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PART THREE OF MY FOUR PART SERIES ON THE BRAMHA VIHARAS
published in Yoke Quarterly Journal, December, 2015
Anne Hathaway has been smiling at me from screens and pages for all of my adult life. But I didn't know true and lasting joy until I the day I started smiling back.
When I went to college with the famous actress, "posting" something meant taking a piece of paper in your hand and pinning it to a literal wall with a thumb tack. Then we called her Annie and she wasn't quite as famous. They posted casting notices for a semester's worth of student-produced theater on a single Saturday, around midnight. No actor who had auditioned would go to bed before making the late night pilgrimage to the Student Center, each carrying a silent prayer that she might read her own name on that wall, that she might receive that unmistakable blessing from her peers, that singular opportunity to do a thing none of us could do alone: to collaborate on a play.
A student production meant hours and hours and hours of hard work--studying, memorizing, researching, rehearsing, ripping away the layers of oneself to find something real and fresh--not for school credit or money, of course, but for the possibility of a deep experience, wide exposure and, oh holy glory, for the praise. Even though it meant scant sleep and minimal socializing, I was proud of my decision to become a Philosophy major and maintain my devotion to theater on the side. I was proud of my decision to go to a Liberal Arts college instead of a performance conservatory, even though many people were surprised or disappointed by the choice. I rarely experienced jealousy back then. My life was rich and full and challenging and engaging and I trusted completely that I was in the right place at the right time.
PART TWO OF MY FOUR PART SERIES ON THE BRAMHA VIHARAS
published in Yoke Quarterly Journal, August, 2015
THE four flavors of love part II: compassion and dissolving false walls
Something was terribly wrong, but no one could figure out what. For several weeks, my friend Lindsay had been suffering from twitches, tremors, spasms and shocks of pain in her legs, arms and hands. Sometimes, she had trouble manipulating her fingers. As a professional puppeteer, performer, sculptor, painter and masseuse, mobility and dexterity were not optional. She wasted no time in seeking the help of specialists, hoping that someone could fix the problem and get her back to her work, her art, her vibrant and full 31-year-old life.
By the end of the summer, the muscular discomfort and dysfunction had worsened and spread to other parts of her body, and all sense of hope began to wane. The doctors and healers had exhausted all other possibilities before announcing a diagnosis that no one wanted to hear: ALS, or amyotrophic laterals sclerosis, a progressively degenerative disease that ultimately affects a person's ability to move, speak, eat, or even breathe. This diagnosis presented the picture of a future far different than the one that this wise, adventurous, independent, fiery, kinesthetic, strong-willed, generous and wildly creative woman had envisioned for herself. It came with the suggestion that a violent and mysterious guest was living inside Lindsay’s body, attacking her motor neurons and causing those pains and tremors and disability. With an average life expectancy of 3-5 years after diagnosis and without a known cure, Lindsay would eventually be left with reduced muscle control, muscle mass, vitality and independence, day by day. Just as her peers would be breathing life into careers, partnerships, children of their own, she would no longer be able to take the breath of life into her own lungs.
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MINDFUL dinner of doubts
published on Five Tattvas blog, June 2015
The idea that the dinner be silent was not mine. In the darkest moments of the meal, when it felt like time couldn't go slower, I kept thinking this: it was the owner of the holistic cafe hosting the event who conceived it. The owner who had something come up and couldn't stay for the most excruciatingly awkward dinner of my life.
part one of four part series on bramha viharas
published in Yoke Quarterly Journal, November 2014
THE FOUR FLAVORS OF LOVE, PART I: FINDING BALANCE AND FRIENDSHIP WHEN THE WORLD LOOKS CROOKED
Most people’s earliest memories seem to be of traumatic or thrilling experiences. My first memories are of theories. I remember taking what I “knew” about the world and combining it with my own little-person logic to concoct living theories. As a 4-year-old, balance seemed like a given, a quality woven inherently into the fabric of the universe. And one of my earliest memories is of one theory that helped me cope with an imbalance that I perceived in my world: that some people were beautiful and some people were not.
My solution? I figured that everyone must take turns—each person gets to be beautiful either for childhood or adulthood. Little girls who were pretty lost their looks as they became young women. And little girls who were not lauded for their beauty would get a chance at being beautiful as adults. As a little girl who was often told that I was beautiful by my adult family members, I thought, I will be an un-beauttiful woman one day, and I accepted that completely. I was happy to have my turn as a kid. With no basis at all for any single point of my theory, it felt good to make sense of the world. To bring everything into balance, even if it was in my own mind.