The Existential Pee

I believe we humans are actually spirit and don’t require bodies to exist. Yet, here we are in physical form, ensconced in flesh. There must be a reason, something to be learned or gained from carrying around this hunk of meat everywhere we go. My view is the body connects us to nature, giving us information about the third dimension we inhabit. When we check in with our bodies, they also serve to inform us of our emotions and how our thoughts affect those emotions. The body is a better barometer of what is actually going on with us than the mind. The mind can justify all sorts of atrocities, but only a closed heart will fail to report the truth.

Being squarely in the body is of paramount importance to me, and yet I still sometimes have difficulty listening to my own body/heart instead of my intellect/conditioning.

This is where the pee comes in.

I decided one day to walk from the apartment I was subletting in the Kitsilano neighborhood of Vancouver to the Museum of Anthropology. I checked the Google Map; it was a long walk, about one hour 45 minutes, but that’s a good walk. I’ve walked farther many times. I could take the bus back and there was a great exhibit at the Museum at the end of the walk.

I started out later than expected but took time to pee once more before I left the house. Being in my 60s, I find I usually have to go twice in quick succession to get out the door and this day was no different.

After that, I was ready. I had a pretty good notion of the map in my head. It’s a simple walk, straight out West 4th to Chancellor Boulevard takes you directly to the museum. No turns to make, just keep walking.

After 30 minutes, I have to pee. “Not possible,” I tell my body, “you peed twice before you left.” I keep walking but at Jericho Beach park the urge is not going away. I know I have at least another hour left to walk. It’s okay, I tell myself. After the park we’re back in civilization again. There’ll be a Starbucks or 7-11 or something, so no problem, I can keep walking.

Those of you more familiar with Vancouver than I will realize immediately after Jericho Beach park on West 4th there is nothing even remotely resembling a Starbucks or 7-11. It is the most unmerciful stretch of quiet residential neighborhood that ever existed. There’s not even a sidewalk. Clearly NO ONE ever walks this stretch of highway. Ever.

By now the situation is beginning to be a little desperate. Perhaps it would be better to wait for the bus to UBC which takes this route. All I have to do is find a bus stop. It feels like miles to the next bus stop and after I stand there waiting for five minutes, I realize standing still is even worse than walking. And, with little faith in the Vancouver transit system, I know I could be there holding my pelvic floor tightly for another 20 minutes.

I continue walking.

The bus passes me.

I really, really have to pee.

Then, suddenly, like manna to the Israelites, a park appears. And it’s not a small park. It stretches on and on as far as I can see. There will be a place to pee. Maybe I’ll be lucky and there’ll be some sort of cafe or boathouse. If not, it’s a park for heaven’s sake. There’ll be trees.

Only there’s no cafe and the trails, even the one with trees are very open and public. And there are people. What the hell are all these people doing in this gigantic park on the water’s edge? They are walking their dogs is what they’re doing, walking them down every single secluded spot I can find.

I walk deeper and deeper into the park and I begin to wonder, “What would Diane do?” I know the answer. She’d drop trow and pee behind a tree, any old tree, because she doesn’t have a thing about taking a pee when she needs to. This is one of the functions of a great friend, giving us courage to do what must be done, being a role model. Only I don’t heed her call to liberation.

I know I’m being weird and not taking care of myself but my brain keeps telling me it’s inappropriate to pee where people might see my bum. That’s ridiculous, I tell myself but each time I muster the courage to pull down my pants (and of course I’m wearing pants, long underwear, gloves, scarf, a bulky coat, and a backpack, so it’s going to take a while to do that) a dog walker saunters past and waves at me. Usually in Vancouver, no one looks at me, even when I’m tossing a chipper good morning or how’re you doing in their direction. But here in the park when I desperately need a bit of anonymity, they couldn’t be friendlier.

I ask the next owner of a canine whether I can get to the Museum of Anthropology if I continue through the park—my bursting bladder has erased the image of the Google map from my brain—and she takes out her cell phone and shows me I need to get back up to the road or add an additional 20 minutes to the journey. I thank her and hike back up to the road.

Another ten minutes of wondering how this is going to work out and suddenly there are trees again. There are some semi-private areas at their bases. However, these trees are up against the wooden fences of a very lovely condo development. I’m at risk of a ruptured bladder and peritonitis but still find the idea of peeing on someone’s nice fence abhorrent.

Now, I know I’ve gone crazy. What would Diane do has been truncated into a mere WD—would Diane? Of course, Diane would, she would have gone by the edge of the road or in the wooded park or on the neighbor’s fence. I should take courage from her example, be bold.

It’s gone further than that, though. Now I feel God has been giving me opportunity after opportunity to pee and I’ve been rejecting each one. I feel I’m caught in the old joke about the man who’s drowning but keeps turning down the assistance saying, “God will save me.” Like him, I’m spurning all of God’s advances toward me and now, not only do I have to pee, but I feel very, very guilty and ungrateful as well. Tears well up and I’m sure I’ll either die or have to take the bus home in wet, smelly pants.

Then, as if to assure me that God’s love is never ending, never fading, a path appears. Yes, it’s between two incredibly ritzy mansions, but it is shaded from the road and partially private from the three car garages and formal gardens. There’s even a downed tree blocking it, so I know it hasn’t been used much lately. In hasty gratitude I pull off my backpack and pull down my pants and sense the exquisite joy of release.

By then, I’ve used up so much time, going off track and out of my mind, there’s little time left to see the exhibit. But dammit, I went through a lot to get there and I was determined.

It was worth it.

painting of the good samaritan

But What Would You Do About Hitler?

I’m a pacifist. I don’t believe violence is ever a good idea. Taking up arms is against my values and my values are my moral compass. Whether my actions and speech are in alignment with what I believe to be right and good is a question I often ask myself.

Not everyone feels the way I do. I have from time to time found myself in conversations with people who believe we need to “Be Prepared” with “Strong Defense.” The question they invariably raise in our conversation about non-violence is, “What would you do about Hitler?”

It’s a real question and one I now know the answer to.

I would prevent Hitler from happening.

I would call out hate speech for what it is—ignorance, prejudice, fear and ego. I would declare loudly that Mexicans are not rapists, that Muslims are not terrorists, that refugees seeking asylum for their families are not plotting to overthrow our country, suck up our resources, or infiltrate to undermine us in any way.

I would let the wisdom of an 8-year old child counter the demagoguery of a megalomaniac. Watch the videos below with an open heart. One speaks the truth with love, the other is full of lies and fear. Your heart will know which is which.

Finally, I would ask “What would Jesus do?” Yes, even though I’m more Buddhist these days than Christian, Jesus is still my model for living my values. I believe Jesus would welcome refugees with open arms and find a way to feed, shelter and clothe them (perhaps the desire to do so and the belief that it is possible is what creates miracles). Jesus would have compassion for the insanity of rulers who create such human misery and he would speak truth to power no matter what the personal consequences.

I can’t prevent war in Syria. There’s not much I can do about it other than press my representatives to work for peaceful solutions to all conflict. But I too can speak truth to power and call out lies, fear and hatred when I see them.

What would you do about Hitler?

P.S. I decided not to upload any videos of a particular candidate for president. I don’t want to be part of spreading his words around. You already know what he’s said..


A Watched Pot…

…does actually boil. I know because I watched mine this morning. The old adage is not about temperature or water or pots, but you knew that already. The old adage is about patience, how standing over something, willing it to grow or boil or take flight, doesn’t help the process go any faster. If you’re like me you’ve interpreted this to mean, do something else while the pot is heating up—that way you won’t waste time. This is how I’ve mostly lived my life, multi-tasking, slipping 5-minute jobs in between longer efforts. Now, as I enter and activate this slowing down period of my life, I wonder if I haven’t missed a great deal of life by trying to pack everything in. It’s scattered and tense and timed and impatient. And isn’t that exactly what we’re being told about watching that pot. Don’t be impatient? Continue reading…


A Little Bit Lost

Traveling with my friend this summer brought up an interesting question—how do I feel about being lost?

I get anxious when I’m with another person. Especially if I’m with another anxious person who’s driving the car while I’m navigating from shitty Google Maps’ printed directions. When I’m by myself, I actually like when I’m a bit lost.

Notice, a bit. I don’t believe I’d like to be blindfolded, pushed into a helicopter, and offloaded into endless dunes stretching for miles in all directions. But, in a place I live or have visited for a few days, I have a general sense of well being. For years I lived in an area of New York City considered dangerous by many of my uptown friends. To me it was simply the neighborhood. I knew the shops, the families, even some of the street people. That experience makes me think most neighborhoods are far less dangerous than up-tight white people’s imaginations would lead them to believe. As none of you are up-tight white people, I’m sure you understand.

Continue reading…


Meditation II

Get into a comfortable position.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Slower. Deeper. Softer. Be gentle with yourself.

Breathe into the spaces that are tight, controlled, holding.

Breathe in to your belly, to your lower back, your pelvic muscles, your jaw.

Breathe into your feet and hands, all the way to your fingers and toes.

Breathe in, release tension, melt cares and concerns.


You are Divine. Continue reading…


It’s Like the Cribbage Board

People are different from each other. This is both obvious and simple while at the same time complex and difficult. We process information and experiences differently based on a whole host of scientific and esoteric reasons. It’s good for the species, it gives us variety, adaptability, a human for every situation.

However, when two or more humans attempt to coexist on a day to day basis, adjustments and adaptations must be made.

Like the cribbage board.

Cribbage is a card game played by counting points in each hand and pegging those points on a tall, narrow board with 60 holes in it for each player. The holes are arranged in two rows of 30 each. As a child I was taught to go up the outside of the board and down the inside of the board as the game progressed, making the entire circuit twice per game for a total of 120 points to win.

I’ve taught lots of people the game over the years. I taught my friend, Diane, 35 years ago. When we travel together, I keep the board and cards handy in my purse. Waiting in an airport? We play a hand or two. Dinner taking longer than expected? Break out the board.

Now, I taught Diane and we’ve played for many years, so you would think I’d know everything there is to know about Di and cribbage, but recently she surprised me.

I set up the board, putting the black pegs on on the side nearest her with the bottom of the board (where the pegs start their path) toward the outside edge or bottom of the table. This is how I do it. How I’ve always done it. For 50-some years, this is how I’ve always done it.

Diane looked at the board, frowned, and said, “The pegs need to switch.” I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t figure out what she meant. Sighing with exasperation, she switched the pegs to the other side of the board, turned the board upside down with the starting point toward the inside of the table, and then smiled, completely satisfied and at ease.

I was even more confused. This was just wrong. Wrong. What was she thinking? I went ahead and played the game but it felt unnatural to me. I thought perhaps it was an anomaly.

It wasn’t. Continue reading…



NOTE: This was written for a women’s gathering. Feel free to adapt it for mixed groups or men only.

Get in a comfortable position with both feet on the floor or sitting cross-legged with your spine erect. Close your eyes, then allow your head to float up and away from your shoulders. Lengthen and open your spinal column. Let your back widen, making room for the lungs to stretch.

Breathe in and out, slowly, rhythmically, finding a pace that fills you and relaxes you. In and out.

Now, relax more.

Look into your heart and see there a point of white light. Allow the light to expand—brighter, softer, larger until you feel yourself floating in that light. Continue reading…

Travel and Trust

Photo of Cappadocia, Turkey

Morning balloon ride over Cappadocia, Turkey.

There are probably as many reasons to travel as there are people who travel. I have a whole list of things I love about it. Art and architecture, culture and color, people, places, food and fashion. Most of all, I travel for the experience. I’m with my best friend, Diane, and this is a long trip for us—almost two full months on the road. From apartments with two bedrooms, a kitchen and spaces large enough to dance, to the tiniest of hotel rooms with two feet between the single beds pushed right up to the peachy pink walls and a bathroom where you sit on the toilet to shower with a hand held faucet dribbling water, each day is filled with unforgettable experiences. I’ll admit, I sometimes can’t remember which city we were in or what day it was, but I remember the laughter, the exhaustion, the exhilaration, the waiting, the getting through it to the next thing, and the incredible gratitude for a life that allows me to live deeply and expansively.

Along the way, I get to work on my own issues. Trust, self-confidence, authenticity, trust, courage, fear, creativity, trust and responsibility.

I said trust, right? Continue reading…

Life Changing

Raja_grivasanaHow much do you think you could change your life in one year? If you really wanted it? If you faced your fears and lived fully? What would it mean to you to do that?

For me, it meant learning to be happy. Not through the accumulation of stuff or even being able to pay my bills on time. There are no external circumstances that can make me happy and I know that now. How I see my life (and my corresponding happiness quotient) is totally up to me. Learning that, and how to change the stories I tell myself when emotions begin to run rampant, has turned my life around. Continue reading…