Wednesday, October 4, 2017

This Is What

This is what we mean: man's being is always dynamic; man is never just "there". Man "is" insofar as he "becomes"–not only in his physical reality, in growing, maturing, and eventually diminishing towards the end. In his spiritual reality, too, man is constantly moving on–he cannot be in any other form; man is intrinsically a pilgrim, "not yet arrived", regardless of whether he is aware of this or not, whether he accepts it or not.

- Josef Pieper, "Thoughts About Music," Only the Lover Sings: Art and Contemplation

* * *

We wake to horrors everyday. The unfathomable has become common to our eyes, our ears and we almost don't see it or hear it. The language fails us because the language has been abused and soiled by partisan hacks until the words, like the too common blood, cease to hold meaning. They become sounds as lives become bodies becomes statistics. We wake to horrors and nothing, absolutely nothing we have at our disposal seems enough, for it isn't enough and to hold off the despair from seeing too much, and we see less by flattening it out. Two dimensions are manageable, three is not.

For myself, these horrors take days to be felt, days to enter, weeks and years to learn how to live with. And that, too, has a distancing effect, a way of holding at arm's length an event I did not live through, but learned of: a sign, a signifier, a symbol, but of what? 

We are a broken nation. We are actively taking hammers to its unfulfilled promise because change has been foisted upon us unawares: banks eating jobs, homes, incomes, where gains become losses while a few, a very few own the field our work is played out on. Change, needed change, the long overdue respect for others not like one's self, has slowly emerged from the courts and for some it has become a new found freedom while others fear themselves losing control and power and status. Too much equality shows the heretofore systemic inequality and revanchists everywhere counterattack, hoping to, if not stem the tide of change, at least make others pay for it in blood.

We wake to horrors every day and the reason why strikes me as plain: man "is" insofar as he "becomes" and those who deny or reject the intrinsic reality of our ceaseless becoming–whether out of malice or ignorance–are the vectors of our horrors. They are, both figuratively and literally, inhuman. For to be human is to transform, to change, to grow, to move. Not simply in our physical selves, but in our intellect, our emotions and our spirit. To reject, resist, deny this inescapable reality is to deny one's own humanity. From such a position it is more than easy to deny the humanity of others: it is required.

This is the work of nihilism and cynicism. It is the work of irony, of distancing, of flattening experience and deluding one's self that the one's ego is complete unto itself. It shears off connections to others. It is the seed bed of violence. It is a cult of death, glorying only in the suffering it can impose on others. The anonymity of the internet is fecund with it. The idea of stasis, of reverting to a previous form, restoring lost glory always brings death with it and it is born out of a feral isolation that is so complete that, like a black hole, it emits no light.

* * *

Pieper, a Thomist philosopher, believed all men and women were moving towards the good.That the peregrination of each was inherently bound up with the good. He said, "Even when man pursues evil, he intends a perceived good." I respectfully disagree. It is too easy to allow those who pursue harm to be allowed a portion of the good by saying their goals were perceived, by them, to be good. I have always believed that within each person is the possibility, and possibility only, of transformation. In particular the transformation from unknowing to knowing, from fucked to unfucked, as it were. Yet, if I am honest, I no longer believe this. It is plain to me that there are some creatures so isolated, so lost in darkness that they cannot be called human. Is this too much? Is it despairing of me to despair over them? There are 59 bodies on morgue tables in Nevada that argue against that. And if they are so lost, what is my obligation to them? Am I not obligated by my belief in transformation to hold open the door for them?

No. I'm not. It will take a saint to do so. As much as I admire the writing of Josef Pieper and Viktor Frankl, two men seared by the atrocities of World War II, I cannot follow them to the conclusion that even if man pursues evil, he intended a perceived good. It is impossible for me to brand hatred as a perceived good. It is only evil and the people who pursue it, apologize for it, excuse it, defend it on abstract grounds, all help to sustain it. I won't. 

* * *

My first literary hero, Kurt Vonnegut, wrote that his work was written so that people might be kinder and gentler than they might otherwise be. That has always struck me as the single most useful definition of art I'd ever encountered. It has been part of me from the start. It remains the North Star of my days. I'll do my work. I'll push stories into the world and hope that someone who needs them will find them and it will help them feel less alone. That's as far as any art can go. There will always be those who reject such ideas out of hand, who won't allow for its possibilities. Right on, go fuck yourself. I don't care. You are the darkness I fight against. I will not make excuses for you. I will not call you human. That name is reserved for those in motion, who are moving through their lives, pilgrims on the road to find out what it means to be fully alive.

If you are here unfaithfully among us, you are causing great harm.

I will no longer call it by any other name.

* * *



Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Someday Emerging At

Someday, emerging at last from the violent insight,
let me sing out jubilation and praise to assenting angels.
Let not even one of the clearly-struck hammers of my heart
fail to sound because of a slack, a doubtful, 
or a broken string. Let my joyfully streaming face
make me more radiant, let my hidden weeping arise
and blossom. How dear you will be to me then, you nights
of anguish. Why didn't I kneel more deeply to accept you,
inconsolable sisters, and, surrendering, lose myself
in your loosened hair. How we squander our hours of pain.
How we gaze beyond them into the bitter duration 
to see if they have an end. Though they are really
our wnter-enduring foliage, our dark evergreen,
one season in our inner year–, not only a season
in time–, but are place and settlement, foundation and soil and home.

- RM Rilke, "The Tenth Elegy," Duino Elegies

* * *

Much of what derails us, derails our spirit, derails the lives we are living is a refusal to welcome the difficult, the painful. We seek to avoid pain the way a germaphobe sanitizes his hands: ceaselessly, fearfully, trapped by the realization that life cannot be controlled, tamed or made to heel. This lack of control brings fear and a quashing of the spirit that wants to move, that wants to dare the experience of being alive to see what it might reveal. It is foundational to me that this spirit exists in all things. It is the force that through the green fuse drives the flower. It is imminent, ever-present, at hand. Without this spirit, without being awakened to it, quickened by it, our lives take on a dull luster, a flattened experience where we trade beauty for the pleasant and filter life through a heavy brocade of fear. In doing so we mitigate some surface threats, some obvious difficulties but at the cost of never knowing, never fully knowing what our lives can be, never being lost in the loosened hair of our time.

We fear what cannot be known. We move quietly, absently into the unknown each day, hoping to make it through with as little bruising as possible. We accomplish this by not taking notice of too much: the quality of light, the shape of clouds, the homeless, the suffering across town and on the other side of the world. We work our niche. We keep the company of those most like us and we get through. Until we are stopped. Until there is no passage. Until the suffering across town comes to our address. Until the toll of indifference becomes a horror to our minds. Until such time as we lift our heads. 

What then? Ill-equipped from long neglect, how are we to move into a world that has suddenly gotten very small and specific in its woundings, and at the same time impossibly large in its indifference to those wounds. Rilke writes that we not squander the hours of pain, for they are the foundation of what we will become. Instead of looking for its end, he says to kneel more deeply in front of it, for it is only a season where new life will one day emerge. He's not wrong. Just as Frankl wrote that meaning could come not only from love and work, but also from suffering, Rilke makes it difficult to pretend that there is not awe even into the most difficult and desolate places. No one wants to believe this, but somewhere in your experience, in your memory, in the collective memory of all who have lived and died is the sure knowledge this is so.

We seek ease when it is life we must pursue. Just as beauty is dangerous and pretty in not, so too awe, reverence is dangerous and unbelief is not. By unbelief I mean the refusal to see the ceaseless transformation  of all things. To hold that one cannot step into the same river twice is reverence, to see only water is unbelief.  Reverence is not secured in holy places, nor is it in the domain of churches, temples, stupas or mosques. It is possible to feel reverence in those places but only because it is possible to encounter it anywhere.

To stand in awe is to stand in front of a mystery larger than yourself. To revere that mystery is to acknowledge your place in it. And that makes you dangerous: in your own life and to others.

Reverence is simply a way of seeing, of not trying to control the world before you, but to be willing to be transformed by it without a promise of anything other than transformation. The full text from Heraclitus: "No man steps into the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." 

We think of our Self as static. That the thing we are is the thing we have always been. We are biased to confer continuity to ourselves, but not to others. This is the root of where reverence and awe is lost. If we are the same, then it is others, the world around us that is faithless. We take an antagonistic stance to our circumstances. But to break the shell of that bias, to find a way to see ourselves, our Selves, as fluid is to be restored to our lives, to the surrounding world with all its beauty and horror. Consciousness demands reverence. Again, not to any god, or faith, or politics, or economics, but the ceaseless transformations that fill every hour.

And if you are in the nights of anguish, even there, reverence for the night itself is the only way to be healed, transformed by it. It is the nature of all things to be transformed. Resisting it only sharpens the pain. And it is possible to spend the length of your life unchanging, living inside the bias of one's consistency, never touching the edge of awe. We all know people like this. Their lives empty husks of what might have been: talent wasted, love squandered - all to pretend they alone were gods unchanging.

Here's the news: the gods change with us.

* * *

May all that is unsaid in you find its voice.


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.

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