What Wood Are You Chopping?

Once upon a time a monk was walking in the forest. Suddenly, a tiger springs at him. The monk fled, the tiger right behind.  He came to a cliff, and climbed down until he was out of reach of the tiger.  He heard a hiss, and looked down to see a cobra coiled and ready to strike on a rock beneath his heel. He tried to climb back up, and the tiger swiped at him, barely missing his head.   Below him, the cobra hissed and flared its hood.

 

Then the vine he was holding onto began to fray.  He looked far below, hundreds of feet to jagged rocks.

The monk looked to his left, and there in the crack of a rock grew a wild strawberry.   He plucked it and took a bite.  

“Delicious,” the monk said.

 

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I’ve been blessed to know, or be in the close presence, of many extraordinary people, some famous, some known only to their friends.  But there is an amazing commonality to them.  If that extraordinary aspect is their single focus, they are “imbalanced” in a way, but playing a very different game–they are happy when they are in the flow of their skill, but sometimes unhappy in the other arenas.

 

But if they are at least relatively balanced, there is a common quality I can best call “sweetness” about them.   The deadliest martial artists or  wealthiest men melt  in the presence of their wives or children   or grandchildren. The most spiritual men and women break into toothy smiles thinking of an ice cream cone they ate fifty years ago. It really is amazing to see.

 

The ability to access joy at will is one of the most critical things in life, for ANYONE. The capacity to access joy, or calm, or passion under stress is one of the keys to  that thing called “Mastery.”   Why?

 

Because “Mastery” is a matter of focused daily actions.   Remember Steve Muhammad’s definition: once you have your basics at unconscious competence, and have committed to your path for a lifetime, you are on the path of Mastery.  A Master.   There will be others ahead of you, some horizons distant. And others behind you. But there is just the Path.

 

You find the Path by being specific about your goals, and finding men and women who have accomplished those goals with honor and dignity.  Then do what they did.   The more of them you study, the more you will be able to discount the trivial differences to see the common core.

 

They all walk the path. Their excellence is found in their daily rituals.  What is your real goal, the real meaning of your life?  To be happy.

 

What you do in the world to reach or express this happiness is up to you, but it should be both long and short term.   It should cover your survival, sexual needs, security and expression of power, emotion, and capacity to speak your truth without fear.  A model of the world that guides your actions and thoughts.  A commitment to align with BOTH your childhood dreams and ultimate deathbed values.

 

To be the micro of the macro.   To be the change you wish to see in the world.

 

Whew. Take a deep breath.  How can you stay on that path? Do you grasp that the world will do EVERYTHING in its power to keep you asleep? To force you to function from fear rather than love?

 

If you don’t make “Emotional Mastery” one of your arenas of mastery, you can commit to all the positive change you want, and you’ll be able to stick to the path AS LONG AS YOU CAN KEEP CONSCIOUS ATTENTION ON THE GOAL.  The instant you are overloaded, however, your core programming will take over.  You will “snap back” to your normal state.

 

Under stress, people:

 

Abandon diets

Start smoking again

Revert to tribal thinking

Break promises to themselves

Bark at their loved ones

Stop balancing their checkbook

Stop meditating

 

And on and on.  They focus on what is “imperative” rather than what is important and generative.

 

Show me your morning/daily ritual of action and emotion, and you’re showing me where you are going in life.  In “Hero’s Journey” terms, this is THE ROAD OF TRIALS.

 

What wood are you chopping? What water carrying?

 

The meaning of life is to be happy.   Even if the tiger is about to spring. Even if the cobra is about to bite.  When you have done all there is to do, best enjoy the moments left. And…if you stay positive, IF there is a way out, you are more likely to find it.  Remember the “Dark Night of the Soul”?  It is the time when it seems that all is lost.  And the way through it is Faith. The reason is that a stressed out mind sees only paleness, only hopelessness, only defeat.   Stay positive and you can make connections, attract allies, see new possibilities.

Eating that strawberry reminds you that life is worth living.

 

##

 

Under stress, we revert to core programming.  One is, as mentioned, tribalism.  “We” are better than “them.”  It is one of the most basic and protective mechanisms, but also capable of fantastic damage.   It is child-programming, “my dog is better, my mommy prettier, my daddy stronger.” 

 

It requires ENERGY to achieve escape velocity.   As people age or tire, if they have merely orbited this programming rather than escaping its gravity, they crash back down.  Joy is energy.

 

The most common Tribes are things like race, religion, country, gender.  The ones I focus on the most are race and gender, as they have affected those closest to me, those I love, the people who anchor me to the world.  Take care of what is right around you, with both love and strength,  and encourage others to do the same, and the world will heal.

 

That child self tells a story that places it as central to existence.  Perfectly natural. Cultures do it too: whites give Jesus blue eyes and blond hair, the Chinese make Buddha a chubby Chinese, blacks argue that Cleopatra VII Philopator  was sub-Saharan African.     Then, of course, they pretend that its everyone ELSE who does this shit.

That’s what humans do.

 

White people who haven’t achieved escape velocity are terrified that the world is browning.   Believing in the “Great Man/Great Race” hypothesis rather than the flowing forces of history, they see the world ending.   Men who are more attached to their masculinity than to their humanity fear the shifting gender roles.

 

Both are afraid of being treated as they’ve treated others, so if there is guilt and fear in their hearts, these changes feel like death.   The flip side is the poor souls so battered by guilt that they are ashamed of themselves or their tribe. That’s actually sicker than tribalism.  And bigots feed right into either imbalance, trust me.

 

Blacks are as racist as whites, they just don’t have the power to make it matter much. Women are as sexist and flawed as guys, and its entertaining watching them guilt-trip guys into being ashamed of their testicles.   Over-emphasizing the value of Yin is precisely as imbalanced as over-emphasizing the value of Yang.

 

The answer to all of this is joy, and love, combined with strength and balance.

 

While this illustration is about “White supremacy” in my own “Lion’s Blood” universe you’d be able to flip the script to “Black supremacy”  100%.  No problem.

whitesupremacy.jpg

It would be interesting to see someone do the same thing for “Toxic Masculinity.”  I’m sure such a thing is out there.   But the real trick would be doing one for “Toxic Femininity” because if you can’t, you’re caught in the Matrix, and the demons are dancing with joy.

 

##

 

Start with joy and you can deal with the stress without it becoming strain. Do that, and you connect to the love and strength within you, and stop needing other people’s approval.  Which frees you to ask “who am I?” without fearing that you’ll find something hideous within, or that you may have to walk alone for a while as you figure it out.

 

All it takes to get everything you want is everything you’ve got.  Being willing to abandon your illusions. To do that, you have to know you’ll be fine, no matter what, and you CANNOT do that if your emotional well-being is externally focused.

Control your story.  And teach others to do the same.

 

 

Namaste,

Steve

My Tenth Block. Sigh.

Racism is the belief that one group, defined by race or ethnicity, is overall less capable or moral than another.  It is not “hating” people, although it can certainly lead  to hate and fear. It doesn’t mean there aren’t members of “that” group you do not honor, respect, or even love.   And yes, I think it is a disease found generally on the extreme Right (there are balancing diseases on the extreme Left, yes, but frankly, I don’t see them as being as virulent at the moment, and they aren’t my personal concern to the same degree.   We choose our poisons).

 

I do not reject people for their opinions.  I reject them for their actions.   Now, speech is an action, but the rational and reasonable discussion of a position contrary to mine doesn’t make someone a bad person.    My concern is their courtesy and humanity and compassion.

But I don’t let people who hold a racist belief pattern to comment ON RACE on my page.

 

Why?  Because I spent almost fifty years listening to and engaging in discussions about whether this or that group was mentally or morally inferior.   I find them self-aggrandizing.  There are some who respect the statistics on the matter, and I can respect THEM, and even agree that there is something to be concerned about. But I’ve never met anyone, not a single person, who considered the differences genetic who struck me as having even a rudimentary grasp of the damage done by 400 years of rape, torture, murder, forced labor, and brainwashing.  Or…the fact that human beings, when they get an advantage, will exploit it, and then pretend nothing happened.

 

Not one.

Nor the fact that faith cannot be removed from the equation, even if it is simply faith that our senses are accurately perceiving reality.   That our tests can be created without bias. Or administered and evaluated without bias.  Or that it is possible to actually see the filters our socialization overlays onto our perceptions and beliefs.

As Neil DeGrasse Tyson said of the discussion of women in the sciences:

“So before we start talking about genetic differences, you gotta come up with a system where there’s equal opportunity. Then we can have that conversation.”

And you have to factor in the length of time the previous programming has been in place.  Anyone who expects serious multi-generational effects to resolve within the life of a single human being, even AFTER you get equal opportunity, is blind. People don’t heal that fast.   Its like I spend a year beating the hell out of you every day, finally stop, visit you in the hospital a week later and say: “what the hell is wrong with you?  Why are you still bruised!  You must be naturally lame.  You must be a `cutter’ who does this to yourself.”

Create equal opportunity, deliberately, “leaning into” the wind of the natural human tendency to screw over the other tribe.   Your great-grandchildren will be the ones to report back on what’s happening.  Thinking you’re important enough that it should all happen in YOUR lifetime only makes sense if it BEGAN in your lifetime.

##

 

I notice that healthy people almost always have faith that their group is superior, and then seek the evidence to prove it.   Unhealthy people take this to an extreme…or worse, lose themselves in an illusion that they are INFERIOR, and that is one of the most damaging things a human being can experience.  It is the Macro version of the Micro “child abuse” syndrome that can poison relationships, ambition and body dynamics for a lifetime.    The same thing, played out on a larger scale.

 

The far more extraordinary thing is to find people who say: “we are equal, but the context is different.”   Can this be taken to extremes?  Sure.  I find it absurd to think that men and women are precisely equal, save for social conditioning. That’s just unsupportable.  But…on the other hand…does that extend to mental performance?   I see no reason not to assume that until we’ve had a dozen generations of equal opportunity we won’t even BEGIN to know the answer to that, and it is self-serving to suggest otherwise.  We just aren’t smart enough to understand our own minds well enough to take the chance of shutting down a lifetime of ambition, discovery and contribution because we’re afraid it’s all “PC.”  Especially when that position puts advantage in our court.  Be very, very careful of your own tendency to see the world to your advantage.

I don’t hate or dislike people who cannot do this. Rather, I choose to honor those who can.

 

 

 

So…if I see that the experiments that could ultimately prove the relative influence of nature and nurture cannot be performed (because they would be impossibly cruel, require multiple generations of controlled human development, and need to be performed by aliens) I have to make a choice.

 

If I’m going to make a mistake, which mistake do I want to make?  If people are basically unequal, and I promote the notion of equality, I see the worst reasonable case scenario to be the wasting of resources.

 

But the opposite?  If different racial groups are basically equal,  and I promote the opposite, I am at the LEAST carrying water for monsters.  And at worst?   I become a monster myself.  And I have seen, at close range, too much suffering to think this a distant reality.  Can “equality” be taken too far?  I think yes, but mostly when people are hiding their sense of superiority behind a mask of equality: “I will decide what equal is, and I have the power to force you” has definitely created chaos and death.  Any philosophy taken to an extreme can do that, no matter how loving.

People are enslaved or tortured to death to save their souls, starved and killed in gulags to create a better society.  We have to be careful.

 

But I think there is far more wiggle room with “equality” than “inferior/superior”.  Less corruption. And further, and more importantly, that’s what I think and believe.

 

So I have an opinion, based on experience and research and informed by debate and opinion of people smarter than me, and buttress it with faith.

 

People who think that this protects me from a fear of black inferiority don’t understand me at all.  Its almost amusing that they assume that’s the direction I’d fall.  “But Steve…you’re too intelligent not to know you’re inferior” is their core underlying belief pattern.  Their unspoken message.

Cracks me up that they think I don’t see that.   Or frankly, that I care about their opinion of my intellect.  They really think, deep inside, that they are the measure of humanity, and that I should be honored they deign to respect me.   “You’re not one of THEM.  You’re one of US.”

I’ve really had people say that.   It is scary to think what would have happened had I been insecure enough to give a shit about being “one of them.”

I knew a guy we’ll call Gary.  A black SF fan.  One of the few, back in the 80’s. And he allowed people to joke about his race, and laugh and cheer as he gobbled watermelon, grinned and shuffled.  And I had people ask me: “why are you so uptight, Steve?  It’s all in fun.”

And I remember Gary getting drunk at a party, sitting there crying and raging his pain and fury that his “friends” made him do things like that to get their approval, screaming his anguish at having to pretend it didn’t matter.

He’s dead now, by the way.  The Hawaiian Huna say that the body is a “black box” where you store your unprocessed emotions.  He treated his body like a garbage heap.  I know what we was storing in there. And it killed him.

I’m not going out that way. Neither is anyone under my protection.  Its not that kind of party.

 

##

 

While I know people I respect and admire who believe differently about these things, I don’t allow them to comment on race on my threads. Why? Because the racial aspect of my threads is “what are the most efficient and effective strategies, given this situation?”  Racists want to slow that train down, saying “wait!  I disagree that there is a problem!  Convince me!

No.   For all America’s history, POC, women, gays and others have gone to those at the top of the hierarchy (disproportionately straight white males) with their hands cupped like little orphan Oliver saying “please sir.  I want my rights” and had them fum-fuh and explain why they can’t have those rights.   The 21st century seems to have drawn a line in the sand.  People are not just demanding their rights, and a seat at the table, but POC, women, and their allies who see a world of equality don’t even NEED the people at the top of the hierarchy to agree.  We’re taking it.

And if that generates fear and anger among those who felt anointed by Gawd to dispense justice and decide right and wrong…so be it.  Snowflakes.   They’d never have survived my life.

##

 

For the thousandth time, I see my house burning.  My children are trapped in an upper floor.   I am interested ONLY in putting the fire out.   This is not the time to debate the nature of fire, or whether there is a fire at all.   I am aware that I might be deluded, so I will try very hard not to damage the houses on either side with water damage.

 

But…if you cannot hold the hose, or pass the bucket, or pump the water, you’d better get out of my way.  And to be honest, if you look like the person I saw sneaking away from the back of my house with a torch, and you try to stop me from putting it out..?

 

I think it would be natural to wonder if you don’t have an agenda.

 

There are people who have been burned by that fire, and they need to know that they are safe on my pages. That they don’t have to defend themselves, explain, fend off racist implications even if they are smiling and reasonable.

 

I warn people about that.   Three times has been the rule, then they are blocked.  Not for having racist opinions, but for discourtesy–they are not obeying my rules.  They are impolite guests.  They assume they have the right to say what the hell they want, regardless of my reminders.

 

I just had to block another such person today.  A guy who considers himself very intelligent, who is either memory defective or rude.  He made it clear that he considers blacks to be less intelligent than whites.  He also equates BLM with Nazism and the KKK.  I’ve started noticing that racists seem to do this more often than non-racists.  No specific theory about that at the moment…but I’ve noticed.

 

 

That raises my grand total of blocks, over the entire time I’ve been on FB, to TEN.   I’m very careful, and don’t have a trigger finger, and unless you’ve blocked fewer, I’m not interested in your opinions that I’m creating an “echo chamber.”

 

It is regrettable, but I flirt with the notion I shouldn’t wait for the third transgression. Two might be enough, it really might.

 

Namaste

Steve

http://www.octaviatoblackpanther.com

(Afrofuturism is simply creating mythologies to replace those destroyed in the Diaspora.  EVERYONE without an empowering myth that connects them to creation, explains their lives with power, and points the way to the future needs to do this.  If you feel this lack, or wish to help address it, please join us!)

Saw Steve Muhammad Thursday…

IMG_0823 (1)I saw my dear friend and karate instructor Steve Muhammad yesterday, and he’d not seen the Black Panther trailer. He was astonished. “They let them DO that???” he asked. “We’ve got to support this! This will wake people up!” Yes, we do. And yes, it will. This is a new time. And as T said, our show is for the Woke, and the Awakening.

Every Saturday, we’re giving the same message: that Afrofuturism is specifically filling in the mythological “gaps” torn in the diasporic fabric, without which no culture can function.

This is exactly the same as a psychologist or healer helping to fill in the memory gaps, or twisted self-image left by an abusive childhood. Without remembering what happened, you can’t understand where you are, and are vulnerable to gaslighting at a sick, savage level. But there is another reality: that ALL of us are on the receiving end of someone’s venom, the lies they tell to twist you to their advantage. Everyone is or will be part of a disadvantaged group.

The illusion is that we can do it alone. If you have trouble believing that, you are in the Matrix. The techniques we’re using will work for anyone who wants to build a fairer, more compassionate world for everyone…while respecting the rights and humanity even of those who oppose you. Learn to share your story, or support the efforts of the artists who share your world view. Every Saturday, we’re looking at current events through that lens, but also specifically speaking of the world of Octavia Butler, and the importance of the coming Marvel film. My commitment is to support and enable one million awake, aware, adult human beings. Some of you are comfortable in your dream.  I’m going to take a wild guess: in all likelihood, you are not a POC, or a woman.

Have a nice nap.

But for the rest of us…

www.octaviatoblackpanther.com
Tonight, at 6pm pst/9pm est

Earning My Air

I didn’t realize I was supposed to give the Keynote speech at Willamette Writers Conference until the night before.   I went to bed Friday night asking my unconscious mind to give me the answer.

 

I woke up Saturday morning with the following thought: “there is someone in that room who is about to give up.  Not on writing…on life.    I have to speak to them. Help them. Give them hope, show them the way out, if possible.”

 

But how?   One of my natural tendencies is to go into teacher mode. But however satisfying it might be to offer up valuable information and strategies and tactics learned over the years, that is all garnish.  “Technobabble.”     But if I can share stories of the moments in my life that were turning points, in which I learned something critical, I can create “epiphany bridges” that allow them to feel what I felt, both the despair and the realization that there is a way out of the trap, and the results.

 

IF I can be vulnerable enough to be totally honest, it can work. But I can’t fake it, and I can’t be acting.  I have to create a personal connection with the people in that room, searching the faces, wondering who it is who might go back home and throw their computer against the wall…or drop it into the bathtub with them.

 

No, its not my responsibility.  Yes, it is my honor to be of service.  Yes, I feel the connection, referred to in the Koisan expression “Num”: one soul peering out through many eyes.  Yes, I feel the pain of feeling disconnected through losing or dishonoring yourself, lying to yourself, selling out your dreams, breaking your sacred promises.

 

We’ve all done it.   And twenty-five years ago, a young black belt named Uli asked me “when will I stop being afraid?” and I had no answer for him. And six months later he blew his brains out.   While he might have killed himself no matter what I or anyone else said, I swore that I’d never sit there with a stupid expression on my face again.   I would TRY dammit.  I would try.

 

So…I listened to the very nice introduction by a very nice lady, and then walked up on the stage.   Took a deep breath, scanning the audience, saying a little prayer: “there is someone here who needs the Light.   Step out of the damned way, Steve…and let it through.”

 

I told the “Friday the 13th” story about selling out my “little boy”, the price I paid, and the year of struggle to come back.  Of beginning to fear that I was selling out my childhood by avoiding speaking of racial issues in my work.  It was cowardice, pure and simple.   And how my friend Darnell reminded me that this was the time, and I was the person to do it.    “If not you, who?  If not now, when? And why would you want to write stories for the pleasure of people you wouldn’t have in your home?”

 

And how that lead to some of the greatest writing of my life, even if they weren’t as externally successful as I’d hoped.  I’d done my best. Which is all any of us can do.   And that that little boy inside me is HAPPY that I did.    I’ve made a living.  Raised a family.  Found love.   Walked the martial path for a lifetime.  Everything I wanted as a child.   If I didn’t get everything I wanted as an adult…well, life ain’t over yet.  Not by a long shot.

##

 

I got a standing ovation.  And people were shaking my hand and clapping me on the back and telling me it was the best talk they’d ever heard…and I didn’t care. I was looking for the eyes. The eyes don’t lie.

 

And over the next twenty four hours, a dozen different people came up to me, in quiet moments, and said that they felt as if THEY were the person I came there to speak to. That they had new hope, new courage for their work.  Spoke of abuse and pain and a new commitment to USE that pain to help others.

 

Asked me how I could have understood what they needed.

 

How? Because they are me.  They are all me.  And by feeling their pain, and connecting it with my own, all I have to do is help myself, and rememeber how I did it, and speak that truth…and I can help them as well.

 

And then..?   And then their victories are mine, as well.  And brothers and sisters, nothing, NOTHING in the world feels better than that.

 

Earned my air this weekend.   Yes, I did.

 

 

Namaste,

Steve

 

(The application of this same idea to fiction is the core of the “Lifewriting” idea I’ve developed for thirty years.   If you’d like to explore it, you can join us at www.lifewritingpremium.com)

Why I prefer “Fallout 4” to “A Handmaid’s Tale.”

There is a horrible scene in the movie “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” where Leatherface, the monstrous, hulking, inhuman cannibal, hangs a girl up on a meathook and then dismembers one of her friends.  The actual dismemberment takes place in the foreground, just below the edge of the screen.  Can’t actually see it.  The real horror in the movie is watching the girl, dying, trying to pull herself off the hook.  In most movies, because young women of childbearing age are the most precious adults in society (last to be killed, first to be protected if possible) her struggles would have been front and center, clear focus.  “Oh my God someone help that girl.”

 

But in TCM, she is out of focus. You have to squint to see what is happening. And that is even more terrifying. Because the filmmakers have put YOU in the position of Leatherface. In his warped, twisted, homicidal point of view, her death struggles mean nothing.  She is an object.  For me, this might be the most horrifying moment in one of the most frightening films ever made. The Sufis say that the beginning of human evil is to treat human beings as means rather than ends.    And for a moment, that is precisely what Tobe Hooper forced us to do.

 

###

 

In the book and movie “The Handmaid’s Tale”, author Margarete Atwood creates a post-nuclear holocaust dystopia in which women have been conscripted into pregnancy farms, forcibly impregnated.  In this world, all black people have been murdered, shipped off to the radioactive wastelands to die.

images-1.jpg

And the author never comments on it.  Neither did any of the critics. Neither did a single white reader of the hundreds of comments I’ve seen about it over the years.    100% of the attention has been on the forcible impregnations.

 

Focus tells you what is important. If MORE people had commented on the rapes than the genocide, I would grasp that and accept it.  But for NONE of the fans, critics, or the author herself to comment on this…I realized that that book was not about the subjugation of women. It was about the subjugation of white women.   And their abuse was clearly more important than the deaths of 100% of the black people in her world.

 

Atwood can do that. It is her right. But what she cannot do is take it back, claim that she DOES care.    No.  If it slipped her mind, there was simply no concern. It was a plot point. She was simply making a case for the evils of Patriarchy.

 

That was her conscious intent. Her unconscious values were displayed by her lack of subsequent comment. And those of her critics and readers likewise. As I read dozens and dozens and finally hundreds of comments over the years, and saw every one of them fail to mention that little thing called “a genocide for your entertainment” I got the point.  Fine. It doesn’t matter to you.  Once its pointed out, you’re embarrassed, but folks, its too late.

 

Remember TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE?

 

##

 

So when a discussion of dystopias came up, and the game “Fallout 4” was compared to “Handmaid’s Tale”, I said I preferred “Fallout 4.”  But…almost everyone has been killed in “Fallout 4”.  Sure, I replied. But “almost” isn’t “everyone.”  My children might have survived.  I’ll go with that.  There will be discomfort about this reaction from some.   The unspoken discomforted reaction would be: “but…but…think of all the white people who died!  Surely you wouldn’t value their lives so cheaply!  Surely its better for all of you to die so that some of us can live…

Umm…actually, no.

But anyone with the nerve to actually say that out loud has my respect, in a sick sense.

##

 

What about the television show?  I gave it a chance.  First episode: a woman and her family. She is white, in a mixed relationship with a black man. My automatic thought: “let’s see how they treat him.”  Within ten minutes, he is apparently killed, by an off-screen gunshot.   I finished watching the episode. Although there is a bit of diversity on view, no other black men.  Fine.  I understand my value to these filmmakers.

 

I also understand that later in the season, the husband came back. That gunshot was an okey-doke.  “Just wait!” people say.  “You should have kept watching…”

 

No.  Sorry. I’ve seen probably a hundred movies in which the only black character (or only black male character) dies, while white life goes on just fine. Not ONE American film where the opposite is true, and I’ve challenged readers for a decade to prove me wrong.   The only time I’ve seen all the white people die in a film like that is in movies that were specifically antagonistic to the white characters, like Bruce Lee’s “The Chinese Connection” or some Japanese movies dealing with the occupation.    That’s anger. Fear.    I get it.   I can deal with it.

 

But I don’t enjoy it.  And no, I have no trust to extend to people who don’t grasp how fucking painful it is to be surrounded by people who on a deep unconscious level think it would be entertaining for all of the people like you to just…die.

And no, I’m not going to look past it to see this profound meditation on “The Patriarchy” because I notice that all the women who liked that book and movie were as complicit and oblivious as any of the men in the movie. Yeah.  They would, in other words, I believe they would be just as likely to commit the same horrors.

 

I can deal with the idea of this being a HUMAN problem.  I can take the position that, were conditions reversed, black people would create images just as homicidal and unconsciously genocidal.

 

But I’m not going to say: “this is a male problem” unless I also get to say “this is a white problem.”   Both or nothing, people.

 

So…it’s a human problem.  Deal with that.  Or deal with your own reaction.

 

It’s not my responsibility to ignore the deaths of everyone who looks like me, to empathize with the terrible things happening to women who look like you.

 

In that fantasy world, I don’t care about ANYBODY.  Will sit back and watch bad things happening to the people on the screen and laugh.

SPOILER

Remember “Psycho”? Where you thought Janet Leigh was the lead character, and after her terrible death there is a sense of disconnection?  Who do I identify with? Where is the center of good in this world?

Why…it’s Norman Bates, who is strange, but at least loves his mother.  We seek to find someone to identify with to walk us through any film or novel.

What happens when there is a pattern of people who look like you being murdered in movies? Why, you stop wanting to identify with them. You actually start identifying with the people who look like the people who killed them.   Kind of like little black girls in the South thinking white dolls are prettier than black dolls.  Toxic as hell.   THIS IS UNCONSCIOUS.   NO, I’M NOT SAYING WHITE PEOPLE DID THIS DELIBERATELY.

It is the natural outcome of the tribal behavior programmed into us at a deep level, perhaps even neurological.   You have to deliberately “lean into” that wind to avoid being tainted by it. Pretending that the “playing field is level” is just saying that you want Tribalism to win. This pattern can be seen mostly in those who benefit by the tilt. Ahem.

###

But enough about “Handmaid’s Tale.”   “Fallout 4″… has potential, there with the few wretched survivors scrambling in the ruins fighting over rat meat.   Yeah. I like it.  Bad for EVERYONE.    If it has to be bad, yes, I like that better.

 

 

Fallout.jpg

 

Steve

(The stories you tell determine the world you see. The stories you enjoy tells about the world in your heart.  Afrofuturism is an exploration of what happens when you learn to create and consume consciously.  www.octaviatoblackpanther.com)

Is this the ultimate success pattern?

8:15 AM

I’ll be giving three talks at the Willamette Writer’s conference this weekend.   One on Afrofuturism, one on “A book a year in a sentence a day” and one on Lifewriting.

 

Lifewriting is where it all began. I’d studied various success strategies most of my life, ranging from THINK AND GROW RICH to Musashi and others, but it was a hodge-podge. Then one day about 28 years ago I was teaching a “Writer’s Toolbox” class at UCLA, and we were motoring.  I mean, I was really on fire that day, and giving these students a machine-gun serving of flow state management, brainstorming, time management, structure, character, and on and on.

 

Then one of the students raised his hand.  “Mr. Barnes,” he said.  “You’ve taught us all kinds of great techniques, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to use them.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Because my wife doesn’t understand my goal of being a writer, and the kids need a lot of my time and are always interrupting, and my job burns up all my spare time…”

 

I listened to him, and as I did, something happened.  There is an expression that from time to time life gives you a cubic inch of opportunity.  Either you take it, or it’s gone forever.  This has happened to me distinctly at least a dozen times, and this was one of them.

 

“Well,” I asked.  “If you were a character in a story you were writing, and at the end of that story the character got everything he wanted, what would you have him do next?”

 

You could have heard a pin drop in that room. Steam was coming out of his ears as his brain scrambled to make sense of what I’d said.  Then he slowly started speaking.

 

“Well…maybe I could exchange some household chores–things that are more intense but less time-heavy.  My wife would probably like that.  And I could enroll the kids in how cool it would be to have a dad who was a published author. And…I could take my lunch to work, so that I could work from my desk…”

 

I was stunned.  The same guy who had been totally stuck suddenly was mind-storming (solitary brain-storming) like a champ. WTF?   I asked the rest of the room the same question, and the next half-hour was filled with some of the most creative flow I’d seen in years.  Amazing.

 

I went home that night and asked my wife Toni what she thought about what had happened, and she agreed I should.  A couple of weeks of research followed, leading me to the work of Joseph Campbell, who said something to the effect of: “cultural stories are depersonalized personal dreams. And personal dreams are personalized cultural myths.”

 

In other words, the stories we tell as a culture reflect and spring and influence our personal lives and the stories we tell about them…and vice versa.

 

 

##

 

There are a lot of ways to interpret the Hero’s Journey, the core “meta-myth” Campbell describes in THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES.   What I asked myself was: what if this meta-myth is universal because it is a way of looking at the process of life, the process of accomplishing any goal at all?  If it is the village elders telling the young folks what their lives would be like?    I looked at several different interpretations of the Meta-myth and extracted a nine-step sequence.   After almost thirty years I added a “zero” step to the process. What I did then was to organize everything I knew about success in any arena so that each major step related to one of the stages of the HJ.  To my fascination…it seemed to fit very, very well.

 

0–The Ordinary world. This is the steady state existence.   It will not change without a specific stimulus.

1–Hero confronted with a challenge.  Something happens that changes the world, some realization that you need to reduce pain, or an awareness that greater pleasure is possible.

2–Hero rejects the challenge.  Usually due to fear. “If I change, it will hurt”.  FEAR mastery is critical here.

3–Accepts the challenge.  The character must DECIDE to act.  He may not have any idea precisely what he is going to do, but he has to reach that “Patience my ass, I’m gonna kill something” phase.  Preferably, he writes his goal down, and gives himself a deadline.  SELF-LOVE is a crucial attribute. We’ll do things for our children we won’t do for ourselves.  Begin to see that taking care of yourself is the best way to care for your family. And yes, both men and women have this problem.

4–The Road of Trials.  This is simply the gap between where he starts and where he wants to end up.  Daily actions.  This can last days, weeks, months, years, or longer, depending on the breadth and depth of the goal:  “there are no unreasonable goals, just unreasonable time-lines.”   The MORNING RITUAL to implant goals deeply and align emotions works like gangbusters.

5–Allies and Powers.  The modeling of people who have accomplished your goals.  What powers of mind, body, emotion do they have that you do not?  Begin to develop them.  You must DEFINE what the missing pieces are before you can figure out how to learn or acquire them.

5–Confront Evil, Fail.   It is impossible to move from one level of your life to another without running into obstacles. If there was no obstacle, you’d already be there, or you’d be smoothly moving in that direction.  YOU WILL FAIL.  AGAIN AND AGAIN.   Get over it.   You KNOW this, from learning to walk and talk and ride bicycles.  Why we forget that crucial lesson is a serious philosophical inquiry. Personally, I think it is because our egos force us to forget the very keys to self-growth, because change means ego-death..   But you need to study the lives of your role models so that you can SEE that its coming.

6–Dark Night of the Soul.  Crushing depression can follow the sense that all your innate capacities are insufficient to the task at hand. Your dreams are doomed. Why bother?

7–The Leap of Faith–the leap of Faith is the way through the Dark Night. And it is always faith in one of three things: faith in yourself, faith in your companions, or faith in a higher power.  You need to have SOME kind of faith, or the “Dark Night” will kick your butt, knock you off your game, and send you back to the beginning like some cosmic emotional game of Chutes n’ Ladders.

8–Confront evil, succeed.  If you have done everything right, most stories lead to the character overcoming the obstacle.  Sometimes they get what they NEED instead of what they WANT (Rocky, for instance) but we tend to believe that focus, hard work, refusing to succumb to pale thoughts and gathering a powerful team leads to success.

9–The Student becomes the teacher.  Once you have completed a cycle, you learn more by teaching and sharing with others than by focusing on your own crap.  You are also paying back the teachers who helped you.   This step is critical.

 

 

All I had to do was see any goal I had as a movement along this path. Imagine a successful journey, and lay out the resources I would need to “win” assuming my process would follow the pattern.

 

Then begin, and pay attention to the results I’m getting, and see what I need to improve:

  1. Do I need clearer goals?
  2. Do I need better or more role models to extract the “critical path” of action, rather than idiosyncratic behaviors successful people just happen to practice?
  3. Do I need better control of fear or doubt?   Need to love myself more?
  4. Do I need better allies and mentors?
  5. What new abilities do I need to learn, and have I modeled the method to learn them?
  6. Have I been honest about the inevitability of failure along the path?  What have I done to prepare for it?
  7. What do I have faith in that is bigger or deeper than my ego and ego-needs?
  8. Do I celebrate my small victories, to develop the emotional power to go after the large ones?
  9. Do I honestly share my experiences, failures and victories to others so that they can model me if I am an appropriate teacher for them?

 

 

All of that is off the top of my head.   For almost thirty years I’ve taught and explored this process, and have been unable to falsify it. It hasn’t always succeeded, but it has ALWAYS shown me where I am in a given life path, and what I need to move forward.  Often it diagnoses what I did wrong that led me to a dead end.

 

And I offer it to you to get a conversation going. Choose a goal: something involving career, relationships, or your physical body.  Where are you?  Where do you want to be?  What do you have to do next?

 

 

Can you take your favorite success principles and organize them on this ten-step pattern? If you will take the time to do that, you may find the results amazing.

 

 

Namaste,

Steve

www.lifewritingpremium.com

The Story of Medicine Mouse

(When Nicki was a baby, when she was sick we would give her medicine.  And there were shots, and suppositories, and things we rubbed on her chest, and dropped in her ears…and pills or fluids we fed to her.   “Mouth Medicine” we called it. And she repeated that as “Medicine Mouse.”   I loved that, and later, when she was worrying about something bad that had happened to her weeks before, I told her this story:)

##

Once there was a baby bird,  innocent and trusting, surrounded by peace in the egg. And loved in infancy: sheltered, nurtured, fed, cooed over, fed delicious worms.  But then on first flight, he didn’t do well, and his parents and siblings and all of the other birds mocked him, told him he was a disappointment.  That he wasn’t smart, or handsome, or good enough.   When he finally learned to fly he wobbled, and  banged into a branch and said: “I never want to hit that branch again!” and got himself a bag, and put the branch in the bag.

 

“Ah!  Now I’m safe!” he said.   And he enjoyed flying…for a while.  Then he hit another branch and said “ah hah!  I’ll just put that branch in my bag as well!” and did so. And didn’t notice that although he would never hit that branch again, the bag was getting heavy, and he couldn’t fly quite as high.

 

And started bumping into tree trunks. And would peel off the bark and put it in the bag.  And then after a while the bag grew so heavy he couldn’t fly at all.

“Well…I can run!” he reasoned.  And did so, and for a time he ran, hauling the bag, and everything was fine.  Until he tripped over a root.  Dug up the root and put it in the now-burgeoning bag.  And while he felt “safer” the bag was now so heavy that he couldn’t run.   Then he tripped over a rock, and put that in the bag too.   And then couldn’t walk. And then couldn’t crawl.

 

And lay trembling on the forest floor, clinging to the bag that held everything that could hurt him.  Safe.  But helpless.

##

In the forest there was a cute little rodent who was a healer, and everyone called him Medicine Mouse.  And Medicine Mouse traveled through the grass and the ferns and the rocks and by the streams and the gullies looking for people to help. And came across his friend the bird, trembling in the dirt waiting to be found and eaten.

“What’s wrong?”  Medicine Mouse asked.  And his friend Mr. Bird told him.

 

“Hmmmm…” Medicine Mouse  said, stroking his chin (as doctors do.)  “Hmmm…does it hurt when I do THIS?” and tugged at the bag, and Mr. Bird shrieked.

“I NEED my bag of roots and branches and bark and rocks!” he said.  “They keep me safe!”

 

“Hmmm…” Medicine Mouse replied.  And said “I can see that this is serious.  We need to operate at once: you need a bagectomy.”

 

And Medicine Mouse fed Mr. Bird a root that helped him sleep, and as he did the wise mouse took the bag out of  Mr. Bird’s hand, and buried it. And while Mr. Bird was drowsy, Medicine Mouse whispered in his ear: “You don’t need to carry the roots and bark and branches and rocks any more. They do not protect you.   Knowing that they exist is useful, but it is even better to just seek the clear sky.  The space between the trees.  Fly free.”

 

And when Mr. Bird awakened, he was afraid at first that he had lost his bag. And for a while, even had what Medicine Mouse called a “phantom bag”, as if he still carried it.  But that faded as well, and when he flapped his wings and flew, he joyfully discovered that the forest wasn’t a bad place after all.  That the sky was not a strange and frightening place, so long as he paid attention.

In fact…it was his home.

 

####

 

The story you tell about your life determines the results you get. I knew that in coaching.  And I came to understand that the same thing is true on a cultural level. That you can stop an individual by scrambling their sense of self.  And you can do the same thing to a people if you erase their memories of who they are, and implant lies.

 

It never happened.  And if it did…you deserved it.  Just get over it” the abusers and their allies whisper.

 

And until you have truth, you cling to your wounds, and you cannot fly.

 

 

Namaste,

Steve

www.octaviatoblackpanther.com

Perpetual Emotion Machine

 

IN a recent discussion of cynicism, someone said that hers was the result of having been frequently disappointed.   The following comment was made in response:

 

I have a very good friend who isn’t on Facebook who is kind of in this category. When life kicks you down and then kicks you WHEN you’re down from the time you’re a child and continues to kick harder for not having skills that you should have from a childhood of not-kicking, it tends to make you very skeptical about good things. 

Sometimes, I think cynicism is externalized depression. It sure is in that case.”

 

###

 

This is good stuff, giving an opportunity to explore and adapt some basic concepts of self-love.

 

If you expect the worst, you are rarely disappointed.  Lower your expectations as a means of avoiding pain.  Stay numb, as opposed to keeping an open heart and getting crushed, again and again.

 

Totally understandable.  Let’s apply the “Ancient Child” approach to this, shall we?  (I’m going to apply a specific thought to each step, but there are other things one can do, and other ways to interpret or define the stages, of course).

##

 

Once upon a time, there was a broke writer named Steve. He had a chance to pitch to a television show with a problematic premise, and devised an idea he thought would work, but that he would also feel proud of.   When he pitched that idea, the men who held the checkbook vetoed it, said that it would take the “fun” out of their weekly mass murder.  Steve was too desperate to walk away, and tried to come up with new ideas they might like, but nothing worked, and they showed him the door.  Once outside, he heard the voice of the little boy in his heart saying “what’s wrong, Daddy? Why did you have me talk to those terrible men? Don’t you love me?

 

And stopped talking to Steve.  Cut him off from his creativity and joy. Leaving him alone and horrified at what he had done.   Because what Steve had done, unwittingly, was very much like sending your children to work in the coal mine rather than working there yourself. Or worse…whoring your child out for money.

 

For a year, Steve struggled to keep writing, but it was miserable, had no soul.  He remembered a broken  writer whose business card read: “Freelance Hack and Literary Mechanic” and understood why the man had died of alcoholism.  Finally, one of his teachers suggested that he create a safe space in his meditations, a place that little boy loved in childhood, and meet that child there to apologize.

It was the beach, and every day Steve would bring a basket of toys and goodies, and for the first six months(!) nothing happened. No Little Stevie to be seen.  Then one day Steve noticed that toys he had left the previous day had been played with. And some of the food eaten. Tiny footprints in the sand. And a distant image on the horizon.

 

Day by day Steve returned to the “beach” and that little image got closer and closer…and one day Little Stevie ran to his arms and said “where have you been, Daddy?   I missed you so much.” And they cried together.  And Steve swore on his life that he would never leave Little Stevie alone again.

 

And never has.

 

##

 

Let’s unpack this story I…ahem…heard from someone once.  General principles applied in a specific circumstance in a specific way.

 

  1. First, there was a time you were nurtured and protected, before the damage kicked in. The evidence?  You’d be dead if you weren’t, from “failure to thrive.”
  2. By meditating and visualizing the “light” inside your body, then condensing the “light” into a human form, you will create a “child” self. The size and apparent age of this child will correspond to the period before the damage occurred.
  3. Commit to protecting this child, no matter what, even if it costs your life.  Tap into the core survival “protect the children” programming wired into human beings at a deep, deep level.  Imagine your own child…or tiny niece or nephew cowering behind you, and allow yourself to feel what you would do to protect them. Feel that protective about YOURSELF.
  4. The more prepared you are to go all-out to protect that “child” the less predators will want to do with you.  “I don’t have to outrun the bear.  I just have to out-run YOU” as one hunter said to another. That’s the ugly truth.  There is always a weaker victim, and that’s where they will go.  (Becoming the protector of OTHER children is another subject. In case of cabin depressurization, PUT YOUR MASK ON FIRST!!!)
  5. There are various techniques you can use to strengthen the communication between the “child” and the “adult/parent/protector” personality.    Meditate deeply enough to hear her whisper.   Give her a crayon and let her draw a message.  It may take time before she believes you will protect her.  In my case, a violation required a year.
  6. Once you have that connection, ask what the “child” wants. What her dreams are.  Harlan Ellison said “success is bringing into existence, in an adult sense, your childhood dreams.”  I believe that it is not possible to hold a dream in your heart without finding a way to fulfill its essence.  Your first task as an adult is to navigate the adult world in alignment with those dreams. If you can find a way to connect them, you will find all the energy, aliveness, and passion you need. Remember: WHAT you want to do is important to know.  But WHY you want to do it is critical. Connecting your “why” to your child self is a short-cut to focus, and focus over time leads to mastery.

 

 

Love yourself.  If this is hard, love the child within you, enough to be willing to fight to the death for her.  Once you hit that place, you will find her offering you her full heart, all of the love you have ever sought.  No one will ever be able to manipulate you by withholding love if you have all you need from within.

 

It is the closest thing to a Perpetual Motion Machine you’re ever going to find, and something of a miracle if you’ve not experienced it.  A “Perpetual Emotion Machine” perhaps.  Yes. I like that.

 

All you’ve ever wanted was the love and peace you experienced in childhood, in the womb.  And its hiding in the last place most people look…their own hearts.

 

 

Namaste,

Steve

 

(The “story” you tell yourself about your life is critical on an individual level.  AFROFUTURISM is merely this concept taken to a social level.  Join our exploration of this idea on a free webinar today at 6pm pst.   www.octaviatoblackpanther.com)

Driftwood and Seagulls

There are signs sailors used to know they were getting close to land: driftwood.   Seagulls.

 

When you start writing, there are signs that you are getting closer to your goal of publication: hand-written notes on your rejection slips used to be a great one.

 

“Maybe” instead of “no”.  A kiss instead of a handshake. Lots of indications that you are making progress.

 

My goal is ONE MILLION AWAKE, AWARE, ADULT HUMAN BEINGS.   What does that imply?   That there are far too many sleeping, oblivious, child-people.   People who blame others for their emotions, who believe that the competitive world of consensus reality is of ultimate importance, people who fail to feel the connection between themselves and other.

 

There is an expression to the effect that people will love you if you let them THINK they are awake, but hate you if you actually awaken them.  That nothing is harder than teaching people things when it is in their interest to remain ignorant.

 

For instance, if there is ever a meat substitute that tastes and looks and chews like meat, but involves no animal sacrifice, I suspect that within a couple of generations people will have a hard time understanding how human beings could ever have “tortured and murdered” animals for their flesh.   It just won’t make sense.  Give it a few more generations, and you’ll have people doubting that slaughterhouses ever really existed.

“I’ve never seen one.”

“My grandparents said that they always ate NewMeat, and so did all their friends.”

“People would be shunned for actually killing animals.”

 

And so forth.

 

You go from

  1. “This is the way its always been” to
  2. “You are endangering us to even talk about this” to
  3. “You are insane!  Disruptive!  Ignorant!  How dare you take these actions without consulting me!  You’ll reap the whirlwind!” to
  4. “We’ll repeal this asap” to
  5. “Well, I was right to raise questions” to
  6. “What do you mean?  Its always been this way.  Its YOU guys who supported the problem, not us!”

 

So much fun.  Over the last month, I’ve gotten more of number 3.  I’m insane, disruptive, ignorant.  Insistence that even discussing issues is some kind of cultural suicide. That promoting the idea of equality causes mass murder, that saying “this is problematic” equals “Forbid this!  Crush it with government force!   Now!!”

 

It’s almost fun.   Driftwood.   Seagulls.

Skaw, skaw.

##

In the arena of social justice, it is easy to identify the issues under the issues, and that all of them basically boil down to: “who am I” (what is humanity) and “what is true?” (what is reality) it became obvious that those discussions have been conducted for thousands of years, and there are smart people on multiple answer-tracks.

 

That, for instance, when it comes to “what is humanity?” the nature/nurture debate BASICALLY comes down to believing that social realities are primarily the result of either genetics or environment (yes, its actually more complex than that in terms of interactions, but I think it is honest to say that these are the two big ones).   Political arguments around these issues sure boil down to this, although people will deny it, or deflect and obfuscate until you nail them down with questions like “given the same historical circumstances, would whites have been as damaged by slavery?

 

Anything but a swift and emphatic “yes” is most safely seen as a racist  “no”, and the more mumble-mouthed fumbling and discussion of the success of group X or Y under harsh conditions, the more they are saying they’re in the Nature category without the courage to take responsibility for it.

Don’t settle for the surface discussion if there is a deeper level.  It is a waste of your time. Seriously.

 

Skaw, skaw.

 

Another great one is people actually getting furious with me for suggesting that the sign of a level playing field will be proportional representation in politics, economics, and the decision makers in entertainment.  Wow, this one is great.

If they are upset by this idea, it seems to me that their basic position is that a level field will lead to inequal result, because the people are unequal. Therefore, the use of “proportional representation” is a stealth call for “government pressure.”

 

In other words, they don’t even believe that I believe in equality.  They aren’t even thinking “Steve is deluded.”

They’re thinking “he’s too smart to believe that.   He must be saying that with his fingers crossed behind his back.”   That because they believe inequality is self-evident, I must be a smiling monster.

 

I love that.   That is SO cool!     Because I know what I am, and I ain’t that.  That tells me that their perceptions are wretched, their understanding of human nature seriously flawed. And diminishes the degree to which I need to respect their opinion on other subjects vulnerable to subjective evaluation and faith.

 

See how that works?   Another fun thing is when they don’t grasp that, were I to lose my belief in equality, my conclusion would NOT be that white people are superior.

Oops.

That is so much fun.  “It would break your heart if it turned out your belief in equality was wrong” someone said just last week.   Seriously.  To which Bad Steve replied:   “Well, it would disappoint me, sure. But if it turned out white people really were weak and evil, I suppose I’d learn to live with it.”

 

Watching their eyes cross as they tried to come up with a reason THAT is a more insulting position than theirs brings joy to Bad Steve.

Bad, bad Steve.  No biscuit.

download-1.jpg

 

Yeah, I enjoy some of this.  I have to.  Because if I let myself really feel all of the pain and fear, some of it would contaminate me, and I’d not be able to do the work.   And the work is more important than I am.

 

So yes, I chuckle a bit.  Otherwise…I’d cry.   They are sleeping children. Sometimes brilliant, yes.  But they don’t see the degree to which they are extending faith to one conclusion or the other.  Octavia Butler told me that her greatest fear about human beings was

  1. Our tendency to be hierarchical
  2. Our tendency to place ourselves and our tribe higher on that hierarchy.

All these people are doing is coming to the easiest, laziest conclusion EMOTIONALLY, then using their intellects to justify it.  And then mistaking that for courage.  They have the COURAGE to be “un-PC” and admit they are superior!

images.jpg

 

 

In fact, in some cases THEY CAN’T EVEN WRAP THEIR MINDS AROUND THE CHANCE THEY MIGHT BE WRONG.  That is a fascinating experience.   Can’t even handle the “what if?”

 

And if you can’t contemplate that you might be wrong?  Can’t deal with the consequences and implications?   I don’t trust you to evaluate whether or not you’re right.

 

 

Namaste,

Steve

 

P.S.–we all create stories about the facts around us. That’s what humans do. And we all try to control the narrative.   All AFROFUTURISM is is the children of the African diaspora  beginning to control our mythology.   Art, film, writing, music, dance…its amazing, and humbling to realize how our ancestors struggled and kept their heads high without this critical psychological leverage.   If you’d like to learn more about it, and haven’t experienced our OCTAVIA TO T’CHALLA webinar, join us tomorrow at 6pm pst.   WWW.OCTAVIATOBLACKPANTHER.COM)

I’m going to be honest: I’ve never seen anything on television at the conceptual level that would be necessary to pull off CONFEDERATE without seriously offending a large chunk of their audience.   It would take an act of either genius or obsession to manage it.    I can think of a show that would please white Southerners. Or white people in general.   But I have a difficult time imagining a show that would please black people. And I’m not sure at all I can imagine a show that made the majority (or even a respectable “chunk”) of both demographics happy.

 

Danger, Will Robinson.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/hbos-slavery-drama-confederate-faces-minefield-fundamentally-problematic-issues-1024598

##

 

I have a student who is in a relationship with a woman who had a very sexual past.   It flips him out.   According to him, she talks about it all the time.    He can’t stop thinking about the other men she’s slept with, and those thoughts are slut-shaming to the max.    There are a few things that he needs to grasp:

 

  1. The problem is his, not hers.  Even if there was something wrong with her previous actions, he either accepts her as she is, or needs to walk away. To stay with her while constantly criticizing her, or repressing terrible thoughts, is good for no one, and unfair to her.
  2. His problem is that he doesn’t love himself. He has no connection to his OWN sense of connection and divinity, and probably finds it in his lady’s arms.  The fact that she has shared this bliss with other men rips him to pieces.  No matter what, he circles around to “why do I have to hear her talk about those other men…”  The answer is: because you’re listening.  She might be talking because she knows it bugs you, and is waiting until it stops before opening her heart.  Or, she might have a problem, and doesn’t notice that it disturbs you.  Or: she might do it because she know it bothers you, and enjoys that.
  3. In all cases, the solution is the same: love yourself.  In the first case, it will transform the relationship.  In the second case, you guys have matching damage and probably need therapy to bridge the gap.  In the third case, you are bleeding emotionally, and she is sniffing after the blood, a carnivore.

 

In all cases, the problem is yours: YOU ARE THERE.  In that last case, the problem isn’t that she’s a carnivore…the problem is that you are Bambi.   At the very least, be Thumper: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

To boil it down:

  1. You are searching for love.
  2. Something, possibly in your childhood, interfered with your healthy maturation process, such that you sought love from outside yourself rather than from within your own heart.
  3. This creates a potential co-dependent relationship.
  4. You are attracted by this woman’s abundant sexuality but repulsed by the very experiences that helped her develop it.
  5. IF she has an issue (I’ve only heard this story from one side.  The heartbroken are notoriously unreliable narrators) then you should either love and support her…or leave.  You have no right to ask her to change.
  6. IF she is unhealthy, then the important thought is that she is also the best you can do, right now.  To attract and hold someone healthier, he would need to be healthier himself.
  7. My best recommendation would be celibacy for at least a year, during which you works to connect with that sense of love within yourself, balancing your male and female selves.  Take responsibility from a position of “I wasn’t ready for her” and stop expecting her to be MOMMY for you if you cannot be a loving, nurturing DADDY for her.  It is not fair, or right, or mature.

##

And all of that is IF she has an issue.  Really, my best guess is that the problem is his. At any rate, HE is the only one in the equation he can change.  That’s where you start.

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Did you “get” the story he told himself to create this nightmare?   How he chose to interpret the events?  TOXIC.   Individuals do this.  He is attempting to control HER story, the meaning of her sexual past.   Trust me: people have done this to you. And on a social level, it is constant, a “what do the facts of your existence, your history MEAN?”

 

This is why the third step in transforming the world is “Understand history without guilt, blame or shame.”  On a personal level, on an inter-personal level, on a social level.

 

On a social level, Steve?   But don’t you rail against racism and slavery?  Isn’t that blame?  Isn’t that an attempt to trigger shame?

 

Not to me. Blame isn’t responsibility.   I’m not pointing fingers as much as saying: “look at these universal human behaviors.    Justifying and rationalizing.  Hierarchicalism.  Tribalism.    Dehumanization. We do this to each other.  We are also doing the best we can.”

 

Not everyone using the building blocks of the “Current Southern Apologia” is a racist, but EVERY racist I’ve ever encountered uses those building blocks.  Sorry, but I’ve stopped extending faith. When I hear these excuses, rationalizations and obfuscations, I assume you are either asleep, deluded, or a monster.  Don’t like that?   GET OVER IT, OR GO AWAY.

 

Shame?  No.  I’m not interested in your shame.   I’d rather you just accept human equality between racial groups, and not the mealy-mouthed “I think our souls are equal in the eyes of God” or the “we should all be equal in the eyes of the law” or “we should all be treated with respect.”

 

No.   If that’s as far as you can go, you can be a good person, and even a good neighbor, but you cannot be a brother or sister or ally.

Have a great life, seriously.

But I need to know that you see your soul in my eyes, because I see mine in yours…but will NOT take your damage into my spirit, any more than the lady in question above has responsibility to be other than who she is.  She may be fine the way she is. Or…she may be dealing with some damage.   Hell, everyone is.

 

My community is dealing with damage. But if you think we were driving the bus that hit us, or that your bones would have knit faster after the impact, you cannot be family with me.

I cannot trust you.

 

Namaste,

Steve

(control of “the story” is absolutely critical, on every level. This is Lifewriting. And our OCTAVIATOBLACKPANTHER.COM seminar we’re repeating is so important we’re going to repeat it this Saturday.  Free.  Important.  Join us.)