Friday, February 11, 2011

don't be mine

Several months ago I flirted with a guy in an eyeglass shop. He was handsome and playful, and surprisingly, he was responding to me, so I gave him my number. Pretty bold move, I thought. At least it was the kind of move that I hadn't made in a long time. Well, he didn't call and I thought nothing of it. Then several weeks later I get a text message from some number I don't recognize. You get the picture.

So he starts texting me and sending me suggestive photos of himself periodically. Certainly I'm interested, as I've already mentioned, this guy is really handsome. But our schedules never quite work out and for one reason or another it doesn't happen. Earlier this week he gets really serious (or horny, as the case may be) and sends me a couple of photos that are more than suggestive, along with a few very specific text messages.

Up to
this point, we haven't had anything more than the most cursory phone conversation; what's your work schedule this week?, This cold weather is way too much for me, stuff like that. So I call him. I tell him that I'm definitely interested in carrying on further, but that if we're going to be entering into an arrangement of this nature (notice how I can't bring myself to use the word relationship - interesting) he needs to know that I'm HIV positive. I'm very healthy and this isn't really a great concern, but for myself, I need to be honest and up front about my situation, and if this is a deal-breaker, I totally understand.

There was silence on the other end of the line - just long enough for me to be uncomfortable. So, I tell him that he doesn't need to say anything, I totally understand, I didn't mean to make him feel awkward, there are no hard feelings. But he stops me and says, no, he's positive too and he can't believe how honest I was being and that he's really surprised and really appreciates it.

Well, needless to say, I'm getting pretty excited at the prospect of this; handsome, playful, also HIV positive, appreciates honesty, libidinous. We arrange to meet during his next day off. I show up at the agreed upon spot at the appointed time, and he's not there. I give him about 15 minutes, then I text him. He's on his way. Fine. He shows up and tells me that it turns out he has to work after all. (huh? you couldn't have told me this earlier?) We sit down for a quick coffee. He doesn't seem to think that his last minute change of schedule, or the fact that he's possibly inconvenienced me at all is worth more than the most superficial apology, but he nervously rattles on about himself, his work, how he hates New York winters, etc.

Now, I don't know where or when I've acquired this skill, but I managed not to say much of anything. I actually listened, and while I was listening I realized that this guy is a completely self-centered flake, and not the kind of person I need to complicate my life with by entering into an "arrangement", no matter how casual.

I am very much aware that Monday is Valentines day, and I would very much enjoy being the object of someone's attention and romantic fantasies as much as the next guy. But at what cost? I'm so glad that lately I am able to notice my own personal growth. When after this rather rushed and disappointing coffee date (was that really a date), I experienced a wave of disappointment and self-pity, it was as if I had walked through a curtain, and once I realized what it was, I had already passed through it. This is a new and most welcomed phenomenon. There was a time, probably not too long ago, when I would have used this episode as self-pity fodder for weeks. The simple truth is that drama of that nature just doesn't interest me anymore.

So I may not be getting any flowers next week, and I'm not jewelery shopping for that 'special someone,' but things seem to be shifting, and my heart seems to be opening in ways I previously couldn't have imagined.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

re entry

It's been almost two weeks since I've been home, and I'm finding that readjusting to my normal life is more challenging than I would have expected. Perhaps I wouldn't find it to be quite so troublesome if it weren't the dead of winter, but the relentless cold and ice isn't making my transition any easier.

I got back into town last Monday afternoon, and had my first class last Tuesday afternoon - the very next day. This is what I would call hitting the ground running. I'm glad that I didn't have a long period of downtime with nothing to do. This forced me to get over any jet lag I may have had, and also made me feel like I had some sort of purpose for braving the persistent bad weather.

I'm trying to hold on to some sense of the serenity that I found on my trip. Not that I was blissed-out the whole time, but I do feel that I did achieve some modicum of spiritual connectedness that had previously evaded me. Even though I continue to mindfully pause, breathe, and ask for Divine guidance, the challenge of finding a practical application for this practice in the face of everyday life seems, at times, almost insurmountable. When I fail, I try to forgive myself, and promise that I'll do better next time.

Being back in the daily swing of dog walking, school, homework, phone calls, meetings, service commitments, speaking engagements, and other people's drama could derail the most serene of Yogis, let alone someone with an imperfect and sloppy spiritual practice, like myself. I know that there are tools that I can add to my daily practice that might help me better maneuver my way through these difficult days.

I haven't located a yoga class yet, like I promised myself I would do, but that promise still stands. I have, however, continued my daily meditation and prayer practice, and I know that being of service to others always - ALWAYS - helps me to get over any personal hump I may be experiencing. So with this in mind, tonight I'm going to speak at the locked-down detox unit of a hospital, and a few days ago I went downtown to the Department of Corrections offices, in lower Manhattan, and spent a couple of hours filling out forms and getting fingerprinted for my new corrections commitment at the Tombs (the colloquial name for the Manhattan detention complex).

I recently read a quote
that I thought was rather provocative and relevant to this topic of service, by the 20th century Taoist philosopher, Wei Wu Wei:
Why are you unhappy?
Because 99.9 per cent
Of everything you think,
And of everything you do,
Is for yourself —
And there isn't one.