Watching Hunters

A memory from an old journal of mine…

I am sitting uncomfortably, strapped with my back to a pine, thirty-odd feet off the ground. It’s dark and cold, not yet five a.m. A periodic wind pushes the branchless length of trunk this way and that and cuts through the layers of clothing I wear. The worst part is my feet feel like ice sculptures in my boots. I can’t feel my toes.

I’m on a deer hunt, this autumn of ’91, but just as an observer. It’s bow season and I am unarmed. The men I’ve come with are spaced in hopeful stillness across several miles of night-dark Georgia forest, participants in a ritual much older than recorded time. Hunters. Predators. There is camaraderie, even when everyone is alone, frozen, quiet. Camaraderie building to beers to be shared, observations spoken, well-meant insults inflicted. But now there’s just stillness and darkness and cold.

Uncomfortable as I am, I have a thrilling sense of connectedness, an awareness of how alive I am, and how alive the woods are around me.  This place, this rural, undeveloped parcel of land, still dreams the deep dreams of wilderness, and I, not back in my bed partitioned from the earth’s breath by walls with their own vented, heated breath, am a part of those dreams. Continue reading

The Passion of the Tim

"It's just the beast in me..." --Elvis Presley, JAILHOUSE ROCK

Hiatus over.

The past couple of days were rough ones. Kate and I were getting along wonderfully again, then POW, we stumbled over some truly picayune stuff and suddenly were back in the stress zone.

Neither of us acted as well as we might have, both of us being human, but I have to lay claim to the lion’s share of the blame. I overreacted to some things, then my mind wouldn’t let me release it even as I kept trying to. Kate was visiting her family, and wanting to go be with them, and we were arguing via text. I kept saying stuff like “It’s okay, go, I want you to enjoy the time with your family,” and I was sincere…but there was a rhetorical snapping turtle in my head that would only let me sit calmly a minute or two before throwing some new antagonistic comment out and insisting I send it her way. And I would try to maintain self control and not send it, but would lose the fight. Then after some more shared friction, I’d be back to saying I didn’t want to keep her from her family.

And, I wound up damn near destroying our relationship, which we’d managed to rebuild from our earlier problems. By the time I went on “hiatus,” I felt I’d lost all hope, and was so devastated I didn’t think I’d be able to do anything positive or productive for a long time…if ever again. Continue reading

“She Stalks Starlit Wilds” (A Poem)

She stalks starlit wilds
Hot sweat slicking her skin.
Naked skin.
And under that, Blood.
Hot and Red and Lusting.
Life blood.

Her hair is a wild mane cascade
Catching the wild winds–
And scintillating stars spark and spin
In its curls.

She loves to Hunt
To Eat
To Fuck
To LIVE
Feeling her godness in her body moving
Muscle and bone and tendon
And Blood, tided to the Moon forever.

She stalks the Wild.
She hunts for Passion.
Blood. Moon.
Life.
She stalks starlit wilds.

And I dream that she is hunting
For me.

“First of May” (Song of the Week, Beltane 2011) [NSFW]

To my pagan friends, and anyone else of good will, I wish you all a happy Beltane.

I had hoped to celebrate properly this year, as in the Jonathan Coulton song below, but ’twas unfortunately not to be. I hope your day is more enjoyable.

“Wild Soul – Nature, Civilization, and the Ecological Spirit” (Now Available, Just 99¢)

 

JUST 99¢!!!

My essay “WILD SOUL – Nature, Civilization, and the Ecological Spiritis now available from Amazon as a Kindle download for 99 cents.

In the near future, it will be going up at other online venues, in other ebook formats. (If you don’t have a Kindle, you can still read Kindle books with free programs downloadable from Amazon, like Kindle for PC. I read Kindle books on my iPhone and desktop computer.)

Traditional tales across the world describe mankind’s joyful rise in a wild paradise like the Garden of Eden. But they also tell of our fall from such lives of bliss and natural grace.

Our technology, our cities, our toys, our wealth, all have done nothing to ground us as individuals or as societies. If they had, we would live in a near Utopia, rather than the reelingly chaotic and violent world-on-the-brink around us, for surely our affluence and level of comfort is greater than it has been for any people in the history of the earth.

Is Eden forever lost, or is there a way back?

Can we access that marvelous, mythic place in our souls, find a path to its joyful, natural wonders? Or have we slumbered so long in civilized ways that our vital selves are banished for the rest of time?

Can we reclaim the power of the primitive without denying ourselves the comforts and wonders of the modern world?

Exploring sources ranging from the Old Testament and Eastern mysticism, from poetry to popular fiction, from ancient fable to contemporary deep psychology, novelist Tim Byrd finds the prescription for our ills.

We need to live and love more fully, and do things that matter.

We need a renewal of a sense of sacredness towards the natural world, and intimacy with that world.

We need wild soul.

Taken By The Wind (A Personal History, Part 3): The Beard of Loneliness

When things never get better, when do you give up hope that they will?

I’m not there yet, but I’ve been on the edge of that chasm for a long time.

For most of my life, I’ve alternated between times when I have to struggle to get anything at all done, and times when I was on task, organized, and convinced I could make permanent change. Note that these have never been “manic” times, just times when I was operating closer to the norm, closer to what I should be, what I might have been had it not been ripped out of me as a child.

But those productive times are always followed by collapse. To-do lists curl and die like leaves in a fire. Lonely chapters gather virtual dust on the hard drive, awaiting fellows who’ll never show. The bed forgets what it’s like to be made. And my chin thickens with whiskers, a barometer of my efficacy in my own life because I do not want a beard.

I have one now. Continue reading

Just How Selfish WAS Jesus, Exactly?

It’s not often you see a true man of faith who’s a public figure in our culture who actually walks the walk.

Stephen Colbert is exactly that.

A devout Catholic (who actually teaches Sunday school), he not only bases his political views on principles like compassion and rationality, he’s extremely active with a long list of charities. He’s clearly a much better man than the buffoon he lampoons, Bill O’Reilly (who this week hilariously tried to one-up an atheist on his show by telling him we don’t know what causes the tides to go in and out).

Vodpod videos no longer available.

With Thanksgiving Done…

It is now acceptable to start talking about Christmas.

It is also acceptable to talk about “the holidays,” Hanukkah, the Solstice, Kwanzaa, Yule, Ashura, the New Year, December, or Thursday.

Don’t take it personally.

Taken By The Wind (A Personal History)

Okay, so here’s the deal…

I suffer from depression.

To the unenlightened out there, that means I’m moody or lazy or mopey or too sensitive or whiney. I’m none of those things. I’m not even really sad, for the most part, though after suffering this affliction pretty much all my life, there is certainly a constant hum of melancholy way back in my mind. And despair. And anger.

On the plus side, I’m 6′ tall, naturally fit, agile, and strong. The baldness that colonized my father’s head has found no home on mine. I’m blue-eyed, square-jawed, and apparently reasonably attractive. I’m highly intelligent, and can write very well. These things and others I’m grateful for.

In overwhelming opposition to those blessings, I apparently have the genetic bug that makes you vulnerable to depression. Apparently, though anyone can get depressed (usually through some sort of trauma), most people are innately capable of recovery. But when you have the gene for it, it’s harder to recover, and if you are repeatedly traumatized, the depression can settle in for good.

Kids, especially very young kids, with this neurological fuck-up are particularly susceptible. Their brains are still forming and such trauma can do permanent damage. Kids who lose a parent early or who are abused are at really high risk.

I was both. Continue reading

Frank Schaeffer: On Fundamentalism, Atheism, & American Life

A fascinating interview with Frank Schaeffer, one of the founding members of the modern religious right in America, who has since recognized the dangers inherent in the worldview he once espoused.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

The War of Art

In my advice to writers, there are two books I always recommend. One is On Writing by Stephen King, the other is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Immediately after I first read the latter, I plopped down and wrote my first novel, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, and I re-read it regularly (easy to do, as it’s a short book).

Pressfield’s deal is getting us to overcome the resistances within ourselves and just getting down to the friggin’ work. His book is a self-help book that’s really helpful and not full of homilies and crap like “You are the captain of your own ship.”

(Which a therapist once told me in what was, inevitably, our one and only session because I damn near laughed in her face).

I recently became aware of Pressfield’s blog for writers, Writing Wednesdays, and it should be required reading for anyone wanting to make it in the arts.

Here’s one gem I found there:

The Muse, if she’ll forgive me, is kind of like a mailman. She makes her rounds every day, cruising past our offices and studios and peeking in the window. Are we there at our easels? The Muse likes that. She likes to see us taking care of business. And if we’re there with our hearts breaking or tears streaming down our cheeks, all the better. The Muse says to herself, “This poor bastard is true to me; I’m gonna give him something in return for his loyalty.”

And into our heads pops the solution to Act Two, the bridge to that song we couldn’t lick, the breakthrough concept for our new philanthropic venture.

The lesson is, if you’re not at the place you do the work, at least trying to do the work, the work won’t happen. And if you are there, and getting down to business, you will discover wondrous things, gifts from the Muse, that will surprise you and enrich both you and the work itself.

But you’ve gotta be working for it to work.

“Livin’ the Lie” (aka “The Republicans’ Pants Are On Fire”)

pantsonfire_2

A Rant. I say mean things about Republicans. If you’re a Republican friend of mine, rest assured I’m not talking about you. Or at least I hope not.

The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” (Ron Suskind, NY Times, quoting a senior Bush administration official in summer 2002)

We all know that politicians lie. Left, right, up, down, didn’t have sex with that woman, Iraq was involved in 9/11, God hates the gays (except, maybe, the ones getting head from self-righteous congressmen)…liars. All of ’em, to some extent. Continue reading

It’s A Hard Knock Life (for Kev and Alice)

Now here’s something you really need to see.

A blog by Robin Burkinshaw relates the poignant ongoing tale of a homeless father and daughter trying to survive in a harsh world. But the harsh world in which they live is inside a computer, and the pair exist only in that virtual realm:

This is an experiment in playing a homeless family in The Sims 3. I created two Sims, moved them in to a place made to look like an abandoned park, removed all of their remaining money, and then attempted to help them survive without taking any job promotions or easy cash routes…

I have attempted to tell my experiences with the minimum of embellishment. Everything I describe in here is something that happened in the game. What’s more, a surprising amount of the interesting things in this story were generated by just letting go and watching the Sims’ free will and personality traits take over.

Apparently The Sims has evolved to a point in which the artificial intelligence and social dynamics systems are damned near organic. The Sims have dreams, goals, and emotions and their behavior is driven by those qualities, resulting in complex relationships and interpersonal drama.

This is Kev and his daughter Alice. They’re living on a couple of park benches, surviving on free meals from work and school, and the occasional bucket of ice cream from a neighbour’s fridge.

When you create a person in The Sims 3, you can give them personality traits that determine their behaviour. Kev is mean-spirited, quick to anger, and inappropriate. He also dislikes children, and he’s insane. He’s basically the worst Dad in the world…

His daughter Alice has a kind heart, but suffers from clumsiness and low self-esteem. With those traits, that Dad, and no money, she’s going to have a hard life.

Continue reading

The Souls of Dogs

Travis 1995-2007

Travis 1995-2007

There’s a good short piece in the Seattle Times about the ethical/emotional lives of dogs. It’s not going to provide any groundbreaking insight to anyone who has ever lived with a dog, but it’s a nice break from the usual Cartesian philosophy that animals are guided entirely by instinct and have no emotions.

One thing I was very interested to find out:

“Dogs apparently laugh,” Page said. The same brain structures show the same activity in laughing humans and in dogs that are enjoying themselves. A dog’s laugh is a rhythmic pant.

I know that pant. You naturally know it means happy, but I had no idea it’s actual laughter, physiologically speaking.

Go here to read.

The Truth about the Columbine Killers

An interesting article in the USA Today updates our knowledge about the two losers who shot up their classmates at Columbine, and puts the lie to much of the information that has been parcelled out over the years:

These are not ordinary kids who were bullied into retaliation,” psychologist Peter Langman writes in his new book, Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters. “These are not ordinary kids who played too many video games. These are not ordinary kids who just wanted to be famous. These are simply not ordinary kids. These are kids with serious psychological problems.

The whole article is quite interesting, and can be read here.