memorial day weekend 2014, hbo brought us ryan murphy’s film adaptation of larry kramer’s play “the normal heart”. memorial day indeed.
1981 heralded in what is the most prolific alarm of my lifetime; a mysterious gay cancer that was leveling the souls of a once small number of gay men in american urban meccas with the voracity of weed whacker on a summer day on cul-du-sac. the real difference however was that the force behind the whacking seemed at once mercurial, invisible, and personal. and as hiv machete(d) a path through our lives those early years, it left deep and cavernous scar tissue that remains tender now and will remain so most likely to our end of days.
the first in our circle that i can really recall was john bennet. and i behaved like a complete ass towards him. he was a friend of blue’s and he was whispering in a loud darkened corner of the manhole about his diagnosis. i remember reacting to the news with complete and caustic judgement. how dare he pick such a place to disclose? so inappropriate. john slipped away within weeks. i saw him a couple more times and silently screamed at the horror of his weight loss and the onset of a death mask that became so damn common in our circles.
the biggest trauma for me was twofold. my bestie paul had moved to nyc to attend columbia. he was such a cutie-pie; handsome, intelligent, funny, awkward, and loving. he was buff and beautiful. he was ready for the 80’s. 2 years later he moved back to chicago having lost 1/3 of his body weight while learning to cope with constant diarrhea and thrush. we had become friends through restaurant work and soon moved on to food nerds and wine snobs as well. i remember upon his return going to dinner at a new tapas restaurant on halsted and witnessing his tears as the food we shared seared into his über delicate tongue like a branding iron.
i tested positive the same year paul died. the war front atmosphere of life for this gay man became too much to even pretend to handle. cocaine and vodka acted like a key to the door of my cellar of ignorance and i went there as often as i could. please don’t read this as “oh woe is me”. i don’t know many gay men and women who don’t still carry trauma from those years. it was much like that movie inception where the world starts to fold up on itself like a fold up chess board but with us as the pieces still remaining in play. that sort of experience takes time to comprehend, let alone move beyond.
i found the hbo production to be a beautiful gift. i think it is enormously thoughtful and detailed. it captures the essence of that time for me. i remember viewing actup the same way i reacted to john bennet. with judgement and avoidance. frankly, i don’t do conflict well. i learned early on that tuning out was my drug of choice and so faced with these hard realities, i did the only thing i knew.
but thank goodness for larry kramer, actup, and the revolution. i am so indebted to their ability to be present in that amazing crisis. i cared for people who needed it, but to have the where-with-all to scream at injustice like a scene from “invasion of the body snatchers” seems prolific and monument-worthy. as a culture, we were not prepared for any of this. we snapped and bitched at each other out of terror. it took years to find common ground and resolve. it took thousands of memorial services, funerals, and volunteer hours.
it was a complete loss of innocence for our people. there was a very short and immensely beautiful adolescence before we were thrust into adulthood. then there is ptsd, chemo-like medication, survivor’s guilt, repressed anger, and aging. don’t get me wrong. i love my life today. i love being sober. i love my vocation and being able to offer support to others. but i do still miss those days and those beautiful souls. and i would step back for a minute. even knowing what was coming.
Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols… Thomas Mann
thank you larry kramer. thank you peter staley. thanks to so many of you for guiding the ship while i threw up over the side. i honestly regret not seeing your inner light back then. i needed you. we needed you and never were able to recognize it, let alone appreciate how important expressing our anger would be and how far that would help us travel. and we helped our community and our world step into a new century with insight and understanding beyond imagination.
denver is having a truly beautiful spring snow on this sunday. the tulips and the daffodils are suddenly wearing white faux furs and the sky looks like a humongous cumulus cloud trying to blanket the foothills.
i went to a meeting today, committed to a speaking gig next saturday, secured dinner plans for after that gig, and replaced a wiper blade that fell from my car on the drive home during the snow.
broiled a filet, steamed an artichoke, made béarnaise sauce (a little vinegary) and nestled in and watched some reruns of white collar and man of steele.
i felt a little numb after last week. a couple of guys i know are in the hospital with complications from end stage liver disease. sadly, they have not become willing to stop drinking alcohol. it’s doubtful they will. i don’t know if i will ever get used to feeling helpless. but being a witness for others is part of my role.
i always use to say that i loved getting 2 dozen roses because they were so incredibly beautiful. i also used to keep them and admired them as they withered, died, and dried. i can’t say i feel the same for humans though. not the same experience whatsoever.
took my mother to see hotel budapest on saturday followed by lunch. the movie was as gaudy as the marble in the lobby of the hotel and i found it refreshing. it was a farce that didn’t try to hard, but hard enough and it included so many familiar faces that it was almost like watching the golden globes.
i changed that medication today. we’ll see within the next two weeks whether i have an allergic reaction (toxic) or not- yippee!! borrowing time really does have some built-in costs.
going back to the 70’s- the group was average white band- they had a couple of hits that i remember. this is a cover which is longer. i found it to be well done.
i have just returned from a bi-annual check up. i have a good relationship with my doctor. he asks me what’s been going on in my life and how i am doing. i talk about some stress, some over eating, some depression, some things that are working well.
he shares the results of recent bloodwork. i am expecting all good news. mostly it is, but there are reasons to have concern. i have gained weight over the last few years. i am eating too much sugar and although not diabetic, i am tipping. there is a repeat of blood in my urine which could mean several things – if anything. i might have to change my hiv meds. i might have to dig deeper (ouch) to find if it might be early signs of kidney cancer. swabs of my cheeks are taken to determine of i might be a good candidate for an alternative nrti and nnrti combination med. it is almost time for another colonoscopy.
this was a tall drink of water for me today. nothing immediate, but much more to think about than i prefer. i have been hiv positive since 1985, so truthfully all this time is bonus. that is my bassline. i know that in my heart and in my head. but sometimes, i whelm over when i hear all these things i have to be on the lookout for. i escaped “carousel” already- but not forever.
i have recently stumbled upon sam smith’s voice during my online treks. his range and his volume have captivated me. the sounds seem other-worldly to me or at least transcendent. i could listen to him over and over- and prolly do. hopefully you will hit play while you peruse these 100 quotes about yoga and happiness.
Here are 100 quotes I find inspiring:(reposted from elephantjournal.com)
1. “Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice. Better than knowledge is meditation. But better still is surrender of attachment to results, because there follows immediate peace.“ Bhagavad Gita.
2. “When you don’t have any money, the problem is food. When you have money, it’s sex. When you have both, it’s health.” Marilyn Monroe.
3. “Our bodies are our gardens—our wills are our gardeners.“ Shakespeare.
4. “It is health that is the real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.“ Mahatma Gandhi.
5. “Wellness is a connection of paths: knowledge and action.” Joshua Welch.
6. “He who takes medicine and neglects to diet wastes the skill of his doctors.” Chinese Proverb.
7. “It’s bizarre that the produce manager is more important to my children’s health than the pediatrician.“ Meryl Streep.
8. “He who has health has hope and he who has hope has everything.“ Arabian Proverb.
9. ”Nobody can hurt me without my permission.” Gandhi.
10. “When the mind is exhausted of images, it invents its own.“ Gary Snyder.
11. “The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this lifetime.“ Sogyal Rinpoche.
12. “The part can never be well unless the whole is well.” Plato.
13. “Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it.” Ray Bradbury.
14. “You only lose what you cling to.” Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha.
16. “If while on your way you meet no one your equal or better, steadily continue on your way alone. There is no fellowship with fools.” Dhammapada.
17. “What each of us believes in is up to us, but life is impossible without believing in something. “ Kentetsu Takamori.
18. “Do not ask for less responsibility to be free and relaxed—ask for more strength!“ Shengyan.
19. ”We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace.” -Eat, Pray Love
20. “Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.“ Buddha.
21. “Health and cheerfulness naturally beget each other.” Joseph Addison.
22. “Diseases of the soul are more dangerous and more numerous than those of the body.” Cicero.
23. “Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.” Plato.
24. “You can set yourself up to be sick, or you can choose to stay well.” Wayne Dyer.
25. “Want to be happy? Just be yourself.”Author Unknown.
26. “The most important pieces of equipment you need for doing yoga are your body and your mind.“ Rodney Yee.
27. “Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” BK Iyengar.
28. “Do it with passion- or not at all.”
29. “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” Irish Proverb.
30. “The affairs of the world will go on forever. Do not delay the practice of meditation.“ Milepa.
31. “Water, air and cleanliness are the chief articles in my pharmacopoeia.“ Napoleon I.
32. “Change is not something that we should fear. Rather, it is something that we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they’re meant to be.” Author Unknown.
33. “Yoga is the fountain of youth. You’re only as young as your spine is flexible.” Bob Harper.
35. “Simplify” Author Unknown.
36. “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful—that’s what matters to me.” Steve Jobs.
37. “Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory.” Sri Pattabhi Jois.
38. “The beauty is that people often come here for the stretch, and leave with a lot more” Liza Ciano.
39. “Don’t just do something—sit there!” Unknown Yoga Quote.
40. “To perform every action artfully is yoga.“ Swami Kripalu.
41. “Yoga has a sly, clever way of short circuiting the mental patterns that cause anxiety.” Baxter Bal.
42. “Yoga is invigoration in relaxation. Freedom in routine. Confidence through self control. Energy within and energy without.” Ymber Delecto.
43. “Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God.“ Krishnamacharya.
44. “Anyone who practices can obtain success in yoga but not one who is lazy. Constant practice alone is the secret of success.” Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
45. “You control your happiness, no one else.” Author Unknown.
46. “Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind.” Patanjali.
47. “Yoga is the perfect opportunity to be curious about who you are.” Jason Crandell.
48. Healing Through Diet: http://embed.ted.com/talks/dean_ornish_on_healing.html.
49. “Yoga exists in the world because everything is linked.” Desikashar.
50. “Through meditation and by giving full attention to one thing at a time, we can learn to direct attention where we choose.” Eknath Easwaran.
51. “The best way out is always through.” Robert Frost.
52. “The groundwork for all happiness is good health.” Leigh Hunt.
53. “Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.” Mary Radmacher.
54. “The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.” Abraham Maslow.
55. “Happiness is a state of inner fulfillment, not the gratification of inexhaustible desires for outward things.” Matthieu Ricard.
56. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.“ Hippocrates.
58. “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. “ Jim Rohn.
59. “Live, travel, adventure, bless and don’t be sorry “ Jack Kerouac.
60. “A mind free from all disturbances is Yoga “ Patanjali.
61. “All of man’s difficulties are caused by his inability to sit, quietly, in a room by himself. “ Blaise Pascal.
62. “Worries are pointless. If there’s a solution, there’s no need to worry. If no solution exists, there’s no point to worry.“ Matthieu Ricard.
63. “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.“Author Unknown.
64. “The yoga pose that you avoid the most you need the most.” Author Unknown.
65. “Intelligence comes into being when the mind, the heart and the body are really harmonious.” J Krishnamurti.
66. “Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past, or a pioneer of the future.” Deepak Chopra.
67. “In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” Deepak Chopra.
68. “Make the driving force in your life love.” Dr. Oz.
69. “You must find the place inside yourself where nothing is impossible.“ Deepak Chopra.
70. “If you want to find God, hang out in the space between your thoughts.” Alan Cohen.
71. “Happiness is a state of inner fulfillment.“ Matthieu Ricard.
72. “When you live your life with an appreciation of coincidences and their meanings, you connect with the underlying field of infinite possibilities.” Deepak Chopra.
73. “That one I love who is incapable of ill will, and returns love for hatred. Living beyond the reach of I and mind, and of pain and pleasure, full of mercy, contented, self-controlled, with all his heart and all his mind given to me—such a one I am in love. “Bhagavad Gita.
74. “A man should look for what is, and not for what should be.“ Albert Einstein.
75. “Happiness consists in realizing it is all a great strange dream “Jack Kerouac.
76. “Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length.” Robert Frost.
77. “Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” … Margaret Lee Runbeck
78. “Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours.” Swedish Proverb.
79. “Your health is a state of mind.” Author Unknown.
80. “Sleep is the best meditation.“ Dalai Lama.
81. “Silence is not silent. Silence speaks. It speaks most eloquently. Silence is not still. Silence leads. It leads most perfectly.” Sri Chinmoy.
82. ”Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” Gautama Buddha.
83. “You pray for good health and a body that will be strong in old age. Good—but your rich foods block the gods’ answer and tie Jupiter’s hands.” Persius.
84. “To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” Buddha.
85. “Yoga is almost like music in a way; there’s no end to it.” Sting.
86. “Yoga science is not just a scholarly pursuit. It is a moment by moment and thought by thought practical guide for living. “ Leonard Perlmutter.
87. “This yoga should be practiced with firm determination and perseverance, without any mental reservation or doubts.” Bhagavad Gita.
88. “We all wish for world peace, but world peace will never be acheived unless we first establish peace within our own minds.“ Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.
89. “You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.” Alan Wilson Watts.
90. “The best fighter is never angry.” Lao Tzu.
91. “Even if things don’t unfold the way you expected, don’t be disheartened or give up. One who continues to advance will win in the end.” Daisaku Ikeda.
92. “We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.” Hermann Hesse.
93. “It is my conviction that there is no way to peace—peace is the way.” Thich Nhat Hanh.
94. ”Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way love makes you move. Move the way joy makes you move.” Osho.
95. “Without inner peace, outer peace is impossible.” Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.
96. “Suffering usually relates to wanting things to be different from the way they are.” Allan Lokos.
97. “Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else” Shunryu Suzuki.
98. “A man is not called wise because he talks and talks again; but if he is peaceful, loving and fearless then he is in truth called wise.” Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha.
99. “If there is any religion that could respond to the needs of modern science, it would be Buddhism.” Albert Einstein.
100. “If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” Pema Chödrön.