Saturday, November 23, 2013

30 things

There was a really cool event on Facebook that is happening this month. November's 30 Days of Thanksgiving. The idea is that every day you post something that you are thankful for throughout the whole month of November. Great idea and i signed on. Problem is, i get really flighty and so have missed a lot of days. I actually think i only posted once and i will again once i get this blog done. So, what i figured i would do was write this blog with thirty things that i am thankful for in honor of all of those who have been diligent in posting their items of grace each day so far.

So, in no particular order, here are my thirty things that i am thankful for:

1. Best parents ever. Totally supportive even when they don't understand. Could not have asked for more.

2. All of the events and history of my life that has led me to this place i am in today. Life is pretty awesome. I get to perform, teach martial arts and own a Renaissance Faire. Truly blessed and lucky.

3. A freezing stream and waterfall in Oregon that gave me my true baptism.

4. Calvin Martin and Bruce Wilshire who gave me a basis for my philosophy on life.

5. Bruce Lee and Dan Inosanto for the philosophy of Jeet Kune Do. This has given me my passion and purpose and many times, it has given me a job.

6. All of the students i have ever had who have taught me more than just about anyone else.

7. Cheryl, Elise, Bethany and Shelli for teaching me exactly what i needed to know about love at exactly the right time.

8. My Sister the Moon and my Brother Orion

9. The Appalachian Mountains

10. The beautiful Delaware River

11. The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. That place has given me the best times and people of my life. Think about it, i bet there are a lot of us on this Facebook event and reading this right now who, if you really think about it feel the same way. Truly magic.

12. Rick Tucci, Alex Wilkie, Master Martin, Craig Stanton, Ron Kosakowski, Mr. Kirkpatrick... my direct martial arts teachers who really transformed my life.

13. Jim Georgi and Mary Karl, my fellow TA's for Calvin Martin at Rutgers, i am really thankful i got to be a part of that team

14. New Jersey. That is right New Jersey. I love NJ and that is my home.

15. Ninja the cat. My Grandfather and teacher, wisest animal i have ever know for a long period of time and he taught me much in our walks in the darkness. He gave me many lessons on patience, enjoying every second and blade of grass and also on meditation.

16. Andy Pritikin. Thankful for the home he has given us for the NJ Ren Faire.

17. Liberty Lake Day Camp. Thankful to have been accepted into the family and to have a place to share my knowledge and skills with the next generation of young martial artists and actors of the world.

18. Pizza

19. John Williams. Best sword fighting partner ever and always reminds me about what it is like to live a life of joy

20. The angel choir of the night, all the spring peepers, crickets and bull frogs that sing constant praise to the divine

21. The fact that i was able to know all of my grandparents and 5 of my great-grandparents

22. Ginny Bartholomew for giving me the inspiration to finish my book

23. Dana Andresen for being an awesome, albeit high maintenance BFF

24. Eileen Wisor, best friend of all time and long lasting as well

25. Seth and the Hilburn clan for accepting me into their family

26. Mike Brown and Rob Kiernan for years of friendship

27. Dungeons and Dragons. I know i am a geek, but this game really had a lot of influence and taught me a lot. Again, i know i am a geek.

28. Shelli Nock for reminding me what it means to be a super hero

29. The Adventurer's Guild and all of the adventurers we have met who have embraced what the Lords of Adventure is all about

30. Thankful for being born in the time and place that i was. You know, really i can't complain about anything and i am thankful for that too. Sometimes when people ask me how i am and i say i can't complain, the response is, "would not do you any good anyway." But that is not why i say it. I really have nothing to complain about. If i had my choice of any life that i could live, it would be this one. I am deeply deeply grateful for every single moment of this little life i have been given.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Be blessed and be thankful for what you have.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Close and Present Darkness

"Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was." ~Exodus 20:21

The title of this blog may inspire images of a horror film to some of you. Not to me. I realized that i should clarify my view of the darkness after i published my last book, The Same Way Home. My mom asked me about a quote in the book, something along these lines, "When we love, truly and get beyond our ego we approach the thick darkness where God is." The quote from the Bible inspired that kind of language and i have always thought that was a beautiful image. When my mom asked about it though i realized everyone does not feel the same way. We tend to think of darkness as negative and i feel like that is a shame and a disservice to the night much in the same way as our images of bats and wolves are a disservice to those beautiful animals.

The light is amazing, let me say that first. We are creatures made out of stars and we basically need to eat light to survive. For the most part i feel that we should shed our light upon the world. But, that does not mean i feel that the darkness is a negative either. Some of my most spiritual moments have been out in the woods at night. I used to walk, almost every night, out beyond the hedge row behind our house in New Egypt, NJ, into the fields and woods beyond the reach of the street lights with my various cats and just exist out there. It was absolutely amazing and had a lot to do with shaping who i am in relation to the spiritual side of our lives.

Loren Eisley said that our forms are an illusion of the daylight. It is so true. Light gives us our shape and form and in the surrounding darkness of the night we melt and blend with the surround. It can be terrifying to be in a place where your sense of sight basically leaves you cold. Other older more primal senses begin to take the front seat. There have been nights when out of fear i have fled back to the warm embrace of the lights of my house. But, on those nights when i could relax, and let go of my ego, i felt more welcome and at home than i ever did in a crazy party somewhere. I have always been impressed that when i listen to the bullfrogs and spring peepers, crickets and other members of that great chorus that sings on at all times in the night beyond our villages, that they comprise an angel choir that sings forever exalted praise to the Divine. That chorus can sweep you along in its current and when we get past our fear, our ego can dissolve into the greater story of life living itself that we are all a part of. It is intense and it is meditation. The darkness is full of God, whatever that may mean to you.

Stillness so thick
it tingles on the skin
like static.
Its presence resonates
with the pregnancy of meaning.
Silence oozes through
the chambers of my being.
I am invaded by a moment
that is not a unit
but a meditation.
A meditation on matters
so grave and primal
God has not yet dreamt them.
The pauses between beats
of music and ticks and tocks of time,
flows, expanding, growing.
The moment envelopes and embraces.
Only a soft murmur
touches the still;
A tiny drum beat;
It melts into the Surround,
as natural as the silence.
My own heart.
It is disturbing,
like a child’s cry in church.
Only egos cringe.
The All accepts.
Silence welcomes sound,
a blank slate
for painting words and chants,
drums and strings,
and small animal hearts.
Equal part and parcel
with occasional goose or rustling leaf.
He is the tempo of the slow chorus
that is the night.

Friday, October 11, 2013

"The way is in the training." ~Musashi

"If someone asked me what a human being ought to devote the maximum of his time to, i would answer, 'Training.' Train more than you sleep." ~Masutatsu Oyama

I was fortunate some time ago, i believe i was in college at the time, to read the book Living the Martial Way by Forrest E Morgan. One of the chapters in that book was about training like a warrior trains and it is from that chapter that i learned the quote above. His point was that if one wishes to be a warrior one must train as a warrior does. He suggested six days a week and a lot. I took this lesson to heart and started at that time keeping a journal of my work outs. It was at this period that i started using my heavy bag with religious fervor. I would do round after round, every day and it has continued until this time. I like to do a base of eight three-minute rounds every day to keep up my cardio and fitness so that i can do whatever i want and not have to worry about fatigue stopping me. That is the base so i don't really count that as part of my work outs. On top of that i add resistance training, skill building, running and the like. The point is, after reading that book, training to me became as important as eating, breathing, working, etc. In short, it is a priority.

Training for me involves martial arts and fitness because that is my passion. It goes beyond that though. I am also a bit of a skill junky so i also like to practice new things i learn. I noticed early on that it is easy to put things off. Many people want to do things and then wait on starting them and in that waiting, years can pass. You never know how much time you have so if you wish to work on something get at it.

Training is how we forge ourselves. We have to practice things and this goes beyond skills or talents. We also need to train ourselves to be the people we want to be. In philosophy class at Rutgers with Professor Bruce Wilshire we talked about a philosopher who escapes me that said you had to practice to be a moral person. I practiced things like not cursing, and not having an age. It took some time but i was able to shape that. I also practiced looking at the world in a positive way. These things are not easy and they take time but you can train yourself. We have the capacity to look at ourselves objectively. In the same way that i can use a mirror to see that i am not keeping my hands up when i fight, i can start to try to notice when i allow negative thoughts to begin to dominate my outlook. You can also notice when you send negative words or posts out into the universe. First step is to notice, then don't say or put the negative thing out there. It takes practice and it is difficult, but so is anything that is worth while.

I know that some will look at this and say, "this is not possible for me." I do believe that anything is possible and the first step is just not to say that. Don't make the words actual in the universe. Even if you don't believe it, make a conscious effort to say that it is possible. Words have power. Those of you who are my actor friends know how powerful your words and acting choices can be.

I was playing a charcater at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire named Hans Talhoffer, a historical fight master and my friend was the Duke of Northumberland named Harry Percy. He came to me on the streets one day and said that he was tired. From the truth of that character i turned to him and said, "Hans and Percy never tire!" We then, for the rest of the season made the character choice that those characters do not get tired. It worked. We ran around like mad men and have been doing so ever since. At some point i realized, that if i could do that for a character at the Renaissance Faire, i could do it in real life too. I made a character choice for myself that i never tire, and for the most part, it works.

It took training, it took practice, but it works. In the early days i would have to tell myself when i started to run down that i never tire. At first, it was me acting, not going to lie, but our thoughts have power. After awhile, my body believed it.

Train adventurers! Find your passion and practice it. If there is something that you want to change about your situation, some skill you want to learn, do it. Choose to be a hero and you will be. Sometimes we are not yet ready to make that choice, but from experience, it is possible.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ashes to Ashes

There has been a lot of loss as of late among our circle of friends. Dear, dear souls who have walked their paths and crossed our own who are no longer for this earth. We mourn for them and we weep, it is part of what is necessary. We feel a greats sense of loss at times like these and at times the world seems a little smaller and darker for our loss.

Death is part of the cycle. None of us would be here if it were not for the great equalizer that ends us all. All of our ancestors, the people, the men and the women who walked this way before us had there turn in the sun and they had to finally give way so we could take our turns.

I was blessed to have an amazing relationship with my Great Grandmother Emmons when i was young. I was the jewel of her world, we played dominoes and she passed away when i was four. She taught me that it was all OK and in some way i cannot entirely understand or explain, i saw her after she was gone and she let me know it was all right. I was blessed and lucky to have this experience when i was only four, because i have never seen death as a bad thing. I have always in some way understood and known that it was part of our lives and it is beautiful. Not in itself. It can be tragic and early, or the end of a long and meaningful life, but when we look at the whole great story of the lives of humans, it is beautiful.

I am comfortable with my death. She lingers at the side of me, just off to my left. When she reaches out her hand and touches me it will be time to move on to the next adventure. As a warrior, i am comfortable with that. I try to live each day as if it is my last dance on this earth. I hope to be able to look back when death finally comes and as Nietzche directed say, "Was that life? Again." Hoka hey in the words of the Sioux blessing. This is a good day to die. My life is and will be a blessing and i am "feeling nothing but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life."

"I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn't a second at all, it stretches on forever, like an ocean of time...

For me, it was lying on my back at Boy Scout camp, watching falling stars... And yellow leaves, from the maple trees that lined our streets... Or my grandmother's hands, and the way her skin seemed like paper... And the first time I saw my cousin Tony's brand new Firebird.... And Janie... And Janie... And Carolyn.

I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me... but it's hard to stay mad when there is so much beauty in the world.

Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst...

And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid life...

You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry... you will someday."
American Beauty End Speech

Pass into beauty and live each moment to the fullest.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


"You say hold on to the reins, i say let them go tonight." ~Live

I spent a long time in this sort of rugged individualism thing, where i would not let anybody help me with anything. Never wanted to be a burden and sort of wanted to be this mysterious loner. Owning a Renaissance Faire has helped to cure me of that. As a human we are part of a community and we really cannot do everything our self. I have had to learn to sometimes let go of the reins and delegate or let the other members of the team have some things to do.

I have been blessed in this endeavor to have an amazing team who all bring something awesome to the table. Phil is pretty much the smart one and the realist. He is a brilliant writer and teacher and one of the best stage combatants i have ever met. When it comes to a vision for a script and a show, he has it. I am always amazed at auditions to watch him direct. When he sees a monologue he can analyze and give feedback that in the course of being with someone for 3 minutes, makes them better and enhances what they have brought to us.

John is our amazing fountain of positivity. No one that i know can help but feel the contagious goodwill and beauty of life that John brings to the table. It is his leadership in rehearsal and powerful good will that has helped our cast buy into what we are trying to create at our show. John can take a bee sting to the head and see the amazing power of that experience and celebrate it.

I feel a little bit like a fulcrum between the two. I can write things down and make people see the passion of my vision, but i can also look back and forth between the two and look without bias at both sides. The three of us as an entertainment department are pretty unstoppable. We do not always agree, but we are a team and we have always been willing to listen and come to common ground, i believe for the most part leaving our egos at the door.

And then there is Andy. There would be no New Jersey Renaissance Faire if it were not for Andy. In the face of having so much to do, he has kept the thing running. He is our business mind and he always finds a way to get done the things that we do not have the capacity to get done. When i get tired and feel like i can't go on, i look at everything that Andy has on his plate and i find a way to continue with the passion and make this thing go. He is also a business man but at the same time you can see that he truly loves the world and tries to make it a better place, while keeping us aware of the reality of making this thing run in a business sense.

But the best team i have ever been privileged to be a part of has been with me all along. I have been blessed from the very beginning with two of the most supportive parents anyone could have hoped for. My father is an amazing woodworker and he can take basically whatever you want and create it for you. He is presently making marquee signs for us at the faire and has been instrumental in getting whatever we need done. He is a genuinely good man and he can fix whatever you need fixed. He is also a simple soul who likes to work in his shop, go fishing and play spider solitaire. He does not need anything fancy and he too is genuinely there for his fellow humans and especially his family. I am always honored to work with him and one of the best times i have had in a long while was hitting the woods and gathering some firewood with him.

And then there is my mother. I do not know a kinder and more loving woman. She truly embodies what a Christian should be. Her faith is about love and caring for people. To her detriment sometimes, she puts others before her self. She is not judgmental and she is truly her fellow brothers or sisters keeper. Her fried egg sandwiches get me through the faire season. She has an intrepid faith and i truly admire that. She does not preach that her way is the best way, she simply lives with compassion and lets those around her watch and because of her, the world is a better place. I am always delighted to see the joy she gets when we open the bed and breakfast that happens at her house when faire season rolls around and these crazy, crazy characters invade her house and home.

I am learning to let myself be helped, by all of these people and more. I also try my hardest to be worthy of the team and the love of all of these people. They are a short part of the list. I feel that i am part of something that is greater than myself that is taking on a momentum of its own. It is amazing to be a part of a community, a family and i am truly thankful to all of those that make that possible.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Solace of Solitude

I used to go outside into the woods almost every night back when i lived at my parents house. No flashlight, no tools, nothing but myself going out into the bush. It was amazing. I learned out there that the Kingdom of Heaven IS at hand. The angel choirs of crickets, spring peepers, bullfrogs sing constant and persistent praise to the Divine. I was part of that. My self dissolved and my nightly walk was my own song of praise to the gods. I learned out there that Orion is my Brother, the Moon is my Sister and most desired love. The Wind is my brother. The Earth is my Mother and The Sky is my Father in that earthy Aboriginal way. In the darkness of the nights, bathed by stars and moonlight, i am One. Everything is everything else and it is all the same. I have read since then that we are all made up of stars and the stuff of the universe in a scientific way as well. I knew that then as well when i walked through the woods at night.

I have had a long dark valley. I stopped walking in the nighttime. I became too busy, had some relationships along the way that drained me and took away what i am. I became separate in my thought from what was around me. My ego moped. I feel that i am coming back to the place of health that i was in, probably last in 1999. I have found my way home. I owe a lot of that to the Lords of Adventure and the Adventurer's Handbook i wrote with my good friend and twin brother John Williams. I owe a lot of that to an amazing cast at the New Jersey Renaissance Faire. I owe a lot of that to following Bethany Tussings dread locks up a mountain in Colorado and being reminded of the kind of person that i want to be. I owe a lot of it to people that we have been able to help along the way. They were there, in their own pain for me and whether or not they knew it, they pull me up out of my valleys so i could be there for them. We put out a book and an idea of a joyful life that i feel we have to live up to. It is possible to be a decent human being and always try to strive for better than you are this day.

This path has led me to a mountain. I sit in my house on the hill in Lambertville, listening to the stream run over the rocks and feeling the breeze come through my window on this beautiful spring night and i am reminded of how important it is for me to be out in the night. This place is a blessing. It feels like a final step out of the valley into the pure light of day. It is amazing to end a day here. The other night a deer up the hill in the darkness sang her song to me. This place is a solace and a refuge. I am blessed.

Monday, April 8, 2013


I walk lonely through a forest in the night. All things dissolve into one in the darkness and it is easy to lose yourself out there. The sounds dissolve, the very envelope of your being begins to slip away into the surround and flow beyond its edges. A fire solidifies out of the darkness. It is a warm bubble of self and welcome in the midst of formlessness. Something stirs in me as i look into its dance. I am drawn to that fire like an irresistible force. It is my self coming into focus out of the One. I am moved by feelings of warmth that have not stirred for so long. They have rested and pretended they are not there, but they are and the fire draws them out of the depths of me.

In that bubble of light, there is warmth and there is grace and my alone is shattered as i watch the flames tremble and dance and leap in my presence. It is as if the dance is for me and i sit although i should go. I feel like the selkie who came up out of the sea. There is nothing more beautiful we have on dry land to a creature of the deep. The fire is like a dancing jewel and there is nothing like it in the depths.

No matter how much the fire threatens to consume, i am drawn closer to the danger. The warmth entices me, moves me and i can scarce resist its pull. I am like a moth to the flame and in spite of knowing that i will be burned i fly into its fiery embrace like a willing martyr. I feel the first fingers of flame caress me and i linger too long in their embrace before returning to the reality of the night and the forest. I will remember the warmth and i will certainly dream of the fire.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What a piece of work is a man

"What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals—and yet,
to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me—
nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so."
~William Shakespeare

I am amazed. I sit in rapt awe and gaze hard long at the wonder. People floating as if they weigh nothing or as if the laws of gravity do not apply as they dance and become love in motion. I watch as a man leaps from a cliff and flies like a gliding vulture or diving hawk through canyons and valleys, rising up above the world and embracing eternity. We are an amazing monkey. Do we descend down out of the image of gods and angels or do we rise up out of the dust and likeness of the primate brothers and sisters who walk the forests like our ancestors. I am not sure which is preferable.

There is true delight in all of this. I am witness to something beautiful. You can here it in the voices of angel choirs that sing out of human throats as well or when you watch people risen to eternity in dance or in the notes that are coaxed out of a violin or guitar. We sing constant praises to God as an angel choir at times.

But we are also this quintessence of dust. As much as we can bring the Kingdom of Heaven among us, we can also raise up the lowest pits of Hell. There is a balance in humanity. On one side is the beauty, the art, the love the joy and on the other the pain, the evil, the malice that we as a species do. I see in things like this dance that we can rise up out of the ashes of our lesser selfish selves and become greater than what we are. In every smile there is a chance for us to prove to the universe that watches that we are divine and can keep the world turning in beauty.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

"The Way is in the Training" ~Musashi

Greetings Adventurers. Adventure tip of the day: Make a habit of your training, whatever that may be. I start almost every day in my little gym that is pictured above. I get an awesome workout in, usually involving some footwork and shadow boxing, hitting the heavy bag, training on the wooden dummy and then doing a bunch of body weight exercises. I feel so much better when i do this routine than when i do not. I feel alert and ready to go the whole day. I try to get another workout of some kind in later whether it is running, weights or something. An object at rest tends to stay at rest, but an object in motion tends to stay in motion. The more you make your body like energy, the more energy you will have. If you have a desk job, get out of your seat as much as you can and move.

"The way is in the training" as Myamoto Musashi said. Your training has to be effective and you have to get in that habit. It is difficult at first, but once your body adjusts it is even more difficult to stop. Do not make excuses. Move. Get up 15-30 minutes early and get your body moving. I also find that it helps to find something that you truly enjoy doing. If you hate running, you are not going to last long trying to run. This is just as important if you are trying to learn an instrument, a language or any skill. You need to get in the habit of practicing. It was great being in Florida with John Williams. We got up almost every morning and went down to one of the big pavilions in Quiet Waters park and did some training.

If you need some pointers or starter workouts let me know. I have lots of ideas on this subject and love to help people find spiritual and physical health (i really do not believe there is any difference between the two but that is the subject of another blog.)

I hope all is well, continue to strive to be awesome. See you the next time.

People have made the false distinction between mind and body,
as if they are two different things.
There is only one type of stuff in the universe,
and that stuff is energy,
whatever that means.
Matter is merely energy moving at a slower rate.
Make your body like energy.
Get out of your seat,
Move, flow, dance, love.
Everything rises and falls together.
I am a part of the great flow of energy
that runs through everything.
As i still my mind and move my body,
i realize the great truth of the sages,
everything is everything else,
we are all a part of one great field.
As i move and come closer to that state,
i come closer to the Divine.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Infatuation of Evil

I have been noticing a lot while we have been down in Florida that there is this fascination with evil. A friend of ours had a shirt that said something like, "Who needs a God when you've got a Satan!" We spoke to another girl on the shire on a faire day who was telling us that she is evil. She could not be convinced otherwise, she was evil. She had the black eye liner and deep mope lines to prove it. She is not the only one. Lots of people really really like the bad guy, so why this fascination with evil and being dark and brooding?

I think part of it is that people really do not think about what they are saying and what it actually implies. A lot of the images we think of as evil, like Darth Maul here, i am going to face it, they look really cool. But, it is not really what evil is. Evil in the real world is not just wearing cool make up and a black cape and kicking butt and taking names. Real world evil is much more exemplified by the Senator Palpatine role to stick with Star Wars analogies. Evil is the creepy politician in the background pulling strings and shutting down factory towns to line the pockets of his cronies. Evil is the adult who takes advantage of a child and abuses them because of their position of power. Hitler was evil. I really think that most of these people who claim to be evil do not revel when they think about these things. Does the person who likes Satan hear that her nephew was molested by their local preacher and go, "Yeah Satan!" Does the evil girl from the faire wake up in the morning to find her car stolen and raise the devil horns in the air and cheer, "Yeah evil!" Does the guy who is an evil dude who can't be contained find out his boss is closing down the plant to ship jobs to a sweat shop in Asia and say, "Yes dude, that was so evil!" I really don't think so. But, those are the things that the bad guys really do.

I think what it comes down to is that people are mostly addicted to the mope. We have created a culture that loves to think life sucks. We find the brooding vampire and gaunt pale moping guy sexy. We also idealize the selfish. These two things are coming together to create a pretty miserable society. Very few people are actually decent to each other and we are addicted to our sadness.

We here at the Lords of Adventure (the sword fighting show i do with my buddy John Williams) have fully embraced being good guys. We are also really addicted to the air we breathe and living life to the fullest. I definitely see it taking people by surprise and they don't really know how to deal with it. One thing is for sure, they love it. Being positive and embracing the side of the light is kind of addictive. We have found that on occasion, we will say something like, beautiful morning today! When the mopers have sent us back a "Why is it a good day?" We reply with a truth that is really really primal and deep, "The choice is yours."

That is deeply deeply true. You can choose the type of day you have, you can choose to wallow, or you can choose to live your life deeply and with meaning. Smiling and being positive is actually a lot sexier when you are around it for more than about 2 minutes.

Friday, January 25, 2013


I have been training in the martial arts for a very long time. I have spent thousands of hours in the gym, hitting a bag, sparring, grappling, lifting weights and generally working out. It keeps me in good shape, but honestly, that is a side effect. I have never worked out to be in shape although that is nice. I love that i can run up a set of stairs or play all day with younger cousins or kids that i am teaching and have them get tired way before i do. It is pretty awesome, but truly, that is a nice side effect and not the reason why i keep going back.

The practical side of the training is to improve my martial arts skills. That has always been my quest. The philosophy of Jeet Kune Do is perfect. I see no difference between the spiritual quest and trying to figure out what is the most efficient and effective fighting style. I am a man of peace, make no mistake. It takes way more than it should to drive me to be angry, but i still want to know, honestly if what i am doing works or if there is a better way.

Those are the practical and the side effect, but the addiction runs deeper. Make no mistake, it is an addiction. I need it to feel good as sure as any junkie does. On days that i do not get to go to the gym or get my body moving, i feel groggy and i withdrawal. I love this addiction though. Those endorphins make the world come into focus and when they pump through my veins, i can imagine no sweeter high. I am glad to be an addict in this case.

The thing about the endorphin addiction, and the key that i think makes it a healthy drug, is the fact that you have to strive and work for that high. You do not achieve a state of higher consciousness or feel that runner's high after a single punch or five steps on a run. Opening the door to the gym and stepping in does not put you over the top. You must achieve it and push through the hard parts of the training to arrive at bliss. And that certainly is what it is. There is that point in the work out where everything is flowing smoothly and the body is alive with reaction and action. It is a moving meditation. It is no longer TJ punching the bag when i get to that point, it is just punching of the bag. My ego dissolves away. It is lovely and one of the favorite things i have ever done.

William James said that drugs were a valid form of religious experience. He was right, from what i have heard really, i do not have a lot of experience. I have never needed to because my drug was always found in the sweet sound of flesh pounding into canvas and the music coming out of the speakers. Drugs can do for you what the endorphins do, but it is like the dark side of the force. You do not need to go through the fires and the battles to get there. It is the quick and easy way. The same thing could be seen in the eyes of the people i saw in their cars on Mount Washington in New Hampshire. I had walked there from New Jersey, i arrived on that peak after a grueling day of seventeen miles through the woods. They drove up for a half an hour. They could never feel exactly the same connection and spiritual peace i felt with that mountain, because i mixed more of my labor with her majesty.

I have watched friends who need the drugs. They have to smoke pot, or drink from the bottle they keep ever on hand because they have managed to turn the volume of their lives down. It may have been abuse or a gradual turning away from life living itself over time, but they have found their way to the easy drug. It saddens me a little.

The quick and easy drugs turn the volume of one's life down. The quest to release your own endorphins, the healthy high of your own mind, turns the volume and clarity of life up. It feeds on itself. It is a circle ever returning into itself and it enhances ... everything. I am alive, i am alive. I feel the fire and electric running through my legs of muscles pushed to their limits as i type this and i know it is true. I am alive.

Not saying i would not enjoy a beer right now either. Just saying. That can be awesome too. But, people of the world, find your inner drug and get high on your life. It is pretty awesome, even if you might not think so at the moment.