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.
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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
Real Magic is not make-believe.
The average person expects more of Magic than Magic can possibly deliver, which is why so many discount that Magic can even exist at all. The problem arises when people expect the Hollywood representation to be an accurate depiction of how real Magic functions. Something from nothing is not possible and is not how Magic works. A real and efficacious “spell” or “potion” requires that certain elements be present for the Magic to come to fruition. “Magic” is when all of the required components come together in the proper sequence in the proper amounts at the proper Time and are enlivened by a metaphysical component which no science, no philosophy, and no religion has ever been able to accurately account for. Magic is not now (nor has it ever been) something which operates outside the boundaries of natural, physical, or Energetic Law. Real Magic is the fulfillment of Cause-and-Effect (no magic wand needed.)
Magic requires action. Magic requires effort. And Magic typically requires patience. Owing to its grounding in the Law, Magic will never permit itself to be rushed.
Magic is not infallible, as is no other attribute of Life. Magic is subject to the consequences of random influences as is everything else in Creation.
Magic is not supernatural; in fact, real Magic is the most natural thing in all of Creation.
I have encountered many people over the years who, once exposed to my theories regarding Magic, are quick to assert that I am either playing loose with semantics or attributing to Magic that which is nothing more than the basic processes of Life and Creation.
Guess what, folks?- Life IS Magic and Magic IS Life! The refusal to acknowledge and accept this critical verity is what deprives so many of the benefits and wonder of Magic in their lives.
Forget Hollywood. Step outside and take a good look around you. Wherever your gaze may fall, rest assured that you are seeing with your own eyes Real Magic of the highest order.
©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.
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*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
“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.”
– Henry David Thoreau
In author Tim Ferriss’ bestselling debut THE 4-HOUR WORKWEEK, one of the pillars of his approach included the concept of “automation.” His basic premise was to put as much of ones work-life as possible on autopilot so as to have more Time and more Energy to focus on those things of greater importance and/or interest. This is a most beneficial approach that can be transferred into Life in general and to the area of personal refinement specifically. The confounding thing is that most people already automate a tremendous amount of activities and responsibilities in their day-to-day existence; the problem arises when, for most, those things automated are the wrong things.
Eating: automated. Exercise (if done at all): automated. Human interaction: automated. These are examples of automation done wrong. We must identify those activities and tasks in our Life that demand the least attention and find ways to automate them so as to have more mental and emotional bandwidth available to consciously engage in those activities that make Life worth living. Eating, exercising, and interacting with others are but a few of the activities which are deserving of our full and undivided attention.
Automation is not conducive to eating and enjoying a well-prepared meal. Put away the cell phone and taste your food! Stop repeating banalities to co-workers and other people you encounter. Have a real conversation! How to automate properly? Create systems and be disciplined in their execution so that you can focus on the good stuff! Simplify your Life so that you are not being pulled in so many different and conflicting directions. Simplification will give you a better perspective on what can and cannot be automated and how best to order your days for maximum enjoyment and delight.
Only you can determine what is worthy of your attention. Stop prioritizing the unimportant and give your awareness to those things which matter.
©Billy Red Horse
If your goal is to impart a message and to have it taken on board as valid and worthwhile, one of the surest (and quickest) ways to have that message challenged or discounted outright is to not be an obvious practitioner of exactly what it is you are promoting. Overweight dietitians, pallid physicians, broke financial advisers, and temperamental meditation instructors are just a few examples of those who present a face-forward that screams, “do as I say, not as I do!” And any sane person would be well within their good senses to beat a hasty retreat from such as these whenever and wherever they are encountered.
Very rarely is there only one right way to do something. But whatever behavior or methodology is being promoted (and usually charged for) should be consistent with the herald bearing the message. There should be evidence to support the claim. If you are one who has something to say, a product to sell, or an idea to spread, then it is in your best interest to be a walking and talking billboard for the value you purport to offer; there must be an obvious coherence of message and demonstrable results if you are to be taken seriously in this day and age.
It is challenging enough to persuade others to consider what it is you might have to offer without sabotaging your efforts. Don’t make the task all the more difficult by presenting a message that appears to contradict the facts.
Walk your talk.
©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