Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An Astonishing Rebellion

There was a magnificent sunset this morning. Reminded me of some of the early mornings I experienced traveling through Europe many years ago. Austria specifically, and the Swiss Alps. We’re privy to so many spectacular, and miraculous, moments when awake before the dawn; there is an anticipation of the grandeur, with an expectation of brilliance that never disappoints. It is a time of day where there is only a welcoming, there is no conflict, and there is never a discordant note. Goodbye has been reserved for the darkness. There is a newness, there is a hopeful rising from within, there is the graciousness of another harmonious beginning. Life in the early morning becomes like a private screening of your favorite movie; no one else around to distract you from the experience, to diminish, or compromise, its beauty. No congestive sounds, or abrasive dispositions, in the morning. It is an alone time, and it can be shared, but only with those who are inclined to immerse themselves in its magic.

I open my arms and throw them wide around this astonishing rebellion. And it is a rebellion, notable in that it asserts itself without compromise; it separates itself from the darkness, from the imposition of the status quo. It paints its own masterpiece, by its own hand, and accepts its work as absolute, lacking nothing but one’s immersion into its conspicuous generosity.
I linger there in the morning, most mornings,
and I wish it would extend itself deeper into the day.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Man I Am Becoming Is The Man That I Will Be

You’re probably already asking, “Whadaya Mean? Aren’t you about sixty years old by now, and fully who you’re going to be? Yep, that’s right, I am sixty, and that’s why I’m called The OLD Coyote. But to think that a man becomes who he is at an earlier age, and then remains there, presupposes that one stops growing, changing, and developing. Truth is, what I did, and how I lived, yesterday still influences how I am, and who I am, today. That’s both the beauty, and the curse, of life.

It’s like those ‘string balls’ people make. Some people collect string to make a ball, they add every little bit of string they find, and keep adding it to the ball, forever, it seems. The ball keeps getting bigger, heavier, changing shape and color. All of the string contained in the ball is part of the ball. It’s what makes up the ball. Once the string is added, and layered over with more string, it becomes a permanent part of the ball. It doesn’t matter how long ago the string was added. It doesn’t matter how deep in the ball it’s buried. It’s part of the ball. And it will always be part of the ball. As the ball gets older, larger, deeper, and more complex, the inner core becomes less visible, but no less important. Ultimately, however, the ball will be what the ball is on the day that the person who’s been making it stops adding string. It is the size it will be. It is the weight it will be. It is the shape it will be. And it is the color it will be. The beginning of the ball, or the middle even, is no less important than the finishing touches.

We’re a lot like that as people.
It’s important to me who I am today, but it is equally important to me who I was yesterday, and who I will be tomorrow, or at the end of my life. My life will be made up of all the days I’ve lived, not just the most recent ones.

We are the sum total of every day that we have lived.
The man I am becoming is the man that I will be.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Phony Angels Of Light

“Sometimes Satan comes as a Man of Peace.”
Bob Dylan said that.

Now, Bob Dylan is not the ultimate authority, far from it I would presume. But he bears paying attention to by virtue of the fact that he is a well read, self-educated, and very well traveled Troubadour. Dylan has a gift of words, but besides that, and most importantly, he has developed the gifts of honesty, of seeing, and of understanding, to enhance his ability to communicate. They are, what has become, his human, and artistic brilliance. The gift of words, without honesty, without seeing, and without understanding, is just a shallow imitation of wisdom. It would make him a pretender, rather than a sage. Dylan has wedded these gifts like light is connected to the break of day.
One cannot see, or understand, the broader world without first seeing, and understanding, himself. There are a lot of pretenders out there. A lot of self-absorbed, self-ordained, wordy, pseudo-spiritual pied-piper wannabe’s mumbling senseless concepts like they were truth: People who are actually afraid of seeing, or understanding, themselves; afraid they’ll come up wanting on anybody’s scale of significance. People who feel their choice of cereal in the morning to be of actual importance to somebody other than themselves. To complicate matters, some of them are actually well meaning, just lost in their own reflection.
But most of them are not. Most of them are quite calculating.

There has, unfortunately, been no shortage of these narcissists willing to fill the void found in the inadequacy of others.
The 60’s gave us Timothy Leary, and Baba Ram Dass (Richard Alpert), who, by the way, attached himself to Bob Dylan like a leach to his groin. Dylan had the good sense to eventually disassociate himself from Mr. Dass, knowing that he was just a phony angel of light. He was really about drugs, and satisfying his own lust. These wannabe sages have surfaced in every generation. Funny, how they actually all start out pretending they’re about enlightenment, but end up really just being about sex and drugs.
The 70’s gave us Moses David and the Children of God, Werner Erhard’s EST, Berkeley’s Adi Da/Bubba Free John and India’s Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. There was also Korea’s notorious Sun Myung Moon (the Moonies).
In the 80’s it was Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Jim and Tami Faye Bakker, (along with many other disingenuous, and dysfunctional, Christian evangelists).
The 90’s brought L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology to the forefront through David Misavige, while Kabbalah came into it’s own prominence by means of the L.A. Center’s leader, ‘Rabbi’ Michael Berg. We have countless ‘laughing gurus’, Amma, the ‘hugging guru’, the mysterious Maitreya, ‘world teacher’, and others too numerous to mention. This bourgeoning spiritual underbelly continues to solicit our attention, knowing instinctively when we, as a culture, are ripe for bogus spiritual influence.
And, we have never been as ripe as we are right now.
Failed ministers, self-aggrandizing poets, and unscrupulous psychology-philosophy-theology professors are rushing in to ‘meet the need’.

Most of the self-proclaimed prophets, seers, and psychological droolers I’ve mentioned have overlapped the decades, and have, in fact, carried on well into the present; but they are stale, as lies and half-truths eventually become. Countless others, however, are joining in the guru competition, picking up disillusioned young people, disenfranchised middle-agers, and celebrities of all sorts along the way. These unscrupulous ‘ministers of light, and love’ have always targeted the psychologically needy, quickly transforming them into myopic, self-deluded followers they can very easily continue to manipulate. They have always targeted self-absorbed celebrities as well, who will, ultimately, do their recruiting for them. Celebrities have money, they’re high profile, many of them are some of the biggest idiots on the planet, and they’re often starved for some kind of spiritual substance in their lives. But more importantly, they influence the rest of us, assuring that these babbling figureheads have a constant flow of money, and adulation, to support their egocentric pathologies.
Do I sound serious about my disdain for manipulators of the weak and the unconscious?
You picked right up on that.

You really can’t do anything about these people, but ignore them. I don’t have much sympathy for the privileged followers, they have choices, but unfortunately, a lot of impressionable young people don’t know enough to ignore them because these ‘emissaries of consciousness’ dispense their blather in attractive packages. But once in awhile their true nature gets revealed. Once in awhile they sell another piece of their own soul, wrapped in the same attractive package they’ve been selling their senseless concepts in. I’m not talking about the Snoopdog’s of the world, or the Ed Rosenthal’s, or the other dime-store philosophers who dispense ‘wisdom’ out of a baggie. Everybody knows what to expect from those losers. I’m talking about the phony angels of light, and love, the proclaimers of peace, who stoop to their baser nature one day, selling their followers the poison they’ve been using, and the next day delivering the same old enlightenment mantra out of both sides of their disingenuous mouth.
Reminds me of what Devo once said about themselves.
“We are not men.”
Devo, however, was spoofing their own persona.
These people are not.

What if one day these guys just decided to stand up and be men? Not male imitators, but actual men? Men do not manipulate others to exalt themselves, or to get ahead. And they do not spout new-age blather to seduce the naïve.
Being a man is facing life, and the world, as it is, and dealing with it from a position of honesty and INTEGRITY. It is calling duplicitous behavior what it is, dishonest, whether it be one’s own, or someone else’s. Being a man is in not attaching integrity to whatever one decides to do. That is called relativity. It is in not creating one’s own relative world to float around in like a jellyfish, dispensing anesthesia like it were some kind of illumination. And it is not being a phony angel of light, and love. Although Bob Dylan uses Satan in an illustrative sense, the sentiment, nevertheless, is as profound as the sun is hot.
“Sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace.”
Or light, or love.
Or consciousness.

I don’t understand why these morally impotent frauds don’t just get honest with themselves? It would give them the stature they’ve always sought, but which has eluded them like light underground. And it would help them cut the strings to kill the phony dance they are orchestrating as their own proverbial puppet masters.

If you know one of these guru’s, or guru wannabe’s, I would suggest you separate yourself from him, or her. They will sweeten the pudding with just enough sugar to disguise the flavor of the poison.

I understand that.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What God Has Enabled

About four or five days ago, on an island in a granite lake, a water snake slithered from the depths to the shore just to inform us that we were more than welcome at his party, just as long as we did not pee in the pool. We got an unexpected lift from watching his brief, but playful, little water dance.

Three days ago at another nearby lake, as our canoe glided serenely across the water like a sled on ice, an otter sat on a rock and greeted us as if we had come to share a meal. We came very close to pulling up chairs at his table before he quietly slipped into the water to lazily soak up the remainder of a lingering day.

The day before yesterday, as I was walking through the woods with my dog, a magnificent Buck paused to consider whether or not we posed a danger to him. Deciding we did not, he continued to forage for a little while before walking off into the broader expanse of his own back yard.
I followed the footprints of a solitary bear cub meandering back towards my barn.

Sitting at my computer early yesterday morning, writing the next installment of ‘Coyote Tracks’, I looked up from my work to see a beautiful young coyote playfully loping up the path outside my window, as if he didn’t have a care in the world, as if nature were his birthright. Something we have all but forgotten about ourselves. It was a moment in time, but a special snapshot to file with a growing collection of other images I’ve been given to make my time on earth more enjoyable.
Gifts left on the doorstep of life.

And then this morning it’s been a mid-summer thunder and lightening spectacular. I can barely contain my sense of awe and wonder at the provision God has enabled for my amusement,

and appreciation.

Friday, July 10, 2009

One Hundred People In The World

Sometimes I think there are only about one hundred people in the world. One hundred people, but duplicated many times over. Could be one hundred and ten, or twenty-five, or something like that, but you get the point.
I notice people. I notice them everywhere. I notice them all the time, I notice people like some men notice cars, or breasts. In fact, there is never a time when I’m around people that I do not actually notice them. And one thing I’ve noticed is that there do not seem to be any people who do not look just like someone else I’ve seen, or known.
Even myself.
I really think there are only about one hundred people.

Often, when I find myself in a crowd, I’ll look around and notice each individual. I will invariably realize that I have been in that same crowd before. Not only are the individual faces very familiar, but the, seemingly, unique collection of faces in that place will be just as familiar as the individual faces themselves.

For many years I just found this all to be very interesting, not necessarily profound, just matter of fact. But eventually I realized that when it feels like I’ve seen someone, or a group of people, before, it’s because I actually have. The names may be different, the addresses, the experiences, the lives, and lifestyles, the professions; but his, hers, or their faces are the same faces I’ve seen before. Sometimes many times before.
And I’m not just talking about faces either. When I notice someone I’ve seen before I also notice that their body language, their mannerisms, their gait in walking, the way they smile, or contort their face in expression, these things all tend to be the same. And I’m not just talking about vague similarities, but actualities.

So, what’s going on? Am I living in a time warp? Is it a parallel universe, an unknown dimension? Are there really just a few sets of actual parents in the world, all having identical babies? And, are people being re-cycled, but existing in a way that their lives overlap, rather than with there being an ultimate continuation of the same life? I don’t know, I’m just asking.
I do know, however, that there is a phenomena called ‘The 100th Monkey’. And it is the discovery that when one hundred monkeys on an isolated island began developing a certain behavior completely foreign to their species, it soon became apparent that other monkeys, in other geographical locations began exhibiting the same behavior. Now animal behaviorists attribute it to a consciousness that cannot be contained geographically, and that makes very good sense since thoughts, most certainly, cannot be managed by boundaries. But with my observation of people looking alike all over the world, I’m now beginning to wonder if maybe the monkeys that began imitating the original one hundred are actually those same one hundred monkeys, duplicated many times over, thus maintaining the same consciousness.
Again, I don’t know, I’m just wondering out loud.

I once saw my little brother on the streets of San Francisco. I was very surprised because I didn’t know he was going to be in the City. I saw him from across the street, and wasn’t sure it was really him, so I watched him for a minute or two to be certain. When I was sure it was my brother I crossed the street, greeted him, and started to give him a hug. But, to my total shock and immediate disorientation, my little brother had somebody else’s voice.
I’ve also seen myself on several occasions, with a certainty that caused me to check in with myself to be sure I was here, and not over there in the check-out line at the market. And when I was in Bologna, France many years ago two young men, Patrice, and Phillippe, stopped to listen to me play guitar and sing in the town square. To my surprise, and consternation, they began to weep, both of them, but they were also kind of rejoicing, and carrying on. As it turns out, their best friend, Stephen (*), had been killed in an auto accident a few days earlier. They could not be convinced that I was not their friend. We went to a small café to talk. They kept touching me, as if they were not really sure that I was actually alive, thinking I might be an apparition, or something. One of them pulled a newspaper article from his wallet and showed me the picture of their friend. And, yes, it was me! There is absolutely no doubt about it, it was me.
I am one of those one hundred people in the world.
I’m sure you are as well.

*(Read the lyrics to the song “Weep for Stephen” on the ‘Song Lyrics 2’ page of the Old Coyote website.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mental Chronicles 2

-So the Jackson family was going to charge admission, but has now decided to make it a ‘free’ memorial service for Michael.
Such sensitivity on their part. Such a benevolent gesture. Imagine that, not having to buy a ticket to worship (I mean honor) somebody that has died.
I would like to have been present to see the shoving match between Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to see who gets to conduct the celebrity studded carnival. My money’s on Sharpton, since he’s already proposed an official Michael Jackson National Day of Mourning. Are you Fu***ing kidding me?

And I wouldn’t mind having the concession rights to that event.
That family is going to make off of Michael in one day, more money than they’ve made, collectively, in their own careers. And the eventual windfall from future exploitation of him will make them all wealthy enough to buy their own adulation.

I’ve already left instructions for my family that when I die, they are to offer five dollars to anyone willing to come and mourn at my funeral, and ten to whoever can make themselves cry.

-You’ve seen the benches installed in parks, on overlooks, and in town squares, with the plaque’s indicating the bench was placed there in honor of an individual who passed on. It usually denotes the person’s date of birth and death, and implies that the person was particularly fond of that special place. It always makes me smile when I see them, and I usually stop and sit on them for at least a few minutes to experience what that person might have felt in that place.
When I move on from this life I’d like for benches to be placed along the byways, and back-roads, benches for the loner, for the underdog, for the disabled, for the misbegotten, the abandoned, the forsaken, and forlorn. Places for the restless traveler to pause.
Not that I am that person, but that there are so very many of them.
Unknown, and un-recognized,
for even being alive.

-I think that, generally, everybody’s doing the best they can. And I think everybody’s best ebbs and flows like the tide.
But just because people might be AT their best during the flow, and not quite UP TO their best during the ebb, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not still DOING their best during the ebb. It’s just that the ebb pulls us back, while the flow carries us along.
We need both. Worth remembering.
No need to get so down on ourselves.

Question: But what’s an Ebb?

-Every new situation comes with a new set of challenges and obligations.
It is why some people avoid new situations.

-Brought home a fully re-conditioned, gray and red 1952 Ford 8N tractor the other day. It has one of those ‘floating’ seats.
The tractor looks pretty good under my skinny butt.
And even I look pretty good riding that old dinosaur.

-What if everyone dressed for comfort, and for the weather, rather than for the
attention that one’s style garners from friends and strangers?
Should practicality ever win out over superficiality, we might just discover that
we’re all basically the same.
Scary thought, huh?

-When the rains come we all get wet together, whether we be privileged, on the
fringes of life, or caught somewhere in the middle. The rain brings a certain
equality to us all.

-Was channel surfing the other night and passed by an ET promo for a segment on Mary Kate Olson (of the Olson twins). Didn’t stick around to watch it, but the emphasis of the tease for the segment was that Mary Kate had survived a bad hair day. I thought, as I went past the program, that in her world that was comparable to a young woman in Darfur surviving another day of brutality, thirst, starvation, homelessness, and separation from family. It’s a tough life for the Olson’s. Those spoiled, and privileged Darfurians should have it so bad.

- Is anybody tired yet of people constantly interviewing themselves, usurping the job from the actual interviewer in order to ask (themselves) only the questions they want to answer? And have you noticed how conversations in real, everyday life have taken on that same dynamic? Does every utterance have to be a question and answer? Have people become incapable of making statements, and letting those statements stand on their own?
I mean, “Am I tired of people constantly interviewing themselves?” You bet I am. “Have I had enough of all the self-importance?” Yes, I have.
“Do I wish everybody would stop all this self-aggrandizement?” Well, yes, I wish they would stop, but do I think they will?” Of course not.

- That ancient western philosopher, Coyocious says,
“Don't let them sell you that strait and narrow,
they'd like to suck your bones down to the marrow.
But if the road doesn't fork, my friend, and the road doesn't turn,
You will never even know what you might have learned.”

-Was working in the forest on my property the other day. Had some tools with me that I’d bungee-chorded to the tractor. I’d set the bungee chord down on a tree stump, and later, when I picked it up it started moving.
Freaked me out. My bungee chord had suddenly become a snake. It was about the same color as the chord, and had intertwined itself with the bungee. In any event, my first thought was “That’s how some disingenuous people gain access to other people. They blend in with them and pretend they’re one of them, the worst kind of opportunists.”
Sorry, but I just think about those things.

-There’s no place like home.
And there’s no home like the place where you feel loved.

-Love is like a warm memory. You can’t embrace it, but it fills you from the inside out.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Death Of Our Own Self Respect

Is anybody but me getting just a little sick of all this idolatry of Michael Jackson? When is enough going to be enough? He was not a saint. He did not cure cancer. And he did not change our lives in any way, shape, or form. Let’s get real here, people.
What he did do is legitimize pedophilia (I mean man/child love), denial, and dysfunction. Not to mention setting an example of fraud, duplicity, dishonesty, and deceit for all his young followers to learn from. And they did.

And if memory serves me well (and it does), he also introduced into our terminology, the concept of ‘haters’. It was in response to those who questioned his behavior, and intentions, with children. Consequently, the (now) twenties/early thirties generation has adopted the use of the label to pin on anybody who questions an intention, or behavior, of their own. Never before has there been such a convenient way to dismiss personal responsibility and accountability. Call the questioner a hater, and the issue is over.
Name-calling and labels, rather than changing one’s behavior, or offering an intelligent defense of one’s position. A seventh-graders response to life. How convenient, but, well, let's consider the source.
You even hear the term being used in the halls of Congress by idiots who cannot support their own intentions with anything even resembling facts or logic. But they get their bills passed by calling the other side a bunch of ‘haters’.
The Michael Jackson mentality at work in our own government.

Will somebody please take the time to consider the message we’re sending our children, and grandchildren, when we participate in the deification of a figure such as Mr. Jackson?
If we need to purge our own sins of complicity in his degeneration, and death, why don’t we just go to confession, instead of making him into a martyr, a Christ figure who died for our sins? Never in history has one event shown the depth and breadth of our dysfunction.
Not to mention the death of our own self-respect.

But hey, call me a hater.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In My Mind I Was In England

Jim and I were best friends in, and just out of, High School. As was the case with so many young people at the time, we were relatively troubled souls. Mind you, this was the 60’s, and the beginning of a mass personal, and cultural, revolution. Because of, and in keeping with the times, we were in the habit of taking a lot of LSD. And with our ever-increasing use of the hallucinogenic it was becoming, predictably, difficult for us to differentiate between Wonderland and that other world some people often referred to as Reality.

Like a couple of happy idiots, we had no compunction about driving under the intoxicating sway of this enlightenment drug. It even had a power of persuasion that convinced us that we could actually drive better under it’s cathartic influence. Eventually, however, we fell into the dangerous and reckless habit of driving on the wrong side of the road. Big surprise.
Jim and I would take acid and go for long drives in the country, the mountains sometimes. We were two people who imagined things, dreamers I suppose, if that’s what dreamers do. If we could somehow put ourselves in unusual, foreign, or exotic situations, we usually would. Of course, LSD helped us do that. It didn’t require that we leave the country, or even our house for that matter. But we did drive quite a bit, and we did play out many of the scenes we imagined.

We talked a lot about England. It had a pretty profound musical influence on us, and on our culture at the time, so it was only natural that, as kids, we’d fantasize about the place. Under the influence of LSD, many long discussions about going to England turned into thinking that we actually were there. We’d hop over the centerline and drive on the left side of the road, usually at night, and often without lights, the road lit only by the brilliance of the moon. It was mysterious, and it was romantic. Our initial pretending had obviously morphed into a self-delusion of the most dangerous kind. We’d drive, unaware of any peripheral reality, unconcerned even, just wanting to feel what it was like to be in England, and before long we’d actually believe we were in England. If we became aware of a car approaching from up ahead, in our lane, we’d think some maniac was driving on the wrong side of the road, and if we didn’t move quickly over into the right hand lane, the wrong lane to us, but actually the correct one, there would be some immediate trouble looming large. As the car passed, we’d comment on what a dangerous driver the guy was, oblivious to oncoming traffic. Maybe even suicidal. He could have gotten us killed. We were thinking responsibly, but of course, having crossed the line from consciousness to hallucination, as happens, we had everything pinned to the corkboard upside down.

We took many of these drives, and enjoyed our time in England. We were shocked, however, to say the least, by the number of people over there that couldn’t stay on the correct side of the road. At the time we reasoned that they must have been visiting Americans with cultural brain lock. Or maybe they were on drugs.
In retrospect, it’s frightening to think of how many people we endangered by our actions. And how very different life would have been, for them, and for us, had we not been so lucky.

There was one occasion, driving in the mountains late one night, when Jim and I nearly lost our lives. We were in his MG convertible. He was driving. It was a very curvy stretch of road above Lake Arrowhead in the San Bernardino Mountains. He was taking the curves at a pretty good clip, feeling the road, and feeling invincible. The road sign up ahead depicted an arrow making a complete loop, indicating a horseshoe turn. Jim and I looked at each other, simultaneously, and in disbelief, as if to say, “No curve could be that sharp!” Jim ignored the sign and did not slow down. We missed the turn, heading quickly for, what proved to be, a two, or three-hundred-foot cliff. The front tires went over the edge, but as we slid to the side the rear axle got caught up on some rocks. We balanced there, precariously, in shock, in the dark, and frightened beyond measure. We carefully climbed out over the trunk and back up onto solid ground. Wonderland had suddenly become that proverbial reality we’d always heard so many people talking about.

A few months later Jim drove his car over a cliff and was killed. He flew off into an empty sky above Azusa Canyon like an adolescent Condor on its maiden flight.
I was not with him.
But I feel like I was.

We ignored a lot of signposts in life when we were younger.
I do my best not to ignore them now.

I’ve carried Jim’s death with me for 42 years.
We are never free of our past associations.

Or of our contribution to their eventuality.