Wednesday, 11 February 2009


These are my postcards. My snapshots. Like the faces that flow across my eyelids’ movie screen when I’m supposed to be meditating. These are the word versions of the people I’ve met, seen, stayed with, the people who’ve opened themselves to me, and the ones who have used. All of them are here. The places I’ve stayed, the neighborhoods, the streets I’ve walked alone, or with friends and laughter, pockets empty or pockets full, content in the moment or wishing for a bicycle or an oyster top up or food or a shiny penny on the ground waiting for me, pointing the way.

The moon is growing to full outside the bus window as it rolls back to Edinburgh, then on to NY from there so that the journey is a circle.

If I were Bob Dylan, I could write one very complicated f**king song from these last six months. One song so dense with personal metaphor that no one would have any idea who anybody was and what I was talking about. But if I were Bob Dylan, they would know anyway, despite all the not knowing. It would be a song about betrayal and trusts built and squandered; trusts built and tended. It would be a song about exuberance tempered with pragmatism, about the universal heart that beats in all living things, about wanting arms that can hug all the way from Kabul to London to Los Angeles. About the way technology lets me send missives instead of hugs, how it connects and how it disconnects. How it makes me more individual and turns me into a data bundle. About the night sky and Mars who rules me whether I want to be a warrior or not. About chasing the one that makes you crazy until you find that the one that keeps you warm and sane was right there all the time. About trading ignorance for understanding; about trading the illusion of wealth for the wealth of human companionships.

But I am not Bob Dylan. I’m a late bloomer, spirit has not entered me the way it did him. It has entered me hard and rough and over time. It has worn my defenses thin and repeatedly asked me to give up everything for one true thing. Spirit doesn’t really take no for an answer. It doesn’t take maybe, either, or “I’m busy-- how about later?” When spirit leads, you follow, or risk losing the path.

I will risk everything not to lose that path. I have. So what is the one true thing?

Off the bus, the morning sun raises the dew in a city so beautiful you don't mind the cold, the damp, the always uphill walks. I call it beautiful, awe-inspiring. "Majesterial" is offered up as a new description. Whatever it is gets the blood going and the lungs pumping and makes Sunday morning invigorating.

I think the one true thing might be simple. It’s all ok. Or even another step: it’s all good. Because the one true thing is that we are interconnected in a world where horror and joy live side-by-side every minute and where we can be forced out by one or swept up by another. We live in a world where people can be the most precious commodity or they can be just a number to a corrupt system. In every minute of this world we live in, the living breathe. Each breath is a life affirmation and an acknowledgement of a continuum.

It’s true – I don’t feel as bad for the millionaires who lost money with Madoff as I do for the people I have seen struggling to maintain dignity while they do not have enough money to eat every day or to even get to their jobs if they have them. It’s also true that the facts I just related will give you no idea whatsoever about the happiness of any of those people. I couldn’t live with myself if I were Madoff. But there are things I’ve done which I apparently can live with that are not so honourable as I would like to be. We don’t always all behave as our best selves 100% of the time. Is it a question of degrees, of learning, of just trying?

I don’t know. I know survival has cost me more lately than it used to. I know self-belief has cost me, as well. I know it has cost the people who support me. I also know those costs are attached to the idea of higher purpose -- of all of our needs and wants to transcend the daily and get on with human evolution in all its forms. Somebody’s got to go out on the limb. Somebody has to tend the fire, somebody has to figure out how to build a support for the limb or prop up the tree from the weight of it. That’s community. And community has become global. We are able to form communities of like-minded and –hearted people with only small regard for where we fall on the GPS. This is one of the things that make me feel blessed to live when I do. To have even the small reach that I do to encounter humanity on a scale larger than my own little village.

Having landed back in that village, briefly, I can say – I would have died if I stayed. I’ve had my knish from Kensington and walked through town, but there is nothing here I need to encounter. In three blocks of walking I heard more horns honk than in all the months I was in London, and almost got run over by more drivers – none of them with the right of way – than in all my time as a pedestrian there. In one shop I saw more impatient and irate customers than I can recall in the last 6 months anywhere else. I remember this place as home to many aggressive spirits and apparently, it has not changed. I expected neutral at least, but have not found it. It was not wanting to be like them that drove me out of here, that occupied my thoughts daily from the time I was 12 years old, counting the days to 18 and high school graduation.

It is probably those same thoughts that have propelled me further and further from what is tested. But I would have never found what was true, not even one true thing, had I not strayed from that path. So it costs what it will, what it has, as it shapes me into who I am.

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