Am I special?

Am I special? If fortunate, we are taught by our parents or in grade school that we are the stars of our lives, unique to this world. For those of you who don’t know, I have been struggling with chronic illness for the past 4 years, which stems from my battle with cancer 8 years ago, and probably deeper than even that.

If I can’t get better, and my body fails to exist, and my soul goes who knows where, is this as unfortunate as it feels?

My family, friends, loved ones will mourn my departure, the movement will have one less advocate, my fields of interest one less pioneer. I will have been mostly unable to create and see finished many wonderful ideas I have had over the years.

Is this tragic? Or is it just my personal proximity to this ubiquitous daily occurrence that is death; tragic likely to my close circle, sad or unfortunate to some, and pretty irrelevant to the rest of the Universe.

It’s difficult to find meaning when one realizes this. I was probably 15 the first time I REALLY let this understanding sink in deeply. My daily life was forever changed, the knowledge of my relative unimportance nagged at my subconscious, and to my discomfort used to break through to the surface of my awareness a few times a day.

However now I realize that questioning ones significance is simply a universal step in the path of awakening. It’s an important one at that; to stay humble, to deflate the ego, to connect with vulnerability, mortality, and the oneness we all share as circumstantially voluntary participants in this existence we call life.

I believe that yes we are actually very special, but also not at the same time. We seem to be born as sparks from the same fire, coagulations of essence from the same cosmic substance. The quality of this substance previous to ego fabrication appears to be pure awareness. This awareness is not unique, its likely there are other beings in our universe who have this, but what is unique is our collective consciousness, our cultural narratives, wisdom, music, art. These are the phenomena that transcend our simple temporary existence, have the potential to reach millions, and to live on as ideas and creations unique to the human race.

Consciousness itself is a miracle of the Universe. Our cells were once the earth and the earth is simply star dust, remnants of supernovas and nebulas long ago. These particles found their way towards organizational coexistence after millions of years of evolution, and have constructed beings who are born to be aware of their temporary existence and inevitable departure.

We have so much potential to be a collective force of love and understanding, “enlightenment” and creativity, wisdom and knowledge, peace and equanimity.

An amazing truth is that when we look at history, whenever a culture undergoes a great tragedy, an ego death per se, they band together and embrace these principles of higher consciousness.

The same is true on the micro as the macro. For most people, its only when the shit hits the fan, or they are on their death bed, that they choose to reevaluate their lives and search deeply for what is most important to them. How long will it take for us to learn that we can and should do this on a daily basis, and not wait??

Those in power, with the most financial resources, who have played hard the game of capitalism, have at the same time vehemently suppressed their higher consciousness, their deepest moralities, their connection with nature and love for all of life. They are also the ones who are currently most effectively writing the macro stories, the current cultural narratives, and they must be dethroned from this if we are to evolve.

It seems to me that learning how to embrace death as a beautiful phenomena that gives great meaning to our lives rather than a terrifying one is of incredible importance to my and our journeys.

I am going to focus on how to shift the cultural narrative towards openly embracing the necessity of ego death, acceptance of mortality, and of not waiting until its too late to search deeply for what is truly most important in life.
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The Howler

His arms spread wide, seated with upper body swaying side to side, head tilted back the howler wailed and I felt a keen sense of awareness that this mans presence was otherworldly.  At this moment, I was fully immersed in the interpersonal catharsis, sitting at the edge of my seat with my feet firmly planted on the ground; tears streaming down my face as my cheek muscles contracted my mouth open, upwards into a maniacal expression of purging.  At what felt like the pinnacle moment of this spiritual duet, his voice sighed loudly, and in a tone completely foreign to what I’ve heard normally from his body, he said, “You must learn to surrender to death”, and quickly followed with, “I’m sorry”, as I felt my stomach contract and body lurch forward into a torrent of tears.

Of course, the spiritual energy channeling through my therapists body was indeed correct.

Internally, I could see and feel my self energy, or buddha nature, sitting next to my much younger self on his bed, holding this child as he was quivering for fear of death.  The fragile nature of our physical bodies, our inherent mortality, a return to the nothingness that was before we were born was too much for him to handle on his own.  Of course he wasn’t ready to surrender to death, how could he be?  Life, in all its beautiful awe and magnanimous glory had only begun to open up to him.  His desire to learn, to play, to grow, and to love was so incredibly bolstered in its magnitude, and so alive and sensitive in its nature, that to imagine the irreparable ending of such splendor invoked a tragic sense of despair.

I felt this so deeply I feel sick to my stomach remembering it now.

Throughout my life this sensitive Samskara (psychosomatic imprint of an experience), perhaps my most deeply wounded, has manifested an array of exiles and anxiety, paranoia, and depression.  For when we harbor a deep trauma, the wall we build around it inhibits the flow of spirit energy or chi.  This is what causes disorder.  Additionally, my personal “fire fighters” have worked hard over the years to ease the pain by first learning how to blanket my consciousness in a soft veil of hazy sleepiness, a dissociation technique that had me believing and fearing I was living in a dream from the age of about 7-12.  The dream state was an awful purgatory, an inherent feeling of something being always not quite right.

However my younger self did not realize that it wasn’t my mind, soul, heart, or consciousness that was the problem, it was a lack of spiritual community and self love and understanding, and the pushing away of my inner burdens that led to feelings of fear, aloneness, and rejection.

Now, after years of substance abuse, anxiety, hypochondriasis, obsessive fear of death, depression, and addictive behavior or “fire fighters”, it is now of the upmost importance that I find community and companionship with those also on the spiritual path of healing, creativity, love, and union with their buddha nature and divine consciousness.  I know I am on this path and feel committed to freedom from suffering so that I may be able to be of help and service to others amongst this chaotic world.

The unburdening that occurred yesterday, although not complete in its outward movement of my deepest heart thorn, was a huge step forward for me.  I can feel my spirit energy more loudly today, and can feel the Shakti, chi, or life force flowing through my body in a freer way.

Last night I danced, alone in my apartment in my underwear, for almost an hour to wonderful music.  I did yoga, handstands, and ecstatically moved my body in a way that greatly expanded my aura and kundalini energy.

I awoke with even more energy, and earlier on this sun filled day, shirtless after a frigid weekend I began my routine run to the beach.  I stopped beneath my “pull up tree” and jumped, gripping with both hands my usual tree branch.  However, as I contracted my biceps and felt my body rise, my legs, as if to their own will, rose with great speed and flung themselves over a different branch a foot or two away.  Before I was fully aware of the involuntary movements, I was climbing the tree, my body was at least, my SPIRIT?

My mind had no plans to make this happen, and despite a dead branch breaking when I went to grab it, I felt no fear.  I climbed straight to the top and and surveyed a magnificent view of the Newport reservoir and Easton’s beach.

It’s moments like these that I feel awe struck, full of wonder and deep respect for the human body, aware of the passion of the human spirit, and appreciation for the happy sad wisdom of the human heart.  And it’s true that we must learn to fully surrender to death, for until we do, the burden of fear will inhibit our spirits from feeling truly alive.

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Swimming in Strange Water – A collaboration with Samantha Katz (visuals)

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I am the child before being told how to draw trees,

the vehemently enraptured fingers twisting paint

making love to paper with green and brown snakes.

I am the sound shaper…

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within all humans lies dormant the young child who seeks mothers breast

quivering for fear of death

raw is the experience of its existence

unscathed is its consciousness

ego undeveloped

curiosity prevails

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Once or twice I wrote a thing or two about a friend I made in Louisiana.  She said she’d never met a critter so vial as I,  skin blanched of all serendipity,  stripped off taken and twisted,  rung out toxic juices dripping to the linoleum floor.

Female foot

Pathetic masquerades of camaraderie are nothing more than kerosine laced wicks,  slack lined and lustered,  awaiting my match and as arms flail the softness in my belly turns to a bubbling effervescent liquid,  spewing gaseous acid from the depths of my stomach to the roof of my mouth,  from the tiny ducts in my eyes to the vapid husks of soulless bones and flesh.  Long since the final gargled scream twitching tendons submit to death and as the last drops of blood are squeezed from severed arteries,  my feet dissolve into the putrid bog of fermenting fluids.

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sometimes

because of it

i feel nine hundred years old

often i feel twelve

much like the age of so many i view to be

young beautiful children

an inherent colloquium of individuals circumvent and sequentially circumcise

my individual experience

and render

a ubiquitous awe-aura filled

enigmatic nonsense

sensical non sensical madness

for fucks sake

the lines mean your face means this guidance means

nothing means

twelve letters dont mean

anything

everyone is twelve

:-)

We look for permanence in the smiles of others,

craving mad the stability of security.

A babies cry is loud for the comfort of love amongst the chaos of things.

We look for permanence in the smiles of others,

for their expression radiates the buddha light so important to the moral of:

the tribe

the children

the ill

the elders

the mothers

the warriors.

We need them, and we need their smiles,

for despite the incredible odds that were and are against you, you’re fucking alive!

A stunning coalescence of vibrating sun energy.

A divine coagulation of the primordial soup

and the triumphant magnum opus of evolutions grueling parade.

You, despite the violent perils inherent to the nature of our delicate mortality,

YOU ARE HERE

Now!

In the present moment

THIS moment;

and this one and this one and this one.

A wallflower on the hologram of sensory stimulation;

stuck there, not by choice but of by circumstance.

The serendipitous accumulation of causal phenomena moved your matter from hydrogen clouds sailing the vapid nothingness of space to the atomic furnace of a star to the supernova explosion of its guts.

It’s innards gave birth to a fertile nebula whose partial form condensed yet again into another shining furnace, whose body corralled a rotating community of cycling spherical forms, one of them the birthplace of electric Holon connections more complex than most…

The synergy of events that occurred before the fruition of your birth is outstanding! Unbeknownst to your consciousness was a time span so immense that one can only hope to attain a brief understanding of its magnitude.

But for you my friend, it all culminated into a single moment in time, the curation of your consciousness, the birth of your body!

Your awareness shines back onto the universe, a mirror of all that is.

We look for permanence in the smiles of others.

But then why

is staunch autonomy

the prevailing m.o. of normalcy?

Our society is consumed with consuming;

like a stressed snake that eats its tail,

a tail and its snake and its tail and

its mouth and its throat

and its swollen esophagus twitching

muscle spasms and tremors

gagging on the blood and remains of its existence…

I’ve read that there is no enlightenment without destruction;

one must destroy themselves, their ego, over and over again to experience higher states of consciousness.

Perhaps then we must continue to shatter our mirrors, collectively, as a society, over and over again until finally we can learn from our mistakes; until we can evolve in a way that it becomes largely understood that we must care for and polish clean the incredible gift we have been given.

Perhaps then we can all shine the universe back onto itself, and to each other, and like a hall of infinity mirrors see one another in our vibrant, luminous, reflective surfaces, an epic positive feedback loop that condenses the rays of the sun and burns forever a light of awareness, illuminating on a grand scale the darkest parts of humanity in the same way that as accomplishes on personal level, the simple smile.

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Childhoods End//the only way to cope with tragedy

(Early this morning, after awakening abruptly from a vivid dream, in a foggy semi-lucid state I wrote the following “stream of consciousness” then soon fell back to sleep.  After a few minor spelling edits, I have posted here to share.)

In a dream, my mouth gave birth to large smooth dove-soap shaped pieces of platinum.  I was in a large warehouse factory that made nondescript things.  I knew they were sacred (the platinum bars), bestowed some epic power by the omniscient forces at be.

My mother said perhaps we should make something meaningful out of them, matching jewelry or rings.  She looked me in the eyes, and with a palpable sadness said, “For this may be the last time we both experience each other alive.”

I knew what this meant, that when we both die, the aliveness of our maternal connection, the rawness of childhood and parent-child joyfulsad relationship, will disappear forever.  Or at least, with a sunken heart it felt that way.

We were sitting in a car outside of the factory while having conversation when a large hovering robot started to spray our windshield with insecticide.  It was clear we weren’t supposed to be parked there so I drove around to the backside.

There was a large festival!  Behind the factory, hundreds of families gathered, listening to the big band play Nola style funk jazz music.  Brass, saxes, drum kit, standup bass, synths, singing, everything.

Many people were smoking marijuana, the scent of it a sweet skunky lingering amongst the gathering.  I sensed my mother put off by this, the pervasive lazy intoxication, she belittled the users as those without direction or contribution to the world.

I tried to explain that for some, it can cultivate higher cognitive experiences, fuel untethered thinking in a way that is good for the mind.  I think she understood, and seeing my friend/co worker Ahmed and his family, we sat down and I introduced them as the drum player began an epic solo, soldiers cheered, and children spun hula hoops and danced merrily.

—————————————————-childeyes

Psychosomatic Corpus-entropy  #TheUltimateSelfie

We are addicted to the screen, video games, and movies; addicted to the the boundless world wide web, the expansive virtual information machine.  And as alcohol’s temporary cascade into sultry drunk ecstasy is always met conversely, with illness and depression, so too lies inherently the repercussive asphyxiation of our hearts and souls.

Light pixels – Resolution – YouTube – Facebook – Friend updates – Articles – News – #Hashtags – Reddit – RPGs – Avatars – Advertisements – High definition – Art – Pornography – Music – Likes – Videos – Skype – Photos – Podcasts – Emails – Shopping

Screen technology is the most pervasive and insidious drug of our time and I am just one of billions who have found myself captured by the entrainment.  It’s causing problems.  The pings of social stimulation, the rewards of virtual friendship affirmation, of lust and of love, unlocked levels, virtual experience points, and clicking every little captioned box with a weird or sexy photo will serve to destroy us all.  We need a revolution instead of better resolution.  Or rather, a resolution to curb the addiction, the obsession, to say no to the constant urge for information, the craving for a “quick fix” connection… before it is too late. Because Albert Einstein wasn’t wrong:

“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”

I’ve read that the legitimacy regarding the origin of this quote is debatable, but regardless it’s timely message rings true.  For indeed we are moving towards a future of continual permanent connection to the wireless information grid.  Google glass was just the beginning.  Imagine visual implants placed directly on our brain that utilize fiber optic technology (optogenetics), firing along neural pathways into our visual cortex by micro computers: Facebook friend likes and Viral Nova, ebola and online dating, ISIS and Upworthy, I fucking love science and corporate advertisements.

Instead of inviting a friend over to hang, on your global wifi connected mental computer you’ll toggle through your que of instant messages, thinking words that are automatically typed then sent from your brain.  Instead of starting a conversation with the attractive person sitting at the cafe 10 feet from you, you’ll miss them entirely while mentally swiping left and right the profile pictures of humans 7 miles, 15 miles, 4 miles, and 28 miles away.  According to the app, it’s “how we meet“.

When broadcasting our every thought, move, meal, purchase, adventure becomes madly obsessive, we might as well provide a live feed into our 5 senses.  #TheUltimateSelfie.

And some day, this may come to fruition

After all, our brains speak the language of electrochemical pulses, not impossible to mimic with the previously mentioned micro computers and fiber optics technology.  Virtual reality implanted into ones brain so powerful as to convincingly replicate true reality will become possible soon.  And with this will follow “live feed” technology providing “life sharing” and unfortunately “life hacking”.  The former ones allowed virtual sharing of ones personal sensory experience with another, the latter ones hacking someones feed without permission. Imagine the implications here.  They are astounding.

A world were “Being John Malkovich” and “Ghost in the shell” are no longer fictional scenarios.

Continuous Partial Attention is a term already in existence that describes one who is never fully involved in their penta-sensory present moment, always half obsessed, distracted, two fingers pressed hard on the pulse of the virtual world.  Consequently, I believe that Psychosomatic Corpus-entropy will be coined a legitimate medical term as constant connection to our virtual mind computer world will cause our bodies to deteriorate.  Corpus-entropy, body degeneration, our adrenals fried from over stimulation, our souls crushed from lack of real life connection.  Disease is inevitable when our bodies are deprived of exercise, care, and introspective attention, and of real life interpersonal love and human affection.

I’m sure this condition already frequently occurs on a lesser scale with those completely addicted to online gaming, immersed in game play for the greater part of their waking lives.  CPA promotes PCE which perpetuates the masochistic cycle by fueling again more CPA until like a shaded flower starved of sunlight, the neglected body wilts away.

I feel that when assessing technology, there is one most pertinent question to ask: “Is this good for my body, or is this bad for my body?”  Our minds can’t be trusted, they are too easily corrupted, swayed by addiction. Ultimately, what is good for our body is what is good for everyones body, including plants, animals, and our planet as well.  We should be seeking to strengthen our connection with mother nature, the universe, other life forms, and each other in real life non-technologically diluted relations.  This is what I feel is best for everyone.

However, our minds want a quick fix of connection, repeated short bursts of dopamine and oxytocin pavlovian rewards of virtual worthiness affirmation.  But just like refined sugar in its inability to sustain our bodies with nourishment, friend likes and instant messages, tweets and snapchats will never truly fulfill our longing for human connection.  Certainly not spiritual connection. So, what to do?

For the same reasons I decided to omit refined sugar from my diet, cease my consumption of alcohol and caffeine, and relinquish the viewing of pornography, I feel I now must greatly reduce my daily allowance of internet stimulation. It must be limited.  My desire for knowledge should be quenched via the consumption of books, experiments, and real life conversations like the salons of previous generations.  Desire for human connection should be met via the exploration of my social surroundings, real life interactions with friends, family, and choosing to meet new folks daily.  Sexual energy should be shared with a real human I love, taken care of personally without pornography, or channeled into something creative.  The addiction to my mind should be met with compassion and the dedication to return to a meditation with the body practice.  I know that focusing on body/spirit connection currently will help greatly with my choice to limit technological stimulation.

Because unlike the destruction of our environment, it isn’t too late.  Neuroplasticity is a wonderful phenomena and proves that we can undo the damage of addiction.  Like all addictions, the first step is awareness.  I will be mindful of my actions and urges and will approach them with a quality of compassionate attention.  I will forgive myself for falling into the temporary entrapment of another unhealthy obsession.  And I will choose to “reboot” like environmental writer David Roberts and mindfully curb my addiction before it is too late.  I truly hope this will inspire you and others to do the same before we actually are reduced to a sickly “generation of idiots”.

P.S.  Please read David’s article “reboot or die trying” as it is wonderfully written and inspired much of this post.

Sociocultural existential technology assessment rant complete for now.  End transmission. DSC_2575 copy

Grandma’s Bowl

I broke my grandmother’s large glass salad bowl tonight.  It was hand painted, embellished with bright red tomatoes and green vines.  I was trying to extract the measuring spoons I use for everything from the trembling dish rack, encumbered with dishes piled high.  I imagine this act has been the precursor to innumerable dish fatalities across the globe.  The little tea cup in your cupboard awakens nightly, sobs to the tea kettle, and relays with vivid clarity this nightmare.

“It was my grandmother’s I think, originally,” I heard my dad tell his girlfriend in his studio.

She came into the kitchen and said, with care, “Perhaps we can glue it back together?”

This seemed ridiculous to me, it would definitely never be functional again.  However as a symbolic object, representing perhaps salvation or rebirth, or well… “No.  The continuing attachment to material things is pointless, as everything we own is temporary,” quickly interrupted the buddha inside of me.

My concern then turned towards my father.  I could sense that hidden behind his typically stoic demeanor, this bowl had some sentimental value.  Of course it did.  I walked into the room, apologized, explained what happened, and for his sake offered to glue it back together.

“You’ll cut yourself,” and, “it’s ok, it wouldn’t work, nothing lasts forever so don’t worry about it.”

So we left it in the copper sink where the fatal accident occurred.  Amazingly, all of the pieces had been collected, via gravity and serendipity, in the large yellow plastic popcorn bowl that had initially lay on top of it in the dish rack.  I saw it tumble, the yellow popcorn bowl, and somehow knew the treasure it held inside.  The yellow bowl bounced, the glass bowl did not, and with a loud noise it collapsed into five jagged shapes; all of which somehow ended up resting softly, contained neatly in the bottom of the popcorn bowl.  “Fucking shit, damn it all to hell!”, were my exclamations.  And this is where it lay, untouched for hours.

I debated leaving it there overnight, not wanting to move it from its sacred resting place; however considered again my father who wakes much earlier than I, and knew that inevitably if I didn’t take care of it tonight it would be he in the early morning.

I couldn’t bear the thought of him cleaning up the remains of his deceased mothers’ salad bowl.

So I stared at the remnants, which begged the question, “How do I dispose of such a thing?”

And indeed, I did cut myself while handling the remains.  The blood oozed red from my fingers, not unlike the hand painted tomatoes.  “What irony, and symbolism,” I thought, “this will be perfect for a short story.”

Actually, it didn’t work quite like that, the inspiration for writing that is.

It came at a more sinister time.  It came when I heard my despondent fathers response for what would be the final resting place of the heirloom.  “Just put it in a box and throw it away.  I don’t think they recycle broken glass.”

I felt an onset of subtle sadness, a chilled pool of emotion that stayed this way only briefly until the fire of fear that always accompanies the thought of death crackled the ice, fizzed hot the surface until the vapors distilled in the surrounding air.  The feelings quickly ebbed as my protectors and rational mind chose to label the phenomena as not timely, impractical for the moment, and best kept in a box of its own.

I went down to the basement and found a discarded cardboard pizza container.  I recognized it as being the receptacle that harbored a gluten free veggie pizza my dads girlfriend bought for him a few days earlier.  You see, my fathers been receiving lots of culinary junk in the form of ice-cream milkshakes, cookies, cakes, pizza, and booze since he broke six ribs and shattered his collar bone a little over a week ago.  It’s ludicrous the poison we gift each other during times of healing.

Yes, the pizza box would be perfect.

However, it needed a good taping before it would have the structural integrity to uphold its new purpose.  I went over to the wall of the basement that displays all of my dads tools, neatly arranged on peg board, grouped of course by functional application.  I found the “tape up a cardboard box” section and discovered many options.  Electrical tape was too puny, duct tape overkill and too valuable to throw away, but yes clear packing tape would work just fine.

As I ran my fingernail around the smooth, shiny outermost layer of the tape roll, searching for the slightly raised edge, I stared out of focus at the dismantled pizza box placed on top of the bass amp in front of me.  Suddenly, it all felt morbid, deranged… and I felt like a coffin maker who, perhaps while sober or on psychedelic drugs was experiencing an existential crisis that looked something like running down the street naked, waving his hands high, and yelling:

“We’re all in boxes man!  We live in boxes, we work in boxes, our culture is in boxes, we go to school in boxes, we buy our food in boxes, we buy everything in boxes, our egos are in boxes, our hearts are in boxes, and we die in boxes!  Everything is in boxes, don’t you get it?!”

No one gets it, someone calls the cops, and the coffin maker gets thrown in a box.

The end.

Well, not quite yet.  I finished taping up the cardboard coffin and brought it upstairs to the scene of the incident. Within the enclosure of the yellow bowl in the sink still remained the jagged carnage.  I “tetris’d” the pieces inside the box, careful not to cut myself again, and taped the opening of the container shut. Then I walked over to the basement door with the box.  It felt like it held the remains of a dead hamster, my childhood cat “Artemis”, or even some of my grandmothers’ ashes.  Indeed, it did remind me of the time I walked with Artemis’s ashes, my mom and brother in close proximity, out to the rocks at Sachuest Point in Middletown, Rhode Island.  We said a little prayer for our beloved companion and tossed her small body, reduced to carbon, over the ocean into the wind.

The glass bowl did not receive such a ceremony.  Instead, I opened the basement door and placed the coffin in the cavity to the left of the stairs, on top of the blue recycling bin.  I’d be damned if I let this package of conspicuously functional materials wind up in a landfill.  And with that thought, I walked away.

I can imagine my father now, reading this tomorrow on his portable flat box, luminous with photon pixels inside a black plastic frame.

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Attitude

Our attitude is the combination of the quality of our thoughts, our bodies’ health, our feelings and emotions, and our souls’ vitality.  Our attitude is the most influential force behind the experience of our subjective consciousness.  Our attitude effects every decision we make and changes how we relate to other humans, ourselves, and how others relate to us.

It is amazing then, that even after knowing this to be true, and understanding the power of cultivating a positive attitude, that we find it so difficult to do so.

I feel the task relies on mining deep to find hope, to uncover meaningful reasons to feel positive and importantly ones that we truly believe in.

It is difficult work, but if one looks hard enough, mines deep enough, there is almost always a reason to feel hopeful, lucky, blessed, healthy, strong, content, and loved.

However, it is also possible to adopt the “fake it til you make it” mentality.  One of the best examples I can relay from personal experience involves my three years as a pedicab chauffeur.  For those who are unfamiliar with this occupation, I rode a large three wheeled bicycle capable of carrying several passengers in exchange for “generous tips”.  Unless you work in New Orleans, or during city sanctioned events, it is not legal to charge an actual fare for your time.  It is therefor up to the charm and wit of the pedicab driver to persuade their passengers into feeling that the leg powered taxi ride was worth a phenomenal tip.

And believe me, I’ve tried everything.  But I found that the single most important factor that seemed to influence my customers generosity, the most influential mystical energy that seemed to consistently loosen their wallet, was my attitude.  If I was having a shitty night, perhaps someone stiffed me (left the cab without paying at all), or gave me $5 for a ride that was entirely up hill, inevitably my moral would begin to lower.

At this point, I found it crucial to “fake it til I made it”.  No matter whether I felt incredibly bummed out, I could never, ever let this be known to my customers.  If I did, it would begin the downward spiral of an off night… and it is these “off” nights that all pedicabs are aware of, talk about, have experienced, and dread.  They’ll send you home at midnight quicker than your parents ninth grade curfew.  For an off night would beget a strange phenomena to occur.  People would tip me less when I was unhappy.

This seems counter intuitive right?  One would think that the average tourist, enjoying their vacation with some money to burn, would jump at the chance to spread their joy to a sorrowful soul.  Nine times out of ten, not true.  Here’s why: people don’t like to lose their buzz.  Ever.  You really think they’re going to reward you for being a drag on their party?  Do the cops get invited in to do keg stands?  Not often.  If you’re a downer, people want to ignore you.  You’re an inconvenience.

So every time I got ripped off, or another pedicabber stole my ride, or I got tipped like a barista, I’d turn up the music and like Andrew W. K., I’d “party harder”.  My tips would always improve along with my attitude, and sometimes I’d even get a benji ($100 tip).

However, faking it until you make it is not always appropriate, and we mustn’t always turn a blind eye towards our shadow self and the darker sides of life.

For example, this past year ongoing health complications have led me to fear I may be sick with cancer again on many occasions.  Because of this, I am now on a mission to do “oyster work”… to make a pearl out of a nasty situation.  An oyster doesn’t just pretend like dirt or sand hasn’t entered its permeable shell.  It instantly deploys a mechanism to rid itself of the irritant; it begins to coat the intrusion with an organic substance known as nacre until a pearl is formed.

It is time for me to make a pearl by:

Finding passion, meaning, and purpose again in life.

Focusing on health and spirituality.

Helping those who are less healthy, less hopeful.

Most importantly, it is time to help myself and others to maintain a positive attitude.

Because I am not dying.  No more than the average human.  Not yet at least…

And although it IS important to remember that at any moment our life could end, fear inhibits ones ability to truly live while ones alive.  Probably the wild originator of gonzo journalism said it best:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

― Hunter S. Thompson

Life is too fucking short to worry about death all of the time.  Instead, let’s all have an outstandingly epic “Ride”.  How’s that for an attitude?

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Home IS where the heart is

Provided you have access to food, water, shelter, freedom, good people, and the love in your heart, wherever you are in the present moment is no different than home.  Because in theory, home is but a state of mind reliant on a set of beliefs.  In actuality, home is where the heart is.  While you are alive you will always be with your heart.  So as long as you allow yourself to access this marvelous “muscle”, relish in the fortune of aliveness, and choose THIS as your state of mind, you will always be home.

Rumi “Light”

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

Rumi

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  When we were children, we were full of “Light”.  But as incredibly open, curious, loving beings, we soon became jaded by the sickness of our culture and society and the difficult truths of our human condition.  We became wounded when we were exposed to violence, hatred, oppression, separatism, materialism, ego centricity, fear, death, and the realness of our own mortality.  Our soul felt this pain most, especially as it began to feel that it is totally alone here, and that our experience is solely ours and can never be truly shared.  At this point, forces in our subconscious made a decision to protect our spirit (light) from eternal heartbreak, sadness, fear, and loneliness.  They built a wall.

Like a classic fortress, this wall has turrets and a large deep moat that only a lowered draw bridge will allow one to cross.  Our inner protectors man the turrets, and rarely drop the bridge.  they do this for your own protection.  So that you can wake up each day, make your breakfast, drink your tea or coffee, and plan a day in society that looks like school, or work, grocery shopping, paying bills, buying a new cell phone etc… all without every day having an existential crisis!

We must thank these proctors for making it possible for us to exist in modern society; however, the creation of this fortress came with a serious price.

This wounded source energy, light, spirit, soul, whatever name you choose… this life force that our fortress so dutifully protects is full of rapturous passion, insatiable curiosity, and unconditional love.

I believe that this phenomena, this fortress is THE reason for our international depression “epidemic”.  It sucks energy from our bodies to keep the fortress intact, yet all the while what the fortress holds inside is an immense source of energy.  This directly causes apathy and depression at its most benign, and a disassociation from love and our interconnectivity that leads to hatred and violence at its worst.

America and most developed/developing nations current state of emotional sickness is a SPIRITUAL crisis.  Not one of chemical imbalances or genetics as pharmaceutical companies rely on you to believe.

Most humans are depressed because we are not connected with our source energy, our life force, our spirit.  This is why we don’t listen to our bodies and eat poisonous food, stare at screens in offices for 8 hours a day, drive our cars everywhere, and work jobs we often dislike just to give all the money back to the 1% who own everything and our government who spends it all on the military.  The detachment from the health of our bodies and source energy passion leads to sickness of the mind/body/spirit which perpetuates depression in a feed back loop.  This is the cycle of disease, and it begins with the fortress.

Some folks may be thinking, “well, we all just cant re-connect with our spirits, quit our jobs, and throw away everything away we’ve worked so hard for.”  They’re naturally afraid for the quality of their lives and that of their families, and feel as though there is no other way.  This is understandable.

However, what most don’t realize is that they’ve been brainwashed since birth to literally buy into the current socio-economic system of capitalism and consumerism.  The tiny house movement is just one example of humans autonomous resilience in the face of a patriarchal plutocracy.  An unlearning of the modern american illusion of success, excess, and monetary wealth is key here.

If the majority can unlearn this madness, I believe it IS possible for us all to re-connect with our inner spirits and to find another way to coexist on a grand scale.  This alone will free our egos from attachment to consumerism, materialism, separatism, ego centricity, and the aloneness, fear, and ultimately violence that ensues.  I believe it is imperative that we do find another way as this current system will not last.  It will destroy us all.

If you’re still reading, thanks! I love you.  Here’s a friendly reminder of a few activities that will help coax your protectors into dropping the drawbridge:

Cultivate a mindful love and curiosity towards the younger parts of you that are wounded, dance, meditate, practice yoga, exercise, love, spend time with family and friends who don’t bring you down, laugh, prepare and eat healthy food, spend time in nature, swim naked, volunteer, make music, build something, sing a song, help someone in need, make something instead of buy, barter, trade, skill share, play with a child, tell a joke, teach something, be creative, ART of all kinds, write, learn something new, hang out with some animals, tend a garden, healing medicines, acupuncture, massage, energy healing, IFS holistic psychotherapy, psychedelic drugs (with spiritual/medicinal intentions), spiritual rituals, climb a mountain, camp in the woods, travel, swim in the ocean, jump off a huge rock into the water, STEP OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE AND SMILE.

cavecoupleshadow

“At any moment, you have a choice, that either leads you closer to your spirit or further away from it.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh