Adding It All Up

This morning I awoke in darkness, wondering about my life. Folded back under my covers at five thirty am, I sipped a gorgeous cup of creamed earthquake blend coffee and measured my existence against stark contrasts of other human lives to which I bear witness. On one side, the man I am living with these days, who eats crap, leaves messes, smokes clove cigarettes and sits in his easy chair watching more TV than Satan. (But the most strenuous dimension of this situation is that I LOVE this man. Every day, I ache under the weight of my judgement and disgust, and pray to God to help me love more purely and unconditionally.) And on the blazing starlight end of the spectrum, is a particularly effulgent and delighted Goddess, Tree, who posts every day on Facebook about how fucking RAD her life is, and all the stuff she appreciates and… and honestly, I compare myself to her and feel like I must be failing somehow… not living, bikini clad, on Maui and making EVERY SINGLE DAY the juiciest fucking day of my precious human life. Sigh.

But do you see? It’s the quintessential contrast. One man who has seemingly given up on himself and his life… And a woman who is an olympic marrow sucker. Then I groped about at the nebulous notion of “me”… I have far from given up on myself… And yet I’m not spilling tears of JOY for the profound GIF T of this life. I’m more like plodding along. And digging deep, for the mother of all roots. The unseen Ultimacy which embraces all Creation from within the all-pervading center. I mean, I guess that’s pretty ummm… “noble”… but I’m not like having a BLAST, or anything.

And then six thirty am rolled around and shoved a towel, a swimsuit and goggles, and my laptop into my dingy pink back-pack, hopped on my bike and pedaled through the steely autumn fog, toward my swimming pool. Jason, the lifeguard was delighted to lay his eyes upon this undercover mermaid. I let him thaw my frozen hand in his, as I shared my morning musings. I think I’m a few miles too deep for him. He didn’t really get it. At least not all of it… But speaking my thoughts aloud allowed the contemplation to expand and evolve and work its way through my system. Ultimately, my question is… what is the meaning of life? And am I even in the right ballpark?

Recently, I was writing in my journal, and I stumbled upon a meaning that reverberated with a core of resonance, deeper than I had yet touched. I wrote that the meaning of my life is to LIVE TRUTH. And furthermore, I was sure that I would clamber to the top of the mount and call out to you from the wuthering heights of Athena Graceland… I FOUND IT!!!!

But not so. Because the face of truth is revealing itself in utter simplicity today. Profundity has fluttered mightily like a shattered flock of heaven-suspended doves, breaking the sky apart with a multiplicity of singing white wings. The locker room was pleasantly warm. I changed into my ragged bikini, stood too long under the stream of perfectly hot water, and then, nearly naked, braved dawn’s chilled embrace en route to my modest, urban ocean.

Lo! This morning she glowed like a steaming, aqua jewel under a dimly beaming, white-washed sky. Snuggled up to my kick board, gliding through this viscous dream, my softened mind slow-wrastled with big questions, as I drank the evocative slice of paradise in through my senses, and it was suddenly so obvious. Presence, silly goose! It all ads up to NOW. Take it or leave it. Minus the leaving it part. Because as far as I can tell, the now is inescapable. But that’s alright, because it’s a pretty interesting place.

And then I mused on how this aquatic instant was so much easier to love than some of the other scabby moments of my life… but oh well. I guess that’s where Truth/Love/God comes into it for me… Even in the puss-oozing, ugly, confusing moments, I still have the freedom to lift my consciousness up into the prismatic radiance of the Infinite. In ALL moments I have that option. I always have the freedom to make love with the silent center of existence. Right NOW. And to let this humble intimacy inform how I move and speak and breathe. Even if I’m not bursting with passion, like Tree on Maui, I’m pretty jazzed to be “me”… on this path. I put “me” in quotes, because when I wake up from this dream, I imagine laughter might boisterously tinkle through the corridors of eternity at the compelling yet elusive notion of this seeming “me”…

And speaking of jazz, they are playing jazz here at Pizzaiolo this am! I walked in, and it engulfed and expanded my pre-existing contentment. Sometimes the music here is way too rock and rolly for my sattvic preferences. I tease my mom about how Ananda is “too bland” for me… but the truth is, bland is actually becoming sorta delicious to me these days. It’s almost like the new spicy. But the point is that I have found so much relief in the generous, nuanced simplicity of this morning. Sometimes, I drown myself in my own self-indulgent depth and profundity. But today, I am delighted by the cold, white-washed sky, and the poetically steaming pool, and the existence of mild-mannered jazz. And let’s not forget pu-er tea with rich milk and raw, local honey. And the magical act of pouring coherent strands of alphabet through my fingertips! How cool is that?! I can just nestle here in this woody booth and think about whatever I fancy, and spit it out through my fingers like worms poop nutrient-rich soil!

I will leave you with these words from my bomb-assed guru, Paramahansa Yoganada, because they are persistently pressing themselves into the forefront of my mind, in sacred retort to this wash of thoughts, which I have sprayed upon your mind.

“I will think until I find the ultimate answer. I will turn the power of thought into a searchlight whose brightness will reveal the face of Omnipresence.”

Om. Peace. Amen.

Clumsy, Messy, Blessed

What you don’t know, is that I attempted to strip down to my (figurative) birthday suit and take a cannonball plunge into Athena Graceland two days ago, but I was slogging through so much thick self-denigration, I couldn’t even muscle through it, like I mostly always have been able to. This time, it demanded to be the Heartless Head Mistress, and all I could do, in the face of such demonic inner forces, was cast down my sword and shield, and j-walk across the street to Walgreens, purchase a composition book, which to my substantial though compartmentalized delight, happened to be on sale for eighty-nine cents, run into Gregory, who I took yoga training with eight years ago and fuck this is a run-on sentence and I am no longer feeling liberated or inspired by it, so I’m gonna go like this: .

Hell, I’ll even start a NEW PARAGRAPH!! By the time I encountered sweet, luminous Gregory, I was about to claw myself to death and then stick a swirly straw through my ear and slurp out my brains. Not good. But as a member of the Under-cover Angels Brigade, his eyes shone with compassion and Truth and he gave me a hug and told me how great it was to be a father. When we knew each other, he was PINING to find a wife and bust a move on the family scene… and now he’s so blissfully in it. And I felt the clashing sting of simultaneous gladness for him and razor-fanged, woman-eating jealousy. I left the store in mild pathetic tears, like a bout of sunny, afternoon rain spilling from a schizophrenic sky.

“Grattidude,” he called out to me as a parting reminder from one mildly deluded bodhisattva to another… and that’s when I realized I had just bought myself a GRATITUDE JOURNAL! (The universe has been telling me to start one for months now…) So I parked it in the frigid, autumn sunshine of Pizzaiolo’s backyard garden, opened my book to page one, twisted my gratitude valve, and in my favorite pink pen, I began to pour fourth worlds of inky goodness. You wouldn’t believe how quickly that changed my mood. Then Ed snuck up behind me and planted a kiss on my head.

That was a lot of words just to say that I tried to blog the day before yesterday, was defeated by a carnivorous internal weather-system. And now, I am “taking two”… And I’m standing up on the smooth, wooden table in the crowded cafe and shouting words of praise that it is a NEW DAY, and I have chosen to let go of the past and be freshly born!!!

God… this has been my yoga lately. So much negativity has been rising up inside me like evil steam. I have been perpetually tempted to be so cruel and unusual to myself. But the covert, remarkable beauty of this, is that I have been able to stay awake mostly the whole, entire time. And lovingly slap at my sleepy cheek. “Athena,” I say, “do you really want to let yourself flow into that dirty ditch and drain yourself into the municipal SEWER? The answer, of course, is FUCK NO!!! I want to be HAPPY. I want to be kind and generous and loving and patient with myself. But good-flippin-LORD! This endeavor is requiring every last drop of inner resource lately.

At times like these, I like to believe that this horrific ugliness is a symptom of PURIFICATION. Up and OUT! Because I am committed to recognizing myself (and you) as the Love of God. Nothing more and nothing less. But zoiks, it’s been a challenge lately. Luckily, though, being an athenian light warrior, I AM fond of a good challenge!

Is it just me, or has this week been a potent pivot in consciousness? I swear… it seems to be rushing into and through me, like a powerful current of reckless spring river. The sort river that took Dan’s life last year. But this current shall not TAKE my life, but GIVE it. I am being called forth new. It started in Kimber’s yoga class, with her invitation to consider what questions we are living inside of… She encouraged us to ask the deep, HARD questions. And not only that, but to LOVE them.

Then there is the online writing program I’m doing with SARK, which is helping me identify and redirect my firing squad of malevolent inner-critics, and learn to make “micro-movements” in the direction of my dreams. You know, the dreams I refused to admit I even HAD, in my last blog… But fooled you, I DO have dreams! Actually, I fooled myself… but not for too long. I am remembering. Even simple dreams… like having a home I LOVE. Like not having to share Ed with his nuclear family. Like creating the stability in my life that is necessary to be a mother. Like synthesizing all of my gifts and talents and the beautiful music of my soul into something deeply meaningful and satisfying and of value to others. Many others. Or even the super vanilla dream of going to the dentist and getting my four cavities filled! Sigh…

Wait… what am I driving at? Oh yeah. I woke up this morning and realized that I’ve been WORKING TOO HARD. Spiritually, I mean. But the joke is on lovely little Athena Grace. Because the rotting and crippled protestant work ethic is a dead paradigm. Especially in the realm of the soul. A thriving soul requires a habitat of JOY. Of play. Of wonder and curiosity and delight.

And so, the question that is tugging fervently at my pant leg, is HOW DO I BE HAPPY? What do I need to think, say, do, BE, in order to wake up EVERY SINGLE DAY feeling radiant and madly jazzed to be alive??!!! Because lately, I’ve been in a life-negating pattern of being brutally hard on myself, and subscribing to this putrid idea that there is an immense mountain that I must climb… and it will not be fun. It will be hard. And don’t I even dare smile. (tho sometimes I do anyway!)

Why am I telling you all this? Because I have a feeling that we are ALL purging old programs, archaic belief systems, out-grown, constricting notions of self. I have said this before, and I’ll say it again. And again… The end of the world, last year, was no joke. We are transfiguring into the collective shape of self-realized, infinite LOVE. We must keep believing in the invisible! Shhhhhh… listen. Listen to that soft, gentle whisper, rushing like warm, gorgeous music from within your magnificent heart. I know you know what I am talking about. Because we are the same. And I hear it. Especially when I choose loving thoughts, loving words, loving actions.

I guess the moral of the story is that the New World is calling to us from the Invisible. And it needs YOU… to believe. And to love like there’s no yesterday and no tomorrow. The revolution begins (and ends) within. I’m serious. But only homeopathically serious. Because today is for JOY.


Chisel Thou My Life

It’s a good thing I’ve been doing so much spiritual practice for the past three months (not to mention the last ten years), otherwise I’d’ve shot myself by now. Being back in the Bay Area has been brutal. Of course I’m wielding my poetic license pretty viciously right now… But I’m having volatile feelings. I could work to be “even-minded and cheerful”, as the Ananda (Momshram) contingency aspire to be all the time… but I’m gonna let off some steam and tell you all about the colors and textures of hell… and THEN I’ll be even-minded and cheerful.

Athena? Is this the energy you want to extend into the world? Remember, where attention goes, energy flows… No! I don’t want to dump negative energy all over the page. But I am writing to digest my current experience. Which is very challenging. I want to share it honestly, gracefully, eloquently. Tears. Already. Ahhhhhh….

Well, here’s a brief report on me- (it might end up being not-so-brief… I honestly have no idea what’s gonna pour out of me tonight.) For the month of October, I’m staying in Albany (a little swatch of sleepy, urban life, just north of west berkeley) I’m staying with my friend D, her fourteen and sixteen year old sons, and her slovenly ex-husband. I have my own room. It’s tiny. Mostly all it fits is my double bed. Yup. Not even a place to put my clothes, so they’re tossed in a scraggly pile under my bed. Sigh. The room is south-facing, and gets lots of light, despite being snuggled in, on the ground floor. There are french doors that open out to a small, though lovely garden with a fruit-laden apple tree. It is spider season. Oh, and the best part, is that there’s no door!! Ed took me to our favorite sweat shop mecca, Target, and got me a curtain rod and a curtain though, bless his massive mushy (we call his heart a “mushy” because it’s like the mushy persimmons that grow on the tree in his Mama’s back yard). Or is the best part, sharing a wall with the bathroom and hearing the dude take farty shits at all hours of the day and night? Hmmm… debatable.

The rest of the house tends to be a total stye. Especially since D went away for the weekend, and it was just the three dudes and me. The T.V. was on most of the time. Actually BOTH of them were. Wait, WHY am I even writing this? It’s not making me feel good. I was gonna go on to talk about the rotten, crusty dishes that became a not so distant, daunting mountain over the weekend… and then tell you that Ed is tied up eating corned beef and “potatoes athena” with his family right now as my broken heart sings out through my elegant, agile finger tips. How much longer must I tolerate giving him over to his other life, in which there is no space for Athena Grace? A year? Three years? Seems ridiculous to you I bet… but just wait until you love someone like I love him… THEN be the judge. Actually, don’t bother being the judge at all. Just live your best life, and leave mine to me.

I’m writing this, because this is MY JOURNEY. It might be messy and tragic and limping… but it is mine. And I must love it. The bitch of it all, is that I know in my bones that I am a powerful woman, and I can create whatever I want… but… I just can’t seem to find the core of my desire. Like REALLY- WHAT MATTERS??? What is worth giving my whole self to???? I DON’T FUCKING KNOW. And in the mean time, I’m here in my bedroom, listening to Jai Uttal, and typing this pathetic blog, as I plummet into intermittent fits of sob. Shrug. Wise and compassionate types love to say that everyone in the whole world is doing their best. I tend to agree. I guess this is my best right now. Just to meet myself. In naked honesty. And give myself room to deeply feel and inhabit my experience. Heck, that’s really not so bad.

Ed and I went to yoga together on friday. That was fabulous. If only that was more of a commonplace occurrence THEN I’D BE HAPPY. Haha. My poor ego-washed mind. God! Help me be awake!!! Anyway, the teacher, Kimber was talking about saying YES to our dreams, and being TENACIOUS. I loved looking over and sneaking peaks at Ed in his cute athletic shorts and baby blue t-shirt… and I loved bearing witness to Kimber’s playful, heart-full, multi-dimensionally intelligent leadership… But when it came to harnessing and embracing MY DREAM… I came up short. Is everyone supposed to have a dream? It seems like we all “should”.

I guess if I was vivaciously honest about this, I’d hafta say that my dream is to be a spiritual leader. That’s what I see with my inner-vision. But that’s not exactly a dream that I can just pluck off the tree, and chomp down on. Nor a dream that can entice me away from this stream of tears that’s rushing from my cracked heart and burning eyeballs right now. I dream of Christ Consciousness. I dream of living in a state of awakened unity and deep peace. I dream of midwifing a world shaped by love, compassion, peace and soul-joy. I dream of clean water and kindness and harmony.

So what do I DO with all that? I guess I must endure this sublimely awkward phase… And keep my heart lifted up to God. Keep doing my practices. Keep Loving all my sisters and brothers as best I can, even as my world appears dim and constricting. Keep calling on the light. Even just a good old fashioned deep breath is a fantastic start. Maybe I’ll paint my nails silver. Maybe I’ll read the stories of Hanuman, the hindu monkey god, and quintessential sacred servant. Maybe I’ll play harmonium.

Well… there’s a little slice of my wobbly life.

That reminds me of this spiritual talk I’ve been listening to a lot lately, by one of Yogananda’s oldest living disciples (I THINK he’s still alive…), Brother Anandamoy. He talks about this one dude in their God-posse, who was in charge of leading the prayer at their weekly meeting. Every week, he’d offer the same prayer, “God, chisel Thou my life, according to Thy desire.” Brother Anandamoy thought this dude was asking for trouble… Because once God start’s chiseling, pieces of our identity start to crumble off… and most of us freak out, let go of God, and scramble for the worthless, broken pieces, when REALLY we should let the stupid pieces go, and HOLD ON TO GOD.

Well, gosh… I suppose God knows what HeSheIt’s doing… So I’m just gonna let them fly. Because ya know what? My heart prays that prayer often. And today is the day that I get right with the clumsy process. (Again.)

Ahhhh… I’m glad we had this talk.

Om. Peace. Amen.