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.