Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

Love Letters to the Universe #10: The Female of the Species…

17 Feb

Dear Universe,

As I’ve said before, it is under good advisement from all kinds of scientific types that gratitude equates with happiness. I like being happy, so let me tell you, sweet universe, what I am grateful for: peace. I think back on all those wonderful moments, sharing a dinner and a laugh with friends, building a fort as a kid in the woods with my best chums, doing the gardening with the Mrs. as my children frolicked in the springtime mud. All of these moments share one blessed trait: they were peaceful.

Should not this trait be a universal ingredient in every plan, action and reaction that we undertake?

Should not we, anxious to increase our happiness so that life becomes a dance down the street to the mysterious train junction at the end with teary-eyed hairless monkeys you love to wave you off, celebrate this thing called peace?

We have a day for it: March 8th: It is the International Day of World Peace. Not too shabby. But, I don’t see a lot of celebrating. To the hairless monkey the only way to really mark something as important is to gather with loved ones, eat and, yes, sometimes drink too much. We need to celebrate it. We need to celebrate you, sweet universe.

But, I see a group of hairless monkeys long ago designated another thing to celebrate on this day of days. It is the female of the species: women. That’s right, March 8th is the International Day Of Women. Which is odd, because that was the second thing that was on my list of things to be grateful for. Ah, women…

I have seen my daughters and nieces busting out into dance as soon as they could walk. It is such that I know that as an old man, free to travel in the wind, I shall see two such creatures of some other skin color or tongue, and they will dance, and i will laugh and say: “I remember that joy!” Thanks to them.

I have seen my wife weep with worry over her little ones, but stay strong and wise and comforting in the long nights. I have seen my mother set on a face which would frighten a terrorist out of his insanity, all to ensure I had what I needed and was treated as I should. To the mothers I cry out: Thank you!

My nanny, laughed and played cards with us when someone had been taken to the hospital. My grandmothers sat and imparted me with stories of when automobiles were new, or Floods took away most of the Northeast Kingdom. My nanny held on long enough to hold my hand, tell me that I was beautiful, before she jumped up out of her skin and ran toward the summerlands. I have learned to thank you every time the sun’s angle is pleasing.

And as a gift of thanks I give you this idea: That women dance around the wheel of the year. At each direction in the wheel stands another woman, tall proud daughters all.

In the East, where the rising sun lights every golden tomorrow, stands the Empress. It is she who seeks control. As a child at the temple or in the classroom she had all the answers. Here she is organizing all things in the patterns that will best please. At her height of power the Empress knows that sometimes brute strength cannot move a mountain, but with a little elbow grease, anything is possible. What the Empress lacks in tact, she makes up for in honesty.

In the South, where the youthful summer stays ever so long, waves the gracious Princess. It is she who seeks influence.  Look at how radiant she appears! You feel important just being in her presence, don’t you? You should be, because the Princess is importance personified; she has a list of names of people who justly are fed up with the way things are running around here. Don’t you agree? You will if she smiles at you, I guarantee it. This natural diplomat is not above giving a tease if that’s what it takes.

In the West, where the sun sleeps under a velvet sky, the Witch searches for the meaning behind the moon. She won’t always tell, but she just might know, too. She seeks what she seeks in this mystery of life, but she does so using her intuition. Unorthodox, bohemian creatures slinking their way through libraries and berry patches and into your dreams and your heart, the Witches keep the history and are sought after for their wisdom. Blessed be those who show kindness to a witch, as Witches keep without judgement all manner of company, be it with goblins, boggarts or very hairy werewolves. Just never, never, ever cross one enough to kindle her ire!

And finally, last and not least, The Mother holds the drinking gourd in the north. She seeks connection. This protective nurturer is the heart of any community. She is the binder of wounds and the counter of heads. She is the worrying sweetheart that will call the alarm, sit through the long night, and anoint the dead. She is the sensual beauty who endures all with the dignity of love. Although she carries a blade of guilt, she does not need to unsheath it, for to see such a mother cry would upset any heart that had even a shred of humanity to madness.

And there you have it- the four women, these Valkyries of grace and wonder.

I thank you, sweet universe, for all of them.

But, don’t be jealous. When I see these hairless female monkeys walking by on a calm summer night, I’m really thinking about you, my sweet.

To tell you the truth, I’ve been too shy to write before now. Now I am forty with streaks of gray in my hair. Now, I look about me and fully realize the beauty all around me. I’m old enough to appreciate the changing faces of the moon: or as William Butler Yeats wrote:

How many loved your moments of glad grace,

And loved your beauty with love false or true;

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

I love you.
Trav

Love Letters to the Universe #9: A Valentine

13 Feb

Dear Universe:

Yeah, it’s that time of year again. Love struck fools part their hair carefully, risk impalement by rose thorns and gain an almost medieval gallantry in the more than foolhardy quest of announcing their feelings and desires for their intended. How romantic. Of course, there are also those who sit quietly in the house of age and gallantly turn to the picture of their beloved and remember with salt-watered smiles. Ah, the double-edged sword of love! What mends also breaks. It is as ying-yang as everything else about you, my complicated vixen of a universe.

But, I see that there are others out there on this day of arrowed hearts, and they say:

Look at me, forlornly sitting, popping chocolate I bought myself, wondering why I never get shot by naked children with affinity for archery while shopping for avocados or picking up the mail.

Look at me, so ruggedly sure in love, fretfully wondering what token could possibly account for the impositions, the large and small forgivenesses, all the laughter and the tears?

And what could you say for these hairless and tailess monkeys, so awash with this feeling or that, afflicted with different symptoms of a disease endemic to dichotomous existence where there is male and female, self and other? What advice may be given that would mean anything to everyone of these sufferers?

I hope I’m not being too coy in stating it is quite obvious that you are looking for a whole lot of love. Why else would you tease and impel us so?

Say nothing, sweet universe. We can save the bedroom talk till later. I wanted to tell you that I have some token of love to give you.

This summer I stood on the porch with my wife and a few of our female friends. They were discussing men. Some of them were obviously frustrated in the quest to understand this exotic “other”. Silly me, but I piped up and said:

“The problem is,” I said in all my vaunted wisdom, “that you’re talking about men as if we are all alike. We’re not. There’s different types.”

This of course was followed by: “Well, what are these types, then?” What was I to say to these gracious ladies?

“Let me think about it and get back to you.” That’s what I said. A while later, I came back out on the porch (They were still there- it was a very nice day.)  and gave my answer.

They seemed impressed. Then of course, they asked: “What types of women are there?”

This is, as you can imagine, a dangerous question to answer to a group of ladies all in their sister power on the porch. I begged off for a moment or two, and gave it more thought. Bravely, I returned, and did the unthinkable. I quartered the female gender before my wife and her friends.

And they liked it.

So, here goes: (Drum Roll Please!)

The four types of men are: Robot, Superstar, Alien and Wildman, or if those fantastical archetypes frighten you: East, South, West, and North.

In the east resides the Robot. He constructs meaning through order. He is fascinated by how things work. He likes everything in its place. He craves routine. Many scientists, engineers, mathematicians, inspectors, and Mr. Fixit’s take their place among the robotic legions. They are the Eagle Scouts marching forth to put all things in order, to offer a rational explanation, and to avoid talking about anything messy (like emotions).

Hailing from the South arrives the Superstar. He constructs meaning through recognition. He strives to be the best at what he does. He is eager to loan his expertise and skill for your appreciation. He craves glory and achievement. I’m not sure if he loved his mama, but he sure wishes he could make her proud. He’s going to make his mark and shine like the sun. Those hoofbeats approaching? It is the Superstar in armor riding to your rescue. Just be sure to notice just how his armor gleams, and does he not ride his steed wonderfully well?

Wandering in from some Western World comes the Alien. He constructs meaning through reflection. This wide-eyed madman has poetry running in his veins. Are his eyes enthralled with heavens crimson gold of sunset or is he merely searching the skies for the mothership? Never truly at home among these brutish hairless monkeys, the Alien has faraway eyes, the wit that comes from careful observation, and the grace of a fallen angel. He wants to know why things work, and wonders if they ever did in the first place. Appalled by some foreign routine or mark of achievement, the Alien instead craves a sense of home.

From the North comes the sound of the Wildman’s drum. He constructs meaning through experience. This daredevil wants to wrestle life’s marrow from it’s bone and climb every mountain. Many explorers, innovators, rascals and rogues come from this wild bunch. They crave nurturing and discipline, for it seems however you might dress them up, you can take the wildman from the dirt, but you can’t take the dirt from the wildman. If he focuses his badboy energy into a fine beam of concentration he transforms into the unparalleled craftsman.

By understanding these four types, with any luck a hairless monkey might recognize himself, and thereby understand his own archetypal and often subconscious motivations. The hairless monkey female might better understand the mistakes she is making expecting love ballads from Robots, or a simple answer from an Alien. If it pleases you, universe, I will gladly go into depth about each of these so called “men”. My only hope is that if one should understand he or she would be in a better position to love.

The hour is late, my dear, let’s not equivocate or hesitate. Love is what you need.

The doctor of love is in.

Be mine,

Trav

PS- So, you want to know about the womenfolk and their types. Well, a boy can’t just go and give it all away. Not even on Valentine’s day. You’ll just have to wait.

Love Letters to the Universe #8: Life is but a Dream.

9 Feb

Dear Universe,

Why is it that when I’m on a canoe far out on the reservoir, so that in the distance people and trees become an indistinct smudge of color, when the water is sparkling in the sunlight like some hypnotic and ever changing vision, when the world peels away from me, do I feel closer to you?

I’m sure that Wordsworth was right when he wrote:

“The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”

This is true because all of the hubbub, the rigmarole and the shenanigans of life are just that. My life is the boat on the river, which is time. In those moments, when I am most aroused by the illusory spectacle of life, do I recognize that this is as true as it gets. For, life is but a dream, and it shall be “rounded by a sleep”, but “there are miles to go before I sleep”, so let’s get down to the brass tacks of the situation.

It is all an illusion. Now, don’t be broken hearted. I’ve still loved you, my dear. For you see, I’ve known since I was a boy in school. I sat in Mathematics class and learned how to plot a point on the XY axis. I thought about the fact that I was a three dimensional being that was moving through a fourth dimension, which was in turn a culmination of a series of third dimensions all lined up in a row that should (but didn’t always) make sense. These third dimensions were made from two dimensions stacked on top of each other. The second dimension was, you guessed it, made from a series of one dimensions. But what of the first dimension? The point? What was it? Suddenly that seemed incredibly important to my pre-adolescent brain.

I was told that you could plot the point by making a dot on the page with my pencil. But was not this a location, and was I not in fact covering over many points to make my mark to designate “the point”? I tried to make a smaller point, and even smaller than that still. Quickly I realized that this was very much like throwing something half way to a chosen destination, picking it up and continuing to throw it half way there. It would never get there. Why?

Because the point was imaginary. I had to assume that it was there and that it was important, because, hey, everything else is built from these points stacked on top of one another, right? I had forgotten the lesson I had learned from watching Benny Hill (of all places). Never Assume, or you make and ass out of u and me. If the point is imaginary, so is the line, the cube, heck, time itself.

It is all an illusion, a pretty one and incredibly alluring, but an illusion still. But, what is real, then? How can I judge it’s illusory quality without somehow instinctively understanding reality?

I think I am real (or am I real because I think?). I make decisions, this super-important exercise of my free will, and give birth to whole new universes, right? That has to be real, doesn’t it?

No, where I have gone wrong is in my assumption that I was becoming more conscious in order to best exercise my free will. Perhaps, I have free will in order to build a consciousness.

As a Danish friend of mine once said: “There is no good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.” Is this not correct? Is not the consciousness the very machine that makes the choice? If this is what is real, and it’s fuel is the dream that is us, and mailboxes and camping trips, light bulbs, poodles and everything, then all there is is consciousness.

Here I come closest, sweet universe to the beating heart of you. For from this flicker, this spark of consciousness that is me, I see so many others. This lights coming up against the dark of nothingness and roaring: I am!

The gnostics understood this. These thinkers and sages from countless spiritual paths saw the light which was buried deep inside of ourselves, and understood that like is attracted to like. That should they live to find that gnosis, that spiritual knowledge, they might better be drawn toward that light which is you, great universe.

I wish I could tell the rest of my hairless and tailess monkey brothers and sisters to wake up. They have become drunk on the illusion. They moan and ache over things that are not real. They have what they need inside of each other, all the light that could ever be, from beyond the edge of time: Light to guide their way, light to help each other, light to ignite each other in a bonfire of truth and love, if only they should be so brave.

Surely, they would see that if mailboxes and donuts and macaroni and cheese are illusion, then surely nations and money and power are such. Could we not decide that suffering, the illusion that we tolerate, has seen its last day?

So, would I lose you, universe, if I said that it was all an illusion? No, I say. I hear you in the happy laughter of a child, I see you in the teary-eyed happiness of an old man touched by grace. As every dance I have danced, every tale I have told, is but a shining of that light which is me, my consciousness, is also an expression of you. I am filled with awe at your shining waters, your fading to smudge of color shores, but you are not there.

You are the awe, sparking to life when I remember.

Let me never forget, then. Let me remember that as I sit in my illusory chair, eating my illusory food, and quibbling over illusory talk about illusory things, let me remember to look for the light in those sitting across from me. Let me be a moth to the flame, which will carry my spirit higher than I would dare, into your shining, burning embrace, where I remember myself as light and shed myself, as I might shed an old costume.

Then we will dance, you and I, will we not?

Love,

Trav

Love Letters to the Universe #7: Let Me Count the Ways

23 Jan

Dear Universe,

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. The Greeks had a number of such words to denote different meanings, but those are words. Love itself is as boundless as you are, as is my appreciation for you. But, still, I do not shirk from this task, as to count the ways in which I love you will be as refreshing and energizing an act as counting one’s blessings, for love is the one thing that is worthy of doing for its own sake.

Since it is fortuitously the seventh letter I have written to you thus far, let the number of ways be seven. There are seven days of the week, seven deadly sins and seven heavenly virtues. The archangels number themselves as seven. There are seven directions: East, South, West, North, Above, Below, and Within. Seven, in numerology, signifies spiritual awakening and seeking the Truth. Most importantly, we have seven central energy points to our being that the ancients termed: Chakras. These, when aligned, allowed our kundalini (or coiled snake) to energize, activate and ascend to divine inspiration and living.

As a being made of love, is that not the energy of my chakras? Cannot each one, sing a note in a seven fold orchestra which is my soul? How sweet, when by chance or design, I so aligned myself and sang my love to you, benevolent universe! Let me count the ways then, so that you will know the fullness of my love for you…

  1. The Root of Love- This is the love of experience, the love of sensation and the love of the world and its wonders. This is the love of a sea breeze, of crimson swathed sunsets, of the gentling caress, the crispness of the apple, the lofty grace of an arch, the sound of laughter. We taste your sweet nourishing milk, and know the balm of drifting sleep. It is only when addicted and gluttonous, do we blind ourselves to the beauty, dull ourselves to the desirable. With temperance and moderation we look for the endless variety of your pleasures, from the promising songs of spring, the sultry tones of summer, the lofty call of autumn and the drifting lullaby of winter’s song. We are rooted by your love to this life, this Earth, and we know we are loved.
  2. The Sacral Love- This is the passionate, erotic love, the love of tangled limbs and mouths and unified intent. This is the thunderous push of magnetized love. This is the summons that must be heeded, the desire that calls and is called. Lechery may malign our sacred song with unquenchable hunger, but given avenue, the Sacral Love, aligned by pure intent, fulfills and washes over us when the two become one. The dichotomy of the universe is found in this creative and claiming power. From this love, beyond language, beyond history, we find matter pulled to one another. We dance the tantric dance of the ages, again and again, without shame, without limit or regret. The swish of the skirt, the curve of an arm as it draws you near, the haunting song of creation reenacted through us by you.
  3. The Solar Love- From the Solar Plexus we find the love of self, for here spins that golden compass which gives us direction and purpose. Here when we listen to the loving song of ourselves, our divine spark, we know our own divinity. Here in the sanctum of our inner shrine we discover our truth. We may allow Sloth and despair to dim this idealized intuitive, but through diligence and perseverance, we will follow the call, heed our guts and know our path. It is from here we meet what Kierkegaard called the infinite self, that which is boundary to the world without boundaries, which is you, my love.
  4. The Heart Love- This is the truest love that binds souls together throughout time and space, calling them to each other. It is here that love for another reaches so deep into the self, that one becomes interchangeable with the next. These loves are so true and deep that indeed, one’s heart may literally break with the pain or loss of another. We may, born of fear, allow weakness to make us wrathful, but always we remember love is patient. It is here my heart most aligns with the book with which I was raised. I have said that we have faith that we are the embodiment of your desire to experience yourself. I have also said that we hope to do right by you by the enactment of our free will. But here, in our heart we know the true meaning and purpose of our service to you. For love is the greatest of these, and the greatest of these is you.
  5. The Throat Love- From the throat we let out words of fellowship which may find new friends, bind together communities and eventually find their way to our heart and write their songs there. The throat is the vehicle for charitable love, for here the word is the thing, and the thing is love. This is the love of friends, of community, of cheer, voices lifted to singing together. Only when we use our words to bind, hurt and and claim will we give into the greed of our darker nature. However, the charity of spirit shines through when we give permission and embolden, enlighten and hearten our fellow creatures. What is more fitting than lifting our voices in song, or sharing laughter, or praising your wonders, my lovely?
  6. The Third Eye Love- From our third eye comes the clarity of all sight with brings empathic love for humanity. Here all are equal, and humanity is loved with a love made into reason, reason into goodness. We disdain envy, as it is without compassion, without empathy. Here we can see suffering and know that it is a call for love. Here we can better glimpse your plan, which is indivisible from your beauty. This love allows the sight of a better world, one where love is not blind, but sees all and is content and rejoices with those that rejoice and comforts those who do not. Here we see you in each misty eye and we reach out to you, my darling.
  7. The Crowning Love- If we are worthy to wear a crown, then that crown is love, for it is what makes us great, binds us to you and each other, and makes a shadow of death. Here we are alone so that we might better hear your love song to us, great cosmic oneness. This is the love of philosophy, Truth and Light. This is the divine love for all things that are just and right. This is the love that we share with you, my darling, only with you. Pride has been known to go before the fall, but when humility gives us strength to lift our faces to the stars and see our destiny written there in glowing promise, then we are exalted with you.

Thus, great universe, I am in love with you. I love you as a sensation. I love you as a lover. I find you in myself, and love you there, as well. I love you as a twin to my heart, a friend to my spirit, and I look for you to love among all humankind. Finally, I love you just as you are, sweet universe. Since I am apparently made purely from love, and the two constants of this life are love and death, then my dear, when I die, I shall only be love, which is just what and where you are. And there I will live with you forever, and love you all the more.


Trav

Love Letters to the Universe #6: I Had a Dream

19 Jan

Dear Universe,

I had a dream. I was walking alone in a wilderness, winding and deep. I came into awareness with the drive to move through this untamed landscape and the hope that if I should I would find myself where I could better understand my place in this profundity of life. For what seemed an instant and a lengthy struggle of some eons I made my way, instinctively moving down a path that somehow continue to manifest itself before me in unforeseen ways. I felt the approach of my destination in my bones and interpreted these vibratory messengers as a mix of dread and a burning and curious need.

I exited the wilderness on the shore of a river as it flashed and sparkled on its way to unknown destinations. Across an arch of a bridge over the water, a great eye resided. The vast ocular manifestation dwarfed the river, the bridge, me and all in its unrelenting observation. I trembled and faltered as I set my feet upon the bridge. Before the unfathomable judgement of the eye’s scrutiny I felt naked and terribly alone. What right did I have to approach such a celestial thing as that eye? How could I stand before it?

As I went down on my knees on the bridge, all of my pretense was stripped from me. All my ignorance, all my sins and pride, were laid bare and revealed as insignificant trivialities. The day of judgement had arrived for me, and all I could do was bow my head before the unflinching gaze of the great eye.

A most uncanny event occurred. I was whipped as if from a spinning wind, and the tiny thread of consciousness that remained intact before that gaze shifted. I saw myself kneeling on the bridge, a shadow, a puppet. I had become the eye. The judgement that I had feared had always been my own.

I thank you, sweet universe, for this vision. I wanted you to know that I have taken the lessons it taught me to heart. It has tempered my actions and thoughts. I understand that the greatest possession one could own would be a clear conscience. It fills me with grace and thankfulness with the thought of this divine justice. It allows me to pity the wrongdoer as they and all must face this eventual eye of appraisal, their own. How may I judge them, when I am so filled with the dread and delight of having to face this eye? Colors, creeds, states, and affiliations are stripped away before its gaze.

Martin Luther King Jr. had felt this gaze upon himself. How else can you explain the way in which he helped us understand the grace of non-violent resistance. He had a dream, and that dream was a prayer and a request of you, sparkling star-filled sweetheart.

So many make requests of you everyday, but they do so without the understanding that when they do so, they must ask so of themselves. Some ask for retribution, justice, success, health, and prosperity. I wish my wife and children to be healed from their auto-immune disorders. I believe that they suffer so because of my father-in-law’s repeated exposure to Agent Orange. He became so exposed because of a calamitous conflict that sadly should have, could have been avoided.

I know how change occurs; it happens from within. That is what we have dominion over, ourselves. We decide what a hairless and tailess monkey is. No political, social, or military force trumps this inner-power, this will to manifest. The idea is daunting at first: how may we hope when monkeys only learn to love themselves, each other and you, one by one? Then, we take that shift and look through the eye, and understand that it is glorious. It is a change that can occur at any time, is happening all over the world. Lights coming up in the darkness, inspired by others, yes, but lighting themselves.

I will continue to hope for a world where we treat each other as brothers and sisters. Where we delight in the ride together.  I hope for a world that will not leave mothers and children weak and wounded from conflicts that occurred before they were born. But, I also will not ask you for anything, sweet universe, that I would not be willing to summon up from within myself.

For there is enough food in the world, my sweet, because of you. And if there ever was a shortage, you gave us reason to muddle through the rough patches. What we have chosen to prioritize has always been our own choice. If we choose to live with cruelty, violence, greed and intolerance, then we will reap that. In the end, however, under the gaze of the eye, we find all of these things trivial and we marvel that we could have so duped ourselves into ignoring the brilliance, the manifest love and goodness of you.

And so, I take the time to reflect on this day in the cold heart of winter, a day of celebration for a man with a dream, and I use the words of Percy Shelley and ask this one request:

“Drive my dead thoughts over the universe

Like wither’d leaves to quicken a new birth!

And, by the incantation of this verse,

 

Scatter, as from an unextinguish’d hearth

Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!

Be through my lips to unawaken’d earth

 

The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”

Your faithful and ever-dreaming admirer,

Trav

Love Letters to the Universe #5: The Definition of Perfection

14 Jan

Dear Universe,

I believe we’re perfect for eachother. In fact, together, we may just be the definition of perfection. Yes, that may be a bold statement unfitting such a meager scrap of flesh which is the hairless monkey that is prone to fits of frustration, melancholy moodiness, and regrettable over-indulgences, but I have my reasons.

I have accepted the fact that I arise from your self-indulgent desire to experience yourself, but I, being a well meaning but ultimately foolish hairless monkey am never satisfied. Is that all, or do I embody some other concept, contain some other aspect that is beneficial to your beauty and culmination than just the bare essential of my very awareness?

Yes, and no. It’s never very simple is it? But, then neither am I. I am a highly sophisticated organism that has become aware of himself. This awareness has given me something that I cherish, however it causes me anxiety: Free Will.

I make choices. Every moment I live and breathe, I am choosing this or that. We see the paradox in the instant which is the hairless monkey. Just as I am connected to you, that I am the love that is you, the awareness that you have summoned to yourself, then so am I aware of my separation. Likewise, just as I see myself bound by the finite experience of time and space, I am freed by the very dichotomized prison in which I live to choose in nearly infinite profusion. In fact, the more aware I am, the more knowledgeable I become, the more I have to choose.

Why is this good for you, my love? Each moment I exist, all the possible outcomes on the threshold of being line up according to my understanding, only limited by my consciousness. I might leap to amuse you, sing to serenade you, weep to move you. Each of these possibilities exist, they are created from my very exercise of free will. I choose one, hopefully wisely, and move into the next exploding corona of possibilities. How would I choose wisely? I would decide upon that choice of action or inaction that leads to the most possible choices.

So, each moment I exist; a multitudinous array of possibilities blossom outward from me, creating alternate realities. This is a fact that I understood many years ago. It continues to drive my every decision and gives me a sense of awe that I might so contribute to your eternal glory. “How can you possibly make such a mark upon creation?” you ask. Well, because creation is an ongoing event, and in my eyes you are forever young, forever nascent and freshly arrayed.

I know, so many before me have boldly asserted their love for you and called you perfect. I, too, join the chorus, but I add a refrain. For what should the definition of perfection be, but that which encompasses and embodies the ability to become infinitely more perfect?

You, my love, are a blossoming unity which expands into the great could be. Because of my free will, I live a pioneer on the threshold of that great expansion, surfing across the great gleaming tide of possibilities. And I am not alone.

Each hairless monkey has that divine spark, that little fire which ignites and embodies free will. You use each as an engine to become more, be more.

And how might I better sing the song which is myself, which blends into the great symphony which is you, my darling?

I must become more aware. I must search for gnosis, the spiritual knowledge, which has sustained me so well so many times before. What I find, I must ingest so that I will shine out ever more with possibilities. I accept all faiths, all paths, all experiences as tantamount to this ultimate result: Your perfection. And since, I am not alone, I must learn to work in tandem with these other manifestations of your love.

When I work with another hairless monkey in harmony and gladness, the number of possibilites are not doubled, but each one of mine couples with each one of his or hers until we shine all the brighter toward your intended brilliance.

When I was a very young hairless monkey, I was raised by some very well meaning, but confused and confusing hairless monkeys. They meant love, but suffered from that tragic and common malady, exclusive insanity. They told me that there was only one way in which I might celebrate your magnificence. They told me that it would be impossible for me to be acceptable in your eyes; aye, even for me to be a good and moral monkey without their guidance and the rigors of their teaching, which came from a very confusing and often self-contradicting compilation of tales and decrees, bound in a book.

I wanted so desperately to love you, I tried to read the book. I tried to understand how the uttering of syllables by some hairless monkeys should lift them to your bosom, while other most gentle and sweet monkeys would be punished in a lake of fire for their refusal or lack of knowledge about the book or syllables.

As you can imagine, I was very confused, sweet universe. I became distraught at the idea that I was born so stained and disfigured that I should need such a limiting path to your love. I walked away from these well-meaning monkeys so that I might better see if what they said was true.

It was then that I understood the nature of free will. I saw the glory born in each and every one of us, the glory that these other monkeys seemed to have overlooked. We were not born twisted and evil, but born a shining possibility, and the most glorious, of course, was love.

I came about this understanding most soundly through suffering and tragedy. The first woman that I had ever loved was cruelly murdered by a stranger. This event sent me spiraling into the sensation of so many shining and possible universes being cancelled, snuffed out, by the whim of some unthinking brute who, sadly,must not have known the awful impact he was making upon you, my love.

I try to be grateful for the choices that lie before me. I have written these letters, and shall continue to write them, with the spirit of spreading those little seeds of consciousness that have come my way. I hope that someday my great-granddaughter may come across these letters and know me, and through the love which I have tried to thread into the fabric of them, know you, my darling.

I hope she comes to understand your state of constant birth. I hope this future monkey will know that one can know you and be good without a book, or any particular syllables uttered first in some desert by desperate hairless monkeys so long ago. I hope they will know that to kill or enslave another hairless monkey is to strip them of that great power, their free will, which enacted upon, will fulfill our purpose, which is to spread your glorious perfection, your infinite being to the fathomless limitlessness of what could be.

It is just a choice, like anything else. Like sitting down to write these letters. I see the blank whiteness of the unwritten page and think: It could be anything. Do I let myself become filled with anxiety over such whiteness and forget my purpose?

Or do, I, feeling your loving presence all about me, a presence which is never killed by a stranger, rejoice and marvel at the thought: “It could be anything!”

And so may it be.

With all the possibilities of love,

Trav

Love Letters to the Universe #4: A Self-Indulgent Desire

10 Jan

Dear Universe,

I know what you are thinking; and it’s making me blush. With a title like that, well, what mind wouldn’t go there? But, since this is only the fourth official letter I’ve written to you, I wouldn’t get too naughty (yet), my dear. I am a gentlemen. But, let’s forget provocative titles for a moment and recap what we have covered so far:

  1. Life is a ride, and like any ride, it’s more fun shared.
  2. Life is a mysterious ride. For our own happiness, we must learn to accept the mystery.
  3. Love is the one thing worthy of doing for it’s own sake.

(OR)

Life is a ride through mystery, and Love is the greatest detective.

That sounds nice, doesn’t it? There’s only one problem. Where do I (and all of the other hairless monkeys) fit into the equation? Why are we here? What do I have to offer the life of such a fathomless and seemingly infinite creature as yourself, great universe?

You’ve been leaving little flirtatious hints for me haven’t you, my saucy minx? I thank you for that.

Last year, on the green cusp between spring and summer I went down to the river. I sat on the leaf sculpted shore of the Connecticut and placed my naked toes into the water. I let my thoughts unravel as I took in the feeling of the coolness upon my feet, the warmth of the sun’s caress on my brow, and the dazzling light show upon the water’s surface.

I thought about the water gathered up here in the reservoir, yet always moving, still. I pondered my relationship to this great body of movement. It accepted my feet into itself, effortlessly. This realization awed me with the sense of the water as the symbol for all things together as one. Was not my body made from this water? Yet, I am here, apart from the water. I am separate, or have been gifted the illusion of separation. The water is whole. How can I be one with the water and yet separate from it?

I imagined myself as I have most enjoyed the water. I have been known for taking a canoe out upon the surface of the water. My canoe is carried by the river. My life is liberated from the shores because I am surrounded by that mystical and glimmering incandescence. My life is the canoe upon the water, and my journey over the water is time. I imagined myself rising out of this depth, whole and complete in a canoe. I marvel at the light and the space and the rising and falling rhythms of the river. I may delight in the sound of a loon, or wave at other wayfarers on the water. Eventually, I will die, and sink back into the fullness of the flood.

Then it hit me. My separation allows me a vantage point impossible without my awareness. I am the water experiencing itself. A sense of peaceful awe filled me.

I (and all the other hairless monkeys) am the universe’s self-indulgent desire to experience itself. Each and every one of us is the eye of the universe looking here and there, marveling, and saying: My, look at that! Isn’t that interesting? Isn’t that beautiful?

Imagine, oh, loveliest of wonders, if all of the hairless monkeys realized this. Would they be disappointed? How could they be when each and every one of them is a manifest of this desire? Each one of them carries that divine spark inside themselves.

Would they be so apt to hurt themselves, to allow themselves to move down the river without taking in the wonder and glory of it all?

And once realized, the hairless monkeys would know that when they look into each other’s eyes they look into their own, for there they will find you, in all your desire and faith that, yes, it is worth it. Every single one of you is worth it.

Am I not a god then, surrounded by other gods? Then reverence would be the norm, peace the unquestioned requirement.

I am not saying that you have not had other things in mind, oh most complicated and ingenious one, but might we hairless monkeys avoid some of the wretched mistakes we make if we knew that each and every one of us grew from this most divine desire?

We have just passed the third anniversary of when one of my friends took her own life. She was a graceful and lovely woman, whose friendship was very dear to my heart. How I wish I could have conveyed to her this understanding: The universe has this one precious opportunity to experience itself as you.

Yet, thinking of anniversaries, I am reminded that in but a few handful of days we celebrate one other holder of said divine spark: Martin Luther King Jr. He and so many other hairless monkeys have witnessed your glory and said: “look here, we are all the same. The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” They allowed their divine sparks to shine so bright, that when we looked upon this brightness we recognized the awareness that was you, beautiful one. Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Krishna, Lennon and countless others, recording their joy in our hearts, and I thank you, lovely universe, for each and every one of them.

So, I accept with wonder and astonishment the fact that I have grown out of your self-indulgent desire to experience yourself. I promise to endeavor to remember this fact. May it color my every day upon the surface of this shining reservoir called Earth. I will look for that awareness in every soul I meet, and see my own joy and marvel reflected there. Know then, sweetest divinity, that each thing I do is but a token, however childishly crafted or placed, of my eternal appreciation…

…and love,

Trav

Writing update…

10 Jan

1. The Valkyries: The Bone Snake has a cover! It is being edited! It should be out some time early in 2015. You’ll be able to catch up with the monster-hunting motorcycle mamas that were first introduced in The Wardmaster. Very excited!

2. The Vale of Shade (The entire “trilogy”) will soon be available for purchase. I had originally written this (my first big work as an adult) to be a large epic one volume fantasy. Now, it shall be made available to read all at once (again, sometime in early 2015). Find out if Arden, Arriana, Tuckus, Lodon One-Hand, Oakia, and the rest will be successful in journeying to the Vale of Shade and facing the darkness there. Just waiting on the cover…

3. Love Letters to the Universe is coming along smashingly. People seemed to have recieved the first three letters with marked enthusiasm. Someday (hopefully in 2016) a collected volume of the letters will be available. Until then, just enjoy each one as I write them right here, faithful reader.

4. The Pyrelord is in the final back stretch of the first draft process. With any luck this fantasy featuring many of the characters first introduced in The Wardmaster (but mostly new ones, as well) will be available late in 2015.

5. This year my superhero story, “The Deadly Duo” should see print in a superhero anthology about retired heroes. Check back here for the announcement when it is published.

6. And best news of all: My muse seems to be singing full steam ahead. I hope everybody has a great year! Don’t be a stranger.

Trav

Love Letters to the Universe #3: The Biggest Question

5 Jan

Dear Universe,

I used to believe that all of the big, important questions didn’t really have an answer. I told this to a woman while we stood in a snowy wood overlooking a lake cozied between two mountains in February.

It wasn’t just any woman. She was the most honest and forthright person I had ever met. It was a quality I found very, very attractive. Of course, there had been the huge wild dark eyes, the curvy and strong figure, the warm and winsome smiles and the way her skin felt against my fingertips; it was the first time my fingers had discovered they could taste. There was the way I had felt sitting beside her, putting up my feet, and feeling truly at home for the first time in my life during that first night as we talked to the dawn.

It wasn’t just any wood beside just any lake. Here, we had come the Halloween before, just the two of us, and danced to some piping melody among the year’s ruins of leaves and bony branches.

It wasn’t just any February; it was the last February of the century. It was the February when I brought this young, wise, funny and mysteriously amazing woman back to Lake Willoughby to ask her a question. You see, I had discovered that the really big, most important questions did have an answer. You showed that to me, oh sweetest universe, by sending said big-eyed girl into my dreams and, again and again, through some mad coincidences, into my life. So, I did what any self-respecting young man might do.

I got down on my knees in the snow and asked a very important question.

I am still reeling from the answer. I suppose I will continue to reel until I spin off into the next life where I might (with any luck) get to ask (or be asked) such a question to (or by) such a spirit.

You see, I didn’t realize it at the time (at least not consciously), but as I had fallen in love with this woman, so then did I fall in love with you.

I have always been a philosopher. It is just how I have courted you, my cosmic benevolence. And in all my days and night spent thinking or talking over the mystery that is you, I realized an important fact.

We do things for a reason. We might (if living a life unexamined) be woefully unaware of why we do the things we do, but it doesn’t change the fact that we do each thing for another thing’s sake. This successive other thing is then, in turn, done for yet another thing’s sake. So on and so one, forever and ever, Amen (or Ah-women). The real question that remains then is: What thing is worth doing for it’s own sake?

Let’s face it. This is the question that has built empires and torn them down again. Some hairless monkeys, like the nefarious O’Brien from George Orwell’s 1984, believe that that thing is power. Some perhaps think that it is money, but what is money but the currency, or system which cradles power? Power, the babe that demands suffering for it’s existence and is born from fear.

Some would say that it is pleasure. I like pleasure, don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan. However, pleasure seems to me to be a condiment of life. I love a bit of ketchup on a hot dog, but I would not try subsisting from drinking the darn stuff. Would you?

No, the answer of this all important question was holding my hand on that cold February day, looking me in the eye and saying: “Yes! Yes! Yes!” (I told you I was still reeling)

The answer of course, is love. For love is not only the babe that is born of tenderness and lives off compassion, but it is the babe that is us. What baby can thrive, develop and turn his or her happy face to you, great universe, without being held and cared for, cherished and treasured? It is often said that we are what we eat, and what we most need, crave and relish is love. We drink it from the milk of our mother’s love, we eat the produce of the sun’s seed and the Earth’s womb. We are made from you, great universe, for you are love.

What could be nobler? What feels more right than this?

With greatest thanks for the multitude of questions that all lead here, to this, the most ultimate of answers:

because I love you,

Trav

Love Letters to the Universe #2: Mysterious Acceptance

7 Dec

Love Letters to the Universe #2: Mysterious Acceptance

Dear Universe,

I haven’t been totally straightforward with you. We have had a breakdown in communication. I stopped writing; you stopped making a whole lot of sense for a while. There were days when I seriously wondered if I’d write again; I told myself it was you, that you weren’t even listening. Heaven knows, that is a thought that definitely does cross a high school teacher’s mind once in a while when he’s trying to get a bunch of hormonal and over-tired adolescents to get enthused about British Romantic Poetry. However, it just isn’t true, and I know it.

It’s not you, it’s me.

I’m the one with the problem. I suppose most of humanity is afflicted with this problem most of the time. It is a drag, and I’m sure it makes us very difficult to tolerate. That’s why I want to thank you so much for sticking by us silly hairless and tailess monkeys for a while longer. You won’t be sorry. We might be horribly slow learners, but I think you could say we’ve made some real progress, haven’t we? In any case, we can be occasionally rather adorable, you have to admit.

The problem as I see it: Exclusive Insanity.

Picture this:

A freckled four year old boy with a mop of curly brown hair walks on the side of the road. It’s summer so the boy is wearing a yellow Scooby-Doo tank top  with the Mystery Machine on the front. Said boy scuffs his new sneakers to send a bunch of pebbles onto the hot road paving. He looks up to witness the results of this attempt and spies a thing which is beyond imagining.

There is a bird, but it isn’t pecking at the ants gathered there. It isn’t startling to wondrous flight upon the boy’s scuffing approach. The bird is lying so still, like a discarded toy. It’s little marble eyes are glazed in a hazy cloud. The ants crawl over the bird in a frenetic and grotesque dance.

The bird is not a bird, not anymore, it is a sign. The boy furrows his brow.

The boy understands forever. He’s waited for his mother to finish interminable conversations with old co-workers in the supermarket so he might convince her that he needs a comic book or a lollypop near the registers. He understands love, the boundless ties that cause one to study another’s every movement, to delight in their arrival. But now, he must understand something completely different.

He must understand the sign of the bird that is not a bird anymore. Some dark understanding blooms inside his head, but there is no room for it. The boy’s brain is filled with love and forever. Where would there ever be room for such a thought? How can there be room in an endless warm summer’s afternoon for such a thing on the roadside? Yet, Knowledge, as one agonized monster once said, cannot be unlearned. The sign has been read, and the boy must somehow contain both the immortal and the mortal. What happens to such a boy when he must carry both things in his mind?

He goes crazy. You’d have to go crazy, wouldn’t you? But, that’s okay; it’s a crazy world. When in Rome do as the Romans. And the Romans were very, very crazy. They weren’t the first and they sure weren’t the last. Some hairless monkeys have built amazing monuments, painted marvelous pictures, written heart-rending songs, inspired illuminating faiths, and so much more all because of that dose of crazy. Everything they did was crazy, but the world kept spinning and everything was sort of hunky dory.

Except sometimes it isn’t hunky dory. Sometimes it really isn’t all that fun at all. Usually, this leads to, or is a direct result from, exclusive insanity. The hairless monkey of the moment does not accept that he’s crazy with crazy ideas. He even begins to think that not only is everyone else crazy, but that his monkey poo really has a far more pleasant smell than had been previously reported.

Thus, hairless monkeys might believe that once a hairless monkey walked on water, or a hairless monkey had the head of an elephant, or that a hairless monkey divided a sea with a wave of his stump-poking stick, and that kind of crazy is just alright. But then the hairless monkey says that only his crazy story isn’t crazy. So this inspires the hairless monkey to yell and scream a lot, be generally an unhappy monkey, and if things go horribly wrong: kill a bunch of other hairless monkeys.

Everybody is crazy. You’re exclusively crazy when you forget this fact.

So to get back to it; I had stopped writing to you because I suffered from my own particular brand of exclusive insanity. Just as any trauma can cause one to lash out at the world or lash within, so can living cause two different kinds of exclusive insanity. The first says my way or the highway, cause I’m the only sane monkey around. The second says: everybody else must be right and sane, and I’m the broken monkey with crazy ideas about what should bring one joy.

I mean, to lock yourself away alone in a room and record your thoughts and strange little fantasy tales is surely mad, is it not? Yes, it absolutely is. Except there are millions of crazy things these hairless monkeys do. They watch other monkeys chase balls around quite a bit. They sit in front of glowing screens and push buttons in the desperate hope that another monkey, far away, might push buttons in response. Some monkeys look at birds, some stuff them, some hunt them and some watch other monkeys hunt birds on glowing screens.

Writing is insane, but then so is everything else. It happens to be a flavor of crazy for which I have a particular fondness. It brings me joy; and thus it is worth doing.

Why does it bring me joy? I have no idea. It is a total mystery to me, but that’s all right. I like the mystery. In fact, I think we have come to the remedy for the exclusively insane hairless monkey. And I thank you for that as well, lovely universe.

We must all practice Mysterious Acceptance. Life is a mystery, a crazy plot. We have no choice than to accept that fact. And by doing so, we hop aboard the proverbial mystery machine, pet the great dane and ride off into adventure.

Do what brings you joy. Enjoy the mystery, accept it. I will do so myself, and sit down in front of a glowing screen and wonder at what will come out of me, for the mystery of the universe is like a mirror reflected inside of me, as well.

What could be better than waking up each morning, to cry out “the game is afoot”, and walk out into the unfolding mystery each day? Nothing, except perhaps to walk out hand in hand with you.

Love and Peace,

Trav