Privilege

What is privilege after all?
Is it something you own
or does it in fact own you?

Actually the privilege you have
exists only by comparison to someone else.
It is not otherwise a thing
in itself.

Yet we have somehow come
to consider it an important and
valuable aspect of who we are.

You may not brag about it
or consciously think you are
better because of it.

But stop for a moment.

Consider all the people and places
NOT on your wish list for trading
what you think you have.

Perhaps you aspire in some way
to "trade up" as it were - might
be difficult to find someone
interested in considering your offer.

So what to do with it?
If you are curious, I would offer that
you might learn to see through
whatever way in which you find yourself
privileged compared to others.

See through to where
you can acknowledge and appreciate
all the myriad ways in which you
and these others are the same

Perhaps slowly, carefully, not all at once,
allow some degree, of reveling
in the extraordinary sameness
you share with them.

This is called connection,
and connection trumps privilege
any day.

photo: linen bobbin lace figure
by Luba Krejči 1966

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A Sea Change

gave me the space to realize
we are currently at war
or very nearly there

Yet we continue to assume,
to blame, to ignore.
Hard to imagine in a time when
so much information is available
we choose (it really is a choice)
to assume, to blame, to ignore.

Friends and colleagues who are busy
with their lives,
Hard working people who are scraping by,
Young people disillusioned or disaffected
(as we all were at some point) realizing
fairytale endings rarely happen and
our history doesn't always make us proud.

All who feel to some degree
it's someone else's job
to clean up the mess.

I find myself searching for a sign to tell me
that everything is going to come out all right

And then I remember how young a species
we really are,
I imagine we are still fumbling in our youth,
not sure of our path ahead and what skills we will need
or what successes actually look like.

Which is why the sea changing
from calm to turbulent has led me
to this place of reflection

Anticipating that I am at risk if I attempt
to go into the sea by myself,
I need the help of others to make my way through
breaking waves amidst coral rocks

I cannot assume the return of calm,
I cannot blame the sea for being true to its nature,
I cannot ignore the crashing water and jagged rocks.

I cannot bring about a sea change.
But with more people around me
maybe together we can weather the change
and keep ourselves from going under.

Change is, after all, the nature of things.
Sea changes are just bigger and
require more of us to meet the challenge.

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A Great Sadness and…

Like a wave that you don't see coming
or one that you expect to be less powerful
than it turns out to be,

A force that sends you rolling upside down
or pushed to your knees
leaves you wondering which way is up and
how to get yourself back to solid ground.

This is how I feel being pummeled
by wave after wave of media headlines and reporting
that seems to augur an impending, inescapable doom.

There is a wave of extremism seeking to
punish women, people of color, immigrants,
registered voters and so many others of us
who hold tight to a life in a democracy and 
who value the rule of law.

It is a denial of our shared humanity.

It is also, in fact, cruel and inhuman treatment
of the people with whom we share this planet.

It is a source of Great Sadness and...


It is also a Call to Action.

To remember that we have agency even when
we feel overwhelmed,

To remember that it is a minority in this country
that wish to control us in this way,
and we are MANY who stand against this wave.

We must be lifeguards for one another.

Working together we can do this.

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The Color of Today





This day is a day
where the color of the sky 
and the bay are the same

It's a soft gray
where the edge of the sky blends
with the horizon line of the bay

It feels a bit upside down

As if I too could blend right in
and lose myself in 
the softness of this gray landscape

Would that be so bad?
To be held by the bay and the sky
in a liminal space?

Would that be so different really
from the space I occupy 
right now?

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Trusting Intention

I've begun to appreciate
how my writing and my spoken word
both offer mirrors

I've had glimpses 
of this working, noticing
how intention finds a way to express itself

You may have had someone suggest that you
Trust the Process,
but suppose that trusting 
is itself the process?

I can have in my mind an idea of what 
I want to say or write and the more
I think about it, 
the more opaque it remains 

If instead I allow my attention
to drop down into my body,
I can simply be present
to the intention I hold

It is, however, a process that only works
when I trust that my intention is clear

Speaking and writing from
a place of intention reveals
the most meaningful representation 
of who we are

Trusting my intention can bring forth
words that mirror what's true for me

I suspect it may reveal what's true for you as well.  
 

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Zen Moments

It's a wonder sometimes
how questions position themselves 
in my mind,
seeming to emerge 
from the depths of me

Am I seeking something
truer than the breath I draw
or the smell of a flower?
More real than the purring 
of a cat beneath my hand?

Perhaps the answer can be found
tucked inside the pages of a book,
years after having been put there.
Is it as true now as it seemed then?

Is it a measure of trust that
gives us the strength to stand 
and take the next step forward?

The answers are so much less important
than the questions, which are themselves
nothing more than 
whatever you need them to be.

Everything is of a moment.
The more appreciated moments you have,
the less you need to question,
the less you need to be seeking answers,
the more the answers will reveal themselves.

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Night Voices and Visions

Our minds at night
continue the path
we have walked during the day.

Our sense may be that
the mind sleeps as our body does,
refreshing and renewing itself.

Alas this isn't quite the way it works.

When first settling into rest
what follows may be Reflections on this Day,
often accompanied by an accounting
and judgments about what went well and what did not.

It's a review written by the mind
sometimes focused on particulars,
other times offering a more general take away.

How we move on to letting go the thoughts
to allow sleep the room it needs
depends much on our emotional attachment 
to such evaluations.

Sleep comes and sleep goes.
At times awakening occurs several hours later
maybe for some physical sensation that interferes 
or perhaps the ending of a dream.

Whatever causes the shift back to conscious sensing
the return to sleep may take a pause,
stirring the Midnight Voice to alertness
and then it's off and running.

This is the voice that targets
our most vulnerable parts,
telling us you can't or you're not 
or how are you going to...

Perhaps it's the emergence
of some longing unfulfilled.
Whatever direction it takes 
consumes the space that sleep requires.

We may be left struggling with unfulfilled 
efforts where we pretend to be asleep.
Or at some point the Midnight Voice fades
to permit sleep to take its rightful place.

The mind continues it's night journey
awake or asleep, begging not to be controlled.
It resists our efforts to direct or censor. 

When we return to wakefulness and 
if we are not propelled immediately 
into the day

When we are allowed to linger 
in a liminal space, 
we may be treated to an
Early Morning Retrospective.

This is the mind's slow walk
among the shadows and embers
of our past lives.

Unfolding itself scene by scene,
moving from one episode to the next,
we may choose to stop and hang out 
with one or another.

Sometimes I wonder if this Early Morning Retrospective
happens only when you've reached a certain age,
having accumulated enough material to 
shift the balance between time past 
and anticipated future time.

Dear reader, can it be that I have now 
revealed more about my age than I intended...
  












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Inclining the Heart

A phrase captures my attention
and before I can register
the intention behind it

My mind carries it off
to places I didn't 
ask to go to

"Inclining the heart" is one such phrase.

I expect that my mind will make up a story
to embellish the phrase 
and yet I am convinced that this 
is not the mind's business.

Inclining the heart happens
when the whole body leans into,
pivoting to lend the weight of our core
to the task or issue at hand.

The mind just needs to quiet itself
and be present to what's happening.

Most important is that the heart
need only begin with a softening toward.
A full-court press is not required.
You needn't wait until all your
ducks are in alignment.

Turn toward and allow.
You can tell when this happens
because the chatter dissolves, 
along with the judgments, the stories 
and the what ifs.

They don't stay away forever.
And should they intrude and distract,
which they will,
claim your heart space as your center.

Take a deeper breath,
lean in 
and see what happens.

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The Stories We Inhabit

We all have stories.
Some of them are true.
Many of them are real
but not necessarily true.

Taken together they make up
who we hold ourselves to be -
in the past, in anticipating the future,
and as we breathe in and out 
in this present moment.

These stories don't exist independently from us.
We are the ones who keep 
breathing life into them.

We are the ones who offer them power.
Oh these stories are such a burden.
Oh this story brings such guilt and shame.
Oh how to escape my past.
Oh why can't this be like it used to be.

Not all are dark and shadowed.
Some indeed are light and uplifting, 
but have you ever noticed how 
shadows often obscure the sun?

This question I would pose to you -
How might we meet these stories head on?
Do we invite them in to take a seat?
Do we let them hide in the closet 
and come out whenever they choose?

Naming them is a way to 
shift your perspective, 
create some distance and
make some space around the story.
 
You can acknowledge a story 
but set limits on when it can intrude 
and when it needs to back off.

This is more than a delicate dance. 
 It can be a way to interrupt the pattern
 of responding that keeps a story alive.

And if you don't quite understand
what I mean by "story" -
Well then, that's another story...
   


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Bird Migration

Yesterday in the rain while walking
through Union Square park
a huge flock of pigeons
startled me as they all lifted up in flight
circling round and round
the statue that overlooks
the center of the park.

The birds broke into smaller formations,
swirling this way and that.
Some crossed each other's path,
weaving back and forth as if riding air currents
until slowly, gradually, they all landed on the ground
in the center of the park.

It was really quite a display
and I wondered
Was there a purpose to their flight?
Or was it just for fun?
Were they following a leader?
Or rehearsing for a show?
Should I have applauded?

Or is it that since these New York City pigeons
do not migrate, their DNA still nudges them 
to touch into their migratory skills 
now and then
and show off to those of us who think 
we know all there is to know
about pigeons in the park. 

 

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