Monday, January 12, 2015

Culmination & Redemption NOW!

HAPPENING THIS MONTH:  The full length  version of Living  the Dream Deferred drops in paperback January  2105.   Meanwhile, the Rhino is roamin'.  Just hit the Nixon Library in  Yorba Linda, what a flashback.  Former  icon of the Establishment was also  a Capricorn.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

After Living the Dream Deferred--Life Straight UP!

Just before graduation!
We can be heroes, if we try       
       David Bowie 
Emancipate yourself from mental slavery
       Bob Marley
Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their customs, privileges, or beliefs.
      Leo Tolstoi
It takes courage to grow up to turn out to be who you really are.
                                               e. e. Cummings
Fear is the cheapest room in your house.  I would like to see you living in better conditions.
Free at last

Mid-year already and six years since my graduation (release?) from the Monday through Friday job/ career. Ups/ downs, expansion/ contraction, and creativity/ depression all traveled with me on this journey of redemption.  Seeking to free my spirit, I followed a path to inner and outer places of unexpected wonder and terror.  In the process, I gave up my fantasies about retirement and what remains is curiosity.  I listen to its siren call daily.  

At the same time my demands on myself and others are few. To paraphrase Ernest Holmes, 'I am open at the top.'  It was a tough passage into elder phase of life and demanded major shifts in self-concept and lifestyle. Formerly frenetic with work, friends, personal growth, and wealth accumulation, now equanimity and ease under gird my life.

On location at the Novel, Main St
On December 21, 2012, hundreds of gatherings and thousands of people around the world noted the end of the Mayan calendar and celebrated the dawning of a new era.  Through a global televised hook up, millions heard noted teachers speak of the new beginning this event promised.  The date had enough notoriety for Hollywood to make a disaster movie on that theme.  Of course, Armageddeon did NOT happened.   

Ready for anything!
Although every year seems to mark some auspicious, world changing event that will usher in a time of harmony, love, and peace, 2012 inspired me to end, the Living the Dream Deferred blog.
Originally, I planned to write a guide to reinvention for the newly retired Baby Boomer with self help tips and suggestions prompted by experiences in my daily life at home and on out of town trips.  Looking back at the early blogs, many functioned as personal pep talks.  I gave a lot of advice that was essentially three fingers pointing at myself.  Not directions for others to follow, but suggestions to myself.

On the trail of redemption
Rereading the 69 blogs recently in preparation for publishing them as a book, my self-critic whispered—What hokey new age pablum?  How did I turn such powerful experiences into mush?  In spite of that, they represent three years of highs and lows, confusion and clarity, hope and despair, adventure and banal, stimulation and boredom.  As my associate, the Ravendove would say--'There is blood on the page.'  In the process of writing LDD, a good chunk of my personal and spiritual growth the last couple years has come from writing and posting this blog-Nothing like the web for public exposure. 

In the creative cauldron with Ravendove
Trusting my muse, I explored and wrote about many tributaries of my life. From Santa Fe to Maui, from hot springs to stone masonry, from abstract painting to spoken word poetry, from reggae to raga.  Following my inner compass, I embraced the story in front of me and within me and rooted around for its meaning.

Wandering sadhu meets a fellow traveler

Why do I write?--To inform, to make sense of life, and to help others.   Along with such an agenda, doubts arise:  Is this too personal?  Why am I doing this?  I am lousy. Will anyone read it?  Does it really help anyone? 

The bright light of Truth in the Chiracauhuas

If you have been following this blog from the beginning, you may notice a distinct shift in tone: No more adamant assertions of ‘do this’ or ‘read that.’ Do I have prescriptions? Do I have theory to flog?  Not now, but I strive to strike a chord of truth and that may also speak to the reader.  If so, then I have succeeded. 

On the road again

On this road places and people both new and old taught me the most, when I had my mind, heart, and eyes wide open.  For example, the most popular essay is about my passionate pursuit of hot springs.  Another popular piece is about Taylor Camp, Hawaii, which I wrote to illustrate the power of youthful and innocent exploration of community.  That appealed to many residents and lovers of Hawaii.  Some of the pieces attempted to explain psychological theories, as in the example of Dr. Jung’s synchronicity. 

Neither fish nor fowl nor vegan
I believe each of us has a hero within.  The hero faces the obstacles inside and out which limit our fulfillment in life.  No one can tell you your growing edge, that place within that calls out for recognition and expression, which you may have avoided for many years.  Taking either that inner or outer journey demands that we are courageous, while knowing that like the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, we may not be rewarded in this world.  But following that call offers its own reward of inner peace, self-acceptance, and contentment.  

Rhino has risen, self-portrait

After decades of living, most of us have seen that when one goal is achieved or a certain issue handled, another one appears.  Life is not a destination but a journey.  There is no ultimate success-- nowhere to go, nothing to achieve, and nothing to prove.  Goals may serve to motivate action but ultimately life consists of beginnings and endings--even our lives.  Closing a chapter such as Living the Dream Deferred opens space for new beginnings. 

Firebird Rising
An Ebook of the best of Living the Dream Deferred will be published in the Fall, 20I3.  Please check the LDD fan page on Facebook for info. If you have any closing thoughts, suggestions, or questions, please comment on this blog. I deeply appreciate every reader taking the time to ride with me. For me the greatest reward of writing is the connections made with fellow travelers in search of truth.   

Platitudes, books, and prayers only get you so far, now my calling is for raw, real experiences. In my next project I'll report on those journeys, inner and outer/ highs and lows--and leave 'blood on the page.'  

My intention is to be courageous, equanimous, and authentic with myself and to the reader, as I pursue the five aspects of Martin Seligman's paradigm of flourishing; relationships, achievement, service, pleasure, and growth.  

Two new blogs will debut soon:  Coffee, Hot Springs, Reggae, and Monuments, where I explore my passions in settings around the world and Reinventors 40/60:  Interviews with people rebooting into new lifestyles and work. 

Keep Konnected to Klarin:  See you down the road!  RAN
Aug. 6, 2013 @ Cow's End, MDR, CA

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Drop I AM and Enjoy Life

ONE LAST REMNANT FROM THE ARCHIVES OF THE ROAMING RHINO'S REINVENTION.  This piece explores my frustration with the bloated self importance that dominate the new age and the self help industry.   Originally drafted August 29, 2012

At the local coffee house, our trio of non-traditional workers hunkered around the Red Book by CJ Jung:  A  recently published stream of Jung’s unconscious, expressed in hand-painted mandalas, mystical stories and scholarly analysis.  We were pondering a mandala (spiritual drawing) painted by Jung in 1920—in the center is a brightly colored flower with sharp, yellow arrows shooting out.   The footnotes include a quote from Dr Jung, “Initially, the flower in the middle was me at the center of the universe and all of creation radiated from it.”  The footnote explains that he eventually realized that his first take was a very European point of view and concluded that we are merely spots of energy in the universe, like the stars in the mandala.   Jung surmised that hubris leads people think they are the center of the universe.

Jung produced the Red Book in what we would call today a psychotic breakdown.  Over several years in his thirties, he transcribed his visions in words and drawings.  That particular drawing provoked a heated discussion among our trio:   Is there a god or higher power and if so can it be accurately defined?  The Tao Te Ching famously notes, ‘the Tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao.’    We can talk about it, point to it, but never really describe it.  If we can’t identify god, then is there an overarching meaning of life?  I asked my 86 year old mother that question, and she said “Look around you.  What do you see?  It is nature.  It simply is what it is.”  And what is that?

One night at my weekly meditation group, the teacher drilled down to the core aspect of suffering in our lives--our attachment to a permanent self.  I paraphrase:  'Even as we go through life and the body’s inevitable aging, we cling to the notion of an unchanging self.   That idea is a fantasy.  The self we think we are today, is not the same self we were in our youth, in our jobs, in our families and so on.  Our self-concepts we are always in flux.'  Most religious traditions attempt to address the existential angst of who are we, why are we here, with  different creation myths but ultimately believe in an personal, eternal soul and god. 

What's the evidence?  I've yet to find a logical answer that doesn't depend on faith.
I have been slicing and dicing spiritual theories, laws, and dogmas, for thirty years looking for THE answer:  Look no further, here it is:  accept our meaningless selves and simply LIVE.  That goal bumps up against the 150 year old American metaphysical tradition now called New Age, which asserts that we are all the great I AM (or god).   A never changing personal self that goes through this life and then transitions to another expression.  The I Am notion ( I am god) may help manifest success in life; financial prosperity, a soul mate, parking places, or a house (We Americans are deeply enamored with personal freedom and responsibility).  But does that individualistic pursuit bring happiness or contentment?

Remember the Me Generation--also know as the Baby Boomers?   After the idealism of the 70s, we grew up and wanted it all.  Money, career, house, fame, and a  lot of toys.  We know where that all ended up:  Retirement postponed indefinitely for many of us.  

Narcissism isn't only expressed in possessions, it factored into my passion for travel.  When I was younger, I visited many exotic and strange lands, driven by the siren of the unknown but also for bragging rights.  I collected immigration stamps in my passport and then showed it off--like buying an expensive car and talking about it.  These days I still travel, but rarely talk about it unless asked.  I go for the experience--‘Bucket list’ accomplishments are for me only, not some ethereal scoreboard in the sky.

Even when you're younger winning isn't everything,  but especially so later in life.  Ever begin a new sport or art?-- It's tough. Learning generally takes longer as we age (scientists say our brain gets grooved and is not as plastic and we are more easily distracted).  By putting the big I AM (translate—I have to win or be good) on the shelf and diving into new sports or activities with humility—the pressure is off.  When I drop the success obsession and embrace patience, engagement, and discovery—I am a winner... regardless of what happens.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Meaning of Life, Take 2--Live It!

Another blast from the distant past.  Remember before the end of the Mayan calendar?   First draft:  March 22, 2012, heavily edited to bring it up to date.

“How would you feel if at the end of your life you still had questions?”   Recently, a friend posed this hypothetical to me and I shuddered.  The quest for the answer to the riddle of life has been the bane of my life--the big WHY?  For decades I have pursued an answer, as if life was a big game with a trophy at the end for whoever finds out. And like most seekers I turned to the East in my quest.

Ganeshpuri Ashram, India 1981
In July 1983 I traveled to Swami Muktananda’s ashram in India. I had met him a couple years prior at the big tent in Santa Monica.  That day I went to the platform for a personal darshan (blessing), he mumbled in Hindi then whacked me with a peacock feather--his watery eyes drowning me in bliss.  I knew I wanted whatever he had.

Traveling around India severely tested my spirit and body, until like Alex in Clockwork Orange, I stumbled into the ashram at Ganeshpuri--weakened from fighting dysentery for weeks.  The receptionist glared at me and said “Everyone does seva (service)."

Assigned to the kitchen cleaning the pots and pans, I pouted to myself--‘I have two college degrees, I make good money on my job, I’m too good for this.’  Then one of the ‘old timers’ (could have been maybe 50) said, “Pots and pans is the seva of enlightenment."  (Yeh, right.)   The next morning I faced a stainless steel sink filled with pots and pans in a dark basement with only a sliver of light from a window.  Remembering the purpose of my trip, I buckled down and grabbed the scrubber.  By the end of that shift it hit me--Everything was perfect just as it was.  

I got it-- and peace within was mine--and all I had to do was surrender my egoism and do what was in front of me.  Unfortunately, my awakening was fleeting and I soon fell into thoughts of judgment, separation, and questions.   Not present to what is, I lived as most do in the past, future, or distraction.

Recently my handyman tossed me a zinger:  In a rush to finish a remodeling project on my house, I spilled some paint.   While methodically painting the wall he said, “Your impatience comes from not liking what you’re doing and you want to get it over with and make mistakes.”  How true!  (the pots in the ashram again)  He continued, “Impatience becomes a habit, then nothing is good enough for your full attention and you’re never satisfied.”  Bulls eye!

Many years ago in Thailand I encountered the happiest people in my many years of travel.  Everyone from the taxi drivers to the shoe shine guys to the prostitutes were smiling and laughing.  Thais are 90% Buddhist.  In Buddhism the basic teaching is impermanence, the cycle of life and death, endings and beginnings, everything evolving but without a destination—infinite.  Why? Their answer?—Because!

I've finally run out of questions and believe answers are opinions anyway.  So, what is left? Focus on the here and now and act--live in the world.  Sometimes I lapse into futility, cynicism and lethargy, but then I remember it's getting late--mature age adds urgency.  At the same time, patience kicks in--take it easy.  I've got nothing to prove and hold my goals and desires lightly. Once achieved a new one always appears to distract me.

Each day I do my best to be present and give thanks for things the way they are and keep 'why' to a minimum. Tomorrow is another day with mystery, challenge, and experienceI zig and zag toward my visions and goals, but whether I get there is not important.  I put one step in front of the other and pay attention--no questions, just experience...Success!
Wisdom from Ras Marley

Friday, April 5, 2013

Progress Got in the Way of My Adventure


Pablo's Palapas, the old Sayulita
Riding a mountain bike in the hills around Sayulita offers magnificent views of the point which sets up the surf.  The guide for this trail told us told plans for the future of the surf point---Five star hotel with pier for yachts.  When that happens no more surf break.

Surfers discovered this former fishing village over 20 years ago.  In those days, the only accommodations were simple palapas on the beach.  When I first came here in 1995 we stayed in a big room on the beach swarming with mosquitoes cooled only by the ocean breeze.   

It is an often repeated tale:  Surfers or artists ‘discover’ a very cool spot--Isolated, native culture, great scenery, and cheap.   Eventually the word gets out and reports of a secret getaway appear in a surf magazine or the travel section of the Sunday paper, and then a trickle of first adopters check it out.  Soon, enterprising foreigners who want to indulge their surf or art habit set up a small business; a cafĂ© or a small guesthouse.  Pretty soon it gets known as a ‘cool’ authentic spot for package vacationers in the nearby tourist mecca, in Sayulita’s case Puerto Vallarta.  After a few years luxury villas are built and provide all the amenities of home. 
Redevelopment, 2012

During this trip (March, 2012) to Sayulita, the town center was undergoing a major gentrification; new sidewalks, utility lines underground, and new cobblestone roads.  This ‘upgrade’ was a rush order for an upcoming show and tell junket for North American travel agents.  New branding was announced on auto license plates for the state—Riviera Nayarit.  The tsunami is coming and the surf is going.  Not only will most surfers be unable to afford to stay here but the surf will be gone due to a proposed development on the point.

Sayulita, the Nayarit Riviera
That is not the only potential damage to the natural environment.  As I was riding on this back road outside of town, a major stench arose.  Checking the stream bed below, it was obvious what caused it.  Gray water sewage poured out from an eco-resort which shall be unnamed.  I was angered and saddened by this ‘progress.’  Then, it hit me that adventure can't be had in retracing one’s old haunts.  The old saying that you can’t go home again applies places were adventures in our youth.  Some remnants may be there, but the character has probably changed.  

In Sayulita, Pablo’s Palapas is currently undergoing a makeover with scaffolding and boarded windows.  The old beach campground is shut down pending approval of a new luxury hotel.  The town is gearing up to offer the tourist culture of Waikiki beach with a Mexican flavor.  Doesn't sound like adventure to me.

Pajaro de Fuego, the new Sayulita
Sayulita is now a comfortable destination.  I sit there and quaff my latte with a gourmet dinner, after working out in the air conditioned gym. Local culture and novelty?--are down the roadSomewhere over the rainbow. One of the mountain bike riders in the group, intently queried the guide about new, relatively unknown towns along the coast--Places where few gringo explorers have set up homes or little rancheros.  He rode his motorcycle all the way from Canada, so clearly he is not a comfort seeker.

Rhino seeks new horizons in San Pancho
Adventurers like the motorcyclist often share tips of places which haven’t been totally consumed by the flood of globalization and have maintained their character and unique culture.  

Not so in Sayulita, where most Mexicans speak English and are not likely to be patient with stumbling attempts at Spanish.  It is easy. But like surfing, the thrill is in riding the wave and in order to ride it you must be a little bit in front of the break.  It is a challenge and is not easy.  But it is fun.

Catching the waves of the world is an optional mission.  The unknown promises novelty, complete with its doubled sided coin of fun and hassles.  As  Bob Dylan once wrote:  'There is no success without failure.'  The adventure trip may not succeed, but in the long run, boils down to an experience.  And that is more long lasting than that ice cold latte.