I think I might

I think I might change my name to Zen Koan and become a great spiritual teacher. I would start of every teaching in this way:

Hello. 

I am Zen Koan.

But also, I am not. 

Let us begin. 

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I lose my mind

Little by little 

I lose my mind

In hopes of other gains

At some point I chose

Seems foolish now

I cannot say ’twas good

Only that I grow different

Stronger in ways

Society shuns

Or fears

Do I rake the earth with my nails

Seeking crevice to anchor

When from force of gravity

And wind burnt skin

I know I’ve fallen

Into my body

I pray for this fear to release

For finality of acceptance

The safety of wool blankets

The searing heat of truth

And the lush calm

Of love’s embrace

Aho

The Farce of Words

I tend to agonize over word choices.  I constantly check definitions of words I already know to make sure that it means exactly what I want to say.  Passages are re-written to be more similar to the way I speak. And even still, some of my personal interactions with readers responding to what I have written have not gone well.  My words have been taken out of context, misconstrued, misused. People have even added their own words to mine, which gives whole new meanings that were completely unintended. This happens in all of my writings; blog posts, emails, texts, yeah.

So, I have this realization that sometimes it doesn’t matter how much thought I put into my word choices when I cannot control how anyone will think or feel or respond to what I write.

Maybe this is the same realization inspired James Joyce to write Finnegan’s Wake?  Maybe I should just write what I want to most, what interests me, what entertains me, and fuck the readers? Okay, that doesn’t work either.  If I did that it would read like a jazz musician pounding their way through an improvisatory solo where no one in the audience has a god damned clue what the fuck they listening to. At best, writing that way would entitle me to a membership with the Chronic Masturbators Society.  No offense, James Joyce.  Also, no offense to masturbators.  I love you, masturbators!  Thanks for doing what you do.

My initial feelings when encountering these confused interactions have been anger and frustration. I am the kind of person that accepts responsibility for everything I do and say, and for understanding what I read or hear.  That’s a lot of pressure to put on myself. I’m thinking now that I should put some of that responsibility on others.  It’s a two-way street, right?  I can hold myself accountable for doing my best to express myself in a clear and thoughtful way, and expect people to read the words I actually write…  Yeah I’m so fucked on this one.

I am, at this moment at least, resolute in that I should look for the humor in these situations.  The truth is and will always be that people will have their own mindsets.  Certain words will trigger reactions that I have no control over.  And especially on emotional topics, my obsession with being clear and precise may not matter.  I don’t want to write with a billion footnotes and citations.  That is tedious for everyone.

For now, because I feel like it, and because it is oddly appropriate, I will leave you with a favorite quote from the inimitable Tom Robbins:

“It is what it is.  You are what you it.  There are no mistakes.”

Stone
blog.stonehooper@gmail.com

 

Authenticity and The Road

Authenticity, when used in the context of self help and new-age spiritual descriptors, is one of those words that I hate to love because of the plethora of overzealous, pretentious fucks that spew its virtues while masturbating all over themselves. That was fun to write. And I should really explain where I am coming from.

Striving for an authentic life is a genuinely noble ideal. What better pursuit than to strip away life’s frivolities and inconsequentials and exist in a plane of personal truths? To make conscious one’s choices and reactions to external forces? That there is some prime shit to work on. I love the idea.

I’ve seen many people try to live this way. It is interesting to watch, actually. Most of the time they fall in love with their words and think they shit nifties. Authenticity for beginners is learning to think for oneself and not be a slave to expectations. It is recognizing that you always did X because that is what your parents wanted and raised you to do, but you desperately want to do Y. You have that choice. Your parents are outside forces, and you are now allowing your internal compass to guide you. Sure, not listening to them means that you will never afford a Maserati, but you are happier this way, right? Who needs a Maserati? It’s just a  bourgeois possession that happens to be sinuous in style, rich with heritage, and thrilling to control.  And oh so visceral.

Fuck. I really, really want a Maserati.

Looking honestly at reality, how is one supposed to cast off external forces and come to their core when it is those external forces that help us to define ourselves? We live in the world and have no recourse but to exist there, in this place, ultimately outside of choice.

So we come to relation, which may be the single word that helps us to understand what the ideal authentic life is. See, we all understand and interpret the world in our own way. It is how we relate to the world that allows us to judge what is external and internal, what is good and what is not, and how we believe we should live. We see what our parents do, and use that experience to judge what is right for us. We watch our friends struggle, and wish we could be cool like them, so we judge their actions to be valuable. Your version of authenticity will be different from mine because we didn’t live the same life with the same emotions and desires and visions.

Now, I’ve known a few that approach their lives earnestly and soberly. They are truly impressive people. I see them step back from the pressure to make a decision and to exist in the space between while they feel out their options. I hear them talk about their relationships with both options. There is a humility about them, and in that humility I see their strength. I see how they allow themselves to feel their hurts so very deeply and to allow their highs to soar without losing their love of the ground. I see it as a difficult life. They are the most authentic people I know. I wish I were more like them, and they are certainly heroes to me.

I used to want to be great. It’s funny to contemplate now because I never really put in the effort to be great at anything. I was silly. And I was putting my sense of self worth in the hands of others to judge as great.  I now recognize that as foolish and without balance. I don’t think either extreme is good for us and our souls. Balance is a powerful thing. Could finding balance be the true way to an authentic life?

Six Whiskeys

I’m going to try to write this without sounding like a self-righteous fuck. Here goes.

My brother and I spent much time together during my cousin’s wedding this weekend. Both of us felt awkward there and being together, talking about experiences and values that we share, helped us to cope. We are both introverts, which doesn’t help. What really brought out that feeling of awkwardness was the separation we felt from other groups of people; the chasm. I don’t know if the idea of the chasm is a real “thing” that has been described in psychology publications, but I have willed it into existence if it wasn’t there before. Booyah. Ever had that experience where you are with a group of people and feel that you don’t belong? Your life experiences, values, sexual preferences, cultural expectations (used in the micro-culture or even tribal sense), and especially your beliefs can create in you a strong sense of being that you recognize to be incompatible with others.

Both my brother and I value conscious living and healthy lifestyle. He is much more strict about it, but the value is shared. We both value personal and spiritual growth, depth in communication, personal connections, and we have belief systems that are incongruent with Christianity. We also have done psychedelic drugs in ceremonies. And we don’t really drink. It’s not our thing.

So here we are at this Christian wedding. Fairly well-to-do society around us. We are talking about peyote and ayahuasca. They are talking about their retirement or business. We are talking about spiritual teachers and authors that resonate with us, they are making the rounds saying very casual and shallow greetings to the guests. We repeatedly have folks come up to us and leave very quickly. They ask where we are from but don’t want to know more than a point on a map. That answer was enough.

They certainly can drink, too. At the rehearsal dinner and at the reception the line for booze was the place to be. When in Rome, we got in line.

So what’s the deal with this chasm. It obviously isn’t real. We put it there. To give ourselves perspective? To protect our beliefs? To judge ourselves better? Does it go both ways?

Yes.

And I can tell you with utmost certainty this one truth: after six whiskeys we are all the same. Salud!

Break It Yourself

A letter to my self:

Dear Stone,

Yesterday morning a small bird hit the window next to me. This is the first time it has happened here. It isn’t one of those windows birds are always flying into. I looked down and saw it breathing and was relieved, thinking it was just stunned. As I watched its breathing slow, I realized it was dying. I buried it amongst the trees behind my home with red cloth and sage. Such a beautiful bird.  So tragic.
Death is the great transition. Physical death takes us to a place that we cannot understand, for a purpose we cannot know. Metaphorical death is just a ball of suck.

I suppose it is what we must do; Keep chipping away at the song of mother culture, break the bonds of expectations, dig deep into ourselves to find out truth. Not an easy journey. I started this path a while back now and have to say that although I love how much more I understand about myself, I fucking hate the journey. Roller coasters are a much better idea than the epic tides of emotions that rape me. I should have just gone to Six Flags and bought some ignorance.

Sweet Medicine tells the story of her childhood relationship with her grandfather. She was always curious about his work, as he practiced the old ways, and he would always chase her off. He would yell at her to get out. He would keep telling her she wanted to be somewhere else. But still she kept coming back to him. He was making sure that she genuinely wanted to be on this path. He knew the reality of what it was and the benefit of ignorance.

Okay, Stone, here is the important thing; If you had that experience with a mentor that you looked up to, you would keep going back. So either way you would end up where you are now. Before, you didn’t understand that you were connected to everything. Now you do. Now you also understand just how alone you really are. This is your path. These are your choices. Free will really is the biggest bitch of them all. So now it is just you, sitting next to your truth and a cup of tea. I’ve heard you say before that truth never was an engaging conversationalist. I guess you’ll find out now.

Break ties that don’t serve you. Break walls blocking you from knowing. Break into your heart space and steal a good long stare at what is there. Break your self. Defiantly take your strength in hand and use it to choose a metaphorical death. Don’t wait for it. I’m not even sure you should rebuild. Your raw truth exposed to the universe is the most connected and perfect you will ever be. Fuck the fear and work through it.

Stone, keep writing. It is the one outlet you have that allows for unfettered expression. It is your deepest connection to your truth.

I wish I could say that I love you.

Yours,

Stone

Chugga Chugga Woo Wooooo

Question: Is the point of a spiritual life to live in a place of high vibration or of balance?

Well, here I sit at the end of the day. By all practical measures it was good, but I’m emotionally spinning away inside that tornado I’ve mentioned. I need a break from it so I’m going to write something else. I’ll start with a response to the question above that stemmed from a discussion I had with a friend.

Answer: Fuck if I know. Honestly, I don’t know that anyone can authoritatively answer that. And I suspect that anyone who claims that they can is selling something. I have some thoughts and feelings about it that I will share for the purpose of discussion. I’m not your leader. Don’t follow me. You can give me money, though.

So let’s talk about vibration. In this context I am talking about energetic vibration, not physical vibration. You are a physical being and you aren’t going to evolve into a light being. Sorry. One of the easiest ways to get the concept is with simple emotions. Joy is a very high vibration. Desperation and hopelessness are very low vibrations. Getting lots of hugs from people you love will raise your vibration. Driving in Seattle traffic will definitely lower it. Pretty easy, right?

It is possible to exist at different vibrations. And it isn’t like you are just joyful or sad all the time. Depression is an easy to understand example I think, because so many have experienced it. When people are depressed they inhabit that vibration. They seek similar vibrations to their own because it is oddly comforting. Depressed people don’t listen to John Denver, they listen to Damien Rice and Radiohead. They can cease to recognize or appreciate things that aren’t energetic matches to themselves. It is possible to live in a container of energy where you can (mostly) control what comes in and out and how you perceive it. The glass is half empty. Life in the bubble. Now imagine living a life where instead of being depressed bubble boy, you are ecstatic container girl. What if you felt high vibrations all the time? People in this state can actually alter the way they perceive everything around them so it seems better. Sounds pretty fucking great, right? Like living an orgasm and eating nothing but chocolate covered ice cream sandwiches. Sign me up!!! Some people even go so high they can see faeries and talk to spirits. Shamanic journeying is entering a state of ecstasy to communicate with those beyond our world. Shamans only journey for short periods of time, though.

There are real problems with living in an vibrational bubble, namely, it isn’t real. How do you relate to your family and friends? How do you shop for car insurance? What about trying to drive safely on a road, surrounded by other motorists, staying between the lines, while orgasming and eating your chocolate covered ice cream sandwiches? You might be blissed out, but you are also blissfully unaware and functioning on a level that doesn’t work in society. I think that’s great for spiritual adventures like vision quests and other ceremonies. It doesn’t work in day to day life. You will spend so much energy keeping yourself in that high place that you won’t have any left over for relationships.

Enlightenment is a solitary endeavor. A personal quest. What happens when you get there and have to take a shit but there isn’t toilet paper? No answer intended for this, I just wanted to write it.

Grounding is a hugely important spiritual topic. So many people don’t know what it means. They might come out of a big, spiritual ceremony altered to high heaven and unable to do basic math but say, “Oh man I feel so grounded!!” Wrong. You feel high. You just came out of a womb, rebirthed into new life and are a spiritual newborn taking in everything for the first time. You are high as a kite.

Grounding is when you come back to earth. When you sit under a tree and smell the air and feel the moisture in the soil. When you connect to all things in our physical existence. When you see the mountain lion staring at you and it scares the shit out of you. When you feel your cat purring on your lap and reach down to pet him. Grounding is connected awareness. It is knowingness. Grounding is our collective reality.

For where I am at in my life with my experiences, balance between high vibration and being grounded feels the most right. I feel all of my emotions, the full spectrum of vibration, and acknowledge them. I spend time with each and try not to prioritize one over the other. I listen to the wind skimming over the treetops.

Familiar with the tale of Icarus? His father makes two sets of wings for both of them to escape the chaos of their homeland. His father tells icarus not to fly too high or too low and to follow in his path. Giddy with the excitement and thrill of flight, Icarus ignores his father’ warning and flys higher and higher until the sun melts the wax on his wings and the feathers fall off and all he is left with are his bare, flapping arms. At the moment of this realization he falls to the sea and perishes.

I think this works better as a spiritual metaphor than the traditional one warning of setting your aspirations too high. Icarus didn’t make the wings, he was gifted them. He didn’t start with aspirations of glorious flight. With his gift he followed in a path set out for him and as he experienced new and greater sensations the higher he flew, he became oblivious to the reality of his physical world. Only when he sees and understands the disconnect does he fall into the sea.

A good life requires balance, I think. Go have your highs, allow for and honor your lows, and remember toilet paper.

How to Love an Empath

Ok. So, first. What is an Empath? This is for those of you that don’t see endless Facebook memes about it.  Not like they are accurate or informative anyways. Fuck Facebook. Fair warning: I have some serious snark tonight. I’ll try to reign it in for the good of humanity.
An Empath is someone that feels things that come from outside themselves. That’s the basic gist. Some are much more sensitive than others. Some only pick up things when they are with others, and some are unfortunate enough to pick up things anytime and anywhere and it could be unrelated to who and what they are currently around. There are different kinds of Empaths including emotional, intellectual, animal, crystal, plant, spiritual and mechanical. Yeah I’m not kidding. There are books on this. And it is some woo-woo shit, but I am one and I know it is real enough.

It should be noted that I’m not going to help anyone “diagnose” their partner as empathic. There are plenty of online resources to help with that. The journey of learning about one’s empathic nature is kind of a wild ride. There will be lots to process. I can honestly promise that it is worth the effort.

So you have fallen in love with an Enpath. Here are things you can expect:

  • Bullet points.
  • They will know things. Maybe they will tell you and maybe they won’t. But they will know. It’s totally up to you if you want to know what they do. There are pluses to either choice. I think it’s kinda cool when other Empaths share what they know with me. It is intimate and can be enlightening.
  • They are sensitive beings and most are very emotional. It is important that you not take their sensitivity personally. I know it is hard not to. I’ve watched a few of my partners really suffer with this. You need to worry about your stuff. Find a way to ask what they need and be supportive without sacrificing your emotions or sanity. Maybe they need space, maybe it is to be held and to feel stable energy. It is important to ask them. If they don’t know what to do and they know they are empathic, gently encourage them to find help. If you’re the cause of the problem, then you obviously have some shit to deal with. See how helpful I am ?
  • Be honest with them.
  • Be completely honest with them. Two bullet points here because of how important it is. Remember how I said they will know things? Well it is quite possible that they know you are full of the poo. Or maybe you are hiding feelings from your Empath? Bad idea. Here is the problem if you don’t see it; they will either know your feelings and what you tell them won’t match, which will make them not trust you, or they will know something is wrong and think that they are the problem. That is unfair. I know honesty hurts sometimes. If you are partnered with an Empath, honesty is the only beneficial way to communicate. Ever.
  • Untrained Empaths are a real challenge. I know as it took me years to figure a lot of this stuff out. I used to think I was fucked in the head and needed meds. Meds never worked, because it wasn’t a chemical problem. They might feel similar. Untrained Empaths don’t know how to distinguish what is theirs and what isn’t. They don’t know how to care for their own emotional self or how to protect themselves from negative shit. They will likely be running on intuition to care for themselves. It will keep them out of some trouble but not enough for them to thrive as people.
  • Negotiate with them for things that you need which are hard for them. It’s a relationship. They are going to have to compromise and not dominate the relationship with their needs. I look at this as basic introvert/extrovert negotiation. In some ways you are opposites. Sometimes they will need to step into a mall to go shopping with you, or attend to a family member in a hospital. Those places are so chaotic energetically. But, Empaths can’t run away from things they should do because they are Empaths.
  • Empaths do not deserve to dominate the relationship. Their sensitivity can make that happen, especially if you are one that enables them. You are an equal partner. Communicate with them. Work towards balance.
  • Love them for who they are. They are flawed people just like you.
  • Fuck them a lot.

My apologies for all the ‘might’s and ‘can be’s, for all the generalizing. It’s impossible to write a catch-all post like this. I really do hope that it helps. These were hard learned lessons for me. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

Shut the Door, Open a Window. Or Multiple Windows?

The fist time I heard the phrase “Shut the door and open a window” was when I was teaching. The idea, for those who aren’t familiar, is to enforce a rule and make some kind of opportunity to redeem or move on. For most it works well, but not for all. Those with a self righteous sense of equality rail against it, and those who are depressed or meek might not look for the window or do the work when given. It is a good idea though, and it gives a glimpse into teacher mentality.

I’ve since heard it expressed by religious folk; “God never closes a door without opening a window.”  Pretty considerate of that God, guy. He never gives us anything we can’t handle. Except for the plague, world wars and dictators, head on collisions, drug overdoses……  Ok yeah take your pick.

Recently I’ve been experiencing it differently. With all this writing and processing I am doing, as I figure things out I am closing doors. Women? Shut that one. Just a couple of days ago, actually. Windows are opening for me, though. The day after I decided to focus my energy on meeting LGBT people in my community and moving in that direction, I got set up on a blind date with a (gasp) woman (it’s just a low pressure hike with myself and the date and her friend that I had dated on just one date. Confused?). Then another window; my ex and I start talking much more than we had been. Some heavy conversation led to me writing her a personal blog of sorts. Ok fine it was a letter. Big shit in there, let me tell you. But it was received well and we will continue talking more. Where is all of this going? I’d be lying if I said had any clue. Makes for some fun drama.   Unless the date is un-fucking-believable I’ll be hoping for friendship there. What about the ex? Well, we will talk. I’m not going to ask her to drop what she is doing, and she knows exactly what is going on in my head. She’s read every blog I’ve written and she’s supportive of me chasing boners.

As I close more doors and figure more out, it will be interesting to see which windows open for me. And who is it that is opening them? Ive got my eye on you, God! Don’t get crafty. Eh, it’s probably Pan. That dude is lusty and surely wants me to have a good romp.

Good night, and good luck. If you see a compelling boner that isn’t attached to a dick let me know.