In an economy of faith, the doubter is the villain.
In an effort to give a reasoned answer to my critics, and to understand why I behave the way that I do, I will use this time to consider myself as part of a historical world that contains both beauty, and sadness & suffering.
Things that I am, that are "bad":
(-I've been told that these parts of me are failings keeping me from the goal. It would be someone like me to want to state the goal for the record so that we all know what and why we are doing something. I think in this case, in the case against me, "the goal" is pure consciousness, or being without attachment or identification. Pure being.)
i am. . .
desirous of acclaim
really over dramatic
really really over dramatic
maybe a little bullying
Yes. I cry wolf. I doubt you and then myself, and then you again, and then myself again. I tell you that I have faith in what you say, but then want an explanation of why you hold your beliefs. I am a contradiction.
I will not deny that I am not an asshole. But, I can see a pattern in my behavior as recorded in my writings and work. My values are clearly reflected in my decisions and what I have written about. (I have a core that creates and influences my pattern) My "work" and what I "see" is a reflection of who and how I am. My failings I forgive as best as I can, but as for my inability to go along with the crowd without questioning the reasoning, and my ability to stick my neck out. . .) Perhaps doubting is not a failing but a powerful treasure?
So, why am I this way? Which of course is to ask another question, (but to understand that, and perhaps to even grow, we're going to have to use some of the above listed "red" words to get at an answer)
In the year 2000, my then girlfriend and I moved from Idaho to the heart of Seattle. We lived on Capitol Hill directly above and in front of the Space Needle. I worked at UPS, read fiction, listened to NPR & KEXP, made music, and took in as much culture as I could from what is truly a beautiful world city. My favorite things about Seattle are unique to it: the constant misty rain (like living in cloud), the constantly changing light creating a striking beautiful contrast in the jagged peaks of the Olympics and on the water of Elliot Bay, the fishy smells of living near the ocean mixed sometimes with the burnt coffee smells of the Starbucks roasting facility which we were sure really came from the crematorium next to the college.
Seattle is filled with life, like living in a modern and civilized rain forrest. Eagles overhead, possums running around, deer, foxes, raccoons, in the city. One smells and tastes more in Seattle, I swear, because of the humidity. I love eating at Glows, reading a Stranger waiting for the bus, trudging up the hill to THE ONLY coffee in the world, at Vivace. I love skipping rocks in the changing tide at Alki after the tastiest fish & chips I have ever known. The brothers who serve my order look alike and fight often. Their mother once got so exited when she learned that my daughter has a Greek name. I love Jon, Cheryl, and Kevin. They are some of my favorite people in the whole world, and make feel at home there even when I am so far away. . .
We moved to Seattle because it had been my wife's dream to live there. For the preceding five years I had been pursuing international rock stardom as a singer and bassist for an indy rock band in BoySee, ID. Upon our dissolution at the turn of the millennium, I was open for anything.
I had been in and out of college since '90, and had been sober for 9 years at that time. My wife and I had been together and living with one another for about 3 years, and upon making this decision to move to the big city, we lived with her mother for a time to save money. I had been financially self-suffient by this time for about 6 years--since I decided to dump college for rock stardom. (It was a good time. I behaved like me, but I look back and see that I was alive: trying, failing, creating, loving, fighting, learning, understanding, participating, being.)
I've been faulted for talking about talking, and trying to understand process. I've been faulted for letting the drama of my life supersede the work. My life is my work, and drama is life. Life is comprised of relationships, and growth and life occur in the details of drama. I think this is why we like movies so much, they help us understand our own drama--hopefully not to be used instead of drama. . . What's the point of being alive if you aren't going to be alive?
Another interesting point regarding process and understanding is the idea of graduate level study. Because my wife is now in her first semester at work on her MFA in painting, we've both come to learn that the point of graduate work isn't the work so much as it is being able to consciously know and understand the work--to be able to explain just what it is you are doing and why. I guess the point is that you have to stand up with your work and be able to defend it from your worst critics: your friends, mentors and colleagues. You do this then, in private, so that you don't have to defend it later in public. You've become aware and conscious of your work and process and don't have to defend it anymore--it can speak for itself. . .
In Seattle, I was the quintessential "Blank Slate." Like Forrest Gump, I had done a little of everything for a long time. I had worked in a hot and dusty tire store for a few years; Was a short order cook and baker for five years; Washed a million dishes; Had lifted boxes late into the night at UPS for a year. Studied both music and massage for a time; Had been interested in diet, health and healing for a period; Had even worked in a gold mind for a stretch.
I also had a bit of debt from the rock band days. Seems I would charge the necessary items on a credit card that stood between us and making the dream happen. That was a bad idea. Saving would have been a "better" (more disciplined) practice. Thus in Seattle I had to work a lot (for me). I had two jobs the whole time I was there and probably was working about 50 hours a week and going to school. Early on, I ended up getting my second job at the Seattle Central Community College bookstore. It was a natural hop from that job to reconsidering my collegiate career, and so I began taking classes the following quarter. . .
Seattle Central is a very good school. It was Time Magazine's College of the Year for 2001, and is crazy diverse. It took an uptight white boy from Idaho, and put him in a situation where he was the ethnic minority. My classes also had a high ratio of females to male (sometimes as high as 3 or 4 to 1--colleges are filled with young women. The future will likely belong to them because they, as the educated class, will outnumber educated men by a large margin.) It was here, at SCCC, that I felt that I finally learned the things I should have in High School. I felt educated enough to know that I really didn't know anything yet. It did put a mode of exploration and questioning into me, and it was during this time that I began to check out things (books and movies) from the public library in themes, letting the current lead me to the next question and exploration.
Tricky thing about SCCC though, was that they built into the curriculum a kind of cultural awareness and deprograming. Talk about feeling like an asshole. Imagine being the only white guy in a cultural unpacking class with a few black men and a predominantly larger number of women of diverse ethnicities that is unflinchingly looking at western and American social structures, identity politics, equality, and power. Many of these classes clearly pointed out false myths and narratives that engender a power structure based on the false beliefs of the past and the desire to maintain a level of wealth and dominance for those who hold it (my people, the dominant culture, the white guys).
To look upon the world and see how it is, is not judgment. To question why the system is structured the way it is, is not to want to control it, but to have an effect, to be able to influence one's world. Finding liberty in absolute powerlessness is almost impossible. Without hope, life can become a meaningless prison. Of course we do celebrate those who can find liberty in a state of powerlessness, who can find it within themselves, and they do change the world. Victor Frankl is one that comes to mind. His life and decisions are still effecting others. . .
Yet to even beging to allude that contemporary society and a Nazi Death Camp remotely resemble one another is morally sickening. Or is it? I guess it depends upon the individual and the system that we're talking about. Culture and society is comprised of the attitudes and beliefs of the individuals within the group, mostly the IN group. The system that regulates power and communicates your place in that world is a pattern, maybe conscious, maybe not. An individual can and should understand, question, and try to change the primary pattern that orders their world--whether this means family politics, workplace politics, or national politics. Life is emotional, and life is dramatic. I'm not saying that you should get a stick and convince those fuckers that they are wrong, but that an educated discussion of "why" for anything is perfectly reasonable for anyone involved in a activity that has an influence over other people's lives--especially one that seems to be imparting truth or wisdom, or one that says, "We're the good guys, Michael."
What I found missing in me in my cultural identity and politics class was that even though pop culture was a product of my tribe, the white men, I lacked an identity. Dominant culture was my culture, but I couldn't see who my people were, or why we behaved the way we did. I had to look back to my ancestors to find myself by examining what my tribe believed (and this is likely why I studied German literature upon my return to Idaho).
I know that this looks like a huge contradiction. If we are all one, how can we be different? We all live in, and came from different places, and The Land influences who we are because of how we live and what we eat. I followed my trail back to pagan Germany. Yes, I understand now. Recently I ran across this quote--"If you don't know your history, then you're homeless." And this validates how I felt until I ventured forward on my path backwards to my source, back through England to the pagan forests of Germany.
I mean, what's there to transcend if one doesn't know who one is, or from whence one came. It makes sense that you're going to have an identity before you can go beyond it. That said, if your identity happens to be that of the world's bad guys--the Germans--you may likely learn a thing about nuance. Which I think I did, and which I'd like to share with you. . .
Although I've been sitting on this for quite a time now(a few weeks at least), I hope to share more soon. I really haven't even gotten into what I wanted to write about--the transformation of mom into pop--a plastic attempt at heaven on earth (which is the cause of our suffering at this point, and will likely kill us if we don't begin to behave differently).
A Murray Christmas to you!