Posts categorized "Observations"

Ethereum: this changes everything

Maybe you haven't noticed, but the world has changed. While most people were busy complaining about Trump, Brexit, the economy, the injustice of it all--complaining that the world is unfair and convinced that it was all going to hell--along comes an entirely different future. News flash: the future is now and it is called Ethereum.

It's like 1994 all over again (you know, that whole Internet thing). Only this time, we're going to get it right. Ethereum is Web 3.0, but much more than that. It is a new economic system in which there is no centralized power. Read that again. What is the opposite of centralized power? Power to the people. In other words: freedom and abundance for people like you and me.

Ethereum is as unstoppable as Bitcoin; however, is designed to power not only cryptocurrency but also any type of application in a decentralized way over what is called a Blockchain (essentially a database that is distributed over thousands of peer-to-peer computers). Data that is stored on a Blockchain is encrypted, so that only a user with the secure key can access it. You can (and should) research this elsewhere, but let's get to the point: it is now possible to build secure applications for the people on an Internet that is beyond the reach of corporations, intelligence agencies or anyone else. Just when they thought they had won, we are once again free.

What might those new applications do? Well, today it is already possible to trade a currency called Ether with a software wallet (much like Bitcoin is stored and traded). Beyond this, Ethereum has what are called Smart Contracts, which enable two parties to come to an agreement on anything (payment terms, shipment and delivery, profit distribution, whatever). Smart Contracts have already been used to establish virtual organizations called DAOs (Distributed Autonomous Organizations) made up of anonymous individuals. Get it? Companies that exist beyond the real world legal system, using a cryptocurrency. Pinch me.

This is very early-stage technology (though it has already been around for a few years). Ethereum is very much real and it isn't going away. This is the new frontier, the wild west. This is an opportunity that comes along maybe twice in a lifetime. If you get behind it, what follows are decades of prosperity. I'm all in. 


The poly romantic

Nothing is more romantic than polyamory. Love is nothing if not a struggle against the world and no form of love is more a struggle against the world than polyamorous love is.

Romantic love does not ask "what do my parents think?" or "is this normal?". True love seeks no approval on Facebook. Crazy, insane love cares little about practicality because it creates its own refuge in some higher place. When in love, nothing matters more than a single second spent looking deeply into your lover's eye. To be in love is to find endless bliss in a simple greeting and to feel total salvation in a tired conversation at the end of a long day. 

Please don't understand what I am saying as just some sort of lovely, romantic sentiment. I mean this literally, as truth. Real love would never ask to be proven through sacrifice, commitment or will-power. The highest form of romantic love doesn't mind taking a wrecking ball to any aspect of your life. If the force of love destroys anything, then it destroys that which must be destroyed for the purpose of good. After all, love is the highest form of truth and good. How could love destroy good? Love cannot be the cause of something bad and to believe so is to be confused about what love does and what goodness is. Negative consequences in love happens only when faith in that love is abandoned. 

To commit to polyamory is to commit to love's highest ideal. To choose polyamory is to place your total, complete faith in love. It is to live each moment open to the possibility of new love just as you continue to honor lasting love. To commit to polyamory is to face dramatic challenges, changes and consequences because you are filled with the natural strength to shrug off judgment, opinions, threats, and ultimatums. If you are poly, you are a fucking beautiful romantic and I love you for it. To be the truest romantic (to be poly) is to know (not just believe) that love is the answer. To live poly is to walk love's walk.

Poly love is love. Anything else is something less than love. Anything less is an arrangement based on conditions. Love never asks anyone to be less or to love less. I still believe in love.


Life without anger

Anger is what you feel when something is said or done that directly opposes something you strongly believe in. Anger is nature's way of alerting you that you are incompatible with a person or situation. The extent to which you feel angry about a person or situation is the degree to which you are incompatible.

This explains the observation that, the more religious, nationalistic, or dogmatic a person is, the more angry that person tends to be. The more strongly you believe in something, the more often something is said or done that directly opposes your beliefs. So the more open-minded a person tends to be, the less angry he or she generally is. We all have our own set of beliefs and we all hold some things sacred, but the difference is that the open-minded person shows respect and tolerance; thus allowing room for others to live according to their own beliefs.

This way of understanding anger also explains why it is generally a bad idea to preach, to judge, or even to offer advice to others. The way to avoid anger in your life is to express your own convictions as your own, and allow others the space to do the same. Through tolerance and open-mindedness, even two people who hold conflicting beliefs or opinions can achieve compatibility. They can experience the beauty of life without anger.

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Cosmoprof Bologna - 100,000 people looking for beauty in all the wrong places

Today I am among 100,000 people at the cosmetic industry trade show called Cosmoprof Worldwide in Bologna, Italy. We walk endless miles with aching feet, stopping only to shout politely at each other to negotiate over the roaring sound of spectacle. We’ve come to this place to profit from the business of making a woman beautiful. But what is it that makes a woman beautiful?

I’m sitting on a dirty floor in my expensive suite. On my lap is a notebook and in my hands is a pencil. I close my eyes to feel my nerves pulsate in an uncomfortable way. Music thumps behind me as hundreds pass me by. Strangers from around the world sit near me, eat pizza, and talk in languages I do not understand. We lean our backs against an advertisement. Already 3 people have taken photos of us, though I’m not exactly sure whether they are curious about us or the sign behind us. My emotions are numb but my mind seems clear for a moment. So quite inappropriately, I write.

Why have we come here? What are we trying to decipher on this signage and in these slogans? What do we hope to discover in these algae creams, perfumes, gels, fake nails, and mud treatments? What are we suffering to sell? What are our customers suffering to buy and laboring to use? We want to be beautiful! We want a better life! We believe we will find it in a product when, in truth, it can only be found in each other. When we think back on our lives, we must have learned that true beauty and genuine happiness can only come from each other.

A woman might spend her fortune and squander her time seeking beauty; yet none of it matters if she is not alive inside, if she is incapable of smiling, or if she is unwilling to listen or care. Beyond this, a woman is most beautiful when she is in love. A woman’s natural beauty effortlessly shines when she is open to love, seeking love, experiencing love, and giving her love to another. When I look at a woman, I perceive something beyond the surface. I know that her beauty cannot be purchased and does not come from her beauty rituals. The truest beauty can only come to her through the love of another person.

100,000 people share this crowded place; yet we have never felt lonelier. We have never been further away from filling that void inside of us. No product will ever provide us with what we are truly seeking. Whatever it is that we are missing; it can only actually be given by another person. If we are going to find true happiness, we need a people economy. The product economy isn’t going to work. Time to go to my next meeting. 


Meditation is much easier (and more beneficial) than I thought

I used to think that meditation was nothing other than a waste of time. The truth is, I'd never even given the topic much thought. What would be the point of feeling calm and "centered"? The idea of sitting still for 20 minutes with my eyes closed...well it just wasn't something I would ever want to do.

Then I started listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast. Almost without exception, Tim's guests (all of whom are extraordinary, super-successful and accomplished leaders in their respective fields) talk to some extent about meditation and how it is important to them. So I started thinking...if it is good enough for the likes of Seth Godin, Kevin Rose, Jason Silva, Mike Shinoda, Richard Branson, Maria Popova, and Tim Ferriss, himself...well maybe it is something I might consider. When I then started hearing Russell Brand talk about how it changed his life, that was my tipping-point. Perhaps there is some correlation between meditation and the success, wisdom, and overall effectiveness that these remarkable people demonstrate?  Could be.  So, a few months ago, I decided to give it a try.

Starting with a blank slate, I first looked up something I had heard of called transcendental medidation (TM). It turns out, this type of meditation is most commonly practiced by celebrities and it is probably the most well-known form of meditation. The bad news is that I found that it was nearly impossible to begin practicing TM without first going through a course. How long is the course? How much does it cost? None of this information was readily available. So I did as the site requires and submitted an inquiry. A day or two passed, no response.  

Probably because of my location in Europe, it took the TM people 3 weeks until they finally did respond...and then I was told that I would have to travel 12 hours to the nearest person who could teach me. The process of learning TM would take about 4 days. Oh, and the price is based on my place of residence (so I still didn't have an answer and was left with a strange feeling that they were trying to extract additional funds from me due to  my...American-ness). Here I was, 3 weeks later...on my quest to find inner-peace...and if I was relying on the TM people, I would have found nothing but inner-frustration! To be fair, I'm sure TM is a amazing...maybe I'll even give it a try someday...but I wasn't going to wait because I wanted to try something!

The good new is that I found another (much more simple, practical, and free) way to meditate. Over the years, I had vaguely heard about the concept of "guided meditation". Whereas TM is practiced alone, in silence (as you repeat your own, secret mantra), guided meditation is a lot easier and more approachable to those of us who are not yet aware of our oneness with the universe. You are simply guided along by an instructor, who tells you exactly what to do. So I searched iTunes for some guided meditation podcasts. The first and most popular program I found is called Meditation Oasis. After continuing to search some other sources, I ultimately decided that I trusted Meditation Oasis enough to give it a try.

Maybe this guided meditation isn't going to bring me quite to the level of Gandhi or Russell Brand -- but holy shit, look at me, I'm meditating!!!  

Meditation Oasis

The podcast is hosted by Mary Maddux.  She offers 50 different meditations, for free, on different topics that you can choose based on whatever it is you're going through. I've probably given most play to the Accessing Intuition session, where she takes you on a mental journey beneath the waves of a pond into it's quiet depths.  She then prompts you to essentially "throw a problem" into your calm, deep consciousness...and the solution will come to you in the form of a thought, a vision, a sound, or a sensation. It seems to work pretty well, because my consciousness has offered guidance on some of the most complicated issues I've been dealing with (and also some not-so-complex stuff). To offer an example regarding the not-so-complex stuff, I received an answer from my intuition without even having to consciously throw anything into the depth of my mental pond. Prior to meditating that day, I had spent 20 minutes looking for some important files on my computer, on CD backups, everywhere I could think of without success. I had given up and decided, instead, to meditate. 10 minutes later, in a state of stillness, the answer came to me without any effort at all.

I'd also recommend her Morning Energy guided meditation. Put it this way: you will end up feeling a pulsing sensation of energy in your pelvic region. Not bad, right?! What I realized is that my mind has the power to provide energy (so it seems that energy doesn't only come from coffee, though I still love my coffee). Other meditations of hers that I'd recommend include the Relax Into Sleep meditation if you ever have any problems sleeping. Other shows help you cope with stress, anger, and a variety of feelings you could be dealing with at any given time. I prefer the episodes that include music because, after several days doing this, the music itself becomes an automatic trigger to go into a meditative state.

So, if you've never tried it before, what do I mean "meditative state"? From my experience, it is a state between being awake and asleep. You learn, through Mary's guidance, to accept everything you even allow your mind to wander a bit as long as you bring it back. Everything is doing things right or wrong. If you fall asleep, that's ok too because that's what your body needed. It is a great thing to experience...simply accepting that everything is ok.

So I've been meditating 2x per day; once in the morning after taking my daughter to preschool and before I start working...and then once again in the mid to late afternoon. With respect to meditation in general, I've heard that the best practice is to allow 20 minutes per meditation. However, with this program, I end up coming out after 15 minutes feeling as though I've had the right amount. When I "awaken" from meditation I stretch, yawn, and feel completely calm, relaxed, and accepting of everything. But, you might ask, great, so you feel better...but how has Meditation Oasis affected my life in a tangible way? Here are four general areas where I feel my life has changed through meditation:

1) Mary says, in many of the podcasts, that you can actually get more done in a very relaxed state. I have certainly found this to be true. I work in a much calmer, more relaxed way. After meditating, I actually make fewer mistakes. I don't spend as much time doing things I shouldn't be doing. When my mind is less stressed-out and panicked, I can get more done and do things more effectively. In other words, I do the right things and get better results with less effort.

2) I have much more energy throughout the day. I don't burn myself out after 4 hours of intense work, like I used to. If I start feeling tired after lunch, or stressed, or lousy, then I'll just do another meditation and I'll be good to go for another few hours. It's like recharging the battery on your iPhone. So, in this respect, the 30 minutes per day spent meditating actually lead to a lot more being done through the course of the day. Before meditating, I wasn't so much limited by lack of time, but by lack of energy. This has changed pretty dramatically.

3) I'm healthier. So far I haven't been ill. Also, because I go for massages because I have real problems with my back (mostly stress in the shoulders and neck), I noticed another big change. During my last two massages, my therapist noticed that I was a different person. No tension at all in the areas where I used to have tension. This is related to allowing my shoulders and arms to fully relax 2x per day.

4) I'm more on top of my emotions.  I'm aware of my emotions and, as you learn through meditation, the process of being aware is the same process that helps you overcome stuff. You don't have to force yourself to feel, or to do anything at all. It is enough to "breath-in" to your anger or anxiety, and in time it will go away. You can go on with your day in a relaxed way.

January is typically a very stressful time for me. I'm hustling for new customers, booking summer concerts for Abscondo, now I'm raising funds for my startup and putting a dev team together.  I'm actually working about 2x or 3x harder than I was before I started meditating. However, largely thanks to meditation (and Meditation Oasis in particular), I'm in a really good place right now despite the challenges and the workload I'm facing. Life feels lighter and I feel happier.

In my experience after these two months, meditation is as important to your lifestyle as eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising. Meditation is, quite simply, just something our minds need to is an ancient gift that we can embrace to go through life in a much better way. It also makes you sound really cool because you can act all deep and mystical.

Life is (also) elsewhere

There is a certain attitude among people who live in cities like London, New York, and Paris that they are living "at the center of things". There is an unspoken attitude that the mundane details of their lives are somehow more interesting and important just because they happen to live in a place that "counts".  Their careers are thought to be more important, the neighborhoods they live in somehow mean something significant, their circle of friends and their social activities are thought to be fascinating, and their restaurants are to be raved about as the best in the world. Everything about their lives are assumed to be more evolved and advanced than those of us living in places that are less popular and familiar.

This attitude is not only held by inhabitants of major cities, but unfortunately it is also shared by most of us who have chosen to live elsewhere. We actually, deep down, believe the lie that our lives are less significant because we aren't walking streets that are routinely shown in the movies. I suppose TV and films promote this narrative, as most of them take place in one of these major cities. Also, our friends who move away often return only to make us feel insignificant by bragging about their fabulous and glamorous lives elsewhere. Everywhere we turn, this attitude is reinforced. 

I used to be quite the offender. When I lived in Seattle, I was insufferable. When I would travel back to my hometown (or when I would go anywhere else in the world really) I was never shy about informing people about how wonderful and perfect things were in Seattle. I felt as though I was living somewhere that "counted" though my adopted Seattle opinions and values were cool, correct, and though our food was better...our coffee was better...our people were more educated...and of course I was superior because I happened to have a rented apartment (and a boring job) there.

So is it true? Is a walk down a beautiful street in Trieste, Italy somehow less interesting or important than a walk down 5th Avenue? Is a beautiful apartment in Ljubljana, Slovenia somehow less beautiful than an over-priced, smaller one in the center of London? Is a walk with a lover in a neighborhood park any less romantic than a long taxi ride and a walk in Central Park? Is a wonderful meal in Miskolc, Hungary less tasty than an average one in Paris, France? Is an 80-hour workweek in NYC truly superior than a 4-hour workweek in Kosice, Slovakia? Everything is relative.

Nobody is to blame because we all live in a bubble that is created by our community, our profession, our circle of friends, and even by the entertainment and content we consume. Life can be beautiful in wonderful in NYC, London, and Paris...but it can also be beautiful and full of endless possibilities in Madison, Wisconsin or Kosice, Slovakia.

Your life has value when you have found a place that feels like home and when your days are filled with the balance that works for you. Life is beautiful when it is filled with love, with joy, with ideas, desires, adventures, successes, and failures. Life is exciting when it is filled with the growth of new experiences, interesting tastes, new sounds, challenging ideas, and open or honest relationships. Life has meaning when you create something that is truly yours. Life is filled with contentment when you earn enough money to stop worrying and start living. All of this is possible, wherever you happen to live.

My point is that it isn't where you live that defines you and gives your life value, it is how you live. Life is (also) elsewhere.

Am I a manic depressive, bi-polar freak?

These past few weeks spent traveling and on the beach have given me time to think (probably too much time to think).  I've made some very difficult, painful discoveries about myself and I think that what I have to say might be interesting to others like me.

Some days I find myself in an absolutely exuberant state of inspiration and brilliance.  On those days, everything works -- relationships, creativity, work, and everything else I engage in.  I am full of energy and, when I let that energy shine into the world, life is beautiful.  I hold onto this version of me as my self-identity.  This is the identity that I attempt to project to the world.  But it isn't the full truth about who I am.

The problem is that I am never able to sustain the inspired state of being beyond a few days.  After some time, I find myself burning-out or maybe just becoming too influenced by the depressing state of things in my life or in the world.  I start worrying about money.  I start to feel the burden of my inability to achieve everything I set out to achieve.  I withdraw from relationships, keeping everything inside.  On my worst days, I go through life with a negative attitude and offer those who love me very little emotionally.  I get depressed.

This is my normal cycle.  The only question is how extreme these extremes can become.  Maybe there's something wrong with me, or maybe this is how any creative, experiential person goes through life.  That is what I'm trying to figure out.  Is this simply normal and inevitable for a person like me?  If so, why do we pretend otherwise?

Is it possible for anyone to maintain an inspired, bliss-filled, exuberant state indefinitely?  I don't think so.  If you allow yourself to enter into a state of feeling fully-alive, it is absolutely inevitable that at some point you will come-down.  That feeling of coming-down, when compared with the feeling of being fully-alive, will always feel like depression.

People like me accept the world not as it is; rather, we see it the way we want to see it.  We try to find beauty where we can, we chase moments of bliss where they can be found, and we take risks to achieve our dreams.  To live freely and openly is to inevitably live somewhat recklessly.  We end up facing more judgment, negative consequences, painful failures, and disappointments than most people.  The natural consequence of bringing a flash of inspiration into the world is that "reality" hits back like a cold shower.

The great ideas we chase are often completely rejected or they fail miserably.  The inspired works of art we create are often criticized or, worse yet, ignored.  The relationships in which we invest our energies often fail to meet our needs in return.  On top of that, we all face financial / economic realities, we get older, people around us pass happens.  And, when life does happen, we feel it more severely than most because oftentimes we are coming-down from a state of being that is really fucking great.  We know how great life can be because we touch it, feel it, experience it all the time.  But nothing lasts forever.  It goes in cycles.

My conclusion: all of this is natural and completely unavoidable.  Nobody who attempts to be or do anything extraordinary can experience life any other way.  To avoid these ups and downs is to live in a way that isn't worth living at all.  

Still, there are things we can do to make it better.  I find that, when I am taking care of my health (eating well on the slow-carb diet, exercising, not drinking too much, and getting enough sleep), then my low-points are not as low.  Also, my wife and daughter bring a great deal of stability and contentedness into my life and keep me sane.  My highs and lows simply aren't as extreme because they are put into the context of this amazing, loving relationship and the responsibilities that come with it.  Finally, I find that it is really important to be a generalist; to pursue many different passions and interests at once.  You can't invest all of your hope, dreams, and expectations into one thing or you could crash in a really big way.

In the end, I don't regret how I live or how I am.  I think back on the overwhelming number of experiences I've had and wouldn't change anything.  My somewhat ridiculously high hopes for the future get me out of bed each day.  That said; I also know that it isn't easy to love me, to live with me, or to understand me.  I don't mean to hurt or disappoint anyone.  This is just how I am and, like all of us, I'm doing the best I can.

The great revolution

The great revolution will come when people simply decide to do exactly what they want to do.

We are told that we are free.  Yet, from the youngest age, we are forced into educational institutions that are designed only to produce obedient behaviors and conformist thinking.  It isn't that we aren't hungry to learn by nature, but true learning isn't something that flows from being locked-up in some institution from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day of our precious, young lives.  This educational system takes away our passions and our individuality in order to prepare us for an adult life that is even worse.  But alternate educational models are emerging.  I will be exploring everything as my daughter starts school in a few years.

When we finally survive our school years, we stare into the abyss of a job market that should terrify anyone.  If young people do find a job, it certainly pays too little.  What today's jobs ask of us is nothing short of everything.  We waste all of our days doing everything but what we would choose to do if we were free.  We work because we are scared.  In return, we are paid just enough (maybe) to find a place to live, buy food, and transportation.  Oh, and then we can try to enjoy some leisure activities with whatever energy we are left with after a work week that leaves us depleted physically, spiritually, and emotionally.  All the while, we worry about debt, health care, our children's education, and so much more.  It would be silly for me to argue any further about how shitty the job market is.  In Europe, in particular, massive numbers of young people are choosing not to work normal jobs because they are refusing to accept it.

For those of us who do accept it, this is how we live.  Days drag on like years while the years somehow fly by.  We desperately find ways to cope with an entire reality that is, by any measure, unacceptable.  We are screaming inside as our hopes and dreams are lost.  When we walk the path we were told to aspire to, we are stripped of all that is good and beautiful as the true potential within each of us fades away and ultimately dies.  This is the path we are directed toward.  This is what the corporate-controlled world wants for us because it is good business for them.  I want you to know that all of it is entirely unnecessary.  There is a different way.

For most of my life, I walked this conventional path as well as anyone.  At age 30, I left it forever.  I won the battle with my inner-voices of fear.  I started doing what I wanted to do.  I want everyone to know that you, yourself, can start a revolution by doing nothing other than by doing what you want to do.  This revolution doesn't happen overnight, but it can happen if you shift your thinking and change the path you're on.

I know that you have interests and you have some sort of skills and talents.  So you have value.  When you find a way to get paid for what you are good at, you will earn a better living than by doing only what you are told to do.  Ultimately, you will end up making more income than you do today by working only a few hours a day.  Anyone can do this.  I highly recommend reading the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.  I began living this way years before the book came out, but his entire approach and philosophy puts all of this into focus.  It will change your life.

As you begin to free-up more time and grow your income, you start to rediscover the person you are.  The goal isn't leisure.  The purpose is not to sit on some beach forever (only until you are bored).  As you discover your freedom, you do more of what excites you.  What do you so badly want to to do or to become?  It will haunt you until you do just get it over with.   Turn your dreams and fantasies into realities.  If you like the reality, hold onto it.  Otherwise move on.  But if you don't experience something you badly want, you will never grow beyond that dream.  Experience is the process of becoming more than you are today.

Why do we keep waiting for a revolution when it is right there within our reach?   We have the power.  We have laptops, we have smart phones, and we have infinite imagination.  While your personal revolution can start tomorrow (as it did for me at age 30), the real break-through will happen when we collectively realize our power to live as we want to.  We don't need to drive to work at some corporation to earn a living.  I have spent the past 10 years inventing a system that will revolutionize the way we live and work.  I am starting the process of raising funding and bringing-in the right partners to build what will become an alternate economy on-line.  Opposite of today's corporate economy, this will be a people economy -- where we are everything we need.  

This system will connect people based what we want.  It is a more efficient form of capitalism whereby we quickly and easily meet all the right people to exchange with and work with just as we also meet all the right people to help us fulfill our hopes, dreams, and fantasies.  I know it will work and I know it is the ultimate purpose of my life to launch this revolution.  

Who am I to attempt this?  I am a musician, writer, entrepreneur, an expert in sales, and so much more.  All of these aspects of my being will continue as I also move in the direction of making this idea a reality.  I want everyone to live as I have over these past years, but even better.  This system will revolutionize the world because, finally, we can be everything we need.  We don't need to fight anyone to win this revolution, we just need to do what we want to do.  Anything worth doing also involves connecting with others.  So we need a better system to connect us with the right people.

So this is my big, revolutionary idea that I will move forward with as fast as possible.  But, in truth, there's no reason to wait for the revolution.  Work hard doing what you are good at (or want to become good at) and find people who will pay you for it.  Do it on your terms.  Work the hours you want to.  Or find a job and work from home (3 hours a day not 9).  Or travel the world and find odd jobs along the way.  There are options.

All of us are free, so why do we continue listening to the echos of teachers, parents, friends, bosses, or the pundits on TV.  Why watch films that steal our imagination by presenting a false picture of normalcy?  Reality is, indeed, what we make of it.  We are free to do what we want with our time, our relationships, our thoughts, our words, our art, and our experiences.  Hard work is necessary and good, but we have to direct that hard work toward something we want.  This is the great revolution.  It will change everything as today's institutions begin crumbling.  

I am surrounded by youth.  In my 4-year-old daughter, I see the potential of life before it gets muted by self-serving institutional agendas.  What if this unique happiness, passion, and desire to learn...what if it could be nurtured and developed properly?  What could she become after the revolution?


Also, as I spend time with the guys in my band and many other 20-somethings, I clearly see their value and potential.  Yet I see many young people working in jobs that require none of their best skills or talents.  Worse yet, many young people are choosing a life of dependency or poverty.  It doesn't have to be this way.  

We can believe in ourselves, take our freedom, and with everything we are...just do what we want.  Imagine.

The living-dead and the fully-alive

To be oneself is to express one’s individuality and eccentricity without shame.  It is to know that, as a well-meaning person, there’s nothing wrong with what you are saying, doing, and being as long as it excites you and makes you feel alive. 

The excitement that is stirred-up inside of us in a stimulating conversation, in a lover’s kiss, on a walk to a beautiful beach, or in a work of art is nothing other than nature nudging us toward the path we are supposed to walk.  We feel pulled in certain directions simply because those are the right directions!

Outside of our necessary work and responsibilities, life should not feel so boring and dull.  Conversations should not come with such great effort.  Impulses to do, to say, or to create should not be stifled for any reason – not for acceptance and not even for love.  Most of us have become so well-adjusted to the inevitability of feeling stifled that we have come to accept it.  Yet, to accept it is to accept a state of living death.

We live among the living dead.  There are the people in our lives who bore us and who return nothing in exchange for the generous offer of our time and energy.  We care about and love these people partially for what we see in them (or what we want to see in them).  We bend and adjust who we are and what we do.  We so carefully monitor ourselves in order to earn their acceptance.  Yet, when we actually earn that acceptance, we feel no reward and we are left only with exhaustion.  In a state of  boredom and exhaustion, we offer nothing and have no non-economic value.

The extent to which a person is living dead is the extent to which they offer nothing.  There is nothing in their words but a muddled-up echo of the establishment media, the corrupt governments, and other self-serving institutions.  To live among the living dead is to attempt to say and do, in practical terms, nothing at all.  The unspoken and unarticulated ideal, which is unknowingly held so dearly by the living dead, is to say, to express, and do nothing.  The purpose of their lives is to leave the world just as it leave the world as though they, themselves, never existed at all.  So our definition of “living dead” is complete.  What do we do about it?  We let nature work.

The burden is not on us, we the fully alive, to carefully select the people in our lives.  We need make no decision.  No effort at all is required to change the people we love and care about.  We need not beg or plead for them to become more like us.  We simply need to live openly and according to our nature.  We simply need to openly follow the path that excites us and makes us feel alive.  The choice is actually theirs to make.  The people in our lives need to decide whether to accept us for who we are.  If they cannot, they will make the decision to disengage.  In doing so, we can be grateful because our time and energy is freed-up to become fully alive and to live among the fully alive.

May we all find the courage to follow the path of that which excites us; even as we whole-heartedly and willingly take-on all of life’s responsibilities, challenges, and burdens.  Life can be exciting, beautiful, and simply great.

American Addict

"America represents 5% of the world’s population but consumes 50% of the world’s prescription pills and over 80% of the world’s prescription narcotics; this is NOT a coincidence."  This is a quote from the film American Addict.  A narcotic is any drug that affects mood or behavior.  Examples of legal narcotics include Prozac, Ridalin, Valium, or any pain-killer.  Americans turn to these drugs for every problem they have and every discomfort they feel.  In fact, a recent study shows that up to 70% of Americans take prescription drugs.  This has a lot to do with how completely fucked Americans are, both as individuals and as a society.

How can it be that anyone actually believes drugs can solve their problems?  Do we turn to illegal drugs like Heroin or Cocaine with a legitimate expectation that doing so will help us work through problems or "balance our brain chemistry"?  Why do we lie to ourselves that legal narcotics are any different?  The simple answer is that we are foolish enough to trust a health care system that lies to us for profit.  Or maybe it just seems easier to go for the quick fix than to do what it would actually require to solve problems.   

Despite what psychiatrists, physicians, and direct-to-consumer drug advertisements tell us, drugs are not the way to solve problems.  Once upon a time, when a teenager or young college student was dealing with angst, he might try to work through these feelings by reading philosophy or literature.  Maybe he would put on some loud music or go to a party.  If that didn't work, he might actually decide to make some changes!  Maybe he would quit a job, maybe travel, maybe change majors or go into a new profession.  

But people on narcotics end up muting their personalities, confusing their thinking, and lessening the potential of their lives in a desperate attempt to cope.  People on narcotics not only become sick and often die from the habit, they end up living lives that fall short of their full potential.

Everything I am and everything I have become is directly related to my feelings of angst, pain, anxiety, longing, and depression.   When I entered the corporate world after University, I fell into a deep depression.  Rather than taking Prozac, I turned to art and beauty for comfort.  I ended up becoming a huge music fan.  As a result of becoming a music fan, I eventually became a songwriter.  Today, when I pick up a guitar and play something...when I write a song...when I get on a stage...the only antidepressant I need is music.  I know that antidepressants would have kept me from feeling anything strong enough to lead me down this path...this path of becoming

Those years in the gray, corporate cubicle in Seattle were the most depressing of my life.  People close to me suggested that I consider antidepressants (which, of course, any professional would have prescribed).  I sought comfort in truth instead.  This led me down a fascinating path of discovery about how our political and economic system really works.  While these truths initially led me into an even deeper depression, I still somehow found comfort in truth.  I began to realize that I wasn't crazy and I wasn't fucked up.  It is the world that is no longer meant for healthy human beings.  It is the system that is fucked.  In a real and profound way, I started to free myself from so many of the tentacles of this cancerous system in which we live.  This journey would have never happened if I had chosen to numb myself with antidepressants.

The depression I felt during those years was extraordinarily painful, but it was emotion that guided me toward the path I was meant to take.  I chose not to medicate myself in order to cope with the unacceptable; rather, to change the unacceptable by continuing to seek that which was desirable.  In the years that followed, I moved to Europe, wrote books, recorded albums, performed, met amazing people, and spent a lot of time in places I never thought I would see.  I have prospered and, more importantly, I have not been depressed.  Actually, my life of experience has left me extraordinarily happy and satisfied.  No, I'm not happy every day...of course not.  I get sad, depressed, agitated, sick, and exhausted just like everybody else does.  But I know that these are the feelings that will nudge me toward some kind of progress.  When I feel that everything is fucked up, I change everything and make progress.  That's how it is supposed to work!  That's why nature has given us these feelings!  Only a fool or coward would attempt to kill these feelings with drugs.

The only way to solve our problems is to change ourselves and change our lives.  To use drugs in order to cope is to remain stuck in a situation that is not acceptable.  Only when our pain and suffering becomes severe enough do we find the courage and strength to follow our intuition and start down the path of becoming. 

Pharmaceutical companies are powerful players in a cancerous system that wants us stuck as servants to the ugly machine of capitalist destruction.  When we take what they are offering, we do not get better.  Instead, we suffer enormous side-effects just to cope for a few hours (until we take the next pill).  Those pills make us physically sick as they kill our emotions, deaden our instincts, change our natural appetites and drives, and make us do something as crazy as learning to accept the unacceptable.  Not to mention, hundreds of thousands of people die from prescription drug overdoses every year (think Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, and Marylyn Monroe).  

When it comes to our emotional pain, the truth is that we must reject all medicine and psychiatry completely.  The solutions to our problems are to be found in the brilliance, beauty, and possibility of the world around us.  The solutions are to be found in love, art, intellectualism, and experience!  Happiness is to be found in that which excites us!  So let's flush the pills down the toilette so that we may continue down nature's path of becoming.