Virus Fatigue

While traveling over Thanksgiving break, I nearly suffocated. It had been hours sitting on the plane and in spite of the short maskless eating reprieve, I arrived to JFK hyperventilating. I looked around to see if I was alone in my suffering but there was no sign of asphyxiation. Everyone looked like faceless robots. At baggage claim, I lowered my mask below my nose. I was vaccinated and tested negative so I gave myself permission to gulp down some air. Breathe, breathe, quickly I told myself. I turned to see if the security guard would come and reprimand me. He did not. By the time I folded myself into the back of a yellow cab, I was deflated. I think if COVID doesn’t kill me, wearing a mask and anxiety will do the trick. In spite of all of our advancements in science and technology, it feels like our world is contracting.

I think, I want to see your face. I want talk spit on my cheek. I want to touch your hand. I want to talk about something other than material reality. I want to love and trust humans again.

When I arrive at my destination, I strip off my clothes and bask in the joy of free space. I am alone but I am free to breathe. I let loose for a while and that feels good. When I get a little lonely, I consider going out but then I remember that I have to wear a mask and I don’t feel like it. So, I stay at home and communicate with the world through my many devices. This works like a charm for a while. Then, I feel empty. I miss the warmth of love and bodies. I miss the novelty of meeting someone new. I miss shared space. I miss communicating with someone without writing or talking. I miss the real world. I feel sad and disheartened and worried about the future.

Is this really it?

When I get like this, I light an incense and sit in meditation. I am hungry for love and confidence. And I need to calm the chatter down. In a few moments, I get that feeling. I’ve learned over years of practice to trust this, this moment of silence, this moment of dignity, this moment of concentration on the real world, the world where everything that really matters lives.

I am activating belief in the truth and essence of humanity.

I am activating healing.

I am activating faith.

I am activating well-ness and well-being when so many are in pain.

I am activating another way of being and thinking.

I am kindness for my fellow human beings when there is so much hate.

I am breathing strength into myself and pouring strength out into the world.

When I’m done, I get up and wash my hands and face. I put my clothes back on. I get my coat and mask and go out to travel again. I visit my family and friends. I show up with love and I am accompanied by the spirits who guide me. Love pours out of my skin and my consciousness touches their consciousness. I see them. We are old, fresh, wise, kind eyes. I notice a few things. I listen for suffering. I hold them in my presence, awake. I hug them with my arms and my inner being. I know for certain we are here in a flash of a moment and it’s good to keep company.  

Ageless Mind Body

To be yourself and act fully in the moment is to be young.

We are born authentic, curious and engaged. Children are this way naturally but as we grow older, we absorb knowledge and the perceptions of others, we integrate life experience which translates into fear and insecurity. These things weigh heavy on the mind body. We can age crooked, tired and sick. Or, we can age gracefully. This is the topic of ageless mind body, thinking about how we can we preserve youthfulness and vitality as we grow older.

I am walking down a long, wide road. It’s early fall and I breathe in the cool crisp air. My gait is easy. I feel gentleness and a window opening. I’m both wise and adolescent simultaneously. I wander into a jewelry store and consider an item that has a secret meaning. My eyes moisten with memories of the past, but I am fully in the present and there is a future Self hovering over me. I’m standing at the intersection of time. I am ageless mind body.

I pass by an old toy store. I marvel at the puzzles and charming puppets. I want to go inside and touch the colorful figurines. I’m aware that my feelings about toy stores are changing. My children are no longer with me. I am now the old man behind the counter. I am nobody and somebody. There is timeless magic in an antique store filled with playful things.

We can prepare ourselves for a youthful, vital old age followed by a peaceful death. We can relax our face and body scars. We can heal old wounds and feel well. We can let go of excess weight. It is our nature to be authentic, curious and engaged—to be ageless, happy, light and free; to choose healthy, deeply satisfying activities that will have a positive impact on our mind body.

There is a man who has one shoulder lower than the other. Further down the path, a woman with a hump on her back. I think, these are medical abnormalities. On the other hand, I feel like it’s the burden they carry. In response to this scene, I watch my step and begin to walk mindfully. I feel each step aligned in weight and balance. To my right, a woman jogs with robust legs and she has laugh lines just like me. Beyond, there is an elderly couple holding hands and I estimate their age to be somewhere between seventy-nine and ninety. They are petite and lovely.

El Retiro, Madrid, 2021

When we break with routine and monotony, we are refreshed and exhilarated. When we change our environment our eyes open anew. These are small leaps into youthfulness and vitality; we become aware of different worlds that exist beyond our small world and that moves us beyond our daily suffering.

We become aware we are not our body, that our mind is a tool of perception. We learn that ageless mind body is a mindful feedback loop in which perception impacts behavior and behavior impacts perception and this sheds new light onto our bodies.

I engage with the butcher when I go to buy meat for dinner. I am aware that I am younger and more relaxed when I open up to him and share something beyond my order. Something relaxes in my face and eyes and I see this in his face and in his eyes. I become a magnet with my lips and with my eyes and with laughter. It’s not that I don’t see age, I do. I see wrinkles, I see folds on elbows and thinning hair. But there is something else there– humor, curiosity and irony. That is ageless mind body.

Say Yes to Yourself, Then Others

“Living is not breathing. Breathing is only the possession of a possibility. Or of all possibilities.” Antonio Gala, La soledad sonora

You can find me on a solitary journey somewhere between the great metropolitan city and the coast, a long and winding highway that passes through perfectly distributed olive trees that dot the swooping orange and pale brown Jaén mountains; passing through the tunnel of honey, and discovering the oh so sweet Sierra Nevada valleys. I’m arriving briefly at some obscure town I’ll call heat and humidity and I know just then that I am winding down. Winding down this road and this scenery, this winding road inside me, and all I can think of is that, perhaps, it’s time to say, yes. Yes, to myself and then to others. What does this mean?

There is a time and place for meditation, traveling and solitude. And there is a time and place for relationship and establishing community. Learning when to say yes to yourself and when to say yes to others, learning when it’s time to come inside and connect, is not always easy. When we hide in meditation, when we rest in solitude for too long, or stay in our sameness– we are attached to the illusion that enlightenment can be found in one state or another and this is not the case. My sense is enlightenment is fluidity and accepting the ephemeral nature of all things. I am on that trip now, it’s enormous, this understanding. I want to cower in the darkness but light is already bursting out of me. This is the gift. Will I run away?

Say yes to the truth that we are born alone and we die alone, but don’t grow old and die before it’s time. Stay aboard your wandering ship; pursue that capricious gift even it means you must work in communion with others. I am comfortable in my aloneness or not, the world seems to pull me this way and that, and enlightenment is allowing the pull, accepting the struggle and opening myself to readiness, one way or another.

Say yes to the sea and unrest; to know when to hunker down in a storm. Say yes to seeing and touching that sacred moon; to recognizing an opportunity, that wayward passage forward. Say yes to yourself first, then embrace what you least expect. Say yes to yourself but answer the calling. Come down from your mountain and speak. Come out of your cave and greet the humility of people, for why are you here? Dance if there is music playing. Make love when you can. Open your hands wide, reap the reward of your journey.

Sit up with dignity, but then dare to bare your chest. Allow yourself to be small after such greatness, allow yourself to get wet. Let the struggle of uncertainty and breathlessness reside inside you, let the smell of strangeness enter your comfort; wander quietly into their hearts and homes and see how light is shared. Say yes, yes! Say yes to yourself first and then to others.

Throw down your anchor and yank at their chains. Allow yourself to be held in stillness, to observe the change. There is a beginning and an end to each display, so watch your ship approach the shore, watch how it collides and breaks apart as it nears the rocks. Stay the course without delay; don’t let time stand in your way. You are the captain of your ship and the waters are taking you somewhere. Let it take you.

Say yes to yourself and then to others. That is the way.