The Shift from Consumer Back to Citizen

I know we´re all pretty addicted to the way things are. We´ve been trained to be that way. It´s how we´ve been harvested to become consumers. But if we believe at all in all the high falutin´ platitudes about doing your best, and being kind, and sharing love that we post on our Facebook walls, then we´ve gotta be more than consumers. We gotta be citizens. And if we can strip back all of the nonsense that´s been written since 1776, and get back to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and then we could just start over, using the resources at our disposal in creative, sustainable ways and fuel that system with the power of love, well, I think we might just get a little closer to what our forefathers saw than the clusterf#@k we got going on now. If only.

 

 

 

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

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What I Really Want To Be Is A Writer

A few years ago, I had this idea to tell my “McAllister Code” story from another perspective. One that didn’t include me or aliens, but that told the story of a variety of Sarasotans who weather this variety of storms and how they make their way through it. When I recovered my chest from the Bay Shore House, I found my notes among the other writing that I have saved, and have been giving more thought to the possibility of reviving the story.
I realize that, considering the number of projects that I have put upon myself as Renaissance Man, and the number of business plans, scripts, articles, and other stuff that I say that I am going to write, yet somehow keep managing to put on the backburner, given that I have much more on my plate than is actually possible to accomplish in my lifetime, it may seem ridiculous to even entertain the idea of taking on another novel. However, my plan, if I can manage to actually follow though with it, is to write every day, and actually disciplining myself to become what I have dreamed of.
typing        For years, I’ve thrown out this “write the world’ motto, and for the most part, I’ve lived up to it. I have finished a couple of books, screenplays, poems, and articles. But because I have been so obtuse in my rallying against our societal makeup and the nonsense it churns out, I have been foolishly reluctant to assign myself to any sort of schedule, discipline, or hard and fast rules. While this has a lot of fun in the exploration of all possibilities, I feel that it is time, since I am finally 42 and technically some sort of adult, that I finally grow up and get a job.
I’ve always said that if I were to have an ideal job, it would be as a writer. In my half assed attempts at publication, I have sold an incredibly modest amount of books, and because I am no big fan of the competitive consumerist thunder-dome of industry that surrounds the publishing world, I haven’t been quick to jump into it. Yet, as I have realized the joy of working for the sake of working, I have also regained a new appreciation for writing for the sake of writing, and now that I have a more cohesive direction on what I would like to write about, I am finding much more joy in getting these words to line up they way they’re supposed to.
In my role as Renaissance Man, my underlying desire was to become a man of success in a way that anyone could. In other words, I did not want to become successful because of any of my particular talents, inspiring people by my ability to merely utilize the machine, but I wanted to find success beyond individuation. I realize that either sounds incredibly pompous or incredibly virtuous, and it may very well be that it’s a bit of both. Nevertheless, I wanted to be something more than just someone who was good at something and made a lot of money at it. I wanted to be someone who helped to change people’s lives, a lot of people’s lives.
Maybe I’ll be able to change people’s lives through this story that I tell, and maybe I’ll change them through the words I write in between them. Regardless, I’m feeling much more driven to put these words in the proper order, and I am finding my flow in the process. When all is said and done, that is the most important thing anyway. For the only way I can help other people find their flow is to find my own.

 

 

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

It’s All Energy

I followed the aliens’ directions and parked the car downtown before finding a bench at Five Points Park. We sat in silence for a few moments. I watched the aliens watch people walking around and through the park and soon let my attention wander to those that they watched.

Some walked slowly. Some walked quickly. Some gave us a friendly nod. Some moved by as if we didn’t even exist.

“What do you see?” Iman asked.

“People. Buildings. Trees. Streets.” I looked at Iman. “Is there something in particular I should be looking for?”

“We’re going to look at energy.”

“Energy?” I asked.

320px-Blue_energy-blog“Yes. Everything has energy. It’s what comprises the universe. However, there are gradations to its flow. Some allow it to flow
strongly through them, and some wrestle with it and don’t allow it to flow as it should.”

“Do you remember your experience with the life window?” Yewell asked.

“How could I forget?”

“What were you thinking about when you lost consciousness?”

“I was thinking about all of the people I’ve let down in my life. I was thinking about all the times I screwed up. I was thinking about all of the things I’d done wrong in life.” As I spoke the words, I could feel my posture start to droop.

“Do you see how those thoughts made you weak?” Iman asked.

“I can feel how they make me feel weak now.”

“Unfortunately, a good part of your population lives in that state,” said Yewell. “They are stuck with that concept of shame as their primary reality. They feel that they don’t deserve anything and neither does anyone else. For them, life is suffering.”

“What does any of this have to do with marketing?” I asked.

“Marketing is all about right understanding,” said Iman, “communicating through your actions and words who you are and what you do. If that understanding is based on a lower stage of consciousness, you’re not going to communicate at your highest potential. You won’t even be able to realize it.”

“I’m not sure I understand,” I said.

The aliens looked at one another and sat on either side of me on the bench. They each placed a hand on my shoulder and stared at me.

“Okay, you guys are kind of freaking me out,” I said.

“Sometimes,” Yewell said “in order to gain right understanding, it is necessary to first view poor understanding.”

“We need you to see something,'” Iman said. “We’re going to give you a mind meld.”

“A what?”

“You’re going to be able to see things through our eyes for awhile. All we want you to do is to sit as you are now and look deeply at the people that share your space.”

“Is this going to hurt?”

They stared blankly at me for a moment before Iman said, “You’ll survive.”

“Okay, that pause wasn’t very convin…”

Before I could finish my thought, both of their hands tightened on my shoulders and my neck craned forward. Searing pain began to develop in my temples as if their eyes were boring into my skull. My vision blurred, darkened, and rose again into a new sensation beyond my optical sense. As much as I wanted to close my eyes, I felt as if my eyes had bugged out beyond the limits of my eyelids.

The people who walked before me no longer appeared as the three dimensional apparitions that I’d seen a moment before. Instead, they glowed with a multi-hued luminescence that transcended the clothes they wore, the color of their skin, or their standing in society. They each glowed with a luminescent aura as if I were looking directly at their souls.

My focus fell on one particular man who was sitting on a bench across from me. A red aura emanated from his lower pelvis, expanding until it overtook his entire body and drew me in like a vortex. My mind zoomed into his and I was shocked by the vision of a psyche racked with shame at a life poorly lived. My mind left his like a gunshot, catapulting my consciousness back to my own body where the multi-colored souls walked before me. Another body was enveloped in red, and again I was drawn into a troubled mind.

I sunk deeper into a subconscious where a raging storm of pain and abuse engulfed me before I was able to break free and return to my own body.

Again and again, my focus fell upon a person who swelled up with red and my mind melded with theirs. Again and again, I was pummeled by a barrage of shame and the weakness of the human condition at its lowest point. My head pounded with pain, my heart ached with sorrow, and my body cramped with the weight of the world upon it. The despair that overtook me made working on the screenplay the night before seem like a trip to Disney World.

I found myself in my own body again, the shame of others bringing me face to face with my own failings once again. The greatest desire that consumed me was wanting to die. With that, the colors of others faded to black and I felt my body slump to the ground on the soft grass as unconsciousness overtook me once again.
This is an excerpt from How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. Order your copy today!

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

The Challenge of a Writer in a Society That Doesn’t Read

One of the bigger challenges I face as a writer in this day and age is the growing amount of accepted illiteracy that has spread through our society like a plague. Basically, the worst part of being a writer is that nobody wants to read anymore.

Writing-writing-27456811-500-374It is a challenge for me to have family, friends, and associates, though they say they appreciate all that I do, find themselves unable to harness the time or concentrated effort to appreciate what I do best. Though they often marvel at my accomplishments and ask about the intricacies of my journey, they cannot rustle up enough curiosity about these things to actually read about them or acknowledge the journey I have left in ink. Though I regularly post ideas, encouragements, and what I consider to be avenues of understanding, of the over 1400 people that I share them with, only very few will take the time to process them.

Yet the writer’s job is not necessarily to be read. I have come to find that my writing often does more to allow me to understand what I think than it does to allow others to understand what I think. So perhaps, like the Buddhist monks who spend months creating mandalas out of colored sand only to brush them away upon completion so they can start again, my words will merely be whisked away by the winds of information overload.

Fortunately, though my audience may not have yet become acquainted with what I have to say, I appreciate the process of my craft enough to continue to write the world regardless of how much or how little of it is read.

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

Thank You, Sarasota, For Doing Something

This was my address to the Sarasota City Commission on August 18.

Homeless-Family-Pic-2When Dr. Marbut came to speak to us last month, his most sage bit of advice on how to address our homeless situation was to simply do something. I want to commend the City of Sarasota for doing something. I want to commend you in advance for taking those steps toward becoming a community that does not view the shortcomings of our society as acceptable. For the only reason that Sarasota, or this thing we call civilization has an issue such as homelessness is that we have allowed it.I want to thank the City of Sarasota and the people therein for no longer allowing such a blight of unnecessary human suffering to exist in our community.

For too long have we carved our society out of the myth of independence and separation, creating larger and larger chasms between ourselves and our neighbors, ourselves and nature, and indeed between ourselves and our God. It is time that we start realizing our interdependence, and that regardless of our differences, even in the challenges we must individually endure, we must realize that we are all one human community, and none of us deserves to be deprived of the dignity of a place to sleep safely and someone to assure them that they are cared for.

These people that we have referred to as homeless, vagrants, street people, and bums are none of those things. They are people who have fallen from the grace of our manufactured civilization and are now seekers of a better way. They are Wayseekers, and it is up to us, as a creative, vibrant, industrious, and philanthropic community to show them the way.

I want to commend and thank Vallerie Guillory and the entirety of the Trinity Without Borders ministry for showing us the way, for reminding us that in order for our community to become what we want it to be, we must be the change we wish to see in the world.

I have heard criticisms of the Sherriff’s department being the overseeers of our initiative to help the homeless, and I have had them myself. But if that is the way that we go, I thank you for doing something. I have shared ideas with Vallerie on turning the Sanctuary of Sarasota into an area of creative, economic, and collaborative rehabilitation, and though our shared visions have yet to manifest, I thank her for doing something. At the Flow Factory and through the Common Wealth Time Bank, we are establishing programs such as the Reclamation Station to re-introduce these Wayseekers to craftsmanship by repurposing discarded furniture into works of decorative art in the hopes of helping them recreate themselves.

Ultimately, it does not matter what we do to address this situation for in this community, there is no shortage of creativity, innovation, resilience, or philanthropy. It does not matter what we do, what matters is that we do something. Hiring the foremost expert on homelessness to guide us on our way is a really good something.

Dr. King´s Beloved Community

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

-Dr. Martin Luther King

beloved communityI looked through the eyes of John Wesley Dobbs, a statue of his face at the corner of Sweet Auburn and Fort Street to see shadows of the overpass fall on chipped paint pool halls and boarded up windows. I walked with Dr. King decades too late – as I usually am – and found few people lined up to remember him. With open admission to the museum in his honor, I’d found something free, at last, and there weren’t many there to enjoy it. His memorial brought tears to my eyes, as I thought of the sacrifices he made so that people could go stand in line and pay six dollars to learn the history of Coke without being discriminated against. I found it sad that people would rather pay to revel in commercialism than pay nothing for the history of freedom. I knelt at the eternal flame, praying for the “beloved community” the man who was laid to rest on the reflecting pool behind me had died for and begged God to send him back. Dr. King now rests on a reflecting pond for a reason – so that we may constantly reflect back on the words he said and the truths he spoke and apply them to our lives today.

 

 

This is an excerpt from The Rucksack Letters. Get your copy now!

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

Aliens Among Us

Estralarian_IMAGE“How do we get balanced?” I asked.

“For that,” Iman said, “we’re going to have to take a look at what you’ve got to work with.”

“You see,” Yewell added, “your world is comprised of an array of different people from all walks of life. Each one has particular needs that need to be addressed, and the mental constructs that you currently have in place work just as much to hinder your progress as they do to propel it.”

“So we need to get everyone on the same page?”

“That will come in time, but we have a big library to get through before we reach that point. Right now, let’s just focus on getting them in the same book.”

“Perhaps we should go for a ride,” Iman suggested.

“A ride? Out in public? Don’t you think you two will kind of stand out?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Yewell assured. “You’re the only one who sees us in this form.”

“What do you mean?”

“Humans only see what they’re ready to see, what fits into the parameters of the mental constructs they’ve created.”

“Why do I see you like this?”

“Because you want to.” Yewell opened the door. “Are you ready to go?”

I led them out to my car while keeping an eye out for onlookers. What would people think if they saw me driving around with two aliens?

I got behind the wheel and turned the ignition. The car still wouldn’t start.

“We’ve got a problem,” I said.

Iman reached forward and touched the dashboard. The car sprang to life.

“How did you do that?”

Iman smiled, “I believe you refer to it as `shop class.’ Wanna try for yourself?” He touched the dashboard again and the car stalled.

I reached forward slowly and touched the dashboard. Nothing happened.

“Um, you might want to try it with the key,” said Iman.

I rolled my eyes and turned the key. The car sprang to life.

Iman shrugged. “We’ve all got our own way of doing things.”

I pulled out of the parking lot and stopped at a traffic light where an elderly woman was waiting to cross. Her rather large dog
took the opportunity to sniff a lamppost as if the secrets of the universe were hidden within its scent.

I sunk down in my seat a little as she looked my way. She smiled, and I sheepishly raised my hand in a subtle wave. Both of the aliens waved back with glee. The woman nodded politely and watched for the light to change.

“What does she see when she looks at you?” I asked.

“What she wants to see,” Iman explained. “Three friendly Caucasians riding in a car.”

The canine finished with his search and diverted his attention toward the car. He immediately started barking feverishly and nearly pulled the old woman down as he clamored for the car. Despite the woman’s attempts to hold him back, the dog placed his front paws on the passenger side door and began licking Iman furiously.

“Cooper!” the woman cried, “get down!”

Iman made a kissing noise as he scratched the dog behind the ears. Cooper continued to thrash his tongue about in unbridled ecstasy.

“I am so sorry,” the woman said as she struggled to pull the dog away. “He’s never done this before. He’s usually such a good boy.”

Iman emitted a short whistling sound. Cooper cocked his head and lowered all four paws onto the ground.

“He’s still a good boy,” Iman said. “There’s nothing bad about showing love.”

Cooper guided his woman back to the sidewalk, and the light changed to green.

As I proceeded through the light, I asked, “What was up with the dog?”

Iman smiled. “Dogs are more in tune with the present than humans. They don’t get caught up in all of the illusions that humans comfort themselves with. Therefore, dogs see us as we are.”

“He seemed to like you.”

“Why wouldn’t he?”

“Other than the fact that you look like an albino eggplant?”

“That’s just the way you see us.”

“You mean you really don’t look like that.”

Yewell leaned into the front seat. “Don’t assume that you don’t have your own illusions as well, Steve.”

“That’s comforting.”

“That’s why you created them,” Iman said.

“What do you mean I created them?”

“All of your concepts, the ideas that you have about what reality really consists of, are your own creation.  Remember what I said about humans only using ten percent of their mental faculties? Well, your concepts keep the percentage that low.”

“And what would happen if I were to give up those concepts?”

“Your brain would explode.”

“What?!”

“But in a good way,” added Yewell.

“How exactly can my brain explode in a good way?”

“You’d open your mind to new understanding and be able to use it in ways that you never knew possible.”

“And how do I go about doing that?”

“That’s what we intend to help you with. Turn here.”

This is an excerpt from How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. Order your copy today!

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