Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I Think That

I think that art and music's role in transcending bullshit is one of the greatest gifts we have as human animals.

- Langhorne Slim

* * *

So, after the shitshow of the manbaby in the White House promising to kill 25 million people at the UN yesterday, after the shitshow of the Cassidy-Graham proposal inching closer to law (wherein the rogering of tens of millions of Americans will finally fulfill the fever dream of Republicans everywhere to undo what a black president built), after the shitshow of witnessing the unbridled pusherman bullshit of a thousand dollar phone being met with the glee only addicts can muster, I have to say there is more than just a few lives to unfuck. And the scale of the task is something only for the gods, if there are any anymore. I have the firm feeling it is just us. I think the gods got sick of us a while ago.

It is foolish to be optimistic. It reads like a fairy tale. It is also foolish to despair. That reads like a folk tale. There is no middle way. Everyone has to choose their way forward and if you don't choose, it will be done for you by the amount of debt you accrue and the politicians who are beholden to the monied interests who purchased them, not to you. You are an ATM machine to them. Your life is simply labor to them, something to be extracted and the emptied husk kicked aside. The moment they can't make money off you is the moment you cease to exist. How else to explain the treatment of veterans, the disabled, the sick, the poor? Makers and takers as the neo-nazi Any Rand would say (and Paul Ryan mimic like a cheap bird in a pet store).

And don't forget the hurricanes: the product of man-made warming oceans.

Into this miasma, the godforsaken mess, comes foolishness, the hucksters of the gospel of prosperity, of affirmations, of learning to eat more shit instead of refusing the plate. Most people want to be left alone, to not be disrupted, for life to unfold if not easily, than with a minimum of pain and introspection. We want our lives to be good enough no matter the cost to others. And when the pinch comes, when the bill comes due for our willful slavery to corporate greed and our own complicity in the game, we want someone else to pay, especially if they don't look like us. And all this further tightens the screw.


Nothing will save us. Not politics, not religion and sure as hell not commerce.  We traded faith for money and allowed money to buy our government. We did that. We have earned this moment. We have the president we deserve: a bloviating toddler who wants his way or the bombs start falling.

The world cannot be saved. Our country cannot be saved. This is us.

If you think I will now pivot to some uplift, a silver lining, a hope for the days ahead, you'd be mistaken. There is no pivot. There is no uplift. We're fucked on a colossal scale. The options are to withdraw entirely, become a hermit living on rice and onions and waste time navel-gazing, or comply and go along to get along, to take the bribe and not worry too much about debt and hope the degradation of the planet happens after you're dead (though that would suck for your kids to have to suss out), or to try a third way, to walk away - not to a hermitage, but to cease adding your name to the scroll of desolation. Making some sort of art seems to be part of this. It won't heal the planet and it won't stop corporate monsters from destroying everything for the sake of a dollar, but it will put you on the other side of that line. It will suck and few will notice or care, but you must do it, you must take that step to separate yourself from the whirling madness, to judge that madness for what it is and refuse to participate in its systems as far as is possible.

Shouting banners of #resist keeps you tied to the wheel. The wheel must be rejected entirely by your choices. By all means call your congressman. Piss into the wind if it makes you feel superior. You are voiceless in this system. What matters is to find your voice and use it where it can be heard. That's why making some sort of art seems to be part of this. We are in this ugly place because we placed an unearned trust in two-faced politicians and corporate profits. We will not undo this harm using the same methods that brought us to our knees. The system is corrupt because we are corrupt. We've been bought off for a smartphone.

Unfuck your life? Quit playing by their rules. You have a voice. Use it - no matter the cost. Someone else will hear it and it will save them. This is what we have. This is what we can do: save one life and, if Judaic scholars are correct, so save the world.

* * *

It is Rosh Hashanah tonight at sunset: the start of the new year. It would be a good place to start.

Shanah Tovah.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

You Did Not

You did not ask why I go down in the mine
Oh how I love you Mary
It was for the children, it was for better times
Oh how I love you Mary

- Diana Jones, "Henry Russell's Last Words"

* * *

Henry Russel died in a mine explosion in West Virginia in 1927. In the last hours of his life he wrote to his wife, Mary, on scraps from a torn cement bag as he faced his death. He'd been a miner in Scotland. He was a miner in America. He folded the scraps of paper and tucked them in his lunch pail and laid down and died.

* * *

Devotion seems archaic, part of a time and place closed off to us. We, so bright, so clever, so awash in our certitude that we are both bright and clever, cringe at the word devotion. It smacks of religiosity, narrowness, a shutting out of possibility. There is nothing expansive about devotion. It constricts, chokes off, turns a blind eye. It simplifies to the point of ignorance. Or so we have made it be. If devotion were called by another name, perhaps, fidelity, or authenticity it might sit easier. We tend to like the authentic and usually believe ourselves to be the real deal while others stumble through inauthentic lives.

I vote for something else: sacrifice. That, too, is out of step with our times, yet I cannot help but believe that the problems we find ourselves in - both individually and collectively - are sourced in the absence of devotion, the absence of sacrifice. It is easy to re-arrange events to fit a narrative that holds you together, that justifies your choices and we all do it. That's fine. For awhile. Maybe a long while. Maybe to your grave, but it would leave out the parts where your actions fell short of what you were capable of and so omit essential parts of your story. The places we gloss over, the memories we don't dig at, or retro-fit are those places where our devotion to a cause, our cause, the cause took a back seat to expediency and going along to get along. We stay married to jobs, to spouses, to places that do not support us, our interior life, our hopes, or finances and we call such self-abnegation sacrifice. It is nothing of the sort. It is hiding. It is a refusal to become who we are. 

The martyr gene is strong in my family. There is nothing more useless than a martyr: a showy display of great feeling and the gnawing sense it is the show not the feeling that matters. Telling everyone you will now fall on a grenade is not the same as smothering a blast to protect others. It mistakes the  arrogance of talk for the sacrifice of doing.

* * *

We, clever and bright as we are, are also empty in those places we hide from, the places where our actions failed our intentions. It is possible to reclaim that part of the story. Not as an exercise in self-flagellation, the martyr's mea culpa, but as an act of devotion, sacrificing some ego to re-balance our experience. This is less than easy to do, but that is what makes it devotional: I will have my name or die trying to know it.

Viktor Frankl wrote that happiness could not be pursued, but, in fact, could only ensue because one has devoted one's life to a cause other than the self. Happiness is the natural by-product of devotion and devotion can only take place when you choose to live for something other than the story you tell about yourself. It is when you live for the story held in others, in those you love, in those you'll never meet, but might somehow reach through the acts of your story that life takes on purpose. You have crafted meaning out of thin air. Your sacrifice isn't a penalty, something to mourn, but is, instead, a threshold you pass over to a new way of knowing your life and its capacities.

* * *

From Wendell Berry:

The best teachers teach more/than they know. By their deaths/they teach most.

I thought of this poetry when I heard Henry Russell's Last Words. It struck me that we live our lives unaware of what our deaths will teach those who still have their lives to live and how our deaths will effect the hour of their own. It is easy to believe that we live an equivalent life to Henry Russell, that we, too, go into mines (metaphoric and otherwise) with the hope of better days. We see such work as sacrifice and a grace note of nobility shines within us for doing so. But if all we are leaving behind are days worked, bills paid with none of Henry Russell's devotion to his Mary, then what has our unhappiness been for? 

Work can be inequitable, unsafe, unjust and seek to drain what is best in you for someone else's profit. It can also be righteous, kind and fortifying. That isn't what matters though, if, and if is doing a lot of work here, you know the how and why of your actions, if you know the cause greater than yourself that your actions are devoted to. If so, then you are free. If not, no matter how rich you become, you are lost.

Know what you are doing. To get there, know the entirety of your story. Then give it away for another.

* * *

May you always have a scrap of cement bag nearby.

* * *



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Well The Rifleman's

Well, the rifleman's stalking the sick and the lame,
Preacherman seeks the same, who'll get there first is uncertain
Nightsticks and water cannons, tear gas, padlocks,
Molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain,
False-hearted judges dying in the webs that they spin,
Only a matter of time 'til night comes steppin' in

- Bob Dylan, "Jokerman"

* * *

I'll stand here: the world that surrounds us, the world that feeds us sight and sound, the world we take for granted, the world in which we do all of our living and dying is more beautiful than we can allow. Our ability to account for and process the beautiful is limited. It is why we are silenced when we come upon it, or suddenly recognize it in a face, or shore, or the rattling curve of penmanship found on a box marked "Christmas Ornaments" written in a hurry 30 years ago by a mother or father now gone from us. Beauty is a type of danger we shun precisely because it stymies us, halts our thoughts and arrests our worried minds. To recognize the beautiful is to have your self fall away like a calved iceberg: whoosh - gone. And naked you stand before your god.

That is the true threat and danger of beauty - it exposes you, it reveals you as you are. Glamor cannot do that. That is surface only: airbrush and photoshop. No, only beauty can reveal you. To stand in the dark to watch the Morning Star, to stand on a shore and become tidal yourself, to look into the eyes of the aged, of those who have suffered, of those newly arrived on the planet is to be silenced by beauty.  Beauty is not what is pretty or fair or comely. It is more granite than sandstone. It endures and touches the eternal because it can switch off time and hold you suspended for as long as you can bear it. To encounter beauty is to be changed, humbled a bit, all hubris turned to dust. But this also: to encounter beauty is to be emboldened, drawn out of your protective shell in the hopes that you might again be pierced with the clean blade of silence.

This is true as far as I can describe it.

I say I'll stand here in defense of beauty because it is clear there is a relentless assault on beauty. First by the gibbering goons of commerce that flatten everything to a shiny surface, but more distressingly by those now in control of the government. How else to describe the unbridled cruelty of ending protections for over 800,000 human beings who trusted their government to come forward? What is more beautiful than the mind and soul that can perceive beauty? To throw 800,000 lives away because of racist, nativist, xenophobia is the purest definition of ugliness and the evil that holds its hands. Spare me the comments about the rule of law until Joe Arpaio is behind bars. Politics, as it has festered here over the past 40 years of Republican assault on civics in the service of the wealthy, has become a zero-sum game: the antithesis of beauty.

Beauty is without end. It is not in limited supply. What is in short supply are the eyes to see it and then live by it. The titular heads of the EPA and the Energy Department are climate change deniers. They see any alteration to the economy in favor of the environment as destructive to jobs. Beyond the unadulterated bullshit of giving a damn about workers and jobs (their fealty is bought and paid for by others), is the ferocious shortsightedness of working towards environmental collapse. On what land will the jobs stand? What water to drink? What food to eat? We're unlocking microbes from polar ice that haven't been seen in eons and the focus is on the rich getting richer? It lends itself easily to despair. Yet, despair will do nothing to stem this tide of gobsmacking stupidity.

And so I'll stand with beauty in defiance of the cretinism of a corpulent man-child destroying lives in order to be stroked by his racist cohorts who are too dim to know they are as disposable to him as those they hate. I'll stand with beauty in defiance of commerce, in the flattening and dulling of experience in the name of a dollar. I'll stand with beauty and try to add to its store in defiance of my own limitation because this is where our future will unfold. We'll either be moved to action by what is beautiful or we'll cease to care and so be eradicated sooner, rather than later.

It isn't much, I'll warrant, but it's what I've got.  If you took a minute and considered it, considered what your encounter with beauty has done to you, you will see how change is possible, how we are not fated to cynicism, xenophobia, racism or homophobia. These stains on human consciousness arise out of fear, out of a paucity of faith, an emptiness of spirit. They are made manifest by anger and anger cannot be talked out of its logic. The circle is closed. No, hatred and anger refuse all entreaties. Only the heart-stopping silence of beauty can break through. Once someone has encountered beauty, been held for just a second, the door is then cracked open for other possibilities. 

* * *

The President, surrounded by gold fixtures and glittering women, does not know beauty and will never know it. It is why cruelty comes easily to him. The defenders of The Lost Cause, wrapped in stars and bars, will not know it either, for they willingly trade the suffering of others as a pittance in order to justify the smallness of their lives. And the jag-offs waving their right arms in the air are so filled with bile they will never be clean again in this world. Why? Because they renounce beauty for gold, beauty for an imagined supremacy and all the while walk past what could have changed them if they had the courage to see.

Beauty is always nigh. You have but to reach out a hand, draw in a breath, whisper, "I am here" and when the revelation comes, as it will, as it does for all who allow it, then nothing is the same and you know the purpose of your life.

My cause is beauty for I have been the luckiest of men to have met my children and they have opened my eyes. Now, nothing is the same and the machinations of hatred are no match for the beauty I know.

* * *



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

We Have Fallen

We have fallen out of belonging.

- John O'Donahue, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

* * *

I was haunted by John O'Donahue last night, though I am certain he'd have never considered it such a thing. Until yesterday I knew nothing of him and today I am changed by him. He'd been a priest, a poet and philosopher. Mostly, from the bit I can gather, he was just a good man who worked at his work and loved the western wilds of Ireland where he was born. He died of a sudden at the age of 52. In his sleep. The parenthesis closed. And last night, as sleep refused my entreaties, John O'Donahue, a man who wrote blessings for the lostness of our world, haunted me: Get on with it, then.

* * *

We have fallen out of belonging to the world, to its wildness, its unconcern, its stillness and forms: glens and marshes, limestone valleys, ocean shore and windswept scree. Houston is underwater because developers were trusted with a flood plain. Everywhere commerce controls the view, controls our lives, tells us when to wake, where to work and how much we're worth. It is all second nature to us and we've traded our primary nature for it. We fallen out of belonging to one another as well. The competition for dwindling resources pits us against one another whether that resource is a decent job, or a plot of land or the pleasure of being left alone for a few days from the job or the house. We have fallen out of belonging to our time. Instead, time controls us, tethered as we are to our technological crutches. There is a filter, a scrim separating us from our world, our time and our place. It is a displacement disguised as a benefit: isolation.

Solitude is the soul seeking its respite. Isolation is to be bereft of a soul.

Man first stood upright on savannas. We came into being knowing the horizon. It is ancient in us to seek the line between the earth and sky. It is ancient in us to be at peace when we can see the horizon. It is our home. It is our escape route. It is safety and promise. By crowding out the line, by building canyons of commerce and absorbing the shoreline for only the wealthy we have starved ourselves of our belonging. Subway systems, traffic flow, rail lines are the arterials of commerce and everywhere they blind us to the world. 

Work, yes, but only at your work - whatever it may be. Not another man's work. Not on another man's terms, but on the terms and conditions you set. I know it seems impossible, and it likely is, but we must try to wrestle back from the overarching presumptions of our times the value and worth of the time we have to be here on the earth, to do whatever it is we are to do with the bit of time we have to do it in.

There is an ancient wildness in us still: the collective unconscious, what's bred in the bone, pre-knowledge. You can feel its presence when you stand alone in any broad landscape, where you can feel rooted in place, yet are dizzy with the spectacle before you. It is the old in us calling to us.

Chief Seattle:

"This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected  like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand on it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

One thing we know: our god is also your god. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap  contempt on its creator.

Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted by talking wires? Where will the thicket Be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is it to say goodbye to the swift pony and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival."

* * *

We have not been living, but surviving for a long while. Look at your own days. How has that been going? Even if your bills are paid and your children well and kind, can you say whether you've been living or surviving? I have survived for a good long while. I am good at endurance, but less so at living. Yesterday, I met John O'Donahue, a priest who gave me his blessing and nothing will ever be the same.

* * *



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Advice I Don't

"Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.” 

- Alan Watts, Apocrypha

* * *

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. That's not the hard part. The hard part is putting those answers into motion the way a man runs to water with his hair on fire.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. You just don't trust yourself. That's what locks your wheels.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. But living by them is a higher cost than you want to pay, even though you continue to suffer, founder, stumble.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. You know it in your bones, in the depth of the night, but not in words, more of a pulse and impulse. And this leaves you vulnerable to the judgment of others.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. Yet, there is a keeper on what you'll allow for yourself: the accumulated weight and expectations of others.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. You know who you are, but you are busy being what others want you to be and you think that will be enough. It's not, and you know that, too.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. They exist as the body's knowledge of itself, its needs, aversions and desires. It is a language only you know and translating it into action is how you redeem what's been lost.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. You are the eyes, ears, voice, feet and hands of the universe perceiving and knowing itself through you. But that seems weird, so you pretend it's just you.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. Your story may be tragic or euphoric. Still, it is your story and you are telling it with every choice. So, double check, what story are you telling: the lie or the truth?

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. You can't help but have them. They are stitched into everything you do. Now what you do may be a rejection of that truth, or a denial of it, but that doesn't alter the fact of it.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. It may make for trouble for you, but there's worse trouble staying stuck.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. This isn't a mystery or some mystic crap. It is as real and ordinary as your autonomic nervous system. It keeps you alive.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. Fear is a baleful thing and it loves stasis. To start is to put a knife through fear.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. The first step implies and propels the second and so on. Thresholds are to be stepped through, not camped out on.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. There are people known and unknown to you who need what you have to offer, if only you'd get it into the world.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. No matter what you do, do it as if your life and the lives of your loved ones depend on it, for it does and they do.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. Quit comparing yourself to anyone. It can't be done and is a waste of everybody's time–most of all, yours.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. All of life, the whole of the known universe is motion and flow and transformation. Undig your heels. You'll feel better instantly.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion. People forget this.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. So, rid yourself of the lie that it's too late, or your gift too small. Time and size are meaningless constructs. There is only you and the life in you veins. Now go play before the sun goes down.

* * *



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Found Out On

Found out on my own
That everything I thought I knew
Twas a lie twined and twisted true

- Valerie June, "Twined & Twisted"

* * *

Things take the time they take. Things take the time they take. Thinks take the time they take. Tattoo it on your forehead and let the rest go. Really, let it go.

* * *

We enter the world: light, sound, vibration, touch and coo. We enter the world helpless and glad of it for everything is new and help (if we are well-loved) comes on a breeze and soothes what frightens and disorients us. We enter the world a knot of unknowing and time unspools us to our knowledge, our knowing of the time and place we are from, born into and out of. We are blessed whether we know it or not, whether there is one there to do the blessing for we are of Life. We are ripe with it. It drips from us like a snotty nose: profuse, unawares, shimmering. What we don't know, what we don't have the experience to know yet is so amorphous, unshaped as to be invisible. We know light and sound and vibration, touch and coo. Time betrays us, draws us away from the cloud of our unknowing. We are taught, formed in the floods and waterspouts of the circumstances of our birth. Stories come to ears and we can't help but measure ourselves to those stories. Even the most benign and loving story is a scar. But we do not notice for all is of a piece and is ordered to the life we are experiencing: want, hunger, plenty, security, violence, adoration - no matter.

Then come the others, the cohort and their stories and the stories of the community: religion, politics, the preferred, the acceptable, the rewarded. And we can't help but measure ourselves against these stories and every story leaves a scar. Perhaps, lightly, perhaps thicker, but we are shaped nonetheless. Following the path of these stories we feel them to be powerful, irrefutable, or if refutable, at great cost and most stay silent to all bu their darkened rooms at night. Our ceiling hears the story we want to tell, but the incentive to silence is great.

So many lives are lived in quiet desperation, right?

Until such time, until such time that the silenced voice can be quiet no longer. Then what?

It is a long way from the world we entered as light and sound and vibration and touch and coo. Heavy now, heavy with experience we are now called to let grief be a falling leaf. How can this be? How can this be? Where has the time gone?

Things take the time they take, ease up on yourself. You are still and always have been new to the world. New to light. New to sound. The stories that guided you, that formed you at the start are, without hesitation, lies twined and twisted. That is true. But only because they were handed to you and not experienced in your bones. They sought to save you the difficulty of finding out on your own, but that would rob you, did rob you of the life you are to live. And here you are with your heels blistered from running in the dark. Now what?

Well, now that you're here in this place of uncertainty, of the impulse to regret and recrimination, of abandonment and teetering fear this you must do: use your voice. Test it out. See what it sounds like now that you're on your own. Listen to it. Keep at it. A new story will emerge. It will use bits and pieces of other stories. Like a magpie you'll steal from experience and you'll cobble together a story that is familiar in parts, thoroughly inscrutable in others. This is your story. It has never been told before. If you remain silent, it never will be told, or it will be told by others who couldn't possibly know what you know.

* * *

Things take the time they take. You learn what you have to learn in the time it takes you to learn it. There's no hurrying, there's no shortcut. Don't indulge the bitter fantasy that you could have done it sooner. If it was possible, it would have happened. Re-litigating the past only corrodes the time you have to get all your living done. 

We arrive here with the plates in our skull unsutured, a pulsing, soft hole covered by downy hair and skin yet to be closed. We are born incomplete. Into that hole is poured all light and sound. The knot of our unknowing unspools in lies twined and twisted that we took for truth. Experience scars us all. And if you can bear it, if you can keep your feet moving, there comes another unspooling, the one where the lies are forgiven and your story ready, twined and twisted from the roads you've traveled, emerges from your throat: ripe with life, filled with light, sound, vibration, touch and the cooing of one filled with joy and sorrow for what the rest are yet to go through.

Things take the time they take. 

* * *

May your well run deep.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Those Who Restrain

Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained; and the restrainer or Reason usurps its place & governs the unwilling. And being restrain'd, it by degrees becomes passive, till it is only the shadow of desire.

- Wm. Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

* * *

It is the function and purpose of life, all life, to be as it is: complete, unconstrained in its expression, without apology or the notion that one might be required. 

William, again: The eagle never lost so much time, as when he submitted to learn of the crow.

Things are as they are: eagles, crows, William. Nothing is absent for the eagle. Nothing absent for the crow. William was the rare, incendiary man for whom nothing was absent from his mind, spirit, work. All were twined and twisted into a mobius skein of ceaseless experimentation, work, audacity and courting the condemnation of the powers and wights cropped on top of the pile in early Nineteenth century London. He died penniless, it is true, but oh, how he lived.

You and I are not Blake and nor should we be. He did a fine job of it. No, for you and I the question remains: who are you? Are you the sum of culture, the sum of a family's yearning, the sum of your experience? Where are you in the midst of the life you are living? Can you tell? How? Where is the line where others' expectations end and yours begin? Or is that, too, twined and twisted with no beginning or end?

I'm asking for a friend.

The question inherent in William's statement is, what is desire? Where are its origins? If this seems a repeat of the questions surrounding who you are, well, that is as it should be. You are your desires, you are the forces inside you, you are wind and sail and that truth cannot be avoided, though it can be sullied.

Take a minute and think about why you swing your legs out of bed in the morning. Take a minute and do some back of the envelope math and estimate how many mornings you've seen. Now ask yourself how many mornings have you really seen, been awake to, been glad to see - no matter what lay ahead - and felt plugged into the power of your life, your desires, your sense of being in the world. Don't be too hard on yourself. Not all of us are incendiary all the time. That is why Blake is Blake and Whitman is Whitman. It is also why you are you. The work of your life is lit by the fire you keep burning (even when there's nothing left to burn). This fire is desire: animal, spirit, heart. Too often desire is defined down to mean base. Nothing could be further from the truth. Desire is being suffused with life and light and power and intuition where your mind and body move with surety, a surety bred in the bone, deeper than consciousness: the product of life honing itself over millennia.

You are it. Thou art that. Tat tvam asi. Act accordingly.

* * *

The half-life, the awful half-life of seeing your freedom from across the way but not knowing how to cross over is the plight of all us fucked fuckers. We are restrained, constrained by forces we cannot master though with all our being we don't want to be half men and women. As far as I can see, the problem lays in how we think about those constraints, how we restrain ourselves because we've estimated the costs of action and choice and found them too high to pay. It might end a marriage. It could cost you a job. It will likely disappoint family. You are convinced you can't move until there is certainty in the outcome. Risk becomes doubt. Doubt become inaction. Inaction becomes bitterness, and thus we become fucked - not by any outside actor, but by our own hand.


Consider this: we have a shitty understanding of desire. We assume mayhem. We assume desire is more of the groin and not the mind. We believe desire is an unleashing and we have been taught in a million large and small ways by our family, our culture, that danger lies in that direction. And that is true, though not how such admonitions are intended. They mean wildness. I mean freedom. Remember, you are wind AND sail. You are the force itself and you are the means to direct it, to shape it, to use it to find out what it means to swing your legs out of bed and feel the floor electric with possibilities. There is nothing more dangerous to others than a soul that has found its freedom and refused to relinquish it. This is a love to hold against all the gods.

* * *

None can restrain your desire except by your permission, your acquiescence. None can shape your desire or use it without your leave to do so. William tells it bluntly: Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained.

Surely, the gift of your life is not so weak. Surely, it pulses with genius, the animating spirit of your days. If you have been laid low, if you have suffered, if you have stumbled, if tragedy has found you, if you have let beauty slip by unnoticed, unattended, you use all of that to find your freedom, to lift the chains of what might have been, of what was, for what might yet be. It is not too late. Your gifts are not too small. It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity, to sing high and clear, to glide through days. But a greater thing is to rejoice in the world as it is, to sing with a voice cracked by experience, to refuse to glide, but walk instead among those who need your encouragement, your example of overcoming your losses and griefs by unshackling your desire and using it to carry you on to the next and the next and the next.

This is the genius of the fucked: we overcome and in so doing become kinder for the trials we have known. The undaring, shadow life isn't worth the paper it is printed on.

* * *

May your well run deep.