Surpassing Meritocracy: the Artist’s Way

There are many different paths to greatness, not just the ones most commonly identified by conformist culture.  As long as your basic needs are met, where you put your energy—how you pursue excellence—is completely your business.  Realizing this can be difficult and gradual. It seems true, even if we admit that discourses (value systems) will… Continue reading Surpassing Meritocracy: the Artist’s Way

The Heat Death of a Wandering Star

A fortune teller in Northern California looked at my palm and said, “You’re going to lead an unnaturally long life.”  Then she slid my money back across the table and added, “I feel bad for you.”  This was in 2008 or 2009.  My memory of the year is less distinct than the mournful expression on… Continue reading The Heat Death of a Wandering Star

This Mad Dance

Looking at photos of relatives from the early 20th century, I’m struck by how incredibly normal they look, how I could walk down any street and see the same faces.  Such an insight comes easily since I live near the locus of my ancestral lines, but I think it’s a realization one could have anywhere. … Continue reading This Mad Dance

Way Up High in the Manhattan Sky

Reeling this morning from my all-Trump-all-the-time ulcer-inducing news feed of despair, I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing. I've been a compulsive news reader since I learned how. And, for the last few months, my morning habit has evolved into a kind of shamanic pathworking. Not the startup-bro takes ayahuasca at Burning Man… Continue reading Way Up High in the Manhattan Sky

I Just Had to Let It Go

  America I've given you all and now I'm nothing.  America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.  I can't stand my own mind. —Allen Ginsberg, America If there is such a thing as a formula for success in life, it might go something like this: don't complain, get results, and watch your back.… Continue reading I Just Had to Let It Go

Of Atonement and Troth

When is it time to pay our debts? Other ways of asking this question are: what do we live for? What is our highest value? What is the foremost goal of our lives? When will we know if we have reached it to satisfaction? When will we know that reaching it is no longer an… Continue reading Of Atonement and Troth

Holding a Cup and Overfilling It

Holding a cup and overfilling it Cannot be as good as stopping short Pounding a blade and sharpening it Cannot be kept for long Gold and jade fill up the room No one is able to protect them Wealth and position bring arrogance And leave disasters upon oneself When achievement is completed, fame is attained… Continue reading Holding a Cup and Overfilling It

The Stars Our Destination

Writing seriously means nursing enormous egotism, believing that your inner life is worthy of concrete expression, worthy of sharing. The outside world wants to constantly remind you that you are nothing but a small, failed, decaying byproduct of its grand mulching system.  But bringing forth what's inside you gives independent life to something that never… Continue reading The Stars Our Destination

On the Creation of Time

When I was in graduate school (for 12 years altogether--what was I thinking?), I had a rigid uncompromising attitude toward my own deadlines.  I had to meet them, even if it meant allowing the rest of my life to collapse. Not surprisingly, putting myself in this do-or-die frame of mind often resulted in exactly that:… Continue reading On the Creation of Time

The Fundamental Strangeness of Life

Recently, someone wrote to me wanting to know how I could support myself doing what I do.  It was a legitimate and sincere question that nevertheless had undertones of skepticism.  The writing life?  Really?  Just admit you’re flipping burgers in the back of some cantina, why don’t you.  And my answer was that I really… Continue reading The Fundamental Strangeness of Life