Slow Descent

Someday not far off from now
this body will truly fail me
when that day finally comes
I'll wish I had forgiven it for
all these small imperfections

I'll wish I had been kinder
and offered compassion
to the many parts of me
that make me cringe
just to acknowledge

I'll think more gently about
the things that now seem unacceptable
about this ever fading physical form
it's hard to face the fact that
future changes will all be for the worse

All the more reason
to not waste this glorious season
of youth spread before me now
to not spend one more summer
ashamed of my soft tummy

I already look back and wish
I had loved myself more freely
and lament all the energy I've spent
disowning and being disgusted
by my own body

When the winter of my life arrives
how can I hope to embrace my decline
and not crumble with every new crease I find
when I've been unable to enjoy myself
even when I was at my very best

I want to be grateful for what I have now
so I don't discover someday that 
the treasure I've lost slowly through the years
was one I never knew the true value of
until it was all gone
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Patriot

Despite it all
I still love this country
not the people or the
putrid institutions or the
racist men who impose them

I love the land that spreads
beneath my feet from
sea to shining sea
the majesty of the earth
and all her creatures

I'm proud of our prairies
not the president
I praise the coastlines
not the constitution
written for rich white men

The expansive flowing fields
the splendor of the snow capped mountains
the acres of old growth forests
the vast diversity of lifeforms
that flourish here under blue skies

I won't stand to salute a flag
or die for a monstrous lie
but I kneel in awe before the earth
and count the blessings bestowed
upon me by her beauty

Connection and Awe

Growing up in Christian household, I never quite understood the reverence and awe people felt in the presence of religious iconography. My grandmother had crosses, rosaries, and paintings of Jesus all over her house, but I never fully understood why. Even in the Eastern religions which I am now more familiar with, I never quite grasped the purpose of the shrines people make with pictures of their gurus or other’s they admire and aspire to embody.

At the same time, I knew that similar rituals and symbols were very meaningful to all different types of religions all around the world. Many times I have been tempted to make my own little yoga shrine, but never have because I don’t know whose portrait I could possibly add to it. I don’t really have a guru or any particular religious or spiritual figures that inspire strong emotion in me. If anything, anyone that I could imagine adding would just make me feel awkwardness and embarrassment instead of admiration. It always felt like there was something important about this that I was missing out on though.

Finally the other day I was presented with an interesting alternative way to spark feelings of awe, connection, and wonder. The comparison was made between religious feelings and the feelings some of us get when we immerse ourselves in nature. Nature! Why hadn’t I thought of this before? The forest can be my church, the plants and animals my gurus and teachers. Now that creates meaningful emotion for me. Not the image of some imaginary demi-god or revered old man. I can’t believe I didn’t make the connection sooner.

Nature is what humbles me and fills me with wonder and awe, not human beings. Why would I admire a human being when I can admire mother earth instead? I don’t need a religion. I don’t need gods or gurus. All I need is the natural world all around me. Nature is what I honor and respect, what makes me feel connected, not mankind. Especially when all my life, humans have come off as proudly separate from and even above nature. Whereas I have never felt special or superior for being the species of animal that I am. In my eyes humans are more of an abomination than a miracle of nature.

I thought it was a beautiful idea to replace the ritual of church on Sundays with a weekly morning nature walk. I want to make more time for quiet reflection in the woods, alongside the river, or even just in my backyard. I want to meditate on the feelings that fill my heart when I watch the sun setting or listen to the soft cadence of rain. What could be more beautiful? What could be more awe inspiring than the miraculous mystery of this Earth? Instead of placing pictures of spiritual leaders up in my sacred spaces, I can add acorns, rocks, dried flowers, etc. These items fill me with much more joy.

I thought I’d share this idea with anyone that may also be interested in actively incorporating more reverence and awe in their life, but who doesn’t identify with any particular religion. Let me know if you decide to give this a try or if you have any other things you use to stir up feelings of connection and wonder.

Main | Nature NB

It Feels Good to Feel Again

Excavating my emotion
from beneath a harmful haze
of chemical concoctions
Rediscovering what it means
to feel the world around me

No more sedation
no more shaded sensation
happiness and sorrow held equal
remembering the beauty of both 
a genuine smile cutting through pain

Grateful tears spilling over
delicious, warm, salty
quenching my once parched heart
soaking cheeks and shirtsleeves
releasing years of stagnant suffering

Shedding the grey scales
that have gathered on my skin
sealing me inside 
a hollow human form
I am finally free
Tears get in your eyes | The Compass

The Beautiful Absurdity of Life

If you haven’t watched Bo Burnham’s new Netflix special, Inside, you need to go watch it. It is truly a work of art. I haven’t been able to stop singing/listening to his songs for days now. It is surprisingly profound and meaningful while also highlighting the hilarious absurdity of it all. It’s beautifully put together visually and musically. It is the perfect representation of the collective experience of humanity throughout the pandemic. It touches on so many important aspects from mental health to the unsettling advancements of technology to climate change to awareness of social issues.

The best part of the special in my opinion is that just when you start to feel weighed down by some of the heavier topics, he bursts into these little Jeff Bezos songs that absolutely kill me. It’s like, yes, the world is falling apart, your mental health is crumbling, life is full of stress and uncertainty and injustice and death, but hey, Jeffrey Bezos! He’s killing it. He’s doing great. Good for him. It’s too perfect. It’s a reminder that no matter how bad things get, we can still find so much to laugh about. We can still find amusement in the strangest places. We can step back and enjoy the delicious ridiculousness of it all.

Never lose sight of that sense of humor. I’m the first to admit that I have the tendency to take life far too seriously. I struggle to make even the most benign decisions because I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect. I’ve spent years stewing in anger and anxiety about things that I, ultimately, have no control over. While political and social issues are, of course, important, it’s not worth agonizing over every second. Planning and doing the work to improve your life and take good care of yourself matters, but not if you never actually take a moment to find joy in the simple things.

Above all, most of us want to be happy. We have a lot of ideas about what we need to do to ensure that we are and that we don’t “waste” this gift of life. But unfortunately at some point, we all lose sight of the reason we are doing all the things we do. We forget that while we may start with the best intentions, in the end, we don’t have to do anything to be happy, besides allow ourselves to be. We end up making ourselves miserable with the very things we began with the intention of making ourselves happy.

Despite all the pain and suffering in the world and all of my own personal issues, I still truly believe that joy and happiness are the true essence of life. We are all here to explore, learn, and enjoy. Laughter is one of the greatest gifts that we’ve been given. It would be a shame if we didn’t let ourselves have some every day. So make sure that you find time to laugh today! There are so many reasons to be depressed and anxious and angry, but despite it all, there are just as many reasons to be happy and grateful. It’s up to us where to place our focus. I, for one, want to make an effort to enjoy as many moments here as I can.

Inside,” Reviewed: Bo Burnham's Virtuosic Portrait of a Mediated Mind | The  New Yorker

The Flower Metaphor

As someone who has a hard time loving their body, I have always really appreciated the comparison between humans and flowers. It is sometimes hard for me to accept that even though I don’t look like the women I aspire to, I can still be beautiful. The idea that different looking humans can be equally attractive in their own ways just as all flowers are stunning even though they have extremely different colors and types of blossoms. For some reason this is the only thing that was really able to reach me and allow me to look at myself in a new light. And I am so grateful for the new perspective it has given me since I first heard it.

While meditating on this idea, I began to realize that humans are a lot like flowers in many others ways as well. Not only should we not criticize ourselves for not looking like others, we also shouldn’t worry about our differences in motivation, energy, talent, productivity, etc. Just like the flowers, we follow different schedules so to speak. Some flowers have many blooms, some just a few. Some bloom multiple times a year, some just once. Some come back again and again, others fade after just one season. Some flowers come more easily than others, some for longer periods of time. Some flowers even bloom at night instead of in the day.

It is important for us to also honor these differences within ourselves. Maybe we can’t wake up at 5AM and workout like our neighbor does. Maybe we don’t have the energy to work full-time and be a mother. Maybe we don’t have as many “productive” days as those around us seem to. Maybe we still haven’t found our passion after 40 years, while we read articles about a child who already excels in theirs. We don’t have to feel bad about these differences. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to others in this way. It can never be a fair comparison.

You and I are two completely different types of flower. We can admire one another without thinking less of ourselves for not “measuring up”. It’s okay to be different. It’s wonderful in fact. Who would want to live in a world with only one type of flower? We need all different kinds to allow our ecosystem to thrive. So never stop reminding yourself that you are an important part of this world. Just as you are. Because you are like no one else, not in spite of it. Biodiversity is a beautiful thing. Don’t you forget it, you incredible flower, you.