Alive — Fiat Lux

Fiat Lux
Education, for the most part, was painful, dull, a prison — sitting at a desk surrounded by four walls with no windows.  I can think of only a handful of teachers that made education interesting from elementary through high school.  It wasn’t until I entered the gates of Berkeley that the university’s motto “Fiat Lux” kindled a passion inside me for knowledge.  And it wasn’t just a passion for knowledge, but a passion to learn how to write and think…for myself.  It was this challenge that led me to major in Rhetoric — a very difficult and challenging liberal arts program that focused on ancient classical literature and persuasive writing.

Doe LibraryThis period in my life was truly beautiful…”Mens sana in corpore sano”.  In the morning and early afternoon I would attend class.  In the late afternoon I would spend hours on the green field playing baseball.  In the evening I would go on campus to one of the beautiful large libraries to study.  Ah, the libraries on this campus were truly divine — the musty smell of the past…the quiet echoes…the purposeful architecture and decor…a place…a temple…constructed so those within could appreciate and worship knowledge.  This beautiful place was built to pay homage to great minds from the past that cared enough to speak in hopes we will be supple enough to listen.
campus2It was in the depths of library halls or basking in the dreamy sunlight on some grassy campus knoll that my passion for knowledge began to over-shadow my passion for baseball.  Over-time, ironically, it was the baseball field that began to feel like prison — mechanical, repetition, compulsory, a burden.  I was no longer interested in devoting so much time and energy to a game with defined rules.  I didn’t want to become a full-grown man still playing a child’s game.  The world was so much bigger and wider and freer than the walls of a baseball field.  And so I let go a big piece of who I was.  Feeling alive and free was now more about thought, contemplation, observation, and exploration — it was about noticing the light.               

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Alive — Baseball

baseballWhy did you commit so much of your youth, from age seven to twenty, to this game called baseball?  What drove you to work so hard, for so many years, to improve?  And why…after all that dedication, sacrifice, and improvement…when coaches and scouts were talking about your great potential to go professional…did you decide to leave the game behind?  And you know…had you continued with passion and focus…that you had a very good chance to go all the way…barring injury and getting some good luck…or avoiding some bad luck.

In a way, this game molded and shaped the core of your being…your brain…your identity.  For no matter how we try to spin it…we are what we spend most of our time and energy doing.  And, what we do in our youth, while our brain and body are developing, shapes who we are then and well into the future.

dusk2Your passion for the game formed early in your childhood–it was torture watching your brothers play organized baseball.  In everything else…all other games and adventures…you were included.  But organized baseball wasn’t available to kids your age.  You really were obsessed with this sport at that early age.  Remember when your parents said we were moving to California…you thought…that will be a much better place to play baseball since it is sunny all year-long.  But this only explains the interest.  What kept you engaged in this sport for so many years?

diveWell, to answer this question, I must try express myself at the unconscious level..which is really what being successful in sports is all about…not thinking…instinct…letting go…a relaxed state of wildness.  You loved to be outside…the smell and look of freshly cut grass…the sun…the clouds…the wind blowing shadows over the field…the war paint under the eyes…use of muscle…physical skill…overcoming odds and failure…slamming into the dirt head first full speed…blood, sweat, dirt, stained mix of all three…sacrificing body with graceful abandonment…body parallel to ground…every inch stretched to the limit yet relaxed…slow motion…flying through the air…reaching for the white spinning leather.

DuskWords meant nothing…actions and performance told all…lead by example…motivate others by visible deeds…sunsets…dusk…the smell of night approaching…lights…feel more alert…all is more visible…sense of speed and courage increases…healthy pressure and stress releases adrenaline into blood…no fear…immortal…muscle and bone prepared to collide with earth or other muscle or bone without reservation…intimidate opponent with speed and unbridled desire…quick bat…sweet spot…crack…run like the wind…quiet…invisible…here then there…gone…white lightening.  Pain, injuries, cuts, blood, bruises…battle scars from being Alive.  Continual improvement…no limit…pushing oneself…by oneself…to new levels.

lightsNo wonder you excelled at this game.  So…why did you give it up?  Because you realized baseball, in its highest form, is for kids.  Because you didn’t have anything in common with those around you.  Because you weren’t after fame or fortune.  Because you wanted another challenge in the sphere of consciousness.  Because you knew there was much more to learn, explore, and experience…outside the defined rules and walls of a kids game.

Alive — Childhood

ChildhoodWhat generated a sense of excitement in your childhood?  Well, there was the belief in Bigfoot.  You used to go on those excursions with your friend in the woods behind the neighborhood searching for the beast.  There was also the belief in Santa Clause and the reindeer…the Tooth Fairy…the Easter bunny…the Great Pumpkin.  Too bad these all turned out to be a bunch of lies.  Why do parents need to make up lies and fairy tales?  Is it because the reality and truth of human momentum is devoid of excitement?  Is adulthood really that bad…forcing us to make-believe with our children?  Perhaps…instead of lies…we could talk about some real significant humans and human achievement and celebrate that…or…there is an abundance of beauty and mystery to celebrate in the inhuman sphere.

Approaching stoermThere were lots of real adventures that got the heart pumping.  Those secret missions at night, once the parents were asleep…sneaking out to egg and toilet paper neighborhood homes.  Remember that time you and xxxxxxx poured gasoline on the neighbor’s firewood pile, set it aflame, and then proceeded to be firemen putting out the blaze?  Remember how fast your heart was pumping when the cops rolled into your driveway?  The approaching storms were invigorating.  You would watch them approaching from the front porch…the lightening…the thunder…the swirling dark clouds…the tornado warnings.  Remember when your brothers used to make you punch some random kid so they could watch a fight?  How mean.  But, it did get your adrenaline flowing,,,right?

Lightning bugsMan, all the fun and enjoyment you had outdoors.  Remember catching fire flies in your hands on a warm summer night?  Remember building snowmen, snow forts, throwing snowballs at moving cars and running as fast as you could when they slammed on the brakes?  All those games…kick the can…tag…war…bikes…big wheels…tackle football in the snow…playing for hours outside until dusk…when mom blew the whistle three times to let us know it was time for dinner.  Remember the public swimming pool…when we would pick a corner in the deep end and as a group jump in with cannon ball form…blowing away all the would be swimmers…the corner would be ours.  We called it…the Bermuda Triangle…lmao.

Norwegian elkhoundThere were more memories of feeling excitement and being alive.  Remember that trip to the Cayman Islands?  You went skinny dipping with your brothers at night during a full moon.  That beautiful water, light but dark…swimming in terror and excitement.  Remember the horror movies, the haunted houses, the damn scary pirate mask that your brothers terrorized you with…the vivid nightmares?  Remember that one night…when you thought about being dead forever…and you almost grasped what that meant?  The fall…the leaves changing…jumping in piles of colorful leaves.  And King, the family dog…a real dog…Norwegian elkhound…such a spirit…always finding ways to escape and roam free for days.

These are the broad memories of your childhood…the important ones…when you felt excitement…when you felt alive.  I find it very interesting and telling…that the majority of this excitement was outside…not indoors.  Indoors was the place to eat and sleep and get warm.  Other than that…the indoors was simply a means to prepare to go outdoors…and live.  There was also a little bit of trouble…mischievousness…freedom to roam…and some disappointment in the adults or culture…the lies…the fairy tales…the cover-up…the misdirected celebrations.  But all in all, it was a good lively childhood…mainly spent outdoors…or so that is…all that I remember.

Alive — Outline

nature-snow-leopardIt is not nearly enough to just be awake.  Your current awareness is analogous to a patient waking up in a hospital bed after a decade-long coma.  No, you are being too hard on and critical of yourself.  You gave the momentum a try – it just isn’t for you.  Regardless, now that you are awake, it is time to begin to think about how you will progress forward to living, and then becoming Alive.  Since the goal is to become Alive, you need to reflect on what that means.  After you have an understanding of what it means to be Alive, then you can begin to chart out a plan to live in order to become Alive.

And you must set realistic expectations.  The moments to be Alive are going to be less than the moments to live.  The moments to be Alive, given the momentum, have to be earned through pain, patience, and the precious expense of energy.  In order to define what it is to be Alive, for you, a reflection into the past is essential.  And the past can be broken up into broad periods – childhood, teens, twenties, thirties, and now.  In each of these periods, you need to think about when you felt truly Alive.  When did you feel the intensity and lust of being?  When did you feel the delicate…the sublime?  When did you experience the dark…the light?  It is the extremes we are looking for here, not the norm, not the grey area that we expense most of our waking moments and energy.  What were the mountain peaks…the deep dark chasms?  Of course, childhood may be somewhat innocent and devoid of dark chasms, but nevertheless, this is where you need to begin.

snow-leopard 1

Awake

SunriseJanuary 7th, 2013

Indeed, your present condition is critical given your financial state of affairs.  But, over the last several miserable years, you have, believe it or not, awoken.

It is because of your misery that you began to write once again.  The last time you wrote anything of content on a regular basis was during your short breath of freedom traveling alone throughout Europe for over a year.  Remember that?  Remember…that was when you decided to become a landscape photographer?  That was when you picked your subject matter — the cascade volcanoes and the northwest coast.  What happened with that idea?  Yes, you did take some significant quality photographs with your large format camera and produced some fine prints, but that only lasted for a few years.  Eventually, you let yourself get swept up completely by the momentum–years rushed on by with the great wave.  You let yourself become numb and fell asleep.  Now it is time to begin the process of waking up.  Writing is a good sign that the sleeper has awoken.

You have also learned an important skill in the last year – surviving with very little.  You never were very good with money, credit, or debt, even when you were making big money.  The temptation to Live, when there was actually time to Live, over-powered any sense of restraint.  Not that you lived high off the hog.  Hell, all you did was enjoy eating out, traveling, paying for a house and car, golf, romance – of course that is all extra expense in addition to all the other shit that costs money to live “the dream”.  You were just doing what most people do that are riding with the momentum, except, you may have been a little more aware of how valuable the time to actually Live really was.  And, now that you have fallen from the crest of that momentum, you realize how insanely expensive it is to ride that wave and actually Live, both in terms of time and money.

Believe it or not, your current miserable job is also good for you.  You can actually see and feel the very base and nature of the wave and from where it draws its power.  You get to experience it firsthand — you and the other slaves that reluctantly perpetuate the momentum, with no benefits, and not enough money to live.  You can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel how much the human being is truly worth to the momentum.  In your previous high paying desk jobs, the pain and realization of your slavery, wasted time and energy, was masked by the thin veneer of sedation, contentment, and acceptance.  But now, when you are at work, there is no confusion…this is work…not a passion…not a career…not achievement…not fulfilling…not important…not important other than the fact one needs to engage with the momentum in some shape or form to be able to live.  The key difference is a clear, conscious break and divorce from any delusion that the momentum has anything to do with your passions, interests, or fulfillment.  The problem of course is…how do you get from living to Living and Becoming?

Battle Plan and Love

Lone Wolf

January 7th, 2013

The significant decisions that you made through your own free will were made in the pursuit of more knowledge, love, and beauty.  Or, to put it another way, the momentum and your place within that momentum didn’t provide the right environment to adequately quench your thirst for knowledge, love, and beauty.  If you had chosen to stay the course and ride that wave of momentum you were born onto and groomed for, by those closest to you, then you would certainly be in a better place socially and financially, but inside you would be as you are now on the outside – bankrupt.

The major decisions you made in the past that put you at odds with the human momentum were driven by an internal rejection of, or revolt against, that general momentum.  The gut instinct and will to make those decisions independent of the momentum, was courageous.  But, as with most revolts or revolutions, you lacked a new solution, the resources, the vision, the preparation, and the know how to carve and forge your new path – the resolve, the will to stand and walk alone.  As such, the decisions you made were the right decisions, for you, but the outcome resulted in setbacks, delays, loss of precious time, or quite honestly just a fall back onto the momentum.

These decisions you made on your own defined you relative to the momentum, but they didn’t define who you wanted to become.  In order to become you have to know clearly what it is that you want to become.  And if what you want to become is significantly at odds or indifferent with momentum, then you must have a battle plan and ample resources to carry out that plan.  And if you are alone, with no support or resources from those closest to you that are themselves staunch allies of the momentum, then you must realize that becoming may be a painfully slow, lonely, and a difficult process.  But what good ever comes easily without some form of patience and pain?

Just as important as developing a battle plan and vision, you have to be careful who you surround yourself with.  You have been lucky in love (or have you?) in that you have loved several times and the women were beautiful, but they were all allies of the momentum.  The same can be said of your friends (acquaintances) and family.  Only one family member stood in opposition to the momentum, and he is your greatest ally.  If you can’t surround yourself with allies that are seeking their own paths and that are also at odds with or indifferent to the momentum, then it is best to ensure that you are alone.  Eventually, through your becoming, you will find other like-minded people who you can joyfully let into your life, and vice versa.

Transition

margc3b2_wiessman_8

Photograph by Margo Wiessman

January 5th, 2013

Should you regret your past?  Should you regret your present?  Should you beat yourself raw… contemplating where you would be now had you made different decisions in the past?  Well, the answer is, once again, yes and no.  You have spent several years now reflecting and tearing yourself down along with those human eyes around you.  But your reasons for tearing yourself down are your own — very different from those other disapproving and pitying eyes.

And you have spent significant time contemplating and musing about the human direction – expressing the insanity and shallowness of that direction.  You have mused about utopia and how a different momentum could free mankind from the shackles it has wrapped around itself.

But there comes a point where such tearing down, reflection, and musing about what could’ve been or what could be, for yourself and humanity at large, becomes merely an escape, an excuse, a justification to continue on in the same unfruitful and unfulfilling direction.  The general human momentum is not yours to control and it isn’t going to suddenly change to a more logical and intelligent direction.  Besides, there are many human beings, apparently most of them, whom are perfectly content with the human momentum.  And you know that you have enjoyed pieces of that momentum as well, which is exactly why that momentum is so destructive.

Now is the time to figure out what you need to take from and give to that momentum without being completely consumed by its nature.   And now is the time to look at what was good about your past major decisions and what is good about your present – begin to build yourself back up to prepare yourself for the fight forward.