Bruce gets his groove back.
Whaddaya supposed to do when you only fall in love with souls?
Karen handed me a list of internists and commanded, “Pick one!”
Nine years ago, the frailty of human life put Karen on a mission. I glanced at the sheet and pointed, “Okay, how about Dr. Kathy Minter?”
I discovered that Doctor Minter practiced more than medicine; she practiced yoga. Even better, Dr. Minter didn’t force statins on me despite my genetic predisposition. “You have a 17 percent chance of a cardiac event in the next ten years,” she warned. “With statins, it goes down to 15 percent.”
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“Some people like those odds,” she explained.
Flash forward to my annual physical this week. I was thrilled, but not thinking straight, when she announced, “You have the BMI of a twenty-year-old.”
A swirl of acronyms raced through my brain —
— BMI, the music licensing company, BMX, BMW, the Subway BMT sandwich? Somehow, I landed on “Boyhood Mating Instinct.” It sounds crazy, but that’s my exact current diagnosis.
(Disclaimer: I received feedback today that my endless inquiry about dating is tiresome. It’s tiresome for me, too. And this being Saturday, when my grief biorhythm sinks [it’s a thing], I’m feeling cranky. This chapter brings up the dating topic. You have been warned.)
When Doctor Minter announced, “You have the BMI of a twenty-year-old,” I felt a charge, some spunk, a little Rick James — “Give it to me baby.”
For a moment, Bruce got his groove back, but honestly, my twenties were closer to CMT — not Country Music Television, but “Confused Mating Tendencies.”
“Bruce, slow down,” my wiser and slightly elder friend Daphne counseled over the phone. “It will take a year, but I see you with someone. She won’t know Karen or any of that story. You just need to be patient.”
I listened between Daphne’s words as if consulting the Oracle at Delphi.
I wasn’t sure if Daphne’s premonition inspired hope or dread — maybe curiosity. What sort of crystal ball does the Daphne of Delphi have? My meat-and-potatoes consciousness doesn’t grasp that kind of knowing.
Reshad explained the difference between men and women:
“Time vibrates from man; space emanates through women,” my teacher Reshad explained. “A man can only know one thing at a time, whereas a woman knows everything at once.”
I’m not a woman, so I can only guess what it’s like to know everyone’s needs, how to make a house feel like a home, sense impending events, and feel the emotional temperature of the room.
The Daphne of Delphi isn’t my only oracle source. My dear friend Penny sent a text message last week:
“Have patience, Bruce… what you are seeking will come and find you in time ❤.”
I like Saint Penny’s advice better than the faux quote from Saint Francis, “What you are seeking is the one who is seeking.”
I’m closely tracking the landscape of grief these days and have been intrigued by the three guys who quickly reconnected after losing their wives. I love that, but I slowly accept that even if I’m getting my groove back, it’s a slower groove. I live somewhere between the BMI phenomenon of “man knowing one thing at a time” and a woman’s embrace of the matrix of life. Maybe God slipped a little estrogen into my sampler because I can flip a switch (briefly) into patience. It’s calming when I trust my matrixy sense, but then I flip back to “fuck this!” (especially on Saturdays).
I grieve the loss (let’s find the word) of my soul juice, love liquor, heart honey — yes, another word missing from the English language. When Karen was dying, I called it her “soul signature” — being in bed feeling the energetic stamp of her being pressed against mine. I would squeeze into the narrow mattress for a few final tastes — until that sweetness left to another world. I bemoan that loss because, yes, God’s love is nice, but he put us on this earth to love each other.
My twenty-something BMI senses every woman in radar range —
— until my wise inner seventy-year-old intervenes, the one who “only falls in love with souls.” Sounds poetic, but it’s actually bleak. I’m describing the one-in-a-million kindred soul you find sharing your heart — Mega Million odds that make the “hunt” even more perplexing, and here’s why:
My New Year’s resolution was to CIRCULATE. And damn, I’m doing a mighty fine job. I’ve been quite conscious in my resolve: “Thou shalt embrace every opportunity to mix, mingle, and meet other humans during 2023.” My perseverance has taken me on dog walks, dance events, reconnecting with old friends, 45-minute phone calls, dinner invites, etc. True story, on Monday, I received a text:
“Hi Bruce, Dee. How are you? Wondering if you might be interested in joining me today at 7 pm at Intown Chabad (synagogue)? Megillah reading.”
I immediately wrote back: “Dee, thank you for reaching out. I’m not sure I could pull off Chabad. I’ve been to two shiva events recently and have to take my Judaism in small doses. I’d be up for coffee or a walk anytime.”
After wriggling, I snapped into full contrition: “Dee, oy vey, I resolved to say yes to all opportunities to circulate with humans! So, it’s a yes!! When are you picking me up?”
Speaking of cultural whiplash, moments later, Karen’s dear friend Cavit invited me to a Turkish dinner during Ramadan. It will be a long drive, but thou shalt CIRCULATE.
I live in a state of intentionality…
— but I could also let go and follow Daphne of Delphi. Me being me, I prefer to hedge my bets and push the river. Just yesterday, I befriended Patti, a widow I met practicing yoga on the adjacent mat. She described the unimaginable and unexpected spiritual opening that accompanied her loss. “I never expected this, but I’m with Charlie all the time.”
I wanted to say, “Same here,” but my mind’s eye caught the implausibility of two yogis chatting alongside their invisible friends.
I imagined the sequel to Ghost — “Yoga Ghost” — where Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore discover that their departed loved ones are guiding their grief journeys and conspiring to find new partners at a yoga class. Nora Ephron would have written the scene using the deus ex machina of the “awkward yoga moment.”
Deus ex machina is a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem in a story is suddenly and/or abruptly resolved by an unexpected and unlikely occurrence.
Choose your favorite contrived scene:
The teacher instructs: “Spread your arms in a T-shape” or “swing your leg over with the strap.” Either cue will land you in your neighbor’s anatomy.
During a wide-leg forward fold, Swayze gets an intoxicating sniff of Demi’s derriere. Nah, too crude for PG-13.
Demi and Patrick choose each other as partners for AcroYoga. I’ll use Jedi Plank in the scene description because it offers an upside-down eye-to-eye shot. They deliciously connect soul-to-soul before collapsing into a whoopsie embrace.
Okay, enough slapstick. After class, they meet at the cubbies, fire up their phones, and spot each others’ wedding screen savers. “Is that your ex?” Demi asks, and Patrick replies, “Yeah. She passed away in December. I drove her here a lot, but I don’t even like yoga; I prefer racquetball. Huh, it’s weird, but I keep coming.” Cue the spooky music as we discover the ghosts have a plan.
The greatest (or most egregious) example of romantic deus ex machina is Sleepless in Seattle. The precociously cute son of recently widowed Tom Hanks calls a radio talk show and mentions that his dad needs a new wife. Destiny pulls the Baltimore-based Meg Ryan to dump her fiance and pursue Hanks. I know, implausible. The plot taps into something deeper — that an underlying matrix brings two hearts together, even cross-continent.
Students of synchronicity have no problem with the deus (god) running the machina (machine). After visiting my doctor, I met my longtime friend Daniel at Thinking Man’s Tavern next to the yoga studio. I walked through the door and was embraced by my son Jacob’s childhood friend, Dakota, who now runs the recently-purchased pub every Wednesday for his dad. When I mentioned Karen’s passing, Dakota turned white; he had been unaware. “Oh my God, I didn’t know; I’m so sorry!”
Note to future grievers: You will face this “first-timer” shock again and again — always a grief trigger as it pierces your emotional veil.
Five minutes earlier, I relived the trigger with a yoga teacher walking in the door and a fellow student after class.
Triggers lay hidden like mines on a grief journey. In the Netflix series, The Kominsky Method, when the newly widowed Alan Arkan picks up some shirts at the dry cleaners, the owner hands him several garments belonging to his wife, and boom! I now understand Arkan’s flood of tears.
When I mentioned the “first-timer” trigger to my yoga-ghost friend Patti, she replied, “It’s been three years, so it doesn’t hit me the same way.”
Sounds promising, but three years? Thursday was three months; I’m in for a long haul. My Grief Advisory Board’s admonition took on new meaning for a life in the slow groove.
My twelve-month fermentation process is not about following some rule, tempering my Mating Instinct, or even getting through the grieving process. I now realize that grief involves a deep cellular reorganization. It takes 3-4 years just to get through puberty.
Since we’re talking about invisible friends, Henny Youngman has become my alter ego ever since he joked, “Losing Karen was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
As I write this, Henny’s got a new shtick:
“My doctor told me I had the BMI of a twenty-year-old guy,” Henny yakked to the Borscht Belt crowd. “So, I said, whaddayamean BMI? My twenty-year-old me isn’t even showing up. Four times a week, I’m in a yoga class. Gorgeous babes everywhere — but I look around and realize the seventy-year-old me only falls in love with souls! How about a pill?’ So the doctor puts her stethoscope down and shakes her head. I’m expecting a scrip, but she says, ‘Those drugs relax the muscles and arteries to encourage the flow DOWN THERE. But you, Mr. Youngman, your heart has become aroused, hyper heart arousal — maybe permanently.’
“WHAT? That’s terrible. What girl wants a man with a HEART-ON!!!” (baddaboom)
Let’s return to my Oracle and how she knows everything all at once — aka the matrix.
This is what Reshad meant: “space emanates through woman.”
Physics sees the physical world as three states of matter: solids, liquids, and gas. There’s a fourth state of matter, plasma, that fills interstellar space. The other three states emerge out of plasma. Some hypothesize that more than 99% of the universe is made of plasma. Astronomers recently discovered two giant clouds of plasma called the Kordylewski Clouds, which hover between the Earth and the Moon. This is not just cosmic dust; evidence points to plasma exhibiting a form of intelligence.
The famous theoretical physicist David Bohm discovered that plasma might behave as a cooperative structure where even particles very far away can “feel” instantaneously what happens to one of them. This gives plasma a coherence similar to quantum objects.
Cue William Shatner:
“Is it possible that plasma is this intelligent matrix? And if two particles are far away from each other, could their coherent hearts resonate and find their way to each other?”
During my lonely twenties, my Boyhood Mating Instinct drew several suitors to my bungalow in West LA. This kept me mildly distracted while, unbeknown to me, my future soul mate from East Tennessee lived a few miles away in Playa Del Rey. This future soul mate announced to her roommate, “We need to move to Santa Cruz,” so they packed up their VW and left LA. But my future soul mate got lonely while I was being lonely. She packed her car and went on a vision quest to Big Sur. (Read Fortune to learn how she went over a waterfall). Bruised and scraped, she returned to Santa Cruz, where a rebirther sent her to Reshad Feild where she moved in. Months later, I walked through Reshad’s door, and we met.
Was plasma involved? An intelligent matrix? Stay tuned.
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