Are you aware of what the USDA does? Are you aware of how the new administration is handling the USDA? If not, I HIGHLY suggest reading this Vanity Fair Article.
Are you aware of what the USDA does? Are you aware of how the new administration is handling the USDA? If not, I HIGHLY suggest reading this Vanity Fair Article.
So here we are about to say good bye to 2017 and hello to 2018. These times are interesting to say the least. The shift is upon us. Many are wondering and even fearful of what we as a society are shifting towards. Though the surface is roiling, the vast calm sea beneath is where our power to insure a more sustainable, just and thriving model lays. On this journey we say good bye to the ways that do not serve and hello to new possibilities. The quicker and more effectively we do this the better.
There are a thousand reasons to clench our fists and shout at the devil. It is vital to remain vigilant and demand justice but equally vital celebrate joys both large and small. Part of digging in and sorting out these messes is the joy at the other end of having done so. As we collectively clean up the messes all around us the more we can focus on the end result the more we can act in solidarity with sustained energy and purpose.
As we roll up our sleeves to enter 2018 let us rejoice in the power we have to overcome the obstacles and challenges laid before us. The sleeping giant hasn’t even begun to awaken. But when it does-oh what a day to celebrate that will be. Happy hello to 2018!
“Hi, My name is Jim and I’m an addict…” This sounds like something someone might say from the podium at an AA meeting. But I write it here at home, comfortably cozy at the keyboard on a chilly December evening from Washington State. I add as a caveat to finish my opening sentence, “…and in many ways I’m thankful to be an addict.”
Yes, I know, being an addict, pejoratively speaking, is not thought of in glowing terms by the majority of people in society. Addicts are often looked down upon, with loathing, or fear, or mistrust or with pity. Those people addicted to any number of drugs come to mind first when we hear the word addiction. There are also food addictions, sex addictions, power addicts and any number more addictions that can take addicts and the people who love them down some dark roads. Make no mistake, addictions can be dangerous. Negative feelings and concern about addiction and the social negative consequences that can result in some of them are justified. But I think that we should also explore another side of addiction. We might want to ponder the idea of addiction as a natural part of the human condition, that it shouldn’t necessarily denote weakness or result in destructive behavior. I would go even so far as to say that in many cases addiction should be commended and even celebrated. The addict can be hailed, the addiction be praised. I believe it is even possible, to quote the words of the late singer/songwriter Robert Palmer, one can be “…addicted to Love.” and that shouldn’t ever be thought of as bad thing.
Examining people in general, I’d think that we all started out being addicts and are addicts till the day we die. Even before we were aware of being people we were addicted to being alive, addicted to the world. We were addicted to being touched, to the sounds and sights that we were exposed to. We were addicted to the nourishment we received from our mothers and to the stimulus that we took in from our developing senses. We were addicted to learning about our surroundings. We became addicted to making connections and seeking regularity in what we sensed. Our synaptic neural connections were being formed at a hyper-fast speeds. What we sensed, what we were pleasingly stimulating by, what we learned to anticipate, what we feared and desired framed the very concepts of ‘self’. The neural firing patterns in our brains establish what we think, how we feel and what we expect. They are governed by what we once sensed, they govern what we sense now and they govern how we will sense in the future. This maybe all nonsensical, I’m no neurologist nor am I a psychologist, but with your grace I continue on.
If a young child is raised not being touched often, neglected, not given proper attention and deprived of loving stimulation, or if they are physically abused, then abusive, negative and self destructive addictions will be set into place. They can be carried and manifest forward throughout a person’s life. They can be passed on to future generations. If in contrast, we are raised being loved and positively stimulated, if we are raised sensing a full variety of beautiful ideas and beautiful things, if we are made to feel safe, taught and cared for, we will more than likely become addicted to these feelings. They will become what and who we are. We will project these attributes onto others. We will become addicted to love, positivism and to the beautiful things that life has to offer.
I’m not in any way saying that one’s early childhood is what solely determines whether or not a person will become addicted to destructive behavior, or to behavior that enriches society and individual lives. I don’t think it would be right to label people with serious sociopath disorders as addicts”. Often these are a result of faulty brain chemistry or brain trauma, not a result of the sufferers upbringing. Many a serial killer and psychopath was raised with love and support in childhood. But I think early childhood upbringing can be a starting point to understanding addiction and why it is innately a part of the human condition, for better or for worse.
Let’s focus on drugs now. To say that drug addiction is a problem in American society now-a-days would be an understatement. It’s not the drugs that are the problem though, it is why we take the drugs that’s the problem. Add to that, the stigmatization of the people who take certain drugs and the incrimination of people who take certain drugs. As it has been said over and over again, and rightly so; “Drug addiction is not a crime problem but a medical problem.” I would add that for some it’s not a problem at all. In the wake of treating drug addiction as criminal behavior we bring on more real crime onto society. And here, let’s be honest and just say it, some people can do a whole lot of drugs and aren’t negatively effected in any pejorative sense of “being a drug addicts”. There are responsible drug users who simply enjoy doing drugs and pose no threat to themselves or society as a whole. In fact, some drug use enriches society.
Many artists, musicians, scientists and philosophers through the ages have used drugs to gather inspiration and gain insight. Drugs can be used as a tool of perception. The subversive, often hilarious, comedian Doug Stanhope talks openly about his drug use in many of his stand-up routines. In one bit he gives credit to drugs for his sense of humor. He says that it is his use of hard drugs that gives him the out-side-the-box, creative and funny thoughts that he has. He credits cigarettes with giving him the patience to write those thoughts down in a cohesive way. And finally, the punch line, which he says unabashedly and raising a beer to his audience, “…and it is alcohol that gives me the courage to stand up here and entertain you judgmental pricks.” Laughter all around. Laughter can be a cotangent addiction that we all could use a little more of. And who but mister Stanhope can say that his drug addiction and the physical problems that may ensue because of them are not but a small price to pay for the joy he gives and receives in hearing that laughter.
Yes, addiction can be a funny mysterious thing. Such is life. It can be painful and often at time unbearable. Addictions to drugs can be a way to escape the unbearability of life. It can be a way for us to sidestep a deeper problem, the problem of pain. We instinctively want to feel pleasure, not pain. But we also need to feel pain because it is such an inextricable part of being alive. Drugs can be a powerful weapon to mask pain, even the pain that we need to feel to be
psychologically healthy. Psychological pain just doesn’t go away because we refuse to face it, or when we have methods, like drugs, to mask it. It will linger and in are psyches manifest itself in ways that can grow and unconsciously corrupt. Addictions can be a result of this masking or denial. They in turn can be replaced with a less harmful addictions, be it a different kind of drug (for instance replacing heroine with methadone), a lifestyle change (accepting support, new hobbies, physical activity), a change of belief system (surrendering ones will to a higher power, religion, spirituality). All of these, I would argue, are things that people can positively become addicted to, which can lead to dealing with pain in a healthier manner.
I spent a good portion of my life smoking cigarettes. I started when I was about 15 years old. For a lot of that time I got great enjoyment out of it. It calmed my nerves, gave me a nice gentle buzz and I felt socially connected to other smokers, many of whom were close friends. But there came a time in my life, I can’t exactly pinpoint it, where the negative effects of smoking started to far outweigh the enjoyment that I got out of it. I coughed constantly, I felt lethargic, I started having vascular problems, I started to beat myself up for not being able to stop. I could really go on about all the negatives of what smoking did to me. None the less I just couldn’t stop.
Those smoking patterns that I created in my brain were just too set in place. Just about everything in my life was associated with smoking. From eating, driving, working, doing art, reading a book, playing the guitar, talking on the phone, before and after sex….everything I did was with a smoke in my mouth or with the anticipation of having one in my mouth. Eventually I felt that I had to change my behavior. It didn’t happen overnight. There were many false stops and starts.
We really are creatures of habit and I had to incrementally change some of my daily habits. It helped having friends who quit. They gave me encouragement and could understand what I was going though. It helped a lot too becoming a new grandfather. I refused to smoke in front of my grandchildren and I wanted to spend as much time as I could with them. They became my new friends. I also started to become addicted to using my muscles more vigorously. I started getting up early and going on brisk morning walks before I had time to puff down a smoke. The walks eventually started turning into slow jogs. I started biking instead of driving so much. I ate more and smoked less. I made a point not to go to parties where I knew that there would be people smoking. I kept working more instead of taking breaks. I started smoking more pot, a habit that I had to deal with later, but it did help me quit the cigarettes. The whole ordeal is a continuing and gradual psychological mind game that I played on myself.
I have an addictive personality. I’m addicted to playing mind games with myself, and regrettably sometimes playing mind games on others. I’ve been passive aggressive in relationships to the point of it feeling uncontrollable. I’ve gone on runs where I push myself so hard that I puke afterwards. Are these behaviors better than smoking? The puking, I think, yes. The passive aggression, no. There is definitely pain involved in working the body really hard and there is pain involved in treating people like shit. One is surly better than the other. So finding a sense of balance in life is truly part of the journey. I still find myself in situations where I really crave a cigarette. I find myself sometimes so frustrated with people that I just want to shut down and become silent or become obstinate to punish. But these feelings inevitably pass like all feelings eventually must.
Each of us must find our own balance in life, we should try the best we can. We each must deal with our own addictions, the destructive ones and the positive ones. We should try to figure out, as honestly as we can, how to harness, exchange and morph them for a moral purpose that makes are lifes more meaningful.
Superhero Tin Can Jim
Back in 1775 Samuel Johnson famously declared that, “Patriotism is last refuge of a scoundrel.” James Boswell, Johnson’s biographer, claimed that Johnson was not condemning patriotism as a whole, but only those “patriots” who used it to manipulate and control the masses and to inflate ones own power, wealth and authority. There seems to be a large amounts of this type of patriotism on display now. It seeps down from our so called leaders and through the hardening layers of our stratified social and economic classes. It’s a fountain of hate, pride, control, idolatry and deception whose goal is to alienate and undermine any hint of dissension.
I don’t think that it is a new phenomena. It’s probably been happening since our tribal natures were being psychologically fixed into our ancestors’ skulls as they lived in their small hunter gatherer groups on the savanahs of Africa. Other groups of people with different customs, or who were different physically different, or who communicated using a different language or who who worshiped different gods have, all too often, been perceived threats, sometimes for good reason. They sometimes competed for resources and in doing so became enemies. They were made easy targets to scapegoat and blame. When bad things happened to a tribe, be them diseases, floods, crop failure or other natural disasters, in pre-scientific times the most natural thing to do was to blame a neighboring tribe for the suffering. The disturbing thing is is that it still happening today.
Remember when Donald Trump said that global warming was a just a hoax concocted by the Chinese, or when he cast the undocumented Mexicans that are in America as murderers and rapist? In his next sentence he said nonchalantly that, ” …some were probably good people”. It was an unconvincing caveat that didn’t hide his bigotry. But now, with the tools of mass communications, powerful monopolies and top heavy wealth distribution, vilification can be laid on with a very wide and heavy trowel. It’s firing up our passions and undermining are individual abilities to reason. For proof just look at who sits in the oval office and at the large numbers of people who still support his brand.
I use the word ‘brand’ as opposed to person because that is what I believe people are attracted to. Yes, politics has become wedded with marketing. Demonizing anyone who is not labeled a patriot is reaping huge profits especially among Johnson’s ‘scoundrels’. Add to the mix heaping doses of god-talk and we have boom times for the oligarchs, the tyrants and the kleptocrats. If history has shown us nothing else, it has shown us that blind patriotism can lead societies in disastrous directions where the hatred of others can blind us from our own moral shortcomings.
Choreographed displays of patriotism, self-righteous and excessive religious fervor, group social projection that focus on symbols and hyper-ideology more than they do the ideas that those very symbols supposedly represent, be them spiritual or political, have been cast willy-nilly into the wind now. We are living in an attention span deleted society where identity politics and bumper stickers seem to carry more weight than does any attempt at nuanced thought and which thwarts any attempt at an honest search for truth. For instance, Jesus’s message of peace, nonviolence, selfless servitude, and anti wealth accumulation seems to have gotten lost in the cacophony of ideological noise coming from many factions of the Christian evangelicals. Greedy elements of corporatism and militarism hold power there. People are blinded to their hypocrisy as they shake their fists from a high. As long as they clutch tightly to the cross and hug the flag to their breasts they are granted immunity and power. Seems that’s all they need to do to gain our subservience. Maybe it’s time that we think more skeptically about our own deeply ingrained ideologies, consider more the social conditioning and tribalism that went into the forming of those ideologies.
I believe that each one of us is a part of many tribes. Some we identify ourselves with more than others. Some people hold their religious affiliations above all others, some their family bonds, some their cultural bonds and some their political bonds. With some it’s their bonds that they have developed with their pets, tribes are not restricted to just those that take place with in ones own species. Why are some tribes more important to us than others, even though we feel a part of each?
I’m a skeptical guy. Those who know me would probably label me as a contrarian. And to prove the point I would argue voraciously that I am most definitely not one. This, often times unreasonable mode of being, has to some degree or another shaped my skepticism of symbol worship. It goes back a long way. I was raised in my own little tribe, a secular family. It was sometimes dysfunctional, often times enlightening, occasionally downright mean and at it’s best loving and understanding. Up to a certain point we were encouraged to speak our minds around the dinner table. At times it caused fractures and animosity. I think as my siblings and I have aged we have learned not to wade in too deeply into the churning waters of the rhetorical current. We know that if we do there will be a possibility that there would be no one there to pull us up to the surface.
We didn’t go to church growing up accept occasionally with grandparents or friends. My parents weren’t that active in local politics though they held firm beliefs and always voted, mostly Democrat. They kept up with the news and it was often a main topic of conversation. The rituals that we did have were all very benign and of a secular nature. For whatever the reason, I’ve always been leery of following along with the crowds unless it was to stand in the lunch line or anxiously waiting in line to enter the arena to the rock concert. In those cases, I knew there was a payoff involved at the end. It seemed a good deal. Thinking back now far too often I was a selfish little bastard. But I also did my duty. I stood with my hand on my heart at the beginning of the school day and mechanically said the pledge of allegiance with all my little classmates. It felt a little weird but it was just something that you did. I couldn’t figure out exactly why. Not that I wasn’t proud when I did remember the pledge by heart. We were all taught at school to be proud that we were Americans. It was an unquestionable given.
But when I reached the age that I could understand what the words meant, the whole ritual became a little creepy, especially when I saw adults doing it. I began to question to myself why saying the words should make me love my country anymore than I already did. In fact, it made me angry that those in charge were making me repeat myself so often. Looking back now I don’t think that I gained anything from it. Maybe all that time spent glassy-eyed and robot-like repeating those words could have been better spent by learning about civics and moral philosophy. How about just watching one episode of Sesame Street? That would have been more effective at building healthy little minds and developing better citizens. It would be more educational than staring and mumbling at a piece of colored cloth. Saying the pledge didn’t make me feel any closer to my family, my friends or my country.
It’s not like I was forced to do it at any other time in my daily life. I could at least kind of understand other rituals that I was made to do, be them at home or at school. Memorizing math tables, learning and discussing history, grammar and science lessons made some sense even in my young unrefined mind. Once home from the school day I played outside with friends, did homework and chores, had dinner, talked with my family, watched some TV and went to bed. All were part of my daily ritual. They were, if not always enjoyable things to do, at least there was some sense of utility to them and at times they evoked great joy.
I couldn’t say the same for having to stand five days a week, put my hand on my chest and recite the pledge of allegiance. And why did we stand before the football games and sing rockets and bombs? Why did we not have to do it before the school play or the band concert? I can’t recall standing before the tennis matches or track meets either. Did they do it before the debating matches? Why is the national anthem played at team sporting events at all and not at other cultural events? And now at this time, why are so many people feeling threatened by some football players in the NFL who are kneeing as the anthem plays before the games? It seems to me that taking a knee should be the least threatening thing that a person could do. I believe that the players taking part in the kneeling are doing it to draw attention to brutality and excessive violence done by some police against people of color. What’s wrong with bringing attention to injustices as long as they are done nonviolently?
I feel self-righteous uberpatriotic forces are at work, and what better place for these forces to rise into the public conscience than the multi-billion dollar industry that is the NFL.
Patriarch to be continued, or better yet, brought to an end…
Tin Can Jim
These are strange times for sure. Who among us hasn’t had the feeling that the atmosphere has changed?
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’ve devoted too much time to the news or maybe I’ve been reading too many letters to the editors lately. Are times now really as dangerous as they feel? Are we really on the brink of some kind national or even global upheaval? Are the ideas of truth and justice being chipped away by sinister forces? How much trouble have we gotten ourselves into? After all, just keeping up with current events can make it seem that bad news can morph into apocalyptic prophecies overnight. It feels sometimes that we humans are collectively preparing ourselves for a cold winter’s darkness. Our jaws are tightening while at the same time we fight off a growing lethargy. We sense that another storm will strike. We feel it in our bones that it will happen. Will it be physical or psychological blow, or both? Anxiety and uncertainty can tempt us to withdrawal, to disengage, to close our eyes, cover our ears, make us hesitate to reach out and touch anything alive. A chilled atmosphere is leaving us distrustful of strangers, neighbors, our families and even our own sense of morality and benevolence.
It leads us to question what natural order is, or whether there is even such a thing as order. How do we build hope and goodwill in such strange and dangerous times as these? Can we understand the nature of this looming darkness and can we even logically define it? If we can describe it how can we harness the better angles of our nature to fix the problems that face us? How do we seek justice, truth and goodwill in the face of uncertainty and fear? Can I quell the fear in my own heart and be willing to do what it takes to make this a better place for the future sentient beings who will have no choice but to call this little planet home? I think we owe it to ourselves and them to try our best to understand the situation that we’re in, try to understand the true nature of reality.
Writing these words is my attempt to convince myself, and to convince you that this is not an impossible task. I feel I have no choice but to give it a try. I have got to go with the flow of my consciousness and the hand that I was dealt. I accept grudgingly that I may be wrong and that the reasonable way to seek a more just world is at times stand firm and at other times be willing to change, no matter how hard it may be to do so. If I want justice to be on my side I don’t know if it can occur without some sense of morality, some sense of empathy and some sense of courage. How else would we be able to recognize injustice when it shows it’s ugly face before us. But what is ‘justice’? It is a very hard thing to define. I believe it has something to do with fairness and equality, something to do with rights and freedom, something to do with truth. I also think that in order for fairness to prevail, we should reach for a willingness to forgive, prize peace as a great gift, accept the precept that nonviolence is right and that Love is powerful.
Emanuel Kant rightly pointed out the importance of justice when he said, “If justice parishes so will the very meaning of human existence.” I’m all for finding meaning in this chaotic business of being human. It’s not always a easy thing to do though. Nihilism can creep into my heart when I’m feeling sad or when I hear about violence, the indifference to suffering and the destruction of nature that too many humans greedily foster. There is also the titillating aspect of nihilism that I can’t help but to be drawn into sometimes. In a warped way it’s weirdly empowering. I don’t think every hardcore nihilist has to necessarily be a sociopath, a lazy thinker, suffer from a deep depression or simply be an unjust bastard. Why can’t it be possible to be a nihilist and be an ethical person at the same time? I would think it is possible, but I do question if it is sustainable in the long run. Feelings of meaninglessness are more often than not thrust upon us by forces that are beyond our control. But what is not beyond our control is our power to will meaning back into our lives. We are creative, loving, social beings. We can create meaning with the tools of our own consciousnesses and our desires for love and justice.
I read a very good autobiography a few years back. It’s simply titled, ‘Wave’. It was written by Sonali Deraniyagala, a native from Sri Lanka. It is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. Sonali was raised in an upper class family on that beautiful island nestled next to India. She went off to higher education in London where she fell in love and married her future husband, a talented journalist. They settled in London and had two beautiful and healthy sons. They had, what most would consider, a dream life. It was filled with love. They had successful, rewarding and intellectually challenging carriers.
At the end of December in 20004 the family, along with Sonali’s parents, vacationed together at a resort on the Southeast end of Sri Lanka. Her life changed on that vacation. For on December 26th a wave swept through the seaside resort. It was just one part of a tremendously, destructive wave that was triggered by a large earthquake under the ocean. The tsunami killed over a quarter million people who were on the land masses around the Indian Ocean. Among those that were killed were Sonali’s husband, her parents and her two young sons. She was injured but survived. How can one find meaning in life and some sense of justice when confronted with such a horrendous loss? ‘Wave’ is one’s woman’s journey to do just that. It took her many years. She suffered from depression, rage, guilt, hopelessness, drug addiction, she had reoccurring thoughts of and attempts of suicide. The book she wrote is a book about grief. It is a book being trapped on the knifes edge between the past and the future. It is a book about power, the power of nature, so beautiful and so often harsh and indifferent, the power to change one’s own way of being, it is a book about the power of love and acceptance. This little book was not an easy read but one that was rewarding and unbelievably moving.
We all have suffered and we will all suffer more in life. It is part of the deal. We can turn to Buddhist philosophy, we can turn to the philosophy of Jesus, we can turn to other religious teachings, we can turn to Nietzsche, Spinoza or Socrates, we can even turn to science for guidance. But what we can’t afford to do is to turn away from each other. We can’t turn away from nature and the search for truth and justice.
The sad thing that I feel now, especially in this country, is that there is a movement to separate ourselves from moral responsibility and love. There is an all too easy willingness to justify greed and intolerance. The powerful are using religion, patriotism, untruths and hypocrisy as a means for self benefit. They do this at the expense of justice and peace. Things like climate change, the chance of nuclear war. mass extinctions due to the man’s continuing destruction of nature and the possible misuses of bio-engineering and artificial intelligence could very well lead to the downfall of civilization as we know it.
In the face of these, now is the time for me, and for us as a whole, to take a deep look into our hearts and pinpoint what is really meaningful in our lives. I need to readjust my own moral compass, be brave enough to question my reasons and my own selfish desires. Why shouldn’t I/We take the time to contemplate deep concepts, be willing to try to examine from afar cultural constructs, misguided actions and systems that may be destructive and unhealthy.
I doubt that we’ll ever know what is true with a capital “T” or know what is just with a capital “J”. We’ll never completely end suffering. We are mortal beings and we will each die. But I do believe that we can find great meaning in our lives, temporary as they may be. The very act of trying can be what is most meaningful. For not to even try to fight for justice, seek truth, topple the forces of hate with Love, reduce the amount of suffering when possible, would be to disrespect humanity and untie our bonds with each other and with the Universe.
For many of us coming home is like a great exhale. Nirvana. Especially when we’ve been away a long time. For too many, home isn’t always the place we live. Places shift to the home that is to the home that was.
Being in an new and interesting spot where I’m constantly traveling to work on various projects gives me a different perception of “home”. With all of my belongings in storage no house or apartment of my own the concept of “home” becomes a town or region.
I was recently living in NorCal after 11 years in SoCal. 6 of those years were in Topanga, California. Topanga is an unincorporated town in the hills between Santa Monica and Malibu. Having been away from Topanga for over a year I recently returned. It has been absolutely nourishing to the spirit. Before the travel began I was going with the NorCal scene as a base. It was in the first few hours of returning it became apparent that SoCal is home and NorCal was home.
We all deserve to know where are homes are. To have that place to exhale deeply. Homes may change. Some will have the same home (address or region) their entire lives. For most the location of home will change. In short, we need to know where our homes are and do all we can to live there. To know whether home is still home we need to get away. It’s the ultimate test. In this environment we can more easily be plugged in to our infinite potential.
We live in a nutty world. This is evident now more than ever. What makes the world so nutty? Why people of course. No other species behaves so irrationally and plainly against the benefit of self and others(of which sustainability, harmony and contentment are paramount for a balanced life).
Why would an individual and society engage in sustaining a world(especially in the west) so off balance? Well, it’s sort of simple. It’s fear of our own power. We have the power to do the most amazing things once we allow that power to be harnessed.
In ignoring this power we often turn kittens into tigers. If left to ravage and roam these tigers can become more and more powerful. But no matter how large those tigers appear to be, in reality they are just the elongated shadows of kittens.
Part of our immense power is the ability to play with our fears and aversions like the kittens they are. Sure, kittens sometimes scratch too hard and bite a bit with those little needle teeth. But their cuteness never goes away. In time maturity sets in and they mellow into little zen cats. So see your tigers for what they are. Play with them and laugh with them. Once the tigers change to mischievous kittens and then to zen cats it only bolsters our strength, resilience and equanimity.
Today I will be attending my cousins husbands Celebration of Life dinner. I’m very sorry she is having to go through this as they are both in their fifties and were just about to start enjoying his early retirement a few years back. He was mis-diagnosed with early dementia and the debilitating signs made themselves known rather quickly. Shortly before his death he was told that it wasn’t dementia but instead a rare brain disease. The doctors were never certain and none of us thought it would take his life so quickly. His wife and daughters witnessed the loss of his motor skills that led him to suddenly falling when he tried to get up on his own. I saw him last at our Easter brunch in April. He could barely feed himself in slow motion, my great Aunt reaching over constantly to shove more food into his mouth. I remember thinking how awful that must be for him, a former police officer, now having food shoved into his mouth like an infant. Although his motor skills were no longer working I realized he might have been able to know what was going on but not able to speak to us to tell us, underneath his lethargic stature. The thought he was imprisoned within his own skin didn’t set well with me.
My cousin is not an emotional woman used to holding everything together. In fact, it was her home he moved into, along with his daughter, when they got together some fifteen years ago. I feel for her and the three daughters they raised together. He was the man of the house and the only male figure in the family, until now.
Why is life so hard? I personally understand loss as I have faced plenty. My heart goes out to my cousin and her girls. My heart goes out to all of us in this human experience. I truly do stay as optimistic as possible despite my own personal loss and heartache but I can’t deny how challenging this world is and continues to be based on an old and outmoded belief around fear and suffering rooted in separation. How much I wish we would all wake up and be turned on like a light switch in order to see more of who we are. The heart has the ability to love even more than we can imagine no matter how many times its been broken. The mind may not be as strong but the heart is! From that place deep within my heart I send each and everyone reading this post or logging onto this site, the deepest and most sincere blessings of inner peace to you and those you love. May we together bring peace back to this planet by finding it within first and offering it up to all, because we need each other. Today I will witness all of the people showing up to celebrate a man, who is now gone, and how that love will impact my cousin deeply because LOVE is the most powerful force on the planet; a force that never dies.
Last Friday I was suddenly and unexpectedly laid off from my position producing videos for a small company. In a way it wasn’t a surprise. It is a very small company and I felt it brave of them to hire on a full time video person. In the end I got a 5 month gig out of it and had a lot of fun. Though a bit nerve racking, the loss of this position is more exciting than anything. It makes room for something greater.
During the course of working for this NorCal company I took 3 weeks off to do a documentary in the Basque Country, which sits in both Spain and France. This project is meaningful in many ways (More to be revealed in future posts). Upon return I found the day to day production I was doing for the small company less than satisfying. I could feel a funky energy in the air as business slowed down and saw how my job was a luxury where all of the other positions there were vital to the operation. Some days it was a challenge to stay bright eyed and bushy tailed.
I began to take on some side design work as my OT had been cut. For a couple of weeks there I was working all waking hours. I realize that our satisfaction lays in our states of mind, not circumstances. Those circumstances definitely tested me. Even now it is my choice to remain calm and confident.
This loss has already brought many gains. Renewed excitement, sense of adventure and infinite possibilities. It also provides a different lens though which many blessings are apparent. As a an artist and video producer this isn’t my first picnic. And after years in Hollywood my spidey senses were tingling as things seemed to be a bit off with my previous employer.
We are capable of incredible things. Gratitude is a powerful engine to keep us on the road of calm resolve. It is in this space where we create magic and miracles. It’s a beautiful new day and I am so thankful for this bright, shiny and blank canvas!