2010 November

Archive for November, 2010

30 Nov 2010

Ah-choo. (Repeat)

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Remember the annual cold? I do.

Perhaps you are one of the special people who “never” get sick or when you do, have a bully night of it and then it’s gone. I, on the other hand, have wacky tonsils that seem to be breeding grounds for your germs and the germs from across the hall.

I remember the doctor who wanted to scoop out my tonsils with a spoon when I was in fifth grade. He actually said that. “Your tonsils are so swollen I can scoop them out with a spoon!” The last thing I was going to do at that point was allow that man in my mouth with a kitchen utensil. So, as I managed to do with the optometrist who advised my parents in first grade to have me fitted for glasses, I campaigned for leniency. I also found out that the typical person who gets fitted for eyeglasses finds their vision degenerate at a faster rate than non-spectacle wearers. It was an easy campaign from my perspective. To this day, I’m the only one of 5 family members without “corrective” lenses.

“Isn’t there a pill I can take?” The doctor informed my mother that 3 out of 10 patients were able to reduce the swelling of spoonable tonsils and avoid surgery. Done. All I needed were the odds and I could manifest the necessary results. Three decades later, my tonsils continue to be hotbeds for germ incubation. I can feel it. Right now. Bastard tonsils. Just kidding. One needs to be careful with negative affirmations…

Back to the annual cold. What happened to once in a while? It used to be that I’d get a whopper of a week long sinus cold each winter and it was done. These past few years it has been more like a few times per annum that the creeping crud invades my Google Calendar and forces me to make changes.

What gives? I eat a somewhat healthy, vegetarian diet, take supplements, get my seven hours of sleep, avoid most exercise, spend each day across from 6-12 people in close quarters and enjoy a good glass of single malt scotch here and there.

Well, I’ll tell you what gives. I fly. I mean, I go up in commercial airplanes. Almost every illness I have had in the past three years can be associated with air travel within at least a month if not a matter of days. The last two times I have been sick occurred within four days of flying. Hmm. What do you think about that? I think it is highly unfortunate.

I know we are all carrying various pathogens and pass them all day long from public restrooms to doorknobs to public transportation but has it always been this bad? It seems as if there is more awareness today than ever before when it comes to washing your hands after you tinkle. So what is going on?

There are endless answers from conspiracy theories to antibiotic saturated foods (and people) that create super-resistant pathogens, making it more and more challenging to combat the increasingly uncommon cold.

But still, why me? I take astragalus for God’s sake.

More than it being a mystery, it is a downright assault on my freedom. The fact that I can’t plan a vacation and assume that I’ll be well enough to enjoy it is very disturbing. Is it me?

25 Nov 2010

40 Years and One Revolution Short

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Well, today’s my birthday. 40. Wow.

I suppose as a kid I figured 40 would mean something. It seemed so old, so up there…

And yet, here I am. And well, it doesn’t mean much. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my birthday. Each year, I love to celebrate myself, my birth, my annual rebirth and the recognition of another cycle that has passed. However, the numbers? Well, they feel rather arbitrary. I only tend to compare myself to people in terms of their age when I am feeling bad about myself for something. Something akin to the notion that perhaps I have not lived up to my potential thus far.

Jesus accomplished so much before he was 34. In fact, he accomplished so much that people wanted him dead for all that he had done in 33 years. That’s impressive, no?

John Lennon died when he was 40 and he was a Beatle, for God’s sake. He was John Lennon, man. Imagine that. He was gunned down just a few blocks from Strawberry Fields Forever.

Martin Luther King Jr. died at 39. He had dreams just like me, but somehow he was able to mobilize a generation and well, yeah, um, they killed him for that.

Each of these role models changed the world, lived revolutionary lives and catalyzed paradigm shifts on the planet, all before they were 40 and they all wound up dead.

Now that I’m here, I suppose the idea that “I have plenty of time” seems a bit foolish. On the other hand, staring at the long list of my personal heroes leads me to wonder whether it is so surprising that I’ve been slightly resistant to changing the world. Everybody ends up dead. Seems like in order to make a profound difference on the planet, the price to be paid is often one’s life. Hmm.

Maybe I can still get something important accomplished and just squeeze under the radar, body, mind and spirit intact. Perhaps that is a worthy goal in and of itself: Develop a new paradigm where changing the world leads to respect and positivity without the desire to snuff out the messenger. I’m on it.

23 Nov 2010

Touch me, PLEASE…

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We are hungry, all of us.

Feed me, please. I’m in need of your… touch.

The physical experience of intention activating your body to interact with mine is something most of us never get tired of. We can feel anxious, uncomfortable, scared even- but beneath the defense mechanisms, we want it. Touch me, hold me, just graze your hand on my shoulder, but touch me.

I’m not the same without it and I’m not the same with it. Physical contact transforms me. It illuminates the dark places within my being; the shadowy, whispy caverns that get accustomed to perma-dusk. When I am open to receive the magic embedded in your touch I can feel the cells deep inside leap towards each other, dancing in the sprinkler like kids on a hot summer day. Life is beautiful when it is tactile.

I experimented with Orthodoxy once upon a time. For a year I mindfully moved through the world abstaining from physical contact with members of the opposite sex and it was profound- profoundly troubling. While it was wonderful to expand my willingness to give and receive physical contact with men, the absence of the soft, energetic graze of a woman was intensely present. The power of a good shoulder squeeze and the firmness of a huggable greeting was wonderful from the men I lived and learned with on a daily basis, but the loss of female contact while manageable, became something I decided was not something I’d ever want to live without. Never again.

She was a cute, Macrobiotic, Orthodox woman and it seemed the whole physical touch interdiction thing was getting under her skin as well. A few weeks of sharing smiles, giggles and Tamari roasted pumpkin seeds and it was on. As the sun headed down behind the olive trees, she guided me up the back stairs of an old Armenian spice shop to the roof. We stood and held each other for half an hour as the pink and gray of dusk wove a tapestry of touch into our lives once again. No kisses, No groping. No need. It was sublime and we soaked it up until we were good and done.

I never again voluntarily abstained from touch. There have of course been some “dry spells” here and there but it is something I’m acutely tuned in to as a need that can not ever be satiated. An itch that I will scratch until the cows come home.

I was speaking to someone at the airport this morning about the new, more “invasive”  TSA pat down security screenings at U.S. airports and her response struck me: “I think it is ridiculous that so many people are upset about it. It’s free touch! Who cares who’s touching me? Who can’t use a little feel on a stressful day of connecting flights?” Makes a person think twice before jumping to speed dial an attorney over the governmental grope.

21 Nov 2010

Manifesting My Own Private Drive-In Movie

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When I was a boy growing up in NY, Channel 5 began to show exceptionally “B” movies at 3pm every Saturday afternoon. Sometimes they were Vincent Price offering a sinister grin or a dark side of humanity, but most of the time these films were poorly dubbed Kung Fu movies, Godzilla and monster films.

I lived for Drive-in movies. These films were oftentimes shown in black and white or really badly colorized, and it was the only time my colorfully spoiled contemporary palette could handle black and white images. Each Saturday afternoon, my brother and I would sit two feet in front of the Sony Trinitron and watch as the beseiged Chinaman of the week learned Crane Technique from the old robed master so as to fend off the band of evil this or that’s. The blood surged through our veins as our hero of the week trained and trained, sailing through the trees, punching wood posts, and carrying buckets of water on his head.

And then it happened. Commercial break. Some sort of primitive testosterone infusion overcame us as soon as Crazy Eddy came on to sell his insanely priced electronics. Instantly on our feet, two brothers morphed into Chinese martial arts experts and began to replay the television show in real life. We gurgled our voices into high pitched shrieks, curled our fingers into animal poses and lifted our legs to the air. The blood pulsed through my wiry arms and legs as I kicked and punched and cut the air with my snarled eyes and unforgiving Chinese-dubbed English.

Four years the elder, I took full advantage of my greater strength and agility much to my brothers’ disappointment. In the four minutes of commercials, I managed to make my brother cry about 34% of the time. I’m sorry about that. But I couldn’t help myself. I was so moved by the spirit of the moment and of thousands of years of my people soaring through the air, fighting off enemies and practicing an ancient craft.

OK, not my people, but on Saturday afternoons, I felt the kinship. I was Chinese. I was the underdog. I was the guy who was weak and defenseless who somehow learned to find that inner thread of brilliance and power. I was unstoppable.

Until the shouts came from downstairs to cease and desist violent behavior or else.

Imagination is a powerful force. As kids, we built cities out of legos, fought battles with action figures and space ships and drew pictures of far away places and homes we would occupy one day. So easy, so natural, so simple. And now? What stops us from creating our fantasy worlds and dream lives? How else do we manifest what we truly want to have and who we want to be?

Imagine yourself soaring through the trees, overwhelming obstacles and mastering ancient wisdom. It’s time to create your own Drive-in Movie.

18 Nov 2010

Control Yourself.

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What is it about our desire to control another that creates monsters both in ourselves and in the people we attempt to harness with our own wishes, directions and demands?

The fear in me that you will do or say something contrary to what I believe is in my best interest or even threatens my way of life is a real problem. It sits in the back of my mind and festers there; I think about it often. What if your way, hurts my way? This fear can easily transition to anxiety and eventually, become panic. The result? Slavery, murder, war, incest, rape, adultery, terrorism and a host of other distorted manifestations of my initial fear.

The concern that an extremist feels that her beliefs or way of life is somehow threatened by my beliefs or way of life can go any of two ways.

1: “Can we talk about something that has been bothering me? I feel a bit triggered by something you are saying or doing…”

2: “Your way of being in the world feels so threatening to me right now that the only way I can cope is to eradicate the thought or lifestyle choice from my world. I will now attempt to control the behavior in you I do not like. If that fails, prepare to die.”

Option 1 typically leads to a dialogue about what I did that created fear or anxiety for you and because I’m not a bad person, I agree to look at what I’m doing to see if there is anything in my behavior that is intentional or malicious and agree to shift those actions if I find I’m not acting from my best self. On the other hand, I may check myself and feel I am acting in full alignment with who I am and opt to just acknowledge that you’re having a hard time and hold space for you to be where you are, in your fear, supporting you to the best of my ability while not altering my behavior.

Option 2 typically leads to removing ones shoes at the airport. I have triggered you in some way but what I hear from you is that if I don’t alter my behavior, that you will force me to change. The fear that you will try to change me creates anxiety for me that has the potential to lead to panic. The fear that you will attempt to hurt me in order to eradicate my way of being in the world typically leads to extreme panic, perhaps even terror. The result? I attempt to control myself, control you, and control the environment so as to gain a sense of safety and security. How do I do this? Extreme measures. Lockdown.

If I am feeling out of control because someone I do not know has made a formal declaration that my way of being must be eradicated, I feel scared and angry. I want to be safe but now I’m also confused and angry that you have made me and my way of being bad or wrong. I feel defensive. I feel like getting you back for making me feel bad. I want to control you to make you understand that you can’t control me. That might feel better for me, perhaps. Maybe I’ll feel more in control;  safer.

I take measures to demand, insist, require, enforce, train, re-educate, enlist, deploy, regiment, segment, quarantine, counteract…

Ahh. I feel safe again. I have you where I want you. Now, what was it that you wanted to talk about?

As you embark on another season of holiday travel I invite you to consider this an opportunity to observe the phenomenon of control in your life. How do I deal with control? How do I deal with other people’s needs to control me?

We have two options in life when faced with a stimulus: We can React and do what we are wired/conditioned to do, or, we can Respond and do what we choose to do based on an inner process between heart and mind. I respond when I consider what my true purpose is and what my desired outcome truly is.

So, as you choose between a full cavity search, groinal pat down or panoramic X-Ray, consider that we always have a choice as to how we will respond to a particular threat, idea or attempt to control. The choice really begins at the beginning of the cycle, however.

I feel fear. How do I want to respond?