Apprenticeship to Love, Chapter 161, May 31, 2024

  • Today’s questions: What lies, hidden, in the deep shadows of your understandings? What does your seeing unsee?
  • Today's suggested practice: to breathe and feel the tension, pressure, friction, and stress, and then allowing it to become more beautiful than you can imagine... (see my "Short Practice,” below)
  • My practice today: To rest, allow myself to not practice, and notice WTF that brings (& knowing that later today I will, again, chant Akaal for my wise & departed friend).



Have I said this before? That this thing I feel, this tenderness to the world that his death wakes in me is not sadness, but brokenheartedness, grief? That the depth of this feeling is reason for joy? That it is, as someone I cannot remember once said, the measure of much I love him? So, something to be welcomed. Allowed. Invited and celebrated!
I am sorry, my friend, that, as much as I loved you, I did not love you more.
Please forgive me.
Thank you, my friend, for your friendship. Thank you for naming me as your brother. Thank you for your generosity. Thank you for your tenderness. Thank you for your wisdom.

Thank you for gently leading me through my drama of love, to know this deeper, calmer experience of love —of this thing some might call God.

I love you.
His gift was not prognostication, but knowing. He had an intuition of life. An extreme sensitivity to and awareness of the strange. Of the stranger in us.

He saw me and helped me to know myself.
I am perhaps naïve, but contra Kierkegaard I am not so sure that life can be understood backwards any more than it can be understood forwards. With him, however, I am convinced that it can only be "lived fowards."

I say naïve because what else am I doing here with these words but trying to understand what this apprenticeship means to me in this life?

What were my wise friend and I always on about? Becoming aware and ever more sensitive —not as a mental game but as a bodily experience— to the moment of this life. Allowing ourselve to know it in the experiencing of it, by walking first backward, then forward with sensitivity to its expressions. To become so intimate with the experience of being alive, so open and vulnerable to it, that it was all only this: love, beauty, radiance.

Everything, only this.
Perhaps I am being too hard on poor Soren. Perhaps. Though I think his deep and tortured love for Irma Seidler, and her love for him, is a tragedy of not living life forward. A tragedy of standing on the threshold of that commitment, and being unable to cross.
I am suspicious of "celebrations of life." Maybe it's my grumpiness. But it smacks of death-phobia. Of our cultural poverty. Our fear of grief and brokenheartedness.

While I do not trust my default grumpiness, I trust the poetry of my beloved, my Oracle. Viz my grumpy wondering she offered me this: He was the celebration of life.

I've practiced to become more sensitive to life and what lies hidden in its folds. To be more sensitive to it, and less resistant and less afraid of what the folds, unfolded, reveal.

This is not the work of prose or science, but of poetry.
So much of our time together was spent in the unfolding —the understanding backwards— to become ever closer to the magical experience of living life forwards. With hearts open. Always less & less & less & less afraid.

Oh, that I have known such a companion! Such a teacher!

And now, to stand here, alone. And to have to do this for myself.

But I am not alone. In her strange way, she stands with me. As Oracle. As Siren.

He helped me to understand this, and to trust this strange radiance. And he marvelled at my commitment to this way of being alive to the mystery of her strangeness and of living life forward. Without safety. And he knew that I was onto something, and told me he was grateful for that.
Is there every understanding? If, as I look deeply into the rearview mirror of this apprenticeship, it tells me anything it is that more important than understanding is acceptance and poetry. Every bit of the bright light of understanding casts its own deep shadow. The dance of light and shadow the poetry of love, of this life.

What then, is real? Or true?

The ache in my heart is real. This ache, it is true. This I know —and trusting this ache I open to this life.
A few days before he died I was revisited by the ache in the back of my heart. It was familiar. My first awareness of it was in the weeks and days before she had to leave me.

I wondered at its return: What did my heart know, that I wasn't yet aware of?
I do not believe there is a way to "play it safe" with this life. Whatever attempts I make to understand it backwards, there really is only the living forwards.

Nevertheless, there is the possibility of feeling into it while living it to better discern its rootings and flowerings, its flow. This the practice my wise friend and I, in our own ways, followed. A practice that allows that knowing with unreasonable knowing of what I consider the proper (and sacred) husbandry of life, of living.
I am inviting a few who knew him to sit with me. With him. With our experiences of his presence, and now his (at least corporeal) absence. I'm not sure how to do this, to live forward without him beside me.

But I do remember this: He told me to slow down. Slow down if you want to know her.

Slow down I repeat, to myself. Become more still. Even more still. Allow myself to feel the texture of this moemnt, this breath, not to understand it so much as to relish it and to celebrate the experiencing of it in the experiencing of it.

He was, she reminds me, the celebration of life. And I love him.


🌀The Conscious Warrior makes death an ally, using it to sharpen his present actions, future plans, and current state of being. (John Wineland , Precept 11)

🌀You do not deserve anything. (Kendra Cunov)

🌀Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. (Søren Kierkegaard)

🌀He was the celebration of life (My beloved, my Oracle, my Siren)


This month's practice, to breathe and feel the tension, pressure, friction, and stress, and then allowing it to become more beautiful than you can imagine:
Please read through first, then ...

  • Set two alarms, for times of the day when you have a five-10 minutes to become conscious of who and how you are in this day.
  • When the alarm sounds, wherever and however you are, take a few moments and:
    • Ask yourself: What lies, hidden, in the deep shadows of my understandings? What does my seeing unsee?
    • Then, follow the short practice here:
      • Stand, or sit, or lay yourself down, and bring your attention to your body.
      • Feel the ground beneath you. Allow the earth to hold you with gravity. Feel how dense and heavy you are. Feel also how lightly you sit or stand or lay on the earth. Feel yourself between the pull of earth's gravity and the subtle but persistent pull of the sun, the stars.
      • Begin to breathe long and deep into your belly. Slow the inhale to a count of four or six. Slow your exhale to a count of six or eight or ten. Repeat three to five cycles of breathing, going a little slower with each cycle. Continuing to notice yourself held by the earth, raised by the sun and stars and sky above. Feel the subtle tension and pressure and friction and stress that allows you to be and rest and move in this body.
  • When you’re done, take another minute or two, breathing gently, slowly filling and emptying your belly. Here, as you breathe into your fullness, ask yourself, Do I feel right? Am I in alignment with the man or woman I am? Do I even have an inkling what that might feel like? Do I even have an inkling of what it feels like to be out of alignment with myself?
  • Notice if your body-mind feels somehow changed. And whether you notice a change or not, be content with yourself, exactly as you are in this moment.
  • Continue with your day until the next alarm sounds, and repeat.