God And The Coronavirus

You’ve been asking for it, so I’m going to give it to you.  Call it Karma, universal reciprocity, poetic justice, what goes around comes around———So, here ya go sucker; you ought to have been more careful with what you asked for, because now you’re getting it! So much, for your dime store prayers.

Look at what you’ve done to one another. You’ve let your anger, hatred and bad intentions rule your actions. You’re extremely adept at finding reasons to justify hurting, wounding, maiming and killing one another.  I don’t know if it’s your anger, fear or ignorance that’s made you become so unkind and dispassionate towards one another. Deep down in your psyche you despise those different than you. You’ve turned your world into an “us against them proposition”——simplifying everything down to the self righteous creed, “We’re right—–you’re wrong”. When others think, look, act or believe in things different than you, then you are against them. You’ve defined those from a different country than yours as being “aliens”. Even though it’s just an arbitrary line drawn on a map separating “you” from “them”. You declare, “This is our country not your’s!” If someone worships a different god than you, then you call them a heathen. You define those that speak a different language, or march beneath a different flag, or have a different color skin as being inferior. You demand that they subjugate to your superiority. So much for wars and your prayers for victory over others.

You’re an ungrateful bunch of hooligans. You’ve fouled the air and polluted the oceans, turning your beautiful blue planet into a dying cesspool.  The animals I’d given you dominion over you’ve abused and mistreated. It’s no wonder you’ve been evicted from the garden of Eden.   So much, for your stewardship over nature.  

I’ve watched you drop bombs on each other, gas one another, incinerate one another, slaughter one another, kill each other in senseless and endless wars. In the streets you’ve robbed, raped, beat, shot, strangled, kidnapped and murdered one another. When I created you I had such great hopes for your kind. But your god has become greed, addiction, lust, jealousy, fear, hate, anger, power, materialism, self righteousness and self centeredness. And so much, for breaking my heart.

Turn on your big screen TV’s and watch the the 24 hour news cycle as a pretty newscaster blandly reports that days dose of carnage and cruel brutality. When will it ever end?  Insanity has become normalcy. Violence has replaced civility. Power has been substituted for empathy. Complacency and apathy has replaced compassion. Turn your fucking TV off, stop the madness, it’s poisoning your soul.

As I originally said, you’ve been asking for it, so as your creator I’m giving it to you. I’m bestowing upon your crazy ass race of people the Corona Virus. You’ve chosen to put wedges between one another, so I’ll make where you can no longer touch one another without fear of dying. You’ll no longer be able to breathe the same air in the fear that you might become infected. Hand shakes, hugs and togetherness will be outlawed. You’ll need to keep a distance between you and all other humans. Kissing will be banned. Because you’ve chosen angry words and sneers over cooperations and unity, you’ll now be forced to wear a mask to cover your spiteful mouths. Where there once was love there will now be loneliness, where there once was unity there will be solitude and where there once was hope there will only be despair. Between your rage and fear of self and others, there lies opportunity——opportunities to either nudge the human race towards good or evil.

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was no longer good. And on the eighth day God shook his head and let out a sigh as he muttered, “Back to the drawing board, back to the drawing board.” And so much, for the human race……..

Forgive

Soundtrack, “Old and Wise” by the Alan Parsons Project.

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I hate unsolicited advice. Most men know that it is not wise to give another man unsolicited advice. The most important thing to a man is respect and his pride. These things are earned and not idly parceled out like cans of beer—–although oftentimes such libations are swilled to make up for the lack of such noble qualities. On a rare occasion a man may give a fellow golfer advice about how to grip a club, how to adjust their swing or stance, but guys like that seldom get asked back for a future game. Guys have gotta figure shit out for themselves, it’s just he way it is.

Men like to give women advice. It makes them feel superior. It inflates their anemic ego’s. Most women will politely listen even though they know that men spend eighty percent of their time thinking about how to get pussy and what to eat next. The remaining twenty percent of their time is spent picking their nose at red lights or making fart jokes. Under the three piece suits, the impressive job titles and fancy cars, men are basic creatures bumbling their way through life. Women don’t give advice, they make sly suggestions. “Honey, maybe it would be better to use dental floss rather than a pocket knife to clean your teeth.” “Please don’t use gas to light the barbecue dear. Let me fry the burgers on the stove.” KABOOM!!!

But, in spite of my prior warnings regarding unsolicited advice, I have decided to dispense some brotherly advice. So please, “Forgive Me”.

Our time here is so short—–it doesn’t pay to deny ourselves and others forgiveness. Anger only cuts off circulation to the heart and puts a strangle hold on our ability to convey empathy. Forgive, because in the big scheme of things your petty grudges will emotionally bankrupt you. It’s like paying interest on a debt but never reaching the principle—-ya see, you can’t loan love or forgiveness, their value is only realized when given for free.

I wonder if we wear clothes out of shame, or is it a means to hide our insecurities. It’s tough to take another person seriously when they’re parading around bare ass naked. Nakedness is God’s way of showing us that in spite of Madison Avenue fashions and photoshopped vanities—–we’re all allot more alike than we are different.  Under skin and bone our fragil humanness flickers…..

Forgive——-because like a fart, the longer you hold it in, the more pressure it builds, hurting only you, and in time growing louder and smellier—- Forgive because sometimes you have to pull the bandaid off along with the scab in order for the wound to heal, Forgive because there is a child with a bald head dying in a hospital rather than playing on a jungle gym. Forgive because nothing seems that bad until it happens to you. Forgive because there but for fortune go you or I. Forgive because there is already enough darkness in this world—-enough sadness to superglue the softest of hearts eternally shut. Forgive because the shits already out of the pony. Forgive because with age the nights grow longer and peace more elusive. Forgive because winter need not be your favorite season. Forgive in spite of God and his promised heaven. Forgive because the shortest distance between point A and point B is love. Forgive because there’s a supernova a thousand times bigger than our puny sun imploding in on itself. Let go, let go, let go—–because as the old Zen proverb tells us “Let go or be dragged”.

Forgive, because one day you’ll realize that all the stuff you once thought so important were just things made up in your head. This clarity only comes after a major life event like getting fired, losing someone you love, going through a divorce, having a major health scare, facing your mortality or watching reruns of “Friends” (they all look so young). You’ll flop around like a trout out of water, realizing you’ve mistaken the barbed hook for the golden ring.

It all seems so absurd——all the girls you tried to impress with false bravado, the fake laughs given for free to please your dim witted boss, the loud arguments availing only hurt feelings——its all comes back to you like a strange dream, like staring up at the shimmering surface of the water while holding your breath at the bottom of the sea. Down there, there’s only shipwrecks, rusty anchors, the eight armed Kraken and the tiny fart bubbles you release as pieces of your forgiveness. Farting is God’s way of telling you to not take yourself to seriously.

We stubbornly withhold our forgiveness, we’d rather offer up snide remarks and sarcastic smiles. We expect others to rain apologies down upon us, but the sad truth is, some people don’t know how to be sorry. They only learn forgiveness by being forgiven—-and the bible along with all the other holy books speak of this irony. The currency of unspoken forgivenesses pays out in wasted time, it lengthens the bridge we’ve all come here to cross.

Get over your self——–Forgive

Feeding The Lion

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For Haley and Taylor.

Soundtrack “It’s For You” by Pat Matheny

So ya wanna be a writer. Writing takes enormous courage, at least for those who dare to stand in the center-ring and call themselves the master of ceremonies. When I say master of ceremonies, I mean standing in the center-ring with a chair in one hand and a whip in the other—–cracking that whip as you attempt to tame language, coaxing those unruly words to jump through rings of fire. It’s being honest and pure——it’s as insufferable as siphoning ink from an anemic soul. To go to such places you must first face down who you are or who you thought you were–you must be prepared to shine a light on your blind spots and shake hands with your darkest shadows. What’s in there? What’s way deep down inside me, that thing I’ve carried with me from the womb, that shameless thing that’s a part of me like a birth mark in the shape of original sin. If you can go that far down then you’ve earned the privilege to call yourself the zoo keeper of words. You have fed the lion, but you have not tamed him. Beauty, danger and fear are the bars that cage our confessions. A long lost friend once told me “Where the beauty of the soul is, there’s always danger.”

The next step is to put your head in that lions mouth. Choose honesty over insecurity. Allow space for venerability, don’t be anonymous——be outrageous, be original not a trend chaser, be forthright rather than pious and vain——take no-ones word other than your own, search everywhere for yourself and then let it all go, unleash your restrained emotions and when all the stiff mannequins misunderstand you, tell them to fuck off———it’ll be scary, but it’ll make you feel awake and alive—–trust that it will be worth it. Your words are your weapons, surrender is your shield. Make shit happen, even if you have to make shit up as you go along, walk the high-wire, be a fire eater, play the clown, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it’s how you’ll learn to orchestrate your circus. Be persistent, have tenacity, be a seeker. Be good to yourself, be kind to others, smile, even when you don’t feel like it—-take the body and the mind will follow. .

Life is a beautiful thing——-people like you make this so.

 

Awesome Sexy Center Fold Pictures.

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Driving the backroads of the Carson Valley with nothing much to do but be alive and awake. Opened my eyes and saw all of this, I think they’d call it “Awesome” in this day and age.  I call it beautiful.  Late autumn meets early winter.

I shamelessly entitled this blog “Awesome Sexy Center Fold Pictures” in order to elicit more hits.  My deepest apologizes to the dudes who were lured to this site under a false premise.  Were all such puppets to “gotcha marketing”.

Eastside of the Sierras, photos shot from the Carson Valley.

The Titanic Swim Team

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Soundtrack “Cascada” by Jesse Cook

This life, man how it pisses me off, locked in, locked out——-passing me by, I don’t know——— I walk around with this old skeleton key, and every lock I slip it into refuses to give way. Lovers, friends, careers, hopes and dreams—even god, they all seem dead-bolted and out of reach. I wanted it all so bad, I wanted everything, I wanted to know something or someone in a better way, a closer way, cause I’m afraid that someday it’ll be to late——-I can’t find my way in——or is it my way out that leaves me feeling orphaned. Another rainy hungover Sunday, cold black coffee, black and blue marks, questions marks, exclamation marks—-moving on, moving out, falling down, falling apart—-how many overs make an end?

I admire but a few professions. The boxer, the standup comedian and the poet. They perform naked, no props, no cue cards, turning the disconnected nothingness of life into form and art. They allow us to take mundane moments and eye them up close as we tumble them over in our hands, like “curiosities” or “what nots” at a rummage sale——It’s a fine line between junk and treasure, truth and consequence, fate and happenstance, synchronicity and chaos———— the “you’s and me’s” and “what use to be’s”——-I wish you could see yourself through my eyes, because beauty is not so much what’s reflected in a mirror—–it’s what lies behind the reflection.

And baby, how I wish I could call you up and ask you to come over, but that number you once pressed into the palm of my heart at 2:00 am under a flickering failing streetlamp is now disconnected, no forwarding address, you’ve gone underground, unlisted, unavailable, I’m just another one of your gypsy memories——- I wish I were more like you, an emotional hitchhiker, leap frogging my way from here to there at another’s expense.

A prize fighter knows the score. He’ll take the hardest punch you can muster and then throw one back at you just as hard, until someone is so busted up that they can’t answer the bell. His only way out of this is through you. You think you’re tough, then bring it on brah! Sweat, spit, tears, Vaseline and the taste of blood fill his split lipped mouth. Rights, lefts, upper cuts, jabs, body shots——with back against the ropes, the jeers of the crowd fade until all he hears is the sound of his own labored breath——-  and from deep down there comes the throb of blood surging through his veins. Don’t get pissed or take it personally if he fucks you up, cause mister, he comes from a neighborhood where there’s only one bone for every five dogs——-

Oh my god, listen to how that comedian weaves rhythm and tempo into a syncopated groove like a jazz tenor player creating tension and release as he steers his ship between awkward truth and twisted absurdity. His riffs cut through tendons and bones with the deftness of a surgeon wielding a chainsaw——-daring those out there in the safe darkness of audience to laugh till it hurts, until tears stream down their cheeks. Killing them softly as he makes them contort and grimace with the intensity of an epileptic orgasm——cause the better part of foreplay is always laughter, and right beneath that G spot lies her funny bone. And I never doubted that Charlie Chaplin had more groupies than Gene Simmons and Elvis combined. If you can get her to laugh, the world is your oyster. Or, if you can get her to laugh, her oyster is your world——-“Drummer!——Rim shot please!”

Then there’s the melancholy poet bending words like forged metal into swords that cut to the marrow as he dissects cumbersome words such as love, and truth, and beauty, doing his best to make you cry until you laugh, cause even the saddest of life conditions eventually reaches a point of hilarity——life——- at its best is a tragic comedy, at its worst, an epitaph marred by graffiti and eraser marks——-

I’ll add one more profession to my list. Magician. He suspends reality as he toys with your sense of certainty. How did that rabbit get into that top-hat? How did his beautiful assistant disappear into thin air? He snaps his finger and a white dove appears, the ace of hearts appears at the top of the deck at his command——his cane becomes a bouquet of flowers. We’re becoming children again, believing in the Easter Bunny, Santa and the Tooth Fairy. Life is magic, like the color blue, like the sky blue, like love at first sight, like the purity of children, like ocean sunsets and mountain thunderstorms————like free candy on Halloween….

But adults lose their sense of wonder. Hope and dreams are the currency of youth. Age causes the investment to become devalued by routine and complacency——somehow discounting the small miracles that appear daily——Why? I don’t know, but it scares me when I see those my age stiffen with rust like the Tin Man——If they only had a heart rather than a brain stuffed with straw. Maybe under it all, they’re concealing a cowardly lion. Fear is the lock we must all learn to pick. It takes a titanic amount of courage to swim through this life, cause an ocean of frozen tears can sink the mightiest of ships.

I argue with god, but I’m not sure if it’s him that I‘m taking to task or just one of the cast of voices that loiter in my head. They mumble to me like homeless bums hiding in the shadows of a urine stenched alley. The chorus of voices implore me to watch my cities burn, to stop rattling the chains across my doors——to give up on you, to give up on me——-to severe all connections with an innocence lost.

I”m looking for love by brail, cause love can’t be seen, it’s only felt—-like music. Every word you speak has the power of a million waves, wearing away my walls and causing my granite facade to cave-in like castles made of sand. And did I tell you that I still love you, it’s not a choice, it’s an addiction, stronger than herion, more like oxogen than a drug, something that comes to me in gasps, and at night I suffocate in my bed. And if your phone rings at 3:00 am, it could be me, just wanting to hear the sound of your voice one more time. The right key turning the right lock is a once in a life time chance, like Sir Lancelot pulling a sword from a stone to become king—-but you cut my hair and broke my crown—–

Make no mistake, this is a world where the keys you’ve been given seldom match the locks that you find yourself stranded behind. It’s a place of paddle locks, deadbolts and door chains with squinty eyed peepholes. If ya want in, if what ya need is behind that door, if that’s where your dream lies, where you passion leads you, then you’re gonna have to kick that fucker in, your gonna have to bust it down, you’re gonna have to throw yourself against it, again and again, with all you might——until you get in, or get out, or get through————until you are allowed passage to that place where you know that you were meant to be, that place where you belong.

Choosing My Religion

Soundtrack, Losing My Religion, by REM.

It’s not a matter of if you’re gonna fight, cause we’ve all gotta fight——that’s the nature of choosing life. The question is, “How” and “why” are ya gonna fight. To survive requires that you engage in that universal struggle to express your purpose, your life force. To be aware that you are aware, is to be awake……..Without a purpose you are sleepwalking through your days. How do you express your purpose? What is your intention. How do you learn to “know that you know??

”He not busy being born, is busy dying” Bob Dylan
Knowing that you don’t know.

You Are Either “For” or “Against” Something

You can either fight “against” something or fight “for” something. It’s an almost imperceptible difference, but it makes all the difference in the world. It’s the difference between saying, “We’re gonna bomb our adversaries into choosing democracy” (fighting against something). Or saying, “We’re gonna live for and protect personal freedom and liberty” (fighting for something). When you’re fighting against something or someone, you are trying to affect change outside of yourself. When you’re fighting for something, you are fighting to affect change through self awareness and self discovery. If you choose to change yourself, you change your world. You must first learn to “know thy self” before you can have empathy for others.  You cannot feel connected to others unless you feel connected to yourself—-so simple, yet complex.

In the short term, fighting against something may be the quickest way to achieve a temporarily victory, but in the long run, a lasting victory comes from fighting for something. Don’t demonize those that believe different than you, but rather champion your truth. Choosing to fighting “against” an advisory is like letting lose a flash flood, you will see immediate results but they’re temporary. When you are on the side of truth it’s like possessing the hidden strength of an eternal water drop. It will wash away mountains, turn deserts into oceans and carve the deepest of canyons. Truth is not connected to a timeline, it always has been and always will be. You must learn to flow with the cosmic current, not against it.

One coach may rally his team by saying “We’re gonna destroy those loser’s we’re gonna kill them”. While another coach may motivate his team by saying “We’re gonna win for our school, for ourselves, for the love of the game”. Fighting “against” something requires an emotional energy that’s impulsive and angry. Fighting “for” something requires an emotional energy that’s patience and compassionate. You will know the difference between the two energies by following the trail of emotions that proceeded your actions. Are you being selfish or selfless?

 

Operating Out Of Fear Or Love

We are all either running towards something or running away from something. It’s the difference between acting out of fear or actin out of love. Fear causes you to run away from what is different or new. Fear will cause you to fight “against” what you don’t understand. Fear says, “They are not like us”, “They are inferior”, “They are a threat to us”, “We must destroy them before they destroy us”. Fear is rigid, intolerant of diversity and egocentric.

Love will cause you to run towards something. Its a motivation that comes from a desire to better understand and learn from a new experience (to evolve and grow). This type of motivation transcends from a higher calling. The byproduct of love is compassion and a belief that we are all connected, that we are all here to help and serve one another, that we are more alike than different. Love is fluid, accepting of change and seeks understanding.  Love is collaborative and inclusive, fear is competitive and exclusive.

Operating from a place of love requires courage, risk taking and an openness to new experiences. Conversely, fear manifest its self through ones insecurities, weaknesses, and narrow mindedness.

 

“Having To” Verses “Choosing To”

You see them on Monday mornings hanging out by the coffee machine in the break room. They’ll be wearing frowns and carrying on about how they wish they didn’t have to be there. They’ll be moaning about how they “have to” do this and “have to” do that. They see themselves as unfortunate victims of fate, mere pawns in the game of live. Well, I’ve got news for those mired in victimhood and “have to do-ness——–“You don’t have to do anything, zip, zero, nada”. You don’t even have to breathe, just put a plastic bag over your head and you’ll put a stop it all——the complaining, the self pity and the awful-izing. A “have to” mind set creates resistance and negativity, it robs you of personal power.

We all need to find a “why” (a purpose) for the things we do. If it’s a job that you don’t particularly enjoy, then you may find a “choose to” or a “why” by telling yourself that the job is putting a roof over your head and food on the table. Or, perhaps the earnings from the job is paying for your education and health care. Or, for now it’s helping you provide for the ones you love. The “why’s” in life are temporary and changeable. Use the discontentment for where you are currently, as fuel to energize you and move you towards your desired goals.

Once you let go of  the“have to’s” you can come from a place of gratitude. Before moving forward and wanting more, its necessary to take a gratitude inventory of all the things the gifts you’ve already been given. This will empower you to take the skills and gifts you already possess and apply them to achieving higher aspirations. One percent of life is what happens to you, the other ninety nine percent of your life is how you respond to that one percent. What you “choose to do” with your life is totally up to you. To some this may be seem overwhelming and frightening, but it can also be liberating and empowering.

Figure out what you want to do and start working towards that goal. You may choose to go back to school, or apply for a more fulfilling job, or to leave a relationship that’s unhealthy. Don’t waste another day feeling defeated and controlled.  You are the narrator and star of your story, you have the power to change the script when you change your attitude and thoughts.

Some may respond by saying—— “But that’s gonna take a lot of work on my part”, “I’ll have to take some uncomfortable risks”, “I’ll have to take personal responsibility for my life!” Note to self, “The hardest thing about changing your life, is changing your life.” And changing your life is something no one else can do for you, but you. Nothing is forever, not even your life. If you don’t like where you are, or what you’re doing, then do what football teams do at half time, make adjustments and changes to your game plan. Be creative and try new strategies for achieving your goals. Most importantly, be aware of your attitude and thoughts—–all life changes begin and end there.

Beliefs, Personal Verses Philosophical

We all have beliefs, but until we’re required to apply them at a personal level, they’re just words. We spout off about how we believe this is right and that is wrong. We blather with bravado about our political and religious judgments with little or no personal investment.

But god bats last and he’s always on the side of truth. And, just when you think you got the world figured out, god will throw you a curve. Example, so you believe a gay lifestyle is evil and homosexuality is a sin. Then one fine day, Bam!—— out of the blue your son or daughter discloses that they are gay and they desperately want your acceptance, support and love. Then what are ya gonna do with those self righteousness beliefs and judgments?

Or, maybe you’re a flag waving military hawk, always touting how we need boots on the ground to kick the asses of those un-American, non christian sons of a bitch’s. Like any good patriot, you encourage the young to march off to a foreign land and fight for god and country.  You’re filled with a sense of pride as your son or daughter enlists in the military. But what will you do when you find out your child has been seriously wounded in some country that you never even heard of a couple years ago. What will you do when they return home with a traumatic brain injury or other serious wounds, or maybe they’re never coming home again.

Ten years later they’ll erect a solemn memorial with the names of the dead and wounded chiseled into its marble edifice. Historians will give the war a name, but no one will remember what we were fighting for. Your child ends up living in your extra bedroom because their physical and emotional wounds prevent them from being able to work. After all the medals are handed out, the uniforms mothballed and the flags neatly folded, then what do ya do with all your cherished political and religious beliefs? You don’t know, until you know.

Be mindful of your beliefs and judgments, because one day they may be be tested in reality. Remember this, gods cosmic sense of humor is fueled with irony.

Know that you know.

You may choose to go “Against” rather than “For” something. You may choose to act out of “Fear” rather than “Love”. In life you may feel that there are things you “Have To Do” verses what you “Choose To Do”. You may never have to test your beliefs with a personal investment. But, if you are placed in that position, know the “hows” and “whys” that you employ to construct your life.

Buddha was not a Buddhist.
Jesus was not a Christian.
Muhammad was not a Muslim.
They were teachers who taught love.
Love was their religion.
Author unknown

Remembering To Feed The Cat

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Soundtrack Sparks by Coldplay.

When I was young I met a girl, she said she’d take care of me, but she couldn’t even take care of herself—— She burned Top Ramen, bled pink on my favorite button down shirt in the wash and was always telling me to get a “real job”. When my band broke up things got even worse. We stopped forgiving one another. We stopped holding hands. We’d lay in bed back to back, facing those bare opposing walls. She taught me how to say things I didn’t mean. In the darkness it’s easy to confuse how things are with the way things once were—-or, with the way things could have been. Once we realized that we were pretending, this is when the white lies lost their power to hold things together.

The stuff that drew us together——music, laughter, defying a world of clocks, money and the wanting of more—-came to be the things that pulled us apart. I went home one day and she was gone. At first I couldn’t breathe. She took her stereo and I was alone in my silence. For the first time I was on my own and alone, no family, no school, no job, just me. Life made no sense, everything was hard and cold—-I no longer had anyone to look after me. No footsteps falling in the other rooms. I suppose she took the cat, knowing that I’d forget to feed it.

Then I met a girl and I told her that I’d take care of her, but she soon discovered that I couldn’t even take care of myself. I tried to rearrange everything, but I ended up making a mess of things. I pawned my guitar and sold my keyboard. Something had ransacked my soul and smashed all the things I valued. I never wanted to take care of anyone ever again. It’s too much trouble. I taught her how to say “Fuck Off”. I laughed when she first said it to me. It sounded strange coming from her, but she was a quick study.

Love is like believing in aliens, it’s a crazy idea, but its better than feeling we’re all alone in this big universe.  Maybe love is having someone to look after—-someone to take out the garbage and mow the lawn, someone to make your supper and mend your shirts.   You can’t see love, you can only see its shadows.  For me, love is a practice, a discipline.  It requires patience, attention, and most importantly compassion.   I’m still learning these ways.  I do know this, spooning with someone is better than staring at your blank walls.

The Absolute-Complete-Guide To Becoming The Next Great American Author (spoken boldly in a powerful informercial voice!!!)

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TEN AMAZING STEPS TO BECOMING A SWELL WRITER 

 1.If you are going to be a writer, have something to fucking say. Character development is nice, detail to scene description is beneficial, smart dialogue is helpful, appropriate punctation and grammar a plus, but having a story worth telling is the most important element of storytelling—Start and end your project with that in mind!

2. Not only have something to say, but devise a way to say it that is insightful, interesting and compelling.  Forget about beginning, middle and end.  Every line must be an integral piece of what contributes to the greater whole. If you’re all in, if you’re writing from a place of authenticity—then every page, every paragraph, every sentence and each word needs to be painfully distilled down to its purest means of expression.  Once written, it should sound as if it has always existed, like mosquitos, the moon and a thousand sad truths —

3.Write about what you know, and know about what you write.  All good writing is personal, confessional and honest.  Be authentic, be original, allow yourself to be shamelessly naked—-you must develop and know the sound of your own voice—-Go to those forbidden places that make you feel uncomfortable and exposed, it is there you will find the keys to the kingdom—this is where your true voice lives.

4. The most important person in your audience will aways be you.  If your writing becomes tawdry, trite or boring, then write it again, and again and again—-fill the God Damn Grand-Canyon with wadded up pieces of shitty writing—- never fall so deeply in love with your own writing that you can’t tell the piss from top shelf scotch (I have found that piss is saltier tasting).

5. Don’t leave anything left in the pen, say it all, say it with stark unabashed honestly, don’t hold back—write till your soul bleeds ink.

6. Don’t start with a story outline, format or a preconceived structured layout.  Don’t tell the story, let the story tell itself (Zen, baby!)—filling up note pads with secret random notes is a valuable practice—you never know where or when a good thought may bubble to the surface from the depths of your collective sub-consciousness—to know that you don’t know, is to know that you know—-Do you know???

7. Study many different styles of writing but copy none.  The world does not need another Hemingway, Daniel Steele, Fitzgerald or Steven King. Never forget this—learning to be a good writer is like learning to eat soup with chopsticks—-it’s a fatiguing exercise intended to teach patience.  A good writer stays hungry.

8. Find inspirational music to listen to while writing.  Music requires no words to reach or affect you.  Regardless of what you’re meaning to say, strive to replace your imbecilic words with music— if your prose fail to sing—-then do not commit them to a final draft.

9. Good writing doesn’t come to you, it comes through you—let go of your “self”, reject your ego, stop thinking about thinking, stop thinking about writing, and say what needs to be said.  Write down the words as you hear them, clean up the details at a later time.  Stay open, stay awake, keep your senses at a fevered pitch, listen to all the disembodied voices blathering in your crazy head, but remember that the quiet ones speak the greatest truths—Be still—if nothing happens, then go do your laundry or something productive—Sometimes you have to pull up your line and rebait the hook.

10. A good writer will leave the reader changed or altered after digesting the content of the story.  Once the reader sets the book down, they must feel something—-anything—– pissed, flabbergasted, happy, offended, a-gasped, longing, laughing, bamboozled, crying, embarrassed, tickled, horny, hurt, revealed, inspired, filthy, guilty, cocksure, shamed, holy, dumbfounded, excited, exposed, gritty, mortified, rambunctious—but most importantly, the reader should be unexplainably transported to a righteous place where they are allowed to catch a glimpse into their own soulfulness—–and believe me, that ain’t easy to do!

            Secret Bonus Tip

Tenacity is the secret to your success.  Tenacity will take you further than natural ability, motivation, good connections, good intentions, skill, education, talent, genetics or dumb luck.  Never, never, never, never—-ever give up on the hope of reaching your dreams—-Tenacity gives hope wings!!!

Scoring Your Writing Prowess

Points will be deducted from your “wanna be a writer score” If—–

you wear a beatnik beret, you blather on in esoteric multisyllabic non-sensible rants, sip soy lattes, cosmopolitans or smoke a pipe, chain smoke or have a Marijuana Medical Card, sport a goatee or soul patch, you speak in metaphors no one understands, you’re a vegan, you attend or teach Haiku workshops, you always have a bottled water and smart phone within reach, you have a degree in English, Journalism or Communications,  your favorite Beatle is Paul, you play golf, you have a cat named Zen.

Points will be added to your “wanna be a writer score” if—–

you’ve hoboed on a train, you have a receipt for chili beans, beef stew or anything containing spam, you either have no cell phone and if you do, it’s a pay as you go with a cracked face plate and numbers that stick, beer is at the top of your food group pyramid, your car stereo is worth more than you car, you dig jazz (add five points if you can play jazz), your favorite Beatle is John, you know how to shoot pool, you have a dog named Lucky.

The Phases Of Writing (An exercise in self destruction)

1. Fame makes great writers drunks and madmen

2. Fame makes good writers self conscious and reclusive

3. Fame makes okay (commercial) writers rich and predicable

4. Anonymity makes horrible writers drunks and madmen.

Be advised, being a drunk and a madman does not make you a great

writer—but sadly, it often comes with the territory, see rule #1 and #4.—

If you don’t find any of this shit helpful, then go live your life and write about what you hear, see and feel, then have a taco—-

Helpful Hints :

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.”  F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely necessary.”  Jessamyn West

“Try to make the funny stuff sound sad and the sad stuff sound funny—” V Uriz

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Feel free to substitute your word of choice in place of the word “funny”—depending on your mood—

Pocketful of Soul

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Sitting on the hard Christian pew in the front row of Saint Joseph’s Church, I idly listen as the pipe organ fills the stained glass chamber with the sound of Ave Maria.  The beauty of the melody is occasionally punctuated by the echoes of a cough or a child’s desperate whine.  The organ stops and the room is consumed by a ponderous silence; the silence of a funeral is louder than that of any other decibel—it is the deafening sound of stillness.

It’s hard to say how many times any of us may have lived or died, but today, eternity surges through this space like static electricity during a thunderstorm, death teaches us about the impermanence of all things—-a million days or a million years, mortality will never empty my pocketful of soul.

The priest droned on in a thick accent, perhaps Indian or some foreign place from the far east—-his fouled up mispronunciations make the ancient stories from the bible even more esoteric.  The messages within these texts I’ve heard hundreds of times.  At different stages of my life I’ve interpreted them differently, isn’t that the way of any true art.  For me, faith is an art, something that grows and changes as it finds new ways to connect with me in a place beyond my limited five senses. I‘m not a biblical purest or fundamentalist, I am a spiritual personalist—I believe God speaks to us all in his own personal language of love.   I hear him in the wilderness, others may feel his presence on a commuter bus, God finds a way to adapt to our idiosyncrasies.

Ironically, things become so twisted when we force God to conform to our personal needs and demands—-oh the horrors perpetrated in his many names.  I prefer the belief that we are created in the image of God, rather than God created in our self serving image.  Such a subtle yet profound change of outcomes when choosing  between these two conflicting points of view.  My puny prayers are composed out of a humble desire for there to be less of me and more of God in this broken world.

I’ve never had much of a grasp on God, religion or spirituality, but in the peacefulness of this moment I’m absorbed by a sweet serenity.  In the presence of the sacred statues, symbols and the mumblings of holy prayers I’m filled with a sense of communion to all things.  I suppose this sublime feeling may also be evoked from Gregorian Chants, Hindu Mantras or Zen Koans, we are all reduced to the simplicity of oneness in the presence of God.

“If Jesus were alive today, the last thing he’d be is a Christian.”

by Mark Twain

Disclaimer: 

The sentiment communicated in the above quote may be applied to all prophets and spiritual leaders who have been merchandized, propaganda-sized, materialized, cauterized, convicted and tried, dehumanized, demoralized, rectified, deep-fried, electrified, televised, commercialized and apostatized—–

Plane Conversations and God Thoughts

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My lap top indicates I’m flying at 536 miles per hour at a hight of 39,239 feet.  This is over 6 miles above the earth.  Even though I’ve flown many times and the aerodynamics’ of flight has been explained to me in great detail on Wikipedia, I still find it hard to grasp the unrealness of it all.  Animal shaped clouds drift by offering me a grin and a wink, several aisles over a baby wails, experienced flyers snooze, everyone is somewhere between “here and there”—ain’t life funny that way.

To forget how to fly at this altitude, to lose ones faith in formulas and physics would send this metal contraption plummeting nose first towards the brown wrinkled rug looking mountains below.  I feel a sense of powerlessness as a wave of panic serge’s through my sweaty body.  Physics is only numbers, numbers can’t keep a plane from dropping out of the sky like a rock—at this moment, at least for me, it’s magic and faith holding this metal tube in a state of flight.  The fusel-lodge shutters as we pass through another set of turbulent winds and thermals.  The jet engines drone on in the background as I throw back my third ginger-ale and Jack.  I eat my stale pretzels and ask God to have mercy on my undeserving wicked soul—–the fear of impending doom brings out the dormant God in us all.

The air in the cabin is stale and smells and tastes as if it has been inhaled and exhaled by everyone on the plane five times over. I sit squeezed in my chair next to a middle aged guy who has commandeered control of our common armrest forcing me to tuck my elbow uncomfortably into my ribcage. Why am I always seated next to these infidel foreigners who have no appreciation or understanding of the American, Christian, democratic way of life.  I’d love to challenge him to recite the pledge of Allegiance or ask him to spout-off a few bible quotes by heart.  If he failed (which I know he would) I’d take great pleasure in confiscating his “forged” passport.   I’m growing more angry by the moment, his wheezing breath, his mere presence beside me is unbearably annoying. I stare at him out of the corner of my eye to size him up.  “Yeah, I think I could kick his scrawny imperialistic ass.” I fight back the urge to slam my left elbow into his right arm and rightfully claim dominion over my armrest.  Or—-better yet, I could open a magazine and in the process covertly “accidentally” yet firmly nudge his arm out of my territory.  As I consider my available tactics and strategies the stewardess comes by and leans into our hellish tangle of arms, legs, drop-down trays, newspapers and laptops to whisper something in my insurgents—I mean, neighbors ear.

The stewardess gives him a hug and I immediately seize the opportunity to claim the vacated space.  What a freaking idiot to be so easily distracted and in the process expose his vulnerability.  The stewardess isn’t even all that pretty, the poor fool probably never gets laid and is some kind of androgens eunuch. As for that bitch—I mean stewardess, she’s nothing but a glorified snack-bar attendant. I smugly settle back in my chair and relish my hard-won victory.

The alcohol has filled my bladder causing me extreme discomfort as I fight back the need to relive myself. I’m sure, that as soon as I vacate my seat I will lose the hard-won ground I’d so valiantly conquered.  I decide that the situation is not worth pissing my pants over, so I brashly force my way out to the center aisle (without excusing myself) and head for the lavatory at the tail of the plane.

As I exit the restroom I come face to face with the stewardess who solemnly asks, “Would you mind taking this heating pad and pillow to your neighbor?”  With a knee jerk reflex I respond in a voice of intolerance, “Can’t he get his own Goddamn pillow and hot pad.”  She takes a deep breath and in an even voice responds, “Your neighbor, John—he has a shunt in his right arm.  Once every week he flies to the Denver Medical Center to provide bone marrow treatments to his nine-year old son.  His right arm gets sore, so the heat and pillow is just a small courtesy to try and help him feel more comfortable.  It appears that its too much trouble for you, so just forget it.”  I look down at her name tag and respond, “Ah—oh”—well—–uh-um–Cathy, well of course not, it’s no trouble at all.  Now give me that pillow please.”  My forehead breaks out in beads of sweat, I apologize to her and then turn to make that long trek back to my seat.  The jet jumbles about and I stumble sideways.  I wish this piece of shit plane would fall out of the sky and crash so I wouldn’t have to face this stranger, this guy named John, the person to whom I’ve invested so much hate. . . A sense of shame pulses from my temples, traveling down my throat and settling at the pit of my twisting stomach.

I’ve been trying to become a better person, but so easily and so often, I forget how to do the right thing.  The briefness of being alive, the cruelty of nature, the unexplainable unfairness of life, the uncertainty of losing those closest to us, the inevitability of disease, calamity, misfortune and death, all this should teach us to be kinder to one another—to be accepting and forgiving, but it doesn’t.  We pull and push at each other, we slash and tear at one another—-I have so much to learn and such a long way to go, and so little time to get there.

I take my seat and hand over the pillow and heating pad.  “The stewardess Cathy, she wanted you to have this.”  He shakes his head, “I told her not to make a fuss. She’s ridiculous, but she’s such a great spirit.”  I ask about his arm but he skirts the issue and says its nothing.  I’m tempted to inquire about his son but I get the feeling that this is sacred territory reserved for those who know and understand such a heartache.  We fill our time with such mundane topics as the weather, smart phone apps and our musical tastes.  He pulls up pictures of his family on his laptop.  There is one of his son decked out in a blue and white little league uniform.  He’s on one knee smiling with a bat slung over his shoulder.  I’m a writer and pride myself in being observant and compassionate, but apparently I’m neither. It is only now that I detect the worrisome lines on his face and a sadness hiding deep his eyes.

The captain comes over the intercom telling us that the temperature in Denver is seventy-seven degrees and that the wind is blowing from the northwest at 15 mph.  With the muted enthusiasm of a fast food attendant, he announces that in approximately eighteen minutes we will be touching down in Denver.  To me, these words are proclaiming a miracle, we’re almost there.  We’ve flown one-third of the way across the country without stalling and succumbing to the effects of gravity.

I look out my window at a patch quilt of green parks, subdivisions with backyard pools, golden fields and a skyline on a hazy horizon.  With my finger against the window I trace along the path of a toy-sized road, its purpose and destination is a mystery to me.   Down there, life is forcing itself over roads, across rivers, filling up water-towers, absorbing countryside, suburbs and cities—occupying space, falling through time, desperately moving its way through, over and inside everyone and everything that stands in its way. Down there, thousands of people carry on with their lives, their purpose and destination is a mystery to me—-so many people I’ll never know, so many things I’ll never understand.  Where is god in all this?  God isn’t, knowing.  God isn’t, not knowing. God is in the wonder—ah yes, the enigmatic and elusive wonder of it all.

I want to say something inspirational or encouraging to John, but he doesn’t know that I’m aware of his dire predicament.  I have no words for the secret revelations surfacing in me—so I sit dumbfounded lost in the sorrow of this solemn moment.

The wheels thump down on the runway, everyone lurches forward and there is a loud skidding sound of brakes being applied as the engines make a roaring sound. We taxi our way towards the terminal. Suddenly everyone is on their feet pulling down their carry-on luggage.  John turns around, “Hey can you do me a favor?”  “Sure, anything.  What do ya need?”  He hands me an envelope, “If I try to give this to Cathy I know she’ll refuse it.  She’s a volunteer for the Wounded Warrior Program. They raise funds to help returning Vets.  Ya know, for things like housing, counseling and medical needs. Could ya please give her this card and envelope.”  He hesitates and then leans into me, “Her husbands a Vet.  He was hurt really bad over there and is now confined to a facility where he receives around the clock care.”  I nod to John and offer up a stern grimace to convey my empathy.   Yeah right—-I’m suddenly Mr. Empathetic.

When you come to understand that God uniquely, personally, unequivocally and eternally loves you, that’s when it becomes easier to be compassionate—-and it also becomes less threatening to forgive all and give yourself to others—conversely it becomes more difficult to be selfish and unkind—who wants to disappoint God—–not me. It’s required a huge leap of faith to get to this place, but these divine convictions are what allow planes to defy gravity and mere mortals to let Gods love flow through them—-and then to be passed on to all others.

It’s not important my point of departure or my final destination, it’s the things I do between “here and there” that define me.

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