What They Say, What They Do, What They Say About What They Do (and Vice Versa)

 

 

“The way a person talks about other people in front of you is how they will talk about you in front of other people.”–David Gerrold

 

My friend SF titan David Gerrold was on a podcast recently, waiting to go on a show discussing Star Trek when he heard another guest bad-mouthing people venomously.  His heart sank, and he hung up, deciding not to be a part of such a hate-fest. Luckily, the host understood that something bad had happened, and rescheduled the call for another time.

 

David’s point was that you need to be careful with whom you share a platform; you lend them legitimacy.  Or…they lend YOU illegitimacy.  People presume that water is seeking its own level.

 

So often when a client or friend tells me of a bad relationship they are trapped in, when you ask about how the person behaved BEFORE the relationship began, the clues were right there, in things that the person said or did…or said about what they did, or did about what they said.   Here are some warning signs to pay attention to.

 

  1. Talking smack about previous relationships.  If every previous relationship was bad…THEY are the problem. They are either a bad relationship magnet, or they are blaming others for their own dysfunction.
  2. Talking rudely to others.  Either in your presence, or bragging about things they said to put-down people they perceive as having wronged them.  While everyone enjoys a good “burn” now and then, be wary of people who seem to find opportunities to insult people too often.   That thin skin will one day be triggered by your slightest mistake.
  3. People who deny doing things that you KNOW they did.  Beware of “gas-lighters”.   Sociopathic liars or the garden variety fibber.    Especially the kind who, when finally cornered, just laugh and say they were kidding.  Such people are nightmares once your finances and personal integrity are legally enmeshed, let along your deepest and most vulnerable emotions.
  4. People who cannot admit that they were wrong, ever.  I actually ran into a guy who BRAGGED that he never admitted he was wrong, as if this was a sterling character trait.  No doubt some consider that strength.  They are fools.
  5. People who cannot keep their word.  PAY ATTENTION.  This may be the most critical thing about speech: not only do they tell the truth about what is past, but do their promises and statements accurately predict their future behavior?

 

What they say, what they do, what they say about what they do, and what they do about what they say.    Remember that you will become what you surround yourself with.   Whether “just” friends, or a life partner, be careful.

 

 

We’ll be discussing core concepts surrounding relationships in our FINDING AND NURTURING YOUR SOULMATE class, totally FREE, beginning this Saturday the 16th.  Join us at: www.soulmateprocess.com

 

 

Namaste

Steve

“The Prodigy” (2019)

The mother wonders: is the eight year old boy she brought into the world really her son?  Has she glimpsed another, older, leering presence hiding in his cherubic face?  Is his advanced intellect and stunted emotions indicative of genius, or something far more disturbing? And when her frustrated husband leaves the house, and her child appears in her bedroom at night and asks “can I sleep with you Mommy..?” and crawls into her bed…

 

What in the world is she supposed to think and feel?

 

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A middling entry in the “evil child” genre, what we have here is the tale of a serial killer who dies at the same moment a child is born, and transfers his soul into another body. There, the two souls battle for possession of the body, while his loving parents struggle first to understand what is happening as the boy acts with increasing lethality and damage, and then to believe the ideas presented to them, and then to decide what to do and how to do it.

 

By the numbers, but still engaging if you buy into the notion, I enjoyed “Prodigy” without overly respecting it. The  kid actor, Jackson Robert Scott, does a very nice job balancing positive and negative aspects.  And the best scene isn’t a scene of violence but rather the encounter between the possessed child and an expert in past-life regression. Yerch.

 

But ultimately, we’ve seen this sort of thing before, and there isn’t anything really new here.  I also have some problems with the father’s behavior, which seemed manipulated by author convenience so that they could have the final scene between mother and child alone.  But…like I said, I enjoyed it.

 

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The one thing that works beautifully about “The Prodigy” is how fast they pull you into the story IF YOU BELIEVE THE PREMISE.  Reading reviews, I got the sense that a number of viewers were sitting in the “Its only a movie” position, and criticizing instead of experiencing.

 

Why?  Because the premise is horrifying. And because anyone who has ever had kids has had the experience of wondering what the #$%% is happening with them.  What has posssessed the sweet little darlings.  As a parent you get tired, and stressed, and scared, and see no answers.   “Parenting isn’t hard” a grandmother once said.  “It’s just daily.”

 

The bond to those children is critical…and so is the bond between the parents themselves.  A healthy marriage raises the chances of those children surviving and thriving. In the sense that human life exists to perpetuate itself, the human pair bond instinct, that combination of love and sexual passion, is one of the most powerful human drives.  Considering the number of people who have died protecting their families, or totally changed their dreams and ambitions to provide food and shelter, one could make an argument that it is even stronger than individual survival.

 

Love, sex, and faith in a shared future creates a massive overload, shorting out other thought and creating obsessive behavior. You REALLY need to be careful in who you allow access to this “wiring” in your head and heart, because it is so damned powerful.

 

On a physiological/psychological level, it is the doorway to the “Soulmate” experience, a level of passion and connection strong enough to create a bond that will survive a lifetime of extreme stress.   And it seems to be independent of whether the lovers are gay or straight, or even whether or not they have or want children. The WIRING is there, and when you respect it (even if not yielding to it) it can guide you.

 

Is your potential partner healthy?   Energetic?  A problem-solver?  Honest?  Have a good sense of humor?  Passionate? Compassionate?   Creative?  Emotionally stable?   Forgiving?  Strong and protective?  Nurturing?

 

Aren’t all of these characteristics things you would want in a partner, whether you are raising a child or not? Of course they are. And the more of them the partner is missing, the more likely you are to have problems.

 

And the most beautiful thing? Approached correctly, the mating drive motivates you to be a better, stronger, healthier person whether you are looking for, or in, a relationship or not.   These characteristics also make a healthy individual.

 

If you would like to look more deeply into the SOULMATE PROCESS, the five-week class starts this Saturday the 16th.  TOTALLY FREE as we learn what we need to communicate this life-changing concept that begins with loving yourself so deeply that you are willing to settle for nothing less than the best, and are totally happy alone if need be.

 

To register, please visit WWW.SOULMATEPROCESS.COM.

 

Namaste

Steve

Mystery Is My Hobby

 

Why do I write stories of the fantastic and bizarre? Because my mind has always worked that way. And because I went looking for oddness, sometimes it found me. This isn’t the strangest story I have…but it was a life-changing one.

Oh yes. It was

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This happened about thirty years ago.   I was at LAX airport, awaiting the arrival of my guru, Sri Chinmoy.  I’d had a phone call from one of his other students telling me that Chinmoy was coming through on his way to Korean, taking a three hour layover and spending that time with those students who might gather to see him.

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I’d been studying him for about ten years, and studying WITH him for about three, I’d reckon.   He had fascinated me because, although a meditation instructor, he had some unusual characteristics.  He’d written hundreds of books, thousands of poems, and a MILLION little bird-drawings.  He recorded music with about twenty instruments (to this day, I use his flute music for meditation. The other music…well, let’s say he doesn’t seem to have been classically trained, and leave It at that), and had many notable students who raved about the power of his presence, including Carlos Santana and Roberta Flack.

 

So from all of that, and his words and lectures, I got the impression of a deeply spiritual man whose teachings were more or less in alignment with the traditions I’d followed previously. But what blew me away, what made me do a real Scooby-take (urrrr?) was his physical dimension.    The guy was an ultra marathoner, and encouraged his students to engage in sports, to anchor their bodies to the earth.  More than his 24-hour running sessions, he also performed freaky feats of strength, including a one-armed overhead lift of various dignitaries and notables (the expressions on their faces were priceless) and leverage lifts of planes, cars, and small crowds.  It was pretty spooky to watch, and the most impressive was a SEVEN THOUSAND POUND barbell held in an overhead lift.

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(the picture above is from a much lighter lift, obviously)  Witnesses said he lifted it, one-armed, about an inch.  I’ve seen the photos, and can’t swear that he lifted it. However, what I CAN say is that THE BAR BENT with the pressure he applied.   Body Building champion Bill Pearl was one of his students, a man of huge strength and serious experience in the iron game, and he witnessed several of the events, and told me that he has no idea how Chinmoy does it–that he considers it superhuman.

 

I will say that the above factoids are what lured me into becoming a student: of all the spiritual teachers I’d ever heard of, the physical, material things he did came the closest to seeming like real-world miracles. No, it wasn’t as impressive as, say, levitating a dime. But anyone who can do all those things is someone who is clearly operating at the outer edges of human capacity, something I’ve always loved studying.

 

And eventually…I saw more.

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So I’m at LAX, waiting for him to get off the plane, wondering what this miracle man would seem like in person.  I expected him to walk off the plane strolling like a human tiger.  But when he came, it was odd. He moved a little clumsily, it seemed.  I’d expected him to have the body-mind dynamic of a martial arts master, but instead it was almost as if he wasn’t in his body. As if he was…operating a marrionette.  Pulling strings from ABOVE his body, as it were. Hmmm

 

We all went to an alcove were about fifty adherents were gathered, with a sort of low platform with a comfortable-looking chair positioned  in the middle. He sat, talking to us in a low, pleasant voice, of spiritual things. But what was odd was that he kept wiggling, constantly rotating his ankles with crossed legs, almost like a squggly child who can’t keep still.

 

Then…it happened. I knew that potential students had to submit a photo to him, and that he went through some process to determine if the student was appropriate.  I’d felt lucky to be chosen, but also took it with a grain of salt.

 

Well…a senior student came to him, bringing an envelope of photographs, potential students.  He started looking through them, slowly.    His eyes vibrated side to side as he did.   For maybe fifteen minutes this continued, him staring at the pictures, his eyes flickering.  I got impatient and started to say something, and the person I was sitting with, who had originally invited me, put a hand on my shoulder to silence me.

 

And then…I noticed that something was wrong in the room. The light was funny. He wasn’t backlit, but I noticed there was a slight nimbus shining around him.  It was steel gray/yellow and started at his right shoulder, flowing up around his head down to his left shoulder, maybe 3-4 inches beyond his skin. I blinked hard, thinking that maybe something was wrong with my contact lenses.   Looked at the lights.  WTF..?

 

No, that light was there.  Reminded me of a layer of lemon Jello or something.  I’d never seen anything like that at ALL.  After about five minutes, it faded…and about three minutes later, Chinmoy came out of his trance, and the talk continued.

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After it was all over, I very very carefully asked a couple of people if they had noticed anything…odd…with the light.   None had.

 

The guy who had invited me heard my question sand asked why I was asking, and he laughed. “Oh, that,” he said.  “That was a gift from Guru to you. You have the kind of mid that has to be shown.”

 

##

 

Hey, I’m a visitor in this territory. Just a tourist. Hell, I don’t know!   But years later, Harley “Swift Deer” Reagan from whom I learned martial arts and shamanism, heard the story and disagreed.  “No, Steve.  It wasn’t Chinmoy. It was you.  You were the one who could see.”

 

##

 

Heck. I don’t know. I’ve seen the human aura many times since then, but have no solid opinion about what it means. If I had to make a decision, I’d say it was an “artifact effect”, something created by the human mind, rather than an objective reality outside it.  But to what end?   I suggest something I call a “complex equivalent.”  The brain is taking in a vast amount of information faster than conscious thought. To give you an indication of something unusual going on, or give you access to all of this massive storehouse of information, your brain creates a symbolic representation.  Floating colors, perhaps. Sensations.  Auditory cues, things just at the threshold of consciousness.  And you can learn to interpret them, in time.

 

That strikes me as the most likely answer. But the truth?  The truth is that I don’t really know. The story above is about as true as I can remember, and still puzzles me.  It happened, but I don’t know what it means: I know what different people have SAID it means, and I know what conclusions I reach after researching and meditating for almost thirty years after the event…

 

But I don’t really know. And the coolest thing?  I don’t need to.  Hey, who doesn’t love a good mystery?

 

 

Namaste

Steve

www.sunkenplaceclass.com

Liam’s Sin Is Ours As Well

“Who hurt you?” the boy asked his friend, who had been brutalized.   The description was given, and a fountain of hate and anger erupts in a young heart.  Seizing a weapon, the boy stalks the night in search of anyone, ANYONE, who looks like the perpetrator.   He must defend his friend.  His tribe.  He seeks…a black man to beat into the ground, the flames of anger and fear consuming morality and reason.

 

And many years later, Liam Neeson admits that he did this.  Triggering fear and anger in others.  Especially those who have felt such emotions themselves, and are ashamed.

 

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https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/liam-neeson-rape-black-man-attack-cosh-cold-pursuit-sexual-assault-interview-a8760866.html?fbclid=IwAR1j0GyEI_LOcIhJsBGxaiXIcwrr8jB-lXuJlHgY7ES6gSST_3-ve___Msc

 

There is no question that his internal dialogue would have been racist as hell.   None.   But the man who ADMITS this behavior soberly and with sorrow, is precisely the sort of human being I love.

 

Is there anyone who hasn’t had loathsome self-talk?   Cursed your parents?   Wanted to hurt the driver who cut us off on the freeway?  Wanted OUT of a relationship, with venomous self-talk about “that person”?

 

So if the attacker had been a Brit. Or a Chinese, or a Frenchman.  Or from a rival school. Or is a fan of the other team.     How about voters for the other candidate?   The “tribal” thing clicks in:  “one of theirs attacked one of ours. Even the score!”

 

It’s the Hatfields and McCoys, killing each other for generations over a wandering pig.  “Those” Hatfields.  “Those” McCoys.  Hate them because they are who they are.

 

If you can honestly say that you’ve never had such a thought, never “othered” someone and wanted to do them wrong, never had a family member or friend hurt by a “them” and gone red-hearted and hungry for payback…then it is legitimate for you to, perhaps, fail to grasp how basic and human this is, how honest and mature Neeson is being to admit that this happened.

 

Isn’t this what we want?   Don’t we NEED people who look at their own earlier behavior and distance themselves? Learn from who they were?    How about people able to look at social history and do the same: “my parents did this. It was wrong.  Terribly wrong. I will not be a part of this.”

 

If you defend the behavior, the sin is yours.   Confession is the road to awakening, the path to healing.  EVERYONE NEEDS FORGIVENESS.   “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” a believer might well put it.

 

And this is more than any single spiritual tradition: you find this thought EVERYWHERE.

 

Christianity says “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

 

Buddhism says:  “The faults of others we see easily; our own are very difficult to see.”

 

Sikhism says: “Those who quarrel with others, instead of quarreling with their own hearts, waste their lives.”

 

By the way, IMO it is a waste of time to try to determine where this principle originated, as if there was some sublime enlightened being who saw something ONCE which then spread around the world.  No.  This is common folk wisdom. Observable truth.   There was no original thought.  It was just something which, if one lives long enough…you see everywhere in action.

 

If we pillory people for admitting past errors, all we do is discourage people from honesty, from self-reflection, and ultimately from growth.  And because none of US are free from sin, from evil, from the horrid thought or deed, ultimately we define ourselves as twisted things, unworthy of redemption or love.

 

We become horrors.   Pale shadows lurching through our own purgatory, seeking not to lift ourselves up but to drag others down into our own misery.  We are the zombies, the were-creatures, the vampires, the cannibal killers.

 

Inability to love and forgive ourselves, and then extend that humanity to others, is one of the doors to hell.

 

I say that I am horrified by what happened to his friend, and also by his reflexive urge for vengeance. And proud of a man strong enough to risk his public image by revealing a private misery.

 

Isn’t THAT what we want? To cleanse the wounds so that they can heal?  Should we expect a perfection that cannot exist? Or ask people to lie about their weakness?  We talk about “toxic” behavior. Aren’t WE creating it with our lack of forgiveness, even to those who humble themselves?

 

If it is not safe to be weak…we pretend to be strong.

 

Again, if we do that to others, can we possibly avoid doing it to ourselves? Our children?  When Jason mouths off to me at night, running to his room and slamming the door, do you think I don’t know he’s waiting to see my face in the morning?  Do I forgive?  Do I understand he’s doing the best he can?   Does he get another chance at being a loving being, or must he carry the rock of his sins upon his back, until he is so bent he cannot stand up at all and joins those crawling in the gutter?

 

Do we not ultimately condemn all mankind if we walk that path?

 

Anyone who knows my martial background knows I take no shit from anyone. NO one lays a hand on me or my family.   But that said…I choose forgiveness, and love. And feeling that the man who can admit such a thing is PRECISELY the sort of man I’d want as a friend and brother, who I would trust to watch my children as I watched his, or watch my back in an alley fight.

 

Condemn him only if you believe you have never had such thoughts. And if you are such an angel…?   I believe you will see the soul within the sinner, and forgive.

 

 

Namaste

Steve

www.sunkenplaceclass.com

A Night To Remember

I was at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, and found myself watching the wonderful Keith (“The Thing” and “They Live”) David being interviewed on the red carpet. Afterwards, I was talking to director Ernest Dickerson (“Demon Knight”) and Keith came over and we all started jawing.

I wondered if I was going to do it. I’d had a joke I’d kept in my mind for YEARS and never thought I’d really have the chance to say to the folks concerned. But then…the opening happened.

“I’ve had a joke I’ve told for years, Mr. David. And it involves you. May I tell you?”

He was amused. “Sure,” he said.

“Well, I dreamed that I saw a theater marquee. The names were Keith David and David Keith, and the title was `Palindrome’.”

He cracked up, and I relaxed. Man, I’d had that one in my head for twenty years! And he laughed. Taa-Daah! There he is, third from the left end, seated next to T. At the very end? Tony “Candyman” Todd!

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Really, the event was great, a celebration of SHUDDER network’s documentary “HORROR NOIRE”, a celebration of black horror films from the earliest (“Birth of a Nation” was front and center) to “Get Out”. Based on the nonfiction cinema book by Robin R. Means Coleman Phd, and executive produced by my wifie Tananarive Due, this is a terrific piece of work: funny, heart-breaking, infuriating, uplifting, and educational. Very well done.

I had so much fun watching T being a star, introducing people like Rusty Cundieff (“Tales from the Hood”, “Fear of a Black Hat”) and Tony Todd (“Candyman”) to a packed house. I know that she felt isolated much of her professional life, and being in a room of “horror heads”, let alone “BLACK horror heads” — meaning black people who create and enjoy horror, and white folks who enjoy it as well — had to feel like a homecoming.

William Crain, the director of 1972’s “Blacula” was there (he’ s on the left end of the picture, next to Tony Todd) , and I had a chance to speak with him too, shake his hand and thank him for his place in history. What a blast!

But the most fun might have been Rusty Cundieff. I’d met him briefly at an NAACP Image Awards lunch, but being able to actually rap with him about “Fear of a Black Hat”, a movie that ranks with “Spinal Tap” as the best music mockumentary, was a blast. Especially talking about the range of music, from the immortal “Booty Juice” (you had to be there) all the way to “Guerrillas in the Midst” which, if you didn’t know it was a put-on, would have been straight-up gangsta. He talked about current plans (not for me to talk about, but I smiled a LOT) and how they designed the songs: some silly and some deadly serious (in context). It was great.

I was happy to have had that conversation, because I couldn’t be at UCLA the day he lectured T’s class. That was a hell of a talk, and we wanted to share it…and will. There’s a little teeny catch. We got Rusty’s permission to use his video to raise a little money for the POOR ORPHANS OF UGANDA fund. It’s FREE: if you’ll make a small donation, we’ll share the video with you. Not a dime goes into our pockets. These are kids experiencing the REAL horror of not enough food, shelter, or clean water. Won’t you help us stop their nightmare?

Then…listen to Rusty talking about “Tales From The Hood 2”, and where he goes from here. It’s a hoot!

All the best,

Steve

www.freehorrortalk.com

On Blackface and Accusations

A couple of events in the last week which, in Black History Month, it might be reasonable to expect me to comment on.

  1. Blackface is anchored to an entire network of insult. It is possible to explain its use under the categories “ignorance” and “obliviousness” but also “callousness” and “bigotry.” I wouldn’t automatically condemn someone who did it, especially in the past, but would listen very carefully to their explanations and attitudes. A clear statement of “oops? God I was stupid” and a crystal clear condemnation of the entire social structure that supported it? I’d probably just shake my head and move on. But…I would be listening carefully for justifications. In other words, there are reasons, but not excuses.
  2. I am disturbed by an accusation of assault when the only witness refuses to let us check the facts. If you say you were on the phone at the time, LET US SEE THE PHONE RECORDS. If the event was real, we need to know, and as the situation has been politicized, it is totally reasonable for those implicated by association to doubt absent proof. Have proof? Put it on the table. And…if I’m not mistaken, felony accusations are false somewhere between 5%-10% of the time. If the accusations are true, WE NEED TO KNOW. If they are true, and we are not convinced, that emboldens the aggressors. If the accusations are false, WE NEED TO KNOW, because if we DO have a wave of assaults, any false accusation becomes a “boy who cried wolf” scenario, endangering innocent people as well as driving wedges.

No matter what happened, true or false, this is dangerous. And no, I don’t automatically believe alleged victims: I believe that a citizen’s testimony deserves to be carefully investigated, neither discounted nor automatically accepted. Either extreme is a dangerous, knee-jerk responses.

I already see people fearing disaster if the accusations turn out to be false. That will only be true if they are widely believed. Otherwise, it isn’t about gays, or blacks, or SJWs or whatever — it would be about one person’s false testimony.

And if the accusations are true? And the evidence thereof is being concealed? That’s even worse. Demons breed in the dark. If people don’t stand up and clearly present their reasons for a position, those demons can strike again, and yet again, knowing that if they choose their victims carefully, they will never be taken seriously until its too late.

There is truth here. And we deserve to know PRECISELY what it is. And right now? We don’t.

Namaste

Steven Barnes

www.sunkenplaceclass.com

“Night of the Living Dead” (1968) and the art of transgression

 

The theater was dark, and cool.   It was midnight, abut 1972, and I felt the darkness as I rarely had before, the black and white images on the screen taking me into a world I’d never experienced.  I was watching Night of the Living Dead for the first time, and I was not happy.

 

Something was happening on the screen that I couldn’t explain.   From “they’re coming to get you, Barbara” through the gathering of the main characters in the lonely house, boarding up the windows and fending off the ghouls, I had a creeping sense of dread that couldn’t be explained by the core images I was seeing on-screen.  I felt that cold to my bones, and began looking around the theater, seeking exits in case the people around me…weren’t really people.

 

Something was WRONG.   This wasn’t a normal horror film, and I couldn’t put my finger on quite why.

 

Maybe it was  the first major casualties, when young lovers Tom and Judy are accidentally burned alive in their truck. That’s bad enough…but then they are torn apart and DEVOURED. Onscreen.  That was an extreme WTF moment, I can tell you.   People stopped  eating their popcorn.   This shit had just gotten real, in a way we’d never seen.

 

Worse than that was the moment when the entire theater went “Oh My GOD!” as a group.  It was the moment that the little girl Karen stabs her mother Helen to death with a masonry trowel.    It seemed to go on forever, spattering Bosco all over the screen.

 

Little girls butchering their mothers?   Beautiful young lovers turned into barbecue?   Both terrible.

 

But there was something else that hit America even harder, I think.  Not because it was worse than a little girl filleting Mommy, but because people couldn’t even articulate what disturbed them.

 

How about the spectacle of a black man taking charge of a group of white people in a desperate fight for life?   Remember this was 1968, just three years after the Voting Rights Act finally gave black Americans full citizenship, in effect finally recognizing their actual humanity for the first time in four centuries.  I have to think what black audiences would think of a movie in which a group of black people were dominated by a brash white man, and realize that yeah, whether they could admit it or not, the images onscreen had to be uncomfortable as hell.  Now multiply that by an order of magnitude: black audiences have seen whites dominating them in films countless times: we’re very aware that’s a favorite fantasy.  But white audiences had NEVER seen anything like this.  (Well…not often.  IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT had come out the year before.   It is just barely possible to consider Ben in NOTLD as an artistic conversation with Virgil Tibbs.  There’s an essay…)

 

Anyway…black men beating the hell out of white men, and then shooting them? And he’s the hero?

 

By the end of that movie, I’m pretty sure director George Romero had delivered one of the most “transgressive” movies in history, crossing lines the audience was unprepared for, so that they could barely believe their eyes, couldn’t even admit to themselves how badly  their expectations and values had been savagely scrambled.

 

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NOTLD is one of the most successful films ever made, earning over 100 million dollars (really, as it lost copyright, it is probably impossible to really determine how much money it made) on a budged of about 150k.  How could it have that kind of impact? Well, in the flow of a well structured, paced, and directed genre film, there were at least three separate events audiences had never seen onscreen before.  And because the creativity was in the script not expensive FX, we went for a low-budget journey without the low budget damaging the experience.    And at least part of that “transgression” wasn’t planned: apparently Romero had written the role of “Ben” as race-neutral.  Duane Jones   NAILED the audition, and was cast.  We may never know precisely when Romero knew lightning had struck. At the audition?   During rehearsals?  Performance?  First dailies?  The first screening?  I don’t know, but for sure, he realized he’d done something amazing and unique, something so shocking critics and audiences couldn’t even honestly articulate their shock.  He tried to imitate that same shock in his later films, and certainly in the remakes, even the remakes of the sequels. But you can’t step in the same piece of water twice.

 

What would it take to create that level of “transgression” today…?

 

Maybe a mid-transition transexual would work.  Latino.  With a gay lover.  Or how about the lover being another mid-transition transexual going the other way?   Swap the young lovers for Ben, make them a team protagonist?  Nah…kill one of them, turning the other into an angel of vengence, pushed beyond limits and taking zero shit.  I’d pay to see that.

 

That MIGHT create the same shock, as a very femme stealth lead totally dominates a group of macho assholes.    Done straight, that would make the great heartland FLIP, and you might be able to parlay that into the kind of disorientation, fear, and shock that could then power a classic horror film.

 

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Tonight, I’m driving in to Hollywood to the premier of “Horror Noir” the Shudder Network documentary executive produced by, and featuring my good lady wife the amazing Tananarive Due.  And I know that as I watch it, I’ll be watching a threshold moment: when black film has produced so many excellent movies that there are actual mini-genres within the main genre, a body of work worthy of serious critique and celebration.

 

And it is no mistake that this is also a time in our nation’s history when core questions of being are bubbling to the surface, and voices once silenced and ignored are demanding to be heart.  And I wondered this morning…what next?  Who will be the next to take transgression to the level of art?

 

There are so many possibilities.

 

Women are doing this as they break barriers and demand release from the cultural boxes.  This isn’t new, and we’ve always had movies that broke those moulds…but the pace of change and confrontation is accelerating.    “Silence of the Lambs” tapped into this, to huge effect.

 

Gays are certainly doing this. Something like “Cruising” was almost certainly designed to shock and appall straight audiences, and certainly shot steam out of MY ears.   But the movie that tells a story simultaneously empowering and disturbing?   Not sure that one has hit the screens yet, not in a wide cultural way. And we may have seen too many images for the same shock a NOTLD created.

 

How about immigration?   Really, you’re looking at migration patterns, things far older than national boundaries, and the notion is terrifying to people who believe legal boundaries are realer than those patterns, and especially to those who believe the newcomers are of inferior stock.  They may be polite about it, but what percentage of people do YOU think are assholes?   Whatever you guess, I suggest that the same percentage (not necessarily the same people. A mite defensive, are we?) are racists.

 

Watching “The Day After Tomorrow”, where North America is hit by a nightmare of freezing blizzards and Americans fled to Mexico, wading across the Rio Grande carrying their possessions, was just too rich, in context.   But it was in fun.   Doing that SERIOUSLY, playing out that scenario without a single wink at the audience could trigger genuine fear.   Focusing on a single family’s terror and hope?  Can’t wait to see THAT.

 

Where else can we find transgression? What concepts seem to trigger the greatest fear, discomfort, argumentation?  In the hands of a canny artist, these become FUEL for your art.   But you have to know the basic forms and rules to know how and when to bend them, and where to stick the nozzle.

 

Otherwise, as I suspect happened with NOTLD, you might not be able to do it deliberately (as “Get Out” most certainly did) but you might lurch into it in the dead of night, like a zombie searching for brains.

 

 

Namaste

Steve

(If you love “Horror Noire”, genre film, or the sublime art of artistic transgression, check out the webinar course Tananarive and I have taught for years: www.sunkenplaceclass.com)

“Blacula” (1972): Pain into power

When I was in first grade, I first learned my place in the world. Kindergarten had been great. I still remember the first day, with my mother taking me to Alta Loma elementary school, and asking the nice lady if she would “watch” me for a little while. It was all singing and playing and eating graham crackers and drinking juice from paper cups and taking naps.

But in first grade things changed. We were a diverse group: black and white and Asian and probably some Latino kids as well. Everyone had been together in kindergarten. But when we hit first grade, they separated us into different reading groups. Now note: we had never read in class. THE TEACHER USED HER OWN JUDGEMENT. There were two basic groups, and I got the impression pretty fast that one was “fast” and one was “slow.” My older sister had taught me to read (my very first book was “The Five Chinese Brothers” and I still love it) at a third grade level before I was in Kindergarten, so I KNEW I was bad. They put me in “group one”. I noticed that the white and Asian kids s were in Group II, and then my friend Howard Kokubun went there too. I kinda chuckled. Howard was in the slow group? Man, they had mis-judged HIM. I knew that: he was sharp, probably sharper than me. I chuckled, but didn’t really pay attention to it until they actually had us read.

I noticed that some of the other kids in my group seemed to stumble over their reading. Hmmm. Then it was my turn, and I nailed it. The teacher looked flushed, and embarrassed, and plucked me out of that group and put me with the white kids.

And…I understood. In that moment, in first grade, I got it. They had looked at my skin and ASSUMED I was dumb. Sure, I had earned my way out, because of the love of my sister and the care of a mother who sold World Book Encyclopedia so that we could have a new set of Childcraft every year.

But without that…

And it hit me: the white kids were assumed to be smart. It was theirs to lose. The black kids had to PROVE they were smart. It was uphill. I felt the anger swell inside me, the hurt. The voice that said “screw them. I won’t even try…”

And knew that that would be the worst, most poisonous thing I could do. I remember feeling hurt, and angry. And confused. Like I’d been punched in the stomach by someone I trusted.

Didn’t they see me? Didn’t they love me? I loved THEM. Was something so wrong with me that they ASSUMED I was broken, was less than?

Yes, the teacher was white. But I never held it against her. Even then, six years old, I somehow knew that people were doing the best they could.

At that moment, I learned about race. And began to see its influence in many places, although my mother did all she could to protect me. And I realized that I could live my life in anger and fear, or I could find some way to run toward the things I loved. If the society around me could not see me…I had to see myself.

No, not in those words. That would have been pretty cool for a little kid. But looking back, I realize that was just what I did. God bless my mother, who sacrificed EVERYTHING to give me a foundation of love in my life. I LOVED MYSELF. And therefore, no one could tear me down. The entire world could stand against me, but if Mommy loved me, and Joyce loved me, and God loved me, and I loved myself…then in the final analysis nothing another human being said mattered a damn.

I determine who I am.

###

I was a happy kid, mostly. I loved poetry, and adventure novels, and writing, and being goofy. Hanging out with my Mom and sister Joyce, and fantasizing about a wonderful life…one day.

But I had a secret shame: I was bullied. It wasn’t like I got broken bones and torn skin. Mom would have seen those things. I was mocked for my strange way of thinking, for being unathletic and soft, for being clumsy with girls and a poor dancer, for being someone others could step on as they climbed the social ladder. Boys and girls BOTH — make no mistake. In no uncertain terms was I informed, daily, that I wasn’t “one of the guys” and that I was totally unattractive to the girls.

I just kept going forward, too involved with daily survival to worry about the future. Consciously. But the dissatisfaction, the fear, the anxiety about what might come for me as I grew older gnawed at me savagely. On some level, I knew that this very uncertainty would make things even worse, so like many other kids, I walled it up.

And there…it might have remained. It really might. I know so many people who have walled off their emotions to the point that they cannot feel their own hearts and bodies, and simply live “the life of the mind”…until one day something falls apart, blows apart, and they wonder what happened.

I have no doubt why I liked monster movies. Or love them to this day. There is definitely a part of me that wanted an avenging werewolf of an inner demon to emerge and wreck vengeance on the people who hurt and isolated me.

I could take no comfort in a larger sense of the culture cheering me on. When I watched the kinds of movies or read the kinds of books that spoke of virile manhood, the heroes NEVER looked like me, and when there WAS a character who looked like me…he was servile, stupid, cowardly. Died protecting his white friends. Never got the girl. Was generally an eye-rolling Mantan Moreland or Steppin Fetchitt.

It wasn’t me. Somehow, I knew that, and never let the insult stop me from supping at the fountain. As a fatherless boy raised by women I NEEDED those memes. I’ve put it this way: I sacrificed my melanin on the altar of my testosterone. I peeled my skin off to let the lessons in. It cost me. Dearly.

##

Who was I in respect to men? I didn’t know. Women? I didn’t know. Black people? I didn’t know. White people? I didn’t know. Other children? Bare understanding. Adults? I knew NOTHING about how I was going to leverage myself into the adult world. How was I going to make a living one day? Find love? Raise a family?

No slightest idea. Robbed of any sense of myself as a male, I decided to try just being a human being. I figured that if I went deeply enough into my humanity, I would emerge being whatever it was I really was. And since I had dangly bits, I figured that would be a part of the package.

So I burrowed into my heart, and used science fiction, and horror, and adventure fantasies to bridge the gap between where I was and what I’d need to be to survive. If I could just get deep enough…maybe no one would find me until I was ready to emerge from my cocoon and fly. If I ever emerged.

##

I did, in time. Because although I grasped the attitude the culture had about me, I never lost my sense that people were basically good, basically decent. If I wanted to be forgiven for my own weaknesses and transgressions, I had to be prepared to see the heart behind apparently heartless actions

Meditation, martial arts, love, therapy…all of it tied together to help me survive.

But SF and Horror were always a part of it. They allowed me to externalize my fears and doubts, and personify them in a single lurching golem, a wave of flesh-munching zombies, a seductive vampire, a rampaging giant dinosaur. It helped. I could identify with the heroes and cheer in their survival.

And if I noticed that people who looked like me died more often, and often first, and even more irritatingly died to protect their white friends…?

Sometimes I identified with the monster. When those white kids were being chased in the woods, I have to confess that sometimes I wore the mask. I wielded the chainsaw. If I could not be a child of heaven, I would reign in hell.

Now THAT was a road you don’t to travel very far. And I didn’t. But I’d be lying if I denied it was true.

Remember what I said about sacrifice? I shut my heart to the exclusion and insult, and soldiered on.

Then one day in 1972 a movie called “Blacula” opened. It was cheesy, and campy, but…William Marshall’s performance was one of great dignity and leashed pain. Carrying the burden of his awful appetites and almost incalculable loss, his wounded eyes revealed a soul I’d never seen on film. And if the sets and camera work were cheap…you could FEEL the excitement baking off that movie. The people making it were EXCITED. It was made with love, and pride, a simple meal rendered from simple ingredients, and served to a starving audience with style.

I adored it, cheese and all. And saw ever other black genre film that followed: “Abby” and “Ganja and Hess” and many years later “Tales From the Hood” and the wonderful “Get Out.” And I realize that my son, my daughter, are growing up in a world where they will have more of these essential emotional vitamins, a sense that they belong here, that they can fight back against the demons that devil them.

A better world. Not perfect, but better.

I am SO proud of the standing-room-only classes in black horror my darling wife Tananarive teaches at UCLA, and the media attention that has resulted from it. Television, print, radio…the subject of Horror Noire is hot, and the future bright, if “bright” is an appropriate word to use about such a subject.

And when I see that Jordan Peele’s new movie “Us” will open in a month, and feel the excitement arising from it…wow. What a rush. If I had a time-bottle I could put a message in, would I ever send a golden ticket back to that frightened boy I was, just learning about the real nature of the culture he lived in. Not just telling him that things would change, but that he would be a PART of that change. That the world would not only be better, but that the very pain he experienced would motivate him to create, and teach, and help roll that stone up the hill. Not alone, certainly. Not even the strongest shoulder.

But that pain was not for nothing. The FEAR was not for nothing.

Properly handled…it never is.

Namaste

Steve

www.sunkenplaceclass.com

“Polar” (2019) and the power of love

Recent discussions have triggered some serious emotions, and I wanted to address that. From one reader who felt “blamed” for a catastrophically failed relationship, to another who had lost all contact with the desire to improve life, the concept that we MUST take responsibility for our lives is inextricably linked to loving ourselves deeply: it is the path to connecting to our survival drives. Once you do that, you have all the energy you need, and in fact will have to learn to “dial it down” or you’ll burn out.

Yoga and meditation are your friend.

How do we learn to love ourselves, and find love, if we aren’t raised in loving homes? It can be hard. A reader said:

  • “Thank you for posting this. We don’t have a choice of our core models especially as children..Male or female.. A lot gets jacked in this time period..The first step you wrote Is key. Loving ourselves ♥️ Nothing is really right until we can do that. The rest comes after..”

Amen.

###

Polar (2019)

Why won’t people leave retired assassins alone? What is this suicidal urge to poke the bear? I mean…haven’t any of them seen “John Wick”? Jeeze. Anyway, Mads Mikkelsen goes Wick in Netflix’s “Polar”, a film with absolutely no surprises, but is still a fairly sturdy entertainment if you’re into ultra-violence. And frankly, I won’t lie, there are moods in which nothing else will do.

So the basic story is you have a professional assassin who is just trying to forget his former life. People come after him, in this case because they don’t want to pay his retirement benefits (none of them considering that they themselves will get the same treatment, of course), and along the way he meets a Gurl Who Must Be Protected, and becomes that most lethal of adversaries: a cold-blooded killer with a heart.

If you can’t predict the rest of the beats, you haven’t been paying attention. And it’s “Punisher” level violence, so be warned.

###

This pattern works: a burned out hulk of a human being finds a young girl to protect, and finds his heart. Variations on this can be found in “Leon The Professional”, “The Long Kiss Good-Night”, “Zato Ichi” movies and well…everywhere.

The notion is that we seek love, and will connect to (uncorrupted) others if we cannot find it in ourselves. Young women of child-bearing age are generally the most precious members of society, with pre-pubescent girls and boys next, and a special category of actual infants as the “you must never allow them to be harmed” class, such that running gun battles in John Woo movies will stop to save them. Quite amusingly.

Even hardened killers will throw away their own lives to connect to one of these pure sources. And…that’s probably a good thing. Symbolically, call it NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN CONNECTING TO YOUR HEART. Do this, and you own yourself. And if this connection is broken, if you DON’T love yourself…

You are vulnerable to manipulation on a massive level. When this happens to individuals, you have the potential for abusive relationships, where your identity depends upon the approval of a monster. We will doubt our own perceptions (“Gaslighting”) accept any level of pain, allow them to define us and degrade us, just for those moments in which they smile upon us with approval.

Show me someone who doesn’t love herself, and I’ll show you someone who will attract predators like chum attracts sharks. Some of these humans develop heavy emotional armor, acting “tough” or even minimalizing their secondary sexual characteristics, so that they don’t trigger an attractive response. Unfortunately, it seems that the notion that these behaviors will attract good hearts who will patiently help the “seed of love” within to blossom is a mostly a fantasy. More often, they seem to attract thieves and ghouls who will sledge-hammer, seduce, or lock-pick their way in, and as soon as you expose yourself, sharpen their knives.

This works culturally as well. What in the world do you think the reward, the motivation is to promote a fantasy that a dominated group loves YOUR children more than they love their own (“Mammy” images)? That they will happily die to protect and serve you (“The Green Mile”)? Why, you not only get to justify your abuse of them (“They are natural slaves.”) but you can actually program THEM to think you are more beautiful and sacred. The “Separate but Equal” laws fell in part when it was demonstrated that black children thought white dolls were prettier than black dolls. And some of you reading these words, white and black, are quietly thinking “well, they are…”

Yeah, I know you’re there.

Thank God court was honest enough to grasp the damage, deep and distorting, and “Separate but Equal” fell.

Lets tear apart the version of this in your own heart, shall we?

##

Whether as a group or as individuals, the damage done by an abuser or a society convincing you that you are not lovable and worthy of love makes you easy to brainwash, abuse, control. You will settle for crumbs at a banquet, the “please sir, I want some more” life.

Note that there is a bit of this tendency in many religions and cultures. And while the negative aspect of it should be clear by now, it is important to note that SOME of this hammering down of individual or group ego is inevitable and desirable. A social structure is like an animal body: the individual cells have to subsume individual identity in the group, or a mouse falls apart into a billion amoebas. A village has to stand together as one if they are going to fight off the Huns. In a marriage, you DO have to care more about the family than you care about your individual needs, or it cannot work.

But…this is where “the tragedy of the commons” creeps in. In this thought experiment, you have a village which agrees to sharing a (common) resource equally, and everyone votes to do this. But some creep out at midnight and steal an extra share. So during the day, the notion of equality and fraternity is promoted by the very people who do the most creeping at night.

Applied to societies it is the notion of “we are all in this together” promoted by the very people skimming off the cream. In relationships, if your partner can get you to believe that they are the source of love in your life, the BEST that relationship can be is co-dependent: two people who each feel that the other is the source of good.

They can adore each other, lean on each other, and limp through life. And frankly? That ain’t bad.

But it should be clear that if that is uneven, the relationship is toxic. Worse, you can CREATE a toxic relationship by demanding that the other person be the source of your good. The “I am nothing, you are everything” is a TRAP because no one can live up to it. If they put you on a pedestal you WILL fall off. Then they get to hate you.

##

A healthy relationship is two autonomous adults who are self-contained, but can reach out to each other to become more than they are as individuals. A team.

The healthiest society would be made up of autonomous adults who can come together to achieve things they cannot do as individuals, but are also perfectly capable of standing alone. I’m not sure such a thing has ever existed. Certainly the society is not going to encourage you to feel so free that you become an amoeba and forget the group good. That is called “death” and NO ONE is going to encourage that.

Parents can create such dependence that weak or damaged children cannot achieve escape velocity. If “enlightenment” exists, and there are paths to it that are efficient and effective, it is notable that there IS NO RELIGION that offers this path directly. IMO Buddhism does a fine job of offering it indirectly, but as one wag said, it is a bait-and-switch: “they get you in the door with enlightenment, then steer you to the compassion aisle.”

I love that. They are careful to create a good, loving citizen before the open the door to amoeba-hood. ’Cause real freedom, real courage, real “owning yourself” puts you beyond guilt, blame, or shame. You cannot motivate such people with disapproval. Their values have to be INTEGRAL to their being, not something imposed from the outside. This is a deep subject, but the mundane version of it is in the “open your hand. If the bird comes back, it is yours. If it flies away, it never was.” A healthy adult WANTS their partner to be totally independent. If Tananarive decides there is something better for her, I’d WANT her to go for it. I ONLY want her to be with me if she believes I’m best for her. That’s it. She gets one lifetime, and if I love her, I want her to enjoy that life to the full.

##

All of this comes back to the First Principle of the five steps designed to transform society, “Love yourself”. To connect with that core of love and survival energy within you. This works for people trying to transform the world. For individuals engaged in creative or martial pursuits, and for relationships. Start with love. It heals and transforms.

The later steps: loving another person, understanding and forgiving human nature, avoiding trolls, and winning with integrity…none of them make sense if you don’t start with self love.

What? Forgive my abuser?

What? Not hate those who harmed me?

What? Show mercy when I have advantage?

If you don’t love yourself, the difference between “responsibility” (response-ability) and “blame” is nil. If you hear that you have to take RESPONSIBILITY for your life, you hear the voices of people who wanted you to accept blame and guilt. How do you know the difference?

Responsibility is empowering. You feel STRONGER.

Guilt, blame, and shame are DIS-empowering. You feel confused, divided and WEAKER.

The difference is knowing the center of your being. Connecting with the pure love within you. The “Ancient Child” meditation simply uses the symbol of infancy as a time of purity, ties into the circuitry that has protected helpless infants since…forever.

Films that tap into deep emotion often do similar things: the deadly burned-out monster who finds his heart. The chainsaw-wielding maniac chasing “the last girl.”

(Side note: And if you think the survival of that “last girl” is sexist, you bet it is…but not the way you think. Why aren’t they chasing a “last boy”? Because we don’t care. When you have a teenaged boy being chased by the maniac, the audience will LAUGH at his injuries, mock his efforts to survive. If he can’t protect himself? He’s useless. Kill him. Entertainingly. But have that exact same maniac pursue a girl of the same age? The audience will scream “save her!” Its bizarre. But true.)

Horror, action, relationships, creativity, self-defense…connecting with the love within you is the first step to power. Damaging that connection is the first tactic of an abuser.

TAKE YOUR POWER BACK.

Namaste

Steve

(The ancient child meditation is available free of charge when you are part of the test group for the NEW SOULMATE PROCESS course, starting February 16. You can snag it at: www.soulmateprocess.com. If you want to explore how art addresses the DAMAGE to this basic drive, check out the Horror Noir lectures at: www.sunkenplaceclass.com)

“You Were There”

I was in a hot tub  at a convention, meeting “Ruth” the new wife of an old acquaintance, “Jeff”.  She was a pretty lady, quite verbose, not shy at all about sharing her opinions (or getting naked in a hot tub) and was holding forth on her theories of male behavior.

 

I was interested in general, just sort of wondering what kind of lady “Jeff” had hooked up with, but also because…Ruth was a professional therapist.  She had warmed to her subject, and the others in the tub were hanging on her every word.

 

“Men are assholes,” she said.

 

I raised my eyebrow.  “We are?”

 

She nodded.  “Absolutely.   And I know this, because I’ve been married seven times.”

 

The men in the hot tub wilted under that logic. The women swelled: tell it, sister!

 

I kind of chuckled.  “you know,” I said.  “There’s only one thing in common between all of your marriages: YOU were there.”

 

Immediately I was the focus of hostility. How dare I!   Well, I dare primarily because I care more about truth than I do how much people like me.  And this struck me as the worst kind of self-serving bullshit.

 

She and Jeff were divorced about ten months later.   I kinda hope she tried being a lesbian next, at which juncture she’d discover she’d brought her problems with her  (“No matter where you go, there you are” as Buckaroo Banzai said), and the next step in her devolution might be “women have learned men’s bad habits” or even a total retreat:   “human beings are assholes.”

 

As a final, desperate epiphany, she just might…MIGHT one day look in the mirror and ask the most critical question:  “Or is it just me?”

 

##

 

Most optometrists wear glasses.   I’d noticed that a long time ago, and what it means is that we are attracted to things that impact our own lives.  And with therapists, I sort of suspected that they had troubled families, or troubled relationships, and sought answers.

 

My friend and mentor Jerry Pournelle studied psychology seriously, and actually had a practice for a while.  He did a research paper at one point, examining the success rates of different branches and schools and philosophies of mind.   And found something fascinating: he found NO real difference in the different schools. The results all depended upon the degree to which the patient trusted the therapist. Their CONFIDENCE in the therapist.   And, in a way, the degree to which the therapist embodied the qualities sought by the patient.

 

In other words, one way of putting it is that the patient has to want to grow up to be the therapist.

 

Remember that “Adulting train” we spoke of? The Ericksonian concept that we all want the same things, the rough path described by Maslow’s hierarchy or the yogic Chakras?   Again, broadly:   physical autonomy and security, sexual expression with ethics, control of living environment and a career that supports us with integrity and power, falling in love and creating a family, learning about the world and sharing what we know, aging with dignity and dying at peace.

 

That’s what about 99% of people want, even if they lie about it.

 

So what lessons can we draw from Ruth, the hot tub lady?

 

Once upon a time she was a little girl, who wanted the things other little  girls and boys want: a ride on the Adulting train.   She may not have understood the implications, but her tribe would present her with models and lessons and opportunities to grow and learn where the tracks were, and how to earn her tickets.

 

Something went wrong. Perhaps a lack of role models. Perhaps a few bad experiences. Perhaps something innate.  I’ll never know.  But she began to experience pain along the way. Relationships went wrong, and she asked “why?”

 

The HEALTHY response would be “I’m doing something wrong.  I’m making bad choices in partners or behaviors. I can learn better.  I can DO better.”

 

The UNHEALTHY response would be: “Things are going wrong. If its me, that means I’m broken.   I cannot face that, so I’ll blame THEM.”

 

With the theory that “men are assholes” what is her relationship history going to be?  What kind of men will she attract and be attracted to?

 

And yes, in a sense, it is JUST that simple.  I remember talking to another woman who claimed something similar.  “All the men I meet are assholes,” she complained.   I was riding on a bus with her, and had a little time to probe.   I was interested in what she was really saying.

 

“ALL men?” I asked.  I was interested, because heck, she knew ME, and if she was saying I was an asshole, I wanted clarity.

 

But after a little pushing, the truth came out: “well, not all men.”

 

“And what happens when you meet a guy who isn’t?”

 

She flushed a little, embarrassed.  “I’m not attracted to them,” she said.

 

Oh.  THAT little thing.

 

Get it?  If “men are assholes” is true, then what happens when you meet a guy who isn’t one?    “Not an asshole?  Then you aren’t a man.”

 

My first “real” girlfriend tried to push me into hitting her. Why? According to the lessons she’d learned from her mother, that was what a “real” man did.  He kept his woman in line.  If he wouldn’t bat you around, how could you trust him to stand up to other men to protect you and your children.

 

Needless to say I got out of THAT relationship quickly.  Not immediately, I have to confess.   The implications of her being my first “real” girlfriend should be sorta clear.  Let’s just say that she turned me out, and leave it at that, shall we? Ah, the memories are still steamy…

 

Ahem.  Back to the scheduled programming.   “Men are assholes. Therefore, if you aren’t an asshole, you aren’t a man.”

 

Can you imagine anything more poisonous?   THAT’S the internal definition.   That means that she will either SEEK assholes, or if she’s in a relationship with a “nice guy” she will push him until he BECOMES an asshole…or leaves.

 

If you can’t see the toxicity in this, your eyes are closed.  And no, its not women learning from men–that is an incredibly sexist attitude, and your natural mate would be a man who thinks men learn THEIR bad attitudes from women.  Have fun.  You guys deserve each other.

 

The truth is that both men and women act like human beings, and one thing human beings do is warp their perceptions so that the world matches their image of it, which is connected to their self-image.

 

So…what would be Ruth’s way out?

 

  1. Love herself.  Deeply, and fully.  If you do, you treat yourself the way you would your most precious and beloved child. We see children as vessels of infinite potential.  We KNOW that they are ignorant now…but will grow and strengthen and learn and mature.  We have DEEP faith in this.     And if you love yourself deeply enough, you will not fear to look at your flaws.  They do not determine your future, regardless of the voices in your head.
  2. Commit to loving another human being.  Admit that this is what you want, and crave: a loving bonded relationship. Building a family, even if it is only the two of you.  What is necessary to do this?   Remember the “Adulting Train”?    Before you get to the heartspace, you need to have physical autonomy, ethical sexual expression, and financial security.   Put it in animal terms: you need to be a healthy forest creature who can hunt, gather, and build a nest.   Simple. But obviously some animals think they can skip that lesson.
  3. Understand humanity without guilt, blame or shame.  Develop a theory of relationships that admits that healthy ones exist.  Don’t “blame” either side for the flaws: trust me, if you talk to gay men and women, the exact same b.s. crops up. It isn’t about men or women. It is about people. And if you have a pattern of bad relationships?  It is about YOU.   If you love yourself, and expand your sense of “self” to include one other human being AT LEAST, you begin to understand that we are all doing the best we can, all have wounds and blessings, and that if love is one of life’s great gifts, we owe it to ourselves to make love more important than ego, and learn to commit to the path.

 

 

Those are the first three steps in the process.  If Ruth had followed them, she would have had the courage to look in the mirror and say: “I am making bad choices in men, and in behaviors.  My view of life is skewed, and I can’t deal with the fact that I’m attracting who I AM rather than what I WANT.”

 

As painful as that realization is, so long as you have faith that you can heal, and change, and grow, it is the door to freedom and happiness. It is becoming an adult in the world.

 

And if you aren’t an adult?  Don’t have physical and emotional autonomy?  Take responsibility for your life and not blame others for your actions and emotions?  Don’t have financial independence?

 

Well…some would say that in that case, you shouldn’t be playing adult games, sex being chief among them.   You have some growing up to do before you activate the reproductive circuitry.

 

And sitting in your white coat prescribing glasses for other people doesn’t imply your eyesight is particularly good.  And if you REALLY care about your patients…you make damned sure YOU can really read the chart before you start prescribing.

 

 

Namaste

Steve

 

(We will explore all five steps of the Lifewriting “adulting” process in our SOULMATE PROCESS class starting February 16th. Totally FREE to the first 200 people.    Learn more at: www.soulmateprocess.com)