Lets occupy space, lets pick up this body with these legs and dance from chair into thin air, tumbling through unoccupied space. I listen to my footsteps fall, this is the sound of me falling through time. I circle your orbit, eternal victims of one another’s gravity. Every step a choice leading me from here to there——- a journey fating me back to you
It’s like the sound of my voice in a large empty church, the words take on a hollow character of their own. They boom and echo forming meaning out of vibrations that break the fertile silence. We’re all lost and orphaned, calling out for someone to fill our sacred spaces. Its like hearing my secret thoughts spoken aloud, like someone reading my poems to a deaf congregation—cause nobody really cares that much about what anyone has to say, except for the words they whisper to themselves,——the best poetry is never committed to paper nor given breath———their resonance evaporates like hushed prayers pressed against midnight pillows.
All this empty space waiting to be filled. Fill it with life, with love——with you——-with me. I fill my space feeling you. Cause that’s all there is, you and me with all this infinite empty space erupting between us.
King of pain, the queen of sadness Broken hearted poet, the lonely troubadour With a smile, the key that unlocked your castle gate
Your ancient kingdom has crumbled The dragons fire takes our breath away Innocence lost to another defeated yesterday
The Sorcerer casts his spell Love awaits a truer destiny And once again, I”m tired of you, without me
My bridges have all been burned My ships all lost at sea I pray a storm will bring you back to me
And we’ll fly far from here We’ll share your winged mare A sword pierces the providence, buried within us
Autumn isn’t a season, not so much as it’s a mood, culling me in, breaking my spirit with its pockets of regrets—–with its naked trees and flocks of blustering leaves. I put on my favorite flannel shirt and make my way through a biting northern wind——All to soon this town will be covered with a blanket of white snow——-The smell of pine smoke comforts me…….Somewhere there’s a fire waiting to be shared……A warmer space to fill——
Soundtrack, “Old and Wise” by the Alan Parsons Project.
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.
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.
Soundtrack, “Do What You Want, Be What You Are” by Hall & Oats
Life goes on, with or without me. Fads come and go, hit songs become golden oldies, all my insecurities and self-conscious tendencies slip away leaving behind silent movie memories, like puddles evaporating in time—— seasons never end, they just change, a circle of revolving eternities….again I’ll wait for you to come round again—I’m no longer in a hurry, infinity is patient.
I use to give a shit what people thought, but I’ve come to realize that everyone is so self-absorbed that no one gives a damn about anyone other than themselves—-just a cavalcade of egocentric, narcotic sons of a bitches———And they move through life as though everyone else is a hollow prop, a means to an end, a thing to be manipulated for their own good. Why is it so hard for us to see this life beyond our own selfish experiences and desires?
It’s not that far of a walk till dawn, until Mr Sun bumps his head up against that dogged horizon. Ya see, light can’t wait for time to give birth to another day. I awake to find that I’m still here, alive and ready to breathe. I”m not afraid, nor sorry, cause that’s just waisted time, let the sky creep towards blueness and let the dew sparkle like diamonds to decorate the glory of forever forgetting, rebirth brings amnesia——Who were you before this? I think I must have known you from some other place and time, maybe a lover, a brother, mother, my child, aren’t we all somehow connected? Fools are the bitter ones, dismissing miracles, failing to see the expression of god within stars and dust——the lucky ones grow closer to the day, to themselves, to others,——to what is…….
The bathroom mirror mocks me. I dip my chin and turn my head one way and then the other. “Here I am——this is who I am, what I’ve become through choice and consequence. As of late I’ve become keenly aware of my two selves. My private self and my public self. I’ve lived a divided existence, a chameleon, a shape shifter, camouflaging myself into an unchanging innocuous background. I’m struck by the notion of congruency.
Somewhere along the way I’d lost myself. I’d allowed myself to fracture into a million faux personalities. I did this to please others, to protect myself, to fit in, to avoid indiscretions, to appear normal, to simulate appropriateness——I’d been a faker, a fraud—-These days I’d rather be notorious than anonymous. Authenticity comes with a license to be free, to be crazily sane, to be who ever you choose to be!
As I’ve grown older I’ve begun to allow my layered selves to coalesce into a unified me. Such a task requires practice, but at the end of the day it has liberated me. One of the blessings of aging is that it has stripped me of my vanities. I am who I am, no more pretending——the sky is the sky, my dog is my dog, life is life, what is “is” and so on and so forth….The simplest of ideas are the most difficult to grasp!
I’ve been thinking about friendships and it has occurred to me that my closest friends are the ones who allow me to be myself without pretension or expectation. They know me, they get me, and in spite of my faults, failures and foibles, they forgive me. Needless to say, these days I have fewer friends, but the ones I have help me become a better me.
To be understood is to be loved. And to be lovable requires honestly and vulnerability.
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
Soundtrack, These Days by Jackson Browne, go to “original post” press play and listen while reading—
Don’t ever let anyone tell you how to write poetry, not a teacher, not a book, a professor, a famous poet or some hip instructional manual touting “Poetry Made Easy”. Poetry is anything but easy, it’s floating to the surface in a bubble while praying that the pressure from the outside doesn’t become stronger than the pressure from within, it’s a tenuous balance——-in that stillness you’ll hear every creak and groan as you strain to hold yourself together….
There’s things deep down there that are bigger and wilder than you could ever possibly imagine. Its the stuff your conscious mind keeps chained and shackled and out of the reach of that prison we’ve come to accept as reality. There are frightening things down there—-bizarre things, sea monsters, demons, the eight armed Kracken reaching out for you, mountains of madness, deserts of despair, volcanoes spewing red rivers of woe. You may have convinced yourself that you’re in control, but mister let me tell ya, those reins are loose and easily snapped.
I dare ya to hold your breath and dive down into that murky deep. No one can stay down there for long—-some become entangled, confuse up with down—— they lose their way, they panic with eyes bulging, lungs bursting, blood streaming from ringing ears—- solitarily drowning in a sea of conceit. Down there you’ll come to know things that the faux world above could never teach you. But there’s a high price for trespassing into those depths——— “Enter at your own risk, Dangerous rip tides, No life guard on duty”.
Be advised: if ya poke around down there long enough you may bump into who you thought you were, maybe even a god or two—-and if you’r lucky, a kind familiar voice….These things that germinate in the dark are ironically impossible to see in the light—-it’s like the dark matter that comprises the majority of our universe—-these things are difficult to understand for simple creatures such as us, who are accustomed to composing reality from our puny five senses.
Some are contented to sit and stare at their reflection on the surface. But, if you’re a poet, then you need to take that perilous plunge. Leave behind your holy books, shots of whiskey, rosary, zen bells, mantras and slide rules, they have no power down here, in fact they’ll only camouflage your destiny.
Don’t let anyone tell you how to write poetry. Everyone has their own unique journey, you must find your own Dharma, your own Tao. The funny thing is—-as soon as you stop trying, it will flow through you——. Be still in that tiny bubble of yours, take the road less traveled, refuse to go gently into that dark night——find what you love and let it kill you, and burn, burn, burn, like a fabulous yellow roman candle that explodes like spiders across the stars———Pop*******
(This piece is intended to be read while listening to the attached song “Lessons in Love” by Level 42)
The doctor traipses through the door wearing a somber expression. It’s the face he saves for moments such as these. He looks to be in his late sixties with gray thinning hair, wearing a white lab jacket over a dress shirt and blue Dockers. A pair of silver rimmed bifocals are resting towards the end of his nose. He thumbs through my medical report and shakes his head in confirmation of what he’s reading. Without looking up from the final page he sighs “I’m truly sorry, but, well—-there nothing more we can do—-”. He’s a picture of detached professionalism, he might as well be telling me that my car transmission is shot. I squirm on the crinkly sounding paper that covers the exam table “What do you mean, there’s nothing more you can do?” He puts his hand on my shoulder and wistfully responds “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid it’s terminal.”
A fight or flight response kicks in and I feel a jolt of adrenaline shoot through my veins. I instinctively jump to my feet escaping the examining table with its protective paper that clings to my sweat glazed skin. “You’ve gotta be kidding me. There’s gotta be other alternatives, other options—-experimental treatments—-.” He offers me a weary nod that expresses a sense of futility. “I’ll change my diet, join a gym—-become a vegan? I’ll quit the beer. I’ll fast. I’ll drink vitamin shakes!” I’m not schooled in all the stages of death and dying, but I was obviously in the bargaining phase. “I’m still young, I feel better than ever.” The Doc rubs his wrinkled forehead and then removes his glasses “This is very common, one day you’re running a marathon and making future plans and the next, well—-” his voice trails off as he grimly shrugs his rounded shoulders.
Feeling emotionally and physically exposed, I self-consciously fuss with my hospital gown in an attempt to better cover my backside. I mumble under my breath, “You’d think with all the advances in modern medicine they’d come up with a better way to cover your ass than one of these flimsy butt curtains. I swear, you’ll see more ass in a hospital corridor than a strip-club.”
With all the melodrama carved from a climatic scene of a soap opera (sweeping organ arpeggio not included) I blurt out “How much time do I have left?” The old Doc straightens his starched lab coat and takes a deep breath “When it comes to these sorts of things, well—it’s hard to say. It could be today, or you might have another fifty years.” “What?” I stare at the report in his hand, “Well, what does that fucking report say?” He nods with a sheepish smirk “Oh this, it says you’re perfectly fine. I’m sorry if I’ve confused you, or frightened you.” Folding my arms over my chest I respond “As a matter of fact I am confused, and more pissed than frightened. What the hell are you trying to tell me? Am I well, or am I dying? What the—-” In a gesture of sympathy or perhaps pity, he puts his left arm around my shoulder. “There’s a little secret us doctors keep from our patience.” My voice is becoming louder and more frustrated “Secret, what little secret?” “Son, we’re all terminal. We don’t like to spread this kind of medical diagnoses around.” He squints his eyes displaying a painful grimace, “It’s rather—how should I say—–well it’s—–it’s bad for our professional image—–and it’s really not good for business.”
My sense of anxiety is replaced with a feeling of shock “So I have a reprieve, I’m gonna live?” He slips his hands in the pockets of his spotless lab coat “Why no silly, like I said, you might stroll out of here today and be hit by a Mac-Truck or have a massive aneurism. Or, you could carry on healthy and strong for another fifty years. But make no mistake about it, you are terminal and your days are numbered. And when that day does come, there’s no magic pill or fanciful medical treatment that will extend your life another year, another day or another second.”
He glances down at his watch “Times a wastin, I gotta get down to the commissary, the Women’s’ Auxiliary is having their annual cheese ball sale—Oh my God, they are to die for—-Oops, sorry for the poor choice of words.” He gives me a hand shake and a wink. And with that, he turns and walks out whistling a lose arrangement of “American Pie” by Don McLean.
Later that night I fall asleep and have pastel colored surreal dreams. I’m in a strange cosmic flow between reality and fantasy. I surrender—-I no longer fight against anything—-I desire nothing. I feel no need to assert my will, The “I” in “I am” is gone. There’s a sudden sharpness to the existence of nonexistence, awareness of unawareness, the un-conciseness of conciseness—-I’m at a place where all things intersect—-there’s a nothingness toall that is, and an everything-ness to all that it isn’t. That gibberish is hippy-talk for saying—I feel good,—all is as it should be,—–I’m in the flow—-
I wake up the next morning feeling refreshed and born again—-I finally understand that esoteric term “born again”. I pick up the phone and call my office. The operator connects me to my boss “Hey John, yeah its me, I’m not gonna be able to make it in today. No—I’m fine, in-fact I’m feeling great. I just feel too damn good to spoil it by coming to work.” I snicker to myself “I guess I’m calling in well.”
There’s a long pause “Did you win the lottery or are you drunk?” I laugh “Yeah, I feel like I’ve won the lottery and I feel drunk too, drunk on life—baby.” John’s voice becomes more curt “Now listen here, those quarterly reports are due next week and all those spreadsheets of yours need to be updated and posted. Cut the crap and get your ass down here—-now!” “No I’m sorry John, but like I said, I’m calling in well. I just feel too damn alive to be holed up in a stuffy cubicle all day staring at a computer screen—-it would bum my stone man.”
There’s another long pause. I hear a deep sigh come over the receiver “So, you’re calling in well. Now isn’t that some crazy shit—–. Okay, I’ve gotta hand it to you—-you’ve got balls. And I hate to say this, but at some crazy-ass, luny level, I’m gonna give you the benefit of the doubt. Why? I don’t know. But I’ll take your lame honesty any day over someone’s phony ass hoarse voice, whimpering to me that they’re sick. I guess ya got to do what ya gotta do.” I think to myself, damn—this honesty is some powerful shit!
I’m not sure if I want to take a shot of Jager or a shot of wheatgrass. I put on my baggy shorts, tank top, flip flops and head off downtown. I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the plate-glass store window and damn, I look pretty freakin good. I’ve got my tunes blasting from the speakers in my backpack. I’m diggin on the song “Lessons of Love” by Level 42—I never even use to like that song, damn—where the fuck did the 80’s go? I’m walkin in rhythm, I’m shakin it down like Ellen Degeneres (now, that’s kinda creepy too)—-but who cares, cause baby I’m movin and groovin—I start clapping my hands and laughin out loud like some sort of crazed madman.
I taste the diesel in the air and I suck it in with a smile. I cruz past kids walking home from school and they fall in behind me smiling and dancing,. Birds chirp, horns honk, an alley cat creeps by. A stray dog sniffs the air and then prances in rhythm behind the kids. I drop a dollar in a homeless guys cup—he falls under our spell and joins in, dancing and snapping his fingers at the end of our urban conga-line—. As we pass a Starbucks, a throng of patrons empty out of the patio and find their place at the tail-end of our looney parade. Out of the corner of my eye I see John my boss staring down from his corner office window, he shakes his head and gives me a half hearted thumbs up sign——-all of life is sweet and beautiful—-I’m in it—-we’re all in the flow.
“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” Jack Kerouac
What’s success—What is a life well spent? When does a dream become so laden by time that it’s easier to set it aside, to just quietly lay it down, to allow it to cease to exist—-to concede that it’s no longer a part of who you are. Is this how we begin to lose our way, to forget who we are—or worse yet, give up on what we were meant to be—
I mostly remember her smile, her laugh, the way she walked next to me, excitedly talking as we made our way across the best part of the morning, moving together, stride for stride, word for word—-heart to heart—-afire with life, fueled by the strongest drug of all—that unexplainable euphoric feeling that comes with knowing you are understood. Love is an elixir that combines understanding with compassion—where there is dharma, there is no separateness.
At night, we’d lay in our bed talking, staring up into the darkness, and when it got real late and the room was totally cloaked in blackness, it was here—yes, here is where the magic would take hold. We weren’t speaking to one another, but instead, we were entering each others thoughts, inhabiting one another’s souls, sharing ideas and feeling telepathically, in a silent confessional—-the conversations were strung together more by the purity of emotion than the imperfection of words. Just like a tightly written poem or a an austere prayer, the words cracked open, and from their insides oozed our soul goo. I know this must sound funny, because it is strange—but oh so beautiful and rare—-all things of beauty are fragile and temporary—but we didn’t know this at the time, so we carried on until another jealous sun rose.
I’ve forgotten the words to that old song we use to sing—I’d find myself half humming and half singing it in a crippled attempt to get through to its end, or maybe it was in the hopes that I might resurrect something left behind within its faded melody—I’ve done my best to stay true to its tune , but the words have grown faint.
I’d call, but numbers change, email accounts close—-but mostly, I keep at a safe distance, because some memories are like impressionistic paintings—-where you can see what you choose, while overlooking all the tiny flaws and betrayed truths.
Sometimes I force myself to meditate on such things, and I will my thoughts out into a porous sky, focusing all my energy into a small shiny ball. If ever you awake in the middle of a dark night and feel a power moving through your veins, crawling under your skin, breathing on your neck, don’t open your eyes—-don’t speak, don’t even move—-just be still, and in that moment feel yourself open up—
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.”
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—–