Another New Beginning

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 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.

See you somewhere…









The Power of Protest?

The Power of Protest?

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….

Do You Want to be a Revolutionary?

Do you want to be a Revolutionary?

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.


Start local.
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.

The Lycian Way II (The Cost of Being Alive)

Here is another one from the archive of hand written notebooks.  It is also a chapter in a new book I am working on about traveling in the Middle East.



The Lycian Way II (The Cost of Being Alive)

Patara, Turkey  March 2013

Everything is free… Nothing is free…  Aye… there’s the rub; the fine line which fractures humanity.  The question arises every single day.  Why do we have to pay money for food and shelter?  The spiritual traditions tend to teach the opposite…love your neighbor; practice compassion, the golden rule.  For me, at least, the spiritual traditions are but metaphors to describe an instinct that is real and present in all humans.  Indeed, to push the concept into the realm of the radical, I would even suggest that the instinct is not just a human instinct but rather a fundamental force in the formula of the whole darn universe. The prophets call it kindness or love.  Scientists call it entropy… the opposite of energy.  The truth is; humans and all living things have a communal or social instinct.  

No doubt, we have an individual instinct too.  The other side of the equation.  The energy that opposes the entropy.  The two forces counter-balance one another and free will comes forth from the center. Unfortunately, these days, civilization is way out of balance.  The controlling economic system penalizes the social instinct and rewards the selfish instinct.  As such, finding that middle path in between love of self and love of others can be rather difficult.  In other words, it’s not always easy to “be nice.”        

As the cold rain pours and the harsh wind blows outside, we are warm and cozy inside with candle lighting and amazing food.  Ms. B and I are in the common room of a guest house on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. We are the only guests so we have the place to ourselves. But then, an angry young woman comes forth from the storm to interrupt our private romantic dinner. I am correct in my guess about her nationality. She is American.  She is mad because she had arranged a free place to stay in the nearby village of Alinca but found the house closed, locked and empty upon arrival.  Furthermore, the Turkish cell phone she bought for the trek is not functioning so she can’t call her friend back in Fethiye to find out why the house is locked and nobody’s home.  The blowing wind and rain is a nightmare outside so she can’t set up her tent.  She desperately needs a place to stay.

“No worries,” I tell her, “they have plenty of room here.  It’s only 40 lira (20 bucks) with dinner and breakfast and the food is really amazing.”

“But I don’t have any money with me,” she says.  “I was planning to stay everywhere for free.”

Continue reading

The Imaginary Revolution


If you can imagine how something is possible there is always a chance that it will happen.  Even if the odds are significantly against it.  So imagine, if you will, a non-violent economic revolution…

How deep do I have to dig in order to explain the concept to the average reader? For me, at least, it is completely comprehensible. It seems so simple. All it has to do is unfold like a lotus flower. Why can’t everyone understand? It is a philosophical revolution. Collapse the old metaphor and replace it with a new one.  The “survival of the fittest”story is way too simplistic and one-sided.  Ecological interdependence is a much more realistic explanation of the observable world.   Down with the linear mechanical system that seeks only to win the competition and up with a dynamic organic system that seeks to live well within a healthy ecosystem.

Every cell is part of a tissue but is also an individual cell. Every tissue is part of a body, but is also an individual tissue. Every body is part of a community but is also an individual body. Every community is part of an ecosystem but is also an individual community. Every ecosystem is part of the whole planet earth but is also an individual ecosystem.

The dynamic relationship between the individual and the community. Therein lies the essence of free will. Therein lies the foundation for an economic system that makes sense. Communism/Socialism is a broken concept because it subordinates the individual instinct to the communal instinct. Capitalism/Corporatism is a broken concept because it subordinates the communal instinct to the individual instinct. Dynamic/Organic economics seeks the middle path between the two.

Capitalism is yang and Socialism is yin.
A healthy economic system is based upon the interdependence of both concepts.

Can you see the light yet?

Sometimes it acts like a particle and sometimes it acts like a wave.

Decentralize the power structures
Localize the economic system.

It’s not that complicated. Start with the first principle. A dynamic relationship between the individual and the community. Interdependence. Freequality. That is the foundation… the building block… The organizational structure (government) for a healthy community (state) grows out of that concept.

Dynamic/Organic Economics. (A Manifesto)

The first principle of organic economics is that all humans have an economic right to food, shelter and basic healthcare. Any government that does not guarantee those basic economic rights to all humans living within its jurisdiction is not a legitimate government.

It’s not welfare. It’s not an entitlement or a handout or charity. It’s a right. Everybody gets it. It’s your foundational bargaining position, human dignity, that allows you to participate in the free market.

The religion of capitalism is built completely upon the myth that the working class job seeker has bargaining position. But in reality, the worker does not have bargaining position. That is what the revolution is all about. If you guarantee economic rights you change the nature of the relationship between the employer and employee. The authoritarian hierarchy becomes a dynamic balance.

The theory of organic economics argues that the best way to give workers back their bargaining position/economic freedom is through the “democratization” of currency flows.

Presently, most, if not all, governments on the planet earth use some type of oligarchic linear money supply system. The currency supply is controlled by an elite central government and distributed to the population through a variety of trickle down mechanisms. In the US, they use a mechanism called fractional reserve banking. Private banks who borrow from the Fed are allowed to create money as credit and lend it out to people or institutions. In other words, when new money is added to the system, it is always given to people or institutions who have money in the first place. In other countries, the government or central bank creates the currency and passes it directly to its closest friends and relatives who then pass it down to the general population. Some governments may try to distribute currency in a way that is beneficial to the general population while some governments don’t seem to care about the populace at all. Either way, it is always a downward distribution from government insiders (bankers) to citizens.

In order to transform(revolutionize) the economic system, we must stop adding new money to the system through private banks. Outlaw fractional reserve banking. Private banks can only lend money they actually have. Instead, add new money to the system using the principles of organic economics.

In organic economics, all citizens have equal access to the circular flow of currency. Money is a function of the fair market value of food and shelter and basic healthcare within the jurisdiction that the money is distributed. It’s a mathematical equation with the community and the individual on opposite sides of the dynamic balance. There is no secret cabal of decision makers who get to decide who gets what. Money is automatically distributed according to the principles of the system. Every single person gets the exact same deal. You don’t borrow money from the oligarchy based upon your “credit rating”. You receive your fair democratic share of economic rights within the community/state where you live.

The formula itself is fairly simple. At the beginning of each month, each individual in the community/state is invested with the fair market value of food, shelter and basic healthcare in the currency of the community (how big the community? A small state? Hmm…). In exchange for that monthly investment, each individual agrees to respect the basic property rights (possessions) of other participants in the system and to contribute 50% of everything they earn (in whatever currency) on the free market back to the community/state at the end of each quarter or each year. The important thing is that money flows back and forth between community/state and individual as economic value is continually used and created.

In the confusing language of the punditocracy, you might say that everybody gets welfare (even billionaires)and everybody pays a 50% tax (even billionaires). But in organic economics, welfare is an investment in an individual and not a stigma because everyone gets it and taxes are a return to the community and not a punishment because they are based upon an agreement between people instead of imposed by psychopaths who want to fight more wars.

Do you get it yet? It makes sense. Economic democracy. Dynamic work relationships. Organic economics.

The non-violent economic revolution starts now!

This essay is not copyrighted, please feel free to share it or copy it or paste it or plagiarize it or send it to anyone and everyone.

Thanks, and have a wonderful day.


A Post Modern Christmas Story

If the truth is relative, the new “travel story” you are about to read is relatively true. Nevertheless, it is also “fake news”. The narrator and the characters depicted are creations of the author’s imagination. The events which unfold may be “universally true,” but they are not exactly objectively real. I like to believe that it is some kind of neo-mythology which I call “living fiction.”


Winter Solstice… 2016. Ms. B.’s Dream…

“I dreamed we had another child. I was in TJ. Max.. Little a. was walking around ahead of me and I was carrying an infant in my arms.  She was a baby girl. Little a. is quite a bit older in the dream than she is now. At least kindergarten maybe even first grade. The three of us are walking around TJ Max. Little a., the baby, and me. You aren’t there. You are probably out building a stone wall or something. So there we are in the middle of TJ. Max when all of a sudden, the lights go out…”

If you have been reading my stories for a long time, you may be aware of my annual ritual. I started doing it 22 years ago and I find the process incredibly rewarding. At the end of my stone work season every year (early November), I go cold turkey and give up my four favorite indulgences… Coffee, alcohol, weed and ice cream. The first week or so is a bit of a challenge for the body and brain but after that, it just feels healthy. I continue “the cleanse” throughout November and up until the Winter Solstice so it usually lasts somewhere between five and six weeks. I like to think of it as a re-boot for my system. For metaphorical reasons, I complete the ritual at the exact moment of the winter solstice and it always seems, somehow, symbolic. I pour a strong cup of coffee and season it with some Irish cream. I pack a pipe full with some good local homegrown and consume the combination when the earth hits that special spot in the great rotation. I say my little poem and then see what happens…

Let there be light shining in the darkness
Let there be hope in a world of despair
Let there be wonder in the face of confusion
Let there be laughter filling the air…

This year, my timing is exceptional. I awake without an alarm clock at 5:22 am and the solstice is scheduled for 5:44 am.. I have plenty of time to prepare my provisions. To make matters better, I saw on the Internet that there is some kind of eclipse this year so it is theoretically the darkest night in 500 years. That should set the stage for a particularly powerful experience. Ms. B. and little a. are still sleeping when I awake so I crawl quietly from beneath the covers and head to the kitchen.

My concoctions are completed by 5:43 am and I go outside to the back porch. The morning is shrouded in absolute darkness. I sit on the back step, look up at the darkness and wait for the magic moment. I drink my coffee, alcohol and cream; puff the pipe and say my poem…
Let there be light…
I sit for a few minutes sipping my warm beverage and breathing the sacred air. Then I go back inside. Just as I reach my chair in the kitchen I hear a voice call out from the darkness…

“Da Da,” says the voice.

Obviously, it is my daughter, little a., and she has awoken in bed and requires attention. This is a fairly common occurrence in our home. I wake up before dawn to write but my fiddling around in the kitchen disturbs the little one so she gets up to interrupt my imaginary world. Sometimes Mama can nurse her right back to sleep but more often than not, she wants to know what Dada is doing so she comes out to see. Lately I have discovered that if I go back to bed and lie down next to them while Mama nurses, little a. returns to slumberland a lot faster and easier so I can go back to my stories sooner. So that is what I usually do.

Mama (Ms. B.) passes through the kitchen on her way to the bathroom. “I know you are enjoying your ritual,” she says, “but she’s been awake for a while now.”

So I leave my place in the kitchen and go back to the bedroom to lie down next to her. “Calm down Sweetie Pie,” I say, “dada’s here. You can go back to sleep now.” A few moments later, Mama comes back to bed and starts nursing her. As the three of us are lying there in the darkness, Mama tells me about her dream.

“I dreamed we had another child. I was in T.J. Max.. Little a. was walking around ahead of me and I was carrying an infant in my arms. She was a baby girl… So there we are, the three of us, myself, little a., and the baby, looking at the merchandise when all of a sudden the lights go out in the store. Fortunately, I have a flashlight in my pocket and I turn it on. We don’t take any merchandise but instead start making our way to the exit. Somewhat strangely, there are no other customers in the store. We reach the checkout line and it is empty. There is not even a cashier. It’s when we reach the exit that I have the realization. As we step outside into the sunshine, I reach down and grab ahold of little a.’s hand. Oh my gosh, we are going to have another baby. And that’s when I wake up.”

“What do you think Dada?” she continues, “what does the dream mean? Are we really going to have another child? What should her name be?”

“Well,” I answer, “if little a. is five in the dream and she is only 18 months now, we have a few years to think about it?”

I can hear Mama  smile and chuckle in the darkness but she doesn’t respond verbally to my statement. She continues nursing quietly as her and the little one drift back to sleep. Meanwhile, I lie there peacefully and think randomly about the symbolism of the dream.

I can’t help but wonder if she turned on her flashlight in the dream at the same moment I said my poem on the back porch. Ha ha. TJ Max., the lights go out… how perfect. The metaphor is so full of hot air, it pops like a ripe balloon… Mama and I have an amazingly good relationship. I love her and the little one with my whole heart and soul and I would do anything for them. Nevertheless, the universe is necessarily constructed of opposing forces so we do indeed have occasional issues. Actually, I would say that we have one underlying issue that shows itself in many different ways. The issue is a simple one. I have an aversion to “owning stuff” that is almost pathological. I believe that globalized consumer capitalism is a disease that is destroying the planet. In my theoretical revolution, I want humans to stop “buying” things from the “corporate empire” and start trading useful and beautiful things with each other. I realize, of course, that my imaginary revolution is really just a dream and I try to not be an extremist about it. I sometimes even compromise and “buy” a few “necessary” things from the corporate empire. Nevertheless, it is something that drives me just a little bit crazy. If human beings do not give up their crazy consumerism, the whole darn planet is certainly doomed.

Mama sort of agrees with me on an intellectual level but she certainly has no pathological aversion to owning stuff.  She is not exactly a materialist but she does like a few “things.” She also receives subliminal corporate propaganda when on social media and occasionally tells me about their official response to my doomsday narrative… Technology can save us from ecological destruction. If we just consume environmentally  responsible products, we can keep right on consuming.  Materialism and saving the planet are indeed compatible if people will just learn to buy responsible stuff…   Mama also sort of likes to shop a little, little bit. Now it is, of course, the holidays, so most of what she buys are presents. But her buying instinct is rooted in kindness towards others so I can’t really blame her. Nevertheless, it still makes me shake my head in frustration. How much more “stuff” do humans really need?

Anyway, as I lie there in the darkness thinking about all this, little a. releases herself from Mama’s breast and rolls towards me. She is sort of asleep now with her eyes closed but she still wiggles and squirms. She reaches out and grabs my arm with her warm tiny little hands and calls out a single word from deep within her subconscious, “Da Da,” she says. In response to her voice, something triggers inside of me and all of a sudden, the story of Mama’s dream makes perfect sense…

Having a child is the most optimistic thing that humans can ever decide to do. It’s a hopeful bet on the future of the world. Realistically, in my logical brain, I don’t think the future of the world looks very bright. The objective data suggests that corporate capitalism is on a collision course with oblivion. Unless the imagination revolution somehow manifests, there is not going to be a world left to raise children in… But Mama’s dream gives me hope. It is a beautiful prediction of an idyllic future. Yes, that’s right. There is still hope. It is possible… The lights will go out on the corporate empire and Mama will have the inner light to lead the little ones outside. The future is still bright.  We will raise our children in Paradise…

All of a sudden, I feel a slight kick in the ribs. Little a. has rolled over and made herself comfortable lying perpendicular with her head on her mama’s belly and her feet towards me. She is sound asleep now in the darkness but still manages to call out two more words from deep in her subconscious. “All done!” she says.

“You’re right Sweetie Pie,” I whisper, “the story is all done. I should get out of bed and go write it down.” As I climb from beneath the covers and make my way to the kitchen, however, I have one last thought. I realize the answer to Ms. B.’s question. “Well, obviously,” I say out loud, “her name shall be little c.” But Mama  and little a. do not hear me because they are sound asleep.

A Modest Proposal

This week’s episode is transcribed from my archive of handwritten notebooks.


A Modest Proposal

Istanbul, Turkey; February 2013

The rock is special.  I found it at Wadi Rum when I was camped alone on a sand dune in the middle of nowhere.  It sparkled in the setting sun and grabbed a hold of my attention.  Its crystal structure bent sunlight into all the colors of the rainbow.  It looked, quite literally, like a droplet from heaven.  I even thought it might be a diamond.  But now I’m not so sure.  In the plain light of day and the harsh glow of fluorescent light, the stone does not look so magical.  It’s still nice and all, but I have my doubts.  It might be technically worthless.

Nevertheless, my plan is to give it to Ms. B..  Ideally, the presentation of the rock should be both dramatic and romantic so that she remembers the experience for the rest of her life.  A spontaneous overflow of emotion would be nice. Perhaps even some tears of joy.  I’m hoping to push the metaphor of our love story long into the future and the rock giving game as a symbol of commitment is a human tradition that goes way way back into the past.  The modern world has, of course, spoiled the narrative with crass commercialization, sentimental clichés and legally binding contracts but the underlying story is still a good one.  Two individuals decide to become a single unit… a couple… a family.  It’s a radical move.  It’s an optimistic bet on the future of the world.  The giving and accepting of the rock is the moment of destiny; the climax of the love story.  It is the moment when the happily ever after begins…

 Welcome to Istanbul!  There is a convenient metro station below ground at the airport.  It is cheap and efficient so that is the route we take into the city center.  Ms. B. is exhausted after 20 hours of travel time from New York via Amsterdam.  Dinner time now in Istanbul is breakfast time in New York and poor Ms. B. has been up all night.  I, however, am as chipper as cricket in a field of flowering clover.  It was a short two hour hop to get here from Amman, Jordan and I had a good night sleep and a healthy breakfast.  I was also here in Istanbul a couple of months ago so I know my way around a little.

The metro journey to the Sultanhamet neighborhood takes a bout 45 minutes total.  We have to switch from tram to train about halfway there.  On the train we have seats.  Ms. B. leans into me and rests here head on my shoulder as we exchange a few words but the train is crowded and the scene is not appropriate for much conversation.  She nods in and out of consciousness as we communicate non-verbally.  Ten thousand miles from my apartment on a subway in a foreign city but with Ms. B. asleep on my shoulder, I feel right at home.  After we switch to the tram, however, we no longer have seats.  It’s very crowded and we are lucky to find space to lean our backpacks against a center pole.  We hold on with one hand each as the tram rumbles slowly through the busy city.  Ms. B. keeps blinking her eyes open.  She looks dead on her feet… like she might collapse.  I look around at the many passengers on the crowded tram car.  Ms. B. and I are both rather blonde and we definitely stand out amid the dark haired, olive skinned locals.  Nevertheless, there is no sense of stress, discomfort or anxiety.  The other passengers pay us little mind.  Tourists with backpacks on their way to Sultanhamet is a fairly common sight on this tram.

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