Days of Heaven?

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Saturday, May 16, 2020. No journal for five days. Because of the job. The physical and psychological fatigue of a new, very physical job, walking miles on a concrete floor, hauling boxes up and down, shoving carts around, the change in sleep patterns, again, what have you, it takes its toll and then, in my experience, you finally get your legs under you and acquire some endurance and learn to pace yourself and things eventually normalize. So, this morning, I’m finally not spending the entire day struggling to recover and can finally think again. So be it. We need the money right now, what with my advertising and audiobook and Angie looking for a dog and probably the air conditioner will crash this summer and yadda, blah. If I can’t sell books, if the cosmos denies me that life then what else to do besides let it go and see what comes back.

I may never finish editing TC2 at this rate. But fretting about it doesn’t help. It’s all about energy and how to most effectively use it. The sham-demic? Who cares? I’ve never bought into it. I wear a mask at work only because it’s the half-baked policy. Otherwise I’m trying not to waste energy lamenting the jacked up state of affairs, especially in this State. I never thought I’d ever pay any attention again to politics, let alone partisan politics but I’ve come to loathe the so-called hyper-liberal or militantly perspective, otherwise democratic, that apparently seeks to allow bureaucrats too much control over my life. I frankly thought that liberals resisted government on principle. But here these otherwise educated morons are spending far too much time, energy and tax money screwing up the economy supposedly in service of public health. My health is a goddamn private matter, folks. Meanwhile, everything has a price and if programs and handouts are going to justify increased governmental control and legislative mandates then I’m going to have to argue against the programs and handouts, even if I benefit from them. The money has to come from somewhere, the piper is going to have to be paid. And what happens when it happens again?

Anyway, given the choice, let freedom ring. The example would be wearing a damn mask during this silly sham-demic: the folks who are adamant about everybody wearing one are either too stupid to understand reasonable epidemiological risk management or they just want to tell me what to do, arguing for being considerate of the health of others, as if wearing PPE is a damn courtesy. That, or they just get off on trying to control what other people are doing. Well, I understand risk management and enough epidemiology and the functions of PPE and nobody tells me how to live my life. Disease transmission management is common sense and ultimately my own damn business. Wash your hands or don’t. Don’t touch your face or touch it all you want. If you’re a paranoid clean freak then wear your mask and gloves. But don’t expect me to. If you’re sick and your job gives you sick time, take it. Otherwise, let’s get back to work and move on. And let’s never make this mistake again. Shit happens. Nobody lives forever. Quality of life trumps quantity of life and longevity. There are fates worse than death. And, apparently, one of those fates is to become a militant liberal. But enough of politics. Politics is T.S.’s world, not mine, I just want to sell books, to be an authorpreneur, to express my VAPM and be able to quit my lousy job.

I’m on the edge of giving up on this blog, this website and for that matter the idea of authorpreneurship. It all seems to be costing me too much. Whereas the vision is for it to at last pay for itself. Self-sustainability is the dream. I’ve done my best to design a strategy and not get caught up in fantasies, to be practical and take the steps and do the work but there’s only so much time and energy and money one can dump into something before it transforms itself into a failure, a mistake and a vanishing point. Pressure and time. Chipping away at things. Stepping stones. Patience. None of the cliche perspectives pay the bills. Money pays the bills. I don’t know. I’ve nothing else I’d rather be doing besides trying to make myself into a remarkably successful authorpreneur, I know that. I’m a writer not a part-time plumbing associate at the home improvement. If only in my own head.

DOP1 2012 VINTAGE POST:

Days of Heaven

Thursday, April 26, 2012. I’m not so sure that I’ve managed to turn the ship into the wind. It seems more like I’m in a holding pattern, not adrift, but certainly not engaged in any toothsome plan. Plans: my habitual concern with planning my future may go down as my most insidious weakness. That I can’t just be myself without the relentless push-back, first against who I am, then when I get impatient and anxious, against the world, is testament to the almost crystalline structure of my fucking brain: permanently fixed and inflexible instead of plastic, moldable and changeable.

At the same time, sitting here looking out the window of this new place we’ve moved into, I can sense some peace. The view inspires meditation, even if it just looks out to a parking lot; the manicured lawn of the law college across the way, the office building to the west and in the distance, a stand of trees, along with the expanse of the sky, add up to a nice view. At night, one can watch people and cars come and go, getting dinner from the handful of albeit lousy restaurants below or a late night coffee. But my gut reaction is to fight the “niceness.” Is it too nice? Is this life going to be too easy? Do I really deserve to enjoy a view and a life that contains some ease? Shouldn’t I be working harder? Longer? Aren’t I wasting time that should be better spent? Is this the writing of an over-privileged, underemployed house-husband whom isn’t pulling his weight in the world? Getting time to write might just be the first sign of not having enough to do in life. I can criticize anything I try to do. It’s difficult to be happy. It’s difficult to enjoy things. It’s difficult not to worry about the why’s and wherefores and if the good times are past, present or yet to come. It’s probably difficult to read this crap.

It does feel good to live here, however; this space and place makes sense to me. Angie likes it too. It seems to capture the best of the past places we’ve lived in – all the way back to our Pine Valley apartment and the beautiful houses at 1709 and 3409. Angie said it even reminds her of where we stayed in Hawaii. Somebody at nsf told her that these places are like “bachelor pads.” Maybe, if by that they mean there’s no place for a bunch of kids and dogs to ramble around. As far as I’m concerned, the only thing we don’t have that we need is a dog, but no pets are allowed here, no surprise. You don’t get everything all at once in life, so that’s our trade-off for now. Anyway, the older houses we’ve lived in – 721 and of course the recent 1433 – just didn’t end up being a good fit. I sometimes wish I could be more comfortable in an older, quainter, more quirky and old fashioned place, but we’ve tried it and it just isn’t me. Our vision of greatness pretty much describes this place exactly:

New Home April 2012

Prouds:

We’ve enjoyed our brief time in 1433 – it has served us well as we had to scramble back to A2.

We paid our way through this lease and engaged our phycomythologies from 1433 – good memories for the most part.

3409 is sold (it was a great house for us, we’ll remember it)!

VOG:

We’re sitting in the big kitchen of our new place which combines all the cool aspects of all the homes we’ve lived in – island kitchen opens into the family room, plenty of counter space, great mechanicals, all quality stuff and just funky enough to jazz us every time we wake up here. The lease fits in with the 2K a month housing budget we planned. It’s a very nice, updated space with nice views of the A2 skyline. This part of town is jazzing us because it fits better with where we are in life. We want an energized space with a cool vibe, small and efficient, walkable to downtown but also everywhere else in town, and with two bathrooms, laundry on the first floor, corian or granite countertops, new appliances and good mechanicals. We also have a nice space to do yoga, air conditioning and no basement! The façade inspires us – it expresses our passion for quality building materials and inspiring architecture – it is inviting, unpretentious, but forward-thinking and funky. There is no yard that we need to maintain but the grounds are interesting, restful and also energizing, all at the same time – it connects to our love of the urban and the natural.

We could really stay here for a while because it fits us. We can play music as loud as we need without bothering anyone and we don’t have to listen to any noise from anyone else – great insulation in the walls and elbow room between neighbors. We’re tired from moving our crap again, but the movers did well with the much smaller amount of stuff we had to move this time – we unloaded lots of things we didn’t need any longer and we have enough room to use all of the great stuff we had stored away.

It’s flawed, like it seems all my vogs are: it’s not realistic to play my music as loud as I want and to not hear noise from neighbors – we’re sharing walls after all, no matter how well insulated. But the rest of it came to pass. It’s certainly an example of how you have to juggle unattachment and ambition. You want what you want, you go for it, then you let it go. That way you don’t follow the failures all the way down, and you can enjoy, without desperation and grasping, the good things. Easier said….

Being certain that there’s some big career still awaiting me – some big, huge, consuming occupation that will define me and actualize me, is something I think I really need to examine. The certainty part of it at least. Because the facts are, I’m not getting there. I’ve been able, through Herculean effort, to create many careers for myself, but they’ve all ended in fiasco. I should take heed. My E + R = O equation seems to have been stuck with the same variables and therefore it generates the same outcome. Maybe my ideas for an s&b are just more of the same? I’m still trying to be somebody that I think others would admire and respect, versus just being myself. I think the “not me” part of the s&b vision hinges on my inappropriate concern with approval from others. I have my interest in humane slaughter and handling, but I’m not a farmer. And I may never own another business. I might be living now in the last place I’ll ever live and be doing the things I’ll be doing when I die. This might be it; the “success” I’ve been looking – whatever it is – may elude me till the end, so I should be mindful of how good things are now. If this year already seems a lot better than last year, that’s something. This big window looks out on the world and it’s an engaging place to live. I’m not retreating, I’m not diminishing. Meaningful change, as Ari would agree, takes the time that it takes. I can learn to stop pushing so hard up front and just apply the pressure-and-time philosophy, the point being that the pressure doesn’t have to be immediate and immense – it’s to be continually applied in a manner that is sustainable over time – if you’re hammering a rock and looking for gold underneath, then you better enjoy some of the swinging of the hammer. It shouldn’t be hard to do the work as Ari says; what I do shouldn’t involve biophycomythological exhaustion; rather, the requirement is wholeheartedness. I’ll work on enjoying this, while working on something better – happiness doesn’t have to mean complacency.

the apartment number

I mentioned in an email to Ari the response that I got from Mike Lorentz. Whenever I’m stuck in a negative place, Ari helps clear the fog and return the focus to what matters most.

hi keith. good to hear from you. yeah . . . i can’t imagine there’s a lot of enthusiasm out there – the food world is hard enough and when you add in the less than shall we say glamorous work that goes into the slaughtering . . . i’d imagine it only gets harder. but of course doing things that others don’t want to do is part of what makes for success. and the willingness to pursue a passion into rarely trod space can also make for great success and something special. the line between genius and just plain crazy is less clear than most people acknowledge.

I just have to keep chugging with this until I run it out. I returned Mike Lorentz’s email, acknowledging what seems like the inevitable challenge of sustainability that surrounds any small-scale food-related business, and told him I remained impressed with what he’s accomplished. I asked when I could visit and see some things and he said they’re slaughtering Monday through Friday, so that means me and Angie can make plans to get out there if it comes to it. Angie wants to use a trip like that as a reason to go through Chicago – she’s never been there – and hang out with her friend from NSF. So it should work out well as a mini-vacation and road trip – I’m ready to get out of town for awhile and to pursue the s&b research. This move and the zmo job have me feeling out of sorts and unconnected to my biophycomythology – I need to read and write and stay within myself and not get distracted by concerns about money. Moving tends to really dredge up concerns of all the day-to-day necessities and a lot of the past somehow, at least for me. I need to follow my “Hermes guide” (or guides in my case) – “the dog that can follow the invisible trail for you” as Campbell describes it.[1] Also in my case, it’s probably not a dog but a pig. I’ve been following a pig, or the pigs, for some time now and they haven’t failed me. Of course I need my human guides every bit as much, but the pigs remain my mythic energy source – that thing that originally seized me and still drives me into the forest adventurous. I’d just like to avoid some of the calamitous crashing through the brush and panicky desperation that results when I’ve lost my guides, however temporarily. I’m feeling pretty biophycomythologically “thin” lately and I need to practice my vocations, all of them to restore myself. And I probably need to see some pigs….

Wednesday, May 2, 2012. I accepted the invitation from Ari and Joanie H. to speak about slaughter at next year’s camp bacon. I took her advice and thought about it for awhile before I agreed to do it. First, I’ve lost so much confidence in my ability to get in front of people that I’m not sure I can even pull something like that off anymore. My heart says “yes” but my fucked up brain says “danger!” The worst part about an anxiety attack is how it seems to take control of you. Angie’s been dealing with this stuff for some time now, but it’s still new to me to be so vulnerable to bad juju. I’m also not enamored of what the event has become, or rather, not become – it’s not up my alley to sit through such an all-day “being-talked-at” type of event, and it just lacks pizzazz. I haven’t bought a seat at CBIII for that reason, even more than the prohibitive cost of it. But trusting your guides is something I’ve been teaching myself to do and Ari knows more about “managing yourself” (to steal his term) than I do right now, so my gut tells me to just go for it. My heart says “do it” too. The topic is so important to me and I get so naturally jazzed by anything to do with pigs and pork, that to be a chicken-shit about stage-fright or whatever or fucking up the presentation just seems stupid. I know in my heart that I can do a great job; I’ve done damn fine presentations many times before in my corporate life and always when I care about the subject. So I’m jumping out of my comfort zone and taking the hand that Ari’s offering. Talking at Camp Bacon II was in one of our vogs from awhile back – it just shows again that my vogs, when they “error,” do so regarding timeline. So let’s go get ‘em with this; humane slaughter, along with transportation and handling is one of my passions, maybe my “boon,” maybe not. Anyway, it’s the thing that gripped me and led me into the forest adventurous. The diversion into the food cart world, which just may have been one of my personal mythic “dragons” or trials, is coming to an end in a good way also – there’s closure in my bringing the cart out for this year’s Camp Bacon Street Fair. I get to say “goodbye” instead of “fuck you” to that part of my journey. Now, what I’m really interested in and have put my passion in and what compels me, is being recognized by the world, at least a small part of it. Maybe I’m indeed coming back from my hero journey with my boon and I’m getting that “hook in” that Campbell writes about. Patience is part of my progress. That, and un-attachment. High intention coupled with un-attachment, just like Canfield and the Bhagavad Gita advise. You put your best effort out there and then you let it go. I feel better about things just writing that, and look: now I have something in the future, an entire year out, to work on and to look forward to. Who knows where I’ll be in a year, but there are days when I really believe that I’m moving forward in spite of the anxiety generated by the unconventional life. In a year, I might just be that much more comfortable with myself. It’s up to me to do as much biophycomythological work as I can and then to see what happens. My guides have not let me down, though I’ve doubted them so many times. Here’s my email conversation with Joanie:

“Hey Keith, Ari and I were just talking and he was telling me about all the research you have been doing on the history of slaughtering and while the agenda is set for this year, would you be one of the guest speakers next year? We don’t have a date or time yet, but we’d love to have you speak, if you would like. Think about it for awhile and let me know. Thanks!”

joanie, thanks so much for the invite. i took your advice and thought about it for a while. humane slaughter, including transportation and handling, is very important to me. i’m confident that we can make it special – not intentionally shocking, not a soap-box, possibly very challenging for some folks, but hopefully engaging and uplifting in the end. i’d be happy to participate. thanks again, keith

“Fantastic! I think it will be a very special part of Camp Bacon, not the usual topics we discuss. We’ll talk more throughout the year, but Ari and I are very happy to have you on for next year.”

Looking at this now, I find it absurd that I’d consider not doing it. What the fuck kind of biophycomythological moron would see this as anything but the legitimizing and rewarding example of how life is supposed to work when you’re being who you are? I guess you just get so fucking used to failure and struggle and, to borrow again from Mike Scott (Waterboys), feeling like “you’re suffering from too many plans that have gone wrong….”[2] There’s also Campbell’s quote about being “willing to discard the life we’ve planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us,” and finally, there’s Whyte and his discussion on how difficult success and arrivals can be. All these things I’ve read and that I try to assimilate and live by can help me make sense of what’s going on in my life and my head. If my heart were in charge – if I allowed that – I’d be better at accepting these things; I’d be more in the moment, less anxious to see results, and I’d surrender more completely. I’m still concerned, however indirectly, with what others might think of my life. Somebody said, “Life does not bear close scrutiny.” (I don’t know the source). I’ve always felt as if my life is being closely scrutinized and while the scrutiny has often seemed to come from outside, from the influence of others, now it’s mostly, if not entirely, coming from me. I think that’s a benefit of aging – the realization (and the reality) of not having your life scrutinized by others; nobody really cares after all. Young folks constantly battle with the scrutiny of parents, friends and the burdensome and often brutal social dynamics of school. You get past high school, and scrutiny comes from questions about your choice of college major, the type of career you’re planning, what kind of work you want to do, or think you want to do; how you’re going to pay the bills. At my age – forty-seven – maybe I’m finally escaping that. The scrutiny was essentially self-inflicted: I made a choice even as a youngster to try to please, to attempt to comply, all the while trying desperately to be myself. It’s a recipe for a disastrous life; a life I’ve had to overhaul many times to try to recover from the fiascos I’ve created, all the result of not being true to myself, of not surrendering to who I am, of trying to become someone somebody else might be impressed by. I was the kind of kid who, in spite of what my heart was telling me, attempted to play by the rules as I saw them. I wanted to please and belong; I wanted to get along, to live a life much like the one my parents brought me up in. But my heart wanted me to be who I am. So I trained my mind to overcome my heart time and again. To the point that when I felt good about doing something, especially if it came easily to me, I’d often question its worth. I learned to focus on the difficult, the challenging. I became very good at wanting what I couldn’t reasonably have, and good at grinding away at life, beating my head against walls and fighting the current until, eventually, my dreams just vanished; my “work” was wasted and I was left with my confusion and disappointment and the task of beginning again. Of course disappointment and beginning again is part of everyone’s life no matter how biophycomythologically astute you are. Ram Dass had his plans for example; he had success engaging them and then late in life he had his stroke and as he said, “It taught me that I have a lot of work to do.”[3] He was referring to his spiritual life seeming to culminate in a death, or a near-death experience, that was indeed not the experience of spiritual transcendence he hoped for.

I remind myself that I’m not being judged by anyone but myself. I judge the writing that I’m doing here, I scrutinize it and question its value. Who would want or need it, let alone read it? These are absurd thoughts if I’m in line with what I ought to be doing, with my biophycomythology. I should do what I do for its own sake and not question it. The creation is different than the critique. I try to remember that there’s plenty of time to apply what Hemingway apparently referred to as the shit detector – the critical perspective towards your own work that is a necessary component of talent: if you can’t separate the wheat from the chaff on your own, at least to some extent, then I think that’s an indication that you’re going to have trouble with mastery. The critical eye is always operating to some extent, but one has to release it time and time again to get out what you need to get out. It happens naturally as you go, but that’s part of having talent or not – if you don’t have any flair for what you’re doing, then it’s obvious because almost every action then becomes a struggle and the results are crap – you can’t get out of your own way. Doing something you’re good at is different. If not easily, it at least comes naturally, as a matter of course within your life, as something that you always end up finding yourself doing, despite the possibly uncooperative circumstances of your life; your creative work is a refuge for who you are. Sometimes “no pain, no gain” does not apply in the same way that we’re used to. In the gym, yes, it’s perfectly natural – your muscles have to be tortured, fatigued, and hurt as the indication of properly being worked, of sufficient exercise. When writing, if it’s laborious and painful, then, in my experience, it’s crap. I’ve not dealt with the “blank page” or “writer’s block” issue unless I’m trying to write something I don’t want to write. Campbell covers this eloquently when he says “The adventure is always reckless. There’s always a factor of recklessness in it.”[4] The recklessness for him is the ignoring of the inner critic. He quotes advice the German poet Schiller gave to a young writer suffering from writer’s block, “The problem with you is, you bring the critical factor in before the lyric factor has had a chance to express itself.”[5] Campbell describes, much like Brenda Ueland, Hugh MacLeod and anybody else who successfully creates I suppose, the requirement to overcome or otherwise ignore the stifling influence of whatever great creative works have come before us or whatever criticism we can expect from others who we think might know better. Campbell says in the end that “You have to do your thing, you have to hold all the criticism in abeyance.”[6]

Back to this “book” or journal: I disparage it when I think it has no purpose, no worth and no place in the world of action. I question why anyone would read it, because my life is not interesting – how could it be worth reading about? How can what I’m writing be anything besides another dreary, dull, unimportant and worthless diary of an untalented and unremarkable person? It strikes me that that’s how I look at the work of others sometimes – that it’s coming from average, unimpressive lives with no lasting worth or remarkable influence. How can I be so uncompassionate and in the end, unintelligent to think one person’s biophycomythology would be “worth” less than another’s? Fame and fortune – there’s so little of it really. Business has taught me this: that failure is constant and continuous, and that connecting with the world in a way that generates financial sustainability is a rare and very difficult thing to achieve – it’s the exception that proves the rule. There’s that word again: “achieve.” Your goal cannot be, if you’re to be authentically alive, to simply want to pile up money, to be “in bizzness” in the worst, most heartless sense of the term. Like Guy Kawasaki says, you have to create meaning or some version of it that’s important to you.

This “book” then, will just have to be what it is, publishable or not. What else am I to do about anyway? I can’t write anything at all from an angle based on what somebody may find worthy. It’s not about that stuff, the opinion of the world. The facts are that this has become a journal and it is therapy. That said, I still think I need to re-vision it because I do want more from it than just a diary, a record, of my life and thoughts; I want it to work for me in some way. On the other hand, maybe it’s already working for me – maybe it’s the practice of writing without restraint that is the purpose of this book. However, I can envision somebody else reading it that needs help like me, and by writing my way through this life, maybe I can help others who need similar help – it always jazzes me to help somebody work through biophycomythological challenges. How the fuck does that work together with the s&b? I’m learning that there’s no answer that matters to those questions that I ask myself. I can ask, but then I need to let it go. Any connections or relevance or relationship that my vocations have to each other isn’t the point – I just need to engage them and not scrutinize them. I keep wasting my time trying to come to conclusions and to be able to see the future more clearly, mostly so it justifies my present. I need to just be here now and try to stay out of my own way.

Angie’s struggling to get off the medication she’s been on for some years now to control her anxiety. It’s a battle very similar to my own in that you must continue to remain in command of yourself. You’re not, as Ari would remind me, in control of life in general – “it’s all out of control” as he’s written, but we can “manage ourselves” while influencing the world of action. I agree with Ari that influence, weak or strong, is all we have over the events of our lives and the lives of others. Visioning helps to strengthen the influence we have. Knowing how you want things to be helps manifest them much more effectively because you’re using your conscious and unconscious heart-mind to respond to the opportunities that present themselves. You don’t get as distracted by the other actions in the world of action so to say. You know what doesn’t apply and you become more in tune with what does apply to what you want and where you want to be. Here I am writing through my thoughts. It works. It just takes time to incorporate these ideas, concepts and techniques into your own life. My life won’t play out exactly like that of any of my guides. There will be helpful similarities and those are the signposts that keep you going, but the details remain unique to me. If it feels right, then do it, let it go, then listen to the feedback you get from your heart and the world, knowing, at least from what I’ve learned, that more than likely, the feedback will only reinforce what you already know. This doesn’t preclude the making of mistakes; the creation of fiascos. Because unless you can meditate yourself beyond space and time, into transcendence versus just approaching it – being God versus placing your fingers on the toes of God (Campbell), and go beyond yourself permanently (which I’m not sure is even the point of kundalini or the hero journey), then you’re “stuck” here in this life and the business of living. I’m choosing to get the most out of the living part and to not be concerned with transcendence. I can’t skip any steps.

“Once, in Eugene, Oregon, after a lecture in which I had dealt with the age stages as described by Dante, this young woman comes up to me later and says, ‘Well, Dr. Campbell, you don’t understand. Today we go directly from infancy to wisdom.’ I said, ‘That’s marvelous. All you’ve missed is life.'”[7]

So I sit here today, Thursday, May 03, 2012, and I’ve been writing all morning. I’ve tried to help Angie with her anxiety attack at work this morning. I texted something she found useful – Maya Fiennes’ encouragement that “all the medicine you need is within you.”[8] Also, Canfield’s meditation of going back and forth in your mind between the worst case and how you want things to be, breathing, going back, breathing, going back, until you approach the neutral and you can move forward. I don’t know that any of this is useful to anyone else or ever will be and it doesn’t matter. It’s very useful – it’s necessary – for me. Maybe it’s a vocation. Some people, professional writers, get paid for doing exactly what I’m doing now. Sitting “at home” and writing. (Here I am again, justifying, legitimizing what I do to myself, as if it’s some requirement). I’ve been a writer in some way my whole life whether I’ve considered it a vocation or therapy or just a task that needs to get done. It’s better when I acknowledge it for what it is, and that it’s one of my vocations. And like Campbell’s wife, Jean Erdman, whom he said considered dance a part of her life, versus her whole life so to speak, so that when her body could no longer do it, “she could handle” it,[9] maybe my life is more important to me that my art. I don’t know yet. Sometimes it seems that if I can’t write, walk, phycomythologize, cook, listen to music and be an entrepreneur – all of those things – then it’s not a life worth living. But when you have the advantage of more than one interest; more than one vocation (I suspect that most people have more than one vocation), then maybe as one fades, if it ever does, then another comes to the fore. Or maybe you discover (or more accurately, reveal) another vocation. I’m not sure this is worth writing about – this business of contemplating whether a vocation comes and goes or not and what to make of it. Who cares? It’s not in my control anyway. Focusing, rather, on my heart relieves me of that concern, that possible “grief.”

Tuesday, May 08, 2012. This is not a good start to the week. First, we’re struggling with a “restaurant” downstairs, code-named “Ollie’s,” that likes to play its background music substantially above “background” levels – loud enough that it drones through the floor of our place most of the day and sometimes past eleven at night. The city noise ordinance, blah, blah, blah, is in effect 7am – 10pm which leaves a nice humungous chunk of our lives legally exposed to the whims of a corporate chain that has a manager that likes to “provide a pleasant dining experience” by having loud pop music and by turning the music up at lunch and dinner “rush.” We’ve intitiated a significant email string of course, but there’s the likely inevitability of us having to endure a year of “background” music from Ollie’s until we get the motivation to move again. Ugh. I can’t write about it anymore here because it’s too fucking stressful. It has us on the brink of thinking the adventure of our move has already, in record time, turned into a fiasco. I’ll stop.

The other shitty thing about this week’s beginning is my new strange “pancreatitus-style” illness that just about laid me out and kept me from going to work Monday. Body pain, messed up guts, fatigue and no appetite. Angie’s medical web search, based on my symptoms, diagnosed “radiation poisoning.” I’m guessing stress, from this bullshit move, and maybe food poisoning. Or maybe just too much beer, coffee, olive oil, vinegar, green walnuts, guanciale and otherwise rich food, much of it available at zmo. Julia Child described a time, in My Life in France, when she and her husband Paul suffered gastro-intestinal issues to the point of having to back off from the savory richness of the gastronomic lifestyle for awhile and maybe that’s what happened to me. Anyway, I’m better today, but fuck everything lately.

I’m also feeling less and less involved in zcob the longer I work there. You work for a place and inevitably you find yourself disappearing into it, at the expense of your own life. It’s the same problem of allowing your days to be consumed by the mere acquisition and application of skills (rather than the expression of your talents) that prevented me from pursuing work at zcob’s Roadhouse restaurant, even though Ari suggested it. If your job is not your passion, then you’re destined to be caged or otherwise limited by it – it holds you back because it simply devours the time that should, if you’re biophycomythologically committed, be spent on your vocations; on your master passions. I’ve said for a long time that I think I make a better zcob customer (and student) than employee – zcob is just too full of a frustratingly stagnant mixture of both the peaceable kingdom vibe and the fear-aggressive “I need this job” attitude, and it will continually attempt, without malice, to suck you in and swallow you whole, really. ZCoB invites total commitment and total immersion and in return you get back a great deal of support and opportunity to express yourself, though not ever by way of a promotion or a decent income. The money at zcob is held as close as any company I’ve worked for because that’s the nature of any business: keeping the financial rewards with those that have taken the financial risk. If you take more risk regarding your own finances, then you’ll be rewarded more generously based on the availability of the organization’s profit. Note that I don’t say you make more money if you work harder – that really doesn’t have a lot to with money-making and it never did. Folks make a fucking killing in life by exploiting the work of others (I sound like Emma Goldman except for the expletives) and it’s because the worker chooses or agrees to the disadvantaged arrangement. Of course most of us feel like we have no choice; that we need a job, and Ari (and Emma and Joe Campbell) would remind all of us that we indeed do have a choice, you just have to be willing to accept the consequences or the outcomes of it. The outcomes may include penury or, in fact, financial riches, in the rare case at least. They may include obtaining everything in between including everything that matters more than money. Things can become extreme and desperate and unfortunately it’s that terribly trying worst-case-scenario type of life that you must be willing to risk jumping into in order to get out of. It’s that impossibly simple.

Case-in-point, is the stress I’m beginning to experience working at zmo and not being jazzed by the tasks; the stress of this recent move (which really crept up on us); the stress of going out of business (which affects me fundamentally but hardly seems to affect Angie at all); the stress of owning a house in TX that we can neither live in, sell, nor walk away from and as of now, can’t even rent – listen to all those can’ts! – the stress of Angie’s job (which is changing as her company finally begins to try to trim its fat); the stress of me still trying to figure out what I’m going to be when I grow up (the s&b is a long-term commitment without realistic financial benefit); the stress of knowing that many folks every day “give up” on the food business as a way of life (Kristen H., ex of sans street, is happier now than ever just focusing on making a buck which is fine, but while Angie identifies more with that attitude I, as much as I struggle to be that old version of myself, have moved on to more meaningful commitments); the stress of working through Angie’s dependence on anxiety medication to keep her from becoming a difficult, stressed-out person to live with. All of our battles that don’t need to be battles. We turn them into battles, at least I do. It’s so much of what I’m used to that I almost successfully transform the way I see zcob into the way I’ve seen every other workplace I’ve been in: I look at it as a challenge to my freedom, to my choice and to my personal expression. I become an anarchist and see it as exploiting me, though one of the co-managing partners – Ari – is in fact is writing books decrying the very idea of such exploitation. In some sense I think he’s being hypocritical or at least naïve. So, it’s a lot to do with how I see things – how I allow my negativity and bad energy distort the good about what’s right here in front of me. If I feel like I don’t belong, (and I’ve got a way of feeling like I don’t belong anywhere), then I’m likely to make sure I truly don’t belong in the end – I create exactly what I don’t want.


[1] Joseph Campbell, Pathways…, xxiv.

[2] The Waterboys, “This is the Sea,” This is the Sea, Chrysalis Records, F221543, 1985.

[3] Ram Dass Fierce Grace, dir. Mickey Lemle, Zeitgeist Video: 2001. DVD.

[4] Joseph Campbell, Pathways…, 156.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., 157.

[7] Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work, (Novato: New World Library, 2003), 207.

[8] Maya Fiennes, Kundalini….

[9] Joseph Campbell, Pathways…, 159.