What does God think of your Facebook Thoughts and Prayers?

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What does God think of your Facebook Thoughts and Prayers?

Virtue Signaling: ever heard of it?

How many times do you see people post something that – if you pay close attention – is crafted to advertise to the world how concerned they are, how righteously angry they are… that they are “worried” about the “right things”?

Being “virtuous” has never been more in style – problem is, it’s really just a game of “Hey everyone, look at me! I’m better than ________”.

Ninja level question: How often have YOU done that?

I certainly have done an embarrassing amount of it over the course of my social media career, and yes, calling out the virtue signalers can be read as a meta-version of that. Yep. I get it.

A desert dwelling guru called Yeshua once said,

“When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”

I think if Yeshua had known about Facebook back then, he would have said,

“When thou prayest, remember that Thy Father is in heaven, and not on Facebook. He hateth that shit. Whilst thou may use Facebook to gently invite others to pray for the downtrodden, thou shalt not advertise thine own prayers, for thou runnest the risk of thy reward being the approval of men, rather than communion with thy Father and / or Mother who art in heaven, but are divorced and not on speaking terms with one another, so you’ll need to call them separately, but that is another story for another parable, beloved ones”.

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Burning Man 2017

Memories from Burning Man 2017.

Trying to explain what Burning Man is, visually, or with words, is like peeping through a pinhole at the night sky and trying to describe the heavens.

 

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Radical Self Reliance: thoughts from Burning Man 2015

It’s Burning Man season! Be warned: This is all I’ll be talking about until mid Feb 2018. With that, let’s get on to tonight’s thought:

There are a lot of people who are super sad these days. Angry. Offended. Scared. I feel bad for them, because I’ve seen this other way of living:

Burning Man is a brilliant primordial soup of human potential, creativity, and possibility unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I’ve never seen so many people acting in so many beautiful ways. Our dusty home in the desert is governed by 10 Principles. Principle #4 is “Radical Self Reliance” and it goes like this:

“Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.”

On the surface, this means that you are solely in charge of bringing your own:

  • water
  • food
  • shelter
  • fuel
  • electricity
  • drugs (JUST KIDDING NOBODY DOES DRUGS OUT THERE)
  • sunscreen

Burning Man is a place of abundance! There is always extra to go around, and usually extra stuff to bring home. When you get 75,000 people together who have all taken seriously the idea of self reliance, synergies occur and tremendous excess is the result. If someone happens to fall on hard times once out there – like, if your tent burns down – chances are that people around you will have you taken care of in no time at all and back to the party.

“Radical self reliance” goes beyond physical provisions: it’s about taking responsibility for my own experience. Not just on the Playa, but in the rest of life as well. I am in charge of my own feelings. Nobody can “make me” feel anything unless I allow them to. Being offended is a choice. Being happy and blissfully content is a choice.

A wise old desert dweller once said,

“He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool.”

(B. Young)

Anyway – that’s it for now. I’ll be posting more from my last burn as I get packed up during the next few days.

THE MAN burns in 16 days!!
)'(

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Cafe Busted

I give to you a tale of coffee, heartbreak, and healing:

We had a love that started fast and brought the promise of forever – She was a twin flame, a magnificent mirror. To this day, I’ll tell you – that’s still true. We understand each other profoundly – we just can’t tolerate each other.

Spontaneous combustion happens when the right molecules run into each other under the right happenstance. The problem with spontaneous combustion is not just the unplanned consequences of the blaze, but that it’s impossible to sustain; because it wasn’t started intentionally, there’s no fuel prepared nearby to sustain the warmth of the fire. It simply erupts, consumes everything in it’s path, and dies out as fast as it began.  Nevertheless, the flames of such a fire can be pretty convincing.  Such was our brief blaze.

Before long, I was staying most nights in her bed, down the hall from her three teenage kids. The kids quickly gave their blessing of our sponaneous union; one of those first mornings we woke to find that her daughter had made us coffee and brought it to us in bed;  one of her sons would repeat that heart melting gesture some time later.

Coffee became a morning sacrament – we would wake early every day; she would get in the shower and I would start the coffee. She would emerge from the shower to find a breakfast of coffee and toast waiting on the bathroom counter. It was one of the rituals I invoked to show her my adoration. We left our old coffee ways behind and found a brand that we loved together – a rich cuban coffee called Cafe Bustelo.  If you look at the can from a certain angle, the font can be mis-read to say “Cafe Busted”. This coffee became a calling card of our relationship.

Lucky in love, conscious of the poor odds of success, and anxious to defy the world by telling everyone about it,  we set out to create an online memoir – a “how to” for other couples to follow:  CafeBusted.com :  “An impossibly single bachelorette meets an incurable bachelor. Tales of dating, blended families, and a new take on love”.  This is a graphic I made up to serve as the header image on our new blog:

From the notion of sharing our personal life, to our choice of names, the whole idea was adorable, if not staggeringly naive.  It invoked a principle of the Universe that I have come to understand more as I’ve become older: Every time I set myself up to be a teacher of a thing, the Universe has a way of giving me a test on that very subject that takes me to the edge of my sanity and shoves me toward the abyss.  I’ve learned that if I am going to challenge my tribe to do 10 pushups, I must be prepared to do 100. I will be forced to do 100, regardless of how well I prepared.

In the beginning of every act of creation, the idea is birthed from one’s mind into the world of three dimensions as The Word, be it written in an email or spoken to a friend.  Because The Word is the first and primal act of creation – The Word is God.

Busted.

Our love was explosive, and as all good explosions do, it laid waste to both of our hearts. After many months of exhillirating togetherness, moments of truth brought our love affair to a screeching halt.  Sometimes doing the right thing is still heart breaking, rightness be damned.

After our split, my weekly walk down the grocery store coffee isle became an open casket funeral viewing for a loved one that just wouldn’t end. Has the coffee isle ever made you cry? Yeah, me either…. and that’s because I learned to get the hell out of there ASAP. This hot beverage PTSD continued for about as many months as we were together: the better part of a year.

I spent those first many months drinking cheap, generic coffee; I didn’t mean to be symbolic about it, but in hindsight I can see that it wasn’t really the $3 per bag difference in price that was motivating my coffeee choice.  That dry, shitty coffee was a mediation of sorts. After a while I allowed myself to graduate up to something truly delicious, a new brand devoid of the emotional fingerprints of any lover.  It’s *really good* coffee, and it invokes mornings of happy solitude, journaling, meditation and creation.  It’s all mine.

So here we are, one year and two days after she and I parted ways. While restocking on staples at the grocery store last night, my regular brand was out of stock. Cafe Bustelo sat on the shelf, stoically staring forward, trying not to make eye contact with me.  The yellow and red of the can no longer elicited pain in my heart. In the name of curiosity and science, I picked up a can of Bustelo.

I was okay

…bought it.

I was okay

…brought it home

I was okay

…brewed Bustello for breakfast today

I was okay

…like the way you sit in the theater and read every last scrolling credit for a movie that affected you deeply but will never watch again, I drank the coffee.

And not only was I okay,

much to my surprise and relief,

I found it

to be

just

coffee.

 

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Chris Cornell (1964 – 2017)

The Seattle grunge scene of the 90’s was a huge, formative part of my teens and musical upbringing. Few voices are more symbolic of it than Chris Cornell’s. Nevertheless, I was never a big fan of Soundgarden… I was an Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam guy.

…and then, a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to photograph Chris Cornel during one of his solo tours.

That was a game changer for me. That man’s voice is the real deal. I now saw what millions of others had seen in him – a soulful voice with incredible range – both in octaves and emotions, packaged inside a frontman that was supremely cool – never too charismatic, always paying attention.

Last night Soundgarden played a show in Vegas. They changed up their encore song on the fly, opting to perform Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time Of Dying”.  For now I’ll call it Chris’s suicide note.

You will be missed, Mr. Cornell.

IN MY TIME OF DYING 

by Led Zeppelin

In my time of dying, want nobody to mourn
All I want for you to do is take my body home

Well, well, well, so I can die easy [X2]

Jesus, gonna make up my dyin’ bed.
Meet me, Jesus, meet me. Meet me in the middle of the air
If my wings should fail me, Lord. Please meet me with another pair

Well, well, well, so I can die easy [X2]

Jesus, gonna make up.. somebody, somebody…
Jesus gonna make up… Jesus gonna make you my dyin’ bed

Oh, Saint Peter, at the gates of heaven… Won’t you let me in
I never did no harm. I never did no wrong

Oh, Gabriel, let me blow your horn. Let me blow your horn
Oh, I never did, did no harm.

I’ve only been this young once. I never thought I’d do anybody no wrong
No, not once.

Oh, I did somebody some good. Somebody some good…
Oh, did somebody some good. I must have did somebody some good…
Oh, I believe I did

I see the smiling faces
I know I must have left some traces

And I see them in the streets
And I see them in the field
And I hear them shouting under my feet
And I know it’s got to be real
Oh, Lord, deliver me
All the wrong I’ve done
You can deliver me, Lord
I only wanted to have some fun.

Hear the angels marchin’, hear the’ marchin’, hear them marchin’,
hear them marchin’, the’ marchin’

Oh my Jesus… [repeat]

Oh, don’t you make it my dyin’, dyin’, dyin’…

My photos of Chris Cornell’s performance at The Depot in Salt Lake City, Utah. 25 April 2009:

 

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Building Man 2017

A few photos and thoughts from Building Man 2017 at Jenkstar Ranch in Green River, Utah:

Tonight our tribe will dance to pulsing anthems of modernity, fueled by electrons harvested from the sun this day. We will give and receive sacraments that pull us into the present, healing our addiction to the past and future. The cliffs and buttes are the elder statesmen of the desert – their billion year old wrinkles a constant reminder to be humble.

Much love to the Jenkstars for making this happen.

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Two kinds of giving up, two different paths

 

Swiping left and right as a 40 yr old dude is interesting business. I’m open to dating a rather wide range of ages. It’s an interesting vantage point to observe the feminine trajectory.  (these observations probably apply to men as well, but since I’ve only gone swiping for ladies, that’s all I’m going to talk about. Transpose as you may.)

40-ish is a fascinating fork in the road. Women tend to head off in one of two directions:  Those who have given up, and those who have let go – and they are TOTALLY different.

The first group are those who hit a point where they have decided that their world view is the final word. In their frustration and exhaustion, they made up their mind that “this is just how life is” and began making their quasi-peace with it. These women, seemingly overnight, go from being young women to old ladies. The essence of femininity is growth, ebb and flow, change… They’ve given up on exploration and their femininity withers on the vine.

There are women who have let go, and they are totally different. It’s hard to tell how old they are – they have a youthful something-about-them that would inspire the appetite of any young man in his sexual prime, yet they exude a wisdom and confidence that young women can only imitate, at best. To say she loves herself is one degree from the truth – she IS love. It manifests as nurturing and fierceness. She’s young enough not to care too much about the way things used to be – the past has no claim on her. She’s old enough not to care too much about what anyone thinks of her. She knows who she is and her definition of her identity is completely independent of other people or things. She may have done many laps around the sun; those laps have just made her more hot.  She has let go of all of the notions of what she “ought to be” and finds pure joy in being what she IS.

One is a slave to what “ought to be” and has given up trying. The other has let go of what “ought to be” and just IS. She is magnificent – the mother of all living – whether they be children or ideas or causes.

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A Mormon Family that Drinks Together, Stays Together

I was born of goodly Mormon parents. Sometimes, it takes getting drunk around them to realize just how good they are.

When I call myself the “Crossdressing Mormon Anarchist”, I’m only partially kidding around.  Like any Jew who carries the card but only attends Synagogue during Yom Kippur, Mormonism is my heritage. It’s basically an ethnicity. They are my people. My parents, and grandparents on both sides of my family all served missions for the LDS Church. My great great grandfather is a famous Mormon pioneer; he was one of Brigham Young’s hit men. The foundational stories of my parent’s lives as individuals, and as a couple, are rooted in The Church. Mormonism runs thick in our blood, which means that as far as orthodoxy is concerned, things like alcohol, should never run in our blood.

One of the main tenets of Mormonism is the idea that via Temple marriage,  families can be together forever – after death, in heaven. As a kid, that failed to make sense to me in several ways, but the foremost reason was that I really didn’t like my family that much. I regarded them as bunk mates assigned by the drill sergeant of life circumstance – and as soon as bootcamp ended, I’d leave and probably not give them a second thought. The Mormon Church attempting to incentivize righteous living with the reward of an eternal family felt like my mom trying to bribe me to clean my room by promising that she’d take me to have a root canal as a reward.

As adults, it was no secret that my brother and sister had left Mormonism by the wayside. My mother used to call me her “last hope” for having a kid that would carry on a legacy of “righteousness”.  Many years ago, my own falling away became known to the family. This was ushered in one Christmas night as we were wrapping up a family party. My parents went home, my daughters returned to their mother’s house, leaving just the three of us kids together. Wine emerged from Camille’s cupboard. Glasses were poured, glasses were raised and we partook of the goodness of the grape together for the first time. Something shifted in a way that’s difficult to account for – it may suffice to say that we found ourselves three grown adults with things in common that only we could have. It’s like some kind of pretense disappeared and left us honest. I found new friendship in my brother and sister. From that day forward, I’ve enjoyed their companionship in a way that starts to give ironic legitimacy to the promises of the church.

You need to know right now that my mom prays for me every night. And Camille. And Mikey… not just that we’ll be happy and safe, but a particular kind of happy & safe: In my Mom’s experience, Orthodoxy in the church is akin to getting enough vitamin C. I’ll say this – that absolutely IS her experience, it is her reality. The Church, the community of people that are the church – have been really good to my parents, and they’ve been good to it. I would never want it to go away, for their sake… it defines and supports their lives –  but that’s another story for another day. My sweet mother prays for us with the energy of a good mom whose sole desire is that her offspring thrive – thrive in the only way she knows how. She means really, really well. I seriously adore my Mother.  Every week that Camille, Mike, and I do not engage with The Church, I imagine she must feel like a failure. How can she not? Her purpose in life is defined in terms of dedication to The Church.

I have dedicated my life to authenticity. There are many rewards that come from living authentically (again, another story for another day). One of the dark prices I pay for living authentically is the knowledge that I regularly disappoint my mother, break her heart, even.

During a recent trip with the whole family to visit Camille, her husband and her awesome little boys in Mesa:

Mike and I decided to let everyone take a rest. We took over the kitchen to prepare a feast for our family. In preparation, we hit the grocery store.

One of the things I love about shopping outside of Utah is the experience of being treated like a true grown up.  The Kroger store was just like my beloved Smith’s at home, but had a very large isle of wine and liquor that echoed the candy isle in any Utah grocery store (we don’t drink our feelings away, but we eat them away like a motherfucker. Diabetes is our religion’s disease of choice).  IT WAS GLORIOUS. Mike bought thin sliced pork chops, whiskey, and a 30 rack of beer. I stocked up on  garlic, tomatoes, onions, basil, pasta, bread, and wine.


I adore the process of drinking, conversing, and cooking with, and for, people I care about.  Mikey and I spread out and started chopping, cutting, simmering and searing a spread of ciabatta with balsamic vinegar & olive oil; marinara from scratch over penne; seasoned & breaded pork chops . We took our time. Meal prep included a first course of cold beers, followed by whiskey. As dinner neared completion, I opened the wine and had a couple of glasses.  Four drinks just while cooking? Hell yes. We come from Viking stock and can handle our liquor. Let’s pour a fifth as we dish up and consider it an apéritif, shall we? Cheers!

I paused and took inventory:

Beers: 2

whiskey shots: 1

glasses of wine: 2

crusty looks / lectures from parents: 0

There were my parents – enjoying time with us, loving us, without conditions – IN the conditions of us kids flagrantly behaving in ways that offend some of their deepest sensibilities, hopes, and dreams. This was a defining characteristic of Christ – he was criticized for breaking bread with sinners. Each week, my parents partake of bread and water (used to wine in the early days of the church, but any liquid will suffice for symbolism) that has been blessed in the following way:

O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

They were, in the most literal, and possibly painfully personal sense, about to break bread with sinners. Not a single lecture nor word nor gesture nor any hint of disapproval. Just love. We had a wonderful dinner, told stories, and truly enjoyed one another’s company in a way that exceeded every lofty and empty idea of “family time” from my cold hearted childhood.  I raised my glass of wine to my lips and partook of my own personal sacrament of gratitude and witness that my parents were, in that very moment, not just claiming Christianity, but DOING Christianity. This is what it looks like to take up the name of Christ and always remember Him, and this is what it’s like to have His spirit.

Mom, Dad, you’ll probably never read this, but if you do, I hope you can see that the quality of your character has not been lost on me for a second. I’m profoundly grateful. Not everyone has been blessed like I have with parents as exceptional as you. To everyone else  – this is it. This is what it looks like. This is how it’s done.

much love –

Paul Duane

 

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What is keeping you from your greatest potential?

I get asked a lot, “How can I live a more authentic life?”  I’d like to guide you through a short thought experiment that will open the door to finding your own truth about this.  Be someplace where you can be deep in thought for about 300 seconds. You will need a piece of paper and a pen or an electronic device you keep notes in.

Imagine moving to a new city of your choosing via time machine. Pretend that it’s 1983 and social media doesn’t exist, so, your reputation does not follow you to this new home. Nobody knows who you are and nobody has any expectations of you, yet. You could be the town bum or a visiting celebrity, for all they know. You have a completely clean slate in every way.

  • How would you show up?
  • Would you change your name?
  • What work would you seek out?
  • Who would you date?
  • How would you vote?
  • What social circles would you want to be in?
  • Would you change anything about your appearance?
  • Would you act differently?
  • How would you introduce yourself at parties?
  • What kind of reputation would you seek to create for yourself?

Close your eyes and really sink into this imagination of yourself for a few minutes until all of your senses are involved.

  • What does this reality smell like?
  • What sensations come into contact with your skin in this version of reality?
  • What sights do you see on a regular basis?
  • What does it sound like? Do you commonly hear ocean waves? Aircraft? Galloping horses? Children playing?
  • What flavors cross your palate in this version of life? (mine involves a lot of mango salsa)
  • For you ambitious dreamers…. what does your sixth sense feel like in this new reality? What spiritual knowings and experiences do you have as this version of you?

This will start to feel really good. Once you can hear, smell, touch, see, and even taste this alternate reality, sit back and play in it for another few moments.  Let your heat, mind, and soul marinate in the imaginations of your senses.

..

.

Apparently you’ve had enough and have opened your eyes again. Welcome back!
Compare the alternate version of reality you just imagined.  What are the factors that are keeping you from showing up in THIS world, like that, today? Name them. Write them down. Seriously. Right now. There’s something about seeing them as words in front of your eyes that will be good for your soul.
Look at your list of reasons.
These are the things holding you back from your deepest authenticity, and your full power as a human being. I know they are all rooted in good intentions, but that’s not the point. Do not judge the reasons. They are not good or bad, they just ARE.  Just stare them in the eyes.  I’m not suggesting that you eject all of these things from your life today; quite the opposite. Maintain your status quo for now. Today it will be sufficient to become very honest about the role they play in your life. Does it make you uncomfortable to see some of these things on the page?
Good.
It should – and that’s totally okay.

Before today, you had secret, unspoken agreements with them to make compromises in your life. I promise you this – even if you decide to keep some of these things in your life, your relationship to these things will only get better as you become brutally honest about the little deals you’ve made with them.  No more secret deals in your soul.
Pull all those contracts up and put them on the table under a good lamp. Read them. Brush up on the terms of those deals. Aside from freak accidents, everything that’s in your life right now is something you’ve either signed up for, or allowed to stay.  Give yourself permission to feel sad, angry, awkward, or whatever. Just get comfortable with the discomfort of knowing these are the things you’ve allowed to stand between you, and the fullest, most glorious, powerful version of you. This will probably take some time.
Maybe a few days, months, years, even.
That’s the first step in moving into your full authenticity, your full majestic power.
You are a God in embryo.
Don’t think there’s anything righteous about playing small –
Your potential is massive beyond your comprehension and that’s the final truth of the matter.
I hope you’ll give yourself permission to start looking toward that light –
Your own light.
That’s all for today.

Come back soon and we’ll discuss more.

much love –

Paul Duane

 

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Q&A: Halloween, Straight guys and Dresses

Time for some Crossdresser Q&A:

David from Provo writes:

“I’m a straight white married mormon guy. I’m well respected at home, at work, and at church. Even though I’m straight, I’ve always wanted to express my feminine side but am afraid of what people will think, being a straight guy and all. Any advice?”

For closeted crossdressers like you, David, There is one time of year that you can dress up in all of girly things and maintain your manly dignity with some plausible deniability.

HALOWEEN, baby.

The possibilities are endless! You can be a slutty librarian, a slutty Laura Croft Tomb Raider, or a slutty flight attendant though – stay away from the slutty airline captain. That would be super gay.

If you are serious about staying off the gaydar, this is the No Homo Bro Golden Rule:

Dress like the person you are hoping to fornicate with. This rule applies to the gays and the straights equally.

Sure, some amateurs out there might accuse you of being gay when you show up to the office party dressed like a slutty (ier) version of Miley Cyrus… but I assure you:

Walk into a gay club in your Miley get-up, and all of the pro homos will leave you alone, for the most part. They get it.  Show up as a sexy Billy Ray Cyrus, however….  

When you go shopping, Don’t buy ALL of the size 13 high heels, though. You’ll look like Miami resident stocking up on a month’s worth of food to prepare for the landfall of Hurricane RuPaul.

Your make life hard for normal, full time crossdressers like me when you buy up all of the nylons and heels in large sizes that really only fit men. Take it easy bro.

Try shopping online. Aside from her birthday and Valentine’s Day, this is the one time of year your wife can catch you perusing Fredericks of Hollywood.com.

You can just tell your woman, “Hey baby, it’s for halloween. I’m going to the church halloween party as a slutty nun. “

Other times of year, you’ve gotta either go incognito (which I’m sure you are totally pro at, by now) or every now and then all of those hours of perusing the the plus size section of Victoria’s Secret and Lane Bryant.com  – you’ve gotta produce something for her.  I’m thinking, for every 10 hours you spend internet window shopping for yourself, you’d better click “buy” on something in her size, bro.

The year is long though, fellas, and should you find yourself shopping for a new skirt in the middle of summer, craft your alibi from the words of Gandhi:  “it’s for my wife”.

Have a question that you want me to weigh in on? Go here. Pour your heart out. 

Tune in to the ALT 101.9 Morning Show from 6-10 AM Mon-Fri. Great stuff.

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