Within a Single Cigarette

Shorts


My body was feeling uncomfortably tight after sitting on an uncomfortable couch inside an uncomfortable stagnant heat trapped in my house. I stepped outside to enjoy a cigarette and the cool night breeze.

An added bonus were the clear starry skies and my friendly black house cat who sat perched on the ledge of the stone steps leading up to the house. I sat beside her, lit the embers of tobacco and sucked in the smooth soothing smoke.

I looked down at that black cat who looked out down the street at all of the world that she could see. I followed her gaze and peered into her small world she roams at night and day, wondering at the simplicity of her thought, before arching my neck back to stare upon the stars.

Those stars. Those stars I know to be millions of light years away. Some billions. Those stars I know to be massive incandescent gases, some wobbling by effect of much smaller  planets orbiting them. I stared up at those stars and realized I could look at them from so far away, but did not have to live in a world where I wondered what they were.

I knew.

I could imagine with great accuracy what each of those stars actually looked like, because my species, human kind, dared to look beyond our own small world. We dared to look beyond the perseverance of our domain.

We dared to know more than was necessary just to survive.

But at what cost?

Every culture has looked up at the stars. Every person has looked up at the sun and wondered how its light shines upon our form and we are made in its image. Every parent has observed their children grow into their own, separate from them, internalized into the understanding of eternity at last.

Every culture has formed elaborate stories around their findings of the world; of the universe, of their own understanding for our existence – how we came to be, and where are we going.

The society is the father, bringing support and stability to the people. Structure, the backbone to the mechanisms of life. And the mother, she nurtures that life with constant love. And so we observe the grandest phenomenons of our universe take part in all aspects of life. Certain universal truths discovered independently and in different ways from culture to culture.

These truths become encoded into our stories, recordings of our existence; and thus our continued existence is testimony to our pursuit of immortality…. not as individuals, but as a species, as a creature of the earth, and since we cannot survive without the continued existence of our fellow creatures, then it no longer is just a pursuit of one single species.

No.

We are merely the ambassadors of the collective life of this planet. We have been selected (naturally mind you) to be “awakened” to our own self-realization of life, through the very complex and rare evolutionary and physical leap of certain random yet precise DNA mutations to persuade the advantage for a correct patterning of coding that allows our body’s to do what they do today:

observe beyond our present world and wander within the realms of past and future with ease and fluency.

And each culture that has come and gone and united and ripped apart, left behind memories of their greatest humanitarian accomplishments and saddest tragedies, searching for a sign of why we are the way we are.

Why we have been “chosen”.

And every collective identity of culture has struggled with this special feeling, this strange power. And every culture has constructed laws and morals and taboos to help contain this struggle as we, from one generation to the next, one era to the next, unravel the deep mysterious answer to our question: that in someway, this answer, this source for our existence, will somehow reveal to us our purpose and reason to continue on this path, an answer to why we should persevere through the pain and suffering all around us. That it is happening for a reason, that it is only a phase in our efforts to detangle from the confusion we were born into.

Humanity was born, and we were left on our own to find out why.

And now. Now, all these stories, these social codes upheld in every culture, these ways of living based on the necessity for survival, but also based on the pursuit for immortality – to transcend the primal realm of survival, to find a way out, into the bliss of eternity. That we will cheat death, not as an individual, not as a species, but as a representative of Earth.

A hero is born. The Gods await.

My cigarette ends in one last spindle of smoke rising to the heavens and swept away in the strengthening winds and I travel back down from the stars and see my cat still staring down the long road, caught and suspended in the present moment.

“we’re in this together” I say aloud to her as I reach to pet her warm, bony back.

she sinks into my touch and begins to purr as if to say, “Well then don’t fuck it up.”

 

 

 

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The Mythology in You: Where Our Stories Come From

Philosophy and Opinion

It seems that nearly every six months I go through some kind of transition in life, be it moving to a new place, the end of one job, the start of another… My life is always in constant flux. That’s my story. A kind of Hero’s Journey where the Hero finds himself detached from the normal social judgments and instead is leaping and bounding within the morals of his own art. For me, that art is seeking the source of all things. And there are two fundamental locations for this source: Our personal dreams, and our Society’s Mythologies. Have a read:

“Do you ever notice how our stories of both ancient and modern take on a fantastical quality? The fantastical quality, or, “themes” of our stories, originate from a source many many eons ago. And these fantastical themes or qualities of stories told by storytellers are actually inspired by our dreams. And our dreams, some might argue, are inspired by the internal psyche or the internal struggle.

Mythologies or stories are really just a projection of what is going on internally; inside of the human. They represent the psychological realm, the non-physical home of life. And so the physical world then just becomes a playing field, a playground for us to act out this internal struggle.

And so mythologies are told to us in this physical world, they are universal to each individual struggle, which are the dreams. So stories or mythologies then become some kind of guidebook to whats happening internally and it is our very dreams, our internal world, that somehow feeds the mythologies of our external world. There’s this reciprocity going on between our dreams feeding our mythologies and our mythologies guiding our dreams. Which means that your dreams are the accumulation of mythologies of the past. And that means that humanity, and life as we know it, is just a huge drama playing itself out since the beginning of time. And although your mortal body will die as the physical being we know it, your story, your inner-psyche, will live on.

Your inner psyche will live on as the food for the mythologies that will guide the next era. Just as your dreams and mythologies of today were fed by the eras that came before us. So although you in this physical state are an individual, your inner psyche is just a story that has been re-telling itself, continuously.

That is why cultures all around the world use storytelling as a means for healing, because it brings significance to an inwards suffering. You hear a story and you say, ‘huh, that sounds like what i’m going through,’ and your psyche identifies with the story and then it brings meaning to your suffering, and then the story that your psyche has identified with becomes a kind of map for you to overcome your suffering. And ultimately the goal is not to overcome your suffering, but to embrace it and see it for what it is. And by doing that, you are participating in the unfolding of the universe!

That’s my Story!”

 

Wednesday’s Training PT II: Always have a Plan B

,philosophy, Running in Circles

**PT II (a continuation of Wednesdays Training PT I: The Socratic Method)**

My phone rings. I look over. Its my father calling.  I was expecting this call. I knew what was coming. A compassionate concern for my well being. Some fatherly advice. Advice I didn’t want to hear, but I needed to. That kind of advice in the back of your mind you keep quiet and ignore until someone says it out loud. I pick up the phone.

“So how’re you doing?”

“well I’m good. Just uh, hanging in there, you know.”

“yeah. So I’m concerned about your financial situation.” oof. Straight to the point. He’s here to talk problem solving. His speciality. My disability.

“Yeah me too,” I say, “It’s kind of the source of all my stress.”

“I bet. So do you have a plan B, you know, if things don’t work out?” I’m not happy with where this is going. I know what he’s hinting at, but I don’t want to admit it, and I don’t want to hear what he’s about to offer. But it’s got to be said.

“No plan B, I’ve just been hoping I get a job before I run out of money. Sort of racing against the clock at this point…”

“Well I think you should have a plan B, and to me the most practical plan is to come back here, to Seattle.”

There. It’s said. Those words. Come Back home. I’m not sure my father knows what those words symbolize to me. Maybe he does. But the tears start to come. There’s a long awkward silence over the phone. I finally say something, “I can’t afford to do that.”

“Well I’ll help with that of course. We’ll get you back. Look, its just a plan B, but you need to have a plan B. You gotta think about what you’re doing out there, if it’s worth it, if it’s really working out for you, and if not, then you need to figure out what to do. I’m sorry if that’s hard to hear” Another long pause. Now I’m upset. I have a terrible insecurity that my family thinks I’m just dicking around in Hawaii turning into a beatnik.

Some words come stumbling out of my mouth meekly, “Yea no its okay those are thoughts I’ve been having myself. I question what it is I’m doing out here all the time. It’s just…” I try hard to hold back the tears, suppress the emotional release, but some still gets through, “…I guess that means back to the nest.”

“It does, but there’s plenty to do around here. Just remember that it is still your choice. I’m just offering you a realistic alternative.”

I had been denying a plan B because I new what it meant for me. It meant failure. Failure to launch. Failure to be anything on my own. It meant returning to home, where I was just a kid dependent on my parents. I was feeling so ashamed and humiliated having this conversation with my father over the phone. But the worst was yet to come.

“Are you getting enough to eat? Are you staying healthy?” I guess my father is pretty concerned, but I had been alluding to my less-than-ideal situation, and to my pride that might be preventing me from making smart rationale choices in life. But I reassure him.

“Yeah I’m getting by. I’m filling myself up. Been running and paddling and biking lots. I know I gotta eat, and I know I need money for that. I’m pretty much living off of the  money I made selling my bike. But that money is gonna run out real soon.”

He asks if I have friends on the island. I tell him I have a supportive community and am staying active in the community. I tell him I’ve had a number of job interviews, some I’m hopeful about. More reassurance that I have an invested life here in Hawaii. And then  the question comes.

“Do I need to loan you money?” There it is. The question I’ve been too prideful to ask myself. And now I’m too prideful to even say yes, yes I do need to loan money otherwise I’ll be foraging on mac nuts and plucking taro out of the ground. I need the money, there’s no doubt about that. But I don’t want help. I don’t want my father to have to swoop in again and rescue me. Pride I’ll tell ya. It’s gonna me kill me if I don’t kill it off first.

I give in. I tell him I could use the money, but that I really don’t want it. I say this through tears he cannot see. I say it with surrender in my heart, with my head hung low. But I know I am blessed, to even have this as a choice. And I love my father and am blessed he is willing to help me, willing to see me succeed.

We finish off our phone conversation in a casual manner. We talk little details about my whole family’s planned visit in April. My father says he’ll transfer enough money to help me get by until then when I should make a decision about staying in Hawaii or returning with them after the trip. I give out a sigh, a release, after having a hard but very much needed conversation.

As soon as I hang up, I get another call from a stranger inquiring about my guitar I posted an ad for online. He wants to check it out and possibly buy it. We set a time and place for tomorrow, and my pride begins to creep back in, maybe I don’t need my father’s money. Maybe I can still do this on my own…

My thoughts start to wander back to my conversation with Taapai, but now my mind is wandering with thoughts of my father, with thoughts of returning home, with thoughts of selling my guitar just to prove I don’t need help, with thoughts of my family visiting in a month.

I wander through the states of emotions I felt while talking to my father, wondering how I might have desired those feelings of shame and humiliation and how my father helped me feel them and overcome or maybe fulfill them by safely expressing my shame to him, and to myself.

I wandered back to the idea of emotional desires and what it all meant for myself after feeling such intense emotions right after feeling that dull depression – my psyche ebbing and flowing through emotional states like a wave. Is this what life is about? Embracing whatever emotions are being requested by my body or soul or whatever is the source of my being? God? Is this what Buddha means by participating in the joyful sorrow of life? Am I on the path of spiritual guidance? Is this the way to enlightenment? To the Tree of Life?

My mind starts to wander far, and my body soon joins in.

Time for a run.

Tuesday: I Was Raised an Atheist (but grew up Christian).

Opinion, Running in Circles

We went to church a handful of times. I recall the the usual holiday traditions involving scattered visits to that indoor space where organs blare holy tunes and voices echo in chambered ceilings. I remember talks of Jesus, palms and candles, crackers and grape juice, a book of hymns, and always that man standing in front speaking about god knows what.

But I had no relation with God. Or Jesus. I never read the Bible. My mother never shoved verses down my throat.Sometimes there was chocolate involved usually around the same time as my birthday in April. Church didn’t make sense to me, but then again at the age of 5 there’s a whole world out there that doesn’t make sense yet. It’s all new, and you’re sort of just going along with it.
I was okay with it. I was a polite kid, I knew my manners. I knew how to behave well and  behaving well pleased my Mom, and there was nothing better in the world than pleasing Mom. I guess she was my God. But why did she take us to church 2 or 3 times a year if we weren’t Christian? It was like we were vicarious spectators of christians. Traditions die hard. All of us want a sense of our past, something to anchor us during hard, tumultuous times. Maybe it reminded her of her childhood. Maybe she felt connected to her deceased parents. Maybe she secretly believed in God. Maybe she just liked the peaceful atmosphere. I’d like to think it was because she was deficient in spirit and christian churches were the only spiritual supplements she knew of.

I was raised Atheist, but I’m missing that flab of skin on the tip of my penis. Old traditions die hard. I can remember in the 1st grade at school peeing in one of those elongated sink urinals and my friend was peeing right along side me. I looked over and saw his penis. It looked totally different than mine. I  thought after that penis’s were different on everyone. I had one kind, he had another. I don’t remember when I asked my parents about this, or when I found out about circumcision, but whatever I was told was explained as a hygienic thing; it was a convenience my mom or dad or whoever decided so I didn’t have to worry about infection. It wasn’t until much later I learned about the religious rite behind the practice, and then it wasn’t until maybe a year ago I first heard about psychological trauma instilled by cutting off the foreskin of an infant’s penis. Religious acts often justify violent acts.

Old traditions die hard. The effects of religious doctrine created over a thousand years ago is now inherent in our moral codes and beliefs today, no matter what your affiliation with the church is. These moral codes we live by today aren’t our own free thoughts. It’s programmed, passed down generation after generation. The semitic doctrine has had a hold on western societies for over an era and a half, and in recent history spread like wildfire through colonial missionaries. It’s a human program. And I’ve been trying to free myself from this program, and I’m discovering just how incredibly deep the program runs, and how bloody hard it is to rip it out. We see it in our politics, our government, the way we sacrifice our personality to the appeasement and conformity of education standards or servitude in employment. Our very patriarchal-structured society is none less than the works of religious teachings. Even our science has a somewhat christian agenda; the idea that we are outsiders; objective observers of nature separate from it just as god is somewhere separate from us in his own all-powerful realm looking down on his experimental creations.

Programs aren’t evil. They’re not bad. Without them, there would be no organization in life, and organization is key to the cooperation between life forms so that we may all life. There is a code between the deer and the wolves and beavers and rivers and the mice and the trees and the microbes. Programs are important and vital. It’s what ecology is; that in which life participates with one another.

The people of a culture, as Joseph campbell puts it, “gets their messages from their priests and visionaries and the priest and visionaries may manipulate the myths to their own political advantage.” When our program is manipulated by those in power for their own self-interest, well then we have evil.  And with evil comes pathology. And currently we live under two pathologies instituted by our very own religious predecessors – the first being that we are to direct and control nature instead of placing ourselves in accord with nature and – the second being the political interpretation of myths to the advantage of one group within a society, or one society within a group of nations.

Here I am, 25 years old, feeling that myself and nearly every person around is me living a lonely and unfulfilling life because we might just be living a pathological lie, that is, we are being guided by a deeply engrained program in our behavioral thought patterns of our psyche that says: “worry about yourself and the self-interest of your group and seek to control and manipulate your life by controlling and manipulating all aspects of life around you.”

I’ve got my own issues. We all have our own issues. But it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve even discovered what my issues are, that I’m learning to accept them and invite them to the table of conversation. That I’m learning my issues are in essence what has been called sin, but that sin is not synonymous with evil. That sin is what makes me unique and special and gifted. That my sin is my gateway into the realm that exists outside of the confinements of a society. That I must leave the tiny itty bitty realm of society through the exploration of my sins venturing into the greater realm of the wild and nature, find my connection to it, and return to society fully grown into my self and ready to serve that society in my own way in my own time and in accordance with nature. For so many years I have been trying be a well-behaved human being. I’ve perfected the art of pleasing others so much so that the only way I really know how to receive gratification in life is to please others. And so I get people to like me not because I am being my genuine self, but because I learn what others like and give them that. I was totally out of touch with my own self to serve the pleasure of others, whether they asked for it or not. Good Christian doctrine.

Religion is supposed to be how nature speaks to society; through the shamans or priests or holy ones. Those priests are the members of humanity who sit on the outside edge of society; One foot in the human world, the other foot in the wild natural word. Religion popped up as soon as humans became conscious, as soon as we stepped out of the wild and into our own conscious minds. We have always needed religion to keep us connected as participants to the nature in which we still live inside of and always will. It’s where our morals and values and ethics are derived from.

Nothing has changed since then. The only thing that has changed is that religions popped up that now serve only themselves, and have manipulated whole groups of people to serve them. It’s a pathology. It’s a misinterpretation. It’s a massive psychological brainwashing. It’s slavery. It’s the grandest form of slavery that has ever existed. And many many people saw this, and still see it and then want nothing to do with religion and so they become atheists, and sever themselves from spirituality. But the unintended consequence of this is now we are a nation of people who are still servants to the religious doctrine, but no longer serves the spirit of our planet and our universe.

HOW FUCKED UP IS THAT?