Posts tagged “Self

On Poverty and Consciousness


A new acquaintance asked me why I endured relative poverty and uncertainty in California when I could easily take a tech copywriting or PR job and be living comfortably.

I answered, for which I’m sure someone reading this might wonder the same.

The answer is not simple and all has to do with my commitment to art and to the art of writing. It’s somewhat like a religious or spiritual calling; certainly as requisite of sacrifice and discipline as a monastery. (Read James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, if you need further elucidation on the subject). To become a great artist, which is what I believe I am becoming at this late stage of my life (or will at least die trying to be), takes total focus and constant dedication.

Not just to creation but to observation. Many of my best friends are not just poets and artists but scientists and mathematicians because they are processing their own observations through their own disciplines. When we talk and share words they read me and hear me, they comprehend how we’re all pursuing the same thing: the truth about life and the lives we are living.

Science and Art are really just two different vantage points in the same universe. During our Rennaisance there was no such separation between science, engineering and art. Just look at Da Vincis’s sketches if you don’t believe me. And this underlines the true failing of the formal education systems. No purely structured system can account for, much less process the unstructured data of experience.

But one truth I have learnt along this way is that we are all connected; both as a species and as sentient beings. Not just to those existing in the moment we all share but for all of us, from the very beginnings of awareness and rational self-consciousness. We are all brothers and sisters of the same mind, the same awareness that is awake and cognicent.

We all share the same biology of the mind.
I imagine that when extraterrestrial sentient life is contacted, it will be the poets and artists most open to the new who will not only best describe and communicate qualitative meanings with them but decipher their language(s) to communicate with them (more of “us”?), before the actual scientists can interpret their data and the military can rationalize the threat.

From the point of commonality; this sentience itself has a common shape or form in all of us throughout time and geography. It is our human nature.

My words try to sketch its outline.

Without needing to name a god, the Buddhists have been attempting to describe this commonality of all sentient beings, for thousands of years. In art and yes, in poetry too.
It’s what poetry is for: to describe the indescribable that is true for all of us, to all of us.

The known shining its single torch down a darkened corridor to the unknown.
The unknown (not the unknowable), has always been our mind’s final frontier.

We weren’t born yesterday. We did not just become aware of consciousness. The history of consciousness is the history of us, of the ‘you’ that is reading and comprehending these words.

You are no different in awareness than the Neanderthal who stumbled out of her cave and looked up at the stars in wonder. Every astronomer I have ever known harbors that exact same wonder. Our tools maybe bigger, faster and deadlier but our minds haven’t changed, just adapted to our tools. They’re physiologically still the same; and only enhanced by the evolution of language, both associative, symbolic and metaphoric.

This is where we alll connect. The commonality of our senses’ perception and their comprehension. This is what is meant by ‘realisation’. When we make the world real. When we realise that the truths we know from our senses connect us to the world as intimately as to each other.

These are the materials I use to create art.

But why not get a day job?
I will have to.
I have learned all I can stomach for now about the tangible reality of poverty. I have made some great and tragic friends outside my walls of privilege and comfort. But when I first detected my dwindling resources, I panicked. I borrowed gas money from friends, slept in beachside campsites for free and spent too many days in chic cafes nursing one cup of coffee and a refill just to write, just to connect with the non poverished. I. applied for every job I was qualified for and hustled my books even harder.

But this did not avert my panic and the fear, until it passed of its own. And you already knnow: nothing is ever as bad or as long as we first imagine it to be. That’s when I understood how many of my needs, weren’t needs at all and that I could live without the comforting requisites of a middle class existence, just fine. In some ways better.

Less consumption = less waste.

There’s what I want and what I can have and if I diminish my wants, I can have have everything I want.

When you don’t have any money, you don’t spend any money and that initself is a good thing.

The last argument that pursuaded me of the virtue of experiencing this lifestyle is that if I really wanted to write for wider audience in a profound and meaningful way, that I might need to understand and empathize with the truth of our human condition across the entire economic spectrum, not just those who can afford to buy books

And the truth is that the vast majority of “us”do not live a middle class lifestyle and that the majority of “us” struggle every day to earn what is called a living and yet seldom ressembles it.

I have met so many, so many poor people living on the streets in one of the wealthiest cities in the wealthiest state in the union, in the wealthiest nation in the world.
None of us can afford to rest within our illusion of justice and freedom until poverty is no longer the default state of the human condition in America. Remember, poverty is a prison from which escape is difficult. But if we truly want to say that we live in the land of the free, then we must free our citizens from the prison of poverty.

They are “us” as well. Not charitable”us”, not pitiful “us”, not lazy, drug taking, alcoholic “us”.

Just us.

I have talked in depth with enough of the so-called “homeless”. to recognize them for who they really are: The Poor. You know, those people Jesus was always talking about and Charles Dickens and Emile Zola wrote about? The idea that those without homes choose to live that way is a bigoted urban myth that need to be quashed.

Yes, may of the poor have real problems with alcohol, drugs and severe mental illness. But so does every other group and class of people I have ever known. The rich and the middle class aren’t exempt from alcohol, drugs and craziness; in fact they can afford more!

How then are we less connected as human beings?
Or is “humaness” only measured by level of income?

When I moved back to California to look after my mother, I was immediately struck by the avalanche of poverty that had engulfed my home town. As is every other foreign visitor to California, by the way. No tour of Balboa Park or visit to Sea World can eradicate the open poverty that everyone can see on the streets of San Diego. Which now more closely ressemble the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti or the extreme poverty that can be found in some places in Mexico, than any American city.

The first thing that went was the last vestage of regional or even national pride.
It is a crime against humanity for so rich a city as San Diego to maintain the level of homeless poverty that is evident to anyone who visits us. It is “our” fault. Because we are also connected to the impoverished and the socially weak.

You know, what Jesus was saying.

If I am to write the truth for those who want to read or hear the truth, then I ought to know what is lying outside the walls my middle class habits and worldview. What is it really like, not just for the impoverished but for the vast majority of Californians who also now live beyond the walls of middle class sensibilities, paycheck by paycheck?

Haunted by the memories of its long gone comforts.

What does it mean to be a human being living in America right now, in 2020. Aren’t we all supposed to have jertpacks by now?

What is the Truth of our American selves?

As Tony Morriosn said “The whole point of freedom is to free others”.

To my friends who have offered their support, I thank each one of you.
I will never forget your kindness and your humaness.


Yes I have a new book coming out in the fast approaching Spring.
It’s entitled TAKE A DEEP BREATH, A Book of Remedies and will feature much of the writing and accounts of experiences of truth that I have had living in California these last 5 years.

I hope that you will take a look.


5 Submissions of My Latest Work


 

 

Life is Always Replaceable46fc84fcf9e45dafffb0ea2b92376a36

You might have lost something or broke something
You know you can always look for it or fix it or get yourself a new one
That doesn’t crunch her popcorn in bed.
And shoots farther & quicker than you ever thought possible for a bullet from a gun.
You know, what isn’t replaceable or even predictable is this Stream of events pushing past us
Like panicking strangers in a crowd
Or even worse, engulfing us, trampling over us, nearly drowning us,
Pushing us back from whence we came.
Then leaving us choking for breath on the shore.

Being is Becoming Still220px-Oresme_Spheres_crop

Existence is a limitless screen of emptiness,

Ecstatic contemplation
And gratitude for the joy in rolling a boulder blissfully up a steep hill
Tripping over our thoughts like loosened cobblestones,
The truth is a truce we have struck with uncertainty.
After losing the desperate struggle
To cling to some kind of hope buried at the root of our own awareness.
I am fearful of fully failing myself
Although I love myself best when I am alone with eternity.
I am safest and most secure in this clarity I call awareness.
 

Insomniac Awarenessimages-10

We who are hiding in our second bedrooms,
Licking the silver from the backs of our screens,
Are living in a different time zone
Of Insomniac Awareness.
Sometimes two, sometimes three, sometimes four or more
Lives are lived and lost each night.
In our rooms, by ourselves
Sitting precariously at the edge of our beds.
This is our legacy
The lasting perpetuity of our sensory species:
The glow that contests the light that once shone from our eyes,
Right up to the surface of our understanding.
What is not yet known.
Or what was known and long since forgotten.
Dances across the screen you stare into.
Tripping over your coded memories; in Real Time.
Who are you reading this?
Do you know
What perturbs your sleep-walk into the night?
Or are you merely waiting for the screen to pull you through?
Into your own quiet world,
Where things that count never change.
And no one is dreaming you, but your mother
Who has left you now for another child.

 

The Last Halo of Hope.IMG_4798

Hope is mortal, not eternal.
Though it may feel like eternity
Sitting in a chair by the window.
Gazing up and down the path that leads
Up the hill and down to the canyon on your doorstep.
Every morning, every evening, every day.
Awaiting an answer to your prayer for your hope to be restored.
Resilience rewarded
Patience still burning brightly
Under your old photograph on the wall where you live now.
I’m not sad.
No, sadness is just a passing rain to irrigate the eyes.
Instead, I’m a new planet
Ringed by the last halo of hope
Wrapped tightly around my head.

 

Pebblesstone-soup-blog1

Thoughts are merely pebbles
Being gently washed by a passing stream.
You are the stream.
Thoughts are merely pebbles on a beach
Being gently rounded by crashing waves.
You are the waves.
Thoughts are merely pebbles in the sand.
Being gently worn away by the passing wind.
You are the wind
My words escape on.
Words are merely thoughts
Being gently read by a passing eye.
Yours are the eyes
That can read my thoughts.

Meditations on My Self


 

This morning after sitting around and paying attention to nothing for a long while, the pedestrian thought that loitered and would not keep moving down the sidewalk became a realisation.

My self, which I know is an illusion, a trick of perception, occupies too much of my time. I know this fully with my mind even if my heart still clings to safe delusions.42264995_10156899714172755_3271701164613173248_n

The easiest thoughts to dismiss are the good ones, the comforting ones. The memories of past loves long gone. My mother’s unconditional love, my sister’s devoted, admiring love. The eulogies and compliments I’ve received over time from those who have borne the patience to get to know me just a little bit beyond our facades.

The pleasure I took in surprising my friends with my true nature is easily exiled, easily erased from the Book of Illusion resting on my dusty shelf. But today I awakened to the fact that so it is of the slings and arrows my memory flings at me. The regrets, the failures, the self-loathing for being so much less than I imagine myself to be.

I have welcomed hatred like a long lost friend. When I am targeted by malice or false accusations, I somewhere believe that I am well deserving of acrimony; that deep within me is a broken porcelain doll wearing a torn, stained dress.                42280406_10156899719217755_8873110727947190272_n I have sought refuge in self-hatred, in depression, in the idle futility of it all.

After all, cynicism is just another mask worn by our own complacency.

This morning, the light shone on me and I laughed at how insidious my vanity  could be. To soak in self-loathing is as deluded as celebrating false glories. None of my past is real apart from what I insist on carrying into this present like a troublesome burden; weighing down my footsteps. Stalling the will to keep on moving,  with the current, a little further down the road. Misery, the sister of Narcissus, loves company and the good liquor I buy her. But she’s too needy and crazy and no real friend of mind.

I may feel brave wrestling with my demons but they are in truth, made of the same scattered dust as my angels.

My Buddha tells me that enlightenment lies in the transcendence of seeming dualities. The trick of mind in seeing beyond black and white  to the full spectrum and subtleties of the colors surrounding me.  I can hold my inner sense of self, both magnanimous and self-damning, one in each hand and then bring those hands together, accepting both as one simultaneous truth.
I can know myself completely, even the parts left out.

Rumi says that beyond right and wrong, beyond good and evil, lies the desert of disillusionment.

At the end of the desert there is an oasis and in the middle of the oasis is a fountain and that fountain is the source of all Life.

Do me a favour, next time you feel down about yourself, undeserving of love, miserable and useless; do not blow the feelings away but rather hold them in one hand.  Then with the other hand conjure the feelings of pride, of self-worth of glorious love. Hold each sense of yourself like a ball in each of your hands while substituting either/or with both/and.   Now bring your hands together in gratitude for the whole of who you are.

Tell me how that feels.

Write it here, just beneath these words.


Pebbles


 

 

Pebbles

Thoughts are merely pebbles
Being gently washed by a passing stream.

You are the stream.

Beach Pebbles

Thoughts are merely beach pebbles
Being gently rounded by passing waves.

IMG_3163

Pebbles

You are the waves.

Sand Pebbles

Thoughts are merely pebbles in the sand.
Being gently worn by the passing wind.

You are the wind.

Words are pebbles.

Words are merely thoughts
Being gently read by a passing eye.

You are the eyes

That can read my thoughts.

Soul1

Thoughts


Being is Becoming Still


human_soul_by_lumixdmc850-d48ee36

 

 

Existence is a limitless screen of emptiness,
Jubilant celebration
And gratitude for the joyous exhaustion in the rolling of a boulder up a steep hill.
Tripping over our thoughts like loosened cobblestones,
The truth is a truce we struck with uncertainty ages ago.

After losing our desperate struggle…
To cling to some kind of hope buried deep at the root of our own awareness
I am fearful of fully failing myself.
But I love myself best when I am alone with eternity.
Secure and supported by this very clarity.

Andrew-Ostrovsky_George-Redhawk_GIF


My Alley Cat


My Alley Cat

I didn’t get her name.
It was a hot and wet Saturday night;
So I left the screen door wide open
Hoping for a change in the weather.

37871328_10156753268077755_5708384850646401024_o.jpg

She strolled in like the queen of Sheeba riding a breeze.
Her inspection was on schedule.
She allowed me to imagine that it was my company she was after.
Earnestly engaging my eyes with her face.

Which she put close to mine and stared into my eyes.
As if she were the only soul left on earth who still loved me.
All the while she scanned the kitchen floor out of the corner of her feline eye,
I became fascinated by her calm, steady gaze.

Once having assessed my meagre, modest, means
She walked straight back out the door she had walked through.
And out of my life again.
Leaving me to gaze at the space she had deliberately left behind.

 


Blue Notes




 
imagesDepression is merely an afterthought.

A reflection on deeds that cannot be undone
But our thinking is cut off from the action.
A circuit is broken in a chain that cannot be rejoined.
images-2We are slaves to our memories
Being tortured in real (not imagined), time.
We recall everything from our own anxious center of risk

Hiding the moment we know to be true;
From ourselves, yet again.
images-1

Your Soul


 

 

So who is this Soul that you sing of?Andrew-Ostrovsky_George-Redhawk_GIF

This silent witness

Who counts the leaves off  of trees

 

Instead of gathering them?

And raking them into a funerary pile,

Into the giant pile that your better self will set afire and then fall from,

 

Or jump into.

Up to your eyeballs,

Up to your own personal crown of thorns.human_soul_by_lumixdmc850-d48ee36


“We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names, of symbols, signs, conceptions,  ideas and numbers.”  ~ Alan Watts


The Numbers Game

In the end, it was the numbers that did us in.
They lined us up into military rows
And assigned us all numbers
One after one after one after one after one….
How many, nobody knows.
You see, it’s a numbers game
It’s all the same
You’re not your name
You’re your numbers.
Let me explain how it’s done,
And how this game can never be won.images-1

See, there are good numbers and bad numbers
High numbers and sad numbers.
Sometimes high numbers are good and low numbers are bad
And sometimes low numbers are good and high numbers are sad.
It all depends on who is counting.
Not you or me
Not the numbers either.
They don’t know, they’re just numbers after all.
Although…
The numbers are counting on each other.
Just not you or me

Because we will never be free
Of Big Numbers and small numbers,
Negative numbers and imaginary numbers,
You see, it’s a numbers game.
It’s all the same
You’re not your name
You’re your numbers.
Let me explain
How it’s done.
And how this game can never be won.
downloadPrisoner number…

Credit Score number
GPA number
SAT Number
Zip code number
Blood pressure number
Heart rate number
DOB & TOD numbers
House number
Gas number
Phone number
Electricity number
Room number
Water number
Dog tags number
Social Security number
Bank account number
Table number
Sibling number
Temperature number
Flight number
License number
Vehicle registration number
Alcohol level number
Height, weight and age number

I hear you scream:
“I’m not a number, I’m a human being!!”
Sure you are,
Now take a number.
It’s for your own protection
There’s safety in numbers.

Numbers can answer all of your questions:
How far, how long, how deep, how high, how many,images-2
How often?
Just not ‘how come’?
Anyone can count,
But you can’t count on anyone.
See, it’s a numbers game
That can’t be won
It’s a numbers game
It’s just how it’s done.
It’s all the same.

You’re not your name
You’re your numbers.
Now count to ten
And start all over again.

For Rob Thompson who asked me if Numbers occupy Space.