Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Teach Us To Be Tender

by Gary Snyder

                                     for Masa

Snowmelt pond      warm granite
we make camp,
no thought of finding more.
and nap
and leave our minds to the wind.

on the bedrock, gently tilting,
sky and stone,

teach me to be tender.

the touch that nearly misses -
brush of glances -
tiny steps -
that finally cover worlds
               of hard terrain.
cloud wisps and mists
gathered into slate blue
bolts of summer rain.

tea together in the purple starry eye;
new moon soon to set,
why does it take so
long to learn to
        we laugh
                       and grieve.

1. Gravity
Fall is the season of harvest.  It is also the season of gathering supplies, hunkering down, and beginning to turn inside.  My mom is visiting tomorrow, which means the house is a clean, tidied haven, ready for the snoozing, lazing, and discovering that visits entail.  The wind roars outside, knocking over summer's helpless rocker.  The chimes ring, the night gathers her skirts about her, and wanders through the shadows.

I was going to title this post, How to be Depressed, but feared no one would read further.  True story!

I am passionate about the subject of mental health. I am most passionate about taking the stigma out of struggles with mental health - with normalizing them, and even embracing them, because when we embrace our shadow side, we can fully know our light.  When we hide from our shadow, or demonize or deny it, it takes strange power in our life, and manifests in weird, wild, and mostly un-wonderful ways. 

I guess I'm kind of saying: keep your enemies close.  Keep up on your shadow side, and know what it's up to, so that you can dance with it, instead of getting stomped on/clubbed over the head by it. 

I wanted to revisit this topic, which I've discussed before, several times, because it is a difficult one - at least, it's difficult for me.  And I recently cycled through a full spectrum of energy, a spectrum I'm beginning to simply think of as my life's rinse cycle. 

When I get sad, I usually spend a couple of hours in that place - but I rarely stay there.  Instead, my sadness usually forces me into action.  Either it forces me into prayer, so that I can find my way out of darkness, or it forces me into play (so that I can find my way out of darkness).  Either way, I'm starting to believe that the long road to surrender encompasses hitting the bottom of my well, so to speak, and then bouncing back toward the light. 

That's a lot of metaphors.  It also sounds a little like manic-depression.  And maybe it is a little like manic-depression.  I ain't afraid. 

In yoga practice, gravity helps you stand on your head and hands and elbows.  As one of my favorite teachers said once, Learn to play with gravity.  Give into its force, and then you can grow away from it.  But first you must go with it. 

Root to rise, people!  Root to rise.

2. Link City
Speaking of harvest, I am giddy with a couple of projects that have come to fruition this fall.  The first is a collaboration with my friend, Lukis. I submitted a story to his beautiful podcast, The Storied Commute.  You can listen to Lukis read my story, and interview me about it, here.  (It's kind of long.  If you've been wanting entertainment for your Sunday drive to Wyoming...from're in luck!)

If you're interested in submitting stories of your own, Lukis is a great editor, as well as writer himself.  He is dedicated to "story," as he calls it, and you can send your work to

The second project I closed on was the long-held wish to visit my friend Amelia in LA.  Tim and I fell in love with that town, which surprised the heck out of me.  In addition to getting lost in an enchanted neighborhood, hitting an art opening at Platform, and going hoarse with story-telling, there was some playing in the kitchen - mostly by others.  I requested coffee in the kitchen, and made myself a pb&j upon arrival, and was fairly competent pouring my own cereal in the morning, but that's about as far as my culinary contributions went (unless you count cutting up raw meat, which I do count - and love doing, for some reason).  

Anyway, here is an Amelia-curated Bon Appetempt post about our LA weekend with her and her husband, Matt.  As you can see, delicious food was made, and cute dogs behaved. 

Also, for the curious, here is an article about making friends with your shadow side, which I had nothing to do with.  It was written by a fantastic yoga teacher in my town who also gives great advice about raising dogs.  A yin yoga teacher who instructs on how to be the alpha for your dogs is one integrated human being, that's for sure.

Anyway, here's to action, and to solving your own problems, and becoming the doctor for whatever ails you

There is grace in the darkness.  Here's to discovering it.  Here's to becoming your own lantern, in the wilds.

3. Peace!

Thanks for stopping in.  Thanks for being your radiant self.  Keep on keeping it real and dark and light and integrated. 



  1. I always think of the last post over at Hyperbole & a Half as "How To Be Depressed" & believe it deterred nobody. (Then again, it's been the only thing she's posted in quiiitte some time, which has made me a bit worried for her!)

    Ah yes... the cycle. I think it's quite important to identify it. I call it "retraction" -- just knowing my expansion phase is *not* what I used to think it was: "Wow! I've mastered life & will never feel anything but bliss again!!!" and conversely, contraction phase is just that, a part of the expansion, like lungs deflating, and not, "I thought I mastered life, but am now so clearly falling short" keeps it all in perspective & in check.

    Will check out your story! Thanks for the links! xx

  2. Kara, I stopped in to say hi and was surprised to find your note on mental health. It has always been a topic in my life, whether from afar or in a more direct way. Anyway, just wanted to say it was so refreshing to read about your determination to see yourself through the storms!
    -Sarah (from WCP)

  3. Hi ladies! I am experimenting with keeping the comments section a place for reader's voices solely, but obviously I cannot help myself and must butt in. Thanks for all your comments and ideas and presence!