Mercury Retrograde and Ripple Exposure

Okay, so I didn’t take the job I described in my last post. It paid much too little and I have decided to be unapologetic about what I know I am worth. Yet — being lost enough to consider it and not take it was very, very important because now I am instead spending my energy on writing, editing and publishing books, and that’s like, kind of sort of what I want to do with my life. That whole boomerang action is another story, but I feel like tripping down into the rabbit hole definitely whizzed me into territory I am glad to be in.

So, here I am, at another rabbit hole. Mercury is in retrograde, once again, and for all the mystics, shamans and seers out there, you know how fucking crazy, confused, unreliable and flaky this makes everyone. Including me. (Don’t like mystic talk and thinks it’s stupid? Then you should probably stop reading, and also, it’s both more fun and logical to experience space and time “beyond the mundane.” And also, now I am aware why sudden lethargy spells sometimes overtake me and rewire my skeleton, so I don’t blame myself so much for these weird times. Knowing how energy affects us is good for everybody!! #endplug)

I’m beginning to think this blog is just a mishmash of my lost thoughts. That’s okay with me. I have so many other things striving to be structured in my life, isn’t that what a personal blog is for? I will warn you, I will not always make sense here. I am a blogger from the original days of Xanga. Yes. Those blogs where you smooshily share your teenage angst with every virtual passerby.

I guess it’s no surprise, then, that here I am, continuing to virtually smear my now-20-something angst all over your Internet face. And you know what. I don’t really care. I know I can structure the hell out of a piece of writing if I want to. And here, I am allowed to not want to. So there.

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I am allowed stream of consciousness. Because everyone is. And there are a lot of weird, tired people out there who would really benefit from thought-dumping today rather than just wandering around like a broken zombie.

Note: I am about to share a journal entry from today, the first day of July, and the first day of the second half of the year. I don’t judge it, so neither should you. Unless you want to, then be my guest. What I encourage doing, dear reader, is taking a similarly hazardous and funkified trip down the tunnels of your mind. All you need is a flowy pen, a few pieces of paper and whatever muck you want to air. It’s the right time and IT WILL FEEL AMAZING. I am posting mine partly because in order to keep writing, I need an audience, and partly just because (note: not because it is a polished, finished piece of writing). Also, who are we writing for if not the one possible reader who might go, hm. I’m okay with #broadcastnation. But, first:

Ripple exposure. I found out about ripple exposure when I was about 12 years old. And I have been experiencing it ever since. Oh, what, you don’t know what it is? That’s probably because I made up the term. But I would be happy to explain.

Ripple exposure is what happens when the fabric of this reality — carpet, desk, table, avocados, breathing, friends, school, work, cats, cat costumes — all peel back to reveal the rippling, pond-like nature of existence. I’m still not sure whether the lake is a pool of time or space or both or whatever is beyond, but it is some mishmash of all of that. The Hindus know this very well. Yoga gets it. Every religion has some version of ripple exposure. You’ve been there.

The universe first revealed itself to me as an infinite lake in which all our actions ripple outward and back as a pre-teen one day when I was reading Animorphs: you know, that amazing series about 5 kids who turn into telepathic animals to fight parasitic, mind-controlling aliens. Therefore, if I had to declare a religion it would surely be Animorphism. Because I believe this pool is where my creativity lives. A few dragons, too, and the greatest bliss possible, and wisdom and maybe even the Loch Ness monster. I’m usually not too afraid of my dark side to go there, but it’s not every day I go scuba diving.

So, logically, today, as the planet Mercury seems to be going backwards, as it does 3-4 times a year, I fell deep back into the pool of ripples and was exposed. I am exposing myself. Because why not? My ego needs a little deflating in order to grow something else. And it feels good.

This is what happened:

It’s like all desire has been stripped from me and I’m watching myself groan, a lumpy frumpy mass of flesh on the floor.

I don’t even have the energy to be obsessed with anything right now, not even whatever this feeling is. I can feel my third eye hovering outside my body but I can’t muster enough interest to care. So there it sits. Still. Just watching me.

There’s a little buzz inside my rib cage, like bees buzzing for a new world, but what is this dullness that shuts them out? It’s been a while since all time left me here in a puddle with only two gooey eyes for looking. My cat is more human than me today.

These are the times when some distant part of me thanks everything for words. What are these little crystals tethering me to this big ball? I somehow remember a time before these words, and now I keep the rope near. The blinds are shut but all movement has vacated to another planet. Is this when I know how foreign I am? Trying to remember all evidence that I am human. Succeeding in forgetting. Tying this rope to my lips just to make some sort of noise because if I stop, if the words stop, some other tribe claims me, and out there I will lose myself. All little dreams become morsels for lunch and everything solid evaporates. My eyeballs expand to cover the blanket of sea and today I am not ready to die, for lack of a better word for this non-place.

So I do care about something after all, I care about these little words, these little saviors from the great beyond that whisper to make me forget how comforting being a non-body feels. I have to funnel these little marbles down the chute I have, otherwise I am pulled effortlessly to eternity where there are no shapes and no lines. Neurons fire in the translator, great neon green and pink squigglies coursing through and beyond skin, transforming non-thought to pen lines in a brilliant display of pure color. To see the world in such a spectrum feels like evolution, and ancient.

I don’t blame you if you don’t believe I can feel the stars move, not everyone is crippled by it, or if you can’t see the clouds ballooning and zigzagging around every life form – there are more colors than the human eye is designed to see. But like there’s a vacuum in my tunnel vision today, I am definitely living fully upside down in crazy town. I don’t even remember rolling off the bed, literally, and this makes me laugh because somehow I scooted my earthly mass toward the floor, and how long have I been lying here.

Started cackling over forgetting my favorite color. What does it even mean to have a favorite color?? I always said a different one when elementary teachers asked, as if that defines your character. How could I cheat on any of them, macaroni orange or lemon yellow or royal purple? I feel like the moon is trying to steal me. No, not yet! My ego hasn’t died enough, it’s still flatulating. I am superglued to the floor. I try to lift my head and just end up in a yoga pose, I forget what but my head is upside down and my butt’s in the air. It’s too early to stand, so I just kind of hover here awkwardly. If I were to live like this as a default, I might be able to run off to a circus and just spout crazy things for money. Or any downtown street. I walked past a woman with the crazy eyes today and I think a little rubbed off. My every morning is already like I’m eating peyote cereal. How many times is it normal to hallucinate a day? My grandmother was a witch, I should probably just ask her. I should also probably never do drugs.

I can’t seem to think and everything is crusty. I do have a filter, though. If I didn’t, I would regret it and people would stare. Not everyone appreciates the sense in nonsense. But this is where the poems come from, this scary immobilizing place where there is nothing left but words scrambled into some negation of order.

And I know my meditation teacher says pain is an outdated way to relate to the madness but I declare today, with help from Rob Brezny, Dare To Be Boring Day, in which all cliches are encouraged and you know what, here’s mine: the pain feeling does make me feel more human. Brings me back. I know. I know. Because this is where the breakdown occurred. This feeling of turmoil and hilarious lunacy is where I met some other soul and I let it out, I let it out big time and I was writing. Secret: this is where all the writing is kept, in this chaotic messy place where no two socks match but they all go together. Where words are the only life jacket. Where metaphors are born because the real things are too… ephemeral. Much more stable to talk about puzzles. Today, my higher self is not as much a unicorn as potatoes. There’s my straight jacket fashion statement for you.

With this person, I had no filter. I lived that way for a while. He said I got tiring. My filterless crazy maybe lost me a would-be love. After that, I shut up. And finally, now, opening again. Maybe it also gained me myself, I know, I know, I’m trying to see the positive side now because if all this is in me and I am made of poetry, or in other words all the muck of lunatics molded into words, it must be too much to have unleashed all upon one person. Poor person. I see now how I Niagara Fallsed him when I thought I was just a tourist, not taking responsibility for leaving my trace or taking the time to organize bullets into compartments.

Because look at all these roaring dust bunnies, who would want to live in that on a regular basis? The only way to manage all the dragons inside — blue, purpose and especially red — is to do it like the stock market. Diversify my options. Spread out. Divide and conquer. For such an unassuming person there is a lot of wonky funk in me. Holy crap. There. It’s settled. The only way to ever really have love is to love publicly and outwardly, just like a fountain, and unleash a billion little craps on the world because somewhere in there is a shit-covered smuggled diamond ring. And that’s a lot of crap, just too much to expect one person to handle, I can barely wade through it myself without sporting the crazy pants. But I’ll do it because I’m fatally attracted to the gleam in the garbage. Say, when is that defining moment in every writer’s life when they realize it is their destiny to go digging in the closet and see what monsters they can snare, when they realize they are a wrangler and even when the lasso arm gets tired, they are still seeking? And to hide would be a crime.

Standing up again feels like I am a little baby deer on acid.

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“Get Lost” Already — With Intention & Wonder

Okay, for all my left-brain reasoning and list-making and bullet points and binder festishes, I will admit something of the mystic in me: I check my horoscope, pretty regularly, and I even sometimes think it makes a huge holy heap of sense. Not always, and please don’t think I’m referring to bullpiles like Cosmo Horoscopes or any horsejunk like that.

No, I have two, and so far only two, sources that I check – Rob Brezny’s Free Will Astrology (which is delightful, playful and sometimes literarily wonderful) and Jonathon Cainer’s Zodiac Forecast (which is humorous, parable-driven and written with the perfect amount of sardonic positivity).

I mention them only because my Free Will horoscope has been bouncing all up in my head all week long, and I think I’ve finally answered the question for myself, “How can you possibly be intentionally lost?” Especially in light of the tragedies that have been throwing a lot of people off lately, with the Boston bombing rattling everyone’s bones just this week, I think it’s important to remember how to get lost, but not lose sight.

I’m a Virgo (ahem, the aforementioned i-dotting and t-crossing) and this week the stars had this to say to me, which I think is worth sharing as solid (if somewhat perplexing) advice for all:

“Never to get lost is not to live,” writes Rebecca Solnit in her book A Field Guide to Getting Lost. In fact, she says that not knowing how to get lost is unhealthy. These are useful ideas to consider right now, Virgo. It will probably do you good to get at least semi-lost. As you wander around without a map or compass, I bet you will stumble upon important teachings. At the same time, I hope you will put some thought into how you’re going to get lost. Don’t just leave it to chance. Make sure there’s a method in your madness.

Madness? Plenty of it. Method? Working on it. The part that really seemed to throw me through a little bit of a paradox hurdle was this: “Put some thought into how you’re going to get lost.” I put a lot of thought into a lot of things: how to manage my work-hectic schedule, how best to get my students to respond with understanding, how to write integrity-driven emails, how to best structure an article, how to give helpful and critical writing feedback, how to keep calm in unpleasant situations, how to set goals, how to reconfigure my head around making money (I’m an idealist trying to break the bad habit of voluntary poverty), how to BLAH and BLAH and BLAH. Sometimes my brain just needs to go nap-nap.

But to put thought into getting lost? Doesn’t getting lost just sort of happen — usually when you aren’t putting thought into anything?

I have this great air freshener (that is now old and not fresh anymore) that I have kept for its wisdom. It says, “Not all who wander are lost.” I have always liked to think of myself as a wanderer, a seeker, a dirt-on-her-cheeks starry-eyed adventurer poking her walking stick into the depths of new caves, but always on some path. Even if the road ahead isn’t visible, the path is there. To where exactly? I have an idea. But to be lost — to be lost is to be cold, isolated, shivery, when the rain is discompassionately beating down on a soaked-through head with no relief and only blurry eyes closing in on themselves. No, we don’t want to be lost.

However, in turning over this idea of being “intentionally lost,” I’ve found a deep sense of peace, comfort and most importantly forgiveness of my current doubt and uncertainty. There are a lot of things this one little body is trying to do right now — from planning a nonprofit business to finding a new roommate to converting an office into something better to teaching to writing, writing, writing to trying to stay afloat financially — that being lost does not seem like something I would want, the opposite, in fact. Here I am, trying to make some sense out of it all. Yet, once again, I return to the wisdom of magic and letting go, and I see that trying to force all the pieces methodically into place just isn’t the best way to slice the cake.

You can’t predict what wondrous openings are up ahead; you just have to keep eagerly anticipating new awakenings at every turn, even from the bottom of the pit. 

If I am out on this sunbeaten, open path toward some great future (as we all are, if we choose to see it that way), and I am focusing all my might on getting from point A to point B with adequate amounts of 1) food 2) water 3) shelter 4) friends 5) inspiration and so on, checking my list every day to make sure all the little necessities are showing up for their head count, I might not see the next crevice I need to fall into.

And if you’re going to fall into crevices, as we all do, wouldn’t it be nice to have as much free will catapulting us into them as possible?

Finally, aha! Today, after a week of chanting the mantra “let yourself get intentionally lost” in my head around every turn, I think I have spotted my next crevice. And I’m ready to fall.

The situation: I’ve been hanging onto a dead-end tutoring job with a company that underpays me and is also pretty rude and draining. I’ve been looking for something to replace it, but I’ve experienced that inertia that the disgruntled often feel: dissatisfaction with my current situation but fear of losing its familiarity.

Encouraging myself to “get more lost,” I started the application process again, and today interviewed for a position as a teacher’s aide for a nonprofit that offers an alternative education model for at-risk youth in underserved areas. It pays next to nothing, and the interviewer has repeatedly warned me of the frustration, discouragement and harassment that will likely accompany my acceptance of the role. He’s also basically offered me the position if I want it.

Needless to say, I’m so excited I can barely eat my trail mix.

I will essentially be thrown into a school comprised 100% of the troublemakers, knuckleheads and the most despairing, apathetic, rude little shits you can probably ever imagine, the ones who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and who will bloody your nose given the chance, be provided little to no instruction and guidance on how to handle these situations, and be expected to simultaneously discipline them into good behavior while inspiring them to see that they are actually worth something and have the power to change their lives. Yeah, I think you can call this “being intentionally lost.”

I know it will be difficult. Emotionally draining. Impossible at times. Painful. Disheartening.

I can’t wait.

I’m sure that “feeling lost” is so close of an acquaintance for these kids that they don’t even know what it would be like not to have that sort of apathy sitting on their shoulders. P.S. My imagination is already running wild, creating personalities and scenarios before I’ve even accepted the position… but the point is:

Being lost is not the problem — being lost without intention is.

If I can be lost (adrift, unsure, aimless) while identifying and remembering what I truly want to accomplish (my intentions) and basking in the weird glory of things falling into place (the wonder), then I have a solid umbrella over my head, so that even in those thunderstorms, I will be able to find my way. And if I can, so can anyone with this mentality, because all it takes is a mental shift and an environment to support it.

I may be lost, but I know these things:

  • I intend to use the gift of my life to connect to others so they, too, can see what a gift their life is.
  • I intend to express myself with exuberance and joy, so that others, too, may feel the joy of themselves.
  • I intend to always challenge myself to learn, grow and explore, to never become stagnant (that is the easiest way to spread misery).
  • I intend to speak up rather than let die.
  • I intend to help empower the disempowered so they, too, can feel the strength inside them.
  • I intend to meet all obstacles with humility, grace and compassion.
  • I intend to use my energy to contribute to the solutions, not the problems.

Yes, the recruiter did peg me accurately as an idealist.

But to you, my audience, and later, my students, I want to pose that question. Even during times of doubt, fear, uncertainty, loss and despair, what do you know to be your deepest intentions?

Can you allow yourself to get lost with intention and wonder?

If there’s one thing I might take too much pride in, it’s my analytical, overworking logic-brain. I take pleasure in problem-solving, and I’ve trained myself to be pretty reasonable in a world of chaotic over-churning. Yes, I consider myself something of a mystic (or anyone who really talks to me will categorize me as such, I’m sure) but I’m a reasonable mystic, dammit.

And it can still take a lot of effort to get lost intentionally. 

Intentionally!

It’s not easy. Not as easy as calling yourself lost and whimpering into a dead world, believing that nothing matters. Or looking for a simplistic answer to explain atrocities like the one we witnessed this week so we don’t have to question ourselves. That’s the easiest thing ever. And another quote-punch to the face: “It takes a lot of work to be happy, none at all to be miserable.” During times of collective confusion like these, rather than get up in arms about who’s doing what wrong, the most productive response would be to look inward, reflect and set some personal intentions going forward.

Bringing it back to the moments you experience here and now, and how they interact with others. Then, the wonder is the part that comes in to remind how bleak it doesn’t have to be. Wonder is what keeps us from giving up entirely, from missing the point of all of life’s little delicacies when the resounding “I’m lost” is drowning everything else out.

I know what it feels like to enter the realm of personhood on this plane of existence, when you learn how to connect your mind, body and spirit, and I’ve seen the moment when it has happened for others. I also know that many physical obstacles exist for many people living in dire situations, and that it can take a lot of time, compassion and persistence to integrate the reality of your own existence, when you’ve been taught your whole life that what you’ve got is just your lot. Working with at-risk youth whose lives have been much harder than mine since the day we were born will be new, but I also know how much small and consistent doses of love, support and humanity can mean to someone teetering on the brink.

Especially in the wake of some terrible events lately, from the Newtown shootings to this week’s Boston bombing, I think it’s more important than ever to get lost, but with strength, resolve and dedication to bolstering, not bullying, your values. It’s okay to allow yourself to be lost — that’s how your mind opens to new truths — but retain your intention. That doesn’t mean don’t get angry or confused, because that would be impossible for 99% of us. But the intention to get as close as you can to the ideal on a daily basis is what matters.

As a side note that seems worth mentioning, one of my students in a class I was subbing one week exactly before the Boston bombings decided to “joke” about how he loves building guns and wants to make nuclear weapons. Where does that come from and how can we reach it? Is there not a huge shift taking place in the collective psyche? If you can feel it, you know it’s there.

Even if I am kind of/sort of lost as to why or how or what it all means, or what exactly it is that is driving me in this direction, my intention is clear: I intend to tough-love some spark of intention and wonder into these kids’ tornado of lost. I, like many other young people hungry for the experience of the world, want to make a difference.

Fully knowing that this path may lead me to feeling so lost, hopeless, discouraged and insignificant at times, my intention is to learn and help as I go. With a healthy sense of wonder for it all.

I don’t need to know 100% why.

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And this is my alter ego right now: the getting loster and loster lobster

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