je suis l’amour

 

I love spices. I love that the earth is rich with colors and plant medicines, tender flowers, and healing waters. I love public radio, mason jars, and little white lights strung over doorways and railings. I love crafty people who make crocheted potholders and lampshades out of coffee filters. I love holding hands with someone I adore and pressing colored leaves in books, only to find them years later by surprise. I love the worn-in roper boots I bought at Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply in Longmont, Colorado; they’re about as close to a cowgirl as I’ll ever get.

I love that I visited Botswana a few years ago and we took a remote control plane into the bush and landed on a small strip of dirt where a giraffe was eating leaves. I love that one evening we went on a safari and I lay down in the back of the jeep and looked up at the stars. The sky was so huge that I lost myself in the boundless, beating heart of the universe.

I love that there are still a few places in the world where wild animals roam free beneath the moon. I love Kalahari Desert sands, jasmine flowers, sagebrush, and constellations. I love the curve of a zebra’s back and the way painted reed frogs sound like a symphony of marimbas in the night.

I love bookstores that are stacked with pages full of wisdom, beauty, and bullshit. I love drinking tea—it’s like imbibing the essence of plants. I love clawfoot bathtubs, red winterberries covered in snow, and earrings that don’t get lost in my wild hair. I love that countless souls are born and die every second. Now. Now. Now. I love that the Buddha said, “This life disappears only very quickly, like something written in water with a stick.” It’s easy to forget that amidst the busyness of life, but we have much to be thankful for in this brief human birth.

I love people who have a sense of humor. I love that I crack myself up regularly. I love profanities; when used at the right moment they really add a lot. I love that my parents met in the Whitney Museum and they still thoroughly enjoy each other’s company 40 years later. I love that we never know whom we might meet at any given moment... it makes life exciting.

I love that I’ve been a country bumpkin for the last three years. When I moved to the Berkshires from Boulder I had never played the harmonium, written a song, produced an album, led a kirtan, published an article, worked as an editor, taught a workshop, created a website, or successfully used a power drill. How did all of that happen in approximately 1,095 days? It’s amazing and, at the same time, it’s pretty insignificant. To me, success has nothing to do with stuff like that—it’s an abiding state of contentment and self-acceptance.

I love how deep and varied my country quest has been. I’ve had very few distractions, so it’s been a bit like a modern Himalayan cave experience. I must say I’m proud of myself for sticking it out. Early on I was lonely a lot. I had just broken up with my boyfriend and I was healing from a prolonged, mysterious illness. The first winter I was here I wept for hours every day. I had no direction and no idea what I was doing in a rural town with no community or vocation; it was really tough. But as Rumi said, “The moon stays bright because it doesn’t avoid the night.” As I surrendered to the darkness of the unknown, music poured out of me for the first time and I realized that a greater purpose hides behind every apparent “mistake”.

I love that the day after Hurricane Sandy hit I went to my meditation space to send some prayers and I ended up weeping for several hours without stopping. It was almost as if I tapped into an electric socket of planetary pain and I couldn’t break free. This deep, transpersonal grief just slashed me open.

I love how in the midst of tragedies like Hurricane Sandy, people come together to help each other out. I love how my sister solicited donations from the residents of her Brooklyn building and, within a few hours, shopping bags piled up outside her door. I love how the beer company Anheuser-Busch stopped producing beer for a few days and bottled one million cans of clean drinking water instead. What if that sort of thing happened on a regular basis? Surely there would be more peace on this spinning orb of earth and water.

I love that there are unknown heroes all across the globe—people who serve with no expectation of reward. I love that so many of these amazing beings will never be recognized, yet their good deeds spin threads of light around the planet and benefit the entire creation. I love people who value integrity and do their best to be kind and true even when no one’s looking. I love that His Holiness the Dalai Lama emphasizes secular ethics and the cultivation of virtues like compassion, tolerance, and forgiveness; that’s a holy ground where we can all meet, regardless of caste, creed, or color.

I love New York City, deeply; I lived there until I was 13. It’s a tough city, and a resilient one. At times it seems so impenetrable, but natural disasters reveal how incredibly vulnerable it is—just like us. Isn’t it interesting how things often appear so hard and unshakable, even when they’re not? A lot of times I feel guarded, like I have all of these shells of protection, but just beneath the surface there is so much softness. As my friend said the other day, “You seem strong and fragile at the same time.” Yeah. While “fragile” probably isn't the word  I would choose, I definitely feel tender and raw beneath my self-assured exterior. Isn’t that the case for many of us, though? Don’t we all embody endless polarities?

I love that it’s impossible to lick your elbow. Well, that’s what I read somewhere and it seems to be true, unless you stretch your arm out; I’ve had success with that approach. I love that every three days we get a new stomach lining. Do you know that without a mucous lining your stomach would digest itself? It's like something out of a sci-fi movie.

I love that the indentation between the nose and upper lip is called the philtrum. No one seems to know quite why it’s there, but the Ancient Greeks considered it to be one of the most erogenous places on the body. So if you really want to turn up the heat, gently grab your lover’s face, look into her eyes, and tell her: “Darling, you’re so beautiful. All I want to do is kiss your philtrum.” Then proceed with your full attention and see what happens.

I love putting unusual words together like wet musk and bright plum. Do things have to make sense? Probably not, which is a good thing because if you think about anything long enough it just snaps the mind in half. I love that I wrote this on a napkin while sitting in a Japanese restaurant the other day: moss, petal, bone: woman of mud and clouds— secret imaginings in the starlit dream-bowl of her mind.

I love that we can see colors because we have a shitload of rods and cones in our retinas. I love that without photoreceptors we wouldn’t be able to process light or see in the dark. I love how I have flecks of gold around my pupils; they remind me of sea flowers, sunrays, and felines. I love how irises are like sacred mandalas that reflect the light of the soul. I love how vulnerable I feel when someone looks into my eyes. Sometimes I get scared and glance away; other times I breathe through my fear and let my heart be seen.

I love that yesterday I felt like I needed to understand myself in a new way, so I opened up a big blank book that I’ve had for years, took out my crayons, and drew for a few hours like a little kid. I love what a terrible visual artist I am—even my stick figures suck, but I don’t mind. I love that I keep surrendering to my creative energy in new ways. Of course it ebbs and flows, but I feel so much more open and trusting than ever before. Who knows why, but I shut my creativity down for so many years—perhaps because I feared failure or judgment. But the truth is, there’s always a risk of looking like a fool when we offer our authentic heart and voice to the world. In my experience, suffocating the soul is far more excruciating.

I love that Brussels sprouts look like little brains. I love that over-ripe potatoes resemble the skin of elephants. I love that I can’t stop making this apple dish with berries, oats, maple syrup, and pecans. I mix it all up, put it in the oven, and it comes out delicious! I love that I know how blessed I am to have food at all because there are so many in this world who don’t even have clean water.

I love that recently I went into the recording studio to sing on a friend’s project and, once I dropped my fears about not being able to deliver anything good, this huge power moved through my body and came out as music. Before we started recording, the engineer said, “Sing like a lover who is calling out to her beloved.” And I thought, “If I really try to sing with that in mind, it’s going to sound contrived and silly.” But then in an unexpected moment this deep yearning rose up from my depths and I sang it into existence.

I love how I have these stories about myself that only cause me misery, but sometimes they’re so familiar and comfy that it’s hard to let them go. Lately I’ve been observing an old script that says real transformation can only occur through suffering and pain. The truth is, amazing things are often born out of pain, but that’s not the only way to grow. Little by little I am shifting this worn out paradigm and opening to love in its sweeter, more sublime expression; it’s nice.

I love my body. It does so many things that I never think about like digest food, pump blood, breathe, fight pathogens, and heal wounds. Amazing, eh? We really are walking miracle factories, but we rarely realize it. Sometimes it’s easy to take the body for granted until life reminds us how fragile and, well, mortal we are. Just a few days ago I was helping a friend carry a heavy desk from her barn to her house and, as I tried to get a better grip, the thing fell on my foot. Oh, it hurt! I hobbled over to the house, lay down on the couch with an ice pack, and cried—not so much because of the pain, but because I realized how far I had wandered from myself; it took a heavy desk to wake me up. I guess that’s how it goes sometimes—life taps us on the shoulder and tries to get our attention, but if we don’t heed the call enough times, we get a push instead.

I love how I can tell that something big is about to shift in my life because I keep cleaning my house, my car, and my closet—letting go of stuff and creating space. It must mean that new energy is about to arrive.

I love that a friend came over the other day, sat down on the rug, and said, “This girl broke my heart.” I just looked at him because what is there to say when someone’s heart hurts like that? “I guess the pain of rejection is cracking me open in a big way,” he sighed. And I smiled and shed a few tears because I understood what he meant. C.S. Lewis said, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.” Most of us know the truth of those words. We may put our heart on the line and get rejected; there’s no guarantee. But in my view it’s always worth the risk because even the most searing rejection can awaken us to the love inside ourselves. As Erica Jong said, "If you don't risk anything, you risk even more."

I love that I randomly came across this line from Henry Rollins while looking for a poem online the other day: “My heart slams against my ribs when I think of the slaughtered nights I spent all over the world waiting to feel your touch.” Whoa. Slaughtered nights? I know the feeling, and what exquisite use of language. Just reading that sentence nearly slaughtered my heart in the best possible way. Good one, Henry.

I love that I can go into Google Translate, type anything I want, and—voila!—the phrase comes back in another language. I love that “I am love” is “je suis l’amour” in French; it sounds so beautiful I just want to repeat it: Je suis l’amour. Je suis l’amour. Je suis l’amour.

You know what else I want to repeat? Je t’aime, Je t’aime, Je t’aime. Yes, sweet blog reader, Je t’aime—I love you.