Monthly Archives: May 2019

What I Keep Forgetting

Today has been an interesting day, a kind of culmination of thoughts and energies. I’ve battled depression all my life, even as a child. Sometimes I deal with it well, other times, uh, not so much. I have quite a set of tools for dealing with afflictive emotions in a healthy manner, but one of those emotions is often apathy, and an apathetic man is not prone to picking up tools, much less using them.

But today I remembered to change the on-going negative dialogue in my head to a positive one. I spent some time meditating about a goal I want to achieve soon, and then I took action to cement my intention. I felt significantly better. Part of that meditation was remembering things and people I am grateful to have in my life. Gratitude is so powerful to combat feeling low—remembering all that you’ve been blessed with rather than focusing on what you think you need. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you probably have everything you need. If you don’t, I hope you soon do.

Congruent with this positive thinking was a martial arts class I attended. I was uke in an Aikido demonstration this weekend, and the person performing the techniques in the demonstration also taught the class tonight. My friend and sempai says, “Martial arts are a metaphor for life.” I believe this to be true: the principles taught in the arts of combat apply directly to living. In tonight’s class, we practiced “riding the energy” of the attack. This isn’t a concept I want to go deeply into as far as the martial applications, though I’ve included a low-quality video of the Aikido demonstration that displays this concept fairly well.

This concept of “riding the energy” applies directly to dealing with depression too. Instead of resisting what life throws at you, including a chemical imbalance in the brain, one can learn to blend with these circumstances—ride the energy of them—and redirect that energy into a positive outcome. In my case, I recognize I want to change my living situation. Instead of feeling hopeless and consequently begin my negative self-talk, I acknowledge my discomfort as imbalance or disharmony in my life, and take steps to change it. Just this change in thought has already made me feel better, thus making it easier to achieve my goals. What I keep forgetting is to stay aware of my mind, and in control of it. Left unchecked it tends to lead me to unpleasant situations. If I keep training, meditating, and writing, then I’ll keep remembering how to keep my life in check. I’m grateful I have these tools and opportunists to draw on when things start feeling bleak. If you watch the video, I’m the guy getting tossed around for most of it. I wanted to post the video, but WordPress wouldn’t allow it, so I uploaded it to YouTube and provided the link.

https://youtu.be/IC4WZ_wUUts


Secret Garden

My grandfather on my mother’s side always had a green thumb. He loved to grow plants. I have fond memories of his humid greenhouse bursting with flourishing fauna. It seems he’d passed this love of growing on to one of my uncles who, as a teenager, attempted to grow some clandestine pot in the attic.

If you’re a parent, you know how un-sneaky your kids can be when they think they are being sneaky. My grandparents couldn’t help but hear him clambering around in the attic. He’d disappear and they’d watch cracks appear in the ceiling when he occasionally missed a rafter as he shuffled about in the cramped space.

My grandfather, rather than confront my uncle and lecture him, waited for him to go to bed one night and did a little clandestine planting of his own. He swapped out the pot seeds with those of radishes, and listened each night as my uncle tended carefully to his plants. As the family story goes, he took excellent care of those radishes. My grandparents very much enjoyed observing him meticulously tend to his plants, and I can imagine them biting their lips in stifled laughter.

I don’t know how long it took my uncle to figure out he wasn’t as sneaky as he thought, but I imagine he endured a hearty mix of anger and embarrassment. I only hope I can parent my soon-to-be-teenage children as creatively as my grandfather did with those radishes.


A Few Poems

 
 
 Breakfast

 on my knees
 sickly genuflecting
 biting a needle
 pinching a cotton
 I prepare to receive
 my daily sacrament
 communing with a false god
 omnipotent for all I know
 I pray that isn't so
 
 
                             Doing Dishes 

                            This grin cracks
                    in the mirror
                         like an old plate
                      used too long
 
 
                      Ceramic teeth—jagged shards—
            clatter-dance ‘round a blood-rust stain:
                  the drain agape and unsated—
                  a silent throat of slime
                 where a painted flower façade  
               finds relief in the breaking 
 Kamikaze   
 
 I fly my love like a kamikaze
  grasping at divinity through reckless devotion
 knowing it always ends in flames
    and smoking ruin
 
 

If I Had a Lover

If I had a lover
She'd be ethereal and free
She'd dance among the midnight sprites
And sing sacred songs to me

If I had a lover
Her beauty would mesmerize
Gleaming like the moon and stars
Bejeweled in nighted skies

If I had a lover
She'd be soft of heart and kind
At her touch the most tangled knots
Of sorrow would unwind

If I had a lover
No longer would I grieve
For in her loving, laughing presence
At last I'd find reprieve


More God Talk

I wrote this January 17th, 2017, but I wanted to include it now because it is semi-relevant to the last post. Here ya go:

“And my god is a frail god and very thin-skinned and sensitive.” –David Cross

I have been or am a skeptic, an asshole, a solid cat, a childish prick, an inspiration, and a disappointment. In other words, I’m just another human like you, presuming you’re a human. I have my doubts sometimes. And as said human (and skeptic), I’ve had a rocky relationship with religion and religious folk. But I’ve recently had several humbling experiences during which I was in the presence of something awesome (that’s awe-inspiring to you slang aficionados like myself, but whose intelligence I’ve just insulted—I warned you in the opening sentence: I’m a dick.) That “something” was sentient and terrifying and compassionate all at once, and I don’t pretend to understand it, but it was definitely a higher power. I didn’t expect it to be there, in fact I had my usual doubts, and I didn’t “kind of” feel it. It was in my face like a celestial gangster. And I’m not trying to convince anyone or defend it. It doesn’t need defending. I’m just speaking with those who’ll listen about something important to me.

Those who know me might understand how this shakes up my world view. And, this is me choking on a lifetime of rebellion, but Christ (as in Christ consciousness) refuses to be ignored, despite all my efforts to keep that troublemaking rebel out of my worldview. I think I would’ve liked the guy personally, but damn, I’ve had an ass-full of Christians. Not the good ones, you’re cool as hell, or, uh, heaven, but the others. You know who you are, especially the God Hates Fags knuckleheads. Enjoy your visit to Reno at my brother-in-law’s funeral? Thank you to the bikers who held up American flags at his veteran’s funeral to block the family’s sight of the Westboro Baptists, and revved their bikes loud enough to drown out those jackasses. All the lawyers in their stupid army didn’t make them feel safe that day. My heart and thanks goes out to you all, even the dude sporting the SS hat in the newspaper picture. I’m sure we wouldn’t see eye-to-eye on much, but thanks man. I guess God Hates Reno now, too. Who didn’t know that?

I set out to write about a concept in martial arts called the indomitable spirit, and this is what came out. I thought I was off topic, but I realized I’m not. I recently lost that indomitable spirit. I was real close to broken, on the verge of hopelessness, consumed with apathy and barely able to function despite being physically healthy. Having the experiences I did reached into me, laid bare my deepest sorrows, and healed me with unrelenting and unconditional compassion. Good news—I got my indomitable spirit back.

I’m human, like most of you, so I’ll never be fixed, but I’ve been able to start putting the past where it belongs, which, by the way, is not in the future. And, like a cliché quarterback millionaire, I have to say it’s all thanks to that God thing-whatever you want to call it (I think God can probably take a joke, fuck he/she/it seems to pull plenty of cosmic pranks…), and my family, friends, and gifted mentors.

So the point of all this rambling? I’m not sure, just some stuff I wanted to express. I guess I mainly wanted to encourage people to understand that the path they’re on is the only one they can walk, and if someone criticizes you or doesn’t agree or whatever, smile, give ‘em the finger, and let them trip on their own stones. I’m sure you’ve got plenty of your own to deal with without their judgement. I invite your comments or whatever. If you read this, thank you. If it pissed you off, then at least I know it’s effective art. Namaste motherfuckers.


Further, Darker Experiences with DMT

Last time I wrote about DMT I had nothing negative to say about it. Well, I feel I should amend that somewhat; my second experience with it was nothing like the first.

I had the rare privilege of being invited to several religious ceremonies that were actually life-changing for me: I was a skeptic going in and each time felt the presence of something divine or awesome, definitely greater than me, sentient, and something which I could not help but be humble before. A friend of mine, who invited me to these proceedings, warned me against mixing medicines—a warning I treated like most warnings and ignored. That, my friends, was a mistake.

I met up with my homie and decided to partake of the DMT foregoing any ritual. I hit the DMT, which tastes like the asshole of a burning tire by the way, and immediately felt like I was completely naked, exposed, vulnerable, vomiting, and dying. I fucking thought I was dying, and I’m not going to lie, it terrified me. There were no celestial beings to welcome and teach me this time. Luckily, I was still aware of my trusted friend’s presence. I don’t know if this was the case for sure, but it seemed at the time like the only way my spirit could find it’s way back to my body and I could continue living was by that presence guiding me back.

When I came to I was fully clothed, and had not vomited, but was definitely still reeling in the fear of death. Unpleasant as the experience was, it was still informative. That little taste of death made me, a somewhat self-destructive person, realize how much I really wanted to live. It also taught me that these powerful medicines and sacraments are not to be played with. They are life and death and should be treated accordingly. I’ve done a great deal of hallucinogens over my life, and I consider those separate drug experiences. While the uninitiated may think these medicines are just drugs, I disagree. They are literal sacraments; they plug you into the divine, which has been rough for me each time, but completely rewarding in the long run. They are not short cuts by any means.


I See…I See…

About six or seven years ago I took my kids to see the fireworks on July 4th. Rancho San Rafael Park was absolutely packed. I had one child riding on my shoulders and the other, who has difficulty walking due to a stroke—especially back then, stumbling along beside me. The deepening nightfall made it increasingly difficult for my son to walk without falling on his face, so I finally found a few cubic feet of space and decided to stop before my son broke his ankle.

The whole crowd was standing, and I had my youngest child still on my shoulders so he could see the fireworks. That’s when I heard the mewling, annoyed voice.

“Thanks for ruining the fireworks for my family. Now my kids can’t see anything.” I was already irritated by the situation, and these complaints did little to alleviate that.

“You could just ask me politely to move,” I responded, making no attempt to mask my own rancor.

“My family got here early to pick out a nice place to sit so my kids could watch the fireworks, but you show up at the last minute and block our view. Thanks for ruining the holiday for my kids.” I turned around to face this woman, actually calculating how fast her husband might respond after I socked her in the face. I wouldn’t have done such a thing, most likely, but the fact that I thought about it at all shows I was not handling the situation or my emotions very well.

That’s when my youngest son intervened.

Perched atop my shoulders, he waved his hands over my shaved head, stared at it intently as if looking into a crystal ball and said, “I see…I see…an angry woman.” It took everything I had not to laugh out loud. He instantly diffused the situation. My thoughts of violence vanished and the “angry woman” even apologized and offered us cookies. It was a good thing there was someone present smarter than the adults to keep things from getting out of hand. One of the many blessings of children is that they remind us not to take ourselves too seriously.

IMG_20190513_202917


Beware the Sand Shoveler

Sand Shoveler

I have a friend who is a hard-working carpenter. He’s compassionate and generous to a fault. He’s quick to laugh and easy to get along with. Because he’s dealt with a good deal of adversity in his life, he possesses empathy for people who walk difficult paths.

About a month ago, this friend of mine was shoveling sand into the back of his truck to repair a water line at his home so his family could have water. He was parked in an area designated for just this purpose—people come and get sand. I don’t know if the cops were called or just happened on the scene, but a sheriff arrived to investigate what the media described as “suspicious behavior”. The sheriff patted him down and discovered he was carrying knives—also known as tools. Carpenters carry tools; they’re weird like that. My friend was compliant and handed over his knives, and when he was searched the sheriff discovered my friend was in possession of small amount of narcotics. Due to the cowardice and incompetence of the sheriff, things quickly got out of hand.

The sheriff had my friend interlace his fingers and put them on his head, which he did, and the cop took hold of him. Back pain and construction go hand-in-hand, and the sheriff repeatedly forced my friend, who was being otherwise compliant, into a position that caused his back to spasm, forcing him to adjust his posture. My friend asked this thug to stop hurting him, and tried to tell him he couldn’t hold that position. The officer, despite being in no danger, felt threatened by this and took my friend to the ground and proceeded to strike him repeatedly. Perhaps he forgot his job was to serve and protect (and de-escalate), not pretend he’s a fucking cage fighter against someone who can’t even protect himself without risking great consequences. The sheriff punched him something like seventeen or eighteen times, and at no point did my friend attempt to fight back. All he did was try to stand up—a natural enough reaction when another human being is savagely beating you.

The media had a slightly different take on the situation:

That’s when, the deputy reports, the man became uncooperative, broke free and ran, leading the deputy after him. That led to a struggle during which the deputy was unable to free his hands to call for help.

“That’s when our Good Samaritan came to the rescue,” Sheriff Balaam says. “She observed the violent nature of the struggle and immediately called 911 so that dispatch could advise other responding deputies about the urgent nature of the situation.”

There’s several problems with this interpretation. First, my friend told this hooligan where he lived. His truck was parked there. Why would he run? Where would he go? The only reason this gangster in blue couldn’t reach his radio is because his hands were occupied trying to smash in my friend’s face. If he felt threatened, he could’ve asked my friend to sit down until other officers arrived, and he would’ve done so.

I’m not only sickened by the complete lack of the officer’s ability to control the situation while dealing with a compliant person, but I’m disgusted by the media and the police and the so-called “good Samaritan” damn near breaking their collective arm patting themselves on the back for averting near disaster. Fuck each and every one of you. All you averted was a working-class family man from providing water for his family. Yeah, he had some drugs on him. Did he break an unreasonable law? Yes. Should it be up to the government to regulate what we put into our bodies if we’re not hurting anyone? Fuck no. And should citizens be beaten instead of restrained by incompetent officers? I don’t think they should.

I recognize police have a difficult and dangerous job, but I also think that because of their position, they have a duty to conduct themselves in a professional and civil manner. An officer, like any human, should protect himself when in danger, but I would hope they would be able to discern the difference between a compliant person and an actual threat.

My buddy took it all in stride. Whenever people asked what happened to his face he told them the truth—not such good publicity for the cops. His sense of humor gave birth to the Sand Shovler—a heinous, dangerous deviant who should be avoided at all costs. Beware the Sand Shoveler. Luckily, we have the police to protect us from such horrors.


				

Laughing to Keep From Crying

It’s been several years since I posted anything new in this blog, and those years have not been easy. I spent some time in jail, I lost custody of my kids, and until recently, made less money than I did when I was ten years younger. I’ve struggled with bi-polar disorder and the drug and alcohol addiction that commonly accompanies it most of my life. Those struggles have changed, and I think I deal with them better now, but I don’t think they’ve lessened much as the years progressed.

It hasn’t been all bad though. During the short time I spent in jail, I forgave my ex-wife and my father, and in doing so put down a heavy, burning hatred I’d been carrying around for far too long. Later, I experienced God in an undeniable way for the first time while attending a church the laws of this land forbid me to, and in that place my broken heart was healed, returning to me the capacity to love. The hardships I’ve endured have humbled me and instilled in me an empathy for those whose accrue a greater share of suffering in this life than most.

The best way I’ve found to deal with life coming apart at the seams is to keep a sense of humor about it all—as much as one can. Believe me, I know there are times when one can laugh about as easily as he or she can shit gold. However, a certain fatalistic gallows humor has served me better than dwelling constantly in sorrow and hopelessness. Things are looking up again: I’m writing, I’m spending time in the dojo, and I’m staying as positive as I can. If you’re reading this and feeling totally fucking hopeless, then I encourage you to hang in there and maybe try cracking a few jokes about the situation most people will probably find in bad taste. What people think matters not, especially if you can find some way to smile, or better yet, laugh.