The Great Howl

From the desk of A.J. Wulf

I was exiting a grocery store in the Pacific Northwest of the USA today, and my ear holes were suddenly filled with a cacophony of animal cries such as I had never heard before.

The hounds all intertwined their call as it bounced off the low income housing tower and the adjacent city courthouse where the local government welds its power in the hot July air.

The scene before me was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Being a primary collector of experiences during my sourjorn here on this gorgeous planet, I was immediatly as enthralled as a 34-year-old man in gym shorts, flip flops with socks from the workout and a pair of sunglasses to block out the other people could be.

An SUV was crusing through downtown with all of the windows down. There were over five doggoes with their furry heads sticking out of the windows. They were the ones creating the sounds.

The SUV was following behind an ambulance with it’s lights on but no sirens. The pain in the pets outcry to the cold city was evident. It didn’t take a genius to understand what was happening. Whoever was in the back of that ambulence was cared for by the creatures of this planet.

Also, given the ambulance’s lack of rush, a sad ending was probably on the horizon for another one of us humans.

Without being able to do anything other than make conjecture and take in this wailing, mournful scene, I was immediatly transported back to my own ambulatory experience from years ago on my own timeline.

I wasn’t in the back, I was sitting shotgun, being far too shook to drive and having just barely grabbed a backpack, some important documents, then jumping into the emergency vehicle. All I could think of during that siren escorted ride was:

“GOD! Imma stop fuckin behaving if You fuckin take her from me.”

…and…

“I’m gonna beat the shit out of this ambuluance driver because he won’t stop talking to me about my work, but that’s probably a bad idea, because he’s driving.”

It was almost like he was trying to keep me calm. But the reality could have been closer to the fact that he had seen so much by then that his baseline for existing in an alarmed state was absolutely higher than mine was.

Regarding the alarming first thought I was screaming over and over again in my head, I made a note to check in with myself because it sounded like I still believed in the god I had been taught, and I was making some heavy meaning out of what that idea of god might be. In the immediate sense, I was out of my mind with adrenaline as we whisked past previously familiar sights that had taken on an odd and unexpected sense of doom and gloom.

At the hospital, I signed the several thousand dollar contract for the ambulance ride as her body was wheeled into the tower. Later, after she woke up and no doctor could tell why or what had happened, I also signed papers for the police that stated I hadn’t been the perpetrator of whatever had happened to her.

That was standard procedure for when a male came into a hospital with an unconcious female, because we actually are the greateast nation on the planet right now and our “culture” is the best.

I didn’t like what I learned that day and weekend. But what I learned I was reminded of today when I watched the scene of the ambulance parading in front of my eyes today, and it occured to me to share it using the internets:

Life is finite.

It used to scare me, but lately I have been embracing it. Obviously it hurts more for those who are still alive than to those who have passed on when it ends.

Idea: “Live the life you want to live.”

It’s simple, but its complicated.

For starters, the God I was trained to worship in my youth turned out to not be real. So luckily, my rebelious outburst to try and threaten the big white man in the sky who controlled all money on Earth and was constantly stalking me to decide if he should burn me for eternity or give me a big mansion with a driveway made out of gold turned out to be just a sick fantasy perpetuated by men who liked to stalk children, wanted money, a big mansion and a driveway made out of gold.

Phew! Obvious lucky break on my part.

If you want to know more about what an Adriel thinks about the western Judeo god concept as perpeuated by the older males around him in the United States of America, then please refer to my current blog series “The Mind Manual.”

Suffice it to say that, in my mind right now, the powers that be are the powers in me.

They say that a half-baked idea is dangerous, and I agree.

However, I hate to break it to all the “fix your life in 60 seconds with these 12 simple steps” entrepenuers out there, but life is a process. And complex ideas take time, energy, READING, and writing to convey. Suffice it to say that I will expand on ideas as I write until I die.

Also, I feel the need to point out that I know it is not nice to tell children that Santa isn’t real. Because Santa brings hope and healing to a lot of people. But I assure you, the god I am talking about here in The Land of the Free (I’m not kidding, I love it here) is not used to help and heal. It’s actually used to murder and rape for the most part. Then it is used to protect those who murder and rape.

But really, why would you care what I think if you are truly convicted of your own beliefs?

3 years ago, I met a man with conviction. He is amazing and effective. He asked me 3 questions once from the other side of a handmade table in a workshop where he crafted beautifully functional objects out of the trees. The carpenter asked if I believed in the God of Creation and I said words that led him to ask three very strategically worded and sequenced questions.

I didn’t get passed question two before he casually glanced over at me and saw me for who I was through the sawdust dancing in the sunlit air.

“Ah, so you lack conviction,” he said.

The summary of the conversation that followed for the rest of that day (it was years after the ambulance ride) took place walking through the forest surrounding that man’s home and can be boiled down thusly:

Him: “You’re aware of what happens to men who say they are one thing but do not think and do actions that line up with what they say.”

Me: “They become twisted statistics.”

Him: “Yep. Want to go eat some deer?”

Me: “Yep!”

We’ve been friends for life ever since.

He’ll make a nice jab out of it every now and then, and I love it.

For example, he’ll say something like:

“God, I wish there was a manual to life, right? I mean, I guess I have one, right. But you don’t.”

Then he’ll wink and say, “must be hard.”

Then we’d get back to playing with his kids.

I understand that a lot of you have very precious beliefs about various gods and monsters, and I respect the fact that you get to build the world you love and I would never fuck with that…in person…because that’s rude.

In addition to spending the rest of my life in the practice of observance, I have an additional service I practice: offering whomever I am speaking with the safe and empty space to be whatever they may be. I’m not interested in if I happen to agree or disagree anymore. I do not think in “right or wrong” as much as I humanly can even if I haven’t had my coffee or wine that day. I am fully interested in simply observing what “is” there in you/your way of being.

This weird way of walking through life like a young boy with a backpack and a notebook enthralled with gazing at the ball of energy surrounded by aura that “is” each and every one of you beautiful creatures is my favorite reality to interact with.

Redirecting so as not to get murdered over here…

The beautiful pink assline of existence that I want to convey to you now is simply this:

Howl.

Howl at whatever you feel you need to howl at. There is no right and wrong in and of itself, only consequeses of actions taken in this beautfully imperfect form. There is a complex network of feelings, vibrations, emotions, ideas, and general meaning making that we are all choosing to participate in on a daily basis and I love it.

But, if I want you to walk away from this blog post with one thing it is this:

Your existence is what you choose.

Find your passion, embrace it, and don’t give a shit about what anyone else thinks.

To be honest, I do actually give a shit about what seven people on this planet think of me, and that is because I love them. I’m playing with an eighth, but that, like everything else outside of my body on this planet, is out of my control. Like “here’s my life in exchange for yours because it’s cool if you ask for it” love them. I’m not going to address which of you make up the eight for two reasons:

One of them is under seven years old and I value what he says the most, so how could you compete with that?

…and…

Why do you care what I think?

This second point opens up what me as my human mechanism of flesh, blood, electricity, sentience, and vat of bubbling chemicles that processes life through five untrustworthy senses and occasional breath-of-fresh-air that is the intangable sixth sense has chosen to believe what I believe love is…”is”:

small secret: love is simple acceptance to me.

Through that chosen lense that I get to look at life through: I love thousands of you. Literally, becuase I’ve met thousands of you, and I love, appreciate, and accept most of you.

Love plus interest in what you have going on in your life narrows that scope exponentially, and, again, why would you care if you are truly convicted about your beliefs?

Why would you care? Why would I?

Love plus interest plus loyalty from me narrows the scope even more, but many of you have that.

Again though, isn’t that just a pleasent co-incidence of atoms and thoughts colliding in a delightful way?

Love (again, as acceptance) plus interest plus loyalty plus sexual attraction is the rarest of all magically combined beautiful beasts of burden, and a very elusive dragon/dove/druid who always helps to create a wild time, when encountered during this passage through life.

The way I put it to my buddy the other day while we were sitting by the river was something like:

“It’s like I deliberately build up my resources, stabilize and balance, then get bored. So I throw The Castle doors open , run outside and yell, “Magnificent Witches! My castle is balanced and in order! I have labored long and hard in order to create order where there was once chaos! Come fuck up my life, please!!”

When in reality, I should be writing 😉

I don’t expect relationship permanence to happen again in my lifetime, but if it does, I’ll be screaming about it for eternity, until I die, as I assume most of you married people are right now.

Like…you chose that person on purpose and not out of fear of existence, right? 😉

It’s because I believe your actions, and I secretly expect that you believe my actions, that I assume that. What else can I do? I take as much at face value as I can, because life is already plenty complex.

Because we are our actions. Because we cannot control anything outside of ourselves no matter how hard we try to trick life. Because we are all on a journey to discover our own nature from birth to death.

But time is linear as experienced on this plane, so who am I to conjecture about the future? (I’m being sarcastic. You, me, and all the other funny monkeys spend most of our time, currency, and attention towards conjecturing about the future. Turns out there’s actually good money in it, too. Have you ever payed an analyst or therapist? But wouldn’t it be great if we just settled in the moment, the only moment that we can actually experience, and just live?)

I wish I could stop doing that.

But I choose not to. I fucking love the business of life. The business of business in the “Life and Times in These United States” (check your old Reader’s Digest copies if you are unsure as to this reference, a publication I had regular access to in addtion to “The Bible” and “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs” in addition to the weird shit that John Eldredge cranked out, “Wild at Heart.” Remember kids, men “want to be dangerous” and that’s something that we should feed in our hearts.)

Btw, have you heard “Zombie” by the Cranberries or the Bad Wolves?

Don’t worry, I found the “secular” library.

Since I have found out what is reasonable for me to expect out of life, I have accepted that the creation of my own reality is my own sole, and most important, responsiblilty.

It’s a lot of fun to play with if you get the chance.

Now for something less fun, because I can still hear the howls of the hounds in my mind.

Most men are biolocially and evolutionarily programed to murder and rape. You know, the way that they kill everything they hate and destory everything they love.

Btw, have you heard “We Broke the World” by Fast Friends?

I’ve been on jobsites where workers verbally called for the death of the dog who was barking incessantly. Remove the “inconvenience” by removing it’s life. Looking for sustainable solutions that honor the life of the living is something most males just can’t be bothered with right now.

I’ve know men who are murderers (ex-cops mostly) and men who are heroes (ex-cops mostly). I’ve had my life threated by a boy with a gun (over a woman, of course) (by a guy who later joined his brothers in law enforcement). I laughed, by the way. If I get shot, I get shot. Every man who kills without righteous vengeance is doomed to stare into the mirror at a murderer for the rest of his existence. There’s a doom I want no part in.

I’ve known men who have blown their brains out with guns later. I wish I would have known that the last time that I talked with those men was going to be the last time that I was going to talk to those men. I used to talk to a man who later killed himself with a plane. He hijacked it all by himself and then took the whole thing down in the Pudget Sound in a dark stinking fireball.

“I didn’t know there was something wrong until now,” he stated over the radio.

That was alarming.

I’ve known a handful of men who drank themselves to death, of course.

Once a party went sideways back in the original 2020 Pandemic. A young single man started running up to us and screaming:

“Put a bullet in me, I’m serious!”

My brother locked himself in the man’s room for two hours. They shared songs together. You see, my blood brother has the uncanny knack of picking the exact song from the ether that matches your thoughts, then turning them back to the light.

While this particular magic was going on, I was helping my buddy remove every gun from out of the house. There were way over a dozen. As we loaded them up into a trailer to be locked away, all my happy ass who had confronted untimely death years ago in my childhood and said, “nah, brah,” could do was yell a quote from the satirical film “Walk Hard: the Dewey Cox Story”.

“Goddamn this is a dark fucking period!”

When the young man was released from my brother’s effective spell, the man ran to me and I held him as he cried onto my shoulder for an hour. It wasn’t the cuddles kind of hold in my arms. It was the “my muscles are fighting with your muscles for no reason because you’re fighting yourself dude” kind of hold in my arms. Oddly enough it reminded me of the time my father cried into my shoulder a decade before. Later, I felt that same “struggle snuggle” from a woman who wanted me to act as though I was raping her while we were making love.

I greatly disliked that.

I understand life is hard. And I have wide shoulders. I get it.

A couple of the men I have made out with have had that same aggression on aggression approach to expressing affection. I suspect this is out of comprehensible desperation. While I do believe that all humans are technically bi-sexual by nature, but we are trained otherwise by nurture, I have been slow to zero miles per hour when it comes to engaging in the full on Greco Roman life right of romping with the beautiful men around me. Could be because I am loathe to add another complication to my life. Could be because biologically our sexual preferences flex, ebb, and flow. Could be as simple as the fact that women make me work for it so it’s more fun for me.

Switching gears…

How many guns do I own? Gee, mister government man who is reading this, I wish I could help you, but I must have lost every single one. Nice try. I actually allegedly have a handgun in my possesion now that was willingly given up temporarily by a man who suddenly no longer trusted himself with it. What does that tell you about humanity in the United States at this time?

Btw, have you heard “Foolish Games” by Jewel?

I know very little, and I have to say that for one main reason:

I’ve watched far too many fat men behind pulpits sweat and scream into a microphone about what and who they know and what that “means” regarding how you should exist. This is because those who are the most afraid yell the loudest about what you “should” do.

People who are afraid and want to take your personal wealth and freedom will tell you to do things that you don’t want to do.

Unfortunately for us all, these loud mother fuckers with microphones drown out the many voices of reason, peace, and knowledge that can be found here and there in the loud fucking echo chamber that is the unchecked internet and human mind.

(See: why do we need to tell our elders to be careful what they read online if they are so smart?)

Getting back to the stupid point: most boys in my beloved America (it really is pretty nice in a lot of ways, I fucking swear, everyday) are born trained to believe two things: That they already are experts at how to shoot and how to fuck. This is directly connected to the nature and nurture behind the impulse to murder and rape.

I encourage you to march to your own drum. I invite you to investigate your own thoughts on life.

The Flobots say “There is a war going on for your mind. If you are thinking, you are winning.”

Btw, have you heard Huey Lewis and the News? It’s actually quite hip to be square.

Fuck. Let’s not waste time: I absolutely want you to howl.

Howl at the pain and pleasure of existence on this planet. Howl at the fact that science and supersition are at war, no matter which side you absolutely-beautiful-in-your-own-right-dumb-fuckers choose.

When it comes to killing what you hate and destroying what you love, I have this stunning advice:

don’t.

Personally, I live in a beautiful place in my mind that is sometimes complimented by the beauty that I find around me in this real world. I enjoy staring at clouds and imagining that they are my thoughts so I can see them float by. I like watching rivers and conceptualizing how they are representitive of the fact that I can only see so much of my life and exsitence – the part that is in front of me – and I have no real idea or accurate conceptualization of where it came from or where it is going.

I love that shit.

In related news, a strong network is advisable as we experience the collapse of democracy in our beloved country. There are wonderful people out there. You know what a buddy I have said to me on the phone because he was out of the state?

“If he says anything about suicide you drag him into the ER. I’m sorry you have to deal with this, I love you.”

I love that shit, too. 😉

In related news: did you know that it is far easier to take a female to a facility that is equipped to handle suicide risks than it is to drag a male to one? Follow me for more fun facts about life.

For those of you who are fellow intellectualls who may be kindly growing conerned for my sanity, please know that I occasionally visit a therapist and I never lie to them, as far as I know. The feedback I recieve after spilling my guts is usually along the lines of: you’re smart, keep writing. I solemly swear I have never masturbated or climaxed to that thought.

The point is that the men who are teaching me about the business of business (that and the facinating fake fuckery that is the global stock market, both being my latest obssesions that I fill many of the long hours of the life with, when I’m not laying in a particular hammock staring at the blue sky “watching for aliens” or diving into reading, writing, walking, and watching movies with my gentlepeeps) are teaching me to think in the form of percentages.

With that in your and my mind now, let’s check out the big board:

In my previous life, 50% of the women that I know told me about the first time they were raped. Now, that number has increased to over 80%. What does that indicate about the males that I’ve known?

Don’t worry, I know a lot of people and I’m sure I’m not talking about you.

I’m just that guy who is trustworthy, keeps secrets, and lets nearly all people live that life that they want to live. You know, because I’m not a rapist or a murderer. I’m just as suprised at the lowness of the bar for penis-bearing individuals as perhpas you are. If you are a woman, I am aware that you are not suprised.

The whispered secrets in the dark are a special kind of gift from The Universe. Every act of love is an act of trust. I am grateful for trust. Do you know how long it takes some women to choose to trust me?

Forever for most, and that’s a good thing, considering the world we have all created.

I appreciate that for what it is.

Did you notice how the women that tell me what happened to them regarding rape almost never tell me who did it? I did. That’s because they trust I am not a male who rapes, but they are still unsure as to wether I am a male who murders.

Btw, have you heard “Goodbye Earl” by The Chicks?

If you’d like to read more about the negative side effects of what I call The Divine Masculine, look for my upcoming book I wrote the majority of years ago called “Heartbeats” about a psychopathic sociopath assassin named Wallace Black who stalks his prey at night and chants this little ditty in his head: “men are built to rape and kill, all else is human will.”

He’s very skilled at his work.

Regarding how men are taught that they know how to shoot and fuck from birth and don’t need any help: I fixed that.

I asked four different men in my life to teach me how to shoot, and I was taught how to make love by women. The first one was due to the fact that I live in AMERICA! and we couldn’t collect back all the guns that we made even if we tried, so I think it’s better to know how to use the weapon than to deny it’s existence. You know, because there are documented psychos out there. The second one becuase that’s just a good time. Seriously, you should ask in the bedroom, you dumb fuckin idiots. I only throw that last dig on you males in because of the feedback I’ve been privy to regarding what some of you have done in the bedroom. Seriously, read a Cosmo magazine boys, or just do the responsible thing and ask.

Sex and death aside, my life is filled with reading, writing, and growing things as much as I can. I’ve stared too long at angry men behind a pulpit demanding that poeple believe in the monster they created in their mind. It’s dangerous because by beholding, we become changed.

I’d like to point out that according to most Christian’s own Bible, god was killed by some of the religious leaders and zealots, not the “unbelievers.” Also, after the thousands of religous men I’ve talked to and spending thousands of dollars and a year at one of the most prestigious religious universities in the US of A, whose name we shall not speak; that I have met just one truly convicted Man of God in my life. He lives as far away from you all as he can and I love everything about him.

The rest of you are playing a weird, dark, and dangerous game of emotional exchange, money gathering, and perceived woman controllling.

So, what do I want?

I want you to howl.

I want you to find your passion and dive all the way into it.

I want you to know yourself.

I want a world full of authentic expression.

I want you to fully embrace the beauty that you have.

I want you to be imperfect.

I want you to want you.

My role in this existence?

I just want to watch.

And then I’ll write about it.

This is my contribution to the Great Big Beautiful Howl.

The pic is of The Buck moon in July of 2022. I know, it looks like the sun. Isn’t that cool?

The Mind Manual: The Fall

A Story Based on Actual Emotions

You were unconscious, like you had been during your first memory on this planet, but you were aware. The church pew that had knocked you out of your mind when you were five held more symbolism than you could have imagined before that moment. You were almost to the ground floor of being aware of The Maze.

The fall was long, but was also outside of the regulations of time and space. You didn’t know what you didn’t know, but for some reason you knew all that you would know as you fell. Your black sweater and smug smirk couldn’t save you, and you only saw things as they were as you dropped into the vortex of timeless self-awareness right before hitting the floor.

You didn’t know you were about to hit the floor, of course, because that is the way of things. Everything around you was bright and almost symbolic and comical in nature. It was like skydiving into a rock quarry that you had no idea was going to contain so much brightness and so much sadness at the same time. You also did not know that your parachute and hand glider and prayers to remove the cup that was placed before you was going to be denied before you hit the grey slate bottom.

Your fall was filled with images that were incomprehensible and mysterious, but they were true. As the wind nearly blinded your hearing and the scenery got more crystal clear than anything you had seen before, you took them all in even though you would forget them later.

You whisked by The Man with the Most Mastered Mustache. He turned to you while carving his own sink out of the rock face and smiled.

“You’re going to hate what’s going to happen to you next, but later you’ll see it as the golden egg you didn’t know you laid!” The Man with the Most Mastered Mustache said.

You waved even know you didn’t know why and you knew you would always have a deep emotional connection to him.

You flew by the The Dragon with the Golden Heart. She was scaling the walls of the rock cavern.

“I’m sorry but you I know you’re free now!” she yelled with the smile through tears that only you had known.

You had no idea what that meant but your heart appreciated it more than you would ever know, and yet you knew it in that moment.

The wind continued to roar around your ears.

Foxifus was tending to a pumpkin seed by composing and then singing a song to it and looked up as you whizzed by his precarious position on a cleft of the rock wall that surrounded you.

“Your path will always lead you to more responsibility, and I’ll never understand that. But I love you and know you more than anyone else brother.”

You started to cry but you didn’t know why. The tears from your face floated out in front of you because you were still falling and the water droplets from your face turned into different colors and you still didn’t know why.

The King Commander of Compassion barely looked up from the machine he was building and would continue building until his end of days.

“Happy, healthy, and wealthy, Hero!” he yelled before getting back to his work.

“I know you!” you yelled before he dissipated into the the mist and you continued to plummet.

You looked at your arms and hands in front of you and took in the contrast between their pale yet tanned color and the blue sky filled with clouds above. That’s when you saw the rocket ship you had fallen from. You saw the dark underbelly of the ship. It was crawling with dark, hungry worms that were about to eat through the guts of the vessel.

Suddenly, you were thankful to the Mysterious Force that had pushed you off that rocket ship. The air around your ears roared so loudly that you that the only thing you could hear was that one thought. You just wished you could have remembered what the face of that Force had looked like.

“I’ll see you on the inside!” The Lady of the Lake yelled, looking up from a small gardening shed was building along side the rock pit’s side.

The sun refilled your eyes and you smiled back, fully not knowing what she meant, but you knew it would be nice.

The skin on your arms in front of your face began to turn black and was peeling off your arms. Small red embers began to float away from the lit ends of the burning flakes of your arms’ skin and reflected in your eyes. Yet the sun still continued to shine.

“I’ll see you in heaven,” The Juan nodded then grinned as he kept adjusting a gadget he held casually in his hand before returning it to his pocket.

You recognized something in his eyes and half smiled as you continued to plummet. You weren’t sure how fast you were falling, but The Juan poked his head over the ledge he had been hiking on and looked down back at you.

“Your arms are gonna be okay,” he winked and chuckled.

“What?” you yelled back, but he just shook his head and smiled.

The roar continued and the falling sensation took on a sense of you forever living in that terrified space. You began to scream as the embers crawling across your arms suddenly engulfed your hands.

The Muse looked up from her book she was reading on the cliff face while sitting in a multicolored lawn chair. Peaking over the work pages, her bright piercing eyes flashed your soul.

She yelled after you as you neared the end of your plummet, “THOUGHTS ARE CLOUDS!”

And then there was silence.

Some time later, you didn’t know how long, you awoke to only ringing in your ears. The darkness around you matched the dark blank space that had encapsulated your mind’s eye. You reached out and felt the cold, wet surface of the black rock upon which you had landed.

Hours, days, months, maybe even years passed. You had no way of knowing.

The Mind Manual: The Departure

A Story Based on Actual Emotions

After your eyes were open and you were a walking vessel of empty, you didn’t know that it was about time to fill it. Re-setting at zero was good and felt good, but nothing stays nothing for long.

Within every human is a void. Voids get filled, whether you are deliberate about it or not.

You were about to drop through the void inside you and enter The Maze. It was a maze of the mind, but you didn’t have the manual yet. It wasn’t that you didn’t want to know, you just didn’t know.

You are about to embark on an adventure full of adventure, mysteries, and witchcraft.

At least it will appear as witchcraft at first, as most things do before you understand them. As you glided happily on the rocket ship that you thought had blasted you into a new dimension of being a human on planet Earth, you had no idea that things were about to get weird.

You were wearing a black collared sweater and holding on to the nylon straps of the vessel you were riding, smiling at everyone around you. You looked down and saw the terraform pulling away into the distance. You thought you were untouchable and finished with the race of life.

You were smugly resting in the relief that you had found from the freedom to be self-expressed.

You didn’t know that you were only self-expressed to yourself. You didn’t know that self-realization was just the last step to doing what really mattered: creating and leaving something better for the next humans. You were blissfully unaware of the act you had been pulling on every human you had interacted with up until that point in your life.

You didn’t know that everything is energy waiting to be put to action, not thought. You were only slightly aware that everything on this planet constrained in time and space came down to our collective thoughts becoming our collective words becoming our collective actions. That’s what you used to call reality.

You had no way of knowing what was coming around the corner. The laws of nature were never going to change, but you didn’t know about those laws yet. Smiling at everything and everyone on the rocket ship you thought was heading for Nirvana, you were suddenly grabbed by an unknown force and pushed out the open hatch.

Far, far, down below, you could see a void. You had no way of knowing at the time, but the void was the entrance to The Maze. It was a void you could never go back through. There was only one way out of The Maze.

But you didn’t know all that then. At that point, you were still overwhelmed with the colossal, eye stinging fall you were experiencing. The next thing you would know was that you were at the heart of The Maze.

That’s where your story is about to begin…

The pic is the moment you drove away from the last house you ever owned.

The Mind Manual: The Baby Stage

A Story Based on Actual Emotions

The days were long following your newfound awareness of being alive after your wake up moment. You felt young, wild, and free. Every meal tasted like your first. Every sunrise lit up your open eyes.

People noticed. You’d never been pregnant and you weren’t a woman, but you wondered if that was the glow people talked about. You smiled calmly at everyone and everything, amused at the playfulness of life. You’d walk into a coffee shop and just be yourself and your drink would mysteriously get comped and you’d get offered free food.

You were being you. For the first time ever. You realized you were the baby.

Wide-eyed and happy to be alive, you explored everything as if it was for the first time.

You felt free and easy for a spell. But then, as life would have it, you became aware of how wobbly your new mind’s legs were. Having made grooves and ruts so deep in your way of being a person on the planet, you found your new ways to be as fragile as a spider’s web at a broom convention.

Any random collection of words heard or a classic “bad day” would put you off kilter. You were sensitive again, and it made it amazing to eat food, talk to people, and listen to music.

However, it also made you timid and you felt powerful and powerless at the same time.

Sometime later, you would discover that this new feeling of being clean, connected, and aware could be chemically recreated for approximately one day using a certain amount of LSD.

After talking to enough people, most of whom you’d met in the last 90 days, you found it to be the “hangover” of the healthy, eye-opening experience you had while stone cold sober in that conference room in Austin, Texas.

The program you had done was the same one that your favorite author, Chuck Palahniuk had gone to before he wrote “Fight Club.” You still walked around with a smirk. Fully aware of the new found knowledge that “You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying matter as everything else.”

And you knew it was beautiful.

The pic was taken that weekend in Austin, TX. by the Dragon with a Golden Heart.

The Mind Manual: Ignition

A story based on real emotions.

You woke up. It was startling to find yourself in a human body. Surrounded by folding chairs in Austin, Texas, there was a man named Mike in front of you and he was crying. In a moment, you went from the walking dread of an existing cadaver to opening your eyes for the first time.

In a rare moment of clarity in the game of life, you saw each and every compounding event of the last 30 years of your life that had left you jaded. One comment after another.

“It is what it is.”

“Whatever works.”

“I guess.”

“That figures.”

You saw your fascination with identifying as an alien creature from the stars and how it had faded into non-existence somewhere in the pile of skin and bones that you had become increasingly more uncomfortable inside of.

You saw the words that had been spilling out of your mouth and forming the essence of your existence as the years had ticked by and you had crawled into yourself over and over again.

“I didn’t sign up for this.”

“I didn’t even want to be here.”

“Well now I’m alive so I have to deal with it.”

You saw how each sentence had driven a nail into your own coffin. “Somewhere along the line” (you were 18) something tripped you up. You believed in something so hard. Then your brain grew. Then you were alone.

Suddenly, you weren’t sure. You weren’t sure about anything. You didn’t know.

Then you raged against the machine.

There were good years but you were still retreating. Always retreating further and further into yourself.

And then one day, without fanfare or notice from anyone, particularly yourself: your spark went out. You threw in the towel. You settled inside of your own body to wait out the clock until you died.

Then, in Austin, Texas, you woke up. It happened after you answered a deeply personal question with an honest answer for the first time ever. Then you were watching this stranger named Mike with tears and an alarming calm smile on his face. He was crying because he got to watch the second you woke up.

Then, for the first time, you were aware of The Maze. And you were deep in it.

The pic is a fire I built in the Sawtooths, years later.

The Mind Manual: The Jolt

A story based on actual emotions.

The first thing you didn’t know about the maze was that you were born into it. It wouldn’t be until June of 2018 in Austin, TX. that you would become aware of it. You were 30, and the event that caused you to fly down there for a weekend happened months before when you were driving ride share in The Land of the Potato.

The fare had hopped into your black Jeep Patriot after having you wait for 30 minutes outside of their hotel. They were not from The Land of the Potato and the were drunk.

It was 11 AM on a Sunday and your clean, peaceful existence inside of your vehicle was flooded with the tense energy of an argument.

You felt it creep into your skin and soul even in the silence. You recognized that tension because you grew up with that tension as a companion. It stung. You had only just driven out onto the road when the loud voice of the male commanded you take a left. You switched lanes abruptly and the engine idled and made a new hum.

In an alarmed state, you reached down to adjust the gears and your hand slipped. Going 10 miles per hour, the car jolted to a stop. You heard a bump on the back of your seat. The male had not buckled up.

All that happened in half a second. After three seconds, the male began to shout. Obscenities and questions he probably didn’t want the answer to filled the cab of your vehicle. You asked if he was okay and the stream of obscenities turned into insults. Your heart rate went off the charts. That hadn’t happened for awhile.

You maintained a calm exterior, which you were so practiced at doing as a Flight Attendant. After driving two more blocks, the male’s obscenities turned directly to you and what he suggested you do to yourself. Finally, he said he wanted to kill you.

“That’s it!” you said in a commanding voice you forgot that you had.

After pulling over, you told them both to get out. They did, after slamming your doors. You took off then pulled over a few blocks later to alert the ride share company.

After shutting off the engine, you couldn’t breathe. Your heart rate got higher than you had ever thought possible. Your hands wouldn’t work. You yelled your own obscene question at nothing out into the icy silence. Your mind had been hijacked.

You hated that.

Having been alerted by events in your life on this planet (Earth) that you could not, in fact, control your own mind or apparently your own body, you felt broken. You’re existence of “just getting by in this shitty world” had been interrupted. You were so alarmed that you actually wanted help.

Up until that point, you had only been programmed TO help.

But more than help, you wanted answers.

The Mind Manual: Emergence

A story based on actual emotions.

You were 34 when you decided to write The Manual. A roadmap for the place you knew the best. You read on a refrigerator once that “Action Cures Anxiety” and you were pretty sure it was true.

You were not sure if that was what it really read. You had been wandering through The Maze for longer than you thought. That wasn’t surprising, however. It was after all a thought maze: the most complex of all mazes.

You can’t just turn left every time and eventually find your way out. It takes time, space, and something called X.

Having finally just learned about X, you were grateful. You were also tired and things that were not so far away as they used to be were starting to look blurry.

As you pulled yourself out of the final hatch and the sun gazed down on your dirty, muscled frame surrounding your skeleton, you raised your fist. It was not in anger, but in victory.

“Think of a time when you were on top,” the voices still echoed behind you.

An entire choir of characters from your Maze had helped you to navigate, and you knew they would follow you into your next adventure. But in that moment, after everything you had thought, and thought you thought, was all beginning to take on a pleasantly fading whiteness.

The past was something to be learned from, not something that happened. The future was bright because it was in a state of alternate creation inside of your mindhole. The present had never been more real.

Then, quite suddenly for your taste, the real became a reel. And the movie had started. You began to write.

The pic is my foot, almost 5 years ago.

What We Know

We know we should be exercising, but we are not. We know we should be eating only whole organic food, but we are not. We know we should be using renewable energy that doesn’t contribute to poking a hole in Mother Earth’s Ozone, but we can’t afford it.

We know alcohol is poison, and yet we still drink it, get excited, black out, then pay for it during long shifts, shits, and seemingly never ending headaches the next day. We know plastic is toxic but it’s too convenient to give up. We know nothing in our lives is outside of the realm of us being the common denominator in each situation we find ourselves in, but we love excuses. We know sunlight keeps our minds happier, but we’re okay trading our daytime for money in order to accomplish and accommodate our lifestyles, even if it means waking up and going home in the darkness.

We know boundaries and nations are human made concepts, but we are still alright with killing over them. We know everything on the inside of each human is the same, but we still think we are the most special human on the planet. We know there is no bearded, power hungry god, but we still claim to be his chosen peoples.

We know it’s not about the destination, but we are still ignoring the journey. We know we won’t live forever, but we are still living as if we are eternal. We know we don’t know how we built the pyramids, but we are pretending that we do in order to make ourselves feel better.

The mystery of life continues, and yet we are better off smiling and continuing to climb the conundrum using whatever muscles we can.

Re-Re-Birth

Thoughts on life pertaining to the craft of living on this planet.

After tapping into the actual lifeline of living, everything turns into a game. You’re smart. You’re good looking by the standards of the geographical and social more standards of the time on the planet you got born into, this time.

Lucky you.

The last thing that was in the way of you was you, and you killed yourself. Congratulations. After you found the controls on life, you blew up.

It was the most magical explosion you’d ever born witness to, so far.

The infamous “they” that makes up the panel of judges that live in your mind were identified. Some of “them” were preachers. Some of “them” were bullies. Some of “them” were preacher’s wives. Some of “them” were abusers. Some of “them” were past bosses. Some of “them” were parents. Some of “them” were teachers. Some of “them” were friends.

All of them were older than you. All of them were in positions of “authority” over you. All of them loved you in their own way. It’s just that all of them were broken. They were broken just like everyone else. You are broken, too.

But then you set out to understand the why of you being broken. Then you continued, against the raging of your Ego, to pursue the how of you being broken. Then you knew.

It was ridiculously cliche that it turned out that the moment you understood the nature of yourself that you understood the nature of everyone else at the same moment. After you knew the “how” of your brokenness, it disappeared, because you knew that you were the one telling yourself that you were broken. Suddenly, the pieces of your life all come together in your heart, mind, and soul, and you understood that your true nature and the essence of your being was hiding somewhere in each of those three elements, and it didn’t matter to you exactly where it was hidden anymore. You knew yourself. You knew those around you in the same way.

You are complete. “They” are complete. Then “they” vanished. Funnily enough, “they” were never really there. In fact, some of them were dead. Those that are not dead, will be dead soon.

And so will you.

So you set about with this new freedom. Walking around and talking like a brand new monkey out of the box. An avatar who suddenly fit into the game.

You are happy now, but it took guts. Seeing the nature of you, people, and things has left you feeling like a kind of cheating imposter. A nobody from nowhere who is only good at playing the game because he knows it’s a game. Someone so “successful” that it feels like cheating at the game of life.

But then you look back. You look back at all of the lifestyles you’ve explored over the years. You watch as the graph showing your economic place in the United States of Cashout goes from pitching to peaking then back again then sideways before repeating all over again. You see the thousands of kicked down doors that you created, as “The Door Kicker” and they all look like thousands of gravestones lying in the grey darkness behind you; and now they only serve to illuminate the darkly wondrous greyscape in front of you. The whole time, all you ever wanted to make you happy in life was a bottle of wine, a woman, and a writing utensil. Now, when up is down and it goes there and back again; all you truly know is that someday you’ll be dead, just like everyone else, and it is beautiful.

You were raised Christian. It was painful. But then you killed god and you became yourself. Then you killed yourself and became god.

Metaphorically speaking, of course. You’re still a sentient homo sapien who likes to watch movies and is obsessed with his hands. As you were.

The pic is from when I damaged myself at work, and the boss man patched me up personally. Holding my hand, disinfecting, and wrapping. Man to man. It was a special moment to me but I know the pic looks like I tried to kill myself for real or something. It is clickbait, which is appropriate. Because everything IRL IS clickbait.

Push/Kick

Welcome to the planet! First there’s a push by someone else, then you kick. After the blood is cleared from your eyes, please soak up as much as you can of what we are already doing on our flying rock.

Welcome to your first decade! Notice the authority figures before they notice you. Quickly gravitate towards the colors, shapes, and sounds that speak to you. Match like vibrations with like vibrations. Assimilate information in the form of thoughts and ideas then regurgitate said information in order to get recognition from your peers and parental figures. If you don’t feel complete, that’s fine, everyone else is faking it as well.

Welcome to your teens! Be suddenly filled with new chemicals and rebel against all the fakers. They push you, you kick back. Be worried about the way you look to others more than anything else on the flying rock. Believe that you are incomplete, yet completely indestructible.

Welcome to your roaring 20’s! Do as the other monkeys do. Let it be known: raised heads will be removed. You still know you know everything so you’re about to prove it and take what’s yours. Suddenly, your anxiety level is only rivaled by your need to achieve what you believe. They push and you push back. You hit a wall over and over until you can’t breathe anymore.

Welcome to your 30’s. Behold your field of fucks, completely ungiven. Feel the sting of mortality as it mixes with the ether above. Rediscover the color and the sound and shape of things. Reach out into the darkness and grasp at the leathery, knobbed controls of life.

Now breathe. Feel complete and get on your feet. And, wonder where you’ll wander next on your flying rock. Ask yourself, if you start kicking again, what wondrous things may push back?

After Life

An author philosophizes about what might happen after we die.

Life is beautiful. When it ends, what do you think will happen? Whatever it is, it probably doesn’t matter as much as we think it matters. I like to think of it sometimes, when I’m not busying myself with the business of being alive and the play of being well.

I like to think of what happens after we die as the same thing that happened before we were born, because I think time only exists on this plane. I think it is relative and barely exists as it is. I like to think of the afterlife as being a place where we all know everything that our higher selves know, but we have access to it because we are no longer bound by mortal flesh. I like to think a drug that our bodies release upon birth and death (DMT) is our portal assistant, getting our actual essence from one plane to another. I like to believe that small traces of the drug are responsible for our dreams. Like wisps in the wind reminding us of who we are, where we came from, and where we are going.

I’ve never done DMT, but the studies on it are fascinating. Most individuals experience the same thing for about 15 minutes. A sensation of pushing past a net to know what’s on the other side seems to be a common theme. 

I like to think about waking up, after I die, and finding myself to be my higher self, and surrounded by everyone. All souls not otherwise engaged on a different plane all busily and excitedly moving about in the same place. Running into each other and suddenly realizing in one shocking moment that the soul you are staring at was your best friend two lives ago and you killed him that last time around. I’d find one of my closest male friends from this current round and we’d laugh so hard and pat each other on the back and remember what our bodies started to look like when we had gotten old. I’d find people I’d married the last couple times around and we’d wink at each other, just knowing. 

The bottom line for me is this: One way or another, we all go back into the same toy box in the end. It doesn’t really matter what I think, though, unless I apply it to my current life and how I live it. What happens later happens, regardless of my thoughts. If I were you and you were I, I would look at the stars as much as possible and just enjoy being, if you can.

This is Wulfenite

It can be found wherever it is. It knows that it used to be connected to one big rock, but now it gets to do whatever it likes and it gets to accomplish what it likes at will. Sometimes it gets lonely and bumps into the other rocks. It’s got dings and scratches from these bumps, but it wouldn’t trade it’s experiences on Earth for the ridiculous false concept that is a “pristine rock.”

Sometimes it spends whole years just exploring the simple concept that it has the gift of consciousness. The consciousness was poured into a complex system of chemical hormones attached to a physical meat monkey by an Entity more powerful than itself. The chemicals and the consciousness work together to help inform the manual control center in it’s skull as to what it needs to do when puppet-mastering the meat monkey.

It uses all of the senses built into the meat monkey to test for states and stages of reality around it. Smell to test if something is desirable or not. Sight to see if something is dangerous, wonderful, or both. Hearing to help make the meat monkey dance to the rhythm life until death. Touch to send and receive pain and pleasure. Taste is just for fun.

It is resilient. It is full of life. It is full of love. Sometimes it wants to just be a rock.

The Realized Human

He opened his eyes. The cesolapods were forming another layer in front of his ship. Typing in the commands to communicate with the cesolapods, Tyreluis sucked in the snot that was dripping from his nose and awaited their response to come across the command screen of his Imposium space cruiser. The response came back.

“Initiate solution-based course of action.”

He breathed in. It was a good sign. Communication was always a good sign. That fact had held true as long as he could remember cruising through the space and time that he was a part of. He wiped the snot from his nose on the blue cardigan that he always wore when he was piloting his craft.

“Ipsom, Ellium, Corrodisum,” a voice said to him.

He turned and saw Ollivium. She was clad in white robes, as always.

“Thank you,” he said.

She said nothing as she gazed at the screen in front of him. A seemingly infinite starscape stared back at her.

“What does it mean?” he asked, “Please explain.”

“Take your enemies. Love who stays. Forget those who leave, Tyrelius,” Olivium responded.

“Thank you,” he said.

She disappeared as quickly as she had apparated. Tyrelius entered a command code to inform whoever was remote controlling the cesolapods that he intended to move on to the next astral layer, as long as they were done examining his ship. An approval response lit up his screen and he guided his vessel through the open portal in the middle of the cesolapod horde.

It was rare by that time in human history for anyone who had settled on a single plane of existence in space to actually be present to interact with the occasional life travelers that drifted through from time to time. Instead, they sent their robots in packs.

As his ship cruised through the portal, the starscape in front of him suddenly opened up and stretched on to beyond where his human eyes could see. There was a purplish hue to everything.

“Do you like to meet new people?” Allisorra asked.

She was suddenly beside him, but he had been expecting her. Still wearing her flight uniform, she must have been taking a break from piloting her own craft. Her true physical form could have been anywhere, for all he knew.

“There are no new people,” he said, quietly.

Her only response was a silent nod, and the two of them took in the violet hue of the landscape of lights in front of them. As quickly as it began, the landscape changed. Until all that was before Tyrelius and Allisora was a gaping black hole. He pressed his ship on and went into the next layer.

He was alone again. Everything in the beyond of the craft’s front lens was a deeper violet than before. This time the lights were almost blinding, and they made him uncomfortable. While groping for the controls that he thought were in front of him, he found that he was holding a completely different set of controls, but he was suddenly comfortable. His eye finally adjusted to the light.

“Can you smell them?” Amorra asked.

She was reclining on a plush sofa and playing with a violet boa. On her head, a glowing wreath of purple flowers perched and seemed to sway in the stillness of the spacecraft.

“Smell what?” Tyrelius asked, quietly.

She smiled as she threw her head back and laughed, “The flowers, silly!”

He turned back to his command console. The space in front of his ship was covered in vibrating blooms of purple flowers. They seemed to move in unison like a flock of migrating fowl back on Earth, when there was an Earth.

“They’re gorgeous,” he said.

She laughed again as both of their faces were bathed in the deep purple light of the vastness that surrounded them. He turned to look again at the swirling petals that made up the flowers that had begun to mimic jellyfish in the darkness. She laughed again.

“What?” He asked, softly, turning back to her.

She was holding a tiny version of the floating violet flowers from that space.

“Smell it,” she said, closing her eyes.

He did. As the scent of the air around his nasal passages filtered into his lungs, he saw the connection between the flower he was smelling and the massive floating figures in front of his spacecraft. He loved them for what they were. All too quickly and jarringly, his craft was in the next layer, and everything was dark again.

Blue lines began to dance in the void in front of Tyrelius as he sat in his command chair. Something deep in his throat seemed to stir as he brought his craft to a slow halt in the vast emptiness of the space, save for the bright blue lines. Her form seemed to float nearby him, but, to Tyrelius, she never fully took on a full presence in his craft.

“Everything comes to those who truly seek,” her words were like a fresh morning in the spring, “and you use your words to speak and seek.”

Hovering beside him for what felt like a beautiful eternity, she spoke of many things that had never before crossed his mind. In front of them, the bright blue hue of the lights all began to get brighter as they connected from point to point. Those points began to glow all on their own, until an entire network of lights was splayed out before Tyrelius and Kilemia in the vastness of space.

“Be impeccable with your word and you can avoid more pain in the future,” her voice said as she finally vanished.

He didn’t want her to go, and he hoped that she would come back. However, Tyrelius knew that if he didn’t push on to the next astral layers, then he wouldn’t fulfill his ultimate destiny.

Green embers seemed to fill cabin of his craft as he and his ship faded into the next layer of stars, just as she had faded before. The embers could have been from a large green stone having burned into just ashed only moments before his arrival. They floated on both sides of his windshield.

Johan knocked on the exterior hatch of Tyrelius’s spaceship. The knock was simple and broke the silence that had enveloped the entire craft.

“I’ll die if I open the door,” Tyrelius said.

“Everything on the outside is the same as on the inside here,” Johan said, “It’s the only way to exist on this plane.”

Tyrelius let Johan in and they talked. Johan explained that in order to accept what is outside, a human needs to accept what is inside. They talked for what seemed like eternity, and the longer their quiet conversation went on, the brighter the green embers glowed all around them. Johan got up to leave and paused by the hatch. The vastness of space extended beyond in the background.

He turned, just before closing the hatch, and Tyrelius realized that there was far more going on outside of his spacecraft than he had previously been aware of, and he felt warm. He didn’t want the warm feeling to fade, but it did. Piece by piece, he watched the elements that made up his ship disappear. Finally, he disappeared and then found himself in his craft again, fully assembled, sitting in his command chair, and in the next plane.

A streak of golden light reached out from beyond the horizon. The brightness of the star filled his eyes and lit up his face.

“It’s almost as if we are intended to do what we truly want,” Phosforus’s small voice filled the cabin.

His face was lit up and his hair was aflame as he stared into the star rise with Tyrelius.

“Agreed,” Tyrelius said.

“You’ve seen things,” Phosforus commented, without taking his eyes of the rising star.

“So have you,” Tyrelius said.

“Agreed,” came Phosforus’s reply.

They watched until the starlight consumed the spacecraft and everything inside of it.

Tyrelius opened his eyes and found himself on the next plane, alone again. He knew by then all he had to do to end the loneliness was wait. A low amber heat seemed to make everything glow after awhile. The silence was broken by a very ancient siren song. They seemed to appear with the wind even though they were still inside of craft’s cabin. Each laying a head on one of Tyrelius’s shoulders after kneeling beside him to take in the spacescape, Katarra and Allium both began whispering things that were only intended for Tyrelius’s ears.

The amber shades continued to illuminate the plane in front of them as the song ended.

“Don’t forget you have a human body, too,” Allium said softly before everything disappeared.

Red. For a moment, the starscape was black. Then, one by one, out of the darkness, brilliantly blood-colored stars began to shine on the other side of his screen. They began to cluster and multiply. The red streaks made red circles that shone brightly across the black expanse. Then they began to bleed into eachother.

“Those are gorgeous,” a soft yet resolute voice beside him said.

A tall, sinewy man with a yellow mohawk was standing beside him. There was something familiar about his eyes. Tyrelius regarded the man with a careful eye.

“Seems like all the worlds have gone mad,” Jackius said, “finally.”

He had on thick boots and worn down jeans. His shirt was nowhere to be found. On his back, an intricate interlacing of woven colors displayed a magnificent tattoo pattern, all converging into a single pyramid. The deep red lights from beyond the screen behind the control panel reflected in his eyes.

“Hue the line, Tyrelius,” Jackius said, “let the byproducts of your actions fall where they may.”

“But how do I do that?” Tyrelius asked.

“You get the luxury of focusing on what you want to focus on in this life cycle,” Jackius responsed, still not looking at Tyrelius as they both stared out into the crimson blanket of lights that was flooding the never ending vastness in front of them.

“But what should I focus on?” Tyrelius asked.

“Simple question deserves a simple answer,” he replied, dipping back the red tips of his pointed hair as he lit a Cuban cigar then exhaled the thick white plumes of smoke into the crimson cruiser’s control room, “Ipsom, Ellium, Corrodisum,”

“Take your enemies. Love who stays. Forget those who leave,” Tyrelius whispered under his breath, remembering the words of Ollivium from the ancient tongue.

“Exactly,” Jackius said before vanishing suddenly into the darkness.

Tyrelius couldn’t remember what layer he piloted his craft through next after his encounter in the red layer. However, by the time he was very old and had been through over five hundred odd layers, he did notice that almost all of the layers after the first set all seemed to be a simple shade of one of the first layers he had already been through. Eventually, Tyrelius found the layer that contained the plane that contained the hill he was willing to die on, and he was complete. He let go of the controls. He stood up from his commander’s chair.

Turning to his cabin, he saw no one there.

“I am finished,” he announced, plainly, but with a smile.

He closed his eyes.

The Unrealized Human

His first act on Earth was taking his first breath, and everyone around him rejoiced. He was born. It doesn’t matter where. He was scared. Picture his face. It doesn’t matter which face you picture, because its covered in placenta. He didn’t know where he was from, and it would be about two years before he would be fully conscious of his own consciousness. His thousands of hours in the wooden rocking cradle would go unremembered in the planet he was on. Fear was built into his bio-frame, as though thousands of years of evolution had stored everything dangerous inside of the inaccessible parts of his memory banks. Perhaps he grew up during the glorious 1960’s.

They kept using the same word over and over again until he discovered it was him. He was what they named him and he figured it was unique and perfect. The truth was that the word could have been anything.

From his father, he learned to always have an answer for everything, even if he didn’t know. From his mother, he learned that women were better when silent. From his brother, who got shot and killed during a civil rights protest, he learned to keep his head down and never disagree with the other humans.

He saw his father hang a black man. He saw his mother beat a black servant. He never told anyone about it.

His one good memory formed when he was sitting on the front porch of his parents house while he was watching the cars roll by. He logged thousands of hours doing exactly that. He did it often and it gave him a sense of peace. On one of his street watching sessions, he saw a young woman that he had never seen, and he never saw her again. He remembered the pink flower that was in her hair. He had never seen a flower so large, and he had never seen a smile so bright. He remembered that for the rest of his life.

After being drafted, he went to Vietnam, even though he didn’t want to. He made his first real friend there because they were both in pain and scared. Then his best friend died, right in his arms. He never told anyone about it. He made it home after he watched so many human bodies get ripped apart and burned alive right in front of his eyes. He learned the smell of things that nobody should even see. He never told anyone about it. Perhaps it was because he refused to reach out, or perhaps it was because nobody asked. It didn’t really matter.

At home, he found that his father had died from liver failure. His mother didn’t say a word from then until the day she died of old age in a nursing home. The 1980’s occurred, and cocaine accompanied by financial gain became the cry of everyone in his country. He worked odd jobs, never saying much. Eventually, he got himself a 1932 Bungalow home and put up a three and half foot white picket fence around the front yard.

The 90’s occurred. Technology was all the rage. He didn’t understand it. He never married. Women were put off by him. There was just too much bottled up inside of his soul that he had never told anyone about. He took up restoring classic cars to pass the time on the lonely planet he lived on. His eyes began to show his secrets and his hands began to show his craft.

The footage of the twin towers falling came across the airwaves to the rabbit ears of his television set, and it reminded him to be afraid. He began to speak less and less to anyone he encountered. He didn’t even give candy to the children who would trick or treat in his neighborhood. He took a night job at a hardware store to bridge the gap between his retirement. He didn’t need health benefits because he had benefits through the VA. He didn’t use those, however, because he was healthy. Alcohol was something he never touched because he had watched his father. He read books about WWII and imagined what his father had experienced during that time.

He watched the world go by from his front porch, but it wasn’t a world that he wanted to be a part of. News channels on the screen inside of his living room told him there was even more to be afraid of than he had known before. As time wore on and his face took on more lines, he began to fear even more than he had feared before. There were new things on the news and the news told him to be afraid, because everyone else was afraid, and he learned very young that it was better to be just like everyone else. He told himself that he was no fool, because he knew to keep his head down and do what the monkeys in front of him were doing.

But then the monkeys started doing weird things. They wanted to change things. They wanted to include everyone in every activity. They wanted justice.

He gave up. He didn’t try to understand the world he lived in anymore. The unexpressed pain that had been bottled up inside of him began the process of finishing off his already poisoned soul.

One day, he was sitting in a rocking chair on his porch. He had logged thousands of hours alone in that wooden rocking chair, and he remembered each one. A young woman walked by with her friends. She had a large pink flower in her hair. He was reminded of something from long ago, and yet it also felt like yesterday. He looked from the pink flower to the girl’s mouth. She was not smiling.

He stood up from his rocking chair in a rare moment of activity and yelled toward the group of young women.

“Hey! Why don’t you smile?”

It was not received well. The reality was that even he didn’t know exactly what he meant by yelling it or why he had yelled at all. What happened next was a series of screamed insults and camera phone video creations. On the internet, everyone mocked the old man in the rocking chair with the withered face and the gnarled up hands. Sexist.

The end of the second decade of the new millennium occurred. Everyone shut their doors. He got sick. He went to the VA. They told him he had some new virus that had started on the other side of the world. His last act on Earth was to take his last breath, and no one was around to see it.

My First Big Bus Ride

I was 16. I was homeschooled so bus rides weren’t a part of my life. I was headed to Moscow, Idaho. The journey had started in Boise, Idaho at the Greyhound bus station. My mother had sent me on a mission.

“Talk to your sister [Abra] about how she shouldn’t be in a relationship right now,” she had said. 

My mother had bought the ticket and I was off. The only other time I had been on a bus was a school bus. Homeschooled kids were allowed to participate in sports. I had been on a cross country track team. I saw how the loudest two boys ran things on that yellow hell ride. They said all sorts of inappropriate things to and about the girls who were also on that ride, and nobody did anything about it. I didn’t know what to do about it. At the time, I just thought it was weird that the boys were somehow allowed to run their mouths without anyone doing anything about it. Then I found out that those two boys were the fastest boys on the cross country running team.

On the Greyhound, I settled into the large plush seat I had chosen as mine. I put on my Walkman and continued to re-listen to old time radio’s greatest hits from the spooky genre. The Saint. Suspense! The Molle Mystery Hour; brought to you by the smoothest shave a man could get: Molle.

“It’s a smooth smooth slick slick shave you get with M-O-L-L-E: Molle!” the commercial chorus rang in my ears.

I’d heard all the stories before, but I liked hearing them again because they gave me the shivers and a place for my mind to relax and escape. We stopped at every town. I thought about how long the 5 ½ hour drive from Boise to Moscow was on the big lumbering machine. I’d sat as a passenger on that drive more times than I could count. 

The first time was to visit with my sister Naomi who was interested in going to college there and invited me go to a history conference and a real ball. I sat as a passenger in a diesel truck with friends of the family Brian Wood, his dad, and another friend of theirs. The physical path to Moscow was clear. Beautiful Idaho forest, turn right at the A+W food/gas station, then more forest until we got to Whitebird Pass. It was a windy pass of a road and there was a memorial for when many Native Americans were killed in that area. It was more of a “scenic overlook” of where the Native Americans used to live than a memorial. I was 12 then, and after meeting up with my sister, I took exact notes on what every man who spoke at the conference said. They seemed angry about the past and overly demanding about the future. Then we went to the ball. Like a real life rent-a-tuxedo ball.

On the Greyhound, I switched tapes on my Walkman and continued the adventures of Simon Templar: The Saint. The fabric of the seats smelled thick and bad. Like the hopes and dreams of everyone who had sat there before me had died in the overly fantastically colored fibers that I was sitting on in that exact moment.

The tuxedo my sister Naomi had helped me rent when I was 12 was sharp. I liked that, cummerbund only, without the vest, and fancy black button studs to go over the plain clear plastic buttons on the white shirt. It was glossy white, not dull white like the ones I’d wear to church. Her and I were staying with some friends while we were there. The thing I ended up remembering the most about that rented tuxedo was the two teeth I had found in the right front pocket of the trousers when I tried it on in the friends’ bathroom. I tucked those fuckers right back into the pocket and decided in that moment that it was none of my business why they were there in the first place.

On the Greyhound, I saw people come and go as the stops that took an arduous amount of time were made. I needed to get to Moscow for my secret mission. I started to understand the concept of shared space that commercial buses exemplify.

At the ball, I was the slick 12-year-old dancer that I knew I was. There were over a thousand people there, and I danced with them all in traditional folk style as my sweat mixed with theirs while we grasped hands and exchanged smiles. I noticed how the college-aged boys seemed to dance with more on their minds than dancing. They danced with a hope for the future in their bodies. I just danced.

The Greyhound lumbered into another dusty town I hadn’t seen before. It was exciting. I wondered what sort of life the bus driver had. Whatever it was, I knew it had to be lonely. My 16-Year-Old self knew that my life would never get so lonely and vagrant.

After the ball was over, when I was 12, I sat in a van with Naomi and two of her friends, Stephanie and Stephany, while we waited for someone else to load up. Some men at the balls wore kilts, to commemorate some of the dances Irish heritage.

“Oh my goodness, “Stephany suddenly gasped, “I just saw under Keith’s kilt.”

“It’s okay,” I spoke up, “that’s why they wear shorts under their kilts.”

The van got quiet but I figured I had just solved whatever problem she had been feeling guilty about. In retrospect, she wasn’t feeling guilty, the ladies in the van had just forgotten I was there, and the conversation probably would have gone down a different road if I hadn’t have stepped in to “solve the problem.”

The members of the Greyhound bus ride when I was 16 were switching out again. An older woman who got on looked at me and smiled as I drew pictures on a notepad I had brought. No one ever sat next to me, and I was glad. I was literally experiencing a mobile vehicle where I could freely express myself to myself in peace and anonymity.

That first foray into Moscow when I was 12 ended with a trip in the diesel truck back to Boise. Brian’s dad let me know that he had thrown out the second of two burgers he had gotten for me at the A+W on the ride up. I always ordered more food than I could eat when given the opportunity. That was because I was “food anxious.” I didn’t want to starve. That’s another story and I’m not “food anxious” now.

The bus finally came to my stop. Lewiston. Just a forty-five minute drive from Moscow. I was the only one to get off and I thanked the bus driver. The station was abandoned and I stood on the sidewalk for a moment. I walked around the corner and there was my sister Naomi to pick me up. 

“Did you have a good ride, bud?” she asked.

I did have a good ride. Internally, I knew I was The Man and I was secretly holding on to the mission of relationship destruction that my mother had sent me on. We went to Moscow and I stayed with her and her husband for a night or two. We watched “Patriot Games” and I saw how Harrison Ford handled conflict and made what he wanted to happen actually happen. I my sister Naomi’s husband and I saw how he really saw her and really loved her. I loved it.

My sister Abra picked me up, and I stayed with her and her friend Abby for a couple of nights. On the second night, I revealed to Abra what my secret mission was and how “I thought” she shouldn’t be in a relationship because our parents “didn’t want her in a relationship.”

“But, bud,” Abra said slowly and compassionately, “mom and dad already gave their approval for my relationship.”

Then what the hell was I doing up there? I thought to myself. We went to Bucer’s Coffee House Pub and I had the all around good time that I had always had with my sister Abra. We talked about music and she introduced me to the artist Cake and I felt very much at home with myself and my sisters up north.

Back on the Greyhound, returning to Boise, I plugged back in my old time radio shows as I sat in a similar seat on a different bus. I checked the numbers and it wasn’t the same bus. I couldn’t figure out why I had been sent on my mission. My mission wasn’t my mission, but I didn’t know that then. The ride down was much less observed by me as I kept switching cassette tapes and stared out the window. I loved staring out the window.

For two years, when I was 13-15, I had sat as a passenger on that road to and from Moscow and Boise while my father drove. My parents had a company in Meridian, near Boise, and a house in Moscow at the time. He drove down every week to work at the family business on more times than I can remember. I went with him most of the time, sitting in the passenger seat of that blue Ford Expedition with its brown leather seats as I stared out the window and watched the forest peel by in little strips of natural beauty. I’d load up CDs into the 5 CD magazine the vehicle had and we’d listen to them. He was quiet, I was quiet. In retrospect, he talked more on the first 10 trips than he did the last 20 or so. That used to bother me until I got older and I understood the importance of silence at key times in life. I consider the shining moment of those drives to be one night when I had loaded the soundtrack of the 1986 London production of “The Phantom of the Opera” into the CD magazine. The one with Sarah Brightman’s voice. It was pitch black and the thick fog was swirling and parting ways in the headlights of the Expedition as I cranked up the tune so that it invaded our ears and our souls.

The Greyhound bus pulled into the station at Boise. My mother picked me up. I now know the pain she was experiencing and that she didn’t know what she was doing in a lot of ways, but it was new to me then.

“Your father is no longer a part of our lives,” she said.

I didn’t say anything. I stared out the window. I knew why I had been sent on my fake secret mission.

Divorce had struck.

I went to bed that night and didn’t sleep, as usual. I stared up at the bottom of the top bunk of the bed that my father had built. I pulled my Walkman headphones onto my ears. I wanted to know what The Saint was up to. I knew what he would be up to because I’d heard his adventures before. I knew that wherever he went, Margot Lane would go with him.

My First Kiss

I was 20 and had just finished watching “Interview with a Vampire” when I got the text: “Come over, my parents are gone for the night.”

“Well, this is gonna be sloppy,” I thought. It was after midnight and I was home in Meridian and was just about to drop off my buddy in Emmett. She was in Emmett. As usual for my life, the timing was perfect.

I dropped off my friend and drove my blue 1976 Chevy Nova over to her house. She told me to park near the irrigation canal because she was worried about the neighbors seeing my car and calling her parents. She was what could be categorized as a “Hollister Girl” by those who put people into pre-made boxes, and I was what could be categorized as a “Skater Boi” by the same fucking people. I had been to her house before. Her mom was interested in me. That was another thing I had become accustomed to because I am safe. Her dad didn’t want her going to the Warp Tour with me. I had become accustomed to that, too. Men are cautious of things that they think they see in boys that are actually reflections of what they were as boys. I wasn’t that boy, but I was already tired of trying to prove that to the old bastards that I met. In retrospect, I get what the old bastards thought they saw, but that just wasn’t me.

When she said that her dad wouldn’t let her go to the concert with me, I knew what he was referencing in his mind, but I wasn’t interested in what was in his mind at that point in my life. He was thinking about the moment that he saw from his lounge chair on his large patio after the moment that he didn’t see, because he was sitting in his lounge chair on his large patio. His wife and daughter were talking to me in their kitchen and they were very intrigued by my viewpoint as well as my casual, honest answers to their questions about my background, nationality, and philosophy. 

Later, when I was in front of him in his lounge chair on his patio, I was saying goodbye to his daughter with a simple wave but then she hugged me. I was a thin guy, barely 125 pounds. Her bear hug did to me what so many other people’s bear hugs had done to me. I lost my breath. It wasn’t an emotional thing. I loved hugs, and touch is my love language, but I was also thin. I literally physically lost my breath because she grabbed me so tight. It caused my body to lose all of it’s air and I gasped. The gasp made it look like I was sucking in all of the air around me. The air around me was close to her head. It looked like I was desperately sniffing his daughter’s hair. That scenario had happened to me before, but he didn’t know that, and I didn’t care to explain.

So when I asked her to the Warp Tour and she told me that her dad wouldn’t let her go, I was not surprised. I now have a fully adult brain and I still don’t care what men who just sit on their ass and don’t invest time in others think.

I went to Warp Tour. I have no way of knowing, via data, but I’m pretty sure that the 2008 Summer Warp Tour was the last great Warp Tour to grace this planet. My generational identity lies somewhere between Millennial and Xennial. I grew up playing with dirt, the first family computer ran on MS-DOS, and I didn’t get a flip cell phone until I was 18. That summer’s Warp Tour was built for my generation. Mosh pits were for real. Sweat poured out of everyone as we pushed and shoved on eachother. Large groups of us ran in circles to see how much dust we could kick up. Everyone crowd surfed and nobody cared where they got touched. All set to the ear blasting anthems of Angels and Airwaves and the like. Skaters walked around with open cuts. Everyone got dehydrated and sunburnt. The rebellious energy in the air was palpable.

A new artist named Katy Perry was on a side stage. Me and my buddies had listened to her only album “One of the Boys” and we absolutely loved it. She came out on stage and grabbed the mic so hard that something on the cord cut her thigh open and she started bleeding. 

“Holy shit fuck!” she yelled into our throng of sweaty, dusty bodies, “If that isn’t fuckin’ Warp Tour I don’t know what is!”

The energetic and free flow of self-expression kept me energized all day long. Two days later, I got the text that had me climbing up the hill to her parents house. We had been having a lot of text and phone conversations over the last couple of weeks. She told me she was fascinated to meet someone who had “real issues” in life. She found most of her friends to be petty. She told me this while I was sitting with my back to a garage door that was attached to a store my father had built. He hadn’t been around for a few years. I remember thinking with amusement that yes, if issues were what attracted her, I did have a steady supply of those on hand. One of the stipulations she had put in place for my replying yes to her invitation was that I not look at her, because she had sunburned her face and she was very self-conscious about it. I walked up to her in her oversized white hoodie as she came halfway down the hill to meet me with a hug and I pointed out that my face was also burnt to a crisp from the Warp Tour. She led me to the basement. She didn’t want the lights on and she sat in an armchair and talked to me on the couch. She needed someone to talk to that wasn’t a part of her circle. She talked about how her younger brother had saved her life that week when she almost drowned in the canal. She talked about how her mother had come into her room that month and cried on her bed and how awkward that made her feel. After about an hour and half, I said, “Please keep talking, but please keep talking while you sit on my lap.” 

That was my big first move. Keep talking while you sit on my lap. Later in life, I figured out that conversation gets me going almost as much if not more than anything else, so my sentence added up eventually. Next she was talking and I was holding her. The topic of kissing had come up days earlier and she brought it up again along with her concern about herself being my first. 

“I’d like for you to be my first,” I said.

She arranged herself so that her head was above mine then she brought her face onto mine. It was a calm and quiet moment for me. Her small lips zeroing in on mine. Impact in 3, 2, 1. Wet. Spearmint gum. This was her plan all along.

Four hours later, we stopped making out. In retrospect, there were several moments that indicated that more could have happened that night. I missed those moments at the time because I wasn’t interested in doing anything other than what I was doing. Just the Beginner’s Module, please and thank you. She walked me out and there was a final kiss goodbye. She told me that she wanted to hike up a hill and watch the sunrise with me sometime and I agreed that that sounded lovely. 

I was halfway down the hill when I got the text. “That was a mistake.” I wasn’t confused and I wasn’t surprised, but I was curious if she was going to realize that I was just a rebound from her last boyfriend and that college was about to start for her and college was going to be different for her than it was for me. I was raging against the machine and she was starting her own self-discovery journey while still being blissfully unaware of the machine. I appreciated everything we shared together. I gave her the space she asked for during the next couple of days, and eventually the last text came through. “I’m sorry, you can blame the men before you.” I knew they weren’t men, they were boys. 

On that night, I finished walking down the hill, head, heart, and stomach full of temporary bliss and a sense that all things are possible, climbed into my blue 1976 Chevy Nova hatchback which a good friend had recently converted from three on the tree to four on the floor, then sped off into the Emmett night as I watched the sun come up, alone.

Looking at the scope of my interactions with all women, it appears I get apologized to a lot. I usually look at myself as the common denominator in all my experiences and seek out what I can change about me in order to get different results when I want different results. In this case, I don’t think I’m adding anything I don’t want to add to anyone’s life. I think women say “sorry” to me a lot because I am kind, safe, attentive and masculine, and they are used to dealing with lazy fucking assholes who sit around and do nothing other than manipulate everyone around them in order to feel comfortable before they die.

Things I’ve Learned from Books

I recently found out that I feel more than most but I am last to arrive to the party when it comes to reality. It’s a fucking weird combination. I love to read. 

When I read “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas, I learned that I don’t want a good thing to end. It was unabridged. I spent days and days as a kid reading while sitting on the edge of a sandbox my father built in our backyard. It was amazing. Revenge and righteous anger became an illustrated concept inside of my brain. I read slowly, and soaked it all up. I got to the last chapter and I didn’t want to say goodbye to all of the characters I had come to know. I never finished the last chapter. 

I read “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding. I learned everything I needed to know about modern masculinity. Left to our own devices, we will all get naked and kill. The power of the conch only works as long as someone is willing to listen. Ultimately, our base nature is completely savage. Everyone ends up in Jack’s camp after the majority are in Jack’s camp.

I read “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury. I learned that we should never censor art, and the moment we learn something key to life, it really is very bad form to turn around and attack those behind us for being something that we were just before we learned that key thing.

I read “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess. I found a friend in Alex. Cruel. Confused. Vulnerable. Determined. If you can get past the rape and murder scenes, you should get to the ending, it will rock your world. None of it mattered. He was just a kid so the government didn’t care, but they used him for their experiments.

I read “Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk. It changed my life in the most glorious of ways. It’s the manual for my generation, but I just haven’t been able to fully follow through on it, yet. Have you tried self-destruction after self-realization instead of self-help?

I read “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad. It’s a dream within a dream. Self-exploration had never been so visceral to me until I read those pages. The self-centered nature of man led so quickly to self-destruction that it left me with mental whiplash.

These are only some of the books I”ve read. I’m writing a book now. It’s called “Rebel.” I wonder what you will learn from it.

All these things and a new book are shaping my soul and heart, and that’s because life is a continuum of beautiful things that shape and shake our existence.

My First Clear Memory

“And Go!” I didn’t know if I was supposed to go or not go. A game was being played. The sanctuary was empty, except for us. I didn’t understand the rules of the game. The adults were all in the convention center. They were buying and selling homeschool curriculum from and to each other. The children had all wondered off. There were about 9 of us.

The game was one child stood at the front of the sanctuary, near the pulpit, up on the raised platform. My sister Naomi was taking her turn. She called out a thing. A green shirt, an age, a height. If you were the thing then you had to run. You had to run with all of the other children and make it up to the pulpit first. 

I wasn’t sure if I was the thing that was called out. I can’t remember what the thing was. I looked to the other children. I had a choice. In that moment, I saw that I could only either stay still and stand or I could run. I saw some of the other children run. I made a decision. I ran. 

Halfway down the aisle, I got knocked over by a bigger kid. I fell. My head hit the wooden edge of one of the pews. Before I hit the ground, I lost consciousness.

I don’t know where I went, but I remember it as ceasing to exist. It was peaceful. 

Now comes the part where my account of events stops and what other people say happened begins. I was told that Naomi turned and saw her brother, face covered in blood, body limp and still, sprawled out in the middle of the sanctuary, alone. She screamed. People began filing into the sanctuary. There was quite a fuss. 

I came to and adults were talking and yelling. The children were hiding. The first face I saw was my father’s. He was doing something to my face. He looked calm, but there was something behind his face that I had never seen before: he was worried.

People kept talking about butterflies. A couple I had never seen before got close to me and they were gawking. Somebody sent them away. Butterflies. They said butterflies would make everything okay. Butterflies on my face. I didn’t understand how that would help, but I liked the idea of a butterfly on my face. Eventually my face was cleaned and butterfly bandages were gotten from a local pharmacy.

My father was carrying me. We were leaving the church and in the hallway he asked me if I wanted to see. We stopped in front of a stained glass window and I looked. I felt safe again but I was alarmed by what had transpired, and I hoped it (pain) would never happen to me again. It would, by the way, and that’s part of the beauty of life. I looked at myself in the broken pieces of artistically arranged glass. The two little white bandages were above my left eye, holding my skin together.

That’s where the scar above my left eye came from, but it’s just a scar.

Self Love

It’s not what I thought it was. Throughout most of my life, I have fought against self love. I thought of it as selfish. I thought of it as not being a servant. I thought of it as wrong.

I’ve hurt myself and others by not taking care of myself in the past. Now I see how vital it is to tend to my own vitality. Things like walks and sleep and journaling and alone time and reading and writing and not bending to the forever critical subconscious voice in the back of my head is amazing!

Yesterday I put lotion on the parts of my skin that got exposed to too much sunlight. Yesterday I took a nap. Yesterday I gave myself time and space to think. Yesterday I focused on what I need and/or want to do.

And you know what? By focusing on loving myself, I have discovered new ways of loving the beautiful people around me. It works!

Who knows what wonderful things today will hold as I exercise these new muscles!

My First Crush

“You’re a really good driver!” Jamie said.

She was wearing an elaborate pink ball gown with ruffled sleeves that her mother and sisters had helped her to create. I was wearing a small tuxedo complete with cummerbund. My shoes were polished, her hair was up in the most elaborate bun I had ever seen. I was eleven, and I knew I had finally found The One. 

Her statement was a reference to my skills as a polka dancer. We were at a ball. Christmas lights filled the grange hall with a sense of wonder and charm. It was a tricky thing to not get run over when a hundred full-size couples were all fast waltzing like pairs of demons wrapped in satin and flailing coat tails. I rarely opted for the coat tailed jacket when my sister or parents helped me rent a tuxedo for those events. In fact, I figured out that a simple vest and bow-tie was best, because I got so hot and sweaty ballroom dancing. It wasn’t my first ball. I was commonly told: “you are such a fine dancer, young man.”

I knew.

And now she was on my arm. I expertly guided her to what I decided was our starting point. The polka was on and we were flying. She knew I was good at the fast polka because we had danced before at practices. The first time I found myself suddenly in the position that required I ask a lady to dance, I froze. I had been talking with the dudes and then the first dance commenced. They all broke off and I found myself alone. Terrified. 

An older boy named Ty Rallens saw me and nodded for me to come over. He asked a girl and I asked a girl next to him. After that it was all gravy. Hundreds of dances later, I had my system down. I cruised around the room and ignored all of the stolen looks by the young women who would then turn to their friends and whisper something in their friend’s ears. I knew I was the full package. Young, tan, full head of hair, eleven-years-old. I would scan the room like the Terminator, looking for someone about my size who was anxious to dance. I hadn’t figured out yet that each woman there had spent days planning and making their dresses, hours putting up their hair, and then there was the fact that they were at a ball. I went for height almost exclusively. It was a key element for the more aggressive and complicated one-on-one dances, of which the polka was king.

By that night, I had my method for asking ladies to dance down to a practiced series of motions. Calm approach to the collection of young women, catch the last bit of their conversation, of which at least three of them were always speaking at the same time, until I got close, then eye-contact with the girl I wanted to ask, left hand in a small light fist at my back, just above the belt, right hand extended open palm with the fingers slightly curled towards myself, thirty degree bow and a simple, “may I have this dance?” 

Every time.

We took two long steps as the music filled the hall and in that moment I was king. She took ballet lessons from my sister Naomi and there had been a ballet performance the night before. That was when I had noticed Jamie. I watched her dance along with all of her friends. I couldn’t figure out why I was only watching her by the end of the four hour performance. I had never felt that way before. I knew it had to mean something, and maybe that it meant everything, at least to a child. At the ball, we cruised together as I navigated our way through the throng of adults as the musk of sweat and perfume from the adults weaved its way through the grange hall. My hand on the small of her back, she was strong and relaxed and she was letting me guide her. That’s all I needed to know. No one else in the hall mattered. I was planning our wedding already. Everything I said, she laughed at. I felt so lucky to have found someone so soon. I was picturing our babies. 

I didn’t tell her any of that, of course. I thought she knew. How could I have experienced something so profound without the other person feeling the same thing? I figured it was an impossibility. I hadn’t figured out the role that the combination of my extreme empathy, passion, and self-deception would later play in my life. We danced more and I talked more and I got her some water. It was perfect. The night ended and before I knew it was Monday. Nothing ever came of that. I felt different on Monday. What the hell had happened to my brain over the weekend? It was fun but I felt so much in those two days that I was exhausted and felt more comfortable and safer back in my own head, alone. I never told anybody, but that night I was king and I had found my pink queen.

Filed under memories I play on the stage that is my brain when I’m examining my current actions.

Mrs. Petersen

“You like to draw, don’t you?” she asked.

I was fourteen. I was outlining a forest with a large wolf in it and a small boy in the foreground. She kept watching me. I kept sketching. She had just finished reading the first complete story I was proud of that I ever wrote and shared with anybody on the planet. I don’t have the story now, because we didn’t keep files then like we do now, and the papers are all lost, I’m sure. Realistically speaking, I am in a habit of leaving most of my physical past behind. I have no pictures of myself since turning 20 in my possession.

The story was about a small boy who had been left alone on his family farm after they had died. The opening scene was on the porch of a neighboring farm and an old golden retriever who had fallen asleep in the sun had its throat opened by a grey wolf for no apparent reason at all. The wolf had a pack with him that did his every bidding. She listened to every word I read after I wrote it, making little and not so little corrections as we went along. The thing that was once in my head and only something I saw had become something that we saw. It was magical. The small boy was hunting next, getting food for himself so he could work harder on the farm. The grey wolf saw him hunting, but the boy did not see the wolf. He went home and the attack happened the next morning, because these were no ordinary wolves.

We were going through the basic story structures. She taught me about man vs. machine. She taught me about man vs. nature. She taught me about man vs. himself. She taught me about man vs. man. The first thing she taught me was how to be vulnerable. The next thing she taught me was how to write about objects as if they were alive. Humanizing that which was by its nature inhuman. Blew my mind.

For man vs. machine, I made a little story about a man who got tricked by a massive computer into  throwing himself out of a skyscraper. For my anthropomorphizing piece, I wrote the life story of a No. 2 pencil. The sky was white because the pencil never left the table. She laughed so much. For man vs. man, I can’t remember what I wrote.  That fact makes sense to me. I was so tired of man vs. man on this planet already by then. It seemed to me that everyone around me was fighting. For man vs. himself, I wrote about a town drunk in the old west who almost got sober but then got his head crushed by a passing wagon wheel. Man lost every time in my little stories. Then there was man vs. nature…

“I think this should be called Jacob’s Troubles,” she said as the story of the boy and the wolf continued to reveal itself to both of us at the same time.

I put a zipline from the hayloft to the boy’s upstairs bedroom. He killed all of the wolf’s friends. Then the grey wolf found the boy in his bedroom.

“..leaving long scratches in the hand made wood staircase leading to Jacob’s room.” I read.

“That’s a good part,” she said.

The boy won. I described how he hacked off the front right paw of the beast and then used its own claw to rip open the wolf’s esophagus by jamming the severed leg down the animal’s open red throat.

She cringed and closed her eyes and sort of squealed. I was pleased with my work and the reactions I had gotten. I felt better.

She was my writing tutor. The full effect that she had on my life was unknown to me at that time, but now I can look back and see exactly what gift she gave to me. She had cut through all of the troubles I had already managed to pick up in life and saw me for what I was. She saw what it was in me that I wanted to give to the world before I even knew it. Drawing the cover art for my story after her suggestion that I could make my own art for my story, I was lost in one of my first forays into the arena of self-expression. She had meant for me to draw later. I didn’t figure that out for a while. She let me draw for several minutes and watched me before clearing up that she meant for me to do that later. It wasn’t the first mis-communication that would leave me the last person to show up to a communication party as my life continued to unfold, but in that moment she had the patience with me to give me one of the most precious things that a human can give to another human: space to express myself without fighting me on it.

Her skills as a teacher were only outdone by her skill as a human being. The role that she played in my life wouldn’t become clear to me until later. The effects of what she did for me as a writing tutor have left me nothing but grateful for her as a person. She passed away a few years ago. Comparing notes in my life now, I was surprised to find that she also had an incredibly pivotal effect on my close friend Jordan’s life as well. The fact that she touched so many other people’s lives did not surprise me at all. The only other private tutor I had in my formal education was a math tutor. He was a really great guy.  Math has not played a significant role in my life, and if it has, I clearly haven’t noticed.

The fact that our kind and magnificent actions in this life affect other people in seemingly magical ways is not something that we need any more numbers-based data to prove, we need only to look into our own hearts.

Adriel Wulf’s Response to COVID-19

Reclaim your brain. Remember when you were little? There’s two ends of the spectrum of childhood: the bliss of clarity and true expression at the beginning, and then the jaded adult at the end of childhood. Everyone hits it in slightly different ways, but most outcomes are the same. Where are you at on the spectrum of adulthood? Are you reinforcing the negative history of your own existence while you are living up inside of your brain? Or are you still tending that spark of light that you had at the beginning?

The world is changing. The world has changed before. The world will change again.

Humanity thrives on adaptation. What’s happening right now from the coronavirus is something we will all adapt to and then humanity will press on and thrive in a new version of the same world. The challenges facing our species are unique. Think of the Black Plague and how it was spread by rats.

Now consider that this is the first time (within the last hundred years) that we have made it possible for a human to be standing in Miami one day, and Moscow the next. We did that. Now consider that we used to live very far apart from each other in farm, ranch, and country houses when living in a city was the oddity. Now consider that we used to have larger households to help shoulder the burden of keeping a home, ranch, or farm and each of those were individually sustainable with extra to trade. Now consider the fact that that was how the majority of us lived for thousands of years, up until about 150 years ago.

Perhaps we went off course. Perhaps we industrial boomed and warred, and then technologied our way into a wall. A wall the planet was always going to put up. Nothing is quite as cold and indifferent as Mother Nature. Perhaps those who lived before us knew not to go our way.

Maybe they knew what connecting every human up with a device that could alter the way they see the planet on an hourly basis would do. Maybe they knew that fully connecting the entire earth with concrete roadways would actually isolate each human in steel while demanding that they guide their own bodies at unheard of speeds and randomly make manslaughterers out of them on a daily basis.

Do you really think that humankind spent thousands of years not making cell phones because they really wanted to but just couldn’t figure out how? We still don’t have a good story for how the pyramids were actually made or what they were actually for. Do you actually think, given what you have seen of nature and how it is always reclaiming what’s its own, right down to the dust of the ground demanding that we return to it, that somehow humankind’s intelligence grew instead of decayed over time? Our knowledge has built on itself, but I’d bet my soul that we lost more key information about our existence on this planet than what we’ve gained or preserved.

I want you to know that I think nearly everything we’ve built in the last 60 years has been a joke. We’ve squandered hours and years figuring out how to trick each other into buying useless items and useless ideas. We’ve fed each other’s hedonism and shown our true colors. All of this resulted in producing an entire generation of “I”s.

I am my bank account. I am my clothes. I am my sexual partner. I am my social media accounts. I am my company. I am my organized religion. I am my own god.

And I am just as guilty of being an “I” instead of a “WE” as all of you.

So here we are, slapped across the face with a brutal and deadly reminder that the laws of the planet have not changed, and we are slowly starting to realize that we are not individuals who get to act solely on our own behalf, but are a group that needs to do what’s best for the group to survive as a whole.

The world stopped and we all are thinking about our own mortality. Remember what you knew when you were young. Before the rat race. Think of a time when you were on top. Now think of a time when you were on bottom. Now remember the first time you were told that there is a top and bottom. Now remember that that moment was brought to you by someone who was on top at that time.

The world stopped and I am at peace, I am happy, I have never been so alive, and I’m so much more comfortable knowing that that growing sense of anxiety I felt the longer I looked at how we lived yesterday and how much of life didn’t make sense to me was warranted. Past life didn’t make much sense to me and frustrated me a lot. This new world we are watching take form makes sense to me. It’s razor sharp and full of life.

It’s full of life because there is always something on the other side. We can dig our way out of this. The loved ones we lose will have something on the other side, I really believe that. Those of us who are left behind get the one thing we all agree upon having: life on this planet.

So if you’re alive, live now. Humanity can always rise to the challenge of survival, and we consistently have up until this point. Changes will occur, as they have always occurred. You do realize that folks just 150 years ago never watched a television screen for even a second in their lives? New ways of living will arise.

We used to make things with our hands and trade them. We used to rely on our communities. We still fought each other, but we fought enemies we could actually see.

Hope springs forth in the department of searching for what values we hold dear, and adjusting those values in order to get an outcome that WE actually want. My generation, at least in the U.S., has a fine collection of shit values. MONEY. POWER. PUSSY. We’ve learned it from television and our parents and teachers. We’ve learned it from mentors and our own peers. It’s all been backed up and reinforced by television and internets, set to the tune of the anthem that is the weekend Top 40 hit list. We’ve even figured out that the first value leads to getting the second value which leads to getting the third. Riches. Influence. Sexual Conquest.

We’ve engaged in this rat race until it has all but become a farce. Now that you’re home and somewhat more disconnected from the supposedly never ending supply chain of empty distractions provided by the amusement park that is modern existence, how do you feel? How does it feel to be separated from your loved ones? How does it feel to not shake the hand of a stranger in order to become friends? How is your own little world these days? Is it loud? Are you still turning up the music to drown out the only part of you that makes sense (the subconscious)?

Ok I’ve had my fun. But seriously, what cracks in our society has COVID-19 uncovered, what have we wasted our time on for these years, and what new and amazing things would you like to see in your future? I ask because things cannot go back to exactly the way they were. I ask because we have a chance to make a new future. I ask because not asking is giving up, and humanity has yet to give up, yet! Bring your spark to our dark new world and see what lights up.

Oh, and I figured out who I am. I am the possibility of enlightening entertainment in the hands of a devil’s advocate with a bleeding heart that just won’t stop smiling at you from the corner.

“What Has It Got in It’s Pocketses?”

There was a time in my life, 2 years ago, when I never carried anything but my wallet when I went out. That might sound minimalist, but the reality was I didn’t know what else to carry around. This was mostly because I had little direction at that time. I had purpose, but very little identity. I didn’t think a strong sense of identity was important. In fact, the way I saw “identity” play out in most people was vanity. I still think that holds true in most cases, but I happened upon direction in my life recently, and that came with a new sense of purpose, and then that created identity. Turns out all that came with things to put in my pockets. I always carry all of these:

Keys.

Those little things that make our lives so much easier, but also harder when lost. Did you know that even if you lock something up, anybody who has a will and is aware of the way can still unlock it?

Chapstick.

Cuz it’s dry in Idaho and one never knows when one might want to use their lips.

Wallet.

Cuz we have an economy of numbers, and sometimes the government wants me to show my papers. Two friends of mine bought that and brought it back to me, from Italy.

Knife.

You’d be surprised at the amount of things you end up cutting once you start carrying a blade.

Pistol.

Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a world where some people didn’t use firearms to end the lives of innocent bystanders? We don’t. I live in this world. I just have to deal with it. Hope I never use it, but there’s a lot of malice on our planet.

Firestarter.

So that Prometheus didn’t go through all that trouble for nothing.

Handkerchief.

Cuz snot.

The title is from C.S. Lewis’s “The Hobbit.” My dad read that to me a long time ago. If you haven’t checked that book out, you should.

A Single Thought

WHACK. What is real and why does it matter?

I’m reading “Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking, and Drying Wood the Scandavian Way” by Lars Mytting and he interviews a man named Arne who points out “My mind is never so empty as it is when I’m chopping wood.”

WHACK. I need to get stamps.

WHACK. What are we having for lunch?

WHACK. How did I get these hands and why do I have them?

WHACK. If reincarnation is real then did Marcus Aurelius come back as Oprah, and is that the Universe’s idea of a joke?

WHACK. Why is my brain preoccupied with what the other humans think of me?

WHACK. Am I in control of my mind or is my mind in control of me?

WHACK. What does a single Adriel look like?

WHACK. What does a single Adriel look like?

WHACK. What does a single Adriel look like?

I’d gotten it down to one thought, at least. It’s mine to answer so don’t worry about it. I swung the axe some more.

That’s what happened on the inside. What happened on the outside was that we chopped a bunch of wood and had a good time. Yes, Billy has a plastic chainsaw! One of the most rewarding things about the process was the concept of something being there that wasn’t there before.

There is much wood to be chopped in my life still. I will continue to attempt to empty my brain indefinitely. The process is rewarding in and of itself.

I’m curious, if you had to boil your brain down to empty, what would be the one last thought that it would cling on to?

A Transitional Year

It’s been a long year.

Let’s look at few events that happened in 2019 using numbers, shall we?

I worked 416 flights for an airline as a flight attendant.

I met a lot of cool places and saw a lot of cool people. I concluded my 6 years there in the Spring.

My last day.

Made 1 new company: A WULF LLC.

I have eliminated the barrier (corporate) between me and full responsibility for my own productivity in my craft.

Made 1 move to the country.

It’s lovely out here.

Experienced 1 shifted value system.

I made incredible discoveries regarding the simpler realities of nature and life on this planet, and am reaping amazing rewards as I connect with a more natural rhythm of life.

I am thankful. I am young(ish), wild, and free(ish).

The Easy Stuff

How much of life is hard?

A lot of your life is complicated because you complicate it.

What you do is what you do. What you agree to do is what you agree to do. It took me a long time to realize I was the one who was complicating my life. This applied a lot to my personal schedule. Damn that calendar was full!

There is no reward for making something more difficult.

For some stupid reason, humans like me and you add unnecessary things to regular life that doesn’t need to be there. Working overtime when no one we are responsible for is starving is a great example. Constantly pretending like there’s a way to be a “perfect” human is another.

Picking an easy thing to do is a great way to get yourself “unstuck.”

When overwhelmed, look for where you are over complicating your life. Then look for what simple and easy thing you can do to move yourself to where you want or need to be, even if it is small. An action is better than no action.

The pic is from when Jordan and I went apple picking. It’s low hanging fruit. Pick it.

Crafting Your Own Reality: “Busyness”

Everybody is “busy.”

There is always something that needs doing or will need doing. The nature of life involves a series of tasks that need to be performed in order to stay alive and thrive. However, that real list of needs is actually very short.

1. Acquire food and eat it.

2. Don’t get killed by the weather, the animals, illness, or the other humans.

3. If you’ve successfully pulled off 1 and 2, then find an outlet for your creative expressions, a person to have sex with, and consider procreation.

Everything else is a want.

You can be up to doing whatever you choose.

Life may seem busy, but you are filling it with stuff. It’s not wrong to do but it’s important to recognize the source of your “busyness.” Since you are the one choosing most of your activities, you get to handcraft and be purposeful about what you are busy being up to everyday.

There is a natural rhythm to life, and I would like to get closer to it.

For me, I’m aiming to approach each day as though it has something for me if I can stay loose enough to see it when it arrives. I’m not looking to schedule every minute. I’m looking to collect life. This week I opened a PO Box, wrote technical documents, stayed up all night with a dear friend, made three batches of deer jerky, Treagered goat legs for the first time, watched Dennis the Menace for the first time, went to a Latin Catholic Mass for the first time, made a lot of jokes, and had three other first time experiences that I’m not even going to tell you about because one was dark, another distasteful, and the other sounds illegal. But I wasn’t busy.

Crafting Your Own Reality: Art

Alyssa and I are selling our house. I walked around the place the other night and took some pictures of the art on our walls with my cellphone.

Cell phone pics usually express more reality than we would like.

A picture is a funny thing. Most photos taken by cellphones are actually a desperate attempt to capture the emotion of what the person taking the picture is experiencing at the time that they are beholding what is in front of them. It rarely works. Still, I am very active in taking pics with my phone. There’s a disturbing genuine quality to it.

Art would be a sign of comfortability if so much art did not come from pain.

It is easy to assume that a civilization that has time for art is obviously in a time of ease, but that doesn’t actually add up. Art is many things, but one thing it is not, usually, is passive. On the receiving end, we humans can not look at anything and remain emotionless or thoughtless. On the creating end, it is much harder to create art when a person is comfortable.

We craft our own reality by snagging bits of expression and putting them on the walls where we live.

It’s an odd thing to consider how we humans see something and want to possess it, claim it, own it, or at least share it as though we had a hand in creating it. It’s not wrong, it’s just interesting. We are constantly collecting ideas that speak to us, and since we are humans who are designed to be social, we want another human to experience the ideas we discover before our time on Earth is up. For more evidence see Facebook, Pinterest, and the rest of the internet. For even more evidence go to a friend’s house for dinner and ask for “the tour.”

Here’s some of what’s on our walls:

We call her Madison. That was the name of the street that our first apartment was on and we got her while we were there. She is over 5 feet tall and I love how she looks at me.

This Salvador Dali was given to me and my brother, Uriah, by our sister Abra over 17 years ago. I love staring at it.

I love movies. Few directors impress me as more plucky than Robert Rodriguez. His art helped me to focus when I studied film in college. The social commentary in the Machete franchise is fascinating, and so is Michelle Rodriguez. This poster reminds me to rebel.

This is in our kitchen. It reminds me to drink deeply of the beautiful things in life.

The flag above my computer in my office where I write. It reminds me to rebel.

This is another gem I keep in my office. I had an art minor in college before I switched to english, and I found this at an expo. Originally I liked the arrangement of shapes. It wasn’t until over 4 years after I bought it, when a guest casually mentioned that “it doesn’t need to be a bottle,” that I realized I may have purchased this particular piece for more primal reasons.

The title pic is an ink print that my sister Coral gave me from a comic convention. It’s called a Xenomorph. To me it speaks of intentionally placed armor, violent charm, and angst. She saw it and immediately thought of me. It’s my spirit animal.

Truly Custom

Jordan and I got a personal project done yesterday. The upstairs bathroom sink in my house is done.

Custom items are appealing to us because we value personal identity.

A lot of our lives are spent figuring out who we are, in some form or another. There is no one perfect way to “do life.” I highly suggest not looking at the other monkeys to figure out what you want to do in your life.

Real originality is almost impossible now.

Custom is different from originality. So many humans have passed through this planet that it is almost impossible to come up with and deliver something truly original. I strongly suggest getting comfortable with that.

Bruce Lee said, “Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically yours.”

I commonly say, when I share ideas, “I haven’t had an original thought in my life,” because the odds are that whatever ideas popped into my head already popped into someone else’s head. There’s been a lot of people on the planet before.

Jordan says, referring to processes and not artistic endeavors, “For most things, somebody else has already perfected it, so don’t re-invent the wheel, just do what the person who is best at doing that thing did.”

Quentin Tarantino is known for his ability to recycle and reassemble film concepts from the past to create new films.

At this point in history, most creation is actually recreation.

What makes something truly custom is how it fits inside of what is already around it.

For the sink, there was a two foot wall on one side, and we determined that a four foot length would be best for the space. Then we designed it. Then we built it. It is rare to create something truly original. Something is truly custom based on how it fits into its surroundings.

The pic is the custom sink and countertop that Jordan helped me make to put in my upstairs bathroom.

Hands On

Touching things is intrinsically human.

When we touch something, we get a feel for it. That’s partly why we shake hands when we meet new people. I happen to have some spiritual ideas and one of them is that our spirits have no hands. I think hands are made specifically for interacting with things on this planet.

Connecting to the planet is important.

There is a time for gloves and a time to sterilize. However, too often sterilization produces isolation from things around us. This is becoming a more difficult problem to balance out as our towns and cities continue to produce more and more complex chemicals and compounds, which are harmful to our natural human bodies. Most of nature is “dirty” but not harmful. In fact, I think touching most of the natural planet can help feed a part of you that might be dying.

I highly recommend getting your hands dirty.

I like to work with my hands to build things.

I like to eat lunches with my hands so that I can interact with my food without isolating myself from it with a fork.

Grab a tree branch with your hands. Pick up a handful of dirt. Stick your hand in a river. Ignore the impulse to wash your hands immediately afterwards.

The title pic is my first time making bread on my own. I used my hands. I loved it.

Jon and Me

Years ago, in the same galaxy that we are still in now, I worked with Jon Blank. I was 19 and weighed less than 125 pounds. Now, over a decade later, we have combined our efforts again, and I work with Jon and his company to lay floors, and install other stuff, too! Lucky for me I’m over 175 pounds, and I win the wrestling match with the carpet roll every time now!

Plankety Blank Flooring builds relationships, floors, and other stuff.

When Jon and I show up at a job site that is actively someone’s home, we make our presence known. We are usually going to be there for a few days, so we get to know the owners’ names and what they are really looking for out of the floor remodel, as well as what they are concerned about. If the kids are around we get to know their names so that we can warn them to stay out of danger. We get to know the pets names so we can include them in our conversations as well, because Jon and me talk. A lot.

We only put our sweat and our blood into our work, not tears.

There are several announcements that Jon and me share with each other when they occur. These announcements are always loud, no matter where the other person is. Some of these announcements are:

“SPLINTER!”

“FIRST BLOOD!”

“PUNCTURE!”

“4:53!”

“SNACK BREAK!”

“NEW BLADE!”

“TACK STRIP!”

“SUCTION!”

No matter what happens, we have fun. We check each other on this by pointing that there is always a solution or just doing a silly dance. No matter what happens, the floor gets done.

Without self-expression, work is nothing.

The bottom line is this: Jon and me both could be doing other things, but we choose to do this at this time. Working with our hands and at our pace suits us. Challenges are overcome using our combined wit and skills. Singing while we accomplish our self-assigned tasks is not only a given, it’s basically a must at this point!

Bridge Thoughts

Jordan and I were walking on a bridge. It was 93 degrees and I was concerned about my swim trunks slipping off since I’ve lost weight. Then Jordan stepped over the railing.

I hesitated.

Jordan hit the water.

Suddenly I wasn’t worried about my pants falling down and random strangers seeing what God gifted me with. I was surprised that my body stopped at the edge of the bridge. A flood of very adult thoughts filled my mind.

The last time I did this was on a rafting trip with Joslin, Janel, and Sierra.

That was over a decade ago.

“I’ll count to three,” Jordan said from the river below.

Three was counted and I was still on the road side of the railing, mostly because I hadn’t agreed to this counting of three.

What if I break a leg? Alyssa is counting on me.

What if I hit the water wrong?

What if I hit the foundation of the bridge?

All things that never occurred to me as a child, when I last did this seemingly ridiculous act.

The adult rationale continued, but in a less likely form.

What if a random log floats from the opposite side of the bridge and then I land on it, and break something that God gifted me with?

The other uncontrollable factors rolled into my brain.

“Push away from the bridge when you step off,” Jordan said, as if he could read my mind, but he was probably reading my body language.

Why am I even doing this?

Another car went by and this one honked.

“That honk was for you by the way,” Jordan said.

It occurred to me that I actually made the choice to jump when I started walking on the bridge. I didn’t care what the human in the car thought. I didn’t care what the human I was inside of thought. My heart rate suddenly increased. It was weird.

“You’re going to write about this later, I’ll go get my camera, we can document this,” Jordan said.

I figured I had been up on the bridge in the sunshine long enough. I climbed over the guardrail and then I looked off to the side and saw a truck that was pulling a horse trailer.

You have to jump before that rig gets here.

I jumped.

Halfway down, I panicked.

Later, over dinner, Jordan pointed out that is was like I was trying to fly my arms back up to the bridge. The result was that I hit my face on the water. My ears rang for a week afterwards. It’s called swimmers slap. It sucks by the way.

After a week of thinking about it, I have noted that I have three main fears right now. Two are physical, one is emotional.

The emotional one is the major threat to my mental comfortably. But through discomfort we grow, and physical pain has nothing to do with our souls, technically. I strongly suggest not living in fear, and just living.

Turns out the only thing between me and a successful physical adult jump was myself!

How Seriously Do You Take Yourself?

“So how do you like working with Adriel?” someone asked Jordan.

“I knew that we would get along,” Jordan replied, “I just didn’t think we would laugh so much of the time.”

It really is important to play while you work.

When we were all kids, most of us played naturally. It was part of life. As adults, we often try to shift our brains into some odd “work mode” that can involve only seriousness. The reality is that our brains function more easily and more creatively when we are at play.

Jordan and I play a lot.

When we were doing the Organizing Phase 1 tasks, we would periodically pick something from the shop up and do something funny with it.

Exhibit A:

Often these jokes were very complex and we would build on them over time.

Exhibit B:

Apply play to your work whenever you can.

No matter what you do for work, a playful approach can give you more energy and help you produce better results. This is how Jordan and I pull off “working” until 2 AM occasionally. We strongly suggest you try making play and see how your body and tasks respond.

The pic was taken when we were taking the wrenches over to the shop.

Jordan said, “We’ve got ourselves a real Mario and Luigi situation here.”

Growing Pleasures

Have you ever watched something grow? Do you find it fascinating or do you find it to be something akin to watching paint dry or corn grow? I’ve done both this past month but what does that really matter? I probably find it fascinating because that is where I am at during this point in my existence on this planet.

Everything I am working on right now could easily be considered “grinding” or “slogging.” I am working on learning the skills involved in building physical things, I am working on crafting the things that I have been writing for over ten years so that they are shareable (publishable), I am working on contributing positively to loved ones around me, and I am (as usual) searching for the ultimate purpose of my soul.

I also eat burritos.

I don’t always tackle a large challenge of human existence, but when I do, I like to tackle them all at once, and pretend that they are not tackling me. Please note, that is not “tickle” but “tackle.” It is not fun, but it is oddly exciting. The place I was at the beginning of 2019 was complacent and upsetting. The place I am headed for at the end of 2019 will be intriguing and peaceful. The place I am now is in the arena and I just got my sword.

I am currently reading “Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones” and James Clear proposes an interesting point in that book. Basically part of what he says in this book is that an ice cube sitting around under 32 degree will not melt. You can do all you can to get the temperature up to 31 degrees, and that may seem like hard work, it still will not melt the ice cube. Then, all of a sudden, that last degree comes in and melts the ice code. Results are “suddenly” realized.

Basically anything that is worth working towards takes hard work. I love hard work. Do I love hard work to a fault? Maybe.

Where are you at? What are you working towards? What do you expect that that particular goal will get you?

I told Jordan I am at a “grinding” phase. He said that is where he lives. That is where he is comfortable. He has achieved much in his lifetime (four years ahead of me) and he says he has much more to attain, and he is aware and comfortable with the fact that he may never fully realize it. The fact that life is a journey and not a destination is incredibly real for both Jordan and myself.

Have you felt pain? Of course you have. How have you responded to that pain? Pain is apparently when growth happens. Why is that? I don’t know, but I can accept it as fact.

Are we fatalists? No, but we are aware that life is fatal. Are we sadists? No, but we are aware that life is sad sometimes. Are we masochists? Maybe.

Where are you at on your journey? Do you know what you want? Do you understand what you need? It’s cool if you don’t, I’m just asking because I think it’s an important question.

The pic shows a plant that was a gift from someone very close to me. The cactus came with a very personal message. I don’t know what to do with the message yet, but I do know how to water the plant until it soaks, wait for the soil to dry before watering it again, keep it in mostly sunlight, and to transfer it to a larger container when needed. The reason I know this is because the beautiful plant came with fucking instructions, unlike life. Keep growing, my friends.

Focus on…

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we are free to do anything.”

So says Tyler Durden in Chuck Palahniuk’s book “Fight Club”. I don’t live my entire life by what I read, but I do live most of my life by what I read. What Tyler is talking about is the odd effect that happens to humans when we are facing our immediate demise. When we are in that situation, we sometimes can immediately see what it is that we wanted to be doing with our lives. Now, ideally, we get to have this clarity regarding what we are doing without experiencing the shock and pain of imminent death, of course.

So keep that idea in mind and skip over to consider this other idea: what is essential in your life? I recently read a great book called “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown and one of the things that he points out is that the word “priority” used to only be used in the singular form. There used to be so “priorities,” there was only a priority. So my question for you and myself after reading this book and considering what Tyler Durden said is this: you could do a million different things, but what is the one thing you want to do?

Of course, this question takes some considering. For one thing, one must consider what parts of their wants that they want to feed. That pondering session will then lead you to think about what you are best suited to do in this life. Somewhere after that long mental train ride, you are going to arrive at the station that causes you to think about what thing you would actually like to do with your life. Ideally, I’d like to get off that train and get to doing that thing as soon as possible. Which leads us to what Jordan and I will be focusing on next…

But more on that later.

By the way, we have wrapped up phase 1 of Project Organize, which was step 26 of a longer term plan, if you didn’t see all of it, you can see future projects play out in real time at my Facebook account. The title picture is what Jordan wrote in chalk on a piece of slate that we hung in the shop, just to help us focus. You don’t need to see all of the shop, yet, however suffice it to say that we took the shop from looking something like this:

To something like this:

Today, we have wrapped up this phase of organization. Why? Because we got shit to do!

1,000 Tiny Things

As Jordan and I were continuing to pick up every single little thing that is in the approximately 2,000 square foot shop, we continued to talk about many things. One of those things is how we in America are usually programmed to expect fast results right freaking now!

Just put the frozen plate of prepped food in the microwave, push the button, play a game on your phone, and then BING! Dinners ready!

Want fast money? You can get it by walking into a fast loan building and asking for it. You’ll pay through the nose later, but BAM! Instant money!

Want six pack abs? Apparently if you buy things you can get those abs in less than two weeks without doing anything! BOOM! You just bought muscle! (And popularity?)

According to the internet, not only are there symmetrically pleasing single people in my area, but they are ready to skip the talk and get right to the “good stuff” right now! BANG! Instant surrogate to true human connection!

And we wonder why there is so much discontentment in our country.

Jordan and I strongly suspect that most things that have real value to the human spirit on this planet take time, and also effort. The good news is that not only is there a great payoff at the end of the longer roads, but the process to get there can be rewarding. There is pain and hardship on some of those roads, to be sure, however once you start taking steps on those long roads to your goals, there is sometimes a sense of peace. You are finally up to something that you really believe in doing, and you can sense that as soon as you take step one.

Jordan and I are somewhere around step 26: put the hardware that has built up for 10 years in an organized and accessible location. It’s taken a few hours, and we both may have had dreams of being buried in screws, but we know the big payoff comes later when we can just reach out and snag the exact screw, bolt, or nail that we need in a single, smooth, beautiful motion.

There were definitely more than just 1,000 pieces of hardware for us to sort, but we did sort it. The alternative was to dump it all into the trash, which was just not an option for either of us. Shortcuts rarely lead to satisfactory results. We also talked about the possible origins of Ancient Egyptian construction technology, but that is a discussion that would just not fit in a blog post.

It took time, but now all the hardware looks more like this:

Machines and Marie Kondo

Jordan and I are currently calibrating the shop in Emmett so that it will create just one thing. Exactly what that thing is we can discuss in detail later, and trust me, that’s coming. The thing that is happening here and now is massive reorganization. The table saw and the planer both need to be in key locations, both because of a need for space around them to be accessible so that wood pieces can be manipulated around them, and because there are dust collection considerations.

Everything needs to be arranged around a central work area. We also need to put things in an organized and easy to access manner, while still allowing for flexible space for new materials that will be acquired as time goes on.

Four years ago, I read Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” I read that book on a work trip after my wife Alyssa read it and recommended it. I loved it. Turned out that it changed my life, and it was magic. Jordan and research is like Hermione Granger and magic, so he was already familiar with the basics of what I started sharing about what I know about organizing. He still went ahead and watched “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix. Now we are both excited about organizing the shop.

We have spent a few days going through everything in the shop and choosing to keep it, sell it, or trash it. It’s a mountain of things to go through, but we are both having a great time doing it. There is so much emotional and physical reward to deliberately placing things where they are most functional and sometimes visually pleasing as well.

Jordan found twenty-three filing cabinets and we began to shape what the shop will look like using these great organizational tools.

Our method of organizing the shop in Emmett is extremely comfortable. We have three modes as we organize. One is us milling quietly about, collecting items, evaluating items, then pow-wowing in order to come up with ideal sorting and storing solutions. A second mode is moving stuff around as we talk endlessly about everything under the sun. One of the thousand topics that we discussed on Thursday involved how unfortunate it is that the word “scat” means both a really cool thing you can do in Jazz and also animal poop. We both feel like American English could use more words with heritage, and also just plain more words. The third mode is the same as the first, except we are both plugged into our ear phones. He was listening to NPR and I was listening to two different audiobooks.

I find the process of sorting to be peaceful and rewarding. The idea of finding something a home feels great. We are taking little steps to achieve the big goal: a shop that is no longer for onsite work, but instead is designed to create just one thing very efficiently.

The process of organizing with a Jordan really is pure magic. We needed small wooden boxes for the screws and nails so that we could grab the ones we wanted and move them to where we were working. Jordan created small wooden boxes. We needed a small wooden shelf for the drills and the radio. Jordan created a small wooden shelf.

We needed wooden boards with holes in them to store the router bits in a physically convenient and visually pleasing way. Jordan created wooden boards with holes in them.

We needed a large wooden shelf with a smaller, suspended shelving unit under it so that we could slide some metal tracking beneath it. Jordan freaking created it, and it was so good.