Thursday, July 29, 2010

Substance and substances

"A thing is said to be free which exists by the mere necessity of its own nature and is determined in its actions by itself alone." ~Spinoza

This was Spinoza's definition of freedom. Odd that he used the words necessity and determined in his definition. Spinoza was an absolute determinist. He believed that if you knew all of the causes, had a God's Eye View of the universe, you could tell exactly what would happen. In his time, the word substance was used to describe the ultimate essence of a thing. For humans the substance was the soul. Through Spinoza's logic, he determined that there was only one Substance and he used the term interchangeably with the words God and Nature. The only thing in the universe that was truly free, was Substance or God. It was the only thing that was determined only by its own nature. Everything else was at least determined by their own nature, and the nature of the shared Substance. This definition of freedom does not bother me really. The biggest part of what determines me, is myself and i am not controlled by an outside destiny.

Any way, that is not what this blog is about. According to Spinoza one is less free the more things control or determine its existence. If you are also controlled by an abusive spouse or parent, you are less free than one who is their own person and free of control. The same can be said for the substances we become dependent on. To be addicted is to be less free, the fix becomes a controlling factor.

Living on the road at the Renaissance Faire i see a whole culture that values its freedom. Most of us out here came out here because we did not want to be controlled by the typical 9-5 life of American society. But yet, a great majority of this culture allows its substances to be like a boot on its neck. I am not even talking about the health effects at this time. It is hard to get free of something when you are spending 50-150 dollars a week or more on it. People do this with drinking, smoking, marijuana and a host of other things that become necessity. The substances that are imbibed become our masters and they become more important to the dependent than food. Even without legal repercussions, the wasted money and time take away from a life that should be creative.

It is interesting the amount of time i have listened to marijuana smokers tell me how creative it makes them. Meanwhile they smoke all day and accomplish nothing. The drug becomes a need. Much time is lost as is much heightened sense of the world around. The same thing happens with drinking. Most of us work two days a week on the road. Many of those dulled on substances waste away their off days and miss the astounding places around them. They are on the road, but all places look the same. Colorado looks the same as New York or Arizona from the inside of a booth watching a video game screen through a smoky haze.

And there are also the health effects. I will only touch on them because it is not my main focus. Many people who choose this lifestyle are very concerned with the way they eat and personal health. They spend extra money to have organic foods or choose a vegan lifestyle in the hopes of health. Meanwhile, they chain smoke cigarettes, usually organic, or drink to drunkenness. I will say the same as i say to my students, this is a joke. You can not be healthy if you are a smoker. That should be priority one. Also, giving up cigarettes will allow a lot more money to be able to afford more natural organic foods.

I value my freedom. I do not want to be chained down by the costs or anything else that goes along with addiction. To be clear, i am not anti-alcohol, drug or tobacco. What i am against is doing anything that limits your freedom. If you have a budget for your herb or your alcohol or your cigarettes that exceeds your budget for food, that is a problem.

I enjoy having a drink with my friends, even getting a little typsy once in awhile. But more i value my health and my freedom. I am a warrior. That is a whole life style. Not only does it involve physical training, it involves the things you put into your mouth, your spirit and your heart. There are many ways to poison yourself. Living in a cage made of alcohol, tobacco or drugs is one of them.

Everything in moderation. Even tobacco. To natives in America before Europeans arrived, tobacco was a sacred substance. They told their children it was powerful and big medicine. They had no smoking problem. If tobacco can be used as a religious experience it can be a healthy thing. Problem is, it is very powerful and we have made tobacco a taboo. She will suck you in. I say this only to emphasize, i do not have anything against the substances themselves, only the way we use them. Like William James i believe that drugs can be a legitimate form of religious experience, but not when they are used recreationly.

Embrace your freedom. Breathe the free air and go for a hike.

Have a good day and i wish freedom to all of you. Namaste.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


When i used to work at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire in the cast, every year there would always be someone who would arrive in cast that was in a relationship that they really did not want to be in anymore. The significant other was somewhere far away and they were staring at not seeing each other for long stretches of time. Usually they were just out of college and just arrived in a place full of attractive and talented interesting people. The conversations were always very similar. Usually the person would go on about how hard they had tried and all of the reasons why it was not going to work out that they usually blame on the other person. There was usually also lip service to how they wished they could make it work. Those of us who had been there awhile knew they had about 1-3 weeks before the inevitable break up. This drama would drag on for awhile when the healthy thing to do would be to end it. Usually they would start falling for a co-worker in this time and often times someone would get hurt.

The person doing the talking, the side we heard while living with them was done with the relationship. They had already decided the relationship was over, but instead of admitting that, they wait to find some kind of justification. They usually can not stand their partner. Other people start looking a lot more interesting. In that kind of situation, they do not want to admit that they want to hook up with other people, they would rather drag things on until they can convince themselves that it is the other person's fault. I have heard people say, even recently that their mate will not go to counseling, but then when you suggest something that may help, they make up excuses why that would never work. The common one is to say something like, "my partner would never go for that." Their world view says that it is hopeless. They have convinced themselves. It is sad to see.

I am not sure why people get mean to the people that they should love the most. It seems pretty common in our culture to hate your spouse or girlfriend. We make jokes about it all the time. My grandfather had a joke, "i did not know what happiness was til i was married, and by then it was too late." We laugh at this kind of thing. We are so trapped in our own issues and our egos are so fragile, we can not look at and see what we do wrong. When relationships crash, it is rarely one person's fault. We need to learn to really love.

I think a lot of this stems from the way we typically get into relationships in the first place. We kind of think in our society that life is pretty miserable. Most people get to go to a job they do not like for the great majority of their time and the only happy we think we are going to get is love. People rush to it, they fly to it and they are miserable when they do not have a special relationship. People in college, even high school lament that they will never find someone. They feel empty and alone so instead of finding a person that is right for them, they settle for whoever will get involved.

We need to find our own happiness. Life can be awesome, with or without someone. If you can not be happy with yourself, no one is going to deliver that to you. It is also often when we stop looking that the right thing comes along. I had given up on love when Bethany showed up. Ironic that we find that special someone when we stop looking. Both of us are complete in ourselves. We both could be happy on our own, but she still enhances my happiness, mainly because i do not NEED her to.

If you find yourself in a relationship where you can not stand the person you are with, ask yourself what you like about that person, why did you get involved with them? Do not allow yourself to wallow in the stuff that they do wrong for a whole week. If you can remember, if you can stop being mad for a minute and think of wonderful things about your significant other, maybe there is something there to save. If you can not do that, save us all the drama and leave. Do not pretend it is all their fault and make a rationalization of why you are the victim. Also accept that YOU want to leave. YOU do not like them anymore. Take responsibility of the parts that are your fault and be an adult about it. We all mess up. I have been the king of being horrible at relationships in the past but i have also learned a thing or two over the years.

I understand also that every relationship and human situation is unique but i have seen this sort of thing many times. I think there is a pattern there and to find health and prepare yourself for the next person, you need to get past the pattern because it is a bad pattern and it is a pretty rotten thing to do to someone you claim that you once loved. If you do still love them, it is also great to get past this way of dealing someone.

Everybody have a great day and embrace your love. If you do what you do from a perspective of love, you can not go wrong and maybe people could stop being mean to each other.


Monday, July 12, 2010


"You must be a light to yourself, in a world that is becoming utterly dark." ~Krishnamurti

Bruce Lee believed that all help was ultimately self-help. I think that is true to a great extent. We have to make our own way in this world and people often times will let us down. For a long time i hated asking anyone for help at all, with anything. I did not want to be a bother and a nuisance and i think partially i never wanted to be vulnerable. I have learned to let people help me a little. Still, i think it is best to not rely on it.

Everyone out there has their own lives and people can not be expected to remember and help deal with our problems as well. I am part of this club by the way. It is not that people do not care or do not want to help, but truly we all have too much going on to be able to remember the things that need done in our own lives as well as those around us. When a major crisis happens, people rally around, but the crisis fades and so do people's notice. That is all right.

I enjoy being self-sufficient. I want to take care of my own problems and deal with them. I do not want to need anyone to get by. At the same time, it is nice knowing that there are some people who are on my side who are there if i need them. My parents, Bethany and her family, John Williams, etc. There are those out there who want to help, i just do not want to expect it.

Saltwater Moonshine Boys

Here is a video from our show in Colorado. This song was written by Rook and myself.