Farewell, Amigo

A friend died last Thursday.

He ended his own life. A friend I hadn’t seen in years, but a friend all the same. A teacher, a musician, a husband, a father. With a daughter close to the same age as my own: five. He was forty years old.

I received the sad news one morning last week. In a message from a mutual friend. It was the first thing that entered my mind that day, this tragic news, and at first it didn’t compute.

He took his life. He is the first friend I’ve known who has committed suicide. It doesn’t seem real, that this person who was so alive and intelligent and complicated and hilarious and all the other things he was, to be gone just like that. It almost doesn’t seem real because there is no mention of it on social media amidst any of our many mutual friends. We are respecting his family’s wishes. But it is true, damn it.

red rain flower

I wrote his wife, now widow, who is my friend too. Even though there are no words, I wrote her. I’m thinking of her and him and their daughter and sending them love and metta.

I cannot imagine what she is going through. Even though I’ve read books written by widows about the¬†experience of living through and beyond their beloved’s death, whether sudden or prolonged, I simply cannot fathom the grief and pain.

The other night, my friend appeared in my dream. As we were embracing in a big bear hug, I broke down in sobs. But I felt comforted by him, not sad about his death. In the dream, he was not dead. I was crying about something else, and he was consoling me. Only today as I was walking to yoga did I realize, on some level, the dream level, that that was our goodbye.

Adios, dear friend. Thank you. We will miss you. May you be free.

Time is but a Dream.

Row row row your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily! Life is but a dream.

Are we in the same boat?

It is a gorgeous Sunday morning. I taught yoga overlooking the lake and then stretched a little by myself and then came to Moonfish and ordered coffee and eggs. I have to go to work soon, from ten-thirty til four o’clock, at a place around the corner and down the wooded path, a place called La Paz, which means peace.

This, and any given day of my life—though there are still times of stress and forgetfulness and overwhelm and confusion— is totally dreamlike compared to my life ten years ago… or fifteen. Or even six. Even last year! My nowadays and moments are spent more presently, more slowly, more deliberately. Usually. Still, I slip and fall and bleed and scab and get back up again the next morning. I feel my body ageing. And I’m not even forty yet. Old age and death are inevitable and life is short, it’s true.

My daughter is five already. Going on six. My grandmothers are in their nineties, my parents in their mid-sixties. Age, what is it good for? Birth, death, transformation.

I find it helpful to delineate the two types of time…. natural/galactic time and human-made/clock time. Natural time is the present moment, ever changing and evolving but always happening right now. Clock time is the 24 hour day, the sixty minute hour, the 7 day week, etc. Invented by people a long time ago.

Clock time is helpful for catching planes and trains, for scheduling things, for routines. It is helpful, to a point.

Natural time is helpful for meditation, for being present once we are involved in our previously scheduled [or not] activities, for living and experiencing our lives more fully, less incessant “are we there yet?” and “what’s next?”.

Spend some time in nature today contemplating natural time.

Breathe and consider that this is the breath of the planet, of the universe even.

Breathe and be one of the trillions of breathing beings upon the Earth.

Breathe and be alive.

Feel the sensation of your own heartbeat.

Feel the breath going in and out, the heart beating.

Row your boat merrily down the stream, and live the dream.

beautiful boat daylight foggy
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Presence, Patience, Simplicity

Mindfulness. It’s become such a buzz word, much like “yoga”. And yet, the practice is popular and now mainstream precisely because it offers simple methods for cultivating greater awareness of the present moment.

In other words, mindfulness empowers us to more fully live our lives by fully embodying our experience from moment to moment. Not escaping into illusion or delusion, addiction or habit-patterns, mindless scrolling or empty gossip.

Mindfulness, heartfulness, pure consciousness, heart-centered awareness. Semantics. Yet words can help. Concepts can be of assistance. Eventually the words, techniques, concepts, ideas, opinions, memories and plans for the unknown future fade away. There is just this One Love.

Yet alongside this miraculous beauty is a dark shadow side, a seedy, shady, sad, sick side. We must bring light to this shadow and deal with all the -isms our society has created, all the borders and security measures and rules and regulations and political correctness and the racism, sexism, patriotism, narcissism, consumerism, capitalism, careless shortsightedness and destruction of Mother Earth.

Mindfulness, you see, is not all lollipops and rainbows. It encompasses all, everything that arises and passes away. With practice, we learn to see things on a continuum, within a vast spectrum. We expand our consciousness and raise our vibration. We tune in more and more with the One Love of All That Is. We serve others, giving of ourselves for the betterment of beings less fortunate, less lucky to have been born into wealth or at least not into poverty.

Present-moment-awareness is gorgeous and simple. There are many anchors that can bring us back right here and now when the mind wanders. Of course, there are also times when it is good and helpful to contemplate and reflect on the past or plan and set goals for the short and long-term future. Most of our days, however, are ideally spent focusing on the present, being kind to ourselves and others, cultivating compassion, peace, balance and wisdom.

By paying attention to whatever is occurring in the present moment, we can connect with a sense of gratitude for the gift of breath and life, a sense of wonder for what this day or experience is here to teach us, and a sense of open-minded curiosity for what adventures await us next.

Men go into Caves; Women are like Waves

Recently, a friend gifted me a copy of three chapters, well-used and stapled together, of the classic relationship advice book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Published by counselor John Gray in 1992, these yellowed pages had a surprising amount of helpful wisdom.

The main takeaway, which is not rocket science or anything—though I appreciated the clear and simple way he explains the differences between men and women and the way we communicate, express ourselves and deal with difficulty—is that men go into caves, while women are like waves.

Men are motivated and empowered when they feel needed. Women are motivated and empowered when they feel cherished.

When men are struggling with a problem, feeling upset or angry, they often “go into a cave”, get silent and need space and time to process alone. Women, from the other planet, go through cycles or waves—going up, feeling good, fulfilled, motivated and loved, and then doing down into the trough, crashing down into emotional overwhelm, worry, frustration or confusion.

Like I said, it’s not a revelation. These are simple metaphors, and they make sense. The more you know…. Now I can let my partner go into his cave when he needs to and not try to elicit conversation from him until he has emerged. I will watch my own wave and be more aware of my tendencies to go to extreme highs and lows, seeking greater balance and moderation in my daily life. Hey, maybe I should read the whole book!