activism

Language of the Unheard

I am writing this in my Santa Monica apartment. Right outside there are sirens blaring, scores of helicopters hovering overhead, two stores across the street that were just looted by roving criminals and a couple of structure fires a few blocks away. About an hour ago, there was a crowd of at least 300 peaceful protestors outside. I watched from my roof, afraid to enter the fray, but when they stopped and knelt in silent vigil for George Floyd, I knelt too, and raised my fist high in solidarity.

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reminders

How to Quarantine

The rain surrounded the cabin … with a whole world of meaning, of secrecy, of rumor. Think of it: all that speech pouring down, selling nothing, judging nobody, drenching the thick mulch of dead leaves, soaking the trees, filling the gullies and crannies of the wood with water, washing out the places where men have stripped the hillside…. Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, the rain. As long as it talks, I am going to listen.

From “Rain and the Rhinoceros” by Thomas Merton, 1966
*I discovered Merton reading David Abram’s masterpiece, “The Spell of the Sensuous”
**More on Merton in this lovely tribute by Doug Toft
***Photo by Joe Gardner
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Gandalf and Frodo
reminders

The Time That Is Given Us

“Mordor. That name even you hobbits have heard of, like a shadow on the border of old stories. Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.”

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

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Wenceslas Hollar illustration of the fable
mythic perspectives, reminders

The Moral of the Story

Look to the irony in any story and you’ll find the moral, the gospel, the very reason for that story existing in the first place. We’re all quarantined from one another, but maybe this is happening to remind us just how connected we all are. Maybe this interconnectedness is a really hard moral for us as humans to learn. We elected a president whose entire m.o. is to vilify “the other”. Fox News is built on this. It’s infuriating to learn about all the folks right now ignoring the calls for social distancing, but the harsh reality is that a lot more people are going to have to get sick and a lot more people are going to have to die before we start to learn the moral of this story. We are truly all connected, aren’t we? Even the president’s wall can’t save us. 

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Nautilus shell art by William Conklin
exercises + experiments, reminders

Self Care in the Time of Corona

Yes, by all means, breathe in the light. Yes, absolutely, focus on the positive. Pull out the crystals, light up the sage. Keep yourself safe. But don’t bypass what you’re feeling right now. This is the moment. Scary, messy, uncertain, full of potential. You were made for this, remember? You are no stranger to trauma. This is your wheelhouse. A natural healer, you are well equipped to thrive. Trust.

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How Heavy, The Deep Water. How Sweet, The Hope
mythic perspectives, personal essay

We Don’t Get to Know What’s Coming

Most of us have a recurring dream of some form or other. Some folks dream of flying, of losing their teeth. I dream of waves – giant, menacing, deep-water waves rising up in the night like dark-cloaked mercenaries. On and off throughout my life I have dreamed of waves. In my youth, I would mostly watch them from a distance, a hillside perhaps, or sometimes through the window of a house, the swell rising on the horizon. Lately though, the water seems closer. A few months back, I’m having a picnic as a wave towers over my friend’s shoulder. Just last week, I am on a dock when the water below me expands like a balloon, swallowing the dock entirely right as I wake up.

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dark wave
mythic perspectives, performance

Go Dark

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

Wendell Berry


I’ll be performing at Write Club on Monday with the word “obscure” as my jumping off point. This Berry quote along with my recurring dreams of large waves will feature prominently in my piece. Come join the mayhem if you’re in the area! And check out my performance from last year for a tease of what I do. 🙏🏼

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Angels Landing Zion National Park
activism, personal essay

Aesthetic Arrest

Zion National Park in May of last year. We set up camp in the shadow of one of those glorious red rock monoliths with the rushing waters from a nearby (but unseen) river as our only soundtrack. That night the moon turned the whole valley silver and the sounds of the river seemed to amplify in the still night air, enveloping us in this white-noise cocoon. After dinner I went off on my own, determined to put a visual to what now seemed to come from everywhere at once, and as I pushed through the brush, the more it consumed and bewildered me, until finally, I reached the river’s edge and stood there on the banks, for how long I really don’t remember. 

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Pagan Otherworlds Tarot
mythic perspectives, tarot

Paying Attention

I’ve been reading the cards for more and more folks lately (9 readings in the past 3 weeks!) and every session has been its own kind of wild, weird and wonderful. Tarot has been a near-daily study and meditation for me for over three years now and while my understanding of it is always evolving, here’s what I currently know: I am not a fortune-teller. And while I do think we’re all “psychic” in our own ways, I’m not a huge fan of that word either. It just feels exclusionary and ego-based.

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activism, personal essay

Freedom Now

I grew up closeted in the backwoods of South Carolina in the 80’s and became interested in storytelling around 9 years old when my father would drive me into the sticks and drop me alone on the side of a dirt road with a rifle. From there I’d hike into the woods to find a marked tree with a small plank hanging from it, about 15 feet up in the air. I’d climb the tree and I’d sit on the plank and I’d wait quietly. And wait. And wait, for some unsuspecting deer to stroll by; a deer I’d never have the heart to shoot; a deer that would graze the baited corn my dad had spread out on the ground below while I silently watched, spellbound, boring all of my secrets into him telepathically, before firing in the air to spook him back to freedom. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing at the time, I just knew, on some level, that it was safer to be the boy with lousy aim than the boy who didn’t like to hunt.

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Francis O'Connor set design for Waiting for Godot
mythic perspectives, personal essay

Letting in the Mess

Samuel Beckett and Tom F. Driver on the function of art in a world in crisis

There is so much about my work as an artist that is changing. Much of what interested me just three years ago feels frivolous now. I stopped writing a romantic comedy just before Trump was elected and I’m not sure I could summon the drive to finish it now regardless of what someone offered to pay me.

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Letter to a Young Activist
activism, reminders

Letter to a Young Activist During Troubled Times

Grumpy Sneezy Dopey

I was home sick with a cold today. On the couch for hours watching movies, scrolling through the socials, in a grumpy, sneezy, dopey malaise. (Where is Doc and Happy when you need them?) There’s something about being sick that amplifies my insecurities. The shadow swoops in when I am weak, whispering – Poor you, So frail, So small, You will never accomplish the things you desire, Why bother, The world is on fire, No one cares… Nothing you do matters.

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Cosmic Tides
mythic perspectives

Cosmic Tides

A man’s soul is like a lagoon connected with the sea by a submerged channel; although to all outward seeming it is land-locked, nevertheless its water level rises and falls with the tides of the sea because of the hidden connection. So it is with human consciousness, there is a subconscious connection between each individual soul and the World-soul deep hidden in the most primitive depths of subconsciousness, and in consequence we share in the rise and fall of the cosmic tides. 

Dion Fortune, The Mystical Qabalah
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common sense crash test dummies gun reform
activism

Common Sense

You can still learn a lot from a dummy.

Growing up in South Carolina in the mid-80’s, I remember the adults around me grumbling about new legislation that was gaining momentum in Congress. Legislation that, if passed, would require the driver and front-seat passenger of a car to wear seat belts, or else be subject to a fine. The grown-ups were pissed. How dare the government tell us what we can and can’t do in our cars. Civil liberties! and personal freedom! became all the rage. I distinctly remember an aunt avowing she’d never wear a seat belt because she’d read somewhere that they were just a hoax, that they were highly dangerous and what if the car went off a bridge and into the water, huh?!

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