Lucky Pup, Luckier Humans

My dog is a big hit with some of my students. One in particular asked me when his birthday was a few days. We found him on the street near in a small town near Colca Canyon in Peru, so we’re not really sure of his exact age. Not wanting to confuse her, I told her the day we found her, which happens to be two years ago today. She replied that she hoped all his friends would come his birthday party, but “the little green men are everywhere and might get them sick”. Smart girl.

We had arrived back in Cabanaconde from a grueling hike down the canyon the previous day and we saw him again; this skeleton of a puppy that had a camouflage dog shirt on that covered his patchy brindle fur and rib cage, paint or something else stuck to his nose, and head bowed.

We didn’t plan to bring him back with us. First, we just wanted to get him food. After buying some tuna and talking with a store owner in the plaza, we confirmed he didn’t have a home anymore. He slept soundly in our hostel room, hardly making a sound and smelling like garbage. We brought him back to Arequipa for a veterinarian visit. The journey included hitchhiking a ride on a semi-trailer truck out of town to the Andean condor spot, another hitch on a moto with a small cargo bed on the back, and finally a bus. We learned there that he had moquillo, canine distemper and had no more plaque on his teeth, hence his stinky breath.

Since the beginning, Alqo has always been a road warrior. There’s a tiny space down by our feet that he can fit in? Done. A long walk around town to find a “dog-friendly” hostel? Okay, cool.

He enriched our trip by making us slow down, getting into extraordinary situations, and sleeping in interesting places. Instead of ending in Argentina, we stayed put in Peru for the next five months.

Happy adoption day, Alqo. I think you are lucky to have bumped into two bleeding hearts animal lovers back in that plaza, but we are even luckier to have you as our animal companion on these three crazy continents, making us laugh at your stinky breath yawns, your yoga positions, and how much you love to run when we go to the monte.


Laying down and ready
Strummed guitar strings slow,
Not even heard anymore.
The vision closes in and packs up
Runes, hieroglyphs, totems, masks,
Everything ancient collides into an single atom.

Of course, all this is the same,
Gifted from One Source.
Idols of the mind meet on an illusory Earth
And produce distance, distraction.
So much searching for something already here,
Closer to me than my jugular vein.
But who will listen?

Falling now,
Through the cushions, the floor
Underground and now,
Into deep, dark cosmos.
No mind, no body, no bother.
Melted into and meshed with something
Vast and Majestic.

Light on top of Light,
It is so crystal clear now.
A multiverse, rays of warmth
Reflected inward and outward
Like an empty house of mirrors.

No panic, only consuming Peace.
Reverberations of a single frequency hit
Where my head once was.
A silent whisper written onto my heart,
They need to remember.

Coming out
Bathed in the moonlight,
Awakened, fearless and ready.

The Reformation Within Myself Will Not Be Televised

Note: This is the first time I’ve written anything about me and Islam and shared it. I am hesitant to write this even now, mostly because I’m scatterbrained and a terrible writer. I linked to blog posts from others who are more knowledgeable in certain topics to keep this short. You might not know I’m Muslim. Or you might consider me too recent a convert, not informed enough. It should be obvious, but these are just my thoughts and I speak for myself. In some stricter circles, it might be considered inappropriate to do so without having some type of qualification. I don’t speak Arabic and I wasn’t raised in a Muslim household. But these are blessings and my reality. I am a Muslim by choice. I have unique perspective and a voice. As the Qur’an commands of us, we must come to know one another [49:13]. Here is a part of me.

Sometimes, I have the feeling I’ve lived two separate lifetimes. In some way, I have. It started when I woke up one morning after the doctors pulled a tube out of my throat in the ICU. That tube helped me breathe while my body and a drug cocktail dealt with inflamed membranes in my spine and brain, poisoned blood, and renal failure. It was a year after high school and I was hospitalized with meningococcemia. Before then, I was a very average teenager in the suburban sprawl of the San Gabriel Valley playing in a band, hanging out with friends, and going to shows. I lived in my bubble. But after that morning, something changed. I no longer desired to stay close to home and play video games on my free time. I wanted to use my brain. I needed to see and feel all life.

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