Tag Archives: identity

my one, small life – a saturday matinee

11 Oct

does the butterfly

in the watering hole

of an elephant’s footprint

ask its purpose?

does it pause, wondering about the consequences

of the movement that flows so effortless from breeze to wing

and back again?

must I question the clip clop of flip flops on docks

in a comfortable air served up

for musing, for(e)seeing today?

solo, tufted heron in the mud

eyes my flapping elbows

as I push my cart of supplies,

chasing the space between

the planks.

can there really be no difference between the drone of cars

and my clomping along?

no space between my skin and the hovering, pungent salt?

no other stirring human is here to remind me

anymore of human behavior –

my hermitage moves with me,

each seen thing dances on the back of my mobile cave,

my one cranium wall,

every thought – shadows moving.

to take on a body, to buy a ticket to this short matinee,

one agrees to take one’s seat, one agrees to smell through one nose.

almost 50 years in this seat

has me settling in at last, to this – my single, solitary

point of viewing, for now, and with this sigh

as deep as hip bones,

some thing pulls back a curtain.

the ache of aloneness blows

out the clotted vein,

blasts away any clinging to an artery.

once again

I pulse the beat of birds

who never knew difference between my eye and theirs,

between my foot or some claw.

I’ve a feather in my mouth from your molting –

you’ve a candy wrapper in your nest from me.

the sauna

14 Oct

Not sure why,

but I am compelled to cook this body.

As my skin pinks, I feel

my thoughts leaving –

squeezed out in beads of sweat.

I hear the racquetball bouncing so loud off the walls

that I think the sounds I hear

may be coming from the walls of my cranium,

being played like an instrument.

I am a hollowed-out gong,

listening to the ricochet off spine vibrating

low to high notes of emptiness.

The glue that holds it all together has melted

and a heel bone is floating free.

A recurring conversation is heard

(by whose ears?)

in the women’s locker room outside,

between a motherless girl and a worker.

They are searching everywhere for the small girl’s mother, Mary.

Mary may be in the pool – they leave to go see.

Mary is not in the pool.

Mary may be in the spin class – they leave again

and return.

Mary may be in the sauna.

I feel their eyes as they peer through the glass door at me:

Are you Mary?

No. I say.  I am not Mary.

Are you this girl’s mother?

No. I say, as the girl stares in my face

as if she is wondering if I may be Mary, if I may be her mother,


Could the sauna be a high-tech machine

from the future?

In you go as you,

out you come as another?

Am I only half-baked into my new form?

I feel unsure.

I could be Mary after all.

Who is now sitting in this little, hot box?

They leave again to go search.

For Mary.

A woman appears in the glass,

fiddling with the heat button.

Catching sight of me,

she beams – white teeth, bright eyes;

she goes

to the mirror to fix her hair.

I feel this face still beaming back at her long after she has left.

Soon this body moves to leave;

where does the will to move begin?

I am sure in this moment that the body moves

and the mind follows, like a dog following its master

and not the other way around.

What life am I returning to?

Stepping from the heat,

as the girl and I are reunited,

my thoughts are full of ice cream

and balloons, and she shall

tell me where we live.

giant babies in the sky

20 Sep

Giant Baby


There seems to be spontaneous, helpful guidance that comes from goodness knows where to show us again and again that there is a way to view this world and the things that happen in it as nothing but  spiritual encounters.

Sometimes, when I am checking out from a store, I look around and instead of shoppers, all I see are beings –  all the souls who agreed to meet me here.  When I fly on an airplane, I can feel like I am measuring the volume of soul weight all around my seat.  Even if I am home alone, I feel like I have a preordained date to meet some other part of me.

Early to class one day, I was starting the computer, going over the lesson, getting ready; I was in a get up, drive to school, get to work mode;  I was not in a spiritual mindset.  I was just going to teach a lesson to people in seats.  I stopped getting ready with all the stuff of 3D life and looked around.

As I focused on each empty desk, I could see the student in his or her usual appearance who usually sat there, and I nodded to him or her in my mind, one by one, recognizing the agreement we had, to meet here in this classroom, to learn a particular subject, yes, but more than that, I could see that we had a larger interaction.

A vision came where I saw myself growing outside my  boundaries with each student, one at a time.  We expanded out; we were so large  that our heads were meeting above the atmosphere of earth.  There we were, large Sumo babies, beyond words, exchanging our agreement together in the mystery of space.

This strange exercise took me out of the planning mind and into an awareness of my spiritual agreement to each student.  As I  can see that we meet here person to person in the classroom, I am also helped to  recognize each student’s  larger being which helps me to see innate value in each one.  We have agreed together to do work  that may resemble an English course, but in reality, we are doing  spiritual work together.

This ongoing vision or space travel helps me also to see our equality.  We are students and a teacher playing roles, but I can see that we are, each one of us, student and teacher both, on equal footing, overall,  tourists together on this planet, signing on for experiences.

Now, when I get lost in the minutia of lessons or caught in the frustration of inattention, I try to jump to the vision of who we really are; sometimes  I can shift my perspective to the stratosphere and return again with a new, spiritual lens prescription.  

Yes, you have a comma splice here, but wow, just look what a powerful being you are; look at what potential lies within you; try using a semicolon and breathing in some space dust.


17 May


There was a jumble

of letters and spaces,

flashes and warnings.

Reboot, you say?

Easier than it


I forget about that little

black button.

We can get a rapidly duplicating

virus in our thoughts

that sends out

emails of desperation

to all our lists.

Can you read the bubble over my head?

My cartoon avatar

gets full of ideas about

who I was then,

who I might be tomorrow,

in both a large font

and an overlooked

small print,

which can be tricky.

The tiny script

is almost invisible.


Sometimes it seems

we have to give the floor to

the telling of a shadow

of self –

or it forms into a sticky goo,

messing with the hard drive.

Let it have its say

sdo giaeo ;dfja eot wpty q2 p398a[

a;sd lfj eowpijr3jr coj[3R V[TV [J

There is no limit

on the refresh button

who who who who who who who

let it talk and soon you will see –

so boring.


clear screen,

much better –

nothing is the

something something.


Oh, and when blank(ity)

blank meets

blank(ity) blank

kaboom –

where once were words

explodes into

whole new worlds

beyond this old and dying


We are erupting something new –

step through here —–> 0

and disappear







25 Mar

creating the sea


There is no higher spot than this:

manning the decks.

Forget your name

and paint yourself an ocean.

But don’t get carried away and forget to

guard the hatches below for intruding,

morose slouchers

still wearing chains and

bearing the old stink of comparison,

the need for belonging,


and doom.

Or better yet, let them out.

A little sun will do them good when you

take your vessel out to see.

The bags of rice stowed for famine

and guns in the crows nest for war

are worlds you need not enter.

But do

study the content of your water,

talk to the sea birds upon rising,

scan the horizon for land –

release your feet from shoes,

admire the fray of your pirate pants,

snort heartily through your nose to clear your head of cobwebs,

meet your forgetting with bear hugs and get back to the

business of no thing

in the now now nownownow

of the open sea.

parenting my own delinquency

7 Feb


I am thinking about Achilles today.  What if I had the story wrong?  What if an Achilles’ heel does not point to a spot of weakness but instead a spot of strength?  How could one see it like this when the Achilles heel is what caused Achilles’ death?  I am thinking today that  Achilles’ humanity might have lain in his unprotected spot, even if it took him out.  I don’t have much to support this view, I readily admit, from his tale anyway.  If Achilles were my lover, I would kiss that tender heel everyday!

What is weakness?  What is strength?  These questions play in my mind this morning as I make breakfast for Eden because she is amazed that I am  capable of making a quick and tasty omelet for her.  She thinks that I am hopeless in the kitchen.  The weakness I’m wondering about is not my cooking ability, but rather my willingness to accept her youthful teasing me for lack of skill.   Isn’t the life journey funny?  We can go from strong to weak and from weak to strong at the flip of an invisible switch.

Eden has taken over much of the cooking in the past few years, in ever growing amounts.  She finds recipes that I would shake me head at saying, “too much trouble,” and goes to it with abandon.  Last night, she fried dough in coconut oil to make “from scratch” cannoli shells.  The whole house has a sweet smokey smell; one of my pans looks forever altered.  No matter; I cheer her on from another room.  Her slate clean of experience  stands in contrast to my many years that lead me to ever increasing simplicity.  Food is sustenance anymore, not a hobby.

Part of her transition into “cook” has been in jabbing at my own cooking skills.  Tis true, I’m not the greatest cook anymore; I think I’ve hung up that apron of identity.  As she explores her own interest and talent, she pushes off against me to define herself.  I am still quite capable, but she likes to make fun of my recent fails of substituting ingredients to stave off trips to the store, resulting in less than pleasing dishes.  I bow out; I relish my slippery identity and story that gives me an internal grin as I allow her free reign in the kitchen, even if it comes with a comparison to me.  There is not pride here in letting her know about all the years I did know my way around a kitchen.  Have at it, girl.  🙂

I don’t mind being the butt of the joke here, but for years, my lack of ownership and slipperiness of identity seemed a huge fault.

In our world, stepping up to the plate in an overt way is honored.  I understand the value of overt, forthright power, but my flow has always been a bit different.  In part, I may be this way because I found myself born into a family with lots of activity by the time I got there, the youngest of three, loved dearly but a bit of an afterthought.  I fit into an already established group versus altering the family dynamics much myself.  I have always enjoyed watching…

(No, I’m not Chauncy Gardner:)


Surprisingly, once I  had a job in sales.  I was supposed to go to college campuses and convince professors to select the textbooks that my company had published amidst a large stack of competitors.  I listened and learned about sales techniques and steps for “Closing” people, but this process just never fit my flow.  I went and met with the professors, but I found myself asking questions and listening instead of closing.  Even though I still made sales, the premise of trying to influence another in this way would have always caused me discomfort – to make myself into something so foreign made my stomach rumble.  In the process, I came to understand the role of professor and decided to get into teaching instead.

What I am trying to say is that, at that point, my inability to SELL felt like a flaw.  Every time I met with a professor and I was so far off script, sitting and listening and engaging in real conversation often unrelated entirely to my purpose there, I felt deeply flawed as a human.

I have memories of people picking up on what I think may be a sensitivity to others and scoffing at me.  One lunch sticks out in my mind  where I waited for a conversation to organically finish before I asked for the salt to be passed, which resulted in a woman saying how weak it was to not ask for what you want.  She couldn’t believe that I did not interrupt the conversation.  I was in my 20’s and her observation of me in what she perceived to be a lack of self-confidence left me feeling exposed and worthless.

From these callings out, I sometimes tried to do the flip in behavior.  I came on strong, I voiced my opinion with insensitivity, I didn’t hold doors for people as I had places to be, haha, but that never felt true.  I often didn’t want to voice my opinion; I usually could see the other side just as easily.  I wanted to hold doors because that felt true to me.  To wait for natural breaks in conversation is organic to me.

I also take a moment here, internally, to recognize how my lack of agenda and flexibility made me vulnerable to the unhealthy dynamics in my marriage.  I had trouble seeing the motivations of another person who not only had strong intentions for himself, but worked diligently to convince and steer me in directions he wished  for me to go, as well, that did not match my internal compass.

What a gift my life has been!  I can look at how this weakness did give me an Achilles’ heel.  I was given the gift of a marriage with a person that would force me to step up to the plate in a sense and say, “No, I may be easy-going, but I do still get to steer my own ship.  Amen.”

There is a shadow aspect that needs examining, here.  Finding the strength here means understanding where this sensitivity is appropriate and where I need to speak out and say, NO!

When I was proceeding through my dark night of the soul, one place I ventured was a Thich Nhat Hahn Meditation group that met in the basement of a Baptist Church.  My very first visit, I noticed a person coming in late, going to great lengths to make sure that the door made no sound at all upon her entry.  She slowly held the knob and turned it at a snail’s pace to not allow the slight click to sound as the door shut fully.

The click from the door may not have been heard, but one click that did occur was the sound of a light being turned on above my head.

There was value in the time she took to enter without disturbing others.    I recognized her sensitivity to the experience of others in meditation, and thus could see this value in myself.  She mirrored the beauty of a sensitivity that I possessed as well, and her gesture allowed me to see it in myself.

I am sensitive to others, I am strong in this, yet I can also choose when and where I am sensitive; I can choose with whom I wish to spend my time and donate my listening heart.  I can understand the strength and weakness in the same quality.

I kiss and bless my own heel, my best feature, for sure:)

“If you try to avoid or remove the awkward quality, it will pursue you. The only effective way to still its unease is to transfigure it, to let it become something creative and positive that contributes to who you are.
Nietzche said that one of the best days in his life was the day when he rebaptized all his negative qualities as his best qualities. Rather than banishing what is at first glimpse unwelcome, you bring it home to unity with your life…..One of your sacred duties is to exercise kindness toward them. In a sense, you are called to be a loving parent to your delinquent qualiites” 
― John O’Donohue


8 Jan
“Tired of Speaking Sweetly
Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.
If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.
Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth
That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
And with others,
Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.
God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice His dropkick.
The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:
Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.
But when we hear
He is in such a “playful drunken mood”
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs their bags and hightails it
Out of town.”
From: ‘The Gift
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

get over myself

29 Dec


even at the beginning

edge of memory,

she was here,

making absurd

through the observing:



ill-fitting clothes of every era,

Polaroid snapshot gatherings,

grass and apple trees,

clubs and cliques and tube tops,

imagined crushes,

shameful invisibility.

Do you remember, she says, oh never mind,

we know together of

getting lost on purpose,

breaking down beside roads,

hating picnics for the trouble of it all,

or sucking the stuckness

of traffic jam hours –

inching inching inching

wanting to open the door and run away

leaving a car, a purse, a self behind?

Was she holding me in a

haze of ether,

as I was coming to and going out,

dreaming of awake,  awake and dreaming?

Here’s the gift of all these years –

freedom has always been mine.

The prison of duty was self made, by listening to the song:

do as we wish and good things will come to you…

I knew a song so much better than that –

Her hum was that song

remember – not to forget

in the comic book, flip-through life –

of confusion.

How else would I know to change except through discomfort?

How else would I come to know that me is

one instrument, learning to play itself,

except for the sullied

fingers across my keys – the discordant disymphony?

I feel the ivory for myself;

I may play one note for the next 10 years

who gives a goodgoddamn, ain’t nothing but my own composition

and never was anything else at all –

a sound wave disappearing from the ears


to become truly seen.

The face in the back becomes the face in the fore –

a journey to the laughter

that I AM.

yen and yang, my daughters

26 Dec

chloe eden nyc dinosaur

 If you get too close to the mirror, your eyes will cross.

Of course I KNOW my girls, but somehow, separation helps me to actually see them.

And I see myself.

Things that come in packages of two often express polarity.  Daughter duality  is part of my learning.  They each reflect opposites in their ways of thinking, expressing, hurting, overcoming….basically existing in ways that directly reflect me as well.  I can see the strengths and flaws I contain within my being playing out in the reflection of these two girls.  What a show, what a combustable concoction, what a well-written play!

I see the slot-machine lever pulls in the traits of their genetic, environmental, personal choices…a playing out of variety, contrast, expanse.    Where one is extroverted, the other is introverted.  Where one intuits, the other logics it out.  Where one seems to absorb information through the ethers, the other has to read the chapter and memorize it word for word.  Where one wants to judge, the other wants to allow.  One, indoor, one outdoor.  One science, one art.  Of course, they do not exist in a vacuum of one thing and not the other, or in a snapshot that never changes, but they do seem to have tendencies that swing into opposites whenever possible.

They also reflect to me the truth of connection and separation that this life allows us, if we are willing to do the work of it.  I force me to see where I understand and where I do not.

This teaching is impossible to put into words.  It is as intense as I can ever imagine in both fun and pain.  I cannot ever walk away.  I am here for the long haul and in knowing the safety of my presence, they  let it all fly – they  unleash – and thus I am granted the fiery, fierce eternal mirror of my own truth in a way that is way beyond a partnering relationship which is based on sharing the journey but with a freedom to leave.  

Wow.  Cannot leave.  I have to look them and myself in the face.  Parent is much the same as committing to live a life in this body.  Barring extreme action – we are here – we must live our lives.   What a gift they have given to me on a deep soul level – this walking to adulthood with my kindred, these girls, by choice to begin with, then by force.

By next year, this whole dynamic will be shifting as one goes to college, and the other stays home for a bit longer.  What seems unbearable now, will no longer be pressing by next year.  The frustration of differences will be become an attractor, I imagine, by the heart softening of distance.

I miss their noise, their mess, their complexities, their joys, and even their suffering this week – but goodness, a little time alone is so very good.

How’s this for contrast :0

through whose eyes do i see?

1 Oct


the cats do not care

one tiny bit that it is tuesday,

nor does the  moon –

shining itself in part and in shadow,

over meows of greeting and hunger.

The rolling out of the garbage

is now a job done in the dark.

3 cats   –    the moon   –   and me:

each with eyes for seeing and skin for feeling

the cooling morning air.

Essays in queue waiting  to be graded – shall I number them all?


What needs to be done will be done and instead I ask

whose eyes do I choose to look through in this moment:

skin,   fur,   or   rocky shell?

Should I add that there are also

eyes behind the veil  that

I cannot see, but I feel them

watching too?

Flying out –

I rub my growing, grey-tone belly,

taking in

what is below,

readying for

one last ripening

before the harvest.

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