Prompts & Untamed Musings: From Natalie Goldberg’s ‘Wild Mind’

I am honored and deeply grateful for your readershipas I cultivate my writer voice blindfoldedvertebrae by vertebrae, all chrysalis and soil.

Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg

My Pleasure List:

  • Going into a trance while dancing. It’s releasing and nourishing and praising and devotional and declarative. I feel the animal in me move the way it wants to—bend, shake, pívot and turn; crawl, leap, prance, reach. Sometimes I’ll have my pareo or a scarf in my hands and I’ll twirl it in the air, then let it’s threads graze over my neck and chest and torso. When there is a shadow to dance with against the light of a lamp or from another room, I dance with my shadow and it’s like I’m dancing with anyone I can conjure in my mind—myself, a beast, wild eyes I remember in a dream. My imagination takes me to rooms I’ve never been in, forest floors and ships and stages. I dance for the king; I am the king; I crown the queen; I am crowned queen; I’m goddess of love; I’m goddess of war. I play with the perpendicular and diagonal movements of my limbs on the right, on the left. I balance them out and align their angles and curves. The left mirrors the right and then the right mirrors the left. The music wills my blood to move and pulse and fill where it fills, and my bones marry my muscles and they coordinate themselves like they are dancing at their wedding, their battlegrounds, around their yearly crop fires. I follow my blood flow with no plan or expectation. It feels good and that is enough. Then when I am amongst others I let myself take up space and I move like water between and around and away and to and from. I let myself rise to the dance floor when the melody is asking for my hand, with no mind as to whether it is empty or full. My hands reach up and my palms take in the pleasure of sound and it runs itself through me. I close my eyes and see my maker, my lover, my self, my violet. My legs kick and my hips sway and make circles and infinity symbols. My body is a series of sacred geometric patterns. I am Venus and then Saturn and then mars and the earth. I embody and embrace and orbit and play. There are no rules and there is no such thing as wrong or right. My wrist becomes the floor bed of the ocean and my fingertips the waves. My spine is a cobalt-blue centipede and my feet are paws and talons—they transport seed and ash and mineral from drum to drum. I remember in hula that once I knew the movements to a song like the back of my hand, to dance it with the halau was like flying too—all of us a formation in the sky in devotion and a state of flight. Taken over by something and that something communicating through us—our bodies instruments of a greater design. I also remember my mother dancing with me on her hip—she’d dip and sway and twirl and I’d laugh and squeal and feel the rhythm of her rhythm and the music all through me, my hand on her back and neck and heart.
  • Sticking my nose into the folded and intricate patterns of flowers to see what they smell like and feel their colors on my skin. Admiring the way their bold and soft and blushing shades make my eyes and brain feel, and being hugged by the cool skin of their petals. After the last session with my therapist he said “well you know it is hard work and it doesn’t end, but, you know, keep smelling the flowers around you in the meantime..” and it is a relief just to remember that the human things go from being the backdrop, to the forefront, to the backdrop and then again to the forefront of our focus and we can push all of it to the backdrop as we are appreciating the flowers on this earth. A 30 second meditation to pause in the midst of furrowed eyebrows and pensive lips. And then 3 minutes later on the trail, another little dose of sweet forgetfulness.
  • Long runs where I meander and wander without attention to distance, or where I am on a map. The feeling in my spine—that middle place of your body that feels like a furnace I can speak to and sing from—it becomes an enduring bull that reminds me I have more power than I think I have. I don’t run fast or slow, but a steady pace where I feel like a low-flying bird not in hurry—wings expanded to ride the wind’s pace over the terrain, watching, sweeping, praying and gliding. Running feels like flying to me. And then a branch of the immense pleasure I get from running is my love for empty spaces that spread over the ground, where no house or tree or structure interrupts the emptiness of space —whether a field or made of concrete or sand—they give the inside of me a bursting feeling of flight. As a child I did it and I still do it now—I leap and skip into the vast and spacious ground ahead of me and I feel my cells say “YES!” to one another. The simple pleasures like this make me wonder where it comes from and why it is inside of me so strongly. I feel a kind of truth in the belief of past lives and being other beings in other lives—whether it’s literal or beyond human comprehension, I do feel there is some truth to it and when I notice how all of us have these unique likings and dislikings for various sensations as simple as running into empty spaces, I wonder if it is because there is a special closeness connecting us to the creatures who know that sensation firsthand. I’d like to think I was a bird anyway, as much joy I get from feelings of flying and being high up in the sky, not to mention dreams I have flying. Rollercoasters, skydiving, paragliding, being on a rope between cliffs or on the highest peak of a mountain—I want in always. In the same way children watch a movie together and all of them declare themselves to be the main character, in secret to myself and now here in a not-so-secret way, I say I was a bird in a past life, but maybe as many birds as there are and have been we have all been birds at least at some point right?
  • The waiting moments of life—at the gate of the airport, sitting on trains and busses and planes, at a table when you’re the too-early one with time to kill, when a response is needed before any movements can be made, so all there is to do is find something to do in stillness. So what is there to do? Ahh I breathe in the freedom.. time for reading, drawing, writing, learning, gazing out the window. I get to be in my thoughts and without them, and there is no one to respond to and no immediate tasks at hand or choices to be made where it’s more responsible to take care of the laundry or the dishes or the errand than it is to daydream, play and ponder. One of the first times I realized this about me was when I was 15 and on a plane alone. I was early at the airport and bought the The Tao of Pooh, and another book I don’t remember now that was more of a fiction novel. I got a soda and had my headphones and iPod ready. It was sheer delight. I read both books front to back and couldn’t believe I did it at the time. I had a window seat and perused the airplane album selections to discover for the first time why my mother liked Jimi Hendricks. I heard his music in a new way on that flight for whatever reason—I finally understood. The simple pleasure of reading alone, being alone, perusing art alone—I was in the process of discovering that I am immensely happy in the company of myself.
  • Paddling in a canoe!! Ahhhh yes how I LOVE this. I haven’t paddled in awhile, and I know I will do it again. Like running and wondering if I was a bird once, my love for the rhythmic and trancelike pattern of paddling makes me wonder if I’ve done it in a past life. It was an instant love and something that came more naturally to me than anything. It is easy for me to keep an unwavering pace, to pull the blade of the paddle with my torso instead of my shoulders, to move water under the canoe and lift it above water to glide. I forget time and my eyes rest on the horizon. I taste salt on my lips and become a soothed child. I paddled my sophomore, junior and senior year of high school in a 6-man Hawaiian outrigger canoe. I was in seats 1, 2 and 3, but really all of them when necessary. Seats 1 and 2 lead the canoe in pacing, keeping a steady rhythm without missing a beat when transitioning to the other side of the canoe every 12-15th stroke. The first 3-6 strokes are for lift-off, when each stroke needs to be deep, long and slow and in precise unison. The 3rd and 4th seats are often referred to as the “engines”, where there needs to be paddlers with lots of fire and endurance to keep the middle of the canoe up—important for every stroke to have a lot of gusto and no room for lazy strokes or the canoe slows. Then the 5th seat is often called the “princess seat” because seats 1-4 are moving so much water under the canoe, that their paddle is really being moved by the strokes of others, but there is still great importance for the 5th seat to be staying in rhythm with everyone and move their paddle through—kind of like when you ride on a motor cycle you have to lean with the driver or there is friction—you can’t just go to sleep or you’re “dead weight”. The 6th seat is the steersman—the seer and the “captain”, because they can see all seats and what is a ahead, as well as alongside. They are watching the currents and winds and waves. Then I taught in Abu Dhabi and discovered Dragon Boating. Dragon Boating originated in China. It’s a 20-person canoe where you are seated next to someone, and only paddle on one side. I was so delighted to find out that the technique for paddling in Dragon Boating is the same as for the outrigger canoe. The paddle is different—the blade longer and handle more thick, but other than that almost everything else is the same. There is a dragon’s head at the front of the canoe, which always felt extra badass. On the team were mostly people from the Philippines and Egypt—-people also raised by the water—silly, playful, generous, fun-loving, and then quiet and reverent—taking in a sunset in stillness without saying a word and then paddling slowly back to shore after a rigorous hour long sprint session. It felt like home to be at practice. Tournaments in Dubai were done the same way tournaments in Hawai’i by the airport were spent—all of us under the tent sharing food and arm wrestling, playing cards, braiding hair, massaging shoulders, cracking jokes, standing by the water and screaming for one another as our time was up for paddling to the starting line.


I am in Norway now! 5 more days left of this gorgeous adventure ❤️ Here are some photos:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: