Finding ‘Home’

What is the difference between Good and Evil?

Are they just labels that we assign each concept, or are they concepts that transcend our mere understanding?

And how can I know the difference between the two in this utterly confusing present?

This feels like a silly question to ask since there seem to be so many examples of good and evil in the world today – even asking this question feels unfathomable. But the more I lean towards a limitless inner world and trying to erase the lines of separation around me, I tend to believe that these two labels – these two lines in the sand – are causing far too much trouble than they’re worth.

They are both just energy – but in how we direct this energy, in how we assign it, in how we nurture it, it will manifest very differently. The ultimate agent is ourselves.

 

I know, I know
You can bring the fire
I can bring the bones
I know, I know
You make the fire
My bones will make it grow.

 

This is a lyric from the song “Hometown,” by Twenty One Pilots. To me, these lines represent that any of these forces – good, evil, or countless others that we label – can be invited in, be planted and channeled within us. And from within our mere flesh can be grown. Fostered in our bones.

‘Evil’ is a name we attribute to bad things that happen to us in this world, a force that we negatively associate with. A malicious, chaotic energy. A life-removing energy. ‘Good’ is the name we attribute all that we feel positively about, a force that is uplifting, kind, and benevolent. A loving, life-giving energy.

But these are both just forces of energy to which we ultimately assign a name. And there is nothing in our power to stop either from existing except for this: To nurture the energies that give life, and to ‘let be’ the energies that don’t.

 

A shadow tilts it’s head at me
Spirits in the dark are waiting
I will let the wind go quietly
I will let the wind go quietly

 

We cannot stop the wind. We can only let it blow past us. US being the indomitable beings we are – the pure, open awareness; the calm within the storm. We can know the storms that tumble and rumble will pass. We can have faith in our hearts that these storms, winds, energies and forces beyond will always bother us, and will always blow past.

The “evil” energies and malicious thoughts will always be there, but we have a choice to let them go. To let them be. To remain the observer of these forces rather than the grower of them. And when we recognize love and a life-giving energy – we can invite it in.

We are the vessel from which any and all things may come or not come – it is our individual and collective choice.

This is the pivot of our free will, the crucial choice of what we will grow in our bones. Often gone unrecognized and bogged down in the minutiae of everyday life.

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As these ideas and forces whirl about us, and I fret about making mistakes and nurturing concepts that are not ‘Good’ from within myself, my heart reminds me to look unflinchingly inside: To re-route all things through my heart and examine how those labels are assigned and who did the assigning.

The door of the heart is open, always unlocked with a simple request; a simple recognition. A reminder to me that the lock and key that I imagined there had never existed in the first place.

 

Where we’re from, there’s no sun
Our hometown’s in the dark
Where we’re from, we’re no one
Our hometown’s in the dark

 

This lyric might ultimately mean something else, but for me it speaks of the Heart. That in this darkness of within, the cavern deep, there exists the illumination we seek. It is Home, and it will steer us true.

When we are in love, and acting from love, we will make the right choice – and let the wind go quietly.

 

In Search of “Authenticity”

Self-expression. Is there any arena, stage or circumstance where self-expression is not wanted? Where it’s a bad thing?

I think the generations that have preceded us might have given a different answer than we would today. And if there are situations where self-expression is unwanted, we are slowly ushering them out – asking ourselves why, poking the great machine of cultural correctness.

But regardless the answer of that question, our society and culture of this day is striving – no, craving – an age of expression. Immaculate, unadulterated self-expression.

No limits, no boxes. Just pure US.

Pure authenticity.

Of course, this has led us to an age of superficial “authenticity” where we believe we are being our true selves, moving with pure self-expression – but in reality we are only reacting to an innately buried self-centeredness and idealized earnestness in the current “creative consultant” culture. One that makes us acutely aware that if our authentic ‘Self’ is not brand-right, palatable, and marketable, then maybe our authenticity needs some tweaks and nudges from the realms of self-promotion.

But true authenticity moves from a place beyond the idea of social or monetary profit, and beyond the idea that ‘Authentic You’ will be accepted and revered by the masses.

I am led to think that true authenticity is throwing everything – EVERY thing – out the window and just sitting down in front of a mirror. True authenticity is a search of knowing oneself.

Isn’t that what we all want? To make sense of ourselves in this crazy web called life? To find out what is going on in that boney skull of ours? What is driving us, moving us, putting the fire in our belly? To answer the penultimate question of our lives: Who am I?

And I’m not sure we can ever know ourselves authentically – our true mind, soul, heart, spirit, ‘Self’, thoughts, life – without introspection and self-expression.

That’s what I do here. I write so that I might know myself. I write so that I may self-express these strange thoughts, elucidate them, percolate them, and let them fly. For inevitably, they stoke the fire for ever more ideas, thoughts, and creative tangents from the ether.

All so that I might answer the question.

The other day I watched some of the new ‘visual album’ from Beyonce, entitled “Lemonade.” I was awestruck, and it surprised me. I do not count myself a fan of Ms. Bey. She is a cultural icon and entertainment powerhouse to be sure, but I’ve never really given her or her music much thought until that moment.

It struck me while watching that I was witnessing a great art of self-expression. The raw feeling, meticulously pried apart emotions. This is her delving into the darkness – diving into the journey of knowing oneself – however deep or shallow, we might never know… But this is what that journey looks like, and what that journey can sound like.

And I thought to myself: this might be the only way we can make sense of that journey and the thoughts, feelings, pain, happiness, and sorrows that inhabit us – the deepest parts of us. That the only way for us to process these disparate things and make them whole in us again is through the arrow of self-expression.

[[I do entertain the possibility that the entirety of “Lemonade,” complete with Jay-Z and poet laureate collaboration, could very well be a carefully constructed corporate ruse to make big bucks with an audience that is foaming at the mouth for authenticity. I recognize that – and would laugh pretty hard at the irony if that is the truth! ]]

But in the name of self-expression, aside from all the corporate greed and cultural trends that might drive our lives, I wish to encourage everyone to go out there and get to know the true You. Reach for it. Ask tough questions. Sit with your own comforting and disquieting gaze. Listen to the small voice – the meek one – that is drowned out by expectation and cultural constructs. The small song of the heart strings.

Some musicians make music for the masses and the money. Some purely for the sake of music. And some make it to reach for something beyond themselves… But most artists, first and foremost, make music – or any art – for themselves. To know themselves, to work through their shit in a glorious cascade of self-expression, to spring forward in perpetual renewal.

And perhaps that is why we flock to those artists who can do this so honestly. We see their raw authenticity, even if we cannot outright recognize it. We crave it. We devour it. We appropriate it. We want it for ourselves so badly. A way to know, a way to answer the question of all questions: Who am I?

I cannot condemn or dismiss any art or artist who is putting forth the effort and diving deep into self-expression. For they are being courageous. They are choosing the inner path. They are exploring that last unknown territory that we all yearn to face, but cannot articulate – yet alone consciously choose.

Introspection, reflection, self-expression. All leading down to the final destination: A never-ending, undefined, loving expanse –  Authentic YOU.

 

“None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Writers & Inception

Lately, my writing is getting me fired up. Like a worked up, lathered feeling – almost sexual?! – but in a mental / intellectual way. A spiritual way. Does that even make sense?

I have been doing a lot of world-building in my head for my theoretical novel. An idea that I had in 2009 and hasn’t died – only intensified. I’m inspired and obsessed with writers that can create intense, detailed “other worlds” in their work, and I immerse myself deeply into them. I eat and breathe them. It should be no surprise, then, that I am a huge Game of Thrones fan. I follow fan theories and detailed analyses on the text closely. I want to re-read all the books in the series, and seeing the tall stack of them by my nightstand gets me excited.

A piece of me knows this is what I want to do. Story-crafting, world-building. Reimagining our current world and future worlds. Imagination of the mind… Imagination of the heart.

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Earlier this year I listened to a keynote speech given by the head of innovation for Lowes. (Yes, the home improvement big box store – you are as surprised as I am.) He tackled the subject of how exactly do you innovate  – how do you see what’s coming? How do you see into the future?

Rather than try and keep up with the pace of culture and trends, and try fruitlessly to get ahead of them, he was creating the future. Literally.

They didn’t want to race the trends, they wanted to create the trends, and here’s how: He hired a team of sci-fi writers and gave them all of Lowe’s marketing materials and told them to go write stories about how the company might look as a part of the future. This is called Science-fiction prototyping.

The sci-fi writers wrote, and in the end their stories were translated into graphic novels and distributed to the company. The result? Lowes began developing two initiatives that no one is or was developing. One is a “holoroom” where homeowners can visualize their home improvement projects before they are finished, the other a customer service robot that greets you at the door and knows its way around the store. You can watch a short Youtube clip to see what I’m talking about HERE.

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Science-fiction prototyping. Imagination prototyping.

This really hit me. It really drove home to me, suddenly and deeply, how important it is to be a writer. Writers – and especially science-fiction writers  – are actively creating our collective futures. They influence us, propel us forward, and incept more ideas than any other source. Just think about the fact that something like a ‘holodeck’ is really being created, and NASA is working on a warp drive!

Where did those ideas originally come from? Star Trek.

I imagine that perhaps in olden days, in ancient times, the writers were the oracles. Rather than write lengthy stories they would imagine the future and pull “prophecies” from the ether, influencing the collective consciousness. Creative gurus. The masters of our destinies.

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After hearing this talk about the sci-fi prototyping, I knew in that one sliver of an instant that I needed to write. That I was meant to write. To influence things and propel them forward. To use imagination integrally in my life. To use imagination to gain access to potential knowledge of the future.

What a heady, weird day that was. I was amazed, flabbergasted and passionate. I couldn’t understand why some of my other co-workers were not as floored as I was – they had listened to the same talk, but I was the only one who felt the ‘THUD’ of a mind-melting realization.

I had been looking so hard, and been so dejected, for many months about what in the world I was passionate about. A book I had been reading asked me the question, and I didn’t know how to answer.

Then this keynote talk just dropped in my lap. Slapped me in the face. Punched me in the gut.

You get what you ask for. You really do. But you have to ask.

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My next entry will cover imagination and how I feel it works spiritually. I have found that it is integrally related to my concept of God, and potentially others’ as well.

THIS.

I feel like I’m wanting to tap into a giant reservoir but I’m unable to grasp it, to access it. I keep drilling down and finding traces but no source. But I can feel the source…why can’t I SEE it?!

Said most of all humans since the dawn of time.

I read an article the other day about “Why productive people always find time to exercise.” The concept in a nutshell being: these productive people are so jazzed up about their lives that they cannot WAIT to get up in the morning and live them. In contrast, we people who don’t like our jobs a ton dread getting up, grumble about the alarm clock, count the minutes until the end of the day, and then turn on Netflix when we get home – staying up later than we should and starting the whole cycle over again.

Yes… I agree with this. I definitely don’t feel an urgent passion for my day job. It’s really great, and I count my blessings I get to do something creative and challenging, but it doesn’t dominate my thoughts outside the office. Here, outside the office,  I live for time with my family, friends, conversation, and mostly….

THIS.

This writing. This reflection. I look forward to this ALL day. I have been feeling restless, like a fire burning within me that wants out but I don’t know where to let it out to. This writing feels like the first step. It provides a space for the thoughts and fire to go. Otherwise they would die in my head and end there. But here…I can think out loud in a sense. Maybe I can bring myself closer to that source that I am feeling but not seeing. The essence that is drawing me in. I’m getting closer, feeling the bits and pieces make more sense.

I’ve heard of artists that talk about how they are not the true creators – that in a sense the ideas and art chase them down instead of vice versa. That they have no choice but to submit. One author, I am forgetting their name, said she could literally SEE the words coming. She would try to run from them but they’d tackle her down. She’d have to grab a pen and go. She had no choice.

I’ve been feeling more and more like this lately; the word ‘conduit’ coming up again and again. I try to run but it’s gaining on me, nipping at my heels, infesting my brain, planning to take me down whether I want it to or not.

But I want it to – and I welcome it.