The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse

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Not recommended for bedtime reading

Soundtrack “Sympathy For The Devil” by The Rolling Stones.

I’m two beers and a shot past midnight as I make my way down a rainy street on a dying Sunday.  I pass an old rundown house that’s still wearing it’s Christmas lights in late March. What a sad and pathetic sight. But after all, everyday down here feels as morose as the day after Christmas.  I stroll past a group of bums huddled together under a tiny bus-stop shelter. They aren’t sad, they throw their heads back and laugh and hack deep husky coughs. I watch as they pass their generic cigarette around and count their beggars change to buy another bottle.  This is socialism at its best.  

I score a couple of rocks from a big black dude who’s street name is killer.  He has sleepy red eyes and a bulge under his leather coat that corroborates how he’d acquired his nick name. Killer is an evolutionary capitalist, his philosophy is that the big fish eat the little fish. He wears a face that says “Don’t fuck with me”. This corner is his domain and if you know what’s good for you, you won’t question his Province.

I lean against the wall of the damp alley and light my pipe.  I smell and taste that familiar chemical flavor I’d been craving.  I’d promised myself that this would be my last time and that tomorrow I’d straighten up and start writing my great American novel. Man, when I’m high I can feel a million stories exploding through veins.  I’d love to write some of this shit down, but I’ve pawned my computer, my phone————-my soul.  

The devil keeps my redemption locked up in a cage down in that fiery netherworld. Salvation is a hard thing to come by when the key to it is held by my worst enemy—– that enemy being me. You see, the devil isn’t in the drug, it isn’t in the guy who sell’s me the shit, it’s in the bullshit I feed myself.  We all have our devils and demons, but some of us just feed our’s better than others.  I’ve gone from believing I’m the master of the beast to realizing that I’m his slave in a freak-show.

I’ve decided that today will be the day I stand up and face the devil and his cadre of demons. I’m going down into the belly of the beast to do battle.  It won’t be as simple as one battle, it will be a lifelong war.  Satan has the high ground, he can give me extreme earthly pleasures.  He will make me feel like I’m right and the world is wrong.  He’ll support my victim mentality. But there’s a high price to paid for unearned luxury. 

There are only three types of people who dare trespass into the belly of the beast.  They’re either holy men, madmen or those who have come to the stark realization that it’s either fight for redemption or dive into those eternal flames.  I’m in the latter group, I’ve used up all my excuses and burnt all my bridges.  I’d worn out all my friends and family and squandered whatever potential I once possessed. I’m done waiting on someone or something to come and save me.  Salvation is a personal quest.

Some go into the belly of the beast and never resurface.  Some go there and resurface as a Bodhisattva.  And then there are those who lose their mind in search of their soul.  But if you’re gonna go down there, you gotta go all the way and you gotta go it alone.  No one can save you from yourself——–but yourself.

Hell is knowing that you’re a fraud, it’s hating yourself for becoming the worst possible version of what might have been. It’s intentionally pushing everyone away who cares about you because it hurts too much to have others care about something you’ve long ago given up on  My god, I’m fucked up——but here I am again, in the alley, siting on the curb with my feet in the gutter. Damn, it’s so hard to believe I can do better when I feel worthless.  Hating everyone and everything made my addiction bearable, these dark emotions fueled my self destruction.  Self hatred has robbed me of my most potent of tools; love and courage. When I descend into that inferno I will need love to be my sword and courage my armor. I’m tired of being ashamed——-tired of being sick, tired of being what I’ve become. 

I’m on a dark stairway that’s slippery from the blood of broken hearts. Above there’s a chandelier constructed of sun bleached bones.  There’s a chorus of horrifying screams and god forsaken moans from the other lost souls. In the background an organ plays its mournful dirge. I tentatively push open the squeaky gates causing a flock of bats to take flight.  The beating of their wings startles me.

There is a heaviness in the air, it feels as if this place is the center of gravity for all of the worlds unforgiven sins. I make my way down a candle lit corridor.  It opens up into a cavernous cathedral of horrors.  From the ceiling there swings decaying corpses with their red bulging eyes dislodged from their sockets. Drooling zombies rush about with dozens of hypodermic needles stuck  in their arms.  A goole hunches over a withering body as he repeatedly stabs at it and then licks the blood from his knife.  In the shadows ragged figures fornicate with half goat, half human creatures. This is not only the theater of the absurd, it’s a chamber of pure evil. Above me flying beast with bat wings screech and rain spit down on me.  The air is filled with an over powering oder of rotting flesh.  Creatures in chains with putrid breath scream out asking for mercy as they are being led by demons into a lake of fire.  From the lake comes the revolting smell of singed hair and burnt flesh. 

Every fiber of my being is telling me to turn around and bolt back up the stairs to a place of green fields, where I might negotiate for forgiveness and pray for the rarest of commodities——-a second chance.    Sitting upon a throne on a high riser sits Lucifer the prince of darkness. His eyes are red like burning coals, where his feet should be there are hoofs. He amuses himself with an anaconda as it curls and constricts around his arms and neck.  He bites into an apple and offers me a sinister grin. He stretches out his hand and asks in a deep throaty voice “How about a nibble? You look like a lover of forbidden fruit.”  I nervously shake my head no.  He stands up and yells in a death metal scream “What the fuck do you want?”   I try to speak but my mouth is to dry to form a word.  “Speak up you little bastard, a good servant should never makes his master wait.”  

I muster all my courage and manage to speak in a squeaky voice “I’ve come to take my soul back.”  He throws his head back and laughs.  “You’ve got a fucking short memory.  You signed the fucking contract. You traded your soul for all those little goddamn things you said you wanted, desired, needed.”  My fear was beginning to lean towards anger.  “You never gave me shit.  You used me.”  He looked me straight in the eye and laughed.“You struck a deal with the devil, what did you think you’d get, honesty, integrity? You’re gonna get what you fucking deserve, an eternal timeshare in hell.”  He removed his purple robe and spread a pair of huge black wings.  “Do you like my wings? I can give you wings just like these.  All you have to do is to continue to do my bidding.  Just keep being as bad and evil as you have been and someday you’ll have dominion over all this darkness.”  He offers me a mocking thunderous laugh.

“I don’t want your wings. I don’t want your darkness. I want my soul back.  Our contract is void because you never gave me any of the things I bargained for.” He gives a snide little snicker as one of his minions fly to his side and hands him a paper.   “Here is your contract.  Now let’s take a little gander at what you traded your sour for.  Number one. You asked for ecstasy and I gave you crack—check.  Number two. You asked for a loyal family. I gave you a group of gang bangers made up of thief’s, thugs and murders—— check.  Number three. You asked for a profession. I made you a thief to support your drug habit—–check.  Four. You asked for unrestricted sex with many.  I made you a prostitute to support your drug habit——check.  Number five. You asked for freedom.  I gave you the street and homelessness—–check. Number six. You asked for a purpose.  I made you an addict—– check.” “You tricked me.  You twisted my words and made a fool of me.”  “No shit, I’m the devil and that’s what I fucking do.  I break hearts, I steal souls, I tear apart families and friendships.  I’m a destroyer of hope, a revoker of faith.  And now it’s fucking time for you to pay up ass hole.” 

I stammered, “What about love? What about self respect?  Why can’t you give me those things?”  He just shook his head, “I can’t give you what you’ve never asked for.  Those are things only you can give yourself.  You should’ve read the small print kid.”  He points to the backside of the contact where there’s an extremely small line of written words. In a mocking voice satan reads from the contract. “By signing this contract I agree to no longer love myself.  I agree to shed myself of all integrity and self respect.  I will be an instrument of hate and loath everyone, everything——including myself.”  He stretched out his wings in a show of power. “Something you dumb shit mortals never seem to understand is that if you don’t love and respect yourself, then how the fuck can you ever love or respect anyone else.”   

He straightens the gold pentagram around his neck. “I have power over many things, but I have no dominion over love and ones self worth——those things are god given. I deal in the transitory sins such as desire, vanity, money, greed, drugs, pride, alcohol, sex, power and possessions. These are the tools that make it easy for me to enslave mortals such as you. These bargaining chips are extensions of the seven deadly sins, also known as the cardinal sins spoken of in Revelations. It never ceases to amaze me—–what evil mortals will do for such petty prizes.”

He spread his wings and circled around before landing in front of me. He encroaches into my space. “I’ll give you back your soul under one condition. You must deliver to me a man who rivals my evil, possesses my hate and has the power to deceive and divide humanity. I need such a man to lead  my apocalypse.  Do you accept my challenge?”  I allowed myself to show some bravado as I stared straight into his eyes.  “I know of such a man.  He worships all the things you have to offer. He’ll gleefully exchange eternal damnation for your earthly pleasures.  He will mount and lead the charge of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”  Satan nodded in confirmation.  “So be it! I will provide whatever is needed to make this monumental deal a sucess.” He grimaced showing his yellow fangs and exhaled a ball of fire that singed my eyebrows and hair.

I awoke face down in a dumpster.  In a daze I stumbled out of the alley.  Had I awoken from a nightmare or was this vision a drug induced hallucination? There lingered the smell of burnt hair in the air and the soles of my boots left a trail of bloody footprints.  I knew then and there that I’d struck a deal with the devil and this would be my final chance to redeem my soul. 

I opened my wallet to find it stuffed with hundred dollar bills.  I went to the most expensive tailor in New Your and purchased the finest suit that money can buy.  I then went to a spa to have my hair styled, a shave and a manicure.  I placed both my hands on my briefcase and summoned the credentials I would need to close this deal.  I looked in the mirror and was amazed at my transformation. If you can judge a book by its cover, then I resembled a wind swept hero on the cover of a cheap pulp fiction paperback.  

I sat in the back seat of my chauffeured limousine as it made its way down 5th avenue towards midtown   I opened my briefcase and retrieved a cellphone with the number of my contact preprogramed.  I pressed the dial button and waited for someone to answer. From the other end there came a stern and impatient voice, “Hello.” When I responded l was surprised to hear my voice come out with a thick Russian accent “Hello, I think you know who I am.   I’m your handler from the East. I was hoping that you’d be available for a discrete meeting? And, if you are available, I’d like to introduce you to the greatest deal maker of all time.”  I knew that this comment would set a hook in his ego. From the other end of the phone there came a gasp.  “Bullshit!  Everybody knows that I’m the greatest dealmaker that’s ever lived.  Who the hell is this person you’re speaking of, and what does he have to offer me?” “He has anything and everything that you’d ever desire, at a basement price.  In fact, he’s willing to take matters deeper than the basement.”  He responded “I’m a busy man, so this had better not be a waste of my fucking time. I’ll meet with you and your so called deal maker. I’ll show you both who’s the greatest deal maker of all time.  I’ll let security and my secretary know to allow you and your Monty Hall impersonator into my tower.”  

I felt that little head rush that comes when taking an elevator to the the upper floors.  The elevator stops at the thirteenth floor and in walks an immaculately dressed Lucifer. He tips his hat and offers up a sinister smile “Thirteen is my favorite number.”  I press the button for the top floor. The elevator doors opens and we’re escorted into a large office.  Behind the dark oak desk is a huge floor to ceiling window with a panoramic view of New York city’s skyline.  One might even mistake this grand office as heavens vestibule. 

“Please have a seat”  He gestures for us to take a seat in the leather chairs facing his desk.  “So, my Russian friend here say’s that you want to offer me one hell of a deal?”  The devil nod’s and begins “Yes, I think you and I have much in common and many similar interests and aspirations.  You are also a man of wealth and taste who possesses great intelligence.  You alone are the only one who has the capacity to rule this floundering world.” I sit back and watch as he sets the hook ever deeper into his narcissistic soul.  “I have the power to make all of your dreams come true.”   Feigning disinterest, he leans back in his desk chair and begins to clean beneath his fingernails with a pewter letter opener with the initials “DT” carved into the handle. “And in exchange for this what do want from me?”  “I will get to that, but first let me tell you of all the things I can lay at your feet.” 

“I will make you the most powerful man in the world.  I’ll give you authority over the largest and best equipped army ever assembled.  I’m offering you the power to destroy your enemies with the push of one button.  I will give you the ability to make your followers believe your lies as if they were indisputable truths. I will rain down on you billions and billions of dollars.  As for women, I will make it possible for you to lay down with Playboy centerfolds and Porn Stars.  I will make you more famous than the pope and you will be worshiped like the greatest of pop stars.  You will be famous with your name and face plastered on every magazine, TV news program and newspaper. You will have every material comfort that any man might ever ask for.  I offer you these things because I know that you are a man of discriminating taste and know the virtues of fame and fortune.”

He places his letter opener on the desk and folds his arms.  “You have my attention.  But what is it you want from me?”  “What I require from you is written within this contract.” He motions for me to open the briefcase and provide him with a contract. “I’ve taken the liberty to draw up a cursory contract itemizing the minor concessions you need to provide in exchange for all the gifts, pleasures and powers I will bestow upon you.”   

“Let me read to you the paltry stipulations required on your part. You must turn your back on those who’ve trusted in you.  You will side with the East cover the west and in doing so you’ll solidify your earthly power.  You will use your orator skills to deceive and manipulate the masses with lies and falsehoods.  You must use all your powers to sew divisiveness.  You will exploit the diversity in individuals and cultures to fan the flames of hatred. You will build walls to separate countries and foster mistrust. You must be willing to separate families and cage children. You will turn people against one another by promoting fear and hatred.  Through fear and hatred you will create friction between faiths, nationalities, races, gender, political affiliations and ideologies. You will take credit for the rising stock-market making the rich richer, while the less fortunate die due to the lack of shelter, food and water.   As chaos rages around you, you shall retreat to your castles and send out inflammatory rhetoric fueling your fires of divisiveness and hate.  Many are called but few are chosen, and because of your greatest, you are the chosen one.” The hook has been set, the line now drawn taut and all that was left to do was reel him in.

 He unfolds his arms and clasps his hands together.  “This sounds like a reasonable deal, but what about those who are close to me?   I must be provided with an assurance that I will have the power to pardon them from all earthly laws.”  “Yes of course.  I will also allow you the power to pardon yourself of earthly laws.  You will have dominion over all earthly laws because you will be above the law.  If this meets with your satisfaction all you need to do is sign right here on this doted line.”

He takes a golden pen from his pocket and reaches out for the contract.  Satan shakes his head and takes the pen from him and hands him the pewter letter opener. “I’m sorry my friend, but I’ll require that signature in blood.”  He takes the letter opener and grimaces as he pierces the tip of his finger. He then smiles “Sir, you drive a hard bargain but I’m the only one who’s truly mastered the art of the deal.” He pushes back his orangish hair to reveal a set of stubby horns. “As you can see I’ve acquired my horns. I can’t wait to earn my wings.”  

In order to retrieve my soul I headed back down into the belly of the beast.  “I’ve fulfilled my obligation and I’m here to retrieve my soul.”  The devil gives me a little smirk and responds “I’ve been thinking about you and was hoping that perhaps we might work a new deal.  I remember you once saying something about wanting to write the great American novel.  I could maybe help you out with that.”  I defiantly shake my head no.  He continued “Imagine having your novel being number one on the New York Times best sellers list.  I can arrange that.  In addition, how about having your novel recommended reading by Oprah’s book club?  I can make that happen too.  Maybe we could arrange to have that novel turned into to a screen play and a winner of numerous Oscars.  You’re so talented and gifted, it’s only right that you receive some recognition and compentsation for all your hard-work.”  I could feel my chest begin to swell with the thought of attaining all of these accolades.  “I’ve taken the liberty of drawing up this little arrangement and it awaits your signature.”  I take the contract and pen in my hand and stare at the dotted line.  I take a deep breath and hesitate.  I pick the contract up and tear it into pieces.  “I’ll take my soul back now—–and as for you—–you can go to hell!”

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse 

Although some interpretations differ, in most accounts, the four riders are seen as symbolizing Conquest, War, Famine, and Death, respectively.

The seven deadly sins or cardinal sins.

The seven capital sins, also commonly referred to as the seven deadly sins or cardinal sins, are pride, greed (or covetousness), lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth. These are thought to be the sins to which human nature is most susceptible, and they are said to be the origins of other sins.

A Child’s Rain

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Soundtrack “Bird On A Wire” by Joe Bonamassa.

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——-

Paint Me A Picture Green and Blue

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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…..

Paint me a picture green and blue.

Vitamin L Is Newly Discovered Miracle Drug

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Soundtrack “Shower the People” by James Taylor.

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.

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.

 

Bad Decisions

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Soundtrack by Coldplay “Sky Full Of Stars”.

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————-

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