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In my next lifetime

In my next lifetime, when I come back, I will ski more and worry less.
I will begin every dinner with dessert, and it will be dark chocolate,
or something gooey
and coconut.
I will choose dresses for color and not for whether or not they make
me look slim. I am thinking yellow,
purple, and butterfly prints
in chintz.
I will start using sun-block when I am 12, the same age
when I will begin practicing
because it makes me feel so peaceful and good.

In my next lifetime, when I come back, I will choose
a comfortably upper-middle-class family to host my wandering
soul. I’ve seen that great wealth imposes anxiety
and demands of its own. Too little to work for
ruins people. So does poverty, my old scourge.
The lack of money–for graduate school, for good doctors,
for guitar lessons, for the occasional porterhouse steak and soul-ravishing
trip to Paris–
is one of the great evils that besets humanity.

In my next lifetime, and I hope the Earth isn’t ruined before
I make it back, I will play outside more, which can mean lying
on my back beneath an oak tree and reading something
like Dickens
or Yeats
or a cheesy romance novel. I will spend more time staring into the sky
and no time at all on a therapist’s couch.

I will say
more often and do the dishes only when they’re piled up to the ceiling.
I will turn off the TV but go to every sci-fi movie
that opens. I will choose more friends who understand
that I’m originally from
the planet Xetron
and that this beautiful blue and green orb
is just a way station on my peregrinations. They will laugh more with me
than at me and they will understand the value of
spontaneous dance.
I have only a few of those kind in this life.
I miss them all the time.

In my next lifetime, since
I’m not enlightened
and I will have to return to complete the balance
I will say “I love you” to the people I love:
on the hour, every hour. Even when I hate them.
And especially when they hate me.

In my next lifetime I will be
the luminous me
I always wanted to be now, and somehow fell short of.
It wasn’t for the absence of an open heart or effort.
Rather, I tried too hard, and let gravity weigh
me down. So in my next life, I will let my
open heart lift, and shine me to everyone I meet.

Traci L. Slatton
On Transparency
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On Transparency

Ramana Maharshi advocates inquiring into the self to find communion with God. He teaches that if you keep asking “Who am I?” deeply enough, persistently enough, and intently enough, you will shatter the incarnational illusions of “i,” the separative little ego, and get to “I am all that is.” It’s a path of discipline toward liberation.
When I ask myself, “Who am I?” I just don’t get that far. I’m still on the journey, I guess. Not disciplined enough. Caught up in the murk and mire of embodiment.
But the journey is worth taking, and it’s fascinating to me to witness the answers that come up at different points in my life. “I am a mother,” is among the top two responses that arise these days. There was a time…before dinosaurs roamed the planet…that I wasn’t someone’s mom. There’s no going back to that time; having had children, I can no longer imagine my life without them. If something suddenly happened and my children were gone forever, I wouldn’t want life. Every parent knows exactly what I mean. Life is demarcated completely and irrevocably by this universal, simple act of having a child.
And so the heart is tangled into a web of love and caretaking, expectation and responsibility, hurt and joy. Does that tangle bind us more deeply into the earth plane, into the opposite of liberation? Isn’t it supposed to be one way out?
So it is with all these questions that I watch as my oldest daughter struggles with her demons, and projects many of them onto other people, as we all do from time to time. By other people, I mostly mean me, her mom, the one nearest at hand, whom she knows will always be there for her, no matter what she says or does. It’s partly her process of individuation; she’s off to college in seven months. She’s got to define herself as separate from me in order to have a distinct core in which to stand when she finds herself on her own. We both know it’s coming.
It hurts to watch her struggle. She shoots herself in the foot, accomplishes miracles, sabotages herself relentlessly, goes out and makes a concrete difference for better in the world, commits acts of extraordinary compassion and cruelty, all at the same time. All while frequently blaming me for both real and imaginary hurts, all while wanting my approval and hating herself for that want.
And how do I respond as she does her thing? At the launch party for IMMORTAL last week, I spoke openly of looking for communion with God in every moment. I then apologized for sounding hokey, because it does. I’ll have to find a less embarrassing way–for me and whoever’s listening–to phrase this sentiment. How do I reconcile my spiritual pursuits with my human responses? Isn’t that always the question?
My friend Vedic astrologer Komilla Sutton, knowing I am undergoing the dreaded transit of Saturn to my moon, called sade sati in Vedic astrology, and that my daughter has the difficult transit of Saturn to her Venus, had a puja done for us at a temple of Saturn the last time she was in India. I had sent money for only one puja so the priest lit a single candle during an ancient and lovely ritual. He commented that my daughter has a very good moon, and then something rare and wonderful happened: the wick split into two, so there were two flames off the one candle. Komilla wrote me that it was very beautiful. But perhaps, in the moment of the wick parting to make two lights, it felt a flash of pain.
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Today is the day: IMMORTAL is being released. It’s out on shelves in bookstores and available for shipping from Amazon and B&N and wherever else books are sold. Actually, a friend bought it a few weeks ago at a sly and impatient B&N downtown. Which is all good.

I am happy to have it out, after the years of writing, revising, and slogging through the publishing process, which moves at the speed of continental drift.

I hope readers enjoy the book, that they take pleasure and fun and perhaps a piquant idea from it. Let me know.

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Hello, Dear Readers:

This is the inaugural entry of my blog, In the mouth of the serpent. This blog will consist of my ramblings, rantings, observations, opinions, suggestions, and hopes for the future. My interests are passionate and diverse: books, pop and literary; art, especially of the Renaissance; spirituality and healing; politics; relationships; children and child-rearing; movies and TV shows and travel and yoga and any other topic that seizes my imagination. I hope this blog stimulates and intrigues you. Feel free to email me with questions and comments; if I’m intrigued, I’ll post your email and respond.
In Vedic astrology, I have entered a particular cycle of my life ruled by Rahu, the north node of the moon, the iconic head of the serpent. Rahu in general is considered malefic but in my horoscope, it’s unusually well placed by sign and house. So, for the next 17 years, I am standing in the serpent’s mouth: this is the view.
Very truly yours,
Traci L. Slatton