At this moment I am sitting on my couch. No pants on. Bachelor In Paradise is playing on the television.
At this moment I am calm. Concentrated. Breathing.
More than that, at this particular moment in my life, I am a multi-tasker.
I can be in celebration and in grief.
I can be in contentment and in suffering.
I can be in my dancing shoes, and in total despair.
I can disapprove of my adversaries, and love them as friends.
I can behold the worlds' tragedies with anguish, and see them with eyes full of wonder and amazement.
I can hang on tightly, and let go lightly.
I can be in the middle of chaos and be totally at peace.
To me, this is what it is to be free. This is the dance.
Would you believe me at this point if I told you I've been in handcuffs...twice?
It's true (and totally not sexual!). The first time was when I was in college. The second time was after I graduated. On both occasions my inner landscape was worse for wear: I had no sense of direction. I was constantly "caught" in states of indecisiveness and dissatisfaction. I hoarded my rage until I spilled over. My life was ruled by anxiety, envy, and I viewed my entire world from a lens of "lack". I lived with the belief that it was everyone else's fault - my coworkers, my family, my college degrees, and the government were among my favorites to blame.
It seems like lifetimes ago to me.
I've spent the last several years figuring out what it means to live a meaningful life. I've collected some tools along the way - tools that have helped me throw myself back into my life.
Even as I watched my mother's body decay. Even as I dug the grave for my childhood pup. Even as I anticipate my Uncle's funeral service this Saturday - I've leaned into the wonder and the horror of it all as if there were no other way to live. And all the while there has been an increasing sense of knowing that I am the dancer, I am the one who ubiquitously watches the dance, and I am the dance. I feel fully alive in that. I remember.
Living with so much loss all at once has totally changed the meaning of the idiom, "Dancing on his grave" for me. It's [a] movement. It's [a] rebellion. It's a radical act of love. It's the freedom I've nearly died for, and will continue to live for.
Of course, I am human, and I forget pretty regularly that all parts of life are worth showing up to. And when I forget my day in court, that is, when I neglect what is trying to get my attention, when I fail to take leadership of my life, I risk getting caught again.
And my hands are cuffed behind my back once again.
I can get caught in my grief and identify as a motherless child - a victim of life's circumstances.
I can get caught in my judgments of other people, and forget that they are also trying their best.
I can get caught in the tides of total despair, anxiety, depression, and forget where I put my dancing shoes.
I can forget that the dance doesn't need to be beautiful, that sometimes it's ugly and forced and that it's worth doing anyway.
I can forget that it is my choice to let go, and my choice to be nonreactive in the face of chaos.
I think of my spiritual practice as the yoga of remembering. I've found that the more I experience forgetting and remembering, the less I get caught, and the more I am free.
What are you forgetting?
Let's remember together.
Why Death? Why Gravedancers?
I believe that death cannot be excluded in conversations about life. I dream of a world in which the reality of death isn’t ignored, feared, or written off as simply “a part of life”, but rather inspires and awakens human beings to their full potential.
My mission is to bring uncomfortable topics out of hiding and into the mainstream.
To directly confront the ultimate fear, for the sake of the freedom that can be tasted on the other side. To give voices to grieving people, to share messages of hope and healing in life after loss, and to bring love into the spaces that are by-and-large dominated by fear. To educate on the processes of dying, and bring sacredness back to the moment of death.
To encourage others to dance with their fears, because “the dance” is where life is actually lived and celebrated.
I believe we are all ripe for something. Fear of the unknown can be the thing that holds us back, or it can be the thing that inspires us to move mountains and trust that the time is now.
What are you ripe for?