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#practiceofpracticing

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Death In The Family

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    Transmutation is defined as a change in state.

    A short time ago, I walked into the woods. White winter snow dressed the ground and the trees stood bare in the afternoon light. A frozen river marked the trail I walked along and the sounds of my snow shoes kept me company. Spring warmed the day with intermittent drips and the prints of animals that had walked before me settled in their melting space.

    I carried two carnations.

    An acting teacher named Stanford Meisner famously said that in order to grow, you have to kill your parents. It was never intended to be a literal quote, at least, it never came across that way to me. I understood that he was saying, in order to become my own person, the relationships that ushered me into life had to change.

    I buried my Father in a small copse of woods: pine trees ascended in clean lines to the sky, funneling a channel of light down to his final resting place and one white carnation. I felt good about leaving him here. I thanked him for the priorities he made in his life: the blessing that has been my life directly results from his choices. The week previous, I would not have had this perspective on him or my own life.

    I kept Mom close to him, so that they could continue on in the fashion they’d become accustomed to, caring for one another, kindly. One red carnation, she rests near a bend in the river, and with spring now in full swing, I conjure the sounds of its gentle rolling rhythm. She took care of me in ways that I never knew I needed and my every interaction with the world is a direct result of her influence.

    Entering these woods, I had wondered at the emotion that might arise from consciously uncoupling from my folks. Leaving these woods felt like the most positive thing that I could have done for our future relating. I experienced that in the letters I wrote: they expressed the most positive aspects of my relationship with each of my parents. Being able to gift these letters to my parents within the week of writing them is a blessing that has changed our way of relating.

    Much of my life I have spent judging my parents based on the information I gathered as a child. Today, I am able to see that that child had no frame of reference for the interactions of adults. As a child, the emotions churning through my being were incredibly powerful, hard to feel and difficult to communicate.

     The way I experienced my childhood left me thinking that distance over depth was safer. I knew that it felt better to not hurt others. I wasn’t so interested in getting hurt either. I have never been clear which was more important.

    In some respects, it hasn’t been much of a life. I have travelled to interesting places and spent years on the road collecting experiences, stories and skills. I have read great works of fiction and trashy novels. I have watched Love, Actually in three languages about twenty times. I have been in environments where all there was was water and I have been in places where not a drop of it was found.

    Through all of these expansive interactions with people, though things have been interesting, I haven’t always been available. For friendships and for lovers, things remained buffered and insulated. As an example, in Barcelona, I once lived in a Benetton ad: a mad Englishman, a lovely French woman, and a kind man from Mexico. We met while living in a hostel, where a con artist took a bunch of us out for hot chocolate on a day that it snowed. He then fled the city with a thousand euro of other peoples money.

    I felt so lucky to be living with these people that I made a room behind an armoire just to be near them. It must have worked for them too, for they invited me to do so. I used to marvel at how sweet these strangers were to one another, how they made a family out of each other. I tried to be one with them; often I was so hard on myself, it was probably the trying that left me feeling awkward. I haven’t been in touch with any of them for decades.

    In burying my parents, I was able to appreciate the moments they sacrificed for me, their gifts of character and value and the times I was too much to handle.

    I attended two more funerals in those woods.

    I buried this version of myself, the isolationist who prefers books to people. He died sad, and lonely, unable to acknowledge his responsibility: for the path he walked; the ways he choose to push people away; playing the victim. His goodbye was a somber affair in a cool corner of the woods with kind attendees who spoke of always liking him and yet, never really knew his heart. He lays there in the dark, still lamenting his being as some broken thing.

    The other burial was filled with celebration of a life well lived: that man I am birthing, is engaged with life and says yes to it. Nestled in sunshine that shone from the south, this plot of land overlooked a narrow island shaped by the raven river’s current. He appreciates opportunities presented with gratitude and curiosity.  His rudder is love and compassion and the expansion he nourishes will leave an impact to be felt for generations.

    These funerals created space for me to believe in myself. More than that, they crafted space for me to see my parents, not as my parents but as people doing the best they knew how to do, products of their own childhood. I learned compassion for them as human beings and in recognizing my old way of being, I freed the choice to choose a me that I believe in.

    I wasn’t born an individual.

    I was born a member of a tribe. I was raised with values and influences that have shaped the person that I am today. I pay my respects to each link in the chain of those who came before me. I learn many things at the knee of my ancestors and their influences thread through my life to this moment.

    Each spring is a time of change, of new births. Each ending itself, is a new beginning. Each gestation requires an act of creation.
    
    I trust the source of all things and receive a clear signal: take care of yourself; be kind to yourself.

    My work of becoming gives birth…

 


    
    
    
    
   

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Moment to Moment

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Moment to Moment

When I live up in my head, I have the most delightful dreams about reality. I hope for the best regarding my actions and the results of them. Yet I have sat still long enough to understand something anew: hope is reliant upon fear. It limits by its expectation. And there is something about expectation that is manipulative. Expectation is manipulation.
There.
I’ve said it.
Hear me.

Expectation is manipulation.
Moment to moment.

Up in my head, I make the words seem so important and the inflection matter. It’s part of my challenge with texting. I can’t catch those nuances. For I want those nuances. I want to hear the emotion behind the words, so as to really appreciate the conversation that you and I are engaged in. And what of the actions? So a question presents:

What if the collection of choices in my life have been perfect from start to now…

Right parents. Right Sister. Right Neighbor. Right friendship.  
Right backyard. Right haircut. Right attention. Right meal.
Right travel. Right work. Right donation. Right hand dominance
Right time management. Right self management.
Right Passage. Right Partner. Right Play.
Right effort. Right Presence.

Moment to moment.

As a child, I was taught that I could do anything that i set my mind to. That was a wonderful way to grow up, with the suggestion that there was anything that I could be. I wasn’t modeled ways of making that my reality. I wasn’t offered methods of honing the mind. Life has a funny way of offering inspiration.

Retrofitting my understanding to those years ago, I see that my teachers were perfect. I called them in to encourage me in all the ways that I required. I write this from a train in London. Perfect. All the choices and moments that got me here. Perfect.

I want what I want. I want to dream it in. I craft fantasies that suggest limitless potential and the comrades that I shall share that time with. It is a way that I have come to manipulate myself.

Moment to moment.

It is lovely to dream. It’s wonderful. Don’t lose the dream, I tell myself. Temper it with a realistic appraisal of the truths present in this moment. Move from that place.

Today i am leading with non judgement. Of myself. Of another. I cannot describe for you the peace that I am finding in just allowing the world to be. To not force my will upon it, to not shape it with my intent. I have them, mind you. Intents. The difference is that I am allowing life to present itself as it wants to be.

Moment to moment.

It is perfect. In all its variations, it explodes with charismatic light. Unique variations in the play of life keep the light dancing like the flame of a candle. Did you know the light from that flame can reach the edge of the universe? It is a wondrous thing.

Albert Einstein said that we can treat the universe as one of two things: as though nothing is a miracle and as if everything is. That invite. I take it with me. My friendships. My work. My play. My family. I allow my expectations to fall away and I am inspired in the present to practice.

Moment to moment.

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a little known fact about me...

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a little known fact about me...

I feel fortunate. I have had the practice of yoga in my life for over 20 years and I’ve yet to reach the age of 40. I don’t know too many able to claim that. Yet many of the principles I practice in my life came prior to the mat. I found those practices on the rugby pitch.

From the outside what appears to be a brutish game is actually quite inspired. Tactical in the vein of chess, it is full of athletic prowess with competitiveness of the highest level. Its lack of padding I found comfort in, as the test of muscle and bone colliding upon itself seemed simple, compared to hard plastics and metal.

It’s true gift happens off the field. For 80 mins, collisions just shy of dismemberment. Left on the field, players joke with their opposite numbers over beers.

Rugby taught me to be a gentleman, not a gentle man. To leave it on the field.

The community taught me to respect others, to ask for help and to explore ways of doing. The social side taught me to love the part of me that loves good times. I was introduced to books I may never have found. I discovered my love of travel by playing across my home province.

The Rugby world cup runs until the end of October in England. Chances to view this game at the highest level will be presented at your local pub and the occasional sports bar. Take the time to expand your view and explore the thrill of this international game.

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