Tuesday, May 3, 2011


We, as a country, use and use and use.  We have become heavy on the consumer side of things.  When we do produce, it is being exported out of the country.  We are a country rich in everything, natural resources, technology, agriculture and land but we balk at production.  We say "Hell No!" to mining, to factories, to anything that can affect and effect our environment (which is fine, the environment is important), but we have no problem plundering other nations for their resources.  As long as it is not in our back yard, it is allowable.  We have become dependent on everyone else because we either don't want the mess or the hassle of doing it ourselves.

There needs to be balance, there needs to be a restructuring and innovation.  We are a nation no longer in balance.

I know that I have made a few sweeping generalizations.  I applaud those that are trying to change their attitude and bring us back into balance.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Tattoos have been around for a very long time.  Their meaning and social acceptance has changed widely over time.  They have been used for religious reasons, as sacred art, as punishment, as marks of rank, amulets and talismans, and marks of outcasts.

In some cultures, tattoos are taboo or have negative connotations.  In some cultures they are a way of marking stages of life.  Tattoos can be controversial.

Tattoos are permanent (or at least difficult and painful to remove).  I have four tattoos and each one took deliberation.  Spur of the moment decisions are not bad, this is just how I feel about them.  I have decided to mark my body and tell my story to the world.  Tattoos invite conversation, they are a visible representation of a story that you have to tell.  They can be a proclamation of allegiance, a memory, one's history.  I have tattoos that are visible for all to see and ones that I only show to a select few.  The ones that are visible are statements about myself.  They are abstract conversations with the world.  They are my reminders of hopes and promises.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Often when we think of sanctuary, we think of refuge, a safe place.  A sanctuary is also a holy or sacred place.  It doesn't have to be a building, it can be within us.

I had to build a sanctuary within myself when I was a kid.  It started out as a safe place, a place that could insulate me against a very loud, chaotic, overwhelming world.  I built it stone by stone, a place of quiet, a place to recharge.  As I got older and my coping mechanisms became more ingrained, my sanctuary slowly shifted to a place to contemplate, it became the silence I needed to contemplate and worship the divine.  It also became the place where my memories were stored, where all my life experiences were kept as works of art, as an old library.

It took several mental exercises, imagination and necessity to create this place.  Before I would go to bed I would build my sanctuary a little bit more, add a little more detail, add another memory to my collection.

I later found out that this process had been done before.  If you are curious about memory and internal sanctuaries (or palaces).  The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci by Spence is a good place to start.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Reality is a tricky word.  Reality is based on perception and perception is different for everyone.  Reality is a very individual and unique experience.  Reality can be influenced by majority; get enough people to believe and experience reality in a similar way and you have a new reality.  Reality is always changing, sometimes it is a slow shift and others you won't know what hit you.

We each have our own filters and blinders on.  We, as a people, used to believe that we were the center of the universe, that was our reality, now we don't believe that, we have a new reality.

Since reality is defined by perception, you are in control of your reality.  You are creating and redefining it constantly.  You are in control and with work and focus you can effect conscious change.


I am a firm believer in quests.  I have always had a vivid imagination and lived in my own head (almost too often).  I loved stories of brave quests, quests for treasure, quests for monsters, quests for knowledge.  I used to see everything I did as a quest, I was a brave knight-scholar, ready to adventure and find the answers to everything.  As I got older and reality (the reality that others have tried to push on to me) started to seep in, it depressed me to find that my quests for (insert goal) were slowly becoming unobtainable or even irrelevant.  It felt that there was little to discover any more.  The monsters had all been hunted, the forests explored, the deep dark had been lit up.  There were no more hero's quests.

I was limited in my thinking, I know.  During high school I realized that there were quests and hero(ine)s, there were people who faced life bravely.  There were people who questioned their world, questioned everything.  There were people who had to be brave everyday to battle illness, to battle poverty, to battle corruption.  Our battles are with different kinds of monsters that is all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Paths and Path Finding (An Exercise in Awareness)

When I was little, my mother taught me to be aware of my surroundings, she taught me to be aware of what was going on in my world because there were people and animals and random events that could hurt me.  She said that while I may not be able to prevent everything but by being aware I could prevent somethings from happening.  This lesson left an impression on me.  I strained to be aware of everything.  I practiced keeping my mind open and to use all my senses.  Over the years this has turned out to become a part of my general awareness, it is a habit.

I can walk through crowds of people, trees, animals, etc. without causing much of a disturbance.  I don't know how to describe it other than I am a pathfinder.  I can find the path of least resistance.  It is an odd feeling, an extra awareness, as if I can see 360° at all times and the paths between are marked clearly.  It's not special, it is something that everyone can do with practice.

Start small.  Start with a room that you are mostly familiar with.  Walk around the room and use all of your senses to experience it.  Imagine that your awareness extends around you in a sphere.  Take a deep breath and push that awareness out further.  Feel the ground beneath your feet, what is the material that makes it up?  Are there any subtle shifts or marks?  See, smell, touch and listen to the room.  Do this everyday.  Keep your awareness around you like a bubble.  It is tiring at first but with practice your mental muscles will become stronger.

Start experimenting in different spaces.  Each space you are in will feel different, notice those differences with not just your sight, but with your other senses.  Notice the differences with your bubble of awareness.  Once you get practiced at that you can start trying to path find.

This part of the process is going to be different for everyone.  I have tried to analyze how I do it but all I can say is that I see the possible openings in a crowd or in a natural setting and change and adapt my path forward with each change in opening.  I use my awareness to adapt and change with whatever environment I am in.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Open-minded, Open-hearted

Children look at the world and observe.  They are without prejudice, they have to learn to single out people for being different.  Children are without fear of otherness, they will play with anyone and everyone.  When do we learn to fear?  We learn it from our family, we learn it from our peers.

When I was a kid, my family moved around a lot.  I ended up not going to the same school for more than two years at a time.  I was very shy and quiet as a kid, I preferred the company of grown ups to that of my peers.  Despite these parts of my nature, I made friends.  I wasn't popular in that stereotypical way but no one ostracized me for being shy.  I usually made one best friend, these friends have been friends no matter where I have moved and no matter how long it has been since we have seen each other or talked to each other.  There were times though, where I was pressured to change my friends because they were "weird" or "uncool".  I'll admit that it was a bit much for my young self (I was 12ish).  I didn't have the confidence to stand up to others and say "Hey, these people are wonderful, they have been nice to me and helpful and great."  I am ashamed that I didn't stand up.

When I moved to South America I learned an even more valuable lesson.  I went to Chilean school in Copiapo. It was daunting for many different reasons.  I didn't speak the language, I was shy, it was a culture shock.  I was stuck in a class with about 10 other American/New Zealander students where we completed courses through correspondence and was also put into electives with my Chilean peers to learn the language and get out of the "fishbowl" as we liked to call it.  Before I go on, let me say this, I love my friends that I made in Chile, expat and Chilean.  That being said, if I had been in a normal high school situation, I don't think I would have been friends with any of them, not because there was anything wrong with them, but we would have had different friends, we were all different ages and from different backgrounds  (it was kind of like The Breakfast Club).  We were all incredibly different, with different experiences, different likes, different beliefs.  I think back on it and I feel so privileged to have been given the experience.  The experience taught me to live with an open-heart and open-mind.  It also taught me to be confident in myself and my decisions.  It is how I live my life now.

Having an open-heart/open-mind approach to life has led me to some of the greatest friendships and discussions.  Having an open-heart/open-mind doesn't mean letting people walk all over you or changing your beliefs every time someone comes along with a different opinion, it just means seeing people as people, seeing everyone as worth knowing and talking too.  It doesn't mean that you have to be everyone's friend, it is just seeing the value in a person, in a moment.