Stay

When asked to do a favor

I interpret it as an order that my life depends on- I must complete the task, no matter how wretched or mammoth an imposition, in order to remain loved/liked/accepted/not rejected/safe/appreciated/valued

I bend over backwards to let others walk all over me

I ache to shake off these shackles

I stay without putting up a fight out of habit

Baby elephants get bigger everyday

Grow stronger than their chain, yet they stay

Energy-vultures rip out my exposed flesh

We are all living beings trying to survive- the difference between us is our intention

How to escape my newfound obligations

Thoughts of getting intimate with my kitchen knife

Seeking out a minor accident or mild poisoning

Aiming for that delicate balance between being injured or sick enough to get out of workhell, yet benign enough to survive without serious complications

I aborted my pregnancy in residency so that my colleagues wouldn’t have to pick up the slack for me

Now I shoulder their burdens while they are on maternity leave

I thought I was doing the thoughtful, responsible thing

Giving up my baby and my freedom especially stings

I draw on my zen training

Tell myself to let go of thoughts, breathe through it, this too shall pass

Lean into sacred lessons, stay calm and strong

Peace is every step- keep moving

What a beautiful challenge to remain enlightened as the shitstorm rages

I do it to myself; pile on crushing pressure without limit

I’m a pushover pushed over the edge

I’m a doormat covering a minefield

My eyes on the heavy boots dripping with desire to smear mud on me

I’m a danger to myself

Nobody is coming to intervene, especially since they are the beneficiaries of my sacrifice and service

Lord, take the wheel

I’m not even supposed to be here today

Yet I stay

I’m beginning to see the blurred lines between effort and non-effort

I’m beginning to trust that hurt can be healed

No pain lasts forever- lean in and breathe in to the sting

Just because I can be there doesn’t mean I have to be there to save the day everyday

The day will pass with or without me anyway

They call me an essential worker, but I am not any more essential than my colleagues, yet more is demanded of me

Ego, why don’t you take the week off? There will be less pain and tears if you do- I’ll book you a flight to someplace nice. If you decide to stay far away for awhile, that’d be ok too.

May my cortex override the stress reaction of my brain stem

May I shine love and forgiveness instead of loathing and fear

May I meet my persecutor with compassion and understanding

Despite all that I deny myself in staying, may I stay anyway, just for today

To strengthen my spirituality, like a pilgrimage to the present moment

May I hang on to the integrity of my soul like my life depends on it

Maybe it does

I settle in to discomfort

Trust my breath to get me through the day

Connection to spirit is just a breath away

Corona

I wear my crown of martyrdom

On the front lines, yet still at the back of the testing line- haven’t been tested

I think of you, virus, though you do not think of me

Coronavirus, on the news
Coronavirus, in my body
Is the aching in my muscles and bones your calling card?
You desire to enter my cells, virus, as much as I long to keep you out
Together, yet separately, we hunger
You want to pick my lock, use my typewriter to transcribe your RNA, then mail your enveloped self-promoting propaganda air mail special to Hadestown.
Don’t bring me down on the way, I pray
Not like this, not today
My heart breaks to think of those who have lost their lives to you, and those who needlessly will still
My head is intoxicated with fear
You always seem too near
Perhaps we Americans deserve the repercussions of our recklessness
Though it is the innocent who pay, as usual
Another day deep
I march on with trembling hands and heavy feet
Tracking invisible mud out of the wards and onto the street
Ashamed to stay in the job I was fixing to quit anyway,
Ashamed to leave now and abandon my post
The war is on, dwarfing the existential crisis of living the life I want versus fulfilling my societal obligation
I am among the minority who have a medical education
Only in following my heart can I grow up at last, no longer a slave to the judgements of others who do not bear my burden
My mind’s liberation opens up like a blue sky
Back to here and now, overcast again
In clinic and in the hospital
I struggle to bring my heart into the mundane and mission-impossible tasks which overflow from one day to the next
Virus, I gaze at your storm clouds accumulating on the horizon, and feel small
I see your silver lining, as I am well practiced in finding positivity amidst disaster
You are rich in potential
Look at the way you are uniting humanity, virus
People are taking care of themselves and each other like never before
Practicing presence in hospital hallways and supermarket aisles, smiling shyly at each other from behind our suffocating masks
We are finally being mindful of our precious resources, thinking globally and acting locally for sustainable solutions
We are cultivating more community and camaraderie than we could ever quantify
Teamwork and solidarity are weaving our spirits more closely together even as the physical distance between our bodies grows
I take a step back to take in the beauty of the tapestry you wove, virus
You bring opportunity for innovation and flexibility, you demand it
Many of us no longer take life for granted
We are cleaning our hands as often as we always should have
People are being prioritized over profits as we focus on what is essential
We settle in, acknowledging at last that we are in the same boat
Living in unspoken gratitude for each day of health
Please don’t rock my boat too much, virus
Though you are armed with cunning skills
And you may bring about more positive change still
I plan to ride out this storm, though land is not in sight
Virus, perhaps you could rest tonight?
Virus, my type II pneumocytes are mine, my lungs are a celebration of life and you are not invited
I wind-down after another day on the front lines,
I give thanks to those who are doing their part in time
To those in the comfort of your own homes,
Please stay where you are, be satisfied
Coronavirus, we will destroy you with patience and ingenuity, with solidarity and community, with soap and water, and with love for one another

Pockets of Bliss

Pockets of Bliss

Hard-scrabble
Uphill battle
Stoically strong
All my life long

That was my marching song

Yet if I let myself unwind a bit
I find myself basking in pockets of bliss
Soaking in satisfaction, abundance, gratitude
It feels like the ultimate kiss
As I both receive and radiate
The generous glow of the sun

My mind usually tells myself that I don’t have time
For such indulgent, frivolous nonsense
That I’ve got to push push push
And forever rush rush rush

I fooled myself into believing
That I didn’t deserve the luxury of deep breathing
That rest and relaxation were only for the privileged rich
Such was my justification for prioritizing everything else                                                       Before my own needs

For too long I wrongly bought into the ideology
That my life was not to be enjoyed
That I should run hungry all my days
As if pursued by a ravenous wolf in all kinds of ways

But today I re-realized that I am the wolf
And also the prey
Only I have the power to say,
‘Enough of being tough.
I am ready for ease!’

If only in pockets to start
Because old habits are hard to break,
Just ask my heart

So it is with patience and persistence,
Guided by gentle wisdom
That I fill my pockets to overflowing
With bliss bliss bliss

This Competitive American Life

This Competitive American Life

My toothpaste claims that it will keep my breath fresher for seven-times longer
Seven-times longer than what? I ask
But the toothpaste does not answer me
It is all wrapped up in it’s shiny packaging

My deodorant boasts that it will keep me powder-fresh all day and all night
Which I feel that I need, because I consume much caffeine in order to push through my human fatigue while I work like a machine around the clock
I work with people who would take offense at my natural odor, so I cringe as I smear the aluminum on my armpits
‘Forgive me, body’ I pray in a powder-soft whisper

All that caffeine makes me sweat where my antiperspirant doesn’t reach
To soak up my stress-enhanced face grease, I bought special makeup that promises to reduce shine
It doesn’t do much, so I re-apply it all the time

My hands are ragged from over-use
So I bought cream that promises to sooth
Repairing damaged skin more effectively than any other

Better than all the rest
That’s what these products brag on their packaging
Even my paper towels state that they are twice as strong as any other
Flexing their pumped-up muscles in the cupboard

But with all the latest and greatest that money can buy
Why do I feel like I’m not winning this Competitive American Life?
Perhaps because I don’t want to play the game
I want to live in harmony with myself and with the Earth

Hang on, body, I’ll get us to a place where we no longer use over-achieving, over-processed products laden with harsh chemicals

It brings me peace to know that
I could step off this Merry-Go-Round
At any time
And realize
That I am already where
I was trying to get to eventually
On the slowest fast train
Man ever made