Say what you will about Jason Robert Brown’s, Drama Desk winning show The Last Five Years, this last year of our individual and collective upheaval has just about wiped out live theater…
That said, I consider it a miracle and a blessing, and I’m so very pleased, to be able to be a part of this limited run, streamed showing of what is a poignantly moving, ingeniously-told, fairy-tale defying chronicle of Cathy and Jamie… their Last Five Years together… from break-up to marriage to meeting and from meeting to marriage to break-up!
This privately produced rendition of The Last Five Years means that ALL ticket sales will directly benefit Hillsboro Artists’ Regional Theatre, otherwise belovedly known as HART.
Thank you for supporting local theater!
Well! It’s been a while since I posted about anything having to do with PATH of Authentic Voice. Just over… three months?!?!? My, how time flies in the midst of, as they say, that ‘only constant’… CHANGE!
Back in early April, I was highlighting the import of nervous system regulation and of the use of the ‘PATH Protocol‘ as a way to effectively navigate our, just developing, Turbulent Times, via regenerating and honing our relationship with the Four PATH Personhood Pillars — Power, Acceptance, Truth and Heart. I’ve been vigorously walking that PATH ever since.
Then, at the end of April, I asked the mother of all questions, ‘Who Are You?‘, the point of which was to deliberately conjure a personal reckoning with the Value and Meaning of Life… to, in turn, fan the flames of a Guiding Light by which one can steadfastly steer towards a Desired Direction, while being yanked around by forces beyond our control. Brick House, baby.
Since then and next up has been an internally emergent and rigorous exploration of ‘Voice’. Capital ‘v’ intended. What is the Voice in PATH of Authentic Voice?
Contrary to such superficial attributes as (on one end of the spectrum) being a utilitarian word delivery device to (on the other end of the spectrum) being an entertainment delivery device, to stoke with accolades or shut down with criticism, to enter into competitions to ‘win’ and receive awards that stroke eggshell esteems and insatiable egos…
Nooooo! Voice is sooooo much more than that!
Voice is your Essential Expression… unique and incomparable… potent… the Vibration and Sound through which one can actually shape their world, and one’s connection, or lack thereof, with the Four PATH Personhood Pillars — Power, Acceptance, Truth, Heart — is nakedly revealed.
It is by this definition, especially in our current, cathartic times, that what one gives their Voice to is starkly and utterly consequential.
What comes out of my mouth matters to me. I mean what I say. I say what I mean. I choose my words, with great care. My Voice is not just the aforementioned superficial qualifiers. My Voice is an expression of what I am aligned with, what is meaningful to me, what is true for me, what I stand for and, even, what I’m willing to, yes, die for. My Voice is the instrument through which I assert my Heart and Soul… what I Value… to such a weighty degree that I have become mercilessly mindful of what I Give my Voice to.
I’ll use a chapter of my own singing journey as an example…
Several years ago, I was offered the opportunity to teach students who were studying vocal jazz. Accepting the job required me to work with the literature from the well-known Great American Songbook. I gleefully accepted the position and thought it appropriate and necessary to become more acquainted with the songs from said era than I already was. I was surprised to discover that as much as I loved the music itself — the form, the melodies, the harmonies — I could not, ultimately, stomach… the lyrics.
So many tunes from the GAS (surpressing giggle) are what I call ‘pain body’ or ‘old story’ songs. What I mean by that is that most of them are about love and relationships of the unrequited, tragic, sad, victimy, and dysfunctional kind…. all wrapped up in a blanket of intoxicating romance.
Since I initially referenced our constant companion, ‘change’, I’ll continue the trend and pull up the song You’ve Changed as an example.
The music itself? Gorgeous, yes? The words, though, well… I’ll pull no punches. The narrator of this worn out story seems to dramatically bemoan and argue against the reality of the changing of a ‘cared for’ person… as if change is a bad thing! The lyrics seem (to me) virtually accusatory in tone. Clearly, the narrator of this sad story did not get the memo about ‘I’ statements and the much needed support to process what was, understandably, painful. There’s plenty more to mine from the depths of the text. However, I’ll put it to rest.
Now, if someone had sent that message my direction I’d be inclined to respond. Aaaaand, maybe I’d actually sing my own response using my Voice, ideally calling upon the energies of Power, Acceptance, Truth and Heart, ‘cuz I am that PATH chick, after all. Supposing I did, it might look something like…
I ultimately stepped away from that teaching position, with a whole lot of gratitude for the opportunity to serve, for the learning and growing that came from it, the wonderful people I met and collaborated with along the way, and with an ample supply of respect and admiration for those who so meticulously and masterfully deliver their vocal gifts through such a particular and stringently complex genre of music.
But Not for Me, when all was said and done. Joke intended. Click on the blue link at the top of this paragraph to enjoy yet another greatest of the Great American Songbook! Doesn’t Judy make suffering seem so elegant? Poignant, actually. Given her tragic life and death.
Speaking of life and death matters… as the echoes of the past die away, as we face an onslaught of censorship not seen since the McCarthy years, and as we forge ahead as Creators of a Whole New World, we will change. Everything is changing, whether we want it to or not. The quality of that change is dependent on how we choose to respond. It is through Power, Acceptance, Truth and Heart and our Raised-Out-Loud Voices that we will carry ourselves into a future we all cherish being a part of…
With you. For you.
When people are scared, angry and confused… when their nervous systems have been on overload, perhaps since childhood… throw in a global pandemic, racial equality tidal wave, political election of a lifetime… job loss, loss of income, potential or actual loss of home, drowning in debt, illness, death of a family member, death, death, death all over the world and ‘you’re next’… Goddess knows what else…
And then, ‘pop’… they lose their shit. Do something ‘reprehensible’, ‘stupid’, ‘selfish’. Seen the videos? Seen the memes? Many more to come.
Have you never had that happen? Le ‘Pop’? I have. An embarrassing tirade at New Seasons long ago comes to mind, when a gentleman got condemingly upset with me for not seeing him as I was backing out of my parking space. What I needed most was not to be shamed and humiliated for human error and then, for my subsequent loss of composure in a moment of understandable-if-examined madness… following said gentleman into and throughout the store…doing-unto-him-what-he-had-done-unto-me… on and on the chain-of-pain goes…
What I needed, what he needed, was tenderness, and space for the vulnerability that was surely within both of us, underneath all the reactivity. I had no idea what was going on for him any more than he knew what was going on for me. No attempt made. Tragic.
Therein lies the potential for r(E)volution. Every breath. Every moment. Every day. + + +…
Compassion. Mercy. Forgiveness. Empathy. Grace. Holding. Helping. Healing.
We’re in trouble if, as we dismantle the police, we let policing each other become the norm… if we don’t heartily look to see who is behind that mask, or beyond why they are not wearing one… if we fall asleep at the wheel of endeavoring to discover what’s *really* going on… in all the canceling, might we be lobotomizing our ability to Respond to complex and complicated situations with discernment, *nuance* and the Creativity *absolutely* needed to get ourselves out of the jams we find ourselves in… if we let anger, judgment and hostility get the better of us… be the boss of us… adding fuel to inferno… if we let the latest news story make enemies of us…
Unless we’ve walked in another’s shoes, we’d best be care-full. Take a moment. Wonder. Smile. Wave. Count to ten. Ask, with genuine concern, “You doin’ ok?”, “Anything I can do to support you?”. Even ask self, hell, “How am *I* doing?!?” and prescribe accordingly…
Breathe. Breathe again. Before opening mouth. Flapping gums, waving fingers. Before righteously hitting that ‘post’ button.
What will be my contribution, then?
Stay awake. Regulate. Regulate. Regulate. Calm. Calm. Calm. Be the Balm, Balm, Balm… not, a detonated bomb. If that’s too much, silence… contemplation… will suffice.
There’s no going back. Only forward. We Choose. We Create. May we do so with our Ultimate Aim in Heart, Soul and Clear Mind.
Thriving, Pulsing, Honorable, Dignified Unity…
Oh, and… Joy. Remember Joy? Yeah.
Bless Us ALL…
With you. For you.
“Metamodernism is when you can marry extreme cynicism, extreme irony, like the harshest possible, most de-masking, most disenchanting, most rigorous analysis possible to the most extreme, universal, unapologetic, pure, divine, idealistic, all-encompassing love. As far as you can go, as far as you can go in the direction of cynicism — marry that position to as far as it is humanly possible to go in the direction of love, of universal idealism, of what is good and what is right. Those don’t actually cancel each other in the metamodern perspective, they make one another possible, because if you’re not always searching, ruthlessly searching for the truth, with a harshest possible analysis then you’re always left with a little bit of lie and then you can’t serve the deepest possible love. And then on the other hand if you find the harshest possible truth and really, really, really cut to the bone, what you find is, well, there’s always a residual of love, there’s always something good that you can’t explain, something good in people, and so on, and you’re going to have to admit that, ‘aha!’, things in life want to strive for something good. All things try to achieve something that is positive in some regard, at least. And this seems to go for all living beings and all of the universe.
So, ‘aha!’, OK. Where does this lead us? OK, it leads us to a kind of playful irony or a sincere irony, ironic sincerity — that I’m going to be super sincere about what I do but I’m also going to joke about it and the fact that I pick things apart with the cruelest possible cynicism, including myself, means that I can be entirely sincere and entirely playful. This means picking apart even myself. OK, so I’m not [insert your name here]. And, who the fuck cares. I become real, I become [insert your name here] because I’m not fucking [insert your name here]. That’s the fucking point.”
— Hanzi Freinacht, Life is a Festival Podcast, #63 – The Way of the Metamodern Burner
Photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash
“Love the quick profit, the annual raise, vacation with pay.
Want more of everything ready-made.
Be afraid to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery any more.
Your mind will be punched in a card and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something they will call you.
When they want you to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute.
Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace the flag.
Hope to live in that free republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot understand.
Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium.
Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion–put your ear close,
and hear the faint chattering of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world.
Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable.
Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head in her lap.
Swear allegiance to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the motions
of your mind, lose it.
Leave it as a sign to mark a false trail, the way you didn’t go.
Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
— Wendell Berry
MANIFESTO: THE MAD FARMER LIBERATION FRONT
“What are we doing with this tyranny of fear?
“We are tearing apart the very fabric of what it means to be human. There is an innate drive in us to stay connected, to stay in one another’s presence, to have fellowship with one another. It’s written into our Constitution that you will not block public gatherings, you will not block the ability for us to get together and practice our spiritual faith, to practice our spiritual experience and if anything is a hallowed ground of spiritual environment it is the birthplace of a child and the birthplace of an elder person about to transition to the other side.
“There are two births that happen to humankind and the first, of course, must be extraordinary. If we could remember it all, how amazing would it have been? When you are in the womb of your mother you can hear sounds muffled and you can hear the voice of your family members, you can hear the bark of a dog, you can hear the closing of a door. It’s muffled, but you can hear it. You can see the light filtering through in the morning, through the skin of your mother’s belly and through the wall of the womb. You can see these transitions of shadows moving by. You can see this beautiful world and it’s all in red hues. It’s reds and oranges, like an eternal sunset happening around you. And then there’s peaceful darkness in the night and it’s silent and you’ve got your mother’s heartbeat right next to you and you’ve got this extraordinary holy of holies. This protected space that you’re in.
“Then suddenly, at the end of nine months, your entire human existence so far only knows this space, you have this catastrophic event where intense pressure is put on you and you’re being covered in microbes as you go down this, and your immune system has never seen this, your whole body has never seen this whole body of life that’s coating you, and you’re in this transitive, dark tunnel of compression… your heart rate is 180 and pushing 250 at moments because you are in this intense physiologic pressure state, and you think you are dying. I think that must pass the tissue level of possibilities… ‘I think I am dying’, because the light is gone and all I’m [experiencing] is crushing pressure…
“And then suddenly you’re in the light and the pressure is gone and you can’t believe the beauty around you. The face of your mother is mind-boggling. There’s a thousand colors in just the iris of her eye that’s looking in your face, and you’re staring at that for a second. And then there’s this halo of light and color from this explosion of filaments out of your mother’s head that we call hair and it’s creating these rainbows of color and so all you can do is stare above your mother’s hair and look at that for a while. And then suddenly there’s this extraordinary scene as it unfolds, of greens and blues and your first sunset. You can’t believe how beautiful the world is.
“And then we go through a forgetting of the magic that we are alive right now. And we forget that we are in an exquisite miracle of beauty every day and we are dumbed down to an existence of drywall box with no microbiome diversity, into an off-gassing plastic car that off-gasses cyanide and microtoxins into the environment and we show up in an office building and in carpeted cubicles that off-gas carcinogens all day long and then we go to a grocery store and pick up a bunch of food that was treated with carcinogens before it was harvested and then we go home and we sit around blue light devices that re-set and screw up our circadian rhythms and we get depressed and we get disconnected…
“And then we go through this extraordinary event. And suddenly there’s darkness in an ICU and your eyesight is failing and you’re starting to see things through the glass darkly again and you see shadows and there’s an intense sense of pressure as your body starts to collapse in on itself. You can’t breathe. Your heart rate’s failing. Everything’s starting to go. And then you go into this dark tunnel. You can hear voices, perhaps, and you have this overwhelming sense of biology is being crushed into oblivion right now and then you come out the other side and it’s more beautiful and more bright than you could have ever imagined and then suddenly that doctor resuscitates you and pulls you back into the body and you tell that doctor, “It’s so much prettier on the other side. I’m ready to go. I’m ready to rebirth. I just found out that I’m fully accepted on the other side. I’m a beautiful creature of light energy and I am excited to be there.”
“The danger that we have right now is not a virus. The danger that we have right now is that we have sterilized ourselves from death. We have created sterility around the death moment, which is ultimately our reason we’re here. We are here for a transformative experience where we find out we are not biologic, we are spiritual beings. We are light beings. We are spiritual beings trapped in a biologic shell for a moment and we have learned to fear all of that and for that, we are missing the beauty of life. We are missing the beauty of the face of our lovers, of the face of our children. We are missing the beauty of one another and we are letting each other die alone out of fear of some genetic material that floats through the air and has since the beginning of time.
“We have the wrong story going on, and it is not a conspiracy theory, it is not some government laboratory. It is the human emotion of fear and we are afraid of our own death, which is our rebirth. We need to reorient ourselves to life. We need to put into line, not just our medical system… we need to put into line our manufacturing and consumer goods industries… we need to put into line our energy and transportation industries… in line with biology. It has shown us how to produce energy cleanly. It has shown us how energy is produced at the cellular level. We could do that. We could put all of it back in line. And first and foremost we need to celebrate life and stop fearing death. And we will act much differently towards each other.
“We don’t need a revolution. We need an evolution. We need to evolve past our fear. And we need to find love. And love is not a thing. It’s not something to be grabbed. It is an experience, and I believe it is through the wisdom of one of my deep friends, Patrick Gentempo gave me this extraordinary gift last year… love is not the fabric of everything. The fabric of everything is beauty and our reaction to seeing the beauty is love. If you feel unloved, if you feel like you don’t know what it means to love yourself or your loved one who is dying right now, then stop trying to generate the human emotion of love and start witnessing the beauty and then you will experience the love. We need to see the beauty of the virome. We need to see the beauty of the microbiome. We need to see the beauty of a human breath. We need to see the beauty of a planet that can breathe when given the opportunity. We need to see the beauty of human touch, a hug.
“When we go back to a normal, I hope it’s not the old normal. We need to find a new normal in these coming weeks. When they say you can go back to your normal activities, do not go back to your normal activities. Act much differently. See the beauty everywhere. Engage with the beauty, most of all in your fellow humanity, and let’s love each other in the experience of each other’s beauty, to realize a much different future.”
—Dr. Zach Bush, MD
“Solace is not meant to be an answer, but an invitation, through the door of pain and difficulty, to the depth of suffering and simultaneous beauty in the world that the strategic mind by itself cannot grasp nor make sense of.”
― David Whyte, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words
When I went to bed last night, I asked Spirit to deliver me a song in the morning… a song that is meant to be shared… now… a song that represents, near perfectly, what PATH of Authentic Voice is all about… Power, Acceptance, Truth, Heart… that reveals for us all to witness, a person wrangling all aspects… under extreme and challenging conditions… as we all are at this very crucial point in time…
Spirit answered. A song was delivered in the eerily quiet early hours that are normally humming with commuter traffic. That song is… Quiet, from Matilda the Musical. I can honestly think of no other song to run through, what I call, the PATH filter. I am intimately connected to the music from this show, having immersed my body and soul in it last year, with three days to integrate and embody the execution of each and every facet of intricacy, under immense pressure, and five weeks of performances as pit conductor and pianist. The intensity of the situation required that I rigorously work every Personhood Pillar (Power, Acceptance, Truth and Heart) throughout the process and as I was watching the main protagonist and her allies do the same onstage and with the incredible cast, so adeptly playing the parts… our collective skin totally in the game.
Matilda, our heroine in this classic Roald Dahl story, is a brilliant ‘little girl’ and a ferociously large Spirit, who bears, until the triumphant end of the story, the horrendous conditions as repeatedly set before her by her parents and, adding to misery and insult to injury, the terror-invoking school and the astonishingly abusive headmistress and corruptly crazed, Miss Trunchbull… each ‘adult’ representing and inflicting what is dreadfully misguided authority. Despite said misery, Matilda continues to stand for what she believes is right and just, even as those around her continually, and even gleefully, lean into deception, violence and blood-boiling, exploitative injustice.
So, have a listen to our song…
Now, let’s talk about Power, Acceptance, Truth and Heart, as it relates…
In this pivotal moment in the show, Matilda enters into, what can be described as, a trance state… the world in all it’s ugly madness is spinning around her and she dramatically splits off from her immediate surroundings and paints for us a sharply focused picture of her vividly perceptive inner world, culminating in the following, lyrical epiphany…
And though the people around me.
Their mouths are still moving.
The words they are forming.
Cannot reach me anymore!
And it is quiet.
And I am warm.
Like I’ve sailed.
Into the eye of the storm.
Indeed, she has… ‘sailed into the eye of the storm’. She enters the liminal state that readily arises from being connected with one’s Power. She realizes, in this preciously sacred moment, that no matter what is going on around her, she is Sovereign and she truly realizes that she possesses the ability to respond, rather than react, in any given situation (the key component of my own personal definition of what being empowered means) and that the state she has achieved is available to her at all times and, more importantly, that no one can take that away from her… not on her watch.
The beginning of the song indicates her struggle against the troubling ‘reality’ surrounding her. Once, however, she shifts into the Quiet, she is surrendered into a state of Acceptance. Acceptance is not the same as tolerance. On the contrary, she strongly rails against that which she is no longer willing to tolerate and what she decrees to be reprehensible human behavior. It is only from this place of Power and Acceptance, however, that she can truly take in the circumstances around her and respond in ways that are True to her Sense of Being.
Matilda pulls no punches. When she sees someone acting out of integrity and intentionally disadvantaging her fellows, she calls it out. Feet wide, chest puffed, hands on hips, she decries robustly, invoking a deathly and cathartic silence…
“That’s not right!”
Throughout the show, she uses her Voice to stand up for her herself and her peers… for peace, kindness and, ultimately, Love…
It is Matilda who, at the end of the story, when given the opportunity to wield retribution against her egregiously abusive father, by a Russian mob boss who is, himself, hungrily eager to cook the crooks goose for undercutting him… She, Mighty Matilda, says,
“… this is a very tempting offer. But he is my father. And I am his daughter. I think I’ve had enough of revenge.”
Her father knows that he’s gotten off lucky and that it is only through Matilda’s mature and wisely sophisticated Heart that he escapes with his life. Finally, in an unusually sincere gesture of tender, loving, kindness, he then releases her to the care of her teacher, Miss Honey, who has rallied for Matilda’s well-being from the very beginning.
So, back to our song. This flash capture in time, and the story of Matilda itself, offers us an extraordinarily poignant reminder and invitation to be in active relationship with Power, Acceptance, Truth and Heart. The fundamental state that makes it possible for all four to emerge, grow, and become strong, with insightful and potently profound clarity is… Quiet.
As life circumstances swirl around us, whether or not pandemic in size, it is imperative to remember that we do possess the ability to actively practice and conjure Quiet. However challenging the times, for us to transform what is no longer tolerable and/or workable into sustainable systems and ways of serving the highest good of all, a whole and healthy relationship with Power, Acceptance, Truth and Heart, and Quiet, is essential.
There comes a time…
A time for primordial proclamation… Phonic Vibration, announcing ‘time of death’…
The point of no return.The entry into everything…
Enough. No more.
I’m done. Absolutely not.
EXIT, stage any direction.
Invoking not, ‘truth or dare’.
Was blind, now I See. My Truth… has set me free.
With Love…With Gratitude…
Rest. In Peace.