Why It’s Essential To MOVE YOUR DAMN BUS!

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I’m getting a late start this morning, because I couldn’t keep my dog off my lap long enough to replace her with my computer. This task literally took five minutes. I told her to get down. She would get down. Then she would jump back up.

The truth is, though, I cherish my morning pup time. I might have let her hang out for some snuggles, first. That’s between us.

I can’t tell you how different it feels to wake up in the morning knowing that there’s an unreasonably happy furry thing waiting for you to roll out of bed. My wife could probably tell you. Except I don’t usually wake up that happy.

 

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So, tomorrow is the last day of #30DaysBlogging. A list of earlier posts is copied below.

It’s been fun. To be honest, it’s also been a bit difficult. I started strong. There were some other peaks, whether of energy or verve, but I’ve been a bit tired. I want to be careful of that.

I don’t have anything explicit to reflect upon this morning (clearly). It’s cold, which is fine. That’s why the dog is on top of me. I slept last night. There are an awful lot of dirty dishes in the sink, spilling over onto the kitchen counter. A few minutes ago, I fantasized about tossing a few grenades in there — solving the problem for good.

I still might do that. Except it would cut me off from the fridge, and my Diet Cream Soda. I’ll need that later.

Right now, there’s a traffic jam outside my window. People are’t happy about it. I think a bus is waiting for a kid. The reason for this guess — a woman has been leaning on her horn and shouting: “MOVE YOUR DAMN BUS! MOVE YOUR DAMN BUS! MOOOVE YOUR DAMN BUS.”

I don’t know, lady. Sometimes there is a bus. You’re only making it worse for everyone else.

But maybe she’s late for work. Or maybe she’s an angel in disguise, playing chess against a sly demon opponent, and they’re both using the vehicles of Brooklyn as pieces in their cosmic game. Maybe her opponent has been taking a long time. Has his finger on that bus. Keeps rolling it back and forth, in the same spot.

I don’t know. My morning tea is just starting to hit me. I don’t even know why you’re still here. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice, but you can go. We’re just fooling around this morning.

I wish I had thought to record that woman. I could have set her as the tone for reminders in my phone: “MOVE YOUR DAMN BUS!”

Indeed.

Tomorrow is Friday. MOVE YOUR DAMN BUS, WORKWEEK.

This is part twenty-nine of a thirty day trial, during which I am writing and publishing a post every day. No refunds. Comments welcome and encouraged!

Day 01: Struggles and Wonders and Dying in  Chair

Day 02: Fear, Panic, Identity and Anti-Focus

Day 03: Purple Sky of Towering Clouds Over a Far-off City

Day 04: Circle Up and Laugh

Day 05: On The Future of Labor

Day 06: Appreciating Difficulty, Harnessing its Momentum

Day 07: The Word for World is Earth

Day 08: It’s About The Dreaming, Not The Dream

Day 09: Moments of Presence: CWC Interview (Writer Laura Goode)

Day 10: Simmering Little Wrath of The Annoyed Man

Day 11: Tragedy, Remembrance and Wonder

Day 12: A New Light Borrowed or Discovered

Day 13: Productivity Tips for Anyone Prone to Overwhelm (Like Me)

Day 14: Legitimately Va-goo

Day 15: Sex-Bleating and Cat Vomit

Day 16: The Waiting Place

Day 17: 6 Ways to Bring Balance to the (Artistic) Force

Day 18: How to Decide What to Make Next

Day 19: Take Faith for Yourself, Give Them Skepticism

Day 20: All I Need Is My Lamp and My Dog!

Day 21: Why I’m Writing and Publishing, First Thing Every Morning

Day 22: The Routine Dance: Rewards and Perils

Day 23: How to Be Better: Perspective and Self-Compassion

Day 24: Still The Finger, Silence The Vlog

Day 25: A Light Chill Wind in Early Fall

Day 26: The Case for An Open Heart

Day 27: How Can I Help? CWC Interview (Composer/Producer Simon Taufique)

Day 28: The Dangers of “The Project Wheel”

The Case for An Open Heart

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It’s not easy to live with an open heart.

An argument could be made that we aren’t meant to so live, or shouldn’t try it. Open-heartedness, it could be said, belongs outside the realm of the rational. It’s inefficient.

Except that argument is crap.

As humans, we feel. We feel all day. We feel fear, hope, happiness, dread — to list a few I’ve tried on already this morning, before my first sip of tea. We feel when we expect to having feelings (such as while consuming entertainment), and, often, when we don’t or would rather not (at work). Even when we don’t want to, think we can’t possibly, or desperately wish to stop…we always feel.

As children, perhaps, we accept this. Even as, at the same time, we don’t as fully understand it.

In adulthood, though, we often forget. Don’t we?

Either we forget that we’re emotional beings, with deep biological biases towards certain behavioral reactions, rooted in millennia of evolution — or we chose to or are coerced towards ignoring the fact.

I find this a bit ironic, and sad, considering how reliant we have become on fear — as a motivator for “efficiency” or “safety”. Similarly, it seems to me, we turn to fear for evidence to support sameness, to protect on the macro and micro level against unknown change.

But fear doesn’t do much more than that, does it — keep us “protected” from change? Excepting cases of actual, evidenced personal or social danger. Instead, it leaves us in stasis, or, worse, moving essentially backwards as we stand still and the world (as it will) moves on.

Still, as we age, we close our hearts. We grow up out of childhood, perhaps begin to feel more deeply, at the same time as we find ourselves able to consider — if not grasp — larger ideas, and as this goes on we learn to close our hearts.

Self-protection is not useless, to be clear. But close-heartedness as a default? I tried that approach for a long time. It exhausted me.

We don’t only feel fear. It’s not only bad things that happen in the world — though one would be forgiven for believing that, in absorbing the “news” of the day, and in considering much of contemporary entertainment.

The subtext to all this “reporting”? That danger lurks behind every turn. That disaster is imminent. In between, perhaps, we’re fed an occasional example that provides just enough hope-stuff to keep us going another day.

This. Cycle. Is. Exhausting.

It’s not reporting. It’s not entertainment. It’s a confidence game, wherein we are the marks, the currency is cynicism, and the reward is control.

Life is at least more robust, more balanced on average by beauty, than the narratives of the day would have us believe. This imbalance, in my view, generates and sustains much of the closed-heartedness with which many of us approach life.

We might keep our heart’s door open just a crack, from day to day, but not much wider. We might then swing it dangerously wide open, in private, desperate moments, with no intention to keep them that way as drunken nights give way to hangover mornings. And thusly a general default to close-heartedness is sustained.

We just can’t afford the risk of a more consistently open heart. Or so we think.

I would advocate for more open-heartedness. I would recommend risking a little more pain, not necessarily because it brings more reward, but because the ongoing experience of living through a fuller range of authentic emotion has the capacity to ground us more completely in our own humanity.

Such a way of life dissolves the artifice of a flat risk-reward lifestyle. It defangs fear’s claim as the ruling emotion. It leaves us dealing more readily with actual reality, versus the realities of others, fed to us with just enough of the real stuff mixed in to support direct or suggested claims that the truth isn’t being cut with lies.

After a period of adjustment, open-heartedness is much less exhausting than this addiction to fear and distress. Fear, despair, sorrow — these “negative” emotions will always be a part of our lives. It’s true that they often burn through, deplete us, as they work their way through our lives.

But this burning, this rendering-down, left alone to work naturally, will give out and give way, to make room for growth. It can’t (and doesn’t) last forever.

We don’t need to throw more fuel on the fires of fear and woe, to keep them burning. To do so leaves us only half-human, half-alive. A low-simmering fear of everything stops us from doing anything that might divert our energies away from the systems that depend on our compliance. It prevents any sort of sustained personal growth.

It’s all a delicate and maddening process, to do things differently, I know. It requires constant questioning, vigilance, much failure and re-wounding and faith. No switch exists, that we can flip.

There can be more animus to contemporary life, though, I think.

If only we could open our hearts a little wider, more often. We’re stronger, and can take a little more naturally occurring pain, than we think we can. The alternative, to numb ourselves with constant streams of antiseptic artificial woe, delivered to us externally, robs of us of the very vitalness of being alive.

We deserve more, in life. I believe that I do.

So, this is my goal for the day. In the midst of seeing to my general safety, as is practical and warranted, I will seek to keep a more open heart.

This is part twenty-six of a thirty day trial, during which I am writing and publishing a post every day. No refunds. Comments welcome and encouraged!

Day 01: Struggles and Wonders and Dying in  Chair

Day 02: Fear, Panic, Identity and Anti-Focus

Day 03: Purple Sky of Towering Clouds Over a Far-off City

Day 04: Circle Up and Laugh

Day 05: On The Future of Labor

Day 06: Appreciating Difficulty, Harnessing its Momentum

Day 07: The Word for World is Earth

Day 08: It’s About The Dreaming, Not The Dream

Day 09: Moments of Presence: CWC Interview (Writer Laura Goode)

Day 10: Simmering Little Wrath of The Annoyed Man

Day 11: Tragedy, Remembrance and Wonder

Day 12: A New Light Borrowed or Discovered

Day 13: Productivity Tips for Anyone Prone to Overwhelm (Like Me)

Day 14: Legitimately Va-goo

Day 15: Sex-Bleating and Cat Vomit

Day 16: The Waiting Place

Day 17: 6 Ways to Bring Balance to the (Artistic) Force

Day 18: How to Decide What to Make Next

Day 19: Take Faith for Yourself, Give Them Skepticism

Day 20: All I Need Is My Lamp and My Dog!

Day 21: Why I’m Writing and Publishing, First Thing Every Morning

Day 22: The Routine Dance: Rewards and Perils

Day 23: How to Be Better: Perspective and Self-Compassion

Day 24: Still The Finger, Silence The Vlog

Day 25: A Light Chill Wind in Early Fall

How To Be Better: Perspective and Self-Compassion

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I continue to think about and reflect upon balance.

It’s a tricky dance, keeping forward progress, while also respecting the creative process — all in the midst of managing daily life. We’re all called upon to do it, though, aren’t we?

Grow and thrive. Be better. Pursue happiness.

But it’s not that simple, most of the time, is it?

If I have learned anything, it has been to do less. To listen more. Still, I know it’s a hard thing to do. I have a lot of respect for everyone trying to understand or pursue something outside the everyday tasks of what we “must” do, everyone intent on personal growth and exploration. It takes courage. It takes extra work and focus.

And I admire those able to simplify. Especially in a city like New York, where stimulus is a fact of life for most hours of the day — if not immediately and temptingly accessible at any hour via subway — it’s a tall order.

Along the way of seeking balance, it has occurred to me (again) that I have been very hard on myself at points. That I have pushed myself too hard, too desperately, for too long. This observation, as regular readers might note, is nothing new.

The self-compassion I have been feeling lately, however, is new.

Caught up in the rush and the madness of life, not to mention the snares of the past, it can become easy to forget that we all deserve the opportunity to grow, thrive and be happy. It is not our fault when the circumstance of life or our social structures fail to live up to or follow up on the promises of these things.

But it does become our responsibility, to ourselves, to shift perspective as best we can, and do what little we can, day by day, to give ourselves and others the chance to…be better. To feel better.

Not for accolades. Not for attention. But for the chance to approach balance and feel serene, the opportunity to throw off regret and to be satisfied with the gift of living. So I grieve for a self less able to see that he deserved gentler modes of conduct, and I try today to provide and seek out new support.

We’re worth the effort — all of us. It’s a big thing to do, to show up and say: “I deserve better”. It’s a less obvious response to realize that we already are enough, and that it’s our perspective, and what we do from that point, that might need to change. That’s the real hard work.

Have a great weekend. If I may — do one small nice thing for yourself this weekend. There will be a quiz.

This is part twenty-three of a thirty day trial, during which I am writing and publishing a post every day. No refunds. Comments welcome and encouraged!

Day 01: Struggles and Wonders and Dying in  Chair

Day 02: Fear, Panic, Identity and Anti-Focus

Day 03: Purple Sky of Towering Clouds Over a Far-off City

Day 04: Circle Up and Laugh

Day 05: On The Future of Labor

Day 06: Appreciating Difficulty, Harnessing its Momentum

Day 07: The Word for World is Earth

Day 08: It’s About The Dreaming, Not The Dream

Day 09: Moments of Presence: CWC Interview (Writer Laura Goode)

Day 10: Simmering Little Wrath of The Annoyed Man

Day 11: Tragedy, Remembrance and Wonder

Day 12: A New Light Borrowed or Discovered

Day 13: Productivity Tips for Anyone Prone to Overwhelm (Like Me)

Day 14: Legitimately Va-goo

Day 15: Sex-Bleating and Cat Vomit

Day 16: The Waiting Place

Day 17: 6 Ways to Bring Balance to the (Artistic) Force

Day 18: How to Decide What to Make Next

Day 19: Take Faith for Yourself, Give Them Skepticism

Day 20: All I Need Is My Lamp and My Dog!

Day 21: Why I’m Writing and Publishing, First Thing Every Morning

Day 22: The Routine Dance: Rewards and Perils

6 Ways to Bring Balance to The (Artistic) Force

 

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I’ve written about this before, but lately I’ve been thinking again about balance.

Beyond this, I’ve been thinking about the complexities of negotiating balance, such that we might hopefully arrive at and sustain a general level of contentedness and passion — by which we might thrive in life.

This becomes a tricky subject, when you’re artistically inclined, or similarly believe in or are attracted to some calling. That’s so loud to you that can’t ignore it, despite all evidence that, to many others, it’s either a non-sound, a far-off whisper, or manifests instead as a quiet alarm.

How exactly do we thrive, do we find and maintain balance, when there’s so much else to modern life that runs counter to such a comparatively liberated lifestyle?

By now, I’ve figure out some of the answers, even though I often forget to trust in them (more on this later).

Many have been oft-discussed by artists and people more experienced than me. Still, here are some ideas, in case they help.

1. Prioritize

If you’re goal is to write — prove it. Write. Early and often. Everything else can be slotted in below. If it’s something else that you want to do. The answer is the same. Put in the time. It doesn’t have to be all day, but it does have to be the most important and focused part of the day, as often as possible.

 

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The earliest version of The Videoblogs.

 

2. Live Life

There is no ideation, no creation, without the raw materials of experience and observation. And our relationship with both or either can range from small to large.

A spec of dust drifting on the air at dawn. Heartbreak — which only happens when we risk our heart. Both are of the stuff of life. We must tend to such things.

And then, beyond living, there is the stickier point of making a living.

 

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Taking time off from business to hang with friends.

 

3. Accept The Necessity of Sacrifice

Barring inherited wealth or quick luck, any major artistic or business pursuit that begins with one or a handful of people is going to require sacrifice.

This can be a tricky concept. Sacrifice is a loaded word in our culture.

It’s neither noble, nor appropriate, or even ultimately helpful to us, to sacrifice relationships, or balance (see examples above) in the nominal pursuit of the time or space we “need” to create and thrive.

To mistake such avoidance as sacrifice is to hollow out any eventual victory. It frames the very basic and understandable needs we all have as humans in the world — to be understood, to feel important — in baser terms. To be understood by an eventual, adoring audience or customer base, who will not (cannot) sustain us during the hardest and loneliest part of the process (the making of a thing), to be called essential by them after it’s done and we’re depleted — these things do not replace the basic human need to be loved by the self and one’s family and friends.

So, this is not what I mean when I say that, to negotiate the time and space to pursue passion in the midst of a busy life, we must be willing to make sacrifices.

It is my experience, instead, that there are plenty of opportunities, every day, to let go of as much as possible that is not made of life-stuff, or sustained by passion.

That means genuine fun stays. Distractions go. Procrastination — goes. What this basically means is that you can stop viewing 85% of what’s on TV and/or your other screens.

 

It was a squeeze to produce The Confession. We did it anyway.
It was a squeeze to produce The Confession. We did it anyway.

 

4. Commit

This is all very difficult, in execution. It can’t be figured out in a day.

In a week, momentum can be built. In a month, progress can be made. And much more can be done in six months than we might think. And across the years? Sometimes it shocks me how different I am, how much I have accomplished, over a year or two.

In the midst of it, we might feel exhausted, afraid, angry and hopeless. But if we stay true, and maintain balance and health, time elides.

Sometimes, now, I forget what day of the week it is, or what point I’m at during the year, in terms of holidays and seasonal social patterns and such. I don’t worry or feel guilt about this. I let my calendar remind me of what’s essential. Otherwise I keep working towards the goal, even if and as it shifts.

 

Wrote the first draft of a book this year -- a few words at a time.
Wrote the first draft of a book this year — a few words at a time.

 

5. See to Your Health(s)

This is the most crucial aspect of negotiating balance. Everyone will have their different needs and thresholds here. My struggles in these terms have been well-documented on this site.

You will get tired, if or when you decide to fit something big into the general madness of everyday life. It is crucial to rest.

Similarly, I find it crucial to respect the quiet nastiness of the everyday fight.

We are bombarded daily by the smiles of pushers.

Buy this. Eat this. Drink this. Give us your money. Your time.

What’s left of us if we constantly listen to this steady stream of broadcast manipulation? None of us are immune. I’m not. We must pick our battles, and set our boundaries. Ultimately, the pushers are as beholden to us as we are ensnared by them.

What’s worked for me, foremost — denying the typical American diet. On most days, I stay away from sugar, carbs that break down into sugar, dairy, and alcohol. I’m not formally exercising right now, mostly because I’m still recovering from the damage I’ve done to my body while producing The Videoblogs (and the related spiritual exhaustion), but I go out of my way to walk as much as possible.

I make plans, more often, with friends, so as to blow off steam. One day a week, I open the gates to sugar and dairy and alcohol (pizza and beer and ice cream).

And I pay attention to my mental and spiritual health. I journal. I meditate. I try to take long breaks from my phone and computers.

 

Take time off -- and away.
Take time off — and away.

 

6. Forgive “Failure”

Also, I fail. I forget. I succumb to fear, or anger, and other emotions Yoda warned us about.

And that’s okay.

It is a very difficult thing, to negotiate balance, in life and art. It’s especially difficult when we’re not wealthy or yet being paid steadily to make the things we love.

But if we love them, and if we love ourselves — even if we have to fake our way in these respects for awhile — we overall find more days of solace and pride, than of hopelessness and depression.

The dark days do come. They’re part of life, and perhaps even essential for the contrast they provide. We are imperfect. We will falter. Part of balance, of negotiation, is make adjustments back towards the center.

 

I keep this one around to remind me not to sweat it.
I keep this one around to remind me not to sweat it.

This is part seventeen of a thirty day trial, during which I am writing and publishing a post every day. No refunds. Comments welcome and encouraged!

Day 01: Struggles and Wonders and Dying in  Chair

Day 02: Fear, Panic, Identity and Anti-Focus

Day 03: Purple Sky of Towering Clouds Over a Far-off City

Day 04: Circle Up and Laugh

Day 05: On The Future of Labor

Day 06: Appreciating Difficulty, Harnessing its Momentum

Day 07: The Word for World is Earth

Day 08: It’s About The Dreaming, Not The Dream

Day 09: Moments of Presence: CWC Interview (Writer Laura Goode)

Day 10: Simmering Little Wrath of The Annoyed Man

Day 11: Tragedy, Remembrance and Wonder

Day 12: A New Light Borrowed or Discovered

Day 13: Productivity Tips for Anyone Prone to Overwhelm (Like Me)

Day 14: Legitimately Va-goo

Day 15: Sex-Bleating and Cat Vomit

Day 16: The Waiting Place

The Waiting Place

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I find myself at a crossroads in my work.

There are two ways to look at this, since I don’t know where each road leads. I can worry about turning and heading down the wrong path, or continuing down one that it would have been better to turn from. Or, I can close my eyes and breathe, and then decide to try my hand at luck. To follow the wind, so to speak.

The first reaction doesn’t appeal to me. Though that doesn’t mean I haven’t incrementally tried it on, by nature of being human.

The second sounds nice, but I have trouble consistently showing the faith it requires. There’s always that voice, prodding me with the question: “But what if it doesn’t work? What if we’re wrong?”

At this point, while I still do worry about these questions, it’s not completely a case of fear of embarrassment. Age and experience has helped to mostly defang that avenue of paralysis. I can’t help how my work might be received. I can only do my honest best to tell an authentic, heartfelt story, and to give it a fair chance in the world.

No, more often, I worry about making the wrong choice because of a fear of lost time. And thus the double-edged sword of age and experience is revealed.

I love The Videoblogs. I’m proud of the film. But I beat myself to crap making it, at such a low budget and while living in New York City and working a full-time job. Beyond not knowing if I could pull off such a feat again, physically — I just don’t want to do it that way again.

I’m working on a few new ideas for the next film. One is big and heady. It’s been bending my brain a little bit, thinking of how to make it work on paper. To make it work as a production is going to take a much bigger budget than we had for The Videoblogs. I’m not sure I’m ready for that, yet. I very well could be, but that script needs to be RIGHT before I’ll move on producing it.

The reality is that it’s only been a few months since The Videoblogs came out.

There’s no hurry. I have other ideas I’m poking at, for smaller films, there’s a silly concept for a short and simple comedic web series I might want to try, and I somehow also have the first draft of a book of fiction waiting for me to re-write.

I’m forced to confront the reality that my fear of lost time is just the same old fear of being wrong, dressed up in a new skin suit it liberated from an innocent soul after its last round trip to and from the hell that it calls home.

Hah. Demon humor.

But, seriously — binary thinking is often a trap. And that’s what I want to address today.

It may be true that I’m at crossroads. Or, it may be true that I feel this way, and will feel differently a few years from now. Regardless, I don’t think what I’m going through is so simple or pat a thing as staring down various paths, from an intersection, and attempting to source out which way to go.

This manner of thinking might be too rigid for me. I might have outgrown it by now, even if I still need to slough it off to make room for a newer, fresher outlook.

I’m into skin imagery today.

Anyway, it could be that every road has its charms, holds its own opportunities. It’s equally possible that I’m meant to set up camp, right at the intersection, and hunt small game and live in a tree and howl at the moon for a while.

Perhaps there will be loincloths. Who am I to say?

During the course of this post, in my mind’s eye, the backdrop to the crossroads has morphed from desert to forest to jungle. This could be reflective of my current ambiguity, or of the proper aimlessness I am in this moment best led to inhabit.

For so long, I have treated myself rigidly, in terms of having to decide what to create next, how and why — right now.

When I have relaxed, and focused instead on the day-to-day, I have been gifted with ideas like Multiverse, The Videoblogs, the book.

And then there is the simple fact of the last sixteen days.

What I like about writing here daily is the immediacy of it. The simplicity. It’s uncomplicated. I’m a writer — I write. I share what I’ve written, then I do it again. Is each post perfect? Far from it.

But the pursuit feels pure. That’s what I’m starting to believe I need to wait for, not the next project that feels the least “wrong”, but the one that feels the most right. This has always been when I have known to move forward.

It’s not a crossroads at all. It’s a waiting place.

This is part sixteen of a thirty day trial, during which I am writing and publishing a post every day. No refunds. Comments welcome and encouraged!

Day 01: Struggles and Wonders and Dying in  Chair

Day 02: Fear, Panic, Identity and Anti-Focus

Day 03: Purple Sky of Towering Clouds Over a Far-off City

Day 04: Circle Up and Laugh

Day 05: On The Future of Labor

Day 06: Appreciating Difficulty, Harnessing its Momentum

Day 07: The Word for World is Earth

Day 08: It’s About The Dreaming, Not The Dream

Day 09: Moments of Presence: CWC Interview (Writer Laura Goode)

Day 10: Simmering Little Wrath of The Annoyed Man

Day 11: Tragedy, Remembrance and Wonder

Day 12: A New Light Borrowed or Discovered

Day 13: Productivity Tips for Anyone Prone to Overwhelm (Like Me)

Day 14: Legitimately Va-goo

Day 15: Sex-Bleating and Cat Vomit

Legitimately Va-goo

the-beginning-of-knowledge-is-the-discovery-of-something-we-do-not-understand

 

Sometimes, to find what we didn’t know we were looking for, we need to stop searching.

Discovery can be tricky like that. We search and we search, we flail and thrash, or perhaps we give up and lament. And, in my experience, that last part is often when something clicks, or reveals itself.

More accurately, perhaps, it’s when we realize one of two things — 1) That the answer has been staring us in the face all along, and is different than what we ever might have imagined, or 2) The complete opposite occurs, and we’re left instead with new, more accurate question — that any given search can truly move forward.

If that sounds a bit vague, all I can say is that I’m feeling a bit vague. Legitimately VA-goo.

This is all right. It has to be all right. If I were to fight it the vagueness, I’d be acting against my better instincts. A more appropriate reaction would be to let go and listen, I think. 

I’m not sure what today will bring.

I don’t have anything particularly special planned. I don’t have any expectations, other than that certain daily routines are likely to become a part of this otherwise average weekday.

The sunrise this morning was beautiful. That’s not a va-goo observation. That’s specific, identifiable, ready to be absorbed and appreciated and held onto.

It’s been a great help these past weeks, waking up with the rising sun. Stopping by here, for a check-in. It feels right.

Speaking of discovery, last night I dreamed of finding a new door in my apartment, that I had never seen before. I opened it, without hesitation, and saw that it led to extra living space that I was excited to find.

The space was dusty, and in need of some repair. I stepped into it to explore, and soon the dream shifted, and I was in a new, transformed, spacious, open — but oddly modular — new version of my apartment.

The place felt familiar but different. There weren’t any enclosing walls, as far as I could tell. This made me uneasy but at the same time it felt right.

So I kept exploring.

This is part fourteen of a thirty day trial, during which I am writing and publishing a post every day. No refunds. Comments welcome and encouraged!

Day 01: Struggles and Wonders and Dying in  Chair

Day 02: Fear, Panic, Identity and Anti-Focus

Day 03: Purple Sky of Towering Clouds Over a Far-off City

Day 04: Circle Up and Laugh

Day 05: On The Future of Labor

Day 06: Appreciating Difficulty, Harnessing its Momentum

Day 07: The Word for World is Earth

Day 08: It’s About The Dreaming, Not The Dream

Day 09: Moments of Presence: CWC Interview (Writer Laura Goode)

Day 10: Simmering Little Wrath of The Annoyed Man

Day 11: Tragedy, Remembrance and Wonder

Day 12: A New Light Borrowed or Discovered

Day 13: Productivity Tips for Anyone Prone to Overwhelm (Like Me)

A New Light Borrowed or Discovered

This is part twelve of a thirty day trial, during which I am writing and publishing a post every day. No refunds. Comments welcome and encouraged!

whenever-i-think-of-the-past-it-brings-back-so-many-memories

I don’t know if it’s mostly a product of aging more fully into adulthood, or of the last few years of therapy and self-improvement, or both these things — but I’ve noticed life has been…”cycling back” lately.

Old memories pop up, sometimes from a new angle, or with some shadows filled in by new sources of light. Hobbies I let go of years ago have re-entered my life. I can see specific pieces of my past with more clarity.

Beyond that, I can allow pieces of the past to rise up into the present, for reflection and perhaps re-appreciation.

I’m not attempting to re-live anything. It feels more like I had (perhaps understandably) been pushing several facets of myself away, and keeping them back and out of sight, because I couldn’t yet face them. Now, though, I have neither the desire or energy to do that.

If or when we claim to view authenticity as an ultimate goal, however elusive it might be, however impossible to identify and bottle as a permanent power source — as I have nonetheless done, and continue to try to do — we necessarily commit ourselves to a process of reconciliation.

If the past drags us, we must ask why. Once we begin to learn why, it follows that it further helps to communicate, negotiate with our past, so that we might find some semblance of peace, and balance.

So life goes, I think.

It’s a never-ending, imperfect process. But time continues in spite of any thrashing or argument on our part. We remain at once fragile and imperious regardless of what has happened before or might happen again.

As a default, generally, we remain driven by the past and by our fears and dreams for the future. If or when we allow ourselves to focus instead on the time between (the present), however, and instead let past and future considerations come to us (and then pass us by, until their next time up in the rotation), I think a process is initiated that fosters clarity and growth.

By that I mean that I think I’m gaining new views of how my life used to be, or of parts of me that still exist beneath the detritus of a recent stretch of difficult years, because I’ve stopped retreating — for the most part — into the “safety” of the pain and the fear and the confusion.

In doing so, I have noticed, with some surprise, that it wasn’t necessarily anything I or others had intentionally done, that created the conditions which led to either my prior half-sightedness or even my pain.

Like perhaps just about anyone else, no matter how well we might initially handle it or cope, or how we might eventually change — for a long time I was as afraid of light as I was of shadow.

Now, though, I can walk forward, a little at a time. I can turn, when ready, and look at where I have come from utilizing a different perspective, in a new light borrowed or discovered.

And the beautiful part of all this is that the cycling back neither ends nor lasts forever, as I had feared it might before I got here.

I can visit who I used to be, and recognize some of who I still am and some of who I no longer want to be, and then I can turn back around and journey with that knowledge to the unknowable future.

This behavior, in turn, creates new paths that I can come back to again later, in similar fashion. So the journey continues, never-ending but also never ceasing to bring new information, appreciation, or even joy.

Perhaps I am getting better at dreaming awake, after all.

Day 01: Struggles and Wonders and Dying in  Chair

Day 02: Fear, Panic, Identity and Anti-Focus

Day 03: Purple Sky of Towering Clouds Over a Far-off City

Day 04: Circle Up and Laugh

Day 05: On The Future of Labor

Day 06: Appreciating Difficulty, Harnessing its Momentum

Day 07: The Word for World is Earth

Day 08: It’s About The Dreaming, Not The Dream

Day 09: Moments of Presence: CWC Interview (Writer Laura Goode)

Day 10: Simmering Little Wrath of The Annoyed Man

Day 11: Tragedy, Remembrance and Wonder

Tragedy, Remembrance and Wonder

This is part eleven of a thirty day trial, during which I am going to write and publish a post every day. No refunds. Comments welcome and encouraged!

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So much of life shrinks, recedes, in the face of tragedy. Everything reduces down, to the essential.

I don’t know what’s essential, right now, on this day of remembrance.

Is it the sadness? Or is it the pain, that we must feel, no matter how uncomfortable — in order to continue, as best we can, to strive to create a better world?

A world where worse results, like patterns of sublimation, then perversion and tragic re-direction, are replaced by acceptance and compassion, so that we experience deeper healing instead of more violence?

Can we effect such change? Have we? Has enough time passed — will enough time ever have passed?

Fifteen years ago today, America changed. We were attacked, and horribly scarred. In the years since, we have reacted to this trauma with a mix of fury and grace. That’s not a judgment, just an observation.

But I wonder, often, about the link between this pain — and the additional pains that have followed.

I wonder why, in the wake of tragedy, many of those in power seemed more interested in seizing upon a moment of fear, to gain more power, than in estimating the full impact of what had happened to the country, and responding in kind to the true needs of the people.

I wonder why, in the years following, many more of our more powerful and influential citizens, pushed harder and harder to secure safety and control for themselves only, at the expense of their fellow citizens.

I wonder why so many of us, who enjoy considerably less power, spend more time squabbling, often in the service or to the benefit of those who have disproportionately seized so much of the aforementioned capital and control, than we do in real conversation with each other. I wonder why we don’t instead pursue more healing, more solutions.

At the same time that I wonder all these things, I find myself unable to blame anyone.

We were attacked. It’s normal for the pain and the sadness to linger. It’s understandable, that the resultant anger and confusion has led to more pain, more sadness — that the cycle has been perpetuated by re-traumatization and self-abuse.

We have been traumatized. Victimized. The rational, even years later, often justifiably appears inadequate to the task of easing our pain.

But time has continued to pass. It is part of the beauty of humanity, that we survive. We cope.  We press on, despite the repercussions of evil acts, and the various forms of fallout from such acts.

I know that my view of this date has changed, over the past fifteen years. The tears and the rage have given way to quiet, respectful remembrance.

The scars from this day will likely continue to show for a very long time. It’s right, that they should.

Those of us who watched it happen, who were old enough at the time to absorb the sudden flash of pain, to feel the rise of fury and confusedness, we won’t ever forget what is signified by today’s date.

We’ll always remember how life was shrunk down that day, and set against such a looming dark background of tragedy and death. We’ll always remember the fallen. And the servants who rushed to our aid, and rescuing whoever and as much as they could. It is right to remember all this.

I wonder if we might also begin to remember what it was like before. Perhaps, for us, despite the healing and growth of the past fifteen years — life will never completely be the same.

But tomorrow is always ahead of us, isn’t it?

I wonder, if we continue to keep up the remembrance, and at the same time pursue greater healing, if younger generations might so be allowed to forget at least some of the significance of this day in history.

I don’t know if that’s even what I want, whether it would be “right” or “just”. But I do wonder about it.

Day 01: Struggles and Wonders and Dying in  Chair

Day 02: Fear, Panic, Identity and Anti-Focus

Day 03: Purple Sky of Towering Clouds Over a Far-off City

Day 04: Circle Up and Laugh

Day 05: On The Future of Labor

Day 06: Appreciating Difficulty, Harnessing its Momentum

Day 07: The Word for World is Earth

Day 08: It’s About The Dreaming, Not The Dream

Day 09: Moments of Presence: CWC Interview (Writer Laura Goode)

Day 10: Simmering Little Wrath of The Annoyed Man

It’s About The Dreaming, Not The Dream

This is part eight of a thirty day trial, during which I am going to write and publish a post every day. No refunds. Comments welcome and encouraged!

Big yellow thing in sky wake up Michael from dream.
Big yellow thing in sky wake up Michael from dream.

I slept soundly. I dreamed, but memories of those dreams elude me.

I can feel them still, the dreams, lingering in the fog of the morning. They recede, though.

It always saddens me, to lose a dream, or to be in the process of losing one. It doesn’t often happen, does it, the way it does with other memories — we can often ultimately find our way back to an unremembered fact, or name, or other such thing.

It’s rarer to snatch a dream from the depths of forgetfulness.

They’re too ethereal, aren’t they? But still we reach for them. I do at least. I want to remember my dream.

The process, if not the result, feels important. Dreams always feel just a bit more important, somehow, than mere facts.

The memory of the dream, that it had been there, disappears rapidly now. I’ve been up for several minutes. The sun has burned from red to orange. I’ve been sipping tea.

The day begins, and the dreaming ends — at least, the real pure stuff — until tonight.

But we can dream awake, can’t we? We can relax back, and breathe, and wander through our mind, and grasp after strands of what comes more readily to us in sleep.

This helps, I think. Pursuing dreams awake.

And I don’t mean striving after goals, necessarily. I’m talking about keeping up with that pursuit, that chasing after what lit up our minds and souls while all else was quiet —  however fruitless such efforts might prove.

There’s something about dreams — even, I think, those dripping with the stuff of fear — that soothe us.

Their poetry simplifies, clarifies, by mixing the usual and the understood with the distinctly familiar but unknowable. In this way, despite their frequent opacity, despite our inability to break them down into the rational, the actionable — dreams ground us. Don’t they?

I think they do, if we let them. If we continue the chase, continuing trying to hold on, at the same time that we acknowledge that dreams are temporary, fleeting, insubstantial.

No wonder we grasp after them, in the waking world. And yet it seems fitting that the grasping should go on, rather than the dream. Perhaps the dreaming itself is more the point, and the pursuit, of the most-personal of stories, than the content.

Day 1: Struggles and Wonders and Dying in  Chair

Day 2: Fear, Panic, Identity and Anti-Focus

Day 3: Purple Sky of Towering Clouds Over a Far-off City

Day 4: Circle Up and Laugh

Day 5: On The Future of Labor

Day 6: Appreciating Difficulty, Harnessing its Momentum

Day 7: The Word for World is Earth

On The Future of Labor (Day 5 of 30)

This is part five of a thirty day trial, during which I am going to write and publish a post every day. No refunds. Comments welcome and encouraged!

What I love about film is that it combines physical work with mental/emotional work.
What I love about film — how it combines physical work with mental/emotional work. What I don’t love about it — how accurately the typical production (and general industry culture) often reflects American inequality.

Today is that day that was invariably going to come along, in regards to this project of posting here every day for the month on September. I’m not sure what to write about.

This make me slightly sad, because it’s Labor Day.

Am I glad to have a day off? Yes.

Am I proud to be an American worker? In a way, yes.

Do I celebrate the contributions of laborers more active and resilient than me? Yes.

Is one day enough, to make up for decades-long general trends that have made life more difficult for laborers, more complicated, even as those at the very top have continued to do very well for themselves?

No, I don’t think it is.

We live in strange times. It’s no secret that I’ve wondered at length about them, about what’s next, about where we’re headed, what it will look like. I think this is why I’ve gravitated back to science fiction, where I started as a young avid content consumer (reader).

What does a robotic future look like for labor? Likely, not great. Is anything going to stop automation from replacing manual work, in the real, tactile world? I don’t think so.

Given the choice, would we completely want to stop this from happening? I think that depends on who you are, and how you make a living.

Where is the line between accepting change and demanding your fair due, based on contributions of the past — that built the foundations of today? Do we still even respect legacy in this way?

I know the world is always changing, but it seems to be changing quickly, now.

Some of this change seems inevitable and, perhaps, ultimately helpful. Some of it seems short-sighted, greedy, or at least of the sort that could be checked, slowed, made to respect the potential or very real damage it can and does cause to human life and happiness at large.

I’m a knowledge worker, and a content creator, in today’s parlance. On the one hand, I am soothed by the fact that mine is a specialized skill-set. We’ll always need stories, and I’m a storyteller. I even believe I could be of use in the zombie apocalypse. Anyone who has survived past hour twelve on a film shoot would be of service in the zombie apocalypse.

But I do worry about these things, as I wonder about them.

I worry that there’s no turning back, or checking the rush of the tide of technological change, this time — if there ever was a way to do either of these things. I worry that as technology cheapens everything, we’re headed towards decay and dysfunction for the majority, in service of growth and ascension for the minority — of the increasingly other-worldly wealthy elite.

Labor Day is not meant, I don’t think, to be a day of remembrance. It’s supposed to celebrate the contributions of labor to our prosperity both then and now. This is still, of course, a worthy use of our time.

But I believe our workers, myself among them, deserve more. We deserve ongoing respect, both for what we do and what we endure, what we’ve done, and how those contributions have laid (continue to lay) the groundwork for future growth and prosperity.

A well-deserved day off is a good opportunity to rest. It can also be a good time to not only appreciate ourselves and our peers, but also to take some time to reflect.

We are all of us essentially equal — so says our social contract. I think it’s acceptable, if not crucial, that we not only celebrate labor’s role in securing today’s prosperity as well as tomorrow’s, but also question our role in that tomorrow, and how that role is influenced, diminished, or manipulated by those in control of both our livelihoods and our news.

Whether we like it or not, we may also have to think how we might both accept this reality and yet challenge its assumptions (and ours).

Change doesn’t only happen. We can also enact it. That’s the beautiful thing about working towards the future. We’ll never get there, but we can look back after a while and see where all the chasing after it has gotten us.

I guess I found something to write about.

Day 1: Struggles and Wonders and Dying in  Chair

Day 2: Fear, Panic, Identity and Anti-Focus

Day 3: Purple Sky of Towering Clouds Over a Far-off City

Day 4: Circle Up and Laugh