Sitting with Ty

Sitting with Ty
I was tired. What kind of tired? The kind of tired you get from 9 hours on your feet, smiling, picking up clothes from the sales floor hanging and re-hanging, checking prices, smiling and suppressing thoughts such as your “fat ass will never fit in those jeans let’s just save everybody the trouble and put them down. But no, I help the ladies find sizes that they once could wear. I can’t stop them from destroying their last particles of self esteem in the dressing room. There is a whole cosmetic, psycho-therapy, pharmaceutical, so-called organic conglomerate web that can’t exist without demolishing low self esteem. So into the dressing room with them with pants their hips would have bulged against at 19 and are beyond desperate at 32.
I’m sitting at the bus stop waiting for the 105. I got off at 9pm. Just late enough for the buses to come as frequently as a polio outbreak. I usually ride my bike the six miles from home, but my muscles and energy have been failing me. I’m having more close shave almost collisions with cars; my mind drifts, my eyes are heavy very dangerous when you’re riding a bike at night. So I let the bus do the driving, but there is the waiting. The waiting in the cold where red hot inflamed muscles are locked and frozen in the whipping wind- It aches. Your body locks up, your feet throb and ache. Like a baby’s scream, your body is talking to you. It’s just saying, rest me, feed me, take care of me, love me, take me out of this cold. But all you can do is all you can so I wait. We wait. I watch. We watch and the city is busy.
I’m on the corner of La Cienga and Beverly sandwiched by two massive shopping centers in the middle of the Christmas season. This sheik strip of Los Angeles is fed from trendy West Hollywood and the always obnoxious but seductive Beverly Hills- small cities that feed into the behemoth momma LA- I’m at an intersection of commerce and elegance. Upscale trendy hotels exude hip-hop bass beats welcoming their well dressed country club like partiers. I used to be one of them. I used to eat in the restaurants on restaurant row, go to the parties at the upscale clubs. My event calendar was full for many years. I have flashes of jealousy and the awareness of what it really was and what it really was not. I had known the flash and the emptiness. The pleasant pity party passes and I’m back in the moment on the bench waiting and knowing. Knowing no fantasy, no regret, no daydream, no anything will make the bus come any sooner and I have no energy to do anything but sit and wait. As 10 approaches the lights are in the distance. A ten minute bus ride will take me to the bus terminal where I will catch the 37 and arrive home. How tired am I? I feel myself doze as the bus approaches. The pain isn’t as sharp as it was, the narcotic I took an hour ago is just kicking in, taking the edge off my pain, but taking the last of my energy. With sleepy feet, I clumsily make my way up the bus steps and fall into a hard uncomfortable chair.
We hit bumper to bumper traffic 10:04. The streets are getting busier, it’s Saturday night. It’s the time to leave all your cares behind and party like a rock star tonight and try and forget your life as a peasant. It doesn’t matter what we have, we are all attached when we are attached. When we are attached we are peasants. A king doesn’t need a crown, he just is. I have those moments but mostly I am attached. I’m attached to an idea of peace I have yet to find as I drift in and out of my drug haze on the 105. The ten minute ride is going to take at least twenty five minutes. Did we pass the bus terminal? Where am I?
I explode out of my seat and fall into the pole by the bus driver bracing my movements ,catching myself.
“Do you go to the bus terminal?”
“We just passed it.” He answered exasperated. He took a second to take in what kind of stupid I was before ignoring me. I pulled the cord and the bus slowed to the next stop. I got off.
There was no activity, it was a quiet corner, boring and blank. It was not sheik. Dark, lonely, the kind of corner you see in a scary movie, but I was too tired to be scared. I sat on the hard bench in the quiet of the night listening to the sound of silence. I felt I was closer to that teasing peace I had been searching for, smelled, touched, tasted, felt, then lost- again and again and again… This stop was the complete opposite of the one I had left. Sure two miles to the East there is a bustling drug trade where shadows move through the night with regularity but it didn’t touch this spot. I was in an oasis of quiet an oasis of solitude. I could breathe and I did. Deep inhale, deep exhale. Will it ever make sense? Everything had gone to hell, but in this moment I’m near the peace almost at the place where maybe this makes some kind of sense and I can grab some faith from somewhere because it is running low to out. Then…
Then I hear footsteps and it’s all gone. I’m on alert! Ready! It looks like I haven’t moved a muscle but I’ve moved hundreds of them stealthily and silently. I take him in as he sits on the distal part of the bus bench and I simultaneously slide a few inches away giving as much space as possible between us. I take him in. He’s scruffy, he has shaved recently but not very well or with an old blade. Hard lines in the face tell the stories of street life. The scruffy Army sweater is an identification, medal, a sing song to better days. He’s about 5’10” 145lbs. He was White and was comfortable in a Black & Brown neighborhood that said a lot about his toughness right there. Probably about ten pounds underweight. He looks like Steinbeck character. A lean mean tough son of a bitch who you would rather not tangle with. He ain’t saying anything but I’ll know he’ll talk and I know I don’t want to listen. I was so close to my peace. But what can we do?
He takes ¾ of cigarette from his sock, the edge isn’t burned evenly. This works for relighting, no waste, four or five deep nicotine puffs. Get even. Get the edge off, let it go out and tuck it back in your sock. My right leg starts moving like a piston. Contrary to popular belief it’s not anxiety it’s anger. I’m pissed because I’m no longer drifting toward nirvana. I’ve been disturbed. I didn’t want to be here and when I’m making something of this space, this clown shows up. Any idea of peace is far from me now becaue I’m consumed in my don’t wants. I don’t want to be in this achy body. I don’t want to feel this drug haze. I don’t want to have blisters on my feet. I don’t want to live in faith. I want certainty. I want comfort. I want a virgin sitting on my right thigh and a stripper sitting on my left. I want Dharma to be a pretty black girl with a thin waist, a big butt, a healthy rack and a mother with obviously poor phonetic spelling skills. But my wants or my don’t wants really don’t matter because what I have is the now. Just that.
And in now with my leg pumping like a turbo charged piston- His cigarette cooling to be tucked in his sock again. I spoke-
“Think the bus is going to come anytime soon?”
“Oh that #37 is pretty regular. Yeah it will be here.”
I appreciated his optimism but I figured things would be much the way they were before. A long wait.
“You coming from work?” He asked a touch of country in his voice. He could’ve have been from the boonies are picked up the tone Whites pick up living in Black neighborhoods.
“Yeah…” I moan not wanting to think about.
“I wish I had a God Damn job!” he said.
“Yeah it’s tough.”
“Where you stay at?”
Damn, we’re getting personal; this was further than I wanted to go. Too early to get that intimate, he was violating ghetto etiquette. My jaw tightened. I could feel it tighten but I didn’t loosen it. Was he angling? I don’t want to tell this fool where I live, not even the cross streets but who really cares.
“West Adams. Ya know between Arlington and Crenshaw.
“I stay on West Blvd. I get my housing through the VA. So that’s all hooked up. But I need a job. Say man, you don’t have any spare change do you?”
I had change, but I had good change in my pocket, like 78 or 84 cents. That’s at least three quarters, you can always do a lot with quarters. Most likely, I had three more quarters at home so I gave him mine. Just like that pretty girl gave me that cigarette on my way to the bus stop when I got off. How she offered me a second one . She was kind, she was beautiful. Now I’m so glad he asked for change because it made me think of her and I hadn’t fully taken her in. The memory soothed me. 84 cents – let’s pass it on.
“Thanks Big Dawg. Name’s TY.
He extended his hand. A hand that I’m sure had scratched his balls, his hair, been in the thrash trying to find a bottle with a few squirts left in it. What can I do? What can we do? I shake it.
“I need a God Damn job, though! I got two strikes, ain’t nobody want to hire me.” He announced.
“That sucks.” I heard, I listened, I was present, I responded.
“Man don’t it. There’s a big ass sign at the Yoshinoa on Crenshaw and Adams, “Help Wanted”. I went in there and filled out the application. They see I have two strikes, then they tell me they ain’t got nothing for me. I told them I’d clean the floors and the shitter all day. I need a job.”
“Yeah it’s tough. I used to be squeaky.” I admitted. “Squeaky clean, but I got a misdemeanor. A DUI a bad night. Everything changes.”
“Shit, I got two of those. Second one went real bad. See I-“ Stop, pause. The drinks have been sipped, the appetizers have been served here comes the meal.
He stared straight into the darkness and spoke loudly “See- they locked me up because of it. The homeboys from West blvd. broke in my place beat up and boned my old lady.” He said it with musical detachment hiding the deep vessel of pain and powerlessness that pitted and prodded at his depths. That’s why he asked me where I lived. I understood. “Then I got picked up for spousal abuse spent 5 days in the county found out I had a warrant in Orange County because I never finished my DUI classes on the second one so I had to spend 15 days in there. I get out, they had stole all my stuff and turned my place into a dope house. People walking up and down the street with my shit on. I want to put hands on them, but there’s too many.”
It was all true, every last sentence, he was angling for trust. He was angling for connection. He was angling to make peace with something so horrid that it just rips you and rips you and when you think there is nothing left that can be torn, it begins ripping again.
I was his priest and he my parishioner there were no closets or veils just empty space. I saw it all when he described it to me. Images and sounds flooded my mind as he spoke. The noise of the door being bashed in would’ve have shocked her. That was her first scream. The first scream of an endless symphony of screams that will echo through her skull every moment of her mortal life. Then the bodies flooding in the room crowded, crawling, tearing at, shredding, on her, in her and she knows what they are going to do and she can’t do nothing about it. And when their dicks are empty, they beat her more and think of ways to continue to defile themselves through her. She is the canvas of their self-hate and they each hold a brush in each hand. Van Gogh Van Gogh Van Gogh Motherfucka!!!-
Declaring their shame by doing shameful acts until boredom and darkness drive them away! What can she do? Not a thing. She’s has been devoured and defiled and she will just have to take it and he will just have to take it. Because what can he do about it. What can we do about it?
His voice got louder, more emotional.
The emotional juice bubbling in the narrow troth where it sloshes back and forth but rarely spills.
Boys don’t cry, Men certainly don’t. “They blamed it on me, set me up for it, told the police I done it! Shit, I was hanging out in the liquor store parking lot when it happened. Took me up on fucking spousal abuse.”
He kept talking but everything else was background noise a way to come down from that peak. Stories of harassment from cops for his tattoos. Mild stuff, gentle stuff. Background stuff, dispersement. It made sense why he asked me where I stayed. I could be connected, but I was at least a half mile away and in this densely populated desert that can be a life away. I was safe to talk to. I was the peace. The bus came. We boarded. He said his good byes and nodded the slightest of thanks. I won’t see him again. That’s the way he wanted it. How tired am I- Ask Ty

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Shaman's Dream 333

Life is not all sunshine, Rainbow, bottles of wine and What’s up Bro’s-

Sometime it dishes up a taste of pain and if you can get beyond “complain” There’s a beauty in that.


                                                                                The UnChristmas

Twis the season to be disgruntled, depressed and hold it all inside.  It was Christmas season and we were Jehovah’s Witnesses and they don’t celebrate Christmas.  You might ask how did I become a Jehovah’s Witness? My Mother told me I was.  Eighty percent of the household was Jehovah’s Witnesses, which meant her, me and my two brothers.  My father was the odd man out, he just lived there, worked every day and paid…

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Life is not all sunshine, Rainbow, bottles of wine and What’s up Bro’s-

Sometime it dishes up a taste of pain and if you can get beyond “complain” There’s a beauty in that.


                                                                                The UnChristmas

Twis the season to be disgruntled, depressed and hold it all inside.  It was Christmas season and we were Jehovah’s Witnesses and they don’t celebrate Christmas.  You might ask how did I become a Jehovah’s Witness? My Mother told me I was.  Eighty percent of the household was Jehovah’s Witnesses, which meant her, me and my two brothers.  My father was the odd man out, he just lived there, worked every day and paid all the bills but  in my Mother’s eyes he was a lesser then because he hadn’t join this cult of oppression and misery.  However, this cult dominated the interactions in our household and our three bedroom house located in a picturesque middle class neighborhood was full of battle zones, skirmishes and surprise assaults.    It wasn’t the Middle East or the Gaza Strip it was the home I lived in and in this home Christmas was a season of intense acrimony and fighting.

During this time we had to separate ourselves from everything Christmas and everything was Christmas. Christmas danced at school, in the stores, twinkling lights and nativity displays and we were supposed to regard them as evil, the roots of Babylon the Great and false religion.  But the conundrum was that regardless of when and where Jesus was born, the Christmas spirit was and is real and I could feel it sweeping over me.  This joy and lightness, this expectation of presents and happy family times…  Fun art projects at school that I couldn’t participate in, greetings of Merry Christmas I couldn’t return, but could utter a way too adult, “Thank you”.  I would often get this strange look from adults. I knew what it meant, why is this little six year old so old.  If they asked with their mouths instead of their facial expressions and if I had to courage to be honest I would have told them the truth.  I’m not allowed to be a kid.

Kids at school couldn’t understand how anyone could be denied Christmas and they questioned me about it with sympathy.  I blurted out one of the memorized explanations I didn’t believe in but tried to live in.  My words were always teemed with anger, defensiveness, because their empathy made me angry.  It was another reminder of being left out, separated and I did not enjoy that feeling. 

My days were mixed with secret shame and guilt.  I hated being a Jehovah’s Witness and every night I would pray to Jehovah to wake up and not be a Jehovah’s Witness.  My prayers were never answered and every morning I woke up into shame and misery and made an insincere pray of forgiveness for the pray I made last night, even though I knew I was going to make the same request for liberation at bedtime. The misery continued unabated and grew exponentially. 

The first weeks of December really started to change the neighborhood.  Neighbors would pull into their driveways with beautiful luscious pines bundled to the top of their cars.  Sophisticated lights of exciting colors twinkled, danced and gleamed like rubies, emeralds and sapphires all through the evening at every house but ours.   Our house looked bare, sad and lonely and I wonder if it was. Sometimes I would sit in the living room and imagine a Christmas tree with presents underneath. I would imagine my father yelling at me or one of my brothers while he was trying to install the twinkling Christmas lights around the house. Even in these fantasies I felt the guilt of disobedience, defying my Mother who spoke for Jehovah. Defying God! I soaked up more guilt as I secretly read books where the characters celebrated Christmas and had whacky adventures about getting the right toy or too many people showing up for a turkey that couldn’t feed all of them. These were the problems I wished I was having. At least I would be celebrating Christmas.

Dad would always take the week of Christmas off from work and he would be pissed.  My mother and he would catch up on their constant arguing.  The religion being the main focal point of constant contention.  Talking to my Mother was like trying to reason with a concrete wall so his fury rebounded, expounded and redirected to my brothers and myself.  Everyday would be full of military details.  Both of my parents had served as officers in the military.  My Dad still a part of the military complex working for a defense contractor and hadn’t lost a beat at yelling at enlisted men.  That was us ages 15, 9 and me 6. Our Christmas vacation was full of days washing walls, cleaning baseboards, digging up flower beds, picking grass from cracks in the sidewalk.  Any laborious, horrible chore available he would find for us.  Crying wasn’t allowed so I cried inside, I think we all did.  I would finally explode from all these repressed emotions at night, crying into my pillow, wiping my tears and snot with my blankets.  If I couldn’t make it to the night, then I cried in the bathroom with the water running.  But not too long, my Father had super hearing when it came to “running water”,  “running water” was one tiny step away from “wasting water”.  If he knew how much water was secretly going down my cheeks I wonder what his reaction would have been.

The anger that reverberated constantly between my Mother and Father was equivalent to martial law and physical discipline was issued swiftly and aggressively.  Meaning no matter how hard you tried to cooperate, be obedient, do a good job there was a good chance for a daily slap or whipping at the very least an intense bout of criticism. This was our Christmas or maybe our UnChristmas.

Finally the 25th would come.  My middle brother and I would rush out to see what the neighborhood kids had gotten.  My oldest brother was a too sullen teenager at that point and kept himself in his room.  But the two of us would be thrilled to see what the other kids got.  Part of it was their shiny new toys, but the biggest thing was their smiles, their joy.  They shared their toys with us, giving us plenty of turns. I knew they felt sorry for us, sometimes they even said it, but they shared and in that sharing we received sprinkles of the Christmas spirit.  It amazing how resilient and resourceful human beings are because we lived on those sprinkles for years.

Our UnChristmas had been established and pretty much every year it went the same.  Dad took a week off to argue with Mom and give us days full of monotonous grueling work and equally ferocious punishment.  There were a couple of Christmases where Dad had some toys for us and we were surprised and thankful.  But it was a slippery slope because our Mother’s eyes squinted angrily as we played with our toys.  She didn’t approve and secretly I longed for more.  I wanted my toys gift wrapped in pretty paper and put under a tree but I was so happy to have something. A few days later after Dad returned to work she would lecture about how we shouldn’t have accepted the toys because they were Christmas toys.  We would hear this lecture repeated while she talked loudly to one of her many moronic friends.  That was one of her shaming techniques, castigating us to other people over the phone, talking loudly as though we didn’t exist or warrant discretion.  There were so many great things she could have said about the three of us, but there wasn’t bragging only condemnation.  She was fully invested in her misery and would continue to double down to make sure the coffers were full and joyless.  There was no winning, so I did like I did most nights.  I prayed I wouldn’t wake up a Jehovah’s Witness and every morning I still was with just more shame, guilt and self loathing.  But hey everyone has a story.  This is just mine about our UnChristmas. 


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I hear the choir of the Birdsong
Wandering eyes and weeping hearts
The darkness screams it’s sanity
And comes to me and cries to me
and comforts me…

And now I hold everything dear.

Awakened by the birdsong
tucked in light
The Blindness of Divineness
Captures my sight.

Two left feet clumsy in retreat
Dancing in defeat because they are always winning-

I created my own birdsong and now my is we.
The histories of the mysteries occupy me.
That is all and that is everything-

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Partnering with Pace

                                                                                       Partnering with Pace


In elementary school, it was a very special treat to be sent on a trip to Mr. Graham’s office.  Upon entry into the office you were delighted to a delicious aroma of cherry vanilla tobacco.  His office was tiny and immaculately clean, a desk adorned with his pipe and maybe a magazine at most, a window and cupboard for his tools.  Mr. Graham was one of the most important adults at our school.  He was our plant manager, he was our janitor.  He kept our school clean, orderly and in good condition.  He taught respect, productivity, honor and Pace. Our campus was his blackboard, his Being was our textbook.  He moved deliberately, openly and effectively.  He had partnered with Pace, exhibiting being and presence.  His being was his testament.  

 Mr. Graham was in his early seventies, very slim, and not particularly tall, but he had something that extended beyond physical prowess.  He had dignity and it was exuded in his mannerism, speech and a natural eloquence that lent him the same authority as the principal. 

Mr. Graham in his wisdom had partnered with Pace.  He never rushed.  He was never in a hurry.  As small children with bundles of energy and erratic movements Mr. Graham’s pace and predictability was a comfort to us.  After lunch he was methodically hosing off the benches, before school he cleared the yard of thrash and throughout the day, he did a variety of things.  Always with Pace.   It was as if he had some kind of special magic because our school of three hundred little kids and over a dozen teachers and even more staff was always very clean.  If a teacher needed him right away, she would give you a note and you would go to his office or find him on the yard.  He would greet you, slowly take the note, thank you and maybe utter an innocuous comforting phrase with a smile in his voice, “We’ll let’s see what we can do about this?”  As if you were actually going to do something.  He made you feel good when he talked to you, you felt valuable, included and that’s always special to little people who long to be in the world of big people.  His Pace allowed him to be kind, to be gentle, to relate- Simply to be present and in that presence he took care of hundreds of children and their teachers.   

So often we rush, multi-task, unsuccessfully trying to cram more into less.  We wouldn’t describe this as Pace where presence lends its unconditional Loving kindness. No this is the rat race where we are tired, impatient, anxious and irritable.    How do we partner in Pace?  When we are kind, gentle and acknowledge the sacredness of life and the gift of our fellow human beings, we naturally slow down.  Our world naturally and literally slows down and we do and create more with less.  We are then in the flow of life, we are present and we have partnered with Pace?  So don’t get up earlier, don’t stay up later.  Just be a nice person.  Seriously.  Be kind, gentle and engaged, be the person that exudes Pace. Let your being be your testament.


Corinthians 16;14 – Let all your deeds be done in Love

Yogananda Parmahansa – Don’t try to do too many thins at a time; perform the most important duties of life first, with heartfelt enthusiasm and close attention.






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A New World Family

Matthew 12:48,49,50 – But he answered, saying to him who told him, Who is my mother and who are my brothers? 49. And he pointed his hand to his disciples and said, Behold my mother, and behold my brothers. 50. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and my sister and my mother.”


A New World Family

Growing up, we all heard cliches like “blood is thicker than water” or “your family is all you got” or the ubiquitous term “family business”.  Though most of us lived by these rules and maybe are repeating them now, there is something disingenuous and inauthentic behind these statements.  Why?  They are statements of the Ego.  The Ego is aligned with fear, greed and dissatisfaction; it compares, evaluates and is always relentlessly searching for problems, difference and distinctions. The natural inclination is for human beings to mix and mingle without separation and limitations.  This is Love, the opposite of the Ego.  A true family is coalescing of humans in, by and through Love.  None of the cliché’s above reflects this indisputable truth of being.  Doubt this?  Take children from the around the world and put them in a playground.   Even if they don’t speak the same language they will be playing together within moments.  This is our natural state of humanity or natural state of grace.

This is further illustrated when tragedies occur such as tsunamis, earthquakes and or hurricanes.  Aid, money, food pile in from around the world because truly we are all related. We are all connected. We are a world family.

Like most Americans I was deeply affected by the 9/11 bombings.  Unlike most Americans, I was literally in that building six months before the explosion.  I was in the Windows of the World bar at the very top of the World Trade Center just a few short months before the tragedy.  I mourned.  The world mourned.  We are all related, we are family. Which leads me to the story of Kimeli one of my brothers; I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting in the flesh.

Kimeli Naiyomah was a destitute youth in Kenya.  He was on the very lowest rank of the class/caste system of his native Masai Tribe.  He had no family, no money, but a deep desire to go to school.  He walked with faith and holy intentions and accomplished the impossible of receiving an education in his native land.  Though, his class and standing had been established in his Masai Tribe, he didn’t not let their limitations, limit him.  He rebuked Ego and walk with Love. He attended school with the dream of being a doctor.  He didn’t have tuition, family status or influence but he had an intention to serve his fellow man and woman.  He had Love.  After completing all the training he could receive in Kenya, Kimeli began applying to schools in America.  A reporter from the Washington Post wrote a story on Kimeli and people responded.

“A scholarship from the University of Oregon, a plane ticket from a businessman in Florida and clothes and other materials he needed to survive in America paid for by another total stranger.”    The unnamed businessman and the “total stranger” were just brothers and sisters that Kimeli had not had the pleasure of meeting yet.

He studied at the University of Oregon and Stanford. Kimeli found himself in New York on 9/11.  He mourned as we all did, but what he did next was phenomenally human and familial.  He continue to stride in Love as he had throughout his life.

He wanted to soothe some of the worldwide pain by offering a cow to America.  In his land, a cow is a sacred possession, according to Masai legend God sent cattle to the Masai people and gave them the sole right to keep them.  One Elder of the Masai tribe described a cow as a “handkerchief to wipe away tears”. Kimeli told the elders of his plan to buy a cow and give it the American people who were suffering.  Though, they had never seen New York and couldn’t imagine buildings the size of the World Trade Center, they empathized, related and decided not to give one but 14 cows to America to assuage the suffering of their brothers and sisters thousands of miles away.  How can we ever be truly separate from each other? We aren’t.  The Ego might suggest we are separate but the Love deep inside of us that lends the life to our biological and spiritual cells knows we are family.

Ironically, it is sometimes those who don’t have anything that see everything.  In the idea of limitation, in the idea of his tribe, Kimeli had little or no value but instead of investing in the limiting ideas of the society he grew up in, he chose to invest and manifest the high vibrational qualities of the human heart.   He walked in the will of God and a little poor boy in Kenya grew up to help wipe away the tears of a suffering America.  He belonged to no one, so he was able to be with everyone and therein lies the unconditional Love that is our birthright. To who do you belong? The limiting scary box called the Ego- Or the limitless communion of humanity called Love.  Called Family.

When ego is lost, limit is lost.  You become infinite, kind, beautiful”- Yogi Bhajan






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