Monthly Archives: March 2011

The (W)Hole of Love

A friend of mine once said, “To know yourself is to know yourself in love and honey, at some point, you have to stop learning.”

I was in the middle of yet another ship-wrecked romantic entanglement, doing the love contortionist jig-a-ma-joo, bending, twisting, crunching, folding, tap-dancing and stretching myself into a shape I thought would make the relationship work, as though the problem could be fixed if I simply conformed to the image of his expectations, his needs. My partner was sweating just as hard, bouncing off of me at odd angles, trying to catch himself before he broke the furniture.

Of course it hurt to squeeze myself into an unnatural container but so did being alone. I hoped that a little hard work would compensate for a bad fit, but, of course, it didn’t. It never does. You can’t have a homely beauty queen, no matter how great her personality is, and that’s just the harsh truth Ruth.

When we’re young, we are easily swept away by the tidal-wave of romantic love. We expect it to hold the answer to the question of life. We hope it will show us the yellow brick road of our lost, confused souls. We will do anything to hold onto that love even when it hurts, when it scorches, when it consumes.

We go from relationship to relationship searching for fulfillment, as though such a thing as the hole of love can be fulfilled. We are too young to know that love and loss go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. Loss is the price we pay for having the gift of love. Period. There is no way to fix this. No remedy for such things. They are only meant to be lived, expressed and accepted.

I remember first meeting my fiance. I wasn’t looking for a man when he came into my life. I thought maybe it was time to let go of the whole romantic thing. I was ready to toss it in the trash with the curling irons and steam rollers from so many ill-fated hairdo’s.

A gay friend of mine once suggested that if neither one of us found a partner by a certain date, we would buy a house and move in together and just have each other as companions. We would write our own version of happily-ever-after. After so many failed relationships, on the brink of my fortieth birthday, I was considering taking him up on his offer.

But after a series of magical, sacred heart opening experiences (involving yoga retreats, sweat lodges, singing naked on a Vancouver beach, you know, my kinda stuff) my heart said yes to him. And my grizzly ole’ thumper ain’t never ever said yes to nobody! It’s not that I hadn’t loved before. I had. Deeply. It’s just that I’d never had the sanction of my inner voice.

In fact, once, when getting involved with a younger man, my inner voice said quite clearly: no no no no no! Now the inner voice is usually subtle. She speaks in metaphor, in feeling. But this time, sista came through loud and clear, saying, and I quote, “He does not belong to you. You will have to give him back.”


Did I listen to sista? Naaah! Of course not. I went on a roller-coaster ride of sorrow that lasted four years, not counting the year and a half it took me to get over him after we finally broke up.

But this time, with the man who is now my fiance (applause, applause, thank you) I got the go ahead from Inside. Sista said softly, at last, “Yes.” Our first real get together was at a party for a mutual friend. As I was getting ready (cute outfit, not too hoochy) sista spoke up again. She said something like, “Just go along with whatever happens tonight.” And I said, “Ok,” and she said, “Ok,” and we said, “Ok, Ok.”

The first stop of the party was at a drag show, and you know I love me some drag. But the show ended rather early (that’s Boston for you). Some people from our group wandered off, but about six or seven of us, including my suitor, were still itching to party. So we go to a strip club.

Now, this is where I have to remember what sista said because, Lord have mercy, I think of myself as a spiritual, feminist type. But strangely, at the suggestion of the strip club, my hackles do not go up. I play along.

[Mom, if you are reading this, please skip the next  two paragraphs.]

All of the dancers look so young. All I can do is think about dey poor mamas at home, hunched over the kitchen table with a half-empty bottle of scotch, wringin’ dey hands with the worry, wondrin’ what went wrong. I am about to reconsider when a fine lookin’ sister starts her strut down the stairs to the stage. Suddenly, I hear a ding in the universe. She is hot hot HOT! Cyrille, my suitor, elbows me in the side. Says, “This is gonna be good.”

Indeed. Now, as a dancer, I gotta give her props. She was workin’ that pole like nobody’s business. She sported a hoe-stamp tatoo of the letter “T” and forever after, she is “Miss T” to us. She was like some Hindu goddess and we were under her spell. She broke through the barrier of fear around my heart like a knife through creamed cheese. We followed her, dazed, to the back room where Miss T gave us a lap dance and Cyrille and I shared our first kiss. And a little extra. Hehe ;).

How romantic.

Actually, it was.

And the rest is history.

Throughout our courtship, followed by moving in together and our engagement, there has been little resistance. My fear perked its ugly head up out of its rat-hole from time-to-time. Sniffed around. Poked Cyrille in the ribs here and there to see if he’s real, but eventually, I dropped my contortionist routine. I didn’t need it anymore. I started to let go. It’s not just that I love him, it’s that, well, to put it in new age-y lingo, our frequencies align.

Recently, I came across an old boyfriend on Facebook. My first love, in fact. We hadn’t spoken in over fifteen years. When I saw his face again, different and the same, I realized that the love was still there. It would always be there, but what I can see now that I couldn’t see before in the chaos of young love is that we could not be together in a long-lasting way because we are too different. I could never need the things he needs in life and vice versa. To love him is to honor that.

In other words, we can tune into each other’s frequency, but that takes some focus. The frequency that we tune to is too far from our normal resting, every day frequency. We have to work at finding the place where we meet. There’s nothing wrong with this. We do it naturally with others all the time. But a marriage, it does not make.

So, here goes. Marriage round two for both of our old, middle-aged asses. And I haven’t forgotten about the love and loss part I talked about earlier. I have to accept that. As much as I love to joke on this blog, knowing that we will change, that this state of affairs will someday end, hopefully in death, brings a stream of tears down my face.


Well, it’s good to cry. It means it’s special.


The Oneness Tree

Baobab in Burkina Faso

Let’s see…I think it was about eight to ten years ago. It happened outside my mother’s house.  I was living in her basement after the divorce, woe is me. Anyway, I was walking home from the bus-stop and about to open her gate, when I felt the beingness of the tree that stands outside of her house. I don’t know how it happened, but one moment, I was Tai, and the next, I was Tree.

It happened so quickly, like the tree caught me, or I caught it when one of us wasn’t looking. I don’t know who was groovin’ who exactly, but in that moment, we were one. Even though it lasted only seconds, the strength of the experience was undeniable.  Afterward, I just stood there looking at the tree, wanting to hold onto that connection. I think I remember saying out-loud, “I felt that.”

Yes, I felt the tree from the inside. Believe me, if I could willingly re-create that experience, I would gladly give away every possession I own and move to the nearest park bench. I remember Ekhart Tolle, in his book, The Power of Now, describing how, after his enlightenment experience, he spent two years on a park bench in a state of indescribable bliss. I wonder if he felt that sense of oneness that I felt briefly with the tree, but with everything, every squirrel and person and rock and roller-skate.

Oh, to know the spirit of things. My heart weeps in longing for this. For this more than anything else. And for a split second, I had a taste of it, for which I am deeply grateful. I know it’s there. I know I’m not crazy to want that connection.

That connection with the spirit of things, the spirit of nature, is what I mean in the broadest sense when I speak about indigenous culture. I have a faint remembrance of that somewhere in my dna that cries out from time-to-time. Actually, all the time lately.

Modern people misunderstand indigenous culture. We think their lack of stuff makes them primitive and I mean that word “primitive” in all its ugly implications. But the reality is that we think this because we can’t see what they see. It’s like we’re all stuck at home sober, on a rainy day, doing math homework, and they are outside in the middle of June, tripping at a Grateful Dead concert, except that what they’re tripping on is a Human Consciousness free from literal thought that allows them to feel the tree and everything else.

Of course, their ability to see beyond the surface of things, to see with their knowing, with their hearts, to see the luminous spirit of things and in others, to have this higher consciousness, is not so simple as just being born into it. It doesn’t just happen, like a good poop. You see, they are aware of the great gift of their sight. They understand that it must be nurtured and taken very seriously. While we are busy sending our kids off to school teaching them how to See Spot Run, they are teaching their children how to SEE with a capital S.

We think that the indigenous are illiterate because they don’t have a choice in the matter. Oh, the poor little brown people. The least we could do is introduce them to the Good Book! The implication is that they do not have the mental capacity to create a written language, whereas the reality is that many of these cultures do not write things down out of choice. They understand the true power of creation behind words. They understand what is lost when words are written, important things like power, memory, the creative birthing fire and the fire that destroys.

Of course, from our perspective, many beautiful things are created with written words: books, the Declaration of Independence. I love to read. I love few things more than to be curled up on the couch with a good book. But again, if I could re-create what I glimpsed with the tree, I would happily go bookless for the rest of my life.

Martin Prechtel says that writing allows people to forget. With technology, we’ve taken our forgetting to a whole ‘nother level. Not only are we forgetting how to do stuff, we are forgetting how to learn in the first place. We are starting to mistake acquiring facts for learning, which it ain’t. I wrote in a previous entry about how I see this every day: students thinking that learning dance is another thing they can just click on.

Anyway, another thing that happens when we start saving our words by writing instead of memory is that those inner pathways of Seeing that we had as a child get shut down. Small children have a natural inclination towards this kind of Seeing. The Seeing of the Is-ness. To some extent, this naturally becomes dormant a few years before puberty, around age eight, followed by a resurfacing during adolescence (Ken Ludden).

In our modern world, while most of our teens are off struggling, rebelling, fucking and smoking their way through this confusing time (myself included), indigenous cultures are outside in nature taking their youth through a profound initiation experience that helps them to open up and nurture their third eye’s sight. This is only one aspect of initiation. It also involves a very real confrontation with death. Accepting one’s mortality apparently does wonders for teenagers. It may sound harsh, and from what I’ve read, it is terrifying, but also beautiful and real and ultimately empowering for the individual as well as for the community. Actually, in these cultures, there’s really not such a separation between oneself and the village.

The more I learn of indigenous wisdom, the more I feel a deep sense of loss. It’s not that I idealize this way of life. It is certainly hard. And I’m not suggesting that all indigenous people exist in a perpetual state of oneness. Merely that they can and do get there and not just at Christmastime. It’s just that I live with a kind of daily, constant stress that doesn’t feel natural. I’ve given it a little name: Persistent Low-Grade Anxiety Syndrome or PLGAS. You can remember it by thinking of plate-glass, which is what I want to constantly knock my head against.

Anyway, yes, indigenous people have worries, but I doubt that they are walking around with this constant tension. Most of the people I know suffer from this. So one of the reasons why I am so fascinated by this indigenous way of life is because I want to heal myself and others from the plate-glass and I want to do it in a way that we don’t just take a pill, but such that we actually blossom into being fully human, with all our senses, our memory, our connectivity tendrils intact.

When I read about indigenous cultures, I do it from their perspective. Ironically, the ones that have someone to speak for them, to act as a bridge between their world and ours, are the ones that are changing because we are in a moment of time in which they cannot avoid being up against us, the moderns. So, because they have to rub up against us, they have learned our languages and our ways.

Someone, a writer/communicator, is born out of a need they have to understand our ways and learn to live alongside us. They also have to adapt to our ways while trying to maintain their own wisdom. It is extremely difficult for them to communicate with us because of the limitations, the sheer lack of poetry and sacredness in modern language. It would sort of be like me trying to describe dancing to someone who has been blind and paralyzed their entire life.

And you know what really breaks my heart? The colonizers (which are all of us, regardless of race, who have colonized nature if not people) called them savages, barbarians, primitives, even indigenous, for lack of a better word. But while the intelligence of these people was insulted out of arrogance and ignorance, each of these ambassadors of indigeny, each of these human cultural bridges, called us his brother. Even as we destroyed them. They may have called us their crazy brother and a lot of other well deserved adjectives, but brother, sister, mother, grand-father, family, nonetheless.

Tsunami: Japan

This morning, I watched some youtube videos of the tsunami in Japan. In one, taken from a helicopter, a regiment of waves marched forward in straight white uniformed lines, like the earth’s own special forces coming to its rescue. And like a knife spreading soft butter on a bagel, it smeared its surface clean. Houses, cars, buildings, people, tossed like toys into a stew of garbage. A revelation of garbage. All this stuff, garbage. And this horrible stew, this stink, just the first rinse. She will wash herself clean.

I considered myself in that garbage. As that garbage. One minute, I’m on the computer obsessing about my friggin’ stupid blog when I hear a rumbling in the distance. It’s a noise I don’t recognize, a stampede of hungry giants. Huh? More construction? But before I can swallow the question, the noise grows exponentially and I think, yay! The aliens are here! Then the trees outside my window suddenly crack, fall, get knocked low behind the knees, buckle. A window in the back smashes. There is a terrible wind in the house. A terrible slapping wet wind. Where’s Chulo? Cyrille–

And then, I am just a part of the stew, too. Part of the human garbage stew. Silenced with the tvs and billboards in a roar of waves. The earth mother has vomited all over me in an attempt to expunge the virus I have become to her. She needs to rid herself of me and Heineken bottles, of me and chemicals, of me and books, yes, even those, of me and computers, of me and plastic, of me and my ideas, of me and cars and flytraps and Doritos with a capital D. Of me and toilet paper and hair products and too many sandwiches gone to waste. Of me. Of me and my mother and my condo and my Le Cruset pots and pans and my facebook friends and my actual friends and my saved cds and my little bags of money.

She will replant her crystal sages back into their caves, away from the sun where they can sleep and grow. She will take care of herself again, like a divorced woman coming into her own without his money. She will take her children back. She will take her temperature. She will even take our garbage back and wipe her big beautiful black and blue ass with it. It is all hers. Never ours. Never ours to take. Only to borrow and replenish.

With the decimation of indigenous cultures, we killed ourselves. We forgot the wisdom of praising and giving to the earth, giving back in full measure to what was taken. We forgot to make sure all got fed. We forgot that houses are meant to be rebuilt every so often, more often than is convenient, for the cost of building a house meant to last forever does more damage to the earth than it is worth and costs too damn much in terms of what has to be given back. The indigenous version of Cost Benefit Analysis. We forgot that there are certain gazes held by certain beings from whom we cannot hide. We forgot that the earth is our mother-queen/father-king and made it into our slave.

And she will take us back into her watery breast. And we will cry like children again.

Flying Lesson


(excerpt) by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I am waiting for my case to come up

and I am waiting

for a rebirth of wonder

and I am waiting for someone

to really discover America

and wail

and I am waiting for the discovery

of a new symbolic western frontier

and I am waiting

for the American Eagle

to really spread its wings

and straighten up and fly right

and I am waiting

for the Age of Anxiety

to drop dead

and I am waiting

for the war to be fought

which will make the world safe

for anarchy

and I am waiting for the final withering away

of all governments

and I am perpetually awaiting

a rebirth of wonder


In our crazy modern world, we are not often encouraged to listen to our dreams. I’m not talking about our dreams for the future. We are certainly goaded to live, breathe, eat and sleep for that illusive, never ending pot-of-gold. Taught to keep reaching for that magical, perfect, glossily brochured future where everyone is thin, happy and young. Taught that if we don’t live for the future, there’s actually something wrong with us. We have the laziness disease.

What about now? What’s wrong with being happy now, with everything I apparently do not have? Watch out. If we all start getting happy now, you know what that means…it means that maybe we don’t need all this stuff we keep killing ourselves for. So, no, I’m not talking about those kinds of dreams. We have them. Fine. Try not to get lost. I’m talking about the dreams we have when we sleep. The ones most of us simply forget in the morning. The ones we are not taught or encouraged to remember. Some curious seekers may stumble upon a dream guide in the self-help aisle of the local Barnes and Nobles and then you’re basically on your own.

In my dream, a large eagle, larger than human, landed on the roof of a building. We saw each other, face-to-face.

I think these dreams are important.

It flew away and returned with several of its young. I guess it was a Mother bird, but I hadn’t thought of that until just now.

As I mentioned in an earlier post (Infinite Yumminess) there are three kinds of dream: normal every day processing, message from spirit and premonition.

The baby eagles were learning how to fly off the edge of the roof.

The biggest clue I have regarding the importance of dreams is how they make us feel. Have you ever woken up crying or laughing? Have you ever experienced a love, a longing, a passion, a hatred, a peacefulness to a much deeper extent while dreaming than you ever have while awake?

The Mother was trying to teach me too, how to fly. I was scared. I knew I had to–

Perhaps we’ve learned to discount the validity of dreams because we’ve also been taught to discount the validity of our feelings. We are ashamed to cry or show ecstasy, so we take a drug called ecstasy to make it alright. But our feelings are important. They are hugely important to the experience of living. We have been taught instead to value the mind above all else, to in fact live in the mind.

I have nothing against the mind. I love my mind. It dances. It skips. It’s a fucking merry-go-round of lust up in there. But we have to start remembering, honoring, our feelings because they tell us who we really are.

The mind creates The Fear.

Because we are somewhat cut-off from our feelings, we have difficulty healing ourselves. Feelings, you see, point us towards our healing. It sounds so simple, but the pain, the sadness, shows us what’s wrong. We need to allow ourselves to feel the pain when it’s there. At least some of it. I spent a few years of my life running from my pain. Everything I tried ended in disaster. I couldn’t take on anything new until I got down to business with my crap. My crappy pain led me to gratitude and humility which are healing values.

So, in addition to being cut-off from our dreams and feelings, as a result, we are also cut-off from our ability to heal ourselves. We are force-fed the lie that it is ok and appropriate to mask our pain and our feelings with pharmaceuticals.

When I talk about self-healing, I’m not referring simply to healing the physical body. That’s part of it, but the body will break down. The real healing I’m talking about is healing our hearts, minds and spirits. Healing our inner life. The body will die, of course, no matter how many sit-ups you do. No matter how much blue-green algae and B vitamins you ingest.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against the body. I love my body. It dances. It skips. It’s a fucking merry-go-round of lust up in there. But we have to start remembering, honoring, our feelings because they tell us who we really are.

Instead, we are mostly taught to hide from who we are by a culture that pushes us to keep going, without pause, from one thing to the next. We are so busy going, going, gone. We are going faster and faster all the time, multi-tasking sloppily through phone conversations while walking and driving and changing the shitty diapers. We are taught to be constantly moving, improving, for fear we’ll fall behind.

We are not taught, for the most part, to take time to get in touch with our feelings and to heal ourselves. Doing this is a life-long process. It never ends while we are here. We are not taught to balance healing time into our daily routines. It is not profitable. Most of us only allow ourselves to stop our constant doing when we are sick. Maybe, once every three months, we’ll take a personal day to go shoe shopping or whatever, but that’s not enough. We fear that if we drop the ball for a second, everything will collapse. If we leave the job we hate, we won’t be able to survive without the health insurance it (hopefully) provides.

As an aside, I think business interests in this country don’t want universal health care because they enjoy the power of having us all by the balls, doing shit we hate, just to keep our health insurance. To keep our heads and our family’s heads above the ever rising water line that they, the businesses, are controlling.

Fuck the water line.

I’m taking a bath.

The baby birds taught me that the first step in flying is falling and that the first step in falling is flying.

I want to learn how to fly.

I am flying.

I fly.


Inner Highway

Last night, for some reason, I thought I should cancel the Tuesday morning ballet class I teach. It was just a gnawing feeling I had. I almost called in, but then I stopped myself. What was I going to say? I’m not coming in tomorrow. Bad juju.

Most people, no matter how nice, are not receptive to someone canceling work or even a social engagement just because something that they can’t explain feels off. In my case, I’m afraid that others will take it personally, or think I’m flakey.

“I’d think you’d be used to that by now,” says Mr. Octopus.


“You could have just lied.”

Worse yet, let’s say I had cancelled the class and the bad thing didn’t happen. All went smoothly. I might not have had any outward confirmation that staying home was indeed the right thing. And would I feel good about my decision in the absence of proof? Would I have been able to trust myself? Of course not. I’d be wracked with guilt.

In the previous entry, I wrote about different kinds of thoughts, those that are received as opposed to grasped. What I’m referring to here is distinguishing between our intuitive voice and the ramblings of our overstimulated modern minds. As stated previously, literal thought creates a stumbling block for our intuition. Another pothole on the inner-highway is guilt.

“Well, what happened?” asks Mr. Octopus.

“You know what happened!”

“Rrrelax. Of course I know what happened. You haven’t ceased blubbering about it all day. I’m asking our of rrrespect for your readers. It’s a writing device. Do get over it.”

Well, all last night, as I said, I had this feeling, this intuition to cancel class, but I didn’t. I actually lost sleep over it. In the morning, on my way in, I slipped down the stairs, landing hard on my bum. It hurt, but I didn’t injure myself. It really felt like something was telling me to turn around and go back inside but I didn’t. I taught the class. All seemed fine, but afterwards I went into the parking lot to discover that my car had been towed. As a result, I was late to my next class, and things just went downhill from there.

“All-in-all, that’s not so bad, as things go,” says Mr. Octopus.

“No, not so bad. Worse things do happen. It’s just that, I think I should know better by now, damn it!”

A few years ago, I remember pondering this whole intuition business. Believe it or not given my current spiritual leanings, at that time, I was a bit skeptical. I remembered as a child, just knowing things. Little things for the most part, and I felt, as an adult, a desire to re-acquaint myself with that knowing. But I didn’t know how. Intuition was a gift reserved for certain people, like Scatman Carothers in The Shining, and look at what happened to him.

Anyway, I was driving along on an empty highway one evening around 3am, completely sober and present. I thought to test myself. I thought, hmm, I want to follow my intuition more. And, I swear, I heard inwardly,

“Why don’t you start now?”

“Right now?”

“Yes, right now. Pull over.”


“Pull over.”

I looked behind me. There was not a car in sight, but I played along and pulled over into the outer right lane. Seconds later, in a flash, two cars came drag racing down the center lanes, seemingly out of nowhere.

“Ok,” I thought. “That really just happened.”

“Yes. That was real. Remember that.”

But last night, in the din of thought, I forgot. I forgot to listen inwardly.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. Listening takes practice. A lot of prrractice,” says Mr. Octopus.

“Wait. How many are in there talking right now? This is getting confusing.”

Exactly. There’s a lot of stuff going on in there. It takes a lot of practice to first of all, recognize your intuition, to then act on it, and finally, to not feel guilty about it and to free yourself from judgement! Perhaps there are times when guilt is useful, like when a criminal, fueled by real remorse, changes his life to help others.

But for most of us, our guilt is imagined and useless. If I had cancelled class today, or maybe just switched days with another teacher, it would have been no biggie. Furthermore, it would have been in flow.

Can you imagine getting to a point where we actually make room to really listen and support that listening in ourselves and others without judgement or fear? I think we’re afraid to because, in addition to fearing judgement, we’re afraid the inner-listening will be abused. Maybe we’ll all get lazy just sittin’ around, not doin’ stuff because we got the vibe to stay home.

But I think maybe the opposite will happen. Maybe we’ll all start doing the stuff we are really called to do and avoid the stuff that doesn’t serve. It sounds so easy, but I guess it’s not.

“The next time you feel guilty for following your intuition, just remember, you have my permission,” says the O.


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