Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Living My Life Like It's Golden, Part I

I finally got my hands on the “new” Jill Scott. I used the quotation marks because it came out so long ago that it’s practically a museum piece. Anyway, I was absolutely thrilled to give it a spin, but after a listen I realized I’d set myself up. I mean it’s aiiight. It doesn’t do me like the first one got me done. But, one track has been lodged in my brain for a few days now as it’s the perfect description of how I’ve been feeling the past several days, particularly the line, “I'm livin' my life like it's golden, golden, golden, golden, golden, golden.”

Yah. I got a little derailed at the end of last month, but a lightness has come upon me. I should add that it’s not yet a steady as she blows kind of lightness. For one thing there’s no particular “she” involved. But the overall effect of these mostly ups with a few intermittent downs, is one of buoyancy. A bobbing along, like I’ve been uncorked and the cork is making its way into some exotic somewhere. That said, let’s consider the following rambles to be part of a travelogue of sorts.

I’ll start with some astrology—always good to check in with that. Saturn entered Leo last week. Bully for me! Saturn’s been like a straight jacket on my karma for the past couple of years; I couldn’t be happier that it’s moved on. I’m sure it accounts for a great deal of this lightness I’ve been feeling. But Saturn in Leo, if you believe in all this stuff, has some potentially ominous learnings for mankind at large. I encourage getting familiar with it because according to astrologer Lisa Dale Miller, the next two years could be a doozy for some of us. She writes, “Humanity stands on the threshold of Saturn in Leo, having rejected mastery of the compassionate, loving action of the heart; the highest lesson taught by Saturn in Cancer. Though I have never been one to tout doomsday scenarios, based upon how poorly our species navigated Saturn in Cancer, my assessment of Saturn in Leo is bleak at best.” Those of you who know me, know that I’ve always been one to tout doomsday scenarios, so I didn’t need her to lay out her case, but she did, and it’s worth reading even if you find it all to be mumbo jumbo.

Even I admit that “the-sky-is-falling” tone Miller takes is a bit much. For example, I do heartily love this sentence: “America's vision of itself as the 'superpower' will be threatened during this next two years. Seems the time may not be too far off when we may have to cede this title to China.” You know, I’ve always wondered about China. Since about 1985, in fact. That was when David Thornbury, arguably my first boyfriend, started taking Chinese in college, which was a pretty odd thing to do in Michigan in the mid-1980s. But he had this whole thing about the Chinese having their day one day and how he would be one of the few prepared, which basically was a function less of his political savvy and more of his megalomaniacal opportunism. Some might argue that the political savvy and megolomaniacal opportunism are the same thing, but there’s a slightly different nuance between them.

Anyway, it was only days after reading Miller’s prediction that Six told me about the nuclear warnings made by a China’s General Zhu Chenghu, should the U.S. interfere in China’s dealings with Taiwan. He even went so far as to declare "We . . . will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds . . . of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese." I mean that’s pretty hardcore.

Now, before I get people screaming at me, this does not make me happy in the slightest. But this is the kind of stuff that pushes me from merely surviving to thriving. Danger has a way of making one feel really, truly alive, abuzz. Sure I’d rather be safe than sorry, but I had to let my mind wander to the dark places so I did, and I took Six with me. One recent twilight we talked about this stuff. First she wanted to know how many military soldiers the U.S. has. We spent some time doing the math: total number of US soldiers (Army, Air Force, Marines, and Armed Reserves) vs. total number of North Korean soldiers vs. total number of Chinese soldiers. You don’t need me to tell you how lopsided it is. Actually, I would love to tell you exactly how lopsided it is, but I got the info last week from some pages on The Federation of Scientist’s (FAS) web site and guess what? Tonight I get “This resource is no longer available on the FAS web site.” How’s that for paranoia-making?

The FAS, by the way, is "a nonprofit, tax-exempt, 501c3 organization founded in 1945 as the Federation of Atomic Scientists. Our founders were members of the Manhattan Project, creators of the atom bomb and deeply concerned about the implications of its use for the future of humankind. FAS is the oldest organization dedicated to ending the worldwide arms race and avoiding the use of nuclear weapons for any purpose." There's a project worthy of support.

Meanwhile, I don’t have the gumption to dig up the actual raw numbers again, but we concluded that given the state of things, nuclear weapons are the only resort. I mean if there are only say 500,000 American soldiers and triple that everywhere else and everybody hates us, what else can we do? Again, I am not pro-war, and I’m certainly not advocating the nuclear alternative. I’m just looking at some stark realities. If you’re interested in some other ones, check out the FAS’s Nuclear Bomb Blast Calculator, an “interactive tool [that] illustrates the devastating effects of a nuclear weapon detonation in selected U.S. cities. Follow up with The Fallout Calculator, which“demonstrates the profound range of fallout from a potential nuclear bomb detonation in various inhabited regions of the earth.” Yah, it's pretty trippy. Then jump on over to Global Security.org, poke around and get completely depressed.

Their somewhat convoluted mission is as follows: "GlobalSecurity.org is focused on innovative approaches to the emerging security challenges of the new millennium The organization seeks to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons and the risk of their use—both by existing nuclear weapons states and those states seeking to acquire such capabilities. GlobalSecurity.org aims to shift American conventional military forces towards new capabilities aligned with the post-Cold War security environment, and to reduce the worldwide incidence of deadly conflict. The organization is working to improve the capabilities of the American intelligence community to respond to new and emerging threats, reducing the need to resort to the use of force, while enhancing the effectiveness of military forces when needed. GlobalSecurity.org also supports new initiatives utilizing space technology to enhance international peace and security."

Then jump back to Lisa Dale Miller. Remember the cork bobbing up and down? We’ve just taken a nasty post-cold war plunge, but I have promised lightness and it's coming. Miller reminds us that art is one of the many counter-weapons we have at our disposal. Indeed, “a discussion of Leo is not complete without calling up the artist. Leo rules creative self-expression. That means expression of a creative gift that is uniquely yours. There is after all only one you." Yet, don't pat yourself on the back just yet. She also notes that "Saturn in Leo could be a very dry time for many creative people who don't take their craft very seriously. Frankly there is an epidemic of mediocrity in movies, music, visual art, dance and theatre; fueled primarily by a growing fear of telling the truth. We have become addicted to denial as a means to explaining why we do terrible things. If we are lucky, the art world might recognize its tremendous power to influence, and become more responsible about the tenor and quality of the work it produces.”

Ah yes, art. Yes, that’s an upward bob. What else? Ritual, community, nature … shamanism. Last weekend, I went up to Green Gulch for a spell, no pun intended. Green Gulch is a part of the San Francisco Zen Center, Soto lineage, if you’re in the know. Nestled on land that lays between Muir Woods and Sausalito, it is gorgeous and peaceful and was the perfect setting for a day-and-a-half long Ritual and Sacredness workshop with Malidoma Patrice Somé, whom I wrote about back in March. Sponsored by the Institute for Health and Healing, Somé led some 30 of us through self-community-created fire, water, earth, minerals (“stones and bones”) and nature rituals.

Lemme say a few things about it because most of it I actually can’t share for reasons ranging from too personal to too indescribable to the warning that Somé gave us that in being disclosed some of the magic will lose its power. So a few things. One is that I have never felt closer to complete strangers and though it was not necessarily a lasting effect, I have come to understand that we are all one and it’s quite possible for humans to experience the one-ness of all things.

Another is that the importance of getting back to nature as often as possible cannot be understated. Even if the only bit of nature accessible to you is the tuft of grass growing between the sidewalk in front of your house, nurture it. But if that’s all you have, it’s worth considering the impact of a dearth of nature on your life. I thought my once or twice a week ride to the ocean was enough, but a day in the woods, a half hour with sand or grass beneath your feet every single day, a nightly gaze at the stars … those moments will erase everything untoward in your life and prepare you to “step into your individual responsibility to actively heal the pain and problems of this world,” as Miller suggests.

Lastly—and this merits some serious consideration—prior to this weekend, I thought it was just the gay guys who are having sex, but I think probably the hippies are doin’ it all the time too. Free love never really died for them, that’s why they’re always twirling around and being looking upon each other with doe-eyed looks and really feeling and touching each other and everybody. They can’t keep their hands to themselves. That’s another thought that made me buoyant. And made me feel like I should become a hippie.

I have reverted to irreverence, my comfort zone. I would apologize for the disjointed nature of this, but I’m not going to because I am disjointed and I’m golden, too. And I have so much things to say, but I’ve had technical difficulties of myriad sorts. But I’m still golden. Do you know what it feels like to be golden? I will try to tell you.

Next: How I found my inner baby.


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