Inside Out

Yesterday a friend shared with me three questions Norman Fischer asked her Sangha to discuss in small groups on Zoom.

  1. What is the difference between inner and outer life?
  2. If there is a difference for you, what does the difference feel like?
  3. Again, if so, what would it be like to bring the two together?

I’m with these questions.  Considering them, I become porous, and there is no difference between in and out.  I think of the Pixar movie Inside Out.  How much of what we see and interpret comes from inside, not out?

This morning lying in bed I listened to birds as they chirped the morning to light.  I felt my skin touching in and reaching out, receiving and negotiating like an airport controller leading planes to land and take off.  

I visualized myself as an airport, wondering if planes have attachment to their hub, if they prefer gathering with other planes painted like them, or enjoy the diversity of different colors and patterns on planes.  Of course, planes aren’t “human”, and yet, what is this world in which we immerse?  What is our response to different colors and shapes?

Today I learn that on the International Space Station, experiments are being conducted with a fifth state of matter.  We know about gases, liquids, solids, and plasmas, but in a lab, 25 years ago, scientists created a fifth state of matter, Bose-Einstein Condensates.

According to LiveScience, “when a group of atoms is cooled to near absolute zero, the atoms begin to clump together, behaving as if they were one big “super-atom.””  This way to explore the quantum world is more easily explored in the microgravity environment aboard the ISS.  

What an exciting addition to all that’s happening here on earth.  

The Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky said that “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”   Clearly, we in the U.S. have a long way to go, and yet, I’m inspired by Wendell Berry.

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do

we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go

we have come to our real journey.

– Wendell Berry

We’re in this together my friends as we welcome new ways of understanding and coming together as this fifth state of matter is explored.

Morning Sky – the moon is there too –

On the ridge

What Is Love?

Windows are open and I wake to a symphony of singing birds.  The moon is a light in the softness of the morning blue sky, a beacon demonstrating change.

I’m with the sharing of a friend who went to a rally in Amherst, Massachusetts.  He writes: 

Towards the end, we were asked to take a knee and stay in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in memory of George Floyd. This is how long the policeman pressed his knee onto his neck until George died. About 1,500 people or so were completely silent for that time. Ann and I have been sitting for 8 minutes and 46 seconds twice daily since and we plan to do so in the coming days and weeks.

I can’t stop thinking about those 8 minutes and 46 seconds.  That’s a long time.

I see how important it is for each of us to honor that amount of time each day, as we imagine what it was for George Floyd and as we give thanks for this flow of breath in and out, this beautiful exchange.

Here’s a beautiful essay to answer the question What Is Love?

Click below:

In this moment my favorite response to the question is this:

“Being met with a dustpan when you’re holding a broom.”

Morning Moon

Bud to Flower – opening when it’s time

Sensory Awareness

I came to Sensory Awareness in 1993 and for me, it’s been a lifeline, a lifeline of fluidity and connection.

Here’s a beautiful offering and taste.

Find a comfortable place to watch and participate as Stefan leads us From Isolation to Connection.

Empathy

Two weeks ago, Monday, May 25th, George Floyd was murdered by a police officer.  Two others restrained him, and a fourth kept help away.

This incident, unlike so many, has ignited protests and forced those of us who are White to look at our privilege. 

Here in the U.S. I may have taken my privilege for granted but when I was in Nepal in 1993, it was moment by moment clear.  The color of my skin set me apart, elevated me, protected me.  When I was in the mountains in the Everest region,  I was allowed into places the local Native people were not.  I was “special”.  I hope that’s changed.  

When my children were young, I was a Terwilliger Nature Guide, trained to spot snakes and plants, and shout out just like her, “Something Special”, and yet, of course, everything is special.  A weed is a plant growing where someone chooses not to want it.  We now know the nutritional value of dandelions.  Many always did.  

Yesterday I was guided into my body to feel what’s going on for me.  At first, I felt my jaw drop down into a pouch like a pelican pouch.  Putting my thoughts there, monkey mind, I could feel the draining out of excess like water, but also how thoughts could be digested, used as needed, and eliminated as purely waste which most are.

Now, the murder of a man on the street is asking us, requiring us, to pay attention.  We’re noticing our responses, habits, thoughts.  Difficult as this time has been, I am awake.  I wake in the morning, alert, feeling myself 360 degrees around like a tree.  There is no front and back, no separation.  I’m immersed in a world that asks me to be awake to it, to shine a light on my shadow and examine how I am in this world, my relationship to where I live and how I connect, listen, and receive, so I can be clear in how I give.

What I felt yesterday when I paused to feel is that I’m bruised inside.  This is trauma for all of us as we come together to heal wounds visible and invisible. This is no attempt to compare wounds, or how each of us bleeds, but simply to say my current mantra is Thich Nhat Hanh’s poem, “Please Call Me by My True Names”.  It carries the compassion needed to heal our times.

Our Healing Journey

At the age of 28, my friend Elaine was the whistleblower on the many years of sexual abuse of young men by the minister of Cameron House in Chinatown, San Francisco, Dick Wichman.

This is a beautiful tribute and guide to healing a community, a community of those who were victims, then, survivors, and now thrivers, and those who were and are affected in their love and care for them.

Watch the video on the website in tears and listen, as that is what is asked of us, to listen to the stories of those who were abused, to literally see with new and clear eyes.

Abuse of one is abuse of us all, and many in this community were abused, and come together now in courage, communion, and connection to share their stories and heal.

https://www.ourhealingjourney.org/?fbclid=IwAR0tGXMjGn1aOI-y_JXY07xIIE2XEJyQq8C59IoZxD1e937OvV6dgpa3puc

Peace

This morning to shake off the news of recent days I drove to Rodeo Beach but then didn’t feel up for ocean waves so paused at the lagoon and sat quietly hoping to see otters.  I saw a gathering of gulls splashing away, and a duck gliding by.

Children passed by guided on nature trips but mainly it was quiet as I watched the change in light and waves.

The words of this poem by Wendell Berry came to me.  

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Ease

Reflecting

Day 47: Sacred Time

This morning I wake aware of my sacrum, the triangular bone at the base of the spine.

I wiggle around, rippling the muscles that hold it, imagining breath moving through the sacrum like butterfly wings lifting the bow of my lungs.

Perhaps this desire for movement is because I spent time with a gopher snake yesterday as it crossed the path I was on.  I wanted to ensure it made it all the way across so I enjoyed its sinuous movement and the constant flicking of its tongue as it tasted its way to the other side and slipped into the grasses to camouflage, food, and safety.

It’s the 47th day since my brother passed.  I feel him here, as though his essence is sprinkling down and through me like flakes of gold.  I feel caught in balancing like a bird flying into the wind, caught on receiving a horizon moving in and out of time and space.  

Friend Gopher Snake traversing what may be his or her view of climbing Everest

Day 28: From the Well

I wake and feel myself sifted in layers like cremated ash.

I look out at my Japanese garden.  Two crows rest there.

Today the grief for my brother’s passing is spread throughout me like mulch.  I receive the transformed elements of grief, joy, memories, peace.

Yesterday was a volatile day.  I’m on edge, quick to react with not the bliss I intend.  Frustration is a knife cutting my day into fragments, and maybe that’s okay.  My friend Elaine points out that the well is deep and complex. I consider that as I stand below and look up at stones and moss. Maybe some days I can’t climb up to the light because of the slipperiness of wet moss.

I also say to Elaine that my son Jeff has been my knight in shining armor. She points out that a knight needs a damsel in distress. Ah, yes, and so I have been.

I’m with the cover of my book Airing Out the Fairy Tale which I’m gratified to learn that people love.  I believe it took two months to come up with the image for that cover. I would talk to Patrick and explain what the trip to Nepal meant to me, what it is to go through menopause and midlife crisis.  He, a male, reached to understand and created image after image. We both related to the ones with fire, but when it came to the cover we wanted the mountain, Ama Dablam, mother and son, a sister to Everest, and a woman on a suspension bridge with the wings of birds.

You can check out Patrick at: http://www.jpliphotography.com

You can order Airing Out the Fairy Tale: Trekking through Nepal & Midlife on Amazon or ask your local book store to order it for you. It is an offering to the celebration that is life. It also honors those who’ve passed circling around Mount Everest as they travel on. Life is rich with blessings, balanced on the cultivation of peace, trust, request, reception and ease.

A section of my garden
The image for the cover of the book before the words
Stones from the garden offer stillness and lift

Day 22: Love and Beauty

The memorial for my brother was beautiful and loving. I couldn’t imagine anything more. I wake, rested and grateful. We’ll scatter his ashes today in soft rain.

Out of the blue, my brother began painting. He and another family spent time on Nantucket each summer. Once, leaving on the ferry, a photograph was taken of the lighthouse. Gar painted it and gave it as a birthday present to his friend who brought it to the “celebration” of his life. Gar’s friend then shared a photograph he’d taken when the light hit the lighthouse in the painting making it shine.

My brother is here in all of us, grace, love, laughter, joy, and trust. We laughed and cried, cried and laughed and I feel my brother beautifully celebrated, honored, and allowed to be here as well as exploring new places.

May the lighthouse in each of us shine and receive.

Send and receive light
Honor the slant we climb, the island and waves, the passage we guide

Day 20: Raw

The day has been full, that raw edge of laughter held in sorrow, the vein of gold within the pain. I try to sleep now, feeling like a box of pick-up sticks dropped on the floor. I need to pick up the pieces and put them back together again. There is pain that pierces, and there is gathering. Perhaps it is that gathering of love that allows the full feeling and expression of pain.

I keep saying to myself the words of John Squadra. “When you love, you complete a circle. When you die, the circle remains.” We are a circle gathered as though around a campfire and campfires warm and before they go out, the embers are hot, the flame within the dark.

Tomorrow, well, really today, as I see it’s 1:00 in the morning of a new day, we will celebrate a life, one life, all lives, joy, laughter, tears, pain.