Monday, May 28, 2007

Lisa Left Eye Lopes

I don't know why I was thinking about the late Lisa"Left Eye" Lopes last night. It was so strange that I googled her today, discovered that yesterday was her birthday. She was a member of that old musical group TLC, the female trio that declared bankruptcy at the height of their popularity. Some years ago Lisa died in a car crash in Honduras. She’d have been 36 yesterday, but she died at age 30. When I googled her today, I also discovered that VH1 just aired a documentary about her life on the 19th, but I had no idea about that either, as we don’t get VH1 nor do we ever see commercials for it. I’ve no idea what the relevance is to me or why I was thinking about her. "Don't go chasing waterfalls" was one of the songs that was running through my mind. I understand she was in the midst of spiritual renewal when she died. Learned more about her today than I ever knew about her before.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Fly like an Egret

This grebe was kind enough to tilt his head up while I snapped the shutter. We were out at Moss Landing (south of here, about a half an hour). It's a really charming tiny little town near elkhorn slough. We made a day of it with chicken mole' tamales at haute enchilada and a pretty good hike at the slough. Met up with Sheryl's friend Linda, and we talked her ear off a bit. We both brought our cameras and both got good shots, maybe at some surprising moments like within the first 60 seconds out of the car when a Great Egret flew directly overhead. I think the Grebes are pretty birds too. Sheryl got some nice shots of a little blackbird bathing in a bird-bath.

The scuttled boat Sheryl turned into a painting has now been moved, and that scene isn't as picturesque. Between all the caffeine of the day, and getting busy doing intensive photo editing neither of us could sleep. Maybe we'll catch up tonight. I love tiny remote towns, there's always a part of me that wants to move where the population is about one-tenth of the high school I graduated from, (Santa Monica High School). Reminds me of when we tried to move to Port Townsend last summer-- and then chickened out at the last minute. Not that Santa Cruz is exactly a metropolis. We like it here.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Bring our soldiers home

I decided to dedicate some of my art to political statements that I think need saying. In the past I have refrained from this, thinking that it didn't really make a difference. But a while back I started writing stories with political statements embedded, and I did publish those. So now I'm doing designs like the one above too. It's a start. It does make a difference, so I put it on a t-shirt and a bunch of other things like post-cards in our gift shop.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Fake FAQs

Frequently asked questions that I’ve never been asked:

Q: What are all those “buy Paul a coffee” buttons doing there?

A: Seemed like a good idea at the time. I really wanted it to be just a dollar for a cup, but the paypal service would have taken about 32 cents commission, so I raised the first tier to a dollar fifty to make it more realistic. Now if somebody opts to buy me a coffee I get $1.16 and paypal gets the other 34 cents. Also Sheryl copied me, and her coffee cup is a dollar fifty so we made it consistant. Sheryl did me one better though-- you can select the quantity and buy her like a thousand cups of coffee at a time if you want to. She already stays up too late.

Q: Has anybody contributed to your coffee fund yet?

A: Not yet but I just put it up there today.

Q: Are you going to change it to something more productive and meaningful?

A: I may change one or two of them to something “better” where the buyer gets something in return, but we’ve already got an online store where you actually get to buy stuff for yourself like art prints and photo prints and all kinds of adorned products such as coffee mugs, t-shirts etc. Plus we’ve got our spiritual healing practice and a few other web pages to maintain. In the meantime even a buck fifty buys a lot of good will from me. I'm easy to please, and I do believe that good deeds are rewarded in the grand scheme of things.

Q: So, why might I send you coffee money?

A: Oh, you know, why not? Maybe you liked my blog articles and/or the photos. Maybe you liked an ad I wrote because it made you laugh. The coffee buttons aren’t that important really. It’s just like a tip jar that’s really easy to use-- you can even put it on your Visa card. But this is getting embarrassing now. . . Do you have any other questions?

Q: Not really. I’ll get back to you if I think of anything. Do you take cream?

A: Cream, no sugar. Thanks.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

The last thing.

The last thing a grasshopper sees.

The last thing a fish sees.

The last thing a gopher sees.

The last thing our TV sees.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Spiritual Warrior

The photo above is of our household warrior, Chai. We’re trying to teach him to change his ways, but there’s a neighborhood cat who wants to join our household, and Chai, more than once now gets in knock down drag out fights. He’s a real warrior, but he’s also the most sensitive cat we’ve got. I find him charming, maybe I relate to him a bit.

When I was a kid I played with toy guns, we played “war” and I was also horrified by the news footage from the Vietnam war. I got in fights at school. I hated to but I was also willing. Between all the real violence and the fantasy violence, I somehow learned to hate the real thing but still appreciate all the “guy flicks” and cop shows on TV. A few years after Vietnam, I was powerfully interested in spirituality and still watching John Wayne movies.

What is a spiritual warrior?The feel of those two words put together got my attention real fast the first time I heard them combined. The GUY part of me wanted to strap on a sword and do whatever it is that spiritual warriors do. It must involve a sword, yes? No? A spear then. Something you can stab with, poke with, swing like a club and smash things with. . . come on now, it says “warrior” doesn’t it?

Who coined the term, was it Carlos Castenada? Kind of, but not really. He certainly used the term, or more precisely, his fictional character, Don Juan, used it a lot. That’s right, I said fictional, and I meant it. That’s just the kind of warrior I am. Take no prisoners. I’m pretty sure a lot of spiritual stuff I read when I was a teenager was a lot more fictional than I believed at the time, or even wanted to believe for many years to come. I’d probably write a lot more about that, but “them’s fightin’ words!” and like any good spiritual warrior I’m not interested in fighting.

The spiritual warrior as a concept might have it’s roots in the (now outlawed) caste system of India. Yogic knowledge and practices were forbidden to those in the lower castes, but not to the warrior caste, the one just below the priests, judges and teachers. Warriors were allowed to eat meat too, allowed to kill, which of course meant dealing with bodily fluids. The warrior was a peculiar mix of “untouchable” habits and priestly privileges. That’s odd. Oh wait, the warriors were the ones with all the weapons and the power and skill to use them. Maybe it’s not so strange after all that a warrior could scarf down half a pig, go out and kill people for a living and then seek enlightenment in his time off. Where does a 500 pound gorilla sleep? In the middle of the temple if he wants to, snoring as loud as a freight train if he’s so inclined.

Which brings me to a couple of points; the spiritual warrior, by nature is willing to confront, and to fight. But the confrontation is not without purpose, and of course it has to do with the spiritual world. So the spiritual warrior confronts his own ignorance, his habitual patterns, his preconceived notions and beliefs. Ultimately the spiritual warrior confronts his own defeat, because every philosophical road leads to the existential abyss, if you follow it far enough. The spiritual warrior drops his weapons when he finally realizes that there is no enemy, and no homeland either.

How is that the end? Well, spiritual pursuits are about converging on the ultimate. Ultimates are limited to the conceptual; as far as we know they don’t exist in nature. There’s “tall” and then there’s “taller”. There’s “small” and then there’s “smaller”. We never find that which is smallest nor do we confront the end of the universe as if we’re bumping into a store window. The spiritual warrior therefore finds his conquest finishing at the gates of paradox because ultimate “suchness” must also include ultimate possibility-- and ultimate possibility would have to consist of profound, unimaginable emptiness. Sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be. Some warriors choose to battle for ultimate simplicity.

Bottom line, a spiritual warrior battles for territory which exists inside himself. He battles with himself, for a piece of himself. The battle might rage for quite some time, until one day the warrior realizes, “Hey, what if i just surrender?” and then the battle is won. Later on the Spiritual warrior will recount his heroic exploits, epic battles on the way to his grand and hard won hilltop where his flag is now planted. He might not realize that others have reached his summit, and beyond (there’s always a beyond) by skipping the battle entirely.

The other point I have to make speaks directly to the whole “warrior” thing, in relation to spiritual pursuits. It seems ridiculous to put the words “spiritual” and “warrior” together, and yet the term really caught on and became popular, it appealed to people, guys, I’m betting, especially. Guys who recognize a certain warrior nature within themselves, but also a profound call to the spiritual. Women have a warrior nature too, of course, but for now I’m sticking to the stereotype to make my point. Anyway, once the warrior is on the road to the spiritual he may be poorly dressed, in his heavy steel armor. He may be badly equipped, with mace, sword and shield against an enemy who will never truly materialize. The warrior may be the silliest thing you’ve ever seen on the spiritual road: but he’s on the road, and he’s there because you let him bring his toys with him.