in the corona

we’re all in the corona now
jewels, wet crystal, one structure
heavy and precarious
learning how much we live to touch
our never really seen faces

of a species that won’t do things for others
even just wash our hands
I slip into obsession with my spray bottle
ashamed (to maybe kill the ocean a bit to feel some comfort)
but I’m an American (my weapons are organic)

I tie a silk floral scarf around my face
to say: i’m terrified of death
but those ghastly masks are sold out
and anyway i have to be me
right til the end

rumors rumble up through airways
that in the pause, the death and questioning, the earth is able to breath 25% more again
we stifle and stretch her gifts when it’s up to us, she gasps while we cover our coughs
thinking of the {3000} dead

isn’t this the moment we’ve expected?
able to fly now we test her gravity
‘are we seriously going to die?’
answering, we become split futures for the
(admit it, you wonder…

when you say there’s no one out there, you mean no one better
honey I disagree
i turned back from the mountain when a spider said stop – better lives all around us)
when my lip sweats it feels worse than danger
and I pull my shield down around my neck

my loved ones whisper to each other
‘how will we protect our children’
‘it only eats the infirm and elderly’
‘so how will we protect them?’
everyone is ours to carry now
the checkmate generation, trying desperately to evolve the game

but we don’t know another one
we don’t even know what losing means
it’s almost unimaginable
but it’s also already happening
“god is change” “the river is very fast now”

I’m scared / I’m trusting
I’m contained / I’m in motion
we’re shook / we’re normal
we’re here / we’re gone
and time goes on

before completion

today i am packing again, it is almost time to move to the next location. before i packed my i ching book i did a reading and i got ‘before completion’, the reading that says the process of moving from disorder to order is not yet complete. the image is given of a fox crossing the ice, carefully, almost there, but if his tail touches the water it is all over. i love this read for where i feel myself to be right now.

the other day i was walking a precarious path, at least for me and my arthritic knees, and it was very clear to me that i could do this, but only if i slowed down, slowed down in spite of the people trying to pass me, slowed down in spite of wanting to go fast. i caught myself in a little pep talk under my breath: “trust this step. now just trust this one. now this one.”

i am in a lifelong process of becoming, and i get overwhelmed and ahead of myself often, wanting to already be solid, to already know the thing i just realized i should learn. there are several areas of my life now where i have dedicated more than a decade to the learning of a craft, and so i grasp both theoretically and experientially that becoming masterful at anything takes time. and the further challenge is always there – as opposed to facilitation, english, somatics, there is no path or set of practices guaranteed to lead to the mastery of being me.

being human, yes there is more guidance. meditate, do unto others, cultivate humility and curiosity, love often and be honest.

but being adrienne is more mysterious. am i answering a calling or running from one? is my hypothesis on how i am meant to serve my time and species going to yield a satisfying result to me, and/or to the gods or aliens (not mutually exclusive) who may assess my life?

i don’t know, and more interesting to me every day is the big unyielding wall of truth that i can’t know. and i can feel peace in the not knowing.

but i am distinctly ‘before completion’ here. i am on sabbatical, right? so it should be a zenfest orgy of unleashed becoming and creation of next self. and it is, i can’t deny that so much is flowing – i am writing in eight different ways right now, and my inner octopus is delighted.

but the things that undo me in life also undo me here.

i want to be alone so intensely that even at the end of the world i bristle to run into someone…but then i hunger for contact, to know i haven’t been forgotten, that i am still wanted.

i want to feel abundance of time and life, but i keep looking at exactly how many days i have left and AM I SPENDING THEM CORRECTLY??

i love sitting with tea and writing and then reading and writing some more and spend hours that way…but i also spend hours playing candy crush and look up to find it’s dark outside.

i know i am valuable beyond what i can produce…but i still feel like i need to have tangible things to show at the end of this, lol…evidence that i am rested and liberated and stuff.

it is humbling to feel so mysterious to myself still, and to see how clearly my particular patterns persist in every circumstance. there is no where i have traveled where i have been able to escape myself.

i can offer that the things that are working best for me in this space before completion, the practices making me feel most alive and at ease, are the same things i have always done, things that work anywhere. i love the travel, but it is helpful to me to remember (and leave this seed here to return to later when this sabbatical is in my past and maybe i forget what i know) that the journey i am truly taking is internal, is about giving myself time and permission to be and become.

i listened to a lovely, slow conversation between neil gaiman and tim ferris where gaiman talks about the process of writing a novel as ‘discovering the day that works for you, and trying to repeat that day as many times as possible’. this resonated with me in it’s simplicity, and somehow struck me as different from rigor, or even routine. there is a way that i can move through a day that opens up in me a flow, life force, creation energy. there is a way i can say yes to my true yearnings that then allows the subsequent production to not feel like work, but play, delight, dream-come-true.

for me it’s:

starting the day attending to my body with yoga, stretches, crunches (i’m up to 75!). i do 3-5 sun salutations, warrior, triangle, chair, tree, reverse pigeon, twists, happy baby, some floor stretches, crunches and a brief sit. whole thing takes 10-20 minutes depending on the variations my body wants once i am on the mat. it’s such a not intimidating commitment, and it changes everything about the day to come.

learning something as a way to awaken my mind (i am on a fifty day streak of learning Spanish on duolingo and while it’s still appalling what happens when i try to speak to another human, i can feel the language connecting in my brain. i can imagine a new story replacing my ‘i can’t learn languages’ narrative…something like ‘i know a little bit of a lot of languages and benefit from immersion’). again, this can be a five minute thing, though some days i go a half hour or more, enjoying the dings of affirmation.

reading other people’s work. fiction i swallow whole, reading even as i walk from bed to bathroom. nonfiction i crawl through diligently, a chapter at a time with lots of permission for breaks. but i read other people every day, and work hard to not to compare myself to their greatness, but just take it all in as many ways of expression.

i also take in work in other ways – i am listening to john coltrane, thelonius monk, moses sumney and justin bieber this week, feeding something softly masculine in my creative flow.

not eating until i am actually hungry around 2pm, and then only eating exactly what i want. this has also been a game changer – listening to my body is making my relationship to food functional, sweet, adult. it feels mature to check in, say what do you want right now?, and to give it without shame or punishment or disorder. i eat much less these days, and enjoy it much more, feel much more satisfied.

being in touch with my honey, my friends, my family in small touches. being in relationships without obligation is a lifelong learning and i find real delight in the feeling of being alone and clearly wanting a particular person’s contact – my mother’s voice, lover’s laugh, nibbling’s story from the bus.

sweating. i have been walking, hiking, swimming and dancing. i had forgotten how enlivening it is to have sweat on my lip and brow, to feel my lungs demand more air. i like sweating in nature, sweating where i can see birds swooping or little furry things dash about, or fish go by. it makes it feel not like working out, but being alive, using energy and flesh to be alive.

centering and recentering – meditation, somatic centering, journaling, tarot, moon rituals…the methods i use to center myself are multitudinous and mercurial, but every day i do some combo of centering behaviors. and when i knock my perfect smoothie off the counter, or stumble on the rocky path, or flub mi nombre, i recenter from the rapid negative voices that want to make me shrink. i recenter and breathe and keep living.

and, of course, i would be remiss not to mention the healing work that i am doing here. many days contain sudden fits of grief, rage, questions, pain that has been in a holding pattern. i don’t think of healing as completion necessarily, but as clearing out of the way, the body, that which keeps me from completion, fullness, wholeness, integrity. sabbatical, for me, is having enough time to fall apart and come back together differently, then awkwardly take a next step from and towards myself.

if i do these things (which have no particular order or obligation, but each occur to me now that i am in the flow of practicing them), at some point in the afternoon a sentence will come and i will know which project it is for, or maybe have to start a new project to hold it. and then i follow the words, the characters or ideas, writing until my hands hurt (i mostly write by hand, or by thumb into my phone) or my stomach growls or my bladder insists or, in some other way, my body reminds me i am not simply an idea unfolding in space.

and it isn’t rigid – some mornings i wake up full of essay, or dialogue. when i am not on sabbatical, i often wake up in the 4-6am hours and write, my mind taking the time i haven’t otherwise carved out. i like knowing this about myself, that my writer self takes its own space if i don’t create it. it feels like one of the truest, most consistent things about me, that i will write every day…if i am not writing, i know something is wrong.

i think part of why i am ‘before completion’ is because i am still learning to trust the next step on the journey to being a writer more than anything else. it isn’t for lack of affirmation, or ideas, or passion.

it’s just that i enjoy writing so deeply.

i was raised like most humans since the beginning of time, that you do things because they need to be done, and work is mostly an uphill push, or about ambition, and paying bills, and having something to complain about in bed later, and to escape later. i am still trying to learn all the way through me that even though i love writing, i can let it be the center of my life. that it doesn’t need to be the delightful sidebar to a serious relevant life. i am still trying to learn to feel from within that my writing is of service, and enough. not because others say so, but because i know so.

i just finished the finale of The Good Place, which was so excellent, and so i also feel aware that i will be ‘before completion’ in some way as long as i am alive, and that makes my shoulders drop back and down.

though it sometimes feels like time is a rushing river tossing me around, i am aware that just in this past year i lost, or at least started losing, the impulse to push against it. i am not trying to stay younger than my 41 years, and i am not trying to get ahead of myself to the future, to the end. i am grief-striken, meaning i am aware that it is finite. striving and regression are two ways of ending. i want to study the art of reveling, living, loving.

i am before completion, reveling in what is undone – it’s so me, all this unfinished business. i am whole in my incompleteness, writing parts of myself into existence every day. and i will do this as long as i get the gift of breath. to be unfinished is to be human!

dreaming an adjustment

just woke up from an odd little busy work dream. in it I passed president Elizabeth Warren in a hall and showed her the resolution notes of a mediation I had just finished. it was something Black people needed and she didn’t have power over it, just eyes on it. she quickly scanned it and said ‘nice. precise, fair, to the point. good work.’ I felt her partnership. she walked off and I went on to do other dream things.

I woke up like…oh. a Warren presidency would be one I wouldn’t just vote for, but would be proud to serve in some way.

this is as opposed to my current feeling, of not wanting to be associated in any way with the u.s – I’m out of country and feel the mark of the devil on me – of having a president who is disrespected and destructive to everyone I meet. it’s hard enough with a good president, to travel, to feel proud. I know I am a post capitalist who believes in the emergence of many vibrant ecosystems that collaborate to live on this planet, and yet to anyone I meet, I come from a capitalist superpower trying to take all the labor and resources of the world for our own even though we don’t need it, a taker-nation that still has extreme poverty and homelessness (I still rarely see homelessness outside of western nations).

anyway, tangent…i wouldn’t just feel proud to vote for Warren, I’d feel like contributing to her vision, having her contribute to ours. and I feel the same about Sanders.

but something that feels important in this is that if neither of them makes it to the final four, then I will vote for whoever does in the run against drump, because I recognize the difference between this feeling of alignment and desire to serve and my actual citizen duty.

my citizen duty is to give future generations a fighting chance. to protect those who are most vulnerable: our collective children, those from muslim nations, trans people, those living in poverty, those who are deployable, humans who are breathing and thus might be somewhere a gunman lashes out or the climate implodes, etc. my duty is to vote for the best available option to ensure that our basic humanity is given a chance of advancing.

feeling enthusiastic is not a guarantee. it’s a miracle to feel excited about two candidates this far into the race.

I’m reminded that the other morning I ran into someone I respect who is supporting Bernie. we uplifted each other, honored that we’re publicly supporting different candidates, then touched briefly into what we’re learning. there was only respect and interest and a sense of possibility. that’s how I want political engagement to feel. we are fighting over which employee will best suit the needs of an important job. it isn’t political home – we both have those outside of the electoral process, places and people to whom we feel accountable. this is for mass strategy, mass protection, high level policy protection of the communities we love.

purist debate is important, honing how you feel and having a place to practice it fully is important. make sure you have a political home. don’t get that confused with the American experiment, with shaping the conditions of this experiment such that the most vulnerable stand a chance of surviving and changing it themselves. do not make poor people and immigrants and women and our babies the collateral damage of purist ideologies. your theoretical happiness is not more important than the earth’s and species’ tangible survival.

I think that’s all my dream demanded I share with you.

first the window, then the door

according to my calendar i am, today, exactlyish one third of the way through my sabbatical.

i was with others, various kinds of family, for the first month, and then have been mostly alone this second month. i’ve been gently reducing my time on social media – being alone is really daunting for most people, and i am a person. it’s felt especially so after the year i had, moving like a whirling piece of kaleidoscope through experiences of immense depth and relationship with groups ranging from two to five thousand, and during all of it, also being present with a growing social media community, or set of communities, the scale of which i can’t really comprehend…i generally feel healthier if i ignore the numbers. so, the new normal, feeling deeply face to face, and then going in the bathroom to see the love and grief and adventure and random thoughts of friends and strangers.

the spaces i have chosen to travel are just right for this shift towards solitude – first, busier tourist beach areas, or the brown family holiday house where there were enough people to create lines for bathrooms or stove top burners at high tide. then, slightly less trendy spots but still, neighbors and restaurants. the next places i am going are much more solitary – ‘bring groceries down this dirt road and don’t expect high speed wifi’ type places. when i booked them i was intimidated by my ambition, but now i can’t wait. even with all the space, i feel crowded by the random late night party sounds, the hostel hoppers looking for friendship at the snack spot…i am ready to claim even more solitary space. i’ve learned this past decade not to go too fast into solitude, as it isn’t meant to be a violence to my system but an opening.

what i am most aware of is how the size of my thoughts grows as i open more space. other voices, news, trolls, scrolling, all of it can become a wall of sound, of content that i may or may not actually care about, when i don’t give myself space. after a while it feels like i only have a tiny window through which the light of my own thinking and feeling can pour in or out.

i think of plato’s shadows on the cave wall – my comprehension of the world can become an analysis of shadows, an interpretation of shadows cast from captured light, of a reality i am not really able to see. time alone, for me, is a way of slowly turning towards the light, grabbing a torch and finding my way to a gap somehow full of light in the wall, and then finding that it is somehow a window, hitching it open, looking outside. then it’s ‘aha! it’s so different than i understood!’ all the time. and cave/house blended metaphors abound.

the boundary work shifts in the opening. initially i was (as usual) very rigid, trying to control and direct others into seeing and holding my boundary. but then aha! if i hold my boundaries, others don’t have to do that much to honor them.

and the attention shifts. ‘i can’t meditate’ or ‘i can’t learn a language’ becomes a story that suited and relieved me in the cave. looking out the window, i can’t help but reflect, drop inwards, contend with my place in the world. looking out the window i want to know the language of the falcon, the lizard, the turtle, and all the different humans i meet. aha! it isn’t the story of my limitations i want to hear, but the story of my healer, my host, my cohabitating wildlife, the chef. surely i can bring my attention to learning that language, to attempting that listening?

my interest in changing itself shifts. though i am at this point fanatical about change as a divine force, i still mostly mean change in others. me myself personally, i can be remarkably resistant to change. it takes me time to notice that i have outgrown myself, time to then shed skin which i don’t yet know how to slink out of (i tend to burst out, apologize, and then try to tidy the mess without being noticed until i can present it victoriously), and then time to expand into my next self.

i am excited by small and large changes. how i transition from cobra to downward dog, how my back foot feels in triangle pose. how forward my shoulders are when i am in a conversation i care about. how different walking a couple miles a day feels in my knees now than it did the first few days. how audre lorde’s work makes me notice which identities feel like home in this moment, gives me permission to examine myself as a relevant case study for my scholarship. some changes are small and structural, some are larger and ideological – are my ideas changing? do i have enough space to think at scale?

that question makes me hunger for the space to think and feel and be at the scale of my gifts, my communities, my generation, my love. these aren’t small times, though they are made up of small-seeming moments in which change is chosen in the (scary/compelling/comfortable) face of staying behind our evolutionary thrust, in false concepts of economy, safety and power.

now i am heading towards the door, the cave’s mouth. smaller thinking, forced to shrink by others, happens in here, in the tiny cave left at the edge of an overly full life, a life of nonstop doing…i want to go out and be in it. looking through the window isn’t enough, i want to run through the field, get pollen all over my dress, dance backwards and forwards in time, i want to inhale reality and feel the inevitable thrum within me, that internal philosophy lighting up. in this way i become available to life and then this feeling of being alive on purpose is so natural, it’s so right, it doesn’t need to be narrated or conducted, it just is…i want as many moments of my lifetime as possible to be spent here, finding the next heirloom seed ideas that want to root in me now, to burst out of the roof, or mountaintop, someday. out here looking at the sea and the stars i remember i am as much a tree in the forest as a volcano as a child as an artist as a warrior as a me. it’s just a matter of time and space, and diving into one to make my way to the other.