No answers, only questions
Fair warning that this piece answers neither of the questions posed in the title, so hope you aren’t looking for wisdom on that front, haha or on any front really because I don’t know if I have any insights for us today.
This piece also involves a lot of cussing, really a lot, more so than usual, so if that is not your thing, now you know, and maybe you give it a pass. Or maybe let it all wash over and past, take the gems and let the rest go. A good approach for anything really. Up to you.
Force fields on, powers up. Let’s practice, my friends. And however we are practicing is how we’re practicing. See, there’s an insight. We’re onto something. Let’s do this. Let’s breathe breaths and have some words.
My neighbor has taken up hay-hauling.
And while I very much get that we are all hustling right now to survive, and it’s all about the side hustle, and really, WHO AMONG US has not been engaging or at least considering in engaging in some semi-questionable side-hustles in this hellscape plaguetime isolation madness, this specific hay-hauling side-hustle involves an absolutely massive semi-truck that lurches through our shared gulley of a dirt road at five in the damn morning.
It is an unacceptable amount of noise at any hour, it shakes the dome, it rattles me, I awaken panicked and ready for a fight.
I am both pleased and displeased to report that this 5am gravel road maneuvering situation now only briefly wakes me, just long enough to put a middle finger to the sky, and then I somehow immediately fall back asleep and the truck reincorporates itself into my dreams. A repurposing.
In my dream, someone I was friends with in high school, someone I have not thought of in years, someone with a name so unlikely that if I shared it with you, you’d think I made it up expressly for the sake of entertaining you and dressing up this dream-story, this person picked me up in a converted semi-truck. They live in this truck now apparently, or at least they do in my dream.
Dream-person gave me a dreamscape ride over narrow bumpy roads and we kissed, which was extremely unexpected both in that it happened at all and in the passionate intensity of it, and also the whole thing was surprisingly not terrible at all, and then I was at my dad’s house.
So that’s all normal and fine, glad I’m not in therapy and don’t have to discuss that with anyone.
I am deep deep deep inside the mysteries of time, the mystery of how it just took me an hour and a half to wash dishes, take vitamins, get dressed, take care of one bucket of hand-washing, and put on the tiniest amount of makeup.
All of which fall into the category of helpful things if you are a me.
(People Vary, of course, and if you are not a me, these might not be relevant or helpful things for you at all, but my life is improved when I take time for these, and so the time for them is vital, but somehow always so much more than anticipated.)
The mystery and the deception
There were no distractions as there often are.
I wasn’t online or texting as I often am.
I wasn’t despair-walking in aimless circles as I quite often am, more often than I care to admit.
And I wasn’t dancing to a song which then turns into ten songs, as I almost always am, like at pretty much any given time I can be found doing exactly this.
Nope, I was just doing these very mundane things that needed to be done, not particularly focused but also not unfocused, and here we are, and that’s just how long it took.
Intel is neutral
The assassin likes to say this. Intel Is Neutral.
She says this about everything, and she says it about this, and I get it, or I think I do.
It’s like a cousin to IIWIMI (It Is What It Motherfucking Is), and I am sure she is right.
And also, at the same time, I am noticing how frustrating it is for me to work with this seemingly unwieldy and nonsensical intel, it feels part and parcel of all the hard things right now.
For example (hard things)
For example, the Great Molasses Kryptonite Fatigue of 2020 and the particular way that I move in and out of it, or maybe it moves in and around me.
For example, Hey Nothing Makes Sense And Maybe It Never Did.
For example, Not Only Did I Not Sign Up For This Marathon But There Appears To Be No Finish Line.
And are we in trauma fugue state or is this just what happens when you combine ADHD with a month of intense solitude.
(If you are also having trouble finding your spark or any spark, even if/when things or some things are objectively fine, you are in very good company, because literally everyone I know is for the most part just stumbling in and out of the foggiest fog.)
And again, What Is Time, and how do we get even very basic things done?
How do we motate, motivate, galvanize? Come on in, refreshing new energy! The door is open…
She’s right though. The assassin in my head who is always right is always right.
Intel is neutral. If that’s how long it takes, then it doesn’t matter if I expect it to take a third of the time it actually takes.
Gotta work with what is.
And maybe it will change. It will or it won’t. We’ll pay attention. And we’ll receive more neutral intel.
Excitement where did you go
I mostly have not been feeling particularly excited (understatement) about any of the many things that need to be done today, or this month, or at all, and I wish I could either get excited or be more okay with my inability to conjure some energy, and in some moments I can, but a lot of the time I can’t do either, and that’s how it is.
Both online yoga classes I took this week focused on gratitude, and honestly I feel the same way about gratitude as I do excitement:
I just don’t fucking care right now.
I know of course there is so much to be grateful for, especially my health, which is truly a glowing miracle, and the great fortune that I can hide out here in the desert and do yoga all day with a beautiful view, but for the most part I have not been feeling grateful, I quite often feel lonely and depressed, and then alternately terrified or blank about future plans.
There are moments in which gratitude magically appears (sometimes astounding amounts of it, and often for seemingly very small things, like cuticle oil, a treasure procured by past-me for this exact moment of need, good job, past-me, a true hero for these troubled times).
And there are moments in which it genuinely feels like I will never be able to conjure it or access that feeling again.
There are moments of lightness and lightheartedness, of wild laughter and a sort of James Bond in-under-the-wire belief that hell yeah we’re gonna figure this all out because that’s the only option! I catch a glimpse of playful-me who is fluid and alive, who flirts outrageously with life and solves things through play.
And there are moments when I lose the thread of that too. IIWIMI.
Clearing / a clearing
Maybe this is the rebellious self who has never liked forced gratitude practices, haha, I went through the blog archives and found an example from way back in 2008 where I was talking about this same theme, so there ya go.
And maybe it’s just that I know which entryways work for me.
I know gratitude works for me like a clearing in the forest that I stumble upon delightedly. If I don’t plan for it, gratitude will surprise me.
And I know that gratitude does not work well for me as a door that I knock on each day hoping it might open.
Some people I love and admire talk a lot about how they have found daily gratitude practice to be transformative, they say it’s like a muscle that you have to work.
I get the metaphor, it is just not joyful for me. As my wise friend says, having to manufacture gratitude is a bummer, and maybe that’s it too, I don’t want to manufacture it, the best thing about gratitude is how it just shows up when I least expect it?
So I am going to let all shoulds just demolish themselves, I don’t have to feel grateful right now. I’ll feel what I feel when I get around to it, and right now I’m not there.
These are the superpowers of It Is What It Motherfucking Is and A True Rebel Assassin Knows How To Work With What Is.
Aka hey you know what, if Gratitude is not in the grab bag today, then fuck it, we will rig something else to work, using what we have, because we know how to improvise, that’s part of the job!
Superpowers of Use What We Have! MacGyver has nothing on me!
I think I told you last time abut how I have not been writing because I met something I was not ready to deal with.
And also I know that it often helps me to sort of piece things together by writing words for someone other than myself. Writing helps.
But also I think I am afraid of discovering how angry I am.
Which is a funny thing to say because I was already pretty fucking angry, and I’m pretty sure that’s mostly what I’ve been writing about for the last couple years at least.
Twenty three years ago I had the most terrifying dream about a cardboard box filled with writhing snakes (I wrote about this too when I was writing about the things that made me stop writing), and my wise therapist Meirav saw the snakes as a possible symbol of the emerging memories I am afraid to look at.
The snakes were actual boxes of plastic snakes that my terrible housemate was storing in the room that I wanted to move into, and he wouldn’t move them because he was isolating, yes, I know, this is interesting, and his isolation is going to have to remain a story for another day because it is a different thread I want to follow here.
But yes, Meirav was not wrong, there was certainly no shortage of self-opening dusty boxes in my mind that I did not wish to peek into. You can always play “on another level”, with dreams, with boxes and with snakes.
Not afraid / afraid / not afraid
I am not afraid of the writhing in my consciousness, and I am not afraid of boxes.
My roommate, the one with the useless collection of garbage snakes, went over a cliff and died, and I was happy. Pure and unconflicted happiness. So maybe I am a little afraid of the part of me who rejoices easily in the demise of people I do not like, people who wish to cause me harm…
But maybe that’s why I channel an assassin, to teach me about what is neutral and what is not. She doesn’t find my anger too much. She doesn’t find anything about me too much.
I WILL DANCE AT YOUR FUNERAL, I shout in the direction of my neighbor with the semi truck.
C’mon, the assassin says. Morning is here. Let’s train. Meet you at the northeast window in twenty.
It is what it is and a breath for what is
I was back and forth on whether I would join my favorite yoga for immune support class this morning.
(The obvious pro being that this class always makes me feel better about everything, and it gets me to really deeply be with my breath in a way that I can almost never replicate in my own practice, and the minus being that I wasn’t sure if I had the energy for what felt like the absolutely massive effort required to put on clothing.)
But I made it to class aka to opening my tablet and briefly unmuting myself, and I participated in the parts that appealed to me, and did in fact feel much better, as predicted.
The theme for class was hey okay let’s just be with what is.
(Bow to what is, honor what is, because it just is, yes, here we are in the momentary truth of the moment.)
And I will be honest, that was really exactly what I needed to balance out all those extremely irritating classes on “can we just be graaaaaaateful”…
Neutral & loving
Being with what is means it is okay that I don’t know where my gratitude went, it’s okay that I don’t know where my focus went, it’s okay that I don’t agree that any of this is okay.
It’s neutral. It’s of the moment. And in noticing the moment, I am taking a snapshot of it, and I can be the photographer who finds beauty in everything.
I become the one who thinks everything is breathtaking, this moment, this breath, this light, worthy of capturing, worthy of noting and admiring.
A wonder, a hero and a star (1)
This is how the Assassin feels about this Havi who screams at the sky and rages uncontrollably at the howling wind, this Havi who wishes death and destruction upon 5am semi-truck driving neighbor, this Havi who cried off all her makeup two minutes after putting it on, this Havi who can get overwhelmed to the point of tears by a pile of dishes, or a list with more than three items on it.
The Assassin loves the Havi of each moment, because while each moment is neutral, Havi is a wonder in all of them, a wonder, a hero and a star.
This is why I like working with Incoming Selves, because they are neutral about everything but not about me, they love me unconditionally, in my moments and in my moments.
They want what is good for me, and they never judge when I fight it.
They see me, all of me, and they love me, always, fully and completely, unwaveringly, and I admire them for this, and they admire me for existing.
A wonder, a hero and a star (2)
This is what I say to my friends, and myself, all day, for accomplishing literally anything or for doing nothing at all.
A wonder, a hero and a star for getting out of bed. A wonder, a hero and a star for existing.
We are living with an exacerbated mental load that takes a toll (haha understatement, anything I could say about this is so trite and everyone has said it and also it’s true).
Literally if all this were a movie, we’d have long since given up watching, we would have thrown up our collective hands like, you know what, this is garbage, who wrote this, no one can suspend disbelief this much, the villains are too cruel, too vain and too foolish, the plot holes are tremendous, this is just laughably bad, an insultingly poor script, truly how did this straight to video disaster movie even get made?
And yet, here we are, in it, persisting, trying our best; wonders, heroes and stars.
Parade time, again
One of my favorite yoga people says, “Can we make the breath more fascinating than our thoughts?”
Sometimes I can, and sometimes I can’t, but the photographer of the moment lives inside that fascination.
Observing how I am navigating this Zombie Molasses Kryptonite Fatigue Fog.
Smitten by the light.
Naming & generating superpowers
(Which is itself the superpower of self-generating superpowers!)
Permission to skip gratitude practice is the superpower of Trusting That It Will Come In Right Timing.
Hand washing clothes in the sink is the superpower of The True Assassin who always has fresh garments, and The True Sorceress of the clear cauldron who always clears the cauldron for a new spell.
An unexpected thing that must be done no matter what is the superpower of the unexpected side quest. Can I delight in the side quest? Can I channel some sparks for discovery and anticipation and guess what is next?
Pausing for some slow gentle neck stretches is the superpower of soften and release to clear the channel.
SIDE NOTE! Neck stretches are also a way we can coax the enteric brain (gut wisdom) to communicate better with mission control brain wisdom, this is also a way to connect with Slightly Wiser Selves on the physical level, and I wrote about this for our course on Integrating Incoming Selves, which is actually the one thing I am very excited about, see, I knew there was something I am excited about!
In extreme zombie kryptonite molasses fatigue state…
In times of extreme zombie kryptonite molasses fatigue state, don’t break glass.
I made myself do dishes and I am a wonder, a hero and a star, and I lit incense, and I finished taking my vitamins.
That’s the level of fatigue I’m dealing with on the rough days, sometimes I get too tired taking vitamins to finish taking my vitamins. I do not need advice about this or diagnoses, that’s not why I’m sharing this. I’m sharing it because vulnerable honesty is the way I can be in a state of loving presence with you right now.
And I screamed at the wind again because it is so loud and I have not seen a person in nearly forty days and I really just need a hug but the nearest huggable person is a seven hour drive away, and I am busy trying to solve some mysteries here, and I don’t even know what I want.
What is the superpower in believing I don’t what I want?
Aha, it’s the power of [If you don’t know what you want, make a wish and go back to bed], which is honestly one of the all time best powers, a nap as a portal to healing.
This of course brought out the monsters of You Wasted Another Day, but that’s just the superpower of heyyy if we are already wasting this day let’s waste it in style!
And I was not able to sleep but Back To Bed was still the most luscious decadent life choice I could have made and therefore the best choice, I truly am a hero for these times.
Rest is healing, and I remain someone who makes good choices because whatever choice I made is the one the photographer lovingly photographed, with a deep sigh of approval.
An unexpected answer (an answering answer, a call and response)
I was pondering this ongoing conundrum of knowing that gratitude practice is not working for me in the moment.
And the practice of being with what is, well, I’m doing it, and it’s meaningful and important to me, and also it’s just fucking hard sometimes. And then we get to be with that? Yup! Good guess.
But then I was fortunate enough (and yes, grateful to) be able to take class with Chris Calarco, a favorite Portland teacher, and he spoke a clue directly to my innermost heart:
Come how you are. Maybe you’re here channeling strength and positivity, and maybe you’ve arrived from a state of collapse and despair, come and be, come be with it and with us, because Presence Is Medicine.
Yes, that’s the door for me.
Strengthening medicine (double meaning)
My presence, with everything, with myself, my moods, my fury, my breath, screaming at the wind, all the rest of it, all of this being-with is medicine.
And this act of presence-with-self will always strengthen me, bringing me just enough quiet clarity to feel into my next step.
My presence is medicine, my presence strengthens the medicine, and the strengthening medicine strengthens me.
What I do not know and what I know
I still am convinced I don’t know what I want, but I know that the path is pare down and glow up, and that the method is ritual ritual ritual.
The path is pare down and glow up.
The method is ritual and more ritual.
And also I bet I do know what I want, and I bet that it scares me a little.
So I will follow the path and trust the method, and my wish will reveal itself when I’m ready for it.
I almost didn’t write about this because it comes across as so trite, and that’s not how I mean it at all, but back to the theme of current reality as a movie that is so hilariously bad that it’s unwatchable….
This virus is literally named Crown. It is the crown virus, the living lesson of crown on, and because it has no treatment (yet), the only way to try and live through it is to glow powerful BOUNDARIES and Do Less.
Again, if this were a movie, you’d roll your eyes at the obnoxiously over-the-top symbolism.
Boundaries, boundaries and more boundaries. Ritual, ritual, and more ritual.
A training ground for learning to say BACK OFF. A training ground for deep rest. Am I saying these are good things? I am not saying that. I don’t like them either, I don’t like any of this. But it’s interesting.
Speaking of sparks of interest
In 2002 or 2003 I took a year-long yoga teacher training with the person who became my beloved mentor and then betrayed me, because he assumed I’d betrayed him first, which I would never do, and didn’t bother to check that assumption before acting on it, kinda seems like I might have more to say about that, though definitely not today.
Anyway, whoosh goodbye to so many things, the boring mysteries, the old stories, and let us draw focus back to what is sparking my interest here.
Back then, he was then more or less the age I am today, and at the time he was spending six months of the year in a monastery in Nepal, spending his days in meditation, doing prostrations for six hours a day, and I admired him tremendously, and I also remember thinking that no matter what unexpected twists and turns my life might take, it would never take me there.
And now here I am, living in utter solitude in a dome in the desert, forty three years old, I woke up and flipped off my neighbor, watched the sunrise, meditated, did close to two hundred sun salutations, cursed some more, cried some more, meditated some more, listened to an om echo through the dome. Resounding. Roundness in the round.
My life does not look like any version of it that I ever envisioned, and it does not look like the one I thought I was avoiding, but it is kind of funny that here I am anyway.
Isolation, prostrations, meditation, reverberation. The pillars of recovery. Or another possible version of that.
None of the people I thought would have my back did. None of the people I thought would be in my life forever are in my life now.
I also have truly wonderful friends who are so loving, supportive, hilarious, warm, and endlessly kind. They are for me, they always want my good, they think whatever I do is brilliant (yes, going back to bed, yes to crying for an entire day, get after that crying jag, you’re a star!), and, WAIT FOR IT, THERE IT IS, I am welling up with an overflowing grateful heart for the friendships in my life.
And, just as important, I am my own ally. I know that I am my own ally.
I am my own ally
When I have a brutal early morning panic episode over how expensive and terrifying quarantine is, combined with my complete lack of ability to focus on work projects or anything at all, my Incoming Selves show up with total love and total calm.
They hold a sea of love for me, they show me how to ride the trade winds of trust and wisdom when I can’t remember, and I keep repeating BABE YOU’VE GOT THIS / YOU ARE SAFE / YOU ARE LOVED / THIS IS SOLVABLE until I fall back asleep.
And maybe some of my monsters (self-criticism collective) disagree with most or all of these statements, but the thing about Incoming Selves is that they are here to love me unconditionally, to protect me and guide me, to help me do the things that quiet my mind until the next small indicated first step is revealed.
REST RESET RESTART
I like small Resets these days. Rolling my feet on the garnet orb that Melisa found at the gem show. Massaging Sophia’s oil into my hands.
I have not had a real human interaction in well over a month, other than whispering thank you to the masked man who put soup in the trunk of my car (now there’s a future no one envisioned, that’s the future liberals want!), and haha I have lots of in-jokes with myself now.
In-jokes with yourself. You can’t get more in than that!
The other day I asked the dome, Really though, who among us has not been conned by a fast talking Gemini, Leo or Aquarius with grandiose delusions, and the dome was like, yeah okay but most people don’t get conned by all three?
Then we laughed for like ten minutes.
It was really only funny to me, but it also only needed to be funny to me.
The soup from 5 Points Tucson was beyond, just astoundingly good soup. I absolutely feel grateful about the soup.
I am grateful to the masked man and to the soup-makers, and to Instagram, which is where I go to leave pictures of soup and sky, and occasional racy pics of Incoming selves because we like to do smoking hot photo shoots these days, and mainly I like it as a place to have brief sweet moments of connection and sharing.
I am thankful for all the loving clues and reminders that I find there and in nature that help me return to what’s important: rest, reset, restore, restart.
Rest and rest to restart. Start to restart. Restart to start.
Yes. Each reset is a restarting, but also it is just a starting.
A starting point. Leave everything you know behind.
Begin anew. Blank slate. New breath.
Speaking of thankful, I appreciate all of you who have been so patient and warm and loving in your interactions with me as I figure things out, and I am genuinely heart-overflowing grateful for everyone who’s been leaving appreciation money for me through Barrington’s Discretionary or buys something from the shop, you are the best, and I feel Safe & Loved & Appreciated every time someone does this, and these are such good things to feel.
And this generosity of heart-spirit and sharing is also helping me feel Reassured.
(A breath for all superpowers of This Is Doable, This Is Solvable, I Will Find The Path To The Clearing Again Or I Will Make A New Path Or There Will Be A New Clearing!)
Keep me company
I’m here, in the comments, let’s take some breaths and share some sharing.
I will also note that I wrote this piece a week ago and am doing better these last couple days, feeling more like my playful creative self, and having some good heart-spark moments of fullness, grateful for that too.
Anyway, I’m here. Maybe you just want to say hi, or maybe you want to share anything sparked for you while reading, or maybe you want to name some superpowers you’d like to call on and in for these challenging times.
(And if you want to join us in the course on Integrating Your Incoming Self, sale price is still a thing, so come on in, the water is warm!)
Presence is medicine, presence as medicine. It’s cool that we get to connect like this. I appreciate it. A lot.
And this is sanctuary space which means we don’t do care-taking and we don’t give advice, and we meet ourselves and each other with as much kindness as we can glow in the moment.