Saturday, July 28, 2012

I'm Working On

I'm workin' on the high hope
And if it all works out, you might just see me
Or hear from me in a while

- Glen Hansard, High Hope

* * *

When I die I hope to be reincarnated as Glen Hansard.

* * *

This is really hard for me.
I have to leave.
I have to leave.
I have to leave.
I could not imagine my life without having been part of this, whatever the fuck this is.

I have written to understand, not to be understood, and I hope I hope I hope I have given you something that you can carry with you, the way music echoes inside of me: solace and a foot in the ass.

I have covered some ground with you and I am grateful beyond my ability to say how glad I have been for your company. You have been the reason I have stayed here, stayed working, stayed true to the desire to be the man who stayed true to his desire. And now that desire is asking something different from me: a new form, a new venue, a new way of doing my work.

* * *

I still have some road ahead of me and I have to go find out what is there, what is there for me to see, to do, to get done before the clock stops. So, I'm going to go now. You might just see or hear from me in awhile. Until then, I will carry you in the pockets of my soul.

If I forgot to say so earlier, know this: your life is beautiful, you are beautiful just as you are. All you need is to be you: complete, no part left out. And that is how you unfuck your life.

Be well.
Be fierce.
You are forever young.

* * *



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Remember Buying

I remember buying a little Indian sort of chest of drawers once. And I was so intrigued by it, the color of it, and I thought, this, if I let it be, could be the beginning of a new life for me. If I followed the message of this little set of drawers and built everything else around that, that would be a different life.

- Brian Eno, Here Is What Is

* * *

There is a moment, maybe dozens of them in a lifetime, maybe just one, where you have to decide to organize your life around something, anything, even a little Indian sort of chest of drawers, in order to ground your life, to give it a place to depart from. These somethings can change, sometimes they stay for the length of your days, sometimes you change them like shoes when they wear out. You can layer them, move between them, but always there is the primacy of one, one thing, one somemotherfuckingthing and your life opens by the fact you have chosen, by the fact you have imposed an order on the chaos of your days, by saying, "This chest of drawers, this child, this love, this eight and a half by eleven inch sheet of paper, this light, this work, this image, this story, this bowler hat, this box of ammunition, this pen knife, this cuff link, this song, this house, this memory, this business card, this phone book, this wooden mallet, this coffee cup, this chair, this stone, this drum, this boat, this dream, this dream, this dream, this beauty, this horror, this will to impose order on the chaos of my days is the doorway to a different life - mine."

Choose. It is the first step.
Live by it until you know you are ready for the next thing, and then choose again.

* * *

You'll know your life is running under its own power when you use your power to choose and choose from the deepest well inside you. Choose and live. Thomas Merton in The Sign of Jonas writes of the monastic ordering: prayer and work, ora et labora.  I appropriate his construction and christen it eligere et vivere, choose and live.

But unless you have chosen, unless you have already tasted the freedom of being bound by your choices, you do not believe it, you do not believe you can do it, you do not believe it is possible. You doubt your ability to choose from the multitude of possibilities in front of you. The critic in your head reminds you of the guitar lessons you gave up on, the marriage that dissolved, the jobs you've changed with the seasons. Listen to me: choosing is easy, committing to the choice is how you unfuck your life. And there's this as well: you can walk into a flea market and find a little Indian sort of chest of drawers, be intrigued by the color of it, the message it has for you, and choose a different life. The key is to organize your life around that choice: each time. In time, over time, you'll find that thing that is you and then, then, then, then, then, then the residual of your hard work will appear to be luck to others who have not chosen anything, and because you surrendered to your choice your life will bloom in ways you cannot imagine. 


The more I write the more I want to write.
The more I want to write the more I write.

Rinse and repeat.

I want to be good at words.
I want to be good at being a father.
I want to be good at being a friend, a lover.
I want to be that man who could be that man.

Such are the drawers in my little Indian sort of chest of drawers, but the one that informs the others, makes the others possible, is the principle I have organized my life around is this: I want to be good at being a father.

Right now, tell me yours.

* * *

Serendipity is the heart open wide, is seeing what is there for you: everywhere. But don't think for a minute it's that "secret" bullshit. It is not you who manifests the stuff of your life, but Life who manifests just such a you as who can see a little Indian sort of chest of drawers in each place the eye falls: all the way down and all the way back.

* * *

Oh, where will I be when that trumpet sounds?
If I choose and live it won't matter at all.

* * *



Sunday, July 15, 2012

It Matters To

It matters to me
Took a long time to get here
If it would have been easy
I would not have cared.

- My Morning Jacket, "Wonderful (The Way I Feel)

* * *

The greatest challenge in a fight is recognizing when it is over, when the slog has concluded, when the long hoped for, long desired, long dreamt end has come and the next thing can begin. Being practiced in suffering it is difficult, to the point of being crippling, for the fucked to lay down their weary tune, to recognize they have come home, come free, come to pass and the defensive posture that has been integral to surviving now has no use.

The fucked do not trust happiness, do not trust the end of their servitude.

Let the slave grinding at the mill run out into the field
Let him look up into the heavens and laugh in the bright air
Let the enchained soul, shut up in darkness and in sighing
Whose face has never seen a smile in thirty weary years
Rise and look out; his chains are loosed, his dungeon doors are open;
And let his wife and children return from the oppressor's scourge
They look behind at every step and believe it is a dream
Singing: The sun has left its blackness and found a fresher morning
And the fair Moon rejoices in the clear and cloudless night 

Oh, the fair Moon rejoices, my fucked friends. It rejoices every time one of the fucked brethren come to the threshold between life as it has been and life as it can be and then walks through. The fair Moon rejoices. 

O graziosa luna, io mi rammento che 

There is a test, if you will, one last labor before you can move through that door, before your life is truly unfucked. You have to let go of all that's held you together, that got you to this place. Every pain suffered and endured, every hurt that haunted and motivated you, every link on the chain has to be dropped, broken, left behind or you can't make it through. See, on the other side of your trouble there is no room, no place for the ephemera, all the accoutrements of your suffering, all you've gathered to carry yourself this far. 

It's gotta go. If you hang on to it, you'll drag your trouble with you, attached to you like a shadow, never leaving you. 

I get it, bro. I get it. You're so accustomed to atonement you don't how live without it, without carrying your mistakes and your regrets and your redemption with you like an albatross. I get it. It is part of our fuckitude; but I'm telling you upon your face, let it go. You have to trust yourself to figure out how to live without it. And get this, when you let it all go, all those lessons, all that miserably hard-won wisdom does not disappear. It become part of you. Unshakeable. You don't need to carry your determination with you, it is now cellular, lighter than air, the juice of your synapses.

* * *

I am scared, my brothers. I am scared my sisters. The hard road down, at least this section of it, is over and I'm going to miss it. I find myself on that threshold and I doubt I'll know how to live without the pain to push against, the determination to outlast my troubles. Can I be as determined in happiness? Will I know how to let my guard down and enjoy the fruits of my labors? Or will it always be labors and an inability to live at peace with myself?

There is always a choice, a final freedom left to each of us, and that is to choose how we live, how we respond to the circumstances of our lives. Like you, I must choose, and as scared as I am I choose to let it all go. I choose my children. I choose work. I choose an end to servitude. I choose to step through the door.

* * *

A flight of larks is called an "exaltation of larks."

All is cast to the wind, an exaltation of my ragged soul.

* * *

Boom. Boom. Boom.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Let Me Ride

Let me ride on the Wall of Death one more time
Let me ride on the Wall of Death one more time
You can waste your time on the other rides
This is the nearest to being alive
Let me take my chances on the Wall of Death

- Richard Thompson, Wall of Death

* * *

A good and kind man died the other day. He'd been desperately sick, was getting sicker - pain, the shame of his body betraying him, a burden on those closest to him to tend to his most elementary needs, and so he tossed a rope over a tree branch and saved them the trouble of watching him die slowly. Maybe it was a kindness he offered them. Maybe it was despair. Maybe it was both. No one will know. It will all be conjecture colored by the experience and beliefs of those left to riddle out this good and kind man's last act.

For me, I will miss him. Kindness is far too rare a trait, as is goodness and patience and selflessness. This good and kind man lived a life of service to others, of walking among the lowest, the untouchables in our society and celebrating the gifts of those who dared to follow their talents. I will miss him. Maybe it was the weight of selflessness, the weight of all that service that bore down on him at the end causing him to believe he was unworthy of the same kindness and patience he'd given others. He knew only to tend, not be tended.

Who knows?

A good and kind man died almost 20 years ago. He'd been desperately sick, was getting sicker - pain, the shame of his body betraying him, a burden on those closest to him to tend to his most elementary needs, and he looked me in the eye knowing he was dying, knowing the pain would ratchet up as the days ran out, and said,"I'll kick it along as far as I can for you." This was my father's greatest kindness, his last act of selflessness, his last gift to me: the willingness to walk through the teeth of the Reaper's grin. It scared him at first, but he bulldogged his way past that and rolled on until the night my brother and I sat with him listening to his last breaths - two sons bereft of their father able to love him to the last.

I miss him still. Kindness is far too rare a trait, as is goodness and patience and selflessness. He was a good and kind and sad man who lived a stumbling life burdened by poor choices in love and money. His work was a job you wouldn't wish on an enemy: low, untouchable, unspeakable. Maybe it was the weight of his regrets, the weight of all the things who couldn't make come right that lifted him up at the end and set his feet on the road he chose to walk, causing him to believe "At least I can do this much."

Who knows?

But this is the only way I can understand the last shall be first and the first shall be last.

* * *

You can go with the crazy people in the Crooked House
You can fly away on the Rocket or spin in the Mouse
The Tunnel Of Love might amuse you
Noah's Ark might confuse you
But let me take my chances on the Wall Of Death

* * *

It started in the US: an Indian motorcycle at the bottom of a large wooden barrel and the rider would slowly build speed riding in circles at the bottom, slowly rising up the sides until he was riding perpendicular to the side of the barrel, the audience peering in over the top: the Wall of Death and the gift of momentum and gravity.

Is there a more apt analogy for our time on this earth than a daredevil in a barrel defying expectations? It is all a function of having the willingness to find another gear, to coax a bit more speed out of the machine and in so doing finding freedom, flow, the perfect state of momentum and gravity.

In what state is your momentum and gravity?

Where is your speed? Where your glue?

Gravity is inexorable. It always wins no matter what, but it is also part of the equation, the thing pushed against in order to rise above. There is no speed without it. At the end, when there is no speed left, when the tank is empty all you'll have is the momentum of your life to guide you. My father found a gear he didn't know he had. It was not speed he aimed for, but a lower gear in order to have the traction necessary to kick it along as far as it could go. The other good and kind man put a rope around his neck when he believed there wasn't a gear to be found.


* * *

Let me ride on the Wall of Death one more time
Let me ride on the Wall of Death one more time
You can waste your time on the other rides
This is the nearest to being alive
Let me take my chances on the Wall of Death

* * *

Boom, goddamnit.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

To My Soul

To my soul:
   Are you ever going to achieve goodness? Ever going to be simple, whole and naked–as plain to see as the body that contains you? Know what an affectionate and loving disposition would feel like? Ever be fulfilled, ever stop desiring–lusting and longing for people and things to enjoy? Or more time to enjoy them? Or for some other place or country–"a more temperate clime"? Or for people easier to get along with? And instead be satisfied with what you have, and accept the present–all of it. And convince yourself that everything is the gifts of the gods, that things are good and always will be, whatever they decide and have in store for the preservation of that perfect entity–good and just and beautiful, creating all things, connecting and embracing them and gathering in their separated fragments to create more like them.
   Will you ever take your stand as a fellow citizen with gods and human beings, blaming no one, deserving no one's censure?

- M. Aurelius, Meditations 10:1

* * *

I find that as I age I turn again and again and again and again to Aurelius the way some turn to their Bibles, their Torahs, their Korans, but unlike the religious I don't find, and am not seeking, comfort; instead I find the markings of a single, solitary man wrestling with the facts of his life and trying to transform those facts into a life lived completely. It has none of the easy proscriptions of religious truth (believe! have faith! follow the law!), but rejects such truths for a harder questions: how am I to live pulled by tides of desire, anger, frustration and their opposites–acceptance, peace and letting go. The fact that the document he left behind was never intended for anyone's eyes but his own and is a single voice–alive, aware of its our contradictions, ever leaning forward to get it right in his mind–is what makes it so relevant to me, makes it speak to me as the voice of Ecclesiates speaks to me, the voice of Viktor Frankl, the voice of one crying in the wilderness speaks to me. My brothers, my fathers, me. When Aurelius asks, Will you ever take your stand as a fellow citizen with gods and human beings, blaming no one, deserving no one's censure? I want to kill him; I want to thank him for saying it plainly; I want to answer him: yes, that is what I am trying to do right here, right now, with each word.

* * *

My friend, his questions are your questions, are they not? Questions of wondering when it will be good, simple, whole. Questions of the effort to convince yourself to let go, to make your stand. Thou, we fucked, are not original. We are simply this iteration of ancient mysteries of consciousness, conscience and what the fuck are we supposed to do with it all.

Here is my answer: we are to gather our separated fragments and create.

Aurelius' words were his description of what the gods do with our lives, the impulse and drive of life to create more life framed in a story about it all making sense as being part of a perfect entity - the logos. I hope he's right, but I won't know until I die. In the meantime let me use what is separated in me, broken in me, incomplete in me–my contradictions, my weaknesses, my failings–and use them to create something that had not existed before I put my hand to it: a story, a work, a life spent doing such things.

It is time to do such work. It always has been. It always will be. What is your work? What have you postponed because it was hard, or you felt inferior to the task of building it? What life are you not living? 

There will never be enough money. 
There will never be enough time.
There will never be kinder people.
There will never be a better place.
There will never be a moment more perfect than this one.

Listen, listen to the lion. Listen to the voice inside you begging you to get on with it. Listen, you know all this already. Listen and you will remember and once you do you will not be afraid to live–regardless of your trials. You are on your own here. But keep this in mind, while you must find your own way, men and women who have struggled as you and I struggle, kept records of their struggle. Search them out, not for the answers they came up with, but for the good company of a soul on fire with the desire to live while it could. The fact this is a timed test must not dissuade you from venturing the risk. You'll be dead either way, but this way you'll have done something very few have ever managed: using it up before you lay it down.

* * *

Boom, my brothers and sisters. Boom.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

This Crafting Is

This crafting is part of the process of turning something into a work of art. I think many people today do not realize what it means to be an artist, instead of simply a person who is writing. I mean, there is a craft and an attitude and a willingness to recognize that, unless it is in form, it is not art.

- Joseph Campbell, Reflections on the Art of Living

* * *

This crafting, this honing, this turning, this living is a stripe without end. It never ends. No, it never ends. It never ends. It is before you, behind you: ancient and unborn. You, your thisness, your thingness, your nowness, are to be turned as on a lathe, brought to form, fashioned, hammered, fired, broken and remade. It is in being brought to form that your work becomes your art, your life a work of art.

Refusing to be honed, turned, crafted and worked into the shape, color, tenor, of your possibility is to deny the endless stripe, the endless river, the endless snake, the endless road. Forever outside. Forever hungry. Forever longing. Hell, they say is not a furnace, but the distance you stake yourself from the God you pray to.

This crafting of a life is a process you must submit to in order to discover the endless spark, ignition, fire of the god within you, that has always been part of you - just as it is there if you lift a rock or split a stick. Whether you decide to sacrifice your ease, your sorrows, your confusion, your shallow desires or not is immaterial. The stripe is without end. It never ends. No, it never ends. Only you do and the good you could have done for yourself, your beloveds, your time will have passed on: the omission undetectable.

The loss is yours and no one else's.

Change your life into the life within you and no other. A craft, an attitude, a willingness to engage the materials at hand, submission to the impulse to build, to create, to serve that craft, that attitude, that willingness: the holy fire that burns if you but let it. Get out of your head, get out of your way and take the facts of your life and work them, work with them, use them - they are your raw materials - and build from there. There is a lesson you must learn: you have all you need right now. Always have. Always will. It is a question, a function of accepting the reality you cannot change, and acting from the one you can: your thoughts, your words, your deeds.

And you will be changed.
You will be turned as on a lathe: chisel, clamp and edge.

Unless you are in form, in the form only you can occupy, then your life is wormfood only. But this crafting this honing this turning this living is just for you, a gift you give yourself on the way to your grave. The stripe is ancient and unborn. It never ends. No, it never ends. It never ends. This submission is you submitting to your soul, your body, your anger at it being so, your forgiveness for it being so. Change your life into this life, your life, your honed, hammered, fashioned, builded life.

Death is our common cause. Living must be earned. Tend the fire. Live by it.

All is well if the fire remains: freedom, responsibility - a lifted melody. And that, too, never ends. No, it never ends. It never ends.

* * *



Sunday, June 10, 2012

We Can Only

Abdulrahman Zeitoun/Josef K
We can only do the work, he tells Kathy, and his children, and his crew, his family, anyone he sees. So let us get up early and stay late, and brick by brick and block by block, let us get that work done. If he can picture it, it can be. This has been the pattern of his life: ludicrous dreams followed by hours and days and years of work and then a reality surpassing his wildest hopes and expectations.
   And so why should this be any different?

- Dave Eggers, Zeitoun

* * *

What is the pattern of your life, my friend?

I was talking with my brother the other day and told him I had discovered, at this late date, that my one true ability, my one preternatural gift is the ability to endure, to withstand, to be the last man standing. But that begs this question: to what end? Of what use is this ability unless it is applied to some cause, something other than merely remaining?

What use, indeed.

* * *

For must fucked folk it is easiest to dream, to imagine, to fantasize about how life could be if only... The ludicrous dream is second nature to them, but it is something less than half the equation, no? Unless that dream is wrestled into existence through doing the tedious, day in day out work of applying one's self to that dream, to bringing something into existence that had not been there before, it is better for you not to dream at all. Better to eat, drink, fuck, sleep and die. You will be happier, and then you will be gone.

If you are going to indulge in dreaming you must be willing to work - everyday - on all things.

Brian Eno says beautiful things come out of shit, out of nothing, out of unpromising beginnings and if people could just fully understand that they could live a different kind of life - one made more confident because nothing arrives fully formed. All things are tended, given room and attention and effort. To want beauty is meaningless. To work for it is the source of all beauty. This strikes me as the most wonderful thing I have ever heard.

Your life awaits your effort and will return to you the effort you put in. In spades.

* * *

Work is confused with labor. Your labor is what you are paid for. Your work is who you are. Getting the two to line up must be pretty sweet, but is not essential. What matters is that you do your work everyday. Take the nothing, the shit, the not very promising beginning and work with it everyday and transform it into something else, something new, something that needs to be given away, given to others so they might have more confidence in their lives. This pattern of something from nothing is the core of our existence, is our natural pattern: from a twinkle in your father's eye to a being and then back into the dirt of the cosmos we come from nothing very much and acquire life, purpose, meaning along the way to our graves and in our graves release back to those who knew us the confidence to try again to build something out of nothing.

We are magicians, conjurers, charlatans, true gods of sound and rhyme. Our lives are rhythms of creation. This is the pattern. This is the life we are to live: creating that which had not been before, but could only be because of our hand.

But fucked fuckers everywhere only get so far as the dream. Buddhists call these folk hungry ghosts. They are the zombie apocalypse: they endure, but are dead to the reasons they might live. The only reason there is to live is to build brick by brick the life you would have. There is no success to point to, no end point where you can retire. You can leave your labor, but your work is inside you. You fuck yourself when you try to run from it, when you place it behind your labor, when you dream only.

* * *

I have endured only to tell you this: when you are there, facing the silence of a blank page (whatever your page may be), and you plunge, fall, step, dive into that blankness and emerge with something, something did not exist just a moment before... well, happiness and suffering recede as categories and you are electric and alive - part of a pattern that stretches back beyond time. The price of admission is the doing, not the dreaming.

* * *



Saturday, June 2, 2012

So You Know

via lactea
So you know how things stand. Now forget what they think of you. Be satisfied if you can live the rest of your life, however short, as your nature demands. Focus on that, and don't let anything distract you.

- Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Meditations, Book 8

* * *

Here is what is: there are no answers; there's just settling in with the mystery. That's as good as it gets. Don't let me or anyone else tell you different.

Can you stand before the mystery of consciousness and say you understand it? Can you stand on this wee island in God's Infinite Sea and say you know anything? Can you wake up and truly believe that money, status, material accumulation is a viable substitute for ignoring the mystery of your existence? Can you? 

I hope not.

There is always some huckster with an answer. Some carry Bibles, others carry slide rules, still others push dope of one kind or another (politics, religion, tribalism of one stripe or another) that promises answers to the unanswerable.

Ignore them. Get all Amish on their ass and shun them. They are a distraction from just standing in front of the mystery like standing on a hilltop on a windy day: no questions, no doubts, no answers - but alive, complete, no part left out


* * *

Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

You're just another line in the field of time. Me, too, and yet we busy ourselves with things that are handed to us by others instead of fashioning our own way of living 'til we die. We accept the stories of the various tribes we belong to because in doing so we are accepted, it makes us a club member, we are initiates and we receive in return an identity formed out of the same mold used for generations. It works, though, doesn't it? We are not known by who we are but by what we do for money, the part of the nation we come from, the amount of money our parents had, the schools we attended, the god we pray is there. 

But what if you chose instead of accepting? what if you lived the rest of your life, however short, as your nature demands? on a hilltop, no part left out?

Dude, you can.
Dude, you must.

The mystery of human consciousness, it's purpose, it's meaning, it's potential is the heartroot deep of your days. It has always been so. It will always be so. The brothers and sisters who builded themselves altars to worship the cave bear in Chauvet, who painted their world on the walls of those caves are the same as you, except you have technology and a longer lifespan, and they had the willingness to stand in front of the mystery and be part of it.

* * *

I cannot believe in religion. I refuse it. Each takes a stab at ordering life and creates bureaucracies of belief instead. I cannot believe in politics. I refuse it. Every movement is corrupted with the first adherent and reduces itself to tribalism. Instead, I have come to believe only in me, just Yoko and me. 

Like you, I am a fucked fucker from way back. I am a deeply flawed man. All that I used to know has proved meaningless in the shitstorm I've kicked up as I've made my way to this windy hill. It's not that the words and deeds were without merit, just that the ends I was aiming for proved to be mirages. The more concrete something is, the more likely it is simply ossified thought, a long forgotten temporary solution that outlived its moment and became institutionalized - like marriage, like banking, like a glow-in-the-dark dashboard Jesus.

What is your nature unencumbered by others' expectations?

Do that. 
Be that. 
Enjoy that. 
Anyone who doesn't get it can fuck themselves. 

And here is what is: the vast majority of the people walking this earth are oblivious, or in so much pain they can't see or trust the mystery. They want answers and the only answers we, as a species, have been able to come up with wind up reducing the math, in one way or another, to us versus them. It is the very thing that fucks us, keeps us stuck until we take on the responsibility to chose to stand in front of and be part of the unfathomable and unlikely mystery of life on this whore of an island in God's Sea.

Find the wind. 
Let nothing distract you. 
Enjoy your makings, for who shall bring you to see what comes after?
Your portion is now. 

* * *



Sunday, May 27, 2012

Running Through The

Running through the graveyard
We laughed my friends and I
We swore we'd be together
Until the day we died
Until the day we died

- Tom Waits, "Innocent When You Dream" 

* * *

It feels like something is arriving, some new thing is on its way, but that's not right at all. Now that I think about it, there's nothing new headed my way, but rather something very old and I am simply new to it. I don't have hold of it yet. It is a bead of mercury in the sink, or the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, or a song by Tom Waits. It is miraculously old and it is present, always emerging, always ready to emerge from its debasement.

* * *

We live in a graveyard. Our lives are simply the thing before we are humus, soil, earth - stable. And what do we do with this moment above ground, before we become ground, before we are ground down into the ground? We whistle through the graveyard pretending it does not exist. How else to explain the strife, the horrors we inflict on ourselves, on others through our misplaced sense of self - either too grand, or too puny? We are buggers for misunderstanding the brevity of our transit. Our lives, your life, my life, the one life in our hands, is scarce, infinitesimally so. But it is also everything: the sum of our capacity to imagine.

And what have you been imagining for yourself?

The speed with which all of them vanish–the objects in the world, and the memory of them in time.

You and I will not last very long. Memories of our lives will fade within a generation, or simply be a name added to a family tree in two generations hence. And so it is. It is so. But so what, my dear fucked friend? So what. You live now, the endlessly emerging present and the question before you is not about what others will remember about you after you are gone, but what will you do with this one moment - the only one you'll ever have?

Here's an answer: Run through the graveyard and laugh with your friends. Swear you'll be together until the day you die.

* * *

The boneyard is always open and is always taking in new customers: in Guatemala in 1982 government troops killed every man woman and child in the village of Dos Erres - they bludgeoned them with sledgehammers and threw them down a well, filling it with bodies; in Syria just the other day troops slaughtered over 100 villagers - over thirty of them children; in nursing homes across the land the forgotten fade out every day; Rwanda, Armenia, the genocide of the North American people, the Holocaust, the man-made famines in Ukraine, Somalia, the Khmer Rouge, Sherman's march to the sea, beheadings in Ciudad Juarez... if we did not decay there'd be no room for the dead, and this is how it has always been.  It is how it will always be.

There is nothing new under the sun.

When the pablum pushers tell you that wishing will make it so ask them about Dos Erres, ask them about wishes snuffed out by cruelty. Their only answer is to blame the victim - they didn't wish hard enough.

Here is what I wish for you: friends that you can run with for as long as you can run.

No one person can stem the tide of our tribal blood lusts - be it at the point of spear, the end of a gun, or atop a political movement. It can't be done. The wheels have always been falling off because those who lead are expressly the ones who must not. Pride, faith, certainty and vanity pave the way to hell, not good intentions.

So run through this graveyard with your friends.
Pledge your troth to one another.
Make promises out of love and fidelity.
Caretake this moment - it is all you'll ever have.

Man's greatness does not abide in societal change, in new technologies, but in how a single individual manages to live a life of purpose and meaning in spite of and in the face of every sweeping change beyond his or her ability to control or influence. What you are left with is you and the choices you make. You can do nothing about the chaos that surrounds you, but you can reduce to perfect order your response to it.

* * *

It's such a sad old feeling
The fields are soft and green
It's memories that I'm stealing
But you're innocent when you dream
When you dream
You're innocent when you dream.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Here Is What

Here is what is
Here is what is
Spiral on down to your sweet heart

Here is what is
Here is what is
Don't you go walking too long in the dark

- Daniel Lanois, Here Is What Is

* * *

Here is what is: you live and from here all things are possible.
Here is what is: your blood is your ink - tell your story.
Here is what is: you'll find your way when you let go of worrying about finding your way.
Here is what is: passion is the cure.
Here is what is: indulging your fears diminishes your life and everything you touch.
Here is what is: love is the only thing that endures - it is our genius.
Here is what is: you will get lost and that is how you get found.
Here is what is: I know it hurts sometimes, but don't you go walking too long in the dark.
Here is what is: if the road is marked it is not your road.
Here is what is: you are here to teach by example only.
Here is what is: you are free - you always have been - to choose.
Here is what is: whatever you have to give you have to give.
Here is what is: happiness and peace are the by-products of commitment.
Here is what is: the best idea untried is cowardice.
Here is what is: freedom and responsibility are the same thing.
Here is what is: you know all this but you learned doubt - now unlearn it.

* * *

Here is what is, you need to stop fighting the wrong fights and figure this shit out for yourself. There's nothing for it, Bub, but for you take up the cause of your life and live the goddamn thing into the ground.

Quit thinking you have to have the whole thing figured out before you get to it. The whole point is to figure it out while it is happening. Seeds, baby, are small, small things, but in the right place with the right attention they insist upon themselves and become other, remarkably other. That's something from nothing. You are something from nothing. Quit waiting. It's all already here. The only thing that's been missing is you.

* * *

A few years ago I met and fell in love with a remarkable woman. We were great. And then we weren't. A seam busted and it all unraveled. The sense of loss was staggering to me. Divorce was a walk in the park - I was leaving behind unhappiness, but this, this was far worse. I was losing greatness, happiness, fire.


No one wants to be on the outside looking in. Yet, that was where I was and the question before me was the same then as it is today: now what? Life is always ready with the questions, the uneasy questions, the hard questions of letting go and getting on with it. You can postpone answering the question for as long as you like, but eventually you must answer it. Now what?

For too long I did nothing. I waited for the world to turn a few degrees. I stood still, stayed in place so she'd know where to find me and in so doing I lost all the momentum I'd earned rocketing out of the divorce, lost all of the mojomentum that brought me to her in the first place. I doubted the gift. I doubted myself and right there buddy-boy I fucked myself right hard and not only did the affair unspool, but so did I.

Fuck. This again? Fuck.

But life still wants its answer: now what?

So I let go. Not the love, not the greatness. That is warp and woof to me, but the rest could go. The good that came to me, is still good to me and that fuels a fire that cannot be extinguished. Not now. Not ever. It is the fire that lights us all up, generation after generation, if only we'd see.

* * *

Don't you go walking too long in the dark. There's nothing there but more darkness.

* * *

Boom. Boom. Boom.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

In Lissagaray's History

In Lissagary's History of the Commune there is an interesting passage describing the shootings that took place after the Commune had been suppressed. The authorities were shooting the ringleaders, and as they did not know who the ringleaders were, they were picking them out on the principle that those of better class would be the ringleaders. An officer walked down a line of prisoners, picking out likely-looking types. One man was shot because he was wearing a watch, another because he "had an intelligent face." I should not like to be shot for having an intelligent face, but I do agree that in almost any revolt the leaders tend to be people who could pronounce their aitches.

- George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier

* * *

I have been away. I have been working. I have been driving long stretches at the start and end of my work day, and while I try to fill that time with music loud enough to not hear my brakes squeal, I cannot fill that time with music loud enough to not think. I think about you, my fucked friend. I think about this page. I think I am still a fucked fucker. I think about all the work that remains and the disturbing tremor that moves my left hand without volition and I think, "Fuck it. Time to use all this powder I've been keeping dry."

Today, we shift our conversation. Today, we, you and I, start out from this turf, this sod, this ground littered and festooned with poetry and song and words and images and examples and exhortations and feet up the ass and prayers and keens and ablutions and talismans and faith and will and dreams and un-made plans to wrestle the angel of our higher self until he blesses us, until we wring from him the acts and deeds and doings that are ours to do. 

The time is now. It always has been.

* * *

In the book For the Time Being, Annie Dillard eviscerates the idea that we, of this time and place, are THE generation, THE people of destiny. She writes: Is it not late? A late time to be living? Are not our generations the crucial ones? For we have changed the world. Are not our heightened times the important ones? For we have nuclear bombs. Are we not especially significant because our century is? - our century and its unique Holocaust, its refugee populations, its serial totalitarian exterminations; our century and its antibiotics, silicon chips, men on the moon, and spliced genes? No, we are not and it is not. These times of ours are ordinary times, a slice of life like any other. Who can bear to hear this, or who will consider it?...  Why are we watching the news, reading the news, keeping up with the news? Only to enforce our fancy - probably a necessary lie - that these are crucial times, and we are in on them. Newly revealed, and we are in the know: crazy people, bunches of them. New diseases, shifts in power, floods! Can the news from dynastic Egypt have been any different?”

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

All is vanity. 

* * *

At the top of this post, in the passage from Orwell, there is a magnificent clue, a big-assed bread crumb on the trail of unfucking your life. Actually, there are several, but for now the one I want to look at is Lissagary's History of the Commune. Do you know it? I didn't until George recommended it. Seems back in 1871 the working class of Paris took control of the city for two months. It is cited as the first worker's government. Karl Marx was a big fan. The original Occupy movement. Do you know what these radicals did in their brief time? They decreed a separation of church and state, granted pensions to unmarried companions and children of National Guard troops killed in service, recognized the rights of business owners, forgave the debt of workers who pawned their tools in order to eat, and abolished interest on commercial debt. The rogues. An enterprise like that must be crushed, and it was. Estimates vary, but somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 to 50,000 French citizens (women and children included) were slaughtered in the process of restoring "stability."

Did you know such a thing happened in the City of Light? I didn't.

Who were they? What were their names? Why did they rise up? Why were they crushed? Why care at this far remove? Surely, those who loved the murdered are dead over and over. Surely, those who loved the murderers are as dead as Jacob Marley's doornail.  This is a historical footnote. A blip of extravagant bloodshed dimmed by time. Dead for wearing a watch. Dead for the sort of face deemed intelligent. Dead for money. Dead for an idea, but pushing up daisies nonetheless.

Our times are as profane as any other. The Parisian dead from the Spring of 1871 are the same as Cambodian dead of the 1970's (the Khmer Rouge started in Paris!). The large story never changes. It never changes, just new faces on old stories.

So all that remains is for you to be changed. All that remains is for you to change from a spectator, a consumer of others' actions, into a participant. You have to enter the stream. This is how you unfuck your life: you live it at the risk of dying from it.

Which is no risk at all, but a guarantee. And believe it or not, that's the best news possible. It frees you from ever worrying about it again.

* * *

Who are you, my friend? Who are you? What have you got to show for yourself? What did you do with your time? My pal, George Orwell, his given name was Eric Blair, wrote his motherfucking ass off because he was enraged by injustice - the old story that never changes - and he died at 47. He also fought against Franco, stood with the impoverished miners of Wigan Pier, and chronicled man's inhumanity with a powerful control of language and empathy thereby setting a stone of humanity against totalitarianism. In his day it was Fascism and Nazism and Stalinism. Do we not live in the same time only with new names: Conformity, Commercialism, Corporate-ism?

Do not be idle. There is nothing new under the sun. That which has been will be again. The stories never change, just the names of those willing to stand and give what they have to give: their work, their name, their sweat, their minds, their lives. This is not futile. This is the doorway to your greatness. Go. See how far you can get. Defy the inertia that attends every age.  And most important, forgive those who don't understand, who don't want you to go, who would crush you like a French workman in May of 1871. Forgive them. They know not what they do. 

But you do.

No doubt it is an exile who speaks, who knows no better plea for the vanquished than the simple and sincere recital of their history.

* * *

Pronounce your aitches loud and clear.

* * *



Monday, April 30, 2012

Poetry Requires Difference

Dante and his Comedy between heaven and hell.
Poetry requires difference by its nature. If poetry makes itself out of ordinary boring imprecise language (as much published poetry does), it is mediocre or bad poetry. Poetry to be beautiful must separate itself from the ordinary –– by extravagance, by purity, by precision, by original vision or imagination.

- Donald Hall, Their Ancient Glittering Eyes

* * *

If it is true for poetry (and it is true), then how can it not be so in life?

* * *

"I read poetry all the time. It's where I get the news." So said an old friend almost 20 years ago. When she said it I knew she was right. That is, if the news you seek is about something other than current events. Poetry aims elsewhere. It can take the quotidian and fashion something eternal, or it can take those fleetingly current events and freeze time. Poetry aims elsewhere - outside of time. It is a stake stuck in the ground insisting that this not be washed away in the endless waters of time; it insists on its voice, it's prerogatives, it's one clear moment of understanding carved out of nothing but thought and cadence. 

Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths—and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.
 Poetry aims elsewhere, and for once, then, something emerges and that makes all the difference.

* * *

What is being fucked other than always being wrong to the light? If you think poetry is about lilies of the field and weepy love, then you have only been reading Hall's mediocre or bad poetry. If you think your life is supposed to be a jaunt through high meadows in full flower, then you are living a mediocre and bad life. Life, if you would live it awake, requires difference by its nature. If your life is fucked it is because you have been imprecise or have not insisted upon your vision. You have failed to be extravagant in the living of your life. 

What hems you in? What whispers in your ear and says, "That's too much to hope for?"

If you are to unfuck what's been fucked you must, by purity of vision, by exactitude, take what is ordinary - being alive - and transform it into eternity. All within the bounds of your rotting body. This is what makes man great. This is what makes life, unfair in its premise, worth wrestling with, worth shaping, worth carving, worth meeting and insisting that this moment not be lost, this moment not be a formless blip, but instead be something.

It does not matter what you aspire to. Aspire.
It does not matter if you care about poetry. You are a poem.
It does not matter how long that stake you pound into the ground lasts. The good it can do for you is while you are alive and if you have been precise, if your vision is purely your own, if you have loved your life extravagantly, then there will be good left behind when you leave: others you have touched who find in your example the courage to look beyond the surface reflecting back their own image and aim elsewhere.

* * *


Friday, April 27, 2012

Well Maybe We've

Well maybe we've all got our missions
and they're doled out like seeds into the ground.

- Lia Ices, "You Will"

* * *

It's like this: the challenge you and me face is to see. Clearly. Without clouded, maudlin, woeisme eyes. We all got trouble, brother. We all got trouble, sister, and that is the least of it. Tell me something new. Tell me what you see. Tell me what you see that trouble cannot destroy. Tell me what you see in the midst of trouble, through the trouble, in spite of the trouble, because of the trouble, beyond your troubles.

We all got trouble, brother.
We all got trouble, sister.

Now, tell me what you see.

* * *

I drive a long way to work. It is a country road drive past mansions and shacks and farms, through small towns and great tilled fields and great fallow fields, and I am sometimes slowed by tractors and tillers using the road to get from one parcel of land to the next. There are fewer people along this route than other routes I could take, and I like the lack of density and I drive and drive and sail along. The drive takes over an hour and I listen to music, the digital equivalent of the mix-tapes I made in high school, to settle my mind, to transition from the guy who wakes early to write his way out of trouble, to the guy who works to buy his way out of trouble. It all ends too soon: the writing the ride the music the quiet that settles me the sense of calling duty mission I have with the writing the ride the music.

And I see lives I'll never know. Lives lived in a manner I'll never know. I wonder about who lives in that ridiculous McMansion with too many horses on too little land. I wonder about the lives lived so that hulks of non-working cars and boats and trucks populate the yard and a brand new swing set shines in the middle of that junk. I wonder about the people in the cars going in the opposite direction, in the cars that turn off, in the cars I pass. I think about their dreams. I wonder what they are like. On this sparsely traveled road past and through towns with less than 500 people I think there are too many people for us all to find meaning, for us all to find our way. Some of us are always going to be lost. Some are always going to be fucked and the guy with the horses is no better off than the guy with the rusted out cars. Same with the guy driving my car.

Who am I to think I get a pass, or that because I write and still make mix-tapes to soothe my mind, to woo women, to listen for something that is recognizable in me that the guy in the car that just passed me isn't thinking, "Better him than me."

And that is just a trick bag of fear, as if there is a finite amount of meaning or happiness or purpose in the world. Yes, there are too many of us, too many who are living pig-fucked lives of fear and ignorance and hatred and intolerance and just fucking giving up because it is hard to see beyond the trouble, to live alongside trouble, in the midst of it. Too fucking hard.

But maybe we've all got our missions and they're doled out like seeds into the ground.

It takes a measure of faith to believe in the work of seeds. All the work is done out of sight, underground, in utero, and then...


* * *

The seed doesn't need you. It is you who needs the seed.


Monday, April 23, 2012

I Do What

I do what is mine to do; the rest doesn't disturb me. The rest is inanimate, or has no logos or it wanders at random and has lost the road.

- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 6, 22.

* * *

Last night, I started reading a copy of Calvino's Invisible Cities that I'd bought second hand some time a go and had never gotten around to (I sold my original copy years ago with most of my library to raise some money. I sometimes think I'll run into one or two of them again as I go about re-building what I'd decimated.) On the inside of the back cover, written in a forceful hand in blue ink I found this:

I am broken at last – not by anyone but me. Broken and free at last to do the living on my terms: not by circumstance or anyone else's opinion on how I should live.

There was no other note written in the book, no marginalia about Marco Polo and the Great Khan, or the fact that all the cities in Calvino's book are all given women's names. Nothing but this stark statement about being broken and free.

It reminded me of Aurelius. (Most things do.)

* * *

I wondered about the anonymous note writer. He, the handwriting is decidedly male, found it necessary to write this note, to place it on a piece of paper, on, perhaps, the nearest thing he could write on - the urgency of it still visible in the indentation his writing made on the soft, thin paper stock of the cover. Why would he need to write it down? If his statement was true, surely he would remember it without the aid of a note written on the inside of a paperback book. Did he write the note there and leave it at that, or did he re-write it elsewhere, expand on it. He was reading Calvino, so words meant something to him. But more than these questions (I, too, will write on anything at hand and often fill the books I'm reading with notes and story starts and exclamations such this) was the shock of recognition.

The dude was writing about me.
He was writing about you, too.

If you are diligent, or lucky, if you persevere to the point destruction, if you have been held captive by other's plans, by your own fears, if you have covered your body in the wounds you have received along the way - their scarring thick and heavy, if you have allowed the authority for your life to drift from your hands in the name of making money, or accepting an offer of love in exchange for your acquiescence, if you have become proud of the limits you've imposed on yourself the most valuable thing that can happen to you is to be broken.

Not like a horse, but a vase.

Whatever shape you've contorted your life into through fear, through false pride, through false suffering, through indecision, through the inability to choose this over that, it is not the shape you would have given yourself, but instead is the one you fashioned out other's expectations - their fears, their inability to cope with life, their ignorance abut what life is for.

Listen, listen, life is not for making money, or even falling in love, nor is it to find Jesus or Buddha or Ganesha. Life is to be experienced as you are. The privilege of a lifetime is to live it.

And if you've been fucked, you need to have that shit broken.

* * *

I do what is mine to do. Your purpose in this world is to discover your work and then with your whole heart give yourself over to it. This is the gift you give others: a soul engaged.

The rest doesn't disturb me. You will either encounter other's fully engaged in living and so receive their gifts, or you will find the blind, the stumbling, the fucked. Either way you cannot live their lives for them. Let go of trying to do so. Live. Your example will be enough for anyone else chooses to see.

The rest is inanimate, or has no logos or it wanders at random and has lost the road. Logos is meaning and lives can be lived without meaning, without purpose. It wanders at random and has lost the road. This you know too well. Don't waste your time yelling at the deaf. Don't waste your breath. Don't waste your heart. Don't blister your heels running in the dark. If it is dead, it beyond reach and the living are sometime more dead than a corpse.

I am broken at last - not by anyone but me. Being broken by circumstance is being fucked. Being broken, at last, by your own hand is freedom from the past. When there is no pride left in being fucked, you are free to experience your life: broken and free at last to do the living on your own terms.

* * *

One last thing. Do not mistake what I say as an excuse to be self-indulgent, self-important, to ignore others (I'm not ignoring you, right?). When you get to the point where you have been broken, where you have discovered your work - regardless of your circumstance - and you have given yourself over to that work, immersed yourself in it, the product of that effort is always facing outward. Your inward work becomes an outward expression and that and that and that is the gift of knowing your name.

One more last thing: the metaphor of being broken is just that: a metaphor. You, the essential you is not broken. You are fine. What needs shattering is the shell of other's expectations and opinions that have closed you off from your life. Break that and you'll see you are unbroken.

* * *


Monday, April 16, 2012

Well You Go

Well, you go through the drama 
and you work in the dharma
Then you stand up, 
stand up and wipe, wipe the mirror clean
And she go steppin' out queen, 
steppin' out, steppin' out, steppin' out, steppin' out

- Van Morrison, Steppin' Out Queen

* * *

You are making this more complicated than it needs to be. The mind expects grand, profound solutions to the existential drama that is a fucked life. But honestly, that's just your ego running ahead of you announcing your profundity. It is one of the things that keeps you fucked, my profound, deep-feeling friend. You can go a long time down that road. It is masochistically soothing to hurt all the time: at least you are feeling something and you can offer up that hurt, that suffering, that confusion to some belief you think is higher, grander, more profound than you.

Right on.
Been there.
It sucks.

That would be the drama Mr. Morrison is writing about.

It is dramatic to feel it all, to feel you can feel it all. It is feel-y. It is also feeble. The easiest path to follow is the one worn smooth with mea-culpas, self-blame and self-importance. None of this is honest. It is false suffering, useless, self-serving, ego-stroking suffering. "Hey, everybody, look at me! Look how much I feel!"

You feel me?

Like I said, you can camp out there for a long time, but sometimes it happens that you get sick of it, of your dis-honesty and you venture off that path. You decide it is time to get to work - on yourself, on living, on believing in something other than the hurt this world can put on you.

You enter the Law, the Universal Law that girds our phenomenological experience: Mr. Morrison's dharma. Call it religion, call it duty, call it teachings, call it ground-floor, call it anything you like. It doesn't matter. Dharma is and what you call it is meaningless to the dharma. But not to you. The dharma is where you live, where you breathe, where you build, pray, act. And when you enter it, you believe, you believe, you believe, you believe.

Right on.
Been there.
It's beautiful.

Spend the rest of your days working in the dharma and you will be happy, at peace, content to know your place, your work and you will rest in an easy bed. Promise. And here's the thing, you can't help but work in the dharma. Like I said, dharma is.

But sometimes it happens that your life is still fucked. Things are out of step, even just a bit, and it gnaws and troubles you. "What gives?," you think. What the fuck? Right?

Try this on:  the Buddha said if you meet the Buddha on the road you must kill him.

You feel me?

It is up to you to learn how to live your life. Anything handed to you, will, by definition, be less than what you need. The missing element is your choice, your discernment, your surrender, your active participation in walking the hard road down.

So you stand up and wipe the mirror clean. And if you've been listening to me and Van, you go steppin' out, steppin' out, steppin' out, steppin' out, steppin' out, steppin' out.

* * *

You are here for a short time. You might as well make it a good time. What that looks like on you, only you can answer. And here's the news: that is the best news possible.

* * *



Thursday, April 12, 2012

I Will Hold

I will hold this love against God,
eternal damnation, anything.
That is true love.

- Joseph Campbell

* * *

There is a story, a hidden story, a forgotten story that I have always loved (is it not the unearthed story that tells all the truths? What you can say out loud is only that which you care to be judged by). It goes something like this:

Back in the day, long before there were men, there were only angels. They hummed and vibrated a radiant light of pure love as they surrounded and exalted God. God said to them, "You'll put no other before me." And they did not. Into this light God brought them a gift: man. God said to his angels, "Bow before my creation." And they did. Except for one. Lucifer. He said to God, "I love you. How can I bow before man? It is to you I pledge my love. There is no other. Only you." God will not suffer disobedience and casts Lucifer from the humming, vibrating bright light of love, damning him for eternity for his insolence. Lucifer bears up this pall because his love of God is greater than God's blindness.

The End.

* * *

Here, let me say it to you plainly: in order to unfuck your life, you must love someone, something beyond yourself, something you are willing into suffer for, but more than that - something you are willing to live for.

It is easy to call it a day and say it is beyond your ability to change what has become of your life. And to a point, that is true. You cannot change what has occurred, what is occurring. You can only change how you process it, how you react to it, how you incorporate it into your life.

What is your Promethean liver? What are you suffering for, what is it that has you chained to a rock? Can you name it? I've been able to name mine for a while now, but something was missing, something kept me chained. I thought once I could identify it, name it, call it out, I could vanquish it. But it is not so with me.

Let me tell you what I was missing. Maybe it is what you are missing as well: love. A fierce love of life, of someone, of something other than me and my suffering. I found I could bear much, but without a love beyond my suffering, beyond my trials, I was forever bound to those trials. I could not be free. There are chains we wear because they are foisted upon us, and there are chains we build for ourselves. There are times, maybe the length of your lifetime, that you cannot be free of your outward circumstances. I doubt I'll be free of mine, yet I have a choice as to whether or not those circumstances are the sum total of my life. On bad days, on fucked days, it is so.

Freedom arrives with a fierce love, a love you are willing to hold against God, eternal damnation, anything, because through this love you are free of such things as God and eternal damnation and anything else. You are timeless. This is what frees you. Reject the parameters handed to you, told to you, imposed on you. Choose to live for something beyond those strictures.

The rest can go fuck themselves.

* * *

Lucifer is not evil. He is a spurned lover trying to find his way home.

The quote from Campbell is about Lancelot's inability to see the Grail. It was forbidden to him because of his love of Guinevere. But he and Guinevere knew something the Grail boys did not: a love that could be held against God.

Bear up your pall with love, fierce love and it ceases to be a pall.
Bear up your pall with love and you are free and someday they'll write stories about you, hidden stories, stories to be unearthed and finally spoken aloud - regardless of how it is judged.

* * *

Boom, motherfucker. Boom


Saturday, April 7, 2012

I Need You

Ices (Isis)
I need you wild 
(Is this what we're living for, 
to be known and a little more?)

- Lia Ices, "Grown Unknown"

* * *

There are questions we never ask, desires untold, and they, and they, and they more than the things we say and do are our true selves. This was our pulse. Our desire. Our own force through the green fuse that lights the flower, that we extinguish, that we exchange for a place in line, a place at the table, a place we promise is where we'll make the stand we've refused to take to date.

Is this what we're living for?

Here's some unshakeable news: the universe is 13.72 billion years old. Human-ish beings have been scraping their knuckles on the ground since about 200,000 years ago and then 50,000 years ago they started thinking, creating, believing. Team Man.

Our puniness is breathtaking.

Into an ancient void we spring up like a weed: self-important, certain, fearing, never looking at how unlikely we are. To stem the tide of collective nausea that comes with such distances, such vistas of time, we have used our creative capacities to organize systems of belief that answer or refute 13.72 billion years of a history we cannot imagine.

And yet we are here. Puny, no doubt, but here anyway.

Into this unlikely circumstance we have poured our energies into what? commerce? war? fear? conformity? a circling of the wagons against the depth of space? vacuity? sleep?

I need you wild.

* * *

I cannot tell you if God exists in the canyons of time.
I can only tell you what I know: we are here anyway and we fill our days with utterly useless, constricted, fearborn doings. We refuse our own impulse in exchange for such paltry rewards that it embarrasses the soul to be bought so cheap.

Is this what we're living for?

Tell me no. I need to know that the answer is no.

14 billion years, give or take a few hundred million, is a long time. We get around 80 if all goes well. Tell me again why you want to spend a single breath with anything less than what makes you wild, makes you the unique, ridiculously small, unlikely and the only you there will ever be. Tell me about those questions you never asked, those desires you rejected for something else, for someone else's desires. Is your life fucked? Tell me no. I need to know the answer is no, not ever again, not now, not while there's a breath left on your lips. Tell me you know yourself, no part left out. Then, then, then only then is there any hope for you to know me.

This is what religion and slow dancing and songs and the invention of love and Sunday mornings sleeping in and the hour before dawn and sacrifice and desire and tenderness and forgiveness and the sweetsweet words "Run into my arms" and handmade gifts and dinners cooked late at night and poetry and fireplaces and pillow talk and children and talismans and healing wells and transformation is for: to be known and a little more in the canyons of time.

It's our only defense.

I need you wild. I need to be wild. The rules we've been handed are there to trade one fear for another: the void of time for the void of more immediate hatreds and fears. These we know how to handle: barbarians, others, tribes unlike our own.

But I need you wild.
You need to be wild.
14 billions years won't die, but you will.
Tell me again what you're living for?

There is nothing higher for us than to be known and a little more.

Be wild.

* * *


Friday, March 30, 2012

I Open My

How it works.
I open my heart to myself like a sort of vitrine, and examine one by one all those love affairs of which the world can know nothing.

- Marcel Proust, Cities of the Plain

* * *

At the same time, I find this sentence to be among the saddest and most liberating words I have ever encountered. Since I could not write them, I am glad to have read them. They are as much a part of me as any I have written.

Such miracles.

* * *

There is a moment, a teetering moment, when you realize that all you have experienced, all you have known, all you have desired, feared, loved, hated is not that big a deal to anyone but you. The wounds you've tended and kept open only spilled your blood, no one else's; the unrequited love you've worked to maintain has only stopped you from finding love returned in kind; the hatreds have only poisoned your spirit; the joys extend no further than your arms. It is a swooning precipice to realize your brief history will be known only to you–small fragments and shards of your story embedded in those closest to you, but, finally, the story is only yours. The world can know nothing of the omissions and priorities that became your life, bit by bit. Like I said, it is a teetering moment to have your hubris, your benign hubris, your blind hubris, your absent-minded hubris, fall from your shoulders like a robe. Naked you are, with only you to see.

Such miracles, such private miracles.

I have fucked up plenty good big time in my time. I have misunderstood. I have been too proud, too aloof, too arrogant. It's what fucked looks like on me, but here's the thing: that's just the broad outline of my story. No matter how much I write, no matter how many words spill onto a page, no matter if I write as Proust did, trying to regain time, memory, place–I will fail. My works are approximations, facsimiles, sketches. The experience cannot be repeated or told. It is known and knowable only to me.

And this has nothing to do with being a writer.

I dreamt this dream only once:

I stood at a canyon's edge at dusk. I was dressed in a white linen suit. Into the silence comes a battered pick up truck filled with junk. The truck backs up to the edge of the canyon, the red tail lights glowing in the falling darkness. Out of the truck step another version of me: filthy, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. The well-dressed me watched the dirtier version climb up on the pile of junk and start heaving it down into the canyon as if trying to fill it. The well-dressed me looks over the edge and sees a pile of junk and garbage on the canyon floor. The pile is very small and the canyon fills the horizon. The well-dressed me thinks the guy on the truck is a fool for trying. The dirty, working me thinks the guy in the suit is a fool for not trying.

* * *

Your life is a gift to you. The things you populate your life with are the gifts you give to yourself; even if you are unaware of it, it is still so. Only you will know what it was to experience your life, how the things common to us all filtered into your consciousness: the tentative kiss of a new love, the lifeless kiss of neglected love, the sight of a large body of water at dawn, the taste of lemons, how walnuts make the tongue raw, the sight of your own blood, the embarrassment of not getting a joke, writing with your opposite hand, the terror of falling in a dream, the sting of blisters opening, the loyalty of a dog, deciding how you like your coffee, or if you like it all...

Each thing in your life, each emotion, each choice, each experience is a type of love affair you have had with living. It is impossible for any one to know how another experienced such things, at least not fully. That is life's gift to you: the chance to experience it. If you have fucked it up, if you have shit on it, if you have neglected or given up on it, well, only you will suffer it, and only you can redeem it. If you don't, no one will notice. No one will care. Perhaps, a few closest to you will hurt for you, but the pulse of life will not notice a man or woman who quit. There are so many others still willing to risk it.

Such miracles.

* * *

I open my heart to myself like a sort of vitrine, and examine one by one all those love affairs of which the world can know nothing. And of this collection to which I'm now much more attached than to my others, I say to myself, rather as Mazarin said of his books, but in fact with the least distress, that it will be very tiresome to have to leave it all.

* * *

Boom, my love. Boom.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Humility If It

The doctor and his soul
Humility, if it is genuine, is certainly as much a sign of inner strength as courage.

- Viktor Frankl, The Doctor and The Soul

* * *

Let me just say this: Viktor Frankl climbed mountains until he was in his eighties when poor eyesight, not a lack of strength nor will, stopped him. The only time he was off the mountain was when the Nazi's first outlawed climbing for Jews, and then his years in the camps. He lived to be 92 and here's the thing, here's the most important thing about Frankl: he used all that time to live fully engaged with his life–the horrible, the tragic, the soul-searing, the joyous, the exhilarating, the work-a-day. He used it all to create his life.

This requires great courage, great inner-strength, great faith, but mostly it requires the humility to do all of that and understand it is simply the task of life to find that strength, to build out of the rubble and detritus of circumstance a life worth living. No big damn thing. Just what we're here to do. It only seems big because we fail to treat our lives as creative acts of consciousness and instead default to living as consumers of other people's lives and doings.

You were made for more than this.

Snap out of it.

* * *

But like my friend, Lou Reed, said, "You can't be Shakespeare and you can't be Joyce. You're stuck with yourself instead."

Right on.

Wanting to be, trying to be something, someone other than yourself is what fucks you in the first place. Let it go. Let it all go, bro. Nothing good is waiting for you at the end of that line. It is simply time, right now, to work with your own shit instead of mucking around in the ashes of what others have done. You have to call on inner capacities you may not believe in, but here's the news: when you genuinely reach out for those strengths, when you act out of the deepest well of your own sense of being, that strength will arrive, that courage will be present and while your outward circumstance may not change, you will be changed. And that is enough. That is everything. And that, overtime, will change the world around you because you will be moving through it with eyes wide open: present, engaged, all hubris stripped away.

You can't be that person, that person who has reached out for the inner strength to live and still be an asshole. Humility is the mark of those who have passed through the fire, the fire of their fears and angers and seen them for what they are: chains. Never will you judge another harshly because you once wore the chains they embrace. Never will you laud the contents of your life over another because that is a betrayal of spirit. Never will you doubt your own strength with showy displays, but instead will sleep easy in the company of it.

Humility, more than anything else, is how you unfuck your life, boy-o.

You want to know how you can tell genuine humility from the maudlin, self-serving, sanctimonious kind? Easy. Genuine humility never speaks of it self, needs no outward justification or reinforcement. It is the product of inner capacities and is satisfied in and of itself.

* * *

I'll leave you in peace with this:

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

Not everyone can do it, but you can. You just have to choose.

* * *