The past month feels like I’ve slept more than I’ve slept the entire past five years. Slept in a purposeful cut-back on brain and doing with an intent to reclaim time for myself, learn to be forgiving with lazy, and simply rest. To slow down the mind-whirl inside and outside me of m.a.i.n.t.a.i.n.i.n.g. Recovery from the push – create, disassemble, reassemble, create book, home, life.
I set out to get my animal body moving once more, too. To step into the early morning like I once did. Feel blood circulating in my legs and joints. I confess, wanting my ankles and hips back to their only months ago size is also a motivation. What gets me moving, tho, is being present to the sky + everything around me outdoors. I experience space inside that allows a return to creative work where the only function is telling a story and playing in the mind-field of my imagination.
It’s working. I spontaneously wrote three poems in the past two weeks, and something magical happened as I clipped around and across my designated 2 x 3 block square where there’s little or no moving vehicles.
About half the homes are sweetly landscaped. Some I simply love and wish were my own yard. I even play games with myself as I pass. How I’d maintain that yard. How much it would cost to plant. How long to mature garden.
One morning I heard the sound of sprinklers 1/2 block from my home. A gorgeous yard with beds of flowers and swirls of pebbled walkways, an entire row of roses bordering one side. It took me back to Florida where I heard sprinklers every morning as I walked eight blocks thru the fabulous historic neighborhood to the bay. Every morning heard them, even with monsoons.
I stopped to admire the yard and searched for the darkened pebbles, sandy dirt, or thorny trunks of roses that indicate wet. I looked for the glisten of droplets on the yellow, pink, magenta, and lavender flower heads. I listened, looked, and found nothing.
As I passed the yard on the last stretch home after I’d criss-crossed my chosen territory, I was looking up at the sky. And how the breeze riffled the tree canopies. At the back of the gorgeous yard was a tall tree with tightly packed leaves the size of your palm. The entire canopy rippled. The undersides of the leaves caught the early sunlight with the rhythm of the breeze.
From it I heard the sound of the cool nourishment of water I’d searched for 20 min. earlier. It came from leaves rubbing against one another. As I stood, my attention went to the small spade-shaped leaves of the aspen in the front yard, the lower timbre of the sound they made. I thought, aspens don’t quake. It’s us who quakes inside at hearing them.
Everything in the world dropped away except for me, the sound of nourishing water, the sight of the leaves riffling amongst one another on a field of the broad saturated blue flawless sky. My perception of myself completely altered. I was one with it all. I moved on only after a raven called.
Days later I went to a workshop by Brooklyn born Persian poet Haleh Liza. She composes music, writes poetry, and translates Rumi. Has performed and read all over the world, including Carnegie Hall. Throughout the workshop she sang and read in her, and Rumi’s, native language – Persian. Again, my perception completely altered.
What I heard in Rumi’s poems spoken and sung in Persian is they hold the rhythm of his whirling in prayer. The cadence regular and palpable. And the lines rhymed with each rotation. I felt it before she said, listen to this.
I realized how all that magic gets lost in translation to English. For how can you translate rhythm and rhyme when a single word in one language holds sentences of meaning in another.
When I went to Rumi’s resting place in Konya, Turkey, a vast complex of museum and mausoleum that’s a pilgrimage for many, I felt the reverence in the people and place. I also felt something I couldn’t identify. Not until this workshop shifted my perception, and relationship to Rumi’s poetry, could I name it. I’d felt the rhythm and rhyme in the place and people like an extension of his movement in whirling prayer that reached out to exist as air we breathe.
I shifted inside in that moment. I heard our everyday humanness in his words not as being flawed or longing, but as present as the Divine. I felt like I did watching & listening to the leaves that sounded like water. My humanness merging with the Universe.
I shared someone asked what the heart of my teaching is. What is the craft of your teach, the way she put it. How I told her there is more than one way to look at things. I’m adjusting my answer right now to include this: how we perceive ourselves in the world has the power to expand our understanding infinitely, and bring us back to ourselves in a new way. Extreme presence is the key.
When I left the workshop, even the hollyhocks looked different than when I went in.
Another small journey. Getting to Wise.
A Writer’s Life.
Tell me. . .have you ever had a transcendent experience where you left yourself, and returned knowing yourself different?
I’ll tell you a secret. . .you really gotta listen to Haleh Liza.
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