Aphorisms, Invitations, and Provocations IX

It is a rare pleasure to find writers whom I enjoy reading in the way I enjoy my small cadre of “spiritual grandfathers” (Sorry Ayn Rand, but I don’t think you’d be bothered by the gender exclusive title anyway). Anyhow, I am looking forward to reading more from this author, as this entry quenched my thirst for the real, the true, and the beatiful.

– LB

P.s. If, like me, you want to read more of the author’s Aphorisims, Invitations, and Provocations, you may find the category archive for them here

Paul's Bench

241. Several times I have had the mental image of a man and woman, both of whom are overshadowed by two non-human, giant figures – like deities – who are channeling through the man and woman. The “possessed” human couple experiences a dramatic intensification of experience on a variety of levels, simultaneously. Both the man and the woman mistakenly assume that the source of all this intense, dramatic emotion and desire, fear, and insecurity arises from the human all too human level, when in fact – all along – it is coming from the impersonal, godlike creatures behind them. It is only with our acceptance and understanding of these daimonic or transpersonal “background” factors that we are able to let ourselves and others “off the hook” for words and deeds over which they frequently have little or no authorship or control.

242. Sex and Spirit: I have often suspected that the…

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Ranting on Those Bastard Collective Neurosis: Religion and Spirituality

I’m not going to lie: I have spent fifteen minutes attempting to open this entry. 

Here goes nothing world, Lawrence Black now contributes his metaphysical phislosophies to the pithy sum of all religious and spiritual thought. Godspeed, Sir Black. 

That, unfortunately, was the best I could do. It is difficult to write about your spirituality: in a sense, it is akin to explaining your very philosophy of life – like who can do that; I view both spirituality and religion to be a kind of neurotic thing best kept to oneself. 

It was Pablo Neruda who described religion as a “collective neurosis”, which I just loved, because, to me, religion is essentially a complex like any on this list. Perhaps even the most complex of all complexes; I mean, we aren’t just talking mere narccicism or incestual fantasy – to cite two common complexes – no, we are talking imaginary being in the sky who sees you masturbate.

Now, just calm the fuck down Murica – we know you love your Jesus and your Trump – I’m just saying, in my opinion, that religion shit is fucked up. 

How – I don’t know – try this: try and imagine you care about things like equality, reason, free will, and science. And if you don’t, well, then religion is perfect for you. 

Not that I don’t find moral, intellectual, and literary value in various world religions – I have a good two feet of bookcase occupied by them – they just aren’t valid philosophies of life for me; in short, the collective neurosis of religion is not my cuppa. This, however, does not mean I don’t think man has a soul, or that there isn’t more that just the physical universe;  I have, after all, smoked me some fucking DMT. 


Point being, there is definitely a spiritual aspect to my life – and by spiritual, I refer to pantheism, synchronicity, psychedelics, intuition, the unconscious, love, dreams, the imagination, mythology, and the bigger workings of my sense of destiny, which guides me; however, I try to stay as far from spirituality as possible, and by spirituality I mean that other collective neurosis that we call “New age”. 

You’ve know them: those annoying suburban-troglodytes who seem to live by the mantra of “See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil”; unless of course, the topic is GMOs or The Ego, which they, of course, themselves, do not have – on account of, you know, being so spiritual and shit. I am satirizing, but I really seriously hate these fuckers. Okay maybe not really, but I don’t like that spirituality has, in a sense, become just another religion, full of it’s own dogma, only, it’s not Jesus and God but consciousness and the divine.

Now, I realize that the entire point of spirituality is having your own experience; however, I see a lot of “spiritual people” having what seemingly amounts to the same experience. Hell, go to any Whole Foods and you’ll see many of those spiritual types practically have the same lives. 

I’m ranting; but, for me, what it boils down to, is that religion and spirituality ultimately provide limiting paradigms for my model of consciousness; for that is the only point of these things: models for life. Sure, Jesus is one – if you want to worship your Dad’s favorite son who died nailed to a cross because you are a born in sin piece of shit who wants to live in guilt before you burn forever or go to heaven, who knows. 

I’m entertaining myself, still ranting, but I have written this far because I want and deserve my own model, where I can live from my spirit and my soul without saying all is one, or even believing in an afterlife. 

I forgot who said it, but the quote goes something like, there ought to be as many religions as there are people. 

And I agree. Because if my God doesn’t exist, he should. 

What, you didn’t really think I was actually going to tell you what I believe, did you? Maybe in a part 2. 


I recognize I made a bit of a semantic argument about spirituality, without outlaying any actual ontological views, which is fine; however, I am really hoping after my next slumber, I awake inspired to map out something akin to my own spirituality – even if only as a record for myself as thirty-one years old. After all, my spiritually has evolved for as long as it has existed, and it will continue to for as long as I do. Just remember: the moment someone else has all the answers, you are the sucker. And I, for one, would rather risk manufacturing my own illusions, than to blindly follow another’s. 

Bucking The Lazy Cowboy, or How The Little Prince Usurped Peter Pan

Life would seem so easy, as if we could just say: “I want to wake up early and write everyday”, and it would happen. 

Only, there’s a fly in the ointment: we don’t always do the things we want to do; sure, we wish them to happen but things don’t happen according to wishes – things happen according to actions. That’s how life works. Call it the difference between intention and action, wish and fulfillment. 

This is why I am writing tonight: because of that difference; because there is a difference; because I am not going to wake up tomorrow and write fiction – as I wish to. 

Why? You tell me. 

Why don’t you work out? Why don’t you eat right!? You know what to do. You want to look and feel better but you eat pizza and chicken sandwiches for dinner. 

I am speaking to myself but I think it’s a fair analogy: I do what I feel rather than what I should. 

Only, I am tired of not having what I want. Tired of not feeling better. Tired of not being happier. Tired of not being Lawrence Black: builder of self, mover of mountains. 

I admit, I brood. I get into modes of self-pity. These things happen; however, I am trying to be more than my moods; I am trying to transcend them so that I may bring my dreams to life, and I need to overcome my nature in order to do that. Because me, left to my own innate nature, I am kind of a lazy cowboy; contented with the basic essentials: whiskey, women, food, fire, sleep.

Fun for a weekend, but it’s not a life to just get by / it’s not a life without progression. Because there is one kind of life I know to be amazing: and that is the life you are excited to wake up and live; the life you are thinking about when you go to bed at night because you can’t wait to wake up in the morning and live it. 

I know this feeling: I have felt it before. 

Part 2: The Little Prince Usurps Peter Pan

And this is where I fell asleep. We were watching The Little Prince on Netflix and I was tired, and the muse had run out of gas on this topic. Fortunately, however, I awoke five minutes ago – after a few hours of deep slumber – with an idea clear as day; I realized that it was no longer serving me to live without care for my responsibilities. Allow me to elaborate. 

For a long time, Peter Pan was my spirit animal. Well, in a more archetypal manner but nonetheless Peter Pan was a strong muse for this Puer. Ask my exes if this sounds familiar. 

And I love Peter Pan but I can no longer afford to let him take the wheel. I have responsibilities, and as Wretch 32 sings:

The weight of responsability’s grown on me. 

And it really has. 

I lost my Dad to cancer not many weeks ago. Now I am the man of the family. And this isn’t just some abstract idea or feeling; I am thinking about my mom’s future. Furthermore, Sarah relies on me as a provider and as a romantic lover: she believes in my dreams and she wants to live them with me. This is why we moved to the mountains: so I could write and so we could rejoice in one another’s solitude and companionship. But I can’t afford to rest on my laurels simply because I know I am destined for greatness. That is classic Peter Pan syndrome. 

Peter Pan never grows up. He refuses to. In fact, the world is introduced to Peter Pan through the work of J.M. Barrie, who titles his play: Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. 

Here is Wikipedia on Peter Pan’s personality:

Peter is an exaggerated stereotype of a boastful and careless boy. He claims greatness, even when such claims are questionable (such as congratulating himself when Wendy re-attaches his shadow). In the play and book, Peter symbolises the selfishness of childhood, and is portrayed as being forgetful and self-centred.

Peter has a nonchalant, devil-may-care attitude, and is fearlessly cocky when it comes to putting himself in danger. Barrie writes that when Peter thought he was going to die on Marooners’ Rock, he felt scared, yet he felt only one shudder. With this blithe attitude, he says, “To die will be an awfully big adventure”. In the play, the unseen and unnamed narrator ponders what might have been if Peter had stayed with Wendy, so that his cry might have become, “To live would be an awfully big adventure!”, “but he can never quite get the hang of it”.

I am painfully aware of the relevance here for my life; however, I didn’t realize how much of a shadow archetype Peter Pan has been for me, meaning how unhealthy this “spirit” has been in my life. 

Contrast Peter Pan’s laissez-faire, self-serving existence in Neverland with that of The Little Prince, who lives on the tiny asteroid planet B-612, which he maintains and cares for (Weeding the volcanos and trimming the ever growing trees), before eventually falling in love with a rose, with whom he has to deal with her vanity. Although she apologizes for her vanity and they reconcile, the petit Prince nonetheless vows to go explore the universe. 

Whereas Peter Pan never wants to leave Neverland except to recruit children from the Darling household. In fact, even when Wendy falls for him and wants a kiss, Peter simply sees her as a surrogate mom. And when, in the end of the story, Peter has a chance to be with Wendy, he declines – opting instead to stay with his Lost Boys in Neverland. In short, Peter Pan is a self-absorbed boy who refuses to grow up. 

Meanwhile, our Little Prince leaves his love (The rose) and his planet, B-612, to go learn about the universe. He is just a boy but he is intrepid and brave. And despite being a boy he sees the foolishness of the adults on each of the asteroids he visits. From Wikipedia:

The prince has since visited six other asteroids, each of which was inhabited by a single, irrational, narrow-minded adult, each meant to critique an element of society. They include: a king with no subjects; a vain man, who believes himself the most admirable person on his otherwise uninhabited planet; a drunkard who drinks to forget the shame of being a drunkard; a businessman who is blind to the beauty of the stars and instead endlessly counts them in order to “own” them all (critiquing materialism); a lamplighter who wastes his life blindly follows orders and extinguishing and relighting a lamp once a minute; and an elderly geographer. Like the others, the geographer is closed-minded, providing a caricurature of specialization in the modern world.

Our Little Prince is learning about the world. And unlike Peter Pan, he forms real, meaningful relationships with the people he encounters: loving the rose, taming the fox, and teaching the narrator about life. 

While Peter Pan teaches us to remain adolescents and hold onto our childhood, The Little Prince teaches us about growing up and letting go. And this is what life requires: maturity. 

The truth is, it is not serving me or my dreams any longer to be Peter Pan. There was a time when the Peter Pan spirit kept me going, when it made me daring and brave, enabling me to walk away from my own Wendys so that I might follow that inner voice telling me that I wasn’t home yet. But now I am, and this lazy cowboy is ready to become a little prince. No more living in Neverland. I’ve got a universe to explore. 

So what’s the meaning of all this inner alchemy? What is the outcome of these paradigm shifts?

Well, I’ve got responsibilities to tend to. Work, writing, health, love. 

And I can no longer afford to ignore them, I can no longer remain a boy. 

And so it is, I will invoke the bravery of The Little Prince, and I will face life with faith in myself and trust in my journey, much like Peter Pan gave me faith in myself as a boy; only, I need different heroes as a man: heroes capable of inspiring me to take action rather than simply dream. 

Note: here are a couple good follow ups for anyone interested in the Puer (the eternal boy) and The Little Prince:

Two Psychoanalytical Readings of The Little Prince:


The Problem of The Puer Aeternus, Marie Loius Von Franz:


Ode to Imagination 

It’s funny: I have learned a lot from life. And my life is good. Damn good. Just finished watching a movie I quite liked. Stayed up all night. Stoned. 

My third eye, however, is open. I am clear. Isn’t that a Scientology thing. Going clear. Anyhow, I can see the future with a deep level of clarity. And that’s what I think separates the people who do things, the originals, from the mediocre mass of clones: the imagination. 

Once, while rolling on mescaline in the back of this girl’s car, I turned to her (My pseudo girlfriend at the time) and said, imagination is everything.  

The following day I went on google and found the following:

Surely, I had come across the quote before but I felt the realization profound nonetheless. 

Having found a bunch of other great quotes on imagination, I figured I would leave them here, as a kind of ode – a token of my gratitude for my own. Lord knows how far it has taken me, but I’ve still a way to go. 


I once knew a girl who hated realtors: today she is one and a fledging real housewife. And I, hippie-headed and a mile up in he mountains, am writing stories to change the trajectory of my life – to finish what I started, what I began dreaming years ago. 

Point being: the quality of your imagination determines the quality of your life. So dream big and never settle for less than what you can be. 

Post Mortem

I have been meaning to write this, just a little something, my dad having passed away last month.

It’s a quiet September Sunday, and I finally went through the notes I made the morning he passed, when, having seen the text to call my sister back, I knew he was gone.

The return call was short, and the words: Dad passed away this morning hit like a canon blast.

All I could do was go into my study, close the door, and cry out “goddamnit”.

Over and over.

Then I opened the first of at least four Miller Lites that morning, and I began to write – frantically, passionately, and madly; for I had lost my Dad.

Frankly, I am not sure I can give away my feelings about what essentially amounts to the culmination of my childhood, but I want to share what I can.

Because this is the place where I can upload my deepest ruminations, the place where I commit to ideas, and the place where I am become definite.

So, I’ll share some of what my Dad dying meant to me:

It was the first time in my life I had worn a thousand yard stare and felt the light of my soul snuffed out by the darkness of death. And in this shock, I learned the cost of loss, the price of missed opportunity, and the sting of regret.

It meant that everything he ever gave me arrived at once, in light of his absence, and for the first time, I understood all the inadvertent and intentional lessons he had gifted me.

I learned life is to goddamn short for foolish pride and vanity.

I felt that I was finally faced with the task of distilling my upbringing into something meaningful, because it was over.

I looked back and asked myself what was more important than family? And I knew that the answer was nothing.

And I knew that I could finally know him. Now that he was gone: I no longer had the feelings that before were a barrier to that.

And I knew that no one was ever going to fuck with me ever again.

In closing, I wrote the following:

Life goes on. It has to. But it has to be different – or else nothing is learned.

That morning, I committed in the depths of my soul to my Dad’s death meaning something – I committed to honoring him, and I thought about what he would want for me.

My dad loved me, and he wanted me to be happy. And I fucking miss him.

But I’m learning:

Life is short.
You will die.

What’s in between is solely up to you:

Don’t waste life in negative feeling.
Don’t pity yourself.
Don’t waste your own time.

Be brave.
Love fully.

Release guilt. Release regret. Release fear.
Trust yourself. Trust the universe.

Be happy.
Be free.

Never give up.
Go up to bat. Again.

Blind Spots

Biases, weaknesses, complexes, assumptions – things that cloud our objectivity – we all have our shortsightedness. 

Unfortunately, we typically do not recognize blind spots until they become clear: in hindsight, where we can see them – often for the first time. 

The cause of our blind spots are as varied as human folly, and as vast as the fallacies we are capable of engendering. 

In short, blind spots are a part of life, they will fuck your shit up, and you will be blind-sided time and again by things you do not see, things you fail to understand: relationships, businesses, friendships. In life, the plane will crash into the mountain. 

But we have to keep trying. The day we give up, our shadow has won and we have placed our dreams on ice. 

There will be blind spots. This, I recognize. What I want to do, however, is succeed in spite of them. Is this not how life is lived: via hypothesis – our beliefs and theories – the working models we apply to avoid blind spots. 

It’s nothing less than a great irony, that the successful working model is often the very product of the numerous pitfalls and blind spots a person had to ultimately encounter in order to succeed. 

In the words of Steve Jobs: you can only connect the dots looking backward

To close, I’m trusting life. That it will carry me further and care for me, as it has. But I am also hoping to hit the moon. And I’m trusting that my blind spots have prepared me. 

The Suck: Choice is Yours

Melancholy days. I still have them; usually they happen when life doesn’t live up to my expectations. 

There is, of course, the adage that, happiness is reality minus expectations. It follows then, that we are, for the most part, responsible for our own happiness or sadness; however, I find value in all emotional states: the sour is a valuable part of life. 

Some days pain is going to visit you, and you will look in the mirror and know that you are better than this. Now, whatever this is, it’s what your life happens to be at the present moment.

Does that mean there is no changing it? No. You can change it, but you’re going to need to be honest with yourself about what needs to be changed and what is going to be required of you. 

What do you want? Remind yourself. Never forget; even if those expectations cast a thunderstorm above life as it stands today. You musn’t scale down your expectations because they aren’t met. That’s resignation. 

I think the path to mediocrity is an easy one: it’s the path most are on. They resign themselves to life as it is. I, on the other hand, would rather have days like this, knowing that they are reminders of what I want, what I deserve, and what I am capable of creating. 

As John Mayer sings on The Heart of Life, “Fear is a friend who’s misunderstood”. So too is sadness, melancholy, and pain. These things are the feedback system within us, designed to let us know that shit sucks. 

Because sometimes – contrary to what your Facebook feed might lead you to believe – life can suck – and that’s okay, not just normal, but healthy. For without days like this, how are we ever to grow, to evolve. We need days like this. In fact, I would argue that without days like this, we aren’t living full and honest lives. 

Sure, I have a lot to be grateful for. I am neither disputing nor forgetting that. Fact is, anyone who has been through what I have gone through does not forget to count their blessings. I am a fortunate fellow. I’ve got youth, health, passion, intellect, and a wellspring of potential, which I am fully aware of. It’s just X, Y, and Z – the flies in the ointment – that really upset me. 

So I have two choices: I can let the suck cripple me, essentially relegating me to my bed as the suck tends to do – or, I can make a plan to change the suck.

Life is a game of potentials but it is won by wills. You cannot allow the suck to break your will or to weaken your resolve. It has to fuel it, it has to embolden your cause, serving to act as nature’s reminder that life can be more than this. So put pen to paper as I am today. Make a plan to change X, Y, and Z. It’s either that or you accept it. The choice is all yours but the suck is here regardless. It’s what you do with it, what meaning you allow it, and how it changes you. So use it. Let it push you forward. Let it spur you to change what you can, which is either the cause of the suck, your beliefs about the suck, or how the suck makes you feel. Chances are, however, that the latter element is futile: it sucks. There is no changing that. That’s what the suck is. But it’s not all it is. The suck presents an invaluable opportunity to change your circumstances, to refuse to accept what is, and to grow and evolve. 

As Henry Ford said, “Most people miss opportunity because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”. 

That’s kind of what the suck is like. But, if we can look past it and we can see things honestly for what they are, we might just be looking at the chance we have been waiting for, which we ought to be grateful fortune has bestowed upon us. 

So no, I won’t embrace the suck – but I will welcome it as an opportunity, seeing pain as a messenger, and I will turn adversity to my advantage. This is how the hero plays the game. As I always say, you are either the hero of your story or the victim. Choice is yours. 

Thoughts on The Journey: Beginning Again

I cannot tell you how long a journey it has been; I thought I was on the right path in love and life, time and again, only to watch each little plan, hope, and dream die – positively disintegrating me into the billion little bits that lie here tonight, beginning again. 

I heard something once about honoring your story, about how, when you do that, it elevates you to the level of authentic and honors everyone else’s story in the process. I suppose that’s what I am doing tonight. Because I haven’t give up. 

It was Steve Jobs who said, you can only connect the dots looking backwards

I have done my best to do so; picking up the pearl of great price from every abyss and stringing each onto the thread of my own destiny in an attempt to make sense of an otherwise senseless world – for the world devoid of my story is a world without meaning. 

When I was seventeen, I got the letters N.G.U tattooed on my right forearm. They stand for Never Give Up. Today, at thirty-one, never giving up means not giving up my story, not forgetting; remembering who I am, what I want, and why I am here. 

I am Lawrence Black, and I desire to own my time, to have abundance and security, and to become the person I already am: the writer, the lover – the boy who only wanted to feel okay, but now I want more. Because why limit myself to being a cog in someone else’s machine. Why kill myself with 15 hour and 20 hour days to please people who would just as soon replace me. 

So I’m taking a bet again, shifting my plans professionally, and casting my pearls into the sea – allowing them to fall where they may. This, of course, means letting people down; for there are two people you must let down: yourself or others; try to please others and you will invariably let yourself down – but, swallow the bitter pill of letting the right people down, as the dictates of your soul command, and you earn the right to look in the mirror and say: I live for me; I am the hero of my story, the victim of none but me. My excuses my own, mine to take responsibility for. 

For me. For Sarah. And for the future we are building. Because, as I once heard, you can also fail at what you don’t want. So, I’ll deploy my resources accordingly – adjusting my plans as I always have – betting on what I think best. Sure, I’ve lost, made mistakes, ended up flat on my ass, but I am not there now. I am here; my course to date having taken me this far. What’s next, well, I am looking forward to seeing. 

Welcome to The Woods

Four weeks and two days ago, I left the city that never loved me; for I had to leave: I had to fall deeper, further into love – and closer to a pattern of life befitting a serious writer. 

Sarah, life partner and best friend she is, naturally loved the idea of living in the woods for a year with me. It was, after all, our idea. 

But it wasn’t our first idea; we were planning to move to LA – only fate would have it otherwise, and our plans would change just a week before we were slated to take up residence in a cheap AirBNB in LA for two weeks (Giving us enough time to find a permanent residence).

It was a solid plan, but it just didn’t feel right. 

So, sitting in bed together, as we are now, Sarah doing her thing, me mine, we began to discuss the idea of somewhere not LA. 

Price was a big factor. Frankly, we wanted a home. 

A day or two before, I had looked on Craigslist at homes in a handful of rural Midwest cities. The prices made me swoon; however – besides the fact I had already done the Midwest – I knew it wasn’t in the cards. Call it inner voice. As I said to Sarah last night, all my biggest mistakes have been the result of listening to other people. Today, I listen to me. Fuck you. 

So we zoomed out on google maps in bed that evening: looking first in South LA, then east toward Nevada, then north to the Oregon border, until finally – after the longest thirty minutes of our life – we landed on a small Califonia mountain town, and then something magical happened: we got excited. 

Why? I don’t know. It was just the right place. Something inside us felt calm. Just the way it feels to be here this evening, looking out our bedroom across the deck and onto the National Forest. 

We came here from a small apartment where we had barely managed to stay together through the newness of our relationship. We truthfully were barely sure of what we were doing. 

But we did it. 

We drove up on a Friday to see the place, returning directly to pack our entire apartment on the following Saturday, and then, four Sundays ago, we towed our car behind a uhaul up here, which was an adventure in itself. 

We blew a tire. We had to stop to load a double stainless fridge into the uhaul in 110 degree heat, and we had barely slept for two days. 

Our relationship was road tested on the trip up. Lord knows it had been battle tested in the city where we met. In that tiny apartment. Those fucked up people. That city. San-dago: you fucking overhyped transplant filled millennial shithole. 

Needless to say, we are happier here. Much. 

Sarah quit her job. I got my writing room. And we both get to call the first true house we have ever lived in together, home.  

It has been an incredible experience these four weeks, full of stories I will be sharing soon in the form of a collection of non-fiction episodes published here. 

This weekend we will be hosting the first of a series of guests scheduled to visit us, and we look forward to firing up the BBQ, looking up at the stars, and thinking back on the darkest nights. Nights when moving to the woods to write novels was only a dream. Nights when we had nothing but each other and a dream. 

And LA, it will still be there. Waiting for me to arrive. Waiting for my stories. Waiting on the day when we take up part time residence – our cabin here waiting for us. Because we live in the woods now. Because this is home.