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Thursday
Sep132012

A Truce

At some point, you just get tired of being your own worst enemy and you lay down your arms.

I wonder why so much of my territory is preoccupied with guilt or shame.  Envy.  Fear.  Internal insurgents lob highly sophisticated rockets of self-criticism, as though let-me-think-of-all-my-shortcomings-before-you-do creates a kind of missile defense against the outside world.  It shields me every night while I lay down with the enemy.

It's time to surrender.

Not the white-flag, but the olive branch.  A treaty of delirious possibility.  The conditions of the agreement are non-technical and involve things like vegetables, sleep, blank paper, yellow running shoes, tenderness.  In order to embrace an imperfect union I will stop building settlements in unfriendly outposts.  I will start again, with friendship, acceptance, and love.

Let no one think that the birth of man is to be felt without terror.  The transformations that await us cost everything in the way of courage and sacrifice.  Let no one be deluded that knowledge of the path can substitute for putting one foot in front of the other. Centering is a severe and thrilling discipline, often acutely unpleasant. In my own efforts, I become weak, discouraged, exhausted, angry, frustrated, unhappy, and confused.  But someone within me is resolute, and I try again.  Within us lives a merciful being who helps us to our feet however many times we fail.

- M.C. Richards

Monday
Sep102012

Elegy for Summer

You go to the desert and you can breathe.  It's stark and vast and just maybe there's enough room here to  allow for your spinning wheels to wind themselves down, until

(finally)

you're still.

The summer was one long high-rev, and it was everything you planned, except you forgot to schedule in the rest that makes the thrills thrilling.  You feel like a shit for complaining about back-to-back-to-back thrills, but it might actually be better than feeling

(nothing)

which is mostly all there is left to sense.

There is no

(center)

(ground)

(connection)

energy.

There are

(hurt feelings)

(double-bookings)

(over-sleepings)

many things and people that you miss.

So you go to the desert, and you wonder

why, again, am I here?

and you pedal through strange dreamscapes, finally noticing you are unable to outrun resistance.

(gee, it took you long enough)

And just then you are so tired that the only thing left to do is

(surrender)

(center)

(ground)

and your heart takes flight.

Friday
Aug172012

Visual Jazz

There was an invitation to the studio, permission to choose whatever colors drew him and to slap them on acrylic with the beautiful unselfconsciousness of an almost-four-year old.

I could learn something from you, Chris said to Ezra.

Unselfconsciousness.

I witness it every day, unselfconsciousness being one of the primary gifts of early childhood, but damn if I can imagine how to embody it.

For Ezra there was the thrill of spray paint and color and tools.  He was reserved but alert, as he tends to be.

For me there was the pleasure of pulling back the curtain on something unusual and special,

of receiving kindness from a new friend,

of watching a kind of visual jazz unfold in front of me.

Wednesday
Aug152012

Gameplan

Affirmations on the High Line in NYC this summerExcuse the radio silence.

It's just that when I chose cultivate as my word for the year I imagined turning the soil and planting things and weeding and tending and seeing things grow before my very eyes.  I thought I would have lots of inspired or insipiring things to report here.

I forgot about all the waiting.

There seems to be a state of suspended animation involved in cultivation - or at least I'm trying to have faith that that's the case, because it would be worse to believe that nothing is happening at all.  I'm not even sure what I'm waiting for, to be frank, which is where the faith comes in.  And you probably know by now that faith is not precisely my native space.

What is more comfortable for me is practice, and sharing, and connection and just the right amount of too-much-to-do to push me forward.  Plus the downhill slide of summer, some upcoming adventures, and the urgent pull to dust myself off and start again, exactly where I am, right now.

Monday
Jul302012

Reunion

In the end the whole visit came together so simply it was as if we all lived in the same neighborhood instead of three different states.  The seed of the plan hatched, innocently enough, over a bottle of bourbon during a hurricane in Brooklyn last fall and took root even after the hangover had passed and the planes started flying again.  The last piece fell into place when, somewhere in Memphis, the sensible realization arose that a weekend in the mountains with our small tribe would be far more entertaining than a high school reunion.  

The four of us hadn't all been together at once since Stacy's wedding nine years ago, but the easy familiarity of old friends fell over us and we wove back and forth between college memories and filling in the blanks of the intervening years.  Our spouses fit in like of course you two married, it just makes so much sense, and look at us all here making sense together.  If it weren't for the hordes of short people who insisted on calling us Mom and Dad all weekend I could have imagined that little had changed.

Of course, a lot changes in 20 years.  But not, thankfully, our affection for each other.  I admire the lives my friends have built, the beautiful families they are nurturing, and the fact that they still make me smile so much my cheeks hurt, and the discovery that we can all laugh together when our children get caught in a mountain rainstorm and end up looking like this: 

Stacy, Lee, Brent, Dara, Will and Sarah, you guys are sick. And I love you.