La Petite Mort

When I was giving birth to my son, I remember feeling that in my pain I understood famine, war and death. It was as if my mind-spirit left me and traveled to all of history. I experienced human suffering. I shared this feeling afterwards but in the telling it was impossible to communicate what I had experienced. How does one explain the feeling of famine and war while giving birth to a baby?

Pain is boundless agony and insight associated with Great Death and Birth. When I refer to Great Death, I refer to the type of death that reverberates, a passing that stops time and changes history. All death and birth is transformational. It is the dissolution and creation of new life. In the moment of labor and birthing we cannot know the greatness that may lie within and therefore, we simply labor and bear fruit and this process is our connection to the infinite.

Our response to a Great Death and Birth blossoms into a new approach to living. This is the gateway to consciousness. All human beings experience a Great Death and Birth while living and often, more than once.

When I was in the hospital, I was tense and exhausted. I was forced to surrender to a painful experience. I had not understood until that moment how much pain and suffering love would bring me. Yet, like my ancestors before me, I was to become part of the great wave of evolution.

The Great Death of my husband was similarly haunting except more complicated and fragile. The struggle to grasp the meaning of love with loss is overwhelming. There is ravage on the body and soul, time extends beyond limits, and what evolves out of grief is harder to see.

When a hero speaks of a Great Death, a death to be remembered, they speak of a death that transforms life.

When an artist speaks of immortality, he creates to alter reality.

When a lover speaks of La Petit Mort, he refers to falling into an altered state of consciousness.

I have experienced Great Death and Birth and feel like a moving river now. Or, perhaps the river is moving me. My ears are still under water and the sound is muffled but the sun is shining over me. My thoughts are paralyzed, it’s the constant bobbing. My arms and legs are adrift.

This is Bardō.

How To Be Alone

The sun burns your skin and you are alone. Turn toward the mountain and you are alone. Turn toward the sea and you are alone. Say, this being alone is me.

Watch the seagull fly high in the sky. In that flight, remember the story of a man. Think about fear and courage and making mistakes. Think about how each lesson washes over you like waves. Think about how the salt heals your feet and how to breathe.

In the afternoon, don’t think about morning. Let the past roll off your shoulder. There’s no need to hold on to every memory. Each moment should pass gently. Those we carry in a box are cumbersome and heavy. When we are in a state of love, moments come and go naturally and intensely.

Learning to be alone doesn’t mean you don’t love deeply. It means that at the moment, you have nothing more to be. It means that life can be your little secret. It means that you alone hold the key.

The tears still come; it’s tenderness and life. It’s love and compassion on your face. It’s surrender in your eyes. It’s longing and frustration. When your tears fall with someone, there is love.

When a man plays saxophone on the street, stop and love him before leaving.

Creating Oasis

In the center of loud, bustling Madrid, I meditate on the meaning of oasis. I wonder how to find a peaceful spring in the middle of all this noise. I wonder if I’m capable enough to focus, to direct my antennae to receive whatever signal arises in the midst of so much change and static electricity.

There is a gut instinct to retreat.

I bought an expresso pot and discovered that with an induction stove top, the pot is heated by a magnetic field. There was curiosity at first about the materials I’d been given. Then, impatience when the pot didn’t brew correctly. My body yearned for a simple cup of coffee. My heart yearned for fire, pure and simple flames, the kind you can see. But nothing is simple now. Everything is new. I pause for a moment and feel silly. Then, I’m moved into a state of gratitude. I’m grateful for having any material at all and for having these kind of problems. Extravagant problems.

I’m in the center of the loud, bustling city of Madrid and I feel like an orphan child and the universe is providing me with a safe haven. I’m a child but when I look in the mirror I’m old. And I’m aware. I’m aware that I’m blessed and responsible. I know there are adult children orphans like me who are struggling, tired, thirsty. I don’t feel guilty. I feel curious about what I am here to do.

I move forward tinkering with my new coffee pot and magnetic field stove wondering about what it means to create an Oasis, a fertile space, a water spring in the middle of nowhere. Anywhere.

I lower the heat and wait. Gradually, the expresso streams out without a hitch. It’s delicious.