The Anniversary: Katrina and Me

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“In a time of destruction, create something.”
Maxine Hong Kingston

It’s been a while since I’ve been here. But today is a day of remembrance for me. It’s a day of memories, and a day to finally put behind me. In the sphere of remembrance this day lives, a day that changed my life and the lives of thousands of others who called the Mississippi gulf coast and New Orleans home. Still to this day I find it hard to put into words the feelings that I felt then. Just a few words to describe it would be surreal, unimaginable, catastrophic, disheartening and devastating. This is my Katrina story.

On August 29th, 2005 she made her landfall. The previous morning I had evacuated to Hattiesburg, MS which is approximately 80 miles from the gulf coast and from the town of Long Beach, MS where I was living at the time. It would turn out that I hadn’t evacuated far enough away. That morning at around 6am we lost power and wouldn’t have it back for another 14 days, during the hottest part of the year in the humid, throat strangling air of the gulf south.

Hattiesburg rests in the “pinebelt” of the south. We sat on the porch with winds gusting over 100mph, watching as tall yellow pines snapped in half and fell on top of cars, houses and everything else around them, twisting power lines and smashing through rooftops. We heard the roar of tornadoes touching down and ripping apart homes and uprooting trees. What was left after about six hours was a twisted pile of rubble stuffed under a maze of ripped apart trees.

Back on the coast, things were already gone. My apartment, which once housed all of my possessions, sentimental items and everything that any personal space would contain was completely wiped off of its foundation. Not a shred of carpet or tile was left on the slab. I wouldn’t see my slab until about three days after the storm, when finally a path had been cleared along the roads heading back home.

After all was said and done, after everything was washed away, I was left with only a few things; the clothes on my back, my car and my shoes. I was left with good friends and family, and that’s all that really matters in life anyway. So today, in this sphere of remembrance I choose to let go of this part of my life once and for all. It’s been ten years since that destructive day and this is a marker for all of those who lost loved ones, lives and possessions. In every ending, there lives a beginning, such is the cycle of life.

For all of those who knew what the coast and what New Orleans was like before Katrina, it’s truly hard to move on from and not remember those days before, the times shared and the memories made. We remember the antebellum homes that no longer stand, the many neighborhoods and shops and eateries that no longer exist. But in their ghostly places stand new memories and reminders of days past. It’s a blend of history and a mix of emotion, true. But it is the present, and holding on to the past will get us nowhere.

The picture here is what was left of my little slice of life. It was just a simple apartment. There were many like it, but this one was mine. It housed me in difficult times. I was working two jobs, attending school at the University of Southern Mississippi and I was in the middle of a divorce. I’d lived there only about 9 months and was about to renew my lease. But, all was washed away and wiped clean and for the longest time I couldn’t understand why, but now I do.

Without Katrina and her devastation I may have never embarked upon my own spiritual path of understanding, never taken to the open road in search of myself and in search of meaning. It was through Katrina that I found my calling in life and though she took many things from me, I owe her gratitude.

In remembrance, and in all spheres, we must always remember:

No matter how great the suffering, how horrific the devastation or how intolerable the pain….

Everything happens for a reason.

The Burning Problem

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We live in a sphere of hypocrisy, in a world of vanity, lawless judgement and self-deified proclamations. It is within this sphere that we find the cries and fires of Baltimore, and the void within the hearts of those who condemn the condemned. This is the burning, and this is the problem.

Having traveled the globe, having seen third-world conditions first-hand as a young Marine, I had my eyes opened then to the world as it exists beyond the confines of my very limited world view at the time. It was then clear to me that the class and caste system that I saw in these countries creates a vast polarization between the privileged people, and those people who are less fortunate. At the age of 18, I was unaware that this class system existed in my home country, but as I became older, and more aware, it became all too evident that this is the truth in this country as well. Though this truth, this hard reality, is overlooked and not understood even by its own people, it is a truth that we all abide, and live by. Even though the people of our inner cities, our unseen neighbors, are dying; even though these communities are in extreme peril, some even uninhabitable, we still turn to our own pride and hypocrisy to explain the system and turn a blind eye to the problem that permeates our entire world.

This is a reality that has existed long before me, one that has existed for centuries. Truth be told, many of us who live in the United States have no experience or understanding of these extremely impoverished conditions, yet they exist right here, in our own cities, in some cases just a few blocks from our very doorsteps. And, these conditions exist in the same fashion as those of lesser privileged nations, sometimes much worse.

I’ve heard all of the rhetoric. We’ve heard it all many times, and it is the same diatribe each and every time. And while the media continues to propagate the carnage, only continuously looping images and video of the same fires, the same bottle throwing and the same looting, they miss the thousands of people that peacefully marched, they miss the message that this community is desperately trying to speak about, and they fuel the fire and rage already burning inside the community, as it has for generations.

And what’s more, here’s the generic quote of the day spoken by thousands like a flock of well trained parrots:

“There’s no excuse for this thuggish violence.” Of course there isn’t an excuse.

However, this is what happens when the lawlessness of the representative body is imposed upon its own people. This lawlessness is then reflected tenfold by its people onto its representative body. This is the outcry of a subdued and impoverished community. This is the outcry of Baltimore, and thousands of other communities in our country. This is the result of decades of failed policy, empty rhetoric and the lack of empathy for fellow man. The last of which is the underlying problem throughout the world.

It’s so easy to say that people should strive to do better for themselves, that they can make better lives if they just try. It’s so easy to say that if I can do it, you can do it too. I’ve heard it over and over. “I came from the streets, nobody helped me.” Or, “I came from a a poor family, and look at me now.” Well, good for you. Now, help someone else since you’re doing so well.

If we must live in communities where people only help themselves, what’s the point of a community?

Places like that of Baltimore, New Orleans, Detroit, D.C., Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, and Miami and many, many others all have a common inner city problem. This problems stems from the lack of empathy, representation, and support from the “governing bodies” that are in place to protect and nurture these communities. These communities have no jobs. People sell drugs or sell their own bodies to survive. These communities have little to no education systems in place, or if they do, no teachers willing to do the tough job, walk through the neighborhood or interact with the people. These communities have no representation, as though they’ve been excommunicated from the city itself, yet most of these neighborhoods are less than a few blocks from their respective city halls.

When did people become so self-righteous, so self-absorbed, so vain and so hypocritical that the word of the day is to condemn these communities to the peril in which they already live?

If we cannot see beyond our own porch steps, beyond the smoke from the liquor store, beyond the fires from the CVS, and far beyond the pile of ash and cinder that once was a church and finally acknowledge that the problem is not in these neighborhoods alone, but in the hearts of all the people that surround them, then we as a human race, as a communal and social people are doomed to our own hands.

I truly hope for change. But this change is one that requires a change of heart, and of consciousness. It is a change that must begin within each and every person.

Maybe one day, we’ll all look at our own reflection and forget to see ourselves, and instead, see our neighbors.

The Good Fight

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“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

In life we often think about our goals, our dreams and our ambitions. We focus on these often at times, sometimes not so often, other times not at all. Sometimes we lose sight of them in our busyness, being caught up in life, set upon by trials, obstacles, regrets or other turmoil beyond our control. Yet with some, the focus on dreams and ambitions remains vigilant even in the darkest light, even among the heaviest of trials. Spheres of headlong focus, and fighting to achieve dreams exist within us all, if we should only grasp these pearls and know of their strength.

It is the fight. The good fight; a fight to realize our own truths, to grow into who we truly are. Without our fight, without our dreams, our soul becomes stagnant, suffocated, struggling to breathe. It is in the dying of our selves that we become what some call “wiser” or “grown-up.” We look back to what we now consider foolish pursuits and say, that was a waste of time. But, was it? Or does the time we waste belong in the action of non-pursuit? Was the time that we spent dreaming, conjuring, planning and setting course to achieve wholeness truly wasteful? My answer is no.

It is in pursuit of dreams where we are the most alive. This is realized in both the peace and excitement that we feel while pursuing our dreams along our path. It is realized in the discouragement we feel when we think we’ve failed, yet we remain unaware that we’ve only begun. It is realized in the sense of accomplishment we feel when we end the last page, sign our work, receive our degree, or plant a new seed in our garden and cover it with Earth. It is fully realized when we stop chasing after our dreams and our heart beat is then muffled, beating quieter when we are not actively pursuing our dreams.

For many, dreams are thrown to the wayside in frustration, in defeat and in the moment when all things crash and fall around us. These dreams lay dormant, eroding away never to be realized in life. They remain only an idea, only a beautiful thought that struggles to know the light of the world. They die in our non-action, in our act of “growing up.”

We can all grow up, and dream still.

In the past, I was often told by others that “dreams don’t pay the bills.” Well, to this I’ve always responded by saying that one day they just might. And regardless, to me, dreams pay the bills of the heart. Without dreaming and pursuing these ambitions, my heart grows silent and recedes from action. Without paying the bills of the heart we become evicted from our true self, our true ideal.

I’ve thought about it, forgetting my dreams. And, in doing so, I become practical, level-headed and mature. I delete the thought of what could be and replace it with what is. But then I am saddened. Because what could be is far more tantalizing and full of life than what is. What could be keeps me going, it keeps me active, it keeps me vigilant and intrepid. Without what could be, why even be?

Along the path to realize our dreams, getting lost in our trials and obstacles is one thing that happens, and I cannot blame a person for becoming discouraged during these times. But, perhaps these aren’t trials at all. If only we could be shown so.

“Before, in that moment still, I’d thought about all of my shortcomings, all of my trials, pitfalls and poor happenstance and thought of them deeply. I thought of them as nothing more than painful obstacles. But, just as I had these thoughts, a voice in my ether spoke and said: “These are not obstacles, they are gifts.” And then I thought about it for a moment as I looked upon the landscape before me, as I looked about all the small wildflowers that sprinkled the landscape and couldn’t help but to think, how beautiful they were. Then I realized in that moment of synchronicity that the voice spoke true. Everything was a gift, and I was truly grateful.”

The above passage is an excerpt from my next book that I’m working to finish. And in this example, I hope that one can understand the importance of pursuing dreams, even in the face of torment, adversity or within a run of setbacks.

Each day, hour, minute, second, thought and idea are gifted to us. Within each of these are other gifts. These are gifts within gifts, if we only realize it. Our paths are full of gifts, only to be opened by our hands, and only witnessed by our eyes.

To the dreamer, think about your gifts. Recall these moments where hope was nearly lost, and be thankful that you never stopped.

It is vital that we never stop dreaming, that we never stop creating our dreams, and more importantly, never stop pursuing them. It is only within this sphere, the sphere of dreams, one that dwells in tandem with the soul, that we reveal our own truth to ourselves.

Dream on, and fight the good fight.

Start

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“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new, and trust the magic of new beginnings.” ~ Meister Eckhart

The picture here is one of my most vivid memories. It is ingrained in my mind, branded upon my heart and lives as a signpost of change; a threshold to be crossed mindfully, one that beckons new, brighter days and humbled beginnings. It is the mighty Mississippi. Not only does it divide a great continent and form the border between my southerly neighbor, but it forms the border of consciousness, a crossing; one that is ever leading toward higher atonement. It signifies the precipice of new thought, new horizons and new beginnings. It signifies a new sphere, one not traveled or explored; the other side of thought, a new shore. The unknown lives there, across the bridge of the heart and mind.

Meister Eckhart is true in his phrasing. Suddenly we all feel this sensation, that gnosis of primitive origins. We know when it is time to start again, begin once more, try new things or.. to try that old thing that we haven’t yet applied ourselves toward. It is in trusting our intuition, the grace of our divine nature, that we begin new endeavors and look bright-eyed at the world as though we were all once again children. It is in this moment that we realize our vestige. We reach into our creative force and produce our greatest work; our true Magnum Opus to the world, and to ourselves.

I came upon both this image and this quote randomly today. These came with a moment of clarity, and in perfect timing. And here, I must thank Carmenseekstruth for the synchronicity of this timing.

The picture is one I took last summer, and though the river is high now, the image today is still one of lush green, flowing water, puffed though ominous clouds and still to me gives the notion of solace, happiness, revival and grand beginnings.

It was the same then, when I first marveled at crossing this river at the age of six. Now over thirty years later, the feeling has never changed. It has grown louder, stronger and is more present in my life than ever before. It represents the flow of thought, the flow of time and the ever present flow of creativity and life.

We find ourselves often flowing along, trying this or starting that. Sometimes we finish, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But sometimes, between the spaces where dark and light meet, we have a great swirling of thought. This thought combines with our energy and grows. It becomes an idea, and takes residence in our hearts if we’re so lucky. There in the heart it is nurtured, it is watered and fed. We give it life.

Today, in such a distracting world, it is often hard to find the place where our hearts can nurture new ideas, to begin anew and not falter along the way. Often it is said that the greatest works of art, writing or music are never realized. This is because they never make it further than an idea, they never have audience, and they never see the page, the canvas or the stage. We must all embrace our inner magic, have the diligence to release to the world our hearts, our ideas, our desires; our magic creations inspired by the nine muses. We must begin, we must start.

Beginnings are marked with a spark. For this divine spark to be fanned into the flame takes courage, perseverance and fortitude. Without our desire, this spark is only a glint in a moment of time; a tiny insignificant spec that lived for half a second.

Shouldn’t we all catch our spark, fan our flame and carry the fire?

Why not give it a shot?

The world needs our voices, and too many sparks are vanquished by declining to try. Today, I hope that we all try. I hope that we all can have that moment of clarity; a moment where the magic of new beginnings are realized and acted upon; a moment of truth, vision and love.

If it is altruistic, creative, full of love, happiness or hope, then for the sake of the world… Realize its creation. Start.

The greatest things are all willed into existence. But it all must begin within.

Today, start. Tomorrow, start. And the next day, again, start. Never stop.

This moment is all we have, and we all will never be any younger than this very second.

Start.

Beginnings are gifts. I choose not to waste them. I hope you all will do the same.

Namaste

Equinoxes, Eclipses and the Madness of March

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“A lot of you cared, just not enough.” ~ Jay Asher

I’ll keep this short…

Something is in the air.

Something that comes riding the dry wind.

It is a mist of petrichor that lives among the dust, following the wind, though this wind swarms the Earth; dark at times, though it holds light.

This wind consumes our sphere, and today the sphere is volatile, tilting its way to the Vernal equinox, for just a few moments sharing equal light and equal night over the world. What is in the mind of the world today? This month? When most people are sorting out the madness of their March brackets, peering into the chaos that random chance plays, the eyes of the world see a multitude of sorrow, a heap of strife and struggle. Darkness is alive with madness, in this month of moons and eclipses.

We find ourselves in the midst of the Tetrad, mirroring the last days in the life of Jesus. Blood moons wax and wane in our conscious sphere. It is the talk of the year in some circles and a solar eclipse marks the beginning of Spring today, with a full Lunar eclipse pending just a short spell away. Synchronicity is found in many cycles, especially this year. But what else is new? What is this madness of March?

Yesterday, just a mere half-hour south of my Mother’s home, a black man was found hanging from a tree in the woods. Plastered all over the news, this incident already has residents angered, though they know not yet why or how this happened. Injustice rules the land far and wide. Police brutality against minorities is at an all time high, being reported across the country with hashtags and retweets ruling the digital frontier.

What else?

A woman answers an ad for baby clothes for sale on Craigslist, and then hours later has her fetus brutally cut from her stomach. A shooting leaves both dead and wounded in Arizona, and a museum in Tunisia is attacked by IS killing and wounding several. Today in Yemen, nearly 150 people are dead after another subsequent attack. What is this madness of March?

Is this our current paradigm; the destructive pattern of humanity? Is this what we are to expect for the future? A world of hearltessness teeming with disconcerned people with no compassion or respect for life? Are we to walk in a world of vain selfishness and horror, to say to our children: Hark, here is the world.. Go forth and live, if you dare?

Personally, I find this time to be clearly special, yet the light I feel from the world is subtracted by its equal darkness. Truth is… I suppose you cannot have light without darkness, and on the Equinox, the equal night, we see just how beautiful the world is, and correspondingly just how horrific it can be.

I could go on for a day writing of all the horror reported locally, nationally or from across the globe. But, what is the point? I only wish for equal peace, a total eclipse of altruism and compassion; a day when consciousness shifts beyond the self and toward the divine light. I wish for equal light.

If a day of light will shine on us all, just once.. This will be a day of reckoning. It will be the apocalypse of the heart; the emanation of truth without selfish desire.

Until then, my prayers will be for the world. My meditation will always hold the truth. I hope that more would do the same and spread the fire of love once again into the world, for the sake of those with us now, and for the future of life and freedom.

Be humble for the day that is now, for it may become darker. Just hold the fire in your heart, and carry its light always.

Remember, No amount of darkness can extinguish true light.

Namaste

Remember the Carnival

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“You can only lose what you cling to.” ~ Buddha

In Latin, the word “Carnival” means “Farewell to the Flesh.” It is within this form of thought that we find the earliest pre-fast celebration. It is on this day, Fat Tuesday, that we celebrate, remember and look forward to a time of fasting, a time of Lent. We look for things that we must relinquish, let go of and move on from. It is on this position that I find myself here, in this sphere, remembering and giving thanks.

I remember the first post I wrote on this blog. It was three years ago yesterday. My first post was about a river; not just any river, but the river that flowed behind my house in New York. I recall at the time it was frozen over, but it was still beautiful as I walked along its bank, thick with ice and snow. It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years since that day. Since that time I’ve walked along a few more rivers, and through many spheres, exploring and pondering, contemplating and understanding. Today I find myself within a new sphere, one that begs my intuition to listen.

Life is interesting, containing a great assortment of colorful spheres, miracles and wonder. Life is also about change, containing choice, and accepting change. As most human beings seem resilient to change, I’ve found that it is within embracing these changes where we find the most growth.

Change occurs as and where it must, whether these changes are inviting or not matters little. It is how we accept and move forward that makes the difference.

During the past three years I’ve moved and changed more than I’d originally realized until today. It wasn’t so long ago that I found myself in a tiny hamlet in upstate New York, a place where I never thought I’d live. But it was how things happened. I found myself there without hesitation and without anywhere else to go at the time. It was there that I found my voice, reached into myself and understood why I was there. For me, it was my time for solitude, to become intimate with myself, to find my muse and to take a step back, look at life and contemplate my own path. Truth be told, if it wasn’t for New York, these words may never be written.

It was barely a year later that I found myself moving again, this time back home to the deep south; a place that I will always call home. It was there that I again found myself in the midst of change, having to make a decision once again. I then moved to the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain, commuting back and forth to New Orleans where I stayed for another year and a half. It was a good time, a time for work, growth and play. But as all things change, nearly a year ago they changed once more.

Last spring, I then found myself here where I sit now, here at over a mile above sea level in Colorado. Here I’ve learned valuable lessons, lessons about time and change. I’ve learned that a time for a return is necessary, a time for a new change and a new solitude. No matter how I came here, it is a time for letting go and returning to my roots.

We all know when we hear our inner voice, though sometimes it is ignored. Then we all feel the winds of change. These winds call to us to hear not only their trumpet, but to listen to our own voice as well; the inner voice that we often ignore. Sometimes this voice shouts at us from within when we fail to listen. Sometimes it is loud, and other times it is relentless. This voice begs us to stop, look and listen. It begs us to heed the call, a call to something greater than ourselves.

No matter all of my moving, my changing, my attempts at understanding life and the path I choose, I’m called back to one absolute that I hold true. If not for the sake of love and family, my path would not exist. Despite all of the changes, the decisions or dreams, goals and aspirations, we are only here a short while. It is the time we take to make our voices heard that truly matters. It is the choices we make that do not include ourselves that speak to the ages. These are the actions of those we remember.

In this sphere of life and constant change, I choose to be remembered. If not for my written words or art, but for the actions I’ve taken, decisions I’ve made and for the life that I’ve lived. We can’t all have our busts chiseled into the annals of history, be great in the eyes of the world or have our name etched into stone walls, but our memories live on in those who we inspire, love and help. These are great things.

The past three years have taught me well. I’ve grown, learned and lived. But I’m not finished. Not by far. So, on this day of celebration, whether or not Mardi Gras is on your agenda, thank you all for joining me, reading, commenting and listening for the past few years. This has been my sphere, my sphere of life that I walk through graciously and humbly, and I’m happy to be a part of such wonderful and inspiring company.

We should all remember our own carnival, our own farewell to the flesh. It is in understanding this time of change, celebration and letting go that we become our true selves.

Namaste, Godspeed and Happy Mardi Gras.

On Purpose

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“As long as I am breathing, in my eyes, I am just beginning.” ~ Criss Jami

The heart is a source. It is a source of power and light. This source that we have beating deep within our bodies is more powerful than we give credit. It allows us to feel, to love, grow and change. Without this divine source emanating from us, we may not ever know life. But what is it to know life?

Through a sphere of purpose we explore these thoughts.

It’s always interesting to ponder the thought of how we ended up where we now stand, how we became the person that we are. What drives us? What is the set of conditions that brought us here? Where are these conditions born? Through what spheres must we travel to find these elusive answers?

We must travel through all spheres to live, to awaken and to become.

We must learn our hearts before we can choose our desires, our callings and our kismet.

This being said, I often wonder what drives a man to do what he does, to do what he thinks he should, to accept or pursue his calling in life. Though this is different for all men, through my own questions I find my own answers.

What is a calling? What is the feeling that overwhelms the heart and mind to know this calling is real?

Is it a feeling of acceptance, belonging? Is it a sense of duty? Is it a sphere of desire, or is it a sphere of purpose?

Is it both?

For answers, I look at the stock broker.

What drives a man to become a stock broker? Is it the money? Is it a sense of purpose? Does he simply love statistics, math and numbers? What fruits does this profession bring spiritually? Do fruits of spiritual awareness matter to this man?

No matter the answers, the man chose what he wanted in life and pursued it until it was his. Regardless of motivation, he became what he wanted to become through effort, perseverance and hard work. Maybe it was all chance, or maybe it wasn’t. Still, he sits where he sits, doing what he does.

It’s easy to argue that this man’s driving force is money. But instead, what if it’s something that he truly loves? What if this motivation is simply to live happy, to provide for a family? What if this is all?

For me, so long as one is kind and compassionate about his life and fellow neighbors, there is nothing wrong with a profession, no matter the driving force. It is his to do with as he pleases, and for no one else to herald judgment.

Perhaps this is his life’s goal, a goal he’s held since a small child.

On that note, I remember being asked what I wanted to be when I grew up.

This answer changed over the years of course. At first, it was a paleontologist. I had a love for dinosaurs just as every other child probably did. It then turned into being an archaeologist. I had a fascination with Indiana Jones and other stories of explorers hunting treasures around the globe.

As the years ticked by, I thought of being an architect, an astronaut, pilot, psychologist, teacher and even an FBI agent. Then at one point I think I even wanted to be a musician, though my singing voice would certainly shred eardrums.

What I realized though, I was only good at a few things.

Then I realized further, I was only interested in a few things completely in my heart and mind.

I was good at drawing and writing. I had a wild imagination, and I could harness it and put it into words and colors; I could breathe life into my imagination, though still on such a small scale.

This became my passion, my calling and I pursue it still.

Though many bumps have been felt along the way, I still look at my life with little regret. I’d love to say that I have nothing in the way of regret, and often I’m reminded that I shouldn’t, but it is a human condition to think back to a point and to wonder; what if?

What if I didn’t join the Marines? What if I took that job working offshore in the gulf oil industry? What if I left home for college like I’d planned so many years ago and never returned?

Well, then at this tender young age of mine, just a couple of short years before the big 40, I probably wouldn’t have so many beautiful blessings in life. In fact, even if one simple thing was changed, then I probably wouldn’t have been sitting where I was at that precise moment when I met my daughter’s mother.

I cannot imagine a life without my little girl, so I choose not to regret. All my decisions and choices were full of purpose, just so that she could be.

No matter what we do in life, no matter our profession or whatever label we’re given, it is up to us to pursue what we feel is our life’s work, our masterpiece; our grand symphony to the universe.

Even if nobody ever reads our great work, stares at our artful masterpiece, or hears our orchestra of life, we are the ones who see, hear and feel it all. It is ours to carry and ours to bear. This sphere is inescapable. We must embrace this.

Like the stock broker, the baseball player, the prostitute and the elected congressman, we are all living our lives the only way we know how. Some may be more spiritual than others. Some are more respected than others, but no matter, we are all neighbors. We are all living, looking and striving to be our best in this life.

Walk with awareness in the sphere of purpose. Understand that it is different for everyone. Keep a close eye on what matters most, and a warm hand on your heart. Only through our passions can we find our peace.

It is within the knowledge of the self, the gnosis of our hearts, and through our attunement of these that will one day open our eyes to our own true greatness.

A Parting Moment

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“She smiled and said with an ecstatic air: “It shines like a little diamond”,
“What does?”
“This moment. It is round, it hangs in empty space like a little diamond; I am eternal.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre, The Age of Reason

Worlds away, far gone, beyond that which is knowable. Words to describe the soul, or to describe this:

I often think about travel. I do it often. Without much hesitation or thought, I’ll take off at the drop of a hat. Perhaps it’s my Roma roots, my true gypsy blood. Nevertheless it is an act I’m all too familiar with; the act of parting.

Here in the sphere of the departed, I look closely at my own will, into my own longing, and at my own footprints. Where do I go, and where do I stand?

What is it to part from loved ones? Why does this feeling crash into the heart with sudden ferocity? While on the precipice of departing once again, my heart is heavy though my mind is clear.

This isn’t the first time I’ve held bags in my hand, ready to go. I learned this from a very young age. First by coming from a family spread far across the country, then from service in the Marine Corps.

We are all travelers in this family here, and always will be.

I’ve traveled far and wide, away from friends and loved ones my whole life it seems, yet, the feeling persists; a daunting heartbreak looms before the act of leaving. Before my feet set upon my journey I am reminded of where I stand. My mind sees the destination, but my heart longs to stay.

It is a true enigma at times, this act of parting. We all say our goodbyes, hug tightly to the necks of our loves, then as a tear jerks free we turn our backs and set forth our longview gaze.

We do this because it is part of who we are. We take stride onto the path of life, despite any resounding echo to stay, we push on. We do this because our soul knows the way. It leads us to tomorrow, always aware of the final destination.

Though I know this as my truth, I am beckoned by the echo once more.

I’ve recently spent the better part of two months here at my mother’s home in the deep south. I decided a trip for the holiday season was in order and now it comes to a close, life is waiting for me back in Colorado. Though I’m ready to get back and sink myself back into business as usual, I am not yet ready to leave; not willing to part.

Parting from here is always a difficult task, but, my feet know where to take me and my reluctant body listens to my soul.

It will be another long trip, miles across a cold countryside once again. This parting is familiar, bittersweet, but full of love.

I long for the day when I no longer have to part from family, for the day when all my hello and goodbyes are done. This day that seems so far ahead is still readily close, possibly much closer than I can see. It will come in the moment that continues still, this moment. This moment that effortlessly unfolds around us and within us all. It is all within this one singularity, this moment, that we part and return, and part again. We see not the finish, the beginning or the end of this moment, but only the hour. One day at a time we witness this moment change, shift, darken and lighten. We feel it shade our heads and brighten our hearts and minds. We all grow within it, this eternal moment.

The moment is not escapable, only livable. It is the life we live, this one continuous constantly changing moment.

Within the sphere of the departed, I witness this moment of life. I witness this and realize that only now is now, not ever changing; only moving and evolving. And no matter how far I travel, I am still here, now, in this moment.

No matter the distance, no matter where I live or how often I leave, in just a simple thought my time of parting and returning become one, and I am happy knowing that I am never too far from home; never too far from love, always close to this sacred bond that commands my heart.

Should we all realize that it is here, now where we all dwell, in a singular eternal moment of love; this will be the day when we all truly see one another, and we will never be apart again.

Only then will we finally greet each other as one, here, in this moment

Je Suis Paris

photo“Do you think a society is good, or that people are good? We are only as good as the artists and writers can make us appear.” ~ Anonymous

It’s difficult for me to sit back and say nothing about the events of the past few days in Paris, France. But as the bloodshed continues headlining every news channel and permeating my mind, I cannot help but to voice my thoughts of this insidious sphere. I cannot help but be saddened for the loss of all lives, yet I’m reminded of a simple time in my life, one that seems so long ago, but one that solidified my duty in life long before I was ever aware of it.

I’m reminded of my love for creation.

What is it to be creative? What does it mean to spend hours creating, crafting and working only to step back and breathe life into a work of art or words? What is this feeling of muse, this desire to create? What does it mean?

As I am both an artist and a writer, I must express my opinion and answer these questions as only I can. Though it is different for all, the reasons for why remain true. The centrality of the answer is of one sphere; one common bond shared in the creative spirit.

We are the voices of the world. We paint bare walls of lifeless concrete and brick with color and depth, giving them life, freeing them from the grey; the blankness, the void of feeling.

We make a wall happy, we make a sidewalk bright. We make the books that children hate to read tolerable and interesting. We see color where there is no light. We see shades where only blackness exists. We paint life into lifelessness.

We burn the tongues with flavor and steep the mind with wonder. We give our hearts to the world, only to be creative and we ask nothing in return.

We only exist to speak, brush and brighten.

Speaking of brightness. I remember the age of twelve. This was the time where my world consisted only of artwork and stories; my stories, stories I wrote just because I could. I never shared these stories.

These stories were of people, places and ideas, yet they never saw the light of any eyes beyond my own. They lived only in my room, never traveling beyond my desk drawer. Even more lived only in my mind, never free, never birthing from my heart; never to grace another.

Then there were my drawings. Drawings so simple that I dared show them to anyone; scribbles with pen and pencil, pastel and charcoal. Figures that I saw in my head, things that I imagined. All of these things lived in my room, in my notebook, my sketchbook and folder. These creations never would wake. They would never reveal their power and they would never receive ridicule, criticism, promise or praise.

My world was my creation, my interpretation of the world around me, my assimilation of the things I was told and taught, of what I heard, spoke and thought. These simple expressions of my sensory world would flow back through my eyes, through my hands and then through the pen or the brush to land on a page where they would touch nobody but me, where they were safe.

But this was the age of twelve.

Shortly after this time still living within my own world of lines and letters, portraits and paragraphs, near the age of thirteen, I remember sitting at my cousin’s house. I remember it clearly, as it would be a day that changed my distinction of the world of Art.

We were to spend the summer together. That night I sat up doodling on my sketchpad which was full of every drawing one could think of. Everything from cartoons to stick figures, from comic book characters to my first attempts at abstract art or impressionism. But mostly…. It was full of drawings of Spider-Man.

On the eve before we were to make the 600 mile journey from Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico where my grandparents resided, her boyfriend, a man named Charles, came over the night before we would depart.

I remember it clearly:

“What are you drawing over there bud?”

“Nothing.” I mumbled.

“Well, let’s see!”

Before I could really defend my sketchpad from the eyes of someone else it had been taken from me, though gently.

As Charles and my cousin looked through my sketchbook they kept looking back at me with gaping mouths. I could only imagine what they thought. But only words of praise came from their lips.

As the show and tell progressed, Charles asked me what my friends thought about them. I responded by saying that I never had shown anyone. Nobody had ever read my stories and nobody had ever seen my artwork.

He asked why.

I said with an interrogative tone, “Because what if they hate them?”

He looked at me and laughed, then grabbed a newspaper. Pointing to the comic strips, he said,

“Do you think these guys were afraid of being hated, probably, but now everyone gets to appreciate their effort.”

“It’s a risk you’ll have to take one day bud.”

And with that simple statement, my world was invaded. My private world was shattered with the words of logic and reason that was so sound in my young mind that I could not dispute it. The validity of the moment was what I felt, and I can say without any question that in that particular moment, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted nothing more than to be a writer and artist.

This is why we write, paint, draw, sculpt, dance and sing. Because we can. Because it makes a distinct impression on the world around us. Because it reflects our culture, our lives and our world. We express the form of what we see through a myriad of mediums. This is a part of being human. We bring the human condition to the forefront, telling stories and carving busts that last throughout time, some lasting thousands upon thousands of years.

We etch images and phrase into the stone tablets of history simply because we can. We need no commissions for this, no compensation at all. We gladly create and leave it there for all to know about, wonder about, smile and imagine.

For those who believe that they can silence the artisans of the world in the place of religious or political rhetoric, these people will fail. We are the hands of the world, creating what we perceive as life, exercising our divine right of the freedom of self-expression.

Particularly for those who attempt to punish artists for making religious statements in the name of God, these people are fools. We will drag their images into the annals of history and leave nothing but the stain of their pathetic vengeance and disregard for human life as their legacy.

Should we all cower under the blanket as those with malicious agendas attempt to censor and terrorize our inalienable God given rights? I shall not.

Should we all be twelve years old? Afraid to show the beauty, humor, sadness or glory of our work simply because someone may hate it?

I never will again.

This is the sphere of judgment, and Judgment is not the place or duty or right of ANY man, no matter their religion, ideology or philosophy; and certainly not for those who do so while proclaiming the love and greatness of God.

How dare anyone use God as a scapegoat for the slaughter and violence we’ve seen in the past few days. Whether or not you agree with political or religious satire matters little. These are opinions, and this is the expression of the world in which we live.

Live and love righteously and then perhaps we’ll paint a better picture of life; expressing a life of even more beauty than could possibly be realized.

It saddens my heart, as I feel and know that I’ve lost brothers.

If we are to live among one another, we must love one another; opinions and expressions alike. It is this simple.

Je Suis Charlie

 

 

 

Happy New Life

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“The Art of Living Well and The Art of Dying Well are One.” ~ Epicurus

Here we are again…

The end becomes the beginning, and the beginning is heralded by the end.

The cycle of one Gregorian year culminates here in the sphere of circles; the great precession of seasons ends and begins here; here in the sphere of spheres. This sphere once again falls, dropping down to end the current paradigm, and beginning the next to come.

What is in a year anyway? What does one annual return, or any return hold for the human being? Why are people so infatuated with cyclical endings and beginnings? What purpose does this ingrained fascination serve us?

I believe there is much more to it than simply a completed series of checked boxes. Our intrigue and celebration of these events suggests much more than the simple acknowledgement of the passage of time, or for the coming of a new era. This is a deep chasm, one to be wary of when traveled.

I’ve often thought of endings and beginnings as being synonymous. It only makes sense to me. One thing cannot end without something beginning, transforming or becoming. It is here where we must view the cycle as it should be viewed; as ongoing, never broken but instead artfully creating the illusion of the passage; the finishing, the end.

A very ancient philosophical view takes form in the art of death; the ultimate end, the sure passage of finite life into ether. This view is found in many cultures across time and geography. One can find the source of our celebration in these thoughts, so long as he looks closely so as not to miss the simplicity.

It is upon the precipice of death that we live our greatest moment, find our greatest strength and glean our first view at our own true reflections. In the moment where all is sure to be lost, we will defy the logic of our own minds and of the world in strides of saving ourselves or another.

Dying is the celebration. Death is the celebration, for death is no more an ending than a grand beginning; the point where we transcend the physical, become one with space and time; where we then move beyond the boundaries of human thought.

This is the universal craft; the art of death.

The art of dying, of becoming aware of your death, knowing that at any moment you will no longer be is acknowledged throughout time. This is a cornerstone of philosophical thought found throughout ancient Greece. Bruce Lee spoke of this art when facing an opponent. The ancient Roma looked upon remembering death as a form of magic.

In Latin, the phrase “Memento Mori” reminds us that we are already dead, just not yet. This forms the basis for the practice of relinquishing earthly and worldly chains, desires and wishes. It is the quickening, the recognition that frees the spirit from becoming hardened by the world, from drowning under pleasures which afflict the body, mind and spirit. It’s the thought that whispers in our ear, begging us for the remembrance of home; to remember where we truly belong.

It is no wonder that we celebrate our endings and our beginnings, for we have long known that our lives are to become more than dust. These returns of cycles represent the singularity; the archetype of the grand death, the great transformation; the resurrection and the ascent of pure spirit.

Here in our celebration and revelry, we find the flight of the soul, the beginning of the true journey.

In our travels throughout life, we walk toward a light, we travel toward home, and ultimately we know that our death will bring us closer to that place of peace, that home of homes waiting in the presence of the divine.

Enjoy the end of this year, and be happy as the new cycle begins. Celebrate, give thanks and praise each other’s company. It is within this sphere that we all truly dwell; aware yet avoiding the realization of what our celebration truly represents. And the celebration is well deserved.

For one day, in the end, we will all become.