Descending Evolution

Like water,

forever feeling the pull

downhill, toward the center of the Earth,

the constant longing to settle in cracks and gullies,

to fill the valleys and riverbeds

of an ever-changing landscape,

we bubble like fast running brooks,

choosing laughter and abandon as a retort

to the novelty of our shifting world,

rejecting arid fear or the stagnant impassability

that more rigid elements might adhere to.

A joyful yearning to find the niches,

interlace with the sands and spread ourselves,

evenly,

rushing and gurgling,

gamboling with churning mud

and leaping over stones wearing crowns of sunlight

then, finding our ground, we rest with a sigh,

ripples on stillness,

reflecting the sunlight and clouds on our faces

which grin like idiots up at the sky,

A revelry of rhythmic quietude.

But life is movement.

What was high becomes low

What was impenetrable, fissures

and what was an answer, rebirths as a question.

Movement begins.

Water is powerless without the pull of earth

whose impulsive renovations

wake us from our floating dreams,

sometimes with a start

but always with the best of intentions,

disguised as chaos or blanketed in mist.

We have no use for fear

and remind ourselves that

it cannot alter the landscape or defy the force of gravity

Like water,

we are forever feeling the pull.

 

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The World is a Sphere

The world is a sphere.

No edges, no corners, no endings.

Remember this in your endeavors

And enjoy the travels and weigh stations

as best you can,

Because final destinations are a myth.

No matter where you find yourself

It’s obvious that

You’ve already arrived,

Just in time to begin the journey.

Your lack of map need be no worry,

For the richest fruits grow off the signed highways anyway

And your compass speaks through the pumping of your blood,

And the beating of your heart,

And manifests in row upon row of singular footsteps.

 

The world is a sphere,

And following the curve leads you back again,

Having come round full circle

You come upon your beginning from a new direction,

So counter to the perspective you observed upon departure,

That for a moment you cannot recognize your surroundings.

But then your soul expands,

Filled with recognition,

and love

and forgiveness

At the realization that the boundaries between

Past and future,

Destination and source,

Imagination and reality,

Are simply the stories we told.

 

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On Dry Land

Cocoa too hot to the touch

As shocking to the fingertips

as the cold tabletop is to naked wrists.

The tactile sensations of life,

intruding into my numbed psyche

reminding me that I’m still alive.

Stealing my thoughts back to

the rhythms of a material world of flesh and metal and breath,

causing alternating ripples of awe and heartbreak,

nausea and wonder.

When life shifts so quickly

as though your soul were suddenly thrust from it’s moorings

in time and space

and abruptly deposited in someone else’s existence

It stuns.

I look around at this new world,

at all the familiar things that suddenly seem distant

or somehow unrelated to me.

A laugh from the couple at the next table.

The shadow on the cafe wall that moves slightly with the night breeze.

And it’s so easy to see the cord that connects death to birth,

that palpable ebb and flow that creates the tides of life itself.

At the moment, I don’t feel a part of that rhythm,

I have become other, an observer, standing on the docks

But watching it all is a small gift,

to simply know that it’s still there,

that the dance continues.

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We Touched

It shone through our every cell
like tropical sunlight
through a house of glass.
I know you felt it too.
Shimmering warm and casting rainbows
on the walls and floors.
My heart laughed in a tone
I had never heard before
and my body appeared to float
somehow freed from gravity’s grasp
which up until then
had never seemed oppressive.
I wore angels’ wings
and looked deep within myself to find the shadows
but found that I could see through
to the very depths of me
into infinity.
How can you desire something you didn’t even know existed?
In a moment the world around me changed
and once lit from within
glowed with a new and easy truth.

But after day comes the night,
and like a sailor bound for unknown lands
I watched your shores,
my new and refound homeland,
recede into a distant horizon
and the world grew darker.
And, like a young mariner on a first voyage,
I wondered at the length of the journey.
My heart pulls as I question
that I may never see the shores of home again.
In darkness and damp
I lift aside my sea sprayed garb
and look deep within.
And there, nestled safely under my heavy heart,
and behind the dead shadows,
I keep the light we shared,
The glorious beacon to light the way.

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In Your Absence

How is it that I feel your breath
dancing in my own chest?
No touch or taste now,
Just pastel shadows of past ecstasy,
or is it yet to come?
Washes of color
dance through my soul
playing a teasing game of hide and seek.
I float upon their waves,
Rising fast,
My view expansive and far,
Taking in breaths of my own,
and exhaling the scent of some unknown,
only to, once again,
find myself adrift on still waters.
Time is inconsequential here,
in the deepest heart,
Memories linger,
mingling with premonition
and dreams,
Their dance,
at once languid and pulsing,
fills my heart’s cavities
with a delicious and trembling echo…

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Emulation vs. Deification

I was driving today. There was too much traffic going at too slow a pace, leaving me ample opportunity for my mind to wander in attempts at keeping myself sane, when I saw a car in front of me with a giant Che Guevera sticker taking up its rear window. Aside from wondering how the hell they were able to see out of the rearview, it struck me that the image bore a striking resemblance to that of Jesus. Here, Che had been canonized, made into a stagnant symbol… as had a man named Jesus who had possibly lived two thousand years ago and a thousand others before and since. And as the hot sun beat down through my windshield and I watched the stop lights turning red then green then red while my car moved a total of one car length, a parade of deified figures moved through my mind. Men (and a few women) raised to gods and saints, to be followed and revered, by people in need of leaders to follow. By people who needed someone to save them.

And as their iconic faces flashed through my mind’s eye, airbrushed free of their wrinkles, human foibles and more complex ideals, something occurred to me. When you take a man who lived a life of great passion, ideas or intelligence and boil his likeness down to a simplified idol slapped on a car window or edit out choice quotes, taken out of context, to make posters for display on dorm rooms walls, then you have made them into something distant, something outside of yourself to worship and ask for assistance from… in essence, something to pray to. The entity and image become separate and more important than the tenets and lessons that these leaders worked for, sacrificed for and sometimes gave their lives for. Doing this takes responsibility off of our shoulders. Many people seem to think this presentation is enough, this material display of solidarity or memorized factoids about their idols, gods and heroes. But like Christians who wear crosses or attend sporadic church services on a Sunday and think that makes them practicing followers of Jesus, they seem to be missing a point.

Each of the prophets, teachers or leaders that came to my mind all seemed to have one similar vein of counsel no matter what their message or ideology. And that message was personal choice and responsibility, that the buck starts and ends with each of us, that as individuals we have the power to act within our lives to make this world a better place for ourselves and those around us. That it is our responsibility, if we believe as they did, to pick up and wear the mantle that they espoused as best we can, to carry the ideas forward through our actions and daily living, to further in our own quest toward the deepest beliefs we ourselves hold dear. There is disingenuousness to quoting Dr. King while violently protesting, or to tailgating and glaring at other drivers while sporting a Buddhist bumper sticker on your daily ride home from work.
It is my belief that these orators, brave heroes and thoughtful seekers would prefer a little less elevation and advertising hype for themselves and quite a bit more deliberate living on each of our parts. And not just on Sundays…..

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Living Your Age…

“Though there are many individuals who are the exception, it seems that modern society has chosen a very specific age to aspire to.. that age when one is just on the doorstep of adulthood- When you are legally an adult and in charge of your own life yet still ‘carefree’ and not responsible for much besides your own wants, needs and desires- perhaps somewhere in the early twenties or possibly late teens. People dye their hair, workout like fiends and go as far as putting themselves under the knife to look the part, refusing to date anyone over X or at least find someone who is “young for their age”. They brag about their extreme activities, sexual prowess or “youthful” adventures while shunning adjectives like “wisdom”, “elder” or “dignity”. Abilities lost with natural aging are hidden from others, for to admit them might mean being thought of as “old”….
What happened to celebrating the gathered wisdom, experience and peace earned of a life long lived? 23 was a wonderful age, but I have been there and done that. I see no shame or sadness in desiring to walk gracefully into the future led by those who came before me, accepting the mantle of woman, matron, elder and, one day, crone if I am blessed enough to live so long. And as my hairs, one by one, turn silver, I can only hope that I will not be judged or valued on the good qualities I possessed at 23 but on all of the wonderful knowledge and character I have managed to obtain along the way since….. ”

I wrote this in response to an article, but I wanted to add that children today are under the same push as those of us over “our prime”. (I say “our prime” with rolled eyes.) They are told to hurry their way to the new ‘golden age’; to “act adult” (whatever that means) at younger and younger ages whether through overscheduling, being encouraged to dress like young adults or in overtly sexual ways, contemplating their future college admissions as early as junior high or even through the subject matter distributed at schools. I was confounded when very emotionally intense ‘adult’ literature dealing with subjects from war crimes to rape to mental illness was given to my children in junior high. This literature is brilliant and well written but was intended to hit hard at an adult audience whose callouses from their own experiences would help protect their psyches from damage at reading such painful detail and horror. While I have no issue with the subject matter in general nor with the high intellectual level of the writing itself, to subject a child to such hard hitting adult fare when so much wonderful and emotionally age appropriate literature is available on many of the subjects raised seems almost abusive but it is fairly common. The push at schools is often solely on the intellectual growth of the child and placating certain teachers’ or admins’ overzealous egos. Even “sensitivity” or personal developement class curriculums tend intellectualize those subjects as well, not taking into account the developing emotions and sensitivities of newly blooming individuals. Like many areas in our modern world, even human beings seem to have now been divided into sections (“intellect”, “emotions”, body, etc) as though we contain seperate slots for each aspect of ourselves rather than having them woven together in an interactive and healthy whole.

Have we stopped both celebrating the glorious path from birth to death and accepting our place along the way? It’s worth thinking about.

***

“All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players,

They have their exits and entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,

Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.

Then, the whining schoolboy with his satchel

And shining morning face, creeping like snail

Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,

Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad

Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,

Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,

Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,

Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice

In fair round belly, with good capon lin’d,

With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws, and modern instances,

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side,

His youthful hose well sav’d, a world too wide,

For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,

Turning again towards childish treble, pipes

And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”
~ William Shakespeare

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