Thursday, November 29, 2012


when that idea
that has been burrowing its way
up from your soul
surges up
and threatens to explode
from the tip
of your paintbrush

when your most raw
most secret feeling
pushes up against you
backs you into the wall
and whispers
a poem
in your ear
and asks you
to write it down

when something calls your name
and you follow it into
the darkness
where it comes up behind you
and insistently presses
warm clay in your hands
and coaxes you to
tenderly finger it
until it is the form
that it has been
begging to take

pick up your pen
seize your clay
hold your fingers above the keys
grasp your brush
brace yourself

then let go
lean back into
open up

look it in the eyes
let it almost violently
strip you
of your doubts
and fears

bare yourself brazenly
and without hesitation
feel the warm
weight of what was
in you
all along

let your head
and tender places
be scraped raw
don't hide
don't want to
let yourself be ripped open

and when it
rises up inside you
you will know
you will be swept up into it
and then

let yourself come undone
let it overtake you
let it fill you
until you are

and then
your neck arched back
and your entire being laid open
let the holy

rush of inspired expression




and now breathe

to the sigh of satisfaction
from between your own lips
that you will realize
you heard
in the bright flash
of your first moment
of consciousness

feel the pressure subside
feel the inspiration release you
feel the glow of knowing
what was in you
was drawn from within
sucked from the depths
and is finished

know with all of you
know unequivocally
know sweetly
stretch out in the knowing
feel the knowing in every pore
take all of the knowing
wrap the knowing around you
luxuriate in the knowing

that what was created
through you
is beautiful

breathe again
and now


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

One Floor Below

Behind my sunglasses and paperback, on the patio of a beachfront hotel last summer I underwent a transformation.

I am attempting to describe the connection I was a silent witness to during those weeks on the coast last summer. I was changed every day just a little, simply by absorbing the part of their lives they spent together just below me. I saw and heard enough in those two short weeks to write a book about.

Sometimes they sat holding hands, watching the sun duck below the horizon and behind the surf, leaving a pink- and orange-
streaked sky behind. Sometimes they talked slowly and quietly with long, heavy, familiar pauses in between. Other times they sat at the tiny table while they animatedly discussed some topic or another. If wine came out, within a half hour, she was up on her feet pacing around the patio and gesticulating wildly as she spoke.

Sometimes they sat with their chairs pushed together and a huge quilt pulled around them both. Sometimes she sat on the ground on a cushion and leaned her head on his knee while they talked, idly stroking his hand and eyes fixed on him. Other times one or the other would come out alone and then when the door opened and the other walked out, both faces lighted up at seeing one another, even if they had just been inside together five minutes before.

One night I watched her come out of their hotel room and quietly approach him from behind. She leaned into him as he stood, forearms resting on the patio bars, looking out at the ocean. He turned around and wrapped his arms around her, then stroked her hair and whispered into her ears something I couldn't hear from my chaise. It was the kind of embrace you would see and think was a goodbye, it was so tender and full.

These two knew full well the nature of growth: that you can't tell someone else which way to grow or make them grow in a specific direction except by stunting their growth or worse. I had come to that realization on my own before that summer but I'd never seen it in a real relationship.

They talked long about the wonder they each felt at being able to witness and experience the magic of the other's authentic growth. I began to understand that they loved experiencing the other's growth and movement more than they loved safety, stability, or an unchanging and mutual address. I couldn't even tell if they shared a home or if they'd rendezvoused at that hotel after a long journey from opposite directions.

They talked only sometimes about the future but not in the way you'd expect two retirees to talk. I learned over the weeks that they couldn't even conceive of planning their elderly lives together unless it was to say, as he so eloquently put it one starless night.

"I can't imagine us interfering with one another's growth. It's unthinkable." He shook his head and then leaned toward her. "That's why I can say, my dear, that when we are old I am almost sure I will be in your life. Though we can't see where our individual trajectories will take us until then, I am sure I will be your lover or your friend. Or both!"

They both chuckled and then she pulled his head toward her and kissed him long and hard. He pulled away and held both her hands in his.

"No matter where I am standing in relation to you," he continued, looking intently at her, "watching you grow and process is one of the most beautiful, magical sights I've ever seen. I trust us to be our authentic, individual selves, even if that means we naturally grow apart. But you, sweet girl, with your eyes and hands and mouth open wide for whatever is next ... You are breathtaking. I will never be able to stop thinking so. And the way your whole self rushes fearlessly into what is next, no matter how terrified you may be ... Darling, you are the strongest and most beautiful to me in those moments."

My eyes blurred with tears. I watched as she took him by the hand and led him through the sliding glass door. I sat in silence, tears rolling down my cheeks.

"It's too late now," I whispered to myself. "I know now that two people can love one another like those two do. I can't unknow it now."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Even More Musings on Love

What if Loving and Being Loved is only ever the by-product of two people who are living their authentic true selves individually and in doing so connect with one another? What if most of what we think of as "love" (i.e. marriage, fidelity, romance, passion) are forms and behaviors that try to "mimic" the naturally-occurring characteristics of Loving and Being Loved? What if these forms are essentially trying to "package" real emotions, thoughts, feelings and reactions in a way that gives us the illusion that we can own, keep and depend upon them never changing? What if real, true Loving and Being Loved occurs in the places we least expect it, when our guard is down, when our belts are undone, when when our hair is loose and we are sitting criss cross applesauce in our fuzzy socks, holey t-shirts and flannel jammie pants, talking from our real selves in an utterly relaxed and unconscious way because there is no illusion left? What if real intimacy can't even begin to be experienced until we are, spiritually, lying exhausted, snotty-nosed and hiccuppey from sobbing out the most shameful and repressed story we had sworn we'd never tell anyone, and we find someone's arms around us, their lips gently kissing our eyelids and forehead and their voice whispering in our ears, "I am so sorry you carried so much shame all alone for all these years." What if we are busy doing the equivalent of staging pictures of life's most tender moments rather than feeling what fills us when we actually experience those tender moments? What if we are doing the equivalent of sleeping next to a paper cut-out of our beloved, not understanding why we don't feel warm skin, soft hair, and flesh against flesh when we embrace it? No, we don't feel satisfied. Yes, marriages aren't sustainable at least half the time. Of course we are left with carcasses of dead relationships that we don't know where or how to bury. Obviously, we are confused, the desire for the real deal always just the tiniest bit stronger than the fatigue and disappointment of love, once again, eluding us. But still we keep reaching and chasing. We keep longing despite our oaths to ourselves to stop expecting the impossible. What if it's as simple seeing who ends up being beside us when we find ourselves swept up in the current of being real and living the life we need and want? What if we have to walk through a doorway that no one else seems to even notice and that seems to scare everyone else before we can step into a garden the person we might love and be loved by stepped into through a doorway in their world that was equally unpopular or easy to walk through? What if it's as simple as being on the way to who i really am and doing what feels right and good inside, I meet someone else on that road?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Some Musings on Love

Night before last I watched a beautiful movie, "The Exotic Marigold Hotel."

One of the main characters is a widow who was married 40 years and after her husband's death discovers debt that he kept a secret from her. This discovery makes it necessary for her to sell her home and find a job. She finds a job, as well as herself in the process, but for much of the movie she is quietly processing the way "you never really know anyone."

The turning point in the movie is when one of the male characters, a retired judge, goes to look for the man he has been in love with for decades but hasn't seen since youth. The judge finds the man, now married, who confesses in front of his wife that he also has loved the judge all these years.

The widow has to know: did the man's wife know this secret before the moment she heard her husband confess it to the judge? She can't imagine how or why the wife just stood there. She finds the wife and asks her questions. She finds out the wife DID know her husband was in love with another man, and that she'd known this since before they were married.

The widow says to her friend, incredulously, "His wife knew all along. They had no secrets from one another." She paused and asked, quietly and with pain in her voice, "That's how it's meant to be, isn't it?"

I cried.

Like the widow in the movie I have learned that I want to have relationships in which I need not hide my true self and in which the other person's true self is not hidden from me. To be known fully and know fully and for there to be love, connection and a shared life built on that foundation ... Oh my god ... That IS heaven to my way of thinking.

Intimacy for me is hiding nothing. I am in a constant state of curiosity about, and uncovering and understanding of, myself and the other person.

In fact, I think relationships are the place or the "platform" on which knowing and showing my true self occurs. It is the soil in which self-awareness grows. And it is when we process, examine, put into words and bare our true selves WITH others that we are truly known and therefore can feel, coming and going, loving and being lived, for real.

And yet, over and over, I hide my true self from those whose love I desire or those whose love I'm afraid of losing. It is a habit birthed in childhood and it is totally fear-based. I show a version of myself I think the other person will approve of, even when that's not my intention.

The cost is high: the moment I feel the other person's love for me or their desire of relationship with that "version" of me I've shown them is the moment I begin to feel rejection and the moment in which the relationship has become doomed. If they don't know the real me but say/feel they love me, my heart sinks and I ultimately end up leaving the relationship or unconsciously throwing a bomb in it.

It's not that I tell lies about myself, leave out pieces of my story or stuff my bra. I am actually really super honest about who I am. Sometimes, I've been told, to a fault.

No, the showing of a version of myself only happens slowly, subtly and usually without my knowing ...

-It happens when I do something I didn't really want to do but failed to object to because I didn't want to offend or frustrate the other person.

-It happens when I don't say something that is from my heart because I'm afraid of hurting, scaring off or in some way negatively impacting the other person's happiness in a relationship with me.

-It happens when I feel hurt and I decide not to say that I am hurt but instead make up a story that takes the other person off the hook for being rude, mean, or unkind to me.

-It happens when I don't listen to myself enough to hear that I don't trust the other person but then I share myself with them anyway.

It happens in hundreds of different ways. And I'm working on the ones I'm aware of. But they are drops in the bucket compared to the ways I do this, and/or the other person does it, totally UNconsciously.

That's a new piece of the puzzle for me: the understanding that no matter how badly I want and work toward total nakedness and fearless authenticity, it's impossible to achieve completely. Impossible. I KNOW that this means the possibility of forging an authentic connection between myself and another person, or/and the POSSIBILITY of unconditional love or sustainability of the connection is very slim.

Actually, chances are great I'm going to fuck up every intimate relationship I take part in. And most people will equally fail at revealing their true selves to me. But I can't stop wanting to succeed. I can't stop wanting authentic connection in spite of the odds being way against me.

There are maybe two or three people with whom I'm close to absolutely fearless about showing my true self and for whom I don't edit myself. They are all women. And I value those relationships. It is those that teach me that I can be authentic. They help me know I'm capable of fearless connection.

Why are these relationships different? I have really been asking myself to look beyond the surface, past even the "I'm able to be myself" part. Or the "they're women" dynamic.

I think this is the major difference in these fearless connections I do have:

-There's a wanting and trying to be known more than I'm wanting and trying to be approved of.

-There's a wanting on the part of the other person to be known by me more than they want approval from me.

-There's a mutual enjoyment of knowing and being known and even a feeling of understanding ourselves better by knowing the other person's messy, complicated, beautiful selves.

-There is a give and take of "taking off of our clothes."

-There is a back and forth of telling the stories we are proudest of, most ashamed of and that hurt us most.

-There is the dropping of guard and the talks that end with, "I've never told anyone that," or, "I thought I was the only one who felt like that," or, "You make me feel normal!"

-There's the mutually risky chance-taking of telling the truth about ourselves that we are most afraid of anyone knowing and finding that, incredibly, the telling made us more human and validated the experience of the other person.

- There's hearing that my telling my truth gave the other person more courage and have less fear about showing their true selves.


Is it possible to have such a connection with someone of the opposite sex? I think it is highly unlikely ... but possible.

But is it possible to have that kind of connection after I've had sex with them? My experience says no, it's not possible. That the nature of "romantic" relationships is that 99% of the time those are the connections I'm MOST afraid of being myself in and in which I am MOST hiding, even if I don't want to be.

And yet. I want both.

I can see the reality of the severe unlikelihood of having both a fearless/mutually knowing the other person and wanting to be known AND a sexual-romantic relationship. But I can't NOT see that I'm never going to be sustainably happy in a romantic-sexual relationship that doesn't involve a mutual desire for authenticity and knowing/being known.

I'm not sure what to do with the knowing of that other than know it. That feels pretty good, though. It feels like relief to admit to myself that I am not going to be happy in connections in which I'm not able to be myself and/or the other person isn't equally wanting that. It feels good to say that I'm not able to want that enough for two people; my wanting it is not enough and I am not going to be able to "teach" someone who doesn't already have an internal motivation of this kind, to have it. It feels like a relief to say, "This is really rare and you are very likely not going to experience it, but knowing that is better than trying to make yourself be ok with less than what you really want."

Other than that, the only thing I know to do is what a friend said last week. He said, "I just know I need to do things differently than I've done them." That looks like different things for different people but for me it means becoming more conscious of what I have been doing and about what I do each day. I have just a few practical steps for myself that I'm trying and will hopefully continue to find more. For now here's what I'm going to do differently:

-Not going to trade my peace/positive energy for human interaction. What that means is that when I'm lonely and attention-starved I'm not going to spend time and energy with people who don't want to know/be known. It's not worth it; the cost is too high.

- I'm going to keep showing my true self/speaking my truth to those I spend time with, knowing that it's worth it to me to do so, even if it leads to the other person rejecting me.

-I'm going to resist the urge to try to coax or teach someone to show me their true self. I'm going to take them at their word. If they aren't internally motivated to know/be known, I'm not going to judge them but I'm not going to try to fix or help them, either.

-I'm going to be cautious about showing/sharing too much of me before I know whether or not the other person is interested in mutual knowing/being known.

"If you want something you've never had, then you have to do something you've never done."