Sunday, June 29, 2014

Feeling the Bumps in the Road

Every time I drive by that temple with the statue out front a memory snaps back to the night in my van on an adjacent street where I slept when I lived life more raw holding time in my hands. Store parking lots - some I stayed in, sometimes their nearby streets I parked on for a night - triggers of my adventures a card catalog of memories to a life that recedes.  Passing by these places I feel it all again instead of a blur of scenery - the city's etched in . Memories attached to landmarks that I wouldn't have if I coasted through life - wasn't a nomad. All the times in LA when I didn't have a car, walking everywhere locks those memories in, indelibly marked like the ink on my skin. Feeling concrete unsmooth, broken under my feet, the world passing slowly offering memories a seat.

Shock absorbers, plush seats, take the feeling out of life, we filter our cigarettes like it's saving our lives. Give me that punch of an unfiltered, hand rolled in my lungs - I feel like I'm living through unmitigated events like rolling down the windows letting the breeze touch my skin . Life passes by and we don't stop to grab it though these memories are all we keep till we pass our last breath. No one wants to feel the pain, the heat, the bumps just give them a drink, drugs some A/C - fuck. Try to avoid her clutches and you'll float by - a zombie walking but not really alive. I like to be happy but the rough parts add a flavor that wakes you sharpens your view. I sit in the pain and sadness, enjoy them too they'll be over before I know it but I'll remember how I grew. Time flits away, dispersing like a cloud of smoke from the lips, it's not waiting, not holding for you it's taken it's bow.

Feel the road, the bumps and the cracks - they make life more full every time you look back.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Selma

The sky is grey this morning with a low cloud cover and a cool breeze blowing as I'm walking across the empty and silent Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. No one is there to stop me and why would they? It's 2014 and I am white but knowing what has happened here, what we're about to be reenacting later today, I can't help but feel the suffering, hatred and vitriol that is infused in this structure. Named after an evil man it's even more powerful that people had the strength and courage to cross the structure and make a statement - we are people too, we will overcome, we are good enough. So many people fight for significance and may attain some level of abatement from the outer resistance but there's a bigger fight within: "am I good enough?" You know how you should be treated but the reality of how the world sees you and has treated you raises subliminal doubts. Many people over react with grand displays in an attempt to convince themselves that all the negative things they have felt about themselves aren't correct. You can fight a battle but that doesn't always win the war for significance in your heart. 

The brave marchers in 1965 made a point and marked history but I imagine in many hearts, the questions still lurk in the recesses of the oppresseds soul's like a gnat buzzing around your ear. They know it's not true but the buzzing doesn't stop.  This landmark and era were not my battle although I believe it would have been had I been alive at that time, but I can relate to the struggle to be recognized, wanting to quiet that doubt in my mind. Outward actions against oppression are necessary but the long term battle won't be won if you can't accept yourself for who you are as valuable, as worthy. Everyone is significant by nature of being alive on this planet but the hardest battle to win is the one against ourselves. 

Writing this, I'm sitting where I can see down to the Montgomery side of the bridge where all the atrocities happened and I hope that all the souls in the world whether black, angsty white kids, gay, Latino, etc who are marginalized and abused can not just win battles but can win the war and achieve inner peace knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are significant and valuable. 


Monday, June 23, 2014

The Place Where the Wind Never Blows

Sunlight broke in patches through a thick canopy of leaves
Each branch spreading out reaching as if to grasp the sun
Golden light dancing noislessly on the forest floor though foliage rustled high above
Beneath was Cool, Still and Silent cept for the faint noise of wind caressing the distant leaves
A sacred place unvisited except for woodland fairies who on occasion called
Dancing through the wood, lightly caressing each plant and tree
Sending shivers through the roots, curling up in ecstasy
Each time they danced on the entire forest would cry
"Please come back and play again in the place where the wind never blows"

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Flippin' Freudian Slips

Thinking back on my posts I realized that there have been numerous pieces I have written with no profanity till the end or just one random "obscenity" inserted in a random place. I could leave the words out and it's never been intentional but I think it's a subconscious way of jarring people with more conservative sensibilities. Growing up I would hear "that would be a great movie but they had to ruin it with x profanities" or something similar. It is such a narrow minded approach to life and effected much of how my family interacted with the world. We attended the gamut of church denominations with widely varying beliefs all because the churches had music that was acceptable to my parents - it didn't have a "rock beat". I knew families who had a box connected between the DVD player and TV that would censor profanity and sex scenes so they could still have some entertainment in their lives.

Life is rough, it's dirty and provocative - trying to run from that is naive. Expression, sex and violence are part of our world and pretending they don't exist is not only stupid but it's denying your own humanity. That doesn't mean you need to watch snuff films or porn but you also can't hide from everything. It will come knocking on your door many times from the inside of your own bubble. 

If you throw away something poignant I or someone else writes because you find the use of certain language offensive, then FUCK you and your bubble. I never attempt to be offensive consciously, I just write; however, I am raw because I want to bump into people's sacred cows. If your hide is so thin that my expression ruins your day, then you are not a healthy person. I never want to be harsh but I will always be raw and fucking up the status quo.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Perspective Parents

On the drive in this morning I was listening to an episode of This American Life where Molly Ringwold talked about watching The Breakfast Club with her 10 year old daughter for the first time. After they finished the movie Molly asked Mathilda if she related to any of the characters to which she replied "Brian". When asked how and why, she became emotional that she had felt some pressure in the past to perform well in school "but not much or anymore" she added in what seemed an attempt to make her mother feel better. 

The show went on with some talk about things parents have said that hurt their children to one degree or another and it reminded me of a post on the Humans of New York Facebook page. An older gentleman was saying how as a child he felt misunderstood and somewhat mistreated by his parents. Now that he looks back, he realizes that he didn't understand them and maybe he could have been a better son. Humanity is tragic particularly the relationship between parents and children. There is such a disparity in perspective on what is important because of the stages in life both are in that it's like trying to stick two north ends of magnets together: it only creates tension and they cannot share the same space. 

I've nearly finished my book on Malcolm X and was informed by a coworker that the author took a lot of flak when the book came out because it wasn't as flattering in some regards as the image that many people had of Malcolm. You can attempt to create an image for yourself (and may be successful) but people are generally going to see you based off of the information they choose to accept as true and then how they process it. All you can do is be you, live as honestly as possible and hope for the best. I think parent / child relationships would be much better if parents learned to accept their children right from the get go as unique people meant to be understood not molded into what they want. Children are like their own stars being birthed out of an older dying star that will have their own orbit and trajectory. They aren't planets meant to circle you. 

I saw a shirt that said "Rules for dating my daughter: 1. I don't make the rules. 2. You don't make the rules. 3. She makes the rules. 4. Her body, her rules." which falls in line with my thinking. Granted my kids do not live with me but I'll tell them "sex is something that adults do so if you are ready to bear the responsibilities of adulthood then go for it. I will always support you emotionally and love you but you are responsible for the decisions you make". They are going to grow up and think for themselves eventually so why hobble them making it more difficult to catch up later? Also if you are allowed to start making small decisions for yourself failing or succeeding at a young age, maybe you won't make huge errors in judgement when you are on your own. I dont think that guy in NY could really have been a better kid but I understand where he is coming from. People are unique in different ways and if we just accepted that, particularly with our children, the world would be a lot less fucked up of a place. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Intentionality

On the way to work this morning I turned on Pandora to listen to my usual rap station but realized I was slipping into a rut. With all the hours I've been working, I don't feel much like thinking and want to zone out once I hit the car; however, I realized I was neglecting things that I really enjoy like listening to podcasts. Not to say that there aren't times to veg out and rest your mind but it's too easy to slip into a lazy habit forgoing things that are important to you. I almost put off writing this because I didn't want to put the energy into formulating my thoughts. 

Humans are generally lazy by nature but to be truly successful, it requires a daily push to be intentional about what you want. This is especially important in relationships as any counselor or book will tell you. The tendency to become comfortable once you have wooed someone is fairly universal. If you don't plan dates or consciously choose to show your love, the relationship can stagnate. 

Last night after a 14 hour day I stopped by the store and bought a rose for my girl. This morning I switched on a podcast even though I only caught 15 minutes of it because it feeds my soul. To be successful and achieve your dreams you have to be consistently intentional taking action. Comfort is the enemy of success. Sure, carpe diem, but seize it with conscious behavior not just with whims that strike you randomly. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Living in The Moment

This Sunday (after working a 70 something hour week) I went to the tattoo shop and got some more ink. I don't see myself ever getting random art on my body because every piece I have means something to me or speaks about who I am / want to be. The tat is fairly simple - two solid bands around my arm but it isn't without significance. 

Time travel has always seemed like a crock of shit to me and while I enjoy movies about the concept, I still think it's a dumb idea. My belief is that the only thing that exists is the moment you are currently in. The black band signifies the future which is nebulous and undefined or created. We make our future by each choice we make now. The green band represents the past which is unattainable to alter however, we can grow from the experiences informing our present and ultimately shaping the future. The neutral space in between the bands is the here and now. It's the thin space we inhabit in the universe and we should enjoy it because nothing is promised to us. In a moment the blackness can swallow us up nullifying all your plans, worries and regrets. My goal is to fully inhabit that thin line in time and space letting the future pass through me leaving memories and wisdom to draw from. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Birthdays

Another year has passed
Wisdom growing like a garden in spring
Life rubbing off the skin I've out grown
The past not forgotten but left behind
Familiar companions now strangers
A pathway previously seeming impassible now open
Hills are left to climb
Valleys will still be passed through
Each mile marked off reassures the next step
I'm growing older but feeling younger
The frivolous illuminated and found wanting
A solar cycle away from something better
I don't mourn the age
It's a good day for a birthday. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Four Letter Word

* I sort of covered this once before but there are some new / different thoughts and it's my site so I do what I want :) *

Growing up when my mother saw an issue in someone's life that they seemed to be blinded to, she felt she had to point it out with the offer of help. While she genuinely cared about them and their future success in life and it wasn't an ego trip, it was rooted in fear. If she didn't point out the problem, then no one might and ultimately this other humans failure would come back on her for lack of action. 

Recently she suggested I nonchalantly slip into a conversation with an acquaintance the fact that she is holding a seminar on a certain topic they unknowingly need help in. In this instance I think my mother is correct and the seminar could be very helpful so I began debating what to do. The choice is between being direct saying "you have xyz problem, here is info on a seminar..." vs the passive "how's your day? Oh I was talking to my mom today. Guess what? She's putting on a seminar about xyz next month" - complete non sequitur, random. The conclusion I reached is that neither one is appropriate. If you aren't an intimate, INVITED part of someone's life, then you don't have a right to be voice your observations. Not having the right prompts the indirect approach because it's another level of the same fear that started the whole thing - if I don't at least try, then what happens is still on me. I then become manipulative and underhanded to avoid that crushing weight of guilt. 

Anything done out of fear is wrong. I'm not talking about fight or flight - run from a bear fear, but the high functioning manic, inter-relational defense mode, fear fueled actions. This brings up the topic of God and love. The Christian Bible and the Quran along with other religions (I can only assume) teach us to fear God. As a child I was instructed that it was a "fear of respect for how powerful and holy he is....because we are so unworthy and vile that if he didn't hold back the raw awesomeness our miserable asses would burn to the ground". That fear and trembling you read about in the bible isn't because they simply respected God so much, it's because of the second part - we suck in comparison to the god that made us: their version of god who is an asshole. 

If God is love and decisions made out of emotional fear start a journey down a bad road then he wouldn't want us to fear him. He would want his creatures or children if you will, to make choices for the right reason. Choices out of fear lay a diseased foundation for future choices and perspectives to be raised upon. Why do you think religious people are some of the most evil on the planet? Because they are afraid of God (or hell to be more accurate) therefore they make a choice to follow religion to avoid unpleasantries. That first fear is the soil that grows the hideous, gnarled tree that is legalism and rules - trying to keep a scary God happy. Why? Because you are afraid of him and you try to make everyone perfect so as to not make him angry. 

I'm almost finished with that book on Malcolm X and it makes me sad to see the things he went through in and after the NOI because of his and other followers fear of incurring Allah's wrath for speaking against Ellijah Muhammad. That was my life in the Christian church on various levels till the last few years so I can relate. 

Stop being afraid of God. If he's out there and an asshole then you're screwed regardless. If he's out there and is cool, then he wouldn't want you to serve him out of fear but instead come to conclusions yourself not judging you for doing so. Then there's the chance that there is no God - and then your fear is really fucking stupid. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Regret Tonight Tomorrow

Round after round the sauce keeps coming
Knowing I should stop but the waitress is what's intoxicating
Through the fog of cigarette smoke she winks across the bar and I know I'm staying not caring what goes on my card.
Pounding music deafens the volume numbing my mind to the life and decisions from which I'm running.
I don't want to go home or to work tomorrow but they eventually drag me back like a rip current.
I will regret tonight tomorrow but let the moment last
Senses dulled while being over loaded wrap me up like a warm hug.
The last call bell rings out, downing the last shot, scrawling my name then sitting for one last minute draining the lingering drops of the ethereal essence this bar is pouring.
I will regret tonight tomorrow but tomorrow may not come and this gets me by.
The smoke from the last cigarette stubbed out drifts aimlessly into the early morning vanishing as fast as life is passing.
I will regret tonight tomorrow because this feeling cannot last.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Pen Pals

Yesterday my daughter was reading letters that her pen pal had written her bringing me back to all the letters I used to write back and forth to a few people as a child. Having a pen pal is pretty much a lost past time with the technology we have these days which is sad because I believe that drawn out dialogue (especially at a young age) teaches you how to converse. Last week I was talking to a guy about video games which I know very little about and while the conversation eventually transitioning to computers which I used to build and repair for a living, I was still able to dialogue because I had learned how to have a conversation at an early age. 

My mother used to tell me that having a conversation is like tennis: you hit the ball to them and hopefully they return it back and you continue to volley. It's not that you can't learn the art of conversing without a pen pal but the written form requires more intentionality thereby engraining the habit deeply. I do know a little about many topics which aids in being a good conversationalist however, knowing how to ask questions like a 20/20 reporter was instilled mainly through the couple pen pals I had as a child. 

I love technology but it's seriously eroding our societies ability to interact with people we don't immediately have something in common with. Instead of bringing us together, technology is further segmenting us into groups of similar people through algorithms and preferences. Like I've said before, I enjoyed riding public transit when I lived in LA because it forced you to interact with other humans you may not have normally chosen to be around. If you want peace in the world, you can't just hang with people who are like you. Shake  it up and get to know someone who may be very different than you. Write a letter and hell, use a fucking stamp for Pete's sake. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Drying My Wings

For anyone who has followed the trajectory of my life on this site, a lot has changed in the last few months. I am no longer living out of my van for several reasons and while it was a great experience, I'm glad that it's over. Not having space to unwind or get my few possessions the way I wanted them was a bit stressful and lonely. I proved to myself what I needed to and further discovered who I am. As I described myself to a friend last night "I am an eclectic, free spirited, wandering artist": a slightly less fucked up Jack Kerouac. After years of slowly changing I crossed over the metamorphosis stage and after much struggle in the last two years have broken out of my cocoon.

Talking with a friend the other day we were discussing life and how it's like building a house. You spend a lot of time building the foundation then once that is set, the framing, siding etc take shape very quickly. It's the finishing and decorating that really never stops. Once discovering who they are, decent people are then always adjusting and improving their lives to be up to date with the world around them. Some folks never change and meeting them is like walking into a house that has never been updated since the sixties - a heinous sight at best. 

I have tried a lot of new things recently and discovered that they resonate with who I am. Feeling free to be yourself is one of the best things in the world and I am the happiest now that I have ever been in my life. As a solidification of my identity (and a little shameless self promotion), I had the title of my blog which encapsulates me tattooed on my arm. 

I'm flapping my wings dry in the sun and will soon be flying joining my fellow fugitives taking in the world as it slips across our wings. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Rock On

This past Saturday marks another first for me (going to a rock concert) and also a big release of negative training from my childhood. Growing up we were indirectly taught to be fearful of the world making everyday life uncomfortable to say the least as we attempted to navigate all the abundant moral pitfalls. A major belief was that "rock music" was evil. If we went out to eat it was expected to ask the establishment to either turn their music down or play one of our Christian tapes till we left. The only normal toys I was allowed to have were Legos and matchbox cars. Power Rangers, TMNT, Star Wars etc were not allowed for fear of demonic attachment to the solidified petroleum figures. Years of constant wariness causes the fear seeps into your soul leaving an imprint that is hard to erase. You are constantly nervous to do many things for fear of something bad happening as a result of you "opening a door to the devil". 

Saturday night was perfect. The weather was great, I had amazing company and the performance was fantastic. I only recognized one song from the band and didn't even know the lyrics but when the stage lights started flashing on the second song, I was hit with a feeling of wow, this is awesome! Absorbing the whole experience, it suddenly hit me - I'm finally doing things that normal people do and I am completely fine. I actually was kind of giddy when I realized that the weight of being in constant fear was gone. Now I can enjoy life and all the beauty in it without feeling like I'm on the verge of falling into hell. I feel sad for all the people bound up in fear over shit that they can't even prove. Life has so much to offer that if moderated can make your life amazing and happy. "Our fears are only as big as we let them become."