— Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
I have more words than most, most of the time...
along with some thoughts on a few matters. There may be a few gems amidst the rubbish.
Sometimes I think they should should come out perfectly the first time. It never works out when you think that way.
Then I let it go - and the notion of perfection...and the wheelhouse runs a lot more smoothly...
"He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
— Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
Not full of love And sunshine but a matinee movie kinda day...a superman remake believe it or not.
The irony of...too few heroes in the real world and our curious adulation of fictional ones in cinema.
...following the course of changing history in the international news.
Fictions unraveling, veneers tarnishing...
All for the better in the long run, Methinks...
Stay the course
I saw my niece and and nephew yesterday (best kids in the universe...really). It may "take a village to raise a child" but their character and who they are often seems largely on account of my brother and how he raises them.
At the end of the day when I was being dropped off, my brother told me their mother took the kids for haircuts earlier in the day (looked great to me, especially O's).
When the stylist asked how Bec wanted his hair cut, he said, "Nothing on top and short on the side like Uncle Gavin."
All I can really do is smile and laugh at that zinger.
"For if you fear conflict,
you will fear happiness."
(This message brought to you by he who has 3 near complete blog entries, one of which is proving very difficult to construct effectively, so said he posts a true but superfluous entry to distract reader with....with...Ninja smoke until said he finishes at least one of the easier entries.)
It's been pretty glorious in San Francisco the last couple of weeks, particularly the last couple days.
Heat and Light are uncommon here on a regular basis so I've been out and about soaking it up and soaking it in...
and it was finally warm enough to go to the beach, so I did. This photo is from Baker Beach, very near the Golden Gate Bridge obviously. It's a lovely beach but not exactly the Caribbean. Somehow, I managed to make it through the day :)
I ate almonds and bananas as if I were in Mexico while my mind ran over familiar terrain and my heart kept up some beat out of sync with where things are at. It seems I'm on quite a number of men's cameras in San Francisco and quite a number of women's cameras in Tulum. Funny and weird, and makes me wonder whether I'm pretty, an alien or both. It was flattering but odd, considering how I was feeling. Then the impolite leering began and the wind picked up slightly, so I left.
Perhaps I was trying to replicate a sense or feeling of Tulum somewhat subconsciously. It occurred to me some time ago that I'm drawn to certain kinds of places and experiences that have similar qualities of spirit and perspective: San Francisco, Amsterdam, Tulum...I'd like to write about that more another time.
I've managed to mostly reconstruct a couple of blog pieces and they'll go up shortly. Pictures are a bit easier to do and I've also added some tunes to a few pages. There are also currently a couple videos as well, but one does not appear to be playing correctly. My hosting service is upgrading their editing tool and I'm testing out a beta app. Kinda nifty but buggy.
Yes, the flowers really are that color.
I miss the sea, the jungle and that girl.
Testing 123.In the process of upgrading the OS on my tablet, I lost some things - including a couple of blog entries I was working on. Merde!And I just acquired a beta version of an app for said tablet that allows me to do certain things directly from the tablet rather than from a browser....And this post is testing this functionality.Happy Tuesday.End test. Press submit.
As I stood in line for the WC at an arty watering hole upon my arrival in Tulum, I glanced over at a dark wall and noticed the following. I smirked at first as only an urbanite can at the schmaltzy collection of one-liners. How many times had I read something similar before?
Fortunately, I let the snarkiness go pretty quickly as I read it a couple of times (what is that guy doing in the bathroom already?). There was a great deal of truth on the wall in the darkness, or at least a resonance that whispered quietly of something important that should be reconsidered, rediscovered.
There is actually nothing wrong with these words or aspirations and it made me think of all those variables that influence and color our thinking and our actions, or our misperceptions, inaction and apathy for that matter.
Government, religion, the media, family histories, laziness and fear are but a few obvious culprits.
What then would be wrong in embracing those things I already know to be largely true and right, and embodying the good natured and positive essence of these new-spirited colloquialisms?
Nothing really, when you think about it. Why not?
It should seemingly be so comfortable an embrace you can accept and practice yourself and why shouldn't everyone else? And sure: it can be quite easy to see the myriad hang ups, pains and fears in others, and even solutions pretty readily. You can help when and where you can as things can be easier to see from the outside, from a more objective perspective.
But then you realize as you always do that you have your own weeding in the garden to attend to. You hem and haw and delay, and you wonder about what's holding you back: probably the same ingrained habituations, defenses and fears in yourself as in any other.
It's then that you really understand -once again- the vastness of feelings; the sense of histories, and all the intricacies of other people's interiority that mold who they are and how they respond, react or flee to anything they might come upon on their own path, including change. And you are as subject and bound to this realm as any other.
We clutch dearly to what we know: all of our lovely bags!
Words can be incredibly powerful and life-altering, but any given turn of phrase, sweet bon mots or divinely inspired insights are all rendered impotent...
unless you're willing to walk the talk of those fancy words found in the darkness.
Fear is the Great Inhibitor...
It's a great motivator as well.
And the grip on your own bag loosens up a bit.....
This is your Life.
Do what you love, and do it often. If you don't like something, change it. If you don't like your job, quit it. If you don't have enough time, stop watching TV.
If you are looking for the love of your life, Stop. They will be waiting for you when you start doing the things you love. Stop over analyzing. Life is simple.
All emotions are beautiful. When you eat, appreciate every last bite. Open your mind, arms and heart to new things and people. We are united in our differences. Ask the next person you see what their passion is and share your inspiring dream with them.
Travel often: getting lost will help you find yourself. Some opportunities only come once - seize them. Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them. So go out and start creating.
Life is short. Live your dream and wear your passion.
On March 9th, I returned to San Francisco. It will always be a place I call home, or at least a home base. I'm very fortunate to be here and have what I have, however small or grand. At a minimum, having a feeling and connection to some place I know and that suits who I am is a good
place to be.
Tulum is also a place I'd like to call home someday, at least part time. I'm not sure at this time I'd want to be in either place full time, all the time.
The wheels have been spinning; the spirit has been churning.
I've had no grand epiphanies; there have been no jarring culture shocks.
But there have been some subtle shifts in me: seeds long dormant stir hopefully at the promise of coming into the light. A trite metaphor, but it'll have to do for the moment.
I came back to not only earn money but to reflect on the experience I just had...and to determine a course from there. It had been my plan all along.
I had many conversations with many people in Tulum. A young woman asked me one evening with a wry smile, "What do you want?" It was a really simple question and one I could not answer at the time. It was easier to identify what I didn't want than what I did.
An odd place to be...that was where I was. It's felt like that for a long time. I don't think there's anything unique in the implicit complacency that people find themselves in where they keep doing what they are "supposed" to be doing, living lives that encourage a disconnect from what they want and need to be doing for themselves. There is a kind of comfort - and stasis - in living that way. There is nothing wrong with that.
But, I'm resistant to the pull of that seeming inevitably. I am middle-aged apparently (oh shit!) and I still have a great deal of vim and vigor and pep in my step, more than most. But there comes a time when we either resign ourselves to certain realities and inevitabilities, or we fight for something else within our grasp.
For better or worse, we toil in what we are taught to value. Even a casual glance at the news appears to indicate that what we are taught to value and the structures we've had an investment and faith in aren't all they're cracked up to be. Fissures in our infrastructure and our thinking are becoming a little too obvious to ignore. Substantial changes will become necessary in our species' thinking and action as we careen steadily toward a world filled with innumerable crises.
And there is not app that can be written for that.
"Life is full of solutions," as a good man in Tulum reminded me.
I have currently not secured employment in which I have the power and position to change the world, but I am willing and able to fight for something I have in mind, in heart...for me.
I found a trajectory I'd like to follow, a path I want to forge...it's been a running subtext in all of my potentially pretentious blog entries. I've identified and have been saying it to myself for a couple of months now.
It's funny: it's not like I fear saying it, but maybe I fear saying it and not doing it. Trying and failing is one thing I can contend with; not trying and the failure in not trying is something I'm not interested in being invested in anymore.
Maybe what I dream is too sweet a dream?
To borrow a rose by another name, the mind is trap we can find ourselves in, in which we battle ourselves and others.
I've "overthunk" the issue ad nauseum, and there is another kind of stasis that you can occupy by over-processing much of what you come upon.
Since I've been back, I've been working on a remodel project almost nonstop. It's been good and hard, and physical...and humbling. I've done some of this kind of work before: some skills I have or can pick up relatively quickly. Other tasks have proven to be harder to do and would take time to master. It's been valuable to learn how to demolish and then rebuild something and that's been a more potent metaphor lately, and one I will have to take to heart more fully. Just not in the building trades, but in a realm more suited to me.
I'm a thinking man; I'm a working man...and some other things as well.
One irony I've come upon while doing this work is that many Mexican immigrants-illegal or otherwise-come to the US and end up doing this kind of work. They want a better life and to earn more money. Oftentimes, they send money back to their families. An enormous amount of money goes back to Mexico in this manner.
And here I am doing this kind of work to earn money in order to go back to Mexico to make a sweeter life for myself.
I do know what I want, what I want to build for myself.
And that dream involves being both in San Francisco...and Tulum.
I still haven't found the love I've sought...only experiences hither and yon, moments come and gone over the hills and far away. Fleeting glimpses of those things to have and to hold.
"A lover of the light"
But that's about a love with a woman. I've been moving closer to that other love I've been implicitly prattling on about, so that's a good thing. Understandings are clearer there.
However, I finally found this picture while combing through four terabytes of data (I am a data squirrel). I've been searching for it for several months. (still hunting for several groups of other images.) It's just an image, but it's been important that I find it for some reason, perhaps it's the personal symbolism for two distinct reasons.
I saw it one day a few years ago on my way home as the sun set upon a window pane. At the time I had a Blackberry so I had to do the best with what was available.
I never saw it again after that day...a smudge of love. Some days feel like that...fleeting, amorphous and vague. It can be hard to discern, to sense and feel something larger and more clearly defined or understood on days or in periods like that. I'm fine on most days, most of the time. I usually keep things in perspective...even in the absence of things. I sometimes run into trouble when I'm feeling something, something that needs to be expressed and there is no avenue or audience for that expression and at the same time, the feeling(s) contradict what I know rationally, and intuitively for that matter. Aquarians are often (mis?)understood to be a bit aloof, a little removed from their emotional realm among other, more positive traits. I'd have to say this is actually fairly true of myself. However, I am nearly a Pisces, and have some of their characteristics as well: dreamy, fluid, passionate...sensitive. An internally directed, creative, level-headed, heartful, stubborn, irreverent sweetheart. A dreamy frakkin' enigma in other words.
I straddle a fence between two realms of being and understanding self, world...cosmos. I've known this for a long time, as I've known that if these modalities were better integrated, well, I'd be much further along towards where I want and need to be.
But that's part of a longer story.
Step at a time. Keep moving...with some intention.
I have a bag of seeds: looking for a garden.
The word of the day seems to be...fleeting.
Can you lie next to her
And give her your heart, your heart
As well as
And can you lie next to her
And confess your love, your
As well as your folly
And can you kneel before the king
I'm clean, I'm clean
But tell me now, where was my
In loving you with my whole heart
Oh, tell me now, where was my
In loving you with my whole heart
A white blank page and a
swelling rage, rage
You did not think when you sent me to the brink, to the
You desired my attention but denied my affections, my
So tell me now, where was my fault
loving you with my whole heart
Oh tell me now, where was my fault
loving you with my whole heart
Lead me to the truth and I will follow you
with my whole life
Oh, lead me to the truth and I will follow you with my whole life
"White Blank Page" from Sigh No More, Mumford and Sons © 2009 Gentleman of the Road Recording.
When I first visited this part of Mexico two years ago, I found myself making a "home base" of a place I had been told about a long time ago: Playa del Carmen - a small city of 250,000 roughly halfway between Tulum and Cancun. There was a lot of charm and vibrancy on those first couple of visits. It's a very attractive place to have fun, or was for me.
Playa was apparently not unlike what Tulum is today.
I've only been up there 4 times since I've been here, mostly on shopping trips for items you can get in a city but not in a hippy town. It feels almost like dread going up to Playa, perhaps out of sadness in seeing something wither and sour under the slick glare of real estate development and the greasy palms of gov't with no guile or vision. What has been wrought from a fishing village in the last 15 years is a bright, loud homogenized party city, like a more laid back version of Cancun: pretty, but one-dimensional.
Playa is now safe for even the most pedestrian of tourists looking to "let loose" on their two-week reprieve from the salt mines. The "Mexican" flavor of the place continues to be diluted at an almost perceptible, exponential rate...block by block. The expat population -from everywhere- now appears to be that version of entitled bourgeoisie I find so distasteful, or those who came for the good life once upon a time, only to see it slip through their fingers like the fine white sand on the beach. The blur and beat of construction, commerce and corruption run full steam ahead up the coastline.
The last straw for me was seeing a multi-level shopping mall (Alegria) they're erecting directly on the attractive pedestrian zone (5th Avenue) already wallowed in 40 blocks of souvenir shops hawking Chinese and Mexican chintz interspersed between an overabundance of homogenized bars and restaurants. Herds of the loud, drunk and clueless swerve up and down 5th avenue having their "Mexican" tropical holiday. The tourists and the locals often appear to be doing some version of the same thing.
I had a look at the real estate market during these trips and was rather astonished that the prices were proportionally equivalent to those where I am from in the states - San Francisco. I've now met enough people from Playa who have watched it grow over the years and they sigh at what it has become. There are no more smiles when talking about what Playa is, only when speaking of what she was (I'm sure there are many real estate entities that would beg to differ as promoting certain fictions are in their own interest).
I think that in spite of it still being attractive and growing, those in the know are leaving Playa, getting out while they can. The time to invest in Playa was 10 years ago. Somehow though, I sense that boom will bust when Playa absorbs the last remnants of the real Playa into its larger fiction. Ironically, half the shoreline appears to have been taken away by Caribe - I think she's probably as disappointed with what's been done to Playa as myself.
Akumal is about 20 minutes North of Tulum and is known for being both a launching point for diving and as a haven for turtle observation and conservation. I've been up a few times to swim in the main bay and a lagoon with the turtles and tropical fish. It's a great experience to have that I find to be peaceful, carefree and satisfying. The turtles and fish move slowly, purposefully about their lives and still seem tolerant of people coming from all over the world to share their space. If you're very careful, there's a small spot where you can stand up at the mouth of the bay where the waves break on the reef. You are now standing 1000 feet offshore with the breakers behind you and the beach and hotels are what feel like a world away. A perspective corrector that's great fun.
(Wonder how my bag is doing)
After sharing their world, I've had lunch in a couple different restaurants and the dull roar of American English hits you abruptly head-on after a very satisfying encounter with nature. The gossipy chit chat of retirees, divers and tourists is difficult to elude. I have yet to see a Mexican who works in the beach area genuinely smile, perhaps because they all now live in Akumal Pueblo across the highway to make room for those with money, those consumed with filling up time and space with blathering nonsense in their appropriated version of paradise. I understand there is now some controversy afoot about indigenous beach access that was supposed to have been a given along with their agreement to move across the highway. Apparently it's not happening and thus, conflict.
Oddly, I try to not let on that I speak English... I've been sucked into "conversations" which I haven't wanted to have...a natural buzz kill.
"Yes, the weather is nice."
"No, I don't spend my time watching TV...I haven't heard of that "reality" show."
"I can't think of a good reason to invest in Akumal real estate."
Good food. Dissatisfaction with the figurative lay of the landscape. I usually leave quickly after lunch to return to mi pueblo.
I may as well be in Florida.
"Take what you like and leave the rest" as the saying goes.
There are probably as many versions of the good life and of paradise as there are people in the world.
Most of them seem to involve a preoccupation with something you don't have or some place else you want to be. Others are about having a sense of different possibilities and opportunities, and about charting your own course and making and having something of your own.
Put in these essentialized and reductive terms, I can't help but notice that most of these dreams are possibly less in touch with the moment and being grateful for what you have within it. We are always wanting more.
Playa and Akumal are places where there is - or was - a convergence of similar dreams. Nothing wrong with that and I certainly have my own rendering of a dream.
Sadly though, when there are a lot of humans with similar notions that congregate with similar visions, and you add a bit of big money, avarice and corruption all grasping at a piece of paradise, the process or dynamic somehow always seems to tarnish the best intended dreams.
I've been thinking of what might happen to my favorite, irreverent, hippy town paradise.
More on that later.
I'm just like you but most definitely me.