Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tales of the Koko Lion, Part 25: Finding Grace at Art Center– Arrival

"The most important thing in life is showing up."
Woody Allen

Even though he was only twenty-one, the years seemed to weigh a little heavily on him. Disproportionately so. I suppose it was more a crisis of attitude than anything else, as he didn't think he'd witnessed any more trauma than normal (other than his childhood), or hadn't fairly well survived Life's most terrible tests so far...but then, what was merely terrible to him may have been ruinous to some, and he was pretty sure that he didn't know what normal was.
He just felt that he fit a bit obliquely into the world, and had a persistent, not totally uncommon sense of there being a transparent veil of sorts separating him from the happy, practical life of belonging-to that seemed to be other kids' birthrights. He'd read about that, that veil in the Existentialism he was drawn to when he was twelve, Camus and Sartre, Kafka...Marvel Comics. So was it simple suggestion, or acute and subtle injury that formed his youthful romantic alienation...and which is it with any disaffected kid?

The veil cast a decidedly purplish, or violet tint (on the blue side) to Life, like the childhood story he remembered about "Grandpa," who dropped his glasses into a bucket of purple paint, where "Purple fires were rising up...From a purple hill." In his case, the perception heightened an inescapable sense of exile, of being a visitor in an indifferent world, a feeling that many people experience, especially when they really are visiting someplace strange. Like tourists. It felt that real to him, like he was a tourist here, wherever here was.

All those dusty canyon years growing up, avoiding his unhappy parents; years floating along the foggy shoreline and chasing his future like trickster spirits through the west, and miles of Nevada. The years on the sales floor, pitching expensive toys to oversized kids; the grinding, clang, and molten sputter of the factory steel; the strange ways of "entitled" high society he'd witnessed – the whole envied class of people acting out like petulant teens – all of this enforced a sense of profoundly adult disillusionment, and when he'd intuitively sought the ground of Love, it too had turned over on him.
His Mormon girlfriend wrapped back into her relentless indoctrination; the impish, warm-hearted neighborhood girl he'd begun to date died of a rare blood disorder; and then the one most exciting "older" woman who'd seemed to secretly know Life's promise suddenly died too, at only thirty without even telling him that she knew she was going to. Perhaps that's why she was so exciting, she'd stripped down to her mortality...she secretly knew the end was near.
And then there were his own personal goblins growing up too, forming around and within him. It wasn't all their fault.

So, it was this state of vagabond disconnection that carried him into South Pasadena, with his sculpture-making money, a matching grant from his drowning father, and his beat-up VW. He'd wanted to go back to a school in New York City, a long ways away, but as a condition of his father's largesse, instead he had to apply to the very reputable Art Center College in Pasadena, and had been accepted.

The other students occupying the huge mission-style house he got into weren't "kids," and were all a good deal more flush than he was. They agreed to let him in despite all the bedrooms being taken, so that they could secretly reduce their rent by a hundred bucks each and pocket the difference without their paying parents knowledge. So he found himself moving up into the hot, sprawling mansion attic, unfinished, ducking through the pitched roof tilting in on every space, following the house below in all directions. He staked out his "living room," bedroom, and studio between the open raw lumber braces, and lived there with the dust and the spiders.
It seemed an appropriately strange space, and gladly kept him at a comfortable distance – and so different from the others – which was what he really wanted to be anyways.

Pulling up to Art Center in the multi-colored VW that he'd been piloting around the west like an old mail plane, with his disassembled drawing board and army green duffle bag, he felt himself like a used truck without a muffler, sticking out like that from the late-model student coupes, and various trophy cars. No one noticed...but then it turned out they did. He did not care...but then, of course, it turned out he did.

The Art Center he pulled up to wasn't the southland fixture he'd heard warmly remembered by chummy old pros, it was the new Art Center, a monolithic steel and glass bridge forced onto a rolling hillside with backhoes and cranes and Caterpillars, in the familiar chop-terrace fashion of California development blight. The lauded architecture even seemed familiar, a re-hashing of all the Gropius and Van der Rohe his father had loved so much. There was something uncomfortably egoic about it that rubbed him the wrong way. He'd wanted to be in a vaguely stinky, trodden-in old school, with warmth and esprit de corps, but instead everything was cold and new – the kids' money, the hard, black painted steel, and all that polished cement.
He still didn't think he'd found the place where he might meet himself, but he was going a way.

Monday, September 19, 2011

What's Love [Actually] Got to Do With It?

Revisiting this very important message:

"My religion is Love." Amma

Have you ever heard of Amma (mother), "The Hugging Saint?" Amma has given her darshan – a deep loving hug, to about thirty million people! In sessions that last 12 to 18 hours straight, Amma doesn't get up, or eat, or drink. She just gives beautiful deep hugs. To hug Amma is like hugging an ocean of love. After so much hugging, she is built for hugging. She is without a doubt the best hugger in human history. She has given herself over completely to Love, and service, and, of course, hugging.

It's difficult in our modern culture to imagine giving one's self over so completely to Love – to make Love itself the single predominant motivation for everything you do. Some of us touch on it dedicating themselves to their families, or in service occupations, but usually most of us have more important things to do that don't allow us to act solely out of Love, right?
Nope – that's not really true. That's really short-selling the power and practicality of our deepest [re]source as a way to live.

At any and every moment, we have a simple choice between two directions in our lives: towards ego gratification in one form or another; or towards Love, compassion, and the practical path to growth and contributing to Life that choosing Love can create for us. We make this choice in every aspect of our lives, from the smallest decision – like what to watch on TV, or what to eat; to the largest – like how to raise your kids, or what (or who) to vote for.

As fantastic and impossible as it may sound, if you put Love in the center of every decision, when you rely completely on Love, your intuitive intelligence will kick in and direct you as clearly as if a very wise advisor were whispering right in your ear. You'll want to stop gossiping. You'll want to stop criticizing people and institutions, and instead, start getting ideas of how to directly improve things, now. You'll stop making selfish decisions. Your open-heartedness will allow you to intuitively know what to do in tough situations.

You will become a link in a chain of Love, and experience the incredible strength, unity, and freedom that comes from making right decisions, and from acting ethically.

"We are all beads strung together on the same chain of love." Amma

Life will begin to flow in a smooth, sure way that actually requires less effort to accomplish more. Even unforeseen professional and financial solutions will show up for you right on time, because you will be supported and directed by Love, which, as the great foundational power of creative Life, never goes wrong. Of course, you probably won't win the Powerball just because you feel you bought the ticket "with love," but just ask humbly, and you'll receive everything you need to be happy.

You'll likely still hear the voice of your ego goading or belittling you or others, making fearful warnings, like: "You can't make a living by just loving," but you'll recognize that voice as an unfortunate tendency of our human form – a delusional belief in false promises and solutions based on acquiring things, or gaining the approval of others – solutions that are superficial and momentary, and not really solutions at all. Everyone knows that for all of humankind, loving has always built the best lives, and will always have that power to do so.

In a practical sense, listening to Love will cause you to show up for what's truly important in your life, to be in places where you'll find opportunity that you may have never been otherwise. Joy will arise from all decisions based in Love and service, and will defuse your worries more and more as your new open-hearted presence develops.

Could it really be so simple that just the act of holding Love in your heart as the focus of your life can connect you, guide you, and provide for you? All the great wisdom of humankind tell us it's true. In The Bhagavad Gita, for example, Krishna says: "...when one's faith is completely unified, they gain the object of their devotion. In this way, every desire is fulfilled by me." And the Bible puts it this way: "As a man [person] thinketh in his heart, so is he." So it sez-eth.
The truth is that Love is the medium of all Life, as well as a profound personal power that can create a fail-safe template for living.

So, it just comes down to that choice you know – between fear or faith. If there's a part of you that seems to enjoy living with fear, release that destructive hook and fearlessly choose the direction that Love will clearly lead you in. It's not a big secret, really, just a very nice kind of common-sense...and the best free "life coach" there is. My dear friend Anne put it this way:

"The love that you share is the only thing you need to know. It is the green place from which all good things grow and spread into your life. It's where the river of the Source is constantly carrying you, so that all your worries may disappear."

Poo-pooing these beliefs as a "naîve, unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky fairy tales" is the attitude that has created every disastrous condition ever known. Embracing them creates the healing the world seeks...and Amma says this:

"In the end, love is the only medicine that can heal the wounds of the world. In this universe, it is love that binds everything together. As this awareness dawns within us, all disharmony will cease."

Next year, I hear they may have to move Amma's event here in NYC to a much larger venue. It's continually growing too big for one location after another. They may have to hold it in Madison Square Garden. Next could be Yankee Stadium, or maybe Central Park. It would be nice if the whole world could share a hug with Amma, and at the rate she's hugging, they probably will.

Take a visit to Amma's Site in the links column at left.

Read about this and much more in the new book: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor, from Llewellyn Worldwide, and the first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and BeyondBoth are available everywhere – but ask for them at your local bookstore!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Codename: Kids Next Door - More Sooper Dangerous Weaponry

Here's another group of dooper dangerous 2x4 tech weapons – these from the sooper obscure file! the "Clawzooka"

the "LunchBloxerr"

the "T-ball-aster"

the "TrikeAttack"

...enjoy – and be careful!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The 4 Signs (in progress...)

Here's a process-piece that I ran across the other day, it's my animation, "The Four Signs of Manhood" in an early, no sound/no color version, for the animatiophiles out there. (Warning kids: it's rated TV-MA!)

If you'd like to see the way it turned out with sound and color, find it right here, from the animation section of my site...