Beloved Brother

We came from the same womb and were nurtured under the same set of beliefs and rules.  We were fortunate to live near natural beauty – the woods, then the rolling foothills and nature preserve with panoramic views of civilization below.  We witnessed, firsthand, the American Dream play itself out from start to finish.  But our paths have taken very different directions.

Your nature was strong and rebellious from the start and therefore you were cast out.  You were the older brother I was to avoid – the black sheep.  You, brother, equipped with an imagination and a passion for wisdom and the arts, were considered dangerous and a threat to my young mind.

As an orphan, metaphorically speaking, you learned to define your course and have held steady and consistent – like a river carving its way through rock flowing downhill to the expansive, glistening ocean.  All of them failed to beat the demons out of your nature.

I, on the other hand, leaned more towards the influence of nurture, at the expense of my nature.  Although I evolved as an observer and lover of beauty, it wasn’t until later in life (college and our time together in Europe) that I became interested in wisdom and the arts.

It would have been so easy for me to just stay the course, not to think, not to dream, not to question this or that.  But my nature never died and therefore I experienced a perpetual discomfort, even amidst my “outward” success.   As a result, my course has swayed this way and that – running into many ponds, lakes, and dams on my journey towards the ocean expanse.

But, without you, I fear that my course wouldn’t have swayed as much as it has and I may never have broken free from the idea of the American Dream.  You were and are a source of inspiration.  Later in life, you became my mentor.  I find it so strange that we think so much alike on all the big ideas, even though so much time, space, and path directions have kept us apart.  Your depth of thought travels much deeper and wider, but the fundamentals are the same.  And most important of all, when we are together, we know how to enjoy life and laugh at it all, including ourselves.

You are the only person that I connect with on so many philosophical levels.  The ideas we share may appear harsh, critical, and disturbing to many people, but it is unfortunate that they don’t see the incredibly positive aspects of those fundamental ideas.  You are a great man my brother, the one consistent pillar in my life, aside from that of nature herself — I love you.

The Perils of Success

My grandfather told me when I was a young boy to be humble.  He said, if I ever began to get full of myself to go outside on a clear night when the moon was absent and look up at the stars to gain perspective.

When I was born, my family didn’t have much money.  My dad worked for a trucking company where he started as a management trainee on the dock.  My dad’s father (the man who told me to look at the stars) was a high school science teacher and football coach and didn’t make much money.  But, my grandfather told me he decided to teach as opposed to going into business, because he felt he could make a difference in people’s lives.  My parents seemed to look down on that decision to some extent.  They thought he chose that profession because he experienced the Great Depression and teaching was a more secure path.  After all, why would one chose to make less money if one could make more in business?

At a very young age, prior to third grade, I lived in a nice little house in a nice little neighborhood in Ohio.  Kids played outside and there was a small forest behind the homes.  Our house was decorated modestly and filled with family photos and things that symbolized something about our life.  Everything seemed to make sense.

Time moved on and my dad progressed rapidly up the ranks.  When I hit second grade we moved to California due to my dad’s promotion.  He was promoted to the second in command for a large Fortune 500 company.  Eventually he got the top spot and we moved to a really nice house.  This was the house that was backed up against a beautiful nature preserve that I discussed in my previous post “Enigma”.

Along with my dad’s success came noticeable changes in my parents and what decorated the house.  The family photos and meaningful things were replaced by modern art-work and decorations that matched the paint, carpet, or furniture.  The meaningful things were stored away or hung downstairs in dark hallways or the laundry room or bathrooms.  My parents began to travel often, go to events, and wear nicer clothes.  I could see that they began to act and think like they had arrived.  I used to talk to my grandfather about how strange they are behaving and how I didn’t like the feel of the house.  I told him it felt more like a cold museum than a home.  He agreed.

Eventually I went off to college that wasn’t too far from my parents.  I could visit them on a weekend or during breaks.  While I was in college, my dad was let go by the board of directors.  Apparently, his decision to buy a large corporation took too long to integrate and turnaround the financial performance.

During my visits after this major event occurred, I saw my dad spending hours slumped in a chair watching TV.  Here was a powerful strong man who had lots of money, yet there he sat, utterly deflated, depressed, lifeless, surrounded by meaningless decorative art and things.  He spent decades of his energy, passion, and time in an entity that one day decided he was no longer needed.

I asked myself why doesn’t he go enjoy the fruits of his labor and travel, write, read, or whatever he may find of interest.  He has no economic barriers to pursue something that he may be passionate about.  But there he sat, in that same chair, slumped over watching TV.

And it was at this point that I realized his dad might have never told him to go outside on a clear night when the moon was absent and look up at the stars to gain perspective.  And if he did, perhaps my dad simply ignored his advice.

Celebrity Royalty

I was watching Pierce Morgan tonight on CNN (I am looking for work so don’t have much energy to do any type of real thinking) mainly to see his interview with Rick Santorum.  The topic of Whitney Houston’s potential drug over-dose was one hot topic discussed between Pierce and Santorum.  Pierce made the comment that many U.S. stars, which are the equivalent of “royalty or the aristocracy”, have problems with overuse or misuse of prescription drugs.  I am not so interested in the discussion about drug over-dose as I am about calling Hollywood actors or musical stars “royalty” or the “aristocracy”.

If it is true that U.S. celebrities are the role models, pinnacles, and the royal statues of the American Dream, then I fear I am spot on in my assessment that American culture has declined to abyss-like depths.  I always hold out hope that my point of view is skewed or too cynical or one-sided.  But, when Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston receive such enormous media coverage (almost as much as the death of JFK or Martin Luther King) upon their deaths — not because they were assassinated for their unique message or powerful revolutionary stance, but because they were drug addicts and the public and family seek out a culprit to blame and hang (in these cases a doctor), I feel like the culture has declined and is hanging on the edge of a precipice.  How many Americans die everyday from similar addictions and over-doses but receive no media coverage or high-priced lawyers to enrich the surviving families?  These people are merely entertainers, not kings or queens or people of significance.  They aren’t philosophers or saints or figures to be respected or emulated.  They aren’t scientists or deep thinkers or explorers.  They aren’t courageous noble leaders or exceptional human beings.  They are actors, singers, and athletes.  They are nice to look at, or entertaining to listen to, or enjoyable to watch on TV or the stage.

We have evolved from a youthful, bountiful, beautiful flower with immense potential into a wrinkled up bag of bones addicted to an American Dream gone astray.  And our “royalty or aristocracy” certainly doesn’t provide an example of the pathway up to the purple mountain majestic peaks.  We need to re-evaluate from sea to shinning to sea and make some radical changes to redefine the American Dream and what we define as noble, courageous, and significant examples of extraordinary human beings.  The celebrity is a hollow shell decorated with pearls.  And those that view them as kings and queens are impoverished peasants.

The (De)composition of the Human Soul

If we think of our souls as sensitive sponges which absorb the external environment through our senses then is it not important to think about and observe the current state of our external environment?

If I observe our current external environment one dominant image comes to mind through the senses — humans; human beings, human structures, human roads, human transport vehicles, humans on TV, humans and more humans and human stuff — everywhere.  We absorb the majority of our senses.  Our sponges are simply filling up on ourselves.

Our massive presence, all seven billion of us, are also desolating the environment such that the water and air is less pure and our eyes and ears have less and less natural beauty to take in.  We have less variety to take in through our senses.  And is not variety of experience and variety of sensing essential to developing more colorful and bountiful souls?  And if the majority of our senses are filled with ourselves, decomposing souls, then does the process naturally head towards further decomposition?

I am not trying to make an argument with statistics and figures to prove we are destroying the environment.  I am not trying to prove human beings are causing global warming, ozone depletion, water pollution, species extinction, over-fished seas, top soil erosion, polluted air, or any other potential negative environmental impact through a scientific method.  I am merely using my senses.  I am merely listening to my soul.  I am merely making the argument that the majority of our souls have significantly less potential to fill up our sponges with variety and purity.

I have a hypothesis which would be very difficult to prove, but my hypothesis is that our souls are beginning to decompose and therefore bringing the spirit and culture of the human species down past prior heights.  Just as we saw the decline in the quality of art, thought, music, culture (many souls make a culture) during the dark ages before finally coming back out into the light during the Renaissance, so I believe we are now in a dark age.  Although we think we are making progress through technology and advancements in knowledge of all fields, as a culture, as a group of souls, we are in fact decaying and have slipped into a cultural and spiritual abyss. Our sponges are dry and when we look for the moisture we only find decaying dry human bones.  We should pay attention and learn from what gave birth to the Renaissance.  Those noble souls that gave birth to the Renaissance figured out a secret as to how to get out of the dark ages.  We need to learn from their example and look back before we can go forward.

And let me add this slight addition.  Not only should we look back to the cultures and wisdom of the past, but also look up and out past humanity to regain perspective and get our bearings.

A final thought, inspired by reading one of my brother’s works and from another blogger…I think this quote sums up one of our problems which we need to revisit!

“And God said, Let us make man in our own image, after our own likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth (Genesis, Chapter 1-26)…over every living thing that moveth upon the earth (Genesis, Chapter 1-28).”


Weight of the American Dream

                                                                           College Debt

Monthly payment on college debt

Credit Card Debt

Interest payment on credit card debt

Mortgage Debt

Interest payment on Mortgage Debt

Car Debt

Interest payment on Car Debt

Gasoline purchases (prices rising)

Parking expense (prices rising)

Car insurance (price rises after collision)

Car maintenance (should have bought a Toyota)

Life Insurance

Property Insurance

Health Insurance (rising)

Cell phone monthly payment

Internet, cable TV, and land-line monthly payment

Electric and gas monthly payment (rising)

Grocery bills (prices rising)

Clothes purchases

Things purchases (all made in China)

Beer and wine purchases (increasing amounts)

Entertainment expenses

Vacation expenses

Christmas expenses

Taxes (not enough to cover expense of American Dream)

Engagement ring (must be at least 1 carat)

Engagement ring monthly payment

Wedding expense

Babies expense (and the cycle continues)

Isn’t the American Dream great?  Who makes out in this deal?  Thank goodness we can toss what little money we have left into the 401K so our Wall Street buddies have some cash to play with at the casino.

Maybe in our next life we can soar freely like the Albatross.

Beacon Upon a Hill

Beacon upon a hill, city upon a hill, a lighthouse for those lost at sea, light penetrating the perpetual dark void — these analogies derived from our great western peaks — ancient Greece, ancient Rome, and the Renaissance.  America, from sea to shining sea, devoured by night.  I scan the ”Human” Earth, but I am unable to find a source of light.

Imagine a piece of land within American boundaries that is unspoiled and fertile like an intelligent Spring virgin.  A bountiful fresh river runs down her curves and into the mighty Pacific.  Powerful and robust she thrusts upwards high above the surf.  She is cloaked in fog that eventually gives way to the penetrating sun.  Hawks ride the thermals above looking down on her bounty.  Orcas cruise her shores in search of a Salmon feast.  Massive Grizzlies wade through her river gorging on the Salmon that escaped the Orca patrols.  She provides for noble beasts and has no place for mediocrity.  Here is a place for man to light a spark and start anew.  Here is a place for the re-birth of the “American Dream”, land of the free, home of the brave.

The old, decaying and decadent, worn down by good ideas gone bad, find the strength within to sacrifice and provide for the liberation – resources, money, capital, and no boundaries. Build the city on this noble slice of virgin land and invite the young, the best and brightest in soul, mind, and form, regardless of color, language, or country.  Let them design their own architecture, constitution, laws, philosophy, ideals of true “value”.  Let them live with and amongst the Hawk, the Grizzly, and the Orca on equal footing.

Provide for them in the short-term, as though they were merely a child, and give them time to develop and mature.  Protect this little city, a country within a country, from the darkness that surrounds her border.  Free them of all economic and political burdens. Once the time is right, cut the cord that feeds them, and let their independent genius flourish.  They will become the beacon upon a hill, a symbol for all to see, or they will fail and leave the world for the Orca, Grizzly, or Hawk to define.  Part of me wishes for failure.