I love how snow makes everything quiet. I love how clouds, rivers, oceans, raindrops, glaciers, and geysers are all made out of the same thing. I love paper lanterns, ballpoint pens, and altars. I love my heart for never abandoning me, even when others do.
I love meandering on overgrown trails at this wildlife sanctuary near my house. I love that halfway down one of the paths there’s a lone wooden bench that overlooks a beaver pond. Sometimes I sit there for a while and drink in the view. Other times I lie down and look up at the sky. Through the tree branches clouds drift by in perfect impermanence, reminding me how fleeting and fragile this incarnation is. By the time I sit back up, I’m sufficiently humbled.
I love my eyelids—I don’t appreciate them enough, but they’re so important. I love honey, vivid dreams, craniosacral therapy, and my red winter coat that makes me look like I belong in a catalog for some country bumpkin outfitter or horse tack supply store. I love my fears for encouraging me to be brave. I love my hands for feeling this world into existence. I love the moon in all of her moods.
I love haiku poets like Yoshiko Yoshino who manage to capture the most vivid images in just three short lines:
nights of spring— tides swelling within me as I’m embraced
I love that there are so many incredible things happening on this planet that inspire me. Just this morning I saw a trailer for a documentary called Landfill Harmonic about The Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay. This is such a beautiful story about a poverty-stricken town built on top of a landfill. One of the garbage collectors named Favio Chávez began to salvage trash from the landfill and create instruments out of it. Then, he taught some local youth how to play them and they started an orchestra! Is that amazing or what?
I love people who think outside the box. Actually, I love that there is no box.
I love that my friend just texted me and said she was sweating like a banshee while breastfeeding her baby in a bookstore. I thought that was a great sentence— maybe it was the alliteration that hooked me. I do love language, a lot. Even though the most profound truths are often communicated in silence, I am enthralled by the way words can shape reality. One Tantra teacher that I know often says that the most erogenous zone is between the ears (and the only way to reach there is with words), but then again he’s a linguist, so it’s no wonder that he thinks that! Still, I like the sentiment.
I love how often I feel like I’m in this wild arm wrestle with my conditioning. Every now and then I step back from the game and realize that my habitual patterns really are starting to shift. It’s not always easy to discern the changes because they’re subtle, but they’re happening nonetheless. I’m just easing up on myself, that’s all. Maybe that’s why I was given the dharma name “Gentle Blooming of the Heart” many years ago at Plum Village. Perhaps the beloved monk who named me saw what I am starting to see: that my heart is like a flower—blossoming slowly, in her own time. There’s no need to force anything.
I love that Mooji said, “You need nothing to be happy; you need something to be sad.” Ain’t that the truth? Sometimes happiness arises for absolutely no reason, but sadness... sadness almost always arises in relation to thought. I remember when I was in the South Indian town of Tiruvannamalai eight years ago, sitting on a rooftop. I was just sitting there on this mat, looking up at a sacred mountain called Arunachala, when this wave of happiness rose up out of the ocean of my being and washed all of my thoughts away. Suddenly everything was in its right place—the clothes were hanging on the line, the little girl across the road was screaming, and I was ecstatic for no reason whatsoever.
I love that real happiness has nothing to do with external causes or conditions; I only wish I could remember that more often.
I love Benjamin Smythe. He’s this eccentric guy who shares videos on YouTube, and he makes me inquire in a really good way. He is so totally himself and he also says “fuck” a lot, which I find refreshing. I just love that he is a truth-teller who is honest about his own experience, and I learn so much from his insights. For instance: If you want to be pissed off, all you have to do is get an opinion about somebody else’s life. How true! But what I love more than anything about Benjamin is his unabashed realness. He is so unpretentious and authentic that I can’t help but be riveted every time I tune in. Plus, he makes me laugh.
I love that I attended this Medicine Wheel Prayer Circle recently and it was such a deep gathering. Fifteen of us sat around a little medicine wheel, surrounded by stones and crystals. Each person placed a stone on the wheel and shared some prayers. One woman cried and prayed for all of the daughters who are struggling in these tumultuous times. One man prayed for the trees. Another sweet soul said she felt like she was giving birth to herself and the contractions were getting so fast and strong that all she could do was breathe through the pain. I could definitely relate.
I love how powerful it is to sit in a circle with other human beings and share sincerely. Great transformation is possible when we simply bear witness to each other. That’s why, at the end of the afternoon, all I could say was: “I give thanks for tenderness.” Yes, tenderness. That soft, delicate quality—it can thaw even the most frozen heart.
I love that my colleague and I interviewed Jean Houston a few weeks ago and we asked her about the whole 2012/end of the world thing. She said, “Well, it’s evolve or die.” And that felt pretty right on. These are intense times, don’t you think? Everyone I know is burning up in some way, but there seems to be an intelligence behind it all. Perhaps it’s an opportunity to purify the pain body—both individual and collective. If you’ve ever read any of Eckhart Tolle’s work, he speaks about this “pain body,” which is essentially an accumulation of old emotional pain. Personally, a lot of my old wounds have come up over the past few months—in a more intense way than usual. It’s been challenging, but very valuable because I’ve seen how certain habits and thought-forms don’t serve me at all; they simply shrink my vital energy and plunge me into darkness. So I’ve been trying to meet those thoughts and feelings with loving awareness, and in doing so I’ve glimpsed the possibility for a real shift in consciousness.
I love that it’s December 31st and I’m sitting in my little cabin-ish house, feeling so grateful to be alive. Soon it will be 2013—just another number in time, but a poignant reminder that this precious life is so very... precious. Lately I’ve been reflecting on the past year and, man, it’s been a wild ride. This year I birthed many new dimensions of myself and also made a ton of humiliating mistakes. (Fortunately, there are no mistakes—only learning opportunities—so that takes some of the pressure off.) I ascended to the heights of creative ecstasy and descended to the depths of loneliness and shame. I lost myself in a beautiful melody and found myself in the silence of an old spruce tree. I yearned and burned for something nameless, cried like a child, loved like a woman, and made some really good soup.
The poet David Whyte said, “What shape waits in the seed of you to grow and spread its branches against a future sky?” That is such a beautiful question. I know there is so much in the seed of me that wishes to expand in the coming year—more realness, more light, more awe. And I know there is so much in the seed of you that wishes to grow in the coming year, too. We’re all here together on this pulsing planet—dancing in our divinity and our darkness, doing our best to dwell in the heart. It’s tough sometimes, but beauty abounds in our brokenness, not just our wholeness. And our brokenness, it turns out, is whole and perfect unto itself.
On the eve of 2013, I only have one prayer: May I know, see, hear, taste, touch, feel, give, and receive more love than ever before. I think that covers all of the bases, and I wish the same for you. Thank you so much for reading this post, sweet blog reader. Do you know how grateful I am for your presence? Too grateful for words. May you be blessed in every imaginable (and unimaginable) way.