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Monkey business

Happy Lunar and Chinese New Year. 2016 is the year of the Fire Monkey.

Chinese new year greeting card with monkey

And now, for some monkey business.

Happy Lunar and Chinese New Year — Year of the Fire Monkey.

For a more enligthening post, check out Willym’s interesting bits and trivia about the Gregorian calendar and its Chinese counterpart.

The anthophile’s dream

This year’s Tamiami International Orchid Festival did not disappoint.

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Without: a blustery, frigid (some would claim, “Too cold”), winter morning, the kind most do not pair with a South Florida clime.

Within: an explosion of color and graceful blooms horticulturalists link to tropical landscapes and forests.

This year’s Tamiami International Orchid Festival did not disappoint. Well attended, with vendors from as far as Hawaii showcasing their best and most enviable blooms, showcasing different varieties and species of vandas, cymbidiums, cattleyas, phalaenopsis, and oncidiums certain to please the most demanding of anthophiles. The show was a spectacle for eyes and a welcome distraction from studying.

The Practice of Contemplative Photography.

Click on any of the images for a slide show.

To Do or Todo

To Do lists keep me honest and on track, if only for the day, and serve as a map for me to follow that day.

Studying for the acupuncture board exams has become more of a full-time job than I originally anticipated. What began as a carefree (careless?) review of class notes, lecture slides, and study outlines has turned into a demanding array of exercises and data recollection where I not only spend hours going over said notes and slides, but also practice test taking skills on how to choose answers in board exams.

It turns out the exams not only test a student on academic knowledge, but also their test taking skills. The confusing case study questions are not accompanied with answers that are easy or clear to identify. Instead, the answers one has to choose from are a selection of confusing remedies where some treatment plans are less wrong than others. Acupuncture points one would normally choose for a course of treatment are noticeably absent and in their stead one has a group of points that, while effective, are not the ones normally chosen in clinic practice. These type of answers play a mind trick for folk like me who can rationalize any answer given, no matter how wrong it is. The bulk of my time is spent practicing and figuring out how to answer a board exam question, and not learning or memorizing material that will help me treat a patient.

A friend who is sitting for the herbal board called me last week in a state. She didn’t want to study. She was having an anxiety episode because every time she sat down and opened a book to go over herbs and formulas, her brain “shut-down.” She said she didn’t want to sit to go over herbal categories, modification, and herb pairings. “I’m sick of studying!” she cried. “What’s wrong with me?!”

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I tried talking her through her anxiety by sharing some of my own resistance to studying. “Do you think I wake up in the morning telling myself: I get to study today, whoopee! I get to spend five hours today going over crossing- and paired-points I’ll never get to use because, who many patience with dysentery and malaria will I get to see in practice? Woo-hoo!”

Maybe I should tell myself the opposite instead. Maybe my attitude will change and studying won’t feel like a chore. Or maybe, I should learn how to treat malaria since an Oriental medicine doctor won the Nobel Prize for medicine last year, and according to NPR, malaria continues to be a major health concern in certain parts of the world.
Right now, feeling excited about, or wanting to study is not how I feel. Instead, distractions constantly pull at me in different directions, none of which I’d normally consider. I’d rather go grocery shopping, do my neighbor’s laundry, mop floors in a greasy diner, or take up another master’s degree than sit and review for these exams. Pulling a gray pubic hair is less painful than figuring out an Oriental medicine organ pattern for diagnosis.

My friend asked what she could do in order to overcome her aversion to academic work. She wondered what I did in order to feel like I got anything accomplished with my days.

“That’s easy,” I said. “Scratch items off a list. Draw yourself a To Do or  Todo (Everything) list (Todo in Spanish means everything) and the more items you scratch, the better you’ll feel!”

To Do, or Todo lists have become an integral part of my day. They help me organize myself and give me a sense of completion and self-confidence every time I mark an item as completed. They have become a magical spell of sorts. Every time I get through one, I feel empowered, confident, strong—like I’m able to tackle the most convoluted of questions in an exam. On days where I get everything done, I treat myself to one of the items I placed on my Amazon wishlist. On days where I have to carry an item or two over to the next day, I practice patience and compassion towards myself and decide to give myself a break from all the (todos los) chores I had for myself that day.

To Do lists keep me honest and on track, if only for the day, and serve as a map for me to follow that day. I may not always follow the established directions, but they tend to get me closer to where I want to go. They’re a journal of todo/everything I have to do that’s more honest than anything I write or tell myself in my journals. If I were to account for last three months of my life, these lists would summarize my days and practices better than an Facebook or Instagram post. My To Do lists are, in a sense, lists of Todo I have to do and done to be rid of these exams.

Helios — at last

It’s been a glorious day: warm, bright, sunny, breezy—the kind folk in northern territories migrate south for the season. This is Florida at its best.

Blue sky and palm tree

Blue Sky and Palm Tree. Miami, 2016.

The topic of everyone’s conversation today: “Sun! Look at the sun and the bright blue sky.”

We awoke this morning to a gloomy fog, wondering where it came from or what djinn had conjured it from a mischievous spell. But by noon the sun had risen high and warm enough to dispel any remnants of clouds, humidity, or uncertainty. We stared in awe at the marvel of a South Florida winter sky.

It’s been a glorious day: warm, bright, sunny, breezy—the kind folk in northern territories migrate south for the season. This is Florida at its best.

For weeks previously, we remained indoors, wondering where the clouds and rain came from. A spell of gray gloomy days reminded me of what northern spring days are like. For weeks we did without sunny days or warm spells. So today it was a wonder that we all ventured out to stare at the sky to remind ourselves how endless and dizzying a blue sky can be.

Fingers were pointed upwards, faces turned to the sun, and some (myself included) could almost swear to have caught a glimpse of Helios, the Sun god, cheerfully steering his flame chariot across the sky.

The Practice of Contemplative Photography.

Orchids redux

One moment I’m enjoying a quiet morning at home drinking coffee, the next I’m on my way to Homestead in search of orchids.

It was—as usual—a last minute thing. One moment I’m enjoying a quiet morning at home drinking coffee, the next I’m on my way to Homestead in search of orchids. This has become a weekly ritual of sorts. When the day dawns sunny and we’re not buried under blankets of rain, Orchidium will text and ask me if I want to drive to Homestead to visit the nurseries in the area. Not needing an excuse to leave the house and enjoy his gay company, I agree as I throw a pair of pants on, pull on my boots, don the day’s fedora, and head out the door to meet him at a Starbucks along the way. On the drive down Krome Ave, we catch up on our lives and old-men gossip. We trash Facebook trends, compare Netflix queues, and ponder the future aging gay men face but fail to confront. As we visit each nursery, we carefully assess, compare, and select which blooms will grace our gardens or window sills until the next escapade. The drive takes up most of the morning, but driving with windows rolled down, hands gliding on the wind around farms and nurseries, it’s the best way to spend part of the day in the company of a good friend. On this escapade, I decided not to bring home any new plants to cheer my day, but I did bring a few snapshots to document the day. These are good enough to brighten my spirits until the next time Orchidium’s text chimes in for another day of orchid hunting.

Dia de reyes

January 6th remains a magical day for me and the offical close of the holiday season. Tomorrow the working years gets off to a start, and I once again look forward to discovering and making new magical memories.

Today is the feast of the Epiphany, or as we call it in Miami, el dia de los reyes magos — the feast of the three wise men.

This is the day Christians celebrate the revelation “of God the son as human in Christ.” In Western Christianity, the feast commemorates the visit of the Magi to the Christ child bearing gifts of frankincense, gold, and myrrh. According to the Gospel of Matthew, the three kings or wisemen came from the east to worship the “king of the jews.” The word magi, plural for magus, suggests the three men were astrologers, magicians, or Zoroastrianism practitioners. Some consider them to be sorcerers or travelers who journeyed West from as far as China; others hold them to venture from Persia and Africa. As part of their religion, these men paid particular attention to the stars and gained an international reputation for astrology, which was at that time highly regarded as a science. Their religious practices and use of astrology caused derivatives of the term magi to be applied to the occult in general and led to the English term magic, although Zoroastrianism was in fact strongly opposed to sorcery.

INSERT IMAGE NAMERegardless of their point of origin, or religious affiliation, the three magi or wise men celebration is as popular — and perhaps more so — as Christmas among hispanic cultures and countries. On the morning of January 6th, children wake up to more gifts, candy, and celebrations. In Spain, parades not unlike the Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day parades are held around the country. Miami has its own parade, though it pales in comparison to anything I’ve seen in other countries. In Mexico, a rosca de reyes, or king’s cake is shared with family and friends. Eating la rosca, or cake, is supposed to bring one good luck throughout the year.

For me, the Epiphany has become a day of remembering things past. Gone are the days when toys, gifts, or presents were left for my sisters and I to open in the morning. Gone are also the days when my niece and nephews had their gifts to open, now that they are teenagers and not as nostalgic as their aunts and uncle are for their toddler days. What’s left of our celebration are my mother’s candy bags, filled with our favorite candies and some small knick-knack she finds at the dollar store that reminds her of our eccentricities. My bag usually contains peanut M&Ms and something relating to acupuncture. But the family dinners have been replaced with text messages, Facebook postings, and the occasional photo of Epiphanies of long ago.

Still, for all the memories and nostalgia, January 6th remains a magical day for me; the day after marks the official close of the holiday season. On Thursday the new year gets off to a working start, and I once again look forward to discovering and making new magical memories.

Onward

There is much study, writing, work, and learning for me to do in 2016. A quest only opens doors and suggests what one can do in order to get unstuck and continue to move forward again.

During the holidays, over in Bloom County, enfant terrible Steve Dallas was undergoing a holiday season self-pity crisis not unlike one I underwent a few months ago. It was comforting to trace my own emotional sinkhole with the cast and crew of my favorite, reincarnated comic strip from the 80’s and to find encouragement and camaraderie from Opus, penguin ingenue and moral compass — of sorts. The crisis prompted a break from writing and posting to my blogs as I sorted out my feelings and underwent a quest to find new directions and reasons to write again.

The weeks leading up to the holidays found me taking several road-trips around the state to nowhere in particular seeking guidance, inspiration, and a new direction for the new year. Along the way, I met a several interesting folk who pointed the way to others in similar or worse situations than I.

Those meetings led to evenings full of fireside chats, inspirational anecdotes, and rituals I never thought myself partaking in. I can’t say at this moment what will come out of any of those trips, conversations, and night sky gazing enquiries, but I do admit that I find myself feeling more optimistic, empowered, and confident in my abilities than I did when I drove off to the horizon for the first time back in November.

During my road trips I read books on Buddhist dharma and practiced meditation in lonely roadside motels and out in fields people rush past without paying attention. No one has mapped the territory of the mind—or the heart—better than Buddhist meditators, so I couldn’t have better guides helping me find footing where there was no ground. Pema Chödrön, the Shambhala Buddhist teacher, often writes and teaches about feeling comfortable with uncertainty, or walking the path of groundlessness. On many days I found myself free-falling in fear and uncertainty, but her kind, gentle, but precise advice was the kind of kick in the ass I needed to get me to meditate again, in earnest, and get myself from wallowing in self-pity.

The calming and soothing balm my heart needed came from the wisdom and joy of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche who, miraculously to me, and just when I needed him most, returned home in December from a three year wandering retreat. I welcomed the news of his return with great joy, and while rereading his treatise for a life of Joyful Living his words became the antidote I needed to renew my meditation practice with focus and a renewed commitment to the dharma and the path of contemplation.

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There is much study, writing, work, and learning for me to do in 2016. A quest only opens doors and suggests what one can do in order to get unstuck and continue to move forward again. If anything, the questions I left home with led to more questions that I will have to answer at a later time. This is not a bad thing, per se, but a riddle I must learn to unravel on my own. Some answers to life’s big questions only deepen the mystery of living, and I believe that is part of the process of growing, maturing, and living. Had I all the answers to life’s questions I’d be bored and discontented. I like a good challenge and Life has given me several that have kept me busy and feeling engaged from the onset. My task now is to find the joy of living as Rinpoche suggests and get on with it.

INSERT IMAGE NAMELike Steve Dallas, I’m surrounded by a retinue of family and friends ready to offer kind and solid advice on how to proceed. This is wealth without measure because even during my darkest times I never felt alone. During my quest, I found new allies and techs to help me reach and find steadier, more solid ground. But unlike Steve, I’m a little more self-aware today than I was a few weeks ago and I’m aware of the skills and talents I own in order to move forward. It’s my hope I don’t regress to a state of self-absorption that would keep me in a state of comic repetitiveness that Steve suffers from. But that’s something the posts and pages of this blog will reveal as the new year marches on.

An orchid odyssey

We begin 2016 with a stroll around the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens.

We begin 2016 with a stroll around the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens, where my best friend and I went in search of orchids to love and admire. We were not disappointed. For in the Tropical Forest gardens, “An Orchid Odyssey” had quite a selection of blooming orchids on display for us to enjoy. Here is a sampling of some of the delights we found.

You may click on any of the images for a slide show.

Solidarité

#PrayforParis #PrayforFrance

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#PrayforParis #PrayforFrance

For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies.
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.

They will live again in freedom
In the garden of the Lord.
They will walk behind the plough-share,
They will put away the sword.
The chain will be broken
And all men will have their reward.

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes!

From: Les Miserables, a Musical

Teyata

Buddhists believe that the name and image of the Medicine Buddha have healing properties.

Teyata

Teyata OM bekandze bekandze maha bekandze randza samugate soha

The Medicine Buddha (Sangye Menla in Tibetan, the Lord of Healing) represents the healing power of enlightened beings. He is known as the deity of medicine in Tibet and among Buddhists. The name of the medicine Buddha is believed to have the power to free a person from the diseases of anger and ignorance that can afflict the mind and impede liberation from suffering.

This protection and healing amulet is made up of prayers and mantras inscribed on paper that are then folded and tied together with colored strings. It is not made to be worn, but carried in a pocket or kept in a person’s home. When worn, the amulet is believed to have healing power, and aid the person carrying it in their person to be protected from harm, evil, illness, or any affliction that may hinder their health and meditation practice.

Buddhists believe that the name and image of the Medicine Buddha have healing properties as well, and that to see an image of Sangye Menla, or hear his name, can provide healing as well. Reciting the Medicine Buddha’s mantra, too, is a powerful way to invoke his blessings, and aid in a person’s—and the planet’s—healing.

Ki ki so so!

Ah, autumn…

Every time I see this photo, I’m reminded of one of the many reasons I fell in love with New England and Maine.

Fall in Maine

Fall in Maine

Here in Miami we only have three seasons: hot, hotter, and intolerably hot and humid. There’s no end to it, even when a breeze dispels, if only for a moment, the wet blanket of humidity that seeps into the body making even the coolest person sweat.

If you’re a seasonal and live in Florida only during the “cool” winter months, then you don’t have to contend with the oppressive and stifling heat summer unleashes upon us. Only at the beach, is summer a pleasant contemplation. There I enjoy swimming in the ocean for hours, floating on the surface as an ocean breeze cools my slow-roasted skin.

Round August, or ten days after Labor Day, to be exact, I start missing fall in New England. When I lived in New York City, fall was my favorite time of year. I could feel it in the air, the turn of season, when summer gave way to cooler evenings, shorter days, and the change of color on trees. On weekends, I enjoyed traveling to the Poconos or Catskills to enjoy the foliage—spectacular reds, oranges, yellows, and browns that blanketed the mountains for miles as far as the eye could see.

This was a time for hot ciders, sweaters, leather jackets, boots, and hikes along trails hidden under a carpet of dry leaves. In the evenings, fireplaces were lit, and cuddling on the couch was the way to spend the evening—reading books or feeling frisky under a warm blanket! Windows were left open, and I indulged on the smell of burning leaves, woods, and mud. Road trips to small town antique stores were compulsory on weekends, as were harvesting apples, pears and seasonal fruits that herald the harvest season. At night, stews and hearty meals replaced salads and sandwiches for dinner and one could once again enjoy a hearty Cote d’Rhone or Pinot Noir instead of a sangria or Lambrusco.

I miss fall and the change of seasons; I miss its colors and assault on the senses. Living in a state and city where weather patterns and forecasts are reduced to either sunny or rainy days, the lack of variety—or anticipation to change—only heightens my longing for fall. When I look in my closet at the jackets, boots, sweaters, and scarves I’d be wearing around this time of year, it pains me to pull a pair of shorts and T-shirt before venturing outside. When I see photos of friends on road trips to the places I used to visit this time of years, a tinge of sadness settles in my heart.

I won’t be able to make it north this year to visit and appreciate this season’s fall weather. But every time I see this photo, I’m reminded of one of the many reasons I fell in love with New England and Maine. There, in those mountains and lakes, lost in carnival of color that nature unfurled and revealed to us in so many of our road trips, I came to understand and enjoy the beauty of each season. If I close my eyes, I can imagine the cool breeze reddening my cheeks, the tug of my scarf around my neck, and the taste of pear cider (with a shot of rum or brandy) in my lips.

Ah, autumn…how I long for thee!

Sacred spaces

The sound of the water splashing through the rocks reminded me of other gardens and times I felt restored and calm while communing with nature.

Rock Garden

Rock Garden. Morikami Gardens, Delray Beach, Florida

Part of the pleasure of walking in a garden is visiting favorite spaces and discovering new ones. When I walk around a familiar garden, I do so with the intention of visiting a spot I’ve grown fond of. There I can note the seasonal changes or evolution of the space and enjoy what remains constant and familiar to me, while being amazed at what is new and different. I like to fall in love with a garden while noting the plants, flowers (if any), rock formations, or features that endeared the place to my heart.

When walking around the Morikami garden paths, I make it a point to stop and sit in the Early Rock garden to meditate and take in the magical energy that inhabits the place. There’s something about this oft neglected corner that feels sacred to me. Unlike the more popular and formal rock gardens, this space reminds me of something preternatural in my nature. The rock formations, plants, gravel, tree shade, and subtle changes in the quality of the light turn me introspective and reflective.

The sound of the water splashing through the rocks reminded me of other gardens and times I felt restored and calm while communing with nature.

This is where I pause to sit on a wooden bench, and when so moved, say a silent prayer. The coolness of the space, the quiet and serenity seep down into my soul, and when it’s time to walk away I feel refreshed and new. Such is the power and spirit of a garden—it restores us and nurtures our soul. A well laid garden connects us back to nature and reminds us that we’re as much a part of its earth, plants, and spirit as we are to the planet.

I’m never surprised, however, when a new corner or space I may have walked by in the past calls my attention because of a flower, tree, or feature that boasts its revelation to me. This is another of a garden’s charm. Good gardens, like a person, have the capacity to surprise us when at their peak or bloom, they reveal something we may have missed at an earlier time.

Sacred Pond

Sacred Pond. Morikami Gardens, Delray Beach, Florida

Such was my surprise when I walked into a quiet nook in the Modern Romantic Garden with a pond and flowing stream. I don’t remember ever walking around this space before. Perhaps I took a path in a previous visit that diverted me from this spot, or maybe I didn’t pay enough attention when I walked by the pond before. This time, however, as I crossed a wooden bridge, I found myself looking and peering into the water, catching my reflection on the surface, and following the stream into the deeper part of the pond where fish and leaves gathered on the surface toying with the reflecting sunlight.

There, under a tree, I fell in-love with the gardens again. The sound of the water splashing through the rocks reminded me of other gardens and times I felt restored and calm while communing with nature. As a gentle breeze dispersed the afternoon heat and humidity, the bamboo trees swayed and rattled their hollow wooden music. Here, there was magic again—the kind of magic ancient invoke and write about when they talk about Qi and natural energy. Here is where all five Chinese elements come together and manifest the eternal dance of Yin and Yang. In this one space balance was achieved, if only temporarily, since Yang disruption is eventually inevitable. The gardener, much like an acupuncturist, must temper the elements and energy to keep and restore balance.

Once the stroll was complete, I was reminded why this particular garden is so beloved to me. In them not only do I see how the wisdom and articulation of ancient practices and knowledge manifest in nature, but I can see those same mysteries revealed in my body and my self.

The Practice of Contemplative Photography.

Temporal fluxes, mindful anomalies, and convoluted regressions

Remembering the past is a funny thing. Whenever I regard my history, I look at it through a faulty lens. I tend to romanticize bygone years and experiences by turning what at the time seemed like an unbearable situation into a memory I want to return to.

It’s been a while since I posted an update here, or to any of my other sites. I’ve been sequestered studying, thinking, and worrying about the future while at the same time going over my past. In between flashcards, mock-tests, and endless print-outs of notes and flowcharts about how a disease invades and progresses inside the human body, I tried to figure out how actions from my past currently affect my present.

Remembering the past is a funny thing. Whenever I regard my history, I look at it through a faulty lens. I tend to romanticize bygone years and experiences by turning what at the time seemed like an unbearable situation into a memory I want to return to. I suppose that’s what people mean when they say they long for the “good old days”— those seemingly simpler, easier times when no one had a care in the world and everyone was as happy as one can be.

Remembrance likes to play tricks on me, however. Had someone told me seventeen years ago that one day I’d find myself longing for the days and nights when I owned no furniture, lived alone in Jersey City, and had to file for bankruptcy after amassing an incredible amount of debt, I would have laughed in his face and told him to get lost. Who wants to live like that? Who wants to find himself alone after ending a three year relationship and have nowhere to live, no job prospects, and only $500 in the bank? Anyone would be mad to miss something like that. And yet, this morning, as I sat down to study, I surprised myself for looking back at those days and thinking that it wouldn’t be so bad if I was back in New York, living alone, with only the barest of necessities available to me.

What I want is an idealized life reconstructed in retrospect. In other words, I want to live in a fantasy that I made up in the present and that, through the power of self-deception, I retrofitted to a particular time in my life.

Back then I had no unnecessary distractions keeping me from anything I wanted to do. I also didn’t have half of the worries or responsibilities I have today. Whenever I wanted to call it quits for the day, I would go home and shut the world outside and spend the evening reading, watching television on my living room floor (I had no furniture in the apartment other than my bed and my desk), or wasting time chatting online with friends from around the country. My apartment was my refuge against cold winter evenings, boring evenings at a bar, and anything I wanted to avoid.

Of course, if I was to return to those “good old days,” I would want go back to them knowing everything I know now and empowered to rectify the mistakes I made then, while still gaining experience and learning for my eventual and revised present. In other words, I would be a fifty year old man living in the body of a thirty year old boy (every gay man’s fantasy?), wiser and better beyond my years.

I would travel back in time and avoid dates that didn’t go anywhere, turn down jobs that made me feel miserable, save money by avoiding whimsical purchases, skip boring nights on the town, forget about dating the flight attendant who wrecked my life, pursue the lawyer I should have dated instead, travel abroad when I had the chance, date the guy I met at a bathhouse who I still find myself thinking about on occasion, forgo purchasing the Power Computing clone that died a year to the day after I bought it, avoid the certain one night stands that left me gifts I would have rather done without, begun acupuncture school when only two board exams were required instead of the current four, and kept the gym membership I let expire when I got burned out from working out every other day.

But that’s the problem with looking and thinking about the good old days. Whenever I look back, I overcompensate and conveniently edit out and forget the “bad old times.” I forget the negative feelings, the bad days, the mean people, the horrible jobs, the wrong decisions, the terrible dates, the lonely nights, the wrong turns, and the days when I longed to go back further in time to the “better good old days.” I want to create a temporal flux anomaly vortex (Red alert!) so I can correct all my past mistakes with the foresight and knowledge I’ve accumulated since then in order to create a future with greater grace than the one I am living now.

Time travel in the mind, like a bad Star Trek episode featuring a temporal flux, can be annoying, confusing, and full of loop holes.

If I stop to think about why I want to go back in time, however, I realize it’s not the bad times nor the good times I want to return to. It’s also not the half furnished apartment I miss, nor the empty bank account that I have yet to replenish that I seek, nor the quiet nights when I sat by the window reading a book watching the snow fall or the rain wash the streets in front of our building. (See? I’m doing it right now. I’m making those tiresome, dull, bored out of my mind evenings sound almost enchanting). Neither are the lonely nights nor the boring evenings I spent walking around the city hoping to find or meet a friend that I long for. Memory likes to play tricks on me; romanticizing the past is easy for me to do. What I long for is not a particular set of circumstances. It’s worse than that.

What I want is an idealized life reconstructed in retrospect. In other words, I want to live in a fantasy that I made up in the present and that, through the power of self-deception, I retrofitted to a particular time in my life.

How else can I explain to myself wanting to go back to the mountain of debt? To get rid of that I would have to travel back in time further. That would mean not going to graduate school in New York City and staying in Miami like my father warned and wanted me to do. Missing out on some of the best experiences I had while living in New York, and meeting some of the most amazing people who crossed my path while I ambled blindly along the way. I would not have to contend with two men who wrecked my life and made me the relationship weary person I am today. To make everything in my life actually live up to “good old days” standards, I would have to start life all over again, knowing then what I know now, and hoping that the new decisions I make along the way won’t lead me to a worse situation than I am now.

Starting over, is impossible, as is not making mistakes. I’m going to make mistakes regardless of what I do because I’m built that way. Love me, love my mistakes should be stamped on my forehead or printed on a T-shirt I wear every day. Which begs the questions: Am I here to mess up all the time? Will my life ever be perfect? Can I ever have a “good old day” in the present?

The answers, I’m beginning to realize, lie in how I perceive things. If I regard the present as the “good now days,” or begin to think of it as “it doesn’t get any better than this,” then I won’t find myself wanting to go back in time to rectify a mistake. I’ll feel like I’m not missing anything at the moment. I won’t find myself standing on a cold platform thinking to myself that life was better way back when it sucked, and that by returning to it my problems will be solved. Instead, if I think that life is great now, with what little or with as much as I have and the decisions I’ve made to get me here, I can focus on what’s right in front of my nose and do what I can, as the Cole Porter song says, “from this moment on,” to make sure the “good now days” turn into “Shit, I can’t wait until tomorrow arrives because it’s going to get better” days. And that, actually, can start happening right now.

Or something like that. Time travel in the mind, like a bad Star Trek episode featuring a temporal flux, can be annoying, confusing, and full of loop holes.

Ten years from now I will probably look back and find myself, yet again, longing for days like this when, instead of dealing with and treating difficult patients, I could be home studying and meditating all day, working. That’s the nature of remembering and looking back: things are never quite what they seem or what I’d want them to be. Hopefully one day in the future, by then, I will have learned a thing or two about how I regard my past, and rather than long for days gone by, I will embrace my present and live fully in it with all my faults, virtues, good and bad decisions, ex-boyfriend, all the while thinking, This rocks! Aren’t you glad you finally got here?

Guardians of Wisdom

The Guardians of Wisdom oracle cards arrived yesterday, and I could not be more pleased.

Emy,

The decks arrived yesterday, and I could not be more pleased. They are stunningly beautiful! And the art…Oh, the art! It’s gorgeous!

I’m so happy I stumbled across your deck, and that I have them to read and study over the coming months. I felt connected to them immediately, and had to play with them the moment they arrived.

Thank you for the care and love you poured into them. It shows! The Guardians of Wisdom will be another personal favorite oracle for many years to come—I’m sure.

In love and light.