Love note from my future partner (NOT a short story)

She’s been “leaving” me for years (it’s not really leaving, it’s more like minding the gap that is required to keep our spark moving). In the beginning, I found it heart wrenching, but now I just know it is part of how I am here to love her. It’s not my favorite part of our relationship, but I’m just resilient and persistent enough to let her go, and each time, trust a deeper knowing, that we aren’t done.

This leaving habit of hers pre-dates me. In her early relationships, she stayed in the house, but left the premises emotionally, shutting down and cutting off the pieces of herself she couldn’t figure out to bring into the particular dimensions of the puddle of light of that relationship. I can think of no worse way to love her than to enable that.

In the beginning, it was hard. A wordsmith, she can be quite convincing when she explained that she’d reached her end with me. Even as her heart and my heart spoke differently, her exit was very convincing. Sometimes loud, worse when it was cold stone silent. For a while, it seemed erratic. Over time, I came to understand the paradox that sometimes “both” can be true – that she needed to be away, and also that she was, even in her exit, permanently and inextricably inside our togetherness.

So we have a relationship that is like swiss cheese, and whether that is judged as good or bad is my choice. It is all of one connected piece, and I can focus on that, or it is full of holes and I can focus on that. I’ve learned to now hold those holy spaces with a loving caress. When she goes away, she goes to grow, to feel her own breath, to reconnect to the quiet signal that can sometimes be hard to hear in the cacophony of our robust and gregarious life of family, tribe and community (and my noise?). What I’ve learned is, that signal inside her that is so clear and discernible to me and sometimes so elusive to her is a broad and undeniable call back to community and connection. She lives in connection, and I’m blessed to be one of her chosen connections.

I keep the light on, enjoy time with my and our other beloveds, and look forward to meeting and starting anew with her again and again, each time greeted at my open door by a partner for this next patch of life that is an upgrade from the one that just left me.

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Mom writes a graduation speech

If I muck around long enough in your data universe, will I eventually find your heart?
What if I just sit there, information swirling by,  and listen. very. quietly.
Will I hear your calling?

I have always loved the way your mind works.
And even more, the end product of all those synapses firing.
The way your agenda gets so completely usurped by a good explanation
that contains a concept you don’t know, which causes you to go look that up,
and discover a whole new world, that means this assignment
is never going to get done on time, but in the meantime,
you’ve given yourself a far more compelling outcome
than what set you off in the first place.

I love the way you’ve convinced me that the technology and media
so many other people blindly assume is a “distraction” from life
actually IS the way your people find each other, engage in community,
create hope and sometimes even thrive.

And I love the connections you make, always dangling your head
over the edge of the current collective wisdom to see what is under there,
or ought to be added next, or what patch of intellectual property is just near enough,
and strong enough, for you to leap the gap and continue on your way.

But the internet literally has no end, and what one can learn and do is essentially infinite,
and when you think about that too hard, it starts to blow your mind.
This existential angst you’ve labelled “suffering” since you were way too little,
your concern over the futility of effort in such a vast place…

Well, it is my hope that you are starting to revise what must clearly be
your essential question, not as a problem to solve or avoid, but as the truth.
What ONE can do is infinite, but what YOU should do is to be discovered
by leaning into and loving this mystery as intimately as you can bear,
and sometimes by putting it down for a god-forsaken-minute
to go outside and see who else wants to play!

On this graduation day, I’m tickled to notice that I have no desire to congratulate you
on your academic accomplishments, or to appreciate that you are “wicked smart,”
any more than I want to gush all over you about how proud I am that you have ears.
THAT you are smart is a gift you were given, and we both know you use it skillfully;
What I am most proud of is that in spite of the fact that you have such a brilliant mind,
you also allow yourself to have a tender heart, and that you have begun to muck around
in that completely illogical universe soon enough to start to notice how that might matter,
if not just as much, maybe just a little more, than what you think about it.

Because what the world needs of you IS your big brain — I’m certain of that —
but FOR WHAT is up to you, and that is not a problem to be solved by said big brain.
How you move towards the truest, most happy, most “useful” version of yourself
comes from the struggle of listening quietly to the sometimes subtle,
sometimes excruciating, and sometimes utterly unknowable thump
of what stirs and calls your big giant heart.

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This IS my Holiday Card (again)

Like LAST YEAR, I didn’t mail cards this year. Let’s pretend like that is some sort of reducing my carbon footprint “value action” instead of just me being too robustly engaged in life to keep up with the little details, OK?
So, here’s my holiday letter. Hope it finds you well and that you appreciate lugging one less piece of paper to the recycling center. I shall now execute the requisite parts of the holiday letter, also known as the well wishing, the bragging, and the plug.

The Well Wishing

Love love love to you and yours. I hope you are healthy and happy and well, and if you aren’t that you have the resources around you to get to that place. If I can be one of those resources, please let me know. If I have been one of the causes of your unhealthy, unhappy, unwellness, I’d like to know about that too.

The Bragging

My people are seriously awesome. I know everyone says that, but mine really are.

The big kid is applying to college, which means I’ve been doing that dance of trying to figure out 1) how to help, 2) how to let him find his own way, and 3) how to apologize when I don’t figure out 1 and 2 in an effective manner. Overall, I’m in awe of his mindfulness and honesty about how absurd the process is. I’ll not do the parent inventory of his other myriad and numerous accomplishments, instead I will share two of the privileges I’ve had this year that knocked me over. First, I’ve been lucky to get glimpses of how he is with his girlfriend – tender, intelligent, leaned in. I see so much of his Dad in his behavior, and note regularly to myself how lucky he is to have such a beautiful man as a role model. Second, even though he’s a thought-driven genius, this year he has cracked open a little doorway into the realization that there are some divine mysteries that are real, even if we can’t define them or graph them. That took me 41 years to learn, and I’m so proud that he has a leg up on me.

The little kid, who is in absolutely no way little anymore, has life by the reigns, like he always has. I’m regularly amazed at how such hipness could bubble up spontaneously from a kid begotten by two brainiacs. Last spring, he was literally Prince Charming, in a performance in the school play that everyone is still talking about. No surprise, this year he will be a prince again, this time Hamlet – but not the boring version, this is the parody version (made rated PG by his teachers) of Hamlet – Thrill Ma Geddon. On other fronts, I feel most grateful this year for the way he has acquiesced to being drug to “mom” things this year, including some stuff no teen should ever be so gracious to join. What cracks me up the most is his self awareness – telling me that he knows someday he’ll like saying he went to these things, but in the moment they really aren’t his first choice. Ha! Here’s a sampling: We meditated with Thich Nhat Hahn at Copley Square (then accidentally wandered into the smoke clouds at HempFest), caught hugs as my HAI friends marched by in the Pride parade, spent the day at 2 different yoga festivals, attended a sacred fire circle, and a wandered through the Path of Life garden in Vermont.  One of his coping mechanisms has been to use Daron’s camera and the way this lets me see how he sees the world is really special.

Both boys have embraced an expansion of our family to include Daron, and I’m humbled by the abundance of healthy relationships and love everywhere I look.

And The Plug

Last year, I preached to you in my letter about The Human Awareness Institute, which continues to be a deeply important source of growth and community for me. This year, I’m going to indulge a little in some self promotion, but not really, it feels more like offering you a gift. Or two, I hope.

2014 will see the official launch of a product called Kangaroo, which I’ve been helping to curate from smart concept and intellectual property to a web experience. Kangaroo (and The McAloon Group) helps professionals with career transition. I naively expected that I could just help with e-publishing and editing; the truth is that the message in the content and the processes Kangaroo teaches are profoundly shifting my attitude toward work. Which leads me to my second plug:

2014 will also see me contributing more artistically. This started with slowly getting the nerve to do more poetry and story telling at some Open Mics in the Boston area and has lead to the self-publication of my first writing collection, The Goddess Rambles.  This has me feeling vulnerable, excited and humble, with a sincere wish that someone finds the words that have come through me to be a source of comfort or enjoyment.

Merry Krishna
Merry Krishna

Something happened. It’s called Undefended Love.

Something happened.

It was just a thought, really, when you look deeply enough. So some thought happened, and everyone involved had really big ideas about what that meant. Big ideas. Thoughts about a thought, as if that is what matters. But this time, we did something different – we tried letting this thing completely BE rather than trying to make something else happen.

We let the thing be and we paid attention, and that lead us to the thoughts and then the thoughts to unveil the feelings, and we let those into the light as well. And those all just turn out to be either desire or aversion, and we let that be, and under that, we could see the deeper truth, and I’ll tell it to you now:

It isn’t about the thing. It isn’t about the thought. It isn’t about the desire or the aversion, or about what happened or who you think you are. It’s about where this all comes from, and what is below that. That’s the lesson. The thing, the decision, the outcome of that decision, these are nearly irrelevant.

Letting myself be fully seen, to see with undefended love, has changed me. I think I just shed half a person and am now bare, light, released from a lifetime of story. That thought experiment brought so much into focus for me. Life is short. I want my time to matter. I want to live in love and nothing else matters. In love with art, in love with myself, in love with my people, in touch with whatever those people call God. I want each moment, the love making ones, the ones where I am a wretched puddle on the floor, the ones where I’m preparing a meal for myself and my family, to be fully experienced, unburdened by what I think should happen or how I feel about what happened before.

Today, the absurdity of e-mail and washing dishes and that there are practical things like bills to pay and train schedules is making me laugh. I used to think it was about these things. Sometimes, I used to even cry about these things. Ha!

So I say to myself: Give the people attached to these things a bare look. Such sweet small souls, each carrying these giant heaping piles of armor and baggage, making these Herculean and inherently flawed attempts to connect through all that. Look at yourself doing the same. Isn’t it amazing how much energy we have to keep trying this experiment in belonging, in knowing ourselves?

And then I say: I love you.

And that is all that matters.

http://undefendedlove.com/

The stories we tell ourselves

I’m thinking about the way we make our existence, moment to moment, by the way we choose to be (or fail to be) in each of those moments. I used to think it was all about how we spend our minutes… where, with whom, what activity… and now it is feeling like setting is less relevant than voice.

See, I’ve been to amazing places of beauty, and been miserable there — constantly rethinking past abuses, scheming futures, or even just having conversations in my head that were less true than the simplicity, joy and beauty of the present moment. I’ve also been to places others would find enormously challenging or just uncomfortable or boring, and found myself deep in wonder and healthy growth. Mind you, setting matters, and can create something conducive or contrary to achieving “right mind,” but the real juice happens inside.

So, when I was little, there were all sorts of events that transpired that were formative- oh, you too, right? It bothers me how I, my therapist, and the personal growth community focus so heavily on the stories where those experience formed something wrong in us we now must overcome, broke something in us we now must repair, or failed to meet a need we now must work to understand. For most of my life, when I’ve been asked about how I grew up, I told those stories, and consequently, much of my life has felt sad, incomplete, or otherwise not good enough.

But I’m telling you now, there were other experiences too! Certain as I am sitting here – in one of the wealthiest countries in the world with a nearly miraculous piece of technology in my hand (when you really think about), thinking cogent thoughts in a generally in tact body- certain as that, I clearly MUST have also had some formative experiences that went right, helped me grow parts of self that clearly serve me well, and met my basic and more subtle needs.

Why the disproportionate focus on the deficits? What does this focus do, day after day, thought after thought, new experience after new experience, to chip away at the sense of wholeness and grace that is our birthright? And I am so curious to notice what has happened inside of me, and in my immediate constellation, as I have invited those other stories, the ones about abundance, to be heard.

I believe that this scanning for what is wrong is cultural, and it is making us individually into sick, over indulged, miserable S.O.B.s. And I am beginning to know it is a choice, how we hold our awareness. As an illustration, have you noticed how when Americans travel to poorer countries, we are always shocked to notice happy people there? We are so ingrained with a distorted understanding of where happiness comes from. Notice how the people who have vacationed abroad experience this as an anomaly they talk about, but the people who have spent time really living abroad have shifted to a wholely different world view?

As another example, I cut most TV out of my life a couple of years ago as an experiment, and it has completely changed my view of the world. I feared that I would feel disconnected and uninformed. To the contrary, I feel more connected to the information that matters, and I spend my online time exploring stories my carefully culled (no negative noisy people) Facebook community delivers. I watch TedTalks, Buddhist lectures, and films that have made it onto my radar screen enough for the name to stick and prompt me to go find it. I am now acutely aware of the contrast when I get around tv, where the constant deluge of news tells us that the world is scary and that we need to get some more stuff, and then worry about how to keep that stuff safe. Why? Because most of the ways we seek solace in this culture is in acquisition of external comforts, and the makers and sellers of these comforts underwrite the news. So, in its barest form, we tell ourselves scary bedtime stories and then wake up every day to the need to comfort ourselves because the world is so bad.

One of the basic Eastern meditations on compassion starts with visualizing the loving care of your mother. When masters first brought this meditation to the U.S., they were shocked to learn that this very same meditation brings up anger, sadness, and anything but a universal source of compassion in Western practitioners. I find this story to be amazing, both as a daughter and as a mother. How have we created a culture in which our most fundamental and basic form of nurturing is generally perceived as not good enough? Think about it – in those countries where poverty is more pronounced and opportunities are more limited, people generally regard their mothers with gratitude and appreciation, yet in a country where we have all of our needs met and most of our wants, we tell stories of deprivation.

I’m going to end by saying that our stories matter… the good, the bad, the truthful ones we all have in common and the illusion ones we make up for so many ego personality reasons. I’m not saying we should stop telling our sad stories, or the stories where we were hurt, or violated, or truth was not served. Telling these stories is a key step to breaking free of the pain they caused. But I am inviting myself to also be mindful of the weight, time, energy, and heart space I give to the various types of stories I tell myself, and to scan for at least as many good as bad. I’ll let you know how that goes.

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