Saturday, January 19, 2008

Travelling Light

Dear Blue Cheesers, 

I've been waiting to have something real to say that won't dissolve into human ego as soon as I put it down. The longer I wait, the bluer this cheese gets. It's now sea blue.

I've been reading and writing all my life. For a time I even thought that if I practiced, I might get good at it, and that would be part of my contribution to the development of human consciousness. Recently I've been reading Rumi, Gibran, Taha Muhammad Ali, Alice Walker, especially Alice Walker, the grandmother goddess....They are brave and tender Wise ones and I found myself beginning to write like them. Like when I was reading a lot of Christopher Durang and started writing wacky scenes for plays that I never finished. (Or the way I hope kids are starting to behave with courage and love after reading the final Harry Potter.) You know how that is? We give out that which we take in, and when we surround ourselves by those we admire perhaps we hope that we take on those qualities. Then at some point maybe we realize our works are just weak imitations of an inner light that is not our own. Yet still, maybe in the light we borrow from Them, we eventually find our own. 

Denali and I have reduced our packs drastically for our future travel. If all goes well we have a ride on someone's boat from San Diego, California to Mazatlan, Mexico, and from somewhere south we'll keep looking for rides across the Pacific to India or Singapore. That's the plan anyway. And this will all be much easier if we don't have huge things on our backs like we had when we were on tour across the country. 

I know longer put quotemarks around the word tour, because that's actually what we did, no joke, no irony, no sarcasm. We travelled and performed, professionally, in most senses of the word. It's a nice feeling to know it's possible to do that in a way that nurtures our souls. 

The next adventure will be very different. And we need light packs for it. In more senses than one, of the word Light. 

We went to our friend Ian's house in Mendocino for a couple days to hang out and help a little bit with re-building his family's house. It burned down last year, completely down. It's a good thing they had insurance. Real insurance. They couldn't get the fake paper-kind, because the insurance company wouldn't do it for an old wooden house (go figure), but they had the real people-kind. Over the years they had built a nourishing network of family and friends and love that helped them take what could have been a traumatic experience and turn it into one of renewal and gratitude. That's what I call real insurance. 

Someone gifted Kathy, Ian's mom, with a book called Traveling Light ("Journeys of Simplicity: Traveling Light with Thomas Merton, Basho, Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard and Others" by Philip Harnden) to help her in her journey beyond Stuff. I happened on it gladly just as I was about to move beyond my own Stuff towards a much lighter backpack, and needing some inspiration for it.

I lost my wallet yesterday. Or, it fell out of my pocket, and by the time I went back to look for it, someone had taken it. I was briefly bummed,  but the lines I most remember of the book rubbed salve and blew on my wounds. "We delight in things, and we delight in being loosed from things. Between the two we dance our lives."

The book spoke of the many meanings of travelling light. Light materially, but also light spiritually. About taking things lightly. About travelling by our own inner light. The one that the many brave and tender Wise Ones can help us find. 

Denali and I went for a class with another wise one, Jean Couch, at the Balance Center in Palo Alto. She gave us a taste of how it feels to let our bones do the work they're meant to do, so that we can feel light and energetic like we're meant to. It's a lifelong work of re-alignment for us. It's fun. I strongly suggest you give it a try if you're anywhere near her, and feel anything less than weightless. 

So now we travel with lighter packs. And lighter bodies. And lighter minds. And that means less words. Maybe I don't need to read and write and think and speak all the time. Maybe human consciousness delights not only in creating new works, but in savoring old ones again and again. Bathing in them. Seeing them anew each time. And in silence, it most surely delights in silence.  
I tend to build my cheeses around the marking of an occasion. Mahatma Gandhi's birthday. The shutdown of San Francisco after the first day of the bombing of Iraq (the second time around). My re-discovery of the meaning of Work through the peeling of cashews. I started a cheese for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and never got around to finishing it. I started a cheese for the day Denali and I drove out to the ocean (and really cross the country coast to coast) just before leaving Washington after spending six weeks working (lightly) on a farm on the Olympic Peninsula, in which I would have told you about the unspeakable largeness of existence there, and the magick Wand of Wanting that I found (with which you could bless someone to want to be what they are, not want to be what they're not.) and never got around to finishing it. I started a cheese describing the contents of a beautiful calendar that Denali's mom Linda had given us, made by the Syracuse Cultural Workers, that seemed to me to represent perfectly the way I see history and humanity and the balance between resistance and creation, but I didn't get around to copying down the appropriate events from the calendar before I left with my friend Kellea because we're lightening our packs. So many cheeses lost like that, dropped like my wallet, through carelessness, mindlessness. Or. Through lightness?

And now, if all goes well, we set sail on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr Day. All this week I thought I was building a cheese for him. For you all and me to think about him. And I thought perhaps my teacher Alice Walker would visit. But I didn't get around to copying down the passage from her book "We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For" before I left it with my friend Neilu because we've lightened our packs. 

One of the few books we're taking with us is "In the Absence of the Sacred" written by, I kid you not, Jerry Mander. From the little bits Denali has read, it seems most excellent and lucid and balanced and soulful. It says computers are poopie (like I needed to read a book to know that).

And it's a beautiful day outside. And I don't need to write anymore for you to know I love you, even if I missed seeing you when I passed through your area, or I didn't get around to organizing the performance for you, or I haven't written to congratulate you on your wedding, or your birthday, or the success of your project, or your gift-free family Christmas, or the very fact that you exist. 

Lightly, lovingly, 
Malavika Ammu Mali Emu



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