58. Checkmate with Ourselves

BLOG 58: January, 2000—I remember now where I was on the eve of this millennium. Do you? I was in Taos, New Mexico, in the mountains somewhere far away from civilization as the entire world braced itself for what we called “Y2K” (when all computers would possibly shut down, and the world as we knew it).

As we all prepared for a Y2K disaster, I was in the middle of nowhere, drumming in the new millennium with my friend Eric Perry and others. I barely remember that time, other than the fact that I had flown out to San Francisco, CA, from my parents house in New Jersey, to pick up my car (I had left it there a few years earlier because I wasn’t physically up to driving it back East after becoming injured). Eric came out to California to drive my car—with me lying down in the back—on a journey East, or at least halfway to New Mexico, where he lived.

When Eric and I arrived in New Mexico, I helped him decorate his room and we visited Acoma Pueblo, a native village on top of a cliff set up for tourists to visit. Due to my long term injury I wasn’t able to walk  much, but enough to see this village and befriend a stray dog who followed us to our car. After the dog looked at us with longing eyes and a guard told us to take him—he didn’t belong to anyone, he said—Eric, who could barely take care of plants, became a dog owner. We named the little one “Acoma.”

By the time New Year’s Eve approached,c31d532e140f6c8af13c69ef86fc2705 the three of us were drumming away in Taos. Despite being out in nature, I remember feeling disconnected—even in Albuquerque where the Sandia Mountains that had once called me were. My body was still struggling to walk, and my soul questioning why I had stopped in the middle of the desert on my way to California almost four years earlier only to break myself and still be struggling. Why had I followed a spiritual call only to be broken and to feel disconnected from all that had initially connected me?

That year, 17 years ago, my father had called me to tell me he would fly out to Albuquerque to drive me and my car back to New Jersey, to my parent’s home.  I accepted and soon my car and I were back with my parents.

It was a strange place to be—in the same place, or worse, than I had been four years earlier. It was only later, when studying with one of my spiritual teachers, Martín Prechtel, that I would understand that space I was in. We’ve grown up inside this “empire,” he’d say, and we’ve learned to live with the empire mind. Yet, he’d explain, there’s another part of us, “the barbarian,” the one who’s wild, free, connected to nature, our nature, that wants to come home.

In a world where we have continuously fled, especially West, there comes a time when we’re forced to stop, he’d say, where we face “check mate.” Neither the Empire mind nor the Barbarian can move as they are in stalemate, seeing the other for the first time and determining how to make peace w540ab52e39f2f19b2fea568f2462612aith one other since both are a part of ourselves (my apologies to my teacher for not sharing this as eloquently as he did!).

As I look back, I see now, that I was in a place of checkmate, unlearning the parts of my mind that had imprisoned me while getting to know this Barbarian part of me that had rarely had a voice. Relearning a way of being, and making peace with what has been, can be long journey—one that isn’t just about this lifetime, but many before, tied to our ancestors and this long earth walk we’ve all made, I later realized.

Today I feel at peace, and I’ve become a beautiful woman who honors her soul’s path. But, I realize that this place of checkmate, this slowing down, and even being stuck for a while, is always with us. We live in a world that demands we keep up while drawing our attention with endless technological inventions and constant marketing. So coming home to the Barbarian part of us, to our freer, more connected nature, requires daily mindfulness. It requires we know that following our soul’s voice is a commitment, and a muscle we must exercise so we don’t become lost inside the hustle and bustle of this empire we live in.

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of checkmate, of coming home. Check it out on Amazon: Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

30. We Circle Around Ourselves Until Landing in the Middle

Blog 30: Dec. 1997-April 1998—Greg is his name. I meet him at the YMCA in downtown Berkeley, not far from home. He’s a trainer, and I go to him, thinking he can bring strength back to this broken body of mine. Instead, he becomes another angel in my long healing journey.

Soon, Greg and I are visiting every healer known to mankind: osteopaths, energy healers, chiropractors, orthopedics, and yes, psychic surgeons. After seeing a psychic surgeon, I’m laid up in bed for days, barely able to lift myself up. Greg is amazed. Having worked as a nurse in the army, he tells me that I’m behaving just like post-surgery patients he’s seen. And yet, it’s just energy work. We are both surprised.

When Greg and I travel from one healer to another, we laugh a lot. We both have a twisted sense of humor, and our time with healers becomes a pleasant relief from my pain and serious attempt to heal. My body and hip issues don’t go away, but my heart begins to heal. I feel held, cared for, and there’s relief in having someone by my side to laugh with despite it all.What-If-at-TheDailyDoll.com_

I continue to write in my novel and journal, and I find myself reflecting on what it means to be in my center, to be whole no matter what happens.
I write, “If I stand in the center, in the self, and know from this place that I am a part of the whole, then I don’t need to step outside myself. I only need to go deeper inside myself to uncover the universe, because knowing myself is trusting my connection to the whole.”

I draw a circle. Inside the circle, I place a dot somewhere on the right side of the circle. I write, “If I stand here, I am nowhere. I am neither with myself nor the whole.” The center of the circle is where I need to stand, and honor my needs, every day, every minute. “Going inside can take many forms,” I add. “But the first step is stopping, not moving forward, and beginning to move from the center, from myself.”

 

 

27. May an Angel Carry this Pollen into the World

IN STANDING STILL, WHAT GIFT OF YOURS EMERGED?

Blog 27: Dec. 1997-April 1998—Living in the hills of Oakland, California, was too much heaven for my hips after months of painfully traveling up and down five flights of stairs to survive. Looking out through immense windows of my idyllic home perched above the Bay and, in the distance, the San Francisco Bridge, was breathtaking, but I couldn’t live in this paradise anymore.

Reluctantly I moved into a home with four to five other housemates in the Berkeley lowlands, by a BART (subway) station. The woman who owned the house lived there too, and despite the fact that her name was Faith, I soon discovered that she wasn’t anything like her name.

I had been weak, vulnerable, and had sought a place I could afford that would also be supportive of my disabled and painful condition. She initially pretended to be caring, but, as her true nature revealed itself, and my other housemates struggled with feeling alone in this cold, sterile home, I found myself spending more and more time in my bedroom. I meditated in front of a beautiful plant under my skylight. It was the closest experience I had to being out in nature—that, in addition to sitting in the hot tub outside in the weed-infested yard. There I sang poems to the trees, finding the courage and heart to believe in a magic I wasn’t living.

2ac3abe815ba6b1db5bb294691e01666      I missed New Mexico, being able walk and being still with the earth as I had been in the desert. I especially missed a time I had had there with my friend, Eric. We had wandered upon sandstone cliffs that looked out over the badlands in all directions, and there we sang into the land that echoed its beauty back to us inside a golden, pink sunset. About it, I wrote:

“I close my eyes and my tears wet my cheeks as I recall our moment sitting inside what seemed the infinite. There was an eternal stillness even in our echo, in hearing ourselves as part of the summer silence under the stars. Back then, I still walked with innocent hunger.

“Now I surrender, sad, toward my fate. I no longer believe in miracles, in unusual miracles that appear as bold statements I had always looked for. Instead, I expect no miracle except the miracle of surrendering to my circumstances. I have nothing left to do. Layers of proving myself have peeled off my body. My soul is resting. Now, I don’t care about the politics of living. I am a flower, rooted, waiting for the pollen within me to be picked up by an angel and brought into the world.”

IN STANDING STILL, WHAT GIFT OF YOURS EMERGED?

(Check out my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit at www.childofduende.com)

 

21. My Spirit Dreams a New Dance

WHAT DREAMS HAVE YOU HAD BEYOND YOUR PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS?

Dancing in the Streets,  by Chris-Lamprianidis

BLOG 21: July, 1997—I can’t keep track of time as one day bleeds into another in my home in the hills of Oakland, California. My bed is still in the middle of the livingroom, but if it weren’t for my friend Geri coming over almost every night and massaging my legs and calves, I wouldn’t be able to sleep. My body is now perpetually gripping, my muscles so tight and inflamed, my blood trying to push through the constriction, and my nerves a live wire that won’t let my legs calm down long enough to sleep. The more tired I am, the harder it is to sleep, until Geri massages me, and helps relax my body.

At some point, my friend Eric from Albuquerque just shows up at my door, unannounced. I don’t think he’s aware of the depth of my condition—of how I pushed myself far beyond my limits after injuring myself in New Mexico—but it doesn’t matter. My housemate is out of town, there’s lots of room, and I’m more than thrilled to alleviate my loneliness.

In the mornings, Eric practices his opera scales out the window of my house. I smile as I hear his beautiful voice echo into the hills. When he stops, I beg for him to continue, and in the evening, he strolls up the road to the forest of eucalyptus trees to celebrate the life I cannot. He later tells me how he danced naked under the full moon there, and I marvel at his spirit. The last time I was with Eric, in New Mexico, when I could still walk, we had stood atop sandstone cliffs at Malpaís, him playing flute and echoing his tune into the bright orange sunset. That moment in New Mexico had been eternal, all having stopped to bear witness to the breathtaking beauty of life. And now, I’m glad to experience this again with his visit.

After Eric leaves, I continue to feel the magic. While I lie in bed, barely able to move without pain, I dream of my street filling with people dancing a celebration of life. I also dream that I have choreographed a dance. I am lying on the ground, immobile, yet the power of my vision and intent dance around me and provide a different kind of dance to share with others. Despite my physical limitations, my spirit and imagination experience what’s possible in this world.

WHAT DREAMS HAVE YOU HAD BEYOND YOUR PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS?

20.Perched up High,no Wings to Fly

WHEN DID YOU FIND PEACE IN THE MOST UNLIKELY PLACES?

BLOG 20: July, 1997—I am sitting in my bed in the livingroom of my home in California’s Oakland hills. I have nowhere to go now, no matter what I want to do. I am no longer working and I’ve applied for temporary disability. It’s a strange feeling to be in such a beautiful place with a gorgeous view of San Francisco, the bay, and mountains all around. I am a bird perched up high, on a bed of all things, and yet with no wings to fly. I’m only able to watch and to be still. I am strangely feeling a sense of peace with not moving. I have nothing to prove, nothing to become, nowhere to go. I am here, just me, with permission—possibly for the first time in my life—to be with me.

Prior to coming out west, and before living in New York City for a year, I had spent a summer at Omega, a holistic retreat center in New York State. I had lived in a tent and was first introduced to dance, shamanism, and earth-based cultures then. I used to stay up at night, reading Federico García Lorca’s poems in my tent under the rain, and I felt the preciousness of those moments where art and nature held me in their embrace. Back then, I tried meditating under the trees, but I kept hearing my father’s voice, telling me to be useful. It was a challenge being still, being with myself. This meant defying how I had been raised.

But here I am, and for the first time, I am not hearing my father’s voice, or maybe that of my ancestors, telling me to keep moving, to keep making something of myself, to be tough. I’m broken here in my bed, surrendered in my brokenness. There’s space for me to listen. There’s peace for me to be. During the day, my downstairs neighbor plays Roberta Flack on his record player, and rather than ask him to turn it down, I yell down for him to turn it up. Roberta Flack’s voice resonates “Killing me Softly with his Song” over the hills as my neighbor enjoys a moment of spontaneity. I make the most of life that happens around me, since it’s all I’ve got. And I stop for once in these hills of Oakland.

WHEN DID YOU FIND PEACE IN THE MOST UNLIKELY PLACES?

18. The Last Dance: The Last Straw

WHAT WAS THE LAST STRAW THAT BROKE YOU (or said “enough!”)?  

BLOG 18: June-July, 1997—I am sharing dinner with my friend Jane and her girlfriend on the patio of my new home in Oakland, California. With good wine, food, and a view that looks out over the entire San Francisco Bay, it’s hard to imagine a better place to be. We are living in paradise, I think. The water and the outlying mountains feel like a tropical Asian land far away from the Americas.

I am excited to have finally made it here after an eight-month hiatus in New Mexico. I am back on track with my original plan to relocate in this dynamic area of the country. Despite my injury that slowed me down in the desert lands—and my calves that feel as hard as surfboards from having moved all of my belongings up four flights of stairs—I’m now taking modern dance classes in San Francisco and Berkeley. I surrender my body to the music, and move through the pain and tightness in my body, and my limited training among dancers with many more years of experience.

I begin my work as at a temporary agency for artists, helping artists find jobs in creative industries. It’s a nice part of town, along Berkeley’s bay, and in a loft area shared with other artists and residents. When I’m not working, though, I’m in dance studios where, especially in San Francisco, I feel out of my league. Fit, trim, elegant dancers move across the floor with much more grace than I feel I have (or a lot more training to make it look easy).

My passion for dance inspires me to keep going, though, until I take a ballet class. As I am lifting up my right leg and pivoting it around my body, my legs begin to weaken below me. It’s only one movement, but just the perfect one to break my innate strength and stubborn disposition that has kept me going so far since having pulled a tendon or ligament, possibly off the bone, in my inner thigh eight months ago. When I finish the class, I sit on the studio floor and stretch my legs along with other dancers. But I feel it. My body is crying what my eyes dare not show. This was the last straw. My body has had enough.

For weeks after that class, I walk as well as I can. But something is wrong. I feel as if I am walking over my right hip joint. My femur is not moving correctly in my hip socket. The more I walk, the more inflamed my hip becomes, and the less I am able to move. I begin walking with crutches and become desperate to find relief from my pain. I seek out healers, but little helps until my friend Geri drives me out of the city to a highly recommended chiropractor. After looking at my condition, the chiropractor jerks my right leg and returns the femur bone to its correct position.

I was out of alignment; the bone was stuck in the joint. He fixed the issue and my hip feels better, but it seems it never quite returns to the hip I had taken for granted for almost thirty years of my life.

WHAT WAS THE LAST STRAW THAT BROKE YOU (or said, “enough!”)?

14. I Promise to Return

DID YOU EVER LEAVE A PLACE PROMISING TO RETURN?

Blog 14: November 13-19, 1996—I made a promise to these wide-open lands of New Mexico that I would return to them if I took off to California for a short visit. After all, I didn’t want to get into another car accident as I had done when I had tried to leave this state during my first weeks in Albuquerque.

So, with caution, I bid my new Santa Fe home a temporary farewell, and flew out to Los Angeles. My plan was to visit the City of Angels and then to travel up to San Francisco, my planned destination home prior to staying for an extended time in New Mexico on my cross country trip from the East Coast in September. I needed to find out what was there in California, and get it out of my system, if nothing else.

Los Angeles felt like one big haze, all cars moving through fog, through pollution mixing with the sea air along multiple highways. While it looked nothing like New York City, it felt like the Big Apple I had lived in for a year. Where was everyone going? I visited a friend from high school, but there was no ground for me there. Nothing tangible to connect me to the land.

In San Francisco, I saw Jane and Geri, my two friends who had been partners in crime on our cross country trip. They were settling into life in the Bay Area as they had planned, but they understood my call to spend time in New Mexico. I looked at schools, at programs, at jobs, but didn’t settle on anything. With potential job offers, and a possible home to live in with a woman moving into the Oakland hills in several months, I had options.

I would be back to California, I figured, but only after spending the winter in Santa Fe under snow-filled skies and slow-moving days and nights that would give me a chance to be still in a way I had long desired.

DID YOU EVER LEAVE A PLACE PROMISING TO RETURN?