Thursday, February 21, 2019

Exploding Time

"Is it future or is it past?" I walk to my house down the long dark, cool street in Roebling. I am in this moment. The chill of the air, the darkness itself, the slight chirp of my car security system as i double check that it is locked, it is all present. I think back on where i came from. I think back to the journey from Spellbound Brewery in Mount Holly and the taste of a Major Nelson IPA, blue eyes staring back at me and good company, and i realize in stark relief the explosion of time. By explosion i mean taking something to its essence and expanding that out to such a degree that you cannot even begin to see the edges. That is my experience of time.

We hear it all the time.... time is moving so much faster all the time. It is this idea that as we grow "older" the giant boulder of time picks up speed as it races down the hill to our inevitable end. "Where did the time go?" "You young people never heard of the band Nirvana? Oh i feel so old!" It seems to be the accepted agreement of our shared society's worldview that as we grow older the time seems to pick up speed and fly by. We get closer to our end and the end gets closer to us at an ever racing speed. I don't have that. If anything, to me, the time has been contracting, slowing down and i have theories on why that it. But, as i said, even this journey of less than an hour, from Spellbound Brewery to my home in Roebling, seemed to be unfathomably long. I can't comprehend that the beginning of that ride was merely a half hour ago.

When you truly live in and embrace the moment this tends to happen. Each day has so many powerful instances of the Now, and if you try to get into each one, each day feels like a very long period of time. I try to live in the moment, and thus, those moments explode for me. This makes things like red lights and the common cold very unbearable. Red lights seem to trail on and on forever for me and there are times i have to focus and think about my breathing or i would get out of my car and run away. When i feel sick i feel like i will never be well again because the days are so infinite and filled with moments that are filled with sickness. I feel when i get sick, which really does not happen often, that sick is where i am and will always be. I would not trade these things because i love this abundance of life i am blessed with based on the embrace of the eternal moment, the now, the present...

So why does the time seem to rush by at break neck speed for most of us? I think a lot of it is because we wish it on ourselves. We do not tend to live in the moments, but long for the weekend and for things to be over. We wish our lives away. We also tend to look at the whole time line. We have access to all of our memories in this present moment. When you think back to your childhood that is present in this now, and when you put it in the context of years, that 20, 30 or 40 years is an instant as it is recollected. You were right there as that child, and now here you are with decades that have past and in the world of memory it is an instant. These thoughts can overwhelm. When you are five and staring at 80 years ahead of you, the well seems infinitely full, but when you are 60 and feel that immediacy of the memory of 5, then realize there is less time on the back side, you feel that the time has flown by and there is little left.

It does not have to be this way. If you live in the moment and embrace each one life can give you, an almost infinite well of moments in every single day is available to you. I am so happy i had teachers who pointed this out to me and that i was able to listen. I love getting to the end of a day and not being able to fathom that the morning was in the same 24 hour period. I love a conversation of an hour that has the weight of a year. There is so much. Time is indeed able to explode or contract but it depends on where you put your focus. And for god's sake, stop giving word to the fact that you feel old and that time is flying by. Words have power and they can change your life.

Embrace the moment my friends, you will be glad you did.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Age and Time

Giving up age is an interesting thing. When i first did this, i was in college at Rutgers University. I was walking out of Brower Commons and was thinking, as i often did at the time, about Professor Calvin Luther Martin's class on Native American History and i was also fresh off of a birthday party that was just thrown for one of my parents. It was a big one, 40 or 50, at this point it makes no difference to me. But, i watched as they got gag gifts and cards. They said such things as, "Over the hill and picking up speed!" "Hair replacement pills" bottles of candies. And more. Jokes about back aches and how they were on the back side of health and needed to be prepared for all the things we think in our culture go along with that number. As i was walking out of the dining hall that day, i thought about those birthday parties, and what we had talked about in class, and i decided to give up age. It is an easier thing to do when you are what society calls 21.

We had spoken in those classes of hunting societies in the Paleolithic Age that had no separate words for past, present and future. We talked in class about the nature of time and the fact that if you ask a 2 year old how old they are they will say 2, but if you ask 2 what? they have no idea what you are talking about. Try it yourself. Ask a 2 year old how old they are, they will invariably hold up 2 fingers and tell you they are 2. Then, be a little malicious and ask them 2 what? They have no idea what you are talking about. Then you can suggest things. Are you 2 fire trucks? I had a kid tell me, "yeah, i am 2 fire trucks!" Really excited. They are 2 of everything really. It takes the parties with the cakes and the presents, and the public education with the bells and schedules to indoctrinate them in age and time. It is one of the first boxes everybody wants to put you in when they meet you. I have refused to be placed in that box and it bothers people. According to our world view, it is a fact that cannot be argued. I have had people get really upset when they ask me how old i am, and i say i have no age.

The way the conversation goes is usually like this...
Person i just met (hereforth referred to as "PERSON") "How old are you?"
Me: "I don't have an age."
Person: "Hahaha... but really how old are you?"
Me: "I gave up age, i don't have one anymore."
Person: "Hahaha, but really how old are you?"
Me: "I am serious, this is really important to me and i have been working on it a long time."
Person: "OK but what year were you born?"
Me: "I know the year, but i don't pay attention to it anymore. Also, since i don't know you, i am not sure you would not tell me the number everybody thinks it should be. I have been working a long time on not knowing that number."
Person: "OK, but you have been on the Earth a certain amount of time. Tell me the year you were born!"
Me: "Look, i have been working a long time on not knowing the number and it is hard. I could give you a range, but i really don't know the number. If i wanted to add it up i could but..."
Person: "But just tell me how old you are!"

And i have really had people get upset about this, even angry about it. It shakes the foundation of their world. You can see it disturbing them. This does not compute with what they believe and it shakes the foundations of everything that they hold to be true. People have gotten on the verge of violence about it. In our world view, it is a fundamental thing that we do not even question. Of course you have an age! This is a fundamental fact and for some people to suggest that this is not true is difficult to handle. It does not compute and there is no way for this to fit in with what they believe to be fundamental truths of the foundations of reality. In the same way an earthquake shakes the faith in things we think are foundational and real, i have had conversations with people where this age thing of mine is not OK. I tell them that i do not have an age, and they need therapy. That is an exaggeration, but it clearly shakes them and they need to prove that what i am saying is just bunk and a joke of some kind.

It is also the reason i think, why i have witnessed some people get really excited whenever i have a back ache or they see a grey hair in my beard. Phew... thank god, do you see? He was wrong! He has back pain... guess he is getting old. I have literally had friends who have seen me with a grappling or training injury who think it is funny and i can see the relief in their eyes... and i really understand it. If i am right about this whole age thing, the fundamental foundations of their world view are shaken a little bit. And people do not like that. They do not enjoy when someone shows the chinks in the armor of their fundamental beliefs.

So what the Hell am i talking about because i really feel like it is misunderstood most of the time. I do not believe that i am not getting older and am not going to die. What i have given up, is age... the measurement, the number of my years. I have grey hairs in my beard and am noticing a thinning of my hair line. Someday i will die. Someday i will not be able to do 12 three minute intense rounds on the punching bag. But.... if you have the number.... if you partake in the labeling of the years you are going to have assumptions that go along with that number. I look at my friends from high school and i have to tell you, this philosophy is working. I also periodically hear from people who saw pictures of me when i started working at Ren Faire and they are shocked that i look just the same. I had a dentist who had my date of birth tell me it was impossible that i had wisdom teeth coming in because that NEVER happens after the age 28 or something. Well... my wisdom tooth that was coming in would beg to disagree.

Listen, i do not force this philosophy on any of you, but i have to tell you, it has worked for me. And i look forward to being bald and sitting on a porch as a wise old sifu. But i refuse to have the number and if you deal with me, do it without putting me in an age box. Deal with me as i am standing in front of you. And if you want to take this journey, you are going to have to give up the celebration of your ego and the worship of yourself at your yearly celebration. I had that a little easier because i never really much cared for sweets in the first place and was a little uncomfortable at my birthday parties when i was young. But i tell you, it is worth it. My body and my soul is "aging" at my own time and it is not contained by what we think 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 should be. I don't know what that number is and i don't care, i don't traffic in it. The zeitgeist will not willingly let you go from the idea of age and the numbering of your years, but eventually it will relax its claws and let you free. You can too. If you have any questions, let me know, i would love to talk to you about it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Non-Time - The Time Between Days & Dreaming

I realized something about myself and assumptions i have about my world view last night. I always have considered my day to end when i go to sleep. I have never considered the end of the day to be midnight so if i am writing a journal entry about the day and it is 2 AM when i write it, i will always put the date for the day that standard clock time says ended at 12 midnight. Likewise, the day starts for me when i wake up in the morning. Some of my healthiest feeling times are out in the woods hiking with no artificial light sources and my day tends to start lining up with the day of the sun. When it starts to get dark, i go to sleep and when the sun rises, i return to consciousness. That happens to a lot of people out hiking for long periods on an extended hike.

I notice even now that when i wrote the last i said, "return to consciousness." That is what i realized last night. I fundamentally believe that but the question is where is the consciousness returning from. My day ends when i pass into sleep and the new day begins when i wake. There is a portion of time, sleep time, dream time if you will, that is not covered in any of my world view's definition of what a day is. That "time" that exists while sleeping is outside of my cycle of days. It is a type of non-time, a veil that exists between the days.

This is a really fascinating concept to me and jives with the work i have been doing on dreaming and dream recall. There is another place we go to when we are asleep. The rules and flow of time do not follow the rules of our waking selves in that place. I like this concept and am going to keep thinking about it. A big part of my mission in the past few months, and at other times in my life, is to navigate that other place. I want to pierce that veil and bring my conscious self into that dream state, that other non-time that exists in the spaces between the days.

As a side note, i have had people tell me that i am just wrong about this, the day ends at midnight. That really has nothing to do with anything inherent in the world. It is convention and is convenient for our calendars, but we could have easily chosen something else. Our experience lived as humans really seems to suggest an end or beginning happening at dawn or sunset, or darkness. We can actually experience those things without the aid of a watch.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Anger and Fear

I was once at a Paul Vunak seminar and he said there are two things that will make you not do what you have trained to do in a fight. Those two mind killers are fear and anger. That is not to say you are not going to win necessarily, but you are not going to do the efficient practical things you trained to do if you fly into a rage or freeze up in terror. Bear in mind this is not the same as aggression. You can be aggressive without being angry. A lion taking down a zebra is not angry at the zebra. It is very aggressive but it is not mad at the zebra, that zebra is dinner and lions love dinner. Michael Jordan was very aggressive on the basketball court but he was not angry about it. When you get angry or scared it is difficult to act rationally and intelligently. It is easy to do something you will regret when you are in that mind state because your primal instincts and id takes over.

I feel like we are presently as a culture acting almost completely on fear and anger. Listen to all of our political discussions and policies that are being proposed. They are almost exclusively coming from places of fear and anger. A lot of them seem to be based more on feelings and emotions, rather than facts and what is actually going on. People are exceptionally angry and we are also very afraid. It is hard to make decisions in those moments that are going to be very strategically sound or intelligent. We need to somehow find a way to take a step back and get to a place of reason. There will be times we have to be aggressive, but being angry does not usually help. Anger can also escalate things to points of no return. Many times we seek revenge instead of justice. Justice by definition must involve truth. Revenge does not care too much about the truth, it wants release and any kind of retribution without much concern of finding the truth.

It is a dangerous path we are trodding. I will choose the path of reason and courage and i hope as a culture we can find our way back to that path.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Sleep is an amazing thing. I love to hit the bed and fall into a deep and heavy sleep. It is pretty easy to get out of that routine though, one day of sleeping in, however awesome it is at the time can send you into a whole different rhythm of the body. Often times in the deep watches of the night after waking up late, sleep is very difficult to find and the harder you search the more elusive sweet sleep seems to be.

But, thanks to a student i teach three days a week who got a new job, our morning sessions now begin at 6 AM. This has actually been wonderful. After the first day of it, i find myself back on a healthy rhythm. When the pillow hits my head and a few chapters of a journey toward the Dark Tower, the lights go out and new states of consciousness emerge. Not only that, but i am present for the Dawn. All of her glory and most beautiful gowns dress the sky. There are those elders who to this day stand outside and bear witness and sing up the sun for all of us. It makes my heart smile to know that they still do this.

Monday, February 20, 2017

In Faith.... i Do Believe

My beliefs have had an interesting journey throughout my walk here in this great unfolding play of life. Somewhere on my journey across the country the topic of what my religion is came up. I do not really think i have a religion anymore. For the most part in our world i think religion causes more problems than it fixes. That is different than people's day to day spirituality or belief in divinity. But world religions strap themselves on to people and walk into crowds and detonate. They do this both figuratively and literally and have been doing this since religions began. I have a hard time getting behind any of those. There are good things about them and they sometimes do good things. If that is your particular path i hope it feeds you and gives you meaning and it helps you create some light in the world. But, the question of what i believe in stopped me in my tracks a bit because it is an interesting concept and one ultimately i have not thought about for a long time. My path is a path of action, and i spend most of my days trying to be the best person i can be in this world. For the most part, i really care a lot more about what you do than what you believe. What kind of person are you in the world?

I used to go on a yearly retreat with my church youth group to a place called Paradise Lake at the roof of Bushkill Falls in Pennsylvania. Those waterfalls were my religion there. It was their voices that fed my soul and recharged me. Their eternity drove the blood in my veins and renewed my spirit. One year the head speaker said a thing that was profound and also motivated me. He said you should be a Christian not for what will happen to you when you die, but for how it transforms your life today. That should be true of whatever you choose to believe. In my eyes that was profound thought and transformative. I think a lot of people do their religion because they think some future reward is waiting. That is a true opiate of the masses. Shut up and do your job and someday when you die then you get good things. Wage masters love this way of thinking. I actually heard a Christian radio station on a drive to York, PA say that you should work at your job not for what it does for you, but to the glory of God. They claimed they were taking the word "slave" back and that we should be happy slaves to our bosses and masters because God is watching and that is what he wants. When you get your days off their purpose is to recharge you so you can do your work which is the real reason for our lives here. What??? I will get to what i believe soon enough, but i know that the list will not include that i should be a slave or a sheep to anyone. I also am sorry if God does not like it, but if i have a job it will not be because i am hoping to help IBM more than i care about time with family or the quality of my life. They were able to say this without any laughter and i think they really believe it. That is a bill of goods we have been sold my friends. Don't get me wrong, i work really hard and when working for someone do the best job i can as hard as possible. I have a pretty strong work ethic and take pride in a good job, but i am not your slave and your company is not the most important mission of my life.

At any rate... i digress. So what things do i believe? What are some of the things i have come to find as true in the universe? Bear in mind, i also have a lot of ideas about a lot of things. Ideas and beliefs are different though, watch Dogma and you will get the concept of ideas versus beliefs. These are things that through years of study i truly believe to be true. The numbers are the core belief and the letters represent ideas i am not as sure of but think are probably right as well.

1. We are made up of stars and color. Life is light. That is a scientific fact. Everything we eat and actually everything we are is made up of stars. All energy that motivates life on this planet originally comes from the sun. Some ideas that come of this: A. The chakras are also a rainbow of color and coded as such, ROY G BIV. The chakras make sense to me because of the fact that the order of color is also the order of light. B. A diet of lots of colors is a healthy diet. Every wavelength of light has different energy so eating lots of multi-colored food is a pretty good indicator of a healthy diet (vegetables and fruits and such... not different colored M&Ms). C. We are all connected to everything else, part of the stuff of stars which are the real building blocks of everything.

2. Sacred Math. You can find the Golden Ratio in everything. Ideas that come from this: A. There is a fingerprint of something in the universe. B. We are all connected to everything else, part of the same stuff.

3. Music. There is something magical in music which is the sound expression of number 2. Ideas that go with this: A. Sound has the power to affect things like emotion and mood. Sound has the power to change the universe. B. Music is the expression of the connection and the voice of the gods. C. We are all connected to everything else, part of a universal chorus.

Now, the beliefs here, the 3 above are really pretty basic and you can actually scientifically verify them. I have had conversations with my friend Micah who got me interested more thoroughly in the Golden Ratio and sacred math and we asked what it means that we believe these things are true. When you really learn about the Golden ratio and sacred geometry, do you get cool spooky powers? Is there an enlightenment there? Boy i hope so. I am waiting on them. I imagine what happens is that things really don't change that much. The ideas that sprout from those 3 core beliefs are what affect how i go about my life.

The core of all three of those things is that you and i are ultimately one. You are separate from me in lots of very real ways, but on a deep level we are part of the same thing. The real unified field of all of this is probably another deeply held belief, and even though it is not scientifically verifiable, i know it to be true to the core of my being...

4. In spite of all its ugliness on occasion, the universe is beautiful. She is a work of art, a dance set to light and music. I believe that to be true and can feel it to the core of my being.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


I have not written a blog in a long time. The world has changed in many, many ways. We won't go into all that, but i think this topic is something that definitely relates to our general situation in the world.

I find a lot of people tend to live their lives crouched in this defensive posture waiting for someone to wrong them. They are always on guard and alert for the slightest attack waiting for anyone to give them even the slightest offense. You can see this clearly whenever any issues of race or bias against women comes up. We have some serious issues in this country, the world in general actually. Women for example go through a lot of things. In this country alone 1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Every woman i know who works at festivals, OK, actually just every woman i know, has lost track of the amount of times that she has been made to feel uncomfortable by a man or approached with attention she was not interested in. I have been working in interactive theater since 1997 and i can remember the one creepy stalker i had. One... since 1997. Every woman i know who works at these same shows has lost track of the amount of times this type of thing has happened. This is a bigger problem for women than it is for men.

When you bring this up however, there is always a response from a pretty large segment of the male population to tell you that they should be allowed to talk to women and that they are not like this. They also are quick to let you know that men go through this stuff too. Men do get raped sometimes and sexually harassed. But, in this area, it is something that is easier for me in my life because i am a guy. I do not live my life thinking about the fact that someone may be trying to assault me in every interaction i have with a stranger. I am not sure what the impulse to get defensive is with these things. For some men, i would imagine that they are probably a guy who does some untoward things and this is a guilty reaction. I have also seen this response from men who i am pretty sure are not the type of guy who does this sort of thing. They often times are looking out for the "good and decent guys out there." I imagine they also have felt rejected at times and that that was not warranted.

The problem with this reaction if you are not someone who believes it is all right for women to go through this on a daily basis is, when you point out that decent guys should be able to talk to women, you are giving support to the jerk who is reading you or hearing you. If you are a decent human who respects people, you are not who we are talking about. You don't need to feel guilty, you don't need to diminish what women go through. When someone tells you that they are going through a thing and you chime in saying that you go through thess things too, or "it is not me!" you are belittling their concern, their pain. Don't play devil's advocate. Don't chime in to defend the guys who do not do bad things to women. They don't need you to. They do not do bad things to women. You don't have to tell us you don't do bad things to women. When you start getting very defensive about it it sounds like you think it is OK and we start wondering if maybe you are a guy who thinks a woman owes you her time or her body. One thing you should feel guilty about is feeling that you being upset because someone turned you down is what you think about and not the fact that the reason why women often are on their guard is because 1 in 3 of them will be assaulted in their life. Your bruised ego is not as bad as that! Bear that in mind when you complain about the friend zone or the fact that someone did not want you talking to them.

This is an area where we do need to be a little less thin-skinned. When someone is talking about people who are sexist or racist or bigoted against a religion, they are not saying you specifically are. If your child comes into the house bleeding, don't get defensive and say, "I did not cut you, i get cut too. I have had a lot of really bad cuts in my life so yours is not really that bad. Stop whining about being cut." Some people have had experiences you have not had and when you start being in a defensive mode and dismissive you are rejecting their experience and pain.

My parents had great parents. My grandfather came back from World War 2 and was able to get the GI Bill, because he was a white guy, and lived in a great neighborhood with good schools. He had an awesome house and steady job. This put my parents in a great position. A black man coming back from WWII would not have had that same option. That man might have wound up living in an area with drug problems and been scraping to get by. His kids might have had to work extra hard to stay away from drugs and gangs. I was able to get through college without debt, partially because of what my grandparents left me, partially because i was able to get a good job. The grandchildren of the black man from WWII might not have had that same luxury. This does not mean i am a bad person or did not work hard, but i had some privilege. It is OK for me to see that. I don't have to diminish what another person had to go through and let them know how bad my story was too.

I have worked incredibly hard to create my business, to get through college and earn my credentials for martial arts teaching. That is another story though and i won't pretend i don't have bonus points over someone who grew up in the inner city in a family that was scraping by. I also do not need to justify that when someone tells me what other people go through. Black people have it harder than me in this country. That is a fact. Women have it harder than me on a daily basis. That is a fact. LGBTQ people have it harder than me on a daily basis in this country. That is a fact. I can understand that and not take it as a personal attack on me. It does not mean i do not have hard times. It does not mean that there might be a day where a woman has a better day than me. It does mean that in some significant ways, i have bonus points. They exist.

We also need to remember that we are a part of this thing together. If we want to say we fought off the British in the Revolutionary War, we won World War II, we put a man on the moon... then we also have to say, we had the worst system of slavery the world has ever seen, we committed a genocide in the West and put bounties on the heads of Native men, women and children, we don't take care of our veterans, etc. We have done all those things as a country. It is still an amazing country. Better than most for sure. But we have our demons and it is all right to acknowledge them. It is necessary to acknowledge them or we do not get anywhere.

I am also very deeply sorry for the heinous things we have done. Not sorry in the sense that i did this to these people. But sorry in the sense of the Spanish lo ciento. I feel it. I am sorry people had to go through these things. I feel a common bond of human suffering with you and i will do what i can to be an ally and make it right.

So in the future... if you see a post from a woman or a transgender person, or a black man or someone who says that they go through some shitty things.... don't tell them that it is not you or let them know how hard what you go through is too. They are not personally attacking you. Unless that is you... then maybe your response is guilt. Think about it. Take 15 minutes to let this sink in before you respond.