“Hi. I’m V.”
I glanced up from my book and saw light. Their* smile; how it mirrored the magnetism of the Universe. Pulling me to them. Them to me. We met at a meditation retreat in Big Bear.
(*Both this person and myself use the pronouns ‘they, them’ as a singular. We exist outside of the binary.)
They later said they don’t know why they came and introduced themselves; it wasn’t their usual character.
I remember the pure joy we shared as they accompanied me to find a tree.
It was beautiful; this tree.
steady. still. gentle.
Not many render the word gentle to the descriptive visage of a tree. But.
I feel their gentleness every time we meet.
I remember us talking after one of the groups. How closely we sat; each one leaning against the other, closing the gap of time and space.
I remember the ease between us when I drove up for a visit. We sat separately, together; reading.
Shifted into subconsciousness as tiredness swept over us, then emerged from our afternoon naps in almost perfect synchronicity.
I remember the day I moved in. Departing San Diego at sunrise; car fully packed for the journey ahead. I remember how overwhelmed I felt, arriving at this unknown place.
Time and time again, I have stood here;
this precipice of change.
Daring to answer the call of my heart.
Risking everything that is for the possibility of what could be.
Daring to move: beyond comfort. beyond fear.
How irrational is this thing:
Causing my breath to quicken in the night as I went from my bed to the bathroom.
Let’s not forget the horrors that have happened in the night.
Such a diligent tyrant is it,
a skilled conjurer:
masterfully manifesting phantoms
never satisfied with just the capture
Please don’t do this to me, I say.
I just want to go to the bathroom in peace.
Please don’t do this to me, we say.
I just really want to be free.
it cares not of our peace.
it cares not of our dreams.
it cares not of our soul.
it cares not of these things.
No amount of begging.
No amount of pleading.
Pointless are our attempts to employ reason.
to see just ‘how long’ it can keep us imprisoned.
how long can it get us to listen?
louder and louder
LOuder and LOuder
LOUDer and LOUDer
LOUDER and LOUDER
such illustrious contortions
from this grand magician
the way it distorts. the way that it lies
anything to get us to listen:
“I know that with this person, you can’t share the deepest parts of you;
and what you really desire, is a love that feels alive.
But do you really want to risk being alone for something that may never be actualized?
At least you have ‘someone’ by your side.
You want to leave your job to follow a silly dream?
I’m not saying it won’t work out; but things don’t always go your way.
Your job isn’t that bad.
I just want you to be safe.
If you take these risks, who knows if you’ll be okay.
I know you don’t feel connected to your purpose;
you’re wondering if maybe there’s ‘more’.
But you don’t know what’s out there.
Do you really want to walk through that door?”
ensnared by this sham
fear then devours
it. has. won.
and now our demise:
and what of our soul
our love and
what of this precious
we install security systems
this room, we’ll paint green
we hang up our beautiful pictures
display all our shiny things
we host a big party
so all we know can see
just how happy we are
“I’m doing so well. Look at me.”
We don’t escape our prisons.
we move in,
“Look at what I’ve acquired.
Can’t you see that I’m happy here.
I have everything I need.
You have no proof of this prison of fear?”
we deny and we excuse
strategic in what we display
and in moments of stillness
we feel it rise. we feel the ache
“I CANNOT BREATHE IN HERE.
SET. ME. FREE. OF. THIS. CAGE!
THERE IS ‘NOTHING’ ABOUT ME
THAT IS MEANT TO BE TAMED!”
we hear its voice as clear as day
we drown it out
we look away
and so we numb
this ache of our ‘existence’
we dare not look
at how our light has dimmed
we dare not look
at this decorated prison
How can something not real, achieve something so splendid?
there’s more of the story to be told.
as for that tyrant
when it spoke in my ear
I answered it back:
“I am safe.
I will NOT listen to fear.”
night after night
again and again
I recited my mantra
I would not let fear win
decades in its prison
I was finally free
I’ll be damned if I go back in
it would not capture me
I heard its voice. felt its rage
fear: desperate to seize
one day I left my room
and the only one I heard was me.
I told my housemate about my fear.
I remember their compassion; they bought night lights and put one in the hallway.
I remember when we drove to the desert; another meditation retreat. We played this game: finding things from a-z.
Speaking of games, competitive Scorpios that we are: I remember when we agreed on a tie in Phase 10. We laughed at our own ridiculousness of such an impossible thing.
I remember struggling throughout my time at the retreat. And I remember every time my friend showed kindness to me:
On day two, I found a note. One word was written, metta: a meditation practice of sending loving-kindness to ourselves and others. A heart was drawn but no name. It didn’t need one. I knew who it was from.
On day three, they came over, stooped down, placed their hands tenderly on my legs and asked how I was doing. They were warm. They were gentle.
I remember lounging on the couch at home, watching what we called ‘trash tv’.
We played singing bowls. We meditated. We danced it out. We were silly. We were free.
I remember when there was friction, we’d find a way to talk it out. There’s one conversation that still rests in my heart. We explored how we could be in harmony. How could ‘their strong’ and ‘my strong’ coexist in this space in a way that doesn’t wound. And if it does, how can we bring ourselves back?
“Strong soft.” I said.
“What does that mean?”
I expounded. ‘Their strong’ and ‘my strong’ could soften in moments when we find ourselves shifting into disharmony. We pause. We reflect. We soften to that which is in us. We soften to that which is in the other. And in this softening, we keep our ‘strong’. Can not the way of the warrior, be also the path of peace?
We agreed. We would commit to ‘strong soft’ in moments where our egos might emerge and lead us astray. When our egos might emerge and lead us away:
away from light
away from seeing.
And emerged it did
it came like a fire
Putting to test
this ‘strong soft’ desire.
I remember the day they arrived. We were trying to get through another episode of trash tv before they drove up. Their partner, two children, two of their friends and two dogs, coming from Phoenix for spring break. The plan was for them to stay two weeks. It was at the start of the pandemic. My housemate decided that they wanted to do a trial live in with their partner. This trial was originally supposed to take place in June, which was going to be when I moved into a new place; they no longer wanted to wait.
Here it comes… the ignition.
“This is not what we agreed. It feels overwhelming with all the change. It’s too much to ask of me.”
“This is what I want.” they said. “It’s my house so it’s really up to me.”
And there it was, our ego
the fire, it was lit
a small blaze, to begin
bigger and bigger, did it get.
I lost my job due to the organization needing to close its doors on account of the pandemic. I felt powerless; this is the last place I wanted to be. I remember waking up to this strange sound. It was around midnight. I looked toward my door and saw there was something on the floor. I turned my lamp on and discovered an envelope.
Inside it: a notice for me to move out.
I responded that I was unable to move due to the loss of my job and ongoing pandemic; California was one of the many states that put protections into place for renters.
“You still have 2.5 weeks to find housing. I will be seeking legal action if you fail to move out by May 31, 2020.”
“I know my rights.”
“This is legally my home. The sheriff will escort you out if you fail to leave on your own.”
I remember this day; remember the burn; my heart scorched from the blaze.
I remembered George Floyd; it was after his murder. Only a mere four days.
We had both enrolled in a meditation facilitator training with InsightLA. It was the first day. I was in San Diego. Hearing the teachers speak of the principles of being in community, I remembered something.
I sent them a text; surely we can find the path of peace
I remember looking at my phone
seeing their words and
for a moment, everything stood still
my breath. my body. frozen in space
surely, this is not real.
I came back to find my things removed from the laundry room. A lock on its door and not given a key.
Cracking and kindling
the fire I felt
from my blood
into my bones
the embers were spreading
the embers were catching
inside the home.
Please be still
was my plea
quiet is what I need from you
the thing about fire
it knows its own power
it would ‘not’ be told what to do
this fire was wild
any attempts to quench it would not keep
this fire was loud
Listen up. This fire would speak.
“Threatening a black person with police
you think that’s okay
I know you want me to move
but is ‘this’ the way
locking the laundry room
just to fuck with me
these tactics of using power
are rooted in white supremacy
you believe your status and skin
gives you the upper hand
but my ancestors are with me
against this, they will continue to stand
you think this is a threat
I assure you; it is not
waging war with fire isn’t safe
it is much too wild. much too hot
once it gets moving
it will not be easily stopped
you’re adding fuel
trying to burn me
do you think you can stand this close to the flame
and not also experience its heat?
this is not light.
this is darkness, can’t you see?”
“THEN LET ME HAVE MY DARKNESS!” They screamed.
Soon after, they filed an eviction notice. Their partner drew a picture of an hourglass and placed it on the front door. I was sitting close by, writing, ‘Not My Father.’ The children asked who it was for. I remember hearing ‘This is for Kai.’ I didn’t respond:
something new was being birthed out of me.
The next month, they went to a friend’s house nearby in preparation for their surgery. The partner, children and dogs all left.
One day they came to the house; I assume it was just to check up on things.
My friend was visiting from San Diego and they asked him to leave.
When he didn’t, they called the police.
it didn’t stop there
it was difficult to breathe
with all the smoke in the air
then came the night
the flames combusted everywhere
One day when they came to pick up some things, I heard them whisper to their partner that they would return to the house after I left. I hadn’t said I was moving.
something was stirring
on this night
I could feel.
I’d love to believe this night was really just a dream
but I have the scars
they are with me,
I could hear my intuition saying to put the security latch on the backyard door. The backyard has a huge brick fence; secure inside the gated community. Still, I decided to listen. I was restless. It was almost 1am and I couldn’t sleep.
I heard a noise and looked out; someone was in the backyard. I heard the door unlock. I heard the key. Then banging, as the person pushed harder and harder trying to get in. The latch; preventing their entry. I turned on a light and called the police. I stayed on the phone with the dispatcher until the police arrived, in two minutes time; the police station being only a block away. They looked around, took my report and then left.
Two days later, my housemate and partner came by the house. Unaware that I was watching, the partner ‘tested’ a key to the backyard door. They had sent someone to break in.
I try not to think about what would have happened if I hadn’t put the latch on the door. But I do:
Think about it.
This person I loved
and once called my friend
knew of past horrors
that took place on my skin
they knew where to strike
knew precisely where to hit
this was the burn
my body would not forget.
Where is your evidence
can you prove it was them
I’m just sharing my story
I’m not here to convince
I wish I could say that on this night, I was brave
reminisce on how boldly I stood up to fear
but this was the scorch, that would do me in
there was nothing but ashes left here.
I placed my mattress against my door
laid down in a fetal position
held tightly to my ‘leigh bear’
avoiding capture, my only mission
fear howled and it screamed
and just like that,
I was back in its prison
Shortly after, I packed up my car and drove across the country to go stay with my sister.
This fire had burned. This fire had blazed
destroying everything that dare stand in its way
this fire, it broke
this fire, it took
on my way out
I took one more look
the rubble. remains
devastation. the debris
what had become of them
what had become of me
what was under this ruin
what was it that I couldn’t see
what’s behind the smoke
what lies underneath
was it anger. was it hate
was it white supremacy
were these at the root
or were they just a smokescreen
closer and closer I looked
what did I find
that old tyrant fear
trying to hide.
Wow. mad respect
I must admit you’re really good
the way you have us looking
I took a deep breath
It was time for me to go
from deep in my heart
these last words I spoke:
Please forgive me.
I love you.
I thank you.
A prayer sent out into the Universe, if you will.
“To cause things to move back in balance”, is what the word translates to.
It is a Hawaiian practice of healing and forgiveness. At its core it simply means: at some time, at some moment, I have caused harm. I haven’t always chosen the way of light. And in doing so, I contribute to the darkness and fear that exists in this plane. It does not mean that I deserved to experience this trauma or that the Universe is somehow ‘paying me back.’ No, this Universe, with its massive love, is much more gracious than that. It simply acknowledges that within me, within us, are both light and dark.
My intention. my desire:
to choose love
to choose light
my humanity. this condition
does not always get that right
this darkness that is in them
is part of my makeup as well
I’ve set many of fires
I’ve got my own stories to tell
so I send metta to this being
whose metta I also once knew
I send love with the hope
that they escape fear’s prison, too.
the divine that is in me
recognizes the divine that is in them
for is this not the reason
is this not the reason we’re here
to live out our soul’s purpose
to be free
from prisons of fear
did we travel all this way
just to ‘play it safe’
breath into us
to live our lives out in a cage?
Answer this question for you
I will answer the question for me
I am here for something
much, much bigger you see
for it alone possesses the power
to, from prison’s fear,
set me free.
It’s the thing that gave me life
It is what I am made of
I came here for one thing and one thing only
‘This’ is what I came here for
I came here for LOVE.
-Kai Alexzander Love
Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash
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