Personal ads. They’re … personal!
This week I am deep in the kaleidoscope of wishes.
With each slight movement of the kaleidoscope, the images and qualities reconfigure. Each variation is intimately connected to the one which preceded it, but also completely new and fully itself.
I want to give myself a container of spaciousness (this is not a contradiction) in which to leisurely observe all I am currently thinking about, without needing to document the connections, just trusting the interrelatedness of it all. Trusting the deep roots of the fractal flowers.
Or maybe I will just follow one thought and see where it goes…
A container of spaciousness.
I spent ninety minutes floating in a sensory deprivation tank the other day, because I am THE BRAVEST PERSON ON EARTH, but mainly because while searching for something else entirely, I happened upon a place that fits and even celebrates the way I am — which, interestingly enough, is exactly last week’s wish.
Suddenly I found myself in this marvelous, sweet, claustrophobe-friendly, permission-filled environment, a place that just glowed acceptance for people like me who feel UNDERSTANDABLY AND LEGITIMATELY hesitant about floating.
For one thing, they don’t need you to be the kind of person who is just ready to go straight into a dark silent tank of water, which frankly sounds kind of terrifying.
People who float always say it is so restful, and I nod, because the combination of deep quiet and weightlessness does sound kind of peaceful…
Except I’m ALSO thinking: Yeah I’m sure being trapped in some horrible coffin-womb while simultaneously feeling lost in outer space is extremely relaxing, how nice for you to be such a fearless person who can just hurl themselves into the abyss for fun, that is not me.
This place felt like it had been designed for someone like me, someone who already has enough trauma from [hard things] in life, and doesn’t need to ever experience anything terrifying again.
Anyone who has been to the Playground (the beautiful center I verb-ed in Portland for nearly five years) knows that I am a big believer in Safety First, and making new experiences comfortable and supportive for you, in the way that you need.
At this place, they think it’s absolutely okay to ease your way into floating.
You can wedge a towel between the door and the frame so soft light comes in. They remind you that it’s fine to exit the tank whenever you want. End the session early, take a break and have a hot shower, pause when you need to pause.
They talk about all the things I am passionate about: PLAY and CURIOSITY and taking time to explore your surroundings so you get a sense of where your body is in space, so you can feel safe letting go.
They let you know your time is up by piping relaxing music into the water, but they are also happy to knock on the door if you like that better.
And it worked.
I stood in the tank with the door open and then settled into the water with the door slightly ajar, with enough light to see my surroundings.
I let myself have as much time as I needed (which turned out to be maybe five minutes) establishing a clear sense of where my body was located in relation to the walls and the door, the space above me and below me and around me. I reassured my monsters and Tiny Me that we know exactly where the door is and how to open it.
We practiced closing our eyes and feeling what it would be like to be suspended in this state of darkness.
And I talked to the space, quietly, in my heart, and told it what I needed in terms of easing and releasing. I breathed qualities all around me. I asked the water and the salt to share with me their secrets of transmitting and of washing away.
And then I let the door close all the way, and allowed myself to sink into the darkness, using my fingers and toes to remind my body that we know exactly where we are, deep breaths, letting go.
What is a container of spaciousness.
It is something that is both cozy and expansive at the same time.
I came to floating with two fears — well, other than the fear of panic attacks, existential agony, getting trapped, giving up after five minutes, and a variety of flavors of Ludicrous Fear Popcorn related to truly ridiculous and impossible scenarios which I will not share with you because I don’t want you to have to add these fears to your list!
Mainly though I felt worried that I might feel trapped in an enclosed space, while simultaneously worrying about what if I feel lost and disoriented and unable to find the door.
I was delighted to discover that the tank had a wonderful coziness to it — I could float in the center, but I could also extend a limb in any direction and touch the steadiness of the edges. And it had a high sloping ceiling which gave a lovely sensation of plenty and spaciousness.
A container of spaciousness is river and banks of the river, it is voyage and ship, it is dreamland and cozy bed, it is being free and being held in loving arms, it is secret op and safe-house, it is liberty and sanctuary, it is adventure and home.
It is knowing that there is no contradiction: you are allowed to have both at once.
When I was little, my father used to ask me if I would rather be a bird or a tree.
I wanted BOTH, I didn’t want to choose, but that wasn’t allowed.
It was worse than that, actually, because this was secretly a trick question. The correct answer was tree, and he frowned if you chose bird, and told you why you were wrong. I always chose bird anyway.
You weren’t allowed to be a Flying Tree either, it had to be one or the other.
I didn’t want to have to choose between freedom and safety, soaring or grounding, adventure versus steadiness, between discovering new places or always knowing that you are home.
And gradually I acquiesced to this false belief that you can only have one, or that you can only have one at a time.
Each of us learns or acquires this untruth in our own unique ways but somehow we all end up thinking that we are only allowed to have X and not Y, that the elements of our desires cannot ever co-exist, that we have to choose, we have to give up on what we want in order to have what we want.
Flowers for Tiny Me, flowers for my father, flowers for the courageous process of decolonizing and deprogramming, flowers for everyone who has ever had to make a choice, flowers for refusing to choose.
I have spent my whole life circling around this and inside of this, resisting and succumbing to the familiar melody, to borrow that perfect image from the poet Natan Alterman:
“That melody still returns again, the one you tried in vain to neglect, and the road is still splayed open to its full length…”
That is my very inexact translation of an impossibly beautiful sentence. When he describes the road as open, he uses a word that is specifically used to describe eyes opening. The road is expanding, awakening, like a person.
It’s a poem about the intense passionate call of the road that pulls you to move and explore and experience things, and at the same time you miss the sweetness of the green grove of trees, a woman in her laughter, the place of belonging and love. And how whenever you have one, you long for the other, but you cannot stay because you need to be free, but oh how you miss your lover and so you return, but then the melody comes for you again.
The American version of this theme is the cowboy, I think.
Eventually I realized that my dilemma is not in fact a dilemma.
Eighteen years ago Meirav asked me:
“What if it is actually a continuum? What if you don’t have to choose?”
That was a helpful starting point. I played with exploring roads and with building a home. I swung this way and that. I tested out different recipes, different combinations of freedom and shelter. I pushed edges and then retreated.
Later I realized that of course this is about Qualities, and qualities, being aspects of the divine, not only can co-exist, they must. They just do.
There is no Freedom without Safety, there is no such thing as Adventure without Sanctuary.
And then from there I began to work with permission to Want What I Want, in this very practice of weekly wishing, which helped me see that there is no dilemma, there is only the appearance of a dilemma, a mystery to explore.
And lately I have been combining qualities like ingredients, and noticing how the flavors enhance each other: what at first might seem an unlikely combination can be intensely powerful, deeply healing.
Sweet savory contradictions that aren’t contradictions at all.
Last week I talked about the superpower of FIERCE GRATITUDE (thank you, Carrie Ann Moss), which is a perfect example of a unique and unlikely flavor combination.
Then I mixed more ingredients to come up with SWEET COURAGE, which is how I ended up at the most loving and supportive place to experiment with floating, which takes place in CONTAINED SPACIOUSNESS.
I want to be a beautifully anchored wanderer: roaming and stable, rooted and free.
I want LANGUID ADVENTURING and JOYFUL STILLNESS, and glorious permission to be so many things at once.
What am I noticing about my wishes?
I can feel so many previous wishes in this. Like the theme of adding being to doing: Ha and Tha, sun and moon. Accommodating my sensitivities (and my sometimes snail-like pace of learning) with kindness.
This is about loving all of me, and taking care of all of me, as I am. This is about advocating for myself, being intentional about how care for myself, choosing supportive environments.
Also big passion for social justice, passion that begins in my cells and expands outward: starting with being more present in my own space and then glowing these qualities into the world.
And appreciation for everything that got me here: flowers for everyone.
You are invited to share many !!!!!! about my wishes and realizations here, to share anything sparked for you while reading, to say “oh wow, what beautiful wishes” to me and to each other, to wish your own wishes.
Thinking about the Alterman poem made me think of the song version of it that Berry Sacharof did, which made me think of his collaboration with Fortis — Fortisacharof, which has to be the most Israeli album of all time, for me at least.
I am sitting in my living room on the couch, listening to the song Nitzotzot, and in my mind I am behind the bar, it’s Friday evening in Tel Aviv, I can feel the sun setting over the Mediterranean a few blocks away, the bar is mostly empty, everything is quiet.
I look up from my memory, back in my living room in Portland, and my friend who is dead is perched on top of the couch, the cigarette in his mouth is unlit because I don’t let him smoke in the house. He takes it out and smiles at me and says, “You are a vessel of light, and a vessel of light contains everything”, and then he wanders outside to smoke.
What does Slightly Future Me have to say?
Ze: You can combine ANYTHING you want, my love! You are the queen of tree-birds and bird-trees, you build entire worlds where things can co-exist!
Me: Sometimes I wonder if it’s good for me though, maybe I’m just oscillating.
Ze: You are an explorer and a Grand Adventuress, and you are also deeply committed to taking exquisite care of yourself. That’s not oscillating, that’s exploring and claiming your kingdom of wholeness.
Me: Sometimes it seems like people just want me to be one thing: sweet and spiritual, or wild and fun, or whatever. Like they can’t handle it that I am all of it.
Ze: Who cares what they want or what you think they might want. Your explorations are treasure, for everyone, whether they or you know it or not. Trust.
This week has overflowed with clues for me, but what I want to remember is hearing a woman saying to someone, “Take special care”, her voice glowing warmth and presence, as if this was the most important thing she could possibly say.
The superpower of this is a badass way to live.
This is a badass way to live.
Giving myself permission to be all of me, in beautiful and seemingly-contradictory ways, to ease into new places, to grant myself extra safety, to take off and come back and give myself what I need. What if wild self-love and radical self-acceptance and meeting myself where I am is actually more badass than I think?!
Things I find helpful for intentions and wishes…
Adventure. Rest. Horizons. Security. Passion. Sweetness. Clarity. Presence.
Progress report on past Very Personal Ads.
So. Last week aka As I am…
I made many wishes and they were all useful. This week I practiced asking people to teach me things in a way that suits how I learn, and they were so happy to have extra information about what I need, instead of thinking it was annoying that I asked.
Thank you, process of writing about wishes. Thank you, me who asked.
Keep me company! Or just say hi!
You can deposit wishes, gwishes, personal ads, superpowers, qualities, seeds, secret agent code, whatever you’d like, there’s no right way! Updates on past experiments are welcome too, as is sharing anything sparked for you.
Comment culture: This is safe space for creative exploration. We are on 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.