Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Yoga. Five am. It's amazing to me how twenty minutes spent silently on a mat linking my breath to my movement while the love of my life continues to linger in dreamland can have such a profound effect on my day. It starts with the shower. I take a shorter shower, use less water, less natural gas to heat the water, less electricity to pump the water, if I do twenty minutes of yoga before stepping into the shower, because I'm already alert, already warm. Getting out of the shower with more time to get dressed, more time to get ready for work. I find my clothes calmly, sip tea for a few minutes while sitting on the edge of the bed next to that gorgeous man who shares my life. Luxury.
Ten after six, walking to the bus stop, cup of tea in hand, I notice that it's warmer than it has been in so many, many months. The sky is barely light. At the bus stop, next to the busy highway, between groups of cars passing, I hear the tiny chirps of birds coming from the field.
I get on the bus, use my phone to post a facebook update about the sky and the birds and see a post from a friend, "smash indiffrince with nina...." and a link to Ms. Simone's song, "Feelin' Good", one of my all time favorites. It's in a playlist on my phone and I decide to listen to it on the bus on the way to work.
All of my senses and my heart are so wide open this morning. Is it because of my renewed practice of yoga every single day? Is it because of springtime in the mountains? Is it because of a good night's sleep, molecules all entangled with his? Is it because I have been thinking a lot about how best to continue sharing the tools and joys of yoga during the class I've been teaching in the jail each week, with that bodhisattva mantra becoming a part of my DNA? "I am not free until all are free." Perhaps the why of it doesn't matter as much as the simple truth of it. I am raw. I am wide open. I am madly in love with life, the universe, & everything, madly and peacefully in the same moment.
Nina's voice reaches my ears through 46 years and some impressive technology. She sings, "Birds flying high you know how I feel. Sun in the sky, you know how I feel....." I know this song better than I know my own body and it always affects me deeply. I know even before hearing it again that it is a song about newfound freedom, about the joy of being alive. As those words, "birds flying high" vibrate through me, as my eyes see the outline of the mountains against the steadily lightening sky through the bus window, my soul soars high with the birds of this morning and the birds of Nina's morning so long ago, and simultaneously, my eyes fill with tears at the memory of a news story of hundreds of birds falling dead from the sky-- no explanation.
Nina continues caressing my consciousness through all these years, through these headphones, through my ear drums, "Breeze drifting on by, you know how I feel. It's a new dawn. It's a new day. It's a new life for me, yeah. It's a new dawn. It's a new day. It's a new life for me. and I'm feelin' good." She recorded this song before I was born. Was it possible in 1965 for people somewhere on earth to wake up to a breeze so dangerous, so laden with radiation from a broken nuclear plant that they had to leave their homes? It's such a beautiful morning here. I do feel so good and yet, so sorrowful. A tear rolls down my cheek.
"Fish in the sea, you know how I feel. River runnin' free, you know how I feel. Blossom on the tree, you know how I feel. It's a new dawn. It's a new day. It's a new life for me. And I'm feelin' good." Her voice, those words, the instruments accompanying her, my own name in the lyrics, all move me in inexplicable ways. Through the window I can see the sparkling ribbon of the Roaring Fork River. Here it is near the start of its long journey toward the Pacific. Thirty miles from here it will meet the Colorado River and I know that the Colorado is damned and diverted so much that the water here will not make it to the sea. The estuaries in the delta are now but shadows of their former selves. Only cracked, dried, and in many places, toxic, mud remains. This river is no longer free. And what of the fish in the sea? Do they know that their tissues are laden with mercury? Do they now try to avoid the Pacific Garbage Patch the way we humans try to avoid traffic jams in smog clogged cities? Blossom On The Tree, do you know how I feel, today? Are you, too, overjoyed to be alive and yet bereft at the carelessness with which we humans have treated our shared and only home?
Nina goes on, oblivious to my tears, (or is she?) "Dragonfly out in the sun, you know what I mean, don't you know? Butterflies all havin' fun, you know what I mean. Sleep in peace when day is done, that's what I mean. And this old world is a new world and a bold world, for me." The tears are flowing freely now. How often do we actually sleep in peace when day is done? How often do I toss, turn, dream turbulent dreams after having watched the news of the day before bed? "Stars when you shine, you know how I feel. Scent of the pine, you know how I feel. Freedom is mine. And I know how I feel. It's a new dawn. It's a new day. It's a new life, for me." Is there another star out there like our Sun? Is there another planet out there like our Earth? Do the stars ever fear for the health of their home, the universe? Or do they only burn, burn, burn, mindlessly burn? Is freedom mine? I feel free and yet I do not. The mantra tickles the edges of my awareness, as Nina sings and the music soars, "Freedom is mine." dances with "I am not free until all are free." Oh Nina, did you know that one day my heart would break open over and over and over again while listening to your song? How could you? A silent sob shakes me to the bone. Does anyone on the bus notice my emotion? No, it seems, they do not.
The playlist is on shuffle, so I don't know what song is coming next. As Macy Gray begins to sing I catch my breath, "I know you're fed up. Life don't let up, for us. All they talk about, is what is going down, and what's been messed up, for us. When I look around, I see blue skies, I see butterflies, for us. Listen to the sound, and lose it, in sweet music, and dance with me. 'Cause there is beauty in the world." I know, Macy, I know. It's true. You're so right. There is SO much beauty in the world. So much. And / but, Macy, there is so much suffering, too. So much. She replies, "We need more lovin'. We need more learnin'. They say. Change is gonna come, like the weather, they say forever. They say. So baby, in between, notice the blue skies. Notice the butterflies. Notice me. Stop and smell the flowers and lose it, in sweet music, and dance with me. 'Cause there is beauty in the world." How can I dance when others suffer? How dare I lose myself in this sweet music, in this sweet sunrise, in this inhale, this exhale, when others suffer and die? And how dare I not? How dare I not hold this moment of peace in my life in deep gratitude and revel in it? I know what you're saying Macy. I know. You're right. I can see it, I catch a glimpse, this second, as the bus turns out of the Intercept Lot, up Brush Creek Canyon, the sky--- it's deep pink & purple & blue, like a painting, over the snow capped mountains to the south. Breathtaking. She sings, "When you don't know what to do, don't know if you'll make it through, remember God is giving you, beauty in the world, so love." Love. Love. Love. I think, gratitude is a synonym for love. "Hey babe, I'm lookin' at you now. I know in fact it's true now. There's love. There's hope for us and there's beauty in the world." More tears fall. Tears of joy. Tears of gratitude. Thank you, Macy, for reminding us all, to be thankful for the beauty, even, and especially, in the face of sorrow.
Next song: Michael Franti sings, "The more I see the less I know, but I know, one thing, that I love you." I smile, inside and out. In gratitude again, for love. It's true.... the more I see, the less I know. but I know one thing. I love. Is it true that everyone loves someone?
Ah, the Pixies, La La Love You. "All I'm saying pretty baby, la la love you, don't mean maybe." Butterflies in the stomach. Goosebumps on the arms. Even my liver smiles. My heart dances. I wriggle, just subtly, in my seat, on the bus. Don't want to disturb the fellow commuters.
We're headed into town, going through the roundabout, when Jack Johnson starts singing, "It's always more fun to share with everyone." My smile is refreshed as I look east across the Marolt Open Space, past the town, toward the Continental Divide. "If you have one, here is something you can learn, you can still share, just by taking turns." "If you've got one sandwich, cut that thing in half. If you know a secret joke, tell it and share a laugh." Why don't the leaders of the world have the same common sense as the kids in preschool? This song needs to be translated into every language and played at the start of every meeting of every Congress and Parliament and U.N. & G-8 meeting in the world.
soon the Luminaries are asking me, "Do you believe in miracles?" and I think I have to. I have no choice. They sing, "Peace worldwide, starts from inside, the answer and solution always start with me." I'm walking from the place where I exit the bus to my workplace. The sun will peak over the mountains any minute. The fluffy clouds are lit bright pink from below. A bird flies between me and the clouds, so gracefully. The buds on a tree branch that reaches across the sidewalk stand out in stark contrast to the sky. I renew my resolve that every time I find my body in warrior pose it will be a prayer for peace. I am a yogi warrior for peace, a protector of beauty, a lover of life.
I take off the headphones and step through the door into the workplace where I will spend the next 10 hours surrounded by computer screens, answering the phones, sending help, breathing in, breathing out.
"Peace world wide starts from inside, if you wanna save the world, be the change you wanna see."
Am I walking my talk today? All day? Every minute? Am I trying to see things from another perspective if there is a disagreement? Am I using more than my fair share? Am I doing my best? Am I being the best I can be? Who am I to be great? Actually, who am I not to be? How dare I not live up to every iota of my potential? Are you being your best today? Can we save this world? Can we BE the change we want to see? Can we come together for peace? Can we hold the deep sorrows and the deep joys all in the same moment? Can we stay awake? Take care of each other? Share all we have with all who need? Are we strong enough?
Last week I read about a study in which they put a bunch of people at the bottom of a hill wearing heavy backpacks and asked them each to estimate how steep the hill was. The ones who were standing with other people tended to perceive the hill as less steep than the ones who were standing alone. The ones who were standing with someone they had known for a long time perceived the hill as even less steep. What I got out of reading that is that we need each other. Let's be all on the same team - for the greater good of all -- all for one and one for all. Together, we can do it. We can turn this thing around. Who's in?
at 1:51 PM