Z is shape of the trail…
Z is shape of the trail, the winding zigzagging path I see each morning from where I am camped, here at the end of the world, on the volcanic tablelands at the edge of the eastern Sierras.
The clouds here are exquisite, the sky enormous, the vastness of stars is positively intoxicating, the mountains stand in their power and the winds whip up chaos, and I love it here. I walk the road, no idea how far I will go.
What have I learned here about what I want?
What’s (at) the end of the road for me?
What do I want?
The same things that have been calling to me since I set off on my shmita year:
To live quietly and intentionally
with great clarity and a small footprint,
committed to yes and less, my own form of luscious minimalism,
under the stars,
writing and training,
becoming a panther: powerful and alive, wild and free.
It is a lot. And also it is very little.
It seems wildly complicated (how do I make this happen) and yet it is also beautifully simple.
Follow the zigzagging path.
Zoom in. Zoom out.
Lately, like so many people, I have been finding it challenging to maintain perspective, to fine-tune my focus.
How do we find a good lens to view this changing landscape?
And yes, I am referring here to landscapes both internal and political.
Everything has gone slightly mad in the world, it is baffling and disorienting to even try to stay on top of what is happening in my country.
Certainly it seems like it would be easier to channel clarity and peacefulness when we choose not to know, and yet, I don’t think we can afford to not know.
Perspective is skewed, this is part of the zeitgeist, and so we adjust, in whatever ways we can. Breathing in, breathing out, zooming in, zooming out.
2016 was not only the year of echoing and reverberating for me, it was also the year of doors.
This morning I was consulting with Wisest Me about what has been and what might be, and she had some helpful thoughts:
Everything that happened in this challenging year has pointed you in a good direction.
As you prepare to enter the last month of the year of doors, it is time to focus on being someone who knows about closing doors. Be someone who closes doors with great power, clarity, intention and focus.
Zoom in, zoom out. Close doors. With power, clarity, intention, and focus.
What a wonderful day.
Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah (yes, that is how it is spelled, though I have always heard it as zippity), is the song about my oh my what a wonderful day.
This is the superpower-and-salve I have been invoking lately. That hopeful feeling, that is what I want to channel.
MY OH MY WHAT A WONDERFUL DAY.
Yes, that’s what is needed. A day so wonderful that it makes us pause to admire it: my oh my.
I have a feeling we are going to have to really work for days like these.
My oh my.
I like the word zippity. It has a zestiness to its zippiness. And hope, it has hope.
What are we going to do to work towards a more wonderful day?
The perfect affogato.
Nearly seventeen years ago I quit coffee and sugar. Seventeen years. Sometimes I’d dream of ice cream, the scent of coffee still sent me into ecstasy, but I was done.
Until this year.
There is such a magic to coffee: a zoom and a thrill. I suddenly understand how the world functions. It is in fact much easier to get things done with coffee: a zoom delivery system.
[I am also now infinitely more impressed with my output over the past seventeen years without drugs, I am amazing.]
And ice cream, well, ice cream is outrageous lusciousness, sensual delight. Its own special occasion, well worth the seventeen year wait.
Mix gelato with espresso and you have affogato, tantalizing pleasure, Italian perfection.
Zoom. I can write all day, which is kind of all I want to do anyway.
I watched the National Geographic documentary Before The Flood last night, produced by Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s on Netflix.
It was captivating and distressing and breathtaking, both in ugliness and loveliness.
I urge you to see it, if you can, as soon as you can and as often as you can, even though it is a difficult subject. It is so important, and we all need to be called to action.
The interview with British astronaut and climate scientist Piers Sellers is one of the most moving and beautiful things I have ever seen. He returned from space with such massive love for people, and for earth, such clarity and grace. He also has stage four pancreatic cancer, and he speaks with such calm and peaceful perspective about his lack of time, and how it brings him to focus, to passion, and to love.
And to hope. His is possibly the most hopeful and inspiring voice in the entire documentary. This is someone who has found perspective, in all senses.
(I want to add something else about this. The titles of the articles about him get it wrong: he isn’t fighting his diagnosis, he is in a harmonious state of being with life, with life in general and his life in particular. That is what I am taking from this.)
I want to hope like Piers Sellers. I want to love with that much love, to hope with that much hope. To live with that much presence.
Going to work. Zoom.
Here is Piers, again:
“From this God’s-eye-view, I saw how fragile and infinitely precious the Earth is. I’m hopeful for its future. And so I’m going to work tomorrow.”
The more I read about him, the more I think he is right, hope is the only answer here because hope is the only appropriate answer.
Let’s go to work.
I have returned to making cocktails, like in my long-ago bartending days.
A zigzag of lemon peel, passed deftly and swiftly through the flame of a tea light, and dropped in a gorgeous art deco glass. Scent and zest.
Sometimes I think about returning to the bars, as a job. Not because it’s my yes, but because it is something I am good at, and right now I want to feel needed.
In a way, bartending is very similar to blogging: you set up an atmosphere, you establish the culture, and the people who need to be there gather. They find their way to you.
I make cocktails exactly the way I write too, completely by feel. No measurements, breaking rules right and left, complete trust in my ability to concoct something delicious and one-of-a-kind.
Wildness, passion, presence, zest. A story from quality ingredients. These are the qualities of writing and cocktails.
Z is the shape of the winding path and Z is also the ending, end of the alphabet, end of the line.
When I closed my beautiful retreat center after five magical years, it told me it would come with me.
What is coming with me now?
Echoing light. Echoing into the light.
How do I want to echo light? How do I want to be an echoing source of light?
This goes back to the question of what to let in.
On the one hand, I am very clear that I need to preserve the integrity of my light source.
Echoing and reverberating.
Here in the desert at the edge of the mountains I am echoing and reverberating with so many questions of what is important and what is next. What is my legacy? What do I want to echo?
Which doors need to close, and when, and how. What am I opening to?
Piers Sellers says he does not care one bit about legacy, and I think that is lovely. I do.
It is possible that I care too much about legacy, and yet that is where my mind is. I want know my body of work has been collected and gathered, ready for whoever is going to carry it.
But he is probably right. You do what you can, and hope, and trust you will be remembered with love. I am still figuring this part out.
What happens after Z?
We rest and listen. We return to the beginning, to point A.
But A is new, not the same A as before, and we are new, not as we were before.
A spiraling cycle, with all the superpowers of spirals and swings.
You reach the zenith, the highest celestial point, and you circle back to aspiration, adoration, adaptation, the asking point, the starting point, also known as approach.
Acceptance? What do we know about this?
In hebrew we say zeh ma yesh, it means something like hey that’s what there is, this is what we’ve got to work with.
Baby that’s how it is.
It is not defeatist. It is just very much to the point.
This has been echoing for me as I find my way out of the fog. As the president-elect of the united states continues to make baffling, disruptive, dangerous statements while gathering an absolutely terrifying group of advisors to lead.
Coming to terms with this new painful reality: both the political climate and actual climate are moving swiftly towards catastrophe, and the time to act is right now.
Coming to accept this new disorienting reality — reading the news to learn what is happening only to learn that no one has a real sense of what is happening.
This is how things are right now. This is what we have to deal with.
We need to simultaneously be able to do this and hold the clear vision — hold the door open — for a better reality, for positive change.
I look at Piers Sellers, the person I admire most right now. His startling clarity. His heart of love. He can see the awful situation of our climate, he can see his own limited time, and where anyone else would see hopelessness, he sees action and he sees hope.
He is like the actual living out of that zen parable about tasting the strawberry and being fully engaged in the sweetness of the moment, powerfully calm and steady in the face of danger, except he is also able to do this and look forward to next steps, towards change.
He embodies this zen quality and also zimzum, humming.
Humming my hum is how I want to be a bell, aka the superpower of the month of echoing. Humming my hum is how I want to steadily glow always, the superpower of the month of light.
Humming is hopeful. Humming is powerfully reverberating. Humming is how we keep melody alive. I want to hum my way forward, with you.
Cultivating this state of zen meets zoom.
That is my wish right now, amid so many wishes.
Wishes about attitude and approach, curiosity and presence, deep self-treasuring, powerful clarity, love-based action, following true yes, closing every door that needs closing so that I can be the clearest conduit.
Passion. Sustainability. Acting now because now is the time. But doing this with Piers Sellers levels of quiet steady presence, glowing love, the living embodiment of seeds of hope.
I know what I want to write. I know what I want to say.
I still don’t know where I want to live or what form the business needs to take. But I know how I want to live: quietly, sustainably, passionately, powerfully.
What are the superpowers of the Door Closer?
Let’s call on these, naming them, calling them into being…
Completion. Clarity. Service. Fierce Determination. Looking Forward. Knowing What I Want. Knowing How To Get There. Taking Up Space. Drinking Water. Creative Flow. Wholeness. Peacefulness. Groundedness. Steadiness. Training. Seeing Sparks Of Light.
This is a good place to start. This is a good way to end.
This has been a quiet mediation on endings, echoing, and words that begin with Z.
Other marvelous Z-words can be found here, like zymotechnics (the art of fermentation), zonelet (a little zone, how cute is that!), ziraleet (an expression of joy), and zetetic (proceeding by inquiry).
When I forget how to find the fun and joy in these dark days and troubled times, I return to words and how beautiful, magical and powerful they are.
Words bring me back to a sense of power and play, creativity and experimentation. I return to myself, to quiet and listening, deep breathing, humming my hum, remembering my yes, powerfully resonating.
That is my wish this week, this 385th week of wishing.
May it be so! And come play with me.
We can name wishes and invoke superpowers. We can gather, because gathering is powerful.
If you wish to share in any of qualities named here you are welcome to, or add your own. They work like invisible salves — take as much as you like, there is always more.
This is safe space for creative exploration. We are on permanent vacation from care-taking and advice-giving. We are here to play and throw things in the pot! With amnesty. Leave a wish any time you want.
Here’s how we meet each other’s wishes: Oh, wow. What beautiful wishes.
Whispering loving spells that begin with Z, for myself, and for anyone who wants…