A DM to a friend, today: “I’m good. Just did Ayahuasca, cried for hours (long year, last year), and then Winter turned to Spring, and my sadness at losing my dog Redford (and more, my fiancee and I broke up, I got injured, I lost a good friend, Elephant struggled though is doing well again, new book, mom having rough health stuff, it was a mixed, hard year) turned into meeting this new pup, so that’s a lot of joy and new challenge. May be moving to Canada to help mom out.”
My first Ayahuasca (now legal in Colorado) journey—from Winter to Spring (& a puppy).
Friday night, I cried for hours and hours. I stayed up all night.
Sunday, I adopted a puppy after a year of sadness.
Ayahuasca ceremony—my first…with Chief Tuwe…might have had something to do with it.
Friday night into Saturday morning, and then Sunday Spring out of a long Winter.
My grateful thanks to my recent bestie M and his wife for hosting us in their beautiful mountaintop home. And my grateful thanks to Tuwe, who led the ceremony, and beautiful Ari and others. They made it feel safe—the only reason I did it, since I’m a bit of a careful chicken when it comes to losing my mind. It’s important to feel unsafe so one can open!
I didn’t throw up, but the first stage (which took an hour to arise after taking the medicine, after taking the painful medicinal eye drops, after taking the uncomfortable nose shots) is realllllly intense, uncomfortable.
Meditated sitting up much of the night, as per advice of Tuwe, the Amazonian chief I interviewed a few months who held this ceremony (click here for contact, video).
Buddhist Meditation helped keep me present and not running from the discomfort, then the grief—Tuwe had advised that if we could, if we liked, to stay erect and the medicine would not only be a bit less intensely uncomfortable but we might stay with the experience more.
I was joined by maybe 10 others. Tuwe’s intense chanting, then his and others’ lovely rhythmic music, all through the night, helped me into and then through each stage. I stayed up all night, and most of us finally slept an hour-and-a-half around 8 am. Then ate some good simple vegan food, fruit, etc, in company with my fellows.
As the difficult part passed, my mind focused in the moment instead of escaping from the discomfort thanks to meditation, I thought perhaps it was over.
But then an image or vision of Redford arose, then my ex-fiancee, just their faces and our relationships and love and crying and connecting. I cried just about half the night, pure love and poignant sadness at losing that pure love.
The question, at the end of all that crying, that came from deep within me:
why love again, when love can be lost, and has been lost? Why love again when loving so deeply hurts so powerfully?
While I know the answer intellectually, this was a heart question. A real question of feeling and bravery or learning from failure and loss, not philosophical. M said “it would be selfish for you not to love again. The world needs you. And, you have no choice.” It was helpful to hear, but I fundamentally know that thanks to my Buddhist training. But knowing and feeling are not the same thing, as in the legend of Naropa and the Hag.
It was more a question of feeling it fundamentally.
Michael, a fellow vegan and good human, drove me (up, and) down the beautiful mountains, past Trungpa Rinpoche’s tree at Bald Mountain. We talked about relationships, mostly, as the pine trees and vast views returned to the little city that is my home.
Spent the next day, Saturday, with friends, fiddlers in the backyard for St. Paddy’s, biking about, journaling, meditating, ate simple food. Slept hard that night!
Then, Sunday morning, went to brunch with Steve (our state senator, a longtime best friend, who reminded me that Ayahuasca was legal in Colorado!) and his baby at Leaf, my vegan dining spot, and his wife Lindsay and their other little one joined for a bit.
After brunch, I ran (well, walked) across a pop-up rescue event hosted by Arcteryx for Soul Dog Rescue, which rescues strays and pups from reservations around the Four Corners. I fell in love with a golden-eyed pup, but wasn’t ready. Biked to see Ryan and talk over Ayahuasca, his coming journey to Africa, and mentioned that pup-crush I’d just had but how I didn’t have a car and couldn’t get over to Ft. Lupton to adopt him.
I bought some Moxie Bakery loaves, thinking of dear departed Andy. Moxie still feels good, genuine, like Andy, so that’s a relief.
Biked down to meet Daniel, gave him and Leticia a loaf, and we walked dear old Kaya (18 years old, she knew Redford). We took her back after a short walk, and I’d mentioned the puppies, and we basically flipped a coin between going to see the puppies or walking along the creek.
Daniel said, let’s go see the puppies. This was hours later, but the puppy I had a crush on (they were almost all adorable to me, but there was this one that really wowed me) was still there!
Not adopted. Mildly surprised.
Talked some more with the volunteers at dear Soul Dog Rescue. With their encouragement, and particularly Daniel’s, I finally went on a walk with the sweet troublemaking puppy in question. He was there with 10 of his siblings, I think. His mom had just been adopted. His dear kind foster family called him Barkley, and his birth name was Leaf. The rest of that story of my adoption of Winfield “Winnie” Leaf Lewis is here.
But suffice to say that opening to sad love, the loss of love, fully, gave me the opportunity—with a little push from luck and my friends—to open my heart, finally, again, to trying and failing, perhaps, and losing love again. And that’s love—not giving up.
From Winter, to Spring. Both are necessary to one another, and to all of life, and the love in it. Time to love again.
The next day, as instructed, I wrote a bit in a journal.
“Last night in my waking dreams
I saw your beautiful pale yet flushed face
looking at me streaming with tears
from your open vulnerable gray granite blue eyes.
I was reunited with my dear Redford my dog
who died 1 year ago
his big cheerful white-furred cinnamon-freckled face staring off
and his silly pink nose and handsome long white teeth and
gosh I cried from a seemingly bottomless well full of tears of love lost
and I saw their faces and others and felt all the love so directly
so fresh and absolutely all of it gone and lost and I cried and cried.
Why love when it so consistently is lost?Have we learned nothing?
Love present is future pain. Pain so direct
it’s a timebound joy wrapped in sadness.”
~ Aya at M’s March 18, Boulder, 2023
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