Getting Fed

Change, Self-discovery By May 26, 2020 No Comments

The cow grazes until nightfall, full and fat,

but during the night she panics

and grows thin as a single hair.

What shall I eat tomorrow? There is nothing left.

By dawn the grass has grown up again, waist-high.

The cow starts eating and by dark

the meadow is clipped short.

She is full of strength and energy, but she panics

in the dark as before and grows abnormally thin overnight.

The cow does this over and over,

and this is all she does.

From Rumi’s A Small Green Island, translated by Coleman Barks

 

I first heard this poem about the cow that eats all day, only to starve at night on her fear, when I was in my mid-twenties and searching.

A man read it aloud on a CD in that lilting, irregular way Rumi is often performed. I hated the poem when I first heard it. The stanzas made me ache with self-recrimination. How often had I been this cow? Safe when I trusted, but oh when I fed on doubt…

Pain and trust have been on my mind in light of recent world events. It seems to me that they are more than the fabric of our culture, they are the very air we breathe.

The cow and the disparity of wealth in our world feel related to me. And the more I chew my cud on it, the more they feel rooted in the premise that ours is a finite structure. There are finite resources, finite opportunities. A finite amount of money in the treasury.

And there may not be enough of it to go around.

Some of this finite thinking is accurate. The earth will not give us endless fossil fuels. And each of us has a certain number of years—or mere minutes—on this planet. In this body. Growing lean or growing fat.

But what if the finite notion of the haves and have-nots is a load of bull?

What if we weren’t really designed for inequity or limitation at all?

Suppose—just suppose—that no one person was built better, faster, smarter, cooler, or more perfect than her neighbor, his state senator? Suppose the sun doesn’t shine more brightly on one person over another. Suppose each of us is equally motivated, in our way?

Would this change the world? I say no.

Because suppose it is already so. An indivisible truth that we all share an equal footing—if not by circumstance then by our birthright as divine humans who come to search, rise, fall, triumph, fail, and search anew.

But equality won’t change the world until we believe it. Until we really ask each another, “Can this be so?” Like Rumi’s cow, we make ourselves thin as a hair in the darkness of our fear, our doubt. Why don’t we take some of that power to reduce and turn it back into the real magic that it is? Why don’t we believe in how tremendous we all are?

We have the power to make anything, you and I. Starvation or plenty. Progressive fuel solutions or an earth that propels us into space we have made her so uninhabitable. We make love and terror. A painting, a bagel. An equation that will change the history of mankind.

My favorite subject when I was a kid wasn’t math; it was reading. And my favorite story was Paul Galdone’s The Magic Porridge Pot. In it the porridge pot produces endlessly for the story’s heroine, a little girl. What a gorgeous image, all that flowing porridge! The story spoke to me metaphorically and literally because even then I worshipped at the altar of carbohydrates. I dreamed of all that food. I could taste it thick and sweet in my mouth as I read.

It was almost better than a real bowl of porridge. I could read and read and imagine and have it as often as I wanted. That imagining fed me in ways I’m still unpacking. All that food flowing in the streets…

I am convinced that we create everything—absolutely everything—including magic. And we do it by dreaming first. Time to dream is worth a hundred careful plans. It’s a luxury we may not have allowed ourselves since we were young and reading stories and gazing out of windows between cyphering equations (some of us). I mean, really. Think about it! Someone, somewhere, invented porridge didn’t they?

Could be they did it in a sudden stroke of genius, or could be they spent a little time first dreaming up new ways to get fed.

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photo stories :: slow

Outloudish By May 11, 2020 No Comments

Slow

I looked at this photo the other day (taken about four years ago) and thought how something about it both encapsulates this time we all share right now and defies it. Bare faced. Close. The people in it are lost in their own realities as much as they are connected. And even the way she is circling the spoon around in that cup looks subversive.

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photo stories :: barns

Outloudish By May 3, 2020 No Comments

barns

 

I used to be late for work all the time, or late coming home. I blamed it on the cats (one of them threw up again, can you believe it?) or on a demanding work project. But really I was having an affair with the Sonoma County landscape by way of my new handheld camera. To and from work I sought the light, swell of hills, dance of trees. The surest way to fall into rapture.

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what you open up-2

What We Open Up

An Authentic Life, Change, Self-discovery By May 3, 2020 No Comments

The world of woo has changed pretty radically in the past 10-20 years. Slowly, surely the occult has become less other, and today we have influencers and celebrities freely endorsing their preferred mediums and shamans. CEOs now take vision quests and share these experiences with their leadership teams. Certain astrologers and their kin have even become celebrities themselves. Practices that were once strictly supernatural have become… well, kinda super regular.

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photo stories :: rope swing

Outloudish By May 3, 2020 No Comments

swingin - anna kaehler

 

About six years ago we took a hike down from a trailhead near Bolinas, CA. The destination was a lake for swimming and swinging. I did neither, but I did reach the lake and watch it ripple while the more active among us competed for best plunge.

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cracking

Cracking

Change, Self-discovery By April 24, 2020 No Comments

I recently went upstairs to the little closet sized room with the sweet window that hides at the back of my 1912 house. I stretched out on the shaggy white rug in there and decided I’d try to meditate. I had a tension headache and sometimes moving it through meditation can help.

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Enlight268

Move the Damn Pot

flowers, Self-discovery By April 19, 2020 No Comments

I’ve been plugging away at the same few orchid plants for a few years now. Do you have this problem? The plants arrive in full bloom, of course, but a couple of months later they’ve morphed into the sad little asymmetrical things I’ve come to call Phalaenopsis nakedis. No flowers. Nada. Maybe a new leaf every blue moon.

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tree path

Care

An Authentic Life, Change, Communication, Self-discovery By April 1, 2020 No Comments

There’s a big movement happening, and it seems to me it is coming from the earth up. I can feel it under my feet on my daily walks, which I now commit to in taking care of myself. It’s been a long time since I regularly walked for my health. I’ve got a little more time for it now with work going remote, a little more flexibility. But that isn’t the real reason.

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the mouse

The Mouse

Change By March 26, 2020 No Comments

Our neighbor Ashley came over a few nights ago. Oh, I know what you’re thinking: WE ARE IN QUARANTINE, WHAT DO YOU MEAN SHE CAME OVER??

Believe me, Ashley is well aware of the pandemic. She didn’t want to come over. I could hear the hesitation in her voice when I called, my own tone panicky, pleading.

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