compassion

holiday focus

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If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.... dali lama
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion…. dali lama

there are times in my life that find me having lost my way. for some reason or another these misadventures wrong turns have not killed me. they have indeed given my experience depth and resilience.

the task this month will be to remember that as i encounter conflict or change that beyond the immediate discomfort there awaits a gift of discovery that might just change my world.

 

budapest- a labyrinth of friendships, spirals, and touchstones

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“In the past, when gays were very flamboyant as drag queens or as leather queens or whatever, that just amused people. And most of the people that come and watch the gay Halloween parade, where all those excesses are on display, those are straight families, and they think it's funny. But what people don't think is so funny is when two middle-aged lawyers who are married to each other move in next door to you and your wife and they have adopted a Korean girl and they want to send her to school with your children and they want to socialize with you and share a drink over the backyard fence. That creeps people out, especially Christians. So, I don't think gay marriage is a conservative issue. I think it's a radical issue.”  ― Edmund White
“In the past, when gays were very flamboyant as drag queens or as leather queens or whatever, that just amused people. And most of the people that come and watch the gay Halloween parade, where all those excesses are on display, those are straight families, and they think it’s funny. But what people don’t think is so funny is when two middle-aged lawyers who are married to each other move in next door to you and your wife and they have adopted a Korean girl and they want to send her to school with your children and they want to socialize with you and share a drink over the backyard fence. That creeps people out, especially Christians. So, I don’t think gay marriage is a conservative issue. I think it’s a radical issue.”
― Edmund White

 

realizing that i have conducted a “lean” process in my life and changed my workload drastically, it is advised that i make contact with friends and support as much as possible in the near future to buffer the transition. i have been actively making this adjustment.

today was a quick and delightful lunch with my oldest and intimate friend. we’ve known each other over 50 years and there is very little need for back story or for validation it’s already embedded. found myself working out the choreography of my next main event. it was comforting as much as it was directional. being an established survivor, i became clear that the skill set survivorship requires needs to be included in the next portfolio. while the value of crunching numbers and coloring within the lines bears credo, resiliency and adaptability remain the legend that defines this journey’s topography.

the life lessons that emerge from daily encounters routinely seem as obfuscated as the sunday nyt jigsaw clues. the answers are there, but do not bubble up with the initial introduction. time, spirals, and steeping in the juices of trial an error are required for a rich and flavorful brew. perhaps the morning cuppa is directly related to the ongoing task of distilling the ever-changing landscape of perspective.

friendships are like touchstones. they provide memory and spiritual connection in almost any brief exchange. today’s  lunch excursion did not disappoint. a reminder of a connecting thread beyond the recent employer side-show grounded me from regret and tethered me from rising into the fog of self-doubt.

as i watched a recent episode of norton graham, i became enchanted with a singer-songwriter george ezra. he has received accolades about a tune he penned by the name of “budapest”. some personal experience parallels  his claim that the song has nothing to do with the city of budapest other than his inability to complete his plans to travel there because he missed his train. this resonates and is totally relate-able to me. i remember itention of going places and have repeatedly found myself not there at all.

go figure

. not knowing is a radical issue and requires divining some radical acceptance.

Give me one good reason
Why I should never make a change
Baby if you hold me
Then all of this will go away

Give me one good reason
Why I should never make a change
Baby if you hold me
Then all of this will go away

My house in Budapest
My, my hidden treasure chest,
Golden grand piano
My beautiful Castillo…. george ezra

sunsets, nostalgia, and the promise of a new day

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“Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it.”  ― Ray Bradbury
“Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it.”
― Ray Bradbury

as a result of my recent resignation from the workplace, an ask of direction as well as intention seems a good next step. one could wonder if perhaps i might have benefitted from taking the time to do this seriously prior to stepping through the next appearing doorway. but that particular hindsight may have no influence here.

this blog falls under the purview of this next step. started blogging during my 3rd year of recovery about 2006. it was fun then taking on a new hobby. it felt clunky and i didn’t have a road map. there were online communities and instructions, but that is not how i have ever learned a skill (this trait still holds true). i remember when i got my first comment on my blog from a fellow blogger from idaho who was struggling with some similar issues as well as  struggling with his life choices. it is an instant recall to muster the excitement and validation i felt when some unknown soul from outside my own personal universe connected with my journey. i was hooked and soon i had fashioned a support network of seekers from around the globe which was less demanding and intimate than my friends in real life. it extended my outreach and influence, while at the same time i stunted my emotional growth experience.

but as my recovery journey emanated beyond the blog-o-sphere  and co-mingled with my career path my inspiration and artistic freedom shrank. although blogging remains a vital spiritual practice for me, the profile of this practice has diminished these 8 years. the output is restricted to internal struggles, the organically embedded love of music woven through me, and reposted images and graphics. many times, i find myself sitting in front of the keyboard engaging in a sort of improvisational blogging, drawing inspiration from a found jpg or png, or a swirling few tidbits of a newly discovered or recently remembered melody or lyric. it is mostly rote and completely routine providing more reassurance to me than release. i am more connected with the process than i am with the content. it has become more objectively introspective than externally exploration and  provides the sustenance of a snack now than the meal it served up at the start of it all. i now possess a sense of ownership rather than the inspiration i once knew.

i long for a rekindling of my spiritual connectedness to this process. i continue to resonate with a life built upon shame based trauma. it is a reflection of my own story, but i don’t seem to have gained insight by a continued stream of internal review.

just as it became appropriate to transition from journalling about addiction, treatment, hiv, meth, and rogue sexual ideology to the more reflective topic of long-term recovery, it  now seems time to channel a new muse.

i am unsure if i am too weathered to begin all over. i long to use personally generated graphics and images at least as a philosophy and a cornerstone of my product. it seems imperative to extend my view outward and process my experience from an evolved vantage point.

 

slam dancing redux

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If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;If you can dream – and not make dreams your master; If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with triumph and disaster And treat those two imposters just the same; If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to broken, And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools;If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breath a word about your loss; If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch; If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run – Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!!!!.... Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools;If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!!!!…. Rudyard Kipling

“i don’t feel as if im set up to succeed here. i have a brief manual to go by, but i don’t feel comfortable asking you questions because when i do,  i feel shamed  with your responses.”

shame is your word. i understand that there are many components to your job. it’s 12 pages after all. but everything is written down. the people you have interacted with are very happy and feel very good with the style you work with. but we are not a counseling agency. the other employee has made herself available to answer your questions. but i just don’t see an effort from you. 

“i feel good about the job and the many different aspects of it. but this (hand motioning towards one then the other) doesn’t feel good to me. i am considering what to do. you need to let me know how much time you need if i decide to move on.  it would be better to leave this in as positive a light as possible.” 

this parceled jumble tosses round and round in my head. the string of it that remains tethered to my soul is best described by the concept that i talk with someone in an authority role about my feelings and i receive a hybrid of criticism, discount, and blame for expressing them. let me be clear here- lives do not depend upon my decisions. the actions which affect the direct quality of life would be those that i am interacting with outside the confines of the office. no- the actions i speak of are documenting and reporting issues. and i’m certain you can deduce from my description that these aspects of the workload do not come before people in my mind.

i honestly cannot decipher whether this is real or a reduction of my own personal drama or simply my truth which i must shoulder.  in any case, i recognize these dance moves through cellular memory. i have promised myself that i don’t need to live within the confines of this brand of oppression and dismissal. i can do the waltz or a slow dance. i can dance by myself or be still.  i deserve more. and so i seek more.

We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us; it’s no use!

Society’s arms of control
Rise above! We’re gonna rise above!
Think they’re smart; can’t think for themselves
Rise above! We’re gonna rise above!
Laugh at us behind our backs
Rise above! We’re gonna rise above!
I find satisfaction in what they lack
Rise above! We’re gonna rise above!

We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us; it’s no use!

We are tired of your abuse

Try to stop us; it’s no use!

We are born with a chance
Rise above! We’re gonna rise above!
I am gonna have my chance
Rise above! We’re gonna rise above!
We are born with a chance
Rise above! We’re gonna rise above!
And I am gonna have my chance
Rise above! We’re gonna rise above!!!.. black flag

come in from the rain

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"We should find perfect existence through imperfect existence. We should find perfection in imperfection. For us, complete perfection is not different from imperfection. The eternal exists because of non-eternal existence. In Buddhism it is a heretical view to expect something outside this world. We do not seek for something besides ourselves. We should find the truth in this world, through our difficulties, through our suffering. This is the basic teaching of Buddhism. Pleasure is not different from difficulty. Good is not different from bad. Bad is good; good is bad. They are two sides of one coin. So enlightenment should be in practice. That is the right understanding of practice, and the right understanding of our life. So to find pleasure in suffering is the only way to accept the truth of transiency. Without realizing how to accept this truth you cannot live in this world. Even though you try to escape from it, your effort will be in vain. If you think there is some other way to accept the eternal truth that everything changes, that is your delusion. This is the basic teaching of how to live in this world. Whatever you may feel about it, you have to accept it." - Shunryu Suzuki
“We should find perfect existence through imperfect existence. We should find perfection in imperfection. For us, complete perfection is not different from imperfection. The eternal exists because of non-eternal existence. In Buddhism it is a heretical view to expect something outside this world. We do not seek for something besides ourselves. We should find the truth in this world, through our difficulties, through our suffering. This is the basic teaching of Buddhism. Pleasure is not different from difficulty. Good is not different from bad. Bad is good; good is bad. They are two sides of one coin. So enlightenment should be in practice. That is the right understanding of practice, and the right understanding of our life. So to find pleasure in suffering is the only way to accept the truth of transiency. Without realizing how to accept this truth you cannot live in this world. Even though you try to escape from it, your effort will be in vain. If you think there is some other way to accept the eternal truth that everything changes, that is your delusion. This is the basic teaching of how to live in this world. Whatever you may feel about it, you have to accept it.” – Shunryu Suzuki

our nature is simply our nature. it is often said “don’t play in a lightning storm” yet so many of us do exactly that. i have been doing something very near anyway. my supervisions these last 2 months have been charged with condescension, passive aggresive projection, posturing, and hyper i’m-right-edness. needless to say it has been equally toxic and exhaustive.today i decided to take cover.it hur no more dancing in a lightning storm. it hurts too much. it just hurts too damn much.

taking chances has a way of becoming just that- chance. probablility and outcome influence my every move. i took a chance. and i am tumbling. i got burnt. gave me a boo boo. now what to do.

come in from the rain.

and then what?

Well, hello there
Good old friend of mine
You’ve been reaching for yourself
For such a long time
There’s so much to say
No need to explain
Just an open door for you
To come in from the rain

It’s a long road
When you’re all alone
And someone like you
Will always take the long way home
There’s no right or wrong
I’m not here to blame
I just want to be the one
Who keep you from the rain
From the rain

And it looks like sunny skies
Now that I know you’re alright
Time has left us
Older
And wiser
I know I am

‘Cause I think of us
Like an old cliche
But it doesn’t matter
‘Cause I love you anyway
Come in from the rain

And it looks like sunny skies
Now that I know you’re alright
Time has left us
Older
But Wiser
I know I am

 

while my life ….gently weeps

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I had spent years adjusting to the idea of dying. I made piece with dying as I sat beside my dying lover’s bed and gave him permission to go. When I was dying and everyone around me was dying I had a purpose. My crisis came I realized that I might live another 25 or 35 years. It also felt like we were being swept under the rug. People wanted to forget about AIDS and we survivors were reminders. But I took a handful of pills everyday to keep alive. AIDS was and is a daily fact of life for me. Most mental health professionals treat depression, anxiety, sleep disorders as unrelated and not the natural response to a long, sustained trauma. Living with so much death while preparing to die young for a quarter of century fucks with your head. I remember the day that saw a piece on TV about vets and PTSD. I couldn’t stop crying. Could my reactions be post traumatic stress-related? After years of feeling out of control things began to make sense. My therapist thought I might be on to something. It was not until I began sharing my story that I realized that I wasn’t the only one stumped by survival.... spenser cox
I had spent years adjusting to the idea of dying. I made piece with dying as I sat beside my dying lover’s bed and gave him permission to go. When I was dying and everyone around me was dying I had a purpose. My crisis came I realized that I might live another 25 or 35 years. It also felt like we were being swept under the rug. People wanted to forget about AIDS and we survivors were reminders. But I took a handful of pills everyday to keep alive. AIDS was and is a daily fact of life for me.
Most mental health professionals treat depression, anxiety, sleep disorders as unrelated and not the natural response to a long, sustained trauma. Living with so much death while preparing to die young for a quarter of century fucks with your head. I remember the day that saw a piece on TV about vets and PTSD. I couldn’t stop crying. Could my reactions be post traumatic stress-related? After years of feeling out of control things began to make sense. My therapist thought I might be on to something. It was not until I began sharing my story that I realized that I wasn’t the only one stumped by survival…. spencer cox

late october some 29 years ago, i was a very different guy. i had just spent a couple of years helping a group of friends open an after hours club in chicago and had on of the biggest rides of my life. within this framework, i also spent a year witnessing one of my best friends get sucked into the void by the omnipresent eradicator of our generation.

melancholy sweeps over this guy every year at this time because there was a reckoning. a tsuname. a volcano eruption. an earthquake. the aids holocaust is well documented and there seems no need to duplicate that here.

besides, i am not well-equipped nor prepared to discuss any  facts or data because i was in the middle of them all and way too close to be impartial. what i can be sure of is my ongoing surprise and humility at survival. also what remains is a braided tapestry of emotion, memory, impression, and broken dreams.

beyond the idea that “life is what happens while you’re busy making plans”, there is the “alice in wonderland” metaphor. once one makes a decision to go down the rabbit hole, i am now convinced that one can never go back. not really.

i continue to struggle with survival and success. partially i resent even struggling at all, and at the same time have grown an outer shell that whittles “average” struggle into grist for the mill. i may have felt the heat of dante’s inferno and developed a thicker skin.

let’s acknowledge here that we have all survived- certainly not just me. mine is merely one tale. it is only one dot within the enirity of the work of george seraut. all of this rambling reinforces for me the idea that we don’t know where we are going at all. we think we know so much when we are younger. we are damn sure that life is just as we see it and as we understand it. but life has a way of revealing to us in its own time that what we know is dwarfed by what we don’t know. the revelation of what i didn’t know is what brought me to my knees in this life. it woke me up and invited me to feel again.

late october some 29 years ago, i fainted in the middle of an aerobics class. in my heart, i understood that the plague had entered my life. i thought i knew what the outcome would be. but i had no idea.

I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps
I don’t know why nobody told you how to unfold your love
I don’t know how someone controlled you
They bought and sold you.

I look at the world and I notice it’s turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps
I don’t know how you were diverted
You were perverted too
I don’t know how you were inverted
No one alerted you.

I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
Look at you all . . .
Still my guitar gently weeps.

 

a tale of two sissies

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"She had laid her head upon my shoulder, that night when I was summoned out--she had a fear of my going, though I had none--and when I was brought to the North Tower they found these upon my sleeve. 'You will leave me them? They can never help me to escape in the body, though they may in the spirit.' Those words I said. I remember them very well.'" - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities,
“She had laid her head upon my shoulder, that night when I was summoned out–she had a fear of my going, though I had none–and when I was brought to the North Tower they found these upon my sleeve. ‘You will leave me them? They can never help me to escape in the body, though they may in the spirit.’ Those words I said. I remember them very well.'”
– Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities,

just emerging from a 4 day wrestle with a sinus infection and it does not escape me how spiritual illness really is. it is humbling. it is direct. it is right-sizing. it is a part of the process. it is a levelling.

funny- how different a person is when they feel well in contrast with how they are when illness pervades. two separate people- the healthy and the sick. tow people in one. or at least two sissies.

one wants to dance and explore, while the other reas quietly during hibernation. they inhabit the same frame but conduct life’s music with different orchestras. uptempo and still in unison.

I hear her voice in the morning hour she calls me, the radio reminds me of my home far away.
And driving down the road I get a feeling that I should have been home yesterday, yesterday.
Country roads, take me home to the place I belong.
West Virginia, mountain momma, take me home, country roads.
Country roads, take me home to the place I belong.
West Virginia, mountain momma, take me home, country roads