The Silver Whisper of Mortality

On my thirty third birthday, to my delight, I discovered my first white hair.  It was shorter than the rest, and reached skyward like a little fairy antennae.  Every time I looked at it, I felt a sense of soulful relief that I was finally growing into my Self.  The Self who had toiled and ached in the gaping chasm between the wisdom of my soul and the limitations of my sparse experience as a twenty-something years alive humanoid on planet Earth.  (I still marvel at those who feel that their twenties are the best years of their life!!!  Unfathomable…)  My white hair was a prized trophy.  Actually, Ed told me to call it “silver”.  That does sound more glamorous… so let’s go with that… makes it sound like I could take it to the bank or use it for alchemical wizardry…

After not TOO much time, I got tired of the way it refused to blend with the flock, and I impulsively plucked it, convinced that soon enough, more would come.  They didn’t.  Until a couple weeks ago.  And THIS time, three years later, my response to this burgeoning silvered, wiser version of myself is not nearly as insouciant.  Actually, the contrast is remarkable.  This time I am the mother of a five month alive goddess… And I feel suddenly OLD.  I have felt worn ragged since she came.  I hope it passes.  I have been living in an incessant state of mild to spicy exhaustion.  My yoga practice has spilled between the cracks in my whittled down, practical existence, as I prioritize money making endeavors, basic hygiene and hOMe maintenance.  And when I DO exercise, it’s walking with a seventeen pound sack of Boozle strapped to me.  God, I feel like I leave a trail of foot-shaped craters in my wake!  My knees creak and groan precariously as I crouch up and down while cleaning houses, wearing my daughter.  And best of all is the steady numbness in my thumb, pointer and middle finger, from the sudden flair up of postpartum carpal tunnel!

It actually feels ridiculous to be writing this.  I never imagined that I’d tell it on a mountain about falling apart and “feeling old”.  I’m hoping that it’s a fleeting, short-lived experience resulting from the Xtreme sport of being a new mom.  A SINGLE new mom at that.  And a *relatively* poor one a that.  Actually, I do not consider myself poor.  I feel pretty wealthy.  But not wealthy enough to thrust heaps of cash at a babysitter while I go off and get a nice, deep, luxurious massage, or weekly acupuncture… or even… mmmm… a swim a the local pool.  Now I’m drooling.

Serena is becoming more and more awake and engaged… and I am humbled.  Gone are the days when she’d just sleep like a little dense loaf of heaven, and I could get on with my romanticized existence as a new mother.  Nope.  Welcome to the version of reality where I am mostly busting my butt to earn money while constantly attending to Serena, and keeping myself and my home in a moderate state of loveliness.  Oh… and at least dabbling in staying connected to others.

If my life was a piece of music…. God, there are so many different instruments playing, and weaving together a very eclectic strand of melodies and diverse tones.  Loneliness moans from deep down in my heart like a wailing saxophone.  I thought I was ok with loneliness by now.  I used to be afraid to admit Her presence, for fear of frightening others even further away from me.  But over time, I realized that loneliness is an inevitable guest who visits everyone from time to time… no big deal.  Lately though, I have not been such a gracious hostess… because while She has mostly been a respectful guest who doesn’t overstay her welcome, recently she seems to have set up camp.  I guess She needs a lot of my loving attention.  Sigh.  I often feel frustrated that I am a single mom.  Even though I chose it, I find myself longing to do it with Ed… Imagining a highly glamorous rendition of intimacy, witnessing the child we created out of our potent, devoted love, unfurl and blossom every day… Being kissed and held… Leaving Serena with him while I went to my weekly yoga class… Writing about this is causing the gravitational field in my heart to become crushing.

But back to the symphony singing in me.  There is a brass section, that is crashing triumph!  This experience has catalyzed the lazy, inert dimensions of me to WAKE UP and get groovin!  A deep part of me was yearning to get unstuck… crying out for the grace of something that mattered enough to compel me to bleed and sweat and make shit happen.  Silver hairs or not, if I was babyless, I’d still be draped on the figurative chaise lounge, eating organic bonbons and watching new-age soap operas.  Ha!  Actually, my LIFE is a bit of a new-age soap opera…. I remember one time, about three years ago, I was getting ready to leave my Ma’s house, and return back to my lovely art deco apartment in the Land of Oaks… and my Ma said to her cat, “Jupi, say bye to Athena… She’s going back to her soap opera now.”  This comment simultaneously agitated me and cracked me UP!!!  There was too much truth to it to be casually dismissed.  But thankfully, over time, my Ma graduated my existence to the status of a full on OPERA.  A classier production with bold, heart-wrenching music and exquisite costumes…  I wonder what she’d deem this current incarnation.  Now there’s not enough frivolous time to flop around and squeeze drama from the cracks in my life.  My days are a steady stream of rigorous output.  But somehow still colorful, because come on, it’s Graceland!  Anyway, a deep part of me feels profoundly satisfied to be working so hard, and experiencing myself as boundless and powerful.

And yet… simultaneously, there is a part of me who is really getting off on feeling like a victim!  I don’t know what instruments would sound for this section of my inner musical landscape….?  Oh duh!  VIOLINS.  Tons of them!!  Pooooor Athena.  She has to do it all by herself.  There is nobody to hold her baby.  Her body aches and she’s exhausted and it never stops.  It’s weird, but I can actually feel myself ENJOYING feeling sorry for myself in some moments!  Even as I am concurrently feeling empowered and strong.  I tell you this, because I feel a passionate call to bust through the collectively constructed myth that a person must be all streamline and tidy on the inside.  NO WAY.  We each have so many dimensions singing up from within us, all at once.  And they don’t have to agree or make any semblance of sense.  And yet, even inside this miraculous cacophony, we can still be graceful and at peace.

If you don’t know this about me yet, I love my stories to have “morals”.  Not the kind of morals that measure your worthiness or acceptability… but the kind that invite you to look inside and touch your own humanity and divinity in an intimate and meaningful way.  Modern day parables!  I’m a messy, modern day Jesus!  Haha!!!  But seriously, Jesus taught the masses to love everyone.  And I am suggesting that the precursor to that illuminated stance, is to love everyone who lives inside of YOU.  I believe in the dawning of a world of peace and harmony… because it is rising soft and radiant in my own heart and life.  And it is highly contagious.

Amen.

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Revelation of Wholeness

Wholeness. It’s a concept I have rarely entertained or bestowed with much thrust. Until about two weeks ago. Daiva, the man behind the curtain here, (that is to say, the one at the top of the Ananda Portland/Laurelwood totem pole… though I have a feeling he would be quick to assert that he’s *not* indeed behind a curtain… but for some reason, imagining him as a larger-than-life notion; a massive projection of a head with a booming voice emerging from darkness and flames, tickles my funny bone, and there’s *something* right about it…) Anyway where was I, before I extended the mischievous courtesy of bringing you up to speed on one of the key characters in my current waking dream? Oh yeah, so I think “wholeness” might be Daiva’s official linguistic mascot, and deepest aspiration.

Wholeness. Naturally, the notion has started to gnaw at my consciousness too, insisting on becoming more than a mere word, but an experiential boon. I just looked it up on dictionary dot com. And two aspects of the definition that struck me as pertinent are “complete” and “undivided”.

Allow me to interrupt myself for a moment, before I commence to flail and dig with fervor to convey to you, that which is deeply meaningful to me. I must announce that it is five forty-five am. Still dark. And HARK, the shy orchestra of raindrops is striking up outside my modestly cracked window! This is bound to be a great blog… wink. (BTW, remember, I’m in Oregon, NOT California… and the rain here flows like coffee in Portland. Which is to say with luxurious abandon. But when it goes away for a day or three, I miss the romance, the music and the decadent wetness of the air.)

And now back to our previously scheduled, impending revelation. I don’t want to spend too much time wrestling with the conceptual implications of this potentially weighty word. Doing so is giving me unsightly wrinkles in my forehead. Instead I will dive into the crystalline pool of practical application, and share with you my recent experiential illumination. And you can connect the dots, or color outside the lines, or solve the puzzle as you wish.

If I remember correctly, in my last blog, I touched on the recent strain of suffering I’ve been experiencing in my relentlessly compelling soul tango with Ed. To say it plain, I had been living inside the fierce, continuous immediacy of heart ache for at least a week, in this last round. Yes, think of it like a heavy-weight boxing championship. And see me taking blow after blow, yet not going down for the count… Instead continuing to inhabit the treasure and skeleton-laden sunken pirate ship that was my heart. You can imagine that this made me a very unpleasant girlfriend. Dull. Aloof. Defensive. Critical. Overly sensitive. To name a few.

I was doing my best, I swear. But just feeling pinned and crushed beneath the weight of circumstance, and unable to free myself. Wanting to be with him. Wanting to build our nest and invite Alexandria into my womb. And floundering helplessly in the cold steal reality of impossibility to have what I yearn for. And you might be like, “Well then leave, Athena. Go find a man who is available, and get to making your soft, glittery disco nest!” But it’s not like that. It’s just not.

Have you ever lived for an extended period of time with a bleeding heart? I don’t recommend it. Unless you want to seriously ignite your quest for liberation. So I think it must have been the afternoon after my last blog entry, two days ago… I was on the phone with Ed, and the climate of my heart was still storming, but the clouds were losing their density, and beneficent, golden swirls of sunlight were gently pressing their way through the wet, grey ache. And if lightbulbs really DO flash over peoples heads in moments of epiphany, one screamed on, above me for sure!

I saw/felt/heard this renegade invitation to consider the possibility that the pain that had taken up semi-permanent residence in my heart (more like a persistent squatter), might actually have NOTHING to do with Ed. I know, this is a radical notion. But it really felt like the quintessential wound of my forgetful existence; the pain of being born into a world where I am dreaming I am separate from Source. What could hurt more than that? These might just sound like words to you… unless you’ve ever been willing to really FEEL IT. But imagine Infinity. Imagine an Ocean of Love, so deep and wide and all pervading, that it has no end and no beginning. Imagine being engulfed in that perfection, completely merged with that quintessential WHOLENESS…. and then imagine being squeezed through your mom’s vagina (or sliced out of her abdomen, as was my case) and some sterile dude with a mask on grabbing you and abruptly severing your source of oxygen and nourishment and you GASP and shriek and cry as you’re suddenly immersed in this ominous sense of separation, vulnerability and perpetual threat. Shit. It’s an ugly picture. And that’s how most of us are born into this world. (Except for all of the rad water births I’ve been watching on youtube, but that’s another blog!)

I’ve read and heard a bajillion times that the deepest opportunity of Intimate Relationship (letting someone into your heart and soul as deep as is humanly possible) is to make contact with our core wounds, feel them and heal them. And I’ve always believed it. But I’ve never been ready to get so close to the core as I did two days ago. Suddenly, I found myself considering out lout (Ed as my witness) that maybe the pain I was in had NOTHING to do with ANYTHING outside myself! Maybe everything “outside” was merely a catalyst to touch the center of my deepest being, integrate that which I had at some point renounced, “lost” …and return to a state of implicit wholeness. (A part of me hated to admit this. Because one the ego blows its cover, there’s really no going back into hiding…)

Are you following me? Honestly, I’m not sure if this is sounding way too radical, or completely obvious, like “Duh, Athena…” Strange, huh? In my world, the quest for Truth is the centerpiece, the heavenly body around which all other aspects and nuances of the human dream revolve. I recognize that peeling the onion and living ever-deepening cuts of Truth is not everyone’s cuppa. But walking the yogic path, and studying A Course in Miracles for four years now, I am realizing at continuously deeper levels that happiness really can NOT be found outside. It’s such a gnarly pill to swallow. But in the end, it does not matter what man I’m with, or whether I’m pregnant or not (still fervently bound to those desires though!!!) or…

The TRUTH is that I am WHOLE, perfect and complete. Always. Now. Life is but a dream. And dreams inevitably fade, while Truth eternally remains. There IS another way to live: surrendered to an intelligence and a love far greater than “my own”. God (LOVE), being One, can see the whole picture. I can see but a modest shard, probably smaller than a human sperm; relatively imperceptible to the naked eye. I really do *not* know what my best interests are. Except that all that I am living is exactly what I need to be living… in service of my highest growth. And I have the perpetual option to welcome it all with gratitude and faith and perfect peace. This, of course requires me to let go of my own, slighted agendas. That is the WORK. I am working HARD. I want to want only Truth, only the ever-new joy of God…. but delusion is so thick and persistent. Breath by breath. Moment by moment. Day by day.

How do you encourage a child to let go of her vice grip on that sticky candy she stole from the jar? You can’t rip it out of her hand!!! No way. She will scream and cry and clutch it even harder. Distract her with immense, wiggly, iridescent bubbles! Meaning, I can’t use brute force to tear my delusions from the grip of my sick mind. I must keep luring myself deeper into love’s gentle reality by lifting my gaze into it’s refined spheres of seductive, luminous beauty… and the layers of bullshit will naturally slough off like dead skin.

Om. Peace. Amen.