquarian ideals.

No matter what each of us does for work in this life, there is growth and opportunity to learn, if we allow it. If we force it, resent it, bully it even –  there is plenty of misery. Karma hits us up and down – and not the bad kind – karma is simply cause and effect. That’s all. 

It’s important to be humble. You can see it in this woman. We cannot fake it. We can’t get away with duality and not reap the inevitable consequences of feeling alone and isolated. Our humility must be real. That’s why it works, for her. That’s why it works in the here and now. And it cannot be disingenuous or we find ourselves embarrassed and humiliated: not by others but by our own actions and lack of heart; by the failure to embrace Oneness with our ambitions and goals. 

The times, they are a-changin’ and we cannot stop a moving train with our puny little bodies. Time to get on board, and discover our seat; our place in the greater scheme of things. It can be done if we use our creative energies to offer our gifts in new and innovative ways. And if it isn’t easy, it’s because we are still addicted to fighting; to struggle; to opposing What Is.

~ Bela Johnson

The Wisdom of the Ages

It’s satisfying to discover menopause as an unexpected gift. No longer vexed or driven by floods of hormones, I’m far more able to settle into my body in a new way; to focus more acutely on what’s essential to my growth as a human being. There’s a time to every purpose under heaven. And I believe … I believe.

When I was twenty, thirty, forty, I didn’t dread aging, rather I simply didn’t give it much thought. My fifties were the pivotal years; a transition between what propels the young forward and what captures the imagination of the old; a segue between the fires of biology and the waters of intuition; between craving and contentment.

I love the peace I have discovered in simply allowing life to be what it is; allowing others to be the imperfect fools we all, at times, prove to be. Competition and comparison really have no useful place in the depths of profound human interaction. And though these attributes may appear to be effective in the shallows, I am left feeling hollow and bereft and inadequate in their wake.

I rise daily to the possibilities intrinsic in allowing others to assume their inevitable place amongst the striving and the cunning. Soon enough, they too may begin to question the folly of their ways. If receptive to the wisdom inherent in aging, they will know to their bones the futility in contributing to their own or another’s suffering. And though it’s tempting to shoot for the moon, thankfully these later years confer enough patience to realistically observe the grinding cycles of human evolution. Surely there is benefit to be derived at each stage of our growth in the greater, grander scheme of Creation.

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Turn, Turn, Turn

It’s such a pleasure to witness friends who take advantage of a midlife shakeup and confront their fears in order to implement major lifestyle changes. I’m thinking of one acquaintance whom I have known for almost thirty years; one whose face appears lit from within where once a kind of tightness dwelled.

My own significant wake-up call arrived in my early forties. I don’t know if I would have it in me at almost sixty to shift in quite that way again, though the process, once engaged, is certainly ongoing. For it took not only courage and fortitude, but also a substantial allocation of energy and ambition to begin breaking those rigid life-long patterns.

We don’t know any different until we do. Even then, the challenges we face are astronomical: drop our storyline; stop taking things personally; divest ourselves of unworkable relationships; cease or curtail destructive habits of all sorts, whether physical, emotional or mental; forgive ourselves and others for not meeting expectations; lighten our burdens; establish supportive relationships. It’s always a work in progress.

 

Image

Headlights

heussenstamm

I cannot wear sequins.

A closet full of skirts and dresses

tried on over the years;

wishful thinking.

 

What I do,

where I live

does not lend itself

to swoops of air between the legs;

bluster and sparkle.

 

No need for headlights.

 

It feels like a violation;

the paradox of glitter

and steaming mulch;

canyons and the finality

of fabric cleaving

to the four winds.

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