Dreams From My Father

My dad came to me several times in the days following his death. Two of those visitations were in dreams.

In the first dream two hummingbirds flew into the enclosed porch where I was sitting with him, the room he spent most of his last 11 months in, recovering from chemo and radiation treatments, and when I put up my hand for them to land on, they instead hovered above it, boring their long, narrow beaks into the space between my first and second knuckles. I writhed with pain, inside, but didn’t flinch, holding still while they…sucked out nectar? Pollinated me?

As they flew off, I turned and thrust my wounded hand in his direction, imploring my dad to “help me, fix me, I’m hurt,” like I often did in real life. As a doctor, a veterinarian, he was who I turned to when sick or hurt, knowing his gift for healing. Especially of those who couldn’t explain what was the matter.

I looked at the sizeable hole the hummingbirds made – a small marble could have fit, yet there was no bleeding, and it was deep black, the darkest color I ever saw. The closer I peered, the more I realized I was looking into the abyss. Endless, boundless universe.

In the second dream, I was alone at my sister’s house and opened the door to let her cat out. Shortly afterwards, I saw a fox leaping gracefully across the yard, playful, yet intent. Entranced for a moment, I then suddenly remembered the cat was outside, nearby, and I rushed out the door, but couldn’t reach her fast enough. I helplessly watched as the fox grabbed her, sank its claws, and rendered her defenseless. She immediately relaxed, her body slumped and stopped struggling. It happened so fast. Alive one moment, surrendered the next.

That was 3 months ago. I haven’t dreamt since.

Until last night.

In this dream, my friends Tammy and Geof were showing me their grandfather’s house and the rural hamlet he lived in. I was looking to move and wanted to be someone’s roommate, and they thought we’d be a perfect match.

On our way there, I walked ahead of them into town, searching for something. Everything was intensely magnified. The green was greener than where I live now, the surrounding mountains were higher and more thickly forested. The few houses were old, and made of stone, just like the ones I coveted as a child and still hope to someday live in. No one was one the street at all, the townspeople all tucked inside. The scene was clean, orderly, pristine, natural, beautiful.

I walked into one of only two establishments and it was filled with kids – an ice cream shop. The brightness of overhead lights was strong and the hubbub overstimulating, so I left. I didn’t go into the other place – a serious, upscale restaurant, but I knew I would eventually – the twinkling lights on the windows highlighted the warm festivities inside. When I get settled in…

Then, feeling guilty I had rushed ahead without my friends, I walked briskly back down to the park, and found them relaxing with their grandfather and their son. We reunited.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After the first 2 dreams, I looked up Hummingbird and Fox in Ted Andrews’ book of animal totems, “Animal Speak, The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small.”

Hummingbirds represent tireless joy and the nectar of life. The most skilled flyer, they can change direction on a dime, fly thousands of miles – a seemingly impossible journey for a bird who needs to eat constantly, and are fiercely independent and revel in their freedom.

Foxes are a symbol of shapeshifting and camouflage, a sign of a new world growing and opening up, a beneficial creation in the works. They’re charming, and will distract you with jumping and leaping antics, until they pounce and capture their prize.

Now, a little back story about the small town and my friends’ role in it. Three years ago while visiting Tammy and Geof, who live in a small New England town, I listen while Geof shares some crazy thought he has that I might be happier moving out of NYC and to someplace like Vermont or Maine. I mostly ignore this idea at the time.

Months later, I’m invited to Maine, and suddenly remember Geof’s words. I rediscover Camden, where I once wanted to move, two decades earlier. It feels right this time. I pack up my life in the city, and here I am today, loving it.

Sooo…are T & G arbiters of my geography, and if so – is this about my inner landscape or the outer one? Is everything about to become more orderly and amped up?

How is my life shapeshifting? Am I about to capture my prize? Surrender to something?

Was one of my dad’s last gifts to empower me to live joyfully, on purpose, and suck from the nectar of life?

I figure my subconscious has been at work these months integrating the wisdom of my father and of the animals he tended, with my own beliefs, gut feelings from friends, and divine guidance. The unfolding ways of how I’ll live the rest of my life.

Contemplating Suicide? Wait.

1. In the gaping sinkhole of earlier days, kicking and screaming served no discernible purpose, it only made me sink deeper, and tired from flailing and wailing, I’d give in, spent.

(Did no one hear me? ‘Cause I was making quite a ruckus.)

I lay in bed, an anesthetic veil pulled between me and all of you normal, smiley people, and I drifted, waiting to bump up against something, anything, just to be jarred. Between numbness and despair, I preferred despair. Feeling its wretched undertow was actually molten relief.

Contemplating suicide was how I nestled with that despair, after the daily masquerade of pretending ceased. It was comforting, like the activities of childhood we revisit when under pressure: coloring, doodling, stacking blocks and knocking them down, just to see them fall.

In this secret room my fantasies of escape could gently inhale, exhale. Spaciousness dwelt in macabre scenarios. Imagining how I could die was my oxygen tank and I pulled on that tank as if……….as if my life depended on it.

And it did.

I had no control in my life. Nothing happened the way I wanted it to. Hell, I didn’t even know what I wanted, other than to stop feeling this way. Helpless and victim to everyone, to all the circumstances I was born into. All I knew were puppeteers and wardens.

And then it dawned – my first moment of light – If I had the power to kill myself, then I had the power to choose not to.

Slowly, more light crept under the door, washing across the floor and up along the bedcovers.

My mind split in two. Cleaved open. I was not just suffering anymore, I was the one witnessing the suffering.

And if one of those voices had the wherewithal to choose, even if the other one couldn’t see it, then there was still a way out. All I had to do was acknowledge it. I didn’t even have to decide. Not yet.

Just knowing an option existed was the most roof-raising, holy-fucking-shit revelation I ever had.

2. I think it’s time to start throwing parties again.

Not the sophisticated dinner party variety that I’m age appropriate for, where all the guests read the same online news reports and exchange their latest restaurant and movie reviews, and flatter each other’s weight loss, but the Sunday stew pot Bacchanalias I hosted in my twenties. Disparate groups showing up at my house wondering if they got the date wrong because while, yes…there I was, who were all these people?

Gay boys dancing, pickup-driving rednecks drinking beer, long-haired metalheads surrounded by the prettiest girls, stiff brainiacs from class, and the neighbors who weren’t sure if they were more nervous about the rowdy, muscled jocks or if they might actually be having fun amidst the cornucopia of humanity.

What I mean to say is, maybe it’s time to raise the roof again and watch the festivities commence. Remind myself of all the characters I’ve cast myself as, and all these other fabulous expressions I’ve gallivanted through the seasons with.

Who can I resurrect that will be the most playful?

The giant instigator?

The sexy flirt in leather boots?

The smarty-pants?

Damn the torpedos! Someone turn up the music, will ya? And make a beer run; it’s gonna be a late one.

3. I have a box on my desk with five passports in it. Four of them are mine and one belonged to my father, who passed in November. His was issued the year we met him (technically, he’s my stepfather); he went to Germany with his mother and sister.

It used to be that when you went to Europe, you got a stamp for each country visited, and collecting these inked pages was like those old photo albums that sat on your grandparents’ coffee table – signposts of a time and place that only exists in memory. Now that we have the EU and global connectivity and paperless paper, aren’t we playing in a unified field of dreams, where everybody’s simultaneously in costume on stage and clapping from the orchestra seats?

If we’re all collective conscious-ing and retina-scanning, how will I remember what my dad looked like in 1976?

4. Recall those T-shirts from the 80’s, the ones that said in bold letters “Frankie Says Relax” and “Choose Life?”

Yeah, those.

5. This year, I’m throwing a balls-out, come-as-you-were or who-you-want to-be party and all of you and all of me are invited. Shakespeare said so.

Do you want to join me? I think it’ll be a rollicking good time.

The choice is always yours to make.

On Distraction, Resistance, And Doing ANYTHING At All Except Writing

Note the time: 9:30am.

Bake a small loaf of Boule. Slather it with butter. Pretend to share with sister. (Here, have the last slice.)

Promise to stop eating dairy and gluten. For the third time this week.

Initiate a private twitter / Facebook group for fellow writers working on their book proposal. Silently acknowledge the smokescreen effect, while basking in self-congratulatory bliss.

Start a notebook called Accomplishments in order to feel even more productive. Replicate this list there. Use colored Sharpies for flair.

Cover desk planner with affirmations and encouragements. Read them out loud in a flowy, New Age-y kind of voice, without irony.

Burn incense. Tibetan, if possible. To light, use matchbox from Brooklyn restaurant. Feel hip, yet irked at paying $5.25 an oyster.

Pick up a pen and open notebook with book outline. Stare out window. Notice the rear tire on car is flat.

Meditate for 10 minutes to regroup.

When the muse arrives, with probing questions that spark, quickly put the pen down, walk into the living room and engage in conversation with sister. What’s her take on Karl Marx, Mitt Romney, and the plight of the proletariat?

Check the mail to see if the W2 from last summer’s gig with the schooner arrived yet. Calculate the impact that $8/hour will have on Social Security benefits. Wonder why you went to that overpriced Brooklyn restaurant?

Start making the bed for the first time since childhood.

Peruse stack of last year’s magazines with scissors and a glue stick, justifying “craft hour” by creating a visionboard. Cut out picture of Loire Valley Castle and hope someday you’ll have a remarkable story to tell, when you realize the home you’re living in IS EXACTLY THE SAME CASTLE YOU CUT OUT OF WORLD OF INTERIORS TWENTY YEARS AGO. OMG! Somebody call Oprah.

Snap the hell out of it.

Refill cup with decaf, since quitting the caffeine / sugar rollercoaster. Convince yourself that decaf tastes the same as regular and that the square of chocolate in your hand is medicinal.

Decide today would be a great day to begin that Understanding The Brain DVD course ordered after the holidays. Feel smarter for doing so, but less so once the professor starts explaining the principles of neural science. Scrunch up face at the first exercise: Why do you think saltatory conduction in myelinated axons would be faster than conduction in unmyelinated axons?

Turn off DVD and check book proposal group on Facebook for any new messages. Let guilt wash over you.

Pick up the kettlebell and do 50 kettlebell swings. Curse Tim Ferriss when your forehead and palms sweat.

Note the time: 2:15pm.

Thank Tim Ferriss for renewed energy and focus.

Sit down at computer and finally begin writing.

Reading Is Fundamental And Other 70’s PSA Riffs

People start pollution. People can stop it.

“So, what do you do?”

“I’m a writer. I’ve a collection of essays on my blog, about breaking through conventional thinking and living on my own terms.”

“Oh, cool. Are you published?”

Hmm. Didn’t I just say I’ve got a website? With words on it? Organized around a topical theme?

Isn’t this kind of programmed thinking polluting our creativity? (See: BOX, thinking outside)

Oh! You mean do I have an agent, a contract, and a book deal? Not yet, but it’s curious this leveraging game that’s going on. To get the traditional folk to take a gander, the online platform must have viral-ity. And for site cred, a NYTimes bestseller sure doesn’t suck. Good thing, that penchant for having my cake and eating it, too. Hey, I’m just doing my patriotic duty. The pursuit of happiness and all…

Conjunction, junction. What’s your function?

I’ve been practicing the best of both worlds for a long time and I’m just as comfortable on a John Deere as I am in a Jag. Lifestyle agility, if I may suggest, is a virtue to cultivate. Being nimble enough to position yourself in front of the ball gives you time for strategic visioning. Score! That we embrace the models which have informed and brought us here, along with the exciting tranformations-in-progress – didn’t Dr. Seuss say it best, “Oh! The places you’ll go!” Doors are flying open, because…

The gatekeepers are gone! The keys are in our hands, and not just mine, but yours too. Technology has gifted the tools for us to articulate our madness, er…brilliance. Innovation lies not just in the realm of the few anymore.

Think: Inspiration.

Speak: Intention

Act: Creation.

You’re published when you write. You’re an artist when you paint or sculpt or dance. You’re who you say you are. Declare it. Eyes and ears are everywhere; so is opportunity. It’s taking the best the evangelicals and Darwinists have to offer and leaving certainty behind. We create AND evolve. In muse we trust.

I live to investigate and identify what’s true. Ditch the conventions and assumptions I inherited and reframe how I see the world, and I’ll tell you, it’s not my father’s Oldsmobile. Not a Prius either. Actually, it’s still car parts and chicken wire (nod to Ani DiFranco) since I’ve cut back on the ‘master’s tools’ habit. While it’s too radical to go cold turkey, (still need the Mac, a wireless connection and the USPS) I can see a new horizon and it’s architecturally magnificent! All these fellow life hackers supplying the necessary juice to keep us revved. There’s a whole lotta lovin’ goin’ on in 2012! Look around and see many like-minded souls rejecting the limitations of the previous, and even their own, generation. Truth and passion and optimism ripe for the picking. Online and off. Never before have there been so many ways to get your voice heard, your writing read, your message disseminated.

On deck here are a slew of writing projects. Seeds of new business ideas poking up out of fertile soil. I’m on the verge, folks. And so are YOU.

So remember…

RIF. Reading is fundamental.

It’s not just writing that’s being redefined. Reading, also. Have you heard that more people are cracking the kindles, nooks, and good old-fashioned books more than ever? It’s not all black and white, anymore.

Think about your RSS newsfeed, your favorite magazine, your horoscope, yours truly. None in hardcover or even sitting on the shelf. Digital. Ethereal. Cloud-like.

We’re immersed in words, in all their old and new forms. From Facebook and twitter to whizzing billboards, daily weblogs, ingredient + nutritional stats, Ron Paul newsletters, overflowing library stacks, and those creepy pharm ads (check out the side effects – you’ll never consider popping Lipitor again).

Amidst the cacophony, there’s wisdom to widening our lens. We’re exposed like never before, and great responsibility is called for. Notice how words are used and consumed. Become more conscious of what you put in your mind – for it determines what you think. Our mind is the only place that’s truly ours to govern.

Have you ever closed a book and reveled in the story, wishing it hadn’t ended? The characters live on, in our imagination. They have staying power when expertly rendered. Sometimes even when they’re not, so isn’t it better to be as discerning with our mental appetites as we are with our New Year’s ones? It’s easier to decline entry to those freeloading poseurs than to evict them. Just as we trim the fat from our diets, we should be careful with what stories we give our mental real estate over to.

Onward from my 70’s rugrat days, I scoured whatever I got my hands on. Voracious, I was. It started with the back of cereal boxes and Nancy Drew mysteries. Then there was my vampire phase. (version 1.0, that is ~ Anne Rice). My tastes have become more discriminating, as I satisfy my word cravings with more nutritious fare.

Here’s what’s on my reading list now:

  1. Drive by Daniel Pink (masterfully documenting what we intuitively know to be true about human motivation)
  2. The latest issue of Orion with a don’t miss interview between Terry Tempest Williams + Joe DeChristopher (the auctioning activist, post-jail term)
  3. This quote: Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller
  4. Issue #5 The OCCUPIED Wall St Journal (nabbed while touring the OWS offices in NYC last week)
  5. The Flinch by Julien Smith (FREE ebook on amazon – what’s stopping you? go get it!)
  6. The “map” of my new book (in progress) – How I’m going to revolutionize the interview process for the 21st century – you’ll never hire the wrong person again. Book proposal gratitude to Danielle Laporte & Linda Siversten.
  7. A new yoga studio’s schedule (oh how I miss you, Rachel)
  8. My dad’s Christmas card, for the nth time
  9. My 2012 list of intentions, declarations, and wouldn’t-it-be-marvelous-if’s. Tinkering, still.
  10. To my nephew: Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel and Blair Lent. Because the single biggest determinant in the success of a child – across the board – is being read to.

Only you can prevent wildfires.

Together, we can start them! Change your mind, change your life.

What’s on YOUR nightstand? What do YOU do?

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.

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