Petroglyphs in the American Southwest, cave paintings in the South of France, the stunning piece of ochre discovered in the Blombos Caves in Africa dating back some 77,000 years suggest our ancestor’s minds had developed profound new emergent skills in both language and symbolism. It wasn’t our good looks, our sex appeal, our standing on two feet, our thumbs, but instead in the discovery of these artifacts is evidence of our greatest achievement. We celebrate celebrity, fame, wealth, sexuality, power and physical beauty. Much less attention is given to our minds, our wisdom; the power we have to solve problems. In the digital age we mark our moments here with our 0’s and 1’s in
soon to be obsolete storage devices where our ancestors etched into stone or stained onto cave walls markings that remain tens of thousands of years later articulate, evocative, revelatory examples of what concerns they faced in their brief moment of being here. Imagine being dropped off in Nevada and then marching off into the wilderness, trying to remain alive long enough to mark on stone or draw in a cave a message that might weather the onslaught of yet more tens of thousands of years and still be there for future humans to find, to discover, that might move them to wonder about the majesty of your consciousness. Our earliest ancestors are dated back by two or three million of years, but in just
the last 110,000 of those years something changed, something in our minds abilities changed. Now we can not just solve problems with our minds, but it turns out we can also make problems. This paradox has a way of capturing both our brilliance and our stupidity and the challenges we face in not just using our minds, but in changing the way we use our minds, so that we might leave to the universe through our wisdom more than what we found when we arrived.
Highway Home The Novel
Here swept out before Noel the boundless Great Basin Desert of the American West. Sagebrush
saturated the land. Horizons stretched wide, and the contours of ridges, rims,
and hills squatted low, shaved by ice, wind, and time. Here, east of Burns, at
first appeared wasteland and despair. It reminded Noel of how he felt within
his heart. At the same time there was a solitude to this place of a kind that
So, you do nothing about it. You work, you play, you sleep, you eat…the days go by. You might have a temper, be impatient, you have a tendency to be defensive, exaggerate when you’re telling a story but in general you’re a decent person, not much better or worse than most people you know. “Come on, back off”, the cops aren’t knocking at your door. So, you hook up, you’ve got friends, you’ve got a relationship happening and when things get tight your weak spots start showing. You brush criticism off. They’re just as much to blame for the same
kinds of things. Everybody’s got their hang ups. In fact there isn’t any particular place to go where you can find solid advice, or somewhere that would teach you, or a way to consistently start practicing replacing older less evolved parts of yourself with newer more refined parts. Imagine waking up one morning and deciding that you were going to start all over, clean slate, that you were determined to break out of whatever patterns and habits you’ve got and do what remains of your life with a goal of revising those least skillful, least wholesome parts. I call this the toolkit. You get your tools out and practice making things (revisions to self) with them, before you get back into a relationship, while you are between conflict or deep into a new self created crisis. This is the wisdom of small changes that create the opportunity for a fuller more
functional life with the people that love you, and you know how lovable you are now don’t you?
Highway Home The Novel
He didn’t mind losing a game of eight ball, but there was something out of proportion with the notion of losing the woman he hoped to win. He realized shooting pool wasn’t going to work. He wasn’t going to be able to play a few games and casually interact with Leslie all night. With a handicap like that, even if he ran the table, sank every ball, never lost one game, he felt that when it was time to head home he’d still feel like a loser.
How do we get from here to there? How do we get at our most obstinate aspects and create a path to a more refined self? In the picture is the new seismically safer western portion of the under construction Bay Bridge. You are looking at the single suspension tower that will support the skyway. It will have the same number of lanes as the cantilevered bridge it replaces, but it is designed to withstand a higher magnitude earthquake. It’s a better bridge that will accommodate the same number of cars per day as the old bridge. It is one of the few really BIG things to be done in decades in all of the United States. A nation needs big things done. My generation’s legacy has been drowned. Some groups have been obsessed with lowering taxes and the result is we are leaving to the future a worn out, scrawny, meager version of a once more bold and
visionary nation. Still each of us evolves and with the passage of our lives on this grand stage called life need to get up in the attic, down in the basement, and clean things out. We all have to update, refine, and discard old ineffectual behaviors with the possibility of a more evolved more wise self. Same body, same mind, same person but we must construct of our lives a structure that is better able to withstand the inevitable unforeseen event that we must be better prepared to cope with. We all need a passion for colossal change….
Highway Home The Novel
He listened to the cracking of the flames in the fire. The sounds of crickets grew as the darkness became deeper. After a time spent looking into the flames he stood up and began to dance in the darkness. Jasper looked over at his best friend. Noel was dancing between the van and the fire, his mind taking him on a journey far away from the meadow. He was singing a song beneath his breath. It was as if he was reciting a prayer, taking his vows, answering the night spirits. His arms swung back and forth. He swirled his hips in a circle.
Much effort is made to identify the location of change. You changed, they changed, she changed… it wasn’t me. It was you. You did it, I didn’t. Is change’s location inside of my mind or is change located in your mind, or out there, up there, down there, east or west of here, is it something from the past, is it located in the future? At the quantum level is stuff made of energy or is it matter? Is the temporary location of this energy/matter conundrum the underlying principle that infuses the world the reason change… that the state of impermanence is so
frequently found and located everywhere? I prefer to hang around the good vibes, the fun stuff, the warm weather, the banquet table. I am only beginning to come to terms with the notion that perhaps the other hang outs might provide me proximity to opportunities that might invite unexpected experiences for growth as I wander the byways and highways of life in the pursuit of flowing with the full measure that my changes offer. It means things appear to look different, that difference has much to do with not looking for the whereabouts of that new way of seeing, it just is different, the location is irrelevant, it doesn’t matter who did it.
Highway Home TheNovel
Until that moment, and in that honey dipped timeless space of summer, he looked with an urgent inner force dunking him into his own depths, into the deeper waters of his own being. He leaned forward lost in his desires and primordial quests and kissed Leslie all the while conjuring up hopes he would find a part of her he would never have to abandon, never have to give up, never forced to reckon with her loss. That was unimaginable now.
When she dove into the river, that leap had sealed his dream.
What’s invisible, always present, constantly happening, and for the most part something we simply can do nothing about? What do science denier’s know that those science believers can’t understand? When was the last time you changed your mind? I did. Read a story about an Alfa Romeo with a 1.4 liter engine that is said to get 55 mpg and wait for it…….it’s supposed to be fun! At current fuel prices in California “fun” isn’t exactly my carbon debasing atmospheric current most favorite earth destructive activity. If only they had kept the price lower so that I could afford to do more harm! But, no, sorry, can’t do that. I’m not all that against higher fuel prices so much as I am a big believer in smaller more fuel
efficient engines. That way I can enjoy the best of both worlds. First, I can be a head up my (pick your favorite location) and get out there and drive as if it were an unalienable right while at the very same time go zipping down the byways and highways flinging a little bitty Alfa this way and that knowing I’m getting that same old thrill while shaving half the cost from the bill. I find science denier’s really hypocritical when I spot such a soul tootling down the highway in a electronically injected, computer controlled, variably valve timed advanced engine controlled low emission vehicle that they really have to admit that they love…This is denier in changerizer cycle of the spin mode of the brainwash machine…May the paradox be with you…
There is a twisting four-mile road from the village of Los Osos to Montaña De Oronear San Luis Obispo, California. It winds one lane wide through a grove of eucalyptus trees before breaking out upon a clearing of windswept grassy hills, and then comes to a primitive wood bridge spanning a small creek that has cut a deep canyon through the Spooner Lane campground before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. With the practiced eye of a photographer Noel Sanderson framed shots of the broad expanse of sea to his right as he drove south down the dirt road in his Spartan and well ordered 1968 Dodge van.
We work on things. We work on things we are aware of. We can work at different levels. We can work at a job. We can work on ourselves. We can work on our boat. We can join job, self, and boat into one thing and work on all of it at the same time. We can work harder. We can goof off. We can feel satisfaction with our effort. We forget that we know ourselves. We forget our nature. Some days we just seem to be capable of a higher level of effort than other days. The low effort days might be labeled holiday’s, might be we take a working holiday. Where is that interior place located? You know the interior trip to the land of our very own made up inside our imagination extended cognitive vacation. It’s a head-trip, it’s a mind altering revelry, daydream, a flight of fancy…it’s our focus all checked out and our head has hijacked us just one more time, from the moment pretending to offer a no time like the present to come and see what the imagination has made up….and then you realize that none of it is real, nothing of it ever existed, it was all made up, nobody even knows about it, and you go on with your life and sometimes those trips seem more memorable, more vivid than reality…but that’s just advertising hoping you might come back for another visit…
Noel knew he was dealing with a group of barrel-chested cats playing a tit-for-tat game of sober stares and clipped banter. He wasn’t going to let their looks deceive him. Noel knew how to play his own game of intimidation just as well as the next man.
Our stories are in part understood by our finances. We see people on the way up, on the way down, remaining where they are, stuck where they are, ending up where they are because of where they’ve come from. I was in a campground in Montana, down to my last hundred dollars when a backpacker hiked into camp down to his last dime. I shared supper with the hiker. I’d imagined I had it pretty tough until I met him. He wasn’t worried. He had arranged to help buck hay for a rancher for wages. Figured he’d eat good food and get along fine for a while with that work. I wasn’t as comfortable. I figured I’d use every dollar of what I had to get back to California where I hoped to do more work as a street performer. After that meeting I stuck to just working for tips out of my hat for some years. I’d come to think of it as the best path.
If you have been following along you’ll have noted that I have
placed a particular accent on change. I am fascinated by changes directional
nature, that it is by one dimension bound to time…going from present to future…we
can’t change the past we are it seems doomed to repeat it. I am also interested
in how change can be a bully. It can intimidate, it can harangue. Change can
shatter. Change is constant our awareness of change is not. The people that
gain my greatest attention seem to come with spine, put shoulder into it,
resist nonsense, and are capable of articulating the reasons for the course
they intend to take. If you haven’t noticed reason is not fashionable. We do
life by way of force. We don’t seem to be guided by this ability to look at the
whole playing field. We are not enacting change based upon the biggest frame of
all frames. It appears we are hijacked by some sub-frame. The less than best
choice forces less favorable outcomes, at the expense of the many for the
benefit of few. The game has an end.
Among the greatest achievements of my generation is how little we have done. In California where I live we are in the midst of building a new bridge that will link the Oakland, California side of the San Fransico Bay with San Franicsco, California. In the middle of this sits Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island. The bridge we are replacing is a cantilever affair that is insufficient when put up against an earthquake. On the other half is a suspension bridge that is more likely to withstand an earthquake. My generation seems to be a bunch of moochers, we literally are living off the past and not all that interested in creating a robust infrastructure for the future. Instead we are tied in knots about all manner of things doing with doing things and thus we resist contributing to the future because right now is so dang vital to our present moment. It is the most profound form of insanity…because soon an earthquake will hit here and we will have to fix the damage and we will have to reckon with the fact we did not set aside sufficent funding for this predictable event. Instead we ate our seed corn in this present moment fixation with what? This blog is not just a report on change it is about reporting on the insanity of not embracing change…sometimes we must wake up to the reality that nothing we were born into is about what we are living in and what we will leave to our children. High speed rail, big collosal bridges, super highways, new more advanced electrical grids………….maybe this is what we are supposed to be leaving in our journey of being here….otherwise why go visit the pyramids?
We can be changed. A good sail on a warm day, that can change a person. If we do something for a long time it will have an impact on us. It becomes part of something we reference. We talk about the things we learn and those lessons are often the result of the experiences we’ve had. Still some changes happen that instant, in that moment, we are better for it, and right now. Some of what we do has a longer time line. And then of course we might go in search of one thing and discover another thing we didn’t know we would find there. Most all of us attempt to bend the storyline in our own favor: get out of the hot sun, meet the girl we are interested in for a drink, go to the movie we are interested in, avoid the speeding tickets, and when we see our doctor hope for a clean bill of health… Sailing is surprising. Things come up you could never dream up. Wind increases, waves grow steep, docile sea conditions become wild, then wilder and then the recreational sail you imagined becomes a journey demanding attention, focus, skill and precision. More than once my boat has taken me to places I didn’t want to go, put me into a bind I didn’t want to be in, left me humbled. People who claim sailing is boring strike me as funny. An breezy afternoon on San Francisco Bay will change that after just one stout gust….