Orange Buffalo Blood

This is post 3 of 6 of a series of poems and prose that Rara sent to be shared with the Stories community.  Next week we take a break from this series and will feature two posts that were submitted to be shared, and then we will resume this series the following week. 

This post from Rara hit me harder than most.  She has taken something her husband wrote in his novel, Orange Buffalo, and adapted it to her current situation.  If you haven’t read his book, you should.  You can also find some artwork and other items he put together based on the book on RedBubble.  And, please donate what you can to the Rara Relief fund.  Every little bit will help her get back on her feet.

What a good girl – – a strong girl – –
She’s gonna grow up to be a felon, a widow,
a shell.

What a good girl – – a loving girl – –
She’s gonna learn how to be mean –
alone – empty.

What a good girl – – a brave girl – –
She’s gonna fill herself up with hot air
and gently

float

away.

Cross My Heart

This is post 2 of 6 of a series of poems and prose that Rara sent to be shared with the Stories community.  Each posting brings us a bit closer to her release from jail…  If you can, and you haven’t already, please donate what you can to the Rara Relief fund.  Every little bit will help her get back on her feet.

My wild secret:
Tamed by death, but you remain,
Only mine to keep.

The Black

This is post 1 of 6 of a series of poems and prose that Rara sent to be shared with the Stories community.  Each posting brings us a bit closer to her release from jail…  If you can, and you haven’t already, please donate what you can to the Rara Relief fund.  Every little bit will help her get back on her feet.

I ran out of words when the love of my life ran out of life.

When he died,

Without me.

When his bright,

Delightful,

Frightful brain,

Exploded into itself.

(finally doing

What he always said it would.)

He kept his promises

like he kept his thoughts – –

in a perpetual rolling boil.

He was molten lava

and he erupted.

He p o p p e d,

and he sparked,

and he burn-burn-burned,

and all anyone can talk about is the ash.

But it was his sound

and fury

that lit my sky,

and it was the heat of his last gasp

that burned my earth

into paralyzed,

petrified

silence.

Goldy’s Piece

The following is something Rara wrote about Stories That Must Not Die member Fish of Gold.  Goldy lost the love her life recently as well and can use every bit as much support and RawrLove that we’ve been sending Rara’s way.

There is a fable I read somewhere, some time ago, about how the world works.  About how some people were born to feed the earth, and some to harvest her.  How some were born to fill the seas, and some to keep count of the stars.  All beings, born into purpose.

And, a very small group of people – men and women whose spirits were strong enough to bear all things – were charged with carrying the sky.

When I think on what you have suffered and survived, I marvel at your wonder and I think how lucky I am to be under your piece of sky.  Your power is endless and though it isn’t fair that the winds push at you, and the seas pull at you, and the earth herself tries to suck you in – please know how blessed I feel to know you, and to have heard your survival song.

In my moments of coldest fear, I sunbathe in the certainty that the Great Blue will never fall and I am sister-kin with one who will make sure of it.

Then, I hum your battle cry, and sleep in peace, and wake in purpose.

You are my hero.  Thank you for carrying our sky, and showing me how to carry the tune of continuation.

The Day I Lost My Mother

The following post was submitted by Alicia.  She gave it to Rara, and Rara mailed it to me to share with all of you.  Please read her words and leave her a comment of support in the comments, and/or send her a letter.  I’m going to print this post in a couple days and mail it to her, so anything you leave in the comments she will get to see.  Thank you.

On Feb. 26, 2012, I received horrible news that changed my life forever and my life hasn’t been the same since.

During that time, I was incarcerated at Glen Helen Jail.  I was working at visiting and the Chaplin came and asked if he could speak to me.  What he had to say brought my world crashing down around me.  He told me my mother had suffered a massive stroke and was on life support.  The stroke had left her brain dead and my family decided to take her off life support.

It was as if someone had taken the breath right out of my chest.  I didn’t want to believe it.  I just started screaming:

“No”
“No”
“No”

It hurt so much.  The pain was so hard to bare.  It was all so surreal, like a terrible nightmare.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t dreaming.  This was my reality.  It was really happening.

I called my grandma and she told me the doctor was about to take my mother off life support, so I asked my grandma to please take the phone up there to my mother’s room and put it up to ear so I could say goodbye, tell her how very much I love her, and how much she means to me.  But, my grandma couldn’t.

Everything happened so fast, so when I called back my grandma said “your mother is in heaven now.”

That was it, my last chance to say goodbye.  My mother was dead.  Never coming back.  I would never see her again, hear her voice, hear her laugh, see her smile, tell her how very much I love her, and tell her how very sorry I am for not being there for her when she needed me the most.  Instead, I was in jail, away from her.

I hated myself for not being there with her.

I lost the most important person in my life, the person who gave me life, the person who raised me, was there for me when I needed her the most.  I never felt so alone.  Because I had my mother, the world wasn’t as scary.  I always had someone who truly cared and loved me, who would always be there when no one else was.  But, now she is gone and I have no choice but to deal with it.  Stay strong.  Live for my kids and her, the way she wanted it to be.

I have to try to overcome all this pain, deal with it one day at a time, try to convince myself that I could survive my mother’s death.  Not let it take over my life and kill me slowly, because the pain consumes you, takes over your and kills your spirit as well.  You won’t know who you, what direction you are going.  You let drugs and alcohol take all the pain away, makes you feel numb so you won’t feel anything like I did for a couple of years, because it was just too hard.

When I got out, I felt so last and alone.  Nowhere to go.  But, as I sit here today, I am finally able to say I will be okay.  It will be okay.

I want to live.

I want to make my mother proud.

I have finally accepted my mother’s death.  Yes, it still hurts when I think of her.  I miss her all the time.  I even have a picture of her, I look at it all the time, and I don’t’ break down anymore.  But, the loneliness is still there.

Nothing and no one could ever take my mother’s place, but I will be okay.

I love you mother, with all my heart.  RIP 2-26-2012

…..

Broken Promises, Broken Dreams

Broken promises, Broken dreams
Never able to feel free,
Lost in this world,
In my reality.
I dream that one day,
I will be set free,
To truly know what
life truly means.
Deep in my heart,
I believe, that one day,
there will never be
broken promises or broken dreams.

…..

If you would like to contact me, please feel free.  I am in prison and it gets lonely in here:

Alicia Ann Chavez WF1190
CIW W/A 24 UP
16756 Chino-Corona Road
Corona, CA  92880

blank

Our beloved and much missed blogging dinosaur, Rara, sent me the following words to share with the Stories That Must Not Die community.  I had planned on just posting them here for you all to consume as is, but considering I cried while typing them up, I figured I should probably warn you, before you read, her words are powerfully sad and explode with her pain and grief.  So, read them, definitely read them, but do so cautiously, and then write her another letter to tell her it isn’t her fault, and she is so much more than how she is feeling now.

Today my husband died.

Maybe it was 26 days ago, but the shock of his absence has permanently stained my present moment.  Every Today will always be the day he died.  I wake up, suffer the sunrise, and lose him all over again.

I am not strong enough to survive this forever.  I ache with missing him – his strength, his peace, his talent.

In all our years together – our decade – I never once envied his talent.  It coursed through his veins and bled from his fingertips into the pages of our daylight.  It forced him awake through the aching hours of our night.  Everything was his canvas and he painted with words – stroking Light and mixing color into the stretched fabric of our intertwined years.  Words filled him and emptied him, scarred him and caressed him, and marred his perfection.  But he loved them as he loved me.

Unconditionally.  Eternally.  Constantly.

No, I never wished for even a teaspoon of his talent.  Until today, when he died.

I need the right words now.  I need to mix and blend them into a sentence that will balm my soul, and help me forgive myself.  He died alone because I failed him.  There is a story that will describe all facets of who he was.  I just need to find it.  Somewhere, in the brushstrokes of me, there is a way to explain why I didn’t use my own words at his funeral, and why I still can’t say goodbye, and why my once-friendly universe has started to suffocate my slowly.

I am heavy with Memories, bursting with the desire to share all my moments of him, so I can preserve them.  But I don’t have the talent, the air, or the words.

I have only a snuffed, stained canvas.

In my heart, I still hear my husband – telling me to paint our life with confidence – bit it is only my life now and there’s nothing worth noting anymore.

Yesterday I Lived a masterpiece of color and light, and I was ever-so-loved by my artist.

But he died today,

And now I am blank.

If you can, please spread the word and donate to the GoFundMe account that has been set-up to help Rara get back on her feet when she is released from prison: http://www.gofundme.com/rararelief

(Thank you Madame Weebles for setting that up.)

Lessons from a 94 Year Old Lover

Trude Bock

“Connect with others first, then worry about the details.”

In Hawaiian, kapuna means elder. But a kupuna wasn’t just an aged person; Kapuna were respected as keepers of wisdom and knowledge. In the West, we seem to have lost touch with our wise elders. For most of my life, my interactions with older people were perfunctory.

Luckily, I had the honor of doing hospice care for a 94 year old German American kapuna. Gertrude “Trude” Bock was born on April 22, 1921 in Freiberg, Germany and passed away on May 28th, 2015 in Palo Alto, California. I only knew Trude for seven months, but she treated me like a family member.

Looking back, I now realize that although I was supposed to be taking care of Trude, she was actually showering me with wisdom and guidance. Sometimes she told me things, but most of the time she taught by example. Here are five lessons I learned from my love affair with a 94 year old kapuna.

1) Stay True to Your Heart

Trude lived in Germany when Adolf Hitler was ascending to power. Even as a young child, she could sense that this charismatic leader was up to no good. In the school she attended, students were required to “Heil Hitler,” but Trude refused to do so, even though the penalties for this disobedience were dire. Throughout her life, Trude had the courage to follow her heart regardless of the consequences.

“it is better to be aligned with your heart than with society.”

She opened her home in Palo Alto to children from Mexico who had severe health problems. This caused tension with her husband, but Trude continued to care for these indigent children. One day a truck load of Mexican children rolled up, and a two-year old burn victim named Angelica walked into the house and promptly pooed on the floor. Mr. Bock packed his bags and left, but Ms. Bock stayed committed to the children.

During a late night talk, Trude told me that “it is better to be aligned with your heart than with society.”

2) Embrace Life As It Is

As a five year old child, Ms. Bock survived polio, but the disease crippled her hands and her left side. By the time I met her 89 years later, she was nearly bedridden. During her last months of life, she had a huge bedsore on her backside that wouldn’t heal. Trude never complained about these ailments. She accepted them as a part of life and looked for ways to express gratitude.

One morning, we were repositioning Gertrude on her side.

I see this gratitude as embracing life rather than complaining about what life wasn’t.

“Does that feel ok,” I asked.

“No, but it will do,” she answered with a smile.

After I put her blankets back on, she said, “Thank you for trying to make me more comfortable.”

Trude rarely complained, but she always thanked anyone who visited or cared for her. I see this gratitude as embracing life rather than complaining about what life wasn’t.

3) Take Care of Your Ears

I’ve always thought that the most important sense to maintain is sight, but Trude taught me otherwise. Her eyesight was severely limited. Towards the end of her life, she didn’t even open her eyes for most of the day. Her hearing, on the other hand, was perfect.

Caretakers and/or family members would often be in the next room talking, and Trude would reply to the topic of conversation. I read to her frequently, and she would pick up on very subtle details of some complicated spiritual texts.

Relationships are built on communication. If you can’t hear someone, it is very difficult to communicate with them. If you can’t see someone, you can still have a very deep talk with them. All the way up until her last days, Trude had intimate relationships with everyone around her because she was able to communicate with them.

Lucy, one of Gertrude’s granddaughters, visited her the week before her passing. Lucy held her grandmother’s hand and told her how much she loved her and how she will miss her. Trude didn’t open her eyes or reply, but a tear streamed down her cheek. She had heard and understood the words of her grandchild.

4) Love, Care and Be of Service to Others

I once asked Trude what made her happy when she thought about her life. Without hesitating, she said how she loved, nurtured, and cared for her children. I think Trude was specifically referring to her five biological children, but I couldn’t help thinking about all the children whose lives she touched.

Gertrude Bock opened her house in Palo Alto to over 300 children from Mexico who suffered from medical problems that couldn’t be treated in their villages. She housed, fed, nurtured, educated, and chauffeured these children for decades.

Fully-grown Angelica spoke at the funeral. “I want to thank Mimi [an affectionate name for Ms. Bock] for treating me like one of her children. I want to thank her children for sharing their mother with me,” she said with tears streaming down her face.

After decades of serving others, she radiated a selfless love that was palpable. I can’t think of a better quality to cultivate in life.

Although I only knew Ms. Bock for half a year, she treated me like a son. Her smiles, humor, and wisdom colored every interaction. She deeply listened to whatever I wanted to share with her. It felt like she was giving me something even when she couldn’t get out of bed, open her eyes, or move her arms. After decades of serving others, she radiated a selfless love that was palpable. I can’t think of a better quality to cultivate in life.

I once told Trude that I hoped that when I got to be her age as many people would come to visit me as she had flocking to see her. “It’s a sign of a life well-lived when so many different people come to visit you when you are sick,” I said as if I knew what a good life entailed.

“Don’t worry, Kozo. I’ll be up there [she pointed at the ceiling], so I will make sure others visit you. If they don’t visit, then I will send angels to comfort you,” she said softly like she was telling a secret. Just like Trude, selflessly serving even in heaven.

5) Don’t Take Anything for Granted

Trude taught me a final lesson on the day of her passing. The night before, I told the head caregiver that Trude might live for another few years. “It is possible. She seems to be bouncing back,” she responded.

At 5 A.M., I woke up to turn her. She quickly went back to sleep, so I went out in the living room to do some research. At about 6 A.M. I thought about sitting with Trude for an hour before I had to get ready to go to my office job, but I decided to continue watching YouTube.

An hour after I left on that morning, I got the call. Although I had gotten to kiss her and say goodbye, I missed my chance to be in her presence right before her passing because I assumed that she would be around when I returned later in the evening. I actually expected her to stay alive for at least a few weeks if not months.

Never take anything or anyone for granted. You never know what will happen or when it will happen. I’ve told this to myself before, but this time the permanence of missed opportunities shot right into my heart. Research, work, YouTube, everything can wait. Connect with others first, then worry about the details.

Thank you for all the gifts you have bestowed upon me, Trude. I love you. Rest in Peace.

Photo courtesy of the Bock family

Lessons from a Broken Heart

Heartbroken robot

The silver lining for men of having our hearts broken.

I recently heard a story about an elderly gentleman who finally learned to express love after having a heart attack. Although I was thrilled for this man, I hope that my sons and I don’t have to have heart attacks to open our hearts.

What I have found is that heartbreaks offer wonderful opportunities to grow into true love. From middle school crushes to unrequited love as a divorced man, my heart has taken a beating. Yet in hindsight, I’m almost thankful for these experiences that seemed to rock the foundations of my world.

Here are some valuable lessons I learned by having my heart broken:

Let Go, Let Come

I once heard that one of the most important lessons we have to learn in life is how to let go, because this prepares us for death—the ultimate letting go. In every heartbreak is the opportunity to let go of some of our deepest desires, fears, and attachments.

In every heartbreak is the opportunity to let go of some of our deepest desires, fears, and attachments.

From the advice we get while mending a broken heart, it seems that everyone knows the value of letting go. “There are plenty more fish in the sea to fry.” “You’re better off without him/her.” “You’ll meet someone ten times better.”

But actually embodying detachment to someone with whom we are/were intimate takes time, patience, and an iron will. As poet Marge Piercy states, “It hurts to thwart the reflexes/of grab, of clutch; to love and let/go again and again.” Letting go gets easier and easier with every heartbreak, especially when we realize that by letting go, we let new love come into our lives.

Nature hates a vacuum. When we let go, we create space for something new to enter our lives. When we cling on to a specific person or the past, we close the door (and our eyes) to the abundance of beauty, love, and connection in every waking moment.

One Love Instead of One and Only Love

Life is a movement from Lionel Richie’s “Endless Love” to Bob Marley’s “One Love.” We start by equating true love with one person—“no one else will do.” Through heartbreak, we learn that unconditional love doesn’t play favorites.

Life is a movement from Lionel Richie’s “Endless Love” to Bob Marley’s “One love.”

When the one and only endless love ends in a train wreck of tears, betrayal, and restraining orders, we begin to see through the error in our ways. After a few times through the spin cycle of heartbreak, we are ready to learn to “love with the hands wide open.” We begin to see how all love is sacred, not just the love from those whom we deem as soul-mates.

Heartbreak teaches us to love everyone (including our ex-lovers) and everything (including the pain of unrequited love). When we are able to love unconditionally, we “give thanks and praise to the Lord and…will feel all right.”

Embracing Uncertainty

“Will I survive this?” “Will I ever love again?” “Will I be alone forever?” These are the types of questions we confront when our hearts are broken. Of course, none of these questions are answerable.

A broken heart forces us to sit in uncertainty. We have no idea what will happen next. At a certain point, we realize that the future is always uncertain. When we embrace this uncertainty, we see how anything is possible.

The less we demand answers to these unanswerable questions, the less we try to force the future into our presence. When we stay in the wild present tense, we see that we are never alone and nothing is really uncertain. We are always already connected and loved. Nothing is left to chance. We just need to get our minds and bodies back into the present beautiful moment.

Staying Connected

In one of my favorite songs, Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo`ole talks about his father who died of a massive heart attack. “I still believe that if he called me, he’d be alive. Cuz he died of a broken heart, Brah.”

GMP writer Mark Greene echoes this sentiment in a recent article,: “It is a heart rendering realization that even as men hunger for real connection in our male relationships, we have been trained away from embracing it…That result is isolation, loneliness and early death for men.”

Every time our hearts are broken, we have the impetus to connect with others in a deep and intimate way. As Kamakawiwo`ole and Greene stress, this connection is a matter of life and death for many men. Some of us are so uncomfortable breaking out of the homophobic man box that it takes a life altering event to even consider peeking our heads out.

In the men’s group I facilitate, every time a member authentically shares the pain of heartbreak, deep connection and healing occur spontaneously. The pain in our hearts remains, but somehow we feel more complete and healthy. In fact, I don’t think half the members would have joined if it wasn’t for having their hearts broken.

The pain in our hearts remains, but somehow we feel more complete and healthy.

♦◊♦

By no means am I saying to pursue having your heart broken, but if it does happen, know that deep wisdom and healing are available. Or as Rascal Flatts says, “God bless the broken road.”

Photo:Flickr.com/grimsanto

Letting Go of a Soulmate

lovers

Are we still looking for love in all the wrong places?

I’ve always felt like a soul mate would make my life complete. I used to dream about the day I could tell a lover, “You complete me,” just like Jerry Maguire. But the Universe doesn’t seem to have the same dreams as I do.

I used to dream about the day I could tell a lover, “You complete me,” just like Jerry Maguire.

I’m 50 years old and divorced. I’ve met a plethora of individuals I would have sworn were my soul mates, but I never felt totally complete–which might explain why I’m still single.

Soul mates are not meant to complete me; they are meant to teach me how to let go.

Looking back over all my intimate relationships, the Universe seems to be trying to teach me a lesson. Understanding this lesson changed my whole view of relationships, love, and life. From my perspective, the truth of relationships is simple: Soul mates are not meant to complete me; they are meant to teach me how to let go.

The soul isn’t looking for completion, companionship, sex, or love. It is always already complete, interconnected with all that is, and unconditionally loving. The soul is begging us to remember, realize, and embody our true selves. If we spend all our time looking for someone to complete us, then we will never look inwardly to find out that we are already complete.

If we spend all our time looking for someone to complete us, then we will never look inwardly to find out that we are already complete.

In Resurrecting Jesus, Adyashanti analyzes the scene where Mary Magdalene visits Jesus’s empty tomb. Jesus says to her, “Whom are you seeking?” Mary who mistakes Jesus for a gardener, ask him to tell her where her lord is. When Mary finally recognizes Jesus, he says, “Do not cling to me.”

Adyashanti points out that when Jesus asked Mary whom she was seeking, he knew the answer. He was trying to teach her something. Who we are really seeking is inside us. Do not cling to soul mates, lovers, or teachers. Let go and surrender to your true nature, your Divine being.

Like Jesus, soul mates are meant to leave us, often in tragic, heart-breaking circumstances. One of my friends was accused of embezzling by her wealthy, over-privileged bosses. When she ran out of funds to defend herself, she was put in prison for a crime she never committed.

Like Jesus, soul mates are meant to leave us, often in tragic, heart-breaking circumstances.

Just last week, her husband passed away. She called me from prison and told me that she now sees that incarceration was preparing her for this moment. “We were inseparable, Kozo. I couldn’t be away from him for more than a few hours. Being in prison forced me to learn to survive alone. If I were out there, I don’t know how I could handle this loss.”

Not only our soul mates, but the whole Universe is conspiring to teach us to let go. I do hospice care for a 94 year old bedridden woman. For the last 6 months, I’ve watched her and all her family and friends learn how to let go. Of course, one of the final letting goes is when we pass to the other side.

In my own life, I’ve been letting go of everyone I see as a soul mate. I honor their presence and love them deeply, but I’ve tried to cut all strings of attachment, clinging, and neediness. Someone once told me that being in a healthy intimate relationship is like being an ice skating dancer. To be an ice skating dance couple, both people have to dance well on their own. I imagine the train wreck that would happen if one skater clung to the other during one of those triple spin jumps.

One of the subtle forms of clinging that I’ve noticed occurs when I scheme to let go because I think that will help me get a soul mate. I rationalize that if I just let go for a few days, months, or, God forbid, years, then my desired lover will come to me with open arms.

True letting go has no future. We have to be willing to let go of not only a potential lover, but even the possibility of any lover whatsoever.

True letting go has no future. We have to be willing to let go of not only a potential lover, but even the possibility of any lover whatsoever. I’ve struggled to embrace the reality that I am alone and that I may be alone for the rest of my life. But when I do occupy this uncertainty, I open up to the miracle of aloneness being all-oneness. If we are all one, then I alone am every-one and everything.

In a circuitous way, I’ve found that when I redefine soul mates as individuals who assist me in learning to let go, I stop seeking. I realize that I am already one love.

Photo: Flickr.com/Ojie Paloma

Reflections from a 50 Year Old Nobody

man with L on forehead

“By societal standards, I may look like a failure, but inside I feel like I’m right where life needs me to be.”

The night before I turned 50, seven year old Jett asked, “Daddy, how do you know when you are enlightened?”

I told him that nothing bothers you because the “you” who you think you are doesn’t exist anymore. I gave counter-examples of how I freaked out when he didn’t wash his hands after going to the bathroom or when he insisted that I buy him a $400 bicycle.

“These things wouldn’t bother me if I was enlightened because ‘I’ would be the bigger picture,” I explained.

This morning I realized that there is another side to that coin of enlightenment. Not only does nothing bother an awakened being, but everything brings joy and contentment. Actually, “brings” is not the right word because joy and contentment are always already there.

Waking up this morning as a divorced, unemployed, debt-ridden nobody didn’t prevent me from feeling immense joy and gratitude for everything that life has brought me.

On this side of the coin, I’m much further along the path. I once pictured myself as a financially set, famous (yes, illusions of grandeur) member of society by the time I turned 50. Waking up this morning as a divorced, unemployed, debt-ridden nobody didn’t prevent me from feeling immense joy and gratitude for everything that life has brought me.

After years of trying to be somebody, it is a relief to be nobody. Being nobody means that I have no rights. Therefore, I can never be offended. Deepak Chopra credits his happiness and peace of mind to “never being offended.” Whenever I start to feel offended by something someone says, does, or thinks, I remind myself that I am nobody.

Some people equate being nobody with being a doormat, but what I have found is that it is more like being an open door.

Some people equate being nobody with being a doormat, but what I have found is that it is more like being an open door. Being somebody boxes us into a socially constructed prison cell of expectations, rules, roles, and pressures. Releasing the need to be somebody allows me to walk out of this prison. When I’m nobody, I can be whoever I want.

♦◊♦

I invited my roommate to the picnic party I had for my birthday. After the party, I thanked him for coming.

“Thanks for inviting me, although I don’t feel like I contributed anything to the gathering,” he responded with his head down.

I remember feeling this pressure to contribute. I always felt like I had to be funny, witty, interesting, wise, or athletic whenever I was at social gatherings. I felt the need to be seen by not only my friends and family, but also by complete strangers who just happened to witness the gathering.

Now I see things differently. I don’t need approval from anyone just to be me. As one of my friends, Dawn Agnos, likes to say, “We do not need to perform to be valid; we were created and are alive and that is the highest validation anyone could gain.”

“We do not need to perform to be valid; we were created and are alive and that is the highest validation anyone could gain.”

Now that I’m nothing, I don’t need to contribute anything. I can just be a zero. Being a zero allows others to be exactly who they want to be. When I share space with someone who wants to be a five, I don’t add or subtract anything. I am zero, so they can be a five.

What I’ve found is that when I silently allow others to be whoever they want, I also increase their value. If I just stand silently as a zero, a five becomes a fifty. Like a magnifying glass, I just intensify whatever they bring into the world without judgment.

For decades, I feared being a zero. Now I see the truth in Cool Hand Luke’s statement, “Sometimes nothin’ can be a real cool hand.”

♦◊♦

I’ve walked away from the Sisyphusian boulder of work, save, repeat.

It is such a weight off my shoulders to not have to be a financial somebody. Although I have $150,000 of debt, I recently found a backdoor exit from the man-box of financial duty. By giving selfless service and participating in gift ecology, I’ve walked away from the Sisyphusian boulder of work, save, repeat. I now give my services for free as a counselor, speaker, facilitator, dishwasher, and foot washer.

An added bonus of giftivism is the dissolution of performance anxiety. When I give my services for free, I feel no pressure to perform. I feel no need to be an authority. If people don’t like who I am or what I do then they can have their money back. When I don’t have to perform, then I can be myself and share my life without worrying about being judged, evaluated, or ridiculed. I don’t have to be perfect; I just have to be me.

I’m so grateful to be in this space of self-sufficiency and assurance. By societal standards, I may look like a failure, but inside I feel like I’m right where life needs me to be.

Next week, I’ll discuss being in relationship as a nobody, especially relationships with soul mates.

Photo:Flickr.com/BrePettis