30 May 2008

moonlight sleeping on a midnight lake

Sunday, June 1 marks the beginning of Nomadness 2008, otherwise known as "me being homeless for an unknown period of time." The term "homeless" in English is really too broad - I much prefer the Italian senza tetto, "roofless." I'll have lots of places to stay, friends with couches, motels across America, etc. However, it may be quite some time before I have some fixed location to call "home." And I'm cool with that... for a while, anyway.

This weekend, D is taking off, and her friends (myself included) convinced her not to rent a U-Haul and drive it all the hell the way across the country with her car in tow in the days of $4+ gasoline. I think it's the best choice, but the fact that it's coming at the last minute means she's just dumping all her stuff - including things I left with her - on friends, on the VFW thrift store, and on the street. And it's not, in reality, any different to me if strangers get the $600 Serta Perfect Sleeper I bought in 2005 or if she does... but it sure feels different somehow. Anyway, another lesson in letting go, I guess.

Meanwhile, my best friend - the guy I'm counting on to be my travel buddy - has gone missing. It's not the first time... but I'm increasingly on edge.

Just how totally random is my life about to become?

28 May 2008

16 May 2008

"Always should be someone you really love..."

Indeed.



I think that there will be a day - not too far off - when anti-same-sex-marriage laws will be viewed in much the same way as anti-miscegenation laws are today.

For now, though, we'll have to endure the din of "marriage should be between a man and a woman!!" from now until at least November. What probably nobody will note is that it's men and women who are like the least interested in solemnifying their pair-bond with a trip to the altar...

13 May 2008

When the match found his destiny

I was minding my own business
when suddenly, out of nowhere
you ran your fingers through my hair.

Whoosh!

And in an instant
my head filled with an impossible light
and I turned into smoke, and dust

Gone, gone away
vanished, into the blue sky
and joined with

everything

11 May 2008

Three fiddy


A "500-year" storm devastates The Nation Formerly Known As Burma, killing tens - if not hundreds - of thousands.

Multi-year droughts in southern and eastern Australia - and the Southeastern U.S. - parch the land and put further upward pressure on the price of food.

The icecaps are melting, along with the permafrost... darkening the Earth and releasing the potent greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere in the mother of all vicious cycles from hell.

I have been really wary of all the global warming hoopla, because it has a feeling of being sort of "flavor of the week" stuff - remember when recycling was cool? Then Al Gore put out a movie and everybody became climatologists. And as an old-school environmentalist, it worries me to see global warming push all other issues off the agenda, as the land and oceans get more and more toxic, species destruction reaches insane rates, and our air turns more and more into an unbreathable murk.

Worse - like some 50s horror movie monster - here's nuclear energy making a comeback: The Really Stupid Idea That Wouldn't Die. Using nuclear fission to boil water and create huge amounts of radioactive waste is now being trotted out as the answer to our global warming ills, as if replacing one long-term problem with another is any kind of solution.

There is, however, no question that the danger of global warming to human civilization is fast outstripping everything else. And since many of my friends are human people, it is something that is increasingly freaking me out. The U.S. has successfully foot-dragged for long enough that we are approaching - if not already past - the point of no return. And even if Saint Barry Obama wins the Presidency (something I am not at all sure of, especially if we go to war with Iran this summer), he will still be facing a very powerful let's-keep-doing-nothing lobby trying to stop the U.S. from taking any meaningful action until New York looks like Venice.

Bill McKibben wrote a pretty powerful piece that was published in many U.S. papers today, including the LA Times. In it, he describes Project 350, a campaign that he's starting to build public interest around the idea of lowering the level of CO2 in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, a level that NASA climatologist James Hansen has determined is necessary to "preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted."

Now, I am one of the few who actually believes what global-warming-denier nut jobs say all environmentalists believe: that action to stop climate change is actually a secret plot to destroy capitalism. Because, fundamentally, the manic desire for growth, growth, growth at all costs is what brought the environment - and all of human society - to the brink of catastrophe. We are not going to get out of this with shiny hybrids and compact fluorescent bulbs. The relationship of people to how things are produced and how they are disposed of is going to have to undergo a complete shift if we're going to avoid a global collapse that will probably take industrial society with it. Carbon credits, or the promise of millions of jobs in the "green industry" is just not going to cut it.

So yeah, I'll go "single issue" on this. The goal is to put "350" out there as much as possible, in advance of the successor to the Kyoto Protocol to be signed in Copenhagen next year. I mean, it's not like I think my dinky blog and my beloved six subscribers can do a whole lot of world-changing on our own, but I like to feel I'm doing my small part.

And, like I said in my last post... I'm keeping my eyes open for my next Mission in Life, and who knows but that this might be a part of it?

unknowingness

I opened a book at random today, feeling directionless and unclear about what I should be focusing on. The book was The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida. I opened it to Chapter 12, "Be Willing to Change Everything in Your Life." The chapter begins:
A man must be prepared to give 100% to his purpose, fulfill his karma or dissolve it, and then let go of that specific form of living.
I have been feeling increasingly worn down lately with sort of playing the waiting game before my trip. It's like I feel my inward journey can't begin until the outward one does. What's been challenging to me is "keeping the decks clear" until the trip begins. I want to just be wide-as-the-ocean open to whatever presents itself as I travel.

Of course I'm daydreaming and fantasizing about living in particular places and having certain careers. There's no way for me not to do that, and I won't even try. But what is coming clear for me is that the trip has already begun. So I am opening my eagle eyes right now, and keeping them open.

Deida writes, later in that same chapter:
There is no way to rush this process... it is important to open yourself to a vision of what is next You stay open to a vision of your deeper purpose by not filling your time with distractions... consciously keep yourself open and available to receiving a vision of what is next. It will come.

05 May 2008

I love it when a plan comes together

Yeah... some day I will learn patience. Throughout my life, a path has always presented itself, even if things aren't initially clear. I guess part of the cost of not doing things the "easy" or expected way is a certain amount of ambiguity in the way my life develops. You'd think I'd be used to that by now...

Anyway, towards the end of last week I spoke to my best friend from high school, whom I was planning to go visit after I left San Diego. I mentioned to him that I'd been toying around with the idea of road-tripping instead of flying and he said he'd like to fly out here and drive back with me. Suddenly, the whole dynamic shifted - instead of a long solo expensive drive across the country I was looking at an adventure with my best friend at a time in our lives when we need nothing so much as a good adventure.

So, at the end of June, we'll be leaving the West Coast and driving East, with a planned stop at the Grand Canyon but otherwise playing it pretty much by ear, going wherever the winds and Google Maps for Mobile lead us.

I'll be doing my level best to blog from the road using Jott on my phone, and hope to upload pictures at the odd wireless hotspot. This promises to be a weird experience, so if you want to follow along please feel free to click the "Subscribe to" link at the top to receive my new FeedBurner feed (h/t Christal) by email.

Now, in case you are wondering, I have no idea where I am going to end up. So there'll be, at least, some degree of suspense to the story!

Stay tuned...

03 May 2008

Kapu

The Hawaiian concept of kapu is fundamental in the Polynesian system of thought, and it's not readily explicable to the foreigner. As a non-Polynesian, I am far from certain that I understand it with any depth, so let me start by saying that this is a personal reflection - if you want to understand kapu, start by asking a Polynesian. Humbly.

The word entered our language as "taboo," from Captain Cook's account of his time in Tonga:
Not one of them would sit down, or eat a bit of any thing.... On expressing my surprise at this, they were all taboo, as they said; which word has a very comprehensive meaning; but, in general, signifies that a thing is forbidden...
It's the "very comprehensive meaning" part that I'm concerned with here.

When I was in Hawai'i, I spent a couple years working at a charter school set up and run by Native Hawaiians. Their aim was to perpetuate Hawaiian cultural values into the modern day, so lessons in science, technology and English were interspersed with oli (chant), hula (dance) and native crafts, and every day began and ended with Hawaiian ritual.

In earnest whiteboy fashion I tried very hard to understand not just the form but the significance of Hawaiian ritual. Traditional Hawaiians have a very real, tangible connection to the gods and spirits. They are considered to be made manifest in plants, animals, the weather, and in the sea and sky. Spirits were often invoked to bring success to a fishing voyage, but also in a familial and intimate ways. One of the children at the school told me that her family considered themselves related to the shark 'aumakua (spirit), and that her grandmother used to wade out to feed the sharks in a nearby bay, without danger.

Kapu, as I understood it, meant to create a separate, sacralized space for things or events. In traditional culture, certain foods, for example, were kapu for certain people to eat or kapu at certain times - this is the meaning of kapu, in the sense of "taboo," that is most familiar to non-Polynesians. However, a deeper meaning of kapu can be seen in the general kapu that was placed upon all during the Makahiki or Hawaiian New Year. For about four months following the rise of Makali'i (the constellation Pleiades), there was a general time of rest and religious observance, during which war was forbidden and daily life was filled with celebrations and games (the tradition survives in a tourist-friendly fashion today as the Aloha Festivals).

During Makahiki time in 2001, the school where I worked decided to put all the students and teachers under kapu, enjoining certain behavior and encouraging a positive and supportive spirit (custom and respect prevents me from describing the kapu directly). A Hawaiian friend, whom I greatly respected, told me of receiving a similar kapu from a teacher of his, who passed away before lifting the kapu - thus, the friend told me, he lived his whole life under kapu.

Something about this appealed to me. At the end of Makahiki time, I asked if it would be allowable for me to not take part in the lifting of the kapu. This was discussed among the older teachers, who saw the request as rather odd, but none of them saw any problem with it. The friend who had given me the kapu told me, in essence, "just remember what you are getting yourself into."

Basically, ever since then, any tricky shit I try to get away with gets smacked down hard. I'm not that shady a guy in any regard, but I have to say I watch myself a lot more closely now than I may have done in the past. And I have found it to be true that, if I do anything somewhat out of the ordinary to help others, I seem to be showered with good fortune well out of proportion to anything I might have done to "earn" it.

As I've said, I'm not a Hawaiian. And I was raised to be kind to other people and avoid being a dick whenever and wherever possible. I truly believe that these are good values in and of themselves, not a way to avoid misfortune and get goodies in my life. At the same time, my life under kapu has really underscored the perennial teaching that everything you do comes back to you.

Big time.