listening to dur-dur band’s dooya (1987)
this was difficult to write about, especially at the time
it’s backdated with the gift of hindsight. thanks hindsight
one foot in front of the other. i start with 10 minutes of exercise. im out of shape and constantly checking my pulse. i got fat. not super-fat but fat enough – fat enough that in my ultramarathon of over-thinking my beating heart means “heart attack”. i haven’t moved like this in years, outside of a dance floor anyway. i stick with it and grow with it. a daily routine. my blood flows; i exit stasis
i need more and find meditation impossible with the whole over-thinking ultramarathon thing, i start my yoga practice. my first classes suck: the misery of being lost in a matted sea of others with no idea where we’re at or what we’re doing and i can’t stop thinking: how much longer is this class. this person next to me… wtf. wtf. wahhh my ego. then class is over and i feel satisfaction in its completion. the next day i show back up for the same fight. and the next day and the next and the next and the next. i start understanding the physical: the flows. the poses. the breath. i stretch a little further than before and for brief moments it’s as if time stops and i think of nothing – which is everything
the second month of my practice my studio holds a month-long challenge: do yoga everyday. i stop counting classes after sixty – i’ve become intermediate. im feeling the connection of the mind and the body; what yoga’s really about. my mood lifts and life is becoming better / more magical: serendpidous, synchronicitous, peaceful
before the first footing i was an ultramarathon of over-thinking. depressed. near the bottom – in the darkness. some time ago i soared the skies of possibility. i was up: a psychedlic glimpse of love, purpose, spirit but now nothing. it was a year since up and my ego was refusing to surrender; the only part of me staying in the fight: a useless war only prolonging what needs to happen. over time and after making tough choices: i let go. the walls, which were keeping me from starting over, crumble. at last in pieces. i build again. first one foot
everything [this site, this journey] has led me to this point – i understand that what i was doing took me to this rebirth. i had a vision of what’s possible in up, but have to do the work to get there. infinite paths infinite times would still lead to this: life’s boot camp and it takes as long as it takes. yada yada yada im a phoenix
not everyone knows what it’s like to soar the sky. to travel. to be. to feel. heights so high there are no higher. to see all. to feel all. to be all. and thankfully not everyone knows how deep the depths can get. where light is blocked by the dungeon walls of the abyss. where the abyss becomes everything. where everything is nothing.
the highs make the depths ever deeper and the depths make the highs ever more sweeter especially when looking at light after so long in darkness. the short-term key is to stay self-aware and not travel from one extreme to the other too quickly, too swiftly – doing so will always lead to anxiety, paranoia, fear…one must find balance. the long-term goal is to keep soaring without looking down, growing ever higher with each lesson learned…until it’s real
this phoenix thing only works if one works to stay a phoenix. if not, it’s back to the ashes. back to the abyss…until that one foot. at the time of this writing, im a phoenix and im working hard to stay a phoenix, but this is life and one day in this life i may run the emotional saṃsāra again – but with a set of tools more powerful than any i’ve had before
in elementary school history class we were taught about the pony express. the pony express was a horse-powered courier service which delivered messages across the american west from april 1860-october 1861. it failed after 18 months because it was replaced by a better product, the telegraph. sure morse code isn’t as exciting as dodging indians on the back of stallions but if understanding History is about learning from our mistakes then why, year-after-year, were we taught about a failed delivery service?
“the pony express” is a lot of things.
i drove my mom’s car up the illinois side of the mississippi river then across to hannibal, missouri. we went to hannibal a few times as a family. i haven’t been back since. mark twain is from hannibal. the temperature was near 70 and the sun was shining. a cloud hovered just above the water’s surface. it rolled north, much further north than i traveled. on one of our family trips to hannibal we went to lover’s leap. it was the first time i heard the term, was quite heavy. i went back there after taking a photo of a yellow corvette one block from the real becky thatcher’s house. becky is the unattainable aristocratic woman.
i asked a young couple if i could take their picture. they agreed and she added, “i been livin here my whole live and i’d never seen anything like this” pointing to the cloud riding up the river. they’ve been through a lot. neither of them have had it easy but they’re trying and they found each other (a little laughter too). she’s 17 and lives with him. he works full-time. they’re saving money to move to alaska after she graduates high school in the spring. they’re ready to leave now. they just moved into a new apartment building. the first night he went into the basement. he moved a sweatshirt on the wall and discovered a meth lab. i hope they make it to alaska. we said goodbye, i thought i heard them say “hey…” as i got in the car but maybe i imagined it.
before arriving in hannibal i shot my way around side roads taking an occasional photo. around the bend of a dirt road i found a group of holstein cows. the farmer who’s land i was on came down on his atv to say hello. his dog was in the back. she goes everywhere with him. he took over the farm after he lost his previous one in the flood of 1993. i remember the flood, it was 20 years ago but it’s recent history along the river.
i want to do this forever.
st louis. i went home in january. i could wax poetic stl history for days but it still feels like a compromised place. there’s gun toters, there’s abortion clinic bombings, there’s “legitimate rape”, there’s seedy strip clubs, there’s abandoned strip malls, but there’s jesus. in the black neighborhoods where the whites dare not go and want them to stay, there’s a lot of crime but jesus is also there. it’s a melting pot of midwestern simplicity with licks of northern and southern culture. the people and their varying groups, no matter how extreme, are separated by a single colloquialism: ain’t. some use it their Others don’t but they’re all St. Louis.
listening to r.l. burnside – poor boy a long way from home (1978)