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I had a rough morning...
It started out fine, I slept in—until about 8:15—then I showered—I shower in the morning: it wakes me up, relaxes my muscles, clears my mind, and, kind of, lets me outline my day, although my day never actually unfolds as framed—I stepped out of the shower, dressed, and walked to my bedside table where I keep my glasses, completely unwittingly, assuming, of course, that my morning routine will continue, as normal, and I would make some breakfast, some tea, put on some classical music, check my email, collect orders that were placed over the night, audit my ads balances, and update my website, however after I put on my glasses, in the semi-dark room that is my bedroom, I noticed a slightly darker spot on my nice, white comforter, and thought, “Oh, if that little shit did it again...”
I turned on the light and, sure enough, my little Calico cat had left a nice spot of pee on my comforter. Dinah, my Calico, has been doing this lately, she’s unsatisfied with my level of attention towards her these past few days—I’ve washed that comforter a couple of times in the past week--in fact, the first time she did it, I left her enclosed in the bathroom with some food, water, and a litter box, you know, to teach her a lesson, of course she hasn’t got a clue why she’s spending the day in the bathroom, so although my pride might feel slightly less tarnished...; she got out of the bathroom and climbed on my lap while I worked that evening, all the while knowing that just moments before she had left another surprise for me, a surprise that I would not find until much later.
I keep two litter boxes in my house, and I’m very vigilant about changing them, because who likes the consuming smell of ammonia as it quickly fills every crevasse of your dwelling? I’ll tell you who: nobody, not even cats because I had neglected to clean out the most popular of the two litter boxes as often as normal, and my entitled little Calico decided she would show me exactly how she felt about that.
So, I cleaned out the litter box.
I decided, also, to clean out the other, although it had hardly been used, the “other” litter box is the nicer of the two, it’s got a door; it was this litter box that I left with Dinah while she spent her punishment day in the bathroom, it was still in the bathroom this morning because I just hadn’t gotten around to moving it back to where I keep it. So, I lifted it to take it back, and underneath the litter box was a tiny puff of smashed poo. I am never going to fully understand how my tiny Calico managed to move this large, fairly heavy litter box, take a poo, and then move it directly over her poo, and somehow drop it so that it smashed, almost perfectly, and not slid all over the bathroom floor, as well as the bottom of the box.
So, I was standing in my bathroom looking, first, at this squashed poo, and then back at the pile of my comforter and sheets on the floor, and back at the poo, and, again, the pile on the floor. I take the litter box outside to give it a good rinse on this beautiful, wet, cold day and left it out there to dry, and then I came back inside. I started organizing some things, including my wash, because I figured, “What the hell, today’s just going to be the perfect day to take care of it anyway.” And then, after I started my wash and some, at that point, light cleaning, before getting back to my breakfast, tea, Mozart, emails, orders, audits, and updates, I noticed several little smudges on my coated, cement floor so I opted to investigate. I followed the smudges, erratically throughout my cottage, and reasoned that I should start my investigation with the...bottom...of...my...shoe.
At some point, while I was outside cleaning poo off of the litter box, I stepped in dog poo, and then dragged it haphazardly around the entirety of my home...
I sat down, in order to, you know, kind of, appraise my morning:
“My cat had pee’d on my comforter because I hadn’t changed the litter box, which she, apparently, doesn’t actually use, in favor of the space beneath said box, and while cleaning the poo off the box--that she doesn’t actually use—I then, gracefully managed to step in poo, which was also not in, but in the immediate vicinity of the box, and took it inside in order to trek it around my cottage managing, auspiciously, to aid in the very crime that my lovely little Dinah had originally attempted, which in fact, inadvertently, started...everything.”
After several minutes of reassessing my life choices, and realizing that, sometimes, your only option is to just start somewhere, and it really doesn't matter where, I lit a few candles and a diffuser, started boiling some water, played a little ditty on the banjo, and leapt into action.
Needless to say, my cottage is now very clean, it smells like Eucalyptus and "Ocean Breeze", the floors have been swept and mopped, twice with Citra-solve, and, yes, I did have that cuppa tea while the reposing melody of Mozart blended with the Eucalyptus and "Ocean Breeze", and now, all I have left to do is start a fire, and wait for Dinah to find the perfect spot on my comforter to leave a spotta pee.
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I initially wrote, and published this in the fall of 2010, and although it was written as an excerpt for a piece of short fiction I thought I'd include it in this collection.
The Invention of the Relationship
I caught up with her at the station. The train was idling, as if it were waiting for something, a steam was clearing while friends and families were embracing: they were chatting, and crying, tears for loved ones leaving, and for others returning. I nearly lost myself in the crowd looking for her, worried that I missed her.
The train whistled, a warning that she would be leaving soon, I pushed through the crowd now with an anxious brutishness. She was sitting on a bench hugging her bag when I noticed her. From this distance it looked as if she were crying—I had hoped that I would have learned from my assumptions, but I am constantly taken back by my lack of intuition, for someone who has been wrong as often as I should likely have been right by now, even accidentally—she was laughing, and not at all surprised to see me, in fact, she was expecting me, and had been considering whether it would be more “fun” to watch me chase the train as it left or to wait, to witness, first hand, the look on my face as she walked away; she then stood, and left.
I sat on the bench at the station for a while and watched the sun slowly set in a distance, until the light had faded, and disappeared. I thought about the invention of the relationship, and couldn't escape thinking about what it is that really makes a relationship work, and what it means exactly to be in one--it’s not always better late than never.
I thought about expectations, and how easily they can direct and influence our relationships; the expectations that we accepted mutually and were capable of working on, those we tried to compromise on, as well as those that seem to separate us. It occurred to me that there are only so few of our expectations that we can communicate to one another, the rest are conditioned and latent such as the influence our parents relationships have on us, the general opinions we form subconsciously from our experiences, and those that develop, subtly as a result of our cultural, religious, or political affiliations. The only way to work through these is a willingness of continued sacrifice, and really getting to know and to feel comfortable with our significant other.
We find ourselves making the subconscious presumption that because we have been conditioned with certain, distinct expectations, everyone has. It almost seems too obvious to mention but we really do have to learn how to communicate to each other, as well as how to be as honest as possible while communicating; it's easy early in a relationship to want to say what you think the other person wants to hear, but don't do that; we did that, a lot of people do that. Be honest.
I remember several years back we were sitting on a bench in a park in the center of town, near a gazebo that we had carved a heart and our initials in one afternoon on impulse, and we laughed about it and held each other. We sat there talking about our future, and our dreams, and we revised them, a little, to include each other, and then we latched on to some common interest and we simply ignored everything else. It may seem too early on, when all you want to be is playful, to talk about how serious a relationship you are looking for: who you want to be, what you want to do, having kids, etc., but starting this conversation early just makes it that much easier to have later, as well as anything else that you might want to talk to about, and it’s OK for everything to change, no one should expect that conversation you had months ago in that relationship to bet set in stone, but continue to talk about it, and other things. When it came to that point, we didn't know how to talk to each other, simply because it wasn't something that we had developed. And, then we just forgot to know each other; I did realize this, and still I couldn't say anything, I just didn’t know how, we didn’t know, because had never developed it.
And then one morning, I woke up to a note left on the fridge, I ran to the train station to catch up to her, and have since been sitting alone on a bench watching a train disappear in the horizon. I would, every few minuets, quiet my thoughts thinking that I heard in the distance a train whistle. I sat silently for a while until I realized it was only my imagination. I think I tried to hard to grow with her. I had this idea that in order for us to work we needed to grow, closer, you know, to, essentially, become one, but, thinking about it now, it seems ridiculous to expect that. If I was going to expect anything at all I should expect us to grow independent of each other, not away from, not towards, just near. We should have grown independently, together, and shared that with one another.
One evening we were taking a walk through town talking about any number of things that we could fathom between here and there, and we disagreed about something, and you would have thought it was the end of our world, I felt compelled to apologize just because I thought differently. Having generally similar interests is not something that many people are thinking about, at least beyond having like interests. What I mean is that obviously having common ground is important—especially to her in this situation—nevertheless it isn't something we think about because it’s, just, a common understanding, having the right shared interest, but the thought is incomplete, you also need to have the right contrast—the right differences, as well. Everyone is familiar with the idea that opposites attract, but do we really consider what that actually means, though? Our differences are just as, if not more, important in a relationship than our similarities.
Firstly, it means there is still a degree of self, meaning we haven't spent this time slowly becoming the same person. And, secondly, we’ll have something important to continue to talk about. It is easier and more interesting to have a conversation with someone about something you think differently on than something you agree about. This is, after all, how we learn. And it might allow you to come to similar conclusions via different means, and how amazing is it that you can continue to learn about one another, even after having spent so much time together? Also, you can see how well you react to one another when you disagree. You will agree on some things, but not everything, and when you do disagree are you capable of being accepting of that. Can you discuss it without arguing?
Regardless, I've been sitting here for hours, the warm evening air has now turned cold and damp, a full moon distracts me from being...distracted. I'm still, however, just as confused now as I have always been, and even if I did have some profound moment of enlightenment it wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference next time around, because the rules change. It's all general. I'll hope next time around that what I've learned: to try and communicate as well as possible as early as possible, to not assume that everyone thinks and reacts the exact same way I do, and realize that it probably isn't personal will help to make sense of our individual feelings. These relationships are something that we cherish, and will continue to cherish, they make a difference in our lives; when you don't have one you want one and when you have them sometimes you catch yourself questioning your sanity. You know you'll get hurt again, but we believe its worth it, or at least that this one will be different, and it will be, but, how?
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Did you realize that electrons can travel through different states, known as localized and de-localized states, of an atom via the conduction band, essentially what this means is that an electron can leave the orbit of an atom and 'travel' to the orbit of a different atom. This process is the basis of the idea that electrons can "pop in and out of existence," fundamentally this isn't true, electrons do not pop in and out of existence, they can, however, disappear and reappear in different atoms. The concept is an important one in quantum mechanics because it furthers the idea, scientifically, that everything is interconnected.
That we are all interconnected.
Quantum Mechanics is the school of science that studies the nature and the behaviors of matter and energy on the scale of atoms and subatomic particles. The same school of thought that theorized the God Particle.
At the most fundamental of levels we not only, literally, share particles, but those particles can be influenced and manipulated by resonance, or vibrations of varying wave lengths in association with shared intent.
If you're familiar with the Law of Attraction, that your thoughts can change your life - yes, that's an oversimplification, a paradigm shift ultimately changes your life but that does require a change in the way that you think - then you're familiar with a practical application of Quantum Mechanics.
The science of this is exceptionally fascinating, still I think it's limited by how, many people, perceive God. Our understanding of God and our relationship with God is paramount in our capacity to understand our selves and our lives.
And, with that said, I believe that religion has oversimplified the perception of God:
I believe that our impression of God was established in a time when people, for the most part, were emotionally and intellectually incapable of truly understanding our existence as well as ourselves. I believe that Jesus, for example, was consciously aware of a general lack of a certain spiritual consciousness within the populace - creation, and a consciousness responsible for creation, the informed act of creation, and the extent of what follows or shadows that: the law of attraction, natural law, quantum physics, etc. - in his [Jesus'] effort to illustrate this understanding to the general public he had to apply parables and devices that the people of the time would understand, symbols and patterns that were relatable and physically sympathetic to their perspective worldview. As time, and we progressed our relationship with God, did not.
We have never actually matured to understand and relate to God in the way that we are emotionally and intellectually capable, in the way that Jesus was always able to relate to God; and so, while most other aspects of our societies and cultures were developing, our understanding of God would remain limited to a worldview of a society that existed in the first century.
I believe that God is intelligible, conscious, and omnipresent within all things, and that we exist, not apart from God such as the distinction that might exist between a creator and his creation, but rather as the living manifestation of God, in a similar, but not identical, way to that in which we attribute the role of Jesus in Christianity; what I'm suggesting is that neither God nor people can exist distinct from the other, and just as we share that relationship with God we are offered the means to share that relationship with one another.
String theory and Quantum Mechanics are mathematics way of manifesting God through the eyes of academia. While religion is societies way of manifesting God through the eyes, not of Jesus, but of his disciples. God, is like water, and we are like fish, and we are the universes' way of manifesting God through creation.
And, in either scenario, there exists an unassailable connection between us, one another, and our surroundings, and we - human beings - have, in our supreme brazenness and indifference, shuttered that relationship in effort of individual conquest and experience, with the egocentric belief that we are capable of having a completely, exclusive, diacritic experience; we're not.
God exist in all things, and through that existence, we exist in one another.
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I recognize how often I get on the topic of people, and how fascinating it is how we interact with one another, and how our moods and our emotions can effect how relevant or meaningful something might be.
Do you remember being a kid, and sometimes up through your early twenties when everything seemed so important? If something negative, or unwanted, or hurtful, or ambiguous happened and it felt like the end of the world. But, it did, veritably, feel like the end of the world: emotionally and intellectually, the feeling would be utterly consuming.
And then you get older, and the same things don’t feel so important because other things have replaced them, and we’ve trained ourselves to prioritize—we’ve come to recognize and accept what we will choose to be consumed about. These things, however, still feel exceptionally important to us—and I would be remiss to point out that with the exception of the oppressive worry we feel for our children, it’s all smoke and mirrors.
And then we get even older, and we have again trained ourselves to prioritize, and to recognize that we have spent the better part of our lives being conducted by our various and unsteady feelings of foolishness.
The things we didn’t say and the things we didn’t do; the life that we didn’t live or the chances that we didn’t take because of an immediate sense of consuming urgency: fear, doubt, confusion, what-if?, obligation...our seemingly steadfast designs that matter less and less when we near the end of our lives, when we start to wonder why we didn’t spend our entire lives just...living, being happy—listening to our hearts.
What we could have been doing from the beginning was learning how to let people in: and then letting people in, enjoying their company, enjoying our own company, making mistakes, forgiving, saying how we feel, not really needing reasons or excuses, just being completely open, because why the hell not? It's worth figuring out who you are and loving as profoundly as you are able in whatever way you are able, and doing so with as much intention and understanding as you are able.
How often do we hear the wisest of us telling us that they don’t know, “Why I didn’t, just, say that...” “Why I couldn’t, just, do that...” “Why I couldn’t, just, be that...”
And yet, most of us, are still holding so tightly to that feeling that it’s the end of the world, because, in all honesty, it takes us—nearly—our entire lives to let that go. We don’t want to feel like we’re making a mistake, we don’t want to feel like we’re doing something wrong, and it seems so important in the moment that we end up giving away so much of our lives to worry and to a feeling of emotional debt.
I’m thirty-five, and I don’t want to do that. I mean, do you really want to do that?
I have offered my life to worry, on and off and I have offered my life to well-being, on and off and I choose well-being, and regardless of what some people might have you believe God does want us to choose well-being, to follow our bliss. It is considerably more difficult to follow your bliss than it is not, otherwise the things that once felt so important wouldn’t lose their meaning, and we wouldn’t spend the remainder of our only life (whether you’re a believer of reincarnation or not you do only get one chance to live this life) wondering.
Those that are truly content with their lives lived honestly, and passionately, and devoutly; they acknowledge their faults and the lessons they learned from them; they acknowledge the work they did and their accomplishments, nobly; and they stand by the life they lived and they chances they took, resolutely.
You may lose people in your life for being honest and for being open and it may cost you things that once seemed or felt important and it won't feel easy, but the people and the life that you will gain are far more rewarding, and once you've taken this path and traversed the obstacles gathered, and lingering from your past the path will present itself to you unwaveringly, as if God were meaningfully and directly guiding you along the way.
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For a running number of years now I have wanted to pack a backpack with a few essentials, design and buy a sailboat out of Hamburg, Germany, then hop on a freighter from some undisclosed point on America’s east coast and disappear, at least from anything that I am familiar with.
I imagined that I would end up somewhere along the southwestern coast of France. In my novel, Between Transitions, Jonah, the protagonist, started his journey in Paris then headed north by train to Brussels, Belgium then east to Cologne, Germany followed then by Leipzig, Berlin, and, finally, Hamburg. Where he too had commissioned a sailboat. Between Transitions ends with Jonah sailing up the Elbe towards the North Sea, leaving in an open-ended journey towards whoknowswhere, as Jonah sails away.
I, however, would like to visit the shores or Bordeaux and backpack inland to Lyon, and wander upwards to Geneva, Switzerland before making my way to Paris. Or to find myself in San Sebastian, Spain and then to walk south to Pamplona, and then west to Santiago de Compostela completing the walk--The Way—Camino de Santiago, before heading to Bordeaux and then east towards Lyon.
I was driving earlier this morning, listening to music, and singing along, I don’t remember to what exactly, and this feeling swept over me: how badly I wanted to get out of the car and just walk away. In that moment I could picture my sailboat, and I could see me sitting on the deck, with nothing but the sea surrounding me, and, in the distance, there was a faint hint of land, but still I could be mistaken, it could very well be nothing, only a mirage. I might be reading, or writing, or fishing perhaps, there is a glass of wine on the deck next to me, a small crimson puddle gathers around the edges of the circular base of the glass stem; or maybe I’m doing nothing at all, I’m just staring off into the distance, until I’m distracted by the warmth of the sun on my arms, and the salt in my hair, and the smell of seawater, of the sea completely consuming me, “you would think I would be used to it by now,” a thought likely to have crossed my mind: the smell; while also being consciously grateful that I’m not yet used to it, and here’s to hoping that I would never be.
I could go anywhere at all the world is as big or as small as I allow it. I could eat cheese with wine at a café in Barcelona, after running with the bulls, and smoke hookah with old wise Turkish men on a patio near the port of Istanbul, and swim in the pale blue ocean off the coast of Santorini, Greece, and walk through the castles and the hills of Croatia, jog from coast-to-coast on the tiny island of Zanzibar, and after docking in Mumbai, hike through India towards Nepal: Tibet: China. And, this would be the beginning, only.
What keeps me, I wonder. Here. Projects, different dreams, love? All of which are consuming day-in, and day-out, and yet all of which are still just slightly out of reach in their entirety. So, again, what keeps me; here.
I had let go of my fear of the unknown, and of the familiar long ago. I packed up my 99’ green Honda Civic and drove west down I-10: Pocatello, Idaho; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Salt Lake City, Utah; New York City, New York; Santa Fe, New Mexico. All of which came and went as easy to me as picturing myself sailing up the Elbe, towards the North Sea.
When I was younger I had an unquenchable desire to experience life. In the mornings, as my eyes slowly opened, I thought only about what I had already missed that day, and what I would not allow myself to continue to miss if I didn’t get out of bed. And so, I was up, and I was out, waiting to experience whatever opportunity I was able.
I know when that changed. When my lust for life left my body like a cold soul being lifted towards the heavens prematurely. It was during those same series of moments when everything else left me, and I was numb. I was a shell of body that contained only the hope of revival. It’s funny how the subtle manipulation of someone who claims to have loved you will slowly rip pieces away from you, it’s not so funny when you look back at a younger version of yourself remembering that you once had a lust for life, but to not remember what it felt like. It’s gratifying slowly developing it again. And then again the promise of sailing away is postponed because of dreams of opening a bookstore, the determination to see it through, and the limbo of a love that’s an unspoken, mutual, idea…only.
Do you ever think about that kind of stuff, and then you look out the window, and you see the sun reflecting off of the innumerous shades of green—my favorite color—and feeling only the passion, again, to experience…everything? Perhaps I would not have found that lust again without the direction of a dream, and the fulfillment of unrequited love: like pieces being put together, but differently, a puzzle that slightly resembles you. “You don’t know this new me, I put back my pieces differently.”
It is so easy to let the mistakes of your past dictate the direction of your future. In very small, unsexy ways, it builds up: more, and more, until it is all you can do just to get through the day, and then the next day, and the next, and the next.
I was driving earlier this morning, listening to music, and singing along, I don’t remember to what exactly, and this feeling swept over me: how badly I wanted to get out of the car and just walk away. In that moment I could picture my sailboat, and I could see me sitting on the deck, with nothing but the sea surrounding me, and, in the distance, there was the faint hint of land, but still I could be mistaken, it could very well be nothing, only a mirage. I might be listening to music, or dancing, or cooking perhaps, there is a glass of wine on the deck next to me, a small crimson puddle gathers around the edges of the circular base of the glass stem; or maybe I’m running along the beach, I’m not even sure what country I’m in, the silhouette of my boat anchored just off shore, the course, uncomfortable feeling on the pads of my feet from running in the sand drifts in and out of my thoughts, “the sea is cold this morning,” a thought likely to have crossed my mind: the ocean; while also being consciously grateful that I’m not yet used to it, and here’s to hoping that I never will be.
*"Something Beautiful in the Morning: What Our Dreams May Become" was something I wrote a few years ago, and I wanted it to be a part of this collection of writings.
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Our political affiliations are almost entirely, and uncompromisingly learned. People rely on others, namely our parents, to guide us and teach us what it means to be human, and in doing so certain affiliations are impressed upon us by the very act of that guidance, many of which are imprinted upon us indirectly. More often than not generations of families become accustomed to certain affiliations without even the slightest conscious understanding of even their own respective worldview.
That’s pretty fucked up.
Regardless of what you may actually think and believe your belief systems are almost always inherited. It’s exceptionally rare for a person to step outside of their construct and to look around at the world through only their eyes, tabula rasa.
I doubt that you could even imagine what you would see if you did, because you are only as capable of opening your mind to the possibilities of what your own imagination will allow.
“How is one to know one’s mind when one’s mind is all one has to know it by?”
I think this is why I’m fed up with our contemporary system of political discernment. Everyone is, quite literally, out of their minds. Very, very few people have a clue of what their talking about or why, everything is broken. And it was broken so attentively and systematically that the measure for which we—we, the people—are picking up the pieces is in-and-of-itself a system of repress.
Still the majority of the people—of us—are consumed with the folly, and the enmity, and the contest that we have lost nearly all sight of repose.
Why is it, do you think, that we feel like we have to actively do something to-, or about people who might believe differently than ourselves in order for us to resolve anything? And what, exactly should we do about them? Because, it seems to me, that we’re actively doing too much as it is. The thing about unity or equanimity or coexistence is that there really isn’t anything that we can do to obtain them, they are all just, kind of, waiting for us to calm the fuck down.
And if you’re actively trying to force someone to believe something other than what they were bred to believe then, I mean, you’re a fuckin’ idiot, you’re just wasting your time, and sure you’ve got the raw attention of a large number of people who think they can punch the stupid outta you, so you and they are otherwise doomed to a very long and difficult and provoking life, of which you only get one; so you’re both, essentially, wasting your one opportunity to live any degree of a decent life for no reason other than to be inexhaustibly irritating, and irritated with little to no recourse at the end of which you both, more than likely, suffer a drawn-out, painful death at the hands of your own disavowal to live a balanced and peaceful life.
In any state of political indifference the first thought, for most people, is the direction we need to take in order to get out of it, so we come up with answers to solve the case of current position. However, we never actually take the time to ask ourselves how we got to this point to being with, so...we’re essentially looking for answers to problems we don’t understand. And when you do that you get things like Donald Trump, and Democratic Socialism, and special interest groups financially controlling our elected representatives, and dangerous political dynasties like the Clinton’s, and people thinking that we need more, or less government involvement in our lives.
What we need is to take a deep breath and to actually evaluate ourselves. We need to take inventory on the state of our ongoing means and figure shit out before we systematically try to fix anything, otherwise we might find ourselves standing up in a town hall meeting making statements like “Even if we would bomb Russia...we have to get rid of the babies, its a big problem, even if we stopped having babies it’s not enough, we have to eat the babies...” or worse, to become so desensitized by tribal politics that we exchange doing what's right for conforming to party nuances.
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I’m a very conscious person; almost to a fault, which is to say that I am very observant, pansophic, empathic, and that my mind is very active. I also have a reason for everything that I do, and say. I have learned, early in life, that people, in general—either—tend to assume that most others don’t have reasons for just about anything that they do or say, or people are very actively arbitrary in their hair-trigger re-actions.
My reasons for doing or saying a thing are, more often than not, not at all what you, or most people might expect, when I discovered this stilted obscurity about myself and about people it did come as a bit of a shock to me but, I mean, I am not at all like most people—I have always been aware of that inasmuch as I am aware that, when inquired, most people would respond very similarly—most people like to think that they are also different, anywise—they’re not.
I am accountable for my actions, as well as semi-apologetic, if I feel like I should be—because my pride isn’t worth my compassion—and yet I’m not very concerned what most people think about me. I am neither accountable or apologetic for others, I am both because, quite simply, I try to “...be the change I want to see in the world.” I also believe in the power, and juxtaposition of gratitude.
I think that a number of people find some of these qualities to be conflicting, I don’t. That, among many other reasons, are what has enlightened me to the now evident verity that I am unlike most people.
I realized not too long ago that I haven’t missed anybody in a while, and it dawned on me that I rarely actually miss people, I mean, I have, of course, missed people, but not as frequently as most people seem to miss people. I care about people, not so much individuals, but that realization has never affected my basis of being kind and applicable, understanding and forgiving, grateful and authentic when, you know, living in the world—I mean, the only thing that any of us are guaranteed throughout the course of our lives is that we will, without a shadow of a doubt, always be surrounded by people—unless, of course, their awful, disgusting, rotten human beings, in which case, my general assertion is to—as gently and firmly as possible—specify that “we no longer exist to one another.” Some people think that’s cruel, personally I believe that life is too short to actively pretend, or to ignore (without the appropriate communicative action) people who I don’t want in my life.
I have observed, a short while ago, that I do actively miss somebody; there is someone in my life that I miss, sometimes even, while they are standing directly in front of me. In our humanity we need people, and there are people in my life that I care very, very much about, they matter a great deal to me, but I have moved around a lot and people have come and gone from my life so often that I haven’t really allowed myself to get attached; but it’s weird caring about what someone else actually thinks about me, like it willfully and exhaustively matters to me, and it sucks—for a lot of reasons.
I have been in love a couple of times, in my life; I mean, like, in the way that we commonly appreciate being in love (I accentuate the point because of my recent column about love, that you can read here), but I have never known love that has actually developed organically from nothing → respect → love; I’ve only been, like, you know: friends, and then like “whoa, we’re, like, totally in love now, far out! We should totally get, like, mar-ried and shit."
The thing is that although I do like, you know: playing a fool, and stumbling over myself, and saying stupid shit, and trying too hard, and having feelings it’s still also, well, it’s complicated—yeah, that’s the problem, I like the simplicity of communicating complicated away. That is—at least, part of the reason—why communication is so important to me; but what if you cannot genuinely, and openly communicate? The thing about a love that evolves organically, is that it’s not a choice. It is completely and irritatingly instinctual and compelling. It’s never been so difficult for me to, just, turn it off (I have tried, even if I don't really want to). And, that is very conflicting, which invites my reasons—whether they’re apparent to you readers or not—for writing this today. I haven’t yet talked about it, and that is not like me.
Do you ever think God gets bored—however you want to perceive God—I mean, boredom doesn’t have to look like a fat ol’ drunk sitting on a rusted (rusted, WTF?), torn ash gray couch, with a “half-full” bottle of Pabst pathetically offset between the cushions, one hand in a bowl of three day old popcorn, and the other hand stock-still down his untied gym pants, that look strikingly similar to the molded couch beneath his butt watching American Gladiators or Al Jazeera or recorded VHS tapes of 25 year old Dallas Cowboy games.
...or a human being without their cell phone!
We can reinvent what boredom might be to a collective, omnipotent, omnipresent (un)consciousness. I don’t know that God does necessarily get bored but there is definitely a dearth of entertainment in the omnisphere, cause WTF? ...I'm gonna need a reason for this one, my friend?
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photo: Masaru Emoto, "Love"
Love offers a uniquely different experience for different people, and what I mean by that is that different people both characterize and experience love differently: in the way that we apply or practice love, functionally; inasmuch as there are, genuinely, different ways of illustrating love. I think a lot of people take that for granted, at least in the context of love being an emotion, which, I mean, it isn’t—hence the reason we are more apt to take our relationship with love for granted.
I believe that love is one of the biggest casualties of a nature that is desperate to expose the substance of everything.
I think there is a certain sense of wonder and excitement in exploration and observation, but the wonder is succumb to revelation; discourse leads to possibility, but when our motive lies only in resolution we tend to lose something within ourselves, and after a time the means becomes meaningless, and eventually almost entirely nonexistent. People were not meant to know, we were meant to explore and to wonder and to reflect.
Love is like water, and we are fish. Love is in-explainable and, often, unbelievable but do fish believe in water?
The oversimplification of love as it presents itself in our day-to-day lives confounds me, I mean, love, in-and-of-itself, is not something that we feel for someone, love isn’t even a relatable “feeling,” (but for linguistic purposes I’ll continue to use the verb; to feel). Love is something we ‘feel’ with someone; imagine, for a moment, that love, in the context that we all respectively effort to feel love, was, earnestly, the fibers or particles or molecules or God‘s’ or totems or beliefs that are the connection of all things, and that, in our humanity, we are more capable of experiencing Love when we are willing and conscientious enough to be completely vulnerable and, in our humanity, the atonement of-, or willingness, or passion to reveal ourselves to another person avows a sense of amenability which opens us up to feel this connection between all things, maybe even expanding our relationship with God—however your notion of God may present itself.
Perhaps this is the reason why many of us feel like there is a distinct difference between saying I love you and I am in love with you; to be within love, conjointly with a person that you want to or are completely vulnerable with.
...but we tend to omit that from our relationships these days, the vulnerability part. We, instead, settle in our odyssey to experience love, amusingly enough by abbreviating our sense of wonder, taking love for granted, and taking life for granted, and just, kind of, checking off bullet points as if our relationship with ourselves and our one opportunity for life was a checklist that we were meant simply to complete.
It has been an interesting go of things, for me, in relationships but also witnessing how people “revere” love, only, as some sense of mysticism, like everybody wants to believe in it but deep down inside they just know that love is only an idea.
What is love, though?
Right? Ask yourself what love is, to you? Is your understanding of-, or experience with-, love relatable? Is it universal?
I mean, we have created a tangible understanding of how we can all mutually relate to love in a way that is simplistic and ornaments well in movies, cool. But why is it that we feel that in order for something to be genuine we have to be able to recreate it analytically? Frankly, that concept is horseshit, inasmuch as most of our man made systems are fundamentally horseshit.
Love is not a feeling, and love is not an emotion; love both is, and allows us to recognize the immediate and unseeable relationship that exists between all things, and we experience it, almost exclusively, when we allow ourselves to share, and to be vulnerable within our lives.
Love is like water, and we are fish. Love is in-explainable and, often, unbelievable but do fish believe in water?
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You know that phrase people use when they’re trying to create distance between themselves their beliefs and organized religion; it’s pretty common, they’ll use it because they want to establish that there is a sense of the mystical in the world but they just cannot quite rationalize adopting certain parables that are represented in the Bible, the Qur’an, and/or the Torah, this phrase seems to allow the keynoter the disconnect they might feel they need in their lives, however, I would suggest that not only is there a fine line between-, but there is really no intellectual account for one being “spiritual, though not religious.”
Granted, I have, in the past, used that phrase, even recently, in order to try to best express my belief system but only because it, unfortunately, does provide context for a person, depending on their understanding and background. Nevertheless, I wish there were an equally swift and more relevant way to reveal that particular sentiment; seeing that I don’t necessarily see a difference between being spiritual and being religious, except to distance ourselves from personal stigmas that stalk our dogmatic antipathy.
Why don’t I think there’s a difference?
Well, I think there are a number of reasons. One simple, yet not especially profound reason is that if we are quote/unquote religious we are also spiritual; religion does not define how we believe it—kind of, only (in an anthropologically customary way)—defines what we believe, which is to say that spiritual people might still practice a specific religion (save the “appeal to _____” argument; argumentum ad populum). I think the most practical point is that being religious and spiritual are more similar than they are different, so using one belief system to explain ‘our’ belief system is only impartial if it was so simple as to define an individuals beliefs as either religious or spiritual.
I spent a great deal of time at Sunset Coffee in Sandy, Utah, a conurbation of Salt Lake City, and on occasion I would sit with Neil, Sunset’s founder/owner, after hours and we would talk about creed and spirituality and religion, about his religious upbringing and my religious upbringing, as well as other ideas and systems.
I remember one interaction in particular, and one that I’ll continue to elicit for years to come, and long after it reformed my purview.
Do you know those interactions that provide a moment of insight that are, kind of, an Aha! moment for you, but no one else seemed to have acknowledged how profound it may have been? Well, this interaction offered something significant for me, and seemingly nobody else.
Neil was non-denominational at this point in his life, although he wasn’t raised that way, there was a very particular core set of understandings and beliefs that he was fostered; I, on the other hand, was not raised with a specific set of dogma. My dad was raised Southern Baptist and has spent the majority of his life Agnostic, my mother was raised Catholic—she spent twelve years in Catholic School—she loosely practices a religion called Eckankar, when I was younger, however, she was actively practicing. She gave my sister and I the option to go with her to service or, the alternative, which was to stay home and cultivate some sense of spiritual awakening in whatever recourse: reading about religion, meditating, praying, etc., my sister, at the time, was attending Baptist youth classes with her friends, so she was covered, I, however, spent most of my time playing basketball; so I would, on occasion, join my mom at service, and on occasion I would read, eventually I got to the point where I started visiting other churches: I’d go to Catholic mass with a friend of mine or an LDS service with another friend or the Methodist services or I’d discuss doctrine with Witnesses of Jehovah, and read about Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto, Islam, Paganism, Ásatrú, Yorùbá, and others. The study of theology became, kind of, a hobby.
One of the first things I discovered was how similar these religions/philosophies actually were, they were far more similar than they were not, and somehow people started to focus too much on the differences. It really annoyed me. And I developed stigmas towards religions whose followers were more focused on the differences than the similarities, and no that is not all religions, it tends to really only be the three major religions. I stopped listening to people try to argue why their religion was better when what we should have been talking about was our own spiritual development and awakening, regardless of the different parables and stories and avenues and itineraries that might exist in their doctrine.
In this particular conversation with Neil almost ten years ago I mentioned that “I don’t necessarily believe that God is the creator, but rather the act of creation.” And Neil nodded, and said “Yeah.” So, somewhat confused, I said “What do you mean?” and he said, “I share those beliefs.” I looked at him and said, “But...you’re Christian.” and he nodded, and said “That’s right.”
All at once, though it only lasted a fraction of a second, I was thinking:
What is happening right now?
Suddenly, it was all so simple.
We have all become so consumed by the assumptions that we make about religion based on the stereotypes and our stigmas or triggers that we’ve forgotten how deeply personal being spiritual is, and that our relationship with God develops through our experiences, and whether we accept the core dogmatic beliefs of a particular denomination or religion over another really has little to do with our spiritual development and how we actually relate to God.
Our relationship with God is matured by our relationship with ourselves and our surroundings; while the stigmas that we foster are based on a misunderstanding of an idea that isn’t even our own, and therefore we cannot truly understand or relate to it.
It is just as arbitrary and biased to blindly shame a person for their beliefs as it is for them to shame you, for yours, because they are, regardless of your conditioned viewpoint, the same.
The difference remains entirely in the same existential dilemma that we all collectively see the exact same shade of green when looking at a particular image, how we do know, really?
We don’t necessarily have the tools to negotiate our understanding of your shade of green vs. my own, so we just, kind of, accept it.
Different religions have established a set of parables and stories that allow us to pass the experiences of others down so that we might be able to share in those experiences, in a way that is most relatable to us and our own experiences. Aside from establishing belief systems that are relatable that also provides us with a different axiom, and the tools necessary to apply that perspective to what will forever be my shade of green, making it much for difficult for us all to share in a relatable experience by helping to create numerous shades of God.
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I love how so much of art today is criticized for not being art, “That’s not art.” I was walking around the Guggenheim several years ago, while I was living in New York, and while I was there an artist had set up a table and a couple of chairs and she was inviting anyone who wanted to sit with her in silence to join her, it was fascinating and people stood there for hours watching the artist and a stranger challenge whatever social assertion of discomfort might exist between a pair of strangers; psychologically it wouldn’t play itself out exactly as Ulay (the artist) intended simply because she is a well known performance artist and the exercise took place on the ground floor of the Guggenheim, nevertheless the idea of artistic expression is an interesting one.
Still, I could hear the silent murmurs of hundreds of thousands of people disputing the act as a form of art. The definition of art is pretty ambiguous, so however we are conditioned to enjoy art is almost completely subjective.
Culturally, even, there are certain rules of artistic form, such as what is acceptable and what is not: in Islamic culture it’s disrespectful to create a likeness of a living creature, and especially that of the prophet Muhammad. In Oriental cultures drawing or painting as a form of personal expression is opposed, because the culture is rooted on the idea that social or collective performance is far more important than individual accomplishment.
...as a result, a collective definition of art in those, and other cultures is far more definitive, however there are still people, individuals, within those cultures, that choose to practice art as a form of personal expression, inasmuch as we do in the secular Western society.
Cultures and societies and people clearly have different understandings of what art is, or should be, and yet I still have a hard time understanding how a person comes to such a capricious, and arbitrary notion that, “that’s not art.”
From a subject perspective there’s plenty of art that I think is just God-awful, I mean it is really, really bad; I don’t think I feel that way about the whole of any particular style or medium, but among the different styles and mediums I have seen pieces that I cannot understand, I don’t like it, I don’t know how anyone else might possibly like it, still no matter how awful something might be I could never see myself challenging the expression as anything less than art.
There is a lot of art out there that I feel is a fabricated expression of feeling or emotion or thought, when I feel as if the creator may have been more involved with how a person might receive it than they were the expression of-, and that annoys me, but I’ll concede that even that is art, it may take a more roundabout means to effort a psychological motive, it’s still a form of some kind of expression.
There are certain aspects of the artistic that some people, kind of, hollow in order to impose an agenda or a sort of developmental neglect, such as parts of dance. I find most dance to be beautiful and often sensual, but some soccer moms can muggy that with their own context of sexuality. That does annoy me, even though I do agree that we grow up, in the West, with a specific false image of women and sexuality, and it can be difficult for some people to look at something and not actually see it, but rather what they were indirectly taught to see; and I do think that does bleed over into other mediums and styles of art, and not just sexually but an innumerous standards and scopes.
We let this idea of what we think art is supposed to be misdirect us into misunderstanding and agitation, this best and most common example is when people complain about Actors having a political voice, “stick to acting and leave the opinions to...” I don’t know who, exactly: everybody else? Granted people who have a stage and voice that’s louder than others simply because of an art, I can understand the general frustration, but certain people don’t have a problem with Donald Trumps voice, and he was granted one simply for being rich.
Frankly, if you lack conviction enough to be worried about whether Angelina Jolie is going to sway your perspective than you have bigger problems than Angelina Jolie. So, I don’t know, it just seems most likely that the argument there isn’t with the platform as much as it is with the subject as it is with the motive, but now I’m veering a bit.
I don’t know, this column was kind of forced, I didn’t know what to write about today, and although I am passionate about the topic and artistically, I know my tone doesn’t exactly reflect that. My mind is elsewhere. Perhaps I’ll come back to this at some other date.