Naming the Beast

Name the dragon… the monster… The “Evil” you are fighting against. Every adventure story has a monster that the hero must defeat in order to liberate his people from fear and tyranny. The hero of this story is called coyote. He is an anarchist stonemason with a mysterious past hiding out in the hills of Paradise. He is prepared to take on the monster. He wants to set the debtor/serfs of Paradise free. He has loaded his quiver with a few philosophical arrows. He takes aim at the heart of the beast. The weak spot is visible. But what exactly is this monster that he seeks to defeat?

It’s not Donald Trump that’s for damn sure. Trump is a clown and a distraction and the ugly ridiculous face of the monster but really he hardly matters at all. The monster is not just the federal government, or the U.S. Military or the CIA or even the military industrial complex either. It also includes the deep state, “the illuminati” and a not so secret cabal of arrogant billionaires that try to pull the strings of government but the monster is not really any of those things either. What exactly is this monster?

The monster is a system that seeks continuous growth as its modus operandi. It is a nexus of operations between multi-national corporations seeking “profit” at all costs, the U.S. Military which provides the muscle for the corporations, and the US government which provides the “ideology or propaganda” to cover or explain the addictive profit seeking. These three entities work together on their long term mutual goal of planetary conquest for the sake of “the system”. The “brain trust” for this system is a collection of Washington and New York “think tanks,” and their platform is all the major media outlets that most people watch and listen to every single day. The monster goes by many different names because it shows itself in many different formats. But for the sake of clarity and focus, coyote is going to call the monster by a single name. America, inc.. For the rest of the story, America, inc. will be the beast that the heroic coyote wants to defeat. The unfortunate truth is, America, inc. really does want to conquer the world. The unbelievable fiction is; coyote is starting a non-violent revolution to stop it…

The Dying Beast of America, inc….

The dying beast of America
Flaps its broken wing and squeals…
A mortal wound? Indeed…
Death will come slowly
But,
Inevitably.
The injury is inoperable
Infection has set in…
Nothing to do but,
Watch it spread, watch it spread, watch it spread.

The dying beast of America
Flaps its broken wing and squeals…
Soulless minions scramble
To repair the monster’s broken absurdocracy
So long to construct
So quick to fall apart
The minions won’t accept it
The minions can’t accept it
They grow desperate, frantic, crazed
Patch the wounds
Silence the screams
Pain killer galore…
But, ultimately,
It will do no good.

The dying beast of America
Flaps its broken wing and squeals…
Infection oozes from the open wound
Germs invade…
Lots of them… An assortment of flavors and colors.
Anarchists, communists, socialists, libertarians, fascists, nativists, spiritualists, monarchists, parliamentarians, dictators, warlords, power-hungry maniacs…
Adrenaline rush deludes the monster
A last desperate show of strength
More prisons, more police, more searches, more seizures, more jails, more lock ups, more detentions, more arrests, more torture, more holding pens, more crackdowns, more surveillance, more more more…
No more social services… No more government assistance. No more welfare. No more food stamps. No more safety net
Make the people work!
Workfare, indentured servitude, serfdom, debt bondage, prison labor, slavery…
The economy booms!
But still,
The sickness spreads and festers.

The dying beast of America
Flaps its broken wing and squeals
Politicos try to sell legitimacy
Put happy faces on sickly institutions
But,
The people aren’t buying
They don’t believe anymore
The government is a joke.
Talking head politicians spew forth programmed speeches
Based upon a calculated synthesis of the latest poll data.
What they say
Is completely unrelated to what they do.
Democracy?
A Republic?
Our government?
Yeah right.

The dying beast of America
Flaps its broken wing and squeals.
Death will come slowly
But,
Inevitably…
A mortal wound indeed!

Happy Inter-dependence Day!

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to buy my new book. It’s about my backpacking adventure in “The Middle East.” It is only available as an e-book now but will be out in paperback soon.

See you somewhere.

Hummingbird Begins…

Hummingbird Begins…

Cusco, Peru… Yes, I’ve been there… twice. It’s the ancient Inca city that has been transformed into a somewhat modern hip and happening city for the sake of a tourist economy. It’s actually quite awesome but no, I’ve never written a story about it. No doubt, I’ve told a few… my hike on the almost empty Inca Trail in 1993… my Inca romance… it’s where I bought my ticket home… it’s all coming back to me now. But no, I’ve never written any stories about Cusco.

Our friends were visiting from South Carolina. They own a coffee shop called Curiosity Coffee. I was high like a hummingbird and telling tales of far away travels and they asked about Cusco, Peru. They were going to feature a coffee from Cusco in their shop and were wondering if I had any stories from there…

Actually, in a way, Cusco, Peru, is where it all began because that is the place where the very first journey ended… more or less… it was a long time ago, I can barely remember… I was a novice traveler then, my first big trip. I took a year off from my professional career in order to see some of the world. I spent four months traveling around the US in a pick-up truck… sleeping on a mattress in the back, visiting the national parks and all the famous landmarks. I left my pick-up at a friend’s in Houston, Texas and went South through Mexico, Central America and South America on public transport. My original plan was to go as far South as the tip of Tierra del Fuego in Argentina. But I meandered a lot and took some wrong turns and my money ran low in Peru. I ended up buying my ticket home from Cusco because they had cheap international fares. I did dip south into Bolivia for my last two weeks, but I circled back to Cusco, Peru to catch my flight. And the very last thing I did, before hopping in the cab to the airport was kiss a beautiful young Inca woman good-bye….

In retrospect, it seems hard to believe. And it happened so long ago, I’m not sure whether the past really happened or my brain merely imagined it. But the story is… I met a beautiful young local woman while I was hiking on the Inca trail. The romance was brief. She wanted me to stay in Cusco and get a job working as a tour guide. But I had a pile of student loan debt and a promising career to return to. So I fled the scene. I had not yet discovered the power of the stones. I was still a servant of the Empire. Thinking now about it though, I can’t help but wonder if that magical night with the beautiful young Inca woman somehow planted the seed of stone discovery somewhere in my future.

It was March of 1993 and there were not many tourists or travelers wandering around Peru at the time because Peru was in the midst of a “civil war.” A rather large group of socialist revolutionaries known as the “sendero luminoso,” (the shining path) controlled a mountainous section of the country and had a significant following in the rest of the country. The government, meanwhile, was run by an authoritarian dictator who was backed by the military and an entrenched oligarchy. There were occassional violent clashes between the militarized police and the armed and angry socialist revolutionaries and innocent people, including tourists, were sometimes caught in the cross fire. There were explicit warnings from the state department telling Americans not to travel there. Nevertheless, I went.

I was a bit foolish… young… naive… oblivious. I was vaguely aware of the conflict in Peru. I had read the state department travel warnings. But there were similar warnings about Colombia and I had no issues traveling there and there were no warnings about Venezuela even though I got caught in a revolution there. So I didn’t take the travel warnings seriously… And really, the ongoing conflict was only vaguely noticeable to me. There were lots of police checkpoints and public transport searches. And there were practically no other travelers/tourists/white people around. But I saw no gun battles or explosions or military maneuvers. I laugh now, in retrospect, at my former innocent self wandering Quixote like amid an ongoing revolution.

About halfway down the long coast I met a similarly naive young Australian traveler guy named G. . We stuck together for the next several weeks as we made our way through Peru. Neither one of us spoke much Spanish and we went several places that we were not supposed to go but no great harm befell us. We were warned about “the miserable fish town” of Chimbote but we went there anyway and met some pretty young ladies in the plaza. They took us to a pizza parlor and a disco. We ended up at an all-night crazy party on a beach a few kilometers outside town… Wow… but that’s another story….

We also went to the highlands around Huaraz and Yungay for some hiking. We made many jokes about the careful use of the Spanish word “sendero” which means “path” when asking directions on the trail. No… we are not looking for “sendero luminoso” the revolutionaries, we just want the correct “path” to the campground (ha ha ha). We did see a bunch of guys in strange uniforms or costumes when we were on a mini-bus in Yungay and some of the ladies on the bus said they were “sendero luminoso” but they laughed about it and seemed to be pulling our leg or joking. But then, when we finally got to Lima, we were informed very seriously that it was a very bad idea for gringos to travel near Huaraz because of the presence of “sendero luminoso.” Oops…

I traveled around Peru for well over a month and only saw about four other gringos the whole time. Until I got to Cusco. Cusco is the access city for the world famous Machu Picchu and it was also fairly secure and not under threat from the “sendero luminoso.” Lots of international flights went in and out of Cusco so visitors could easily skip the rest of the country and go straight to the main attraction. As such, Cusco seemed rather crowded with tourists when I arrived. But really, it wasn’t…

I went back to Cusco in 2004 and then, it was crowded. Indeed, I often make the comparison between Cusco in 1993 and Cusco 2004 as the most dramatic transformation of a location that I have ever personally experienced. In 93 there were a few gringo bars like the Irish place (with awesome Shepherd’s pie) and a smattering of expats studying archeology stuff while hosting the small but steady stream of adventurous international travelers. I signed up for the Inca trail the day I arrived and went on the hike with a group of five other tourists a few days later. In 04, Cusco was like a tourist Mecca chock full of tourist infrastructure, western style businesses, and hordes of overweight pasty white people walking around in a daze. In 04, it was impossible to sign up for the Inca trail upon arrival because there was a three month waiting list. You had to register in advance by the Internet… Uggh. So I took the train instead. I probably didn’t want to hike the over-crowded trail again anyway.

But this story is about 93 not 04. And hiking the Inca trail in 1993 was one of the most amazing and significant experiences of my early adult life. My tour group consisted of a West German couple, an East German couple, a Dutch guy and myself. We were accompanied by a local Inca guide, a porter and a cook. Not insignificantly, there was one other group hiking the trail at the same time as us. It was a group of six Europeans with another local guide, porter and cook. The guide for the other group was the only female Inca or Quechua guide at the time. The absurd thing is, I can’t even remember her name. I will call her Ms. Inca. I do remember that she was one of the most incredible humans I have ever met.

Our paths crossed frequently over the four day hike. The different groups were staggered along the trail so people could hike with some solitude. But I was always at the front of our group while Ms. Inca was at the back of the group ahead of us walking with that group’s slowest hiker. As such, I would hike up to her and pass her at some point during each day. She was impressed by my athletic strong hiking ability and my boyish overly enthusiastic American charm. And I was impressed by her. It was her job to hike the Inca trail every week. She also spoke five languages fluently (Spanish, Quechua, English, French and German). Exceptionally beautiful with the whole exotic local look, is it any wonder I walked the Inca trail like superman to catch up with her every day.

But we did not have any sort of romance along the actual trail. A very slight flirtation perhaps. But not really. She treated me very professionally. Our relationship was strictly guide/tourist. She was the guide of a different group but a guide nonetheless. Romance with clients was strictly prohibited. Considering the number of tourists who probably hit upon the only female guide, a no romance rule and flirtation avoidance behavior was a necessary part of her chosen profession. She talked to me about Inca culture and Inca mythology and told stories about the incredible landscape we were hiking through and she occassionally laughed at my bad jokes. But she gave no indication whatsoever of any extra-curricular interest.

We did pass through the Gate of the Sun (inti gate) together and that was kind of special. But that was more random coincidence than a planned or orchestrated romantic moment. All the groups time their hikes to arrive at the Sun Gate for sunrise. The Sun Gate entrance is, perhaps, the highlight of the whole Inca trail experience. We camped out the final night about an hour away from the gate. I awoke before dawn so I could reach the gate for the magical moment but so did everyone else. Ms. Inca was explaining the history and the significance of the gate to several members of her group when I arrived.

The Inti Gate is situated on a high mountain pass on the western side and up above the plateau that holds the ancient holy city of Machu Picchu. Between the two tour groups, there were close to ten of us who stopped there to watch the show. The famous stone city lay beneath us in a shroud of mist. Up ahead, at the end of our long stony pathway, a shadowy outline of stone structures seems to arise from the nothingness. I can barely make it out in the dim morning light. But then, suddenly, the sun rises above the ring of mountains in the east and rays of light shoot down upon the holy plateau. The mist dissolves, the stone city sparkles and the whole universe seems to shimmer with holiness…

“Behold Macchu Picchu,” says Ms. Inca, “the sacred city of stone.” She just happens to be standing a few feet away from me as she speaks.
“Holy shit,” I say, “that’s fucking amazing.”
“Interesting choice of English words,” says Ms. Inca, “but yes, it is amazing.”
“You’re right, no need to swear,” I say, “But wow, does it always happen like that? with the sparkly, glittery magical appearance in the nothingness stuff? It doesn’t even seem real.”
“That effect is caused by the ring of mountains that surround the plateau and the heavy blanket of moisture that covers the valley each night,” says Ms. Inca, “By the time the sun gets above the rim of mountains and reaches the plateau, the rays are very direct so they burn off the fog very quickly. It’s not always exactly the same but it is usually something similar. I get to see it once or twice a week and it never stops amazing me.”
“Do you hike the Inca trail every week?”
“Yes,” she says, “just about. And sometimes twice. It is my job.”
“I think you have the best job in the whole world,” I say.
“I don’t know about that,” she says, “but it is a pretty good life. I get to share my culture and meet people from all over.”
“The scenery and daily exercise are pretty awesome too. What fun. You are really living the dream.”
“And what about you Patrick?” She says, “What is it you do back in the United States? What is your job?”
“I don’t have a job at the moment because I’m traveling” I say, “but I am a, a, a,” . For the first time in my whole life, I am embarrassed to admit my chosen profession. My throat swells and my tongue goes numb. I mumble. “I’m a ……”
Ms. Inca actually laughs. “You don’t seem like one of those,” she says. “Is it fun? Do you enjoy it?”
“There is more to life than fun and enjoyment,” I say. “It’s a good profession… an important profession… an honorable profession….”
“Enjoy Machu Picchu Patrick,” she says, “I believe you are about to have a very fun day.”
I look down the hill to the end of the Inca trail and see the sacred city of stone awaiting my exploration.
“No doubt I will,” I say, “see you later.” I wave good bye and head down the hill ahead of the other hikers.
“See you somewhere,” I hear Ms. Inca say behind me as Machu Picchu awaits in front of me….

To be continued….

Coyote and Hummingbird

I think I’m going to call the new book “Coyote and Hummingbird” because those two characters from my medicine cards keep showing up in my day to day life.  Somehow or other, they represent the oppositional aspects of the metaphysical quagmire that I am trying to understand.   In other words… sometimes I feel like Coyote and sometimes I feel like Hummingbird.  This new book, the one I am writing now, will contain stories and essays from the perspective of each character.

Coyote exists to disrupt the Empire. He is the trouble-maker, the scoundrel, the outlaw. He is the metaphorical embodiment of the imaginary revolution. He wants to see the whole horrible evil empire come crashing down and he is on a continual quest to help make that happen. His quest, however, is complicated and also rather reckless. By challenging the empire philosophically, economically, politically, and artistically, he puts at risk his own very good life. Luckily, he’s a fictional character.

Hummingbird, on the other hand, can’t be bothered with the evil empire. He just wants to enjoy life and live the now. He has a good life with a wonderful family, a happy home, and a moderately successful business. He travels the world and tells fun stories about his various adventures. The empire is obviously collapsing anyway. It doesn’t need to be challenged. Hummingbird plays enough of the reality game to stay out of trouble and tries to create oasises (oasi?) of beauty amid the horrors of the modern industrial civilization. Hummingbird is also a fictional character.

The overarching story of the book will be relationship between the two characters. Will hummingbird lead coyote away from trouble… Or will coyote eat hummingbird?

The Buddha and the Hummingbird

As usual, this is presented as a work of fiction.   Some details of the events that unfolded have alternative interpretations.

The Buddha and the Hummingbird…

The hummingbird makes me smile. My heart goes pitter patter boom boom and I start to hum Beethoven’s 9th symphony… bump ba na na da na na na bump ba na na da na na… Yeah, I know, the medicine cards are not real. I don’t really believe them. But pulling the hummingbird as my morning coffee card is certainly a nice way to start the day…

In case you are unfamiliar with the mythology, the hummingbird theoretically represents JOY. That spontaneous exultation of good feeling that bursts forth from the center of your being and makes you want to sing or shout or cheer. Sometimes the sensation of JOY is a response to a particular incredible or wonderful event that you experience first hand: witnessing the birth of your child, saying yes to a marriage proposal or even winning a contest or sporting event. Sometimes the sensation of JOY emerges in response to less dramatic but nonetheless stimulating experience in day to day life: watching a mini-miracle in the natural world or hearing a favorite old song on the radio that you have not heard in a long time. And sometimes the sensation of JOY emerges for no apparent reason whatsoever. All of a sudden, you just feel like singing and dancing. The hummingbird as a symbol is not concerned with the cause of the joy or the environmental factors that bring about joy. The hummingbird is an image of the joyful sensation itself. In other words, looking at a hummingbird is like witnessing a visual manifestation of JOY as a concept.

Of course, the other side of JOY is sorrow. And as the universe is constructed; you can’t have one without the other… The hummingbird only appears for a moment… suspended in the air by the power of divinity… so beautifully iridescent…like an angel from a fantasy dream… it seems ready to speak… say something. But then it zips away and is gone. You are left with a feeling of absence that lingers and leaves you wondering what words the hummingbird would have spoken if it had remained.

Have I mentioned yet that we live In Paradise? Buddha Hill in the Catskills is a pretty special place. Joy is a common sensation for me and my family here and we also frequently see hummingbirds. I can’t help but wonder what my old friend Buddha would say… hmmmm enlightenment? Release from the sorrow necessarily means release from the joy? Does that mean there are no hummingbirds in Nirvana? If that is the case, well then, you can keep your enlightenment and your Nirvana, I’m going to stay right here in Paradise with the hummingbirds.

Actually, in a way, it’s the perfect expression of the spiritual conundrum… the debate… the challenge of all spiritual metaphors. To fully “embrace God” or “become enlightened”, we are taught that we must somehow give up or release ourselves from worldly or material desires. Some people meditate while others pray and fast. If you think about it, the objective seems to be to deny your humanness or animal nature in order to find peace?

The Buddha story is illustrative… Guatama was a 29 year old princely dude living the dream. He was a 01 percenter with an Ivy League education and a seat on the board of a very big multi-national corporation. He had it all. But then one evening he went for a walk with his eyes open. He saw a crippled guy crawling along the street. Then he saw a very old and worn out man huddled uncomfortably on a park bench. Then he saw a dead dude sprawled out on the sidewalk. The three visions changed Guatama’s life. He could no longer live comfortably in the lap of luxury. He gave it all up to live a life of homelessness. He sat under trees with his legs crossed and tried to figure out why? Why is all life suffering? Then one day, he was “enlightened.” Hmmmm. By non-attachment to material things and worldly desires, you can release yourself from “the inherent suffering of human existence.”

But is that something you really want to do? Aye… there’s the rub…. Non-attachment… but what about love? Isn’t love a kind of attachment… Intense attachment? What exactly is; un-attached love? Non-monogamy… swingers? A question to keep the Buddhists talking for days.

Guatama only sat around with his legs crossed under bodhi trees for ten or fifteen years. By the time he reached his mid-forties his thinking evolved and he came out of the forest and started speaking to people about “the middle path.” He then started collecting some hefty fees for big speeches. Elaborate festivals were held in his honor. He was welcomed at palaces and mansions and deluxe condo resort events. He was still technically “homeless” and he welcomed his followers into the “fellowship of homelessness”, but he now lived a pretty good life in the material sense. He wasn’t “attached” to material wealth, but he was able to enjoy it nonetheless.

Now is, of course, a few thousand years later so Guatama’s teachings have evolved. It is questionable if he would even recognize modern “Buddhism.” Unlike the Buddhist monks I met traveling in Asia, most of the American Buddhists that I know personally have lots of money and material wealth. Indeed, several I know even invest in the Imperialist stock market. No doubt there are poor Buddhists too and perhaps my perspective is skewed by the nature of my work but I can’t help but wonder about the contradiction. Apparently, under modern Buddhism, a person can “own” as much material stuff as they desire as long as they are “not attached” to the stuff that they “own.” Hmmm, kind of makes me scratch my head.

So here we are on Buddha Hill living the American upper class materialist dream. We have everything; hot tub, barbecue, trampoline and exercise machines… but we don’t own any of it. We are renting… using… possessing… Temporarily occupying while I re-arrange the rocks on the landscape. The “owners” are far away living in another state. Thankfully, they are “Buddhists” and “not attached” to this incredible place that we are free to use.

The central room in the house is a room we call the “Buddha Room”. The “owners” would probably call it the shrine room or the meditation room. It has incredibly high cathedral ceilings with wide sky-light windows at the top. No furniture to sit upon but there is a beautiful hanging chandelier suspended above and an amazing Asian carpet with intricate designs that covers the entire floor. There are awesome tapestries with different mythologically Buddhist images on the walls and there is a wicked cool Buddha statue surrounded by electric candles on a hand-carved wood altar…

I’m not a much of a meditator, but it really is a great room for meditation. Sitting perfectly still doing nothing is just not my nature. Instead, I juggle. I only use bean bag hackey-sacks because I don’t want to break anything. But juggling is almost the opposite of meditating. Or is it? I also like to lie on my back in the middle of the carpet and stare up through the sky-lights. In the daytime, I watch the clouds float by and at night there are stars and sometimes the moon. I do my stretching exercises/yoga routine in there sometimes too. We even use the room as the imaginary “Death Star” when the little one and I play Star Wars. So the room has many uses. It is a beautiful amazing room. It is a symbolic room. It is a metaphorical room…

The crazy thing happens on a sunny Saturday in early June. It is a perfect day… a wonderful day… a joyful day. I went to the Farmer’s Market in the morning and then made a nice big brunch for Ms. B., the little one and myself. I am now reclined on the couch in the living room sipping an after brunch cup of coffee while my two loves play games just outside the front door. I’m not sure if they are watching ants, picking strawberries or just rolling around in the yard but I can hear them laughing and giggling through the open door. It is an idyllic moment and I am thinking actively about how idyllic it is… Like from a Norman Rockwell painting but with sound. The sound of my family’s playful giggles pushes the joy button at the center of my soul and sends ripples of happiness through my whole being…

And then it happens…. a beautiful hummingbird flies right through the open front door and all the way into the Buddha Room.

“Oh no,” says Ms. B. as they rush inside to see.
“He’s trapped Momma,” says the little one, “what can we do?”

I rise from the couch in the living room and walk down the hall to the Buddha Room to see with my own eyes. Sure enough, the scene that unfolds now is like from a myth or fable or ancient legend. The storyline is so thick, the metaphor is so dynamic that I can hardly believe it happens in real life. The hummingbird is circling the chandelier in the middle of the Buddha Room. Round and round it goes like a character in a story looking for answers in a glittering globe. But then, suddenly, it stops or hovers in mid-air and looks up at the blue sky in the skylight. It seems to hesitate for a second as if making a decision and then shoots for the skylight window like a rocket ship. Slam… no, more like SMACK…. or pu-twang. It crashes into the closed window and falls backwards through the air tumbling towards the chandelier… Oh no, this is a disaster.

But then, something amazing happens. Just before the hummingbird crashes into the chandelier, it recovers and starts flying again… fluttering about…zipping from here to there, flying around the chandelier, precariously close to the chandelier, but not crashing into it. Once again, it circles the room. It looks up. Oh no, he didn’t learn his lesson. He sees the blue sky through the skylight, he shoots for the heavens like a rocket ship. And again… Slam, smack… pu-twang. He falls backward after crashing into the window and tumbles towards the chandelier. “He’s done for this time,” I think, “it s going to be a serious mess to deal with”.

But no, I’m wrong. I swear it is like a miracle to behold. As if the hummingbird is an acrobat performing tricks at a circus. Just before she reaches the chandelier, she somehow regains her composure again and starts to flutter and fly again. She zooms about the room…. circling the chandelier. When the bird stops and hovers for a third time, looking up at the skylight, a zillion thoughts rush through my head…. She must see the glass window now. Or at least know it is there. Maybe she thinks she can smash through. But that is impossible. Will she kill herself trying to escape? Help me Buddha, I really don’t want my little one to witness a hummingbird suicide. There must be a way to direct her towards the open door… But I don’t speak hummingbird, and the bird is focused on the skylight. Honestly, it is slightly horrifying to watch unfold because I know it is going to happen and there is nothing I can do to stop it. Sure enough, the little bird shoots for the blue sky like a little rocket ship. Slam, smack pu-twang…

This time however, she hits the window in a different spot and falls at a different angle. Instead of tumbling towards the chandelier, she goes sideways into a wall and somehow gets tangled in a hanging tapestry on her way to the floor. She’s not moving at all. Hanging by a single claw stuck in the fabric.

“Is it dead?” says the little one?
“I don’t know,” I answer, “maybe only injured or in shock. Let’s try to save her.”

Ms. B. retrieves a bath towel. All three of us go close to perform the operation. While Ms. B. holds the folded towel beneath the bird, I gently push the tiny claw free from the fabric. The hummingbird plops down on the towel. She is still breathing but her eyes are closed and she barely moves. Only the tiny feathered chest rises up and down to indicate life still lives. But it does live.

Our somber and anxious procession makes its way across the Buddha room. Ms. B. holds the towel with unconscious bird in front or her as myself and the little one walk beside it. Truly incredible to look at. The tiny body of blue and green feathers… like a toy but breathing and warm. We cross through the hallway and out the front door.

“Can I hold him Momma?” Says the little one.

“No sweetie,” says Ms. B.. “he is hurt badly already and we don’t want to hurt him anymore.” She lays the towel down on the grass. “If we leave him alone, maybe he will recover his senses and fly away.”

“I promise to be careful,” says the little one, “I won’t hurt, I just want to touch.” As she reaches out to pet the tiny creature, however, a strange wind blows through and something magical happens. Suddenly, the little wings start to flutter. The tiny hummingbird rises to its feet and leaps into the air…

As the tiny bird flies off into the sunshine, my entire family erupts into cheers. We clap our hands and shout with joy… “FLY BE FREE…FLY BE FREE!”

“Wow, Daddy,” says the little one when the hummingbird is out of sight, “was that a miracle?”

“Yes sweetie,” I answer, “I think maybe it was a miracle. A sign from the gods. Joy to the world!”

A Journey to the Middle of the East

A Journey to the Middle of the East

It’s about time… My brand new “literary masterpiece” and “fun adventure story” is now available for purchase as an e-book. It is called, “A Journey to the Middle of the East,” and I really hope that everyone will want to read it. You can buy it here: New book

In the Winter of 2012-2013, I went for a real life four month “wander” around a few countries in “The Middle East.” Over the course of my travels, I wrote a whole bunch of stories in my spiral notebook about my various experiences as I traveled. Some of the stories I posted on this website as rough draft travelogues while I was actually on the road. Other stories were only outlined on the road but I worked on them when I got back and posted them randomly over the next several years. A few of the stories were never posted in any form. All of the stories have now been edited, refined, shaped and sculpted into a single continuous narrative… The fictionalized story of my own personal quest to discover the meaning of “The Middle East.”

I really hope people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together. It was a truly amazing process. Sort of like watching a flower grow or a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis. To some degree, I was strangely removed from the final creation. I wrote each of the stories as individual units and then attempted to unite them as a “symphony” of stories afterward. But, ultimately, they came together in a way that I had not imagined before hand at all. It was almost as if I discovered a very old story hidden inside my brand new story. Wow… that’s about all I can say.

Only the e-book is available for purchase at this moment. I am planning to give away “Free” paperback versions as a promotion sometime very soon. The paperback will be available for purchase eventually and maybe even an audio version.

Buy it now: A Journey to the Middle of the East

Thanks so much,

See you somewhere…

 

 

The Coyote Lives…

This is a new “travel story,” and also a continuation of the previous story.  It is presented as fiction… one part of a serialized novel.  The events may be true but the narrator is a figment of my imagination…

Winter Solstice 2017 continued…

The waffles are delicious and the moment is almost here.
How to begin? I don’t know. Have I reached the wall? No, there is so very much more to say… The coyote.. The solstice moment. How did I get there? How much does the reader need to know to appreciate the significance of the experience? Can I capture the transformation of reality into fiction?

I started the ritual 22 years ago as an experiment. I used to suffer from severe Winter depression. How much of that depression was a product of my insane real world lifestyle… trying to be “successful” in a fucked up capitalist world…. and how much of that depression was a product of my own internal “chemical imbalances” is an open question. But I abandon my insane real world lifestyle and started my own little “imaginary revolution” to deal with the fucked-up capitalist world. And I started the annual ritual as an experiment to deal with the “chemical imbalances.”

My working theory on the chemical imbalances was rather sensible. Every winter, my emotional and mental health system would run slightly off track. The remedies I usually used to treat the sadness of daily existence no longer worked. I would have to take more and more remedies to less and less effect. It was as if my system was overloaded with remedies and they all just cancelled each other out and remedied nothing. I felt nothing in winter time… I felt dead inside. That is why I decided to try re-booting the system… my own internal system. How?

My four favorite indulgences or remedies that consistently brought happiness and joy to my physiological reality were fairly easy to identify: whiskey (alcohol), weed (THC), coffee (caffeine), ice cream (sugar). I decided to cleanse my system of all these remedies before Winter began so they would all have their full remedial power during the long, cold, dark, depressing Winter months. For no real reason in particular, I thought approximately six weeks was a sufficient time period to cleanse the system. So I started my first cleanse in early November of 1995. Actually, I think I started the first one on the morning after Election Day for symbolic reasons… It was the first Election Day of my adult life that I did not vote. But that’s another story…

So I went cold turkey on all four indulgences giving them all up totally and completely. No weening, no cheating, no finger crossing. It really was a bit like hell for the first week or so but after that it was kind of nice. It was a fascinating and healthy process to think actively about my internal biological system. I could feel my body changing… transforming. I drank lots of lemon water and herbal tea and I walked around with this notion in my head that my system was getting washed clean. And then, of course, on the moment of the Winter Solstice, I drank a strong Irish coffee with whiskey and whip cream and took a couple of great big bong hits… Continue reading

The Coyote Gets the Gold

My life seems to be more and more fictional all the time.  Here is another “travel story” that is also the continuation of the previous story.  Actually, I’m beginning to think that I am writing a whole novel as I see a rather lengthy plot unfolding ahead.  Perhaps I will serialize it upon these pages…

The Coyote Gets the Gold

The Winter Solstice (part 1); December 21, 2017.

I know it is going to happen before it happens. I shuffle the cards double… triple… Extra… to try to keep it from happening. It is the morning of the Winter Solstice. My ritual of indulgence will be later… at 11:21 am. At the moment, it is almost sunrise and I am heating water for herbal tea as I prepare to choose my medicine card. I attach special significance to today’s medicine card. In some respects, it is the card for the day, the card for the Winter season and the card for the whole year ahead. I shuffle the cards more and more but it makes no difference. Of course you know what card I turn over; the Coyote.

So, here I am, riding my bicycle over the mountain on the morning of the Winter Solstice. The temperature is hovering around 20 degrees and the wind is blowing but there is no snow.. Am I crazy; no, not exactly. Am I afraid of the coyote? Well, yes, maybe a little? Is that why I’m embarking upon such a foolish adventure? No, not really, but in a roundabout sort if way.., yes. My reasoning is, perhaps, convoluted, but my determination is profound. I am riding over the mountain in defiance of the coyote. Not because the coyote wants me to ride over the mountain but because the coyote is challenging me to ride over the mountain. I dare you he says… And so I do.

Honestly, the experience is rather thrilling. It is like a quest in an ancient epic. Frodo had to make it to Mount Doom in order to ditch the ring and I have to make it over Franklin Mountain in order to get the gold for the solstice celebration. I could have taken Ms. B.’s car. It was available. But I chose to ride. The first few miles were fairly flat and easy riding but I was passed by two big milk trucks that crowded me off the shoulder. Now I’m on the four mile long continuous uphill stretch that goes up and over the peak of the mountain. The other side is much steeper and shorter distance but harder to peddle up. This side is really not too bad. Like many things in this universe, the anticipatory thought is oppressive but the actual experience is mostly rather pleasant. The ache of exercise and the blood flow from heavy breathing excite the body. It’s more like a mid-range morning workout than some outrageous, crazy, impossible physical challenge. I’m dressed warm with long underwear and gloves so I am not uncomfortable. The cold air feels good on my lungs and the warm sweat starts to flow. The only real problem I have is with zooming cars and trucks that crowd me over to the shoulder. There seems to be lots of traffic on this road now; more than I ever remember. I guess it’s the morning rush hour. Peddle peddle push, up and over the top of the mountain. Continue reading