Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How the Heart Works

I do not know how the heart works
                        although it talks to me all of my life.
            It thuds in my ears like thunder storms, beating
                                                      these claps
                                                                        one—two—three inches close.
                        It is forever restless as I sleep and as I read how heart is,
heart is like machine—absolute organ composed of intricate parts.
            Heart is solely inter-working instrument—yet I feel deep down,
                                                            it is more than valves, ventricles, vessels, and veins;
                        Can heart be more than mechanism pushing blood through chambers?
I learn how the heart works, but I am not told
                                     how the heart understands. Heart is pump and muscle,
            but it is not brain.
Out of sheer adrenaline, I attempt to distinguish heart’s proper classification:
                                                Heart is not distorted half circles meeting at two points
                        and it is not undying love and not heart-wrenching emotion                                        but it is upside-down pear, aorta and atria and pulmonary artery.
                                     Heart is not allegiance to red lines and white shapes.
                Heart-less is no offense since all have pulse and live
                                    and all hearts strike and strike
                                                            and strike and I discover how the heart works
                                    but I feel that this force, these punches, secretly
                        know more than me; more than definition and device seek.
It is said: follow heart’s desire. I wish to chase this yearning each burning day—
            return to the place in this heart which floods not only with blood,
                                    but with solidity, warm feeling which text book does not describe.
            When explanation enlightens that a lifetime
                                     is more than two and a half billion bangs,
I see that Science blends so cleverly with Philosophy.
                         Hearts are not broken, boys and
                                                girls, who cry blood tears.
Heart is not paper Valentine, not balloon
                        which pops and never pops again. Hearts are not floating
            in air with holes, deflating, although sometimes
                                                I feel heart sink—heavy like rock, but the books
                        do not say why heart is deep in sensation in my chest
                                   when I tell it, stop. Heart has mind of its own like child,
                                                to whom I explain: these heart facts are more like fine lines.
                                    I sense this truth in the pit of pounding organ and I pray
                                                                                                  I pray that this heart-sense
            is no nonsense; that it is more than picture and name. I swear
                                    I swear heart is like person.
Heart is wholeheartedly aware.
                        I feel heart sighsmile like faces, whispering through my veins
            the secrets of imagination and bitter actuality.
                                    Heart proceeds—it proceeds to drum out rhythms
                                                every single second of these noisy nights.
            Under a dark sky, I listen, awake and
                                     I hope to some time comprehend precisely, this appendage,
            these awkward beats which remind me
                                                constantly— I am real,
                                                                             I am throbbing,
                                                                                       I am alive.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

"What if you could go back in time and take all those hours of pain and darkness and replace them with something better? Like a Hawaiian sunset, or the Grand Canyon..Just, things that remind you of how beautiful the world can be?" --Gretchen Ross from Donnie Darko

Rewind Marathon Monday, April 2010. After many hours and miles of training, my little sister decided to participate in all 26.2 miles of Boston's marathon for the first time. I was a proud sister on that day and hoped that she would continue to participate, raising money for local charities. One year later, her goal was the same. The results that year, however, were different--a sore IT band had stopped her short of the finish line.

Maybe, it stopped her from participating in the years following. This year, my sister watched from her workplace in Newton.

It was her post on facebook that I noticed first. She could not believe what she was seeing. A piece of our home, terrorized by two bombs. Typically, a place where people race to celebrate their accomplishments instead became a horror scene, everyone fleeing from the finish line.

Three thousand miles away in San Diego, facebook allowed me to keep everyone close. I learned of friends running the race, a few miles out from the finish line when the bombs exploded. Friends working at the finish line, outside and in buildings close by. Friends taking pictures from the scene hours earlier, only to navigate away during the moments of terror. Friends of friends watching at a nearby restaurant, risking their safety to help innocent victims. 

I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that my sister, people that I knew, were safe. Many, though, were not. While I did not know them personally, I, along with the nation, became consumed with empathy...Our hearts aching, yet recognizing our ability more so than ever to unite through compassion. Sadly, it is during these moments of tragedy that people are brought closer together; on the other hand, others feel the need to propose additional threats, whether empty or carried out... just after we thought we were done with it all.... Most people feeding off love, others feeding off the fear. It is very easy to fear, but it is far more brave to release worry from your heart and trust that love conquers all.

A few hours before learning about the horror surrounding the city of Boston (located just forty-five short minutes from my childhood home) I finished reading the book, "Adu, my Grandfather Said, Climb a Tree and Look for the Light: The True Story of El Fadel Arbab, Survivor, Genocide in Darfur." Until my publishing company, Red Skies Publishing and author Lauren Kempton, introduced them to me, I had never heard of El-Fadel or Darfur. It occurred to me that these awful violent acts happen all over the world, all the time. While some of it is brought to our attention, a lot of it remains outside of our awareness... 

Sometimes we wonder, even if we do know about it, what can we do to stop it, so far away? In the midst of people's reactions on facebook, I found that one of my facebook acquaintances posted the same picture many were spreading around: the boat where the 19-year-old bomb suspect hid. Instead of making fun of the suspect for trying to flee in a boat out of water, Micah Daigle's picture referred to American drone strikes in Pakistan; something I had never heard about until now. Innocent men, women and children killed, in hopes of eliminating one or two bad seeds, thousands of miles from our doorsteps...So far away we never heard the explosions, let alone knew that they were even taking place (everyday!) How could it happen at our hands? The same hands of the nation consumed with empathy for the victims in Boston. Are there other ways, my friends, to offer a helping hand? Syria too reached out to Boston: "Boston bombings represent a sorrowful scene of what happens everyday in Syria. Do accept our condolences." --the Syrian Revolution KNRC Kafranbel. (Every day.)

It is when violence happens at our doorsteps that we are reminded we are not immune-- I truly believe though that violence does not have to happen. We must communicate. (Use our words, as taught to pre-schoolers)... Talk out our differences. Agree to disagree. Find common ground. Let go and love each other...With this crazy thing called the internet, our ability to reach out to others far away is stronger than ever before. Micah's one post led to over 11,000 shares, and about a dozen new Pakistani friends. However far away, we are always connected..

........Regardless of where we are, El-Fadel and Dr. Kempton remind us that we all see "the same sun, same moon, same stars"........

Mulling over the gravity of the situation, how the heartbreak hit so close to home, seeing everyone’s responses, both fearful and hopeful, I refuse to believe that our world is anything but a beautiful, happy, peaceful one...

Imagine pieces of our world: a orange-pink stretch of sky as the sun disappears below the horizon; the sound of waves crashing into the seashore, salt lacing the air; the smell of fresh flowers in all bright colors; a bird's song catching the wind; freshly fallen snow dazzling bare trees; mountains so tall they touch the sky; a tree swaying in the breeze; stars dotting a night sky; the song of a violin lighting up a room. Whether it a photograph, the view out our window, a tune playing on our radio, or existing in our imagination, if we stop for a moment and remind ourselves of all things beautiful which exist simply, peacefully in our world, perhaps we too can exist in a similar way? 

Despite all of the tragedy, if we stick together, remain strong, and most importantly, spread the love, we will be ignoring exactly what the people who start of all this violence wish to instill in us..Ironically, peace can never be “fought for.” Not to be cliche, but we must kill all those angry people with kindness. We must release our hate, anger, worry, and our differences, and replace them with all of the good things--Unconditional love, respect, trust, acceptance, and caring for one another. Not just for friends and family, but for everyone. And we must never lose hope that someday, maybe in ten years, or a long, long, long time from now, love will be enough.

 "My goal in the work I do now is to change the lives of my listeners by teaching them to care enough about people and events around our world that they will want to contest and stand up when they learn of genocides and other forms of oppression. I want them to understand that in the developed world, we have it within our power to affect events anywhere else, at any time. I want them to see that it is possible to halt such events and perhaps even someday to prevent them. I want them to understand that even little people can accomplish very big things." -- El-Fadel Arbab, Dr. Lauren Kempton

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"You finally figure out that it's only the clock that's going around....It's doing its thing but're sitting here.... right now... always." --Baba Ram Das

One topic that I find myself revisiting again and again is the issue of time. It is a real issue because I keep coming to the conclusion that it truly does not exist, but keeps fooling us every hour of every day into thinking that it's really a thing, no matter how invisible it seems.. I continually try to remind myself how important right now is, because it is really all we have, even though it is so quick and gone now, already to a new now. We constantly live in the illusion of the day, but we learn life like that because we must go to school, get an occupation, work to live. We follow the clock as it tells us where and when to be. Yet all of the things I've been learning about in the past few years, about some particular "secret"... that life is so much simpler and abundant than we ever could've imagined, proves itself day in and day out. We quickly learn the Laws of Gravity (falling down many times, only to get back up again), but what of the Law of Attraction? We learn not to get our hopes up. We learn that we can't have everything we want. Maybe, if we work hard enough. But, what if it is really only a change in thought? Something invisible, but so powerful.

Maybe we have all of the time in the world.

Time as a child was a powerful thing. Sometimes it seemed to drag on and on, and we could not wait for the school day to end, for our birthday party, for the field trip that took forever and ever to come. I remind the kids that I coach that they too will be looking back on it all, now, before they know it, seemingly in the blink of an eye. Childhood, a memory. Yesterday, a memory. A minute ago.....

Sometimes I wish I could rewind the hands of time. Do things over. Other times, I think things are fine the way they are. (Only to find that if you went back to change things, they might've turned out different; changed the future of what is Now.)

You only begin to realize after it's passed...There are only so many years a kid has to participate in the sport of gymnastics...I know now that I can go on and on, but certainly not in the same way I did years ago... I remember, due to fear, holding back...I'll do it later.. or later.. But you can never go back to that fear, to conquer the fear you wish you could've set aside for success. I remember hearing many times that gymnastics is 90% mental. (Obviously the physical part is very important, especially since  it does disappear with time). But overall, it is the mind that controls the body, tells it what to do. Another powerful thing. The key to being a good gymnast is to literally slow down "time", to learn aerial awareness. Know at every second where you are, whether you are up side down, or right side up, or somewhere twisting and flipping in the middle. Nothing is ever too scary because you are constantly aware of your body, at every given second..Bad habits are not created because they can be instantly fixed, realizing exactly where we made the mistake. Gymnastics in the Now.

Easier said than done as every second blends into the next. And then we find ourselves here, six months later. Six years later. Everything in Life a Mental Game.

Almost like it was yesterday that we changed the clocks back, shifting and altering the hands of time with our own two hands. (Makes me rest assured, when the days sadly get darker earlier that we will gain back our light in no time.) Back in the day, one day we decided to change time twice each year. (To save energy, (neither created nor destroyed.)) With our own hands, gaining or losing hours. Proof though, that we are very much in control of our "time." This thing that measures where and when to be. Dictates the blueprint of our lives, where many get lost in the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Weekend Game, and Repeat. Working to live and living to work. We must not get lost in these labels, my friends.

Past, present, future all going on right Now, simultaneous. All happening Now. How then, does that affect our construct of time? It appears to be one big contradiction, if we look back now at our past, which may very well still be happening somewhere outside of the clock which reads right now, changing to now, now. Our memory becoming the Now. We cannot see it, but perhaps it exists. We cannot touch the past as we know it, wherever it is, but is it still really out there? Happened somewhere as right now is happening?

You may have left us, but you are somewhere out there, existing beyond our time. (Energy neither created nor destroyed.)

If you look "up", there is something out there called space, a very close friend to time. The other day we went to visit Palomar Mountain, somewhere in San Diego, just over five thousand and a half feet in elevation. As we grew closer to the top of the sky, the air quickly grew colder and we reached the Palomar Observatory. Snow spotted several parts of the ground. There was a room which explained the stars, and galaxies, and things you forget walking around the ground in the daylight, or even the night with so much light pollution. Looking up, we see the bright little lights dancing in the darkness, and it boggles our mind how far away in space these things exist. Light-years away. We are only really a speck of little something in a vast, unbelievable, never-ending world. How far does space go and when could we get there? It is said, that when we look out into space because it takes light so long to travel from so far away, we are looking into the past. The past burning bright in our night sky. Past all around us, disappearing to the eye in the light, but always there. Naked to the eye. Where then, can we see the future, if everything is indeed happening Now? Happening somewhere within outside of time. And somewhere in space, our future self, looking back at a life we once knew. Appearing like a star. Life everywhere, all around, far beyond anything our minds can fathom. Beyond our words can explain. Each one of our many, many selves, our lives, all happening, Now.

And oddly enough, everything seemingly has its "time." If it is to happen, it will, without force. With the sheer knowledge that it is HAS happened, will happen, is happening, whenever it should. The "secret" of all universal life. So long as you believe, and know and trust. Everything will happen in its own time Now.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Different, yet still the same.

In the wake of two thousand and twelve comes a new way for me to recreate myself and the world through words. I will start here with my new beginnings, and former reflections.....A new name added to the old. A new husband, although I'm pretty sure he is the same as before I married him. A new job at a new gym. (Doing the same old wonderful thing I will never be able to stop until my body falls apart.)..... As thirty draws near, I look back and wonder where all the years have gone, where the little girl went that seems to remain within, even though the mirror suggests otherwise. (So different, yet still the same.) Just yesterday I swear I was promising my mother I would live in her attic forever. (Now three thousand miles away from that attic.) Just yesterday, I was discovering the existence of a world that went about its ways many years before I was born. And the thought, where was I those years? I am here now, but where then?

I find myself wondering now how everything unfamiliar and insecure began to shift and alter until it became today, where I sit so comfortably at my computer. No longer worried about my clothes being the right ones, finishing the ten page paper, studying to get an A on the test, or where to run into the man of my dreams.

Two thousand and thirteen years from zero, plus many more before our number system existed.

In the first few weeks of this new year will be the release of my first book. Another day I have been dreaming and dreaming of since before I can remember, like the day of my wedding (now three months past and only a memory). I am exercising the utmost patience as the printer fits for size and final edits are made, and like a child on Christmas, like a mother waiting to hold her first born child, I am so eager to open this gift and see exactly what she will look like. If people will really like her and want to spend time with her....

....Aside from all of the joyful things that have taken place over the course of two thousand and twelve, there are other things in the world which have been not so joyful. Painful things we will never forget, but wish to cast away as we begin the year anew, hopeful to rid ourselves of negativity. Nevertheless, in order to move on with our lives, we must assess our past--learn from it, and take a positive step forward. But what step is a step in the right direction?

I remember logging on to my facebook that morning, and seeing everyone's prayers multiply for the kids and the families in Newtown who were stuck face to face with a young man and ultimate tragedy. Everyone in the country left with heartache and grief and questions. Why? How? And no words to express the emotions no one should ever have to feel.

I tried to imagine being one of the parents, unsure if my child had made it out of the school safe. I tried to put myself in the shoes of the children whose warm, safe worlds were turned upside-down, and the adults who gave it everything they could to set aside their own fears to give their kids strength, not knowing what was to come. And what would it have felt like to be that kid--the one who decided to wake up one morning and do the unthinkable..

As much as we think we see it or try to imagine it, we cannot feel, know another person's hurt, fear, invincibility.

Why? How can we truly reach out for each other? How can we stop these awful, nonsensical things from happening to us, as a people? There are many with the same heartbroken response, but many with different answers: more and more guns for everyone; armed teachers in schools; more difficult for people to buy guns; no more guns; take away our right to bear arms; get help for the mentally ill; bring God back into our schools (for those that do not realize He is everywhere, always); rid the world of evil. But how?

I remember being asked as a child, "What is something you wish for?" And we would always search for that answer that could change the world as if the power lay in our own small hands, and we could say, do anything. End world hunger. Give homes to the homeless. Be kind to Mother Nature. Save the rainforest. Create world peace. As children, we wished for the bigger picture, unsure of how to start such monumental change, but always so filled with hope.

We cannot forget that every crazed gunman was a child once, however innocent and filled with hope. How then, do we keep this hope alive, in everyone? How do we create peace and end the urge for violence? Why do some have an inclination for violence, and how do we suppress it, end it, eliminate it? How do we create the feeling that we can all try to fix a problem within ourselves, no matter how unsolvable it feels?

The other night I had a dream my husband bought a gun. I woke up with such an aching sadness in my heart because somewhere deep down I have felt I could never live every day so close to something that could take the life (of a body) so fast. Not even for self protection. As silly as it may seem, I remember dreaming as a kid that if there were ever anyone trying to kill me, rob a bank, break into my house.... I would talk them out of it, and somehow try to change them for the better through words. If only the whole world could learn to win a war using words.

And no matter how hard I try, even as an adult, I feel I could never put the word "gun" in the same sentence as "world peace" and have it make any sense.

I remember being in the middle of my younger years, feeling like the world could exist just fine without me. Go about it's daily routine without even realizing or caring that I was gone. That I did not matter. Now I realize that even if it is one word that I write, someone, somewhere will read it. Every day every person impacts another. Every person exists, and plays a part. Every person is important, no matter how unimportant they may feel.

I am a person. Like you, like her, like him, like them. Like the Chinese, the Jewish, the Iranians, the South Americans, the Christians, or Muslims or Agnostics or not...Like the Texans, or the Cowboys, the Chargers, or the Chiefs. The Pennsylvanians or the Californians. Like His sons, His daughters, and all of our children and theirs. Boyfriends and girlfriends, and friends of friends. My Husband and yours and his and everyone who never wishes to have one. His wife or her wife. Doctors, teachers, bus drivers, plumbers. Writers or librarians. Blind or paraplegic. Mine and yours. Us and we. So many different answers. Yet when we look closer, closer we are all the same. Eyes, ears, hands, feet. Heart. Body. Soul. Every single person roaming this Earth, one little part of the All of Humankind.

I'll admit, I fall for the emotional ego that seems to exist somewhere inside of me every day. Being a very big sports fan, I can feel myself get so caught up in the wins and losses of every given Sunday, so upset that the stupid easy field goal that was missed could have been made for a win. But then I stop and think about it. Take myself out of it and realize that it is only a game. Why does a win feel so good? Why does it truly matter if we lose? Why am I really mad that another part of my new home state wins, instead of my old home state? Why does my new home state have so many different teams and people that are angry if the other wins? Why does that country hate our guts, when it was something some people did years ago? Aren't there "new people" every day? New people here, and new people there? "New people" in America, and "new people" in Japan and Uruguay and Botswana, moving, shifting, changing, and beginning anew? New people who move from there to here. Why are some people not okay with who they are, and others stand so firm, their views so sharp...Why must we ever resort to violence, especially concerning faith, views, understandings, that are supposed to stand for love? Why do some countries fight their neighbors and how can we learn to love thy neighbor, no matter? Why do people pass on and pass on turmoil of the past, when today is a new day? Now a new moment? How can we open our minds to every one and thing?

Maybe, possibly, perhaps..... if one day every person could recognize, all at the same time, even for just one moment... That we are all different, but ultimately the same--there would be one moment of peace throughout the world. Maybe every single one of us would begin to realize who it is we are deep within, and truly feel at peace with it. Love one another, but mostly importantly, love ourselves.