flash

“Flash” by J.T. Kade

Joining the rest of America a couple of days ago, I viewed the Access Hollywood video of heinous remarks about women further damning any trace of morality/humanity in someone holding the title of U.S. Presidential nominee.

I closed my laptop. I cried.

These were not tears of fear or sadness though. They were tears of rage.

This had been some time coming. The build up of so many months being force fed filth, stupidity, and degradation stoked a burning anger that could no longer be neglected or ignored. My coping mechanisms had lost their affect. I had tried to engross myself in work, to avoid the media as much as possible, to hope hard that this was all one awful prank.

I’m not proud of this. My responses were wrapped up in a smallness that give a false sense of escape. Beyond my tipping point, the physical reaction of a racing heart, sick stomach and tears told me I was duping myself. Ignorance is not bliss.

I admire those engaging in the uncomfortable conversations online and around the dinner table. I am inspired by people like my boyfriend who leap into the grossness of injustice, the ugliness of racism and sexism with a roar and bite. I seek to emulate folks with an activist spirit like journalist and writer, Courtney Martin, who credits an upbringing of creating importance around honorable rebellion. In a recent On Being interview, she shares:

“So one of the things I feel like my parents really entrusted me with was this idea that you should trust your own outrage. And sort of being able to honor that anger, to me, is one of the most important muscles of a rebel.”

Not everyone joins the rebellion in the same way; I know this and respect it.

But, for the sake of my four year old niece who is one of America’s next generation of empowered and respected women, for the millions of immigrants that continue to contribute greatly to a beautifully diverse culture and incredible work ethic, for the belief that my country is capable of modeling social progress, open-armed tolerance, and environmental responsibility, I will  trust my own outrage.

I will honor this anger.

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rosary-rear-view-mirrorthe rosary swaying on his review mirror was familiar to me in the way that growing up with religious objects are. i sank in the back seat, my small suitcase beside me, ready to be home.

polite exchanges revealed information i really didn’t ask for: he’s married, two years in the U.S., has a 7 month old, and apparently devout in his faith.

my smile and “how nice” response to his being a father prompted him to ask the double-punch question: do you have kids-are you married? a quick no-no is my usual reply, relieving both interviewer and me from emotional entanglement.

but this time, i offered more.

“no”…and, “actually, I’m going through a divorce.”

why I opened up like that, i don’t truly know. maybe it slipped. maybe it was in hopes for a sympathetic word. maybe it was the presence of the dangling cross turning the Chevvolet Cruze into a confessional.

“oh, i’m so sorry.”

there it was. sympathy.

this sincerity was followed by the question: did you marry out of love?

when affirmed, it was clear the driver had a mission, a message. in his culture, marriage is prearranged and love follows. it’s chosen and maintained. in his faith, marriage is sacred. divorce is not an option. in his view, i needed to be prayed for so that we could reconcile and remain married.

my eyes glazed over the freeway signs, the trees and buildings blurring. my heart became weighted with every word. my mind wondered: what is this?

as i closed the door to a “God bless”, my steps leading closer to the front door unlocked my grief. at the doorway, open, loving arms wrapped my sobbing self, until my spirit quieted.

with a propensity to read into most things as divine nudges, i thought more about my viceral reaction. what was it about this that upset me so much?

it was the rubbing of a healing wound. it was the overt crossing of personal boundaries. it was the religion+judgement combination that i’ve always struggled with. it was the failure story loop.

i truly believe my driver was operating from a definition of goodness and care; that he wished wellness and salvation for me.

but, the unexpected exchange left me raw and without desire to judge, rate, or allot stars to an uber evangelist.

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nayathe quirky way she laughs is a combination of borrowing observed behaviors and the pure joy she gets in repeating an exaggerated gesture: throwing back her head, a wide smile, eyes brilliant, an occasional hand at the mouth, and hearing the sound of her own voice tickle.

with an absurd rainbow-unicorn towel, she envelops herself in music and movement, uninhibited. here she loses the stifling self-consciousness that often comes with viewing eyes, the recording iphone. a hop here, a twirl there. this is raw experimentation and it’s beautiful.

moments in the backseat of the car, she weaves reality and fantasy in breathless story lines that prompt questioning for clarification. her listeners will never truly understand her three year old truth, one that shape shifts and forms organically without effort.

when asked occasionally if she wants to be four, she shakes her head no.
” I don’t want to be old. I want to be three.”

I wonder, then, where does it go? the rawness of life experience, the one I witness in being with my dear niece.

And then, I’m reminded, listening to poet Paul Muldoon explain simply the loss of our natural poets, children, as they grow:
“I’m afraid that, too often, it gets educated out of us.”

when did we learn so wrongly?

blackbird in copenhagenThe record player spins on a well worn mid century modern dresser, akin to the cafe’s chairs and orb chandeliers. It’s all intentionally unpretentious with framed Hendrix posters and bathroom graffiti. These are pieces from Danish homes, second hand finds found on every other block. The Beatles serenade this 8AM morning, perfect melodies suitable for the melancholic gray outside, the romantic candlelight inside.

This pure artistry of a place, this mingling of quiet conversations in a foreign language with background latte making, this cozy nook where I write…this will forever, I believe, spoil future cafe moments.

Oakland FallThe trees are hinting a seasonal change. Walking around the Mission in a tank top and flip flops on a late October day, you would think otherwise though. You’d think the microclimates once explaining the need for layers in San Francisco are made up. You’d question the use of an umbrella. You’d feel there’s no such thing as seasons in California.

Still, the trees push to tell another story, to encourage the spirit of upcoming holidays, to finally give us the chance to wear boots and a scarf. It is with their dazzling color shifts, that we’re given a sign for what’s ahead. To prepare for darkening days and the upcoming cold with warming hearths and hearty soups. To open our homes and bask in communal gatherings. To add light with candles and window decor and the gift of giving.

Cyclical patterns offer a comfort we crave. Just knowing that day follows night, spring follows winter, high tide follows low, helps us feel thethered to a consistency that feels familiar, that feels like our breath.

This simple fact is important. Because in a world that shows us again and again that we are not in control, we tend to cling to the few consistencies life offers, whether inspired by humanity or nature. The rituals help us make sense of our time here, the sequence of seasons harness the apprenhension that comes with the unknown.

But what if the signs are not evident? What if we’re not notified of what is to come? What if the what we’ve counted on disappears?

Certainly, we’ve all had this experience. After years at a company, the position we had is no longer there. A healthy loved one gets terminally ill. An unexpected expense puts us in debt. A  long-term relationship takes on another form.

The feeling is unsettling.

This spinning of events out of our reach is possibly what causes the most suffering. If doing the “right” thing and showing commitment do not guarantee us the things we thought, how can we trust the path ahead?

I once heard the idea of having “faith in the unfolding” and it struck a chord in me. What if we just let things happen to us without harsh judgement or guilt? What if we embraced our vulnerabilty and lowered expectations? What if we let go of the worry and fear that comes with life’s detours and simply had faith that things were unfolding just the way they were meant to?

What if we stopped looking at the trees to monitor our timelines and just observed them for their simple beauty?

Would we feel more at peace?

FullSizeRenderI received this written meditation some time ago from a beautiful friend. To me, it is a prayer. In a time of change, the change of relationship (with a person, with a work situation, with a life path), it soothes and empowers. I’ve kept it to myself but have been feeling compelled to share it out to others here. It is my hope that healing and new perspective is offered through it. 

Guides & Angels (you can substitute in whatever speaks to you),

The relationship between ________ and me is passing from one phase to the next. It has entered the great mystery of death and rebirth.

O Guides & Angels, give guidance to me. For I am now alone with the joys and sorrows of my past ties. Guide me to see beyond my blindness and to let go of attachments, so that I may move freely through the passage from what was, to what is to be.

May the power of unconditional forgiveness embrace me.

May I be clear and unafraid amid the karmic winds that surround me.

May I know all sounds as my own sound.

May I know all lights as my own light.

May I know all pain and pleasure to be transient.

O Guides & Angels, help my heart to be open. And, may the thought of loving kindness guide me to choose a new path that will benefit myself and others.

May the sound of this prayer emanate in all directions. May these thoughts become my thoughts. My all doubts dissolve. May the power of my love be strong and clear.

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