Purpose, it’s that little flame…

We’re here to learn, and these lessons are predetermined. It’s up to us to work through the past karmic debt we carry. We are all connected, aspects of an eternal force, the Godhead, Universe, or Source. We carry with us the possibility for understanding and love.

The meaning of life is to experience. It’s the only rational purpose I can assign to the mystery of it all. Why we suffer, why we grieve, why we continue to love and give of ourselves. It’s a spiritual existence having a temporary physical one.

In that interconnectedness, we must understand that what we do to others is manifest in what will happen to us. Karma. The golden rule. These are the elements of all faiths that show us that behaving well, caring for each other, is a righteous path.

The belief that power over others will somehow fulfill us causes us to seek out status. Financial gains, palatial estates, the ability to hire and fire as we see fit. An ego-driven force that tarnishes our spiritual efforts. 

We are born with a pervasive want, or need, driving us towards some goal. As children, I believe, we have a better grasp of who we are and our place in the Universe. It’s as we age, and become educated, that the neuroses begin to develop. What if we’re not good enough? What if we don’t succeed?

Yet, if happiness can be found in a job well done, and a life well lived, than the other trappings and accoutrement are superfluous. 

On the reading bug

Started reading a book (the intro really, plus a few entries) that I had purchased a few weeks ago. Nick Hornby’s Ten Years in the Tub: A decade soaking in great books. First, I love books. The idea of what Hornby did for The Believer, where each month he would just talk about the books he read and ones he bought, was entirely captivating to me.

So, this being the first entry of the month, I’d like to take a cue from Nick Hornby:

June 2017

Books Bought:

  • The Republic – Plato
  • Atlantis: The Eighth Continent – Charles Berlitz
  • Designing Your Life – Bill Burnett & Dave Evans
  • Conversational Spanish in 20 Lessons – Cortina Method
  • Light on Yoga – B.K.S. Iyengar
  • The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
  • Thinking: The New Art of Decision-Making  – Edited by John Brockman

Books Read:

  • Do the Work! – Steven Pressfield
  • Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Douglas Adams
  • Outrageous Openness – Tosha Silver
  • The Perdition Score – Richard Kadrey
  • Sept. ’03 – Jan. ’04 of Ten Years in the Tub – Nick Hornby
  • Worth Dying For – Lee Child
  • The War of Art – Steven Pressfield (started)

What can I tell you about the books I’ve read? Or bought? Why do we do this? I found a beautiful passage in the intro to Ten Years in the Tub, written by Jess Walter:

“That the books we buy are almost as important as those  we read. From the beginning there were always two columns [referring to Hornby’s monthly article], Books Bought and Books Read. By my crude math, Nick spent somewhere around ten or fifteen grand on books he hasn’t even read. Besides showing that he did his part to support publishing during a tough economic period, this suggests something important about reading. Looking around my own obsessively crowded shelves, I see there are two categories of books I tend to keep: those I love and those I hope one day to read. If the books we read reflect the person we are, the books we hope to read might just be who we aspire to be. There is something profound in that.”

I checked out Do the Work! and Dirk Gently from the library. Both came precariously close to being returned unread, but something about each grabbed me and made me change course. The library and, by extension, book stores, are sort of a second home to me. And in this in-between period, where the old life I lived has fallen away and the new one is just breaking out of its cocoon, they function more as my first home than the place that houses my stuff.

Do the Work! walks us through the creative process, highlighting the role of resistance in creation. Now, I’m a big fan of Seth Godin. Have been since I first stumbled across The Icarus Deception, oh, three years ago. At that time I was creatively stifled, my professional and personal lives not working out the way that I had intended. He begged his readers to do the work, fight resistance, and ship! Yes! I can get on board with that.

Pressfield’s book does much the same, but not as effectively. I do feel inspired to do the work, yet I get stuck on syntax when he delves into his theory on the contradictory nature of the Universe’s role in Resistance/Assistance. I’ll likely come at this book again a year or two down the road, and see if I agree or disagree more with the sentiment. The War of Art has been on my reading list for a few years, so it was time to pull the trigger and buy it. I’m just starting it, and seeing the themes revisited from Do the Work!

Adams is always fun, and Dirk Gently’s was no exception. The thought and connectivity he puts into a book about interconnectivity gives enough laugh-out-loud moments that I found myself flying through it.

Atlantis and the course on Spanish weren’t bought, per se. Rather free books in a stack at the library. There’s a girl from Barcelona I wish I were better able to communicate with, though she speaks  English more fluidly than I do. Atlantis, eh. Always curious about the esoteric and metaphysical.

In The Perdition Score, I got to resist the character Sandman Slim, aka James Stark, as he moved up and down a supernatural Los Angeles, and back into Hell. I began reading Kadrey’s series last February, what is that, fourteen months ago? Since then, I’ve read eight and just committed to reading the ninth when I saw it in the bookstore. Perdition is probably the best of the series since Sandman Slim, but I’m a sucker for watching Stark get even when someone goes after his friends.

Another series that I just began last year but have managed to put a considerable dent in is the Jack Reacher collection, by Lee Child. Worth Dying For is well-plotted mystery, and I had trouble putting it down as well. I spent the better part of two days catching up with Mr. Reacher in a little Nebraska town run by some no-goods that were, par for the course, up to no good. It’s a satisfying read, and moves the story towards him heading back to Virginia, which they adapted for film in last year’s Never Go Back.

Tosha Silver and Iyengar’s books are part of my required reading for the yoga practice. I bought Light on Yoga from a Los Angeles Goodwill on Amazon, so it’ll arrive soon. It was like five bucks. Outrageous Openness we discussed at the yoga studio, and it seems to be of big help to those of us who have trouble letting go and trusting that Divine help will be coming.

My first experience with that concept was back in November, 2015, when I started Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I know some crazy things can happen, once you say okay and let the Universe/Divine/God/Source start working on you.

I made it though five whole books this month, with two solid starts, and a few dips into other assorted writings. I can’t guarantee that many, but there is that new Sandman Slim out there, as well as a Reacher novel someone loaned me. Plus, there’s a stack of library books on philosophy that need to be returned this month, so it may be more likely that I get a sit down with Spinoza and Kierkegaard.

9P(R)

My shorthand for tarot readings, Nine of Pentacles Reversed. I had a rough day at work, and decided it was time to move on; time to leave there and find a new job. I wanted to ask the Universe what today taught me. This was the card I drew.

“This card in reverse may be telling you that something you are spending a lot of time on will not yield financial or personal gain. You may be wasting effort. Consider if it’s time to throw in the towel on something that is not giving you the results you had hoped for.”

Thank you Universe.

I’m listening to Dvorak’s New World Symphony right now, to relax. I picked up a used album at a library sale a few weeks back. I’ve been wearing that vinyl down. There’s something supremely reassuring about the notes of No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95.

I had listened to a Chamber Ensemble in Prague, and the Second Movement of this symphony was played. It’s one of my all time favorites.

The title of this blog post comes courtesy of watching Shut Eye, on Hulu. I just got around to seeing it, and really enjoyed. Each episode was titled after a Tarot card, and was relevant to the plot.

The overall thoughts on my mind are new beginnings. Learning that life has a path, a plan. To quote Tosha Silver, “Let what wants to come, come. Let what wants to go, go.”

Amen!

Find your true North

Most of my life now is lived in the phrase,”Recently I’ve…” As in, “Recently I’ve been reading…”; or, “Recently I’ve started a practice of…” Very little in my life as it is can date back to before a year and a half ago. I’d say it would be a positive thing (living in the moment, and all that) but recently I’ve noticed that much of what made me who I was has been lost in the shuffle as well.

Like most things, I sat down thinking I’d be writing about the book that recently I’ve started reading, Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans. I had heard an interview with them on NPR last year and made a mental note to read the book at some point. 

Thinking of the design problems of life (my life in particular) led me to think of another book that recently I’ve started reading: Wanderlust, by Jeff Krasno. This was a companion piece to the fact that recently I’ve started a practice of yoga. Which, in the full circle way my mind works, brought me back to the fact that the past eighteen months has been a whirlwind and I still have no clue what I’m doing. 

Then I thought, that may not be a bad thing. We got lost sometimes. Lose our way. Think we’re following a path only to look down and see that we’re the only set of footprints to be found. But every path had to be discovered that first time. Not every mistake leads to innovation, but every innovation began with a mistake. 

The cover of Wanderlust invites the reader to “find your true north”. I set the picture of my first tattoo as header because I’ve been searching for true North for longer than eighteen months. Maybe that’s the one constant throughout my whole weird and wonderful existence. Who knows if we ever reach it? But I believe that we can keep moving the needle in that direction.

Namaste.  

On Heavenly Spheres

Where are we going?

This great spinning rock carrying us along?

Could it have a destination?

Does this globe know its course?

This dance with its sisters, and with the sun; an endless, graceful performance piece with music from the stars.

What are we, then, both onlookers and passengers?

Looking up, we know that beyond the veil there is something more.

A choreographer, who created these steps long ago. Also, as architect, built the floor for our waltz through the sky; set these heavenly spheres on their course, and insisted we hang on for the ride.

spow_may26_03c

When everything is tragedy

This week more than twenty people lost their lives in an explosion. This week more than twenty families grieve the loss of loved ones. This week a world, once again, looks for reason and rationale. 

When everything is tragedy, where does one find hope? 

I don’t know the answer. I know that there are cries for justice. Cries for a cessation to needless killing. Cries for understanding, for tolerance, for recourse.

But where should we look? What is the meaning, the purpose? Why does it keep happening? 

It feels as if we’re on the edge of something, and pretty soon it’s going to tip. What will we find on the other side?

When everything is tragedy, where does one find love?

Philosophical Art

Been on a brief hiatus, as I reoriented myself in a direction I’m comfortable with. Coming to terms with losing love, the balancing of material and spiritual, energizing my thoughts and, finally, discovering what it means to break life down into manageable segments.  

“It’s not the destination, but the journey.” – Attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Years ago I conceived Michael’s Musings to be a political soap box for my thoughts and views on the happenings and going-ons of American politicians. I was, and remain, an ardent Obama supporter, and remain convinced of his merits as president to this day. I’ve been non-vocal on my views following this past election, partly because I’ve been preoccupied with my own crises. Though not a major factor in the lives of most Americans, my dark night has been the Matterhorn looming in the foreground of my consciousness, waiting to claim a life. My life. 
It’s this mountain, this hard time in my life, this period of reshaping, that reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art speech. In it, he implored the graduates of the University of Arts in Philadelphia to find their mountains. Make decisions that put them closer to reaching it. To achieving those goals. 

Thing was, I had long ago lost sight of my mountain. in my proper job, with a desk and office and chair and computer, I put a little sticky note on the monitor. “Will it bring you closer to your mountain?” I wrote on it, using the Japanese character for mountain (山) rather than the word. And every day I would sit there and look at it. I’d wonder whether I was getting closer to it, not even remembering what I had planned for it to be.

Then, after so long spent wondering, the damn mountain came and crashed on top of me. I guess it got tired of waiting for me to figure out that I was supposed to be climbing it. Figuratively, I was crushed. I was now facing decisions that I had no clue how to handle. And only over the past couple of weeks have things began to once again come into focus. The mountain, now looming large in my vision, is calling to me. Beckoning me to come climb it. So I take the first step.

“1837. Oct. 22. “What are you doing now?” he asked. “Do you keep a journal?” So I make my first entry to-day.’ – The Journals of Henry David Thoreau.