Every single day I leave my house, whether I want to or not, to go on a walk in the forest. Typically it’s during Golden Hour so I can connect to the sunset and am most likely to see banana slugs if they grace me with their presence.
I am always listening to music on a bluetooth speaker because there are cougars, coyotes, bears and other predators I don’t want to run into and I think they’ll avoid me if they hear me coming. They don’t want to run into me, either.
Yesterday as I was entering the forest from my neighborhood Heart of Glass by Blondie started playing. I thought about the first time I was at a party with Debbie Harry.
I was 29 years old in New York City and at my first celebrity party. Many years before I adopted the mantra “I belong in every room I walk into” (THANK YOU Myleik Teele for this gem and everything you have taught me). I was STUNNED to be in that room but loved every minute.
It was a party celebrating the opening of Cathy Opie’s mid-career retrospective at the Guggenheim and my group wasn’t technically on the list for the after party but we knew people who were there who said we should come to the bar at the Maritime hotel.
Hot party tip for post-pandemic times–if you show up looking cute and say the right names to the door person they might let you in. We got in! I saw Debbie Harry, a childhood idol! John Waters was there, too. I was very very excited.
Cell phone photos were bad at that time and I don’t take pics of celebs without their consent but just seeing cool folks I recognized who made work I admired was a thrill.
Back to last night. I walk into the forest having had that memory. A little down the path I heard the first few bars of James’ Laid and started dancing–I startled a big bird that flew across my path.
Instead of disappearing into the woods it landed on a branch nearby and watched me. Well, we watched each other for ten minutes. It didn’t seem to care that I danced and played music. I took grainy cell phone photos. She was as into spying on me as I was marveling at getting to see her.
She moved her head around with that adorable flat face. I don’t know what kind she was, much smaller than the only other owl encounter I’ve had in the forest (a Great Horned Owl–freaking HUGE).
It was magical. I was radiating joy at seeing her.
It occurred to me that I felt as thrilled to see an owl in nature as I was to see Debbie Harry at a party. And between living in NYC and LA I’ve been to more parties with Debbie Harry than I’ve encountered owls in the wild.
My goal is to encounter way more owls and maybe post pandemic sometime just have a conversation with Debbie if she’s into it. Never any pressure. I’m the gal at the party in the far corner having conversations not mingling in the crowd. Big crowds are not my thing anymore.
It is my practice to set an intention for my forest walks, usually it’s to get to joy and wonder. In a pandemic when the world is falling apart, healthcare systems are collapsing and the government is abandoning the most vulnerable, this practice is truly about exercising my own mental and emotional strength so that I may continue in my work tomorrow.
I believe that when we feel joy, we enable the universal consciousness to use our energy to empower others. Like a battery on a Prius replaces the need for fossil fuel in a hybrid engine. Little kids radiate joy all the time like this–they are closer to the consciousness than most of us. As grown-ups we lose our play and our curiosity if we don’t cultivate it.
Your suffering alleviates nothing for others. Your joy is inspiration to others to find theirs. Prayer and joy are frequently the most powerful thing we have to offer in a world turned upside down so it might come together in a better more sustainable way.
We did not come here to fix a broken world. We came here to create the world of our dreams.
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