There is MORE after what you think is the end.

Photo by Author in Pawnee Grasslands, Colorado

The name of my company, MORE BELIEF, also refers to the MORE that comes after.

There is more story after the arc feels complete. There is another wave of this relationship yet to be played out. There is an ending after this happy ending. There is a beginning after this ending. There is forgiveness after this judgement. There is potential after this failure. There is empathy after this cruelty. There is more to this person beyond today's meeting. There is beauty after this destruction.

There is more than you think there is. It comes after you've already thought it was already finished. Play it out. Pay the respect it is due.

When you die, you have to come back.

Photo by Author at Venice Bienalle 2007. Artist unknown.

Life is a closed system. You can't get out.

  1. If you believe in heaven or hell, then you come back to life in heaven or hell. Great (or not). But what if you don't believe in heaven or hell?

  2. If you believe in reincarnation, then you return as another living being. But what if you don't believe in reincarnation?

  3. If you believe in only what the rational mind will allow, then your body will decay into the ground and provide nutrients for other life.

Since energy cannot be made or destroyed, the energy we have to live our lives will remain forever and ever. We are basically here to affect that energy positively or negatively. In this way, we're living in our own heaven and hell all the time, every minute, as we make decisions that cause harm or do not cause harm.

My son suggested his own solution to the mystery of death: "When I die, I will knock on everyone's door and they will die too and come with me."

Like my son, I'm not scared of dying, I'm scared of doing it alone. If everyone can't come with me, then at least everybody in the world can come and say goodbye.

Meanwhile, we have to come back!

(unless you eat a lot of preservatives—here's a daunting list— assuming your soul can't go anywhere then your body will never decay)

(oooh. Bummer, the preservative thing is an urban legend, sorry.)

Suicide by Facebook. Are we done yet?

photo by the author

I discovered it four days late—tagged in a photo with the victim singing in our band 25 years back.

The victim wrote plainly, "I am done," two confused replies added a sting of loneliness. A third comment posted four days later by the spouse furnished news of the wake and that the cause of death was suicide. 

Grief by Facebook followed. The tagged photo of me? From someone's almost immediate attempt to memorialize the victim after hearing the news. I only saw the photo and not the whole thread, and replied to it through the familiar gauze of social media's intimacy of distance—assuming the victim would be alive to hear my thoughts. Moments later, as I scrolled through the outpouring of grief from a variety of strangers and hard-remembered friends, I realized my uncanny timing. I seduced myself into the game of electronic nostalgia and discovered I was out of lives.

As the media plunders Robin William's story for every ounce of pain imaginable, I am forced to compare the two varieties of hurt torquing at my heart. We are in an era of visible invisibility. From celebrities to forgotten high school heartbreakers, we don't know where we are, and yet everyone can see us. Every butcher string we tie between every tin can in our beguiling web of connections, risks being abandoned in a bed of knots and scrap metal. I am constantly wondering if I'll ever manage to unravel it all and produce a moment of clarity—of fantastic blinding truth—before I fall prey to the slumber of connection burnout.

in an era of infinite boutique avatars and chat rooms, here's to opting for more time spent in the breathing space of others and on the plain ground. Virtual connection is amazing. But I think it is a baby step toward more expansive, ancient, intuitive connection, where silence, intimacy, nature, and solitude are the unlimited bandwidth required for transformation.

To Facebook, I want to ask, "Are we done yet? Have we learned what we came here to learn?"

You can read about Facebook's suggestions to online suicide threats here, posted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. A useful suggestion is to respond by offering the person a hotline. (1.800.273.TALK (8255). 


How to Climb Down if you're up too high

Photo by Author at Bandelier, NM

  1. Find some stairs. Ultimately a very long set of stairs outside somewhere. 
  2. Stateside, you might consider a certain set of stairs off of Dearborn in Seattle. I lived here for one glorious decade and spent countless hours walking the public stairs. They're a great place to do some going down. This image links to an amazing map of all the public stairs in Seattle. Go there.
  3. Climb down them. (Warning do not go back up).
  4. Repeat as needed (Ignore previous warning if necessary).
  5. End at bottom. Feel your feet. They should be buzzing. Remember this feeling. They are always down there ready to touch the ground.

I am not a brand

Photo of the author by author's father

In this day when every gas station has an app, every name is a URL, and every feline has a social media strategy...

I am not a brand.

Even if every idea I have seems to turn into a story that contributes to my branding, I am not a brand.

What am I? I am a story. A story, unfinished, that I haven't heard the end of yet.  I'm flesh and bone, for now, but that's pretty temporary. I'm made up of characters, plot points and climaxes. Some fictional, some real. Mostly fictional.

So. Isn't that a brand? Well, yes. But just the tip of it is my brand-identity. Most of the story I save. Most of the story is a secret. Most of my story is intimate wilderness.

My heros discuss Failure

Photo by Author: The Colliseum of the Fallen Roman Empire

From this Krista Tippet interview with Andrew Zolli: A Shift to Humility: Andrew Zolli on Resilience and Expanding the Edge of Change | On Being.

To Alan Weiss (of Million Dollar Consultant fame) as he presents the analytical side of this idea.

"If you're not failing, then you're not trying!"

I am reminded  that failure is crucial to any system, and can be experienced with a kind of openness. Recently, Brene Brown and Andrew Zolli have both waxed eloquently about the idea of "failing gracefully."

Today I spoke on the phone with a client whose startup is courting bankruptcy and acquisition at precisely the same moment. Millions of dollars are on the line. His description of failure (I had to ask) came midway through the conversation. Earlier he had been discussing tactics for how to court a potential acquisition. Neither time did he falter, but his voice sounded softer when discussing failure. Resignation mixed with fear.

There's something about failure that unifies us where success separates. Can we fuse failure with success in the future?

How to believe in the end times

Photo by Author of a Squirrel skull in rural Colorado

As my company is called More Belief, I like to track what is being said in the world of "believing"

A fascinating poll (here) from the Christian Point of View. I say let the Christians have their end times. My hope is that perhaps maybe it will end the version of Christianity fixated on blind faith and damnation.

What comes after that. I'm curious.  Zombie stories are too easy. Even if the Walking Dead is supposed to be great.

My understanding is that the holiest will be swept away to heaven while the sinners will be essentially torched in hell for eternity. But where is heaven? And what is hell? They both might be on earth. At any given point, we're living in a state of denial and causing our own hell. We could also be awakening as individuals and creating our own heaven right here on earth. 

How to shoot somebody who outdrew you

photo by author of his son (3 years earlier)

I knew he was trying to get my goat by shooting me with another stick—pretending it shot rocks, and filling the lawn with river stones for the lawn-mower—but I'd maxed out on imaginary gun-shot wounds for the day. I lost my cool. He cried when I tore the stick painfully and righteously from his hands. I went to cool down in the kitchen. Ten minutes later, he opened the screen door and laid it out for me like this:

"Papa, it's way worse to hurt somebody than to shoot them with an imaginary gun."

He's my teacher. All children are our teachers, but he's mine specifically. He's telling me to turn around my stories. Instead of acting out impulses towards my childhood bullies that have long since forgotten our disagreements, I must re-invent my memories. Replace them with stories of my own resilience and courage in the face of humiliation. Move on, find the compassion that salves all that pain, so I don't take it out on my son. His bullets are only imagined. I'm the one making them real.

Like Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. "All I ever learned from love is how to shoot somebody who out drew you."

In other words, "drop your bitterness, or lose the ones you love."

Wading the shallow waters of the dabbler

I named my company More Belief so that I could believe in something more than what I am able to perceive in any given moment. So that I am able to believe there is more than I will see in my lifetime. So that I acknowledge the work before me and the work that will come after. It is a frame around my own life, and an admission that I will never fully see what is in that frame.

I spent the day at a major networking event and as the final reception approached, I had to cling to a hope that everyone had felt as desperately lonely as I did, and that everyone else was also trying to prove—some more credentialed than others—that we were part of something truly important and solid. 

I left thinking maybe it is my work to notice this. That I enter a realm, reflect it—adjust it on the unconscious level with humor, mindfulness, or candor—and then leave. This experience, repeated time and again is fickle, ungrounded, sloppy. But it is the genuine, messy stuff of intuition. I am a dabbler out of fashion. The jester, fool, witch, or trickster of another time. The unapprenticed shaman.

The graphic on my business card. My logo. The words, MORE BELIEF hover above a thin red line. This is the line I will not cross, it is the thread that connects everything to something else, it is the horizon I cannot see over, it is the ground I may never settle down enough to land on, it is the space of the unknown. As I left it today on a cocktail table for someone to come across, I saw how it expresses everything I need it to say: "There is an invisible world, and we're living in it." (thanks again, Bill Viola).

Edwin Land on hacking back from the fantasy to find reality

You always start with a fantasy. Part of the fantasy technique is to visualize something as perfect. Then with experiments you work back from the fantasy to reality, hacking away at the components. ~Edwin Land

This quote came from my brother today after a long talk about launching More Belief.

His questions are always so good and so discerning, but for once, facing my brother's line of questioning, I wasn't left stumped.

Ironically, his final note of caution: Don't over think! Am I overthinking? Are you? 

Stop thinking! NOW!

Laurie Phillips asks: What will it cost you not to fix your problem?

A public artist and life-coach, but so much more than that. My first introduction to Laurie Phillips reminds me of where I hope I'm going. A life of dedicated seeking combined with action. She asks three simple questions:

What is the problem? What if it were solved? If you don't fix it, what will it cost you?

Our anxieties can torment us even though we often don't tend to study them very closely. It's as if anxiety is a kind of trauma we've never had. Kind of like a Pre-Traumatic Stress. Friedemann Schaub approaches anxiety this way in his book The Fear and Anxiety Solution. Play it out. Spend some time stalking the fear. Anxiety can go away, even if the situation doesn't change much.

After chatting some more about this, Laurie says, plainly:

We learn by contrast. We don't know cold until we feel hot.

Last gem today: nobody has a problem that isn't one of these: 

Health, Relationships, Finances

We're motivated by our problems. We're saved by our existing capacities to notice them. But it's always a spiritual solution.

 

Men are Limited

This is not news to women, nor is it exclusive to men, but it must be said out loud sometimes.

Men are limited.

The highest any man has ever jumped is a hair over eight feet. And while I am amazed that Javier Sotomayor managed to do this, it's only eight feet.

There are no Million Dollar Men; there are no Jason Bournes; there are no James Bonds. In fact the closest thing we have to any of these characters are war criminals or psychopaths or both. See this Mother Jones article about the 62 mass killings America has witnessed since 1982 committed by 44 men and 1 woman.

So do men suck? They don't, they are limited. I am limited. But we are taught to be strong yet gentle, wise yet foolish, powerful yet meek, free yet stable, proud yet humble.

There are many paradoxes faced by women too. Men are catching up trying to identify their own.

We are a limited species living in a culture that believes in doing more than we can. Let's confess that we are human (and maybe stop producing war criminals and psychopaths too). At the very least, let's slow down and relate.

 

 

Easy & Simple Quick start guide to worry free child-rearing

TaiChi Baby -Timothy Foss

  1. Identify the baby.
  2. Be sure it is not yourself.
  3. Be sure it is not your spouse.
  4. If you feel it is yourself, ask your spouse to hold you like a baby sometimes.
  5. Become lonely. Being a grown up is lonely. Repeat 4 as needed.
  6. Be good. Mostly to yourself. Fail and start over.
  7. Provide everything to the baby that it needs. 
  8. Teach the baby which feelings accompany which actions. Do not judge. Teach.
  9. Do not shame the baby as it grows up.
  10. If you do. Be ashamed. Not all shame is toxic. Repair yourself. 
  11. Let the pain of shame remind you that you are trying to be better.  
  12. Adjust yourself. Try not to become numb. Try something different. Notice everything. 
  13. Around age 18, Send baby into world.

How I use earplugs to practice clairaudience


photo by author of Author's Truth ear

  1. Are you clairaudient? Do your ears ring? Do you know truth intuitively when you hear it? 
  2. Always carry a pair of foam earplugs in your pockets—one in the left, one in the right. These are my favorite earplugs. 
  3. Determine which of your ears hears the truth. For me, my right ear is more sensitive to loud noises. Plug that ear often. Protect it from noise pollution. Maintain its sensitivity.
  4. Now. Listen for the truth. For me, it's like an agitation all over my body when I feel I'm listening to something inauthentic. My chest gets tight. I feel panicked that I've somehow caused a bad interaction. It could be different for you.
  5. Learn to track this feeling. Don't blame yourself for it. Use it for good.
  6. When you can't make a decision, find a moment. Use both earplugs and listen inward. Sometimes you'll hear a clear voice. Sometimes just focus on the ringing, and you'll feel an answer arise. 
  7. Occasionally, take the time to replace these earplugs with fresh ones. This keeps the truth fresh.
  8. Thank your old plugs for their help.

Force a gift on the wrong person. A thinly veiled autobiography.

 

  1. Establish a connection with new colleague, ____, ideally because he invited you to lunch at a Mexican place off the beaten track.

  2. Arrive late at proposed meeting place, but text ahead.

  3. Catch up on life. Be grateful for the common friendship you share.

  4. Remind yourself that _____ is no better than you are.

  5. Struggle to tell _____ the real story of who you are even though you try to tell him the story you suspect he wants if he's to hire you.

  6. A week later, connect with _____'s colleagues over another lunch in your honor he also buys.

  7. Arrive late on the bus, text ahead.

  8. Listen to _____ introduce you to his brilliant colleagues as a cartoonist who needs to get out more, so you feel foolish.

  9. Amaze yourself as you manage to engage in good conversation with people doing things you know very little about.

  10. Allow your voice to be quiet and shaky. Remind yourself that this is compassion at work.

  11. Be grateful later for a private moment with _____ where you can "dig deeper" into how he might find your work valuable.

  12. Call back in a week to close the sale as _____ tries to tell you he doesn't need your help because your work is too existential and his work is actually taking off the way it is.

  13. Awkwardly shift gears and offer _____ a listening ear about his personal life.

  14. Listen to him say it was a loving gesture, but feel the sting when he accuses you of putting him on the couch.

  15. Three silent weeks later, listen to the trusted friend who introduced you share the story of how he and _____ ask each other "What was that?" When referring to their shared experiences of trying to work with you professionally.

  16. Go home and cook dinner for your family with earplugs in so you don't have to engage.

  17. Lose sleep that night.

  18. The next day, connect with an amazing new client who reminds you of this quote:

"When someone tells me "no," it doesn't mean I can't do it, it simply means I can't do it with them."  -Karen E. Quinones Miller

Reconnecting with a Dis-organized 4 Year Old

What you will need: A set of earplugs, one 4-year old, throwable toy objects, a stud finder, a drill, an eye hook, a sky chair, a ceiling

  1. Put an earplugs in ears.

  2. Move slowly away from flying toy objects and screaming. Try not to draw attention to yourself as this may entice the subject.

  3. Quickly, use a studfinder to locate a floor joist in your basement ceiling.

  4. Still moving efficiently, use your drill to drive a pilot hole in this ceiling.

  5. Screw in a 5/8" eye hook or larger.

  6. Hang a sky chair from your ceiling.

  7. Again, without drawing too much attention to yourself, sit down slowly, and begin swinging casually as if relaxed.

  8. Relax.

  9. Once your pre-schooler notices, welcome him or her onto your lap for a snuggle.

 

Creating a child. A simple step by step guide.

 

  1. Find a partner. This partner may be temporary but is ideally longterm and an astronaut.

  2. From your shared supply of xx chromosomes, select an x.

  3. From your shared supply of xy chromosomes, select an x or y (Note: choose carefully).

  4. Using preferred fertizilation device (penis need not be present—video here), introduce your 2 chromosomes in a birth canal or petri dish.

  5. Transfer to a womb for gestation.

  6. Read Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow (last chance).

  7. Deliver a baby.

  8. While mostly in a grey fog, access all of your life wisdom to raise baby to become a healthy, compassionate, adult astronaut.

  9. Start over every day.

  10. Get back what you put in.

 

 

Make a Self-Help Book with a friend. A thinly veiled autobiography.

 

  1. Since your wife has the bus pass, raid the laundry quarters.

  2. Arrive late at proposed meeting place.

  3. Do not try to catch up on life. Jump right in.

  4. Instruct your friend to take off his shoes, put in the earplugs, put on a blindfold, and stand on the throw rug. Call this a Sensory Deprivation Brainstorm.

  5. Prepare audio equipment. Record everything.

  6. Say, "Okay, Go"

  7. Draw sketch notes for 10 mintues as he talks. (Insert sketch notes here)

  8. Then make friend stand on head and say it another way again.

  9. Discover your topic.

  10. Go home, close the door, and write the book.

Okay, Go.