I don´t know if anybody likes being born. Most babies come in crying.
I’m pretty positive I really didn’t like being born, because every year exactly one week before my birthday, I suddenly drop into a state of serious state of emotional upheaval. Year after year, instead of going into a celebratory mood, some prophecy drops the ball into my lake of shadows. Memories resurface, unanswered dreams knock the waters.
This year is no exception. I forget about this sort of unique week until of course, it hits. I’ve experienced many baseline emotions as deep as they come in my life, but this particularly murky ripple of the birthday countdown is nothing like any of those feelings. It can’t be pinned to a sense of enjoyment or lack of, in ways one would normally identify and rebound. Rather, another force has taken over, is slowly puling the carpet from underneath my groundless feet, bringing me back into an abyss of emotions, dreams, desires, unmet conscious and unconscious longings . Like the vexed artist, this simmering, rendering, reviewing, and gathering, is an uncomfortable encounter with my deepest and most hidden self. This is the self, I gather, whose dissatifaction of being born, whose exposure to unnaturalness and forced assimilation into a role, which became a patterned, defined Self, asks for freedom.
I never seemed to agree to fully inhabit my body, and lived the majority of my life dreaming, reading volumes of fiction novels, and managing to ignore or override all the aspects of life which felt unnatural or uncomfortable – until a certain point when I had no choice to start facing them. Neverthless, I managed to experience one sprinkle in the rainstorm of awakening as an absent-minded 7-year-old on the softball field. I really loathed this particular sport in a competitive sense, and was put as far away from the game as possible – in the outfeild behind 3rd base. Obviouslly, our coach shifted us kids around, but I loved being outfield – permission to stare at the meadow or pick at my glove granted. In this particular moment, I was picking at my glove, paying no attention whatsoever to the game my parents forced upon me every other year, when suddenly – WHOOMP! A moment of total distorition: a fly ball landed in my glove, knocking out all the runners, and ending the inning! Shocked by the sudden force of the ball against the soft leather covering my palm, I looked up into the bright clear sunny blue sky, knowing I was not the one playing the game after all. I was momentarily overwhemled with a sense of mysticism and mystery.
I think individually, reflecting on the times we grew up, there is something that we are particularly grateful for, as well as something that was a troubling and deep struggle, which we have had to spend many years working to forgive as adults. I can for sure say something i value most about what my parents did – or didn’t do – was impose religion on my sister and I in any light. We were raised Jewish, but the kind of Judiasm we cultivated was about as holy and fun as the County Fair. My parents coined it us ‘cultural Jews,’ as the crux of our gatherings were delicious meals with friends a few times a year. Charoset (a tasty apple + cinnamon concoction) and Matzoballs for Passover, Latkahs for Hannukah, golden coins, and storytime – that was my perception. Having been an avid reader of fables and stories since a young age, the way the stories were so casually and jovially read and shared – not to mention skipped over in leiu of steaming food and hungry bellies – hardly felt much different from a formal, storytime picnic. My parents were both forced to go to Hebrew school as kids, and never wanted us to have to go if we didn’t want to – and who wants to sit in class on a Saturday after 5 days of school? My mom did take us to temple a couple times a year for the experience, but we were free to leave the building when we pleased, and liked the songs and stories anyways. Needless to say, we were never implacated with any beliefs of another power whatsoever. I know this freedom from thought for any sort of dogmatic set of rules created the perfect setting for me to be drawn to spirituality without much conflict about Truth.
My life has been guided in ways that bring me right to where I need to be – although I fought against it and became weak and sick for many years. People in a level of awakening beyond our own basic recognition remind us that we incarnated into a specific body, in a specific way, and into a specific family so we could carry out our ‘soul design’ and live the ultimate calling of our soul’s desires. Our ‘soul’ is part of the One soul of the Universe, and its needs often do not align with what we think we want for ourselves. People genereally discover this at some point in life, and depending how far they’ve gone into another direction, are able to rekindle aspects of their distant knowing and embody what creation is manifesting through them as a creator in their own own right. All of us are born to create, and we are all good at or drawn to executing a uniqueness which both contibutes to a larger picture, and helps in our own journey into peace, wisdom, clarity, and inner-knowing. All of us are drawn to guidance and comfort in arenas where we aren’t able to grasp the rudimentary understand ourselves — often our friends, pets, role models, or an interest in learning more helps form the path we take ourselves.
My parents certain rules regarding no TV, reading books, playing outside, among others, absolutely served to keep me in a dreamy magical place mentally so I would always stay connected with the magical feeling that life was more beautiful, sweet, and deeply connected then I could understand. Regardless, like everyone, I experienced many terrible, unhealthy, and heart-wrenching situations where I learned to retreat inside, and developed a more complex relationship with the disatisfaction of living the way society limits and falsifies our lives.
Pursuing peace and happiness for the world was the object of my life initially. My mother showed us what it meant for others when we gave time or money we had earned to help where and when others really needed it. Volunteering is something I grew up with, and felt as normal to me as playing sports in terms of involvement or activites outside of school. And yet, after spending hours and hours of my time helping others as well as pursuing my own quest for happiness, I slowly began to fall into the despair so many of us know in leiu of the reality we see and hear abour so grim. After losing one friend after another over many years to the brutal circumstances of cliques and the lessons of life itself, I began to hone in on the meaning of life and quest for happiness before I reached University age – finding no solace in partying, dating, or wasting time on what I felt was an aimless waste of activities. I felt angry and disconnected, and sensed a separation from a vastness in the Universe which I couldn’t connect to and wasn’t sure existed beyond imagination.
The 2nd, elongated encounter I had with spirituality developed, ironically, in the land of Israel. Trying to pursue my major abroad (Enligh Lit) offered two cities to choose from – London and Haifa, Israel. Haifa interested me because of a the central Baha’i Center – a faith which accepts all cultures and religions – and hence seemed to serve as an ideal model within a country of such vexed physical and spiritual separation. I had not imagined most citizens of this particular city, which toted itself as a limelight for peacefully coexhiting cultures, to adhere to the guidlines of a prohecy from long ago, continuing to vex its armed muscles and entrench all the outliers unsuitable for its presence into the dangerously shadowy corners of its heart. I felt distrubed and jarred from what I initially imagined to be a balanced place of centeredness and reverential revolution. I felt separate from the University group of study abroad students soon after arrival, seeing how everyone, save one or two girls, were totally bound to and served the underlying goals of the region – but in an unconscious manner. Very nice people, but being completely exploratory in my own life, I was able to quickly see so many limitations they had unkowlingly adhered to and imposed upon each other as well.
Friday and Saturday was the weekend at University, and Sunday served as a Monday since everyone honored the Shabbos. Everyone save for we study-abroad University students who were used to having Sunday off – and so we did. Sundays served as my free day to explore the hills and mountains of the National Park surrounding the school grounds. It was here, in these meadows and fields, within the crevices of trees, rays of sun, and sweet drops of light rain, where the Divine revealed itself as I wandered.
I was never vying for something there, on the mountain. It was a simple easeful way for me to escape the heavy energy of a patriarchal-like sense of imbalance that loomed over the whole University, and radiated from many people I met or observed. I put my headphones in and joined with the valleys, the peaks, the trees, and the dry grasses; passed by the old man herding goats in the slanted, late-afternoon rays of firey gold, or noted the peaceful family smoking shisha under the shade of an emerald olive orchard. I saw farm animals, wild-flowers, the ocean on a clear afternoon, or the misty patches of green floating between invisible dips on a rainy one. My music seemed to perfectly compliment the mood and sentiment – often shuffling into a track that described exactly what I had passed by or what I was feeling or thinking in that moment. Many days, I saw no one or nothing at all – it was silent, the silence that glows and reminds you of a peace that once created the Beginning – before we fell into war and guns and thoughtless, mindless hearts. Other times, I encountered something which felt sacred, mystic, or so out of the ordinary, the only notably similar sentiment came artificially created from melting into pages of fantastic novels – ones from which you die just a little when the story is over. Every Sunday I was there on the mounatin, mostly alone. Although it was a sizable mountain, it wasn’t giant, and after awhile it would have seemed I’d come to know it all – after all, there were only a set number of carved paths. The mountain had predictable landscape – it was on the same latitude line as my Southern California hometown, and thus exhibited a very smiliar look and feel. Yet, occasionally, I encountered magical places in the hills – ones I had passed by many many times – only to discover something extraordinary.
One time, there was a waterfall – a family with many children playing in its cascade – which showed no signs of existing the same day when i returned up the same path; and a fairy ring with beautiful plants and mosses i imagine exist in Ireland, that was not even possibly relatable to any other flora anywhere else in the national park before or after the sighting. I had so many moments on that mountain, whose silence encapsulated me into its own world – a lifelike form of power and magic to awaken my confused and seeking heart to the possibilities of a greater beyond of Itself. There were, of course, many aspects of the energy of Israel itself that contributed to my energetic decombustion. Writing it now, I see that this was essentially my first opportunity – born our of cirucumstance – to long-term disconnect from society, and plug into my internal world while being supported by the land itself. Encounters with the Divine were reflected not only in the land, but mirrored amongst people, places, and teachings that suddenly made sense – a resonance.
Many things happened throughout my life, and my intensified efforts to find and seek peace and happiness within myself. Working and trying so hard in so many parts led, of course, to the giant dips, when I felt listless and careless. I didn’t want to do it anymore – it was enough. The void felt so promising…
I had dabbled with yoga for a time, and after Israel, in the fall, finally conncted with a studio and practice which adhered me to the Path. But there was one moment, the moment of surrender, which lit the way to the life I have lived ever since.
It was late, deep in the late of night, and I was again, sinking heavily in the sogginess of efforts that didn’t reap the flavor I had sought. I had surrendered, again and again I felt, only to pick myself up and keep walking. Lying there, all of a sudden, in a state of deep stillness, I burst into the Universe – the velvet darkness, all the dimmly lit starts. A voice spoke to me – and it clearly said something like:
This is not real. Society is not real. You don’t have to follow the rules – none of it matters in the way you have been told. It’s the game. You choose, you play the game according to how you want to live. Do what makes you happy. You are free – do whatever you want.
I was stunned – but I felt estatic. My belief system of following those rules was shattered. I immediately considered how where in life I felt the most joy and excitement – from school to sports to internships, jobs to relationships, and various ways of living. Two stood out clearly – traveling and practicing yoga. From that moment on I decided that no matter what anybody said, I would travel and teach yoga for the rest of my life.
Yoga means union. To teach is to spread, to share – to awaken the possibility of a state of mind beyond desire, beyond thought, beyond recognition – and most importantly, beyond the lie – into liFe.
So here I am, counting down to 29.