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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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.

 

Is Samhain Still Sacred?

Some time ago, when the rituals of religion were developed around natural occurrences instead of ideology, the festival of Samhain (pronounced “sow-in”) was instituted as one of the four annual festivals to celebrate the changing seasons. In the Gaelic tradition of the northern hemisphere from which Samhain emerged, it was the end of summer, dividing the year into halves with Beltane, May 1, which has come to be known as May Day. Since Irish tradition was passed along orally until the Middle Ages, there is much speculation on the actual roots of this holiday and how it was transmogrified into what is now referred to as Halloween.

samhain61Whether the roots of the holiday are referred to as Gaelic, Celtic, or pagan, the tradition of recognizing this time of year, where the veil to the Otherworld is opened so that the spirits of the dead are free to roam the land, predate the Christian tradition of All Saint’s Day, when dead saints were honored. It is said that these spirits ranged from benevolent to mischievous, angelic to demonic, and that fruits and nuts were set out to appease and bless them as people gathered the harvest of summer and readied themselves for winter. Legend says that it was a time when people stayed close to home, often performing seances to communicate with the spirits of relatives who returned to their homes, and when they did go out, they wore their clothes inside out or went in disguise. The ruse may have been to fool the spirits or it may have been to dress like the spirits in order to get the fruits and nuts, but eventually the tradition emerged to perform tricks for the treats, both as entertainment and as emissaries of the mischievous spirits.

The holiday was also a time of fire, a time of purging, divination, and letting go of the old in order to prepare for the new. Beginning at sundown on October 31, Samhain celebration lasts until sundown on November 1, sometimes lasting for three full days. May we all participate in this day, as with each of our days, with awareness of the traditions that have shaped our world, and the conscious participation in this game of life as we seek to more readily celebrate what we have and release whatever folly may bring us harm.

Our Deepest Fear

CemeterrorUPDATEDNow that I’ve installed the Cemeterror for a third time in a new location, I get to work on the new script with the “scarefessionals” tonight. With the first installation, I wrote out a script based on the characters I had to work with. On the second installation, I decided to wait until Don set his props to see where the story will go. Believing that the third time’s a charm, I’m going to get the “scarefessionals” a bit more involved in the process this time around. After all, this is a collaborative art form.

As I looked over the characters the first time around, I thought about what made them scary. For the creepy clowns, scarecrow, and masked denizens of the dark, it wasn’t too hard. But for the ghosts and ghouls there was a different aspect that appealed to me. I think that the spectre of death is not nearly as scary as life not fully lived.

When I first considered doing Cemeterror at The Flow Factory, I considered changing the theme to focus more on this Zombie Apocalypse craze that is sweeping the nation. I think that the popularity of zombies says a lot about who we are as a people and what fears are truly gnawing away at our consciousness. For with zombies, whose attack comes with a transformation into the very thing that consumes us, existence is relegated to mindless consumption and endless wandering with no emotional connection, the very existence that many of us see being cultivated in the commodity world view around us.

I think that many of the ghosts and ghouls that inhabit the Cemeterror haunt became that way before the zombification of our society and have other fears that plague their purgatorial existence. And like the people in our real world, those fears are what propel us to do the mean and nasty things that we, and others, do. The fears of going without, of not being accepted, of not being understood, of being attacked, and of falling into all sorts of peril are often at the root of our discontent and the fulcrums of the bad decisions we make which so often only serve to help manifest the outcomes of the fears we so try to avoid.

deepest-fearAs I’ve given thought to fear during this process, I am still largely reminded of Marianne Williamson’s description of our deepest fear, and while it may not actually make it into the haunt, I hope that the essence of it will shine through. She says, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Although I’m delving into the pits of fear with this whole thing, I hope that I can shine a light in the darkness.

The Story in The Story

With each iteration of the Cemeterror maze, I have considered a new storyline. And each time I’ve taken it apart and put it back together again, that story has changed. I realize that a huge part of this attraction is the interaction with things dark and scary, all of those base emotions that haunt us and give us fear, yet I feel that humanity operates largely out of a bad relationship with those things and part of our moving forward into a reality in which we can all live in peace depends upon us coming to grips with the fears that motivate us into action and inaction so that we can have more control of how we recognize and channel the flow of abundance that waits for us beyond our emotional turmoil.

The process in itself has been such a journey. Faced with the fears of governmental repudiation, harm to others, and a burgeoning reputation as a clusterfuck specialist, I tried not to focus upon those things that would deter me from reaching my goal, but instead focused on the opportunities available to me when I sought the realm of the infinite which still existed beyond the borders of the finite. It is my hope that the Cemeterror experience will help people achieve such an understanding.

Fears-are-storiesI’ve been thinking a lot about fear these days, as it’s the emotion I need to work with in order to pull this stunt off, and I’ve come to believe that we create the majority of our fears. Through superstitions, attachments, and misunderstandings, we keep ourselves from experiencing much of the wonder of life because we are afraid of it.

Not all of our fears are bad. Some fears are healthy and work on a biological level to keep our bodies intact and continuing on in life’s sojourn. Like every other member of the animal kingdom, our deepest fear, that which propels our survival mechanisms, is the fear that our existence will end, not necessarily our complete existence, but this temporal location we have assumed as we animate these bags of organs and bones.

Even before the idea of ego comes into the mix, bringing with it the cacophony of screams, whines, and worries that squeak their way out of this emotional artifice, the simple experience of being alive, without a name, without a job, without a political affiliation, religion, or 401K, is something to be held sacred, and we fear the loss of it. Whether we fear abandoning what we know or reaching that “undiscover’d country from whose bourn no traveller returns,” there is, within each of us, a burgeoning desire for self preservation. Yet I wonder how many fears we could alleviate in our lives if we could only let go of our selves.

As the world continues to unveil itself to me, offering its morsels of creamy goodness within its sometimes hard outer shell, I notice that the more often I am able to let go of the attachments my self has created, the way things are supposed to work out, the way they are supposed to be done, the way other people should do things, the order in which things should go, and a myriad of other self-imposed limitations, the more I can release my grip on those things, the less I fear how life will happen and the more I can merely follow its flow. It’s still a conscious thrust and parlay to win this battle of wits, but I think I’m getting more adept at it as I go. Yet I think that, like many, one of the fears I still cling to is that the game will end before I finish my story.

We each have the opportunity, infinite opportunities, actually, to open ourselves up to be more than the petty creatures we often believe ourselves to be, and allow ourselves to be used by the Great Storyteller to inspire, amuse, and amaze, to be used for a greater good than self preservation and become a catalyst for a better world. The lives that we lead are the stories we tell, and whether we play a character or cultivate character, we are always a part of the greater Story. I hope my story within The Story helps more storytellers rise.

Faith vs. Beliefs

TRL-Cover-060111Beliefs are the collection of ideas we pick up on the journey of life that help us to have hope. Faith is the reason we collect them. Belief is what we learn throughout our lives, that which helps put the Greatest Mystery of the Universe into a ten-minute presentation. Faith makes us want to share it. I’ve confused the two in my younger days. Put more faith in my collected ideas than the reason I was carrying them. Basically, my beliefs took my focus off of God and onto me.

One might see this as a matter of semantics, but to accept empirical facts or even learned behavior as a basis of faith, by definition, negates faith. It is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen. It is the realization that there is no way that I can truly understand it all and still be in this much of a mess. I have faith in things I know nothing of, what I can never truly comprehend and have no reason to believe. Some of us have a pretty good idea of what we think His plan is and have put the notion of God into a format that we can more readily understand. But the true realization of God is based on pure, blind faith, not the beliefs I’ve collected. In my life, I’ve often mixed the two up.

I put my beliefs ahead of love. I focused on living a right life by focusing on my own righteousness rather than the servitude I was called for. Though the message of Jesus was to serve your fellow man – to shelter the homeless, to care for the sick, and visit the imprisoned – I just chose to tell them about how my life became so perfect through the love of Jesus and how they could go to heaven when they died. My heart was in the right place, but my focus was off.

I saw it a lot in the church. People putting so much faith in their beliefs that they became Law, that which Jesus came not to condemn but to fulfill. Nobody truly explained to me that instead of looking for ways he was going to fulfill the Law in my life, I should have been watching the example of how he pulled it off in his own. The life of servitude and unconditional love for all who crossed his path, regardless of their sins against the Law and even himself, forgiving even the ones who would accuse him and nail him to a cross, this is the life of Christ. He said he would teach us to be fishers of men so that we might be able to eat forever.

Instead, the pews have been filled with hunters, torches and pitchforks leaning in the foyer for the next witch hunt. They are shameful aggressors who sacrifice personal happiness and shared joy for the vehement disagreement about what makes one happy and what gives one joy. And in the trenches of this battlefield are the casualties of war who were just trying to find any way at all amidst a cruel world of pride-ridden jackasses who won’t plow the field because there’s too much grass.

I was one of those jackasses – more interested in the future than the moment. Caring for others by telling them what I thought they should know for eternal salvation instead of meeting their needs right now. I think it’s a prevalent condition in the church today. Instead of compassion, there is opinion. It’s a widely held opinion as most popular beliefs are, but it is still an opinion. Instead of healing, there is judgment.

 

This is an excerpt from The Rucksack Letters by Steve McAllister. Get your copy today.

9/11/01

After the devastating events of September 11, 2001, my friend Matt Corbin calls to ask for my help in writing a song in response to the catastrophe. For although the day will forever go down in infamy as a day of mourning, in a world resplendent with so many wonderful occurrences, the day also brought it’s share of joy. Through whatever trials we may go through, a change in our perspective can help us to realize the light shining through the darkness.

Nine Eleven Oh One

Sarah Jane was born that day, a bouncing, blue eyed girl

Little did she know she came the day they changed the world

Well her daddy cried and her mama smiled for their ray of joy had come

a light shone brightly in the dark on 9/11/01

 

In a little white church away from it all they stared into each others eyes

their pennies were tight but their love was rich and they pledged to share their lives

and his mama cried and her daddy smiled for their special day had come

two lonely souls became as one on nine eleven oh one

 

Bobby say by the phone with a tear in his eys, his mama glued to the TV

The planes had gone down. but there wasn’t a sound til they heard the turn of the key

and his mama cried and his daddy smiled as they showered love onto their son

Daddy came home as he promised he would on nine eleven oh one

 

Every ear within shot heard the impact, and we all felt it down to our bones

Every heart stopped for a moment, but thank God that life still goes on

 

the world was shocked and the world was torn that fateful autumn day

and we all cried out to a silent God as we tried to find our way

Though so many cried some find reason to smile, found joy when there seemed to be none

love still lifted up the earth on nine eleven oh one