The Big Bad Wolf – a poem

30 May

Oh, howler monkeys, barking brothers, give me a sign!
Oh, mossies with your accidental inoculations and incessant whine!
Oh, reckless horses grazing rain-soaked on hillsides!
Oh, back-lit cloud-filled glowing eve moonlight!
Oh, parrots screeching, paired in flight!
Oh, cicada electric diamond dust-mite!

Whisper to me, what’s next in this life?

Oh, you ebb and flow, you gradual let go,
you unpredictable tides toss my ego to the side.
Oh, you kindhearted warriors and medicine men
converting skeptics to believers; thanking god, forgiving sin.

Oh, lift me sky high, you wondrous ride,
wings wide embracing sight, souring to glide
darting to find with shimmering eyes.

Oh, certainty, undressed in this magical mess,
monsters loom whispering sexy sounds of death
Rundown, wrung out, mind void of sound
shoulders unwound spiral toward the ground..

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?
Laa laa laa laa laa?

Oh, the future is bright!
Soul, fear not of heights!
Simply squeeze myself tight,
love, and believe with all my might,
everything’s already alright.

(inspired by whitman, panama, and my beating heart)

Wandering in the winds

19 Oct

Wandering in the winds

The only constant in life is change.  My body and cells are always changing, evolving, growing, working, and dying.  My mind and emotions shape-shift.  It’s important to remind myself that none of them are mine.  Nope.  None of the things I love or hate about myself or my experience exist beyond this very moment.  A sense of peace expands when I breathe in and let this feeling sink into my wavering bones.

Rooting is not easy for me.  I prefer to drift and allow the universe to topple me over, tangle my hair, lift me above the strongest currents, and then sweep me away at high tide.   I experience oneness in these dancing flowing moments, allowing to be.  But a seed cannot blow in the wind forever, no no no, not if it wants to grow.  I believe the universe wants to manifest itself in every possible way through me, through us.  All our seeds are meant to grow.  We are nearly weightless in this void.  We are compact, efficient, and contain all the vital information to survive.  Upon finding fertile ground we will have one chance to grow.  Is it safe?

Fully exhausted, I’m struggling against the current.  My roots don’t know where to go.  I tell them, “dig deeper, away from those weeds, around these stones, stay, don’t be afraid,” but actually, I have absolutely no idea what the fuck I’m doing.  To ground is to trust in stillness, and create something to be a representative for who I am and what I do.  A pillar.  I prefer myself as a whisper, a story, a burst of passion, a gentle touch.  My fragile sprout chances death and dismemberment if those winds blow and I don’t let go.

How much of this is about ‘letting go’ and how much is about ‘running away?’  There are no answers, so I’ll live inside the question mark.  I’ll allow my constant curiosity to observe these thunderous quaking cries, an unruly display.  Fuck it.  I’ll just breathe.  Fear not, little seed.  This is an effortless endeavor.  I will trust that now is the time and this is the place, mostly because there is no use in thinking otherwise.  Hold on tight.

How I got deported: The stupidity and grandeur of youth

11 Jun

How I got deported: The stupidity and grandeur of youth

Disguised in her black hoodie , barely-slept, emotional and unkempt, she approached Immigration.  Her walk exposed her slightly cocky bravado.  She strode to the desk and greeted the official with mock-warmness.

It was her third visit to England.  First backpacking, then a few years later working with a boyfriend at festivals.  Her first passport recently expired, the fresh clean pages of the new book stuck together as she flipped to her photo.  The old one was better, she thought, I look tired.   The man behind the desk held her there for quite awhile, asking questions about her bank account, her return flight, and her recently renewed passport.  Her annoyance was apparent in her short answers and even shorter attention span.  The two bloody marys on the plane didn’t help; neither did the sleepless flight or the big fight with her boyfriend prior to boarding.

Somehow, she was convinced it was all his fault.  He wouldn’t come to the airport to pick her up.  He was too tired, too busy, too important, or so it seemed.  She grumbled and grunted, though her heart felt sore and a little droopy.

She decided not to tell the officer about this man.  She didn’t have his phone number written down, or his address.  She did have his mom’s information, so she strung out a story about meeting her at the Glastonbury festival the previous year.  The thing is, the officer kept asking questions: how old is your friend?  Does she live in an apartment?  Does she have any pets?  What’s her phone number?  What is your itinerary?  What is her occupation?

Oh-oh.  Panic and lying ensued.  She wasn’t a very good liar, but what to do?  The officer didn’t miss the way she searched into the bare corners of the room for the answers to his questions.  He sat her on the bench for hours, and hardly offered her a glance.  She could imagine her backpack spinning round and round the conveyor.

Finally, a female immigration official approached her.  She was escorted to pick up her pack, and then through a locked door that opened with a security code.  The official wouldn’t make eye contact at all.  Her heels clicked on the waxed floor, as they made their way through the maze of hallways.

She stood shocked as the officer dissected her personal belongings.  The official disemboweled each bag, intensely inspecting certain items and carelessly scattering others across the metal table.  Pack that.  Open this.  The official paged through her journal, pausing to scoff at pages with colored-pencil drawings.  The girl got a sour taste in her mouth and shrank in her seat a bit.

The official confiscated a card pressed between pages of her journal, written on the plane to a friend in jail.  She couldn’t remember exactly what she wrote, but had a bad feeling about it.  She felt violated and scared, eyes widely awaiting what would become of her.

After being fingerprinted and photographed she was led to a locked room.  She must wait here to be questioned again.  How long? she asked.  Anywhere from an hour to 24 hours, stated the official, there are some apples on the table if you get hungry.  She sat on the plastic seat chained to the floor, and felt the impulse to grab her passport and make a run for it.  She created the scene in her mind; pummeling officials with apples, swinging plastic seats over her head, screaming, roundhouse kicking, and making a big ol’ ruckus.

Arms folded, she attempted a half-assed stomp in her slippery leather sandals.  It wasn’t even close to the effect she was looking for.  She despised everything about the room, and let the hatred spread to the officers, her boyfriend, her country, polluted waterways, GMOS, and politics.  Observing her surroundings, she couldn’t decide which she hated more; the watercolor Bob Marley wall-hanging or the Seeking Asylum? poster in 12 languages hanging beside it.

She was led to a tiny room by a young officer with crooked teeth and a deceptive smile.  He took out his smashed screen iPhone and touched ‘record’ on the voice recorder app.  This is what it is like to be a fugitive, she thought.  She had never been incarcerated before.  Will they arrest me? The new officer asked all the same questions in his syrupy sweet voice.  She carefully strung her story as before, trying to tell the truth whenever she could.

Improv wasn’t her forte, and her story didn’t make sense at all.  This officer obviously wasn’t buying it.  Her cheeks were red hot, and the more she struggled to explain the more entangled she became.  With no cracks to leak the guilt, she started to feel her own heart fill to capacity and sink.  Black ink swirled in her mind.  The black first held its ribbon of color, but soon, became the abyss.  All clarity was gone.  The space between her clavicles felt like it was badly bruised.  Her lower gut turned inside out, moaning and groaning.  Her body was twitchy, and as she swallowed the lump of regret that seemed stuck in her throat.

Eternities later, in the holding room, a thought bubbled to the surface of her mind: I’m a yoga instructor, I should breathe.  She settled into her seat, closed her eyes, inhaled deeply, and exhaled completely.  Heart beats slowed, breathing softened, as mind began to clear.  Clarity ensued; she started to see the reality of what was actually happening.  What am I doing? she thought.  Just tell the man the truth, you idiot!

The officer allowed her to make her confession, and thanked her afterwards.  She tearfully told him why she had lied, how it was a silly mistake.  His smile turned upside down as he spoke.  You lied to an immigration official and signed your name to it.  I have send you back to the US.

And so it goes, they deported her.  Not because she shouldn’t be in the UK, but because she lied.  She was stunned.  She managed a hopeful expression, and asked if there was anything else she could do?  The officer wasn’t smiling, so they both let the question slide into the sound of papers rustling, and disappear into silence.

As she awaited her return flight to Newark, her mind ran around in circles, like a dog tied to a tree, tongue-hanging, panting, and barking its ass off.  She felt ashamed.  What a waste of an entire grand of her hard-earned cash to sit on a plane and sob between strangers.  She felt embarrassed, terrible, horrible, no-good, and very-bad.
Somehow, it always surprised her when her luck went awry.  She often felt karma’s breath on her neck, keeping a close watch.  If not karma, then something.

A devious and curious creature peeked into her consciousness every so often and she was known to deny common sense and act spontaneously.  There was a time she forged the date on her eurail pass in attempts to extend her ticket, and boarded the wrong train in Italy and spent hours lost, confused, and backtracking.  Nothing is worse than backtracking.  Another time she lazily left her car windows open and someone snatched her computer.  Photos, memories, files… gone.  Poof.  Or the time she made fun of a friend for being overly cautious with his pack, what a traveling newbie she thought.  Moments later, her own wallet was swiped (by children in broad daylight.)  Each time she tried to cut corners the universe was there, delivering flat bicycle tires, disease scares, and addictive smoking habits to teach an important lesson.  She kept forgetting to remember.

The message was clear: don’t be a dick.  As the jersey-bound plane lifted off, inspirational quotes got her tears to slow down.  The gears began to unstick themselves.  The universe always delivers Everything happens for a reason.  What goes around comes around.  Be grateful you have legs.  Money is replaceable. She drew some deep, wavering breaths.

Alas, this emotional ambush came into focus.  She gathered her soul-diers to discuss strategy.  In a quiet voice she reminded them to stand tall, to breathe, to keep their eyes peeled for road signs on the ever-winding path, and most importantly to deeply investigate this poignant moment that stressed her to the point of irrational lying.

Hey melis, remember that time you got deported?  How funny was that? I’m sure I’ll be laughing like crazy, someday.  Oh, the idiotic things you do in your 20s.  Oh, the stupidity and grandeur of youth.

Dance Improv – My experience getting high on dance

10 Sep

Dance Improv – My experience getting high on dance

The church gymnasium was mostly empty.  Colored lights diffused to a dreamlike ambiance transforming a simple room into a place where anything can happen.  A few people milled about, stretching and sighing.  I couldn’t help but notice how comfortable they appeared in their own skin.  One by one, as more arrived, we formed a standing circle without being asked to.  Bob began to speak a well-rehearsed introduction to Dance Improv.  He instructed us to “take in a deep breath and let it out with a sound.”  A cacophonous roar filled the room.  Shoulders appeared a little more relaxed, and eyes looked bright with anticipation.

Bob led us through a getting-to-know-you-exercise.  One by one, we voiced our name and created a motion with our bodies, then the group echoed enthusiastically.  The movements seemed to tell me about these strangers.  Confident step forward with circling arms had a strong and assured personality.  Gentle swaying  motion with lowered-head in a serene smile was feeling peaceful.  Rapid clapping with nervous explosions of sound was excited and really needed to expend some energy.

Bob directed us to walk around the room to warm up our bodies.  Most of the group started clockwise, filing into step with each other like herded cattle.  Soon we found our individuality.  Some separated from the group, turning and walking erratically, some headed in the opposite direction, some stepped heavy, lightly, shuffled their feet, or circled their elbows, hips, and knees with great fervor.

As we walked we took a great big breath in and let out anger in the form of sound and movement.  It felt amazing so we did it twice more.  We then let out fear and sadness.  Authentic sounds of anguish, suffering, hiding, remorse, longing, and guilt permeated the air.  As we walked, it felt like we were creating a whirlpool for the emotions to collect and disperse into the night sky.  The doors were open wide, and the full moon grinned from behind the trees, seemingly digesting all our emotions and transforming them.  The last emotion we released was a big, round, bright, full, shimmering, explosion of joy.  The air was charged, my hands were buzzing as I bounded around the room, literally jumping for joy.

We each found a special comfy place to lie on the floor.  The band began a sweet steady cadence, which sneakily crept  from one rhythm to the next without intending to or realizing it.  We embodied this sound.  Some people laid still on the floor.  Others childishly rolled around with closed eyes.  Bob instructed us, “when you come in contact with another person, respectfully listen to what their body is saying.  It will be easy for us to feel whether that person wants to engage in a dance, or not.”  He requested that we let go of any remaining judgements on ourselves or anyone else.  We loosened the binds of being cool, normal, or politically correct, and presented ourselves with innocence and without restraints.

The music picked up, the singer’s strong vibrato felt like an emotional high tide.  We rose from the floor to standing.  Dancing happened effortlessly in pairs, in groups, and alone.  Bodies circled, bounced, stepped, spun, thrashed, leapt, crawled, and shook.  Some people told a story or expressed emotion with their movements, others made shapes with their bodies and experimented with space.  Without judgement we played, holding hands and spinning round, often mirroring each others movements.  We acknowledged each other with a nod, a smile, a gesture.  I learned that some of the greatest pleasures in life are to see and be seen, to hear and be heard.

My imagination was totally set free.  My body shrank into an 8-year-old version of myself, people around me became great oak trees and I twirled with them and around them.  Overwhelmed by fits of giggles, another dancer and I mimed our way through swimming and dancing in the rain, eating something from behind our backs which then possessed our tummies to dance a funny little dance, and playing hide and seek in the old-growth forest of other dancers.

Dripping with sweat, we laughed so hard, made silly sounds and movements, and connected with each other.  We danced around the room like maniacs.  Our bare feet pounded out rhythms while our hips gyrated, our shoulders shimmied, arms and legs became our visual and musical instruments.  We were a group of friends and strangers possessed by and embodying the music.  We spiraled into the void: a frenzy of emotions, thoughts, identities, and layers peeling off our wet skin like the outer layers from an onion.  Some eyes teared; we allowed them to.

We closed our evening standing in a circle, sweaty shoulders touching, cheeks flushed, some mouth corners upturned in little smiles.  One by one we gave our response to the evening.  Some spoke in sentences, others poetically fired rhythmic rhyming words.  We looked into the eyes of each person in sweet closure.  I was blissed out, flying high, immersed in sensation and existence.  I laughed at myself, as I was hardly able to find my car keys and flip flops.  The starry night greeted me warmly, while the waxing moon mimicked my same silly grin.

“FUN!  That was FUN!”  I thought in the car on the long drive home.  “I haven’t had that much fun in ages!”

To be fearless is to express yourself uninhibitedly and truthfully.  Expression through art, music, dance, and words leads to self discovery.  I recommend you try it..

Dance Improv Live
8-10 PM, Second Fridays of each month
All Saints’ Church, 16 All Saints’ Road, Princeton NJ

Speeding Through

2 Sep

Speeding Through

Deep within the jungle of my unconscious mind a long-limbed spider monkey swings from the rafters of a bamboo hut.  Fueled by frustration she erratically sways from one beam to the next.  Her fingers and tail powerfully grip the smooth bamboo poles.  Her graceful movements tell a story.  First soft and steady, syncopated rhythms resound.  Without notice, she accelerates, becomes flailing, vicious, and violent.  She embodies the chaos of the spinning swirling infinite abyss, hands feet and tail blindly reaching for anything solid, teeth bared, voice wavering between shrieking and screaming.

She realizes she isn’t alone.  She focuses her frenzied assault.  Open hands become fists, tail becomes a whip, feet become cannon balls.  Every swing is a hold-your-breath-you-just-might-make-it… miss.  Spinning round and round this round bamboo room, whirlpooling the air, unable to leave, unable to breathe.  Her screams pierce the air.  In time they are reduced to hoarse grumbles.  The sheer effort is too much, she tires quickly.  Her movements falter, she moves as if through jello, thoroughly exhausted.  She finds stillness, cries, slumps into a pile of defeated furry limbs and tears.

This monkey isn’t real, you know.  She’s just a figment of my dream-self.  She embodies how I dealt with that heartache, I owe her my happiness.  Up until she came to me in a dream, I had different ways of dealing with pain.  I would curl in the kitchen cabinets when the monster was after me.  I would spend all night running away, hiding away, unaware that there was another option.
My monkey spirit taught me well.  She told me to speed through the hurt.  Accelerate.  Cry all the tears as they come, speak the words with the thoughts, move my body whenever and however it needed.  Dance it out.  Kick and scream, just like the toddlers do.  Have a tantrum, fully exhaust myself, and then fully surrender.  (Just like yoga class.)  The calm after the storm was buzzing with awareness and new realizations.

Inner wisdom whispered her secrets during those quiet dewy mornings.  Acceptance met my acquaintance, jealousy and fear left the building.  I embraced the hurt, I accepted it, and I learned that speeding through the dark allows me to live in the light.

And in the light is where I plan to stay.

Come, yet again…

16 Aug

Come, yet again…

Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow a hundred times.
Come, yet again, come, come.

– Rumi

My Great American Juice Fast

14 Aug

My Great American Juice Fast

If you know me at all, you know I have major emotional connections to the food I eat. The plethora of books available about “What to eat” and “How to eat” tells me that many other people struggle with food, too. In the past, if I was feeling bad, sad, mad or just something didn’t feel right… I’d end up munching, crunching, ‘secret eating’.. filling the uncertainty of the void for a very obvious cover-up bodily sensation; a tummyache.

Over the years I’ve observed friends, family, and strangers with similar habits. The results of stuffing face tends to be gaining weight (surprise), low self esteem, pessimism, being secretive, crappy health, yucky skin, depression, lack of motivation, increased hunger, less satisfaction, and no zest for life. I’ve watched myself rise and fall on the waves of life, often experiencing these results of stuffing face, and stuffing emotions too.

Fasting, detoxing, cleansing, yes I’ve tried it before. I’ve experimented with the Master Cleanse, every six months for years and years and years.   The effects were always strong; lose a couple of pounds, days of introspection, more time, less preparing and cleaning after meals, and many days of feeling great.  Last year I tried an Alkaline Detox Diet consisting of no spices or salt and a very specific meal plan of some cooked and some raw veggies and fruit.  The results were moderate; since I was still eating solid foods it was difficult to keep my mind off condiments that would enhance the flavor of the veg.   I missed sriracha.

I believe moderation (in moderation) is key.  Better to give yourself what you need to be healthy and happy.. whatever you need whenever you need it.  After watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, a documentary about juicing, I’m feeling inspired to give my body what it wants and needs.  I currently want and need: healing, micronutrients, hydration, better liver function, less hormonal overload, more energy, the possibility of clear skin, and the satisfaction of completing something.

I found a juicer on craigslist for FREE… the universe always delivers!  Coincidence?  Probably.  Will I be happier, healthier, healed, and detoxed in another week?  I hope so.

Has anybody else every done a juice fast?  Tell me how it went… and wish me luck!

Day One:

celery, carrots, tomato, watermelon, cantaloupe, alfalfa sprouts, lemon, apples, cucumber, cabbage, lettuce

Day Two:

beets, apples, celery, cucumber, ginger, kale

Day Three:

tomatoes, celery, cucumber, lemon, spinach, apple, carrot

Day Four:

Day Five:

Day Six:

What remains?

1 Aug

What remains?
For years I’ve been using my mother’s suburban house, as many people do, as a jumping-off point for travel endeavors.  Returning home isn’t easy.  Sure, there are free hot showers, people speaking the same language as me (although it often doesn’t feel like that), friends to laugh with, and family to squeeze and smooch.  But, I’m also bombarded by a plethora of memories.
Attempts to be ‘in the moment’ dissolve into time travel as I sift through the remains of my youth.  I uncover bits of love letters, aged photos, broken gifts, and tatty jewelry that were hidden from sight under the furthermost corner of my bed.  My face reflects associated emotions with raised eyebrows, a half grin, a quiet chuckle, a quivering chin.  A sudden case of the ‘shoulda-coulda-wouldas’ looms darkly overhead.  I read the letters, swoon over the photos, finger the gifts and jewelry as if they’ve just been resurrected from an ancient forgotten treasure chest.  Old emotions run their course, steadily lapping in and out of my consciousness.  As my mind clouds, I lose the task at hand (clean out old shit) and begin fantasizing about how my life could have been different.
…If I stayed in that relationship I’d have kids by now, and probably a nice house, dogs, in-laws over for Sunday dinner.  I could have taken that job.  I’d be enjoying health insurance, a retirement, a 401k!  I should have just looked harder, tried this, or that… I would have established myself.  I would have made something of myself.  I would have a ‘real life’…

This is dangerous territory, bordering on depression and regret.  Scenarios present themselves, current situations appear shallow and unsatisfying, and suddenly, nothing I’ve done can live up to my own mind’s adolescent fantasies.
The disappointment strikes in a panic; I start to re-evaluate life.  Gut-clenched I rush off to the computer, put the words together, make sentences, and make sense of these emotions.  The full moon peeks out from behind a cloud.  It dares not blink.  Tides are high.  The typed letters flow like water, like breath, rolling a steady cadence into linear existence and back again.
I write because I’m so alone I crave an imaginary audience to share this scary space with.  I feel alone because I separate myself from my friends and family to experience more of the world.  I travel because keeping up pace here feels like running on a hamster wheel, sometimes monotonous, and over-crowded with familiarity.  I compulsively leave this place because travel makes my guts smile, makes my smiles sing, makes my songs impassioned, makes my passion ignite.  I want experiences that are bright, fresh, untainted, new, clean, beautiful.  I’m full of emotion because this room, in this house, doesn’t feel any of those words.  Got to let go.

The stirred up dust settles on two full garbage bags and leaning stacks of things to donate.  Graveyards of memories.  A final glance lingers.  My mind asks questions.  Will I regret it?  Will I want to go back to those memories, mourn again what was lost, pry myself from presence to float in fantasy of what can never manifest?  Maybe.  But it’s too late, now.  The stuff is gone, the clouds are lifting, and the room feels as spacious as a clear night sky.
I won’t catch my bus if I’m stuck crying beside memory tombstones, and I couldn’t really breathe with all that emotional baggage weighing me down.  This torturous act of clearing leaves me to experience what remains.
What remains?  The space to stretch, time to enjoy, and freedom to breathe.

All Rivers at Once – Rumi

29 Apr

All Rivers at Once – Rumi

Don’t unstring the bow.
I am your four-feathered arrow
that has not been used yet.

I am a strong knifeblade word,
not some if or maybe,
dissolving in air.

I am sunlight slicing the dark.
Who made this night?
A forge deep in the earth-mud.

What is the body?

What is love?

What is hidden
in our chests?

What else?

Let the beloved be a hat pulled down firmly on my head.
Or drawstrings pulled and tied around my chest.

Someone asks, How does love have hands and feet?
Love is the sprouting bed for hands and feet!

Your father and mother were playing love games.
They came together, and you appeared!

Don’t ask what love can make or do!
Look at the colors of the world.

The riverwater moving in all rivers at once.

Pachamama – Sweat

10 Apr

Pachamama – Sweat

A massive ceremonial fire bathes in the sunlight of this riverside land.  Now at the height of the dry season, the river is just a mess of smooth stones, teasing us with the possibility of cool fresh relief.  Two round, wide wooden frames sit beside the fire, low to the ground, and bound with red cloth and string.  These skeletons of the lodges are wrapped in long white canvas strips, separating inside from outside, creating a sacred space.  The womb of the earth.

Ash silently spirals in the wind like snowflakes, flurrying and fluttering.  The air is breezy; shade is a welcome solace from the blazing heat of sun and fire combined.  A moon-shaped altar of stones and sage, young mango trees, and aloe vera is decorated in fuchsia, golden, sunset, and blazing yellow flowers, enlivening the senses through both sight and smell.  Ylang ylang fills the air.

Men wrapped in sarongs carry wood and tend to the fire.  Women donning loose cotton dresses embroidered with brightly colored flowers prepare the ground, sweeping and tidying the earth and altars.  As more people arrive, joyous smiles are seen all around.  We are little ants, marching to and fro, hugging hello, tending to things, chitting and chatting.

Smudged, cleansed with smoke and a prayer, our bodies are prepared for entering the ‘temascal,’ the sweat lodge.  Women then men bow and enter clockwise. We rest our bones on the clay earth, heads bowed.  Cups of bittersweet tea are passed around before the call ‘Ometeo!’ meaning two energies. Grandmother and grandfather firestones are welcomed.  Sweetgrass and cedar sprinkled on the glowing rocks emit a blissful scent; we waft the smoke over our heads and across our skin.

The sweat drum and maracas enter the lodge.  A big silver pot of water splashes playfully as it is touched to the stones.  We call ‘agua de vida’ and begin.  We sing, breathe, cry out, hum, and pray.  Crsssh!  Splashes of water sizzle and steam as they make contact with the hot stones.  It becomes difficult to see, to breathe.  We start sucking air as if through a straw, leaning down to the earth for a gasp of non-burning oxygen. Struggling between sensation and surrender, the intensity of the steam takes us beyond ourselves.  Chants get more powerful, prayers are called, and sound spirals and weaves between the magnetic fields of our bodies and the elements.  Earth, fire, water, and air combine.  We sit atop a tangled web laid in the shape of an intricate mandala, necks straining to hit high notes, sweat dripping into our eyes, bodies shaking and rocking within the tribal rhythm.  The sound stops abruptly and we pause.  The air is thick and buzzing.  My trembling hands can sense the energy; sunlight glowing through the canvas takes us into a new dimension.

We connect through sound.  Slimy muddy bodies lean on each other for support, an expression of gratitude to this experience and existence itself.  The closing OMs become a wave as wide and vast as the ocean.  Our voices blend together in peaceful harmony, and slowly fade to silence.  We cheer, “Ometeo… puerta!” The canvas door  sweeps open and a cool breeze rushes over our reddened skin.  We close our eyes and breathe deeply in relief. Slowly, our hands and knees bless mother earth as we crawl towards daylight, leaving only handprints behind.