Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me & Hugs to You

Last night I went to bed with a terrible headache from my sinus infection. My nose drained lots of glop, and then a steady river of slime. The antibiotics are doing their job.

My birthday is a strange day for me. On this day I am reminded of the losses of my mother, father, and sister. With age I have achieved a bit more balance in my grief. I also think of the friends and family that have blessed me with their love, and that helps me take some of the sting out. If I remain in a place of gratitude, I can get through it pleasantly...if I indulge feelings of grief, abandonment and rejection I will end up face-down sobbing on my bed. I used to suffer greatly on this day. As a child, I didn't want anyone to know that I was in so much pain, but my birthday has always been a day of utter heartbreak until now, that is.

I feel as though my heart is opening. My heart has been constricted for some time, encapsulated by fear and anxiety. Last night I wrote on a friend's wall about how incredibly comforting her love and care were to me many years ago. She said that she didn't know that I felt this way. I didn't tell her.

I don't know what made me put so much of my heart on mute. Life is difficult, I suppose. I needed to retreat from people for a while.

I am consciously trying to turn up the volume again. I have a lot of feelings, a lot of deep emotional states.

When I was younger, I was capable of such tremendously potent emotional love. I loved in a way that was profound...and also dangerous because I didn't know the dharma yet. I had such power, but no wisdom. Now I have less power and perhaps a teeny bit of insight, LOL.

But at least now, I know how to welcome people into my heart.

My gurus have insisted that on the path one must " nurture a kind heart". I want people to know that I care about them.

I have a friend that is dying of stage 4 lymphoma and I am completely livid with her. I'm angry that she is going to die and abandon me. I'm angry that she has allowed fear of death to change her. My friend was a meditator that I admired, a practitioner that I perceived to have meditative nerves of steel. She is terrified right now. Right now, virtually everything she is doing is in reaction to fear- she is making desperate last-ditch attempts to save her life. She should be investing her energy into caring for the people that love her ( in my view)...but instead she is flailing around, trying to grab hold of anything that will prolong her life. Where is your dharma, friend?

I am having difficulty settling my mind in relation to my dying friend. Strangely enough, I feel very little compassion for her when I remind myself that she is extremely ill. My blood disorder did not change me in the ways her illness has changed her. I just don't understand how or why she is allowing her illness to give her license to forget to have a compassionate and mindful heart.

I'm angry at her. This is what she has been preparing for- this is the MOST IMPORTANT PERIOD OF TIME in her life...the moments before her death....and she is allowing her mind to run amok. She is being overtaken by fear.

It is so hard to watch.

I wrote her three letters this morning( only one of which I actually sent). In the letters I allowed myself to vent, to scream at her. In the letter I actually sent I let her know that I am hurting because she is hurting, and that I am grieving...that seeing her abandon her practice right now is very painful to watch.

My letter was written from a place of pseudo-anger. What I meant to say was, " I am so so very sad to see you in this much pain...and I will miss you terribly when you are gone."

My birthday has been fairly non-eventful. I've been hugging my dog and cooing to him in baby-talk, kissing his forehead. Ness managed to get food poisoning from a taco salad, and this has placed a damper on our plans to eat dinner at my favorite Indian restaurant " Taste of India". My sinus infection is giving me a hard time. We might stay in.

I have no complaints today. I'm grateful for all the love my friends and family have shown me.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Designing the Universe

Ness and I have reached an intersection within our relationship. This isn't quite impasse because we still have the emotional lability to be industriously cruel to one another. I feel an overwhelming love for her, a love which places my soul on spin-cycle, a love that fills me with mortal dread. She touches me and I coil because her touch awakens everything that is human within me. My preconcious mind always seems to be forcing itself through my perceptions in revelation after revelation. When my mind is in full swing, I close my eyes and hear a nonsensical chorus of anxiety-filled overtures- irrational and rational fears of rejection, abandonment...fears of going insane. And then I breathe, I invoke the power of breath. I release myself from any emotional investment in these thoughts, I decide not to worsen my own wounds by engaging in this emotional chatter and it stops. My mind quiets, and the anxiety has revealed itself to be empty. In one second I become the entire universe.

Lately, I question America's proclamation for desired separation of church and state. The state killing of Troy Davis raised new questions for me. The main question this event raised for me is- " are we going to allow the law to become God"? Are we going to allow the law to be our new God? Should the law have unlimited power to inflict judgements upon people's lives? Where do the limits of law end, and the divine rights of freedom infringe upon one another? Which of these should we protect- our right for freedom- or our right to collectively play God?

We have to be very careful. We need to choose wisely.

Some of us are vengeful and impulsive. No matter how you look at it- not all men are created equal- not all men have the capacity to rule wisely.

We have created a society in which money and fame are highly sought after. Could you imagine what our world would look like if this greed and hunger for fame were replaced with a spirit of compassion and respect for all life?

I am not interested in increasing the sense of US VERSUS THEM in the world. I'm not going to take sides because I want to have compassion for all people.

In fact, I have a tendency to distance myself from people who feed my ego by saying things like " you are a good person" bla bla bla. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I appreciate these sentiments, but they are dangerous for me. I do not want to fall back into certain ego trappings.

I have a very real sense of how impermanent life is. Even suffering is impermanent. I don't understand why so many people chase money instead of spiritually preparing themselves for death. Some people live like they will never die....and yet they always die in the end.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Living From the Heart Again: 28 Years of Life

I am sitting on the bed as I write this. Ness is curled up in a quilt, our red love- blanket spread across her body. I have just returned from the kitchen with an old jam jar filled with water and a croissant in a white paper bag. As I sat down, my cat pounced into the windowsill and perched himself there, staring into the magnolia trees in our yard. Earlier, I thought I had a good plan for how I would type and eat breakfast in bed without waking my wife. I had intended to place my jar of water into the sill...but with my cat Sadie there, this is no longer a viable option. Sadie enjoys knocking things over. I looked to my right and considered trying to balance the jar on the bed for a moment...but if I moved without thinking, or if someone else ( Ness, or our dog BB) moved suddenly the glass would spill and wet everything.

" Where can I place my jar so that it will remain full?" I asked myself.

And then I realized that this is the same question I have been asking myself for 8 years.

Where can I place my jar, so that it will not spill over accidentally? Where can I put my jar, so that I will comfortably be able to drink from it when I need to?

I have been searching for the answer to that question for a very long time.

This morning, an idea occurred to me that might actually be a viable answer, " open a meditation center". A great answer.

This could be a real possibility for me down the road. I would like very much for us to buy a plot of land on which we could live, own a meditation retreat, and run a simple vegan restaurant. It would bring Ness' passion and mine together in a way that each would compliment the other, and in the middle of this little oasis, we could find ways to bring our families back together.

My wife looks a bit strange right now. One foot is high up on a cushion facing downward, and the other is contorted in a sideways position. I must have looked silly yesterday too. I won't go into too many details here, but I had reason to believe that something terrible had happened to my wife. In the 45 minute period that ensued while the police searched for her, all kinds of macabre and disturbing fears terrorized me. I sat in the dining room, completely hysterical, sobbing uncontrollably. I called everyone that she knows, pleading with them to please call me if she phoned them. I prayed.

A few minutes later the police showed up on my doorstep, announcing that everything was just fine. Ness had only taken a stroll in the park. No one had harmed her. " She's right over there if you want to talk to her" the officer told me, and I looked over to see the love of my life chatting with three or four cops down the street. I walked down the hill in what felt like slow motion and the moment I was near her, emotions just started pouring out of me. " I thought you were dead!" I wailed. Ness looked at me and her face turned from anger to sympathy. She turned to the cops, thanked them and rushed me off before too much more of a scene could be made. She later told me that I looked totally destroyed and as if I was just hanging on by a limb. That's pretty much how I felt when I feared that I would never see my wife again. I felt as though I would just give anything to speak to her one more time... and through all of my self-made samsara, she was fine. She'd been fine all along.

Loss can really rack your brain. It can make you imagine terrible things when everything is perfectly fine. Trauma can do the same thing. It can cause you to make enemies out of people who really only mean well.

My birthday is in a few days. I used to have so much trouble with my birthday. On my birthday, I used to lash out at people, and I used to cry ad grieve for my first mother. It was not a day I could celebrate. On my birthday my heart was heavy, and everything reminded me of the family I lost many many years ago. I felt like some kind of cosmic joke on that day.

This morning, I started to think of the evolution my personality and spirit have undergone. I still struggle with how to live in the world, but I think I'm moving in the right direction. I have learned to appreciate my wife, my parents, my grandparents, my cousins, my extended family. I have allowed myself to search for the meaning of life.

In some ways, I feel as though I was born into a trap- and in other ways, I feel that I was very very blessed. I have had to overcome the loss of my first mother, father, and sister. Starting out this way wasn't easy...but I was adopted by people who love me. Even though there are a few people in my family that are unable to extend themselves to me, I am lucky because I can count these people on one hand. In life, although I have lost a lot, I think I have gained much much more.

On Sept 28th, I will be able to celebrate 28 years of life. 28 years of experiences. I have met strange birds. I have survived intense periods of grief and loss. I have been privileged enough to witness change. I have evolved. I have continually tried to understand the universe and myself. I have sought life. I have loved with my entire heart in the best way I know how.

If nothing else, I think I am finally allowing myself to be just be true. I didn't feel as though I could do that before. I felt very threatened and rejected by the world at large.... but this is now.... I have grown, I have changed. The world has grown and changed, my parents have grown and changed.

I was heartbroken when I learned that Troy Davis was put to death. I called the Georgia Parole Board and Supreme Court many times to advocate for him. For me, this was a very complex legal and emotional issue. Regardless of what Troy did, we have to decide what kind of society we want to be- the kind of example we want to set. Are we going to listen to what our citizens want? Is public outrage important? Should we allow criminals time to change, grow, and evolve? Should we hold ourselves responsible for creating a world in which people get left behind? Humans prey on each other. We do this for oil, for money, for power. Are we ever going to look at the ways in which WE have been perpetrators against life... or are we going to abide by procedural evils which DO NOT HEAL our society. DO we want to allow the law to become God?