Setting the Record Strait Part 2

I was at Mt. Shasta writing about one of the most surreally difficult nights of my life, right before another strange event occurred on this mountain. Truth can be a stranger dance than any of our fictions.

You see, I slipped through the trapdoor of my mind after a BLM celebration, on the night of Juneteenth 2020. Transported through ethers after being intentionally drugged, without my consent or awareness.

Two days prior I had spoken out against local Proud Boys who had intimated protestors, and which I had also experienced firsthand. Now here I was getting dosed and later threatened, in my home, by several gay men who refused to denounce white supremacy- one of whom I had briefly dated.

A Fuckboi’s still a fuckboi- even if you’re locked together during quarantine.

I quickly learned a few things things that blurry night.

1. Racism can surprising extend past the reaches of sexual orientation into White superiority & Proud Boy territory.

2. Being dosed was not as fun as I used to hypothetically inappropriately joke about.

3. Feeling unsafe in your own home is a different level of fear. One which I had seen clients deal with as a social worker, but now it was happening to me while in duress. I didn’t know who to trust.

After three weeks of protesting & defunding the Portland Police by $15 million, the Black community threw a celebration and commemoration of Black freedom on Juneteenth 2020.

It was also the first day the Covid restrictions had been lifted. I decided to throw a small gathering because there had been much to celebrate that day. Whatever merriment was to be had quickly turned into a nightmare I could not get out of.

During that dosing I felt rippled through multiple timelines. Awake, slightly out of body, and far away from those moments. Wavering in and out of my present consciousness and through to possible past lives.

I could see myself and the other people I was talking to from above my own body. It sounds so strange but the words being said and emotions being felt were not mine alone for a few hours.

I still replay that evening’s events trying to understand what happened during that state of altered consciousness. For several months afterward, I came back a different soul briefly transported to another dimensional plane.

Was this all just a side effect of being in an altered state of consciousness? Did I have a shamanic experience that night or was it a brief psychosis triggered by a series of recently traumatic experiences?

Are these all just intriguing scenarios to explain the earthly and devastating reality of what happened during and after this night took place?

Returning to the present moment, I was witness to a surreal experience at Mount Shasta. Was this strange calling to follow the mysterious woman on the trail actually real or just the product of an overactive slightly stoned interpretation?

Were these true mystical experiences or do I just want them to be? Aren’t we all just seeking answers somewhere between reality and just beyond the veil?

I was over this Lemony Snicketts existence. The joke of reliving certain patterns and unexplainable circumstances, and bearing the weight of consequences that just took different forms in intricate and complicated ways.

To what purposes do signs show themselves to give only half of an answer? We are the faulty transmitters of subjective experiences. We bring all of our past programming along with us. And also our new understandings if we open ourselves to other possibilities.

During this mountain hike, I asked the Universe for a sign. Then a sudden awareness came into being.

Perhaps we are all living through multiple realities and passing though unseen dimensions in every moment.

The skeptic in me found this premise difficult to deny as the next mystical journey began to subtly unravel on Mt. Shasta & before my very eyes. I’m still on the quest to untangle these and many other mysteries in my life, Earth, & the Universe.

Fast Slow Disco

To leave everything and start over is part of the excited human collective dream to succeed and evolve. Coming from Texas the Pacific Northwest is continually unimaginably magical.

A place where borders were created by volcanic mountains and glacier fed river instead of flat gerrymandered land, county lines blurred by bureaucratic inequality. Flashes of false beauty can be eroded in an instant. This Earth is only valued because people sanctioned off pieces and said it was their own. Things which last forever have no appraisal value.

I’ve been fortunate & reckless to see great cities & monuments around this amazing world. Now all I want is to feel at home with good people inside the green heart of Nature. It’s the closest thing to god, to a Oneness, to a peace we all are bound.

Up here Forests stand sentry to staggered waterfalls spread out to the Pacific Ocean- the last true great unknown voyage. Portland is the closest thing to my personal heaven. anchored to a treasure of pedestrian friendly volcanic land filled with liberal values and artisinal beers & cheese. And it ain’t perfect- like everything there are drawbacks and sunny day sacrifices.

If only I could transport my friends and family it would be absolute Nirvana. Kurt Cobain biases represented- besmirched but not required.

Palpable fears litter our minds and overcrowd our politics. We won’t be one with ourselves until we reconcile the shadow side, our fears, to accept truth of our greatest virtues & failings.

When does life start becoming your Life once you’ve started over again? After change has been your greatest constant, trauma your most persistent mistress, bibles and bigotry your hated foes. After learning Life promises only impermanence, you kind of get used to living hand in hand with chaos. I’m loosening her grasp from mine & trying to accept love openly without complaint.

Moving alone is an extremely intense event. The loneliness has almost been unbearable at times but at least being alone is safe. Though hurricane Khatena comes out to play I’m not as much life of the party anymore. Experiencing multiple traumas & a bipolar diagnosis prior to uprooting has forever changed me.

It has made me question everything about my life, my past relationships, career choices, and future decisions. We think life is permanent and stable. You pull a few strings and the positive momentum begins to unravel.

Returning from trauma returns you as a ghost to your former life. How long is it going to take to feel normal again? There are glimpses of it. Each week there are days I feel this is totally where I’m supposed to be.

Yet, it would be a lie to say that doubts don’t plague me at times. I wish Suicide still wasn’t a struggle, a temptation, a way to soften the resistance, the difficulty of getting out of bed some mornings, or putting my life back together once more. I’m trying to not let that be the ace in my back pocket.

Through the healing process You begin to breathe. You accept the fact that some things in your life will never change. You cannot take back what happened especially things that never should have occurred and heartbreaks never meant to be inflicted.

Still your life doesn’t feel real in some ways. The one who came before you feels like a foreigner. You feel like the other shoe going to drop. You become hesitant to trust others even at times to trust life even though you know that it’s always worked out in the past and it’s cyclical.

I’ve gotten through the hardest parts of this past year by pretending it wasn’t me living through states of disgrace.

I’ve been partially ready to run my whole life. But now I fucking get why foster kids I work with do exactly that.

Because what if this person does love you and this part of your life works out only for it to all go away again? People will always come in and out of our lives. We must get rooted in ourselves.

Which is easier for people who have the means to root themselves- mentally, physically, interpersonally, financially. It seems some people have had perfect lives and don’t understand what it’s like to lose, be awkward, to be dealing w/ secret burdens and shame. It’s not our job to sort out the perceived versions of other people for none of us really even know our own selves fully.

The real version of ourselves we continually in but it seems like some have it figured it out from day one.

All one can do is take it day by day and offer grace instead of self-condemnation and bad self talk.

I don’t know what it’s like to wake up next to same person every day and have children but I’m starting to like myself when I wake up. You are not being selfish by not settling.

Sometimes you go on journeys where there is literally not one other person who could have traveled that path home but yourself and by yourself. Trust me, it won’t be like that forever. Above all the wandering soul can not betray their call to adventure for long. The wild hope of wanderlust always beats beneath our flesh.

All one can do is take it day by day and offer grace instead of self-condemnation and bad self talk.

Sometimes you go on journeys where there is literally not one other person who could have traveled that path home but yourself and by yourself. Trust me, it won’t be like that forever.

When you experience a lot of life-changing things it takes a while for it to settle down, to feel real. It feels like everything is just going to drop again. You kind of get used to living in chaos. When things settle down it’s almost like you become accustomed to difficult situations.

As a social worker I’ve been trained to sit with someone else’s trauma while they’re in it. I know how trauma affects you more so than ever because I’m still wading through my own. In some ways I feel totally free and authentic, yet I have also become a stranger to myself.

Is that part of the change? Is it normal to always feel in flux? Don’t people eventually settle down? Will that ever happen for me one day?

Closing yourself to love is like closing the windows of a room on a vibrant spring day like quelling wind from the mountain side. Stealing life and draining it away until you become hollow; a carbon copy of the human you used to be.

At times I do wonder if this move was worth it all. Yet I would have also betrayed myself for not following the call which changed my life.

Above all the wandering soul can not betray their call to adventure for long. The wild hope of wanderlust always beats beneath our flesh.

So many of our explorers, young mothers, pioneers and queers, activists, refugees, and kids in foster care must have asked the same. How many forded the river in spite of doubts and armed with hope they brought for a better life?.

Life comes back in unlikely conversations on mountain passes, across barroom booths, with people you didn’t know you were praying for; people who didn’t know were seeking you too.

Sometimes you must sway in place waiting for the slow disco to move you or within you.

Starting again for the first travelers was unbelievably difficult. People literally died on the Oregon Trail and they still kept coming. People keep risking fate for a new future. As scary as it is to take the leap it would have killed me not to take it. Either way we all will die Might as well do it on our way to something new.

Reflecktion of Reflections

The reflection of a mountain lake is changed by ripples of kayakers, canoes, fish, and wind. Mirrors cannot be fully trusted, even in nature, for they do not present the subject as it truly exists. What we see is the inverse reflection of an image but not the actual image itself.

In that way we never truly see ourselves as others see us and we do not fully see each other because of the images we are trying to outwardly portray belies the depth within ourselves and to ourselves.

Seeing this lake reflect Mount Adams, “The Forgotten Giant” in choppy patterns made me think again about how much of the world we really don’t know- presented by MTV True Life: True Life and the meaning of existence.

Millenia of human history has gone undocumented or painstakingly reassembled by anthropologists, doctors of paleontology, linguists, people charged with studying the ancients. We are still far from complete understanding of the Universe, of dark matter, dark places of human experience.

In his famous allegory, The Cave, Plato presents several chained prisoners who are forced to look at a fire casting shadows/images reflected on the back of a cave wall. He said, “On the walls of the cave, only shadows are truth.” We see mere reflections of the Forms- beauty, truth, life but do not actually ever see “Truth,” “Love,” “Mercy,” as they exist on their own. Everything is just a reflection of an ideal and we cast our own assumptions, experiences, desires and label it good, love, bad.

Objectivity of the material world becomes more apparent in nature. The riddle of “if a tree falls in a forest” becomes more clear when you’re the only one in the forest to hear its silence.

Almost all of us live this way to some extent. Not asking questions which would shake the foundations of our societies, are homes, relationships, and selves. I’ve literally known self-actualized people who said they don’t want to ask the hard questions because they don’t want to know “the answer.“ Often I wish the desire to ask these questions did not burn within my heart because life would be a lot easier to take at face value. It also would be boring and predictable.

As much as I value harmony and living well- I would rather live exultant highs and crushing lows than be bound to a life of tradition never leaving a small town filled with mediocre experiences. And I’ve lived life in both versions. Bipolar, bicurious, but never bi-boring.

A major flaw with theists and atheists is that both camps posit theories of the existence or non-existence of god. They stay firmly planted in their beliefs because it helps them make sense of the world and is an understandable premise because existence is incredibly vast and unknowable.If a creator exists and really wanted humans to know a secret important message that will affect your life for eternity would it not be encoded in our DNA? Would there not be writing on the actual walls, reminders everywhere we turned that we must follow?

The more time one spends in Nature you come to see that the purpose of Life is to live, to continue experiencing the stunning variety of this world, to enjoy life, to reflect on our experiences, and then to evolve based upon what we’ve learned so we can pass the evolved knowledge through art, sciences, thought, the gene pool etc.

It seems to me that the answers to life’s hard questions, (like what is the purpose of life? Is there an after-life? etc.) can never be fully answered and that must be for a reason.

The purpose of life may be that we are to find our purpose and follow where the journey leads. Maybe the point is to Live the best life you can, make life matter for yourself & others while not changing your behavior just to please one another due to outdated modalities of thinking and ways of being.

We think this world is permanent yet it too will burn away billions of years in the future. Life feels like it will last forever and there are many who have contemplated leaving their own- some have succeeded in this arduous endeavor. All of our religions come from some “divinely-inspired” individual who rarely ever wrote down anything they actually said and are disseminated out through thousands of years of translated texts by people with various agendas.

What we think we believe about the world has often been carefully sifted and manipulated through centuries of people gripping to power with the goal of keeping the masses sedated and satisfied. Obviously this isn’t working when so many people throughout various societies are still killing themselves or wanting to die and in America- killing each other with guns on a daily basis.

There is no statistic I know of that measures how people have been aggregately affected because of religious indoctrination and pacification throughout their lives. The millions who are walking a slow-trek to the grave aren’t counted on the census. What about refugees- people who are hoping for a better life and are imprisoned at America’s borders, the children crying out in terror in their own homes, the people who are self-medicating just to get through the day? Rousseau said that humanity became poisoned when the first person claimed the land was their own. We come into this world without and we leave without.

The clamoring for status, possessions, certain relationships is a big Western civilization pissing contest to prove our own worthiness to others, but it’s mostly done in effort to subconsciously prove worthiness to ourselves. How’s that working out for us?

We are born into this world seemingly without knowing anything until consciousness finally appears in early childhood. The way we are programmed to believe about life, god, science is very much dependent upon the geographical space and time of our existence.

Most people who believe that the way we are living is the right way the only way to live have never left their states let alone their country.

How can we look at a refugee or on anyone and pronounce them unworthy. Somehow as less human than us because of an imaginary border we don’t want you to cross? But what if he’s gay and a migrant worker or not a shiny piece of eye and arm candy? We’re human to you because we help you look better and vice-versa. If you actually put into practice what your Bible stories say-you’d be baking that wedding cake with dildos and fireworks galore. Jesus met people where they were at and was not one to fault anyone.

The election of Trump is the last gasping death rattle of a white once-majority blinding their eyes against their own desperate nakedness and clutching gnarled hands onto the threads of an unclothed emperor’s train. A vote against the Future may momentarily deter progress but the Future is coming anyway.

We can be the catalyst of action or churn in the dry rot wood of complacency. My eyes are fully opened to see the Future meet us here while tyrants in various guises will forever eventually fall away exposed, unraveled by their own undoing, and with no subjects left to rule.

What were we thinking during those formative years before the impressions were made upon us the time before memory of which we have no memory? How different would each of us be had we not been collectively fucked over since the beginning of human history?

The ego- the separated consciousness the part of the self that gets scared and insecure is not entirely against us. For in those moments we think life is closing in around us, when our reflections get shattered, we realize how much of life was lived in the wings, in the attempts to prove we have it altogether in the safety of our beautiful homes and children.

Most of us are not used to being loved wholly for who we are with our blessings, personality quirks and imperfections. I finally allowed myself to experience unconditional love during last year’s breakdown. My father, my sister, my mother each came to my rescue even as I was cursing my parents and others with similar vitriol of what I was protesting against.

When I needed love the most my parents and best college friends came to my rescue. We finally let ourselves be loved when we break the walls within us.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to find all the barriers you have built up against it.”- Rumi

We are all contributing ideas, experiences, transmitting messages with our dna without even knowing it. We all have the potential to beam like the sun or devolve into massively powerful black holes. An awakening in the morning is a destruction of the dream life.

Sometimes we get jolted into the reality we wanted we just didn’t expect to wake up to it so quickly. A tearing away of shade and the shock of being flooded by the Light. We never think we deserve the ruby slippers. That only perfect people in fake fairytales and bible stories get to live that life. The belief that myths are fiction is akin to believing that miracles can’t come true. I get driven to great depths of despair and despondent frustration about this.

But That’s still my egoic self sifting through the darkness imbedded in the false sense of safe realities. I’m not kidding when I say im not afraid of anything. I can’t even began to explain that exultation into words and I’ve seen the darkness within that blessed anarchy. Its like the Power of the dark Phoenix being wrapped inside a rage a tempest in a teapot. The capacity for creation will always be greater than our capacity to destruction. Just look at how powerfully we’ve created and destructed through the best and most destructive days of your life.

SOCRATES: Do you think the one who had gotten out of the cave would still envy those within the cave and would want to compete with them who are esteemed and who have power? Or would not he or she much rather wish for the condition that Homer speaks of, namely “to live on the land [above ground] as the paid menial of another destitute peasant”? Wouldn’t he or she prefer to put up with absolutely anything else rather than associate with those opinions that hold in the cave and be that kind of human being?GLAUCON: I think that he would prefer to endure everything rather than be that kind of human being.

I am returning to the light and to living and loving well. My nephew was born three days ago and I couldn’t think of a better time in my sister and brother-in-law’s lives to be parents, my father to be a grandfather, and in my own to be an uncle. May we each be faithful in our charge as we continue to love and guide this precious being to life. Ashes to Ashes we come and go through this world reflecting on our deeds and Reflecting life back to the world. Little nephew, you are highly loved. May you see that example reflected back in our words and actions. May you have the best life has to offer us all.

Within You Without You

Joseph Campbell explains the hero’s journey as a circular cycle of polarities common to all human beings. The call to adventure spurs one to leave their home and travel into the wild. The hero encounters many obstacles on the journey to their destiny.

Traversing through the dark roads filled with various real and imagined terrors & foes one begins to doubt their calling. Some even abandon their quest altogether and question the gods and themselves for a way out. Clarity comes during a period of introspection and acceptance of mistakes and losses which have occurred.

Eventually help is given in the form of “supernatural” or subtle aid enabling the hero to return to their goal much wiser and reinvigorated than before. Each one of us is the hero in our personal narratives. There are many years have some have lived the song of the downtrodden. Some never get a second chance or become to afraid to venture out again. Some succeed and arrive at their destination immediately (i.e. Billie Eilish & all overnight sensations.)

For most of us mortals it takes a longer more arduous route to get there. We are being forged while in the inky darkness.

Chipping away chunks of marble eventually reveal the intended sculpture.

But we are not marble. We are beings of light in corporeal forms. The chisel strips away excess on an internal level.

The work happens in our hearts our minds; in quiet corners where we cannot objectively peer deeply nor can others wholly understand. We are even mysteries to ourselves.

This start over in Washington state feels surreal and is very welcomed. It takes a while for the new normal to set in. I find myself wanting to go back to a sense of normalcy, but there is only going forward- at least in the traditional Newtonian sense. It’s been hard to reconcile certain events that occurred during my recent travels but I have come to accept everything as it is without too much romanticizing or self-critique.

I let the world in on my life and in some ways feel the distance this openness has allowed. Private battles and past challenges have been disclosed in hopes of helping others own their journeys. The one-sided judgments on the other side of the tablet and cell phones are not known yet I have felt the sting of silence too. Vulnerabilities begin to harden the longer they are exposed to the elements of time and social media.

The brightness of the world has dimmed in some ways. The bushy-tailed optimism still intact but more myopic in focus. Broad reaching hope for people to live their truest selves will never diminish in my heart. Despite my own failings & disappointments I still believe that we are good and worthy to be fought for.

I didn’t try hard enough to find a literary editor to publish Break the Violent Fetters. I’m more in the business of build it and they will come than the other way around.

Yet over the past few monthsI found there exists a stigma when you release art or self-publish on your own. It’s almost as if self-publishing delegitimized the gravity of my message.

As if these words were not good enough to be traditionally published- which was not the case at all. I just didn’t want to wait upon other people to judge and evaluate my life’s content. I had already lived through the threshing ground of societal judgment. 

Or maybe people felt like I hadn’t lived a hard enough life worthy to write a book about.There are billions of people on this planet that have experienced physically, environmentally, emotionally harrowing events in their lives. I speak of an experience that is unfortunately almost stereotypical for LGBTQI+ people throughout all societies and most time periods.

Putting pen to paper about my experience is an honor because so many other people have been silenced and never given the opportunities to share or live their truth. My first book is for those who haven’t gotten to tell their story and for those still figuring out their own.

We are not fair judges to ourselves but what happens when others are also unfairly judging you? The most shocking aspects of it all were people forgot to look at my heart as I blew up in minor crises for miles across America. I don’t recognize aspects of the person I was last summer/fall while in the throes of mania. My sister told me that I won’t ever be able to separate the manic behaviors and my true self. She’s right. They are bound to one another in a chemical compound that was its own venomous form. That also means I don’t have to stay the same.

The personal toll taken in telling this story is still yet to be determined but at this point I don’t think I would do it again. At least not in the way this all unfolded. Sometimes I cringe when I think about certain personal details I’ve allowed to disseminate into the masses, my friend and peer group, people I will never meet on various ends of the world and its wide web.

The dismantling of a life in progress at the height of its young successes has been hard. I was going to buy a house. That was the original plan, but this wanderlust would not be tied down or settled. I still find the wanderlust fighting and resisting the urge to stay. But maybe my stubbornness wouldn’t have allowed it any other way.

I was not ready to settle down until the pieces all fell apart. What is it in our wanderlust hearts that keeps us wanting more? This call to adventure is not so much a running away from problems as it is a hopeful, somewhat nebulous, expansion we are running towards. The saboteur and hero are one in the same. Dualities cannot exist apart from the other. Within you Without you.

It is tempting to judge yourself and present situation while you’re in the midst of a shit show. How can you see anything else when your present existence, one you’ve worked so hard to create backfires and your left with scarce remnants of what once was. Some friendships left in fragments. Others joined in the sea of so many little regrets.

Writing about the psychological, societal, and emotional chains I had broken in turn broke me all over again. It’s a cruel irony. It has spawned a new slew of regrets. I’ve wanted to press the reset button on my life so many times this past year. There was a way out of it all that kept calling. An unholy echo bidding me to an undug grave, yet again. I hope that call has been silenced for the last time.

You can’t see the way out when you’re mired in the reality of the shitshow you’re digging out of. We will not know how our actions truly affect another person, our families, our own lives, generations of people we will never meet.

The present is a confounding experience and difficult to describe. For we are not impartial to ourselves. We each possess a degrees of unreliable self-narration because it is difficult to remove yourself from the reality of your present circumstances. An exhausting difficult period of your life feels like it slowly spreads to all aspects of your psyche. Clouding your vision and hope of ever escaping the dungeon of regret.

A lot of times the current sorrows will not matter in the long run. Epitaphs aren’t filled with credit scores, or how shiny and straight your smile was. Even still, there exists a compulsion that drives me to write and to share that is insatiable. Our lives aren’t often remembered for the mistakes we have made- unless an egregious act was committed.

How many times have you regretted an action and let it play out over and over in your mind’s eye? You remember the events that led up to certain actions and thoughts. Your body revs with anxiety as you relive the event in your mind. The human body cannot qualify whether an action occurred in the present, past or future.

Whatever you focus upon will also reflect in your body as your neck tenses, heartbeat increases, etc. In essence we are reliving that past trauma every time we talk about it AND have an involuntary reaction. It feels like a haunting at first but distance from a problem or a situation helps you to see things with a broader perspective. 

A tragedy, an ordeal by fire smolders long after the flames have been extinguished.

Sometimes there is little to retrieve back from the ashes. In that case the embers of a former period of life are the beacons. They are the guides on our way forward. You can only see what’s up ahead when you are nearing the destination.

We are our own maps. Each day a thread running through paper folds.

I had been living in patterns of devolution for months. A persona unrecognizable to others who knew me well. I hit upon a rage that had never been expressed and a volatility of shockwaves that rippled beyond the bounds or intentions of my person.

I’m almost back to my normal self and personality. Now the dust has settled. The scattered pieces have been recollected. Some pieces and people will never fit again. There many more pieces that are still here and ones yet to find.

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive,”Joseph Campbell.

Life is no longer stuck in a long looped waiting room. I’m finally where I wanted to be. There’s still so much left to explore, to enjoy, to live.

After the Goldrush/Lost inside the Forest

True to nature I chose the complicated hike that found me lost and turned every which way around. Stuck for hours somewhere in a long wilderness loop in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Colorado keeps calling me back, an unintended disciple. The lessons becoming easier to learn as I let myself be broken to the teaching. It’s like we’re always on the cusp of knowing, like that point in your day drinking a coffee and laughing with your best friend, or on that cerebral scatterfying acid trip when you figured out the universe, or close to climaxing- the constant verge of almost knowing. Then all is ephemeral again. Wisps of genius flowing back into the void. The curse of peering into secret ethers is forgetting all we weren’t supposed to learn.

The Tioga trail is nestled a couple miles westward of the Continental Divide. There was only one other car in the trailhead’s parking lot. It was height of summer and temperate beauty. Tourists and amateur hikers flocked to the best morning trails. Mosquito swarms had followed suit. Being alone in nature is the truest of all holy rituals. A sojourn I wanted to walk through alone, unencumbered, spirited away from fellow hikers or any pair of probing human eyes.

The solo wanderer’s mantle is one I needed to carry that day. One that has followed me since.

This solitude has served me well. How is it in the subtle pursuits of adjacent tasks, we often get exactly what we asked for?

The path started down by a picturesque lake, two distinct mountain peaks rising in the distance past a winding two lane road.

I gathered my belongings, boots double-tied, my heart loosening its notches.

Quickly the hike turned steep. The path was made zigzagged to lessen the sudden intensity of the arduous climb and to sidestep giant trunks felled by beavers, others downed by the National Forestry’s army of rangers.

My breathing found the rhythm of the mountain, and I let my cares go. A week-and-a-half away from the unexpected turmoil my leaving of Texas had created.

A few miles in, I found a clearing overlooking an adjacent mountain. Flowers and green swept across the one hillside. I walked in a little further and sat to breathe in beauty- this wide open serenity I was lone witness to. The tinkling of an unseen stream could be heard cascading seasonal life throughout this ecosystem.

I felt free, calm, inspired. I took my Canon Rebel out and snapped frames of the wild chill-tinged air. Then I put on my camera’s timer, leaping in ecstasy and in a blue dream and mountain haze. I took a photo that would later become the cover to my first book. I meditated and mindfully sat in joy, soaking in a sunlit gratitude, enjoying the call of blue jays and cardinals singing, the bees and butterflies breezing beside my yogic form.

And in the joy, as we often do in states of bliss, I felt the time was now and to move forward.

I sat up and gathered myself, deciding to take a separate path. One led down the mountain I had just traversed, but instead desiring the path suddenly unfamiliar. True to nature I chose the complicated hike that found me lost and turned every which way around. Stuck for hours somewhere in a long wilderness loop in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Colorado keeps calling me back, an unintended disciple. The lessons becoming easier to learn as I let myself be broken by each teaching.

Cell service had not worked for days. The trail map in hand made no sense. Summer rain began falling and the sky grew darker. Two hours of daylight were left. I sought refuge within a clearing and canopy of Pine and grove of Aspen trees.

Aspens are connected by an underground root system. They are able to communicate via this bio-psychic link. “Aspens, god, Steve Jobs- can you please lead me out of here?” It’s funny the ones we cry out to when we need saving.

There may be no atheists in the foxholes, but I’ve come to believe that everything is connected. A pantheist in panic is either delusional or onto something. I’m still out to find that answer.

It’s like we’re always on the cusp of knowing, like that point in your day drinking a coffee and laughing with your best friend, or on that cerebral scatterfying acid trip when you figured out the universe, or close to the vital orgasmic climaxing- the constant verge of almost knowing. Then all flows ephemeral again. Wisps of genius coursing back into the void. The curse of peering into secret ethers is forgetting it all. Truths we weren’t supposed to learn.

The winds picked up and they began swaying together in a primal dance. A pattern choreographed by an ancient unconscious evolution. The years that have brought these trees, this breeze, this wind blown self to now.

The path out of that forest was not straight. The signs had fallen into disrepair and disuse. They were eroded by the sheer artifact of time. A path alone indeed. Perhaps this was part of the path, or at best a brief panacea- a way to come to peace with a journey that seems so unsure and unguided. I got what I wanted. I sat and ate a sandwich I had packed before my hike.

At least I have food and water, an emergency poncho, a hatchet, flashlight, journal, an iPhone, and a joint. My own bewitching self-determined survival guide.

I tell myself “this loss and lostness is temporary. I have learned that from all the times I’ve lost my way before.” Still I wanted to give up. Not so unlike where I feel my life has now brought me to today. Back into America. A book I am proud of but brought me to a near penniless state and no direction nearer to where I want to build a home, yet again.

We must lean into the thoughts and feelings that align, that are contributing to our desires. The greatest predictor of survival in the wilderness is your mindset. If you let yourself get tangled in the mire, in the fear of not surviving your chances of making it out plummet to 50%.

There were lessons in the losing of my way. But I thought I had already been through all that. Maybe finding yourself is never finished. I’m still searching until the day I’m not.

This setting forward, breathing the pristine mountain air, thick with pine. I was breathing in life in pure thin oxygen. Exhilaration pulsing in each expanded artery increasing with each mile in my trek. The sinews of the rooted forest trees were formed steps in an upward direction due to the sheer genius of seeds grown along the natural incline of earth.

So I waited and breathed, and smoked a joint. I looked for signs of flattened straw, quiet openings in the brush.

I retraced the steps and boulders I had climbed until I came to a misshapen sign post pointing in two directions.

One leading me back through the wilderness camping I had already surmised was a dead end to my purposes this evening.

The other pointing downwards- the white painted markings had peeled away offering no specific guidance.

The infernal teasing of being human.

Life offers us half-shapen sign posts when we are searching for a billboard to scream to us the way. But would we even listen?

We, the frequent rebels, to ourselves. Arguing, blaming away our greatest joys. We don’t set out with it all completed for us already. Figuring life out is the most human-being thing humans beings do. And we can only do it by trying.

Within our nature lies a tendency to err. In that same body rises a desire to rectify and put right to wrong. Even on a cellular level all things are breaking down and fixing. We don’t guilt our cells into cells of their own when they fail us.

You have to forgive yourself when you lose the way. Seldom do you fail yourself on purpose.

We live in sullen tyrannies constructed by our societies, but we individually bar our own windows. There will be no freedom until we tire of unloading and reloading the restraints we put upon our backs w/ distorted self-talk.

I gathered my belongings, boots double-tied, my heart loosening its notches. In that moment the sign post was all I needed. I had already trenched the arduous climb in the wrong direction. I just needed to see that there was something up ahead without the faulty guidance of unreliable self-narration.

Hope upon the horizon is enough to light through seas of trees. Shreds still bleed through even After the Goldrush is long over.

Why must I always choose the hardest of these journeys. My stubborn tenacity has mellowed out. I’m seeking the path of clarity, the easiest way to get to where I am going. The complicated adventures, I leave those for another time.

I seek simplicity and grace and the things inside of me that make those around me know that they are loved. To reflect this love to others’ and shine back their brightest light to you.

Back to tha Future/Final Reflections part 1

Traveling may as well be a time warp because Mexico feels a world away from 8 days ago. I finally see the full picture- all the pieces and posts which have concluded to now. The past 7 marvelous confounding months were influenced by the last couple of intense weeks, and soul-searching couple of months in Texas. An epicene road trip through the American west was underscored by a silent rage tapped for the first time in my life. A legitimate frustration always brewing under the surface of this choppy swoop and clairvoyant waters.

Traveling may as well be a time warp because Mexico feels a world away from 8 days ago. I finally see the full picture- all the pieces and posts which have concluded to now. The past 7 marvelous confounding months were influenced by the last couple of intense weeks, and soul-searching couple of months in Texas. An epicene road trip through the American west was underscored by a silent rage tapped for the first time in my life. A legitimate frustration always brewing under the surface of this choppy swoop and clairvoyant waters.

In the throes of writing the most difficult chapters of my book- I coincidentally uprooted my life, quit my job, cashed out my savings, and went off my medications because I no longer had insurance.

I didn’t realize that I was acting manic, that my body and mind were going through withdrawals from AD/HD and recently prescribed anti-anxiety medication until a breakdown at Mount St. Helens, Oregon.

If there’s any place to have a mental meltdown, America’s most recently active volcano was a touch too on this Jewish nose to have it. 😆💆🏻‍♂️

Just like that 1980 eruption, a swirling configuration of factors led to this unintentional unraveling. Secondary trauma associated from aspects of my career in social work, and the loss of my dog, some of my closer friends, the death of two friends in 2018, the political nightmare of America, and a flurry of immediate attention days after publishing the first chapters of a personal narrative, added their respective weights that broke me.

#babygotcamelback

I felt this message that had been written in my heart for 20 years and onto paper for ten was bursting forth- finally ready to be shared. It seemed that people wanted to hear it. I was expounding upon a greater phenomenon (coming out) that people some probably feel is cliche at this point.

I was floored by the response and cried tears of gratitude and disbelief for three days. It came literally out of nowhere, and I don’t even know where or how it happened and I was not expecting to receive any of that.

It also served as validation from the unsupportive members of my inner circle who were probably upset with me leaving and felt that I was getting a big head- maybe I did for a little bit- and really for the first time in my life.

Perhaps they felt the spotlight was stolen or shined a mirror to their own insecure ambitions or some combination of a lot of things and relationships that had run their course.

More anything it felt like confirmation that I was on my path. That I am on my path, although the direction isn’t as defined as I had intended.

Like so many in my generation I was also mad at America. So proud of my friends and generation for voting for protesting for standing up for Universal rights. For waking up. So disappointed and frustrated at the older generations’ selfish and fear-based hoarding of resources, empathy, and compassion.

Angry at people groups and social classes who have had relatively, collectively easy lives AND STILL lacked compassion, grace for their fellow human beings while toting a Bible and Rifle in each hand.

That anger is justified, but I’ve realized responding with rancor brings no good to any of us.

The tipping point of it all was my family’s continual descent and voting into Republican madness. My response was in response to being the lone wolf in a pack I resented being part of.

I screamed “Fucking cunt of America” to the mountain walls of Mt. St, Helens. “Fuck you all, fuck you god, my parents, fuck everyone who doesn’t give a shit about others,” along with a lot of other tirades that literally reverberated and echoed through the valleys.

If there was anyone else out there that night they made no sign of it. Still, as always, Nature offered no judgment or condemnation. Earth is unconditional- casting rain and sun on us all.

First rule in nature- best not cross the path of a beast in the midst of a tempest. And there was just so much bullshit in the American china shop.

I woke up in the morning realized I had drank almost an entire bottle of gin and flooded social media with a bunch of screenshots of telling my dad off and ending a relationship with yet another one of my former best friends.

That was the 6th week off of Adderall.

The Crushing depression, the guilt, the forlornness I felt seemed so strange and sudden.

It was the perfect combination for the storm that led to Hurricane Khatena re-emerging years after having been downgraded to a tropical storm.

But “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”- MLK

My purpose is to be an agent of love. Anger has been sent out to sea.

I set a goal to have this published by the end of 2018 and as that personal deadline loomed closer I jumped the gun and self-published. In the process I lost focus and sight of the life I was building for myself. By then it was too late to leave Mexico- affordably.

Plane tickets were $500 and living expenses were relatively cheap in Mexico so it made more sense to stay there.

Like so many of us I was also so fucking mad at America and in no hurry to return home.

Now here I am gone from full to concentric circles. Loops around mountains and lassoes. This time I am finally ready for the last dismount. 🙏

Bridal Veil Falls- Revisited

Orbits swirl through swans’ long nests
their ivory planets clothed in down.
Tens of talents left ungathered
pearl yolks- the taste of gold.
Revelations ripe abandoned
Miracles unhatched,
and fucking undersold.

Bridal Veil Falls- Revisited

Lost within an alpine forest

hours spent outside of sound.

Dawn breaks the night worm’s seeking

Life propelling ceaseless rounds.

Orbits swirl through swans’ long nests

their ivory planets clothed in down.

Tens of talents left ungathered

pearl yolks- the taste of gold.

Revelations ripe abandoned

Miracles unhatched,

and fucking undersold.

Was this all a fruitless offering?

Letters plucked a century too old?

Nets sliced opened to free a people

who recoil from every verb & noun.

Worms are born already banded

Why then, was my neck so also bound?

What becomes of unwed wearers

Of Hope broken from her shells?

Plumbed the farthest depths,

and I have braved the highest sails.

Who then weaves for free-born spirits,

Brides who never don their veils?

50,000 miles traveled

There is no where left around

30,000 dollars earned

All was spent to every pound.

20,000 worldwide-people met.

No one is bothered to be found.

I saw one red rose reaching through the snow.

Life always finds a way to rise above,

to thrive,

to astound.