Rapunzel, Descend

So we have been venturing forth with the possibility of others. I spoke to m about the room our friendship now has to grow into romance, and he was interested. H and I spoke about the possibility of him re-engaging with the woman over whom I’ve been harboring these fears and suspicions for so long. We decided to approach this whole thing consciously and with the intent of creating a space of healing for all involved, and that intention has paid off enormously already.

Things have been newly sweet with all three of them since. M and h and…c2? Why not.

Particularly c2. I’m slowly losing the intense feelings of jealousy and alarm that I’ve been battling since the end of that Burning Man two years ago.  We’ve had some really lovely, sincere, friendly interactions since.

Not that I haven’t backpedalled, regressed, retracted a few times. One morning in particular there was a minor explosion between h and I which helped us to discuss the fact that he feels I take advantage of my power over him sometimes (when he starts giving me more power I tend to run with it, it’s seldom I catch myself and stop short of abusing it), and helped me to re-examine the way I was framing things.

Here’s where I think our partnership is the soundest: no matter how mad we get, there is always a point in the argument where we call our own or one another’s attention to the true source of our rage. No one is ever the source of your anger–it *always* comes from within. They can only summon it. You can *always* examine and claim it, and it’s a very empowering exercise. We are good at empowering each other to claim our emotions, own them, and work through them.

Fidelity, loyalty, and concern for your partner’s well-being are all traits that reach far beyond the arena of sexual monogamy. I’m beginning to think that the perverse insistence that the entirety of the other person’s desires remain safely caged within their love for you, that using these caged desires as the proverbial canary in the mine for their entire investment in you, is in fact the primary reason that passion dulls, that love turns to disgust, that the years push so very many couples apart instead of drawing them closer together.

Not because we are all primal orgiastic creatures who can’t control our urges. Of course we can. Any human can, with enough motivation. You think a would-be rapist is gonna keep going with a gun to his head? Not hardly. Get out of here with that terrible misandrous and misogynistic rhetoric. No. Because the desire, flirtation, possibility, and chance we experiences with other human beings out in the world fuel us, they keep our imaginations going, our sexuality bright and hot, and keep the mystery of our unbindable being alive.

Also because there’s a level at which you’re always going to feel a little mischievous and pleased when having a really good conversation, when you’re feeling really in sync with someone else who you also happen to be attracted to. When you feel compelled to shut this down in the name of faithfulness, there’s a deep injustice to this, a deep untruth to cutting yourself off from a whole realm of human connection on the premise that it’s necessary to prevent you from causing the other harm. We are all at our most beautiful when allowed to self-express at will, when allowed to fly free and follow the flow of our spirits and make love to the world at large.

Conversely, when we routinely take our liberties at the direct expense of someone we claim to care about, there is another kind of untruth we’re living, one that demands confrontation. And this confrontation may never happen if we’re creating artificial, painfully tight boundaries to keep ourselves from ever having to face this question.

The mere fact of attraction to other human beings ought not have the power to undermine the integrity of your entire connection to someone. If your connection is built solely on the contractual agreements you have made to one another, or solely on your exclusive attraction, it’s doomed anyway. I guarantee it. A sound relationship is built on the successful navigation of the space between two people: between my desires and his fears, between his pleasures and my pains, between his needs and my needs and what we do with the gaps in between what we are able to do for each other.

We should always be interrogating the degree to which we allow our own insecurities to rule the other’s behavior. We should always be seeking more confidence and trust that the other’s engagement with the world is not designed to harm us. And we should always be distrustful of the pains we experience when the other is experiencing pleasure.

My definition of unconditional love is the unselfish desire for joy and pleasure for someone else. I see a relationship as the sacred work of learning to maximize that self-expression without diminishing the other. Learning the difference between lovingly calling someone to their best selves and fearfully demanding they spare you from the challenge to rise to YOUR best self.

Such fear-based contracts deny and suppress and cage the very thing that initially animated your love, encouraging you to take the other person’s proximity for granted, to stop seeing them as an ephemeral gift in your life, to stop engaging in the beautiful quest to entice and amuse and thrill them.

And yes, it hurts to find that something is less substantial than you thought it was; that someone’s bond to you was more shallow and surface level than you thought.

And yes, one person’s mutual imprisonment is another’s scaffolding towards learning selflessness.

As long as it helps you rise to your best self, it’s scaffolding. Once it starts to dishearten you, once it turns you obsessive and sad and angry, once it makes you feel anxious at even the sight of your loved one and another person enjoying an interaction together, once you start feeling threatened by their joy instead of celebrating it…maybe it’s time to consider that possibility that it has become a cage.

At its very best, jealousy is an expression of the will to protect something of great value to you. Even at its very best, though, it’s like Rapunzel’s witch: by the very act of trying to protect the beautiful, fragile thing, you restrict and imprison and hoard something which never belonged to you in the first place: the other person’s will, their love, their fire.

H and I have been newly passionate, honest, and unencumbered by one another’s and our own expectations over how we should be feeling, how we should be acting, how we should be enjoying each other. Without these layers of grime, everything feels fresh and new and real again. Instead of feeling at times like some tired ritual whose origins we can’t quite remember, whose authority we don’t entirely trust, but which, out of fear of some kind of repercussions, we daren’t stop.

Actually, all of my female friendships have a new energy to them. A new confidence. I’m unlearning my old distrust of, and competitiveness towards, my own gender. It feels really good.


A New Honesty

I had a revisitation of the paranoid, jealous feelings that have haunted me periodically since h and I got engaged (which worsened to near-unbearability during the time we shared a wall with the object of his extra-relationship desires, when I discovered through painful experience why people have and guard boundaries, what it means to be kinder to myself, that I can’t and shouldn’t trust others to care for me in this specific realm, how some people don’t actually appreciate absolute transparency from everyone they meet).

Anyway, I was obsessing over the possibility of being cheated on, lied to, of things being hidden from me, caught up in these unpleasant feelings again, and then I came to an understanding of things, of myself, that has eluded me for a long time.

The polyamory question has mostly been on the shelf leading up to, and since our marriage, and when it’s come up again, discussions have been fraught with the same bad feelings we’ve had to work through at length since. My difficulties reconciling his desire for other women. His difficulty stomaching the idea of me having a male partner. Both of our inability to talk productively about his shortcomings as a partner to me. My realization that one of my shortcomings as a partner to *him* is not being properly grateful for, and satisfied with, the many ways that he excels at love. Like taking me for who I am and where I’m at.

Well, we’re going through an ebb in romance and sexuality, a result of his intense focus of late on his business and our family’s financial well being in general, a result of Sunday mornings spent in “Financial Peace University,” a result of me working during times we would otherwise have gotten to spend together, and my frustration has been building. The other morning as he got ready to leave for work, I vented my feelings.

As he often does at such times, he offered polyamory as a more of a blow-off comment than an actual solution. He expressed that variety has always been a driver for his sexuality (I’ve been in more, and longer monogamous relationships than he has-this bothered me less in the context of this specific discussion than it has before), and I said “maybe I should just have a boyfriend on the side,” and he agreed, and said that he doesn’t have a problem with the idea the way he used to.

I’ve long had this uncomfortable tug-of-war between my desires and what I think my desires should be, or what I want them to be; what I can force them into. I have romantic notions about only having eyes for one person, and I have lived experience to tell me that I am capable of being monogamous indefinitely, and that there are certain benefits to this “eyes for only you” mentality, and wanting both at once has kept me in this weird space. Obviously our relationship has never been based on “all I need is you,” but we keep trying to make it into that, because we both, for all of our oddities, counter-culture pride, etc., lean conservative in our images of Romance, of Partnership. We both want the benefits of the status quo, and we both over-romanticize the standard version of a sexual partnership. And we both tend to fudge the truth a little in order to give the other one what they want, or what we think they want. I think we’re both cheating each other (and ourselves) out of what we really want by doing this.

Our relationship is built of stuff we both understand to be more lasting than romantic obsession. We’re in love with one another and we’re committed to growing into our best selves partly through the conflict and pain of encountering one another’s foreignness, one another’s differences, one another’s needs that we find it difficult to fulfill.

Now more than ever we’re excelling at pragmatic partnering; at constructive argument, at demon-facing and necessary growth. I finally realized that I could find power from identifying that as our baseline, as the primary component of our love, rather than trying to maintain for myself and him, and have him try to maintain for himself and for me, that our basis is the traditional “you’re my everything/all I need” model.

Knowing this, identifying this, gave me the strength to say outright, without fear or shame on his behalf or mine, that in the area of romance and sexual/spiritual connection, things are not sustainable for me. He is content going through droughts of these kinds of connection while he works on and seeks out other things; I am not. I asked him whether he desired a greater spiritual/sexual connection with me and he said no; not really. He said he was interested in it, but the things he *desires* he pursues with passion and fixation.

This conversation has always gotten hung up on some combination of him disavowing responsibility for my sexual fulfillment, me backpedalling guiltily from the suggestion that I might want another man, me trying to soothe what I imagine is a wounded ego at the mere suggestion. And/or him backing down from the desire to have sex with other women.

“Okay,” I said, “So, maybe the answer to this difference in desires is polyamory. And maybe your desire to be spiritually connected with me will grow if you see that as an area of competition with others; maybe it won’t. It’s okay that you don’t desire that. And it’s okay that I do. What’s not okay is you demanding that I live in a perpetually unsatisfied state that you have no intention of resolving.”

Since this conversation, he has been stepping it up. I think he does romantically want to be my one-and-only, and has a desire to fulfill my needs. It’s also nice having the option for other situations on the table, and honestly naming and owning my desires-my desire for romance; my desire to be deeply desired and seen and loved; my desire for connection as one of the driving factors of my life.

Marriage and Holding Space

Marriage is not a love affair. A love affair is a totally different thing. A marriage is a commitment to that which you are. That person is literally your other half. And you and the other are one. A love affair isn’t that. That is a relationship for pleasure, and when it gets to be unpleasurable, it’s off. But a marriage is a life commitment, and a life commitment means the prime concern of your life. If marriage is not the prime concern, you’re not married….The Puritans called marriage “the little church within the Church.” In marriage, every day you love, and every day you forgive. It is an ongoing sacrament – love and forgiveness…. Like the yin/yang symbol….Here I am, and here she is, and here we are. Now when I have to make a sacrifice, I’m not sacrificing to her, I’m sacrificing to the relationship. Resentment against the other one is wrongly placed. Life in in the relationship, that’s where your life now is. That’s what a marriage is – whereas, in a love affair, you have two lives in a more or less successful relationship to each other for a certain length of time, as long as it seems agreeable.

-Joseph Campbell,  The Power of Myth

H and I were married in the desert, last week, at the Temple, David Best’s first unnamed temple and ostensibly his last temple altogether. It was beautiful. Sunset. Right after we finished, a dust storm came through.

Lots of our friends were there, but not all of them. One of my sisters.

The night before the wedding, he said, “Just because I can walk this life alone, doesn’t mean I want to.” He turned around, boyish, adventuresome, epic in his big fur coat and mane of hair. “I don’t know what’s coming, but I know we’ll be ready for it.” My desert vows, he told me.

And I said, “On your behalf, I will rise to any challenge.”

In the wake of this beautiful moment I experienced a cacophony of emotions, doubt in myself and discomfort that I was on acid, (although fitting, really, since we were engaged in a similar state of mind) desire to express to him then and there all of the joy and hope and love in my heart, disappointment that the words did not come, desire to be present, anxiety over the fact that my present moment included unwanted doubts.

On Sunday night, we had gone to a Temple Guardian training. During the training, we were taught to hold space for other’s sacred experiences instead of imposing our own. We were taught that being a Guardian does not mean Guarding the Temple, but holding the space for the community to experience their own sacred, holding the intention of the purpose of the space.

That night/early in the morning h helped an extremely distraught man find his camp. He spoke of needing to hold space for himself as an imperfect holder of space. Through my turmoil, as I watched my own doubt and discontent begin to drag me backwards from a beautiful, loving moment towards the fear and void of a bad trip, this message took hold, and I began to hold space for the doubt, for the void itself, which is not an eternity but a limbo, the becoming, the magma, the as-of-yet unresolved conflict.

I realized that in order to be a rock for h the way he is a rock for me, I need to really good and love myself, through and through. And some of that self is unresolved conflict, and some is becoming, and some is doubt, and some is fear. And now I know how to love it al, not by actively projecting affection onto it, but by holding patient, sacred space for its existence.

And we moved through that night together, with some joy and some fear and some purpose and some doubt, and then the next day was a whirl of joy and love.

This man challenges everything I am. Calls out to everything I can be. Wakens in me the vision of the things I might otherwise allow to wither and rot.

A note, though, on substances.

I think it might be useful to see them as scaffolding. They have tangible benefits, not to be overlooked, and there is nothing wrong, per se, with using them. But as with all things there is a tradeoff. Entheogens and such can get us closer to our personal reality and give us more liberty in that realm, but they do it by suppressing some of our connection to consensual reality. It’s not that you shouldn’t be allowed to access the cool benefits that they offer. It’s just that there’s a way to access those states of mind and still retain a sound connection with consensual reality.

And while I wasn’t being punished for taking them via doubt in a moment I would have liked to be filled with uncomplicated joy, punishment is not the issue here. The issue is what I would like to experience. So now I have an even greater imperative towards total sobriety.

In any case. Lots of magma. Lots of renewal. I feel like something of a new person. Our marriage thus far is thriving, thanks also in part to 9energies, a description of nine different ways of translating things from the energetic world to the world of matter. The idea is that knowing which one we are can help us maximize our power and better our relationships. H is a two and I am a four. He is far and away the best at relationships with all of the other energies, because he is the most capable of meeting and connecting with people no matter where they’re at. I have the ability to create a space of complete and active acceptance of others, a “bubble” of safety and love.

They told h that he needs to cuddle me a lot. They told me that I need to be conscious of my bubble, not withdraw it from h when I feel hurt or rejected. Both of these pieces of advice have loaned themselves to a lot more harmony in our relationship. I’m definitely skeptical of the whole 9energies idea, why nine, where did it come from? The lens has proved useful, though. Which is the point of lenses, right? To help you see in a new way.

Calm, compassionate, centered.

My new mantra, courtesy of this excellent piece by Jonathan Zap which I found via Rob Brezsny, another favorite source of comfort and advice. This was perhaps my favorite part of the entire essay:

Speaking of our thoughts, we need to watch them constantly. We need to recognize that different voices, often generated by distinct subpersonalities, speak in our heads, and we need a central, witness personality that observes those voices/subpersonalities without becoming them. Hexagram 27 reminds us not to nourish ourselves on negative, unnourishing thoughts and fantasies. Yes, that’s easier said than done, but here are a couple of psychic filters to keep online that are guaranteed to catch all the psychic allergens (the negative thought forms) that all too easily pervade our inner world. We’ll call the first of these the “tone filter.” As you listen to the voices of your inner world (or the voices in your outer, interpersonal world) refuse to believe any voices that aren’t calm, compassionate and centered. Listen to them, understand where they are coming from, but don’t become them, don’t identify with them or believe them. If a voice is nagging, carping, bitter, mechanically repetitious, whining, angry, self-pitying, hypercritical, etc. then it is not to be believed! By tone, you can easily distinguish the voices of false subpersonalities and the still, deep voice of the Self.

I’ve long understood that I need to consciously distinguish between the various voices inside of my head if I want to find peace of mind. H said something to this effect while observing me struggling with my demons, and it made sense to me. What I lacked was an efficient formula to get me back to The Observer. Now I have it. Wait until the voice is calm, compassionate, and centered. That’s your true voice.

Fear can be pretty convincing when it tells you that it’s out to protect you. Even when you consciously decide that loving others is more important to you than the threat of being made a fool/deceived, fear can still make a compelling argument that if you turn your back on it, you will suffer. Most of our failures of love take place in the realm of trying to balance self-love against love of the other. I found Zap’s summary of the I Ching principle of meeting halfway to be helpful as well, since most of failures of love come, not from failing to look out for others, but from meeting them more than halfway. The answer may always be “love more” but in some situations, it’s not clear what that looks like (h’s perspective on this tends to be “I got stronger by being left on my own in the cold; so will others,” the opposite of my “happiness comes from never ever leaving anyone in the cold on their own!”)

At the center of relating well to others, cautiously moving outward from your center of inner independence, is the I Ching principle of meeting halfway (Hexagram 44). Less than halfway would be, for example, to neglect others to whom we are connected by inner ties. More than halfway would be, for example, giving unasked for advice, proselytizing, self-important intervening, lifeguarding others, etc. So if you go to a party and see someone you’re attracted to, but you’re so shy that you hide in a corner and never approach him or her, then you have met less than halfway. Hitting on him or her (without some obvious encouragement from the other) would be meeting way more than halfway. Even in the course of a conversation one needs to apply this principle of meeting halfway by keeping attuned to the moment, aware of the subtle minutiae of openings and closing in the other person. With the openings we advance, with the closings we retreat and yield space. When the other transgresses, invades boundaries or comes at us with false personality, we should never go along with it, should never do anything that compromises our inner dignity. We should withdraw energy from the person who is coming from their false self. This can mean anything from breaking eye contact (a withdrawal of energy), ending the conversation, or in some cases, going our own way for a lifetime. When we do withdraw we should do so lovingly, giving the other space to come to his senses on his own. We do not, in I Ching terms, “execute” this person in our minds, which would be to view him as hopeless and unable to improve. This would only help to keep him imprisoned by doubt. We also don’t indulge excessive optimism that assumes he will become more conscious in this lifetime, or that extends trust where it is being abused. We step back to allow the creative to take its zigzag course. And for our own sake, as well as the other, we try not to carry ongoing grudges against someone. From the I Ching point of view, we are responsible not only for what we say or do to the other, but also for our thoughts, because these are communicated on the inner plane.

I encountered this piece during a bout of insomnia after our lovely and life-affirming Solstice gathering with our dear friends (actually celebrating s’s birthday, but for me it had the significance and function of the solstice).

On another note, I’m setting forth an intention in the new year to take some time, research what I need to do to stop contributing to some of the more terrible practices that continue to flourish in our world–figure out which major restaurants, clothing manufacturers, etc. are treating workers unethically, refusing to invest in sustainability, polluting our planet, etc.–and make my life conform to my believies by refusing to give them my money.

I also intend to make art a bigger part of my life. I miss grad school! I miss being part of a community of artists! This needs to happen.

Faith is a Birthright

I’ve been noticing how much I look to h to provide my happiness, now that I’ve accepted responsibility for my own happiness again. Or rather, come back around to acknowledging that I have more control over it than anyone else.

Recently I was feeling at my absolute limit of being sick with anxiety and barely-held-at-bay despair, so I determined to sit and meditate until something substantial was accomplished (with a slight amount of apprehension at the prospect of failing to do so, thus diminishing my trust in myself and in the idea that substantial things can be accomplished in such a way in the first place.) I alternately tried to clear my head, reminded myself that everything that I need and want to become is already inside of me, and repeated to myself the following lines: Knock and it shall be opened. Ask and ye shall receive. Seek and ye shall find. I told myself that revelation is my birthright.

I sat for hours. People came and went, two dogs investigated me, I put the blue sapphire in my mouth and could only respond with gestures to the woman who owned the second dog. It began to get dark, and then my phone died, and a small panic rose in me. I told myself that I could not leave until the decision was not motivated by fear. I held the sapphire, some tree bark, the skeleton key, and Syd’s pin in my hand and prayed. “I know the person I will become is inside of me already. So I know that I have the capacity to make this happen right now. What am I looking for, exactly? The sapphire is here to help me channel the resources to explore abilities that I may not understand or possess yet. The bark is to remind me that I am always here and now. The skeleton key means through all obstacles, but I don’t have the charm that represents the obstacle because…because I already have the obstacle. What is the obstacle?”

I thought about it. The obstacle to my joy recently has been fear. Fear fear fear. Fear all of the time. My troubled brain has been seeking signs of doom everywhere. I’m glad h laughed at the phrase “secret sex.” It’s a nice leavening from all of the angst to giggle at my fevered imagination. Secret sex. What he and c (different c) are having around every corner, if fear speaks the language of truth.

Last night, after drinking a fair amount in celebration of h’s 29th birthday, c and I slept together. H watched towards the end, and orgasmed right after c delivered me an extremely satisfying climax. It felt really good. I hope she enjoyed it as much as I did. She seemed to.

Oh what a hell the imagination can create from jealousy. Every detail becomes a dot to be connected by distrust. The two of them are both upstairs. They must be fucking. They are talking quietly in the kitchen. They must be in love. Neither has responded to my latest Facebook message. They must be messaging each other.

This situation is like a bucking bronco, trying to get my jealousy to lose its grip on the situation through sheer violence. So: fear. What is the source and the answer to my fear? I fumbled somewhat before seizing upon faith. I don’t have enough faith in…in what? In h, in the situation, in love…faith. I closed my eyes and relaxed my mind. I could sense something flickering faintly. A warmth surfaced and then disappeared. Faith…FAITH is my birthright. The flickering strengthened. I have a right to faith, faith which takes no shit from evidence or lack thereof, faith which shines independent of all else.

The hope at the bottom of Pandora’s box. I’ve been battling with a lot of monsters for a long time now. It was about fucking time I looked for the upside of all this darkness. How long has it been since I remembered this pilot light inside of me? How long have I been reconciled to despair?

I think after I left the Mormon church, I transferred that faith to love for safekeeping, so it wouldn’t lead me right back into the circular thinking, and then when a and I broke up, it went out. I think I’ve just finally figured out how to revive it now that I’m less inclined to turn around and hand it directly to h–like I was somehow protecting myself from surrendering one of the most important parts of me unnecessarily in the name of love.

It feels really good to look inside of myself and find it again: irrepressible, undying, bright hope, something that exists outside of my inner world of logic and reason. When you reason yourself into optimism, despair is always waiting just at the boundaries of it…because there’s plenty of evidence to support pessimism, too. Faith is something beyond that. Unwavering. Unresponsive to the external. It’s like the nub of me that was left when I went through that drug-induced hell was the unlit pilot light. It was always there, hunkering down, surviving, but it wasn’t warming me at all when the chilly winds of doubt and fear and despair came rolling in, which is why I kept slipping into a vacuum state, a needy energy with h. I wanted some of his warmth. I’m not sure whether his pilot light is lit, or whether he’s just more determined than me and shivering too. I’ve seen him shiver. If he doesn’t have it, I wonder if I can help him find the faith that is his birthright.

Though I’m still struggling to find my way, I think this renewal is the key to producing something I can be proud of as an artist. It’s the missing piece of myself I’ve been looking for all this time. It’s the spark that animates the dead material of art into life. NOW I feel capable of anything.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, indeed. You know, what if religion really does exist to protect people from the deeper levels of hell you need to traverse if you’re ever going to experience the higher levels of heaven? So people in organized religion are there for a reason that shouldn’t be fucked with? This shit is gnarly, I can see how some people would rather just never even get close to it and also never experience a broader and more God-like view of the world.

The Miracle of Love

My dear h and I have long been just slantwise of each other.

I always wanted a man to love me beyond any contribution I could make to his life, beyond my willingness to be possessed by him and him alone, beyond the trappings of what I was or appeared to be at any given time.

One of my worst fights with the one who got away occurred after the episode of Nip/Tuck in which the son’s girlfriend reveals herself to be transgender. “What if I turned out to be transgender?” I asked him. “And you had never even realized it?”

“I would throw you out,” he said, with passion and sincerity. “I would throw you out on the street right now.”

“But…I’d still be exactly the person you met and loved. Exactly the same person.”

“But you would have lied to me all this time. Our entire relationship would be built on a lie.”

Whenever I review our relationship, I think back on that particular moment as the tiny crack that, over time, allowed our love to split apart. The knowledge that, had I lied to him out of fear, every single bit of love for me would be negated in his eyes. I had seen the limits of his love. The extent of his empathy, even for me. I saw then that he did not love me more than himself, or at least not more than his own fears, or at least not more than my own theoretical fears.

Fear: the enemy of love.

So I was always on the lookout for a love that could survive anything. And h had demonstrated his love to be just that. Over and over again. And yet I couldn’t…quite…settle into a relationship with him. And every time we tried, we immediately began to trigger again all of the bad characteristics that had driven us apart before: mainly his neediness and my fear that I couldn’t give him what he needed. The minute we would try to be together, we would drive one another away with our expectations. We had a bad pattern of highlighting our failures of connection.

Two nights ago I moved back in with him, not under the most ideal circumstances, i.e. because I don’t have anywhere else to go at the moment. We were preparing to go on an acid trip together, and it occurred to me to put a prayer out into the universe. I prayed for the trip to help me see him, really see him, such that I could love him the way I want to.

My prayer was answered. And how.

He and I spent several hours circling and circling around each other, all of the reasons we can’t be the person the other one needs, all of our miscommunications and struggles and fears and selfishnesses, our desires and limitations, trying to find a way to make this living-together-thing make sense despite not actually being together.

We were in different rooms, still talking at one another, still talking about why we’re not meant to be together, and then all of a sudden at the same exact time, we had this incredible clicking-into-place. I was in the bathroom looking in the mirror, and he came in and joined me, and we stared at one another and just knew.

Everything in my head just came together, all of the slight disconnects, all of the problems, and all of the reasons why they’re not actually problems….just…slid into place. He saw it happen in me, and I saw it happen to him too, somehow, like we were reading one another’s minds. I SAW it. And he SAW it happen to me.


And we both just looked at one another wide-eyed, like “You’re the One. Holy fuck. You’re the one I’ve been preparing for my whole life.”

My mother tells me how when I was a little girl, I would chase a cat until it turned around to see what I wanted and then I would freak out and cry because I didn’t know what to do when that happened.

I started crying, but not just from fear this time: from fear, and joy, and awe. And we were both very awkward and shy around each other for a couple of hours. I suggested we get really, really drunk because I was scared to talk to him, I wanted to be perfect for him, and he didn’t want to get drunk, so we braved the next several hours of being in awe of one another and making the most painfully anxious conversation I’ve ever experienced, both knowing we could never live up to one another’s ideal of us (while knowing at the same time that it was accurate). We had witnessed one other’s divinity, and in the process got a sense of our own as well, and I learned how to love and forgive awkwardness (my lifelong enemy) because of what it means. Because others deserve our awe, and we deserve their patience.

We didn’t even really have to talk about it. When we did, it was clear that we’d both had the exact same experience, just as we thought. That we were both now taking for granted (and at once treating it as the most precious thing in the world) that we’re going to be there for each other, that’s it, that’s all. It was undeniably holy and I wish this gift upon everybody.

Oh, and we’re also still polyamorous. “I love the way you love. Why would I want to try and cage that?” he asked.

Miracles happen. This world. This world. Holy holy holy…

When You Make Space For It

It’s confusing pursuing the non-material world.

The astrophysicist recently had to ask me to back down because I’ve been barraging him with questions and ideas and arguments about the credibility of objective vs. subjective experience. I trust him more than I trust most people when it comes to knowledge of the material world and he also shares similar motivations to mine in both his willingness and his hesitation to engage with magic, the supernatural, the unseen, the perhaps coincidental, perhaps not. So his responses, his objections, his adjustments, they’re marvelous because he’s simultaneously painting a better picture for me of his own personal ontology here, and helping me test the boundaries of my own ontology.

You know, I keep forgetting that I didn’t specifically set out to find divinity. I’m afraid of something…I’m not sure what…something to do with building up a fantasy world for myself that doesn’t actually exist, that will reveal itself to be a huge sham. No. I’m afraid of trusting in something that might lull me into a false sense of security and then fail me at a crucial moment. This is the knee-jerk fear that is deep inside of me. But it’s a silly fear, because I’ve never traded truth for happiness, and I’m only pursuing divinity because it’s inviting me to and consistently rewarding my efforts.

It’s funny how we can’t stop inventing deals with god. We have this obsessive, fearful need to both prove and disprove the details of our inner world, of our interactions with something beyond us. My intellect keeps begging for more proof. The thing is there will never be enough material evidence when it comes to the non-material. Every now and then there is something amazing and physically solid and just a little too coincidental to discount, but never enough to prove anything.

The subjective is the space where we develop our own dances with eternity. The objective is where we learn to do these dances in harmony. It’s difficult to compare notes when it comes to the subjective. I think that’s why so many people are drawn to religion–it’s so scary and lonely trying to forge a personal practice, a personal cosmology, and you feel like a crazy person because you’ve been taught your whole life not to trust yourself. And your conditioning wants predictable, consistent, material results as proof. And the non-material doesn’t offer that.

What I’ve found it to offer instead is largely random, coincidental encounters with people, texts, experiences, and activities that offer insight into specific ideas I’ve been grappling with. Now that I’m paying attention (when I remember), the physical world around me appears to be constantly collaborating to help me to understand the non-physical.

So, for example, I’ve also been struggling with what love means, what it feels like, what keeps it out, what lets it in. What it means to be true to yourself, especially when you tend to deconstruct everything and/or when you try to be open to every sort of possibility and it seems like the possibility of love is always right around the corner but the reality of it is nowhere. Well, you know. Not romantic love.

And also thinking about how hard it is to walk off the edge of a precipice. How every time you take that step into the future, the void, it solidifies around you and life goes on. And even when you don’t you still find yourself, one step later, on the edge.  And you can look at this as walking on air, as a miracle, or you can look at this as terrifying and unstable, and they’re both true depending on how you’re feeling about it.

And I watched this movie, and it took all of these thoughts, and feelings, and emotions, and offered them up to me in a way that made sense both rationally and viscerally. It met my questions and enriched them and challenged them. It gave me emotional insight into my experience and motivations I haven’t reconsidered in years. Between the timing and certain references, it felt very personal to me.

In this society we only consider subjective experience “true” when it matches up to objective experience. Nothing I could tell you about what I’ve experienced since I began trying to listen to the universe would reassure a single critic that what I’m saying is true. But that doesn’t make it any less true.

When There Is Only Silence

I have been going through a period of quiet. Quiet signals from the universe, or non-signals. When the two are indistinguishable you’re running on faith, and when faith is at an ebb it can be very lonely. My faith is at an ebb. I feel very lonely.

It’s not a bad thing to feel this way. At least I have a sense of the patterns still, of the big picture. At least I know this too shall pass, and while it refuses, I’m growing. I don’t feel abandoned. I’m just hunkering down and keeping watch for the next flowering of hope.

Non-ordinary reality, I think, means this: everything in the physical world is some reflection of the non-physical world. Every simple thing has more meaning to it than we understand. When I begin to be dissatisfied with the quiet assurance of seeing “magic numbers” everywhere, when I have gone a time without my “truth shivers,” or without appreciating them, is probably more accurate, I sometimes forget the brilliant, multi-varied, cohesive reality I have begun to invest in deep down, which tells me that anything I attach meaning to is, indeed meaningful, because everything is holy, everything is friendly and sacred and profitable and divine.

C is silent. I felt her silence welling up even when we were together, briefly, an evening together and a morning together and a trip to the lake with friends. And now it is real. I am full of questions I cannot ask. I want to know if she is okay. I want to know if something I did made the silence necessary. I want to know if she is okay. But it is not my right to know anymore. Her absence echoes the hollow places in me that are filled with her brightness when she is present.

This is what I want: I want to love everyone I can to the fullest extent that I can. The fullest extent I can love c is pretty damn far. Maybe this is why the silence. Maybe the fullest extent is both too far and not far enough. Maybe she wants less and more. Maybe she just needs silence.

Sometimes I wish I could love h further. He is still in my life too. We are very loving and close and we are not having sex anymore. I cannot feel the things I want to feel for him. There is no good reason for this. It is one of those things you can’t control.

Excellent books I recently finished: Just Kids. Cruddy. They are both primers for living in a world that is often not particularly nice. They were both loaned to me by a man who says he is not the type to fall in love with. He says he is the type to sleep with and then forget about. He took me to the Sutro Baths, which reminded me of Hearst Castle. Ruins of extravagant wealth. The most amazing purple scum growing atop the green-grey mold and moss: a perfect metaphor.

This city is so beautiful. There are so many beautiful and good and lovely things. It is so ugly that so many people in the city make the things and transport the things and serve the things and sell the things and can’t afford the things. It’s ugly enough to cancel out most of the beauty.

Rid of inequality this would truly be a marvelous world.

I never finished my piece about Mamacita. I think I’ll leave it that way. If there is a round two, perhaps I will revisit some of the moments from the first time around. In the meantime, all you should know is: I am still learning her lessons. I am still surprised by the patterns I can now step back, recognize, and undo.

In the quiet between the waves, it can seem as though anything is possible, and it can seem as though nothing at all is possible. It can be a painful place to wait for somebody, for something, for a miracle.

The things that are don’t have to be. It is entirely up to us.


I should have been more nervous.

Mamacita, from what I’d heard, can cause terrifying hallucinations, vomiting, diarrhea. At the very least it promised to be an intense experience.

But I wasn’t afraid. I was too hungry for her teachings.

Remember this particular experience in Utah?:

I was already firmly convinced that the same awareness which observes this human woman, Me, as she struggles through her thoughts about the world, as she negotiates her fears and desires, is the awareness that flows through everything else that is, i.e. God. I already believed myself to be God. In the tradition of the transcendentalists, of Ginsberg and Emerson, of philosophers and poets and scientists aplenty, I thought of myself as, somewhere deep inside of me, at least, all powerful and all knowing. I Am that I Am.

But what is the logical conclusion of this thought? Where do you land when you follow it all the way? I found out, as the acid that night took me deeper and deeper into my own head, into my own understanding of the universe. What good is it to be all powerful if you can’t manifest the things you want? I wondered. How do I take advantage of this power? Where do I go from here?

There were several things I concluded as I searched myself. One: the entire universe folds in on itself constantly. Every line of thought I chased came out again on the other side, saying the opposite of what it started out saying. Every time I thought I found a Truth, I kept going and saw my own tail still trundling after my front half. I did a series of M.C. Escher thought puzzles, and by the end of it, exhausted and certain I’d solved the mysteries of the universe again, to an even greater degree this time, I suddenly felt convinced that I was just a vast and lonely power, putting on an enormous puppet show for itself.

Since then, I’d been in a deep limbo. Not suicidal, just…not really convinced I was still supposed to be alive. Like, “okay, can I die already please?”

It’s not that I can’t come up with something useful to do with myself. It’s more that I have so many ideas of what to do, and I can’t for the life of me figure out which one to pursue. And I’m not sure I can ever release the part of my heart that assigned itself forever to the one who got away, which means I can never go all-in on love again. Loving someone deeply and completely was always my key sustaining factor, so if I can’t do that again…what’s the point? How am I supposed to care?

Still alive, and tired of coasting through with this sense of futility and disengagement bordering on despair, I knew I had to do something drastic.

The thought of Burning Man kept me going. I made it there, and it definitely lifted my spirits. I went on a journey to find my spirit animal, and despite doubts, I found it, and had the discovery confirmed, as I’ve heard many do, by seeing my spirit animal again shortly thereafter in a clear physical form, in this case a painting hanging above a couch at the Bureau of Misinformation.

I was sitting on that couch, not thinking about much, when the thought floated through my head: you should become an ayahuasca shaman.

At the time I didn’t know very much about ayahuasca. I’ve talked to a handful of people who have taken it at some point, and I’ve seen documentaries that talked about it. All in all, it was a pretty random thought, especially since I’ve never put a lot of stock in shamanism.

When I got back from the desert, I mentioned this to a few people. One of them said, “Oh, ___ did that recently.”

I perked up. “In the Bay?”

“Yeah! She went to a shaman here in the Bay Area and did the ceremony. She had a really cool experience. You should talk to her.”

Talk to her I did. We got Ethiopian food and she told me all about her own experience, and then said she would talk to the shaman and have her contact me.

Now here I was, in the small basement quarters of an experienced shaman, placing my intentions on the altar along with a small pouch of stones and crystals and the ring given to me by the one when he proposed in a last-ditch effort to save our relationship.

“My intention for this ceremony is to learn what I need to let go of, and what to hold onto, to best serve light and love.”

I retreated to my cushion as the shaman and the other companion for our journey smiled supportively. Soon after we drank the earthy, bitter liquid and then waited for it to take effect. I must admit I wanted beautiful visions; I wanted to meet Aya, mother vine, as my shaman said I might. I wanted to be overtaken with a pervasive sense of the wonder and connectedness of this world, to be shaken to the core.

Looking back, I realize this was greedy of me. I’ve already had such experiences (short of meeting Aya.) In any case, she came to me not in a mighty wind or terrifying visions, but in the “still, small voice” of my childhood religion. Almost immediately, gentle questions began making themselves present in my mind. She interrogated me about why I look externally so often, instead of internally, for answers, why I rely on drugs instead of listening to my heart.

My friend also talked about being afraid of being alone, which I guess is also my deepest fear…but I didn’t want to acknowledge it…Aya made me face it.

I have to abbreviate my experience because I want to share some of the most exciting parts and I’m running short of time. Mostly I purged that night, had little glimpses of beauty, laughed at myself, but nothing earth-shattering. The next night I set out with the intention: “To open my heart and mind to the dimensions I have not yet experienced, and to meet any spirit guides who are ready to reveal themselves to me.”

My shaman told me she never used to believe in angels, but now she is certain of their existence. They leave her dimes sometimes to announce their presence.

One of my recent experiences on mushrooms, I noticed that the light imprint on my eye was not following my gaze, but leading it…interacting with me…my first clear experience with an unseen presence. Or, not my first, but my clearest.

My second night involved a great deal of purging as well. I saw a spirt guide who may have been the White Buffalo Woman. Aya kept beginning to march out to great fanfare but staying just hidden…I saw the white edges of her…

I think one of my imperatives now is faith. Faith over fear.

I’m going to have to make this a two-parter. I had another experience with Mamacita on Sunday night, after leaving my shaman’s house. But in the meantime I want to note that one of the most elevating experiences was not during the actual ceremony, but during a spirit journey we undertook, a meditation on Saturday afternoon where she used the drum to help us travel to the Hall of Sacred Conference.

When I arrived, I met the one who got away. “Was this supposed to happen?” I asked, “Or did I mess it up?”

I got the distinct impression that he and I have journeyed together through many lifetimes, that we’ve ‘gotten it right,’ so to speak, before, and that this time we decided to be apart in order to learn how to expand our love to others, to have a more universal love.

“But I have an easier time loving others unconditionally when I can anchor my unconditional love in you!” I told him. “Can we make a new agreement? I think we were wrong…”

All the same, when we came back, I felt a new peace. If we have many lifetimes, and he and I have already shared many lifetimes, and my mission in this one is to learn to be separate from him…just that thought alone helps somehow. Which isn’t to say that I don’t still yearn for him, or hope that our meeting in the Hall of Sacred Conference hasn’t reached him on a soul level, and gotten him thinking…

I still want to meet Aya, but I see her point in using the language of my childhood spirituality to commune with me, in pointing out to me how many times I’ve had evidence of the divine in my life and denied or forgotten its significance, and in demanding from me more faith and patience. Nevertheless, my mind continues to be blown on a daily basis ever since.

Wonder, wonder, wonder…this world is truly magnificent, and we are coming upon an incredible time…