Pedaling for Peace

On April 15, 2012 I started riding my bicycle cross-country from Jacksonville, Florida in voluntary support of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) and the work of author and Peace Leadership Director for the NAPF, Paul K. Chappell. By July 4th, I had covered over 1300 miles to just west of Luling, Texas where a major mechanical failure brought this first stage of my cross-country journey to an end. After storing my bicycle and trailer with my aunt and uncle in Weatherford, Texas, I flew from Dallas to Santa Barbara, California to attend the NAPF First Annual Peace Leadership Summer Workshop. I then lived and worked in Santa Barbara for several more months before I returned to Jacksonville and sold off the rest of my possessions that I could to help fund a continuation of my journey. Starting June 8, 2013 and ending August 9, 2013, I rode from Weatherford, through 400 miles of the central Texas hill country, including Austin, Texas, back to Luling. It was at this point that a friend of mine invited me to work for a brief period in Pennsylvania before flying me back to Santa Barbara where I have continued volunteering for the NAPF as well as for the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition. As of August 9th, 2014 I will begin"Stage III" of my cross-country adventure, this time heading south from Santa Barbara to San Diego and then east with my goal being to finally connect my route again in New Braunfels, TX. I am ever grateful for the ongoing support of friends and family and all of my hosts as this endeavor would not be possible without you!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Farewell and Thank You - Santa Barbara and Company!

I have so much to be grateful for.

I want to say "Thank You!" to the people who helped me in so many different ways during my most recent "tour" in Santa Barbara as well as my preparations for Stage III of my cross-country cycling adventure:

Thanks to Johnny and Kelly for allowing me to stay with them when I first got to town, for their ongoing friendship and support, their introducing me to more of their friends in the community, and especially for Kelly's pitching in with food prep for my going away party.

Thanks to Karen for allowing me to stay with her and to commute to work with her while I was on my temporary assignment at the City of Goleta.

Thanks to Andrea and Mercio for helping me move my things for my temporary stay with my "host" Christie in Goleta, and Thanks to Christie for offering to let me stay with him and for being a sensitive and communicative companion for my last couple of weeks in Santa Barbara.

Thanks to all of the folks at Bici Centro and the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition - for all the hard work they are doing to increase bicycle infrastructure and optimal bicycle use for the South Coast region, and for letting me use the front room for my going away party, as well as helping me with last-minute bicycle maintenance and repair, and financial support. (Thanks especially to Matt Dobberteen for his generous donation to both the building purchase and my travel fund!)

Thanks to all of my friends - and "representatives" of the various circles of which I have become a part in Santa Barbara - Jay from the Conscious Creators (and other) Meet-up group(s); Dave, Vasalina, and Marge from the Love Grid; Mike from Savvy Investors; Bob and Jacky (and her husband Michael) from Woodland Toastmasters, Winston, Ernie and Tamarah from my days "working the streets" as an "Intellectual Busker", Bob from the Santa Barbara Time Bank, and Alicia and Rob from Fishbon and the Fishbon Storyteller's Cell. Thanks to all of you for your friendship and support and for coming to see me off, and for your contributions to my travel fund!

And to my other friends who have offered their support in various ways: Dr. Joe (Migliore) and Jackie for keeping my neck straight and for emotional/moral support, to Kenji and Martin for letting me hang-out with them while they take (really great) pictures (!), Eleanor for letting me store some of my stuff in her storage unit, Ed for the honey (a long time ago :) ) and for the bag of home-dried fruit to take on my journey, John for hooking me up with a new pair of sturdy tires for a very reasonable price as well as connecting me with Channing to get my rear rack repaired, to Lori at Traffic Solutions for the REI Discount Coupon so I could save a little on my replacement micro-fiber towel, and for many of the folks at the City of Goleta and FCP, Inc. who became more like friends while I was working temporary assignments at their offices.

(I'll also add a "Thank You..." to the recent employer who hired me and then let me go with my first week and another week's severance pay, as that was all the money and incentive I needed to get myself back on the road!!)

And Thanks to Anders for his ongoing friendship and support, the frequent pleasure of his company and intellectual discussions, and for the beauty of his art-work that is graciously installed all over Santa Barbara and beyond.

And finally, I want to say "Thank You!" to everyone at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation for the many, many years of hard work they have invested in making the world a safer and more secure place for All Living Beings - and for All of Our individual and collective efforts to build better relationships and better communities. I appreciate being able to Do What I CAN Do to help them in their efforts, and, in my case, that means riding my bicycle cross-country spreading their message of hope backed up with clear, persevering, and strategic action.

As I have explained to people over and over again, I have felt a special, Dynamic Quality and "resonance" with the place and the people of Santa Barbara, and it has not been easy saying "Farewell" again, especially without knowing how long it might be before I will be able to return. But, in the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger: "I'll be back!"

...And in the mean time, I will keep you all posted as best I can while my ongoing journey unfolds!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

You Get What You Play For!

Robert Pirsig is the best selling author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values. He is also the author of another book, Lila: An Inquiry into Morals. I've read both books. Most recently I finished reading Lila... for the third time. I can't say there are many if any other books that I have read three times in my life, but this one was definitely worth it.

Furthermore, as I have a much clearer intention of writing my own book, in this reading of Lila... I allowed myself the freedom to underline and write comments in the margins. Because of this, I feel I digested these ideas much more thoroughly than in the first two readings. In addition, over the past couple of weeks I have been very intentionally bringing these ideas into conversation wherever appropriate, and I am finding more and more instances where Pirsig's perspectives do have relevance.

So, to offer a brief summary:

In Lila... Pirsig challenges the "subject-object" metaphysics of scientific materialism replacing it with his "Metaphysics of Quality". In this "Metaphysics of Quality" he sees the first division of reality being between "static" and "Dynamic" Quality. Furthermore, he sees reality sub-divided into what he calls "patterns of value" that exist at different levels; i.e. there are Inorganic Patterns of Value, Biological Patterns of Value, Social Patterns of Value, and Intellectual Patterns of Value. There is an implicit evolutionary hierarchy here as well as "moral codes" that exist at the interfaces of each level. For instance there are certain "moral codes" that guide the interactions of biological patterns of value with inorganic patterns of value. As expressed by various cultures around the world, there are "moral codes" that guide the behavior of individual biological organisms within various societies (and this could actually be said of non-human as well as human societies, although human societies tend to be the most diverse and complex). As exemplified in our "Bill of Rights", there has been an advance in recognizing the place of "Intellectual Freedom" even in the midst of a Society - for instance, with Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion.

About half way through the book, Pirsig points to the Victorian era as representing the last point when "Society" was seen as the highest expression of human development. To know if something was moral, all one had to do was answer the question: "Does society approve?" With this guideline, both biology and intellect were seen as subservient to the prevailing social moral codes.

However, during WWI this "virtuous and noble" Victorian society saw fit to send millions of its young men to their deaths. With the introduction of the Gatling Gun, the casualties were enormous and gruesome. Those who survived were left to question how such a "virtuous and noble" society could be so willing to sacrifice so many of its members. In addition, there was an increasing shift away from those social moral codes as the perspectives of scientific materialism framed the world as not having, nor needing any kind of moral codes to guide it. Everything was seen to be happening by "chance," or the seemingly random assembly of molecules that eventually led to the appearance of complex human beings. Furthermore, since neither a "moral" nor a "society" could really be studied, like a scientist studies a microbe under a microscope, then these were essentially disregarded as having no real "existence" at all, let alone any "value".

Therefore, the generation that followed WWI embraced Intellectual Freedom over social moral codes and traditions. In order to determine if something were "good" one needed only to appeal to one's intellect and the "proofs" provided by science, including anthropology. For instance, if free sexual exploration as teenagers was "good" for Samoan society, than it could be "good" for every other society as well. Pirsig sees the shift of the power base from the Old Victorians to the New Intellectuals exemplified in the election of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, the first president to have also been a university professor.

It is from the rising Intellectual Class that the ideas of social engineering via socialism and communism came into vogue. And from Pirsig's point of view, WWII was really a war between the Old Guard of social moral codes and social authority (represented by Fascism) and the New Guard of Intellectuals and scientific materialism dominating society. And the New Guard ultimately won that battle.

From my point of view, the development of the atomic bomb, though pursued for military reasons, was also a pursuit of the intellectuals and the scientists, again without any regard for the moral implications of their work. It was only after their success, and the use of the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that those moral implications became much more obvious, especially to Robert J. Oppenheimer. He became a voice against the use of the weapons later in his life, a challenge to the New Intellectual and Scientific Elite, and he was branded a traitor as a consequence.

(Even to this day, many people question the MORALITY of ever developing, let alone using the atomic bomb. But keep in mind, scientific materialism cannot consider morals. The scientific method provides no tools for observing or studying morals. Morals are beyond the purview of science as we currently know it. The "morality" of creating atomic weapons was never at issue, only the facts of the science of creating them, and who could discover those facts and implement them first. If we are going to let the assumptions of scientific materialism guide us, this is logically where they lead.)

By the '60's and '70's a new rebellion took place. This time it was initiated by fairly well-off and fairly well-educated young men and women who not only continued the attack against "society" and "social moral codes" started after WWI, but also began to attack the Intellectuals and Intellectual Institutions that had grown up since then. The new answer to the question "Is it right?" or "Is it good?" - became "If it feels good, do it!" Interestingly enough, as Pirsig points out, many of these young people began to steer their lives towards adopting the social patterns of Native Americans; i.e. more gentle rearing of children, simplicity, speaking directly, and being closer to nature, among other things. However, he also goes on to point out, that this kind of "laid back" approach to day to day life does not "fit" well in an urban setting, where there are other expectations - like being on time to do a job where other people are depending on you.

I guess the most important take home point I got from reading this chronicle was this: The revolutionaries of the '60's and '70's made no distinctions between biological freedom and intellectual freedom. I have realized that "If it feels good, do it!"is the most primitive motto of all individual biological organisms. However, even within the first colonial organisms, some of that individual biological freedom had to be sacrificed for the benefit of living more safely and securely within a group of similar individuals.

That most basic pattern of sacrifice of individual biological freedom for the benefit of being part of a collective has replicated itself throughout the evolutionary tree. In other words, some of the most primitive single cells that organize themselves into colonies "understand" that complete "biological freedom" is not "moral" if you want to live in a group with others like yourself. And yet, back in the '60's and '70's this "moral code", that even the members of a Volvox colony could understand and value, got thrown out the window and was replaced with the idea that every individual should be free to do whatever they want, no matter how it affects the people around them. In other words..."If it feels good do it!" and following that - "survival of the fittest"...

So here we are roughly 50 years later, and if you judge by that particular moral code; i.e."if it feels good, do it," and "survival of the fittest", then the Big Corporations and the Big Governments and the Most Powerful Countries are also the most "moral". Hey...they're just "playing by the rules"! Everyone has decided those old Victorians were idiots and didn't have any clue about how to be part of a society. Furthermore, the intellectuals got off track since they could not see a "moral" or see a "society" in any kind of meaningful way, and, consequently, they had nothing to offer to replace the moral social codes of the Victorians.

Now our technology has completely outpaced our Moral Maturity as far as evolutionary progress is concerned. As I listened to Noam Chomsky speak recently on "Security and State Policy", I completely understood why, when it comes to Security of the Society - i.e. the Majority of the People living in this country (for instance), none of our leaders really care if we get blown up by terrorists, as long as They don't get blown up by terrorists, as long as any of their financial backers and corporations do not get blown up by terrorists. They have no sense of being Part of a/Our Society, or accountable by any "moral social codes" that include all of the rest of us. They are just doing their own thing for themselves, while they feed off the rest of us, and off the rest of our labor and intelligence.

However, if you can imagine that a "society" is a real thing. That we are part of a society that is simply a different level or type of "organism" or "pattern of values" to use Pirsig's term, then the 1% are like a cancer that has been growing and growing and growing, building more and more avenues through which to channel the resources of this society/organism to themselves.

There are some people out there who are thinking, like many medical doctors think about cancer, that we're going to have to "radiate the entire body" in order to kill off the cancer. Those are a lot of your violent revolutionaries and apocalyptic thinkers. Of course, such a violent and radical approach risks killing the body itself. Violent revolution can be that kind of "chemotherapy", in that it can destroy the "innocent/healthy" cells as well as the "cancerous" ones, and there is a very good chance that the patient will die - that the patient will not have enough functioning parts left to survive after the cancer is gone.

In his books, Paul K. Chappell writes about violent approaches to resolving major conflicts as being similar to using amputation of a wounded leg to prevent infection rather than antibiotics. He asserts that the key is better understanding. Just as medical doctors have made progress in understanding how the body works, so they know it is better to give antibiotics rather than cut off a leg, so the populations of the world must better understand the nature of conflict in order to find a more precise way of dealing with it that does not involve violence.

Interestingly enough, (and I think without really knowing it) Paul K. Chappell has offered a new version of a "moral social code" that we might aspire to, especially in his book, Peaceful Revolution. And knowing Paul somewhat personally, I'd say he would have probably been quite comfortable in Victorian society! I will not say that he has All of the Answers, but a lot of his work certainly points in a general direction that I feel needs to be considered seriously, especially in light of Robert Pirsig's ideas as well.

One of the strategic instructions of Paul's work centers on the teaching of Sun Tzu in The Art of War: Never attack your opponent at their strongest point. Our government in combination with the current corporate powers, has the most highly trained and technologically advanced military and police forces in the world. Consequently, to try to dismantle any of that through violent revolution would be devastating for all concerned. Again, that is more like the "radiate the entire body to destroy the cancer" approach. And in this case, the cancer has a much stronger immune system than the body itself. Instead, as Paul suggests, we have to attack them at the level of their Moral Authority, where they are weakest.

However, in order to do that, as a society, we have to be functioning with a Higher Moral Code ourselves...and that means we have to understand the difference between "biological freedom" and "intellectual freedom". We have to fully understand that we cannot have total "biological freedom" and be part of a stable, sustainable, society or world for that matter. Consequently, when we say we want more "freedom" we are going to have to be very, very clear about what that means. From my point of view, that needs to mean we want more "freedom" to create new forms of society and community that are not at the mercy and threat of the political and financial "cancers" that have grown up in our midst.

Think of the movie,The Wolf of Wall Street. This movie epitomizes the ideas of "survival of the fittest" and "if it feels good, do it". Those ideas make up the (biological) "moral code" we are actually functioning under, especially here in the West and it is the same "moral code" we have been exporting throughout the world for decades now. However, if that really is the "moral code" we have (mostly unconsciously) agreed to in this society, ever since the revolutions of the '60s and '70s, then those who manage to "survive" the longest and make the most money to "do whatever they want", are the MORAL VICTORS here!!!! And we have NO RIGHT TO BE COMPLAINING about them!!!

Furthermore, if the people who want to challenge them only want to displace them so a New Group can continue to "survive" at the expense of the rest of "society," then that means that those "displacers" are Not Representing a "HIGHER MORAL CODE". Such "displacement" of the "current powers that be" without a Change of Moral Codes is NOT GOING TO MAKE FOR ANY FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE for "society", and that means for Most of the Rest of Us and for the World!...

Really take some time to think about that...

...However, if each of us is willing to recognize that, no matter how loosely we may be held together right now, we are already a part of a Society of Humankind. And to actually make those bonds stronger, we have to recognize that there is a Different Moral Code to guide our behaviors as part of this Society. That Moral Code means giving up at least some elements of our "individual biological freedom"; i.e. to "do whatever makes me feel good," or "reproduce as many babies as I want to, with or without a partner, with or without the means to support them," or to "eat as much crap as I want to even if my bad health negatively impacts the people around me and the medical system that supports us," or to "consume all kinds of resources that I really don't need just because I can," or "Let me speculate in the stock market for short-term gains at the expense of long-term financial stability", etc., etc., etc. If we can collectively move beyond the biological moral code of "if it feels good do it" and "survival of the fittest", and once again find our path to a new, and actually, More Intelligent "Moral Social Code" then, and Only Then, will we be in a position of Moral Authority over those elements of our society that are currently in power - elements that are clearly not functioning with anything like a Moral Social Code except maybe "Honor Among Thieves"!

And, maybe, hopefully, we can turn this mess around in time, and help to renew the other critical component of our survival here - the Earth itself, upon which ALL biological organisms and societies and free thinkers depend.

To Summarize...

You cannot have Biology without the Earth, you cannot have Society without individual biological organisms working cooperatively to sustain it, you cannot have Intellectual Development without a Society that is there to educate its members and to give them the tools of self-discipline to regulate their biological drives so that they can be productive and contributing members to that society, and you cannot have Intellectual Freedom without a Society that understands that without it, there can be no New Ideas that help to keep Society moving forward.

I am grateful for the society of which I am a part, in spite of its obvious problems. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had for gainful employment that have allowed me to sustain my biological needs and to further my education. I appreciate the technology that is available to me to continue to expand my knowledge of others ideas and to communicate my own.

And I am grateful for all of the people in my life who read my blogs, who are critical thinkers and communicators themselves, and who are doing whatever they can to make the world and this society a better place for all of us to live and grow and develop our full potentials as human beings, both individually and collectively.

I have hope for the future, knowing what I know now. But I do feel a certain Urgency in spreading these ideas, as the clock is ticking for how long we can keep going down the path we are on. I would hate to see all that we have managed to create here "go to waste" when so much of it can be salvaged with a fairly simple shift in understanding; part of which again, is understanding the difference between biological and intellectual freedom and the critical role a healthy, functional, society plays in mediating between the two.

I welcome your questions and feedback...

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"I've Got the Sun in the Morning and the Moon at Night" - Part III

Remembering July 27 - August 1, 2013

From the home of Daniel and Anne I traveled North again...I had made a commitment some days earlier to help my host Kesten move to a new apartment and I timed my visit just for that purpose. As it turned out I ended up helping him AND his housemate at the time, Vanessa.

It took me a while to fully understand where to meet Kesten, as he was back and forth between apartments on the day of my arrival, but eventually, I found him at the old apartment and helped load the last of his things.

The building he was living in was mainly for students of the local university and it happened to be the end-of-the-year moving weekend for All of Them. It was pretty crazy, especially since the elevators ran so s-l-o-w-l-y! Given the heavy traffic up and down, they actually had attendants, whom I did not envy for having to spend their day stuck in an antiquated elevator, frequently squeezed in tight with lots of "stuff" and hot, sweaty students moving all of that stuff!

So, it was a great test of patience for everyone. But we persevered and got Kesten relocated to his new place. While there, I took on another "special project" sewing the seam of his couch arm back together.

Of course there can be no "before" shot without the "after"...

Seems I'm developing something of a portfolio for this kind of work - including a leather couch at my friend Brenda's house in St. Augustine, FL, and then there was another host Donna's couch in Apalachicola, FL, and now this for Kesten in Austin, TX!

Photo Copyright 2014 Sophie Wu Photography
One of the benefits of spending a day and an evening at Kesten's new place was having a Buddhist temple within walking distance. We went to visit Xiang Yun Temple on Sunday afternoon and found people there to welcome us, although we had missed the larger service for the day.

We were shown downstairs as part of our tour and, as it turned out, this facility provided free Chinese health care from various practitioners in the community. Both Kesten and I received massages, the first I'd had for both "Stage I" and "Stage II". I felt especially lucky to have the senior practitioner, Kevin Lou himself give me my massage as there were also several younger people there who, I had to assume, were interns that were getting opportunities to practice under his guidance. (Photo from the "FGS Xiang Yun Temple" Facebook page.)

The next day I returned to the old apartment with plans to help Vanessa with the rest of her things. During the day, though, I had a chance to go to lunch with another Warm Showers host Steve Godfrey. Steve has done quite a bit of his own cross-country cycling with his Bike Tour de Life. When not cycling cross-country you can find him cycling around Austin hand-delivering fliers to local businesses. From the way he talked about it, I could tell he'd been doing that long enough for it to be something of an art for him. We had a good time hanging out and exchanging stories of the road and even though I wasn't able to stay with him, it was nice to make the connection and I appreciated his generous offer to pay for my meal.

I spent my last night back at the old apartment, "camping" on my sleeping pad. While there I helped Vanessa load the rest of her things into her vehicle. I also took responsibility for returning keys and paperwork the next morning to the apartment authorities since Vanessa was going to be at work. Before I left the apartment, I did my best to make sure as many of the items on the "Inspection Checklist" were done, like wiping down counters and the refrigerator. Unfortunately, there was no broom left behind for the floors. In addition, between two sets of previous lessors and/or sub-lessors, there were several bits and pieces of furniture left behind. Nothing I could do about that, but I helped in all the other ways I felt I could. It was a bit strange though being in that position, the last person out of a place I had only "lived" for one night!

I had a full day ahead to spend "noodling" my way back through Austin, as my last stop was not too far away and my next host was not going to be home until later in the evening. Consequently, I took my time. I rested for a while in one of the parks along the Colorado River. I safety-pinned some larger signage to my trailer, hand-written on the backs of pages from one of those desk-top blotter calendars that had been left at the apartment. I was kind of testing the idea to see how people responded. One guy offered me a Snickers bar that was left-over from his lunch as a show of support.

I took my Keens off and let my feet rest in the water of the man-made pond I was sitting next to, and practiced some "stalking" skills by holding my cupped hands under the water and letting the little minnows swim into them. I was able to catch a few of the smaller ones, but the larger ones were more wary and capable of catapulting themselves out of my hands as I slowly lifted them up, letting the water drain away. Of course, it was all "catch and release" for that day - but good to practice should I ever need minnows for bait in the future!

I had made up my mind to get to the Barton Springs Pool before I left Austin. I had actually been there before, I want to say in the late '90s, before I joined the Navy. I went to visit some people who would later stay in my somewhat isolated cabin in Colorado during the "Y2K" transition/scare. However, on this occasion, I only had $3 left, and maybe a little change, and I knew the cost of admission was going to be $3. I tried to swing a freebie by explaining that I was riding my bicycle across the country, but the attendants were not impressed. So, I paid them my last $3 and figured something else would work out. I had food still, and not too many more miles, or stops to go to reach Luling.

And so, I chilled my hot body in the cool springs for a while. Feeling a little self-conscious of my biker's tan as I walked around in my swimwear. It was only as I was working my way to the far side of the pool that I realized there was another area, on the other side of the lower end of the pool where people were also cooling down in what I later found out were the "free" areas on the other side of the fence. Of course, the attendants failed to bring this to my attention at the time I was paying them my Last $3! So...I paid for deeper water, but I doubt it was that much colder. Chalk that up to another lesson learned for how to save money while visiting Austin, Texas!

After swimming for a while, then showering, and getting back into my riding gear, I sat at the eating areas for my cheese and crackers and celery "lunch" and noticed the bees seeking soda drippings around my table. Given the recent reports I'd come across on still decreasing bee populations, I thought I'd try to help the little buggers out with a few drops here and there of my electrolyte drink mix. Sure enough they started to catch on pretty quick and so I upped the offerings to fit into the cap of one of my plastic smoothie bottles. First there were two or three...

Then there were a few more...

And a few more after that...until all the cap I'd pored had been sucked up into their little bee bellies!

There was a group of mostly young girls that came close to my table, some of them being very dramatic about their fear of the bees, so I tried to help them understand that they should not be afraid and that we needed to protect the bees as they were so important for pollinating the flowers for our food. They mostly just looked at me funny. And then ran away from my table squealing!

Since my bike and trailer had been parked in a pretty high traffic area I was able to keep an eye on it from my picnic table. At least a couple of people stopped by and I went over to answer their questions. All-in-all it was a good stop, and I wasn't regretting spending my Last Three Dollars too much!

As I headed back to the main road I stopped at a bike rental shop to put some air in my tires. Although the mechanic on duty was pretty focused inside, I invited him out to see my "rig". He then went to get his boss, the owner of the business, Mark Mitchell. Mark was very intrigued with what I was doing, appreciating the "spirit" of it all. When he heard my tail of having to pay my Last $3 at the pool, he went back inside and came back with a spare tube and $20 to see me on my way. I assured him I would make it last and he trusted my word on that.

I still had a few more hot and hilly miles left to go and through some of the busier streets of south Austin. However, by just about the right time, I made it to my Couch Surfing host for the evening, Peg Fuller. We had some friendly interaction and conversation as I rested there for a couple of nights. And then it was back on the road again, with two more stops to go before my last leg to Luling.

Outside Peg Fuller's house on my way to San Marcos, Texas.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Part II of "I've Got the Sun in the Morning and the Moon at Night..."

From the Gethsemane Lutheran Church Hospitality House I once again traveled south through Austin to reach my next destination and Warm Showers hosts, Daniel and Anne Alvarez. As I was getting close to their house, I spotted a metal recycling center on one side of the road and realized...they had a scale that might be big enough for me to weigh my bicycle! I passed by and then turned around as I figured I was not likely to have such an easy opportunity again. (Keep in mind, most truck scales are off of major interstates or highways, not places I would normally be on my bicycle.)

After a little cajoling, they let me take my bike and trailer on the scale. The weight was called out over an intercom... "380 [lbs]"....And my mind was like "What???? You're kidding me!" And, seriously, I thought they were messing with me. But, the guy who made the announcement was either really good at keeping a straight face, or he had, seriously, called it like he saw it.

             Finally on the Scale in Austin, Texas, July 25, 2013

With a deduction of my own weight of roughly 150 lbs (very roughly, by the way), I was looking at 230 lbs with the bike and trailer fully loaded. And here I've been telling everyone, "Oh, I think I'm carrying about 125 or so." Furthermore, at this point, I'm up to about 1600 cross-country miles, with 300 of the most recent miles being through the central Texas hill the summer heat!

To be honest, I'm not sure if it was such a good thing for me to KNOW, more exactly, how much weight I was carrying. What difference did it really make? It wasn't like I was going to suddenly slim down to the 125 lbs I had previously thought I was carrying.  As I have told many people, I accept the fact that, at least for Stages I and II: I've been doing this whole journey The Hard Way, and I see myself setting something of an upper limit for what is possible. There are all kinds of ways to ride a bicycle across the country: with less gear, at a different time of the year, in a different direction, with more money, with another rider or a group - etc., etc. This is the way I have chosen to do it, and I do not see making any major changes when it comes to completing Stage III. We'll see though, as that part of my journey has yet to unfold....?

After weighing in at the metal recycling center, I continued down the road and around the corner to Daniel and Anne's house. It was really great to get to spend time with them. They were quite busy, in the process of painting their house, and taking care of their young son Luke. In addition, their nieces and nephews came to visit along with their father for one of the days I was there.

Joseph and Elena

I shared some of my "Green Smoothie" with Joseph, Elena, Daniel, and Kara and they happily showed off their "smoothie mustaches" for me. I can see the add lines now "Got Smoothie?"
Daniel and Kara

After showing the kids many of the pictures of my trip, including really beautiful pine-needle baskets created by Jan Southern, one of my hosts in Florida, Kara decided WE should make a basket! Although I was hesitant at first and tried too give her some idea of the time it would take, she was quite adamant. So, we looked around outside to see if there were any natural materials we could use, but since their aunt and uncle were away (with me and their father there to look after them), we could not ask about, for instance, removing some fronds from the Saw Palmettos that were growing next to the house.

    One of Jan Southern's Pine Needle Baskets about 9" across.

Eventually we came up with the idea of making a basket out of string, since the kids were certain it would be okay to use some string that their Uncle Dan had let them play with before. We found a ball of jute cord and that's when the fun began.

Although Joseph was not so interested, Elena, Kara, Daniel, and I took turns as we braided three long strands of the string together by weaving ourselves over and under each other. Being quite a bit younger, Daniel was having a little more trouble figuring out what to do. His dad stepped in to help at one point, and then they took a break. That left myself, Kara, and Elena to continue and ... eventually ...we got a really good rhythm going.  (I'm sorry I don't have pictures or video to share here, but the best way I can describe it is to compare it to the "May Pole" dance, where everyone has their own ribbon and the goal is to weave all of the ribbons together from the top of the pole, down to the bottom. That's what we did with our strands of jute cord until we had a single length, three strands thick. Sure...we could have taken turns braiding individually, but it would not have been nearly as much fun!)

The Completed Coil String Basket - Quarters for Scale
With my now 2X thicker cord, I took out my needle and heavy thread from my sewing kit and began to create a "Coiled String Basket". The kids stayed interested for a while, but I realized the rather slow process lost its attraction pretty quickly. Besides, Daniel and Anne returned and that meant it was time for dinner. Nevertheless, after the kids went home, I continued with my work - watching another Robert Sapolsky lecture on aggression while I toiled with my coil until I was able to offer up the completed basket to my hosts with the promise that it would eventually be passed on to their nieces and nephews to "share" between them...somehow...?

Texas Capital Building in Austin

The next day/evening Anne and I went for a walk with baby Luke and took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy "Music Under the Star" , near the Austin Capital building. 

It was pretty crowded once we got there, so we had to locate our picnic blanket towards the back and off to the side of the bands that played. Daniel came to join us and we proceeded to dine on what was left of the "Special Egg-Fried Rice" I had prepared earlier. 

   With Daniel, Luke, and Anne at "Music Under the Star"
Before I left Daniel, Anne and Luke, I decided to take a closer look at the old treadle sewing machine they had in their guest bedroom where I was staying. It ended up having one of the most unusual bobbin assemblies I have ever seen (see pictures below). 

If you have any familiarity with this particular machine, or know someone who does, or know someone who could work on and/or repair this machine as necessary, especially if you/they are in the area of Austin, Texas, then please contact me with a comment below.  I promised Daniel and Anne that I would try to help network for them either to get a market value for the machine as is or to find someone who could actually help them get it working again.

In my last few hours at the house, I happen to overhear an audio book Anne was listening to entitled The Whole-Brain Child... and I asked her about it. It sounded really interesting and I will be adding it to my list of books to read. Even more so though, I appreciated seeing Anne going the extra mile to educate herself so that she could relate better with her son. I think Luke is lucky to have her as a mom and his very considerate and compassionate father as well.

After taking the photos of the sewing machine, and loading up my bicycle, it was time to head back north once again to my next to last stop in Austin, Texas.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

More on "Telling the Good Stories" in Response to Dylan Ratigan

This was what Dylan Ratigan had to post today: "Peeking Behind the Curtain" where he shares the latest on his work with J.R. Lewis in presenting the "Thousands of Stories of Hope..."

In my previous blog, I expanded on some of the ideas Dylan shared in his talk to TZM San Diego especially with regards to his idea that our life stories become the myths for those around us, maybe even for people we do not even know.  With the technology we now have available to communicate our stories, the telling of these stories can affect the broader population "asymmetrically" in a much more powerful way than we might be able to bring about change "linearly"; i.e. by "going door to door".

This is what I have to add to the consideration at this point.

First of all, I appreciate the fact that our brains naturally pay closer attention to negative and threatening information or stimulus, especially when it might relate to our physical harm. This is why the news broadcasters almost always focus on the Bad News - who shot whom, etc., etc.  They show it because that is what they are also trained to pay attention to and it is the same kind of information that keeps us paying attention to them and all of the commercials in between these (mostly) negative stories.  This is something that Paul K. Chappell and Lt. Col. Dave Grossman have pointed out in their work as well.

Just recently, I was listening to an NPR broadcast including an interview with neuroscientist Dr. Mark Waldman. In my follow-up research I came across this TEDxConejo talk he presented in March 2010. In this talk, Dr. Waldman also points to how the brain responds much more strongly to threats and even the simple word "No", for instance, as compared to the word "Yes." It's simple: Our brains naturally respond more strongly to any information that pertains to survival.  Furthermore, as Dr. Waldman explains, and what many spiritual masters before him have also communicated: We Become What We Meditate On. The very neurons of various parts of the brain will restructure themselves according to the thoughts and feelings we focus our attention on most often. And since our natural tendency is to focus on Negative input and Negative emotions and Negative thoughts, then we have to work extra hard to give our attention to positive input, positive emotions, and positive thoughts if we are going to be able to counter those natural tendencies.

Consequently, as Dr. Waldman explains, if you have a relatively positive concept of "God", no matter what any of your other religious beliefs might be, and if you "meditate on" that idea of "God" consistently, then it will have the same positive effect on your brain as it will on anyone else's who meditates in much the same way that you do, but on their relatively positive concept of "God".  Apparently, the "big idea" of "God" has a very particular effect on the brain, just as other "big ideas" or concepts like "Love" and "Truth" might have on the brain.

Nevertheless, the main point is you have to work extra hard at focusing on the positive in order to counter the natural tendency to focus on the negative. In fact, according to what I heard from Dr. Waldman in his NPR interview, there needs to be at least a ratio of 3 to 1 of positive to negative, and better yet 5 or 7 to 1 in order to reverse the effects of negative focus.

I know that for some people this is all "old news", and the idea of "thinking positively" has become cliche'. But from what I'm seeing of Dr. Waldman's work, there's a lot more science to back-up the "hearsay" these days, and more specifics on exactly how it works and how to make it work most effectively.  Furthermore, I can certainly speak to my own life experiences, having grown up with the ever present fearful concerns of my paranoid schizophrenic mother, only to do a 180 degree turn away from that by the time I was 20 and she went into the mental hospital, and then taking on an even more deliberate contemplational/meditational practice in my early 30's. Although I do not meditate as intentionally now, I know my overall state of being, maybe as a result of the "restructuring of my brain" from my meditational practice, is, on the whole, pretty positive, and focused on the positive, most of the time. And, most people who are around me for very long pick up on that as well.

You may be wondering at this point: How does all of this tie-in with the work that Dylan Ratigan is now doing?

I've been thinking, for all of the negative stories that each of us might be exposed to through the media each day, we might make progress restructuring our "cultural brain" by making sure we've got at least Five to Seven Positive Stories to counter and eventually reverse the effects of each of the negative ones.  And it seems Dylan's mailbox is full to overflowing with those positive stories.  Furthermore, once other well-intentioned communicators like him start to catch on to this basic strategy for asymmetrically changing the way people think and behave in the world, we could see the media filling with positive stories A LOT MORE positive stories to the point where the negative one's are no longer the one's that are shaping our concepts of ourselves or the possibilities for humanity and this world that we inhabit.

The more I think about it, the more I am also seeing that there are organizations who have already been doing that - TED is definitely one of those. Nevertheless, there is also a very personal and individual responsibility that each of us has to more consciously and intentionally decide on where we choose to focus our attention, even with respect to the thoughts and feelings that are constantly playing in our minds and hearts.

As Dr. Waldman shows in his talk, each of us needs to tap into the "Big Idea" of our own lives and learn to spend more time meditating on that and letting our brains be shaped by that "Big Idea" whatever it may be.

So...what's your "Big Idea"? What's Your Story? What is the Myth that You living out for those around you and for the world? And, finally, what can you do to make it the Very Best Story it can possibly be?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Starting a "Conversation" with Dylan Ratigan

Since I have been back in Santa Barbara, I find myself getting up fairly early in the morning and going straight to my iPad. In this way, my mind is most engaged when it is "fresh".  Of late it seems Dylan Ratigan is getting up even earlier than me and he is now posting something to his page every day, and I'm starting to recognize something of a discipline there, something that I would like to emulate.  But it is a little annoying in that I keep finding myself in a "responsive" mode; i.e. I keep finding myself wanting to "respond" to what he has already posted for the day rather than (at least at this point) initiating the dialogue myself. Admittedly, there is kind of a masculine/feminine dynamic there with which I am completely familiar; i.e. the masculine as more "initiatory" and the feminine as more "responsive", but to the degree that I have been "initiating" much more of the course of my life and thoughts in the last two years, I'm not sure I like being in this more "responsive" mode, but, that seems to be the way it is, so I'm just going to go with it.

Today Dylan shared a video of his talk to "The Zeitgeist Movment" in San Diego.  For a guy who comes across as very rational and grounded, I was kind of surprised when he started talking about quantum mechanics and, lets call it, human harmonics; i.e. how our thoughts and feelings resonate out into the world and manifest the world around us. He begins to explain his consideration of all of this around the 6:20 mark. At around the 7:25 mark he shares his realization that "the rate of vibration dictates what manifests", and further at 9:30 "it is our internal rate of vibration that dictates the external reflection, not the external reflection that dictates the internal."

This brings to mind one of the primary Wisdom-Teachings of Adi Da Samraj (with which I am very familiar): You never "communicate" anything but your actual state of being. And, as Dylan goes on to say, he found himself empowered by the idea that he could control that "vibration" within himself rather than feeling at the mercy of the often seemingly overwhelming forces around him.

I would offer, from more of Adi Da's Wisdom-Teaching the idea that the "ego" is an "Activity of Self-Contraction", which Adi Da illustrates with the clinching of a fist. It is most often experienced emotionally as fear, sorrow, anger, and un-happiness; all re-active rather than pro-active emotions. One of Adi Da's most important demands of His devotees was to Become Responsible for this habit of "self-contraction" of "reactivity", and to learn to transcend it through various meditational and relational disciplines. From my own now 16 years of "practice", I know that it is I who am choosing what I am thinking and feeling in response to what I experience externally, and I have, in most instances, learned to transcend my "reactivity" and, therefore, to "self-modulate" the "frequency" of that experience and therefore what I "project" into the world. I'm glad to see that Dylan has assumed responsibility for this within himself as well and that he is using the opportunities he has to share the concept with others so that they might also become empowered as he has been.

At the "NAPF Evening for Peace" event recently, someone asked me how I stayed "grounded" - and it made me pause, because it was hard to say that it could be attributed to any one thing.  Besides the Wisdom-Teaching of Adi Da Samraj, especially addressing "the ego as the activity of 'self-contraction'" and the need to transcend the habit of reactivity, there was probably one other book that had the most significant impact in this area and that would be The New Guide to Rational Living by Albert Ellis. I have an extended quote in this blog On Loving Yourself . I was reading The New Guide to Rational Living in the early 90's with Adi Da's work crossing my path starting in the late 90's, and I guess you could say I have been "practicing" ever since! And now, it seems, there are others like Dylan Ratigan who are also starting to pick up on these basic principles, which is very heartening to see.

At 16:50 Dylan begins a commentary on the military that really struck home and it is something that I  have seen/heard Stefan Molyneux butt his head against over and over again, even in one of the most recent live Sunday shows I was able to listen to.  I feel this particular point deserves a very direct quotation. In referring to the military Dylan says:

"We have pre-identified the 1% of our population that has a predisposition to do things that are way more fucked-up than most people are willing to do [including sacrificing their own lives], and that's a good thing to know about a group of people because that means that that group of people may be willing to do a lot of things in our own domestic society, like decide to build a bunch of hydroponic organic greenhouses in every city in America, or decide to convert every city in America to a sustainable energy matrix...[etc.]"

Or, I will add, write a series of books on "Waging Peace" like Paul K. Chappell, or ride their bicycle and 230 pounds of gear cross-country "Pedaling for Peace" like yours truly!

At around 21:47, Dylan starts to address another subject that is close to my heart: archetypes and mythology.  He speaks of the "Mythology of Power" and how that is portrayed in popular media and culture.  When we (or our children) see these mythologies portrayed to us, they offer to us focal points for our own identification and aspiration. I know I have communicated this somewhere, but I'm having trouble finding a reference right now. Nevertheless, given the influence of these "stories" in our lives, I too have come to the conclusion that we need to consider writing different stories. 

For instance, why do we have these stories of human beings as fundamentally "sinful"?  I've tried to address that question in one of my most recent Blue Moon Turtle blogs, "What Is So 'Imperfect' about Being Human?". Another "story" that I would like to re-write is the one about how a lone crazy scientist, Zefram Cochrane, in creating and testing a ship with warp-drive, finally brought us to the attention of an advanced, and Peaceful, alien race (as portrayed in the Star Trek: The Next Generation movie, First Contact.) For anyone who might have paid attention to the landing of the Mars Curiosity Rover...that was by no means a "solo effort"!  And why shouldn't our cultural advancement be even more important to the interest of another extraterrestrial race rather than just some technological advancement? (My current theory is that we will not be able to get human beings beyond the moon anyway if we don't learn to manage our global resources, including intellectual resources, more cooperatively and, therefore, more efficiently. Furthermore, it is inherently hard to make that kind of progress when repeated armed conflicts keep destroying the basic technological infrastructure of a society as well as the potential intellectual capital stored within every human being that is traumatized or killed in the process!)

At 23:20 Dylan begins to draw a diagram, illustrating a trajectory of "possibility", relative to current "reality" and overcoming the "gap" between the two that is mediated by "fear".  He points out that "reality" is changing more slowly in part because people are living longer; i.e. it takes longer for change to take place as new generations arise in the wake of the older generations passing away.  However, he also offers that our current technological capacity, albeit a double-edged knife, has as much power to help resolve the problems we face as it may be contributing to creating and/or perpetuating them, and it is moving faster than the older generations and "reality" can keep up.

It is at the 26:00 mark that Dylan offers what I think is a Very Critical Insight: There is no way to address the "fear gap" between current reality and actual possibility with what he calls a "linear solution". Instead, he offers an "asymmetrical solution" and that involves changing the Myths that are guiding individuals and the culture rather than trying to directly change the people and the culture itself.  And although I have had the same intuition on my own fairly recently, I have to give him credit for tying all of that into a well-defined framework.

Finally, at 28:15 Dylan begins to offer more specifics as to How to Change the Power Myths, and this is where it again becomes much more personal for me and my work as well as the work of  Paul K. Chappell. As Dylan points out:

"When you think about myths and power, it is always better to meet the audience where they are. In other words, it is easier to take an existing myth and meet the audience where they are with that myth, and then take them on a journey with that story, that hero, than it is to invent a new myth, that you wish everybody would believe in, but they're just not there....In this country, for better or worse, we have mythologized our military and our soldiers, and our marines - for better or worse, it doesn't matter.  The opportunity is to meet that mythology where it is.... The fact [is] that [some of] our marines and our soldiers have already decided...[as these people here have done] to meet the audience where they are...with the myth, and take them on a journey to this location [of new possibility]. They alone will never get us to that location, but they can take that mythology and project it back into our society in a way that will naturally manifest that."

He goes on to say that each of us are, in effect, our own story, our own myth, for at least one and probably for many, many other people around us, even if we do not know it.

"You are a story. And that story is the most powerful thing that you actually have to contribute to this world, because it is as those stories are told that the generations around us will decide that they want to be like those stories. And the greatest thing we can actually do is to create stories that are in the arc that we want to go in."

And I agree with that!

Thank you Dylan Ratigan, for sharing your insights and Your Story with the rest of us, and thank you for the renewed inspiration for me to continue manifesting and telling My Story as well!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Part I of "I've Got the Sun in the Morning and the Moon at Night!..."

...And...I now have INTERNET ACCESS again!!!! Yeah!!!

To All of My Readers:

My sincere apologies for not being able to keep this blog updated more effectively over the last three months. During my time in Austin, Texas I was moving around a lot between various hosts, many of them students, and in many situations I did not have internet access. I've also had some issues here and there more generally with getting my iPad to recognize wifi transmissions so I could connect where it was available. Finally, preparing a full blog takes quite a bit more time and effort than I can squeeze in with only an hour here and there, especially when I have to use at least some of that time available for checking my e-mail, etc.

Nevertheless, I am back in Santa Barbara, CA now with a comfortable living situation and INTERNET access, and I figured it was time I posted an update here...finally!

Starting from the last weeks of July...

I began my official tour of Austin, Texas with a stop at the home of John and Eve Koonz. As I mentioned in my previous blog, John and Eve are living examples of how ordinary people are making a difference in their homes and in their own back yards.

They keep chickens, and they grow meal worms to help utilize food waste and to have protein rich snacks for the chickens. At first glance, the meal worm habitat might seem "icky", but it did not smell and it was actually quite fascinating to see the bugs going about their business.

John and Eve also dry their clothes outside, commute regularly by bicycle and/or public transportation, and, as I had the opportunity to experience very directly, they were supportive and very generous WarmShowers hosts. John was particularly helpful in planning my route to my second Austin host and even accompanied me through some of the trickier parts of that journey.

Saying Good-Bye to John Koonz in Austin, Texas

My Beverly Hills host asked me not to share pictures or her personal info on my blog. Nevertheless, I am very grateful to have experienced her hospitality and she helped me connect with Pastor Karl Gronberg of the Gethsemane Lutheran Church as well. That connection eventually led to my staying at their "Hospitality House" for a couple of nights.

From the Beverly Hills address I made a little side excursion with the Austin Sierra Club members via MeetUp. We toured the Mayfield Park well known for its Peacocks.

While staying with Austin Sullivan, I went for a hike through the Barton Springs Greenbelt along with his brother's fiancé, Kira. We mostly followed the relatively dry creek bed, and then it started to rain. Given that it was summer in Texas, it was actually a welcome shower.

On the trailhead we found a turtle. I kind of recognized it, but picked it up to take a closer look. That's when it urinated on me and the smell was all I needed to confirm that it was a "Musk Turtle"!

At my host on Beverly Hills Dr. and at Chad Greene's house, I did not have access to the internet. So to keep myself occupied while I was "resting", I selected books to read from those available to me. Since I spent so much of my young adult and adult life reading more non-fiction (and a lot of "self-help" style books), I decided to read some of the shorter classics that I've heard about but never actually read. These included War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, and The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.

From Chad's I had a short but Very Hot 4.5 miles or so to Anika Fassia's house. Thinking that it would be a fairly easy ride, I was not as careful as I would normally be and failed to use my damp camp towel under my helmet, and I did not have enough water either. Reaching the peak of the last of a few decent hills, I found myself growing a bit nauseous and light headed, so I pulled off to the side of the road, got onto the sidewalk/curb and rested, holding my bicycle up while I did so. At that point I was probably less than a quarter mile from Annika's house, but every time I stood up to get back on my bicycle, I started getting dizzy again. What was even more frustrating was that there was what looked like a public pool within 50 yards of the concrete retaining wall that rose up over the sidewalk behind me, and that wall was also blasting heat all around me.

Eventually I recovered enough to walk my bike across the multi-lane road to the opposite sidewalk, and down to the street where Annika lived. Even as I walked though, I was still not feeling well, so I had to stop again, within what turned out to be about 20 yards from Annika's house, and sit on the curb once more. Eventually, she and one of her housemates came out to meet me and we all walked back to the house together. All in all, it was a "lesson learned" to never take the heat for granted, no matter how short a ride might be!

One thing I noticed shortly after I got settled in the house was that it seemed Anika's guest bathroom toilette was not shutting off properly. When I helped her understand that the water was simply flowing out and through the sewer pipe, she welcomed my assistance in figuring out how to repair it. At first we tried a new flap, and then once it was clear that was not enough, and that the leaking was coming from the valve itself, we decided to replace that as well, "we" as in Anika paid for the parts and I installed them!

And here I am "modeling" the finished repairs.

Another benefit of staying with Anika was being around for the beginning of an artistic transformation of her living room fire place. Artist Stefanie Distefano was in charge.

Me and Anika at the beginning.

Stefanie at work.

The Completed Fireplace

What was particularly cool about this project was that Anika got together with all of her friends to make many of the tiles that Stefanie eventually assembled into the mosaic. Along with her friends, I appreciate the investment of energy and attention that Anika has chosen to put into her relationships, her home, and into her neighborhood and community in Austin, Texas. And I'm really glad she has chosen to be a part of the WarmShowers community as well!

From Anika's I was generously transported back to the northern part of town by Pastor Karl Gronberg of the Gethsemane Lutheran Church. I felt it was okay for me to accept his assistance since I had already covered the distance by bicycle previously, and I would be leaving on my own to travel back south in a couple of days. While staying at the church "Hospitality House" I was once again without internet, or television, but I did have access to Pastor Karl's library in the house/office next door.

One of the books I pulled from the shelves was a massive volume entitled Psychological Aspects of Pauline Theology by Gerd Theissen. On Page 9 I read: "The Bible was able to become one of the most important textbooks of human behavior and experience precisely because in it 'dominating' models recede and models that first fail, but overcome are so numerous."

In other words... It is full of UNDERDOG Stories! (Something that Paul K. Chappell also writes about in his most recent book The Art of Waging Peace....)

Boy! Did that set my mind on a tangent?!

What I have come to appreciate from reading Lila... by Robert Pirsig is truth...the evolution of Life Itself is an ongoing drama of all kinds of Underdog Stories! (More specifically, the interaction of what he describes as "static" and "Dynamic" "Quality".)

The bottom line is...the actual probability of ANY of THIS existing is so remote, that for it to have all arisen the way it has means THE Underdog - i.e. Life Itself - is WINNING, beating the odds, over and over again, and...moving the process of evolution towards more and more highly evolved and adaptive organisms - including human beings, who, for all their presumed "faults" (i.e. "sins"), have the greatest capacity to Interact Dynamically with their environment(s) than any other organisms on this planet! (Although...some research is pointing a finger at viruses and bacteria that may be living out their very own "underdog stories" and using Us to help Them!)

And now we are in a stage where we are evolving our cultures to catch up with our evolving technologies. I'd say we got a little ahead of ourselves with nuclear weapons, among other things, and Now it is time to re-evaluate Why we are doing the things we Can do, with more of a moral compass for what we Should Do. Furthermore, we have a Central Nervous System - the Internet - that we never had to work with before and it is slowly but surely linking all of us as individual cells into a more coherent, Body Human, that includes more and more individual human beings.

That's a lot to be thinking about, so I'm going to pause this update for now. I will add though, that I was able to share some of these ideas at the talk I gave to the Millville Quaker Friends Meeting in Pennsylvania, and the talk was very well received. (I promise I will share more about that in a future post.)

As always, I am grateful for ALL of the different experiences I have been able to have on this, my own "Underdog Journey", and I am grateful to ALL of the people who have helped me along the way!

Please stay-tuned for "Part II" of this blog series...Coming Soon!