I will state once again for the record: this is a work of fiction. The story may be “true” but the narrator is not a real person….
Three days after the coyotes appeared in the pre-dawn forest, another coyote appears.. this time as my morning coffee card. It is the 16th of December and I am planning to drive into town to get supplies for the Winter Solstice. I have gone almost six weeks now without my favorite indulgences; I want them to be on hand when the moment comes. I don’t have to pick up weed because it is going to be delivered here tomorrow; but I have to get coffee, alcohol and ice cream… I also have to go to the bank.
“Are you sure you want to go?” questions Ms.B.? “I have to go into town tomorrow anyway. I could just do your errands then.” She is aware of the coyote’s appearance as my morning card and she fully understands the implications.
“I refuse to let a card game change my behavior,” I answer, “I’m not afraid of any coyote. I’m going to town.”
Here is another new “travel story.” Like usual, it is presented as fiction even though it might be more of less true…
The Coyotes Howl
The coyote has now appeared to me three times in recent days. Once, in reality, on a pre-dawn walk in the forest and twice in the cards with my morning coffee. Does that, perhaps, mean that the coyote character or the coyote experience is about to manifest and throw my day to day existence for a loop? I don’t know. I can only ride this roller coaster I can’t direct which way it goes. The first encounter occurred on December 13 at dawn. I was tripping out from food fasting and I went for a wander around the pre-dawn wintry forest without a flashlight. Does that sound crazy? Well, yes, maybe a little, but not really. I should probably explain.
It all started with my annual cleansing ritual. My cleanse… that’s what I call it. I have followed the same routine every year for over twenty years. At the end of my work season in early November, I quit all four of my favorite indulgences; no more weed, no more caffeine, no more alcohol and no more more sugar. I give them all up for about six weeks up until the moment of the winter solstice. There is no specific religious or spiritual motive behind my cleanse as I first began the cleanse to help me with severe winter depression. But I have continued the ritual for over twenty years now so it sort of does feel like a spiritual or meditative process. I rather enjoy the re-boot to my system and I think it is very good for my overall well-being.
Some years back, in 2007, I added a three day food fast to the middle of the cleanse. Again, the fast does not have a religious or spiritual motive. I just met this impressive older world traveler human at a cafe in Chiapas, Mexico and in the midst of regaling me with his tales of travels far and wide he detoured into a rather detailed and interesting dissertation on the benefits of fasting. I was fascinated by his story so I decided to try a three day fast a few days later when I was camped out in the jungle near the Guatemalan border. My experience was amazing and I believe very beneficial for my physical and mental health. As such, I have added it to my annual routine.
This year, I started my fast on the 10th of December. I ate my last meal for dinner on the 9th and would not eat again until sunrise on the 13th. Nothing but water with a little cheater squeezed lemon juice flavor for four nights and three days. It’s probably a weird thing to say but I rather enjoy fasting and I can understand how a person could become addicted to it. But I only do it once a year. It’s been ten years now… every year some time in early December. I go for 80 something hours… Sunset to sunrise with three full days in between. The fasting guru at the cafe in Chiapas told me you have to go a minimum of 70 hours to transform your body and kick on the cell rejuvenator. I’ve never researched it further and I’m not exactly sure what a cell rejuvenator is but I can say from my experience that something remarkable does indeed happen to the body on or about the 70 hour point. The sensation of hunger disappears, the body feels weak and the brain starts to wander in ethereal realms. The hours that follow are like some kind of spirit ride… Continue reading →
I’m still working out the details for my plan to add audio stories to this site or somewhere else. In the mean time, here is a new written story… not exactly a travel story but it does have a tenuous connection to my world wandering. As usual, I present it as fiction… but it just might be a little bit true.
The Coyote Strikes…
I don’t really believe in my medicine cards… But, I sort of do. Actually, I feel pretty much the same about all “spiritual games.” A long time ago, when I was but a young aspiring writer, I learned how to read tarot cards because a character in one of my novels was a tarot card reader and I wanted to understand the conceptual framework so that I could properly write the character. I even made my own deck and began doing readings for people at parties and social events. It was fun. Kind of like juggling metaphors and using your “client” as the main character in a spontaneous story. After a while though, things got kind of strange. My spontaneous stories were eerily accurate. My “clients” started to take my readings way too seriously. On several occasions, “clients,” burst into sobbing tears and unloaded deep dark personal family secrets on me. Totally bizarre situations. I was reading the cards for fun. It was a free service. I never charged any money because I really enjoy story-telling for a captive audience. But then, I started to feel like a psycho-therapist. I was practicing without a license and was way unqualified. When I came to understand this strange power I had over my “enthusiastic clients,” it sort of freaked me out. So I just stopped doing readings for other people.
Nowadays, I still read the cards on occasion, but only for myself personally or people I know and trust to be light-hearted about such stuff. I also like to read Nordic Runes and toss the sticks for I Ching combos. Astrology is fun in every culture. And once you understand the game… the principles of dynamic opposition. You only need to know the names of the characters and you can tell a story in any religion/metaphor. The question is; do you believe the story to be “true” of do you realize it is just a story?
What I call “subjective truth,” is believing that your reality is the reality. If you believe in the validity of tarot cards or runes or your astrological charts, or even your lord and savior J.C., your belief in those stories will cause those stories to have a significant impact on your day to day experience as a human being. In other words, the stories are subjectively true for you because as a variable they impact your consciousness. If you don’t believe, it’s not true… if you do believe it is true.. But what if you are somewhere in the middle? You kind of sort of believe all of it but you don’t really believe any of it? Which brings me to the coyote… Continue reading →
This is a test to see if I can attach audio to my wordpress site. I want to start an audio program of travel stories and I am looking for the proper place to host it. Let’s see what a short audio sounds like here… Well, how about that, something seems attached. So now the question is; can I just go ahead and play it on an ipad or an iphone or a smartphone or whathave you and what will it sound like if I do… sleep inducing… I will bet you a dollar you can’t stay awake till the end.
So I’m back again… with another new beginning. Yeah, I know, I appeared on these pages a few months ago promising a new beginning. I was full of enthusiasm and bright ideas. I was all excited to write new “travel” stories with a twist. I tossed out a teaser about where we might be going to escape this year’s winter. The big reveal or surprise is that this year, instead of escaping the winter, we moved right into the middle of it. We are staying at a place we call, “Buddha Hill,” in the heart of the Catskills. Outside my window now there is more than a foot of snow. The wood stove cranks to keep us toasty warm. The circumstances of our accommodation are special because we could never afford such a place at market price. But it’s a stonework deal. The owners are connected to a Buddhist community near here where I built a couple of waterfalls a few years back and they will be living in their California home for the next year or so. Buddha Hill needs a little waterfall for its pond and we were looking for a new and interesting place to live. A few phone calls were made, the stars aligned, the Buddha approved and it was karmically correct…. Voila’. We get to live in a Catskill mountain paradise for a year and all I have to do is build a waterfall.
So that’s what I was going to write about… traveling tales from “Buddha Hill.” Indeed, I even wrote two such stories in my notebook and intended to post them. But I never did. I was also ready to launch my new book about my travels in the Middle East. The book is called, “A Journey to the Middle of the East,” and I definitely think it is my best book ever and I really want everyone to read it. My plan was to load it on the self-publishing platforms on the first of the year and spend the winter promoting it. But here we are in early March and the book is complete but it is still just a file on my own computer, it is not uploaded anywhere or sent anywhere. It sits stagnant… ready and waiting to be released to the world. But I hesitate… Why? Is it, perhaps, because I am meditating too much here? Ha. Or maybe I am consumed by family responsibilities? Or maybe it is some sort of deep seeded psychological chain that holds me back… Perhaps I am just afraid. Afraid there will be no audience for my stories… Usually, I tell myself that the audience doesn’t matter… Blah blah blah… I don’t need to sell books. I earn my living with stonework. So I can write my stories primarily for me. I believe that the act or process of putting a story framework around my life experiences gives my life a kind of meaning or substance. Some people have religion; I having living fiction, or, my life as a novel… Yeah right Pat. What a bunch of shite. You write for an audience and you damn well know it. Stories are meant to be told. As such, stories need an audience.
In my own defense, I got distracted from my book project and my travel stories blog by a family crisis. In a round about sort of way, that family crisis became the inspiration for this next new beginning. Because it really is a new beginning.
The family crisis involved my father. He’s 87 years old and he had a bad fall and bumped his head. As a result of the fall he was in a hospital for ten days and a long term rehabilitation facility for six weeks. But the crisis has passed for now. He’s back home and doing much better. His house has been slightly re-modeled to make it more accessible for an 87 year old man who can barely walk and we have hired a home care aid that we can barely afford to stay with him overnight. But at least he is home again.
My father lives about five hours away from me. So I had to leave my little paradise here on the hill for a few weeks to go “home again.” It was a little weird. I grew up there but I haven’t really spent any time there in the last 25 years. It’s a smallish house that somehow managed to be big enough for a family with seven kids. Now it only houses my father and my brother who cares for him and it seems too small for them. How it was big enough for the nine of us makes me shake my head in wonder. But yes, I lived that reality. My parents bought it in the mid 60s and it has suffered significantly from wear and tear in the last 50 years. The clutter of big families and the passage of time have left there marks.
I fixed up the old house some and stayed with my father for a while to help with his transition back to his home environment. My father has two health issues that significantly interfere with his quality of life. First, he can barely walk even with a walker. Arthritis in his ankles and bad circulation have ruined his legs. He’s not in a wheelchair yet but maybe he should be. Secondly, he has sleep apnea and severe chronic insomnia that significantly impair his mental functioning. For many years, he spent the late night hours pacing around the house. But now, because of his legs he can no longer pace.
My little inspiration… When my father was in the hospital and the rehab facility, he was often visited by myself and my siblings and a number of grandchildren. I have sort of adopted the role over the years of long-winded storyteller in the family. My tall tales from trips overseas gave us something to talk about while sitting for long hours with my Dad. And then, I noticed something interesting. Whenever I got going on one of my long winded tales, my father would shut his eyes and go to sleep. It’s kind of funny, really. My father has severe insomnia. He Never Ever sleeps…. except for when I tell my stories.
So I took the night shift at the family home when he got out of rehab until we were able to find and hire a nighttime nurse aide. I sat in the recliner chair next to my Dad all night long. I told him I was making audio recordings of the travel stories in my books to sell on the Internet and he was the official studio audience. If he thought I was “reading him to sleep,” he would object not wanting to burden me with the task. But he likes to be useful and as my official audience he felt like he was doing something so he went along with it. It really seemed to work like magic… I would read and he would fall asleep. When he awoke several times during the night disoriented and confused and wanting to get up, I would just say it was the middle of the night and I was still recording. I’d help him to the bathroom but then settle him back down in his recliner bed and start reading again. The sound of my reading voice would orient him to time and place and he would go back to sleep.
Of course, I wasn’t really recording stories to put on the Internet. I was recording stories for my father. Now the night time nurse aide has the recordings on an iPad and she can use them as a tool to help him sleep through nights. But there is no reason why I can’t record audio stories for the Internet. What do you think; I can market my travel stories as a sleep aide for insomniacs….
Ha ha. Not really.
My stories are not really especially sleep inducing. In all likelihood, it was the anxiety relieving familiarity of my voice that helped my father sleep not the specific content of my artistic creations. I don’t think he even heard a single full story. He rarely made it through a whole paragraph. Any of his other children reading any stories would produce the same effect. Indeed, his new found ability to sleep may have more to do with the new sleep medicine the doctor’s at the hospital gave him than anything I did. But really, I must say, it was an incredible human experience to read my travel stories to my Dad during my overnight shifts. Not only did I bond with my father in a weird almost transcendental way, but I discovered something very important about myself and my stories during the process…
The stories need to be read out loud… or told.
The more I read the stories out loud to my father, the more obvious the truth became. I’ve always been a storyteller… even as a little kid. Writing books is a career in the modern economy.. telling stories is the manifestation of an impulse that is embedded in the genes. My travel stories began as yarns I used to spin while drunk on whiskey at the bar. Indeed, the language of my stories is such that they seem like they are all meant to be spoken. I never liked public speaking because it always seems too formal of forced. I get severe anxiety whenever I try to go onstage. But give me a whiskey and a small group of people in a comfortable setting and the stories spill out of me like water from a leaky cup.
So now I’m back on Buddha Hill and I have this recorder. And I have been making practice audio tapes of my travel stories. And it is so much fun. I just have to start sharing them with the world. I can hardly contain my enthusiasm.
I’m still working out the technical details, but my plan is to either add audio story telling to this website if WordPress has the capacity and tools to make it work. Or set it up somewhere else and link to this site.
I have almost 200 crazy travel stories in my collection of notebooks from visiting over 50 countries in a fifteen year period. I would like to record them all… or, well, most of them… for audio in the next few years. I’m thinking, perhaps, a program of some sort… not exactly a podcast but maybe a podcast… What in the heck is a podcast anyway? I want to do a weekly regular schedule so people will get used to tuning in and listening. Maybe I will call it Travel Stories from Somewhere… and upload a new episode with a story or two every week or so…
So that’s it. The new beginning. I hope you will give it a listen because it is coming soon to an Internet site near you.
I have uploaded a little audio here to test WordPress capacity and quality for audio but it is not the first installment of Travel Stories from Somewhere. I’m guessing this site is the wrong place to set this up. I’m kind of annoyed with WordPress.com anyway because they added effing advertisements to my site when my premium plan did not automatically renew. Pharmaceutical advertisements no less… Auuuugh! Enough to make me run screaming into the forest with horror. I hereby apologize to all my readers who were subjected to that obscene horrible bullshit when they merely came here to read travel stories. So I was thinking of moving anyway. Maybe my new plan to add an audio segment will be the final incentive to make the move…. I guess we will just have to wait and see.
When you face the mighty serpent during an ayahuasca vision and he opens his jaws to consume you, what is the wisest course of action? In other words, how do you overcome fear and discover truth?
I’m back… sort of… or, at least, I hope so. It’s been almost a year since I last posted anything here. Little did I realize, the extent to which living and traveling with a toddler (two and a half year old) would infringe upon my writing time. We did travel last winter but for only six weeks in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and we brought the little one with us. I wrote several stories of our adventures in my spiral notebook that I intended to post here. But child care got the best of me. There are only so many hours in a traveling day.
But alas, a new winter is upon us and this year will be different. Of course I’m not giving up my child care responsibilities but I’m hoping to squeeze hours to write out of some non-essential part of my day to day existence. Who needs sleep anyway? My stonework season is behind me again for now so my annual writing season begins. As such, I will be loading these pages with my unusual commentaries on the ever unfolding collapse of the empire as well as my tantalizing tales about traveling in far away places. If I have any readers left after my long hiatus, I hope you will tune in again to see what I have to offer. I promise it will be lots of fun and very interesting.
My book about traveling in the Middle East is now complete and fully edited as well. All I have to do is load it onto the various self-publishing platforms (Lulu, Smashwords, and Amazon) and it will be available to purchase by the general public. Many of the stories were posted here as rough drafts while I was traveling but they have been refined and combined with several unposted stories from my spiral notebook to create a continuous narrative. If I do say so myself, it is my finest literary creation yet. I may even try to find a real publisher instead of self-publishing so that it can reach a wider audience. Anybody out there have any suggestions on possible publishers of non-traditional travel books? One way or another though, it should be available soon.
So where are we going this year? Someplace different… very different. I have already been to Central and South America, Africa, The Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent and Asia. Where can we possibly go this year to escape the dreaded woes of winter?
Can you guess?
When you face the mighty serpent and he opens his jaws to terrify you…. what is the wisest course of action?
If you guessed Peru or South America, you guessed wrong… How many times have I told you? Do not confuse metaphor with reality…
Special thanks to President Donald Trump for inspiring so many citizens to rebel and protest against the empire. When the previous administration deported over two million humans… The response from the citizens was silence. When the previous administration bombed six different Islamic countries and thereby murdered thousands of innocent Muslims… The response from the citizens was silence… When the previous administration bombed the living shit out of Libya killing tens of thousands and thereby turning that once prosperous nation into a failed state with boatloads and boatloads of refugees fleeing to Europe… The response from the citizens was silence… When the previous administration financed and armed a proxy army in an attempt to destroy the nation state of Syria… The response from the citizens was silence. When the previous administration provided the weapons, bombs and logistical support to their subsidiary government in Saudi Arabia so that Saudi Arabia could bomb and blockade the nation State of Yemen…The response from the citizens was silence. But now that the Trumpster Clown has taken over as the figurehead of Empire, people are protesting and marching and vocally opposing just about everything he does. Isn’t it great. All this activism. All this enthusiasm to get involved.
Did that sound sarcastic? I hope not because I am sincere.
Yeah, I know, probably a percentage of the protesters are merely brainwashed pawns of the corporate democratic machine. They focus their attention on identity issues instead of the real fundamental problem of Empire… If only a woman or even a sane multi-cultural man was the figurehead of Empire everything would be all right… But I’d be willing to bet that some if not many of the protesters are “imaginary revolutionaries” learning and using the technique of non-violent action to disrupt the machinations of the corporate empire.
I personally believe that the best way to oppose Empire is to divest from it as much as possible and create alternative localized economic systems that are not Empire dependent. While I do see the usefulness of targeted protests against specific corporations who are threatening the earth I’m not so sure about the usefulness of marching before a government that pays no attention to you anyway. Nevertheless, I do support the protesters and sincerely thank them for their efforts. We are going to need all the help we can get if we are going to put a stop to the next phase of the war. And if people are in the streets marching and protesting, they are ripe to be awoken to reality. All it takes is one intelligent conversation with an informed person or even a particularly cogent essay that explains things and a “protester” can fall through the rabbit hole and wake up on the side of the imaginary revolution.
For those of you unaware of reality…
It is the job of the President to sell War to the American People. Some Presidents are good at selling war while some… Not so good. It’s not an easy job. The fundamental difficulty is that the American people don’t want to believe that their economic system and hence… their way of life is built upon a foundation of war. Americans don’t want to buy war because war is an ugly, horrible, immoral thing. But deep down inside they know that they are buying war (investing in war). It may even gnaw at their insides… guilt. American citizens buy war… invest in war… all the time. But they won’t admit it to their conscious brains. It is the job of the President to keep people investing in war and it is the purpose of politics to keep the people confused about this reality.
The US government is structured like a corporation. Like all corporations within a capitalist system it must either grow or die. That is the premise of capitalist theory… Economics is a great big competition that everyone has to play. In other words, the empire of USA, inc must either expand or collapse. It is not designed for dynamic sustainability.
During the Cold War, the Middle East was more or less divided between the two teams. Some of the countries there were subsidiaries of USA,inc. (Saudi Arabia, Israel, the GCC, Jordan, and Egypt). and some of the countries there were subsidiaries of USSR, inc. (Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon). We can argue and discuss until we turn green about the relative independence of the subsidiaries from the parent corporations (puppets or allies). But the facts on the ground clearly demonstrate the economic reality. The Parent corporation provides security in exchange for control of important economic resources of the subsidiary. Based on such an analysis, the only independent nation state in the region was Iran. And they only became independent after they kicked out USA, inc in the revolution of 1976.
When USSR, inc., collapsed in the early 1990’s, they lost “control” of their subsidiaries in the Middle East. Corporate America saw this as a great opportunity. The newly “free” subsidiaries were ripe for the taking. If only USA, inc., was bold enough to try. This is not conspiracy theory or free-floating speculation. It is basic economics. It is common knowledge among the movers and the shakers. There were dozens of policy papers and economic thesis written about this topic in the 1990s. The psychopaths at the Council on Foreign Relations produced the most well known with their Project For a New American Century but there were many others. It is a very logical and understandable conclusion if you accept the underlying premises of the dominant economic theory. The challenge for the empire was and is; how do you sell the conquest of the economically independent countries in the Middle East (and elsewhere) to the the good citizens of the Empire who don’t like war but who do like the financial benefits of conquest?
Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Iran. Does that list seem familiar? From nation state to failed state after a 21st century bombing? That is all it takes. Then, we can rebuild them all as corporate states. Think of the profits! Capitalism needs growth as a matter of principle. The remodeling of the Middle East should provide the Empire with growth for decades and decades to come. As long as you can get the American people to go along.
Democrats and Republicans sell war using different styles, techniques and metaphors but they both sell war all the same. As I listen to or watch the day’s propaganda, I am fascinated by the unfolding dynamic. These days, republicans are selling a war against Islam and the democrats are selling a war against Russia. The people don’t want a war against either. But as the people oppose the Trumpster clown and his various belligerent outbursts the propaganda machine attempts to transform that opposition into a pro-war movement against Russia. The whole thing is just plain crazy.
Anyway, on the brighter side of things, my book about traveling in the Middle East is about finished. It is basically a series of “sort of true” travel stories that are inter-connected thematically and woven into a metaphorical adventure. Most of the stories were posted on this website at some point or other but they have now been refined, edited, changed and combined into a single continuous narrative. It really is a good story and I am quite pleased with how it all seemed to fall into place. In my humble opinion, it has the potential to reach a wide audience and provide some important perspective on east/west relations. If only I can figure out how to publicize it and get it out there…
We also have plane tickets for this year’s wander. It will only be six weeks instead of the usual four months because we have the little one traveling with us. But at least we are getting out of the country for a while. Coming very soon… brand new stories and photos from Central America….
All you really have to do is decide in your heart of hearts, at the deep down center of your soul that THE government is not YOUR government.
You don’t have to take up arms, or blow up buildings, or go to jail. You don’t even have to protest. You just have to conclude in your brain and decide with your will that “it” is not an “us” or “we.”
It’s a little bit like traveling. Everywhere I go in the world, there is always a government to deal with or put up with. They are always collecting taxes and fees and passing rules and regulations. I pay the taxes and fees when I have to and follow the rule or regulation if it seems sensible or just. That doesn’t mean I recognize the validity of or somehow identify with the ruling regime of the country I’m traveling in. It simply means I am adapting to the environment I happen to be in.
The same principle applies for living inside the USA and deciding to become a revolutionary. You have to deal with the government. It is sometimes convenient to follow their rules and put up with their shit. But not all the time. You can pick your battles. The important thing is the underlying relationship between you and the government. Is it your government or the government. Is it somehow a manifestation of you and your beliefs or is it an adversary that interferes with your life?
That is what the election game is all about. It’s a corporate marketing blitz to convince taxpayers that they are involved in the governmental process. If you believe it is real. If you believe that voting in Presidential elections matters, then you are not a revolutionary.
So now the election is over and the bad guy has won. The corporate media is now using the power of propaganda to focus everyone’s revolutionary energy on the bad guy at the face of the system. If you are protesting the newly “elected” President rather than the system that put him in place, then you are not a revolutionary. You are a pawn in a reality television marketing campaign.
A certain popular progressive politician recently ran a rather successful Presidential primary campaign that he marketed as a “revolution.” He didn’t win the nomination but he has now formed an organization to collect money to finance other Progressive candidates to run for different positions in the government. Calling such a strategy or plan a “revolution” is a bit ridiculous. Actually, it’s the opposite of a revolution.
It does not matter how many good progressives are pulling and yanking on the levers of the broken system. The system needs to be replaced not just managed by better, nicer and more competent people. Indeed, collecting money to convince more good people to continue working within the obviously broken system undermines the possibility for real fundamental change.
The political/economic system as presently designed requires continuous war and ever increasing energy consumption in order to thrive. If that system continues, the ecosystem is doomed.
Divest from war.
Divest from fossil fuels.
Divest from Empire!
Invest in your community instead.
We must design and implement a new system and stop participating in the one that does not work. That’s revolution.
This essay is not copyrighted. Feel free to share it or copy it or paste it or plagiarize it or send it on to any one and everyone.