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Journal: A Beast of Burden

I’m trying to stay conscious of myself, aware of my disposition and how it shapes my world. Today I found myself wanting to mutter the F word a lot. I was faced with an unexpected and altogether unnecessary workload due to a vendor I work with enforcing a new policy. In short, I spent about twelve hours using a Command Line Interface – mindless yet taxing work.

I take my life seriously today, and my time is precious. Not only as a commodity for me to invest toward my goals, but as a commodity by which I care for my soul. I don’t think humans were meant to stare into screens all day, pressing buttons in exact combinations. And as computing power becomes more omnipotent and artificial intelligence becomes a pliable asset, I expect much of the work we do today will be automated within the next three decades. That being said, I certainly don’t intend to spend my time filling in the gap, but, alas, there are means to ends; however, I believe human endeavors should profit the Soul and as such, it pained me to spend the day doing something with no benefit, tangible or otherwise.

The redeeming quality, however, being that I get to decide my own perspective and opinions on an otherwise meaningless and pithy matter. Because of this freedom I exercise – my own conscious will – I am reaping a reward of my own choosing.

The reward being that I am using this experience to learn key lessons for my future:

1. I need to remain true to my Stoic self and recognize that being ruffled by something outside of my own control is little more than foolish masochism; human folly. I must guard myself against this error in my ways.

2. As CEO of my business and my life, I need to prepare for such matters as I might and delegate them to someone who would appreciate the work – or at least the income.

3. I must contrive to find joy in all I do, remaining mindful of the fact that this is all temporary. And it’s not only my present station in life that is temporary, but life itself. Might I have profited my soul more by listening to Bethoven and getting into flow as I worked.

4. Most days do not present such obstacles and I typically have complete ownership and control of my time. I need to remember this and be grateful whenever obstacles do not arise.

Amor fati. Love your fate. As Marcus wrote: “For what could be more suited for you than that which is fated for you.”

Ah, what a silly beast of burden I was today.

The sun’ll come up tomorrow, you can be your bottom dollar that tomorrow…

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Journal: Green Pastures, and The Storybook

Below, at the bottom of this entry, is an entry I began writing before publishing, Past Reconciled: Future Reclaimed; however, it overlaps much of its predecessor in substance and feeling, and thus can be considered an accompaniment to the aforementioned.

Just in the five minutes I spent finishing the entry that follows, which we may call The Storybook, I felt the burden of shifting into too low a gear, having resolved and decided it’s time I look to the future and having lived today a bit lighter than the last now that I have reached this turning point from which I go forth – vowing not to turn back. Yes, I have ruminated on the past and chewed my cud in full. To do so further would make me sick, it would be to beat a dead horse. But I wouldn’t even beat a live horse.

I laugh, I feel light.

Today was a good day and every day is and has been for a long time. Long enough to remember everything but certainly not too long that I forget the time, not so long ago, when my past was an affliction. Bah! Past be done. Gone but not forgotten, yet not so close at hand by necessity that I need not remember it. Cud chewed. Nutrients gained. Soil fertile. Green pastures now call.

I guess I am a bit in shock though. My grace and good fortune stuns me. Even tonight a blessing found me as I spoke with a friend over coffee (this friend I unexpectedly ran into), and a gentleman, overhearing our conversation and a brief summary of my work, thereupon engaged me to meet with him this coming Thursday. Fortuitous indeed.

And now, preparing to rise from the sandy spot where I sit, I close my Sunday. I go home to a book and a cup of tea. Ha-ha. How nice my life.

I thus leave this entry below and release what has been, holding onto what has made me.

It will be a great week on the green pastures I now call home.

The Storybook

Note: I personally feel this entry is shit as far as writing quality goes, and for a variety of reasons it was difficult to write, but the beauty of editing your own blog is that you needn’t hem the rough edges of your work. For in this case, although the edges be rough and the sentences thick and obtuse, there is meaning enough (to me) to preserve it’s asymmetrical form. Not everything I write is going to flow but some rivers need to run, rough as they may be.  And maybe, these rivers need to run most.

Thirty years, and a storybook at that – of course no storybook being without its forests – so it is, I have met my fears and my hopes they did assail, but alas; like Jonah’s, my hopes did prevail.

I’ve been in love twice and my heart is still full of life enough to be charmed by Cupid’s arrow a third time, G-d willing.

This confidence I have in my heart is part of what carries me on; and this despite two major breakups: most recent (Eleven short months ago) with a girl I spent a thousand nights next to, and previous to that with a girl I shared many more but no less with.

Twice those nights ended and twice I was heartsick.

I spent a long time disappointed, a long time digging myself deeper and deeper, trying in vain to discover what lie under the sad thing. I, of course, never found it (The search itself being the sad thing), and my sorrow could have carried me all the way to the grave, there being no end to the sorrows of an angry heart.

And so it is: disappointment, adding to the weight of age as it does, often becomes a great ballast, pulling our hopes and dreams beneath the deepening sea of a reality we once floated upon – before the wrecks, before the storms, before we lost faith in what once propelled us.

And then, lacking fuel and muse for our dreams, we sink to the bottom of ourselves. And in the dark night of the soul we face one of life’s most important questions. But for many it’s a foregone conclusion: their heart can’t carry them on. So they cast off the weight of their dreams; their hopes sullied and soaked with disappointment, they blindly cleave at the withered branches of their hearts.

Thus the weary gardener, stuck by the thorns, prunes the roses in winter. And robbed of its promises, the light in his heart loses it’s muse and everything’s dimm’d forever.

And so it is, yearning for Sixpence he never sees the moon, and missing January he loses June.

This being sadly so, some, having shed their dreams, never surface from the dark night of the soul – and the question is answered without ever being considered.

The question, of course, being whether we might find something bigger, better, more exciting, more magical than the magic of the past that animated us and brought us to life. But when up goes down and pleasure becomes pain, we hold onto what ails us and in doing so we quit our grip from our dreams and we lost the buoyant optimism they gave us.

As Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

This is our problem. It’s this failure to move beyond the past and evolve our reasons for living and getting up in the morning that brings on the ten years winter so many spend their thirties in.

So, you’ve lost your why. Welcome to the layer cake son.

Time to venture deeper, further, closer. Time to birth new dreams.

For the things that put life in your heart may die off – you musn’t die with them. But many do. Their glory of many lives stuck in a gone season; long after their dreams die, they live dead, killed off by the ghost of a reason no longer capable of animating them. As Ben Franklin wrote, “Some people die at twenty five and aren’t buried till seventy-five.”

Just as nature fixes biology at a certain point and we can no longer bear children, human nature and time compounded fixes our psychology so that beyond thirty few again birth dreams. This death of our ability to dream follows the death of our dreams. The dream of Love. The dream of success. The dream of happiness. These dreams are our myths. And as soon as they no longer ring true we either become enslaved to them or we lose faith entirely.

I’ve been there, the prisoner of dead dreams, but I’m back from the dead. And dead was I a very long time.

Many years ago love came along and it was more bright and beautiful and intoxicating than I had ever imagined a comfort could be. And I called love Daniella. So funny now seeing her name. Today it means no more to me than the name of G-d to an atheist. But back then, and for many years after, it meant love, and that love meant happiness.

This is the last time, save an autobiography one day, I will ever think of her as love. For when her love turned to ash Love did too. But that taste, the ashes of Love, stayed in my mouth for many years.

Even when fate delivered me a girl who was capable of being so much more to me, I held onto the old myth of Love and I made this other Goddess of Love a martyr and a bastard of my dead myth. Today I can see how cruelly and utterly wrong I was. Beyond stealing our joy, living a dead myth almost killed me, in many ways – and in many ways I was dead.

For if we don’t posess a living myth, the dead myth will ways posess us. And never before have these words rang truer:

“Until we make the unconscious conscious, it will direct our life and we will call it fate.” – C.G. Jung

For what is a dead myth but a myth we have repressed and buried. The pain of living a dead myth, however, always finds its way to the surface. And until a new myth takes its place, we live the dead one.

For, if Daniella was love then how could Shannon ever be? If Daniella was happiness – how could I ever be anything but unhappy. I could not. I was miserable inside. And all that repressed misery made itself visible and palpable in a thousand-and-one-ways.

We must cultivate our garden. And our garden is the place where our myths we live. Our soul. This is the soil and the shaping force of our life story.

I no longer have to question the pain I went through, the pain and sorrows of a full life. For the man who questions his suffering has yet to find its worth in his myths.

And when he does find it, his pearl of great price, he returns to himself a great and wide piece of what he lost. For while no grown man has a tabula rasa, few do have a pure, unspoiled heart. This brightness of the soul, so often embodied in the youth – who carry it unknowingly – is recognized chiefly by those who in the hindsight of age can see what they once held.

This brightness – if revived and maintained – will be your greatest asset, allowing you to mature without the weight of aging and to live without the pain of dying. To do this, you need birth new dreams to replace the dead, lest they kill you. And in this, you will be be reborn.

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Past Reconciled: Future Remedied

For a very long time I lived by the banal platitude that if you were depressed, you were living in the past; if you were anxious, you were living in the future; and if you were at peace, you were living in the present.

The mindfulness of conscious awareness and gratitude aside; I have learned: the past needs examining if you are to free yourself from it; if you want to forge a new dawn you must bring to light the unconscious myths and metaphors by which you blotted out the sun. The man who ignores his past risks being ruled by it and the man who loathes it, most surely is.

To quote Jung for the billionth and not final time: Until we make the unconscious conscious, it will direct our life and we will call it fate.

And where else does the unconscious lie but in the seeds of the past by which it was formed.

Through this alchemy of the past we turn suffering to freedom, and by the light emitted from unconscious wounds we see clearly and we become conscious.

I have used a lot of my time these past six months to reflect and look back on my past. And wisely was it spent, for I certainly would not have the clarity and peace I do had I used it otherwise.

Prior to the time spent in reflection, I looked inward, which, for all its inherent dangers, offers its own good: allowing you to search the dark for the God within.

I would compare this inward self-examination and exploration to a kind of diagnoses of one’s wounds, which, before being exposed, so long went ignored, only their symptoms surfacing. And so it is, the wound comes to light and it is ugly and painful.

And then, the wound being located and examined, we turn back to the past and after a personal archeology of its wrecks, we find there the evidence we so long ignored of the crimes we ourselves often committed against ourselves. Here, in the past, we slowly piece together how it all happened; we come to find out why we have done what we have done and why we felt the way we felt to make us do the things we did – the doing and the feeling connected and either through denial or self-deception made completely unconscious to us at the time. And finally, after putting it all together in the hours and months spent in silent rumination, we see ourselves not as victim, but culprit. Our guilt in the excuses, which – if we have been honest with ourselves – are no longer valid.

Thus, we heal in owning our bullshit and claiming our baggage; we take back the same raw material that once burdened us and it becomes the foundation for personal growth and the responsibility that entails. What once owned is now ours. Thus we begin anew, our relationship with ourselves made healthy by virtue of the newfound grace dug up from the graves of our past.

These proceeding ten paragraphs summing up the past six months in which I, in repair, set my heart right.

Today, June 27th, 2015, in my new relationship with myself, ghosts and all, I can now look to the future, a future I have been so diligently working toward, being cautious not to live in it before its time.

As I read in a book, which name I cannot recall, learn from the past, live in the present, and plan for the future.

[Edit: the book is called The Present]

By this maxim I have come to arrive at a time when the future of my design is soon arriving.

Twenty six days and I will again take up residence in LA, whole, as I never was before, with surety, security, confidence, and the Grace by whence it all came.

And so, being learned of my past, I go forward knowing I must think different; whereas in the past I would have exceeded my means and lived to impress others; I live now seeking to impress my soul before a G-d that has given me an opportunity to show Him, to show myself, that I am worthy of all I desire and capable of bearing the crown I aspire. It was under the Emperor Rome burned just as it was by my hand I fell, and by my hands I shall and do rise.

“What kind of life do you desire?”

The words of Alan Watts echo in my mind, their weight clear to me now, their meaning full. And in my own power as a Man, I can now answer this question with a straight face and an upright spine.

With great power comes great responsibility: this is the human condition; the power to build a legacy and the power to lay waste to one. For me the latter is done and the former resumes – but not where I left off, for the past now complete; the future is finally up to me.

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Bubba Grew Up, Amen.

I’ve been working on another entry lately, spending the past few nights near the water, before bed, turning over big deep metaphors, trying to communicate the wisdom of hindsight, having made it out of the deep Dark Night of The Soul. But really, I’ve just gotta say:

Amen.

I breathe now to center myself. Big, deep, slow breaths. Wow. I am in awe.

I made it out of something I never thought I would. And there’s no asking why we suffer now; I have never been more free and light in all my life. 

Before, I had my cake – but now anything of the sort would merely be the icing. My world has become so much bigger now that I’ve found peace and happiness in myself. In this new lease on life I can eat my cake and have it too.

I am man: world unto himself. I’ve no girlfriend, no kids, not even a crush. I am completely free and following my dreams. I guess this is the tale of a recovered co-dependent, but I’ve found more than independence; I’ve found my identity; to quote J.K. Rowling, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” And at thirty I’ve finally forged a solid identity, founded upon my own rock bottom. I now have complete security in myself, complete confidence and faith in who I am.

I no longer live under the shadow of my own self-destruction as I did for so many years. I guess you could say I’ve made friends with my own worst enemy. I’m now a conscious parent to my own inner child, and he trusts me, secure in the knowledge that I will never again look for someone else to love him for no one can ever love him like I do.

I’ve had to come to terms with myself in order to be whole enough to love him. And he’s had to grow up too.

Yes, there are monsters in the closet bubba; and I their master, and they are healing too. It’s you and I and the ghosts – friendly as Casper now that I’ve accepted the depravity in them.

The launch codes are finally out of reach, safely left in the past, where they belong. And I Thank the Gods every single day for this Grace, making sure the spirit satisfies what the flesh never could.

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Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May

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Once, while on a certain psychedelic substance (Ambiguous writer is ambiguous), I laid back onto the chaise in my living room and something told me that: I was in the safety of my late twenties. I’m not sure whether it was a prescient notion or an intention; as John Mayer sings: “I am an architect of days that haven’t happened yet.”

Last night I felt something else in my bones: I felt a voice telling me that another love was coming. And in midst of the awe I felt in light of this foretelling, I felt the voice tell me that I had made it through the worst; that I had graduated and grown and that I was going to be okay, I was going to make it.

Then I went to bed and woke up like a thunderbolt at 3:12 am: How quickly a life passes; we are here and we are gone in the blink of an eye, the voice told me. Then suddenly I felt very sleepy again, but I knew I had to get up; I knew I had to ruminate on this, for I knew it was a significant moment in my life, a threshold through which there was no going back to the before.

How quickly a life passes; we are here and we are gone in the blink of an eye.

And yet, we think we can’t do certain things. Bullshit. We must! We have only so many days and just as I woke up thirty, I will wake up sixty. Just as my parents have. And one day, I will be dead; I will die, just as my parent’s parents have.

On a day not unlike any other, I will die. And if I don’t birth them, my dreams will go with me. But alas, while I am here, I have an opportunity to live a life. And this is it. This is life. Today. Tonight. From the cradle to the grave, we live every day of our lives. So what is someday, it’s never. It is now or never. What do you dream of being?

I dream of being a famous writer, famous for the impact I have on the hearts and minds of those who may benefit from the dreams I pursue. And one day – not someday – I will also be a professor. Lit Prof Black.

Lawrence Black, writer. A man of the word, and of his he was. 1985 – ?

So, I must use each day to go toward my goals. To live not like I am dying but to live knowing full well I will be as dead as the cow’s muscle tissue I ate last night between two pieces of toast. Burger meat. An odd metaphor if I’ve ever uttered one, but I am no less mortal than the cow and my death may well mean relatively little more to the world than her’s; my birth certainly wasn’t a great deal to many. And so it is, it’s what happens between birth and death that matters.

And this is where an individual’s personal philosophy comes into play, directing his life. It’s our myths we live, for all the world’s a stage.

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

From Shakespeare’s, As You Like It, Act II Scene VII

Life: it’s ours, in-between our birth and our death. So carpe the fucking shit out of that diem and gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And, while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

– Robbert Herrick, 17th century, dead.

Featured image: ‘Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May, 1909, by John William Waterhouse, 1849-1927

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Journal: Routine, Civic Duty, and Nights on The Shore

17 June, 2015

Writing on my phone, on the shore, under the stars; routine. From the 17th century French word route, meaning ‘road’, and from the Latin ruptus, meaning ‘broken’. It’s the broken road I take. Broken because it’s not the journey, that is whole, but taking the journey that makes us whole.

It was trying to escape the broken road fate hath lain before me that drove me mad. Mad to drink, mad to hate, mad to think I knew better than love what love was.

But now, though the road be broken, I traverse it ensconced in the familiar security and protection of routine, placing more of my life within my relative control and providing me with the simple things I have grown to depend on. Just as my cappuccino comes hot, the night comes cool; the air fresh and refreshing; the night breeze, soft on my face, has even grown familiar and comforting.

Another aspect of my routine, my sanctity, is volunteering at the library: a civic institution. From the Latin civicus; from civis, meaning ‘citizen’ and icus, meaning ‘belonging to, derived from, pertaining to, or connected with’.

For I am no longer a stranger, estranged from my hometown, but a citizen, and the library belongs to me and I belong to it. Hence, it is my civic duty. But it’s also so much a pleasure: intermingling with my fellow citizens: Cathi and Richard and Louisa and a small, eclectic group of others who are kind to me. Lovely people.

I haven’t even told them I am moving back to LA, but I already know I will ride the train down the coast every month to spend a couple afternoons with them and my nights here: writing on the shore.


Post publish edit: I feel it pertinent in writing on the subject of my routine to note that aside from volunteering thrice weekly and writing nightly, upon awaking and before sleep I daily recite to myself the things I am grateful for as well as my creed. These two things have been a wellspring of good.

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On Religion as a Bridge to The Soul

“If the person doesn’t listen to the demands of his own spiritual and heart life, and insists on a certain program, you’re going to have a schizophrenic crack-up. The person has put himself off-center; he has aligned himself with a programmatic life, and it’s not the one the body’s interested in at all. And the world’s full of people who have stopped listening to themselves.”

– Joseph Campbell


Reflecting, as I often do, I can today see how spiritually and psychologically unhealthy I was in a time now gone. How fortunate was I for the adversity that delivered me to a place dark enough to find hope.

I’m reminded of the Latin root of the word adversity: adverture; meaning: to turn towards. For it is only when we face what ails us that we may grow beyond it.

Adversity is not transcended or surmounted but moved through like a dark mountain pass. Denial, avoidance, repression, self-deception – these only ground us in the uncomfortable place, fating our gaze upon the mount; for whether we choose to recognize the splinter in our eye or not, it is there, showing itself in the myriad of complexes and ways a human being can choose to suffer and hate.

However, those dealt adversity often create problems rather than face what they feel they cannot; and often, the struggles a person faces are engendered as outlets for pains they find inadmissable – pains lost in the chasm between the mind and the spirit.

As a result of this gulf in the heart, man is cut him off from his inner world. Diagnosing the ills of the soul is then seen as a mental problem, addressable only through therapy or self-help. There do, however, exist other doctors for the soul, we just don’t believe in them anymore.

The priest and the church once provided a doorway to the inner world and the sanctum through which a man could live life connected to his soul through a higher power; however, the institution of religion is growingly dismissed as nothing more than a dogmatic farce, instituted to control the ignorant populous. Unfortunately, it happens to be an effective one.

The name of G-d has been wielded to enshroud evil in the name of good since biblical times, but the cost of blood spilled and enemies born under the auspices of religion has been the destruction of a bridge to the sacred for many. Unable to perceive the inherent good of something so historically detrimental to man, we’ve chosen rationality in favor of an evil we no longer wish to tolerate in the 21st century. And rightly so.

However, in recognizing the evils of religion in it’s ability to inspire ignorance – as seen in wars and the beliefs that so doggedly divide the human tribe – we are quick to dismiss it in its entirety. As a result of this turning away from G-d, we are shunning something, which, at the personal level, has enabled man to better face his inner battles since before the wheel.

It’s logical to buy into the intelligent argument posited by Carl Sagan that primitive humans invented Gods so we could explain the unexplainable, things which science has now given cause to (think lighting and famine); however, such an argument dismisses the value of intangibles like hope – the only thing a man with nothing left has.

Beyond hope, ritualistic tools such as prayer and worship of the sacred provide humans with an active and cathartic relationship with the soul, which we may call G-d.

How few of us dialogue with the inner world, which as modern psychology has discovered (the subconscious and unconscious) so greatly influences our thoughts and behaviors.

I’m merely thinking aloud here, sitting on the sand at night typing this on my phone, but on my own journey I’ve found spiritual health and as a result I am happier and more at peace than I’ve ever been. My adversities are no longer a cancer, setting wildfire to my life, but, rather, they are the weeds that show me the root issues I need to attend to in order to grow so that I might maintain wholeness in the face of the constant change of life.

Carl Jung believed that there was no neurosis that could not be cured by adopting a religious outlook on life. I too share this belief. And I worry that, regardless of its timeless effectiveness, this solution may be growing increasingly inaccessible as religion’s validity in the collective consciousness continues to decline.

I worry because I think that – again echoing Jung – man needs religion. At least, to achieve the unshakable inner peace I have today, I know I do.

I’m not advising you to look to religion for your soul to be saved, but I am asking that you consider the spiritual as a means of rescuing your soul from exile – for to live cut off from the soul is to live deaf to an inner voice that’s begging to be heard – often in the most painful and eventually effective of ways; however, some may have to wait until hope is all they have left.

It’s not by coincidence that I used to pray only when things got terribly bad or that things no longer get terribly bad. I ascribe this power to the soul as much as to a G-d. To me they are one in the same, the bridge leading to eachother.

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Passages: East of Eden, John Steinbeck

Original copyright 1952. Centennial edition (from Steinbeck’s birth in 1902), Penguin Books, copyright 2002

Chapter 1

“You can boast about anything if it’s all you have. Maybe the less you have, the more you are required to boast.”

– p. 4


“And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.”

– p. 6


Chapter Two

“Samuel had no equal for soothing hysteria and bringing quiet to a frightened child. It was the sweetness of his tongue and the tenderness of his soul. And just as there was a cleanness about his body, so there was a cleanness in his thinking. Men coming to his blacksmith shop to talk and listen dropped their cursing for awhile, not from any kind of restraint but automatically, as though this were not the place for it.”

– p. 11


“The early settlers took up land they didn’t need and couldn’t use; they tool up worthless land just to own it. And all proportions changed. A man who might have been well-to-to on ten acres in Europe was rat-poor on two thousand in California.”

– p. 12


“They and the coyotes lived clever, disparaging, submarginal lives. They landed with no money, no equipment, no tools, no credit, and particularly with no knowledge of the new country and no technique for using it. I don’t know whether it was a divine stupidity or a great faith that let them do it. Surely such venture is neatly gone from the world. And the families did survive and grow. They had a tool or a weapon that is also nearly gone, or perhaps it is only dormant for a while. It is argued that because they believed in a just, moral God they could put their faith there and let the smaller securities take care of themselves. But I think that because they trusted themselves and respected themselves as individuals, because they knew beyond doubt that they were valuable and potentially moral units – because of this they could give God their own courage and dignity and then receive it back. Such things have disappeared perhaps because men do not trust themselves any more, and when that happens there is nothing left except perhaps to find some strong sure man, even though he may be wrong, and to dangle from his coattails.”

– p. 12


Chapter Three

“Alice never complained, quarreled, laughed, or cried. Her mouth was trained to a line that concealed nothing and offered nothing too. But once when Adam was quite small he wandered silently into the kitchen. Alice did not see him. She was darning socks and she was smiling. Adam retired secretly and walked out of the house and into the woodlot to a sheltered place behind a stump that he knew well. He settled deep between the protecting roots. Adam was as shocked as though he had come upon her naked. He breathed excitedly, high against his throat. For Alice had been naked – she had been smiling. He wondered how she dared such wantonness. And he ached toward her with a longing that was passionate and hot. He did not know what it was about, but all the long lack of holding, of rocking, of caressing, the hunger for breast and nipple, and the softness of a lap, and the voice-tone of love and compassion, and the sweet feeling of anxiety – all of these were in his passion, and he did not know it because he did not know such things existed, so how could he miss them?”

– p. 22


Chapter Four

“He set down his loneliness and perplexities, and he put on paper many things he did not know about himself.”

– p. 35


Chapter Five

In small, cut-off communities such a man is always regarded with suspicion until he has proved he is no danger to others. A shining man like Samuel could, and can, cause a lot of trouble. He might, for example, prove too attractive to the wives of men who knew they were dull. Then there were his education and his reading, the books he bought and borrowed, his knowledge of things that could not be eaten or worn or cohabitated with, his interest in poetry and his respect for good writing. If Samuel had been a rich man like the Thornes or the Delmar’s, with their big houses and wide flat lands, he would have had a great library.”

– p. 38


“The first few years after Samuel came to Salinas Valley there was a vague distrust of him. And perhaps Will as a little boy heard talk in the San Lucas store. Little boys don’t want their fathers to be different from other men. Will might have picked up his conservatism right then. Later, as the other children came along and grew, Samuel belonged to the valley, and it was proud of him in the way a man who owns a peacock is proud. They weren’t afraid of him any more for he did not seduce their wives or lure them out of sweet mediocrity. The Salinas Valley grew fond of Samuel, but by that time Will was formed.”

– p. 38


“Tom, the third son, was most like his father. He was born in fury and he lived in lightning. He was a giant in joy and enthusiasms. He didn’t discover the world and its people, he created them. When he read his father’s books, he was the first. He lived in a world shining and fresh and as uninspected as Eden on the sixth day. His mind plunged like a colt in a happy pasture, and when later the world put up fences he plunged against the wire, and when the final stockade surrounded him, he plunged right through it and out. And as he was capable of giant joy, so did he harbor huge sorrow, so that when his dog died the world ended.”

– p. 39


“It was a well-blanced family, with its conservatives and its radicals, its dreamers and its realists. Samuel was well pleased with the fruit of his loins.”

– p. 43


Chapter Seven

“His voice had grown soft and he had merged many accents and dialects into his own speech, so that his speech did not seem foreign anywhere.”

– p. 56


Chapter Eight

“I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents some you can see, misshapen and horrible, with huge heads or tiny bodies; summer born with no arms, no legs, some with three arms, some with tails or mouths in odd places. Students and no one’s fault, as used to be thought. Once they were considered the visible punishment for concealed sins.

And just as there are physical monsters, can there not be mental or psychic monsters born? The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produces a malformed soul?

Monsters are variations from the accepted normal to a greater or less degree. As a child may be born without an arm, someone may be born without kindness or the potential of conscience. A man who loses his arms in an accident has a great struggle to adjust himself to the lack, but one born without arms suffers only from people who find him strange. Having never had arms, he cannot miss them. Sometimes when we are little we imagine how it would be to have wings, but there is no reason to suppose it is the same feeling birds have. No, to a monster the norm it must seem monstrous, since everyone is normal to himself. To the inner monster it must be even more obscure, since he has no visible thing to compare with others. To a man born without conscience, a soul-stricken man must seem ridiculous. To a criminal, honesty is foolish. You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.”

– p. 71


“Nearly everyone in the world has appetites and impulses, trigger emotions, islands of selfishness, lusts just beneath the surface. And most people either hold such thing as in check or indulge then secretly. Cathy knew not only these impulses in others but how to use them for her own gain. It is quite possible that she did not believe in any other tendencies in humans, for while she was preternaturally alert in some directions she was completely blind in others.

Cathy learned when she was very young that sexuality with all its attendant yearnings and pans, jealousies and taboos, is the most disturbing impulse humans have. And in that day it was even more disturbing than it is now, because the subject was unmentionable and unmentioned. Everyone concealed that little hell in himself, while publicly pretending it did not exist – and when he was caught up in it he was completely helpless. Cathy learned that by the manipulation and use of this one part of people she could gain and keep great power over nearly anyone. It was at once a weapon and a threat. It was irresistible. And since the blind helplessness seems to have never fallen on Cathy it is probable that she had very little of the impulse herself and indeed felt a contempt for those who did. And when you think of it in one way, she was right.

What freedom men and women could have, were they not constantly tricked and trapped and enslaved and tortured by their sexuality! The only drawback in that freedom is that without it one would not be human. One would be a monster.”

– p. 74


Chapter Nine

“I can’t understand why a girl like you – ” he began, and fell right into the oldest conviction in the world – that the girl you are in love with can’t possibly be anything but true and honest.”

– p. 92

Continue reading

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All, humanity, Journal, Prose, Writing

Another Day

Another day. Another joyous, glorious day.

I no longer have to ask myself if I’m doing it right. For I am living in accordance with my nature, in harmony with life: as the bird sings, so too, I sing.

I was almost perfect today, save a creeping weakness or two. I sent a fool-hearted text to a former girlfriend this morning, to which she did not respond. I wanted to share my bliss after a walk.

Ego bruises but does not break, but a bruised ego often prompts a bruised reaction. The self is self-preserving; for a moment I cursed her under my breath tonight as I walked to tea. Then I remembered that I ought to base my standards off those morally superior to myself, just as Ben Franklin did. “Imitate Jesus and Socrates,” he wrote. Surely they too had to let things go.

I wanted to share some happy with her, as was our custom. That’s me whining over it, but her reticence to my joy hurt my feelings. I admitted that as soon as I had admonished myself for silently rebuking her.

And why am I sharing this?

Because I am human. And the human thing is to feel.

As uncouth and uncool as it is in our time; the human thing is to express, to work through the feeling rather than deny it, bury it, and leave it masked in emotion.

Sometimes we need to take hold of the things we need to let go of. We need to grasp what touches us so we can pull what we cannot control into our sphere of existence, if only to acknowledge our powerlessness over it. Only then have we rightfully honored the depth of our feelings and admitted what we must thank G-d for the grace to let go of.

To do otherwise is to betray the soul.

Why wind-tight the things that perturb us – knowing they call for more space than we have to give? Why carry burdens we needn’t bear? Why wish for things we cannot change? It’s madness.

But they don’t teach you sanity in school. There is no inner-peace 101.

The modern canon of thought offers no model for a systematic adherence to reason and logic; only madness. Socially acceptable self-pity.

We’re it not for my knowing better – as I so lived months and years ago – I would have gone to sleep sorry for myself, embittered and wounded.

Yes, I have aired a little laundry out tonight. But that’s who I am. And if I should fall in love again and should her and my life no longer run parallel one day, I will again be slow in letting go. That’s my nature. And I’m no longer at war with it. So I write my wrongs and everything is alright.

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A Bridge Unburned

Venture down
Leave no stone unturned –
Imperfect as it is,
Look for the bridge unburned

You can’t go back,
But you may meet in the middle
One day, ten thousand suns away
Whole,
… As you never were before


I continue to grasp my fortune after its end, but I hold nonetheless to what remains because when it’s over we are all changed but something stays that has taken root – something to learn from, to grow by.

For as long as we live the prima materia of our life deepens and it’s in the memories and experiences of the days and years lived, in the things that no one can take, where we find the substance of our lives. It’s only in the darkness of one door closing that we can see the light of the next.

I don’t mean to be esoteric, but language has its limits. Feelings, on the other hand, eclipse the vocabulary. This is the secret and the mission of the poets since time eternal.

Feelings – not emotions – are the language of the soul. In these stirrings, our feelings, is a constant happening, a compass, always showing us the way.

However, rare is the man who hears the bubbling wellspring beneath the sound of his thoughts. And rarer is the one who dives into it. Usually the ship sinks and if he does not go down with it; if he is willing to die at sea, he begins to live.

It’s taken me nearly thirty years to become fully alive and only in this discovered sense of living have I found true and total fulfillment. Previous to now, I was insensate to the satisfaction I desired, incapable of knowing true and sustained peace.

The soul’s wisdom does not leave a stone unturned, a question unanswered; it’s the voice of what I might call a God, or, perhaps, the receiving set for one. Having attuned myself to this Source, I don’t think I’ll ever find myself without the guiding light of the soul’s intuition again. Once you’ve been lost in the sea of life, scared and in a terrible way, fear either grows or loses its power completely. It’s only in bonding with the soul through which the latter is possible.

But this wasn’t just some sort of upgrade downloaded from the angels on high. I emerged from the cave I feared to enter with it. And the dark night of the soul may yet again visit me and Saturn will no doubt return, but I’ve earned a gilded armor in the same way a caterpillar becomes winged: through chrysalis, the mashing up of life and the destruction of form giving itself as fuel to the birth of another.

Before the phoenix raises from the ashes, he is forged in them, he burns.

Pass through the fire I say, go down the rabbit hole. For it’s only by courage we become brave. And it’s only by searching for the distant shore you can feel in your bones that you find the bridge unburned, the road back home.

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Journal: Born and Raised

Note: I foolishly came across an old email today that chagrined me. Thankfully writing this while listening to John Mayer’s ‘Born and Raised’ has somehow grounded me and made me feel better. Amen.

6 June, 2015

I woke up today and had a yogurt smoothie and I then I did the dishes.

After reading on the sand nearby, I walked to the library, where I volunteered for the afternoon and bought a few books.

After a run, I had dinner and took Thomas Moore’s Care of The Soul down to the water where I watched the evening pass into night.

And now I watch the lights shimmer upon the water’s surface. And I think of the night ahead: Ill bake scrumpets (Anyone who comments asking for the recipe shall receive it) and read. Then a spiritual documentary before bed, where I will think of the near future. Soon I’ll be closer.

Soon I’ll have a place in El-Lay that I’ll pace, barefoot in my jeans, shirtless, watching my records spin.

And maybe I’ll have no one to invite over. And that’s okay. I’ll have a garden to tend to; a soul that lives on books and prayer and solitude near the water’s edge. I’ll cook dinner and I’ll receive emails. I’ll stretch and look at the ceiling, happy, hoping my red Persian rug covers the floor where my children will play. And I’ll go to sleep marveling at the wonder, instead of just wondering, because thou mayest.

And I’ll awake to a vanilla sky and look over at my Count of Monte Cristo poster, handsome in it’s frame. And I’ll get out of bed after reciting my gratitudes and my creed. Maybe I’ll shower, maybe I won’t.

And I’ll make a yogurt smoothie. And I’ll go to the gym, and I’ll stop at the bookstore after. And I’ll buy a t-shirt at The Promenade. And I’ll go home, and I’ll write over cold steak. And I’ll call my mom. And I’ll listen to Simon and Garfunkel, or maybe Peter Gabriel, and I’ll shower. And I’ll get ready for my date. And we will talk about our days and our careers. And we’ll come back to my place for gelato and a movie. And we will make love. And I’ll be born and raised.

p.s. If you don’t keep a journal, do your soul a favor and start one. It’s an absolutely wonderful balm for the spirit.

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Letting Go and Taking Hold of Myself: My Creed Revisted

I find myself again at the water’s edge, for the muse flows through my soul tonight like sand through an hourglass. The calm, moon-chilled air gently draws at my face, pulling me inward to greater depths, to a place more real than the day behind me. My soul, like all awake souls, was born to seek the place where still waters run deepest; here I can reflect as clear and true as these Monet-like clouds.

I will sleep well tonight having delivered myself here to discourse with my soul before bed. For me, writing is a conversation with my innermost-self and, appropriating the words of Maya Angelou, writing allows me to, hear the voice of G-d in the quietude of my soul.

Like Macklemore’s, my art is my religion: the conduit through which I feel and express. Before I knew what it was to be an artist, I used writing to define myself. I still do today – only now my powers of clarity and expression are far greater. One of the best decisions I ever made was starting this blog, a word I loathe, as I do all twentieth-century words.

Nonetheless, five years writing underground – and personal blogging is just that – has acquainted me intimately with myself. It’s also allowed me to evolve consciously: rather than simply becoming a product of my life, I’ve become a product of my thinking.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take work for me to be a good man; being a good boy came natural for me, being a good man is a different animal, a man is a different animal: his path beset by more visceral temptations, more tempting vices. There are no children in AA meetings. Being a man requires self-discipline, self-control, self-knowledge, and self-honesty. As a man I know what can cure me and what can kill me, but less than that, and more importantly, I know what has the power to impede my advancement toward my goals.

Seven years ago, two years before I ever walked into that Seattle bookshop and purchased Meditations, thus marking the genesis of my Stoicism, I had my heart broken wide-open and in the aftermath found myself thinking: I just want to be a good man.” In response to this yearning – an inclination no doubt fueled by my insecurity about what kind of man I would be without my first love – I wrote a creed to define myself and to ensure I was not lost to the world, swallowed up like Jonah.

The creed I penned at twenty-three follows:

Be confident and unselfconscious. Be sincere and kind. Be modest. Be compassionate. Be effortless and relaxed. Be consistent in public and private. Be mature. Be passionate. Be brave. Be all the things that are so much rarer.

Earn it by living well. Feed your mind, body, and spirit. Keep your commitments. Look ahead and cultivate relationships. Have good taste and do interesting things. Have ‘generosity of spirit.’

Have a good time and don’t bother with people you don’t think well of. Treat people with respect and don’t take shit from anybody.

Those were the things I felt needed to be at twenty-three, and I’ve done well by some – others I fell short of; suffice to say, there stands room for improvement – not only in my fidelity to the words but in the words themselves.

Tonight, I am rewriting my history and my future; at six weeks past thirty, I’m ready to redefine what I stand for. Here we go Lawrence:

My Creed, revised

Listen to the teachings of your soul. Feed the mind, care for the body, and nurture the spirit. Have inner peace.

Live a life that animates you. Daily commit and give all to your craft. Be successful in the pursuit of your goals. And above all, believe in your own sense of destiny.

Thus shall begin my mornings and end my nights. As an aside, prior to this, upon waking and before sleep, I have an existing habit of reciting the things I am grateful for (After dream recall and journaling). This is something I implore you to do. It’s a conscious act of choosing to focus on the good and learning to see it.

I am not sure how much is due to the aforementioned practice, but I have the rarest kind of happiness today: internal happiness; that beautiful habit, which gives the wise man an unwavering sense of inner peace and calm. I am blessed.

I do not fear grey hairs or wrinkles; I only fear falling short of my dreams. It’s been said that expectations are resentment waiting to happen, but I don’t subscribe to that kind of dogma. I will my own expectations into being. I expect my dreams to happen. If it’s possible I can do it. That’s why we have dreams. Desire of the heart is G-d’s promise to you that it’s already yours. My past is only a shadow of what’s to come.

This must be. For, my past has been great, a great cloud over me. That young heartbreak, which I alluded to, like Gatsby’s, and Fitzgerald’s own, crippled me and I never quite recovered from it. I don’t know what to say after this confession. Only that, as Jung stated, “Until we make the unconscious conscious it will direct our life and we will call it fate.”

Back then I knew a different kind of happiness, bound to external conditions that would prove themselves beyond my control. But the sun did shine, as it does on a first love; however, like Gatsby, I believed you could recreate the past, and I did – for a time. Then I unfairly tried to create it again with another woman, willingly chosing self-deception over a reality I wasn’t ready for; offering myself as a martyr to a fate I could not design. Today I can no longer afford to lie to myself; I can no longer live with ghosts I loved too much to exercise.

There comes a time when our bloody grip on the strangling ties that bind to the past must be released, and in doing so we begin to take hold of ourselves.

I tried to be Jay Gatsby as Jay Gatz did; we all know how the past ends. We can either move on or ahead from it;; we can either beat on borne back ceaselessly into it or we can beat on with it, at peace with our past, towards a green light of our own kindling.

Thou mayest.

p.s. To become one’s self rather than one’s past, you must know why you have done what you have done, otherwise you’ll go on committing the same mistakes forever – and so, the journey continues…

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