Monday, 31 March 2014


It's that time of the year again: batten down the hatches, pack up, and leave for seven months for India. I will spend some time with my mother in the city of Chandigarh, meet the rest of my family, have the sort of social interaction I don't have and miss in America, get warm in the Panjab climate, eat Indian food, dress Indian, meet friends, shop to stock up our isolated home in the mountains, find a driver, and make the long, loaded journey home by the stream I so adore, to our dogs, who I have missed, and to our staff, who I have also missed. I won't have to cook or clean, though many chores still remain for me to do.

But each time before this journey from my US life to my Indian one, when all the packing and doing is done (which is a lot), I get nervous and restless. I am in transition, and my body and brain are uncertain about where they are, in the here and now, which feels very transitory, or where they are going. It is not easy to deal with this anxiety, and the only thing that calms it is doing something or the other. Today I spent at least half an hour cleaning out the earrings I have been wearing for so long that they had crud in the holes at the back, where the stones are set. Just doing this calmed me down, but the first thing that calmed me down was a forty minute walk in the neighborhood. There are very few things that a good walk won't won't cure. Like my friend Liz Cisco is fond of quoting (Diogenes), It is solved by walking. And then, it doesn't matter what you do, doing helps.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014


Here are two pictures of the wrist warmers I knit with the leftover wool. They are shiny and garish and I love them! Sometimes when one is feeling a bit old or run down and doesn't have the energy to dress up (or even get out of pajamas!) one can wear them and feel quite alive.

Actually, today I feel like doing nothing meaningful, so here I am, taking pictures, and

Tuesday, 25 March 2014


jag supnaa baajee banee khin meh khayl khaylaa-ay.

Human life is a drama, staged in a dream. In a moment the play is played out.


My Book on Guru Nanak, THE SINGING GURU, will be out in the USA in February 2015, by the publisher who did my other two books, GANESHA and RUMI: Mandala; a play I wrote almost forty years ago, KAMIA, which won an award in India but was never produced, is finally happening on May 4 in Mumbai. It's been a busy time, packing up for a seven month sojourn in India, getting therapy for an aching hip, dealing with getting a driver in India since my old driver, who I love, has gotten another very high-paying job. And of course, as before every journey, the thought of death thrusts itself onto one's consciousness. Last night before falling asleep I imagined myself as one of the passengers on the missing Malaysian Airlines flight that plummeted mysteriously into the Indian Ocean -- all my beloved things, my computer, my files, my seriously guarded passport, the diamond ring Payson gave me on valentine's day, submerged, useless, worthless, my hair floating up like seaweed anchored to my fast dissolving head and brain, organs most of us usually live by and through. It was, all in all, a comforting vision -- to see how in the end nothing matters-- that helped me drift into a deep and almost dreamless sleep.

It is a vision worth keeping close to the heart. It detaches us from things/ people/thoughts/ideas we hold so dear, and in so doing, lightens our loads/concerns/worries, and makes life a joy and daily celebration.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014



We can fall into it, embrace it, when we realize, when our brains can see (it is, ultimately, the brain that seeks meaning) that we are all, without exception, cells in the Body of the Universe, each doing our thing, each utterly essential for its functioning.That even when we perish, we return in a different form of energy to this great Body.


Had been very nervous and unable to settle into anything lately and yesterday, for the first time in a long time, settled into rest, knitting the cockatoo scarf, completing it, and one wrist warmer. When I lay down for a nap yesterday I couldn’t at first settle down and then suddenly fell – no, plummeted – “into insignificance.” That was the phrase that surfaced before I sunk down deep into a marvelous state of rest. There’s so much comfort in being insignificance. Here are the definitions of significant (somehow, when I can’t do much and am not feeling particularly creative, definitions get me going): having or expressing a meaning; meaningful; important; notable; valuable.  

I think most of our problems stem from wanting significance or feeling we don't have it. To whirl away down to zero is our greatest fear but what if we embraced this fear, gave ourselves up to it (as we must do at the final moments of life), sink into it right now, be nothing, not important, utterly dispensable, totally unimportant in the vaster scheme of things, what then? 
Why, then, a deep rest. Sweetness. Play. Joy. 

Saturday, 15 March 2014


I'm making up for all the posts I won't be writing for over a month starting the beginning of April, as I travel to India to be with my mother and then head up to Behta Pani, our home in the hills. I want to say   that doing a thing like embroidering, or knitting, or beading really helps when you are feeling down or desperate. I always have a 'crafty' project for such moments, and for those wonderful spaces in a day when all one wants to do is sit down -- yes, just park that ass in a chair, preferably before a window, so the outdoors is right there beside you, like for me the shimmering of the ocean on these marvelously sunny days, shimmering like a presence -- and do something while doing nothing. Busy hands, empty mind. A few days ago I had a rather bad moment and it was amazing how instantly knitting my current scarf pulled me out of it right away, calmed me down, and changed my course from storm to sunny. These activities are meditations -- not just for the mind but for the eyes and hands. I have got some absolutely stunning wool from The Black Sheep here in Encinitas -- I only bought one ball of it because it was so darn expensive -- $63 -- and am knitting a narrow scarf with it. It is such a pleasure for the eyes! I call it my cockatoo scarf. (Nothing is too expensive when it comes to rescuing you! I might even get another one! A session at the therapist costs more.)

When I have bathed and am looking less scruffy and shlumpy than I am looking now, I will take a picture of it and post it for you.


It seems to me that there are days -- like today, for me -- when sickness, or oversleeping lays you low and you don't know where to begin your day; when your brain has forgotten or is unable to negotiate the day, something simple, like where to begin, for example; when right there, in the very beginning, when you haven't even begun, and find yourself lost, that is the time to put inertia to work. Inertia is that force that keeps everything on track, that keeps you going once you have begun, or keeps you stopped when you have stopped. Then a tiny little resolve -- like, okay, I'm just going to lie down on the floor and do what I can of my yoga routine, begin wherever, and let the body to do its thing -- really helps. This is the reason why we go over and over and over in our routines so that our bodies -- and not just our minds -- remember. So, this morning I began slowly, letting the memory of my body guide me. I did 33 minutes of it, and now I am ready to begin my day by cleaning up my study -- oh what a joy to be able to do this mundane, this heavenly thing! -- picking up the broom, sorting out piles of paper. I am plugged into my day, and sailing along smoothly.


This post is dedicated to my friend Jyotsana Singh who has been encourage me to post pictures of my embroidery.

It's really quite simple. I buy a paisley shawl or stoll and then highlight the patterns already there with a running stitch. here are some pictures. When I first started doing this, inspired by the old jamawar shawls that were both woven and intricately embroidered, I called this shawl my DESPERATION SHAWL. It was after my retirement and I had vast stretches of not writing. this is what I did.


Sunday, 9 March 2014


All my life I have bought clothes -- Payson calls me a clothes horse -- in an effort to look good in a comfortable sort of way. And though I have a bulging closet,when it's time to go out, like last night for the excellent play ACROSS WORLDS that our dear friends Jeff Salz and Alepho Deng wrote together and performed last night in Carlsbad, I feel I have no clothes to wear.

In my spare time I have been thinning out my closet, giving stuff away, but more importantly, I have been rearranging and organizing my closet by outfits. This is about paying attention to an aspect of our lives that matter to us women, bred as we are to think about appearance and our own needs (internalized societal injunctions?) to be 'pretty.' Here's another confession: I like to look pretty! And because I am no longer young (thank God!) and no longer have the advantage of youth, I make up for it by dressing well.

It doesn't take much to dress well. One can work very well with what one has, or even if one has to buy a thing or two to complete an outfit, one needn't spend tons of money. I now shop at the inexpensive stores -- Marshall's, or Macy's when they are having a sale -- because I have come to see clothes as disposable in the sense that one outgrows one's attraction to them. What works in one season/time/year doesn't work in another. It is always good to give clothes away because then they remain in circulation.

But I have gone off the track (tack?): I was speaking about organizing clothes according to outfits. If I wear something that works for me, I immediately put it away as an outfit, together with some jewelry (I make my own with semi-precious stones: in fact, that has been a passion of mine till the last few years), or an accessory, like a shawl or scarf that goes with it. I like to embroider my own, and one of these days I'll get it together to post some pictures.

What I like about all of this is PAYING ATTENTION to all the details of my life. And not only that, but ENJOYING all the details of life.  


You know, I may seem like a pro at the helm in my pictures, but the truth is it was a windless (practically) sunny day, and though it was my first time navigating, it was a no brainer once I understood how the helm works and got into the feedback loop of keeping a goal in mind and steering to it. It's also true that when steering becomes a metaphor for how one lives one's life, I almost drown sometimes and am incapable of saving myself through my own efforts. Then I cry out, in Saint Namdev's words:

I am ignorant, and I do not know how to swim. O my Beloved Father, give me Your arm and save me!

It is the same, final image in the movie ALL IS LOST with Robert Redford. A hand reaches down through the murky water and rescues the drowning Redford who has given up all hope. 

And here is another confession: the prayer works. 

Thursday, 6 March 2014



You simply have to grasp it strongly and steer yourself in the direction you want to go. But first, you have to determine that direction. The only way you can do that is by taking stock of your life at the moment. Where are you? What's working, what isn't? Lists help. Making a list of the things that are working is just as important as making a list of things that aren't. Believe you me, when you have developed an eye for things that are working (and you have to learn to do that) your list of things will be long, long, long. Let me give you an example: I have bursitis in my left hip that is restricting my movements. I am pretty chair bound, though I must make trips for this and that. Well, if I had made a list a week ago of things that were working, I would not have included my hip. I would not have written, hey, I can walk where I like, I don't have pain in my hip! But these are the sorts of things we have to develop an eye for, and give thanks for. So today I say, hey, my fingers, my mind, the rest of my body (and try and count the things there!) are working, are working!

so, when you get down to writing about things that aren't you'll see the list is small. But, whatever it is, you have to take charge and do something about it. For example, somedays I want to be more social than at others and these days I want to have more company. So, I send out emails to my friends, invite some over, and feel connected. There is an inner switch somewhere in us, which, if we turn on, gives us strength, endurance, the power to take charge, to mold circumstances to our own benefit.

Monday, 3 March 2014


Yes, two whole days of it. The garden looks happy, the state is happy, our fields are nourished, the sun is shining again, I got out of bed this morning (unlike so many of our comrades in the battle of life who didn't), I can move, and eat and love and clean my study. What a blessing!


You know, it is the hardest thing to do, and the most necessary. There are circumstances in all our lives that are given, that we can do nothing about. No force, no exertion, no pushing and pulling can change them. Trying to change them causes most of our suffering.

Most religions call it the will of God. If you are more scientifically minded, you can think of it as a given, necessity, that which IS. We don't have a choice about it -- but we can choose to accept it, and ah, that makes all the difference.