It Doesn’t Interest Me

"RISE",  2004,  30" x 30",  m/m

"RISE", 2004, 30" x 30", m/m

This is a favorite poem:

DECLARATION OF NON-INTEREST

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love. for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from further pain!

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it. I want to know if you can be with JOY. mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself, if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.

I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy. I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty everyday, and if you can source your life on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “YES!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand at the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

—Mountain Dreamer, Indian Elder

The Way

untitled, 2003, 3" x 3", ceramic

untitled, 2003, 3" x 3", ceramic

I had a friend over last night for a glass of wine out of my new and very thin glasses.

I bought great things to eat at the store for us and left them on the bottom tier of my basket.

I hadn’t the energy to go back to get them so we had cream cheese and half stale crackers and apples and deep red wine in satisfying glasses.

The food looked the same when he left as when he arrived.  There.

But I was so glad to be sitting with him. We liked each other on first meeting but had not sat down together until now.

He is a Buddhist, real estate broker/developer, forward thinker and has a kind and direct gaze.

We talked alot about the idea of co-housing. Essentially moving the commune and intentional communities of the 60’s into the present and creating housing opportunities for us who are independent by nature but bored by the inherent separation built into current living choices.

I have always guarded my privacy and desire and need for sanctuary with sometimes poorly concealed talons..

These days, I have retracted the weaponry and instead am finding myself drawn to the idea of living in close proximity to like-minded people.

This conversation was exciting to me because I can feel the impetus of CHANGE.

We, as a creative culture of forward-reaching spirits, will ensure that as we age, we do it well; with beauty, connection, innovation, intimacy and independence.

None of these are mutually exclusive, it turns out.

If I happen to fall one day, I want to know my neighbor’s name to call out to and be somewhat sure they would not find it a burden to risk the coffee maker overflowing and come see if I’m ok.

It’s not just the security thing that interests me tho..

The whole ‘island-unto-ones’- self’ bit is so DONE. Boring.

At this stage in my life, I know the kinds of people I want to be around and the idea of inviting them in a little closer is very appealing.

Change IS happening but WE are the ones who feed the fire.

Gonna’ go get me a match….

The Nerve

"THREAD",  2001,  22" x 30", monoprint

"THREAD", 2001, 22" x 30", monoprint

Once, I had a great conversation with a friend about the question:

“Does your nervous system thrive on PEACE or does it prefer ECSTASY?”

Before MS, I think I may have answered that question differently than I would today.

As a teenager and young adult, the thing seemed to be :’ GIVE ME MORE!  MORE!  BETTER!  NOW!’

As a 54 year old woman with MS it is: “Take my nervous system and carefully lay it down on a rose-colored satin coverlet and sit close to me as we whisper about life and love and the ten thousand things.”

Biology of Belief

textile design, 1990, pigment on wool flannel

textile design, 1990, pigment on wool flannel

Recently, an MD I highly respect suggested I take a look at some of Bruce Lipton’s ideas about how consciousness affects health and healing. He began working with stem cells in the 60’s.

His hypothesis is essentially that it is not our genes which predetermine the state of our being but rather the other way around; what we believe about ourselves is the actual blueprint that has the ultimate say-so on who we become physically.

This line of thinking reeks of new-age innocence and magical thinking.

I say that with a slight smile because we all make wrong what we know nothing about often just BECAUSE we don’t know and this admission makes us feel stupid because WE DON’T KNOW!

But are those things bad?

I NEED INNOCENCE.

I can NOT imagine life without MAGIC.

If I hold true that the intelligence we are coached as a culture to revere and take as truth which is heavily weighted toward PROVABLE science is flawed and less than the whole picture, then I owe it to myself to look elsewhere..

And so I do. And have. And will continue to.

Which means taking what’s good and leave the rest but not until I really open to possibility.

Because NO ONE seems to know much of anything about MS and this leaves quite an open field.

And so I read and listen and try stuff and see what happens in my body.

It is such a no-brainer that the challenge I deal with is an autoimmune illness instead of, say, cancer or arthritis or whatever.

My body turns in on itself.

I’ve been fighting the urges to be both very visible and INvisible all my life.

Seems that tug-o-war had to find a voice somewhere along the line.

Anyway, this is interesting turf as I make my way through.

How DO you change your thinking, anyway?

Lately, I’m just so damn weary of looking outside myself for answers. I think this may be the very thing Bruce Lipton is trying to get us to see.

We’ll see..

See Me Now

hand-painted terry robe,  1987

hand-painted terry robe, 1987

I love watching what people choose to adorn themselves with.

In the 80’s, I worked out of a dirty but cool loft in the South End of Boston, next to the homeless shelter.

My partner was the epitome’ of an ‘IT’ guy.. gay, gorgeous, genius.

I was sort of the tag along doing the grunt work while he styled photographic shoots, oversaw make-up and hair and smoked alot.

I love fashion and hated the industry.

The whole damn thing was about becoming something you’re not but wish to be. It’s very seductive. Like swimming in champagne and when every bubble pops, it whispers in your ear: “You look FABULOUS…”

I loved my part of painting all the great textiles and having them sewn up into things like this robe.

When I moved to New Mexico, I wore black.

I finally figured out that my system is so sensitive that whatever I choose to wear for the day has got to somehow match my state of being. I noticed that if I wore yellow and happened to be having a contemplative day, I’d get really irritated and have to change clothes to a paler color like soft grey or burgundy; something less ‘screaming’.

After my fashion stint in Boston I was so steeped in the theater of attention-getting that I really had no clue who I was, really.

And so, the black. I wore it until fairly recently because for me the color holds no charge. It is a non-color so it let me explore what REALLY suited me. I could live my life, not call attention to myself while I was figuring things out, take a look-and-see stance rather than a life-of -the -party one.

If you go in my closet these days, you’ll see clothes that are very spare and simple. No patterns. Nice fabrics. Mostly black (yes, still..) and bright white and many shades of red.

I don’t have many clothes. I have uniforms I feel beautiful in and don’t have to think about. No buttons and few zippers. Lots of stretch fabric and easy pull-on things. Nothing dry cleanable or that needs ironing. I worry a little that my friends are weary of seeing me wear the same things over and over.

The common thread to each piece I wear seems to be that it supports my love of beauty and elegance but does not overpower me or any tangent I might choose to follow during a day.

In my effort to simplify my life, I chose two words that describe the feel I’m shooting for: SIMPLE and ELEGANT.

If I use those two words as a sort of touchstone for everything from clothes to conversation to filing systems to supplement-taking; things seem to fall nicely into place and help me feel peaceful.

All this clothes talk may seem inane to some but for me, anything I can recognize in my habitual ways of being that keeps be from entering TRUE AUTHENTICITY has gotta go..

I want THE REAL ME, and watch for what ISN’T and do something about it.

Dealing with MS has enough stress producing elements to it. I keep whittling my life down to: NOTHING EXTRA.

My love of fashion is still alive and kicking and I take care of it by looking at a great blog called The Sartorialist

The photographer shoots real people on the street from elegantly dressed men in Harlem to fashionistas with 5″heels.

It’s life out there and since I ain’t gettin’ around too good these days, the looking feels deliciously voyeuristic.

Olivia

DSCN0675

Here’s my healer-dog..

She rides in the pouch of my walker sometimes.

She is close to better after a long haul of antibiotics and love…

The love thing…

Can’t you see it in there? That willingness to show herself in this photo but with an ever so slight reserve because she needs time to see if she can trust?

Honestly, this creature has got it goin’ on…

She registers energy with a laser beam accuracy. I never know quite why she’ll go off barking on someone and not another.

I have a REALLY hard time with the barking thing as it grates on my nervous system big time.

I bought her a bark collar that sprays citronella when she barks.

After having gone through her recent ‘close-to-death’ scare, I can’t seem to bear putting the collar on. Who am I to control her voice?

I can mark my life by  ‘BL and AL’.     Before Livvy and after Livvy.

The human world is very challenged in the ‘open heart’ department.

We LOVE our MINDS! We love them so much!!!!!!!! They enchant us with their twists and turns. We NEED their golden tether. We swoon at the symphony!

Yuk..

It bores me.

I look into Olivia’s eyes and sense a vast room filled with nothing but baskets woven lovingly and filled with every imaginable pure and good thing all lined up at the ready to dole out to me and her select others…

She is judicious about her giving. Nothing indiscriminate. But pure and decisive and utterly abandoned to the task when she chooses to do it.

She keeps herself close and her energy safely tucked in toward herself when she needs ‘away- from-human-time’.

I watch her take care of herself in this way.

Really, we humans AREN’T that trustable, are we?

Works in progress, all.

Thank God for the way -showers….

I See You

"OPENING",  2000,  30" x 45", m/m

"OPENING", 2000, 30" x 45", m/m

When I really feel together out in the world I connect.

If I’m strong and solid and have enough left over to give, I do that.

Yesterday, it looked like this:

A friend picked me up and we had lunch. I felt good enough to really notice what OTHER people might be feeling.

Our waiter liked that I asked him how his day was going. The young woman who brought us water sparkled when I said thank you and later when I said she was beautiful, which she was in the most innocent of ways.

When I’m stressed I don’t notice these things..or at least some weird kind of resentment prevents me from acknowledging others in a civil and ‘fellow human’ kind of way.  I might think it but don’t say it.

I just love it when I can. It may be the thing that makes me happiest; this connected feeling I get from the smallest of acknowledgements. Taking the time to pause for a moment, look in someone’s eyes and see who’s there and reflect that back to them in some way.

It happened later at the shoe store too..

I really hate shopping. Haven’t the energy so I put it off. And I put it off… Especially in the shoe department. I need something flat with structure. No bumpy things on the sole to catch on carpets. Black to go with everything. Not too ugly or orthodic looking but my orthodic supports need to fit inside them. No ties. I have to feel cool AND safe.

And so I usually have only one pair of shoes I wear every day. Nuff’ said, I think?

I needed shoes. So we went.

I noticed a slight Native American woman and she asked if she might help us.

My friend and I picked out a few shoes we liked and continued browsing.

When I looked around, I saw she had taken each pair out of the box and lined them up so beautifully for us to try on.

I listened to my friend and I immediately slip into the ‘girl’s footwear trance’. That state of mind where everything disappears except the shoe at hand; does it fit? is it good looking? affordable? practical? and on and on and on….

I saw our lovely salesperson practicing patience. She had disappeared to us completely. I hated that all of a sudden. She had too much substance to be invisible.

So I stopped to ask her how it was to sell shoes?

She came back with:” Well, you’d never believe that with all this technology we have; new fabrics, construction, ways of supporting the foot.. women STILL have the same level of stress and anxiety finding the right pair of shoes. I think it was better when we didn’t have so many choices.”

Well, I would have missed that interesting and, I think, important comment if I’d been so full of myself to notice.

When we left the store, I said : “River (her name)- it was really nice to meet you.”

She looked me in the eye and said the same.

It was a moment. Full. Precious. We SAW each other in some way. The ‘human being’ tribe.

It was a highlight of my day, that small interaction. It was beyond culture and intellect. It happened because we both WITNESSED each other in that little moment.

So simple… So utterly fulfilling to be SEEN.

I really think that the experience of being SEEN TRULY is what EVERY person on this planet wants most.

And how easy it is to give that gift..

If we only take the time to find others equally as fascinating as we do ourselves.

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