To the uninformed, the ability to create is something only artists or people possessed of unique talent have. It is this erroneous mindset which is at the root of a vast number of maladies and miseries experienced by humans the world over and throughout Time.
For human beings, the compulsion to create is both a defining characteristic and an absolute necessity for Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual balance and good health. This is because the human imperative to create is literally encoded within the matrix of our DNA, its fountainhead residing first and foremost in the primal urge to procreate.
What separates humans from other animals is when we move beyond simply making copies of ourSelves and use creation to express, communicate, and to bring value into the world. That which we create expands our reach and influence into the world and upon those in it; what we create can make us bigger than we are. Our creations can be our legacy.
Creation is a form of expression. Creation is communication. Our creations are mirrors which at once reflect back on us and refract out into the world.
As children of creation it is only natural that we ourSelves should seek to create. The imperative to create is nothing less than an acknowledgement of our urge to be like God/Universe/Life ItSelf.
Over the years I have come to recognize the devastating impact that dubious creation can have on our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. Unconscious or accidental creation leads regularly to unintended consequences. This is why conscious creation is so important.
Failure to create is evidence of an ignorance to the withering effects to be found in the absence of Self-expression. To create is to find a way to express yourSelf, to bring something into existence that would not exist had you not created it. This is why what YOU create is so important.
The most obvious avenues of creation are the arts: painting, sculpting, writing, playing music, and singing; creation, however, is not limited to the arts. Think on this; how can you create if you don’t consider yourSelf an artist?
Those who fail to create only consume. We lose our Self if all we do is consume that which was created by someone else. Fortunately, our Life does not have to be a binary either/or proposition. We can (and should) do both.
Certainly much more can (and likely will be) said on this subject. In preparing the contents of this short post I have noted dozens of avenues of creative possibility regarding this topic and my own work. Perhaps a longer form consideration to be posted at some point to my blog is in order?
Give the world a gift. Go and create something…
©Billy Red Horse
Picture this –
You find yourSelf in a bucolic countryside, a fantastical setting that is a cross between Tolkien’s Middle-earth and something akin to Dahl’s Willy Wonka world. Standing there, you know there is a place you must visit which is quite a few steps to the South. Setting off, you walk for only a short Time when you encounter a meandering ribbon of water, one too large to be a stream but not quite substantial enough to be a river. Your eyes trace the course of the running water and see that, far off in the distance, this deep blue being empties into a lake which is situated right next to your ultimate destination. If only you had a boat or skiff which would allow for a leisurely yet temporally abbreviated journey…
Now, lest it be so quickly forgotten, this setting IS fantastical as previously described! No sooner does the thought of waterborne conveyance arise than an enormous and variegated leaf, one as big as a man and sturdy as any raft, floats into view and comes to a stop right next to where you stand. Though the invitation and implication are obvious, you nonetheless gingerly test the capacity of the leaf to safely transport you and (not surprisingly) find it more than equal to the task. Stepping aboard, you sit carefully as the leaf is drawn once again into the subdued but persistent current.
The sun is warm on your skin, the delicate scent of aromatic flowers enchants and makes for a soothing state of calm and comfort. Lying back on the leaf, you let the fingertips of one of your hands glide along the surface of the water. Looking up into a cloudless sky, your lids soon grow heavy and you are transported into that magical space between waking and dreaming. Even in your state of delicious repose you reckon you should arrive at your destination in less than half the Time it would have taken had you continued on foot. How fortunate! How delightful!
Though whimsical visions come and go you are still mindful of the movement of the leaf along the water and its wetness that still caresses your fingers.
Yet, something is not right.
Even in such a tranquil state, your perception of Time’s passage is such that you feel long overdue for arrival at the terminus of your journey.
Though the gentle rocking and bobbing of the leaf conspires to assure you that all is well, you finally manage to open your eyes and recognize immediately that, while you are indeed moving, the leaf long ago drifted off course and found its way into a rather substantial eddy where you have been circling endlessly for hours.
+ + + + +
The moral of the story? –
Just because you are moving doesn’t mean you are actually going somewhere.
©Billy Red Horse
You are going to die.
After you pass, your family and, perhaps, some close friends, will be tasked with the responsibility of distributing the earthly possessions you have left behind. Some things may be retained by the aforementioned family and friends, some may be given away to others, some sold, some donated to charity, and some will very likely end up in the local landfill. As one who has been called upon to disperse the belongings of a departed family member I recognize the burden that such a responsibility can bring.
I recently found mySelf thinking about my own “estate” and what I will leave behind once I return to The Great Round. Though I have absolutely no intention of leaving this Magical world anyTime soon, I recognize that my departure will come soon enough and, when it does, I don’t want to leave an undue mess that someone else will have to clean up.
So I decided to have an estate sale.
Now, the sale of which is speak is more metaphorical than it is literal. The act of releasing my Life’s accumulated impedimenta has been an ongoing process for the past several years. Even so, I still have more stuff in my world than I wish to maintain or that I wish to obligate others to administer once I’m gone. Progress in the reduction of my material excess has been ongoing and shall continue for the foreseeable future.
(Lest anyone mistake me for a recent convert to minimalist, anti-materialist, or an outright ascetic approach to Life, nothing could be further from the truth. It is simply that part of my continuing practice of personal refinement has been to jettison that which no longer serves or brings me Joy while keeping only those things which delight and enchant. This goes for the immaterial as well as the material. Read on…)
It has taken a diligent effort on my part to limit and then reduce the accretion which for decades has been emblematic of my younger Self. Clutter (in all its forms) has proven to be one of the biggest distractions and Energy drains of my adult Life.
I don’t think most people realize just how oppressive clutter can be, whether that clutter be tangible or intangible. Clutter is magnetic, it has a gravitational pull all its own; the more there is, the more it attracts. And a cluttered mind can hold far more odds and ends than a cluttered closet or garage ever could.
So, dear reader, perhaps you will consider joining me by holding your own estate sale? Lighten your load, clean your slate, get rid of those things you no longer need or want or that are nothing more than an energetic anchor around your neck. Having a Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual estate sale while you are still alive (and, perhaps, still young) can also make for a much more enjoyable Life in the long run.
©Billy Red Horse
You’re driving down the highway, minding your own business, when some knucklehead talking on a cell phone and driving a tank cleverly disguised as a SUV almost runs you into a ditch. You scream insults and floor your accelerator in an effort to catch up with the offender. Pulling alongside the tank-driving nincompoop, you offer the one finger salute while shouting at the top of your lungs about how difficult it must be to drive such a large vehicle while one has one’s head shoved so far up their own ass. As you begin receiving the return volley you notice your SUV (which, in your opinion, is much smaller than a tank) has almost run two motorcycle riders into the same ditch. And so it goes.
Common courtesy and common sense appear to be two of the least common commodities in existence. In a world where people forever complain of the lack of consideration and forethought exhibited by their fellow man, it is amazing (but not surprising) how often those doing the complaining are the biggest jerks of all.
The vicious circle of stupidity and belligerence is enduring and apparently without end. Somebody does something stupid that affects you, you respond in kind out of malice, tempers escalate and the next thing you know someone has a bullet hole where part of their heart used to be. Two wrongs don’t make a right but they do occasionally make someone dead.
Fortunately, extreme cases such as the one mentioned immediately above, while not uncommon, are not the rule. Garden variety stupidity is plenty irritating enough. Lazy shoppers that won’t walk an additional 10 feet to put a buggy in a parking lot cart corral. Young “artists” that love to decorate every square inch of a building’s outer surface with spray painted graffiti. Smokers that throw their lit cigarette butts on the ground as though the world is their personal ashtray. Gullible…oh, for crying out loud… what’s the use? This could go on for days.
Unintentional stupidity happens and preemptive stupidity prevents nothing. Before you rise (or sink) to someone else’s cognitive lapse, stop and consider for a moment the ultimate repercussions of your actions. Life ain’t fair, but your acting all bellicose ain’t gonna make it any less so. Stop it!!
©Billy Red Horse
“The good old days.”
This phrase has been known to send eyes rolling and elicit sighs of quiet exasperation for decades. Are the “good old days” really all they are cracked up to be? In my estimation, maybe.
When I allude to the good old days, what I speak of is not based on a nostalgia for the world in which I grew up. Trust me, the ‘80s, ‘70s, and even ‘60s of my own youth were really not all that worthy of being pined for again. No, what I am speaking of are the Times before I was even born. I remember seeing the photographs in history books. I remember as a child hearing stories from those older than me who spoke of the much simpler days of an earlier era: the ‘50s, ‘40s, and even earlier. As an adult I have often watched movies from the ‘40s, ‘50s, and early ‘60s, seeing a world in many ways markedly different from today. (Be advised: I labor under no delusion that the silver screen representation of any given moment in Time is ever a complete or even remotely accurate depiction; such representations do, however, leave clues.) Those bygone eras had a certain innocence and character which I find most appealing.
Though they are but evanescent memories from my past, I want to say some of the Old Ones of my youth were 80 and 90 years of age and, thus, had personal recollections of Life as far back as the late 1800s. Times then were different and, in many ways, better.
Manners, decorum, accountability, dignity, and resilience seemed to be far more in evidence and in vogue. The importance of the family structure was still recognized and fostered, and hard work was seen as both a responsibility and a reward. In short, values were valued. Yet even more than these things, there was something which was a defining characteristic of those bygone days: an unflagging sense of optimism and genuine hope for the future.
Despite two world wars and a massive long-term economic depression, there seemed to be a pervasive expectation that the bad was going to eventually become good and the good would only get better. I know I haven’t observed such an expectant and genuine positivity in the world around me in decades. This is what has been missing for so long and what we must reclaim if we are to extract ourSelves from the current myriad of predicaments which we have created.
It could be argued that our grandfathers and great-grandmothers were, in their youth, simply naive and ignorant. I would argue pointedly to the contrary; I say it is WE who are betrayed by our naiveté. Our ancestors understood and accepted things which are perilously close to being discarded absolutely and lost in perpetuity by we who live today.
Present-day society has an unfortunate tendency to wait for an outside influence to “fix stuff” and set things right. Instead of looking to politicians or some other messianic enterprise to put conditions in order, it is well within our capacity to cast an investigative glance rearwards and rediscover what it is we have lost that can make the Present the “good old days” once again.
I will close this short apology by stating that I am not a Luddite. I have no desire to be without climate controlled buildings any more than I wish automobiles, computers, telephones, or air travel to vanish. I don’t at all support a homogeneous culture nor do I advocate for a compelled monolithic form of religious expression. I say we must cast off the Life-negating aspects of culture, regardless of their vintage, and nurture the Life-affirming aspects to give rise to something truly better.
An admirable goal of a transcendent humanity is to seek to continually refine and positively develop the Self (and consequently the community) while cleaving to the traditions and conventions which have been Time-tested and shown demonstrably effectual. A forward looking optimism should never go out of style.
+ + + + +
*I will assume that readers of this blog are possessed of an above average intelligence and a commensurate ability to discern intent; even so, considering the present zeitgeist of pervasive social outrage and engineered melodrama, I will state explicitly the following: I do not for one moment suggest that Jim Crow laws, unsanitary living conditions, monopolistic robber barons, or any of the unpleasant human relational dynamics of Times past should in any way be applauded or pursued as worthy of reclamation.
That this disclaimer needed to be included is a sad commentary on our present Times and an ironic reinforcement of the general thesis of this essay.
©Billy Red Horse
Ask the average person if they have planned for their death and, assuming they are even willing to discuss such an unpleasant topic, they will likely answer back, “well, I probably should get a will” or “I’m good; I have a detailed estate plan and a nice amount of life insurance to take care of the family after I’m gone.”
When I ask this question (and I do so more often than one might expect) I am seeking something very different. I’m not talking about wills or insurance policies; what I want to know is, have you planned for your death, that is, HOW will you die? WHEN will you die? If you are like most people when they discover my meaning, you will very likely exclaim, “well how the hell should I know?!…”
The average person is content to operate from the supposition that death will find them when and where it finds them, and that there is nothing which can be done to affect this inevitable rendezvous. While it is true that our ultimate fate is unavoidable, the manner and timing of that event need not be left solely to chance.
With the day-to-day events of Life being first and foremost in the minds of the typical person, it is the uncommon individual who will not only contemplate their demise, but actively consider and even choreograph the thing. (Lest there be any incorrect inference that I am speaking of planning and implementing suicide, I absolutely am not! I view the experience of being born into this Life as the greatest of gifts, and it is the reality of death which makes the conscious and intentional embrace of the process of living so important and vital. I will never encourage anyone to end their race before the finish line has been crossed.)
My thesis is simple: if our living is worthy of goals and forethought and direction, should not our dying be given comparable importance and consideration?
How you live your Life can in great measure influence how you will die; the quality of your Life will most likely determine the quality of your death. Choices and actions today and tomorrow have very real downstream consequences. Life style is a very accurate indicator of ones death style. It is with this in mind that one can begin to understand just how death can be approached consciously and with intention.
An archer does not draw back and haphazardly release his bow, hoping against hope the arrow lands somewhere favorable. The archer has a target. YOU should have a target. You must ask how would you prefer to die? Some will say, “quietly and in my sleep.” Others will want to be in Nature engaging in an activity that brings them Joy. Whatever your preference, this is a preference you would do well to articulate. Once you have considered the how, then think about when. Is eighty years of Life enough? Ninety or more? Decide but realize that you need not be held to your decision. Things can (and likely will) change.
More than once I have encountered cynics who disparage my contention. They like to point out all of the variables that might come into play to counteract the best laid plans for a triumphant dénouement. Yes, it is true that not even our next breath is a certainty. Accident, disease, or violent mayhem of all varieties could befall us at any moment. For all this uncertainty, the first step in living a long, healthy, and fulfilling Life is to HAVE THE EXPECTATION OF LIVING A LONG, HEALTHY, AND FULFILLING LIFE! Returning to the analogy of the archer, the simple elegance of the logic escapes some people: you are far more likely to hit a target if you recognize the target and if you make the effort to aim at it.
Should you and I ever have the opportunity to cross paths in the non-virtual world (and if you ask) I will be happy to share with you the plans for my own return to The Great Round. It will be dignified and it will be the final Ceremony to conclude a LifeTime filled with Ceremonies. My death will be a good death. My death will be Beautiful.
May yours be as well.
©Billy Red Horse
Greetings, Young One!
During a recent conversation we shared, I spoke of the Life-affirming benefits to be found in learning to dissipate and transmute your anger rather than turning it outward or, worse, turning it inward. You asked for any recommendations I might offer to help you process anger in a way that benefits rather than harms, whether you or others. Please consider the following –
Anger is a caustic. Never forget this. And like all caustics, it degrades and destabilizes everything organic that it touches. Anger is the product generally of misunderstanding or of fear as often as it is the result of righteous provocation. Regardless of its origin and its validity (or lack thereof), anger is best experienced quickly and released as soon as possible. Anger which festers or is improperly handled is an all-consuming fire which is an inverse multiplier, that is, anger which persists has exponentially negative effects that are further reaching and of greater impact than just the moment in which the anger initially arises. Unresolved anger is a ticking time bomb.
Now, I do not for a moment suggest that it is possible or even desirable to completely eliminate the experience of anger from your Life. Just like pain or any other discomfort, anger is an indicator that something is amiss and in need of your attention and, quite possibly, your corrective action. That said, anger cannot be allowed to linger or to become a constant traveling companion. It will bend your Spirit and age you far beyond your years. If there is any merit to be gained by its appearance in your Life, let it announce its presence, make you aware, and then be on its way as expeditiously as possible.
Before considering strategies to neutralize anger, I think it important to impress upon you the value in mitigating the triggers of and for anger in your Life. Start by taking an inventory of the persistent environmental conditions, circumstances, situations, and relationships which routinely lead you to experience anger. If you will identify the patterns that typically precede your anger, you can take steps to modify or even remove the offending provocateurs from your space. The less stimuli you have that predictably lead to an anger response, the less likely anger is to manifest in the first place. Better than resolving anger is to not have anger which requires resolution at all.
Another important factor: most of our emotional behaviors and triggers are learned which means that they can also be unlearned or, at the very least, altered if they are ones which do not serve us or promote our greater well-being. Just because a parent or other image-maker demonstrated a hot temper doesn’t mean you are destined to carry forward the tradition.
The preferred strategy many often employ to address their anger is to suppress it. There is no reason to even consider this as a viable strategy. Suppressed anger will destroy you from the inside out. Bottom line: don’t do it.
Which brings us to dissipation and transmutation.
Dissipation comes first through recognition followed by release. Anger, like all emotions, is experienced in the physical body owing to the release of chemical signals into the bloodstream. The quicker you can dilute or remove entirely those chemicals from your bloodstream, the quicker will the affects of anger be assuaged.
The most immediate connection we have with Life is our breath. The power of focused and controlled breathing cannot be emphasized too strongly. I suggest you research and learn a technique called Box Breathing. This technique can be done anywhere, anyTime, and in almost any circumstance. Directed breathing alone might well be enough to resolve anger-related distress.
If breathwork is surgical and immediate, bodily movement in the form of strenuous exercise is a potent analeptic of a generalist nature. To employ exercise as a remedy for anger has the triple benefit of functioning as a sort of meditative Time to examine and mentally process the anger and its causes while simultaneously clearing the bloodstream and even fueling the exercises themselves.
A surprisingly effective (if somewhat more esoteric) remedy is to hold a mental image of yourSelf standing tall, your legs slightly greater than shoulder width and your feet firmly anchored to The Mother Earth, your arms raised and spread wide overhead. Inhale deeply into your abdomen and then expel the anger up through your hands and out your spread wide fingers as you exhale steadily and powerfully. Do this several times to clear away the unwanted anger in its entirety. If the mental version of this exercise is effective (which it is), doing it for real in the physical is even more so.
Another tool is to establish what importance your anger will have in a hundred years. Or in twenty. Or next week. Getting worked up over something that is, in the grand scheme of things, of little or no real consequence is a waste of your Energy and your Time.
There are those who will state that anger can be a positive in that in can be a motivating force for change. Perhaps it is engaging in semantics on my part, but I maintain that anger is, itself, a net negative and should not be sought out, encouraged, or otherwise artificially sustained. Certainly, anger can be a catalyst for positive change, and this is where transmutation comes in.
Use your anger as a cue, an indicator that you are being provided with an opportunity to seek other, more Life-affirming situations and circumstances. Let anger be an agent of change, a motivating force that, when directed with positive and conscious intent, increases your agency rather than limits or weakens it. Be an alchemist and turn the lead of your anger into the gold of possibility.
+ + + + +
A more clinical analysis of anger and its causes would do little to help with the matter at hand, so I think I’ll end here. My final thought is as follows: though not something I take pleasure in saying, I must remind you that there is only one constant in your anger: you. The place to start is to change you.
It is my hope you have found benefit and merit in these words. Never forget –
There Is Always More,
Billy Red Horse
The Gentleman Mystic
©Billy Red Horse
It is the height of delusion to presume that one has control over anything. Anything. Not the actions of others, not even the actions of Self. Certainly not emotions in any form. “Well, at least I can control what I think,” says the dedicated meditator and earnest spiritual wayfarer. Really? Then control your thoughts right now and don’t think about a purple elephant. Don’t think about a terrible smell. Don’t think about your greatest fear.
Is it my assertion, then, that we are little more than pieces on some grand celestial chessboard, moved about willy-nilly, simple victims of circumstance and chance?
Rather than being possessed of some nonexistent control, we have at our disposal something far more genuine and accessible but something which requires diligence and mindful finesse to employ effectively. What is this mystical elixir?
We cannot control our thoughts but we can influence them. Though we cannot control our conditions and circumstances, we can influence them. Because the delusion of control is unreal, the verity that we have the ability to influence is, ultimately, a far more profound and efficacious capacity than some alleged faculty that is, in truth, nonexistent. And our influence has a far greater reach than control (real or imagined) ever could.
To be effective, influence requires skill. Effective influence requires understanding. Effective influence requires compassion and kindness. Effective influence requires a clear perception of things as they are and as they could be. These requirements apply whether the influence is to be brought to bear within ourselves or in the world around us.
Influence is a noble trait worthy of a transcendent humanity. Befriend your influence and use it wisely…
©Billy Red Horse
You are a killer.
The above statement is neither metaphor nor hyperbole, it is FACT. No matter how much you might protest to the contrary, regardless of any positions of pacifism or non-aggression you hold, even should you have been a strict vegan and staunchly rejected the use of animal products in any fashion, you are directly responsible for the death of more individual lives than you can possibly imagine.
How can I be so bold in my proclamation and so completely certain of my stance? You are reading this dispatch, which means that you are ALIVE. The very fact that you live means something, some 10 trillion or MORE somethings, had to die. Plants, animals, insects, microbes, and likely multiple lifeforms we have yet to even discover or identify are gone. And you killed them.
The purpose of this dispatch is not to heap upon you guilt or blame or to induce shame. My point is to bring to your attention the Giveaway that so many others have made so that you and I may live. It is to share with you the recognition that the carrot is no less sacred than the cow. If we are to live then something else must die for that to happen. It is The Way of Things.
Every morning before I leave my home I stop just outside my door and speak aloud the following words:
To all those Life forms which today I will kill,
Those which I kill knowingly and those which I kill in ignorance,
I ask your forgiveness. Please forgive me.
I grieve for you and I Celebrate you.
I honor you and I thank you.
I shall live my Life today in such a way
That your loss is not in vain.
This prayer does not negate the fact that I will, that I MUST kill in order to live. What it does is bring to the forefront of my awareness the awful cost that others must pay so that I may live. It helps me to recognize the importance of my Life being lived to its fullest and appreciated for the Gift that it is.
It is Sacred Law that Death gives Life. In this universe, it can be no other way.
©Billy Red Horse