Another Odd Place for a Hill

Jody Aberdeen's Official Blog

The Possibility of Kindness

SCHOOLYARD TUSSLES

Early in grade school, I started to realize that the other kids didn’t talk to me like they did each other, and I didn’t know how to react.

I have a variety of stories that I can tell about that, but the one that’s relevant to this little blurb is that as the bullying got worse,  my parents had the same solution: fight back.  Movies and TV didn’t help:  even Mr. Coriander, the seemingly wise bookshop owner from one of my favourite movies at the time, “The Neverending Story”, asks Bastian of his tormentors who’d chased him into the store, “Why don’t you just punch them in the nose?”  Bastian’s answer was the same as mine: “I don’t know.”  I had no interest in pushing back when I was pushed. I just wanted to go on with my day.

Of course, there were times I fought back. I remember clawing this one kid, Jeffrey, in the face and breaking his glasses after he pushed me down at the baseball diamond.  After some prolonged provocation, I reactively kicked another kid in the stomach right before class, somehow escaping punishment (by then, my teachers knew I was being singled out by the others, so I’m guessing they decided to look the other way).

I was bullied, but I did establish a basement level boundary to what I would tolerate.  Pushing back, though, was completely against my natural instincts. I didn’t want to fight anyone.  I just wanted everyone to get along.  The world, though, between my parents, teachers, books, films, and TV, seemed to tell me my instincts were invalid, wrong, and worst of all, unmanly.

WHAT MAKES A “REAL” MAN?

That same theme of unmanliness would return in adult life, somewhat during my long relationship and marriage, but definitely in the past four years since my divorce and singledom.  One thing I learned from the authorities – books, relationship coaches, other single buddies – is that I had to be more “manly”.  One woman I was seeing casually expressed “I want a fucking MAN, someone to take the lead, make the plan, show me how it’s done.”

How these observations landed for me looked like this:  a “real” man was a mutant combination of fighter, aggressive, dominant, wealthy, successful. A tattooed six pack badass  who looks good in three piece suit, a tall, charming alpha who’ll buy a girl flowers, take her out on the town to places she didn’t know she loved, and then fuck her brains out in the sack.

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Media images of all manner of “guy’s guys” – Tony Stark, David Beckham, Jordan Belfort, Hank Moody, pretty much the whole cast of “The Expendables” – fed the idea.  This is what women wanted.   Nowhere in these considerations were introverts, or guys with a little bit of belly flab, who weren’t driven primarily by sex, or who drove cars built in the mid-90s (if they even had cars at all). The capitalistic, consumeristic notion that what makes a good man, a man worthy of love and attraction, was all based on material manifestations combined with Neanderthal-like animal magnetism- seemed once again to run counter to my own enfranchisement in this experience.

The bottom line of all these considerations:  I had to become something other than who I was.  And it didn’t help that this led me to believe that the type of women who have qualities I prefer – beautiful, feminine, non-religious, intelligent, no bullshit, university-educated Caucasians with little interest in becoming a deferential, white picket fence hausfrau/breeder and with great interest in books, movies, geek culture, and personal development – wouldn’t go for me if I didn’t generate some of those traits.  Thanks to my experiences in Landmark, I have accessed the ability to generate those traits, but there’s always something missing.  Nowhere in these attributes was kindness.

A KINDER WORLD

Why do I talk about school aged bullying and thirtysomething dating?  These were two areas in my life in which my natural inclinations, deep down in my essence as an individual spirit, were put at issue.  Specifically, these are times when my natural desire for kindness in my environment was put at issue and at odds with what the outside world was telling me was workable and appropriate.   Kindness did not live anywhere in these contexts.

Kindness is not what modern Western culture considers a “manly” attribute, at least not on the surface.  It’s still associated with wimpiness, passivity, or – heaven forbid – the feminine (which definitely says something about how we still regard women).  In the past, I would operate in that very context and invalidate and disempower myself from going for what I want.  Not anymore.

When I stand in the possibility of kindness and a kinder world, I stand in my power.

I remember that time as a child when all I wanted was softness and lighter moments.  We call that “innocence”, a word that simultaneously draws up derision and nostalgia when it’s spoken in our culture.   But my, wasn’t that a source of pure energy all on its own, back when it was active in the experience of our day?   That time as children in which everything was a game, life was play, when we needed no reason to justify anything.  Author Whitley Strieber writes about his own extraordinary childhood experiences as a “force” in and of itself, the type of energy most of us only get glimmers of as adults, and dismissed just as quickly.   Back then, I’d posit that, aside from the odd monkey-brain outburst, kindness was every child’s natural disposition.

But if I’m here today, only weeks away from my thirty-fourth year in this body, and I can generate any way of being that I choose, then I choose to stand in the possibility of kindness.

WHAT DOES KINDNESS LOOK LIKE?

It starts in kindness to myself, being willing to set boundaries and ensure others respect them, defending them with force only when absolutely required, and cutting ties with those who fail to respect them out of respect for myself.   It means forgiving myself for mistakes and abstaining from self-punishment on behalf of someone else who has since moved on.  It means recognizing that I’m always in a learning mode, and mistakes are part of the process.

It’s compassion for the overworked service person who is obviously stressed, but continues to try to deliver a great experience for me in a coffee shop or a restaurant.

It’s a kind word for someone who is suffering, or if necessary, a firm coaching conversation for someone who is hiding from the power I see in them (“kind” doesn’t always have to equal “gentle”).  Sometimes, it’s ceasing to indulge someone in their own disempowerment when I become aware that’s what I’m doing.

Kindness is volunteering in the service of unwanted or mistreated pets, creatures who are so full of love for us humans and who are often treated with great cruelty in return, who deserve our protection and affection.
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Kindness is in sharing the same experiences that I’ve received that have given me access to these long locked-down superheroic abilities: courses like the Landmark Forum, paradigms like the Law of Attraction, or stories and songs that speak to the grandeur locked inside all human beings.

And it’s in the paraphrasing and practice of the last line of the oath that all those who pledge my Fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, must uphold: to strive in all ways to transmit the world to those who may follow after not only not less, but greater – and kinder – than it was transmitted to me.

I will never again dismiss, for myself, the transformative power of a kind word over someone’s day, or the endless ripple effect of a kind act, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.  It is in these actions, from this place, that we will move the human race forward and the world with it.  In this place of possibility, all the stories of past failures and disempowerments fall away, and the slate is wiped clean.

I am a man who stands in the possibility of kindness and stands for a kinder world.  You’re welcome to stand with me if you’d like.

The Spirit and the Machine

 At any given time, I am being one of two forms of self: the Spirit Me and the Machine Me. 

IronmanThe two do serve each other, at times forming a tenuous, uneasy alliance when the situation calls for it, usually in matters of survival. The protection that the Machine Me offers can lead to the outcome I want, but in those fields beyond battle and endurance, the Machine itself becomes the enemy of Spirit Me, and there I find the cause for all my personal development and inquiry.  I am the ghost in the machine, and I am often also the machine.  How to tell the difference is something I am still learning for myself, but I have a few ideas so far.

The Machine is an identity that assembled itself over time in response to movement through life experience.  Think of Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit from the Marvel comics and films, an appropriate metaphor given that Iron Man’s genesis was in response to a life or death situation. The Machine Me identifies threats to my life and lifestyle in various areas, mostly those that closely threaten my physical state.  If I get an angry boss or client, Machine Me fires up, ready to strategize and carry out tactical maneuvers based on those strategies (charm, apology, correction, or argument).  If I sense the impending loss of a relationship that I know will hurt, the Machine Me figures out how to stall the other person’s departure, or cajole them into submission and agreement.  If I sense constraints closing in from a game I decided to play – a personal development course that challenges me, membership in some new club that loses its luster – I will simply snap my fingers and teleport off the playing field.

All of this ensures survival.  In that way, like Iron Man, the Machine Me is a strong suit, armor that serves and protects me, but it has its limitations.  Operating within very specific parameters, the Machine Me responds to all outside happenings as a potential threat, even the ideas – especially – that would vastly expand my life.  Having been in existence for so much of my sentient life since childhood, the Machine Me operates subconsciously, beneath ordinary day-to-day cognition, coming to the surface in the form of automatic reactions to situations familiar and new.  And the Machine Me, because of its origin in reaction to past events, never forgets, even when I think I have.  In that way, every past hurt, every past loss, past pain, remains alive and active in the microcosm of the Machine Me’s memory.

Like a national security apparatus that curtails freedom within the country it serves while claiming to defend it, the Machine Meshieldhydra limits the context in which Spirit can express itself into the world. You can’t argue with the Machine directly, because it will invoke reasons that no reasonable person can debate.  Threats do exist. There are people and forces out there that intend equally real harm. There is the risk of failure and hurt in branching out beyond the security of the perimeter.  In those assertions, the Machine is correct.

The result of living solely within the Machine Me’s aegis, however, is a life of comfort and privation of what I dearly desire, but haven’t already gotten.  I can’t exceed the limitations of the Machine while relying on it for protection.  I remain safe.  And less. And lonely.

Spirit is authentic.  Spirit is the aspect of me that delights in life, that looks with wonder at the panorama of farm and acre atop the escarpment on a sunny Sunday drive.  It’s the part of me that marvels at the flavour of a woman’s tongue with the same carnal awareness as I do the scent of a gourmet meal being prepared in a fancy restaurant.  Spirit expresses into the room whenever I am grateful for the lessons I have learned and will soon experience.  It appears in the laughter at a puppy at play, the appreciation of fantastic technologies that we carry in our pockets, beyond the most whimsical musings of our ancestors.

The spirit is a quantum phenomenon in superposition, always waiting to collapse into celebration of the present moment, of just being here, and being me.  It lives in possibility, in futures of light and heat and unity.  And it fears nothing, respects no limits, and uses every opportunity it can get to birth itself into life.

How easily, then, does the very form of self that the Machine Me evolved to protect becomes its biggest threat.

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The Machine would never directly harm the Spirit.  It cannot.  What it can do instead is sabotage Spirit’s intentions to expand.

What does this sabotage look like?  The case of the flu that suddenly takes the body down just as that job interview comes up.  It shows up in the lie that you find yourself telling someone you love who tells you they only want to be friends.  It’s in the failure to pay your taxes, or balance your checkbook, or otherwise keep your life in order.  It’s in the sudden drop in your energy when a course that you’re taking tests your vulnerabilities, to the point that you convince yourself you want to leave something good.  It’s in the failure to finish what’s begun.

Whatever the manifestation, the result of the Machine’s tentacles taking hold of the wheel of your life is always the same: the conditions in your life stay as they are, or they become worse.  And you’re forced to rely more on the Machine to get by, thanks to the loss of power you experience as a result of these automatic reactions.

You’ll never see the sabotage coming, not unless you take on the inquiry of self that millions of people are now doing in various forms and disciplines.

Blaming one’s Machine self for a setback makes no sense.  It’s not as if it’s an entity outside of self.  I am that Machine Me. I’m responsible for the choices I make from that form, but I have to first be aware of that responsibility, and accept it, to be able to take it.  Often, the Machine Me’s programming and reactions are so buried that I don’t realize it’s happening until after it’s happened.  The only way to such awareness is inquiry into the self.

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One result that becomes possible from such inquiry is that the Spirit erupts from the Machine, bringing with it vulnerability, courage, completion, and daring.  Spirit will be authentic to people in life on what it expects from its relationships, sharing from the heart with abandon.  Rather than lie and cajole, Spirit has the courage and fortitude to say goodbye to those who have  declared their intentions to travel on paths that diverge from my own.  Rather than throwing up invented obstacles to getting things accomplished, Spirit will simply do the work.  Spirit will commit itself to the realization and full experience of life, and the creation of meaning with no regard for the past, minding only the information that it requires to function.

When I am my Spirit, I acquire powers to rival the greatest superheroes of story and fable.  Even still, the Machine Me will always recapture me, for it too is an aspect of my Self.  It, too, is my creation, and every subsequent capture is an opportunity to re-generate the expression of Spirit once again.  And, like any good servant, it’s always there to protect me from actual dangers when they arise.

That’s why inquiry, once begun, never stops.  Like Sisyphus, the work never ends.  Unlike Sisyphus, I can and have made it to the top of the mountain by the last light.  The satisfaction – no, the acquisition of that state of full expression, is always a temporal phenomenon, evanescent, and then gone.  The rigors and practices of inquiry provide me with the ability to return to that state of grace and possibility.

You can never get it done.  That’s why it’s not about a destination, but the climb up the mountain to the light, and the whole being you become as a result.

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The Dark Night of the Soul

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There are people that I know in my life who deserve far better than they get.

“The Dark Night of the Soul” as a term finds its origins in a 16th Century religious poem, but its applicability to times in life has far outgrown its original Christian roots.  Whether you believe in one religion, no religion, or even in spirituality at all, the term now applies to that phase or phases in one’s life when there is nothing but suffering, no relief, no explanation for why this is all happening, and no signs of hope for a dramatic turnaround (what J.R.R. Tolkien called “eucatastrophe”, the idea of last minute victory when all hope is lost).

Eucatastrophe, however, is exactly what is on the other side of all of this.  The Dark Night of the Soul is as much about confronting the conditioning that you use to deal with challenges as it is about the undeniable reality of the challenges themselves.  And you don’t have to believe in God, religion, or any kind of spirituality to experience it, even though the stream of unfortunate events may appear to move into your life with supernatural consistency.

When I say “deep seated” beliefs, I’m talking about the things that have been around since infancy, as deep as our language.  Bob Proctor once said, take a baby from Los Angeles to Beijing and raise her there, and she will grow up thinking and speaking in Mandarin without a second thought.  Immerse a child in any belief system, or any environment in which certain values and beliefs are elevated above others, then those values and beliefs will form the subconscious blueprint of what is “good” and “bad” behavior in that child’s mind.

Whenever that child does something that strays from that blueprint, he or she will feel that they’re “bad”, and then judge or punish themselves accordingly.  Depending on their temperament, those “punishments” can run the gamut of being little slaps against the wrist to brutal forms of self-flagellation.

In ultimate reality, the world has no morals or opinions.  It doesn’t agree or disagree, doesn’t judge or praise. The world doesn’t love or hate you: it “nothings” you.  The world operates under its own laws, and we live in the world, thus we are subject to those laws.  Michael Beckwith says in “The Secret”: “if you fall off a building, the law of gravity doesn’t care if you’re a good person or a bad person: you’re going to hit the ground.”

The Only Question Worth Answering

So what to make of these never-ending streams of unfortunate events?  The question contains its own answer: it’s all about what we make of them. That’s the question to answer.  The thing is, we tend to focus on another question: why is this happening?

That question is a distraction, but we’re conditioned – either by years of religious upbringing (whether we accepted the religion or not) or simply living in a society whose current secular patterns of thinking about problems were historically shaped by religion – to focus on it because we’re told that’s the question to solve, the root cause of the matter.

There are some laws, like gravity and thermodynamics, that science already understands and has mastered, and there are other laws, like attraction and intention, that are on the leading edge of understanding, and we’re still sorting out how it all works.  My secular-spiritual belief system tempts me to apply this second set of laws to answer certain questions, but because I myself am not a master, the best I can do at any given time is guess.

In the ultimate reality, “why” is a human construct, and there is never any way to answer it except by storytelling.  We make the world mean what we want it to, and meanings are utterly subjective.  That’s why you’ll very seldom find a completely satisfactory answer in the words, ideas, and ideologies of others.  Other people’s stories about why things are the way they are can only take you so far: the rest of it is your own story about why things are happening to you.

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Those stories, more often than not, will find their roots in your own subconscious blueprint about right and wrong, whether or not you consciously agree with them.  If you find yourself outside of that blueprint, you’ll know it by the way you feel: guilt, anger, frustration, fear, sadness, anxiety.

The temptation, then, is to think that the blueprint is right and you’re wrong, but that’s not always true.  Your original blueprint was not created by you, but from everyone involved in your upbringing. If your original blueprint included, for example, a religious interpretation that you were born into sin because of a origin story in that religion’s tradition, you may feel “wrong” when you try to see yourself as an inherently good person, whole and complete as you are.

The degree to which your blueprint empowers you or not is entirely dependent on the contents of that blueprint. Change the contents to meet your reality, and your blueprint suddenly serves you.  That’s the principle behind most of the personal coaching and personal development work I’ve done for myself.

That’s why the first question – what to make of these unfortunate events? – is the one to answer, the only one of the two that can be answered with any effectiveness.  And though there’s no single answer for all of the challenges you face, how you find the answers is very simple: create a story about what’s happening to you that empowers you to survive and endure.  That’s right: I’m suggesting that you make it all up.

Actually, that’s what we’re all doing anyway, only much of the time, the reasons we invent either aren’t our own, or don’t help us.  We say that God or karma or the Universe is punishing us for past things we’ve done, or that we’re cursed.  Yet arguing for your own limitations when dealing with crises does not empower you to deal with crises.  It just keeps your mindset stuck in the shit….and naturally, you continue to feel like shit, as if things are happening “to” you, rather than just “happening”.

So since you’re making up the meaning anyway, you can equally invent a story about the events that gives you the strength, the resilience, the peace, and the power to get you through them.

Events are going to happen.  We will fall out of love.  We will lose those we love. Civilizations will rise and fall.  And they will happen in their own time, not yours, no matter what else is happening in your life. Our ability to grieve and release our losses and heartbreaks fully, to endure permanent absence, to adapt and survive in a changing environment: all of them depend largely on the stories we tell ourselves about what is happening to us.

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One possible story could be that the Dark Night of the Soul is preparation, a process of destroying your old ego, burning your old blueprint, and giving you the space to create a new version of yourself independent of the past.  One day, life is shit.  The next, everything is brilliant.

And that’s where eucatastrophe, that sudden turn of positive events that Tolkien wrote about, takes place.  It’s not about the end of the events, but in the equally miraculous transformation of the way in which the events show up in your perception of them.

That’s one story.  You might tell a completely different one for yourself, you may see something here for you, you may see nothing here for you.  Take from it what you want, if at all.

I believe I create my own reality, but I can’t say for sure about others, about you. What I can say for sure about you is that you can re-create the way that you see your reality.  Just know that you are stronger than you believe yourself to be, always.

Hang in there, you’re going to be all right.

Guest Post: “Write for Money, Write for Life” by Carrie Bailey

carriebaileyMy friend and fellow wordsmith Carrie Bailey kindly offered this guest entry on Another Odd Place For A Hill.  Please visit her official blog at http://carriebaileybooks.blogspot.ca.  ***

In 2009, I started writing. As an experiment, I spent one month focusing solely on building an income as a freelance writer and brought in an average of 250 dollars per week, which I maintained for five weeks by working at least 8 hours per day. No days off. No rest.

After talking to a few established writers, I learned that it was typical for a new writer to earn between 10k and 20k per year. If you’re serious about writing, there are ways to make this happen and make this work for you.

Be real – Not realistic. No, don’t ever bother talking yourself out of your dreams. Be real. Be exactly who you are and don’t apologize for it. Most people don’t trust someone they don’t know who are clearly trying to impress them. If you’re not funny, cute, manly, feminine, wealthy or brilliant, don’t worry about it. Successful writers are more persistent than they are uniquely positioned at the head of the bell curve. However, they do tend to recognize that fine line between staying true to themselves and blindly blasting others with their insecurities and personal trivia.

Define what you want – It’s hard to think objectively when you’re feeling insecure or hungry. While this is something a lot of writers understand, but when you write for a living, like it or not, you are in business. That doesn’t always sit well with our inner artists. But, as a businessperson, you need to define your goals. Break down the steps it will take to achieve them. Research business practices. You are one.

Talk to people who are one step ahead of you – There are the people who will tell you what you really need to know and then, there are the people who will make it sound easy. The most successful writers have had a lot of time to simplify the details of their early struggles and forget the uncomfortable truths. But, the writers still running their victory laps are often ready to brag openly about the hurdles they’ve jumped. And that’s where you’ll glean the timely inside information.

Keep records – Whenever you achieve any measurable success, make a note of it. You might not remember later what tactics worked. And review your notes often. You might learn something of value in hindsight that you overlooked before.

Contact the people who pay – I know this seems obvious, but there are writers who attempt to market themselves before they target people already willing to pay for their work. This is working backwards. Write a few good posts on a topic. Offer them to different websites and publications for free. Then, generate a mad flurry of ideas and pitch them to sites that pay while offering links to your previous work. How do you find people who pay? Google. Yes, Google. That, and ask other freelance writers.

Beware the foul weather friend – Don’t worry about fair weather friends. They may be a disappointment, but not a true danger. In reality, it’s the people who love you desperately when you’re down that – more often than we care to confront – will try to keep you there. Distance yourself from people who discourage you, who don’t believe in you and above all, those who panic or just get weird when you start succeeding. Jealousy is poison. Take no more than you can cope with.

Clients as customers – If you’ve been a traditional employee, you’ve probably found release venting frustrations about your boss. It was their fault. As a writer, you are your own boss and it cannot be overstated that you need to treat everyone you work with as customers. Clients are not in charge. You are. And remember, they customer is always right, even when they’re wrong.

Make minimalism sexy – Yes, it’s both powerful and sexy to be the master of your own destiny, but it’s also good for your bottom line. Simplifying your life will ensure your survival through the hard times. It will reduce your dependence and give you more control over the things that matter. Picture one month of your life and all the things you actually need to live until the very last day. Not thrive. Just live. If you can reduce what you need to smallest amount manageable, you will always be able to keep writing.

Get paid to research – If you’re a writer, then you are by default a student of human nature and you can’t do that physically melded to your keyboard. Walk out the door and go apply for minimum wage jobs. Work part-time where you can observe people. Write for sites that pay you to review goods and services that you need.

Give them your heart in a plastic bag – You don’t have to be the most talented writer to be a financially viable one. But, it helps to understand what people really want, you know, your heart and soul. They want to expand their lives by absorbing bits of yours through your experience and your words. But even while you pour your heart into your work, remember: don’t bleed on them. Your audience does not exist to affirm you. Cultivate professionalism in your work. 

Writing is more than a job.

Writers are ready to sacrifice anything to build their business. And if that sounds like you, then go forward. Be a writer. Although the beginning may be grim and your resources meager, you have more chance of making it as an author than you do winning the lottery. That is the good news.

Now, the bad news. If you’re looking for a stable, secure and profitable venture, you’re thinking like an employee. And that won’t make you a successful writer. Think like a businessperson. There are times in our lives when we have obligations, like family, that make any business a selfish venture. The truth is that you don’t have to make a living as a writer to be a writer, but if it is the path you choose, jump on it like it’s the last train out of town. 

Guest post by Carrie Bailey 

Home is Wherever I’m With….Me?

(Transcribed from hand-written pages I wrote while seated at the Orange Cat Cafe in Lewiston, NY during the 4th of July weekend, having stayed with a friend’s family for the weekend, and feeling very much at home)

I could care a lot more about where I live, much more.  By many accounts, and for many reasons, I probably should, but I don’t.

Home isn’t just a place where we sleep and keep all of our shit.  It’s multi-faceted, a term and a concept with multiple definitions and meanings.  If not for these meanings, we’d all be living in little uniform shacks, comfortable enough, equipped for the basic biological needs, nothing more.  That, of course, isn’t where we actually live, but without added meanings, that’s what “home” provides in a purely physical sense.

Home is a status symbol, an investment, a hub for a family, a personal expression of identity, and, of course, shelter from the elements, storage for your stuff.  For some, home is more than that: the promise of a future life for a new couple; a benchmark of “success” at whatever it is you love to do; or a connection to ancestry, tradition, and country, a way of life and human experience.

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I have a quiet fascination with ruins.  I’ve thought about taking the apocalypse tour of Detroit that urban explorer troupes are now offering.  I’ve driven through the run-down areas of old Toronto, Hamilton, Buffalo, Brooklyn, and Niagara Falls.  Like most people, I’ve seen the ruins in Rome, Varanasi, Angkor Wat, and Macchu Picchu on TV and in books: places built thousands of years ago that are now occupied by peoples and cultures beyond anything the builders themselves could have imagined into existence.

I look at the gentrification of Detroit and Hamilton, how the 100 year old red-bricks that once housed stores and factories now give shelter to hipster cafes and chic restaurants that attract well-to-do suburbanites back into the downtown.

I think of fancy, white-picket fenced homes in wealthy, “Stepford Wives”-esque suburbs that we later see on the six o’clock news because the husband beat up his wife, or because cops found a meth-lab in the basement.  I think of the houses of divorce, where the definition of “family” transforms to adapt to child custody, new girlfriends and/or boyfriends, or simply something other than the nuclear family.

I’m getting carried away on this tangent.  You get the idea.  The definition of “home” is far more of a fluid reality than a fixed concept.

For much of the past year, I’ve been allowing myself to enjoy the idea of living on the road.  Buy an RV, somehow equip it with mobile Wi-Fi, and wander the land, finding odd writing jobs that pay me just enough to fill my tank and my fridge, wash my body and my clothes, and otherwise allow me to be free.

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I’ve also daydreamed about my actual stated goal: getting an apartment for myself in a city that’s central to my networks (Mississauga, in this case), a creative space of my own that is also cheap enough that I can bounce on a moment’s notice if I, say, want to travel.  Again, I would remain free from attachment to a place, while always being two hours away at most from my closest friends and family.

I’m not fully attached to either option.  I’m not entirely committed, either.  What I’m truly present to today is that who I live near, or live with, is what will compel me to inspired action.  For four years, I’ve been “homeless” inside the centre of my being, off on a great adventure of post-marital invention that is now entering its grandest state yet.  As I wrote in my last entry, whoever I find that shows up naturally along this path will most likely determine where I live.

In the back of my mind, I guess that’s why I am remaining flexible about getting out on my own, about not setting down permanent roots anywhere in particular.  As long as my living space provides the context and the instruments I need to create a life I love, the only trump card is right now in the hands of the woman I will meet along the way who changes the trajectory of the game play.

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Taken all together – the possibilities I am living into now, the woman I will meet, the tools and contexts I need to do what I want – “home” is a non-local phenomenon, not any one place, but a feeling that can exist anywhere, that lives in the air of the present moment.  I’ve yet to find one place other than my family’s home that is itself a compelling reason to stay.  I’ve yet to meet the one person who will determine that place for me, but I will.  When that happens, home will transform these ruinous old ideas of where I belong, just like the redbricks in Detroit, Buffalo, and Hamilton, just like the relics of Rome and Khmer.

When it happens, I will transform into the promise of love and belonging, and I will finally be at home in one place, rather than many.

On Being Single and Having Power

It’s funny.  Seeing the photos and headlines from World Pride Week in Toronto, I – a straight male who’s as conventional as they come –  find my thoughts drifting back to love, singlehood, marriage, and the journey I’ve had over the past 4.5 years.

Right now, in Toronto, there are literally tens of thousands of people from around the world celebrating their authentic selves and fighting for their freedom and power to love who they want.  Meanwhile, I’m here, forty minutes away,  present to the reality that one of my biggest obstacles to finding a relationship is fear of losing the power I’ve acquired from being single.

 

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The reality for me is that four-and-a-half years out of the end of my marriage, I have not been in a single romantic relationship.  I’ve not had a girlfriend.  Not one.  I’ve dated, had simple and complicated experiences with women I’ve met, but almost all of it’s been a sideshow to the greater spectacle that has been the ongoing work on Jody Aberdeen 4.0.

The thing is, as much as I have these feelings of longing for intimate connections with a woman, I’m becoming present to the fact they’re really no different than any other natural longings that crop up from time to time: hunger, thirst, rest, et cetera.

It really is only natural to want social connection of some sort, regardless of how that connection manifests.   And it’s also true that a relationship can also be a huge distraction from bigger things that I could be (and am) doing with my time and energy.  The main difference between this need and the others is that I won’t actually die if I don’t have this one met.

When Jody 3.0 was released  four-and-a-half years ago, there was one dominant fear: that I’d be alone forever, and I wouldn’t be able to take it.  I’m still not entirely comfortable with being alone at times – again, same way I can’t quite stay on a diet or go all night without getting drowsy – but I’m not terrified of it any more.  In fact, I welcome it at times because I get to re-charge, to try out new things without looking over my shoulder for the silent or loud judgements of other people.

Then I thought I was ready, over the hurt, and I dated here and there for a time, but they didn’t go anywhere.  There was something not quite there, a level of commitment to the possibility of an actual relationship that is a prerequisite to any intimate experience.  I haven’t been on an actual date in a year now.  I’ve only been on a handful of them since becoming single in 2010.  A lot of that has been because of fear of being hurt again, but stepping out of that, I find now that I care more about having the access to the ability to start a relationship than actually having the relationship.

 

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Think about it.  If you’re like me and you haven’t dated a lot, or you’re just bad at it, or otherwise not like the people we know in our lives who can find a mate the same way you and I can just pick up a carton of eggs at the grocery store, having the access to the ability is something that matters a great deal. We want to feel that it really is the case that “I can do that, I choose not to”  I want my bachelorhood to be a choice, not that I’m alone because I suck at talking to women I’m attracted to.

On top of that, I don’t want to distract myself with making finding a girlfriend a main goal.  I have too much at stake right now in my writing career, way too much.  The very fact that having a girlfriend and having the life I want show up for me as being in conflict says a lot about why, despite my confidence of the past few months, I don’t go up to women to talk as much, even if they catch my attention.  I just want to know I have the option, at any time, to just get dressed up, go out with the lads to a place with a lot of ladies, and strike up a conversation from a place of authentic power that could lead to something bigger.  I just want the access.

Or could this just be fear of hurt manifesting itself as practicality?

In any case, the main thing for me these days is that whoever I meet needs to be someone along the path I’m walking towards the goal I set myself.  Any girl who appears in my line of sight who meets my twenty criteria (yes, I have a list: what else could you expect from the author of “Convergence”?) needs to somehow contribute to that greater version of my life.  On the flip side, from her perspective, I’d also have some utility to whatever she has going on for herself.  As unromantic as it may sound, we should be useful to each other.  Otherwise, we will diminish each other.

Anyway, I suppose this is just a way of emptying my head so that tomorrow, when I do head back out in the world to build the future I’m creating for myself, I won’t get stuck in my head with all of these limiting thoughts if I do see someone that catches my interest.  This way, I can actually have a conversation and see what opens up beyond her just having a pretty face.

And for those thousands, forty minutes away to the north east, who are finding power, expression, and freedom in love, I wish them the best, and hope that for myself, I will find love that will empower me in much the same way. twinflame1

The Sweetness of Writing Nothing

I feel like writing something….anything, and to be seen writing it. Unfortunately, Starbucks is closed and I’m in my sleeping clothes, so the most I can show you at this late hour are my words.

I suppose I could go to Denny’s, but that would require changing. I suppose I could go to Denny’s as is, but trust me, you do NOT want me out in these short shorts. They’re built for comfort, not style. You want to see that much leg skin in the Brampton area at 12:31am on a Sunday-into-Monday, go to the Airport Strip. At least those legs tend to be shaved.

Er, I mean, I’m assuming they are. I’ve never been to the Airport Strip. Seriously.  For real.

Yeah….where was I?  Right. The writing part.

I’ve gotten so used to prescriptive writing on this blog that I forget that sometimes, people don’t always want to get advice. They’re just curious about what I have to say this time around, about anything. This whole idea of giving blogs and writing a purpose – really, giving anything a purpose – is more of the business side talking, a product of aligning oneself with a results-oriented culture.

Nearly two months ago, I sat down with MoMondays founder Michel Neray, just ’cause, just for coffee. The conversation turned into an idea for a blog entry about precisely this topic, one I’ve yet to complete, partly because afterwards, I decided there had to be a grand purpose to it. I’ve yet still to carve out time to make it happen and re-create the topic, and for that reason, it may not happen, because the idea itself emerged from a completely purposeless meeting. We just wanted to have coffee and chat, so having to purposefully develop an idea that was born for no reason whatsoever melts my brain a little. For now, we’ll just have to live with the reality of this tasty paradox floating around the ether.

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Recently, I re-watched “Eat Pray Love”, and the film covers that same idea: “dolce far niente”. “The sweetness of doing nothing”. All
sarcastic, smart-assed remarks about Italy’s economic powerhouse status aside, this is a way of living that we are losing more and more in North America, and we could sorely use from time to time.

Even “writing for nothing” is something that’s not quite fashionable, especially when blogging is concerned. Everyone’s worried about SEO. Everyone’s worried about word count limits, short attention spans, target audiences, etc..

When we’re wearing our businessman/woman hats, of course we should be concerned with those things. But what about just writing once in a while just to be seen by the people we already have, just for the simple validation that someone is reading our words and thus getting an insight into our souls?

The other day, I had a Facebook rant after a stupid argument with a loved one that in the end, was for nothing because the loved one in question and I reconnected after a couple of days and squared up with each other. People kindly offered me feedback, among them, my Landmark Self- Expression and Leadership Program leader Kara, who offered me this bit of advice. She said that I didn’t show up as powerful in that moment, and that I am responsible for my communication. And she’s absolutely right, my Facebook rants carry far less power and far more drama and acrid humour, depending on the context.

At that moment, though, I’d wanted to be seen for all the turmoil I was going through. Why that mattered, I have no idea.

Well, actually, no, I do have an idea. It matters because I’m a human being, and I crave the same basic level of intimate connection that almost every other human being requires to thrive in life. A girlfriend, priest, therapist, or a friend or relative could perform this function of “insight” (literally, seeing inside), but in that moment, I had no such person available to me. I could have just written it on a piece of paper, as my “Artist’s Way” book taught me to do, but that didn’t suffice. In that moment, I just wanted human connection, and social media offered it to me.

I suppose that’s a big reason why I’m writing this out tonight. Someone’s going to read this, I’m sure. Doesn’t matter who, but someone, and someone who knows me, at that.

Louis CK would probably have my ass for this post for that reason.

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The guy’s insightful as hell, as many comedians are. That’s why they make us laugh: it’s the truth that the expose that we’d rather not talk about. Louis is deep, though.

In this clip from Conan O’Brien, he talks about why he hates cell phones, and at one point, he says words to this effect: we use technology to stave off those little moments of sadness, those feelings of being alone, or that life is empty and meaningless. The end result, he says, is that “You never feel completely sad or completely happy, you just feel “kinda satisfied” with your products’, and then you die.”

On the other hand, if you just let these little sadnesses wash over you, they tend to be replaced by happy feelings, and a deeper, more profound presence to life and the now. All we have to do is just not check Facebook on our phones. Or write out meaningless blog entries, I suppose.

(And if you watched the clip, yes, I vastly exaggerated Louie’s words back there, but you get the idea).

That’s as good enough a place to stop as any. Thanks for reading, if you’ve stuck it out this far. This is where I’m at this Sunday night.

I have a lot happening, a number of big changes that I’ll be bringing about consciously, in my own life. They all require Olympic-scale focus and performance on my part to accomplish.

Every now and then, though, I want to make sure I just write because I feel like it, because some part of my spirit finds replenishment in the sweetness of doing nothing, in feeling deeply, and experiencing the joy that lies on the other side of temporary aloneness.

Night y’all.

Loss Aversion

Most mornings, after a restful sleep, I wake up and meditate for ten to fifteen minutes, calming my mind before it starts spinning up with the ideas, opinions, schedules, and tasks of the day, the ego defenses that hide my vulnerabilities under a mask of socially-acceptable bravado. Sometimes, like this morning, like the past few mornings, I wake up with my mind at full power, because I never quite fully got to sleep.

Last night, I dreamed briefly about my late grandmother, who passed in October.  Fittingly for me, it was a science-fictional dream: my family had deliberately gone back in time a few years to a New Year’s Eve party when my Grandma was still mourning the passing of her husband, my Grandpa.   I remember seeing her, knowing she was now gone in my “now”, and gave her a hug, out of the blue, no explanation.

The subconscious continues to feel loss even when the conscious mind has moved onto other things.  Whenever those feelings creep to the surface, though, they tend to manifest not as grief or sadness at past losses, but at the anxiety of losing people, stability, prosperity in the future.

Loss aversion affects my behavior, more than I want to think.

skull“Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk’s statement “it’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything” used to give me great hope, since it meant that maybe experiencing one of my greatest fears – of losing all my money, losing people I love, of finding my dream girl and then losing her – would also be a form of liberation.  That’s not how it feels in my waking life, not really.  Then again, I still have so much and so many people in my life, I suppose I prefer to hide out in pretending that what I already have will last forever.  Nothing does.

Recently, prompted by a friend’s illness, I found myself reflecting on mortality so I could learn how to be supportive, and what I found in that searching was that death denial is Western culture’s way of avoiding responsibility for full living.  We hide from death.  Much of that is due to empirical science, which for all of its benefits is still limited to experiences contained in the five senses, and to what has already been gathered.

An empirical culture believes that there is truly nothing that lingers of us afterwards, and that generates a collective fear that other, more “magical” or “spiritual” cultures do not experience.  In typical Western fashion, we hide from the reality of death and dying.

We cloak it in a youth-worshipping fashion and entertainment culture while we hide our grandparents away in nursing homes, alone, often unvisited.  We bury it in alcohol and drug addiction, in reality TV and the pursuit of material gains.

In medicine, we train doctors to view death as the ultimate failure, a  defeat, even when the pain caused by keeping someone alive is preferable to allowing them to die deliberately, absent suffering.

We do all of this because we don’t want to think about the consequences of what happens afterwards. We don’t want to face the reality that oblivion is one possible destiny, and the only one that the science that has re-made our civilization can say is certain.

Fear of loss. What’s more frightening than the idea that I won’t exist as I am when my body stops working?  Old philosophical conundrums, mind-body-soul problems.  I’m not only my body.  People have lost limbs without losing corresponding parts of their identities.

Taking the question away from intellect and into the mystical doesn’t satisfy reason, because it is, by definition, outside of reason, but it may satisfy me.  This is what Rumi did.  This is what Meister Eckhart did, William Blake, Whitman.  Their ecstatic poetry showcases a world both beyond this one and intertwined with it, in which nothing and no one is ever lost….but that doesn’t help us while we’re in these measurable bodies.

What if you were aware of the limited time frame of every person you met as you were talking to them?  What if you went into every business venture, every old reunion, with the certainty of your own death at the forefront of your awareness?  Your conversations would go very differently.

In my exploration a few weeks ago, the most courageous words that I heard came from a Canadian documentary film called “Griefwalker”, centered around palliative counselor Stephen Jenkinson, who said words to this effect:  “The dying have a job to do, and that is to set the table that will be spilled upon the moment of death, and the storytelling that ensues: that’s the feast”.

The dying have a job to do for the friends, family, and children they leave behind: that is, to show them how to die well.

In ultimate reality, we are all dying. We will all be “lost”, as individuals, as bodily creatures.  That means that the job Bucket-Listof dying well falls to all of us, because the flipside to showing everyone how to die well is that we also show them how to truly live.  That means living deeply, not just indulging in the superficial, champagne-and-bling sideshow that we think is “truly living”, which only distracts us further from our connections and therefore responsibilities to the world, to each other.  I mean living in connection, adding to the quality of life around you.

And any feeling of loss aversion – the kind of thing that keeps me from taking the risk of leaving behind security in order to see what is possible in my life if I just did “that” thing I’ve always wanted to do, or if I just said what I wanted to say to someone I loved or hated or feared – becomes empty and meaningless in the context of “I’m already always dying”.

If I die broke and homeless or surrounded by millions, I’m still dead. The material results don’t matter. Only two things matter, really: the knowledge that I took my best goddamn shot at living fully the way that I wanted to live; and that I expressed everything that I wanted to say to the people I loved while I was still alive, that I added to life.

As my ego persona starts to wake up as I finish these words, as I start to want to be light-hearted and talk about different things for the sake of easy conversation with my friends and co-workers, I want to end with one other excerpt from “Griefwalker”, in the hope that maybe something of it will carry into the experience of my day today:

“What about the people who say “I’m happy to be alive because I see that flower or that beautiful morning sun”?”

“And where does your capacity to see the flower come from? Until your ability to see the flower is rooted in the fact that it won’t always be there, and neither will you, how much of the flower do you see?”1008845_10100695787359077_353945135_o

Why I Write: “My Writing Process”

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Evidently, my friend and fellow author Michael Michaud was a great fan of tag when he was in grade school, because I find myself suddenly “it” for this assignment.

In truth, it couldn’t have come at a more serendipitous time, so to Michael, I’d like to say two things: “Thank you” and, “Are there tag backs?”

(I’m going to assume there are no tag backs, so at least two more scribblers will soon find themselves on the hunt very shortly…)

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?

Finishing what I start.  That’s what I’m doing these days, in a very broad sense.  In a more specific sense, I am completing a concept I began three years ago, a metaphysical drama called “Overlife”.  More than my first book, a sci-fi romance called “Convergence”, this one has forced me to grow and learn in order to get it to the point where I can say that completion is a possibility.  I’ve restarted it six or seven times now.  The current and final edition is also a partial merger of another idea I had that never moved with any velocity: a coming of age story featuring a character named Aelia, modeled after someone I know in real life who merits her own personage in print.

Through the endless cha-cha of two steps-forward, one step back in developing this story, I’ve come to understand what Thomas Edison famously grasped: I didn’t have seven failed attempts to finish the novel, I just found seven ways that didn’t work.  Accepting that has done wonders for my self-esteem, helping me to drop the guilt story about how it should have been done and just get it done.

HOW DOES YOUR WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

Before you go on, go freshen up your coffee.  This will be something of a long read.

Ready?  All right, here we go.

Esoterica fascinates me to no end.  Secret societies, alternate histories, UFOs, reincarnation, the afterlife: that kind of thing.  And I prefer to have a scientific explanation for things: if you come up to me and say you saw a flying saucer, my way of listening to you would be based on making sure you weren’t tripping on balls or developing cataracts.   “Overlife” is a way of reconciling the irreconcilable in my head.  I’m developing a science of the soul.  And I’m doing it in as ordinary a language and as relatable a setting as possible.

Non-science fiction and fantasy fans should get something out of my book.  Genre fans already get it: they dig big concepts, they’re always in that headspace.  I want a literary version of TV shows like LOST or Fringe, where you get very real human dramas taking place within the framework of an extraordinary, fantastical backdrop.  You know, something to give your brain a well-needed entropy break from all those hours of Real Housewives and pretty much all of FOX News.

“Overlife” is a story about a group of dead humans who call themselves the Risen: evolved spirits who maintain the form of the very last body they occupied, and who do not get pulled back into the cycle of reincarnation.  The very last life before Rising is usually tumultuous, as the man or woman spends much of his time trying to balance living like a normal person against the intense feelings and urges, impulses, crises, and anxieties of Rising.

On top of that, the pre-Risen tend to attract other pre-Risen into their lives, which just amplifies the intensity of their evolution and, in some cases, accelerates their time to die.  Once released, the Risen have dramatic powers: travel at the speed of thought, ability to move through solid objects, the subtle manipulation over physical laws.  And they can walk among the living for limited periods of time, though excessive exposure will cause them to “harden” back into their earthly forms, making them vulnerable to death and reincarnation once again.

All the while, a crisis is unfolding on the planet at the time that only a few of the living know about that threatens living and Risen alike, for both require the continued existence of planet Earth to survive.

The main drama is a four-way battle of wits set to the beat of a ticking clock as the world rushes to an unexpected ending.  The first takes place between Jacob Ruiz, a pre-Risen Internet entrepreneur who finds himself obsessed with Aelia Fiametta, a writer and painter who is herself struggling with the process of Rising.  The second is between Ethan Lee, a loyalist to the Management, the group of Risen who oversee all the new souls, and Octavia Wood, a dead friend of Jacob and Aelia and a rebel who is aligned with the forces blamed for creating the planetary crisis.

When Ethan seduces Aelia to keep her in his sphere of control, Octavia is forced to reveal herself to Jacob and the greater scheme of what is happening.  How Jacob reacts to this news and Aelia’s seduction is……something you’ll just have to read in the completed book when it’s out.

WHY DO YOU WRITE WHAT YOU DO?

cartoonjodyI like a balance of action and visuality with deep meaning and using regular person language.  As flowery as I may get sometimes, I’m not a lit-snob.  I’ve barely read any of the classics, and that’s not to say I don’t appreciate them, but my focus is just on creating stories and characters that I can relate to based in today’s world.  Maybe this comes from spending most of my twenties reading Stephen King and a lot of New Age non-fiction: simple language that carries intricate meanings and grand visions as much as anything that appears on an English course syllabus in university.  And it’s popular with the mass markets.

Also, going back to the esoterica for a moment, I also write what I do because, despite my preference for evidence, something in my gut tells me that the supernatural forces that I describe do indeed exist in real life.  This kind of writing makes me experience my own world as a far bigger place than what usually shows up during the 9 to 5 drudgery. If my words help the world show up for someone else as a far more fascinating place than they expected, mission accomplished.

HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?

Getting started is my biggest challenge.  Something like a Newtonian law applies to me getting those first words down on the screen, or even getting my ass in the chair.  Once I start,  though,  I don’t stop until the scene is done.

I write scene-by-scene, sometimes chapter by chapter, in little intense bursts, and then I stop.  I don’t outline because I like the not-knowing of where things will lead.  That being said, I do have an idea of three or four main points that the storyline has to hit so I don’t meander too far into digression.

I also can’t always write at home. I am indeed that guy you see at Starbucks with his laptop and a venti, pounding away at his hapless keyboard.  The energy of people in motion and the idea that I went out of my way to come here to write keep  me going.  And I need music: usually, I keep a YouTube window open so I can play the songs that I don’t feel like buying at that moment, but the headphones are almost always in.  That’s when I get the wordflow.

WHO’S IT?

Lucianna LiSacchi is a prolific writer and a dear friend of mine who has just finished her second novel, the coming-of-age drama “Palladia”.  She’s also the author of the erotic drama “Mommy’s Little Playgroup”, and has a science fiction concept named “Passageways” that is next in the queue.    Being fresh off the completion of a manuscript, I’m sure Luci-loo will have a lot to say about where she has been and how she works.

Amanda Lee is another great friend of mine who has just finished her debut novel “November Rain” and also boasts one of the most successful, insightful blogs I’ve seen.  It’s been a while since we’ve really chatted, so I’m curious to see what she comes up with.

Finally, Carrie Bailey, I’m sure, is chomping at the bit to say a few words about her process, having been one of my compatriots in the sci-fi genre and love of caffeine.  After spending the last year on the other side of the planet, I’d love to see how her perspective has changed since our last chats seemingly so long ago.

Guess what, ladies? Tag! You’re all it! (And no tag backs).

 

Obituary: Death of a Wordslinger

150790_10100311502658697_518129124_nHere Lies Jody Aberdeen

And by “here”, we refer to “the planet”.  We’re a little non-specific about the actual spot.  Nor can we say conclusively that he is, in fact, lying down.

No one really knows where Jody’s remains are because no one can or ever will be able to confirm his death as a physical reality.  We only know because he made a point of saying a conscious goodbye to all who knew him while he was still alive.  His last confirmed age was 70.  It gets fuzzy from there.

Not long into his last verifiable year, Jody was diagnosed with a condition common to most men his age which would have seen him spend the end of his days in treatment and seclusion.  While he was still able to travel, Jody decided to gather together all those he loved still on this side of life for one last grand weekend together.  During that last retreat, Jody met with each person gathered, said everything he needed to say, whether those words were beautiful, ugly, or anywhere in between, and opened the space for them to speak their peace.  In so doing, Jody opened a space for completion of his life.

After all had been said, after the last person had said and heard the last word, Jody stole away, unseen, in the middle of the night before the great dinner gala he had planned for those left behind.  Unremarked by anyone who knew him best, Jody boarded the sail boat he’d bought after completing his navigator’s class, and set a course over the Pacific.

Not everyone is clear where he got the idea from, but sources close to him say it was most likely from an old TV show he used to love in the mid 1990s.

tahiti1Jody’s goal was Tahiti, the fulfilment of an old gambit he had made for himself when he turned 30.  If ocean or storm claimed him in transit, it would be a good death.  If he made it and lived out his days surrounded by beaches, rum drinks, and naked French Tahitian women, it would be a better death.

Either option was preferable to the fate that his doctors would have had Jody choose: eventually being found cold in a puddle of his own waste, stuck in a hospital or his own empty house in the country.  As Jody himself once pointed out to detractors of his plan, “Naked Tahitian women, guys.  What else do I need to explain?”

Jody is survived by multitudes.  On the side of the living, he leaves behind three children, eight grandchildren, a niece and a nephew, and at least one alleged love child whose ancestry was never confirmed by DNA testing, but it makes for a more interesting story.

Most importantly though, are the thousands of lives that Jody made a personal point to touch and transform starting back at the age of 33.  He famously resolved to have powerful conversations with at least five people per week that would leave them moved and inspired to make something special out of their lives, to take a leap where they feared risk, to forgive themselves for bad things that happened in their past, and to see the greater side of themselves that he saw.  More than a few prominent figures showed up at the Last Retreat, men and women who traced the trajectories of their extraordinary lives back to one or two conversations they’d had with Jody.

While we can never know for sure how Jody feels about that, we can imagine it would give him great satisfaction to know he’d made a difference, however small.  Regardless of his other achievements – several novels that touched millions of people, some tremendous charitable projects, and his own personal life with his family – Jody often said that touching those lives was the best thing he could do outside his own writing.

On the other side of life, Jody rejoins his loving parents, his grandparents, the loves of his life, and several of his closest friends who crossed the veil before him.  Jody never adopted a religion, and instead continued along his own belief in magic and faith that science would catch up with spirituality, right up until the end of his days.

Jody Aberdeen lived with passion, lived fully-expressed and free, and created a powerful, fulfilling, and happy life for himself and everyone he was grateful to have as a loved one in his life.  He will be missed, and missed badly, by those he left behind.

(If he is indeed reading this beneath the swaying Polynesian palms, Jody, know that you did make the difference for many lives.  We won’t forget you.)

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