The Word for World is Earth (Day 7 of 30)

This is part seven 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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There’s a chill in the air, this morning. Fall approaches.

I like the fall. I like every season, I think, when it first arrives. There’s something about the change of season that seems built into our DNA, into our long, deep relationship with the world.

I wonder what it must feel like, to have the timing of seasons switched or shuffled — to move from one side of the world to another for an extended period of time. Perhaps one gets used to it, when it’s a long-term shift, the quarterly change more ultimately important than any one order of change at any one time.

I was thinking about Earth yesterday.

I’m reading a book — The Word for World is Forest — by the incomparable Ursula K. Le Guin. It’s a science fiction novel, taking place in a universe where man has traveled to, has even evolved separately on, planets across the universe. Like any good works of science fiction, however, Le Guin’s books reflect our own world more than its fictional counterpoint(s).

I encountered this one moment in the book, in reading before bed last night, wherein a main character is reflecting upon the legacy and etymology of our planet. Specifically, he notes the shared name, Earth/earth, that we have given to the world based on the stuff of which it is comprised.

While this particular book appears concerned, like some others in the genre, in raising question of ecology and sustainability, Le Guin often has a beautiful knack for distilling her environmentalist and/or her humanist warnings into fine examples not necessarily of direct warning — but of the beauty, that would be lost, if we aren’t careful.

That small detail, that the character in question would be so touched in recollecting the similarities between his home world, and the one on which the story takes place — where he lives as an alien, and where the native word for the lush wooded planet on which the book takes place is the same as their word for forest — stands out all the more acutely, when combined with the fact that the future Earth of Le Guin’s universe in the book, is a place nearly barren of vegetation.

A place no longer itself, if we are to follow with the example of identifying name with substance of origin.

There are a few ways in which this can be viewed, I think. To be sure, it’s a warning to think conservatively, economically, about ecology, to consider sustainability. The fact is, there’s a very real possibility that we’ll deplete this planet’s resources beyond their ability to safely sustain human life — before we’re ready and able to spread to other planets. Count me among those concerned with this possibility.

In the more immediate sense — though linked to this larger scenario — there’s the question of natural and unnatural (human/technological) change.

How do we view and compare the change of seasons, the relationship of man to Earth, when our lives are increasingly dependent not only on food, water and shelter — but also information?

Has it always been so? Are we humans simply maximizing efficiency, reaching new heights of speed and achievement as a social species? Or have our technologies set us on a path towards the super-human?

There’s a side to that second possibility that seems romantic, given our current obsessions with youth, virility, long-livedness and physical or mental perfection.

Who wouldn’t want to be super-human? And yet, in pushing the boundaries of the natural, are we dooming ourselves to an eventual loss of the very humanity we originally sought to embody, protect, and maintain?

So long as we remain mammals that need food, shelter, water — even as we strive further and further away from these basic needs and responsibilities in terms of focus, leaving behind whole swaths of the world population in the pursuit of knowledge — we remain, at our core, naturally human. But do we endanger this core identity, as we continue to grant equal or greater importance to other, less intrinsic needs, both on the personal and societal levels?

I don’t know. I have tended towards more optimistic views, in recent years. I want to believe the change of seasons will always remain generally the same, that as we strive and leverage the gifts of this planet and of science — that we will continue to enable ourselves to focus more completely on what it means to be human, to pursue knowledge and civilization as we make living easier through technology.

But there are warnings that we could, collectively, yet fail at this.

I also worry about apparent shifts in the seasons, no doubt at least a combination of human intervention as well as natural flux. I still worry about general trends that put the greed of the few ahead of the needs of the many.

Despite my hopefulness, it still sometimes seems just as possible that we’ll eventually face of day of reckoning, in regards to our relationship with this Earth, which we deign to have mastered but will always, more accurately, depend upon for everything.

We are of this beautiful place. It deserves our due respect, our love.

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

The Arc of 2015: In Good Time

The following was written a few weeks ago, while I was away for some R&R in the woods. That was the only way this year’s update was going to happen.

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Winter 2015: Just add snow. Also, I’m destined to become a mountain man.

The Setting: New England Winter

I’m sitting, propped up by pillows and legs outstretched, on an old firm couch in a guest house above a garage on a farm in rural Connecticut.

The temperature outside is at freezing point, but it’s warm inside. I woke up just in time to watch the sun finish rising out the three large windows that face the forest that surrounds the properties.

New England winters mean something to me. I grew up with them. Despite the bitter cold and the ice and the snow typical of the season in the region — I usually enjoyed them. Especially  I enjoyed them when sleeping somewhere surrounded by forest.

I’m here with my wife, who’s out running right now. I already made myself breakfast and ate it. I’m on my second cup of tea. This weekend is a necessary time-out, and not the only one I have taken this year.

This house is small but perfectly designed and artfully furnished. The couch I am on runs alongside a set of window perpendicular to those through which I watched the sun rise. Now the sun shines upon the large table where we ate dinner last night.

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I have to say, I aced the cook on this rib-eye.

A pair of blue jays have been fluttering around the giant, stately bushes outside. I can see the main house from here. It’s large and also stately but in an un-obsequious way. The owners seem kind. We’re here, probably, for a few more days.

A fly is buzzing around and I’m pretending not to care. That sort of thing is easier to do here.

I had planned, in view of this setting and circumstance, to continue with the new fiction piece I have been working on. It’s a story that I have been wanting to explore for a long time, but hadn’t up until recently been able to start. Now it’s started. Not only that, I am happy to be engaged with it. I can see, now, why I left it in its prior uninitiated state for years. The time wasn’t right.

No, that’s wrong. It would be more accurate to say that the time hadn’t arrived yet.

Musings on Time

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This book rattled my brain. I like it when that happens.

I have been thinking about time, recently. This is partially a result at having read Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, and also Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: Overture. Both books, in their ways, jab at popular notions of time.

I worry about time a lot. I used to worry about it a lot more. I would like to worry about it even less.

A good portion of the lessening can probably be attributed to aging. What “they” say, as far as it concerns me personally, at least, appears true. I worry less now than I did in my twenties.

I can see and feel my body aging, now. This has been both a new cause of a concern and, at the same time, an clear indication of my powerlessness against time.

Contrastingly, in career terms, I have lately begun to accept that, at thirty-one, I am mostly still considered young. There are still days when I feel like I should be “further along” by now, or that I “should have” accomplished “x” or “y” — but I try to respond to such ideas with self-compassion and a plea for personal patience.

When I still felt young, which was still going on as recently as three or four years ago, I was, as I have said, much more obsessed with time.

I never felt able to keep up. I never believed I was going to get to where I wanted — had –- to go.

That’s changed. It’s changed for a few reasons.

Withdrawing from Time’s Pull

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This journal has been a great “next best thing” sub-in for morning pages.

First, while it’s still a battle I lose for hours and days and sometimes weeks at a time, I committed some time ago to working towards presence.

Nearly every day, I write this sentence out as an affirmation in my Five Minute Journal:

I am present, mindful, grateful and kind.

Also every day, I second-guess myself, wondering whether it’s “right” to affirm both presence and mindfulness. It could be argued that they’re the same thing. But I still do it, every time. And, today, I think I know why.

My affirmation of presence is a reminder. That, whether I believe it or not, remember it or not –- I am here. This is a fact I have had difficulty believing and facing in the past, despite its more than obvious truth. We are all, always, here, until we’re not.

But do we always feel that way? Do we acknowledge it? I don’t, not always, or often enough.

Sometimes, honestly, it hurts to be here. My own mind, the internet, social media, TV or films or books — even my work — they offer a welcome reprieve from the difficulty of acknowledging the pain that sometimes seizes my heart when I consider the sheer power and responsibility of being here.

And I don’t mean to suggest there’s not joy in that knowledge, too. But, for some (me), the process of courageously pursuing that joy can become a loaded one with its own potential to overwhelm.

Still, presence is truth. As such, it’s impervious to regret. That makes it work fighting for, to me.

Mindfulness, on the other hand, is the path by which I seek and access truth. It’s how I come back to the present, and to myself, when I’m obsessing over the past or worrying about the future.

Worrying about the past and the future is a normal, natural thing. Arguably, these anxieties even hold some utility, when indulged in a balanced way. Even when I’ve found myself worrying too much (and thus slipping from mindfulness) — I try not to judge myself. It’s part of our nature to “leave the planet” in spots.

It’s the coming back that really counts.

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The wife and I went for a hike. Found this. Felt good.

That’s why, I think, I started this post the way that I did. I was settling into life, in the moment.

This can be a delicate process, when writing, or creating. Creators face a difficult balancing act during each engaged act of genesis.

Creativity, unsurprisingly, is much like sex in this way. It’s about both being fully in and outside the moment, extending outside the body through the body.

Acknowledging Time’s Power

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The view from the exact spot wherein this was written. Cozy, right?

Now, obviously, we cannot be creating constantly, just as we cannot be constantly having sex. Reprieve from the realities of friction and fluid depletion, social order and sustained healthy living — these necessities preclude such behavior.

While time conceptually may be much less harsh and villainous than we often consider it to be, in cosmic terms it’s still one of only a few primal ruling elements of our lives.

However, also in cosmic terms (we’re keeping topics small today), time can be viewed simply. It proceeds and we ride its current, unable to do more than pretend at stopping or going (in relative terms) at spots along the way.

This is why, when caught up by concerns of time — I turn to gratitude.

Gratitude as a Perspective on Time

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Cannot begin to express how grateful I am for this little hairy genius.

Gratitude is about perspective — about taking a particular view of one slice of time, at one such stopping point or another, and appreciating it.

I am fortunate to be in this house, at this time, writing this –- to you. I know this. I appreciate it as a captured, treasured moment of grace, an example of the exact relationship I seek in this world that speaks to my needs and wants as a person.

Often, though, in the busyness of trying to do and be more, all the time and in the midst of so many others doing and being their own things…I forget it all. I forget the moments of grace, I forget what I know to be true about time and life and the importance of remaining in the moment with my feet on the ground. I forget it all.

Being an artist, for many of us, is not a choice. Finding an audience, however, is a privilege. One that needs to be cultivated, earned, and sustained.

So, as 2015 gives way to 2016 — I say it again. I am not only grateful for the life I have been given and have built, but also for you. I am grateful for your time, support, and for the occasional commiserating moments we have shared and which I hope we’ll continue to share in the future.

Kindness as The Ultimate Expression of Time Best-Used

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We were able to shoot The Confession due to the kindness of our audience.

Kindness, to wrap up, represents the ideal state I wish to arrive in, on those rare, joyful occasions whereupon I am able to remove myself from time.

It’s the core appreciation of life, and of living, that feeds my beliefs. Probably, it fuels all the work that I do, that I have always viewed not as my own, but as something rooted in more primal, fundamental life-stuff than can be claimed as having originated in a single, struggling human.

Struggle As The Space Between Accomplishments

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I found a kitten this year. Here he is struggling to get away from Rebecca.

Struggle is the final key word, here.

Prior to writing this, I had been struggling to determine the appropriate lens through which to review the prior year.

Two years ago, on the first anniversary of this site, I remarked upon an arc of what I viewed as progress — observable inroads made against the injustices of the day. Last year, on its second anniversary, I celebrated a productive year of movement. Those posts have as much to do with my own natural evolutions through time, and through self-discovery, as they do with the conditions, histories, and developments of which my experiences are but a part.

Now, it’s three years later. The Videoblogs will be coming out (relatively) soon. It’s possible I’ll be compiling my first book of fiction as that happens. The podcast continues to grow. Time moves on and I try to ride its currents and appreciate its mystery, rather than pretend there’s a damn thing I can do to control where it takes me, when or how.

If you had said to me, three or four years ago, that this is where I would be, in this exact place in the woods, settled firmly in this moment, taking some time off with the woman I love in the midst of a years-long pattern of being in constant touch with all of you, who have supported my endeavors for years (via both your attention and your direct patronage), perhaps I would have been pleasantly surprised — but I also would have believed it.

This is because, as I am learning, time is much less measurable than it seems, or than at least I had thought.

It helps to set goals and mark progress, but change more often occurs, I am finding, via a day to day commitment to more courageously pursue those truths which compel us. The pursuit is the important thing. Everything else is at best a nice detour or a short break, but more often an unnecessary distraction.

Time is not containable. That is its beauty and our privilege.

Thank you for your continued readership, listenership and support. You are loved and appreciated. I wish you the best for each of the days that make up the new year.

602066_10100681300095942_1773576913_n (2)Subscribe to my list for exclusive access to posts like this one, and advanced (and free!) access to new (creative) content produced by yours truly. I send one email per month (sometimes less).

The Videoblogs: Why We’re Doing It (10 Reasons)

It's on.
It’s on.

My first film was a crime drama about a thug whose past mistakes catch up to him. My second? A crime drama about a two detectives and a confessed murderess who go up against a corrupt district attorney. Multiverse is as much scifi as it is drama — although as you can hopefully see there’s a lot more going on under the surface than what is presupposed by constraints of genre.

My point is that, if I wanted to, I could go out tomorrow and make something that pulses and thrills. But I don’t want to do that. Not yet. Very soon, I may want to do that, but not now.

Here’s why I want to do something else. In ten reasons, boiled down.

Here’s why we’re making a tiny, quiet film about mental health and reaching out through The Screen — about starting off painfully alone and ending up surrounded by friends — instead:

  1. This is how we feel. Feeling is everything. I used to be someone who professed this, a bit pretentiously, but I never actually believed it before now. There is what we do, and then there are the feelings behind what we do — which, for better or worse, dictate the whys of our life. Why we are who we are. Why we are where we are (and, to circle back, why we do what we do). Sometimes, in reflecting on all this, we view what we are and, dissatisfied, we seek change.
  2. We seek change. We face challenges of racism, sexism, faithlessness, hopelessness, and institutionalized injustice, here and now, today, in contemporary America. These challenges, in my opinion, are rooted half in denial or despair (on the part of the populace) and half in apathy or willful subjugation (on the part of those in control).
  3. We seek clarity. Despite all this, we believe people are inherently good — or at least inherently neutral on a moral scale. We believe much of the collective pain that blocks us from progress is obstructing paths to awareness.
  4. We seek awareness. There is no point to yelling into the crowd. The crowd is not listening. Instead, we must engage. We must dialogue. We must share our fear, our anger, and our pain.
  5. We seek a dialogue. There can be no progress without understanding. Everyone must feel heard, and all expressions exhausted, so that the paths to redemption may be cleared of obstruction, confusion, or deceit.
  6. We seek redemption. Raymond Chandler once wrote: “In everything that can be called art, there is a quality of redemption”. We believe art, and particularly the medium of the moving image, via it’s dominant position in cultural communications — is the vehicle by which redemption can be sought.
  7. We seek to make art. This is, in all honesty, all we know how to do. To quote the inimitable Marc Marc: “There is no Plan B“.
  8. We seek your patronage. This is a fact of the artist-audience arrangement. Ours is an interdependent relationship. We make films so that we can share them with you. This takes a great deal of hard work and sacrifice. We’re asking that, based on past results, you trust us enough to pre-purchase advanced access to a copy of our film so that we can get it made and then get it to you, as quickly as possible. Just contributing at all guarantees that you can watch it eventually on Seed and Spark. For $10, you can own a copy. We appreciate any and all contributions.
  9. We seek your help in growing our message. No large undertaking of note can be undertaken without participation in large numbers. If you like what we’re doing, and especially if you’re interested enough to pay for advanced access to our artistic product — we ask that you tell any friends and family who you think may be interested.
  10. We seek the grail. Partially, this last note is a test to see who lasted all the way to the bottom of the list. But, in all honesty — no matter how brazen or stupid the aspiration may sound — we do seek the grail. We believe in the possibility of an America where artist and audience remain in direct contact first and foremost, beholden only to each other, with few middlemen in between to dilute or corrupt messaging. We aspire to be able to participate in such a relationship in a sustainable way, wherein we may someday soon be able to make a living from doing our job, which is, again — making movies for you.

And that’s the story of this story. Hopefully this is all the beginning. Regardless, we do appreciate your time, your contributions, and your help in letting the world know that we aren’t completely satisfied with the status quo.

But we do have hope for change. Don’t we?

Thanks for being you. Please help us make our movie if you can.

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Multiverse Screening: Encore Indiefilm Showcase

I’m excited to announce that Multiverse will be screening at the Encore Indiefilm Showcase on this Thursday, 7/24 in Portland, OR, at 7PM. We’ll be playing with Amy Seimetz’s Sun Don’t Shine.

A reclusive young woman braves a night out in NYC and is confronted by an increasingly isolating series of strange events.

This is our first public screening (with a few more hopefully to follow). We’re looking forward to sharing the film with the Portland community and thank Jason W. de Parrie-Turner and Jeanne de Parrie-Turner at Encore for inviting us to participate.

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For anyone who is new to this site, Multiverse is the latest (completed) film produced by myself and Rebecca De Ornelas. We’re currently crowdunding our first feature, The Videoblogs, on Seed&Spark.

The Videoblogs is thematically similar to Multiverse, and is about a struggling struggling young woman whose life takes a surprise turn when a troubled teenager finds her private video journal.

It's on.
It’s on.

 

Announcing: The Videoblogs

It's on. First feature. Let's do it.
It’s on. First feature. Let’s do it.

The life of a struggling young woman takes a surprise turn when a troubled teenager finds her private video journal.

CURRENTLY CROWDFUNDING ON SEED & SPARK.

Yes, it’s on.

Rebecca and I are proud to announce that we have been in preproduction on our first feature film, The Videoblogs, since June.

We’re currently crowfunding for the minimum amount of funds we need to pay for things like food, insurance, hard drives, etc. Everything else is being done in accordance with a bootstrapped experimental production model that I will write about in more detail soon.

Finally, we could sure use your help spreading the word. Friend me and Rebecca on Facebook, if we aren’t friends already. Follow us on Twitter (me here, her here).

If you can help financially, that would be wonderful, too. Every little bit makes a big difference. And there are plenty of cool perks to donating, like advanced copies of the film — or a personal videoblog from our cat or dog.

Wendy is waiting, humans.
Wendy is waiting, humans.

But, honestly, if you like our pitch — it would provide a huge boost if you could share the project with your nearest and dearest. Since you seem to like us (at least a little bit) our hope is that maybe a few of them will like us, too.

Here are sample messages you can copy and paste in seconds:

Share on Twitter!
Check out , an  feature about reaching out through The Screen, now funding on 

Share on Facebook!
Check out #VideoblogsFilm, an #indie feature about a struggling young woman whose life takes a surprise turn when a troubled teen finds her private video journal. Now funding on Seed&Spark! Incentives for contributing include advanced access to the film and vlogs from animals! http://bit.ly/1pvk1ct

Oh. And, also, since you’re so cool, feel free to watch our recently completed short film, Multiverse, for free. Right. Now. Hope you like it.

You can share Multiverse, too, if you want.

Share Multiverse on Twitter!
Watch this   , by . His next project! 

Share Multiverse on Facebook!
Check out #Multiverse, a creepy #scifi #drama about a reclusive young woman braves a night out in NYC and is confronted by an increasingly isolating series of strange events. The team behind it is crowdfunding their first feature on Seed&Spark! http://bit.ly/1nu5v7W

Thank you, sincerely, for your time and any help in spreading the word!