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. 

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Mindsight: Going Back to The Start

The imagination is the greatest ability we have – for what may be born of dreams extends far beyond the reaches of the eye, which is limited by our reality – yet the bounds of reality extend far beyond the morrow, all the way into the clouds and past the horizon. Mindsight – our ability to see past today, past practicality, beyond the abyss of fear and the cove of doubt – this is the key that unlocks doors where others see walls. It is through this magic of evolution that we may dream while we are awake, seeing what others do not.

If you think this is the stuff of mere daydreaming, fancies and whatnot, then you, my friend, are seriously shortchanging yourself.

Things do not happen by mere chance: that couple that is going to make love tomorrow on the yacht of their dreams, you think that is mere fortune? No. That, my friends, is the product of a dream, a plan, a goal, and, of course, hard work.

The problem is, most people confine their dreams to their resources rather than letting their dreams detemine them. If your dreams do not guide your reality, as a needle does a thread, your reality will guide your dreams. Unfortunately, most people lose their ability to dream – both through lack of use and the normal setbacks of life. We’ve all given up at some level.

That last sentence is heartwrenching, isn’t it.

You see – dreams need to be curated, protected, and evolved, but the difficulty is that we live in a society that applies immense pressure on us; our values, our goals, and our desires are constantly being dictated to us by our peers, our parents, and ultimately our fraglie and insecure egos.

I hit a point last year when I realized my dreams weren’t even mine.

They belonged to an ex or someone I felt I needed to best, or my wish to gain approval from someone who doesn’t matter. Ayn Rand was right; selfishness is a virtue. Luckilly, I can still afford to be selfish: no wife. No kids. No limits. It sounds absurd but it’s true; if you’re out there and you’re feeling sorry for yourself about being single, you are seeing it all wrong. No, you can write your own ticket.

But most of us, single or taken, struggle with this – with determining what is we really, truly want.

The irony, and the key to unlocking the mystery within us, lies in the past; before society replaced our dreams with things: flat TV’s, great shoes, nice cars, a great place, this is adult shit. Children, on the other hand, know better. We all know better. We’ve just forgotten.

Go back in time. Remember when you were a child. Remember that thing you did that made the hours pass like minutes. The thing that dissolved reality into a mere sidenote. That; the call you stopped answering a long, long time ago still lives within you, and if you pick it back up, it will ring as true today as it did on afterschool afternoons twenty years ago. It’s 1995, and you are on the floor in your room looking at a book, feeling like you just set foot on the moon. Fast forward ten years and you were working in a call center not even realizing what happened to you. Five years later and you just wanted what others had. It’s a sad story, but it’s the story of an adult life. Wrought down by the weight of living, we forgot what we loved. We traded in our dreams for flat screen TVs, twenty inch rims on our leased SUVs.

It is time to reach back in time and take back the light that once kindled your soul.

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung

Awaken. Please.

I am begging you, as the pain I brought on my soul has long begged of me.

I write this because today I am taking full responsibility for my childhood dreams: I own them once again, and I am no longer owned by the pressure of society, a pressure no child really knows.

When I was a kid, I loved nothing more than books and boats. I read every book in my school library on sailing, even Kon-Tiki. Dove, Spray, Adrift – you name it. I remember one day, while reading a story of sailors eating hard-tack at sea, just wishing I had some old, stale bread in my kitchen. I just wanted to taste it, I wanted to live it. And for a time, I did.

But then life happened. That drug of love, and the desire to be cool, to be admired, the desire to admire myself for the things society upholds as measures of happiness and success took over.

I’ll save you my autobiography, but at thirty I am once again as bitten by those same bugs as I was at eleven.

It’s an incredibly beautiful and healing thing. This, my friends, is as true to myself as I can be.

Books and boats.

P.s. We may know the dreams most suited to us by the ease and comfort in which we can clearly imagine ourselves in them. So, try them on, until, just like Goldilocks, you find the one that feels just right. So chill out; you had it all figured out as a child. You need only remember. Now go get lost in it. Once more. For your own sake. Don’t let yourself down another day more. You read this, and I wrote this, for a reason.

Wake Up With Your Dreams

N.G.U
Never Give Up
It warrants a seriousness – you see
You musn’t ever, ever give up on your dreams

For if you do dear child,
You will awake without them
And a day without,
Is spent in doubt
But a day with,
Is-a life well-lived
So to the wise,
These words I give:

Before each night’s sleep,
Stow dreams to keep
In your heart of hearts,
For a blessed start


Background

When I was seventeen years old I got my first tattoo: n.g.u (On my right inner-forearm). It’s an acronym for never give up; an oath of sorts, a vow of commitment to my hopes and dreams. Dreams I have at times forgotten, which is to say, dreams I have at times given up – for to forget, to go to sleep not relishing the dream in your heart, is to have given up.

Never give up; never forget; never let go of your dreams.

I hope you sleep with your dreams snug in your heart of hearts, and I hope you awake filled to the brim with excitement, eager to continue progressing ever forward on your journey.

Do not ever let yourself forget what makes you tick. For if you do, you won’t know why you’re getting up in the morning. And that’s a sad life – one I vow never to return to.

The Cottage and The Castle

I took a nap this afternoon and had a very lucid dream; I dreampt I was outside of a small cottage, posting an old wooden sign bearing the namesake of my blog – only the S was gone: 7Saturday. I then heard a stirring from within the interior of the cottage, which prompted me to egress. As I walked away the French doors of the cottage opened. I turned back and explained the landlord had granted me permission to hang the sign, at which the young woman, a beautiful brunette, told me she knew this. She then asked if I would like to come inside, whereupon, after entering, she asked me if I desired to have sex with her (That escalted quickly).

Being in this small cottage, which contained scarce more than a queensize bed drapped in a white down comfoter, I felt a sense of peaceful desire. Yes, I replied.

We made the angel with four wings and it was pleasant, as she was beautiful, but I was overcome with a brooding melancholy whilst engaged. Through heavy breath, I told her that it would be so much better if we were in love. An utterance she, in closed eyes rapture, ignored.

And the dream ended; I awoke with the brooding dissapointment still with me.

What had the dream meant?

Surely it was a reflection of my deepest desire and a reminder that without Love the act has no wings. As Shakespeare wrote, we were making the beast with two backs. That isn’t to say the thing was beastly – for it was good, but it wasn’t beautiful as love in love is.

And why dost thou not love me fair lady?

Was I merely a caller who had come to her under the banner of my pen, posessing nothing but pleasing title and pleasant countenance?

I suppose I was. And for a time, I thought this enough: Lawrence Black, the writer with a good heart. But words are cheap and intention alone falls short. An identity is but a name and by any other just the same. And perhaps the lady could not love a man who called upon her at her address, one which she rented, the man having nothing beyond his person and his persona. For there are aspects to love that reside beyond the soul, in the material world. A prince charming after all has more than charm. For instance, ahem, a castle. And for that, the lady waits in want of love that brings more than the warmth of a body. For the lady lives in want of a hearth, which her cottage hath not.

And by this hearth she will be wrapped in warmth that extends beyond the reach and security of her lover’s arms. And in this castle, however large it may be (For it is larger than her cottage), a lady feels she has been chosen, rather than she has done the chosing. And I, having no castle, was but a caller, one of many perhaps, and distinguished in little more than name.

And so, through analysis, I have discovered the meaning of the dream; the truth, which, through dream, my soul has carried from depth to daylight. Truth I don’t believe any other metaphor could suffice for as elegantly or aptly. This dream reflected my reality and the way to the fulfillment of my deeper desires.

I am not yet a Prince, for no such title was mine through birth, but I will be.

A Delightful Life

Delightful day; what more can I say; I ran, I hiked, I swam, I read, I cooked, I napped – I did everything but make love, which, in itself, is another kind of delightful day, just not the one written for today. But I conspire with fate for days like that too. I’m working on it, which is to say I am working on myself. And I’ll be damned if I’m not becoming a a really decent man. As Socrates wrote, “Make yourself the sort of man you want people to think you are.” I’d like people to think, to know, that I am the man I have always known myself to be but never before was. G-d willing if I shall fall in love a third time, I will be a man worthy of making love to. It sounds silly but nonetheless, I aspire to be so.

There was a time I thought two halves could make a whole. Today and evermore I know better, for I am whole – not alone but on my own – a Man: world unto himself; complete. I’m not looking for someone to make me feel home; the world is my home, my soul no longer restless. Wanderlust has faded into a dream I no longer dream, and I no longer desire to go back in time.

I go forward, I look ahead, my lust for life deepens with my understanding of myself; I know who I am, and it’s greater than the sum of things come and gone. I am everything I am and nothing I am not (or was).

But before anyone accuse me of an excess of esteem of self-idolatry, let me be the first to tell you, I am beyond not proud of the multitude of things I have wrongly done in my life. But I am not ashamed. Shame tends to self-perpetuate; and I’ve learned, as Alice Hubbert believed, that sin is it’s own punishment. As David Foster Wallace wrote: “The parts of me that used to think I was different or better than anyone almost killed me.” No, I am neither egoic or ashamed. I am a man.

He had his foibles, his faults, and even his crimes. That is to say, he was a man. – Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Yes, I am a man.

But I am trying to be more human than my mistakes, as Ric Elias so beautifully put it. And I am doing a good job at this. Besides, confidence is an aspect of the soul; however, the confidence of the soul arises from wholeness, knowing yourself, virtue and vice alike – unlike the confidence of the ego, which believes it is different or better than anyone else. No, I am not good, I am whole. My heroes are no longer the Edmund Dantes’, the martyrs; my heroes are the Jean Valjeans, the true heroes, those who acheive victory over the enemy within. There is no other adversary that has defeated as many men as man himself. This is the battle each man is conscripted to fight, for victory over the self brings a peace as sweet as the defeat is sour. As the French proverb says, there is no pillow softer than a clean conscience.

And this is my pillow. I rest in the bosom of my soul, as only a man at peace with himself can.

Victory over the self is not the ego death as the guru promises, but a kind of armistice, an agreement which is upheld in the daily care of the soul and communion of the spirit.

There is no resting on ones laurels when the lions come at night. Changing ones thinking is not sufficient in itself; a new way of being, of relating to life, requires surrender, which is half of the battle. This is where right action begins, in surrendering the self to the soul rather than sacrificing the soul to the self. For me this required that I form a new relationship with myself, a relationship with my soul. One in which my soul is not only a conscious part of myself but the dominate aspect of my conciousness.  The mind, when left in charge, places the soul in exile. Security, true security, comes from being able to trust in your inner voice.

That begins slowly, for first it requires being able to hear it. Modern life has silenced man’s communion with the soul by tearing down the channels man used for centuries to understand and acess his higher self. Myth, great literature, religion, ritual, these are all dead and dying arts. The Matrix is simply a life deprived of all these bridges. The job of the shaman is to teach these. I wish to be a doctor of the soul as Jung was. This is my art, my dreams, dreams birthed through the nightmare I made of my life. But the nightmare is over. I’ve graduated. And today, I have true security, unshakable inner peace.

Fuck wit me you know I got it. – Jay Z

While I may not be [“good”], life is. My second cup of tea now cold, I will collect myself from the sandy spot I am on and walk home to read and retire for the night.

I have dreams to live and life awaits me tomorrow. A life in which I am an aspiring doctor of the soul, an artist in the highest sense. A life in which I am whole, a man worthy of making love to. A life I am building to share with the family of my dreams. A delightful life.

Walks home listening to Taylor Swift FTW

D.O.T.D.K

This dock
It’s run through my life like a river

Spent every day in the summer of ’94 on it’s end
Treble hook in hand,
Hands trembling,
Squeezing bits of white bread together – bait for my bait,
Catching Smelt by hand,
Should have smelled my hands
Pulling Mussels off the pilings
Orange and black and slimy
(Took me 10 years before I could eat one in Gumbo or Paella)
I was 10 years old
Didn’t do much but feed the local baitfish back then; although I once caught a Halibut on a borrowed sardine from the bait well of a cabin cruiser
I yelled “Hook Up!”
And the old man from Jaws himself hopped to from boat to dock and helped me land it –
Eighteen-and-a-half inches,
Three point five short of legal
It was still the best day of my life
I ran home and told my parents
We barbecued hamburgers in celebration

Two years later I would be back on this dock,
Taking out a fourteen foot Capri sloop for a quick loop while the watersports boss looked on,
I told him I could sail –
In truth I had learned most from books – I had read every single book on sailing in my school’s library that year – even Kon-Tiki –
Luckily a neighbor’s 16.5 Hobie Cat had filled in where books couldn’t,
I knew how to tack,
And a tiller felt much more natural in my hands than a fishing pole ever had
I spent the next two summers teaching sailing,
In my salt water dyed khaki shorts and an aqua marine polo shirt, I loved every day at work

This would also be the stage for my first romances
My breath stops just thinking about those German eyes,
As pretty as a model ever was
Or the healthy boobs and thighs of a girl for whom I had returned after work in my swim trunks to sneak in the resort’s jacuzzi with,
I wonder if she remembers the boat rental boy
Kissing her in the hot tub was better than Disneyland –
I was 14 and there wasn’t a better place in the world for a boy to come of age

Four years later I was on my first leave –
The sailor boy had joined the Navy –
My crazy best friend of course had some girls who wanted to hang out –
I remember the moment I saw her
She was in the back seat and I stood at the window
It was probably instant
We walked from the valet through the lobby and to the dock
She had no chance –
I was the Navy Boy who had taught sailing
In ripped light-blue Diesel jeans and a white T
I was 18 years old
Sipping SoCo and singing Someday to her as we walked on the sand
I know the exact spot
“In many ways, we’ll miss the good ‘ol days – someday, someday”
– Prophetic words

For I did miss them four and a half years later when we broke up –
I used to come here alone at night,
G-d I missed everything so much
But we came back when we got back together two and a half years later
I took her to dinner at the hotel and we went out on the William D. Evans afterwards
I was 24 and back madly in love

And I’ve been here a time or three since
A booze cruise or two
And now I’m back here alone –
I’m 29
Writing this on my phone
Sitting on the walkway before the locked gates
Looking back on my fate
So thankful for this beautiful damn little boat dock

I don’t know what the future holds
But I know this dock will be here for me
Waiting for me to tie up to it
And I know it will all be okay
Because there’s still magic left in this dock
And there’s still magic left in these bones
So I’ll leave knowing I’ll be back to claim the dreams I planted as a boy
Dreams only this dock knows