From one open mind to another.

I see beauty in places I never expected, and it resonates with me. Like the buzzards on the old verm water tower. They feed on carrion; the rotting flesh of the dead. But my word, seeing them soar through the air breaks my heart with a cascade of beauty unmatched by ignorance. These birds, they cannot speak. They only have vocal folds that allow them to grunt or hiss, but never chirp or tweet or sing; only the majestic soaring brilliance of a bird that relishes it’s existence, gliding through the sky while the people below look upon it’s wretched pall, yet deep inside, that bird is more alive and in love with the essence of life than we are, those who seek to disdain it. They cannot sing; only grunt and hiss, yet soar in majesty on perfectly timed squalls of warm air thriving beneath their wings, completely free of their own desire. This is my unbelievably amazing life. I see everything like this. And sometimes the beauty is so great that I feel as though it is going to fill me up and overflow. My life, is being unbelievably thirsty and exponentially quenched all at once.

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Two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl

My dear friend of many years and I had a conversation last night. I speculate a lot about the state of the world but not often enough do I share the real live effects it has on real living people. This conversation highlights the impact of two individuals becoming grounded human beings as opposed to wasted byproducts of shamelessly subscribed value systems.

Me: It’s really quite difficult to explain, but I have always admired your determination in the face of internal brokenness, which is something I can heavily relate to, but have rarely succeeded at. let’s be honest. when we looked in each others eyes years ago we had no idea what the hell was happening. I still think about it to this day because it moved me. I was moved, and I had to fill the void that was displaced as a result. we were just two somethings wandering in a world of incongruity as far as we were concerned. now, years later, we still think similarly, but the things that agonized us than are just as inhibiting albeit we are more aware of these incongruities.

Her: I am not good at expressing my thoughts in words haha… and lol, my determination? ha. i will always be a failure because I cannot overcome my internal brokenness. but anyways, i can say that i do understand what you are trying to explain. you will always be a part of who i am today, irregardless of the pain that we may have inflicted (more me onto you)

Me: it doesn’t matter. im realizing now that the pure sensation of unadulterated optimism is fucking DEAD to me. dammit Shannon I was a young boy with living hopes and dreams and got all these ideas in my head of love and a functioning society and people will generally do the right thing and im PISSED. im livid. i am breathing smoke that the people i love most are dying inside under the illusion that they are living. but no, thats not the best part, the best part is I am, just by being alive, FEEDING the value system that deliberately oppresses people like me. but i’m fucking crazy. i would HAVE to be or else i would fit inside the context of the narrow cultural perspective i’ve been given. there are MILLIONS of pieces of information that can corroborate you in one way vs. another. this is the truth of information that economists do not want you to know. the power of observation and power of suggestion are so strong that no matter what the conglomerations and monopolies do, it will eventually oppress those who seek to thwart it. call me a fucking pessimist, but i do NOT subscribe to that value system, and to do so would be moral suicide given what I understand at this point in time

Her: you are probably talking to one of the biggest pessimists alive. i have only just begun to conceptualize how all of my dreams are merely a product of consumerism. i am no better than anyone else. all i do is want want want, and want things that are never going to make a damn bit of difference. I am happy right now thinking that maybe i can be just fine living in the middle, hell the low middle class. but people, family, friends are never going to let me do that. they will convince me to be another face in the crowd. another blind consumer wanting stupid things like calvin klein suits and nice cars. so essentially what i am trying to say is i am no better than the rest of the masses

Me: (name withheld), you’re making my heart race.. this is exactly what I deal with day to day. my family and peers would rather cast me to lunacy than understand that I have seen life a thousand different ways and still have been destroyed by the value system I shamelessly sought to embrace me. god even as i say this i could never even imagine saying these things in high school much less my years in college because i never knew that such things even existed.. and how CAN we realistically be “better” than anyone unless we had a “standard” by which to define ourselves as such? i wrote this years ago but it should help portray my point: “only those who are convinced they are on a predetermined path can be off course.”

Her: well, i dont think you are crazy, i just think your eyes are more open than the rest of us. i wish i could come to the realizations you have, but many of them i still cant admit to. anyhow, as always it was nice talking to you, i need to get to bed.

Me: i sincerely hope i can at some point share with you what i have learned in the past 23 years, but most of it is dark and narcotically ironic. have a wonderful night Shannon, we will speak again soon. Sweet dreams of beautiful things:)

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Humanity: Treating the Symptoms, Ignoring the Cause

I have to admit, I am conflicted. There are beautiful and incredible things happening all around us, all the time. Even so, it seems that many cannot perceive of this beauty, much less the extent of it. The source of my confliction, however, is that this is rarely out of negative intention. We live in a plastic world that we consume and is consuming us. We walk into department stores and everything we could possibly want is lined up and categorized to the point that we only recognize disorder in the absence of this perceived congruence and normality.

It utterly fascinates me how easily we can take things for granted. We go to our kitchens to make food from our refrigeration units and drink running water, a luxury the overwhelming majority of the world will never experience within their lifetime. There has been much speculation in history over exactly where this societal progression is leading us. To some it is the many facets of a post-industrial world run by technology that makes us superior. An ethnocentric point of view certainly, but nonetheless, founded in relatively unintentional ignorance.

Our symphonic band took a tour to western South Dakota. All the high schools had one thing in common: The kids appeared heavily sedated. It’s almost as though they spent the first 2 years of their lives being taught to walk and talk, and the next 16 being told to sit down and shut up. These kids looked paralyzed by the fabricated fear of societal implication, both positive and negative. At one of the high schools we played at, there was a classroom of special needs children in the back of the auditorium. We finished a piece, and one of the special needs children lost it, screaming and clapping with wild abandon. To my horror, I witnessed not only high school kids chuckling, but members of our college band as well. To me, the reaction of the special needs child is how anybody who has the opportunity to listen to wonderful music should behave. Instead, the auditoriums at every high school were filled with pursed lips and clenched assholes, terrified of reacting naturally, driven by passion. In that sense, it is clear that we are the ones with special needs.

I watched an interview with president of the Dover School Board Alan Bonsell, home to the famous federal court case Kitzmiller V. Dover Area School District. The case centered around the teaching of intelligent design versus evolution, an extremely sensitive issue in the community. George Bush appointed the judge to the case, most likely in the hope that intelligent design would be upheld. When the scientists presented the data on biology, the judge was shocked. He could not believe he had never heard the majority of scientific principals presented at the proceedings. After months of grueling testimony, a 139 page decision by judge Jones barred the teaching of intelligent design in public schools. In the interview, Bonsell was dumbfounded that such a christian society would allow their children to be indoctrinated in the principles of science. As far as I’m concerned, his indoctrination occurred well before the court case, causing him to sound incredibly ignorant during the interview. The school had received an anonymous donation of 60 textbooks that taught intelligent design. Bonsell had previously testified that he did not know where the money had come from, but actually played a part in laundering the money through local church donations and his own father cut the check for the textbooks. Bonsell was involved in a federal lawsuit for falsely testifying under oath, and was not up for re-election into the school board the following year. In fact, all 8 people on the school board were cleaned out and replaced. As if lying under oath (so help me god) isn’t bad enough, one of the biology teachers at the school began receiving nasty letters from the community, some of them containing serious threats on her life. For such an intensely christian society, it is appalling how absent “thou shalt not kill” became in the name of furthering their christian agenda. I have seen this time and time again. Some of the worst people I know are christian because many placate themselves as being good people with solid moral principals, then become animals under the visage of good intention. This is precisely what I mean by ignorance is rarely intentional, but also highlights how quickly it can escalate and the vastly destructive tendencies that may ensue.

I have seen this in my own community, and to my dismay, at a deeply horrific capacity. May 8th, 1990, 9 year old Becky O’Connell was reported missing. The next morning her body had been found in a secluded wooded area in Lincoln County. She had been raped and her throat had been slashed. This is among the most horrific things I can ever imagine happening to a human being. What truly shocked and appalled me, however, was the communities reaction to Donald Moeller’s execution on October 30, 2012, less than 5 months ago. I read hundreds of comments on a local news station’s Facebook page. I was utterly mortified by what I read. Things like having the family roam a field and hunt him down, or tie his body to a rope and his head with piano wire so it severs the head while his body still hangs, charging admission, and bring your own beer. Most comments were filled with relief that he was being executed, and many prayers thanking god for finally taking care of him. I had never in my life seen so many self-proclaimed “good” people act like such barbaric animals, to the point I seriously have to question just how different a person like Donald Moeller truly was. People called him a monster and a psycho, which albeit may be true, I have still never seen such a blatant absence of “thou shalt not kill” principles from a predominantly christian society.

The point of these examples is to highlight very clearly just how easily it is to be blatantly ignorant without the intention of doing so. The majority of these conflicts in morality, however, are much less black and white yet far more common. The other day, #TellAFemenistThankYou was trending on Twitter. I tweeted “#TellAFemenistThankYou for perpetuating differences between genders that is the root and cause of sexism.” and “#TellAFemenistThankYou for ignoring biology: there’s more difference within genders than between genders. We’re HUMAN. All else is secondary”. There is a gentleman that goes to this university who got upset upon seeing this and retweeted one of those tweets (I can’t be sure which one as his tweets are locked and for some reason he has me blocked on Twitter) and posted “my last RT #ignorance”. This is particularly interesting because I have never actually talked to this guy before. He is in a group of friends that are very cliquey and the majority of them are so introverted they’re about to turn inside out. I had found out about these tweets through a mutual friend, and as I’m North Korea style blocked on twitter (what is he tweeting, nuclear launch codes?) I confronted him on Facebook and told him to remove the posts. He became immediately defensive and passive aggressive and tried to blow it off as though it wasn’t a big deal. The point is, it really WASN’T a big deal. The fact that he had to hide under his twitter to make a statement about what I said, however, was pretty reasonably perceived by me as cowardice. He refused to listen to anything I said, and essentially started hurling defense insults at me. If he were to have confronted me, I would have been more than happy to express my views and hopefully come to an understanding together. It is also to my understanding that this gentleman is homosexual. I cannot say for sure, but to me it seemed pretty obvious that he naturally assumed I was attacking him and as a result of this found it necessary to act irrational and defensive. He has probably overcome much adversity in his lifetime for being misunderstood. Unfortunately, because he could not retain his humanity for a second with me but instead, became certain he was being attacked, I now have an inadvertent predisposition to dislike him because of EXACTLY who he is. Not because he is gay or misunderstood or introverted or whatever the hell he happens to be, but because he acted like a shitty human being under the assumption he was being attacked. This sounds dark, but to me, the first thing that came to mind was “just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you can’t act like a total faggot”. I realized this could be offensive to certain people, but it was the very fact that the terms “gay” and “faggot” are defined completely independent of context that could allow for such a distinction to be created in the first place. The point is, that if he would had acted like a human being rather than.. well.. whatever the hell that was.. There wouldn’t have been a problem to have.

These are large-scale events that very heavily outline the principles I’m discussing here. What I am more interested in, is how people become like this in the first place. What small-scale occurrences lead to these large-scale events? I have spent a considerable amount of time and dedication to observing tendencies within humanity that may lead to an answer as to what is the cause to the effect.

Recently, I have reached a conclusion. Context dependence is a huge issue in forming effective generalizations, so I set out to find something free from those obstructions. I soon began to notice that the one fundamental aspect of humanity free from this context dependence is indeed the absence of it. People are incredibly multidimensional in the context of one moment, much less many moments over the progression of time. I have discovered that it is the attempt to pinpoint exactly what we are at any specific moment that creates the majority of problems.  If we try to create solutions from within the problem, we are left with misguided observations.

Imagine the production of a car. At what point in the process of production does it cease to be a jumble of parts and become a car? Many would say the engine is the most essential component of a car, and thus it is not a car if it does not have a functioning engine. But if you took any 10 year old to a car factory and showed them a sedan that does not have its engine installed yet, they could still identify it as a car. The same principle arises when a car is taken a part. How many parts can you take away from a car before it ceases to be a car and instead becomes a jumble of parts? Let’s say the engine remains but the steering wheel is removed. This would leave us a fully functioning car incapable of steering, another vital function. Unless you are the guy at the plasma center in Sioux Falls using a monkey wrench clenched to the steering column in his minivan (true story), a vehicle in such a condition would be pretty useless to most individuals.

This is what I mean when I say humanity inherently attempts to create solutions from within problems. How many aspects of a human being can you truly quantify to a point where you contain everything that is who they are and leave nothing behind? How few aspects of a human being can you pinpoint before it becomes evident that who you are observing is precisely who they are and not someone else? We are conditioned by our plastic world to observe differences and similarities between things, and this certainly extends to people as well. On a surface level, we do this all the time. We make social decisions based on the tendencies observed between people. This is why we tend to have friends with similar interests. They say opposites attract, but any psychologist or sociologist would tell you this is often not the case. Birds of feather flock together seems to be more of the case. But at what point does a person cease to become who they were before, and become what they have turned into? Furthermore, how do these baseless distinctions we create within ourselves and society as a whole impact humanity in inadvertently negative ways?

Often, these principles of similarity and division in society create congruence or the lack thereof in a relatively simple manner. We tend to appreciate those with similar personalities or interests, and negate or simply don’t observe those that embody contrary characteristics. The most common way in which we negate those who are contrary to our interests is through bullying. We do not understand or appreciate what a person or particular social group express, and thus creates undue tension. I firmly believe that the majority of the time, this tension is resolved by indifference. Although someone may embody contrary characteristics, most people simply do not react. The concept of “see no evil, hear no evil” is (ironically) among the strongest reasons that dozens more children are not bullied in social situations, and instead, become isolated and neglected. In other situations, the tension is so great that it actively manifests itself, and negativity arises. The cold hard truth, is that we are so far from understanding who we are internally, that we shamelessly attribute significance to others in a grand attempt to thwart the confusion in misunderstanding our own selves.

The concept of bullying is fundamentally flawed precisely for this reason. We do not understand who are and what we are, much less how we are changing constantly from what we’ve been to exactly what we are becoming.  Thus, the distinction between what is and is not bullying is a primarily internal gesture and definitions are far from exclusive. In fact, I believe that by simply announcing the prevalence of the social phenomena that is “bullying”, we are drastically increasing instances of bullying. The tirade against bullying has been around for a while, but only in recent years have I witnessed such a KONY 2012 reaction to a social phenomenon that has existed for centuries, and in nature, ever since organized life-forms were able to compete for resources. Day after day I speak with people who are firmly against bullying and will heartily decry bullying and argue that they would stop bullying if they were to see it. This seems strange to me, and what I mean by this is that it actually scares the living shit out of me, and here’s why: every single self-proclaimed anti-bullying activist I have ever encountered, has taken part in subsequent bullying, yet are somehow able justify their actions under the visage of their anti-bullying principles. According to this regard, none of use can ever be free from bullying, internally or externally. As long as we live in a society that is primarily operated on boundaries and definitions, we will only find ways to recognize the symptoms of a dysfunctional thinking mechanism deeply ingrained in society at large, while never paying due special care to the cause of these inherently dysfunctional thinking processes.

This concept became evident to me when I was riding my bicycle through the bike trails in Sioux Falls one summer day when I was 13 or so. I was all about experiencing life at this time in my life. I believed in god dutifully and falling in love was inevitable and government was always in my best interest and right and wrong were infallible principles of life. Essentially, life was good. I had ridden my bike all the way to the north side of town and back. I was less than a mile from my house where I witnessed something as confusing as it was incredible. The last 200 foot stretch of trail before my neighborhood was covered by thousands of caterpillars, hardly a foot between each, and moving slowly across the trail. I was awestruck by such beauty, then very quickly realized I had to drive through at least a 100 of them or so in order to reach the end of the trail. I debated going around on the grass, but it was full of puddles from the rain we had received the night before. I became extremely nervous as I realized what had to be done. I closed my eyes, said a quick prayer to the lord our savior in heaven, then proceeded to massacre several dozen caterpillars, squished and forlorn, never to become butterflies.

We very seldom like to entertain the idea that we inadvertently cause harm to ourselves and those we care about (much less those we don’t like or are plainly unaware of), but humans are guardedly fickle. We tend to operate on the powers of observation and suggestion much more frequently than coherent logic and critical thinking. For the sake of argument, critical thinking can only extend so far as well. Human expression is much more complex than our ability to deduce a situation and attribute significance to it. I did this very easily with the caterpillars: I said a thoughtful prayer to god, then proceeded to literally break the shit out of a commandment. It was easy to justify this because of the circumstances involved, and that is precisely why there is more bullying today than there ever has, and why it will always exist if we continue to entertain the idea that we can  treat the symptoms by continuing to ignore the cause.

The same is empirically evident in cases of sexual assault, mental illness, and most forms of perceived inequality. The only way to overcome inequality is to cease entertaining it as a valid excuse for dividing our intentions. We are human beings. Not males vs. females. Our knowledge is infinite, not smart vs. retarded. We are capable of infinite interconnectedness, not accepted into society vs. bullied. The cold truth, is that there is no such thing as right and wrong, except from within the context in which we choose to define it. I say tear down these walls we have built for ourselves and society and instead thrive together regardless and in spite of these inadvertent tendencies that manifest themselves in human nature. We are far more incredible than our ability to ceaselessly define the concepts of “right” and “wrong” then proceed to continuously bang our heads against the walls of definition we build for ourselves and those around us to casually slip into. There is literally no other reason for inequality to exist other than our ability to, on the power of observation and suggestion alone, attribute inadvertent significance to ourselves and those around us in ways that very easily cause inadvertently negative implications to deeply manifest themselves within society. We are infinitely free and freely infinite, and as a race, we can only stay stationary as long as our ability to tear down the boundaries that limit our ability to extend beyond is impeded by the lack of knowledge that we are infinitely capable of doing so.

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Marriott Memories

I think I’m gonna kiss you
In the pouring snow
I think the roads are closed
And there’s no place to go
It’s alright, I am fine
‘Cause you’re here by my side
What a feelin’
I’m believin’ in you
What am I going to do?

Well I think I’m gonna kiss you
In the pouring snow
And then we’ll go inside
Where we can take it slow
And I’m fine, I’m alright
‘Cause you’re here by my side
Am I dreaming?
You’re amazing to me
I know just what to do

I think I’m gonna miss you
When you have to go
Can I get just one more kiss
Before I overflow?
I’ll be fine, but I’m dying
To see you again
You’re the reason
For everything I do
I owe my life to you

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What I would say if you could hear

I still don’t understand what happened to me. I wasn’t expecting you to crash into me like you did. I still don’t know how you changed me, but I am finally beginning to get used to finding more questions than answers. The look in your eyes that night, filled to the brim and overflowing with wonder and tenderness, slashes through me like a ferocious wind cascading through a rickety screen door clanging on its frame in the depth of night. My greatest blunder was trying to understand, knowing full well that wherever exactly we were was a place far beyond words.

I waited for two weeks after things fell apart, because I was sure you would get the wrong idea if I didn’t. I couldn’t process what happened, and I wanted to be sure I could explain myself when the time came. Little did I know that time would never come. That I would mess it all up and fumble my explanation, sowing seeds for further resentment before I even uttered a word.

Every day for a week I swore I would finally find the courage to tell you how I truly felt. It had been weeks by this point and all I could think was, “leave that poor girl alone. By now, she has probably reasonably convinced herself of my insanity and unworthiness. I mean, who am I to come in and stir up this girls shit just to drown her in it.” This was far from my intention, and I cannot find it anywhere within me to suppress the regret of never telling you what you stood for to me.

I loved you. And I think I still do. I don’t know how much of this was genuinely you and how much of this was what you represented to me, all I know for certain is that you touched my life in a very deep and meaningful way that somehow changed me. It changed the shape I fit into every day. It is jagged and rough around the edges but somehow I find a way to fit. Often enough, I have to stretch myself to discomfort in order to do so; like a pair of sneakers you love but aren’t quite worn in enough to be comfortable. But if I were being completely honest, I still couldn’t tell you what any of that means. I loved you. Pure and simple, I loved you, and part of me always will. I will always remember when I felt my heart perilously slip into deep sweeping swells of something somehow somewhere softly swooning for you.

“I bear no grudge, although my heart is breaking.
Love lost forever, I bear no grudge.
I truly saw you in my dreams,
And saw the night in the room of your heart.
Although you shine on in diamond splendor,
No beam of me falls into the night that is you.”
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please by taltos

remember me
I'll be gone
		only a memory
remember me
	hate to fade away
a		misprint
	  in that
  of your life
remember me

remember you
	how could I forget
you meant so much
		so soon

remember me
   you shook the tree
and leaves fell down
a blossom for you
from me
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missing you by demeter

Miles between us –
I sit here waking
While you sleep,
I hold you in my mind
Because my armcannot.

Nothing of you
But memory.
Terrified that you will forget.
dream of kisses
My lips cannot feel

I look at the sea,
The great division,
Too wide to bridge with more than words.
And so, I wait for words.
It’s not enough.

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