At one with the serpent

With the juggle being nature’s most biodiverse region, you have to watch out for snakes. Costa Rica’s deadliest snake is the Terciopelo. If you happen to run into one, it could spell the end of your travels.

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The Toricopelo. 

Jungle snakes in general tend to come out at night, and are often found near water, but you never really know where one may be lurking. As such, you’d be wise to watch where you step.

Leon, my good friend whom I was visiting at Mastatal Ranch, warned me about these snakes. He told me it helps him stay present.

I liked that way of thinking about it.

Staying present in the land of snakes is a practical requirement for survival. It also seems like a good metaphor for life, that extends far beyond the scope of the jungle.

Venomous-Snakes

Stay present to avoid the snake. 

Staying present, while sounding simple, is in actuality an incredibly difficult task. We spend about half of our day distracted. Studies have borne this out.

This objectively seems like a horrible statistic about ourselves. How are we to make the most of our beings, if half of our waking hours we can’t focus on what’s directly in front of us?

 

Lack of presence is why we get bitten by the snake. 

Raising our awareness and elevating our collective consciousness is something I hear everyone talking about. Yet, I don’t see people practicing it on an individual level. Personally, I don’t see how we can advance without starting individually, from within. 

I don’t pretend to hold the answers, but I’ve found that by going deep within, I’ve been  better able to presence my mind, and thus bring forward my best self.

Cultivating a presence of mind has helped bring me peace and order. It also allows me to carry on through hard times, and not allow chaotic or despairing thoughts to pervade through my psyche.

Steps to the sun

Meditating, of course, has helped with this. While it is in no way a panacea, it does challenge me to sit for long periods of time, and focus on just my breath. It might sound easy, but it isn’t. It’s one hell of a task.

Nothing exposes me to the chaos of my mind more than sitting still and trying to tame it. But practice stokes patience. And slowly I’ve noticed my brain muscles more capable of focusing on the tasks in front of me for longer periods of time.

Plus, meditation doubly has the effect of slowing me down and getting myself centered in this fast paced, over stimulized world. I’ve found dignity in thought again, by just sitting back and allowing thoughts to come to me as they may. No longer am I distracted by anything that comes my way, nor getting myself lost in portals of digital information.

Like a sensei, I like to think of mediation as my teacher, teaching me how to live, while strengthening my core, inner abilities. And the best part? It can be applied at all times, in all manners of life.

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Another way to think about this is mythologically, whereby you are riding on the back of the snake of chaos. The ride slithers and whips around, and can be filled with peril. However, a present mind has the craft to enjoy it, on the edge of life. A riddled mind on the other hand is apt to be fearful and succumb to the spirally depths of chaos.

This myth is born from our coevolution with snakes. We’re biologically hard-wired to jump and run at the sight of a snake. They threaten our existence. Yet, in the civilized world, where snakes don’t concern us, we still find ourselves governed by the same snake-like, threat-circuitry from old.

So then, analogously, it’s appropriate to think of our potential threats in the world, as potential snakes that lie around us.

It’s for that reason that I’ve learned to presence the snake, and to be at one with it. It offers me the chance to cool my limbic systems, and acquaint myself with my fear-activated centers, so that I can carry on in this world with grace, and find the friend in the slithery foe.

It ain’t easy, but then, what worthwhile thing ever is?

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It’s presence of mind that brings us vitality and life; vibrancy and sunlight.

You can inspect it with veracity, and discover its boundless flow.

And above all, you can love and value the life that endures through it all.

 

JS

 

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The bamboo hut I stayed in, all alone, me and my mind.

 

The Thief & The Chief (Part 3)

The Thief & The Chief (Part 1)

The Thief & The Chief (Part 2)

The sun was scorching and the asphalt painfully reflected it. My prior sense of elevation was firmly gone as a few of those worst scenario thoughts cropped up.

If I can’t find this bus: Where will I stay, where will I go, what will I do? 

I watered them down with cool thoughts and pleasant music, and decided to go back to the one place that looked like it may have promise — a cafe I had passed about 20 minutes prior.

Luckily, my intuition was right. Upon entering the cafe there was a man, about twice my size, speaking English to a couple women he was with. He had long, salt and pepper hair and looked like he knew the place well.

I wasted no time.

“Hey you speak English!” I interjected. “I need some help.”

“Yeah” he laughed, “What’s up?”

“I’m trying to get to Mastatal? Have you heard of it?”

“Oh yeah yeah — it’s just around the corner. I can show you. It doesn’t leave till 3 though” he said looking at the clock, “so you got a couple hours.”

Wow, I thought, feeling thoroughly relieved. That was easy. 

Then we got to talking. He told me about the cycles of the moon and the orbit of the planet. I suppose it was his way of talking about the weather.

“The Cosmos series man… Neil DeGrasse Tyson… It’s all so fascinating. We’re watching it all the time out here, I gotta show people you know, you wouldn’t believe the kinda things people believe out here.”

I laughed. “Oh I believe it,” I said. “Science has trouble getting the word out.”

He laughed and stuck out his hand, “What’s your name?” he asked me.

“Josh”, I replied, shaking his hand.

“Oh, great name! Want to see it in [some indecipherable native language] ?”

He then rolled up his sleeve and showed me his inscribed ink on his tricep.

“Wait, your name’s Josh too?” I said, putting two and two together.

“Yep, Joshua!” he exclaimed proudly. “You know what Joshua means in the Bible right?”

“Well, I’ve heard conflicting accounts.” I replied, somewhat sheepishly, “what do you got for me?”

“Joshua” he said with triumph, “Is the one that booms and bellows at The Man! Refusing to succumb to the wills of a tyrant!”

I smiled. “Huh, I think it fits — I’ll stick with it!” I said, raising a fist in good spirit.

“It’s powerful” he grinned.

He told me a bit about himself. He grew up in Oregon, and came out to Costa Rica 14 years ago, to get a fresh start. Now he owns a large farm and runs a business that works with the land and its inhabitants to better the conditions and build sustainable, regenerative structures — permaculture, essentially.

He’s been to Ojai (my hometown) too — which is always a surprise to me. And he also plans on making a run for Oregon’s governor chair in the perhaps not-so-distant future — or so he claims.

He said that since I’m out here, I should stop by his farm; they were going to be hosting a group event, and I would be more than welcome to join.

I told him sadly that I couldn’t. My destination points had already been screwed in pretty tightly.

“Where are you off to next?” he then asked.

“Well — after Mastatal, I’m off to an event… in Puriscal actually (the region we were currently in), and then I’m off to this festival called Envision.”

“What’s the name of the Puriscal farm?” he queried.

“Oh, I’m not sure.” I said, pausing to think about it. “I just know the event is called NuSeed.”

“Yep! That’s my farm! I thought you might be joining us!”

“Whoa no way?!” I said, taken aback. “What are the chances?”

“Yep!” he proclaimed. “And then we’re all off to Envision too, it’s going to be fun, glad you’ll be with us for the ride!”

Wow, I thought. 

The entire thing was absurd. Here I was, just moments earlier, lost and out of breath, recovering from yesterday’s theft, unsure of my path, only for it to lead here — to a man that shared my name, held my answers, and owned the farm of which spurred me  coming out here in the first place.

Yeah, it’s a small, strange world. 

“Here, I’ll show you the bus stop!” he exclaimed, before I could fully take in the moment.

He then rushed me off around the corner. While we were walking he told me about his farm.

“It’s far off the grid” he said, “no wifi, so come prepared!”.

I told him I would, and that I had been looking to get offline anyway.

He then proceeded to tell me how out of control its gotten with some of his visitor’s and their internet addiction. Apparently, some have spent days of their time going back and forth between the farm and the town just to update their statuses and check themselves in online. The addiction levels had reached all time highs recently, he said.

“Yeah, I know the problem well” I responded. “It affected our elections too. All those propaganda bots”.

“Yeah…” He blew out a sigh. “Donald Trump…” he paused for a second or two and looked over at me. “You know, I don’t cry very often, but these past few weeks man, I’ve felt it. Even all the way out here… It’s heavy, you know?”

I did.

But then he lit up, placing his purple aviator shades over his eyes. “You know though, I’ve been preachin’ Revolution for 25 years brother! It’s time for the people to wake up! It’s now or never man!”

I laughed, feeling like that would be something I would say.

“It’s gotta be parallel infrastructures”, he said. “That’s the only way we’re going to do it.”

Parallel infrastructures?

I had never heard such a term used before in that context — and so naturally I was curious. It’s rare that I hear someone preach revolution and actually seem to have a plan as to how we do it.

There’s that ever elusive ideal: Revolutionizing our systems, without having a bloody revolution on the ground… perhaps we can find a way?

But then, just as I was about to ask him…

“That’s your bus there!” he shouted, over the noise of the street. “You’ll want to get on it a little early, it can fill up.”

And then, before I could mutter another word, “Alright Josh” he said, turning to me “I gotta run, but I’ll see you next week!”

We shook hands, and I thanked him again. I guess parallel infrastructures was going to have to wait.

As for now, I was finally on my way to Mastatal.

What had began with a thief, had concluded with a chief, and my adventure had just begun.

JS

“…But when you talk about destruction, don’t you know that you can count me out…”

The Beatles; Revolution 

Revolution

The Thief & The Chief (Part 2)

Continuation of: The Thief & The Chief (Part 1)

I arose that next morning with every intention to leave San Jose. The hustle and bustle, the smog and the theft, had left me with bitter resentment toward the city. It should be much better in the countryside, I thought.

 

I packed up my stuff and quickly left. I set out for Mastatal, a small village up in the jungly mountains on the Western side. My good friend — I call him my soul bro — is interning there for the year, and from everything I had see thus far, it seemed like a magical place to be.

I taxied to the bus stop and prepped for a long day of travel. The local transit system, especially in third world countries, is far from smooth sailing. All things considered, Costa Rica’s buses weren’t too bad. And at least the city was paved.

I went straight for the back of the bus. The back offers the most relaxing travel, mostly because you aren’t subject to the absolute chaos of the roads. Not to mention cliffs.

As I sat waiting for the bus to take off, I thought about my tribulations thus far. I had little cash on me, no means to withdraw from an ATM, and very little clothes too. Naively I had thought I could purchase clothes on the cheap right away, like I had in SE Asia. Of course, I was wrong, once again.

I was beating myself up. Few things get to me more than lapsing on the same damn mistakes twice. I tried to be grateful — I was wholly intact, and as a traveler that’s about all that matters. Well that, and having a solid head on your shoulders. 

Once the bus got rolling, I took in the developing city and came to appreciate it a little more. I felt empathetic to those before me, to those that had to live in such conditions and endure this kind of environment. I don’t envy them and admire their will to live. I also enjoyed seeing some of the graffiti art that had emerged because of it. A fair amount of intricate designs were around, and I could tell that some good life had emerged from here.

After exiting the city, we hit a long stretch of road, and I turned my attention to the book I had in hand. (For the record: you should always have a book when traveling.)

For me, I returned to my philosophical roots, and brought along an anthology of Friedrich Nietzsche’s work. It remarkably helped to contextualize my life. It felt as if it were expressly written to me, commenting on my recent trifles and affairs. The Gay Science was the specific book I was reading at the time, and it made for some timely, lesson-filled reading — the best sort.

But as the bus began whipping around the mountainsides, I was had to put my reading eyes to rest. I peered out at the jungly landscape that surrounded me and tapped into a more internal mode of being. The beauty was sweeping, but I could feel still residual anger in me that was only bogging me down. I wished to transform it into a state of positivity.

So, meditate, I told myself. Meditate on anger; on its utility, on its presence.

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“Anger makes us blind” says the Dalai Lama. And blindness causes us to lose our way.

So, as such, I engaged in a wide-eyed meditation. It’s an off shoot from the more common closed eye approach, but just as effective.

A few minutes past, and then I felt something hit my shorts. It was a McDonald’s french fry, blotched with ketchup. The lady sitting next me, and her husband, had boarded the bus with a large bag full of McDonalds, and weren’t exactly being tidy about it.

She apologized, and I could tell she felt bad. I smiled and told her it was ok. The Gods must have been smiting me I figured.

 

I then tried again. I took a deep breath and dropped into a trance-like, meditative state. The minutes began to pass by and then, with a sense of elevation, I could feel the cool washing away of my negative emotions while it transposed itself into a serene state of tranquility.

While not entirely uncommon while meditating, it was rare that I felt quite so high from the practice. My eyes, being fully open, added another layer to the exotic feeling.

The goal of meditation, insofar as I can tell, is to quiet the mind. For me, I find that it helps me regulate my emotive states as well as grants me firmer control of my temperament. It demands my time and attention, and as such, is not easy. In fact, it requires much practice and patience, much presence and poise. But in time it lends way to dispassionate power and mind over matter.

I would encourage everyone to give it a try. Or, that is, to try not to try. There’s a great book by that title, — Trying Not To Try — on meditation, that helped me get into the practice and understand the paradoxical nature of it. It’s by Edward Slingerland, and I’d recommend it to those that are interested.

Metaphorically, I think of us as possessing internal hydraulic systems, whereby we have fire hydrants within us that are there to put out the fire when it arrives. Part of our evolution has been the mastery of fire. It bears upon us to ensure we don’t lose sight it. We need to control our fire — the fire. When we do so, voila — we can play with fire a bit;  put on a show and whatnot.

But when we’re not careful — well, then we may be fired. And we’re seeing what happens when that happens

So then, proper maintenance of our hydrants is key, for with a bit of care, we can work to ensure our inhabitants don’t go down in ablaze of fire. Wild fires of fear and loathing are sparked daily, and it’s our job not be implicated by them, and to help those fires cool down where we can. So power up those hydraulics and sit with the meditative practice.

As to how that relates here, all can say is that by my meditating I felt wholesale newer. Regenerated. I had achieved and retained a higher spiritual order of self and did so for the continued duration of the lengthy bus ride. I would observe my thoughts with exaltation, totally detached from them, from afar, and watch as they would rise and fall, and exit and enter.

To some extent, this experience is why I travel. To observe and understand. To interact and explore. To feel exquisite and alone, while yet feeling at one with the greater whole. It’s all there.

Abstracting from particulars. Swirling amongst and amidst the throes of chaos, while  maintaining order from within. Finding love and compassion that endures through all.

Perhaps most notably too — traveling allows me to establish a deep trust in humanity, as I am forced to rely on others when in need, just as they are with me. It’s part of that comfort with the unknown that I oft talk about.

And, it’s a marvel really what crops up while traveling. It’s never what I expect, yet wholly better than what I thought it would be. My good friend puts it best, “Why set expectations, when they continually are exceeded anyway?” To which all I can say is touché.

With such a diverse and wonderful array of thoughts, why would I want to travel any other way? It offers me the spirit of life, and many an art to transpose.

Again though, the ups really do come with the downs. And here, as the bus came to an abrupt halt, I disembarked and discovered I hadn’t a clue where I was. The instructions that had been given to me didn’t seem to match up, and the locals hadn’t a clue what I was talking about with my nonexistent point of reference I had on hand. My lack of Spanish wasn’t helping either, as I felt like I was half the man I wasn’t.

I was, once again, utterly lost.

So I did the only thing I could do: I strapped on my backpack and took to the town square, on a mission in the unknown.

The Thief & The Chief (Part 1)

Whenever I embark on a new journey, I feel like I’m on top of the world. Flying high up in the sky, looking out at the curvature of the earth has that effect.

Airplane View

In addition, I find that there are few things more distinctly new than the attendance of a place unknown. A sense of novelty follows from it and helps keep things fresh and new in your life.

The nature of the unknown means you don’t know what is coming. You get the good with the bad, the bad with the good. It’s that volatility  — traveling without a plan — that lends way to many a variant and an unmatched experiential potency.

For me this is what keeps it so exciting. Maintaining freedom and surrendering control are part and parcel of traveling and exploring. Because really, is it considered exploring — if you already know where you’re going and what is to come?

Suspending those expectations and giving way to the unknown goes a long way.

The implications of this though can sometimes make for wild transgressions as well place you in less than ideal situations. However, as it is in life, it’s rare you get to enjoy all of the benefits without bearing at least some of the costs. So embrace the uncertainty, and travel abundantly, both solo and with companions, and lean into that unknown with some vigor and enthusiasm.

And then be prepared for the times that it backfires, as it did for me here. The start of my Costa Rican travels could not have been much worse — ok well, I suppose they could have, as anything can always be a whole lot worse — but still, all things considered, my travels got off to a pretty turbulent start.

So here I’ll tell the story of my opening travails in Costa Rica (& it’s incredible conclusion in the third part of the entry) while leaving you with this: The second you get too comfortable, and believe you are secure in your surroundings, is the same second you become the most vulnerable to potential attacks. This is especially true on the road. That’s why it can be good to remind yourself that danger (in some form or another) may  lurk around every corner. Cover your tracks, and you are less likely to succumb to the allure of  rainbows and unicorns or the Witch of Hansel and Gretel.

**

The Thief

It marked my first night in Costa Rica.

I had spent it out with some travelers in the metropolis of San Jose, returning to my hostel a bit buzzed and planning on continuing the good night with newly formed international friends.

San-Jose-Costa-Rica

When I arrived back to the hostel though, I was bombarded with text messages informing me from friends and family that my credit cards had been compromised.

I couldn’t believe it. I had been sure to lock my wallet in my locker before going out. When I went up to check though, I found that — while my wallet was sure enough there — it was missing my credit cards as well as $200 dollars. That clever thief… I thought. 

I tried to rack my mind as to how and when it could have happened. I concluded it was nuts…

I had been writing at the corner desk hostel, and had left my wallet out in plain sight. This thief must have been cooly watching me, waiting for their moment to pounce, and got it when I had gotten up briefly to grab some nuts from upstairs. I had gotten too comfortable…

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They then took the credit cards and most the cash and left the wallet there, hoping I wouldn’t notice anytime soon. They we’re right…

I was in disbelief. I then sat down at a nearby couch and took out my phone to assess my bank account and the damage done.

Nearly $1,000 dollars had been spent, it read. I scrolled to see what it was spent on.

KFC … $200. 

It took awhile to fully process  … $200 bucks…  at a Kentucky Fried Chicken… in the middle of Costa Rica. Seriously? 

First of all what a chicken this thief was — because they stole, which is an act of a chicken — a coward! And second because you are what you eat, and this thief just managed to eat $200 dollars worth of fried chicken so, I rest my case.

I then tried to envision just how preposterous an order it must have been. The poor KFC cashier faced by such gargantuan an order, the beleaguered kitchen, the line frenzy that must have formed in its wake, etc…

Then I sat there wanting to believe the money was spent on the maximum amount of people. Perhaps feeding the whole family — or the entire block even, given the sheer magnitude of the order.

But then I realized that in good faith I could never wish for that. For to wish that, I would have to acknowledge that I’d be wishing rancid oil-caked, quite possibly antibiotic-fed, most definitely caged, KFC trademarked chicken on the people. And never in the most treacherous of dreams would I want to do such a thing. Just imagining their stomachs raving as the fullness of KFC’s carcinogenic potential was once again realized, proliferating and wrecking joyful havoc on the biochemical states of the poor unassuming block-party bodies was just altogether too horrid a thought.

So if I can’t even wish for that, I thought fecklessly, I hope this bloody miscreant then scarfed it all down, all $200 of it — that’ll bloody well show ‘em why gluttony is so deadly a sin. 

Of course, after a series of thoughts like this,  I realized that such psychological menace was doing me more harm than good and was getting me nowhere fast.

I tried to counteract it and with some good thoughts — but it was difficult. I was staring at a purchase of over $600 dollars from a nearby mall now, where this damn thief had apparently gone on quite a shopping spree.

My entire Costa Rican experience had been hereby compromised. Everything I had seen had been tainted, and San Jose, with its litany of fast food restaurants and overstuffed mauls, gave me nothing but disdain for the place.

Did all of our American crap have to have spill over here?  Is this really a necessary part of our progress? By the looks of it, consumerist fast-food America had devoured this Costa Rican land faster than Joey Chestnut consumes his hot-dogs, or this thief downs their chicken. Further thoughts of grease-filled horror filled my psyche.

FastFoodAmerica

Figuring then, that there was no sense of me persisting in such dreadful a state, and decided I’d do best to call it a night.

I quietly crawled into bed, closed my little surrounding bed curtains and tucked myself into my equally small bunk bed, saying not a word to anyone — not wanting to burden anyone with such trifles nor arouse any unneeded sympathy.

Thus, I concluded the night feeling a mere speck the size as what I had when I boarded that flight out, high and mighty.

Well — Yin & Yang, I told myself, while falling swiftly asleep.

Yin & Yang.

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Back to Basics: Health

I’ve been writing a lot of things that I don’t feel are up to standard, so I’ve dropped it for awhile, in hopes of returning to some of the material at some future date.

In the meantime I figure I’ll go back to the basics.

In the Sustainable Tour that I took part in, we talked a lot about core values. Core values have the dual effect of stabilizing our existence, while binding ourselves to a larger, more important whole.

America today, it is deemed by many, has lost sight of its core values. When our core values start to erode, our States begin to decay, decompose, and eventually if we’re not careful, collide and collapse.

Luckily you don’t need America, for you yourself to be true to your core values. In fact, better now then ever to hone your center, and abide by the values that you live by. Doing so will not only save you from deteriorating with the masses, but it will also make us all, as Americans, stronger. By exemplifying for others your core values, you help represent us all.

Now, there are infinite amounts of ways to integrate core values into everyday life, but it starts by formulating them for yourself.

That means, instead of me (or somebody else) lecturing you with a pointed figure about the kind of values you should represent, you instead come up with them on your own. This will help you remember and stick by them when it counts.

Later, it becomes important to integrate them with everybody else’s lists, but for now stick with the personal.

To set the stage, I will — over the course of the next five days — post the core values that I wrote down, with a brief description as to why they are important to me. My hope is that it gets you thinking about what you value, so that you can be a more valuable person in this democracy of ours.

One critically important point before I do so though: You do not want to create a hierarchy of values, whereby one value stands above all else. This kind of dominance hierarchy is antithetical to building a core, and it leads to totalitarian thought — something we see a lot of in today’s politics. When you deem one value to take precedence above all else, you’ve lost. It will not allow for a healthy middle and you’ll view everything from that self-espoused adversarial hilltop of yours. Not a good thing.

And one more note, in the Sustainable Living Tour we stuck to five core values, but you can come up with as many as you want. I suggest keeping it to a minimum for now, as you want to build foundationally from them. Complexities and additions can always be added later. Don’t think too hard, I wrote mine in the matter of minute on the back of a bus.

Write what comes intuitively.

CoreValue #1: Health

Valuing and practicing good health has got to be about the best thing you can do for yourself.

If you are not healthy, you will not only generally feel like shit, but you will bring others down with you as well. Don’t be that person.

Unfortunately, America has got to be one of the least fit nations in the developed world. This is not the result of the people making poor choices — though it is that too — but more of an industry of BIG agriculture, stocking our Supermarkets with piles of crap.

There is no nice way to put this, the majority of foods on shelves today in America contribute to our poor collective health, and make us into blobby pieces of shit. As a result, we all get a little fatter, madder and dumber. Again, this is not our fault, per se, but it is our job to now do something about it. Take it upon yourself to get acquainted with good health, whole foods, and nutritional facts so that you can live optimally.

In today’s world, this requires discipline and practice — and lots of it. But adopting good health will lead to clarity of mind, energy of soul, and a striving to drive us all up. Your body and your mind require good health of you, so treat it like it.

I had a good friend that I met on the Sustainable Living Tour that told me about how in China you would go to the doctors, and they would treat you before you get sick. Meaning, they would help ensure you were taking preventative measures before you got sick, to avoid any potential chance of becoming sick. How novel!

In today’s America, we are chronically sick, and only treat the symptoms after the fact, which often have such excruciating side effects (and costs), that you would have been better off without any “help” in the first place. How sick!

So take it upon yourself to practice good health, and we will all support and thank you for it. Most of all you will help, thank and love yourself for doing so.

But just in case the light bulb still hasn’t lit up for you, I’ll conclude by quoting the lightbulb guy himself, Thomas Edison.

“The doctor of the future”, he said, “Will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease. ”

Turn on your lightbulb, and let that good energy flow.

JS

Why I love Trump (A love letter)

“Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Those words were spoken by the great Martin Luther King Jr, a man whom I hold dear to my heart.

The force of those words though cannot be appropriately understood until they are experienced. You simply do not know the power they hold until you’ve come to stare hate in its eyes and match it with love.

Only then can you truly understand what Martin Luther King Jr. meant when he expressed it.

So, I caution you try it.

Try and look at that new President of ours, and meet him with love. It may liberate you.

Or it may not, but that’s ok. I’m not here to judge you, or to place blame on you if you can’t bring yourself to look at him with love yet. We are, as my father said, all at different stages of the grieving process (though grief for you, may be elation for someone else. Watch out).

No matter, I’m here to point out that: when you call evil out, you will be met with evil right back. Thus, if your goal and intention is to subdue and mitigate evil from taking rise, you’d be wise not to breathe fire onto it. Especially considering Donald is the you’re fired guy.

I’ll talk about this more in the coming days, but for now, I’ll move forward and do this love thing the best way I know how, by writing a letter. Bearing in mind that in life, sometimes this love thing is hard.

Here goes.

I love you Donald J. Trump.

Oh, I love you so. 

You have taught me so much, with those big hands of yours. 

Like for instance, that confidence can get me SO far in life. Like really, Oval Office, far.

And you proved to me that, through bullshit, I can spin the world in almost any marvelous way I know how. How artful I can be. 

And while most people out there are terrified of you, I most certainly am not. Not one bit.  For I learned long ago that fear is to be met where it lies. That’s why I love you, Donald. And you can’t escape my reach. 

Donald you know, you do have a hold on me, you do.

You and that big large ego of yours, it’s… sexy. Oh so sexy. How very large it can be at times! That ego of yours. 

But I must say I like a man that gets things done. And so to that end I’m happy to see you taper it down a bit now that you’ve won and all.

I think the people got the idea. 

Or, maybe they didn’t?

But they must of, because you Donald, you showed them. You showed the people that lie can be truth! How crafty you are, you artful man. You really have perfected that art of the deal haven’t you? I believe it’s true.

And Donald, you showed me that narcissism still has a powerful role to play in society. That a timeless story like that never really dies. That it can still infect the masses.

Oh yes you played the Narcissist role well. Remember how well you played it? 

I know I do.

Those marvelous days when you got on that big ol’ debate stage of yours, and stood front and center and stared down those rootin’ tootin’ Republican boys of yours, remember that?  And that girl too, God.. remember her? The one with that face? Fiona, or Florida, or… Fiorina or something like that. She sure made a fool of herself with Cruz, didn’t she? 

Not to mention Crooked Hillary and her Pocahontas followers. My God, what vile creatures you made them out to be. Do they have no etiquette those women? No sense of history? No sense of order? Disgusting, I say. 

And don’t even get me going on Social Justice Warriors. No. No sir-ee. This is a love story. 

About you and about me.

You showed me Donald, that I could be who I wanted to be. You showed me that. 

That’s why I love you Donald! How can I not?

I can be myself now, just like you can! And now I know, I truly know, that if I am talking and I begin to lose my way in that wicked mind of mine, than all I have to do is fake myself out of it!

I just have to take to the stage, flail my hands up in the air, speak loudly, borderline belligerently — you know, for effect — and tell people “Everything is going to be better everytime, everywhere whenever I’m charge! Always!! Nobody can do this better than me. Nobody better than me, myself and I! Nobody.

And wallah!

Would you look at that, it works.

What magic, you possess Donald. What magic indeed.

You turn black into white. Like Orwell. Or… like Michael Jackson does! 

Yeah! Turn it up.

“The way you make me feel. You really turn me on. You really got me going now. My lonely days are gone.” 

Yeah, I see the inner Michael Jackson in you, you devilish little creature you. 

But it’s nice to be free Donald, it’s nice to be free.

I love freedom and I know you do too.

Which is another reason why I love you. Because you love me.

Wow, would you look at that, this whole love thing is rubbing off on me.  

 

I tell you, Melania, she is one lucky lady she is. Think of all the women you could of had Donald. Think of all those beauty pageants you fostered, and all those children you had. Any of them could have been yours. But you choose Melania, and you are a man of commitment. A man of true character. In fact I’d go as far as to say you are THE MAN. 

I envy you so. 

But I know I can’t be selfish with love. No, I must let love be free! I must let it out, not hold on to it. 

Which is why you gotta laugh right!? That’s why I love you Donald, you get that. You know laughter better than most in fact.

When you get on that stage of yours and entertain, and showoff, and do it all in the guise of a tough, brute, it is so effective. Yes what a bull you can be.

Bully bull, Red Bull let’s take flight and wing it, ya know? Redbull has wings. 

Because you Donald get to laugh. Yes you get to laugh at all those people that used to once laugh at you! And how funny is that!? How poetic is that! They were all wrong! And look, they aren’t much laughing now are they?! But you are my friend, you are.  

You know, they really should make a school after you. Not the Trump University one, please no, not that.

No. The bullshit one. The one that is all about the act, not about the name.

For it is the act that we have to learn! In the name of Trump, it is. 

So I suggest we call it Bullshit! Bullshit university! What do you think? 

Here’s the course description.

Bullshit 101. TRIGGER WARNING. You may be triggered. 

Boom. Boom. Boom. That’s all you gotta do. Boom. And once you get booming, there ain’t no stopping you. No more boohoos. No that’s because you learned how to bullshit like a champion. And most will fail. Only the best bullshitters will survive this school. Sorry about it. This is a place for winners. And guns are included. How’s that for safe space? Because here in bullshit 101, half the battle is speaking and carrying out words louder and prouder than most!

In fact, that’s how you are to be graded! By the decimal levels under which you shout! Consider it lesson number one.

That’s bullshit 101, baby. 101 Dalmatians. Think about how many Cruella Di Vil’s we can squelch with this bullshit.

Gosh Donald, I think a Bullshit school like this would do it! It could even solve the inner city crises for us, if you make it affordable enough. 

And then we could have a whole little society of educated Trumpians running our affairs, and it all will be glorious, royal even! Kingly!

“I do hope you knight me, I do, I do. I do hope you knight me.” That’s what all the little girls will be saying. And yes grown men will be too.

Your Highness you will be referred to, Donald. Just like Alexander Hamilton referred to Washington as. “Your expertise, your majesty, your highness!”

But Donald, I’d be remiss to say, I think it will only get you so far. In fact if you could forgive me for a moment, I think I’m feeling a little sick.

Lovesick you could say. 

Because doubts are in my mind. Doubts about your devotion to me. Doubts about your ideas. 

You see it’s hard for me to express this sometimes, because I try and stay astute and good and nice and friendly. I’ve been told by some wise old men and women, that governing myself prudently, and considerately, and decorously could get me far.  

But now I’m not so sure. Because you are giving me ideas.

Ideas — yes.

Which is why if I must say, I’m a little, well perplexed. Perturbed even. 

You see, Carl Jung once said oh so elegantly that, “People don’t have ideas. Ideas have people.” And I kinda like that idea of his. 

And so I guess my concern boils down to this: Do you really believe you are the best? Really? 

And no bullshit. Please. No bullshit. 

I don’t want to have to torture you Donald. Neither you nor I want that. 

So tell me Donald: You aren’t actually Narcissus right? Right? Tell me I’m right. 

You can drop the act now, Donald. We see you up on stage, with all that power you hold. You can drop the mask, you can breathe fresh air!

No need for anger now. Remember, treat it as if it’s comedy! And don’t forget to laugh at yourself. Put a laugh track over yourself if you have to. Whatever it takes. 

And then Donald, when someone brings to your attention good ideas, let them sink in and take hold. Let them sit there for a bit, and consider them. I know you can do it. You’ve done it your whole life. 

And then you can begin to simplify the Byzantine economy that you so adamantly hate. Oh it will be easy. It will be universally simple! And I know how you love universals. You everyman. 

 

That’s because good ideas, have a way of taking hold of you. Let them. Be Jung, and let them. 

You can turn bad shit into good shit with a little composting you know? How’s that for making the most of a shitty situation? 

But enough of the shit. I didn’t come here to talk about love, and I’ve gotten a little off track.  

For I came here to express my love to you Donald, if you’re open to it? Despite my doubts, I think we can get through this. I’m confident we can actually.

Because you know what, you’ve awoken me.

You’ve awoken the people. And that’s why I love you. 

I have been saying for eons how we all need a little waking up, but you’ve actually done it. The sleepwalking masses have been jarred into action. So thank you Donald, I am so grateful for you. You help get me up in the morning. 

And yes, we know there will be some angry little giants that arise, but pay them little mind. Take it from Thomas Jefferson, the man that was looking over you from his portrait today. 

He said “Evil is productive of good. It prevents the degeneracy of government” and that, ” a little rebellion now and then is a good thing! [It’s] as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”

So don’t overreact Donald when some whining babies awaken. They need some love too. They probably in fact just need a little milk. Like you did when you were a whiny little baby. 

And Donald, allow me to apologize to you to. Forgive me Donald, please, for I feel horribly guilty about calling you a clown.

You are no clown Donald, you are a president. A presidential clown. Or, did I say that out loud? Ahhh, I’m just kidding Donald, like George W. 

But really, I am sorry. I don’t mean it condescendingly when I called you a clown, I hope you didn’t take it that way. I think clowns are friendly.

But I’ve heard stories about how some clowns turn evil. I guess it depends on the clown. Lucky for me,  I don’t have Coulrophobia and so hence I am not afraid of an evil clown, or freighted by its archetype.

Nevertheless, I do wonder if we should tell the story of Gotham? Of how the silly clown turns into the tyrannous Joker?  Because that story is no laughing matter. It is serious. So serious that the Joker doesn’t even see it as so.

Why so serious? he says, with that look of menace. 

Mmm, it may be a story worth telling Donald, don’t you agree? 

But maybe for another time Don. For now, let’s dawn a new day, for this has been a long one. 

Tomorrow we can address the issues at hand, and to see the woes of our nature. You can help expose for us the sickness in our ways, and the toxins that have been bottled up for far too long.

You can help us to continue to release them, and allow for us the cathartic healing process that comes with it. 

Rekindled we can be. Phoenixes can be ordered. 

So on this great day, where I put my heart on the line, I will end with some lil nuggets from those before us. In the name of love. 

Enlighten the people” Thomas Jefferson said, “And tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.” 

That man penned the Declaration of Independence. Enlightening words of his. 

And so thank you Donald for you have helped enlighten me. And for that I love you. 

You help us understand Democracy, Independence, America, and each other. And we are going to need those things to survive. 

Because, what’s the alternative?  

To scream and kick and shout down each others throats?

I know how that ends. Division. Disunion. Dissolution. Till death do us part.

So… love? 

Love thy man?  Love the fresh eyes?  Love the questions again?

Love the reopened wounds of our past? Maybe we can begin to remember why they are there? 

Yes, I’ll love it. I’ll choose to love that. 

Which is why, despite all your flaws Donald I will love you. 

And I’ll pray while I do so that one day soon we can come to listen to each other again, as one. 

That we can listen to our vital signs. That we can listen to our brothers, to our sisters, to our mothers, to our fathers, to our cousins, to our uncles, to our aunts, to our nieces, to our nephews, to our grandmas, to our grandpas, and to all those that come before us. 

Because if we can do that, we can begin to love each other again like we are family. And there is no love that is more powerful than that. 

For it is familial love that allows you to extend a hand to a stranger, and greet them with unabashed, unconditional love.

It is familial love that allows love to spread so easily, so seamlessly, to others. And no matter how much hate that stranger harbors, they cannot hurt you, for you love them, and love drives out hate.

That’s Martin Luther King Jr. That’s not me. 

So with that in mind, I declare it with might once more:

“Donald, I love you. I’m happy for you. You have done it, and you’ve done while everyone, EVERYONE, thought you couldn’t! Keep doing it.”

Meanwhile, you out there, reader, keep listening.

Most supremely listen to Mother Nature, and to the mathematical laws that govern our universe. It has infinite knowledge to exude. 

Now, I’ll end on peace.

“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.” Mahatma Ghandi said.

I hope when you wake up, in this new era, in this new world of ours, that it is with love in your heart, and with spirit renewed. Every single day. 

Because my God, we’re going to need it. We are going to need you. 

Keep fighting that good fight now.

Peace and love all,

JS

“Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams, will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way…And, Yes, Together, We Will Make America Great Again. Thank you, God Bless You, And God Bless America” 

Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States

Finding Comfort in the Great Unknown

How do you deal with uncertainty?

With the future perilously uncertain, and inherently so, I think it wise we consider this question at some length.

Allow me to invoke catastrophe to expose just how pernicious uncertainty can hit our gut, and have effects on us in the most wrenching of ways.

Consider this: You are living in a nation that at once seems calm, only to find moments later a litany of bombs dropped from overhead. Immediately the peace is blown to smithereens as a dust filled mushroom cloud fills the sky.

You survive the bombing, but obviously no longer feel safe. You realize you must flee immediately. If you’re to survive, you better as hell find a way out, and fast.

This striking example of how uncertainty destroys our peace is a macrocosm of what happens when we are not adequately prepared in life for what lies ahead. This is how entire nations collapse. But here in the United States, you likely aren’t much concerned about that right now. Nevertheless, catastrophes hit at a local level too. They have the tendency of destroying individuals, even in the greatest of nations.

It’s important to recognize that at any given moment in time something entirely catastrophic can happen to you or to I or to someone we love. We are not exempt from the ills of this world.

Luckily for us, catastrophic moments are rare. Whereas hundreds of thousands of migrants in the Middle East are publicly experiencing these horrors of life right now, we have some sense of normalcy and habit and structure to keep our inner catastrophes contained to the private.

As a matter of fact, a lucky few of us haven’t even experienced what could be classified as a real catastrophe yet. This is truly a remarkable thing, and something we should be eminently grateful for.

But rest assured, if you haven’t experienced it yet, you will. Catastrophe will hit, and it will leave you in momentary ruin. How ruinous it becomes is up to you. So, I ask again, how do you deal with uncertainty? When catastrophe hits, will you be ready?

I suggest you better be. See we don’t often anticipate catastrophes before they happen, for if we did we more often then not could prevent them. By their very nature, catastrophes are blindsiding. They happen to us in uncertain times.

Now let’s take a more everyday, and hence, more mundane example of how uncertainty takes place in your life.

Take the next conversation you have. You might have an idea of who you will speak with next, but maybe not. You probably have some idea of how the conversation will go, but you aren’t exactly certain of the precise verbiage that will be used. Even in the most controlled of settings, there lies some variance in how things will go.

Our day to day lives are met with this small scale uncertainty all the time. Our developed world has done a great job of increasing certainty by managing our chaos and structuring our society, but we can never fully eradicate uncertainty. Chaos and uncertainty will always exist, and our best hope is to adequately manage it, both emotionally, physically, and neurophysiologically.

I could speak at length about whether or not we are doing a good job of this today, but I’ll leave it for another time. Right now I wish for us to merely acknowledge the uncertainty around us, and to embrace it for what it is.

Heraclitus, one of our ancient wester philosophers said “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

We are in a constant state of flux. No matter how much we try and temper our states, we are not and we never will be in a state of inertia. We will always be moving on some level in uncertain ways.

So the question becomes then, what do we do with uncertainty? Do we cower away in fear of it? Do we meet it with curious eyes? Do we jump into it with creative jubilee? Or do we wither away from it in melancholic desolation?

How do we best use uncertainty to our advantage?

I quote Shakespeare here, when he said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”

If you think of the world in this way, as Shakespeare did, you can begin to recognize the fun in it. You get to play the leading role in your story, and all the people around you get to play a part in it. How grand.

Until of course, the play turns tragic.

Because oh yes, there are enemies and villains out there too. There are also many authority figures, telling you how to play your part. Push back against those characters too much and in the wrong ways, and they very well may kill you.

Conversely though, there may be children that enter your stage, and they may be lost and need your help. There may be friends that are in need that you can help provide for. How nice.

There is a lot about the world stage that you cannot control, but there is a lot you can control also.

You cannot control those who enter and exit but you can control your character, and play out the part that you wish. And if you play the part well enough, you can leave a great impact on this world. It’s up to you really. That’s what freedom is. Having that ability to spin it anyway you like.

Recognizing this fact, for me at least, is incredible. It tells me that I can do whatever I want. What power I can hold.

But that power is a testament not to me, but to how powerful and how incredible the enlightenment era is. This blip in time that we live in, insofar as we can tell, is unlike all others. That’s why you mustn’t wait, you must take advantage of it. This is not a time to be complacent, this is not a time to be lazy about your potential. You are living in the most incredible of times, seize it. You might be our only hope.

Because although we live in this incredible time, we also are on the verge of collapse. Just like anything, the best of times, are dangerously close to the worst of times. We don’t need Charles Dickens to tell us that we now have the capability to be nearly whatever we like. And that is dangerous. Think about it, all it takes is the wrong people in charge to watch it all fall.

So while you get to be in charge of your own role in society, you don’t get to keep playing if someone comes along and blows up the stage. It only takes one bad actor for it all to come crumbling down. That’s why plays often become tragic, and succumb to catastrophe. We must not allow it to be so, we only get one known shot at this.

It is with this in mind, that I am charting a different kind of a life for myself. I am setting myself upon a path that will allow, through hardship and strife, me to become the best man I can be. I hope you are too, man (or woman — it’s all the same right?!).

If you are not though, don’t despair. There is yet time. The journey of 10,000 miles begins with one step. Let your past not represent your future.

But to further contextualize this I want to trace the the steps of our enlightened forefathers a bit.

Three to four hundred years ago, the Enlightenment Era took over. The heights of Western Civilization began to bear fruit, and out we came.

But let us understand what enlightenment is — for I worry the concept is being lost. Enlightenment is quite literally the light bulb going on in your head. When you get a good idea in your head, you are metaphorically said to have found the light — you’ve been enlightened. You’ve been better informed, and the lightbulb in you has gone on.

Now, after the lightbulb is on, and after it provides you with the positive insight you need, it wants you to spread it. Which is why it becomes very hard to live in a world that doesn’t recognize the light as light. In fact, enlightened ideas are usually met with apathy and ridicule in society, you must be prepared for it.

That is why it is said that ignorance is bliss. If you have never seen the light, then how can you be let down? For you don’t know any better. Blissfully ignorant you are.

To avoid this state of ignorance, which is how evil takes rise, then we need to understand how enlightenment took charge. We need to understand the underlying phenomena behind enlightenment, so that we can make sure the concept endures.

The enlightenment era, at heart was a rebellion.

It was a rebellion from the old ways of doing and knowing things, and a summoning in of a new way of doing and thinking about things.

From this enlightenment, we emerged. We happened upon newfound ways to live, that came to give us a better life. It exploded with the advent of better science, and it created for us bold, untold futures. Discoveries were made and accepted that looking back, entirely eviscerated the way things used to be, and replaced them with a whole new way of living. We function entirely different now because of them — it’s easy to forget this.

But make no mistake, it was this rebellion of thought and ideas that allowed enlightenment to take off. Prior to it, all knowledge was authoritarian. Something was said to be true, because the powers that be told us it was so. The kings and the monarchs of old needed to control society, which is why questioning of the truth was so harshly met.

The trial and death of Socrates is perhaps the most iconic and compelling example of this. More recently, take Galileo who took to the streets to profess his truths, and was thereby charged with heresy, sentenced to house arrest, and forbidden from ever speaking or writing again. Is there a modern day example here of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange? Something to think about.

Understand: The truth hurts, and it disrupts authoritative society.

The enlightenment era, and its enduring struggle to obtain, promote, and profess truth is always under seize by power figures that be. In some ways it’s incredible that we’ve gotten so far with it.

The Renaissance era really was transformative for us here. We found a way to break through, and live our lives in a whole new way. These technological advancements of ours is what gave way to them and allowed them to carry on. But they have a pervasive effect on society, and our advancements are now so rapid that we can hardly catch up to them — and we certainly can’t seem to control the consequences of their advances.

Technology is changing the way we think, the way we operate, and hence is speeding up our problems. The social world around us is computing information so rapidly that our feeble minds can’t fathom it. With it, chaos is spreading rapidly. The ordered world is having trouble catching up.

And with it, fear is rising, which is giving rise again to authoritarian rule. Law and Order is back, and with a vengeance.

Again, authoritarian order is the antithesis to Enlightenment. It tells you what to think, and pressures you not to question. Which is why we have to fight unwaveringly for enlightenment again. It is why we have to rebel.

The barriers of modern day society will shackle us. They already have. An undue burden has been placed on our youth, and now we have to somehow come to rescue and redeem ourselves from our misguided ways. A glorious redemption it will have to be. Sacrifices of the highest order will have to be made.

But at heart a rebellion of thought is what we need, to spark us back into life. It needs to be heard far and wide and break through to the heights of our power.

Which is exactly why I sit here today and write to you. And it is exactly why I am taking to the world to speak my truth. I’ve put my academic pursuits on hold and my future career endeavors on the back burner, as I’ve hopped on a whole new train of thoughts and experiences. I’m excited to tell you more about them. Because here’s the thing, while you can accomplish a fair amount in a classroom, it pales in comparison to the real world.

To leave a real world impact, and to discover all that you can be, you need to step outside and actually live in it. The world is your best teacher, it always has been and it always will be. And it also has a funny way of telling you stories too, if you pay close attention to it.

As John Lennon once said, “Reality leaves a lot to the imagination”. You’ve got to go out and live in this reality if you want your lightbulbs to flicker and stay lit.

So that’s what I’m doing. I recently quit my valet job to pursue these higher ends. It is now my job to create.

Create my reality, create my vision, create my happiness, through meaning and intent.

The artist in me says create at all costs. Write the novel, tell the stories.

The traveler in me says travel far and travel wide. Carve the path, and walk the walk.

The philosopher in me says think all the thoughts, fashion them out, critique them to death, and then build them back up, again and again and again, ad infinitum.

And then of course my favorite, the manifest socializer in me, says create it all. Create cheer and love, create joy and happiness and do so by leading from the heart, and aligning it with our heads.

That’s my role and that’s the part I am going to play. What is yours?

So here I am again, only this time I plan to stay for while. I will bring you my thoughts from the road and my visions from this wayward journey of mine.

I don’t know where it will lead, but I also wouldn’t want to. That’s what makes the play so compelling, and why we keep watching. We all want to know what comes next.

It is also what makes our lives infinitely uncertain, and magnificently so.

I’m infinitely bound indeed, and so are you.

Rather than run from it, I accept my fate and am bound by conviction to play my part in this infinite world of possibilities to the best of my abilities. I hope to see it through to the very end and hope for it to be a gallantly fruitful life I live.

But with so much out of my control, can I be certain it will be?

I most certainly cannot.

Godsend,

JS

Oh, and peace & love you devils!!