I read a quote this morning from Woody Guthrie.
“Just decide what you want to write about. Then you decide why you don’t want to write about it. Then you climb gently and sweetly up to your paper, and with a pen, pencil or typewriter thoroughly cocked and primed … just go ahead and WRITE IT.”
This is the third day I have woke up at almost 6 a.m. on the dot. I love waking up early before everyone else. Today what I want to write about is writing. What I don’t want to write about is anxiety and depression … and finding a way to fund-raise for projects. Or just the business side of writing at all. What I certainly don’t want to write about is AI writing. So lets save writing about Artificial Intelligence for another day and write about anxiety, depression, writing and money. Let’s call that supporting the arts. The money part, that is. One of the first books I can remember reading all the way through was Seven Arrows by Hyemeyohsts Storm. I was about seventeen when I read it. The reason I mention that I read it all the way through was because in my schooling, not once did I read a book cover to cover and not once did I write a paper. I did what is called fall through the cracks. I quit school at sixteen and got a General Education on Decency. GED.
When I found at age seventeen or so L.S.D., Native American books, Bob Marley, Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead … reading was not something I was into. Listening certainly was my way of learning and to make things easier Seven Arrows had pictures and a teaching story that has stuck with me all the way to where I sit, even now, cuddled up to my laptop sweetly writing just as Woody Guthrie suggested in that Instagram Post from the Woody Guthrie center. That post with the quote was the first thing I saw today on a screen. Wake and scroll some might call it.
The teaching story in the book Seven Arrows is a public domain story that has been passed down from several different sources. It is a classic hero’s journey story where the hero in the story, a small mouse, leaves the comforts of home to travel down life’s long lonesome highway straight into the riding off into the sunset motif. Transformation with a happy ending. The story is like one of those old AAA Triptick flippable road-maps, or for the new generation of folks, the story is like Google Maps for what happens when you decide to finally do that thing that you have just got to do against all advice. Partly, anxiety can be from not knowing what is going to happen. Depression can come from dealing with the result of what happened and not knowing how to navigate the truth of the matter, when life shows you the raw details of just how mean and nasty this world and people can be. Especially to seekers and visionaries.
One of the life lessons to be learned from the story is when the little mouse finally up and leaves the small community of other mice and goes off in the direction of what has been driving the little mouse crazy. It was a roaring sound. It was that rolling thunder of thoughts that can drive a person crazy when they just got to get the fuck outta whatever they might be stuck at. The mouse runs off, leaving its friends behind and then something wild and wonderful happens. The little mouse comes back to the circle of friends and finds that all the friends are just the same and now suspicious of the little mouse. The, You Can’t Go Home Again, idea. Back when I was doing acid and being all hippie this story meant something different than it does now. What that story is now and has become over time is more like a mirror. Every time I read it, it does more to reflect what I am doing now, like what am I thinking about when I read it. Where am I in the Medicine Wheel of life.
I think I should have been a Psychologist. Or maybe a Spiritual Leader or something, however, the last thing I would want to do is be all groovy and weird or creepy and cheesy. Seven Arrows is a Native American “spiritual” book. Many of the books that I actually read after leaving school were what would be called “spiritual.” Back in my Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, Bob Marley days, I was losing my religion so far as to say and needed something else to guide me into what was soon going to be one of the hardest, and sometimes when reflecting back on it, embarrassing times in my life. When manic depression gets a hold of ya, thoughts and prayers, just let go and let God just isn’t enough. At least not for me. I needed a road map to show me how to get back from the end. In my very humble opinion, this is what I find listening to many younger folks now. They lack the connective stories and life lessons that can come from teaching stories and mentoring.
I went into the kitchen a minute ago and had a thought about one of my other favorite teaching stories. It seems I learn a-lot from rodents. It is a Sufi teaching story, called The Cat Swami and the Rats, told by Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. It’s a story about a sly cat in a grain house that tricks rats to trust him. To make a great story short, he ends up eating them one by one. What I learned from that story is to not take the guru spiritual thing too seriously and always questions the motives of anything I take on to be my guide. Back in my day, new age religion was back in town and everyone in my circle was doing something with crystals, gurus, goddess stuff, mandalas, magnetic channeling of Thomas Merton, drums, drugs, acid whatever … palm reading, tarot cards.
So, to get back to what I don’t want to write about and do what to write about, I enjoy telling my life story, so as it helps others who may be questioning their faith, or thinking about doing drugs or goddess forbid, thinking about killing themselves. I can’t really talk about that subject because I never got that depressed and when talking about that subject, I can not offer anything except get expert help. But what I can talk about is transformation and going head first into places that you can not go back to, or even look back at, until you actually do that thing that some folks call, kill your self. The ego. The self. That sound inside your head that takes you places that sometimes you can not control. And that is what I think LSD taught me the most, was that I was not in control. Anxiety is sometimes that feeling of not being in control and wanting to be. To a control freak, LSD might help because for many hours, something else is guiding your mind, or at least has a grip on it and no matter how much you think you can, you can not make it stop.
My Son, who was eighteen at the time, took a whole bunch of mushrooms and ended up at the hospital getting his stomach pumped. He blacked out and was uncontrollable and somewhere in the trip, he broke one of his teeth. He told me when I asked him what he learned from his trip that he would not do mushrooms again. I told him good idea, but that doing something like that for many cultures is not something all that out of the ordinary. He is living with Native People out in Oklahoma and one of his Elders suggested he should visit the Peyote Church and do his trip with folks who know how to handle an eruption such as he experienced.
As a Father, I made a rule with my kid that we would not talk about drugs and smoking weed all the time. Kinda that, “I don’t want to hear about it, I am your Dad.” Like I don’t want to watch him climb up a very tall tree, or climb down the path of a 300 foot log slide that is so steep that you can’t see the bottom. He did that once. I had to walk away. I walked away from smoking weed, LSD and other intoxicants such as those drugs to work with kids and eventually work for the railroad. So let’s cut to the chase. Let’s get right down in the dirt about what I really don’t want to write about but I do and that is making money from writing.
I am a musician as well as a writer. I am also an Outlaw, but that is another topic I want to write about. Money. Yuk, I am an Anti Capitalist, so making money requires a serious discussion on commodities and the movement of cash through a system of economics. One of the ways you make money is by using a tool, and somehow possessing the tool makes you a crafts-person, and then you go and get a job and then the money comes rolling in. Like, busking for example. Standing out in the street where people are and using your guitar or whatever and singing a tune and the folks empty their pockets of spare change into a hat or some sort of bucket. But who has spare change anymore and what tool does a writer use? And who wants to “commodify” their hobby or turn their hobby in the arts into a job? Henry David Thoreau in his book, Walden Pond, uses his first chapter as a tool to let his critics and readers know what he did with his money all the way down to the penny. My dream would be to make about $600.00 dollars a month doing what I love. That doesn’t to me seem to much of a wild hair up my ass or what some might call a get rich quick scheme or even a hair brained idea.
Over the last few days of mentioning on Facebook that there is a way to support my writing fund, I raised $30 dollars. $10 dollars from three people. So in the vein of Thoreau, let’s talk. What would I do with $600.00 dollars and how would I make it? And even more important … you won’t get help unless you ask … so, please support my work and that means now you have a responsibility and you will have to use a tool, such as a debit card and Pay Pal. And see how cringe this whole topic can be? I am three hours into just this post and I will edit it and tweak it a bit. By the time I post this, I will have worked six or more hours with my laptop, mind and soul and be pretty wore out. I will think to myself and worry about some of the topics covered. Should I have said that stuff about suicide? And then I’ll hit the publish button and throw my work out into the world for all to see and that is somewhat of a liability and opening myself up for critical judgment. That is what this work is. Writing. It’s no joke and can be hard and exhausting.
So, $600.00 smak-a-roos? Where I am living now, I have health coverage because of socialized medicine. My rent is very low and I don’t consume that much. I like the small things in life such as rocks and feathers. So, my money goes pretty far. I am blessed and humbled by being taken care of by my situation in life. I am not rich by any means. I smoke and drink coffee. So, that is the worst place YOUR money might go. Into my belly might be another place. I may use some of it to support another writer or musician. If I do then we would have to have another conversation of circles and money moving in a localized free market system. Then we would be right back to square one talking about money. So, let’s get back to talking about the things we don’t want to write about. Politics, Religion and Drugs! Shall we?
I don’t like labeling things. Like socialist or spiritual or crazy. When things get a label, things are sent into the generalization bin and run a risk of being “too” something. Too radical, too religious, that kinda talk. One of the things I hope I can achieve by telling my thoughts like I do, is that it will help somebody get through life, whatever this is. I borrowed that from Kurt Vonnegut’s son. Vonnegut said something close to that was one of his favorite quotes. So to label myself, to generalize myself into a pigeon hole and paint myself with a wide brush, I might suggest that I am a spiritual person who believes in cooperative social circles that are created and maintained for the necessity of providing help or in the service of need. I would also call myself a person who has mental health issues because I have learned to deal with my manic/depressive mental illness. I am a fearless person sometimes and now we are back at that word, Outlaw.
I don’t have any tattoos and I don’t use drugs. So how could that make me an Outlaw? Well, I am not an Outlaw, but Willie Nelson is and Waylon Jennings was, no? There is a real gang from where I am from called the Outlaws Motor Cycle Club, MC. They are what is called 1 percenters because they represent the 1 percent of people in this world who do not give a fuck at all and will do whatever they want, whenever they want, and make no bones about it. I am not that. I am the other side of the spectrum from that. I am more like an Anarchist. And these days, being a socialist or anything in the shades of what some might call red can get you killed, or silenced, or removed from your position. That is why I like the word Outlaw. I live outside the law of whatever it might be that is said to be the rule. That is why I as a rule, don’t plan to make my blog a subscriber per month kinda thing. I have been told by some that that is the way to go. I would rather state my need and see if I can get that need met. We all need money in this pre-apocalypse clepto-capitalist global economy. No? I am non-violent as well and dedicated to non-violence almost as a religion.
So here we are at the conclusion of this post. Now I will wrap it all up and move on so I can get to the editing and tweaking part of this work. What I wanted to write about was faith, mental health and drugs. What I didn’t want to write about was money and the need for it. I did get to name drop some of my favorite famous people. Willie Nelson’s recording Red Headed Stranger got me through a divorce and that leads to another thing I wanted to write about and that was teaching stories and mentors. I hope you made it through this OK. Any questions? Ideas? Leave a comment and don’t forget to subscribe … (hehe). In conclusion, see ya soon and chow chow … Auf Wiedersehen –
circa 1990 in Cherokee Park, Louisville