Sunday, August 30, 2009

Gosh, the loose ends around here...

Got so many things to talk about, so many things I could have already said. So many things that I've set up to talk about more later, but it seems later never comes. Well now is later. Forgive me my paradox.

I'm writing to return myself. I kept the receipt. Whoo-- what a deal THAT was. I think I was a bargain. But then, I don't think I adjusted for inflation... Anyway, there's plenty for me to write about right now. So here we go.

I've been becoming more familiar with the work of Dr. Wayne Dyer, specifically The Power of Intention, one of the audiobooks I own and have a chance to listen to while at work. It's good to keep my mind engaged in something, since my job doesn't require a lot of brain power. My wandering mind seems to run into trouble more than it runs into inspiration or motivational bliss. Especially over the last several years as I've struggled with my bipolar disorder and tried to get the right mix of medications... For some reason I'm left wondering about some metaphor involving a V-8 engine with a 4-barrel carburator, a rich fuel mix, and an in-process game of Jenga(c)...

I won't go into great detail in recounting Dr. Dyer's work-- he's better at representing himself and I couldn't do him justice. I will attempt, however, to summarize one of the ideas that struck me and rattled me in a way that only truth served in a large helping can do.

The idea is silent knowledge. Another way of saying intuition, perhaps, but I think it's more than just your inner voice. When a person experiences silent knowledge, it involves more than words. It's an experience beyond words, accessing wisdom that exists outside of language. One experiences it silently, and the words that attempt to describe it come later.

Dyer relates a story about an experience he had on a beach, where a woman's body washed up in the surf. Although he and the others there immediately began life-saving techniques, it was evident that the woman had expired. Dyer then explains how a silent knowing came over him, as if the woman's spirit were present and communicating to him. He stopped the life-saving and said a silent prayer to this woman he had never met, and yet felt a closeness with at that moment. This is what he describes as silent knowledge.

Forgive me, Dr. Dyer, if I misparaphrase you.

In another passage, I believe he's describing the power of intention, when he indicates that the force that is at work, beyond our intellect, beyond our consciousness-- the silent wisdom that runs the show-- is the same force that turns acorns into oaktrees, and a fetus into a human being. There is a greater knowing at work than the one that man has created. The ego and the intellect make grand attempts to tag and catalogue the universe, and have so far come up short with the cause and effect, logicical reasoning approach. Meanwhile, the universe just keeps on going, like a bullet train on an infinite track, barrelling in and of enlightenment.

Or so I've heard.

I had a similar experience on a beach on the Greek island of Samos. I couldn't sleep, I was so excited about how beautiful the island was, the thoughts I was having, just everything was going so well. We were having a really great time, me catching up with my college buddy, and Suzy and I both meeting a lot of very nice people. But I was the only one awake at three o'clock in the morning. So I went for a walk, down to the edge of the water at the beach.

The hotel was carved into a fairly steep hillside. I got down to the beach and paused for a few moments. It was so beautiful and peaceful. There was a slight breeze that rustled the leaves in the few, small trees that lined the outer edge of the beach. There was such a sense of calm in me, as if I no longer felt any pain or fear. The beach was not of sand but white pebbles. I picked up a few of them and tossed them, individually into the pristinely quiet and still water. I found it hard to believe that the ocean could be so quiet.

I let my mind wander... or perhaps it decided to go off on its own. I tried to imagine what had transpired here, in this exact spot, hundreds-- or thousands-- of years before me. The mythical constructs of love, death, and lust streamed through liquid colors in my mind, and I began to envision a woman, dressed in flowing white regalia, walking down the hill much like I had. Reasons for her actions were not known; only speculated. Instead of pausing as I did, she continued her pace, on into the water. It was as if she carried no breath with her, as she slowly disappeared, swallowed by the ocean.

I considered walking in myself, taking the next step. Would it be suicide? I didn't know. It would probably be seen as such by those left behind. I wondered about the netherworld region, about the regal woman in white. Should I explore the dark depths on my own? Would it be prudent to risk my demise?

I didn't ruminate long on a descent into the ocean. I returned to my hand and my mind and my body and remembered the pebbles in my hand. Wordlessly, silently, I asked the universe for a sign. "Do you exist, God?" was the sentiment, but those are words I put to the experience now, as I recount it.

I tossed a pebble out into the water. My eyes settled on the horizon, where the ocean meets the sky. Soon, there was a small flash of light, like someone on a distant shore turning a light on and off.

Without thinking, I reacted by throwing two more pebbles, one right after the other, in rhythm. Again, I looked at the horizon. The flashing light mimmicked my rhythmic pebble tossing. One. Two.

That was my moment of silent knowing. I felt it and smiled. I knew without question. There was no need to be skeptical. I knew. I knew.

What I knew I have no other way of relating to you. Further experiments may have shown many coincidental discrepancies, but I did not need further tests. A friend said that he would have thrown multiple pebbles in an ornate pattern to see what the flash did. But you can't do that-- you can't just jump into the experience as a hypothetical and make truth happen. Truth has to happen. And it happens despite all the Monday morning quarterbacking that goes on ad nauseum.

Anyway. So that was an example of my silent knowing. Do you have one?

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Raging Flaming Goat of Samos

Many years ago, when the moon was still made of cheese and life was full of magic, there lived a goat and a cat.

Now, sure, there lived a lot of other things as well. But let’s just focus in on these two, okay?

This particular cat and goat had been friends for a while. They’d been hanging out together in the countryside, being a part of nature, naturally.

On this particular day, though, the cat had reached a turning point. He was feeling unsure about his purpose in life.

He asked the goat, “Do you think I’m crazy?”

“No, you’re not crazy,” said the goat. “Why do you say that?”

“I feel weird,” said the cat. “Itchy. Like I need to do something, but I don’t know what.”

“Well you seem pretty calm to me,” said the goat.

“I feel... I don’t know... more than weird,” said the cat. “There’s a word for it. It’s on the tip of my slobbering tongue...”

“Well,” said the goat, “I think you’re acting fairly mild—“

“Yes! That’s it!!” exclaimed the cat, seeming to grow bigger. “Wild! I’m a wild cat!!”

And with that, the cat reared up, pounced on the goat, and swallowed him in one gulp.


“I said mild!” said the goat, muffled as if wrapped in blankets. He was very angry at the cat, and was getting more mad as he struggled with the cramped quarters of the cat’s stomach. “Let me out of here!”

The goat started running in circles in the cat’s stomach. This made the cat dizzy and he soon had to throw up. With a big *BURP!* up came the goat. Up and out and angrier than he’d been when in the stomach.

The goat was an angry ball of nerves and emotions. He grinded his teeth and snarled at the cat.

“Why’d you do that ?!?” yelled the goat, and one of his horns caught fire, like a torch.

“It’s my destiny,” the cat explained. “I’m sorry. I’ve got things to do in town. Been nice knowing you.” And with that, the Wild Cat of Samos turned and trotted off toward his fate.

The goat’s veins started popping out in his neck and temples. “What?! What was that?!?” Another of his horns started to smoke as he stewed.

“Some friend you are!” he yelled to the disappearing cat.

His anger was boiling now. He had no answers. It made no sense. What would make somebody do that?

The stress of being gobbled up and spit out like so much bad licorice was making him hungry. “I’ll go to the taco stand,” he thought. “A good taco will help me relax.”

The goat walked over to the taco cart. The taco man gave him a second look when he saw that the goat’s horns were on fire. The smoke got in the taco man’s eye and made him squint. “Would you like something cold to drink?” he asked the goat.

“No,” said the goat. “Gimme a couple veggie tacos with onions and cilantro.” He was gruff and demanding. And still very angry.

“What kind of salsa—hot or mild?” asked the taco man.

“MILD!” yelled the goat, not wanting to be misunderstood again.

“Mild it is,” said the taco man, grabbing the salsa bottle marked “mild” and squirting on more than extra for his fine customer. What the taco man didn’t know was that earlier that morning his nephew had switched the salsas as a practical joke. So the taco man had unknowingly just given the extra hot sauce to the raging goat.

“Here you go,” said the taco man, smiling. When smoke got in his eye again, he said to the goat, “I’m sorry, this is a non-smoking restaurant.”

“I’ll take it to go then!” snapped the goat. Soon he was walking away in a huff, another of his horns smoldering.

The goat promptly found a place to stop and eat and quickly gorged himself—he chomped both tacos with nary a chew. Soon the hot salsa began to ignite in his mouth and throat. As it got hotter and hotter he got angrier and angrier. He began to gallop around, kicking and bucking, screaming as loud as he could.


All four of his horns were now aflame. The fur on his head and back began to smoke. Now he was afire with anger and raging like a mad cow with a penchant for poetry.


He was running and kicking and making a ruckus. He kicked at rocks. He kicked the dirt. He kicked up quite a cloud of dust.

Some sparks from his horns landed in some dry brush, and it was soon aflame. He didn’t see the burning bush, as he was raging and flaming and totally consumed by his anger. As he spun around, one of his hooves stepped squarely into the burning bush.

The goat yelled at the pain, but he didn’t notice it for very long because he just got more angry and took off running.

He ran and ran and ran, still angry with it all. He ran for days, then weeks. He ran to the hills and climbed amongst the rocks. He ran for so long he lost track of where he was, who he was, what he was. But he knew he was angry, even if he couldn’t remember why.

Finally, he could run no longer, He was totally enraged, and totally in flames. He could feel nothing but his anger. All his strength was gone. He collapsed onto the hillside and passed out.

As he slept, he dreamed the most peaceful dream he’d ever had. He dreamed that a cool, pleasant rain visited the area, and slowly, softly washed all of the pain and the hurt away.

After a few days, the goat awoke to find that he was still on the mountain, still on fire, and still angry. He had stopped burning as much, and his fur and horns had all cooled into a thick, charred crust. He could not move.

Struggle as he mightily did, the crust would not break. So what was he to do?

He struggled and thrashed but it was no use. He could feel the heat of anger rising in him again.

But then he remembered his dream. The rain had not judged or punished anyone, but had cleansed and soothed everyone and everything. He thought about this for a long time.

The goat began to realize that he had been acting thick-headed. He slowly decided, over sometime, that he would forgive the ones that he’d thought were responsible for his displeasure and struggles.

“If I hadn’t been thrashing around like that, I might have noticed the burning bush,” he thought. “And the taco man—maybe he made a mistake with the salsa. I don’t know that he did it on purpose.”

He thought of his friend, the cat. He then said, aloud, “I forgive the Wild Cat of Samos for acting as his nature urged and instructed him to.”

After all of this thinking and forgiving, the goat realized he was no longer angry. But he was still stuck in the smoldering crust that was a remnant of his rampage.

He once again remembered the rain from his dream. Could its peaceful caress cleanse the crust from his body and release him from this charred prison? “Maybe,” he thought. “But it never rains here on Samos, so I guess I’m stuck.” He felt a final sense of release in his powerlessness.

He didn’t feel sorry for himself, or angry, or resentful. He felt peaceful lying there, as part of the hillside, amongst the other wildlife. “And there are nice views from here,” he thought. All in all, he felt he could enjoy himself there for awhile, and just see what happens.

After some amount of time—he wasn’t sure how long—the goat noticed a quiet hissing sound start up somewhere nearby. As he thought about what it might be, he began to feel a cooling sensation in his rear leg. The sensation soon changed from cool to cold—and wet.

“Sprinklers!” he thought. “There must be sprinklers, bringing the rain the countryside needs,” he realized to a feeling of great joy.

Soon the water had softened up enough of the crust that he could move his leg. Water trickled down through cracks and loosened other parts of his body from the crust. After what seemed like forever, he felt a large chunk shift away from the whole.

He flexed and shimmied, trying to move between the cracks. He tried to lift the large detached piece enough so that he could slide from underneath it. It was no use—it was just too heavy. He thought about kicking and thrashing about, but that was sure to cause worse problems. What if the whole thing collapsed on him? He’d be crushed!

He opted instead to wait. And sure enough, about the time the sprinklers shut off, enough of the crust was softened, moistened, and melted away, that he was able to slide and scoot his way away from the crusty embers of his anger.

He stepped back in awe of the glowing embers, still smoldering. They were so much bigger than he was. And still burning in some parts.

“So long, Raging, Flaming Goat of Samos,” he said, and gleefully galloped back to town to visit with the taco man.

Legend has it that the crusty exoskeleton of the Raging, Flaming Goat of Samos can still be seen from certain parts of the island. It smolders, glowing in amber light to this day.

You can still see the embers of his temper glowing bright as the rising moon