The Day of Venus XXI

This is the 21st Friday of my Day of Venus Posts, where I let wash up what is present in the undercurrents of my mind, heart and spirit. 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.

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

The Day of Venus XIX

This is the 19th Friday of my Day of Venus Posts, where I let wash up what is present in the undercurrents of my mind, heart and spirit. I am honored and deeply grateful for your readership as I cultivate my writer voice blindfoldedvertebrae by vertebrae, all chrysalis and soil.

Snorkeling between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates!

I am on a train in Norway, and it is going north. We stayed in Oslo last night, in a more popular and standard type of hotel compared to the hostels and tiny family-run ones we were at through Iceland. My suitcase is the larger one in the group, which we decided we’d use for the food we brought along to save us money as we travel through these pricey countries. For the last 8 months I’ve often felt very silly looking at myself scramble for money for this trip, as I quit my secure teaching post and refused to join a m-f salary secured position as I figured myself out for awhile. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel at times it was a mistake to be making a trip like this a priority, in the middle of a post Saturn return shake up where I realized I couldn’t conform to certain things any longer. But here we are and here I am and I am choosing to enjoy it, as life should be enjoyed. Anyway, my suitcase was left behind in Reykjavik by the Icelandic airlines, and they are supposedly sending it to where we are going now, to Stavanger. I feel blasé about not having it, and somehow free because I haven’t had to lug it around at all. I feel no attachment when things like this happen—there is the initial hustle to figure it all out, and then once the loss or mishap or detour is made aware of, I let go easily. I am wondering if this is another one of those blessings in the disguise of an accident, because I haven’t had to lug my suitcase around at all for the last 24+ hours of traveling by bus and train, and if it is delivered in the next few days, I will be reimbursed for the items I bought at the Norwegian mall last night. I got $7 high-waist salmon-pink pants which remind me of the slinky dress I wore in New Orleans during my first shroom trip, a turquoise thong, and a sleeveless white tee that plunges around the pits. I am thanking my lucky stars (aka Jupiter in my 1st house 🍀) that that is the case—that I dodged having to carry my suitcase and scored some free pieces of clothing in the process.

It is green everywhere here. In Iceland it was lava and lupins. Droves of trees for miles and miles surround us. I feel a growing longing to be submerged in earth—dirt and soil and seed and ground. When I get back home I have no idea what I’ll do, which is more exciting for me vs. nerve racking—a wide open field and a blank canvas. I am present and I am also a page being written so I keep inventing scenarios in my mind of things-I’ll-do. I could be on a farm and busk and sing at all the open mics around town. I can keep writing my songs and developing them and join other musicians on streets, in bars, on the road, on stages, in yards and pretty rooms filled with art. I could watercolor as the sun goes down and learn how to take care of bees. I could work at the farmers markets and cook things I’ve never made before and help chefs in kitchens. I could sing and dance and with children and do yoga by rivers and meet new trees. I could learn a new skill and play a new instrument and dance a new dance with my shoulders back and my heart bursting. I could be around a bonfire with loud and happy men and women and sing until we cry and cry until we laugh. “Oh, all of the things I can do” I imagine and I imagine and I imagine while here.

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My mother stayed quiet and also didn’t stay quiet, about the tiny and monumental things that felt unjust or insincere or false. Things that no one spoke of, (but did they think about it?) and of the many ways she could feel a certain not-quite-right in the world around her. In her humanness she probably could have used a friend to assure her she wasn’t crazy or wrong or “bad” for wondering, for wanting something deeper, something more. And then in her humanness she gave in to things that make you go fast, let you flee your reality, and keep you feeling like you’re alright and life’s alright and you’ve really got it going on. Despite all the humanness, the guilt she didn’t deserve to carry, and all the ways she kept her eyes closed, it was easy for her to tap in and surrender to a force greater and more all-knowing than she was. I am probably most grateful for that—to have witnessed her bow her head and fall to her knees, then get up again to try and carry herself. For all of the vivaciousness, generosity, and then also the train-like fury she embodied, today there is a silent acceptance and a watchfulness in her ways, and I want to write her story, and I will, and I am.

I want to tell her and everyone of how she was right about the things she read in people, and that her love for them didn’t mean they honored her independence or her mad spark. I want to tell her then and now that she can trust herself. I want to tell of the way a light that burns like that would want to be bottled up and kept and harbored, and that she shouldn’t let it be. I want to give her the warnings that people have given me. I want to teach her that boundaries are good, and she can create them with graciousness, but then with a wolf-like and snarl-toothed flash when necessary. Maybe she was given those warnings too. I want to talk with her about how people might say it isn’t real (that burning thing inside) and she shouldn’t believe them for a second. I still have a thing in me that wishes I could have been a friend to her, and that is a place I sometimes return to where I think I’d like to save her, even though I know that by saving myself I free mothers before me I don’t even know of yet.

More things I’d say to her, that I say to myself, and that I say to all: You were right about your spidey senses that told you something wasn’t right about him, that, her, that place. I’d tell her not to doubt herself. And so I remind myself not to doubt myself. I don’t want to waste my moments dismissing the inner signals, no matter how illogical or opposed they are by the world around me. The more we practice saying NO, the more we give in to what looks like chaos in the name of what is right, and the more we follow that North Star inside—even when it is so very different from the paths laid out around us—the more assurance we get from the universe. We choose ourselves and the world responds with YES. We choose the wild and overgrown forest of our soul-self, and the world responds with “oh here you are—a bit of a gift you’ve dreamt of long ago. We choose the unorthodox, the impractical, the scorned and laughed-at path we know is right, and the world says “here are the others and you really can live in a state of adventure and peace; you are always taken care of; you are loved; you really are love; I love you.” Jump off of the cliff and you will swim or you will fly.

When we give in to forms of escape—substances, television, other peoples fantasies of us—we put ourselves to sleep. And we wake up yet again in a state of restlessness at 3am, and we feel the not-quite-rights and we are given the choice to go on pretending or to give our world a little earthquake, a wildfire, a flood for new life to be born.

Be willing to be lonely, in faith that you will not be. Be willing to be without, in faith that you will not be. Be willing to give up all of your comforts for the sake of your burning soul, knowing that the comfort of your soul burning true is what will bring comforts unimagined to your doorstep.

It is not unreasonable to regard your life as a precious gift. It is not unreasonable to believe in peace. It is not unreasonable to care as much as you do about the sacred things.

The Day of Venus (XVIII)

Journaling on the way from south to north Iceland

The glacier is the river and then it is the bay where the dolphins came in at the dock, and in that way the glacier is them too. Then it is the patches of deep green where the slopes of the mountains are too gradually inclined for the glacier to become stream, so the glacier becomes moss and tiny white, purple and yellow petals. Then the glacier becomes the sheep and the wings on birds.

And so it is that the inside of us is the outside too, and the music of the world in which we reside so eerily becomes the same music we produce, without us even trying. Everywhere it is like this and when you listen close and lean your chest in to really hear, you notice that the way the rain falls and the birds call is the same rhythm and pattern of the music made in the region of those sounds.

When we hug the earth and rest our bodies against cliffs and bark and grass, we are hugging ourselves, and that isn’t just spiritual faerie hippie mumbo jumbo—it just is. And the veil thins and the coincidences become less coincidental.

The bodies we are near are also our own, as much as the earth we take from and give to and love and are loved by. We are made of the same. When we nurture one another we nurture ourselves. Giving love from our chests is a practice we have to cultivate, like choosing to see the goodness in one another. Loving on another with your being—and I am not talking about touching or even using words—is loving ourselves. It is something to practice and stay sharp at. It takes a willingness. It takes surrender. To be vessels and givers and receptacles of this kind of grace is to lay your human stuff down—your defenses and explanations of why you are different and separate and more special than the next. To get into this practice is to come to love the feeling of that weight being lifted off of you. You love it so much that it becomes the only thing that makes sense to do.

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Please give me your behind-the-scenes, your shadow that clings to your shoes and knows no color, brand, style or separation. Tell me that you wanted to connect but felt jealousy, or indifference, or scorn, or irritation, or resentment, or shame. Tell me about the time you questioned your decisions and how you sometimes wonder if you’re lying to yourself, or not. Let your hair get mangled in the pursuit of a belly-laugh and spit the jagged and molded-over truth out like it is a sandbag keeping you from running into me again.

When I stopped trying to be good I became more of a friend to myself, and more of a friend to everything and everyone. When I lost the appeal of what is appealing to the masses, I won the appeal of my soul-self. And it feels like coming home.

I hope you stay strange and never sacrifice your cackle for a more likeable laugh. I hope you never run out of meters when you are scribbling lines onto pages and sand and chalk-ridden sidewalks. I hope that children always feel a safe kinship and sense of relief around you and your 57 goofy voices. I hope you never get so serious about an idea of yourself that you miss an opportunity to connect and be soul instead of a human. I hope your singing gets gruff in the night and you sing anyway. I hope that a sky to look at and a hand to hold will always be enough. I hope you find the others, and they find you too.