coil

In times like these a level head is needed now more than ever. And yet we have the opposite running countries. If you were to survey citizens across the world what it is they want in life, it would be food, education, health care, shelter and a fighting chance for the next generation or two to have the same things. And yet is it really human nature to make it so complicated that we have to struggle to maintain an even adequate standard of living? Why is it acceptable for the few who have amassed both money and power to continue to make more and more money so the rest have access to less and less? Is greed and power so much of an aphrodisiac that people lose sight of their humanity? I have news for you – we will die.

Death limits what we can take with us and makes things equal in the end. This begs the question how can one enjoy in a lifetime that amount of money totaling in the billions? And why is this acceptable? I remember the day when making millions was quite an accomplishment. Billions would take multiple lifetimes to spend. It’s not like that amount of money can stave off the inevitable. It will happen no matter what, and leaving a legacy at what cost? What makes this unacceptable is that there is a cost to be paid when individuals become this wealthy. Someone somewhere down the line that you and I will never see pays the price. Actually many are paying the price, whether it is in the form of low wages, child labor, unfair labor conditions or all of the above. Nobody is immune to paying the price when someone makes that much money – nobody!

What makes matters worse is that average folk think if that person can be rich so can I. People get sucked into the myth of, “I can be if I just say it is so and do it.” Truth be told it – it isn’t true. The unfortunate consequence is it becomes a dog eat dog world at the cost of humanity. A free for all where we step over one another and get what little pieces are left at whatever cost. And if you cannot hit it big, then the least you can do is put on airs by literally adorning yourself with the accouterments of the rich by buying name brands that proudly send a message of wealth or upward heading mobility – a facade. While at the same time amassing mountains of debt. Actually, if you think about it you are most likely simultaneously creating debt for yourself and paying the wealthy more and more. While you both will be leaving a legacy, the rich in an obvious way you will be leaving a negative legacy. And that is required to be paid off because thanks to the rich you have been paying have influenced politicians to enact laws that make you have to repay any debt accrued on a credit card or unpaid loan you may have taken out before you up and died.

Initially they will memorialize you and talk up a good game at the funeral. Funerals bring that out in people. When the food stops coming and the friends who were there for your family move on with their lives, your wife, husband or significant other are stuck with not only the memories of photos during poignant times in your life, but also with what starts out to be monthly credit card and loan bills. The legacy continues with unpaid bills accruing interest while they continue to grieve having lost sight of life. This is normal, but not to the bill collectors who begin to call weekly. Calls are answered to explain the extenuating circumstances. At first they lend a sympathetic ear. It is a false empathy meant as a form of manipulation as they connect to the grief. Really they are taking notes so that each time they call they wear them down. Over time the goal is to get them to pay so that they too can get their commission for a job well done. You see they are in debt just like your mourning family members. But they will never say anything because they pay their bills on time, they tell themselves each time they make a phone call.

No savings left and the calls are daily now. When will they start knocking on the door? Soon they repossess the car, then the furniture. I didn’t know my deceased rented the furniture. Makes sense in hindsight it looks too nice. The car, no not the car! Once that is gone there’s very little left except the house. Bankruptcy is the last option – A word that connotes disgrace and shame. Thing is they can no longer get out of it that easy. Thanks to your friendly neighborhood politician who come knocking on doors during the election season to get votes has voted not in their best interest. He sided with the rich who own the companies that make the most off of your still grieving family members. Declaring bankruptcy is not an option because the rich want what’s theirs – more money. The only way out is to follow in the footsteps of what you have started this in the first place. It’s killing them one way or another.

In the end how do you want to be remembered? By building a mountain of debt? Or living within your means?


Advertisements

It is quite amazing how our past experiences inform what we do and who we are today. We are not the same people and yet they do collectively make us into some sort of character. After watching a four part series on Punk Rock I was taken back to the days in which I was a punk and realize in many ways still am. Outwardly I struggled as a teenager with the usual being uncomfortable in my skin and internally with the raging hormones and philosophical battle of having grown up in a catholic family with all the guilt that came with it.

Along comes PUNK just at the right time. The words and energy conveyed in the music, and countless number of shows I attended were just what I needed to break free of the rules and all that shit that was bogging me down internally. It needed to be expressed. Fueled with music, energy from others and alcohol it was a perfect concoction. I still felt uncomfortable in my own skin, but I could blend in and let the music take me away. I spent countless hours lying on the floor of my bedroom with headphones on cranking and disappearing into the music. It was freedom. After a period of time the lyrics and attitudes associated with the movement sunk in and really became a part of me. I still had to sell out and do all that one needs to do to sort out what fits best in life, all the while being informed by my punk rock roots. I still had it. I had to go through the phases of feeling too young to be a punk, but knowing deep down I still had the attitudes without the look.

Fast forward many decades and the roots of my character are still connected to punk and have informed my decisions to not participate on certain levels any longer in the American dream, which I tried, corporate life, which I tried, car culture, which I have not done in quite some time and even paying taxes. I pay them, just not in the country of origin. I was on some level informed by the experiences of my punk days and the decision to move to Japan and no longer participate in the American culture. In Japan, as ironic as this may sound, I can blend in and not participate in the way that one would be expected if living in the US.

While watching the last segment of the punk series I was moved to tears (I know, how punk rock. In my defense I’ve softened with old age) listening to the older punks of my generation who still have the attitude, albeit with maturity. Some still look the part, not my cuppa tea, although I am by no means typical in the way I dress. As they were speaking I could hear how punk continues to inform the way in which they choose to live their lives, and on some level not participate in the typical way. I was also moved when I realized that I too am the same way with a modicum of wisdom and a whole helluva lot of life experience between then and now.

I would not have traded my punk rock experience for anything even knowing in hindsight how difficult and awkward it was at the time. I am grateful it continues to inform my life and besides that it is still great music I listen to.

What experiences inform your life?


I have been thinking about instinct lately. We all have it in and it comes in different forms. For some it is a feeling, others a voice and others see it in words or pictures. It really depends upon the type of character and how we are wired. I am sure most have experienced it and never knew what it was. I do think it is something that comes from the heart. And yet so often we all live in our heads intellectualizing everything. This may in part have to do with habit, and rather than feel it out, wait for an answer and guidance from the heart we go to our heads – a direct line to our egos. The result, we allow our egos to guide our lives. Then everything we do reinforces the stories of who we are, and we hold on to them throughout our life building up a fortress against instinct.

Instinct is a part of our lives and yet so often we squelch the feeling. Even if we get that inner urge, we turn away from it and put ourselves up in our heads. We get the feeling and then boom up in our head to intellectualize, justify, rationalize or defend. Of course I am speaking from direct experience. I realize these days that I really do not want to speak of anything I know nothing about. I used to be able to talk a good game about anything. I am finding it is more skillful to just speak of things I have experience with. It serves others because they can feel the place in which I am speak from. Just like building up a habit of avoiding instinct, we can find a way to get back to the place of the heart and develop a skill of paying attention to it. It takes work, practice and presence in order to be in that place. The key is to know how to discern when you are in your head or not. For me it starts as pressure and a feeling in the heart that eventually leads to words, but on occasion it can be visuals as well. And when it comes it feels like jumping into a river and riding the wave for as long it is meant to be. It is an invigorating feeling being in touch with the heart. It is a place I would like to live in as much as I can, and wish this for everyone. There is on occasion experiences of weak moments in which I want to please the intellect or what my friend in NYC would say, “the lower chakras.” I find that if I want to continue to do that, and it is my choice, then I would over time slowly squelch instinct by constantly overriding it.

I believe that many are out of touch with instinct for a variety of reasons. Everything from having dug a rut of habitual routine day after day and feel that is all there is in life and given up, others find that change is too difficult and say this is who I am and some have issues that need to be addressed to clear the wreckage of the past in order to let instinct see the light of day. It could be anyone of these or a combination. In my experience long ago I had to put down an addiction in order to start the process of getting in touch. It was a spiritual crisis at the time motivated by experiencing death first hand. Scary at the time, but in hindsight it was what was needed to wake me up. After settling down, I realized early on that it was all about the head and heart. Everything I have done up to this moment has allowed me to open up that portal to allow instinct to direct me. I must be in the moment and once I am out of it I drift ever so slightly away. And when I am off that beam I care just a little less for the world around. And who wants to live a life of not caring?


We are never alone. We never do anything by ourselves. We are all connected. If you think about how much we are all inter-connected we would be much kinder to one another. Take something as simple as a one single food group from a meal and trace the lineage of how it got to your table. It puts things into perspective. We have never ever done anything alone without someone’s help.

Let’s trace the path of the broccoli that I ate last night. First, there is the person who brought the seed to the farm. Next there is the person who planted the broccoli seed. How about the family who raised the person who brought the seed and planted the seed? If it were not for them these two people would not be doing what they are doing. Then there is the person who picked the broccoli and someone had to box it. Who made the boxes where did they come from? Then there is the shipping, whether local or from overseas, either by truck of plane. Who drove the truck or flew the plane? Then there are the people who made the truck or plane. Finally it arrives at the supermarket. Somebody unloaded and placed the broccoli on the shelves of your local supermarket. Oh and don’t forget the check out person. Think about all these people involved in broccoli!

I’ve tracked one food group on the plate that I had for dinner. Think about tall the food groups on the plate and every single meal you have eaten up to this moment of your life. That’s food. What about things? Try tracking the lineage of one thing. You begin to realize that nobody in the grand scheme of things is any more important than anyone else. And we are all in it together helping one another along. Most people do not think in these terms. I would say it is one of many reasons why there are so many narcissists and ego driven people in the world. As a result end up exploiting others for their gain knowing that they can get away with it. A person picking the broccoli to bring to the supermarket is as important as a CEO of a company. The only difference, the CEOs wrote the narrative in their favor.

Now I do not go around tracking the lineage of every item I come across. It is humbling knowing the truth that I have never done anything on my own and I am not important.

This brings me to the next point. What we do is not important. Yet, it is important we do it to the best of our ability with the fullest attention to mind and heart. Knowing we did the best we could makes the outcome less important. Putting so much attachment to being important both defines us and reinforces our story. What happens if a situation like a job changes? Because we were so wrapped up in the job we lose the story line and become lost. This is in large part the cause of depression, disease and the unwillingness for people to change. You can hear it in individuals if you pay attention to the words they choose and how they say it. You can hear it coming from that place of ego. It’s what I call the voice of attachment. Knowing that our true place in the world is on level par with everyone else, then it does not matter what happens. We are here to support one another. We cannot hold on to what defines us because it will change. We may mourn the change for a bit and then move on knowing something else will come along. And there will be others there to support you.