February 19, 2013
Last year a friend introduced me to a website called Penzu, an online diary. I wrote only one entry, on the eve of my 33rd birthday. At the time I was living in Buenos Aires, and since the seasons are flipped in the Southern Hemisphere, it was the end of summer/beginning of fall.
Here’s that entry, unedited:
Sitting cross legged, slightly damp, on my slightly stinky and sticky pink yoga mat. The birds are rustling and clucking in the leaves that climb the walls around me. The sky is a pale blue above, cloudless, knowing. The cicadas shreik intermittently, the crickets calm and consistent in the background. The brakes of buses squeak in a tire shape, traffic hisses by. My forearms are sore from yoga yesterday with the serious and intense spanish-speaking instructor who smashed a giant cockroach with a wood-colored yoga block. I feel the tightness of my hips stretching down over my knees and into my shins. The dove calls actively, seeking a response. A plane roars overhead – it must be loud at the distance for me to hear its rumble so easily from the ground. The air moves like someone’s walking past, cool on my upper lip. A bus acellerates. I don’t remember how to spell acellerate. How many words should I write? I suddenly crave coffee; the smell of cinnamon haunts my tongue. I remember mornings in Miracle Mile, at the Hauser. I would go to the gym or for a walk in the park; on the way home I’d stop at Organics to Go. They had the best-tasting coffee I’d ever had. No bitter, not burnt, not stale. Smooth, rich, soothing. I’d put a splash of half and half, half a packet of sugar, and cinnamon, bumping the cannister gently so as not to overwhelm the coffee. The fine powder would float in the air. I’d swirl the coffee with a wooden stick, always feeling a tinge of guilt to immediately toss the stick, used for 2.3 seconds, into the garbage; though the garbage was separated and labeled for recycling. I’d begin the walk home, sucking coffee through the little hole on the lid, filling my senses – my nose, my mouth – with the fragrance and spice of the mild cinnamon coffee, the cream, the sugar. I would feel comfort, relief from the facts: I was 31, I was alone, I didn’t know what I wanted or where I was going in the world, I made myself hate my job by framing it as a trap, a struggle, something to rebel against, something I couldn’t free myself from.
A loud bird is rasping. It could be a cicada… Oh yes, it is. The volume on these babies is incredible. He does the build-up, the separate calls, getting closer and closer, until he unleashes one loud long scream. I wonder if he makes that sound with his legs, his wings, his mouth, his throat? What mechanism enables him to produce that vibration, and to expand it at that level?
I am moving to Patagonia. The doubts have been visting. Was I wrong to stop working with Jonas? Am I just running away, giving up, refusing to take action yet again in my life, refusing to do anything challenging and uncomfortable? No matter. I’ve made the choice. I will continue to learn and expand at the pace that I choose. I invite trust, faith. It’s a constant choice, a re-programming into appreciation, ease, joy. I don’t want to struggle anymore. I don’t want to fight. I want to allow. I want to accept. I want to appreciate.
Today Kelly arrives. I must shower, I’d like to drop off my laundry, and then catch a bus to the airport. Her flight is on time. I wonder how long it will take to go through customs. I wonder how much of the stuff she received. I wonder if she’ll have Jonas’s microphone screen. I wonder if she’ll have my boots. I’ve accepted the fact that she might not have the screen, the boots, the largest package from Amazon with my speakers and wifebeaters and lotion.
I’m trusting that money will work out, as it always does. I choose not to stress. I choose not to dwell in the negative. I choose to hire my team of Angels and trust them to handle it. I choose ease, release, joy, trust, faith.
That other site said 750 words. I could go for 750 initially. Or even a thousand? Let’s do 750 for now. The site says 750 is three pages. Three Artist’s Pages. Did that help me? I’m not sure I did. When I got to the magical spot in 2011 I’d been doing rampages of appreciation for a month or two, Abraham’s Vortex meditations and Vortex work. I do feel that I need morning rituals to keep me on the positive, life-clearing and affirming path; or I fall back into fear, self-loathing, guilt, etc.
September 7, 2012
I think I should do another Blog-a-Day Challenge. I am entirely out of the habit of blogging, and I need something to get me over the resistance/fear that accompanies creating. Plus there’s been so much amazingness going on in my life these past few months, I feel guilty not sharing!!! (I’ve ditched most of my general guilt, but I still haven’t managed to completely shake the blogging guilt…)
So I’ll do a blog-a-day starting today and going through September 20th, when I leave my home of the last month and a half for a trip to Florence and the Ligurian coast.
For the last three weeks I’ve been renting a room with two lovely roommates about 5 kilometeres from the Ananda center here in Italy. We’re an international bunch, me being from the states, one roommie, Calypso, hailing from Greece, and the other, Luigi, an Italian native (obviously… Luigi). A Portuguese woman named Lakshmi normally occupies the three-room apartment; she’d been house-sitting but is moving back in next week.
After a year and two months of Nomad Living, the thought of committing to stay anywhere for more than a month at a time brings up some issues for me. Though I don’t want to keep traveling forever, and I don’t actually enjoy the act of traveling, I haven’t entirely shaken the itch to keep moving. But life here at Ananda is pretty close to my dream life. I’ve got a community and group of close friends who already feel like family. Everybody meditates and does yoga. The community is working towards self-sufficiency, and I’m helping to launch the Academy of Art, Creativity, and Consciousness. I’m speaking Italian every day. The air is fresh. It’s beautiful. It’s quiet. My house is in the countryside overlooking olive groves, and our neighbors make home-pressed olive oil from their orchards, which we can see from our bathroom window.
For now, I’m happy here. Very happy! Yet at the same time, not entirely sure I’m ready to commit to staying… I feel I still need to be following my bliss and inspiration, and I don’t want to confuse myself and my path by making commitments to other people and becoming entangled in their plans… So, I’m sorting through some things, figuring out which is the voice of fear and which is the voice of my soul.
February 5, 2012
I feel like I haven’t blogged in ages. I’ve been struggling with the Resistance.
Not the Resistance to writing, but the Resistance to doing watercolors for a friend’s children’s book that I’m illustrating, and the Resistance to working as a Music Manager and booking venues here in Buenos Aires and in New York for a tour with the artist I manage, Jonisio il Solista. I feel inadequate at painting, and inadequate at booking a tour. One I haven’t done in about 10 years and the other I’ve never done. I’ve been trying to remind myself that every single person who’s ever done something was first a beginner, but I don’t like being a beginner. I don’t like not knowing what I’m doing. It freaks me out and the Resistance steps in and says, “We’ll start tomorrow. Instead, why don’t you stay up til 4am reading Anthony Keidi’s autobiography, or go get a coffee at your favorite cafe, or meditate, or see if anyone loves you on Facebook, or read some fascinating science article about how incense is an antidepressant. We’ll start tomorrow.”
Of course, tomorrow never comes, because it’s always only ever NOW, NOW, NOW, and if I don’t make the choice to start NOW, I never start. And then the anxiety builds, and the time runs out, and people ask, “But what have you been doing?” And I don’t write or blog because I feel like I shouldn’t be writing or blogging, I should be ‘working,’ even though I know it’s only work to my fearful, overprotective ego, and in reality it’s PLAY. I mean, painting and researching music venues????? How retarded can I be, to let myself convince myself that that’s work that I don’t want to do/am afraid to do/can’t do well enough?
As I realized when I got down here, and all the things that I believed were barriers to my ideal life were removed: living your dreams is terrifying to the ego.
And you, dear reader, may be sitting there saying, “Well, she’s got it made. She’s getting to do all this cool stuff in Argentina. MY life sucks, though. I have REAL barriers. I have a crappy job. If I were in her shoes, I would totally be doing those things, I would totally be happy.”
Maybe you would be. But unless you are already creating, already living your ideal life, I bet if you were freed from the things you feel are currently limiting you, you’d be doing the same thing I am. Because what some Argentinian spray-painted on a bridge in the photo above is true – the only barriers are mental. They are never external. Our only barrier is our ego’s fear.
And every day I’m witnessing what a tricky bastard the ego is. Tricky bastard, but also, at heart, a loving thing that really only wants to protect us from pain and from the “death” of failure.
So, that’s where me and my ego are at right now. As soon as I post this, I intend to put on the audiobook The Alchemist to remind me that what I’m doing here is attempting to live my Personal Legend, and I’m going to sit down and paint.
Below is an excerpt and multiple quotes (ok, practically half the book, but it’s just so TRUE) from The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, a book that gives me hope and makes me feel less retarded:
There’s a secret that real writers [artists/creators] know that wannabe writers [artists/creators] don’t and the secret is this: it’s not the writing [painting/creating] part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write [paint/create].
What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.
Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.
Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever resolved on a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice? Have you ever felt a call to embark upon a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others? Have you ever wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet, campaign for world peace or to preserve the environment? Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.
Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease and erectile dysfunction. To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be. If you believe in God (and I do) you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius. Genius is a Latin word; the Romans used it to denote an inner spirit, holy and inviolable, which watches over us, guiding us to our calling.. A writer writes with his genius; an artist paints with hers; everyone who creates operates from this sacramental center. It is our soul’s seat, the vessel that holds our being-in-potential, our star’s beacon and Polaris.
Every sun casts a shadow, and genius‘ shadow is Resistance. As powerful as is our soul’s call to realization, so potent are the forces of Resistance arrayed against it. Resistance is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, harder to kick than crack cocaine. We’re not alone if we’ve been mown down by Resistance; millions of good men and women have bitten the dust before us. And here’s the biggest bitch: we don’t even know what hit us. I never did. From age twenty-four to thirty-two, Resistance kicked my ass from East Coast to West and back again thirteen times and I never even knew it existed. I looked everywhere for the enemy and failed to see it right in front of my face.
The instinct that pulls us toward art is the impulse to evolve, to learn, to heighten and elevate our consciousness. The Ego hates this. Because the more awake we become, the less we need the Ego.
The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. The more you love your art/ calling/ enterprise, the more important its accomplishment to the evolution of your soul, the more you will fear it and the more Resistance you will experience facing it.
Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential… Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.
The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don’t just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed.
The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work.
Evolution has programmed us to feel rejection in our guts. This is how the tribe enforced obedience, by wielding the threat of expulsion. Fear of rejection isn’t just psychological; it’s biological. It’s in our cells.
The professional dedicates himself to mastering technique not because he believes technique is a substitute for inspiration but because he wants to be in possession of the full arsenal of skills when inspiration does come.
We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are… That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity… because, if it’s true, then we become estranged from all we know.
January 17, 2012
After posting my most vulnerable and honest blog ever, and getting the most feedback ever, I was left with the question… Now what do I write about? 🙂
One thing that came up repeatedly in response to the post was people – many of them friends I’ve known for years – saying: “It’s amazing how similar our stories/our fathers are.” That was one of the reasons I felt compelled to share my (I thought) unusual reaction to my father’s death – while I know I was risking seeming insensitive to the death of a family member by admitting I was relieved, and it made me uncomfortable sharing so much, I figured there had to be others who had the same experience that I did.
Actually, after he died and I downloaded a bunch of Motown music, I started googling around to see if it was ‘normal’ to have conflicting feelings at the death of an alcoholic parent. I didn’t really find anything that described what I was going through. The next morning, when I woke up at 6am, I started typing the blog post on my Droid. It was one of those pieces that just writes itself, that flows out of you intact.
The experience reminded me of the Elizabeth Gilbert TED talk, in which she brilliantly explains writing, creativity and our skewed take on genius.
The Greeks and Romans used to believe that creativity, rather than coming from humans, was actually a spirit that came to people from a “distant and unknowable source.” Some called it a daemon, some called it a genius. A person wasn’t a genius; they had a genius who would come and help them out with their work. To me, sounds like tapping into the collective unconscious. Anyways, Elizabeth points out that this takes the pressure off of artists. And, that the artist’s only job is to show up and work. It’s the genius’s job to make it good.
Ole, Allah, a glimpse of god. A glimpse, a remembrance of the truth we are each connected to.
“Just do your job, continue to show up for your piece of it… Ole to you nonetheless…just for having to have the sheer human love and stubborness to keep showing up.”
November 17, 2011
Idle Words, www.idlewords.com, is my new favorite blog. The posts – essays, really – are well-crafted, interesting, and witty. An inspiration!
Here are a few choice tidbits:
“Why maintaining the elevator should require eleven hours of hammering is something I try not to think about, just as I avoid asking why this particular elevator has to get its inspection certificate stamped each month instead of, say, every three years.”
“I just finished a summer studying Arabic at the Monterey Institute for International Studies… just down the road from a grim military counterpart called the Defense Language Institute, where young men and women learn how to eavesdrop on the nation’s enemies, provided that the enemies speak slowly and limit their conversation to hobbies and the weather.”
“Eating steaks in Argentina feels like joining a cult. You find yourself leaning on friends to come visit, and writing YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND in all caps more often than feels comfortable.”