Apollo and Daphne 2.0

Dear Friends,

Wow, it’s been almost a month since my last post! Spring has burst here in St. Augustine meanwhile, and my garden beckons me as much as my writing and art-making. Meanwhile, in the Middle East things have gone from hot to boiling, to wondering if everything will work out for the best, in terms of the upheaval in so many Arab countries. I can’t help but be optimistic that the changes that are, or have already occurred in so many countries, incited by Tunisia and Egypt’s successful overthrown of their oppressive governments, will allow for the formation of new, positive, more-democratic leadership to come forth. But … I am not a political pundit. I’m merely a humble spiritual warrior who sends out the rays of hope and inspiration to as many people as I possibly can touch. All I know is that change, indeed, BIG TIME is happening, and the world will arrive at a better place because of it. But like any change, there is always a time of discomfort and un-knowing, until the new order, the better, the more efficient, more fair, more humane, and more equal-for-all governments come together. We ought all send our mental energies, our psychic powers unlimited (okay, call it prayer if you like!) to the roiling foment happening in the Middle East. Sure enough, what happens in one place in the globe affects us all.

we are all connected--globally

we are all connected--globally

on another note, I’d like to share with you a totally different story. I had sent this in to the Modern Love column in the Sunday New York Times “Style” section, but … it wasn’t used. To get published in that column you have to promise it’s original material, so … I had to save sharing it with my fellow Love enthusiasts (you all!) until now.

DRUM ROLL: brrrrrr……..badi bump de badi…. brrrrrrrr……………rrrrrrrrr……………..

here it is, folks!…. Lord Flea’s version of ….rrrrrrrrr…………. A Modern Loves Story

As an art student I obsessively drew, painted, and fabricated, over and over the same subject. A pair looking for each other. In various settings, costumes, and dramas, the narrative was evident: looking for a mate was my favorite theme.

One day as I filled in a pen and ink drawing with watercolor a friend approached. From over my shoulder, while I remained engrossed in the subtleties of waltzing color to form, airing shapes with vibrancy only the precise hue could impart, my girlfriend exclaimed, “Why, that’s the story of Apollo and Daphne you’re painting!”

the athlete chasing the Divine arboreal-changing-Maiden

the athlete chasing the Divine arboreal-changing-Maiden

“Really?” I chuckled. “And what might that exactly be?” Of course I’d heard of Apollo; who hadn’t? Flashes of a virile handsome athlete whizzed by, someone completely unattainable, wafting a divine form of movie-star ineligibility. And Daphne, wasn’t that just a girl’s name? A foreign one, of some lass from England or Yugoslavia, or some other faraway place limited by a teenager’s knowledge.

The painting I was working on was similar to so many others I’d done, and would continue to do as I searched for my voice as an artist. I put down my brush and looked at it. In the center was a woman-becoming-a-tree, or was she a tree-becoming-a-woman? I didn’t really know. All I cared about was I had to follow the directives of my inner need-to-create. The tree-gal was obviously in pain of some sort. Her face was hidden, downcast. Her long beautiful hair hung in her eyes, something my mother always told me girls only did when they were depressed. But another person occupied this vision of mine.

In the lower quadrant was a male figure with very strong muscles, in a very aggressive posture. He reached out for the woman-tree, but was unable to grab her, since she became more arboreal with each passing moment. Or … was he waiting to grab her when her treeness fell away, fetchingly revealing a female he would then seduce? The man was obsessed with the many-limbed-lady. She refused to look at him.

I didn’t know what the story was with these two. I was just painting, following my muse. Letting whatever impulse that protruded from my fingers happen. Practicing how to limit communication between doing and the machinations of the mind. In time, I’d come to know it was best that way, to keep all arty mumbo jumbo limited to a direct heart link.

My girlfriend continued to explain: “Yes, you’ve created the legend about Apollo, the sun god, who was struck by Cupid’s arrow and fell in love with Daphne, the daughter of some river god. But she, unfortunately, had been struck by a tainted arrow flung by Cupid, and she wanted nothing to do with Apollo. Handsome and sure-footed as Apollo was, Daphne only wanted to romp in the woods, or so she told her father.”

“Oh really,” I said, completely in the dark about this bit of mythology, but interested now. My friend seemed to know more about what I was painting than even I did. “Tell me more.”

the story takes on a modern slant, for all of us to relate

the story takes on a modern slant, for all of us to relate

“Well, Daphne deplored Apollo. So after chasing and catching her, intending to take her as his own whether she wanted him or not—she called out for her father’s help who, of course, heard her and answered her prayers by turning her into the laurel tree—at that very instant. Hence, ancient athletes of Greece decorated their heads with laurel leaves, in honor of Apollo’s love, his perseverance, and other commendable traits besides that of his nearly attempted rape.”

I turned back to my painting as she departed, thinking how odd. How very curious. That I had somehow tapped into an ancient legend, composing a detailed picture based upon a centuries-old—no, eons-old—myth I swore I’d never heard till then.

“Life is weird,” I shrugged. “Maybe it’s the legends and fairytales that make us human. They’re the common denominator to the makeup of all humans, no matter where we’re from or what we believe true. Universal yearnings are what make art worthy, century after century.” I pondered this as I returned to my palette. “These stories must be in our DNA.”

Soon after that afternoon’s revelation—when I became aware of how all of us are living out similar myths, the same yet told in varying shades and hues, the exact same stories as the ancients told each other instead of huddling around their Oracle, or their nonexistent TVs or soon-to-be computer screens—I went to the Fine Arts Museum where I was a student.

That particular day I managed to get lost on my way to where I usually snuck in to munch on a lunch of seaweed rice balls, tucked away in the little-trafficked Buddha Room, which no one seemed to know about besides me.

Disoriented, I found myself in a totally new, obscure hall. Everywhere were ghostly white marble sculptures. Life-size. Very old. Fragmented. With hands and heads missing. And—there he was. I stood frozen when I first spied him. Standing tall, like me. Complete, like me. Nothing missing except his clothes. Unlike me. I’d never seen such a gorgeous specimen of humanity. With life-drawing classes and nude models of all kinds to draw from, I thought I’d already seen a pretty diverse selection. But this statue of a Grecian athlete in the prime of his strength and glory stunned me stupid.

I looked this way and that. No guard. I drew closer. Dare I? Why not, I thought. He’s mine for the taking. With a brazenness that gushed through my veins like a drug I dropped my lunch bag and touched the skin of the strange new presence. My own Pgymalion. In a flash I comprehended this naked stone figure to be my long lost mate. I could not not run my fingers along his limbs, down his waist, feel the ripple of his frozen muscles under my searching fingertips. And then I kissed him. Long and hard. In a trance, with my eyes closed, his marble lips melted to butter. Longer, harder, I had to have the sweet taste of my lover’s mouth on mine. And just as quickly as I’d discovered him … I had to flee when I heard the soft steady click-click of the guard’s hard leather heels approaching.

finally, Apollo and Daphne's story simply becomes all of ours

finally, Apollo and Daphne's story simply becomes all of ours

In the years that sped by, drawing, sculpting, writing about my obsessive subject was how I longed for this mate of mine, in the flesh. I drew us together, entwined, in as many different forms one can imagine. He as serpent-man, me as eagle-woman; he a bee-person, me in passionflower voluptuousness. He, a waterfall; I, the ocean. Always seeking the other half of me, is how I sensed life’s fulfillment to be. A Twoness. I had to find the missing piece to feel complete. To depict being paired, literally or metaphorically, is what intrigued me about art. Political commentary be damned! Social satire, for fools! Religion and philosophy, for squares! Landcapes and still lifes, boring. That hard-earned talent of creating original ideas I dedicated to one thing only: to be absorbed in passion. And in real life I mirrored my artistic longing.

Beeman Pollination Blues, all species, all love--we are ONE

Beeman Pollination Blues, all species, all love--we are ONE

One day a friend of mine brought to my house a traveler, fresh from the jungles of the Amazon. I was on a mission and had no time for interlopers. Immersed in the earnestness of my quest, I nodded “Hello,” barely looking up. The stranger went his way, I went another. Two ships passing in the silent dark of night. One of the minions who were dismissed due to his … well, he just was. After all, I was mesmerized by my Grand Search, the serious business of cosmic connections, discovering the meaning of life, finding the perfect love.

My obsession continued. No suspected rock, that is, man or woman, left unturned in my quest. I had to find the match, my completion: the male-ness that balances female-ness. The yin-yang’ed and shakti-shiva’ed. No one will ever say I didn’t throw myself into exploring the intricacies of love. Some might even label me a love junkie, not I. Yet I never did find my perfect match. They were all false. All turned out to be robbers of my heart, not its nurturer.

Then one day, after two decades of this nonsense had passed, the phone rang. It was that jungle-man of long ago, he reminded me, since I regrettably didn’t remember him. A different friend had told him to give me a call. This time we were both in completely different spaces.

I’d given up looking for the perfect mate. And he, well, he was unattached, unlike before.

Within the first five minutes of hearing his voice, I felt something kick my stomach. When he called again the next day, and the next, we laughed a lot, and talked of both our lives’ experiences, dreams and ambitions. My gut screamed, my head shouted, but my heart—it was calmly aching for him. Even though I didn’t know what he looked like I was feeling real honest-to-god longing for his faceless voice-on-the-phone. I realized this entirely weird new feeling wasn’t going away. So I soon asked him, “Do you think you could send me a photo of yourself, seeing as I don’t remember our first meeting.”

He laughed, and a week later a casual shot of him holding his two small children in two incredibly strong arms arrived.

Staring back at me was the face—and its gesture, the posture and physique—of my marble-lover. This man was the very incarnation of all I’d been searching for my entire life.

Now, you may think we ran off right away to get married. Ha! Life’s too complicated for that Disney-toon. Both of us were in our forties. He had these two kids, like, in full custodial-ship “had.” Definitely a dent in my confirmed bachelorette’s lifestyle. He wanted a psych compatibility test done. I wanted our charts compared. He was into Jesus. I was into Nature and Eastern mysticism.

Two years later we did marry.

I began arting and writing about what I was experiencing: Oneness. I was living and trusting the feeling of completion. The it I’d always been searching for. We two were One now. Even though I hadn’t noticed when he first arrived, I did sense who he was in his voice, his words, twenty-five years afterwards.  Because by then I’d stopped looking and was ready to re-cognize.

This year, 2011, we celebrate our 20th anniversary.

Tell Me a Story, all our stories are as important as those of the "gods"

Tell Me a Story, all our stories are as important as those of the "gods"

Today is Shiva Ratri in the yogic tradition. Everytime we speak aloud the name Shiva (divine consciousness within humankind) we are allowed to ask for a boon. Today I ask for clarity and direction for myself, and a peaceful resolution of the world’s turmoil, especially the upheaval going on in the Middle East.

In the Light, your pal Lordflea

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