Friday, April 7, 2017

Bitter musings, ramblings, and surrender


So, I've been back in the city for about 24 hours now and spent parts of today venturing out and reintegrating myself back into being in the city and on this sometimes overwhelmingly busy street/intersection/hub of Vancity humanity.

It's amazing what a few days of total silence and peace can do for the mind, and even more so the effects of coming back to the rude wake up call of horns blaring, aggressive drivers, and folks being generally obnoxious or downright cold in their inability to make eye contact or even mumble a simple "hello" to a passing stranger.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not naive to city life or what it's like in the cold 1000 yard stare of Vancouver, B.C. I've been here for more than half of my life and I'm well used to it by now. But still, it's a little wake up call every time I leave for a spell and then come back again.

Today I even had a mild anxiety attack when I was out and about, the first I've actually ever had and It wasn't cool at all. I had to drop what I was doing and get the fuck back to my safe space where I sat and collected myself and took to some grounding yoga practice to bring me back.

After a while I felt better and was good to go. I walked, got some food, and walked some more. I marvelled at todays blustery windy weather that snapped tree branches and sent the 'FOR SALE' signs in peoples yards flying. I snapped a few photos along the way. I did my best to remain open and stayed away from the constant din of traffic and ever present crush of people jostling through each other with heads down and eyes cemented deep into their handheld rectangle devices.
Then the rain started getting fat and sloppy. I wasn't dressed for the occasion so I made my way home.

It was a few blocks from my place where I experienced my rose of the day.
In the alley I passed this man who was obviously way down and out, possibly living on and off the street and most definitely had survival and staying warm as his main focus....he looked me directly in the eyes as we walked past each other and said, "Hey there my brother. Hope you have a good night."
And it fucking floored me!
Here's this fellow who by all rights SHOULD be guarded and doesn't need to be wishing well some clearly healthy, warm, and "wealthy" stranger, yet without want for anything in return he says some of the best words I'd heard all day.
And it floored me.
And it brought me back home.
And it got me even deeper into the intention to stay open, to make eye contact.....to stop being bitter and resentful of my surroundings and some of the people I pass by every day.

Yeah, this city is a tough nut and in a lot of ways it can suck the life out of you. People can be cold as ice and there are WAY too many of them driving around being stupid and shitty. The weather can be grotesque and the transit is for the birds and it's also expensive to live in. It's a reality that sometimes feels like a brick to the face. I sometimes wonder why I still live here.
But of course obviously I have my good reasons.....a job that pays well enough, beloved lovers and friends, a sweet pad that I could be paying WAY more a month for....and the view.....good Christ that awful horrible view of the mountains and city skyline from my porch? GROSS! ;)

Truth be told, there are factors that keep me here for sure. At the end of the day, despite my being surly and hard shelled from time to time I am quite content in my life and really feel no pressing need to GTFO. I most definitely will within the next 5 years, that much is certain. But while I am still here and maintaining a somewhat clean and happy heart I will do everything I can to stay present, no matter what.

People will pass through your life constantly. Some will mean nothing and others will mean everything. You will ask people to date or even marry you, you will say hello to strangers, you will make a moment of fleeting eye contact with nobody in particular. You will have a really shitty day or a great one or something in between. 
Maybe you will even have a panic attack for the first time in your life and need to go home and curl up in a ball and cry for a while.
And that's fucking awesome!

Just remember, no matter how it all plays out....no matter what your circumstance.....remember that there are angels out there who are happy to hook and reel you back to reality like the grizzled world weary man who wished me well earlier tonight. 
I hope I did the same for him in my grateful and happy response.

They are everywhere. They are you, me, your pals, your enemies, the stranger you pass by on the street who you might choose to greet.....even if they don't give back.....they are everywhere. And the choosing to stay open is not only a gift to yourself, it is a gift to everything around you.

Unless they honk their car horns at you. Fuck those guys!

Much love comrades. Thank you always. All ways!

N


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Love Letter

                               

As we spend our last hours together surrounded by this silence and natural beauty my thoughts turn to the insurmountable love that I feel for you. These emotions speak volumes, far more complex than I could ever pen to paper, far deeper than the waters that slap against the rocks below my feet.
I came to you with an open heart and you received me without question, folding me into your arms and like warm fresh dough I submit to your kneading fingers.
With every breath I am shaped by you and with every passing moment I remember how much I need you as well.

You offer me solace and peace of mind. You demand that I slow my flow. You see to it that I accept the gifts you bestow upon me and you never want for anything in return but respect.
You speak to me in a thousand tongues, each repeating the mantra “Listen, breath, welcome back to yourself.”

And so I heed your sage wisdom. I bathe in the medicine that you so freely give. I throw myself against the threshing floor and allow myself to be stripped clean until I am standing before you, naked as the day I came tumbling into this world and as I shall exit as well.
You do all of this and more without lifting a finger, nay, you stand naked before me with bliss written all over your body, and as a student to his master I lay prostrate at your feet repeating the mantra “Thank you, thank you, thank you”

This divine love comes only when she beckons and I answer the call. The time in between our union is far too long but you never stand in judgement of my absence. Instead you embrace me as a parent would a child and you continue your teachings as if no time had come between us at all.
You never compare my failings to my triumphs as they are all the same to you. You never stop showing up when I lose my centre, in fact you only up your efforts to show me more. Standing naked before me as the day you came and naked you shall remain until the end of time.

I feel fear in leaving you again because this gentle roar in my ears will be replaced with the roar I sought to escape in the first place. I fear that the utter peace that courses through my veins will once again be sullied by the clutter of daily life. I fear that every waking second will no longer be a breathing in and out of you and that if I cast my mind away for a moment then I will be cast adrift and lose my way. But even as these fears invade this peace you are here to remind me that you will never leave my side, and even if I should fall into the darkest places you will be there to guide me home. Even as this dull ache creeps in at the thought of us parting ways you are here to remind me to “Listen, breathe, come back to yourself.” be it on the winds whispering, the high-end thrum of a hummingbird, or the gentle slop-plop of waves forever carving their initials into the rock beneath my feet. Your thousand languages and multitude of dialects forever carving their initials into my soul.

You have taught me profound and beautiful things in our time together, be they reminders held for life or simple life hacks that are beneficial only when we are together. You have provided a space in which to sink deeply into my spirit and an opportunity to connect deeply with my favourite human. You have welcomed us into your world, showing your magnificence with unashamed pride and have even brought your kin around to share in their own medicine.
I remain forever grateful to those who graced us with their fleeting presence and reminders of who truly rules the roost.

And as I sit on this man made deck, overlooking a world that some men could not make rhyme or reason of I feel longing. I miss you already and yet we have not parted. I want to continue to bask in the depths of your wisdom, to listen to your thousand voices, to stare in slack jawed wonder as one of your many children share their age old gifts by simply being, to reach into myself and practice patience in something as simple as building and maintaining a good fire, to keep this silence with me forever, to breath in the natural perfume you exude that shifts with the change in breeze, weather, or temperature.

I want to remain in your safe embrace and leave the cold harsh angular edges of city life behind forever.

But again you remind me that you have not and will not leave me. Your spirit remains entwined with mine, and among the thousand languages you speak and the multitude of dialects you shamelessly flaunt I hear one clear voice resonating like a glass bell, “Remember to always listen, breathe, and come back to yourself. That is where you will find me”

And I close my tear filled eyes, place a hand on my heart and respond, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, I love you!”

Yours,

Nathan


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

When there's nothing left to burn...

                                    

A lot can change in a few months time. I look back to my last post in April of this year and though it speaks highly of presence and paying attention to the finer details, behind the scenes was a tiny undercurrent of grasping at a happiness that was becoming more elusive, by and large. 
If I could have known what the following 6 months had in store I'd have drunk my own Kool-aid and taken a swift turn into necessary change. Not to say that I wish the last few months away nor do I wish anything had gone differently because it is what it is and I suppose I am much bigger for it, but at the same time I could have saved myself and those around me the expense.

By all appearances to the casual observer I'd been doing fine. I'd maintain a somewhat decent attitude, my humour was intact, I'd try to remain positive, and I probably looked relatively healthy. To those closer to me it probably wasn't as rosy around the edges. You'd see a pessimist and someone who was quick to anger at smaller matters. You'd see someone who had unceremoniously hung several talents up to dry and was fearful of trying new things or even believing in self to conceive of them in the first place. 
You'd see someone who was spinning their wheels in fear. 
You'd see a man who'd all but given up on growing up. 
You'd see a drunk increasingly losing their way.

And so it went, my living out a day to day, building an impenetrable wall between myself and God and letting my heart become thoroughly overgrown with brambles. Easy to miss from the outside because I'm good at hiding it, impossible to hide from on the inside. 

So I drank and let my being fall into darkness because it seemed much easier to dumb down. 

These are not easy things to take ownership of and they are even harder to openly admit. I have been down this path before and I have seen small fleeting victories along the way, but it always came back to the resentments and fears and lack of self worth which always led back to pouring on several litres of numbing agent, thus stalling any hope of healing for another day. Mornings spent dragging myself out of bed and going through the motions of daily routine, moving neither forward nor back, heaping layers of shame and oftentimes regret onto an already suffering state, sometimes faking smiles and an easy nature.....all the while tossing matches at a tinderbox that threatened to burn my life to the ground.

It's a really hard thing to admit to, and for months I steered clear of the responsibility, thinking that I had it under control and that it could always be so much worse. 

But then things started to get worse. The difficulties in my relationship, or at least in my ability to relate properly within my relationship grew worse. The blackout nights became more frequent. The social gatherings where I'd embarrass myself and/or my partner came more often. My fears and frustrations reared their ugly heads more than I was comfortable with. The mysterious injuries I didn't remember causing myself. The well known beating and robbery I sustained in June. The bike accident in September. The stupid horrible things I said to Britt and don't remember saying. The almost nightly drinking. The sabotaging of opportunities to live life and do something other than isolating and getting shit-hammered. 
The matches tossed onto a bone dry tinderbox......it's a wonder that I'm still here.

But, like I opened this dialogue with, a lot can change in a few months. 

I will spare the details of my personal bottoming out as it is personal and something that I am still wrestling with. All I can say is that on the night of October 3rd the tinderbox blew up and though my life didn't burn to the ground it most definitely gutted a corridor or two and stripped me bare. 

Scared sober and humbled far beyond my own broken ego I turned and walked away from an existence that was sure to ruin me. I got myself to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting pretty quick and made it my intention to give sobriety my full attention. I wasn't sure what I had hoped to get from an AA meeting, but it was helpful knowing that I had support in hearing other peoples stories and being reminded that I'm not alone in this crazy little drunky-drunk world.

In the weeks since I took my last drink I have been clearing away the brambles and breaking down the wall that I have built around my heart. I have been deepening my relationship with my spiritual practice and have been acknowledging gratitude daily. 
Waking up sober has been nothing short of inspiring. Sometimes it has even been wonderful. And sometimes it has even been scary as fuck.
My relationship with Britt has been mending well and though things have shifted between us, there is a growing balance and harmony that feels ultimately right and good. 
I don't expect the shit I've done as a lousy drunk to be forgotten and in fact I wouldn't want it forgotten as it serves a daily reminder of how not to truly live a life in full. 

My relationship with self has been mending as well and though things have shifted there is a balance growing and a peace that I haven't felt in a long time. I am grateful for waking up and remembering the night before. I am revelling in the gifts life is offering, be it a simple breeze, a meal bought for me, something said that brought me back to myself, and most importantly the simple contentment that i am cultivating and growing into by the day. 

Believe me, I don't want to be one of those annoyingly happy preachy people but I'm most certainly not going to shy away from exposing and expressing unabashedly. If that means that I meditate, go to an AA meeting every once in a while, develop a deeper relationship to the God of my choice, cry over music, go raw vegan, tell you that I love you, or laugh at your kids fart joke, then so be it. 
When the alternative is so dire I think it's pretty clear where my loyalty rests comfortably. 


None of this should really come as a surprise to anyone and I'm not saying any of it to shock or to claim that my story is more significant than anyone else's or whatever. I'm not playing victim or hero. I'm not laying claim to any answers and I'm not pondering any deep questions. I don't expect praise and I sure as hell don't want a door prize for my efforts. 
I'm just laying it out bare because that's what I do. It's what I've always done, even when I've been stuck in the mud and not seeing the forest for the trees. 

It's just what I do. It's all I know. 

And in this clear headed sober space I am reminded that it is all I've ever wanted, this life so divine and full of promising change. 

Love,

Friday, April 15, 2016

So I stopped, and I looked at the scenery



There is something to be said for presence.
The quiet cacophony of your surroundings can lend such profound stillness to the mind.

I open my balcony door and sit. 
And I listen.
I gaze wide eyed at everything around me yet I focus on nothing at all. And I am present.

The snow capped mountains in the distance with their juicy coating of sun fed marmalade glaze makes my heart swell but then my eyes catch the big city buildings just a stones throw away, the light bouncing off of them creates a weird beauty.....their magnificence is palpable. 
These cities we live in truly are the modern day wilderness, and I'm not saying that's comparable or preferable, but when you have the chance to sit back and really stare into the abyss, they really can be quite beautiful and awe-fully peaceful.

I have this view from my porch where I can safely feel nestled in a neighbourhood replete with children being children, beautiful wind chimes chiming, bbq's beckoning me to crash 'em, dozens of varied birds croo-caw-trilling, and adults adulting as they put their garbage out or yell to one another from their multi-unit east van dwellings about the cool thing they built or did that day.

It's a life and we're all in it together up here on the pleasant mount away from the city.

12th avenue is an asshole who only stops being an asshole for a couple of hours in the 24 hours we have available to us. Like an unruly 2 year old who will never stop being an unruly 2 year old animal, this street never stops moving. Usually it's the din of traffic between 5:30am-3am that is the constant soundtrack, with guest appearances from the multiple ambulances, the odd car that skips a curb, spreading hard plastic bumper shit all over the place, and every once in a while there's a racoon fight or some other such animal getting their ass kicked by a speeding vehicle.

Side note; Last night I was fascinated by the guy who parked his vehicle in the middle of 12th to puke out of his window for nearly 10 minutes. He was loud. He was in a bad way. He was in a Lexus. And I was amazed that it was only 11:30pm and there was no traffic, as though the waters had opened up for this wealthy feller to do his business, wipe his chin, and then move on.

Indeed, this is an interesting neighbourhood to live in.

That said, it ain't my former Franklin street home with its constant industrial white noise, prostitutes and johns strolling by, wafts of dead chicken smell from the factory down the road, screaming junk hungry junkies, or delivery trucks loading at 4am.

But it has its perks.

To be honest, I feel very fortunate to be here.

I'm sitting at my computer and in my right ear is the 12th ave party that rarely stops, but underneath my feet in the apartment below is a girl who I love immensely, who encourages me to be who I want to be and who loves me even when I act like a poop and get caught up in the never ending cycle of head traffic.
Behind me is a water filled glass home where 3 fish live, and they teach me every day to keep being vibrant, to keep swimming, and to be excited just because.
To my left are the mountains. And the richly dense culture of humans living in my vicinity. And a crappy apple giving tree in our yard that is currently displaying beautiful blossoms, as it does every year. And wind chimes. And the gigantic sentient tree across the way that I swoon over every time I gaze upon her.

So.....maybe life dealt a knuckleball or 3. Maybe you have the flu. Perhaps you're paying too much rent and just lost your job. You might be a new and unwilling parent and your jerky kid is pissing you off. You might be in a tumultuous relationship that has to end but you can't do it because you're too fucked up to deal or too needy to know how to. 
Or maybe you're just mad at everything, sometimes.

Yeah....me too, sometimes. That's life.

Shit can be tough.
Personally, I hate working. I hate the time work eats up because I'd rather be digesting the present moment and investing in the things that make my soul sing, all the time.

Obviously I'd rather be looking at pretty trees, writing words, gaming, sleeping until 10am, and punching in to work for the minimum allotted hours humanly available. 
But that's not my life at this very moment, and while I'm getting all lost in the fact that this isn't my existence, I'm losing precious time not giving presence to punching in and paying attention to the good details. 

Indeed, there really is something to be said for presence.

And I don't want to lose any more time.....



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Breaking open the seal


With a touch of hesitation in my step I approach this keyboard, nervous as though I’m on a blind date or seeing an old friend for the first time in years. There is fear in my throat even as I type out these first few words because it feels as if I’ve been encased in stone and I’m not sure if I still have it in me to spin words the way I remember doing so long ago.
There is rust in these knuckles and my fingertips have gone soft. Each breath carries with it a bit of self-judgment. The passing moments present themselves as opportunities to slip my foot just a little further out the doorway of procrastination and excuses.
And so I steady myself, swallow the fear, let go of expectations, and allow vulnerability to be my strength.
I mean, after all it’s not as if I have some epic novel to write here.
So yeah, it’s been a while. It’s been far too long, actually. I’m not exactly sure what happened except that I just up and closed the lid on this book of thoughts…..hmm….actually that’s a lie. I know exactly what happened. I shut down. Life got really fucking strange and I shut down, emotionally and in some ways physically. As life was going pear shaped I was finding ways to distract myself, mostly self-destructive and not at all in keeping up presence with what was going on in my heart. I barely spoke out about it and instead chose to drown in bad decisions, alcohol, and pointless Youtube spirals.
It’s a funny thing that we fool ourselves into thinking that we can run from our suffering because in truth we can never really escape it. In fact running only heaps more on the already festering pile and even though this bag of stones strapped to your shoulders may create the illusion that you can carry the weight, you are only breaking your own back.
Getting wise to your own shit can be a bitter pill to swallow and lately I’ve been eating those pills by the fistful.
This is partially why I return to this medium of expression, because I don’t want to hide anymore. I’ve got nothing to gain from carrying excess weight and everything to gain from shedding it onto the threshing floor.
So I've been shedding, and I've been noticing lately that these pills have been tasting less bitter and positive changes are becoming much easier. My heart is becoming free of dead weight and miraculously my back is much stronger for it. Instead of hiding I am poking my head out and testing the air, shrugging off my armour in favour of bare skin.
Indeed it has been far too long. The past year and a half has been a series of trials, ripe with triumph and trip-ups. I have loved, lost, lived, and gained. None of it has been easy, but all of it has been exactly what I’ve needed and I honestly wouldn’t change a thing if I could. But what I can change now, and what I will continue to change until my dying breath is my mind when It wants to retreat into that comfy yet oh so stale hiding place. 
And as I write these words, as the fear leaves my throat and as I take my foot from the door and plant it firmly in presence I remember what it is like to be alive. As each day passes and I become stronger in my body, more whole in my heart, and more expressive in my speech, I remember what it is like to be free. As I embrace this freedom like an old friend I thought I’d lost long ago I remember who I am and what I am here for.

And I hold that old friend more tightly than ever before, whispering in their ear....
“Thank you, I love you!”

~ N

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Something sacred, something shared

This is the most beautiful and profound place on earth right now.
There is nowhere I'd rather be and nobody I'd rather be sharing it with.
It is the perfect place to retreat from the world and connect to my inner world with my perfect partner.

I look across the grey green water and all I see is rustic beauty. Water, trees, a few tucked away remote island cabins, and juts of rock that serve as beacons for passing boats. This place has an untouched sacredness to it. 
The world that surrounds reminds me to slow down.

No striving.

I haven't heard bus brakes sounding off, relentless horns blaring, or constant traffic for nearly 5 days. 
I haven't been met with a nasty downcast glare in almost a week.
I have only felt the light and energy of the earth.
I have only heard the plop and hiss of waves carving out their age old initials into rock.
I have heard only silence and the whole world whispering to me, carving out age old initials into my being.

I yearn for silence. I yearn for peace. I yearn for balance in my surroundings.
I crave the space that allows me to think, and to not think at all.

There are so many birds here. SO many birds of a different feather that it's hard to keep track.
An eagle lives nearby and on the occasions that she has gifted me with her presence I have been struck dumb by the majesty of her flight. She is larger than any bird I have seen before and is way more focused than most humans.
There is a hawk as well, or maybe two or three. They do flybys each morning and dusk, searching for or bringing back a meal to their roost.
They are living on natures take-out, only this ain't no Dairy Queen.

At one point we hear these sounds that are like carnal mating calls. Gruff and nasty low timbre yelps that could only come from a species without ego or hangups, carried across the still waters, us listening with ears pricked like peeping toms on the other side of an echo. We could hear them working their way up towards us for at least an hour before seeing them. At one point I "expertly" decided that it was a bird....I even said to Britt, "I bet that's the sound of birds mating!" like a city boy who thinks he knows something, but apparently I know so little.
The sounds got louder until it was revealed right under our faces, a couple of otters mating. Hard. Core. Mating! A mess of oily slick bodies entwined and twirling around one another, her making playful noises that sounded like laughing, him biting at her neck with front paws wrapped tightly around her. It was a private dance that we'd been invited to by chance and a little bit of luck.

At a glance I look out of the kitchen-nook window and see several species of trees and wildflowers.
Outside I notice that pollen from these wildflowers covers every available space within minutes. It is like a gritty yellow dust. To some it could be annoying and irritating to the allergies but to me it is fascinating.
Right then and there I decide that the many bee's and wasps flying about are a direct result of this abundance of pollen-rich air.
I imagine the little fellers flying around, huffing the air and getting totally fucked up on pollen.

You tend to notice the little things when you're present.
Every scrape of every leaf is profound.
The thrum of hummingbird wings is transcendent.
The wash of colors all around, hand in hand and supporting each other in perfect unison. 
Watching the loons diving underwater for lunch and then resurfacing a minute later, 30 feet away.
The bee's that look like they've just gotten out of bed, antenna askew and bee fur matted, but they are elated in this early Spring splendour, smacking into the glass that surrounds our porch over and over again until finally they get pissed and fly upwards and away.

The leaves turning in wind. The smell of fresh rain. The water flowing, endlessly etching out change.

These may be small simple things, but right now they are among the most important for me.
They remind me of what I crave.....

There are no car horns, sirens, or overpriced bus stops here.
People smile and say hello and take care of you where and when they can.

Not to paint a utopian ideal or wear rose coloured glasses indoors, but I see this kind of place for what it is and could be for me. Present, untouched, silent (save for otters fucking) sacred, filling to the heart.

It is difficult to imagine any of these things whilst living in the city, but I know they can exist. It takes some work and envisioning, but they can exist. And until I am in a land of water, forests, wild animals, and quiet, I will do all that I can to get to the heart of it, no matter where I am.

And for now I will remember this most beautiful and profound place on earth.

Thank you.....





Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New things, new times.


6 days. 6 days!
In 6 days I finally get to hold my lover, rub her messy haired head, and kiss her face! It's real, and I am so eternally grateful for this past few months.
Cheers to change, shifts, intention, decisions, and the faith of a mustard seed.

Thank you, I love you!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Moving, Shaking, Stirring, Whirring!

I sit amongst packed boxes in a room that is becoming less of my space and more of a shell to fill for another. I see my roomie and good friend Shawn Luco off for the last time as a room-mate and I think of the things that will be a series of final acts before I leave this house I have made my home for the past 12 years, and the weight sits heavily in my heart.
This is no flighty prance from one place to another. This is a major shift in reality.
I sort through years of collected possessions and pieces of history, papers, trinkets, and relics worn brittle and dusty with age. Part of me wonders why in the hell I keep all of this crap while part of me is mourning long-held memories…..love notes from girlfriends, bad pictures I thought were cool at the time, beer coasters from a great night out in another country, foreign coins, horrible hand written drunken diatribes, broken promises on the backs of notepads, power plugs twisted beyond use, years of collected published writing the world will never see again. It’s crazy the things we keep! They are the things we pretend that make us more “us” but when you really look at them they are just dusty old fossils that make us sneeze and perhaps a bit annoyed because they’ve been taking up so much space for so long and no longer have a place except in memory.
Some would say that I am an extremist in how few possessions I actually have and I suppose that is true, especially as I grow older and more aware of what is important for me. But still, this mess has proven difficult to go through, and maybe it’s because of 12 years spent sitting and collecting. Apart from the great books, albums, and clothing I still wear……who needs a play-dough happy face crafted by a kid I lived with over 16 years ago, aside from some shred of my ego that still wants to hold on to the past?
Memories will last for a lifetime or until I’m an old grey shell drooling into a paper cup and pooping in my adult diapers.
But believe me, while I have made residence here at 1802 Franklin the memories collected have been the richest I have experienced so far, and none of them carry dust or are in need of being filed away in a box for Value Village.

The beginning was a breeze with some road bumps. The couple, Christine and Brett who lived upstairs were reclusive gems who I grew to adore and were the first complete strangers who I actually felt comfortable with under a shared roof, as little as I got to know them. Frustration came with the hip-hop guy Dov, who lived across the hall from me and would shuffle around with his McDonalds food and shitty girlfriend in tow, later leaving his McDonalds trash on the table and a listless feeling all around. Before him was Neale the graffiti artist who’d make his living taking odd jobs while disappearing for weeks on end making spray can art across the country, only to appear near rent day to pay up and then disappear again for a few more weeks.
And then there was Ben. Sweet Ben-jammin, who was in a hip-hop crew with Dov and a few others. Ben was my favorite back in the beginning because even though he was a na├»ve young kid, he had big ideas and a big heart. I will never forget the day he phoned the house on the afternoon of September 11, 2001 and told me that he thought it was the Chinese who did it. I thought he was a jerk for suggesting that but to this day I’ll never forget his scared self just needing to talk to someone, however misguided he may have been.
Later on the house shifted into what became a home. After a month on my own I awaited new strangers who would fill this space, and fill it they did. Out of nowhere these three strong-willed, earth centered women came in and gave this house a light it hadn’t seen in years. Elise, Susanna, and Anastasia are given full credit for truly planting the seeds for what this place is now. I lived in a run down and grey looking space that I kept clean for a month and then they moved in and ran with it, painted happy hippy colors all over the place and started something even more beautiful.

There was Elise with her biking everywhere, low impact pre-hipster ways, Sue and her down to earth, digging in the ground garden ways, and Anastasia with her light heart, easy laugh, and big beautiful face….those ladies and a wild German Sheppard with gay hippy neck beads made this house a home. However much I was resistant to shifting I will forever be grateful for their modes of change and for pulling me out of my shell, even if for a little bit at a time.
Then came Sean, who was an odd character that I have yet to fully understand completely. He took over the room across from me, and was the always moving kinetic fellow who delivered piss samples to science labs and biked all over the place. He was the guy who was destined to do really good things in life and to this day I am amazed that not only he is still here, he has done amazing things in life, namely building a lot of shit I could never wrap my head around even if I tried as well as making a good living with a great partner in crime. Come end times and if I were to choose who to survive with, Clancy is the man!
And lets give a good long moment to Timothy Wisdom. I won’t take credit from anyone else here past or present but Tim is HUGE in this home. Tim the DJ, the scientist, the mathematical equinox, has brought SO very much to this space! I would have never experienced a true party had it not been for him. The music that he laid out on the table and the friends he brought to dance, celebrate, and lay down their weary head between these 4 walls is the stuff of legend. In fact, words don’t even give it legs. If you were near to here during that 5-7 year stretch then you know. All I can say is that if you grew up watching those 80’s movies where the house party is wall to wall deep with people and the music is loud, then you have just a tiny idea, only our parties were WAY sexier and really did go until the break of dawn.
From that party stage came Lucia, who dated Timothy and later married him for a brief spell. Lucia was a wonderful grounding force, a source of much folly, and the bringer of my favorite cat in the world, Tiga. Some of my most blessed moments were hearing Lucia laughing in the kitchen as well as sharing summer picnic table hang-outs with the captain chicken-heart kitty. I miss them both a lot.
And here we come to modern days, where the breed who live under this roof have been solid for years. Clancy’s partner Erica, who gardens, bakes, and can always be found with an easy laugh and dirt on her knees or under her nails. Or Martine, who flows like water and has the cutest giggle I’ve ever heard. I love her rock collecting, sage burning, blossoming spirit! Or Luco, who can throw a mean disk, grill a good BBQ, and has brought an awesome assortment of new friends to the mix.
These people. I love them all so SO much. I love how they challenge me and help me to grow. I love how they make me want to retreat and come out of my shell at the same time. I love their friends and their lives. I love how they have accepted me and my fucked up, non-committal, comedic, raunchy joke laden, just passing through lifestyle.
I love how I can come home and count on Erica to be making or baking or garden-growing a spread of food. I love how I can come home and find Clancy fixing or building or tinkering with something. I love how I can rely on a good laugh with Tim when we’re feeling up to conversing and hanging out. I love how much Luco and I love each other. I love how his sweet partner Martine brings stability and good nature to this old woody dusty home.
I love them. I love this space. I love my extended family. And I will miss them terribly.

The crippling nature of this shift is becoming more real by the day and in many ways I just want to put all of my shit back in place and close my door, but I know it’s time.

As hard as it may be, I know it is time.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all, past and present.

I love you. Always!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

In this moment of this breath


I can see lots of flowery type things from my window right now.
I can see a crow stalking up the sidewalk and then across the road. It searches for scraps, bugs or whatever and then it takes flight. Guy on a mini motorbike drives by. A fly buzzes in my bedroom window. A kid and dad on bikes pass by. The sun is in my eyes.
A junky cackles away somewhere up the road. Seagulls go nuts over yonder for fish bits from the docks. A mom and daughter on bikes pass by, possibly related to the son and Dad on bikes from a minute ago. My roommates chatter. The sun is in my eyes.
An angry hooker with crossed arms walks by. A fly buzzes. Grass and flowers and life are outside my window.

There are still lots of cars driving past, looking for some kind of emotional soother. But not as many as i remember from my early days here over ten years ago.

A seagull with a puffed up chest proudly struts across the road in search for scraps. Plays it cool when it doesn't find any.

Bikes. Lots more bikes, and not of the stolen street working variety. More like the now united biking family who just rode by again or the few hip folk and commuters I often see riding past most days.

But still, there is this street level and its little demons and slaves who work openly right out in front of my bedroom window. The grizzled old hard livers still stumble down the sidewalk and the packs of jet fueled punker kids still holler 'fuck' into the night.

The sun is in my eyes. The sky is gorgeous.

That tree in our front yard is pretty rad. It could be healthier but look what it has to work with; chicken factories, junkies, hookers, discarded debris, people passing out against it, air soot. Noise.
A swinging arm as he walks Italian-looking guy strides up the road, chattering loudly into his cell phone. Business deals, probably.
Car alarms go off, traffic rolls by, and a Bob Dylan tune rings in the other part of the house where some roommates and company hang out.

The sun is hidden behind a bank of clouds now, but the mountains are pretty awesome.
A smoking guy in a cowboy hat who can probably walk speeds past on a mobility scooter.
The big red cargo cranes at the dock are a stark contrast to the mountains, but the mountains are beautiful.
Two hot women on bikes fly by.
The sun is no longer in my eyes and warming my face, but from my window I can count six wild growing flowers and another five human planted.
It's getting darker now and the clouds look like bluey mottled puffballs. Ski run lights on the mountain give a lonely glimmer.
A guy in sandals stops to admire the flowers, or maybe he's tripping out.

This is my home, my view, my moment, and I am grateful.
N

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Confessions from the alter of a city dweller

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 Attention human beings, if you’re in a supermarket perusing the cut flower section and some old feller comes up to you and makes small talk about how beautiful the flowers are, capping off his apparently one sided conversation with, “You can smell them from here….it doesn’t matter how old you are, the smell of flowers makes you feel good inside. Deep inside your body.” I ask you to please give them your presence, if even for a moment of your time.
Maybe you'd even best stop and pay attention for more than a fleeting second or two. Give him or her a bit of your time because those old fellers may have wisdom that extends far beyond your silly guarded city walls, and who knows, perhaps giving a moment of recognition to that old withered soul saying simple profound things may make their last days on earth less lonely, and your moment more worthy.
I’m not saying that you should take every needy and probably mentally defunct person out to lunch. You don’t have to invite them into your house and have a PJ sleepover ending with a handful of quarters and a slap on the ass out the door….but for God’s sake, we’re not living in a country that stifles emotion. We're so lucky that we live in a place that allows for basic human recognition, so why not utilize it instead of working within our socially bereft forms of non-communication?
Instead of being a silly awkward gorky teen-adult, try looking that person square in the eyes and saying quite simply, "Yeah, I hear you!" if you're shy. Or maybe even thanking them for their wisdom, if you're bold enough. Maybe even grabbing them by the hand or place a hand on their shoulder to acknowledge them instead of pretending that their voice is a distant fart in the aisle next over that is easily ignored. Because no matter how grizzled and “gross” that human may appear to you, they ARE you! They share your air, they share your thoughts (no matter how old world they may be), and they share your fears and neurotic fantasies. 

One day YOU will be that crazy old fucker in the produce department, making random 'in need of human contact' comments to strangers, and won't it feel totally barren and lonely when that shitty snob guarded person ignores you?
I took a walk around my city this evening and my most magical moments came when I looked at the sky and saw darkened rain clouds with birds soaring across without a care. And the deep intake breath of fresh sea to city air. And my peace with every step. And the overheard one-sided conversations that I'd wished I could have played out differently had I been in the other persons sneakers.  
Everything else was heads cast downward, guarded eye contact, and manic text conversations.

Christ, some fruit looped old gal even clutched her purse to her chest as I walked by, because we live in a neighborhood where the last three dollars to your name might not be safe, no matter how young, old, or retarded you are. She'd have probably died of a heart attack had I asked her for directions.
This is the world we live in.
And unless you’re on some island living an idyllic life where everyone knows your name, this guarded city life is the reality of things, lest you have your eyes wide open. 
Our walls are way up, and we’ve lost sight of of what’s important, such as wisdom, experience, storytelling, touch, love…..LOVE! It hurts me to think that some of us will cast aside a human who has decades of experience on us, just because our stupid ego tells us that we “should” feel uncomfortable at another person randomly talking to us and their "unattractive" qualities.
It hurts. And it brings a white hot ball of emotion to the throat.
 But I have hope. I really do. And I'll never stop.
Just some things to think about.....
Thank you. I love you.
N

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Adventures of a part time insomniac

Midnight, the sleepy starts to settle in and the words on the page of my book are beginning to bleed into one another, signalling that it's time to call it a night. I'm glad for this because the night before was a bit restless and my addled brain needs some healing. "This is gonna be good" I tell myself as i pull the plug on the string of lights that surround the room of my lovers apartment. "Tomorrow I'm going to be wide awake, alert, and excited about getting some good work done."
I love sleep. I love the mystery of dreaming and telling my lady about the weird places I went to during that 6-8 hours of alpha-state. I love waking next to her and falling in love all over again, feeling happy that my body and mind are refreshed and all is right with the world. 
"This is gonna be good" I tell myself as i lay next to my love, placing one hand over my heart and one on my belly, beginning the process of slowing my breathing, giving thanks, and cycling through my day before submitting to rest.

1AM: Something isn't quite right. I'm relaxed and should easily be drifting but the second I make the conscious decision to give myself up to sleep I am suddenly wide awake, feeling as though I'd recently popped an E-pill, but minus the touchy feeling love and need to dance. Well, that's odd, however I can be a bit of a night owl at times so maybe I just need to keep breathing and think of rolling hills and naked maidens splashing around in waterfalls.

2:15AM: Well, here I am still awake. Starting to over-think and toss away hope that tomorrow will be awesome. Although I have dealt with 5 hours of sleep before and I've done alright on even less, so it's not a huge deal. But I'd really enjoy passing out. 
The waves of exhaustion tell me that it could be close, but the fireworks going off behind my eyes tell me differently. I'm a fan of light shows but this Pink Floyd laser show crap can take a hike.

3:00AM: Hi, I'm wide awake and starting to get pissed. I get up and have a wander around the small apartment, taking myself through a few rounds of Surya Namaskar in the kitchen because I know that to be calming to the mind and it's proven helpful at times like this. After a short meditation and a piss I crawl back into bed and hope for the best.

4:30AM: Eyes burning, mind racing, delirium beginning to pry rational thought and frustration apart. I'm thinking strange thoughts such as what it would be like if man survived on dirt alone and if the dirt was enriched with nutrients, could man maintain some semblance of health. I shake my thoughts clear and listen to the sounds of my lover sleeping beside me. It is oddly soothing and i prop myself up to have a look at her. In the shadowed wilderness of bed covers and pillows I can see her clearly and she is beautiful. Always. My love for her is vast and even though I am frustrated at this lack of sleeping situation, I take heart that she is here, safe, and riding on some dreamy cloud. 
Also, I have noticed that the constant din of traffic on 12th avenue does in fact let up for very brief periods of time, but only for about half an hour and then it's constant again.
I drift off for the briefest moment until my body decides it's time to have an allergic reaction to something. This continues for a while.

5:30AM: Oh, thank Christ I have the chorus to "Enid" by Barenaked Ladies running through my head over and over again. I fuckin' hate that song even more now and I wonder if it's possible to sue Steven Page for inadvertent cruel and unusual punishment. Probably not. Maybe in America? Hmmm. I wonder what Honey BooBoo is doing right now?! Did Jesus get mad when he couldn't sleep? I bet my third grade teacher Ms. Halfknights still looks pretty good for an old gal. I miss my first puppy, Bandit. I'd probably be a sexy broad. I shouldn't have eaten those nachos at 10:30. What if i realized that I'm gay, who would i come out to first? "Enid we never really knew each other anyway" 
OH GOD!!!!! WHY??

6:30-8:00AM: Somewhere in between these hours my crazed brain finally releases and I pass out for a sweat drenched fitful sleep. More of a nap at this point. In this period of time I dream of wandering through various rooms of a house in the middle of the night, unable to sleep. Great. Thanks mind. That's rich.

The alarm cuts through my long awaited and short lived nap. My eyeballs feel like hot coals in snow and my emotional state is fragile. I want to cry and if I could remove my brain and thrash it until it's a bloody mess, i would with glee. My lady turns over and our eyes meet. She's still there and she loves me so. I feel like raw tuna but my heart grows three sizes and I muster the strength to shower her with kisses. 
It's really not so bad. I've been here before and truth be told I've gone through much much worse. It sucks but life goes on. Exhaustion can just mean that your day is slightly altered and you have an excuse to take it easy. You can't change what already is and so you can only make the best of it. 
When you're in the throes of insomnia it can feel like the loneliest place in the world and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I've had periods where I've slept maybe eight hours in a seven day stretch. You learn a lot about the frailty of the mind when you haven't been able to refresh it for days. I am thankful those days are behind me and I am thankful that on the now rare occasion when this happens that I am able to handle it with at least a little bit of grace instead of losing my shit completely.

It is six in the evening and I am tired as hell, but I have my health, happiness, love, and the ability to laugh at it all. "Enid" is but a humorous afterthought and in a few hours I will most definitely pass out. Tomorrow is a new day.
One night of no sleep ain't worth tossing out the good stuff.

Love,
N

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Great Slumber


 My God! Stepping into these corridors again is like revisiting an old dusty book found in the attic of my parents townhouse crawlspace. The pages are browned with age and smell slightly of mildew, the spine is ready to crumble and i was nearly ready to give it up to the landfill, or at least place it back up in that crawlspace where time would continue to have its way. "Maybe it's best to just burn the whole damned house down," I said to myself, "Maybe I'll just secretly throw away the baby and nobody will notice the missing stale bathwater." I reasoned. 
 However, much like that scab you can't stop picking, or much like the accident you can't turn away from, or much like the drug you can't fully turn your back on.....i kept looking. Guilt and shame would cloud me and i would put it away with the faint promise that "one day" I'll get down to the act of mending, never fully committing, never really meaning it, always forgetting. Conveniently.

Conveniently I always found other things to occupy my time, making excuses for my lack of attention, finding reasons not to try. Or simply clouding myself over past the point. 
Because who wants to try when they're stoned or hung over or rushing out the door or working on a host of other projects? Who can try when love simply isn't present? Who can offer anything worthy when self worth isn't being offered to oneself?
I know I can't. And so i didn't.

But I am done with that stinky thinking. I am done with the guilt and shame spiral. I am done with clouds of doubt and the negative influences that create them in the first place.
I am through. Emerging. Coming out the other side, born anew.

I come to you today with a song on my lips and peace on my tongue. These are not the words of self actualized hippy all-goodness, in fact i have actualized nothing. I have simply emerged, casting off my self-tempered chains. Running instead of crawling, climbing with strength instead of clawing in fear. Smiling when i wobble, laughing when i fall.

This path, this life has shown me everything. Along the way i have learned many a thing. In the end I know nothing.
This path, this life is full of surprise beginnings, middles and all things in between. While we think our vessel is filling, we are actually being tossed against the floor of threshing, separating and preparing us for our surprise empty handed ending.
And empty handed we go. Arms outstretched, mind released, chains free. Holding onto nothing.

I come to you today having crawled over coals and through fire, having died a thousand tiny deaths and about to die a thousand more. Though I have not lived the life of a rich man or a particularly holy one, I can safely say that I have tried to live well, and I will continue to live well for as long as my ticket is valid. I will shed every bit of chaff and I will bear every ounce of my being.....for there is no time left for excuses. There is no time left for clouds of doubt. There is no time left for stories tumbling from a fumbling parched tongue.

I am here. I am free. And I am empty.
In this place I have everything to give.
This i promise, today and always. In All Ways.

Thank you, I love you!
N

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hello chums!

 Here's something different.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9QXY80OxS0

I've seen this a few times over the past several years and each time my experience has been a little different. At this point in my life, though i don't condone or "respect" whatever Charley Manson did and instigated in other people, I can still respect his full on awareness of what he thought he was doing.

In this clip i see a crazy dirty old man, but i also see presence and a truth told.

It amazes me to think of the different spectrum's our power can touch. Truth is truth, no matter how fucked up. But when told so blatantly you can't help but notice.
We are nobody. But we're nobody with so much power to make a name for ourselves and a difference in each other and i think that is amazing. 

We're all teachers after all. Even famous dirty old hippies.

Gosh love you all.
N



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Some thoughts

 Sometimes I believe that if there is a God then it is a paranoid schizophrenic drug abusing bag lady who lives under a bridge, wearing a shoebox on each foot and lording over an imaginary button collection kept inside a jelly jar. This scenario makes about as much sense as the existence of an all encompassing being who makes up the rules as it sees fit, sometimes painting a tapestry with splashes of happy yellow and hope only to cover it up with nine layers of shit. 

Now, I'm not an atheist. Never was one. I am a creature of hope and faith. I believe in....something...but I'm not too sure what it is anymore, if i really ever did know. Never one to subscribe to popular belief or whatever the good book tells me on any given day, I have spent most of my inquiring life remaining open to all possibilities, turning over the ideas that stick and dismissing the ones that don't. What I have learned so far is that if there is a "God" then it is just another fuck up like the rest of us. Part and parcel, as they say. Made in the likeness and image of us. If that is so then there is really nothing to worship but ourselves and that any surrendering ought to be done only for our own and our fellow man's benefit, not to please some fickle ideology with a cruel sense of humor. 


 My belief is that we are the God. My belief is that we have the miracle within us but since the beginning of time our faith has become weakened as a result of the many tragedies both personal and worldwide that have befallen our human race. Humanity has taken a beating and in our defense we have built up desperate walls of survival in the form of fear, and fear will sap the God from even the strongest man.

 But as we've all seen, the spirit is tough as nails and can survive even the harshest of conditions and It is my belief that this has to do with love. It may be a tiny spark or it may be a raging volcano, but we have it within us and it is our choice alone whether to act on it. Our miracles, our faith, our ability to move mountains and destroy nations is all a matter of choice. Not God. At least not any sort of God I'd like to be acquainted with. 

 And who is this God anyway? Who is this supposed temperamental fuck who toys with its creations like a kid with his G.I Joes? What is this 'all loving being' who apparently has the power to create yet blindly allows innocents to be destroyed and then later is given a get out of jail free card because he "works in mysterious ways"? It's nonsense. That's what i think. It's a fairy tale we frightened humans are writing as we go, and it is dangerous in its sway over the frail irresponsible mind. In fact, this fictional character more resembles the Satan figure we've chosen to give personality to and the fact that there are so many persuasive people out there who hold the 'all-good unless you fuck up' idea over their followers heads, I'm surprised that we haven't crashed and burned into a firey fearful mess a long time ago. Then again, maybe we have and we're all just walking through fire and happenstance.


 But yet we keep on. Because we have to believe in and give excuse for something. As long as we don't have to do the work ourselves. As long as we don't have to answer for our lack of belief in ourselves. As long as someone or something else tells us how it is and why things happen as they do.

 As I've gotten older and experienced more I have grown to understand that things just happen, good and bad, and that it has everything to do with us and not a mysteriously moving trickster in the sky. This is not to say that there are no forces at hand and that results are simply a dice roll of chance. I think there are very powerful forces at work but i believe that we are steering this ship and that the more we can understand the controls the more favorable our lives will be. In understanding the controls I am speaking of fully utilizing the energy that surrounds us. I am speaking of allowing ourselves complete control and belief in our ability to create and NOT in trusting an outside, unseen and unreliable fluffy bedtime story. 

 The power remains within us. If you think fearful thoughts you'll see a fearful world. If you hold thoughts of love you'll see a loving world, or in the worst case, you'll see a world where things happen that aren't always awesome but you'll always know that you're at choice in how it affects your will.

 For me, and for now, I see that it is about will. And yes it's about faith, but faith in my own stuff. It is about doing the work and not backing down. It is about holding on to my power and not giving it up for even a second. It is about not being lazy and sitting back in wait for results. It is about taking the "bad" and working within it. It is about taking the "good" and knowing that there is a whole lot more where that came from. 
 It is about dropping the idea that life is happening to us and taking hold of the very real possibility that it is actually us that is happening to life, and that if we don't wake up and take our power back then we are simply the ones smearing nine layers of shit on the happy and hopeful yellow tapestry. 

So it is my wish for you and myself to look within and not without. It's all there in our heart and fingertips and there isn't anything anyone can do to take it from us. No matter what, no matter how hard it looks, happiness is still a choice.

At least, that is my belief. For now.
N