I am typing from a borrowed machine. My laptop is in the shop. It is currently dead. I only hope that the high priests of tech can resurrect it easily and cheaply. So no photos on this week's blog post.
Having been cut off for two days from easy internet access I am finding there is so much more time in my day. There is time for more meditation and yoga. There is time to give people my full attention. It can be startling to realize how much we compulsively look stuff up until we are without the means to do so. I've never much cared for using my phone as a computer except at great need so I am having some flashbacks to the 90s before hi speed internet was everywhere, and google wasn't able to find us anyone and anything instantly. The other thing that happened in the 90s were the Millennials.
What can I say about this much maligned millennial demographic that hasn't already been said. Well quite a lot actually. Being a prognosticator of sorts I take a great interest in up and coming generations. I think we've handed this one a pretty bad deal. They are inheriting a world with vastly depleted resources, polluted environments, climate change, antibiotic resistance, and debt. I technically am part of Generation X, but I come at the tail end of it almost between that and Millennials. So I feel for them I really do. It seems every article you read about them they are getting slammed. They are being called selfish and lazy. Simultaneously they seem to be very active in destroying sectors of the economy. This is mostly being written by the boomer generation and some misguided X'ers.
While the aging power structure blames them for the wholesale destruction of our way of life I think it is about time to point out all the wonderful things about them. For starters they are all about diversity. This generation seems to be more accepting of differences among people. Whether it is ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, gender preference, or economic status, Millennials don't seem to care. They also are more environmentally conscious. They want things to be sustainable. Perhaps they can already see the writing on the wall but the generations before them rapaciously have gone through a good deal of the earth's resources and squandered them for short term gains and comfort. Our Millennials are also one of the most educated and innovated generations yet, they've had to be. They also happen to be one of the largest generations. This is good news since they seem quite concerned with social justice.
Right now our young people need our help though. They are saddled with debt and limited access to social services. Instead of encouragement they are often lampooned by the media as incompetent children living in their mom's basement. What the media conveniently leaves out for the comfort of older viewers is that those basement dwellers are often working full time jobs and can barely afford their student loan payments and healthcare. We have turned students into profit making ventures for banks thus robbing a generation of resources, then we turn around and blame them for not consuming more to boost stock prices. This feedback loop has created the perfect scapegoat for society. Millennial bashing seems to be a daily occurrence in the press and online. We've changed from, "The children are the future,", to "Screw those lazy brats I paid for my own college and got a job after to buy a house." What most people don't want to look at is that the social contract since they were in their 20s has been altered significantly. A person used to be able to land a good job out of college that provided medical benefits that were cheap, they could afford to buy a home, have a pension, and even put money towards retirement. Now it is generally only state employees that have these magical unicorns known as pensions. Healthcare even if you have a plan can bankrupt a family even with both parents working and insured. A part time job that used to cover tuition won't even cover books for a semester. Is it any wonder that some of this generation is thinking they shouldn't bust their ass to not even squeak by?
Why am I telling you this? Well I am the Faery Godfather to a few in this generation and they are awesome people! It's so maddening to see them demonized when I know how hard they work and how well they treat others. I'm seeing ideas and inventions that they are creating at very young ages that could literally save the world. As I look around and see all the craziness in our society they give me hope that if they could claim their power, the future would once again be something to look forward to. We are not lacking in solutions to the world's problems only in the will to implement them. Millennials have that will, now they just need our help. So if you're a parent, grandparent, teacher, or in any way involved with these up and coming human beings please do what you can to encourage them and let them know that they are powerful and that they matter.
Peace and Blessings,
Monday, October 9, 2017
I hope your week went well. Mine was a flurry of activity. I've been trying to balance it all just like the sculpture above. Well almost like that, I tend to balance things with pants on. This week I've been prepping a kiln load of work which is currently firing away. I also got to goto St. James Art Fair. I look forward to it all year. Besides that I had an art opening to attend as one of the local ceramic artists.
As I walked through the fair with a friend. I breathed in all the energy of creativity. The court itself is a wonderfully tended neighborhood full of old victorian homes that borders Central Park. Seeing all the work of so many gifted artists and craftspeople always inspires me. It fills up my heart and feeds my own inner creative spark. Inspiration held a special place in some of the old pagan traditions of Europe. When you trace the word origin, it comes from the latin root inspirare which means to breathe in the divine influence. We often use the phrase, "Divinely inspired", but that is just like saying divinely breathed in the divine. I do consider it a gift from Spirit, but not always a deity. Inspiration can be passed from person to person, leading to one more reason to believe that we all carry the divine within ourselves.
Inspiration is a super power. The best leaders have it, visionaries, those who bring us scientific breakthroughs, and artists. When society is stuck in a pattern and there seems no way forward or out of the mess we find ourselves in, it takes someone with inspiration enough to share to help us change. It is really the only way we can ever change other people. If you actively try to change people. you will be mostly unsuccessful. You may even get attacked. If you inspire someone by your words or actions they choose change. It is done without coercion because it comes from that sacred part within ourselves which the sacred part in others recognizes. If you look at the state of our world right now we are in sore need of inspiration. It is the source of light amidst the darkness.
So why am I telling you this? Well we often think change comes from a lot of applied force and effort. It can come in passionate hope and even joy. Think of when you were inspired in your life by someone. How did it change your perspective about yourself? How did it change your perspective on what you believe is possible? Now is the time for us to act from our heart centered passions, not only for our sake, but for the sake of those we might inspire. Inspiration wakes the spirit in us to its full potential. The world needs our spirits in action right now. So take time to stoke those inner fires. Breathe in what lights you up and move with it, for yourself and the ones that follow in your footsteps.
Peace and Blessings,
Monday, October 2, 2017
Yes I know I'm late, but two days in a row I have collapsed in bed soon after the sun has set. I've actually been looking at my writing commitment which I made four years ago and wondering if it still applies. I made it in a time of personal loss and transition. I needed a way to process my experiences and blogging seemed to help. Lately it has been more of a chore, but that feeling comes and goes. I haven't made any hard and fast decisions yet about the future of my writing here so no worries. However, if you do enjoy my musings please let me know by commenting and sharing. Writing on the internet is like putting a message in a bottle, I never know on which shore it will end up.
So waking up this morning and checking my newsfeed on Facebook I was shown many "Thoughts and prayers", for the people of Las Vegas. I had no idea what had happened, but 'thoughts and prayers' is generally code for mostly preventable mass murder by guns here in America. We act sad for a day or two and then go about our business. Those of us who think that we should perhaps do something to prevent such tragedies are shouted down by the NRA and their spokespeople and the few crazy gun nuts who think firearms should be everywhere. So we just wait until the next mass shooting and hope that neither we nor our loved ones are involved.
This has a lot to do with our hierarchy of values in America. I shall make a list from the least to most valued. (This is a list of societal values NOT mine).
9. People of Color
8. Gay People
6. Foreign born citizens
5. White women (if they are Christian and appropriately dressed)
4. White men
3. Police officers
2. Unborn fetuses
You may notice a few things about that list. For one there are no children on it. We only value children (on the societal level) when they are unborn. Once they are out of the womb they are expected to just deal with things, which is fine if they are born to wealthy white people. Society is unwilling to invest in education and development. We are also not willing to stop killing and imprisoning people of color. America sees their lives as a commodity for prisons for profit or for target practice. As for Jews, Gays, and Muslims they make convenient scapegoats for politicians. Notice there are no veterans on that list. We don't care about our soldiers once they come back as we give them poor support and that is why their suicide rate is so high. As far as recent citizens we expect them to keep their heads down and thank God (the right one of course) that they made it in.
So let's all talk about the smoking gun in that list. Here in America guns are valued more than the unborn fetuses that people will blow up clinics to demonstrate the sanctity of life. This is why we can't have nice things. We have things backwards. First off there shouldn't be a different category for people. There should be one category for human life. That should go at the top of our list. Guns should always be behind that. I used to be a bit more moderate about guns, but the gun lobby has been so rabid to prevent any sort of sane measures I'm thinking it is time that nobody had them in civilian life (police included). We have proven again and again that we just can't handle them responsibly. I know this puts me at odds with people I know, even people I like and respect. I have been in people's gun rooms (for my foreign readers here in the USA some people collect so many weapons they need a room to store them in) and all I could feel was the energy of violent death emanating from every direction. They were clearly excited about this, I was not. I've also been around people who had a rifle out for sports shooting and I was completely at ease around them. I have been threatened by a drunk fundamentalist that they would get their gun because I don't believe the same way they do. We may glorify it in our movies, games, and television but we must never forget the terror and death that guns suddenly bring.
Why am I telling you this? Well I am sick of the hypocrisy of it all. Number two on the list was unborn fetuses. We wax poetic on the value of the life that might be, but we are perfectly happy to send that little bundle of joy out into a land that is being turned into a shooting gallery for the deranged. This faux concern for life is even more laughable when we look at the state of healthcare in America. Notice that wasn't on the list either. I have insurance that I can't afford to use, and may lose in the next year. I don't know how far this message in a bottle will go, but if it gets spread I am sure I and my family will get death threats. Somebody might shoot me. If I am shot and not instantly killed I won't be able to afford treatment. Should I die violently before our parasitic healthcare system drains all my assets let it be known that I want my resources to goto the Water Protectors of Standing Rock. Why you ask, because protecting our natural environment and resources is something that I value.
Okay I'm done ranting, but I must ask what do you value? Have you got a list of values and their order of importance? Do your values contradict themselves? If they do, have you ever tried to reconcile those conflicts? Do you value some lives more than others? If so why? Feel free to leave comments about what your biggest value is.
Peace and Blessings,
Sunday, September 24, 2017
I hope your week was magical. Mine was certainly eventful with my normal classes, monthly meditation, a public talk, and the quarterly drumming I've been staying occupied. Right now I have a kiln cooling, fired on the equinox so hopefully the work will be a turning point for me.
The equinoxes and solstices are the turning spokes on the wheel of the year, marking the edges and midpoints of seasons. The earth's rhythm and our own are joined. This past year has been one of many changes for both myself and others. There are some rough waters ahead, but there are also many opportunities to change course and take part in more fulfilling adventures. Lately I've been discovering the distinction between being grateful and settling.
Now if you are reading this I am sure you have something to be grateful for. Accepting things as they come is a wonderful skill to develop. However going with the flow has been a source of great disillusionment. What if the flow is wrong? Think of the energy in a mob. Herd instinct can sing us into complacency. Our tendency is to accept our circumstances until they become unbearable. Going against the flow is not easy, so we'll just try and ride it out. In my life I have settled for less, because I've been afraid to ask for more. I mean I'm doing okay, not great but okay. Who am I to ask for more? Still there is a longing in me, and it isn't being filled.
This is not to say I am not grateful for what I have, I am. I also realize that I must strive a bit or I'll never be anywhere but where I am. So striking a balance between striving and accepting, gratitude for what I have, and the desire for something better, isn't easy. The good things in life take work. Whether that is career, relationships, or family, they all require effort. This applies to the energy work I do too. It took me years to get to a place of awareness and skill to do it in a way that looks effortless. When I don't make it harder than it has to be, it generally is, but it wasn't always. Knowing when to paddle and when to float is probably one of the most valuable lessons you can learn. (If you learn it please tell me the secret, I'm still guessing).
When I struggle to maintain balance I am lucky to know certain practices centered around re balancing myself. One of my favorites is Despacho ceremony. The pictures above are from this week's Equinox celebration. Besides the usual drumming I had the opportunity to do Despacho. It is all about showing our gratitude to Spirit and Mother Earth, and asking for what we need in our lives. It is about reciprocity, giving our thanks and our best efforts, and receiving blessings. It is a cycle that moves throughout our lives and the lives of all beings. I like it because it balances that need to honor what we have going for us with the desire to improve our lives. Plus they're pretty, and there is generally leftover chocolate.
So why am I telling you this. Well as we reach turning points in the year and our lives, we should take stock. We can remember what we have to be grateful for, and simultaneously strive to make our lives better. What about you? Are you counting your blessings? Are you simply going about your day to day on autopilot? Are you afraid to ask for what you truly want? I invite you to the great work of balancing gratitude and desire.
Peace and Blessings,
Sunday, September 17, 2017
I hope you had a delightful week. Mine has been more problem centric in a way. I got to experience the deep fury I usually keep chained up in the basement. So fun times right?
As a child I had very intense emotions. I remember being 4 or 5 and being so overcome by my feelings I'd bite my own fist. I never did (to my recollection) bite other people, much to my parents' relief. However, I was often alone in my room when these intense feelings would overtake me. I also had quite a temper, although to this day my mother swears that neither I nor my siblings ever threw tantrums. I just don't see how that could be possible, personally I think she just chose to forget those experiences. My point is that I worked hard to cage the rage or emotional turmoil I possessed. I am like many men afraid of the rage that we carry within us.
Now when I tell people about my rage they generally begin to giggle. I am considered soft spoken (if you don't count the swear words), gentle, and calm. Well I work very hard at remaining calm. I've seen what happens when I lose my temper. Stuff tends to break without me even touching it. I react rather than respond when I let the red rage rule me. In short, I don't make sound decisions from a long term strategy perspective when I operate from anger. On the other hand, when I neuter my anger people often think they are in a consequence free zone in their interactions with me.
This week, since I had a day that I couldn't work in the studio I decided to tackle a problem I've had with my website. For at least the past six months, whenever you google my name you'd get an error message on the search where my homepage occurs. The link worked. The page was operating, but it was as if it wasn't there on google. Now Bing had me show up just fine, but nobody uses Bing. I mean Google is not just a name it is now also a verb. So I called my web host not once but about ten times in total to see if we could fix this (The first three calls were placed over the summer). It turned out I knew more than the tech support people. When I complained I got stonewalled. They couldn't help me fix it (they blamed google), but they wouldn't refund me any money for my invisible site. Well I lost it. I am proud to say I ruined the day for about six people on Wednesday. That is not quite accurate, they ruined their day by not honoring their contractual obligations to me and my insistence that they should. I was shaking I was so angry with them. If I could have force choked them through the phone I would have, while saying, "I find your lack of technical expertise disturbing."
So I used my words. Now I have somehow repaired the problem on my own. Unfortunately I had to strip my site down to the most boring minimum. At least I appear when people search me. Still I am unsatisfied with those folks who helped feed my rage beast. I mean he almost broke the chains. Anger is a sticky emotion. We can't live without it, but finding a good way to live with it is tricky. I've had it save my life once or twice. I've certainly had it change my life on multiple occasions, sometimes for better and other times for worse. The problem that I had was that there was nowhere for this energy to go. It wasn't solving my problem it was just pointing out I was dealing with jackasses. I felt trapped by it, as there were no solutions and I couldn't kill the jackasses. (Not that I would actually kill them....just hurt them real bad...this is why I keep the rage beast caged). This is why I don't have rocket launchers on my car, because let's face it I'd use them. Most of us would. I mean you've seen how some asshats drive.
Recently someone suggested I look into writing for Elephant Journal. I was sort of intrigued. I was skeptical that my more racy or explicit posts (search for the 'Healing Power of Fuck Off' as an example) would be acceptable material. I like my voice. I like that I can scream explicit swear words on this blog. I am trying to remain honest with my writing. Honesty seems to lull the rage beast into slumber. Do I want him gone, absolutely not. He is necessary. I want him as an option if I or a loved is in danger, so I can scream, "RELEASE THE KRAKEN!" Anger is a part of the spectrum of emotions if we lose him (or her) all the other emotions just get that much more muted. Joy would be less intense and who wants to live in a faded world? Besides that anger is great fuel for getting you out of your funk. You just have to be very careful that you let it fuel you and not rule you. Those brain chemicals energize us but they aren't meant for long term usage I felt pretty bad after being angry all day. I can only imagine what people who live in that state must feel like.
So why am I telling you this? Well I was pissed off and wanted to vent a bit for sure, but beyond that this experience really held up a mirror to show just how much further I have to go on the emotional maturity spectrum. Dealing with emotions particularly the stickier ones like anger or fear really determine how much we can enjoy our lives. Emotions underpin everything. They color how we see ourselves. They define our relationships. How well we navigate them governs how well we deal with our successes and challenges. Our education system is very concerned with literacy and mathematical ability, but we barely scratch the surface of emotional literacy. So this week I invite you to tune into your emotions, especially those that you keep locked away. I'm not saying you should let all your emotions out to roam the village freely, but you should at least check in to see if they have all the necessities. If you don't do that occasionally there will be a larger mess to clean up. Acknowledge what you feel even if it is just to yourself. Emotions, even the darker ones give meaning and context to life. Schopenhauer once said, "Life without pain has no meaning." Well ladies and gentlemen I have good news, if that is true, your lives will certainly have plenty of meaning.
Peace and Blessings,
Monday, September 11, 2017
Yes this post is late. I was at the point of sleep when I remembered I hadn't posted it, but at that moment the pillow's call was stronger than the keyboard's. Sleep and dreams have a gravitational effect on us, and for me at least a seasonal one as well.
The weather has turned cool here the past two weeks. There is a slight briskness in the air, and the scent of fall is upon us. Although the real indication for me was the shift in my dreaming of late. My dreams seem to be more fleeting and distant in the summer months. Autumn begins the deepening of dreams in my life. This is not to say I can't have detailed or meaningful dreams at other points in the year's tapestry of weather, but the remembered occurrences are higher in the fall and winter. The psyche at its most unconscious level is in sync with the earth's rhythms.
Dreams often are dismissed by serious minded people. Adults in our society don't have time to muss over the implications of our night wanderings. I find this attitude very damaging to our wholeness. For me, dreams offer a chance to operate without the stranglehold of the ego filtering my perceptions. My agenda is not often considered and I get to peak beneath the hood of my personality to see what is really driving the car. I have made decisions and changed my mind on topics because of dreams. I give them weight, and in return they give me insight.
Why am I telling you this? Well so often we're in such a rush to start the day, we don't consider the second life of our dreams. The nurse from Romeo and Juliet said, "Seek happy nights for happy days." Now while she wasn't referring to dreams her advice has merit. If we've been suppressing a need or ignoring a problem, odds are it is going to show up in the nightly light show. Beyond that, we may get to see bits of information that were filtered out of everyday perceptions. Those bits can give a greater understanding of the motives of ourselves and others. Dreams can also show you where you are at odds with yourself. They are a goldmine of inspiration and information.
So are you minding your dream life? Do you notice shifts in it across the seasons? Do you notice how changes in your life affect it? What could richer dreams be trying to tell you? As the autumn mists roll in and the space between waking and sleep grows thin, pay attention. Hold onto the wisps of story as you wake. They may bring you a gift.
Peace and Blessings,
Monday, September 4, 2017
I hope you are doing well. The hour is late here. I fell asleep before writing and now I am racing the sunrise. It's been a weird week for me. The tail end of the summer always brings with it a great deal of nostalgia. The school year begins and for someone who spent so many years in academia I still find it odd to not be involved in it.
So you may be wondering what's up with the mug? Well I got accepted into a juried art show, and yes I did make that mug. For those of you who are new readers I am also an artist. It is part of my profession that has been on the back burner for a few years. You see I'd hit a wall with my art. Well actually I hit several walls, repeatedly, or rather constantly. After I graduated back in 05, I didn't have the equipment I needed to make work. Then I worked as a studio assistant in exchange for equipment use. That went well for about a year or so and then that studio closed. I then helped someone set up their home studio in exchange for firings. They backed out of the deal after I finished all the heavy work for them. So I finally got my own kiln and equipment, but then I couldn't get the glazes to work. After much frustration, I got a few colors the way I wanted them, but was kept out of a national show by a former professor. About three years ago I got into a small gallery in Gatlinburg. This for me was a godsend as I had run out of shelf space and couldn't make anymore work. Unfortunately, the gallery sold my work then neglected to pay me and tried to make off with over a thousand dollars of my work. The final straw came as I found out that the clay I had stored had dried out into brick hard material. I literally broke my body trying to make the clay work. To sum it up for more than 13 years I have hit nothing but setbacks and disappointments. The good news is that I'm stubborn.
As I look back on what I just wrote I realize how much I needed an outlet for my frustration. I didn't mean to go into such detail. In fact I missed the one piece of information I meant to convey. I've been working in porcelain since about 2004, and it has been kicking my butt the entire time. Porcelain was once valued up there with precious metals in the west, and after working with it for so long I can see why. As pretty as it is, it is quite the diva to work with. This week I switched to a different clay body. I basically got tired of the abusive relationship it has had with me. It seems to think I am beneath it, and do I really want to hang around with something that has such a low opinion of myself? Now it certainly didn't cause all of the problems stated above, but I can tell you that working with material that insists on fighting you every step of the way is exhausting and demoralizing. So imagine my surprise when I opened a fresh bag of new clay and started prepping it for wheel work and finding that it didn't push back at me. I set it on the wheel and had it centered in thirty seconds as opposed to five to ten minutes. It responded to my touch like an ardent lover. Now I am grateful to porcelain for making me a better artist, but I consider this blog post as my Dear John letter to porcelain. I'm not sorry it's over, I'm only sorry it took me this long to figure out that you are not long term relationship material.
So why am I telling you in intrinsic detail about my feud with self important clay? Well I imagine that many of us have something in our life where we keep banging our heads against the wall. Perhaps we think it is all due to our own failings, but maybe it is just the circumstances. Maybe we think we don't have options. I am amazed that changing this one thing has opened up the horizon. We can get fixed into an approach in our heads that keeps us from trying something else. For you it may not be clay it could be a job, a town, or even a relationship. Stop trying to make something work that isn't going to. It is okay to occasionally admit defeat and move onto something else. I stayed in my dysfunctional relationship with a material because it looked so beautiful, particularly in my mind. It is easy to idealize how things should be and what the "right" way is to get to our goals. I'm telling you now save yourself the pain, snap out of the delusion. There is no right way to go about your life. Stop trying to squeeze yourself into something that is not a fit for you. Look for what works for you because, you're a much better master to your life than anything or anyone else.
Peace and Blessings,