Friday, July 23, 2010


Last Monday, I was in a hospital waiting room while my mother was having surgery on a damaged shoulder. She is ever more fragile, tough as she is, and I know many things about the rest of her life that I wish I didn't. So I was a little sad, a little anxious.

I was in good company, with all the other people waiting on news of their loved one. Good attitudes and optimism mingled with grumpy pessimism, sleepy children, nervous TV addicts and kind volunteers. I felt all of my weight in the chair, in the heart, in my day and my pathetic attempts at scheduling in my head; outside, the morning clouds wandered across windows and skybridges connecting different parts of the hospital. They were, of course, as concerned as I. And for just a minute, they rained an invisible, warm and liquid love down on me, on the rooms and the people and the thinking. I felt a total acceptance of myself-the-daughter, caregiver, child, observer, life-form, open-spaciousness contracting like a womb. It is always a novel sensation, to close the umbrella and include what I believe I am in a loving downpour!

I felt all my weight. Clouds, I heard, can weigh as much as a hundred elephants. They are much stronger than we imagine, holding our grief and joy while they touch everything so and gone, like the pulse on a screen.

Mom is feeling better. I am looking forward to some dancing this weekend, feeling my feet strike the resounding earth and throwing my hands in the sky. What else to do, but feel the human gravity, and that incredible lightness of Being?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Interdependence Day

July fourth, we citizens of the U.S.celebrate our independence from tyrannical rule. Uh-huh. And that, folks, is as political as I'm going to get in this post. :)

Ever since 1992, July fourth has been about my youngest son's birthday. I used to tell him, when he was small, that the fireworks were for him. They still are. He is a young man with a wonderful heart, at the traditional age of stepping into the unknown (and registering for the draft--ugh!). I wish I could offer him more security, this birthday, in the form of some tried-and-true way to "make it" in our consensus world. I can't. There is simply no way to whitewash the state of this nation and the exterior human "condition". The news out there is grim and angry. He knows this, knows there is no formula, no easy way into (or out of) any role.

Still, he is generous with his smile, his laugh, his future, his vision. He is fair and optimistic and curious. He has no idea what he will ultimately do with himself, and that's ok. He is going to be a good man, in a time when we desperately need good people.

My son has always been able to entertain himself, comfortable in his aloneness when it happens, comfortable with just being boy-of-the-moment. He has grown up with the concept of interdependence, and so accepts it as natural and obvious as his independence. He understands deeply that we are all connected, and that ultimately, every system and circumstance is, too. His thinking is based on network principles. His heart is based on permeable boundaries. His world is a very flexible place, lacking the rigidity that I was raised with.

I look at him, and think: Well, maybe--just maybe--humans will be alright. Maybe we are coming around, waking up on the surface, knowing no isolation...

However, I'm not content with dropping the mantle of responsibility for the fate of the world on the shoulders of my children. That responsibility rests with me--especially since "the world" is at least half my creation! I am speaking of the "storied" world, here--the thick layer of beginnings and endings, cause-and-effect, light and shadow. All of this is, by definition, interdependent. Nothing stands alone, ever. One can spend all day separating the wheat from the chaff to make bread--but every step in that process is dependent on the one before and after, and all the step-ers and step-ees, until there is no birth or death. To be aware of this is to be in balance--mortal and immortal all at once. Whole-wheat, whole-life, whole-being.

There exists no definite cusp between child and man or woman, or human and god, but our nature demands that we create and attend transition, make change, run gauntlets, quest visions. Whether we love or detest our stages, we make sure they are marked, somehow. In a healthy "village", we don't ignore stories--we tell them, to add to the collective wisdom. Transitions are noted both inside an individual and within the community. Someone may be ritually "kicked out" into the wilderness, but is welcomed back as a changed member of the tribe, bringing home valuable experience, personal and shared.

I look around and see a planet full of examples of sick villages, people stifled into psychotic behavior, people so lost that they banish not only each other, but themselves. I see people telling the same story compulsively and ceaselessly, not hearing or seeing the message and path within it, stuck in the spin cycle. I see humans terrified to reach out to each other or unable to spend a few hours alone, in contentment. I see a giant rocking taking place within our systems because of this imbalance, this lack of acknowledging our truth, our interdependence, our wholeness and health underneath. 

I also notice that there is always someone who nurtures the green sprig in a wasteland, the good people on the edge of some devastation, and the tentative joy in the wake of pain. There is always more than one. There is always an understanding, somewhere--an effort to get it out, to tell stories of wisdom, to honor emotion. The interdependent souls, families, tribes and communities exist. Celebrations and blessings, a balance between give and take, a reveling in and respect for both mortality and the vastness of the Only Moment There Is...they do exist!

It is the sensing, the knowing that pure spring below that keeps me sane and out of despair, able to tell my children that all is not lost. We all know it, because we are intimately wrapped in the heart of it, even when that heart appears to be in some kind of arrest!

While we mark our independence, let us also acknowledge our interdependence, and ultimately the love that carries all transition. Take a moment today to dance...if only on the inside! :)

Happy Birthday, Rylan!