Traveling is like being in between the worlds.
Moving through space and time… the passage
Time is a sequence of ticks. Tiny increments of movement. Filled with breath. Touching the earth in steps forward. Seen in the passing of light through the window. The spoken word. A glance. Rolling waves reaching the shore only to roll back on themselves. The heat rising in shimmers from the pavement. The pencil across the paper. Sounds of the cello playing up stairs. Driving rains. The brush of her hand. The shape of a tree leaf. Moving waters. Heart beats. Time keeps going. Unstoppable. It wastes nothing in the precision to present each moment as the opportunity to be exactly as it is.
It appears we are living in a time we could label with the quote, ” The more things change the more they remain the same” .
Humans are stubborn folk. Entrenched in the rhythms of sameness even in the face of extinction. The world burns and lines are still queuing up for the next gadget, tickets for the next great festival, the yoga self embodied empower retreat, find your sexual power summit, or new must have fashion accessory. We are distracted by the rush of “feel good” and “be you” as the world crashes into a hellhole of fire, decay, wars, and dirty waters.
I could ask why yet that is it’s own kind of self inflicted hell. A masochistic brain exercise I will leave for someone else to flaggilate themselves over.
In the nature of my work I hear the battle cry of change and revolution all the time. There are books, lectures, Gurus, teachers, classes workshops, YouTube videos, endless memes and posts about it…. one can and some do go broke on the investments to navigate change as a life choice/style. With all those resources and methods one would think we got this. We know this. We can do this. And yet… What I see is quite different.
“…I believe in coyotes and time as an abstract
Explain the change, the difference between
What you want and what you need, there’s the key,
Your adventure for today, what do you do
Between the arms of the day? I believe my shirt is wearing thin
And change is what I believe in…” REM
The willful denialism and addictive distraction to not feel the collective grief and suffering is painful to watch unfold. Yet, it is there all across the social media posts and in the faces of people trying hard to live. Just live in this world.
It’s get choked out with the bypass culture of look at my perfect life and you can do this too – just believe in yourself and have great sex with that perfect partner, work from home as an entrepreneur, Don’t dwell on the things that cause you to feel overwhelmed. Don’t focus the the negative. Etc…. and this gives the illusion of choice and change and the world keeps marching forward towards extinction.
The contrast to the reality of our situation and the response is a profound statement to the human condition. The more we’re shown the truth of how we are in the world the more we distract and dig our heels in. We come up with long complicated policies, projects, and procedures that get mired in the bureaucratic mud of government as time ticks away. Those wanting to grab the last bit of power and money continue to spread misinformation to suppress the truth and gain support for ther cause.
People feel helpless. They are worn down to the place of just surviving. They do as they are told and look for a savior in the form of a “fix” to make them feel something that makes all this seem like a life not wasted.
I just pointed out a whole lot of depressing stuff about where we are at right now on the planet. Some of you might be at different ends of the spectrum with this but we are all contributing to it’s continued health as a system design to crush life on this planet.
I titled this blog Change. Real change requires something very different from what we are doing. It starts with the honest awareness of where we are at and taking actions so radical that we no longer participate in the structures that have brought us to this place.
It is a commitment of noncompliance to the system that has us enslaved. The system that directs and defines our worth and then gives or denies based on the metric of your participation in system’s growth. It can only survive if we keep feeding it. And it has conditioned many to see their worth through that lens and fight for the system even when it does nothing but humiliate, isolated, and deny them dignity.
We have to stop. I wish there was some nice neat way to do it. But there is not.
Radical change can only happen when there is a radical shift in awareness followed by engaged action in a new direction.
I have spend the last two years pretty much homeless traveling around the country teaching and documenting this country’s reality. I visit my circles of communities from coast to coast. I take the pulse of their emotional states. I see their struggles just to be who they are. I watch them grow old. Have children. Some die. I have experience their magic and joy. I feel it is a blessing to have these connections.
In all this work to be aware, I have experienced poverty and wealth. I have seen the new and shiny and the worn out and homeless. I have seen things so beautiful that it breaks your heart in to a billion pieces because there is something greater out there. It could be some God or just the physical forces that drive this universe and it contains us. It created us. And it loves us without conditions.
I have cried a lot. I have sat overwhelmed wondering if there is anything I can do that is meaningful. I started writing. I want to share with you all what I see and maybe it will be useful.
My conclusions are limited to my experience. That experience comes from living as a witness to this world and watching how it treats people, places and things. What I feel is most important now, comes down to this, I think until we are ready to stop participating in the very systems that we know are our overlords to extinction and we are ready to fight for the a valuable life of dignity for all then, we need to stop pretending that we are investing in change. We clearly have not.
If we want the next generations to have all the resources and beauty we had then we need to protect the resources and places that are left with a fierceness that is equal to our love of life and living.
Every day we make one of two choices. We either chose to live or die. And all our actions will support which ever one we choose. That is probably the first change we can each do daily.
Some days I get up and read the news. Drink my coffee and attempt to make sense of the turbulent and messy place we are wading through right now on the planet. I’m an intelligent, highly skilled professional and even on my best days I find it difficult and challenging to sort out the truth from the ferment of garbage that is clogging up the entire internet and the world at large. It’s hard. It’s hard not to get angry and feel incompetent and inconsequential. Even hopeless and helpless. It wears you down.
Some people suggest turning off the news, not engaging in social media, cutting ties with negative people… or people who don’t support your views. Offering the sage advice of Joseph Campbell, “Follow your bliss….” or the Newage anthems of, ” Create your world”, “You attract what your thoughts focus on….”, ” Follow your heart….”, “Believe”… etc …
These give temporary relief to a much deeper set of issues. It supports the non- action, non-engagement, and the privilege some have to do that.
It is this action of looking away, pulling away and pushing away that is root of the problem. It is called emotional or spiritual by-pass. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_bypass
The avoidance of difficult feelings sets a danger precidence towards a purposeful denial that does not allow the resolution of those feelings. It creates a conflict with in the individual or group that seeks the need to numb out which can lead to self medicating, associating within social groups that share the same view that further the isolation. Over time this can lead to addictions and actions that insulate the person more to keep and elevated measure of dopamine in the individual and the “feel good” vibe going.
The piece for me that seem to get lost in all of this shuffling about is that challenges, difficult stuff, the seemingly impossible are the places where imagination and problem solving thrive. That is the stuff that makes the warrior. In mythologies and folktales these things are the tests the protagonist must face for the magical thing… the gift of wisdom… the key… Challenges are not against you they are for you to see the person you are in action. If you don’t like what you see then that gives you the metric for where you need to grow. Nothing grows in the world without breaking an old and sometimes no longer useful way of being. The cliche symbolic image for this of course is the seed.
As an artist I am all to familiar with this. My journey has been everything and every where on the life spectrum. It took me a long time to figure out how to stand my ground and do something in the face of challenges. Some were big and some were at times out of my control. Today, problems stimulate a process toward resolve in me.
Art has been a great teacher. Whether it is across a canvas or the construction of a thing. The years of training were all about how do I take an idea and make it real. I how do I take what is there and do something interesting with it. I learned how to draw by exploring all the tools and matetials for creating space on a page and then I drew apples on the table, my hand, landscapes, trees, nudes, the feelings, and visions in my head etc… until I came up with an articulation of my vision and intention.
Art takes time. It takes the effort towards mastery of one’s skill set and the ability to take the time to be in all the emotions and struggles that go into the process.
What Art taught me was how to approach almost anything and figure out how to create, fix, design, restore, recycle… I didn’t think just good thoughts or imagined my finished product. I risked failure, my limitations, my emotions, my ignorance, and all the other stuff that comes into place when I engage the “to do” process.
Now when I’m looking at the world and seeing the enormity of the craziness that it has become, I am willing to risk my skill set and knowledge for the challenge of maybe doing something that matters.
I feel this is perhaps the single most important thing we all need to do. If we are not willing to risk ourselves to the great challenges and changes that need to happen we will not know the powers of our humanity and its capacity to love as action and participation.
We are the ones to negotiate the next millennium. That will not be a reflection of our bliss or the size of a paycheck. It will be in the sweat and dirt we get under our nails in the creating, struggling process of know ourselves, each other, the world and how we want to live together.
It is everything and nothing
The most boring and the magical
It rips you apart from the inside and plunges deep inside as to cause breathlessness
It seduces and repulses
It nags at the lingering memories and cajoles you to continue the journey
It rises as a fury and fills your head with angst
It makes you forget the reasons
It reminds you that none of it matters
It tells you truth is not a slave to your needs
And love never was as small as you were taught to believe
It tells you none of it will last and it will always be here
It will not let you grasp it in your hands yet, you will be able to form it into beautiful things
All prayers invoke it
It does not age with time
It always remembers who you are
And will draw you back from the edges
It will teach you the songs
And sit with you in the long dark silences
It will drag you through the irrational and shake you awake….
A lot of spiritual communities and religious institutions talk about if we could see the soul of people we would be different. Kinder. Compassionate. Loving. Caring. This speaks to the idea of a universal idealized human or Spirit that is of a loftier less imperfect and the true essence of all beings. With out judgement or the hierarchy of social and cultural diversities. That idea seems to be a noble act… to recognize the Divine in each other… the bigger… grander… higher .. more evolved… light … etc.. of who we are.
Yet…. what if …..
It is the biology of us… the wonderous, complex gathering of cells and systems that we are….. This universe of flora, fauna, proteins, enzymes, chemical reactions, neural impulses, immune defenses, all the things that make up this body and the multitude of ways it expresses itself…. art, dance, music…
What if we took the time to celebrate that… to love it in all it’s systems and forms… the diverity and the experential.Would we be less inclined to destroy it? Enslave it? Abuse it? Wage war with and against it?
One of the questions we need to be asking today is….If we are assuming the Divinity of humanity as a soul… a spirit… as the greater truth of who we are…. doesn’t that in some way say it is ok to discard the husk… the body… to treat the container as less than?
It seems we are exploring this destructive notion in all the things that we are now doing to deny human beings rights, dignity…. love, nurturing, peaceful existence…. etc… because the biology is deemed less important than the spirit.
Isn’t that the opposite of what we say we want?
There is a point where we need to stop looking at the idealized human or the magicial spirit that is not of this world. It’s a archetype. A symbolic human. A dangerous idealogy that leads to exploitation. We need to embrace the very real viseral and messy of who we are. We are not just a spirit…a vapor… a light. We are flesh and bone. The complex biology of evolution and accident playing out the limits, possibilities of life’s many mysteries and ecologies. This process of evolution has been shaping us and reshaping us for billions of years in a constant progression of creation and adaptation.
I do understand the appeal for an idealized human. A divine human without warts and imperfections.
I am personally fascinated by religion, spirituality and all the ways this ideal is expressed. It is an endless tribute to the curiosity and imagination of humanity. Beautiful and delusional. Rich in pageantry and sensory stimulation. unifing and ostracizing… conflicting…messy…. very human….
Over time every group of people on this planet has created a cosmology about who we are, where we came from, some kind of before and after life story. They are as diverse as the places they come from. And we can not say any of them are true. Each serves the purpose of explaining and exploring the mysterious for a particular group. Filling the gaps, defining the moral direction(s) and embodiment of a community.
This dance of divine and earthly human unfolds in how we act and react to the world and each other. The choices we make. The art we make. The stories we create. We are hoping for an answer to our exchange of experiences in a seemingly beautiful and hostile world. We research…. try things out.. We blunder about… and mostly this procesd works. Yet these idealogies fashion the moral structures and laws we live in and sometimes die to keep in place.
I feel we are at a time where if we do not explore other perspectives in pursuit of meaningful change on this planet we are escalating extinction by greed, violence, neglecting and some kind of self hating. These things are self evident in the ways we are letting the world burn and the recent escalation towards war in the Middle East.
It is up to us to see a new way out of this. These old ideals around who we are and how we are in the world perpetuate the structures that become our communities/environments and these often come in and under the name of our spiritual and religious ideologies and practices. As the world today struggles these same things are becoming the foundations for policy, economic growth and a governmental moral directive.
I am sitting here in Florida taking in the recent actions of the President. I can not stress enough how this assassination is fuel for what could be another senseless war where the end is corruption, damaged men and women, huge debt “We the people” will pay for while the war mongers get rich off the backs of soilders, the plundering of resources and vulnerable civilians. We have been down this road before. Perhaps today we will realized the fallacy and consequences of violence as a means to creating peace and stability and take a different course.
These methods might bring the temporary truce of non violence and the appearance of peace yet, it is only a short reprieve from a recalculation to more violence. No one is inclined to make good long term decisions under a pointed gun. Bargaining under the violence only leads to irrational actions that serve for short terms relief. It creates a cycle of power exchange. The delusion of winning.
The atrition of war is not a guarantee of weapons reduction. It is a gamble that enough force will buy time and perhaps create the space for diplomacy. Rarely, does this work without human casualties, infrastructure damage, the lost of antiquities, and the rise of corruption and the destruction of cultures, societies, and governments.
It is I believe today, our duty as citizens to not comply with any declaration of war especially when it insighted with the intent for the personal gain of a corrupt, incompetent, misleading, and racist president.
Silence = Death
Silence = Approval
Silence = Violence
Silence = War
The spinning many layered skirt of a woman swirling with fluidity, color and dance
Filling the space with her assured steps and gestures she commands a kind of internal music offering the pollinating scent to birds and bats