All posts by Analyn Revilla

le fo’u

all

most 

eveynite 

‘i’

floss

crooked 

teeth

wine-stained

grinning

ahhhhhh

ain’t

no perfect

here

alright

goodnite

~*~

spillchecker, grimmer-checker

sucker

fo’writin’

po’et

ree

dee

fy

zee

b o t  

dew-naught

dee

ny

y’self

yo’

godgivengenie

us

all

Analyn Revilla

Keep Calm and Ride On

by Analyn Revilla

Can I just be honest and admit that sometimes I feel envy…

It’s a hard knock to realize that some dreams aren’t meant for me.  This struck me not long after my husband died so suddenly.  We spent years building towards a dream. We wanted a farm with our animals and to live simply on love, song and wine.  We were getting so close to it, then poof!! All that disappeared one crazy day three years ago.

Sometimes you just want to say ~#$@0WTF!%8* 

After convalescing for three years I’ve learned to breathe again.  I had jobs to keep things going.  I made new friends while some dropped off, and those who stayed have sustained me. Thank you.  I learned new skills. I became an urban chicken farmer and a yoga teacher.  My three dogs and I, along with sixteen chickens, are generally doing pretty good:  there’s space to grow in our little home in South LA, I haven’t caught COVID, there’s internet, there’s food in the fridge and the ‘bestest’ is plumbing!  I can turn on the taps and there’s cold water and hot water, and I can mix the two to a perfect temperature, under which I can luxuriate for a decent amount of time. I also have a boyfriend now who keeps me grounded when my head is in the clouds, or lifts me up when I am blue or feeling Holly Golightly’s “mean reds”.

I still beat myself up when I catch myself thinking, “Hmmmm.  I wonder what it’s like to drive a new car, especially that sleek Tesla”, or that I’m working at some kind of artsy project.  I can even envy a dog with its head out the window of a car while its floppy ears and gorgeous fur is blowing in the wind like some 70’s TV commercial for shampoo.  I wish I was like that dog being taken out for a drive to the beach.  “Rover” is beautiful and carefree.

I try to practice what I teach in my yoga classes to “Allow and accept where you are today”.  

I recently finished reading “Advice on Dying and Living a Better Life” (authored by HRH, 14th Dalai Lama and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins).  Rather than focus on what I don’t have, appreciate what I have, because life is short.

Another imagery that brings it home for me are these lyrics from “Time” by Pink Floyd. 

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking

Racing around to come up behind you again

The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older

Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time

Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines

Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way

The time is gone, the song is over

Thought I’d something more to say

“time” by Pink Floyd

One form of happy is to keep my envy in check.  Next time I witness something that stimulates my sense of lack, I pause and tell myself, “Some dreams aren’t meant for me”, then keep calm and ride on, hangin on in quiet desperation.

On Kindness

by Analyn Revilla

Sometime today, a man calls his doctor to say he’s running a little late.  He is literally five minutes away, and that he’s already in the parking lot and he’s awfully sorry.  He’s at the lobby where there are elevators to choose from – one side leads to the West Wing while the other goes to the East Wing.

An elderly man approaches the elevators.  He is confused as to which elevator to take.  Meanwhile, the other man, already late for his appointment, realizes he’s in the wrong building.  He had transposed the building address of 2634 to 2143. The other building is another ten minutes away. Then there’s also the problem of finding parking.  The elderly man looks to the left then to the right and then at the address written on a piece of paper. He shoots a helpless expression to the other guy.

Anxious that he is already late, and his doctor had arranged for a technician to come specifically to give him an EEG test, he asks the man where he needs to go. He verifies the name in the directory listing and escorts him to the correct elevator.

Driving to building 2634, he considers calling the office again to let them know he’s running later than he said earlier.  He reconsiders. It wouldn’t make sense, because he had already said he was ‘only 5 minutes away’. That was twenty minutes ago.

When he walks into the doctor’s office, the EEG Technician named Melinda is clearly unimpressed. She is due at another location for more EEG exams after his appointment. The receptionist is uncomfortable. He attempts to ease the tension by first offering a box of See’s chocolates to her. She smiles generously with a warm ‘Thank you.’ Then he draws a second box of the same for Melinda, but her trite ‘Thank You’ and tense expression only deflates the mood.  She marches him to an examination room.

Inside, she asks him to roll up the sleeve of his left arm, and as he does this he exposes a bruised and swollen forearm. ‘Where did you get that?’, she asks him.  ‘At the Endocrinologist’s office when they tried to draw blood.’ he says.  That was less than a week ago. Her left eyebrow lifts. ‘Really.  Which one?’  Upon giving his answer she says, ‘My husband and I go to his office. He is an excellent doctor, but I never let them take my blood there.” She pauses. ‘They just don’t know how to draw blood over there.  Someone should tell them.’

Having something in common between with them, he senses a softening of her eyes and her lips. She assures him the bruising and swelling will clear up. After an hour of running tests, before he leaves, she tells him that she has a sweet tooth and the chocolates are perfect.

All I Want for Christmas

If seeing is believing then all I want for Christmas is that we see…

It is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

There’s Christmas music 24 hours of the day (radio, TV, internet, on the streets, in your head, the one that you hum unconsciously).

There are Christmas lights and decorations on lawns and stoops of homes along the quietest streets and the busiest corners.

There’s anticipation in the air for some mystery and wonder.

There is a Santa Claus that lives in everyone’s heart.

Though without the means or the money, and there are miles, rules, illnesses and the pandemic that separate us from our loved ones, there is still the wish, hope and desire in our hearts and imagination to make dreams come true.

Believe.

Peace Y’All.

Painting by Tom Browning. Courtesy of Santa’s Time Off.

I See Therefore I am

Today was the second day of winter, December 22nd, 2020.  Yesterday, the Winter Solstice, also the shortest day of the year was when two planets (Jupiter and Saturn) appear closer than it has ever been since 800 years ago.  It is known as “The Star of Bethlehem” (aka “The Great Conjunction” – During the 2020 great conjunction, the two planets were separated in the sky by 6 arcminutes at their closest point, which was the closest distance between the two planets since 1623).

When I was a very young girl my dream was to be an astronaut.  In 2nd grade, during class, I stared out the window and imagined being in space, while the teacher’s voice droned on like an unidentified buzz. I looked towards the azure and wondered what’s out there? and where and how do I fit in in this enormous puzzle?

Funny, many many decades later, I am still the same in my thinking, though the desire to be an astronaut has long passed.  What do I dream and hope for now?  I am at the arc in my life, the shooting star no more, and the trajectory is the downward bend.  This is a combination of losing momentum and gravity pulling my mass towards the center of the earth.

This is life.  Decay is inevitable.  I accept… though I still struggle.  Surrender is not easy when I remember how I used to climb tall mountains, and ran down the trail fast – hopped from rock to rock, light on my feet and my shirt drenched from clean sweat.  These days, I sit in front of a laptop with a tape over the camera, hiding from unknown intruders while my fingers hop over letters and special characters that decorate virtual documents and pages.

One definition of life is a measurement of time.  In the obit section, a name is listed with a date of birth and a date of death.  There was a beginning and then an end.  Between the bookends describes what the person did and who was left behind.

Imagine a straight beam of light shooting out of a super giant star, like “Deneb” (10 to the 5th degree in solar units luminosity).  Its light has been traveling for several light years to reach our eyes.  One day, the bright light of “Deneb” will fade and die.  But we wouldn’t know this in our human life, because the light reaching us now is a view of the past.  “When we look out across the Universe, we’re also peering back in time.” – Ethen Siegel, Forbes https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2020/09/07/are-any-stars-visible-in-the-night-sky-already-dead/?sh=287b5f77809f 

As a kid looking towards the stars I was seeing myself but not recognizing myself.  I was searching for the self, when I already am the self. I see therefore I am.

Perspective

by Analyn Revilla

One, among many, memories of my father was he was a collector of things!  He collected books, collected coins, watches – he just never threw anything away.  But his worst collection was his video recording machines (Beta and VHS) and they were all hooked up to the TV – all seven or eight of them.  It was way too many for one household and one man.  He was the master of these machines, and no-one was allowed to use them.  This irked me to the max, and I asked him why he needed so many video recorders and pretty much alluded that it was a kind of sickness.  Needless to say, you can picture, that he and I butted heads on everything.

So what I was trying to tell my Dear Father was to get perspective.  Perspective is everything in terms of figuring out if you’re crazy, normal or out of this world.  

A few days ago I commented to someone, “Hey, there must’ve been many periods in history when there’s been a pandemic, and probably complicated by social issues.  With my limited knowledge of history my example is the Middle Ages with the Bubonic Plague and the land owners and serfdom.  Here we are again, pretty much playing the same story.  

I am not downplaying the personal stories of loss, humiliation and suffering.  We are all experiencing the effect of the freak show.  Each and every story is real and deserve empathy.  How else can we grow as individuals and as a community of human beings?  We have the capacity to evolve because we’re gifted with tools to be more than what we think we are.  But we have to use those tools to transform to a higher level of consciousness.  Again, imagination is a tool, and another one is perspective.

Without perspective we can lose ourselves in the vortex of emotions and confusion.  Meditation is another tool to observe from within what’s happening inside and out; and outside and in.  Knowledge is another tool.  Having a perspective of history and the movement of humans from hunters to gatherers to information workers, artists, farmers and service providers allows us to let go of the fear that we’re not enough, and there’s not enough to go around.  

A recent make-over of my abode in South Los Angeles resulted in sorting through boxes of books, memorabilia, clothes, shoes, CDs, laptops, musical instruments (including seven guitars and downsized from a larger collection).  Now talk about the fruit not falling far from the tree.  I am my father :-).  I’m able to recognize the heap of things I’ve collected and see that I am repeating the same story.

And I can actually relax and let go of my anxiety that I’m not normal.  My father was normal.  I’m OK and he was OK and you’re OK too.

Imagination

by Analyn Revilla

A friend of mine and I have been exchanging a daily list of 5 things we’re grateful for via email.  We’re now on our 7 month, and I hope we continue this for the rest of our lives.  One time he listed “Imagination”.  

Thinking about the meaning of imagination I begin to understand that imagination is a tool we all have access to only if we allow ourselves the luxury of time to practice it.  It is a practice, like other forms of discipline.  

Imagination allows us to to go places where we physically can’t go – the outer edges of the universe.  Imagine.  

With our imagination we have created other tools to give body to something we’ve imagined.  For example, math and science to map the galaxies.  With imagination we think about the possibilities of life on other planets other than our own.  Statistically, scientists have hypothesized that the probability of life beyond the Milky Way is possible.  So we endeavor to explore and build spacecrafts and probes and radars to reach out.  “Hey, is there anybody out there?”

With imagination we can empathize and know what it’s like to be in someone else’s position – their joy, pain, sorrow, guilt, shame, contentment, dreams.  It is effort to practice imagining a situation; it is a form of surrendering our ego to something beyond ourselves.

You’ve probably heard someone say “I can’t imagine…” after telling them a story that is either unbearable or unbelievable.  Then you say, “It’s true.  It really happened.”  And the other person still can’t accept the story as a possibility.  Later on, she may think further about it, and allow her imagination to go there and then start to believe in the possibility.  And tendrils of sympathy may grow from empathy into believing.

Yes.  Imagination is something to be grateful for.  

How else could we have hope to get through this period of isolation and uncertainty.  Just imagine it without having an imagination.

Happy 4th of July, 2020

by Analyn Revilla

In Hyde Park, the people are standing outside on the streets, sitting on the porch, parked in chairs on the sidewalks and are looking up at the skies… The skies are bejeweled with color and dazzling sparks. The sound is intensely booming the celebration of freedom.

For one evening during this period of uncertainty, we are united by awe and wonder. Couldn’t we remember to regard each person with awe, respect and wonder more often?

Emotions Run High

by Analyn Revilla

These days, the news reports that drivers are more aggressive on the roads and that there are higher accidents and fatalities on the road.  Some people are channeling their unbridled emotions with pressure on the gas pedal or taking unnecessary risks.  Today, while driving along Western south of Jefferson Boulevard, someone passed to my left, crossing onto the lane of the opposite traffic and swerved to make a right turn, crossing three lanes.  Bold and stupid to say the least.

During my drive, prior to being a witness to that, I was musing about the gamut of human emotions.  I thought, as an experiment, that I would start to take notes on the range of emotions I experience in a twenty-four hour period, and correlate those emotions with the thoughts that motivated the emotions.  Then, as an objective scientist, I would create a bar graph of the categories of thoughts-emotions, to visualize which bars tend to be higher than others.  This bar graph would be an indicator of my tendencies, and perhaps help me to manage my emotions better.

My emotions have been running high.  I shared with someone that, lately, I’ve been yelling a lot at the dogs.  My temperature gauge is running hot and I don’t like this trend.  Upon recognizing my rising emotional temperature, I reasoned that the dogs prefer to be near me, especially with the illegal fireworks exploding during the evenings and sometimes well into the late night.  Or they are looking for attention when they destroy the hose or bend the metal bars of the screen door.  Big sigh.

It’s interesting to me that what inspired the idea of taking an inventory of my thoughts and feelings by logging them was leafing through a book called “Classics of the Foreign Film”, by Parker Tyler, and published in 1962. Open a page and there, bared to the eyes of the soul are images of the human condition.  Every page is breaming with these images.  I think this compilation is better than National Geographic.  It is art made by artists about You and Me, Us and Them, Me and We, He and She.  It is the relationships put into cinematographic art form by  years, starting with 1919 thru 1961 from different countries (Germany, France, Italy, Poland, India, USSR, Japan and more).

I don’t quite understand how my mind made the connection of what I’ve been experiencing with my emotions to the catalogue of dramatic scenes in those pages.  Like a light switch, the light turned on and I recognized that I needed to step back in my own life and see it as a movie.  In doing that, I don’t identify so much as the doer but more of an experiencer of what’s happening at the moment. i.e. not to take it all so personally (in pill form).  Watch the images projected on the blank screen as passing moments.  The only thing permanent is the screen, me; while the experiences are ephemeral.  

This, all this, that’s been making our emotions run high and low, shall pass. 

Yoga Sutras to Writing

by Analyn Revilla

There are three principles in the practice of yoga that can apply to a writing practice.  These principles originate from the second chapter of the “bible” for yogis, called “The Yoga Sutras” by Patanjali.  It is an ancient collection of “sutras” (known as “threads” in Sanskrit) compiled into a book by the guru Patanjali around 200 C.E.

“Union in Action” is daily life lived in a clear and conscious way. – The Yoga Sutras.

As a sporadic writer, still aspiring to do something more ambitious than what I’ve been doing with my writing, I recognize that perhaps how I conduct my yoga practice could be useful to my writing life.  Having spent a lot of time reading books on creativity and writing; immersing in artistic milieus:  writing classes, acting classes, participating in LAFPI, attending plays… I continue to experiment and looks for ways to turn it around.

In my last blog,“Why Write?”, the fire within was ignited.  Do not quit.  I actually had stopped writing for about a two year plus period, because it was too painful, and too much heavy lifting to move my hands across the page, and draw sludge out of my veins, and what came forth was painful and ugly, and maybe even toxic.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have stopped, because all those things I deemed “ugly” and “untouchable” were all parts of me I was denying. 

In the past, yoga has been a practice that has sustained me through times of hardships. When my husband died so suddenly, some people gave me journals and encouraged me to write.  I did for awhile, and I even started the entries as Day 14, Day 15 and so on.  There were days when I couldn’t write, but I kept track of the days… Day 218.  So I would say that writing has also been a companion that helped me through troubled times.

So, why not combine the two?  The elements of the the triage can elevate my writing life and sustain it so that I can be more consistent and revive the spirit of joy in my writing.  The triangle is known as the strongest structure in engineering and architectural structures.  So the same goes for the triage of the three elements listed below.  All three are required to have “Union in Action” for writing:

  1. Willful Practice or Refinement – Tapas
  2. Self-Study or Reflection – Svandhyaya
  3. Release and Surrender – Ishvara-Panidhara

(The italicized words are Sanskrit.)

Tapas translate to heat, and burning the impurities of the body and the mind and it leads to the refinement of the body, the mind and the spirit.  I show up at the mat on a regular basis in both my own practice and when I teach.  As a writer it’s required to show up in the writing space with the intent to write without false distractions (hunger, internet browsing, making and receiving phone calls, texting, walking the dog). 

Tapas in a practice generates heat in the body as the muscles, tendons, joints and bone move into a pose (asana) with mindful awareness.  From initiating the movement to holding the pose, the yogi expands his consciousness inward and outward.  Self-study of the micro-movements of the body and the micro-movements of the mind and the breath.  Svandhyaya in writing is conscious awareness of the process.  If hunger arises then examine if the is the hunger real or an excuse to step away from the writing.  In expression of the truth, are the thoughts expressed with the right intention? Is the truth being circumnavigated? Maybe the writer is not yet ready to juice the truth?  

Listen to your body in both practices.  On the mat, to be safe and to transform to higher states, the yogi listens to the body.  Is it tired? Is the yogi ready to scale up to more difficult asanas or to hold the pose longer with more edge?  As in writing, listen to the body. Is it fatigued? Is it tensed when writing something that releases trauma in the tissue.  In yoga therapy the belief is “your biography is your biology”, so it the same in writing.  It is a cathartic process that moves energy of a stored memory in the tissue to the outer sheaths beyond the muscles and skin.  

Finally, with Ishvara-Panidhara, there is release and surrender. Upon initiating the movement into an asana using proper breathing of knowing when to inhale and exhale, while conscious of the spine alignment, the yogi listens to the feedback from all parts of herself.  Where is the resistance?  Where is the flow?  How to adjust?  Is this the edge?  Allow and accept the edges (physical, emotional and mental) to be.  Do not allow the ego to dictate the practice.  Release expectations that push beyond unhealthy edges.  So it is the same in writing.  When forcing a release, sometimes there are means to help take off the edge.  It takes courage to look at a blank page and then dive off the cliff.  A little something can help give courage, but that some thing (be it alcohol, drugs, or eating sweets) can become addictive and unhealthy.  As I described earlier I stopped writing for awhile.  I just needed to be still.  

How can any writing happen in being still?  There are incubation periods and healing periods.  When an athlete or a dancer is hurt part of the recommended physical therapy is rest to allow the injury to heal.  So it is in writing, allow the heart to heal.  To prescribe “stop writing” is not for everyone, but for me it was better to stop for a little while.

I once asked a writing mentor if a writing life means writing all the time.  He had just finished describing a scenario that while waiting at an intersection for the light to turn green, he observed the driver of the car in front of him and it triggered an idea for a piece to write.  So he said that he is always writing though not physically putting words on a page.  The writing life is a way of being.  I recognize the surrender to a writing life of accepting where I am at – at an intersection of my writing life where the light is green and there are road signs saying “Caution”, “Road Under Construction”.  Surrender to what is in the now.  Trust that I am at the right place at the right time.  Let go of the results.  I cannot force a blossom to bloom beautifully when the mini-me gets in the way.