You’ve put out so much of something already. So much thought, so much vibration. In so many words, on paper, online, in your mind, in and through your heart. You’ve lit so many candles, and closed your eyes so many times. Inhaled and exhaled and sat and stood and sang and danced and collapsed and flew. But every cycle of something, every constellated arrangement of celestial bodies - you find yourself feeling an energy of “should.” I should write intentions. I should meditate. I should make a freaking vision board.
I am done with the idea of the New Age. Maybe I’ll just call it the Next. Maybe there’s no delineation necessary. Maybe it’s all just one cluster-fuck of universe, multiverse, omniverse, whateververse. There are epochs and ages and eras, sure. But what does that really matter to
Right now is about “being here.” Sure, ok, yes.
But that is such a given. It’s just so obviously true. Yes, I am here. You are here, reading this. There, you just finished reading that previous sentence. Now you’re here. And so on.
So what is “right now” about then?
Perhaps this quote from Alan Watts:
“You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.”
Sounds about right.
About as right now
as you can get.
Tonight, in this new moon in Virgo and solar eclipse and Mercury retrograde energetic shitstorm, I give myself back the power of exploration. I don’t need to do all the right things in all the right ways. I don’t need to close my eyes and breathe deeply if I don’t want to. Rather, I want to, but I also want to explore somewhere else. I want to relax and not have to fix every part that aches. I want to surrender to the pain. Let it swallow me, let my tears flow, let my numbness pervade, let my tangled imagination rouse itself slowly. Because if I don’t - I will risk falling into an abyss of thinking I’ve healed myself, that I’ve made progress, that I’ve anointed my wounds with a loving salve. The more I do that, the more I lose the essence of my gifts. Without the wounds where the light enters us (Rumi quote I think? or Hafiz? someone mystic) - I am canceled out. My own healing journey brings me to a zero point. I’ve had it all wrong this entire time. I don’t want to return to anything. I’d like to build atop the drama and treachery that is my will, my craze, my hope. Without my admittance of the colorfulness of my being, I am less than nothing. “Nothing” isn’t so bad. It’s the deterioration of possibility into utter frivolity which is sad to me. Not that sadness needs to be avoided. I confuse myself yet again, and this is the first time I call it out but it’s happened more than once already in this long paragraph… the confusion. My own confusion. Ok, bring it on. Self. Confuse yourself. Get lost in your own maze. Explore it. And stop giving yourself shit for it. Stop trying to figure things out. Just be the aperture, look, and explore.
When it comes to thinking about our world (almost all day every day for me), why am I so dumbfounded by my own emotion that I can only think of paragraphs to post on facebook? I seem to only go as far as composing a superficial woe-begotten mini-rant, asking rhetorical questions and rehashing sentimental platitudes. Perhaps I shouldn't be so hard on myself with this observation. Paragraphs are better than nothing. Or are they just babble? Emotional purging for the sake of not much else.
So many of us think and speak and write of how we fear the world in which we're raising our children. Fear it and question it and pray for it and... dread it. It's like we just dread the future, how much more horrific it can get, the way it seems to be going.
Many of us pray and write hopeful things. And take hopeful actions. And get things done and change the world and save lives and create inventions and discoveries. I do have faith in us.
But... but but but. Something's missing. Something's terribly wrong. I know it is, because I used to think I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders needlessly - and now I think I do it with no other choice.
I suppose that's because I'm a mother now, and I feel like I just can't let myself off the hook. I feel as if a buried speck of knowledge and ability lies somewhere within me that I am not allowing to surface. If I don't light the way into that abyss with my own feelings and emotion, how will I ever unearth it?
My old philosophy of living my joy is exactly that - it's old. I don't feel pure joy anymore in this world except when I'm with my son... And that isn't fair to him. I must not use him as my therapeutic solace. I wish to build a world for him where real joy is possible - not at the expense of barbaric wars and wasted resources. No, I can't live with all this blood on my hands. That of innocent people lost in the name of a fictitious cause... "fighting terror" and all this bullshit. The fight is the terror. The FIGHT.
We stick play swords in our kids' hands and let them pretend to stab each other. We buy them plastic guns and let them shoot each other as they run through the park, shouting "I'm gonna kill you!"
I know this observation isn't a new one, and it goes right along with my usual status-paragraph complaints. I just want to reaffirm it to myself - to challenge myself to raise my son with perspective, with awareness. To speak to him realistically about the effects of violence. To not instill in him that it is something in our nature. It may have been so in the past, as a means of survival; but it need not be so now.
Unfortunately my ideal doesn't sit with the real "now." Sure there are statistics for how less violent and poverty-stricken the world is now than in the past. But that doesn't mean it ISN'T violent and poverty-stricken. And I think it's a shame that it is, considering all of our evolutionary advancements. It's a shame that huge wars are waged for the sake of questionable motives. It's a shame that there are stories and explanations and wool over everyone's eyes. It's a shame that we aren't able to solve our problems. Put as simply as I can - I think it's a damn shame.
So I am challenging myself to think differently. Think of what hasn't occurred to me yet. Think of what I've been missing.
There isn't really a simple answer. Or is there? Is it just staring me in the face, a quantum degree away? What is real power? Do we possess it? How can we harness it? How can it have any effect? Here are my rhetorical questions again. Well, Yanika. Start thinking.
They say that overthinking is useless and even dangerous... I've definitely over-thought before to the point of feeling stagnated, or to taking unnecessary action...
But to think differently isn't to think too much. It's literally that - different. It's different. What does that mean? I think it is both forgiving and holding evil accountable at the same time. It's acknowledging what's wrong, not bypassing it with explanations and theories. It's.... Oh I don't know. It's beyond words. It's a simple prayer, it's a rhythmic heartbeat. It's a dying star inside a supermassive black hole inside a supernova birthing a new star. It's truth. And indeed it's out there somewhere. All the way out there, right in here. *points to brain*
I hope I can get nearer to it. Create it if I must.
bubbles of sadness burst themselves all around my body and being -
i kneel, i flee the room, i let tears have their way.
of a saddened day remembered
so long ago,
so often now
shades of a person, memory of their soul,
you want to touch it, press it,
but it lies so buried in dimensions’ softness.
constricted softness holding eternity,
the whispers and imprints of
what was, what is.
what hasn’t been -
its dull and studded wall not yet clambered over,
a blurred imagining
in our ever-present minds.
they say we need more presence, or to “be present”
i said it myself just two days ago, if I could just be present
to the beauty of the present
enjoy it as much as my heart deems it wants.
but why the “if” -
if that’s my solution…
to how i wish to be in a state of happiness,
how i am seeking ways of thinking
to make it so.
if I just think in the PRESENT, and positively at that…
THEN, i can enjoy the NOW and
will be just as good.
For it will be its own present, of its own.
i’m just not sure that
that’s the way of thinking
i wish to choose and employ.
i sit in the dark at my desk, having forgotten to close the window from the evening chill,
i sit and realize i’m freezing, and thirsty,
and a candle burns upon the dresser/altar
joined by the light of the laptop screen,
and the sound machine loops its static heartbeat womb noises from the baby’s room down the hall…
and i am unsure.
need to take a breath.
again i ask my soul, my anything, my world and existence.
how can I see into those soft warm folds of everythingness?
can i reach in and just hug my grandparents, or, be hugged by them?
that’s all I wonder for now, as i cry a prayer of wishing my family safe,
after breaking into tears
standing in the kitchen after putting the baby to bed,
ready to make dinner but first, bang! -
- a thousands sadness bubbles burst around my body and being…
In tears I leave the kitchen to kneel on the yoga mat left from some earlier lazy stretching.
its blue color, along with the welcoming hardness of the wood floor, embrace my prostration
but I can only last a minute before retreating to the bedroom and letting my body fall as if in slow motion onto the bed.
Feels like I have so much to cry about. There’s no time for crying right now, it’s late and you gotta go make dinner, I tell myself.
But the tears continue unchecked until I wipe my face a few minutes later, rise to light a candle and burn some palo santo (because I’m a gypsy hippie after all), and sit down on the blue exercise bouncy ball that is my desk chair. Open the “drafts” file off a fresh desktop window on my macbook to begin typing, but am caught off guard by the last thing I had written here. So I read it. Proofread it sort of. It makes me cry harder for a moment and then all at once it helps me to stop crying. The text was a sort of birth story, written as a review of my doctor. It’s too long (said yelp when I tried to post it), even though I thought I was keeping it succinct. I thought people wrote pretty long essay-ish reviews on there so I went at it. Was too long and I never posted it, having seen that in the 17 months since he delivered my baby, he had gotten loads of positive reviews. ANYWAY,
the paragraphs on the bright screen, dimmed to contrast less with the darkness of the room, but still very bright…
small thin letters carried me out of the sadness. it had been such a soaking, heavy-ish feeling - encompassing my entire self and requiring full lay-down-on-bed maneuvering. it’s a bit like grief, never quite going away.
it’s grief. it never goes away.
it gets smoothed and coated. it gets hidden, or tangled, or processed in a healthy way and released.
(that last one is bullshit)
it never goes away. you can “release it” and think it’s released, observe it as released, commemorate it as such, teach others how to do likewise, describe how and why, when and where, with whom, through what, how else. infinite ways of dealing. of healing. of words and words and thoughts, feelings, dreams, travels, trips, quests, voyages and pilgrimages. of infinities. infinities onto infinities.
and then - plop!
back to you, just you.
a woman on an edge,
from maiden to mother.
and rejoicing. always.
the grief is there, but it becomes something else. creativity. and something akin to an angelic power. an amplifier. a never-ending blessing.
i reach my arm into a nondescript void,
a void which so embodies the meaning of a void
that it is not a void -
and I feel my feet follow in step…
am I here?
inside the everything?
When I was pregnant with Geo, I didn't think much into what I wanted him to "be" or "do." I think most of us women spend our pregnancies simply imagining health and happiness for our child's life, knowing that we will love them unconditionally, and support them in whatever fulfills them. Although, with Geo, I had one recurring thought, and voiced it to certain friends and family once or twice:
"He's going to be an acrobat."
I don't know why, and it isn't like that was ever a dream of my own. (I dreamt of being an actress and visual artist). But having seen my first Cirque Du Soleil show (Mystere) when I was 7 years old, and then Quidam when I was nine - I remember the heart-opening, magical effect of seeing human bodies fly and whirl through the air. I didn't know what the feeling was back then, but I believe that my heart speeding up and skipping beats and launching into my throat were all sensations of the heart chakra/energy center blasting open. The synthesis of the music, staging, costuming, lighting, etc with the indescribably beautiful movement of the performers in the mystical big-top was not only mesmerizing - it was spiritually transcendent. Like a phantasmagorical, super-colorful, multi-sensory, multi-dimensional initiation into a thought-form beyond the everyday processes to which we are accustomed.
After an experience of initiation, there is an integration period in which an individual might go through challenging moments - due to latent concepts, memories, desires, or sensations coming to the surface. They are there to be acknowledged and learned from. They reveal aspects of the true self. They bring growth and strength, and if surrendered to, they can open portals to further initiation; into endless truths and wonders. Life (perhaps eternally) is one initiation after another. We are constantly evolving.
At Quidam, my mother bought me the program booklet. I repeatedly stared at the faces of the acrobats and felt an obsessive admiration. I made a program of my own with drawings of each figurine in my collection of small toys. They comprised an epic choir/performance troupe of which I was the director, and I modeled their square-shaped "headshots" on the Cirque ones. Having been Russian-born in Odessa, Ukraine, I felt connected to many of the Quidam cast-members who were Russian. I felt the fire of a lifelong yearning for the performing arts being stoked by my remembrance of the show - the spectacle - I had witnessed. Studying dance since the age of 3 (still am!), I was already a campy stage kid, but nothing in the world had affected me the way that show did.
I mentioned the integration period after an initiation because looking back, I feel as if my nine-year-old self was somehow aware that I [it] was on a spiritual quest. Deeply in my heart, I am a mystic. One who connects to higher power through creativity and resonance, who finds solace in breath and song, who seeks truth but tries to not let it get trapped in dogma. Back then, at nine, I experienced a couple weeks of what I would now actually describe as depression. I felt a dark dread in the mornings, I felt like crying for no obvious reason, I felt unmotivated. I was sad that my direct experience of Quidam was over. I was sad that I wasn’t in that tent, hearing that music and seeing those acts, and I felt sad that my only link to that magic was my memory. I think that’s why I obsessed so much over the program booklet, leafing through it endlessly and drawing up my own version. I think those couple weeks of a nine-year-old’s depressive funk were my integration period after experiencing one of the most intense and transformative initiations of my life (and there have been, and will be, many).
What was I integrating? Ancient dreams of flight? Seemingly intangible career goals as an artist? Visions of my future which I had no way of comprehending at the time? The story-line and characters of the show and their impact on my young self as an immigrant, only-child, daughter of two artists, creative kid with big dreams?
Was I able to surrender to those sensations? Those arching truths leaning into my soul’s periphery, hinting to me that I would always love the arts, passionately and recklessly, whimsically and beyond-words-achingly? I would become a theater geek in high school, major in Dramatic Art in college, dance in various companies, spend a year in Egypt engaging in some exhaustively scrupulous soul-searching… and become (and be in a constant state of becoming) a visual and performing artist.
Yet, there is something deeper. Beyond the sensation of my own future as an artist, beyond the emotional pull of a bottomless scope of inspiration, beyond the realization that I could do nothing except live and breathe for creativity… I look back now, and think - perhaps, I was sensing, somewhere very subtly, somehow and sometime, that I would raise a child in the arts, and he would learn to fly through the air, and he would open hearts.
He would lift his eyelids to reveal the deepest depths of sea and sky, soaring through grids of starlight and bouncing from stratosphere to ether. This would be my little son, or daughter, propelling through the air like a dragonfly and causing wide grins to materialize on the faces of anyone watching…
It’s just a vision. A little dream. Albeit a grain of the molecular magic of which we’re made. Nevertheless, a dream. Did I dream it at nine, or did I dream it the other day while experiencing the latest Cirque Du Soleil show to come to Los Angeles, Kurios? I sat there just as sweetly stupefied and exhilarated, squeezing my lover’s shoulder and letting my eyes fill with tears not once, not twice, but three times throughout the show… marveling at every single detail. Whether it was this show, or the one I saw as a child, or any other moment of life which spoke to my soul - I know beneath my intuition’s veil, there is truth in art, and there is truth in being creative. I don’t “think” about what my son will “be,” but I suppose I do think about what I’d love for him to “do…”
Be creative. Live with imagination. That’s it.
Just found this as a saved screenshot in my folder titled "works in progress." It's timestamped August 26, 2013, but I don't particularly remember writing it [then]. Don't know where and within which text file these paragraphs may be, but I kind of paused after coming across them while looking for something else this evening. Then or now, or anywhere ever, I feel all this every moment, every breath. It's often a challenge to detach from it and just breathe for breathing's sake. My Holiday prayer is that we breathe with the world; for the world. That we ask, "what can we learn? How can we improve?" That we express our love in any way we can find it true to our hearts. That we can expand our brains and allow them to grow and evolve. For the betterment of the Earth and all its habitats and inhabitants!
Photo of a Northern CA woodland by my father, Alex Chemerisov
We are tipped away from the sun
here in the north.
While the southern hemisphere hovers closer…
in the balance.
In the long night here.
In the long day there.
I used to celebrate this magic
Mainly aware of my dome of the earth,
a sense of “up,” a notion of “top,” a realm of
which are not really “up” at all.
They are just half -
and the world “down south” is another half.
Together they form a wobbly sphere
in all its chaotic majesty.
It whirls itself by a force of elegant nature
and holds us to it
with a magnetic pull
like unconditional love…
As much as we plunder the lands, the waters, the ethers,
Earth’s gravity does not let us go.
Thank you, world of colors, elements, sounds, creatures…
you are our ground.
I hate to ask you for more,
but please help us
grow better at
In stretches of nighttime dreaming…
in expanses of daytime becoming.
This evening, washing dishes, and a memory materializes,
that of a moment when I knew something
unconsciously, but knew it still.
My love had brought me to the little snowy town of Aspen,
and we were going to lunch at a cafe in a bookstore,
or was it after lunch…?
Either way we were on the sidewalk,
and crossed a pair of mothers with their children.
My cold, ungloved hand
- the one not holding the hand of my beloved -
hung empty and casual at my side.
One of the children,
a boy of three or so,
had become detached from his mother for a few seconds as she spoke to her friend.
He took my hand, in his sweet confusion, and took a couple strides with us in our direction.
The two women giggled and called to him,
I squeezed his little fingers and reoriented him, laughing and shrugging
and secretly ecstatic inside myself,
because I felt that I was to become a mother soon myself.
I didn’t know it then, but I was a couple weeks pregnant.
I didn’t know. But I knew.
Intuitive suspicions live inside wily cells.
They know better than I. They smile quietly while
my solid being slides itself through experiences such as that one.
Experiences such as now,
standing at the sink and listening to the refrigerator hum amidst the otherwise silent woods.
What am I unconsciously yet joyfully suspicious of now?
What intuition lurks behind my tired yet happy form?
My mother’s face today
They say with age
that beauty fades.
But I have proof
I wonder how many beds stand empty every night
while people sleep in discomfort on the street.
Sometimes I think, well, some people are just nomads.
there are nomadic people all over the place,
there have always been nomadic people…
But a group which travels together
is different from an individual who has perhaps lost his way,
who travels alone
who sits in grime…
Does he sit and wonder, how do I get out of this situation?
Or does he hunch and limp across the road while thinking,
yes, this is what I wanted. No responsibility, nothing to answer to, it’s just easier this way…?
We just can’t know what he is thinking,
what brought him to his position,
what led him to choose this corner, this wall, this fetid alley. We don’t know. And we don’t want to.
We write him off and turn our head. Our own lives are enough to work on.
But back to those empty beds…
I watched some men constructing a new hotel the other day -
(in fact, there is constant construction all over the city)
but it is all meant for people who have money -
perhaps rightfully so - for why should the sweat and
labor of the builders provide for anyone undeserving?
I just wonder what it means
a bed to rest on. Some privacy, some water
with which to wash, some light to read by, or even
a device with which to listen to some music or watch a film…
such luxuries… simple yet so unattainable for so many.
If I say, let’s allow people to sleep in empty hotel rooms without having to pay,
like, there could be a website or an app which would link up location with availability
(and if you think homeless people can’t get online, please visit the Hollywood libraries and take note)
and an individual
can check in.
Be brought a meal.
I know I know I know!
This reason and that reason and this and that and you just can’t give people stuff for free, and it’s just enabling them, and who exactly is paying for this? and how are the maids going to get out the smell, and what about their carts full of crap, and aren’t they’re going to do drugs! and it’s not a real solution for anything just a temporary pleasure and this and that and this and that, I know! I know I can’t write up this idea without it failing before it reaches even just the end of the thought thinking it. I know. It’s self-defeating.
It only exists in my imaginary, poverty-less world -
where transient living
is still a reality,
(for it is a lifestyle which many souls perhaps require in the process of searching for themselves and seeing the world in a particular way)
but it in this imagined world,
is actually supported,
and not so sunken in mire as it is here now…
The Dervish, oil on wood, by Vera Rey (a.k.a. my mother Yelena Chemerisov)
Today on the radio I heard that Mayor Garcetti has declared a State of Emergency for Los Angeles’s homelessness. A hundred million dollars is to be spent on more service workers and shelters. Despite being advised to not focus on this issue (as it supposedly “kills votes” and people just wish it would go away without actually having to do anything about it), the mayor is deciding to make it a priority, and to give it a sense of urgency. Of course there’s a sense of urgency! The people I pass daily on the streets here in Hollywood - they need help urgently. I imagine each hour and each day spent in discomfort and hunger is not something that might as well just stretch into longer periods, until the person becomes even more destitute, and the people who are “better off” judge them even more severely (“they choose to live this way,” “why should they get anything for free when I work hard,” etc). I think the urgency is the missing key.
The suffering is not only apparent, but exponential - in that the people who have struggled and sickened and sought refuge without finding any haven are rotting in squalor, while the people who have the energy, creativity, ingenuity, and resources to think up and implement possible solutions are misdirected in their aims. We’ve been programmed to look the other way, we’ve been set up in a fierce rat race to prove our worth to one another in terms of possessions, accomplishments, colorful journeys and beautiful offspring. Believe me when I admit that my baby being born a total cutie pie makes me feel like a huge success, treated to doting reverie from the world which I receive daily in the form of compliments from strangers and friends, each one making me feel like a super human for just having reproduced. This giddy joy has such power to distract me from the pain in the world. But it also teaches me, everyday, that I have accomplished nothing, if I do not augment my happiness with a purpose.
During my pregnancy, and now ten months of my baby’s life, my purpose has been to be healthy and make the transition into motherhood. Most days this task has been all I could focus on, but as I gain more steadiness in this new footing, the shadows in my heart lean more and more into my view. They bow in, slowly creeping, and often withdraw quickly as if they don’t want me to notice, for fear of fracturing my glittering bubble of carefree living. But they know. There’s no such thing as carefree, when 2 billion people on our planet live in poverty. My shadows have had to learn, however, that they cannot disguise themselves as guilt, and take away from my true joy. I think all of our shadows must learn this. We can’t help anyone if we think we shouldn’t be happy out of solidarity for the poor, the ill, and the innocent immersed in violence.
Because there are so many instances of these poor, ill, violent things in our current existence (which also pulls with it the weight of the past poor, ill, violent things), the shadows in our hearts need to be allowed full entrance into view. We need to embrace them and understand their significance. We need to grow stronger through the processes of healing, and then assert our power to influence the world.
Tonight’s moon is so close to us it’s called a Supermoon. It’s aligned with the Sun and eclipsed so perfectly by the Earth that it’s glowing blood-red as it reflects all the light off of our planet. It’s the harvest moon, and it orbits us in celebration of the crops coming in, our work paying off, our stock for the winter, our keep and sustenance. Oh to be as connected to older agricultural cycles than we are in our industrialized stupor. Perhaps we’d tap into compassion easier. If we understood that all the bounty we enjoy comes with a price, a give and take… a tilling, a seeding, a sprouting, a nourishing, a reaping, a processing, and only then - the consuming.
I ask tonight’s moon - do you feel it, our dullness? Our greed? Our distraction? I see you float there, far away with the magic of space between us, holding the distance at an ebbing radius, never wishing to touch, just circling, just leading us in our dance of ignorance. Or can you illuminate our potential? Come even closer, moon, I wish you didn’t fear us. We are quite lost. You’re bleeding for us as you take our shadow. And behind us, that scepter sun is standing true as ever, casting its brightness everywhere except on you, as we pass through.
My new purpose in life, as a mother and a citizen of the world, is to think about the way a world without poverty will look. How it will feel, smell, taste, sound. How it will resonate in our souls. (I think of poverty as including all wars and violence, for it both stems from and causes these things.) My words may not always fall to the screen or paper clearly, my thoughts may not always connect logically, and my actions may certainly not always reflect my preference for how I think the world “should be.” After years of inadvertently subconsciously punishing myself for not living up to ideals, I now shed the snakeskin of perfectionism and striving, and step into an attempt at pure imagination. It’s the only thing that has ever gotten me anywhere. The only place I want to get to, though, is a place right here already within my soul. I suppose I want to figure out how to expand it so infinitely, that everyone else’s universe of being can intertwine and pulse together, strengthening each connection point, beautifying each wavelength in between.
I heard that our president also had something to say today about world poverty and how it had to be our priority… and after the thoughts I had yesterday about wanting to think only about this question of how the world could be without it… well… my thoughts now scatter into tiredness and various things from today float before me… the Pope’s visit… Amma’s birthday… moon in Aries… moon… moon… shadow… red… harvest… light… blood… world… poor… ill… a prayer for the suffering people in our world is left on my consciousness. And a prayer for those of us living with utter joy. And a prayer for every cell and every atom. And every star and supernova. Peace. Blasted through the everythingness like a massive sneeze from the god that is our brain in the act of thinking. Thinking it so. Letting it become.
"Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness. And so to whatever degree any one of us, can bring back a small piece of the picture and contribute it to the building of the new paradigm, then we participate in the redemption of the human spirit, and that after all is what it's really all about."
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