Sei sup mmmmmmmmm: ripple in still water.

I wanted to write tonight. I took care of all the things I needed to take care of today and I was all ready to give myself time to sit and write. But I couldn’t. I mean, obviously I could have in a literal fingers-to-keys kind of way, but not in a metaphorical making-meaning(ful)-meaning kind of way.

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung,
Would you hear my voice come through the music?
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

I wanted to write about this video I took from JM’s car in Paris this summer.

I wanted to write about something satisfying. Like about taking a group of high school seniors to listen to a conversation with US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer on a Friday night and having them come out of the talk and say, “He is all about the Social Contract, isn’t he?”

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But, no.

I suppose if I were a writer, I would say I had writer’s block. But I am not really a writer, am I? Only in so far as one with an Instagram is a photographer, or one who goes to church is a Christian (I wanted to write about the Pope too, because I cannot get enough of the Pontiff.) Instead, I sat. I considered meditating, but I didn’t want to make the cat move, and I sort of suck at meditation anyhow.

It’s a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken,
Perhaps they’re better left unsung.
I don’t know, don’t really care
Let there be songs to fill the air.

I turned 45 this week. I sat with that for a while. 45. Forty five. Cuarenta y cinco. Sei sup mm. Fifty minus five.

Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow.

Maybe that is why I can’t think of anything good to write. Maybe by the time you get to be this age, you are supposed to have a whole bunch of real things to write about, and here I sit with my immaculate home and my two cats and some loud Eighties music in my unbearably hip neighborhood, and no typical accomplishments like husbands and divorces and kids and shit to write about.

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty,
If your cup is full may it be again,
Let it be known there is a fountain,
That was not made by the hands of men.

I was born in 1970. Do you know how long it takes to scroll to that year when you are filling out your birthdate on-line? You have to pick your finger up off the touch pad at least twice. That shit is crazy. Nixon was the president and my Grandma M tried cocaine. That would have been something to see.

In 1970 things were pretty fucked up.

I came of age in the 1980s. Do you know how accidentally iconic the Eighties have become? What I know recall about the Eighties could feather your hair. I still love the music, hipsters still love the fashion. We are all still paying for the politics.

In the 1980s things were pretty fucked up.

I got some education in the 1990s: formal and otherwise. Do you think everyone assumes the time they opened their minds is the more relevant than that of others? I don’t know, but a lot of shit happened in the nineties. And then at the end of 1999 the world didn’t end and I think a lot of people thought that was pretty fucked up

I had my mid-life crisis in the mid-90s. Which makes sense because I never really thought I would live very long (which is kind of dumb of me because the women in my family tend to live a very long time.) For whatever reason my mid-life dramz kicked off at 34. It took me about four years to sort that shit out.

Mid-life crises are pretty fucked up.

There is a road, no simple highway,
Between the dawn and the dark of night,
And if you go no one may follow,
That path is for your steps alone.

On the weekend leading up to my birthday I met someone who is in her mid-30s and appears to be on track to have a midlife crisis just like mine. (Apparently it’s not just movies and politicians from the decade that never go away.) I told her I had to sail away to China to deal with it. She did not get the musical reference, but I am fairly certain she is on board with the rest of it. I predict she breaks up with her boyfriend before the end of this year (not due to my counsel, mind you – I am not a meddler, just a sharer.)

Maybe the reason this birthday isn’t sitting so well with me is that I don’t have anything to be in crisis about because I already got all destructive and ridiculously reckless ten years ago and so it feels empty of purpose. I emerged from my midlife crisis down one Wal-Mart-shopping boyfriend and one suburban tract house, but as my kids would say: I am not about that life.

Life in with the suburbs was pretty fucked up.

You, who choose to lead, must follow
But if you fall you fall alone.
If you should stand then who’s to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home.

This week was my fifth repatriated birthday. The birthday itself was not particularly eventful, but at this point in one’s life, that seems like a win. A dear friend I have known since the 8th grade said to me, “I hope you feel how much you are loved.” Yes, L, I did. And here I am, in a great city, with great hair, a few new wrinkles, amazing friends, no involuntary responsibilities, and I am alive.

Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow.

So, happy birthday to me: good hair, good shoes, wrinkles, and a potty mouth, but crisis free. That’s livin’: L-I-V-I-N.

That seems like a lot to write about.

I’ll get back to writing in no time, I am sure.

“It’s the little differences.”

The first morning I woke up in Paris, I was up before everyone. (I was generally up before everyone always, although Nic would end up giving me a run for the money.) I sort of laid there where I was, in the upstairs bedroom in JM’s chateau in the suburbs, Clamart to be precise, and thought to myself : I CANNOT BELIEVE I AM IN PARIS.

Okay, fair play, I was just outside of Paris, but for all intents and purposes I was IN PARIS.

And it was sunny.

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This first day was supposed to be a “planning day” for Frenchie and me so we could work out our desires and priorities before meeting up with Nic and her sister the next day, but first I was going to go meet a friend who was coincidentally laid over in Paris en route to Dominica from the UAE. [Having friends for which sentences like that are apt is so awesome.] I wanted to see Rachel because she and I are friends entirely due to Stuart, and for reasons I am not interested in articulating here, we share a certain understanding of the bloke.

To see Rachel I would head out to Orly Airport so as to keep things as simple as possible for someone moving to the other side of the world with their young child. JM offered to take me there, so I would only need to self-navigate one way, which was kind. Frenchie and I arranged to meet at a fountain near the Notre Dame. How hard could that be? I mean, a fountain in Paris, right?

Yeah.

I had gleaned from the previous evening that JM enjoyed the excitement of vehicular delights, and so when he pointed to his motorcycle and I looked down at my black mini dress, I determined that all bets were off on wise choices. He handed me a helmet and I sighed with relief to know that my cranium would be safe and probably only 90% of my flesh would go missing should a mishap occur on what google maps said would be a forty minute ride.

He grinned reminding me entirely too much of Peter Fonda’s Captain America as I hopped on the bike. It would be fine, I reasoned. I mean, he has made it to 40 – and has a family. He doesn’t want to die.

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The ride to Orly was pretty easy surface streets and highways and under beautiful sunny skies. I focused a lot on the sky. It turns out JM does not like to be behind other vehicles on the road, and he sure as shit is not going to be passed by a motorcycle. A couple of times he looked back to ask if everything was okay. I hope in my efforts to be completely cool about all potential outcomes, I hadn’t inadvertently Heimlich’d him. To be fair it actually was a fun ride. I mean, I like roller coasters a lot.

When we arrived at the airport (in approximately twenty minutes) I stepped off the bike and took my hair out of the helmet while adjusting my LBD. No lie, I felt pretty glamorous. Like, here I was coming in hot (in every way) and hopping off a bike driven by a super cute guy, with no luggage and heading into the airport, as if I might be heading off on some crazy spontaneous get away. That could be an great scene in a bad romcom.

And the best thing about black is your sweat doesn’t show, which is awesome.

Although, it does show where one’s thighs were gripping the sides of a black leather seat on a motorcycle. And the strap of the helmet got a little caught up in my windswept hair, so my reverie ended rather quickly as JM sped away.

Entering the airport, I logged into the wifi – which is free everywhere in Europe, as it bloody well should be in America – to check where I would meet up with Rachel. We settled on Laudurée. Tres French. Plus, macrons; like cookies, but a little different.

The catch up was short and sweet and a wonderfully playful bit of punctuation on the Stuart Saga. we laughed a lot, and Rachel remarked how she just knew he would try to take credit for everything were he there because, yes, he was such a cheeky bastard.

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And like that we said adieu and headed on our separate ways. Another perfect rendezvous accomplished.

So now, to get back to Paris and a fountain.

I found someone who graciously directed me to the Orly bus, which would get me to the RER, which in turn would get me to central Paris. Stepping out I saw there was a bus there – fantastique! I would get on that bus and be on my way. I proceeded to the ticket machine; like those I had seen before, but a little different.

And then, I missed the bus.

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The machine now seems simple, but like so many things, it’s the little differences in Paris, and this weird quasi touch screen with a roller mechanism… just really did not present itself as an obvious option at the time. To be fair the three guys behind me were French and had no freaking clue how to make the machine work either. By the time I eventually got a ticket I would be waiting more than twenty minutes for another bus.

Merde.

But, the bus ride was easy, and I kept telling myself that Frenchie would wait for me, I mean, to my knowledge she has not been on time to anything since I have known her, and this includes her own events. I was not getting a sim card because I had my American iPhone, which of course is locked, because: America. This meant old school meet ups like we did in the 80s: make a plan and stick to it. It was refreshing.

Until you were 45 minutes late.

On arriving to Sainte Michel with ease I came out of the metro station and promptly turned the wrong way. I include the map below as a weak explanation. Emerging from the RER in the foreground left, I walked towards the intersection and made a right towards the Notre Dame because that is what everyone was doing. I surmised there would be a fountain there. And yes, there was. A multitude. But alas, no Frenchie – or not the Frenchie I was looking for.

I walked in literal circles – well trapezoids if we are really being literal – for nearly a half an hour. Paris urban planning is a little different.

And nothing.

Retracing my steps I headed back towards the RER where the Fountaine Sainte Michel practically screamed at me with its obviousness. Huh. Perhaps that fountain then? I walked toward the fountain and headed left (towards the M in the rear right of the diagram) where I saw a cafe and heard “Amanda?” in English, but a little different.

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It was Nickie, seated with her sister, and Frenchie (whose head had been down as she was trying to figure out the wifi to contact me – the figuring out of the wifi would also be a theme of this trip). I was shocked, relieved, delighted, amazed, happy, hot, and thirsty. It was a lot to take in, but I really could not believe we were all sitting here, like the three of us had so many times before, but a little different.

Frenchie and I were supposed to meet Nic the next day as she and her sister would be staying the night in Paris to rest after the flight from Oz. But Frenchie had been nearly as late as I had (!!) and so she had been worried about me as I am generally painfully punctual and she had been walking around the now so obvious to me (like the roller thing) fountain when she had randomly bumped into our Aussie companions. Incroyable!

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This happy circumstance totally shifted the day – a planning session would not happen, but phones and strolling the streets of Paris and rosé and catching up would. In what seemed like another lifetime, three women in Hong Kong had made a promise to meet in Paris five years on, and here we were. Same same, but, a little bit different.

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We finished our day a top the Tour Montparnasse as a small reminder of where we were. In case anyone had forgotten.

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I believe in the good things coming.

I believe in the good things comin’, comin’, comin’ comin’
I believe in the good things comin’, comin’, comin’ comin’
Out of darkness lion heart pumpin’, pumpin’, pumpin’
Into white light all things runnin’, runnin’, runnin’ runnin’
Who have I been, who am I becomin’?
Come in, come in, come in
Deep breaths for a young man learnin’, learnin’, learnin’
Take a walk with the cedars hummin’,
Cityscape, pink sunset stunnin’
Every empty space is fitting’, every fire kindle burnin’

The San Francisco morning today is glorious. Truly, the kind of morning that gives a person pause and makes you wonder how a sky can really be that blue. It is cold and quiet and still (not always the case in my neighborhood) and I am warm in my tiny apartment surrounded by cats, light, music, and the smell of strong coffee. I feel rested (pretty much), and healthy (mostly), and interested in what another new year might reveal.

The New Year always brings with it the collective desire to reflect, recall, project, plan… hope, I suppose. Or at least for me it does. I love the new year like I love the start of a new school year, (and the upcoming lunar new year as well, if I need a quick opportunity to have a 2015 mulligan… and if that fails, there is always Songkran) because there is this sense of a fresh start and yadda, yadda, yadda. The funny thing is – the reality (because reality IS funny) – is that this sense of a fresh start is available anytime, right? I mean, every spiritual teaching, 12-step program, life coach, preacher, teacher, whatever… has been saying this forever (maybe Buddha didn’t, but he probably knew it.)

Still, there is something culminating and bigger about the turning of the calendar year that I know I will always choose to embrace.

This year feels very different to me. I get it on some levels… Last year on New Year’s Eve I said a forceful goodbye to the Cowboy – now #6 – and had a lot of alone time in the transition from 2013 to 2014 to consider how it was again that I found myself in such an unpleasant predicament. (Yeah, yeah, yeah… lessons not learned… I know.) But I am unclear (in an optimistic way) about what it is about 2015 that feels so different. Maybe it is, as Jung said, that “life really does begin at 40, up until then you are just doing research” and as the traditionalist that I am, I had to complete a four year program of study to work shit out. Regardless, it feels different.

In some ways I played a lot of the same mental games this year that I have long been working to overcome – fretting over not being good enough at work, body issues, looking for love in all the wrong places – how fucking banal. But I do feel like these particulars have been less significant, or at least I have been able to look more objectively at the ridiculousness, and walk away.

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In other ways this year was devastatingly different than years past. Perhaps it is related to age, perhaps it is a consequence of the life I have lived and the experiences I’ve been offered, but this year was colored with loss in ways I was not prepared for – if you ever are.

In May Stuart died. This touched me in surprising and important ways. It was also a catalyst to halting another relationship I had come to depend on in (likely) unhealthy ways. It was a transformative experience to be judged for my honest and deep feelings around this loss, and it taught me that authenticity matters more than reception, and that was immeasurably cathartic. Nothing good gets away.

This November, while at our fall student retreat in the Marin Headlands, I was talking with my team and noted that my life since returning from Hong Kong had been so uniform in its distribution of loss: I had lost someone very significant in every school year since I had come home. My first year back I said good bye to my grandmother. My second year, a person who had been a sister to me in some ways because her brother – also no longer with us but will always remain the Hunter to my Thompson, was violently taken from us in a story that still rings incompatible with the ideas I hold about my life. In my third year back, I lost a cousin in literal ways, although he had left us metaphorically years before, but whose death in its mystery and isolation cut deep. Then there was Stuart. I said to my colleagues, not lightly, that it gave me pause to think about what this school year would hold.

Less than two weeks later, over the Thanksgiving weekend, I found out a college classmate and friend had died suddenly leaving a wife and three young children behind, a long time friend from Lamma had died – home and alone, and my friend Sue, someone I considered a kindred spirit in so many ways during my Hong Kong transformation, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I was stunned as I sat with all the news in my parents’ kitchen in Petaluma.

So I suppose it is not without reason that I sit quietly at this new year and wonder what will come.

Suddenly, maintaining something – anything! – simply because it is how it’s always been done, or it is safe – or, god… the most horrible adjective I heard this year to describe a life: it is sustainable – seems not just uninspired, but… terminal.

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I am ready for big changes, while knowing nothing comes easy. I am ready to let go and really see what is on offer. Because, really what other choice is there?

So what of 2014? Well, according to Facebook it was something like this:

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I guess that captures a lot of it: LIFE. LOVE. FEAR. REMEMBER. ACCEPT. FEEL. AMAZING. BETTER. SOMETIMES. WORK. SAY. SOMETHING. CHOICE. PEOPLE. YOGA. FRIENDS. STUDENTS. TEACHER. GRATEFUL. CARE. TOMORROW. PERSPECTIVE. EXPERIENCE.

According to Instagram it was something like this:

And truly, I am – to a degree – a sum of these parts. But like everyone you meet… I also am more than that.

I am more than the solitary girl taken by surprise as I found myself again on my own on the eve of 2014, and although so relieved and happy for it, deeply sad. January got into dark corners as I emptied what I hope will be the last storage space I have to deal with for a very long time, took me back as I pawed through old photos and had two new years in one month as the lunar new year fell on the 31st. The symmetry was necessary.

I am more than the girl who went home to watch her coach in his regular season finale on the home court all these years later, with one of the best friends a person could ask for by her side, reminding her all the while that everything is only what it is. February was brief, dark, busy with field trips and shitty professional evaluations, papers to grade, cats to pet.

I am more than the girl who had to bust some of her favorite students for smoking weed at our overnight retreat and only wanted to retreat herself. March, as it does, brought with it the promise of spring break… if we could just get through. There were moments I was unsure of the outcome and in my struggle I recalled the words of some of my heroes… HST, Bukowski, OkGo… This too shall pass. And it did.

I am more than the girl who took an extra spring break – first going to the Pacific Northwest and catching up with a traveling companion from Europe ’93 while melting into my second family on Fox Island, and second, heading to Indio to return to Coachella. April seemed like a reward I was unsure I deserved for something I was unsure I had done. This precariousness would manifest with a vengeance in May.

I am more than the girl who sat with the news of the death of the man who had asked her if she would “stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back?” And warned her to stay clear of pirates though he was one… and shook with grief. May showed me that there are those who will always be there for you regardless of time or distance, in the best or worst times, and there are those who will not. And when things seem worse than you can imagine, there is always another music festival to go to in order to restore your spirits: De La Soul is not dead.

I am more than the girl who got out of another school year alive, and with some noteworthy successes along the way. With June came the euphoria of another summer break. Yoga, the Petaluma fair, Oakland A’s baseball, time with mom, and gorgeous weather all served to remind me that great rewards will only ever come from concentrated effort, and that is okay.

I am more than the girl who knew at the core of her being that it was time to return to Hong Kong, to Lamma, to the family who had taught her that she was a true citizen of the world and launched her into a previously unknown realm of possibility. July found me in other roles I was unaware I would take on but was glad to be available for friends and family in deep and important ways… and ever grateful that they were there for me too. I was definitely feeling Fancy from SF to Hong Kong-o.

I am more than the girl who made the most of her last weeks before returning to school at Outside Lands and in the wild outsides of North Idaho, places I had not visited since 2010. August was healing, and familial, and musical, and fun-sicle. Unless you were a young black man. There were bikers, unicorns, beers, sunsets, earthquakes… and police shootings. I went back to school with a great manicure, without a principal, and in the wake of another young black man dead at the hands of the state.

I am more than the girl who got to add one more year to her life repertoire as the fall equinox arrived. September is a month I always love – and not just for the birthday it brings with it – but I love the segue into fall weather, the ever-optimistic return to school. In some ways it has an appeal to me in the same way January does. This September I had the chance to have lovely dinner dates; to be reminded of the beauty of Tahoe – a place I called home for nearly a decade; to witness the unprecedented demise of my much loved baseball team; to garner my 15 minutes of fame as a featured educator on television for my work integrating technology into the classroom, to see more live music, and to watch the Umbrella Revolution unfold in Hong Kong. It was a full month.

I am more than the girl who remains optimistic about love in the face of ridiculous disappointments. October was incredibly full with festivals and field trips, fleet week and sailing on the Bay, and of course the total destruction of my lovely neighborhood (again) as a response to the SF Giants winning the World Series (again.) I took 20 students to see Anita Hill speak truth to power, I saw Lena Dunham speak, met up with friends and one of my bebe cousins at HSB in the park. The month was punctuated by meeting someone seemingly transformative at TIMF. I suppose he was transformative really, though hardly in the way advertised.

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I am more than the girl who was asked, “are you the one? are you the one? and will you wait for me… to see if my life is sustainable?” November brought the hope of the holidays along with this other strange element of hope. But as one of my yoga teachers, Samrat Gupta, warned long ago: beware the euphoric highs… they will be met with equal lows. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Elections (low), field trips and class speakers (high); connecting with someone in a truly unique way (high), being devastated by news of the loss and suffering of dear friends (low); being called to speak about the Ferguson decision on the radio (high), the Ferguson decision (low). November was the penultimate teacher I would face this year… and she was tough. But December would be even more challenging.

I am more than the girl who, in some kind of symmetry – found herself rocked by the male of the species again at the end of the year, but quickly saw the insignificance of that as cancer took one of my soul sisters on the Winter Solstice. December, always frantically busy, was next level for me this year, which is not necessarily a bad thing – but it certainly is a tiring thing. Getting out of school by the skin of my teeth, saying a long goodbye to dear friends who will set sail for places unknown in the very near future, art exhibitions, concerts, parties, Vegas, family, family, family, friends, my hometown. It was so full – and my responses to this fullness were not always right, or healthy, or wise… but I daresay they taught me a thing or two.

I am more than the sum of my parts.

I am all of this along with the gifts left by those gone too soon, the legacy (and lunacy) of my extended family, the strength of my body, the unknown trajectory of my professional direction. And I am more even than the clear intentions I am taking into this new year with me:

Some people say we should not look back, only forward. I am not sure. Maybe it is the historian in me, but I think acknowledging the past is crucial for our ability to make sense and purpose of our present and future. I go forward with hope and clarity that I’ve not felt in a long time, and for that I am grateful for the rather harsh lessons that 2014 brought down upon my head somewhat like a certain silver hammer.

I am ready for you 2015.

 

This is for Stu and Sue and all the rest we lost too soon. 

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More pages more words to my story, more grace, more meaning unfoldin’
Take a drive rain park cascadia
Feel the warmth in my cold hear radiant
Two shakes and I’m feelin’ weightless
Heart aches but its actually painless
Take a vow in the Pale moonlight, moonlight, moonlight
Take a look at myself through my third eye..
Everything’s already alright, always alright, always alright…

You hate to write and that hurts me…

“Oh my gaawwwwwd. I hate writing!”

This extended, full-bodied, overly punctuated declaration, emanates with strength, but not actual malice from one of the most vociferous students I teach. The irony of her simultaneous loquacious nature and proclaimed disdain for the words that allow for this is not lost on me. But at the moment it reminds me of all the things I have been thinking as I read page after page after page of forced reportage on subjects ranging from bioethics to drone usage, reproductive rights to media consolidation, the disappearance of empathy as a result of internet use to wealth disparity. Amazing and interesting (and self-selected!) subjects all. And still the writing… it  reads like the pained prostrations of an injured (or maybe insolent) child.

When I turn to my student, one who always says to me, ‘Why do you use such big words?’ [To which I always say, ‘Because why not? What else could be more powerful, surreptitious, surprising, thought-provoking, amusing… all at the same time?’] I remind her, as I do in so many situations, that her hate, her vitriol, is always a choice.

How can you hate writing? I think as I reflect on her spoken words, (and the abused lexical orphans I have been trying to salvage in the papers I have been reading.) You, who have taken every freedom these words have offered you, changing them, reshaping and redefining them. You objectify and adjectify. You noun verbs and adjectivize nouns. You coin neologisms with a wondrous recklessness. That’s suss; wet; trifling. They have allowed you to do this in order for you to show your best, most creative, most unique, charming and interesting self. They speak for you, they let you do things to them, anything you need!

How can you hate writing? I wonder as I look at this young lady who has explained to me the nuanced differences between ratchet (the adjective not the verb or the noun) and ghetto (the adjective – of course – not the noun). This same strong woman so wildly influenced by tone – yours and hers.

How can you hate writing? I wonder as I see in her face a wide open future we both genuinely hope for. How else will you be able to leave the legacy you dream of if no one has the ability to write it down, to find the perfect words that can capture all that is you?

That is why I use all those big words, I think.

Charming
Dazzling
Fascinating
Splendid
Magnificent
Beautiful
Bewitching
Statuesque
Pulchritudinous!

She smiles and she knows, and this is how I know her earlier attestation is frivolous, flash, perfunctory even. She doesn’t hate writing, she just hasn’t got to know it yet.

And I get back to reading the essays. And the first magnificent paragraph my eyes fall upon begins thusly:

In the near future, we may no longer have to subject our children to the random flurry of the genetic lottery. In fact, thanks to the fascinating advances of modern science, people today can cherry pick certain biological traits for their potential future offspring.

Perhaps we are going to be alright after all.

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108.

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The Summer Solstice was yesterday. Most hours of daylight all year for us in the Northern Hemisphere, and we were not disappointed in San Francisco, that is for sure. It was sunny and warm, even at Ocean Beach. And the light did last long. It was a pretty day and lots of people did lots of super spiritual things to emphasize the day and the significance of the day. I imagine there was much thought to new beginnings and letting in the light, and doing innumerable sun salutations, and getting in touch with one goddess or another, or preaching about the right way to live (don’t eat this, don’t drink that, believe this, do that, be like Me to be happier, be like him to be happier, look at me look at me look at me)to achieve a higher self, or better understanding, or… something.

I am not absent a good sense of irony here. After all, yesterday I planned to write about how I have begun a yoga challenge (108 days of yoga) and I felt like I wanted to go on this big explanation of the significance of the number 108, which of course I investigated when I started wondering about all these people obsessed with doing not 30, not 100, not 365, (all numbers that held more obvious logic to me) but 108 days. I was planning on writing about this and how it was all spiritual and coincidental and (self) important. The significance of the number is interesting, but like so many things the meaning it takes on depends on how you might be feeling at any given moment. [The individual digits comprising 108 represent one thing, nothing, and everything (infinity), representing the belief that the ultimate reality of the universe as being (paradoxically) simultaneously one, emptiness, and infinite.] It suddenly seemed overly self-conscious, and  totally cliché.

My writing has become more and more self-conscious is this medium, which for me compromises authenticity. I cannot tell you how many people have gotten on my case about things I have written, or even considered writing about, here. Everyone has advice, an opinion… an accusation of motive. But really, when I started blogging and was very aware that no one was reading it, I was writing for myself. For catharsis and, frankly, more often than not, to make myself laugh. Maybe to record my version of a memory or story that I didn’t want to forget, which also usually cracked me up. I treated it like it was just about me, it is my blog after all. Following lots of instances of critique, criticism, and actual hurt feelings, it turns out, even the most self-indulgent writing a person can do – blogging – is not really an individual activity. It has an effect on others. One – nothing – everything.

The temporary nature of things is an interesting conundrum – after all it is what might compel me to tell a story here (which, by the way are all true insofar as I remember them… so we can say, all based on actual events) because I want to remember something inherently temporary. The temporary nature of things also offers us the chance to remain sane: nothing lasts forever. Thank fuck for that. The temporary nature of things also allows us an excuse for lots of things that should not really be excusable. Example, my constant mental debate: I will just throw away this recyclable item this one time because I really want to dispose of the trash and I don’t feel like finding the recycle receptacle. No, if you throw one recyclable item away, and everyone on the planet throws one recyclable thing away, then where are we? But it is just this once, I will recycle forever more. And on and on it goes, generally until I take the shit to the recycling bin. Throwing away trash, while momentary, seems much less temporary somehow.

But, with the nothing lasts forever, and everything is temporary attitude, no one seems really concerned with long-term stuff. Live in the moment, people say. Do what makes you happy, people say. Embrace the now, people say. And in so doing, relinquish responsibility for the future we face. Rather than consider that there may be consequences to things, even if categorical proof is absent, people say, No. No, that is not a problem. It is not a problem because it is not a problem right now. And if it is not a problem right now, why should I believe it will be a problem then? [A more animal brain based instinct would say if there is a potential to cause catastrophe, that should be enough to avoid something….]

Because after all, you keep saying nothing lasts forever. Even you yoga challengers… after 108 days, then what?

Temporary. (One)

Everything with an expiration date. (Nothing)

But not. (Everything)

Regardless of the temporary nature of anything, there is some logic to the infinite nature of things. Would doing 108 days of yoga change you definitively? Lorentz would say yes. If every person on the planet stopped littering would it make a difference? If we chose to consider that it was possible that our influence on the global climate could potentially cause us great harm and therefore we tempered all our behaviors contributing to said change, would it make a difference? Is it worth it?

When you look at it like that, it is pretty clear that the ideas tied up in the spiritual explanation of 108 are getting at something pretty important. It goes like this:

  • In separation from ourselves we achieve unity.
  • So, why can’t we just take care of our own selves and then its all good? a student asked me.
  • I mean, it is logical to say, I’m doing the right thing, so I’m fine.
  • But we are not fine, even if you temporarily are – just have a look.
  • Well, this problem is not mine, it is not me, I am not doing that.
  • It is their fault. I blame them.
  • I dont’ kill sharks, abuse animals, poach endangered species, allow fracking, overly depend on fossil fuels, throw trash in the ocean, blow second-hand smoke in people’s faces, support the international drug cartels, endorse unfair labor practices, purchase inhumanely produced food, GMO food, use plastic. I am not homeless, in debt, obese, greedy, myopic. I recycle, reuse, reduce, buy organic, contribute to charities, give money to those in need when I can, spay and neuter my pets, spread awareness of issues, vote. I do the right things.
  • But everyone says that.
  • And we are not okay.

Which seems like the best evidence that, in fact, the paradox is true in our separateness we are united – like it or not – tied to each other. And while change happens and everything good or bad may be temporary – this connection is a dynamic reality.

I am still going to do the 108 days of yoga (today is day 9), because it will make a difference, possibly temporary, maybe not, in my life. I probably wont think about it being about the paradoxical relationship between separation and union, or nothing and everything, but it you never know, it might show me something about myself or the universe that is super important. I am also going to continue to recycle and try to act conscientiously – even though every day it seems harder to do anything at all while trying to do the right thing. I mean, really what can I buy to eat that is not killing me, the planet, a far off indigenous culture, the habitat of endangered species, wantonly destroying farmed animals by the cruel millions, supporting labor exploitation, dependence on fossil fuels, contributing to economic injustice, gender inequality, social violence, social stigma…. it is paralyzing on a good day.

well informed vs sane

And maybe thinking about all these things will help me to be more gentle in my life. Then again it might not.

But the possibility seems worth respecting.

Well… How did I get here?

You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
You may find yourself in another part of the world
You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife
You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

I have not published in a month. Many reasons for this [time, fatigue, distraction, WordPress insisting that I pay them for more space over here, work, elections, emotions, you know. Life.] So, now here I am with a new url and everything. Well, not everything.

It was kind of weird setting up a new page, I mean, I get a little attached to things.

You know?

It was a challenge to avoid selecting the exact same layout. I maintained some continuity by using the same header image. I may actually return to the exact same layout. You do what you can. I took a stroll through the old posts. Like I was saying goodbye or something, which is silly because it is not like the old page is going anywhere. But it was strange to actually be able to sort of read about how I actually did get here. It took away some of the mystery inherent in David Byrnne’s rhetorical question. I could see right there, before my eyes, exactly how it all unfolded. Frankly, reality is way more enigmatic than abstract mystery.

Time isn’t holding us, time isn’t after us
Time isn’t holding us, time doesn’t hold you back
Time isn’t holding us, time isn’t after us
Time isn’t holding us…

Who knew?

I revisited myriad interesting choices, diversions, interactions, disappointments, surprises. They seemed a lot less random in hindsight. And less disappointing. No less surprising. And, still, it’s anyone’s guess where this highway leads to.

You know?

In the end the most pressing question may be, why a big suit?