duality

Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.

Willem Dafoe

The more simple we are, the more complete we become.

Auguste Rodin

sitting alone in our homes, isolating, distancing, and fearing the other, we connect. we fall down deep enough to realize that we are standing on the same ground.

i live in a town with a culture of social distancing even when there is no pandemic. in my seven or eight trips outside within the past 32 days of complete isolation, i have seen companions in the eyes of strangers more times than i have in my past year of living here.

“Erosion of Self” from LIGHT OF CONSCIENCE series, Jeffrey Smith

why do we need forced separation to feel together?

why do we need a crisis of losing lives to realize the value of each moment?

why do we need a perceived enemy to realize we are all on the same team?

four days ago, i make my trip to the grocery store. after being forced to play a stressful game of bumper/shopping carts for safety reasons my last trip, i decide to exchange more money for a higher chance of peace at the small organic shop. i’m rewarded.

a man stands at the door with a mask and gloves. he greets the customers who enter the war zone. in our greeting, we both realize what it means to greet someone. he welcomes me in to to one of the hotspots of today’s crisis. humans navigate the small aisles authentically, empathy and fear both doing their role in guiding each action.

i race to bag my items as the next customer’s items fall down the belt. the pace of the grocery bagging in germany hasn’t followed suit in adopting slowness. i’m unable to give my usual extra energy to meet the unrealistic speed the items are being slid at me. i’m able to not care. a gloved hand places the wooden divider down sympathetically, granting me space to breathe. i look behind to the newly formed lines, meeting the eyes of several onlookers. my physicality probably portrayed more drama than i intended. used to the german glare, self-trained to look away instead of offering my smile, i habitually flick my eyes away. i hate myself for this, always, but it feels better than the coldness of heart an unmet exchange offers. but in the second i did look, i sense something different than the usual. daringly flicking my eyes back, i see a smile forming on the face of an older man. i take pleasure in letting my smile fully bloom, encouraging his to do the same. together we receive each other, together we wade into this new territory.

outside, a biking couple takes up the entire sidewalk with their blasting boombox and two dogs, one loose and one sitting on the handle bars. a different set of rules is emerging. i mount my grocery-ordained bike and meet the four eyes of the man and the pup riding with him. within our minuscule community we are consumed by simple joy, just for a moment.

beautiful purple flowers shoot up from the path of grass between the bicycle lane and the sidewalk. i stare at them with the amazement they deserve, my eyes extra sensitive to the different forms life takes. a woman passing by on the sidewalk reaches out with her gaze to affirm my amazement. life is blooming from dark soil of the earth after months of cold hibernation. a model for us.

this is the most pleasant trip i have had outside in a city, perhaps ever. the bliss, the easy camaraderie that i have only felt at festivals bubbles and fizzes all over the relatively deserted and anxious streets. basking in the surreal atmosphere, one last passerby sees the peace in my eyes. i feel his eyes, his being, reach out and drink in the essence i have become over the past hour, thirsty for the same bliss, safety, and community. we say simple hellos, flavored in tones of urgency and acknowledgment. we are here together.

When I had nothing to lose, I had everything. When I stopped being who I am, I found myself.

Paulo Coelho

a tiny golden egg lays inside this incredibly painful, challenging, depressing, uncertain, lonely time. through opposition, through reflection, through duality, we are being shown community in isolation. we are being shown life in death. we are being shown creativity in stillness.

i wish that we fully realize what is being shown, allowing ourselves to learn and receive the entire message, the full spectrum, of this time. ultimately we don’t need isolation to feel community, and we don’t need a higher awareness of death to appreciate life if we make conscious choices of where to place our attention.

it’s all happening, it’s all existing, all the time.

by James Nix

why?

why do we act like each other don’t exist? why is it more comfortable to look at an advertisement? everyone looking into space like we don’t exist.

together, ignoring reality. hiding in their own.

what if we all stopped walking at once, in silence, and then went into dance. everyone dancing together. on the sidewalks, in the parks, in the train, on bikes, on stairs. creating a force that would allow us all to stop. and come together as one.

fall into reality.

and why do kids only have playtime? does it make sense that at a certain age, deemed by the calendar and by time, we lose our sense of play. only work. why can’t we play?

a man plays the violin.

everyone ignores him. i don’t give money. i give a smile. he plays and walks on.

through, out.

and in.

poems of 3 places, poems of 3 months

PORTUGAL

thick
the blanket lays low
on the mountains
heavy
layers of flags, blowing.
a tree passes by
grey and warm
a family stands
black + pink
individual + total
sensuality in the darkness
the expression that is everything
flowing through my body
for the first time
the excitement of the child
i feel it again,
i remember.

ZURICH

we meet again.
pink skies and the icy wind
electric points and the silent abyss.
when do these points of opposition meet? light reflects off her waters,
when will it meet
the light of mine?
space stands between,
but i am you,
and you i.
i sit on your banks
strands of green hope
growing between us
strands connecting borders of perception.
when i perceive you,
i perceive me.
we are one.

TEL AVIV

out of the bright sun
i write, my
desires crash against the edges of the beach 
wishes float above
i am caught by that which i believe,
and held by that which i let go.
with the light of the sun, reflecting off the split moon
 i find my way in the dark.
setting intentions
adding to the light
till the light is full, suspended in the dark and intentions blossom
spreading seed,
offering nectar.
portugal // august 2019 – zurich, switzerland // october 2019 – tel aviv // january 2020

as told by water

They say that water has memory.  Its chemical structure remembers, from the beginning of time, until now.  

Our story, surrounded and contained by water.
Formless and formed, adjusting and adjusted, absorbing and absorbed.

location:  Berlin, Germany  

water:  Mügelsee

Together in the sun, he is sitting on the bank as I swim to meet him through the grass of the lake.  I slowly stand up, sensing each drop of water roll down my naked body, each drop reflecting in the light of his eyes.  Hummus, pita, olives, red wine serve as sensory distractions.  The bliss floats out of our laughing mouths.  We wade through the water, our chests and lower bellies meet.  I feel the heat of a deep knowing and exchange.  A shy look to the left, a drop of fear joins.  The water reflects the sun back into our faces and eyes, encouraging us to trust in the brightness.  Do we notice?  We choose not to discuss the answer.  Diving back into the cool water, the heat of our connection and the heat of our impending separation dissolve.  For now, we are one.  Me, him, the water.

location:  Amsterdam, Netherlands  

water:  The Amstel

Five months pass with the Pacific calmly flowing between us.  I in the West and him in the East. I am consumed by the heat of our separation; I crave to slip into the cold, silvery blanket of the sea with him, to leave this behind; I do this.  We meet at the canal, time pauses, the moon shines down on our tight chests.  Did we see the brightness reflected back at us five months ago?  Do we choose this brightness or do we choose fear, do we choose darkness?  Holding hands, we step and step, slowly, deeper and deeper, matching the pace of the flowing water next to us.  Holding hands, we look at each other from the peak of our individual mountains, seeing a home in each others eyes but noting the dark abyss between us.  The only way to meet is to reach the base of the mountain and tread across the solid ground.  Our story begins its descent.

location:  Faro, Portugal

water:  The Atlantic Ocean

Seven months pass.  Halfway down the perceived inner mountains, we stand shoulder to shoulder at the edge of the European continent, looking out over the Atlantic with no land in sight.  The red sun stretches over the horizon, becoming wider and wider in a way I have never seen before.  It appears to be on the edge of the universe as we know it, someplace in an oasis of time.  I desire to go there with him, to hold his hand and step onto the surface of the limitless water, defying gravity as the pull of the sun and timeless space slowly melts us together. His lies and betrayal meet with my potential desires; the former wins.

location:  Munich, Germany

water:  The Isar

The river rushes around my calves and ankles.  My feat grip into the dirt, my hands clutch the stones.  He sits on the river bank, stable; I stand in the river, fighting the flow.  A storm cloud rolls in, covering us in its darkness and thick drops.  The space between us breaks, we becoming two people fighting the same battle.  Rain pours into our faces, matts our hair, clothes cling to our bodies.  The repetitive motion of the bicycles is the only familiarity.  A few times I drive meters with my eyes closed.  By this time I have gotten good at moving forward blindly.  We pause under a bridge and wrap ourselves in a dry cloth.  The smell of my palo santo cleansed home is in the fabric.  A sad attempt at protection from our reality.

location:  Tel Aviv, Israel

water:  The Mediterranean Sea

We sit together by the Mediterranean.  I can’t escape the heat.  The heat of the sand.  The heat of the air.  The heat of the water.  The heat of my lies in my stomach.  I am trapped, and so is he.  We are trapped in our own heat, and even the water isn’t cool enough to soothe us.  He throws his plastic bottle with enough force to break us into pieces.  It happens.  The bottle hits the ground.  Our individual truths come out with the shattering of our reality.  Everything flows.  The bottle is thrown away.  Recycling isn’t popular in Israel. 

location:  Berlin, Germany

water:  The Spree

I finally find the courage to say goodbye.  Water takes its most intimate form, now able to cool us once more, wrapping our hot faces in heavy drips of saltiness.  It pours down.  It consumes.  It transports.  A tear rests on his cheek, not eager to flow down.  I see it as an invitation to unite our individual waters.  My gentle kiss becomes a suck, I take the tear in my mouth and we become one.  Molecules meeting, bodies parting.