You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘The Stream of Life’ category.

Our little Babushka - the cutest puppy in the world.We first saw her walk out from under a car near our home – a grease-smudged ball of fluffy whiteness.  She was, hands down, the cutest puppy we had ever seen – a tiny thing with little ears, button eyes, and curly tail – a stuffed animal come to life.  Her cuteness was almost unbearable.

We asked her owner – a mechanic under the same car – if she had any brothers or sisters.  He had bought her on a street corner in San Francisco and didn’t know.  The following day, overrun by her puppy energy, he offered to sell her to us.  I bargained her down to $35 and then brought her home as a surprise for Loveleen.  We had a dog!

Almost instantly, she captured our hearts.  When it came to picking a name, it came to me in a lucid ‘aha.’  My special “pet” name for Loveleen was “My little babushka.”  I called her this with much much love and to give it away to this little puppy was no small sacrifice.  Sensing her importance to us, the name was bestowed on her… our little Babushka.

Babushka was indeed a terror as a puppy, relentlessly yanking on my pant legs and Love’s skirts.  She came with us everywhere – even to my construction job.  Her first trip in the back of my truck made her pee, poor thing, but soon after she came to love her windy chariot.

At the time, I didn’t like leashes.  To me they represented control and ownership, and I wanted Babushka to feel free and independent.  There were times, I’ll admit, when I screamed out in terror when cars came a little too fast or a little too close, but her childhood was truly fun-filled with adventure and freedom.

Babushka as a "teenager"As a tiny puppy, we never really imagined she would grow to become a big dog, but in her “teenage years”, those little bent ears stood up, her snout popped out and she grew.  Our little toy became a big toy – now with wolf-like features.

Years later we had her DNA test done and discovered she was an equal four-part mix of Chow Chow, Alaskan Malamute, Akita, and Komondor.  That combo, when flooded with love, is how you make a Babushka.

The reason I’m writing this is because today, fourteen years later, our little Babushka has moved on.  It was hard to know then just how much of a part of us she would become.

Some fun Babushka stories…

One of the first astonishing events in her life happened when we left her in the back of Loveleen’s Karmann Ghia one day to quickly go into a store.  When we came back, I noticed a wet paw print on the seat.  I looked around to see where the wetness had come from.  Did she pee in the car?  After lots of looking, we found the near impossible.  She did indeed pee.  She had gone through a mesh net between the back seat and the trunk area into a jar that was tipped at an angle on its side.  The jar was filled with pee without any spillage.  Not bad for a 3-month old puppy!  Good girl!

Babushka with Sunflowers

Another miraculous event happened that I shudder to even mention.  One day, Loveleen had tied her on the driveway to the back bumper of my truck.  It didn’t occur to her that I might drive off without noticing she was tied there, but that’s exactly what happened.  I had to leave in a hurry and drove off unaware.  Even worse, at this point, not only did we leash Babu because she had become aggressive toward other dogs, but we kept a full body harness around her to keep her from choking herself any time she lunged.

I had driven about two blocks before a neighbor waived me to stop and I looked back in cold horror to see Babu’s empty harness dragging from her leash.

By this time, Babu had become such an integral and beloved part of our lives.  It’s hard to convey how much of our love we had entwined with this little being.  The image of what may have happened to my angel was more horrific than I could ever express.  I turned the truck around in horror to face whatever destiny lay waiting.  When I got home, there she was!  Alive and well, standing with Loveleen in front of our house, wagging her fluffy tail.  I ran out to hug her and to receive her long kisses – both of us knowing just how close a call it had been.  Loveleen had watched in terror as I drove off with Babu running behind my accelerating truck.  That the harness miraculously slipped off her is something hard to explain.  As I held my baby girl in deep gratitude, a praying mantis came from nowhere and landed on my hand.  Grace.  True story.  Thank you.

But the biggest miracle by far was that for fourteen years we were all able to share a deep and priceless bond of love.  I won’t lie.  We’ve been good caretakers.  Babu got her walks every day – she was showered with love and treats, and sometimes went for hikes through the redwoods or rolling hills.  But what we’ve given to her can never compare to what she gave to us.  Babu was a part of our lives.  A big part.  But we were a much bigger part of hers.  She loved us profoundly.  Wherever I went, she would follow.  Whenever I looked up at her, she would be watching me.  Whenever Babu with Wings!we drove home, she would be waiting, always overjoyed to see us.  Her love was extraordinary.

One of my favorite things was getting kisses from her and looking into her innocent eyes while she kissed.  Oh my lord, what a precious being.  Knowing that she was dying, I made sure to do this often.  Though it may sound odd, Babu and I would stare into each others’ eyes while she kissed me – sharing together an exchange of love – two beings radiating all of our love toward one another. The love that flowed was universal and overflowing.  In love, we were true equals.

Babu was blessed to live a healthy life, though her last month was hard.  Most everything began going wrong.  Diabetes.  Kidney disease. Liver disease. Infections.  Seizures.  Loss of mobility.  No appetite.  Through it all, she stayed loving.

We did everything we could.  If she was to die, we wanted it to end on the right note – in harmony with the beauty and joy of her life.  Deciding when to let go is a decision I wish on no one.  That we were able to compassionately make this decision is something most take for granted for animals, though it’s a nearly taboo subject for people.  This is something that ought to change.  It is said that one’s state of mind at the moment of death sets the course for what comes next and is therefore of utmost importance.  What matters most is that one’s mind is with love.

Babu appearance right after death?

This dog appeared before us just minutes after Babu's passing.

Knowing in our hearts that it was Babu’s time, Loveleen drove my truck as I lay with Babu in the back – my arm over her fluffiness, our heads pressed together, feeling the tremendous loss that had arrived.  It was in the back of my truck that she was laid to rest.  I could feel her pure white spirit surround us.  Minutes later, a young dog appeared on the hill above us – a fluffy white dog with a puppy energy and an eerie resemblance to Babushka.  It sat and looked at us as if to say “I am here. I’ve crossed over. I’m OK.  Life goes on.”

All animals – every one of them – are our kin.  We need to respect and treat them as such.  Thank you, little Babushka, for all of your love and protection.  And thanks to all the beloved beings of the world.  Happy 14th Birthday on this Valentine’s Day.  We’ll love you forever.

Advertisements

Violence, I think, is my greatest fear.  There is nothing at all that I like about it.

When I think of the power of my own punch, connecting with someone’s fragile face, I can only imagine its effect: broken bones, knocked out teeth.  When I imagine myself being hit in the face, and having my own bones broken and my own teeth knocked out, I can only imagine it to be horrible.  In the movies and on TV you see fight scenes every day.  It’s made to seem so trivial.  It’s insanity.

gun45The other day our neighbor invited Loveleen and I to a shooting range to fire his various guns.  We went for the experience.  I’ve shot BB guns before, but never anything real.  I was taken aback by the power of these guns.  We started with the .38s and 9 mm and moved to the .357 magnum, 45s, and rifles.  Holy crap.  How a person could ever hold one of these, aim it at another living being, and pull the trigger, just blows me away.  It’s violence on a whole other level.  The bullet blasts out with thunderous force at a lightning speed, blasting a hole into another person’s body.  Talk about insanity.

These days, people are sensitive to the lead in their paint or kid’s toys, etc.  Why shouldn’t they be?  Exposure can cause brain and blood disorders.  To add outrageous insult to radical injury, these unforgiving bullets are actually filled with lead!  How insane is this?  Before going to the range, I went to my local sports store, walked in, and bought a box of .38s and a box of .45s – just like that – as easy as buying chewing gum.

Sure, we had a lot of fun shooting the guns.  It was great.  But shooting at paper targets, and shooting at living things are very different matters.

Later that night, we went to Non-Stop Bhangra, one of San Francisco’s most happening dance events.  I don’t know if it was the gun firing or what, but that night, I felt particularly alpha.  On the dance floor, I had the thought that if ever I was to get into a fight, tonight would probably be the night.  Testosterone raging, I was feeling a lot more brazen and fearless than usual.

When we walked out of the club to leave, this guy gave Loveleen a lingering sleazy look and I stared him down as I sometimes do.  Generally, this is just a little game that goes on with guys.  Never before has it led to anything.  This night, however, was an exception.  I’m not sure if my look was a little more threatening than usual or just a case of bad timing, but the guy’s friend saw it and called me on it.  In a matter of seconds, three or four buddies were all ganging up for a fight.  This was not something new to these guys and they weren’t kidding around.  I sized up the situation.

In my life, I’ve been in fight scenarios on several occasions.  I’ve always drawn the same conclusion that there is no way to win.  If I win the fight, I do so by hurting another person.  To me, this is a loss.  If I lose the fight, I get hurt.  This is also a loss.  So a fight is a complete lose-lose.  There’s nothing at all to gain.  So I find these situations awkward because the only solution is to get out of it, which can appear weak, but so be it.

grenadeSo I walked away.  Loveleen and I walked to the car and the guys crossed the street following.  One of them opened my car door.  I closed it.  He opened it again, at which point Loveleen couldn’t believe the audacity of these fuckers and got out of the car and started barking at them like a vicious Chihuahua.  It was pretty cool to see the fight in her, but at the same time, though guys won’t usually touch a female, I couldn’t leave this up to chance, so I got out of the car to defend her.  The bouncer and others ran across the street when they saw the situation inflame and nothing happened, though it was a crazy little flare up that escalated from nothing to potentially much almost instantly.

Who knows what could have happened (to them of course).  You never know; they may have even pulled out a weapon.  I wouldn’t be surprised.  It’s amazing how stupid people can be.

I realized later my mistake.  It’s not that I backed down like many people might conclude.  It’s that I reduced the first guy to his sleazy stare, instead of seeing him as a good person with sleaze issues.  Had I connected with the good in him, the flare up never would have happened.  My bad.

broken_heart_01

I really don’t want this blog to be about my relationship and would have preferred never to bring it up, but it was such a momentous event in my life that to have skipped over it would have made the rest of this blog a fraud.

Without going into details, I was truly crushed – my heart was broken and I became very, very sad. I didn’t want to talk about it; I didn’t want to be around anyone; and I was deeply torn.

I had always wanted Friends Without Borders to be a one-time event – a gigantic gift of love from the children of India to the children of Pakistan with no expectations of anything in return. I never wanted to create an organization. I just wanted it all to dissolve when we were done. It wasn’t until the final weeks that I got talked into helping aid a reciprocal gesture, and it sure seemed like the right thing to do.

I don’t know if it’s possible for me to convey how aligned everything was – the vision, the connections, the necessary steps. The potential beyond what we had already done was far more extraordinary, and easily within grasp. It would require real sacrifice and a lot of hard work, but I was ready. It was totally do-able.  On Round 2, we were about to launch a movement that would forever rock the nations of India and Pakistan – and other countries would have likely followed.

Knowing that my relationship was in serious jeopardy, I became paralyzed. I can see how different people may have different views on how I should have handled it, but I did my best, stuck somewhere in the middle. I kept things moving forward as best as I could, trying not to over-promise anything that I wasn’t going to be able to deliver as a sad person.

CB003752One by one, deadlines that had to be hit to make things happen began to pass, and as time went on, the incredible dream slowly began to crumble, adding more and more loss to my sadness.

I don’t want to be too dramatic, but that is what was happening internally, and we reached a point where plans had to be pretty much scrapped altogether.

The bright side is that Love and I are still ‘together as one’ (great song). There is unfinished business with Friends Without Borders and the FWB team plans to start it back up in January. Though the plans have been downsized, the heart hasn’t changed, and with a smaller scope, we get to channel that heart straight to the kids. It’s looking to be pretty amazing.

Apologies to everyone for retreating a little. What goes up must come down. It’s a great ride, and as my friend Sukh says, “a great life.”

rubber_ducky

Welcome to life. At some point, each of us is bound to experience profound loss. And we all somehow manage to get through it. I’m not happy about my current situation, but life is what it is. The key is how we deal with it.

By posting this now, I am kind of opening myself up, sharing this most difficult process as it happens in real time. For me, there couldn’t be much of a greater loss than losing Loveleen so, if it actually happens, how am I going to deal with it?

It’s kind of twisted to say that it’s fortunate I’ve dealt with profound loss before, but I have, and having been through it, I’ve picked up some survival tools. The feelings that will be coming my way are likely to be pretty severe. It’s one thing to talk about how to cope. It’s another thing to do it. I’m sharing these tools with everyone, hoping that maybe it might help you out in similar situations, but it will remain to be seen whether they prove useful to me this time around.

Rule #1 – I Love Myself. When tragedy hits, we can lose hope and fall into depression. The antidote is love and if the world is not feeding you with it, then feed yourself. Repeat to yourself over and over “I love myself, I love myself…” – whether you believe it or not. Eventually you
will. Sometimes, it may be hard to keep the flame lit, but this is a sure way of doing it. See also my earlier post called “Recipe for Blue Skies”.

Rule #2 – Enjoy the process :).  In moments of sadness we are exposed to the sweetness of life. Life is not just about smiling and being happy. Life is about savoring our existence and this existence is made up of all kinds of extraordinary experiences, many of them very difficult to go through. Nothing can reveal severe beauty like the pain of loss – here, we are re-living love on its way out. It’s OK to be crushed, but enjoy being crushed, and savor the love for the second time as it makes its departure. When you can learn to appreciate everything – wanted and unwanted – then life just becomes an amazing ride.

Rule #3 – Stay true. This is an important part of enjoying the process and the best way to grow with the ride. For me, poetry has always been very helpful in times like these.

Rule #4 – Stay active. Distract yourself and keep the fire burning in whatever way it takes to
get through the really tough parts.

Rule #5 – Practice anonymous acts of kindness. In planting seeds of goodness, new joy begins
to grow and take over.

I’m sure there are many more rules. These are just a few that have helped me. Feel free to add any you may know in the comments section. Anyway, I’m just trying to be positive. I’m assuming from past losses that this will be pretty hard to handle, but who knows, perhaps after 6 Vipassana courses, I’ll be grounded enough to watch this one a little differently. :)

dewAfter writing the last post called Losing Lo~veleen, I told my parents about the possibility of Love and I splitting. They were crushed and encouraged me to go the child route. My father started thinking creatively about ways it could work and this made me think that perhaps he was right. I imagined the reality of life without Love compared to life with Love and child, and started to think that the latter, though full of compromises, could work. I could make it work, and it could be beautiful. Incredibly beautiful.

I brought it up to Love and she revealed deeper truths to the story – that the hope of having a child had already died within her. She rejected the possibility and said that she simply needed a fresh start. Now I felt the whole thing as personal rejection.

When my housemate, Bhuvanesh, asked me to go with him to Yosemite, I decided to take flight and heal. It worked. If I could spend two years in a place so beautiful, I think everything would work out just fine.

With my first long-term girlfriend, Angie, I was emotionally far away. There came a time when the seed of our separation began to grow within her. On a day when I was very much supportive and present for her, it changed everything. She re-opened completely and said she would do everything necessary to go the distance with me and asked if that’s what I really wanted. There came an awkward pause. Somehow, inside, I felt that Love~leen (who I had never met) was my destiny. I can’t explain how I knew this, but I felt it, and at that moment, I couldn’t meet her question with a matching openness.

It took a while after that before we actually split up and it happened with me kicking and screaming, but in my mind, that was the moment of truth.

Lov~eleen says that she is ready to move on. When she says this, she has nothing but extraordinary love for me which makes it a lot more bearable, but still the thought is profoundly horrific. I tell her that I am open to having a child and she tells me that it is too late.

My guess, to share with you all my deepest of deep secrets, is that if having a child was my greatest wish, that the part of her she says has died would quickly spring back to life, but the truth, just like in that moment with Angie, is that, for better or worse, I am not of this world. My heart turned inward a long time ago. Though I am encased in desires just like everyone else, at the core, I am ready to move on. My heart is in a very peaceful place of surrender. I yearn for freedom – to let go these earthly shackles. It may take me a very long time to finally inform my desires of this greater truth, but that is where I stand.

Lovelee~n knows this. Probably better than I do. And that is why the dream died within her.

Anyone who is reading this has a very distinct edge over me. I am writing this with a very clear voice. After this, change will likely follow, and the emotions will come flooding in, leaving the voice of reason washed aside as the torrents flow and I stand screaming and gulping for air. You will know. I will think a million different thoughts – all pleas for emotional survival – and I will stand quite vulnerable, with you knowing more than I.

Despite the kicking and screaming, perhaps in life, sometimes we get what it is that we want.

These words are dangerous. Probably the most dangerous I have ever written. I would be happy to be a father. I would love my child to the Highest Heavens. I am ready to take it on. Lov~eleen wants the dream to be mutual or not at all. Though I feel very much like the victim in this, she has already bared the cross. This is a Divine tragedy, beautiful and cruel.

Love life.

losingloveLo~veleen and I have been together for almost 13 years. As a couple, we have become a foundation for many people, showing the way for what a truly great relationship can be. It’s very possible now that we will separate and if so, for me it is not unlike losing a loved one to death.

I’m pretty certain I know Love~leen better than anyone else on Earth. Like everyone, she has her shortcomings, but I don’t know if anyone reading this really knows the profound beauty of her spirit like I do or can even imagine the significance of what losing her would be like for me.

Sometimes she is known as Love. When people hear her name is Love, without exception, everyone recognizes the bigger truth of this. She is Love, walking incarnate. If you’ve ever walked into her world, you will find a beauty of a transcendent nature – a room lit up with well-placed candles, freshly cut flowers, incense, and magic. Lovele~en is the original. Her Native American spirit comes alive in her intimate relationship with the natural world that surrounds her.

Just as I was born with a calling, L~oveleen too was born with a calling. She feels the call of motherhood and whether or not this ever happens, she has to be true to herself as well.

What we are experiencing is not the result of any tension or fighting. We are deeply and madly in love with one another. What we are experiencing is what unfolds when two people are both true to themselves, at the cost of whatever may fall in doing so.

My time with her has been sublime and if I could go back and loop it all over again, you better believe I would do it. My life has been so blessed and to knowingly let her go is the greatest of sacrifices. The choice to have a child with Lovel~een is no less than a Divine choice. What an extraordinary life that would be.

But all I know is that our rivers are running dry, our animals are being slaughtered, our Earth is overheating, our brothers and sisters are dying of starvation, damaging and killing one another. Our species has lost its way. I can’t pretend that I have any answers or that I am not as screwed up as everyone else. But I can’t put a cap on my capability of trying to bring healing in a greater way.

What is the reality of losing Lov~eleen? It leaves my spirit deflated and crushed and as much as I’d like to make a difference, I don’t know whether I’ll be able to reinvent myself or will go into full retreat, perhaps ending up a very sad and lonely person. But I can’t make my decisions out of fear.

This last weekend, I came to terms with the greater potential of our separation. It brought many tears and felt like something sacred was being ripped out my world. Along with this extraordinary loss come the very human fears and frailties, like my delicate pride and the betrayal of seeing my wife with someone else.

My feelings travel all over. At its best, we will both be freed to reach our heights. At its worst, I wish that my world could come to an end right now. If it did, I’d like to be first in line to be reborn as Love’s child.

compass4I came back to the US without any agendas. I figured I would figure it out once I arrived. I gave myself some time to recover, some time to be present with Loveleen, some time to just be. In the absence of any structure or guidance, I found myself reverting to some old habits. I looked at my first naked chick pictures on the internet in well over a year, I slept a lot, I avoided the incredible pile up of work that was waiting for me from Friends Without Borders.

Very shortly after arriving, I picked up the book Siddhartha by Herman Hesse and started reading it. It had been many years since I first read it and it was actually very different from what I had remembered. It was very difficult watching Siddhartha lose himself after cultivating such an extraordinary spirit. In the story, he is very casual about the choices he made, saying that they allowed him to awaken naturally and know the limitations to surface living in a genuine way, without dogma. And his experience seemed to be very parallel to what I found myself falling into the first weeks back in the US.

Without direction, I wasn’t going anywhere. I could easily see how this could spiral into depression and addiction, etc. Fortunately, for me, the need for some kind of compass was very clear, and I don’t feel I will drift very far.

A compass is something that ensures that your spirit is lit and exercised. We are surrounded by all kinds of temptations that seem attractive, but will only bring us misery in the long run. Though they are often flawed, religion, spirituality, or at least some kind of engagement with the world can keep us moving through life in a healthy way.

I guess for me, I tend to recreate my compasses all the time. Presently, I don’t yet have one, but it’s likely, when I find it, the needle will be pointing your direction.

baby_bird_1I’m back in the US. In terms of the blog, I’m not sure what that means. I named the blog “To Be True,” implying that I would keep things real. I have a lot more to say, but to write about what’s real is often difficult because things are sometimes too real… and too personal… to talk about openly. But to avoid these big things is to stray from the essential.

Since the age of 17, I have always carried with me the gut knowledge to avoid getting nested. This knowing, though strong, was never validated by my life. As much as I knew to avoid long-term commitments like pets, debts, and children, there never seemed to be a justified reason why. It just seemed like an irrational fear or eccentricity and over the years, with little compromises here and there, I ended up somewhat nested, but not totally. This trip to India gave me the first validation that there was something to my internal knowing.

baby_kitten_1Having to leave behind Loveleen, Babushka, and Luna for so long was a difficult thing to do in so many ways – not to mention all the other commitments and responsibilities that needed attending to. I took that difficult step and did the best I could to make everything work out.

But it was sometimes hard on Loveleen.

I have always been open to having a child, though it never seemed quite right. If I did, I would want to make the child my life’s primary focus and in doing this, I would make an incredible father. I would love my child as much as any father has ever loved his child. Being a good father, however, would require a complete reversal of everything I have built my life on. Raising a child in America – the way I would want – is not easy. Our isolated lifestyles in America are good for cultivating the benefits of self-development, but not good for providing the “village” required to raise the happiest children. And maybe it’s just me, but I find the public schools in America often to be hell-holes.

The biggest change for me is that I would have to let go much of my reckless approach to giving, and shift my priorities to making money and providing. Perhaps we could find a community living situation or could move to a village somewhere or to a place where my child could run free without worries, but that would require moving away from family, and things get complicated…

arunimaLoveleen’s biological clock is ticking and for a long time, she has wanted a family. I think Loveleen would make the best mother of all time. One of my strongest tendencies is to want to fulfill people’s dreams, but this one is tricky. By fulfilling her dream, I become nested. And what that means is that my ability to give my all in whatever way needed becomes seriously compromised by my needing to be present to the new, long-term needs on hand. If I tried to continue on course – and be a dad – I would end up being an absent father. Very often, very caring and dedicated people like Einstein, Gandhi, or John Lennon, just don’t make good parents because they spend all their resources elsewhere. This is my big fear.

Several days before leaving India, I became sick. I developed a high fever and slept a lot. Perhaps, I thought, this was a result of an easing of all of the responsibilities I had held for so long. The plane ride home was long. The greeting I got at the airport from friends was very sweet, and then I spent the next few days still recovering. Certain blisters I had gotten in India were getting more and more infected and the bacteria entered my bloodstream and became life-threatening. It’s likely I had a staph infection. Once again, antibiotics saved the day.

babymonkeyThe hardest part about arriving, however, was when Loveleen started talking about breaking up in a very serious way. She is very understanding and eloquent, and said she has to come to terms with the idea of me not wanting to have a family.

It’s not that I don’t want a child. How incredibly amazing would that be? It’s that my gut is warning me – it’s telling me to remain free so that I can serve unbound. The thought of losing Loveleen deflates my spirit to zero.