I run my hand along the rough red brick wall. If you could touch truth, this is what it would feel like, if you could wear yesterday, it would fit like this. Brick buildings never age, unlike most things, they never grow old, they are the silent sentinels keeping watch at eternities gate. Time is in the raindrop that erodes away the mightiest of mountains one patient drop at a time—-We never seem to notice the passage of time until one day the mountain is gone.
Brick and mortar merges man’s creative life-force with natures unfaltering power to endure. ——Such walls keep some things out and other things in——-it all depends on what side of the wall you find yourself falling or standing——
I envision all of those perfect rust colored bricks meticulously hand laid, so even, so artfully composed——-the craftsman’s sweat droplets mixed in the slurry and forever embedded within the cured cement—–blood, sweat and tears, like long lost fossils hidden between the layers of time.
Long after another generation’s life-story has been told and then consigned to oblivion, these edifices remain as statues to a forgotten past—— bricks like memories, one stacked upon the other—— one timeless moment entombed within a dying eternity.————-Tell me this? Why the brevity of life, we’re here then gone, everything and everyone just passing through, my grip on the ephemeral is slipping, the impermanence of it all has me chasing tomorrows horizon on this lonely highway.
Skyscrapers are impressive because of their hight. But there is no romance in their architecture. Their birth pushed out into loveless cement forms and fitted together with the support of I-beams. The spaces we live in define our culture. Our cities are gray, cold and crowded with despair, boxes within boxes, where men while away their lives in cubicles, sucking recirculated air, no songbirds cooing outside the tinted windows, only the ever present monotonous hum of air conditioners—–there’s no place to hide from those harsh florissant lights, the computer screen is our window to the world, the feel of cool damp grass no longer beneath our feet——it’s a landscape of migraines, mind-games and lost virtues. All the symmetrical lines make the few remaining trees and plants seem out of place.
All the old buildings in my hometown are constructed of stubborn bricks. There is grandeur in those old buildings, the church with its pious stained-glass windows, the honorable courthouse and contemplative library. These buildings of stone reminds us of our need for safety, shelter and community. I feel holy when standing in the ancient brick church with it’s towering steeple—-it pierces the heavens like a hypodermic needle, injecting god’s blue sky with silent prayers.
The first time I saw rain, I asked my mother what it was, this water falling from the sky. And she said it’s rain. I thought a child’s thought, how wondrous, this thing called rain, water falling from the sky cleansing the streets and sweetly scenting the world. Who’d of thought up such a phenomenal thing?
The rain made all the old red bricks appear new again. Everyone was in a hurry to escape the rain, but I stayed outside to enjoy this spectacle of water falling from the sky. I stood there with hands outstretched, head tilted back, mouth open, tasting rain, feeling rain.
I once asked my mother about the tiny specks of light twinkling in the night sky. She said they are stars and that there are billions and billions of them—- they are like our sun, but millions of light years away. She said some of these stars have already burned themselves out and we are looking at light from their past. I thought a child’s thought, these things called stars are even more mysterious than rain. I sat on the porch staring up at the Milky Way galaxy—–Rain and stars, how unbelievable yet beautiful.
Maybe this is what Buddha contemplated while meditating under his Bodie Tree. At peace with oneself and the universe, walking the middle path of love between the yen and the yang——intertwined with everything yet separate…….Insignificant and small, yet omnipotent and omniscient———wandering between the birth and death of each moment———Nirvana——-
If love were a color, it would be green——like the traffic light that screams GO!—like the grass that’s always greener on the other-side, green like a twenty dollar bill earned the hard way—– leaving you one blistered heart, its in that sweet scent of sappy pine needles in early June, rare like a four leaf clover, it’s in her emerald flecked eyes, like the squirt from a lime after a shot of Cuervo——–but never the color of envy—–
My love is blue, like the deepest part of the ocean, like the sound of Muddy Water’s graveled voice singing “You Shook Me”, as wide open as a cloudless Summer sky, it’s the blue that flickers at the tip of a campfire flame, it’s in the bluish colored veins showing through her ivory skinned neck, a river of life rushing from her quaking heart, her body like a little factory producing beauty, it’s hiding within a cold azure tiki drink—-it’ll kick your ass like a stiff right hook to the soul.
Time is transparent, you can’t see it as it passes through you. I remember all the little things in my wake, the big things are chapters in a book I’ve reread a thousand times. I never tire of my memories, even though they can sometimes leave me sad and nostalgic, the fleetingness of time sifting though an hour glass, grains of sand like moments slipping by—-slipping away.
I once thought that if I talked faster, lived faster that I’d get more living out of life. But no, I got it all wrong, it’s exactly the opposite, the slower I live, the more of life I absorb. I also once thought that the harder I prayed, the more god would turn my wants and desires into reality. But, God doesn’t care about my hopes and dreams, what concerns him more, is how I walk through the fire, how I carry myself—–do I cower in fear? Do I hold another fire-walker’s sweaty palm? Do I piss on the coals? Is the heat an oven to melt sandwiches of gram-cracker, marshmallow and chocolate into S’mores? How do you make your way across the coals—–doing your tip toed river dance while passing through….Cause were all just passing through…..Dancing on the sharp edged blade between chance and fate…..
I feel myself falling apart, cracking up, dissolving into mist. Age seems to have made me uncomfortable with all I once felt to be inevitable——I’ve come to believe anything is possible if I only open myself to it.
The things that once kept me in orbit around my identity have lost their gravity. My career, relationships, friendships, possessions and money have lost value. This isn’t a mid-life crisis, it’s more about wanting to see what’s behind the movie screen—-what’s real, what’s illusion, who really know’s me, who do I really know——-it’s not a depression—-it’s a compression. It’s life closing in on me———something is slipping away, time is running out——I’m teetering between shadow and substance. I’m calling this deaf-mute universe out. Is love a bluff? Is god a fairy-tale? Is truth attainable——-What becomes of us all?
Unimaginable things seep from beneath my consciousness. I drift through deserted cities. I float above dreamscapes of forgotten worlds. From the corner of my mind there arise the faces of lost lovers from past lives . There’s a sweet sadness to it all—–not knowing what becomes of us all.
I’ve decided to let go of all meaning and purpose and simply accept that—“What is “is”, and what ain’t, “ain’t”—That’s my hillbilly Zen koan. It’s the letting go of all the things I’ve fought and struggled to hold onto in a desperate desire to give “me” a connection to this odyssey called life——-the harder I’ve tried to grasp friendship and love, the more they’ve slipped away. The things that once made sense have fallen by the wayside, what once mattered no longer matters. I feel myself moving past, through and beyond all physical trappings.
I need a best friend, a girl to love and a faithful dog——I suppose one out of three ain’t bad.. Don’t people realize that we all crave appreciation, complements and a feeling of being special to someone. We all need to be held, loved and told how valued we are. If those closest to us fail to do these things, then who will? Yet we seldom do. It’s no wonder friends become estranged and lovers settle for tepid routine over burning passion.
I’m no longer gonna be the complementer, the conversation mover or the open ear to those that have nothing to offer me in return. Maybe that’s mean, vengeful and petty, but my time has grown to precious and my universe to small to make room for emotional hermits.
I once had a best friend who showed no interested in my writing or my music projects. It was a foreign land he choose not to visit. I’d wait for him to say something complementary or maybe offer an insightful comment about a line or two I’d written——- but he never did— How can you claim to be someones closest friend, and yet never book passage into their world. Our relationship became one dimensional. I’d listen to his stories and encourage him when he was down. I was inquisitive and attentive to his travails. I’d complement his victories, support his dreams and find ways to ease his worries. One day I stopped returning his phone calls. He left me several messages asking why I never returned his calls——go figure?
My simple recipe for a lasting friendship is simple, show an interest in their soul-hood, be attentive to their heart-fullness (two simple steps)———Amongst all the meaningless bullshit you may share; compassion is the duct tape that will hold your relationships together. Through all of life’s peril, it’s the simple gestures of empathy and kindness that keep the paths of companionship parallel.
I once had a lover who grew loveless. We tolerated one another, we’d forgotten how to please one another. If you truly love someone, you know the things that please them and conversely, you know the things that piss them off. My recipe for an enduring love affair is simple—— Do the things that please that person and don’t do the things that piss them off (two simple steps).
Deprived of vitamin L (love) all living things die. Studies have shown that babies who’ve been neglected fail to thrive. Without love they curl up into a little ball and silently pass away. Love is as essential to our survival as air and food. Babies need to be rocked, caressed and softly spoken to. They need to know that when they cry out someone will come to comfort them. It saddens me to know that there are adults who’ve given up on love. They’ve given up on affection—-they no longer reach out for someone to hold—–they’ve stopped calling out to be comforted. Inside they’re literally “dying” to be loved.
What are we waiting for? Life is brief and it’s later than we realize——Anything is possible if we only open ourselves to it——Kick down the door, dynamite the debris, let your light shine into someones lonely bubble———Love is the only passport needed to enter another’s world—-“Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel.” James Taylor.
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.
Stories and dreams. We all have them, but having someone to tell them to is as close as some of us may ever get to giving them form. Putting such flimsy notions into words and trusting someone with them is such a dangerous propositions. We’ve all been misunderstood and laughed at——-betrayed when least expected, hurt by those most trusted. So we retreat further into adulthood, into becoming conventional and bland. But I never felt that way towards you, cause you allowed me to believe in glory and grace——in fact, you encouraged my groping wishes to wake and be given life, with you I could be an astronaut, free to explore my outer and inner space. I could be a Zen warrior, or a pale version of a cool-ass bluesman, you gave me the swagger of a pirate, the bravado of a rodeo clown——with you, I became wide open and fearless, featureless….. liberated and limitless…….You offered a love that never expires, a timeless space where there is no room for regret or remorse….
They say that the starlight we see is millions of light years old and in fact, some of those stars we hold as real have long ago flamed out. They implode or explode or wink off into the blackness like a dream or story that never reaches its surface. As stars bleed light, so it is for the lonely who hemorrhage hope. You and I float hand in hand above this blue marble, wearing nothing but our smiles— and it’s all so beautiful from a distance.
Where you’re from, isn’t who ya are, but it shapes what you become. And when we were young, all we wanted to do was get out of this place that we thought made us lonely and small (but we didn’t even know what loneliness could feel like—— as foolish as comparing a paper cut to a severed soul) and now we can only go back there in memory or dreams====and if you can still share a memory or a dream with someone——then you can understand that it’s not so bad losing this battle with time.
And don’t let them tell you that time is a river, no——-, it’s like that glassed in machine on the boardwalk where taffy is stretched, pulled and folded back into itself——It will pull the caps off your teeth, stick to the roof of your mouth like peanut butter, it will adhere to the sole of your shoe, eventually becoming a wad of molasses covered in dirt, making you limp, causing each step forward to feel more like a stumble……
I’d once heard it said that “Bad decisions make for great stories”. To me, that’s the most Christian thing ever spoken. Truer than any condemning bible quote, more real than any evangelic sermon intended to save my other gummed up soul. We’re here to make mistakes, to fuck up, to work it out and fuck it up all over again. So don’t feel so bad, it’s what were here to do—–
You’re the worst decision I ever made, but god we have such great stories to share————-
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
From a God’s eye view it all must seem so silly. Lines drawn separating one person or place from another, borders, boundaries, the yours and mine of desire and regret—the willing, the wasted, the reluctant and those forgetting that we all end up old, ugly and woeful, but hey, ugly ain’t so bad once you accept that at best we’re all sideshow attractions in a traveling freak-show in this two-bit carnival life. Oddballs, freaks and outcasts have always been my companions of choice—-so if you’re still my pal, buddy or sweetheart, then yeah, I’m talking bout you buster. We all have our own personal measure of beauty, but baby you give me that sweetest ache deep in my chest, just like that feeling I get when I awake to a clear snow-covered mountain morning. You make growing old not such a bad prospect when I know I have you as my mirrored companion—-you pump collagen into this weary heart of mine. I’ll always follow you down.
Everybody’s scuttling about to secure their share of food and shelter, maybe even love scraps or its ghostly shadow locked within ones own pleading soul. Down here, it’s a macro playhouse of clogged freeways, early morning skyscrapers blooming above the yellowish haze, the broken, the woebegone, those lucky few with the taste of a new kiss still on their damp lips, old creepy guys in shiny new cars, commuters waiting on meaningless buses taking them to meaningless jobs, lonely guys on desolate Nevada desert roads seeking something just over that next ridge, plain Jane looking girls clutching romance novels with their ragged dog-eared dreams, a dog pissing on someones perfectly manicured rose garden, mountain thunderstorms, salty sea scented beaches, coconut smelling sun tanned bitches, grimy unshaven bums on skid row, blue birds on telephone wires joyfully singing above a gated community, breached levee’s drowning someones hard-earned promise land, someones first breath, another’s last—-uh-hum? Mister, most are gonna lie to ya, but not me—no sir!
All the wise ones, like the giggling Dali Lama, chubby Buddha, rabble rousing Jesus wear that same smug lil grin. They’re like a pack of good ole boys sharing some private inside joke. They know the jokes on us as we do our twisted dance with Maya. I feel my time slipping away, what will you do with your time here. I do know this, that regardless of my foolish carrying on’s, I’m a lucky guy, to be chosen, to be alive, to be wandering this blue spinning sphere—-a temporary oasis for those trapped by space and time, a far-flung and forgotten Eden set against a backdrop of flickering lights and mumbled prayers. I try not to forget this within each dissolving moment. I stare up at the night sky and I can’t tell the satellites from twinkling stars, but they’re all oh so pretty—and I wonder what becomes of my satellite wishes?