Tag Archives: the seven spiritual laws of success

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Shizuoka: Everything is Good and God

Everything is good and brown. I’m here again with a sunshine smile upon my face. – Jamiroquai (Space Cowboy)

Dear Friends,

Years ago, VP and I saw Jamiroquai perform at a music festival in Finsbury Park. For more than an hour, under a clear evening sky, the crowd jumped, danced and sang until hoarse. It started drizzling, and still we danced.

We all have collective memories and individual memories. Some of us remember where we were when the World Trade Center fell, when Michael Jackson died, when we heard that OJ was on the run, etc. We remember our first kiss, our first time, our first high, etc. I remember all those things, and the first time I heard Jamiroquai’s “Space Cowboy.”

I worked at Urban Outfitters, in the Women’s Department, for six months when I was twenty, and the manager, Scott, had a real thing for Jamiroquai. We all did. The Space Cowboy single, with its multiple mixes and remixes played for months on heavy rotation in the small store.

After work on Thursdays, a group of us would trek to Giant Step or some other small lounge on the Lower East Side or East Village. House, trance and dub step have never been my favorite genres of music, nor have they been forms of music that I can understand while sober, yet I journeyed to Giant Step because a) I was 20 and up for almost anything b) Group activities brought satisfaction c) Three guys on the Men’s Team were hotter than fire (Purple, Jay, and Darryl) and d) I was between colleges and had nothing but time on my hands. We really felt we were living Jamiroquai’s sentiment that “friends are close at hand and all my inhibitions have disappeared without a trace.”

One day, I went to work to discover that Scott had fired the entire Men’s Team. I never found out the reason. The summer wrapped up quickly, as summers do, and we discovered that we were friends of convenience. Making plans to get together rather than simply falling into an impromptu after work shift party are different beasts.

I may be too old now to build solid friendships. Too old or too tired of transient relationships, I’m not sure. Yet, it’s been my fortune to continue to meet wonderful people despite my resistance. A few days ago, S invited me to Shizuoka, two hours from Tokyo, to embrace “mega nature,” as he calls it.

His family’s vacation apartment overlooks the ocean. We slept and woke to the sound of waves  beating on man-made barrier reefs. A special kind of music.

In the morning, we drove into the mountains of Nihondaira for freshly squeezed orange juice. That juice tasted like life/joy/laughter. We were so high in the mountains, we walked amidst clouds. S wound further and further into Shizuoka to show me his favorite spots: a cascading waterfall in a deserted forest, a gushing stream on the side of a mountain, a man-made beach, replete with sand, palm trees and a pirate ship, an all you can eat Italian restaurant with sorbet, ice-creams, various pizzas, a playground with a waterfall in its center, and the busy, downtown streets of Shizuoka City.

Everything is good and green. – Jamiroquai (Space Cowboy)

It’s with good reason that yogis, gurus and zen masters insist upon occasional solitude and reconnecting with nature. Nature is the ground for meditation. Nature’s silence resonates within. Nature is music. Nature forces us to recognize that we are trivial and inconsequential. Nature compels us to see that we are divine, miraculous and part of a greater whole. Nature forces us to recognize that no person is perfect, and that’s okay. (Can you compare to a bamboo tree, a goldfish, a dragonfly?– Maybe).

Aren’t crescendos in musical pieces only the imagined roar of the ocean? Aren’t driving beats in music the imagined joining of sky and sea? Aren’t we dust? Aren’t these memories as sheer as dust?

If you want to make full use of the creativity which is inherent in pure consciousness, then you have to have access to it. One way to access the field is through the daily practice of silence, daily meditation, and non-judgement. Spending time in nature will also give you access to the qualities inherent in the field: infinite creativity, freedom, and bliss. – Deepak Chopra (The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success)

Hope you’re dancing :),

Val

“It’s Getting Frosty,” but “I Hear Music In the Streets”

We keep the wall between us as we go. – Robert Frost (Mending Wall)

Hi Friends,

For the last two days, it has been rainy and cold in Tokyo. However, this morning I walked to work in the rain, grinning like a fat cat, singing “Borderline,” followed by Fulton Street,” then “Victim.” I paused in my tracks for a second, wondering why in hell I was feeling so euphoric, despite the settling chill. When the temperature drops below sixty and the sun’s nowhere to be found, my mood is usually in the toilet. And there I was, on a blustery day, singing on the way to work. To work! What the hell? I wondered if I’d finally gone over the edge into such a state that the only thing that could happen was a sudden and unhappy crash. Then, I got a grip on myself and continued to sing. Why not enjoy a moment for as long as it lasts?

My fear of fleeting happiness wasn’t unfounded. It seems in the past that when I have been deliriously, giddily happy, it was often followed by a period of sadness. Maybe I should rephrase that and say that it was hard for me to hold onto joy… largely because I was unable to bring down the many walls that I’d erected around me over the years. There is an art in appearing to be open and revealing nothing, an art I perfected. Let me tell you that in conversations, deflection is key.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall (…) –
Robert Frost (Mending Wall)

It always seemed the only way to protect myself from being emotionally crushed/devastated was to not let anyone get too close. There were people, who refused to let me push them away, but for almost every close friend or lover I had (the lovers were few), I rejected them when I felt we’d reached our peak of closeness. I’m still not quite sure why up until now I haven’t laid on a strange man’s couch (a professional that is). I systematically, subconsciously, made myself miserable. Things couldn’t be too good; bliss couldn’t be trusted.

Thankfully, many of my friendships were able to recover my temporary insanities. I’ve asked my friends how they would know if I ever truly “lost it,” as many of my past actions have pointed to the road of crazy. They assure me they’d be able to assess my level of crazy and tell the doctors to let me have the bed with the view. Somehow, I feel this note is repaying one small karmic debt.

Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour. –
Robert Frost (Nothing Gold Can Stay)

Life is fleeting, but for as long as we’re here, our happiness doesn’t need to be. I can trust my feeling of contentment and hold it close; I won’t dim my joy to make others who want to be miserable and complain feel better.  Sustainable happiness can be achieved by adhering to the spiritual laws laid out so clearly and concisely by the gurus; the messages I’m holding close to my heart are: Don Miguel Ruiz’s “Don’t take anything personally” (from The Four Agreements),  Deepak Chopra’s “This moment is as it should be, because the entire universe is as it should be” (The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success) and the Bible’s encouragement to “forget the former things; do not dwell on the past” (Isaiah 43:18).

Only good things friends, only good things.

Ciao for now,

Val