(it is not) enough

Are you centered?

Are you grounded?

Do you know how to live a centered, grounded life?

Do you know how to become centered, grounded at will?

It is not enough to know things. Data. Scientific knowledge. These are nothing but tools. And, tools in the hands of a madman are weapons.

You were born with tools that are still relevant, regardless of what is going on in the world. You don’t need to rely upon the tools of (hu)mankind, because you have the tools of humanity.

The tools of humanity are:

radical love

curiosity

breath

movement

creativity

None of these tools can be turned against the possessor without the possessor’s permission. What we call the mind is truly curiosity. When thinking ceases being curious and remains constant in a particular direction outside of curiosity, the mind is now the mindless.

We use our creativity outside of curiosity combined with breath and radical love, and we create needless chaos.

Chaos often looks like rules. Rules that should be followed no matter what. Rules that have paradoxes built into them.

Many will tell you life, itself, is chaos. But, what evidence do we have of that? The acts of humankind are often chaotic, but humankind has moved outside of life. Humankind has sought, for many years, to control and manipulate life rather than be an example of life. That is chaos at its finest.

The idolatry of the human mind, of human thought, is the misuse of humanity’s tools and will always lead to more harm than benefit. We are not the epitome of life; therefore, our thinking is not the epitome of thought.

We idolize ourselves to our own peril.

Let us put down the tools of (hu)mankind. Those tools are:

righteousness

fear

comparison

polarity

condemnation

These are the tools (weapons) of an imperfect being striving for unattainable perfection. Radical love can assimilate any of those tools (weapons).

Because radical love is an inherently assimilating force and our human nature is radical love, we are always striving toward assimilation… even when we are allowing our humanity to be weaponized.

Assimilation is not the opposite of individualism. Assimilation as a result of radical love does not mean we all became the same. It simply means we all become one. And, since we are all one, anyway, radical love does not alter our status.

Radical love simply enhances what is already here.

Have you ever been in love with someone and they looked so very beautiful and attractive to you? But, when you were no longer in love with that person, you looked at them and wondered what you ever saw in them.

That is the power of radical love. It helps us to see the beauty all around us and enhances our powers of attraction. But, the attraction is only for everyone’s benefit. That is what healing is all about.

Radical love is the simplest antidote to idolatry.

Will you try it?

photo courtesy of Will O at unsplash

I, too, am a different drummer

This system, capitalism, is literally driving everyone insane and then the crazy people who love it and force it on us all make more money off of our crazy.

Crazy begets crazy. And, then, at some point, everyone’s too crazy to do anything remotely sane. Like… leave.

I just finished reading William Melvin Kelley’s ‘A Different Drummer’. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do. It’s probably available in your library loan system, as it was initially published in the 1960s. Unfortunately, the tale is still relevant and chronicles the mentalities of your average American neighbor.

The ending was hard to read. I couldn’t get used to reading the n-word over and over and over, again, but I could wrap my mind around why it was there. The ending was impossible to wrap my mind around.

It began a deep confusion and wailing within me, because it was just incomprehensible that the Black people at the end would be so stupid. But, it’s not incomprehensible, at all, really. I watch people. I see how often we choose the stupid action over the smart one. I’ve come to almost accept it must be normal to do so, since I see that, in general, we choose the most unintelligent options, as a society, and no matter the hue of our skin.

That the victim becomes its own oppressor is the most stunning aspect of most victim/abuser stories.

Currently, in our culture, we are seemingly obsessed with superheroes. There are regular heroes (always a sacrificial lamb, if the signs outside of hospitals and nursing homes these days are to be trusted) and then there are superheroes. They are the preferred kind, because they aren’t truly risking anything. They have their own stories and reasons for why they do what they do and those stories don’t really have anything to do with us. It’s as if having super powers puts you in a bind — be good or be evil, but you have to be something other than simply alive. You have to be selfish. And, you will be celebrated for it, because we love outlandish narcissists.

The messages of ‘A Different Drummer’ are compelling, and the writer does a wonderful job of throwing our lack of completion into our faces. We are not superheroes, certainly. We’re not even regular heroes, most of us, which is why we’re constantly searching our environments for validation.

The story allows us to contemplate just how incomplete we are as humans, if we give ourselves the opportunity to do so. Surely, we can all see at least a part of ourselves in at least one of the book’s characters. But a part would be all we’d be able to see, because we’re only allowed a glimpse into the characters, themselves. The people we are allowed to see most fully are a child and a coward. This isn’t going to offer us as much introspection as we deserve, unless we think about the world we are currently co-creating.

After reading the book, I searched for reviews of it. I wanted to know what other readers had thought of the story. I found one reviewer who was disappointed in the ending and who thought we, the readers, deserved better. But, the ending was historically accurate. Should the book have shielded us from reality? I was curious about how that particular reviewer identified racially. It seemed like such an immature response that it could have only come from someone who identifies as white.

That’s the power of capitalism: it compels us all to objectify one another. Some of us are better at it than others. Practice makes perfect. What is better practice for objectifying human beings than slavery? Who has practiced it more savagely than the American whites? Even today, the ideas and flawed concepts that allowed slavery to become white supremacy are gripped tightly. The greatest export of America is racism and the vehicle upon which it travels most expediently is capitalism.

I found the author’s placement of ideas most Euro-Americans seem to consider radical (anarchy, Marxism, communism, desegregation, and true liberty) to be quite interesting. The book never delved too deeply into those topics, but can you write about white supremacy of the Southern variety without bringing them up?

The enslavement of my ancestors and the take-over of our land was and is the backbone of today’s capitalism. The racism toward my ancestors was one of the vehicles upon which that capitalism was allowed to spread so easily and globally. I can’t help but wonder if the racists of America understand this connection better than the anti-racists. I often believe they do, which is why they refuse to unhand the tenets of white supremacy. Even the “libtards” enjoy shopping and shopping, as we currently enjoy it, is not possible without the foundation of slavery. Call it sweat shops, call it exploitation, call it whatever you want… it is enslavement. And, we all enjoy it in one way or another.

What will become of the experiment known as America? Without racism, what happens?

Perhaps we shall find out in my lifetime.

suffer the children

A culture that doesn’t recognize children as part of the collective is a culture prepared for its own demise.

In the United States, we still view children as property. They are like furniture: you can do with them what you like, including removing them from one family and giving them to another, at will. Their feelings don’t matter much and what’s in their best interests is only significant from an adult’s perspective.

There have always been adults in the USA who rallied against this domination and oppression mentality. But, since most of them do so from a distorted understanding of childhood, themselves, they often produce just as many problems and issues to overcome as their counterparts.

This is because viewing children as “other” is always detrimental.

Children are not fully-grown humans, but they are humans. And, their needs are the same needs of fully-grown humans: food, water, shelter, care, fun. These are the needs of every, single human on Earth, and some of the grown humans are constantly devising new ways to deprive other grown humans of those needs. And, when the grown humans are denied, so are the still-growing humans.

That’s how it works. And, most of us know this. It’s astounding how many fully-grown humans say they are working for the betterment of the situations of other humans. There are many, many non-profit organizations set up to offset the harm of for-profit organizations. But, like anything set up to counter a thing, they present the same harms.

Because the problem isn’t in the answer, the problem is in the question.

We are constantly asking: How can we make this better? And, the answers we devise are varied and multiple and, once implemented, bring more harm than good.

We see this over and over and over, but we don’t stop asking that question. The question leads us astray time and time, again, but instead of putting down the question, we dig in deeper.

This is the behavior of fully-grown humans who never experienced an appropriately human childhood. It’s tantrum behavior. It’s immature and irrational behavior. It’s reactionary.

But, if your childhood was spent reacting to the whims of the adults around you instead of forming thoughts about your life and experimenting with and discussing those thoughts with the children and adults around you, all you know and habituate are patterns of reaction. You don’t quite learn the difference between responding and reacting. You see them as the same thing, both valid.

Earlier today, I read that people cannot think in solitude. I would have laughed if the author hadn’t been so disturbingly earnest. The article was about the importance of schools, the necessity of schools.

But, schools have never been a necessity. Schools were derived as tools of indoctrination, and indoctrination promotes reaction not response.

Schools are not necessary, even in so-called advanced civilizations, because they don’t provide a single, human need… in a well-formed society. In a well-formed society, everyone’s needs are met: they have nutritious food and clean water, they have comfortable shelter from the elements, there are humor and games, and affection is the norm. In a well-formed society, this is all a given, not something to be earned, because well-formed societies recognize that human needs are human rights. None of that requires schooling and the younger humans will be educated in the needs and desires of that particular society, the one to which they belong.

The belonging is crucial. When we create schools, have we created spaces in which young people learn how to belong to the human family, how to belong to one another? Or are those spaces dedicated to teaching them how to belong to companies and organizations and put them in direct opposition to the human family and even one another?

Isn’t it time that we fully-grown humans started re-educating ourselves and re-examining our motivations, so that we don’t keep asking problematic questions?

When all your needs are met, “doing better” is a foreign concept. We have normalized the ridiculous, because that’s how we were taught. But, maybe it’s time to center our cultures, societies, and communities (and everything they produce) around the greater good of the younger of us. Imagine how much of what we’ve normalized will become obsolete in that world, a world where the needs of the children are truly prioritized and viewed as the needs of humanity (because they are).

We have been raised to normalize a false sense of progress. The fully-grown humans are not so fully grown… yet.

To fully grow into our human potential, we will need to prioritize a fuller human experience. That, like our lives, begins with youth.

photo courtesy of these children in Ethiopia and Trevor Cole of unsplash

answered prayers

Life is funny. It’s also amazing and beautiful. I think that when we don’t focus upon beauty, it’s harder to notice it in all the nuance of living. To focus upon something is to notice it more often. And, just because you’re noticing something now doesn’t mean it wasn’t always there. Attention is a gift that we get to use as we wish.

I’m going through a phase of maturity. It’s funny how we talk about that with kids, but we don’t discuss it with adults. We love watching children mature and we expect it, but when it comes to adults, we expect the opposite. We expect stagnation. Long, long years of stagnation until, suddenly, the adult is “old” and we expect them to have gained wisdom worth sharing with us.

What is wisdom but the result of maturity?

I made two prayers in deep earnest this past week and I’m glad I have the clarity to see that they’re being answered. It used to be that I would pray and then spend time feeling despondent because I thought my prayers were being ignored. Back then, I didn’t understand that answered prayers don’t always look the way you want or expect them to look. I mistakenly assumed that if a prayer wasn’t answered the way I wanted to see it, that meant it hadn’t been answered.

Part of maturing is understanding then accepting that things don’t have to be the way you want them in order for them to be true.

I think our societies and cultures are going through a maturation phase right now and I’m not sure how we’re faring. There is a lot of pushback against progressive, humane ideas and there is also a lot of nonsense being promoted as progress. Diversity of thought is still one of the things I find most interesting about humanity. No one is creating these things we call thoughts or ideas; they just descend upon us. And, we nurture them and take their growth and assimilation very personal. But, they don’t even belong to us!

Maybe our maturity doesn’t belong to us, either. Maybe maturity is a function of grace. I can accept that all I’ve done is prayed to be a better person, to have more clarity. I just desired and asked and focused. I accept that I haven’t done anything wholly unto myself.

That is maturity. Accepting that we aren’t living this life by our power alone is maturity. It’s humility. I used to think humility meant thinking I am less than, but now I know it simply means knowing that I am not all there is, that I am not the most. And, not being the most does not inherently equate to being less than.

For years, I could not understand or accept that. But, through grace, I now understand (and I don’t mind understanding or standing under something, because I know the power of bridges) and accept that humility is about perspective, not size.

With that humility, I can see answered prayers with more clarity. When I ask for support focusing upon my business endeavors and an opportunity for community disappears from my life, I don’t have to lament the loss because I remember the prayer. I am humble enough to accept the rationale that the more time I spend in community, the less time I’m spending on my business endeavors. I can greet that shift (because it’s not a loss) with a “Hallelujah”.

With that humility, when I ask to more fully understand why something happened to me in the past and I keep feeling the urge to watch YouTube videos that touch on more fruitful ways to move through loss and purpose, I understand that my prayers are being answered.

Some would call it coincidence, but I’ve lived enough to accept that there are no coincidences. There is only grace.

In this moment, I appreciate the divine guidance of my life. I appreciate the prayers that have been prayed for and over me. I appreciate the clarity and insight and maturity and humility I have been able to apply to my vantage point.

What a beautiful lens grace and humility and maturity create. It reminds me of those oft-lamented rose-colored glasses.

If this is what wearing rose-colored glasses is like, I’m okay. I’m going to rock these babies!

Image source unknown.

permission to disagree

The internet is a fascinating space full of thoughts. Thoughts and ideas of all sorts abound on the internet, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the comment sections.

I love comment sections, but I have to be in the mood to peruse them. I have to know myself and be content within my current emotional state in order to handle the comment sections with any finesse and grace.

Comment sections are the canvas of your global asshole’s pièce de résistance. You can find so much underbelly in the comment sections. But, underbelly makes the best bacon.

Bacon is a great euphemism for how we all manage our cultural differences. Pork bacon is controversial on the global front. Those who live in their own cultural bubbles may not realize it, but a great number of humans have never eaten pork bacon. For those in those cultural bubbles, pork bacon is the standard. Until turkey bacon was a thing, folks who eat pork probably had no idea there were other sorts of bacon.

I grew up eating beef bacon and I maintain that pork bacon can never compare. Pork bacon is too salty and too wasteful. It’s mostly fat and don’t we all know that the body stores toxins in fat? And, that pigs are literally fed anything? Most pork bacon stinks when you cook it. I rarely buy it, but when I do, I only buy organic pork bacon. It doesn’t stink up my house and it tastes a lot better.

It’s also expensive. Turns out, treating pigs like living beings worthy of the best life has to offer (if you can obtain the best within captivity) is not popular among the folks who eat them. I have grown to see that you can tell a lot about a pork-eating people by the way they treat their pigs. If their pigs are used as corpulent dumpsters, you know what kind of value system you’re working within. It will tell you a lot about their society.

I don’t want that pork bacon to be the standard for anything. Do you?

Christians are not, technically, supposed to eat pork, but you can’t tell that by looking in most of their refrigerators. Then, there are cultural Jews, ethnic Jews, and religious Jews. They all have the pork conversation. (I don’t know what happened to the Hebrews.) And, Muslims, of course, don’t eat pork. Except when they hang around Christians too much. And, try to be too American.

Pork is an entire thing, is my point.

One of my favorite things about Zen Buddhists is that they don’t eat meat… unless it’s offered. Like, there’s an entire vegetarian expectation, but if you’re not the one killing or buying the animal flesh, don’t be too picky. Some religions would have you believe you’re going to suffer through all eternity if you don’t follow the dietary dictates. Zen Buddhists are like “calm your tits”. Around food, anyway. Still not okay for the monks to touch a woman.

So much disagreement among humans about what’s most important, isn’t there? Isn’t it beautiful?

I find it nourishing and humbling and gorgeous that there is so much variety of thought and behavior among human beings. “Harm none and do what you will” is a completely ridiculous notion, but it’s the guiding notion of many of us.

We are all harming someone. Most often, ourselves.

And, that’s okay. I think to accept that you, a human being, are a harmful entity no matter how much you attempt not to be can be a realization of freedom. But, that, too, is dependent upon personal stance. Some of us thoroughly enjoy being hard on ourselves. We don’t like giving ourselves grace.

As someone who enjoys freedom, I’ve come to respect restriction. I’ve come to accept that sometimes, expansion feels overwhelming and people need walls to feel comfortable and safe. The rules and strictures we apply to our lives are a skin. Some of us shed our skin regularly. Some of us remain small. Some of us simply add more skin as we grow.

One of my favorite lines in a song can be found in Christian rapper KB’s song I Am Not the One. He says, “It ain’t a thick skin, it’s a new heart.” I have found that the nuance of that line is where I have landed. In comments sections, in deli sections, in relative time and space, I have learned that the skin is less important than the heart. If the heart is calibrated correctly, the skin becomes less of an issue.

With that heart, disagreement becomes a pleasure, an example of how beautifully diverse we are. I don’t need or want your agreement; I want to know your heart.

No matter where we stand on the question of pork bacon, we all have hearts. I love to see even the closed ones. Don’t you?

my new religion

Once, I received a religious pamphlet. I looked at it, read it, and wondered how the world would be different if we pushed a different kind of religion onto one another. Rather than a religion that uses shame to mold us into a diminutive version of ourselves, a religion that uses truth to expand and fill us. I imagine the pamphlet would say something like:

1- You Are Perfect

Everything you do is for the benefit of yourself and others.
Every thought you think is wise and full of creative power.
Your heart is loving and following it is never wrong.
You are a righteous being, even when you don’t realize it.


2- You Are Strong

Every step you take, every move you make is the correct one.
It will take you where you want to go.
You can make all your dreams come true.
No one can stop you from being who and what you want to be.
Persevere when you feel challenged.
Rest when you feel challenged.
When you stop moving, that is the right time for stillness.
To recognize the desire for rest is strength.
To take a rest is strength.
To move is strength.
To not move is strength.
There is only strength.


3- We Are Here for Each Other

There are many of us here so that we can work together.
We are here to provide for each other.
We are here to comfort each other.
We are here because we all have needs 
and our number one need is for each other.
Sometimes we will be together in motion.
Sometimes we will be together in silence.
Sometimes we will be together in distance.
When one gets up, another sits down.
We create this world together and we are all vital to this life.


4- We Promise to Meet Our Needs

When one is hungry, we will provide food.
When one is cold, we will provide warmth.
When one is lonely, we will provide companionship.
Whatever anyone needs, we will provide.
That is why there are so many of us: 
to meet everyone’s needs in a variety of ways.
Together, we have enough to meet the needs of all of us.
We exist for each other.  

Rejoicing in our joy, not suffering over our suffering, is what makes someone a friend. ~Friedrich Nietzsche~

parenthesis

you are

the mango

and

the tree,

the fruit

and

the fruiting,

the juice

and

the pulp.

you are

the roots

and

the soil,

the water

and

the thirst,

the tree

and

the grove.

(do not)

let us pull you from yourself,

divining your essence while

disposing your vessel

(do not)

let us bask in your glory while

denying your rights

(do not)

let us light our way with your brilliance while

casting you into the shadows.

you are

the before

and

the after,

the now

and

the then,

the beginning

and

the forever.

(do not)

let us in.

your mission, should you choose to accept it

Right now is an important time in our collective experience. This planet needs to be guided by those who are rooted in and growing in Love. There is a peace and an awareness that comes on the energy of Love, because Love is the only real truth. Love defies reason, has no explanation. Love simply is.

If you know this, if you live in this awareness, it is time to level up. It’s easy to level up in Love. Love does all the work.

Remember that you are simply a conduit in this world. You are the temple within which Love is stored and the point of storage is so that something is contained until the one storing it comes back to bring it back out, again.

Love stored is almost pointless. Love exists to spread like an invasive species. Love exists to cover and enmesh everything it touches. Love is like the most pervasive and contagious virus in existence.

But, it doesn’t make you sick. Quite the opposite. It heals everything it touches. Love is the healing vibration. Love is the awakening energy. Love is the clarifying touch. Love is truth.

Your job, as a contagious sort, full to the brim with this Love energy, is to spread Love far and wide. To fling it to the farthest reaches of the planet, of the universe, of the multiverse.

That’s your single job as a human being.

Here is a game to play, to help you realize the power of Love.

Sit quietly, holding someone else’s hands. Form a circle if there are enough of you. Everyone does the following:

Close your eyes and envision a white light coming from your heart and your mind. This white light represents Love.

Imagine that light spreading. It’s spreading within your body. Now, it’s leaking outside your body. Now, it’s surrounding your body.

Now, the light is spreading out into the space around your body. Think for a moment of everyone you’ve ever known, ever seen, even the folks you don’t remember.

See those people in your mind’s eye. See the web connecting you to them. Send the light into that web, into everyone connected to that web.

Send a message with the light: You are loved. Raise your vibration. It is time to raise your vibration and spread Love.

Hold that thinking for as long as possible or desired as a group. When you’re ready to stop, just open your eyes and go about your life.

your last breath

You breathe without awareness most of the time.

What if you took the time to breathe mindfully?

When you inhale, you try to fill your belly with air. Like a balloon.

When you exhale, you deflate your belly.

You close your eyes and repeat this short, short sequence. You place your hands over your heart and repeat this short, short sequence.

You are breathing your last breath.

Now, you’re breathing your last breath, again.

And, again.

And, again.

Now, you remember how good it feels to be alive.

false humility is a crime

If you’re a good person, just admit it. No one really cares.

This is what I’ve learned in life: the only people who are judging you by how good you are are the messy folks. And, they only judge you because they feel so horrible about themselves.

When they start cleaning themselves up, they judge you less.

Other good people just like being around you. They probably haven’t even had a coherent thought about your goodness, yet. They just feel good when they’re around you and that’s a good thing. It can be scary out there with all the people.

I don’t like it when good people can’t admit that they’re good people. There’s always a discussion about it and a kind of embarrassment. Why? We’re supposed to be good. It’s not exceptional, it’s the human default.

I think people tend to confuse goodness with perfection. No one is claiming that, I hope. I’m certainly not. I’m a good person. Why? Because I want the best for everyone, I tend to have good intentions, and I enjoy helping folks.

I’m just a basic human.

You can find these characteristics and tendencies in your normal 2-year-old. There’s absolutely nothing spectacular about being a good person, so I feel unable to get a big head about this.

It says a lot about what we have been programmed toward that we think goodness needs to be celebrated. Basic human decency has become a limited commodity.

Because we have normalized inhumanity, we find true humanity awe-inspiring.

Does that make sense?

Nope. Doesn’t make sense, at all. But, that’s what we’ve created: a world in which we think being bad is normal and being good is not as normal.

Both are normal, but we are training ourselves to look for the bad more than the good.

It probably started with our parents. They pointed out things we shouldn’t do. We had to pay attention to that. Some scientists will tell you this is human nature, to be more mindful of what’s bad. I don’t think they’re correct. Just because something is a statistical norm and people talk and write about it often doesn’t mean it’s human nature.

But, kids tend to want to please their adults. So, we were kids and we wanted to please our adults and because we weren’t perfect for your typical capitalist or patriarchal model of living, adults pointed out ways we needed to improve.

Some kids take that a lot harder than others. Some adults are harsher about it than necessary. Sometimes, you get a combination: really sensitive kid with really harsh adult. That’s a combustible combo.

But, it happens.

And, it also happens in a kind of reverse. We get those really sensitive adults who are quite horrible at providing appropriate boundaries. The kids in their lives could benefit from more rigidity and less fluidity, but they can’t bring themselves to provide it. And, if you get that kind of adult raising a really strong-willed kid, who knows what can happen? (Assholes, generally, but it’s all a crap shoot.)

One thing I enjoy about assholes (while we’re on the topic) is that they tend to lack humility. I find that refreshing. I enjoy people who just are who they are. However, that is also a tendency I dislike, because a lack of humility is often coupled with a lack of empathy. I don’t enjoy that.

What I had to learn was that what I really didn’t enjoy was false humility. Real humility, genuine humility is beautiful. People who know they aren’t the most important aspect of life, who know there’s a lot of mystery to living… I enjoy that. And, that’s all humility is.

False humility is what I see when people can’t accept any accolades for their amazingness. We should be able to celebrate one another because we are, each one of us, absolutely amazing! Our bodies are amazing, our minds are amazing, our abilities are amazing. Why would we choose to never acknowledge that? Especially when we live in societies and cultures that want us to dislike ourselves and mold ourselves to unnatural expectations?

Just because you’re not “that special” doesn’t mean that you’re not special at all. Of course you’re special! You are a mystery in the flesh. How did you even become you when all you began as was a clot of blood? Look at you… blood all grown up.

Don’t downplay that. And, don’t let it go to your head. That’s real humility.