Updated at least twice a week! (best catchphrase EVER)


Letter to yourself

More stalling in putting out the big post.  Random thought for today.

There is a website I found out today that lets you send an email to yourself days into the future.  I was  inadvertently shown this because a friend had sent herself a mail last year and proceeded to write one to herself for the following year and I took note.  

My first thought, my absolute first thought was this: god, I can't wait to tell my students about this-- maybe I could somehow ring it into a lesson.  But then I remembered reality.  Of course not, these lessons have little place in my specialization, math.  Because obviously teaching is about subjects and knowledge we have decided important, not the enrichment of the young which respects the evolution of the world as well as the evolution of the teacher in that world.  Furthermore excuses for no, I am not even a teacher at the moment.  My students still wait for me to share with them through a variety of means as a mentor and a friend, but it is no longer my place.  As if that weren't enough of a reason to give up, I feel that forcing this task upon someone who does not want to do it (as we do in our education system) is possibly more detrimental than it simply going unseen.  This thought, continually pushing me further away from the idea.  

Nevertheless, in the great electronic map of lightning bolts flashing in my brain that I call "thought," all forks lead back to that which gives me hope in this most desolate present: my children.  This is what I mean when I say I am a teacher.  It is hard wired into my brain.  It is my primary instinct and it is the thrill that makes the lion in my heart shatter reality with a bellowing roar.

With that, I say We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.  I may not be hopeful that I will ever have the future I wish for, but I will die making sure that my children will.  So here I say, "no."  I reject this silly reality and substitute my own.  I reject the world where I cannot help.  I reject the world without fundamental human rights.  Not in the imaginary world of my head, but with the power that these two hands hold, I reject this reality and build my own.  See you next post.



Sorry to be out of writing for so long.  I am working on something BIG.  It's gonna be multiple posts linking to themselves and outward and on a scale of thought and creation far greater than most of my musings thus far.

For today, I bring you a rant.  I am annoyed.

Grades just recently came out in colleges and there have been a myriad of posts on social media where people are like, "omg omg omg grades are coming out, I can't stand the anticipation."  

It makes me sick!  Eduction should not be about taking pride or shame in the mark achieved.  Every day should be an adventure of learning; the purpose not abstracted to a number at the end, but instead whispered in every dream and sung to the heavens as the great growth of minds occurs ad infinitum as the sun sets.  

If I could have one wish for education, it would be this: no more grades, no more mandatory attendance-- just teachers who love what they do, offering their knowledge freely and working to give agency and power to those young souls whose hope is the only true shining gold worth investing a single worthless penny in.

I am out of words on this topic.  Prepare yourselves... Big post is incoming soonish.


A belief

I have lived my life with many beliefs.  It has recently become clear to me that one of my beliefs is in contrary to another.  At this point in my life, I am finding much solace in the idea that everything happens for a reason.  As I look back on my life, I see so many things that have not gone as planned, yet if these things were changed, I would not be the person today that I can say I am proud to be.  Whether or not the idea of things being preordained or not aside, I would not change what has put me where I am.  

When I was younger, I gave up hope on a lot of things.  I gave up hope even that I could find meaning in my life as an individual.  I believed this so surely that I chose to live a life as much for others as I could.  Teaching, giving, my aloof and let-it-be qualities are all a consequence of that most self-deprecating belief.  I decided that I was a being without purpose-- that since I could never have a life of my own, my actions were simply positive and negative on a cosmic balance sheet of zero, completely outside the bounds of fate.  I dedicated my life for good.

And now that I am growing older, I have come to realize that even these things that caused me to think that way all happened to make me into the person I am proud to say that I am.  I would not be the person I am today had they not been the way they were.  My life is a culmination of events and circumstances that make me the person that I am today.  I am not a fateless soul who can help others without consequence as I once believed.  I am a person at last in my own eyes.  That changes everything.  

As I move forward in my life, I seek now to give back so much more.  Not for others, but for me.  I seek to give now not because I feel that I don't deserve anything for myself, but because my life has forged me into a person who gains when they give.  This would not necessarily be without my life exactly as it has been.  

To wrap up this quick post, I was wrong.  I am a person.  I am here for a reason and I want to discover and deliver on that purpose as much as anyone else out there.  And life?  And life!  It has never felt so good to be alive.

Math insults

In case you ever find yourself desiring to insult a mathematician subtly yet awesomely, try this one:

[his/her] mastery of calculus is limited to straight lines.

Seriously, it is not the best insult in the world, but it is certainly not used often and that definitely counts for something.  What the insult implies is that the person in question is not very good at math so much so that basic calculus is beyond them.  I know most people probably think calculus is hard, but I assure you, those same people use it without realizing it.  To say that someone claiming to be a mathematician cannot grasp it is like saying a basket ball player does not know how to dribble (god I hope that is spelled right) across the court.  



In a math class once, I learned about what is called the contrapositive of a conditional statement.  Fancy words aside, it is pretty simple.  First, this is a conditional statement: I am strong because I know my weaknesses.  Conditionals involve and if/then or similar logical statement.  The contrapositive flips around the if and the then and makes everything negative.  Mathematically making things negative is easy, in English it isn't hard, but let me show you.  First, flip the statement: I know my weaknesses because I am strong.  Second, make everything the opposite: I don't know my weaknesses because I am not strong enough to accept them.  If you accept the truth of the original conditional statement, the contrapositive must also be true.  It is inevitable.  The first step, known as the inverse, is not always true.

Lets try some more examples.  

I am beautiful because I am aware of my flaws.  If you believe this statement is true, the contrapositive better be true too.  If you believe it to be false, likewise the contrapositive ought to sound false as well or you might want to rethink your logic of claiming it is false.  The contrapositive is this: I am not aware that I have any flaws, so I don't find myself meeting the expectations of beauty.  This statement, while fundamentally the same as the original, says something interesting that may go unheard with the original statement.  This is a hidden truth we often miss.  

I am wise because I have made and learned from my mistakes.  One contrapositive is this: ZOOP May here. ZOOPZOOP That is all. May out. My favorite contrapositive to this statement is this: if I have not made any mistakes, I cannot be wise.  Interesting.  I love that thought.  It seems crazy, but if we accept the truth of the first statement, we have to accept the truth of the contrapositive.  I love this one because it throws our school system under the bus.  Our school system demonizes mistakes, yet we must make them to become wise.  

People often say to me, "[they] are just a wise soul" as if some people are just inherently wiser than others.  I believe wisdom is a grown thing and we all can grow it.  I also believe that this growing can occur without direct experience though.  I can say that I know what it feels like to face my own death, but that is because I have empathized with Samus Aran in the depths of planet Zebes.  I can say I have lived the life of a prideful youth who grows to accept their mistakes and take their deserved place on the throne of all Persia.  I have traveled to the ends of every universe and endured enough time living to wither even the longest of civilizations to dust, yet the reaches of my life are but a small seed in that endless orchard of existence.  This is where wisdom comes from.  Experience.  Those with more are older or have vast imaginations or capacities to empathize.  Mistakes breed wisdom.  Without, we are naught the wiser than a stone; never acting, yet never growing.

One last one, I am human because I must die.  And now the contrapositive: If I cannot die, then I am no longer human.  This quest for immortality so many seek is ironically a quest for death.  For once we attain that most insane notion, we are forever disconnected from our brothers and sisters.  Black or white, Muslim or Buddhist, artist or soldier, male or female, rich or poor, we all share this one truth in common.  We are destined to return to the source.  What do we become if we are no longer human?  Angel?  Demon?  Enlightened?  I have no idea.  All I know is that being human is a hell of an adventure.  Is it all I will ever know?  I doubt it.  Is it where I am?  Yes.  And I am happy being right here.


Winning the Lottery

When I was younger, the question was posed to me, "what would you do if you won the lottery?"  Being an individual who had learned a thing or two from math class as opposed to actually doing well in them, I thought about investing it.  The lottery at the time was 2.5 million dollars that is really not a lot.  I looked up the interest rate on an average CD was something like 4%.  So little me was like, WOW.  I could just drop it into a CD and every year the bank would give me 100,000 dollars a year.  That is almost 2000 dollars a week.  For a kid my age, that was unfathomable to earn for the rest of my life so long as a bank was around to give me the interest.  I geeked out on it and started thinking about it some more.  ...WHERE does this money come from?  In 18 years, my money will double!  Is that money just coming out of the Aether?  I looked deeper.  

My findings disturbed me.  This money had to come from somewhere.  Where do banks get their money?  Little me thought, people lend it to them.  But they can't spend what they are lent, how do they afford the fancy safe and happy employees and stuff?  Well they lend it out at interest.  My young heart began to drop into an abyss, but my mind had not caught up to it.  I am lending to the bank at interest... They are lending everything they have (ten times what they have, as I found out) at interest and taking some of that interest to give to me.  ... I am aiding in banks stealing interest from those poor enough to need a loan.  THAT is what is making me richer.  Young, paragon me was not thrilled at this discovery. 

Our politics around money are sickening.  Words like 'smart' and 'successful' are used to describe the actions of pirates in their most ruthless renditions.  All business seems to reek with the idea that selling at the most unfair price possible is the best.  But I am sure I don't need to tell you this.  I will spare you the rant.  

Something needs to change.  Something has to give.  

One thing that needs to change is the idea of growth and gain.  Growth is an essential part of our business world.  If a business, and even colleges are under this descriptor, is not growing, it is not successful.  But ask yourself how growth occurs, it happens when the owner is making significantly more money than she is taking in.  So she expands so she can take in more.  This concept of exponential growth taken to its logical conclusion will yield exactly one future-- one where the master thief will own the entire world through a few megabusinesses and those he makes his success off of will make money only enough to meet the the thief's demands for continual growth until there is nothing left with which to grow.  (Curious, that is the very definition of a cancerous growth)  Work as a tool for survival and not for personal gain is the very definition of slavery.  Ask yourself now: is this the world that we find ourselves in?  If not, how close are we to it?  

Yet there is always hope.  People do not know their true power.  Pablo Picasso said, "the goal of life is to find one's purpose.  The meaning of life is to give it away."  A world with this mentality at its center is always but a mere step away.  Whatever beautiful world you wish to see, dear readers, enact it.  Use your imagination and let that world envelop you and bring forth your actions.  You may be one drop in a limitless ocean, but what is an ocean if not a multitude of drops?  


Math question for everyone to try:  What is 365.25 divided by 7?  Did you know the answer immediately?  I did.  It is 52 and 1.25/7ths (also known as 5/28ths).  Before you say that it is because I am a math teacher, I want to remind you that 365.25 is the number of days in a year and 7 is the number of days in a week.  Looking at this scenario, I am actually asking how many weeks are there in a year.  Oh, there are 52 weeks and 1.25 days in every year.  I already knew that, but it didn't have anything to do with math.  

I am writing here to speak on the topic of intellect, why I think the word is incorrectly used today, and how I think it ought to be.  Ok, topic sentence out of the way, now to write a body paragraph on each thing I listed and then copy pasta my topic sentence into a conclusion paragraph with a fancy quote and I will get an A.  

Intellect is not the accumulation of facts, I am pretty sure most people would agree with that.  Ironically though, that is how our society treats it in the most literal of senses.  We compare students by asking them to read a book and tell you what was in it, learn skill and repeat it when asked, and prepare themselves with a few skills we decided they ought to know.  The ones who remember the details and use the algebraic skills are the ones we rank highest.  Since this is not a hard task, we push them to do it faster or take more on while memorizing their rotes and mastering their forms.  

To return to the example at hand, I asked a math question, 365.25/7.  Our academic community cuts the connection between subjects, but real intellect does not.  This question ought to be seen by an English lover as "how can we break 365 and a quarter days into 7 equal groups?"  One way to answer is that you can't do it evenly.  You can break 364 into 52 even sets of 7.  This leaves the extra 1.25 days leftover to split evenly between the 7 groups, thus the fraction 1.25/7 since that is literally what I just said in English.  This mathematical and English literary solution is just one way to find the answer.  Relating the numbers to days and years is yet another!  Are there more?  Without any doubt in my mind, there are infinitely many ways.

We praise thinking outside the box, yet the boxes are only there because we put them there.  Music class and Math class are separated by soul-chilling bells and taught as two different universes.  It takes over 12 years of being told to sit down and do as you are told to forget the world without boxes.  Why do we do this?  We should instead be encouraging questions: why are there 365.25 days in a year?  What is a quarter of a day?  Why do we even have 7 days in a week?  What could or might be better and why?  How has this historically or literarily affected us?  These are the questions that breed intellect; curiousity and interconnectedness, without exactitude and unable to be labeled, these questions are for you and that is what makes them important.  

In conclusion, tl;dr, however you want to say it, schools are not here to teach.  They are here to subvert.  The hidden curriculum of learning to do in order to please those above you permeates the system.  The extension of school beyond high school to create boxes within boxes and ensnare bright minds into perpetual debt.  This is why my soul screams for me to speak.  Are there great things about school?  Absolutely yes.  Can it still be a great experience?  Everything can be.  The human spirit is infallible in that respect.  Read A Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Ko-somethingorother and remember that his words and psychology would not exist without his experience in a concentration camp through WW2.  Hell, I am even using the 5 paragraph paper structure drilled into students as an acceptable essay.  Is it useful?  Yeah.  Is it the only way to write?  ...  ...  Good question.  Let's find out together.  Not because anyone is telling us to, but because I am curious.



Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop roleplaying games continue to blow me away at the sheer amazingness that can happen.  Honestly, I can't MAKE UP the kind of garbage that happens in these worlds.  For instance:

Last night, we were in a Tomb of Horrors-esque dungeon designed by an awesome roommate.  There were 3 of us and it was taking our ALL just to survive-- and not even that.  She had created a cheap way for us to revive ourselves within the dungeon because she WANTS us to die horrible deaths over and over again.  The effect worked wonders on our character's psyches.  Our paladin after dying twice basically thought that her god betrayed her and through her actions lost her paladin powers, our rogue stopped giving half a shit about traps and just kind of ran in hoping the best as he couldn't detect half the traps anyway, and I ... well I'm pretty freaking neutral good, so I hung out with my pet squirrel and hoped for the best knowing that helping was all I can do.

As it was D&D, the normal derptasticness began happening quickly.  At one point in a fight with a Gibbering Mouther, our elf was confused and was sheathing/unsheathing his weapon over and over sensually, our paladin was blind and swinging wildly at a bedpost she thought was the enemy, and the two fearless halflings were throwing rocks (and rolling criticals) from afar at the foe who for no apparent reason was on top of a bunk bed.

The uniqueness began to happen when we found a magical deck of tarot cards.  At this point, we were at rock bottom.  We had been traveling nowhere but downward for over 4 days.  Each of us had either died or been at the brink of death multiple times and suffered random personality changes (our Paladin had to wear a tutu and bells by this point but was insulted if you mentioned them) and VAST material loss because of it.

This sense of hopelessness we lived in was just enough for 2 of our 3 members to draw cards from the deck their once alloted time.  Nick drew 4.  The first gave him a whopping ten THOUSAND experience, putting him a good 2 levels above me and Ashley.  The second summoned Death himself to have a duel with him.  If he lost, he was gone forever-- no resurrection spell of ANY power or even a greater wish could bring him back.  He carefully leveled himself, but he died within moments.  The third and fourth sprang forth magically from the deck.  The third summoned a lvl 4 fighter in the service of the drawer.  The fourth randomly shifting the alignment of the drawer.  Against all probability, this deck that took Nick's life instantly gave it back.  A Lawful Good Fighter of the 4th level suddenly appears, confused yet exceedingly willing to help and constantly searching the Earth for one whose soul is banished forever in the hands of death himself.

Our paladin, having lost hope in her god in favor of the foul magics of this place draws next.  She drew 3.  She drew 50,000 experience right off the bat and was high as a kite.  This would put her at the legendary status of lvl 11.  Her second card imprisoned her body hundreds of miles below the surface of the Earth in suspended animation.  And even after the most ridiculous shuffling I have ever seen, Death shows up again to coup de gras her.  ... I didn't fucking touch the deck after that, but I had an idea.  I tried to play a game with the dragon of the dungeon.  He was the only thing standing in my way as I could turn into a bird and fly out of here easily if he wasn't a faster flyer than me.  If there was one thing my character was good at, it was diplomacy and I managed to talk my way into a bargain with a dragon.  Our fighter would have a draw-off with the dragon.  If our fighter drew through SEVEN cards without dying, the dragon would have to do the same.  Seven cards later, we have a legendary fighter who is considered a king on the surface, with a magical weapon that we rolled so high on I don't think entire sovereign nations could afford to buy, with the supernatural ability to know exactly what to do in the next-and-only-the-next dire situation, another lvl 4 fighter squire (this time played by Ashley as she was now perma-dead), and the only bad thing that happened was a permanent unlucky -1 to all saving throws.

No one could believe this shit.  The dragon opened its mouth to incinerate us on the spot.  Nick asks, "does this count as a dire situation?  Ok then, I'm going to use my supernatural ability to run down these stairs before my body can react to what is going on."  I reflexed my way down the stairs barely.

So here we are in a lvl 8 dungeon with a lvl 8, a lvl 11, and a lvl 4-- a strangely balanced group of exactly the size we had before hopelessness drove us to make a pact with fate.  What took life, invariably gave it back.  What was lost was replaced.  In all the possible ways this could have unveiled, it worked out.  This is the magic of tabletop gaming.  There are no rules-- only guidelines.  There are no plots-- only dungeons, crafted with care and yet limited only by the imagination of the DM and the machinations of fate.  One can do anything and travel to the ends of every imaginable world.  The strangest part is that I am not creative enough to write a story where these things happen, yet it doesn't matter because they HAPPEN regardless of what the DM plans.  A supernatural life and a spirit beyond all of us weaves tales into these worlds we create and our imagination summons them into reality.  I continue to play because I continue to desire to see what will happen next.

...  Much is the same with life.  I feel that I have every reason to stop listening to these stories, yet there are things that keep me listening.  Stories that swell my heart, experiences that weigh on my soul, moments where I feel necessary, and laughter that paralyzes all else.  These things cause me to continue to play this game.  This life has emptied me out and that emptiness seems so unbearable at times.  Yet what is empty can be filled.  God.  If you are inside my heart, hear my prayer.  Grant me the serenity to see just one more adventure.  Always-- just one more.


One heart, one million voices

In my meditation, I met with a man who was fascinated with me.  His studies of the spirit had brought him to this playground beyond space where I had the pleasure to meet him.  His spiritual path started with the sacrum and worked upwards.  Steady and happy with who he was, he awoke and opened his heart and his throat to speak, and in communication, finally became able to see and let the world flow through him.  My path has been most the opposite.  Like most enlightened I have met, he poked and prodded, questioned and empathized.  But he did so not to question why, for at such a state, why is irrelevant-- in a way, irreverent.  He sought to become one with my pain to experience it, in a way to escape the confines of his own pain, but in truth to stay reverent to the truth that all experience and all pain is his.  He sought for his own wisdom, tucked away in the furthest corners of the universe, in the hearts and minds of others.  In the moment in which our paths crossed, he asked me, "how do you do that?" (Maybe one day I will tell you what he was talking about)  I told him:  "there are a million voices speaking in this world, but only one heart.  I do what I do by asking myself to listen to that one heart tells me to do first, and hear the rest only after."

My response was completely opposite of his path to here, so he entreated a response, "but there is infinite wisdom hidden in those million voices if you listen."

"Yes, but the infinite wisdom of the universe is carried in those finite million singular hearts just as impossibly as your own one heart can, nevertheless it can be found in a single grain of sand as well.  Our paths differ, but they cross and our goal is the same.  Your torus flows outward, mine inward.  Yet you know this sacred geometry better that I, we follow the same direction."

He completed my statement, our words penetrating the abyss together.  Two opposite voices as one: "In time we will hear all voices as one.  One heart.  Annihilating the boundaries of you and me."  He smiled and reality returned to me.  

We all start this road in different spots.  We all have different pains, different joys.  Together, we are the whole universe having experiences.  That reality may be impossibly beyond my ability to grasp, but the concept of that truth is enough for me to listen; to prod and to poke, to question and to empathize, to escape the confines of my own pain in order to realize that I am a part of something so much bigger than myself... And it is all contained in here.  


Age and Wisdom

So I am 25 now.  A quarter of a century.  The silver anniversary of being in a loving relationship with life.  Me and that asshole have our ups and downs, but I like him enough to stay with him I guess.  So I stick with my vows.  Til death do us part and all that shit, right?  

I like helping people.  As I get older, I find it easier and easier.  For the more experience I have to draw from, the easier it is to empathize and summon just the right quote or helpful bit of insight needed to make someone's day.  For this reason, I idolize age.  It yields experience, wisdom, and the ability to help more.  In a way, I idolize pain for this same reason, but that is not my purpose in speaking today.  

I am speaking today to talk about how our society does the opposite or revering age.  We dye our hair and use creams to make ourselves appear younger.  We speak of accomplishments and comment on how amazing it is when they are done at a younger age.  We taboo relationships with those older than us, instead seeking sanctuary in a homogenized peer group that all have the same problems and lack of experience to know how to solve them.  

I wish to see a world where my stylist will help give me a touch of grey so that I look like I am in my 40s  instead of approaching my 30s.  For age, to me, is a marker of wisdom.  We do not become useless when we are old as our society shoves down our throats.  We may lose the physical prowess of our youth, but we gain something so much more powerful, the ability to light the way for the lost and the confused.  

To all those older and wiser than me who have helped light my path to age and to wisdom, thank you.  I needed you more than I can say.  As I grow older, I only wish that I will be able to do for others what you have done for me.  The great cycle continues-- thanks to you.

Omens and the Alchemist

It has been said that every bird, rock, plant, and even person speaks the language of the universe and each sign can be interpreted to tell a listener what they need to know to do what they can't not do.  Many spiritual individuals try to seek the meanings hidden away in the metaphors beneath the physical form of reality.  However, this always seemed false to me.  I have started to listen and what I have found is that there is no manual or encyclopedia of omen, there is no primer or Rosetta Stone for the language of the universe.  All you can do is listen and feel.  

When I see two owls perched like sentinels exactly at the two corners if a building they have no reason to chill at, I do not seek to understand why this happened or what it means I am to do.  Instead, I simply listen.  These two birds instill in me an urge to write and an itch that must be scratched-- an itch that is unique to me at this exact moment, different in any other shell or at any other time.  Right or wrong, true or false, do or die, this urge to speak comes not from the omens themselves and more from what I feel when experiencing the world around me.

I have been feeling for the past few months that I wanted to start my yearly fast.  As the day of my birth approached, I began to feel signs.  Reading Rumi and just coincidentally hearing him speak of fasting filled my heart with joy on the subject, having a day of D&D with roommates involving copious amounts of sugar and the following day's energy level filled me with reminders of the heightened energy levels of my past cleanses, constant reminders of my own weight as well charge me to take sword in hand, the day of my birth begins feeling more poetic than ever as a day to start--  all of these signs lining up just could not be ignored any longer.  Today I begin day 1 as day 0 and -1 have come and passed with relative success.  

This is what I am talking about when I say signs, omens, and feelings.  It is not ravens and moons meaning auspicious foretellings, it is the universe pouring into me purpose-- leading me towards the path I know I must walk.  As Paulo Coelho said in The Alchemist, if you stop listening, the language of the world may also stop speaking through you.  Listen, and you may know love for all of your life.  And here is what Rumi told me this morning on the train to work:

"One kind of food gives you flatulence and diarrhea, a heaviness in the stomach.  The other keeps you light as you ride on the ocean.  Fast and see what arrives.  A materially full person is not alert for dishes that descend.  Don't always eat what's offered.  Be Lordy!  Refuse the first plate.  Wait and the host will send out better.  Lift your head like the tallest mountain that the dawn turns red, then gold."

Quoting myself for once

"I know all the homeless people in this part of the city.  They are the only ones who say 'hi' back."

My roommate and I were heading to Radio Shack when I said this.  She met me after work so we could go spoil ourselves.  We walked the streets and she noted how many people I was having conversations with.  And thus, today's quote.  

But again, I said this and I stopped.  I was stopped with wonder and paused to ask myself why.  Why is it that it is so much easier to talk to these homeless people I feed than it is to talk to half of the rich people I feed?  A simple answer screamed out to me.  They talk to you because they want something.  Bullshit.  So do the snooty shoppers in my store whose body language and demeanor deny all friendly interaction when they approach my register.  They also talk to me simply because they want something.  Yet there are plenty of customers who engage with my soul at the register as many of these homeless people do.  It has little to do with what they want, for we are all rich and poor with social interaction as we are with money and wealth.  Physical wealth is just easier to measure than social wealth.  

I couldn't shake this question all night.  So I took a page from Rumi's book and drank myself into oblivion.  


Winning, Losing, and being Lost in the game

Children go out to play.  They think up elaborate rules and use rocks as currency, sticks as elaborate holy blades.  They travel to the ends of every universe and back to slay foul demons or rescue fair maidens, have wondrous families and petty squabbles.  At the end of their adventures, they are rich with joy and the spoils of imaginary wars.  Yet when the dinner bell rings, they drop their vast wealth and return home, dirty and with only the clothes on their back (or sometimes not).  

Life is much like this.  At the end of the day, we are called home.  All we have gathered is forfeit, yet our hearts are overflowing with experience and growth.  Those are our only true possessions.  

One thing that bothers me is that this is being forgotten.  Nowadays when children play, the stakes have changed.  Sports must be won, yet there is always a loser.  Every experience has a cost, yet there are not enough imaginary stones to buy to buy a full bucket list.  The result is children and adults alike who are losing the ability to get lost in the moment.  I know I did.  When playing sports, I would constantly say I was sorry when I made a mistake, knowing that I was imparting a tax on others and taking away their purpose in playing, victory.  Even when we won, I felt bad that another underdog team was defeated by the mighty and overpowered Fireballs.  What I needed to do was simply enjoy myself and realize that mistakes are only there to teach us.  In order to do so, I needed to unlearn that if I messed up, it was bad.  

Yet that is the inane truth we are all taught.  This world seems so set on that value-- on value itself.  When we err, whether it be in communication or in work or on the field or in our judgements, we must remember that we are all learners and mistakes are part of life.  Otherwise, we begin seeing the emergence of people who lock themselves up in impenetrable towers-- not acting at all out of fear of making mistakes.  I saw this all too much as a teacher: "I'm no good at math, I don't even want to try."  I see this daily: "I am no good with words, that's why I remain quiet."  I cry when I hear this one: "I am just going to get hurt, I don't want to fall in love."  Falling in love is the greatest joy of this world!  Be it with what we do or who we are with, love is the great dinner bell that calls us all home.  Surrender to that love!  Start your own practice!  Travel!  Create your big project!  It doesn't matter how optimally we live and gain or lose and suffer, it is how much we love that matters most as we return home, covered in dirt and laughing as we recount our adventures.


Fall, the season of giving

Last night, I had a dream of another culture, another world maybe.  

In this world, it was autumn.  A celebration unfolded.  On the first day of fall, we all chose a tree to idolize and embody.  We didn't need to have separate trees, but we all chose a tree that we felt a particular connection with.  As the tree gave its leaves and its flowers and its seeds to the Earth, so did we.  Everything excess that we had created in our bountiful spring and fiery summer we shed in time with the leaves on our tree.  We gave to or volunteered out time to charities, we helped finance new Earthen hobbit-like homes or schools, we had bountiful feasts with friends, and we simply recycled our possessions to others.  

Many of the wealthiest individuals chose the great oak in the valley near the graveyard.  Such a choice was an honor and held in great esteem due to the vast gifts it gave to the ground to compost.  A grand giving mimicked by those with the capacity to choose this tree to mimic.  I chose a tree in a neighbor's yard.  It was not big, yet its leaves turned the most miraculous reds and yellows as it shed to reveal its curvy, elegant form that looked like a dancer with arms outstretched.  To honor it, I started a school in a warehouse gifted to me by a wealthy woman.  This school was designed to teach "the old ways."  I can't remember the specifics of this culture, but I recall teaching things like sun meditation and herbalism and yoga.  By the time fall had ended, I had a successor worthy enough and I gave the school to her as my "last leaf."  

At the start of winter, she began charging for lessons and I began working and creating again, already planning-- full of wonder at what I would do next year.  


What would our world look like if we did that today?  I'll tell you, there ain't a tree large enough on the planet to embody the belongings of our wealthiest.  Even the fabled tree of mana might not even be comparable.  That aside, if we all adopted this mindset, I guarantee we would see a new world in less than a decade.  I am reminded of the words of my favorite telepathic gorilla again, "Take what you need.  Leave the rest."  If you have no idea who this gorilla is, pick up the book Ishmael immediately.  


Moar Rumi

"Drunkenly asleep, tenderly awake, clouded with grief, laughing like lightning, angry at war, quiet with gratitude, we are nothing; a single brush stroke down.  Why does spirit come into these muddy bodies?  The answer is contained inside.

The breathing of your speech is like the soul entering the body.  You feel the value of making meaningful sounds.  But poetry holds meaning lightly, like a rock in a sling.  We let it fly.  The rest is out of anyone's control.  A buried seed grain secretly becomes an ear of corn.  Bread dissolves in the stomach.  Candlewax turns to light.  A great joy breaks free of the self and joins the moving river of presence.  Read about prophetic states and let your soul grow restless in confinement."

Zeus, this is for you.  Not the Greek god, but a friend.  You know who you are.  I love you, dude.

Words are always a rock in a sling.  How I wish we could instead deliver our communication to each other directly from soul to soul.  Not thrown a vast distance unsure if it is to be caught or if it will inadvertently kill.  Rumi knew this.  His calling as a writer was always shadowed by the knowledge that words are imperfect.  Instead of trying to make perfection out of the imperfect, he named this shadow Shams and let her speak to fill the moment with the void where true communication lives.  

He knew we are but a single brush stroke down in a vast painting laid upon a canvas with the great beyond everywhere outside of our canvas.  "The great reed flute player," as he calls the creator, is just a starving artist in love with his craft as Rumi himself is.  Yet here he is with great music pouring from his heart-- a single brush stroke down in an impossibly complex piece of work hanging on the wall of an impossibly complex universe.  

Seeds turn to corn as miraculously as candle wax turns not light.  Rumi also believed that once we become free of this mortal coil, we will join the world beyond the painting.  We will no longer be a single stroke on a canvas or a single pot carrying water, we will see the painting as a whole or find our pot carrying water has spilled to become one with the whole ocean.

"We sit in this world with our money bags of energy wondering what will give the most return.  We get engrossed with knowledge, accomplishments, business ventures, purposes, and then we move on.  Where we are is melting snow.  You have bits of bird-doubt that will not let you roam free on the sky, but this is how sweet and free of fear I find myself now.  You need not look anymore now.  You have laid down inside me.  You are already helplessly mine.  I could lift you out of time, but not yet.  Stay in exile a little while longer.  Let the eventual joy of coming home increase."


An echo

"I don't know what you did to me, but you changed me."  

Her words stopped me.  In that moment, I felt echoes of memories of my whole life repeating as clearly as if her words had struck a giant bell to bring them back to life.  The echoes of these moments flowed over me like a stormy sea and in their mix, I felt overtones leading back to infinite.  I opened my eyes.

I wanted to say something important to her.  I wanted to say, ...  ...  Bah.  It doesn't matter now.  Be it about pins and needles or eyes being opened or doubts calming.  It doesn't matter now.  The moment is gone.

I was at work and I missed it.  The moment is gone and all I can do is write it here.  I don't know if she will ever find this or even know it is about her, but in writing it I will always know that I did what the lion in my heart commanded.  

While we are on the topic though, as I have grown older this phenomenon has begun happening to me with increasing frequency.  This phenomenon is where words, actions, or moments literally phonate and echo and resonate.  I can feel my whole life and beyond rippling like a giant pool of water-- every new experience, a droplet of water mixing with my own.  If I listen closely enough, I can sense the whole body of water I call my experience and see that everything is connected and simultaneous and real as the single drop touching me in this singular moment.  If I close my eyes, that echolocation of memory can teach me of the earth and air that envelop me on all sides, the water up from where experience comes from, and beyond to the great fire that warms us all.  

To give this sensation a concrete example, I shall use the experience that caused me to write here.  When she said I had changed her and she didn't know how, her words hit me like a gong and I began to see my entire life as a whole.  The frequency of the resonance of her words highlighted single memories at each peak of vibratory pressure.  Memories extending back further than knew I could remember.  Overtones of this frequency highlighted memories I knew were not mine.  Yet all of them were related.  One was a single line from Lady in the Water.  Another a discussion with a lover about The Matrix.  Another from a babysitter I had.  Then came my friend's memories.  Then more of my own I could not recognize.  A frequency of 440 hz.  A tone that takes me from Spain to Hawaii, from California to a colony of settlers on the moon, from memories of rape to floods of emotion that bring strangers to their knees and drive robots to commit suicide.  

All of those moments happened in an instant as another droplet of experience percussed against what I believe is my own body of experience and I returned to reality to realize that no time had passed at all.  This monumentous echo that extended my life far beyond the limitations of "me" was just that-- an echo.  An echo that reminds me that the true nature of time is as finite and simultaneous as the world we place our feet down upon.  

To compare this simultaneity to something physical, I choose a song by Norwegian Recycling called Miracles.  There are no original sounds in the whole song.  It is all mash-ups of old songs.  Jackson, Spears, Savage Garden, Bruno Mars, R&B, Hip Hop, Country, the list goes on, all blending together to reveal a message and a unique song greater than the sum of its parts.  This is what I mean by echoing and creating overtones.  Each moment highlighted by this droplet of experience connects to tell me something far greater than simply what is and what was.  This bell rang to say to me, "all this has happened before and all of this will happen again."

Namaste, my dear readers.  I will see you on the other side.


Special timing

Last night, I was chilling with my preggers sister.  As we drifted off to sleep, she said, "it is SO weird that there is a little life in my belly right now."

I replied with banter, "it would be weird to be in your belly.  You didn't eat it or anything, did you?" I stopped the banter and continued: "No.  In all seriousness, I think the word you are looking for is 'special.'  It is special that you have a little life inside your belly."

Later, we had migrated to talking about her seeing one of her old friends all grown up and not a fuckup like he was in his youth.  Again, she used the word "weird" to describe it and I corrected her, "I think the word you are looking for is 'special.'  It is special when all those boys grow up into men and the cycle continues."

She caught my return to the word and my reiteration of the theme.  "What is with you and that word right now?"

That is my way of appreciating things.  Instead of simply noting these phenomenons of growth and rebirth cycling into history, I want to hold onto them-- to love them.  

A few minutes passed quietly and mom came out of the shower and hopped into bed.  She curled up near her babies, content as only a mother can be and she said, "thanks, you two.  Tonight has been a really special night."

"Yeah," I replied.  "Special is exactly the word I would use to describe it."

And then my sister punched me.

I don't know what drew me to the word "special" initially.  Why did I say that?  In retrospect I can only say that it was for that moment when my mom said it.  Was I planning it?  No.  Was it perfect for her to say?  Yes.  The thoughts I was trying to communicate to my sister were that much more effective thanks to my mother accidentally backing them up.  I guess what I want to say is that this is another "special" mystery of life.  It is magic.  It is coincidence.  It is providence.  It is living in the moment and letting that moment guide your actions-- and in turn being justified by that moment.  Knowing that once and for all, no matter what else, you have a purpose.


For just a moment

I drink a drink as my train accelerates.  A lifetime of training has taught me how to hold the drink so it pours slowly into my mouth, yet it is not pouring.  The train is applying a force to the liquid via acceleration.  We reach a cruising speed and the beverage begins to behave.  

Suddenly I am the entire Earth.  Moving constantly around the sun.  The weight of my soul pulling everything towards me.  Every person.  Every plant.  Every one of my beautiful curves and crevices.  Every ocean.  Every teardrop.  I hold them all as I spin and I run with such grace they feel only my strong and powerful arms.  I am the Earth, mother of awe.

Suddenly I am the wind.  My reach is all pervasive.  My delicate hands touch everywhere, everything that I am not expelled out of.  While I have the whole planet to explore, I am not allowed to leave.  One of my hands circles the globe, skimming the surface of the great, starry beyond.  Out here, I am so thin.  I try to reach out, yet I am pulled back from the edge of oblivion by a force I can only explain as beautiful.  The form whose changing figure I cannot stop caressing draws me back.  I am the wind and I am in love with the Earth.  

Suddenly I am again one small human on a packed train.  My physical reach is small and my power is minuscule, but my heart is so very big.  Yet unlike the Earth and the Wind, my reach and my power do not end at the tips of my fingers.  My mind extends the reach of my eyes through time and space to the ends of the universe.  My heart extends the reach of my hands-- to touch, to feel, to empathize, the whole universe is one and this one heart contains in it the whole universe.

But what now?  For suddenly I am one universe.  I am alone in lord knows what sense.  Maybe there are others.  I think I can see them but I am disconnected.  I feel something larger than myself, but I cannot put my finger on it.  Perhaps I am one cell in millions that make up a body of consciousness far greater than my own.

I forget about all these things and remember.  My life is simple.  All I need to do is remember that I can't not feel what I feel.  I can't not do what my spirit draws me to do.  So long as I do that... I think I will be ok.  No.  I know I will be.


Mistakes and life

This morning, I was speaking to a young girl about a supposed mistake she made.  I still don't know whether or not what she did was a mistake, but in the end, it does not matter.  I absentmindedly responded by saying, "good or bad, did you learn anything?  What we take away from what happens in life is all that matters."

I paused after pressing send.

My whole morning, the many interactions I had, the many people I spoke to, all of them were connected for a brief moment and in that instant I knew I had said something important.  So I set aside a note in my phone to write about it.  

Our mistakes, our failures, our pains-- all of them are like the fires of a blacksmith's forge.  The more real the mistake, the more powerful the fire that is put to us.  Some events are like an open candle flame, others a burning forge, and few as hot as the inner belly of a star.  It is a combination of how hot the flames our life puts us in and our skill as blacksmiths and artists of the self that determines whether this heat forges a katana, turns us into a diamond, immolates and illuminates our body and spirit, or simply destroys us.  

So next time you have a bad day or make a bad call, ask yourself: what did I learn?  How will this shape me?  Will it slump me over like a melting statue?  Will it fold my blade into a sharper form?  Will it give me a great story that will spur a laugh with a friend?  Will it light a candle so that I can find my way in the darkness? 

Remember the words of Rumi: 
Fear and hurt are lassoes pulling you through a door.  Lord, lord, you say, weeping.  And green herbs sprout from where those tears fall.


Dream moods

When I dream, my perspectives on the world change.  The same is true with experiences in my waking life, but in dreams, everything is so condensed.  I live whole worlds at a time at night.  Relative to the time we perceive as wakeful humans, I am changed very drastically over the course of a single night.  This same phenomenon happened to me last night.  The strange thing about this one was that I can hardly remember what caused these changes.  I only hold fragments of the portrait, yet the effect of the whole canvas weighs on me like a mountain.  

I remember 3 things from last night.  I remember being at a pool party with my family and taking off my clothes as an act of defiance.  I remember being on a castle cliff side with Sean Bean and him showing me the most beautiful and transforming sunrise I have ever seen.  And lastly I remember becoming lucid and flying out towards the sunset only to notice the tether leading back to my body-- only my body was not back on the cliff with Sean Bean, it was somewhere else.

After the dream, I suddenly feel compelled to take milk and egg out of my diet while eating more fish.  I am compelled to quit smoking.  I am also compelled to watch the sunrise every morning.  I have taken my sunset watching out of my daily routine and my body is missing it.  That is the thing with these changes.  They aren't things I want to change about myself, they are things that want to happen all on their own.  I will be the first to say that I am terrible at forcing changes in my habits but this-- this simply wants to be.  So I think it will if I put my energy in that direction.  

I can't really describe it.  I feel as if something important has happened to me.  Yet it has come in one of the silliest forms imaginable.  I can understand being transformed by one of my more in-depth, complete-world dreams, but this...  I ain't complainin'.  I feel the light of that sunrise bursting forth from my chest and that kind of joy is just too awesome to question.  

Playing by the rules

Most people know me as a good person.  I border neutral to some eyes, but for the most part, seeing and attempting to embody all that is good in the world is one thing that makes me me.  That being said, I have no respect for the rules.  Rules are guidelines, yes, but few laws are absolute in my eye and some even beg to be broken.  In D&D terms, I am Neutral Good bordering Chaotic Good.  I personally think I am more NG since I don't just believe all law is bad.  I am simply neutral about law and thus NG.  

This does get me in a lot of trouble though.  If a law doesn't work, I break it cleanly with an open posture and an honest disposition.  I could spout out examples from my teaching, but today I will share a recent event that bordered the inane.  

I broke into the DeYoung museum.  

I just didn't even realize it was a bad thing to do!  I was going into the Museum cafe for a job interview at the cafe.  It was closed, but employees were skittering about getting coffee in the cafe so I figured I would try to find a way in.  The Japanese garden was closed, but a gate was unlocked, so I snuck in.  There was a little gate leading into the courtyard from the garden, so I snuck in.  There was a door leading into the museum, so I walked in.  About when I was in the cafe, a security guard stopped me and was like, "who the fuck are you?"

I spoke honestly and openly, "I am here for a job interview and was trying to find the person to talk to."

"Yeah, I don't know how the hell you got in here, but the security office is out front and you should go out whatever way you came in and get a badge like everyone else."

The museum is filled to the brim with gossipy ladies.  By the time the place opened and I gained legal entrance, the whole museum was piping about some mysterious kid breaking into the museum and my contact in the cafe knew it was me.  She was PISSED!  

Needless to say, I didn't get the job interview.  

I don't follow unjust rules.  This was not an unjust rule, but it was a rule to keep thiefs away-- I am no thief, so it should be fine.  I will follow chain of command, I will work for the greater good, I will follow rules that work, but if something is broken, I will try to fix it.  I know the rules still apply to me, I am not immune to consequences, but I feel that when someone sees my results and looks back to my actions to find them slightly unlawful in a non-threatening way, I feel that instead of being concerned, they will say instead, "huh..." and think about why they had not thought to do it that way instead.  I feel that the good shines through my unlawful actions and will at least appear harmless, if not actually helpful.

Of course, today was "harmless" as opposed to "helpful."  Helpful might be when I show that writing on desks has practical as well as socioemotional applications so long as you remain considerate to the owners if the desks.  That is a story for another day though.  As is the story of whether or not God will forgive me since I sinned today by breaking and entering.

But of course, maybe I am simply lost: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=g-like&v=5y_KJAg8bHI

"No other thing to be"

I read the most sickening article the other day.  The article's premise was basically "men have to act like heroes because there is no other option."

He went on to say that men have to find their role in something like "handyman" or "father" or "provider" or find something to do to make themselves feel worthwhile because otherwise they are not.  He claims that men cannot imagine simply being loved otherwise.  The worst part was that I was pretty much the only person up in arms about it.  All these people were like, "oh yeah, I totally can see that," or even, "I feel this every day, thank you for putting words to it."

Worth is something that comes from within.  It explodes out of your chest as spirits and rays of sunshine and other people think, "wow, that person is special and I cannot explain why."  No matter your race, gender, genus, or species, animate or inanimate, worth comes from within and needs not external justification.  

I won't say that gender roles and societal influences don't make us want to pull our hair out sometimes.  Eff, I am the last person who would ever say that.  Yet despite all that garbage, our worth and our love come from the self first.  Once we love ourselves and have worth in ourselves, the outside world follows in suit.  We will have mentors along the way to help us find that internal source, but one day we will have to shine forth on our own and be mentors to others as it was when we were first learning.

If we want to see a world without sexism, it starts from a place on the inside-- where we are all equal.  Namaste, my sisters and brothers.


Mother Teresa

She was a smart woman.  One of my favorite quotes from her is this one: "Do not worry about the numbers, help who you can.  Start with those closest to you."

I like this quote because of how it starts.  She, at one point, has struggled with wanting to help everyone and knew she couldn't.  Otherwise, she would not have said it!  So she reminds us, don't worry about the number of people you help or how big you can save the world-- just help people.  Anyone.  Everyone.  Help the person closest to you.  That's right, the one right next to you on the train as you write this.  Everyone.  Just make sure you don't worry.  You have but one life and a finite number of heartbeats-- you don't need to help everyone.  So don't.  Just help those you can.  And it is easiest to start close to your heart.

Tarot cards

Not to toot my own horn, but I am not awful at reading tarot.  In fact, I am a pretty darn good bruja.  However, I get asked by 90% of people, "do you believe in the cards?"

My answer is basically this: human experience is insanely vast.  The amount of information in our lives is so tremendous, that on a completely statistical level any spread of cards will very likely be applicable to your life somehow.  That being said, the terms "freaky" and "spot on" don't really do justice to just how heavy and personal tarot readings can be.  In the face of the unknown without science to explain, people turn to higher powers to explain these connections.  My real answer is that it doesn't matter whether the cards are telling the future, creating the future, randomly lining up with your life, or are simply broad enough to be applicable to any life.  What matters is that you are sitting down and thinking about the forces in your life.  You are thinking about where you are and where you may go-- who you are and who you might yet be.  That is where the power of the cards resides, regardless of how they connect to your life.  You are the powerful one.  Always you.



Was texting with a friend of mine and she (name changed for her safety) asked me out of the blue:
(Adara) do you believe in Karma?

I replied quickly as I was in the job at the time:
(Me) Sort of.  I believe that everything is connected.  I believe this to the point that the idea of karma is almost moot because when everything is connected, something strange happens.  There is no longer a 'me' and a 'you,' there is only 'us.'  If I hurt you, I am hurting us.  If I do good to you, I feel like I am doing good to myself.


This may not seem related, but bear with me.  There was a longitudinal study on monkeys in Japan where they gave them peeled mangos (which they loved) but gave them the mangos covered in sand (which they hated).  In secret, they taught one child monkey how to wash the mango in the stream of their community pen.  This monkey showed the others, but the older monkeys did not listen to her.  They continued to pick the grains out with their fingers and shunned this new way of doing.  The other child monkeys listened though.  Along with our young heroine, they began to slowly understand her and wash their mangos in the stream.  The fad slowly, slowly caught on until about 50-60% of the population knew the technique and almost overnight all but the angriest of monkeys were in line washing their mangos peacefully in the stream.

Now the strange part.  They went to another pen on another island to duplicate their results.  They performed their control experiment where they gave them all the sandy mangos.  All the monkeys went down to the stream together, formed a little line, and washed their mangos as our heroine monkey was shown months earlier.  "Well fuck."

They went to yet another island separated by time and space where they were certain no monkeys may have been transferred or communicated with the other monkeys.  They performed their control.  Same result.  Monkeys at peace in single file washing mangos.

tl;dr, we are all connected.  Consciousness grids, spirits, god, whatever your explanation, it matters not.  What matters is that we are all in this together and we all share the same beating heart.  I love you, my dear readers.  And in doing so, I am loved.

Disturbing way the wind is blowing

The wind is blowing in a very disturbing way, my friends.  I read a series of articles yesterday whose combination sent my stomach through the floor in fear.  The first was about sightings and reports of military equipment being prepared across United States soil.  The second was regarding the possibility of the Boston Marathon Bombings as a false flag operation.  The third spoke of a similar string of connections and how they ended in another country.  

So the sightings and reports.  Trains carrying tanks all over the country, the military making a purchase of 3 times the number of bullets used in our wars overseas, policemen coming out and saying they are taking part in federal exercises learning how to lock down and perform operations on American soil, and leaked psyops reports relaying who to target and how... I can't remember all of them now, but the implications were scary.

From what I saw on the television at work, during the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombing, the police shut down the city.  There were armored personnel carriers and enough riot gear to make the end of V for Vendetta look like a peaceful protest.  Where did it all come from?  Did the city of Boston really just have all that shit lying around?  Did they really have all those man hours available to deploy on the spot?  The connections line up.  They say that this was a live test of how a single city lockdown would look.  

I now have lost the country who this happened to, maybe Libya, but it went like this: the banks all got attacked by a computer virus.  The government response was to shut down the banks for a weekend to get the system back online with their best operatives on the case.  72 hours later, the country was under martial law.  It wasn't a computer virus, it was a ploy on both sides to contain and disable the people.

These articles in order are terrifying.

Yet there is still hope.  Today I was delivering supplies to the other store and ran into two men speaking.  They both looked poorer than dirt but one was giving wise council to the other.  As I approached, the counseled started to leave and I could not unlock my eyes from the counselor.  His eyes as well were locked on mine.  I was suddenly back on the streets of Santa Cruz on a cold, starry night.  There was electricity in the air as an elderly man spoke to the hearts of many.  Under the isolated stars we all felt connected.  In the frigid air, we banded together as souls and were warm.  And here I found myself staring at this destitute man in the summertime of San Francisco, unable to break this connection.  

"Hey, I know you... From somewhere."  Those were his words.  Both of us knew he was not talking about us.  

My suspicions confirmed, I was no longer shackled to his eyes.  I took a deep breath and smiled as I passed, "Yes.  Yes we do."

If we just remember where we all come from, there is hope for us even under the heel of such a force that would seek to oppress us so.  I have faith that connections like that will save us all and further bring us illuminated and enlightened into a new era.  Perhaps we needed this enemy to grow.  And if that is indeed so, this enemy may have my eternal thanks.


Nerdy rant

Hokay, prepare yourself.  Nerdy rant incoming.

One of the most amazing things about video games as an art medium is the ability to really put you inside a character.  While this is literally true, I am actually speaking to just how incredible that is.  I am implying that instead of simply watching and empathizing, you are actually thinking and deciding what to do as that character.  You are entirely in their shoes and living their emotions.  Their choices are yours to make, as are the responsibilities.  This is the ultimate power that video games possess and it could be used to an even higher extent than it is today. 

I recently had a heated discussion with a very, very dear friend of mine regarding the mechanical workings of a class in a game called Final Fantasy XIV.  The discussion was about the black mage class.  To give some background, these individuals pull their power from the source of chaos and destruction in the form of overpowering magical spells.  The lore of the game regards these individuals as constantly walking the knife's edge of destroying their foe and destroying themselves or those around them if they lack that acute presence of mind needed to control this force.  "All those who walk this path are destined for ruin.  It is just a matter of time."

To me, I want to see this imbedded in the very workings of the class.  The players should struggle with this so that they feel what it would truly be like to be a black mage in this world, not just hear it in the lore.  ... I am getting ahead of myself.  First let me speak to you of the cause for my rant.

Games are made with deep psychology in mind.  The developers not only need to balance the game so that one class is not insanely more powerful than another in an equal party role, but deeper than that, they want to release a game that is tailored to be liked by their gamers.  The average gamer hates waiting, they hate holding themselves back, they desire to unleash their potential.  Therefore, when the developers created this class, they designed it to give this class periods of heavily destructive burst damage followed by periods of lower damage while they recharge their stores to do it again.  Played perfectly (which involves a constant stream of both reactionary and optimized commands), overall damage is equal to a class with constant damage output, yet they are allowed to feel burstier.  This burstiness is risky as the enemies could determine they ought to be the target of their malice if they unload at the wrong time, yet they are still incredibly safe from such a fate.  

Even with this watered down safety, many players still see this class as having a "wet noodle" phase and don't like it.  Personally, I think that a higher risk, patience gameplay is exactly what those on this path ought to be fighting against to really understand the path that they tread according to the lore.  It should be incredibly easy to overdo it.  It should require patience and willpower to control the vast forces at their disposal so they truly respect the unstoppable chaos from which they draw their abilities as well as their inevitable fate as they walk this path.  

In the case of the monk class that has consistent damage, their play ought to reflect the dance and rhythm of their martial arts, gaining bonuses from the constant string of combos.  I could speak on every class here, but I will save you the headache.  The struggle here is creating a job that lets the player feel like the class that they play while still maintaining balance.  I won't sell them short, they give you a taste of each class through play alone and the game on a mathematical level has one of the simplest, yet most elegant damage balancing mechanics I have ever seen, but the core of gameplay creation is centered around the idea that every player should be constantly doing something because otherwise they will be bored.  ... This is a judgement of criminal incorrectness that is frankly insulting.  

To give you a live example of the kind of choice I wish to see, I will bring up the game Deus Ex: Human Revolution.  The game follows Jensen, a cop who gets severely crippled in service and rebuilt as an augmented super soldier against his will.  His conundrum is trying to single handedly get to the bottom of the great conspiracy surrounding his accident while not letting these new powers take away what is left of his humanity.  Tremendous developer effort went towards letting the player complete the story without a single person being killed or even alerted to your presence (outside of the cutscenes).  Many gamers despise this manner of play because, and I quote, "I feel like I am just walking-- I AM just walking through the game.  No combat, no encounters, just waiting for an opening to making my move."  I personally found this very rewarding.  At one point, a group of soldiers were sent to intercept me in a stair well.  I waited til they were at the right spot, made some noise so they would investigate, turned on a cloaking field, used my implants to make my landing perfectly silent, and used a third skill letting me fall from any height, and jumped silently and invisibly down the center to the bottom and walked out of what is supposed to be a five story, slow and steady descent through armed forces.  I got to use my head instead of my hand.  I love that in games.  

The one thing that game was lacking was any punishment for upgrading your implants.  I found it almost comical when Jensen would talk about how he never asked for any of this and would brood on his implants when I, as a player, was a kid in a candy store waiting for the cash to buy the next one, relishing in no longer worrying about silly human constraints like breathing or being seen anymore.  If I were to design the game, the more upgrades you purchase, the more constraints would be put on your dialogue options.  Jensen would not even have access to the empathetic, human responses as he would be losing touch with humanity!  From a developer's stance this is silly-- why create all these powers if you deem it an appropriate path to avoid getting them-- why give the players a world of opportunities and superhuman abilities and then tell them not to use it?  Because that is what the character struggles with!  The idea behind Jensen is his struggle to retain his humanity while being thrust into this situation where he is more than tempted to embrace them.  Most gamers will dive into and embrace these powers and experience an epic yarn of a man who discovers a truth that can change the world but has lost everything in achieving it.  Those willing will attempt to really experience Jensen's plight.  They will struggle with temptation, knowing their augs can be unlocked at any point.  They will spend their hard earned cash on preparing for missions with equipment instead of hardware.  They will cry when their only-human abilities lead to the death of Malik.  For doing so, they will not only watch and participate in, but truly live the story of a man whose burning soul compromises nothing, even in the face of incredible sacrifice-- a man whose search for the truth creates a revolution and transforms the entire world.  

Take a risk and see where gaming can take storytelling.  


Going to work stoned

Today I had the most unusual knowledge of exactly where my boss was going to be.  He had to take care of his son, so he was out.  In celebration and as it is something I've never experienced before, I ate some weed butter before work just to test out how this whole thing goes.  Not a lot, but enough to ease my muscles and put me in a philosophical pot stupor.  It was a very interesting experience.  All of my friends at work and at school in my hometown finally made sense.  Half of the city suddenly made sense.  When working on weed, there is this ease of working coupled with this block to working super hard.  So while working was super easy and enjoyable, I could not work at the speed I normally do.  I found myself believing that one person ought not do more than one man's work.

...  Doing more than one man's work...  Reminds me of a story I was told not long ago.  It goes like this: a businessman was visiting a Caribbean Island during his retirement.  Being old and wise, he sat people watching and talked easily with strangers.  He spoke with a fisherman coming back from a day of fishing.  "Whatcha got there?"
"Two tuna and a whitefish," the fisherman freely replies.
"For sport?"
"For my family for tonight and tomorrow.  My wife is a cook and my boy eats a lot," he admits with a jolly laugh.
"Wow, and how long did that take you?"
"Maybe two hours."
The businessman guffaws, "What do you do for the rest of the day?"
"I play with my boy, help my wife cook, take care of my home and garden, siesta with my wife, and watch the sunset with my dog."
"That sounds wonderful, but why don't you fish for longer?  You could work just 6 hours and start saving for a second boat.  Once you got that, you could exponentiate your profits and create an army to control the price of fish!"
The fisherman scratches his head to recall his elementary grasp of mathematics and asks, "What would I do with all those profits?" 
"Why, you could retire at 50 at the rate I see business here!  Then you could relax and play with your boy and siesta with your wife and watch the sunset with--" the businessman's voice trails off and he pauses in deep contemplation.  He returns to reality and looks up at the young fisherman, who now appears a wise scholar in the midday sun of the Caribbean.
The fisherman smiles and shoulders his net, "I hope you enjoy your time here on this island.  If you will excuse me, I have some very important business to attend to with my wife."  
His eyebrows double up and down and he leaves the businessman to his thoughts.  

Doing more than one man's work is like this.  The old man seeks to do more.  The young fisherman seeks only to do what is his to do.  There are benefits to both mentalities, but we live in a world dominated by one mindset and not the other.  Working as I had today taught me this.

Kirk/Spock fanfic dream

I don't know if I was horny or what, but I had a fanfic dream about Kirk and Spock.  

It started off like most of the Star Trek episodes where our favorite interracial gay couple is exploring a planet's anomaly.  The anomaly was a wave of mass unexplained deforestations followed by intense vegetative growth.  The boys hoped to find the mechanism for the growth to replicate on dying ecosystems.  After plotting regions of the anomaly, they predict where it will happen next.  

Kirk talks to some ambassadors coincidentally in the area while Spock does some reconnaissance.  Kirk's talk becomes heavily philosophical and the forest around this beach begins to die.  Spock notes this on radio, but all contact with Kirk has been lost.  Kirk starts becoming a light entity through this talk.  His life signs don't really fail, but his body becomes catatonic while his spirit moves on.  He can't shake the sensation of being a cat, yet he holds onto his physical projection.  

The mechanism for this miraculous growth is these elders feed off the energy of a hijacked spirit and channeling it into an area.  Nothing malicious, these ambassadors dive deep and truly convince those spirits to give themselves to the land.  Kirk is NOT convinced, but his spirit is so strong that the ambassadors get greedy and try to force it.  The forest begins to grow.  Kirk's life signs fall in parallel to the growth and the Enterprise agrees the connection cannot be coincidence.  Spock gets captured trying to recover Kirk's body.  

Kirk watches Spock as a dog get taken away-- his ridiculous hair and eyebrows on a small brown dog fighting to thwart his captors.  It is at this point that Kirk's ridiculous intellect figures out the ploy.  He knows he will build a whole world with his spirit, but his heart tells him his purpose is so much greater.  He talks them into a knot in an attempt to dissuade their greed and have them let go.  Meanwhile, Spock escapes his captors and informs the crew of the dire news.  The captain is dead.  Scotty says, "you know it has to be done."  I am not sure the specific nature of these words, but they shook me deeply and I know Spock could not accept them.  Logic and emotion demand Kirk's release.  Why would Kirk agree to this?

No later, Kirk walks in with a smug fucking grin on his face.  "I saw you," he starts, somehow with more smirk than before: "you were a dog-- you ARE a dog."

Spock makes an incoherent noise somewhere between a logical rebuttal and an explosion of emotion.  

"You see, I am a cat.  Everyone fucking loves me.  You are a dog-- fierce and loyal, emotional to a fault, and forever attached to me like heads and tails on a coin."

The banter begins after a moment for Spock to recall ancient alien history: "20th century currency.  No longer applicable, but I see the connection.  Perhaps a simple simile regarding friends would be more appropriate."

Kirk's eye twinkles as he drops a smile that could melt even the remotest moons...  Aaaaand I think the public narration of this dream should end here.


Dancing and sexual energy

The other weekend, one of my roommates received a surprise dance lesson.  Full of good food and enjoying the evening in our dimly lit living room under the fog and stars.  I watched along, giggling through my wine haze.  She struggled to figure out how to move her body in the ways needed to emulate dancing.  The irony, more than anything, made the night so very enjoyable for me.  You see, my roommate is a very sexual person.  She can ramble for ages on the virtues of simply giving yourself to the moment and surrendering to the joy of sex.  I can never understand.  She sighs and tries to tell me again and again.  And now here we were in the reverse.  She cannot grasp what I so simply do.  Dance is less about learning how to move your body, it is about surrendering to the music and letting your body channel those emotions.  As with sex, a bag of tricks never hurts to have, but the key isn't in formula, it is in the cornucopia of the soul's surrender.

I still don't understand how sexual energy works-- to give to feel to channel to ankh to surrender to embrace... They are all simply movements to me that I try to wrap my conscious around doing.  Yet dancing I understand-- not movements, surrenders.

Through my wine haze, I could not help but laugh.  Not at her, she is a student as are we all and she shall learn as will we all.  I could not help but laugh at another one of life's little ironies, showing up in my living room with a few good friends, a pile of good food, and a little bit of wine; dimly lit by a vase full of Christmas lights, yet on fire with the ever present love of the universe.

Gandhi quote

"First they ignore you, then they fight you, then you win."

This quote is about fighting unjust laws through group non-compliance.  Here is how it works:  let's say someone (who shall go unnamed) has made it illegal or otherwise unfeasible for farmers to save their seeds.  According to the law or insane circumstance, they must now buy another batch of seeds in order to plant another harvest instead of being able to use seeds to spread crop.  To fight this law, a few individuals stand up and practice non-compliance. What Gandhi says in this quote is that the moment they stop ignoring you and meet this non-compliance with violence or oppression, you will win.  

It may not happen right away.  The very first person to stand up to this most unnatural law might be silently shut down or otherwise legally bullied into submission.  However, she may also have caused one more person to question whether or not this law was just.  The cycle continues.  More people start thinking and find the law unjust.  Soon all the farmers of a town rally together and all save their seed.  How do the local enforcers respond?  Do they arrest all of them and instantly take away a town's food production?  They know it will cause a stir and they know it will affect them as well, yet the order comes from on high-- they cannot let this show of defiance go unchecked.  The lawmakers stand up and show their true colors.  And now everyone can see it.  The law becomes seen as unjust because the true reason for the law has come to light.  It is now known that the law has a greater import than the protection of the people.  Change soon follows as it has throughout all our histories.

This is what Gandhi was talking about.  First they ignore you [or silence you so others remain ignorant], then they fight you, and then you win.  It is not about overcoming their laws.  It is about lifting the veil pulled over the people's eyes, shedding light on the truth hidden therein, and enlightening the world.  Never once is a single punch thrown, yet the oppressor is vanquished.  Never once is retaliation used, yet justice is met.  This is the kind of justice I want my children to know, this is the kind of conflict resolution I want the future to believe in.  Children watch, follow in suit, and then understand.  Always in that order.  If we want them to have peace, we must practice it so they watch it.  Watch it so they become it.  Become it so they understand it.  The future begins and ends with you, my dear readers and friends.  Choose your actions wisely, for they shape the future more than we give them credit for.



As usual, I was lamenting on the Internet and was given what I needed.  I was given a pretty awful picture of a scene of Jesus being beaten by some soldiers while carrying a cross.  The caption was, "the problem with many Christians is they believe they are this guy *pointing to Jesus* while acting like that guy *pointing to a particularly violent oppressor*."  I found the image slanderous, sometimes true, yet all in all simply missing one of the great points of life.

This great point is that in order for Jesus to have the impact he did, that oppression was kind of necessary.  It paved the way for him to transform from just some awesome hippy into a figure and an idea that changed history.  In the same way, no matter why or who, the various forms of oppression in our time are giving birth to a whole generation of heroes.  Jesuses and Jesusettes who, in standing up, have and will become ideas that change the lives of millions.  In our time, we live in yet another conflict that cultivates the human spirit in the same way a fresh coat of rain and death cultivates the forest.

We all have our parts to play in this great space opera aboard our giant organic spaceship orbiting a low-class star in the unimportant suburbs of our plain yet beautiful galaxy.  So don't shun the tiger for being the tiger any more than you would shun the flower for blooming or a star for exploding, instead focus on the voice of your heart.  It will tell you how to play your part-- for that part is the movement of one drop in a limitless ocean; one drop that is a part of the whole ocean creating waves that lap against the rocks of history.



Especially after a few of my recent posts, I have been thinking of the problems that ail us and come back and come back to the same poisonous root again and again.  This root is the idea of ownership.  The CEO of Nestle corporation has recently made the statement that water should become privatized.  He says that water, like other foodstuffs, has a price to purify and distribute and the people should be aware of that price by paying for it at all times.

My mind wandered and explored as I listened to the responders.  The opposers of this thought-- what do they say?  They said that the right to water is the right to survive and it is inalienable.  My thoughts swirled like a great vortex.  Why was that statement so interesting?  Why did I keep asking myself about this simple rebuttal?

"To survive is a human right."  I knew something about it felt wrong.  Not that I disagree in the slightest.  I know it was intended with the right heart, but was nonetheless wrong.  I explored my thoughts.  The fundamental quality if life is not to survive, it is to thrive-- it is to grow and to create and experience beauty.  

Furthermore, if survival was a human right, then would not access to food be included in this assumption as well?  The whole idea of this statement was self-contradictory.  That is why my mind kept racing back to this thought!

The fact that one person can lay claim to the world is absurd.  This absurdity is one of the primary culprits that lays seed to many of the ills of humanity.  What is the solution?  I have no idea.  Yet I believe this thought is at least a start.

Empathy and dreams

Last night, I had a dream that I was playing a really old game with my stepbrother again.  Secret of Mana.  It was really difficult this time, the rules were different, and we played as different characters.  Yet it was more beautiful and awesome than I could have imagined on my own.

The weird part was waking up to him sending me a Facebook message (a mere 3 hours before) about us actually playing the same game and not even knowing it.  In my dream, when you died, you got vastly separated and the game is infinitely harder alone.  You pretty much hold a position and defend as the other person dodges arrows and bubble beams sprinting the whole way there.  Once back as a team, things were better, but still challenging enough to put fire in his eyes-- a sight I love to see in him.  Especially as the healer I am.  

I showed him my guild and he wants to join up with me.  I cannot express my gratitude.  I cannot express my joy.  I cannot express the glorious strangeness of connecting to another person through a dream.  As Zelda said, "Back when I was in Ganon's clutches, the psychic link between us was so strong.  You seem so distant now, guarding the triforce-- and me, the princess of all Hyrule.  But I will never forget the time we shared together in our dreams."  Spoilers, that is the last line of the book~



I had an interesting moment with a friend recently.  He thanked me for wishing him luck and I was taken aback, "why would you thank me, silly?  That is just what I do!  Thanking me is like thanking the air for giving you breath."

We both stopped and I thought about what I had just said.  Why not thank the air for its bounty as we would the Earth for its, a man for their sacrifices, or <insert any deity or belief or the universe> for our life?  These simple things we can so easily be thankful for are often left out.  Why?

Is not thankfulness its own reward?  Is not the emotion of thankfulness one that permeates the fabric of reality thanks to the power of our hearts?  I believe that being constantly aligned with this emotion is a great key to happiness and contentment in life.  So why the heck not?  

Thank you, air.  I enjoy breathing you.  I appreciate the trees from which you come from as they appreciate it and the animals that their air comes from.

I also enjoy my shower.  Thank you, shower.  You are a beautiful thing.  *goes to take a shower*