Perilously fragile vessels

I was thinking about the amazing process of being born. Not from my perspective so much, as the woman who made it all possible - my mother. Technically, shouldn't every day be mother's?

Every monkey has a mother, of one shape or another. And making the choice to become a mother means letting go. Letting go of that identity before her child came. Of whoever she is before a tiny bit of life shines back at her and grunts the hungry sound. Or wails the wet or cold.

Interrupted by my shortened attention span. Shiny! Let's go outside, chat with the neighbors, watch HGTV, even practice my short game.

Wanting to do anything that is easier than writing about my mother.

Aren't there enough written words? Haven't all the great ones been taken? Looking for satisfaction in smaller and smaller things, I feel myself shrinking.

This is a good thing from my perspective. I'm as suspicious of self importance as I am of self deprecation. Whatever process puts the self in the center immediately brings to mind the ego.

Who do I think I am?

Love that question and could write about that for hours.

And that gets me neatly around what I do not want to write about.

My mother.

The cliche is true. Every woman in mid life endures looking in the mirror and sees her mother staring back at her. If the first half of my life was about reacting to my father's faults and challenges, does the second half need to be about my mother's?

Really, any activity - shopping, voluntary surgery, organizing the spice drawer, talking about your grandchildren, planning cruises, contemplating the universe, imagining health crises, avoiding holiday celebrations -  anything but writing about my mother.

I thought we were finished. All is forgiven.

She did the best she could with the hand she was dealt and had some wonderful characteristics that made her remarkable, gentle, amazing, lovable and endearing. So why isn't that the part that I remember?

Why do I only look back at this stranger's life and poke holes in her psyche? Could I ever really appreciate having English as a second language? Or living in a community where the Catholic church set the tone and tempo of my every waking moment?

Helen, her given name, told me frequently that she grew up in the moral equivalent of the Middle Ages.  Pisek was a reconstituted medieval Czechoslovakian village at the edge of North Dakota, not far from the Canadian border . She was born in 1917 to immigrant parents, the third child of eight.

Good news is they bathed in birth order, so the water wasn't completely gross and cold by the time she got there.

Her older brother began school not speaking a word of English. Fortunately, the one room school was run by a teacher who was bilingual in Czech.

The town revolved around the annual calendar of the church's feasts, saints, music and decisions were driven by the Catholic take on the Bible. Talk about fiction.

Whoa. My mom grew up in a cult.

And most of what appears below will only dance around these issues.

My grandmother Mary nearly died in the flu of 1918, which meant that my uncle and aunt and mom and her younger sister Margaret were cared for by the live-in "girl" who helped out with the household chores and cooking.

My mom had a nanny, but in her experience that was a bad thing, since she imagined that having her mother's attention would have been a much better deal. Having met my grandmother, I'm not so sure about that.

Ultimately grandmother survived the flu and went on to have four more sons. This was a big deal for my mom as her brothers were the "chosen" ones, as she was fond of reminding us. Men had special status in her cult, where Christ got top billing and Mary was more like an opening act for the big show.

I suppose I didn't encounter Grandma Mary under the best of circumstances, since it was later in her life and she didn't appear to be a very jolly person to begin with. We shared my room when she came to "help out" when mom was hospitalized.

Suffice to say I wasn't feeling particularly generous, had a new transistor radio and a defiant attitude towards the chaos around me. Of course how many eight year olds are interested in other people's problems?

This is the part of the story where I turn away.

My mother had issues. This isn't a surprise to me as an adult. It turns out that everyone does. I'm probably still attached to the story of who she was. And no matter how kind the words, the black and whiteness doesn't really serve itself up willingly to the page.

How can I characterize her experiences without just making things up from my side? Can I ever really know what was happening on the inside?

 "All of human experience is subjective and memory is a perilously fragile vessel for collective truth."  Mark Frost

There are only stories of events that were filtered by the simplicity of a child's understanding. Perhaps I'm entering the realm where fiction serves to speak on behalf of truths that are too painful to claim as my own?

Through fiction could I presume to open these doors and pretend that a yet unnamed character will sort out my mother's story?

Mother is gone some fifteen years next spring and she was never a great one for explanations anyway.

She'd been raised to accept what the church offered, and would repeat the truisms of her age and upbringing. This usually meant assigning blame to my father for whatever misfortunes she'd endured.

The immigrant history, martyr mother, lost child of eastern Europe, gifted musician of hymns exalting the life promised in heaven by a god who gave men a place of honor and women a place of servitude.

I suddenly understand why my sister is a poet. None of this territory easily lends itself to linearity.

All is forgiven.

My throat closes with unshed tears. Every story is based on fiction.

The perilously fragile vessel that was my mother.



I think I've earned a PhD. in "pushing the river". Naturally hard headed and raised to be a fighter, I've never been one to back down. Upon reflection however, what might be tenacity in some cases turns out to be just plain stubbornness in mine.

With the mind of a Rottweiler and the stature of a Chihuahua, I've specialized in starting fights I couldn't win.

Descended from aggressive, conquering, planet colonizing English stock, it isn't any surprise that our family anthem was "My Way."  http://bit.ly/14Cwxf    

At least on Dad's side of the family.

His ancestors emigrated from England in the early 1600's to stake claim to a paradise lacking only in British rules and rights.

The majority of people coming to the new world at that point were dreamers and fools, mostly destitute and fleeing either the tax man or the church, or both. Pretty much sums it up. The ones who survived were fighters.

Never surrender. Fight harder. Battle on to victory. Winners never quit and quitters never win. And for God and country's sake, don't be a "loser."

Is it any wonder that being a fighter is a compliment? Looking beyond my personal family cosmos, our culture constantly wages war in the market place, on playgrounds, in classrooms, bedrooms and court rooms, across game tables and continents.

The war of the sexes, the war on poverty, the war on obesity and we haven't even left our borders? The war on illegal immigration, the war on intellectual property rights, the war on drugs and the war on human trafficking. Oil wars, land wars, water wars and star wars.

Our wars are all about keeping score, winning and losing, triumph at any cost and avoiding defeat whenever possible. Depending on the stakes, we sanctify deadly force against our opponents or at least justify some serious prayers for it on any given Sunday.

When do we value cooperation? Where do we learn to collaborate? Within our families as a "team" against one another or against other families? Or do we band together with relatives in a dance to preserve our blood lines, consequences be damned for any one who gets in our way?

Is it any wonder we are ill at ease in the world? Our shoulders hunched, backs tightened against the raining blows, jaws jutting forward with determination and our heads pounding with the stress of modern combat.

We're fighting cholesterol, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, killer flues from super bugs, air pollution, drought, inflation, deflation, stagflation - is is any wonder we've lost our sense of grace?

What if the way forward is through surrendering to what is happening?

Have you ever just sat with the actual events of your life and noticed that when you stopped fighting, things moved along anyway?

It never occurred to me that the river would flow without my pushing.

Yoga practice runs counter to life here in the West.

Surrendering to expand.

Letting go to move forward.

Releasing into experience.

Pioneers laying down.

Opening outward from the inside.

Revealing infinite frontier.



Sharing the harvest

What a small world.

Small but complicated, interwoven, connected, global and local all at the same time. Fragile, crowded, resilient, exhausted, wealthy, impoverished, blessed and stricken.

Some six billion souls careening through space on a watery rock with as many different perspectives as we have people.

Really, think about it. Could any one perspective actually be "right"?

A leading scholar in multicultural studies, Ronald Takaki, recently died and was featured in the New York Times obits. A leading scholar of multicultural studies at U.C. Berkeley, he promoted the idea that the history of America could use a serious tune-up.

From his perspective, we could start by the re-telling the story of the United States to include all of the voices, not just the ones of the conquerors. The link to his book "A Different Mirror; A History of Multicultural America",  http://bit.ly/4EGMIM

In an early passage of the book he discusses the social construction of racial discrimination and offers a wonderful quote that it is "not the nature of men, but the education of men" that made them "barbarous and uncivil."  Applied to justify the horrific behavior of settlers in "New England" towards the native population, it occurred to me that it's valid in lots of applications.

We have been taught to be hateful towards other races, countries, religions and cultures. We're steeped so deeply in our own cultural stew that it's easy to forget how our humanity is not unique. Much less we are somehow convincing ourselves we're right?

And how often do we invoke divine justice?

Conversely then, my hope is that we can be taught to love.

And learn to love our differences most of all, since this is always harder than loving what is the same.

President Obama took a step in the right direction this week by celebrating the Hindu festival of lights. He basically used the microphone to give a big shout out to the over one billion Hindus in the world. The recently elected African-American President, raised by Islamic parents (now professing Christianity) leading a 74% Caucasian country, is celebrating the biggest Hindu festival of the year.

What's not to love?

If you missed this bit of history, here's a YouTube clip of the President celebrating Diwali in the White House.  http://bit.ly/GzSon

The current statistics on the changing demographics of the United States. http://bit.ly/74GQi

Coming to a neighborhood near you, the world's top religious orders. http://bit.ly/16YUXd

Learning to enjoy the diversity and complexity of the global village and sharing the bounty of the harvest.



Rare moments.

Turning inward, the days grow shorter, the nights longer.

I could easily sleep until 11:00 if it weren't for two small cats leaping on and off the bed at irregular intervals. Escalating from about 4:00 am onward, they start with bumping my closed eye lids with their wet noses, touching my chin and lips with a tentative paw, brushing ever so slightly onto my cheek with their whiskers and waiting for some response.

As those of you with small children or dogs can attest, they aren't really waiting.

Just beginning the ritual of "get up and feed me".

Each morning that we're together, the cycle repeats. The cats begin leaping about and gently nudging the monkey until she gets up and pours kibble into the chicken stock. This is our morning dance. My goal is to drift back to sleep as many times as possible. Their goal is to complete this process so they can nap until around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon and then have lunch.

This cycle made me think about rituals. This time of year is fraught with marking the grander cycles of time. Now we do this, send this, sing that. Now we hang this, give that, drink these, eat those. Annual celebration marks some greater progression and occasionally haunts us with regrets.

Well storied, these bigger rituals carry us through time and space. On these occasions the pageantry draws us towards the larger landscapes of memory, history and destiny. Reaching back into the past we share the waning of the light with our ancestors.

Eternal echoes of fallen comrades, family and friends in "las dias de las muertas" the Mexican equivalent of Halloween.  http://bit.ly/4gwZBh

Harvest celebrations are practiced in every culture that sprang from agrarian roots. http://bit.ly/1ojUM0

Busy in December, our ancient grandmothers bustled with the return of the sun long before the Christian era went with an adaptation of the virgin birth. http://bit.ly/1TzDQ3

It is easier to find these larger themes when accompanied by costumes and symbols. The thin veil between the living and the dead is much clearer wearing a fright wig and a set of vampire teeth. Or celebrating harvest with a poultry mascot and obscene amounts of food. Or marking the return of the sun with the patience and faithfulness of evergreens.

But what about the moments of our daily lives?

Is the bigger picture available to access, or are our lives unconscious by default? Could every day bring a chance to celebrate the living and remember the dead? Bless and offer gratitude for harvest and bounty? Give a joyful shout to the heavens for the blessings of the sun?

Thinking about the space between rituals and habits. A space where gratitude might live.

Rituals are choices we make and the awareness that "this is about something important to me". Habits remain what we go about doing everyday without thinking.

If we imbued our present and daily moments with meaning and reverence, would the practice of awareness become a habit? Might we become less a slave to the mind's wandering and more the agent of our divine intentions?

What if brushing my teeth were a ritual of thanksgiving for their glistening, grinding presence in my life? Some day they'll be worn and falling apart from their years of faithful service. Will I wait until they're gone to celebrate them? Or does my loving ritual of cleaning them twice a day offer an opportunity to be conscious of their gifts?

I might be grateful for the moments when the cat's noses are pressed onto my eyelids. Someday they'll be gone. I might be reminded of all those creatures in the world who have no monkeys to care for them. And are not shedding hair sleeping on the couch in the living.

If only they'd wait a couple more hours I'm certain I'll feel more grateful.

Daily habits can become rituals whenever the presence of mind is quiet and observing.

As the light dims and the pace of living slows, I can become aware of the connection between the two worlds, grateful for the harvest and faithful in the return of the sun.

Rare moments.


Only love

Corporate work offers many tangible and intangible benefits. A desk, a business card, a chair to sit in every day. Wearing the company logo, courtesy of HR, and an annual offsite that neatly puts the future into a slide deck that changes only once a year.

The macrocosm of good and evil, laid out in scalable portions. The kids in operations dog piling onto sales. Sales gals and guys dodging everything except their quarterly numbers. The snake charmers in marketing figuring out how to have more offsite meetings and vendor lunches. And the beleaguered  CEO wondering daily if board members could be more clueless.

And of course paychecks, those useful monikers of one's value to the company and the world in general. The more you're paid, the more you're worth. A clear measure.

This paradigm fit very well with my commitment as an angry nine year old to always have the upper hand when it came to calling the shots. Tied up in the benjamins were so many notions about what it meant to be valued, dare I say loved? The middle class paradigm of the role of work as a tidy package of both identity and moral salvation.

With the basic math skills and developmental perspective of a pre-teen, I swallowed the lesson whole. My worth as a person could be measured by my brokerage account. Living as a material girl in a material world, the rules of the game were clear and I was determined to win. And win hard.

Later, when inducted into a spiritual view of life, I became aware of suffering and the causes of suffering, and my ideas about self worth took on other dimensions.

One of these is captured in the story about how to catch monkeys. This became short hand for understanding my attachments to measuring my self worth and suffering.  Here's the link.  http://bit.ly/1Ihg9t

As my hand clasped furiously around the sweetness inside the trap, I scheduled another meeting, press tour, event, offsite. Working harder, clenching my fist more and more tightly. By the late 90's, through providence, karma, luck and fate, the ground shifted beneath my feet and I was catapulted right out of the material coconut trees and into a spiritual crisis. At the exact same time my net worth rocketed upward, my grasp on the meaning of life shredded at the gateway of death The collision of these two forces sent my self spinning towards another way of being in the world.

It turns out that my younger self had been confused about many things.

Self worth being just one of them.

Now, ten years later? Unless my baby monkey mind takes the wheel, my self worth is not about my net worth. And what remains true has changed.

Only love.

These two words became a central organizing principle for my daily endeavors. Dedicating my life to being of service, compassionate, present, witnessing the reflections of suffering in the day to day living of all beings. Praying with my life for peace, experiencing gratitude, paying attention to nature, listening to dying. Embracing and recognizing the suffering of all creatures, great and small. Forgiving myself my trespasses and the trespasses of others. Letting go and surrendering to what remains true.

Only love.


Reading between the lines

If a single addiction has survived my multiple years of navel gazing, self absorption and sheer intensity, it would be books. I suspect that if I added up all my expenditures over the years, books would be at or near the top.  And it isn't even that I've read them all. For many years just owning the book was enough. By way of confession, at times I've also fallen into pushing books on others with evangelical fervor.

The pattern would unwind by falling in love with a writer or an idea and then insisting to anyone who'd listen that THE answer exists within the pages. The list of these books would be tedious to recreate and I'm no longer convinced a) that anyone still reads and b) that they are seeing what I see within the pages.

The second point was brought home to me by a beloved friend, who having entertained my insistences over the years, eventually asked me to show her where in the book it said any of the things that I promised were written there. I assured her that I'd mostly read between the lines and that in fact the author probably didn't actually say that she possessed the answer to everything, but that's what I inferred.

And long before the book was written about outliers, my friend gently offered the reflection that I might inhabit a territory at the end of the bell curve bereft of common sense and social sensibility.

I recall the excitement when my mind assured me that this was the declared province of genius. Then I remembered that the other end of the bell curve houses insanity. This led to the realization that, hey, I only know that this end is really small. Isn't it equally possible that I'm at the crazy end? Now instead of being special, I had even odds of being nuts. Suddenly, I wasn't so excited anymore.

At any rate, non-fiction has been a life long obsession and in particular anything having to do with the aforementioned topic of "why are monkeys so fill-in-the-blank". The intensity of this desire to know, to possess once and for all, THE answer, has been the driving force behind my life long accumulation of the written word.

Reflecting on the libraries I've built and eventually discarded over the years, only a few authors remain constant.  All of them, both living and dead, assured me that pointing at the moon is not the same as the moon. Zen koans

As with any quest to know "once and for all" anything regarding consciousness, the path is circular and quickly morphs into a three dimensional spiral. This is when all of you who adore fiction get excited because you've known all along that there are no answers, only stories that illuminate the domains and geography of experience.

I remain stubbornly fixated on my quest. That's how I come to recommend "Power vs. Force", by David R. Hawkins, MD, PhD.

And because I've disclosed my standard deviations and resulting instability on the slimmer end of the bell curve, accepting both the up and down sides of "norm", any conclusions regarding the value of this book are questionable.

Of course this doesn't stop me from assuring you that, really, if there is an answer, this is the closest thing I've read.

 Reading between the lines


Hold the politics.

Some days, when I'm lauding a particularly "conscious" choice, the sulfurous smell of self righteousness wafts through the air. This is quickly followed by joyous pontification on the benefits of being right, awake and aware. I wonder though, if I'm aware that I'm being self righteous, is that more righteous than if I wasn't?

Or do I submit my choices to a review board that decides whether I'm acting consciously or just appearing to act consciously in order to gain some measure of sanctimony? For those of you practicing through an organized "points" system where sins like pride are counted, have you noticed when you're proud to be humble?

Where do I draw the line?

Turns out that after a few minutes of looking straight into my own foibles, I'm easily distracted by anything shiny or on television. An episode of "Law & Order" anyone?  Or if I'm feeling particularly conscious of being unconscious, "America's Next Top Model"?

Anyway, you've been warned. Open a window.

My cat Clark is sitting between me and the keyboard, which makes those touch typing classes a real boon. He and his brother, Lewis, had expected that today's post would be on vegetarianism and its political cousin veganism.

As I start to write righteously about animal rights, it occurs to me that I have a life long, deep love and connection to the animal community - and that I EAT them!  I wonder if I'm being conscious for the judges table or if I've thought this post through?

My grandfather was a small time dairy farmer in Montana. He was a deer hunting, chicken keeping, cow milking, vegetable gardening rural pragmatist. I imagine that for him there was no decision to be made about the role of animals in his diet. He tended them, sold their by-products and then ate them when they didn't produce anymore. His relationships were clearly first hand.

And being completely honest, while the politics of food and animal rights holds a great attraction for me, I've been a life long omnivore. Cheese eating, hamburger munching, quiche relishing, ice cream sneaking, baking fiend and butter soaked cookie pusher.

This all in the face of a fascination with nutrition and its impact on health. An early revelation along these lines being summed up by the phrase "dairy kills" after reading about the metabolism of milk products and heart disease.

I add this to my thinking about my relationship to animals as food sources.

Hugging Clark, he purrs along. My thinking darkens.

If I locked Clark up in a suffocating little cage with no light, and he miraculously laid an egg, could I take it from him and eat it?  And then when he stopped making eggs, could I make soup out of him?

And if I fed him so much corn that he became marbled with fat and his immune system shut down from standing in his own waste, would I be excited about the barbeque where we eat him?

Could I skin my little friend to wear his fur on my head?  Or could I pull the flesh off of rabbits? Have you seen rabbits? They are about as easy going as futons and haven't ever taken a human skin to keep the winter chill from their paws.

For that matter, have any animals, besides the meat eating ones, ever harmed us?

So, if meat eating were to make sense, I'd only eat wolves, alligators and big cats. Turn about being fair play and all. And then there's the whole part about going out and actually killing the alligator to make a sandwich. Clearly not motivated or skilled!

And the big cats are hard to catch, much less kill, there aren't that many of them and now they're protected as well. Last time I checked, Safeway was all out of wolf steaks, so my thoughts about food continue to progress.

I am thinking that vegetarianism would be enough, but the dairy industry is one hell of a torture mill. When those big, brown eyed gals on the milking line drop off their production, we grind 'em up for Big Macs. Just good business, really.

Probably any animal products created in an "industry" - poultry industry, dairy industry, etc, won't bear too much scrutiny.

So, if I think about it, really, it's looking more and more like veganism. Feel free to pronounce it however you like.

Maybe I can just change what I eat and not get all righteous and political about it?

But is there any way to be in the company of other people and say "can I have it without butter" and not have a long, grossly detailed conversation about how I got here?

Or does the topic of food automatically turn into a political discourse with the lone vegetarian defending the "nutter" position at the fringe of the dinner party? Have you ever met a vegan you didn't want to at least quiz if not debate?

So, if anyone asks, I'll just say that animal products give me gas.    

I'll take the tofu burger please, with a side of humility.

Hold the politics.


Being still

When I first stepped off the Silicon Valley merry-go-round in 1998, I believed it would be temporary. My years in corporate marketing came to a close and exhaustion took center stage. As I tried to recover from my work identity, the way forward wasn't very clear.

In kindness and with the gentlest of intent, a beloved teacher suggested that I "be still".

"Be still." Two little words. Sounds simple enough. Foolishly and completely unprepared for the journey, after some forty odd years of mainlining adrenaline, I asked my mind to stop.

And that's when the excrement hit the air conditioning.

Like a proverbial car wreck in slow motion, my mind didn't really stop and so, okay, that didn't go so well. Not only was it not cooperating, my mind apparently had a mind of its own!

Note to self: the mind doesn't stop when asked. It still hasn't today. But we've worked out a few agreements in the past eleven years.  Eventually, under the microscope of stillness, with the patience of creation, the mind offered up a few of its secrets.

When untrained to yoke action with awareness, the mind easily slips into high drama.  I used to believe that velocity covered a lot of sins. Now I know it mostly covers pain. Perpetual motion yields perpetual suffering.

An endless source of what isn't working, the undisciplined mind has little use for the present.  Whether entertained by reliving past glories or failures, celebrating future triumphs or dodging imaginary disasters yet to come, the mind is very rarely here and now.

How is it that the mind is so consistently distracted? So persistently focused on what is not here and now?

The wonder that is mind is simply an unruly, persistently active, curious two year old and resists being trained to the present moment. When guided to focus on the moment to moment presence of just now, the mind has little patience and quickly loses interest.

Untrained, unfocused, mind wanders and races into the past or bounds into the future. Requiring practice, by not being allowed to obsessively decode mysteriously oozing wounds from assailants long gone or gloat over future retributions, the mind can be trained to momentarily stop.

There's a catch though, when the mind does stop. The mind is wrapped around stories filled with suffering. Trying to avoid suffering and thereby creating it. Around and around. Like a puzzle that has no answer, the mind circles suffering with "why" and ends up creating more suffering.  So stopping the mind, being still, also means uncovering and letting go of the detritus of suffering.

Thankfully, the mind wasn't created to build palaces of suffering. It was designed to bring voice, motion and witness to the endless moment of creation. Creation, firmly ever in the present moment, waits patiently for the mind to be still.

There is nothing to do. The mind stops. There is nowhere to go. The mind stops.

All is well. The mind screeches to a halt. The ego stops and all the hot air of "I" rushes out.

And when the mind and the ego stop, the mind's child suffering, sitting patiently in the back seat, stops as well.

In the present moment, the mind stops. And with no suffering to mark its constant motion, the mind is silent.

Creation celebrates the present witness.

Being still.


Ciao ciao

What a gift!

The speed of modern life leads to skimming over the miraculous along with the mundane. A habit develops of not seeing clearly the remarkable abundance of life. Dedicating time apart with people that I love makes me dig a little deeper into what matters most.

Last week I made time to travel to Lake Como, Italy, to celebrate a milestone with beloved family. A week of beauty, joy, revelation, talking, reflecting, dancing, thinking and singing. Eating gnocchi, drinking red wine and laughing.

OMG, laughing until I couldn't breathe!

Love, love, all of what I love, right there. Beauty, kindness, generosity, truth, light, laughter.

And right along with all that digging deeper? Intertwined with the warm fuzzy, cozy, baby talking, love you ciao ciao?

Loss, disappointment, hurt, suspicion, mistrust, darkness.

Excuse my Italian, but WTF?!

I am reminded of the saying "the deeper the shadow, the brighter the light". And in the case of loving family and friends, this remains true. The more we delve into the pure brilliance and lightness of being, the more we open to the shadow.

How do we fully embrace love if we don't acknowledge loss? How can we offer trust if we don't remember betrayal? How do we extend forgiveness if we cannot hold our own moments of selfishness and vanity?

And highlighting the brightest moment of our joys, what grounds us most firmly in this paradise of earthly delights?

The shadow of death.

It occurred to me this week that if we didn't have death to underscore and inform our passion for living, we'd have to invent it. And yet to celebrate the love and joy of our lives, we are always surprised when loss emerges from the shadows to remind us of life's roots.

Until we go on vacation and experience the immense light and dark of the world, stripped of its familiarity.

We jostle on crowded planes, sleep fitfully with ear plugs, drag our bags through passport control and customs, wait on taxi lines and decipher ferry schedules.

Then finally welcomed into the waiting arms of our beloved family and friends, we confess our secrets and our eternal love for them.

Then after the laughing has died down, we share our disappointments with each other, fight about the past, weep and then forgive each other our trespasses. As we reconnect our lives by taking time to honor our journeys, we experience the truth of temporality and the transient gifts of mortality.

This is the only time we are here in this moment. We will never stand exactly here again.

And it is possible that through the fate of our journeys, we may not return. This makes the joining and the parting deeper, richer and bittersweet.

The parting hugs a little tighter. Treasuring the deepening of the connection as the reward of our time together. Sharing pictures along the way to remember where we laughed and cried.

Reentering our lives a little more deeply aware of how love informs and shapes the world and how grounding ourselves in the shadow makes living possible.

Finche non ci incontriamo ancora. (Until we meet again.)

Ciao ciao.