31 December 2010

Abundance in Nothing

I have missed my friend.

En route to CA I began receiving reports of his meth addiction from mutual friends who hoped I could "do something." But, given the circumstances surrounding our last contact and what little I understood about addiction generally and meth addiction specifically, I was less than hopeful. My parting words, delivered in a letter written in CO after a frustrated year of either unanswered phone and email messages or verbose, self-absorbed rants on the rare occasion we were in contact, left the ball in his court. "I'll be here forever because that's what I promised when we met but it's your turn to reach for me."

Strong words. A mask for my broken heart.

Five years later, post-Landmark Education, I recognize the "inauthenticity" of my letter. It was authentic to let him see my heart; it was inauthentic to blame him for the pain I was feeling.

In the nine months since I returned to CA, we've had two or three opportunities to sit together when I was in SF for other business. The physical proximity granted a semblance of re-connection but the heart-to-heart connection felt tenuous and and fragile.

He had not responded to several email and voice-mail messages left since Thanksgiving when I decided earlier this week to call him one more time. We played text-and-phone tag for a couple of hours yesterday, finally connecting this morning when he called me a little after 9.

I was still in bed when the phone rang. [Talking on the phone in bed is one of my favorite most luscious indulgences.] We spent an hour together. There were periods of silence. I didn't need to make him wrong. I didn't feel sorry for him. I didn't need to figure anything out or save him. I didn't need answers. I didn't have any advice. I wasn't nostalgic.

I didn't feel happy or relieved or hopeful or nervous or afraid.

I was just on the phone
with another human
in a world where it can be difficult to just "be" -- with myself or anyone else.

27 December 2010

Gradual Clearing

In this post-Landmark period, one week after my last direct exposure in the Advanced Course, I am sorting through what I "got" and attempting to de-clutter my head.

It's tricky: in any given moment, I recognize I'm using the tools of Landmark to de-clutter my thinking about Landmark. Very odd sensation...

One of the less slippery items, unequivocally identified as problematic, has to do with integrity. A lot of talk about integrity in Landmark....the phrase "you're only as good as your word" is passionately repeated. And yet, better than half of my interactions with Landmark staff and graduates, lack the integrity of "being true to your word."

Given the dominance of logic and justice as "personal tests" in my world view, witnessing inconsistency of action with word within the kingdom of Landmark is remarkable and troubling.

But it's not the lack of follow-through that bothers me most; more troubling than this, is the hypocrisy of holding this principle so close to the core of the teaching, repeating it to student/participants frequently and taking them to task when they stray from it, and creating an atmosphere that makes it difficult for leaders to be taken to task for similar infractions.

We all make mistakes. We all break promises. Acknowledgment and apology reduce potential stress, disappointment and inconvenience. I don't even mind being called out when I screw up -- but outside the framework of a reciprocal, mutual responsibility, it feels unfair and abusive. If integrity is important for the student, I think it's also important for the teacher.

The technology of Landmark Education has changed my life, modifying the architecture of my thinking in deep ways. It will take some time to sort the wheat from the chaff. And it feels like a necessary evaluation and elimination process -- there's definitely treasure for keeping and it would be tragic to let my displeasure with some features lead me to trash the entire thing.

It feels a little like teaching myself to talk.

16 December 2010

Event Horizon

What a time!

Tomorrow is my birthday. It's not a big deal this year .... except the idea of "quitting" (smoking)(again) persists...

I want to write the last of the three new songs I promised in the Landmark Effectiveness Seminar. I attended the last session on Monday and am very happy to be done with that ... experience.

Standing on the deck (at Barb and Pete's vineyard estate) this morning, some sort of insight or awareness about myself arrived: I finally acknowledged the "undies in a bundle" energy I've been carrying for a few weeks about Landmark Education. Not enough to wrinkle my brow or clench my teeth but extant nonetheless.

When the insight dawned today, it cracked me up.

The text for the last (next) song will be from Rilke. Here are the ones I'm considering:

Each mind fabricates itself.
We sense its limits, for we have made them.
And just when we would flee them, you come
and make of yourself an offering.

I don't want to think a place for you.
Speak to me from everywhere.
Your Gospel can be comprehended
without looking for its source.

When I go toward you
it is with my whole life.

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

[both from Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy]

Whichever text is chosen, I will write for piano and voice this time rather than guitar.

On Monday, instead of attending the final session of the Landmark Effectiveness Seminar, I will board a train bound for Oregon. My excitement and delight are boundless.

Creative focus throughout the journey will be fulfillment of my intention to be "visible in the world as a committed working artist and arts educator." Specifically, I'll spend my time a) polishing the new songs, b) writing my show, and c) mapping the next 12 months of my life/career.