Tag Archives: philosophy

Of Doors and Dreams

Life is a series of doors we step through.  Each door leads to a new Universe.  These doors come to us as people, places or even activities.  Each person, for example, is the center of their Universe, and you become a satellite of them there just as they are a satellite within yours.  Some people do not step through many doors,  staying for the most part in the same Universe into which they were born.  This is okay, as each Universe is infinite and provides limitless experience.

I have always been eager to open new doors.  In my youth there were so self_Realmany, and each opened into a world with even more exciting doorways available.  I flew through them daily, until the world from the year before, when re-visited, seemed alien to me and I had no place there.   Eventually I came to a point where the doors seemed to beckon to me, urging me to step through and thereby become as them.  This was a little frightening, and I got into the habit of searching out new doors which were similar but different to the future I was being urged toward.  I in effect invented my own doorways.

I would sit and think.  I would sit and dream.  I would use logic and analogy to come up with a plan.  Sometimes my depression would force me to act, and I would spin into a world where no one else had been before.  This has become a habit over the years.  Now I feel more comfortable sailing through an alien landscape than playing a role within the status quo.   But this kind of life, though tremendously rewarding, has depleted my power reserves over the years, especially financially.  For to get anywhere within a world, one must put down roots and gather reserves.  I’ve never done this.

A long time ago I realized we are all in prisons of our own making.   The only answer is to design your cell with as much care as possible.   Lately I’ve actually designed and created my prison cell from scratch, as it were.  From the porch of  this little dwelling I can sit and ponder a landscape of boundless beauty.  I can see mountains that are fifty miles away or watch the movements of tiny insects at my feet.  And yet, it is still a prison.

Now the doors aren’t appearing very often, and my imagination for inventing new doors seems to be wearing away as well.  Oh I still have big dreams, but I can’t imagine how to fund them.

If I only had a little dough.

 

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Half a Dream Come True


 

For many years I had a dream of starting a chain of mini-bookstores throughout Latin America. I have spent a lot of long vacations traveling in Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Peru, and I always noticed that tourists like to leave behind their used books. I also noticed that buying books in these countries was very expensive, even by USA standards. One day I found a great little cafe from which I could escape the heat, perhaps in Valladolid, Mexico, where I noticed that the local youths seemed to gather. That is when I began to think how great it would be for a cafe like that to provide books for the people to buy cheaply, and sell back to them in order to purchase more. This, I thought, would provide an economic incentive for the restaurant owner, and also ensure the re-circulation of books throughout the community.

When I first joined Facebook, I thought this would be a perfect forum for discussing my ideas, and perhaps develop an organization for promoting literacy in the manner I had in mind. I started a Facebook Group called “Promoting Literacy in Latin America” and most of my friends joined up, and I also made new friends with similar interests. Strangely, however, I couldn’t get more than three people to post anything. I couldn’t get a discussion started. This was disappointing, but I still thought I would implement my plan at the first opportunity.

     

My next setback came when I actually started planning my next trip to  Mexico.  Thats when it dawned on me that tourists, and especially backpackers, don’t want any extra weight to carry—and books are very weighty.  While they may carry one or two paperbacks that they are reading, the amount of books necessary to fuel my plan would be too much.  I felt my dream dissapating, but I still had respect for it, as my personal belief is that dreams come from God, and are a clue to the future if nothing else.  So I kept several boxes of books available for my trip to Mexico.

Living in Tucson, I felt that the most logical town to implement my plan was Magdalena, Mexico, just an hour south of the border. So I drove to the center of Magdalena, parked on the plaza by the church, and walked around looking for candidates. Most of the cafes were small, smoky and serving beer—not the type of place to promote reading in youths. Then I found an ice-cream shop with plenty of room and I approached the lady at the counter with my idea, assisted by a typed and illustrated description I had prepared for that purpose. She liked the idea, but the owner of the shop was not due back for a while, and in the meantime she introduced me to the holistic medicine lady next door. From the herb shop I was directed to another cafe that apparently already was set up to sell books as I had described. Walking a few blocks away, I found Cafe Sed, where I was surprised to find a perfect example of what I had been dreaming of.

I spoke to the manager in charge, who was animated to discover my interest, and spent the next half hour describing the business structure of their operation. Cafe Sed is just one of several operations created to educate and support the youths of three orphanages in the area. You can read about them at these websites: http://www.cvemx.org,

http://tihmin.org

http://www.cafesed.blogspot.com

http://www.carnisimo.blogspot.com

 

Cafe Sed is a small operation compared to the meat processing business, part of which is located next door. I got a quick tour of how they process organic jerky, and it was quite impressive, the youths were at the meat-stick stuffing stage when I was there. These are all older teenagers getting excellent career knowledge and experience. The operation was spotless, and strictly following high food safety standards. Apparently the whole meat business was designed and developed by an American doctor of meat science, a volunteer and significant donor.

Well, I found a place to donate my books after all. I don’t know what part this experience will play in my future, but I felt that I was led to this organization for a reason. Guess we’ll just wait and see.


Psychic Event

Tchiya Amet

I had an interesting experience the other day.  I was meditating, as I do every morning, and it was going well.  Unlike most days, I was not as distracted by memories, desires, or fictional characters from movies or books.  I was in a peaceful state, approaching “no thought.”  A feeling came upon me, along with an idea that in around 10 minutes some “event” was going to take place.  Hmmm, I thought…what kind of event could occur? Probably the phone will ring, perhaps someone will knock on the door, or I suppose there could be a power outage.  Sometimes when I finish meditating it is exactly at the half-hour mark, maybe that’s all it is.  So I kept at peace for a space I felt was about 10 minutes, then I turned my head to look at the clock.  It was 10:28. Well, I guess that’s close enough, I thought, so I stretched my legs and started getting the blood flowing again.  Then the phone rang.  Wow, I thought, that’s cool.  I answered the phone, and it was Tchiya Amet, a fabulous indigenous reggae musician, who had never called me before, and we hadn’t communicated even by email in a couple of years.  She said she had been trying to send an email for the last 15 minutes, but for some reason the computer wasn’t cooperating.  She asked me if I would like to do the artwork for a new CD she is going to release soon.  Well yeah!  I would say that was a significant “event.”


Visionaries

If you’d like to see a couple of roads we SHOULD be going down, try clicking on these images to view videos of some really intelligent, brave people.

Paolo Lugari of Gaviotas, Colombia


Surfing Analogies

            There was a short time during my youth when I liked to surf, or try to.  Texas isn’t much of a place for surfing, but occasionally, when there is a storm in the Gulf of Mexico, there are waves big enough to ride.  For years I would paddle out to the big waves, get pounded, occasionally stand up for a few seconds, then exhaust myself fighting the waves again.  Then one weekend I was taught how to surf by someone who knew how.  He showed me how to use the rip current near the jetty to paddle past those pounding waves, then pass up the second line of breakers I had always stayed at.  He taught me to go beyond the third line of breakers, where the sea was calm—this is what is known as “outside.”  It was beautiful there, just sitting on your board and rolling with the swells.  The trick, it turned out, was to look toward the horizon and see the big swells coming—then paddle like mad so you were matching the speed of the wave at the moment it broke.  That’s when you can really get a good ride.  Then, after a nice ride, you have to peel off and get back “outside” before the wave moves you to the second line of breakers.         

            I was a waiter at the Lone Star Café at the time, and there was a serious surfer, named Bryan, working there as well.  It occurred to me on a busy Friday night how analogous the work was to surfing.  I kept telling Bryan, “ I can’t get to the outside, I’m getting pounded,” and he would nod knowingly, “ right on.”  The more I thought about it, and I still think about it, almost everything we engage in can be viewed in terms of surfing.  The reason is this:  everything in our physical reality, relative to time, is rising and falling, growing and decaying, coming and going, in a wave-like fashion.  We are on an ocean of change, and every entity and event in our lives is behaving like a wave.  So here are a few points to my “surfing philosophy” or “wave theory” and how they may be applied to one’s life:

1)      Find the rip current—“go with the flow,” why take a pounding and wear yourself out?  There is an easier way.

2)      Get to the “Outside”—its worth the effort to reach your goal.  Settling for the first line of breakers could be painful and tiring. (This one is difficult to be sure about, I guess you have to use your intuition to know where “outside” is.)

3)      Relax, and look to the horizon—contemplate the future, and try to visualize that perfect wave before it arrives.

4)      Give it your all—when you go for that wave, you’ll have to really dig in to catch it.  Don’t stop paddling.

5)      Keep your balance—riding a wave is a heady experience, don’t slip up.

6)      Peel off and get back “outside”—notice when it is time to move on, or you might get pounded and have to work a lot harder to get back to where you were. (again, you have to use your intuition here.)

 

Personally, I feel that I’ve been “outside” for several years now, and at the moment I’m paddling like mad.  I’ll let you know if I catch the wave, but its looking good so far.

visit my website: http://www.artbylowell.com


Long Walk Home

                         I remember it was St. Patrick’s Day because the only person I glimpsed on that long walk home had green hair.  It must have been two years ago, and I was the last one to leave the building, walking across the empty Arby’s parking lot at around 10:45 PM.  The car started fine, but for some reason I couldn’t get it out of “Park.”  I tried, for five minutes or so, different things—stepping on and off the brake pedal, turning it off and re-starting it, pressing the button harder—but nothing worked.  Well, there’s nothing for it, I thought to myself, I might as well walk home and come for it in the morning.  Lucky for me, I lived only four miles or so away.  It usually only took four minutes to get home.  That night it would take forty-five.

            It was a cool night, but not cold, and the air was almost still, plus I had a warm jacket to wear.  I knew Catalina AZ (just North of Tucson) rolled up its sidewalks at 8PM, but I had never experienced it first hand.  It was beautiful—quiet and peaceful, with only the occasional vehicle barreling by on Hwy 77.  No dogs barking, at least not anywhere nearby, and even the convenience store was devoid of customers.  It was in front of the Players Pub that I saw the green-haired person lurching for their pickup.  I don’t think they noticed me.  I felt like a ghost.  There aren’t many streetlamps, but there were enough businesses with their lights left on to keep me from utter darkness, and the stars, my GOD, the stars were incredible.

            I started my walk in good spirits, enjoying the little adventure and the exercise, but I fully expected to be grumbling and unhappy by the time I got home.  It never happened.  It turned out to be one of the most sublime evenings of my life.  I truly felt one with the Earth, walking with the Great Spirit, moving to the rhythm of the Universe.  No one was demanding my attention, not even my own Ego or Id, which might have urged me to paint or read a book had I been at home.  All I had to do was walk.  Then She came.  The mountains took on a shimmering glow that I was not fully conscious of at first.  Then Sister Moon, in all her glory, just days from being full, rose slowly above the mountains.  HUGE!  If you’ve never seen a complete moonrise before, you need to make the effort to do so.

            There is a rather steep hill just a few blocks from my house, and that gave me a pretty good cardiovascular workout.  The adventure evolved as I entered the neighborhood—I could hear music playing, and I caught a whiff of something that smelled like bubblegum as I passed one house with a window open.  I enjoyed walking as silently as possible as I passed an unchained dog asleep on a driveway.  Someone was smoking a cigarette in front of their house.  Then I caught a blast of orange blossoms, which wafted around for blocks, all the way to my doorstep.

            I felt good when I got home, and even better after a quick shower.  I slept very well, deciding I should walk home again sometime.  And I did.


Great Dreamers

for sale at artbylowell.com

          Abraham dreamed of a new land, to be solely inhabited by his progeny.  I personally don’t believe he heard the voice of God with his ears, but with his mind.  Genghis Khan called himself “the scourge of God,” and perhaps he was.  Perhaps Julius Caesar was.  Alfred dreamed of a United Britannia.  Ferdinand and Isabella a United Spain.  Columbus dreamt of a quicker passage to the Indies (sometimes we dream of one thing and achieve another.)  Benjamin Franklin dreamed up the postal system, among other things.  Isaac Newton dreamed of answers, as did Einstein.  Chĕ Guevara dreamt of giving power to the people, and probably died believing that he had.  Gandhi dreamt of peace, as did John Lennon.  Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream.

          Please note:  I could be wrong—it could have been the wives, lovers, sisters or mothers who had the dreams, and influenced these men to achieve them.  Or it could have been completely other people who had the dreams, and they just campaigned for these men to advance their dreams.  History has to give credit to some one individual, when almost always the great accomplishments were achieved by a community.  Where, though, do the dreams come from?  Someone has to be thinking, receiving the flashes of inspiration and bringing the dreams to fruition.  Perhaps God or the collective consciousness emanates these ideas into the ether at appropriate moments in time, for the appropriate individual to “come up with it.”


Perfect Storm

 

 

        

              If you look at a chart of the stock market spanning the last 10 years, the lowest point for the S&P500 was around March 1, 2009.  That just happened to coincide with the moment my marriage fell apart.  I was exhausted from a hard week at work, trying to train an incredibly dense new employee.  My wife happened to be suffering from her monthly experience, and my son of five years happened to be at his most irritating stage of life.  He hadn’t yet acquired the skill of telling when an adult is getting angry.  I had to yell at him, she had to yell at me, and suddenly I had a momentary emotional breakdown.  I’m not a violent person, and I would never say abusive things to anyone, but I can yell pretty damn loud when I want to.  It was only a few seconds, but it was devastating.  Apparently, my wife had been significantly more unhappy with our marriage than she had ever communicated to me.  It was over, just like that.

 

            Here’s the interesting part: she had nowhere to go.  All of her family lives in Peru (you can see why she was unhappy.)  She had no job, and I didn’t make enough to support one household, much less two.  I certainly wasn’t going to say “O.K. , here’s $2000 for plane tickets to Peru, so you can take my son away from me.”  I didn’t even want a divorce, so I just left her alone with her conundrum.  I moved into the guest room/ art studio.

 

            We lived that way for three full years.  The amazing thing was—it was not bad at all.  We love our son, so we made it work for his sake.  Oh there was certainly a long period of resentment, and I found myself behaving like I did long ago when I was feuding with a roommate—you know, pushing their buttons, leaving them work that you could easily take care of yourself.  Then I just asked myself, “Why am I doing this?  There’s no law that you have to hate your ex-wife.”  So I stopped it all.

 

            I suppose it was easier for me than it would be for most, because I’ve been meditating for years.  I recite to myself, every morning, the prayer of St. Francis:

 

            Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace;  where there is hate, let me sow Love;  where there is injury—Pardon;  where there is despair—Hope;  where there is doubt—Faith;  where there is darkness—Light;  where there is sadness—Joy…..

 

            It’s a good reminder of how I want to live, even though our society programs us to be combative.  I actually love everyone.  I certainly abhor the things that most people do, but I don’t blame them for their behavior.  We are programmed, and years of programming is difficult to purge.  I just pray that more people can break the cycle.  My ex and I have taught our son that divorce doesn’t have to be full of hate.  Now I want to pass on to you the knowledge—it is possible.  Don’t assume that you have to behave the way people expect you to behave.  Choose the good path.  You’ll be glad you did.

check out my website: http://www.artbylowell.com

 

 

 

 

 


Just an ordinary day

            I woke up around 6AM to sounds coming from the kitchen.  I crawled out of my futon bed, which now has become our living room couch since we sold our sofa and loveseat in a big yard sale over the weekend.  I went to the bathroom and began to shave, until I heard a tap on the door—my 8-year old son.  I let him use the bathroom while I turned the light on above the fishtank and philodendron.  After shaving I spent about 10 to 12 minutes warming up with Qi Gong exercises and a few dozen sit-ups, then I put on my winter cap and my alpaca coat before kneeling down for a few minutes of meditation.  Almost everyone meditates in the lotus position (what my son calls “criss cross applesauce”) but I was taught meditating with the feet tucked under the buttocks back when I first took a karate class long ago, and its just more comfortable for me, at least until my legs fall asleep, then the lotus position wins.  There wasn’t much to choose from for breakfast, so I just had a bowl of cereal with soy milk.  I gave my son a big hug as he went off to the bus-stop, then settled down to a cup of hot tea to read a few pages from “The Cloud of Unknowing.”  I checked email, Facebook, WordPress & RedBubble, then fed the fish and got dressed for the day’s event.

            When my soon-to-be-ex-wife and I realized we were ahead of schedule, we stopped at the “Hot Rod Café,” the only eatery on a long stretch of automotive shops and other industrial businesses.  Despite the charming décor and the NASCAR channel on, we got two croissants to go, and headed to downtown Tucson.  After a brisk walk from the parking garage two blocks to the courthouse, we entered and immediately took off our coats and put all of our personal items in a container to be scanned.  Just now I have realized that we never reclaimed the little credit-card-sized swiss tool kit they confiscated.  Lord knows what havoc could have been wreaked with that inch-long pair of scissors.  We turned in our papers at the clerks office and found a bench where we could eat our croissants and wait for our name to be called.  We were called into the courtroom along with five other default cases and one name change—it was 10:40AM.  By 11AM we were facing the judge, asked about a dozen yes or no obligatory questions…stamp, stamp, sign, sign, stamp.   Voila’, we were divorced.

Downtown Tucson

            We stopped at the grocery store on the way home, made some quick burritos for lunch, and napped while watching an old Pedro Infante movie on the PC (since we sold both TVs at the yard sale.)  At 2:30PM I got up to practice my guitar for a while before showering and dressing for work.  When I reached the street corner, I waved at my ex-wife who was waiting at the bus-stop for my son to arrive from school.  I’ve been working as shift manager here at Arbys.  Don’t ask me how I ended up in fast food, but I must say there is something satisfying about serving the public.  I’ll never be tempted to volunteer at a soup kitchen—I’ve done my time.  Oh sure, these folks aren’t homeless, but they are equally needy and forlorn in their own ways.

            After the yard sale weekend and the divorce proceedings, I’ve been really tired this evening, but writing this post in my spare moments has kept me awake.  Today wasn’t difficult, next week will be moreso:  that’s when I have to put my son and ex on the plane bound for Peru, where they plan to live from now on.  That will be hard.  But tonight and tomorrow I get to rest up, then I’ll take my son up to Mt. Lemmon where he can play in the snow for the last time in who knows when.  But really, who knows?  If there is anything I’ve learned in half a century on this planet, its this:  you never know.

original oil painting by Lowell


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