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.

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.

Say yes to everything

“There is no escape. You can’t be a vagabond and an artist and still be a solid citizen, a wholesome, upstanding man. You want to get drunk, so you have to accept the hangover. You say yes to the sunlight and pure fantasies, so you have to say yes to the filth and the nausea. Everything is within you, gold and mud, happiness and pain, the laughter of childhood and the apprehension of death. Say yes to everything, shirk nothing. Don’t try to lie to yourself. You are not a solid citizen. You are not a Greek. You are not harmonious, or the master of yourself. You are a bird in the storm. Let it storm! Let it drive you! How much have you lied! A thousand times, even in your poems and books, you have played the harmonious man, the wise man, the happy, the enlightened man. In the same way, men attacking in war have played heroes, while their bowels twitched. My God, what a poor ape, what a fencer in the mirror man is- particularly the artist- particularly myself!”
Hermann Hesse

But there was no place to go

“The problem was you had to keep choosing between one evil or another, and no matter what you chose, they sliced a little bit more off you, until there was nothing left. At the age of 25 most people were finished. A whole god-damned nation of assholes driving automobiles, eating, having babies, doing everything in the worst way possible, like voting for the presidential candidates who reminded them most of themselves. I had no interests. I had no interest in anything. I had no idea how I was going to escape. At least the others had some taste for life. They seemed to understand something that I didn’t understand. Maybe I was lacking. It was possible. I often felt inferior. I just wanted to get away from them. But there was no place to go.”

Charles Bukowski

Reflections on Nature, Mankind and Resurrection

IMG_20140413_071150005 (1)

 

The sun is just peering over the horizon as I sit here by this serene lake. I’m alone apart from for an older gentleman in the distance walking his dog. The tired oaks stand with dignity in their silence. The palms gently quiver from a light wind off the water. It is springtime here and you can smell the Jasmine in the breeze. On this quiet morning, dew lingers on the park benches, the leaves and the old wooden dock that reaches out to eternity. All around me you can hear nature come alive. It’s in these hours that we find what we usually spend a lifetime seeking. Liveliness. Peace.

As the gray morning is broken up by the sun’s powerful rays slicing through the overcast, the Great Heron swoops down inches from the water and sores back up to pose admirably on the old dock. The Belted Kingfisher, with its energetic flight, hovers just above the lake and then dives at his prey, disrupting the silence. Hundreds of crows chirp and flutter all around, playing, singing and looking for food on the shoreline. It’s musical. The world is asleep but nature is stirring with potent vitality. With all this life awakening, one wonders how this liveliness, this beauty, this existence could possibly have a beginning or an end. It seems infinite. It is I believe.

Sitting here drinking my coffee,  I’m questioning why people treat each other so harsh. In this vast majestic world we all reside in, why do we get bogged down and overtaken by trivial dramas and futile quarrels. Sitting here at this moment you realize, at least for an instant, that yesterday and tomorrow are illusions. They are nothing. Only right now is real, this moment. And it’s amazing when you recognize this; nature helps tremendously. When you sit as an observer in nature it un-teaches all that’s been taught, all that’s been conditioned in our minds; it chips away at all the opinions we’ve accumulated over the years, mostly from other people. Knowledge is always in the past.

When alone, and you empty yourself of everything, the past doesn’t cast its shadow. Past and future have no meaning. This is where it’s at. This is the nirvana that we seek.

What I’m finding out is that we learn more about life by watching the sunrise and the birds come alive, seeing and hearing the awakening of nature around us than we can by reading any book or ancient doctrine. There is truth here and you feel it in all your senses. I believe the poet William Blake understood this when he beautifully put these words together:

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand 
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, 
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour.” 

Now the sun is dissipating the coolness of the morning. The warmth touches my face as the sun rises higher in the blue sky. The low hovering clouds that were prominent before sunrise have slowly disintegrated, giving way to a colorful morning.

I often wonder why we are all so serious. Why do we worry so much. Why do we live in a world of superficiality, walking around, fighting, bickering, and constantly at each other’s throats over the most trivial of matters. Why do we exalt in pride and our self-righteous beliefs. Why are we susceptible to the most obvious falsehoods. Why do we live most of our lives asleep and what does it mean to be awake. These are the questions hitting me this morning.

To be fully alive, like what I’m seeing this morning by the lake, means living deliberately with dignity. It means finding joy and letting it engulf you. It means, as the words of Joseph Campbell come to mind, following your bliss. It’s about being who you are and not yielding to anyone or anything. Being truly alive is entering the woods where there is no path. It’s about making your own, leaving your own unique footprints on this heavily trampled earth. It means creating things that will outlive you. This is what being alive and living with purpose is all about.

A strong scent of orange blossoms hit me as a sudden wind came off the water. I sipped my coffee in the immense stillness of the morning. An abrupt sound of flailing wings from the heron taking flight turns my head. The sky has faded into a great coalescence of color and the light haze over the lake began lifting.

I think to myself how man has broken this earth. Tribalism, nationalism and religious idealism continues to wreak havoc on this planet. My flag is better than your flag. My God is the truth and your God is not. Mine mine mine is better than yours yours yours. This infantile mentality is the cause of everything evil in this world. We fight amongst each other while politicians exult in their power over the divided many. And religious leaders, with their devious power, implant a dangerous world outlook in the hungry minds that crave false hope to continue on. They create a world of duality, causing eyes to look at the world through the narrow lenses of good and evil.

These days, individuals don’t want to make their own decisions; they need someone in power to guide them. We look to authority figures for constant guidance. We rarely ever challenge or disobey. We strut along with full compliance, even to rules and laws that ruffle our conscious. People, robbed of their essence, are incapable of thinking beyond their provincial upbringing, unable to empathize with other humans that are unlike themselves. We put more trust in the corrupt institutions around us, whether it’s the state, academia or the church, than we do our own selves and our neighbors.

Unfortunately, with this unwavering trust in institutions, we’ve elevated to power the most depraved men in society. These are the same men who’ve tricked us into supporting the bloodshed of our fellow-man under the pretense of good verse evil. We are all saddened when a child is tragically killed but seem to be unfazed when the State does it with drone strikes under the language of war. We tend to compartmentalize our morality and feelings, detaching ourselves from what’s really going on, in hopes of living guilt free in our own little world, refusing to accept our indirect responsibility for these crimes.

Mankind is not inherently evil, but if somehow we can be convinced that the prescribed evil is good, we’re sure to adopt and execute it. All of us believe that murder is evil, but if committed by one in uniform, it is praised and glorified. Stealing is wrong, but if done by politicians in the language of “for the greater good”, then it’s fine. Redefining evil through political language is how the ruling class gains control of the people, making them do what they want.

This leaves us at a place in life where living freely and harmoniously with all things is a far-reaching utopia. We’ve bought into what the great powers have wanted us to buy into—disunion and conflict. Politicians feed off of this division knowing the masses will misplace blame for the ills of society. The people in general, drunk on entertainment and ignorance, will find it difficult to uncover a cure for the spreading cancer of society because we ignore the source and only treat and complain about the symptoms. We live comfortably and securely in a world of falsehoods and hardly take the time to read and genuinely learn. Our wisdom today is gained through sound bites and headlines. We barricade ourselves behind comfy little lies and chastise those who speak truths. And with this bleak ignorance we’re incapable of seeing through the deliberate misinformation bombarded on us.

There is hope. I believe, like nature all around this morning, people are slowly coming alive. Questions are starting to be asked. Technology is making it harder and harder for these institutions to hide their atrocities. A ruling system that functions by political violence will surely implode. As soon as the majority adheres to the virtues of truth and wisdom, and reclaim the essence of individualism and freedom, change will ensue.

People now are starting to make their way to the lake shore. A photographer sets up on the dock to capture shots of the many birds. A couple walks hand in hand, taking in the beauty of the horizon over the lake. The chirps from the crows are louder and sun is now sprinkling its radiance on the water. The world is fully awake now, and I sit and watch this resurrection with complete emptiness.

Until We Go Back

we didn’t desire any one thing, but we
did have a craving for it all.
we wanted the whole world
and nothing less.
we wanted the fields and the sky
the sun and moon, the stars
and the heavens and all the hells.

we lived for the moment.
in the moment.
to the moment.

I remember it often–
stars dripping their radiance
on naked backs
and the evening breeze
carrying the music of passion
through moonlit pines.

midnight women with lipstick smiles
cigarette smoke lingering on tequila tongues
high heels held steady on rotating hips,
young eyes
perfumed back seats,
wild driving on lifeless streets.
hell yes,

yesterday and tomorrow
never materialized
in our minds,
we didn’t worry or regret
we just lived,

never tired after worn out miles
romancing on rainy nights
with mischievous smiles
seduced by 3 days of drunkenness
with Gomorrah eyes on dreamy faces

hand in hand wobbling
around cobble-stone streets
damp from tears
of winos on corners
under street lamps
sipping beers.

the horizon in the distance
was always blurred
and the cold walls of duty
did not confine us,
we were never tormented
by expectations,
we didn’t live dormant
running from temptations,

hell no, man

we were beautifully mad,
the only fruitful way
to be in a parasitical world
that feeds off of your everything.

the only way.

yes, it is all so clear

displaced we are, confused
in a land of hindrance, where every
move is determined by opinions
of empty minds.

we must go back.

break free.

don’t be blind, baby,
society is one big lie.
its got us right where
it wants us. comfortably
consumed in the mundane.

see through it darlin’,

we must break free
and go back.

or else…

this world we know
will continue
to be a dungeon…

until we go back
until we go back
until we go back