If I am ever itching for some late night intimacy I need only crawl into bed these days and say, Come and get it!
Somewhere in my girly-fied room there lurks a brave, and apparently lusty, being who ventures out as the moon sets. While visions of a signed divorce decree dance in my head, he dances over my body, carefully selecting a prominent place to mark me with an arachnid’s version of a hickey.
I wake to discover a bump, which then becomes inflamed and disproportionately itchy, eventually subsiding after a week. But I’ve usually forgotten it in a few days as a new arachickey emerges, demanding my attention. I refuse to scratch; I’m no fool.
He’s partial to my face. And wrists. But one time he couldn’t resist venturing south and parked one on my left cheek and my upper, inner right thigh. Of course, the one on the right thigh required medical attention.
I’ve thought about sleeping in my wetsuit.
But in the event of a fire that would look weird.
Not that I’m concerned about appearances anymore. (Which is good, because he bit me on the tip of my nose last week. I would have aced an audition for the circus.)
I reveled in the fact that I wasn’t freaked out by my roommate. That I could crawl into bed at night and literally not care that there was a spider in my room who considered me to be his late night snack. There was a time when I wouldn’t walk into a room without first inspecting all four corners from the entryway and then look at the back of the piece of furniture I was going to sit in just to make sure one wasn’t lurking there, waiting for a victim to assault.
Whatever, dude. Have you read my blog? I’ve dealt with far worse – deceit, betrayal AND hemorrhoids. I consider you to be company. A welcome reprieve from nights of simple sleep with no morning Surprise! Besides, you little eight-leggers are growin’ on me.
(Hopefully not in me.)
In the past, I would have been angry. Bonafide anger at the fact that a spider was in my room. How dare he invade MY space? This time it took some urging to whip out the vacuum cleaner and bring to an end our late night trysts.
I considered getting a salamander to do my dirty work, but I didn’t want to roll over on him.
Our relationship was symbiotic. He fed on me, and I became fairly adept at Ego-wrangling, thanks to his magical venom. My newly acquired spidey super power is the only way to explain how I was able to go from, An Ego does what? to Run along, little puppy – I’ve outgrown you! since the last post.
The whole infidelity, double life, Pocket Call business aside, the hardest thing I’ve attempted since this leg of my journey kicked off was the day climb of Mt. Whitney with Razzle. Those 99 switchbacks were, in hindsight, pretty brutal. Not because my legs wanted to throw in the towel but because my brain hurt. With each bend left and then right, the increase in altitude planted a seed in my fertile mind that perhaps I would succumb to heaves and headaches. I began to fear that I wasn’t going to be able to summit. Worse, climbers far more adaptable than me would avert their gaze as they passed me, pity in their eyes, as I sat slumped, vomiting in my WAG bag.
My inner mermaid was longing to be at sea level so as not to be judged a failure, ill-prepared for the unfamiliar terrain.
At about switchback number 60, I stopped thinking. Razzle was up ahead by a switch. We spoke only when necessary – which meant only when we had to pee. Summiting Whitney was vital in my migration from married through betrayed to liberated. I couldn’t fall short of my goal. And I couldn’t fall.
Especially considering a vat of red wine awaited us back in town. A trip to the ER would tank that party.
So the brain was sent down the mountain early and my spirit led me the rest of the way. I didn’t need anyone telling me I could do it, or I couldn’t do it, or I shouldn’t do it. I just needed to climb. Thought-less.
Looking back, that might have been the first time that I was naturally, without effort, fully in the moment. Out of absolute necessity. The next step was all that mattered. My brain was quiet, my Ego was knocked unconscious. I surrendered.
It felt fantastic.
But due to the 22 miles of foot pounding (and perhaps the vat of wine) I never acknowledged that achievement – never recognized the significance not of summiting but of centering. In the moment. Without Ego. Until this past weekend.
Friday night had me standing on a stage in the midst of Love Field in Pt. Reyes Station, lashing bamboo stalks together with zip ties, stringing up brightly colored globes of various sizes and fashioning roses out of muslin.
No, this was not a talent show for the peculiarly talented. I volunteered to help out at the Far West Fest and was assigned to decorate the main stage.
Except, in the past I have often commented without prodding that I am essentially talentless when it comes to design of any kind.
Last Friday night that thought never crossed my mind. It couldn’t. My Ego’s ALL ACCESS pass had been revoked.
L, S and moi were presented with bamboo stalks, paper lanterns and yards of fabric. Together we turned that into a theme somewhere between a pirate shipwreck, opening day of fishing (for sunnies) and a game of pickup sticks (for Giants). As I was walking away, done for the day, I looked back at our creation. Chaos came together in a playful way; asymmetry lead to balance, a stable framework suitable for the many musicians that would frolick on the deck the following day.
There was nothing to critique. Nothing to get all puffed up about. Actually, the decorating took a backseat to making friends and having casual conversations. I looked at a stage waiting for a party to break out. It was appropriately attired. Time to turn in.
I pulled my sweatshirt closed, spun on my heel and sighed. In that moment I felt free.
I didn’t wonder if I would see my new friends again (or if they wanted to be my friend), or if people would think the stage looked cool. Or if it would hold up in the wind. (I zip tied the stuffing out of that thing.) I didn’t stress about leaving the boys with Fred on the Calmmune, not because he isn’t equipped to handle them (definitely a stellar Dad) but because I would convince myself that I was imposing on him. I didn’t think endlessly about what the next day might hold – Will we have fun? Will the dudes go the distance so I can help tear down our pick-up sticks? Will I watch a bunch of families in love, kissing, holding hands. Will I feel self-conscious for being alone? Will I long for adult conversation? Someone to dance with? Will I find that guy over there cute and be all distracted by thoughts of meeting and being swept off my feet?
In short, my mind, my Ego, stopped chattering. It ceased being hyperactive. Always in the way – of fun, life, peace, tranquility, goofiness, spontaneity. Making up s…tuff just to be in the game, to have a part to play. Convincing me that I actually care that I’m alone. Convincing me that I care how others see me. Convincing me that I am not worthy of favors or new friends. Judging me. Judging how others judge me. Manufacturing fear because what’s a day without fear? A day not alive! Worry about this. Control that. Getting in between me and the moment.
I know you despise this phrase, Mom, but SHUT UP, Ego!
That’s what I would have yelled if I had to yell. But I didn’t have to. My spidey super power took care of my Ego, wrapping it up in silky threads like a high-priced spa wrap, and stuck it in a Watsu pool where it drifted off to sleep, and then sunk.
Or so it seemed.
While the festival was one big blissed out day of encounters, gypsy jazz (new musical lust – Beso Negro…you must – just try and convince me you aren’t swooning) summer squash tacos, carrot blossom mead wine (it’s made from honey and sparkling so I made an exception to my no wine rule) and watching the dudes bop, run off with just made friends and lay in the shade of our tent, all was not easy.
Dispensing with the Ego is a colossal undertaking.
Funny thing is, the only way it seems to work is if I’m fully present in the moment. By remaining present, the curtain was pulled back on the Ego. And just as Eckhart Tolle said, Ego only exists when you don’t know it exists. (I didn’t believe that when I heard it – Too simple, I judged! Inconceivable! It’s absolutely true.) As thoughts came up, interrupting the stillness inside, I let them slip off, like hands to a greased pig. Consciously. Every single thought. All day long. A handsome man who caught my eye and smiled became a being that walks the planet at the same time as me. I smiled back. I didn’t judge his looks, I didn’t project any conscious or unconscious desires, I didn’t attach anything to it at all. And when that moment passed so did everything associated with it.
Which wasn’t much. Because it was just a moment, you know.
I laughed at the directions sent with the tent we were putting up for the first time instead of fretting. A man on a bike stopped by and solved the riddle with me. People clapped when we achieved our goal. The dudes and I snuggled inside, out of the suns’ rays, laying on our backs, their little blonde heads nestled one on each shoulder. I closed my eyes and there was not a single thought in my head. Leaving plenty of room for the beats of the bands to find their way in.
The dudes ran off to play and I wandered. In circles. Alone. A thought – I want to go up near the stage and take pictures but I don’t want to feel out of place, conspicuous, causing someone to take pity on me and part their dance circle making a place for me. Which I wouldn’t uptake because I can’t dance with strangers! I can’t dance!
I let the thought slide away. And walked to the stage, threading my way between people dancing in groups, alone, wildly, calmly, interacting with each other and totally oblivious to anything, including me, but the rhythm that lifted their arms and legs and made their heads bounce.
Each time I let a thought slip away I made it clear to my Ego that I wasn’t at its mercy any longer. Thoughts were simply old behavior patterns hoping for a familiar embrace.
Sorry to disappoint…
The dudes made it to the end of the day and then some, helping tear down the bamboo stalks; a small army of people cut the million zip ties. We walked to our car to head home as the party moved into town. I didn’t feel short-changed or longing for more.
I felt totally full. I felt full every moment of the day.
The next day, the little dude’s 6th birthday, I played smashball with him on the beach while the tall dude shivered in the surf. We tried in vain to sustain a volley, but each serve ended in a hunt in the sand for the ball giving me plenty of time to observe the endless Ego-taming with which I was engaged.
It’s a laborious and continuous effort, but not draining. That seems unusual.
The facts of my life haven’t changed, but I’m not anxious. At all.
I’ve been fully present in the moment quite a lot – but never like this.
It’s not a giddy feeling. There is no sense of, I’m doing it!
I feel less stuffed and more fulfilled.
I’m not willing anything. I’m not self-conscious. I’m not battling.
I don’t desire anything but exactly what is happening right now.
And right now.
And whatever happens next is going to be fine. For the moment it exists. And then it will be over.
I’m not really sure what to call this feeling.
Tsk, tsk – the Ego…trying to label it so it can own it.
Best part? Not reacting to my Ego means I don’t react to other people’s Egos. This is where it gets crazy fun.