Dear Reno,

I know my sudden departure may come as a shock to you, but in truth, it has been a long time coming.

Since I arrived, in fact.

I ought to have told you earlier in our relationship, but I’m not the type to settle down, and no sooner do I arrive than I am already looking at the exit door. It’s a pattern I need to work on, I know. Because we started some things together. Things that when we started, I thought I was ready to commit to. A real career, a real community. I took on a lot of responsibility for our growth together, and I saw early on that I got in too deep too quickly. That happens sometimes when we meet again after a long time apart, and the new traits make even the old familiar ones exciting again.

An adage I use often: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I suppose figures of speech become so because they speak to us on many levels, sometimes eluding us with simple complexity…

Anyway…

I got in too deep too quickly, and I tried to correct for that. I noticed you notice me withdrawing, and even as I did so, I was really intending to come back with fervor, stoke the coals and grow back stronger, but, well, that just didn’t happen. And I left you hanging.

I’d like to say, Reno, that “It’s not you. It’s me.” But it is you. You left me hanging, too. I thought you’d pick up the slack in our relationship, see that the distance I was creating was for my own protection, realize that you could keep us both safe by stepping up to the challenge of taking care of your old friend. But that didn’t happen. You stayed needy, quietly, and I just couldn’t keep feeding you all I had.

Reno, you’re a Gateway place, some intersection of laylines gives you purpose. The last place between lush free Pacific and desolate, barren dystopic desert – just look at all the “Burners”, those transhuman souls desperate to re-create the excitement of cosmic life who pass through you in droves on their annual pilgrimage to the psychotic other-land of their imagination, forced by the tight white collar of this doomed culture to flip out in the opposite direction, Reno is their gateway to that land. Also between the hot south Vegas Angeles and the cool north Portland Seattle, while not a pit-stop for most, Reno, you are the fulcrum.

Even more, Reno, you are a portal between above and below, the reality of the living and the realm of the discorporeal. I meet as many disembodied beings as embodied ones, searching for the warmth of connection with another soul, able to envelop and protect them from their own limitless hunger.

Take a look at yourself, Reno: you exist as transition fixed, progress frozen at each step. You amaze me with your progressive stationaryness. A lot of people, well, they need to spend time on the threshold – from here one can look forward and backward through time, peer at the notion of the soul, obsess over sureality – until they become ready to tip the balance of their own destiny in the controlled repetitive falling of walking forward.

Reno, I’m sorry to leave you. It makes me sad.  It does. I’ll watch you from afar, and check in, but I’ll miss all the games we started that we didn’t quite finish. Or really, even quite begin.

But it isn’t you, it is me.

I am thrilled for the future! One can only stand on the precipice of destiny for so long before being drawn in. Not that I believe in destiny, necessarily, or karma, but with observation the patterns of life are undeniable. Not sitting still says something about me: I am not complacent. I am not waiting for something better to come along, I am beckoning it. And consequently, my life continually improves, quality of life gets richer, growth and learning accelerate.

When I reunited with you, Reno, it was meant to be only a short time. That short time extended, and extended some more until I didn’t know for sure when we would separate. (I hope you didn’t get too comfortable during that time – I didn’t.) So the last half a year has been borrowed time… I hope you can understand.

I’m leaving you to be with Heartwood Institute again. Heartwood is a village, a school, devoted to healing arts. My students are here and there, but my teachers are waiting for me there. Accelerated growth, deepening of practice is the hallmark of that kind of life. For all of our amazing projects, I feel stagnant where I am.

It’s time for me to move on.

It’s both of us.

Let’s try not to have a drawn out farewell. I ain’t one for no emotional goodbye…

Serve God and Mammon

Living in the city, it is very difficult to resist becoming swept up in the materialist river of the dominant culture. Some say that each person dreams the world into existence – meaning that we imagine our circumstances before they come into being – and so we can choose to live in any kind of world we desire. However, if one doesn’t *choose* to dream their desires into reality, then they unconsciously participate in the cultural dream – in our case, a nightmare of materialism, greed, and fear. A catch is that we are influenced by the psychic spheres of the people we spend our time around; even if our friends are conscious waking beings, the vast majority of urbanized humans are deeply asleep, co-creating the cultural nightmare by not actively envisioning an alternative.

So I find myself. Overly concerned about money, and thusly having money problems. Continuously wandering the detour-laden route to a potential happy place in an indistinct future paved with dollars and credit cards. Work to earn money to buy food and pay rent to have the space to do our practice (the personal work that will purify and strengthen our bodies and minds) – but somehow there’s just always some more work or more chores and the practice is ever elusive. Worse, is that the money never seems to come quickly enough, and is spent faster than it is earned, accruing debt, so the money becomes even more important, and either the quality of work goes down to earn more, or simply more hours are contributed to earning money. Finally I find myself thinking, “if I just dedicate *all* my time to work, then I’ll earn *loads* and can pay off the debt and then save and then *someday* I can quit all this and *someday* I can dedicate all my time to the practice.”

Eh, No. A step in the wrong direction.
One cannot serve both God and Mammon.
My dream is not to work part time and practice part time. No.
My dream is to be a Hacker Ninja Poet Healer. All day, every day. With or without the money.
So: Sell the junk! Give it away! Destroy the credit cards, quit the job! Go. Go out to a place where the air is clean and the food comes from the Earth (did you know that??). Sleep and wake up and practice. Cook food for others and find enough to eat.
There is no strategy. There is not a plan. And it’s frightening, because there aren’t role-models wandering the streets of Reno who I can follow and learn from. People might think I’m crazy. I might not have a working car all the time. And it’s pretty likely that I’ll be uncomfortable.
But I’m uncomfortable right now, surrounded by too much shit.
And I don’t serve Mammon.

Juxtapose

In the last week, there was a triple murder two blocks from my house (one of the victims an unborn child), my neighbor across the street was arrested by FBI agents with assault rifles (photos from my front window: mojohito.ro/images/20070…aid_Neighbor/ ), my father slipped from a ladder and broke two bones just before moving out of the house he’s owned for 17 years, and a conversation with my boss has me wondering if I’ll be invited back to work for much longer.

At the same time, I’m in a deep and mutually loving relationship with the woman of my dreams, I’m going with my family to see The Devil Makes Three perform in San Francisco soon, I ate homemade spelt-strawberry pie for breakfast, we closed on the 40 beautiful acres on Lake Oroville, and I’m inspired by a new client to pursue my (weird geeky) passion for building websites.

Where does this lead? Gratitude for this awesome privilege of life, gratitude for freedom, gratitude for health, gratitude for Earth, gratitude for abundance.

I hope that you’re experiencing awe and gratitude, too.
If you’re not, I advise you to take a good long look at why the hell not.

Deconstruct Your Problems

As I look at my problems – analyze and deconstruct suffering – it is not difficult to see that comparatively speaking my problems are minimal to nonexistant. For comparison’s sake I point out that I have not and probably never will be seriously concerned with whether or not I will have enough food to eat or be protected from the elements.

Things I consider to be issues are whether or not to upgrade my handheld computer to the latest operating system and run the risk of having my old programs not work, thus having to find new programs and configure them. Or whether I’d prefer to eat at a Mexican or Thai restaurant for dinner. Or if I really don’t want to eat more sugar that I’ll have to drive to the south end of town to buy the special sugar and dairy free frozen dessert before the shop closes.

And as I meditate on this vertigo-inducing look at the relativity of “problems”, I realize that all of these examples and more are actually indicative of something that I would consider a legitimate problem for someone in my position, and really the source of my personal suffering is that gadgets and being served and eating gross desserts really only function to distract me from accomplishing anything meaningful.

I have only one problem: I don’t spend enough time developing my spiritual life. And that I’ve created a life in which making the time for my practice is rather difficult. Because I have a job (a few jobs, actually) and material ambitions. Oh, surely I can pat myself on the back for working in a yoga studio rather than a shopping mall, but how different are they, really? (Well, the answer to that one is rather complicated, and hinges on how you – and the studio’s clients – define “yoga”.) I trade time for money, and with the money I rent a house, buy costly health food, have high-speed internet, and pay off debt. Somehow, in my awkward schedule, I find it nearly impossible to carve out more that a quarter hour to practice: meditation, taiji, bodywork, martial arts.

All the things that are most important to me are the first to be sacrificed in the name of an urban lifestyle.