Mormon Church: I understand why you want to keep the youth “worthiness interviews”

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Mormon Church: I understand why you want to keep the youth “worthiness interviews”

The traditional practice of “worthiness interviews” between youth and adults leaders has caused a lot of stress, on both sides. I understand why.

[For my non-Mormon readers, a bit of background: Mormons have a strict code of sexual behavior for all ages: no sexual activities outside of marriage. Period. That includes masturbation and anything like unto it… and as every former teenager knows, this is where the spotlight turns to the kids. It is a Mormon tradition to have regularly occurring interviews between the congregation leader (the Bishop), and it’s members. They often ask specific questions about sexual behavior. Failure to comply brings very heavy social and religious consequences. For a Mormon, this stuff is a BIG DEAL.]

Let’s start with the premise that it’s a good idea to mentor kids as they mature sexually. Parents should be the first and foremost resource in mentoring kids, through word, deed, and loving dialogue. Obviously, this is an ideal scenario that doesn’t always happen.

It does take a village to raise a kid. We are tribal animals, and it really is good for kids to have positive mentorship relationships with adults in their community. I most definitely benefited from many adults in my life outside of my good parents. It has been argued that it’s a psychologically healthy thing for Church leaders to talk about sex with kids. Proponents claim that kids who have significant adult mentors who are religiously literate fare better as adults.

In secular society, we’ve become honest about the oft-failure of parents to take care of the basics, and have developed backup plans. Head Start, school breakfast programs, and… God forbid… television – all have become surrogates, safety nets, to fill in the gaps that parents often miss. The above argument for Church leaders stepping in to teach kids about sexual ethics reminds me of the increasing reliance on The State to step up where parents stepped out.

Moms, Dads, We are the first line of defense, the first line of resource, for the kids. Let’s handle the really sensitive stuff in the walls of our own homes so that the bishops, scout leaders, teachers and neighbors don’t need to pick up so much slack, but can perform their role as extra adult role models.

That being said – this interview practice is not sustainable. It’s a ticking time bomb. Mormon Church, you are determined to hold your ground and I understand why. Let’s cut right to the chase:

If you stop asking kids about their sexual behavior, ie, conducting “worthiness interviews”, this will eventually spread to the adults too.

“Reconsiderations” by Paul Duane

No more interviews about sexual behavior = No more enforceable policies about sexual behavior. This will cause a doctrinal and cultural landslide. It will echo into the walls of the Temple, because a major part of Temple worship includes entering into a covenant to maintain “sexual purity”. Suddenly, a person’s sexual behavior will be between the individual, their partner, and God – and that’s it.

For me, being a Mormon means believing in the essence of what Joseph Smith claimed: that if the individual desires to commune with The Divine, it will be granted, in private. No intermediaries are necessary. We believe in a God that is conscious of, and attendant to, every individual seeker of truth.

Eliminating “worthiness interviews” might just force The Church into a strictly supportive role, rather than an investigative role. It would force the Church to trust each individual to pursue virtue on their own terms…

…just like every prophet of old has done.

 

In love and freedom –

Brother Paul Duane

 

 

Duane Rides, Part 1

I just finished reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. Ok, in all fairness, I listened to it on Audible, and I loved it. It’s a story about a father and son going on a cross country motorcycle trip. You can get a free 30 day trial of Audible and a free book by clicking this banner. Enjoy!

 

If you are reading this, you probably have already been reading along with the chapters I’ve been releasing.

It’s for a book. I’m not sure what it will be called yet.

This book is about my motorcycle journey:  Both the path leading to learning to ride, and the adventures I’ll be having on that bike as I take the podcast on the road.  I put out the 6th chapter today, and decided to do a spoken word version off the first 6 chapters together. That’s wha today’s episode is. I’ve never done anything like this, so let me know if you like it.

  1. The Muse, The Rum, and The Motorcycle
  2. Black Holes and Hatred
  3. Breaking The News to Mom
  4. One Way Or The Other, Moms Know Things
  5. Rifles, Roller Skates, and Recovery
  6. No Fear, No Guile, No Regrets

 

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

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2. black holes and hatred

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

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Here’s what you need to know right now:

I grew up with a disabled father. I’ll explain more about 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.

This business of helping my dad interface with the public was a surface level concern. things got much darker.

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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5. Rifles, Roller skates, and Recovery

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

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You know me as “Paul Duane”

Truth is, Duane, is not my last name… it’s my middle name. My Father’s first name. There are a number of reasons I’ve chosen to go by my first and middle name…  Among them, is the pure badassery that is my Dad…

Duane Huber Jensen.

I want you to meet my Dad.

I’ve got to be honest with you though – I didn’t always feel this way. There were times in my life when having you meet my Dad was really challenging.

Every teenager thinks their parents are dumb.

My situation was a bit different: my Dad actually… was… dumb:

This is the story of my dumb dad.

His brother, Al, always said, “Duane had the world by the tail.”

Every girl in school swooned over him. Apparently, roller skating was hot back in the 50’s. Look at how effortlessly he holds her up.

He was a brown belt in karate.

My dad took his rifle to school.

Yeah. Read that again.

He was the captain of the ROTC rifle team and one of the top marksmen in the state. It’s hard to believe the that this was not only okay at some point, but celebrated. How far we have slid. I digress. This is not meant to be a treatise on gun laws and schools, but it’s worth noting, this is how it used to be, back when America was truly great.

He enlisted in the Army and went to basic training, narrowly missing being activated during the Korean War.

He served an LDS Mission in England for two years. To this day, we still have the 10 speed bike he rode around in England (he disassembled it and shipped it home)

Upon his return home, he had a university scholarship in electronics waiting for him. My Dad was an all American young man. Not just a bad ass by even today’s standards, but a kind and happy guy who made friends everywhere he went.  In the words of his brother Albert, “Duane had the world by the tail.”

“Ok, great, your dad was basically Wally Cleaver, a handsome strapping young man that had everything going for him. What does that have to do with motorcycles or anything else? What does this have to do with me? TELL ME ABOUT ME. MAKE THIS ABOUT ME I’M GETTING BORED.”

Okay, dear reader, I will. Stick with me for a moment.

He returned home from his mission to a lovely girl that he had been dating for a long time whom he planned to marry. He started working at the Bear Lake Marina in northern Utah.  This required him to commute through the often treacherous Logan Canyon every day. He bought a Honda CB450 motorcycle to make the commute on. He had to order a helmet in. In his typical bravado, he didn’t wait for the helmet to arrive before he started making the daily trek on his CB450.

On June 15 1965, he was coming over the summit of Logan Canyon from Bear Lake, and something went very wrong. The sheriff’s investigation was inconclusive – the two theories are that he failed to negotiate a turn and slammed into the mountain side, or that someone hit him from behind and took off. The rear fender on his bike was dented in at the height of a car fender, lending credence to the hit and run theory.  One way or the other –

Someone found him nearly dead in a ditch.

Authorities were called, he was hauled off in an ambulance (there was no such thing as life flight back then). The nearest hospital that was sufficiently equipped to handle the severity of his injuries was two hours away in Ogden.  Upon arrival, my grandmother and grandfather were told that he would probably not make it through the night.

He made it.

The doctors told his parents that he would probably not make it another 24 hours.

He made it.

The doctors told them if he made it through the next 48 hours, he would live the rest off his days in a coma.

He made it.

The doctors told them if he made it through the next 72 hours, the most they could ever hope for is that the would be a vegetable in a wheel chair.

He made it.

My Dad’s injuries were so severe, the doctors kept setting very low expectations.

He kept making it.

He was in a coma for a few months. When he emerged, he was essentially completely paralyzed.  He emerged into the vegetable state that was predicted.  A whole book could be written about what happens from here, but for the purpose of this story, I’ll summarize it:

One near death experience, one miraculous faith healing experience, countless prayers, untold hours of care by hospital staff, doctors, family, and one godsend of a physical therapist and a few years later – he learned how to do everything again. He had to learn how to walk, how to eat, how write, and even how to think, all over again. He emerged from those years of rehabilitation with only one remaining problem:

His tongue was paralyzed.

For all intents and purposes, he couldn’t speak.

He could not control his saliva, either.

He drooled constantly and could not form words very well.

His former athletic prowess was gone, too. Being able to walk and ride a bicycle was the pinnacle of his physical abilities from that point on.

And though she tried,  his fiancé could not abide this new version of Duane.

She left him.

This magnificent young man had been completely humbled. He lost everything but life itself.

This was all taking place in the late 60’s; I was born in 1976. During the ensuing time, my Dad got to work reinventing himself with the cards he had been given. He met a woman named Ann, and they got married. He got trained as a draftsman and took a job working in a cabinet shop. The details were never clear as we never talked about it, but after 5 years of marriage they divorced, setting the stage for him to meet my mother. They met, dated briefly and got married. His doctors set very low expectations about one last thing – and again,

He made it.

Specifically: Me. 

Nice hair, Mom.

What’s the point of all this?

My hope is to give you a glimpse into why the word “motorcycle” was such a forbidden word in our family.

It wasn’t at his behest though…

Just my mom.

And his mom.

And his siblings.

And anyone else who was remotely close to him through the process.

For all of his congeniality, my Dad was a stubborn sonofabitch. Once he decided he wanted something, nothing would deter him, much to my Mother’s chagrin, and if we are being honest, much to the chagrin of the Grim Reaper. My Dad had an indomitable will.

One of my early childhood memories is of my Dad and a couple of his friends riding their 10 speed bikes (yes, the one he brought home from England) from Logan to Bear Lake, all the way through Logan Canyon. For those of you familiar with the geography, you know that the only people you see doing this are extremely committed cyclists who are training for the Tour de Something….

…and Duane.

Aside from the pure physicality of this bat-shit-crazy, punishing ride, it is a symbolic one.

It’s the place where he lost everything.

I’m not sure if it didn’t phase him, or if my Dad has the most bad ass poker face and penchant for beating odds, but here’s a picture of him and his friend Lynn on one of those rides. (He did it a few different times).

Nevermind that he essentially lost his life on two wheels in this canyon. He’s now going to go wag his dick in the face of his past, in the face of death, and in the face of his disability:

My Dad was not an athlete anymore. He was basically a functional cripple – riding his bike through Logan Canyon.

On many occasions, my Dad did things that just weren’t supposed to be possible: a heritage I hold sacred.

When I use his name as part of mine, I pay homage to his legacy.

Every time you say my name, “Paul DUANE”, there is a part of me that bows in reverence to this magnificent giant of a dumb man.

****

Next: No Fear, No Guile, No Regrets

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4. One way or the other, Moms know things

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

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“I know. Someone already told me. They asked me not to tell you who it was.”

There is a very short list of people who this could be, and within seconds, I’ve narrowed it down with 99% confidence.  I’m pretty certain it’s my Aunt Maureen – she means well. If only I could have had some knowledge that my Mom already knew. This would have saved me from all of that stress.  I’m both frustrated and relieved.

I’m glad that the memory I’ll always have of this day is of her wry and conflicted smile that said, “How did I ever give birth to you – oh that’s right, you are 50% your Dad and that explains everything”.

I thought it would be horror and tears. I much prefer this version of reality.

For the next hour, I told her about how it all came to be. I told her about the Motorcycle Safety Foundation rider’s education course I took. I told her about my experienced rider friends who have been coaching me.  I told her about hours and hours of practice in empty parking lots.  I told her about all of the safety skills I’ve been learning in a nearly frantic effort to calm her nerves. I showed her all of the nice, thick leather riding gear I was wearing: leather boots, chaps, quality leather coat, leather gloves, and helmet, of course. 

We talked about all of the people we know who have whole careers of riding safely on two wheels.  She wasn’t mad, and honestly, she didn’t seem terribly surprised.  Definitely nervous, though. 

“I just lost your Dad… I don’t know if I can take another loss…”

(note: My Dad passed away last year of causes incident to his age and condition, which I’ll explain to you in the next chapter. While his death has made a huge impact on my life, the focus of this story is his life.)

To know who, and why, I am, you have to know my father: 

The original Duane. 

****

Next up: My Dumb Dad: Rifles, Rollerskates and Recovery

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3. breaking the news to Mom

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

* * * * * * * * * * * *

I’ve done a lot of nerve-racking things in my life – 

Stand up comedy, 

Going out in public in pantyhose and high heels, 

Riding my bike naked through the streets of Portland, 

Putting the spirit of F*@K YOU PAUL DUANE into action.

A few things at Burning Man that shall remain at Burning Man…

What I’ve now done tops them all. 

I’ve found a new love, and the time has come to come clean with the most important woman in my life:

My mother. 

She’ll worry about me so much, she’ll be confused, she’ll lose sleep over this – 

She deserves to hear it straight from me, eye to eye. 

I’ve gone over this decision so many times…not only this new love, but the conversation I’m about to have with her. 

All of it is right. 

But God, I hate to break her heart.

I know how deeply she hoped I’d never do this. 

Hell, for most of my life, I didn’t know that I had this latent desire inside of me. 

I’ve played with the idea before, but never dared go further…

Something happened last year. 

An opportunity showed up. 

A friend extended an invitation.

I said yes. 

A switch flipped inside of me. 

I was terrified at first – it took some getting used to… I had to confront some of the most basic stories I had about myself and my relationship to the world – 

With the help of a couple of very supportive friends,  I did it, and I’ve never been happier. 

Something came alive inside of me that I did not know existed before, and I’m not going back.  I cannot unsee this new bliss. This will be a huge part of my life moving forward. 

I love everything about it…

the sounds… the smells… how it feels between my legs… even the black leather outfits. 

It makes me feel more alive than anything I’ve ever experienced. 

I

Had

No

Idea. 

I have to tell her. 

It’s not just her that would be shook up by what I’m about to drop on her –

My grandparents, too. They would be devastated. This goes against the very fiber of our family culture. 

The fact that they have not been haunting me and trying to persuade my course differently is a solid case for there not being an afterlife.  

In fact, I’m left with three possible conclusions:

  1. There is no afterlife
  2. There is an afterlife and they are too busy doing cool departed spirit stuff to know or care about what’s going on in my life
  3. There is an afterlife, they know about it, and they understand how important this really is. 

I spent an hour sitting in the parking lot of a nearby gas station, trying to sooth my nerves, preparing my speech. Hell, I even talked with an ex girlfriend  on the phone for 45 minutes about it.  

“Just do it. She’s going to be okay…. Your sweet mom.”

Painfully aware of all of the other ways I’ve disappointed my mom over the years, cringing at the morbid cherry I’m about to place atop it all, I head toward her house. 

This is my green mile. 

She’s not going to yell at me. She won’t lecture. 

She might not even cry in front of me…

…but I know that she’ll never sleep well again for the rest of her days. 

My heart breaks – 

But I must tell her the truth. 

I slowly and strangely ceremoniously pull into the driveway, 

I turn off the engine,

I wonder if she heard me arrive…

I walk in the house, and there she stands.

In a fraction of a second, I can tell she already knows. 

“Hi mom.”

“Hi….. “ she said, that syllable a sponge saturated with oceans of motherly worry.

“Mom…

I got a motorcycle.”

*****

Next up: I know

*****

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1. 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: Black Holes and Hatred

*****

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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

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!

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.