I am a freelance author, writer, critic, artist, and entrepreneur living in the Heart of the Texas Hill Country.
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There is such an incredible tool out there for all of us to utilize that allows us to live the most fulfilling lives as possible, and the vast majority of us are not utilizing it. I've read a number of proposals scattered about Facebook and other social media sites that promise to improve your life whether socially or financially or spiritually, they all claim that it's spectacularly easy and that they've discovered some secret that we are all capable of finding or that we already have and are unaware of that would allow us to finally reach the maximum potential, to be the best possible versions of ourselves, and then, of course, they hit you with the sudden realization that it's only going to cost you 12 easy payments of $129.99.
But, here's the thing: there is an incredible tool out there for all of us to utilize that will allow us to live the most fulfilling lives possible, and it's true that the vast majority of us are not utilizing it. But I'm not going to charge you for this secret. I'm just going to tell you, and then I'm going to write about it, or continue writing about it.
The secret is to...
Maybe it sounds ridiculous to you, however, it is true. I cannot imagine what could be more satisfying than discovering what it is that you enjoy doing whether it be a hobby or a career or anything.
What do you enjoy doing?
And once you do finally figure it out everything tends to become more clear, and easier, and paths open up to you that you may not previously have noticed.
Yvon Chouinard founded Patagonia, Inc. in 1973. He and some friends took a trip down the California coast line and continued through Mexico and South America to what is known as Patagonia, a region at the south most of South America. Chouinard is an outdoors-man: a surfer, a climber, and environmentalist who decided he wanted clothing and equipment that suited his lifestyle, so he made it.
Yvon Chouinard an example of someone who realized his passion and turned it into a career. Although discovering what it is that you enjoy, that your passionate about does not have to reap financial gain, sometimes it's just a bonus.
Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain were musicians, and they were incapable of being anything but, however they were both famous for actively criticizing the industry. Yes, they made a career of it, and yet, for them, it was like breathing. They discovered what they loved and they pursued it.
This is the secret that so many people cannot see, when you’re feeling stuck or trapped in a sort of purgatory it’s solely because you’re not actively participating in whatever it is that would otherwise drive you. We have all struggled with this at some point in our lives, and it presents itself in a myriad of ways.
Whatever it is that you enjoy, or the list of things that you enjoy figure it [them] out.
Discover what your passionate about and do it. And if you cannot figure out how to monetize it, yet, don’t worry about it, find a way to supplement your life that allows the means to pursue your passion until you can. Actively do what you love, and don’t let anything...anything or anyone interrupt you from doing it. Again, call it a hobby if you have to, if that’s what it takes for your parents or spouse or friends to offer your their encouragement; as long as you’re doing it.
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is an amazing source to find a starting point and, in some ways, to help you realize your passion, but it’s not the only source, and it’s not the only way.
Getting to know yourself opens up avenues beyond interests, even. It's utility can improve your physical, emotional, and mental health, it can help you to develop your social skills, and it can expand the way that your perceive the world. Paying attention to how you feel, physically, and what foods (or ideas) improve your health and which decrease it.
I enjoy writing, bouldering, learning, teaching, books, music; I enjoy telling stories using traditional as well as atypical ways and the act of creation, and ideas.
What do you enjoy?
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Myths and mythology for much of my life I found to be ingenuous and unworldly; myths went as far even as to annoy me, and I think that for a long time I saw them as unnecessary childlike guides that were intended to help us to interpret our world, and when it occurred to me that-that is exactly what they were the simplicity of it steadily grew on me, and suddenly I felt as if the necessity of myth was more important for our humanity than I was once able to accept, I began to perceive mythology from an emotionally intellectual vantage, and that changed the way that I perceive myself, and the world around me.
We tell stories to help us to understand ourselves and our worlds in ways more spiritual and emotional than we are--or were--otherwise able to acknowledge, however when we take those tales at face value when we ignore the intention and the power of mythology as it affect us spiritually and emotionally we ignore a guiding principle at the root of the human experience. Some myths we dismiss as fairy tale while others are so blindly accepted that we believe them to be literal and not parabolic, and from either perspective we lose a great deal of understanding, and of purpose.
“People say that we we’re all seeking is a meaning for life…I think what we are really seeking is an experience of being alive.” ~ Joseph Campbell
It became abundantly clear to me that we have rapidly abandoned a sense of self for the sake of convenience and diplomatic submissiveness, and we did so, I believe, from a fear of self-reflection, the great professor and writer Joseph Campbell coined the term “follow your bliss,” a modern manifestation of similar phrases such as “Know your own happiness,” (Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility; 1811) , “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing,” (Dale Carnegie, quoted by Jill Murphy Long in her book Permission to Play: Taking Time to Renew Your Smile; 2003) and others, and still for one reason or another it can be incredibly daunting being asked to find what makes you happy and then to do it [often], for a number of reasons, if not that people get stuck—we feel stuck. I know that personally I have struggled a great deal with the concept: the idea that once you discover who you are, and/or what you’re supposed to do everything should simply fall into place, which, of course, begs the question: well, how the hell do I do that? And, what if I never actually find out who I am, or what I’m supposed to be doing?
I have suffered from numerous creative blocks throughout my life that have affected me in ways: emotional, physical and intellectual, and every one of them was based the subconscious ideal that I really don’t have all that much to offer, and so I would kind of shut down at first and then that attitude would become a very real part of my personality. Like in the Jim Carrey Movie, Yes Man (2008). I actively sought different ways to change the way that I process thought and that I perceived that world. And yet the incredible healing power of myth has always been readily available, the issue has become that many of us have been conditioned to perceive myth as the childlike fairy tale only, and not encrypted parables developed to model and oversee our emotional and spiritual selves.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that mythology is archaeological psychology. Mythology gives you a sense of what a people believes, and what they fear.” ~ George Lucas.
Religion is a mythology that wears the mask of its own certainty, a parable which has been denied the possibility of evolution, and the only thing, the only idea since its inception that has been disallowed to evolve. Revelation 22:18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll; if anyone adds to them God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. Joseph Campbell said something along the lines of: the narrative of Christianity can stay the same; the myths are based in truth, it just needs to incorporate modern myths in order to successfully associate with a contemporary ideology.
Myths allow us to conceptualize feeling and our spirituality in ways that would otherwise be difficult if not impossible for many to understand. These stories offer us a way to relate exactly in the only way that we are—or were—capable, as a reflection of the physical self. Consider the Roman or Greek pagan Gods, for example, and specifically the fact that there were so many: God(s) of the Sun, God(s) of War and of Love and others, many of us who have been raised with the perception that God is a being the origin of our image, whether we believe in God or not, and we attribute that to the Roman and Greek Gods of myth, but, in reality, these gods were merely vessels, the personification of what we might not understand in order for us to relate to the myth, and to our world. Campbell refers to them [God(s)] as an energy, or a reflection of the Sun or of War or of Love. Myth opens us up to the energies of the universe so that we can relate, and experience our universe on an emotional level.
Unfortunately we canonized the ethos of our myths, the space holders—the characters—and allowed the truths that, “All the Gods, all the Heavens, and all the Hells are within [you] us…” To be appropriated and manipulated and turned into fairy tales and further for our general perception of what a myth is to be distorted.
Have you ever wondered why we accept the standards from which we build the foundation of so many of our ideas upon? Have you ever looked at a definition, for example, and wondered why it was necessary to suggest, as an addition to the definition, that something might be, “A widely held but false belief or idea?”
Myths offer us only an opportunity to relate to our world and ourselves in ways that we otherwise may not be able, by inviting us to explore the energies and the many experiences that we are capable of in our lives, experiences that, without our myths, we may otherwise neglect or be guarded against.
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It feels as if I have written a number of these, but never quite like this—I suppose—at least not how I might intend for this to come across; losing someone to death is difficult for people to understand and to cope with, especially when someone so young leaves us, to the point at which our common response is to offer condolences for our loss. To me it just seems to be more, I don’t know, comprehensive than that, aside from the unusually acquisitive the typical response discerns, I don’t know I think I take more exception to the idea that someone might actually be lost. I’ll return to more about what I mean by that later.
A number of people that I went to high school with have passed away, and it seems like an unusually high number of people to lose from a single class. I knew all of them, however there were only a few I knew well. I remember very well when Ben Shrear, Marina Becker, and Mary-Beth Farmer passed away, and very distinctly, and the three of them—until last year—affected me the greatest; last year Heather Vogt passed away, and I knew her fairly well, in high school, though we didn’t speak much afterwards—I moved away and rarely spoke to anyone from home (an unconscious decision that I now regret). There is a Boerne High School Class of ’03 Facebook group, and one of my classmates maintains a collection of people that have passed away, and it seems as if we lose someone every year, and every year for the last five or six years. Last week I learned that another of our Boerne High School class of 03’ classmates passed away, Christina Welch. And her loss kind of hit me, again. Not as hard as Heather, but it was enough. The thing is-is that Christina did not like me—at all really, and I had never been too understanding of her either. Her memorial was today, and actually it continues presently, as I type this. I wanted to go, however I felt as if it might be inappropriate, and still I knew that if I didn’t at least make an attempt I would regret it. So, I drove to the Ye Kendall Inn, where Christina’s memorial is being held, and I stood in the doorway for a few moments, and I looked around the room—the memorial was beautiful, but still it felt too intimate for me; someone who, as far as anyone else there might be concerned, was there only for the recognition of having been there, and the free food—so I paid my own respects from the doorway, and I left.
I knew someone many years ago who remained close with Christina, and one of the first thoughts circling through my head when I learned that Christina had passed away was of Christina’s friend, this someone who I had once known, I wanted to reach out to her, and to express my own compassion—in some way other than “I’m sorry for your loss.”—really just do acknowledge what she, and everyone else would be going through. I could not do it. I thought about reaching out to her for days, and even came close a number of times, but in the end I couldn’t.
I think differently that many people do. I process life, and people, and ideas, and situations, and death very differently than is normal, and throughout my adult life I have made it a point to develop what I consider a talent out of the way that I process things, and as I develop it more and more, fewer and fewer people make sense to me, although the few people that do hold a more profound and essential place in my heart, and in my life. The same process has allowed me to recognize that regardless of how well I may have been able to understand Christina it was still important for me to acknowledge her, and her life, and those that will be continue to be afflicted by her loss.
Those of you who are reading this that know Christina or Heather or Mary-Beth or Marina or Ben and for those of you that did not, and yet have inevitably suffered loss I ask you to consider that they are not lost, but that they will continue to exist, and not just in our memory or our hearts, but quite literally within us. We knew them in one way only, a way that allowed us to see them, and to hold them, and to laugh with them, but now we have to learn how to know them differently: imagine how you felt when they were around, at the best times, or the worst, when one of us suffered and the other brought solace all you have to do is think about those moments and the feelings will resurface and with that you will feel them again, as well. Imagine if their feelings, in the way that they only were capable of feeling and understanding and relating to them was shared with your own every time you thought about them.
If that is difficult for you to do try considering the possibility that we made a mistake when accepting the idea that we were created in the physical image of God, and that instead we were created in the emotional image of God, and that we’re capable of relating to-, and experiencing those that we lost exactly as they were—in their emotional image. I am affected by death but I rarely feel loss and I rarely feel sadness, because were some people cannot learn to relate to someone that has passed away differently, and in that place where they once occupied they feel emptiness, I still feel them, and I know that we are all capable of finding people that we thought were lost if we are willing to relate to them a little differently. I take comfort in knowing that Christina is still here, and I hope that the idea might offer some comfort to those of you whom are having difficulty finding it.
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Does anyone remember that documentary What the Bleep Do We Know!?? The film that brought quantum mechanics, and human consciousness into mainstream society. A commercial interest in physics exploded in the newly evolved social mediasphere and it took all the Millennials with it. I really enjoyed it, the film, as did everyone my age that went through the “Rabbit Hole,” but there was one aspect of the film that really intrigued me: a brief interjection of commentary discussing the writings and experiments of Masaru Emoto. Now, for those of you whom are unaware Masaru Emoto is the author of The Secret Life of Water, Hidden Messages in Water, The Shape of Love, and other fantastic books. Emoto believed that water was, essentially, a blueprint for our reality. The frequencies and vibrations of our world could be channeled and enhanced by water, and that water is a conduit of energy. The idea is…OK, take The Law of Attraction, for example, and the concept that our thoughts affect our reality, now consider for a moment that there might be a scientific, physical explanation of the idea that our thoughts are capable of affecting water through vibrations, and that because everything is made up of water molecules that water might be a conductor of thought which allows for the manipulation of reality. Are we all on the same page? Because if not I will be explaining it further momentarily.
Masaru Emoto is most commonly known for doing vibration experiments with ice crystals. When you freeze, and then unfreeze water there are very, very brief moments before thawing when the water creates crystalloid shapes. Masaru Emoto thought to photograph these crystals, and he applied the idea that different non-physical variables might affect the crystals, for example: different types of music playing, speaking with both negative and positive intention and tone, writings, etc., basically what I’m talking about the is epitome of New Age bullshit, you know, how our feely feelings affect our surroundings, but when perceived from a scientific perspective. I suppose that another way of putting it is to say that I have reached the point in this blog where if the GOP cannot kill it, or eat it, and it cannot be explained metaphorically somewhere between Jonah and the Whale and Noah’s Ark then it’s quite possible that I have become a dangerous liability to the illusive American standard.
Masaru Emoto discovered that when being expressed positive thoughts or intentions in the form of positive verbal, auditory, and written stimuli it would affect the vibrations and frequencies traveling between ‘the source’ and the water crystals, and they would form stunningly beautiful crystalloid shapes, and when expressed negatively the water crystals would appear misshapen and deformed. As a result Emoto discovered that our positive thoughts affected water in a very real way through measurable vibrations and frequencies that travel through all things, and he therefore began to express urgently how important positive thoughts are, and when you consider that the human body is made up of more than 70% water you might rethink the way that you live your life. See, for me, these concepts provide so much more insight, and a more logical framework for the genesis of our existence, and the development of our reality. And to be completely honest I do not understand how anyone could possibly disagree with it. The physics of quantum mechanics, the conception of spiritual evolution, and at the concentration of human connection can be expressed collectively by the discoveries of Masaru Emoto, and, as far as I’m concerned, where the three of these concepts meet we find a pinnacle understanding of our humanism.
I read Emoto’s books and found so many profound connections between the most difficult political, spiritual, and relationship questions that have challenged a belief that I had always felt, and yet I could never quite explain, and not just between one idea and another, but Masaru’s writings offered insight to various connections between ideas that I never even considered might connect.
Religion is deeply personal for the majority of the people on the planet, in one way or another, even atheism is responsible for strong stigmas regarding religious, or spiritual ideas for some of us. As far as my own beliefs I cannot deny that my upbringing was a case study of spiritual ADD: my parents were both raised with strict religious contexts: my father’s family was devout in Southern Baptist, which, from the 1950’s through the 70’s, you know, “the severity of American religious idealism,” especially among Southern Baptists, was pretty scary. My mom went to an all-girl Catholic school for twelve years. And as a result of their childhoods my father, being an intellectual, but not much of a humanist, now considers himself agnostic, while my mother spent years looking for spiritual enlightenment, and stumbled upon a religion called Eckankar, which is a young western philosophy similar to Hinduism that has adopted also a variety of other eastern philosophies, and I have attended many of the religions Sunday services. My mother gave me the option as a child to either attend service or to spend the time studying different religions—more often than not I took her up on the study. Throughout my years of practice it became quite clear to me that the two most prominent problems within our religious purview also happen to be the same two reasons why many religions still exist today, and exactly as they did centuries ago: stigmas and money. Modern religious institutions have created stigmas against their religious counterparts, which has been both sustainable, and dangerous. For example, according to the Qur’an anyone who follows the teachings of a religious text is not, technically, what some Muslims might consider, an ‘infidel’ and, for those of you whom are unaware, religious texts include the Torah and the Bible, as well as others, it would appear that a sect of Islamic 'believers' simply disregarded that creed, but no more so, and inasmuch the way that Christians tend to ignore much of their own doctrine—many people form a belief on baseless hearsay.
Masaru Emoto and his writings—his books—have helped me develop many ideas, within our belief systems, that others are taught not to accept, or that they have been disallowed the means to see through various stigmas and dogma. It would seem that the unusual aspects of my upbringing have made it easier for me to distance myself from the manipulation of emotional reactions when necessary. For example: I was reading a copy of Indigo Sun Magazine many years ago, I picked it up while working at Borders Books, Music, and Café, and came across an article in which the author describes sitting with a group of people discussing the different ideals and perceptions that shadow God, and in the middle of the discussion someone said, “Oh! I get it, so God is like water and we are like fish.” The author goes on to describe how no one among them seemed to understand how profound a realization that was. It simply went over their heads, or the idea did not fit into the systems that they have created for themselves because of their religions.
But, think about it for a moment, "God is like Water and We are like Fish." As a foundation, the principles itself, when developing ideas from that particular foundation, the places you are capable of reaching, I mean, it’s astounding where that one idea can take you.
And, of course there are obvious similarities between this sudden burst of spiritual clarity and what Masaru Emoto was writing, but there is a deeply-rooted hidden concept within this spiritual understanding that exists as well, and it’s an idea worth expanding upon, and that I urge you to develop on your own. I have gone on to develop my own understandings surrounding spiritual enlightenment over the years. But whenever I’m asked about my own ideas I share one or both of the following: “God is not the Creator but instead the Act of Creation,” and, again: “God is like Water, and We are like Fish,” because I do recognize how deeply profound they are, and how uniquely they can be interpreted, they also fit comfortably within the dogma of any belief system that YOU might presently accept, because thinking of your belief system in ways that you have not yet considered can be paramount to perceiving the world around you in a way that might be less threatening.
For years, even since developing, what I thought, would be an open-minded all-inclusive system of ideals I realized that I still had my own stigmas, of which included the belief that my ‘pillars’ listed in the paragraph above were antithetical to those of Christian or Muslim doctrine, until I was sitting in a café in Salt Lake City one evening talking about religion with a friend of mine. We stayed there until 4 in the morning discussing different ideas and belief systems. My friend was raised Mormon and when I mentioned that “God was like Water and that We are like Fish,” and, then went on to suggest that “I don’t believe God to exist as a personified being, but rather as a collective,” he agreed with me completely. I asked him, “Well, I thought you were a Christian?” to which he responded, “I am.” “So, then how can you believe God to exist as anything other than as a personified being?” his response was that- “That idea is not mutually exclusive to Christian Doctrine.” And, aside from accepting Jesus as the Son of God, he was absolutely right. We have a very basic, and limited understanding of our own spirituality, because we have collectively refused to understand it, as a result most of us would immediately reject the idea that God could have a ‘Son’ while not actually existing in the image of man. Allow yourself to imagine, for a moment, the idea that we may not be created in the physical image of God, but rather the emotional image; what would that look like? And how would that connect with, not only, other belief systems, but other aspects of our humanity? Science, Politics, Relationships, etc. I thought about Masaru Emoto and the differences that we establish between creating a narrative and developing a belief, and recognized that my stigmas regardless of their foundation were the inherent problem.
At its root we do not understand religion and spirituality beyond a narrative, a collection of stories that we’ve been told in order to perceive certain ideals or feelings in a way that we are able to make sense of. Unfortunately, when applied, those stories don’t exactly mesh with other narratives that we tell ourselves as humans. Unless we strip that narrative to the fundamental connections, but not just between us and our belief systems, but the belief systems of others, and of our scientific and political communities. Once we allow ourselves not to force our connections, beliefs systems, and stigmas but to recognize-, to be conscious of how the connections exist around us, just as Masaru Emoto has done with the simplicity of the harmony between nature and our humanity, we’re capable of recognizing the simplicity of our own connections and we’re left with the freedom of our perceptions, which are influenced by both our physical understanding of our world, and our emotional. Masaru Emoto helped me to bridge the gaps that, before reading his books, seemed much too far to connect.