The following happened last night while playing Dungeons & Dragons with my peoples. Enjoy!
This summer while working at a summer camp in Germany, I was having a conversation with my fellow counselors. I don’t remember what the exact conversational jump-off point was, but at some point while talking about sex, one counselor named Raph started off about how he didn’t like condoms. He explained that he had tried them once and never used them again (Raph is married in his late 30s with two kids). It wasn’t just because they killed the feeling either; he seemed to be
philosophically against them as well, and while he couldn’t or didn’t articulate exactly and precisely his issue with them, something beneath his words struck a chord with me. And of course, seeing as the ladies in the group were a bit in shock from his unconventional views, I joined in the condemnation of prophylactics for the lulz, claiming with as much seriousness as I could muster that condoms were feminist tools of male subjugation and emasculation -(“All the tonic effects of getting a nice stiff one in you without having to sink to the level of intimate physical contact with a man”, etc.).
Me and Raph had a laugh and someone eventually changed the subject but an idea had been planted which I thought about subsequently. Trying to piece together the hidden wisdom in Raph’s words, the best I have been able to come up with thus far is that sex with condoms, if it is indeed objectionable, is so because it is frivolous.
Is frivolous sex a bad thing? Well, it’s certainly not the worst thing. Lord knows it’s fun…
But when it comes down to it, I’m tryng to do something.
My thoughts can be summed up in the film Rounders: Matt Damon’s ,Mike McDermott quotes poker great, Doyle Brunson: “Put a man to a decision for all his chips.”
At face value this may not seem particularly relevant but I like the idea of not playing unless you’re playing all-in so to speak. I think when you apply that all-in mentality to sex it has the potential to make people take their couplings a little more seriously -or at least it fits well into an overall sex education which emphasizes something beyond the physical act and going through the motions.
Of course this isn’t to say that sex with a condom is simply going through the motions, but the stakes are definitely lower, and that can lead to all kinds of frivolity. Conversely, just because the stakes are raised doesn’t mean people will play more responsibly; our human history has been characterized by a lack of reliable contraception/general protection and that has been no guarantee of people taking it seriously. Countless bastard children and the spread of venereal disease are a testament to that.
Bearing in mind this human tendency to take stupid risks no matter how high the stakes, I am certainly not advocating for any kind of condom or birth control ban.
Instead I would like to see a consciousness take root in men; one in which they are a little more intentional in their approach to women. An approach where they don’t think about getting laid, but rather one where their mentality when approaching women is: “I want to do something with her that has consequences.”
They should think it, but to ensure they mean it they should say it out loud, because it’s a lot harder to lie to yourself out loud. If they can’t say it truthfully for whatever reason (in love with someone else, don’t really wanna risk being a father, the chick in question is a toad-faced skank, etc…) then they probably got no business making romantical (sic.) overtures.
To bring this all to a neat dovetail, a wise man once said, “If you’re only doing it for the money, it’s probably not worth doing in the first place.”
I think its equally true to say, “If you’re only talking to her to fuck, she’s probably not worth talking to in the first place.”
Somehow, I think the ladies might approve of this message as well.
I enjoy me some mushrooms. Psilocybin mushrooms and Amanita Muscarias have been responsible for some of my most powerful moments of self discovery.
Allow me if you please to tell you about the most transcendent experiences I have had, how they are all connected and what exciting new possibilities I am exploring as a result.
MY FIRST MUSHROOM TRIP by FISHER-PRICE (AGES 5+)
Having done low-doses of Psilocybin mushrooms a smattering of times throughout my tenure as a young adult, I did my first proper trip (5 grams on an empty stomach) one morning in September 2016, a few scant weeks before embarking on my #worldwasonfire tour of the Southern U.S. and Latin America. The trip was wild and rivaled my most powerful experiences with ayahuasca which I had done a couple of times a few months earlier in February 2016 while in Ecuador. I saw trails and ‘breathing’ solids. I saw the green cogs and gears which made up the nature I could see from my balcony. And I saw something else: The absolute necessity, if not inevitability of complete surrender, which I understood incompletely at the time (More on that in a sec…).
I also laughed. Oh how I laughed.
I laughed at the absurdity of it all, at how tired I was, and at my hopes of salvation through a return to nature.
What was it like? Imagine a musky, brown organic/fungal horn or trumpet growing out of the ground in the forest emitting a constant, out of tune, spore-filled drone from the lungs of the forest itself -that was the character of my trip.
I walked away from that experience with a sense that I had undergone something powerful, and only a marginal understanding of this idea of surrender; an understanding which reductively centered around anal penetration.
That was an uncomfortable one for me to wrap my brain around. As a guy, that was my conception of what ultimate surrender meant; allowing yourself to be penetrated. Incidentally, this interpretation may also have been informed by some cult research I had conducted that summer.
Thelema in particular, whose higher degrees mandate sexual surrender for followers seemed worth researching at that time. In any event, though I never said it in so many words, I walked away thinking “The path to enlightenment is somehow up my ass.”
A connection had been made somewhere in my brain.
2017: ODYSSEY TWO
Fast forward a few months and I was well into my adventures in the south-western U.S., specifically Arizona. From late December 2016 to early January 2017 I was living on the rim (lol) of the Tohono O’odham reserve west of Tucson with a shaman named Tim. Me and Tim spent many days on the reserve meditating, reading from The Kybalion and smoking terrific cannabis. Our diet too, was healthy as (sic.) with no alcohol consumption and reverent, healthful ingestion of fish, simple grains and vegetables. For talk, TIm would talk mostly -he had a powerful connection to eh universe and he could constantly make wild connections bewtween the most disparate things and offer new perspective (he couldn’t turn it off though). As for physical activity, I maintained a rudimentary fitness regimen which included running and calisthenics,
and we often climbed the nearby mountains in the remote stretch of desert that was primarily grazing land for ranchers.
After about a week of this regimen, Tim took me through my first and thus far only Amanita Muscaria trip (Video HERE). For anyone who hasn’t done A. Muscaria, it was (at the time and possibly even now) the most powerful trip I have ever done. For those who have tried it but haven’t felt anything (like me in my subsequent attempts), I truly believe that Amanitas require preparation (the aforementioned diet/meditation/fitness regimen) of a kind that Psilocybin mushrooms do not. The secrets of the Amanitas are just not given up so easily it would seem.
I won’t labor you with too many details of the trip -you can watch the video for those- but essentially I moved to a higher dimension. Better yet, I took control of my higher dimensional body and was able to travel anywhere in the universe, real or fictional, and in so doing I managed to completely release, at least temporarily, painful and limiting impingement in the neck and shoulders of my lower dimensional body.
I felt completely free and loose in a way that I hadn’t in years. It was amazing.
But it wasn’t a hallucination; something real happened there and when I saw I was traveling throughout the universe, I don’t mean that I was pretending to go through space. Understand: My lower dimensional body never left the chair in Tim’s kitchen but consciousness did. Instead, my lower-dimensional body, stuck in that precise time and place, received the condensed-to-the-level-of matter counterpart experience to what was going on in the higher dimension -kind of like in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, when you do things in Hyrule and they have effects in the Dark World and vice versa.
In this case the effect I felt was tiny cables stretching from my right shoulder to my upper neck snapping one by one as I came to closer and closer approximations of what I was there to learn. When I finally came to the realization the last string SNAPPED! and I screamed out what I realized twice in ecstasy.
All in all, unique and very different from the character/conceptual mechanism of later healing as you will see…
Speaking of Tim, I noticed at intervals when I came back to the kitchen, that he had two demons hovering about him. They had the superficial appearance of ferrets or weasels made of shadow and they were whipping furiously around his torso as if chasing each other’s tails. I mentioned this to him and, non-plussed, he told me he was aware of them.
After a few more days in Arizona I left for Nicaragua in the second week of January. The rest of 2017 passed mostly without another such divine psychadelic experience. One exception would be a party I attended in San Juan del Sur…
Another exception would be in Utila, Honduras sometime around July or August when, having taken (too?) much “space-cake,” I lay in bed spooning my girlfriend, meditating and hallucinating. Having someone else so close to me while I was in the throes of an ecstatically heightened activation really flavoured my ruminations in a heretofore unprecedented way. I thought about how spooning was the benevolent counterpart to buggery. You see when you spoon someone, there is a way in which they are submitting to you -in MMA it’s called getting someone’s back. From the spooning position you can easily choke someone out, immobilize their limbs or, if so inclined, sodomize them.
But that’s only half the story, because when you spoon someone you can also protect them, keep them warm and make them feel loved. So the question to me became: “When I achieve power, how do I want to treat those who submit to me? Spoon or sodomize?”
In retrospect, this meditation was a continuation and elaboration of the take-away from my Psilocybin trip the previous September regarding ultimate surrender. This experience didn’t have any effect on my spine though, and at the time, it all seemed separate.
What Brought All of these Realizations Together?
My next divine, “spine-greasing” experience on mushrooms would be another 5 gram Psilocybin trip (McKenna’s ‘heroic dose’)in Berlin’s Tiergarten this past spring (2018). I started out down by a small stream, and that shady, cool, isolated bit of the park became a surrogate womb for me. I spent some time there in that safe place as my perceptions got mashed up and my thoughts darkened somewhat. When I was ready and felt like I couldn’t stay in that dark, cool place any longer, I stumbled into the sun and, looking up at the sky I could see the geometry of everything; a kaleidoscope of faintly colourful geometric shapes rotating independently and yet symmetrically against a large, illuminated pale sapphire. It has the character of stained glass, like I was in a giant, atmosphere sized non-denominational cathedral. Yet impressive though it was, my mind was elsewhere; something about my own history seemed opaque to me and I meditated on it, lying in the crucible of sun-baked grass.
In my reverie, a goose approached me. Now a fondness for geese was never an affliction I suffered from and you could say my adult life has been nothing if not a rejection of the most goose-like aspects of myself -I see that now as I was writing that last sentence. In any event, far from the usual hissing of our typical encounters, this meeting was peaceful and bespoke coexistence, and I was convinced that the goose was somehow my spirit animal. Maybe this is what Carl Jung meant by “incorporating your shadow”.
Am I the embodiment of the things I hate? Seems poetic and so it must be at least somewhat true.
After my goose realization, my spot by the stream seemed used up; it was time to move. So, fledgling toddler that I was, I picked up my guitar and began wandering until I reached a spacious and lovely biergarten (yes, a biergarten in Tiergarten) situated on a pond. Setting up two benches together for a more spacious seating platform, I crossed my legs into lotus and began stretching as I leaned forward over the front of the bench toward the ground. In this position, thoughts of surrender came back to me. I thought of my father and mother, divorced since I was 2. I always took their divorce for granted, not really knowing any other existence, and I grew up split between my mother and stepfather on one side and my father and stepmother on the other. In my expanded state I saw the way that this had stunted my development and had made me “less” of a man than I could ultimately have become in this life. I panicked at the thought and then I became angry at them for sabotaging my life and potential so needlessly.
But was it needless?
“We needed a lot of needless suffering.”
-Me, waxing philosophical on ayahuasca in Nuevo
Rocafuerte, Ecuador (February 2016)
I mean, said suffering had brought me to this point, and this point seemed meaningful and important enough to exist for so perhaps the suffering wasn’t so needless.
Instead, maybe my father and mother had accrued such damage in their lives as to make their coming together more of a collision than a union, and so perhaps their divorce was a near inevitability instead of a choice. In this regard, perhaps I am less a victim of their callousness and moreso the inheritor of their suffering. And of course, to their credit, they tried. They really tried. They tried to insulate me from further pain after realizing how much of their own pain they allowed to pass to the next generation.
I realized that I was stuck with this pain; the legacy they had handed off to me like a baton; the generational suffering which had been passed to them by their parents. I saw how inexorably inescapable it was for me. I saw that by not having acknowledged it sooner, it had atrophied my spirit and made certain of my potentials unreachable for the rest of this life. I saw that I was a broken human form cast into a gloomy swamp engulfed by a yellow haze; blind, crying in shock (as if something dear had been suddenly ripped from the centre of my being…like a baby from my womb..), unloved, pathetic, choking, unable to speak, humbled, in pain, with so long to go, such a heavy burden to carry, and no guarantee that I would make it.
Mine is a sorry lot indeed I realized, and I can’t describe the feeling of dull, throbbing emptiness I felt in my heart and abdomen and existence when I realized this. My posture reflected this -head hung low, dangling in the vicinity of my knees (I had at some point uncrossed my legs and put my bare feet on the ground like the filthy, provincial peasant-spawn I was.
A funny thing happened then, a realization along the lines of “Better luck next time!” came to me. And it comforted me.
Let me explain:
I view life as a series or set of games. Every interaction, every society I’m part of, every social group and every culture represents a different game. Some are (perceptibly) separate from others and some games exist nested within games within games within the biggest game of all (at least to me), my life (Look up “Games People Play” or relevant talks by Jordan Peterson). But I have also incorporated the hermetic wisdom of The Kybalion and its principles, particularly “The Principle of Correspondence” (‘As above, so below; as below, so above’) in this case. It’s the idea that things scale up and down to infinity and that the same mechanics are at work in corresponding ways at every level. So it makes/made no sense to view my life as the ultimate (doomed) iteration; according to the principle of correspondence it is but one iteration of my meta-life -I just happened to be struggling this round.
On a more experiential, perhaps more relatable level, knowing that I had inherited pain from previous generations and that I could quite conceivably pass on that pain to others in the future made me feel immortal insofar as I saw that I was part of an enduring process and that my actions mattered.
Also, as per “The Principle of Vibration,” if I want the impulse that I am to gain greater and greater amplitude, animating even higher forms of matter with life-essence throughout the duration of my meta-life, I must stay in a place of resonance. Nothing seemed so anti-resonance to me as falling into a bottomless pit of despair. Is this life going to be a ‘snake down to’ or a ‘ladder up to’ the next iteration? If a ladder, I have to carry my burden with strength, dignity and humility, bringing happiness to those around me or at least minimizing their suffering, suffering though I may be myself. After all, it’s just a game…
This realization saved me from the despair I was trapped in and as I inhaled and rose up from my posture of surrender and wretchedness, an amazing thing happened: I brought something up with me. It’s hard to explain what exactly, and I will use esoteric terms to describe it, so forgive me, students of the new age who use more refined nomenclature: As I rose, an energy rose up from my root (chakra) and traveled all the way up my spine/kundalini. As it rose, it flushed out all the blockages existing within the uppermost portions of my spinal column -again giving me that free mobility I had experienced after my Amanita trip the previous January in Arizona. As a visualization, imagine the cleansing energy was like one of those drain-clearing graphics from Drano commercials in the 90s.
But that’s not all! As the energy continued moving upward, it EXPLODED out of my crown like an ethereal ejaculation which shot up into the air above -some no doubt finding the proverbial egg which would precipitate my conception into a new universe- but much of it inevitably scattering short of the mark, making an absolute mess of the other patrons.
Yes, in a metaphysical sense, I ejaculated onto the people around me.
Their pets too!
I think they liked it though. Seeing me rise up, one guy at the next table asked me to play guitar. I was/am still learning and I was newer then than I am now. I did have some songs in my repertoire but I was also tripping balls and so perhaps not the best man to perform.
But then, ‘So fucking what?‘ When was it ever a good time to make others happy? Optimus Prime said, “Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing,” and as a novice rock-star, I had no hope of escaping that yellowish swamp of despair beyond picking up that guitar and putting smiles on some faces.
Was I amazing? No. I was decidedly not. But I didn’t have to be. I focused on playing the pentatonic and blues scales which I had recently learned, nice and slow. With my head and neck craned left looking down over the fingerboard with a newfound mobility and the up-close care and attention of a jeweler setting a stone, I played these universal forms, discoveries more than inventions, set down by the earliest musicians. I realized that their subtle, immutable rules provided me a security that relished in my fragmented state. As I played them I got faster, I got better, I got inventive, I got cocky, I fucked up, but when I did I could always come back to the transcendent original form and begin the process over again.
Just keep playing…
I played these scales sadly while weeping ecstatic tears and worked through the minutiae of loose ends left behind in the wake of my larger, earlier realization. In military terms, it could have been considered “mop-up” after a larger offensive. At length, the man who asked me to play gave me a few Euros and left with his family, probably not sure what to make of the ruefully countenanced troubador and his minstrelsy which tilted disproportionately to emotion over skill.
Still I played, and when I got up to get a coffee and treat myself to a pastry (which I ate slowly and mindfully) I walked straighter, more deliberately and more powerfully than any other time I can remember off the top of my head.
People were looking at me. More than usual. Such was my radiance.
One final point on this trip which ties this experience closer to that initial, earlier idea of surrender. Remember I joked that the path to enlightenment was up my ass? Well, in this scenario, I brought something up from a primordial place, from my root chakra, which, as the survival/fight or flight energy centre, is located squarely in the anal region. Similar to how I have pulled universal energy down to me through my crown, I brought universal energy’s as-yet-unnamed (at least to me) earthly counterpart up through my root.
I knew it was up my ass all along 🙂
“Knowing is not enough; We must apply” -Bruce Lee
I did two back to back trips over two days about two weeks ago. The first one was a similar 5 gram (‘there goes my hero..’) trip starting and ending in the same locations in Tiergarten. (This time I jazzed up the mushrooms with maple syrup to increase their palatablity). My guitar playing was better-ish, and while I didn’t necessarily have a unique new breakthrough, I did cement certain ideas from the previous trips -particularly the yellow hazy swamp of despair and the primordial hum which my wretched self hummed like a slave hymn as I feebly fumbled my way out of there.
No geese though.
The next day I took my girlfriend through her first trip -two grams for her and 3 for me in our apartment. Setting a very strong intention to be a guide, the onset of the darkness I saw didn’t manifest until she had already gone through the worst of her trip and was smiling and laughing at the things being revealed to her. As she saw that I was looking a little morose at that later point, she was able to coach me and tell me the things I needed to hear, and in that regard it was a beautifully synergistic experience. But prior to me tripping I was able to help her find balance with breathing exercises and humming that same primordial hum that had served me on my previous trip.
As an aside, I have used hums, mantras and “Oms” only a handful of times in meditation and yoga, but never enough to realize their power. This hum I was doing seemed to send some resonant frequency through my body which…..loosened things up?
The next night after these two back to back trips, my girl drove me to the jobsite I was working at and we slept in a teepee. I smoked cannabis with my coworkers before bed and then when I joined her for sleep, fortune conspired to fortuitously have me sleeping on a wooden platform with no air mattress. I realized that the wood wasn’t uncomfortable in any absolute sense, it simply didn’t cushion, and thus it inhibited frivolous sleeping positions. Pillows and mattresses, for all of the comfort they provide, do tend to enable our bad sleeping habits. For example, I tend to sleep in semi-fetal position. Why? Why do I do that? Well, it’s comfortable and when I ‘lock in,’ I can sleep incredibly deeply. But am I a baby? No; I am a man and I should sleep like a man, on my back, sleeping deeply but never so deeply that I wake up groggy. Or worse, so deeply that I don’t awake when something goes bump in the night. Sleeping on your back leads to easier wake-ups, and as it would happen, its the most comfortable position to lie in on a flat hard surface.
Also, as I learned this particular evening, lying on your back on a hard surface with some friction allows you to stretch your back in ways that a mattress and silky sheets do not, and as I began exploring these stretches, I used my hands to manually manipulate my head,; lifting it, pulling it back to find length in the spine, and then resting it down on the board so that the weight was on the base of my skull and just below, with my chin tucked into my upper chest. This had a two-fold benefit: 1) With my chin tucked into my chest and my jaw unable to open, it was impossible for me to snore -a constant problem with sleeping on my back, and 2) I had isolated my lingering persistent neck stiffness (it tends to come back after being cleared during a mushroom trip) to a vertebrae in my neck (somewhere in the 30th to 33rd vicinity) and this position put that vertebrae in traction.
What a feeling! I had been hard-pressed to find a way to effectively address and stretch this compression or herniation (not sure the proper term) and here and now I was exerting positive pressure on it simply by lying still.
But I wasn’t just lying still; having done two trips in the previous two days I am guessing I had some latent psilocybin in my spinal fluid and it was reactivated by the cannabis and the deep, restful, meditative breaths I was taking. I began drawing energy into my being from the universe through my crown, down the length of my spine/kundalini, and then when it hit the bottom I began channeling it back up achieving a less potent version of that “Drano feeling” I had experienced earlier. But channeling it down and up is not simply a mental or visualization matter -my body was actually moving and my spine seemed to be fluctuating in a wave pattern.
I thought that perhaps a Sine wave or cosine, etc. could, universally fundamental as they are, be optimal patterns for spinal movement when attempting to channel universal energies. Speaking a little out of school here, but perhaps if the right frequency, the resonant frequency of spinal motion could be found and adhered to through training, it could precipitate greater conductivity to universal energy by shaking loose impingements through increasing amplitude.
What impingements? The build-ups and the gradual ossification that take place as a consequence of aging, the blockages which come as a result of our vices and habits and the general calcification we experience in this polluted physical realm. As I breathed and moved with my breath, visualizing this wave (great back workout btw) I came to a point in my spinal waveform where my weight and the energy I was channeling were lined up at that vertebrae in my neck. I held here for a moment and I felt a movement. It was as if something compressed slowly, partially gave way with a groan and a grind. A groan and a grind may not sound healthy, especially when we’re dealing with the spine. but I was and still am working on opening a door that has been closed a long time, and that creak gave me hope and assurance that I was onto something.
I am still working at this impingement and I am certain I will get it soon, but in the meantime I am looking to procure some more medicine as my spinal reservoir of psilocybin seems to be depleted. Also, with regards to the back workout mentioned above, my back was sore as (sic.) the next day as I had used the finer muscles along my spine that don’t get used to that extent so often. I want to keep training those muscles and over time get to the point where I have such fine control that I can manipulate each vertebrae individually. We all gotta have goals, right?
Wow! Sounds GREAT! But What’s the Rub?
My body motions must have seemed like a seizure and I would guess that they were not too far from that. That’s a scary thought, but its mitigated by the fact that it was a seizure brought on by my own volition which I could end at any time I wished. I have long suspected that epilepsy might be like a short-circuiting kundalini, dangerous because there is no control to the flow of energy. Certainly it would offer at least an anecdotal and poetic explanation for why so many famous artists have been epileptic -they were simply tapping into something universal in a way that was beyond their control.
I’m not a doctor and so please dismiss the following words as the words of (well-intentioned) fringe lunatic: If you are suffering from the pain of a lifetime of bad posture and your calcified vertebrae prevent you from correcting matters, a seizure might be just the thing to straighten you out. If precipitated through meditation (and perhaps the use of psychadelics) and therefore controllable, I think it can be not all bad.
One final point on epilepsy/seizures: There was an epileptic Russian author, very possibly Dostoyevsky, who said of his seizures something to the effect of, “The quality of them was such that if I could, I would go on having them for the rest of my life.” Looking at it from the other side, if we are trying to transcend this physical realm and slough off this corporeal shell by raising our vibration (let’s assume we are), how might that look? Arguably a lot like a seizure. This is why practices like yoga and physical conditioning in general are important -with greater flexibility and strength you become better able to withstand the physical violence of intangible energy coursing up and down your spine without becoming crippled by it or dying. And the longer you can stay on this plane with that energy coursing through you the more help you can provide uplifting those around you. Like Jesus. Or Buddha.
Parkour rules apply: “Be strong to be useful.”
Some things to note:
-I am not a doctor.
-Stand up straight with you shoulders back and sit in lotus where practicable. Treat your body like a Ferrari and you won’t park it like absolute dogshit.
-Stop eating bullshit. Sugar, empty carbs, processed foods, etc… They mess your connectivity.
-Meat is ok for some people at various points in life. I am and have been on a near-keto diet for the last two trips and that hasn’t fucked with my ability to go deep into a meditative state. For me, leaning out as much as I can is most important right now and I am grateful to the animals who give their lives to provide nourishing food which keeps me healthy and vital in this transformation. That said, certain meat restrictions might be helpful on the actual day of a trip though. It’s a double-edged sword so be judicious.
-If you use alcohol, use it for a toast and then pour out the rest for your dead homies. Seriously -even if you’ve never missed a day of work or beat your wife, that shit slows you right down and holds you back in life.
-Subscribe to @psychadelicmilk on Instagram.
I hope you see some truth in this and I wish you and your spine all the best.
I have been an absolute failure as a writer of late.
For the last 8 months or so I have been living in Berlin and while my intention at the outset was to spend lots time documenting the previous two years of travel, I just kinda never got around to it in earnest. So here I will provide a brief timeline of some important dates / events so that what follows will make a little more sense.
November 2015 to March 2016 -Ayahuasca pilgrimage from Texas to Ecuador (#justmightbeok, #shredradlyordietrying)
-At the tail end of this adventure I spent a month in Nicaragua where I fell in love
-Woman I fell in love with invited me to go traveling the world with here but I chose not to on account of personal responsibilities
April 2016 to November 2016 – Back in Canada
-Still very much in love but apart from the person I loved because she was traveling
-Worked a lot and became a meme lord
November 2016 to January 2017 -Hitch-hiking in Arizona (#worldwasonfire)
-Woke up hungover the morning of Trump’s election to the good news; flew to the United States that very day
-Amazing experiences with a shaman, a silversmith, a wonderful family who became dear friends and the lovely people in that lovely state
-When I left on this trip I was more sure and focused and confident than I had ever been in my life -I was going on a righteous journey to meet up with my hippie queen
January 2017 to May 2017 – Back in Nicaragua (#pimpingbutterflies)
-reunited with the woman I loved; it did not go well and by the end became very hellish for me
-Made a lot of jewelry and taught a lot of jewelry workshops as well as yoga classes
-I learned a lot about how I had been mistaken going in there with expectations and expecting to pick things up where we left off
-I had been so intent on a life I pictured for the two of us that when things didn’t go that route it really threw me for a loop
May 2017 to September 2017 – Utila, Honduras (#livinginmydreams)
-Became a SCUBA divemaster, made some great friends, got into a bit of a self-destructive spiral of marijuana and alcohol
-Met my girlfriend, Anne and we moved to Berlin together
October 2018 to Present – Berlin (#migrantcrisis)
-I had acute difficulty fitting in here at first with the onset of winter, no job and no friends
-Even as winter abated and I had a job and had made friends I felt a calling to return to Arizona and resume silversmithing and to return to Nicaragua and help my friends build the eco-project down there
-I stayed in Berlin because I wasn’t sure I could trust my own inclinations; Did I really want to go back to AZ and Nica because I felt I belonged there? Was I just chasing a good and powerful feeling I had had in the past? Was I running away from adulthood? And most importantly, was I just trying to ultimately make things work between me and my ex? When I conclusively determined that the answer to this last question was no I felt more confident about moving forward with my inclinations to get back on the road again, which brings me to….
Now (#worldwasonfire2?? #pissontheashes??)
The United States of America is calling me. It needs my help. Trump’s America is the most exciting place to be right now. So much chaos. So much change. So this fall I’m going to be leaving Germany, and after a brief stay in Canada I intend to head down to south Florida, slowly working my way north and west as it gets warmer in early 2019.
My priorities will be:
1) Developing my guitar-playing skill in the southern U.S., primarily in the Mississippi Delta region where I can learn Bluegrass. I’m gonna buy a sweet resonator guitar and slide and make some twangy as balls music
2)Developing my broader skills through workaways. I’m gonna do a lot of volunteering and living/learning through various workaways, supplementing that with couch-surfing and camping when necessary. I expect to do a lot less hitch-hiking than in the past but there may yet be some. Yoga, sailing, guitar, etc… all of these things I can develop to great extents.
3) Creating understanding through a traveling podcast interviewing representatives of various fringe groups. Whether its Antifa, the KKK, the State branch of 3%-ers, etc. I want to breate bridges of understanding. Noone is beyond redemption and I want to prove it.
I have plans to be in Nicaragua but a lot of that will depend on whether or not the political situation quiets down some there.
I am very excited about what’s ahead of me. I had some anxiety about having to end my my relationship with Anne, but we’re talking about it a lot and figuring out a way we can do this together so that’s exciting as I’ve never traveled with someone else before.
That’s all for now, but expect updates in the future as the vision crystallizes.
“Me and my song; we’ll do it alone.”
-Big Black Delta
Can you still call a bender a bender if there’s no drugs and alcohol involved?
This is what I’m wondering as I’m lying on the couch all night the last few days distracting myself waiting for inspiration to hit like a lightning bolt.
I want to do creative things. I have so many great ideas. I have multiple mediums to express those ideas. Yet for all the inspiration that passes through me, I have been hard-pressed to produce consistently and with follow-through.
Well for one, my default way to handle inspiration has typically been “write about it,” but I’m out of practice -I haven’t been a prolific writer the last year because I have been away from a computer while backpacking down south. I had a phone but I am loathe to type with my thumbs on a phone so got a little rusty.. That’s probably definitely (sic.) a part of it.
Another part of it is that I just moved to Berlin and my life here so far been so inter-twined with that of my girlfriend, Anne, that I really haven’t had a degree of ‘me-time’ to carve out my own space here and ease in.
One thing that I hope it is not is that I have lost something; some fire that I used to possess which made me post prolifically (often angrily) about matters I cared about. I like to think my convictions have remained consistent but my passions have been tempered with reason and patience.
Is there truth to that? Probably…yes. But I’m also at an age too where people calm down and settle and expect less from the world. I think… I KNOW I have gotten stronger in many ways over the last few years, but I can’t help but feeling I am capitulating by not being angry, or at least passionate like I used to be.
Do I expect less from the world? Do I expect less from myself? Is that appropriate?
I see myself as woefully unprepared and ill-equipped to take the world by storm. I’m not really expert at much, let alone the skills that are most rewarded by society, but fundamentally the problem is deeper than that. It’s a lack of drive because I want for something to believe in. I want something to motivate me to get me excited for each new day. Lately I have been living my life with the mindset, “How can I maximize the safety and inoffensiveness of my existence so that I can prolong my comfort for the longest period of time in the hope that the revolution materializes in the interim?” That’s no way to live and I know it’s against everything I profess to stand for but it’s also a suit that fits well.
So, what do you when the type of living that you’re against is also the type of life you’re really good at? I have perfected living frugally and within my means and managed to find happiness in that. As a student of stoic philosophy I actually think there is something noble about it, but at same time being back in a city makes me feel like I am not being all I can be because I am surrounded by so many high-achievers. It was easy for me to be a relative high-achiever living on a beach the last couple years; if you can make some flyers with an iphone app, open beers, guide people through stretching and bend wire you are a high-achiever. Berlin is a little different and I have felt that I am not really good enough at any one particular thing to make a living at it when there are a hundred other people who focus on that one thing and have become expert at it.
So I’m wondering what do I want to be good at and examining each possible thing critically. Naturally I always find reasons why I shouldn’t be focusing my time on these things. There are so many reasons NOT TO DO things and even the reasons FOR doing things can be taken apart and shown to be meaningless, pointless, self-defeating and paltry.
The only consistent, irrefutable reason TO DO anything always is that it’s inside me and I have to get it out.
I don’t know.
I don’t know if I’m right, if I’m deluding myself, and if this post even makes sense. I just wanna get back to being good and outspoken again like I used to be.
*This story is based on a prompt from r/writingprompts which can be found HERE.
Ishmael breathed into his hands to warm them by the fire. For all the lofty talk of freedom he had heard, all he could say for sure was that it entailed a great deal of discomfort. If only he’d escaped from MECCA-CITY 01 -at least then he’d be in the desert. True the desert lacked abundant water, but seeing as he wasn’t particularly thirsty at this moment that seemed a reasonable trade-off.
He was suddenly distracted by a giggle from Fatima.
“What’s so funny?” he asked.
“I don’t wanna tell you.”
“Because you’ll make fun of me.”
“Pfft, I’ll make fun of your dumb-ass ass anyway.” At this, he lunged and attacked her. They wrestled for a moment until he pinned her loosely underneath him. She looked up at him and smiled. Without her head-scarf, her thick, brown hair fell in cascading locks that were quite lovely.
“You should be wearing your head-scarf,” he said, admonishingly.
Fatima’s expression soured. “Oh what, are you gonna be the religious police now that we’ve escaped the city?”
“No….it’s just that it’s cold and if you get sick I’m gonna have to be the one to take care of you.”
She weighed this and nodded. “You know ‘ll get sick even quicker if you keep me pinned on the ground like this.”
“What were you giggling at?” he inquired again? Without waiting for her to respond he grabbed her wrist and gently twisted it so he could see the image on the smartphone’s screen. It was a picture of the prophet engaged in immoral acts with a camel.
“What the fuck?” he exclaimed and got off her, registering mild, though still exaggerated, disgust and disappointment.
“See, I knew you’d think I was stupid for looking at memes.”
“I don’t care that you’re looking at memes, but that’s disrespectful.”
He resumed sitting on the log he had leapt from moments ago. and took on a brooding demenaour.
“It’s a fucking joke, ” Fatima protested. “Have a look. Now, that we’re outside the mosque we’re picking up all kinds of signals from parish and synagogue satellites. I find the parish memes funnier so far…”
But Ishmael drifted off into his own thoughts. There had of course been speculation that the infidels had their own networks and advanced technology, but he’d never been very much interested in that notion; he wasn’t one to spend much time online anyhow. But now, seeing firsthand that the ‘barbarians at the gate’ were actually sophisticated societies…well, it was all a little sobering. Fatima on the other hand, always had her nose in her phone and took it for granted that the infidels must have the internet because what else would they do with their time? She was so far past the shock Ishmael was feeling that she was already doing a comparative analysis of various infidel cultures.
“Why do you think that is?” asked Ishmael slowly and deliberately.
Fatima neither looked up from her phone nor missed a beat as she answered: “Well it seems that the Jews are more afraid of us and the Christians are more disgusted with us, so they’re less overall respectful and therefore make funnier content.”
“No, not that. Why do you think we’re picking up these signals?” he asked, already knowing the answer. “Why couldn’t we receive them in BAKU?”
“Duh! The men who control everything control EVERYTHING!”
That was it. He still wasn’t sure why he found this so shocking. Perhaps it was because it was final, irrefutable confirmation that he -they- had lived a lifetime of betrayal.
“You look surprised.” Fatima observed with as much compassion as she could muster, even looking up from her phone and trying to penetrate his sullen state with her eyes.”
Ishmael took in a deep breath and unconsciously straightened in his posture while turning to Fatima. “Look, we both wanted a way out, but we both knew we wanted it for different reasons.” Fatima unconsciously turned herself toward him and let her hand with her phone in it fall to the side.
He continued: “You have always felt trapped by every aspect of society. You were always a rebel, since we were kids even. I don’t think anyone will be surprised to find you’re gone tomorrow. The elders will probably make a gestural condemnation of you but I don’t think it will go past that. To their credit, they’re pretty liberal in the periphery. Even the men of the desert -most came this far to escape Meccan stricture.”
“So then why did you want to leave if they were so understanding?” she asked with a touch more condescension than she had intended.
“Well as liberal as they are, there were certain things which were beyond questioning. I was fortunate to learn under Mullah Enoch. At times I asked him questions which others may have had me flogged for. But he would just laugh understandingly and say, ‘This isn’t the place to ask such things.’ ”
“Where was the place to ask such things?”
“I didn’t know…at least at first. Then I started to think that perhaps I should approach him outside of the mosque hidden in plain view where noone would be particularly interested in a student and teacher’s conversation, but whenever I approached him he was evasive or just told me that we could talk the following day in the mosque, which of course was ‘not the place to ask such things.’ So I started thinking perhaps he wasn’t talking about the mosque, but the city itself. Perhaps it wasn’t that he couldn’t talk about what I wanted to know, but that he didn’t have the answers to my questions.”
“So you’re gonna gonna look for a mosque in the wild?” Fatima interrupted with some derision.
“I don’t know!” Ismael responded defensively. “But I’m certain that Mullah Enoch was trying to tell me to leave the city.”
Fatima laughed unexpectedly which startled him. “What? Another clever picture of one our faith fucking an animal? What is it -a pig this time?” he asked, disapprovingly.
“No, I’m laughing at you, dumb shit. All this time I thought you wanted to escape the faith and now I found that you want to go deeper.” She brought her phone back into her lap. “That’s so ridiculuous -you’re finally free and you want to imprison yourself even more.” Her eyes traveled down toward her phone.
Fatima’s words didn’t bother Ishmael so much as he realized his story may have been a touch melodramatic, but he had enjoyed having her complete attention. He felt a tinge of panic when he saw it go back to her phone so he decided to tease her to get it back.
“Well, I can’t let you become a godless heathen,” he said matter-of-factly, casting her a sidelong glance. “We’re still going to pray several times a day and read the word of the prophet.”
“Oh really?” Fatima said, not looking up. “Maybe I just abandon you in the middle of the night.”
“I wouldn’t recommend it.”
She looked up from her phone, amusedly challenging him. “Why’s that?”
He looked at her phone. “The battery won’t last forever. Who you gonna talk to when it’s dead?”
“Congratulations! The one reason for staying with you that I can’t refute,” she said as she looked up at him and put her phone to sleep.
His confidence regained by his triumph over her phone, Ishmael relaxed a little and the conversation began to flow a little more freely from his end. “Yeah well when it comes down t it, it’s our crippling fear of being alone with no one to talk to that truly gave birth to civil society.” Fatima smirked at this. “If nothing else, it kept my parents’ marriage from falling apart.”
“Wow, that’s a pretty cynical view of the social contract.” Fatima observed. ” ‘We are both completely inadequate -so let’s be somewhat less cumulatively inadequate together.’ ”
“You could at least give me a ring before you make a proposal like that,” he said, feigning haughty indignance.
Fatima stood up and got one one knee in front of him, looking him in the eye. “I’m just a young apostate kneeling in front of a young heretic asking him to complement her shortcomings with his his own in a co-dependent, probably destructive way.”
“I hear apostate chicks go all the way…”
“Till they stone me or burn me with acid.”
“Wow. You just gave me the weirdest boner.”
“And at that, the condemned young female’s vagina dried up and she rediscovered the faith. Allah hu Akbar!”
They both laughed and Fatima propelled herself by pushing against Ishmael’s chest, causing him to fall off the log.
“Lucky for you it’s cold out here so we’ll have to spoon to keep warm.” she said, giving him an accusing smirk.
Ishmael hadn’t bothered to get up from the ground after she’d pushed him. Instead he laid there and cast her seductive eyes., dragging his finger slowly across the ground. “I feel so tiny wrapped up in your big, strong arms,” he said in a smoky, sultry voice.
“Ha, nice try -I’m little spoon.”
“Dath coo!” He got up and began brushing his clothes of while singing, ‘Ain’t nothin’ but a dry-hump par-tyyyyy…’
“Just keep your weird boner away from my butt-crack and we won’t have any problems.”
Ishmael rolled out a blanket on the ground near their fire while Fatima gathered some more sticks and wood for their fire.
“Should we stay awake in shifts?” she asked.
“Probably the most prudent thing to do. You wanna take first or second shift?”
She yawned. “Umm…neither…”
“Then it’s settled. Let’s go to ground.”
They both laid down on their right sides and Fatima curled herself into Ishmael’s embrace. After a few minutes of fidgeting and getting comfortable they finally settled and began drifting off.
“I love you.”
A moment passed.
“I’m all you have.”
“You’re all I want.”
They both began tearing up as the knowledge of how alone they were set in. A few moments passed then Fatima spoke:
“I love you.”
Ishmael squeezed her tighter and kissed her on the back of the head and they, at length, drifted off to sleep.