I thought I had come to California looking for horses. That's what drew me out here; the wide open land given to these majestic creatures; throwbacks to a wilder and forgotten west. I swooned for their photos, I fell into them. The wildness that was still in these creatures, the neighing and bucking and kicking and running into the horizon, manes in the wind. Unbridled. Free. Charging mares, leading herds, tending foals. And perhaps I will still find them when that time is right.
But upon landing out here, I was taken by the water, foremost.
The Atlantic shores are beautiful, but for some reason, these waters...the Pacific...are different. The shores she touches. The stories she swallows, the secrets she holds. Oh, these waters hold so much. They have seen and felt so much. And in that, as a whole, as a body of water, a being in its own right... she is that much more calming. It's a powerful, cleansing presence. A deep healing. Not to mention the sheer majestic and aesthetic beauty of the area; it's no wonder writers and artists flock here over the decades. The vistas are unmatchable.
But Steinbeck. I was first hit as I toured Cannery Row, which is now a giant consumer-wonderland. Which is fine. I bought a souvenir or two, some t-shirts for my son. A refrigerator magnet. I'm a sucker for that stuff, within reason. My first day there, as I was walking up and down the streets, weary from a few hours in the car after leaving San Francisco, I snuck around back, behind a closed shop, to the boardwalk. Or pier, whichever. All the chairs were turned upside-down on the tables; this particular deck was empty.
I considered Steinbeck's writing, his growing up in Salinas, and his visits to this very bay and other points along the coast. And the man, the good friend Ed Ricketts, who inspired Doc. His trouble with marriage and relationships, in general. And the water! Oh, it's impressive. Overwhelming.
I had read a little bit about Steinbeck the night before, because someone in San Francisco mentioned that the area was great for writers, being that it's "Steinbeck-land." Now, of course, I knew who he was, I read Of Mice and Men in school. Grapes of Wrath. I did the assigned reading, but never delved fully into the man that he was: his motivations, his sorrows, his dreams.
As I toured the area and the Steinbeck exhibit in Salinas, and as I read more about the man... I felt such heartbreak. Disillusionment. Internal battle. Here was a man who saw great injustices and great stories and he had to get them out. He had to. And they were good stories with great themes. What I found heartbreaking, nearly tragic, was how his novel The Winter of Our Discontent was received and critiqued, as it won the Nobel Prize for Literature. But it was more than that.
John Steinbeck was a highly sensitive man, it would seem. A deep, mysterious, brooding, Piscean artist, who felt that the world was spinning off its rails, losing its morality. He saw the coming of the fifties and sixties and to him it was a breakdown in society and decent values. He felt things deeply. He felt his world crumbling and wanted to write about it. Fight it, perhaps. But at a minimum, provide a chronicle. He went out on the road with his dog, Charley, and wanted to revisit and recapture the America that he once knew, after spending time away, in New York and Long Island. he wanted to see real people, small towns, local bars, not the affluence and facade that he'd been living in.
"I nearly always write - just as I nearly always breathe..." - John Steinbeck
And later, when his novel was shunned so hard, despite praise from others, he put his pen down and never wrote another novel. And to feel that kind of pain and humiliation inside, is just heartbreaking to me. And I could feel how soothing those waters were, and must've been, to him. And to so many.
In reading Travels With Charley, just now, being that I was so taken with the man and his story and his need to see the country... I can't help but reach back and pull some lessons out...or some parallels, at a minimum. It's what I do.
Steinbeck came from a family of Republicans, and changed a bit when he saw more of the world and got out his his hometown. His perspectives on Life changed. When he'd returned home, arguments would ensue:
"Let's just be friendly and loving. No politics tonight." And ten minutes later we would be screaming at each other.
And so it was, and so it still is. Steinbeck knew he was nearing his last days. He felt his world deteriorating. I can't imagine the ache inside. Well, actually, I can. I think so many of us can, which is why he and so many writers like him are so resonant. Particularly now, in this climate, when the world feels divided and torn up, much like it did then. Those of us who truly do feel deeply want to find things to mend; to help that ache. And it's a humanity-sized ache, a global ache. There is a real and dire need to heal someone, something, anything, everything. Or a touch of madness grows in the absence of that longed-for resolution. And in that madness, oh, does distraction blossom. Numb, numb, numb the ache. With a drug, a habit, a spoon, a television, a drink, an over-zealous need to disappear into something other than what is, rather than live a healthy balanced life. And it's not easy, we've all got our things. Hopefully our addictions don't harm and make us ill.
And how did moderation become such a rogue idea?
We seem to be commanded by a world that favors extremes. Extremes in diet, in entertainment, in lifestyles, in just about everything. Nice, easy, simple living has become a lifestyle choice, something that has to be taught and remembered, rather than...just how things are. We have to be told and reminded with blips and beeps and timers and gadgets to relax and breathe and sleep and eat. I get it, John Steinbeck, I get it. The players have changed, the scenery is different, but it's the same game. And now, we have the internet. And do you know how often you're meme'd John? A lot.
I walked the coast again, and thought, in imaginary conversation with this writer I'd become enmeshed and obsessed with...
Despite the flack you got about that one book, John Steinbeck, I mean... wow, man. You did it. Didn't you? Your books are required reading in schools and libraries. Iconic. Champion of writing the proletariat. Great sense of place and giving voice to the everyman. You are part of the canon, good sir. I wish you could've seen it happen, in the flesh.
For the ladies:
I am asking for your input. I've opened a poll, with great results so far. If you can spare the time, I would greatly appreciate your feedback. If the answer is yes, then simply head on over HERE and submit your responses.
One thing I've found so far, is that we're mostly the same. We have different priorities, goals, and dreams...but the same sort of things hold us back and keep us in place.
I would love to gather as wide of a sample as I can for this; the results will be used for reference in Wild Horses and Mistakes, which is a project largely about women learning to love themselves, accept themselves, find their innate magic, and pursue their dreams with passion.
The poll will be left open through the duration of this writing trip, until about September 24.
Thank you in advance! xoxo
The link, one more time... https://goo.gl/forms/oYdsyfxN6BxMUPs23
I am changing. This is me embracing joy. Saying YES.
It would feel natural to say that I'm "improving," but really what's happening is that I am stripping away layers of nonsense. Incinerating parts of me that were never true. Unlearning things that I took on to get by when things were different.
I am ... more me.
I wrote a novel once. And I didn't feel super-driven to write another, at least not right away. What I've been doing, is working on me. I've spent a year, four seasons, diving into my fears and phobias. Traveling. Observing. Feeling. Writing. Healing. I've discovered in this year of me, that I am a singer/songwriter. This is such a huge part of who I am, and it vanished... once I entered academia and prepared for "a real job." A common tale for creatives.
Side-note: higher ed can be great and I have no regrets. It got me to now, which is great. But it's not everything. If you feel a calling, answer it. Honor it. Hone it. You may wake up one day and wonder why you spent all that time and money for paper and memorized jargon. This is common. On the flip-side, pursuing higher education is a saving grace for some people, it's the perfect recipe to provide growth, independence, freedom, and validation of Self. Follow YOUR path.
I have a new new trunk full of originals, they pour out of me now. I'm addicted to it again. But there was that lingering monster... stage fright.
I am baby-stepping it. I sang an original for my mother, to the delight of positive feedback. But that's my MOTHER. Then, I had a coaching appointment this morning and I schlepped my guitar across the parking lot, feeling quite strange the whole way. And I played/sang my newest for her: it's an ode to the dreamers who are also parents, and it's got 💯 of my heart and soul in it. My coach nearly wept as I finished it, and something happened inside... listen... it's not about me and my nerves. Although my fingers quivered and my feet shook uncontrollably and my voice cracked a few times and I felt my neck starting to gather sweat... my heart also cracked wide open. Wow. What magic was this? Yes magic.
It's about sharing what I've been given.
Indeed. It's about purpose. Again, the world seems newer. Brighter. Beautiful.
Hoping to start recording these little nuggets of deep feels and stories and moments for you. A two week travel/writing adventure starts on Thursday and I should be close to a finished first draft of Wild Horses and Mistakes. I'm so freakin' excited about this. Like, feet-shaking-knee-knocking-excited.
That must be good...
More soon... xoxo
With so much love,
It's a lazy Sunday.
It rained most of the morning. We stayed in, played with cars, danced to the ukulele, we sang. Threw in some laundry. We ate a quick lunch; leftovers. Don't feel bad, they were delicious. And now we're sitting in the living room. Some sort of golf is on.
And a commentator said something that just...resonated.
They were discussing Dell's $36m contribution to help support recovery efforts down in Houston. They all wore ribbons, for solidarity. #IStandWithTexas And this man spoke, after the razzle-dazzle they had to do (I'm paraphrasing, here, it's not verbatim):
"Americans are amazing. We may seem to have our divisions and difficulties, we seem to be divided on so many issues. But when disaster hits, when things like this happen, we pull together like nothing you've seen. Strings of experience and emotion that resonate within all of us. And tragedy and hardship bind us together."
I found myself agreeing with him. Nodding. "Yes," I said to the television screen, as if it could nod back.
These strings. These things, that bind us together. Even from the golf channel guy, this is just a truth. And a beautiful one.
And I can't help but reminisce; remember those weeks during and after Superstorm Sandy.
The fear, the uncontrollable and unknown that loomed, the anger, the petty violence when the gas ran out. The impatience, just... all the ugly things we saw. But also, the beautiful things we saw in each other. The way we all came together when we needed to. All of my friends that now bicker back and forth on FB about Trump and so on, back then, all equally chipped in and donated and cared and worked to help friends or strangers empty out basements. Provide blankets and gloves and jackets and clothing and soap and toothbrushes and anything else that you could think of...to the closest and hardest hit areas: for us, the Rockaways. The south shore had a lot of damage. Jersey Shore. There was a lot. And it took a while, for sure. I still run into families who haven't quite made it to even, financially, since the storm hit.
But, beyond that...in those moments...the Love that came through in the darkest times.
I began a novel that I've yet to really write, during that storm. When I had done what I could to get some useful goods to the Rockaways, via local friends with big trucks... and I couldn't find anything else to organize within my own space... and there were no more candles to assemble or devices to charge up, driving in circles...
I became still. So still. And how still my little sphere of the world was. Outside.
I was moved to tears when we lost power for days. It was autumn, and after the storm moved out, I sat outside and marveled at the sky. At the neighborhood. Others around were scurrying about, stocking up on water, reading by flashlight, praying together, feeding their neighbors, or anything to just keep warm and busy... but I was awe-struck with the night sky. The Northeast was dark and I couldn't believe how many stars were really up there. They were just pouring down on me, layers upon layers of them, billions of flashes light. They're up there and we just don't see it, beyond the haze of artificial light pollution.
I glanced up and down the street. And for a few moments, I was back in time. A past, before electricity. I could see, in my mind's eye, horses tied up and drinking water. A saloon, down the way. Lanterns, instead of streetlights. The scenery and the technology was different, but people...were the same. We're all sort of the same, deep down, at the core of things. Work, rest, eat, sleep, play, love. Repeat.
And in those same moments, I flashed forward. Looking back is easy. But what if our future looked like this? Seeing how a few days' inconvenience had rattled and disturbed people, so deeply, I began to wonder how truly prepared we'd be if we had to take care of ourselves. How dependent we'd become on technology. Our computers, phones, automobiles, all of it. How dependent. How disrupted we'd be.
Anyway. Always the artist...always finding the beautiful moments to boil down and take with me.
But I can't help but think back to how a-light I was, being among people-helping-people. Giving to give, and how that felt. The strength in numbers, the unity, the hope, the bounce-back, the community. It changed me. Naysayers and the dooms-dayers were running in circles with their hands in the air and bibles in their pockets, saying that we had it coming. 2012, this was THE STORM. We were done for. End of days. REPENT. No. Wasn't true then, and it's not now. That's all fear and nonsense and they are very convenient ways to take your money; from my perspective. Weather happens, it's part of life on this planet, but it doesn't target anyone over anyone else. I think most of us understand this simple concept. But then, many didn't, with all the Mayan calendar hullabaloo.
The only real change I'd seen was a change in consciousness. That, I believe in.
I just find myself feeling so invested in what Houston is going through, because we were so close to it, here. it brings a lot back. It's devastating to witness, even if you aren't directly impacted in a big way. To just be close to it, near enough to it, to feel all of that pain, suffering, cold, and fear. It's an ominous sort of can't sleep tonight feeling, that lingers. A wariness. A haunting sadness and grief, for so many. It felt crippling, for days.
I've been there. I remember. But I got by, back then, by doing what I could in my immediate circle. Finding bits of solitude, away from the noise. Finding hope and lightness again.
So many of us wish that we could do more, so we do what we can: we donate goods, we share information, we invest in benefit concerts, we help each other, we pray, we send love and light and peaceful blankets of energetic obliviousness to sleep beneath. We do what we can. It's a lot to feel. It's just, a lot to feel and process at once. But it settles. Water recedes. Economies adjust in some way, and people adjust. Big storms like this leave a huge imprint. They can be tragic and heartbreaking, but also incredibly inspiring, as they bring out the very best of humanity, as they follow their hearts to give and help, however they can.
Because people, in general, love each other. That's the deep-down truth. We just care about each other. And I wish I could do more. But I've done what I can. Donated where I can. And will always continue to. <3
Sending Love and Peace, Texas. xoxo
It's been a week since I attended a half-day women's retreat with the lovely ladies at The Life Detox Retreats. This is the sort of event that I always push back, make excuses about, or try to work around. I mean it's half a day! But I promised myself that I'd show up. For starters. I'm so glad that I did, here's why:
I say this a lot...that magical things happen when women gather together, with like intentions. A synergy, a web of interconnectivity, is born that never existed before.
We began around 8 am, which for me, on a Saturday...is ridiculous. I wanted to stay in bed. Lounge, indulge, snooze, and stay in my luscious dreaming. But I promised, and this was, after all, the year of choosing ME (the premise of Wild Horses and Mistakes.)
I rushed a bit, but made it on time. The grass was still cool and damp with dew, the sun was still low. There was a peaceful quiet: a crispness, a clean-ness...about the energy in the air. I remember thinking... this is why people wake up early. For the stillness. Wow. It was beautiful. (Not making promises to become an early bird...)
I wandered in and found the women, chatting, standing, sitting, assembling around yoga mats. We started the day with some quick greetings and introductions from the facilitators and then eased into a gentle yoga routine. It was just lovely, being outdoors on a sprawling and lush estate, surrounded by green, at the foot of the harbor. Hearing the birds overhead in the canopy, feeling the fresh morning breeze on my skin, opening to the whole experience. It was blissful.
As the day went on, and we nibbled on wholesome foods, and moved into different areas for different methods of inner-work, like EFT (tapping), I found that I was surrounded by women from all places in the circle. Some were a few laps ahead of me, and had deeper, richer stories to tell, and deeper, more painful wounds to carry forward. Some were a few rounds behind me. We were all different, we lived different lives. We felt different levels of stress or worry or pain or sadness... and also different levels of motivation, dreaming, goal-setting, and challenge busting. Because there is both, there will always be both.
Dream and envision, while overcoming obstacles and pushing through fears and pain. And the scale of these things will vary; our best looks different at different times in our lives.
There is a balance.
I remembered and brought so much more to the surface that day, and in the days after. How beautiful it is to share our stories, to gain perspective, and to connect with each other. To observe. To listen. To see pieces of myself, in all of these women. How grateful I was just to be there. To witness. I gained a great deal of gratitude and perspective. It was a perfect little reset.
it was solidarity.
But also, the number one thing that kept bubbling up for me, all week... was exploration. Curiosity. Imagination, dreaming, creativity. All of this involved exploration. I had been in a bit of a tug-of-war, for a while, neck-deep in paradox, while writing more of my current project, which is probably the most honest and vulnerable piece of writing I've worked on, thus far. Even in that, there is challenge, a battle, a charge forward and a rush of resistance. It's all part of the experience. The give and take.
I'd thought for so long, and really took to heart, that to be spiritual... was to be silent, obedient, and stoic. Receiving, only. Just be still and grateful, and all I need will come to me. Ohm... OK. Let's get real for a minute, beyond the bullshit and chatter. I have less and less time for it.
Here's the thing with that... in real life: if I were to sit still, in blind gratitude and acceptance of what my life was and never got off my rump to see or do anything new...well, then nothing would ever change. My life would always be as it was, I wouldn't see or do anything different, nor would my son, and I would spend a lifetime limiting myself. Or him. No. Something has to move. Change. Shift. Always.
Writing my first book wasn't so much about the finished product, it was about who I got to be, as I wrote it. As I finished it. And made room for more to flow through. Chasing wild horses, or pursuing our dreams, isn't about what we catch, it's about who we get to be, what we see, how we grow and evolve...as we journey toward them. It's about adventure, the unknown, the other side of fear, the magic and mystery of encountering something new. It's about moments of awe and wonder and magic. To be still and unmoving, is to avoid change. It's safe. Simple. Less threatening, for sure. But to avoid and hide from change is to miss out on growth opportunities, as well as, oh...those simple little things like... bliss, joy, fun, excitement, passion, pleasure, meaning, and magic. All the things that make Life worth living. For me, spirituality is about embracing humanity, not hiding from it, and living in the Mind, alone. It's about coming fully into my body, from my soft stomach, to my head, and all the way out to my finger tips and toes. Being aware of twinges and discomforts and pain and exploring them. Healing them. Also, diving deep into the me inside, exploring there. Allowing emotional pain to surface for healing, and letting it go, and finding myself that much lighter and more free. Closer to wild and unfettered and blissfully abundant, with each healing and release. Stronger and more resilient with each stumble and setback.
To me, this is it. Living full-on, up-close with the Self. Honestly. Full acceptance of all that I am, light and dark. Awareness of what doesn't work, and measured action to improve. All change begins with conscious thought, with an idea, with a seed. But it lingers, unawakened, until action is taken. There must be a catalyst.
Action...is the step through the threshold, into a new world. A leap of faith. A big decision. Facing a fear. A change in plans, a new experience, a flight to another place, meeting someone new... all of these are first steps through that doorway, into a new story. A new adventure. Consciously creating opportunities to encounter new things, face to face. To engage the senses in different ways, to change perspective, to expand.
I am working with a coach now, (I'll gush about her when we're through, I don't want to detract from our work together) and it's doing wonders for staying focused and connected to my creativity. And she said something at our last visit, that stayed and rattled around in my head. Shook things up. It had to do with getting to core wants and desired outcomes, how I'd choose to design my life and experience creativity in a responsive world:
"What if there wasn't a book to write? What if there was no song you had to write and sing? No project to get done? What would it be then? What's beneath that? Without the to-dos?"
Wow. What a storm of stuff! Epic battles started raging inside, don't tell me I can't write! Why can't I sing? Why, what, why... and on and on. Silently, of course. Inside. Me against me. As is everything.
But I considered it, for the sake of the exercise...and some crystal clear truths bubbled up through the mess...
1. I am writer because it's who I am. I'll always write, I always have, because it's just me. It's how I see the world, and whether I share it or not, it will still happen. I live stories; life is art. It's not a have to, it's just me. As much as my arm or my foot is me. The same is true of music. If I went through a day without dancing around the kitchen, holding mini-concerts in the car as I drove, or hearing music within me and letting it out...I'd obviously be very ill or depressed. It just doesn't happen often. So, the answer to that question is: I'd still do and enjoy these things, even if I didn't seek to publish or share them. They're just me. It also made me so much more grateful to have these outlets in my life, and I promised to create more space for them.
2. But what if... if I didn't have those things. What else is it, what is the thing that lights me up, that sets my soul on fire, that mainlines me into Bliss? It's travel. New places, experiences, adventures, people, sights, sounds, smells, landscapes, FOOD. I write and create to process my world, and explain it in my own unique way, but I travel to engage my world. To live. For me, travel is to be in experience of Life, while art is to be in observation of life. (I did say up there that life IS art, so I don't know. Good luck sorting all that out. it might not make sense. It might, though.) Anyway. I thrive on a balance of both. So, if I had no project to work on, if I wasn't writing something or crafting something... I'd definitely be planning my next travel experience.
And here's why all of this is so important: knowing what makes us come alive and feel good, is everything. Knowing what that is, and then doing it, is a recipe for a fulfilling life. It's simple, but it's everything. Human beings, as we grow from childhood and encounter life's slings and arrows, we become wary of joy. We get further and further from it if we don't make an active choice to bring it to mind, and connect to it. Consciously. And stillness, quiet, meditation is key...because in the silence, we hear ourselves again. We hear what it is that we really want. (Pssst. We're still allowed to want things.) Or, we could hear our purpose, or the whisperings of the divine within us, our higher selves, pointing us toward our Truth. Whatever it is, way deep down, that energy, in those buried places, we get to listen to it.
I believe that we don't merely wait for our lives to happen to us, but that we consciously create them. Each day, with each choice. What great reminders I got, this week.
A simple prescription:
Find balance: nourish the body, quiet the mind, honor the soul
Listen and know what you want
Honor that voice, take a step toward what it wants, and live in gratitude of it
Repeat as necessary.
I've heard from quite a few astrologer friends that when Mercury is in retrograde, as it is now, that all kinds of things go screwy. Gadgets don't work, electronics misfire, everything just seems to not work right. Including our communications with each other. I can' prove any of that, but I do have a iPhone story...
My little boy is in hardcore potty training. He is rewarded for long stretches of success with...toys. Yes. He's not punished when it doesn't work, but when he gets it right...positive reinforcement. Tonight's win was made possible by Addicted Consumers r Us: the Disney store. We stopped to eat dinner first, he even used the big restaurant potty! Yes, score! All was well.
And then to Disney for a toy. I admit, I am a fan of Walt Disney, the Mouse, and its kingdom. I grew up with the characters, the magic, the dreams...and find it all wonderful for engaging the imaginations of children. Jiminy Cricket and wishing upon a star? The Lady and the Tramp, love on the wrong side of the tracks. Snow White and true love's kiss. Sleeping Beauty, my all-time favorite, could you tell? Sweet Rose, raised in the forest by three magical, enchanted Aunties....she was friends with all the creatures, big and small, and joins them all in sweet song, dance, and frolic? Once Upon a Dream? Oh, I was hooked. Fast.
The boy wanted cars. The CARS-cars. I indulged in a small dancing Groot for my desk. Because focus. (Just kidding, I just wanted one. It's cute and fun and silly and makes me feel sparkly. I don't need to justify my Groot to you, so get over it already. I AM GROOT.)
We even get a reusable Disney shopping bag, perfect. Back to the car. All tucked in...WHERE IS MY PHONE? :gulp: (expletive, expletive, expletive.) Back in the stroller, power-walkathon. Weaving, bobbing, Nascar-esque diva speed. We get back to Disney. Tear the giant mound of stuffed animals apart, because...he was there. Sorry, Disney. The pile of Woodys. Sorry, again. A kind Mom with her own gang of boys felt my distress, she heard the sister-call. "Hang on, put your number in, let's find it!" She dials...we wait. Older boy #1 thinks he hears it. "DISNEY, CAN YOU TURN THE EMPEROR'S CLOTHES SONG DOWN, FOR TWO SECONDS?" They...oblige. Thanks, Disney. Sorry. Again. Pretty sure my phone is on silent, because "work."
No dice. No sound. Nada. Zip. Silence. Stomach convulsions. Every joint in my body aches, because stupid tension. Because missing phone. Thanked everyone, left my info with the patient manager, who of course, was super-Disnified through the whole thing. (EXCELLENT customer service, they train 'em right.) Forlorn. Exhausted. Annoyed. Frustrated. Wit's end. Imagining what I had to do...call phone service, freeze, lock phone, all this stuff which is making my head implode. But breathing, it's just a thing. I can do this. Handle-able. My little dude: "it's okay Mom, we will find it. Let's do this..." Cool as a cucumber.
"I hope so babe, I just hope no one stole it. Sometimes when we drop things, people walk off with them..."
"Maybe not, Mom, let's just see..."
Me: silent eyerolling and cursing. Oh, the innocence. Praying. Dear Jesus, Mary, God, Buddha, interdimensional beings of Light and wisdom, Shiva and Shakti, spirits, grandmothers, Gaia, Gods and Goddesses and guides and angels and legos and faeries and GI JOE AND MARY POPPINS AND ANYONE LISTENING ANYWHERE... please help me find this phone. PLEASE. I need this win. I just do. Puh-Lease. I'll do a hundred crunches tomorrow. AND squats. And I won't complain about my neck. Or other stuff. Please. Just please.
Hit the restaurant that we stopped at first...on our way back to the car.
"Did anyone, by any chance, turn in an iPhone?" Girl nods.
"Yes!" Insides stand up at attention, in wait.
"With flowers on the case, and cracked safety glass in front?" Please, please, please...
"Yes, hang on..." :tears, lip quivers still praying to anything not nailed down: Manager returns... IT'S MINE! Good as new. In my hand. I hold it tight as it it might fly away, into the night air.
"See Mom, there it is! We found it, I told you..." This kid. And here's what Yoda baby says next. Listen:
"when we're very nervous, we don't get it. When we aren't nervous anymore...we get it!"
Smiles. Me...barrels of tension roll off onto the floor. Oof. Really sorry, Disney. You were great. I was panicked But you were great. Really. I'll send you a card.
And we think we're raising THEM. We had a great talk on the walk back to the car. People don't always take things when they see them, sometimes people return things, because they know someone is looking for it. Because really, people care about each other, really. We just forget, sometimes, when we get scared. But mostly, we take care of each other. Mostly people are good.
What an adventure. This boy. My heart. xoxo
Super grateful to have my phone and am seriously considering backing it up and using alternative photo/video storage. :) Just in case.
(Get your sh*t together, Mercury. Seriously. Sheesh. it's nice blaming a planet...)
Magical, mystical, music.
"I knew when I was 13 what I wanted to do - I wanted to be a musician." - John Mayer
And so he has been.
I took the night off from overthinking, writing, practicing, Mom'ing, planning, exercising, pain-treating, and everything else...and I let music have its way with me tonight. Not sorry. It was good for me. Even the Belgian White felt medicinal.
It was a blessing, a homecoming...the BFF and I went to Jones Beach to see JM many moons ago, and I say homecoming, because, well listen to this coolness:
Way back when, in another lifetime, we went to this place, under the stars, to see the Counting Crows, Maroon 5, and this John Mayer guy. I was there for Adam Levine, nothing else. Or so I thought. That first time I saw him, John Mayer, I was surprised. I hadn't been a fan of the "run through the halls of my school" stuff. Your body is a what? Ew. I appreciate it now, and know every word, but back then? College days? Competing with DMB, Alicia, J-Lo, Janet, Gwen, Staind, Usher, Maroon 5, and ay dios mio, Enrique.... well, maybe I liked one song on the album: My Stupid Mouth. Yeah, I got that. It resonated. I had no filter. And Neon...great picking, wow. I thought we could hang, maybe, but the music? Eh. Coffeehouse. Chin pubes. College kids, fake IDs. Whatevs. (That was THEN John, I adore you now.)
Anyway, that night, back then, that first night I saw him live, he wasn't a frat kid at a coffeehouse. He brought out an electric guitar. The lights went down, the spot followed him to center-stage, and he started channeling Jimi Hendrix. This was way before the Trio. He just stood there and left it all the floor. He bled. Something magical happened. I felt it. And it spilled out of him, onto the floor, through the fog, across the crowd and seeped into me. I was hooked. This...this wailing, this pain-filled melancholic magic, this kind of connecting...moved me. So much more than the acoustic rhythmic strumming. I remember then, after seeing him, coming right back home, the way I did tonight, and I gushed into my MySpace blog for a good hour about that solo and how it "took me to outer space."
2003. August 25, 2003. Two days shy of 14 years ago. How much has gone down, how much we've seen and witnessed, since those simple days. How much Life has crept by?
And now. What magic is this, in these tones, these lyrics, these sounds, this... emoting... connecting... that brings it all right back. To then. What a gift that is, to create time-travel. To create doorways in the mind to such bliss, such simplicity, such joy. Remembering.
And to create more, here and now. Oh...art.
It's a magic I can't explain. If I was in the blissed-out state the guy a few seats down from me was in, I'd say... it's some epic, mind-blowing, cosmic shit. Yeah, man. Something like that. All those things.
Music. What is it about music that can do this for us?
And it's not all music I connect to in this way, it's what I call the authentic stuff. Connected stuff. It has to feel a bit organic, to me. And that's what it is, right there. It's real. Songwriting... taking in the world, the highs the lows, the waves of bliss and sorrow, the try-it-agains, and the fucked-it-ups, the climbing so high and the crashing so low. The movement, the pain, the memory, the fear, the longing. Imagining. Obsessing. Dreaming. The emotion. And it's this, this capture of raw, of real, of...Life. This is what connects us all. Art. To have an emotional experience, to share it, and to have us feel it, too. Connection. Heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul. This is what the artist, the creator, does.
And it's true for any art. They just take us there. Where we want and need to go. To enter into their world, to be there, to feel, to release, to let go, to heal. To hope, to dream, to imagine, to smile. To pause, to breathe. To appreciate. To wonder. To celebrate.
Musicians, while fulfilling their own need for release and connecting with us... also hold space. They hold for a us a sacred space in time to connect in a world full of distraction. Harmony in a world of disharmony. They give us moments, really, precious moments of unified and focused energy: a whole crowd feeling the same things at the same time. Which is why sensitive folks, well...me, at least... love these events so much. They light us up: we breathe in joy, awe, bliss, melancholy. But together, as a whole, a living organism, an expanding and contracting universe of meaning and and communication, all its own.
I feel blessed to have to gone. Thanks John Mayer. 14 years. Only getting better. We've got creases and lines and joint issues and other things, gen-xers, but, deep down, we're all still 'those kids.' And you took us there. Again. And I am moved. Again.
This is...yes...serious ass-kissing, but also an homage to music; being the glue that binds us. And how lucky you are, how lucky anyone can be: to be up there, living it, and have such influence. What a gift. What a dream, what an inspiration.
Thanks for a great night out.
PS...John Mayer totally admitted to being a guy who likes a good cry. Relevant because I just blogged about that in Big Boys Don't Cry...
how much did they offer?
how much did you take?
to smile, to persuade,
to entice and quietly break
such a nervous heart
a healing heart
already on the brink
a smooth operator
and how many before mine?
such shimmer and shine
every word, perfectly timed
how well you played your part
such a cunning thief of hearts
into the over-full pack on your back
went my excitement,
my joy, and maybe
what might have been Love
someday, if let alone
a cool manipulator
or a fast mind-changer
in any case
here we are
or there we were
at most, an idea
and not even a good one
but the more i come back into me
the more i think
this is all a design
to remind me about what is
and isn't mine
while i'm here
what's yours won't pass you by
so, you needed to show me
to break my heart, again
so i could see, so clearly
what i was worthy of letting in
and i must concede
that perhaps it was me
that wasn't right, that didn't fit
the one who just...wasn't it
what a gift, is this?
what a gift
over and over
i'm taught how to let go
of what i know
isn't good for me
and this can be a person
or a thing
but, there, in the emptiness
deep down in the hollow
i hear whispers, loving whispers, of the word
and i breathe
into such tomorrows
into those ideas
and i find myself
in this new now
leaning into lighter things like:
and if i got everything i wanted
what a different world it would be
and if i got everything i wanted
how far of course, how far from me
i would be
and if i got everything i wanted
i fear, i might have lost myself
in such madness, such abandon
but oh, to grow, to ascend
to stop pretending
to look around and see
that i'm where i'm supposed to be
alight with new and inspired dreams
and they wait for me
just for me
to breathe life into their wings
to let them shine and sing
for me, for now
I didn't want to write this story.
I've been carrying it around since Thursday night, but when I do that, when I don't write through these things, the world gets uglier, darker, and more twisted...fast. No, I'm not that powerful, I'm talking about perspective. Which is at the root of everything.
I was out to the movies with my brother (the new Ryan Reynolds/Sam Jackson. So good! Yeah, that's a truth. I love my blockbuster-blow-shit-up-eye-candy. Deal.)
So, yeah, we're super weird. My family is still close, we hang and stuff. We like each other. <----- effing psychos.
Anyway. On-line for some contraband: popcorn and I'm NOT TELLING YOU what else. Nunya business. So, there's a man with his little boy, around my son's age, ahead of us. This adorable boy looks over to his Mama and Aunties, who are walking toward the theater. He wants to go with them.
"Mama," he yells over to her, teary-eyed. She smiles and says nothing. He cries a little bit. Big tough Daddy-man looks down at his toddler with a stern face and points at him. "Ah....ah...nope. Not even."
He tries to suck up his tears. He looks back at his Mama and this time tries a different call, "Auntie!" Still, they walked. They disappeared around the corner. Full-on tears. Big Daddy-man gives the boy his Batman mask. And here's where it gets fun:
"Here, go ahead, put it on. That way we don't have to hear you cryin' or, worse, SEE you cryin'. Put that on, maybe Batman will make you feel tough. Pathetic. Huh, feel better? Feel tough? Will ya stop now?" If someone spoke to my son in this way he'd still be recovering from backlash.
Both my brother and I recoiled in silent disgust. Uploading pain and psychosis into innocent child...now. I don't interfere in another's parenting: I don't know the whole story, it could be a different culture and tradition perhaps...so many possibilites. But... he was a baby. A sweet, innocent boy, younger than 5, that wanted some love and attention from his mother. But he was forced to stay behind and learn his "tough act." This is where we learn to start wearing our masks. Literally! Wow!
Can you remember when you were first told to wear a mask? And why? And do you know that all of that isn't yours to carry?
Wow. This is where it starts. All of this that we're seeing. Denied self-expression, acceptance, love, and nurturing at a young age. Leaving young, impressionable children in the dark, to sort out their own powerful emotions as they grow and learn about their world. It's a kind of neglect and abuse, growing up in a cold home. And it turns human beings into monsters, sometimes, as they grow.
The Paradox of it All:
A child can learn self-defense and confidence and still believe in the goodness and tenderness of people.
A child can be strong and raised with moral values and honored family traditions, and still be able to express sadness, loneliness, vulnerability, and fear, in a healthy way.
A child taught not to cry, becomes an adult who never feels safe enough to cry, which creates instability. I myself have only recently learned how to truly cry, and thereby, heal myself. <---big one
A child can be taught self-sufficiency and also be able and willing to offer and accept help.
A child raised to be blindly obedient, without a sense of self, becomes a weakened and confused adult who then, if they're wise, must take a lot of time and effort to understand their past, and to heal. As so many of us do. But not all adults want to heal. Many want to perpetuate a damaging cycle.
Add years and years of stifled pain and emotion, and here we are. Watch the news. Raised in fear, to see the world in fear, to act and react in fear.
When does it stop?
I'm not saying raise your children to be spoiled, self-indulgent, and disconnected. Silver spoon syndrome helps no one. I'm not saying to raise them to be dramatic martyrs, either. Extremes make headlines and get attention but aren't the only page-turners and makers of change. There is a healthy middle, there is a balanced place where the best of strength and compassion and cool heads meet... and that is my goal. To teach from that place. To parent from that place. To live from that place. it's quite a place to strive for. And I'm definitely not there, yet.
I screw it up a lot. I still catch myself reacting in heated and emotional moments, wanting to cast out blame. It't that! it's them! It's her, it's him! Oh, but those moments when I can see it, step back, recalibrate? That's where the lessons fly in. Here's the thing though, if we're not screwing up and making mistakes, we're not learning anything. We're staying still. Safe. Bubble-wrapped. Our world will never change, if we don't.
I am far from perfect, I put my foot in my mouth daily among other incessant mistakes. (Sorry...everyone, ever. Full-on human. Still working on it.)
But I'd be wasting precious time if I stayed there, in the mistake. I learn, I adjust my behavior and thinking about that sort of issue, and I roll on. As does anyone. We hope.
Dear Little Teary-Eyed Boy:
I hope that you grow into a wonderful and happy young man. I hope that your peers and your schooling and the books you read and the places you travel to and the people you meet will broaden your perspective. I hope that you learn how to let your cries out in a healthy way. I hope that you get in touch with what makes you come alive and what grounds you and brings you inner peace. I hope that you know...it's okay to cry, when you feel the need to release powerful emotions.
Grown men who are well-adjusted, successful, and happy...do cry sometimes. When they are vulnerable, when they are moved, when they are saddened, when they grieve, when they are terribly frightened. They just don't stay in it, they don't prolong it and hold onto it. It's a natural and cleansing gift to us, it's a reset, it's a clearing out of stagnant emotion. And when dealt with, head-on, it cycles through quickly. But when ignored, stuffed down, condescended to, forgotten, or worse, punished...those cries get stuck inside. They linger and fester and rot and get absorbed into our flesh and bones and memory.
And this is an aberration. It's a fear that we carry our whole lives, that was never really ours to begin with. And yet, when it becomes us, we inflict it upon others, when it wasn't theirs, either. This is a cycle that must end. This suppressing of human emotion.
Just find the middle. It's where all the best things happen. In harmony, with balance.
can't you feel it?
all this Love
bubbling up between the cracks of
hate and greed and ignorant breeding
and fear, all the fear
but pause and breathe
it's what we do
we gather, combine
we Love hard
so much brighter
when we need to
because it's who we are
underneath, it's been proven
we are Love, you see
it's what we're made to be
each painful blow
helps us grow in Light
just feel it
despite the tragic
the violence, the crying
i do hear the crying
i won't dismiss it
or stop trying to
heal with my world
there is peace, there is unity
there is us
in every way that we can
wanting to rebuild the world in Love
this is what we do
it starts with me and you
in every situation that we are
easily drawn to
we rally, we rise
we Love, we surprise ourselves
millions of us know the power of being kind
millions of us know that these are changing times
it's in the way we show up
it's in the way we care
the way we listen
the way we evolve
it's more about how we behave on-line
at the grocery store
then how loud we can roar on-line
in the comment section
it's moments, it's connection
it's presence, it's reflection
and a refusal to go backward
and we can do this
can't you feel all the Love?