Most days, I don’t feel very powerful

Most days, I don’t feel very powerful. I don’t relate to people who hold power and wealth. I spent a small portion of my life trying to succeed like I saw people my age trying to succeed. I liked the idea of climbing a corporate ladder, finding myself managing a team of technology, marketing or salespeople at a well-known company. I liked the idea of having the next big thing–creating my own startup to become another Facebook or Twitter, or even a non-profit big thing like Wikipedia or Craigslist. Mostly, I wanted people to look up to me as being especially important and smart, and touched with some kind of cosmic greatness–but not too touched, because obviously, I wanted to be known for having accomplished much of it on my own by using my own gumption and bootstraps. I liked watching CNBC, and wanted to know more about playing the markets so that I could be like the guy who took $10K of his bar mitzvah money and turned it into $2 mil playing penny stocks every day.

I didn’t really pay much attention to my whiteness or maleness or middle-class upbringing during those years, because I worked in a lot of environments that were mostly managed by women, and I never felt as if my own individual voice was the most powerful voice in the room. I was raised by a mother who had a strong personality, and was very much against the concept of self esteem, preferring to believe that God gave you all of your gifts and strength.

I would rather not have my voice even in the room, if my voice is simply heard as another voice of privilege speaking. I’ve always wanted to talk about my own self from the perspective of being a spiritual being trying to discover what it means to be a human being. I don’t suppose that I worked nearly hard enough to listen to what other people have to say, and come to a new understanding about what it means to be human when you are not white and male.

I could blame my lack of attention to the other on my culture–I was raised in the eighties and nineties to believe that the world would more or less always run like the universe of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton–the action heroes would look like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and families would be either like the families of Growing Pains and Family Ties or they would be like the Cosbys or The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Perhaps, some of the more redneck and working class families would look like the Simpsons, but for the most part, everyone would agree that this particular America was the best America we could ever have.

I probably complained more than a little in my teens and twenties about the world not being fair and perfect, but I mostly saw the unfairness of things through the lens of someone who was just a little too bookish and shy to fit in properly, rather than opting to open my eyes and see why other people from very diverse backgrounds might see things as being not quite right.

I for one have never really seen Mexican immigrants or Muslim immigrants as being threats to my jobs and way of life. I have never felt like any particular job I was seeking was denied me due to an undocumented worker stealing it away from me. This, too, could be due to my privilege. My education has enabled me to gain access to white collar jobs during almost any kind of economy. I may not have gotten the kind of degree where I can pack up and take a six figure salary, but I have enough skills and education to be gainfully employed when I need to be.

I don’t think that the American way of life is threatened so much is that it will inevitably shift into being something else, something other than what it looked like during the Reagan and Clinton years. My gut says that Trump will ultimately do more to harm the American way of life than help it, but I hope that he proves me wrong. I am not someone who hopes that Trump wrecks the country, because it would be very bad for me and my family if he did.

The reason that I write so much has less to do with being ever hopeful that my voice will one day be heard by many, and more to do with this sense of it being an inevitable and necessary thing to do. A psychologist might argue that I am writing purely for comfort–that I feel a warm and cozy feeling when I see my thoughts appear as words on a screen, and I feel some kind of validation when I re-read something I wrote and believe that it is of some quality. There is probably some truth to this, but I think there is also the sense of needing to do something, rather than nothing. Just sitting around the house picking at books and articles and contemplating my existence or trying to meditatively purge those character flaws that are still within me is not enough. I want someone out there, either now or in the distant future, to know that when I lived on this earth, I did something.

I do feel like I am mostly powerless against the forces of change that are taking place in the world right now. I don’t feel like my voice is really welcome in the liberal circles I mostly associate myself with, and I look back on my attempts to do something socially active for change during the Bush years, and see just how little of a difference any of my political activity really made. Yes I was hyperinformed, and I wrote letters and I volunteered with political campaigns and parties, but the charisma of Obama is what swept in the change that was needed. It was rather daunting to see all of the faces that turned up for Obama rallies who were mostly absent from the political arena during most of the Bush years. Who are these people, who get excited for someone like Ralph Nader, Howard Dean, Obama or Bernie, but then go back home when they realize their candidate can’t possibly win, and do nothing to change anything until the next magnificent would-be savior comes along? I should know, I was one of them, back when I knew nothing at all about politics and thought that Ralph Nader and Howard Dean were pretty great.

What is it about us humans that makes us feel like we need some kind of messiah or savior or single man or woman to come along and be our advocate, our voice? For a society that has mostly become non-religious, we certainly do like to hold up individual humans as being demigods–we like to assign so much more power and authority to single individuals than they really deserve. Another characteristic of humans may help explain this. We weep openly when we see an individual child or mother suffering in a commercial for a non-profit, but we just sigh and shake our heads in disbelief when we read about the genocide of hundreds of thousands of people. The same sort of thing must be at play when we seek out agents of change and those who we would give our assent to rule over us–it is much easier to think of a single, wise and noble king ruling over us and being our advocate than a large group of people. So many movements end up going nowhere without a person like MLK, Obama or even Donald Trump taking it upon themselves to be the spokesperson for and embodiment of the movement. If all of the women who had marched recently had connected themselves in a similar concrete fashion with Hillary, and Hillary had taken it upon herself to embody the movement rather than simply be a “her” we could opt in to be with, we might very well have seen Hillary elected, or at least have seen her win a few more states. Hillary Clinton may have been too utterly incapable of seizing this charismatic mantle, though–as much as people accuse her of lying and being duplicitous, I think she may have just been an average, boring politician and not enough people could get excited about that.

I still don’t think I am even close to understanding what it is about the charismatic individual that can connect with a particular movement and get people deliriously excited and willing to do more than they thought humanly capable to support that person. Is it really the case that we are endowed with a “god sense” inside of us, a need to worship a deity-as-human? Or, is it simply that evolution has seen us benefit time and again from having a strong tribal leader become the face and voice of all of the dreams and hopes of the collective group?

I can’t say as I was ever completely swayed in the sense of becoming a true believer about Ralph Nader, Howard Dean or Barack Obama. I could see the effect their words and actions were having upon the crowds who listened to them speak, and then went home and took up volunteer positions of blockwalking and phonebanking for these people. By the time 2016 arrived, I was pretty immune and indifferent to such charismatic characteristics, and I could only sort of understand why Bernie and Trump became so popular and Hillary didn’t. I know that it is a well-known truism in sales that people buy emotionally and justify rationally, but I guess I am just too far removed from my youthful emotions to have the kind of radar I would have needed to understand just why Trump was going to win the general election and Hillary wasn’t.

I’ve spent a lot more time thinking about what the world could look like for me and my child(ren?) in ten to fifty years. I have tried to envision all kinds of scenarios for the United States–where we end up like Great Britain during the post WWII years, or Germany between the two World Wars, or Russia from 1900 to the end of the Stalin era, or perhaps Japan of the past ten to twenty years, or maybe even a flat out apocalyptic scenario for when a bunch of countries, including the U.S., start lobbing nukes at each other. In some scenarios, it makes perfect sense to flee to Canada or New Zealand, in others it doesn’t. If things get really bad, they will follow us to those countries, if things are moderately bad, I probably won’t notice them much, being a person who has never known especially great wealth. There is a kind of sweet spot for how bad things could be which dictates leaving the country. Obviously, I don’t want to be tattooed or microchipped to participate in the economy, or renounce my faith, if it were to come down to that. I would rather see myself and my family die as wretched martyrs for Christ, than to curse Christ for the sake of a few years of earthly comfort. I don’t know if my wife feels exactly the same way or not–but I argue that there is no point in having Christian faith if you are unwilling to express it in an extreme circumstance. Why not just be an atheist, agnostic or Buddhist if you are unwilling to die for Christ?

Who knows what Trump will do? Perhaps he doesn’t know himself. Perhaps a bright and shining light will emerge forth from the ranks of the Democratic Party, and this individual will be super-charismatic and smooth talking, making Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan look like stuttering yokels. Such a person would most certainly be adored by many, but I would probably trust him or her very little. People really need to have their innate need for a king or demigod to be met and dealt with and annihilated, in my opinion, and I think both liberals and conservatives still hold too many individuals in their corners who crave a savior.

I would almost argue that the myth-making around the creation of the United States has saved the world and prolonged it from seeing an anti-Christ spring forth. But, too many of us have not bothered to pay attention in our history classes and learn about how this country was founded on principles of not having a king rule us. Historically, it seems like every republic or democracy inevitably succumbs to the people’s desire for a king. It is deeply ingrained in our nature. Maybe we are just lazy and don’t want to take on any civic responsibility, or maybe we our simply too fearful of the Other who would come to invade our pristine civilizations. The threat of the Other, coupled with people’s complacency, seems to always be the winning combination for the crowning of kings, ceasars, czars, etc. Yessir, please come and rule over us, because we are too lazy and fearful to face each other head on and work out our disagreements as civilized adults. Also, we are too lazy and fearful to muster up a response to the invasion of the Other–whether the Other comes to us in peace or not, we are frightened by how the Other will take away our cherished customs.

It is antithetical and completely against what it means to be an American to ask for a king, but each presidential election in my lifetime seems to have seen its winner be the one who would most closely be like a king for us, who would prefer to feel safe and comforted knowing such a person is ruling over us, representing us, and fighting our battles for us so that we can go about our business without worry of any sort of Other invading it.

And, it seems like we never run out of an Other to blame for all of our problems. Some Others may be legitimate threats, but most are not. I think that when we die and go to heaven we will be shocked at the variety of people who join us there. Those of us who are white may very well be among the minority of faces we encounter up in heaven, if God even bothers to clothe our spiritual selves in recognizable human forms.

I sit in endless expectation, waiting to be radically transformed

I sit in endless expectation, waiting to be radically transformed. I age. I forget almost everything I read and dream.

I hope for magic, for adventures into mystic realms. I nap. I wake up refreshed mentally and physically, but there are no big revelations, no cosmic interludes, just asleep and then awake.

I barge into the group at the table with a big grin on my face hoping to make new friends. Soon, the conversation is ping-ponging around me and I can’t keep up. I walk home alone.

I sign up to volunteer here and there, hoping to change the world. I am asked to fetch things and stand around patiently, waiting, just in case they need me, the extra.

I sit down with coffee and pen and paper or computer and word processor, and hope that the words will just flow forth in gorgeous prose. I complain about my day, my life, the people that are in it, and all of the things that are wrong with me that I can’t seem to fix.

I beg the Lord for signs and wonders, for surefire proof that I am being called to take up the Cross and join the disciples and preach the Word and feed the hungry, clothe orphans and give comfort to the widows. The Lord says nothing, and I get the sense that perhaps the Lord just wants me to be happy with the things he’s given me and stop asking for more.

Maybe there are enough workers and fishers of men. Maybe the world of the Anti-Christ and tribulation really did come and go with the fall of the Second Temple and the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. I don’t know.

I do know that I have done what I could in terms of trying to get my childhood spirituality back, and add my adult sense of social and familial responsibilities to it. I do know that I have called out much and listened much, and mostly what I’ve heard is the sound of my own voice. Maybe one day I’ll be asked to beg for forgiveness for polluting the world with so much of my own voice. I hope at least a few words here and there came from some place far above and beyond my selfish brain, but then, who knows?

wake up

wake up. the time to wake up is now. there is no other time than this time. there are no other days than just this day, today. the time has come to stop the self. the self doesn’t know anything. the self needs everything and never gives back a damn thing. the self is born and dies in poverty.

the self is in a cage and wants to be free. outside it sees people in 3D. inside it sees a dripping black watercolor with the occasional patch of gray or white. the black watercolor paint is endlessly dripping on this shallow 2D canvas trying to describe the moments the self almost broke free.

is being nothing more than a series of prisons, endless choices you make to discover new masters who will gladly take your money and then bend you over, and then ask you for more?

I see you down there, trying to reconstruct an old copy of a deconstructed self.

I see you fighting to maintain control over the precisely administered feelings. You take your pain and pleasure in measured doses, and you think that’s the way to enlightenment. It is time to imagine a space outside of yourself, where you are not.

Imagine a space where you are not permitted to go, and so the only way to get there is to become something or someone other than yourself.

Inside this freedom you suddenly find out how a whole new host of entities want to keep you captive.

If words ever could mean anything at all other than a series of impressions in the brain, then now is the time to resurrect some words and make them mean something, do something. Offer a blessing or two for the people who are hard at work doing real work. Offer a prayer for enlightenment and illumination to come over all the souls who are marching toward the darkness without a second thought.

Make your mind and your words blend together and then connect with the sun, so that you might shine upon this earth for a few more centuries past the one in which you’ll die.

Envision ways in which the Creator has sprung forth Creation, and can continue to create as long as He pleases. The Creator needn’t be anyone in particular, as you might have guessed, He probably isn’t very much a He, but is he or she a committee?

Why most we always think of the Destroyer when we think of the Creator–one who would annhilate everything in sight that is held up by Providence? Why must we think that the Creator possibly would be the very same One who would destroy us–or leave us for eternity in a perpetual state of destruction?

Every single state that I can imagine myself falling into is hardly enough to save me from falling into a state of perpetual amnesia, where I can’t remember what it was I did or said the day before.
Every word that I put forth might be but a sad gasp of lame wheezing, an inauthentic attempt to stay awake, stay alive.

Every breath that I consider taking place from my figure is a precious gem. The next breath and the next one are great gifts. Should I be imagining only the best to come, and putting first the dreams and hopes of others–letting all of their lives play out in my head as magnificent and grand lives of utter beauty and truth? Would simple prayers like mine for the souls of others be enough to change the courses of all of their existences?

I believe that these prayers might be a starting point for something grander–a real project of projected consciousness upon the earth. If my love can’t completely shine forth like I would like it to, then that’s okay, at least I’ve begun to change the course of the selfish stream that has been constantly flowing upward into my overly magnified and pumped up pride.

The beginning of the new kingdom will not take place anywhere near Washington D.C.

Permit me some time to indulge myself in escaping from the things that are in front of me

Permit me some time to indulge myself in escaping from the things that are in front of me. Laid out before me are decades of work doing things I can’t imagine. Peace is my prayer. Please, Lord, let there be peace, but the kind of peace that is joy and opportunity for everyone, not the peace of voices silenced by repression and extermination.

Let me walk the streets of a small city I once knew well, though it never knew me at all. Allow me to walk again as a young stranger, expectant of a perfect spring that would bloom into a million opportunities where I could see and know and possess the world. Don’t let me be stalled or waylaid by the vampires lurking in the shadows of these streets–the ones who snatched my youth away from me the first time around.

Oh, to be young again but not half as naive. To be full of hope for anything that could happen but not deluded into thinking everything would happen. Then, I can smell the first flowers of mid-March. I can feel the warm mist of the first spring precipitation. Within that humidity and greenery, my bones are softened where they had grown stiff, and some lusty young individual beckons to me to join in sweet fun.

I wouldn’t want to come back again if it meant my memory was completely wiped, and I had to start over with someone wiping my butt and teaching me how to read and write. Such a return would be almost hopeless–is there not anything I’ve learned in this life that I can take with me and apply it to a delicious, young life full of promise and backed by some means?

Isn’t that what most of us would want–the ability to waltz in and out of this or that life–sucking out all of the savory memories and flying away when things become old and rough? When governments become tyrannies of complete evil, or parents or lovers or friends do much the same. Then, it’s time to move on and live another life of ease and glamour inside another decade or century. Only the happiest moments and best times of the greatest lives for me. I don’t care if I am man or woman, as long as the pain and suffering are brief and mostly felt during periods preceding times of great glory. Sure, send me into battle in a great war, as long as I am one who makes out alive with only scars and stories to tell. Make me into a wealthy woman who travels and dines and drinks when and where she pleases, but don’t leave me to age or become the punching bag of the man who pays for my lifestyle. Once the awfulness starts up, please lift me out of that life, and drop me into another.

There is something about this present time period that feels fake and inauthentic–like life is only being lived halfway seriously. Is it the automation of everything, the connectivity of everyone, the abundance of information, the ease with which we can do so many things that once required effort? We don’t need to worry about film being developed, or a painful process of editing video across multiple tapes, or finding information using reference tomes and card catalogs. We don’t need to delay our gratification when connecting with others, and things and food and drinks are delivered to our doors almost instantly and cheaply.

The time period before WWII seems to be too rough of a time to live, at least for most people in most places. Too many diseases like polio and smallpox don’t have vaccinations. Dental work is crude and painful. People are mean and unforgiving in ways that are hard to imagine. Too much is expected of you, and too little is given in return. You die young and you receive next to nothing for your work and service. The time period after around 1995 seems to be too easy of a time to live–especially after the smartphone came along. Nobody has to work too hard for their entertainment, and everyone is rewarded for pressing a few buttons and sharing their picture or idea with their friends. Perhaps we will come to take all of it for granted too much, and forget the old ways. Nobody will remember how to fix a car, or boil coffee, or repair a pair of pants.

I feel most days like my life is inauthentic, but I think there is more to it than just the instant gratification technology, or my disconnect from common people and the land. Perhaps its the larger mentality of a throwaway culture–where everything including music and art and literature is consumed and forgotten. Maybe it’s simply my own consciousness, or the way my memories are bolstered and confused by digital images of ten to twenty years ago instead of fading film and photographs. Or it could be I’m experiencing would everyone living sedentary lifestyles has always experienced–unless I really make an effort to go run or work out, and unless I look closely at myself in the mirror, I really don’t feel the effects of aging deep inside of me. My internal clock says that I could be ten or even twenty years younger than I am, even though there are plenty of people younger than me who remind me that this isn’t so.

Of course, this is at least partly why we humans seem to be fixated on immortality. We are conscious of the idea of it, the possibility of it, and there are too many days that go by where we don’t struggle too much with thinking about what it means to be mortal. We live huge chunks of our lives as if we are going to live forever, until something serious comes along and lets us know on no uncertain terms that the end will come and come sooner than later. We don’t intentionally lie to ourselves–it is almost impossible to go around with the sense of one’s own mortality constantly present. It seems so much more natural to kind of forget about it until someone our age dies or we have a moderately serious health issue trip us up for a few days or weeks.

Somewhere from my reserves of strength

Somewhere from my reserves of strength I must pull forth something new and yet unknown. I must traverse a new sea to arrive at a new land.

There is the ever-present gap between the way the future is expected to look and feel and the way that it does look and feel. The utterly familiar is overlooked. The strange is met with gnashing of teeth. The charmingly novel is held in intense scrutiny until it withers. The worst is expected and all signs of the worst being made manifest are met with sheer terror. The final state becomes one of anxious, listless boredom, or acedia, or a full-on desire to perennially escape into fantastic realms.

The same goes for the will toward companionship. No relationship is quite right, and neither is being alone.

The answer should be one of learning to be content with what I have, not worrying for the morrow, accepting change when it comes, and being strong enough to get up and act when I am called upon to act. There is the terror of showing up and being told I wasn’t called to do anything at all–in fact, my life was meant to be one of complete ease, where I merely passed on my DNA. I don’t do an especially better job of thinking about these things, I merely insist on seeing my thoughts appear as words here.

If I knew that today was going to be the last day I would have the luxury of reflecting and writing like this, I might spend it lost in prayer, burying my head in deep anguish for all of my sins. If I knew that I still had more of my life to live than what I’ve already lived, I might take the time to watch a movie on Netflix or read a novel purely for entertainment.

I am suspended in a state where I know that I could die at any minute, for any number of natural or accidental reasons. But, if the course of world history and my own particular arc through it manage to remain somewhat stable, I might live for another eighty years or more.

The level of corruption and incompetence that is headed our way in the form of the U.S. President + Congress is so utterly stunning and overwhelming, that I am inclined to think that my death will be sooner than later. The global environment simply can’t sustain this kind of government, and it will surely reach a tipping point and begin to fail on so many systemic levels that the planet will become largely uninhabitable.

This leads me to desire focusing more on spending high quality time with my son, so that he will pass into whatever adulthood he can knowing that he was loved by his father. This leads me to feeling like I need a lot more faith than I do–as the only world that can bring me a sense of hope is one to come that isn’t manmade. But, I am not quite ready to throw in the towell and become one of those people who sit and wait expectantly for the end of days, so that God and Jesus can come in and clean up all of the mess we humans have made.

I am still compelled to sit here and write, and publish my thoughts. I have no explanation for this. I have abandoned such activity more times than I can count, and yet I always end up feeling like something is pushing me to get back into posting my thoughts online.

What I am really trying to communicate is how I, like every other human being, lived on this earth once upon a time as a fully-conscious being aware of his existence and inner and outer worlds. The essential nature of myself, that which makes me fully human with all of the accompanying delights and flaws, is a nature that I sincerely hope is shared by every single other human being. This is sometimes easier to declare than actually stomach. It’s all fine and good to think that I am just as human as the poorest of the poor and the utterly marginalized humans of the world, but is my “global human self” place that I am speaking from just as comfortable realizing that Donald Trump and Charles Manson share it with me?

I would never deny that I have written more than a little that is uniquely me, and therefore coming from a particular place of white, male privilege. However, I rarely, if ever, sit down with the objective of writing from the place of anyone other than me, a singular individual or me, a global human. My flaws and sins are my own, but surely they are shared by others. My sense of being a human, in a human’s body, in a civilization of other human beings, is surely similar to that which is shared by any number of men, women and children, old and young, rich and poor, black and white. If not, then are the walls between me and you so high that it isn’t even worth the attempt to tear them down?

I wish that a spirit of giving could be renewed in me.

I wish that a spirit of giving could be renewed in me. I need to be an authentic giver of myself, and imagine that what I am doing is an act of taking something that was given to me and passing it along to someone else. When I am in the spirit of trying to collect and amass all that I have written, so that I might look upon it with amazement and admiration of myself, I have created a tiny little idol that nobody but me (and probably not even me) needs.

When I am in a true spirit of giving, I don’t care how much of what I give comes back to me. I don’t need tax write-offs, receipts, reimbursements. I begin to lose most of my insistence and rigidity that people do things a certain way. I am not as hung up on the particular time, place and body that I inhabit.

I am willing to be seen as less of a ______, if it means that what created that “less of a …” was a gift of my own self, which exists merely because of the gifts and sacrifices of others.

Why so many straight lines everywhere, why such an insistence on precision?

Why so many straight lines everywhere, why such an insistence on precision?

Why so many books produced, words written, ideas created, and then you have the world that you do?

We have the capability to bring humanity into a perfect state, but we refuse to do it. Who does this benefit? Who benefits most from having inequity among us?

Does it all come back to good = turning toward God, evil = turning away from God? Everything that is done under the auspices of either one is being done under the sun, in our society, and these forces are battling for souls who would ultimately come to do either one completely.