the end and the beginning

The beginning of something is obviously not the entirety of its existence. Where would the end fall if that were the case? But using just those two words, beginning and end, is too narrow a scope. Because nothing is ever truly over just like nothing has ever truly begun. (Okay, maybe the universe. But that's it.)

Each breath is possible because of the previous breath. Each death ends up being the organic matter for new life. The end of one song on a playlist is the lead into the next. Beginnings and endings mean very little. Influences weave themselves into every new beginning and ultimately are what lead to the pursuit of a new end. 

With releasing a book, I've been thinking a lot about this. About how, by the time my book was made public for people to consume, I was so over it. It felt stale to me. I felt like I was beyond what I had said in it. I thought that phase, the phase I described in the book, was done and that I was onto something new.

There was trepidation tied to it being released. I almost didn't even publish it because I was so focused on the next thing. The new beginning. The idea as opposed to the physical pages before me.

But I realized that if that is how I would chose to view creativity, I'd never end up creating anything I would be able to put out in the world. Because what once was the focal point of my creativity inevitably will wash away in time to be replaced by the next thing. 

There is no end when it comes to creativity, and there is no beginning. The end of one phase or focus is what leads to the birth of the new phase or focus. And to disregard an ending is unfair to the new beginning. It is good to grow and evolve and become. But it is irresponsible to neglect where we have grown from to just focus on where we're going.

Doing so puts too much pressure on us to always move and never reflect. Action and contemplation must walk side by side. 

So if you're stuck wondering about the next thing, what is the thing that you are moving to the next from? What is the current? What is so tied to you that it almost feels stale? Whatever that is, it's probably a more improved version of what that was three years ago. Which makes it worth sharing. Which makes it worth publishing or painting or singing. 

Life is a series of steps. Not an end and a beginning. There are moments in-between way too nuanced to be labeled by such simple categories.

Uni-verse

The term verse is derived from the Latin word versus which means, “in the direction of.” Then the English and the French took this words and shaped it to mean, “a line of poetry or song.” Which essentially means the same thing. Because a single line, when seen in context,  ultimately points to the larger trajectory of a prose or song. 

And then there’s this term uni  which comes from the latin word unus which means, as you might have guessed, one . 

Which, when you put the two of these together you get the term uni-verse which is what we use to describe the very farthest scope we can fathom when it comes to existence.

Given what the roots of the word universe mean, we here on earth are somewhere in a far reaching trillion upon trillion light year wide reality that is a part of a single trajectory. A single direction. A single pursuit. 

But what is that pursuit? What is the one direction in which all of this is headed? 

Love hope freedom joy potential? 

Hurt pain shame anguish inability?  

We thought slavery was okay. Now we (mostly) don’t. We thought the demeaning of women was okay. Now we (mostly) don’t. We thought segregation based on ethnicity was okay. Now we (mostly) don’t. 

That one direction seems to be one of more acceptance. More unity. More affirmation.

And it also seems to leave the ones not willing to evolve, physically or in this new evolution of consciousness, behind. Buried somewhere in the fossil records of memory and shameful bigotry.  

 

Be like Auston Matthews

It’s playoff hockey season. Which, if you know me, you know is the time of year where I dance around the television yelling at the Washington Capitals. I’m Capitals obsessed. It’s borderline unhealthy.  

With that obsession comes listening / reading / watching any news I can about them. And today, while listening to NHL Network radio, I heard a blip about the Caps, and then the guy transitioned to the birthplace of a new Hockey creativity found in a player on the Toronto maple leafs.  

He talked about Auston Matthews, who grew up in Arizona without coaches that could coach to his talent. So it gave him the ability to learn and create himself. Without the bounds of what one is “supposed” to learn in their development as a hockey player. Which is, according to this Hockey analyst, what has allowed Matthews to be a premier player in the realm of creativity.  

Which made me think about this idea. About learning to do something without the bonds of learning how  to do something. Being interested in something but without the baggage of all the dogma that’s accumulated over the years of other people doing that same something. 

Too often I feel that an interest or way of thought I’d given a prescription. But think about how much more creative and fruitful a world where people who had interests could pursue those interests untethered. What would we learn? Whatever it is being pursued would certainly have to evolve. Just as Hockey is doing with the likes of Auston Matthews. 

Theology, painting, hockey, all of these things need people who are intrigued but are not bound to the way it’s supposed be done. Because it’s precisley those people who allow for evolution, growth, and a whole new paradigm to be birthed. 

That bbq Guy

 “If you want to be one of the best, you need to be evolving. And understand that you don’t know everything”

This quote isn’t from Elizabeth Gilbert or Michael Jordan or Elon Musk. This quote is from a man who specializes in making bbq in North Carolina.

No matter where you are now, you’re not where you once were. Which is obvious. You move.

But in a more metaphorical sense, you are not the person you were five hours ago, let alone five years ago. Our perspectives change. They shift and grow and transport us to a place of better understanding.

This is true in writing. This is true in basketball. This is true in rocket science. And this is true in bbq.

Because this is true in life.

Where were you? Where are you know? Where are you headed?

These are the questions.

The pleasant donut seller

The other day my wife and I stopped at a local donut shop we both like. We go there semi frequently, maybe a couple times a month. The guy who owns the place is shorter, a bit stocky, and always has just a tinge of sweat on his brow.

He is, at least based on my stereotype inspired mind, a quintessential donut seller. 

But he’s also extremely pleasant. You know the type of person that you only encounter from a distance but every time you do you just really, really enjoy them? 

Maybe a barista or a waiter / waitress or a pharmacist?  

That person for me is my donut salesman. He is, as I put it to Emily, one of my favorite people who I don’t know.  

When we were in there just the other day, this man’s pleasant vibe was in full force yet again. Emily and I spoke softly about just what a great demeanor he had. And then, when we were chatting with him about our order, I just went for it.  

“This may sound strange, but I was just telling my wife... you have to be one of my favorite people who I don’t know,” I said to him.  

His eyes immediately glossed. “Gosh, you’re making me misty,” he replied. “Thank you so much.” 

Its funny how much we interact with people yet how little time we spend putting into words what those interactions speak to. Because all interaction is tied to some type of emotion. But we largely just burry it down or keep it to ourselves.

And when we do respond vocally to our interactions, it usually manifests itself in negative ways.  

I’m way quicker to shout in disdain in my car over getting cut off than I am to be sing-songy with praise when someone lets me merge. 

But maybe vocalizing the positives is a simple place to begin in creating more harmony, hope, and happiness.

And maybe that sounds cheesy.

And maybe that’s a shame.  

i wrote a book

I wrote a book.

It's called Freeing the Firefly and it's about a shift from having God contained within a framework to letting God be whatever God may be wherever that may be however that may be and whenever that may be.

I'll have more info soon.

But for now, if you want to help launch the book / reserve yourself a copy, I just launched a Kickstarter for it. I'd so appreciate any and all help! Here's the info:


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1920031261/freeing-the-firefly

A few prayers

God of haunted houses and ghosts, let us feel your presence in the dark spaces. As we seek out the light your garner within them.

God of the hope in small places, let us remember that when we always expect and anticipate the sunshine and light of day, we miss out on the infinity of light from the stars.

God of wholistic water rather than individual pond, give us the image of your way in all places. One river here, a pond here, and lake over here. Let us not focus on one stream, but see your living water as a whole.

God of love for creation, let our theology never lose sight of the reflection housed in the eyes of Jesus -- this world.

God of the breath within our lungs, of moments microscopic and infinite, let our minds come back to a place of now. here. and this. Rather than then. There. And that.

God of mysticism rather than dogma, may we always make room to substitute the either or for the both and. The black and white for the grey. The us versus them for the all.

God of love for neighbor over love for tribe, let us always place the human beside us ahead of the ideology within us.

God of progress as opposed to regression, let us be at the cusp of your evolution, having the eyes of you, ones of greater inclusion, possibility, and love.

God of insisting love, may we be your existing flesh.

elder ocean

I went to the oregon coast last weekend. While I was standing on one of the many cliffs that tower over the pacific along it, I looked up out of curiosity how old the ocean is. 

Get this... 4 billion years old. 

Which is about 50 million human lifetimes.

Or, put another way, if you were to stand on the shore of the ocean for the entirety of your life and watched it, you would have witnessed a mere 0.0000002 percent of its existence. 

Your entire existence being only 0.0000002 percent of something else's existence... that's humbling. 

And we get to interact with this 4 billion year old thing. We swim in it and boat on it and dive beneath it. Think about that! When you swim in the ocean, you are being embraced by something 4 billion years old. 

Which begs the question... what in an existence that averages a mere 79 years (the average human life expectancy) is worth fretting over? Is worth spending an 20 extra hours at the office for rather than 20 more hour with your family? Is worth being an mad at other people about?

The world we occupy likely laughs at our self-prescribed seriousness. 

Meanwhile the waves break. Over and over again as they always have. Inviting us to their shores for a chance to recenter and realign with the rhythm of life. 

Whale songs and unconscious ideology

Whether through Finding Nemo, National Geographic, or some scuba diving experience of which I’m undoubtedly jealous - you’ve probably heard whale songs. 

What you probably didn’t know though, is that you were much more likely to prefer the whale songs of the 1960’s than the 1970’s. A study showed that humans, when presented with whale songs from these two decades, strongly preferred the songs of the 60’s. 

Ironically, just after the turn of the decade in 1972, the UN put a moratorium on whaling. It of course took a few years after the dominant music of the whales for the government to move toward action. This is the same way things work up here on land.

Maybe the whales below were singing about peace and harmony just like Dylan and the rest of the counterculture folk up here on land were doing. Whatever their noises were focused on, we preferred what they had to say during the 60’s.

Which goes to show that we all have preferences that we never could’ve imagined having. There are things that we are naturally inclined to think or feel or prefer that we aren’t fully conscious of.  

Sometimes these things are funny like the overwhelming preference of 60’s whale songs to 70’s, but sometimes they are bias’ that get in the way of human potential.  

In my experience, a lot of my unconscious preference comes from a place of confirmation bias. And this largely comes from my ideologies.  The ideologies I hold can often force me into a narrow minded and shallow view of reality. Which forces me to ask myself questions.

What are my ideologies? What are the ways in which those ideologies are seen outside the context of being within the ideology - both positive and negative? Do I fall into the faults? Do I live into to the life they give? 

We all have preference. And that’s okay. But in my experience when I hold preference without remembering why, sometimes I end up becoming callous to different ways of thought.  

And that can create scars and wars and dead whales.  

the me versus the all

There are ponds that come from tributaries which come from rivers which come from water.

A lot of us like our ponds and don't care much for water. 

A lot of us like our ideology and don't care much for humanity. 

Ponds and tributaries and rivers run dry. They go away.

But there's always water somewhere. 

human

The name for human is derived from the word hummus which means of the earth. Which follows the same idea of creation stories spanning from Paraguay to the Middle East. The Judeo-Christian tradition calls humans adama (we say Adam) which translates to dirt person. The indigenous people of Paraguay have a language called guaraní. Their word for person is yvyipora. Yvy meaning dirt. Ipora meaning spirit.

Humanity understands that our origin is from the dirt. We are gardens. Each one of us. Who with time, patience, and care have the ability to become abundantly lush with life. Not through the constant drive of do do do. But in a way mirroring the consistent stillness of the earth. A way of being. And a way of letting time begin to reveal all that we need, spanning from the days of rain to the ones of sun.

And through this process of being, life bursts forth fuller or more wonderfully than we could've ever possibly imagined otherwise. 

It's one thing to live in this world, but it becomes a whole different experience when we choose to exist.

existence is enough

We celebrate things because they exist. The birth of a child. The serenity of a natural landscape. The joining of two stories to one at a wedding. The greatest appreciation we as humans have is largely tied to moments of the simple recognition of things that exist. And these things are what they are because of no other circumstance than the simple but profound act of being.

Waves don't choose to break on the sand, but they do.

The sun doesn't attempt to set in such a brilliant display of colors, but it does.

A forest doesn't plan on having it's trees leaves decorate our line of sight every fall, but they do.

Nearly all wonder is a process of nothing more and nothing less than living into what is most natural. Living into the natural way of existence. 

And yet every day we wake up with the driving question of what is it I have to do because the question of what is it I am able to see is seen as careless and a waste of time.

Which has done nothing but make us machines to the machines we build. Creating them for the purpose of giving us a purpose. We have largely become a cog in some massive way of the world that has blinders on to all the rest of existence. 

It's been said that we are human beings, not human doings. And that most of us fall into the trap of the latter of the two. Not living into our true names. Motivated by what is next as opposed to what is now

But what is now?

What is the wave break

or the sun set

or the autumn forest in your life in this very moment?

What is the thing that is existing and worth celebrating but has been missed by the distraction of the doing? Because it is there. And in my experience, giving whatever it may be recognition over the next temporary task brings a lot more life.

Idealism and a puppy

On Friday I bought a puppy. It was a early birthday gift to my wife. I had person after person warn me about the life shift that would come from being a dog owner. The moving from personal freedom to having something to be responsible for.  

And I shrugged it all off. It’s a puppy, I thought, how hard could it actually be?

But it’s hard. It’s exhausting. And my ability to just act on an idea and run with it has been stifled by ankle biting, pissing, and wire chewing.  

What is the truth we shy away from with idealism? Because whenever something is seen through the lens of the ideal, it isn’t seen through the lens of reality. And therefore, it can never actually be the ideal. Because ideals are best possible realities. Which is a state nothing can live in all of the time. 

Shedding the blinders of the ideal can often be the place where reality can speak. And learning the tenor of difficulty and frustration paved the way for hearing the tenor of the good and the beautiful.  

 

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You are a cast iron skillet

My wife and I received a cast iron skillet for Christmas from her sister.

We love it.

The sizzle and crackle of vegetables on it is a sure sign that you’re  cooking  . Just last night we threw on some peppers, onions, brussel sprouts, and green beans. Then topped it off with some 21 seasoning salute from Trader Joe’s and we were LOVING LIFE. 

But what’s especially interesting about a cast iron skillet is that the taste you get from it isn’t just the taste you’re currently consuming. It’s that taste, but also all the tastes from meals past. Cast iron skillet hold onto what they’ve held and let the remnants of meals past influence meals of the present. 

So you, me, and all of us - we’re really just a bunch of cast iron skillets.  

We hold onto those things that happened to us however many years ago. The hard things, the beautiful things, the things inbetween. We carry them. And they impact the reality we experience every day, whether we know it or not. What we are cooking is enhanced by the flavors of times past. Each moment rolls itself into the next.  

This is freeing or frightening. But the beauty of it all is that we get to pick which of those trajectories to follow. And at the end of the day, I think all of us have the end goal of pursuing what tastes good.  

You Are 60% Banana

When was the last time you ate a banana? You and that banana you consumed share 60% of the same DNA.  

Think on that for a second.  

Only 40% of your essence is unique from that yellow fruit you pair with peanut butter on your toast.  

Think of someone that you hit it off with 60% of the time. They probably aren’t your best friend but you don’t dred being around them. 60% is a fairly sufficient number for bonding and common ground. There’s quite a tangible amount of crossover when there’s 60% commonality.

And yet, even with how much more similiar we are to our neighbors than we are bananas, we’re still assholes to people.

Is not you essence significantly more than 60% similar to someone you find frustrating or irritating or unlike you? The answer is yes. Because, as I’ll repeat over and over because it’s mind mindending, 60% is the commonality between you and a banana  

We as humans are, in the large scheme of things, ridicously alike. And yet we are very acquainted with polarization.  

Why? 

What is the motivation we all tap into that encourages discovering differences over commonalities? 

we have tides

I have a friend who is a singer / songwriter and he has a song with the lyrics, 

"You pull like the moon on my tide."

I always found this to be a beautiful expression of how someone can interact with the love strings of ones heart. But the other day I read something that expanded the idea of us and tides and how intimately the two things are tied.

The circulatory system, the veins and arteries and basic rivers in which our blood flows through, are the pathways to a mirroring of an incredibly mystic nature. They are the pathways to our tides. Our blood goes in and out of our heart. Rhythmic. Pulsating. It happens like clockwork. Until, of course, it doesn't. 

Humans have long been mesmerized by the ocean. We stand on its shores in complete awe of vastness and the unknown. But the ocean is also a mirror to the reality going on within us. Just as a wave breaks at our feet, our blood pumps to all of our extremities. And just as it returns out to sea, our blood returns back to our heart.

You have a tide. We are the tide. We are an ebb and flow of give and take give and take ...

Give and take. 

This isn't just true in a blood and ocean sense, this is also what you do when you breathe, you empty and receive. You give and you take. 

So for someone or something to pull like a moon on our tide means they pull on us like the orchestrator of all we do and all we are. They intersect with our most innate nature. And we aren' the same.

As true as this might be romantically, it is also true in an experiential sense. What are those moments, those divine or transcendent or mystical moments, in which something pulled upon your tide like the moon? It shifted your paradigm? It awoke in you a new rhythm?

Discover those things. Share them. They are what keep hope alive.

slower

Some days we need the quiet undertones of nothingness to slither their way to the surface. And once there, let them take over.

As we fall backwards onto the cushion in rest.  

what are our tools?

Maslow said something to the effect of,

”If your only tool is a key, you’ll go around thinking all doors are locked.” 

In a similar vein - if your only tool is a prayer that gets people to some other place after this life, you’ll go around attempting to make everyone believe this life isn’t all that great.  

or

If your only tool is the stats and evidence to reduce this worlds reality to chance and facts and figures, you’ll go around making everyone believe the world can really just be reduced to happenstance.

Maybe the only tool with a use in every situation is Love. A tool based on the absence of ego and the prideful self, and the presence of unity and oneness.

That’s a key that fits into every keyhole.  

We all have beliefs. But at what point do our beliefs become our tools that we go around trying to use in every situation we encounter?  

the air we breathe

Every day you breathe in 438 cubic feet of air. Which, to give a visual because air is so intangible for our mind, is about the size of 3200 gallons of liquid. 

So in that sense, you breathe about 3200 milk cartons of air per day.  

Thats a lot of air. But just as we take it in, we also give it out. We consume more air than probably anything else we consume during our lives, but we also give back just as much as we take.  

Our relationship with air is one of equilibrium.  

Whereas our relationship with nearly everything else is out of balance. We have too much ______ and not enough ______. 

Life often seems to be a whirlwind of imbalance, injustice, inequality. Except with the thing sustaining your life every waking second you spend here.

The air in your lungs.

Everyone on earth, regardless of race, orientation, class, is given a fair share of air to breathe  

It’s no wonder then that the Hebrew people had the word for air and wind be the same word they attributed to the spirit of the Divine. This word is ruach. They saw spirit in the same intangible and mystical way as one encounters air.

It is everywhere, being consumed in every moment, and is equally accessible for everyone. And it’s all those things regardless of religion, political affiliation, or any other thing we use to set parameters. 

Air and Divine encounter is a breath. A give and a take. In us just as we are in it. It’s all around us. And accessible and a part of all.