Ending the Disposable: Part One

Discarded fishing nets and gear – 2019

I’ll start blog today this with a question:

How do we stop using the single use disposable items in our lives?

I ask this not as a way to shame or to point out the glut of plastics in the oceans. We have way too much guilt and blame circulating around everything today. Through the intense echo chamber of social media we are entrained to respond to it in an emotional Pavlovian response. In my mind this is not helpful. It continues a cycle of self depreciation and at it’s worst a kind of self hating because one thinks/feels they are not doing enough.

My intention with the question is to explore a conversation towards sustainable actions. There will most likely be other blog posts that explore more specifics. For today I would like to write about what I think are the roots of this mind set in a disposable society. I’m taking a Western European view on this because that is my background. I am fully aware this is not the case all over the world and with different cultures. I can say the diaspora of this mind set and economic growth has influenced and infiltrated the most remote areas of the globe with dire consequences. Everyone is now affect in some way by the global epidemic.

Recycled paper bales

Where to begin…. There was a shift in societies when the industrial revolution happened which was around 1760 in Britain. Prior to that shift almost everything was made by someone by hand. Artisans, trades and craftspeople were the predominate design and manufacturing force that drove and grew the economy of most major cities. This was also a time where people made things at home. Weaving, sewing, wood carving, blacksmithing, pottery…. etc were considered desirable skills that contributed to the health and sustainability of a town or city. People took pride in the making of a good quality product. It was backed by your name and your reputation. There was also the provenance of a lineage… where something came from. It held a connection to a person, place or story. Things were not just things they were part of a social/cultural network of people and the world they lived in.

I also want to say people worked really hard just to survive during this time. Life was lived very close to the edge. Sanitation, disease, nutrition, etc…. were still in a place of mystery. People died young. Children didn’t survive. People feared God and who ever owned their land, taxes, failed crops. Hard work made you worthy of life and could get you a place in heaven.

How a society processes life and death says a lot about how they engage with the world around them. A society that recognizes the fragility of life will create methods and ways to sustain a future for those who live beyond them. This can look like passing on skills, a craft, how to plant trees and prune them, tools that have been part of a multi generation of a particular trade etc…. They saw the fruits of their labor, the gift of life itself asan enduring legacy. Carrying the memories of a person or family. What was created became the story that lived on in time.

The Industrial revolution is recognized by significant changes in economic structures, import/export, and the concept of mass manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, machines, mechanized factories.  This centralized the labor force, created wages and depersonalization of the products being made. This change in how things are made began a systemic decline over the next three hundred years of the environment, society, and the quality of products made.

There is obvious stresses to the environment. Manufacturing requires materials like steel, cotton, petroleum…. etc….which creates growth in other markets and this in turn sacrifices the land, soil, and the environment for production.

The industrial revolution pushed the environment and humanity to the outer edge of value in society and made money and consumption the center of social growth. There were times during this 300 year time line where things shifted and workers got rights, fair wages, 40 hour work week…. eventual environmental protections… Protected lands. This has always been a fragile balance that is easily tipped over when the mechanism of Capitalism flexes it’s muscle. We are seeing that today. Again.

This is where the seeds of our disposable society began. It has been a calculated and deliberate method of conditionsing to get a social structure in place to sustain an elite economic class at the expense of people, society and the environment. This was the long term game of this marketing effort to get people to consume and distract them from casualties of these behaviors, feel good about purchasing, and alluding to abundance. This is Capitalism. To be able to buy something became a status symbol. It showed you were successful.

Another thing to take note of is the change in the focus of spiritual,secular and religious holidays. They have gone from a celebration of family, the land, service, good health, honoring brave and amazing people, etc…. to gross celebrations of consumption. Every holiday is a sale. Most of it is cheap throw away plastic. This exemplifies how as a society we have been corralled into a system that forces out meaning and replaces it with disposable consumption. It really is no different than telling people they can not practice their faith or beliefs. The church did it to indigenous people for a couple thousand years. Capitalism does it to whoever it needs to manipulate to get it needs met.

Today we are part of a system that divides us and keeps us separate on many levels. Our expected task is to move forward. Leave the past and move ahead. Don’t grieve. Don’t question. Don’t feel. Don’t think. Capitalism has narrowed the road and made it so stepping off the path or stopping is a recipe for catastrophic failure. So people do…. work… participate in psuedo social experiences that are geared to spike our dopamine levels and keep us sedated. We recognize the emptiness and yet feel powerless…. distracted…. overwhelmed.

The system of Capitalism that grew out of the industrial revolution is only sustainable through the power of purchasing more goods. This feeds the beast. This encourages cheaper products that are made not to last. It also created a system of unfixable products. Products that were used once thrown away and purchased again… and again.

The other part of this Capitalist system is to demonize the arts and dumb down the society. It also has little to no room for the individual unless they are contributing to the Capitalist model. As the world has embraced these mioptic views of success and economic growth it has driven down wages, set unrealistic social expectations and that in turn forces people to purchase cheaper and cheaper goods that further the destruction of each other and the world.

The industrial revolution and Capitalism have brought us here. We live in a systemically dysfunctional economy that promotes and encourages a disposable lifestyle and the consequences are what we are seeing today. How this will change is going to take a great effort from all sectors of the economy and the social hierarchies that we have created.

In the next part of this serious I will explore some ideas around making changes, what is possible, what realistic. Evolutionary changes happen cooperative unity and adaptations. Our progress has changed the world somethings will be changeable and other we will have figure out how to live with.

Coming in 2020

Birth of Terra Mundi – 2019

This season I will be offering a podcast as I make my way exploring, traveling and working in the world. The podcast will focus on stories, experiences, interviews that reflect the times we live in and the diaspora of changes that are happening as we explore the challenges and hopes to build a sustainable future.

You can find the podcast here: https://anchor.fm/adhi-twoowls

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Return of the Sun….

Sun Through a Frosted Window in Lawrence Kansas- 2018

Every year it seems the sun makes a trek south. Taking with it the warmth and light. It’s a slow process. Starting in the summer at the longest day of the year. Incremental in the sense of time and barely perceptible until one day an hour of light is gone. Then two… three… then the light and dark are balanced at a point marked as the Equinox. After that brief pause the sun procession continues.

The reality of this cosmic event is that the Sun is fixed at the center of our galaxy. It doesn’t really change it’s position. The sun just spins in the way it has for millions of years. The shift is in the rotation, angle and orbit of earth. This is what creates the cycling shift of light and dark a cross the surface of the planet. Giving us the seasons and cycles.

The observation of these cycles has created calendars, mythologies, Deities, methods for planting and harvest. All over the globe people have in some way honored the Sun’s journey and this dance of light and dark.

Moon – 2019

As the Sun moves away from us and the winter conditions set in. It gets cold. Shadows grow long. Waters freeze. The stories to mark the season take on the genre of an internal journey. There is the metaphor of hibernation and dream time, sleeping seeds, reflection and the mythical explorations of the underworld addressing the subconscious stirrings that are left unattended during the warmer months.

Winter – 2019

Every year this time rolls in and my body doesn’t like it. I am a solar creature. The sun feeds me. I need to feel that heat on my skin. I’m an unashamed sun worshiper. This time of the year my philandering, pansexual, solar partner seems to wanders off to visit other places. There is no jealousy. We are comfortable with our relationship. It’s cyclical. We know each others habits. In truth it is my fixed place on this planet that moves and I wander into the deep folds of thoughts and ideas. The cold confines me. The long night sky is clear and full of stars. I like the quiet and stillness to listen for the ideas and synthesis of my travels and experiences.

In a couple of days the Sun will venture back slowly up along the surface of the earth. I welcome this turn of the calendar wheel and the warmth and light brings. The dark has stirred ideas and new directions for the coming year. This has been a fruitful darkness so far.

It’s Never About Being Right….

It is about being effective. Being curious. Being inquisitive.

Being skeptical.

Earth

Asking questions that push beyond your beliefs and challenging the biases internalized and cultivated in this world.

Spider in a Tea Cup – 2015

It is the awareness and the ability to not fall for the universal confirmation biases that are destroying this world through the power grab of the mioptic self serving groups and the media they control.

Wondering a road of curiosity ….

It starts with a question. Knowledge is not a cage. It opens the door to inquiries and curiosity. It leads to more questions that stretch beyond the beliefs we have inherited and create. Curiosity pushes us out into a world of the mysterious and the magicial.

Water molecules

Water is Life is Water

Handmade Water Protection Flag – 2016

“Water, water every where and not a drop to drink….”

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Water is the stuff that makes all this happen. It has given us everything. Life, food and the beautiful planet we live on.

Water is a crucible that has over the epocs of earth’s timeline generated diverse life forms that have explored the terrain of earth. Recycling back to the waters to become new life forms. The process is a continuous wheel of change and evolution.

Water got it done. Water brings us back from the brink of death when systems collapse. Water is the stable back bone to manifestation, recalculation and experimentation in the story of this earth. All things need it to survive.

Ocean – 2019

This simple molecular bond birthed in the stars, ejected into space. Traveling across the universe to pool and mingle with the dust of stars and the mineral nutrients of earth. It birth the first cells that learn to drink the sun light that birth the water at the beginning of time….

Water is the cosmic great mother. We need to remember this. It lives in us and we are the embodiment of a long story of success, failure and the elegance of chance and evolution. The story of water is our story.

Over the course of this next year I will be working on a film project to tell the story of water. From where it came from in the stars, it’s importance, the issues we now face in ownership, accessibility and ways we need to protect it. I will interview water protectors, elders, teachers, scientists, hydrologists, etc… to bring this story together and share it with you.

Seeds

Pink Banana Squash Seeds – 2018

Almost all life on this planet starts with a seed of some type. A tiny packet of information so powerful it will grow, multiply, shapeshift, mature to create more seeds and participate in the ecosystems it was designed for. There are many types and forms of seeds. They are of a wide spectrum of shapes and colors. Depending on the species, climate, conditions, dispersion methods they are designed to hold the necessary information to create life. The vitality of seeds determines the continued success of life. Some seeds like coconuts are large and some so tiny that they go undetected into the deep folds of earth and soil. We only see them when they start to grow.

Exploding Star

Seeds are the biological equivalent to what would be a singularity in astronomy. All the building blocks for an entire universe contained in a fragile state of potential. Waiting for the right conditions to expand outward. Unlike the infinite force of a singularity, a seed grows in relationship to what it is fed. It needs an nurturing environment of right conditions: Water, warmth, nutrients….

Once the seed finds it’s resting place it waits for the exchange of information to begin a metamorphosis. This starts with water. A swelling. These first interactions are indicators of great change and define the success of the seed.

The Seed starts to developed relationships with the mycelium, bacteria, molds to exchange nutrients…. grow roots…. venturing into a dark space of growth. Down into the fertile fermented of organic materials… compost, dead leaves, and minerals. The underworld. A delicious feast for a seed.

At the same time the seed draws itself upward to the warm whisper of above. A cosmic mystery. Felt as warmth. The fleshy food part of the seed which protects and feeds the embryonic plant as it is seeking this distance something.

The stem thickens and grows. The seedling twists and rotates. Pushing through the bits and decaying matter to meet the bright light of the sun. It has bridge the two worlds: Above and Below. Embodying the image of the world tree.

Yggdaisil Norse World Tree

The pale surface of the seed is turned on by the sudden influx of fast moving light particles and chloroplasts awaken. They start a metabolic process to turn sunlight into sugars.

The tiny organelle fires up with an intuitive design that splits water atoms, combines with carbon monoxide and releasing oxygen. They become tiny fledging lungs for the planet.

The process of seeds to the green lungs of the planet and the creation of more seeds is the result of billions of years of evolution and symbiotic relationships.

Seeds are sacred and precious. How we protect them in the coming years will determine our very existence. It has become apparent in the last few years that the fragile balance between water, seeds and soil will ultimately be the factors of our survival.

As a contemporary shaman, I look at the world through the lens of sacred mystery and scientific fact. Ceremony and the celebration of life starts with the knowledge of connection and curiousity. Who we are and the relationships created with the biodiversity of this earth ground us in the sense of belong. This belonging is the seed for empathy and compassion.

We might not know all of the mystery yet what we do know is awe inspiring and magical. We need both right now to come together and make changes to our lives. We can plant the metaphorical seeds of vision and change for a collective new world design. We also need to plant. We have to protect the seeds, soil, and waters.

Selfless Action

The Bagavad Gita is set during a time of great social change in India. The protagonist Arjuna wrestles with a moral dilemma. Before him on the Kuru plain stands the families of the Pandavas and Kauravas ready to fight for the throne.  Arjuna  sees the violence, death and destruction as a waste of life with out meaning… he can’t see the value of this senslessness fight. He is troubled and decides to quit and with draw from the battle.  He turns to his charioteer Krishna for council on this moral dilemma.

Krishna guides Arjuna in the karmic duty to uphold the Dharma through selfless action. The self is eternal and unchanging. It is fixed like the sun and stars. Like the thermodynamic process that says everything is neither created nor destroyed it moves through states of mass/matter and energy .. work and entropy… order and chaos. The soul or “atma” in Sanskrit is eternal and returns again age after age and will until the universe ends. This is the awakening.

To see everything as part of the cosmic turn of the wheel.

Today this story has relevance. We all are now seeking what to do or what is needed to bring the world back into balance. We are sorting out how to fight the evils of suffering, war, indifference and put compassion, peace, and love back in it’s place. Humanity is struggling with the moral dilemma of how to proceed to in the complex entanglement of humanity, resources and the planet.

Dharma as the infinite cosmic law that binds all and prevents the universe from shattering.

One of my favorite operas by the composer Phil Glass is Satyagraha. It is the story of Ghandi and his birthing of the concept of Satyagraha as a way of resistance and change during his time as a lawyer in South Africa. Gandhi based he’s teaching on the Gita and read it more than any other text. Using it as the inspiration for his life and work.

“Satyagraha, or holding onto truth, or truth force, is a particular form of nonviolent resistance or civil resistance. It is not the same as passive resistance, and advocates resisting non-violently over using violence. Resisting non-violently is considered the summit of bravery.”

Wikipedia

From the first time I heard this back in the 80s and even now it still moves me. I feel the tensions of the opening scene as this battle is set and the struggle to question the situation and explore what is right action.

To listen press the link below:

Act1 Scene 1: The Kuru field of justice

This story and it themes of good and evil. Right and wrong. Self vs selfless. Moral duty and right action. Reminds me of the state of the world right now. We are in a circling turmoil. In the awkward pause before a great battle. To be fought for the next millennium.

The social media echo chamber, the climate, humanitarian crisis, wars, and the overwhelming sense that this is a fight to set things back into balance. To bring about a new age not of some abstract  bliss but of a renewed connection to the earth and all its beings.

It starts with the resistance to injustice and the persistence to be  non-compliant, non-violent. These are the tools for weakening the systems that have fed us an over saturation of polarizing views, unchecked consumerism, fear, othering, doctrines that have served to blind and overwhelm us to the true nature of who we are. Engaged actions on a mass scale are how we are to build a sustainable society and future.

We are all capable of being the Satyagraha.

Peripatetic Odessy

I-81 South Virginia- 2019

Today started with a lot of rain and the random shuffling of tunes from the ipod. From Upper Black Eddy in Pennsylvania along the Delaware river to just south of Harrisonburg Virginia. A short drive in comparison to some of my epic drives this year. The mind often takes a different route into the folds of gray matter. These twists of thoughts, memories and the creative. Today was long, meandering…. an almost slow motion dive into the unresolved. Touching on the work a head, my art, and the still sore and challenging places that are in flux and recently defined.

As good as it can look in social media. My heart still aches some days. Travel doesn’t relocate me. It only forces me to dig deeper to uncover more of the stuff that needs to be addressed. Healed. Shaped.

My universe is a windshield and the stillness of my body going down the road. Like my view of the stars as the earth spins, I see a universe of things pass by: Trees cows, sky, roadside attractions, signs and offerings. And yet for all the movement it seems I haven’t moved at all. I am fixed and solid. An earthling with a very busy brain.

“….You know that feeling you get, just at the edge of winter….when you can’t remember what it felt like to be warm…. My thaw came early and my current is stirring….”

Sarah Biggs (singer/songwriter)

Music has a random uncanny way of triggering tears as well a laughter. The irony or intuition of the random shuffle can almost feel like the powers that be are pulling strings. The Devil might play dice but the Gods play songs with mischievous grins just to see if you are paying attention.

The ridiculousness and the complexity of life… tears heal…. the world rolls by… mind wanders to a new thing.

“…. We’re on a road to nowhere… Come on inside… Taking that ride to nowhere… we’ll take that ride….”

Talking Heads

Plastic Deities

Plastic Kali – 2019

Freedom of religion, an internet connection and the run away consumerism in this country produces some strange things. Odd tokens of spiritual access. Plastic Jesus, Glow in the Dark Mary, Ganesh window decals, Buddha garden statues, all manner of the Pagan pantheon in resin. All cast and readily available in newage shops and the internet. These icons and deities will live forever. Literally.

They also send a mixed message in the now deeply demanding fight for the climate, water, the soil and the morality of this kind of consumption. Unless you live under a rock or practice willful ignorance you know plastic in all its forms is choking the planet. Earth is becoming littered with the cast offs of one use plastic and the durable plastic of everything else.

I went to the Parliament of World’s Religions a few years back. I listened to a panel of women I knew were in the forefront of creating a new way of being on the planet. They were writers, activists, proclaimed environmental protectors of water, seeds, and earth. They spoke of the evils of GMOs and the fight ahead to move towards a sustainable world that protects all life. They said inspiring and useful things.

They also were drinking water from plastic single use bottles. At one point you could see they had to address this and they did by saying they were refilling the bottles. It also felt like they were covering their obvious hypocrisy. It was awkward. And for me personally, it raised alot of questions around the integrity of walking one’s talk.

In 2009 I went to Egypt and experienced mountains of plastic waste, water bottles, and other things that could not be absorbed by the tourist industry of a nation that thrives on the spiritual pilgrimages of others wanting to connect to the mystery that is there. I also saw this first hand in Mexico, Costa Rica, across the United states…. etc…. it made me really aware of the way we are sold the access to these sacred spaces and the impact it has on the people who have for centuries worshipped and revered their heritage. We are guests yet most people see these countries and places as zoos for their personal gain…

Experience colonialism. Spiritual Colonialism. We trap countries and the people in an endless cycle to support our consumption to find ourselves.

The pilgrim, the spiritual seeker is also a consumer of instant gratification and a polluter. This is embodied as spiritual bypass with the acceptance of certain actions for the greater cause at the expense of cultures, art, ideologies, self discovery, that elusive enlightenment that drives this bus.

Adhi Two Owls

The easy of access through social media to other cultures and beliefs has fueled an industry of cheap one time used spiritual experiences that hack away at the deeper practices of how we are part of a complex ecology of consciousness and engaged experiences.

Spiritual education/enlightenment should create a mindful understanding of our connection to a Divinity in whatever name you wish to call it as embodied in the world around us. It needs to offer a process to grow more aware of our interconnectedness and inter-reliance on each other and all things.

This more tangible experience requires sacrifice and work. The knowledge that there are consequences for actions and that an individuals needs are not more important to the whole.

The spirit leftovers of our exploring should be of stuff that can be composted into new ideas and forms. Clay. Wood. Metal. Stone.

Plastic is the material of a false God.

The Moon

Full Moon – 2019

She rose from the horizon full and bright.

Holding back nothing with her glow. The brightness dimmed the heavens. She laughed loudly.

Keeping the stars in their place. Shimmering rays across the surface of the waters….

Adhi Two Owls