Friday, September 16, 2016

The Odds of Finding True Love

My mum once told me that finding a good husband is like winning the lotto. I started breaking down the odds in my head and she's pretty much right.

The first thing you have to sort out is if you are attracted to someone who is also attracted to you. 90% of the time you like him more than she likes you or vice versa. Then when you do find that 10% who feel the same way, you have to sort through other factors. You may be attracted to each other but do your personalities get along? Is that person already taken? Are they trustworthy?

You might find some amazing attraction to a very magnetic serial killer. Ted Bundy was a very attractive man who could get any woman he wanted. I know many women who thought they found their dream man, but after marrying him, they realized they entered into an abusive relationship and vice versa.

If you do find someone who isn't already spoken for, who is just as attracted to you as you are to him and she is trustworthy, you have to see if he actually satisfies you in bed.

And after you finally found all of these things in a person, there's the whole commitment thing, which I guess boils down to her feeling the same way about relationships as you. If you're polyamorous and he's monogamous it won't work out. If you want ten kids and she doesn't want any, it won't work out. Then you have to wonder if he can even live with you because you can be very attracted to someone, have great chemistry with her, want the same things out of life, and have great sex and still have days when you just can't stand to live with each other for some reason or another. Maybe you're OCD and he's a hoarder. The odds just get slimmer and slimmer.

But here's the thing: if you do find someone who matches all of the above, you're a fool if you don't hold on to her and never let him go. So many things can still get in the way, like our own insecurities, doubts or faults. If this is so, you better get yourself to a therapist and work that stuff out. Don't let the way you feel about your mother or father or whoever else in your past get in the way of something as rare as true love. But that's just something else that gets in the way of it all, ourselves.

The odds are so astronomical.

I suppose this is why so many relationships don't last. Its so easy to ruin a good thing and so hard to find it in the first place.

Looking on the bright side, I guess many do find true love despite the odds, which is a miracle in itself.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Who am I to Beleive I Can See Outside The Realms of my Limited Perception?

I was taking a nice, calm ride in my car on a Sunday morning and I started pondering the limits of our senses. I was looking at some optical illusions earlier and it amazed me how some shading and other tricks can make us see things that aren't there or completely miss things that are. Plus there are many studies show that if we are likely to completely ignore certain visual cues if not introduced to us at certain developmental stages of our childhood. We are so limited to our experiences and therefore, in our thinking and philosophy.

Then I started thinking that maybe everything I experience in the outside world is all just a part of me, much like what seems real in a dream is just our imagination running wild in our sleep. I was thinking all the people I know are just extension of my own psyche and it occurred to me that even those who have treated me wrongly are only parts of my psyche I haven't comes to terms with yet.

It make sound like a self centered theory, to think that the whole universe revolves around me and after all my blogging about how we're not the center of the universe. But what's so selfless about thinking that we're separate from each other? I think I'm more likely to act with compassion towards others and the environment if I think of everyone and everything as a part of myself. I can comprehend it being differently but truly, my mind isn't capable of seeing passed that. All my experiences are just limited sensory responses occurring within the boundaries of my mind's operating system.

Random Deep Thoughts on Humanity, Cruelty and Humility

I was riding in the car, trying to find some music to listen to and it occurred to me how strange it is that we have this need to listen to patterns and rhythms and how this seems to be an innate human condition. Then I recalled the fact that birds also make beautiful music. Then I recalled a study that found that plants grow better when played soothing music too and realized that plants too have this innate need. If our need for music is a recognition of patterns and mathematics, I suppose it is a sign of our ability to think logically. Yet if birds and plants also recognize such patterns, they too must be highly logical. In fact birds such as crows and ravens have a rich vocabulary of their own. So how foolish is any human to assume that we are the only sentient beings on earth just because we don't understand the language of other animals? The more we learn about our universe, the more we realize that we are not in the center of it.

So I was listening to an anthropologist explain why he sided with the theory that humans killed all of the large ice age animals. After all, they died out after the great migrations, after humans came to their lands, and their fossil remains have spears in their ribs. Plus, those animals survived many other ice ages where the temperatures changed drastically. (Yes I'm a nerd) Basically most animals were quite tame then. If you go to the Galapagos islands, you'll see just how tame animals were in an island where no humans existed. You can walk right up to them and they won't run or scatter. We basically killed all tame animals. If not, we made them into farm animals. To this day, we're still making animals extinct. We are not only the top of the food chain, we are the most savage beast that ever lived. We have wiped out thousands or more species of animals and plants since we appeared on this earth. Yet we have the gall to call someone who we think is a brute, an animal? We are the true savages.

With all this talk about how children are innocent and have to be taught hatred, I happen to know that there is a natural part of many of us that is vengeful, dominating and determined to survive even if that means destruction of something else. We are capable of great sympathy and also great cruelty and the only thing that can stop us from allowing the cruelty to take over is to admit that we are capable of it. Often the cruelest sects of humanity are the ones that judge others for their cruelty and refuse to admit that they too can be cruel. I think this is why I tend towards philosophy. A person who thinks knows that they can be wrong. One who is dedicated to learning and mental growth is not set in the idea of always being right and trying to dominate all who are "wrong." Learning has taught me to question my current belief and compassion has made me realize that I too am capable of hurting others. We all need to take pause if we are to stop ourselves from destroying ourselves

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Point of No Return

This subject came to mind after reading some posts, the subject of the point of no return. This was a concept that was first introduced by General Sun Tzu in "The Art of War." The idea is how to get human troops to make the ultimate sacrifice without retreat. He said to lead them so far into battle that to retreat would take as much or more energy than to move on and fight. I've used this in my life a few times, mostly in my youth like when I left home to go find myself. I burned my bridges and made it harder to go back than to go forward. This helped me become a new person and tear myself away from psychological fears that kept me back.
Though these days, I find I always have something to fall back on. Adulthood and parenting makes us crave security and our fears become our armor. After all, those who retreat are more likely to survive, just not likely to feel any glory or greatness. Still, as much as advise people not to burn their bridges, there is a distinct advantage to doing so.

Sometimes you have to quit that job and even tell your boss to fuck off so you know you'll never fall back on it. I've seen some people always go back to their old safety nets, making it a great excuse to give up attempts to go elsewhere; but if you cut that net, you just can't do that. You have to keep moving forward. There's also a strange lift, like another option you don't have to stress over, another burden or life you don't have to be anymore.

You'll hear stories of people selling their souls, musicians who signed contracts they never should have, losing money and having the nerve to move on. Yet if they didn't make that first sacrifice, that all or nothing deal, they would still be home, living a cushiony life, their dreams far off in the distance. That five year contract you sign may seem like forever, but once you've served your time, you have the world at your feet. You'll know things you would never had known if you had a loop hole of escape. But you have to commit to this new life and that's the bottom line. Change is hard and even though we want to, many of us won't change unless we absolutely have to. We'll stay in unhappy jobs and marriages. We'll watch our dreams disappear into the distance while we hang on to our life rafts but we won't burn our bridges. We'll always go back to the cushion of our past, no matter how disfunctional it might be, its home. 

When the thought of staying the same overcomes the fear of change, we light that fire and watch the past crumble away. Sometimes our minds regret it but our gut emotions are too strong. We have to grow, we have to let go, we have to look forward to who we'll become. And sometimes, after the battle has been won or lost, we find that somewhere in those burnt ashes of the past--after the new vines grow over the old ruins--there is something left for us to go back to after all, but when we do, we know ourselves just a little bit better.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Writing Cure

I finally started reading the book, "Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman after hearing it being referenced to so many times. I was moved by studies that showed that writing down traumatic events can cure PTSD. At first we might write some horribly negative stuff, but after some time, we start to rationalize it and work through it. This made me look back at my own life and the traumas and challenges I have suffered in the past. With all the negative things that could have messed me up, I was lucky to have parents who encouraged the love of reading and who let me read whatever I wanted. This love of reading anything, be they horror stories, banned books, comic books or classics fostered an enjoyment for literature and an enjoyment for the act of writing. So when the shit hit the fan, when I had to move several times, deal with abuse, puberty, poverty and many other things I don't feel comfortable going into detail about; my main way of dealing with it was to write.

While my friends did drugs, to self medicate, I wrote. Looking back, I remember feelings of depression, anxiety, anger and hopelessness but instead of self destruction or medication, I always turned to writing and I do believe that is what has saved my life. I wrote poems, plays and stories. I told my diary she was my best friend and used to miss her terribly if I didn't get to confide in her. She was something I could trust, something that would never judge me harshly. Through her, I could vent my anger, be nostalgic and throw out ideas good or bad. I could create worlds of escape, find solutions no one else could think of, and move through trains of thought that led me back to sanity. I could scribble till my mind went numb, write down affirmations or shout out prayers in capital letters. I could set goals, make wishes, weave dreams and learn to forgive and love myself.

My advice to anyone who wants to take up writing is to write anything, anything at all. Don't censor yourself. Let your writing be unconditional and if you know someone who is a writer, respect their boundaries. Don't be jealous of their diaries and don't read them. You wouldn't force their therapist to tell you things that was meant to be held in confidence. If you don't like what they write, understand that you will never understand some things. They might write something overtly sexual to help deal with issues of sexuality they have. They might write something disturbingly scary to help deal with a traumatic event they witnessed when they were young. They may write about an ex lover to help themselves figure out how to be a better lover  in the present or future. They may write about politics or religion to help deal with their own confusion about society or metaphysics. You can never know why they write, if its made up, an exaggeration or satire. They may write whole novels that completely befuddle you but it helped them let go of something.

There are billions of books, stories, poems, plays and all of them came from a great mind just trying to find sanity. Hopefully, as we share our creations, we'll help others find theirs.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Time Travel and Transcending Time and Space with the Mind

Black holes have been a fascination for me since I was a little girl, enjoying books such as Samuel DeLany's "Nova" and movies such as "Event Horizon." The movie "Interstellar" really blew my mind, employing the latest optimistic ideas of black holes as proposed by expansive modern cosmologists.
Its actually the notion of time travel, alternate universes and relativity that fascinates me, having had some vivid and specific dreams come true, I've had an dark obsession with the idea. 
I believe there are universes in our minds, black holes and singularities in our psyche where all known rules don't apply. There are quantum particles, radiation, imaginary time, relative time and places where the past, present and future happen all at once.

Recently, I think I've come to terms with my musings on time travel, realizing that time is just an illusion and the present moment is all that matters and all that really exists.  I've also come to the conclusion that anything could happen and if the future is uncertain and we are jumping from one probabilistic future after another, grace can only be obtained by finding ease in every situation and not by testing our power to see what we can and can't change. No matter what paralell universe I'm in, the real question should be, did I live it to the fullest or did I spend all my time wishing I was in another parallel universe?

If I ended up with someone else fifteen years ago, would life be better? Would I have different children or would I be alone? Would I love them as much as I do the ones I have now? Of course I would. I wouldn't know about the alternate reality I am in right now. What if I chose a different career path? Who knows where I'd be now. 
This is when knowing about every choice and every probability that could ever exist in our lives can lead to nothing but drama and suffering. I'm starting to realize that true maturity comes from learning to be happy with whatever choice I make and whatever time and space I happen to encapsulate.
Once we realize that time is an illusion and that the present is the only moment that exists, the idea of changing the past and future becomes absurd. When one realizes this, one is enlightened. 

Only someone who has great control of their mental faculties could possibly use his/her mind to time travel. By then it wouldn't matter because what does changing the past or future matter to one who is already enlightened and one with everything? The only reason we want to change the past or future is because we have attachments, egos and other such issues. An enlightened being has no issues. Someone who is ruled by the ego might want the power and glory of time travel. Someone with emotional attachments may want to go back in time and right a wrong or change something they are resentful about. 
One who is enlightened doesn't have to worry about any of these things because in order to obtain great spiritual and mental strength, he/she must let go of the ego and of emotional attachments. Therefore, if learning to transcend time and space requires complete control and mastery over one's mental and spiritual faculties, the whole striving towards wanting this power comes to a halt once we have it. We no longer want to use it.

This is how I came to terms with realizing I could dream the future as a little girl. I wanted to see if I could control my visions and figure out if I could truly know which dreams were of the future or if they were just dreams. What if all my dreams were just alternative realities, portals to lives I would have lived if a I made a different choice? I used to go crazy trying to figure it all out. Then I realized, I could just let it go and enjoy the adventure.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Wolf and Whale Spirit Animal... Shamanic Journey Log continued

If you've been keeping up with my writings, you may know that I have been using Shamanic journeying a lot this past year to help me meditate. You can read more about it here:
I've been logging a lot of my journeys and most of it has been in my private journal but I have shared some insights with my readers. Much of this past year has been about exploring what the raven had to teach me and she's helped me find out of box solutions to many problems. She's also encouraged me to keep journeying and uncovering the many dimensions I have failed to notice in my past. This blog is dedicated to the whale and the wolf who I have spent a lot of time also trying to understand.
At the beginning of this year, I made a resolution to come to terms with two different sides of my personality that seemed to be at odds with each other. I put the goal out there and it seems that I found the solution through my soul searching. The wolf, who I briefly met during my journey with the raven has helped me with this immensely. I see the wolf all the time and I don't have to be in a trance to find her. She appears anytime I'm about to do something stupid--my protector. 

There are times when I hated her for it. I must admit that due to my upbringing and some genetic trait, I have always butted heads with authority figures--always the non-conformist. For some reason I saw the wolf as that, some authoritarian part of me who nagged me to be good. But through more self awareness and meditation, I realized that the wolf was only protecting me from elements that would prevent me from being the person I truly was and truly wanted to be. The wolf knew my soul, even though my own conditioning or immaturity sometimes failed to follow the path I have chosen. The wolf and I have done some bonding, some real human to animal bonding. I have not thanked her enough for saving me, for scaring away those who wanted to pull me down from a higher place into the gutter. I realized that there's a difference between letting go and being stupid; and giving into temptation is only fun if its a temptation that gels with my truest desires, and not the desire of a dysfunctional culture or flawed idea.
I’ve become more affectionate with the wolf and I realize that she is my split personality. Really, she’s only trying to protect me. She knows what my higher power really wants. Given my background, I could have ended up really messed up if it wasn't for her. I've found peace with her and peace with myself. I realized that the only reason why I've wanted to do some of the stupid shit she has saved me from, is because I wasn't loving myself enough. At one time, she was just an image who swore to protect me. Now I pet her and play with her. We have a relationship that I'm learning to nurture.

The Whale Log:

I met up with a group who practices Druid Shamanism. We did a journeying meditation inside a chamber of the Stone Henge (another story). I went into one of the chambers, having no idea what would happen but my subconscious roots brought me back to my spirit animals and I found myself swimming in an ocean. At some point, I convinced myself that I could breath underwater. Then a huge whale came. It must have been 30 times bigger than me. I latched on to its enormous body and let it  move me through the ocean. It was an amazing ride, through calm waters, powerful tides and over immense waves. The water had a strong power to move me but I also had the ability to swim and move within it. The whale indicated to me that my emotions were the same way. I could allow the water to move me, motivate me, inspire me but I also had some control as I mastered the art of swimming and diving. It was up to me to decide how to control the immense power of water.  The whale swam to a giant beating heart in the middle of the ocean floor and I latch on to it. This is all I remember.

Journeying has given me a method in which to speak to the wiser parts of my subconscious or perhaps even the consciousness of nature and the universe. It has helped me find courage and clarity in an ever changing and confusing world and it has helped me come to terms with parts of myself I didn't always know how to face. I think that if we are ever to get passed the places where we are stuck, we have to search deep down inside ourselves and explore the shadows that many dare not enter. I realize that it isn't everyone's path but I respect all paths that anyone takes to becoming a better person and overcoming one's obstacles.

For more adventures into my subconscious, check out my experience with the dragon, who taught me about oneness, here:

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Four Definitions of Love

Everywhere I look, people are confused about "love" but as I grow older and wiser, the true meaning becomes more and more clear to me. So today I thought I'd clarify some confusions about love by sharing the four main types of love that people talk about. You can read about them and decide for yourself which love you are feeling and which kind of love is worth fighting for.

There is the love of infatuation. This is what some call a genetic trick of the mind to get us to spread more sperm. It is the love that poets write about the most because poets write about what they don't understand. This is a blinding, obsessive love that we have no control over. It is not evolutionary. It rules our subconscious and lower senses and it confuses us completely. It doesn't make the world go round but it does help propagate the species. It is like a fairy serum that keeps us drunk to reality. Infatuation is something we all go through, a right of passage that could lead to either healthy, genuine love; or narcissistic love. Its something that just happens, something many wish would happen to them. Often, it happens at the wrong time with the wrong person.

There is narcissistic love. This love makes us think that another person is an extension of ourselves. We extend our ego to them and believe that anything they do is done to us. Co-dependent love is the same as naracissitic love because it comes from insecurity and lack of having a sense of a self of our own. When one believes that his only role is to serve another, that he is only good for providing for his lover or being his house wife or husband, he is not admitting that there is more to him than a role he plays for her. When one expects the other person to be there for her only and to be a servant, she is basically saying that she is not whole if he is not identifying himself with her. One becomes so obsessed with filling a role, that he feels trapped and ceases to grow. There is a lingering feeling that something is missing. This is the love of people who suffocate one another and people who stalk one another. This is the love of people who kill one another out of jealousy. A narcissistic lover can't be happy if there isn't someone there to constantly feed his ego. A narcissistic lover can't empathize with her lover or think selflessly about what is best for her lover because she is too wrapped up in her own needs. This kind of love does not make the world go round. It is a prison, a selfish love that destroys the self and the self of the other.

There is genuine, committed love. This is when love ceases to be a noun and starts to become a verb. Love is something one does, not something one feels. This is when one looks at another person and decides to be there for him, through thick or thin not because one has to but because one wants to. This is a love of choice, not something that just happens. Genuine love is also respect, sacrifice and compassion. One looks at another and wants her to be the best person she can be, not just for him but for her sake, for the sake of how she will serve her family and society. We know that love can not grow if we do not evolve with it. We provide attention, nurturing and time as one does when one tends to a garden so it can grow in a healthy way. We do not see this nurturing as a chore but as a rewarding meditation and an act of joy. In doing this, the relationship grows spiritually. This kind of love creates healthy bonds, healthy children and healthy communities. It takes a strong self to show this kind of love because commitment takes risk. One knows she could lose the other at any moment but she decides to love him anyway and allow him to be free to be who he is. Putting one's narcissistic needs aside requires him to be a better person so he evolves as a result. Because there is freedom to be who one is and enough maturity for development, one feels constantly fulfilled and happy. This kind of love helps the world go round because the time one puts into it brings its own reward. It develops maturity, wisdom and growth.

There is universal, spiritual love. This is when one looks at all things deeply and with respect and kindness. This love is the philosophy of people like Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Ghandi. This love branches out to all people equally and has no prejudice. This kind of love successfully won the civil rights movement, has ended the cycle of violence, has rescued endangered animals and has inspired communities to help others who are in need. This love warms the heart and elevates the soul. This is the love of forgiveness. This is a love we should all strive towards. Not only does it make the world go round, it creates positive evolutions and higher states of awareness. It is the key to enlightenment and the true bliss we think we want when we are hit with love of infatuation, only spiritual love is not an illusion but universal truth, a profound realization and the highest goal of the soul. Like, committed love, it takes work, tending and commitment. It is something we do to make the world a better place, not something we are entitled to. This love is what keeps us from destroying each other as a species

Saturday, November 21, 2015

I'm the Evil Twin. ;)

When I was in college, I dated a man who seemed to be obsessed with pagers. Pagers were all the rage back then but I didn't own one. He kept saying things like, what do you think of pagers? Aren't they annoying? Do you have one? You don't? Are you sure? It was the weirdest thing. He also kept asking me about my whole name and if it was a popular name in my native country.

When we came to the end of our romance, right before we broke up, he asked me sincerely if I was seeing someone else. When I told him I wasn't, he confessed that he had a friend who was dating a girl with my exact same name. He described her to look just like me and we went to the same college. He said the only difference was that his friend kept saying that this girl was "hot for his jock" and that his friend kept having to page her. "I don't have a pager," I said, finally realizing why he kept asking me about them. By then, I think he finally believed me but that didn't matter because I had lost interest in him. I'm not good with boys who beat around the bush and can't be direct. Apparently, this had been bothering him for a while.

But the real subject of this blog is my doppleganger, the other girl who looks just like me. I know she exists because people always go up to me asking if I was at some party or telling me they saw me at a store or gym where I never was. People I have never met before act as if they know me. My overactive writer's imagination has entertained the idea that I have a twin and we were separated at birth. Due to some error, we were both given the same name. My mother said that when I was born, she got discharged from the hospital as fast as she could. She said that babies with pale, pink skin like mine were rare. Someone suggested that maybe I really was stolen. Maybe my mother saw us twins and decided that it was too much for one mother to have and that should at least get to take me. I knew my twin was out there somewhere.

The other explanation is that I have split personality disorder and that I go out and do things without remembering. This is why people say they've seen me at places I haven't been and why I date guys I've never heard of. Its possible.

I do like the twin idea, though. My writer's imagination thinks of what I could do when I finally meet her. We could take a vacation from our lives and trade places like "The Prince and the Pauper." We could show up to functions we don't want to be at. We could make weird youtube videos and tell everyone we used technology to make it look like there was two of us when there really wasn't. I've entertained ideas of making love to my twin, to finally feel what its like to be with myself the way my lover describes it to me, to touch breasts that are just like mine and kiss lips that are just like mine. Oh what fun we would have together!

I can't really say I've made an effort to go out and look for her. A google search revealed to me that there are many woman with my exact same name and they all look a bit like me (Lacey Reah is my pen name) Still, its fun to imagine and maybe one day I can write a story about my split personality or my mischievous twin.  :D

Friday, October 16, 2015

An Early Memory of Compassion

One of the earliest memories I have is living in Manilla. I must have been less than 4 years old because that’s how old I was when my parents moved away. I remember there being many stray animals that we tried to bring inside but my parents always caught us and told us to get rid of them. My dad always claimed to be allergic to animals. I even remember hiding a kitten or puppy behind the couch but my mum yelled at me to get rid of it.

I remember the torrential downpours and thunderstorms, nothing like the dry weather we get in Southern California. I remember some newborn kittens lying in our porch. I remember there being two of them and they were wailing in the wet rain. They were so tiny, only inches long. My brother and I watched and I wanted to save them. I remember how desperately I wanted to save them but my parents strictly forbade it. I watched them suffer from the shelter of our door. My brother and I put a handkerchief or napkin on top of them and watched as it disintegrated in the rain. Eventually, our parents made us go to bed. When I came back the next day, the orphans were gone.

I can recall it as if it were yesterday, the feeling of being small and helpless. I know that compassion is innate. I felt it when I was so young. My sense of compassion and curiosity was bigger than fear and apprehension, though I learned to fear things a few years later--even animals. I recall the feeling of wanting to save something smaller than me, of wanting to nurture something, even though I was so small and helpless myself. But I couldn’t do it because there was a larger authority forbidding it. I went against all of my instincts because a larger authority told me “no” and I had to obey.

I was just a child. These days, I’ve quit jobs and risked my own reputation to do what I felt was right. I hate the feeling of helplessness. I’m an adult now. I don’t have to bow down to someone larger than me. I can do things for myself. Yet, I see it all the time, adults allowing bad things to happen because some authority figure tells them not to do anything. It happens in companies, clubs and in science experiments. Our greatest sin is our fear of judgement, of authority and of other people. Because of this fear, people get beaten, raped, cheated and killed. Witnesses stand by and watch helplessly when they could do something. They don’t. They’re afraid.

This is why I’ve made it such a point to conquer fear. Without courage, no other moral has value. Action takes courage. You can’t do what is right or what you want if you are afraid. You can say you are a good person as you watch your peer rape someone in front of you without the strength to stop them. Without courage, what good is that supposed goodness?

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.”
--Maya Angelou

I wrote another blog on this subject many years ago here:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

No Dancing Allowed

I moved to New York City in 1997 without a penny to my name and with the fool notion I would get a job within a week and pay my way through school. I managed to succeed with a lot of hard work and very little sleep. Those were the golden years of the city. The internet boom was just about to start. Mayor Gulliani just came into office. The broken window policy was being enforced and crime rates were at an all time low. Meanwhile, the economy was getting better and time square was being transformed from a theatre district full of sex and strippers, to a tourist area with stores, restaurants and larger, more mainstream theaters, thanks to the Disneyfication of the area.

I witnessed a lot of alterations during those years. I still saw a lot of crime and homelessness but I saw a lot of excess and wealth as well. One memory that sticks out for me was the "No Dancing Allowed" rule that was starting to be implemented in bars and clubs everywhere. It sounds like a joke now and it sounded like one then as well. The city came up with a cabaret license and unless your club or bar owned one, dancing was strictly not allowed. There were "no dancing" signs posted everywhere. Some of them were very anti Gulliani. They stated, "no dancing allowed thanks to you know who."

I checked out one of these bars, which was known for its music and it had one of those anti Gulliani signs posted. The funny thing is, the music the bar was known for was New York swing music which is basically dance music. People started showing up to swing dance. They started swinging their arms and legs, grabbing their partners and twirling them around with furious glee. It was not your typical romantic dance, or even a fun dance. It was a rebellious dance. I saw staff members walk up to dancers and tell them to stop dancing, that it wasn't allowed. How did they respond? They danced faster, harder, in the face of all authority. It was fun to watch, fun to experience.

How, I wondered, can you put a license on dancing? How can you tax a person for tapping their feet or moving their hips? It was the most absurd law in my mind. Yet there it was; a law against dancing, smack dab in a world renown performing arts capital. Oh, and the rebels; they didn't protest calmly or march angrily. They danced hard, passionately, defiantly.

I can very much relate to F. Scott Fitzgerald's novella, "My Lost City." I lived in the ghetto, partied with the rich and watched the city go from rags to riches, to rags again. I only lived their for five years. By the year 2000, the economy was booming. Everyone had a job and everyone told me to take advantage of the good fortune while it lasted. By 2002, the market crashed badly and we had been bombed by terrorists. If New York had a personality, it would be Bi Polar. One day its gritty and poor, another artsy and rebellious. On one day its wealthy and opportunistic, another its retreating into fear and prejudice after the greatest terrorist attack that every hit the U.S. bombed thousands of its dwellers. I saw it happen but that's something else.

Before the darkness, there were good times, almost an innocent time -- if New York city could ever be thought of as innocent. I remember young, energetic people dancing hard and fast, rebel dancing over an absurd law. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

I Thought You Were Different

I remember this very well so it must be significant. I was at a college party where there was lots of music, pot and clicks. I can't say I felt entirely comfortable there. I sat down and started talking to some guests at the party and we formed a little circle. I think they felt as uncomfortable as I did at the seemingly entertaining milieu of the place, when really there wasn't anything interesting going on. I just wanted to talk to people who weren't just trying to look cool and for a brief moment, I found them. As the party progressed, I did something quite stupid, as we sometimes do when we are young. Then someone who I barely knew, someone who I just met at that party said to me, "I thought you were different."

It was a passing comment, something someone I can't even remember said in the middle of a very complicated night but I remember that most of all. I never took the time to ask myself why this was so significant until now. I remember feeling quite offended. Who was he to say he thought he knew me? He talked to me for maybe fifteen minutes at the most? I can't even remember what he had talked about, what his name was or what he looked like but I remember him saying that he thought I was different.

So today I'm wondering if a stranger could really "know" a person as he said he did. And who are we to say we are different? We are all special, yes, just like everyone else. Maybe I didn't want to be different or maybe I did. I never understood people who wanted to be like everyone else. I recall a line in a movie where the hero said that he just wanted to be like everyone else and the love interest said, "so you want to be petty and dishonest?"

Or perhaps what really got me was that this man who barely knew me turned out to be wrong. I did something to disappoint him. I wasn't different after all. How horrible is that? I was very embarrassed about what happened at that party but looking back, I doubt anyone really cared, except maybe for a good reason to gossip. Yet here was someone who barely knew me that I managed to disappoint. Could a perfect stranger care in this deep of a level? Maybe I care what people think of me after all. I thought I didn't. I didn't care what people thought because most people just want to judge or gossip but here was someone who thought I was different, who had expectations of me. He wasn't a parent or a teacher or any other authority figure, yet he had expectations. Why? Even now, as I use this subject as a thesis and as a focus of contemplation, I still don't get it.

I was raised to be very independent and growing up, I did everything on my own. I never thought it noble to care what other people thought. I have always had that John Wayne, cowboy, Wolverine mindset. Raw individuality always became me and its only now that I have a family, a business and a career that I see the importance of other people in our lives. Perhaps this is why I'm reflecting on what happened. Maybe its time for me to look back and see how my more mature self views what this young man said so long ago.

Maybe it does matter when someone sees something special in us. Maybe other people's expectations can make a difference. Maybe, looking back, I did get help along the way although I thought myself so independent. While I followed my heart, struck out on my own, payed my way through school and lived the dream, there were some people who encouraged me. There was my high school acting teacher who simply told me I was a genius. My high school English teacher told me I marched to my own drum. My boss who hired me even though most kids who were bum poor, paying their way through school dropped out and moved back home within a few months. When I told him I was having a hard time reaching some merchandise on the top shelf of the stock room, he simply said, "I don't think there's anything you can't do." I didn't care much for my boss, but I'll never forget that he said that. I remember when someone says that I am the person I want to be and I guess it does mean something now, when my clients tell me I've changed them for the better. So, when I disappointed this young stranger at a party, I guess I never forgot that either. Truth is, I disappointed myself. I am different... but we are not our mistakes. We are who ever we want ourselves to be and we have to keep reminding ourselves of this.

My Neighbors Don't Make Love No More, and other poems

I spend a lot of time going from place to place and sometimes I have a moment to write a quick poem here and there. Here are a few, some comical, some philosophical, others reflective.

My neighbors don't make love no more.
Can't hear them moan beyond the door.
Or the rattling of their rusty bed,
Sending daydream pornos through my head.
They're still together.
Maybe its the weather.
I see them cross the veranda as they walk.
I sometimes even see them talk.
But why do they make love no more?
Why don't I ever hear her roar?
Across the thin, earthquake proof walls,
Across the wooden apartment stalls.
I don't know what to say.
I do hope they're okay.
Or maybe its just all in my head.
Perhaps they simply moved the bed.
--Lacey Reah

And for something completely different and more Zen-like:

Nothing is permanent
Nothing temporary
We are made of the same stuff
Ever changing
Never dying
Always striving, shining, crying
--Lacey Reah

I was pretty stressed and busy. Then I had a minute between gigs and wrote this on a notepad:

Babes and teens
Bosses and dollars
people and the masks they wear
Juggling clients
Just trying to get there
Cars and buildings
Pollution in the big city
With a palm tree
Here and there
Life happens
but the birds keep cawing
And vermin scatter
From here to there
We adapt somehow
To the crowds and noise
To the daily stress
We think will drive us insane
My thirty second vacation
A bird on a branch
The sky above me
And the gentle relief
When I hear you laugh
A soothing balm to my pain
--Lacey Reah

A quick observation I made, I do hate seeing my single friends struggle every year around the same time:

Today is Friday the 13
Tomorrow Valentines Day
I watch in awe
As my single friends
Grow more and more
--Lacey Reah

Giving credit to my best friend:

Oh diary, my diary
my ode to you
Friends come and go 
But you remain true
--Lacey Reah

Sunday, July 26, 2015

What Will the Modern Faerie Tale Be?

The original Grimm's fairy tales were Grim indeed and highly criticized for their far too adult nature. Snow White was raped by the seven dwarfs. Sleeping beauty was penetrated by the prince and gave birth in her sleep, then she was deceived and tortured by the Prince's real wife.

In the original novel, "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame," which I read when I was in high school, Esmarelda is hanged. Her love interest is already betrothed to another woman and he ends up marrying someone else. Again, the beautiful Ingenue is doomed.

In Hans Christian Anderson's "A Little Mermaid," the mermaid loses. The prince marries someone else and because she refuses to kill him, as the sea witch demands in exchange for her life, the Little Mermaid dissolves into the air.

None of these heroine's live happily ever after. The lesson to young women seemed to be that life is harsh. Love hurts and you don't always get the man you love. Many of Grimm's fairy tales showed the cruelty of men and wolves and how girls who journey outside the comfort of their homes have nothing but hardship ahead of them.

The 20th century ushered in a new age where these fairy tales were softened in order to relieve children from nightmares and inspire them to a gentler type of magic where the lines between good and evil became clearer. The Princes all became charming and nice. It was the age of being a gentleman and young girls would dream of how prince charming would  rescue them from a world of cruelty.

Yet, what gets me about this era is how the heroines still needed a man to save them from their miserable situations and this ushered in a generation of women who, though they wouldn't always accept abuse as the way of the world, they did have a new version of romance. These girls were led to believe that they couldn't be happy until they found that perfect man. That  man would be a prince, already well to do and perfect in every other way. She will be looking for this ideal in a man, expecting him to sweep her off her feet and save her from whatever kind of life she wanted to walk away from. Snow white, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella were helpless without their prince but he would eventually reward them for being kind, submissive and gentle. As long as they didn't ruffle anyone else's feathers, they would be rewarded by a man who would rescue them because they were "nice."

One of the last great renditions of a fairie tale from this era was Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" which was released in 1991, near the end of the millennium. This movie shows us one of the best renditions of Stockholm syndrome I've ever seen. Bell's father is kidnapped by a beast but she offers him to take her instead. Although the beast can be cruel, she sees his softer side and falls in love with him. As sweet as this movie was, one can't help thinking, is Disney saying that its romantic to fall in love with one's kidnapper?

I look at the 20th century as a time when women were expected to be submissive and unable to solve their own problems without waiting for a man to come along. To me Cinderella is the epitome of this ideal. You have a woman who is treated unfairly and abused by her step mother and sisters. She is too "nice" to stand up for herself but is luckly enough to have a fairy Godmother save her so she can find a Prince to marry her. Why can't Cinderella just leave and find a job? Why doesn't she just stand up for herself? Instead, she does what an adult friend once advised me to never do when I was a teenager. She went from the frying pan into the fire. She used a man to get her out of her situation.
The fairy tales of the 20th century seemed to say that women will always be slaves to their situations and nothing without a man in their life.

This helplessness doesn't become apparent until someone from a different generation takes a note of it. Just as people living in today's culture are shocked and offended by the original violent fairy tales of the Brother's Grimm, children of today's generation are starting to find the fairy tales of the 20th century a bit strange. At a time when the bad ass woman is getting all the glory, the classic princesses are losing their appeal.

A while back, I rented the movie, "A Princess Bride," a brilliant classic fairy tale full of sword fights, great dialogue and love. While my son did love the movie, he was frustrated with the princess. "Why is she so weak?" he asked. "Why doesn't she help the man fight that giant rat? Why is she incapable of using that stick?"
This is coming from a boy who's mother studies martial arts and who's role model was Sarah Conner from "The Terminator Saga."

Thank God! I say. We must raise our children with self empowering ideals. Just as men are raised with classic virtues of knighthood, shouldn't women start learning to be strong and be the change they wish to see in the world? Aren't women just as capable as men of changing their circumstance and being heroes? What happens to a woman who depends on a man for everything? What if the man can't do it all? What if the Prince turns out to be a troll? What if he dies? What if her relationships aren't based on real love and respect, but on dependency and desperation? Are we to teach out daughters that their only option is to dwell in darkness until their prince saves them? Are we to live in a society where populations of women are unable to contribute but sit idly by? The ingenues of today's fairy tales are helping to slay the dragons. They have drive, spunk and courage. They don't wait for things to change. They look for solutions. I like to think that today's woman doesn't get her self confidence from feeling "pretty" but from being a total bad ass.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Dragon

I'm sharing this because there's been a lot of talk about dragons online. There have also been a lot of comparisons between dragons and princesses, princes and knights. I often have a hard time relating to these comparisons because I never saw myself as a princess, prince or knight. I always saw myself as a dragon. I was born in the Chinese sign of the fire dragon and in the east, that is a very lucky and healthy omen. Dragons are not something to be feared, but something to be admired. The following is taken from my spirit animal log which I've been keeping in private. I shared some of my spiritual animal journeys in an earlier post, around the time when I started journeying again. I added some extra thoughts and meditations to the comment section but decided to keep a personal log on my own after that. That blog can be found here:

What people connect with spiritually is personal to them so I hope everyone can respect my own spiritual revelations whether they can relate to them or not.

I went into another trance. I felt myself becoming younger and for a moment, I tried to find an older version of me, someone with experience. For a moment, the younger and older me were holding hands but it ended up being the younger me again, as if this is who I am deep inside and who I’d always be but the two still talked to each other as we journeyed downward. I am always reminded in these meditations, that it is the youngest me who is wisest and closest to the source of truth.

When we reached the bottom, there was something there, like a giant, nearly hatched egg, all feathers and ooze. It was breathing and alive but still somewhat dormant. I stepped on it as it took up the entire ground of the tree I had descended. When it woke, it grew into something enormous and I knew I had found my fire dragon. I embraced it as it rose to the sky and brought me wherever I asked, into space and many dimensions.

I asked about a friend who needed guidance and it said that she was a powerful feeler, perhaps an empath like me and she could let her painful emotions destroy her from the inside or she could make the choice to tap into their power and be an outward force in the world.

During our journey, I saw the eagle, raven and wolf but they only played cameo roles. The dragon made it clear that they are me and I am them and that it was everything. I was riding the dragon at first, then it swallowed me and my other spirit animals. Then I realized that I simply was the dragon.

The dragon seemed to say that once I understood that we are all one and once I felt comfortable seeing the universe and all dimensions as all encompassing, then nothing can harm me. All my choices will be correct and I will be all powerful and knowing because I will be free of doubt. I could feel the dragon's mythical and unstoppable power while I embodied its spirit.

Since then I’ve been more accepting of my place in the universe and I’ve learned to trust it more. I’m starting to understand what surrendering to God means. I’m realizing that everything that happens, happens for a reason and I must learn from my experiences and live them out, rather than finding ways to control or change everything (like my dreams of the future) just to test my power.

Suddenly, this Willam Cowper poem comes to mind:

1     God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
2    Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.
3     Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
    Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
    His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

    Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

All the illustrations on this blog are just sketches I did for fun.