1. I'm not as anti-Christmas as I thought I was. Normally I wouldn't be here. I'd be somewhere sultry and exotic and as far away from the shopping hordes as possible. Somewhere like Quetzaltenango, Guatemala or sea-kayaking in New Zealand or Phi Phi Island, Thailand or tracking jaguar paw prints along the beach of Corcovado, Costa Rica or... Quite often for six or seven or nine weeks at a time.
I don't do Xmas cards or Xmas trees or Xmas gifts. I'm more likely to give you a gift out of the blue on September 19th or July 1st, than December 25th.
If I go as far back as I can recall, I remember the first Christmas I spent in Miami I wrote a story and personally illustrated and hand-bound with yarn. While at some levels I moved up in the world trading in bermuda grass for the asphalt playgrounds of Newark, I was nostaglic for snow. So my story revolved around the gleeful first snowfall in Miami and it occured on Christmas day.
"Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love." - Hamilton Wright Mabie
As gifts, I enjoyed making and giving handmade art books of my favorite Christmas carols scribed as lovingly as the monks penned the Book of Kells. Fine, I exaggerate, perhaps as devotional as any nine-year-old or eleven-year-old can be. (In one of your lifetimes, you must go to Trinity College in Dublin and drink of the Book of Kells for yourself.)
I think as I feel my pagan spirit reasserting itself, and I am more attuned to seasons and the earths' tides and the moons' crescents, this winter has made me realize that I thought I could (and wanted to) escape the stripping, raw, stark somber radiant quietude of this season of my lifecycle. What a blessing to stay home it has been.
2. I was Ugly Betty. Although I don't watch TV (you already know that), I've seen Ugly Betty grace the covers of magazines while I stand in line at the grocery counter. So I look at her on that cover and this is what I see: Hispanic girl with long dark hair (mine was far frizzier, hey it's humid in Miami), braces (hers are more fashionable than mine), glasses, socially awkward and painfully shy, her parents probably won't buy her the right (read: expensive) brand of jeans either, no doubt excels in mathematics and chemistry, hangs out in the library and reads Charles Dickens and Jane Austen for fun... Check.
I was a late bloomer then. And in every aspect of Beauty still am today. I'm finally okay with that.
"A garden's beauty does not diminish with age; rather it takes years for it to become all that it can become." - John and Stasi Eldredge, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul
3. I'd rather read erotica at an open-mic than (gasp) a prayer. Alright I'm ultra-shy reading erotica in public too, but I've made myself do it. I was walking past an Asian man sitting comfortably in the lobby of The Palace Hotel during Web 2.0 on my way out the door with Stowe Boyd. And in the corner of my eye, I spot him reading The Energy of Prayer by Thich Nhat Hanh . My first impression: "Whoa, that takes guts to be here out in the wide open with that book."
I received The Energy of Prayer from a publicist in June. Normally I get business books sent for potential review, nothing like this. What a timely gift that book was.
Prayer adds a devotional awestruck wondrous quality to life. I think the most unsettling part of the book I started drafting in May was that the sex read like prayer, and the prayer read like making love. I usually speak from metaphor and symbol, yet even in the literal it totally made sense to me, but I worry about what they would think.
So, whew, there you have it. I love writing prayers (no specific religion, in the "prayer and a candle", "my religion is love" vein) and I am going to be working with a visual artist and maybe musicians to illustrate, to sing the prayers I pen.
4. In a past life, I was a minstrel. Gulp, first prayer. Now, past life recall? I
believe know only thought reincarnates, yet on the relative realm, I can when and if I'm not freaked out by clairvoyance get downloads of bits and pieces of the so-called 'past' and 'future'.
I have a soul fashioned for wandering, for courtly love ("winning one's heart, not the bed" and I picture Dante and Beatrice or Vittoria Colonna and Michelangelo), and for sound, vibration, voice, the sway of rhythm, poetics, the shared word.
When I'm not blogging, my writing tends to be lyrical. Leaning towards a Beat-poet jazz-improv style that's impossible to skim and difficult to grasp. I think you just listen aloud like a symphony and forget about whether you capture each metaphor, since the next note is coming right up. As it gets difficult to grasp onto, your mind surrenders and maybe, just maybe, is lulled into the Gap.
Even though today the first thing I see when I open the front door is a piano (my housemate's a musician), I realize I have effectively managed to shut music off from my entire life.
No more - the music of the spheres has permanently seeped in and the Muses want to play.
- Ar em al freg temps vengut
- quel gels el neus e la fainga
- el aucellet estan mut,
- c'us de chanter non s'afrainga;
- Now we are come to the cold time
- when the ice and the snow and the mud
- and the birds' beaks are mute
- (for not one inclines to sing) - attributed to 12th c. Azalais de Porcairaques
5. I walked the streets this year. That's practically all I did. From Phuket to Khao Lak to Colombo to Galle to Palo Alto to Los Gatos and many parts in between, I spent almost every part of this year offline talking and observing more people face-to-face than I have my entire life previous. Punctuated by extremely brief spurts of blogging, and a few emails that required attention (I'm notoriously always behind). Not watching YouTube, not scouring Techmeme, pretty much not any of it if it involved booting up a laptop and staring at a screen instead of a person.
"Do you know that conversation is one of the greatest pleasures in life?" - Somerset Maugham
My neo-Luddite phase is behind me and I like how Peter Hamlin in Dialogue: The Fine Art of Conversation puts it:
can either be used for more efficient isolation or more meaningful intimacy
is an opportunity to further develop this theme
I think that's what I care about intensely these days, intimacy and relationships and god I hate that word, but whatever, social capital. Not the kind of social capital that scores you an executive post at a Silicon Valley start-up (but not excluding that either) but the kind of social capital that sustains us together as humans. The kind of social capital where a neighbor that knows your name walks up to your door to enthusiastically show you the new robin on the block through their binoculars, or that time you've got a sore throat and a cold, a so-called homeless stranger you just met texts you: "would ice cream make it better?"
Teahouses historically connote "social intimacy." So I don't think I've ever blurted this out in so many words online yet: I'm opening sometime somehow next year a teahouse that will be a hub, a nexus, a salon for the virtual and the visceral, media and the immediate, art and life.
"In contrast to the West, where tea is marked by its aristocratic associations, in the East tea is a dietary staple for one and all, and a sign of hospitality even in the humblest of surroundings. Chinese tea houses, India's roadside tea stalls, Afghan chaikhanas, and the little cafes of Turkey and Egypt are democratic and lively - the opposite of tea rooms in Europe... From the Mediterranean to the Pacific, teas are as varied as the people they unite. - Sangmanee, Kitti Cha et al, The Little Book of Tea
YOU'VE BEEN TAGGED: I'd love to hear 5 Things from Jennifer Rice of What's Your Brand Mantra, David Chamberlain of Exquisite Safaris, Dan Oestreich of Unfolding Leadership, Siona van Dijk of Zaadz, and Senia at Senia.com. (Trust me it doesn't need to be near as wordy as mine!)
Bonus: Same wavelength! Today Siona shares this pagan-prayer-poem on tea by, who else, Thich Naht Nanh. (Why, of course, she is Zaadz's Synchronicity Coordinator.)
Drink Your Tea.
Drink your tea slowly and reverently,
as if it is the axis
on which the world earth revolves -
slowly, evenly, without
rushing toward the future;
live the actual moment.
Only this is life.
- Thich Naht Hanh
p.s. You gotta love Google. I search for the book, "Dialogue: The Fine Art of Conversation" and the first result is: