Secrets of Great Sex #1

Where the hell does this shit come from?

Who the hell am I to write about or talk about or claim to practice this?  I haven’t had a sexual partner in several years – haven’t had intercourse in maybe 20.

Spirit was a little extra-rough on my sleep cycle just now.  She totally roused me out of bed – really gave me no choice about whether to get up.  Yesterday I had gotten up very early – after going to bed quite early.  I think I got going yesterday at about 12:30 in the morning.  About 8 p.m last night., when I got home from leading the Your Fearless Body regular weekly gathering (which had gone great and was very satisfying, even exciting), I was suddenly so overwhelmed with exhaustion that I didn’t fight it and went right to bed.

I knew, as I moved around in the dark this morning, that I had not slept a real long time – but I did basically expect, when I checked the clock, to see something like midnight.  Four hours sleep has become my usual drill – and, when the day starts this early, I always allow myself the option that sometime before the world starts to really get busy I will give myself a little “nap”, even if that is only comprised of laying quietly in the bed for an hour, decompressing from the intensity of being used by the Muse for several hours.

Before turning on a light or looking at the clock I spent a few minutes sitting on the can.  Among my earliest thoughts every morning, probably the most salient is “What am I going to write first this morning?”  unconscious-mindIt is my experience that – first thing out of the chute, when my brain has not gotten cluttered with lots of little details, when the creative unconscious is still more accessible – I am meant to tackle some beefy piece of writing, something that later I might find too intimidating to even approach.  Not to finish something I have half-done and already know where the rest of it is going.  No, something for which I basically have only the title and a few whispy free-associations in behind the few words of that title.  Something that will really challenge me to fully show up – and then leave me totally exhausted, used-up, when the excitement is all over.

I remembered that – right before tumbling into the bed at 8 p.m. – almost crippled with the chronic physical pain that especially descends on me when I don’t have great distraction…especially first thing in the morning when I haven’t gotten into anything, and last thing at night when I have let go of all pre-occupations – I had written just the title of a possible blog post in the middle of the top page of a mid-sized yellow legal pad.  I sometimes do this and then the next day have no idea of what those few words refer to – can remember nothing of the supporting text that would need to go in behind that title, no rough outline, no stories, nothing.  I wondered if that would be the case with this title – of which I so far had no memory.

Still before looking at the clock, I turned on a little light on my desk, wandered over to my standing desk (dresser), where the legal pad lay on top of my closed laptop.  Yesterday, before going to the Gathering, I had gotten so overwhelmed and exhausted trying to outline plans for my future (I had quit my “wonderful” job cashiering at Earth Fare that day – sheesh! what a day!) that I could not stay conscious working on the love seat with my dog next to me – so had moved to the standing desk, where I almost always can stay conscious at least for a while.  I had, as was usual, moved my resistant, sleepy little dog from the sofa in the living room to the bed in the bedroom – where I knew she would right away be more happy and content – because she loves the bed and because I was there.

radio alarm clock
For much of my life, I have had a kind of a tormented relationship with sleep.  Now it’s all pretty simple: I usually go to bed when I’m too tired to stay awake, regardless of the time of day.  Then, after two or four hours of sleep, I get up again.  Even after such a short bit of sleep, my chronic undiagnosed pain has usually so taken over my body that it takes truly heroic efforts to push past the pain – which seems to be aggravated by moving, but I know will be relieved by getting genuinely interested in most anything, but for me especially writing.  And I know that, for each extra two-hour sleep cycle I add, this process of getting going again becomes much harder.

The clock said ten p.m. – I had had exactly two hours sleep.

I feel so amazingly, unprecedentedly un-shy about writing – and then sharing openly – all the sexual stuff that I now (30 minutes later) have ended up sharing in this blog post.  I’m going totally public about sex! (And I promise that if you get with me I will absolutely take your identity to my grave :).)

I picked up the legal pad and couldn’t believe my eyes, which immediately got really big.  The tired scrawl on the little pad still was shockingly legible. It read “Secrets of Great Sex #1”.

Oh, Madden, you can’t write about this!  What the hell are you doing to yourself?!  book cover - 101 Nights of Great Sex

benedictines-nuns-habit-joy-dance-professions-studio-cut-out-woman-H3WC9G

Before you dare try to coach people about how to have great sex, you know you are going to have to do full disclosure about the fact that over the last many years you have mostly  become a kind of nun.  Then what kind of authority on sex are you going to be?

You have, without even acknowledging this to yourself – but now you know it – been kind of hoping that you could somehow tiptoe around this information and never come clean.” “Spirit told me to write and teach and do research on sex – to reclaim it as a wonderful and rich and innocent part of our lives.'”

That’s enough, right?  I don’t need to say any more than that – certainly not to acknowledge that for the last 20 years I have been celibate, aside from a pretty amazing part-time girlfriend in a far-away city, who I have been with only for three short visits in ten years – so disconnected from my normal life that I often forget to include her when I say that “I haven’t had sex in 20 years”.  When I catch myself in this slip, I always think and sometimes say out loud, “Oh, she would kill me.”

I have, actually, been asking myself lately how it could possibly be that Life seems to have assigned me this turf – along with power/aggression, an area about which I know even less.  I haven’t ever been a real Lothario – haven’t had hundreds of partners like that one famous basketball player (though my 30’s and 40’s had been pretty sexually active, containing probably 30 of the 45 or so partners I had once written down on paper – including a few memorable one-night stands).
Reclaiming the Body book cover

I mostly have never been super-athletic in bed, haven’t been able to go all night.  I actually had gotten pretty good at making my love-making last a long time, by slowing down or stopping altogether or even briefly pulling out when I feel myself close to coming – not by thinking about baseball, which guys have always been coached to do.  With a few very-memorable exceptions, I had never been especially creative or kinky in bed.  (I have always cherished those few memories.)

Louise (all sexual partner names changed) – who was still getting over a very painful end of a ten-year marriage – and I had many totally amazing experiences fucking and simultaneously looking deep in each other’s eyes, tenderly and passionately calling each other by name – calling the other person’s soul to come join the party.

(There was a long period when it seemed like my special mission was to women just coming off a marriage or other long-term relationship that had at least a disastrous ending – to help them find their way back to their natural emotional and sexual health. It was really gratifying to see how many women, like Louise, with whom I had “medium-term” relationships, immediately then went on to a really big relationship.)

Louise also provided her and me with great fun living out two of her long-standing sexual fantasies:

  1. Doing it in the back seat of a car. This was a first for me, too.  We were in the huge backseat of a ’59 Dodge that I had recently bought in 1990.  We were at a YMCA family camp in northern Wisconsin.  It’s Louise’s birthday, here on vacation – and playing out this fantasy is her one wish for her birthday.  The car is parked on a slight hill, the nose towards the very old cabin in which her son Ian, age 5, and my son Terry, age 10, are sleeping.In the heat of passion, when Louise has already been calling out all kinds of wonderful things, she calls out “John, this car is moving!”

    “I’m just rockin’ your world, baby.”

    “No – the car is moving!!”

    I pop up and look out the front window – and we are, sure enough, rolling down the hill towards the cabin.  I immediately dive over the front seat, naked butt in the air, to mash on the brake pedal with my hand – stopping the car a few feet from the fragile, poorly constructed, very old cabin.

    Killing my young son in the cabin this way would have been so hard to explain to his mother.

  2. Louise’s wish #2) Doing it on top, while playing “I’m so excited” by the Pointer Sisters. I don’t think this was a birthday wish – more kind of just a favor, since we had broken up a couple of months before.  It was a lot of fun for me – and a big kick for my roommate Debbie, who was listening to the whole thing through our very thin walls.

Pointer Sisters

There had been the one amazing girlfriend who had us act out that I was the psychotherapist and she the new therapy client.Vanilla-meet-Kinky-483x322

And then there was one of the best sexual affirmations, by the woman whose fairly generic personals ad I had responded to – only to have her confide to me, 20 minutes after I first arrived at her house, that she had spent the last ten years totally immersed in the BSDM dominance-and-submission “scene” and then gotten a little jaded with it – and wanted to see if “I could go back and start over where I left off ten years ago”.

Within another 20 minutes of sharing our sexual histories, we had gotten immersed in a really totally fabulous round of love-making – wild, passionate, even kind of (for two people who really absolutely did not know each other) genuinely affectionate and even loving.  When the dust had settled, she very genuinely said, “You do have amazing sexual energy” (words I have absolutely cherished and never forgotten).  But just as I was starting to get a big head – and some immediate stirrings of a shockingly-soon big cock – she followed this line-of-a-lifetime with, “but I just can’t go back to vanilla sex”.

But – even though I have been acknowledging to myself that my sexual resume isn’t all that impressive, I can marshall some evidence from the here and now that it was not just a clerical error that Spirit was sending me into this particular game:

  • I seem to be suddenly clear of all self-consciousness about my body.  Six months ago, I was very shy about my 73-year-old physique and avoided going to the beach – hating those last pictures of me in a bathing suit.  Now I apparently am totally loving my body.  hands in airWhen I, a couple of weeks ago, went to Susan Campbell’s Tuesday morning ecstatic dance, she had invited us to celebrate the week of Halloween by coming in a costume.  I pretty lamely had worn an argyle sweater and announced that I was “a college kid in the pre-hippie early 60’s” – which I actually had been, before enthusiastically jumping into the hippie revolution, which came a little late to my midwestern Catholic commuter college.I had actually proposed to Susan in a text the night before that I wanted to show up “wearing my birthday suit.” I knew even before saying this that it would not go over great with some of my friends at the dance – including the mostly not-hippie group of middle-aged folks. But I also knew that I really, really was liking this idea and knew that I was totally capable of doing it.  I even did not totally rule out the possibility that I would, at the last minute, totally strip and “make their day.”

    I did not end up fully stripping, but within just a few minutes of the dance beginning, I sure enough could not stop myself from enthusiastically ripping off my sweater, long-sleeved shirt and finally my short-sleeved shirt – all of which I dramatically launched to different corners of the dance floor.  I proceeded to have one of my most favorite dances in a long time – very excited to be so comfortably wearing and even showing off my simultaneously skinny (in the shoulders and chest – where you want some bulk) and flabby (in the belly, which you obviously would prefer flat) old man’s body.

    Attractive shirtless male model posing on the railway station.
    Me – at some point in my life, er…in my human lifetimes.

    There were even some big, full-length mirrors in one part of the room – and I visited them several times, to think thoughts like,

    “It’s a fine body, a perfect body – no great shakes and maybe not really esthetic or photogenic or a work of art.  It’s just another body – they’re pretty much all different.  How many of them are really great? really beautiful?  I mostly like it and am proud of it.  I’ll happily take it into anybody’s bed.”

     

  • I have been having all kinds of fabulous, thrilling, creative and kinky sexual fantasies.  I have been having self-induced orgasms that I surrender to so fully that I’m sure I am waking the neighbors – and think that being in my arms for such earth-shaking explosions would probably be a memory that any sexual partner would never forget.
  • I am these days sexually attracted to all manner of young and old people of various body types.  After really months of feeling very awkward about mounting a sexual campaign – or campaigning for sexual mounting – with only sexual partners of one gender , I have now thrown everything up in the air by saying, after 30 years of avoidance (never suppression), that I am bisexual, that everybody is now fair game for me. 
  • And, last night again, I ran over in my mind the images of several more women from my past who I knew that – even before this recent upswelling of very free personal sexuality – I had forever changed their sexual lives.  Not because of my “sexual prowess”, but because of my even-back-then genuinely powerful capacity to wed physical and emotional intimacy.
    • I had just attended a weekend men’s workshop where the facilitator advocated that, before beginning any new sexual relationship, we should basically interview our potential new partner about her sexual history – so we would know where the bodies were buried, where she had been wounded, and how we would be called on to support her sexual healing.The first potential new sexual partner with whom I implemented this advice was Joanne – and boy did she make me regret having done this!  Joanne spoke so easily and confidently, for about an hour – not really pausing or even lowering her voice when the waitress would come by to check on the progress of our drinks – of her extraordinary and over-achieving sexual past, that I was so intimidated by her that our first night together I had trouble getting hard.
      tell me your secrets - gene wilder
      When we broke up several months later, she was saying that she had “never  before me known how to be genuinely intimate in bed, how to drop performance and really get safe.
    • Donna, who at first was really intense and very speedy in bed, slowed down and got super-sensual.
    • Sally told me I had taught her how to breathe in bed – and, sexually experienced as she was, asked me if I was just exceptionally big…which I really wasn’t but apparently in bed had sold her that I was.

 

“Imagine my surprise…”

On November 3rd, Amy Steinberg – our wonderful-dynamic-exciting-musically-rocking new Jubilee minister, who we all knew before we interviewed her was a prominent lesbian leader back in California – was speaking from the pulpit on a Sunday. I do think it was in a moment of happy, enthused spontaneity rather than from a prepared script, that she said “When I saw Richard Gere and Debra Winger in ‘An Officer and Gentleman’ – that was the moment that I knew I was bisexual.”

Amy escited laughing - wild hair
Amy 

Three very exciting things happened for me at that moment:

  1. I got very excited that such a breathtakingly open and honest and vulnerable thing had just gotten said from the Jubilee pulpit: “Wow!  Pretty much anything could be fair game now.”
  2. Jubilee is such a relatively open, welcoming and even celebrating place for gayness.  But I knew that Amy’s naming of bisexuality would open even larger our freedom and maybe even conversation about sexual identity. 
  3. I thought, “I’m bisexual, too!”

I had actually known this for a long time.  Back in my early 40’s – for the first time I could remember in my young life at that time – I had started having sexual thoughts about men.  Usually real men I knew well and liked and admired a lot – mostly straight (as far as I knew), many of them married and (as far as I knew) monogamous with their wives.

I always felt completely accepting – and sometimes very hot – with these fantasies.  I never, that I could ever remember – felt guilty or ashamed or like I was doing something that was in any way “wrong” by having these thoughts and feelings and fantasies. I think that my sexual education as an adult – and lots of liberation work for all manner of oppressed groups, including gays, had freed me a lot. 

And my huge, 25-year commitment to Reevaluation Counseling peer co-counseling – a movement with a huge and consistent commitment to wedding your own personal liberation to the liberation of all oppressed people – had cleared me of a lot of my internal oppressive thought and feelings.  Being in a five-year co-counseling men’s group in which three of the eight guys were gay had helped a lot.  And taking Bill Firebaugh, such a sweet guy and so beloved in that group, up on his challenge to us straight guys to spend a night in his bed, cuddling but not being sexual.  I was glad I had done it, even though I never got real comfortable with it – much as I really did love Bill.

I must at least have considered, back then, the idea of acting on these thoughts/feelings /fantasies about men out in the world – though I have no memory of this thought process.  I do remember, however, deciding something like: “No, not in this lifetime.  The world is still too hard a place for gay people.  And I, who am kind of constantly just barely afloat with all my feelings and childhood trauma and intense ups and downs and life chaos, don’t need one more challenging and confusing thing in my life.  I will love and bless my gay friends, continue to work for social and sexual justice – but not go quite to the front lines on this issue, this time around.’

I think that it must be a better time in the world now for coming out than it was when many of you found the courage and integrity to do it – however many years ago.  When, in my early 20’s, I heard Holly Near – in a live concert in Rochester, NY – sing “Imagine My Surprise”, about her process of discovering that she was in love with a woman, I cried copious tears for the beauty and dignity and liberation of her story.  But it never once occurred to me, back then, that any of that story might someday have any personal relevance for my life.

Holly Near
Holly Near

I guess you, my gay friends, will have to tell me to what extent this post-Obama, highly toxic Trump America (or maybe even wider-world) is still feeling like a safer place for being gay than it used to be.  Certainly my little Asheville-Jubilee bubble feels to me like a place where my newly-claimed gayness will be mostly welcomed. Again, I’m sure you know more than I about the overt, subtle or even unconscious homophobia that remains in Asheville and certainly in Buncombe County.  Maybe I will start to freak out the next time I notice (or imagine) that someone is avoiding me, not making eye contact with me, not touching me as freely, etc.  

I don’t know to what extent, identifying myself as bisexual, people will also apply the concept and term of “gay” to me.  It certainly feels to me that I am “coming out” as “gay”.  I am openly acknowledging that I do now have – and have had for a long time – sexual fantasies about both gay and “straight” men.  I am publicly announcing that I am open to sexual contact with men. (Don’t all line up at once, guys.) This part of actually potentially acting on these thoughts/feelings/fantasies is going to be brand new to me.  

I have never in my life – that I consciously remember, there’s a lot in my college years that I don’t remember – had any overtly sexual contact with men. The really pretty funny guys in my fraternity – while also some of them were still overtly racist and homophobic – used to have fun singing, to the tune of Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night”,

“Fraters in the nude, exchanging glances – fraters in the nude, taking chances, we’d be sharing love before the night is through.”  

It was all in play, there was not an “out” gay guy in our fraternity, and probably one would never have been accepted, even to start pledging. But still, in its own way, singing that song did feel like a softening of the overall homophobic attitudes of our society in the 60’s – not the knee jerk anger at the idea of even thinking about that world. 

I so far feel mostly enthused and excited about this new identity (“thank you, Amy”).  I am aware of no guilt or shame. I no longer carry – at age 73 and so far removed from my childhood Catholic roots – any notion that this could be in any way “sinful”.  

My 44-year-old son Terry may go through some changes about my new – and public – identity.  I don’t know if he has any gay friends. He is really solid in his own straight identity, has a fabulous relationship with his wife and gorgeous young kids he dotes on.  He has, over many years, gotten progressively more relaxed with all the ways his dad is eccentric and even odd.  

When he was in his late teens, I arrived at his house in Louisville, KY from my then-home in Cincinnati Ohio – only 100 miles from him, rather than the 300 from Chicago. Although I did find a “good” job in my field of organization development before moving to Cincinnati from Chicago (it didn’t turn out to be such a great job), giving Terry more access to me in his crucial teen years was the real reason for the move. 

I had come to Louisville the night before, directly from a Halloween costume contra dance – for which my really good friend Shirley had had a blast “dressing me” in one of her really cute sundresses.  I arrived at Terry’s house looking normal, but for some reason felt inspired to show him my costume. When I came out of the bathroom in my dress, he did say, “I don’t really need to see this” – though he never actually seemed upset by it. 

I wore that dress a few more times for special occasions, including when I was performing – at Alecia’s 40th birthday party – a skit I had written about two of the couples at the party, in which the two husbands played themselves and I played both wives, switching back and forth between a blonde and a brunette wig.  

That was an absolute gas – and I always felt free and happy wearing that low-cut (with two rolled-up sweat socks pinned inside the chest) and short-skirt dress (I never did shave my legs to wear it).  Somehow that dress got lost somewhere and I have not yet gotten around to wearing the slinky little black number that I bought on consignment at Plato’s Closet and is still hanging in my closet.  I do know exactly where it is.  

At that original Halloween costume contra dance that unleashed all this energy, three other “straight” guys came dressed in drag, but each had left on himself prominent facial hair and danced the man’s role in the dances all night.  I shaved off my mustache and danced the women’s role all night. It was big fun to be spun into the arms of my next male partner, looking them flirtatiously in the eye and saying “Hey, big boy.”  (Their reactions to being presented with this package were often pretty funny – and all over the waterfront.)

A very sweet guy at one point took me aside and taught me how to really release myself into being spun, which was very thrilling.  A really nice young woman said to me early in the evening, “Honey, you need some lipstick” – and promptly took me into the lady’s room to apply it.  That made me feel more complete and like I had really arrived.  Over the next several days, I told several male and female friends that dressing and dancing like a woman had released me from some of my stuck “competent” and “strong” male conditioning – and that I had felt really free and had a lot of fun. 

I haven’t ever that I can remember – in the here and now – allowed myself to have immediate sexual feelings for a man.  It’s all been afterwards, in fantasy.

So, by posting this I may have just in some ways complicated my life.  Even in 2019 – but in the crazy, angry, oppressive Trump America – I may have opened myself up to some disapproval and prejudice, I guess maybe even some danger.  But my life – over so much of it, but especially the last five months (see my exciting and very risky new blog “Waking up”) – has been strongly characterized by more and more self-love and freedom.  I less and less give a shit about what anybody else thinks of me. But, even with all that liberation and truth-telling over the course of my adult life, I have just taken a huge step towards my own integrity and freedom.  I feel happy.

I imagine that some (or many) of you – maybe including my son – are just shaking your heads and thinking, “Finally!  I knew this about him a long time ago.”  Yes, I obviously have been a fucking slow learner.  But oh, well – even at 73, better even very late than never. 

And, friends – after all is said and done – please remember that now nobody is safe!

Love, 

Majo

 

Kazoos and bamboozlement

Today Cathryn Davis, amazing and charismatic long-distance Jubilee Minister of Movement, gave a fabulous guest sermon and told us how, at their social justice actions in Charleston, they all have kazoos – and when they are being heckled from the side with someone who is preaching against abortion or of the elegant beauty of MAGAmind – or some shit like that – they just surround the “person” (I will pace my profanity) with kazoos and drown them right out with a happy noise.

She gave us all kazoos and encouraged to right-away affix them to our keychains, so we are ready.

I wrote this that afternoon and immediately put it on the Jubilee Facebook page.  (Yes, I did.)  The first paragraph above captures some of what Cathryn was telling us.  The following paragraph is pure Majo.  I really wish that some of my kindness-Nazi light-chaser friends would see it, if only to really pull their chain.

“Cathryn –

“I’ve got my kazoo firmly attached to my keyring and am totally ready now for that asshole in the Meat Department at work. I was proud of myself yesterday for not just totally losing my shit on him – which I wanted to do so badly I could taste it – and just going toe-to-toe with him, looking him in the eye and saying “I’m not going to say anything to you!” But next time I will totally hit him with the kazoo. That will bamboozle the motherfucker.”

“Grounding like a lily pad…”

A couple of months ago, earlier in my process of getting used to being a mystic, I took some real satisfaction from trying to reassure people that I wasn’t manic by telling them how I was employing an ancient Tibetan meditation technique – which in Tibet they call “Grounding like a motherfucker.

I would proceed to describe how often I consciously plant and feel my feet on the ground, how when a customer going through my grocery line seems to not get my sense of humor or to not be in any way charmed by my little verbal patter – instead of getting my feelings hurt or irritated or judgmental with them, I instead thank them inside.  In much the same way that the great Vietnamese Buddhist Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh encourages people to thank a red traffic light for grounding us, for stopping our forward momentum and giving us a chance to breathe and drop back into oneness, beingness – in a similar way this customer is giving me a chance to slow down, breathe and not do anything but swipe groceries.  Chop Wood, Carry Water is a classic American Buddhist book.  Do one thing at a time.  Carry your tea with both hands, so you don’t try to do something else with the other hand.  “Thank you, Ms. Customer, for ignoring me – you just really helped me to, for a moment, stop ‘performing’ and come back to myself.”

My one real problem with GLMF (“Grounding like a motherfucker”) these days is not the “bad language”.  No my real problem with GLMF is that it makes it sound like I am doing it.  And, in fact, reassuring my friends, psychotherapist, psychiatrist, etc. that I was “working hard on staying grounded” was exactly what – at that stage in my evolution as a beginning mystic – I thought I needed to do.

These days I am much more likely to say something that perhaps does not reassure my psychiatric listener.  But I really do think that – except for my real good friend Tom Kilby, who I think found the GLMF formula mostly entertaining – that phrase was just a little too jocular to really reassure most people that I was appropriately serious about all this.

10516757-a-lily-pad-floating-in-a-pond-

At the end of last week, I was talking to the supervisor of the home health worker they assigned to me when I was discharged from the hospital over my foot infection – which still was not completely under control.  This supervisor was expressing her concern that, since I was reducing my bipolar medication (specifically, right now, Lithium – the “king of the mood stabilizers”), the “unreasonable happiness” (Michael Singer’s definition of enlightenment) I had been experiencing for several months was really mania.

I told her that I was reducing the meds only in consultation with my psychiatrist who knows me very well – and was doing it very gradually.  “My ‘waking up’ experience actually happened two months before I started to reduce my meds.  I have now been at that process of reducing the meds for three months – and am now off of two of my three drugs.  And, at the pace my shrink and I have set, I won’t be off of that last med, Lamictal, for another four months.”

Ellen told me she was very reassured that I was being “careful” about all this.  Out of integrity – which, with truth-telling, is so big for me these days – I told her, “Well, let me make you a little less comfortable.  Even a couple of weeks ago, I thought the issue for me was to strike a balance between ‘let ‘er rip’ at one end of the continuum and ‘leave it out’ – grounding – at the other end of the continuum.  

I said to her, “But I have reevaluated all of that.  The thing I want to do more than anything else (and have actually been doing like a motherfucker) is to surrender to Spirit.  The nature of surrender is that you either do it or you don’t.  You don’t surrender to Spirit 90% and then save the other 10% for reassuring people you aren’t out of control.  You – your ego – really are out of control!  That’s the beauty of all of this.  So my job is to let go, “let ‘er rip”, surrender.  Then, when I do that, Spirit – in addition to big-time supporting my new freedom and release and integrity-expressing improvisational interactions – automatically sends me cues to gear down when that is actually the more useful thing to do.”  feet on the ground

My experience is that, if I do my work of surrendering to Spirit, Spirit then very naturally grounds me when I need to be more grounded.  This often happens because of my deeply developed faculty of empathy.  As soon as I see a friend worried, scared, hurting or even especially serious, my inner pilot says “Something serious is maybe going on here.  We are going to drop the hilarity, the high energy, get serious and grounded – and see what is going on.”

When I walk through the store during my relatively short breaks, if I see a friend in the store (which happens many, many times a day) – no matter how much I like/love them and may wish to engage with them – if they don’t see me I ‘leave it out’ and keep going.  I again feel my feet on the floor, take a breath and think something like “You are so overstimulated from being constantly ‘on’ at the cash register.  If you don’t need to engage with this person, leave it out.  Keep going, get quiet, come back to Spirit.”

Some words are just so motherfucking beautiful!

It is just plain impossible to miss the linguistic expressiveness and versatility and value of the word “motherfucker” if you are at all in touch with the street language of black America.  The tragedy is that most of us white people really have become that separated from our black brothers and sisters – really do not know popular black culture, except for what we (might, if we choose) get from movies or rap music.

My apologies to my two beautiful white sisters who recently expressed their discomfort with me saying “I’m writing like a motherfucker” in my draft of a promotional piece for my blog.  I genuinely wanted to honor your worth as people and value to me a friend and gladly took that sentence out of my promo.  I thought the use of that expression would help to “weed out” the people who really will just not take to this blog, but maybe that promo piece is really more useful without it – I dunno.

(I did, ironically, substitute for that rougher sentence the more vanilla sentence “I am writing like crazy” – which I realized today is maybe not what I want to say when I am attempting to throw off the oppression of “mentally ill” labeling.  A couple of mental health folks are still maintaining that my current extraordinary creative output is probably a sign of “mania”, that I certainly could not have had a genuine “waking up” experience – which maybe is by definition psychotic – and that actually my bipolar disorder is probably really stronger than ever.)

With all due respect to any of my friends who hate it when I (so often these days) use the word motherfucker, being so uptight about that objectively wonderful word is really just so fucking white. canary

So much to learn from each other!

I wrote this last night to Amy Steinberg, new Jubilee minister and rock-funk goddess.  Then I realized I wanted to share it with more of y’all.

Amy escited laughing - wild hair
Amy Steinberg

 

I was walking through the Earth Fare cafe the other day, talking with a customer friend, when she said, “I think I have a lot to learn from you.” I didn’t miss a beat – it just popped out of my mouth so natural, totally without thinking or planning, “Everybody does.”

I stood back, a little shocked at myself (and yet really not). “What is happening to you?” But I really think it’s happening to all of us, some of us more consciously. We all have so much to learn from each other. I want to learn from you Amy – and from Elizabeth Likis

Elizabeth L
Elizabeth Likis: on your right, she is so not about herself – all of her Facebook pictures are with someone else.

and Amanda Levesque

amanda l
Amanda Levesque

and Brian Claflin Brian Cand everybody.

I want to learn from me. I want to learn from that inner voice, whispering things to me that I maybe never have quite thought out loud – but when they come out they look really familiar, like some part of me knew them all along.

I want to come home. I want to come home on Haywood St., jamming to “Infinite Soul Superhero” by Amy. I want to come home more every Sunday. I want all of you to be there when I come home.

I’m an “Infinite Soul Superhero”!

Sometimes I have little imaginary conversations in my head, for no reason that I quite understand.  This afternoon, as I was dancing down Haywood St. downtown, I pictured my good buddy Steve Swearingen asking me at church tomorrow how I’m doing.  In this little imaginary conversation, I say to him, “I’m living in a state of infinite bliss.”  Why be shy about it?  Why lie to him?  Holding it under a bushel will muffle the brightness of it even for me.  If Steve or anybody has been reading this blog, my secret is pretty well out by now.  

I wrote the post below as a Facebook personal message to Amy Steinberg, our new Jubilee minister, who I have met face-to-face all of once – when she was working the crowd before her Isis concert last week.  Most of the way through writing it to her, I realized that it was kind of stingy not to share that sweet moment – actually two sweet moments, the dancing down the street and the telling my dear one Amy about it.

Then, when I realized that I had shared it on the Jubilee Facebook page but not my own, I thought “Shit, turn it into a blog post and share that on Facebook.”  So here goes…

Jubilant friends – I wrote this note (a few minutes ago) first just for Amy, as a personal message on her Facebook page – expressing my gratitude for a couple of her songs, and for her. But part way through writing it, it started to feel selfish holding it just for her. I feel just a little shy telling everybody that I was dancing down Haywood St. today – you may think I am totally losing it, which if you have been reading my blog “Waking up” you already know that I totally am, in an amazingly wonderful way.

I am also, by sharing this note with whoever sees it here, outing myself about what a shameless Amy groupie I am. I adore that woman. She may not be “my Teacher”, but she is such a powerful teacher for me. My theme these days is “embodied Spirit”. The book I am working on is currently titled Reclaiming the Body – Sex and Power for a New Age. And Amy has got it all: embodiment, sexuality and power. I want to learn from her – and already am, big-time. I have only once ever so far hugged her or even been within a few feet of her. No difference. Maybe that’s all I can handle right now.

So there, I’m an Amy groupie – big-time. Letting go to her spell is almost right up there with the way I’m letting go to Spirit’s spell (it is actually clearly to me part of the same thing).

Majo

Amy –

In the warm afternoon sun today, I danced Pancho through her usual loop through the downtown, getting down with your wonderful songs “Get Up” (2x) and “Infinite Soul Superhero” (4x). I started with kind of minimal dance steps – stuff people wouldn’t notice me doing. But I knew that I was just kidding myself about nobody noticing – normal walking just doesn’t have the kind of flow that those two songs have.

As I walked up Haywood towards the Civic Center, I got bolder and bolder with my dance moves. I now knew it was totally obvious that I was dancing past Malaprop’s – and I didn’t care who noticed. I knew, on some level, that most people who saw me would be made happy by it – but that was so far away from my motivation that I really only thought it just now. I was dancing down Haywood to celebrate that I’m an Infinite Soul Superhero. I want to celebrate that I have a cosmic secret: people think I’m an ordinary human, but I actually have turned into a mystic.

But at the same time I was letting my secret totally out of the bag. I was letting us all know that Asheville is a place where people dance down the street – that this obviously old guy with a little chihuahua can do it, so we all can do it – anybody can do it.

By the time I passed the Civic Center doors towards 240, there were fewer and fewer people – though still lots of cars driving by – and I was holding back less and less. I was starting to really cut loose.

When I hit the top of the overpass on 240 – with all those cars going by below me – I just totally let it all go. I stayed in one place – right at the top of the bridge – and just danced. I threw my hands in the air! It was thrilling – I was totally happy. I was an Infinite Soul Superhero!

walk3
I have actually been kind of building up to this for a while….

Oh, Amy – I was gonna write this just for you. But as I relive the joy of getting freer and freer over the course of my dance and finally letting it all go, in the background a little voice has been saying “Let everyone know. Don’t hoard this just for you. Don’t worry that people will say, ‘Now Amy’s song is driving him to dance through the downtown – He’s turning into an Amy freak!'”

I am! I am an Amy freak! I love what you are doing for us! I love what you are doing for me! I don’t want to hide it! I am so thrilled, so grateful for you coming here to be with us.

I actually have danced down Haywood St. before you came to Asheville. But not as fully as I did today – and not dancing to an Amy song that has become my anthem – a funky dance tune about surrendering to Spirit.

I want all those people on Haywood St. – and all my Jubilee loved ones – to know that we can all do it. We don’t have to dance down the street downtown. But we can a little more let ourselves feel the power of Spirit working through us. We can a little bit more let our personality – all our old stuck patterns – just slide out of the way.

We can a little bit more feel the rhythm of Life, celebrate who we are, celebrate how connected everything is, celebrate how good Life is.

I think my own “waking up” happened before you came to us – June 26. But it’s a perfect time for me to be waking up, when the blood of Jubilee is stirring – when there is so much electric Life energy in that Celebration Room on Sundays.

It’s funny: when I am in that room for Sunday services, it both grounds the cosmic energy that has been buzzing through me kind of all the time – to be feeling it in the company of my community. And at the same time, it makes it all so intense that sometimes I can’t tolerate it all and have totally maxed out by the time we exchange the peace. I left at that point last week.

I’ve been promising myself all week that I would go back and watch the video from last week – and hear your message about “laying down weapons”. But I have been so inspired all week by my own writing that I almost never have been willing to be an “audience” for anything – I just want to keep (how’s this for a paradox) I want to keep letting Spirit have its way with me, use me for the writing it is pushing forward through me.

But I think that right now – 11:41 on Saturday night – as I begin to ramp up to all the newfound excitement of Sunday mornings, is the perfect time to settle in, with my little Panchita next to me, and watch the wonderful video.

See you – and all of you – in just a few hours!

*Find “Infinite Soul Superhero” here on Amy Steinberg’s album Shine- Be Glorious.

Spiritual emergence

The purpose of having a human life, according most traditional societies, is to learn about what it means to be human.

We humans occupy a middle ground between unthinking bodies and the world of spirit.  We have undergone the trauma of being shoved into a human body – which looks and thinks like it is separate from all the other physical objects, including other human bodies, in the universe…with a sensory apparatus that confirms the delusion of separation.

Our task is to clamber back to the awareness of cosmic oneness – and preferably, if you follow the “embodied” or low road to spiritual evolution (which I do), to bring your body along with you as you progressively re-enter the world of spirit.  Psychospiritual disciplines from massage to primal scream therapy to kundalini yoga and tantric sex – and some forms of meditation – all aim to reunite the body with its spiritual essence.

Stanislav Grof, the great, ground-breaking transpersonal psychologist, talks about spiritual evolution: the “true Self” pushes to break through the crusty soil of the human body and ego to re-unite itself with spiritual essence.  This is the “one true path”, but is mostly not understood in modern materialistic societies.  The person – who is bewildered by the information breaking through from the cosmic unconscious, has no models for what he or she is experiencing, no markers for what to expect, and no role-models or teachers or shamans to guide them along.

This natural “emergent” state of high energy – of spirit emerging from the physical body – can get rougher and rougher, can look pretty untogether.  The person may need significantly less sleep and food – which can unnerve the people around them.  They may get very big, very expressive.  As they get progressively more direction from the world of Spirit (their Inner Pilot, their Self), they may get progressively less concerned with societal or organizational norms, less impressed by rules.  They may become impervious to the disapproval of others.  They may “fit in” less well at work. They may dance down city streets.

This exact behavior got my “soul friend” Diana, as a budding teen mystic, arrested, put in handcuffs in the back of a police car and – when she resisted – shot up with something that did not wear off for three days, until she woke up in front of a psychiatry class that had been given the task of coming up with the right diagnosis for her.  Many of them were laughing at her as she came to.

Mona Lisa
My “soul friend” Diana Buchanan – one of the most amazing and beautiful “survivor” souls I have met. Read about our friendship here.

Thus began a forty year (and counting) relationship with a very socially powerful psychiatric establishment – in the face of which this innocent indigenous peasant girl accepted their labels (which changed over the years) and their powerful psychiatric drugs (which also changed a lot, because all honest psychiatrists admit that they really have no idea which drug is going to help which person and that it is all trial and error).

And each new psychiatrist has their personal preferences, so part of the experience of a “mental patient” is to have their biochemistry violently jerked around by changes in medication.  It is almost standard that inpatient psychiatrists – who fancy themselves the “real experts around mental illness” – take the patient off of all the drugs that their body had more-or-less gotten used to and put them on something altogether new, sometimes two or more changes in the course of a one or two week hospitalization.

This is what happened to me during my most recent (last Spring) hospitalization, when I totally lost track of all the meds that had been tried on me.  At my discharge, I thought there had been one major change – but my inpatient psychiatrist, who lamented that “we tried everything we could think of” – to no avail, told me of several drugs that had been used on me, of which I had no memory.  Along the way, I had no memory of my friend Amanda visiting me for an hour – or of whole days in those two weeks.  He very genuinely apologized (a refreshing anomaly for his profession) that over two weeks nothing had helped – and that I was clearly leaving in almost as bad shape as I arrived.

They were letting me go just because they really believed that they couldn’t help me, because I was every day hating it more to be there – and because I promised them I would be “safe” if I went home.  I was very consciously and intentionally lying to him.  I felt pretty sure that I would within a few days – or maybe a week or two – follow through on my original plan to kill myself.

In so many societies, the person who is experiencing the “heightening” of this re-emergent state – heightened energy, aliveness, expressiveness, happiness, powerful affect and spiritual connection with all of life – is viewed as sacred, crucial to the overall health of the tribe…and sheltered from the onslaughts of daily, dualistic life until they have a chance to integrate all that is going on inside of them.

In our society, this “heightened” state – not understood and not supported – can get more and more ragged, with the person not looking good, not thinking as clearly, maybe not functioning at work.  Western medicine, which is all about “being normal” and “functioning well”, is likely to diagnose the person as “manic” or even “psychotic” – and hit them up with powerful drugs that make it impossible for them to function at all, much less integrate all the powerful and confusing forces at work within them.

My dear and very close friend Tom Kilby –

Tom and Pancho 2
Tom and my Panchita

who at one point lived with me for three years – recently said to me, “I know you manic – and this is not that.  I’ve been reading your blog and am inclined to believe that you have got it right – that you actually are going through an experience of ‘waking up’.  My biggest fear about this comes from watching the experience of another friend who I likewise thought was genuinely having a big spiritual transformation.  What happened for him was that he then came to the conclusion that he actually was God.  He became totally psychotic.  I don’t yet see any sign of this with you, but fear you will go the same way.”

Kim Bella, the clinical psychologist/director of Asheville’s Center for Spiritual Emergence – which provides psychological and drug abuse “treatment” through the lens of “spiritual emergence” and “emergency” – floored me, when I told her of my friend’s concerns, by saying “We’re not intimidated by psychosis around here. It comes with the territory that, when a person is suddenly flooded with all this power and energy and awareness and cosmic connection and powerful emotion, that they would sometimes get confused about the source of all this: is it coming from Spirit, from God – a possibility for which none of their education, spiritual or otherwise, has prepared them? 

Or is this experience- since the ego has been telling us our whole lives that it is all about us –  also somehow all about me? If I feel the power and oneness of God flowing through me, then maybe that means that I am God.  To psychiatry, this is the worst thing that could happen – the dreaded ‘psychosis’, the king of mental illnesses, the proof that the ego has always been fatally flawed, and probably unfixable.”  To Kim Bella, this is a natural and understandable confusion – a misperception that can be pretty reliably rectified with enough support, safety, reassurance and spiritually-oriented coaching and counseling.  Someone who understands what is going on and isn’t afraid of it.

I never sang for my father: I feel everything!

I had been married about two years.  My wife and I were sitting near the back of a darkened theater, watching the 1970 movie “I Never Sang for My Father”.  The movie explored the relationship between a man just a little older than my 23 years with his aging father, who haunted his here-and-now romantic relationships.  While the story offered some hope, showing the man make some headway in a big relationship, at the ending it did not soft-soap the fact he was still haunted.  The last line of the movie was something like, “To this day, the word ‘father’ causes my blood to run cold.”never sang

The movie ended, the houselights came on, and people started moving into the aisles.  And I sat there, absolutely frozen – tears rolling down my cheeks.  This was a very big deal.  In those days, I did not cry.  I had not shed a tear since seventh grade – when I think I had had the wind knocked out of me in a football game and shed a few tears.

My wife and I were both alarmed.  What did this mean? What were we to do?  I knew that I had been engrossed by the movie, but not once – until that last line was uttered – had I thought about my father or that any of the content of the movie might have relevance for my life.  Now my father and my non-relationship with him were sitting on my chest: I could not breathe, and I was crying.  I was panicked.

And I knew at the same time that this was important.  I was in my first year of clinical psychology graduate school and if I had learned anything it was that feelings were important – even if, in that clinical worldview, feelings were also frequently suspect and to be analyzed.  I wanted desperately to keep feeling these feelings that I was feeling in that moment, but not in that situation – with the now-glaring houselights on and people filing past the row where I sat there helpless.  Any of them might notice my tears – and I would feel humiliated.

“Let’s get out of here” I said to my wife.  I wanted to hold on to this thread that might lead back to some aliveness in my relatively cold and empty relationship with my feelings.  Maybe if we got back out to the darkened street I could keep this spark alive.

We got out to the street, but that spark of aliveness was already slipping away.  Maybe this was still too public, too exposed.  “Let’s get to our car.”  But by the time we got into the relative privacy of our car, the moment had passed.  The tears – and the sudden, unexpected, sharp stab of emotional pain…of deep sadness and loss that had provoked them were gone.  This sudden glimpse of a whole, vivid emotional world that I hadn’t realized was still there had passed – and I didn’t know if this was perhaps a one-off.  Perhaps I would never find my way back to that doorway.

But I wanted to find my way back.  Besides the professional psychotherapy which we were just beginning to learn about in our Ph.D. clinical psychology classes, I had been learning about a much more wild-and-unruly, radically peer-oriented approach to the exploration of feelings.  Bob Pierce, one of the supervisors in this program’s clinical placements – way more hands-on and experiential than our somewhat cold and analytical graduate school faculty – was a big admirer of a non-degreed personal growth facilitator named Harvey Jackson.Harvey Jackins 2

Harvey had developed this peer-counseling approach called Re-evaluation Counseling that led to “emotional discharge”, in which non-professional people would learn how to help each other reclaim their feelings in a kind of radically strong, deep way.  Periodically, Harvey would come through Rochester, NY, to lead a workshop in the “Re-evaluation Counseling Community” – in which “professionals” and budding professionals like myself were welcome, but slightly suspect and definitely held no greater respect than regular people who were developing their counseling chops on the street.Human Side

Every time Harvey was in Rochester, Bob would bring him to the Rochester University teaching hospital for a one-day workshop on counseling skills – where psychologists and trainees like myself would be shocked, horrified, amazed and inspired by Harvey’s brilliance (he would say this “brilliance” was only developed skill from thousands of hours of developing and practicing this approach to emotional discharge) as he would take student therapy volunteers right to the heart of their emotions – which they would “discharge”…release in explosive or very deep ways.

When I came back home from my powerfully revelatory movie, I sought out this local “counseling community” and began a laborious process of reclaiming my feelings.  I would pound on pillows, yell loudly, or be held by a peer co-counselor as I attempted to feel my feelings.  And little by little they came.  Some tears started to leak out again, as they had at the movies – but this time intentionally welcomed instead of shockingly unbidden.

These feelings that started to emerge in a genuinely emotional way felt a little threatening at first: I had no idea how to manage them and feared they might take me over.  But, in fact, I began to learn that my emotional life had a wisdom of its own – and I still had very powerful defenses against it – so my feelings would only bubble up in manageable packets that little by little started to add some color to my grey emotional life.  The first time that – pounding on pillows – I went from a rote exercise to the eruption of powerful, red-hot anger, this similarly threatened my illusion of “emotional stability”.  Was there any bottom to this emotional power?  Again, I little by little learned to both respect and trust this return of my feelings – it never seemed to take me over.

Feeling my feelings became, over time, a natural part of my life – tremendously enriching and satisfying.  I was learning, once again, to live within my own human skin – my body, rather than just my head.  The content that at first led me into this emotional world was my relationship with my father.  I truly had never sang for my father – my father who never sang for his father and so on for many generations back.  These Irish-Catholic men were hard workers and hard drinkers, who carried loads of emotional guilt, and never felt any feelings when they were sober.  My father was an exceptionally remote, self-contained man who slid way into his very private world of alcohol, was awkward with children and never really connected with his own two sons.  I had a much more bright, extroverted personal style, never (aside from my wild college years of temporary “alcoholism” that no one ever attempted to diagnose as a real “problem”) seemed to develop the Irish “Curse” of alcoholism – but did inherit the curse of being not able to feel my feelings.  Until now, at age 23.

In my early 40’s, a whole other – much more ominous – layer of my emotional life emerged.  This bright guy, who was frequently described as “enthusiastic” and only occasionally as “too intense”, started – over the top of powerful emotional resistance – to to have dreams of childhood sex abuse that began symbolic, indirect and relatively detached and then become progressively more progressively more vivid, horrific and terrifying.  My practice of Re-evaluation Counseling, which I had stayed immersed in for those 20 years – in lieu of ever getting professional therapy – had no apparent capacity to manage the terrifying onslaught of dark, menacing, overwhelming, despairing emotion.  I felt an entirely new kind of helplessness and hopelessness, I could nowhere near control the raw, powerful pain that was taking me over – and my life started to fall apart.  I tried sex abuse support groups and, when those didn’t help, finally got professional therapy from a male clinical psychologist who specialized in men with this history.

This post is getting pretty long – and, this is the unfinished state that I find it in today – not having looked at it for at least a couple of months.  I’m going to just go ahead and post it – and trust that the rest of this story will get told in other places in the blog.  

I wish I could add to this post pictures of me as a young man, but – after many years of the emotional chaos of “mental illness” and many, many moves – I have preserved essentially no belongings from the earlier parts of my life.  This includes, very sadly, essentially no old pictures.

Jmm- straightarrow
This may be 20 years ago – and may be the oldest picture I have.

Ten years ago, as I was preparing for a “move to Mexico” that never happened, I sent a whole lot of old photos and documents to my brother Terry in Chicago – for “safekeeping” in his garage.  Years later, when Terry’s widow Lesia and I were looking through the garage, it was jam-packed with his daughter Alana’s stuff, but we could find nothing of mine.  

Living in the world of Spirit

For over 30 years now, the shrinks and even some of my psychotherapists have been telling me that my “up” moods are “mania” and my “down” moods are “depression” – both equally toxic and pathological, both “symptoms” of a “disease” that they called “bipolar disorder”.  When they put that name on me, they thought they had mastered something – had proven themselves experts, even though they had no idea what caused it or how it worked, had accomplished nothing except to invent some words to label behaviors but add no understanding to them.

What they had really accomplished was to wreak powerful damage on me by giving me a label, a diagnosis – a pathological lens through which to look at myself, my emotions, my behaviors.  I had never quite realized how truly damaged I was until they pointed it out to me.  I had to get over the idea of trusting myself, my feelings – because I actually had a disease that I certainly had no idea how to “manage” or “treat”, much less cure.  No more relying on my natural process of emotional release to heal what hurt me – extreme emotions were certainly signs of mania or depression.  No, now the Holy Grail became not aliveness, but “mood stability” – and they backed that up by giving me anti-seizure medications that they thought maybe made my brain more stable (as in, maybe, stuck or frozen or anesthetized or paralyzed).

I on-and-off fought the toxicity of calling myself “manic” or “depressed” by coining my own terms for those states.  At least I don’t remember getting these terms from anybody else – but they are so intuitively obvious that I gotta believe other people have been using them.storm and bright tree

My “up” state became not “mania” but expansion.  I get big – I fill the available space.  I feel in contact with everybody and all of life.  I am happy.  I like myself.  I feel the full breadth of emotions – not worrying about whether any of these feelings are “healthy” or “functional” or “appropriate”.  Somewhere along the way, someone had told me that feelings aren’t good or bad – they just are.  But if you are not deciding what’s right or wrong, good or bad, healthy or pathological, what kind of an expert are you?

My “down” state became not the pathological world of “depression”, but the simply painful world of contraction.  Sometimes an awful lot of pain, but maybe it doesn’t mean anything beyond contracted pain – maybe it is not a symptom of some underlying disease.  Maybe we don’t have to invent some story about it at all – maybe it just is.  Most psychiatrists were never trained in research, but my psychologist’s research training wants to coach me to “stay with the data – don’t stray far from the data”.pain 1

This contraction can actually be extremely painful.  It can feel like every cell is in a vice.  It may feel like every movement intensifies the pain.  In this state, I want only to be unconscious – to get really still and hope that I will either (preferably) go back to sleep or get so quiet that I feel nothing.

Ah, there’s an aspiration – to feel nothing.  And the more I stay in bed trying to get quiet, the more dense and contracted my body becomes – the more the life essence gets squeezed out of me, until sometimes it seems like there is nothing left in life but unremitting pain, and I become preoccupied with how to end the pain, even if that requires also ending the life.

No one ever said “Don’t collapse into the dense, contracted, stiff, frozen, numb world of the uninspired body (body-minus-spirit) – that way is death.  Come back to Life – come back to the world of Spirit.  Move.  Push through the pain to the aliveness on the other side.  Don’t go back to bed – you will only anesthetize yourself.  The longer you sleep, the more encased in death you become.”

I tend to wake up almost exactly every two hours, needing to pee.  At my first two-hour increment, getting out of bed is painful.  I have to push myself to walk to the bathroom – walking is a struggle.  But if I choose to get up and get busy at this point, it’s not too hard to push through the pain and get to my computer, writing happily.  If, after 2-4 hours, I am falling asleep again, I return to bed for a couple of hours before starting the day.
cultivating creative aliveness
At the four-hour point, I have sunk farther into the pain-body and everything is harder.  My old fearful voice says “Go back to bed.  Get real quiet.  Get under the radar. You can get up at the 6-hour mark.”  But I know from very hard experience that at the six-hour mark the pain will have sunk in so deep that I really do tend to believe that the “depression” has come back – that all of the good feelings have actually been mania and the truth is that I am sick, basically hopelessly fucked.

At the four-hour point this morning, I wanted so desperately to go back to bed.  But that voice came right up against a voice saying, “If you go back to bed now, then when you do get up you will have to go straight into your work day and you will do it from a place of pain, of unconsciousness, of fear.  You will spend your whole day in a survival mode.

“Get up now!  Rise!  Shine, be glorious!radically alive If you need to do this first, stand under the hot shower for as long as you need.  You know from many experiences now that by the time you get out of the shower you will throw on your robe and – even before shaving – go to your laptop or phone voice recorder app and start capturing all the exciting thoughts you are having.  If you get up now, you will have time to dance – to cue up Amy Steinberg on Pandora, your favorite music now, let your Spirit infuse your body and fly free.

“If you give yourself some time in the world of Spirit before you go back into battle – out there in the world of performance and survival, where it is so hard to stay connected to Spirit – you will have a fighting chance to bring some Spirit, some connection, some love along with you.  If you write and dance, you will have inspiration on your side and your body will not be that torporous, pain-body but a lighter, freer body that may just throw some dance moves into your day.”

So today I chose the world of Spirit over the world of pain and death.  I had a lot of fun, laughed a lot, played and teased with my customers – and yes, did dance a little behind my cash register, when I heard a good song through the overhead speaker.  dolphin jumping

Are you going to call this joy, this aliveness “mania” because i didn’t have as much sleep as you think I should need?  Do you think that your fearfulness is somehow supportive or helpful to me? To take this beautiful experience – so full of life and love – and give it a stigmatizing mental illness diagnosis would be so cruel, so destructive as to seem actively malicious.  What are you so afraid of?  Are you jealous?