Sunday, January 30, 2011


Today I participated in a Restorative Yoga workshop. Our teacher emphasized inversions, to get the blood going back through our system. Since I am going back to Vermont this Friday, and with the inversions, this poem that I wrote comes to mind, which went onto a friend's art piece in Vermont five years ago.

Branches Beneath

I am

roots up,


skirt of earth,

wind dispersing

cloud feet.

Show me

your ankles


from under

heavy weight

skin bark.

Watch water

return to sky source,

tears rising

from toes,




Letting things turn upside down, mix around, in life right now. Fascinating and frightening.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Papa Terma

For many many years, I waited for it, longed for it, imagined it.
A letter, a note, a picture with words; some kind of written confirmation.
Something from my father, who died when I was 12, saying that he loved me
missed me
would miss me
wished me well
with some words of wisdom and gentleness to guide me through the rest of my life
without him.

After searching through banker's box after banker's box, piles of economic journals, graded computer programming papers, receipts copied again and again, after years and years of secretly and not-so-secretly searching, hoping some time in the four years he was sick he thought to write to me, hoping somewhere in all the detritus of our now-sold childhood home, I would find IT. And I would know that was IT - THE letter, THE note, THE missive, THE missing piece.

I never did. Nothing for me, for either of my brothers.
"You should be glad you had a father than loved you" my mother would say on days when she was competitive over grief with me. The implication was at least when I had him he was great, even if I no longer had him in any way. Not many memories, and no notes, persay, not even to me when he was alive from him alive. Much less from him then alive now dead to me alive.

A couple of months ago I finally wrote myself that note. The feeling was one of finding the text in myself - the message mostly derived from Hakomi therapy, asking my inner voices what I need at a fundamental level - the text oriented around being gentle with myself, having perspective for all of life, and not working too hard - basically "do as I say not as I did." The message wasn't from him them, it was from him now - my dead father, as if he has grown this whole time alongside me, and seen how wrong he was in overworking, wrong he was in not being present to much in my life or my family's life, and how much he wanted to make sure I don't make the same mistakes.

For if my father were still alive I am pretty certain he wouldn't be able to see that. My living through his death and long past means I can start to see these things - I think his living through Cancer wouldn't have helped. But who knows. All I know now is that I received it not from me, persay, but from some part of him in me that has been secreted away, grown and opened, and now is blossoming when I need it most.

A Terma. Something buried from him, deep inside his Basic Goodness, his real self, hidden in the mindstream of our genes, coming alive when it is needed most. I am grateful for these teachings on Terma from Tibetan Buddhism - though my literal father would have likely scoffed at them as a skeptic, the inner father who is finally opening, that little voice, deep inside me, he knows it is true. We plant seeds and never know how they will mature, and the way his voice comes to me now, reassuring me I am making the right choices, to in fact do as he is saying now and not as he said or did then, I know he meant the best all along. He never meant to harm. He didn't know better. I can still be angry, and still forgive.

Looking through boxes a few nights ago I found this image of my dad and his mom. No date - I think it must have been just before he got sick. His mom, who was always so gentle and loving with me, was so severe with him (as you can tell in the photo). Ah the irony. He was quite loving with me but also so severe. The tone of the Terma I have received is that of this exact moment - laugh, love, be open. Don't care how you look in a photograph. You are fine. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with you or the world as it is. There are very few photographs of my father, especially later in life, as he was always the photographer, rather than the photographed. So this is a hidden photo, a surprise, as pictures of him always are from this era. And usually, he is not smiling. So a Terma within a Terma. I offer it to you, dear reader, as it was given to me - a quiet gift on a snowy day.

Thursday, January 06, 2011


I often wonder what comes first: the chicken or the egg. How did I land in this beautiful house, with this amazing partner and stunningly meaningful work for which I get paid a living wage? There has been a lot of pain, a lot of confusion, and also a lot of wonder and amazing conclusions.

I often cannot tell which action in my life resulted in where I am or a particular effect. I have been reading a lot about Karma lately in preparation for Seminary and the one thing I am finally getting is that it warns us that things are never as simple as A leading to B, or even A and B leading to C. Causes have supporting causes, conditions, circumstances. Everything is interacting with everything else. So to say "I went to this meditation class and the rest is history" is both a fallacy and has accuracy.

Two things I know for sure, though, that have equally affected me are writing and Buddhism. It comes together often, like today, that the things I learn from one are clearly manifest in the other. Today I am meeting with my editor to talk about my memoir, and editing is no longer as scary to me as it used to be. How can that be? How can I have gone from hating it to looking forward to it, secretly? It's not masochism - I don't look forward to criticism. But I look forward to finding fault so I can rework it into magic.

I feel the exact same way, 99% of the time, now about *myself* - if I have done something unhelpful, unbeneficial to myself or someone else, I want to know about it. I used to hate that, feel that I had been exposed, found out, that I was an imposter of a person who was secretly horrible. Now, it's more of a "Huh. Sorry about that. Now what can I do to make it better?"
I feel almost as if I am in the same place in my life, my meditation practice and my writing, especially right now.

So, I don't much care which came first for the moment. I just care that I am here.