Saturday, June 30, 2007

Once in a Blue Moon

I am leaving June a different person than I was at its outset. So much so that I don't know where to begin when it comes to writing about it here. Yet I am walking around this day feeling a strong push to do so. So I shall make my attempt. I suspect this will come out in fragments, and read more like a stained glass window: kaleidoscopic at first glance, but with a shape, an integrity evident with a closer look. I think that is the only way to write this one, and at least once in a blue moon, I figure, I ought to give myself permission to do so.

Permission granted.

There are fireworks crackling outside the window. It is mid afternoon. Broad daylight. It doesn't matter to whoever is igniting them that it isn't dark: there simply are those enthusiasms that cannot be suppressed. That is how I've come to think of, to experience these random displays, mostly heard and only occasionally seen between the neighboring houses, and mostly occurring in the wee hours, after most folks have gone to bed. Earlier in the month, my first response was knee-jerk, habitual: "I hate the fourth of July. I can't wait 'til it's over." Sound like Love's way to you? Uh uh. And I recognized that, so I took another look. What I found was the enthusiasm I just spoke about, not associations to bombs bursting in air, to bloody battlefields, to death and destruction on the way to a victory. I started appreciating the popping and crackling, and even started running to the window in hopes I might catch a view of the scintillating light.


I was called a "lightworker" by a peer yesterday, and not for the first time. I like the term. Do I deserve this appellation? Oh, who knows, really. But I can tell you this: I have a different relationship to it, understanding of it, than I had a mere three weeks ago. Let me put it this way: I spent Wednesday, the height of the recent swelter, at Crane Beach in Ipswich. There, I experienced a contrast which surprised me. I didn't bring work, as I have other times; I'd done enough of that for the last two straight weeks, and this was to be a welcome reprieve. I did however bring two sorts of reading, and a notebook for writing. These never left the bag. I all but marveled at the complete stillness of my thinking mind, and its apparently utter contentment with its own blankness. How many times had I come to this pristine seaside preserve of inherent clarity and spaciousness and filled it with the contents of my busy mind? Many. It used to be that I would have to walk to be away from my beach companions so I could be with my web of thoughts, the sorting out, the....oh, I don't know: trying to 'make sense of it all,' I suppose. But this day I'd brought something to the beach that I didn't know I had packed. I think "peace of mind" is a fair label for it.

Such a stillness is not foreign to me, especially in recent years, but I'd never experienced it as completely as this. The internal dialogue had disappeared. A space which was once filled was now empty, and there wasn't even a hint of a craving to fill it. I'm not talking of a void or a flatness or lack by any means. So what am I talking about? A lightness of being. A freedom where there was once constraint, struggle, effort, a tight grasp.

I feel cliches coming on: in the flow, in the zone, etc. I could genuinely employ several of them here. My preferred language for the state of being I'm attempting to describe is not at all cliche, however. Not in this usage, anyway. The state of being I am trying to describe I call being in Love. Or, being in Love, nonspecific.

I am in Love like never before: it was true there in Ipswich, and it is true here now. That's what happened this June. I have been in Love, nonspecific, many times, but never so sustainedly. By "like never before," then, I mean IN Love. In the same way that I'm IN my office, typing this, or IN my car when I'm driving, or IN Ipswich when I'm lying on Crane Beach. Up to now, my occasions "in Love" have been more like glimpses from the doorway: peeks. Or perhaps more accurately, quick tours of the room (if Love is a room...), then out again. In and out. In and out. Perfect: that brings me to what happened. What happened that I am now IN Love, perhaps to stay? I'm laughing now: it's humorous, really. And it goes like this:

In my toddler years, I was raised like a twin. With just 22 months between us, my sister and me were as good as a pair. My mother often bought things in twos--dresses, shoes, swimsuits--and I don't remember disliking this at all. In fact, in my earliest memories, corroborated by old photographs, we were best friends. We played well together. We shared a bedroom. We conspired in staying up whispering or reading by flashlight under the sheets well after my mother had put us to bed for sleep. We were a team, especially when it came to the dictatorship that was my brother, the oldest. We knew to make sure he won at board games, to make haste in the bathroom if he came knocking at the door: this to avoid a good punching out. There's no need for me to linger on this subject, but there it is, just enough for the sake of context: we were buddies, allies. Or such was my experience.

And then we weren't.

I could say the day or days came that my brother decided he needed a brother, and he hired my sister for the position on the spot. Perhaps it was simply a matter of their gradually (or not so) discovering that they were both the more left-brain oriented among us, and equally inclined toward and gifted at various sports. I was none of these things, and so it makes perfect sense really that they would be the logical twosome among us. A twosome they became and a twosome they remained for the longest time. Not even the best logic softened the impact of what I understood to be the reality of the situation, though: I got dumped, and it felt like hell.

Ah, my first dumping: there it was. I believed I'd gotten to the source of something, and I had. But that's not the matter. The matter is what I did with this clear insight. I decided, in the way we're deciding all the time in response to various occurrences, exchanges, conditions, gestures, eye movements, tones of voice and such, that it reflected on me. I decided I was OUT. My sister was IN, and I was OUT. The third wheel, the less-than, the defective (of course they laughed when I joined them in touch football wearing a poofy blue dress and running always away from everybody to avoid getting bumped or tackled). I already (subconsciously) knew by then, via a previous and similar decision at age five, that I was ugly and awkward. Here was just more proof of my clumsiness, and then some. In a nutshell, I was, in ways no doubt too numerous to count, VERY UNCOOL. And I built a house on that foundation that has stood for decades since.

Three weeks ago, I identified that foundation for what it was: unstable, false. In the light of that, it lost its power to support the house, and the house simply crumbled. I'm standing on the solid ground beneath it now: steady, reliable. And nothing is the same.

So what!? My point is not to roll out a sad story, or a triumph. I am not bragging. I have less to say than ever, really: nothing to prove. I am free from a story I invented that defined "me" and what was possible. I am returned to my perfectly well and uncompromised original self. And nothing is the same.

Why write of it here?

I realize to what extent Love could not have Its way with me before now. The notion of being full of oneself has taken on new meaning. I see so clearly how every place where Love does not prevail is a place that is full, like a cup to its brim, a place that is blocked, cluttered--there are many ways to speak about it. But the bottom line is: where is the room? I can ask, even rail, all the live-long day for Life or Love to fill my hands with Its goodness, but if my hands are fists punching at the sky, or if they are wringing one another, or if they are full of my complaints or fears or worries or some melange of the three, where is the room? Where is the room for Love?

In Love, I need nothing. I was about to say I have everything, but it would be truer to say I am everything. "Love is patient, love is kind...": it all makes new sense, and I see it has nothing to do with being virtuous. The experience is one of unselfconsciousness, of utter fearlessness and freedom. I am crazy, trying to put this into words, but it feels important to try. Is the rose enlightened? Is the evening primrose flaunting? Is the lily competing? And what about the rain, the bee. Are they trying to top it all? Of course not. Neither are they unselfconscious or fearless or free, I realize. They are...well...not even the thing before the words. They are Life being Life. Both consequence and demonstration of Love having Its way. They are balance and order and design and I want to say genius, but without the words. Before the words. They don't need the words. Buddha nature: it makes a new sense to me. Pure being: perhaps that's the best and simplest way to say it. Love's way is pure being. Or maybe It just is. Yeah, that's it: It just is.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Longest Day

I don't know if I'll ever pass another summer solstice without recalling fondly the one I spent in Normandy, France. We were "cinq femmes en voiture": my sister, my poet-mentor-friend, her student-friend visiting Paris from Barbados, my sister's flute teacher-friend, and me. I had started off this France thing three years prior when I rented at 6 rue de Montigny, a little apartment in the heart of Aix-en-Provence, for the month of July in 1988. This was a graduation gift to myself, a reward--you bet--for not only surviving but thriving, to the point of a very functional and native-sounding fluency, my immersion French classes at Wellesley. My sister visited me for the final week of that month, a visit which culminated, to my horror, in her loud and public pronouncement: "I hate France!" She had only a smattering of high school French, and I'm sure that fact contributed plenty to her bad time. But something happened just the same, something must've gotten under her skin, because when offered two years later the prospect of a work exchange --six months in Paris, with apartment and company car and yes you can even bring your Himalayan house cat--she madly dove into Berlitz courses to meet the language requirement, and voila! Of course I would visit her there. Of course I would introduce her to my poet-friend who was beginning her first-annual (as it would turn out) teaching gig as a distinguished American poet in residence at the Sorbonne: they could help each other out. Be Americans together in Paris. Find their way. And of course, given the fact of the car, there had to be excursions to destinations that were complicated if not impossible to reach by train.
We made several that June, it was a cold June, and I walked Paris until I thought my feet would fall off, but of that entire trip which was rich with adventures, nothing compares to our jaunt to Normandy, destination le Mont Saint Michel.

It looked like Oz rising up out of the flat of the surrounding land--farms, plains, fields--a sort of mystical, magical kingdom.

Little did I know how much so.

I knew nothing about Druids prior to this visit, but walking in the very paths of their footfalls, I felt them: an old presence, a long root, a wisdom. How? I had no relationship to the Druids. Then again, the mysterious had shown itself before we'd even gotten near the top of the mount, before we looked out, with nameless others gathered there, on what seemed like an endless sunset. We were so high. The sun, beneath us. And as it slipped over the edge of the Earth, I swear we followed it. In fact, in my memory of this, it was never dark. There was just the waning day, the drops of rain as we, as if in pilgrimage, trod the ancient, narrow, winding road up. Rain: we must have wondered if there would even be a sunset. And then there were rainbows. Double rainbows, with nothing between us--nothing to obstruct even a speck of their perfect arcs. I would like to say I have a picture to show of--well, any of this. I don't. This was long before I was taking such pictures. These two I have chosen because they share a kinship in spirit--in the case of the "clan" of elms, with the long root, the wisdom, the community of the Druids, and in the case of "sacred spiral" with our circular climb up and, in reverse, down from le Mont. As if a photograph could have come close anyway to capturing even a morsel of the magic and majesty of this experience anywhere near as vividly, as brilliantly as my mind has preserved it, has recollected it year after year. We stood at the top of the World, or so it seemed. The Druids as good as murmured in our ears. There were no horses outrunning an incoming tide, but there might as well have been.

I have seen many beauties in this lifetime, but I have known no magnificence quite like this one, the collective experience of that solstice, that longest day which unfolded like a prayer or a chant then hung, suspended for all time it would seem, at its climax.

Each year I think that one of these years I will find a way to top that solstice on Mont St. Michel, June 21, 1991. And tonight, as I write that, I wonder why, exactly. Why would I want to? Why would I even try? Some acts aren't ever meant to be followed. They assume a category all their own, an incontestable place, deserving of every bit of the aura of reverence that collects, like particles of mist, around them. It is just like that, this long-ago solstice. I carry it as I would a mist that has soaked my garment. And happily so.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What's Love Got to Do With It?

As the World turns, the microcosm called Love's Freeway is turning also. I have plunged--yeah, just like that: a dive off the high board--into a restructuring of the up-to-now three separate compartments of my creative/professional life.

With the birth of Love's Freeway last September, a triad was formed. From my work as writer, teacher, and coach in the writing world bloomed, eight years ago, Claritywork: a method of direct access to clear expression and clear direction for those stuck or confused in life. This was a logical outgrowth of eight years of a dedicated, deep-listening presence, and intuitively led guidance for writers trying to find their way to a clear, authentic expression on paper. But it was only with the addition of Love's Freeway--passion, creative expression, and vehicle for my life's mission of clearing the way and the name of Love--that it has become perfectly clear (ha!) just how related are these three "separate" worlds.

So I am stepping back and viewing the whole, viewing the three domains as integral to the whole. And what I see is calling for an integration. With the wider, more integrative view and refinement in clarity comes this revision (below) of the what and why of Love's Freeway. This blurb (pictured in its prior incarnation) accompanies every product that goes out the door.

I have said more than a few times since September, "It's not about pretty pictures. It's never been about pretty pictures."

So what is it about? And what does Love have to do with it? Well, here is my most succinct answer to those questions to date:

Love—the Life force itself—is a master of free expression. Witness the magnificence of the natural world. Countless evidences of Its perfection surround us at every moment. When we forget we too are that free, magnificent, perfect, they are there to remind us. On Love’s Freeway, by way of its words and images, we remember how well Love knows Its way, and how well It will do by us when we let It have it.

In addition to sharing this recent refinement, I'm posting this blurb also to get a pulse on it: I want to hear from you! Let's pretend that all you have to go on is the name "Love's Freeway" and that one paragraph (okay, and maybe an image or two). What understanding do you go away with? Do you get what the Freeway is? How would you talk about it to others? Alright alright: I won't load you down with questions. Suffice it to say, any feedback is welcome. Because as I said, this world-o-mine is turning in a big way and since everything's going up in the air for a few spins, like a good pizza dough, for stretching and reshaping,it's a mighty good time to have your say.

I do already know this: you will soon see some significant integrative changes between and Very exciting! (Lotsa late nights!) And come what may, I promise you a beautiful, pleasing and finely streamlined result. I promise you a more direct access to the inspiration of the Freeway. I promise you a clearer way for Love--which, after all, has everything to do with it.

Stay tuned!