Author Archive for scottnorek

Visions of Me, Reading Visions of Cody

“Ah the mad hearts of all of us.” ― Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody

I have ran through many places, many times, worn many faces, I have started, stopped, and restarted time on several occasions, all in the daunting task of completing a read-through of Visions of Cody. At times, the days were cold and sent shudders to the very marrow of my bones, other times, the sun scorched my neck, reminding me of nature’s raw beautiful power and its indifference to my speck of functioning in the world. Jack Kerouac is my ultimate muse author, and having read nearly two dozen of his books, I still was not ready for the wild, free-flowing, at times seemingly disjointed and nonsensical writings that make up Visions of Cody, or at least I was not at first, second, or even third try. Visions of Cody, in all its 400 plus pages of spontaneous (I mean really meandering and spontaneous) prose, is a moment in my life, an accomplished feeling of having experienced an admired writer’s most experimental and complex piece. And in the end, I am better for it.

So what is this piece I am writing now? Well, it is not so much a book review, as it is a momentary snapshot glimpse view back into my experiences with Visions of Cody…my visions of me, reading Visions of Cody.

The first two sections, and approximately one-hundred pages, visually resemble the original scroll version of On the Road, long blocks of small type-font, with little room for paragraph breaks, a true stream of consciousness, and spontaneous prose tale. I was hooked right away. I went into the book knowing of its legendary (in a hip underground beat sort of way) reputation, but was still left in amazement by the hyper-stream of consciousness, and the beautifully, and often tragic, acute attention to detail, so much detail for even the most mundane of situations, that painted vivid imagery in my mind, transporting me back to this bygone era of America. Consider this, there is probably an easy one and a half, to two pages wholly dedicated to describing a countertop and chairs in a skid-row diner. This is part of what Visions of Cody did, it brought you so close to what would in any other situation be considered the dull and mundane, and transformed it into a passionate and somber look back at Americana, as it once existed from coast to coast.

“I can’t think of anybody…who knows the sum and substance of what I know and feel and cry about in my secret self all the time when I don’t feel strong, the sorrows of time and personality, and can therefore on all levels make it all the way with me” ― Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody

The next two sections, and nearly two-hundred pages,  of Visions of Cody goes even further down the experimental and avant-garde rabbit hole of writing,  transcribing, word for word, a series of tape recordings between Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassidy, and other various Beats. It needs to be noted that these recordings are painstakingly random, at times incoherent, confusing, and are the result of much intoxication by all involved. It is in this stage of the book, that I am conflicted, torn between my love for self-expression, spontaneity, the “out there”, avant-garde, and the generally askew from the norm, torn between all this, and my ultimate takeaway, that while the intent of transcribing tape recordings of people in true naked conversations is bold and exciting (in theory), the end result is disjointed (and not in a good way) and lacking in true Kerouac storytelling depth. It lacked heart.

Countless cups of coffee, seasons of the year, and a kaleidoscope of people, places, and things came and went in my life as I read this book- my ever-present companion, Visions of Cody. There was some sort of bayou hoodoo spell conjured up within the pages of Visions, for each time I read a segment, my mind raced with intrigue, icons, lost visions, teleportation, and a heart-warming fondness for the less than glamorous side of America, the hard-working, the down-trodden, the people who will not show up on any billboards, wont star in a Hollywood movie, and would not even make a footnote in their local paper. This is the true America, the one Jack Kerouac saw disappearing, that he thought worth saving, the Americana of the blues, of railroad yards, late nights in bars, road trips across the country, a seemingly simpler time that was fading fast. This is just as poignant today as it was then, that is the beauty of Jack’s writing.

The remaining pages of Visions of Cody continues in the stream in which the book started, forgoing the tape recordings, and holds some of the most powerful and beautiful sections of prose I have ever read. I am not one for hero-worship, but I will say that there are some brilliant flashes of storytelling tangled within the stream of consciousness behemoth that is Visions of Cody.

In the end, Visions of Cody made me feel accomplished, rewarded for having made it through. It also left me inspired, inspired to continue writing, seeking adventure, living life on my own terms, and focusing on the little things in life, for they are what make up our memories (stories) we take with us forever. Perhaps, even more than any of those takeaways, Visions of Cody showed me a new level of pride in America (Americana), in the simple hard-working truth of the nation, and the unmolested beauty that still remains down every back-road, if we are just willing to let go, travel, and see what we have flown by blinded for too long, and for that, I am grateful that Visions of Cody is here.

“…the great black bird broods outside my window in the high dark night waiting to enfold me when I leave the house tomorrow only I’m going to dodge it successfully by sheer animalism and ability and even exhilaration, so goodnight” ― Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody

Letter to my Son on His Third Birthday

Ryland,

You are three years old now. Just three years, so young, and yet you are already so wise. Every day you amaze me with your enlightened perspective on the world. Being able to experience the wonder of parenthood with you has made true for me all the clichés that are spewed about parenting and children; I guess the clichés are clichés for a reason. Suffice it to say, that having you in my life has impacted and changed me in ways that I could never replicated any other way, with the DNA of my very being having been forever altered by your very existence. Thank you for that.

You are an amazing, beautiful, soulful force of light in this world, never let that go. The world is always in need of special people, people who can see the positive, find the joys in the everyday and the mundane, the people who relish waking up to each new day, and conquering it with reckless abandon and love. You do this, while maintaining who you are, and choosing compassion and love over all else.

Of course, you are only three years old and do not realize that you do all, or probably any, of this right now. That is perfectly fine, I see it, mom sees it, and the world sees it. It will become incumbent upon you as you continue to grow, and become more self-realized, to maintain these traits (and expand them further). This will be the real test, the piece that impacts everyone as they journey into adulthood, the mission to maintain the wanderlust and carefree love and joy of a child, and carry it through as it merges into your adult traits and spot in the world.

I was unable to carryover, nearly all adults are in the same situation, it is the sad truth about our society, that we strip away much, if not all, of the amazing traits that children hold, and in exchange swap them out for expectations, misguided notions of success and happiness, conformity, self-doubt, and self-consciousness. We will have plenty of time to discuss and for me to teach you about holding on to this, so no need to belabor the point any further here now.

I want you to know how much you are loved and cherished by mom and me, and by the rest of your family. We love you more deeply than any letter or words could ever even attempt to capture (although I will try anyway). We would do anything for you. Every choice and decision we make in life is tied to you and enriching your life. You are surrounded by love and support, a rarity (unfortunately) in the world today.

What do I want for you, three year old Ryland? I simply want you to continue being you, unencumbered and free. There will be plenty of time, situations, and people who will try to do otherwise. Stay true, remain full of love, continue to be bold, always be silly, and realize you have something magical inside you, a presence and energy that radiates out into the world, making you capable of great things. Be you.

There is so much more to say, so much more to teach. I will save those words and those lessons to be whispered into your ear each and every day that we are together, as I guide you, and you guide me, through life.

Love,

Daddy

Writer’s Notes and Five Passages

{Writer’s Note}

This piece is disjointed, and intentionally so. It is a collection of several small pieces that I have written in my personal journals over the past couple of months. Individually each piece is not my finest work; together they are not my finest work. So why include them as a public posting, because what they lack in prize-worthy writing, they are abundant with message, with exposure, a summary of sorts as to where my head has been at, in what has come to be a very long creative drought. So please, read on through the lens of me trying to understand me, a little self-help and self-realization. This is a peak behind the curtain.

Passage 1:

I have never been completely honest in my writing, and this will be no different. Total honesty is a scary thing. To pull back the veil and expose the most intimate of truths is something, I would safely bet that, the majority of us have either never done, or if we are so fortunate, may have done on such rare occasion that these moments, while probably profound and full of meaning, are so few and far between, that they seem foreign, as not a part of us as they are intimate. The writer, or more generally, the artist seeks to do this through their chosen medium as often as possible, with many claiming that they are open and honest, brutally honest, and free in all the ways others are not- “I tell it how it is”, “I say what is on my mind”, all common catchphrases they will employ. So often, the ones most prone to boast about something are in fact the ones least likely to possess that trait, or have that truth. If we say it enough, others will believe it. If we say it enough, even we can start to believe our own lie.

Perhaps we proclaim what we are, when it is the farthest thing from the truth- our simple yet manipulated attempt at changing our truth?

Truth in art, art in truth, will either set you free?

So what is this all about? Why so much focus on truth, perception, and reality, because, each is prominent in my identity. The attempt to learn and understand each has mystified me for as long as I can remember- pulling back the veil, the elusive search for “the meaning”.

My writing can be largely summarized as focused on two things, perception and truth. Really two opposite notions always intertwined.

As I come off a long creative drought, I feel energized, empowered with a new power- an expanded arsenal and a needed mindset to push through.

Will all subsequent work be complete truth, free of shadows and alterations? No.

As alluded to prior, I don’t believe most of us possess the capability at-will, even if we have convinced ourselves we do. But there is no reason we cannot challenge ourselves to get there, to pursue what may seem unattainable. For in this pursuit is where life happens.

For myself, I want my writing, my art, to creep closer and closer to this truth, each piece, a truer reflection of me, and I encourage that we all can do that in life, regardless of your artistic leanings.

For each individual to live a little truer, a little more in line with who they are each day, that is progress my friends, that is evolution, that is enlightenment.

Passage 2:

I am in search of my own authenticity. Family aside, no other singular item is more important to me right now. My last piece discussed truth and perception, both playing directly into my search for the authentic-self. The ego-me tells myself that I have been the authentic-self for short bursts of time in prior, younger years. Truth is, that may or may not be true. It is entirely more likely that I have not been witness to my authentic-self yet, and I have only proceeded to play the part of the fool in my own memory induced illusion.

At some point, Stella lost her groove and, I believe, Austin Powers mojo went astray…well I know Stella got her groove back and Austin Powers was just fine (baby), so why not me, but on a much more real, personal, and impactful way than a couple of late 90s mediocre Hollywood story lies. This is the search for me, the authentic-self, something that I have convinced myself I need here and now, in no particular terms.

But what does that even mean, authentic-self? If I knew exactly what it meant, I would probably also have found it for myself. So I can tell you what it is not (what the problem is) and give you a (likely) inaccurate fumbled portrayal of what I think the authentic-self is, on a high-level all-people bird’s eye view.

{Writer’s Note}

I have removed content here. The subsequent paragraph did not delve deeper into the authentic-self, but instead, went on a crazy tangential rift about caves, creatures, and darkness, for no foreseeable reason other than it is what came to mind.

Maybe that’s just it, maybe the groundhog peeping of the authentic-self comes out of nowhere, is bizarre, does not make sense, and deviates you from that nice tidy little path you had laid out for yourself…truth…art.

Passage 3:

Change.

Change in all forms.

Today we sing, tomorrow we dance.

The night’s sky flickers with memories of a bygone era.

Here we stand, united in our moment.

I find myself meandering much more the last few days than I have in a while. Gentle winds take me here and there.

The meandering wanderer is not looked down upon, it is welcomed, wanted, needed. For too long I have been caught up in a race, a frantic need to measure up, measure up and “get things done”- complete the list.

I have added and added, said yes, made it my task, layer upon layer of complexity, of complication, until it was no longer bearable, and I was no longer me. I feel that sense of self-knowing coming back now. What once seemed like a barren desert, now feels like a cold rush of water infused into my veins, filling me with potential and direction.

No stranger to redirection, self-reflection (loathing?), and contemplation, I have found this current crossroads most perplexing and having the most gravitas.

Moments, they happen when we least expect them.

For better or for worse, my career, or better yet focus in life has become more clear and structured in the last few days. Structure, be sure you are the architect of the construction.

Passage 4:

I told myself today that I would be traveling- I had various destinations in mind, but was willing to deviate. I have fallen into routine and trappings of my own design- even a day of travel and adventure; I can quickly turn into routine and the expected. It is difficult to escape and be free in modern America, especially in the unhealthy hustle and bustle of major metropolitan areas such as Chicago, where I reside on its suburban outskirts. I have long been obsessed with the writings and lifestyle experiences of Jack Kerouac, the, to me, simple adventures in an era of slower living, basic joys, and still plenty of America (and life) left to explore. We all have the explorer within, mine aches with a longing I cannot currently satiate. Satiation of my core needs and identities is a big focus for me, it is rampant in my writing.

In my push to be deeper, I find memories of ultra-shallowness, such as focus on and concern for the outfit I put together for the day, “what says writer… breakthrough…what says adventure?”

As a writer, I have had so many stop and go, or rather go and stop moments over the past 6-12 months that I am left with a disappointment and a fear of the well having run dry. That scares me. Briefly I considered complicated and impractical options, ways to fix this creative rut…quickly jumping off of that speeding bullet train of crap and instead going simple.

My plan…to write everything… to write and write, about everything and anything (or is it the other way around?), and while I am continually writing, I will also be sharing nearly all of it.

This is the only real way I know how to get back in, to slide back into that groove of writer, creator, artist, satisfied being. So, let it be so.

Passage 5:

{Writer’s Note}

This fifth and final passage catches me on a day when I felt shallow as an artist, feeling as if I had denied my art all of me, and instead been selective and manipulative with what I let others see, or even write for myself. It is a very brief piece that alludes to a possible future project exploring the depths of my being.

I am a broken person. This I realize.

Yet I have the grace within, everyone does.

Describing the Beast:

So much of what I do in my writing is self-analyze, self-medicate, and self-help myself. My writing is intimate, it’s intimate when it is obviously intimate, and it is intimate even when it seems distant and removed. I believe all art, or at least all genuine art is intimate, it tells the story of the individual, in one way or another. A little bit, or sometimes nearly the entire artist is embedded within the deep recesses of the piece. And while my writing goes to a certain depth, I freely admit it is limited, it goes medium’ish deep into me. I have never dared to go deep into the recesses of my being. In a recent piece I said that I would be breaking my writer’s block by writing about anything and everything. I feel that in addition to that, I need to take a stab at going deep, deep down into the abyss…down into the abyss and describe the beast- but how to begin?

Where does one start with an exposition such as this? How does one simply let go and dive into the darkness?

I am flawed, completely and utterly beautifully flawed. Both heavenly and brimstone, I, like nearly all in life, am a duality of existence. So how to begin? Perhaps a tit for tat, a positive and then a negative. I have much I am proud of, and enough that I am not. I have shined in many moment so far, and stumbled in even more. I am me.

There are countless tales to tell, but what fits and describes the beast? Today will probably not be the day I decide that…

{Writer’s Note}

So there you have it, five passages mashed together to provide you a glimpse (albeit hodge-podge) of me speaking to me, trying to figure me out, and in the process find a way to get back. Perhaps you can relate. We all, in some way, need to get back, to get back to something or someone.

Something New Every Day

The many faces of a person- my persona shifted from face to face. Today I am this. Tomorrow I am that. Perceptions of myself ever evolving as I sit and stare, stare and stand, in the continuous flow of life. I recently acknowledged, both too myself and in written form, that I am learning something new about myself every day. With no real knowledge of what has sparked this, nor any real need to know, the days have been filled with self-reflection, micro ah ha moments, and a mind which is always on- peculiar being unable to calm the mind in nearly any situation- this is my attempted release.

A deep dark robust taste hearkens to memories of dark chocolate, sweet coffee, and velvety cake, swirling around in the glass, as well as my mind. The precise yet free flowing sounds of Miles’ horn next to me, a slightly uncomfortable feeling in the air, an uncleanliness on my skin that only a humid summer’s night can capture. The sun is still out, but it is fading- I am fading, fading deeper within these thoughts, and within myself. A sultry groove fills the air- thanks Miles.

I am lost without creativity, specifically without writing- this is one of the many things I have learned about myself recently. Not just a hobby, nor a casual pursuit, writing and being a writer is something that I identify as a core trait of my very being, something that at times I have regrettably not made room nor effort for. The feeling of not being true to yourself- my own worst critic.

I take much more pride and harness much more joy out of my career (which I always considered as separate, vast majority of the time very separate from me being a writer) than I have ever realized. My current work and reflection has taught me that.

I pause for a moment, for another sip, to enjoy the air, to find what comes next? Perhaps all of these- perhaps none- but I take the sip anyways. Life of a writer.

I am bothered by myself when I am anything but truthful, true, and honest in my efforts, and in my integrity on life’s values. I have not always been that way.

I find joys in simple things, and in things that my prior versions of myself and others may find mundane and dull. A quiet weekend night at home with my family, a few minutes to read a book, a chance to de-clutter my home, or even a simple conversation with a friend or loved-one. This is not to say that all wild times, and all adventures are behind me, they are not- this is simply to say that I can now appreciate both, and often times prefer the “mundane and dull”. The power of sitting on the floor playing with your son and his toys is simply undeniable, and the greatest concert, party, or wild adventure could not compare…and believe me, I love a wild party.

Another sip, strong, warm, altering…perfect.

I am no longer the one who provokes, who welcomes altercation, who yearns for a moment, any moment to make a statement, a physical impact, and perpetuate conflict in the world. This is part of the reason I no longer play the game. I strive to be strong, to be calm, to find peace, and to bring good into the world and to those I come in contact with. I have no regrets on my self-appointed role and work for the Nation, it is simply is just not who I am anymore. We all grow- we all evolve.

Another sip, and it is gone. Such is life. Drink it up.

My desire to curtail and control my impulsive and addictive personality is another point of my recent thought meanders. It is a rollercoaster of want, desire, need, followed by satisfaction, which is always followed by near-immediate regret and self-loathing.

I am blessed- truly blessed. I want for nothing, yet find myself getting down on occasion. This is another realization (that I already knew, but have rededicated my focus to), a true appreciation for my circumstances, and the will to carry on confidently with them.

Time. Time, is on my side. Yes it is…I don’t know why I said that.

Every day is a chance to better myself, to learn from my experiences, to realize that about myself that I previously have been scared to, or felt it too difficult.

I gather much of my inspiration from my son- he is my little Buddha.

I am learning to not be so hard on myself, to let myself be, and to let go and embrace it. As Laura and I discussed the other day over an evening walk, it is time to “own it”.

I truly have been learning something about myself every day lately, and I hope that I continue to do so. Norek out…

Sequence XLVII

{Writer’s Note} a few months back, around the start of the new year, I started a new writing project, one that had tied to it, some of my highest aspirations. That project is not the focus of this piece, but some backstory is required in order to fully understand how this piece starts. This new year project is being written in a journal that was given to me as a Christmas gift from my brother and sister-in-law, adding to the special meaning behind it. I will be divulging more about this project shortly, but for now, I want to share a secondary project, one that came to me amidst my on-and-off writing of the new year project.

 

It has been several days since I last contributed any written thoughts to this project {see writer’s note}. In that time I have discovered a new thought, a plan, a project, a roadmap for the unroadmapable, a way to take singular, yet significant steps towards betterment. Sequence XLVII.

So what is Sequence XLVII? The Sequence is a combination of forty-seven different iterations of actions, projects, activities, and experiences, each specifically selected to better myself, to bring me closer to being a more enlightened and positive being. These forty-seven items, or iterations, called iterations because while they are all unique events, each is bonded as a piece, a segment, that when combined makeup an existence for myself of awareness, and hopefully, just that much closer to enlightenment.

I do not necessarily refer to enlightenment as Buddhahood, or biblical revelation; rather, I use enlightenment simply to refer to an (re)evolution (awakedness) of myself to be a more closely aligned version of myself to a positive and impactful true-being. I acknowledge that it would be grandiose and ego-driven to believe I had any idea on how to realize enlightenment; this is not that, this is betterment, achieving a greater me.

The iterations were intentionally selected and given an initial ordering by myself to act as a roadmap of directional force, propelling me forward in this endeavor. This is a needed experience for me now; I have grown weary, beat-up, so often consumed by terrible feelings of dissatisfaction, muted emotion, lack of meaning and life satisfaction, despair, anger, and regret. I often feel as if I have lost my ability to truly live a happy life. I know I lost it, because I had it, I have had segments of my life that were fulfilled, that left me with overall life satisfaction, joy and wonderment. I have had it, so I can realize now when I do not. This is not a result or fault of anyone outside of myself, no one decision, no one experience did this, it is not about my career, my family, my home, my friends, my experiences around me, it is about me, my self (or non-self) realization, my being, my vision and approach to life. It is on me, and because it is on me, it is open for me to change, to make better, and to regain that spark. I need to and will do this. And for this, I have created the Sequence, Sequence XLVII, within which I have embedded forty-seven iterations of specific actions for me to complete.

Iteration 01, daily appreciation for life, is ready to begin.

 

{Writer’s Note} Iteration 01 and all future iterations will be discussed in detail as the subject of future writings. Each iteration will have its own written piece(s). There is an undertone of darkness and bleakness in the latter portion of this piece as I describe why I need this. That is not the full scope of my feelings on this, and especially on life in general, it is simply how I was feeling in that moment, at that time; it is an honest and naked look at me at a moment in time. Much like each one of us, I am a yin and yang of emotions, outlooks and feelings. Some days light, some days dark. It was my realization that the dark days were outweighing the light days, so the Sequence was created as a sort of spiritual to-do list to rebalance the scales and tip them in the favor of the light. I hope that as the reader you can find some commonalty and inspiration in my journey with the Sequence.

3/22/2016

The complete trust and faith in his father (me) to cure his pain with my kiss…the longing in his eyes as he reaches out his little arm and hand, motioning for me to sooth his injured hand…he hands me the back of his hand…the grief I feel as I kiss his hand over and over, each time he reaches out, and tell him daddy kisses his hand and makes it feel better…but the pain remains, the pain I inflicted earlier that day with the purest of intentions, cutting his thumb nail too short…his pain is accompanied by my emotional hurt…he continues to seek comfort in me, his dad…I console him, all the while both hating myself and being in awe of him, my little man, so pure, so innocent, so loving, and understanding of the simple power of love…a true being, living in the moment, and trusting in the power of people, of life…he is my inspiration, my muse, my purpose, my Buddha-being…Ryland…the awakened one.

Winter Remembrance

The winter rushes in like drops of sweat on a furled brow. The winds cut through the town as razors through air. Windblown mind freezes of collective shivering mind states. When you look back, everything happens so quickly, it is the nature of being. Still, I continue to be amazed by this. The train rolls on and I recount my autumnal now winter remembrance- trying desperately to slow it down, to capture the moments, get it all back (what?), and in the process I remain blind to the truth, an erroneous life mindset of false separations and inconsequential barriers and holdings. The truth swirls all around and within, yet we remain concrete in our views and separation. So many emotions and thoughts, they weigh me down, although I strive to float free. You cannot help but reminisce- it is natural (un?) to want to remember, glorify, romanticize it all, and find special purpose and meaning. The rat scurries past the back alley skid row whino at dawn- what beauty is in recounting that?

The baby is born, the first blooms of spring push through, breaking the earth’s barrier- a child becomes and adult, a hill becomes a mountain- a geriatric ancient wise sad soul is taken into the void, a mighty oak crumbles and becomes one with the earth (again)- between all these expected times of life, there is an infinite stream of bliss and sadness- the truly triumphant, followed by the most wrenching pain and misery- a chaotic beautiful masterpiece that will crush even the brightest soul if we are not careful. I am guilty the same as anyone, I hold too tight and crave too much meaning, allow and falsely create too much control. We wouldn’t be the storytellers, the people that we are, if we did not recount and hold tight to the bosom. It is inherent, yet untrue- realizations of wiping the slate clean, only to realize the slate was never full, and the slate was never a slate- mind weary wanderings.

Things are different now- perhaps they always have been. Looking out over the moving car, only to realize that it is all separation and isolation. Sometimes I look back with fondness, happiness and joy, but more often it is with regret, dissatisfaction, sadness, and an overall blunting of life. Why? Even in this moment of writing flow escape, I stop, tap the pen, pondering the reason- the weight bears down on my chest- the weight of eons of existence and action (no action) to forgo this contemplation is to forgo my truth- no matter how flawed. I turn the page and it is blank, for a moment I want to stop, leave it in its (im)perfect Buddha mind-state and call it my greatest work- instead I scribble this all over it and continue on with my meandering ways.

Taking it all back, what is my remembrance?

It is her- it is mainly her. It is all of them, but above all others, it is her. It is the great times from youth through adulthood that I vividly recall. I remember that which I do not remember. It is feelings, emotions, connections- it is hurt and pain, it is days with my brother and dad sinking model ships at Bode Lake. It is seeing my son’s face for the first time and praying for his safe arrival. It is all that has come, but especially that which has yet to occur. I remember past, present and future. It is that nagging hope and at the same time fear that when I look back on my life as a body of work the story will be incomplete, unrealized. It is hoping to have one moment of pure writerness adventure seeking joy spontaneity. The lone observer immersed in the most interesting of settings, recording it all with hyper-focus. It is the smallest of and the grandest of moments- the moments I did not even realize were moments.

What is my remembrance? Perhaps most importantly, it is my mortal struggle to understand change’s truth- the ever evolving force that binds it all together. Change in its purest most understood form can be a catalyst to set one free, release from mortal confusion and blindness. We hold tight that which we hold dearest, convince ourselves that it can last forever, or at the least never change until it is gone. This is flawed. Family, relationships, careers, possessions- we cling to these and spend energy and waste moments trying to dictate something that we have no control over. To have complete control in life is to let go of and realize you in fact have no control- the illusion of a life in balance. I am reminded often about change’s power and will, including the these first winter moments, where the landscape has changed seemingly in the blink of an eye, into a world almost forgotten. This is my winter remembrance.

The Student and Spilled Tea

{A modern-day take on a traditional inspired zen koan story}

Each night when the student would dream, he found himself trying to control his dreams, attempts (in vein) to force resolution, to find that which is missing within the dream world. This phenomenon would occur across various settings and elements of his dreams. The student would even begin to wake, realize he was dreaming and before he had completely lost the dream state, he would continue on, determined to force resolution within the dream. On one such occasion, the student was deep in a dream in which he was wandering through a large retail store in search of a missing item, his frustration levels rose and rose, not just in the dream, but in his real-world sleeping self. The student would not let himself move on from this dream, even in a state of fluidity between sleep and awake, his need for control and an orderly logical dream (life) had taken over. In another instance, he dreamed he was on vacation and had become separated from his friends and family. So determined to control the situation, ensure everyone was together, on-time and staying according to plan, he consciously choose to remain in this dream state and force and orderly completion to what he wakenly acknowledged was a dream and had no bearing on his real-life.

How sad the masters thought, this student of the way is so caught up in his idea of self and the illusion of control, that he not only attempts to control his waking-self, but also control the infinitely uncontrollable planes of the dream-world. How far he had to go in order to let go and begin to see truth and realize enlightenment.

One morning, the student woke up from another set of dreams in which he continued to impose his faulty ideas of control and structure on the ethereal plane. But on this morning, the student had a new thought- he realized what he was doing in his dreams, saw the futility of his attempts to exercise any amount of control and intentional direction over  them. He then pondered his real-life awake state and also realized that this same attempts at control and understanding were just as futile in the awaken-state as in the dream-state. The student for the first time saw that the dream world and the world he inhabited while awake we really one and the same, and control and forced resolution were an illusion in both, he realized that control, decision and logically structured outcomes were non-existent and he lived in clouded vision as long as he held on to these notions.

The student thought to himself, “control is an illusion, no matter in the dream world or in an awakened state, and it is my crutch and barrier to true-sight to hold on to this.” In that moment, the student achieved enlightenment.

 

{The same story written in a more traditional context}

A student dreamed of himself hosting a great master for dinner and tea. On this occasion, the student would sit down to eat with the master and realize that he had misplaced a key accompaniment to the meal, rendering the tea unusable. Sure that this would upset his guest, the student attempted in vein to recover his tea, even though the master ensured him it was no problem. The student began to awake from this dream and realized what was happening, so focused on control he dove back into the dream and continued to demonstrate failure in front of the master. The master stood up, intentionally spilled food on his robe, turned to the student, smiled, and thanked him for a perfect evening. The student awoke from his dream pondered what the master had done in his dream, stood up from his bed, spilled tea on himself, and smiled. In that moment, the student achieved enlightenment.

Duality

Upcoming…

  • A return to the wild free-flow of spontaneous prose
  • Train life
  • Duality
  • Letting go and not being limited by structure, proper form, or standard rules

 

The first winter storm has come and gone. Here I sit, motionless, yet continually in motion- the duality of life. The train roars on down the line- steel, wood, and ice collide in a swarmingly dark lovely cold attack windblown beautiful mind story. Here I sit. Rows of individuals, all faced forward, quiet, still, stoic- missing out on the connectedness of life. Here I sit.

The next stop has arrived- a flood, a momentary bustle of beehive kinetic flickering dance light excitement. It quickly dies down- the cold rows of warriors reminiscent of my time in China with Terra Cotta- resumes. Here I remain, in the back of the car so that I can observe, discover what the first minutes of dusk have to offer.

Outwardly I sip on a multi-layered flavored coffee in a throw-away Styrofoam cup. Internally I envision and long for a dented, cracked, faded, blue stainless steel with the little white flecks camping mug- the type you would carry with you on all of your travels and keep for decades. This is my duality- a modern worker with the spirit of a lonesome dharma bum traveler.

A few snow-capped trees pass by and I am reminded that the holidays are quickly approaching- that insane lovely time of chaos and peace- this is my family’s duality. Slyly I catch a peak of a fellow passenger’s laptop, discover what she is doing with her ride, this is what the train is in the morning- individual bubbles being gently penetrated by the next onlooker for a sense of connection and oneness. The young man (how old have I become) in front of me reeks of too much cologne- his attempt to be noticed, to scream out in a world that has trapped him in- this is peoples’ duality.

Pausing to reflect on my works, I realize that they are always there- even when you are not writing, you are writing. We roll on. It all happens so quickly, one moment you believe it will never come, and the next moment you are looking back to see what has happened- this is time’s duality.

Outside the moving looking glass inspired (uninspired) window, countless tracks litter the snow- quiet the bringer of truth and exposure, the snow tells a tale of who or what has been where- a tale that we cannot escape. The train rolls on and here I sit. Just as quickly as the snow appears and marks our tracks it will disappear and leave only a faint trace- this is the snow’s duality.

The snow is life.

Wild and frantic, the car bounces over the tracks, not a smooth gentle lover, but rather a rough around the edges sort. Here I sit. Here we all sit. This is life’s commonality.

 

Looking Back…

  • Writing can be free, uninhibited and wild
  • The Yin and Yang of life is everywhere

Rucksack

Upcoming…

  • Reflections on keeping momentum going in writing
  • Opening up about inspiration and attachment

 

I remember it all, the dream, the anticipation, that unknown beautifully terrifying feeling in the bottom of your stomach. It was time. I seemed ready to conquer, to make it happen, to transform. I sat and starred at the still newly worn green rucksack, the perfect item I had selected to hold my writing necessities. A sacred vessel in which within would hold the treasures allowing me to transform. I selected the green rucksack (and called it rucksack versus backpack) because of him, because of Kerouac. A nod to his wandering, dharma bum, traveling within the void, my inspiration and closest known author to what I strive to do. I am sentimental in that way, placing special meaning on a rucksack, an attachment to help inspire me (the attachment to an object alone would upset the dharma bum- sorry Jack). So there I sat, staring at the pack, feeling lost, lost and disappointed. The writing adventure started off a glorious blaze of hope and inspiration, settled into a groove, and over the past few weeks has nearly fallen by the wayside. Why? Did I not care anymore, had I lost the passion? No, quite the opposite as a matter of fact. I have been missing it- pining for a block of time to write, pick up the pen and let it all spill out, my soul escaping through vestibules of life’s cement jungle, each crack filled with an endless stream of wordy waves of liquid night fueled passion words. This is my struggle. I (again) have let the distractions of life get in the way. Then it hit me- I felt despair- I felt loss- loss for the dream I had felt grow closer, that now had receded deep into the void, a faint twinkle tempting and eluding me daily.

Tonight has been good. This has been good. The pen is active, the mind sharp, and the flame still burning- time to dust off that old green rucksack and get on the road Jack.

 

Looking Back…

It takes strong focus and sometimes recommitment to achieve success