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.

glory, gone

i sniffed at the smell of glory today
it found me by surprise.
once I acknowledged it
it faded into the sky
forever away
from where i was.
i find that nothing has changed
i’m still sitting in my garage
at midnight, smoking cigars
and sipping whiskey
trying to figure out something
to write. the agony still lurks
just like desire
just like the owl
in the backyard oak
just like the chaos
i seem to adore
just like the moonlight
over the graveyard
just like tomorrow’s hangover
that’ll surely greet me
i accept it all

Reflections on Nature, Mankind and Resurrection

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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.

Mascara Stained Shirt

The circumstances that brought us together
were the same that tore us apart,
we both knew it
we realized it was temporary
but we tried to ignore it
and just live in the moment.
Time,
that brutal dictator,
had other plans for us.
The forbidden love (is there such a thing?) we shared
was perfect,
as all short term flings are.
She was crying on my shirt
that last night I was in town
face buried in my chest,
blond hair in my hands.
Fate brought us to this moment
for no other reason than coincidental decisions
made by youthful naivety,
romantic ambition,
momentous lust.
I felt her mascara tears on my chest
and didn’t want to let her go, ever.
She looked up at me and asked
why life was like this,
Why?
I didn’t have an answer,
that same aloof question
was floating around in my own mystified mind.
Her half-drunk eyes just stared at me,
she was so fucking beautiful
and yet so sad,
her face held a nature of beauty
that went beyond lust,
beyond passion.
You found a hint of glory
with a small taste
of her wine soaked lips.
Damn
I knew this was the last time
I’d taste them,
she knew too.
I walked out the door,
alone
into the noiseless snow
under the raging moonlight
enveloped by the intricate cold
naked
barren
with nothing left of me
but a mascara stain
on my brand new shirt
Damn

My 10 Laws for Posting on Facebook

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Through Facebook we have a brilliant means for spreading ideas and knowledge around. Seriously, think about it. Facebook could actually change the world if we didn’t pervert it with such trivialities and gossip nonsense. We seemed to have turned to this great thing we have into a theater of bullshit, where people can whine their little hearts out and revel in their own pretentious existence. The world is changing fast and we’re fortunate enough to be living in the most fascinating time in history. We have a way to connect with every single person across the globe anytime we want. What power.

If for an unforeseen reason I was granted full command over Facebook, these would be my 10 simple rules. Any violation would result in total expulsion from FB and you’d be forced to live the rest of your life in the shallow depths of reality–without social media. What misery.

Here are my 10 Laws for posting on Facebook:

1. If you post multiple posts a day, like five or more, at least one of them would have to be something of substance. If you’re an excessive “poster”, you’d be required to post something that just might shed a different light on the way a fellow Facebooker might see things. Maybe a great article, an insightful book you’re reading or a profound experience. Something original. Meaningless, repetitious posts about what you ate or how you’re feeling at this hour of this day would warrant you banned from Facebook for life.

2.  No more half-sentences. Write a damn full sentence so everyone who is your Facebook friend knows what you’re talking about. If it’s not meant for everyone, don’t post it.  If a bored Facebooker has to ask who or what you’re talking about, this is a no-no.  For example, “Oh, I can’t believe she did this…” or “Seriously…” or one of my favorites, “Keep talking shit…”  I understand these posts come from the attention seekers out there trying to recruit a little sympathy and curiosity from their good ole FB friends, but it makes you look tasteless and quite ill-bred. There’s more folks looking at you with disdain than their are those who’d respond to your little half-sentence games. Banned for life.

3. If every post that you write is filled with embarrassing grammatical and spelling errors—I’m going to do you a favor by preventing you from ever posting on FB again. I’m not talking about minor little mistakes that we all make; I’m talking about the obvious ones. Please run your statements or whatever you’re about to post through Microsoft Word. Read it three times before posting. Write a damn sentence that you’d be proud to show your grand-kids one day. Strive to be Hemingway every time your fingers hit the keyboard. Remember, some Facebookers only know you through the words you communicate. Make it count. If you want a Facebooker to take you seriously, write decent.

4. Being full of yourself is out. If every single day you post about how great your life is, most of us know its bullshit. If you have to flaunt your prosperity or happiness, it’s most likely because you’re hiding your discontent behind a veneer of “possessions.”  We understand that you need folks to believe that you’re happy. Some of us realize that when you’re constantly posting pics of erotic places and checking in at high-dollar joints, it’s only to paint the illusion of your prosperity. Trust me, we know. People who are truly happy are humble and don’t brag about their success or happiness. They don’t need Facebook as their “look-at-me-I’m- cool” stage. Because no one really wants to hear about how many cars you have or the pretty mansion you just bought with the income you probably don’t have. You’re banned for life.

5. If you’re going to post something political, you’d better be able to back up what you’re saying with thorough knowledge of the subject. If you post something because Rush Limbaugh or Rachel Maddow just said it, you are disqualified from having a genuine opinion. Don’t regurgitate the same bullshit peddled by some political pundit who acts like their words are gospel. People will eat you alive, at least the enlightened ones. If you get into a political debate on FB, never fall victim to the name calling and negativity that cancels out your intelligence. Let your ideas stand for themselves. Don’t be consumed by conflict. Negativity and name calling will get you booted from FB for life.

6. So-called “mirror-selfies” would buy you a first class ticket out of FB–forever. One self-picture in the mirror at the gym or anywhere for that  matter would warrant an automatic disqualification from FB. Ok, so you’re making big gains, liking the way you look, finally rockin’ a six-pack.  It’s cool. Just please have someone else take the pic of you. Don’t be the shirtless dude in the mirror with a cellphone in your hand. Oh yeah, girlies with your not so cute duck faces. Smile normal darlin’, you’re more beautiful without trying. Vanity is hilarious.

7. If you post a picture of your meal at every freakin’ sitting, you’re gone.

8. If you’re a partier and you’re pretty adamant about posting pictures of yourself partying—every night, say goodbye to FB.

9. If you air your dirty laundry on FB and actually believe that your fellow Facebookers live their lives to hear about it, you’re not only banned from Facebook but are demanded to seek a copious amount of counseling. Quit drowning Facebookers with your flood of negativity and senseless drama. Usually the people who have to showcase their feuds and self-pity are those who can only function in the cesspool of their own sewage. Life is short, live like it. As Jim Wendler so grandly put, “the only thing you have control is your attitude.  You can choose to be/associate with the gossip scum, the Facebook fucks and the petty Life Suckers that martyr their lives and jobs – ‘poor, poor ME.’Or you can choose to turn off the negative and realize that this short life deserves the best of you. Don’t waste your life surviving.”  Change your life. But if you won’t, call your Mama and complain and leave your Facebook friends out of it.

10.If you feel like motivating your fellow Facebookers with awesome quotes from dead poets, politicians or philosophers, it’s wise to have received the quote from actually reading the words of whomever you’re quoting. If you post a so-called “deep” passage from someone just because you saw it on the internet, it’s most likely wrong, out of context, or just plain made up. And if you’re going to preach motivational or behavioral sermons to your fellow Facebookers, you’d better be walking the walk yourself. Shit, try coming up with your own original advice.  Read a lot and get whatever quote you’re about to use from the source instead of someone else. Misquotes due to laziness will bring an automatic Facebook termination.

That’s it. Not so bad, right?

Sad Lady Outside the Bar & Grille

I was itching to shake the boredom out of a Wednesday afternoon, so I headed up to my local watering hole to replenish my parched soul. I sat outside the Bar & Grille, with the lone company of a middle-aged woman at the next table. She was mid-afternoon drinking, like myself, beer after beer, lonely, isolated in the crowd and looked to be quite distraught. She was a woman whose youth was unraveling and seemed to be discontent with this natural necessity. You could tell, she was trying desperately not to lose grip with that last remnant of outer beauty she held. But unfortunately, it was being slithered away by them damn ruthless years that so many folks try to defy.

The sad woman just sat there, people watching, observing and judging the emotions on the passer-by faces. She shook her head in disgust when loud music drove by with teenage kids at the wheel.  She gave subtle smiles to cute little kids walking with their parents. The woman’s deep set envious eyes looked with scorn upon the delightful, pretty women who strolled by. She stared them down as they passed, leaving only the fading sound of high-heels on sidewalks and the lingering scent of youth. Her colored black hair sat softly on her shoulders, makeup intact with lines of a struggling love life delicately protruding from her eyes. Her life has not been pleasant. She was sad.

After her fourth beer, she took her phone out of her pocket and started to play sad songs. I’m sitting about 8 feet from the despaired queen, acting like I’m still reading the JFK biography I have in my hand. But I’m highly disturbed with her solitude. Her tormented melancholy was absorbing me into her forsaken world. After one song, I hear sniffling and with my third-beer-peripheral vision, watched a black mascara tear fall down her aged, over blushed cheek. Confused on what to do, I let her be. The music became louder from her phone along with her sniffling. I started to scrutinize in my head all the possible reasons she was in this state of dismay. She looked to be a woman who might have just found her husband in bed with a young lover, or maybe even her best friend. Or due to the neglect of a passionate touch and void of any sensation from her husband in years, followed through with her exotic passions and committed the ultimate act of betrayal. She reminded me of a woman in an Edward Hopper painting, alone, with only the mystery of her misery.

The poor youth deprived lady was sitting, facing her mortality with fear of a forever desertion of love. Her loneliness was profound and her forlorn presence dissipated any courage I thought I acquired to ask if she was alright. As I paid my check and left, I was frantically hoping that this fruitless Wednesday in mid-afternoon loveliness wasn’t her last moments on this unforgiving earth. As D.H Lawrence once wrote, “We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”