“Trust in what you love and it will take you
where you need to go.” – Natalie Goldberg
Okay, I think I’ll pull a Benjamin Button and do this thing backwards.
I’m here. Now. Never saw that one coming! But that’s the thing about life.
Sometimes it’s the things we never see coming that turn out to be the best things in the end.
Yoga? I’ve always been a go-go-go sort of guy. Hyper. But I do like solitude too.
Went to yoga expecting a workout. What I found, though, was a new way into me.
I found a different kind of movement, one that’s built around the breath. It’s pretty cool really.
Best thing I ever did for myself? Went to grad school for my MFA. Not that you need
an MFA to be a writer. What I got was more than craft and criticism, though.
Community. How often does an artist – okay, how often does anyone – have the opportunity
to be, to truly be connected, with dozens of people who share that same “deep at the center”
of your being passion?
How many of us forget what our passions even are?
I was once Amanda Plummer’s dead husband.
Okay, I played her recently-deceased in a very low budget movie when I lived in L.A.
She was so good at grieving over me that I started to mourn myself. My scene got cut,
but my car, which is much more dramatic than I am, made it into the movie and has never
let me live it down.
The photo to the right should give you an idea of my first true love.
That’s right. Basketball. The passion I had then
filled me up. I spent hours every day and night
settling into that part of myself. I felt like “more”
whenever we were together.
Writing’s like that for me now.
There’s a different sort of tenderness. A different kind of truth to it. A different type
of wholeness you get from letting the body
take over, turning off the conscious mind,
and just losing yourself truly, deeply, in yourself.
Maybe that’s why yoga speaks to me. The way it allows you to slip beyond the many defenses set in place, to find that part of you that’s huddled there in the deep down dark, the you who’s in there at the very core of your being.
I’m writing a novel about my middle-grade years.
It’s a doozy.
Chock full of romance and drama and humor.
Okay, no, I wasn’t a middle-school Romeo.
For one thing – I’m not a fan of balconies or trellises or costume parties.
I did love to climb, though. Trees. Sheds. I would even climb
the brick wall of my elementary school and sit on the roof during recess. Long story.
But mostly I climbed trees. Big twisty-limbed, hide-behind-the leaves sort of trees.
Mostly I fell. On my way down.
I guess that is sort of the way my romantic life went for a while.
Movies. I love movies. Grew up watching them, every Saturday
afternoon with dad, every Sunday evening with the whole family.
Getting lost in those stories was the best time. It calmed me.
And helped me find my way to the other side of things sometimes.
Of course, I didn’t know about yoga back then . . . or reading . . . or writing.
My parents thought I was from another planet.
Maybe your parents thought that about you, too. But did your parents
call in specialists from Roswell just to make sure? Didn’t think so.
Okay, maybe I am remembering something that didn’t actually happen.
I’m a writer. I’m allowed!
For seven years, I lived a block from the river.
I explored every inch of that town and hunkered down among the head-
stones and willow trees in the nearby cemetery for hours each day with
my friends, playing all sorts of games we invented. No really, we did.
There were whole worlds inside our heads no one knew about but us.
When I was nine, I went to the edge of the river – which had moved
halfway up our block – and the houses and the swimming pools and a few cars
were all submerged. I’m talking completely under water.
It was like this surreal painting. The waves went rooftop, rooftop, rooftop.
If I tell you a not-so-secret about how my mom chased me down the street once -
arms outstretched, hands clasping – just know that was a reflection of me and not
her. The experience gave me a whole new appreciation for things. Like quick feet
and getaway-speed. And having a future to grow into. Oh yeah, and the sacrifices
people make in your life that you don’t always stop to think about.
My parents had saved up to buy a new carpet for eight long years.
That’s a lot of going without (they went without, not me and my sis,
we had everything we ever wanted or needed).
It was summer.
Just do the math and you’ll see if it had been winter there would be no story.
Summer = Tar-Patched Roads + Boys Playing Football + A Very Important Question for Mom = A Spontaneous Journey to Find Mom = Boy Stomping Through House = Trail of Black Gooey Footprints (as if I’d just emerged from primordial ooze) = Mom’s Eyeballs Shooting Out of Her Head = Boy Running Down the Tar-Patched Road = Mom On His Black Gooey Heels = Boy Grateful for Life, for Speed, for Endurance, for Mom Not Really Wanting to Strangle Him
As a boy I was sick. All the time! Did I mention that? It’s a big deal. Was sick pretty much most of my life. Migraines. Asthma attacks. Oxygen tents. Nearly died in there. But that’s the thing about those parts of life you don’t see coming. Sometimes you start out heading one way, or thinking you are, maybe you try a thing for one reason, but what you find is this whole new life. This whole new you. And sometimes, that can be scary. But sometimes it’s the you that you never thought you would be. Or could be.
That’s what happened to me.
The un-health of much of my life got unexpectedly flipped.
If you want to know how, you can read more. If, however,
you want to just rest your eyes, now, I suggest doing so to this:
There are so many stories from back then. I may have to write them down in a book.
Of course, we know how the story ends.