Sunday, February 7, 2010

I'm re-posting this poem just for you Irina TODAY I'M A FILTER

All of the emotions of the universe have gathered into one invisible powerful ball of energy.

And today found a strange place to rest -- My small feeble shoulders!

The energy weighs me down and quickly spreads throughout my body.

Ed is standing at the corner today, as usual, with the community newspaper in hand. No one stops to donate any money to him. He starts work everyday before I do but he's fortunate if he earns $5.00 a day. Today I stop to talk to him as I seldom do. He has two broken arms. In my inquisitive manner I ask him why. He gives me a sheepish smile but his eyes quickly fall to the ground and he falls into a sombre silence. They broke his arm because he did not meet his quota.

The energy spreads to my arms filling them with the desire to hug strangers.

I look down at my blackberry as it beeps with a message. It's my boss. She is a professor, a judge, a prominent lawyer, and a successful business woman, but most importantly she's an advocate for justice. The hospital won't release her unless she finds someone to pick her up following her surgery so she's turned to me for help. Today, she is just a lonely embarrassed woman who does not have one person by her side that loves her enough to rush to her aid.

The energy flows to my eyes, making them gleam with tears of sadness.

At the office I see the young lawyers busily working. Their eyes are black around the corners, and they simply look defeated. They march onwards, exhaustively trying to prove that they are strong women. They lack love in their life - the kind a woman gives to a child, or receives from a man. Instead they menacingly scheme against one another and bitterly complete for the boss' attention. They have forgotten that in the end they may end up like her.

The energy flows to my mouth making it tremble with pain.

On our way back to the office from the hospital, my boss tells me about the nurse who assisted her after surgery. Jackie works 7 days a week because her husband is an alcoholic and a substance abuser. He recently had a car accident and a traumatic childhood memory returned to him. My boss tells me they call that post-traumatic memory gain. He was raped by his teacher when he was younger. They sued but collected $20,000.00. The good news is that their lawyer made $70,000.00. Now Jackie struggles to keep a roof over her children's head and hope in her husband's heart. She can't stop to think about her own emotions.

The energy flows down to my legs, making them want to give in and turn into imaginary wings so I can fly to an alternate universe.

The energy flows through my blood streams and gathers again in one spot- my heart. My poor heart sets to work pumping, aching, longing, churning and working overtime. My brain picks up the signals from my heart and orders my whole being to emanate love and peace, to surrender myself to God and to be thankful for all of my blessings.

The ball of energy is now transformed and it radiates from inside me, back into the universe.

It now consists only of Pure Love.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Meeting the Meastro- Gailon

Paolo guides me down the pavement from the mountain-top until we take a turn into a hidden trail amongst trees and bushes. It is pitch black save for the low light emanating from the flashlight in Paolo’s hands and I struggle to see ahead. Steep slippery rocks laid in the formation of steps beneath our feet lead a narrow path to the cabin where the Maestro, Paolo and Yolanda reside.

I’m afraid of all that is around me - the darkness, my shaky legs that may give in and send me tumbling down to my death, facing the unknown, even the sound of the wild animals. Once we reach the wood cabin, Paolo quietly opens the door and ushers me inside. To my left is a little area dimly lit by a lamp. A small wooden chair covered with cushions awaits me across from where the Maestro sits. Paolo disappears into the darkness of the house and leaves me alone with him. I take my seat. A small hello is all I manage to whimper out.

The Maestro does not respond. He simply nods his head and stares into my eyes. I stare back at him. He lifts his palms in prayer position and with a gentle swaying of his head he ushers for me to do the same. I lift my palms, while maintaining eye contact with him. Then we turn the palms of our hands toward one another. We open and close the space between our hands and continue to stare at each other in this bizarre fashion for some time.

He is extremely skinny with long limbs. His shoulder-length hair and loose attire make him look like an old hippie. He speaks “that’s that and this is this. Do you want that or do you want this?”

Huh?!? What the hell is he talking about? I think to myself, but I do not respond.

Time passes. He breaks the silence again: “Who are you? Are you Mona, or are you this?”

I miss my mom. I try to conjure up her face.

He removes his glasses. His icy blue eyes are captivating and capture my full attention. I continue to stare into them. Now I feel naked and vulnerable. Some more time passes.

I drift back into my memories. It was a good night with Alicia, Teo and Shayla when we ate Thai food at our usual spot and exchanged our aspirations. They seemed genuinely proud of me when I told them that I was about to embark on this journey. How silly I would feel if they knew what was going on now.

Growing rather frustrated, and feeling extremely exhausted I wonder how long must we stare at each other like this? Can he see the pain in my eyes? Does he understand the ache in my heart?

We continue to move our hands around in slow motion and stare into each other’s eyes.

Is something supposed to happen? Nothing happens. Feeling defeated, I give up, and burst into tears about how absolutely ridiculous I feel for being in the room with him, especially given the trials and tribulations I’ve faced to get here. Images of my lost romace flash before me and can't wait to go back to the the dark cold temple and smother my wails and cries of horror into a pillow.

He continues staring into my eyes and moves his hands around in flowy movements. He even sways his head side to side and makes dreamy faces. Is he mocking me? I follow along, feeling stupid, tears dripping down my face.

I deflate and release myself from of all my thoughts and emotions for they are too painful. All of a sudden I feel a hot powerful surge of energy between my hands. I expand and condense the energy and I whisper in a smile“I feel it!”

He tries not to smile, but I can see that he is delighted. I continue to play with the energy and stare at him. His face begins to rapidly change. I see the face of an old woman, an Indian Chief and a Neanderthal. My mouth opens half way as I am dumbfounded and in total awe.

“Do you understand…hmmm?!” He asks, proudly.

I nod my head to keep it going.

“That’s that and this is this. Now where do you want to be?”

I can’t speak, and I’m not sure if he expects an answer. I look down at his hands trying to figure out what is going on. “Look at me”, he commands.

I look back at him. I can’t let go of the gaze. I feel his power as he holds me there in a lock.

“You like?!” His mouth is curving into a smile again but he is trying to contain it.

I bubble my head up and down like a satisfied donkey.

We sit there in that state for almost two hours until it is time for me to leave. Paolo accompanies me back to my temple. “Tomorrow, you will come and go to the cabin on your own, ok? See you in the morning”. She walks off into the darkness and I know that I will too the next day, despite my phobias.

Feeling calm and high I walk in, head straight to the bedroom in which I had decided I would never sleep, I crawl into the bed, close my eyes, smile, and sleep like a baby.

Kids don't try this at home

My version of sabzi polo va mahi.
I totally winged this my selecteing some random fresh herbs from the garden. After speaking with my mom, I got two of the herbs right, parsley and leek, but for anyone wondering, reyhoon does not go in this dish. Instead I needed dill.
The correct way to make this is to cut up plenty of these 3 herbs (parsley, leek and dill - the rice is supposed to look green when you're done) and throw it in the rice cooker with your rice. Add two cloves of garlic and a drizzle of oil and salt. Once your rice is ready serve it with tuna or some fresh fish and be sure to add lots of lemon. It's a very simple dish (although I managed to mess it up the first time) and a good reminder of home.
I'll do a better job next time for sure and share it with Gailon, Yolanda and Paolo.

Monday, January 25, 2010

the first day

Paola is waiting for me with a big smile and a sign that reads “MONA, White Cloud”.
The first scent of Costa Rica sends me into a whirlwind - hard to describe the tropical smell- a combination of the dewy aroma of trees, flowers, organic fruits, mixed with a breeze of the ocean and mountains along with the breathtaking air of firewood and earth.

The sound is happy and bustling – various birds chirping and singing, roosters crackling and Spanish music playing in the background with the ever so often friendly greeting of a passerby “bonestais”.

Paola’s eyes are sparkling blue, her face is tanned from long hours in the outdoors, and her muscles are carved from her Tai Chi practice and her work on the farm. Her smile is radiant and contagious. “Are you alright?” She asks me in a light airy voice with a hint of Italian accent as we carry my luggages to her beat-up car. I can’t help but stare at her muscles, her flat chest, her strange Tai Chi attire and wonder to myself about how she would look in the real world - if she were to resume living in a regular society and strive for conventional beauty.

I sit in the car and let out a deep sigh. My journey to Costa Rica has been emotionally exhausting and physically strenuous, to say the least. I have not slept for two days – I’ve been in transit for 15 hours. My first flight from Toronto to Miami had an abnormal amount of turbulence. So much so that the flight attendants could not serve our complementary beverages and the pilot made an announcement for everyone to be careful!

At some point between clenched teeth and muscles I asked one of the flight attendants whether everything was alright. She replied “no, we cannot find good air, but please do not be concerned”. We exchanged fake frightened smiles. It did not help that the lady beside me kept muttering Jesus words. I was convinced that if our plane did not crash, I would surely die of a heart attack.
I tasted death in my mouth and felt fear settle in my bones. My mind wrestled with questions about why I chose to leave home and embark on a journey to a strange foreign land. My heart was wounded from the pain of leaving behind all of my comforts, my loving family, my supportive friends and the possibility of a few more weeks of togetherness with the man I love.

Only then, when my body was about to give in, when my heart was broken, when my spirit was fleeting, and when I thought I was face to face with death did I know for sure that I want to live.
As I was in a panic, a card fell out of my book. It was from Dorsa. Ninja doing Tai Chi. I laughed for a good ten minutes. The lady beside me thought I was crazy. First crying, then holding on for dear life and now laughing so hard for so long.

I faced a major flight delay (while in transit from Miami to Costa Rica), encountered customs problems (not a good idea to bring Persian rice wherever you travel, despite what mom tells you), had to carry four pieces of luggage through numerous security checks ( it didn’t help that I was traveling with American Airlines and that there were heightened security measures in place by the Americans due to a recent bomb threat, nor that my passport read that I was born in Iran) all the while struggling with an emotional and mental war waged inside me.

I was weak, vulnerable and weary as Paola and I made small chit chat. In an attempt to warn her about my state of mind, I began to tell her a little about the man I love – about our last conversation - when he looked me straight in the eyes and just as I thought that he would say his most romantic words to me he said firmly and sternly “Mona, I will never marry you. Not now, not in a year, not in two years.”

All I could do was gulp. Sit there in his car, moments before we parted and sip my tea and gulp down the lump in my throat.

“Why are you saying these things? Are you trying to protect me from myself? To ensure I move on?"

“No, I’m saying them because they’re true. I will not communicate with you. You should not wait for me. I will never marry you”.

“Don’t you think it would have been easier for me to have some hope”? My voice was now quivering and pleading.

“No it’s easier this way”.

I reached over to him, I hugged him goodbye to dismiss his cruel words. I told him that it would not be necessary for him to accompany me to the airport. Finally, in desperation I asked him if he wanted me to hate him.

He broke down into a sob. Between tears he told me “I’m already gonna miss the shit out of you, I don’t wanna worry about you too”. An exchange of compassion between us - I reached over and kissed him on the cheeks, and thanked him for his strength. He told me not to thank him and insisted on coming to the airport to see me off.

Back in the car with Paola, I try to explain my sense of loss, my despair, and my utter heartbreak. She says she understands as she has also experienced the joys of love and endured the sadness of its loss.

We stop to buy groceries in San Jose on our way to the little town of Santa Ana where my destination – the White Cloud Sanctuary- awaits. The supermarket looks like any other I’ve seen in Toronto, or in Germany or Iran. In a scattered fashion I walk around the aisles and try to purchase basic necessities- some vegetables, meat, rice, chicken, grapes, and olive oil. Paola is beside me, encouraging me and kindly assisting me. “You should purchase coffee. You have an espresso machine at the temple”. I think it odd, but I’m pleased to hear that.

We ride up the curves of the mountain on the thin road while cars and trucks whiz by and continue with our chit chat.

I drift back to our moment of goodbye.

“I love you” He whispers in my ear.

“I love you more” I whisper back, in a tremble. Our last embrace- awkward with my mom standing nearby and with people moving hurriedly around us. I’m soaked with a feeling of dread and sadness but like a robot I turn toward my cart of luggage and tread toward the security gate.

Paola interrupts my illusive thoughts “Ah, and here we are at the White Cloud” She says it with as much cheerfulness and enthusiasm as she can mustter, but I know that she is consumed in my aura of sadness which hangs in the air above us like a dark cloud. By the time we have arrived at the temple, which will be my headquarters for the duration of my stay, darkness has fallen around us.

Paola helps me unload my luggage and then she opens the doors to the temple. “This is where you’ll be staying”. Again, she does her best to sound optimistic. I step forward hesitantly and the wood under my feet cracks. I look up at the bamboo–made ceiling and then forward at the Chinese separator which divides the main space of the temple (common area) from the rustic bedroom, kitchen and washroom (my area) in the sanctuary. A surge of self-pity chokes me as the magnitute of my decision hits me like a ton of bricks - this is where I’ll be staying? In the middle of nowhere, on a mountain, in absolute darkness, with no one around, without a telephone, a television, a familiar face, without any shops, streets, people to see? I just cannot control my emotions anymore and I burst into tears in front of Paola. She leaves me to myself and tells me to get ready for a meditation session in an hour’s time.

I put on my Deepak Chopra CD and listen to the recital of Rumi poems. I try to think positive thoughts but I cannot do anything except to kneel down and sob uncontrollably. I change the CD to Bob Marley, reasoning with myself that the reggae melody will lift my mood. No such luck. It reminds me of the Orbit room in Toronto, where a live band plays reggae music for a small intimate crowd. The last time I was there was a week ago when he surprised me and arranged for all of our friends to meet there for my farewell.

I hear knocking on the door. Paola is back. She sees my chriveled body curled up on the floor, looks into my red eyes, touches my weeping face and suggests that perhaps I shouldn’t listen to music. "The Maestro is ready for you", she tells me.
Some of my strange creations

Outside view of temple

The Kitchen and Bathroom