A year ago, today, a friend wished me a happy 33rd birthday, along with the courage to live my “Jesus Year” with unshakeable faith in myself and what begs to be born through me. She also reminded me to have fun: “Your job in the world, right now, is totally epic, dude. Enjoy it.”
I embraced her blessing, took her advice, and enrolled in her theme for my year. With 2012 being such a galactivated year, it was fun to let the mythology of the Jesus archetype inspire a theme of making my vision real, moving against the grains of self and what already exists, for a year.
I playfully added that 34 would be my “Charles Oakley” year – a year of discipline, hard work, and tenacity – to honor my childhood sports hero, #34 . . . in my judgment, the true spirit of my beloved, 1990′s NY Knicks.
A year has passed, and for reasons human, self-indulgent, dramatic, irresponsible, intentional, Earth Realm and Cosmic, I’ve died inside a few times. I’ve risen each time, a better man in the world, for reasons I can’t articulate in words. Maybe she was right about my Jesus Year. Maybe I’m really good at projecting.
A year ago, today, Ecstatic Dance NYC was already in motion, and all of me was on task to make my vision for a new flavor of conscious dance offering in my hometown real. I was living in Oakland, juggling commitments to a mix of amazing communities, employers and projects – Ecstatic Dance Oakland, Trader Joe’s #231, freelance communications clients, and the occasional life coaching client that arrived at my doorstep.
Some of them paid me. Some of them nourished me other ways. The sum of them had me working pretty much every day, feeling sprung on my amazing life.
Luckily, the Bay Area and its embrace of work/life balance afforded me chances to sneak into the woods to jump rope and hike, wild out with my Muse family into the wee hours, dance my heart full with my ED OAK family at least twice weekly, slide into the gym to kick and punch heavy bags, drive to the beach with my smart phone and answer emails to the soundtrack of the ocean. You know: keep my sanity, and maintain reasonable health of mind, body and spirit.
Adding an Ecstatic Dance in NYC to my plate was nuts. I’ll admit that. But, the idea wouldn’t stop hunting me, seducing me. Eventually, I accepted the download, saw the whole project unfold and manifest, in my mind’s eye. When I realized that I wasn’t at all concerned about how to fund such a project, I knew I was onto some life-changing, level-up, creation-story-magick, heart-first/mind-second type isht. And that I was probably, maybe, finally going crazy. Crazy is fun and firey, and I hear it helps fuel extra-ordinary. So, I said, “Yes.”
I projected a lot of mystical, “answering my calling,” “manifesting my mission in the world,” “working in service of my guru (the practice of ecstatic dance)” onto this project. There’s a lot of truth to those projections – I project responsibly – but yeah . . . I poured it on thick, at times. It got me moving, kept me going, and, though less on the front burner, as the business sustainability of this project becomes more priority, continues to inspire my work in NYC. It also helped me take a while to admit that this project was challenging, and definitely not all dragons and rainbows, witches and cauldrons, unicorns and The Invisible. Well, it was – and still is – all of that (especially unicorns, because they’re super dope), but not full-time.
When I first started the ED NYC project, I figured I’d get it started, from Oakland, find the others (who were maybe the ones whispering to me in meditations and dreams, about bringing EDance medicine to NYC?), help it become sustainable, then get back to my awesome, rich-but-simple life in Oakland, visit ED NYC as often as possible, with a lifetime comp at the door.
From the jump, instigating Ecstatic Dance gatherings and enrolling members of the NYC Conscious Dance community, while living in Oakland, was super fun, but definitely not easy. So much Facebook. A few week-long visits to NYC, after three-week work sprints in Oakland. Couches. Floors. Big Momma’s House. A lot of sweat. A lot of dancing. Potlucks and brunches. Airplanes and winter jackets.
NYC was always moving faster than OAK and seemed to always require me to sacrifice sleep in my time zone for a conference call with Gotham. Within months, I realized I’d be challenged to make sacrifices, alter my plan, believe in my ability to do something I had never done before, on a budget I had to trust would continue to manifest, in a city that loves to eat my wallet. I’d probably have to relocate, leave Oakland, to make ED NYC happen in the right way. Snap. I hate NY Winters. But I do love wearing beanies. Let’s go.
Once I drove my car here, in June, EDance lived a different chapter. So did I. I slept way less. I labored way more. But I remained amused, inspired, hopeful, and so effing grateful to be vexed by living my life on my own terms. Year One was HELLA expensive – fiscally, mentally, emotionally, physically. It cost me relationships, while it created new ones. And it was crazy dope – like Artisan, Free Range Epic Sauce in a CamelPak, dope. Yeah Buddy.
Over the course of a truly epic, outrageously magickal, totally inspired and life-changing year, I’ve been challenged, by many, to reconsider: the value to the world of my offering; the legitimacy of EDance as a practice for transformation and healing; the probability of this idea working out in NYC; and the risks of returning to the place that conditioned me to loathe myself and enabled me to devalue, then work towards taking, my own life, as a younger man. I carry on, with a healthy-enough blend of armor, laughter, lunacy, “Go f*ck yourself,” and “Blessings, Homie. Thanks for your feedback. I got me. You do you.”
34, Day 1: Ecstatic Dance NYC is very real, and I couldn’t be happier with or more grateful to the community that has rallied with me and around the idea, that has enrolled in each moment. I’m thrilled with the Dream Team that has assembled to write this next chapter of the ED NYC creation story with me.
Last night, Jesus became Charles Oakley, and I’m focused – feeling strong, supported, intentional. Embracing, owning and celebrating the light and dark, the yeah buddy and the wah wah, of what I’ve earned for myself, created as my “right now,” in this lifetime. For the first time in my memory, Sister Moon, my closest celestial friend, is FULL. That’s probably why I’m writing this memoir, today. It’s definitely why I’m feeling AWESOME, right now. I cannot wait to visit with her, pray with her, invoke and conjure with her, when Brother Sun visits another region of our beautiful planet. I hope that’s how the science of our sky works…lest I look foolish on my birthday.
Father Sky, Mother Earth . . . I miss Oakland. I miss California. I miss my family of friends on the Sunny Side of the Bay. That creation story remains incomplete, but I’m glad to consider it paused, for the moment . . . because I love living in NY right now, and I’m having fun getting to know this place all over again. And the music and the dancing here? Ooh wee. Yes. Please.
Grateful for ALL of the additions to my enriching, beautiful community of friends. Familia, you swaggin – from head to toe, heart to spirit, bones to core stars. Thanks for finding me. Glad I found you. NYC Conscious Dance community: you make my tail wag. So hard. Hometown, you tussle with me like no place else I know. And I like it.
Blown heart-wide-open by the transformation and lineage healing that my mother and I lived together during 33. Ma, I love you. Thank you: for the gift of life, the tussles and squabbles, the real talk, the support, the bailouts, the boundaries, for sharing so much of your journey with me, as my teacher, student, mother, father, mentor, enemy and friend…and, of course, for learning how to dance this dance with your Pisces son, my beloved, Aries mother. I’m so grateful for everything you did to keep us moving forward when the hurdles told us we couldn’t or wouldn’t. And I’m forever impressed with and inspired by your ability to stand tall, no matter your challenge. Mad Respect, as you and the cool kids used to say.
Inspired to take better care of myself, with a priority of “fiscal, physical, spiritual and mental wellness” for my new year. And, yes, Fam, I’m SUPER STOKED to be alive right now.
To my brothers Tony and Blaze: It’s still hard for me to not look backwards, as my life moves forward, because I still haven’t processed the bulk of my grief, and the deeper impact of the trauma. Losing each of you, around the same time each of the last two years, shook me to the core. Terrified me to the point of kicking ass and taking names – in case I was next on the list. Too close to home, fellas. Hurt so much that it made me mad enough to live fired up, shift Earth Realm to my liking – or else. I miss you, but thank you. Each of you moving on inspired me to prioritize living my dreams, cross the finish line in stride, go hard at what I want, and process my fears of actually dying before my mission was complete – something I had been aiming at, for so many years of my life. Losing each of you were the saddest moments of 32 and 33. Each of you took a turn, with tragically-perfect timing, to stoke my fire, keep me in motion, and fracture my heart. Your spirit visits to me, in my darkest moments, and on dance floors everywhere, since you moved on, boosted me into this new year. Thanks for having my back. I’ll do this healing, get my mind right, again. See you soon, somewhere. See you often, everywhere.
More: Earth Realm magick; galactivated friendships, connections and conversations; cosmic throw-downs; burning holes in dance floors; sharing Get Loose Juice wherever, whenever; and living prepared for any moment, anywhere to turn epic.
Bless up. 34 for Mayor.