Are our laws securing our freedom or diminishing it?

Regarding the dancing protesters at the Jefferson Memorial recently (video below), while I can completely understand everyone’s frustration at the situation and how it went down, I think it provides an opportunity to explore a change of pattern. I can understand why ruling that people can’t dance at a national monument where they should be most able to express their freedom of speech. I can understand understand the irony (or possibly hypocrisy) of limiting a citizen’s movement and expression in a place that was designed to celebrate the principles of life, liberty, and happiness upon which this nation was based.

I can also understand the frustration of the police officers who are sworn to uphold this law, causing them to shut down the monument for a while and arrest young people for doing little more than moving to music. I can understand the frustration of the tourists who came to see this monument of American freedom, but instead became witnesses to what some call the formation of the police state in United States of America. From every angle, this event should incite us to address exactly how we are living out the principles our forefathers set before us and amend our ways for the highest good.

The unfortunate reality is that we have come to a point where our society feels it necessary to pass a new law every time something in the world around us doesn’t agree with our fragile sensibilities or makes us uncomfortable, regardless of how the law will restrict the freedom of others. For the free thinkers, the ones who have historically provided the out-of-the-box thinking that has allowed society to progress as it has, this becomes a great challenge. Visionaries are called such because they see beyond the limited thinking habits that the majority of the population entertains. However, when the visionary’s activities go too far beyond the understanding of the public conception, the public, afraid of what it doesn’t understand, often passes a law to ban the visionary’s progress.

How did we get to the point where when someone does something we don’t like or draws us out of our comfort zone in the way that we don’t appreciate me, albeit in the way we might actually need we create a law to secure ourselves from further discomfort? Why can we not recognize this discomfort as the growth of our soul as it is? Could we not, instead of coming together in this democratic system to assure that things don’t happen, we used it to ensure that things happen? What if we as a people could rise to that level of humanity that allows people to be people, however strange or deranged we may think that they are, and limit our use of law to provide conduits for the progress we actually seek instead of the digress of personal freedom?

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In Remembrance and in Hope…

A few years ago, an old friend of mine and a captain in the U.S. Army sent me some of the songs he’d written on the front lines and recorded while on leave. One of them was especially poignant considering his situation, and I produced a simple music video to ensure that his voice was heard by more than me. I wrote about it last year around this time, but obviously, today is a good day to give it another listen.

I give much thanks and appreciation to the brave men and women who give their lives so selflessly in order to fight for what they believe in. May we as a civilization realize the wisdom that will allow us no longer have to ask them for such a sacrifice so that true freedom can ring for all.

Take a Shit with Me

My sister-in-law, to whom I gave a copy of my most recent book for Christmas, informed me that the reason she hasn’t read it completely is a matter of time and space. She has it on her nightstand where she intends to read it before she goes to bed. The problem is she says that my book does not incite sleepiness; it actually makes her think. So she’s contemplated moving it to the kitchen table where she can read it in the morning to get her brain ready for the day ahead. But I think there’s a better place for my book as well as a better time to read it.

The best place for my most recent book is in the bathroom. The book is broken down into 77 parts, each one only 2-4 pages long, the perfect length to turn an ordinary bowel movement into a transformational experience. Out with the old, in with the new, I always say. So the next time you need to relieve yourself, take a copy of my book with you as you ascend your throne, and enjoy the journey toward turning the shit in your life into something much more valuable than you could have imagined.

The book is currently available as a Limited Edition Advanced Copy called The McAllister Code, but will soon be released as How to Survive and Estralarian Mind Meld (and what’s on the other side): A Guide to Being. Enjoy the read.

Why I'm Retitling My Latest Book

A few years ago, someone sent out a hoax press release saying that my book The McAllister Code, a fictional approach to marketing about two aliens who wanted to turn Sarasota into a marketing mecca, had been picked up for publication and was an Amazon best seller. I did my best to ignore it, but I liked the idea so much that I eventually broke down and wrote the book. Unfortunately, the final product, based more on what I felt inclined to communicate to the world about higher consciousness and appreciating deeper values in life than our society currently cherishes, was vastly different than the original premise of the book.

It’s not that I don’t believe that Sarasota is capable of becoming a “marketing mecca” as the original email suggested. I believe that Sarasota, as with any community or individual, can become whatever it wants to be. However, it is of greater importance to me that my community, Sarasota and beyond, market something better than a mere product or service that perpetuates our present economic situation.

I feel that we are at a pivotal time in history. Our political landscape is disastrous, filled with lusty ambition from the participants and apathy, anger, and despair from those on the fringes. Our economic system, plagued by deception, greed, and inequality, is teetering to the point that the Prepper movement has reached an all time high, with people stockpiling food and ammunition in preparation for the coming apocalypse. For those with open eyes and a sense of purpose in the world, it is apparent that the world is changing. The question is, can we change enough to create a life of abundance through this revolution, or will we go down with the vessels that can no longer contain what the world needs?

It is my hope that the words in my most recent book, as well as those which have come before and follow after, will provide some insights as to how we can embrace the changes that are happening around us and realize them as the gifts they are. Developed from a myriad of cultural paradigms, the book was never designed to be about me, but about us. As such, I think I have done a poor job of achieving the original intent of the book. So I am giving it a new name.

Although The McAllister Code has been released as a Limited Edition Advanced Copy, I have never really liked the title all that much. For one, I am already too often accused of being little more than an ego-obsessed fame junkie to release a book with my name in the title. Secondly, I really don’t want to offer up such a blatant rip-off of The DaVinci Code. Thirdly, this whole thing was started as a hoax, and while I am thankful to the as-yet-unnamed trickster, I feel that actually writing the book is honor enough, and I need not try to make a prophet of him any more than I need to make a further ass of myself.

So I am going to be releasing this particular book under a new title. Currently, I am going by the working title of How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld (and what’s on the other side): A Guide to Being. I’m still open to other suggestions, but I think it has a nice ring to it.

Until the new title is released, you can still get the Limited Edition Advanced Copy of The McAllister Code.

The 10th Anniversary of "The Rucksack Letters"

To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of stepping out to write The Rucksack Letters, I will soon be re-releasing it in paperback for the first time in 5 years. As I stated in the revamped Preface, meeting Aaron Heidemann and talking with him about his American Dream or Bust project made me want to revisit the American Dream I set out to chase and see how well I’ve manifested what I was looking for. All things considered, I’d have to say that the journey I embarked upon, although fraught with many pitfalls, has been a huge success.

Although I’ve wavered between the roles of poet, prophet, fool, and sage, and though my life situation has delivered me through both the highest highs and the lowest lows, I have truly appreciated, and continue to appreciate, every step of the journey. And that, I believe, is what a successful endeavor consists of. As long as you can reach the end a better person than when you began, and you can be grateful for the moments which helped carve you into this new creation, none of your efforts have been in vain.

When I set out to write The Rucksack Letters, I had visions of where my travels would take me. And with every endeavor since, I have dreamed of the outcomes I desired. One thing I have noticed as that, when my imagination finally crosses over into the physical dimension, where space and time converge  again, it takes on properties that are so subtle, and at the same time so much more vast than I’ve imagined, that it can only be described as surreal. I am still sorting out the particulars of all that I have collected in my rucksack over the last decade, but I can say with a very satisfying grin that the journey before me looks incredibly promising for myself and for my community.

The New Preface to "The Rucksack Letters"

This book began a few years before it was actually lived and written. After college, I wandered from job to job for awhile before my friend Matt Corbin invited me on a surefire Alaskan fishing expedition that would wipe out all of the financial debts that had accrued during our reckless youth and early adulthood. The five month journey found the worst fishing season in eighteen years, a substantial break with my religious tradition, and an all-consuming infatuation with wanderlust.

A few years later, shortly after I scoffed at Matt’s newfound diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder, I met with him to discuss its implications. My job jumping had only intensified, and I found myself at the end of my proverbial rope. In discussing it with Matt, I found that, of the twenty diagnostic criteria, seventeen of them succinctly defined my standard operating procedure.

Researching it more and finding a therapist to make the  official diagnosis, I decided to make a documentary on the subject of ADD. After filming ten hours’ worth of material, my appetite for creative stimulation was still nowhere near satiated. And so, I decided to use the malady to my advantage and took to the road to write the book that you hold in your hands.

While it was largely my goal to simply travel for the sake of travel, I was also imbued with a yen to explore the deeper meanings of spirituality, society, community, and the American Dream. Before I left on my sojourn, I contacted a number of intentional communities from monasteries to hippie communes to at least give me a rough outline of what the journey would entail. And though the road often curved more than I imagined it would, every corner brought me new insights and a greater understanding of life on this rolling clump of dirt I call home.

When I began delivering these letters via email to the number of email addresses I’d collected over the years, the fact that I  addressed them with the epithet “Dear Jack” was a bit confusing to many. But I was deeply indebted to Jack Kerouac for the limelight that he brought to wanderlust, and the free flowing verse that enraptured a generation and has echoed throughout those that  followed.

The title of this book was inspired by Jack’s book The  Dharma Bums, from a passage where Ray Smith and Japhy Ryder discuss The Rucksack Revolution.

“…see the whole thing is a world of rucksack wanderers,

Dharma Bums refusing to subscribe to the general demand

that they consume production and therefore have to

work for the privilege of consuming, all that crap they

didn’t really want anyway such as refrigerators, TV sets,

cars, at least new fancy cars, certain hair oils and deodorants

and general junk you finally always see a week later in

the garbage anyway, all of them imprisoned in a system of

work, produce, consume, work, produce, consume, I see

a vision of a great rucksack revolution thousands or even

millions of young Americans wandering around with rucksacks,

going up to mountains to pray, making children

laugh and old men glad, making young girls happy and old

girls happier, all of ‘em Zen Lunatics who go about writing

poems that happen to appear in their heads for no reason

and also being kind and also by strange unexpected acts

keep giving visions of eternal freedom to everybody and

to all living creatures…”

It wasn’t until recently that I started to realize that Jack’s words may contain more than a bit of the prophetic. Meeting Aaron Heidemann and his American Dream or Bust project has given me a lot of hope in what may actually become The Rucksack Revolution that Jack discussed and I tried to lead. Aaron is hitchhiking to all fifty states asking people what their American Dream is. Florida was his thirtieth state, and we were able to spend three days together comparing notes and discussing the possibilities inherent in our generation.

We talked about the coming demise of capitalism as we know it and the possibility of a resource based economy that will create a more level playing field, thereby dissolving the hierarchical class structure that has held us captive for so long. He also informed me that there are a growing number of people taking to the road in search for a life outside of the faltering systems we’ve created. Could this be the beginning of what Jack saw? Could the letting go of our old ways of doing things and the sense of security that it brings open up the opportunity for the sustainable society we all long for? Only time and acceptance will tell.

Yet this is the beginning of the offering to the gods of revolution. When I started this venture, I realized that millions or thousands may not take the physical journey, but they would at least be able to experience a part of it through the words I left in my wake. If I could only step out in faith and answer the call I seemed to be given, the rest of the world would, in some way, be doing it with me.

The people with whom I chose to spend the year and a half of travel were eclectic to say the least. When I wasn’t wandering the highways and byways of America, I shared time with Buddhists, Hindu, Pagans, Unitarian Universalists, Anarchists, Taoists, Wiccans, Shamans, Kabbalists, Scientologists, Christians, Hippies, Radical Faeries, druggies, drunks, rapists, murderers, musicians, artists, city folk, country folk, and fellow wanderers. I think it was a pretty ample cross section of today’s America.

In each of the religious and spiritual paths I took the time to meander down, and even in the hopes of those with no conception of God at all, I noticed a common thread. Though ideological bricks and dogmatic mortar create walls that block the full view of unity they seek, the big picture does reveal each path leading to the same place of Truth. The filters of language and tradition cause some paths to be longer and more tenuous, but though the treads and paces vary, each path offers similar steps to an ultimate goal defined by the absolute being of peace, love, and bliss.

As the soul-deep similarities within these people were revealed, and new wisdom was found in books that opened themselves up to me, I noticed a global shift in consciousness that continues to intensify. From the allegorical prophecy of the Celestines to filmmakers questioning what the Bleep we really know, our society is awaking to the Secret that there is something greater at work here than the material forms which surround us. I still call it God.

As I traveled these American roads, even during the long waits on the easement, I was amazed at how often God granted me happiness. Though I owned barely a thing and was probably viewed as a derelict by the eyes that drove past, I found happiness in most every breath, for in each one, I was thankful for the opportunity to take it. I was thankful for two good legs that could carry me as far as I needed to go. I was thankful for a back strong enough to carry my load. I was thankful for two good eyes able to see the beauty of creation and two good ears to hear its song.

Throughout this endeavor, there was the hope that I would find my purpose in life. Yet in so many moments on the road, I found that the only purpose I could fulfill was to wait, to breath, to  be at peace, and to be thankful for the meager life I’d been granted. With no desire to attain any more than what nature and time offered me, I understood the revolution of which Jack dreamed.

Though you may find a large measure of folly in the words that follow, it is my hope that your eyes will also be opened to a greater understanding of your fellow man. Though we each must make our own individual journeys, at the end of the road we are all one. Finally, I hope that you come to realize that every spin of the planet brings revolution. It is up to us which way it spins next.