Inspiration – the breath of Spirit

To have Majo read all this text to you, click on this link:

These days, when I get inspired to write something – when I observe myself writing something in my head – I try to capture it right then and there. It’s downloading for me right then – let’s get it down on paper or in my phone or in a video.

This morning around 7 AM, Pancho and I were walking down to the Montford Park Players “Playhouse” behind the parking lot where are we like to park our van in Asheville these days – behind the Montford Park Rec Center. So quiet and private. After about 8 or 9 p.m., we are almost always the only people in the parking lot.

All through the 16 years that I lived in Asheville, I had recurring fantasies of some day being able to buy a little house over in Montford.

The other day I said to my friend Kay, who lives in the house right across from the parking lot, “Now I do, in fact, have a little summer place here in Montford – and who in Montford has a yard like the one we have here?”

As we were walking down by the Playhouse, I observed that in my brain I was thinking a bunch of thoughts about inspiration. So I said to myself, “Let’s capture it!”

The following 23″ video includes lovely images of that park and of my funny dog – and my observations about the role inspiration plays in my life.

In this video, I also make extended references to one of the most inspired poems I ever wrote, called “Who am I?” Here is a link to that poem, recorded in Chris Rosser’s studio in West Asheville.

LINK Sorry, but I have not found this link yet. Hopefully soon.

As I was driving to the studio on a bright Saturday morning 10 years ago, a new friend called me and – when I told her what I was about to do that morning – asked “Are you going to have music on the recording?”

I said “I can’t afford that. Chris is charging me just $70 for a half-hour of studio time.”

My friend said “Well, why don’t you ask? If he is such a talented musician, maybe he will throw in music for nothing. It wouldn’t hurt to ask.”

So my friend’s encouragement to follow Spirit – and go ahead and ask for what I wanted, even if I didn’t think I would get it – inspired me to do that.

And, after we had made an audio recording of the poem, Chris played it back and laid down a keyboard track underneath it that was also incredibly inspired.

That second poem, the only flat-out love poem I have ever written, had been inspired about 10 years ago by a lovely young woman who I had just had a 2nd date with at that time.

By the third date, I pretty quickly realized that – although she was definitely awesome and quite lovely – she was also not at that point emotionally available to a new relationship, and I abandoned the effort.

That fabulous woman was Patrice “PJ” Johnson, who I stayed in touch with through Jubilee where I had met her.

On the last time I saw her – maybe 15 months ago – she was obviously inspired to move pretty strongly towards me. She kept coming back for one last juicy hug and I thought, “Wow, maybe now finally she is available!”

About two months later, the pandemic hit and Pancho and I took off for the North country, where we have spent the last year – with some visits back to Asheville.

About every month or two I would reach out to Patrice and say “We’re gonna be in Asheville – are you available?” Or “We’re up in Burnsville – why don’t you come out and hang out with us in the country?”

I never got a reply from any of these inquiries and went back to believing that probably she really is not available to me these days.

About two weeks ago I saw an email in my inbox that started with “Hi, my name is Lois. I am Patrice Johnson’s aunt.”

My heart absolutely sank. I thought, “Oh shit! Something terrible has happened to Patrice.”

I was driving – going from one engagement to another – and did not get back to the email until later in the afternoon.

10 years before, one of the ways that Patrice had not been available was that she was immersed in supporting her father in completing his dream project – the rebuilding of an antique automobile.

Almost immediately after her father passed away, her mother – Peggy Johnson, retired psychologist who many people knew at Jubilee – began having strokes and needed a lot of caretaking herself.

I had always suspected – while Patrice was doing God’s work by being so devoted to her parents, who genuinely did need a lot of support – that maybe she didn’t know how to go after what she wanted for herself.

In the email PJs aunt said, “Peggy finally passed away in November – and Patrice died about a month later.” She had died, they suspect, of a bleeding ulcer – something that no way should’ve killed a healthy, youngish 55-year-old woman.

Her aunt went on to describe how, after the death of her mother, Patrice seemed not to know how to restart her life – and quickly fell into a very difficult place and died alone.

I was heartbroken – still am heartbroken, and crying at this moment – at the tragic loss of such a beautiful soul, who had so much potential for life and such a fun-loving spirit.

I wrote to Lois that “What I want to resolve in myself, in PJ’s memory, is that I will take better care of myself and go after what I want for me.”

I recently said to another fabulous woman friend, just a few years younger than my 74who I have loved for about 14 years and who loves me tremendously – “I know that when I proposed to you several years ago that we try dating, you said, ‘I love you a lot, but not that way’.”

In my history with women, I have always taken that kind of “No” as a final answer.

It always hurts my feelings, when I do see them that way – as a potential partner. But I never questioned it in this case and just felt sad and gave up on that wish.

I have stayed tight with that wonderful woman all through the pandemic and our travels – and have seen her periodically. She works in a restaurant – and three different times has hooked us up with food that was way better than we could afford or could get from a food pantry. And she has opened up to me some parts of her life she never before shared – and we have become even more emotionally close.

Just recently Pancho and I got in out of the cold and stayed at her house. Inspired by my learning from Patrice, I said to my friend “I want to sleep with you tonight.”

She somewhat awkwardly said, “Well, it’s a big bed. You can come up on the bed, but nothing sexual can happen.”

This time I was undaunted by that answer, which I expected from her – and asked “Why not?”

She said what I expected her to say: “Well, you know I love you – but just not that way.”

I again asked, “Why not? I am in a great place in my life. I am super-in-touch with my own sexuality and lovingness. You have told me that your life is entirely about your work these days. You are really happy – as happy as I’ve ever seen you – but you have no love in your life. I could give that to you.”

“You have never told me a lot about your ex-husband or the other boyfriends in your life. Has any of them ever totally adored you? Shown you physically and sexually what a goddess you are, how totally lovable? I could show you that. You are lonely right now and don’t get any touch – I could fix all that for you.”

I wasn’t trying to pressure her or to manipulate her into doing something I wanted her to do. I just wanted her to think deeply about what was the resistance – why, when she loves me so much and I’m not a bad-looking guy and am these days in amazing shape, she was not letting herself have something great that she could have.

I am a big believer in people having really strong “Yes”s and really strong “No”s – and I was totally ready to take “No” as her final answer. I was pretty sure that that would be the case, but I was not willing to let that stop me from saying what I wanted and needed.

After some extended exploration of what is going on in her life, I realized that, in fact, being solid and strong and independent – not needing a man in her life – is exactly right for her these days.

While her life is all about her work, her work is actually quite exciting and a huge breakthrough for her in her life. It is stretching her tremendously.

But it was only by pushing her a little bit and being bold about saying what I wanted – my vision of what might be great between us – that I got to clearly see that it wasn’t personal about me at all.

She truly is not emotionally available for that kind of relationship right now. I realized clearly that if I really love her, the thing to do now is to totally release the sexual agenda and to support her independence.

As I was saying these things into the phone just now, my dog was barking at a woman walking very briskly down this very steep hill towards the Playhouse.

She was trying to reassure Pancho that she didn’t need to be upset with her. I yelled, “She just wants you to pet her – that’s her way of saying that. If you pet her, she will shut up – but you don’t need to.”

She was pretty clearly into her very brisk walk and it was not the time for her to stop and pet a dog.

I yelled to Pancho, “She obviously likes dogs, but this is not a time for her to pet a dog. Maybe when she comes back uphill she can do that.

“Sometimes, Pancho, a person may have what you want – but it’s not the right time for them to give it to you.

“You can’t always get what you want, Pancho.”

The truth of that lyric from the Rolling Stones has never been clearer to me – and also the truth of the next line:

“But if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need.”

It happens for me again and again that – after fighting mightily to get something that I thought God wanted for me, God says, “Great effort! You stretched yourself – you grew from pursuing this goal. The whole thing has been excellent.

“And that particular thing or person is not something I’m gonna let you have right now. I have other designs for you.”

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These days all of my identities are converging: whether I am offering a blessing in the grocery store checkout line, offering a prayer in a poem or experiencing the kinship with all life while walking my or a client's dog - it's all the same. It's all Life.

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