black holes and hatred

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black holes and hatred

*** Did you arrive in the middle of the story? Start at the beginning ***

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Here’s what you need to know right now:

I grew up with a disabled father. I’ll explain more about how it in an upcoming chapter – for now, it’s enough to say that I didn’t have a “normal” Dad growing up.

My Dad’s condition created it’s own gravity in our family. His disability limited the kinds of jobs he could take, necessitating my mother working, and placing us in that “we have the essentials but nothing more, and barely” socioeconomic status.  My Dad’s situation often put me in the position of middle man / explainer / translator between him and Joe Q. Public.

Every public outing with my Dad created a huge moral dilemma:

Do I try to explain to this person what’s going on with my Dad?

Do I just try to keep him quiet and rush through this interaction as fast as possible so no explanation is necessary?

I’m kind of embarrassed. Am I a bad son?

He can’t help it. He’s doing the best he can. It’s still weird and hard.

How is HE feeling right now? (For some reason this consideration was so heavy that I could hardly entertain it in real time and usually brushed it aside).

The back and forth debates over how to be in public with my Dad were soul rending.

Even something as mundane as ordering a burger was surprisingly challenging – and not just because it was outright hard to do, but because of the layers of inner conflict and questions that I’d have to wrestle with during and after.

In private – I used to fantasize about hunting down the person who I thought was responsible for my Dad’s disability and killing them. Slowly. I would cry in fits of rage and curse them to God. Countless times. Sometimes I didn’t fantasize about killing them, I dreamt of badly maiming them to the point of permanent disability. I felt the they robbed me and my family of a “normal” life and I was unspeakably furious about it.

And then, there’s my mother… being married is a challenge enough, even under “normal” conditions. I can only imagine the exquisite, unspoken and multiplied frustrations my mother must have endured. I know about some of them, and they are more than I can share right now without collapsing into tears in this coffee shop where I’m writing. Struggles are like cockroaches – for every one that you see, there are two dozen that will forever remain hidden.  I am confident that such is the case with my mother – a hundred mysteries that will probably never leave her heart.

My Dad was a very good man – as good as they come. That being said,  his disability was a black hole: full of unknowns, possessed of it’s own tremendous gravity field, and emanating vast radiation that, although unseen, most certainly affected everything within it’s reach.

 

Next: Breaking The News To Mom

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the muse, the rum, and the motorcycle

Hi. 

I’ve been away from writing for a while.

The return is awkward, like two estranged family members reconvening after far too long. 

Thank god for alcohol to ease such reunions. 

Speaking of which, I’d like to propose a toast. 

In a past and creatively fruitful chapter of my life, rum was my drink of choice.  

In the spirit of opening the next phase of fortuitous creation, 

My cup is filled with that old familiar spirit, mixed into a classic cola cocktail- 

To creation, to new adventures, to channeling the sacred and the profane into simple words that all can understand: 

Cheers! 

Tonight’s elixir is made with a fine spiced rum bearing the image of Admiral So-and-So, who closely resembles a well known national brand of pirate captain themed rum – It seems to be his dorky younger brother. 

One thing is for sure: they both love big ships, and rum. 

Brothers, sisters, and everyone in between- 

I have a tale to tell, and I’ve committed myself to the sharing of it. 

Of all the story worthy adventures I’ve had, this is by far the most important one, because it’s about the core of who I am and the humans that raised me, and where I’m going. 

This story is about the essence of my family culture — but don’t worry. I know you really don’t care about an exhaustive family history, so I’m going to keep that shit very brief — barely enough to set the stage. 

How’s your drink doing, anyway? I’m pouring another. 

This generic coke really has a way of opening up the vanilla notes in this Admiral… who? Admiral Dumbass Spiced Rum. 

And those caramel notes, are they from the cane molasses that I wish this was distilled from, or the added caramel flavoring that was unceremoniously squirted into this sugar mash hooch one step before bottling? 

I have my suspicions, and for now, I’d like to leave them at that. 

Cheers!

This story matters so much to me, that I’ve been intimidated to begin the telling of it. I’ve learned that when fear really takes hold of me, it secretes a venom that anesthetizes me and makes it feel more like indifference. I’m starting to learn that indifference is often my passion numbed out for some misguided notion of safety. 

I’ve put this storytelling off for long enough. 

Speaking of spirits, (how’s your glass, by the way)? Thank God for the muse. 

Muses come in many forms. 

I’ve recently found myself with an interesting pen pal on the other side of the country. For whatever reason, we haven’t exchanged numbers. We aren’t connected on Facebook. Our small talk simply outgrew the tiny window of Instagram messenger and expanded into email. She’s an adept wordsmith herself, which awakened my penchant for serving up the word.  A few emails later, and here we are. 

I’m all inspired to write. 

Let’s top of our glasses, shall we?

This Admiral Dumbass Spiced Rum and cola makes not only a fine aperitif (that’s a medium sized dumb word that just means, “I’m getting shit faced for desert, eat your ice cream, kids”). This spirit makes a fine muse, too.  Admiral, I think we’ll be sailing the seas of synonyms all summer long. 

I’m ready for some word play, story living and truth telling. 

What proceeds from here is a tale about transmuting fear into love. 

It’s a story about noisy Harleys and fear and God…

And radio

And being a kid

And destiny

I’ve embarked on a personal rite of passage that has taught me a new way to dance with the devil. She can be a magnificent partner.

Pro tip: 

If that samba with Satan is going to go smoothly,  

You must take the lead. 

More on that later. 

Cheers to Admiral Dumbass and his grog, 

Cheers to pen pals, 

Cheers to motorcycles, 

Cheers to the road,  and cheers to the muse!

*****

Next up: Breaking The News To Mom

*****

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miracles when it feels mundane

Its 5am, I lay awake in bed, for the muse has arrived. I hope I’ll be able to communicate this delicate idea. Let me know if you can relate:

I’ve always had this notion that to do awesome work, I had to also feel awesome. What that’s led me to is a pursuit of “feelings”, which can quickly turn into addiction, like a caterpillar into a moth. Ask any junkie. TV, crack, or cookies, it’s all the same. They are feeling chasers, regardless of the drug of choice.

During my radio years, for instance:

Live radio is unforgiving. The clock, nor the audience, care how your day has gone. At 14:06, the second the pre roll commercials are done, it’s on, ready or not. There were days I’d prepare well, show up early and have a good solid show. Sometimes I’d think I had an awesome show prepared and it would fall flat. While that was confusing and frustrating, even legendary teams lose on their home field sometimes. Though these losses were mystifying, an even deeper mystery lurks:

There were days when I felt completely uninspired. Tired. Empty. Nothing “to say”. I wasn’t physically ill and couldn’t justify calling in sick. I would go through the motions of packing up my laptop, walking out the door, and going to the studio. A mild, low level terror would begin to set in as the clock ticked into the upper reaches of the 13:00 hour.

Sure, I had a show plan, I did the work, but I just wasn’t “feeling it”. Looking over my show notes and the impending 120 minutes, I wonder if sherpas ever feel this way when looking at the nearly impossible peak as they begin their 578th ascent. I wonder if anyone is ever exempt from that deflating feeling of “Oh shit. This is going to be really, really hard, why do I do this to myself?”

(This, by the way, is but one of the reasons I adore the band RUSH). Want to see what eternal youth looks like? Go see these men in their 60’s pushing themselves as hard as they can, doing 3 hour long shows, of ever increasing intensity at an age when most dudes are happy to just cash checks and play golf).

I digress.

So many times on these “oh shit” days, A caller, a current event, an idea in my head would combine in the cauldron of the present moment to yield a moment of pure brilliance. I would walk out of the studio in complete awe at the unsuspected unfolding of inspiration.

These moments of unsuspected brilliance are not limited to the radio days. It’s happened in the Photo studio, in writing, and I once met a great love in similar circumstances. I didn’t feel like being there but showed up anyway, magic ensued.

This has me thinking a lot about feelings: of preparedness, of interest, of ability. Have you ever had the experience of doing your finest work on a day when you initially were sorely tempted to shirk?

I think it’s sensible to expect that under stress we rise to the level of our worst preparation. Good practice and preparation cannot be undervalued.

When I peel back the layers of my own experience, I realize that a certain level of my own feelings are just the weather of my own human condition. Rain or shine, they do not change the facts of that which is being built on the ground. The work – the practice, the preparation, always adds up. It creates something inside you that can be pretty easy to overlook.

What’s the point of this all? I want you to know that the little things you do every day to build yourself – the journaling. The meditation. The exercise. The rehearsals – they all matter, even if they feel mundane. ESPECIALLY when they feel mundane –

Because one day, you will find yourself in a place you don’t necessarily want to be in. You won’t feel your “best” but you’ll be there anyway. You will unceremoniously do the thing. You will go home, and soon realize that you just participated in a life changing moment. You will realize the value of showing up regardless of the weather of your silly little soul, and life will never be the same after that.

Ultimately, you will come to understand that the basic act of showing up is a self fulfilling prophecy of your (sometimes hidden) knowledge that you are worthy of that which you desire.

Much love-
Paul Duane

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Hefner, Creativity, and the Purpose of Life

One hot summer day in the desert, my friend Adam and I happened upon a camp offering refreshments of the palate and the eyes: delicious, ice cold cocktails, tea, and an assortment of vintage Playboys ranging from the late 70’s through early 2000’s, piled high on a coffee table between two dusty sofas. Oh, Burning Man… how I love you – a place where everything is possible and no idea is too silly to bring forth.
 
I’d like to muse over the act of creation for a moment:
 
Consider a jazz musician who will take the stage later tonight and thrill the audience with flashes of blazing improvisation – music that is spontaneously created on the fly – one of the most spectacilar feats of human creativity. That same musician is practicing scales, with a metronome, right now, in a highly controlled way. Working in an environment of temporary restraint has a way of preparing for blast off later.
 
I believe that we are higher dimensional beings having a temporarily downgraded three dimensional experience, for the purpose of learning. I believe that the purpose of life is to refine our ability to take a non-material idea, and bring it into the world of “material” three dimensions.
 
That’s it.
 
Creativity.
 
I don’t care what it is you create… whether it’s an accounting firm, or a sculpture, or a baby human, or some weird poems – everthing we do as humans is an act of creation.
 
When you endeavor to move something from the realm of idea into the physical plane, all manner of challenges must be overcome – several varieties of fear, being chief among them. Overcoming fear is the most fundamental goal of the human experience. Being creative is the vehicle for that.
 
Occasionally we encounter humans who have GRAND visions of something that never existed before, and they proceed to bring it from the realm of idea, into the world of “reality”. These creators know things about the human condition and their relationship to the abundant Universe that, statistically speaking, few other humans know.
 
Hugh Hefner passed away yesterday. Regardless of what you think of the merrits of his work – one must concede – this man was a master creator, conjuring an entirely new reality in his mind and bringing to fruition. How many people do that?
 
If I were at your funeral, Mr. Hefner, I would simply stand with ovation and clap slow claps of awe and admiration.
 
Well done, sir!
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I DO

He said it like a man who had worked hard all day in the heat and was being offered a tall glass of perfectly chilled ice water.

She said it like a woman who knew exactly what she wanted and knew she deserved to have it.

“I do”

Over the course of my career, I’ve heard countless couples say the words, but I’ve never heard the two syllables said with more joyful certainty, solidarity and knowing, than Rachel and Jonny.

Beethoven once said,

“Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.”

As an artist, there comes a point where unconditional dedication to the instrument opens up a world of secrets that only the wholly committed are permitted to enter. There are days when your fingers are sore, but you practice anyway. There are days when you feel like you are a worse player than you were last week and you wonder how you could suck so much… you practice anyway. There are days when practicing is easy and playful – you practice anyway, because you know it’s part of something vastly bigger than your disposition today and are honored to be part of it. In forcing your way into the secrets of your art, you learn things about yourself that you could never know otherwise. It becomes a mirror that creates a singularly unique vantage point to see yourself, your relationship to the world, and ultimately, The Divine.

As it goes in the practice hall, so it goes in marriage. We are all souls at various stages of development in the cosmic scheme of things. Nothing is for everyone, not even marriage. For some, however – I believe that the lifelong commitment of marriage can raise men – and women – to the Divine.

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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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