The Cry

Foreseasonal Experiences

You know that crisp, cool day, just before the heat of summer yields its scorching temperatures, that seems to come out of nowhere to remind us that fall is around the corner. There is at least one of these “foreseasonal” days towards the end of each season. It’s like the universe’s way of giving us a heads up that something new is coming.

I realized a couple decades ago that this gift of the universe is not exclusive to seasons. For every significant experience in my life, there have been similar moments of peering forward that let me know where I was headed. I remember riding up the elevator of The Baltimore Sun ~ I’m not sure if it was a particular smell, or the way the light was reflecting off of the stainless trim on the elevator door, but I do know that in that moment I heard an internal voice say, “I will be working here sometime soon.” Sure enough, within a few months I was. I am guessing that I am not the only one with these semi-psychic experiences. I am also assuming that this phenomenon is not reserved for individuals, but can be more generalized.

I was at the wedding of two community changers in Baltimore recently. I am only semi-sentimental. Well, that is a semi-lie. But I certainly don’t cry when there is nothing but the architecture of ceremony to evoke emotion. This was different. Really different. It was a perfect day. Billowing white clouds. The temperature was warm enough to hold you, with a breeze that kissed you cool just when you needed to feel it. The setting was an absurdly enchanting place ~ The Cloisters. It looked like a full scale gingerbread castle, with a glistening slab mica schist roof ~ impossibly heavy, and absolutely eatable. Flowers abounded, bursting out of the earth like I remember from my childhood visit to Hawaii. And the people were as radiant and multicolored as the flora. It was as if the gods said that it was ok for babylon to fall, just for this moment, to remind us of what we can be.

The children ran carefree, with flowing dresses and little suits, allowing all the adults to care for them as if they were their dearest aunts and uncles. As the African Drums announced the procession, time stopped to watch. The drummers were dark, beautiful and strong. A stilted glowing white bird emerged from the castle reaching six feet above the heads of the procession. Then came the fathers with their daughters perched upon their shoulders, both adorned with huge flowered robes that flowed to the ground. The girls distributed paper cranes, flower pedals, and rainbowed bubbles throughout the gathering. Feathered girls and tassle-capped boys followed ~ faces shining with the spectacle.

The procession opened. A sound emerged that pulled open my heart to its breaking point as it moved through my soul. Radant Sisters, adorned in Gomesi and other traditional garb, hands opened to the heavens, moved and sang in harmonic waves as though our lives depended upon their song. Everyone, to the smallest baby was as still as a tree.

When the song fell silent, Mark and Rebecca emerged, holding hands, joining their many worlds together. A Black, revolutionary healer, with a White, Jewish, creative, facing each other under a flowing chuppah held by witnesses honoring the four corners of the globe. They spoke intimate truth to each other and to us. They laughed and cried as we echoed the emotional honesty. In that foreseasonal moment, the world was in peace.

We all knew it ~
and the tears flowed free throughout the cloistered garden.

It does not matter that the summer’s heat has returned. Nor is it important that the divisions that set us apart in this post babylonian age, continue to tear at the fabric of humanity. I know, that this moment was a remembering forward, that we as humans will find a way to hear the song the Sisters sing again, and that we will learn their ways and weave the torn pieces of beautiful and tattered fabric together into a quilted tapestry that will cover, protect and adorn us all.

Disturbing The Peace

I have kids ~ I also love kids, they remind me to be hopeful. It also pains me to no end that the world we are giving to the next generations is operating in support of so few, and ecologically deteriorating at a rate that makes me worry about my own elderlife, no less the future for those to come.

There is a better way. But we have to build an imagination that shifts the direction of this hopeless trajectory we are on. We must collectively visualize and believe that things can change ~ we must see that change in order for it to manifest. Let us call this future PEACE. Jimi Hendrix said, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.” This is the formula for the shift.

It is really that simple.

I was sitting with Susan Hailman, the person whom I hold up as the example of integrity when ever the opportunity presents itself ~ which is quite often. We were discussing the absence of limits of greed that is the hallmark of this time in which we live. It is embarrassing to be a human. Chinese philosopher, Lao-Tzu, also had another answer over 2600 years ago. Lao-Tzu offered, “He who knows he has enough is rich.” Susan said, we need to introduce the understanding of ENOUGH! She’s right. I am sure you will hear more from her on this, so definitely stay tuned.

As an idealist, I have come to believe that change, even massive change, at the level of what we speak here, is possible. I also believe, as is evident from the title of this blog, that each of us holds the power to move the entire planet. We rarely exercise this power, so things move in the direction of the prevailing trajectory ~ social and environmental decay. It is time to trouble these troubled waters. So what can we do to shift this reality? We need to make the change ourselves ~ with every ounce of integrity we have. The change is mostly within our imaginations. As the prophetesses En Vogue once said, “Free your mind and the rest will follow!” Here are the three ingredients to beginning this work.

First we must create in our imaginations a compelling vision of peace. To me, peace is the state of actualizing our collective responsibility to ensure that everyone is OK. As I was writing this, I observed a Black woman in the coffee shop who was struggling to attempt to carry two large drinks from the counter to her table while trying to juggle her clutch purse at the same time. She had to leave one of the drinks. Without a word, a Asian sister who clearly didn’t know the woman, picked up the other cup and followed her to the table, delivered the left item, then simply walked away. That is my vision of peace. Yeah, that was just a coffee cup. But the message behind the act is the transformative genius. “I will be your hands.” The fact that these two individuals were demographically different drives home the point that race and other forms of perceived difference is simply a myth that masks the truth that we belong to eachother. Imagine if this way of being spread across the planet with the same compelling power as capitalism.

The two other ideas that need to be engaged are those spoken by Jimi and Lao-Tzu. We must raise our level of loving above our need to fill the emptiness we feel. What I mean by love is our knowledge that we are not individual beings, but cells comprising the same organism ~ earth. Would a body try to accumulate all of the blood for only its head? We must also learn to operate in a state of enough. Enough is about balance. It means we can actualize our potential ~ both as individuals, and collectively. Over-consumption is a sign of insecurity. What are the “minimum specs” we need to reach our potential? What would it take to be willing to trim down to that scale and release the power of enough to engage our true wealth. How do we use the residual resources to “lend our hands” to others to ensure their ability to reach their potential? This is how we create peace through our lives.

One last little thought. Imagine if the worst crime committed was disturbing the peace ~ being out of balance with the flow of resources to create peace. What would the world look like? How much the richer we would all be. Maybe that insatiable hunger for more, and the accompanying feeling emptiness inside, would disappear.

Eddie

Eddie is amongst the most beautiful and powerful beings I have ever had the blessing to meet. He is brilliant beyond measure. He is clear as a bell. He is a teacher, a visionary, and a master strategists on the level of vibe that I experience Nelson Mandella. And his laughter makes you feel home ~ maybe for the first time in your life. Eddie is the epitome of what African Elder means to me. Eddie is the best of what certainly Man has to offer.

Eddie’s mom died last week. She will be laid to rest today. Eddie is not allowed to see her. Yeah, I said “not allowed”, Eddie has spent the last 40 years behind bars. Incomprehensible, right? Gets worse. Eddie didn’t do the crime.

People who don’t understand life on the inside always say. “Of Course! There is no such thing as a guilty prisoner.” I’ve heard it a hundred times when I talk about Eddie. That’s TV. Truth is, I have known a lot of people behind the walls. This is simply my experience. The folk I have known are the most truthful folk I know. There is something about living in an 8×8 box for 40 years, or even 40 months, that makes anything but truth seem really like bullshit, unless bullshit is all you know. Folk inside ~ especially the lifers ~ like Eddie, can smell it from miles away. When you get down to the bones of it through poverty or through pain, truth is one of the only things that feels real, so the smart ones work the magic of giving meaning to what is intended to take it away, through the most powerful tool on the planet. What I call “THE ROCK” ~ TRUTH.

I can smell it too. I have been blessed to only be within the walls by choice. But I was also blessed to have experienced enough pain that I can feel it. Not with the near the degree of clarity as Mr. Conway, but enough to see the crystal clarity with which Eddie does everything. He simply did not do it. I would stake my life on it.

So we, All of US, have allowed this innocent and amazing man, to sit in a cell for 2/3rds of his life, because we aren’t him. That’s the truth ~ down to the bones.

What cuts deepest into my soul, is that Eddie, after enduring this, has to say goodbye to his mother, who is finally free of the pain a mother who knows her child was consciously, blatantly and wrongfully put behind bars, from the one place on the planet that was overwhelmingly the source of her daily pain.

This is insanity.

So even if you don’t believe that he isn’t innocent ~ for what ever reason. He has been doing nothing but overwhelming good every day of his sentence. How have we faired in the good-for-the-planet department for the last 2/3rds of our lives? I know I have some catching up to do ~ a lot. What kind of society will not lift up an example of, at the worst, incredible transformation, at the best ~ saintliness beyond measure. What motivation does that offer to our young people who are struggling to decide whether to take the impossibly rough road out of poverty, or the easy one. Where does being a Saint get you?

Its time for Justice!

Google Marshall Eddie Conway and see what feels real, or at least just, to your soul.
Send a Letter, Make a call! Thoughts and Prayers are good too.

President Barack Obama

Governor Martin O’Malley

Gary D. Maynard, Chair
Secretary, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions
6852 4th St, Sykesville, MD 21784-7433

Telephone: 410-875-3400, Fax: 410-875-3582

And for those of us who can stand in witness to represent Eddie, you are invited to attend the funeral. The family has arranged for the services to take place Thursday June 17th at 1:30 pm at March Funeral home.

The address is:

March’s Funeral Home
4300 Wabash Ave
Baltimore, MD 21215

Lets keep calling until Eddie is Free!

Blackbird

I walked into the restaurant and over to the bar and greeted the bartender. My eye was caught by a slightly familiar, partially balding man who seemed to recognize me. The memory slowly returned as I moved to the corner of the bar where he was purched. We had talked about the music the last time we met. I had played a few songs. He smelled our era through the lyrics and chord choices. He said he was about to go to some music festival, a throwback to the post Woodstock days when 3-day festivals filled with unshowered hippies abounded. They have apparently returned, only now the young tiedyed dervishes were munching on ecstasy, not mushrooms and acid as was the trend in our day some 35 years ago. He loved the music, he said, “And besides that,” he smiled, “I still love the young girls.” His words hung silently in the air between us.

Tears pushed out of my throat and down my cheeks as I reached the first-third mark of the 90 minute soul masterpiece, Blackbird, at the Everyman Theatre in Baltimore just days before. I am not really a theater aficionado, though I have taken in enough professional and amateur performances to judge what moves my soul. I finally began to understand the deep and painful mystery that had illuded comprehension these 35 years of emerging manhood. It is the deepest reason that I haven’t been able to trace the source of so many women’s rage. It has been violently suppressed ~ to protect men from taking responsibility for our acts, and to provide cover for our ability to continue to perpetrate sexual violence against girls and women.

Blackbird takes on this reality in an unbridled form, laying bare a brutally honest view of the complexity of this all-to-pervasive reality for women. The brilliant writing peels back each emotional layer, exposing a story that gradually coils the stomach as it weaves the context of this hidden, ugly truth. Blackbird leaves no room for the simple duality of understanding we men long for in stories that have a villain and damsel in distress. It forces our face into the mirror of our own complicity, revealing the collusion we have with the continuation of this unbearable, silent pain that has been carried by our daughters, our girlfriends, our wives, our mothers, since the beginning of time.

I left feeling embarrassed, that as a “conscious” man, how unconscious I have been for so long about this reality, and how ever subtly, I have ~ and virtually every man I know has ~ helped to build this invisible prison in which girls are forced to live. There is no passageway out of this sentence. If you tell the truth, you are pulled into the light of ignominy. If you remain silent, you remain in a purgatory of perpetually reliving the violence in the isolation of suppressed or conscious memory. Even if they have never been touched inappropriately, we see the eyes of men of all ages lingering too long in the calculation of their thoughts that form the cave of isolation in which these acts are conceived and committed, and are silenced by the shame and fear that keeps them locked within our sisters, to carry alone in their souls for a lifetime.

It is without question that I recommend that each and every man see this play, and in particular, this performance if possible. Megan Anderson and David Parkes offer a window into the silent scream of integrating the incomprehensible that, if you are courageous enough to face, will leave you changed ~ hopefully.

As a young woman stood waiting in the line to be seated at the restaurant, the dark, drooping stare of this all-too-typical man hung locked below her head, scanning up and down her exposed legs and sundress. I felt the sick feeling well across my soul as the silent, “harmless” violation took place right in front of me. Thankful now, to have some medicine to offer in response to the illness I witnessed. As he was leaving the restaurant I called him back for a moment, “Hey man, have you seen Blackbird at the Everyman Theatre?” “Its the most powerful 90 minutes I have experienced in, maybe, ever. Take some of your boys and definitely check it out.”

“Oh, no, I definitely will, thanks man!” Thank you Everyman, for the courage to stage this amazing work. And thank you Megan Anderson, for the courage and power to bring this truth into the light!

The Cell: Are They Really Our Friends

It was churchtime Sunday morning. I religiously pulled out my aging Power Book at the Starbucks after puring my brown libation into the receptacle beneath the carved silver goddess of the sea, stirring in just enough cream to take the edge off. There were a few couples, and a handful of solo fellow worshipers. Each of them actively accompanied by their electronic companions ~ looking longingly at them, stroking them gently, like lovers.

My iPhone got jacked out of my car last week. Mistakenly left her alone for one night in my complex’s garage and the evildoers abducted her. They broke the big, expensive window. Is there no honor amongst thieves these days? Called AT&T. No upgrade til June. So I am using this lame flip with a keypad the size of my left thumb. I had to grow nails to be able to push the buttons. All day, I’m missing my friend…

Wow ~ do I really feel like I lost a friend? Answer — Yes. It is crazy.

My daughter, 13, just walked in to meet me. In typical teen style she plops down across from me, without saying hello, pulls out her laptop. 2 minutes later she is leaning her head over our touching laptop screens demanding, at the far boarder of frustration, “I NEED INTERNET”, cause she can’t get her newly purchased Starbucks card to give up the web. Its a beautiful day, and here we sit ~ tethered to these machines.

How did these machines push their way past human relationship for the number one seat?

Michael invited me down to a latin jazz performance the other night. He was with a couple friends ~ grown-ups. Mid conversation, one was texting incessantly under the table like a schoolgirl in her desk as if we couldn’t see, saying, “this is rude, isn’t it?” She didn’t stop.

I heard Larry King once describe the hardest part of quitting his addiction to smoking was that it felt like loosing his best friend. He said butts are right there keeping you company when you want to be alone, they act like your wingman, keeping you feelin’ “Kool” when you are in public, and are the perfect partner for a drink or a cup of coffee. As smoking has been banished from our living and working spaces, our portable d-vices have become the new cigarettes ~ and it seems we are all having click-fits.

I am struggling not to replace my iPhone. Not even because there is a new one coming out in a minute. I don’t like the hold it has on me. I haven’t had a drag in a decade for the same reason. Still love em both.

At the same latin jazz show, the sister with the phone said that she was a “military intelligence” pro, soon to be working in “Northern Virginia”. I asked what she will be doing hoping this would be my first encounter with a real spy ~ at least that I know of. Turns out she will be amongst those to decide which countries get the new 83 Million dollar stealth jet that can take of and land anywhere like a helo.

Wow ~ what goes into a decision like that?

Her proud response ~ “Five years of training.” Comforting. I told her I was glad that a woman was making that decision, particularly one with a 1-year-old child. I asked her to include him, and every other child on the planet, as she parses the equation.

Daniel J Gerstle, founder of Helo Magazine, informed me that helo is what they call choppers in the world of relief work. Not sure if it’s pronounced “hell-o” or “heal-o”. Guess that depends on which application we are referring to. Won’t it be lovely when healing is the only application of our most elegant and efficient technologies.

At what point do machines deserve to be treated as our friends?

My emerging answer: When they give life rather than taking from it. I’m out of this cell ~ going to hang with my beautiful daughter on this lovely day. Leaving you with some peaceful green from the Helo crew…

Subjective Support

Eachother

EachOther

The western world has this obsession with the myth of objectivity, as if there as any such thing as an objective viewpoint. In a 1998 study, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science conducted a highly controlled experiment demonstrating how even a beam of electrons is affected by the act of being observed. They proved that the greater the amount of “watching” takes place, the greater the level of influence on what is being watched. That means that even inanimate objects are effected by the presence of others. That’s deep, huh?

So when we go to individuals for support or guidance in the hope they can offer us an “objective perspective”, an oxymoron, what are we actually asking? Are we asking not to be moved by others? Are we actually asking that they cease to exist? Are we asking to stay stuck where we are because we fear change? SpiritBone Catalytic Guidance is a partnership, one in which it requires the guide to be fully subjective ~ to be who s/he is in order to enter a mutual moving ~ a dance. It is through this dance that the supportive relationship emerges in which both partners evolve and free up to be more of who they are. It is dependent upon what was proven at the Weizmann Institute. It assumes that we are interconnected to such a degree that your existence literally changes me. Even if we do not know each other.

In South Africa, the Zulu people have an understanding which is called UBUNTU. There is no English translation for this word. There is a reason that our Western ideology does not have this word. It is dependent upon the negation of this truth to sustain itself. But it is also the same myth that allows us to have the word “objective”. UBUNTU, as close as I have been able to process it through my Western training, means we are responsible for eachother’s wellbeing. Maybe even, we are eachother. Now, as I type the words “wellbeing” and “eachother” as singular words, my spellchecker underlines them in red, reminding me that those ideals should be broken apart and isolated from each other. The true revolution is to sit with the judgement of this individualistic, objectified culture and continue to know that they belong together, with every cell in ourbeing.

What if the truth is that the doctor is being healed by the patient, and the therapist is being healed by the individual on the couch? We actually know that somewhere in our souls ~ both as practitioner and patient ~ that the benefits of the interaction often weigh on the side of those in the healer role. It is actually the relationship that creates the healing. If we deny that truth to maintain our power over others in an imbalanced, patriarchal relationship, are we not doing more harm than good?

I have a close friend who was just diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. He was told very concretely by folk in white coats about his future on the planet. He jokingly said to me, “I told them, ‘You can’t talk to me that way!’, and I hit them!” But he is right ~ who the hell are they to pretend objectively that they can tell him anything in such a detached way as if something is happening to him and not US?

What if the whole premise of our individuality is simply wrong?

I am not a doctor, I simply sit with folk who want to work in a collaborative way to emerge what is going on with, around, and between US, from the premise that we are connected like the electrons are connected to the observers. And that by our sitting together ~ exploring what is emerging in our collective reality, we can help eachother to understand our next moves ~ on behalf of eachother and the whole of humanity ~ The Big Family. My friend’s sister partners in the SpiritBone work with me. She said at our last session that she breaths healing into her brother’s cells. I know for certain she can do this ~ as can I. So I am joining her in that process. So can you, without even knowing him, you can breath wellbeing into his cells, because we are all connected. So I invite you into this very subjective work of supporting eachother. I invite you to breath wellbeing into my/your brother’s cells. And let us together be very subjective observers of the powerful influence WE have!

For more information: SpiritBone Catalytic Guidance