Post #3, In a series of Trusting Life
Covid chronicles, pre-covid
Times of difficulty often prove to be times of unravelings for me. Unsuspecting unravelings… endings… that I couldn’t have possibly known were coming, or, perhaps had a sense were there but weren’t ready to face. Covid ushered them in, whether I was ready or not.
Of course, the birthings eventually come too, but first the endings…and those often-dreaded, murky transitionary times, that lie in between. These can be the times of “dark nights”, which can last hours, or sometimes years. But I’m getting ahead of myself. In this blog post, I’ve not even been tested positive for covid, and yet…
There were unravelings unraveling even in the days leading up to testing positive. That Monday, as I was flying across the country to San Francisco on a 6am flight, I was high on body fatigue, low on sleep, and high on excitement. I chuckled to myself when I opened my computer to do some very much needed work, only to find my computer not complying. I was too exhausted to fight, so I put on my sunglasses, rolled up a sweatshirt for my head to lie upon, put on some fav recordings, and for hours I simply breathed. Well, ok, it wasn’t that simple. And, turns out I did have some fighting left in me.
The week before had been full on, shoving two weeks of clients and meetings and living into one, so to speak. Plus, not enough sleep, in conjunction with an intense Muay Thai training week. There’s another Muay Thai blog post within this (they’re lining up! Maybe I’ll write a book called The Zen of Muay Thai Training) … so many growth filled experiences wanting to be written… but really they are all almost always about the same things- the conditioned self (survival patterning) wanting to control, manage, and do it right, mixed with wanting external validation, while at the very same time a deep invitation and commitment by me to soften and be with flow, and not be attached to outcome. So.Much.
It wasn’t until I leaned into that window seat on the plane that I realized how “on” I’d been the last couple weeks. So “on”, that, as tired as I was, the desire to manage and control kept on keeping on- through my thoughts, but also tied to my body. AND, there was also a co-existing desire to soften… to surrender… to rest… to allow myself to belong to the moment. The desire to manage, and the desire to surrender, pushed and pulled at each other. Slowly, over the course of two flights, I felt my inner manager/controller unwind more and more. As various somatic and emotional grips were given the space to just be, breath would integrate them, and they’d alchemize through. Eventually, the past and future were left where they belong, and the holdings and mental managing moved more and more into releasing.
Tears moved freely (my oh my how glad I am that I don’t care about crying in planes and airports- but masks and sunglasses also help with that in case you’re taking notes), breathing was more fluid, and surrender found me. My tender and precious heart softened and burned open, a state my heart is familiar with. A burning open heart, remembering and occupying the space of presence, was such a relief for me, and I moved in and out of sleep for a good part of my last flight. Despite how little sleep I’d had over all the last few days, I arrived in SF feeling the most grounded, “in myself,” and rested that I’d felt in a while. It’s amazing how energizing it can be to feel deeply and surrender, to allow oneself to be where one truly belongs: in that very moment.
There was more unraveling coming, of course, and lots more surrendering, but the digestion of energies that occurred on those two flights… the relinquishing of my inner manager and embodying the me that trusts life… was such a gift, and would prove to be crucial in what was coming my way.
We arrived at the hotel midafternoon, and off I went, led by my smart phone, to find a restaurant a couple friends had highly recommended. I followed the instructions as they appeared on my phone screen, and noticed the terrain change as I walked through the Tenderloin, just blocks from the touristy and conference hotel where I was staying. In that moment of recognition, I happened to be recording a voice message for a dear friend: “there’s a lot of shit going down here…” I ended that recording abruptly, needing to bring my full attention to where I was and what I was doing. On either side of the sidewalk there were people sleeping/cashed out/openly doing /dealing drugs. I looked to the other side of the street, considering crossing over, and saw the same predicament. It felt like it was too late to turn around.
It wasn’t that I was afraid of the people or the activities there, it was more that the amount of dysregulated chaos felt unpredictable and potentially dangerous. But there was something else going on that felt more pervasive… I felt like I was in other people’s territory, uninvited, perhaps unwanted… like I didn’t belong there. This was something I’m quite familiar with- feeling like I don’t belong, and a sense of threat or danger in that separation.
And, at the very same time, I knew that I just needed to keep walking, stay regulated, and stay as open and connected to breath as possible. It was a strange paradox, to feel like I didn’t belong there, and at the same time embody a sense of belonging there, in that very moment, in my body, in my breath, in my rainbow colored “Being Human” t-shirt.
As I reflected upon it later, although the external appearances of that moment were intense, the suffering so apparent, the racism, classism, and oppression so loud… it was just an overt manifestation of what runs through so many dynamics in our culture every day “in the mundane.”
It’s just that, for most of us, we are sitting pretty, smiling, masking, denying/pretending, and utilizing sanctioned habituations and addictions to cover up our suffering, all the while internally experiencing these confusing inner conflicts and desires. We want to belong, fit in, and be functionally present, but we often feel like we don’t belong, don’t fit in, and are highly dysregulated. There, in that moment on that street in the Tenderloin was a snapshot of what culturally plagues most of us: the human struggle of surviving, trying to find belonging and safety, and a yearning for connection and comfort… in a world that hierarchies separation, and us running amok as a result.
Later when I processed that memory… but more than that, the spectrum amassed within being human… in a session with my therapist/teacher/mentor, my somatic system went into deep spasms, digesting the human predicament that everyone I’ve ever known has been a part of, in our own unique way. While we might be on capitalism’s hierarchical stepladder differently based on our various privileges, we are all less different than we think, with a similar purpose of wanting love and safety and connection, and not knowing how to find it in this capitalistic oppressive culture. A deep, deep longing for heart connection, and resorting to all sorts of fuckary because we don’t know how to be with that longing.
Oppressive culture doesn’t want us to be real with our common longing for heart connection… doesn’t want us to unite in our intersectionality. Rather, it *wants* us to feel like we don’t belong… so that we just keep on to spinning our wheels, all the while keeping the capitalistic machine alive. It wants us to believe that our hearts don’t matter. It wants us to “other” each other and fight each other. It wants us to stay fixated on appearances, and productivity. It wants us to believe that belonging will come when we’re “at the top”, proving our worth, out maneuvering each other.
But true belonging will never come from separation, dominance, oppression or controlling others… it can only come from a surrendering of heart in the moment. It may have seemed like I didn’t belong there on that sidewalk in the Tenderloin, but the truth was, I did belong there, and some part of me knew that… but not for the reasons my ego/personality/culture may identify. I belonged there because, quite simply, I belong to the moment. I belonged there because I was with my siblings, and my siblings are me. I belonged there because, how could I not? I belong to the moment of co-creation that I’m within, independent of circumstances, particularities, appearances, and imagined worth. There is a deep, gut clenching, heart aching vulnerability in coming to honest terms with our shared humanity, is there not? That, quite simply, we belong to and with each other.
What unraveled for me on that sidewalk that afternoon? Perhaps because, for months, I’d been connecting with that simple truth- I belong with the moment– was I able to remember to draw from that as I was walking down that sidewalk, and remain co-regulated, as I was surrounded by my brothers and sisters, my siblings. I knew, deep within myself that, regardless of what appearances might try to convey, we were there together, literally being breathed by each other’s breath. Separation unraveled for me that afternoon, and in its place a deepening in the remembering that we are united in our desire for love and connection, and belonging.
The rest of that day I moseyed through a series of simple interactions with the streets and people of SF. The local who told me not to walk back the way I’d come and helped me find a bus. The amazing meal I found at the restaurant my friend’s had suggested- a cooperative type of restaurant whose mission was centered around social justice. And later, an unhoused person, who’s eyes I held longer that I might normally, which ended in the biggest and sweetest smile I’d experienced in… a very long time. I walked for 10 miles that day, up and down hills, to the ocean, visiting a fractal garden of succulents, people watching galore, on a journey of simple connection. A day of remembering that trust with life lies in allowing myself to belong with the present moment, in its unpredictable fullness.
 I didn’t know it when I stepped onto the plane to SF, but the day prior was to be the ending of a very concentrated period of Muay Thai training I’d been engaged in over the last 5 months. I’d known that a transition was coming, due to calendars and what not… I knew grief was on its way… but it ended it before “it was supposed to end.” Life is funny that way, isn’t it, reminding us how much we’re really not in charge, and yet work so hard to try to be.