I understand and respect the reasons we arm ourselves. But in my experience ONLY, as a former gun owner I lived in the shadow of my handgun and never felt any deep or permanent sense of safety. And the question kept coming up; if I kill another person and was able to live another 20 years as a result, what would I gain? After all, we live a FINITE existence where gaining more time isn’t really gaining anything when we fully accept our mortality and the end game. Which led to a larger question; if I were to kill another human, what would I LOSE? Though the answers remained unknown, the question was potent enough that I gave up my gun. This was an attempt to live by the tenets of quality versus quantity. For me, this was a choice about fear, not guns.
It seems that true safety exists within us and can only be experienced when there is a surrender to the self-serving fear that blinds us from the divine freedom that must exist in opposition to the bondage and suffering that seems so prevalent in life. I have experienced (noticed?) this freedom only briefly on rare occasion, and it brings with it an indescribable sense of peace and emptiness. I never have any control over its appearance. I can only imagine it’s manifest by my willingness to try and walk through life wearing sandals, seeking the courage, compassion and humility required to leap through the narrow gate into the embrace of the absolute Unknown.
So, when life challenges me I usually fail this walk. I try and be thankful for these failures because the good, bad and the ugly are all part of the miracle that brought me to this very moment where the invitation to change is always present. And every once in a while I do nail it and catch my stride. This is the icing on the cake……
After seeing the picture my wife took of me casting off a blinding glare while watching the eclipse in my bathing suit, an insight passed through me regarding an eclipse of another nature. Over several days and many hours of mind numbing editing, it finally manifest in these four simple lines:
Ablaze with Darkness
Here stands a lost samurai, adrift in My presence;
Oft blocking My love and living in darkness.
Not realizing this shadow is also My essence;
Afraid to surrender and experience My vastness.
Facebook annoys me with all its bells and whistles... until its algorithms reposted something I wrote several years ago I totally forgot about. I guess I shouldn't judge Facebook's bling (and occasionally those people close to me) so harshly! Here it is all the way back from 2012. Yep, still applies:
"This is my response to a scathing commentary I recently read on the current state of humankind. This comes from the ground level, that place where I engage to make the best and worst choices possible for myself…
Yes – I am a different breed of animal. Smarter, wiser, more civilized. But above all, I am an emotional being who possesses both incredible hope and great despair. The ability to choose where I focus my thoughts and energy is my greatest advantage. I choose vulnerability, connection and the optimism that exists all around me when I pay attention. At the same time I am still fully aware of, and learning from, the darkness that is always present. I do struggle and occasionally fall back but I always get back up and move forward as best I’m capable of. This is normal. Pessimism, ignoring shame, and lack of vulnerability can lead to social isolation, a place where the seeds of rage can be found. This is not a place I want to spend time in.
These days, many of us want to see change. I have chosen to take care of myself; change myself first. These choices will slowly ripple through the rest of humanity. I believe that I can make a difference."
This is a thought I had posted on Facebook back in August...
"The most important question is not "Do I kill?" but "Do I carry a blessing in my heart or a curse?" The bullet that kills is only the final instrument of the hatred that began being nurtured in the heart long before the gun was picked up." ~HN
This quote comes out of a commentary written by Henri Nouwen regarding violence in the world. It seems to me that the "blessing or curse we carry in our hearts" is inherited. To change this inheritance for better appears to be a choice, though often difficult. If I want to see change in the world, then I need to start changing those things in myself that I see as problems in the world around me, as best I can in any given moment, starting with the smallest, most seemingly insignifcant issues. Otherwise, I fulfill the role of judgmental victim.
To be a victim or a man is a choice. Do I focus on the past and choose blame and anger or do I start right now and choose the noble and difficult path of compassion and responsibility?
"From the hoodrats to the kids lost in a bubble..."
The song "Caught in a Hustle" may not have been directed at middle class America, though this verse clearly includes us all. Worth listening all the way through.
Warning: Explicit language used though the message easily trumps the language.
Back in July of this year I responded to an email from a good friend after Micah Xavier shot and killed five police officers in Dallas. Here was my response:
At this time we do need rules to help control society just like a person with their finger in a vise could use Novocain to stop the pain. But opening the vise is a long term solution that will allow the pain to stop and let the finger heal. We need to shift much more energy to the root causes of fear and violence.
Like family structure where parents are present not only physically but emotionally as well (I am guilty of this). Several years ago I watched a documentary called Absent that clearly connected the lack of fathering to violence and abuse towards ourselves and others.
Humility and compassion towards others. I unconditionally reject the shooter’s actions in Dallas but how many of us can extend our compassion not only to the police officers who died in the line of duty in Dallas but also to the shooter and the wounds he bore that created such extreme hate and violence. This kind of compassion can be terribly difficult and takes much humility but it does heal our own wounds and this translates to better personal, family and societal values. When it comes to our finger, it's obvious we need to open the vise but when our egos are involved in making choices and policy, it seems that we are more willing to select the Novocain.
In my own experience ONLY, I previously owned a handgun because I lived in fear. I was viewing the world negatively, always preparing for the worst. Several years ago I gave up my handgun because I finally realized that the “security” I received from owning a pistol was driven by fear. Again, my opinion only, but life is finite and I began asking myself if I killed another person so that I may live 20 more years, what would I gain? Or more importantly the question arose, what would I lose? If not quantity then, I try to live my life in the frame of quality, though I often succumb back to fear. To face life and death with courage, compassion and humility is where large scale, long lasting change and healing occur in my life. And this starts individually by invitation just like small amounts of static electricity in the atmosphere eventually form a lightning bolt. We make a difference.
Three days ago I accepted my fears and stepped off into the unknown. I submitted a Letter of Intent to the city of Denver so that I may be considered to complete a piece of public art that is being commissioned at the zoo. The ability to make things with my hands is an effortless gift that I have been endowed with from an early age but the creative writing that was necessary to complete the letter was a tedious and mind numbing experience. Another gift I have, though it seems to be a curse at times, is the extreme tenacity needed to get something done that seems impossible. And so, I laboriously finished the Letter of Intent and submitted it on time.
I have many great ideas that truly come from the heart but trying to extract their message into written form is a challenge. Creating a 2000 character statement that expressed my feeling and contributions regarding this public commission turned out well because of the organizational input from my sister, wife and several others. Thank you so much for your guidance!
I have decided to start writing this blog as a way to exercise and strengthen my writing skills. As one person has told me, getting a foot in the door of the public art arena is in small part a numbers game, so this creative writing thing has set up camp in my arsenal of resources.
If you start following this blog, Thanks! I imagine that my topics and frequency will be pretty unpredicatable to start but they may also be helpful and insightful. Enjoy!