Come a Little Closer

Sometimes it feels like I’m always sad
and things will never be any other way.
The void within will continue to grow,
as will this angst and constant searching
for something I may never get.
Is it an all-consuming purpose?
The truth about life?
Or just the truth about my life?

Although living this privileged existence on the outside,
my spirit feels as restless as a wandering dervish,
always in search of the truth,
looking for beauty and love
in every speck and every soul,
in every corner of this world.

Sometimes I wonder if I have a beautiful soul.
But what good is it if there’s no one to see it,
to recognize it
and appreciate it?
It’s never meant much to me to have a pretty face,
yet somehow,
that is what matters to most.

You are the only One who truly knows me,
but I hardly know You.
The closer I try to get,
the farther I seem to move away
from the people of this world,
their desires,
their to do lists,
their visions for the future.

I wish I could meet You,
but instead I try to gather You,
like items on a scavenger hunt,
from your most fragile forms,
like the petals of a flower
or the nuanced brushstrokes of a breaking dawn,
to your most resplendent creations,
like the lush and lofty trees of the rainforests
or the majestic star-lit sky.
From the concrete columns of architectural marvels
to the intangible emotions of a couple lost in love,
I collect each piece of you
and add it to the void within,
hoping for a sense of closeness,
a glimpse of paradise,
a soulful balm.
And sometimes,
it works.

I often wonder if You’re watching me from above
or deep within
and laughing at my exertions
trying so hard
to feel so close
to the One who is already
so near.

Why is joy so hard to experience?
Why are guilt and fear so deeply ingrained in our psyches?
Why are these invisible bonds so impossible to break?
These cloaks of despair so hard to shake?

You say You’re closer to us than our jugular vein.
Why, then, is it so hard to feel You?
Are you hidden in my tears?
Are you blended in my breath?
Because then I might understand
why I cry so much,
why I sigh so much.

Sometimes I think
you ask too much
of me.
Or perhaps I am one of your weaker creations,
to serve what purpose, I do not know,
except to feel
this ever-present
pull.

What do I do with all this love,
with all this longing?
How do I spend this life
so far away from You?
Unless perhaps,
You think it’s time
to come a little closer,
so I may finally experience
the infinite,
before this life is over.

When I Sit in Silence

When I sit in silence
with nothing but my thoughts for company,
my consciousness for comfort,
I feel,
palpably,
that something is missing.
For years, I didn’t know what that was.
An absence of goals and dreams?
A lack of purpose?
No connection to a single home,
a stable identity?
The theories behind my inadequacy came and went –
childhood trauma,
young adult depression,
laziness without ambition,
not enough gratitude.
Now I know better.
The thing that’s missing,
the lack of which makes me feel
this unbearable loneliness and deep-seated longing,
is You.
You who created me
and loves me like no other.
You, who are with me,
even when you’re not,
who gifts me moments of work and rest,
glimpses of transcendence and treachery.
Despite all that you have blessed me with –
family, friends, multiple homes, diverse experiences, a world of beauty and amazement –
nothing compares to the feeling
of being
with You.

I miss you always.
I sometimes wonder how I’ll last
with just this tenuous connection between us.
I want more.
Is this what greed is?
Then, truly, I am a greedy person.
Honor, nobility, morality be damned.
You can see right through to the core of my being,
even if no one else can.
I ache for you,
like a child who’s been separated from his mother,
or someone who wants only to be wrapped in her lover’s embrace.
I ache.
And that is the root of all my pain.
Everything else pales in comparison
to the joy of being with you.
Yet I know
that “everything else” is your gift to me,
to keep me balanced,
too distracted to drown
under the weight
of this painful disconnection.

How can I help others to heal
when my own wounds feel so fresh,
so physical?
When will this ache diminish?
How do I move forward in this life
when all I want is to fall back
into You,
when all I can think about
is melting into your embrace
and becoming One
again?

You say heaven or hell lies ahead of us,
on the other side of this life.
I say heaven or hell is right now,
this life and what we make of it.
What, then, waits for us on the other side?
Home?
Perfect union?
Limitless love?

You, with arms outstretched.

Why Giving is Good for You

We’ve all heard that it is good to give in the service of others, whether it be of your time, effort or money. But how often do we think about the benefits giving has on us?

Usually, at the end of a long day or gruelling week, I feel depleted, as if I have nothing left to give anyone, not even a smile or a kind word. I just want to be left alone to stew in my self pity, resentful that there is no one around to give me the love and attention I want.

Recently, while meditating, I opened up to a new idea. I had been focusing my energy on removing this painful block at the top of my spine, trying to will it away through the sheer use of my mind and breathing. Nothing worked. It was only when I stopped focusing solely on the pain, but rather, around it, on my body as a whole, and thought to myself, “Just release,” that the pain finally dissipated. It occured to me that “releasing” is a lot like “giving”. By giving my negative energy away, not to another person, but back into the universal pool where all energy exists, I was able to feel a sense of release, and ultimately, peace.

If we can start to think of giving, in all circumstances, as a release, it will do us so much more good than the people to whom we give. Whether it’s lending our voice to a cause, creating our art for the world, sacrificing our time to be better parents, or just sharing our resources with those in need, the act of giving is a privilege. The giver gets so much more out if it than he/she will ever know.

At the end of the day, when your exhaustion gets the best of you, instead of focusing on all that negative energy, aim to release it. Give it back to the universe. Sorry, world, I don’t want this resentment, this disappointment, this depression. You can have it back. I want to make room within me to receive something better from you – your endless supply of love. 

It may not come from the exact person you want, in the exact way you want. But it will come, so long as you are open to receiving it. Being open means softening your heart, softening your expectations. It means accepting loving energy in whatever form it takes, and allowing it to replenish you.

So next time you think you have nothing left to give, give anyway – a hug, a smile, a kind word, a helping hand. Apart from the postive impact it might have on someone else, and the ripple effect that ensues, it will be a release for your soul, and a way to make room for replenishment.

Why Pain Matters

Most people run away from pain.

It’s uncomfortable and disturbing.

We think it takes us away 

from being able to enjoy life.

And yet, on the flip side of pain,

there is always pleasure.

They are two opposing sides of the same coin 

that we haven’t learned how to flip to our advantage.

Most people just choose to stuff the coin deep within their pockets,

rejecting both pain and pleasure,

in favor of a routine life,

where both these experiences are tempered,

and life seems manageable.

Except that life isn’t meant to be managed.

It’s meant to be fully lived.

Despite our best efforts, life doesn’t bend to our will.

Instead, we’re the ones getting puppeteered through life,

thrown from one tumult to another,

taking solace in the breaks between each crisis.

What if there is a way for us to align ourselves with the Universe?

To reduce our depression and anxiety,

our chronic loneliness,

always feeling on the fringes,

disconnected?

What if there is a way to be happy,

but it involves taking out that dreaded coin,

and dealing with the pain in our life head on,

learning how to sit with it,

process it,

and ultimately, 

release it?

What if the force of releasing that pain 

had the power to elevate us,

causing the coin to flip on its own? 

Then we might feel the greatest pleasure of all –

connection.

To ourselves.

To each other.

To that spiritual being lying deep within us.

The thing is,

there is no such thing as pleasure

without pain.

If we didn’t have either of these experiences, 

we’d be living a life of ennui.

Without the pain of our aching muscles,

getting a massage wouldn’t feel like such ecstasy.

Without the pain of going to school every day,

we wouldn’t have the pleasure of seeing our friends,

or in the long term,

the satisfaction that comes from achievement,

the joy that comes from using our education to better the world.

Without the travesty of war,

we would not truly cherish peace.

Many of us live with deep wounds,

from childhood,

from broken relationships,

from illness,

or the loss of loved ones.

We endure tremendous pain,

absorbing it into our psyche,

allowing it to diminish our spirit,

trying, unsuccessfully, to ignore it 

until it goes away for good. 

But pain is like a leech.

It won’t leave

unless we learn 

how to heal.

The path to healing is personal.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all set of guidelines

for finding your bliss.

Yes, talking to a therapist might help,

or joining a support group.

Yes, medication might be hugely beneficial,

or reading about personal development, 

opening up 

to new ways of thinking.

Or maybe, for you,

none of this will work.

Perhaps you just need patience

and perseverance,

the sincere desire to evolve,

to transcend this human pain that is constantly weighing you down,

so you might find some semblance of peace –

and dare I say –

happiness. 

The path to healing is personal.

You must figure it out on your own

but not necessarily alone.

In fact, 

you’re never actually alone.

If you step out of your own way,

start ignoring your inner critic –

that pesky roommate who’s taken up residence in your mind –

let go of all your preconceived notions,

your antagonizing ideas about life,

your impressions of success and failure,

if you let go

and trust

your intuition,

that constant connection you have with the universe,

I promise you,

your heart will open up

to the truth.

Your path will be revealed.

Something beautiful will take shape

from the core of your being.

And if you can learn to trust it,

it will never steer you wrong. 

If you are ready to face your trauma,

the challenge will be immense

but the reward exponential.

Because with healing, 

comes the ability to help others.

And in the quest to help others,

you may just find your life’s purpose.

In helping others,

you’re creating a ripple effect

that will change the world.

And in helping others,

the person you’re actually helping the most,

is yourself.

Your Gift

My every breath is for you,

but also,

from you –

a gift that often feels like a curse.

You gave me life,

when all I really want is to be with you.

The irony, though, 

is that when we re-unite,

I’ll be too far gone to know it.

You’ve given me this gift of the human experience,

that I may be aware of pain and pleasure,

that I may chart my own path,

creating heaven or hell on earth.

You’ve given me distractions, too,

responsibilities and relationships,

agonies and enchantments.

You insist upon this gulf between us,

making sure that when I get embroiled in this earthly existence,

I will forget you.

But, here, too, your penchant for irony abounds,

because if I don’t forget you,

then how will I ever know the ecstasy that comes 

with awakening to your memory,

of realizing I’m not alone,

and never have been?

Like a child in her mother’s warm embrace,

a lover in her partner’s adoring gaze,

I will feel the relief that comes with surrender.

No matter how far you send me, 

I will find my way back.

Being apart from you is excruciating 

but exquisite, too.

You are the only thing 

that fills the void within.

I see you everywhere –

in the people I love,

and the people I try not to hate.

I see you in the movies I watch

and the books I read,

in mankind’s evolving knowledge of science and space,

their growing wisdom of the mind, body and spirit.

I see you everywhere

and nowhere,

and all I have to keep for myself,

as undeniable proof of your love,

is your gift.

This breath.

I will honor this breath as best as I can.

I will honor this breath as best as I can,

but even when I can’t,

when I mix up my realities

and mess up my priorities,

your gift will still be with me,

never judging,

only loving.

I’ll know that as long as I follow the trail of that breath,

and remember you in my every step,

I will never be lost.

In this moment,

with this breath,

I am yours.

I am yours.

I am yours.

All Stories Can Be Summed Up Into This One Line

We are one.

Whether it’s a Regency-era novel or reality TV, self-help books or Sufi poetry, indie movies or Insta highlights – every story we read/hear gives us a peak into someone else’s life.

The story might be set in a past or future landscape, and take place halfway across the world from you. It might be an encapsulation of one person’s emotions or her description of a moment in time. Whatever the story, each one shows us another perspective, another life into which we could have been born. But just because we weren’t, doesn’t mean we can’t try to understand what it’s like to be “other”.

Stories create empathy. They allow us to see ourselves in others. And if we can truly see our reflection in another person, or in several other people, or, indeed, the whole of mankind, we would realize that we’re all the same. We each have a human body with a soul or consciousness. We all go through the same cycles of life and experience the same laws of nature.

If you walked down the street today, and passed by someone who looked exactly like you, perhaps you’d be more likely to smile and say “Hi!” If your enemy suddenly transformed into your mirror image, you’d probably be more likely to resolve your conflicts and forgive him. What if you saw yourself on the news, being attacked or oppressed in some way; wouldn’t you be more likely to help yourself? To speak up, to tell your story, to call out injustice. To create an uproar.

We are one. And like some idiot who hammers nails into his feet and sets his hair on fire, we’re only hurting ourselves by not taking care of each other. It’s only natural for our world to be in pain right now. It’s a symptom of all the damage we’ve inflicted on each other. What’s unnatural is for us – all of us – to not be screaming out in anguish.

Dayton. El Paso. Chicago.

Kashmir. Palestine. Syria.

The Amazon Forest. Our polluted oceans. The toxic atmosphere.

There is no lack of stories to be told, people and places to be cared for. And the great thing is, there is no lack of love in this world, or positive energy with which to spread that love.

So next time you’re walking down the street, see if you can spot yourself – your thoughts, your emotions, your experiences – in the person that passes you by. Then take a moment to wonder what that person’s story might be. The tingle that you feel in your heart? It’s called Empathy, and it’s just another word for Love.

My First Prose Poem Performance

About nine months ago, I shared a prose poem with all of you entitled, “Bare Naked”. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, you can find it here. Today, I’m sharing a video of myself for the first time, in which I’m “performing” it. This is new to me, so thank you, in advance, for your views and comments!