Gratitude List 1074

1. Slept deeply for 6 1/2 hours solid, from 9:30 to 4am, without having to get up once to go to the bathroom. First good night’s sleep in almost a week. Hallelujah.

2. I remembered to leave the mouse in the backpack last night so as to resist the urge to run to the computer and issue vitriol, if perchance I were to wake up in a rage. That said, I didn’t wake up in a rage (just a fog).

3. Pretty sure the manic phase is over.

4. Considering the time frame in which the nice long sleep occurred, it’s highly likely I can get myself organized and have a pretty productive day.

5. I have some good friends and a good support group these days. Given the weirdness of my personality, I’m pretty happy that I even have any friends at all. And the parts of me that are off-putting can also be put to use, because I’m just weird enough that people have a way of not wanting to approach me, which helps me to get more work done than would be the case if I were this really charismatic, attractive, appealing presence that everybody was drawn toward.

6. Somebody sent $25.

7. Looks like I have a nice email reply from Lynne. Skimming it, I see she agrees with my take on Part Two of Firefly Magic. She also says she’s been corresponding with Lauren lately, which is unusual and somewhat intriguing. I’ll look forward to digesting her words, as they tend to be brilliant, thought-provoking, and encouraging.

8. Lauren Sapala agreed to schedule a Skype call with me to discuss Firefly Magic and money-making implications in the modern world.

9. During the manic phase, it seems that my extraverted function was enhanced (to put it diplomatically). I contacted a number of people with whom I’ve not been in touch in quite some time, including Pastors C. & S. from the Berkeley realm, and my old friend Jean Anne from Stockton.  While this may have been a dubious choice, I couldn’t help but notice that the responses were generally very warm, and that every one of these people commented on how much better I sounded. If I sounded “better” during a manic phase when I was often angry and freaking out, how much better will I sound as I return to normalcy? There is indeed a sense of progress here.

10. Life holds promise. I doubt I’ll go hungry today. God is Good.

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The Challenge of the Wealthy

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.

–Matthew 19:16-24

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Dangers of Liberation: Part One

On August 8, 2006, I sat at the corner of Shattuck and Kitteredge in Berkeley, California, three blocks North of the Royal Grounds Cafe, where I had just spent my last two dollars on coffee.   

I had walked back and forth, to and fro, not knowing where I was going.  It gradually dawned on me that I had nowhere left to go.  I had spent my entire severance check after leaving my summer job as a singing teacher with Children’s Musical Theatre San Jose.  I had spent it all on taxicabs, meals in restaurants, and motel rooms.   So I sat down, expecting to enter into total misery.  Instead, I entered into total bliss.

Image result for i understand that a man can have everything having nothing

I finally had nothing.  Nothing to prove anymore.  Nothing to hold on to.  Nothing to need to protect or salvage or horde.  Nothing that could be coveted or stolen.  Nothing that I needed to accomplish or achieve.   

And in having nothing, I realized that I was open to everything.  In an instant, everything that the Universe had to offer came soaring into my consciousness.  All the gifts of life — the very gifts that my worldly concerns had blinded me from seeing — were now not only visible, but tangible, accessible, and omnipresent.  

I found paper and pen, and I wrote down these words:

I have indeed hit bottom.
And at the moment when I reached my bottom,
I realized that I had reached the very top.
At that moment, I was Buddha.

While this surprising sense of liberation was very real, and while it was destined to impact me for years to come, its accompanying bliss was short-lived.  Within three days, I was to see its downside in a dramatic way.   And the bittersweet dynamic thereof informed my later thought.

So I’ve decided to use the next several Thursdays to post my thoughts on this theme as best I can.   There are distinct dangers involved when one permits oneself to receive gifts of joy and happiness from sources commonly associated with misery and despair.  I’ll do my best to illustrate what the years following that experience have held for me.  Hopefully, I can do so with clarity.

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Shedding the Streets

“Shedding the Streets” is a 21 minute impromptu talk in which the speaker expresses the necessity and difficulty of abandoning tired old values acquired from years of living on the urban streets. If you like my work, please feel free to share it.  

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Tuesday Tuneup 39

Q. Where would you like to be?

A. In a place that’s slightly better than where I am now.

Q. Only slightly better?  Why not hugely better?  

A. Because I’m basically very happy where I am already.

Q. But if you got to a place that was hugely better, would you object?

A. Not at all.

Q. Then why not just shoot for the huge?   Why settle for the slight?

A. Because if I said I wanted to be in a place that was hugely better, it would sound as though I were dissatisfied with the place where I am right now.  And that’s not true.  I’m actually very grateful for where I am right now.

Q. But if you’re satisfied with where you are right now, then why do you need for it to even be slightly better?   

A. Hm . . . that’s a good question.   

Q. Come on — out with it!   Are you satisfied, or are you not??

A. Well . . . maybe it’s a matter of degrees.  I’m grateful that things aren’t nearly as bad as they used to be.  But I can’t pretend that they couldn’t still be better.

Q. So you’re saying you could be more grateful than you are right now?

A. Yes.  I would like to be slightly more grateful than I am now.

Q. In what way could this come about?

A. If my place were not so — stagnant.  If there were more of a sense of — forward motion.

Q. What do you mean?

A. Everything seems to be the same — day after day, month after month.

Q. But how can you say that?  Isn’t this one of the most productive periods of your life?

A. Productive, yes.  But there’s about the same level of productivity day after day, month after month.  And the stuff I produce — it all seems the same.  Nothing ever changes.  I only produce more of the same.

Q. So you need a shake-up?

A. Hopefully not.   A shake-up would probably do the trick, but it’s never very pretty in the process.

Q. What about a wake-up?

A. That would go easier on me.

Image: Come to our Bible Study Image | Bible Clip Art | Christart.comQ. Do you want me to wake you up?

A. No.

Q. Why not?

A. Because it’s not your job.

Q. Whose job is it, then?

A. I would say, it’s God’s job.

Q. Are you praying for a wake-up?

A. Every morning I pray for a wake-up.  It doesn’t have to be a huge one.  It just has to make me slightly more awake than I’ve been.

Q. What happens when you’re slightly more awake?

A. I’m slightly more effective.

Q. And what happens then?

A. I’m slightly more grateful.  I have slightly more faith.  I’m more in touch with hope, and a sense of purpose.   And I begin to believe again.  I begin to believe in God, and in myself.  I believe that there’s a direction.  I may not see it, but I still believe.  And then my gratitude has meaning.  It has basis, purpose, and form.

Q. And then you are satisfied?

A. I am.  Any further questions?  

The Questioner is silent.  

Gratitude List 1043

Here’s my gratitude list from yesterday morning.  

1. Slept another six hours, between around 12:30 & around 6:30. So 9 hours total.

2. Finished the vocal score to Act One yesterday.  The thought of formatting the completed Act One score caused me to pop out of bed with energy.

3. The friendship of the friend who helped me periodically with my issues throughout the day yesterday is invaluable.  

4. Listening to Sounds of Silence now. Happy with it now that I’ve made the cut. (I had wanted it to redo it completely, but decided not to after I realized that what happens at 2:39-2:40 only happens once in a lifetime.)

5. That three mile run last night was like a purge. It was like a sacrament. There was something holy about it.

6. I have this clear picture now, how all I really need to do is spend about 1/3 the time at the computer that I do, and I would walk twice as far each day, probably run 3-5 miles three times a week, and do four sets of push-ups, twice a week. Then I would be the real A.P. once again, and I could die happy, because I wouldn’t be this other, really manic, hyper, frazzled guy, that I’ve been since whenever I stopped running.

7. Really looking forward to church this morning.

8. Ah, this Co-Op coffee, whatever it is, tastes so good.

9. Was neither angry nor threatened when I awoke this morning.   I also didn’t space out too many items of necessity during the first moments of the day, as has too often been the case.

10. Dreams were apocalyptic last night. But that’s a sign to pray, and a good thing, so as not be an ostrich. Looking forward to reading more, speaking less, praying more, and writing less. God is Good.

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