She is eleven and a half now–that’s 80 in dog years

She is eleven and a half now–that’s 80 in dog years.
We walked a brisk five miles today,
Taking a route that covered most of an area we used to walk every single day.
Does she remember that this is the place where she found me,
And this is the trail where I carried her home,
Because she kept wanting to leap out of my arms and dash about?
Upon arriving back at my apartment complex that evening,
I ran into someone lovely and sweet and single,
Who was but a year younger than me.
It would turn out that her mother founded the hospice house where my mom would die a year later.
She had a little Boston terrier, and my pup was about his size at the time, though my pup would grow to be three times his size.
I thought that my prayers had finally been answered,
And my life partner had been discovered.
Then, of course, the crazy, psycho ex who’d moved out,
But also lived in the apartment complex
Would shave her head and keep coming back and leaving me and sleeping around and coming back and…
And, one of those evenings that the crazy ex was back sort of in my life,
There was the lovely sweet lady with the Boston terrier.
She saw me and the psycho ex with our shaved heads and kept walking briskly after a curt hello.
Some time later after the ex was gone for good,
I finally got the sweet Boston terrier lady to go on a hike with me.
That’s when she told me about the hospice, and by then is when my mom had just died.
That’s also when she told me that she was presently moving to Chicago.
She connected with me on Facebook,
And I watched her marry her crazy ex, who she’d mentioned a few times in passing.
He was a dot com millionaire who’d goofed off after the dot com bubble burst,
Having gotten enough cash out of the system in time before it collapsed to goof off for a few years.
She’d left him there in Chicago,
And came to Austin to be a high-powered advertising somebody at an Austin firm almost everyone knew.
But then, I suppose she decided that she couldn’t live without the fast Chicago life,
And the really, truly high-powered advertising firms,
And I watched her get engaged, married, and have a child who was like five years old by the time I met my wife.
So much for dreaming year after year walking up and down the Greenbelt,
Falling in love with people who were busy and high-powered and had connections with millionaires.
So much for thinking each morning when I set out with my little girl dog
That this day would be the day.
Of course there was the day of the bicycle accident,
The days of the psycho ex coming and going,
The days of working on a U.S. Senate campaign nobody has ever heard of,
The days of believing in community and the audacity of hope,
The days of waiting patiently, withering
Watching too much Burn Notice on Hulu and fantasizing about being a spy,
Hanging out with a nurse who constantly complained that all men ever wanted to do was sleep with her,
Only to have her complain months later that all she’d really wanted to do with me is sleep with me.
Almost becoming a Catholic,
Almost becoming a Baptist,
Becoming a Presbyterian and meeting my wife all at the same time.
Buying a condo that was a money pit,
And suddenly I was the worst sort of gentrifier no longer living and working the same community,
Cashing out and working for a software company,
Leaving for Waco and finding out just how much I can’t live among staunchly conservative people,
Coming back to Austin and struggling to finally see that God isn’t calling me to anything at all,
And I’m not cut out for much of anything,
And on this morning it wasn’t about looking for God or old ghosts, really.
It was simply about walking up and down a couple of trails,
Where nothing much had really changed.
The trail was walled on either side with ragweed from all the rains.
The people were sparse because the water in the creek had grown bracken and stagnant.
The dog was content,
Maybe all of this will stay much the same after all
In spite of me aging and dying
In spite of asshole presidents and governments coming and going.
The trail might see us up and down it yet again before she dies, my now-senior pup
I don’t think she remembers the first night I brough her back
Or the summers we spent on the trail almost every single day
She doesn’t remember the weird girlfriends and non-girlfriends who came and went.
She doesn’t remember my mom, who gave her little dog biscuits from an old sweater pocket for a year when we visited.
She doesn’t remember that her adoptive mom, my wife, visited us a few times in those old apartments before the sale of the condo went through.
She wouldn’t remember the Boston terrier dog, who is probably dead now.
She does remember, though, that there was a lengthy period of time when it was just me and her,
And I would feed her from my fork and plate,
And she would sleep at the foot of my bed.
And then she grew too arthritic to jump up on the bed.
And then our son came, and the old dog didn’t want a little brother after all.
And now she mostly lays around and growls and mopes
And gets feverish for table scraps and whines when we shut her up in the office,
And growls at the baby when he runs by,
And then she has to be shut up again,
And doesn’t ever seem to know the reason why.
So, it was, just for a few hours, a few hours that I had this entire year to walk up and down the old trail–just we two.
It was hardly like old times, and there is hardly a good reason to go back down that way much, anymore.
But it was something–something better than me spending the morning buried in a book or reading random news or watching TV or dozing.
It was a little gift from me to her, my old dog, my 11 and a half year old pup who stayed by my side through more than a fourth of my life,
And still persists, because that is the kind of spirit that sent her home with me so many years ago.

I’ve stopped working out, running, even walking the dog

I’ve stopped working out, running, even walking the dog beyond the amount of walking necessary to get her to go to the bathroom. I am back off the unmotivated wagon again when it comes to physical activity. I would rather be reading, thinking and writing. I’ve also been wanting to drink beer a little more than I should.

My program to regrow my hair and turn it dark again has progressed rather slowly. I’ve noticed very modest results, but my wife hasn’t noticed much of anything. The Shou Wu, taken first in pill form (it wasn’t specified whether it was prepared or not) and then in powder form, prepared, has seen a few more dark hairs appear on my head. I am tired of the powder, though, and am going to try a new pill form that is specified as being prepared, which means its potency is supposed to be properly distilled for maximum effect. The minoxydil has been applied to my head for about a year and a half, and the previous all-natural alternatives like Biotin, Rosemary and some oil whose name I forget right now, have all had very minimal results, but I continue to use them occasionally. I don’t really view it so much as a vanity project as a kind of pseudo-scientific project to satisfy my own curiosity.

I have lived with a mostly bald top and mostly white hair for several years now, and have benefited or not benefited from such a presentation of my hair. People who treat older folks with dignity tend to treat me more respectfully than I think they would if they knew how old I really was, and people who despise everyone over the age of…whatever is too old for them…tend to treat me like I’m irrelevant and washed up. I’ve occasionally sensed that some people think I might be my son’s grandfather, or have given me nasty looks for being a much older man than my wife, when I really am only six years older than she is.

What people think about all of it has always been a case of overly positive or negative reactions to whatever I decide to do with my hair. If I grow it out, I will get some negative reactions from some people, likewise if I shave it down. Family and closer friends all have opinions as well. It’s weird how something as stupidly superficial as dead matter that sits on top of the head and serves no real purpose can elicit so many deeply held opinions of people about who you really are on the inside. Being a white, straight, middle-class, American male, I think ageism in its various forms is probably the only kind of discrimination I will ever experience, unless I get too fat off of all this beer. Therefore, I notice it more than many others who probably are treated in differently in a much more pronounced way–good and mostly bad–for their skin color, sex, sexual orientation, gender, etc.

I’ve managed to do almost nothing during these two weeks of break between spring and summer semesters, other than obligatory chores, errands and the paperwork required to continue to go to school and live here at the greatly reduced rate. My book reading has been minimal–snippets of poetry and essays about messianism, as well as endless random internet scouring of all kinds of subcultures, various people and social groups not considered normal, and the occasional attempt to get started on my Greek.

My writing has been reduced to the biographical and the navel gazing. I am properly convinced that I don’t really have anything novel left to offer the world, except in the form of older writing that I haven’t posted yet. My ability to be creative has become pretty limited as I’ve gotten older–it seems like my brain as it’s aged has taken on a more literal, plodding sort of approach to thought, which is utterly boring to the reader. However, my desire to sit and write down my thoughts seems to be mostly undiminished, and so I am left prattling about minutae of the mundane and unexceptional. My political and spiritual soapboxing days are mostly over as well. I think my two theology classes and my numerous Bible and Christian history classes this past year have helped me get over some of the obstacles I had around Christianity and my continued love of Buddhism and my continued fear of a traditional sort of Christian hell.

All in all, I don’t really feel the need to pose a lot more soul-searching at this time or whining about Donald Trump and the American political landscape. It all is what it is, and my ability to exert any control over it is as close to nil as to be nil.

So, I am left to describe my life and days that pass as they really are. My son continues to develop at a pace that I would assert is normal–I don’t see him becoming one of those ten-year-old Harvard grads or anything, but he won’t be left behind by his peers, either. I am glad to have a mostly happy, normal, curious son rather than a son that merits me attention from the media. All in all, he seems to be mostly happy with our routines, though I would probably be chided by most child development specialists for showing him too much television and giving him too much tablet game time. However, I feel like I have to let these things progress as they will in a way that fits our particular life situation–what appears to be working for us shouldn’t be dismissed just because the experts have decided this year that it doesn’t work.

Last night, a dream about me being an astronaut exploring the moon.

Last night, a dream about me being an astronaut exploring the moon. I was sent to really dig deep into the moon, and uncover any hidden gems that might lie beneath the surface from asteroids carrying precious minerals hitting the moon. I came upon an area that I was convinced held oxygenated soil, with the potential for life to be living underneath. I unearthed a cave where these people who were very withered were living. They had adapted to living with a lot less oxygen–their oxygenated cave was porous. I couldn’t survive breathing their air without keeping on my helmet. But, I determined that they could benefit from more oxygen, and so I devised a way to pump oxygen from my spacesuit into their cave while pumping out our carbon dioxide breath.

These people told me that they had crash landed from a highly advanced civilization, and then they began talking about the “civil war” which I was all too familiar with. This civil war had started in the U.S. but had spilled out into the rest of the world, causing a great space battle between nations. The end result was that many billions had died, but highly advanced technologies had been invented in the process, similar to what happened in WWII but on a much larger scale. When I saw what kinds of technology these people were playing with, I realized that they were time travelers from the future who had crashed into the moon in my own time period, without any way to get back.

I began devising a way for them to tell their story to the people who were still battling around the earth in hopes of averting more carnage than had already taken place. The people who had time traveled and crashed into the moon had learned to live harmoniously together, and I thought their message could bring in a new era of peace before many more people died. Meanwhile, I started to fall in love with one of the women in the group, but she turned into a small, tan dog and insisted on having her belly rubbed. I was more perplexed and rendered curious in a clinical sort of way than off-put or disgusted by this.

I started to wake up convinced that the U.S. was on the verge of civil war at any minute.

My mind. My brain.

My mind. My brain. Focusing on where the essence of me originates, where the source of my existence is emanating from.

I knew who my real self was back when I was still pretty young, but I couldn’t control whatever the rest of this stuff is. I still can’t completely control it. The rest of the stuff is the stuff that has gotten me in trouble, though it is my own damn fault for not homing in on it and eradicating it.

A vision of myself shows me that I am basically meant to survive in the woods with little or nothing at all. This civilization business is rough.

I have this compelling urge to get rid of all of my books and just return to nature as much as I possibly can.

If I can’t ever get back to nature, then I don’t really want to live a complicated life, getting caught up in a myriad of interests and concerns about money. I want to radically simplify and streamline everything.

When I am quiet, contemplative and breathing carefully and mindfully, I don’t feel the least bit different than I did when I was 16. There is no sense of time having overcome me. As long as my eyes don’t look too closely at the white hairs on my arms and I don’t see my reflection, I gaze down upon a self that seems to be pretty much the same self as my 16 year old self. I may weigh thirty or more pounds, but it isn’t noticeable with a black shirt on.

For the most part, throughout the day, I rarely have moments where I am lacking in energy or feeling burdened by oppressive old age. Since I’ve never been an especially attractive person, I don’t suffer from any sense of having once been widely admired for my looks but now rendered invisible by my aged face and head.

I’ve always been mostly invisible and usually scowled upon when passing young people in the street, even back when I was a young person.

My sense of time only arises when I pause and think carefully about how much time really has passed since I was in high school. Even then, it’s easy to dismiss large chunks of my life timeline when considering the highlights.

The question comes back to–what is originating or generating my sense of being an I? Can I use my own willpower and conscious meditation to trace myself back to my source?

Learning to accept that the plan of God and the wealth of what can be known is far above and beyond what my mortal mind can ever hope to achieve. Attempting to arrive at a personal grand unified theory of everything, an ultimate telos, a pristine metanarrative–this is the incorrect approach. Allowing myself to be excessively narrowly focused to the point where I am blind to the magnificence of the All — the complete Being, Universe, etc.–this is also a source of frustration.

Prime questions:
What really matters?
Developing an inordinate love for God that becomes idol worship is an incorrect approach. Whatever god I can imagine isn’t God.

If I am summoning a god, I am not summoning God.

Someone made all of this stuff. Was it the same Yahweh that wiped out hundreds of thousands of Egyptians, Philistines and Canaanites in the Old Testament? Or was that Yahweh seeking a new kind of relationship with humankind, and the warrior judges of the tribes of Israel just weren’t getting it?

In a grand scheme of Conscious Existence, where this universe is but one of an infinite number of alternate universes, and our planet earth is but one of an infinite number of planets bearing sentient life within our own universe, a being who is capable of creating and destroying entire worlds and sentient beings within those worlds is probably not going to ever respond to my demands as if I were petitioning a king. The most powerful king that ever ruled would be a finite being like me, worthy of my petitions and able to empathize with me.

In other words, when I think about theological things, I almost inevitably go straight to thinking that I am somehow just a few tweaks away from being about as powerful and almighty as God, and therefore, God responds to me addressing God as an equal. Jesus might respond accordingly, but he is going to respond because he emptied out his almighty spirit and became the suffering servant. He will respond to my suffering as one who has suffered the most. But, Jesus isn’t going to respond to me petitioning him as if I were a rich man calling up his stock broker to move around some investments so that he can have a few more gold toilets.

The most powerful force in the universe is the creative energy of Love, but any of my attempts to summon it or conceptualize it are going to fall short. If I seek to distill and bottle it and market it in hopes of gaining a leg up on my fellow human beings, then I am going to watch it all leak away and I will be left holding yet another idol in my hand.

Hidden things, secret things, ancient wisdom, words locked in texts at least two hundred years of age

Hidden things, secret things, ancient wisdom, words locked in texts at least two hundred years of age. That’s what you seek, thinking that the world that is presented to you is meant to be unveiled, uncovered, conquered by you, the most intrepid one. You don’t really care what knowledge or wisdom you find, as long as others concur that it was long-forgotten, or not ever well-known, or greatly beneficial to some of humanity.

But then, one day it occurs to you that maybe all of the things you really need to know are happening right in front of your face. Just because you think you know everything there is to know and have seen it all doesn’t mean you do know it all. You have become blinded, jaded and bored by simply being and observing that which presents itself to you throughout the day. Meanwhile, a wealth of information, a stream of knowledge and data passes right before your eyes that you ignore because you have become conditioned to ignore it.

Take for instance the living things in the room with you. Or your face, your breath, your heartbeat. All that transpires outside of human intervention happens slowly and of its own accord, its own rhythm. You were pushed from an early age to go out and hustle, get busy, make something of yourself, build a fortune, leave a legacy.

You are conditioned to feel like you are “less than” if you don’t live up to whatever your vision of being “more than” has evolved into, after it has been mostly unconditionally accepted from others and reworked by you as best as you can cobble together what you remember of the expectations of others, along with your own particular notions of what it means to be “more than.”

Having reached an age or stage in life where you can clearly see that you will always be “less than” your “more than,” you begin to frantically try to find whatever you think can unlock your true potential, or deliver amazing results upon a minimal investment. After all, you are well past the age where simply putting in a lot of practice and hard work to become good at something can happen. And so, you flit from one anticipated panacea to the next.

Ever since my little brother died, I’ve had this constant sense of urgency to do something, make something, become someone so that my parents’ expectations that they had for all of their sons would not be met in vain. Since my oldest brother had died five-six years before my little brother, and my other older brother had mostly stopped communicating with my parents, I began to feel like the weight and burden of carrying on the family name in a great sort of way was all upon me. At times, I threw up my hands in complete surrender to the futility of such a quest.

This may be one of those times. I just want to become a machine. I wake up, recharge with a power bar, coffee, banana and a caffeine pill or two. I go to work. I do work. Money is put into my bank account. My family uses the money. I benefit from the money by obtaining fuel to keep me going to make more money. I resolve myself to this kind of life, day in and day out for the next twenty-five years, and then I retire and use whatever time remains to prepare for death.

What do you like?

What do you like?
Taking away loved ones, other people, pets, etc.
Removing the obvious stuff that almost everyone likes–beach vacations, beer, ice cream…
What do you like?
What do you really like, that you didn’t just start liking because you wanted to impress someone?
What are you absolutely certain that you like?
Do you like being a person?
Is there any other time or place that you would prefer to live?
Maybe somewhere remote, distant and out of the harsh glare of angry politicians and the sun?
A place to fish, study leaves and mushrooms, drink cider and tea?
A place where nobody knows your name, but nobody cares if you are sitting in a corner slurping down your chowder?
A place where eyes are averted out of politeness, not fear or shyness or the understanding that eye contact means it’s time to f or fight.
You won’t find it around here.
Everyone in these parts is running around frantic and mad that the government is coming to take their guns away, that the Mexicans are coming to take their jobs and their descendants’ white skin away, that Jesus isn’t coming back fast enough to rapture them up and leave behind all of these brown people and liberals.
They are threatening and pushing and not loving their neighbors.
They talk about putting bullets in their enemies’ heads instead of praying for them.
They throw the first punch but sue unceasingly if you punch back.
If you don’t like it, you can leave, they say, with haunted eyes that tell you they don’t really like it, either, but they are possessed.
They are possessed with greed and their own brand of entitlement.
My great-great-great-grandpappy didn’t steal this land from the Comanches and die bravely in the Alamo so that the Mexicans and Indians and other brown-skinned people could all come back and take it from me.
I have every right to be here, because it’s my manifest destiny, per the Bible–the Bible tells me so–
That Jesus don’t love your kind nearly as much as he loves mine.
But, what do you really like?
Of course, you love your family and then there’s family of family that you can’t just up and leave behind.
There are too many promises–not that you’ve that great of a track record of keeping many promises, but, you have to start somewhere.
And so, you started keeping promises down here…
Even as you’d rather be almost anywhere but here.
You see, at the end of the day, what you really like ends up dying in the crossfire between all the things you really love and really hate.
There is no place for likable things in a land like this one.

Souls, all in competition.

Souls, all in competition. All vying for the chance to be number one at something. The reason why we think we have arrived at the best system is because we are too afraid to ask what it would look like if we started carefully peeling it back, one preconceived notion at a time. What would happen if I gave that man my coat? What would happen if I asked that lady over there if I could borrow her car for a few hours?

No system born out of a violent, all-encompassing struggle that overturns everything and is implemented top-down will accomplish any lasting, successful social program.

What I am imagining is a revolution that begins unexpectedly, from the least-likely people, and flows in ways that no one can control. It comes naturally after a long weariness of more wars and struggles to re-order and re-imagine the distribution of wealth and power.