June 19, 2009

Tarot: 9 of Wind - Teachers

I was on a grand adventure. The whole year in Italy seemed like a fantastic movie -- getting better and better all the time. I was in Prague for Christmas. My classmate Terra was there with me and being clueless I made no advances. I was living in a dream.

One night we went to a restaurant and were seated next to two English-speaking men. I did not trust them from the beginning. We ate and I got the intuition that the talkative one was not exactly telling the truth. Terra introduced the both of us, "We're artists traveling around." She prided herself on being an artist -- a photographer specifically. After the meal we all went to a pub next door and proceeded to get very drunk, much to the glee of our newfound companions. It was the most incredible beer I had ever tasted - so smooth and fresh. The bar master immediately filled our glasses without any sign from us.

That night Terra and I had tickets to the Opera, Madame Butterfly, and I was excited about the possibility. The two men talked about a house in the country they have and maybe we, or more pointedly Terra, would like to join them for a while. Finally it was time for the Opera and it didn't look like Terra was up to it. But I insisted. I was drunk but could still walk. I had to prop up Terra. During the pub scene it must be noted that Terra seemed to lean suggestively on one of the men. I had seen this flirtation before because she had done it to me. We were not a couple - and never would be. Perhaps she realized this and was making other plans. But I insisted we leave for Madame Butterfly so we stumbled down the beautiful cobbled streets. We finally made it to Madame Butterfly and our seats were good much to my surprise.

Just as the Opera started Terra jumped up gave me her ticket and left. I did not know why she had left or why she gave me her ticket. Then it dawned on me - she was going back to the pub in hopes of an adventure. I did not know what to do - I was the one with the keys to the apartment and she was much drunker than I. So I decided to follow her and found her in the hallway perfectly white. She had just thrown up all over the bathroom. I took her hand. "We should go home now," I said - she nodded looking miserable. Back at the apartment she poured a large glass of water and put it next to her bed. I later found out this was for waking up in the night and being dehydrated. Apparently this was her routine on such nights. She took the large bed while I slept on a small cot. The next morning it was time to part - she needed to get back to Rome and I was traveling on to Berlin for New Years. At the station she left but paused to say "chi videamo" which translates into "see you later" or "I will see you again." I doubted that very much.

In Prague there was no hostel system set up so at the train station there are people that rent out their houses or apartments for a few nights. They ask you what you can pay and then based on that find you an appropriate house. The more you can pay the better the house or apartment and the closer to the inner city. The man who rented out our flat said he had a cheap place for me for a few nights. I remember blankly staring out the car window at night as we drove out of town to a series of huge industrial apartments. I think they took my reticence as being from Terra’s departure apparently thinking we were a couple who had just broken up. The apartment was sparse - not much furniture, a TV some playboy magazines and an empty bedroom with just a mattress, a closet and a guitar. He asked what I wanted for dinner - would steak and beer be OK? I said sure so he left and 15 minutes later came back with a full dinner.

I wanted to phone my friend Nathalie in France and asked how I could pay for the call. We worked something out and I called Nathalie unaware of the time difference. Much to my surprise Nathalie answered and my heart soared.

Nathalie is mythic in my life. My bond with her is deep and intense. I first met Nathalie when she was 16 and I was six or seven. She was a French exchange student living in our house for a year. We bonded on some great spiritual level and though I had not talked with her for years, I still feel the bond - the intense agape that we share. She was living in Provence as a high school teacher. She was obsessed with Jean Cocteau.

While she was living with us as a school project she directed a French play of her own creation for my second grade class. The storyline I have forgotten but my role I remember very well. I was the green dragon. Nathalie knew how thrilled I would be to be the dragon. We spent hours and hours constructing and painting the dragon. The final scene I especially loved for I was to be murdered. Choreographing my slow fall to death plus the appropriate cries and moans gave me a great thrill. There was some controversy for my final words before I died were "Oh Merde!" which translates into "Oh Shit" in English. The one teacher who spoke French shifted awkwardly in her chair about that one. As I think of Nathalie I feel she is one of my Muses. She is an inspiration to me - I carry her in a special place in my heart.

June 2, 2009

Tarot: 4th Daath - Naming the Adventure Calling Me

It came in a sudden flash - what beauty I lived and am living. As Julian of Norwich proclaims - I had a KNOWING. It is a time of reverence and awe when God came down and rested his hand upon my shoulder. Oh great spirit fill me with hope! Hope that will crush my demons. My demons weren't there at that moment for in that moment I saw beyond myself.

Breaking through the looking glass I shattered my image. I was not there any more - I was nothing. The shards of myself falling and falling into the abyss. That is where I dwell at times into the great unknown - the unspeakable - the ineffable. My life is small and great at the same time as is my soul. As an ant I rest. This thought brings great ease to my spirit. As they say I am dust - a mere phantom - From dust I came and to dust I will go. My heart fills with joy at this thought and my worldly problems seem to slip away into the night.

It was that special day - that special moment when I knew my purpose or so I thought - I knew where I came from and where I am going but just as the life of the butterfly - the magic was gone - so beautiful yet so ephemeral. It was grandiose yet tiny - it was the universe yet a single atom. "As above, so below" the wise ones say. Maybe I have an inkling of what this means.

What was the sentence that lifted me to the heights of Heaven in a single moment? My sentence was this, "My art is a search for God." It seems so small when I say it - right now I can only sense a fragment of what I felt at that moment. I pray to God every day to let me into that wonder of wonders once more. I am on a quest - a journey into the unknown. My body rests as my spirit soars.