I was slogging away in the triple
digit Nevada heat when I received one of those phone calls we don’t
want to get, yet keep the ringer on all night so we don’t miss. A
long-time friend of mine was beaten and left in the desert. He died
in the hospital.
collapsed in the dust amid my scattered tools. I sobbed, choked on
despair. I was slammed by that irrevocable sense of loss—the
emotion of death—of some palpable, human sensitivity being ripped
away. I wanted to vomit but could only cry in the middle of a
construction job site.
co-worker offered me a ride home. I tried to make jokes—it’s my
last defense against the devastation of tragedy, but I just kept
thinking of that goofy kid, a kid who got caught up in some bad shit,
but a kid struggling to breathe, blasted by the sun, bones broken,
lips split. I couldn’t wait for the numbness that inevitably follows
such emotional output.
was all bullshit. I found out,
after about an hour, that it was somebody’s fucking prank. Never have
such diametrically opposed emotions shared space in my mind and body.
Intense rage coupled with extreme joy. The re-contextualizing of
reality brought about by a death coupled with deep shame at having
been hustled. I was a sap, a rube, a fool, and I wanted very much to
meet the author of this lie, and
have a frank and violent discussion about his
a mindfuck. I was numb the rest of the day like I’d gone to a
funeral, but I had no reason to feel that way. I’ll take this kind of
resurrection any day over the death of a friend, but believe
me: it is a thoroughly enervating experience.
say this. To those of you yet untouched by death and illness and all
the shit that breaks us or engenders empathy in the human soul, think
twice before posting some false bullshit that people might take
seriously. Think of people’s mothers if nothing else. Maybe imagine
your mother hearing that kind of news. Or imagine one of us who cares
catching up with you in person.
I did some time in Sunday school
when I was seven or eight years old, in a flaky, New Age Christian
church of some kind. I’m told I connected Jesus Christ to black widow
spiders by some no doubt tenuous thread, but I don’t recall that. I
do, however, remember the “teacher” asking us to draw a
picture of the most powerful weapon. Bam! Mushroom cloud. Atomic
bomb. Nailed it (don’t bring up nails around Jesus…) Right? Wrong.
Trick question. The dude said the most powerful weapon was love.
on how he or possibly she worded it, I think that is a terrible
analogy. The question was probably what weapon eliminates all enemies
(or at least I hope it was), but that and my mother getting remarried
are the only childhood memories I have of church. I steadfastly
rejected religion through my teen years and into my twenties, when I
began attending services here and there at different churches.
girlfriend took me to a predominantly black Baptist service, and I
enjoyed that because they played their music live and loud. The
drummer was just getting down. Once it came time to hug strangers and
tell them how much they are loved, my social anxiety sky-rocketed
well past heaven. Another time I found myself sitting alone in back
of a service listening to the guest speaker, who also painted
beautiful pictures of angels as light and color. She seemed to be
speaking directly to me—every statement applied directly to my
struggles and resonated deeply with me. I’ve always been embarrassed
by public displays of grief, yet I cried uncontrollably through the
entire service. I went to a handful of funerals, one of which
disgusted me completely, steering me back toward my anti-religious
consumed myriad kinds of hallucinogens, in sometimes dangerous
amounts. These experiences definitely broadened my mind, but they
never answered the God questions for me: Is there one or more? If so,
does it or they give a fuck about us?
2016 I joined the Satanic Temple—a non-theistic “religion”
that combats the oppression of people by Christians using the very
tools employed by the church. The Satanic Temple views Satan, as I
understand it anyway, as a literary figure symbolizing the eternal
rebel. Well, all that was right up my alley, but I don’t think that
stuff has anything to do with my beliefs concerning actual deities.
Taoism and Buddhism were/are also attractive to me because of their
lack of Gods.
Strung out, heart-broken, and damn near ready to give up, I had the good fortune to be invited to a traditional church that was totally foreign to me as well as illegal for me to attend. During the first service I experienced a presence FAR greater than myself that I can only describe as divine. Every element of that service was complexly sacred, resonating with my spirit and my life on innumerable levels. It was beyond comprehension. Afterward I felt reborn. I knew no fear. My heart had been healed. I had communed with divinity and been blessed by its touch. I’ve been allowed to attend three such services, and every one connected me to that divinity and left me feeling rejuvenated in spirit, mind, and body. The only church in which I’ve ever seen God is illegal for me to attend in a country that prides itself on its religious tolerance and freedom. Really though, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Meditation tends to improve my
life in almost every aspect. Despite that fact I rarely sustain a
disciplined, consistent practice. I recently started meditating
again, and have kept up an (almost) daily practice for about two
weeks. I intend to improve my discipline and cultivate a daily
my born-again practice is essentially in it’s infancy, I had an
inspiring experience the other night. I’ve been doing a “spherical
breathing” meditation, which in the past has been interesting to
say the least. I wasn’t feeling much from the practice, but I kept
doing it because I know it works, even if I don’t feel I’m doing it
well. I’m going to sidestep the whole discussion about “successful”
meditation (some teachings affirm that each sitting is the perfect
practice.) Sometimes in the morning my mind would even drift so much
that I would stop focusing on the fourteen breaths I was doing and
start thinking/dreaming about people or being at work or other
distractions. It seems my mind doesn’t like being told what to do,
even by itself. I’ll admit that even though I don’t think one should
pursue a goal necessarily while sitting, I was becoming mildly
frustrated and decided to try a little experiment.
find little recreational value in marijuana, but I have noticed, in
the past, that it enhances, among other things, my sensitivity to the
movement of energy in my body (if this discussion is irritating my
fellow skeptics out there, I recommend breaking off now.) Due to the
availability now of high-grade yesca I usually have some around even
though I’m not even a little bit of a stoner (at least not anymore).
So I took one hit and ran through the practice twice.
second time I did the breaths, all the visualizations were far more
intense, strong enough to stimulate physical sensations, which I
associate with the movement of energy or chi in
my body. The
last breath of the technique involves moving a focused ball of energy
from one’s third chakra to one’s fourth. When I did this I had the
vivid experience of both physical and internal ascension. After the
breaths are completed, the practice involves unregulated breathing
and just being, adopting a yielding mindset, feeling sensations of
flowing energy, and fostering an emotion of complete compassion So I
did just that.
was immediately overcome with a deep sense of real fear, the origin
of which was hidden to me. In hindsight, I realized this was probably
the same fear I recognize as general angst and social anxiety. The
fear was as intense as the rest of the experience, but I resolved to
sit there, just be, and stay compassionate. I accepted whatever was
going to happen to me, whatever I was afraid of, was going to happen,
but for that one moment, I was in no danger and didn’t need anything
I didn’t have. That acceptance, which arose from compassion, soon
dissolved all fear. I realized in that moment that love and
compassion are antidotes for fear. The threat of love being lost can
cause fear, but that’s not love born of acceptance
hope this doesn’t sound like so much rambling. The experience was
profound for me, but such experiences are by their very nature
difficult, sometimes impossible, to couch in language. I think the
weed gave me a boost, inspired me some, but I know it’s not the key
for me. I repeated the experiment the next night, and had nowhere
near the same experience. I feel it’s probably best to return to as
sober a practice as I can manage. I’ve learned the hard way there are
no shortcuts to anything worth taking a lifetime to practice.
I’ve fallen in love—the real
kind of love, the step in front of a bus to save you kind of
love—four times. One of those times led to marriage (and
consequently divorce). I haven’t been able to stop loving anyone I’ve
really come to love, and not for lack of trying. For eight years
after my divorce I felt what I thought was absolute hatred for my
ex-wife. During a short sabbatical in Reno’s jail (where they’ll
leave the light on for you), I realized for the sake of my children,
I had to set that burden down. When I did I eventually saw it for
what it was: not hatred but deep emotional injury that I dressed up
as anger and tried to ignore, which is much like drawing eyes on an
abscess and pretending it’s a friendly little head growing out of
of these loves, also wounded by her past, repeatedly fled me,
believing me to be unfaithful and dishonest, which I was neither. I’m
no psychologist, but I felt like maybe because of her past, she
couldn’t bring herself to believe that I actually loved her. Perhaps
the betrayals she’d suffered so early in life and so intensely were
too much to ask any person to overcome.
I am struggling with is this: is it enough to love and be loved? I
have yet to experience a relationship lasting over four years, so I
really have no answers. Can your love for someone be a detriment, an
affliction that will harm you more than heal you in the end? And if
that is the case, is that real love? I know relationships can be bad
for our lives, but can a truly loving relationship (I mean where the
love is flowing both directions, or however many directions one is
into) be detrimental in the long term? The first example that comes
to mind is the classic abusive relationship, but I discount that
immediately because if a person is abusing his or her partner, I’d
argue the love is not flowing both directions.
is a purely philosophical discussion as far as I am concerned: right
now I am more single than Adam with all his ribs. But if one of the
three people who reads this has any answers, right or wrong, I’d love
to hear them. They might come in handy some day.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
my god is a frail god and very thin-skinned and sensitive.” –David
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?
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.