Peace, pussy, pride and harmony

Rock For Pussy 2014

Rebel Rebel: Rock For Pussy

The Fourth of July, Independance Day, will be my one month anniversary of sobriety. So far, it’s been quite an adventure. I feel like I may have picked the hardest month of the year to try and get sober but that should come as no surprise. I’ve never been one for doing things the easy way.  I don’t know if that’s part of the alcoholic mind set or not but it’s certainly my nature. I’m an extreme person. The things that are the most difficult are the things I find most rewarding. The truth is, quitting drinking is not difficult. All I have to do is not drink. It’s just that drinking is so easy. As an alcoholic, drinking is what is in my nature. Embracing sobriety means going against my nature. That is why this is a big deal. That is why getting sober is difficult. What I am attempting to do is to evolve. In a sense, I’m trying to become a different species. I’m trying to overcome my human nature.

The irony is that I wouldn’t even be attempting this without a great deal of arrogance and self-confidence yet if I am to succeed it will only be through humility. I like to think of myself as a peaceful person but I’m probably more of a fighter than I would like to admit. I think that is part of the human condition.  Alcoholism is part of my human condition. I won’t be able to overcome it by fighting. This will require a peaceful solution. This will require a spiritual solution. Many struggle with recovery over the spiritual aspect of the program but in truth the struggle is human, not spiritual. We are not human beings seeking a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. We think of ourselves as our bodies and our minds. We imagine that our bodies have a soul. It would probably be more accurate to say that we are our soul and we have a body. The soul is pure energy. The soul is peaceful. The soul is in perfect harmony. Sobriety is simply a matter of surrendering to my true spiritual self.

Pride 35W Bridge

The 35W Bridge lit up for Pride

Ah but fuck that.  I will find that spiritual perfection and I will be free from the human condition once I die. Since I feel like I’ve taken suicide off the table, I’m left with no choice but to make the most of this life. I’m kind of enjoying this human experience. I like the journey. It’s fascinating and bizarre. If i’m going to get sober I”m going to do it the human way. I’m going to work at it.

I can’t yet say that quitting drinking is the best decision I’ve ever made but so far it seems to be a pretty good one. Life is not perfect so it’s important to keep things in perspective. Sobriety seems to be about 80% good and 20% sucky. I know that for some people that would still be unacceptable but for me anything above 50% is worth doing. Plus, it’s nice to have room for improvement. My drinking life was probably at 70/30 but I feel like that was about as good as it was going to get it. The highs might not be as high now and the lows not as low, but that could just be because I’m being more cautious.  I have a feeling that as I get more comfortable with sobriety the extremes will reemerge.

Project Earth at Harmony Park

Project Earth at Harmony Park

That said, it has still been a pretty exciting month. June is one of my favorite months of the year. This is the month that my band,  All The Pretty Horses, play “Rebel Rebel: Rock For Pussy”, the annual David Bowie tribute show to benefit no-kill animal shelters. It is also the month of Project Earth, a charitable music festival held at Harmony Park near Geneva, Minnesota and the annual Twin Cities Pride Festival in Loring Park, Minneapolis. These are three of my favorite events. They are also three events closely linked to drunken debauchery. Without going into too much detail I think it would be safe to say that I got a lot of practice saying, “no thank you”.

Even my dreams were filled with opportunities to say no. For the first three weeks of sobriety, night after night, I would have anxiety filled dreams of being offered alcohol. Then one night I totally forgot that I wasn’t drinking and had a PBR and a whiskey. The disappointment I felt was overwhelming but I resolved to carry on with my quest for sobriety. Then I woke up and realized it was just a dream. I haven’t had a drinking dream since. I know that there is a moral in there somewhere.

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Cold is the absence of heat

When I woke up yesterday morning it was 10 degrees below zero on the Fahrenheit scale. That is 80 degrees Fahrenheit colder than it was for me a week ago. That’s not cool! Not cool at all. It is down right sucky! I’ve been thinking a lot about the cold lately. It’s kind of hard to think about anything else, but then I remembered, there is no such thing as cold!

No! Seriously, cold is not really a thing. I’m not talking in an existential sense or in some new-agey mind over matter way of thinking. I’m talking science. I’m talking fact and the fact is that cold does not exist. The world which we have created in our minds is a dualistic world of good against evil but in this case there is no duality. What we perceive as cold is not really cold at all, it is merely the existence of less heat than our bodies would like.

Heat is real. Heat is thermal energy. With more thermal energy, temperature rises; with less thermal energy, temperature falls. At the temperature of −459.67° Fahrenheit or −273.15° Celsius there is no thermal energy. This is called absolute zero and it cannot get any cooler. Icecubes and refrigerators do not cool things by adding “cold energy”, they merely displace heat lowering the temperature.

The same is true for light and dark. There is no such thing as dark, it is merely the absence of light. This is not just a semantic argument. I know what people mean when they say, “It’s really dark in here.”, but that doesn’t make it any more true. We walk around everyday, going about our business, happy as clams believing in this thing called darkness but it is not real. It’s a delusion. And people call me crazy!

But enough fun and games; how about something a little more serious?  What about life and death? I’m not asking a spiritual question about life after death where we are united with all our friends and family who have gone before us and everything is beautiful with clouds and angels and cherubs with harps. I’m asking a real world fact based question with spiritual and philosophical implications.

That fact is, there is no such thing as death. What we call death is merely the absence of life. There is no “death force” to fight against. We can’t fight death because death does not exist. We talk about dying like it is a real thing but the fact is no one dies, we simply lose our life and this is coming from someone who very nearly lost his on multiple occasions. Life is really all we have. We can have more of it or less of it but if we seek death or fight death we are wasting our life energy because death does not exist. Death, like cold or dark is a figment of our delusional minds.

So how about that spiritual question? What about the ultimate duality of good versus evil? As we look around the world it is pretty easy to find examples of evil, but what if this too is a delusion? What if what we perceive as evil is really just the absence of good?

I don’t think that there is a way to definitively answer this question. I don’t think that there is any way to prove the existence or nonexistence of evil, and I don’t see many scientists out there testing the theory. This really is a spiritual question but spiritually we can find an answer. What if we assume that there is no such thing as evil, how would life be different? What if we dealt with what we call evil the same way we deal with what we call cold or dark? What if the only way to  eradicate evil was by providing and protecting good? What if we stopped fighting hate with more hate and accepted that love is the only power we have?

I’m not claiming to have the answer to whether evil exists or not but when I look at the world as it is and try to understand it in the absence of evil, I come up with better solutions. Life is better when I stop expending energy trying to fight evil and focus on doing good. Just as it is when I stop expending energy trying to fight the cold as instead seek heat or when I stop fighting the darkness and instead seek light. Life cannot be lived by fighting death, only by seeking life.

I know some shit you don’t know

If I’m not writing, which has been more the case than not lately, I am living. That is not so say that writing is not living, for it most certainly is, only to say that there is much more going on when you don’t hear from me than when you do. If you have read all of this blog, you may have realized that it is not really a blog about what I do, but a blog about who I am, or really who we are. It is a blog about philosophy and spirituality. In essence, it can’t be about anything else.

So here is one day in my life. This day was in many ways special. This day was a culmination of everything which I have ever experienced. It is also a depiction of everything that I have never experienced. In that way it is completely ordinary.

I want to start by telling you about meeting a group of young Christians on the street. I was driving pedicab and I drove over to make contact with this group of people. That is my job. At least that is the way I see it. I seek to make connections with people downtown in hopes that I can help them. I want to help them have a good time, help them get where they are going, help them in any way possible. In return, I hope that they will help me, usually with money.

Their initial question for me was, “What is your favorite thing to do downtown?”

Okay, I’m an adult. These people were college students. What I would find interesting may not even be available to them. I like going to bars and meeting people. Still, I told them about what I liked to do.

This was actually a very poor response. Not only did it not help them, it was an inaccurate representation of what I had to offer. But that is because the question was not genuine. It was merely a ploy to engage me in conversation. It was, for lack of a better term, a “come on” line. You can’t expect an honest answer from me without first asking an honest question.

The next question was a request to participate in a questionnaire. I agreed because I rarely reject requests. Like “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski, I just abide. It didn’t take me long to realize that it wasn’t really a scientific questionnaire but an attempt to proselytize.

This is my problem with religion. It’s also my problem with advertisement, or sex for that matter. It’s not that there is anything wrong with religion or sex or the products people have to sell, but if you have to use means of deception to get your intentions met, I think that is fucked up. If joining your religion or having sex with you or buying your product is all that great, you wouldn’t need to lie.

Still, I was intrigued by their questions so I figured I would play along. The questions were interesting and did have me thinking all day. By that I mean that the answers that I gave in the moment may not be the answers I would give now.

One of the questions was, “What is the one thing that you hope to accomplish in this life?”

I said, “Not dying.”

I stand by that answer. It’s not that I am seeking immortality, only that while I am alive, staying alive is my ultimate goal. Everything else that happens along the way is incidental. It may be amazing, it may be horrible, but none of it happens without being alive. Being alive has got to be my first goal.

They also asked what I thought would happen when I die. I said, “I don’t know. I’ll deal with that when I’m dead. I’m not dead now and I’m pretty fucking busy being not dead.”

I’ll stand by that response too.

Then they asked, “If your best friend came to you and said that they wanted to become a Christian but they didn’t know how, what would you tell him?” (I love how they assume my best friend is male.)

I told them, “I would tell her to talk to a Christian.”

That was a complete bullshit answer. I should have told them to, “fuck off, you fucking fucks!”

Of course, I would never actually want to do that. That would be mean and I try really hard not to be mean. Still their question was totally disingenuous and deserved a more harsh and honest answer. I mean really, this is America, who the fuck does not know how to become a Christian? But what should I have expected. Their whole presentation began with decept. Did I really owe them an honest answer? Didn’t I give them enough of my time? I was working after all. What were they giving me?

Actually, they gave me plenty. Even through their deceit and manipulation they gave me insight into the workings of the human race. Every interaction with every person has something to teach me. I actually wish that I had given them more.

They also asked if I wanted to know God. I said that God and I were pretty tight. I wish that I had told them that God says s/he doesn’t appreciate people lying to get h/ir word out. Maybe I have a different god than they do but my god believes in honesty and integrity.

So I went to a party after work and it came out that I’m not actually Jewish. It’s not really a secret but the whole “coming out” process is not a, tell someone once and it’s done, sort of process. It’s an ongoing, never ending process. The truth is that I am as much Jewish as I am anything else, which is nothing, which I perceive as everything, which includes atheist .. so accept me or argue with me or try to convert me… none of it really matters because I am still me. The only way to fight me is to deny that I exist. So far in my life no one has ever successfully done that, but I welcome the challenge.

The real question emerged which was how I went from Judaism to Paganism. The fact is that the more I learn, the less dogmatic I become. The truth is that Paganism is still way too dogmatic for me. This led me to Hinduism and Buddhism which really brought me back to Christ – not Christianity as in the  Church but the dude himself. In essence, all these paths are the same. They all teach the same lessons. Where they differ is in dogma and ritual.

The key to my spiritual journey was never getting caught up in the dogma. The key was never believing that ritual held the answers. The key was continuing to ask questions and keeping doubt alive. This is the key which atheists possess although I doubt that they realize the spiritual power contained within that practice.

If there is a spiritual truth it can’t be dependant on faith. It must be found in doubt as well. If it is truly omnipresent, it must be that which can be found everywhere. If God exists, s/he exists regardless of whether anyone believes in h/ir or not. The gifts bestowed upon the faithful would be just as available to the faithless. If there is a God of everything then belief is irrelevant to God’s existence and intention.

I used to think that I knew everything. In a way, I did. I knew everything that I knew I knew and it all made sense and I was content with the world. Then I learned something new and my whole paradigm shifted. The world was no longer in balance. But I learned more. Eventually I got the world back in balance. Everything made sense again. Until I learned something new. This has happened countless times in my life.

Socrates is known for saying, “The only thing I know is that I don’t know anything.”

Rene Descartes is known for stating that the only thing he knows is, “I think therefore I am.”

While these two men accomplished far more to elevate their words than a mere paperboy or pedicab driver may ever achieve, perhaps even more than a rockstar may achieve, they both lived before the power of the internet so when I say what I am about to say, and I will say it over and over again, who knows what will happen with my words.

All that I know is that whatever I know, there is far more that I don’t know.

These are words I live by. They also come in handy with dealing with people that are way smarter that I am. For all that they know, there are things that I know that they don’t. This is true for everyone I meet. The dumbest person I meet knows something I don’t know. Everyone matters. Everyone holds a part of the key.

Nothing that has ever happened in your lifetime happened without you being here. YOU MATTER!

There was more that happened yesterday.

There is more that I want to write about but I think that I have made the main point I wish to accomplish. I will make one more post today if you need more philosophical thought. Otherwise, keep reading… it will all come out eventually… perhaps even if I die.

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