I’ve always loved pulling pranks, being wild, climbing the highest of trees, pulling stunts to get people to laugh! I equate humor with high intelligence, and anyone who can’t laugh at life ain’t my favorite. Imagine how pleased I was when I started on the seeker’s path and heard from one of my teachers for the first time (consequently, I’ve heard it so many times from so many sources) — that —
One of the most obvious signs of how enlightened we are is an incredibly light sense of humor.
And since I’ve always been fascinated with this thing called enlightenment … how delighted I was to know that doing funny, weird, inexplicably strange stuff, as I have always been compelled to do, wasn’t just being a clown, or a jerk, or annoying, as I’d sometimes wondered about myself—but maybe just okay. And maybe, just maybe, being a funny-kid was just part of being me. So I stopped worrying about it.
One of the first things I did as a kid was to go around trying to sell a stash of Easter Seal stamps I’d found among the basement junk. I thought, ‘How cool! I get to sell these for pennies, and the joke will be on the unsuspecting person at their front door, because I’m just a kid! I’m not an Easter Seal person. haha.” The joke backfired, of course, when my neighbors ratted me out to my parents and I got in trouble. For a six-year-old this was my idea of being brave enough to follow through on what I felt coming from inside me.
Where was the source of this stuff inside me? Who or what was directing me to be so mischievous? When I reached my teens I leapt onto this questioning quest of mine and threw myself into the seeker’s life. I started off looking for Nirvana (which I’d read about) under tree stumps, behind rocks, in secret cave openings everywhere I went, but always in natural settings. The forest. The rocky cliffs, the waves. The tops of those tall trees I mentioned earlier. Until I fell out of one, wrecked my back, and thought I was dying because I couldn’t catch my breath. My first narrow escape. But I kept looking for this Nirvana thing.
It would take me finding meditation, in 1967 or ’68 when I was initiated into Transcendental Meditation, to discover that Nirvana was right inside me. Not anywhere on the outside. And when I found that place within, it didn’t take courage for me to leap into it. It was as natural as breathing, to go as deep as I could, inside myself.
The spiritual adventure started daring-me “to do courage” every time I felt the impulse to create arise from inside me. Merrily, I took the dual-road of being both an artist and a writer. Sometimes I felt the impulse to create so strongly, from each aspect, writing and arting, that I literally was turning my head in one direction, then another, then back to the other, between art-making supplies and the paper upon which I could write. After experimenting with how to balance this impulse to create that arises from inside, I finally learned to do both, writing and arting. It took years to balance these impulses.
The courage to create that arises from inside led to focusing on that exact subject. Because of course when an artist or a writer does “their thing” —they have a topic, a focus, a theme they usually wish to explore. Sometimes it’s just a story. Sometimes it’s to prove a point. Sometimes it’s just to have fun, be mischievous, or scratch an itch.
When I feel the impulse to create, I follow it, and don’t question it. I no longer try to talk myself out of it, or say “That’s too weird,” nobody will unravel the knots, or you’re foolish, nobody will “get” these symbolic puzzles. Like, the puzzle of why I sold really old Easter Seal stamps. What was that? A Duchamp-ian performance piece in suburbia? Why not just a kid having fun!
This now leads me to reveal what happened the other night. I still can’t quite believe the antics my “inside me” leads me to. But like I said, I no longer question these impulses, I just follow them. Fortunately, nobody has ever gotten hurt, too terribly shocked, and I always manage to get a few laughs, and now maybe you will, too.
The story of the boob and the box
My consort Carter was away on a business trip. That day we’d had our house’s thirty-year-old electrical box replaced, a big deal for any homeowner. I wanted to send Carter a photo of the new electrical box, big and grey and shiny and impressive with all the wires having new home-switches, professionally organized, and not at all dangerous anymore.
From within me came the spontaneous impulse: “Oh, send a photo of the box with something else really special! That’ll be a real statement, a sign of my highly developed sense of humor, a good chuckle for Carter, at least that!” Oh yeah. That’s my mind.
So naturally, because this was a box we’re talking about, I thought, “Boob.”
That’s right. From deep within myself, for no good reason (where’s the sense of a little kid going around selling used Easter Seal stamps? Unless I was a mastermind-crook in training, this illicit exercise possibly might have signaled an inevitable attraction to a life of crime. But it wasn’t that. It was just good clean stupid fun, why not!)—boob and box, that made perfect sense to me.
A boob (mine) and the box (ours) made absolute and completely rational sense to me as a “message” art-piece. I’d never taken a photo of my boob before. I thought, “This is so cool! Carter will get it! Won’t he?” There was never a doubt in my mind that my beloved, a funny, eccentric creative artist in his own right (two feature films under his belt) wouldn’t understand this creative impulse that arises from deep within. (no, you will not see the photo here!)
Okay, the back story here is that my phone was malfunctioning this night. I’d wondered why I hadn’t received the text a friend told me he’d sent, when he finally phoned to tell me he had freshly caught fish to deliver (don’t ask! this is 10pm in St. Augustine, Florida, where things like this happen all the time, if you happen to have fishermen as your dear friends).
By now I’m sure you know where this story’s going. That’s right: Malfunction junction. Texts gone awry. Internet misfires. Swearing off sexting, And naturally, the gorgeous shot of my nicely lit, well arranged boob smack in front of the new box, with my face hardly discernible in the shadows, got lost somewhere in cyberspace. I didn’t know this, however, until I greeted my consort Carter in our next morning’s Hello-phone call, “How’d you like that text I sent you last night, sweetheart?” and Carter said, “What text?”
A loud gulp. Disbelief ringing in my ears. What!? How could my boob in front of the box, my masterpiece of impulsive creative messaging, possibly have gotten—lost! No! It can’t happen. It’s MY boob. It was meant only for my lover, my man, my cherished double-me.
Swiftly I got off the phone with Carter and checked my texts. Cringing, thinking that could I, no! I couldn’t have sent it accidentally to my kind, old-fashioned, bachelor fisherman friend, who’d come over to deliver a blue, a mackerel, a sea trout, nicely cleaned and ready to eat, at 11pm? No, I shivered, I couldn’t have. Looking at my text stream, I found I hadn’t. Phew! But—hold on—it gets weirder—the text stream showed me that it’d been inadvertently sent to the other name on my recent texts that began with the letter “C” as Carter’s does … our son, Cully.
Immediately I sent texts, phone calls, emails, everything! begging my stepson Cully’s forgiveness for ruining his life by his getting that weird sext from his baggy old stepmom. Carter, when he found out, laughed and replied “That’ll cost us another couple grand of counseling to help the poor guy get over it”. Even though Cully is now thirty, Carter knew rightly that my sext would cause severe trauma, making up for all the wonderfness I’d showered on our two kids all the years I’d been a good, well-meaning and oh-so-properly-behaved stepmom.
When Cully finally wrote back, he said simply, “Nope, never got it.”
Another loud whew!
So—where did the boob sext go? (the caption read, “how do you like our new box?”)
Did it matter?
I rebooted my phone, again got the texting to function as it always had, and counted my lucky stars that my creative impulse, as weird as it is, hadn’t ruined my life (or Cully’s) on this gigantic boo-boo boob.
But—the other times? Did they end as well, and as innocently?
Like the time I drove away from Victoria’s dinner party? The party where I was the only one not drinking (yup, sober for 35 years!) yet somehow no one managed to create as much of a loud ruckus as I did, while driving off. How do these creative courageous burps from our naturally inspired impulses end up being so … funny one moment, and so pathetically inane the next? Ahhh, creativity. Courage. Yup!
As I drove away from Victoria’s that recent cold winter night, with the windows rolled up tightly, the radio came on just as loudly as I had left it when I’d parked, hours earlier, arriving for the potluck. Driving slowly away from Victoria’s and listening to the jazz station playing that Saturday night, as it does every Saturday, I shouted to myself, “Good God! They call that music!” I couldn’t believe how awful it sounded. The noise was atrocious! The notes discordant, the harmonies nonexistent. I’m a jazz fan but I thought as I drove slowly away from Victoria’s on her deserted street, “This is the absolute worst composition I have ever heard in my life!” And it went on and on. The rattling, the YokoOno-like screams and terrors of what someone chose to call jazz but I, now irritated, shouted loudly to the radio station, “You call that crap music!” and finally, after a few more moments of waiting for some musical respite, some relief to the ear torture—I shut the radio off. And drove on, sighing, enjoying the silence of the serene night as I meandered through the darkened streets of my hood to my house, ten blocks away. Not a single car did I see. Not a single person walking their dog. No one was anywhere that dark, near-midnight, now-finally-quiet night.
As I opened the front door of my house my cell rang. I looked and was surprised to see it was Victoria.
“You didn’t stop!”
“What do you mean?”
“We were screaming at you to stop driving!”
“What are you talking about?
“Your car was parked right next to my recycling bin, and when you drove away your car caught and dragged my recycling bin underneath, letting loose everywhere broken wine bottles, empty cans, glass jars, all over the next two blocks! We tried running after you, screaming to get you to stop but … I guess you didn’t hear us!”
No … I hadn’t.
The creative impulse sometimes is so strong … erupting from deep within … that it blocks out the naysayers, the truth-sharers, the thought-catchers. The critics, and the finger-pointers, too. I love this creative impulse! I want to always be courageous and follow it! I shout that loudly right here, right now! I just hope I don’t hurt anyone, in the process.
So, as quickly as I made sure I didn’t have to run back to help clean up (“We did that right behind your car, broken glass everywhere, big plastic jugs, jagged sharp tin cans, you silly deaf goose!” Victoria thankfully laughing instead of being angry)—I relaxed.
I realized that having the courage to be me, sometimes means taking responsibility for the idiocy, the nonsensical-ness of where creative impulses lead us to, Shenanigans must be fun to be appreciated. I wonder sometimes how much of what I do, the stuff that gets me in trouble, is the Universe’s way of showing us we all need to laugh a lot more than we do. Okay, I’ll be the clown, I don’t mind. LightenUp is my new indigenous name.
I’ll take the clown-role as a good reason for my particular within-me impulse. And here I renew my pledge to always follow joy. It takes courage, to be joyful. No matter where it leads me, I will follow the joy.
So this, my friend, is my definition of courage.
To follow our bliss.
To do that which we don’t understand why we need to do it, but … we must, in order to feel we are being true to who we really are. Make it count, what we’re doing here, on this planet. Be courageous. Be filled with joy, too! LightenUP!
Lovingly laughed at with you,
LordFlea aka teZa Lord