My Obituary, A Lesson on Meaningless Drivel

My Obituary

 

Thomas P. “Gyandeva” Grasso, whatever age, citizen of the world, passed away at his home, wherever that home may have been. He was surrounded by his loved ones, including several of those he had never met, while he was doing something he loved, and likely thinking about what the end was going to mean (since the end can never come). He was likely debating the pros and cons of death, and found himself to be, as always, right.

Tom was a world traveler, even though he rarely left the United States. He loved everyone, although everyone didn’t always return the favor. He tried, as he might, to ease the suffering of others whether through fire department work, EMS work, or simply reminding them how stupid they were being listening to the voices others had implanted into their heads. He once amassed some measure of wealth, and considered himself blessed when he lost it all. He considered his greatest failures successes of enormous magnitude, and found that his life began the moment he discovered he had nothing left to lose.

In lieu of flowers, Gyandeva requests that you take yourself (and no one else) out for a good healthy meal, followed by a pleasurable round of self-gratification (in whatever way you find your SELF gratified). If you have a partner, please exhibit public displays of affection in a way to make conservatives cringe, and then beat up a homeless person to make them happy again. Donations can be made to the charity of your choice, although most charities will take your money and do very little in return with it. Rather, perhaps putting your money in the burlap bag Tom wants to be buried in will do much more.

Funeral will be held in the woods somewhere, where he will be given back to the Nature that gave him life. He looks forward to becoming worm food and fertilizer. He also hopes that he travels far and wide in the intestines of some wolf somewhere, and then is neatly deposited in a nice little pile along some polluted stream. Please try to avoid stepping on Tom in this case, but if you do, please try to be respectful in your cursing and polite in scraping him off.

By the way, Tom wants to inform you that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, because there is no tunnel. Please stop focusing on the dark specs you see on the blanket of light, that’s probably wolf shit better left undisturbed. After all, wolves don’t like when you mess with their shit.

Peace out.

I am Born (A Poem)

In the sullied storied yesterday
It began
Lost to the ages in a whimsical verse
Gone to the ether in a mystical prose
Like that, the flicker dies
And like that, I am born.

Somewhere bits of me resound
Yet, for now, I remain lost
Lost in the melancholy of stories not forgotten
In the foggy pieces of hell
I've grasped, I've held on to
Despite the burning flesh of my embrace.

Somewhere in the distant shadows
I can hear the singers sing
And feel all manners of their hallowed dance
Their footfalls in the sand
Their faces lit by the orange gaze of burning wood
I long to know their joyful sound.

Yet, there...somewhere...everywhere
We are lost to the Wind
Bound by faith not our own
Held firm my mystics we have never known
Scratching at the Earth...
Begging to be free.

What, dear Shaman friend
Do I do with such a freedom?
When the shackles fall and the song is all my own?
Who teaches me to build that Fire?
To dance that Dance?
And the Wind guides me beyond the grasp of man?

Who, dear Warrior within
Do I love in such a free-born flight?
When the light shines in I love the darkness,
When the darkness comes I crave the light,
Never to seek
Never to know myself again.

I laugh an insane-man's laugh
As another layer falls, another universe is born.
You cannot exist in the spaces I now go.
You cannot fall when your wings are thus unfurled.
You cannot lose when there is nothing left to win.
Now, go, be free, and never speak of this again.

Let go, She said, this peace is yours to know.
Hold on, He said, and die forever in this mist.
Dance around the fire of your own design,
Choreographed by the Master that you are.
Do not look to them for answers,
You were born with all you'll ever need to know.

At the shoreline I stood, 
A prayer uttered by my footprints in the sand,
Answered by the lapping waves,
Singing praise to their depths, 
Calling me in, as I gulped down air
To breathe where no breath could be taken.

Birthed by the ocean where I feel so at home...
Warmed by the fire around which I dance...
Cooled by the subtle breeze of yesterday...
Embraced by this joyful dance of life...
I walk out, slowly sinking into all that is...
Releasing to the waves all that ever was...


And there...
I.
Am.
Born.

Something of Your Voice (A Poem)

I think I heard in the analog
Something of your voice
Reminding me of some simple folly
Some simple vice, some simple thing you needed me to change.

To make this white rose red,
Is to see it seething in the throes of your despondency,
I simply walk away,
Before I see you as less than I saw you yesterday.

In my absence, what do you see?
When you have no one else to blame for your imperfections?
When you have no one else to throw those stones at,
That you have gathered in your yard?

Tell me, or don't, it doesn't really matter,
Who are you when you not the fixer of the broken man?
Just another aimless drifter I suppose,
Just another soul lost under the bridge down by the bay.

Who are you, do you even wonder,
When you count your friends by their ideas
When you hold that candle to your own weathered veil?
Does it, too, burn with the madness you are so pained to see?

I can't remember when last we spoke,
When the Sun shone so brightly up above
To cast our forms upon the icy ground,
My shadow next to yours. 

Yet, I hear your voice, still...
Reminding me of who you thought I'd be
Of who you thought I was,
Of who you thought I AM...

Your mistaken identity of me.

If we judge the bird newly emerged from the egg,
We shall never see it fly...
If we hold too tightly to the nest on which we're born
We will never know the truth beyond this tree.

If the Universe never moved beyond that single speck,
You'd and me, we'd be just ideas in the darkness,
If we never took that step beyond the cave,
We would have never seen the waves break upon the summer sands.

So, count as honored the very first of us,
Who walked beyond the length of chain,
Others had wrapped around his neck,
And chained to the walls of their own making.

Count as blessed the very first of us,
Who squinted at the Sun,
Who stepped out beyond the darkened walls around him,
Or her, as I think the case may be.

Stand firm in your hallowed prison walls,
And see nothing of the stars.
Embrace the bars you've grown to love
And feel nothing of the true wind caress your skin. 

Try not to hate the free One who cries at your plight,
Or beckons you to fly...
For he loves you...
or she does, as I think the case may be.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For then shall be filled, 
Surely no prison is right for the free man
So what shall be his fill?

Nothing, I suppose...
It's all just a dream, a screen-less movie played upon the open air,
A lost cause in the realization
That there is no such thing as an empty glass.

And that bread alone cannot satisfy your hunger
There must be something more...
Than the manna from a book, 
Or the thoughts from a man who's never known the Earth to move around the Sun.

Oh...sigh...
There I go again.
Sadly mistaking the sand for the concrete you say it is,
I'll watch the house you've built fall, 
While you say that was always the reason you built it. 

Goodbye, I must leave, 
The ideas mounting will surely bring us back to...

I think I heard in the analog
Something of your voice
Reminding me of some simple folly
Some simple vice, some simple thing you needed me to change.

To make this white rose red,
is to see it seething in the throes of your despondency,
I simply walk away,
Before I see you as less that I saw you yesterday.
photo by:

Who Taught You?

Who taught you
That the essence of love
Was found in faking a smile, and feigning a laugh?
Pretending that lemon's sweetness had touched your lips?

Who taught you
That kindness was in lying to your fellow man,
Of pretending to be happy
When you are sad,
Or at peace
When bathing in turmoil,
Or joyful
While you are fighting back the tears?

Who taught you
That God was someone you could talk to?
That angels and demons care of what fruit you choose to eat,
Or what leaf you hide yourself behind,
Or what altar you'd bend your knee before?

Who taught you
That heaven was some place you went?
That you had to die, not live, to get there,
That you needed to sing the praises of some other man's fantasy
As a price of admission?

Who taught you this?

And why did you choose to listen?

Who taught you that you were not good enough?
That the beauty within you was not beautiful to see,
That the fire within you was not enough to light your way,
That the song you danced to was not a song at all?

Who taught you that your smile was not as powerful as the Sunrise?
That your touch was not uplifting,
That your whispers could not send the chills
I now feel running up my spine?

Who taught you that your pleasure was a sin?
That your screams of ecstasy are best kept hidden in the shadows,
That your open displays of love are things best kept secret,
That you are not the one to be free?

Who are these bastards, and how can I meet them?
I want to show them what I see...
The beauty, the strength, 
The Heaven that is you.

I want to know the ones who taught you
Not to believe in what you knew,
To silence the voice within that shouted out your name
Even before you knew a single word.

I want to see those who have such a power over you,
Who can make a river flow uphill.
For they are truly gods among us.
Must we forsake ourselves to be
More
Like
Them?

And you've chosen their hymn,
Without even realizing it.
You've ceded your power, 
With barely a whimper in the cause.

Why do you choose to learn the book
That has never worked for them?
Surely the purpose of such a faith
Is to not need the faith at all...

"Surely the purpose of such a faith
Is to not need the faith at all..."
Let that settle for a moment.
And a moment more.

Surely the purpose of your crutch
Is to help your wounded limb heal.
Not to hold onto
Once you are mended.

Or not, it seems,
We're stuck in some unholy matrimony
Where ideas struck by other men
Mean more than the footprints we can press ourselves into wetted sands.

Who taught you that you're a sinner?
Some heathen prank of a lowly god
Who needs you to bend your knee at some ornate altar
He was surely born upon?

Who taught you that you weren't enough
That something out there would make you more,
Would give you more
Would hold a torch while your cried loudly in the darkness?

Who handed you that crutch on which you lean?
The very tool that keeps you from walking on your own?
And why? 
That's where the weakness begins.

I say goodbye to their thoughts
And hello to my own experiences
May I never need your crutch again.
May my healed wings now take to flight.

I've never seen a thing in nature
Bow before a cross
Or kneel before an altar
Or seek refuge in a church.

I've never seen a fowl or fish or beast
Read a book to teach them what they know
Or need the words of others
To be
A fowl
or fish
or beast.

I've never seen a tree
Change itself to lumber
And I've never seen a flower
Seek to bloom to your perfection.

So, who taught you that you weren't as perfect as a rose?
That you were wrong the moment you were born?
What evil lurked within the mind
Of those who judged you even before you knew your name?

I guess if you thought you were good enough,
Or happy enough,
Or could fulfill your wildest dreams,
You would not need their silly book,
Or silly building,
Or silly notion of what is right for you.

If you could be free,
That would mean they could be free too,
And freedom scares those who cannot own their place in hell
Or heaven, or in the spaces they find between.

The spaces they create
In order to blame an Other, or give thanks to an Other
That same creation
Taken from another man's design.

Breath...

Deep breath...

Release...

Hated is the one who has been freed.
Feared is the one who slips the rusted shackles of collective thought.
He spreads his arms to feel the pinch of steel and wood,
In order to truly free.


 

 

 

 

photo by:

Through The Peephole

Through the peephole I saw you. You were dancing, wildly, joyfully, with a purpose that seemed to have no purpose at all. I could see your body move beneath the thin fabric of your dress, and I could hear you pant loudly at the effortless exertion of your dance. You were in bliss, and although I swore I could hear your heart beating loudly in the distance, I stayed back, allowing you your moment where you thought no one was looking

Through the peephole I saw you. You were laughing loudly at the ether, sharing moments with the Sun as you twirled to Heaven’s sound. Your lips glistened with the anticipation of each coming note as your hardened nipples gave testament to the pleasure of all that just had passed. I could feel my own excitement build as each part of you that sang touched each part of me that heard your song.

Through the peephole I saw you. You were moving lightly as even gravity seemed to not have a hold on you. There was no effort in your motion, and it was like nothing existed outside that room you had found, where you could be hidden and yourself without the telling glances of the world around you.

My tears came spilling through the peephole. I fell in love with you that instant, knowing you as you were before the roles you play for me were born, before our universe became filled with the power of our minds. I wanted to dance with you, but then you’d see me too, and nothing would be the same.

I both hated and loved the door through which I gazed. It kept me from this you I saw, and I hated it for that. Yet, it gave you security to dance to the great unheard song, to laugh to jokes not yet told, to fly among the clouds that saw fit to meet you there. For that, I loved that door, and I gave thanks for the little spec of light that brought me there through my own darkness. Through the peephole the light will shine, and through the peephole we would shine if only we’d stop looking at the door.

It’s through the peepholes of our lives that we find life, and through the doors that we find death, and in the walls around us the holes by which we can make our escape. It is when I see you that I see me, and when you fly it is then I realize I, too, can be free.

photo by:

Set Sail (A Poem)

May the Sun rise with a kiss
And set with the same
For such power exists
To set the wick to a flame.
 
So may heavens set sail
To find such a land
Where Angels and Demons
Can meet on demand.
 
There a breeze comes alive
Gives a song to the mast
This ship cuts through surf
That gives life to the past.
 
From the depths down below
To the stars up above
We don’t set sail out of fear
We set sail out of Love.
photo by:

From this…(A Poem)

From this end...
A new beginning.
From this pool...
An ocean born.
From this emptiness...
A sacred space.
From this soul...
An endless truth.

From these bounds...
Springs liberation.
From these tears...
A slow release.
From these quakes...
A mountain rises.
From these remnants...
A star is born.

From this goodbye...
A new hello.
From this word...
A sentence born.
From this destruction...
Creation follows.
From this hallowed silence...
I hear it all.

Peace.
photo by:

The Truth of Me

I’ve been quite a few things in the short time I’ve experienced this life. I’ve been a sensitive boy, an abused child, a raging lunatic with a violent streak. I’ve been in trouble with the law, an altar boy drinking wine in the sacristy, a cheater, a liar, and a man afraid of who he was. Mostly, I’ve been an unhappy soul left foundering in a sea of his own despair, blaming everyone else for the suffering in my life.

I have memories of little bits of truth that came out through the bullshit. Like the time I secretly cried after a fight where I had knocked someone out. The time when my daughter was born and I felt love for what seemed like the very first time.

There were many instances of truth, but they scared me into grasping at the lies. I truly loathed who I was, and in that self-immolation I would try to be whomever you wanted me to be. I was, of course, doomed to failure.

A liar isn’t, in my experience, someone who gets off by lying. I just hated who I was when I was telling the truth. There is no moment of peace for the liar. In my case I relieved the voices of my youth always telling me I was not good enough, strong enough, handsome enough, fit enough, or tough enough to exist. I needed to be everything I was taught I wasn’t, so I lied.

One of my best friends reminds me often of my lying self. He tells a story of when we first met, and how much he hated me. I had created a shell of toughness, one that often instilled fear in those around me, one that often created the space I needed to exist in. I put out an energy that said, “fuck with me and I’ll hurt you”, with the size and swagger to back up that energy if you challenged me.

So, this man disliked me. Or rather he disliked the liar. Then, as he puts it, he talked to me. Somehow, some of my truth must have leaked through the cracks in the shell I had created. As a result I gained a friend, someone who’s been a trusted, beautiful person in my life for well over half of it.

Someone who I love dearly.

Someone I will always cherish.

A cheater isn’t always someone who gets off on cheating. In my case it made me sad beyond words. Yet, there was always that horrible fear I had in trusting someone else with my chastity, my faithfulness. I had seen people I trusted, those who were supposed to teach me things like love, chastity, faithfulness, and honesty do some of the most horrific things. I wasn’t going to be anyone’s victim, so I’d act out in ways I thought would give me control. Instead, I became an asshole, not to be trusted, and ruined some of the most beautiful experiences of my life.

And, yes, I played the victim. I was not, I was the victimizer who had grown a false strength through playing the victim. I thought I had an excuse when, in fact, all I really had was a choice.

It’s hard for me to write about these things given my current state of being. My life has changed so dramatically from then until now. I look back on the casual and not-so-casual debris that litters the fields on which I’ve walked and feel a tinge of sadness. Such sadness is only tempered by the realization that nothing in this life is permanent, especially when a man realizes his own power of choice, and the power of his own agreements.

A coward is not always a coward. Sometimes he just needs to find something to fight for. Similarly, misdirected people are not always misdirected. Sometimes we can finally take the compass out of our pocket and find our true direction. At some point and time the voices that send us off on wild goose chases can be replaced by our own strong, steady voice and our choices reflect the power in our purpose, the strength in our hearts, and the truth of our being.

All of us are, after all, liars. We hide feelings that make us vulnerable, or temper our opinions in the fear of offending others. We choose to wear suits when all we want is to put on sweats, or heels when all we want is a good pair of slippers. We stay in relationships that no longer serve us, often catering to voices not our own, trying desperately to make them happy.

Which begs a question. Do we even trust ourselves? Are we so busy wondering if we can trust the other person that we’ve lost sight of the fact that we no longer trust ourselves? Have we become so accustomed to hearing the voices of others in our head that we no longer hear our own?

How many of us have caved to a fear later proven unjustified? How many of us have fallen in love and never told the object of our affection? How many of us never even board a plane to jump out of, even though free-falling through the air is all we can think about? How many of us tell ourselves that we have no choice but to work for the bastard who refuses to pay us what we are worth, or that women deserve less money than men, or that all blacks must be doing something wrong to be harassed by the police?

I know, I am getting off on a tangent. I guess my point in doing so is to show us all that not one of us can truly throw a stone at an accused, and that not one of us lives in a house completely devoid of glass.

That’s not to say we must keep liars and cheaters in our lives, or maintain an abusive relationship with a liar and cheater because we, too, are liars. Instead, we must do what is best for us out of pure love for ourselves and, yes, for the person lying and cheating. They may, like me, have to lose everything in order to gain the truth of who they are. Suffering is a wonderful springboard to great things if we simply choose to focus less on the suffering, and more on the lessons that suffering is there to provide.

There is hope. If I can transform from a lying cheater into a man of principle and honesty anyone can. It’s about self-love. I love myself so much that I see nothing wrong with my truth. In fact, I see each example of fear that predated this transformation as something that was completely necessary, something I needed to experience for some purpose yet to be uncovered. I can’t change anything I’ve ever done. All I can do is understand what purpose the experience brought into my life, and what I should do with the lessons I have learned.

Remember, all of us are transformed from perfect, loving, honest babies into something else. If this is true, we can transform those parts of us that make us unhappy simply by choosing to and then practicing something different.

Today, when I am told I’m an asshole, it’s for a far different reason than in the past. I’m usually too honest, and people often don’t want to hear the truth or the way I offer it. I have not yet learned the subtle art of telling the truth without giving someone a blade to cut themselves, but I am trying. I don’t mean for my words, my thoughts, or my truth to hurt you, and I realize I can’t. All I can do is be me, what you decided to do with that is your business.

I am, yours, in complete honesty and truth. I’m mastering my own voice, not yours, so the process is a bit new to most, especially the easily offended. Still, I trust in the journey, and realize all I ever need do is tell the truth of me in the moment. There is great power there.

photo by:

The Sweet Smell of Destruction

Photo by Tom Grasso
Photo by Tom Grasso

Sometimes we believe that destruction is a bad thing, that it is painful, hurtful, the end of something. Yet, as an incense stick proves, utter destruction will release a sweet fragrance. It can be our practice to find it, embrace it, and allow it a sense of its own eternity.

We can, always, choose to not focus on the burning but on the release. We can, always, choose to not grasp the fiery end of transformation but just let it be, and then focus on the wafts of sweetness that are always there in the change. We can, always, choose which end of destruction to embrace; the end that burns us or the end that reminds us of heaven.

Your choice. Your life. Your experience. Enjoy it. In joy.

Peace.

Goodbye, Dear Friend. Thank you for the lessons.

“Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.” ~don Miguel Ruiz.

She drinks too much, and I know it. Through the multiple 2am calls of slurred speech it became painfully obvious. The countless tears and broken promises only supported the contention that I was, forever, losing my friend.

She would call for help, and I would lose sleep and little bits of me giving it to her. She would cry, scream, and then sit idly quiet for minutes at a time. Then came the question, and the answer she wanted to hear only so she could start the cycle all over again.

Sometimes she was coherent, but mostly she wasn’t. One time she knocked on my apartment door and fell inside when I answered it, reeking of the disgusting combination of alcohol, sweat and cigarettes. She knelt where she fell, sobbing uncontrollably about all of the ills she saw as uniquely hers. When the sobbing stopped she reached for my manhood, telling me she wanted to get me off for “being such a good friend.”

I declined, and kicked her out of my apartment after getting her car keys from her. I yelled at her to sleep it off, and that I’d talk to her when she had sobered up. I watched her stumble to her car, at which time I use the remote to unlock the doors so she could climb into her back seat. I then locked the car, uttered a silent intention for her safety, and went to bed.

At 5am I was woken up by her knocking at the door. I invited her in, and made her some tea. She sat there, apologizing, telling me about the events that led up to her drunken stupor. These were excuses, of course, because her destination was always the bottle, but watching her create these grand schemes forcing her to drink herself into oblivion were both painful and fascinating at the same time. She had a fantastic wit when it suited her addiction, a wit she’d purposely dull in order to be unnoticeable in the room when sober.

After a short time she left. It was the last time I would see my friend again physically. She would call all of the time, always drunk beyond description and completely out of her mind. She’d ask me about meditation, about awareness, about how to heal, and my answer was always the same:

“You’ll heal when you make the choice to heal, and evidence of that choice will be in your arriving at a therapist’s office, or a rehab center somewhere. I’ll drive you if you want.”

That would be met with momentary silence, and then a powerful diatribe of profanity and insults. Most she directed at me, some she directed at her. I always had the feeling that she was looking in a mirror somewhere, shouting all of these insults at that reflection. Sometimes tears would form and make their way down my cheek. Sometimes I’d threaten to call the authorities. Sometimes, I’d just hang up.

The last time I talked to her was typical. My cell ringtone woke me from a dead sleep, and the combination of my own fatigue coupled with her own inability to talk made for an interesting beginning to this particular conversation. The words weren’t much different, but she seemed a bit off. Even for her.

“I’ve taken some downers,” she finally admitted. I sighed.

“How many?” I answered.

“Just a few. You have nothing to worry about.”

More insanity followed, finally by the icing on the proverbial cake.

“I’m coming over there and I’m going to fuck you.”

“No, you’re not,” I answered tersely.

“I’m such a loser that I throw myself at you and you won’t take me.”

“I think you are a winner. The alcohol and drugs? Well, not so much.”

“Fuck you, asshole…”

More insults and names, none of which I could take very personally. I cared for her, as a friend, and would sit there with her until she got tired of the bullshit. I would not take a thing she was saying personally. That really seemed to piss her off.

Finally, after a few minutes of trying, she had enough.

“Just go fuck yourself,” she yelled. “I’m done with you. You can’t make me feel this way. You can’t just reject me and get away with it. You’re a piece of shit, and I can’t believe I wanted you anyway. I’m too good for you.”

Then the click. I was used to the click, what I wasn’t used to was the lack of her apologetic call the next morning.

A week went by when I got the news. It came from a Facebook friend who she thought would be my “perfect match.” That friend, however, was engaged to be married. I laughed at the mistake.

“She’s dead,” read the message.

“What?”

“Her organs shut down and she passed away. She drank herself to death. Her funeral is this weekend.”

I just sat there. I can’t say I was shocked, but I was stunned. Apparently, she had never sobered up, then slipped into unconsciousness and died. Her life and her potential both snuffed out yet fully realized in long moment of suffering.

“Thank you,” were my last words on the subject.

It took me a while to allow the experience to settle. I lit an incense stick, sat on my meditation pillow, and just let everything swirl and fall into place.

In the end, I realized love. I loved my friend, so much that I let her be even as I tried to help her with her suffering. I would offer her the information she requested while letting her choose what to do with it. I would try to pick her up when she fell, fully realizing that sometimes she just needed to sit in her own stew. I let her be her, never judging her as much as I reflected on my own reactions to her. I’d only leave her when her path was too much for me, when she seemed intent on carrying me back into the proverbial burning house.

In the end she felt I rejected her, but I know I didn’t. She offered many beautiful things to the world, and I had embraced them with such dedication that I had no room for the darkest parts. I let dark areas linger around us because she wanted them to, but they were rarely the things I saw. I knew many beautiful things about my friend, and in my truth, in my compassion, in my love, I could not let what I saw as darkness enter.

Sometimes it’s not dark at all. Sometimes my eyes are closed.

When she was hungry, I gave her food while always allowing her the choice to eat. When she was thirsty, I gave her something to drink while always protecting her right to choose whether or not to drink it. When she was naked, I gave her clothes, always allowing her the choice to put them on. She, in turn, gave me insights that will always serve me if I’d only choose to use them.

In the end, I gave her the best of me while always honoring her choice on whether or not to accept. I believe she also gave me the best of her while always honoring my own choice to accept or not.

In the end, she made her choice on how to end her experience. While I might not agree with it, I realize that is my problem, not hers. Maybe at some level she did hear me. I can almost hear her contort my words to suit her own needs, and I chuckle a bit at the wisdom.

“I will destroy my body if I so choose. Your acceptance of this is not mandatory nor necessary.”

She would be right, of course. Well played, my friend. Well played.

I sometimes wonder if I just didn’t get the fact that not only did she understand what I was saying to her, but that she was a tremendous student. She’d often say that she loved my philosophy of living, and her questions always seemed to be directed at exactly how to live it. We’d talk about the Four Agreements, and how the essence of suffering is found in the strength it provides, both in its experience and in its survival.

“We just need to stop seeing suffering as so ‘bad’. Then we can discover its true value and we can ride that wonderful wave for all its worth,” I’d say to her often. She didn’t object as much as most do when I describe suffering in this way. Perhaps she understood much better than I gave her credit for.

It’s been almost a year since she passed, and I’ll admit there’s been more than a few times I’d wake up at 2am, half expecting the phone to ring. It doesn’t, of course, and I often smile at the expectation. There are times when I will sit in stillness and honor her memory, not as some wayward person on the path to self-destruction, but as another in a line of great Masters that have been in my life to which I gently bow in honor. I only hope I’ve been a student equal to their task.

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