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

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The world is sick


                                                    

I watch recently released video footage of this James Holmes kid sitting in court, 24 years old and his life is over, just like many others of his kind. I look at other recently released video of him when he was 18 and in school, this brilliant and shy science weirdo with a bright future ahead of him and i wonder what the hell happened. There is talk that his later academic ventures were a bit of a crash and burn and i wonder if that was part of a greater breaking point for him. 
We live in a world where our first world problems are stress, ridiculous amounts of work and striving to be the best you can be as long as it's better than the next person. And for a person who is already mentally ill, painfully shy and trying to do your best, failure can be the worst thing ever. Failure can be the deadly sin that makes you snap out and kill 12 people.

I don't for a second condone violent behavior and I would hope that James gets the help and justice that he needs. I hope for all of those affected and crushed by his unspeakable act that he sits for a very long time in silence and grows to understand and know the pain that his actions have caused. 
But i can't help but feel profoundly sad for him......not because he is now due to spend the rest of his life in jail, if he even makes it past a few years from now.
I'm sure there are many who'd revel in his suffering and eventual gory death.....and maybe this is why it makes me sad. Because, here's a kid who had an undiagnosed fucked up thing in his head that exploded because something in his life went wrong. Here is a kid who slipped under the stupidly large cracks of our first world society and did something totally mind numbing and now those involved, in hindsight, are saying "Oh yeah, that thing he said or did WAS kind of weird, now that i think about it". 

Dude bought fucking guns from his local Safeway and "buckets" of ammunition off the internet. Dude was a science geek who knew how to rig explosives to blow people apart. Dude walked into a theater in riot gear set to wage war. Dude was so out of his head that he thought he was a villain from Gotham city or some shit. And clearly, dude had nobody around him to see that there was something seriously wrong and that he needed some help. 

I watch recently released video of this James Holmes kid and i see someone who has been, and allowed themselves to be, lost in the shuffle of life. 
But maybe this is just how life is nowadays....
I observe this 24 year old kid and i see a messed up being who hasn't slept for a few days, who is scared, humbled into the cold dirt and who has probably lived with an undiagnosed form of schizophrenia for most of his life....and i just feel so damned sad. For the 12 lives snuffed out that night. For the 70 injured. For the countless others directly and indirectly rocked by this stupid and senseless act. And for James, this wild eyed mentally ill idiot boy who let his world spiral out of control and away from him. 

Believe me, i don't condone his actions at all. In fact, i am sickened by them. But in the same breath i am also sickened over the fact that we live in a world with too many people, too many pressures, too many hang-ups, too many drugs and too much striving to be awesome, and for some, seemingly not enough room to be a failure. 

Maybe I'm being naive. 

Maybe it's uneducated to think that with a little love and nurturing we'd all be ok, but maybe this is the world i also choose or eventually hope to live in. 
I've seen enough to know that help is out there, but I've also seen enough to know that it is easy to go along unnoticed. And maybe that is what is so scary and sad to me, that some of us are one shitty day away from snapping out and doing something horrible to ourselves or to others. 

I wish that i didn't have to hear about these things.
I wish that I had more insight and knowledge to understand.
I wish that i didn't feel so damned much. For them, for him, for all of us....

I wish for all of those who know how to love themselves to keep loving themselves and to provide shelter for those who don't know any better. 
I wish for all of those who don't know any better to have people around who know how to help them.

Please rest easy crazy people and sane alike. We're all in the same boat and can only hope that there is someone who will guide us through our darkest days and beyond.

Much love and peace.
N


Friday, July 20, 2012

In every town and village



 As you walk on to the property of the Sri Radha Madana Mohan temple the first thing you notice is the building itself. The structure has seen better days and for the past few years it has carried the appearance of always being in mid-repair. But she is still a sweet sight with her beehive like shafts (Sikhara) extending out from the roof and the towering statue of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu quite literally lording over the back yard. Yes this is another world, especially when coming from the bustle of the city. Here there are no suits or stressed out furrowed brows. Here you’ll find humble monks in white or saffron robes, Indian families dressed in their Sundays best and guests from all walks of life.

 If you’re not immediately transported to another dimension by walking onto the property the constant ring of kartals (small cymbals held between the fingers) and mridanga drums filling the temple room inside might do the trick. This isn’t your typical Sunday church service. This is the Sunday love feast held every weekend at the Hare Krishna temple in Burnaby and even if you have an allergic reaction to religious dogma it’s hard not to get swept up in the emotion of this sacred space. 

 One of the most beautiful parts of this entire experience for me personally is stepping foot into the main room, but not only because this is where the action happens, this is also where the main altar is and unless you have a heart made of salt and vinegar those deities dressed so immaculately will kick your ass every time. I have often walked in there, gazed upon Krishna, Radha, Chaitanya and their groovy Vedic-age pals hanging out on that altar and have fallen deeply in love. I’m not sure if it is the years of worship thickening the air or the opulent dressings of these seemingly simple statues made of plastic and carbon…whatever it is it’s potent and worth every visit. 

 After taking a seat on the floor and navigating through the 45-minute class on Vedic philosophy which you may or may not choose to sit through you’re treated to almost an hour of devotional music. Building from a few lines of opening Sanskrit prayer and exploding into a full on Hare Krishna mantra melt down that has even the oldest and most staunch disbeliever bobbing their head it begins to feel that this is part of what you’ve come for. This is what celebration at the feet of God ought to look like. I don’t care if you’re a Krishna, Mormon or a devout catholic, if you love the Lord that damned much then celebrate shamelessly! Whether among the faithful or just an observer, being in a room full of adults throwing their hands and voices into the air is an amazing thing to behold. This is part of why I come here. This is part of why I believe.

 So if the singing and chanting in this beautiful temple room haven’t won you over, the free vegetarian feast will rope you in and make you a convert wanting to come back for more. Here is food prepared by people who understand Indian cuisine with the added bonus of it having been offered with prayer and devotion. Now, suspend your disbelief for a moment and imagine pure, easily digestible food being prepared under the steady energy of devotion, served with a smile and the promise of more if you are hungry for it. Think of curries, subji, daal, fresh roti and fruit nectar taken alongside strangers and otherwise in a large room that resembles an open-air grotto in the morning sky. Imagine eating your fill and still walking out feeling lighter, as if you've been somehow "spiritualized". 


That's how it feels for me. And that is why i keep coming back. 

 There is something pretty magical about the whole Sunday love feast experience, be it the drawn out discourses given by one of Krishna’s yogis whose thick accent might make it hard to decipher. Or the hour-long God conscious dance party that turns adults into blissful children again. Or the fill up of purified food that treats your taste buds to one heck of a gift. I may not be near to a vegetarian, intoxicant free, non-gambling and promiscuous sex abstaining Krishna devotee, but that odd Sunday evening when I find myself between those 4 walls I leave feeling lighter and happier than I “should be” having just been to a church service.

 No matter where I am in life it is the things such as having drunken the kool-aid of an ages old tradition or a perfect gritty sunset or a fun day riding bikes with my lover that makes for a sweetened life. It is this stuff that I try to remember as I stress and fuss over ‘not having it good enough’ and it is this stuff that consistently brings me back to living. Life isn’t always a gas but there is always ample opportunity to refuel and I suggest that while you are here and able you find your spark and worship fully and completely. You’ve really got nothing to lose.
Many lovings,
N

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Sweet moments" for $400

Answer: When i look outside my window and even amongst the soot, tossed needles and electric lines i see cool paintings like this.....

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Evolution is a 4 letter word

"In Love. Such heavy handed words. Such a supposedly "light and wonderful" feeling. So much damned weight. So many factors to consider. It's pretty difficult to admit to something that gets so easily stuck in my throat like a bone and fattens my tongue like a severe allergic reaction. It is something that i never thought I'd be able to truly say to another or feel much a part of. Not even sure if i can and perhaps i never will. I tried that once and it didn't work out. I spent half the time waiting for the foundations to crumble. 
So i swerve and get mildly uncomfortable, wanting to pull back and lock up the doors to my heart while whispering the combination into your ear really fast and only once, for even in this i hardly even have the faith of a lousy mustard seed." --N. Pike June 2007

 The word 'love' has been rattling around in my dome a lot as of late. It's not that the feeling is a new concept for me by any means and in fact I'm pretty certain that I have a lot of love to share and have for many years now, despite all former appearances. But recently it has started to mean more to me. The feeling of love has begun to take on new tastes and textures. My capacity to give and to receive love has reached new levels and quality. Suddenly there is more substance and I am experiencing it more consistently in my day to day life and in my intimate relationships. My thoughts and decisions are more rooted in love instead of fear and I am glad for this. I think it suits me far better than the crunchy coat of sarcasm and bitterness I had been wearing for far too long.
 I've made no secret of the recent changes in my lifestyle. Among those changes comes a daily meditation practice that i guess was long overdue because my body and mind took to it like strong adhesive glue. Almost two months on and I now look forward to that 20-40 minutes that i offer myself for breath and reflection. It has become a part of my daily spiritual practice and though the results may vary, I truly enjoy the boost of energy it gives and how it has quite effectively kick started a massive rewiring of my emotional thought patterns. I'm watching judgements arise yet they aren't so hardened with attachment. I'll experience a jolt of reaction to something, however big or small, and yet the clinging to my idea of it is becoming softer and in fact the reaction itself is substantially less aggressive because I'm not giving it as much power or holding on to it for so long. I am giving my grinding teeth and furrowed brow a much needed break and I'll tell you what man, It feels fantastic! It feels like freedom. In a way I guess that is precisely what the gurus and spiritual masters are talking about when they speak of liberation. Because even at this early juncture where I am still taking baby steps in a journey that is infinite, I am seeing how much more space there is for the stuff that really matters. Like patience, respect, hope, faith....and love.
Now, this is no hippy trip I'm taking you on. I'm not hanging up my raunchy humor or scathing tongue for eternally gazing at the heavens. But I'm certainly well on my way to giving up the fear and loathing. That's a tired game and it's not doing anyone a shred of good. Besides, I'm finding much more enjoyment in calming the fuck down and replacing negative emotions with the more life affirming stuff. It certainly gets me more easily through the day and I'm just not so stuck anymore. Life is still the same weird trip and bad crap is inevitably going to go down but I'm finding it easier now to avoid getting caught up in the details, and even if i do it's getting easier to step away from them. 
My heart is open and I am more in love.
This is a blessing I will never let go of again because as i get older I realize that life really is too short for this pouty, angry, judgement ridden, medicating the pain away nonsense.
While I'm still here I'd like to give, receive and express as much love as i can. 
Even if it never made a difference to anyone else, I'd have left this bag of bones knowing that I'd given my heart in everything. 
That's really all there is.
N

Monday, April 2, 2012

Observations from a water drinking gig attendee

 The tall svelte raven-like creature I saw on the bus is also here, sitting in the corner alone, face lighting up every minute and a half from the cool steely-blue glow of her iPhone. She madly checks into her life in text messages sent and received as a means of escaping from the reality of being here at this show all alone. She's Ill at ease like a lot of others, nursing drinks with one hand and gesturing with the other. 
Already people are stumbling around glassy eyed and the show hasn't even begun yet. Hell, the room isn't even half full yet.
This is going to be an interesting night.
  
 We're all posturing and itching to be/not to be seen in this scene of life, no matter how tough or weak looking, no matter how well dressed or sloppy, no matter how drunk and brave or sober and awkward, we're all united on this tiny rotating crust and we all secretly wish we could stand alone, together. I nurse my third glass of ice water and try to maintain an air of confidence as i peer around the growing crowd, listening to snippets of conversation and watching the actors play their parts in the big game of gig attending.
This is shaping up to be an interesting night.
  
 I'm not drinking like the rest of them. I'm not stoned like some of them. My energy is even keeled and I'm feeling quite happy about it. This is still a novelty, this being sober at events thing and i admit that it's still a bit strange. I feel like everyone knows. You know, like when you're stoned or something and you feel like everyone can tell? That's kind of where I'm at right now. But it's okay. My eyes are wide open, taking in more than I can remember ever having taken in before.
I spot the svelte Raven as she slams back a can of PBR and looks around. She looks like she wonders if anyone can see her, if anyone knows that she's alone. I know. I'm alone too. Kinda itchy isn't it?
We all try to maintain the decorum of cool, even though we're all just nerds in disguise. Some proudly wear their colors, some don't. Some will pull it off and some just won't.
It's looking like a revealing night.
  
 The red overhead house lights reflect off this ginger beardo dudes pallid skin, giving him a ghostly eerie sheen. He has bags under his eyes and he looks like he's been soaking in a puddle of milk for a week, but he has a nice smile and the girl he's chatting up seems to like him okay. Maybe he's dead and that's attractive to her because maybe todays ladies totally dig a dead guy. All i can think of is how well a zombie would do in a mosh pit.
A tarty blond with a pretty face and skinny legs that don't look strong enough to support her upper half tosses back a beer that she's probably too young to be drinking in world record time. She stumbles back a bit as if hit by a strong gust of wind and her eyes go out of focus, but she's a trooper and regains her footing. I've watched her and her buddy circuit the room, stopping to stand briefly next to guys they think are cute and then they run off giggling to get more beer.
Meaty jean jacket kids hit their Cariboo hard like it owes them rent money and then they get into mock fights with their pals. Hard rock wrestling matches that only alcohol can fuel are ways these fellows pass the time before the music starts. Girlfriends hover in circles, chattering and eyeing up other groups of girlfriends and talk about how they wish their men would spend as much time wrestling them as they did with their rock and roll buddies. Beer gets spilled and dander gets raised but it all washes away with a bad joke and some boisterous laughter.
For some this is going to be another one of those nights.
  
 The Ramones are on the house speakers and it's way too loud, or maybe i just hate the Ramones. Yeah, I think that's the problem. But it's not like I'm going to ask them to turn it down. The crowd gets thicker. It's almost show time. More drinking. More noise. More things to watch. I am at a gig for the first time while sober and while I may be near to being the 'odd man out' I take heart that this is going to be a well recollected and healthy night.
  
 Incredibly heavy music is followed by ears ringing, booze replenishing and glazed eyed milling around pockets of folks engaged in the various intricacies of conversation. Drunken friends old and new bond over shared tastes in alcohol, career and musical choices. Numbers and plans are promised, some soon forgotten and others even tossed away in disinterest. 
In the toilet a sweat drenched skid next to me sways as he's pissing and i pray that he keeps his spray to himself. These urinals are gross enough and i don't need stranger pee on me unless I've paid for it. Later after the show I see him half walking/half jogging diagonally toward his home in the east side where he will crash hard into bed, and where his night will wash partly away into a blur of mucky colors like paint thinner thrown onto a brightly colored canvas. 
I've been there a few times and I don't envy him for a second.
I'm grateful that I'm no longer keen on having one of those kinds of nights.
  
 It's midnight, I am naturally sleepy and I kind of can't wait to get back home to my woman. She's the intoxication I need right now but there is still a headliner act on stage and I have a job to do and I'm glad that I'll be able to do it well. 
This band is much friendlier to the ears. The other band was cool as well, but this guitar heavy emotive rock has united the crowd in a more positive way. The room is solidly packed with a sold out crowd and the temperature is much higher in here than it is out there. I keep a comfortable distance from the thick of the throng but stay within enough to really feel it. There are bodies surfing the crowd every couple of minutes and beer is flying everywhere. A communal joint is passed amongst a bunch of people in front of me and I catch a faint whiff. It's nice and a whiff is all i need. I enjoy watching the dude in front of me get more animated as a result of his long steady draw from this joint that has somehow made an arc to near the front of the room and almost back towards where i am again. I always appreciated a well rolled joint that seemed to last forever. To my right and downwind is the skinny tarty blond who's being well jostled around by the heaving crowd but still holding her own and having fun. She's a funny dancer and i bless her, wishing her a safe rest of the night. Near the front and side of stage is tall cool raven-child looking stone faced and disinterested. She checks her phone. I wonder why she's even here but then i bless her her and hope that next time her friends manage to show up. Ginger beard ends up riding on top of the crowd and loses his toque in the mass. But he doesn't seem to mind. After all he is a zombie with a nice smile and the world is full of toques. All around me are drunk and happy people united in the name of music that is powerful and thrumming a steady rhythm in my heart. Those guitar tones are awfully pretty and we all know it. 
 I take my leave as the last chords are ending. I don't feel like fighting my through the hundreds strong mad dash out the door. I'm ready to head home to familiar territory and to begin processing an experience i will later write about for a local publication. With peace and contentment in my heart and clarity in my brain I begin the walk to the bus stop, happy to have been in this room full of strangers who gave me things to ponder and observe, thankful for the power of music that, as always, has restored my faith and love for artistic expression. Thankful for eyes with which to see people enjoying, thankful for ears in which to hear it all, thankful for another day and many more to come. 
Thankful for an interesting and revealing night.
                                                  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Granting myself the courage


"Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change." ~Tony Robbins


It's been a month.....
....It's been a month!!
These four words have been tossed around in my head and across my lips a few times in the last couple of days. 
It's been one month since i have had a drink and even longer since I've smoked herb.
I feel like I should be talking about how hard this has been and how this dry spell has been hell on earth, but it hasn't been. At all. In fact it has felt like the most natural thing for me to do, first admitting to my problem and putting myself out there and then taking the steps towards changing it. 
 After i wrote that last post and outed myself there was really no going back. Some may call those last words self indulgent and one or two may have even pegged me as "crying out for attention", but I can assure you that those were some of the most important and powerful words I have ever laid out, and i certainly don't need to rely on some blog post as a sneaky means of receiving love or attention as I've got plenty of that in my life already. No, that was a means of stripping myself bare and call it what you want, that confession was a huge first step towards changing some habits that were beginning to scare the shit out of me. 

 A few months ago I didn't really think I could shift my habits around so smoothly and with such grace, nor did i really care to. Denial is a trickster and will employ every reason and excuse in the book not to change. But I literally quit cold turkey and prepared to deal with whatever fallout there was to come. There was a little during the first couple of days but I took strength in my determination and will. I softened the jagged edges of drying out and detoxing through daily meditation, yoga and talking about it with those who i felt safest and those closest to me and who have been there. Within a week i was well on my way and not looking back for a second. No meetings, no dogma, no guilt, no regrets. Just pure will and enough love for self to pull through it. And now it's been a month and I feel awesome. I have taken the time each day to sit in meditation and this has been exponentially good for me. I have always wanted to maintain a daily meditation practice but for one reason or another it had never stuck for more than a couple of days at a time and now I find myself looking forward to shutting the door and sitting in pure awareness for 20-40 minutes every day. It is making a difference in the way i move through life and each day I feel that I am moving closer to being the man that I have always imagined myself to be, and not this reactive, moody, sarcastic shit who's wrapped up in a bundle of neurosis and judgements, who doesn't feel "animated" or "fun" unless he's had a few beers under his ever expanding belt. This is not my healthy vision. This is not my reality. This is not me. 


It's almost funny to me that in this time of sobriety I feel more drunk and high than i have in my entire life. Each day is different and it may not always be smooth sailing, but at least I have taken back the power to change the things i can. And each day I feel the clarity and awareness of a cleaner body. Each day I feel the strength in a yoga practice of which I'd be crippled without. Each day I feel it in my breath, see it in my eyes, hear it in my voice and easier laughter. Each day I feel it in my relationship with Britt, which is getting stronger and more solid all the time. Each day I feel it when I prepare home cooked meals for myself and silently offer a "hooray" and pump of the fist at another few dollars saved.
Each day I give thanks for this strength, support, love, and for my unbreakable will. 
In a way I didn't think I could ever do this.....but I guess in a way I always knew i could.


Thank you, I love you!
N

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

No fancy names for revealing

 Man, this could very well be the hardest blog post I'll ever have to write. But as I have proven in the past, I tend to not sway from balking at the details that need to be shared. Being honest and bullshit free is what I do and it has gained the respect and trust of my loved ones so I shall continue in the spirit of this revealing.
 Okay, are you ready? I'm not sure that I am but here it goes anyway.
I....am an addict. I have problems controlling my substance abuse. I like to drink, I like to smoke weed and have consistently maintained this in varied degrees for the past 16 years. I am 37 years old and for the past several of those years it has become abundantly clear that I am not one of those fair weather friends to the substances of inebriation. I am close, but close is not good enough. I am what is referred to as a "functioning alcoholic and pothead". I place these terms in parenthesis because although I have managed to stay fairly consistent with my intake, I have never been one to let it lay waste to my life. Jobs and relationships have remained strongly intact and I have never found myself on skid row looking to give a blowjob in exchange for a tin of cheap beer or a puff of herb, but there have been times where it was a daily thing and I would have sacrificed what I know is well, good and healthy in exchange for medicating myself. Usually my bank account or the higher choice of hanging out with a friend or lover is what suffers. Am I contradicting myself? Yeah well, us addicts tend to find ways around the truth and will make up any old story in order to get that fix and come up smelling like roses in the process. The truth is that we usually come up smelling like daisies and most of us know that daisies kind of smell like poop.
I know that I'm not fooling anyone, least of all myself.
 Now, I'm not trying to paint a horrid picture of drinking myself into a blind stupor every night or smoking myself completely stupid. Sure, I've done that on occasion and although the circumstances were probably in the name of "fun" at the time, it never felt too great afterwards. And that's okay, most of us have been there. It's not those nights of careless abandon whilst surrounded by good friends that I speak of. It is the countless nights that I have spent dumbing myself down, alone, partaking in bullshit actions that are within my known comfort zones, namely getting high or drunk while zoning out on video games, YouTube and whatever else is available to me as long as I don't have to engage in the company of others and reveal the torn up wounded heart that I have beating inside my aging chest. 
 I remember my first taste of alcohol. Mom and I were on a rafting trip down the Colorado river and through the Grand Canyon-lands. We were about three quarters through the trip and we'd just tackled the largest and most dangerous rapid on the river. Dinner had been served and we were setting camp and one of the guides brought out a bottle of tequila in celebration of taking down this mighty white water monster. I'm not clear on how I ended up taking a few shots or what the hell they were thinking giving hard booze to a 16 year old Canadian kid who'd never drank before, but needless to say I got shit hammered and woke up feeling like a dead cactus the next day. And needless to say the taste was on my lips and I didn't quite mind it so much. From there my intake was very very sporadic until I moved out of home. Usually I had a couple with my mom while on road trips but I'll tell ya, each and every time I rather enjoyed that heady numb-lipped feeling and every time the taste for medicating far away from my shitty life at home intensified. Like most of the members of my family I was slowly becoming an addict. Problem is that it took almost 20 years for me to really see it and want to do something about it. 
Life went on and though drinking was never really an issue for me I knew I had a taste for it. The giddy feeling of heading down to the liqueur store near my first 'out of the nest' home in Vancouver for that giant can or 2 of Molson Canadian was all too familiar, but then it didn't register. Now it's so clear that it's almost ridiculous. 
See, my mom was an alcoholic and so was her mom and dad and I believe their mom and dad enjoyed the drink as well. Whoever says that addiction isn't hereditary has their head shoved up their ass. Hereditary doesn't necessarily mean that's it's in your blood so much as it means that you've witnessed firsthand the cycles of abuse and in some self hating and medicating way have chosen to continue that trait. Children mimic both their heros and abusers. The brain is hard-wired to soak up that shit. So I soaked up that shit as many others have.  
 My cycle of abuse really didn't rear it's head until I discovered marijuana. When that happened I threw that booze-can to the ground and rarely looked back for many years because I had discovered my trick. And I'll tell you what man, I wouldn't take back those first few incredible nights of getting high for anything. Herb completed me. It made me forget the bad shit and it made me embrace all that i enjoyed. It got me more interested in music and it made my first few attempts at sex pretty "fucking" enjoyable. It didn't hurt that I tried it for the first time with the safest, funniest and most trippy people on earth. I cherish those days and I truly feel that they helped me to break from my angry little hardened shell and into an exploring open heart. For a few years I enjoyed this. 

I wish I'd left it at that.
 I'm so not proud of the fact that for so many years and on a daily basis I dirtied my lungs with pot smoke, justifying my actions with weak arguments about my never having smoked cigarettes and that I could be smoking something even worse. Fact is that I was medicating. That dumbing down made the years of being single, being heartbroken, being bored and being lonely so much "easier" to cope with. I was officially addicted to something and I knew it, but I didn't give a crap because it "felt good". It never really felt like anything other than pure boredom and unwillingness to change because it felt good. Years later and up until the past several weeks I have been partaking almost on a daily basis, both with booze and smoke and it hasn't been until recently that I see how dire the need is for change. It is the dipping into my meager funds and giving in to the voice that suggests that just a toke will do me good that's had me worried. It is smoking even when I don't want to and can't afford to that has my attention.

Anyone who says that pot isn't addictive has their head up their ass and maybe should look at their own game. Sure, it may be easier to drop than say booze, cigarettes or heroin, but it's certainly addictive and I feel that any of my friends who have a hankering for the herb on the regular might agree to some extent.
God, it feels almost pathetic to me that I'm revealing this side of myself, that I am giving you, my two or three readers this idea that I'm a raging alcoholic and that I might need help. 
I assure you that this isn't a cry for help. This is a confession and an important one at that. This is something that I've wanted to own up to for a long time now, and in ways I have recently with my closest people. Even confessing that I have substance abuse issues is a huge thing for me and recently I have admitted this to my lover who probably already knew this about me. But it helped. I have a very close friend who shall remain nameless, who has shared in their own similar issues and I thank the stars that I have this amazing friend who I identify with so much that it's crazy, and I can lean on him and feel supported. And this helps.

It's hard to admit but admitting helps.
But also it is terrifying because I am afraid to look weak. I am afraid that I am destroying the expectations and regard in which some have held me in. I am afraid that some may have never known or realized that this was an issue for me as I am very good at maintaining a poker face throughout life and even better at 'taking care of it on my own' due to my stupid independent pride and unwillingness to take any form of help from others. I am afraid that my nearest and dearest will lose respect for me and fail to believe in the well-adjusted and strong soul that I have somehow managed to build for myself, despite these somewhat hidden issues. 
I know that I'm not nearly as bad as it can get, and that truly I can do this on my own. In fact I am doing this on my own and for the first time in years I feel a strength and clarity that is bolstering my resolve to get past this. It has helped. I am good and I am willing. I am strong. I have undying faith, an absolutely wonderful and supportive group of loved ones. I have a yoga and meditation practice that would never really allow for me to sink lower than a place of my stopping and observing in that something needs to give. Thank GOD for that practice because without it I think I'd be much worse off.....I certainly wouldn't be here telling you about it.
And so, in the spirit of sharing and revealing I feel it important to tell you that in the past couple of years I have felt fear. I have felt desperation. I have felt lost and I have felt completely alone.
I am 37 years old and this little kid who was lost so many years ago is screaming for some acknowledgement and healing. I am 37 years old and the need for massive change is long overdue. I am 37 years old, I have a story to tell and I refuse to be afraid to tell it.
I am 37 years old...and I am human. Bare naked. Warts and all.
As always, thank you for reading. Thank you for supporting.

Just...thank you. I love you.
N
                                                 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Of seal heads, graceful herons and outdoor showers


I am sitting in the sun room of the gorgeous bed & breakfast my lover and I have rented for a couple of days. Part need for quiet relaxation and part romantic Valentines getaway, this amazing spot on Galiano island couldn't be anymore perfect for our current needs. I am happy. I am content. I am filled with love for self and for this lover at my side. 
In front of me is a panoramic view of the surrounding islands. The crystal shimmering water is literally right under our feet and we are cradled on either side by lofty pines and arbutus trees who are strip-teasing their bark for the entire world to see.  Gershwin is hitting it hard on the stereo and off in the distance are the cries of eagles and the odd pissed off squirrel who is shouting at a random bird for getting too close to its plunder. This is the life. I am happy. I am content.
This morning I opened my day with a long and challenging power yoga practice in front of the fire. It had been a while since I'd gone so deep into my yogic meditation, so content on the home-front with letting my rushy city life keeping me from fully taking in the moment and my need for a centered and strong  practice. It wasn't until today that i realized just how distracted I am with everything....money worries, time restrictions, home distractions, the sounds of my roughshod neighborhood and the dust on my counter tops. Back home I feel like a nutcase and it is when I find myself in places like this that I feel truly at home in my body, mind and spirit. 
As i made my yoga practice, gazing upon the water and view before me, tears rolling down my face and sweat pouring from my brow, bursts of laughter and long held "OM"-like sighs escaping from my belly and throat, I realized again just how important this is for me to do, to take in fully these complete moments of love and presence. To remember that I am happy and that I am content.
Puffy cotton clouds paint the rich blue sky in front of me. Smoke rises from some unknown source in between the tree pregnant hills across the water. The green of the fir tree to my left is vibrant, fresh and so lush you can almost taste it. Tiny croppings of rock and small islands make the view more colorful. The light amber sun starting its descent into the horizon is warm with promises of the spring and summer to come. The glass of white wine at my side is going down surprisingly well. I am happy. I am content.
I would love to call this my home and I suppose for this present moment it is home. As i sit in this sun warmed room taking in the view with my lover knitting and sitting by my side, this is all i could want or ask for. Tomorrow brings the journey home and the inevitable trappings of city life. From there I will do my best to take with me all that I have learned and captured in my heart, but for now tomorrow never happens. For now I am home. I am happy. And I am content.
Thank you. I love you!
N

Monday, January 23, 2012

When I grow up I want to be a fireman!!!

For most of my work life I have taken the jobs that are in line with what I know, which have mainly been the many restaurant and counter service jobs that the professionals don't want. Truth be told, I can make a damned fine coffee and could probably hold my own on a grill if i needed to. I've bagged a heck of a bag of groceries and I have run a dining room floor like nobodies business. At times all of these jobs had their finer moments and at times I was able to pull in some okay coin doing them but as I get older my impatience and tolerance level for these kinds of jobs diminishes. No longer is it okay for me to bust my ass for someone who doesn't notice or who sees me as a replaceable cog in the machine. I know I am worth more and I know that I can do much better than this, and so as of the end of 2011 I chose to put down old toys and started looking to broader horizons. This isn't as easy as it seems when you have no trades and little post secondary education, or maybe it is easy and the lack of confidence surrounding this makes it seem harder. Whatever the case may be, I now stand in a place of unknowns and I am sometimes touched by the fear that one day I will have to once again suck it up and go back to doing meaningless tasks for unethical bastards and for shitty pay. 
But I know in my heart that this will not be the case. I have made a solid decision and I stand by it until the end, but like all daring and revolutionary self choices, it comes with some fear. 
But I am stronger than my fear.
I don't think it's completely unreasonable to not want for the full on 9-5 schedule unless I am coming home every day having poured my heart into the work that i do and having come up roses. I don't think it's unreasonable to want for a self made schedule. I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that i will one day be hired on at my dream job based entirely on my looks, charm and heart.
It seems to me that humankind has gone through a shift in dynamics where the white picket fence, power wife, happy white-washed kids and six figure salary has become less of the expected normality. So many of my friends have turned to making their own work through artwork, bodywork and just plain hard work. To me this is very attractive and as my self awareness grows I gravitate more towards this level of being.
I have always liked the idea of being a jack of all trades, taking on various odd jobs that fit right with my ideals and never settling in one place unless it is absolutely right for me. I feel that there is simply too much to learn and too many awesome experiences to suck the juice from as opposed to spending years stressed out and poor from schooling, only to get a job that is in half alignment with what i really want in life. Perhaps this is my fleeting, terrified non-committal nature and perhaps this will be my downfall, but while I am here and able bodied I would like to learn from many sources doing many different things that pique my interests. I don't think that is unreasonable and as long as I am feeding, clothing and keeping myself warm then I am hurting nobody in the process. I leave no brethren going hungry and no partners without, nor would i ever allow that to be my reality.
I think by the ripe old age of 37 that I have eclipsed whatever expectations my parents might have had for me. By now they know that I am of a different sort of breed and that the number crunching desk job passed me by a long time ago.
Maybe I'll go back to school one day and maybe I'll even learn how to cut granite at some point, but while I'm doing that I would like to make my living helping to bolster the visions of good solid people and to make some kind of difference in the lives of others. I'll even do these things for free if it means that I am learning something new and exciting or playing a part in what is bigger. For most of my life I was afraid to think this way and I assume that there are many of us who are crippled by the fear of poverty, lack of security and most of all a tainted sense of social standing to even consider this "irresponsible" way of living. I think that if we all dropped the bullshit and got into our hearts instead of our heads, our work/career existence might look a lot different and that we'd have a lot less of angry shitty people walking around making life even more miserable for the poor working slaves in the coffee shops and diner floors who are still caught in the grinding wheels of what we "should" be doing just to get by. 
We live in a world where anything and everything is possible. It just takes some belief, patience, heart and hard work. Eventually the fruit shall reveal itself and all the rest will be icing.
I don't think that's unreasonable. I don't think that a wild idea and a little grain of faith is at all  unreasonable. We should all have a go at it, even if but once.
So try something daring, my friends. Live unreasonably and without fear because in the end, when you die and take with you what you created while you were here you won't be weighted down with so many hang-ups, regrets or fears.  
I just want to see you happy. I just want to be happy.
As always thank you for reading.  I love you all ways!
~N