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Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

It is late considering how early I have to be up and out tomorrow, considering that OWL didn’t feel well at bedtime and what the night holds is unknowable. And yet, here I am with a freshly carved potato stamp transcribing lines from Adrienne Rich poems onto pieces of paper and discovering that intimacy is derived from the same root as intestine, trying to remember my most true self, to locate those pieces that were misplaced along the way, the ones that splintered and marched off at age three, five, eight, fifteen. Do I only flow in one direction, or in many?

I sat for 10 minutes, staring at the thing I will offer up tomorrow when I take the Bodhisattva Vow, the thing I will let go of, the thing that stands between me and my ability to see what is. Specks of gold glimmered in the candlelight. Its heft was visible and I realized that it could not be folded as I’d hoped to do. I will have to present it as is, not made into a generic shape that can hide its interior.

Khyung Nyi-ö feels so foreign and yet familiar. Too big and yet tailored to my shifting body.

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too many books

I want to write everything down, so as not to forget, not to lose the pages of shattered bones and missteps, the descriptions of grief and marked time, the illogical holding and eventual letting go, that coming to know things only loss can show you. How else can I learn all that others have to share? OWL runs down hills, out of arms reach. The stacks grow and multiply.

An unexpected phone call and miles. Essays and meetings over dinners. A quarrel on the stairs and the sweetness of reunion. I want to write my  words. My heart moves faster than my hands. I am restless, out of breath, walking to work, late, skipping over potholes. My boots scuff brick, concrete, asphalt. The wind lifts a corner of my coat, snakes through my dress, slip, tights. Words I cannot say.

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My essay In Falling is published here, through the Shambhala Publications 35<35 project, personal essays from Buddhist practitioners under the age of 35.

http://www.35u35.com/submissions/in-falling/

PS’s & dedications:

*so so so much gratitude to the lovely Ms. Meredith Arena for loving me through this madness

*loves to my sister Cindy for listening out loud at the EXACT right moment

*congrats to my brother Chris for the courage to share and be himself in the world

*and always to OWL, for saving & enriching my life

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The summer was a pause that often felt like held breath when it was supposed to be a reframing. I know it’s not over, but the autumnal weather of this Monday morning is tricky. And as I usher through yet another transition, my heart is open to the message of the breezes and clouds and potential for rain. The leaves look suspiciously altered against the grey of the morning sky. I am ready for this change.

In the face of the flight from the radio and the yellow kitchen table, chipped and marred and worn thin by history, I write 6 pages by hand and feel the start of a new place, or rather of finding what was already lurking beneath, in wait. A darkness and frankness seen with open eyes, run on sentences and the skillful use of commas. A mind of madness punctuated by an occasional line of grace. Of forgiveness and audacity.

Falling asleep, I lose myself  in fantasy as distraction from the unceasing panic. The boy who kissed me last Tuesday and then called the very next day. The anticipated sweetness of seeing Seth and Geoff next month, collapsing into Vermont, in tears, (because I’m a girl who always cries). Sky Lake Lodge. The battle between the simple letters of M.A. and M.F.A., of Boulder Utopia and standing up right here. This may be my final flight of madness, and it will either kill me or I’ll pull into a new form – still me but less blown over and torn apart. At times I cannot honestly tell which it will be.

And when I think I have nothing to say, I’ll keep writing it down anyway, in one sentence, 22 words or less.

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A book would feel better. Something that requires my eyes and not my hand, these hands that seem incapable of sense or beauty, of holding anything, of completing thoughts.

With a lowered gaze my eyes wouldn’t betray what a stalled hand shows. Lack of movement, of invention. In that stillness the absence of intimacy, of connection. Tip to fiber stains the page in blue with unintelligible marks, poor penmanship, lost life & memories. Only remnants remain.

You are, maybe, a writer I write to myself just before sleep.

The next night, I refine my previous statement. You are, mostly, a writer, because it’s high time I assert some control over the ability to self-define. I walk and ride my bike to get familiar with self-propelling forward motion.

Then I tell myself you are a writer because I’m trying to practice maitri. I am trying to say to myself that I forgive you. I am trying to encourage this one small ounce of faith that has yet to extinguish, even if it’s fake it ’til you make it.

Walking home from the store, stinging behind my eyeballs from a this darkness that has re-enveloped me, born of a terror I’ve yet to name or befriend, your voice. A sweet imprint on an answering machine, across miles. To say hello. Been busy but all is well. Looking forward to some time off next week. A sweetness that will always be. And for a moment it is all so simple. The next moment it is mixed with tears from missing two amazing friends.

You are a writer. This is not decided by the New York Times or The Sun or that anthology you haven’t heard back from. It is not decided by the people who think you should definitely not get an MFA or the people who don’t invite you to interview for a job that you know you would absolutely kick ass at. It isn’t even determined by the one person who loves you most of all, who refuses to let you on the computer without insisting on “watch da whales jumping.”

Another two days pass. Sob wet confessions behind closed doors, absent of logic or rationale. Touch on the old, older, oldest. The lies I believe over and over again without realization. Some of the strings that keep me trapped, tied up in the past-never-to-be-future. My mistrust of all things shines through and illuminates an even still deeper fear that although I’ve come to whisper it time to time out loud (and only to a paid professional) I can only touch for a moment at a time. One breathe at a time then hold the rest.

And suddenly that fire that was consuming me is like smoke. It is long and dark and trailing, its toxins soaked deep within my skin and organs, but smoke nonetheless. Transparent patches. I feel its heat and thickness but walk right through it, still unsure if I’ll ever find the clearing.

In yoga with a new teacher, I find my Warrior after months of it feeling gone. I move consciously from a diagonal lunge, with intention, into Warrior III without using my hand. My foot firmly planted, stable on the earth. My leg shakes like nothing I’ve ever felt – a tremor rising from the inside, up and outward – but I am steady. Prana. I glide into Standing Split, light touch to the floor. We rise, Exhalted. I am still steady. In transition. Prana revealed.

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On an island, I read a poem out loud and discover exactly what I want it to feel like if I fall in love.

I hike narrow & steep trails in falling light with OWL on my back because I promised him a waterfall. We make it back before dark.

I remember unexpectedly touching the lips of a friend days before he moved thousands of miles away, the experience of true a moment where the past dissolved and the future didn’t exist. A feeling that, I now suspect, may exist out there, even for me, in that shaky unknowable someday.

I tell myself it is okay to touch the tiny beautiful things that are offered to me.

I try to remember that betrayal and the willingness to stay open in light of a past that’s been undermined and a future I don’t always trust is the gateway to the present moment. That I am on the threshold.

I bathe my baby in a dish pan set atop a picnic table in the woods next to a lake.

I sit in circles and lines and listen to the breath of friends & strangers — sometimes rapid, sometimes breathless, sometimes wet with tears — and join the chorus where emptiness and form make nobility.

I promise to slow down the constant testing.

I ride my bike for miles.
20.
16.
204
5.
11.
28.
9.
(And learn the value of bike shorts & espresso goo shots.)

I practice functional.noble silence.

I bask in the richness of our friendships. Meals made by human hands. Wine in the park. An unexpected (always invited) house guest. Evenings with babies and late night with mamas. Wheels over trails. Cushions in a row. Late night / early morning messaging.

I learn the words to Little Blue Truck.

I practice transforming the many mishaps.

I write in fits & starts. In fragments with a sense of things that will never see the light of day. A lot of notes, nothing coherent. Journals and notepads and folded sheets of loose leaf paper.

I submit 4 essays and hang out with an empty inbox.

I buy a new dress & plan for a picnic.

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It is a beautiful Spring day, the kind with magic in the drizzle and almost warm air, and listening to the planes and bird songs on the walk to the co-op with the tired OWL-babes in the pack, I felt like superMama. It’s a strength I wish I could crawl inside of right now, as babes naps through the sun break and I sit here instead of cleaning. I suspect though, that it is indeed that strength that allows me to write through this tangle instead of shutting down among the brooms and mops.

Last Friday, I looked different. Like a small worry that had grown too big for itself lifted and dissolved. But the other night I noticed that it is back, and I hardly recognize myself again. The lines in my face, the shape of my cheeks, the definition of my torso and soft curve of my belly. I tried to trace all my lines, follow the turns, the rise and fall of breath inside my chest. I tried to examine the expressions, the places that no one ever sees, so that someone bears witness to all these changes, the shifts in the gravity of love and birth and loss. But I don’t know if I can, if I have the courage to study and stay, to inhabit the compassion I need. Stand like mountain, give like water, shine like the sun.

I find myself dwelling in that place of small mind, the one where I can draw a straight line through all my mistakes and fuck ups to this exact moment and say – “Aha! Of course I am here. It all makes sense and there is no way through or out of this mess!” Every little thing is attached to the storyline of never good enough, never enough. And I mean really, that well appears quite limitless.

The problem is that I cannot start where I am, at this moment in time, from this place. Because all those years of waiting – waiting for things to be okay so that they could get great – are heavy and big and I can’t figure out how or where to set them down. Because all those years of self-restricted forward motion – half steps and big slides back – are like a dam that will not hold, even though small mind is scrambling like mad to plug the holes with guilt and inadequacy and fear. But my heart also knows that the price of waiting, for me, has been non-action, never doing, and not necessarily better or wiser decisions. I’ve learned to let go of (some) outcomes, and trust that the path will provide the opportunities. But can I also let go of the path I see, the path for which I plunged myself into the murky depths of mental illness and worked my ass off to reach?

And didn’t I already start where I was when I stepped out of my skin and onto a cushion in a room full of strangers and committed to wake up, to feel and be present? The thing that’s a bitch, I see now, is that the whole point is that we start we are over and over again. OVER AND OVER. AGAIN. Small mind feels duped. And vast mind is…. on vacation? Hallucinating topographic maps and listening to birds?

I’ll write and clean and sit and wait for its return.

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