"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Patricide

As is typical, the preceding Waiting for the Miracle idea is mostly distilled from my own experiences, so there is one glaring caveat to the subject that I should address.

That sense of waiting is something that had just always been there. I have never had a real point of comparison so my cause may be different from someone else's, yet I know "waiting" isn't rare. I've seen it in several other people: it seems there comes a time, perhaps with the realization that time's no longer our friend, when we begin to see that the miracle just isn't coming and we'd better get off our asses and start looking for answers ourselves.


Reading Bly's Iron John the other night, it occurred to me that this habit stems from being raised without a father. For me, waiting for something became my reflexive second nature way back in disco-era antiquity! I didn't understand until recently, but I waited for an education on life and indoctrination into manhood for years. You know, coming from that silly thing parents do when they're not preoccupied with escaping their own shame and embarrassment: parenting. 

The idea of reparenting ourselves is something an old friend, Brian, mentioned long ago. I've touched on it a time or two, and it's a liberating task to accept: the act of relinquishing the victim title and reclaiming control of life from this point forward. 

I concluded long ago that, despite a historical sense of low self-worth, inadequacy, and rejection, I was truly lucky! Despite that lingering out-dated residue, I wouldn't change my history nor would I switch upbringings with any of my "new" siblings. The painful uncertainty and quietly longing for answers to what were seemingly unanswerable questions that followed me from adolescence thru adulthood has helped nurture a relentless sense of curiosity and a (usually) healthy skepticism/distrust of official narrative.

I only wish that, rather than wallowing in a hoping-for-the-best self-pity, I would have come to this 15-years earlier. I perhaps could have bucked my father's load of transferred shame and embarrassment by placing responsibility for what he is squarely upon HIS shoulders and internalizing the fact that I have nothing to do with his defects and am not required to carry their burden. My father was disconnected and distant before I was born and he clearly, by all accounts, still is. That trait wasn't conceived with me! 

6/09

Perhaps these judgments are unfair? Who can tell? I have no way of knowing and after everything that's happened over the last year-and-a-half, I'm defiantly invoking my observationalist right to draw conclusions based on what limited information I have. Spanning two visits, I've spent a total of 3-hours with my father in 40-years. That's resulted in exactly 3-pictures and a slideshow presentation.

In the meantime, I made it clear that I'd like to get to know him better via a letter and email, and even volunteered for unbelievable anxiety by agreeing to go to their family gathering before I had even met anyone in '09. He replied by saying that it would "make people too uncomfortable." Translation: "it would be too uncomfortable for me to acknowledge him in front of the family"; a family that already knew everything.

In return for these efforts I've gotten exactly nothing from him. Not one call, letter, return email. Nothing. In fact, I learned while I was at his place in '09 that, two-years earlier, and two-years AFTER my olive branch letter, he was across the country RVing literally five miles from my house. Sorry, but that's just too fucked up for me. What would you do? I have "done" enough.

Don't let my seeping, habitual, residual anger deceive you: whether my judgments are right or wrong, it was painful to concede that this will be the final story of my relationship with my father.

It's important to know where you come from, and my patriarchal genetic goo is not from the most noble of stock, and keeping the door cracked open is becoming tedious. Irrational, unanswered hope inevitably leads to anger. Whatever anger is left likely stems from extending the benefit of the doubt, exercising empathy, yet being constantly disappointed and unable to reconcile how someone in his situation could be so devoid of a sense of honor and possess such a staggering immunity to shame. Maybe there's more work to do here? Remind me to go into "identity" one of these days! 

There are people who preach that fathers are interchangeable and irrelevant. They're kidding themselves, at least regarding their sons. No, I wouldn't change much in my life, but showing someone how to be a man is still something no mother can do. And, it certainly shouldn't be left to TV and friends.  Cognitive Dissonance 101: reconcile that conflicting thought!

What's funny is how my mother, despite everything screaming to the contrary, holds to her story that he's "a good man" and speculates on what may have "made him that way." On the other hand, she rightfully takes a great deal of satisfaction in hearing me say, "I was lucky" especially considering how difficult things were financially (and otherwise) when I was a kid. 

I suppose that, despite not being raised by him, I have learned a great deal about how to be a father by vowing to be his antithesis and at least refraining from the task until I know I can be.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Waiting for the Miracle

Baby, I've been waiting,
I've been waiting night and day.
I didn't see the time,
I waited half my life away.
There were lots of invitations
and I know you sent me some,
but I was waiting
for the miracle, for the miracle to come.
I know you really loved me.
but, you see, my hands were tied.
I know it must have hurt you,
it must have hurt your pride
to have to stand beneath my window
with your bugle and your drum,
and me I'm up there waiting
for the miracle, for the miracle to come.
- Leonard Cohen

It seems as though some among us who are actively seeking their own answers are determined to seek their validation and enlightenment via mentors, sages, cultural shamans, or even personal saviors rather than through the experience of meeting the personal challenges required to win a hard-earned wisdom.


Perhaps it’s the genetic residue left behind from the village elders or medicine men, but it seems that, rather than finding it organically, many of us wait for answers from on-high; from someone who is "destined" to magically appear and “enlighten" us. It's as though we believe we're entitled to that miraculous revelation which then motivates us with "purpose" while illuminating both path and destination! Some choose to sit like an expectant child waiting for Father to deliver the miracle, as though the only fee required is idle patience! Pink Floyd: “Waiting for someone or something to show us the way.

Oh, to be that chosen Golden Child! I’ve been a believer of many things ranging from serendipity, to an internal voice, to something resebling Forrest Gump’s philosophy on fate. But each of us having our own personal Mr. Miyagi?

Mr Miyagi says: "Wax off, motherf***ah!"

For most mortals, it simply doesn’t work that way, and sometimes it seems that the Universe takes great joy in tormenting us for arrogantly believing it should! Ten years will eventually get behind you. If we’re not careful, we could indeed wait half our lives away slithering along, waiting, hidden in the grass of idle mediocrity.

Logically, this should be obvious but nothing human is logical. Beyond the stale, cliche platitudes repeated from books or TV (confusing the recital of someone else's quote for our own wisdom & enlightenment), we’re infantile in how ill-equipped we are for our own self-exploration! Rather than being taught to explore personal meaning, we're sucked into the Game of Consumerism, brainwashed into believing "stuff" provides a meaning to be taken seriously. Then, we're hysterically told our chronic Hole-in-the-Soul Syndrome is fake...but "Restless Leg Syndrome" is real! And, of course they're eager to sell you the pharmaceutical cure...for both!

To complicate things, our institutional indoctrination apparatus, the Ministry of Standards and Practices, works endlessly to distract, corrupt, and ultimately neutralize our natural curiosity by convincing kids that they are "irresponsible" or "immature" if they pursue a path of self-awareness or enlightenment; that they're antisocial or sociopathic if they somehow reject the assumption that the pinnacle of humanity is found via Wall Street!

If The Voice remains strong, the sense of "there's more" survives, and The Ministry's role as culture's Borg fails in its assimilation assignment, the entrenched status quo takes over to marginalize or, eventually, extract us from any meaningful role. We've seen repeated examples ranging throughout the "media" to Wikileaks and Julian Assange in recent months. The corporate and political power structures are working together to starve, isolate and assassinate his character so as to undermine and distract from the actual story. Ask what's left of the Tunisian and Egyptian governments how that's worked out!

There are a remarkable number who, sometimes even after years of trying, are unable to accept their demanded programming and simply withdraw themselves.  These are my people. Don't be mistaken in believing they're uncommon. But as we age and become more rigid, and even if we reject assimilation, the prospect of exploration leading to wholesale changes in life and philosophy can become overwhelming. Even after stepping onto our paths, we can end up frozen in bizarre conscious-comas; our souls trying to trigger new action but with atrophied spirits seemingly unable to respond!

Again, the seemingly simple and obvious fact is that, regardless of where we’ve come from, ultimately we ourselves are entirely responsible for who we are, and where we’re going. While that seems like simplistic common sense, and people generally embrace that sort of responsibility in their financial lives, our spiritual antennae are typically left in roaming mode. I believe that most are either numb, or desperately engaged in a tormented, silent search for a signal that's supposedly “out there” unaware that the path to these answers lie within and have little to do with any dogma bought and sold in the Sunday (or any other) Marketplace.

Limited guidance and shared experience may help, but no one can do the actual work for us. No one can dictate answers. No one can provide a manual or map. Any they could offer, even with the best of intentions, would be useless; they would be directions to THEIR house, from THEIR unique starting point, rather than to and from yours.


I loves me my similes and metaphors!
Furthermore, expecting divine intervention, especially via specially provided fate-based terrestrial saviors is a bit arrogant, don’t you think? It snaps me back to the hand-crafted snowflake self-image. When you dissolve the illusion of universal self-importance, it's necessarily deflating and by nature demands a mini-katabasis-- especially with someone playing the victim and under the assumption that the universe “owes” him for some perceived slight.

This whole process is devastating for someone ill-prepared whose identity is dependent upon their Blue Ribbon of Suffering. It's hard to be shown that we aren't any more divine than any of our six-billion neighbors so, perhaps, we should discard the “victim” placeholder, the expired Karmic Welfare Card, and commit to writing the story ourselves rather than waiting for someone else's script.

Mocking Your Own Voice

Realizing your own words, intentions, and assurances are trite, inauthentic, and insufficient is a brutal experience. I can tell you firsthand (and with multiple, recent examples) that nothing quite compares to the self-loathing, shame, and feelings of inadequacy that comes from the cold realization that your actions are suddenly and radically out of sync with your high-minded rhetoric!

I’ve seen this hit others and I myself have experienced both the long and short-term varieties over the years--as recently as September and December.

In my case, this is a generally a growth spurt and is usually preceded by a significant breakthrough or realization of some sort; something exciting. One from early '08 was particularly intense, happening in the months shortly following being fired from my last radio gig and committing to stepping out.

In each case the bar is raised. All the big ideas, plans, and grandiose proclamations suddenly stand in stark contrast to what is really happening. I mercilessly shred myself on a daily basis for a (properly) perceived laziness, hypocrisy and an apparent new willingness to embrace failure. I've concluded I am not doing nearly enough to live up to my own expectations and demanded action as accountability.

Enacting this “change” is much more difficult than imagining it, making it a long process. In a perfect world, our subconscious willingness to change our habits would stay in lockstep with (hopefully) evolving ideas and philosophies; our habits and attitudes would automatically adjust accordingly as we live, explore, and learn more about ourselves, the world, and our place in it. I’m discovering the hard way that this is not only Utopia-laughable, but its failure is apparently both accelerated and exacerbated by age!

My way out of these spells is in making sure to raise the bar and then sustain it by not allowing myself easy, familiar rationalizations, delusions, and excuses; demanding accountability. The vast majority of New Years resolutions are dead by the second week of the year--anyone can do something for a day or two!

Avatars and Cheese

Over the last two-years, there were numerous times I’ve caught myself making decisions so that the "story" would be better. The blog had become a bit of a hybrid creative-outlet/ego-feeder; something I too closely identified with. I liked the idea that I was doing something that others either couldn't do or were afraid to, and naturally that appealed to me! Telling the story has, at times, shadowed why I'm doing it. Nothing personal, but what I'm doing should have nothing to do with entertaining you!

Now, there is something potentially noble about allowing people to live vicariously through you. Maybe as a “what if” example; trying to share a vision of how to live a principle or trigger thoughts of how things could be “if only ‘X’ were different.” “X” can be anything you choose: marriage, kids, money, fear, or laziness. You’ll ALWAYS find an ‘X’ if you want to, and some folks count on that. "If only..." is often the crutch of the career victim.

Rather than taking actual steps ourselves, it’s safer to adopt avatars; to watch others do what we wish we could--while we, personally, risk nothing. How nice for the cowardly would-be adventurer to just ride along! Then, when that avatar inevitably stumbles, the couch-creature can then sing their own verses of disengaged brilliance! 

See how wise THEY were wise to remain safely rooted to the couch!

Or, perhaps when the avatar fails to meet their ever-increasing entertainment standards, the anonymous couch-creature can pretend he’s watching a reality show and, wallowing in the aforementioned cognitive dissonance, tell himself (with the benefit of hindsight) how HE surely would have done it differently--and much better! Chris tells of actually receiving hate-mail when he interrupted his cross-country walk! Hate-mail from a couch-creature who had attached their own personal meaning to his achievement!

I’ve encountered this vicarious mentality occasionally over the last 2 1/2 years, and even momentarily and disastrously fell into its trap last spring with Ray. In fact, I've adopted several avatars as hopeful mentors and standard bearers over the years. Those I've looked up to were either co-opted or became a huge disappointment under the weight of unfair expectations. Once people try move from idealism to implementation, standards and ideals often become secondary to convenience, convention, and self-preservation. People become captives of institution, slaves to doctrine, or simple mental masturbators.

I've traditionally elevated to a pedestal, sometimes unwittingly, those who show the courage to act on principle and accept the consequences rather than sit, speculate, wonder, then ask themselves a year later why life sucks and won't change. I've elevated those who question convention. I admire those that ask 'why?' and wont take "I said so' for a answer. However, it's been my experience that when I look up to someone either as an example or standard bearer, they, predictably, fail miserably in these roles because WE are the only ones who can legitimately set our own standards. We only do that effectively by living life in person.

Numerous people have told me how they would like to "do something like this” but, for numerous reasons, just can’t. At first, I was genuinely flattered and surprised at how some identified with what I was doing. Considering how long it took me to finally engage, I'd actually considered myself a coward!

"WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WEREN’T AFRAID?"

Only with the benefit of hindsight, I slowly realized that what I experienced in the years leading up to my hitting the road for the first time was something shared by everyone: fear.

I, myself, have had a habit of seeking out avatars to show myself that my ideas and visions were possible. Ironically, that’s how Chris and I originally met in 2004. I was living in Florida and he was in Denver at the time. In August of that year, I had rekindled the notion that the notion of life we’d been sold was maybe horseshit, and had a harebrained, cloudy, vision of setting out down the road with a backpack! I had yet to hear of McCandless or anyone else who had done it and, intimidated by the prospect, needed to see that it could be done, and that I wasn’t crazy! I did a web search about others who had done it, and found his website.

It’s no insignificant fact that it took 4-years for that vision to manifest. I tiptoed around the fringes, but never overcame the fears of “what if.” It was a long process, and made longer by my own laziness and refusal to accept full responsibility for who I was, where I was, and the future tenses of both. Chris initially served as a bit of an unwilling role model and inadvertent mentor; a guide as to the general direction I needed to take myself.

I intermittently battled fear (usually losing badly) from the day we moved from Taos to Denver early in ’05 to the day I stepped out in May ’08. It’s astounding for me to think back 5-years and recall the molehills I mistook for mountains! All along the way, fear was a constant companion and like everyone risking something, it remains my most tenacious sparring partner. The only thing separating myself was that I somehow stumbled from pretending fear shouldn’t be there--

  • to recognition, acceptance, and meek confrontation
  • to beating myself up, assuming its continued existence meant failure
  • to realizing it never “goes away”
  • then consciously working to act despite it.

The simple fact is that, despite all the rhetoric to the contrary, we’re all much more alike than we care to admit. Fear isn’t something ultimately “conquered.” Rather than a dragon to be slain, it’s closer to a game of Whack-a-Mole. With a ton of hard work and perseverance it can be befriended and controlled, but like the ego it never dies. Anyone who claims otherwise is a fucking liar. Tell ‘em I said so! When you reinforce one wall, fear simply sniffs out another one of our weakness and moves on.

With the right attitude, like many other things we prefer to avoid, fear can be our greatest self-investigative tool. For me, an enormous key was something I read shortly before leaving in ’08. It was a question asked in a cute little book called Who Moved My Cheese: “What would I do if I weren’t afraid?” That brilliantly simple little question shifts focus from "what if" to what we’re missing out on; from the unlikely negatives to the potential positives. Pursuing something you want is usually more effective (and far more enjoyable) than fleeing from the imaginary somethings you "think" are behind you the whole time!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Escapist Voodoo

To recap once again, after 2009s travels ended with Port Townsend, I settled into last winter by starting down a path that, quite frankly, I was unprepared for. When I jabbed my pen into Don Quixote, the notion that each of us silently deal in secret, disguised and silent self-delusion, I struck a mammoth vein of fool’s gold. I certainly hit something incredibly significant, but I was also stunningly naive about what it meant, and more foolish still in believing Freud’s Dragon wouldn’t turn on me!


CAVES 

Unfortunately, roads such as these come with neither maps nor disclaimers attached. The paths this brand of honest introspection inadvertently illuminate can lead to dark, frightening caves concealed deep within own own psyche. These are the places we are usually afraid to visit and rationalize away, even at the lowest of our most solitary, self-loathing moments. The ones spent silently trembling in dark corners, (hopefully metaphorically) weeping while we wonder why we are who we are, or what happened to who we were supposed to be. When we ask, "Why does the reflection in the mirror never measures up to what we see in our mind’s eye?" "Why do our words never echo those whispered in a frail voice into our mind’s ear?" We beg, in Pink Floyd's quiet desperation, for answers that are only be found locked inside these deep, dark, psychological caves.

I don’t know the specific clinical definition, but it seems clear that these caves harbor what seems to amount to a flawed, terrified, neglected, naked child: “Us.” The “us” we’re too terrified to acknowledge, or even a glance toward out of the fear that someone else will see it’s there, and recognize us as the frauds we (all) really are.  


Think I'm just cynical? Not so fast.

While we endlessly work building thick walls of vanity built with the materials of wit, charm, and achievement to assure "we" are kept sequestered far away from a world that just won't "understand", I believe the jokes on us. Would we, by freeing this metaphorical imprisoned self, ultimately be able to accept and embrace that we’re just as pathetic, flawed and insecure, just as fucked up, as everyone else? More importantly, I believe, would we then recognize that everyone else is secretly just as fucked up as we are? I’ve occasionally mentioned Santa Clausification, and this is it on an everyman scale. As Ray succinctly put it, “We’re all just flawed human beings” 

Along with psychiatry and Madison Avenue, I’ve concluded, much to my ego's chagrin, that we’re all much more alike than we’re comfortable admitting. I’m constantly astounded by the cavalier attitude, even acute allergy, toward understanding ourselves. It's as though we're either completely engulfed and mesmerized by our own fabricated bullshit, or simply incapable of internalizing the truth.

It's becoming apparent that, like the drunk sorostitute at her first frat party, we willingly buy the jock's loaded-line that we’re "special, unique, hand-sculpted snowflakes" righteously fluttering down from on-high. We buy the bullshit because, in the mundane experience of today's world, we desperately crave a sense of meaning, and purpose. We need to feel like something more than another car stuck in traffic or generic face in the crowd. Advertisers and societal/religious leaders have long understood and exploited this. That's why the most intoxicating and dangerous delusions sold throughout the "culture" are intentionally, and maliciously, tied to our self-image.

With that in mind, perhaps these psychological doors are locked for a reason. Maybe they’re designed to be pried open as a painful rebuke in response to brazen, ignorant naiveté and presumptuous arrogance (as I believe was my case), as a reward for the incredible amount of courage usually only mustered by those hitting what we glibly refer to as “the bottom”, or most honorably (and rarely) after an incredible amount of self-observation and honest introspection. Maybe that child isn’t a prisoner after all! Perhaps he’s held in protective custody! 

"WTF?"


THE ESCAPIST VOODOO OF RELATIVISM 

Of course, a sense of all this will lead to a glimpse at the gulf between who we THINK we are, who we WANT to be, and who we actually ARE. People often simply write their own convenient, subconscious  narratives, then reposition and peddle it as “their” reality. To me, it remains ridiculous to hope to justify that new-age Escapist Voodoo of multiple "realities."

J.H. Kunstler put it best, and there’s a reason I have this displayed at the top of my page: “The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn’t care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn’t “spin.” Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management.” 

In varying degrees, we're still the 5-year old who thinks that if he closes his eyes, his pissed off father will disappear. The problem is that it's a silent, internal process of self-delusion; dad's not there to smack us out of it.

The standard definition of Reality from Wikipedia: "...the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may APPEAR or may be THOUGHT TO BE." Reality is not something that's open to redefinition on the basis of convenient, skewed perception or a whimsical, egocentric interpretation-of-choice.

Relativity exists in matters of perceptions, interpretation, and opinions. But, PERCEPTION IS NOT REALITY. Like it or not, we’re not entitled to hijack the lone reality we all share with our own special snowflake of interpretation and perception. The only thing our interpretation and perception affects is how we alone experience our little sliver of reality. 

There is something that should be said about the limitations and variety of our perception. I equate it to standing on the beach looking at the ocean. Individually, we each only perceive a tiny piece of an unimaginably vast sea. Yet, thousands of others--each standing hundreds or thousands of miles apart--experience other seemingly unrelated pieces of the same body of water.

To claim a personal reality, in my opinion, is equivalent in arrogance to claiming ownership of the Pacific because your toes are dangling in Monterey Bay! To take is a step further, I also believe that enlightenment--which is a DESTRUCTIVE process; the stripping away of false perceptions and untruths--alters perspective the same way a rising altitude alters your scope of vision. The higher you ascend, the more you can observe and interpret.

This was neither the first nor will it be the last time I've been forced to reevaluate and deconstruct an antiquated, suddenly obsolete self-image. The more I learn and observe, the more MY OWN defenses wither. I figured the Don Quixote path would empower me, not make me more vulnerable.

I should be thankful for that, and I am, but at the end of the day I wasn't prepared for it. I've said numerous times that there are days I'd put Don and his insights back in his bottle and return to my state of mystically ignorant bliss if I could! What I've learned and used as a tool against others has come back to feed on me. I've also come to realize, much to my dismay, that truth does NOT always come with peace & contentment. Truth is like nature in that it has no interest in your particular well-being. Truth owes us nothing but itself. Truth could care less whether or not we're prepared to handle it!

Today, there are fewer & fewer rationalizations to crouch behind. As a result and as I said before, that experience has helped me to at least grasp the philosophy of inter-connectedness. We all feed on and/or affect each other in some way.  Profound....

Nosce Te Ipsum
γνῶθι σεαυτόν
Know Thyself

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winter Quarters 2010-2011

Colossal, dramatic changes are kicking in the door and suddenly time is very limited. Although I sincerely want to tie all of 2010 together, I haven’t due to a peculiar (and extended) incoherence. Now, I no longer have the luxury of spending days on end attempting to perfectly articulate a detailed play-by-play.

By way of comparison, 2010 was sparsely “written up” relative to ’08 and ’09. Don’t be mistaken in thinking that’s because it was uneventful! After my time with Ray and my sister in California way back in March, in retrospect the year was spent alternately struggling to process and avoid excruciating revelations, conclusions, and connections. The last few months were spent finally reconciling all of them.


I spent most of 2010 comparing it with 2009 which I saw as an assumed apex of this Quest simply because of its collection of positive and dramatic experiences. Between April’s Veggie Bus and September’s meeting of Andre and visit to Port Townsend, 2009 held everything: adventure, intense personal discovery, new friends and, of course, my father’s family--relatives whose existence, until then, was viewed in the sole context of a decades-old maternal myth.

In many ways, I was trying to relive 2009. Once again, I spent June and July in Michigan only to discover, as I’ve described it ,“that well had soured.” Every place I returned in 2010 felt wrong with one notable exception: Brian’s. Interestingly, Brian’s was a place that felt odd in 2009, but it bore massive fruit this year. Apparently, we initially got the year wrong!

Cognitive Quixote 

While at Brian’s, I learned that my little Don Quixote idea was far from an original. In fact, I came to find that it has a psychological cousin named Cognitive Dissonance. While I was introduced to it during that month at Brian’s, I admittedly have not tried to make a full academic study of it because I’m still skeptical of clinical psychology in many ways! However, what I have learned clearly shows that cognitive dissonance and Mr. Quixote are major focuses of study and significant factors in each of our lives.

As I understand it, the basic idea is that we allow ourselves to believe whatever alleviates the anxiety created by holding simultaneous and conflicting thoughts and protects an internalized point of view, including that of ourselves. For example, it seems cognitive dissonance is the Neuronet Highway by which otherwise goodhearted Christians travel to rationalize judging and abandoning their community’s poor as "freeloaders"...despite their Bibles.


People predictably lash out with a vicious indignation when confronted with the idea that maybe, just maybe they subconsciously lie to themselves in order to eliminate these disconnects. It's imperative to remember that this is NOT a conscious process. It’s closer to breathing! While it’s typically easy to identify in others, what IS difficult is pinpointing it in ourselves. I say difficult in the emotional sense; the specific examples are everywhere; socially, this is the garden where religion and political ideology flourish.

How many would survive an honest reconciliation of our private ego/self-image with the raw, unfiltered reality? 

How devastating would the psychological shock be if our cognitive dissonance switches were suddenly flipped off and we were held naked to a mirror? How many could withstand the seeing their true reflection? While that may seem a pretentious question at first glance, I ask with good reason.

Through the exercise of meeting random people and watching, observing, and offering insights into our conversations and experiences, a peculiar thing happened. I've discovered that my insights were rooted in and stemming from myself. Unplugging from the Matrix and interacting with the world as it really is, you can reconnect with the heartbeat of humanity.

That being said, I've only recently come to finally understand the notion of "oneness" that many eastern religions speak of. We each act upon and affect each other. By observing you, I observe myself. By helping her, you help yourself. By encouraging him, you encourage yourself...by tearing them down, you cripple yourself. You don't need a PhD in Karma to understand that, although I was a little slow on the uptake.

Along with New York and intense couple of weeks in Boise, that was my summer. After spending March-October mostly out-of-touch, Chris and I reconnected and spent a couple weeks comparing notes when he joined us for Thanksgiving. While his specifics are different, the subtext of our individual 2010s are stunningly similar. I'll let him spin his own yarn, but this reunion, while lacking in high-wire drama, was quietly remarkable and subtly earth-rattling.

Winding Down?

The coming posts won’t entertain or inspire the typical McCandless Cultist Adventure Reader, but they should clarify, add continuity, and if you have followed with interest over the last three years, I'd think you'd find them relatively intriguing. Although I still enjoy writing, they may also mark the end of my little blog.

I originally intended the first incarnation of my blog to simply replace mass-emails to the handful of people concerned with where I was! At the outset, it never occurred to me that I had an interest in nor aptitude toward writing. That clearly changed with Dennis, when I figured out that the traveling might transcend just myself, and that I had something to say.

Since then, I’ve been compelled to offer my personal experiences, errors and all, as a way of encouraging others to introduce themselves to themselves. I hoped to both embark on and encourage an honest look at how WE wanted OUR life stories to read at the end. I hoped my experience would encourage an honest inventory into what our lives really are and how they align to who we really are and what we really want. Does our reality sing in tune with our internal voice? Somewhere along the way however, the message’s entertainment value took a subtle priority over the voice's message. I had become as concerned with how you receive the melody as the authenticity of lyrics.

That ends now.

I don't have a complete, coherent philosophy or ideology to offer; I also reject that it’s my role to provide it for you! Just as my politics have gone from liberal, to mildly conservative, and back toward liberal, my ideas are always evolving. I have strong opinions, but they're further molded by each new experience. Only the fool preaches an empirical, immobile philosophy; only the bigger fool follows him. These fools are employed in the arts of buying or selling rhetoric and propaganda rather than truth. 


For some folks, Shake n' Bake religions work just fine just as being a cubicle-dwelling cog in a machine is fine for others. Even with concrete answers, as Hermann Hesse wrote in Siddhartha, while knowledge can be conveyed to another, wisdom cannot. It sounds like ridiculous nonsense to a listener without the benefit of the speaker's contextual experience.

This is something expressed in Plato’s Cave Allegory. If the escapee returns to free his comrades from their cave with tales of what’s “out there”, the isolated cave dwellers will ridicule, possibly even kill their would-be rescuer. Rather than embrace a new hopeful paradigm, and due to their own inability to comprehend anything beyond their limited view of The Matrix, they will simply belittle the message and lynch the messenger! I’ve seen the predictable look of bewildered, disdainful mockery in response to my feeble explanations more times than I care to recall. I’m usually expecting the “get a job” cliche’ to follow!

One thing that I DO believe passionately, and that's not changed one iota, is that the reason we cannot simply "become wise through someone else" is because we are designed with the primal need to ask and answer our own questions. We each must learn for ourselves, and thank God! I believe this is the calling disguised-as-disquiet that so many sense, and so few answer. I also believe this to be the nexus of the familiarity some feel toward what I'm doing.

That’s been my winter. How’s yours?