mess with the bull…

Heaven on earth

I went to Zipolite, Oaxaca, Mexico to be free and to grow. When I arrived, I said, “Zipolite, when this is all over, I would like to be a completely different person. Someone far more empowered.” It wasn’t my first time at this nude, extremely gay-friendly beach and so I knew my request would be met with learning experiences, as this is a magical beach town and everyone knows it.

It wasn’t long before I met someone. A guy. A Taurus. We were just walking down the beach and… the next thing you know, we were naked in my airbnb, doing what boys do, when no one is watching. But, it was clear from the first moment we met, this was going to be a learning experience. Initially we were overwhelmed with all that we had in common, but before we could revel in the details, the plot thickened. As it oft does. You see, this guy lost his job the very day we met. And before we did anything sexual, I spent some time comforting him as he cried on my bed. I have enough love in my heart, patience, and understanding to lend to a person in need, especially someone I have just met. So, I had no problem with this, but what I didn’t know, was that this information served as a kick to a metaphorical door, that slowly opened over time, to allow for a flood of circumstances that would color our lives and ask us to transform.

The next few days we spent together, unseparated. And it was on day three that the other shoe dropped. You see, the place where this guy was living, was provided by his employer and he was no longer employed and so… yes, you guessed it. They kicked him out.

I know.

I know.

I know.

His only options were to go back to his hometown, where the possibilities seemed, to him, to be limit-full or find a way to stay in Zipolite. Seeing this dilemma, I offered for him to stay with me.

Now, listen.

I was not unaware of the possibility that the intention could exist within him, to take advantage of me. As a matter of fact, when we first began exchanging stories of our lives, I noticed that every story he told involved him cheating on someone, using someone, stealing something out of revenge, and so forth. He even admitted, “sometimes when I meet people, I make sure to make a good impression and I am very good and responsible with them in the beginning, so that I establish myself with them, and so later, I can completely stop doing it, all together, without it being noticed, because I’ve already established a reputation as a responsible, good guy.”

The possibilities were not lost on me. I had my own intention, which was to be of service. I know that everyone in this world is trying to find their way, and I have been practicing not taking the things they do, personally. And, to not be afraid to help someone who, perhaps, thinks you are unaware of the fact that they want something from you. In my life, it has been the selflessness of others that has shown me that is possible to be different. To exist in a different way. To live under a more empowering paradigm. And so, I used this opportunity as a chance to see how much I could be a lighthouse.

I also knew that, as someone who is usually very independent, when I find myself romantically involved with someone, I can somehow become very attached. And I wanted to see if I could be different.

Our first weeks together, were a breeze. This guy is a chef and so he cooked everyday. He even adopted a vegan diet while staying with me. And I paid for everything.

This guy is a Taurus, I am a Scorpio. It is match that I have been hearing about for years. The point of conflict being that a Taurus is typically concerned with beauty and status while the Scorpio is typically concerned with feelings and control. Could we overcome?

Flags of various colors were raised. The first, being, that the more time we spent together, the less he listened to me. As a matter of fact, he interrupted me on a consistent basis. A voice in my head said, “this is going to annoy you. you should get away now.” But, I really wanted to see just how unbothered I could be. In my spiritual journey, I have learned that, it’s not about what happens to you, it’s about how you deal with it. And I saw this as a challenge. How can you navigate this? How can you change the narrative in your mind to something more empowering?

He also slowly became quite dismissive. Literally waiving his hand at me to end a conversation. What an opportunity! I thought. These things that this guy has a habit of doing, just so happen to be things that I have let annoy me since the beginning of time; not being heard, being dismissed. In the “past” my ego would have taken control and attempted to set everyone in their place. But, over the years, I’ve become a different person. As a Scorpio, I don’t use my stinger very often, because I know I can hurt others. I tried an approach, previously unrealized.

“So, you don’t have to change your behavior for me. I understand that is how life works. I can’t make anyone else change, I can only change myself. What I will say, is that you are dismissive when speaking to me and I am not interested in that behavior.”

It was the most straight-forward, non-judgmental approach I have taken to these sorts of “issues”. And this guy was receptive. Initially. But, with a lack of space to digest my experiences, I found myself in a whirlwind. Each day, curious to know what would surface. For both him and me.

I was finding myself being defensive and in the moment being able to change.

Wow!

I hadn’t done that before. Hearing myself and changing before I could even be noticed by the other.

I was learning to give people more space. I could see how much I would linger and attach myself and in these moments, I would think, “no, you don’t have to do that.” And I would walk away or go do something else altogether. I was beginning to love the challenge.

Then one day, this guy stopped sleeping in bed with me, without saying anything. This lack of understanding and communication seemed… off. To say the least. And this voice kept saying, “he is using you. he doesn’t like you, he likes what you are doing for him and so he is trying to slowly create a new reality without discussing it with you, so that he can have his cake and eat it too.” We had only been in each other’s company for about a week and a half.

Was this fear or intuition? I wasn’t sure. And the whirlwind I was in, kept me from being able to hear the difference. So, I asked him one night,

Are you finding yourself less attracted to me?

… No, why do you say that?

Well, you are slowly becoming non-affectionate and you’ve moved from the bed without saying a word.

silence

No… no. Sometimes I feel like kissing you and being close and sometimes I don’t.

The Project

At some point early on, we decided to work on a video together for a song of mine. This video would serve as a launch to a kickstarter for an even bigger project, that would allow me to hire locals, who in this time, are looking for opportunities to make money and to pay him a fee for directing the next project which would help him open his restaurant. You see this guy has worked as a director, directing a documentary, which I found interesting. And I, just so happen to have all the experience I have in creating. But, from the beginning, our lack of understanding the other, stood in our way.

It started when he made the schedule on his own. “Why would you do that?” I asked. To which, I got no response. I could see that the schedule could use adjusting. I have been producing my own work and organizing rehearsals with dancers and other performers on my own for over 10 years. And as a performer, I have been part of such processes for about 16 years. So, at the very least, I had a foundation upon which I was standing. My goal in these moments, was to discover how I could use my talents in these situations without having an ego trip.

I was not unaware of the fact that I had more experience with these things than him, but I was also aware, that when one “doesn’t know” something and they have some underlying insecurity, when someone tries to help them, they might attack. I’ve seen it a million times and I saw the potential in him.

And so this was my challenge; how can I be assertive without trying to take control?

I suggested that we have a production meeting. Something standard, that could help us look over the details and have a better understanding of how we would move forward. It is worth mentioning that everything he wrote was in Spanish and on set everyone only spoke Spanish and while I am about 60-70% fluent in Spanish, it was clear to me that there were some details that I was not understanding. And little did I know, this request would be the end. Because, he refused to ever have a meeting and talk over everything. Refused.

It was surprising for me, as in The US, this would never be acceptable. He would be fired. And I couldn’t wrap my brain around why he always, always seemed to shy away from clarity. It was as though, he hated the notion.

I knew for myself that this is not the way I would ever enjoy working, but remember, I saw this as a challenge. I had to remind myself daily. “This isn’t how you would do things, but here you are, so how can you navigate this differently?” We began meeting the performers who agreed to appear in the video and red flags began rising immediately.

  1. He made the star of my video someone else, not just anyone, but a guy I previously had a sexual relationship with. AND someone he gave his number to right before meeting me. And I only discovered the details of this from listening to the explanation he gave the group. I thought, “this is why I wanted to have a production meeting.” He also flirted with this guy in front of me, while living with me, and I was paying for everything. When I said to him, “why would you make my video centered around someone else without us having a conversation about it?” To which he responded, “it shows humility when an artist can let someone else take center stage.” Which, duh, but why do you think this is a decision you should be making without me? The whirlwind was thickening. I knew a lot of what was happening didn’t work for me, but this was next level. It was bold. He would even try to manipulate me, asking me to go to the other room and set up lights for him when this other guy entered the space, in order to have the chance to be alone with him. Coming from manipulative parents, I could see through this. Crystal Clear. I spoke with the other guy, because I thought of him as a friend. I told him everything and said, “look, it’s not my business what you both do, but I’m just asking that while we are working you could just not flirt back with him, it is very distracting for me. I’m doing my best.” But, this seemed to serve as ego boost for this guy, who saw this as an opportunity not to be there for me, but to get closer to this guy that was living with me. The director also compared us, saying this other guy was better than me. Something I found to be wildly inappropriate. This other dude even echoed things that the director said to me in private, exact words, which let me know they were in communication, talking negatively about me.
  2. When meeting the group of performers, he described me as, “kind of an audio visual artist, well… I guess he is an audio visual artist.” It became clear that the person directing a video for me, didn’t even have supportive thoughts about me. He hadn’t even watched all my videos, or listened to what this process means to me, which is important when collaborating. He told the performers, “if you want to see an example of our work, watch my documentary.” And I thought, how is your documentary an example of OUR work? I have over 13 videos I produced on my own. But, somehow this has become about you.
  3. The first time I asked to speak with him was after a day of filming where I got no direction, I didn’t even know what was in frame or what he thought this moment signified for my character. I approached him and put out my hand, as to help him up from his seat and he pushed my hand away. He then stood up and puffed his chest. I said, “what are you doing is this some kind of defense mechanism?” to which he responded, “yeah, deal with it, because I’m not going to change.” I brought up the topic and hand and he walked away, with an attitude of not caring. I just stared at him, because I had never seen this behavior from him, BUT i had seen it from guys with insecurities in the past. He then pushed past me with such force that I almost fell over. In that moment, I said, “I don’t think this will work for me,” and immediately his attitude changed, he was compassionate suddenly, “no I know, it’s my fault. Please you are so enlightened, please don’t take these things I am doing personally. I don’t want my ego to get in the way of this project.” Another night, we were having the time of our lives, singing and running along the beach and as soon as we got home, he changed, he became hostile, almost like another person. He said, “stop saying nice things to me. I don’t want to hear it anymore. I don’t care if we were meant to find each other. Stop talking about it.” In this moment, I was rubbing his arm. I then removed my touch. “Oh, and now you stopped touching me. Why did you do that? Look, I get like this sometimes when I drink. I should go to bed before I say something I don’t mean.”

Surprisingly, we was still calling me “baby” and “honey”. It was all very confusing. He even accidentally said it in front of the group and the other guy and I watched him, catch himself as he did it and this moment was probably the most telling of all.

At this point, the only thing, that kept me invested was the opportunity to see if I could indeed get through this experience and find a way to not let these things that were happening bother me. To become completely unmoved emotionally by what was happening.

To finally become…

unfuckwithable

That, however, did not come to pass. The last day on set was filled with tension. He refused to speak with me, the artist, on set. He had an attitude with me, he never told me anything that was happening and he continued to flirt with this other guy in front of me. I did manage to find a way to not take the flirting personally. I was doing okay. We had so many things to discuss, we hadn’t completed all that we planned that day and we only had one more day of filming left. Even though all that was coming to pass was extreme and not a situation I would normally find myself in, I really felt pretty good by the end of the day, because I was getting better and not taking things personally. But, when he didn’t show up to our meeting to review choreography and scheduling. I was done. It was the never ending story. I was torn up, because I knew the others had no idea what was going on and to cancel felt like I was letting everyone down, but when I considered spending another 12 hour day with him and this energy, him ignoring me, giving me attitude, flirting with this other guy, this other guy now decidedly flirting back, I thought, “you know what, I’m not interested.” And so I canceled.

I sent a message to the group explaining that we were no longer continuing with the project. And it tore my heart apart. But, overall I was grateful for the experience. This experience showed me how I create problems for myself, how I sometimes give more than I should, how I often don’t take my time getting to know someone before moving forward with them, how sometimes I fall back so hard that I almost disappear, and how I could work even harder to understand Spanish. I don’t judge this guy at all, I love him. I gave him a place to stay for 3 weeks, I fed him, and I never held it over his head. I gave him money. I even spent $100 on a domain name for a website and designed it for him. I was there for him. When I asked for the footage to try to put something together with what we had, he said, “since we are no longer collaborating, it will cost you.” I could have tried to guilt him and such, but that’s not what I am about.

For his sake, it would be beneficial for him to learn from this situation, because there is a gap between his behavior and view of the world and the person he wants to be. But, instead of focusing on that, I am focusing on closing my own gap. Because I too, have changes to make. Lessons to learn. For example,

when you mess with the bull….

you get bull shit.

Solita

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How can it be that I have devoted myself to Meditation, Mindfulness, and Love and still I am overcome with this feeling of loneliness, despair, and suffering?

This is the thought I found myself juggling with five days ago as I sat on the nightstand in my room crying, unsure of how I would move forward from an unexpected setback.
How must I adjust my perception, my way of thinking, my reactions to the happenings of this world, in order to not only survive, but to Thrive in this life?
Little did I know, The Universe had already begun fixing its mouth to whisper a response into my anxious ear. You see, the next day, February 29, 2020, I would go on a trip that would change me in ways I could not possibly imagine. An Ayahuasca Trip.
I had been meditating in Chapultepec when, out of desperation, I asked the trees, “Please, help me. Show me who I must be in order to move forward in Peace, Love, and Gratitude.” In that exact moment, I received a message from a Shaman, who I had considered soliciting the help of, in the form of their meditation services, just the week before.
“How Serendipitous,” I thought. Going out on limb, I asked the Shaman what other services he offers, to which he responded, “I lead Ayahuasca ceremonies, the next one being this Saturday, February 29.”
How curious! I had recently been invited to such a ceremony that would take place on that day by some people I randomly met one month ago, but it had been canceled.And now, as I sit amongst the trees, calling out for help, another opportunity arises for the same day?! I took this as a sign and accepted.
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It was the sight of the trees swiftly passing by that calmed me, as I sat during the two hour bus ride from Mexico City to Tepoztl├ín. “If you get hungry, keep drinking water,” the Shaman encouraged during our voyage. Leading up to the ceremony a specific diet and abstinence from herbal and sexual activities is required in order for the Ayahuasca to have its desired effect. Not sure of what to expect, I finished my bottle of water as we approached a giant gate, the only entrance to a body of land that lay hidden behind what seemed to be an even larger, enclosing wall. The Shaman knocked and the door opened to what very well could have been the most beautiful garden I had ever seen, littered with peers of equal beauty. They were all there for their first experience with the ever sought after, Ayahuasca.
We laid out our sleeping bags and blankets in rows throughout the garden in preparation for the ceremony, which would last the entire duration of the night, entirely outside. Laying the groundwork, the Shamans thoroughly explained their Knowledge of, Relationship to, and Experience with The Ayahuasca. “If a Jaguar, Snake or other animal appears to you, remember, it is not real, do not be frightened, instead, open yourself up and say ‘I love you,” was the suggestion of one of the Shamans to the group. I had previously read that such hallucinations were common in these experiences, but it was made clear that nothing can be promised, exactly. For the Ayahuasca helps illuminate on the subject of your previously set intention, but everyone’s experience differs based on their resistance, state of mind, and even still, unknown factors. Ayahuasca has been known to help people with depression, addiction, and even to move further along in the path to enlightenment. We all had fears, past traumas, and self doubt we hoped to work through that night. But what exactly was to come, we did not know.
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Every hour for six hours, the Shamans offered us a serving of The Ayahuasca. Following this, they sang to us with the accompaniment of various instruments as we laid on our backs, staring at the stars, waiting for The Ayahuasca to take hold. “Pay attention to what you see, what you hear, what you feel.” I followed these instructions for the first two hours and two corresponding servings, but I hadn’t felt anything yet.
“If this doesn’t work, it’s okay, I Love you and we will find a way, I promise.” I said to myself as hour two neared completion. It was in that moment that I looked to my right and noticed the woman next to me, now sitting up, crying.
Oh.
What is she going through?
Beyond her, was a man grunting, and shifting from seated to standing, to kneeling,to leaning every 3 seconds or so. “What is going on?” I thought. I don’t feel anything yet.
It was now hour three. The Shamans Approached me.
How are you feeling?
Good.
Do you feel the effects of The Ayahuasca?
No.
Would you like another serving?
Yes.
Five minutes had not passed when suddenly it seemed as though the grass was moving beneath me and my blanket, sweeping by like water along the edge of shore.
What?
I started to feel uneasy. I sat up.
What?
I kept repeating this, but I didn’t know why.
What?
Comfort was escaping me and I began to move between positions trying to catch up with it, but it evaded me still. I looked over at the gentlemen beyond the woman next to me and I now understood, perhaps, what he was going through.
How do you feel?
Uncomfortable
Everything is Peace and Love and so if you feel uncomfortable, you must ask yourself why…
That’s right! In the midst of sensing this discomfort I forgot that I was here for a purpose. And so I began asking The Ayahuasca how I could change, what I must do. Please, help me. I closed my eyes and I saw another set of eyes looking back at me, in what I can only describe as an abstract, two dimensional, pop up book jungle, with black and white stripes everywhere. While I did not expect to see this, it was not frightening, it was oddly familiar. The discomfort increased. I continued to shift, at one point, I put all my weight entirely on my head. I looked up and saw the silhouette of something in the darkness. “Is that a human?” I heard the question leave my mouth, but I wasn’t entirely sure who asked it. But, if it wasn’t me, who was it?
Who am I?
More questions leaving my mouth, the source of which, I was still unsure. I found myself stumbling to my feet, I don’t remember even getting up. A shaman approached me.
How are you feeling?
I’m…..
Yes?
I don’t think I’m a person.
It was in that moment, the Shaman put his hand on my chest. I looked at his face and it looked, physically the same, and yet it was not. He was not human, he was an Angel or an other worldly being, it was obvious, but there was no clear evidence to explain this. And his touch was impact-full, and instant understanding of Love and Care, in the way that, without saying anything, a mother can give a simple glance to her offspring and they understand. Exactly. What. She. Means.
I am the Universe and I love you exactly the way you are.
My body instantly became calm, I entered a state of shock, in that, I had never considered that it was possible for anyone to Love me completely, exactly the way I am, let alone THE UNIVERSE. So many questions arose. How did I feel about myself? How could it be possible that I didn’t believe I deserved to be loved fully? Why did I imagine that Love came with conditions. I couldn’t respond. One note left the Shaman’s instrument and it sent waves through my body.
I can see the color of that sound.
Another note. And another. And another.
The discomfort returned. I looked up to the sky and as I did, I realized there was howling. Ten. Fifteen. Twenty dogs were not barking, but howling in the distance. Why? It was completely silent aside from the music and singing of the Shamans and that had been going on for hours, so why now? The discomfort returned.
Who am I?
This question again. Who is asking this question?! The dogs continued to howl and for the first time during this ceremony, I stood up straight. Completely. The discomfort still there, but not nearly as bothersome, because something else was at the forefront. I felt the way I was standing. It was not how I stand. It was different. I began looking over my shoulder. I looked at everything, only over my shoulder. Why was I doing this? It was like I was a completely different person. I could feel the way I was carrying my face. It was sinister. I could feel it. Why was I doing this? The dogs howled. I listened.
They know.
Why was I saying this? The dogs know what? What do they know?!
They know!
And suddenly… I knew… I wasn’t me… I was Satan.
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It was clear. It was shocking. I. Am. Satan. How could I be Satan? Me? What? No. But, I felt it. And I looked around at all the people in varying degrees of self discovery, at the ceremony and I became fearful. For them. They don’t know that I am Satan. I don’t want to hurt them. What am I going to do? The howling increased. The Shamans drums reached a climax and suddenly, a familiar, yet very distant sensation appeared. I knew I had experienced it before, but it took me at least a minute to remember what the feeling signified. I touched my face. My nose was running. Both nostrils. Oh yeah, I knew that. It had been running for almost an hour now. I had forgotten. But, what was this feeling?
You see, my entire conscious life, there is one natural occurrence I had been afraid of and somehow managed to avoid. I don’t know how. I don’t now why. But, I always felt successful, in that, I routinely escaped this experience. In my entire life, I can count on both hands, the amount of times I remember it happening. It was for this reason, I couldn’t quite remember what the feeling was telling me. I looked down at the ground. I saw a plastic bag. I remember they had been handed out to everyone at the beginning of the ceremony. But, why? Oh, it was in case… you felt…. you needed…. to throw up! Yes, that is what this feeling is communicating. I’m about to….
Aggggghhhhhhhh!
I just barely managed to fit my ENTIRE head into the bag as this black substance come shooting… No. Flying. from my mouth. It was uncontrollable. And as I felt the pain, I remembered why I had always abhorred this feeling. My abdomen, completely concave. I didn’t think it was possible to go that far inward. It continued and continued. And all I could think is, “how long will this last”. All my life, this was the experience I may have dreaded more than anything. It always induced so much fear. But, I knew it was necessary. And that it was temporary and so I stopped fighting it. And that is when it ended.
I sat in the grass. And stared at the bag. One of the Shamans immediately came over.
Don’t worry about this.
They disappeared. And I sat there, grateful for the Peace. Ah, Peace. But, the Peace I was experiencing was not just due to the cessation of my hurling. I was at Peace. Everything was at Peace. The dogs were no longer barking. Everyone around me was still. It was as though I vomited out all the past trauma and fear. And perhaps what my mind represented as the “evil” inside me.

It was gone!

I’m free!

I looked to my left and saw the silhouette again.

I love him.
Why did I say that? Well, because I do. I looked around. I loved everyone. I was in Love. With Everything. I didn’t know it was possible to feel this at ease. What a Blessing!
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The night continued to illuminate more and more details of existence to me. And, as this took place in Mexico and all conversations were happening in Spanish, I was often thinking in Spanish. As I laid on the grass, I was attempting to form a sentence in my head that began with, “I used to,” but what was that word… Solita. No, that means alone. What is that word? Solita. No. That is not the word. Solita.
The ceremony concluded at around 8am. We had a closing circle, where everyone shared their experiences. The full details of which are perhaps to Divine for this publication.
Solita.
Solita.
Solita.
That is not the word. When I get home, I will finally look up this word.

Solia…”I used to” THAT was the word!

As I traveled home, I remembered, there is a song called “Solita” by Kali Uchis. So, I played it and danced as I listened.

“Solita, Solita
Bailando aqui sola, como a mi me gusta
Solita, Solita
Es mejor que con el diablo”
In English
“Alone, alone
Dancing here alone, as I like it
Alone, Alone
Dancing here alone
It’s better than with the devil”
What?
Who am I?
Solita