Byron Katie tells a story of being on a hike in the Mojave Desert near her home and coming face to face with a rattlesnake, which struck fear in her heart so deep she dared not look back at the snake as she envisioned scenes of her lonely death in the middle of the secluded desert, with no one to hear her cries for help. She then somehow mustered up the courage to glance back at the snake, and only then realized that the snake was actually a rope. She fell to her knees and started laughing, crying, poking the rope, just taking it all in.

Her response:

What had happened? I knew one thing: I was safe. I knew that I could stand over that rope for a thousand years and never be frightened of it again. I felt such gratitude and ease. The entire world could come upon this snake, scream, run away, have heart attacks, scare themselves to death – and I could just remain here fearlessly, and pass on the good news. I would understand people’s fears, see their pain, hear their stories about why it really is a snake, and yet there would be no way that I could believe them or be frightened of that rope. I had fallen into the simple truth: That snake is a rope.

(from the Foreword to Katie’s book, I Need Your Love – Is That True?)

My entry yesterday about the Bloomingdales woman was a little snarky. It was genuinely me, but I’ve been questioning it ever since I wrote it. A lot opened up for me last night during a conversation with an artist/writer/photographer friend of mine who is about to leave Palo Alto (again) to live in other parts of the world, teaching meditation, photography, and yoga. She lived in downtown Palo Alto for 25 years, did the whole marriage thing, did the kid thing (she’s the second divorced woman who’s said to me that the best thing she got out of her marriage was a kid), and lived the whole charade of Palo Alto life. She wrote a very graphic book – ahead of its time – about the truth of her experiences as an artist mother in a town full of self-important academics and engineers raising their kids like a herd of cattle to be sent off to the Ivy League Meat Market. Most of her time as a young mother was before the dot com boom and bust, so people weren’t millionaires (or billionaires) yet. They were just gearing up for it.

There I am getting a little snarky again. I meant to say that I truly enjoyed spending quality time with a 50-plus year old woman who had remained creative in the midst of a lot of doubters and naysayers, including her own family. She got no money out of her divorce, so she now continues to support herself through her photography, writing, and teaching. She is constantly working on her thoughts, allowing things to take care of themselves, remaining calm amid lots of snakes masquerading as ropes appear in her path. All of this without even knowing what all this “life coaching” stuff is about.

We sat in the lobby of the Stanford Park Hotel, sipping mint tea and eating the free chocolate chip cookies they put out every night (who knew?).

I realized that I just have to keep going. Just keep getting quiet, listening, doing my work, and let every experience pass through me as it is.

My teaching is my most immediate and central vehicle right now to release and express my creativity. It’s the central energy sink for me at this moment. That’s where I am right now. So I’m using it as the vehicle. And it feels great to shine my light and share it with others. But I’m also patiently waiting for a shift in energy. I’m slowly cultivating other seeds of expression that are also within me but just less well-developed, because they were either planted later, neglected for periods of time, or didn’t get enough sunlight and water.

It is happening. I just have to keep remembering that the snake is a rope.