After a few too many late nights out, many people in the gay community begin to feel that they are ready for a new routine. Within the course of a year, I went from being lost in a college daze to feeding orphanages one pair of yoga pants at a time. This story is about how I woke up and moved on.
Last weekend I started my year long immersion training with The Interdependence Project in New York City. Entering those doors and climbing the 200 stairs to the loving space of my Sangha I was nervous with the teeming possiblities. What would this training mean to me? How would it change me? What would I learn? Am I smart enough to complete this? Will the others understand me? Will I be a good teacher? Will I be a good student?
As we took our seats, Ethan Nichtern started by giving us some meditation instruction. At the end, he asked us to get in touch with what we feel in our bodies and to start getting comfortable with being on the spot, showing up and staying in the present, no matter how fearful we may be. At that moment, all the questions in my mind vanished. I made a commitment to be available to what the world was teaching me at that moment.
Being completely open to what was arising didn’t mean I wasn’t scared anymore. I don’t think I stopped sweating for the rest of the weekend. We went through a study session and taking turns teaching mindfulness meditation and giving feedback. I was nervous for all of it except when I was actually leading meditation. I stayed with those feelings, I felt them. And what do ya know, I didn’t die. I’m still here to relate this story to you. I always assume whatever hard task is in front of me will kill me but some how I prevail. I should start remembering that from the beginning.
As the weekend progressed, I kept feeling more inspired and grateful for the opportunity to learn from 15 different teachers during the course of this year. People from all walks of life with such vastly different experiences. Each unique in their own way, yet we have so much in common. It’s nice to share a space with so many indivuduals who are interested in learning more about themselves and their own minds.
I’m no longer nervous about being put on the spot. I know it’s exactly what I need to do to learn more about myself, become accepting, and grow. I’m inspired to continue on this journey and learn how to better relate the teachings so that others may benefit.
On just another December afternoon in New York City, my life changed forever.
It was a normal commute home from Target with my boyfriend. I felt something in the air that day. Sometimes the earth decides to open and speak to me, this day was my time to listen.
The train came to a stop at our destination but when the doors opened; I didn’t see the normal grungy tile of the subway station. Someone else was staring into my eyes. There was one differing quality of our gazes: I was looking at him, but he wasn’t looking back. His body was pinned between the train and the platform.
This man had already left the world the first time I saw him, yet I felt in my heart that I knew who was laying on the ground. The train had crushed his body between the platform and train car, taking his soul to places unknown.
I stood in shock for a moment gazing at his lifeless body with all the love I could muster. In him I witnessed the universe. I saw my mother. I saw my father. I saw my brothers. I saw my sisters. I saw all previous generations. I saw all future generations. I saw a man that had once loved, and had once again returned to that love.
As I stood there softly gazing, I noticed how peaceful his expression was. His body remained there in front of us, yet the man he once was, was free. I cried many tears of sadness for this man, but they were not in vain. He was gone and I was here suffering.
The human heart feels anguish when we lose someone. Even though I didn't know his name, I felt the pull of the universe take his love away from us. Only later would I realize the only one in pain that December day were those of us witnessing the loss of that man. That man who deep inside is the same as me. That man who has been my father. My brother, my mother, my sister, endless times.
When we see transitions, we see ourselves die a little. That day I witnessed a death, and a part of me died, too; the death of my soul as it were. Since then, I’ve been born anew in some sense. My thought patterns aren’t even the same.
When I look out into the world, I see ways to help it, and I see how we are slowly dying, all of us. Time keeps ticking away and with each breath we are closer to joining this man who died on the subway. Hatred is silenced by love. To love is to live. Cultivate love and there is no argument. That man showed me what this life means.
Usually love is expressed and it has a hook on the end. How often do we radiate love onto others like sunshine, wishing nothing in return? A free gift to ignite your soul?
This is what I offer. Unconditional love to all beings the world over. To those sick, those dying, those living, those sad, those happy, those smiling creatures that make up everything we are witness to on this earth, I offer you love.
May you accept and find love wherever you seek it. May it heal your wounds. May it be the key. May It be. Love.
Going blind seems to be one of the most terrifying things to experience—for it isn’t swift. For most, I assume, going blind is a slow process of fading into darkness, an ever-constant attempt to hold onto the light beams of a sunset, the mineral-like specks in your love’s eyes and the unabashed smile of your grandchild lying in its crib.
But often we are blind. Blind through our desperations as we feel the presence of our love and we ache because he is not there. And when he is there, we ache because we fell in love. And, because of its nature, this love will not break down a wall that keeps me from his heaven and him from mine. So he goes. When he comes again, the memories will be new, and I will be blind, and the ache will persist.
We are blind as we move through life, being caught by the moments that steal us from reality. And, in these moments, we are freed to dream. And I do. I dream in every freeing moment, and my only justifications are the times when I am blind and I fall—fast, hard, into a kind world. So I am here. In a reality that is kinder than a dream; a reality in which I can live with open eyes. And yet, I stay blind, unaware, and restless.
I’ve lost sight of many things in the past 6 months. I have changed paths—blindly. I have been moving so fast. Speed and blindness are a horrible mix, thus, I have crashed many times. I have crashed my foundation and I reach out my walking cane to find the nearest formation of integrity. In moving blindly, I was forced to react as I ran into barriers. Reacting is a poor way to move through life. I have lost awareness and all that has appeared before has been a hazy gust of people, parties and opportunities in which, all I wanted was to return to Brandon.
I scratched both of my corneas three days ago by pulling off contacts that had dried to my eyeballs in the night. The right contact took a piece of my eyeball with it. I went partially blind for two days. I was unable to open my eyes in bright lights or daylight or for an extended period of time and before I realized that this pain would not continue forever, I contemplated the idea of blindness and went from deep fear to embracing it. Not being able to see, ironically, opened my eyes. I noticed that in not being aware I was missing out on so much—so much! And in not being aware, I was allowing things to happen to me and allowing me to happen to me in ways that were reactionary and unintentional. I don’t want to live that way. There are too many wonderful dreams to dream, people to know and goodness to share to live without intention — awareness -- sight. The world is here for us to explore together with eyes wide open.
We are held as we learn to see with ever peaceful moment, every gentle whisper. We can feel the arms of tomorrow lift us as we wade in the wind. And we can breathe longer and deeper as we notice the perfect feel of every second of every day.