The Re-Enchantment of Now

It sounds cliché but there is some truth to it…. “finding the light brings us out of the dark”…. or “we can’t  know the light with out the dark”.  Light is the crack opening because the door is unlatching.  Light emotes from the cracking of the container….. the stars pierce the time space void to twinkle in our nightsky and remind us of our origins and potential… After  long periods of winter  darkness we are drawn  to the warmth and sunshine of the returning Spring season.

Light and dark are an archetypal dance. Darkness has played the role of the mysterious,  the unknown, the subconscious, dreams/nightmares and the place one must wander to find the magic within. The Fool’s journey is to hear that call to the darkness…. the abyss of the unknown. Light is the illumination, the idea, the insights, realizations, awakenings, consciousness and the synthesis of that journey  through the dark into life…. living and the recognition of the present  moment  as where the magic resides in the mundane. Chop wood. Carry water… or that boring day job that pays the bills.

It is the return to the ordinary  that becomes the feritle soil for re-enchantment. Magic is not all blue lighening and sparks.  It is the ability  to take what is there and shift it into something for the greater good. The archetype Magician of the Tarot is a master over the elements. That means exploring the materials  and reactions of the universe. Sciences. Arts. Service. Understanding  how to move from one state to another… mastering  the mechanics and the mechanisms of the world and utilizing imagination, the potential and energy to create something  new or be in awe of the world as it is.

Every age and era has a new set of challenges and realizations  that are the hallmark of that time’s growth. Each of these has the potential  to tear down the past taboos and reorder things for a novel experiment  in society  and human conditions.  Today, we stand in the middle of  a cacophony of changes, voices and ideas fueled by the internet/social media into a paralyzing mush of incoherent babble.  The darkness is an assault  on our sense of who we are in a world that does not exist beyond a pixilated screen for most of us. The dark is a meme, the emotional hooks of a snippet  of video, the outrage of a seemly endless discovery  of horrors about humanity.  Some of this is the blatant manipulation of information/disinformation to trigger response(s). The collective disorienting nebulous consumes the rational and distorts the ordinary.  The fabric of life/living frays and pulls… the ground tembles and shakes…. the equilibrium  of the mind is sloshed about…. the will to live seeks a certainly… a crack that reveals the door way out of this bad trip…..

The simple cure starts with  the awareness that the our mind is being high jacked for the power dynamic  that  is  manufacture for maximum control and affect. Doesn’t matter which side or the content, the affect is the same you are disconnected from your sense of center. Your mind is held in the grip of chemical reactions that override the rational thinking. The pay off in the mind/body is a euphoria by dopamine or any of the other pleasure producing chemicals. When we side with a meme or respond to the support of our tribe of like minds we feels the rush of it. It is no different than any other kind of addiction. It creates a false reality of confidence  competence and belonging. And like all addictions it is progressive and the need for more to stimulate pleasure is a destructive feed back loop. It never ends well…. the carnage and loss…. yet from darkness light can come.

Re-enchantment begins when we start to focus on the present moment  and  looking for the light…. the opportunities  to care for each interaction and experience. It is not about what we know but what is there in each moment. It’s not about being right it is about being willing. The world will start to become less polarized, less stark, and the emotional hooks will snag less.  The universe will be more about the middle spaces of nuance, interbeing, equality, respect and diversity. Solutions.

Enchantment is that wonderful  balance of curiosity,  attention and awareness. By it’s  very nature it draws you into discovery.  It allows for you to decipher the clues and explore with the senses. Your body is not a burden  but the perfect vehicle. There is room for failure as a learning tool. There is  cooperation and collaboration as the mechanics to navigate  the world.

Re-enchantment is each of our jobs to dismantling this darkness.

Joshua Trees Burning

They stand like twisted contemporary dancers in the hot baked flat terrain. Dust rises and the fires look to find the fuel for burning. They burst into flames.

I drove past these trees along the highway towards the Mohave desert. This Feburary was the beginning of a strange shift in the world. There they were. The Joshua trees. Oddly shaped, Dr. Seuss looking, worshipping the sun and silent as myself and others whizzed by them back a forth along the road.

The first time I had ever heard of them was when the band U2 made there album and use the trees as a symbol for there their mysterious and musical expression. The trees seemed other worldly. It would be many years later that I would find myself among these strange trees. In awe and mystified by their presence. They added to the round boulders and other geographies of the California desert.

I was at the time looking for the mystery. Looking for the ecstatic experience and expression of the universe. I was on the road for work and to heal my emotional wounds. I wanted to find some justification for the pain in my heart. I wanted the beauty of this earth to somehow heal me. It did. In it’s own time….

This place of the Joshua trees touched me. The ecology of the land. It fueled all my curiosity. These trees were beautiful. A year later after my first visit, vandalism took some of the trees I passed back though to see them. I felt a connection to them.

Today these trees are burning as the wild fires in California rage. They are rare, fragile and symbiotic in an age that is fighting itself for deeper understanding and to get a footing in how to make a better world.

Standing Still

After 2 and a half years of traveling coast to coast eight times. My life consumed approximately 110,000 miles of roads and experiences.  The road ended in a park and ride in Connecticut in March. My 6 months of plans, workshops and  work evaporated in about 72 hours. I had to quarantine. All the places I would have stayed at during my travels were locked down.  I found my large view and experience of the world reduce to sleeping in my car,  trying to get a shower once a week, figuring out how to make enough money to eat….and pay my bills… working hard to find the motivation  not to give up. The world was in chaos and shut down… no places to go… I was ground to a halt.

I’m  not going to say it was easy or that it was fun. That I had some great epiphanies that open my soul. I was vulnerable, scared, angry, frustrated and often struggling just to keep a basic routine for a sense of sanity the first couple of months.

I come from strong stock. Giving up is not an option. My will to survive  is probably  stronger than most. If I set my mind on it don’t  get in my way. No matter what the obstacles,  the emotional  or physical pain…. push through it. Don’t give up. Focus on the task at hand… the next right thing…. ask for help yet don’t have expectations.

This period of time was a kind of feral existence. It resides in the thin edges and shadows of what we call civil society. I lived in a way that I could function and if you didn’t know I was homeless you probably wouldn’t have guessed. I changed my clothes every day. I washed up as best I could between showers. Did laundry at the local laundromat. I walked every day. Engaged in my practice of photography. The social isolation helped to keep up appearances.

I was aware that we all were struggling with the disruption of Covid-19. Despite my situation I felt I was doing ok…. counted my gratitudes. I wasn’t sick. I had a car to sleep in. I have enough to eat. I was getting some money coming. The active structure of my life keep the darker thoughts at bay most days. Writing and drawing helped prevent a complete mental break down.

Being reduced to a survival experience and having a overly active mind is challenging. My brain works like this: I over think everything. I want the big picture. I explore all the connections and nuances… my brain explodes… there are insights and ideas…. things to try… and the paralysis of too much. I have 30 years of skills in alternative and complimentary therapies, meditation…. etc… I got to test them all. Drag them through their paces and tossed out the ones that failed.

As grim as this all might sound, there was a lot of good over the last few months. There was progress. There was a tremendous amount of love and support. I finally found places to temporarily stay… work started to come in. Redirected my business model. Became very clear about what I wanted to do as the world changed.

I titled this blog post Standing Still. It comes from a Buddhist practice I learned many years ago. You visualize that you are a post in the ocean and the tides come in and out, sometimes the waves are still, somedays the waves rage in storms… all this happens and the post stays still witnessing and being a post. So, these past few months have pushed me to find that post in me. To practice that stillness as the world rages nowadays. This is not a detachment as much as it is the ability to not be knocked around by the experience and the emotions that are stimulated. It is the practice of learning to respond and decern. To know when to act. The experience has freed some of my mind and has given me clarity about how to approach and apply my services. I am grateful for that.

The Dream in the Dream in the Dream

Learning to draw and paint trains the eye and mind to recognize patterns. The dance across the page, the vertical lines and relationships between  shadows and light… the movement of attraction and attention  to a scene as it unfolds on the paper….

My formal  training  for all it’s worth was to see. Look at things. Observe. Take note. This is dovetailed with the decernment of focusing in on the  smallest of details and pulling so far back as to see the patch work patterns of larger connections and textures like the view from an airplane window. These perspectives  are like the dream worlds created with vivid imagination yet they are also what is real and presented in every unfolding moment of the day. The eyes take them in as tiny inputs and impulses that are gathered  and synthesized to become the conscious  and subconscious motivations of risk and assessment.

I am a bit obsessive  about visual patterns. It’s  kind of like an alphabet of images and information that in my mind lay out a cyclical story that keeps repeating. My eyes and mind are drawn to the news feed and the daily routines  and interactions  that are becoming  the new normal. The political discourse at this time in this country is a repeating pattern. My mind recognizes the signs and shifts…. 1930s Germany, Tibet and China, Cambodia, Argentina, Guatemala… Egypt… just to name a few.  The patterns of  disruption, corruption, lies, guns and violence…. the erosion of liberties. The slow motion  collision of people in disbelief being mangled by some thing so out of context to their lives that they stand stunned as it crushes then. Without any resistance or they have be distracted by a false outrage as the waves engulfs  them and they drown in their blindness.

To balance this intense reality my mind seeks beauty. The rest of the  world. The stuff between. The flowers, trees, the clouds, starry skies and moon… these things are the threads of a cosmic pattern. They weave dreams of a reality I only see small glimpses of during my brief consciousness time here. My awareness of it grandeur is not lost with the knowledge of a desperate political power struggle. Life is the messy and difficult journey. We are born into this to find meaning. The choice is not one thing over another. It is the awareness and action to respond to all that is presented with a commitment to make the world a better place.

The patterns show the interconnectedness of everything. There isn’t a vacuum that insulates one world, reality, dream or perspective…. All things condense and fold into the experience we have directly and independently…. what we control( if we can) is our responsibility and actions as things directly engage with us. A line across the page, we create what we draw and focus on.

Brain Tangles & Lines on a Page

Drawing is like unrveling a ball of yarn. The fibers and neurons of the frontal cortex loosen and the image impulses travel down the back of the neck, through the arm and then tranfer out in to the fingers that guide the pencil over the paper. The eyes fix on the unfolding image send reactions, and visual cues back to the brain for further responses.

A drawing emerges that tells the story of a person, place or thing. Drawing stitches the dream into the flat plane of dried fibers. The lines dance and interact to stretch the dimesions of time and form. Drawing is a dance. Drawing is the eststic moment of energy generating visual complexity and beauty.

The line is a passage… the pathway for energy falling out of a wand on to the infinite page…. line apon line entangle to create the universe.