…still powered by fantasies.

The craziest fantasy of all is the one formed by your magic mirror. In your current and past places of residence, the bathrooms both housed mirrors that portrayed you differently than elsewhere. Any other mirror, be it at your Dad’s, or at work, revealed your face at its most honest: pasty, pockmarked, furrowed, asymmetrical. Any pictures taken of you reveal much the same. But, the face you see each morning before work and each night before bed, is a face created by fantasies formed from the magic mirror.

The next fantasy of note is the one where you start to think you could become some kind of ubergenius, after having a day of successfully solving workplace problems. For brief moments you might have made your mind more supple and nimble than the minds of those around you. From this, you conjecture that you could continue your amazing problem-solving skills with the help of another pot of coffee, and read math books for laymen until you are proving, or disproving the Riemann Hypothesis.

Then there is the fantasy that is much related to the first one. This is the fantasy that lies to you and says you still have millions of years left to live on this earth. So, there’s still time to fool around with mindless internet surfing, celebrity trash mags at the supermarket, and bad movies downloaded from Netflix. Throw back some more beer at this happy hour with these nowhere friends, and snooze through a Saturday under the guise of meditation. It’s okay, because tomorrow you can actually begin to do the work you need to do to leave your mark.

…handed gift #12,737.

Your mother, God rest her soul, received only a little more than twenty-thousand gifts. Your little brother, God rest his soul, received less than 6K of them. About half of your gifts are ones that you’ve tossed away as if you expected to receive a million more of them. Even now, as you come to understand how precious each gift is, you still lapse into that throwaway mode.

What do you do with a gift like this, anyway? Do you show your appreciation for it by finding every way possible to suck the life from the gift? Or, do you try to pass some of the gift on to others, each who has his or her own gift, too, but may be getting a rather insignificant gift at the same time you’re receiving such a grand one.

Do you demand that God enable you to travel back in Time, to reclaim your gifts all over again, to double-dip into the gift bag, so to speak?

If it’s a Monday sort of gift, then you might try to send the gift back, telling God to please try again with something better. You might even take you petty spirit out into the world with you, and attempt to poison anyone’s gift that appears to be better than yours.

Perhaps one day you will cry out for more gifts, having wasted most of the ones you should have more wisely used. You might use any power and influence you have to buy a few additional gifts, at the expense of someone who lost theirs.

…into a world full of empty canvases.

The place where you live is devoid of any character, good or bad, bohemian or bourgeois. You’ve left behind all of the people who you tried to befriend for three years, moving through their lives armed with stories to share and a keen interest for their well-being. Now, you move among people who make it clear that such immature behavior isn’t necessary.

Your own sense of life calling, life purpose, personal Truth has become a completely empty vessel–you see no need to fill it with your own preconceived notions about who you should be. You’ll go about your life with pursuits that please you, and when God is ready to fill that vessel, you’ll be happy to let him fill it as he sees fit.

…wondering who flipped the switch.

Was it the weather, or the days getting lighter? Was it an ever-increasing understanding that you will never have to fret about who the love of your life is, or obsess over whether or not some woman likes you? Was it your decision to be done with all the things in life that were adding little or no value to your well-being? Was it a thorough acceptance of your own mortality?

You aren’t sure, but you are reveling in this flipped switch. A chunk of you once left for dead has come alive again, and is excited about discovering new books, music and movies. This chunk needs no watercooler hipster gang to impress.

…and you are a radio.

You are receiving waves from remote points throughout the entire Universe of all possible realities. But your receiver is out of whack. You’ve drowned what once was a fine-tuned piece of instrumentation in the gluttony of base living. Your antenna gets these blips and bleeps from other worlds that give you de ja vu, and new faces look like ones you’ve known before across many lifetimes. But, these fragments of an important message get drowned in the tsunami of pathetic cares and fixations.

The good news is that as you age, much of the vanity and false shine of youth have started to wear off and be replaced with a keener awareness and focus of the waves that always bombarded you during wake and sleep.

The good news is that you don’t need to wait until you are ninety-years old with all your friends and loved ones gone to begin the repair of your radio. You don’t need to wait until all your neighbors are asleep and your senses are deprived.

The radio works again like it should when you are ready for it to.

…ready to begin again your wandering years.

You wake up to that place in which there really is no difference between being awake or asleep. It is that place where your identity, your state of being on this earth, and the work you do meld into one. Maybe this time, you are looking for something different as you embark upon your travels, or maybe, you are looking for the same thing with eyes worn by care and experience accrued while you slept.

There could be some more time spent dwelling upon all the blunders and failures made from trying to find yourself out here in the topsy-turvy world they call the waking world. It should be more appropriately called the sleepwalking world for the kinds of false hope it offers. Just like in the dead of sleep when the soul goes rampaging after any shiny thing, so out here does the soul go after every promise of immortality that comes its way.

There is some kind of irony in the fact that as you grow more at peace with who you are, and what your purpose is on this earth, the more you will let your mind wander across the vast landscape of human memory encased in books and online. The more you cease your yearning to change who you are, the more you will seek to find novel things that inevitably will transform you.

Such irony or paradox is only witnessed by those who dwell on the mere appearance of what the wanderer is up to. The key to what the difference is lies in the intent of the traveler.

Traveler A was a young man unhappy with his place in life. He had visions of himself being powerful, rich and well-respected by all who interacted with him. This soul was frustrated that he was not getting laid in college, or getting noticed by powerful men from record companies and publishing houses. His journeys were always taken with an eye to changing himself so that he could become more powerful, nay, even godlike.

After a few years of such forays into early morning coffee pot madness–imbibing various chemicals and ideas from books, meditating and attempting to astrally project himself–he achieved some small success and gained the ability to lucid dream any time he wished, and talk to beings he believed to be from the spirit world.

You watched this young traveler’s eyes get pulled away from the mystical and spiritual after he gained what he thought were his just deserts for all his hard, secret work. You saw him evermore drawn to promises of great success within the shaky, disintegrating machine of American society, and watched unhappily as he began to create myths around the face he idealized in the mirror each morning and night. Such a face was not his face, but the product of the imagination’s softening, and a blind eye to any photographs that told him otherwise. He was convinced each year that this would be his year that he could have it all: months of steady play at clubs downtown, the love of his life, and great spiritual mysteries and truths revealed.

You threw off all the hard work of the past year each time you sought to reinvent yourself, until you had a thousand gyms stashed in a million pieces of garbage across your neural networks and hard drive.

You fancied yourself so many things, each time half-believing that this was the thing that God had called you to do, when all that God has really called you to do is love thy neighbor.

Your travels now consist of a different sort of yearning. No longer do you hold any secret pretense toward becoming godlike or even a god of this world. The yearning isn’t filled with jealousy toward those who have had more success than you. It’s a yearning to live. To live life on your own terms, appreciating the books, movies and music you want to appreciate. To eat the foods you want to eat, and visit the places that you like.

This comes with an utter sense of being reborn: freed from the shackles of needing to impress Daddy with how much you learned on his dime, or impress your friends with how big your brain is, or impress some girl with what a great man she is getting if she comes home with you tonight. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone from your past, or bear the burden of paying back some crippling karmic debts. In fact, all of the weights you tied about yourself each time you embarked on journeys past were weights of your own invention. While in many cases, there were people in your life more than happy to help you keep those weights tied around your person, you could have left off from them any time you wished.

Your journey begins with books from the library: Buddhism, Time Travel and stories of life in New York City. Your journey begins with jazz, classical and funk played on internet radio. Your journey begins with only the drug of caffeine–which was truly the only drug you ever cared for. Your journey will take you through worlds of art, history, crime, madness, death, birth and all of the people whose stories deserve to be read and heard.

Stories of great politicians and entertainment heroes are to be given equal weight of importance alongside the mostly forgotten men and women who raised families in unremarkable homes or died in streets never known to be sexy.

Most importantly, each time you start to travel back in time with a heavy head of regret or anger at some ancient slight, you will make that quick “switch” of the mind to swap such bitterness with love. You will walk through the world with an open heart full of love pouring out–a heart that cannot be contaminated in much the same way that drinking water from the tap cannot be contaminated as its pressure is too great, its flow too strong.

You will journey with a sense of respect and childlike wonder, but also with a wisdom of knowing when to get out–when a thing is too good to be true and someone wants to befriend you only to take advantage of you. You will begin your journey with the goal to not leave a single footprint that can be traced back to you–for the name they call you and the body you inhabit on this earth matter little in the face of the work you’re about to do.

 

…well prepared to accept the Mark…

You are a member of:
1. A cashless society. No one may buy or sell goods unless they have the Mark. Cash is almost completely unused in the U.S., and many countries outside the U.S. are finding it more expedient to leapfrog over plastic, going straight to scans of mobile devices for purchases. Within the U.S. scanning of mobile devices is already becoming accepted for many kinds of purchases.

2. A society where members willfully and publicly share where they are and what they are doing at all times, and accept as a matter of course that their movements and activities are being tracked through public cameras, web browser cookies, cell phone data–all under the guise of being made to feel safer and receiving more targeted advertising.

3. A society enamored of wearing branding on its clothing and tattoos on its bodies. Tattoos are no longer just for rebellious people; it is quite mainstream and acceptable for people of all walks of life to receive permanent branding on their skin of something they worship at the moment. People feel completely at ease distilling their passions into t-shirt or bumper sticker slogans, or ironically wearing apparel with slogans they claim not to be affiliated with, thereby developing a very fuzzy relationship with what they do stand for. At any rate, a sound byte, 150 character description, elevator pitch or slogan are sufficient to sum up the individual’s worldview, and when and where it has been turned into a brand that person identifies with, that person is completely willing to be branded as such.

4. A society quick to rely on drugs to cure ills. Catch-all SSRI pills for many neuroses of the day. Flu shots for everyone. Antibiotics for any perceived physical malady. Delivery systems that are becoming more and more like chips/tattoos, where recipients forgo shots and pills for chips with tiny needles. An economic situation that sees major disruption of delivery of non-essential pharmaceuticals will be disastrous for the current society, as millions are now chemically and psychologically dependent upon drugs to function. These members will unhesitatingly demand the installation of drug-delivery chips on their persons when this disruption occurs.

5. A society whose members unquestioningly let themselves be dehumanized during “security scans” in airports. Generally speaking, members of this society are all-too willing to give a militarized police force the benefit of the doubt when confronted with this force, and forget about their liberties and rights. Members gladly give in to blood tests, thumbprint and retina scans, and many say they will be the first in line to receive tracking chips when they become available for humans. The illusion, of course, is that basic self-will and freedom, as an individual understands them, will continue to exist for the individual after he/she submits to receiving a permanent tracking chip. Since most individuals perceive liberty or freedom to simply be a society where they can access entertainment and media as they please, and participate in some limited forms of travel (and since they will probably not miss the breadth and depth of knowledge currently available online when it is taken from them), it will be several years before they realize how much personal liberty they have given up for the sake of security. (And, since most will be Atheists, Agnostics, or leaning in that direction, they will not perceive the true loss of their souls at the time the chip is installed.)

6. A society that seeks, for politically correct reasons or otherwise, to remove God from being mentioned in all public discourse. It is rarely, if ever, acceptable to mention the help of a higher power in polite company. God and Jesus are rarely mentioned during “family presentations” of Christmas television programming. The guise is that Jews will be offended, and Atheists claim to be a distinct minority, but by and large, the public if nailed to the wall about their beliefs, will claim at most a weak belief in some larger Universal force.

7. A society easily convinced that only a single leader can save them. People of all political and religious leanings quickly gravitate toward a single, polarizing and charismatic entity to “solve all the problems that the last one created.” Clinton will get us out of the economic mess caused by Bush I. Bush II will save us from the moral laxness of Clinton. Obama will save us from the economic mess and general global hatred of the US caused by Bush II. Which Republican savior will come to our aid to restore our country to its once-great status?

8. A globalized economy whose state economy members are constantly on the brink of collapse due to participation in the global economy. When a weak state member’s economy does collapse, it threatens the stability of the whole. The globalized economy will shut down if any major disruptions happen to power grids and networks of communication. A society that is over 90% urban and receives all of its food via logistical deliveries that rely on these networks. A single, globally-controlling entity will be able to permit or revoke access to delivery of food and medicine.

9. A society whose technologies have far outpaced the abilities of even the most voracious and intelligent readers to keep up with them. Disparate technologies already exist in the market (or are in the R&D phase) that would allow, when combined, for a single “chip” in the form of an electronically-branded tattoo to be placed on the forehead or hand that would enable a state entity to:
– constantly track the location of the member
– approve or revoke the member’s status as a participant in the economy (close access to his/her bank account/credit at the flip of a switch)
– approve or revoke delivery of antibiotic, vaccination or other medicinal delivery
– deliver information to the member that overrides any and all instances of free will and/or access to the Godhead

10. A society that has severed its ties completely with all things spiritual, and revoked its imagination for the cultural and material gods it worships. This happened in the span of one generation, ie, the baby boomers, who believed they could retain their spirituality apart from the religious institutions of their parents. Their reliance upon drugs, art, music and film to obtain access to the Godhead inevitably stifled the very spirituality they sought, as they shunned most of these things once they put them away to make money and raise families. Their actions freed up future generations to experiment more freely with sexuality, drugs and media, but future generations, thanks to parents unable to pass on the connection of these things to spirituality, only see them as sources of sensual gratification.

Of course, all of the above are descriptors of general trends within your society, and it should be stressed that members of this society are participating “godlessly” to varying degrees. However, it should be stressed that even the most devout churchgoers freely and willingly are submitting themselves to many of the above examples that are severing their spirituality and ultimately dehumanizing them.

It might be instructive to see various actions of powerful government entities as experiments in how the populace behaves in response to the government’s actions. For example, several military endeavors have been taken since WWII that appear to have only indirect value in maintaining the security of the US state. But, what is instructive to the government entity is the population’s willingness to tolerate such endeavors. The same can be said for other corrupt activities that happen, like Wall Street bailouts. Movements to protest these activities tend to come later and later from the time that they took place, and protesters are less and less engaged, disciplined and informed about what it is they are protesting.

Soon, any and all corruption within the federal government will be met with utter apathy by the populace, and the few who react strongly to it will be cast as conspiracy nuts.

The government, of course, experiments wholesale in several areas: how does the population react to raising or lowering gas prices? How does the population cope with loss of good jobs and the necessity of taking inferior ones to survive? How does it react to carefully placed propaganda in entertainment media? What trends does it fixate its attention on, and how often does it notice unethical political activities? How much double-speak can we get away with, and how long do we have to perpetuate a false meme before it is accepted as Truth? How does it react to mandatory vaccinations?

There are a myriad of peculiarities about this present society as well:
– it embraces (and worships) science as a savior, heaping praise upon writers like Richard Dawkins, and proudly speaks of “geeking out” in cocktail conversation, but when tested, has some of the lowest math skills and science comprehension in several generations.
– it claims to place high value on individuality and original thought, but rarely do any of its members venture outside of their “tribes” of political/religious worldviews to question and/or augment their understanding of the universe. The present generation seems to embody this strange contradiction wholesale, priding itself in dressing individualistically, each member picking his/her own music lists, favorite movies, etc. outside of the “mainstream,” yet because it is highly and immediately networked, much of these so-called “individual” choices become surprisingly homogenized. Being so completely networked, the pressure of peer acceptance and remaining “hip” and “legit” becomes all-the-more important.
– all of its members have virtually free access to all of the world’s knowledge–even its poorest members can visit public libraries to access the Internet. Yet, so much of the commentary, by anonymous commentators at news sites and public pundits, appears to be shockingly ignorant of history, which is readily appropriated to fit agendas of various groups who all seem to know what the US founding fathers wanted. Even a basic understanding of what people thought and talked about three generations ago seems clearly lacking when people make statements like “these are some of the worst times in our history.” A large part of this is due to what ends up in front of someone’s nose during an average online session. Visiting a Google or Yahoo news portal will deliver only the briefest of information that is available. Even more time-intensive Google searches on subjects yield the first dozens of pages of results now being information that is similar to what can be found in Wikipedia. The other reason for this phenomenon is, of course, the fact that our human faculties of memory have not improved in the time period that all of this information has become rapidly available. If anything, our memories have worsened, as some studies suggest, because we do believe that all of the knowledge will be there when/if we ever need it.
– it seems utterly mystified as to why so many of its children “act up” and have a rising number of behavioral disorders, but continues to feed them “food” that is high in sugar, salt, fat, etc. and low in nutrition. It babysits them with a television and remote, stunting any and all developments of attention spans. It decries any and all discipline as “child abuse.” It is so self-absorbed, that the actual act of parenting is indeed left to the television, babysitters, schools, older kids, etc., and then it wonders why its children are so alienated from them.

Many, if not all of these characteristics, are not completely the byproducts of blind technological advances. Nor are individual members of the population completely culpable. We are as much shaped by our environments and peers as our grandparents were. The difference is that the environments have changed radically, and our government clearly wants it that way. A herd of people mindlessly spouting the same talking point at a tea party or occupy rally is a good thing–it displays the characteristics of a populace that is just as likely to be manipulated into receiving a Mark to buy or sell goods if the economy tanks and a single, beloved and charismatic leader appears on the scene to save us all.

The current society isn’t full of people who are all Atheists that worship small idols of technology and media icons, but it does exist in an environment where it is difficult for any single individual to resist temptation to giving his/her attention over to the myriad of distractions at hand, and as stated above, the society is connected in such a way that a meme, true or false, can be unquestioningly propagated and accepted by millions without any counterarguments giving these large populations pause for thought. In short, reflection of our thoughts, words and deeds is all but dead within the environment of a society that exists largely as an instantaneous, information-sharing bubble.

And you are in the thick of it. For over a decade you’ve nonchalantly swiped plastic across the scanner to gain access to food, medicine and entertainment. Your steady, full-time employment is entirely related to technologies that were created in the past fifteen years. You have to spend large amounts of time reading about these technologies in order to keep your job. You bought your first smart phone recently, and are pleased to see Starbuck’s scan it when you want some fancy coffee. You can’t go a single day without logging in to check the news and your email, filling your time with random web surfing and television viewing, spending eight hours doing these activities for every hour you read the Bible or pray. You grumble and roll your eyes at airports, but you give in because you want to get to where you’re going like everyone else.

You keep your head buried in the ground when the latest President (you voted for) hands out billions to banks, and signs laws letting corporations become people. You pretend not to notice that you can’t save a dime without it ending up spent on car repairs, healthcare costs your so-called insurance won’t cover, bank fees, food, utilities, etc. You would be living in the streets within a month were a truly nasty economic storm to blow in. When you read the latest article about how your smartphone manufacturer is busy tracking you, how the airports have found new ways to dehumanize travelers, your favorite corporations and banks got more tax breaks while you got more taxes, or how police officers everywhere are busy being mercenary thugs instead of protectors of people like you who pay their salaries–you cross your fingers and bury your head a little more in hopes that it will all blow over.

When you see the kind of so-called entertainment that gets the kids excited and wonder when hard-core pornography will go prime time, when you talk to some of these kids and wonder who the hell is educating them, when you read the comments under articles everywhere online that demonstrate a certain will to kill if they could get away with it–you cross your fingers and bury your head a little more and pray that the next generation is smarter than this one, even though you know they won’t be.

When you read about the U.S. in way over its head in debt to China (but continues to seek out new wars), and how China treats its own population and the peoples of African countries it does business with, and how Iran is ready to nuke Israel, but Israel won’t go without a fight, and the U.S. won’t let a nuclear war happen without it getting the chance to strut its stuff, and governments like Russia and China not holding any truths except greed to be self evident (why Atheists have so much faith in the good of humanity sans God utterly escapes you–but then, you know that they have their own heads pretty buried somewhere, too)–you pray to God to beam the plans to a time machine into your head so you can take yourself and your family to a simpler time and place, like Wisconsin, circa 1953.

But, you are in the thick of it, having begged God to let you be born into these times. You can’t know yet which side you will be on when the last trumpet sounds, which list will have your name, and whether or not in the end you’ll rationalize the acceptance of the Mark for the sake of a little security, a few creature comforts, and the illusion that you can become somebody down here, and that maybe this really isn’t the Mark mentioned in the Bible, or if it is, maybe it won’t be so bad living in a lake of fire forever.