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7 Signs that may Indicate a Life Course Shift

1.    You have an urge to explore your potential and in the course of doing so you find yourself reviewing your past. A past you desire to detach yourself from, in order to create and explore new possibilities of your own making.

2.    You want to spend more time alone away from negativity and drama, but not isolated and lonely.

3.    You crave change in your current environment be it the sense of home and/or employment, for something that is uniquely yours and that accommodates your true purpose.

4.    You find yourself feeling acute emotions when looking at past or current situations while trying to move pass them into a more philosophical or spiritual way of Being.

5.    You have the desire to give up on harmful habits that no longer serve you, be it toxic interaction with people or substances, that drain strength, inner-peace and the sense of wellbeing.

6.    Your current world view no longer makes sense to you. Things, objects, desires, goals you once placed great value in, no longer holds importance to you, and perhaps feels harmful to the new sense of identity or purpose you are moving towards.

7.    You gain an awareness, of a conscious synchronicity of words and actions that repeat in your life, that come together as if as a signpost to direct you into right action and towards revealing your naked truth and your mission in life.

 

Life as Art

It’s Spring and like bears after hibernation people seem to be getting out of their caves more and doing things. In my recent meet ups with my peeps there is a lot of chatter the last few months around ART – as in having seen it, or going to see it or new places to find it and even discussions about who’s doing it dead or alive.  That’s all well and good but you can get so involved in that idea that ART is out there, that one forgets everyone is an Artist to some extent, and perhaps a dam good one at one time or another in their life. They are good at something, maybe a lot of different things – it could be wood carving and auto mechanics. You could be a great brick layer with people saying yep, the way he works, he’s a great craftsman, an artist and a great chef too! Okay, I heard you in the back bleachers. Yes, as the wise guy in the bleachers has shouted out. We can all be exceptional in something, even if it is being the best bull shitter in the room. That still counts as Art, the art of bullshit.

We need to somehow sustain that knowledge of ourselves as artist in the continuing shift of our talents throughout our lifetime. Taking pride associated with doing a job well done, be it baker, lawyer, candle-stick maker, architect, musician, mechanic, painter, web-builder, actor, physicist, and or dancer (you choose) and then do it.

This dialogue may be of assistance for you guys who feel you have no, or have not found your ART (aka) talent yet.   Even the mention of the word talent…worse the word ‘ART’ sounds foreign to many, but I can tell you that it is there. I suggest that if you are up for the challenge of looking for it, you start with your life style. Hey come on, what do you have to lose but perhaps some ignorance about the way your life could be lived. Oh I must warn you, you may be shocked at what you learn about and see in yourself while you are making those discoveries.  It’s like James Bond, 007, you will find out that the assignment can unearth an identity, where you’ll be faced with a wide range of emotions and actions that come up and present themselves to you, and like Bond, you will become quick on your feet finding ways to master and be proficient in the use of them. Oh did I mention danger and unsavory action? I didn’t? good.  That may be saying too much and I am getting ahead of myself.

Let’s take a step back, and attempt to understand the basis of the nature ART, Talent and Life. Then we might get an idea of what kinds of balls you will need to pursue it.

Some think being Young, a Hunk, and Moneyed is just about as far as you can go in life…that ain’t it kids, not even half as far as it goes. What you really have is frozen yogurt pretending to be ice cream.  It’s like using apps on the electric device and pretending you are dating rather than getting some clothes on your ass, hitting the street and meeting somebody.

I hope you can see that when I mention the word ART I’m not talking about pictures on a wall or music at a concert, or dance on a stage per say. Oh no Baby ART is much more than that and can be expressed in many facets. That is why in life you get to find your ART, name it and put it to use for you.

ART is the uncanny ability to communicate” a particular facet of an idea or unique twist to a subject. To depict a moment or flash in time securing that idea or subject in some kind of medium, that can bring a vibrancy and depth to something ordinary, that then transforms it, much like vivacious colors and brush strokes on an impressionist artist canvas, changes the ordinary landscape into something memorable. You look for the best possible situation for you to express your medium, to bring about your object of ART and to capture it. That facet of itself not yet known or enlightened before. It is the best of compliments when someone says, “Wow, you made that ugly building beautiful.” Or when a customer says “you saw something gorgeous in that old wreck, that I did not see.” It’s about capturing the spirit of the subject not seen before.  If you can do that, then your job is done.'

Where do you look to find your ART? It might be found in the location of where you grew up, or where you lived, or in the influences of those you grew up with. If you reflect on those areas in your life, you may find traces of what would becomes your technique, or how you learned to express things.  It could be the very thing that becomes your muse. A Muse, is that inspiration which draws out of you talent, or what I call, your ART. The Muse can start out as simply as Betty Sue telling you she liked the tie you wore to her 10th birthday party, or you handing your pop tools while he was restoring an old car, or the math or science teacher that showed you an answer to a problem that you could not get your head around. Whatever it was, picture it now. Then let the scene show you that spark becoming the passionate fire that catches you up in it, and still drives you to keep doing more.

Then again, a muse can appear fickle, but know that it is to maintain your passion, it can steer you to change an activity. It can take you from the love of auto mechanics to being a musician. A muse may take you down some avenue as a way to keep the fire in your loins going.

Now that is the rub. You imagined yourself being a mechanic for all of your life, and your muse has now brought you up against other images in your head representing other ways to be successful in the ART of living. Other ways to succeed,  and you feel conflict of purpose. Your muse has taken you down a different path than you thought.  This is where it is good to stop and reflect. You may need research in how to processed, what to do, or in what order to flush out your direction towards your new goal. Know that no path is wrong, just that each has different dynamics to succeed. Conversations with others may be helpful. Taking pictures relating to what you want to do, or even writing a bio – description will bring it more into focus. These forms of activities can create the internal dialogue between you and your muse to catch inspiration and move you forward. Remember to breathe, keep it interesting and fun.

You may find that your talents can take you into different directions at once.  Finding yourself going from no talent to jack of all talents all at once. 

Recognize where your energy wants to take you. Look back on your body of work, there you will see the threads and a style that shows your unique stamp for doing things. You may find that when you create, like 007 on a mission, the challenge requires you to step up for an assignment with different skill sets, but that you to know you have the right equipment. 

Pick that one medium and let the rest of the possibilities go for now. Once you have learned what that experience has to teach you then you can go on to the next challenge. Start in on the chosen task knowing that whichever one has been chosen, that it is the right one for now.  Everything is experimental, and once in your hands, it is designed for you to know the form, and what’s more important, to know yourself as the ARTIST in mastering that form, in the Art of Living Life.

Man Love

I have a curiosity about people and their interaction with each other. While attending a Birthday party recently, my attention was drawn to a group of Jocks who were gathered together (as far away from the dance floor as they could get.) but it was their body stance and posturing, as well as their nervous laughter while talking that had caught my attention.

As it turned out, their conversation was on: ‘Bromance’ and how confusing the term was, one fellow said: “I love this guy (pointing to the man standing next to him), but hey, don’t get me wrong, we are straight and married.” I thought it was funny that he had to point out the obvious, but I guess with people calling themselves any number of sexual orientations and the list growing every day, that he felt he needed a qualifier.

In this current age of transformative roles and changing morality, the question of male love / bonding really becomes tricky.  As human beings, we naturally experience changes during the course of our lives here on planet Earth with some appearing to come out of left field.  These changes are challenging, even overwhelming at times.

Individuals find themselves unconsciously seeking to make sense of it.  I feel they are trying to articulate their Archetypal journey from sense to soul - The path that is hidden beneath the surface. In the case of this male bonding episode it was grist for my mill to ponder, I call it Tantalum or the practice of contemplation to clarify.

It may seem a bit odd to think that the answer to this form of relationship lay in the Ancient Archetypes. Let's bring examples of those mythic archetypes to the forefront of our mind to lend some clues and have a chance to release some taboos about our man friends in the flow of daily encounters.

Seldom is a Conscious focus used to understand what may be going on with us, life just seems to happen. Thus, some wander disoriented through life, others on a self-destructive path, in a world that is understood, and measured primarily by the external environment. Seldom by a choice of the Conscious Contemplation.

You hear all the time how we have lost sight of the personal connection be it with environment, each other, and with even our self.  We have a disconnect from the Archetypal Source. Sadly, too, we have come to understand “myth” as a lie rather than the symbolic and metaphoric gateway to a deeper truth.

For example, when the guy was talking about his love of his buddy, a piece of the mythic story or experience came to my mind. It was told to me years ago as a form of American Indian lore about manhood and love.

Love in Indian lore as per males, was described not as a concept revolved around a romantic getting your grove on sentimentality, but rather shown as adherence to service and duty.

Every boy, from the beginning of his training, was an embryo public servant. He put into daily practice lessons that reflected public service, so in this way, it would become part of him. His expectation for his service was not salary, nor prizes to work for. He took his tribute in the recognition of the community’s betterment and the consciousness of unselfish service.

The finest love a man could develop then was with his fellow men in unselfish service; these friendships were thought to be - the severest test of character.

You'd think it would have been loyalty to family and clan, or man and woman. The love between man and woman founded on the mating instinct and is often times not free from desire and self-seeking. But to have a friend, and to be a true friend under any and all trials, was considered the mark of a man! The highest type of friendship was the relation of ‘brother-friend’ or ‘life-and-death friend.’ This bond between man and man was usually formed in early youth, and could only be broken by death. It is the essence of camaraderie and fraternal love, it was considered beyond the thought of pleasure or gain, and whose bases is on support and inspiration. Each is vowed to die for the other if need be, and nothing is denied the brother-friend, but neither is anything required beyond their bond.

Their Courage was predicated on the ability to forget oneself in the pursuit of duty and the desire to serve and protect others. Bravery was a high moral virtue, yet it did not consist so much in the form of aggressive self-assertion, but in the development of conscious self-control.  The effect of the vigorous physical training young men participated in, was thought to be a way sports and games could serve as a funnel for their sexual energy, so that they might maintain a courageous self-mastery in their lives. A boy was taught by the men in his tribe how to use this skill in hunting, fishing, and the warrior defense of their agrarian way of life. Also to understand the tribe’s code of service and to learn to be led by Spirit.

Men’s groups known as fraternal organizations have existed as far back as ancient Greece and Rome. In the 1950-60’s there were many different fraternal groups in the United States, and I would guess a good 30 to 40% of adult males belonged to one or another of these kinds of organizations.  Many with animal sounding names such as Lions, Moose, Goose, Eagles, Owls, Orioles - or with names like - Odd Fellows, Knights of..., Veterans of…, Freemasons, Rotary, to name only a few of the vast array.

Men associated with these organizations with the intent to bring out the best in themselves through companionship and brotherhood; these environments were dedicated to the intellectual, physical, and social development of its members, and in some way, somehow to be of service to their community.

So I entertain, in this current age of contemporary coded language – that entails words like - Bro, Bromance, Dudes, Posse, and Wing-men -  that the context of these 21st Century words, have a deeper and more Universal Reality that is the same in all cultures, and all times, which is the Mystery that binds all lives, which is Love.

These are ancient archetypal rooted practices are trans-formative in a man experiences. It is the “encounter” experienced as a larger focused context of Purpose. That brings clarity to relationships and a larger sense of Love.

“Amazing things begin to happen when we do what we can where we are. Albert Schweitzer, the French Nobel Peace Prize recipient of 1953, expressed it this way: “I am certain of one thing. The only ones among us who will ever be truly happy are those of us who have sought and found a way to serve."

The greatest shift in most of our lives will take place when we decide to make ourselves available to something greater than our-self. The moment that the internal dialogue moves from the question “What’s in it for me?” to the question of “How can I be of service?” will be the movement in the direction of discovering our unique relationships with others.

Otherwise there is that uncomfortable veil feeling, as if something is missed.  As if the Universe has kept knowledge hidden from you. Look closer then at what your relationships are - to the Men in your lives, to Service, and what you say you Love. To be more present, be more patient, and to stay on purpose that delivers you to the possibility of a life-lived-in-depth, the possibility of authentic living. By keeping it real, the veil is lifted. 

From Lust to Sexuality

It was a bit surprising when a twenty-something ‘y' generation young man approached me and was asking my advice on getting laid. Let’s call him Ted. I had known Ted for a few years now and would have thought that he would looked for this kind of advice from among his peer group, maybe by starting the conversation with: “Yo, when was the last time you got laid?"

All jokes aside, I looked at him and I could tell he was serious. Concerned that Ted felt he may be a real looser, my thoughts turn to what could have brought him to this point? Could it be he was just not informed? Then again, could it be that Ted had discovered feelings of sexual fluidity within himself?  Was he asking because he was going from asexuality to full-on sexual expression? Or was he interested in one of the other alphabet letters of sexuality that he might want to try? Whatever it was, I felt it best not to ask but to keep to his question.

I had to think about my years of sexual activity and perhaps share realizations I’d come to with him, such as - “The more I think I know, the less I really know about this ever changing activity.” That being said, I decided to stay with his scenario and try and flush out some of the gaps in his thinking or lessen the possibility for rejection in his encounters.

So I asked Ted what he was really looking to gain from his sexual exploits.

  1. Was he looking to become an orgasmic human vibrator, looking for any Human intake orifice for solo or participatory pleasure be it after drunk dialing or being bored with porn or Netflix or just because they like to do it.

  2. Being a -FWB (friend with benefits) to a person that wants no strings but who wants to enjoy his company.

  3. Building a causal relationship of sex that moves beyond friends to lovers.

  4. Looking for a committed relationship or life partner.

  5. He was tired of masturbating alone.

I suggested that once Ted decided what he was after from his hook-ups he would then consider what the other person desired or wanted from the encounter, which may mean doing things he hadn’t considered doing to get the payout he wanted. Also, to keep in mind that he or the other person could always change their mind as to how often and long this would last. Lastly the importance of keeping a friendly dialogue going with yourself and the partner to have no ugly surprises.

Ted threw out some lame-ass goal from off the top of his head, for immediate gratification that he could see in his mind’s eye. I did suggest spending some time with himself alone considering his choice and his options in regards to repeating the act, his future sense of fulfillment, and gaining happiness.

Ted being a science geek, I reminded him, too, of a principle of quantum physics, which is that our thoughts determine reality. Early in the 1900s they proved this beyond a shadow of a doubt with an experiment called the double slit experiment. They found that the determining factor of the behavior of energy (‘particles’) at the quantum level is the awareness of the observer. The consciousness of the observer in this query was Ted.

Our reality, I assured him, does not exist in a place outside of us, but rather within. It infuses all matter and energy, connecting every person, everything from a ray of light to a bit of cosmic dust. I think it is absolutely clear that we must start to consider ourselves as more than a physical body and more like the fusion of our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and intentions, which I call the human sensuous energy field.

Sorry, I strayed. I asked Ted to consider his chances for success in sustaining having good sex. He pressed me further. I suggested that he consider the importance in the difference between the fantasy about his performance during sex, that which we create in our imagination (which, no matter how you look at it, is going to be far better than the performances that we can actually give, or worse, expect a partner to perform).

Anybody that has had regular sex can attest that the best sex they have had has always been conjured up in their head either alone or with a partner, rather than the actuality of their technique alone. In sex's defense I do have to say, that the worse sex you can have is better than no sex, in my option.

Ted came around, and he agreed that the best sex for most people is with someone with whom they have a sense of shared trust and perhaps an unacknowledged attraction. They’ve probably met at work or a party or through friends. They’ve seen each other at the same events, or gym or favorite sports venue, or their favorite bar. After a while some kind of affinity with this person is created, and you can figure they fit into some wider category of friends. Sex happens as a combustion of thought. Someone having met and interacted socially could start to wonder, what it would be like to be the person to get it on with Ted?

I prodded Ted into telling me what he thought his next step should be, which turn out to be his letting go of his imagined expectation and inadequacies (about looks, penis size and performance) for something tangible. That next step, or tangibility, was for him to voice an intention to the other person to actually go out together. Ah yes I said, but consider that you are not asking them out not for sex, but for fun.

To enjoy each other’s company. To get to know each other’s moods. As humans we learn in the exploration of play; having fun is a way of adding to our knowledge. In this case adding to the knowledge Ted would gain about this other person without the messy investment of feelings or getting hurt or rejection. Allowing Ted a safety zone for playful interaction where he could, if he liked, strut and flirt and observe the reactions of his intended, giving Ted a gauge of if or when the time is right to make his move towards the bedroom and, if he had chosen the right person for this situation would they go for it too? I suggested another benefit is that he could develop a friendship along the way with this other person even if either or both of them went on to other relationships.

He protested and said this was not about finding his dream partner. This was about getting laid.

I could sense in his conversation that he felt I had strayed from goal. Like many men he craves intimacy but fears rejection, getting hurt, clinging vines, or strings. To get him back on track I suggested that for men looking for free, no-strings-attached sex, sex for the sport of it, that he might want to try one of those hook-up sex sites. Ted looked shocked, for I had removed sex from its prescribed context. He protested that he needed to know something about the other person first.

I said ‘I have your attention again, good. Let me put it in your terms – You want to get laid, and to hit it more than one time, and especially if it is good.’ For this to happen, it is going to require both your heads to be working. The need to be conscious and to pay attention for the point of all of this is to ensure that you have a relatively frequent booty call. So if you actually want a relatively frequent booty call, and you want to be the person that is called, you need to put some effort into it, both in and out of the bed. It is about more than arousal, or the discharge of relief, Ted; it is realizing you can be the one they call for mutual orgasm rather than your singular masturbation.

It has to begin with a person you like and have respect for. This is at the start, during and after the experience. If you leave someone feeling shitty in any way, the chances of that next phone call coming is greatly reduced. Remember that person is the one you enjoy and can joke around with. The situation after sex has changed, but you may now have a deeper insight into your Being, a fuller understanding of your facets and capabilities.

Be clear about your arrangement, what is it, and what it is not: a hook-up, a movement within a relationship, a committed relationship. Whatever it is, be clear through real communication that you are on track. Awareness and communication increases good sex frequency for the both of you, without entering into territories that can ruin the friendship. Work to ensure the essence of your friendship stays the same, with increased incremental bits of change or fun. Don’t call or text more. Don’t call or text less. Don’t read into or assume you know the other person’s mind without communication and checking. This will prevent you calling yourself just a hook-up, or a boyfriend, or a lover or whatever prematurely.  If you find yourself doing that, the problem is you, and you will likely find you don’t have the chops to pull this kind of thing off. Just be yourself. Your intended has already known that guy (you) for a while now, and will like that guy (you) just the right amount, so don’t mess with a good thing.

Ted, I say, there is no intercourse without the fusion of Love in some kind of shape or expression. It will be different with each person and, Ted, your sexual orientation (what you think) goes further in determining the quality of satisfaction in those sexual activities than technique ever can. The mind’s orientation can resist the fact that we all have a choice between having the life we want or creating the reasons why we can’t have that life.

Consciously or not, Ted, people think about hopes and dreams for themselves in terms that go beyond the hook-ups. The true orgasm is the combustible fusion of our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and intentions - that sensuous human energy field perpetually informing the quantum reality within us and around us at each moment of our existence. It is not sex fully engaged without the igniting sensuous fusion of Love, and even better still if found in its highest form called Agape.

After our conversation, Ted left. In watching him walk away his head was held higher, his steps more assured. Ted realized that speaking to me was not to discourage his desire for sex, but to make it better by enlarging his concept of it and perhaps himself.

The fact that society is starting to have more open discussions about sex is good. The scope and depth of sexual desire isn’t something that can be done in a thousand or so words. But I hope it will be enough to have people engaging in enlarging the concept, firing up the male and female principles within all of us to rethink the fundamental level of reality and the restructuring of our beliefs and expectations about Love and sexual release.

Bringing it down to basics, we are all some form of energy field, and there is infinite potential in that energy. It is entirely up to us as to what we choose to manifest out of that field in our bodies and lives.

Whatever we do let’s make it good sex.

100 Years of the Pulitzer Prize

April 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prizes. It holds the reputation as the country's most prestigious awards and most sought-after accolades in journalism, letters, and music.

The Prizes are formally announcement each April, these awards are made on the recommendation of the Pulitzer Prize board.  These awards are perceived as a focus for worldwide attention on American achievements in letters and music as well as an incentive to foster high-quality journalism.

Over the decades, the Pulitzer board has been targeted by some critics over awards made or not made. Controversies also have arisen over decisions made by the board counter to the advice of juries. Given the subjective nature of the award process, this was inevitable. The board has stood its ground and not been captive to popular inclinations. Many, if not most, of the honored books have not even been on bestseller lists, and many of the winning plays have been staged off-Broadway or in regional theaters. In these winning books, letters, and music pages are 100 years of setbacks and progress, 10 decades of cultural scrutiny and literary experimentation, a century of audacious assertions and undeniable genius.

As an award or as a symbol, it has had quite the ride. For its readers, it has presented a journey into a patch quilt world of literature.

What better time than now to reflect on the many recipients works. I invite you to peruse a cross selection of the award recipients works and to choose to read, or reread, ponder over and even admire some of these works.

Those of you more active out there, I’d suggest celebrating by reading an award-winning story aloud, and/or partnering with individuals and organizations to host events across the country. Then again creating your own story to present that may end up in the next Centennial of honored writers is not a bad idea either.

A toast to good writing.

Review: The Gigantic Beard that was Evil

 
 

Since we are talking about Beards what better time than now to introduce this awesome new book:

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, by Stephen Collins

Cartoonist Collins' debut graphic novel is filled with black-and-white sketches, which are funny, whimsical, bittersweet, and darkly visually.

Collins's fable-like graphic novel details what happens when borders collapse and stories have no tidy endings.”  this graphic novel is the perfect Archetypal parable that appreciates the value of eccentricity in a world of overwhelming uniformity and the thought of what could happen with just the appearance of one unruly facial hair.”

This Off-beat ambitious writing style of Stephen Collins novel has put this work in a class worthy of the names Roald Dahl and Tim Burton – being a darkly funny meditation on life, death, and what it means to be different.  And oh did I mention a timeless ode to the art of beard maintenance.  Now add to that the pages of crosshatched art panels, rich with nuances of black-and-white interiors put's the artwork in this book in a class with Aubrey Beardsley.

If Collins stylistic fable is no more than what Collin calls – “Stories are necessary lies.” -  Then I hope this awesome juiced up writer/artist has got a lot more lies to tell us.