The End, er, I mean… The Beginning Is Near

Can you feel it? It’s happening – to me and seems to everyone I’m talking with lately. We’re clearing away cobwebby concepts, habits, defenses, abuses, misappropriations, faulty thinking, and old programming. Darwinian philosophy is dead, Cartesian duality isn’t serving us anymore, waste management is a misnomer, and the levees holding Top Down patriarchy from washing away are on the verge of collapse.

     I know, I know you probably scream and cry
     That your little world won’t let you go
     But who in your measly little world
     Are you trying to prove that
    You’re made out of gold and, eh, can’t be sold

     So, are you experienced?
     Have you ever been experienced?
     Well, I have

     Let me prove you…

     Trumpets and violins I can hear in distance
     I think they’re calling our names
     Maybe now you can’t hear them, but you will
     If you just take hold of my hand – Jimi Hendrix

Maybe you’re still pretending you can’t hear the distant music, but that’s because it’s being drowned out by puppets and agents of fear – both those in your head that keep the illusion on just the other side of smouldering rage, and those who are stoking that furnace, all while tweeting their exit strategies to 98,000 followers.

Chances are though, fiery anxiety aside, you can feel an emerging future; you and visionaries from Nostradamus to the ancient Mayans, from Charles Reich* to Hendrix to that sandwich board-wearing nutso down in the subway station for the last twenty years, babbling about the coming rapture. From furtive whispers to in-your-face proclamations – it’d be foolish to deny anymore that we are living, truly, through the apocalypse.

The apocalypse – how we quiver at that word. From the Greek, meaning “the lifting of the veil,” it points to revelation during a time of falsehood and misconception, not some Mad Max catastrophe. If we plot humankind’s presence along the timeline of the earth, it’s said we don’t show up until a few seconds before midnight, New Year’s Eve. Zoom in, like a microscope, and just sit and think about the past 100 or so years, a veritable blip. That’s an infinitesimally short time to wreak so much havoc and try to evolve accordingly. Yes, we’ve invented cars, airplanes, telephones, microwave ovens, laptops, remote-controlled you-name-its, as well as eradicated smallpox, raised millions out of poverty, extended lifespan, and figured out that a net can prevent malaria. But, we’ve also witnessed and participated in genocides of people, species and cultures that will never, ever be experienced again. We’ve committed acts of violence to ourselves and each other that you’d think, if I were to frame them as the workings of an alien society, unconscionably atrocious.

We’ve altered the fricking CLIMATE, fercryin’outloud.

When was the last time you saw an earthworm or an eagle? We’re so disconnected from our planet that we need devices to tell us when it’s time to eat, what the air feels like outside, and how to wake up in the morning. We think a “week” is a real measure of time.

We’re so disconnected from ourselves that it’s not until cancer kicks us in our collective ass do we start to think, oh! Maybe there’s something wrong here. And the biggest killer of children, of CHILDREN I say, is that we are starving them to death through obesity, first by our own example and then by supporting the greed-based sources of the so-called ‘food’ we pretend to decry.

Further, we’re so disconnected from each other we barely make eye contact over our smartphones, we deadbolt our families behind gates (& call it a community), and it’s all we can do to piece together broken relationships with complaints / meaningless sex / gossip as our baseline. We’re terrified of answering real questions with honesty and humility.

But there’s good news! Really, really good news, although you won’t read about it in the newspapers or hear it on the radio, because those are part of the institutions that are either crumbling or transitioning. Creative destruction is allowing for magnificent innovation, technological transformation, and radical redesign. The evidence can be seen EVERYWHERE. While the old is getting earthquake’d and tsunami’d, more are being catapulted into a new paradigm. So surrender your erroneous defenses and create the life that’s been calling you – the world needs what only you can provide. The universe is conspiring to bring us unparalleled creativity, beauty, ease, and prosperity. And it wants you in on it. So put on your party pants and grab a partner!

     Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. ~ Steve Jobs

  • Aging – Screw dying when I’m 80. I’m going to live at least another 80 years.
  • Retirement – Bullocks! Why would I want to work like a dog for a paycheck just so that I could knit or play golf when I’m “old?”
  • Cash / Money – It’s the end of fiat currency, the end of worshipping false idols. Imagine getting what you want without the treasury middleman.
  • Jobs – I don’t want one. Do you? Jobs are going the way of the Yugo. And that’s a GOOD thing.
  • Banks – Let them fail. Yes, it’ll hurt. But no more than if we don’t.
  • Stock Market – Really? You’re still in it? How about locavesting…self-investing…community investing…
  • Disease – Heal instantly. Never be sick again. Eliminate this idea of illness as inevitable.
  • Peak Oil / Dwindling Energy Supplies – Mere corporate propaganda. No such thing. Praise the sun and the wind and the deep blue sea.
  • Time Travel – Yup. Done it. And so have you.
  • God / Universe / The Great Pumpkin – Nietzsche said “Dead!” Walt Whitman said “Leaves of Grass.” I side with the humanist.

This is what I’ll be writing about in forthcoming posts. Which is to say that all I learned and thusly railed against all my life were falsehoods and misconceptions: that which didn’t ring true, but were the foundations upon which the masses built their beliefs. So look forward. Let’s start questioning EVERYTHING we think we know is real. Let me push into what you think is not possible, and allow a seed to be planted. Come explore with me – what is something you absolutely believe to be true? Now hand me that sledgehammer.

************************************

I don’t know why we always cry
This we must leave and get undone
We must engage and rearrange
And turn this planet back to one
So tell me why we got to die
And kill each other one by one
We’ve got to hug and rub-a-dub
We’ve got to dance and be in love
(But what I really wanna know is)
Are you gonna go my way? ~ Lenny Kravitz

*There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual and with culture, and it will change the political structure only as its final act. It will not require violence to succeed, and it cannot be successfully resisted by violence This is the revolution of the new generation. ~ Charles Reich, The Greening Of America, 1970.

Stepping Into The Same River Twice

Port Clyde Kayaks Full Moon PaddleWhen you find something that works, stick with it, goes conventional wisdom, but aren’t we so used to throwing out the bathwater in our quest for the latest and greatest that we end up missing what the baby might teach us?

Yeah, right. I’m the master baby-tosser.

An almost-full moon paddle last week was so transcendent that, uncharacteristically, I decide to do it again.  It’s rare for me to repeat something; I’m more of a seismic shifter. But clearly, the impetus for good fortune was announced in the I Ching reading that day – a metaphorical thunder-clap not only reflected in the coin toss, but in its riverside perch between sunset and moonrise. I knew not its full impact, and perhaps I still don’t, but the reverberations were sonic. The ‘Changing’ occurred and it was enormous, but internal. (No packing my bags for foreign shores this time.) Fortunes truly can flip with a switch, New England work ethic notwithstanding, and I’m ready to meet providence. (Well, I imagine there will be 99% perspiration on my part…)

It had been a less than desirable day, but I redeemed it by climbing inside the kayak I gifted myself a few years ago on my 40th birthday. The luxuries we afford ourselves reap far more than we realize at the time, and I’m ever grateful I treated myself to that little blue boat. For years I coveted one and after I took the plunge, my world widened. Pledging allegiance to enjoyment has made a profound impact on life; I highly recommend it. That small craft has not only altered my perspective, as sitting down low in the water can do, it has also provided opportunity to explore intimacy, balance, trust, and wonder – all while nestled in the watery bosom of Momma Nature.

Not setting out to step in the same river twice, per se, I unexpectedly arrive under the full moon again, albeit in a different body of water, the following evening, soon to don spray skirt and life vest. The bathwater was still warm…

Port Clyde Kayaks

Whenever I crave a change of scenery (as if Penobscot Bay’s world class playground pales) I tour down the St. George Peninsula, roughly following the Georges River out to Muscongus Bay. I pass through Owl’s Head, Tenant’s Harbor (never missing a meal at Cod End’s back deck…fried scallops and belly clams this time),  and round past Marshall Point Lighthouse (of Forrest Gump fame), all the way down to Port Clyde, with its Finisterre atmosphere.

Cod End Tenant's Harbor, MaineThere’s a whitewashed barn across from the harbor with an art gallery upstairs and backgammon tables downstairs that serves shrimp cocktail and bottles of Shipyard Ale for the summer folk. It’s the kind of spot where you walk in thirsty and walk out with a handful of new friends, as I did one June evening. I forsake it this time, however, and consider the clear skies and looming sunset. Maybe I’ll take a Puffin cruise on one of the tour boats…

Port Clyde pierI roam the quaint general store, rueing modern supermarkets with their massive parking lots and bad lighting. Who knew you could buy Spam, motor oil, and oysters all in one creaky floorboard shop? This alone makes me want to settle in for a spell. I ponder an ice cream cone, then see that Port Clyde Kayaks is open and wander in. Cody, the proprietor, who I learn homeschools his kids so he and his wife can winter in locales like Puerto Rico and Maui, strikes up a lazy conversation. We chat about living off-peak, on our own terms, and find commonality, laughing as we realize we grew up only 45 minutes apart…kindred Hudson Valley spirits. I take him up on his offer to brew me a cup of Hawaiian coffee, despite quitting the caffeine habit months ago. Directly imported, these beans are not to be shunned; abstinence seems downright ungracious in this context, don’t you think?

It’s exactly these kind of exchanges that sets Maine apart from anywhere else I’ve traveled: unassuming encounters that seem to have the timeless tucked into them. Completely charmed, I sign up for the night’s full moon paddle, and I’m struck, yet again, by how many people I meet whose fulfillment arrives outside of the mainstream, and wonder why we call it the main stream, when it’s the customized tailoring that counts?

Honeymooners from Northern Ontario and a suburban NY couple with three kids filter in and we gear up. Cody takes his time while explaining safety and technique while the group gets to know one another. Once we put in, we paddle west, heading towards Deep Cove, where the depth reaches 150 feet, enough for the dozens of harbor porpoises that live there. Paddling towards the westward horizon, we watch melting oranges and pinks along the skyline, like softening sherbet, then turn to see the luminescence of the moon framed in darkening lavender behind us.

Full Moon rising over Muscongus Bay, St. George Peninsula, MaineWe float amid flourescent lobster buoys while glistening fins crest a gently undulating surface.  Sounds of their breathing, of exhaling, shiver me into gratitude and I am awed by their proximity. These gorgeous creatures breach repeatedly within feet of my kayak and I am spellbound.

Psshh.           Psshh.           Psshh.

I follow with my eyes, watching intently for the next surfacing. Over and over they crest and dive. I’m riveted. And then a harbor seal playfully pokes his head up.

What a glorious evening, yet so different from the previous night’s paddle. A sudden shift has definitely taken place and I can feel gestures of fluidity both around and within.

In fact, my whole day has been a series of blessings, each one almost making me blush in embarrassment as they accumulate like moths around the porch light.  I struggled with some prioritizing the last few days, and knew the answer would only be found by seeking relief. Once I cleared the air and let go, I relaxed into spaciousness, leaving tension and dilemma behind. As soon as I chose the better path, which was to step away from a form of income that wasn’t proving beneficial anymore, a new revenue stream miraculously propositioned me within hours. When one door closes…

Port Clyde Kayaks Full Moon Paddle Muscongus Bay

As I paddle across the bay, I reflect on how my day unfolded – each time I turned a corner, a desire manifested. I lost a top of the line knife (given to me by a chef I used to work for) and I found an exact replacement that afternoon. I admired a blue t-shirt a woman was wearing last week, and Cody, for reasons unknown, decided to give me one, the same shade, right off the hanger. I finally achieved a move in yoga I’d just about given up on. And I’d been wanting to get up close to some of the islands lately, get off the coast and explore, and that’s exactly what we did, vigorously – we paddled around Caldwell and Little Caldwell Islands, billionaire-owned Teel Isle, and larger Hupper Island, where we needed a power bar break after crossing the channel  – not easy working against the tidal currents at 10pm. Was I really out on the open water at night?

I even got up close to Andrew Wyeth’s house, which I’ve pined to see since becoming a member at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland. His paintings evoke a windswept and lonesome life whose origin I wanted to understand better. Cody shared the story of the island house being pushed across the frozen bay from Caldwell Island for relocation to the mainland many years ago. After spending the past winter here, I am at no loss to imagine such a thing. I’ve felt windswept and lonesome, too.

Perhaps I’m getting closer to the life that beckons, and I don’t need to make such drastic changes anymore. Maybe I’ll just keep paddling around under the moon and see what happens. It seems to be working out well.

Port Clyde Kayaks Full Moon Paddle Muscongus Bay

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I Need A Latitude Adjustment

Alarm clocks are inhumane.  I’ve better ideas on how to be roused from dreamland, and they don’t include whirring or obnoxious bells and whistles that’re better suited to the arcade or some Monty Hall dealmaking.  Only an early morning flight to somewhere the tomatoes are luscious or the hot springs are bubbling warrants setting it.  I’ve long been perplexed why anyone would want to be jolted out of blissful slumber at all, much less for the sake of getting to a jay-oh-bee.  My body knows when it’s time to rise, even when I’ve abused it by going to bed in the starry wee hours, but I probably fell into bed with the ringing of the P*Funk All-Stars in my ears anyway.

Indeed, the body knows.  It knows when the moon’s glow is full again, when I need protein, when a 10-minute nap will revive me.  Often I can even tell time by the sun’s slant and shadow.  I guess I’m just keyed into natural cycles, and my geography: I’ve lived most of my life around the 40th parallel. But I’m wondering if this corporeal keenness is on the fritz lately.

fiddleheads It was only 6 weeks from seed to sprout – from deciding the most peaceful state in the union would harbor me for a spell to trading in my Brooklyn apartment for a four bedroom farmhouse on the midcoast – and it was there I found myself in March, unbundling from the snowiest, most glorious winter I can remember – but…something was off.  My internal guidance system’s controls were spinning and I couldn’t get my bearings.

spring lambs South Thomaston, MaineI’ve been totally kerfuffled by the Maine spring, what with global warming, the extension of Daylight Savings Time, and the fact that this was the longest transition from winter to summer ever.  At 4 weeks away from the longest day of the year, it was a balmy 48 degrees.  And today, 3 days from the solstice, I am scarf-free for the first time in 8 months.

It’s been tricky syncing up on the 44th: I cash out-of-state weather checks and they bounce.  The northeastern spring sauntered instead of sprung, and the sun rises a few degrees differently here.  Like a blindfolded child trying to pin the tail on a spring lamb, I fumbled around, grasping for signposts.

asparagus spring greenDo I pick fiddleheads, asparagus, and rhubarb or break out the sandals?  I’m used to sunny evenings happening later in the season, not in March when it’s still cold.  The cherry blossoms, forsythia and daffodils of late April are more familiar when they’re poking up through a last snow dusting and I’m not used to May nights that dip into the 30’s.  This June, I christened 2011 as the year of my Cashmere Spring.  Who knew that moving 400 miles north would result in such discombobulation?

So I pull that woolen cardigan tight and recalibrate my inner compass, scoping for environmental clues, seeking time’s relativity in the external: the groundhog who’s sniffing around the side yard, the sailors in Camden who raced to see who’d get their schooner in the harbor first, the riverside fields getting their brown winter coats burned off.

Once I equipped myself to navigate instinctually, it dawned that it’s not a monologue, it’s an intimate conversation.  That spring cleanse revealed both my body’s intelligence and its blind habits far more than what I knew existed.  I’m adjusting my interior thermostat these days, acclimating to Mother Nature’s seasonal stimuli and the ways we manipulate it to accommodate our modern busy-ness.

Now if I can only get those bustles out of my hedgerows.  (don’t be alarmed, it’s for the May Queen.)

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Another one of my change-of-season musings: Everything Is Illuminated

The Words Of The Prophets Are Written On The Subway Walls

Back in October, a few weeks after I left the cacophony of NYC to the more ambitiously inclined, Forbes Magazine ranked Maine dead last in its yearly Best States For Business survey.  Where’d they get that notion?  Are there less corporate tax breaks here, or is it the geographical remove, tucked way up in the top corner of the country?  There’s a lot of coastline, though;  shouldn’t that be good for commerce?  Or maybe it’s the sparse population;  heck, more people live below 110th St in Manhattan than in our entire state, it’s just that a three-piece here means Carhartts, flannel and a tool belt. A real DIY kinda place.  We all need income, so we’re not adverse to making a living, and there’s that New England work ethic, so sloth and idleness are not to blame.  Last, really?  Hmmm.

Maybe with a slogan like Vacationland, we sell ourselves as a place to play, not work, and stats in a survey tell whatever story you want them to. Those suits at the money magazines can spin a yarn just as well as any Down East denizen, apparently.  There’s certainly no shortage of busyness here, especially if you listen to an oldtimer when he notes, “Yah know spring’s here when folks start either diggin’ in their gahden or sandin’ down their schooner.”  If you’ve done either, you’ve no doubt the industry of the task.  The curious thing is that Mainers tell themselves a story:  that finding work is hard, that jobs aren’t easy to come by, that economic times are always tough here.  Maybe Forbes didn’t rely on statistics for their survey.  Perhaps it was a write-in campaign.

Now six months later, the Institute for Economics and Peace perches the Pine Tree State in peak position as the #1 Most Peaceful in the US.  ‘The Way Life Should Be,’ the state tagline, is cliche for a reason.  Peace.  Stillness.  Ah, yes.  Shhh.. listen.

**ribbet ** ribbet ** ribbet **

Does this mean that economic enterprise and peacefulness are at odds?  Mutually exclusive?

I’ve had a long, snowy winter to contemplate this.  My ear’s better attuned now to groundswell and scuttle.  So much gets drowned out in our technolife, but November to April in the Northeast is like being on silent retreat – aside from the chainsaws, listening to Labor Mural dramas on WERU, and Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman report on waves of change in the Middle East and waves of destruction in Japan.  It’s mostly tranquil here – a grand environment to ponder and listen.  And listen I do.

Seems the more we pare down, the richer life gets.  By reducing noise and distraction, one of my primary goals for leaving the city – (Who can write there anyway?  Well, except for Jonathan Franzen, Rick Moody, Colson Whitehead and, oh – never mind.  Focus, Kellie, focus.), I’ve gained a keen ear.  By tuning into ever-sensitized wavelengths, I’ve gained endless wisdom, all locked in a virtual Maine zip file.  I hear the messages of prophets everywhere:  in the peeping frogs in vernal pools near Lucia’s Beach,  in the profundities of seemingly mundane chats with new friends, in the warning calls of hawks, as they spy prey below, running on battened-down earth.  I hear it in my own words, even, when they’re reflected back to me;  funny, I often miss them the first time out.

But for all the halcyon moments, impatient desires rustle and poke at my new peace.  I WANT to be busy.  Isn’t activity essential this season?  My mind is fertile with ideas and wanderlust.  I want to strap on stilts, take this expanding me out for a stroll with purpose – I want my steps to cover ten times as much ground as they did before.  I want to move like a giant, calling up the wind like The Alchemist, and sweep away everything not rooted down.  The earth is shifting so wide and deep, down to its mantle, and loosening what’s on the surface.  The blasting sandstorm, the blizzard, the waves are all churning and eroding.  I, too, am shedding and recalibrating.

Indeed, Paul Simon knew.  The prophets are everywhere.  Their words ARE on the subway walls, and tenement halls, and in your mouth, and in mine.  Discerning what to believe, Ah! That’s the key!  Do I listen to Forbes, pack up my bags and head back to a Brooklyn job?  Or do I believe peace lives here, on this ground?  Or maybe, just maybe, both are mobile and malleable?

I wonder – these stories that Maine, and we, tell, are they real – are they true, or are they all talk & no listening?

The Eightfold Path Of The Super Moon

Perigee Moon March 2011

photo courtesy of Elizabeth Henkel Poisson, Rocky Coast Ramblings

We pay our rent or mortgage on the 1st of each month, contribute to the electric company’s coffers every 4 weeks, and re-up our cell phone minutes on a 30-day rotation.  This cyclical recurrence nearly resembles the orbit of the moon, and places us close to a cosmological rhythm, but isn’t there a better way for us to metronome time, one that doesn’t give ourselves over to the Gregorian calendar but instead relies on a truer beat? Why not attune directly with regular lunar movements?

Several years ago, on sage advice from a trusted astrologer, a friend and I embarked on a monthly ritual to routinely review our mutual progress along life’s meandering and convoluted spectrum, all on the night of the full moon.  Not only does this accentuate a natural order to the vicissitudes of our fortunes, but doing so is like cataloguing our journey, with a trusted and loving witness by our side.  Horizon-sighting is what we call it.

Often we’ve met for dinner, although occasionally our lifestyles necessitated meeting by phone.  We ramble on about our work, our loves and passions, our responsibilities, and our dreams, letting any and all come forth.  (Usually wine is involved; nothing pairs better with Old World pagan mysticism like a good Grüner.)  After a few hours of lubricating our imaginations, we end the night by individually naming what we see on our horizon, as far out as we can reach – a real-time report on what we know to be true, what we already believe inhabits our future.

An important distinction must be stressed to not ‘see’ something  we don’t feel to be true yet, nor call out what we would like to see, or what our fantasies might be.  No affirmations or other forms of ‘acting as if’ are invited.  This isn’t about pushing boundaries or manifesting, but about getting a clear vision of what we already know is possible, all under the regaling light of Diana, Roman goddess.

After we share what our scouts have eyed, we say private prayers of gratitude for the accompanying challenges we know will come, and the comforting guidance they’ll bring, once we surpass them.  It’s amazing when we look back at the previous month and see how far we’ve traveled, or not, and we explore the whys and why nots together.  It’s one of the most enriching activities I’ve ever done.

When I stepped outside this past Saturday, with the closest moon in a score of years, shining substantially brighter, I immediately felt a more powerful presence, and knew this was special.  It didn’t necessarily look bigger, but its light was intense, a brightness that was hard to take in.  I felt I could soar right up to it, that I could be an astronaut, that in fact everyone on Earth could become whatever they wanted to with a moon like that.  So much more seemed possible than ever before.  The night sky was transformed;  more shifted than just tectonic plates.  Indeed, I felt new paradigms crouching imminent on the collective skyline of humanity.

Back inside, I sat hundreds of miles away from my horizon-sighting friend this time and performed our ritual solo.  I clearly saw a finished play on whose research I’m just embarking.  This is a surprising new development along my writing path, for I never considered playwriting a genre within my capabilities, but there it is.  I also saw more joy and happiness than I’ve ever imagined, and although I’m not clear on the details, there WILL be dancing!  There was a simple, off-the-grid house: custom-designed, fresh and airy, filled with beautiful and generous people existing in harmony.

I don’t know how to get there, but it all awaits.

Sometimes we do shine more brightly, the closer we get to our core, and the other night dazzled, both above me and within me.  I felt bigger (and not just because I was bundled like an overgrown snowman against the cold night air.) My horizon tilted vertical, then towered.  The Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism appeared anew:  a way to be in bright relationship, not just right relationship, dwelling in and of the earthly world as I do.

  1. (B)RIGHT View ~ I am finally beginning to see things as they really are (or so I think ;))
  2. (B)RIGHT Intention ~ I am committing to the dissolution of anger, desire, and harm, and replacing them with positive, conscious intent.
  3. (B)RIGHT Speech ~ This is hard and easy.
  4. (B)RIGHT Action ~ Integrity is rooting. Walking the walk isn’t as simple as it sounds.  Maybe I should try bouncing?
  5. (B)RIGHT Livelihood ~ The selling of intoxicants is past;  the future is about effervescently expressing what is true for me.
  6. (B)RIGHT Effort ~ This takes unwavering dedication, no small task.  However, my will can be unbreakable when I choose it to be.
  7. (B)RIGHT Mindfulness ~ Not even the super moon can illuminate this mastery, currently.  Maybe I need a tea ceremony.
  8. (B)RIGHT Concentration ~ The monkeys are frolicking! The monkeys are frolicking!

As I choose to orbit farther and farther outside of convention and spin closer and closer to who I really am, I am struck by how easy it is, and how blessed I am to be able to say in all the chaos of present times, “Goodnight, Moon.”

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