Hugs 101

Don’t always want a hug?  Me neither.  A hug needs to be a choice every time.  If you are always up for one, I would encourage you to start checking with yourself first.  Pause long enough to ask yourself, “Do I really want a hug right now?” and  “Do I really want to hug this person?” 

You don’t have to tell them that it really is personal – that you specifically don’t want to hug them – but there are so many reasons that might be true, some of which may actually have something to do with them, but some of which do not…and often it’s hard for us tell which is which.  You also don’t need to lie and say it’s not personal – when maybe it is – you can just say that you don’t want a hug right now.  Or give the universal “Namaste over there” bow.

“Namaste over there.”

Guys, especially: Never “take” a hug from a woman – offer one.  Open your arms and plant your feet and let her come to you.  If she doesn’t, hold out your hand for a handshake – or up for a high-five.  Then don’t take it personal – and go get another hug. 

offering a hug
Don’t “take” a hug – offer one.

We will have structured practice of hugging at some Thursday night meetings (6:30-8 downtown – click this link) – and free-form during the informal visiting times before and after each Gathering.

Kinds of hugs

There is obviously no one formula for a hug.  Every hug is different.  You can have:

  • frontal hugs2 women
  • sideways hugs
  • hugs around the back
  • hugs around the neck
  • pat-the-back hugs
  • A-frame hugs – shoulders only touch

    A-frame hug
    “A-frame” hug.  Naughty bits stay safely far apart.
  • half-way hugs – half-way between A-frame and pelvic connection.  Your basic standard hug.
  • pelvis to pelvis or thigh to thigh hugs
  • super-fast hugs – when you need to be somewhere, but still want a moment of connectionbro hug
  • kind of fast hugs – not quite as fast as super-fast hugs, but you are not at liberty to really settle in
  • settle-in hugs – really be with each other, relax, let down, come home
  • long enough to notice it hugs.  Harvey Jackson (founder of Reevaluation Counseling) used to encourage people to hug for three minutes – long enough to get past the anxiety, mental chatter and self-consciousness – and to really notice that it is happening.
  • sensual hugs – really feel your human body and your connection to another human body

    hugs 1
    We all owe it to ourselves to get real versed in the difference between “sensual” and “sexual” – even as they may sometime flow back and forth into each other.
  • sexual hugs
    • curiosity – wow, what’s that feeling?  Is it ok to feel it?  What if I were to let go of the judgments and just notice what is happening?
    • kundalini hugs – hold the sexual charge, enjoy it, breathe into it, let it make you come totally alive.  Let it simmer or let it build if it naturally wants to.  Don’t try to do or feel anything or to make anything happen. (This is where it could get creepy.) Just breathe and enjoy.kundalini2
    • whatever hugs – following whatever happens wherever it goes.


How to hug

What follows is not a prescription – it’s an outline for an experiment.  It’s a cheat-sheet to get you past the anxiety, self-consciousness and old trauma that come up when we approach or settle into a hug:

  1. Check with yourself first – do I really want to hug (today?  with this person?)
    1. never give a hug you really don’t want to give – it hurts you physically and emotionally.
    2. that being said, it’s OK to step out of your comfort zone.
  2. Get an agreement with your hug partner.
    1. “Would you like a hug?”
    2. “Would a hug be helpful to you right now?”
    3. “Is it alright if I hug you?”offer a hug 2
  3. Make eye contact – the longer the better.
    This is the next level of agreement – getting it on a non-verbal level that we both want this.
    If you get so into the eye contact that you never get around to actually hugging, that could be awesome.

    1. see the person inside the body
    2. silently greet each other
    3. be grateful that you get to be this close to this wonderful person
    4. smile at them
  4. Move in slow
    1. don’t “take” or “grab” a hug.
    2. you are entering each other’s space – respect that, don’t take it lightly.
    3. slowly discover where your bodies want to connect with each other
      1. notice if this is going to be an A-frame hug.
        1. If so, don’t try to make it be anything else.  You don’t need to stay long – and you can go on to another, better hug.
        2. If this person is going to be in your life, you may decide that this is not really something they want – or maybe that you don’t want it.
        3. Or, if you get any sense at all that they kinda actually do want this, you could say to yourself, “Maybe they’re just scared or shy or self-conscious.”  You might decide to give it a chance – to try it at least one more time.  If it’s not actually physically or emotionally painful or traumatic for either of you, then it’s probably not a waste of time.  It might be healing on some levels you aren’t aware of.  And it might shift over time.
  5. Settle in
    1. breathe
    2. feel your hands on their back and their hands on your back
    3. experiment with different positioning of your hands, from up around the shoulders to down around the hips (usually more satisfying, but also more potentially threatening – pay attention to whether your partner tightens up or stops breathing).
    4. adjust your bodies to better fit or connect with each other
      1. does it work to align your bodies so that pelvises and/or thighs connect?
        1. is this threatening to one or both of you?
        2. as with the positions of the hands, observe if one or both of you
          1. tightens up or
          2. stops breathing
        3. you may need to go back a step
          1. or just stay in that spot until the trauma,’shyness, etc. melts and your bodies are OK with each other again.
    5. if you start to have a sexual response: if a man’s dick gets hard or a woman’s pussy gets wet
      1. ask yourself, “Is this OK with me?” and be prepared to live with the answer – which could be
        1. “I want it to be OK with me, but it’s not.” Don’t attempt to try to power your way through the resistance – it will make everything get warped.  Back off and – if you want – make a commitment to yourself that you will do some inner or outer (maybe with a more familiar, safer partner) to ascertain where this resistance is coming from, and how you might melt it.
        2. “I don’t approve of this, but it is making me hot.” The body doesn’t lie.  The truth is that I am actually hot.  Now is it possible for me to let go of my judgments, to get curious – kind of soft and receptive – and learn about the “hot” response:
          1. where in my body to I feel it?
            1. is it all over or localized?
            2. is it overwhelming or am I simply curious about it?
        3. I surrender to the orgasmic experience of it all.
    6. After the hug – eye contact
      1. Maybe my biggest hug gripe is when a person who you just hugged – even if it was a totally chaste, non-sensual hug – doesn’t look at you after!
        1. “Uh-oh!  What did we just do?  Maybe it was something bad.”
      2. Feast your eyes on each other!  You just shared some intimacy with each other!  Say “Thank you” with your eyes!  Let the person know that your connection is not gone away because the hug is over.  Even if you never hug again, when you see each other you can remember this moment.  Maybe you will wink at each other – or smile and give a little inner wink.  “We were connected in that moment – and we are still connected.”

How can I write of transformation?


Back in the Spring, Lynn Rosser asked me to write a poem for the Singers spring concert. I was honored – and asked her about the theme. She told me that it was, “Transformation – Awakening to the New Consciousness for Our Time”. I said, “Cool” – then went away and realized that I didn’t have anything to say about transformation, or about consciousness, old or new. So I got back to Lynn and said that, for me, the theme for the concert and the song list were just a little too relentlessly upbeat – and that I would need to contribute something that would be more “grounding”. Lynn had the intuitive wisdom to not immediately warm to this idea: “Uh, OK.” Then I went home and proceeded to completely act out: I wrote the darkest poem I could possibly write – and had a total blast doing so. Needless to say, you did not hear that poem at the concert. I think Lynn might still find it horrifying, but I still kinda like it. It’s called “How Can I Write of Transformation?”


How can I write of transformation
When I am so angry?
How can I speak of
My better angels
When today the demons run the show?

By beating me into submission
By a thousand humiliations
Has lowered the bar for me
So many times
And still I can’t help but to
Keep going under

How can I speak of expansion,
Of transcendence
When I am so contracted,
So depressed?

I want to expand within, not without
To go to the dark heart
Of that black hole within
Which is not just mine
But a human thing

How can I speak of my higher self
When I have just screwed up again
And hurt you as I did?
And then you told me how that still somehow worked for you
The sweet thing that for you happened next

May I screw up in all the just-right ways
If I must be an ass
Make me Life’s holy ass
Let others ride on my mistakes
To where they need to go

Lord, help us –
Make me an instrument
Make me an instrument of your divine chaos
Let me surrender any claim
To be evolved, to be further down the path

Make me Life’s great
Role model from hell
If others may not want to be like me,
Then let my screwed-up example
Make them want to be
More and more like them.

“If even he can keep moving,
Can put one foot in front of the other
And trust that they will take him somewhere
Then so can I”

I want to lead the troops
Deeper into the swamp
Than man or woman has ever gone
And trust that somewhere
In this gooey, putrid mess
There lies an orchid
A magic jewel that transforms
The mud in which we are encased
Into the heavenly armor that allows us
To fight our way to the gates of hell
Crash through
And be burned alive
Into the phoenix we were meant to be

If my road must be the low one
Then let me not settle for just
Both feet on the ground
Life, make your drill bit
To the center of the earth

It may hurt like hell going down
But I want to see what’s there

Spiritual Emergence Support Group – Mondays, 6-7 p.m.

All of us are in some stage of “spiritual emergence” – the deeper, truer self is somewhere in the process of waking up or attempting to push its way through into our consciousness and then our life.

When this process is on track, Stanislav Grof 2-mluvci_500x380_Grofcalls it “spiritual emergence”.  However, this process is so poorly supported in our culture and our personal lives that this wonderful, beautiful Life-affirming experience can run into trouble and start to not look so great.  We develop physical and emotional symptoms.  All this just kind of comes with the territory when you live in a culture that does not know how to support – or even deal with or even recognize the reality of “spiritual emergence” or (hey, guess what?) “waking up”.stormy search for self

The Center for Spiritual Emergence is an Asheville-based group devoted to supporting this process.  They offer a free support group every Monday night from 6-7 p.m., followed by an optional yoga class.  Margaret KirschnerMargaret Kirschner is a lovely person and very skilled facilitator who leads the meetings.

I have so far gone to the three first meetings, intend to go every week that I can – and am bringing more friends each week.  Please come!  Partly because of the nature of who is drawn to this kind of meeting – and partly because of the content (sharing with other about out process of “waking up”) – these meetings tend to be very lovely and I always have left in a very good mood.

If you come, you will probably get to meet my uber-sweet doggie, Panchita,FB profile 4-19 who comes with me every week and is becoming the kind of mascot of the group.

Here’s what Margaret has to say about these meetings:

Some people develop dependency on alcohol, drugs or other addictive substances or behaviors during a spiritual emergence. A spiritual emergence can sometimes lead to a spiritual emergency, especially if it is not well-understood and the substance use becomes a person’s way to self medicate during an intense period.

Although suppression of pain, pressure and inner chaos is sometimes necessary, the frequent and continual suppression of symptoms is contrary to the full expression required to emerge toward wholeness during a spiritual emergency.

If you or someone you care about is going through an inner transformation and the symptoms are jarring, dynamic and difficult to integrate into daily life, this support group may offer compassion, insights and practical suggestions.

The support group is followed by an optional yoga class.

More connection=more erections=more aliveness

The kundalini yoga people – and especially the worshippers of the sacred tantra – have it exactly right: men do better – are more alive in general – if their dick is hard just as much as possible and if – when your dick is not actually hard – you have an erection just under the surface, you are so sexually energized that you will spring a hard-on almost immediately if presented with a woman that you find in any way attractive.  This is still enormously true at 73 – though this fabulous capacity has been reclaimed just four months ago.  hands and feet together

I want to be turned on to life: and this holistic quality of energized, enthused, happy – moving towards life with a vengeance – is very specifically and definitely fueled if I am at least slightly sexually aroused.pelvis to pelvis

The natural goal of sexual arousal is not completion – orgasm.  No, the natural goal is present right there in the moment, not in any future satiation.  Greatly heightened physical and emotional aliveness, a buzzing through the body and mind, naturally available heightened breathing, an intense almost painful in-touchness with your whole environment but especially the people who cross your path, a state of empathy, connection and love with almost all of your fellow human beings – tremendous interest in all of them.  frieze

Orgasm is to be indefinitely postponed if not avoided altogether.  Orgasm – this amazing, genuinely and specifically mind-blowing, wonderful, ever-more-day-by-day absolute explosion of life energy – which does bring you and any partner spectacular momentary satisfaction – is, however, followed by the life energy slipping almost totally away, leaving you back in the egoic state of lost and alone, encased in your own little skin and personality. intertwinded 3

You want to stay hot for life just as much as possible, drawn with an almost giddy enthusiasm to all of your species-mates – and especially any natural sexual partners…for me women of all adult ages and almost any level of attractiveness, including many women who in a lesser level of arousal I might not notice at all, but in this state pull out of me immense interest, curiosity and hunger for deep emotional/physical/sexual connection. intertwined

In this state of heightened arousal, time almost stands still – and at the same time the present moment is so exquisitely alive, dazzling, that you want it never to end.  Almost all activities are tremendously pleasurable.

Cashiering – my absolute favorite current activity at all levels of personal/sexual arousal, but especially at any heightened level of arousal – is enormously fun and exciting.  The parade of fascinating and gorgeous life-forms that Life presents to me – dumps in my lap, with no effort on my part, no need to chase/lure/recruit/seduce – they just show up in front of me, is so much prosperity that I can barely tolerate it.  I want to bellow my aliveness and happiness – to scream my excitement.

And the process of engagement with any human is fun, funny, alive, curious, playful and very, very happy.  And if that fellow human being is an emotionally alive, age-appropriate female of any level of attractiveness, the emotional-intellectual-sexual connection is almost unendurable.  You want to play with her, to just keep her right in front of you at exactly at that distance in front of you where you can totally take her in – and at the same time you want to totally devour her, to have every kind of imaginable fun with her. intertwined 2

The t-shirts say “Life is good.”  They don’t have any fucking idea.  To think that the sterile, puritanical, life-crushing, judgmental mind-set of so much of our society might lead any other humans to think of this happy, exciting description of life as suspicious, disreputable, low-consciousness, immoral or in way undesirable – or in any way less than fabulous, alive and so-desirable – is a profound, tragic loss.  How did we lose our natural/magical/mystical connection with our species-mates?  How did our life energy become so depressed/repressed/oppressed? How have we so lost touch with our true selves?  It is a mystery and an unmitigated disaster – so amazingly sad that one could literally cry forever.

And what a total, thrilling miracle that this loss is totally reversible – that one, at any age and in any shape can completely reclaim your capacity for tingling, total-body-and-mind, raging enthusiasm and ravenous desire for every-more-aliveness.  This doesn’t just restore your faith in life and humanity.  This totally returns such excited, orgasmic pleasure to the here and now, to every moment that you feel – in the moment an all-consuming, inexpressible aliveness that only possible response is gratitude, gratitude for life, for this moment, for this body, for this partner, for this breath.  Thank you.

“Leaving out” the nuclear option

I’m pretty determined to wean myself off all my psych meds – and my fairly holistic, progressive PA “psychiatrist” is willing to work with me on doing this in a gradual-enough manner.

At our monthly meeting two weeks ago, I told Janet that I wanted to reduce my Lithium one more time.  I have a friend who is going to help me take psilocybin “trips” or “micro-doses” – which are becoming a very respected, if in most states still illegal, alternative for “treatment-resistant” depression.  (Michael Pollan, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.)Michael Pollan - How to Change Your Mind

This friend is a very grounded and experienced psychotherapist who is also open to trying new things.  The anecdotal and major research data about “magic mushrooms” and depression is convincing her that there is something here worth exploring – and she wants to coach me through one or more “trips”.   I have for the last four months no longer seemed depressed, but we are both still interested in me going through with this “experiment”. Doing some research on the internet, we discovered that the Lamictal I am still taking (for 15 years) is not seen as a problem to mix with psilocybin – but Lithium is more problematic.

I said to Janet: “I want to drop to the next lower dose of Lithium.”

Janet: “I think it’s really too soon to lower it again.”  

I’m absolutely sure that this four-month good stretch (four times longer than a mania has ever lasted for me) is not mania but a genuine spiritual breakthrough – partly because I see myself to committed to grounding, especially by “leaving things out”.  Sometimes in the past I have been too expanded (I’m trying to wean myself also off psychiatric words like “manic”).  For me, “too expanded” means “expanded beyond what I have any support to help me integrate”.  But my psychiatrist and my psychotherapist – who seems especially open to the possibility that my new energy is not a psychiatric symptom – each in their own way feel a need to check hard if I have fallen into a “manic episode”.

I was aware of a little defensive reaction when Janet basically said “No” to something that I did very much want.  But really only a little reaction.  I had expected her to say basically this – in her medical role, she pretty much had to.  But – given the relatively open and flexible and collaborative person she is and our relationship being as free-spoken and genuinely trusting as it has been – I did not expect this position to be her final offer, but rather the beginning of a negotiation.

I said to myself, “You know that you have in your hip pocket the ‘nuclear option’ – and you know that you are prepared to use it before you will agree to stand pat on the Lithium.  ‘If you don’t help me to lower the Lithium, I’ll do it myself the best I can.‘  But we are nowhere near needing the ‘nuclear option’ yet.  In fact, even though you are noticing a little bit of defensiveness inside yourself, don’t do anything with the defensiveness – leave it out.  Just stay quiet and let her say what she needs to say in order to be a ‘good psychiatrist’.”

And, sure enough, after Janet had carefully laid out for me all the hazards of so soon lowering my Lithium again, she wound to a close.  She got quiet – and I could feel the whole magnetic field shift.  Having said what she was supposed to say, she was now free to do what she really wanted.

She said, “If – after hearing all that – you still want to lower the Lithium, we could drop from the 300 mg. capsule to 150, still taken once a day.”  Trying hard not to look like the cat that had swallowed the canary, I just gave her a nice little smile – no hi-fives, no end-zone dances – and a soft “Thanks, I think that will be great.”

Physical beauty – a validation to “leave out”?

I preach and teach “validation” as one of the key constructive acts we can practice as cashiers. It is one of the three points of my self-created job description:

  1. have as much fun as I possibly can
  2. help my customers have as much fun as they possibly can, and
  3. validate my customers – say something that is genuine and fresh and directly appreciative, with a target of doing this for 100% of my customers, and a really good performance if I hit 80%.

It’s great if you can say something meaningful, but in a 2-minute interaction with someone you may never have seen before, you frequently have to pick up on something a little more surface: your sweater, your glasses, your hair-do, your choice of groceries.

When I teach validation (validation was at the heart of the 30-minute module on customer service which I designed and about four times presented at Earth Fare for 1-4 team members – before our personnel hours were cut and our front end manager could not find a way to pull people off the cash register for even 30 minutes), I never teach men to appreciate any aspect of a woman’s physical appearance.  It’s too fraught – too risky for the average guy to attempt.

But I do it and almost always get away with it.  In fact, I find it one of the most powerful ways I can validate a woman – especially in a short transaction: there is their physical being right there.  I do it less with really beautiful women – who often know it already and are more likely to have been in various ways oppressed or harassed for their beauty.

I don’t actually say this to the younger male cashiers, but this is what I really mean: “Don’t try this if you are not as charming and intuitive and funny and genuinely not on the make (and able to subtly communicate that) as I am.”  It doesn’t hurt that I am old: women, especially young women, are inclined to assume that I am probably harmless.  And if somehow this approach is not seeming to go well, I’m really good at dropping it so fast that it’s almost like it never happened.

In four years, two women have gotten genuinely angry at me for complimenting their appearance. I told one woman she had great eyes and she said “Do you have any idea how sexist that is?!”  I profusely apologized and I think she went away whole: she had spoken her truth and felt she had been heard.

In that same four years, maybe 8-9 women have not shown any response and may possibly have not liked my compliment.  And dozens and dozens of women have absolutely lit up, have told me how much this appreciation meant to them – probably a dozen have been touched to tears.

I’m a big believer in “acceptable risks”: I let my dog drag her leash when we are walking downtown (except when I see another dog or we get near a street corner) and I say things to women like “You have a great complexion” – right up to “Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?”  I rely on my intuition – on Spirit telling me what to do when – and it almost always works.

The other day I was checking out the groceries of my regular customer Joy.  I’m fairly sure I had never before said anything about her significant beauty – I try not to go there twice with any woman, that could feel weird. But on this occasion, some intuition (Spirit?) coached me that this was the time.  Without specifically forming or rehearsing the words, I checked with my Higher Power about whether to do this, got a “Yes” and let these words flow out:

“You know you still are the most beautiful customer in the store.”

Tears immediately popped into her eyes: “You have no idea how much I needed to hear that today.”

Me: “I often hold myself back from saying things like that – sometimes women don’t want to hear it.”

Joy: “That’s a shame – all us women need to hear it from time to time.

(Do I need to say?) Marilyn Monroe.  Her I would not compliment on her beauty – maybe her hair, maybe her sweater (though even that would be risky :)).

I almost never compliment a woman’s appearance impulsively, without thinking about it.  I always ask myself first (with or without using all these words – the question has become pretty automatic by now): “Should I do this?…Do I think this is going to be well-received?…Will it be helpful to her?”  And at least 50% of the time, the answer I get is, “No – leave it out.”  And then, no matter how much I was liking the compliment I was about to give, I let it go – and trust that, for some reason I don’t have enough information to understand – to say it would not have been helpful.

Willingness to be an asshole – the great freedom

Any quality left in isolation tends to devolve into tyranny.  Life is made of dynamic tension, of diverse forces influencing each other – of a dialectical process.  

When I worked for four years as an organizational consultant at AT&T, teams I would consult to often made the mistake of saying to their external customer some version of “Customer service is our most important priority.”  Good customer service is obviously a good thing – all of us have suffered enough from bad customer service that we naturally are in favor of customer service being good. But my teams that tried to really implement this – that tried to actually make customer service “the most important priority” almost always got in trouble. 

If customer service is the top value that trumps every conflict, then what happens to staff well-being, to work-life balance, to workforce morale?  Those qualities go to hell, because the workers aren’t being valued equally to the customer. The outward-facing quality of customer service must live in dialectical tension with the inward-facing quality of work-life balance – or, as many writers would say, service to your “internal customers”…your staff.  

Similar with an obviously positive quality like kindness.  It was never meant to be the king of all qualities. It needs to be held in dynamic tension with another quality that does not come from the same soft or “nice” end of the continuum, but something a little harder like toughness or grounding and inner strength or sometimes-painful straight talk.  These maybe are just different words for what really is the same tough quality.  

When somebody is behaving like a fool – and especially when their foolish behavior is hurting somebody else – it may not be “unkind” to call them a fool.  It may be just telling the truth. Others in the room may respond not with horror that someone is being treated badly, but with a sigh of relief. “Finally someone named what is really going on – got in his way, tried to stop his unfair behavior.” 

Rather than creating unsafety, to name the elephant in the room – to talk about a dynamic that the group has been stepping around – to stop someone from continuing in a destructive behavior – can actually make the situation healthier, cleaner, even really safer for most of the members of the group.  You could even say that you are being kind to the whole group, not just protecting one bad actor.  

The great teacher and social science researcher Brene Brown says that the personal quality that most directly relates to emotional health and happiness is “open-heartedness”.  And the quality that most correlates with open-heartedness is not another soft quality like “niceness” or “kindness” – but rather “solid boundaries”. It takes a tough quality to make the loving quality really work.  If you know that you can be really strong – even ferocious – in protecting yourself, then you feel safe enough to open your heart.

About thirty years ago, long before the term “empowerment” had become so desperately over-used and even empty, I used my clinical psychology background to be approved to teach a course called “Empowerment Training” at a community college.  In that course, I taught “nice” middle class white suburban folks how to say “Fuck you.” If you are backed into a corner, if someone is assaulting your integrity or your self-esteem or your good name – and you can’t, in the heat of battle, come up with some more subtle or measured or intelligent or responsible or “assertive” response – you need to be able still to protect yourself.  You need to have access to the “nuclear option”. You need to know how to get right in the offenders face and – with all the strength and ferocity at your command – say or yell “Fuck you!!” You need to know how to back the motherfucker off. To allow them to harm you is bad karma for both of you. The responsible thing is to stop them in their tracks. Punching their lights out may be excessive.  Using potent, strong words and an authoritative “I mean it” tone of voice may be just right. 

I find that since I have slipped out of the trap of being a “nice person” – since I no longer feel that I have to in all situations be (or be perceived as) “kind” – my loving side has gained tremendously power.  Since I am no longer trapped in self-consciousness (“Do I look nice?””Am I being kind enough?”) – since I much, much more trust my own instincts and give much less of a shit what anybody else thinks – I am much more free to genuinely show up for people, am more “there” for them.

On Monday I was at the DMV. I carry some stereotypes from previous bad experiences at the DMV that their employees are (to put it kindly) not driven by customer service.  But that stereotype was softened when a woman employee (who I later learned had the name Kim) came over to me – way off in a corner dictating a voice-to-text text message – and in the nicest way told me that I was not allowed to use my phone inside, but would have to step out the door.  “But how will I know when they call my number.”  “The screen just inside the door shows what numbers are being served.” “Oh – OK, great.”

Then I did something that some people may have judged as being pushy or even rude, but to me felt just assertive enough: I went over to the booth where Kim was now serving a customer and interrupted them to yell over the customer’s shoulder, “You told me to leave so gently – that was great customer service.”  I think Kim is maybe not used to getting appreciations from customers, because she really lit up.

When my number finally did come up, out of the seven or so agents I happily got Kim.  “Wow, I got the one who isn’t mean!” “Nobody here is mean.” “What? Did they fire everybody?”  Kim clearly knows how it used to be there. She responded with just a cute little smile.  

She was extremely friendly and competent and even funny in kidding with me – we had a great little time together.  When she was letting me go, I said, “Kim, you were great! Who can I tell how good you are?” “I don’t really have a supervisor here.  I guess you could just shout it out to the whole room here.” (Maybe 50 people, in various states of boredom or frustration, in a very big room.)  I knew she didn’t really mean for me to do it, but I really am very unconstrained by convention or self-consciousness these days. I trusted my bold instincts and turned to the room and bellowed “Kim is awesome!!” – and turned back very contentedly to Kim, who said, “i didn’t mean for you to really do it”, but was clearly tickled pink to be so acknowledged and made special.  

To the extent that I am willing to not give a shit what others think, that I am willing to say things that the “kindness police” might say are “mean” – I find that, to that same extent, I am ready and willing and able to affirm others with a power that was never available to me when I was a “nice person”.

A magic carpet ride…

My internal dialogue – at 11:50 p.m., after two hours of sleep, as I sit in front of my laptop in mycommand post”Pancho on love seat - with computer2 (not my “meditation cushion”) in the living room, on the left side of the love seat (not Panchita’s right side) lying down head up, which she may come out and occupy at any time of the night that she wakes up and discovers me no longer in the bed).

Voice 1: “No, not this post – not now.  You are planning to publicly ‘release’ this blog today – a whole long day with nothing else scheduled.  You have been handing out your wonderful new business cards – with that great picture of you, so full of yourself at your birthday party, poems in hand that you are about to so excitedly read to your friends, wearing your fabulous “Resist” shirt (now so long lost – how? I ask).

“You can’t afford to have this post on top when (hopefully) a bunch of people open this blog for the first time.  It’s way too hot – way too explicitly sexual.  People will think you have become a sex fiend – that this whole blog is going to be about sex.”

Voice 2: “I thought that we had – after some pretty intense inner dialogue – reached an agreement that you would not let your analytical mind pick and choose which posts to publish when.  No trying to manipulate people’s responses to the blog by strategizing which posts they should see, in which order.

“You wanted to first let them see the post with ‘mother-fucker’ in the title – for the shock effect, for the liberation of it all, to let them know that you have not become some kind of saint now that you have woken up.

“Then, when that pretty mystical post pushed it’s way up through your unconscious very early in the morning two days ago, you resisted it because it so thoroughly outs you as a mystic.  ‘Who the hell is he?” they will say.  ‘He’s a regular shlub like the rest of us. Now he’s going to start claiming to have some inside track to God?’ You got over that and surrendered to the obvious truth that this was what Spirit wanted you to impart that day.

“Then, yesterday – when your plans to ‘release’ the blog were dragging out longer than you expected, and despite you now having ‘planned’ two different posts to be the lead when people opened the blog the first time – in your very long, very hot shower, as you were just starting to surface from your very painful stupor from having seven hours sleep, which you know is way too much for you these days.. you had this new post come through, which announced itself when you heard yourself scream out loud in the shower,

Don’t censor, asshole! Write what wants to be written! Give them what’s hot that very day! Don’t try to mentally figure out what they should see the first day they open the blog – or any other day.  If you start trying to manipulate yourself or your readers, then you have lost the thread – you are no longer living out your true gifts of spontaneity and gritty realness, you are abandoning what got you here, you are basically fucked!”aren't yu special

Voice 2 – and now this is absolutely what is coming through at this very moment – at 12:14, with a huge sigh, with words that have not yet formed themselves in my mind, but which I know are about to come…let’s get quiet and see what they are going to be…they are getting ready to come…back off, back off…don’t force them out…get quiet, surrender…don’t do – let them come only when they are ready to come…yes…yes – here they come:

You are! That’s it! You are not sexual any more or less than you are anything else.  You are meant to reclaim sexuality in this blog – along with mysticism and humor and coarseness and anger and aggression and so much else – because, after all this time and all this development in our society, American life is still almost hopelessly puritanical.  You have spent most of your 73-year old life yourself totally screwed-up about sex.  Now, since June 26th, you have all this crystal clarity about sex and all this new-found sexual power flowing through you.  So you now are going to choose to leave that out? To hold it off until a better time?  To resist letting it come?  You are an amazing fool!  You are looking this gift horse right in the fucking mouth!”

All of this dialogue has flowed oout as fast as I can possibly type it – which seems to be unusually fast this morning.  Now, at this moment, I am having an absokutely unprecendented experience – here on this loveseat, in the very wee hours of the morning, with most of the Tuesday-night world asleep, and with no music anywhere – you are totally dancing under this laptop.  You are roc king back and forth and from side to side.  You are throwing your hands in the air, hands in airwhich “manly men” never dare to do when they are dancing – throwing them way up into “that invisible homosexual zone.”  You are breating really deep.  You are starting to let out some ;ittle sighs.  Fuck dancing in the car: yeah, that’s really great – and you have been doing that for at least 40 years, in ways that so often drawn stares and laughs and huge appreciation and honking horns.  Yeah, that ‘s great, but right now this feels even better.  it’s not abslitley so great for tbhe accuracy of your typing.  That “absolutelt” is an absol7te hash – you’ve got about five typse to  coreecte in that one.  You know how often and how fully you have been dancing out on the sttreet these days: down on Patton Ave, where that very big youg black guy has been tpotally wounding his two saxes sax– where lots of peop;e stpop to dance with him a little, but you started danceing with him half-way down the street and then really cut loose when you got in front of him?  Dancing in line at the coffee shop the other morning – the other patrons smiling and laughing “You go, man!”  Dancing into the smoke shop three weeks ago, when you were still smoking- Erin, the sweet, cute, salt-of theearth cashier with her eyes wide in wonbder – then saying to her other customer, “He keeps me young.” This is it: sex, dcancing – it’s all the same thing.  Reclaimin life – full lief, abundant life.,  Life with no limits.  life without limitsYou have been saying it again and again, “Let ‘er rip!”  So do it, man – let ‘er rip! Don’t hold back now! No matter what time of day…indoors or outdoors…at your command post or someplace you have never been in your life…with your trusty Mexican sidekick Panchita by your sode FB profile 4-19or you here on the love seat and her contentedly sleepig int the bed thinking you are still there by her sidee.  KLeep breathng.  Keep dqancing your laptop.  Ride this wave of sexual life energy as long as it wants to last – then let it go. Let these sentenxces run on as long as they want – with cockamamie punctuation.  Fuck it!  We got no time to worry about that now!  This pparagra-h has grwn impossibly lpnmg.  Look at that crazy word you just wrote – it has no vowels in it!  Fuck it.  Later i can correct it if I want (I really think I won’t want to – will let it stand just the way it is.  Plenty of time later on to do so man y organized, rational, looking-good things.  Right now, dance brother!  As long as this dancing wants to come, ride it out.  Riode thia exteded dance orgsm – hoo, baby, you are coming for a long time!

But what about all this stuff you wre going to “teach’ in this bl0og post: undalini yoga, witholding the prgasm unitl it totally can’t be rsisted – then  totally going where it wants to take you, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh/Osho…you know – allo that good stuff.

Fuck that stuff – this is the teaching right here.  IOf you are meant to write that stuff in this blog, it will come bacjk again anbd yiu will write it another time. right now, when have you ever before danced sitting on a sofa with a laptop on your lap?  Ri9ght now, this is your gift to yiourself – and to any readers who are still reading, who have not decided  a few minutes ago that this is absolutely the stupiest peice of shit they have ever read.

Hoooey! Starting to get a little tired now – and actually, just now, a little bored with all of this. Still rocking bakc and forth, side to side, but just a little bit.  Now stopped.  Wow, this whole thing has been a 5 Rhytms ecstatic dance, hasn’t it?  (A little more rational thinking sliding back in now – a little analytical description.  That’s cool – now is the time for that.  The dance orgasm is ended.  You are in such a sweet state of satiation.  Nicee poetery, there, bro.  A little analysis, a little poetry.

So alive.  If any of that translated to any readers…if any of them succeeded in going there with you, that’s awesome.

If not, as old Fritz friitz-perlssaid in the line that – on the viral posters of your youth so typically got left off theGestalt prayer’ (wonder if Google will still turn it up for anybody)..the poster ended with “I do my thing…you do your thing…and if by chance we meet it’s beautiful”.  But wise old Fritz wrote one last line that some censor decided was not sweet enough – maybe just a little too real to sell posters: “If not, it can’t be helped.”

I throw my hands in the air in victory and joy and completion: “There, I did it!  I rode that baby out!”  And I know in this moment: “I ai’t goin back and changing nuthin’ – let it be. I will take the one step of adding a disclaimer at the beginning – or not.  If not, it can’t be helped.

Gestalt Prayer-nolastline

“Show the fuck up!”

I’m screaming at myself in the shower at 7 a.m.

“Show them what’s really going on!  Get fucking raw, would you!  It’s your gift! It’s what got you here!  Don’t start picking and choosing now!”

Every morning, no matter how early or late I get up, I am back in “the world of pain”.  The contracted pain that I have always called “depression” – and which used to alternate with the expanded state that I have been taught to call “mania” – now no longer alternates with anything, but sits on my chest every morning.

I have learned that I can distract myself from it – and over the course of the day it goes way into background (it doesn’t “go away”, because if I slow down too much, it rushes back in).

Sleep makes it worse.

Here, on the love seat in the living room, the pain continues to rage. I thought that my beginning to write in the shower – and then my little explosion at the forces of suppression in me – was pulling me out, but apparently not yet.  It is a huge struggle this morning to get these words out.  They flow for a couple of minutes, but then I realized that I have started to slide into one of the other four posts that are also wanting to push through me – and which I listed on my “Posts to write” spreadsheet I am keeping.

So I quickly cut what really belongs on a separate post into a new document, then come back here and try to find the thread again.  I’m dizzy from trying to sort it all out.  And all the time am in so much pain I can hardly see straight.

And, at the same time, I constantly hear my friend Jo Anne’s voice yelling at me “Stop being dualistic!” (with her little mime of slapping me.)

“How can I express all this without it sounding dualistic?” “I’m sorry Jo Anne, but I am going to say and write what needs to be written.  Sometimes, like yesterday, that is going to apparently be a direct download from Spirit.  Other times what is real to say is a description of my real, raw struggle to stay afloat.  If that makes me dualistic – then fuck you, I’m dualistic.”2019 birthday

My explosion in the shower was a reaction to the struggle that was developing in my head about whether to write on my blog about all these morning struggles: with sleep, with pain, with the nagging fear that the old “depression” might be coming back – really the struggle with the part of me that believes in “depression”, that has been conned for over 30 years to pin that label on myself…and the sorrow and rage about what was “lost” in those 30 years.

So some of my blog posts will definitely be very, very, very human.  Being “gritty” is part of my brand :).  It’s what I do – it’s what people have come to expect me.

If the fact that I still struggle, that I still feel pain, that every morning I spend either a little bit of time – or maybe much longer if, like today, I have had too much sleep for my own good – if, for you, all this disqualifies me as someone who has genuinely “woken up”…then maybe you will find value in just regarding this blog as the story of one human being’s journey.  But you will be missing part of the point.

This is the journey of one human being who has definitely woken up – and who still swears and chooses to yell at people to scare them and stop them in their tracks and picks fights on the street and spends time every morning lost and struggling with his new mission and does not yet know any way to tell the truth about this journey without sounding dualistic and pretty much doesn’t give a shit about any of that.

If that story sounds exciting and like fun to you, go to the bottom of this page and “subscribe” so that new posts will come directly to you.  And, preferably, engage with me – phone, text, email.  And, please, engage with us: join the little and growing community of people who are reading this blog.  Leave Comments by clicking on the little Comments bar at the end of each post.

There it is.  So be it.  Call it a blog post.  Call it a self-disclosure.  Call it a rant.  Fuck it.

Trying to find words…

Resist from partyI am seeing more than I know how to see.

I am feeling more than I know how to feel.

I am knowing more than I know how to know.

How do I find words to convey it?  It goes so far beyond words, beyond concepts – beyond the human mind.

I am writing so compulsively these days because I am trying to convey to my rational mind the incomprehensible power that is at work in me.  Maybe I will, little by little, begin to let that go.

Is it, though, part of my mission to open myself to being a conduit for the words that will reach people – to translate this stuff into verbal packages, into love-letters from the beyond?  Maybe this is why a master writer, a master blogger got recruited for this gig.  Jennifer used to call me “The Word God”.  Maybe these are God’s words.

Am I meant to let go of the words altogether – to just go to letting my presence do the talking, to look at people in the grocery line and let their soul jump out of their skin?  I think they are two parallel tracks – I think i shall do both.

Do I dare post this?  Are people ready to see/hear all this?  In the battle between my “let ‘er rip” voice and the “leave it out” voice, I am choosing to let the “let ‘er rip” voice win more.  In fact, I can see above that I no longer regard the “leave it out” voice as actually mine – it is “the voice”, not “my voice”.  As I more trust the voice of God moving through me, I will have less need to try to reassure myself and others that “I am working hard to stay grounded.”  “Don’t worry about me…there’s nothing to see over here…ain’t nobody here but us chickens.”

In the face of all the fear around me – people just spontaneously, maybe unbidden, announcing their fears to me – how do I reassure them it’s alright that I mostly don’t have fear any more?  (I think that even the word “mostly” is me still trying to soft-soap it, to soften the impact of the naked truth that fear has almost entirely fallen away from me – that I am no longer driven by it, except in rare moments like in the hospital delirious from an infection.)

I have always assumed that Marianne Wilson and A Course In Miracles are the true bottom line – that “Love Is Letting Go of Fear”, that we are all in and out of fear (then love) all day long.  What if that principle no longer applies to me?  Aah, I’m laughing – the fear behind the fear, the fear of what it means that I am no longer afraid.  Oh, it truly all is very funny.  I think I’ll just go shave and laugh for a while.

And, on my way to my shave, what comes through next and insists that I stay planted on the love seat – laptop on my lap – for another moment is this: This is the path we all must walk – are all walking at this moment.  How much of our own brilliance, our own radiance are we willing to let ourselves see?  Seeing the God-essence in us can be so scary: “What will people think? (of me for seeing, thinking this of myself).”  “Is this ego taking over?”

When people look at me in the checkout line and alternately fully show up, let their God-essence take over, feel all that they are needing/ready to feel – or pull away/close down/flip out in the face of this possibility – is it because I am a thousand candle watt bulb in front of them, that they can’t bear to look at?  No, I am a very high-power mirror, a super x-ray mirror that reflects back to them as much of them as they can barely bear to see. 

I don’t hit you with a peacock feather or give a transmission through a hug – I do it through looking at you in the grocery store, through smiling at you, through teasing you and giving you shit, through flirting with you, through us laughing together.

Laughing together is definitely better than sex.  Lots of people say lots of things are better than sex, but most of them are not.  Chocolate is definitely not better than good sex. Very little is better than good sex.  Really, fully laughing together – totally surrendering to the  laughter, riding on the current of electrical life energy, dissolving into each other without ever physically touching each other – ooh, baby! This is definitely better than even very good sex.

And all this is coming through me when I am just four months out of the chute, when this gig is still so new to me – when I am still basically in the first grade of this enlightenment school.  Let’s see what it all looks like about a year from now.  I think I’m not meant to see that yet.