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Learning To Boogie With The Boogieman

September 27, 2011

In the past few days I encountered the best of both worlds: The delicious, nurturing feminine, and the bracing, nutritious masculine.

On Thursday night, Shelley and I made love. We’ve been together 11 years now, and, although our bodies are ageing, the sex keeps getting better because it keeps getting deeper. We enter a zone of connection that seduces me open and bathes me in sensual splendor, until I enter something of a heightened state of aliveness. It’s a kind of communion, and through her I catch a glimpse of the divine feminine.

And then, over the weekend, I was out in the woods with 80 crazy motherfuckers for 30 hours of wild abandon and balls-to-the-wall adventure.

Without this annual men’s work; without the Sterling men’s weekend I did long ago, and the ongoing men’s groups (we call them teams) that grew out of it, I’d be more susceptible to the typical male maladies of ego inflation and isolation (funny how they go together). And I’d also have no healthy male pride.

But I digress.

During last weekend’s gathering, I got to confront my own worst fear, the fear of death. I got to see that my dance with death is in a sense the only dance there is. Fully confronting it increases my ability to fully live. 

My fear of death is for me the ultimate boogieman, and as I learn how to dance with him, he enlivens my step and becomes the boogie woogie man.

During another part of the weekend, a potent image emerged from deep within me. It was like a gift received from my spiritual side. Appearing as a kind of orb small enough to fit in my hand, and buzzing with energy, it gleams and is spiked with explosions of color, and is empty in the center. The image came to me intuitively, and it was only later I realized it has a connection to last week’s post  on emptiness.

This orb is my being: Wild and vibrant, with a pulsating void at its core. This void is the part of me that is connected to eternity, the part that was around before I took on my body, and the part that will continue after I drop it.

Somehow contemplating this image calms me, and properly arranges my priorities. From this center, my essence, there is nothing — nothing to lose; nothing to fret about; nothing to fear. This sets things straight in my life: There is much work to do, but nothing to worry about. Because everything is truly and fundamentally ok.

From this place, one can be fully engaged while also detached. As Ram Dass said, you approach everything in your world as if every one of your actions and beliefs matter and reverberate across the web of life, while simultaneously keeping in mind that nothing you say or do makes any difference at all.

From this place, even the demons wink. And even my worst fears are friends in the end, like actors who play adversaries on the stage sharing drinks after the show.

So instead of believing in the drama of my life, which means getting lost in it, much like I have done so often, it makes more sense to me now to look at it this way: Sometime before I was born, my soul decided, “Hmmm,  I think what I could benefit from this next time around is to be born of a loving but over-doting mother, and a great but undermining dad.  Then, at a tender age, I’ll lose the mother, and be searching for her replacement a good deal of my life. This will start me on my journey of self-discovery while giving me the opportunity to grow into a man faster without her, and learning how to nurture myself. Then I’ll marry the wrong person the first time, and learn things the hard way, because those are the hard knocks that will cobble my soul into a more well rounded shape. And on top of this, for extra spice, I’ll be born, as the Chinese curse goes, in interesting times. Yeah – that sounds about right. Let’s try that!”

Thinking of the drama of my life this way puts all the chattering monkeys in my head into perspective.

Their main message to me, like those spooky ads for The Fly some years back, is “Be afraid! Be very afraid!”  Fear is the mind’s (or at least my mind’s) most effective ploy for demanding attention. It’s emotional blackmail: Pay me attention or you’ll die! 

But these fear monkeys are actually evidence I’m entering an adventure or facing a challenge, which is true for me now. For there is much work to be done, but everything’s ok. This is the yin and the yang of my life. The masculine and the feminine. The Boogieman and the boogie. It’s all good, I think. I’m not sure. I’m 62 and I’m still just catching on.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 27, 2011 1:28 pm

    Somebody far wiser than I once said that men spend the first part of their lives trying to understand sex and the second part of their lives trying to understand death. Sounds like you’re right on schedule Charley!

  2. Richard permalink
    September 27, 2011 3:34 pm

    Great post, Charley!

    Reminds me of what Werner said years ago: Life is not something you can figure out!

  3. david abramowitz permalink
    September 29, 2011 4:01 pm

    What you’re sayin’, if I may paraphrase, is don’t avoid the void. Excuse me, but don’t avoid the void sounds to me a little Yiddish.

    As for your assertion that ‘the dance with death’ is ‘ the only dance there is,” I personally think that that’s a load of shmihchul. What Ingmar Bergman movies have you been watching? Dance, dance whatever you want. There is no death, so we’re always dancing with Life. Or better yet, lie down, lay down and let the void carry you home . . . until you wake and realize your cat is giving you a long quizzical & forgiving stare.

  4. david abramowitz permalink
    September 29, 2011 4:14 pm

    One final comment, if you might allow me. The void was never just the void, because it was so positively charged and suffused with prayer, to begin with. Your void with sparks coming out of you have nothing, first, to do with you. Don’t get distracted by fireworks. Cosmic fireworks are God’s gift to you. You’re the recipient. You were never The Creator. You’re a second-hand beneficiary like all us pussycats. That’s all I have to say. God bless you and your often brilliantly and playfully insightful posts. Thanks so for giving us all such a sense of shared adventure. Your dance with wonder makes us all want to move! .. .

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