Cindy-Lou Who?

Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, December 23, 2012

Michelle Curry Wright: Are you kidding, I’m thrilled you called me! But, I mean, wow. Cindy Lou Who.  Just. So. Surprised.

Cindy Lou Who: I’ve never given an interview — not in years and years; and back then it was, you know, the local Whoville press wondering how I liked being a star. Fifty five years later, I’m done. Done with being two.  You’re in your fifties — I figured you might understand.

MCW: Yes. Yes, of course.

CLW: And also – with the house burning down to the ground and all… [sighs]  I thought, why not just come clean and start fresh.

MCW: The house that was–

CLW: Yes, the house in the book. Our house. The first one the Grinch visits.  On page 49 of the Whoville Historic Registry.

MCW: You lived there all these years?

CLW: Yes. But it’s not uncommon for entire Who families simply to add on to their parents and grandparents homes. I never did marry, though.  And with mom and dad both gone and now the fire… well, everything is crazy again. [pauses] Only this time I’m not drinking.

MCW:  Whos drink?

CLW: Um, yeah? You thought we didn’t have bad habits? Dr. Seuss created our Who-topia, but he didn’t deny us free will.  No good writer does that. I’ve been sober eleven years two months and three days.  Very proud of that. And grateful to my sponsor.

MCW: I feel like I should just let you talk instead of interviewing. What do I know, anyway?

CLW: [pauses] I like the questions, actually, and hearing your voice.  I do want people to consider how much their collective belief over the years has affected me, though, and you probably weren’t about to ask that question. I mean yes, I am two in the book and in the TV show, and two every time it’s read or watched. But things unfold. Lives happen. We don’t hold hands and sing in a big circle anymore, for instance.

MCW: [stupefied by this] You mean, no “Fah who foraze, Dah who dor-“

CLW: [plugs her ears] Stop it! We haven’t done that since Grinch died.

MCW: The Grinch… died?

CLW: In ‘97. Got an official Whoville burial on account of his being mayor for three terms, then running the Pudding Kitchen as if he were on a mission from god.

MCW: The Pudding Kitchen?

CLW: The Who-Pudding Kitchen for the Poor, Tired and Huddled.  Who pudding seems to bring everyone back to their senses —  at least temporarily. Rich, [reminiscing], comforting, nutritious. Buttery vanilla, but not too sweet.

MCW:  Mmmm.

CLW: We’ve even learned to make it with coconut milk now.

MCW: But. I mean, Whos still do the whole Christmas thing, right? Nobody can stop it from coming, like it says in the book.

CLW: Oh it comes, the little ones make sure of that. Grinch would always see to it the Whoville lights were better than the year before. [pauses to reflect] You know, the color completely drained from him when he passed. His fur turned pure white all at once. Like Christmas snow. [sharply taking a breath in]

MCW: You were close, obviously.

CLW: Uh, more than close. Another part of the story no one out there knows. Even here, it was like, “How can you love a Grinch?” and “He’s not one of us, Cin.” But he was more one of us than we were. [openly crying] You know? I mean I’m sure for him I represented his heart opening and all the goodness he made himself available to receive after our seminal first meeting. For me, he was just… all the sweeter for having been gruff. Plus he actually wooed me.  Or Whoed me, as we say here.

MCW:  [swallows, says sadly] Wow. I mean, who knew?

CLW: This Who knew. [giggles once] Anywho, I feel lighter. Thank you.

MCW: I didn’t do much except listen.

CLW: Which I needed … You know in Whoville in the spring, the electric blue and yellow flowers we call Turleegluts bloom all at once and last a single day. We celebrate new life and practice gratitude for all the things we have. I don’t know why this comes to mind now. But it’s as if they all wake up together, and then decide that one perfect moment is worth a lifetime. It’s a beautiful thing. A beautiful thing. [laughs like pealing bells, then sighs] Anyway. Merry Christmas to you. Thanks for picking up the phone – from a blocked number.

MCW: Merry Christmas to you, Cindy Lou Who. One never knows who might be calling.

CLW: Nope. One never does.


Christmas tattoo

Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dear Santa,

It’s three in the morning, if that tells you anything.

I’ve tried every one of my sleep remedies except the self-hypnosis CD, which… well, too bad you can’t just slap it in and let someone lull you down, but you have to learn the routine and I haven’t gotten there yet. Generally, I start with a passionflower tincture. Then if that doesn’t work, a valerian cap.  Then Calms-Forte. Then I go into deep breathing and shoulder dropping and relaxing my eyeballs out of that text-reading position and into the far-horizon one, as if staring out over snow or sand or spume just as far as closed eyes can see.

My last resort is always the same: I tell myself that sleep doesn’t matter that much, so it doesn’t really matter if you don’t get enough of it some nights. Eventually, though, human beings do need rest and rapid eye movements; so, then, I think briefly about tossing back half a Valium with a squirt of St. John’s wort… but generally don’t. Tonight, as the stars throb and gleam in their deep vacuum of space, I’m writing you instead.

You’d think I was asking for sleep for Christmas or something, after all that! Seems a bit rude to me — like asking for a blindfold during the Nutcracker of life. But, yes, on a side note, if you can slip me some fairy dust every once in a while to knock me out, I’d be grateful. Oh, and more dreams like that recent one where Richard Gere has a note delivered to me (with a key in a Ziploc) about meeting him at Hotel Valencia for the one night he’ll be there. Gosh, that might be all I ever need, really.  Next time, I’d like not to wake up in the middle of furiously texting him back from the Thunderdome. As a matter of face, let’s eliminate the Thunderdome completely, however much I like the idea of Richard Gere in my post-apocalyptic world.

Anyway, you know this, of course, about my childhood: three in the morning is about the time, on Christmas eve, that I would pop awake for a brief spell and pad down to see if the cookies and milk I’d set out for you were gone. At the same time, it was as if my whole head was sprouting ears – instant chia seed antennae — for hearing even the faintest, most distant and mellifluous sound of your sleigh bells. Ching, ching, ching.

All those years dreaming of a cheerful ribbon of northern lights, reindeer air-galloping, pulling your mysterious Swedish-fish-and-loaves, ever replenishing version of a sled, loaded down with every conceivable elf-made toy, from Twister to Creepy Crawlers and Picadoo, two coveted items you would have had to have been around in the 60s to appreciate. Consisting of little aluminum molds out of which were made spiders and quilt-like squares with something called Plastigoop. From Mattel. We cooked plastic in aluminum squares, without ventilation, for fun. And you let us!

In those years of waking up to a black sky and imagining a rainbow of sparkle hoof prints and sleigh contrails so vividly, it was like a permanent swipe had been tattooed across my heart. A banner reading, “Believe or die.”

Naturally, it was the anticipation of Christmas I internalized – sealed with carols, and cookies, and crafts, and the smell of pine — this idea that normal life had been suspended and compressed into a five-sense present moment. In the waiting-hoping place, everything was, on a quantum level, different in my brain and heart. Like glass, it was neither liquid nor solid but some soft, sweet, stretchy, magnanimous in-between state. One of possibility.

What is this place, where anticipation has not yet allowed expectation to turn it from sweet cream to sour milk?  Where hope floats instead of blindly groping for the life ring? Where the plasticity of our faculties and talents — and of life itself — become self-evident, like Silly Putty in our hands?

Whatever it is, can you pipe in a little from my childhood this Christmas?  Just get me started. Let me jump on the trampoline of make-believe and bounce until I’m high enough to feel that moment of suspension, that sustained moment where everything – absolutely everything — of great importance happens.

Fifty Shades of Pink – Censored!

SPOOF NOT PUBLISHED, Sunday, December 2, 2012

“When you split the hard fruit open, a mass of red seeds in a spongy white membrane is revealed. Only the seeds, with their sweet-tart flavor and juice squirting texture, are edible.” Product description, Garden of Eden

Isabella leans up from the sink, face flushed, pink juice dripping down her quivering chin – and then reluctantly tears herself from the rind of the seeded apple. Her knees are weak.

Eating her first pomegranate of the season, there is that familiar but Oh-my fresh thrilling, the headiness no other fruit can induce in her. She is hot, even in the cold of the midnight kitchen, because, yes, she is eating her initiatory pomegranate at midnight on a Tuesday in December because the full moon has wreaked its raging havoc upon the veils of her inner goddess, the goddess that is hungry, thirsty, and perpetually unsatisfied… and yet, also veiled.

Other seeded orbs are hidden safely away in the refrigerator for another day: will she tame them or will they tame her? She gasps. She does not know why, it just happens. The words “submission” comes to mind, again for no apparent reason. Can a piece of fruit have such power?

With stained and trembling hands, she finds the hard knob of the faucet and turns it on, letting the water gush, and then slowly washes the sweet, sticky remains from her face. A moonbeam shines in through the small kitchen window, hitting her obliquely at the nape of her neck and then down her extended arms –and she pauses, thoughtful, bitter seeds stuck in her back teeth like flies in a screen porch door in the dead of summer. Seasons are interchangeable. Time has stopped. Only the beat of her heart keeps time, moving her forward and through the excruciatingly sublime present wherein she is captive to her senses.

Is there any other fruit but this one?

There was! Just a few days ago, there was  — she’d even told someone at the grocery store that plums were and had always been her favorite fruit, had always given her just what nourishment was needed. Who was it she was talking to, again?  Oh. That skinny man-boy picking the wrong cantaloupe. In the plaid shirt and glasses, with tousled auburn hair, storm blue eyes, high cheek bones and white teeth.

“Please,” she’d stopped him brazenly, holding the cantaloupe down on the pile by placing her hand on his. “You mustn’t.” The melon wasn’t nearly ripe, surely not ready to be sliced open and de-seeded by his amateur hands. He’d released the cantaloupe-colored globe and stared at her, and then at the plums from South America in her basket.

At the bidding of her domineering and sometimes bossy inner goddess, she had gushed on about plums and their sweet fleshy insides, their tart, taut skins. Plums with their ridiculous jewel tones, their meaty cores clinging to rough pits. Plaid boy had blushed deeply and then moved toward the pyramid of said fruit in close proximity, looking back at her as she nodded him closer and closer to them, urging him on.

That was then. This is now. Now it is winter and punica granatum, an early native to Persia and fortuitously brought to California in 1879, is all Isabella can think of, its arils, bead-like, translucent, and plump. Her fingers have just extracted –tenderly, greedily — its pink pearls of love.

Suddenly, she notices a portion of the pomegranate that she senses has not been fully picked clean and reaches hungrily for it. Pulling back the white flesh, she gropes for treasure until, finally, she hears the plink of a stray granule hitting the steel of the sink. She picks it up, lays it on her tongue, and then maneuvers it between her teeth, bearing down until she pierces the flesh, and then lets it burst in her mouth, finally cracking the astringent seed. Exquisite torture, sweet going to bitter and bitter back to sweet. The drop of liquid nectar releases into her throat. She swoons and her inner goddess swoons even more, swoons so much she melts into her veils and disappears in a purple puff of liquid smoke.

It is bedtime, and Isabella, spent, tiptoes up the stairs in her bare feet, lit candle in hand. Though the pomegranate has left its indelible marks — tiny specks of crimson flecked on her nightshirt, red under her nails, pink rimming her lips — when she wakes up, will she remember her romp in the night, her silent tryst, her tête-à-tête with the red head of the seeded apple under the opalescent light of the Beaver moon? Or will she, wandering about through the starker light of day, merely sense that something terribly sweet and juicy has happened in the night?


Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, November 18, 2012

Just recently, I see a saying I like from a post on Facebook or Instragram or Pinterest, I forget which one because I try to forget because I’d prefer to have picked it up old school, like from a fortune cookie or out of a book I’m flipping through in the library or, better yet, from a handwritten snippet someone has left in a book about honeybees, say, or the Lewis and Clark expedition.It is the kind of saying one thinks about while stirring oatmeal, or writes on the blackboard of ones mind during the afterschool of one’s day, so that one can internalize it, so that one can live the words rather than just curtsying politely to them.

A quick Google gives me the original and superior epithet, another little biscuit tossed to us school children by Albert Einstein, and because I sense that his original words, too, will have been used on T-shirts and posters and posts and paraphrased and pithed in different but equally dumbed down ways, I find myself at the online Yoda-Speak Generator I’m so very fond of. Because with the exotic flourish of a fictional extraterrestrial from an unnamed world, cannot the oft-said sound new again? Worth a try.

“Only two ways to live your life, there are. Miracle, one is as though nothing is. Miracle, the other is as though everything is.”


So: What if, one day, while you are looking at Persian rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, staring at textiles so fine your skin melts, you suddenly hear these two-ways-to-live-your-life words as if for the very first time? Your immune system, fueled by revelation, screams out in health, as you and your neuropeptides parse out the sentiment: that for one thing, it is a miracle you are here at all, let alone on a bench, in an unpeopled area of an unbelievable structure containing all of history, and staring at walls dripping with irresistible wool finery from another juicy slice of time and another quadrant of the globe.Maybe it’s the softly hypnotic dripping water from a nearby fountain, but, wow, all of a sudden, yes, you feel the force of Yoda-stein’s words: “Miracle, the other is as though everything is.” It starts with rugs, but it explodes, fireworking everywhere — just everywhere.

In a flash, you see the brilliance of artists and scientists walking down their soft red carpets of talent, and then you see the 10,000 other shades of red encountered every day, from the rims of eyes to the insides of ripe figs to blushing cheeks to pomegranates and to cinders that glow crimson with heat. And then you see flames licking up with cores of flint-like blue, flames like the one in the candle you light on your wooden table, the one heaped with bounty and attended by friends, the multifarious people who miraculously stand by you when you are way down or up again or everywhere in between.

Have you counted them lately, these snowflake dears whose crystalline mind-hearts hold you so close? Who have, to some extent created the filigree in your own design, the one having nothing at all to do with ego or vanity or pride but with the person you have become including the one who can at the very least and with some measure of humility start to sense the importance of Miracle/No miracle and the nature of choice?

And beyond the scope of the ridiculously abundant world you live in, where you are warm as toast even on the coldest and darkest January day, where jagged peaks tower above you, thrumming out their deep-rock vibrations, and topped, depending on the season, with green or white velvets, where ice forms and then melts and spills down the mountainsides forming rivers that nourish the body of Earth like veins and arteries, beyond the absurdity of wealth nature rapid fires at us every day with its sky-shows and wind-howls and beetles bravely putting one foot in front of the other on the pavement of a lonely road —

And what if, beyond all this, even, is the miracle of everyday-ness. Where you are here. In the present moment, staring out of a double-paned window in your house at the tines of bare branches, gray and white and dun colored, and at a small ordinary bird perched on one of its twigs. The light is watery and wintry and extremely tender and time stands still, still enough for you fathom, for a brief and glorious moment, the billions of details, like diamonds in the night sky, that you now have in your coffers should you choose to look around.

Then, what if you chose to look around?

Worthy of you and Yoda and Einstein and Tiny Tim, that, my friends, would be.


Telluride Daily Planet Sunday, November 4, 2012

I believe I am the one who initially sees potential sparks between the Pocahontas and Batman figurines. My daughter Celine, 6 at the time, giggles at the idea. Batman is so flex-jointed, inaccessible and dark. Pocahontas is so … half-naked.

Even so, she stares at the two plastic figures and then places them side-by-side on the bathtub ledge, testing the idea, then fully engrossed by it, as if I have disappeared completely.

Conscious of the fact that the figurines have much to do at bath time, I excuse myself to fold laundry. Then passing through again with a stack of towels, I note the two have not yet parted. In fact, Pocahontas is lying down with Batman seated very close beside her. Though she does not bend, he seems completely oblivious to this structural handicap.

Three bath sessions later, Batman, fully engaged in male mating rituals, is showing off — out-bouncing Tigger, punching out Aladdin and swimming effortlessly past Gumby and Goo in order to get to the still sparsely clad and now teasing Pocahontas. Yes, they certainly are an unlikely pair. The troubled man-bat and the tree-hugging free spirit.

No set rules govern these figurines, a collection that generates itself spontaneously over the years from thrift stores, hand-me downs and playgrounds leftovers. All of them are simply tossed into the bucket for assimilation. Then, at bath time, when an unfamiliar figure first appears in the mix, the protocol requires that he/she/it stand apart for a while.

It takes Batman three months to get a speaking part.

As for Incredible Hulk, even long sessions of meek loitering at the outskirts aren’t enough: Will he ever be anything other than an object of derision for all of them, from Snow White to Bambi?

Sometimes, I feel compelled to ask questions. “What’s the matter with the Tonka Swan — you don’t like him?” The answer is either part of a complex story (“He’s being punished for making Belle fall down the cliff.”) or scathingly pragmatic (“His wings don’t flap right and he tips in the water.”)

Several weeks later, as Pocahontas and Batman scuba dive together near the currents of the gushing faucet, I wonder about Pocahontas barefoot in Gotham City and Batman’s mood in a buffalo cape. I shouldn’t worry so much. After all, at the moment, Eyeore is deep in a huddle with a one-inch blue barnyard cow and a motocross survivalist in camouflage.

Soon, it is all and only about Pocahontas and Batman. In secret, Celine applies lipstick (red nail polish) to the blossoming girl-woman. Batman is utterly lost to love. One propitious day, all the figurines, even Hulk, have been neatly lined up on the edge of the tub in procession behind the couple.

“What’s going on?” I ask, noting the young squaw’s lips with alarm. The behavior has become all too familiar.

“They’re getting married,” Celine says smiling, unable not to appreciate the whimsy. “Bat and Po.”

“You’ve never had a marriage in the tub before,” I say.

“They’re in love,” she answers wearily, as if the whole episode is preordained — like a star — to burn bright and then die. “Well,” she stalls the real action, fiddling with Piglet and a rider-less metal black stallion she calls Maiden (for the Made in England stamped on the bottom), “You can go read or something. I’m fine in here.”

Deferring, I withdraw until I hear her humming a little tune, sometimes the signal that she has moved on to hair washing. But when I return to help her rinse, a diminutive sheath of black hair — Pocahontas’s butt-length locks — have been shorn off and lie scattered on the bathroom floor

In seconds, the mocha-skinned cover girl has become something from Clan of the Cave Bear. Horrorstruck, I wonder what test this is, what desperate act in what dysfunctional scenario.

“Mommy!” Celine sees the look on my face. “It’s OK!” She starts to laugh as I reexamine the new do, choppy and uneven, with hair-plugs poking through. “Why did you do this?” It is funny as hell, though, and I stifle a snort.

Celine, holding Po like a lollypop, admires her deft handiwork with the kid scissors. “Her hair was bothering her,” she says finally, dipping the doll’s head into the water, trying to smooth the jagged spikes of nylon down.

It’s not long after the wedding that Celine stops playing with her motley bathtub crew. She’s already started collecting Playmobil, and the “doll house people” are strictly segregated, mingle only amongst themselves. Soon after that, she goes to Beanie Babies, whose world is equally hermitic and uniform. Then finally the Lego people come, alarmingly xenophobic, almost military in word and deed.

Though their stories become much more complex, the wildcard of the interloper from the strange land is gone for good. And I, for one, still miss the excitement.

Field trip with elevator

Telluride Daily Planet,  Sunday, October 21, 2012

Circa 1972, my father decides that the three of us (my mom and I — the rest in college) are going on a field trip to visit a wheat farming family in eastern Washington. He has read of an exchange program and wants to go since he has always dreamed of farming. We guess. He never says why, he just says it will be beneficial and we’re going. Eventually this farming couple will come and stay with us and learn about Seattle and our lives (what on Earth will they learn?).
It’s important to note that we are not a family that goes on field trips or vacations. Yes, there are a few summers we borrow a friend’s cabin on Orcas Island (heavenly). And there’s a recent trip back to France when dad wants to save money so we go military standby up to Alaska where we have to wait two days to get on a flight east on a cargo plane carrying about 200 wounded veterans — before another long delay to Frankfurt. The trip later becomes known to me as the Silverberg trip because of the science fiction novel my mother unknowingly buys me, the sex scenes of which are so graphic, I am staring into space much of that trip. Because I really have no idea.

Now, in the back seat of the ‘66 Cutlass (the same car I drove into Telluride in ‘84), presumably in my light blue jersey pantsuit, the one with a belted zip-up top and bellbottoms, my father is presumably expounding on his favorite topics. The corruption of large pharmaceutical companies. The problem with the Federal Reserve Bank. He is way ahead of his time on certain themes.

This wheat farm is some gigantic number of acres (40,000? 100,000?) and is family owned and run by a very warm couple getting on in years. Everything on the spread is tidy and clean, which is one reason it instantly appeals to my father. These are obviously people with straightforward morals that have to do with there being a right way and a wrong way for doing everything, and if god is in their equation somewhere, well, dad forgives this because of the orderly and productive look of their land. Because although he marries a Catholic, dad is a scientist. Not a Christian one, just a scientist. Not by vocation, but by spiritual inclination.

At breakfast, the difference in lifestyle hits me. One daughter, the one in nursing school, comes home in the summer to be the staff cook. The means she sets her alarm for 3:30 a.m. to make breakfast, which is served at 6, which includes of a platter of steaks, bacon, eggs, and homemade, yeasted white rolls. A platter of steaks? I cannot believe I am stabbing at one with a fork and slamming it on my plate at the crack of dawn. With two more of these meals to go in a 24-hour period, it’s obvious why she’d need to ditch the family business for the relative cakewalk of being a nurse.

Then us city folk tour the barns, learn about the combines, about how farmers like these survive through government subsidies, about fears of losing their farms and taxes that are eating them alive. About weather that is uncontrollable and potentially devastating. Then, watching the sky grow dark with clouds, I start to like this field trip. The endless, rolling fields of ripening wheat stir me. How do they do all this, I wonder, and who has taught them?

We are told one of the hands will give us a silo tour and so we get into his truck. He’s probably 18 or 19, faded jeans, white T-shirt, and quiet, but only on the outside. Personally, I can’t take my eyes off him — until we get into the elevator and he faces us, and my eyes drop. When he throws the lever and the gears grind us upwards, I start to feel something … something Silverberg. Whatever he is sending out permeates the small space and by the time the elevator arcs to an abrupt halt I am a converted and willing claustrophobe.

Dad talks the mechanics of the big heap of yellow wheat with the cool farmhand whose heat is scorching me. Stepping out of the grain silo, boy-man catches my eye and locks on me for a split second. What is this field trip about again?

Now, at 6 a.m. in the present day in the San Juan Mountains, I am outside on the gravel drive, facing east as Venus blazes in the sky like a beacon while elk bugle their pan flutes just a stone’s throw away in the nearby forest. The air, alive, stirs me.

Life is full of field trips, is it not? Every day, sometimes every hour. One just has to be open to what they might really be about.

Tall Grasses Meditation

Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lie outside in a field of tall autumnal grass anywhere you can find one – or in the grasses of your mind’s eye. Dip yourself down into the pale yellow almost white stalk color that pits itself so perfectly against the blue-gray of a blustery October sky.

You are flat, deeply hidden by grasses — hidden to everything but the sky’s clouds and the birds of prey. In that fleece hoodie you know will pick up lots of bits of earth. Oh, so what. The sun peeks out – so hot on your sternum for a few solid moments — and you whip your top off.  Skin on grass.

Breathe. Which your Boggle-playing brain suddenly realizes can be rearranged into be heart. Yes, be Heart. Be Body, be Breath. Just don’t be Mind for a second…. But don’t really mind if you’re Mind because that would be resisting and you shouldn’t resist so much.  Can you really help it, though? Accepting resistance probably is that first step, just like it says in the book you keep reading, the one bookmarked with a pair of glasses. Because now you wear glasses.

Thought bubbles, be gone! Clear the throat of your mind! Try to forget about metaphors in the micro-spaces between thoughts. Have faith that in these micro-spaces reside both lightning and peace. Huh? Sighing deeply, you wonder if sighing can be classified as some kind of rudimentary meditative breath. That even dogs know how to do.

Now: be limp, heavy, and soft against this planet called Earth that has a magnetic core of 10,000-degree iron and nickel. Our globe, hung third, green, and watery in a clockwork solar system filled with ellipses and forces mysterious to you. How many millions of ellipses are there winging things around out there where energy and matter converge into mathematics and music and order? Are there right angles in the heavens? In dreamy wonderment, breathe your sternum up to the sky, then exhale to the magnetic center of the earth. Evaporate up, melt down.

The pokiness of the grasses prickles your naked back. Is it really uncomfortable — or just different? Think of acupuncture needles of grass. Breathe in and feel chi moving in your back, and then breathe further into it like your favorite body-worker tells you to. All those back ribs you forget everyday. When was the last time you thought of these ribs opening up like… well, like wings? We are so front-centered as walkers and talkers and takers. Breathe in through the eyes of your latissimus dorsi and meet the moment this way. Backwards. You know?

On the next outbreath, let everything you’ve hauled up to the field — dross packed into the deep grooves of grey matter – go. Including stress about not having taken enough bike rides this summer or made that apricot-lavender jam that tastes like the south of France.  That your cat is lonely and even more neurotic with your daughter gone. Or the fact that you still can’t communicate so brilliantly well in a relationship. Open your eyes to a slit, and let the sun filter in through your eyelashes — where all those mites live. Be compassionate towards yourself, which includes the mites.

In a little TongLen meditation, breathe in suffering Mind from all over, including the mind of humans but also of mites and screech owls and those cold-weather Japanese monkeys that hang out in hot springs. Your outbreath, a sweet beacon of Mind healing itself all around, is steam rising from hot springs. For an extended microsecond, words actually fall away, maybe from just thinking about that pool of hot water.

Suddenly, through your eye-slits, you note sparkles to the left and you turn your head slowly, very slowly, with all the time in the world. From a nearby aspen stand, a slurry of glistering yellow leaves has lifted, as if pulled upward by some sacred geometry of threads. They move like a flock of birds. Like a school of fickle goldfish. Finally peaking and reaching their utmost height, breath holds itself — and then the leaves fall, weightless coins of deep yellow, of ripe lemon, of straw, ochre, butter, and black-eyed Susan showering down to Earth. They are actual pieces of the sun, captured. Drifting toward you.

The wind, accompanied by its gentle and rustling soundtrack, licks your body and then kindly drops a few leaves onto your chest. One lands on your forehead. For a moment, touched by a yellow so deep it heals, you are one with autumn fire and wind. And, with 360 degrees of ribs opening, you breathe in what’s left of warmth and lock it in the soft cage of your heart.