Becoming a Life Artist

A few years ago, after making an experimental film called Water Bird Plant & Man, I began to see the alignment between the four elements of water, air, earth, and fire, and the way that they serendipitously aligned with the four aspects of humanity of heart, mind, body, and spirit. Recognizing the echo of these elements through a variety of other cultural paradigms, I started to see a pattern in the culmination of the holistic growth of humankind. For as each individual seeks to appreciate and balance themselves with this flow of nature and the understanding of ourselves as part of it, we create the opportunity for the creative evolution of our civilization and the way we can harmonize with the life which flows through and around us.

First, we make the commitment to take responsibility for our emotional state by directing the heart to love. Second, we seek the ambition to coaching our minds to learn. Third, we realize our resourcefulness by supporting the body and the earth from which is is created to fully live. Fourth, we dedicate ourselves to the spirit which helps us delegate the legacy we leave as we pass into new moments. Though this individual journey is one that each of us makes in solitude as the artists of our lives, so does the culmination of these individual expeditions toward greater fulfillment also cultivate the greater wealth of the community through the realization of interdependence.

Just as we must love ourselves as the artists that create our lives, so must we appreciate the Artists around us that make this world more beautiful through the color they bring to the canvas. As we learn better ways of operating in the world to develop the management of our abundance, so shall we value the Businesses that have gone before and work concurrently to create the infrastructure through which this abundance is maintained, and invest in those that will be created to account for the surplus and true economic growth of our societal wealth. And realizing that we truly are all one in that we are created of, by, and for the same spirit regardless of the linguistic limitations we put on it, we recognize ourselves as caretakers of the good that has been bestowed upon us by this Source of all that is, and invest in the development of charity so that our society is imbued with the most invaluable resource of love.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Admf1Ui_uHg

Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at InkenSoul.com and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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What Is Our True Economic Depression?

Although we are often considered to be going through an financial recession, the greater danger is the depression of our true economy. One of the main reasons that we are depressed is that we are largely reliant on men we don’t trust to make decisions on our behalf. It is as if we are collectively involved in an abusive relationship, but fear leaving the relationship because we don’t think anyone else will care for us.

Because the political system has done such an incredible job at crushing our wills and self esteems by perpetually making it impossible to creating many positive changes that benefit the Gross Domestic Happiness of the people, and yet simultaneously provided us with many of the creature comforts it tells us that we need, we find it nearly impossible to consider that we would be better off providing for ourselves. And so we remain stuck in the quagmire of partisanship and artificial leadership of representative democracy instead of fully utilizing the resources at out disposal to create better lives for ourselves. Fortunately, many are rising out of the depression imposed on them by the forces that be and creating avenues for an exodus from our bondage.

Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at InkenSoul.com and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

How Do You Put An End to Violence? Try Being Nice.

Although the United States has the most violent deaths of any industrialized country, and the horrors of the media do much to promote that concept, we have actually decreased the violent death rate by 18%. Perhaps the warning received through Bowling for Columbine reached its goal in at least beginning to turn the tide. Although not all at once, we as a people are beginning to wake up to the fact that, like it or not, we’re stuck with each other so we’d better start being kinder to one another.

As much as I abhor the amount of violence in our culture, it is not guns that kill people. People kill people. If we are to continue to curb the senseless deaths that plague our country, we the people must open up to ways to care for one another as people.

This is not the role of the government. There’s not enough money in it. And we need not invent yet another organization to do this task for us. This must be a movement of the people.

In order to make kindness and respect systematic, we must first engage these qualities as projects. Starting with something as simple as smiling at more people has the potential to shift the consciousness of a community. What projects can you start to help promote happiness, peace, and goodwill in your community?

Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at InkenSoul.com and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

The Trial of Writing the World

After the boys left me at the end of Island Park, I started spending much more time with David, time which resulted in many conversations and queries over everything from the nature of business to the nature of existence. To be forthcoming, we had our issues. It’s never ideal for a business mentor to have a protege that has no desire to be a businessman.

“Why does the world need another business?” I asked. “We’re busy enough as it is.”

“Establishing business directs the activity and development of civilization,” he countered. “Business provides avenues of resource development and purpose. They enable people to feel fulfilled in what they do and help provide them with all of the needs in Maslow’s hierarchy.”

“Then why do so many of the people in the most industrious nation on the planet feel so purposeless and unfulfilled?” I asked. “Why, in this supposed first world civilization, where the free market of business is heralded as such a blessed system of salvation, are there so many people who worry that that they won’t have enough? Either they won’t have enough money to eat and keep a room over their heads, or they won’t have enough of whatever other product or products they’ve been conditioned to need in this wonderful system of magnanimous and beneficient development?”

David had a very long string of patience, but I could tell that my disdain for the system and the accompanying sarcasm pissed him off from time to time.

“Then what are you going to do, Steve?” he said. “If you’re not going to be a businessman. What’s your purpose here?”

I thought back to my time with the aliens and my commitment to write the world. Although I’d managed to get through the book, the world beyond had only been written in sporadic flourishes, and even then, they were often geared more toward philosophical diatribes that I could only imagine were remnants of the mind meld, my brain finding its way back from being stripped and reset.

“I don’t want to write this world,” I admitted to David. “It’s ugly and mean.”

“But it’s not just that,” David reassured.

“You’re right,” I said. “Its also unjust, wasteful, violent, and lacking in decency and common sense.”

“From a certain perspective, I suppose it is,” David said, leaning forward on his cane, “but from other perspectives, it is so much more.”

I knew that it was true. I’d already experienced too much beauty and love in this world to fully discount that this was a pretty incredible place. Yet the combination of a marketing mindset and the specter of industrialized globalism usually tends to throw me a bit off kilter, and trying to write of the world I imagined while being faced with a world that was expanding before me with ever-increasing gulps of our future was not so easy.

“Its just this whole market thing,” I said. “I just don’t fully understand its importance.”

“You don’t understand it’s importance?” David cocked his head to the side a little trying to understand the incredulity of my misunderstanding. “The market is how we exchange. It’s how people get their needs met.”

“But it’s not about meeting needs,” I retorted. “It’s about creating wants. By holding the power of the market in such high esteem, we keep finding this need to fill it with new stuff in order to make it tangible and live up to our expectations. But we only really need a portion of what it’s filled with. The rest of it is just stuff that we want. And to get more of what we want, we have to exchange it for what other people need.”

David took a long, deep breath. “Look, I know it’s not a perfect system…”

“But it’s the only one we’ve got? Is that really what your gonna feed me, David?” I asked. “Please don’t add that we’re still the best country in the world.”

“You know me better than that,” he assured. “And don’t interrupt me again. I have the talking stick.” He held up his cane.

I demurred and gave him the floor.

“This is the system that we’ve got,” he continued. “And it certainly is not the best system we can come up with. Nevertheless, it is the best system we’ve come up with so far. It’s one thing to see the flaws in the system. It is quite another to provide alternatives to them. If you feel compelled to sit back and point out the flaws, reluctant to give them the energy of writing them out, perhaps your energy would be better used by writing about the alternatives.”

“I’m not quite sure what the alternatives are.”

“Then perhaps you’d better get out there and find them,” he said without skipping a beat. “You know things can get better. Whether this whole alien thing you’ve told me about is true or a concoction of your over active imagination, I still believe that you’ve seen another way. Perhaps your purpose is leading the way toward it.”

“I’m not quite sure how,” I said.

“Probably not,” he assured, “but you know why, and it may just be that that’s enough for now. Once you find the how, it can be systematized. But I admit that finding that how can’t be done with an industrial mindset, and it may just be that your inability to industrialize makes you the perfect candidate for the job.”

One of the things I always loved about David was his ability to see me as more than just a nut job. Since finding me passed out in the park and hearing my fantastic tale of alien abduction and grand mission, he had yet to take out a restraining order or have me committed for closer evaluation. I appreciate that in a person.

I think it was because of his ability to see the layers in people that I was so inclined to heed his suggestions and encouragements. If he could see it in me, perhaps it was there.

Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at InkenSoul.com and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Can Downtown Sarasota Become Walkable?

While attending the Thunder By The Bay motorcycle rally in early January, as the roads were blocked off for pedestrian traffic and the occasional purring cycle, I got a great feel for how Main Street could work as a walkable promenade. The architecture is beautiful and the stores are interesting, unique, and of wide variety. People gathered to talk and enjoy one another’s company while perusing the motorcycles, vendors, and local establishments. I couldn’t help but think of the vitality the area could offer as a destination location instead of merely the collection of different locations that it currently represents.

After watching a documentary on Curitiba, Brazil, where they turned their busiest street into a walkable mall, and seeing the positive impact this type of promenade has made in other communities, I think that Sarasota would benefit greatly from such an endeavor. The Green Hopper and pedicabs could continue to offer expeditious transportation for those who need a break from walking, and everyone could enjoy a leisurely stroll through one of the most beautiful and creative cities on the Gulf Coast of Florida, further enhancing the allure of the area as a tourist destination. This was a vision of the Sarasota Master Plan many years ago, and I think that it would work in our best interest to keep progressively moving forward to bring that vision to light.

Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at InkenSoul.com and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

I Still Think Walmart is Backwards

Allowing a Walmart to be built in downtown Sarasota is the exact opposite of the economic viability we are looking for. Aside from the myriad of social justice and environmental infringements consistently imposed by the corporation itself, its footprint in the center of an area striving for entrepreneurialism, creativity, and economic and environmental sustainability would leave an indelible impression that would be deterrent to our intended goals as a community. The proposed parcel of land is not zoned for a structure of this magnitude for a very good reason, and we would be wise to heed the direction set by those that have come before us in order to keep Sarasota on a progressive path of localized development.

Ruff and Tumble

“Do you think he gets it yet?”

Ruff looked down the edge of his blade as light shimmered in incandescent colors down the length of the eight foot sword. “I don’t know, but it appears he’s at least on the path again.”

“Well, he’s never been off of it,” assured Tumble. “He’s just been savoring the steps.”

“A little too savory, if you ask me,” said Ruff. As the sword cut through air with effortless flicks of his mighty wrist, it left behind trails of stardust that chimed together in a crystalline composium of fluttering sound. “I haven’t had the chance to use this in ages.”

“You’ve used it plenty,” said Tumble.

“Not on this detail,” Ruff argued. “Thats the problem with pacifists. No action.”

“Trust me,” said Tumble, “He provides plenty of action.”

“That’s because your defense,” said Ruff, standing up and returning his sword to the sheath hanging on his back. “The guys gotta get off his ass and create some conflict before I’m gonna get any action.”

“It’ll come, Ruff. You know as well as I do that it’ll come.”

Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at InkenSoul.com and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.