Disney Delivers



Not too long after our mother died, my father took my sister and me to the newly opened Disney world.  It made sense, go to “the happiest place on earth” to get away from all that sadness.  My mother’s dying process was confusing to me.  She didn’t want us to remember her sick and feeble so she insisted that her illness be kept a hidden truth.  Hidden Truths are like deeply embedded splinters.  Eventually they get pushed to the surface for expulsion.

There was promise upon arrival that Disney world was, indeed, the happiest place on earth.  Enchantment began from the moment you parked your car.  The lots were so big they presented a world of their own.  I had never seen a tram before; I didn’t know they existed.  So once we boarded and sat down, I was embarrassed and excited to hear that we weren’t even in the park yet – and I was already brimming with happiness.

Finally through those entry gates, I felt like I was walking inside a freshly shaken snow globe.  The atmosphere was simply magical.  By the time we stumbled upon the Snow White and the Seven Dwarf ride, I was dopey with Disney manufactured happiness.

We drifted through a cheerful courtyard, Snow White singing to a admiring group of birds, but within moments, the cart pushed open two swinging doors and we were immersed in spine chilling darkness. Before us stood the magic mirror declaring the Snow White truth.  Suddenly, the cart took a sharp turn and we headed for the backside of the Evil Queen.

As we approached, our cart swung around.  Instead of the anticipated face of the queen, the bulging psychotic eyes of her bewitched counterpart appeared.  Her blood curdling gaggle frayed my every nerve ending and I spent the rest of the ride buried in my father’s rib cage.

Twenty years later I took my young daughter to Disney on Ice.  We were three generations in the family together, sitting in the second tier towards the back of the rink.  The stadium was sold out.  The show began as magnificently and magically as expected –until suddenly the arena went dark.

A sliver of light appeared at the arena entrance and that arrogant evil queen skated onto the ice. I froze up and stopped breathing.   I followed her vengeful glide along the parameters.  Every cell in my body was brewing with hatred and contempt.

Without warning -and very contrary to my non-combative nature, I jumped up and began booing at the top of my lungs.  I couldn’t stop.  My inhibited quiet family slapped at my thighs and tried to shut me down but I simply could not stop. I booed louder and raised my fists into the air. The queen actually stopped skating and glared in my direction.  I booed even louder at her, unleashing every stored cell of Terrified I had buried in my body.

Evidently, I was not alone.

A child somewhere in that dark stadium joined me. And then another.  And another, until the whole stadium was roaring.   The queen appeared to be caught in self-assessment: Performance success or failure? Then seemingly at the same moment as I, she realized she had performed to perfection and continued skating. Strangely, I felt as if I’d made a new friend.

The booing intensified, mixed with a bit of cheering. The energy in that stadium had shifted, just as it had for me decades prior when we passed through the swinging double doors – only in reverse.  From that cold and contracted emotional darkness brought in by the queen, a warm and expansive sense of delight emerged.

Years later I would use this story whenever I taught yoga.  It was especially effective in children’s classes where the concept of tension release and healing was the focus.  Living in the moment, enjoying that space in between each breath, liberates our life force and activates our strongest sense of vitality.  Our bodies absorb the energy from our experiences and if these experiences become trapped, our energy cannot flow freely.

What I especially loved about my Disney release was that I never saw it coming. I didn’t have to do any work for it to happen.  There was no mental deliberation and mustering up of courage.  It was a solid, holistic response to the call for self-preservation. The fact that I was joined by a stadium of self-preserving children was a ten-fold bonus. Disney finally delivered me to the happiest place on earth.

Karma, Dharma, Who Drank All the Milk?


I have always been a little unsettled by the concept of karma—it concerns me that every act could be dissected and repaid with the pinpoint, malicious efficiency of my departed Polish grandmother.

If karma is the ultimate cause and effect for our future lives, we never get to see the outcome in this life, which is a total bummer.  My karma must be totally screwed (sorry next life!) because I not only want to see the karmic retaliation imposed upon my trespassers, but I want to BE the karma. (Never mind the rest of my cosmic infractions–misdemeanors and felonies–being thrown into the payback mix).

Here’s how I think it should go: Karma shouldn’t even kick in until we’re over 35. Until that time, we are too young and self-absorbed to really understand the full ramifications of our actions. For instance, being intolerant of our parents, how many karmic penalties does that total? Can those be then eradicated by the little shithead moves of the next generation of teenagers? And who tallies the score? Can we be sure it’s someone impartial? What if it’s someone with whom we carry a big karmic debt? We don’t want Debbie, from whom we stole her high school prom date, doling out our consequences. She’ll be ruthless!

Karmic Calculator

Truly, we need to know who holds the karmic calculator and what the formulas are. For example, gossiping about a tool co-worker, does that equal not getting invited to the potluck office party (yes!) or next life with said tool co-worker as our spouse? Lying on our taxes? Does that produce poverty in the next life or that we can’t win on scratch off lottery tickets? Drinking the last of the milk? The reprisal is our favorite dish sold out when we go out to eat or always coming in last at everything? If we knew the karmic payback, wouldn’t that make our choices easier? Going over 20 miles above the speed limit? Our car will have an engine glitch and we won’t be able to speed until it’s fixed or we’ll be the world’s most frightened and cautious driver in the next life and everyone will beep and swear at us every time we get on the road? Knowing that second future outcome, we probably would reduce our speed to 15 miles over the speed limit. See? Better for everyone!

Okay, so here’s my suggestion to the cosmos: give us the playlist. A nice Excel spread sheet with transgressions noted from minor to major and their consequences. You really want to blow off your Aunt Mary to go dancing with friends? Hmmm…let’s see… a life without legs??? Going out with Aunt Mary it is! So neat and clean and no one gets hurt. So, why didn’t the cosmos think of it?

Dumbass Rats

I’m a little worried that this may all connect to our Dharma, or our intrinsic nature, which is to render service to God/Source/Higher Power/Ultimate Wisdom. As otherwise understood, it is our innate life purpose as determined by a higher order, probably to serve the greater good of all. If we are given free will to realize this purpose, then we’re totally fucked. We’re like dumbass rats (who aren’t really dumb, by the way, but I needed to make a visual analogy) who can’t find our way out of the maze and keep running into walls and each nose bump increases our karmic debt.

How the hell are we ever going to get out of the maze, especially since nirvana is the ultimate goal?? I totally want nirvana. Don’t you? If we keep screwing up, we have to do an eternal Groundhog Day playback of reincarnated lives to amend our errors. Because let’s face it, as humans, we learn mostly from mistakes. And if mistakes raise our karmic debt then we’re always going to leave our lives with boatloads of karmic liability. I’m exhausted thinking of how many lives I’ve probably already lived and I’m still a total jackass. Nirvana must be light years away.


Good news: I think I stumbled on the answer on how to break the chain (or at least weaken it). It’s Satori. Satori is the spiritual goal of Zen Buddhism. Satori basically means individual enlightenment, or a flash of sudden awareness. It’s sort of an epiphany with a Zen bent. Satori is also an intuitive experience; in that moment of awakening, we can see into our true natures. According to Buddhism, awakening is within us long before we are born.  Animals apparently retain this enlightenment because they are always in their original state and are totally immersed in the present, united with the Cosmos. Humans lose our original enlightenment of consciousness and have to continue to strive to re-attain it (hence, the karmic baggage and sore rat noses). In order to have true inner peace, we have to get back to insight and intuitive illumination in order to stop the karmic ticker tape.  The focus of Zen Buddhism is to strive for this heightened enlightenment through meditation, focus, intention, and practice.

Crap. What about the rest of us? What about the less than Zen?

Getting the Hell Out of Dodge

 Here’s the cool part: Satori can just happen. It can occur with focused practice, but it can also materialize in the swift moments of clarity that come to us unbidden.

Phew. There’s hope for the rest of us just bumbling through life without a clue–sans mindfulness and spiritual growth. We too may also see a light at the end of the tunnel (or maze, if we’re keeping consistent with the rat analogy) by just allowing those moments of lucid awareness to crystallize and show us the better way. And then we simply have to start living in the state of the higher consciousness once it’s revealed. Not so bad, huh?

So, I raise a glass to all of us balancing our karmic ledgers and getting the hell out of Dodge.

Namaste all the way home.