One Day It Stopped

Love in the time of the coronavirus

A Facebook friend posted this poem three days ago. Asenath Avinash is also a bodyworker. Her place of employment is currently closed, but if you love this as much as I do, you could ask for her when they reopen.

It’s a good reflection of the shift in the narrative many of us are experiencing now.

And we looked around,
and we saw ourselves,
and it was so funny, so strange
to recognize, not the selves we had
built, but the ones that were buried
out in the long backyard of our lives,
forgotten, rusted, decomposing,
presumed lost, presumed even
never to have existed,
but there they were, just like the
canal-bottoms in Venice,
waiting for us, never having gone,
never having left,
and the miracle
was being able to see clearly
what was already there.

The miracle was how quickly
the pollution vanished,
and our eyes healed,
and we looked out on a world
that was fresh and different
and we saw that businesswomen
were really poets,
and that scientists were really prophets,
and that we were all vulnerable
and worth protecting,
and that toilet paper
was a kind of false security,
and that all our systems
needed a pause and
a fresh start
and that most of us
were really, very tired.

And we rested,
and our children wondered
what is happening right now?
and we couldn’t answer.
We weren’t supposed to
touch anything
or do any work
or go anywhere,
and it felt that we were
being shown something.

So we stayed at home, and
we mowed the tall grass
and listened to birds
and gave thanks
for the garbage collectors
and the grocery clerks,
and we organized our closets
and made pots of nutritious soup,
and the introverts
turned their cameras on
and taught us
how to make crafts,
and the musicians
picked up their instruments
and walked out
their front doors
and sang in the streets,
and nothing stopped them,
not cars, not fear, and no one
thought they were lunatics,
in fact, we thanked them,
we came outside to listen
standing far apart,
and feeling our interconnection.

We understood
that something so profound
was taking place,
and that if it went on
long enough, the fireflies
would come back
into our yards
and the ladybugs
and the milky way.
The earth herself
was waking up quietly,
or rather, we were,
and we saw that maybe
we didn’t need so much
after all, maybe
in this new world, we’d find
new careers
or they would find us
if we let them,
and we wanted to
stay put and be still and
feel it out
moment by moment.
We didn’t want to touch it
with our clumsy hands
or make plans or
disturb anything,
and so we just watched it
breathing softly
and steadily
like a precious newborn.

And we knew that,
at some point,
it would probably start up again,
which was confusing,
because, yes,
we did need money,
or so we had always believed.

-AAvinash, 3/24/20

What If?

What if our religion was each other?
If our practice was our life?
If prayer was our words?
What if the Temple was the Earth?
If forests were our church?
If holy water – the rivers, lakes and ocean?
What if meditation was our relationships?
If the Teacher was Life?
If wisdom was self-knowledge?
If love was the center of our being?
~ Ganga White

New addition to my Favorite Quotes page.

Thanks to David Baker for sharing on Facebook. Yes. These are the questions to be asked.

If that metaphor had been a snake, it would have bit me!

If you don’t remember from high school English what a metaphor is, it is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase ordinarily used to designate one thing is used to designate something else.

Examples: Time is money. Life is a journey. She’s dancing toward happiness. When I reach the top of that mountain, then I’ll be free. I’ve got a knot in my stomach. He’s a real pain in the ass. Let me get something off my chest. Give me a hand. I’m looking for the right path. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. If the shoe fits, wear it. The map is not the territory. Life is like a box of chocolates. It’s like pulling teeth. It’s like herding cats. The poem points a finger at the moon. Before/after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

In each of these examples, the metaphor uses a word or phrase that has a literal, embodied meaning (people do reach the tops of mountains, journeys exist, lights at the ends of tunnels exist) to symbolize an experience.

I’ve been paying attention to metaphors in conversation and writing, and it’s almost unbelievable how pervasive they are. Metaphors are everywhere! I can’t turn around without bumping into a metaphor! If that metaphor had been a snake, it would have bit me!

I’m writing about metaphors because I just spent some time learning the basics of and practicing Symbolic Modelling, aka Clean Language, an approach to changework, which is another hat I wear. (See?)

The workshop and retreat were led by James Lawley and Penny Tompkins. Their book is Metaphors in Mind: Transformation through Symbolic Modelling, and their website is The Clean Collection.

I’m going to be writing more about this, but for now, let me offer some prompts to discover your own personal metaphors.

Fill in the rest of the sentence:

Life is [like] ….

Time is ….

Money is …..

Love is ….

Work is ….

See you back here soon with more on this topic!

Glenn Close reads Neruda’s poem “I Like for You to Be Still”

love how poetry feeds my soul. enjoy this sunday bonus.

my personal guesthouse

i’m typing this post with my right hand, cradling my laptop in my left, because my bee-yoo-tiful purry, furry cat mango has claimed the real estate that is my lap — no room for the laptop.

cat love is so good. mango, i love you! and yes, i know it’s not quite unconditional love like a dog’s love, but i am so grateful for it. the furry orange prince mango comforts and soothes.

i am grateful for every bit of love that has come my way, ever. when i think of all the streams of love energy (affection, attention, positive regard, laughter, eye contact, smiles, support, kindness, help, teachings, advice, loving touch in its many forms, love from a distance, and countless other ways), that have pierced my energy field in all my years of life on this planet, whether i was aware of it or not, i am especially humbled and full of gratitude for being part of this 7 billion strong tribe of odd-looking, ungainly (especially compared to cats) mammals called human beings who love.

maybe not all the time, but we humans do love. we. love. we love.

love rules the emotions. it conquers all. love > fear — someone recently gave me that bumper sticker celebrating her recovery from cancer. thank you. it’s very handy to have that reminder.

when a relationship changes direction, as i recently experienced, i become a guesthouse for all the emotions passing through, the feelings stirred from having taken a risk and opened my heart to someone i really, really liked a lot, and then needing to find a way to change my way of relating.

i’m actually not sure of the distinction between really, really liking someone a lot and loving them. loving seems to be the scarier word for some, so maybe fear is the only distinction. not for me. i use the word love a lot.

i realized early on that i wanted to love this man, that it would hurt me not to open my heart. sometimes you just know that you need take the risk. you see who they are and where they’ve come from and what it took to get here, and it moves you. you look at their face and can see their young self shining through, and you adore that self and the current self struggling to find the light and sometimes finding it.

i’m glad i opened my heart, even though hurt is one of the horde of emotions flooding through the door of the guesthouse today, along with appreciation, respect, admiration, fear, sadness, doubt, relief, grief, dismay, disappointment, pride in both of us for coming to this conclusion and moving through with it, deeply grateful for time and space to process on my own and for him knowing i’d need that, vulnerability, gratitude for having been seen/heard/felt and for all the laughter and loving touch.

and a sudden hindsight about a comment that i puzzled over, more awareness of how i relate, recognition that i wasn’t looking or ready for this and that’s okay because i will be more awake the next time love knocks, that mental penetration to truth that i enjoy so much when it happens, awe that two people can manage to communicate at all about anything that really matters, understanding that he and i have really different values about certain things, recognition of both our foolishness and our bravery.

and feeling shot for unwittingly bearing a message that scared him, a lot of compassion for us both, eye-rolling exasperation about some of his expectations and thinking, some real anger, recognizing a man’s gonna do what a man’s gonna do, seeing foolishness (and not just his), remembering how much i looked forward to seeing him and realizing it wasn’t enough time to really jell, tragic, managed, dogged fix-myself-ology, hope, perspective, acceptance, happiness that it happened.

and excitement and anticipation about what amazing new relationship could possibly come next and what i now bring to the table for having had this experience, great insights into timing, awareness that this experience is cooking me in some great mysterious way, respectful for whatever he might be thinking and feeling during this time, a bit of worry for him, hope for him, a desire for him to succeed too, wanting to let go of wanting to fix anyone or anything, and a beautiful vision of a new and different relationship between two amazing people who really, really like each other continuing to be present and open in a friendship that contributes to each other’s lives and benefits all sentient beings.

i don’t know if that will happen, if that’s my idealism, or if baggage, shadows, or egos will get in the way, or even if there’s mutual interest. but it’s my fantasy, and i get to have it.

i don’t usually post such personal writing, but this topic of love and change is so personal and universal. may this writing benefit you, and all sentient beings.

my heart chakra already feels so much better for having written this, for greeting all those guests, and the traffic through the guesthouse is already slowing to a trickle of visitors whom i can spend quality time with.

as within, so without. here’s the original poem by rumi.

The Guesthouse by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.