for James

For the last thirty years, my friend Arisika and I have been meeting weekly in my studio to experiment with improvised movement and theater as a healing modality. After a warm-up of free movement and sound that leads us into a light trance, we then perform spontaneous pieces for one another that explore the hard truths of our human condition. Our purpose is to reach for self-honesty, digging deep into the unconscious where our raw shadows and our breathtaking beauty reside, revealing our best and our worst to one another without shame.

Essentially it is energy work, a profound healing process that requires mutual trust and love. I bless Arisika for being my partner in this, and for being a deep friend of the heart all these many years.

Yesterday, her piece dealt with the frustrations of a group of women trying to agree upon something together. As an African-American woman, she knows a lot about the delicate issues of unconscious privilege and competition, and as a consummate artist she has a flair for expressing, through her body and voice, the hard emotions involved.

“ME! ME! ME!” she mimed, leaping all over the studio. “Do it my way! Mine!”

I was in stitches – it was way too familiar. But finding the way from anxiety to mutual compassion and self-acceptance is what our work is all about, and what we all need to acknowledge if we are to evolve as a human family. Either we evolve, individually and collectively, or it is curtains for us humans. I believe the issue is that urgent.

But how?

I think of my nephew, James, who was about twelve when he showed me just how simple it could be. He was practicing shooting baskets at the farm in Vermont and the ball kept glancing off the hoop, so I suggested he try visualizing his throw, before he made the toss, of the ball going from his hands into the very center of the basket. He did, and it worked! Again and again his shots were true! Excited by his success, he crowed,

“I’m going to be the best player in the world!”

Of course he missed the next shot, and then the next. Crestfallen, he stood there thinking, his head down and the ball tucked under his arm, and then he said quietly,

“I get it. You’ve got to be pure – right?”

Yes, purity is what we’re looking for. I believe our very lives depend upon it now – nothing less than self-honesty, deep respect and love for ourselves and one another, and the earth itself.

The way to that self-honesty may be by bravely staring at our own demons – the fears and insecurities most of us walk around with every day – and learn to accept ourselves despite them. That may be our best way to loving, the loving that, pure and simple, may be what ultimately saves us from our own hurting hearts.

James learned it at twelve. Thanks, dear one.

Over the years, I have known several visionary men, three in particular – brilliant, ambitious, charismatic – who rose into prominence too quickly for their own good and became leaders in their respective fields. They were magnificent at first, but it was not long before they started to believe their own press – a big mistake. In their pride they presumed they were above having to do whatever they told others to do. Humility was replaced by hubris. They were riding high, each blind-sided by his own ambitions, and sooner or later each lost his balance and fell from his elevated perch. You could hear the crash for miles. Because I believed in each one, the loss was personally devastating to me, and the positive influence they could have had in the world if their egos had not gotten in the way, was lost. Such a waste of creative energy…

I’m still pissed at them!

The fact was that I loved each of them deeply, and counted on them to lead us out of the morass our society was in, before their self-importance turned me off. I had looked forward to being a muse for them, beloved, one of their special team…

Embarrassing, but true. I was very young, then.

Maybe that’s why, with my heart in my mouth, I now sort-of welcome Trump because with him we cannot miss the unattractive face of untrammelled ego. Blown-up large, this is what self-deceit looks like and it’s not pretty. Perhaps he is a trickster shaman, forcing us to wake up and pay attention to our own personal demons who lead us blind into our own deep doo-doo. The clock is ticking and we don’t have all that much more time to do the real work of cleaning up our inner selves and wiping off our dirty shoes.

I’m scared and I don’t mind admitting it. I’m scrubbing away at the shit on my shoes and sifting through my own act every way I can. As I rub and scrape, I feel the old anxieties come up through the layers – the self-hate, the fears, the jealous resentments – and I give them a good, hard look before letting them go. As my body heals from ancient wounds I am surprised by growing strength as my heart opens up and old knots of congestion soften and break apart. There is energy flowing freely where it has not budged in decades.

“Gotta be pure,” James said. Easier to say than to do, but nobody ever said it would be easy. But so what? We have no choice because we’re standing at the edge of the world that is waiting for us to raise ourselves into love so that we can all evolve together to the next stage of this incredible human journey we are on.

The way I’ve learned to proceed is to slog through my own muck with as much courage as I can muster and visualize my way to feeling ecstatic at the privilege of being here, alive in a gorgeous world begging for my active participation despite dogshit and despots and overblown egos and every mistake in the book.

We’re all in this together and Love is what holds it together, is the healer and the backdrop, is the very air itself. Not one of us is outside the picture, and it’s ultimately all about Love.


That’s the basket I’m aiming for.

Visualize your moves; bend your knees; gaze up at the hoop – and throw!