The “Living in the Moment” Fallacy

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I’m not sure why some people know what they want to do from a young age, and some don’t.  I used to think people who didn’t were missing something, but then I meet people who claim they are genuinely content to try this and try that, and who believe that open-endedness is fulfilling.  I am not sure I’ve seen actual proof of anyone who is happy that way.  But really is anyone ‘happy?’  It’s a lot to ask.

My gut hunch (which may be wrong for anyone but me) is that the mistake comes in people believing they’re chasing happiness.  They pressure themselves to find something they enjoy, but joy is impossible to sustain, so it leads to inevitable disappointment.  Joy comes naturally, along the way; but it cannot be captured on purpose.

My beloved husband once asked me “do you enjoy writing?”  I stared at him blankly.  I offered some responses, like I need a sense of purpose and I love actualizing my vision.  And he said no.. . I mean do you enjoy writing.  I said, in essence, “can you rephrase the question?”

I did not understand what he was getting at.  Then I finally realized he was actually asking me if I enjoyed writing in the moment – while I’m doing it.  I told him I have no idea why it matters, but the answer is sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.  It can be grueling, obnoxious, there are many days when I want to run around outside or write something new and not read the same stupid thing for the 500th time.  But at the end of the day I feel much better having done it.

I enjoyed playing shows when I was doing music, and I enjoy writing new material; both make me feel cathartic and alive.  But do I enjoy editing, rehearsing, practicing the same few notes for the 100th time?  I don’t know if joy is the word I’d use to describe that. It’s not like it feels as good as making love (though performing or writing new material, does).  But who cares?  My overall outlook toward myself and the world is more positive and I feel overall alive.

I am just not attuned to this idea of “enjoying the moment.”  It is completely nonsensical to me.  The moment on its own is ephemeral, ever changing and passes quickly.  A person can be laughing and happy; then moments later, miserable.  So how would you qualify that experience overall?  Fun?

At any given moment, we have an idea of the past that lead up to it, and an idea of the future before us.  Our memories may be distorted and our future visions may not come to pass; but those ideas are part of EVERY moment.  We can never JUST exist NOW.  No matter how visceral, present and ‘in the flow’ we are, our state of mind is informed by our outlook on life overall. Whether or not we realize it consciously, it is always there.

I’m very visceral and present in the moment. I tune into people completely, I experience sensuality and emotion in full, I love performing, I throw my whole self into whatever I’m doing.  I love bathing, swimming or frolicking in nature; I love channeling arts.  But I don’t enjoy chasing enjoyment.  That very thought makes me feel clausterphobic.

Joy doesn’t come from seeking fun things to do.  It comes from pouring blood, sweat and tears into a challenge.  If I spend the day seeking joy, then after an hour I can no longer find any.

If my beloved would say, ‘let’s spend today having fun,’ the first thing that pops into mind, besides sensual pleasures 😉 – is photoshoots, climbing a mountain or working on the book together.

Lovemaking is wonderful, but a whole day of it doesn’t sound fun to me either.  It may be fun if I framed it as a CHALLENGE, to see how long we could last.  But in general, that sounds like sucking the juice out of an otherwise beautiful experience.  I’d much rather be working.

Transcendence

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Some people propose that we “transcend” by “extinguishing the fire of desire.”  Yet fire is central to our humanity. 
 
“Transcendence of desire” carries a similar message to “Original sin,” claiming that the way we’re built is fundamentally wrong.  Yet for anyone who believes in God, Natural Law, Evolution or Love – this is nonsensical.  Whether God created us or whether we evolved, we are the way we are.  Accepting the way we are and making the best of it, for ourselves and for those around us, is obviously the most we can hope to achieve. Why are people always trying to transcend their own nature? It’s absurd.
 
Animals don’t do this. Animals know more than we do.
 
We don’t look at our dog and think “Why does he crave contact with me? He should stop being so excited about me and reach nirvana.” So why would we do that to ourselves??  The idea of “Original Sin” and “Transcending desire” — is the poison that makes our love impure.  It is natural to desire, to burn with passion; to love.  It is only our shame about our feelings, and our fear of love, which ruins its beauty.
 
Some might claim that peace and clarity are more important than love.  We can avoid the ‘danger’ of heartache by forsaking romance and desire altogether.
 
But, what is the point of it all, then?  Why are we here?  If we’re just going to find ways to be above our desires, and find ‘serenity and clarity’ to avoid danger and pain….. what exactly will fulfill us?  Is it fulfilling to spend our lives depriving ourselves of things we ‘don’t really need,’ just to avoid the possibility of losing them?  Is that really living or is that just surviving?
 
 
 

Villain

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We are all the villain of our own story.
We make the choices that bind us.


If you’re true to yourself, nothing can destroy your integrity. Not even death, because your message will live on in the hearts of others.
There’s no enemy, no villain, except the mechanisms by which you tear yourself down.
We project that villain onto others, and others can serve as ‘tricksters’ or truth-revealers in our own life, to open our eyes to our own biases and push us to confront our demons.
But the only one who can confront your demons is you.
The rest is a backdrop which can only serve as a reminder for what we already know in our hearts.
Anyone who says something like “I’m not a great man, I’m just a regular guy” – wrong. Gandhi and Peterson and MLK also were just regular people.
There’s nothing about anyone that inherently makes them great, or destined for greatness.
“Privilege” may make the path easier, but in and of itself, it does not ensure greatness or mediocrity.
Those choices come only from us.

You can be a “great man” or “great woman” in the context of your own life.
Not everyone has to be world famous, to be great.
Mediocrity is a temptation that lures us. It’s easier to avoid making waves.
When you make a statement, grow and expand, you come up against boundaries, challenges and difficulties.
It’s easier to say “fuck it, I’ll just do what’s easy, what remains unchallenged.”
And the idea of a villain or an enemy is also tempting.
It’s easier, it’s the path of least resistance – to hate and fear another person, instead of delving into ourselves.
The peaceful path is not always the wrong path. Sometimes excess drama and challenge is also the path of least resistance, a projection of “war” out into the world instead of focusing on the battles inside us, which are most important.
The path of least resistance comes in many forms, and all of them are the devil’s lure.
Our character is determined by whether or not we succumb.

Flaws

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I don’t think of people as having flaws. I think of every quality a person has as potential.
Let’s suppose you start with being a very receptive person. Your worst potential then is to lose your own voice completely; whereas a possible best potential is to channel and navigate the energies of the world.
Any quality someone has, has potential to be their best or worst.

I’ve always said, my best AND worst quality is my passion. My passion can go to the realm of manic obsession, singularity of focus at the expense of all else.. or it can get channeled in a way that inspires others.

I’m a vampire at my worst and a vessel at my best.
Is that a flaw? No. Is it an asset? No.
It’s whatever I make it.
But trying to be something else..to embody something that isnt naturally “me” … is.. not going to work.

I think it’s best to discover what makes you “you” and then channel it.
And in channeling it, there will be mistakes, there will be glory, there will be pain…
but as long as there’s growth, it is worth it. Nothing worth having comes easy. Nothing worth DOING or BEING comes easy.
I have always been very hyper aware of whats wrong with me as in, what other people can’t accept or can’t love; but I also feel like I’d be fine if only I was on my home planet.
But, I’m not.. so the best I can do is bring memories of my home planet to Earth, to help others discover themselves, to communicate, to give them ..whatever it gives them. Hope, escape, introspection…whatever.
Not everyone will care or notice. But I can only share my own truth.
What more can anyone do?

When people start thinking in terms of “flaws” vs. “assets,” what they’re really doing is plugging in to what others want or expect them to be.
When they think of themselves as “potential” or “energy” ….
then perhaps there’s a chance of learning what to do with that energy.

“Flaws” is a myth that society has drilled into us.
Something is only a flaw if you let it destroy you.

Illusion

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Does it really matter if the inner self is an illusion?

It could be argued that love is an illusion, or life is an illusion. The difference between dream and reality, making love and fucking, friendship and acquaintance – lies wherever you decide to believe in it. The moment you stop believing it, it is no longer real.

The same goes for identity.  Some people may be driven to spend their whole lives figuring out who they are, because it’s a compulsion to do so, even if they admit that origin and identity are constructs that exist because we decide to believe in them, give credence to them and invest in them. Others might give this construct less credence. 

But, I don’t understand what the point is, in dismantling the construct. To me, it doesn’t matter if something is objectively ‘real’ or not. I’m subjective, and if I have to make one ‘objectively true’ statement about myself, it’s that I’ll never be objective or unbiased. Nobody can ever be. And to me, doubting the very source of my passions and feelings is unnatural and unproductive. I’m naturally driven to take my feelings at face value, and dissect the patterns behind them. And I don’t see how that makes me worse than someone who doesn’t invest in their self or identity.

I don’t disagree that self is an illusion – I just wonder at what point it’s productive to fold my mind over and over upon itself to dismantle my passions. When I say productive, I mean toward personal growth; I don’t mean “achievement-oriented” or “inducing concrete results.”

I have already realized the concept of self is illusory long, long ago. I read several books by Herman Hesse and Carlos Casteneda when I was 11 or 12, and in my later teens and early 20s I deconstructed and reconstructed myself thoroughly with the use of LSD – which I used for spiritual reasons, personal growth, self-searching, artistic development and so on. I am more than aware of the simple truths like “Self is an ego construct” but I wonder what good it does me to dwell on dismantling it, rather than to express it and trust my intuitions. If there’s one thing I learned through my losses, trauma and soul searching, it’s that life has no inherent meaning – it’s up to us to give it meaning.  And having a sense of purpose is what gives my life meaning.  My sense of purpose goes beyond understanding myself- it extends to the realm of expressing myself in the most honest, bare, authentic way I experience it.  And doubting all my experiences and feelings does not help me to do that, but rather, turns in on itself and gets me nowhere. I already know life could be a dream and my sense of self could be deconstructed.. but so what? 

Each LSD trip was like cleaning out my house. Imagine putting all your stuff outside, leaving it to chance – it could be stolen, it could rain or snow. You cant get rid of the shape of your house… that’s your body, your container. All of the things inside it are your identity construct, your feelings, your aesthetic, your ideas, your values, the things you chose to define and expand yourself. So now, those things are outside and anything could happen to them. As the trip winds down over several hours, you decide which things are important or helpful and bring them back in first, and arrange them in a new way that makes more sense now that you’ve seen your container empty. You leave outside the things that are too heavy or taking up unnecessary space.

I could do this over and over and over, but I don’t find it productive at this point. My house has been arranged in a certain way that is conducive to writing music, recording my albums, writing my books, building on the constructs and choices that have emerged from my self-exploration. I could take LSD or do other things to clean it out again and leave it empty over and over, but then I will never build on it, I will never expand beyond it; I will only reflect on myself ad nauseum, like an endless, eternal hall of mirrors, and I will never simply BE with myself the way I chose to build myself, and put something out for the world, something that I CHOSE to give meaning to, something that feels like a purpose and gives me impetus to wake up every morning and keep going. Which would be the more logical and emotionally satisfying and HONEST choice? Growth is about embodying ourselves, taking action, expressing ourselves out in the world.. basically, turning the hall of mirrors outward instead of reflecting on ourselves until we’re empty and our lives are meaningless and we are utterly isolated.

Soulmate

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When we meet someone who stirs us to the core, we feel vulnerable. Then we will go to great lengths to protect ourselves, even do stupid things, or things that are inadvertently cruel. Even the most reasonable, dignified, respectful person will falter when feeling vulnerable. The eyes of a soul mate unravel you, make you feel naked. When your humanity is exposed, your animal instinct is to protect it. 

If you’ve been perfect in romance, and treated your partners perfectly, you haven’t loved. You haven’t confronted your humanity. If you confront this only in private, you haven’t made yourself vulnerable to someone else. To make yourself vulnerable to someone else is to expose your weaknesses, fears, shame and rage, bare for them to see. To accept theirs in turn. To follow them to the darkest, most frightening, torturous corners of their psyche. Mentally, this is to dive into lava and tornadoes, to stand naked in a snowstorm, to follow them into the void, to their fear of death, to their childhood traumas, just to be with them, so they won’t be alone there. To open yourself up to chance; to surrender control. 

After experiencing various levels of surrender and openness, one may feel that a soul mate truly knows them, and has seen them bare. There may be love, honesty and mutual acceptance. Ideally that would be the case in any relationship or friendship. But what separates a soulmate from the regular companion or lover is that a “soul mate” would not be dependent on a relationship. It is an unbreakable bond. It just is. A soul mate just is. You can fight as hard as you want to break the bond, you can walk away for years, you can marry someone else, you can deny it to the skies, but still, your soul mate just IS. To use a word like “soul,” one implies transcendence of desire, lust, and fear. Of course, those human elements are real and will never disappear, but when we truly accept and recognize a soul mate, the bond is beyond that. Frustrations and fear of loss will be there, but the outcome becomes irrelevant because the soul is stirred by something beyond. In recognizing a soul mate, we recognize ourselves, here and now. The synchronicity between you will push you both to grow, just as watching yourself in the mirror pushes you to pose in a more beautiful way. If your mirror had an emotional reaction, posing would not be enough. You would work out, eat right, care for your skin and hair, change your lifestyle just for that smile. The difference is, for a “soul mate,” this person mirrors your innards. Your mind, your soul, your humanity.

When someone sees you, watches you, unravels you, exposes you; you want to give, to grow, to be better in order to inspire that person, because you will see yourself through their eyes. You will never wonder whether that person is doing it for you in return, because it just is; expressing yourself to this person is being true to yourself, and it feels natural. Giving them anything less than your all feels unnatural; it feels like trying to stand still while the tide is pushing against you. Most people will do this for some time, resisting the forces of nature to try to feel like they are in control, to feel a sense of free will, to take a stand. But once you have recognized and accepted that you have met your soul mate, and grown enough to surrender to that force, you work with the tide without losing your own will. Your will is the will of the world. Giving your all is a natural process of revelation and growth, and all that matters is that this process is happening. It is honest, true; it is now, and it is infinity. With or without labels, commitments, sex, promises, or expectation, it simply is.

The trials and tribulations of corporeal life cannot touch something that is truly sacred. But we cannot recognize what is truly sacred until we, ourselves, have evolved. To recognize something greater than ourselves requires humility. Meeting a soul mate is not an easy, happy ride. It is a life changing experience that digs up all of our demons and fears, and forces us to face our humanity.

Memories

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Memories are the devil’s lure, tempting us to remain immobile. Good memories tempt us with their sweet song and lead us to resent ourselves and others for their impermanence. Bad memories lure us to succumb to cynicism. Memories are just as fantastical as dreams for the future. They exist only as constructions in our present mind. Memories and dreams are tools to use in the present. If we use them as tools, they can be harnessed to enact our passion and purpose so that we are living in the present with a powerful feeling of being part of something greater than ourselves. The journey becomes the destination. All feelings and thoughts about past and future can be harnessed in the present, but they must be understood as mental constructions or else they will lure us deeper into themselves.

Animalism

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I am animal, human, and symbol at once. Animal is my instinct, appetite and desire; my will to survive.  Human is my mind, ideas, and imagination.  Symbol is my identity and legacy; my place in the world.  Symbol is the only one that will transcend mortality but in and of itself, it’s out of my control, as it is dependent upon how other people view me.  If Animal and Human harmonize to attain clarity of purpose, then Symbol would reflect my sense of self.  

There was a time in my life when I was stripped of my goals, my dreams, my youth, my independence, my pride. All that was left of me was my will to survive.  I battled imminent death for months, unable to move or swallow, then emerged with most of my faculties, but not my voice, which was my passion, purpose, identity, and lifeblood. Beyond that, I knew I would be dependent on expensive medicines indefinitely, unable to work much.  My IQ was lower due to brain damage from high fevers, I lost my hair, I had arthritis which made walking difficult, and I could not sleep without an onslaught of medications.

I was stripped of my humanity and laid bare. My photography and self-expression was the only thing that made me more than just an animal at the time. At the very best, this turned me into a symbol. The art represented what I really was: a naked, scratched and bruised animal, with nothing to love but its memories of being human. My photos displayed this. Outside of artwork all I wanted was to feed, fuck and compete. I had no friends, only allies and adversaries. I had no love, only flesh and innocence upon which to feed.

What it means to be an animal, stripped of your humanity, is: fearless, shameless, apathetic. Fearlessness is not courage, shamelessness is not confidence, and apathy is not strength. These states of mind are emptiness, nothingness, animalism. Some people reach this state and don’t want to live but, having fought for my life, I was in touch with my survival instincts. I wanted to survive, and I had this tiny modicum of hope that one day, I would live again. That the ghost of my past would be resurrected. 

I crashed and burned until the phoenix burst and I was reborn over and over… and each time, I came closer to finding my passion and purpose, until finally I sang lead through my whisper on my album which was the last piece of the puzzle that made me human again. Human: compassionate, vulnerable, scared, ashamed, angry, open, wounded, alive.

In my case, this episode of animalism has been deeply incorporated into my understanding of myself and the world. For a while, I tried to reject the animal altogether, but then it came back full force, twice as hungry. The only way to move past it was to stop hating it. To embrace it. To love it. To know that it is part of me, but there is also more to me than just that. I am animal, human and symbol at once. 

Embrace the animal and you will know what makes you human as well as what makes you you, what gives you identity and place in the world. When someone rejects their inner animal – or mine – honest communication is impossible.

Desire

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Soul-shaking, earth-shattering passion is something that grabs hold of you. It’s not something you can look for. When it grabs hold of you, there’s nothing in the world that isn’t worth doing to make it work. It’s no longer about pride, dignity, power, influence, control. All it is, is life. It comes along with the natural impetus to be more selfless; to be a better, bigger person. To grow beyond the capacity we thought ourselves capable. 

No matter how unrealistic, illogical, nonsensical and impractical desire may be, a feeling like that is what living is about. It’s the difference between living and surviving. It’s worth hurting for, fighting for, yearning for, suffering for. The roller coaster ride of desire and obsessions is painful and can make a person want to shut down and regain control for the sake of sanity. But that would be surviving, not living. I will do everything in my power to embrace the dreams and challenges that bring me to life.  Desire is insanity. Or perhaps it’s the least insane instinct of all.

Power

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Power is having the strength to overcome adversity. Building up influence, building skills, saving money to be autonomous; these can help inner strength to build through self-esteem that results from hard work and effort. But true power is within yourself. When all else falls apart for reasons beyond your control, power is having the strength to stand strong, stay true to yourself, hold on to your integrity, and triumph.

Power is resisting the urge to betray your integrity, become vengeful, angry, hostile and self-destructive, when life fucks you over. Power is keeping your eye on your goals and moving forward no matter what else happens. Power is trusting yourself. If you have your integrity, you will always have power.

Power is rising above the trials in your life to keep the dreams of your childhood in sight, even when the world has stripped you of everything else. No matter how out of reach your dreams may seem, there is always a path back to them, and that path is inside of you. As long as you remember how to find your dreams, you will have power.

Inner strength and fidelity to self is mastery of life. As long as you have that, you are an unstoppable force. You don’t have to scramble to ‘get power’ because you already have it, and nobody can take it away from you.