What Do You Believe?

It’s one thing to say you believe
and another to truly believe.

Most of my life I’ve uttered words
taught to me by my parents,
absorbed the messages broadcast by society
believed the assertions of my inner critic.
Surely, not everything I learned was untrue.
After all, my parents introduced me to You.
But now, You’re no longer just a concept,
rather, a presence by my side.
Society prioritized my monetary value –
how much do I earn? how much do i own? –
but that just never felt right.
I don’t want to own anything,
I want to experience everything.
I’m no fool. I know money matters.
It just isn’t what I aim to strive for.
My inner critic always told me
I was unworthy of love.
So I shaped a life around that belief,
and lived in a dark, but familiar place
called Denial.
Now, I want to leave.

This place, this precipice,
is terrifying.
But the longer I stand here,
the more likely I’ll lose my nerve.

There’s a difference between saying the words
and believing them.
The world says everyone is beautiful,
but still bows down to a singular body type.
The world says all people are equal,
but still builds walls and widens gaps.
The world says our planet is precious
but denies the fact that she is dying
without the love and care of her people.

There’s a difference between saying the words
and believing them.
The time has come to figure out
what we truly want,
what we truly believe,
to disengage with dishonesty,
face our fears head on.

What do I truly believe?
I believe in You
and the power of love.
I believe in the value of helping others,
the importance of feeling connected,
and respecting everyone.
The extraordinary wonder of children.
The necessity of pain,
but not prolonging it to punish ourselves,
rather holding it like a wounded child
and then letting it go,
comforted by the knowledge that,
surely,
it will lead to something better.
I believe I am worthy
and can handle anything You throw my way,
including this,
this most difficult of steps,
over the edge
and into the unknown.

Raw

My insides are all raw,
tender and pulpy,
like an open wound,
a throbbing sore,
the slightest poke, a provocation,
the faintest prick, a sharpened skewer.
Feeling raw can be breathtaking and intense,
but also draining and degrading,
mercilessly depraving.
Raw is pure,
potent,
unfiltered.
Raw sexuality.
Writing that is raw.
An adult’s understanding
of a primal, child-like need.
Only now, as an adult,
do you begin to understand
why rawness must be allowed
to ripen.
We are all wounded.
That is what connects us.
Our pain may sometimes feel
like it’s skinning us alive,
but it’s also leading us
through to the other side:
the ecstasy of connection,
the bliss of the Beloved.
How can we help others
retain their rawness,
break down their walls,
feel safe long enough
to face the fact they belong,
they’re exactly where they’re meant to be,
as their path is teased out
organically?
Layering sweet, child-like innocence
with the bitter vulgarity of rawness,
all while feeling conscious, safe and free –
that is the dream,
is it not?
Like being an angel and devil in one,
a union of everything that exists.

Talk about ambitious.

I lean in to the flow,
resisting nothing,
opening up
like a hidden door,
a hungry lover,
a hallowed revelation,
developing skin
first, thin enough to welcome,
then, thick enough to shun,
finally, permeable enough to sieve
each and every sensation.

I am a constantly changing entity,
collapsing, rebuilding,
camouflaging, shape-shifting.
I am an essence and an aura,
a body and an intellect,
a head and a heart.
I am everything at once,
a jumble of
ideasemotionsfixations
spiralling out of control
as the winds of chance sweep through,
leaving behind
a vast
expanse
of empty,
a blank
slate
of nothing.
I am
infinite,
insignificant,
inescapable,
iridescent,
indomitable,
illusory,
insatiable,
incapable,
improbable,
impossible,
immaterial,
imperfect –
a multiplicity of ‘I’s
and all to hide
the irresolvable
why?

My Perfect Need

What does it mean to perfect my need?

My mind needs peace,
and that, You have granted me,
but Ultimate Peace is only with You.

My body craves pleasure,
and that You have granted me,
but Ultimate Pleasure is only with You.

My soul’s deepest desire
is to return home,
and that You have not granted yet,
but sometimes,
in my most agonizing hours,
my every effervescent moment,
You visit me
like an unexpected guest,
like an illicit lover,
like a powerful king,
like the Master of all that I am
all I ever will be,
and it is for these visits
that I live.

When You created me with Your Perfect Touch,
and sent me far away,
You rooted within me this need,
as a gift to guide me,
as a curse to cure me,
as an anchor to hold me down.

This need has always been perfect.
It is I who is just beginning to embrace it.

The more I voice my need,
the more it gets reflected back to me,
and reflected on to others,
until it grows to gigantic proportions
like a shadow,
like a monster,
glowing from one heart to another,
like love.

Instead of being patient, though,
I’m greedy.
What I really want
is to break through
this prismatic prison,
put an end to
this gleaming dreaming,
open up
this claustrophobic curtain.
I want to leave it all behind
for what lies beyond,
the blinding light,
the timeless,
spaceless,
Oneness,
of You.
Why do You call me closer,
if You don’t mean to let me through?
My need
is eating me
alive.

What can I do?
I must just let go
and fall back
into my skin-wrapped self,
live with limitation,
but also awareness,
that though a reflection does appear
in all the many mirrors I stand before,
it isn’t me I see,
it’s her.

An angel in the making,
rotten to the core,
Your humble servant,
Your sly sinner,
fully flawed,
and human,
bursting
with need.

This need has always been perfect.
It is she who is just beginning to embrace it.

Every One at Once

How is it possible to be
so many people in one?

A child buried inside a grown-up,
an ego hiding from its shadow,
a sweet and sour squirrel,
a tenacious yet tender tigress –
so many angles to this artist,
constantly molding and melting,
raising and re-sculpting
with the material she has,
the circumstances she’s been dealt.
A restless spirit
trying to perfect
her one and only masterpiece.
But there is no
one way
to create art.
All the options paralyze me:
contemporary or traditional?
kind or cruel?
mother or majnun?
shy or show-stopping?
masked or myself?
I choose them all.

Sometimes the weight of being
every one at once
breaks me.
Sometimes it’s the very thing
that glues me back together.
My power lies not
in how much attention I receive
but in how very much in love I am
with the artistry running through me,
the humble creator within a Creator.
This love is power
passed down,
blooming brighter
branching farther
growing stronger
each generation.

This power fuels me,
feels me,
fills me.

This power invites me
to play
so many roles,
try out
so many masks,
embrace
all that astounds me,
chase
all that confounds me.

Whoever said art wasn’t powerful
never met my Creator,
never saw themselves
for what they truly are –
a collaboration,
a celebration,
a masterpiece
in the making.

This Life is Made Up

This life is made up

of symphonies 

and capacities –

symphonies of sensation,

tickled, dribbled, 

splashed and savored

across the theater

of your mind;

capacities,

all equal 

yet unequal,

some able to skim only the surface,

others diving right in,

swimming expertly through meaning,

interpreting a few slices of sound.

This life is made up

of matter,

made up

of atoms and molecules,

made up

of electrons and protons,

made 

in a vacuum.

What else would you call an illusion?

Conjuring everything from nothing.

The only Reality

is the magnificent Magician,

Who,

with one word,

one breath,

brought forth

the most blissful symphonies,

the most diverse capacities.

Do you want to see another trick?

If you so choose,

if you believe,

you can dismantle this dream you inhabit,

reconstruct it into something new.

You can turn pain into pleasure,

water into wine.

You can create an illusion 

more to your liking

because this Magician 

never hides His secrets.

He reveals them in plain sight.

You create words to grasp them,

despite knowing,

they are ungraspable. 

You try, yet fail, 

try, and fail again,

to find Him.

If you aren’t careful,

your frustration at figuring out

just how in the world 

He performed 

His vanishing act,

might blind you to the beauty 

of what’s visible.

You understand only as much as He allows.

Let Him use you as His paintbrush,

but also His paint,

so He may know Himself better,

despite knowing 

He is unknowable.

You see, you aren’t just the art,

you’re also the artist.

the song and the singer,

the thought and the thinker,

the way and the witness.

Oh, what magic you can make!

What magic He sparks within you,

and through you,

and around you.

Like these words dancing on the page before you,

conjured from your feelings and fingers.

These letters making love to the listeners’ ears,

exuding energy, 

departing meaning, 

unlocking entryways.

His gift

to you, 

from you,

and for you.

What magic, indeed!

You see, you aren’t just the audience,

you’re also the illusion.

Born to Soar

We were born to soar.
But from the moment we arrive,
we are anchored by barbels,
held back with chains,
at first,
for our own good,
until we’re old enough to know
right from wrong,
safe from unsafe.
But by the time we’re set free
to roam the big, bad world,
those chains have grown comfortable.
We trust their weight,
feel at home with them,
protected.
The wings we once had
have atrophied from neglect;
it’s not like we could have actually
flown.

This is not the way.
This is us drowning in fear.
These chains are more cruel
than comfortable,
more burden
than blessing.
We walk through fire
to melt them off,
melting ourselves in the process.
Slowly,
oh so slowly,
we emerge,
charred,
broken,
exhausted,
with no structure,
no plan.
But also,
nothing holding us down.

In time,
our wings return to us,
our hope restores us.
We take baby steps forward
and fly.
We fumble at first,
no idea what to do
or where to go.
The draw of the clouds,
the nudge of the breeze,
the cheers of our loved ones
raise us right up.
We flutter,
flap,
then falter,
recover,
reassess,
then rise,
finally airborne,
feeling alive.
If we keep ourselves
light and attentive,
the wind whispers to us
our destination,
helps us flow there with ease
and alignment,
pumping ourselves up
where we must,
letting our Guide do the rest.

But beware of the chains,
ever present in our memories.
Don’t be fooled by their shine
or lured by their lies.
You must remember
and remember,
and keep remembering
who you really are.
Find others who will serve
as reflections,
as reminders,
that, indeed,
you were born
to soar.
You were given wings,
not as adornment
or to feed your pride,
but for a very particular purpose.
Perhaps
to unveil the truth
for others,
to show them the wings
they never knew
they always had.

The Dancing Bear

Whenever I danced for my audience,
I received cheers and hearty applause.
That sound filled my heart with untold joy.
I felt like I was living for a cause.

For as long as I can remember,
I’ve belonged solely to my trainer.
He was strict when I needed discipline,
tested me till my act was a no-brainer.

And when I performed well, which I always did,
he’d reveal his softer side,
presenting me with the choicest treats,
petting me publicly with pride.

You see, I am a dancing bear.
I’ve always lived to please.
At first, my trainer kept me caged,
until he trusted I wouldn’t flee.

As I grew bigger in size,
less flexible and friendly-seeming,
he left me to my own devices,
found others to trap in his dreaming.

It was the first time I thought,
if I could no longer perform or please,
then who was I, really?
My trainer simply taunted and teased.

He made me feel unwanted, worthless.
One day, he flew into a rage so great,
I clawed and cowered in trembling despair,
before planning my stealthy escape.

I ran and ran for miles,
no direction or planned destination.
One morning, I woke in a grassy knoll,
the sun embracing me in salutation.

Despite having no clue what I should do,
in that moment, I finally understood,
this was a chance to live my life anew,
in as honest a way as I could.

Over the months and years that followed,
pure love blossomed from within.
When next, I came across my old trainer,
all I could do was mildly grin.

Now, I only felt sorry for him,
but immensely grateful, too,
were it not for his abominable actions,
I wouldn’t have discovered You –

the real audience for my deeds,
the One I was truly meant to please.

We All Sink Sometimes

For all my rhetoric

about tearing down walls,

realizing you’re special,

feeling connected to the Universe,

there are moments 

when I feel like I’m still the same

insecure, 

under-confident, 

massively depressed

teenager I used to be,

and for all the work I’ve done on myself,

there isn’t much to show for it.

You can never fully escape depression,

no matter how hard you try

to hide from it,

to handle it,

to heal from it.

You will always have moments of weakness,

and depression will be right there,

lying in wait,

like a deceiving 

yet oddly familiar crutch.

At such moments, 

the best thing you can do 

is to know

with utmost certainty

that it will pass.

It’s okay to sleep it off,

to talk to someone,

eat comfort food,

watch a funny movie,

or even find a corner to cry in,

to let yourself feel 

the weight,

the sinking,

the numbness

and pointlessness of life,

because those thoughts will come.

It’s okay to lean into it, 

and feel like you’re utterly 

at rock bottom.

Just don’t act on it.

Hang in there.

Wait it out.

A couple hours, 

a couple days.

Because it will pass.

You’ll notice that all the effort you’ve put in –

learning how to better yourself,

how to transcend the pain,

and grow towards the light –

it hasn’t been for nothing.

Your strength and resolve will slowly return.

Your deep-seated desire 

to unearth yourself from the mire

will become your lifeline,

so that whenever you feel like you’re drowning

in a cesspool of negative energy,

your lifeline will always be there to pull you out,

back to consciousness,

back to your waking self,

and to your mission of lighting up the world

with your very existence.

Some people believe

you can measure the worth of your existence

solely by what you’ve achieved in life.

The truth is, 

your worth can’t be measured.

Your value is inherent.

It’s incomparable,

and it’s inked into the unfolding of your story,

which is itself entwined 

into this infinite adventure called Life.

So before trying to conquer the world

by crossing off an endless list of to-dos

and achieving a myriad long-term goals,

remember to just BE.

Remember who you are

and who you aren’t.

Who you are is

unique,

irreplacable,

whole,

a universe unto yourself,

born on this Earth to learn 

and love 

and luxuriate

in the magic of this world.

Who you are not is

lazy,

dumb,

talentless,

ugly,

weak,

hateful,

a mistake.

There is no such thing as a mistake.

Every person, 

every moment,

has a purpose.

Find yours.

And if you can’t find it, 

create it.

And when you do,

revel in it.

Living with purpose is the ultimate antidote

to depression.

The more you learn to believe in yourself,

the greater the heights you’ll climb,

until one day 

you’ll find yourself soaring above the clouds,

able to help pull others out of their despair,

and into this One 

enigmatic

yet extraordinary

life we all share.