Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Notes from my 77th trip (Concentration)

Everyone is different and all true paths lead to the same source. There is no need to judge a path if it is not the one you are walking.

The majority of the second half of you and Flora's relationship was painful and you do not need the pain any longer. You have learned all you needed to learn. 

That feeling of rescue arriving in a moment of deep despair, that is what VONA is for the tribe of writers.

The biggest problem w/ most writers is that they have all these opinions on shit they've never lived themselves.

If I'm to be completely honest, I'd say the majority of Fulbright scholars are snot-nosed over-educated kids that want attention for the intellect. I can say that b/c I'm a Fulbright scholar.

Flora, I always want you to be safe and happy, but I do not want you in my life at this moment. That's not to say I'm not open to it in the future, and I'm not talking about as a lover, a mate, or even a friend. I mean as a person in my life. When that door opens, maybe you will be there or you will not be there, but right now that door is closed. You are no longer welcomed in this house.

Every moment of my life has been about training for a greater goal. I am now starting to see that goal.

I am actually really glad i haven't written a book because had I written a book anytime before, say, 3 years from now, the way I thought and level of my writing ability, I'd probably want to strangle myself. It would have all come from the ego.

Most people that want to write a book about their lives need to understand that almost everyone lives a life, just as, if not more, interesting than yours.

You need to separate the moments between when you are working through your own shit and when you are working with the Divine.

When you are injured, RESPECT the injury. Do not miss the lessons it is trying to teach you.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Notes from my 76th trip (Birthday Work)

I am going to stop apologizing so much for being me. Nobody should apologize for being who they are.

You can go after Flora if you want, but your life will not end if you don't end up w/ her. It will be different, but not worse. The two paths are equal. You just need to choose.

It's fine that you were hurt so badly by Flora. It does make you weak. It also makes you human. 

You are walking the right path at the right pace. Do not be ashamed of your life anymore.

You don't have to live a life ruled by your thoughts and emotions.

It is when things stop happening to you and you need to choose. That is growing up.

Afrose, I hope you know that the scars we earned from our bed-ridden sorrows have only made us stronger.

Putting aside some resentment for a friend when they approach you for help is not being fake. It is called being a friend. 

It's funny when you notice that someone put considerable effort into crafting a sentence. Even funnier when it sucks. Kind of sad actually. But it's okay. I've written plenty of shitty sentences (and will continue to do so) in this life. 

Take every piece you write seriously. 
Treat them all as equals.

I am in need of protection for where I am going.

This is totally of my sole artistic perspective, but people who overuse adverbs in writing are really annoying.

It's sad when you remember to take notes during the moment, but you can't read the handwriting in which you wrote it in. 

I called Flora the other day after receiving news that a friend of mine passed away and I wanted to make sure she was alive. Sometime in the conversation she said something to the effect of, "We should talk more." My initial reaction was, "I don't want you in my life! You never called, you never messaged, you forgot my birthday - twice, and you abhorred my phone calls when I was almost killed by a staph infection and I just wanted someone to be there. You want to call me a friend? You don't even know what the word means." 
Or maybe she does and I'm just being butt-hurt. I don't know. 

When I say that "You are annoying," I mean that as an insult, like it's not even that you don't exist in my life, but you've done something to where I have to exert energy into disliking you. It is often said casually, but it is one of the only hurtful comments I can say to someone. I'm basically talking about you, Laura

I choose to be a Warrior of Peace.

A******, I just want to tell you that you are touching a very sensitive part of my heart and I know inside of me that I cannot move forward until I resolve what is still there. Do not pray for a particular outcome. Just let it be. And know, whatever happens, you are a very special person in my life.

People who are still doing the same thing they were doing in high school. I feel bad for them. I guess that could also be noble in some regards, but in most cases it's not. 

All I wanted was Flora to treat our relationship more seriously, like, "Yo! The real thing has shown up. For both of us!" 

But she treated it like an accessory. She didn't take it seriously.

Or maybe she did, which is why she knew we had to break up. 

I am very good a remembering how to correct myself. 
But I also need to be reminded every so often.

Even if I was to go back after Flora, I don't even know where it would start. I haven't put enough serious thought into the proposal since I am afraid of thinking about it. I could fail. And that would hurt a lot. But I could also win, and that would mean the world to me. 

Flora was the first girlfriend I had that made me feel OK at being who I truly am.

I don't even know if I dated my first girlfriend because I found her attractive, or that everyone else did and I just wanted to prove something.

It is sad when a father cannot see his child grow up.

I used to teach a writing course to ex-convicts about to released back into society. One of the prompts was, "What was the moment in which you realized you needed to change your life?" One of them said to me, "When it was my daughter's 5th birthday and I was sitting in a jail cell." 

I'll never forget that answer.

Anytime an apartment manager called themselves a "bulldog" in a sense of authority, they are asking to be ridiculed.

Dude. I just realized that we financially supported a publicly known woman beater AND he had the gall to put on, while beautifully masterful, a boring, no risk-taking fight. What a dickwad Floyd Mayweather Jr. is. 

Never believe that you are a mistake in this world.

If I ever heard someone say to another person, "You never should have been born," I'd stand up for that person it was being directed at. I'll say something to the offender like, "Ma'am, I say this w/ the utmost respect for you are my elder, but saying someone should be denied life is a horrible thing to say and often times a thing in your life and/or your past that needs to be resolved first before you interact with others this way." 

I know it seems like I live this crazy, exciting life traveling all the time, but truthfully speaking, I'd much rather have a rather tame and mild relationship w/ Flora. I could see the entire universe in her eyes.

Maintaining your integrity as a person will protect you from most types of heartbreak

I am beginning to become responsible for my presence. 

It is said that love is the most powerful force in existence. 
This story only proves that notion further.

Aside from the obvious reasons why porn is wrong, it just feeds an instinct that keeps us imprisoned. 

Those who have knowingly chosen the side of evil need to be vanquished.

I just have to stop being arrogant and I will no longer get hurt.

When you are about the right stuff, you can go anywhere.

Hopi Prophecy. 

Don't make everything so dramatic. You do not need an audience for your pain. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Notes from my 75th trip (Cura)

Don't base your present moment entirely on your past experiences. It is reference material. Sure. But not the whole thing.

I guess the thing I am most proud about w/ my meager accomplishments in boxing and jiu-jitsu, is that I had to earn them. You can't buy trophies and belts, not the real ones, anyway. And having money helps, it frees up your time to train, but the crux of that payment is made up of blood, sweat, and tears.

I can actually say that I was was one of the fighters of the Bumblebee Boxing Club, like not someone who trained there for a few months, but like one of the fighters. There was an era I was part of. If you are tuned into fighting or Seattle history, that is fucking dope.

Being a fight journalist is about being aware of everything that happens in a given environment, all the time. 
You're never off the clock, basically.

Breaking up w/ Flora was, in this strange way, like being thrown into a diamond shaped glass prison where I wanted to break the walls down by yelling at them. The way I freed myself was by sitting still and being silent. 

I am really afraid of confronting myself sometimes.

Life is like a giant puzzle that is laid out before us. The challenge of living is just trying to find the answer. But I tell you what. Only the puzzles that we can handle are given to us.

I look at my heartbreak w/ Flora as armor I needed for the journey ahead. But I still argue, part of me still isn't here.

I totally get why some people don't go after their dreams. I totally get it. And that should make us that much more fed up w/ the systems that are keeping us imprisoned. 

If I am to be completely honest, there is a large part of me that very much wants to hurt Flora's feelings.

I am very much a living example of someone letting life happen to them.

James, you really need to write that book.

I am sorry if I've ever been "too much" for someone's liking. Still learning boundaries.

Life is boundless. At the same time, there are certain boundaries that are not meant to be crossed.

People need to let go of that notion that they have lived this crazy life as if it's never been done. It's really annoying. It cheapens writing.

At the same time, I always wonder how much my criticism of other people are really criticisms about myself.

There are plenty of mornings in the past 6 months where I've awoken and the first thought I had was, "This again?"

"I am with you and never consider myself dead." 

Dude, Clayton. I will miss you brother. What happened to you wasn't fair. 

When governments begin treating their soldiers like pieces to be moved on a board, they should be thrown into prison

Flora put me through some really torturous shit and I am struggling to find the forgiveness in my heart.

"My tears are my only knowledge for I've forgotten who I am." 

I think the thing I loved about Rio is that there were so many bold statements being made on how to live life. 

Sometimes you ask the worth of your manhood and you are sitting there on a used green bicycle in the middle of traffic in Rio de Janeiro. Sometimes that happens. 

I guess one of my deepest fears is for Flora to become a nameless, faceless carcass in the world of meatpacking. But she's smarter than that.

And then this too, returns to me as a gift. 

You have to accept that a lot of what you and Flora was not good for you, and you need to let go of it. What remains after that is the true definition of how much you love her. 

I am really impressed w/ people who are in sincere and honest, happy marriages.

I will write poems one day. You can count on me for that.

I just realized something. Writers talk a lot. 

When someone tells me they believe someone is "good people", solely based on because I said so, that means something to me.

I am the son of the Queen of the Dark Moon
I am the Prince of Fire and Earth.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

In honor of a brief friendship

The other day I found out a friend of mine was murdered in Rio. For privacy's sake, I'll call him "Miguel". Miguel was an officer in the Pacifying Police Unit (UPP) in Rio, so I don't know if "murdered" is the right term, but he died on the job in a rather violent manner - shot about 20 times on his way home - so it was pretty intense to say the least. 

For those unfamiliar with the term "UPP", it basically refers to these police units that have been placed in favela communities throughout Rio with the objective of "pacifying" areas that were previously ran by drug factions. The official mission statement is to make these areas "safer" for its residents, though plenty of criticism surrounding the operation has arisen since its initiation. The first is the fact that the Brazilian government only began implementing the program for the international mega events and its true purpose is to more or less make tourists feel safer during their visit. The second is police brutality against community members. I work closely with kids in a couple of favelas, so my initial reaction, to put things mildly, was very much on the side of "Fuck the UPP". It wasn't until I met Miguel that my views began to change.

I'm not going to pretend Miguel and I were good friends. We met face-to-face maybe two times and spoke only a few more times after that over Facebook. It was more what our friendship represented in my life that meant something. He had a surprisingly gentle demeanor for someone that was part of a notoriously "ruthless" police force and I really couldn't imagine him committing any sort of brutal acts against anyone. At least from our interactions, Miguel believed in and did treat people fairly, and I'd like to think that he maintained an integrity for justice within his working life. To me, he just seemed like a normal guy who wanted normal things in life - a family, a job, and some semblance of peace. His former fiancee (my friend and the way I know Miguel), wrote in the email delivering the news that he planned on soon leaving the police force, and they were processing the marriage paperwork for him to come live in the United States, which I guess makes this whole thing more tragic. Granted, there could totally be this aggressive, asshole side of him that I never saw, but I can say that what I did see of him was genuine, and that at the very least, it was part of who he was.

Miguel and I never discussed our political beliefs, but we would talk at length about jiu-jitsu. He told me a number of times about how he wanted to begin training, and I matched that number in urging him to train with me at the dojo. The problem was that I trained in the Centro district and he lived and worked in the Ilha Do Govenador. Anyone familiar with Rio territory will tell you that with the weekday traffic, those two neighborhoods are virtually worlds apart, and jiu-jitsu, no matter how great the academy, is hard a sell to justify navigating that journey.

Then one day after training a teammate of mine came up and randomly said to me: 

"Dude, you have to come train with us on the Ilha Do Govenador on Saturdays!" 

"There's a Gracie Humaitá academy there?!"

"Hell yeah there is!"

The conversation really started and ended, just like that. To this day I have no idea why that guy came up and said that to me, but I do remember going home really excited that day, immediately telling Miguel about what had happened in probably way too much detail, attributing the entire interaction to some kind of divine inspiration. He laughed at the notion, but was happy to see the possibilities opening up. I'd like to imagine both of us smiling behind the computer screens, at least I know I was. I told him it was a sign that he should start training and how one day we'd roll together on Saturdays. I'd envision finishing a sparring round with him, shaking his hand and saying something like, "You know, it's really cool that we know each other." I was so sure that it was going to happen one day, but I guess now, maybe not so much.

The thing that hits me most about my friendship with Miguel is that he made me rethink my views on the world, not by argument or by imposition, but just by being who he was. Knowing Miguel made me realize that beyond all the political ideologies or the various "isms" in which we assign our identities, that at the end of the day, it is the people that matter. It's not about how many statistics you can quote about injustice, or the level of complexity in which you've mapped out the current state of the human design; it's about how you treat people, period. I mean I totally get and respect the representation of some dedicating their life to fighting some form of injustice, but if that journey turns them into an angry and hateful person, then they've lost sight of the whole thing. That is, at least, the banner that I wave.

It meant a lot to me to be able to befriend someone like Miguel. It showed me that no matter how large of an ideological chasm that might exist between two people, there is always hope to find some medium to understand one another. I guess it just hurts to know that he's no longer around, and I am very sad that we will no longer be able to continue our friendship.

Rest in Peace, my friend.