Purpose Statement

Exploration -> Experience -> Feeling -> Transformation -> Understanding

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Not so original after all

It looks like someone else had very nearly the same vision as I did, though they got comet Hale Bop in their image. This supposedly came from an Arizona Daily Star article.


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Babylonians and Hohokam


I was dutifully sitting at my computer yesterday working away when friend Tara called and suggested we go to see the snow on the Catalinas. Eager to get out of the house and away from the computer, I jumped at the offer but suggested we go to Signal Hill on the west side of the Tucson Mountains. The Hohokam left petroglyphs in the rocks there that some people think correspond to solar and lunar cycles. The winter solstice was just a week ago, so it seemed an appropriate time to visit (given that I am always late to everything). I took my D80, my 12-24mm, my tripod and a flashlight. We had to wait until after sunset for the Japanese tourist to clear out but I finally set up and experimented with "painting with light." I was pleased with the results. You should see the 10 MB version.

I had to pay my 2006 estimated taxes the other day and it was a painful experience, not only because it was a big chunk of change, but because my tax dollars subsidize such foolishness as the war in Iraq, the war on terror, the war on drugs and the idiotic border fence.

I awoke this morning to the news of the hanging of Saddam and I immediately thought of a book I read several years ago by Walter Wink called The Powers That Be. Wink explains The Myth Of Redemptive Violence, starting with the Babylonian creation myth, and then proceeds to blow holes in it.

I know a few people who intentionally earn less than the minimum taxable wage so that they will not have to subsidize our collective violence. The price is too high, but bourgeois comfort and security is the siren's song and when you find yourself foundering amidst the rocks, what do you do, abandon ship? Ah look! Someone long ago carved pictures into the rocks!

I comfort myself by meditating on the transient nature of all things. We too shall go the way of the Babylonians and the Hohokam. I just hope we don't take everything else with us.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Undisciplined Daydreaming

I watched the movie Grizzly Man this weekend. Excellent. Reminded me of myself and my Puer Aeternus friends. Made me want to go to Alaska. Feel the wanderlust.

I bought myself a Christmas present. I'm planning a trip to the Wilcox Playa in the next few weeks to photograph the sandhill cranes (hopefully I'll get an image that beautiful) so my present should be useful. Billy D and I are planning a trip to the Bosque in February for more of the same. If I have any success, maybe I'll take the summer off and go to Haines and then over to Brooks Camp and Denali.

The Catalinas are covered in snow and it rained all day today. I forgot how cold it gets in Tucson. Every morning, under my blankets, I miss Hawaii. Ironman AZ is coming up quick. I have got to get on the bike.

I've been reflecting on my inability to commit. Started re-reading The Road Less Traveled. Chapter 1, Discipline. Oh yeah. Definitely lacking in discipline at the moment. Speaking of which, I should be working right now. But I think I'll go to bed instead.

Goodnight.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Marathon Photos

Tiny photos of naked-man-running.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Marathon Day

I did the Tucson Marathon today. The plan was to just have a long training day - 26.2 miles at my training pace, something like 10 minute miles.

So I got up at 5AM and started drinking caffinated tea and eating, part of the prerace ritual get the GI tract going, but my body knew it was 5 AM and it was supposed to be resting. I hung around the house quite late waiting for the big evacuation, but finally I had to head to the race start. True to form, I arrived at the race start 5 minutes or so after the official start at 7:30. My body processes had finally kicked in so I had to duck into a port-o-john. When I finally crossed the start line, they were tearing down the scaffolding, so I thought I might be way behind the other runners, but I started catching the stragglers within the first mile.

I was so excited to be racing, I was running 8 minute miles gobbling up the slow runners. I tried to slow down, to pace myself, but I wound up running 8 minute miles for the first 8 miles. And I felt great.

The fatigue seemed to come in multiples of 8. The first 8 miles, I felt great. From 8 to 16 miles, I felt fatigued, but I was still running well. At 16 miles, the fatigue got heavy. At 18 miles I was hurting. I started falling apart at 20 miles. At 22 miles I was trying to just keep my legs moving. At 24 miles I was wasted. At 25 miles, I was so exhausted, I stopped running and walked a tenth of a mile.

I had a mile left, and I really wanted to finish with dignity. I started to run, but my legs were just gone. I was suffering terribly and I thought I might have to walk the last mile when a HOT young women in little hottie shorts that I had passed miles earlier ran by me. I thought, OK, Hang with her. I dug deep and suddenly my legs took off. I was running fast. So fast, I blew by the hottie and ran hard the last mile to the finish. 3 hours 56 minutes start to finish.

So I guess I know what kind of carrot to hang when I need to move.

I could barely stand up at the finish, let alone walk. I did a good job of staying hydrated and keeping my blood sugar up through the race (I had to pee half a dozen times during the race) and I sat around and ate and drank at the finish line. While I was recuperating, the DJ played Feel Good Inc and it became my marathon theme song. I would have danced if I could have stood up.

So a little ibuprophen later and I am moving around, but still quite sore and tired. I hope I sleep well tonight.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A good day

Today was a good day. I feel my fortitude returning.

From the backyard this evening:


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Glass Off at Box

I got myself somewhat stressed out this week, which kind of slid into depression, which kind of came to a head Friday night. So I did something for my soul today. I flew my paraglider at Box Canyon. Special Ed was there with Wrangler and Jammer, Dr. Fred, Morey, and a new pilot named Charlie. Conditions were absolutely perfect and my flight was very calming.

Here is Morey landing just after sunset. That is the moon on the left and launch is just under Morey's right foot and 1500' up. What is the name of that purple color on the horizon?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Get on your bike and ride!

Thus spake Freddie.

I did El Tour de Tucson last week; 9000 bicyclists, 112 miles, 6 1/2 hours. Great fun.


Yesterday I did a beautiful mountain bike ride up Reddington Pass with Special Ed and Anxious John.


Spectacular sunset and a lovely ride back to the car in the inky black night.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Pay attention!

I was putzing around in the bedroom, heard the javalina knocking over my garbage can in the driveway, went out to chase them off, heard pigeons roosting under the eve of my roof, crawled up on the roof to see if they had found a way into my attic, and BAM! I was yanked right out of myopia.

Standing in my backyard, looking west, around 5:30 PM this evening:


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Yenta, My Mother

Mom emailed me to tell me about Desiree, a hot single triathlete in Austin. I would be annoyed with the Yenta-like meddling, but mom is right; Desiree is HOT!

Desiree - call me.

Thanks Mom!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Friday, November 10, 2006

From my own tradition

And yet another example, this one from the Bible.

Joseph has been through hell and he finds himself in a fabulous position of power and his traitorous brothers are at his mercy:

Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me." When they had done so, he said, "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. "So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.”

So all the shit that Joseph went through was part of God’s plan for him to become great and do wonderful things.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Al-Khidr


I’ve been wrestling some more with the idea of the shadow of God and I remembered this wonderful analysis by Marie Louise von Franz:

The ethical difficulties that arise when one meets one's shadow are well described in the 18th Book of the Koran. In this tale Moses meets Khidr ("the Green One" or "first angel of God") in the desert. They wander along together, and Khidr expresses his fear that Moses will not be able to witness his deeds without indignation. If Moses cannot bear with him and trust him, Khidr will have to leave.

Presently Khidr scuttles the fishing boat of some poor villagers. Then, before Moses' eyes, he kills a handsome young man, and finally he restores the fallen wall of a city of unbelievers. Moses cannot help expressing his indignation, and so Khidr has to leave him. Before his departure, however, he explains his reasons for his actions: By scuttling the boat he actually saved it for its owners because pirates were on their way to steal it. As it is, the fishermen can salvage it. The handsome young man was on his way to commit a crime, and by killing him, Khidr saved his pious parents from infamy. By restoring the wall, two pious young men were saved from ruin because their treasure was buried under it. Moses, who had been so morally indignant, saw now (too late) that his judgment had been too hasty. Khidr's doings had seemed to be totally evil, hut in fact they were not.

Looking at this story naïvely, one might assume that Khidr is the lawless, capricious, evil shadow of pious, law-abiding Moses. But this is not the case. Khidr is much more the personification of some secret creative actions of the Godhead.

So death and destruction, pain and suffering, plague and famine are secret creative actions of the Godhead that we witness with indignation because we do not understand the greater good that will ultimately result.

Everything is a blessing.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Scott's Creed


Have you ever said the Nicene Creed? I have a real problem with it. It is a statement of belief, but I don't believe any of it, at least not literally. Sure I can read it as myth and metaphor, in the historical context of the time it was written, but it does not describe what I believe or what I experience. So I wrote my own statement of belief.

Scott’s Creed
Originally Written 11/14/2004
Revised 11/7/2006
Guaranteed to Change
***
A Process exists that connects everything,
from before the beginning, to this moment.
The Process made me.
The Process made everything.
I am part of the Process.

I am human.
I am conscious and intelligent
and consequently self-aware and moral
with a talent for pattern recognition,
especially linear causality.

The Process that made me
is unconscious, amoral,
random and chaotic.
I struggle to understand the Process.

I project my conscious human nature
onto the unconscious Process.
The Process thus appears polarized and contradictory;
simultaneously positive - beautiful, nurturing, and creative -
and negative - horrible, devouring, and destructive.

My experience of the negative side of the Process is painful.
I am afraid and anxious of the negative side of the Process.
My fear and anxiety inhibit me
from fully engaging and participating in the Process.
I have failed to reach my potentialities.
I feel guilty and ashamed of my failure.

With an earnest desire to grow into my potentialities,
I relieve my guilt and my shame
by accepting my failures and the failures of humanity
and I relieve my fear and anxiety
by recognizing that the Process is indivisible;
the apparent duality of the Process
is a construction of my own consciousness.

With the Process reconciled
and relieved of my guilt, shame, fear and anxiety,
I am able to engage and participate in the Process.
I experience the positive side of the Process as Joy.
I experience the negative side of the Process as Grief.

Joy and Grief are two faces of the same feeling,
though Joy is inaccessible to me
unless the Process is reconciled.
It is wonderful to feel both Joy and Grief.
It reminds me that I am part of the Process.
***

Many folks would call the positive side of the Process "God" and the negative side of the process "Satan" or perhaps "Shit Happens."

Jung would have called the Process "God" because he reconciled the shadow and the light. His famous dream - At 12 he had a dream that left him in fear of eternal damnation until he realized that it was God who gave it to him. The vision was of a giant turd falling from under God's throne in the heavens on to the cathedral of Basel, shattering its roof and destroying the walls. The affectual response Jung reported from this vision is one of intense relief and an unutterable bliss. He says he wept with happiness and gratitude for the 'grace of the vision', but remained in fear as it showed him that there is a terrible side to God--an idea that reappeared throughout life. - and later his book, Answer to Job, explain that even God has a shadow.

I'm with Jung. When I say God, I mean the Process, both positive and negative. So God has a shadow side - cancer, suffering, death, pain, ... all that stuff.

God or Life or the Process or whatever you want to call it gives and takes both good and bad and we have no control over what we get and lose. All we can do is take responsibility for what we do with what we are given. Imagination and creativity are the keys to constructing a beautiful life. Most people would rather not take on the responsibility of creating a beautiful life and instead fall into the role of powerless victims. As such, they have mediocre, unfulfilled lives.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Pitiful Sick Bastards






Pity the sick bastards. Yes, the hypocrisy is unbelievable. You would think that the humiliations and failures they each suffered would be enough that they would let go, but amazingly they hang on and come back. It’s unfortunate such sick people wield such power and influence over so many sheep.

Ted Haggard’s apology for his sensuality kills me:

Please forgive my accuser. He is revealing the deception and sensuality that was in my life. Those sins, and others, need to be dealt with harshly. So, forgive him and, actually, thank God for him. I am trusting that his actions will make me, my wife and family, and ultimately all of you, stronger. He didn’t violate you; I did.

I wish Ted the best of luck in eradicating all sensuality from his life. May he and his family and his whole bloody church congregation make it to their sterilized promised land.

As for me, I’m following Goldmund.

Joy and Grief

Joy and Grief are two faces of the same experience.
It is amazing how similar they feel.
It is wonderful to feel.
I used to be afraid.
Then the Damn of Grief broke and washed me to the Ocean of Feeling.
And now I experience Joy.
And it hurts as much as Grief, maybe more.
And it is wonderful.
I remember the fear, but I can’t remember what I was afraid of.

Paschal Metaphor


Something wonderful happens when you show your wounds to others, provided the others are capable of witnessing without being judgmental. By their witnessing, you are healed and by your vulnerability, they are drawn into greater life. I have seen it happen many times, several times just this weekend.

The story of the resurrected Christ appearing to the disciples and showing them his wounds, and later Thomas sticking his finger in the wounds, is for me a metaphor for this process. So the person who risks being vulnerable to others by showing his/her wounds, wears the face of the Christ.

After showing the disciples his wounds, the Christ breathed spirit into the disciples and sent them into the world. So too the witnesses are made more alive by seeing reflections of themselves in the one who has risked being vulnerable.

I wish I could show you the magic I saw this weekend.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

You're Ugly, Too

I can be witty. It's a good skill to have. When I make people laugh, I feel as though people like me.

My wit can be a weapon as well. Actually the humor goes beyond wit at that point. It is something more like caustic sarcasm. There is something pessimistic about it, something very negative, even hostile.

I try to be aware of what I am radiating out to the universe. Is it positive and affirming, like my friend Lee who is always laughing and smiling, or is it negative and humiliating? Am I confident and hospitable or insecure and hostile?

This evening I tore into someone with some nasty sarcasm. It came out of my mouth almost reflexively. Another part of my self was listening, and was surprised by the energy behind the words. Ten minutes later, I went back to the woman and apologized for being a smart ass. Fortunately she was very forgiving.

This cynicism weighed heavily on me this evening and as I was deconstructing my hostility, I remembered a wonderful short story I read several years ago, You're Ugly, Too by Lorrie Moore, about a cynical, bitter, insecure, over-educated woman who relates to life, the universe and everything with hostility. I remember when I read the story, thinking how tragic was the main character, Zoë. How upsetting to now see something of myself reflected by Zoë.

I read a book by Henri Nouwen a year ago called Reaching Out that discussed how we relate to ourselves, to other people and to God. People who are insecure experience those relationships as loneliness, hostility and illusion. People who are confident experience those relationships as solitude, hospitality and prayer.

So I have concluded that I was insecure this evening when I was hostile. And given the place and situation, that makes sense. So perhaps I shall do a little meditation every time I go back to that place, to center myself in security and confidence.

Monday, October 30, 2006

I eat a lot of Chinese food

Who needs LSD?

I did a 15 mile run yesterday evening. I was running south down a dirt road and I noticed everything was starting to glow in the red light of sunset. I looked to my right at the Tucson mountains and lost my breath. The sunset was phenomenal. And I thought, Oh I wish I had my camera. But then I thought I should not be so concerned with trying to possess the moment, but just to experience it. So I ran along watching the sky turn orange and pink and red. I actually got choked up. And just when I thought the experience could not be any more intense, I turned my head to the left - The Catalinas were orange in the alpenglow and a rainbow was perfectly framing them. It was amazing. LSD could not produce more intense colors.

So I didn't photograph the amazing sunset, but here is what I imagine St. Philip's would look like on LSD:

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Exploring the Shadow

Back in March, when I was living in Hawaii, I attended a lecture/discussion about the unrest in the Episcopal Church over the appointment of an openly gay Bishop. Afterwords, I sent an email to the folks who put on the presentation:

It's not the HOMO part.

It’s the SEXUAL part.

As I listened to your excellent talk last Sunday, I tried to put myself in the shoes of these people who are so frightened by the gay bishop, and I realized that the root of their anxiety is not so much that they are uncomfortable with HOMOsexuality but that they are uncomfortable with SEXUALITY. And I don’t feel anger toward them but rather pity, because I am one of them. We are heirs to the Calvinist-Puritan morality and the bourgeois sensibilities of those fundamentalist terrorists who attacked the original homeland security forces of the native Americans. And our morality tells us that sex is evil, wicked, and sinful and its only proper use is for procreation by a man and a woman bound, tied and gagged in holy matrimony and even then, one should derive no pleasure from it. And our bourgeois sensibilities tell us that we must control the chaos of life with our devotion to consistency and uniformity so that we might continue to be blessed with comfort, safety and security.

The protestants of Hawaii were confronted with a crisis in 1873 and here is what they wrote in the newspaper: “Do we consider what this means? It means the disorganization and total destruction of civilization, property values, and industry, of our churches, our contributions, … It means shame, and defeat, and disgraceful overthrow to all that is promising and fair …We are on the brink of a horrible pit, full of loathsomeness, into which our feet are rapidly sliding.” The crisis was leprosy and the protestants attributed leprosy to sexual deviancy. I suspect today’s homophobes could write the exact same sentences to describe their anxiety. They are bourgeoisie with material preoccupations.

What the homophobes need is two-fold:


Moral instruction and guidance on celebrating sexuality. The place to begin is with their own white-bread-missionary-style HETEROsexuality. The day I can have guilt-and-shame-free heterosex is the day I will be non-judgmental about HOMOsex.

They need to be beaten over their bourgeois heads with Matthew 6:19-34

Thank you for challenging me to grow and live and love with intensity.


Well, yesterday I saw a movie that had me squirming in my Calvinist seat.



The first 5 minutes were a full frontal (literally) assault. But I stuck it out and sat through the movie, and now I am really glad I did. Maybe I need to go back and watch it again. I may have missed a lot of the message because I was so uncomfortable.

I doubt this movie would have been made if the religious fundamentalists were not in political power. It was refreshing to be shocked. Uncomfortable, but refreshing.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Advocates

The voices for the voiceless.

It's amazing to watch JYC's documentaries from the 60's and 70's - he was sounding the environmental alarm half a century before environmental issues penetrated the collective consciousness.


SAS is all about social justice, as were all the great mystics.


I fell in love with Sarah Chayse when I saw this documentary.

And I really admire my friend Margot for the work she does at IHS.

Finished Logo

Sunday, October 22, 2006

More neighbors

Who is hiding under my car this evening?
Why it's my seldom seen neighbor with the forked tongue and rattle tail, Mr. Diamondback.I was on my way to the curb to put the recycling out and Mr. Diamondback was in my driveway. He put on a good show, rattling and posturing to strike, as dad and I took pictures. Dad got to see my high stepping backward sprint.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Life of Peccaries

Dad and I are working on a photo shoot for a National Geographic article - The Life of Peccaries.

Dad getting close.

Closer

There you go.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Put 'em to work!

When family visits, put 'em to work remodeling your kitchen.

The Mystics

The spiritual athletes who nurtured me.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Sacred Woody Garden

A friend told me that when he thinks of me he is reminded of this Robert Frost poem:

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


When I got home and read the poem, I was immediately reminded of another poem by W.H. Auden:

For the Time Being

For the garden is the only place there is, but you will not find it
Until you have looked for it everywhere and found nowhere that is not a desert.
The miracle is the only thing that happens, but to you it will not be apparent
Until all events have been studied and nothing happens to you that you cannot explain.
Life is the destiny you are bound to refuse until you have consented to die.

And the connection of the two poems, for me, is the woods and the garden. They are the same thing.

Frost has this civilized fellow from the village of humanity - a busy fellow with promises to keep, places to be, things to do, whose “horse” of habit doesn’t understand a stop before the destination – awe struck by the lovely, dark and deep woods that are filling up with snow, dying the winter death. This guy lives in the profane world, but has a glimpse into the sacred woods.

Auden says the sacred garden is the only place there is, but we won’t find it until we have completely explored the profane desert.

The great mystics acknowledged that we have to live in the profane world. When asked how to attain eternal enlightenment, Buddha answered, “die.” Jesus said “Give unto Cesar what is Cesar’s, give unto God what is God’s.” Still, it would be good to spend more time in the woods, more time in the garden. That is a tough balance to strike.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Yankees and Texans

I went to Rip and Jill’s wedding this weekend on the Esselstyn family farm in New York. They got married on top of “water tank hill.” The old windmill used to pump water to tanks in the house on top of the hill that then gravity fed the entire property.

The tank house.

The wedding procession climbing the hill.

The fall colors were spectacular.

And it was great to see old friends, still as competitive as ever.


Few people will understand the significance of this photo.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Storytellers

JYC's story telling captured my imagination. As The Life Aquatic pointed out, his documentaries were a bit corny and not so scientific, but they were dramatic and spiritual. Woody. Brilliant. Hysterically funny. Painfully insightful and honest.Hesse. The genius. The master. I discovered my shadow reading Steppenwolf and I discovered my light reading Narcissus and Goldmund. Paulo, the Alchemist. The most elegant things are the simplest things.

SAS, the full frontal assaulter. Her sermons set my heart on fire.

The Athletes

Dave Scott is The Man!

Vanessa, my anima incarnate. Not only does Rip carry my anima, but he is one of the most loving, beautiful people I have ever known.