Love As A Mutual Dance: Valentine’s Day.


We’ve all experienced real love.

The love that makes us question ourselves and our worth, the love that we enjoy, the love that makes us think and solve problems, and the love that makes us curl up on the ground and sob because we are afraid of losing it.

And then there is sacred love…the love for which we work together to keep at all costs, while we simultaneously become better people individually.

The lasting love. The golden love.

This is the essence of the yab-yum (Tibetan for father-mother). In Buddhist art, it is a profound symbol depicting a male deity sitting in lotus position with a female consort in his lap.


Well actually, it’s not kinky. It’s supposed to represent the sacred, non-dualistic union of compassion and wisdom. Together, the man and woman overcome the illusion of duality…the barrier of male and female is discarded and they proceed to develop their minds at an expedited, mystical rate.

If we don’t have love, we go crazy. Love is a basic need in life. I’m talking about any love: Love from family, love from animals, love from boyfriend or girlfriend. Self love. Any love.

So, in being so close and striving to become better people in partnership, we are bound to have altercations.

From Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche:

“[…] love and affection are largely based on free love, open love which does not ask anything in return. It is a mutual dance. Even if during the dance you step on each other’s toes, it is not regarded as problematic or an insult. We do not have to get on our high horse or be touchy about that. To learn to love, to learn to open, is one of the hardest things of all for us.” 


In any dance, there is the possibility of tripping and falling. There is the possibility of kicking your partner in the face or forgetting the dance. But there is the possibility of also proceeding into a dance by whispering, “I love you” and doing your best to keep the space between you and at the same time create something beautiful.

You can and you will suffer in loving someone. You will become angry. You might do things to each other that are wrong. You might take breaks, need space, even have breakups, divorces, or deaths. You will feel loss in all its forms.

I have, and it sucks.

“The desire to force love to live only in its most positive form,” writes Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, “is what causes love ultimately to fall over dead.”

If our relationships are perfect all the time, they do not grow. If you spend Valentine’s surrounded with flowers and sex and chocolates every year, you will not grow. I’ve never spent a Valentine’s Day at home with my lover. But every other day with him? Better than Valentine’s Day! We eat chocolate and he buys me flowers all the time! So what if we miss this one overrated day? We set ourselves up for failure if we hold these expectations of perfection on Valentine’s Day (and all days).

You can’t love yourself? You won’t love another. Our souls consist of love, whether it is sexy, exciting, and passionate, or simple and unconditional.

The other day, I was spending some time with my lover’s father. Well, his surrogate father. He told me that love doesn’t care what happens. You do the things you have to do to love yourself and, at the same time, you have to give yourself completely to someone else in order to fan the flames of love forever. If you find true love, you hold on to it at all costs. You help each other–hold each other up. You have to, essentially, cut yourself open. Hide nothing. Get rid of your ego and your anger. Rid yourself of addictions. Do healthy things together. Enjoy the passion, but understand that you need a sustainable, slowly burning fire to make it through life with a lover by your side.

This is coming from a non-Buddhist man, who has lost everything, and who has everything too. Has the most beautiful marriage I have ever seen. He may not be a lama or a practitioner, but I am going to believe him as if he were the Dalai Lama.

Sometimes, we have to get down to the nitty-gritty. We have to have everything ripped away to realize what we had and to perfect it in the future. That is what the yab-yum is and what the yab-yum means…experiencing love in all its forms and on a guttural, stomach-wrenching level.

So go step on each other’s toes. See what happens. Just make sure you’re there for each other through the wind and the rain.

I love you. 

Photo of yab-yum courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Vassil. Photo of dancers courtesy of author.

On the Way.

Right now, I am sitting in Dillon, MT at one of my favorite coffee shops. It seems like it’s been three years since I’ve actually stopped here and had a coffee and a cookie. I’m a cookie fiend…it’s one of my demons. My sweet tooth is one of my demons; I always play it off like I am an undeniably unwavering healthy eater, but that’s just a front and a lie. I love baked goods, I’m addicted to them, and anyone who loves me and knows me well would tell you that.

I forgot how comforting it is to roll into a small town where nobody knows you and just sit down at a coffee shop or a whiskey bar and write. It also seems like my head hasn’t been clear in a few days. Small town time is good for that. That’s why I’m headed for Idaho and family to ski and play in my favorite mountains. Take some ballet classes and guitar lessons. Just be. I had to stop here to be on another Google+ interview for my dream job as an editor. Karma is funny…something has to suck in order for something better to happen. Unless you’re on a karma roll…then it might seem as if everything is awesome for a really long time. I was on one of those until this weekend. All you can do sometimes is acknowledge how you feel, hope others are happy, love and be compassionate, and of course, eat a cookie.

And since last year, thanks to someone who is the most special and sacred love in my life, I have been reading–no studying word for word–poetry by Michael Blumenthal.

So yesterday, I gave you a poem that churns my heart like butter. This one does too. It will always mean the world to me and remind me of the purest love I have ever felt–still feel and always will feel–and the most beautiful places we ever explored together and will explore together in the mountains and within our souls. Here you go:


Inside the hollowness that is bone 

and that hollowness that is us, blue 

is how it has always been and how 

it always will be: the blue acres 

of flesh we have traveled in search 

of the propinquitous night, the blue 

hours of morning before the mist rises 

over the lake, the blue gaze of the sycamore 

over the empty fields in February. Now, 

it is dark and my bones open over the blue 

sheets of the bed to welcome the night. 

I gaze into the pale green of your eyes 

and see that I, too, am turning blue like

the graceful dead in their blue parlors 

of silk and sweet dreaming. Last night, 

the swallows prancing over the fields 

were blue, and in the star-swift glide 

of sky over the clouds, I realized

we end as we began, and moved along: 

blue baby, blue sky, sweet blue grief, 

the deep blue of no more breathing. 

Tempera on paper or oil on canvas, 

it is the blue envelope of the voice 

that says I love you, and when the bones 

open out into their pelvic dust, the blue 

that is always blue is always there. 

I love you. 


I Love You. In the Wind and the Rain and the Snow.

Today I woke up and felt less alone and less tired and confused than I did yesterday. There’s been a lot going on lately. I ran with the dog for about three hours today in the mountains…it felt good. Just to have the sun on my face and a cessation in all the wind felt like a blessing from God. Susan frolicked in the snow and chased white-tailed deer and I saw some mountain lion tracks. I saw two bald eagles in the center of the river. 

And I saw a heron, standing in the middle of the water. Lately that image has meant a lot to me…about standing still in the midst of the hectic things that have a tendency to gravitate toward us and our relationships. 

This weekend has been a lesson in love to me. It’s been an earth-shattering, ground-breaking weekend that is teaching me to be gentle with myself and others. To be kind. To be understanding. To communicate. And most of all, to cultivate openness and love. It’s so hard to do until you realize how crucial it is…especially with the love of your life. Sometimes love isn’t enough, but it can overcome anything. My relationship means the world to me. It always will. Life is better with your best friend at your side. Sometimes hurdles present themselves. And by hurdles, I mean mountains. All we can do is slowly climb them, step by step, and hope for the best. 

I also read an entire book full of Rilke today. I only really read Rilke when I feel something missing inside my soul. Right now, Rilke is teaching me to be patient, to be kind, and to consider what is important in life. Right now, Rilke is teaching me that one action can lead to a world of destruction, but also opportunity to reach into the depths of your soul and pull out the things you hold most dear. The verse that got me thinking today: 


Listen, love. I lift my hands–

listen, there’s a rustling…

What gesture of those all alone 

might not be eavesdropped on by many things? 

Listen, love, I close my eyes, 

and even that makes sounds to reach you. 

Listen, love, I open them…

…but why are you not here? 


The imprint of my smallest motion 

remains visible in the silken silence; 

indestructibly the least excitement 

is stamped into the distance’s taut curtain. 

On my breathing the starts 

rise and set. 

At my lips fragrances come to drink, 

and I recognize the wrists 

of distant angels. 

Only him of whom I think: You 

I cannot see. 


I love you, bluebirds. I love you. Be peaceful. Let go. Know sunshine, feel rain, and stay warm when the snow comes. 

J. Bird