Thursday, June 28, 2012

how?

How do we endure our suffering? How do we act with grace when we are in severe pain, when our family is in pain?

When I was starting a family, my husband and I spend a great deal of time, money, and energy trying to get pregnant. It worked. And then I had a miscarriage. And then we tried again. It was so hard to re enter that place of hope and joy after having the devastating experience of being there once before, open hearted and thrilled, in the miraculous, only to have to endure the loss. Unlike other losses, where we do not get to have something we want, this one comes with its own DNA in you body, creating a complete physical, mental and spiritual challenge. It took months to recover, to process the pain, to try again, to have hope.

You can’t help wondering, How? And Why? When you are in the miraculous and it seems to get taken away, the world seems so cruel. It is easy to be with god and see the good when you get what you want. It is easy to find ease when you are lucky and good things come you way. The challenge is when the thing you want does not come your way. The challenge of life is how do we endure the hard stuff, because even the luckiest of us have to grieve. I have learned that the miraculous is indeed in the “getting” but it is also in the “losing,”, in the pain- a whole different gift, a whole deeper, richer blessing. Yes, I have learned that, but I still forget it when I am hurting. I write this to remind myself.

Recently, I have faced another situation, an almost unbearable one, in which I have to endure a very painful experience. For personal reasons, I consciously chose to endure it with kindness and respect to those involved. I succeeded in that respect but it was still utterly painful and I hurt for a long time afterwards. How do I face it again? How do I find the strength to get up and walk on? How do I have hope?

In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl writes: that the meaning of life is found in every moment of living; life never ceases to have meaning, even in suffering and death.
Frankl offered the thought that for everyone in a dire condition there is someone looking down, a friend, family member, or even God, who would expect not to be disappointed. Frankl concludes from his experience that a prisoner's psychological reactions are not solely the result of the conditions of his life, but also from the freedom of choice he always has, even in severe suffering. The inner hold a prisoner has on his spiritual self relies on having a hope in the future, and that once a prisoner loses that hope, he is doomed.

An example of Frankl's idea of finding meaning in the midst of extreme suffering is found in his account of an experience he had while working in the harsh conditions of the Auschwitz concentration camp:

... We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road leading from the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles. Anyone with very sore feet supported himself on his neighbor's arm. Hardly a word was spoken; the icy wind did not encourage talk. Hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, the man marching next to me whispered suddenly: "If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don't know what is happening to us."
That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind. And as we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking of his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife's image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.
A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way – an honorable way – in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, "The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory...."[6]

Let us walk on…


Sunday, June 24, 2012

George Harrison - My Sweet Lord

My worst nightmare is my biggest gift

Because it brings me to a new perspective, one I would have never gotten to otherwise.
That new perspective changes my life, my brain, and my body because it is all connected. I am completely different because of it. This is the biggest gift

I would like to remember what I am writing and stay in gratitude around the issues that feel so hard and scary, hopeless and helpless, pointless and despairing.

We all have a heavy load to carry, be kind to the fellow travelers because you have no idea. And also, the lower down you sink in life, the greater your capacity for empathy.

Sometimes I am forbidden from telling the details, the story that makes you able to relate to me, but trust me as I write broadly, that I am climbing the internal mount everest. I am right there with you if you are climbing to, and we will arrive at the summit and gain a new perspective and that is grand. So forgive me when I forget and complain. This is all grand. Life is grand and divine. Right here right now is sublime and magnificent. I am willing to forget everything I think I know about everything and start over brand new and free. And you can too. Much love to you all.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

start by admitting from cradle to tomb... it isn't that long a stay..

What is great: dancing

Dancing is life changing, the expression of the magnificent, stronger than a locomotive, wilder than the ocean, free-er than the wind in the trees. Are you with me? Yes, I love to sing and make music and hear it, but dancing is the best. It is like laughing or sex or both, essential, divine. Great dancers: (I am forget so many so fogive this partial list but…) Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, gene Kelley, Viva Ruiz, Johanna Constanitne, Ebony Jett, Marti, Stacy Dawson, the work of Bob Fosse, great ballet dancers, break dancers, soul train, empire state soul club, Gene Kelly, Tina Turner and the Ikettes, Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop… cause I’m loose.

I used to dj at the Greendoor. In the hey day, the point of life was to go out dancing every night, till the break of dawn. That was what I got paid to do. i was unconsciously manifesting pure joy which to countered all the other shit, kept me alive. I would spin vinyl on the earlier shift so I could dance for the rest of the night. For years we did the parties at illegal venues, places without liquor licenses or air conditioning. You wore as little as possible and got soaked to the skin. Sweating like that was never gross, it was like being an olympic athlete. You moght even go home with someone in that fantastic condition and that was perfect. Everyone was doing it. Great shoes were so important, not for comfort, but because they were the only thing that held up. I could dance all night long in six-inch heels, so problem. The hair and makeup that you spent so much time on was destroyed, but in a beautiful way. We all looked fantastic because we were young and alive and in the bliss of life.

Remember when Giuliani got elected and they brought back all these hideous corrupt cabaret laws from the 1920’s and dancing was illegal in Manhattan in non-zoned clubs. I do not know the zoning rules, but I think it was that in clubs on streets that ran east and west, dancing was illegal, north to south was fine. (I might be making that up. I write this blog on the fly, the only research I do is my memory). Random nonsense, (not my memory, but the laws). We would break the law every night. Beautiful criminals fighting the powers that be, our only weapons, our bodies! Crime ecstasy with every step.

Any one of you beauties remember that there was a kill switch at the top of the stairs at Coney Island High? If the cops came in, the door person, me or someone else, hit the switch causing the music downstairs to get cut off and replacing it with some waltzy shit. Killed the mood, tricked the cops, see ya later alligator. Once the cops were out the door, the dj started right back where they left off and so did the dance floor. Please don’t try to take away our pursuit of happiness, cause we won’t let you, motherf*&##ers.

Now in Los Angeles with a kiddie, I do it less often, but I still make it a priority to go dancing now and again. My dear friend who meets me in Santa Monkica to go dancing at Afro Funk has moved to Portland. What shall I do? Meeting in Santa Monica to go dancing was real dedication, the equivalent of living in the east village and going to Connecticut to dance. Typical Los Angeles ridiculousness. Talk about a drag, but I did it, cause I had to. I will find a new venue and a new crew, cause I have to. ‘Cause what good is sitting alone in your room? Come here the music play….



Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ode to Joy

I was fourteen and out with a guy I liked. He was older, had a car, liked me too. It was a planned outing, but the word date seemed hideous and old fashion. There are no words to describe hanging out with someone you like. Language is ridiculous when you feel like this. Words make a mess, don’t they? The feelings were indescribable. Free and special and beautiful and alive and in pre sex, sexual energy. Here now! Let out of the cage of childhood, wild in the streets, autonomous, delirious, perfect and flawless. Alive and free.

As a little girl I would hold hands with my cousin and spin around and around in circles until we both got dizzy and fell on the floor laughing. That feeling. As a baby, when you get to run and laugh and fall just because you just learned how. That feeling. Do those events have specific names? No. Definitions aim to contain the experience, but some experiences are uncontainable.

We were in the West Village just walking around. It was dark out. We were looking in windows and drinking a beer out of a paper bag. I had on black bondage pants, white hightop pro keds and a leather mc jacket like the Ramones wore. A few months earlier my cousins and I had seen them in Creem magazine and called them the Ramonos. Ramone-Os. Where we got the extra “O” from I do not know. They were that new. No one had ever said that word to me before. I discovered them. Now I was one of them, in attitude anyway. My hair was ironed pin straight and spiky on top, like Joan Jett. I too did not care about my bad reputation, and I aint gonna change! I did not need to because there was a place out there in this fucked up world that I fit in, place where other people were as free in spirit and they opened the door for me to come in. This new world was brilliant. I walked around in it like it was mine and I felt the joy of life.

Then, you know how someone can get mad at you and you have no idea what just happened? Well that happened. The guy bought me a single red rose and handed it to me. He was just doing something he thought was nice or he thought I would like, or he thought he should do and that fucking ruined my night. First of all I did not want ANY confinement. I did not want to have to hold something, that is what pockets are for. My hands needed to be as free as I was. Now the magical energy was getting bottled up because it could not flow properly. Everything was off kilter. Danm it!

But more than the physical confinement, I felt a metaphysical one. I did not want to have a leash on, or a sign that I was claimed or a ring or a thing, or a rose. Yuck. Did this guy know who I was? Did he see me? Would a Ramone ever be caught dead holding a lame unopened red rose from a deli? Would Joan Jett? Seriously?

His little well meaning gesture wrecked my night. My teenage brain was thriving in the zone and then got sucker punched, slammed by some imperfection right outta left field. Ouch. I could not fix it. Feelings are big and teenage brains work in mysterious ways. The night ended with me watching him in a bloody fight in Washington Square Park. He was the one drawing the blood. Ah youth and male hormones. I tossed the rose in a trash can on the way back to the car.

I love you teenage Holly.


Friday, June 1, 2012

What is great about L.A?

Bottega Louie’s high ceilings, brilliant food and Parisian macaroons! The sea is so close, day trips and weekend trips to: Solvang with the kiddie! Yosemite! The desert, one of my fav places. The Living Dessert Zoo, near palm springs for the kiddie. Redwoods! Humming birds everywhere. Pools! Running through the sprinklers! Endless blue sky! Sunshine, which I never tire of, despite how much I LOVE the rain. I am addicted to the sun. I miss it after two days of grey. The smell of flowers everywhere, night blooming jasmine and all those other scents, peppery, smoky sweet and earthy. Having a car. Forced to learn to drive. Dancing at Afro Beat with friends. Summer clothes from India for the kiddie and for me. Neutra architecture abounding. mid century modern all around. Clifton’s cafeteria downtown. The integritron. Magical thinking. Agape. The observatory. Watts towers. Fountains. My husband, cat and daughter and our apartment. California living wih a California cat and a California baby! Crazy!


you can get it if you really want...

I am into practicing how to do emotional alchemy, changing one feeling into another. I am not talking about faking it, glossing over the truth, loving everyone in a superficial way, or “forgiving” solely because of a religious tenet. Those can be useful practices, but I am more concerned with going deep, being honest, feeling the feelings and then transmuting those deep strong feelings.

Sometimes it feels impossible to move the boulder of judgment (fear, rage, whatever it is), but it is not. Feel it first, give it voice. Then, keep trying to transform it, let it go, move past it, ask for the willingness, pray for the target, feel it and then try to go deeper into compassion for yourself and the target. Talk about it if you can, get a witness, get support. Move through the shit. (remember Winston Churchill said ‘if you are going through hell, keep going). There is an end. Urg!

It is a practice, like yoga, meditation, just keep coming back to it, try your best, and then the impossible happens and it shifts, slips away, turns into something else: freedom.

Today I ran into someone who I had not seen in over 2 years. She was around when I was going through, in vitro, miscarriage, the tedious pre-adoption process. She knows I have a two year old now. She saw me and said:

“I tell everyone, ‘eventually you will get what you want’ and I think of you. You are my inspiration.”

Wow. I got what I wanted after trying for years? Yep.

It is true, you will get it, get there. You, dear reader, will get that thing that you want. It may look different than you imagined. Stay open. Enjoy the ride.