Hey! I’m Not Disordered After All!

I recently read that the creator of ADD revealed it to be a fictitious disease on his deathbed, and like many things on the Internet, it didn’t completely surprise me and I can’t really tell if it’s true or not. In America, we have a penchant to find a classification for everything. Because we live such busy and stressful lives, we have little time to invest in truly seeking to understand life’s little idiosyncrasies, opting instead to merely simplify something as a diagnosis, category, or stereotype so that we may get back to work and try to squeak in some time for pleasure.

The unfortunate side effect of our mad dashes for understanding are the limitations our so-called understanding puts on us. When people exhibit certain behaviors, it is seemingly much more efficient to give them a diagnosis based upon their similarities to others who have exhibited said behavior, and utilize conditioning, pharmaceuticals, psychotherapy, or other behavioral modification techniques to make those people act the way we think people should act in order to be productive members of industrial society. The problem is that much of the behavior is in response to the unhealthy and unnatural lifestyles that “normal” people have adopted in order to enable industrial society.

LADP_Small-CoverWhen I first came across the ADD explanation for why I acted the way that I acted, there was a part of me that felt somewhat damaged for having this neurological disorder, yet part of me that felt somewhat vindicated. Although my culture deemed me to be disordered, it was a condition that affected a growing percentage of the population, and for me, there was comfort knowing that I wasn’t all alone in my struggle against my mind. That there were so many people who operated like me, and that so many people who were studying “my kind” in order to help us gain a greater understanding of the anomaly was very empowering.

I read a great deal about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (although I was labeled as without the hyperactivity component), and soon found a writer who saw strength in the disorder instead of merely disease. Thom Hartmann had come up with this “Hunter in a Farmer’s World” theory, built upon the premise that humanity began as a hunting society, and though we evolved into a farming society (which has morphed into an industrial civilization) those afflicted with ADD are genetic remnants of that hunting society. Hunters have largely different skills than farmers and have a hard time adjusting to agricultural activity, therefore, when school desks are lined up like rows of corn and we are forced to remain in one place doing one thing for 40 hours a week, we tend to either get frustrated or withered.

At the time, somewhat miserable over having to chase my tail in order to carve out a career for myself so that I could continue to provide myself with food, water, and shelter in a world that seemed largely uncaring, unfeeling, and unconscious as to how their activities and attitudes affect the world around them, I reasoned that although I may be some sort of anomaly, it was a preferred state than having to endure the same, miserable reality as everybody else. Sure, I was still a bit miserable over having to do so much arbitrary activity just to survive in this supposed land of plenty, but I was thankful that my neurological mutation had kept me from being as submerged into and dependent upon the prevailing system as so many others in my generation. My disorder, with its inherent strengths, offered me a road to freedom from the greater plague of misunderstanding that afflicted so much of the world I saw.

It occurred to me that perhaps my disorder wasn’t such a thing at all. Perhaps all of these people started thinking differently because humanity, caught up in the throes of a maladjusted “civilization,” needed us to. Perhaps the disorder, through which the doctors were creating yet another industry from by way of pharmaceutically enhanced adolescents and children, was actually the rise of indigo, crystal, and rainbow children, heralding a new way of thinking so that we may establish a new way of living.

As “ADD” became a catchphrase and I had learned all that I wanted to learn about what others thought of my supposed disorder, I just sort of dismissed it and moved on with trying to find my own way by catering to the strengths of my neurological pattern more than tending to the weaknesses. As a pragmatist, I must confess that I’ve had mixed results from my own experiments, but overall, my personal prognosis has given me a generally more consistent state of peace and happiness than I was when I started my regimen of insanity control all those years ago so I must be doing something right. I continue to notice more and more people exhibiting the traits of ADD, often triggered by trying to multitask and being overstimulated. Entrenched in a civilization of increasing complexity, I think that we will continue to see more anomalies rise out of this developing culture, and though many will be inclined to try to medicate our problems away, eventually the mutation will become mainstream and what we now classify as disorderly will bring us a new world order.

In the meantime, if the American medical complex has given you a diagnosis and classified your way of being as one of the thousands of “disorders” in their Bible of psychiatry, take heart. Their limited research, devoid of the spiritual components of complete human beingness, may help you to recognize behaviors that you can change and triggers that you can avoid in order to relate to life better, and it may even help you find some unrecognized strengths. However, realize that you are much more complex than the religion of pharmacology can account for, and what they consider a disorder may just be your saving grace.

Sorry, but this film is no longer available on DVD at http://www.lifeatadifferentpace.com.

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Happy Thanksgivukkah!

thanksgivukkah_largelogo2_icontextToday marks the second convergence of Thanksgiving and the first day of Hannukah in quite awhile. The last time Hannukah fell on the last Thursday of the month, the day that Abraham Lincoln proclaimed to be celebrated as Thanksgiving in 1861, was 1888, and the next time won’t be for another 70,000 years, give or take a few centuries. Due to the rarity of the moment, I was intrigued by the alignment.

Because Jews follow their own calendar and Americans follow the Gregorian calendar (or Christian calendar), established by Pope Gregory to keep Easter aligned with the anniversary of the Council of Nicea, there is a bit of a discrepancy as to what day is what. For both of the systems, as with any system man designed to categorize and control the infinite, there are a number of exceptions built into the program to make up for their inability to perfectly align with nature. Amidst their disparate leap years and relatively fixed holidays, every now and then, just as with their belief systems, something overlaps.

For me, although I realize that both of the systems, as with all of the man-made systems we cling to, were designed to achieve some semblance of understanding about the world we inhabit, I appreciate that there are built in moments which allow us to celebrate life. I only wish that we could one day transcend our calendars and other manufactured systems of folklorish understanding in order to live in that state of celebration of community when the sun shines on every day, regardless of how we name it. Nevertheless, I am still extremely appreciative of these holy days and seek to celebrate them for all that they are worth.

This Thanksgivukkah, I am thankful for the land of milk and honey. I am thankful that life reveals herself to me every day through events which sharpen my skills as an effective and efficient human and relationships that help to define who I really am. I am thankful that, despite my fallibilities as a man-made man, designed through a convergence of culture, clay, and creativity, life continues to give me ample opportunity to learn, grow, serve, and receive through a spiraling kaleidoscope of frustration, elucidation, redemption, and grace

To list everything that I am thankful for would take more time than I have words for so I think I’ll get to just being in a state of thanks and open myself to giving as I appreciate the festival of lights that guide my way..

If Only…

943631_10151728627527726_622470837_nI am very excited to be releasing my song “If Only” on the “Noise Ordinance 4″ compilation CD and performing at the CD release party on November 23 at 4:20. As I’ve been listening to the song, which sounds amazing thanks to Sara Stovall Moone’s fiddle and the engineering of Tribe Muzic, I started thinking about what the song meant when I wrote it a dozen years ago and what it means to me now.

desolation angelsI wrote “If Only” in Guerneville, California while I was on the road writing The Rucksack Letters. The season was a two month stint working crush season at the Korbel winery during which I was camped out in an off season park just off of the Russian River, a miraculous time in my life, living in the woods with a motorcycle, a guitar, and a manual typewriter. It was where I wrote a majority of the songs for the one-day-to-be-produced CD “The Desolation of Angels,” another nod to Jack Kerouac, who was instrumental in getting me out there in the first place.

Blissed out on freedom, flow, and a well-used one hitter, it was a time of great contentment and satisfaction, but also of visions of things to come. At the time, there was a sniper in Washington DC and the US was gearing up for war after the attacks of 9/11, but in my little segment of the world, I was, as Joseph Campbell had instructed, joyfully participating in the sorrows of the world. There was this realization that, for as long as we have humans thinking that they are what their egos tell them there are, there will be largely unnecessary drama, conflict, and strife, but there will also be connection, understanding, and growth.

It is simple and largely unchallenging to get transfixed upon the shadows before us as darkness seeps from our government, our religions, and our communities, but there is wisdom in cultivating the quality which sees the light beyond so that we do not get absorbed into the shadows and think that it is all that life is. This world is a messy place, and it has always been so, from the time before the magma cooled and the water stopped sloshing around so much. Yet every bit of messiness serves as a glob on the pallet as the portrait of life is painted before us in the grandest piece of Art we will ever know.

With whatever we face in life, whatever Art is manifested from the Mind of God, it is congealed into a denser material form than the Light from which it emanates, thus all creation casts a shadow. If only it were not so, the entirety of the Universe would be made of Light. But if we judge not the shadow, and realize the brilliance of this game of manifestation called Reality, we can shift our perspective to have a much more enjoyable and participatory role in its development and realize that life can be, as it should, a pretty amazing experience.

If only we could all realize our power to do so.

 

Can Greece Help Us Redefine Economics Again?

Were we to view economics as a system of regulating actual resources instead of merely the manufactured commodity of money, we may have a chance of utilizing the science in a way that would meet the needs of the entirety of the population. However, as we have used it so inadequately to measure a resource created by a infinitesimal percentage of the population for the ultimate benefit of that miniscule minority, we find ourselves in the throws of imbalance where our resources are largely squandered in a perpetual game of slight of hand. Should the people of earth engage their ability to sincerely measure economics, the “rules of the house” established by the Greek “oikonomia,” then perhaps we can save ourselves from this seemingly unyielding instability and establish a more adequate means of meeting human needs while simultaneously serving as the caretakers of the planet we have so greatly ignored due to our obsession with the myopic system which has offered us such great disservice throughout the course of our civilizational evolution.

It is most likely no coincidence that the Greeks, who coined the phrase for our estimation of value in the world around us, were the first to fall from the ungracious grace offered by modern economics to revert to the simplicity of barter and local currencies. Although their transition into a more meager version of economics was largely forced, the struggles to find balance in their new operating system need not be so catastrophic for the rest of the watching world. It may very well be, as with all trailblazers, that the suffering endured by Greece during their emancipation from the fallibility of the world’s monetary economy may just be the sacrifice that the rest of us have been longing for as we seek the way to our own freedom.

Economics, in its most perfect sense, should not be the means through which disparity is cultivated as it is in our modern understanding of the commodity based world view and the competition that it thrives upon. If we are to look at the breadth of humanity as the brotherhood that it is, economics should be used to ensure that the needs of the entirety of humanity are met, instead of being used as a constant call toward competition culminating in the relentless outcome of “winners and losers,” “haves and have-nots.” The “rules of the house,” the true “oikonomia” that will provide for the human race, cannot be sustainably based on endless gladatorialism and the misconstrued Darwinian concept of “survival of the fittest,” for the truly fittest among us are not the strongest, but the most flexible. It will ultimately be our ability to change from what which no longer serves us that will be our greatest wealth.

What Do We Really Need?

By looking at the needs established in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy, we are able to get a greater sense of what is facing humanity, how we can utilize our resources in order to meet these needs, and assist our fellow brothers and sisters in accessing the abundance that is our birthright. Unlike his contemporaries, who studied pathologies and the nature of mental disease, Maslow’s focus was on those who were more successful at navigating the waters of good mental health and managed to create happy and fulfilling lives for themselves. In creating avenues through which a greater percentage of the population can meet their needs in order to have a more vibrant and fulfilled civilization, we are wise to follow the paths of those who have excelled rather than mire ourselves in the pitfalls of failure.

Maslow’s hierarchy has five tiers addressing the needs that humans encounter in their experience of Western civilization. First are the physiological needs of breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, and excretion. Among America’s growing homeless population, cultivated by the commodity world view which values a house for its investment potential more than its potential as a home, many of these needs are daily struggles which ensure that an increasing number of our citizens will not be able to fulfill their potential as human beings.

For those that do find food to eat and a place to sleep and use the bathroom, their struggles are further agitated as they strive for the needs of safety, such as security of body, of employment, of resources, of morality, of the family, of health, and of prosperity. Given that the vast majority of Americans are a paycheck away from having these securities stripped from them, and since morality is largely legislated and health itself has become a commodity, a huge portion of the population devotes much of their attention to meeting these needs. Again, due to the societal mismanagement of our resources and the inordinate disparity between classes, our standard operating procedures force us to dismiss an immense contribution to our economic viability because so many of them are devoted to aspiring to meet needs which are readily accessible yet held just out of reach by the complexity of the financial system and the ruse of its fundamental necessity.

hierarchy of needsFor those of us who manage to meet our physiological and safety needs, we can direct our attention toward addressing our belongingness and love needs, cultivating our friendships, family, and sexual intimacy. Finding a place and a people to which we belong, we are able to address our esteem needs, nurturing our self-esteem, bolstering our confidence, gaining a sense of achievement, thereby being respectful of others and garnering respect from others. With healthy esteem, we are able to focus on our self actualization to cultivate our own morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem-solving ability, lack of prejudice, and acceptance of facts.

If we as a society continue to operate in a way in which the majority of the population must struggle to meet the most basic of needs, how can we expect them to find belonging, to feel any sense of confidence or achievement, or to orchestrate their own self actualization? In moving forward together and realizing that we are all one human race headed in the same direction, should we actualize our unity by ensuring that our resources are managed in a way that will meet our collective needs, we will be able to grow and evolve together. Should we ignore our collective needs in deference to the game of competition that has manufactured them, we will continue to be engulfed in unmet needs.

The Merit of Raising Awareness

My nephew is a boisterous sort, freely flinging his opinions wherever he may feel inclined, and sometimes they’re actually pretty poignant and land where they are supposed to in order to trigger a necessary response. That’s the great thing about family. They can sharpen you like no one else in the world.

This particular idea that Matthew shared was on a post about homelessness in Sarasota that I’d thrown out there. He said something to the effect that what is necessary is for people to actually build shelters instead of merely building awareness. While I do find his point to be true that we as a people do need to provide shelter for people, I don’t want to disregard the merit in building awareness as well. For when we address a societal malady, it is not only what we do that is important, but the why.

As someone who does what I can to raise awareness of the issue of homelessness, I didn’t take offense to Matthew’s statement, because The Flow Factory in itself is somewhat of a self-regulating homeless shelter that has housed many people since I’ve become the primary resident. It has not brought any sense of permanency as far as a home is involved, but it doesn’t offer that for me, so I don’t really advertise it for others. Considering that we will all eventually shuffle off this mortal coil anyway, there really is no such thing as a permanent home. Nevertheless, the energy that is extended here is always one of sharing, openness, celebration, collaboration, and love, those things that I find to be the necessary components of home, for however long one resides there.

As these things are cultivated here in The Flow Factory, I get to use the results of my little lifestyle experiments as fodder for letting the rest of the world know that there is indeed another way to go about living than merely repeating the societal patterns that are not giving us the results we truly want in this grand experiment of life.

Sometimes, I get too caught up in the building of the home that I don’t always do the building of awareness, which I actually feel is the higher calling in the grand scheme of things. Because when we as a people are looking for another way, when we have grown tired of seeing the same suffering repeated over and over again as we have become mired into the routine, we need to be shown another way before we can change our direction. As a people who identify ourselves as the individual memory sets we believe ourselves to be , our awareness grows by those who move beyond the memories of “the way things have always been done” and have the courage to take the turn unnoticed by the rest of us and report back to us on the life beyond ourselves. Building awareness of needs unmet and the multiple ways the universe conspires to meet those needs when we move beyond our attachment to the known is a vital role in directing the course of civility into the civilization we are creating together.

Do We Care More For Animals Than Humans?

A recent article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune pointed out the grand lack of shelter for the growing number of men, women, and children that are becoming homeless due to the downturn in the economy and the consequences of the mortgage scams that have plagued our nation. In our town, there has been much discussion about the homeless situation, and one of my friends pointed out how willing people often are to donate to an animal shelter, but often either turn a blind eye to the plight of homeless humans are are downright loathe to help the less fortunate.
Why is it that people are so eager to help our four-legged friends, yet so unwilling to offer the same care to those of the same species? Why do we hold the people who have been victimized by our commodity-based culture in such disdain?
Perhaps it is because in this culture, we laud the merits of hard work so much that when we see someone unemployed, we attribute their lack of participation as some sort of character defect. Because each of us is pushed so hard to work so many hours and make so much money in order to be able to afford the lifestyle of materialism that is paraded before, we often take it as a personal affront to see people who are not jumping through the same hoops as us. Perhaps deep down, we are so jaded by having to do so much just to get by, that we resent those that aren’t as integrated into the system that we are forced to serve.
Perhaps the less fortunate represent to us an image of our possible future selves, and we fear that by acknowledging their plight, we may be unwittingly drawn into it ourselves. The majority of the people in this society are but a dropped paycheck away from becoming as destitute as those we now shun, and though it would make more logical sense to help them in good hope that karma will find its way back around and help us in whatever future perils we might face, we often turn away, refusing to regard them with the respect that any human being deserves, instead treating them as if they are below us, clinging blindly to our precarious position on the socio-economic ladder.
Perhaps we’ve just grown accustomed to them as poverty has been propagated throughout our civilization. The New Testament even quotes Jesus as saying that the poor would always be with us, thereby hammering into the minds of those brought up in the Judeo-Christian tradition that there is no cure for poverty, but that it will be a constant in our lives until the day we die. Of course, this tradition also singles out humankind as a special breed of creation, the first and only to have their nature born into sin.
Perhaps it is not merely the poor that we despise, but humanity itself. For so long, it has been taught that man’s natural state is rebellious, irreverent, and sinful, that we have come to deplore our entire species, as evidenced by the way that we treat each other, and even our own selves. When we see someone mired in a deplorable situation, the memory of our religiously tainted view of humanity triggers the explanation that all who suffer are getting what they deserve.
Because we have grown up in this uncivil civilization, we regard it as the way of life and find fault in those who cannot maintain adherence to the fabricated reality our culture has created around us. Is it possible for us to open our eyes to the reality that it is our culture, our faulty human developments of science and religion, that have created this plight? Must we continue to seek blame in individuals instead of finding the courage to question the system which increasingly doles out greater and greater helpings of suffering and strife while claiming to offer ease and luxury?
Perhaps one day we will realize that human beings and the relationships that are cultivated between them are more valuable than the things they create. Perhaps one day, each of us will wake up to realize what an incredible miracle each of us is. Perhaps one day, we will find the wisdom to love ourselves and expand that love outward to encompass every member of our species.
Until then, let us care for the species which share our planet with us and hope that the act of caring for another will become so desirous due to the good feelings it creates that we will have no choice but to care for all living beings.