27 January 2011

Look at Me

Something has moved like a furtive shadow through the underbrush of my psyche all day. As the hours wound out, from time to time, an agitated, momentary rustling of leaves at the side of the road would startle me, but I pressed on. Then, as the sun sinks, quick and surprising, I know what it is.

It is anger.

And I am suppressing it. It has lived in me today as something I fear. Something I would neither release nor face. Something in the underbrush....that might bite me or break my neck... I don't want to know what it is I chanted subconsciously all day.

After suppressing this anger for about two weeks, only today, right now, am I admitting it. And admitting the exhaustion. And admitting the ouch hot prickly sting pain of it in my chest.

There's no urge to scream or flail or break something.

Just spiritual pain

and also relief, in this moment, that I can finally see what it is.

Is it more than coincidence that I received the insight while playing my guitar and singing...for the first time in two weeks? The music felt like massage to my soul, releasing tension and warming cold places in me.

The words--"I am angry"--are never true. Anger is an emotion. I feel emotions but I am more than emotions. Anger is not my nature. Not my essence.

I was afraid to look at the thing in the underbrush today because I was afraid that I might see my own face. I thought that I "was" angry. It was a question of identity. No wonder I couldn't/didn't want to/was afraid to let it go.

How ironic: one of my assignments with SpotLife this week is an exercise done standing before a mirror and speaking the words "Look at me...."

14 January 2011

The Sweet Taste of ... Cake

I want cake.

The craving began as a notion a few months ago. I was in Whole Foods Market and noticed the gorgeous pastry decorations in the bakery display case. The sight provoked a little fantasy about having my own place and serving pretty cake at a dinner party.

I walked on by -- without making a purchase --
and thought about the cakes a couple of times in the days that followed.

Leading up to Thanksgiving, cake sightings and sniffings increased. There was a lot of baking going on in my neck of the woods. I resisted taking a bite of everything that appealed or was offered to me. For the first time in my life, I am exercising restraint around food.

While living in New Orleans, I gained about 20 pounds. And loved every minute of the increase. The food was delicious and consumption was usually accomplished in the company of friends with ample laughter and libation in the mix.

And I don't remember feeling overweight or unattractive once. In fact, it's magical how cute and desirable I felt much of the time, despite my expanding butt.

In California, I don't feel so attractive. California occurs for me as a place where my cake-eating, cigarette-smoking, plain-speaking, lunch-time-champagne-drinking, big butt ways make me either unattractive or invisible to the "the beautiful people."

Anyway, I'm getting all this straightened out for myself today: I want some cake.

I resisted cake through the holidays. I resisted cake on my birthday.

Cake comes to mind and mouth every time I'm at the market these days. Why can't I have some cake please, my precious inner child asks me with polite earnestness.

Because it's spiritual sloth to have everything I want, every time I want it.

Because my butt is too big.

Because I'm single and if I make or buy a cake, I'll end up eating most of it myself and that's just...disgraceful.

Because I don't eat enough vegetables to deserve dessert.

But here's the thing: craving is turning into obsession now. I dream of cake and wake up thinking of cake. I notice cake references in TV shows and movies. Sometimes I feel a little sad because what kind of life is this, living in a house without cake?

Here's what I've decided:

I will allow myself to have cake


I make it myself and either freeze or give away half of it.

Now, what kind shall I make?

04 January 2011

The Land of Presence and Possibility

From an email written to B______:

My holiday in Portland draws to an end. ... I've been so cold for so many consecutive days I now feel a humility and resignation akin to an inmate at a concentration camp... On the plus side, creative work time has been surprisingly productive. ...

Creative activity....I'm newly amazed by the mysterious, generous, transcendent, profound experience of making art. It involves surrender, among other things. Surrendering my neuroses and predilections and biases and self-loathing. Surrendering my slippery little cop-outs and urges to indulge in empty distractions.

Facing the undeniable truth of my mortality--another birthday, new aches in the body--and witnessing me (and my old dog colleagues) pursuing the same fruitless routines... Enough enough enough! Do I want to get "this" done before I die or not? This music will only be made if I make it...so I've gotten busy these last weeks and I'm astounded. Like getting a glimpse behind the store-house doors where vast treasures of beauty and mystery lie.
For several days, there has seemed to be nothing else to do but make the art. If I had "my own" place or a lover or a car...if I had warm-enough clothes or some friends in town or a good book.... If I had any of these, they might serve as excuse or permission to not make the art. In the absence of all of them, I had only Time and my guitar. And I got to work.

At moments, I actually felt trapped; like I had no choice; like the only thing possible in that precious granted moment of breath was to offer myself in service to the music that wanted to be sung. Like the only alternatives were death or madness.

The song was the only thing in the Universe for me in that moment.


This is a strange experience. Freeing and frightening and new. It's a space where there's just God and me reflecting each other infinitely. Familiar self-throttling thoughts like What am I doing here? I'm....I'm not....I crumble like plaster balloons and blow away.

There's no pressure. Just a profound sense of presence and possibility.

Today I see it as my next site for sojourn. The Land of Presence and Possibility. Learning to speak the languages and hold the silences of that land.