1/4: “Them or Me?”
Monday night, I dreamt that I was inside of my parents’ old house, crammed into a room with at least 25 other people. The close confines were spiking everyone’s stress levels, and the air was laced with tension. Without looking outside or turning on the news, I understood that we were all alive in some kind of post-apocalyptic world, and I also knew something else; we were all infected. It went like this: you bit a person, drawing blood, and then THAT person became infected; then they bit someone else, the same thing happened to the next person, and yadda yadda yah. Sounds like a pretty classic horror movie plot, right?
There was one man in the room who suspected that I was pretending to be infected, and he was correct. I was.
I exited the house slowly, slipping out of the side door, with a game plan to gtfo of the city as quickly and as quietly as possible. As I descended the porch stairs, our current president stepped in line beside me.
“I need to practice my shooting with a live target,” he shared calmly, his voice even and his tone reasonable. “Run.”
I looked over at him, absolutely shocked. Was he really… commanding me to die? For the sake of target practice? I can’t remember my exact words, but I protested. I pleaded with him.
But he insisted. “I need to practice; start running.”
I looked further out towards the road — we were out in the country, in rural Alabama — and I saw a person and three dogs, right there, maybe a hundred yards away. I paused.
2/4: Ek Ong Kar
I peed and then tip-toed into the room, wearing loose jeans, an outer space t-shirt, and tall socks that featured bunny rabbits. My best friend had stumbled upon them inside of a gas station.
“Welcome,” the instructor smiled at me. She was wearing white linen and sitting cross-legged with her blonde hair pulled back into a neat pony tail, looking mid 40s, warmhearted, and comfortable.
I smiled back, rolling my mat out onto the floor and feeling self-conscious over the dirt marks on it; Bruster. “It’s the dog’s fault,” I wanted to explain to the room, but I just flipped the mat over onto its somewhat cleaner side and then plopped down onto it, also cross-legged. I had a friend situated on either side of me.
The instructor explained to all of us that tonight’s kriya was going to stimulate the liver and the kidneys; it was going to help move toxins through the body; and it was also going to help us work through our frustrations, sadness, and fear.
Sounds perfect, I thought, inwardly grateful that I’d chosen to attend my first Kundalini class on this particular evening.
“We’re going to begin with a simple movement,” the instructor announced, standing upright and illustrating our starting pose. The movement went like this: stand up straight, and then bend the top half of your body downward so that its parallel with the ground. Secure your hands around the backs of your knees. Keep them there. Breathe in, poke your spine out; exhale, collapse your spine inward. Do this over and over and over and over.
We repeated this movement for a while, and then moved onto others (all in all, there were about 5-6). I looked over at my friends now and then to check in on them; “my fingers feel arthritic,” my girl friend said; “my elbows are on fire,” I responded.
“Picture the things you are afraid of, and the things that make you angry,” the instructor whispered. “As you exhale and swing your arms outward, picture pushing these things away.”
As I did so, I thought of all of the people; I questioned my self-worth; I accused myself of lacking purpose and direction; I wondered if I was living in the right state, the right home; I asked myself if I was a good person or a bad one and then asked why I feel like a stranger and a burden and a loser everywhere I go. Lay it all to rest, Jace, I thought to myself gently. You’ve exorcised these demons so many times before. Really try to let them all go this time. This yoga shit seems pretty magical, so maybe it’ll actually happen for you.
After an hour of vigorous The OA-reminiscent movements, some light chanting, and several still moments of quiet meditation, the instructor asked us to lie down on our mats while she played the gong. I’d been secretly eyeing it during times when I rebelliously left my eyes open.
“Close your eyes and let your mind melt into your body; then, let your whole body melt into the floor. Feel the reverberations of the gong move through you.”
They were quiet at first — the reverberations. They sounded distant, small. But then they swelled, and when they swelled, they compounded and overlapped, creating dissonant, corrosive waves and spirals that mercifully took me out of my mind. I felt like I was experiencing the very baseline of grief from every single life I’ve ever lived as well as the ones I’ve yet to live, all in a raw and jagged sequence. I cried, closing my eyes and seeing black and then opening my eyes and staring straight up at the low-lying, yellow-white ceiling, and with my eyes open or closed, the single lingering thought in my mind was, where did Bobby go?
One of the very last things we chanted (and it sounded more like a song than an emotionless, mono-toned chant) was Ek Ong Kar. Translations vary, but my favorite interpretation is this: the creator and the created are one. My friend had said something similar to me months ago, and it was: we are the universe’s way of observing itself. The two statements paired nicely.
“What you have been searching for,” the instructor murmured, just before the chant began, “is within you; this external power or source you’ve been seeking is right inside of you.”
I found this to be heartbreaking and wonderful. I’ve been lusting after the truth for so long, I sighed, and it’s so elusive — so completely impossible to pin down. But maybe it’s just always felt intangible because it’s so much more simple than I imagined it could be — maybe it IS just lying hopelessly dormant inside of me. I rolled my eyes at the austere ceiling. Now doesn’t that just sound new-agey as hell.
“Truth is my identity,” the instructor continued, translating the meaning behind another phrase, and this rang true to me. I repeated it to myself in a whisper; truth is my identity…
3/4: “Them or Me?” The Conclusion
Three dogs, one person; if I just point them out to him, he might agree to ‘practice’ on them instead.
I thought about it. I really considered it. But I just couldn’t do it.
I said nothing and took off running as fast as I could. I could feel him chasing me; feel his energy touching my back, hear his exhales in my ear. I reached the dogs, leaned down, and asked one of them: “Please debilitate him for me.” The dog understood and cut the man off over near some brush. Meanwhile, I jumped into my car and possibly escaped — I don’t know if I did or not, because at the precise juncture of maybe making it out alive, everything just sort of fell away.
I’ve so enjoyed keeping up with this blog; I think I’ve enjoyed it more than anyone. It’s helped me process through so much stuff; travel, break-ups, marriage, divorce, deaths, college, career changes, religious discoveries, and – most notably – the grand gender identity crisis of 2015-6. I’m so proud to be a girl. Now — whether this girl is gay or bisexual or 100%, full-blooded alien has yet to be determined, so stay tuned.
And I say stay tuned, but in actuality, what I’m trying to say is: I don’t know, I’m okay with not knowing, and goodbye. I planned on keeping up with this blog forever, because why not? It’s so therapeutic… it’s so interesting; it’s a wonderful and stable part of my weekly routine — a nice and easy exercise in writing, and one that helps me to develop that ‘part’ of my creative side. But I have three reasons for ceasing to blog, and each reason is a person.
- Without meaning to, I hurt my best friend, deeply, in my last blog post, where I gave a very clinical, stripped down and emotion-less synopsis of my trip to the Kingdom Hall. My yoga instructor said last night that, following a kriya, our words become more powerful, and she cautioned our group to only speak the truth and to only speak from the heart. But I believe that pre- or post-kriya, our words — spoken or written — are always powerful, and I hate the idea that any of the words that I have spoken or written have injured others. I took something that was sacred to this person and treated it like it was unremarkable; commonplace; unimportant. This insensitive jab may have been unintentional (I promise it was), but it was still unkind, and as much as I wish that good intentions were all that mattered, they aren’t.
- Driving home last night and discussing the blog, my other best friend (who was sitting in the passenger’s seat) mentioned something to me that really rattled my emotions. “Yeah — Chris complained, a few months ago, that you put a lot of stuff about him on your blog that he really wouldn’t want anyone to know about.” I gripped the steering wheel, feeling my spine harden and my neck tense up, and I was unable to speak for a moment. “He said that?” I asked. “Yes,” my friend confirmed. I felt a few things; first, anger, as in why the hell didn’t he just tell me, and then I felt guilt, as in how the hell did I never put myself in his shoes and imagine an ex-spouse spilling intimate details about MY life on the internet? And then I just felt sad. I could feel my arms discreetly slipping themselves back into the cold and heavy trench coat that’s always there, growing mold in the closet, and I so wasn’t ready to wear it again.
- During that same conversation, my best friend admitted that he’d read things on the blog that had bothered him, too. Things that had hurt his feelings and made him feel sad.
So there you have it; three of my most beloved people in the world shared that my blog has, in some way or another, hurt them, so it’s just not worth having anymore. You know that I love transparency; I think that it’s so good, so freeing, to be honest… to be candid and authentic, and to hold no secrets, but just because I feel that way doesn’t mean that I have the authority to make that decision for other people. And sure; I could try to just tell my story on here, but my story indispensably includes other people’s stories, and it’s not my right to tell their stories.
In capping off the blog, I’m setting better boundaries for myself in respecting the privacy of others. Now, I won’t have to worry that friends, present or future, are withholding parts of themselves or details of their life from me in fear that I’ll share it with anonymous others without their consent. I hate the mere idea of compromising and handicapping my friendships for the sake of maintaining a blog, and without the easy outlet and welcome distraction of 2000-word weekly blog posts, I’ll be way more likely to complete the novel that I started on more than three years ago, and I might even take on an exciting new endeavor: beginning my first real work of fiction.
I’m going to miss this. More than you can imagine. This blog has been my friend, my confidant, and my lifeline for a very long time. And whether you’ve read one long-winded post or every single one since May of 2010, I want to thank you for your time, thank you for caring, and I hope that you find peace, passion, and happiness on your journey. I hope the whole thing is a wonderful and memorable adventure; that you never stop learning and experiencing new things and that you’re never too afraid to love again.
“So what do you blog about?” A new friend asked on Saturday afternoon. We were sitting across from each other, sharing a booth at Golden Temple. I looked over at her — her pierced lip, adventurous eyes, and half-smile.
“Everything,” I answered. “I used to journal, as a kid — my aunt told me, when I was maybe 10 and my mother decided to home school me, that I could journal about my life; where I went, what I did… who I hung out with, what I ate,” I laughed. “And after filling up ten journals, I turned to blogging — my first experience with public writing. My blog skimmed the surface, at first… I felt like I needed to withhold some things, you know? But then, over time, I stopped editing out the really personal parts. I quit trying to create a perfect reel of highlights. I shared the intimate details; I confessed everything. And it’s so liberating… getting it all out there. It’s just like laying your burdens down. When I sit down to write, I’m able to sort all of my thoughts into categories, assemble them into cute little short stories, and make sense of everything that’s been making me feel hazy, and then after that, I’m free to move on to something else, feeling clearheaded and inspired. It’s wonderful. I love it.”
Jace, aka Aun Aqui