Compass Clues: Finding Home between Dizzy and Distraction

To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.

– Emily Dickinson

The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.

– Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time

Doing less bad is not the same as doing more good…You have one life and, like a tree, you can create abundance, a profusion.

– William McDonough

Parvati and Friend, Diablo Summit

Parvati and Friend, Diablo Summit

Two Saturdays ago, a friend and I were on a bike adventure, making our way from Berkeley to the summit of Mt. Diablo and back.  The day was perfect: blue sky, warm sun, and a cool breeze.  The route journeys through several eco-systems, including Suburbia, where we pulled over to check directions and have a snack.  The bench was positioned beneath a shopping center’s speaker.  Music, similar to what might be playing in a spa, wafted its tranquil tunes into the streets, and behind us the two-story-window display beckoned from a store that makes me cuckoo: The Container Store.  I sheepishly apologized to my friend, then preceded to soap-box anyway about how insane our species has become – continuing to buy things, thus “necessitating” entire stores that specialize in helping us contain ourselves.  Never mind the thrift stores and consignment shops accepting our “rejects” as quickly as we’re off to spend the $25 promotion we received last week on

These realities (as you patient readers know), both pain and humor me.  More recently, observations like these have been my mirror.  In its reflection I see how consumed I am – how distracted I can be, how dizzy I feel by any number of projects, tasks on a To Do list, or some other alluring racket.   So often the result is…paralysis.  Really.  In the face of too many choices, a couple of things happen.  Initially, I consider the possibilities, watching as they become rabbit holes, mysteriously (?) related to the original query at-hand.

And then, after kicking each ball a little further down the field, or succumbing to overwhelm, I short-circuit, glaze over and resolve that the right decision will be obvious when a) the timing is better, or b) I’ve taken a nap.  This wouldn’t be so frustrating except that I have lived my adult life feeling fairly competent, highly capable, quite adept at multi-tasking.  And so, the paralysis is disconcerting.  Did something change?  (i.e., time is speeding up, Lauren is getting older)  What needs to happen?  Can I do something differently?

Is it possible that, similar to the World of Stuff, the World of Ideas and Go-Go-Go has become so dense, so replete, that our souls need their own Container Store of sorts?  I laugh…and then I scream.  Softly.

I pray harder in these moments.  I know that another space exists, a parallel universe that promises perspective. That parallel universe that is, in truth, the ONLY universe, our cosmic home.  And in an otherwise lost moment, even the smallest taste of it becomes a compass filled with clues.

Quiet rediscovered, dizziness subsiding, I hold the cool compass with my entire being.  In my compass, the clue often directs me toward regenerativity.  William McDonough (above) is right: doing less bad is not the same as doing more Good.  I want my life to be filled with not merely staying out of the way, being sure I’ve placed my recycling in the right bin, but with contributions for the Better, capital “B!”  I want my days, my efforts, my intentions to provide nourishment, restoration and the potential for growth.  And don’t we all?

If in even the smallest actions (and no actions) of our lives, we can feel our participation in the fertility, hydration, and healing that creates the Whole, perhaps the plethora of choices would be fewer, or at least offer more good than less bad?  Compass in charge, I asked for a tangible expression, something to shake me from my paralyzed stupor.

It didn’t take long.  I fell in love over night.  Last Sunday, my neighbor and I collected our new colony of bees and helped them move in to their new home.  They’re amazing.  Not distracted, totally dizzying (but in that good way).  The thought of doing “less harm” isn’t even part of their eco-system.  They are only about doing more good: good for the flowers, good for the Queen, good for the hive, good for Winnie-the-Pooh, and good for any of us who value the healing properties of, “hunny.”

Bees 2013

Bees 2013

What does your compass suggest?  In which direction are you traveling?  More Good?  First star, right straight till morning!!!

Nectar’s On: drinking in the Solstice

The joyous rituals of Litha (Midsummer) celebrate the verdant Earthin high summer, abundance, fertility, and all the riches of Nature in full bloom.  This is a madcap time of strong magic and empowerment…  At Midsummer, the veils between the worlds are thin; the portals between “the fields we know” and the worlds beyond stand open. This is an excellent time for rites of divination. The Litha Sabbat is a time to celebrate both work and leisure, it is a time for children and childlike play. It is a time to celebrate the ending of the waxing year and the beginning of the waning year, in preparation for the harvest to come.

– Salem Nightshade  (

You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.

-Thomas Merton

There is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.

—Martha Graham

You might recall, a few blog posts back, my mentioning, ‘beekeeping…’

Lauren bedecked in bee suit

Yep!  That’s me in my bee suit.  My friend, Frances, and I installed our bees in a freshly-painted hive at the end of April. 

Bee installation

Since then, the colony that began as around 3,000 has steadily increased; conservatively, there are about 10,000 bees now, building comb and making honey. 

Liberating the Queen, welcoming her to her hive

But this blog isn’t about bees.  And thank goodness, because I have so much to learn!  For       example, when we first introduced the bees to their new home in Frances’ backyard, we were instructed to feed them sugar syrup, to fuel their efforts.  Then, a few weeks ago, new terminology appeared in our instructions: “Nectar’s on!”  At this point in the summer season, we learned, the bees are ready to go it alone and flower foraging is prime: the, nectar is, “on.”

Got it!  And the bees get it, too – they’re a flurry of activity at the hive’s door, defending the entrance with special bee dances, feeding their queen, creating their comb, tending their brood, discovering new nectar sources, making honey….  They’re dazzling, really.  And I find myself thinking about them multiple times a week.  And, even though this blog isn’t about them specifically, when it comes to tending our own impulses and inspirations this Summer Solstice, I think we’d be wise to take our clues from these buzzing beauties.

What do I mean?

I mean that consciously, or unconsciously we (in the Northern Hemisphere), have arrived in a wonderfully creative season, the longest days of the year.  Our nectar’s on, so to speak, and it’s a time for exuberant experimentation.  With the sun at its zenith, the time is right for growing our seedling ideas into standing-their-own-ground actions.

As documented in ancient day rituals, Greek theatre, famous operas, and Woody Allen films, zany-cuckoo things happen on the Solstice.

Getting zany in the rainforest

This season pushes us to unfold our own myth, to invite an adventure with our muse.  It does this with relaxed urgency.

Relaxed urgency? Effortless compulsion?  It’s the energy we exude when we can’t not do something.  It’s not frenetic, it just happens, an outpouring of attraction.  There’s  no stopping the watermelon from expanding on its vine, and the bees – though we call them ‘busy’ – are wonderfully instinctive, simply doing what they love: feeding on nectar and attending their Queen.

And here’s where creativity becomes even more brilliant!  Devoted and determined, the bees drink from the blossoms of strawberries, almonds, onions, broccoli, tangerines, coconuts, carrots, grapes…on and on.  We can offer unending gratitude in response, because their nectar fascination becomes cross-pollination, a divinely creative act on which our very lives depend.

And so I’m wondering, in this blog that’s not about bees, how we can be more like them?  How might our everyday creations — those things we do because we feel the impulse, a loving need —  how might those acts fuel the life unfolding for the rest of us?  My heart dizzies at the thought.

So, in these days of Solstice Sunlight, be a bee!

  • Create, improvise, play!  Refrain from censoring yourself.
  • Employ relaxed urgency.  Move toward what you love, and let yourself be moved.
  • Know that what you create sustains yourself, and therefore others.
  • And finally, if things get a little wild, a little silly, a little – oh my goodness! – FUN, then blame it on the nectar –Shakespeare did!

Create and make merry…like our very lives depend on it.  Indeed, they do!