The girl shrieked
the cameras recoiled
No one had to look up
Because there was
no one left.
There was just…
And there was no way
to ever get back again.
Everything had been…
The mothers knew better
but the knowing was not
accessible to them.
They had sealed it
with the pain of mortality
and reality of chaos.
The fathers knew better
but most were afraid
of the mothers
and were not strong enough
I don’t know if I am strong enough to hold.
The biggest monster
has been revealed
I love my birthday but it hasn’t always been that way. Throwing a party for myself is something I’ve avoided. I don’t want it, don’t want the attention, it’s silly, useless and indulgent. I’m perfectly capable of planning a party to celebrate the birthday of my son, but when it comes to celebrating the birth of me…forget it!
I mean, imagine, throwing a birthday party for yourself and inviting all your friends and just celebrating YOU! You could have invitations, balloons, cake, dancing, singing and have everyone bring you presents. I’m going to take a guess that some people LOVE this thought, and not in a self-indulgent way, but in a healthy…“of course, why wouldn’t I celebrate myself”, kind of way. I’m not one of those people, or at least I haven’t been for most of my life.
And when I say “those people” I mean the ones that have a healthy connection to the logic of having a relationship with yourself the people who understand there actually is a “self” that is worthy of celebration, not just a “self” that is put aside to get shit done or that can be ignored and mistaken as a pillar of silent “strength”. No! A self that is the same self that existed when you were born, when you turned 3, 7, 10, 15, 21…the same self that you see in children, that’s the self worth celebrating. That’s the self that at some point in my life, I stopped celebrating. Thank god for women and children!
But I decided some years ago that I didn’t want that anymore. The birth of my son cut right through my hard, calculating, action driven shell and remembered to me the beauty and innocence of my own humanity, my own softness and at once it was crystal clear that not only did I want something different for my son, but I understood that that meant wanting something different for myself. What was it that I wanted? Simply put, a world of peace. I remembered it was more important than any work, any job, any fun, any friends any thing…I remembered from all the events of my life, that a world of peace was what I wanted for most for my new boy.
Well it means wishing and hoping and wanting isn’t enough, unfortunately. It means if I truly want a peaceful world for my son I must be willing to look at where peace comes from.
Where does peace come from?
If I know where it comes from then, like a seed or the potential of a seed, I can prepare the ground, perhaps nurture the seed, tend the seedling and do what is necessary to grow it. If I know where it comes from…If I don’t know where it comes from, it will be impossible for me to grow peace.
So back to my BIRTHDAY!
After all what really is a birthday celebration but a celebration of your unique, personal, precious self. And what does it mean if I don’t celebrate this precious self? What if I don’t even recognize I have a precious self? Ooooh, I don’t think that’s good. I don’t think that’s good for a peaceful world for my son. And so I’m learning to recognize this part of me. Not in an indulgent, me, me, me, type of way (although sometimes it may feel like that), but in the same way that I would recognize my son, or a child, as precious. Celebrating begins to become more natural once recognition starts to happen.
And every birthday since I began this journey almost 8 years ago, I get to see how much has changed from the previous year, I get to experience a part of me that has long been neglected and forgotten, I get to celebrate that part of me, nurture it and continue on until the next birthday marks another measuring point.
I’m starting to understand where peace comes from. Happy Birthday to me!
It’s hard not to think about life these days. Everywhere I turn I meet animals, living things; the earth is waking up.
Today I’m not sure if it’s possible to verify anything unless you’re present to experience it yourself. I try to refrain from “knowing” unless I happen to be there and even then I sometimes wonder “if that really happened”. So when I say that Junior Seau killed himself I say it without any first-hand experience of his particular circumstance.
What would it be like, that single second before you pull the trigger; the moment which you actually begin to act on the decision you’ve been agonizing over.
If Seau was happy with his life isn’t it safe to assume he wouldn’t have ended it? Suicide by gun is not something that simply happens one day, it’s the result of much thought, much ebbing and flowing of emotions and experiences taking years, maybe decades. Junior Seau obviously didn’t show the world what was going on underneath, what we all saw and wanted to see was only a reflection of the real person, the person that put a gun to his chest and pulled the trigger. Who was that person, that’s what I want to know. Who was that Junior Seau.
What’s troubling for me and the reason I chose to write about the reaction to his death is the fact that people want to remember the reflection. No one wants to remember the boy who became the person who’s name was Junior Seau. This is an example of the tragedy of our human lives. We seldom look at what’s real, even when what’s fake destroys itself completely.
I am sorry for Junior’s pain and I am sorry for the pain and confusion of those that knew and loved him. But I won’t honor his life by remembering what a great guy or what a great athlete or what a great hero or what a great restauranteur or what a great dad or what a great son or what a great anything he was. Because, in a sense, he wasn’t. And by honoring those things in him, the things we all wanted him to be, needed him to be, we are honoring the reasons (or at least part of the reasons) he killed himself. We are upholding the lies we tell ourselves and our children, that happiness and joy can masquerade as something else.
Who is it that will be missed? It seems like it’s the same Junior Seau who couldn’t stand to be alive anymore. Are we wrong? Could we be wrong about a boy who only wants love and comfort (as we all do when we start out) and finds, instead, athletic achievement and worship? Are we wrong to think having it all, money, “love”, fame, personality, good-guy-ness is the key to being happy?
Obviously we are.
Junior Seau and others who choose the same path are nothing like who and what we think. The sooner we stop celebrating the reflections the sooner we will begin to recognize our own humanity and discover that our search to heal what hurts on the inside can never be won on the outside. And the sooner we destroy that myth the sooner our children will realize that it’s ok to fail, it’s ok to feel pain, it’s ok to be vulnerable which, as an effect, will produce adults that understand that this life, alone, is the most precious gift we could ever find.
Our children need us to celebrate truth in life, not achievment after death. Junior Seau was not a hero. He was not an inspiration, at least not in the way that everyone wishes and wants him to be. He was a deeply, deeply troubled person and human who never learned how precious he was and who never found anyone amidst his thousands, perhaps millions of fans and “friends” who could help him release what finally took a bullet hole to let out.
It’s ok to remember and it’s necessary to mourn but the real tragedy of Junior Seau is that we are not being honest with ourselves and each other about who he was and who we are.
I got up this morning to coach an Ethos class at 7am. It’s important to me and it’s becoming less of a fight with my laziness because I let it be important to me and I support that it’s important to me by showing up which helps make me stronger in the fight. I imagine if I keep it up the “fight” in this area of my life may just fade into the past…no more energy spent on the suffering. That’s a nice thought…
I had a chance to write some morning Poetry – morning I find is the best time, or one of the best times, I feel less polluted, more connected to what’s important to me. It struck me, as I put the headphones on, that maybe I was floating away, away to the surface, away from the deeper parts of me, the deeper parts that would provide the STUFF…where the conflict, terror and love live…I put on the headphones, it felt good, but my mind brought the question up and so I followed it…what I found was I choose to make music coming through the phones a restrictive thing (which is no different from making it an expansive thing – at least in the way I was doing it). The point is that there’s something underneath the hearing of the music and that’s where I want to go. I ended up putting the phones on and challenging myself to exist in that moment below the beats I was hearing and then I continued and played with wondering about living underneath sight and smell and sense…
I don’t spend a lot of time questioning my senses or ever wondering what life would be like without them. Is my life better because I see? Hear? And if so, why? I could keep going but instead I’m going to post the poem I wrote…I do hope you enjoy it, I hope in some way that you find it useful, that’s the greatest I could hope for…
What’s underneath the beautiful chaos
rhythmelodic staccato drop beats pound thump
and I feel like I want to exist on the same level
as the beats
coming up, staying up – for air
playing at this level, where most play
it’s easy easy to forget the day
and why not
with a bobbing head one conquers the world.
What’s underneath the beautiful chaos
the spread of buttered beats on my brain of bread
Can I have my bread buttered
and eat it too
and then lift my head, swallowing the beats
thumping down into the belly
ingesting the horns and bleating trumpets
But I’m up for it.
I think it’s going to take some time
and that’s only if I keep practicing.
Otherwise I’m going to be bobbing my head
all the way to the grave
snapping my fingers to a manufactured beat
like a drone
How different am I
from the drone.
What’s underneath the beautiful chaos
what’s inside the package
how important is it to vilify your senses
in order to put things in perspective
so that you can be friends again
I am like a soft and malleable sponge
who thinks he is a rock…
and as I sit, plugged in
I struggle struggle struggle
to get beneath the intent of the music
I struggle to hear only noise
and see only light and dark.
I have to do this because there is something
underneath the beautiful chaos.
This is my day.
I will not pay.
There is a space, long forgotten, a sacred center that burns with the ferocity of the sun and threatens to, at all times, singe and turn to ash all our contrivances and expectations. Perhaps, of course, that is why we have built such barriers, thick and virtually impenetrable around this ferocity. But even our barriers, built of years of misunderstanding our fears, cannot keep out the rumble, the vibration. Just as there is no possibility of the plates of the earth holding up against the bursting of the core, neither can we ever fully die. What one may think is death is only highly trained anger acting as the transferring mechanism for the energy of the soul.
-but wait, golf is on ESPN-
I will not fucking pay and I will not behave myself in the midst of the great energy of fear that is the final result and last gasp of those attempting to forget. And you? What about you? What about your rules and your civil society and your road signs and traffic lights; what about you? Are you proud of yourself and your humanity or are you just getting by, slowly, growing angrier and angrier, unsure of why and even less caring.
There are children who do not know our tricks and there is nothing more important in all of human existence, nothing more important in all the universe, nothing more important in god, than to protect these children from our disease. We must immunize them from the traits and familiar trappings and comfortable niche of fear, we must put them into the roaring river that drives itself along the rocky and uneven bed and allow them to stumble and climb and find their balance and secret caves and freeze in the water and warm them by our own skin and put them back in again. There is only one way.
I’ll be fucked if I’m going to pay! You?
Today is another best day of my life. They just seem to keep coming one after the other. No longer do I think back to this time or that time in the past and recall the feelings I imagine I had, today is the greatest and much of the reason for this is the deepening of my relationship with my son and thus myself.
Today James Arthur is learning German.
I am on the periphery, not a helicopter parent but an observer of this life I, and others, have created. I am seated, working, accomplishing small daily goals of business thanks to technology and just 6 feet away a girl is counting in German and James Arthur is counting back to her. “Eins, Svie, Trie” (phonectically)…he says, “Afful” he says (apple) and a whole spate of other German toddler speak. I get to watch him look at her when she talks, I see his concentration as he hears these words, words that, for the most part, he hasn’t ever heard before. The girl is very animated in her communication, and very repetitive; he looks on, intent, focused, in this moment he is a physical representation of learning. I wonder over the fact that he is so quiet and attentive during this time, so intent and present with her and I wonder when I am like that and more what I am like when I “think” I am learning.
What gifts…I think to myself. But really? Gifts? I am very grateful for my life and I understand that nothing is random, nothing is causeless. These “Gifts” exist because so many others think they are valuable to have in the world. These “Gifts” are a result of action taken, limits overcome, fears faced and relentless persistence towards upholding certain values.
It makes me wonder what I am upholding in my world. It makes me wonder how I uphold or if I uphold what is important to me. Have I simply taken these things in life as “Gifts” to be grateful for and to take, as if presents under the tree? Have I contributed to making these “Gifts” available to others, to improving them, sharing them, supporting them?
My little human, the one I am primarily responsible for (for at least a few years more) runs into the kitchen, following his beautiful German teacher. They don’t speak the same language but they are learning, together and it’s time for me to do more to make sure that this “Gift” stays real in the world. There are people to thank but more importantly there is value to be upheld, human value, the value of joy in the world and the value of teaching children how to be human and in the process…hey look…I get to be more human to!
I am passionate about my coffee. The oily dark beans, the oily-er the better, are an important part of my daily start. It’s much more than just a romantic relationship. So when James Arthur said he wanted to help daddy “grind some coffee” (yes that’s how he said it), I thought, how nice, I can share a little passion for perfection with my son.
Well about half way through what was supposed to be the process it became clear that at least one of us cared nothing for the sacred and well defined art of proper coffee preparation. One of us was much more interested in scooping beans back and forth between bag and grinder; one of us was excited by the clicking of hard shells as they danced and bounced from counter to floor and everywhere in between. Daddy’s first impression was “what a mess” and so when Jake said “Yuk at da mess” Daddy’s heart sunk…but only for a minute and then it all changed as I realized: Boy am I an effective teacher and BOY is he an effective learner.
At that point we both had beans stuck to the bottoms of our feet, they were spread chaotically in every possible crack and crevice, under every appliance…we’ll be finding coffee beans like, Easter eggs, for months and daddy realized, again, how he limits himself and his view of the world…my goodness!
I think now about this limiting habit and I feel emotional about it, not sad, just emotional, like…well…like I have emotions that get covered up by my limiting beliefs, my many limiting beliefs, like there’s only one way to make coffee, like there’s only one use for coffee beans, like there’s such a thing as “a mess”, like making coffee is more important than being present with my son or myself. So, thank you son! All the answers are there, everything is right in front of us, whether we have kids or not but especially with kids, especially kids. Maybe those of us that have manifested children have more to learn, maybe we need more obvious lessons…or maybe it’s just me. Either way I’m so grateful that I am open to the lessons…it takes a while sometimes, other times it happens more immediately and I’m sure there are plenty of lessons I miss but not this morning, nope, not this morning.
This morning I “made” coffee with my son and it was the best coffee I’ve ever had.
Today while spending time with my son it hit me. I’ve been seeing him differently lately (that’s not what hit me) and I think it’s a combination of seeing myself differently and him becoming more “human”. He’s been talking more and we’ve actually been communicating with words, there is understanding like there’s never been before. I can get his attention (sometimes) and actually use words to explain what I’d like him to do and, astonishingly, he seems to understand me; I think this because generally he ends up doing what I ask him. This process of communication is, I think, a natural separation for father and son, for parent and child, a separation that not many recognize. Which brings me back to what hit me today.
My son loves the big green John Deere tractor at the farm we call home. He’s both curious about the big machine with all the levers and moving parts and scared, “It’s Youd!” (toddler speak for “it’s loud”). Daddy (that’s me) drives the big green tractor for different reasons and son gets to experience this either by watching from a distance or, if the circumstance is right, riding in the cab. Today daddy wasn’t going to drive but son had it in his budding mind that he wanted to see the tractor, so off we went before my “adult” life started for the day, father and son taking the walk to the garage where the big green tractor is kept. He wanted me to pick him and I told him that it was nice day for a walk so he walked without further discussion.
We arrived, opened the garage door and I delighted at his excitement voiced in exclamations of the obvious; he climbed up with some help from daddy, pointing out all things as if there existence relied on his recognition.
– I am the luckiest man to walk the earth –
Very quickly he stood up in the seat of the big green tractor and began to wave his hand in the direction of the side window, the same window that I wave from when I’m driving and see him watching from afar. He was waving his hand, too short to actually reach through the window and saying “hy-ohhh, hy-ohhh out dere, hy-ohhh” (toddler speak for “hello, hello out there, hello”). This is what I say to him when I wave my hand to him. “Hello, Hello out there, hello”. He was going to be just like me. He was already just like me.
And that’s when it hit me! No. He could never be just like me or even kind of like me. It hit me that he was his own unique being, his own universe, his own entity; there is no person or thing even close to being like him. What hit me was the difference between being like me and acting like me and the implications of that difference.
The recognition, for me, of the fact that my son is going to act like me but not be like me at once filled me with awe and hope, for humanity, for myself, for him, not because I don’t want him to be like me but more because of the implication of choice that comes with this recognition; with that choice comes free will and access to joy, the purpose of life!
My son will certainly learn how to act like his daddy, even if I were to leave him all together and never see him again he would learn that is how a daddy acts; we fathers are constantly teaching our children. What seems most important is the recognition that what I teach my son does not define his being. His being is only his and is impervious to any teachings or actions, it is within him, for him to discover and share; the best that I can do as a father is recognize this is and not make it more difficult for him by confusing him with his actions. To me this is humanity. To me this makes it clear that we all have it in us to live bigger, fuller, richer lives than we ever imagined and it’s this type of living that I am going for with him.
This was a profound morning of introspection and gifts; the time spent with my son, the view of him as his own being and the deepening of my understanding of myself as a father and of the responsibility I hold in fatherhood. I am (with one other) primarily responsible for this gift of humanity, this child, un-tethered, de-confused, full of wizardry, peace and joy. I am responsible for fostering not prohibiting what lies beneath. I am here to coax and guide, to always be a light. Sometimes it strikes me that the best I can do is to leave him to himself, check the room, make sure there are no “monsters” and simply observe. Other times more direct action is called for, difficult action, action that doesn’t feel loving in the way I grew up to understand it but is driven by something deeply solid, something that defines love differently. This new definition and my responsibility in upholding it humbles me and often times my own hypocrisy serves as a reminder of how far I have to go.
This is my “job” as a father.
**I have been having more and more of these types of mornings, especially in the last three or four years and there’s a big reason why. I chose the journey of self discovery years ago and I’ve been knocking on and opening some doors throughout the course of my life but I never really understood how to knock before coming to Albany and getting more involved with a group called NXIVM with a philosophical leader named Keith Raniere and I am grateful to both for helping me to knock differently! Thank you!