14 February 2013

Love Affair With Myself: Time with the Divine

"I wish I hadn't thrown away my time/ On so much human and so much less divine."- Lou Reed, "Dimestore Mystery," New York

This album, rife with the grit and darkness and corruption of Lou Reed's hometown, titled for its namesake, New York, was quite a precocious album for a fourteen-year-old girl to fall in love with. Every track taught me something: the betrayal of Vietnam vets and Native Americans, the slashing trauma of the cycles of physical abuse, poverty, murder, AIDs. I listened to this album day in and day out and still know most of the lyrics by heart. It was my first introduction to Lou Reed on his own.

I skipped past Transformer and Lou's glam phase. Went straight to the glistening guts of what Lou Reed saw as an expected aftermath of the trickle down economics, AIDS demonizing homosexuals, the poverty left  over from the crack thrown into the poorest neighborhoods, the deep divide between the dirt-cracked poor and the shining, glistening wealth of Wall Street and upwardly mobile. Greed always has been a simple and single word used to define the 1980s. In fact, it was and still is defined as the decade of greed.

Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, Title of a Song on Album

Released in 1989, New York, with relentlessness and grim vision, bone-grating guitar, that flat delivery of eviscerating poetry belonging to Lou and Lou alone, painted a picture of not only the corruption of the eighties and the decline of the city, but more importantly the death throes of its soul, and the soul of its people.

I missed a lot of the references. Too young. Too innocent. Too ignorant. But the poetry hit me, as poetry always does, and the words stayed with me from then until now.

Dime Store Mystery

He was lying banged and battered, skewered and bleeding
Talking crippled on the cross

Was His mind reeling and heaving, hallucinating

Fleeing what a loss
The things He hadn't touched or kissed
His senses slowly stripped away

Not like Buddha, not like Vishnu
Life wouldn't rise through Him again
I find it easy to believe
That He might question His beliefs

The beginning of the last temptation

Dime story mystery
The duality of nature, Godly nature Human nature splits the soul
Fully human, fully divine and divided

The great immortal soul

Split into pieces, whirling pieces, opposites attract
From the front, the side, the back

The mind itself attacks
I know this feeling, I know it from before
Descartes through Hegel belief is never sure
Dime store mystery, last temptation
I was sitting, drumming, thinking, thumping, pondering
The mysteries of life
Outside the city shrieking, screaming, whispering

The mysteries of life

There's a funeral tomorrow
At St. Patrick's the bells will ring for you

Ah, what must you have been thinking

When you realized the time had come for you

I wish I hadn't thrown away my time
On so much human and so much less divine

The end of the last temptation

The end of a dime store mystery

Why all of this exposition? How does this song relate to this love affair with myself I am beginning? The perspective of divinity. My wish to always pay attention to and become closer to divinity. Not away from humanity, but an awareness that these days in and these days out, these words in our heads and the terror in our hearts and the pains we put ourselves through, the banal conundrums all about the surface of things are a necessity but a far removal from our divinity.

I throw away my short time all the time on the super-ego of humanity and not the divinity of it. I want to actively seek and sometimes touch the divine in me, in everything around me. One more way to put in stark relief what our brains tell us is important--like that lost lover or the hoped-for job--always forgetting that not a one of this gets out of this world alive, only remembering it when your child jumps off an overpass into oncoming traffic, drives his Jeep through the brick wall of a house, falls beaten by drugs and alcohol unconscious on the street.

I don't want tragedy to have to remind me that all that matters is love and our corporeal bodies and thoughts are ghosts waiting to happen. Once upon a time I came quite close to that other side, in the shadows. Death can happen in life and that death disappeared from mine as I clawed my way back from the mythical underground of Hades to the bright spring of sunshine and fresh air and sky.

When those days came, the return to light, the first lines of this song rang through my mind in an endless loop:

"I was lying banged and battered/ scewered and bleeding/ Talking crippled on the cross/ Was my reeling and heaving hallucinating. fleeing what a loss/The things I hadn't touched or kissed/My senses slowly slipped away/ Not like Buddha not like Vishnu, life wouldn't rise through me again."

I was there. But life rose from me and I breathe a life near the ocean in a sun-filled home and I am surrounded by fortune.

But I want never to forget, never to forget, the fragility of what I have now and how, every once in awhile, more often than not, to forget the tiny pains in my psyche and my heart and remember to turn my head away from the prison of my own limited perspective and lift it higher and remember that to contemplate the divine is truly one of the greatest gifts of love I can give myself.

There is death in divinity. Divinity in death. Beauty in ugliness. Ugliness in beauty. It's all a matter of perspective. The transposition of words. When a new affair begins, you want to show your beloved all of the good and all of the bad in the world; to understand what is important because love is a divinity that awakens all of it and reminds us that there is no such thing as forever and you want to know: why do people die, however they die, and where do they go and why. Why do people have to die? A character in a wonderful television answered simply. "To make life important."

12 February 2013

Love Affair With Myself: Cherishing My Mother

Ever Patient at Thanksgiving
 This is about the woman who carried me inside her body. When you take the time to think of that intimacy, that intimacy that happens every day, it's astounding. You were growing--you grew--from the size of a pea and grew a human body, a brain, amazing organs, eyes, limbs, and even those genetic interiors of an ancient line of DNA.

A Divine Profile

She grew me. Her mother grew her. This love affair with myself does include my deep love for so many, but maybe above all and forever, the creature who carried you inside her is the deepest most intimate human connection. The umbilical cord invisible but magnetic.

Her Birthday Cake
Mothers fall in love with their babies. A love as strong--no, no--a love a million times stronger than her deepest most passionate romantic affairs. They never stop loving us. We never stop being their children. They are in love with us all of our lives. No matter how they weaken. No matter how old they get. No matter that their minds have lost sense of time and place and space.

My Grandparents Never Stopped Laughing
 My grandma stayed my mother's mother. My mother was her baby. Even as she lived into her nineties, the care and generosity was infinite and comforting and as strong and formidable as it had always been. Even in death, she left a thousand dollars in her room, found scattered in hiding places everywhere you can imagine.

Grandma Gerry at 102
 So this is to say, I can't have a love affair with myself without writing of my own greatest love, the woman who would go through the fires of hell for me, the woman who delights in the buttered toast I giver with such glee you'd think I'd presented her with the most glorious meal in the world. The woman who always told me I was perfect, just the way I was. That I didn't have to do a single thing to be perfect. I just was. All I had to do was be.

Finally, Her Own Cake
From small childhood even into college, to soothe me, she'd run hot water into a large bowl filled with peppermint castille soap, a clean washcloth in her hand. I'd lay on the couch with my head on a pillow, my feet on her legs, and she would clean them. Hot water for warming the tired muscles. A massage of the muscles and tendons. Peppermint soap to invigorate and awaken.

She Even Texts
Few things are more infinite than holding the feet of another, offering a massage, cleaning them, reviving them. She'd cleanse me from the inside out and we talked and talked and she was as happy to wash my feet as I was happy to receive such a sacred cleansing.

Flames of the Cake
So. As much as I ignored her, my mother taught me: I am beautiful and perfect just as I am; I am beautiful and perfect and all I have to do is simply BE; how to open my heart and mind to give and receive intimate and infinite affection and love without fear. She taught me how to love myself.

Mama Owning the Camera
Now. My journey and intention is to revive all that she taught me. To bring it into the light. To begin with myself.

The Child is Grown

So how shall I begin? Something like this?
  • Walk the beach and swim in the sea every day
  • Write love letters to myself
  • Wear beautiful clothes that make me happy
  • Buy myself flowers
  • Make my home a sanctuary
  • Ride my bike every day
  • Go out dancing and dancing and dancing
  • Make art dates, shopping dates, movie dates and dinner dates with myself
  • Make dates with my friends in town
  • Write letters and send packages to my friends out of  town
  • Follow some simple steps to keep my spirit afloat
  • Connect and never let go of my tight-knit best beloveds in town
  • Commit to a daily writing date as if my life depended on it
  • Practice yoga and meditation every day
  • Read voraciously
  • Be gentle with myself and care for my self as I would for one I loved

And since my love began with my mother, I'd like to share a beautiful missive of an old mother's love letter to her daughter.
My Dear Girl

Letter from a Mother to a Daughter:

“My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through. If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”… Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep. When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl? When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way… remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day… the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through. If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you. And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked. When those days come, don’t feel sad… just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love. I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you… my darling daughter.” {Letter and image courtesy of lynette {radion}: broadcasting my brain}

My mother did this for my grandmother. I wil do this for my mother, too. Part of a love affair with myself: loving the love that brought me into this wild and precious world. It is a circle, isn't it, after all?


A Love Affair With Myself

I don’t take anything personally. I am a secondary character in other people’s stories. I know that whatever people say about me is just a projection of their image of me. It has nothing to do with me. ~ Don Miguel Ruiz

I've been preoccupied lately. For most of the last year I forgot me and poured my boundless river of bright red and bloody love to the ones around me. I gave it all way. I threw it all away. If I want to be worthwhile in that effort, this little me must come first. So I have avowed to myself to give all of that stuff to me.

Who better? Why not? How? Love letters? Gifts? Who knows. Here is this first go. Loving my image. Taking myself less seriously. Knowing, knowing, knowing and learning, learning, learning that all that I've hurt I've beaten myself up with over the years is for naught. I am nothing special. I am infinitely special. What matters most is that I treat myself with the love I give to friends, to lovers, to everyone but myself. So here's me. Here's this.

I affirm that this year, in the best way, I will fall truly, madly, deeply in love with my very own self.

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