The Day of Venus (XII)

(If you are new here): I started doing these “The Day of Venus” pieces every Friday as a way to hold myself accountable as a writer, and really just as a person who finds immense solace in consistently expressing and putting into form the inner workings of my mind and heart. I sit down and unleash everything I’ve been noticing, carrying, working through. I let myself be surprised, amused and embarrassed by what is painted. I call upon and obey my dreamworld. I let what wants to be said, be said, and then I leave it where it is. I play with words, listen to the murmurs of my heart, reference notes I’ve scribbled during the week, on receipts and gym paper towels and the 3 notebooks I keep around me in rotation; I look up synonyms and antonyms, grammar rules and poetic techniques, and sometimes get caught in rabbit holes of research until 3am.

I remove myself from the play. I exit the backstage, and it locks me out anyway. I bring the harmonica I bought at the thrift shop for $22 to the back of the building where it smells faintly of piss, and take refuge in having a part to play right there. At the busstop to my left is a grandfather who has been washing dishes all night. He just clocked out at a computer screen where a customer approached and tried to place an order. “Oh no, no sorry I am leaving now–errr–” and he looked around for the cashier as the customer rolled their eyes in victimization. Beside the metal rain-spotted bench nobody is sitting on, leans a Ross sack filled with the basic household needs of a 23 year-old who just broke up with her narcissistic boyfriend of 5 years, and is living on her own for the first time. She holds her umbrella at an angle above her, watching a YouTube video explaining how to change your self-concept. Next year her credit score will go up by 22 points and she will still be living in the $400 plywood make-shift room of an elderly woman she is caring for in exchange for rent, but she will meet a best friend and become known by the french patisserie down the block where she sometimes is given dessert on the house. I’m just a bald lady with her back against brick, a professional amateur playing a harmonica on the ground where her body is shielded from the rain, but her slippers act as a sponge and gutter water carries dust to the crevices of my toes which I carry home with me.

If you were to create a social media account without any previous internet presence, the algorithm will offer you a curated and intentionally designed array of options as your first choices, which would be the same offering to your neighbor, and their neighbor and theirs. Maybe across town where the houses are owned there is a slight shift, but you are offered up the most profitable clips to be exposed to, the most material-inducing of entertainment. These curations are internalized as the standard, the aim, what we should be striving for. How to talk, where you fit, and what to do with the time you spend breathing. It is in your best interest to question, analyze and reject the unspoken rules you’re given. Run into the room and clang on the xylophones, open your door and yodel absurdities into the suburban night sky. Do whatever it takes to claim your aliveness. Tell everyone and no one that you aren’t buying it. Show your teeth, your tongue, your toes. Go outside and touch the ground, the telephone pole, the rusting chainlink fence and the legs of a dead moth.

To heal is to find refuge in a cyclical art form of sorts. It is catch and release, a series of returning to that place in your mind’s eye, that room where you position yourself in objectivity to your fears. It is observing the impulses that were left to roam unchecked–and then grieving those moments you spent so far away from yourself. It is holding space for the redirection of your eyes, your voice, your hands and feet. Honor the Power to Pause. Give yourself time before you speak, make a decision, act. Give yourself the time.

I make sure to be thorough in the notes I take in my mind of the moment as I am in it–the mauve rose of your cheeks, the pressing of my inner thighs around your hips. All day I struggled to stay present, then it became easy to do. Suddenly the duration of a breath becomes a photo in my collection, a poem I want to write, a song I want to sing.

She reminds me that love is an action, energy transmitted, exchanged, released. She reminds me I am flawed and perfect and in motion. She gives to me with deliberation and she gives to me when she is not giving to me.

Companionship is spiritual work just as much as it is a retreat on Sunday. I do not have control over what I do not have control over. I want to be here while I am here.

Each day is a dismissal and an arrival, a reminder that Change Is. Hear the cliffs crumbling into sand; Feel the floors of the ocean widening. Meet the earth with acceptance as it receives your skin, your breath, your bones.

Get into the habit of asking your Dream maker to send you the medicine you need–comfort, signals, reminders of impermanence, reminders of what is infinite. Develop a line of communication with the curator. Trust in what comes and say thank you. Add all of the dream to your Palette of Existence–it’s aroma, it’s curse, it’s atmosphere, it’s language and it’s music. As much as you add your waking day this-ways-and-thats, uphold the visions that come to you while your conscious is at rest, accepting them as being closest to truth, as symbols of the energy dormant and within, unseen and fettering. If you want to live without shame, you must not be ashamed of yourself.

How to bring out the Kali in me: Make your mind up about who I am, who she is, and who they are in totality, and refuse to acknowledge the complexities and dualities of life, of us all, the little we really know, the reality of our ego’s limitations. Analyze something I said or did, or they did, or he mentioned, like it is the only evidence needed for your conclusion in a study we didn’t agree to being the examinees of. And so it is that I have come into acquaintance with what I have in secret called my “Jester Faces”. Pure affection is poured from my eyes into yours–a real and truly intended softness, an acknowledgment of your Holiness, quickly followed by the crudeness of a tongue extended and out, eyes wide. The flash of an announcement is registered by the opponent-seekers and sleeping puppeteers within you as: I SEE YOU; you have been exposed. I return to the softness just as easily as it came, just as generous as the moment before. A shapeshifting angel/beast, because both exist–the rich night of the earth, and the air of the sun-drenched sky, the wildfire and the flood, the blooming and the decaying. I have little tolerance and yet too much patience for the posturing, the prodding, the pretending that we don’t all carry the blades and matches and fungi, just as much as we carry the sky, the wings, and the nectar of the earth.

What will always be more important is the ability to see it inside of yourself–both the beauty and the monsters. All that is pushed away and down becomes amplified in the circumstances of your life, but that can be a toxic new-age message to be sending to people too. Then, all that you fixate on when your attention is out the window also makes appearances. These are both laws of the universe and manipulation tactics, depending on who is speaking. Just as well, tend to your garden like it belongs to you, like it responds best to you and you alone. A new kind of weed has begun growing around the edges of the bed, and so you dig them up by the roots only to discover they weren’t weeds at all, just seeds you pinched into the dirt 3 months ago that you forgot about, apparently spiraling up to the surface at an angle you weren’t expecting. So you sulk and forgive yourself and take note and move on.

Forgiveness is important to practice because you bring ill to yourself when you are ill-wishing upon another, regardless of what they have done or have not done. The laws of the universe do not care about deserving-ness. It is an electrical current in your body you participate in that does what it does to your cells, your organs, your blood. If you are mad, be mad–punch the bag and run 5 miles and write until your wrist aches; sing until your voice cracks and dance until you’re dizzy. Then let it stay there. Let the salt of your sweat go down the drain, the page in your book be a tale to refer to, the song that comes out be a mode of release for another.

And it is a practice–an action, a process, an ongoing and ever-unfolding ritual incorporated into your life for as long as you live.

I promise to slip out from your grip of any understanding you think you have of me, the world, our neighbors, our perceived enemies, and our idols more human than we let ourselves believe. I promise our priorities, our reasons, our fuel sources differ. I promise I have no plan, no motive, no hidden intention or hoped-for outcome. I promise to tell you when I’ve eaten a piece of chocolate `I found on the staircase for breakfast and to include it in the highlight reel. I promise to keep the highlight reel real. I promise I am aware of how mainstream and slogan-on-a-target-shirt that sounds. I promise I am both basic bitch and weirdo. I promise I am at ease with my unpredictability. I promise to stay content. I promise I would burn everything I owned if it meant being true. I promise I am not an angel. I promise to break promises. I promise I will express myself as I am–uncool, unchosen, and callous-footed, yet still smirking at you snaggle-toothed from across the table full of love and jest. I promise that my dreams do not orbit around your approval of them; I promise they are not made more realistic because of your ability to articulate or understand them, neither do they need your support or inclusion to exist. In fact what are my dreams? I promise I live to just live and the blueprint is a vanishing rainbow in the sky. I promise my favorites change by the day, by the week, by the decade. I promise to both break your heart and enrich the soil it lives in. I promise I’ll love you while you’re here and when we’re gone. I promise I loved you before our eyes did their first dancing introductions. I promise I love you even though our eyes have not embraced. I promise I will never run out of this. I promise there are times that sometimes last for longer than I am able to admit, where I am a deserted town of brittle ground. I promise we have too little time to be wasting it on resentment or the bitter aftertaste of a fallout. I promise I can sense the mycelium under your words. I promise you can exit the scene of somebody else’s production and let your character be what it is in their tale, without it having anything to do with the story you yourself live in as the main character. I promise you that forgiveness feels better than clinging to scorn. I promise the process of forgiveness is personal–between you and you, more than between you and anyone else–and can be the greatest, most heaviest battle you’ve won. I promise we are not the same. I promise we have more in common than we dare admit. I promise to admit it. I promise I would still be doing what I am doing now if I knew it was never going to see the light of day. I promise I am A Tool of Loosening, a slouched and cheery and sometimes fumbling enchantress that doesn’t keep track of: the time, where lines are drawn between properties, or the role you’ve designated for the life that is mine. I promise I will always be a ribbon come undone. I promise you will find me when you are not looking for me–on a branch, in a song, in a poem I didn’t write.

Though I look on with admiration and respect–their crimson and bronze hues at dawn, and the unmatched effectivity of their motherhood–I am not a hen. I mind my spine when it tells me to move. My spine moves the way it moves. You have yours, and I have mine.

I am a feathered flute, and the talons that bind me. I sing away the excess of anything until I am once again light. I lean into the squalls as they come.

I am both innocent and accountable for all I am not innocent of. I walk in the center of the point of contact between scarlet and indigo, all prism and shadow and vein.

Listen to the voice that says “not yet”. Let it teem for awhile, just because.

The Day of Venus (VI)

Today and right now I feel like sharing stories surrounding religion and spirit in my life. I remember being in elementary school in the 2nd grade, where most of my classmates were Mormon, and a boy in our class started from one end of the lunch line to the other as he individually asked “Are you Mormon?” and if the person said “Yes” he said “You’re going to heaven”. I had no idea what it meant to be “Mormon”, but I assumed in that Elmer’s-glue-n’-glitter of a moment in my life, it was something I was since most people seemed to be it, and they also seemed so proud to be whatever that was, so, surely, I must be that too. There was commotion in a few parts of the line where, from what I could tell the answer was confusion or a “no” (basically not a “yes”), which caused that person to be severely, and loudly scapegoated. In a state of embarrassment to be in the spotlight amongst my peers, when the boy was directly in front of me, his question repeated for the delivery of my Tamagotchi-testimonial, absolutely strawberry-pink in the face I blurted, “what does it mean?” and was then given the same treatment as the rest of the other-than-no’s.

(These are tamagouchi’s–everyone cool had one. I found mine on the playground and said FINDERS KEEPERS which is something I did a lot and got into trouble for sometimes)

In kindergarten I was in a Catholic school, where we wore uniforms everyday and I dug my nose in the back of the classroom and apparently talked my little ass off, according to the reports my mom kept. Now that I think about it, nothing stands out in my mind about going to school there the way other schools stood out (I went to like 5 schools between the ages of 4-7 because of moving so much). I went to a pre-K on the Big Island the year before that, which I learned later was a Waldorf school. We learned to sew little blankets, had meals together on a long wooden table with fresh and tall flowers in the center, and we each said something thankful before eating. We played in gigantic trees whose branches swang low and long. There was a garden outside where we each had our own section, and I remember once experiencing a slight hypnotization gazing into the face of a sunflower as big as my head. Anyway, there is one thing that I vividly remember about being at the Catholic School, and that is a nap time where Jesus did not leave a goodie bag in my cubby for me because I chose to not sleep during nap time.

My mother taught me of the direct link between my heart and God through a few lessons blazoned in my mind. I remember her telling me about a voice inside of me that speaks, showing me to notice when something feels wrong or “off”. “The more you listen, the more she speaks; The less you listen, the quieter she gets–but she is always there for you, and always knows“, a subtle instilling of the inner awareness of an Inner Guide, God, of Consciousness. A web of ways to communicate were given directly and indirectly–to put my palms and fingertips together and pray, speak sweetly to leaves, appreciate the tastes of foods as I ate them.

I always wanted to be invited to church by Rhea and her family. Between the ages of around 8-10 we were neighbors, and we met because one day Rhea just starting darting rocks at me from her porch, so I started throwing them back until she was the one who got into trouble about it. Instant besties. Anyway, we would load into her mom’s lifted truck that had a/c and smelled like cherry jolly ranchers, and all the way to Hope Chapel we sang devotion songs, her mom’s gold Hawaiian bracelets glinting and tinking in the morning sunlight. Lyrics were displayed on the overhead screen, people were on stage in front of us crying and singing their hearts out–and I sang until I cried too, and it just felt good, and they usually got me a happy meal on the way home.

The Lotus Sutra has a character resembling a heart in the center of the scroll–a place I was told to rest my gaze as we chanted Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. When I was around 5 my mother started chanting, and it may have even been before then–I’ll need to ask and research. When we were still in Dallas (I was born in Grand Prairie, Texas) she had been chanting before moving to Hawai’i, so may have received her Gohonzon there. A Gohonzon is where the Lotus Sutra is kept–a cabinet that opens to display the Lotus Sutra. There are 2 smaller drawers beneath that, which nestle prayer beads, the tiny sutra recitation books, incense, and then a few other folded pages my mom had in there. It is a flock of birds gliding across my mind to simply remember the red-toned gohonzon we had for years and years. Anyway, I don’t know if the Lotus Sutra Scroll is given at the same time as the Gohonzon, or if she had it before. When I take a deep breath in, and let the words follow the pace of my exhale, the vibration of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo inside of my body is like giving my arteries, nerves and mind a spa treatment. Before I left Hawai’i in 2017 she gave me beads, a book and a gong bowl, without me asking and without having ever mentioned anything about chanting for a long time since then. It has become a tool I keep close to my side, and I continue to learn.

(The Lotus Sutra–see the heart in the center?)

My mother had two books laying around the house that greatly influenced the way I thought of the bible–The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, and The Women of the Bible by M.L. del Mastro. She did send me to vacation bible school for two summers, so basically I was taught the basics, but “basic” certainly ends there. I was also taught that Jesus’ life was partly spent amongst monks and holy priests of many places in the world–studying, learning, but most of all enjoying life. When missionaries came over, most times my mom would invite them in, bring food out or make them plates, and I’ve often heard her start discussing his life with them, them being left with questions of their own. I would actually do anything to be able to go back and listen with the mind I have now. She had a painting of Jesus next to our Gohonzon, completely throwing them for a loop, but also intriguing anyone who noticed and asked. At Christmas time there our tree would be, right next to the Gohonzon, and there my friends would be asking, “Wait, so do you believe in Jesus, or do you believe in Buddha?” I’ll never forget in college when taking a “World Religions” class, learning that the passages that were in place during the time of his life would have made it highly likely Jesus journeyed with traveling Holy men far and wide, learning techniques, meditations, all forms of prayer–not to mention then being exposed to many herbs, medicines, songs, dances, cures, expressions of love and compassion. Time spans of his life left out of biblical texts, compared to texts written during those same times suggest the high probability he was in India learning from Brahmin priests, and then spent time in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries. I remember studying this with my peers, feeling a deep respect and pride for what I was once slightly embarrassed by when it comes to knowledge of Jesus and the interconnection of faiths.

I started reading The Autobiography of Malcom X when I was en route to Texas to be near my sister and nephew as he was being brought into the world. It was one I had been carrying in my to-read box for a long time, and I had time to kill. I remember telling people “It has been so long since I obsess-flipped through a book that fast!” Not only did my mind expand in learning about history, I became captivated by The Quran and learning about Islam. At that point in time I was doing research on schools to teach at abroad for the following year, either in Thailand or Japan, but the agency I was working through sent me an email asking if I’d like to teach in Abu Dhabi.

(to be continued..and probably further edited)