Yoga Journal 33
4 April 2013, Thursday
Next up, my mom. That seems to be the case, anyway. Anything can happen at any time, right?
Mom has been feeling bad for about a month now, and while she’s 84, and low energy and lying low has been her thing for years, she kind of took a nose dive in the last month. A leaky valve in her heart is now coupled with congestive heart failure. And there are numbers involved (that I can’t remember pertain to what; it’s not blood pressure) that are really grim. As in, “if she’s still with us in six months…” grim. The quote there refers to her being a candidate for a defibrillator, but I’m not so sure she’ll go for that. As she says, she’s ready to go be with the Lord.
I haven’t processed all of this yet, just kinda breathing through it.
A few years ago, I started calling my mom every day. I mean, she’s 84, so of course my time left with her is drawing to a close, and I decided that even though we’d had a strained relationship from high school through college, and much of my early adulthood, I didn’t want that to be the case anymore. At the heart of our relationship is, well, our hearts. My mom’s an incredibly loving and generous person. And when you let go of all the stupid stuff you might argue about, that’s all that matters anyway. So that’s where we got to and that’s where we’ve been.
To hear her declining so rapidly over the last few weeks has been rough. She was encouraging us through the whole transition with Dale and of course praying for us, having her prayer group join in as well. But she progressively had less energy on the phone. And just the night before last, I told Kyle I thought she’d given up.
Oddly, the news yesterday perked her up. But my sister also said I’d probably been catching her at low points of the day, because Mom doesn’t seem to have given up to her. When I spoke to Mom this morning she felt better; the meds are working. There’s nothing to improve the quality of her heart right now, but the fluid that was around it and in her lungs is dissipating, and she’s got a little more energy.
So that was encouraging.
The plan is to head up to see her after the Canopy show, and just spend some one-on-one time with her.
As Mom says, her prognosis — which is that her heart could stop any moment, or she could last another six months, or even a year or two — is really no different from the rest of us. She has a point.
I guess that means live every moment fully.
That’s always so much harder than it sounds though, isn’t it?
Yoga Journal 32
28 March 2013 Thursday
Yesterday was the full moon, and Dale’s memorial service.
We were honored when, after joining Annie for an AKAL chant (31 minutes) last week, she asked us to sit with her and Dale’s family. And so we did. Friends said after the service it was just the kind of event Dale would’ve loved. Which made us both happy and sad.
There are people in the world who just seem different from the rest of us. It’s in things like their words and the way they present them, the twinkle in their eyes — as was the case for Dale in spades — and the real presence they have when they listen to you. Maybe it’s that they make *us* feel special by being this way — as though they recognize us on a deeper level, and see something we weren’t sure anyone else noticed. It’s hard to say what the qualities are specifically, but these were the things that were shared about Dale repeatedly, by men and women who stood up to share. Even Dale’s first boss in Atlanta, where he worked as a social work counselor many, many years ago, came to pay his respects, and when he shared, he got choked up. Clearly Dale had touched his life, even, as he said, “before he got big.”
So we listened, and I cried a lot. Kyle didn’t and wondered why, but we all grieve differently, I told him. He’s done most of his at home, and I think the sadness just sits with him every day.
The service was led by Christy Gray, lovely and intimate — she’s like a shamanistic grandmother whose realness just makes you want to hang around her — and wonder that people like her exist among us. Dale was like that too. Dale’s longtime friend Arvin Scott played pan drum, and Annie’s teachers, Gurusahay and Mukta Khalsa led five chants of “Akal,” which means “undying,” speaking to the spirit beyond the body; from our vantage it didn’t seem to make anyone uncomfortable. The room filled with the sound, and it was beautiful. Then Carl Lindberg closed with Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” and in the row behind us, as I had to close my eyes for the tears to flow, I could hear Dale’s nieces and nephews weeping — little ones who no doubt held him dear. As all of us did.
It’s hard to say if the service made us feel better.
Among other cool and interesting stories Kyle holds close about Dale, he remembers one about Dale’s pilgrimage to Machu Pichu years ago and, in this most sacred of places, how he watched a full moon rise over the mountains. It was a magical, spiritual experience he carried with him the rest of his life.
Through Dale, we will too.
Yoga Journal 31
23 March 2013 Saturday
I talked to a friend today who’s dealing with the fake world in the X-TREME. Emphasized extreme, because you see that kind of advertising for stuff everywhere, for everything from blenders to video games to chewing gum (I even saw it for a slow cooker). And I keep thinking the only thing we’re really extreme at is maybe being completely asleep as a society. I mean, if there’s a generation that’s more comfortable and coddled, with materialistic wealth and celebrity as our only real ambition, well, I can only imagine it would be one in the near future. Heh. And then it’ll probably be a swing in the other direction.
But what my friend is dealing with is the extreme-ly wealthy, and the whole lifestyle that surrounds that. It’s unbelievable to most of us, that a world exists where people spend a million dollars on a piece of art — that the “art” would actually be just a crappy photo-printout of an ad with a little paint added probably isn’t surprising. And therein lies the joke. (It’s interesting how you can spot something that has a “real”ness to it, and something that does not. I read a book last summer that sort of looks at that ability in our brains.)
I feel bad for her, because it’s causing her terrible stress; she described the people she deals with and works with as toxic. Not to always go back to the Gita, but there’s a passage about this — that such people just keep cycling back over and over again. And honestly, that kind of pissed me off, because shouldn’t everyone glean something from their life experience? To cycle back and just be an giant douchebag over and over again seems like something’s out of sync. But I guess everything and everyone are opportunities for learning, so you take it as it is. When these toxic people are dumping on a friend, though, you just kind of want to punch these people really hard. That’s what friends are for, right? A little mild violence to make things better?
I know the photo above has nothing to do with this post, but I put it up anyway because it made me feel better. We found out yesterday from New Urban Forestry that our sweet backyard silver maple has a disease, and it will eventually take out the entire tree (it’s split into a bunch of different trunks, probably because it was supposed to grow in the woods and compete for sun, and instead it was plunked down in a sunny part of the yard so it got a little overzealous with no competition from other trees for sunlight). The tree guy told us we could cut off the part that’s dead now and then cable it (long explanation) but that would delay the inevitable. But it also would maybe give us 10-20 more years with the tree. And since it’s our only tree besides the ones further back in the yard, we’ve decided to go that route. It’s about the same cost (a little cheaper actually) as cutting the whole thing down, but Kyle and I decided we’ve lost enough for a year now (who knows what lies ahead). And we really love that that tree. I’d go so far as to say we’re attached. We watch the birds light around the birdfeeders we hung from its branches, the squirrels that scamper up and down the trunk, and love to watch it change with the seasons. It’s our friend in the quietest way.
Trees have this ability to make our own sense of time and our daily problems seem really insignificant. They present a symbol of incredible patience and stability, even as they’re nakedly vulnerable to the elements and everything that happens to them (people pruning them, animals nesting in them, bugs burrowing into their bark, eating their flesh). We really have no sense of the life of a tree as we hurry around in our own seemingly meaningful tasks, trying to figure out what’s important in the world. Is it a piece of art that someone says is worth a million dollars, or must we find it deep within us, this self-worth?
If we could root ourselves deeply and be silent and patient like a tree, it might come to us.
awakeningourtruth:Animated 3D Sacred Geometry Grid
Yoga Journal 30
20 March 2013 Wednesday
A few weeks before the diagnosis, we found out Dale taught a class in Sacred Geometry, which Kyle has been interested in for a long time. He’d titled a song Form Constant (you can listen here, it’s track 11 on our friend Killick’s album, “Exsanguinette,” which features a number of guest artists). Interestingly, Kyle titled the song shortly after Killick had a near-death experience as a result of a bleeding duodenal ulcer. Killick was himself looking into the meaning of Form Constant, he told us after Kyle gave him the song for the album, because of the vision he’d had at that time he was between worlds. (The drumming on that song, of note, is by the incredible Mastodon drummer, Brann Dailor, who’s a friend of Killick by way of their tattoo artist. Also, Killick now has “form constant” tattooed on his hands). So coincidences are interesting.
Though we missed the class, Kyle did get to talk to Dale about Sacred Geometry during one of his visits after Dale’s diagnosis. I wish I could have been in on that one.
Today I’m feeling a little rejuvenated because I’m onto a thread of study. Mostly about the body. That will be ongoing. I’ve got a pile of books by the bed, in the yoga room, and the guest room that I’m always picking up, hoping to glean something. My brain works so slowly. And then something like Sacred Geometry comes up, and I want to know more about that, too.
Kyle had a difficult day yesterday. Just sad. I was sad too, but had enough going on at Canopy to keep me preoccupied. Mostly I’m just thinking about Annie.
We watched Kumare last night — a sadly funny expose that shows how easily we can be pulled into following someone who has no answers at all. A lot of people are really just desperate to find someone to follow, whether it’s a TV preacher or a rock star or movie star or politician — or someone claiming to be a guru.
Anyway, recommended. It’s on Netflix.
Yoga Journal 29
18 March 2013 Monday
It was nice to have a few days of spring. Today is back to chilly, cloudy, winter dregs, but equally OK since it fits the mood. Kyle’s level of groundless is different from mine, but we’re both just still sort of pedaling the stationary bike. It’s hard to figure out what actually matters when you’re pretty sure nothing actually does.
On the plus side, Kyle has made major headway in the garden. We’ve laughed about that, how needing to keep your mind preoccupied can yield astounding results. There’s a huge clearing in the privet that most people would have used a bush-hog and a chainsaw to accomplish, but Kyle used a machete and his bare hands. It’s still a little too early to get seeds in the ground, he thinks. But soon enough.
Spring holds this amazing sense of promise, though, doesn’t it? When the weather warms and you feel the trees and ground are all about to burst into life again, there’s so much expectation and excitement. I was sitting on the porch on Saturday with that, trying to figure it out. I’m not particularly looking forward to anything, so why did I feel so much anticipation anyway?
I guess that’s what’s good about the seasonal change. It reminds you of the cycle.
Just beneath the surface, though, we’re just kind of hanging in there. I’ve talked to Annie every day except today — decided to give her a break — and I can’t imagine how she must feel. She’s holding up.
I know in a few weeks we’ll be fine, though, and our lives will realign with our new normal and this will be a memory. It will take longer for Annie, but she’ll get to that place too.
In the meantime, it’s all processing.