feeling bad about yourself is an ego trip & a waste of time
~ bett williams "the wrestling party"
(Arabesque, video by Mary Lucier, 2004)
Stop reading right here if you are getting bored with my endless quasi, if not downright erotic, wild animal lover dreams, cause here we go again.
I mean, I get it. I totally glaze over when I hear "Last night in my dream . . " Not that I don't appreciate the absolute mystery of the dreamtime, who doesn't? But the endless searching for meaning in the unknown, the seeking the counsel of others to find the hidden treasure, usually ends up in minuitae that just doesn't translate to the even your most intimate of listeners.
Taking that into consideration, I will do my best to get right to the point. Maybe.
I have been extraordinarily well behaved in the face of love this year, not that love is necessarily the place you want to be well behaved. I, however, have been exceptionally poorly behaved in love for most of my loving career, so it bares mentioning. Well behaved means, in my case, pretty much not participating in romantic love at all. Not as a punishment, just to do a little housekeeping.
It's almost all romance to me anyway . . . I love love love to see people, up really close. I love to really look into someone's eyes. That said, I have not stepped out of my luscious solitude for almost 16 months now. I feel so clear & still & at the core of me I have uncovered a tiny keyhole, the perfect fitting for my twin flame. As much of a lover as I have considered myself, I never really noticed that perfect place before.
Someone/something is coming & it has to do with the wild animals.
Two nights ago, I had another intensely lucid dream about a feral, mythical lover: this one was half man, half bull. I thought I knew him. He was very, very familiar In the last days, he has morphed into many men in my life, not quite fitting any of them. Stunning though, all the way through. I was magnetized to him in that true way that you wait for your whole life. In the dream we had just met & were casually sitting next to each other, as casual as you can be with a mythical creature, laying in the grass, waiting for something to begin. He was wearing a cowboy hat. As he leaned into me, I naturally ducked under the brim of his hat to kiss him. One thing led to another & it went on & on & on ~ no need for the (perhaps) boring details . . . it was a dream in real time, slowed way down, I stretched out in the luciousness of it, no worries about waking up, ever. I do remember, at some point in the meshing of our twin souls, having a mometary concern on the actual logistics of woman & bull in full-on physical love, but, thank goodness, that worry was gone in a heartbeat.
I have always dreamt of wild animals and the story is always the same. I have the responsibility/honor of housing a truly wild animal, something big & far beyond my capacity to control with my physical strength, usually a big cat, almost without fail a tiger. In these dreams, I have a very tenuous relationship with the feral creature, which means IF I pay attention & allow my energies to mesh with the creature, then they will both stay close to me AND not hurt anyone else. It is never clear what will happen if I stop paying attention but I do obsess over harm to other people, people wandering, even half asleep, in the predictability of their everyday lives & unexpectedly running into across a ferocious feline, hungry & disoriented.
The other day Amalia & I stayed too long at the beach. Two Mediterannean girls on the first really gorgeous day of summer, we laid close to the waves & alternately slept & gossiped & read fashion magazines & snacked. It was way too late when we started to feel the burn, but being the gypsy beings we are, we enjoyed the refugee feeling of straggling home on the subway, sandy & a little forlorn.
Night fell in Red Hook & we pulled the futon out into the middle of the loft, lit candles, made a little avocado & tomato salad with some popcorn & settled back to watch VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA on iTunes . . The Love Artist (of course) fell asleep immediately, or at least an half hour after drooling over Javier Bardem's droopy eyes & Penelope Cruz's gorgeous screaming & ranting . .
I began to dream, a loopy lucid dream that involved a very emotionally present gorilla. Now, I have never dreamt or even briefly fantasized about a gorilla, they are not in my repetoire. But the scenario was familiar: a huge, powerful & potentially dangerous creature left in my care. In my dream (as in real life) I was so so so tired, I could barely keep my eyes open. But how to care for my ward while I slept?
I had the idea (as many mothers have had) that if we fell asleep together, perhaps this would sooth my wild animal & keep him close to me. I took him in my arms & laid his head against my chest. LET ME REMIND YOU OF THIS: the dream was so real which means the gorilla was BIG, SMELLY, HAIRY. Big like bigger than me. I could telepathically feel how happy the gorilla was. This is what he wanted. It was extraordinarily deep, his contentment, his serenity went to the core of the earth & certainly to the core of my being. I felt him letting go, surrendering to sleep. I felt him in love with me.
As this slumber process happened, he became heavier & heavier in his letting go. I was becoming one with him and then I panicked. Too much: too much hair, too much gorilla, too much . . . love . . . .
I woke him & tried to get him to sleep on the floor. He kept climbing back into the bed. He became full of despair. He became frustrated, angry. Suddenly I was in danger.
As is the case with lucid dreaming, wakefulness was so close. I could barely see Amalia sitting at the computer in the dark next to me. I was dreaming & telling her of the dream at the same time. I snapped the dream & woke up & stared out into a thunderstorm.
I have a hard time with dusk, unless it is summer, which of course then it becomes one of my favorite times.
I had no choice in being led out onto the hill in the early evening for my vision quest. My prayer for this ceremony was to release fear in much of the same epiphany I had been able to find before, releasing many things precious to me that no longer worked. It was clear that a certain kind of fear was no longer necessary, not an option. I could ask for help to leave this addictive substance, the terror of being alone, behind moment by moment, day by day, just as I had asked for and received help with the other sticky, emotional parts of my life. When I was left alone, by my sleeping bag, to lay raw on the ground in the growing dark, I took a deep breath and climbed in. I laid on my back for a while and stared at the stars. Fortunately I hadn’t sleep much the night before, so I was incredibly tired. I fell asleep easily.
I woke up later, just before the rain came, and looked into the stars again. I was still on my back. I hadn’t moved. I was caught unawares by own softness and surrender. Before I could complain or shudder at the immensity of my pledge, I breathed the night deeply into my lungs. There was a sound all around me, deeper than a rumble, almost like the OMMMMM that I was so familiar with but even deeper, beyond alliteration, beyond forming. I was a child without fear and I felt a loving presence This was the beginning of my vision. “She is here,” I heard the night say to the other spirits hanging their faces over me.
I cried on the path back to the fire in a way I have not cried in ceremony before.
Thank you Creator, thank you my brothers and sisters, for letting me walk in these ways.
There is nothing like the feeling of when they come to retrieve you from your vision quest. Since you can’t tell what time it is exactly, as you are left literally to your own devices, you must look at the sky and try to remember what time the sun comes up, then try and remember approximately when it is that the sun goes down and divide those hours by the arc of the sky, so that you can estimate the middle of the day. This is a good guess, your own private sundial. Then you must interpret when it is that you think they might come for you, the people who brought you out here, who “put you up on the hill.” Usually there has been some kind of hint but, but on the 5th day without food and water, it is often hard to remember. It is not that your guides are trying to hide anything from you, or that part of the vision retrieval is that you must be punished into an utter loss of control.
Your sponsors, friends and family are there to help you. They, the ones who are praying for you, the ones who are back at base camp eating for you, they are there with your best intentions at heart, they are thinking about you all the time. It is just that the world you are living in once you surrender to the elements, once you enter the spirit world and become truly wankan, is so completely removed from those who are caring for you ~ you could be continents, planets, away ~ that after this time distant from everything you know, everything that keeps you safe, you forget what it must be like to sleep inside, eat food, drink water. You do not know how they think, back there, at home. So you strain to remember, way back when, what exactly their words were when they left you out here.
I am hobbling back slowly from my vision quest. I know it was two weeks ago. It has just been so delicious to be at least semi-silent, padding around in my little house, inbetween some spectacular praying in the tipi, ooh la la, some spectacular rattling and singing & some spectacular turning-your -heart-inside-out-just-to-get-more-surface-area & some spectacular no-reason-to-say-no-to-love-EVER going on in the tipis & just in the everyday of being me (& in feeling like you are so very much me too, you all should be feeling pretty good too, by now).
The crazy thing about all of this is the flipside of feeling so connected & one with everything is that sometimes I don't feel so good, cause I get scared this feeling is going to go. I mean, be honest, have you ever broken up with someone that you really really loved, only so you wouldn't have to go through the pain of having them leave you? Be honest. Well, it is a little bit like that . . . I wake up sometimes in the morning, imagining how I would feel if I didn't feel connected to anything, if I didn't feel rooted in the chain of love . . if I just disappeared into the sea or night . . .
I can get myself all worked up into that. I have had my girls so close to me in the last weeks in the tipi, sitting right next to me (I mean who gets to do that? like all the time?) but then when it gets time to leave them and go home, I can get myself crazed in a heartbeat, that somehow, insanely, I am alone . . .
So yesterday I was looking out my kitchen window at the garden next door, which is where I have been praying lately, staring into the green & the flowers and I realized that if I really believed that I was never alone and if I really believed that I would be shown what my work was, on a daily basis, that I have been shown what my work is all along, then all I need to do is show up for that (joyfully would work) and do what needs to be done & be grateful, hmmm, well that makes everything quite simple & NO MORE THINKING REQUIRED, SO DON'T WASTE YOUR ENERGY
I looked down & realized that during this series of thoughts, this prayer, my right hand had opened flat on the window sill where before it had been clenched. I pressed down into the wood like something magic was in the center of my palm, hidden there all along.
I just want to tell you that I love you & that I want you to think of me in the next days.
Yesterday I was driving Nola home from a complicated and awe-inspiring afternoon communing with everything from star beings to singing blades of grass. Let's just say we learned a few new songs, songs that wrapped around your head & then took the elevator down a few levels & then up rapidly with a jolt, kind of like the elevator in INCEPTION, and then you thought you might have died and been reborn and then you realize it is still the same song. It was a day like that. Some things are hard to understand, never mind explain. But let us just say it was a very lucky, blessed day. Some hard work.
So anyway, I was driving her home & on the side of the road we see a huge hawk, laying there, perfect on the side of the road, regal, impeccable. I have picked up dead hawks before but they were always pretty far gone & tiny. This bird was a king or a queen and I could still feel the life force in him, in my hands and all around me, although h/she was clearly dead. I fell to my knees so overwhelmed by the magnitude of this energy field swarming around both of us. It was so humbling. It reminded me of several other moments in the last few months, where I attempted to look into immensity, or was called to look into it. It made me feel like I am being pulled through a sieve, the possiblity of an enormous, faster than the speed of light, system upgrade on a cellular level, that hurts in all of my bones, like moving through a tesseract, breaking down to the infinite & being reformed.
I am aware that many of you will not understand what I am talking about.
I was told recently at dinner, to stop talking about "the shift" please.
I have so much to tell you about & I will.
I am about to leave in a minute for my third vision quest. 4 days in the woods alone. Character building. I have that falling in love amnesia about this kind of high stamina, scary business. I think it is going to be so much fun, til the night before, laying in my bed, with the heat on, hearing the raindrops on the skylight.
I've been up since 2 am.
This is me two years ago on my first vision quest.
(vision quest 2009)
I have no idea what I was singing, since at that time, I was afraid to sing. I had no voice in prayer. Now you can't stop me. This is why it is worth it to go out into the woods and not eat or drink water & sit up all night in the dark and pray. You find yourself and then you find yourself some more. It's crazy that I'm scared this time (& I am really scared). I am so much stronger than when I started, but I think more I grow up, the more real I get, the more I look into immensity . . okay maybe it is just humility, but it still puts my heart, not in my throat but my mouth, no more like right behind my eyeballs.
I don't know if it is a good thing that I had completely tuned out that the royal wedding was going to take place this morning, I mean I knew it was happening at some point and I've seen some cheeky/sexy outfits on Kate in the past months, but I didn't have any idea that the world was waking to that long slow horse and buggy ride, sitting on the edge of their seats, not til I turned on my computer.
My live stream was so tortuously slow so I got bored but I do remember a more exciting wedding (for me), back in the punk days in Boston, oh I can't even say, back when I was a teenager when Dini and I woke up before dawn to dress in coveralls and carry plastic machine guns to crash this posh royal wedding brunch we knew about in the South End. Dini was a rock star and I had a great hair cut and I think they were a little afraid NOT to let us in, but once they did, we were not afraid to drink loads of champagne and wreak havoc and give everybody a some real GOD SAVE THE QUEEN, turning over tables, tying people to chairs, and even duck taping a few moustaches. The hostess tried to play it cool and take credit for the whole conceptual madness, so it didn't go as well as we would have liked but still, it was more fun remembering than watching the lurching Ustream this morning.
Too rainy at the moment to go out and scan some punk pix, they're coming, promise.
(from The School of Invisible Arts)
There is a sinking down inside the body that enables us to open the door to creativity. There is information inside of us that is trying to speak. Essentially there are always two things happening simultaneously: one, we are experiencing and two, we are remembering.
This is how we make sense of what we are experiencing: we remember something and this something creates order of what we are experiencing.
The problem with memory is that sometimes it "corrects" experience so that we feel safe. It creates order where perhaps there is none. Sometimes it creates a lack of safety when there is actually nothing to fear.
The problems with memory in regards to creativity are legion and yet it is still so essential. It is what makes us who we are. The way to deal with memory in a way that thickens who we are, in a way that makes us more substantial and more textured without killing the immediacy of our experience is by utilizing what Buddhists' call detachment.
This detachment is also an important component of one of the most important tenets of The True Love Project: equal value ~ everything (and everyone for that matter) of equal value, everything essential, no over-valuing good or beautiful or light or happiness over bad or ugly or dark or sadness.
If there is detachment in regards to memory then experience can filter in at its proper pace instead of being compressed and altered by the past.
Use the example of preparing food. You begin to cut the tomato and you are struck by the intensity of the red, the feeling of the skin of the fruit giving way under your fingers, the sight of the seeds spilling out under the cut of the knife. This is all experiential, sensory information arriving fresh to your being. It could be anything in front of you. You do not have to have prior information in order to appreciate the beauty there.
However you have a recipe in mind. You are preparing salsa. Perhaps this is something you have prepared before or maybe you are following a recipe. You need to search inside of you for this information or you need to read out of a book (an action that activates memory). This reading interrupts the inward, direct flow of experience of the tomato.
This inward searching in and of itself is not a problem for creativity. Memory is a huge treasure box of inspiration, pungent with imagery, emotional fragrance, narrative and abstract content.
The problem is the speed of memory; how quickly we reach for the known, the proof, the defined. This where the need for detachment comes in. Because of the intensity of memory – memory (at least the memory that sticks with us, thankfully there are the memories that wither and fall away over time) has a tendency to ferment in our consciousness – the sad becomes sadder, the beautiful & tragic become more beautiful and more tragic.
Memory is concentrated stuff. It only takes a tiny bit to color one’s entire present reality.
Another interruption of memory on creativity is the phenomenon of the trigger. Although a trigger does not always activate memory, we are such porous beings and our brains have such a huge capacity for storage, we don't always have an accurate method of storage and retrieval. Memories are often hidden away deep within us. We don't remember them until something sneaks up on us. They don't call it a trigger for nothing . . . a slight experiential, sensual moment can open the floodgates of emotion, your whole experience can turn on a dime and you are suddenly and completely in the past . . .
We are not discouraging memory, as a matter of fact we are encouraging it. What we are encouraging here is a mastery of the memory field -- mastery not subjugation. Think of your memory in two ways (for now): like a wild horse & like a small child. For simplicity's purposes, this is the combination of techniques I am asking you to use: a sweet calling forward and a steady gaze, a delicate but authoritative tether, a firm belief in the path and a respect for wandering, a lack of judgment on trauma, intense experience and boredom.
I want you to call memory forward courageously but do not be surprised by the extreme wild approach. Keep eye contact. Your feet are open and relaxed to the earth. You can be touched but not moved from this connection. You are the master but you are so in love with experience that everything is cherished and you realize by this inclusiveness that you are cherishing yourself and by cherishing yourself, you are calling your intuition forward and now your life can begin.
Lately I have been sleeping so hard and waking up not knowing where I am. I slip into this state fairly easily throughout the day: in the bathtub, after yoga, in the train. This morning, when I woke up, I was sitting in my kitchen, looking out the window at some tulips and a robin, just as the sun was coming up and I thought to myself, they could both be me. Later, after yoga, I laid down on the floor and I heard someone walking on the sidewalk, I heard the train, I heard a plane high above, I heard the birds in their nest under the eaves, I heard my neighbor making coffee, I heard the rain on the skylight and I thought, that could all be me, that is me, I am all of that.