In the Arriving

I rested my hand on his shoulder.  Confident and firm, but the trust was still brittle.  We accelerated through cyclists and peddlers and ornately decorated rickshaws and buses with flailing young boys hanging out of the sides, careening the streets to enroll passengers.  Aggressive taxis and the occasional meandering cow muddled the traveling stream as well.  Bending with the silhouette of the lake, we rumbled further into rice paddies through muddy gingerline colored earth stitching the patchwork of fields.

His smile would mirror back your worth. Spectacular aesthetically, still, the poise of his eyes possessed a focus that believed in the value of the fixated object.  Typically scattered in motion, yet soft in presence when they finally landed.  The stable base to the sharpness of his eyes, was his ever present, perfectly aligned teeth in a capaciously framed mouth.  The smile, almost as constant a companion to him as the beloved Royal Enfield humming between our legs.

We were heading to a stupa outside of the city of Pokhara.  A whitewashed stone, sacred site meticulously built and humbly inarticulate, the grandeur muted by its longevity, on top of a ridge above the streams and trickles of eclectically gathered scurriers and drifters and journeyers.  Gurung was a waiter for a coffee shop I frequented.  The balcony strapped to the outside of the small venue kept the AnnaPurna still and subtle before my eyes, a deeply moving scene to write and journal before in the mornings, ahead of daily excursions.  Enthusiastic by the delivery of warmth and sincerity in our gestures and questioning of one another, we celebrated a quickly sound friendship.  Though we had a mere few hours of interaction, we took off on an adventure to a sight neither of us had seen.

The peak dangled closer.  Nearing the stupa, we taxingly climbed the crudely cut ivory steps teething out of the hilltop.  I love man’s desire to institute a site as sacred and set apart.  Our arrogant authority in our ability to only title and name.

Gurung, more than I,  drew honestly and mightily from his pseudo-healthy state, a blessing of youth rather than manicured care or effort.  Also, I think he smoked, which I have no evidence for jealously inferring.  Oh well, I thought, I’ll get to the stout, stubby Buddha quicker.  At the top, we removed our shoes and reverently walked around the rim, randomly pantomiming out to scenes that caught our attention across the verdant landscape.  Metal plates of scripted words circled the enshrinement.  I wish I knew all the great religions mantras and scripted prayers.  I think more so, I just wish I had some ruminating in my heart.  Like my thoughts and mind musings were just strewn out on the back side of a page embossed with braille, so maybe they’d have some direction, falling into the rivets and dents of prayers as they move along the surface of my soul.  That’s how I like to think of prayers and chants and meditations on holy texts.  Something that gets at you.  It creates cavities and gaps and textures on the exterior of your soul, so when traffic embraces you, as you mount the on-ramp to the freeway or you burn the blueberry lemon scones or a freak hail takes out your sunflowers in your garden, or planners and schedules and agendas become a thing, splashing and sloping against you, they can spill out of the channels and depressions carved by spiritual formation.

And maybe, just maybe, they’re deep enough to hold the weight and flow of our great sufferings through life, a shattered dream or life altering illness, or maybe even the loss of a loved one.

I looked back at young Buddha.  A statue of a handsome man before he let himself go.  We tried not to talk as we rounded the precipice.   When we felt satisfied and holy enough, we gathered our shoes, and with delight, started the far less demanding descent.  Extending meekly into the path was the limb of a cherry blossom tree.  I reached for an opened bud, holding it loosely.  Motioning to the flower, Gurung speaks, “Do you love, or do you like?”  I was really proud of his English proficiency, though I’m not sure polishing the brokenness in his speech could still resonate with the same intensity of his non-verbals in this moment.  Really, most of the time.  I said, pausing extensively, as I often do, “I love it.”  Which was true!  After trying to internally tare various levels of admiration and worth alongside their adversative counterparts, I remembered Elie Wiesel’s quote:  “The opposite of Love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

He replied, “Then you’ll let it be.”  I smiled back in agreement.  I don’t think beauty needs our ownership either, but our amazement.

We continued at a slow, appreciative pace.  Reaching the bottom, we hummed away.

 

Scarcity Culture in our Gardens

I moved to Austin, TX.  A progressive bubble that’s convenient and easy for escapism.   Materialism and energy intensive lifestyles find justification and acceptance in liberal flare.  Ownership and responsibility befall the “right” politician voted into representation.  Hands washed. It’s not Austin’s fault.  A city is a city.  Gentrification is a universal plight of the marginalized and cavernous rifts between socioeconomic classes is an ubiquitous injustice. What breaks my heart is the scarcity culture of the food sustainability movement here.

The individual “self” of the contemporary collective consciousness is heralded in our growing culture.  “Self”- sustainability wallows in it’s own meritousness and self-preservation of effort.  We can have an anemic communit, coexisting with healthy self-contained pockets of growing initiatives.  The hip trend is to buy local and organic produce, to distance yourself and vote with your credit card.

Sauntering through a farmer’s market last Saturday, I was struck with the realization that I was participating in an economy of privilege.  A level of monetary, white-inherited privilege afforded me the opportunity to take care of myself in wholesome sustenance and invest in my local food shed.  The belief, yet fallacy of neo-liberal stances, is that my consumerism is good and prudent and involved, but not self-serving.  We lack the connectivity ontology in how we cultivate and grow for our neighborhoods and blocks and families.  We look out for ourselves, filling a lucrative niche market in our capitalist culture.

The Trump era themes of seclusion and isolation for protection of oneself, propaganda advocating an insular preservation of an individual’s patch or island, is a malignant cancer through our urban agriculture growing movements and popularity in homesteading lifestyles.  If you can work to defend and protect your future, and yours alone, then you’re doing enough for societal ills.  “Personal acts of Love” should always trump “distant acts of service.”  To be sentient of the source is not enough.  Participating in a healthy food web requires more than consumerist driven action.  We have to engage in initiatives changing the language and dynamic of our food culture into one of community-based sustainability.

 

  • Lack of perennial efforts and intiatives
  • Scarcity Culture, seclusion
  • Trendy innovative

I watched a brilliant series on Netflix, titled “Top Chef.”  The array of colors extend beyond my bank of descriptive anchors and the cinematic angling of the scenes invoke a personal, sentient draw.  They’re beautiful stories.  Our stories.

Themes:  cultural absolutism, scarcity culture, elitism, self-sustainability, language, spiritual ecology, ethics, individual “self”, capitalism, priviledge-based participation, self-contained, connectivity ontology, an “ontology” in self-gratification and sentient of source

 

The Wailing Wall

 

A quilted patchwork of stone,  pristine and immutable to centuries of wind and rain and sun, breaks at the rim to blue.  Jews and seekers and the penitent congregate at the base of the cascade of ivory, a bulwark before the devoted and curious.  Tatters of parchment, icing the cracks and crevices with the glue of hope and heart, silently petition in their presence and poise.  The human condition, an impetus to our collective Muses as we face the blocks and links and layers, welcome of some ethereal ascent.  Motives of chant come in and out of audible, prayers bolstered in voice and vowel, or behind sealed eyes of the reverently motionless.  In the density of those searching and attentive and opening and silencing and sweating, you breathe “the breath inside the breath.”  Indian mystic, Kabir, understood the unspoken fraternity that comes alive in whom and to we’ve always been native.

The sanctity of the Wailing Wall, or maybe it’s a constructed sanctity rising in the air around it, regardless, is still alluring and enticing of a reality commonly lived outside of.

I miss it.

Let Go

You can’t recapture the faith of your youth; it’s a disconnected, false reality.  A blissful prison.

Pull up every staked belief objectifying and falsifying and personifying a deity into understandable, compartmentalized rigidity.  Let Go.  Embrace an ontological stance that calls for nakedness and vulnerability.  Become one with the acute responsibility threading through your actions and posture and cultivated attitude.

 

Lost Spry

I remember scrambling over the train, throwing my bike across my shoulder and climbing  stilled boxcars. Sopping wet, singing at the top of my lungs, and setting my sites on upcoming puddles promising the biggest splashes as I remounted from the other side.  In the spring and summer of 2014, the seams of  heaven loosened to historic levels of inclement rains on our semi-arid desert region; intoxicating balcony sessions filled my evenings with a slung hammock, interminable coffee allotments, and soul-wrecking books.

In the mornings, I had a circuit of figure eights I’d imprint around the trees:  praying and laughing, touching blooms and blossoms, whispering to the clouds, listening to serenity’s secrets as the morning bustle awoke, imposing her departure.  ‘Seducive’ has always been the tone of morning’s approach to my awake.  A tanilizing solemnity that enratpures and stimulates with the sensitivity and arousal of an old lover’s touch and presence, forever favored by time and its phlegmatic inducing; who is seemingly a closet, hopeless romantic.

There are trees I remember.  Scripted into creation for my discovery.  Their dendritic patterns lacing the sky as I lay on my back counting leaves, those heroic holdouts left self-commissioned under a moral obligation to grant us with color until winters reprise.  I guess it’s spots.    There are colors that have arisen behind my eyelids in meditation, eternally present.   The cool touch of rocks, whose embrace I still feel touching my skin as the seat to a masterpiece before my eyes.   Those places where divinity speaks without words and serenades without song.  Those moments of poetic glimmers, attuned to and surrendered in.  Symphonic interabiding of colors, breath, wishes, and bliss.  I have rocks and spots and trees held sacred to me. I’ve felt moments lapped in wonder.

I need to remember to be youthful. Remember to play. Remember to sing. Remember the euphoric moments ever present and waiting.

 

As the Earth Teaches: soft-hippie insights

I didn’t have to ask.  They were and had already been speaking, waiting for a heart to be attuned to timeless truths. The grassses and purples and expanse and silence and sun clearly spoke of a way of being, intoxicating and euphoric and simple and reminiscent. I was wooed by nature’s resident mystics.

The trees taught me to reach out.

Extend yourself and stretch yourself.  Be something for someone.  Whether listening ears to a songbird’s morning litany or a refuge from the sun’s bullying.

Mantras of loyalty to stranger and old friend bind their being.

The little girl, makes her plight, to shade and protect through moments of passing.  The avid book reading depends on your faithfulness to accompany pages of adventure and tear-induced writings.  And we all know you to be the arm we can trust as we swing back and forth to gravity’s invisible dominion.  “Lean out,” the trees say.  “Show up for everyone.”

The flowers didn’t console me beforehand, but thankfully wrote me into the ownership and stewarding of admiration.  I’m now entitled to beauty and all it’s beholdings.  They give me a new definition of self-disclosure, where everyone has already been invited into complete exposure to delight.  They offer themselves so liberally and willingly:  “Please take a pedal, take and pick.  We’re yours to smell and toss, revere and let be, or bind and gift for the heart of your love.”  They benevolently hold and hug the barren, uncovered ground “to reteach a thing its loveliness” (Kinnell).  “Be selfless,” they say.  “Remind others of their beauty.”

Clouds make a mockery of the arts, and their well-manicured, lethargic progression through time, meddling all genres in a day.  I feel they need all that billow and fluff and cushion to soften their oneriness.  Sometimes opting for minimalism in acute, archetypal drifts or void-embellished space in expectation.  You’ve had thousands of suns and moons to introduce and erase your work.  With a ob description “to captivate,” I’m sure therein lies divine protection from artist’s block.  Empty skies are ust time spent churning color combinations behind the curtains of mountains.  Reprised colors and hues, seemingly archived away from the past few generations of onlookers, stir anticipation and attentiveness. Fleeting masterpieces in extravagance.  Castles built for moments. The earth plays the part of easel, commissioned by the sky. Horizon, graciously agrees to mantle their works on his shoulders.  I’m sure the imposed man-made streaks leave them haughty at our feeble attempt to participate, slightly annoyed at our intrusion.  “Be creative,” taunt the clouds.”The world needs your stroke and song.”

Maybe I can be contemplative meets youthful lover.  Here’s to a “poetic instants.”

 

 

Sacramental Tears

Kinship is the deliberate hemming of hearts.  A seam that shapes and pantomimes and pulls you along others circumstances and struggles.  Beyond fraternal bonds, alliances, similarities, shared vision, affinity, lineage-induced loyalty, convenience;  it’s living your life with another.  Shared tears come to mark the enormity of devotion, communal suffering becomes the touchstone of intimacy, and Love finds strength in the interchange of laughter.  Kinship is participating in a communal well-being.  It’s a ‘managing a commons,’ of sorts, in a unified soulscape.  Grief and Joy are a collective, shared experience in a fellowship dedicated to celebrating successes and mourning struggles as One.  There is a singleness, in true kinship,  tightening the circle of everyone; seeing inclusion as “being with,” not “being for” another.  

Unfortunately, expectations from a “misguided search at compensation” often accompany the idea of community. Community, as well as relationships for that matter, are not intended to be a mutual exchange, an economic pact, assurances, or a merit system based on your own personal investment.  Frequently found rooted in the human condition of unresolved, continual suffering of the unconscious, impure engagement acts in acquisition and grasping: “We need, in love,to practice only this: letting each other go. For holding on comes easily; we do not need to learn it” (Rilke).  Situational comfort,  anticipated security of who you are/could be lead to become, or any means of expected compensation will be exposed in time by its small and fragile ability to act as ligatures or links in a sustained kinship.  

Personal purpose statements and vision are easy to walk away from.  Power and control remain in the hands of the individual when community becomes defined by functionality and efficacy.  Catching the tears of a brother, puts the drop of sorrow within the corners of your own eye, a welling reciprocity and budding of affection.  Mary Mrozowski, founder of the ‘The Welcoming Prayer’ spiritual exercise, prays this at the conclusion of the practice:  I let go my desire for security and survival.  I let go my desire for esteem and affection. I let go my desire for power and control. I let go my desire to change the situation.

Descriptive of energy strongholds of the ego, I think it’s additionally, beautifully applicable to a repose one should take living in committed kinship.  Coupling this invitation into self-disclosure and self-emptying, there lies an essential, unread footnote, to be “guardians of their solitude,” as poet Rainer Rilke invites.


“But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.”  – Rilke


Share tears, a pulse, middle pieces of the brownie pan, embrace, interlocked fingers, warmth, family annoyances, the gas bill, morning stillness, laughter, excitement, celebration, achievement, wonder, reverie, shades of blue, car rides, ears bent to distant church bell chimes, openness, smiles, forgiveness, spilled coffee, frustrations,  songs without words, affirmation, life-instilling gazes,  new-Neil-Patrick-Harris-centered Netflix series, library space, shower time, your first words spoken in a prayer, hugs (always hugs), doubt, discomfort, your vices, fears, and then you’ll always find Love in the act of.

I’m humbled to have found my community.  A real, eternal kinship.