Tag Archives: will

dreamless sleeping

I’m feeling acutely
the difference between responding to my life
and being the choreographer of it

how having no invitation or opportunity to dream
takes its subtle but steady toll
I’m writing and the words stop
start stop
going fuzzy and lethargic
till not even a good night’s sleep renews me

cue my will
that force who takes me swimming against the current
or at least has me grab a branch in this rushing river
rushing toward the waterfall of the familiar

cue my wisdom
who steady as the moon cycles light and pulls my tides
reminding me this morning
to do the thing I’ve been avoiding

this risk of unpleasantness
and fear of learning
(read: doing things badly)
cloaked in kindness
stealing through the night
blocking the moon

I want my breath back.

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Saturday afternoon physics lessons

I asked a question on Facebook months ago that was something to the effect of “Why is it we so avoid (over and over and over) doing the things we know are good for us? ” I got a few answers from friends and from myself – none of which rang the bell of that internal “yes” that builds our sense of world and understanding of ourselves.

The question came up again inside me today. It’s one of those lost-feeling, whirly weekend days. I had plans, they changed, so now what… kind of thing. It’s 2:30 in the afternoon and I’m still sitting around in my flannel pjs. I made a little food, talked to a friend on the phone, talked half-heartedly over possible plans for the day with Yossi but the talk dissolved into each of us getting lost doing our own thing. All of it leading me into that moment of choice I’ve been somewhat hyper-attuned to in myself lately – do I follow the momentum of my energy? Or make a choice of will to send my energy somewhere new?

Today the momentum was rolling down the hill toward what one may refer to as “wasting the day”. Curling up in the sun and napping. Watching a West Wing marathon. Eating comfort food. Avoiding the work and responsibilities that are at my door. Without any plans or urgency enough to force me out of it, I sit right in the middle of that moment watching the process of my decision-making, or lack thereof.

A variety of options come up, in the form of fortune-telling, where the ultimate aim is to end with me feeling good. I scroll through imaginations…

A. my afternoon disappears but I’m refreshed and nurtured by the downtime,

B. I follow my energy down its lazy path and land in a soup of dissatisfaction,

C. I pull myself up by the bootstraps and go create or do something enlivening.

I feel again how strong the pull is toward the familiar and the comfortable. I feel how the dissatisfaction with following it has steadily collected in my consciousness over time and I wonder if maybe today will be the day that the dissatisfaction is big enough to push the ball back up the hill – magically changing the pattern without me having to do anything hard.

And it occurs to me – this metaphor – the ball rolling down the hill – is based on simple physics. An object in motion stays in motion. I’m no physicist – I never particularly liked nor do I remember much of my last physics class 15 years ago, but it feels to me – here in my bones – that this physical principle of the universe is true of energy too. I feel how the patterns of my being are just energy – energy manifesting this very basic, and probably obvious physical phenomenon. Neural connections following their well worn path of least resistance, blood pumping to muscles that just like to do what they always do, my body alive with energy – all pulsing down the river of habituation that was first cut in the sand when I was but a wee tot. When it feels like pushing a boulder up a mountain just to decide not to eat the ice cream or turn of the TV, it really really is, just like that.

But we’ve been given this gift of will, that saves us from our robotic fate. Will is a tricky one for me – in that it wasn’t particularly nurtured or encouraged and now it’s harder for me to come by. Or more accurately, it requires a more convincing invitation than your average party goer. Once it’s there though, you can bet it’ll the life of the party. I do know that.

I don’t know who will make an appearance at the party today or how the evening will turn out. To be sure, I give my environment a leading role in the play – it distracts me from setting intentions of my own and carries with it its own momentum. Yossi pops in the Netflix and grabs potato chips – now there are two West Wings behind me and it’s almost 5. I’m still in my pajamas. We talk about going for a walk, he falls asleep and I start writing. Maybe the writing is enough. However it turns out, I’ll know more, and I suspect that’s the whole point.

The universe has a momentum too. And it carries with it the ultimate irony. I only have to glance at the stars to be relieved of any sense of significance I’ve given to my Saturday afternoon, or to my entire life. So why does it feel – in my heart of hearts – like stopping a ball from rolling down a hill is changing the whole world?


Filed under life, writing

The call to greatness

I saw my friend Ani Difranco again last night, in concert this time in Santa Rosa. And I indoctrinated Yossi, who it was a treat to share with, especially since he really liked her. Truly, as I watched I wondered how anyone couldn’t – if not appreciate her music, style or perspective, at least honor her presence on the stage and in the world. What a shining star.

I’ve seen Ani in concert for 15 years, and while it’s been a few since I saw her last, I was prepared for the familiar schizophrenic ongoing internal dialog that invariably accompanies the ticket price.

Audience member Lisa A: “Oh it’s the Becky song! Remember Beck, how you always sang that line “you are by far the cutest?”

Lisa B: “Yes. I was feeling the Texas of my heart today in the car. That’s it exactly.”

Lisa C is busy adding harmonies and riding the guitar picks like electrical surges.

Lisa D: “She is so obviously doing what she was meant to do. Wake up! It’s time for Lisa to be Lisa.”

Lisa E: “She’s existed in the world for a year more than me and has released 21? albums. What the fuck am I doing? Where has my creativity gone? Lisa, you have so much potential and you’re wasting your life. You’re still not even sure who you are. What distinguishes me from everyone else in this anonymous crowd? I hate crowds. We’re all hypocrite cattle, cheering at every cry for rebellion and independence while we’re all sitting here in the dark fantasizing to the tune of “I want her to see and love and validate ME!” If I met her tonight, what would I say? What is my offering? I bet she doesn’t watch TV.”

Ok, I suspect that audience member E. is actually a few voices, but I’ve lumped them together here for the purposes of recognizing that none of what they have to say is helpful. The simple act of going to a concert for me is a complex brew of enjoying the familiar, identifying with the artist, appreciating the music, being inspired, and then tumbling down the hill in comparisons, judgments and self-consciousness.

Fully aware of and prepared for this last night, I suited up for the show with all the resources I could muster after what had been already a long and challenging day. And I managed largely to hold the cruelest forms of “voices E” at bay. I focused on voice D instead. The voice being nourished by inspiration – the voice who in seeing Ani shine felt my own call to greatness. And I knew that true calls to greatness are not laced with barbs and they don’t get report cards. They happen of their own accord, in their own time, each with their own unique manifestation.

I don’t know what happens in everyone else. But I’ve seen and heard enough to believe that the call for greatness is a common if not universal experience. Greatness not being confused with fame or glory, though greatness often inspires followings, but greatness of embodied spirit. It’s a recognition, a flowering, an excavation of the divinity that has been inherent in our beings all along.

I feel the tingling of this inside myself many times a day. And then I see the 184,256 things that are in the way and if I don’t just drown in hopelessness right then and there, I get tripped up by #4 or #58 or #184,255. It takes a special kind of inspiration, or maybe more commonly a desperation, to plow all the way through, which is why I don’t see it much when I look around. But I’m attracted to people who I see making a go of it, and my spirit lifts immeasurably to be present for someone who just hit another six barriers but did it anyway. We see this a lot in people with life-threatening illnesses. People who are adequately nursed with an urgency to go beyond their habitual, self-imposed limitations. I’ve looked deeply at the invitation in more than one dark night of the soul – the stark choice – climb the impossible mountain or deny my life force and die inside.

And last night I recognized all those voices of stopping as being a barrier that keeps me from my greatness. And for some reason, whether inspired by Ani or just following my own evolution, I felt the urgency more profoundly than I ever have. And the urgency dramatically loosens the grip of fear and dread. The voices that normally stab me and sit me down transformed into little stings to brush off.

There is NO TIME TO WASTE. As Ani said in one of her songs last night “We’ve got ourselves a serious situation down here.” There is no time for self-pity and misery and stopping. Today I’ve been visited by at least 238 of the things I do and think that stop me and I haven’t had breakfast yet. But at this moment each one feels like a calling. Beckoning me to climb it, drop it, cut through it here and now because there’s a life I have to live.

It’s tempting to throw it all up in the air together and say I’m done and I’m starting over. I’ve attempted this before and it ends badly. My knowing is that each one of these things is something I have to look at in the face and say no to. One by one. I just have to trust it will all happen perfectly and drop me off in the middle of my greatness on the other side.

On to breakfast.


Filed under life, writing

Lisa’s Big Give

I don’t have TV, so I sometimes watch shows online the day after they air. Somehow I got sucked into the vortex of reality TV (kicking and screaming) and have been keeping up with Oprah’s Big Give.

As far as reality TV goes, it’s pretty standard in the whole “how can we create as much drama as possible” bit – the first and last 10 minutes of each episode being particularly appalling examples of our human potential, in my opinion. And still I get sucked in, poo-pooing all along but not turning it off.

They’ve mastered the art of alluring the ego in these shows. It’s “reality”, so they’re just like us – we can imagine we’re in the seat and go flying right along with all the emotional turbulence. And it works. For those of us (me) who watch movies and TV to step out of our skin for a while and vacation in the exciting world of somebody else, we feel every bump and triumph as keenly as if it were our own, while still having the luxury of a second seat in the judge’s box. I’ve noticed all these shows have both participants and watchers. There are the players on the journey, and there are the people watching the players and commenting all along the way on how they are doing.

It’s the quintessential metaphor of our cultural and egoic conditioning. The judges decide what’s acceptable, what’s better than, what wins and what goes home. And just in writing this – in really getting this – the compassion I have for myself is deepening. When I watch this stuff the judgment never feels good. This is what our culture does to us every time we step out the door. And we’ve been in a cultural immersion program since birth, so we don’t even have to walk out the door – we only have to breathe and we’re doing it to ourselves. I do it day in and day out – and I’m usually so in it I’m not even seeing it – which makes a lot of sense, seeing as how the show isn’t fun to watch even when it’s not me. I’m doing it right now.

In this particular show, the cultural repercussions are about subtle as a Vegas sign. From a nice diverse pool of 10 original participants, all but the three richest, prettiest and whitest have been shown the door. In this system you don’t have a chance if you’re not equipped with the right gear. And I spend so SO much time bemoaning the places where I’m not equipped. The many places where I wasn’t blessed with, or nurtured into the impossibly perfect form for brilliant physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual success in the particular place I happened to be born into.

As I write tonight, the judge watching me is taking the form of my teacher Cheri Huber, who is shaking her head and saying “I’ve been telling you this in a thousand different ways, in seven different books, and here you are writing this like it’s some big new discovery. And then writing it as if it’s yours!” I assure you that in my regular, daily reality Lisa show this most compassionate Buddhist teacher does say such things, and I unquestioningly believe – I get hurt and defensive, but walk off stage without hesitation, really thinking “she” is teaching me to be better than I am.

Tonight I’m writing anyway. It is mine to discover, and I’m doing it. And the resolution is like a salve. There’s more to reality TV than the participants and the judges – there’s us watching it. I’m turning it off.

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