In Our Time

lost-in-crowdIn our time, groupthink triumphs.

Individualism is chipped away.  Everything is politicized, even our way of thinking. Intelligent dialogues are hushed or labeled hate speech. Pointing out biological differences between genders will get you fired from the great companies. Forced diversity is god.

Victimization and oppression are predicaments sought after rather than circumstances to overcome. Higher education is indentured servitude. Consumption exceeds production. The truth is relative, they say.

The people — mostly weak-minded and deprived of basic cognitive skills — have divided themselves into compatible congregations. In debt and greatly medicated, they flock to groups to deflect responsibility for their own lives. They are envious of the strong, full of resentment towards the great producers of society. And name calling and ridicule are hurled at those who refuse to dance within the narrow confines of their conditioned narratives.

It’s a hell of a time, this postmodernist netherworld we live in.

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Among the Daffodils

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My face is beginning to show
the battle scars of time. My heart
seems to care less for things
I once held as relevant. As the years
unravel, things make less sense.

The hangovers last a few days now
instead of a few hours. Beautiful
dreams once lucid are now blurred.
The idea of God weakens with every
atrocious deed I see in the world.

Politics is a hopeless endeavor
just like our obscene habit
of obedience. The debt bubble
we’ve swallowed as “prosperity”
is on the verge. The wars have
grown tiresome, nobody cares
about them anymore.

Everybody is trying to sell
a lifestyle; they want you live
like them; they want you to buy
their life-changing product
or get behind their great cause;
they have the secret, they say,
just follow them.

The church wants confessions but I think
we’re all out. The witless hipsters ride
vintage bikes on Brooklyn sidewalks
to coffee shops that were once
brothels and asylums.

Overmedicated & indebted men
find it difficult to have conversations
beyond their jobs or college football.
Women do yoga on weekends and gossip
on long walks about husbands
who’ve lost that intestinal fortitude.

The 88-year-old man, with his retirement
and dignity wasted away by inflation, bags
groceries at the corner supermarket
to pay for his myriad of medications.

The dogs have grown bored of their masters.
The cats gave up on us long ago. The sparrows
flutter higher in the sky than they used to.

The books of Whitman, Emerson
and Thoreau sit dusty on bookshelves
as the television scorches and burns.

Where’s the promise of victory?

We’re being led somewhere
by the outside far away
from the treasure inside.

As the tribes’ march in lockstep
to their ordered destination,
I lie in the meadow
just beyond the bloody streams
surrounded by golden daffodils,
as the rain rinses me of oblivion
I’m lifted from the hollow abyss
into the universal radiance
where the five senses
become one.

Between the Voids

 

_DSC3294“I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

Just imagine an endless void,
infinitely dark and bound by no space
and time. A perpetual midnight
with no stars or moons. An
eternal blackness.
Then a flash.
A light, a breath, a life.
Milliseconds later another flash.
The last gasp, darkness, death.

Back into it.

This is our life and our death.
A mere flicker in the spectrum of time.
An instance in eternity.
What do we do in between
the mysterious voids?
What do we do
with the fleeting miracle
of the light?

After the first spark,
we soon realize that the second
spark is swiftly approaching
and we fall to our knees
in angst and fear
of the looming darkness
rather than celebrating
the impossible odds
of the first spark.

In the face of the dying
of the light, we’ve
allowed ourselves to be consumed
by the masses
succumbing to a maddening
9-5 routine lifestyle
of work, TV, bed, repeat.
With weekends filled
with other predictable normalcies.

No creation,
no exploration,
no diving into the depths
of the great works of
wisdom and art.
No effort to taste
the world beyond
the recognizable margins
of our own lot.

It just seems like an evil hoax,
a bad dream,
a soulless way to spend
the fleeting days
of a brief
accidental
life.

Most live it, or are conditioned to live it,
or at least endure it
because we have bills to pay,
cars to drive, and mouths to feed.

It’s an honorable feat.

But deep down we know
it’s a killer. As Thoreau once observed,
“the mass of men lead lives
of quiet desperation.”

We’re running around mad
in our own little mad world, always doing
something that brings no joy,
darting here and there
with no time to think or reflect,
no time to just sit under a sycamore
and ponder on the mere chance
of our existence.

The late great mythologist
Joseph Campbell recognized that
“We’re so engaged in doing things
to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget
the inner value,
the rapture that is associated
with being alive.”

Maybe this explains the lunacy and self-ignorance
we see around our bankrupt country.
Seems we’ve politicized our minds
and neglected our souls
to the point of hysteria
while hiding behind worn-out ideologies,
mindlessly swallowing the nonsense
we hear from empty suits
in positions of power.

We cling to the buoy
of politics
and religion
and cheap entertainment
to stay
afloat in the whirling
sea of anguish.

We know nothing
but our mouths
reason otherwise

It’s like we’re trapped in a theater
playing constant reruns of a bad melodrama
with no exit.

It’s a hell of a predicament we find ourselves in.
Sartre just might’ve been right when he said that
“Everything has been figured out
except how to live.”

Or as Oscar Wilde once said, “To live
is the rarest thing in the world.
Most people exist, that is all.”

Maybe we’ve lost what it means to be alive.

We’re not our jobs or the labels society pins
to us, we’re not the daily routine,
the lunch breaks, the clock-out time,
the bitterness, the lifelessness.

We’re so much more.

Life is a rapture, my friends.
It’s creativity,
the yearning to create something
of value or beauty,
like an average poem
or a photograph that captures
a moment in time, or a stunning piece
of furniture. It’s being
intoxicated on books and dreams,
staying infatuated with the mystery of it all.
It’s seeing things and going places, journeying
alone under burnt-out skies,
finding out what you’re all about,
and what its all about.
There’s just too much to know & experience
to settle down
in a little pocket of the planet
doing mediocre things,
thinking ordinary thoughts,
and speaking in common ways.

As Carl Sagan reminded us,
“Somewhere,
something incredible
is waiting to be known.

a lifeless shooter

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There’s no one more dangerous in American society
than an aging man
who has come to realize
that he pissed away his whole bitter life
waiting on politicians to save him
from his own discontent in life.

The shooter. A hollow man with weak ideas.
His brain politicized to the core.
Never became a self-made man,
or created something of value or
even conjured up an original thought
outside of progressive talking points.

He never possessed the courage
to be the man he wanted to be.

His deep-seated bitterness was amplified
over the recent election,
over politics-
that great delusion
that fills the void of the empty.

His discontent became rampant
as he looked to his redeemer—
the state — who, in his eyes,
has utterly failed to penalize the fruitful
at the expense of his failures.

On a midweek summer morning,
with nothing left, he finally took it upon himself,
aiming a gun as pathetically as he lived his life.

Humanity

Somewhere along the way we get tricked.
We fall victim to this conditioned idea
that humanity is divided up into teams.

This being nationality, race,
politics, class and religion.

We join a team,
usually one our parents or communities
have passed down to us.
And we become proud of our team.
We cling desperately to our team’s
philosophies & principles.
Traditions & symbols
become our security.
We hide in them.

And because we are led to believe
that our team is noble, we either ignore
or justify all the evil things our team does
while at the same time demonizing
the other team for their vices.
Even minor ones.

We will strongly deny any truths
that challenge the dignity of our team.

That’s when the essence of our individualism
dissolves like ice cubes in our morning coffee.
We begin to hate the other team.
We deplore their actions, right or wrong.
We want to abolish the other team.
We become bitter as our hearts fill with disdain.

This is the abbreviated story of humanity.
This is why the world is a constant battlefield.
This is why it’s so important to teach our kids
to read poetry, drink beer, travel often, hike mountains,
and most importantly–never ever watch the news.

This will shatter the deadly illusion of teams.

Making Money, Getting Strong: Two Grownup Responsibilities

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Writes Mark Rippetoe:

There are more important things in life than money. There is family, learning, music and art, love and friendship, and your health. There is joy, laughter, passion, triumph, the rebound from failure, and the pleasure of accomplishment.

Now it’s time to grow up, son. Because all these important things need to be paid for, and some of them can be expensive. Money is handy like that.

Physical strength is like money in the bank in that it enables you to do the things you want to do with your body. Work, play sports, hunt and fish, and be physically independent well into your later years — physical strength is the basis of all these things.

I know that sitting around the table at The Academy, solving calculus problems, grappling with tough philosophical questions, writing art criticism, calculating reparations payments, and making decisions for other people might seem to be a more satisfying use of time and intellect. If you’re physically lazy, it certainly is.

But you can still do all these things while getting your deadlift up to a respectable weight. I manage.

Intellectual pursuits are indeed important, but having a strong enough body to host an intellect effectively and to enjoy the fruits of intellectual accomplishment into old age is part of the equation. Strength is the antithesis of ill health, and ill health is not how an intellect flourishes.

In fact, the muscle mass that comes with the development of physical strength has been proven to prevent the diseases and afflictions that come with careless aging, the irresponsible lack of attention to maintaining the strength that is everyone’s birthright. Everyone can get and stay strong, but this requires work, and excuses are easier than squats and deadlifts.

The muscle mass that is the hallmark of physical strength is the key to longevity, to health, and to the maintenance of physical function. In its absence, a towering intellect in a weak and sickly body is a sad legacy of physical laziness or profound misfortune.

Unless you plan to get killed, you’d better plan for getting older. All the “cardio” in the world will do nothing to maintain your muscle mass — but effective strength training both grows muscle mass and keeps your heart and lungs in shape. If you have enough sense to know you must devote some time to exercise, strength training is the far more logical way to spend that time.

Money in the bank, muscle on the frame. Both are the consequences of effective planning, and both are among the most important things you can do — if you’re thinking ahead.

jehovah’s witnesses at my door

jehovah witnesses knocked on my front door the other day.

two old ladies, sweet and pleasant,
with beautiful southern hats
were standing on my porch as
I opened the door.

hair disheveled, shirtless,
my tattooed body staring
at them.

they greeted me with nervous eyes
as they talked to me about their god.

they smiled, made small talk and
read their cherished scriptures
written by unknown authors.

soliciting their view of salvation.

it took all I had not to expose some of the
fallacies in their belief system.

it took all I had not to remind them that
being devoutly passionate in their beliefs
is not a measure of their accuracy.

but I was quiet. I let them read
and I politely took their pamphlet.
I gave them a thank you smile,
figuring nice people are better off
left alone in their fantasies.

as long as it gives them hope and meaning
in this circus of life, you know?

as they left, I shut my door,
tossed the paper into the trash
and headed out back to my patio.

I sat beside the dead ferns and the stale leaves
that had fallen from my backyard oak.

I subtly sipped my whiskey
and sucked in my version of salvation
through a cigar
and slowly exhaled it out to the gods.

and as I sat back,
trying to find my place in the book I was reading,
my mind wandered and
I caught myself recklessly
bleeding nonsensical thoughts on
fate, eternity and immortality.

damn those sweet old ladies,

they got me.