I don’t know why this is, but it does seem that August is always a difficult time for me physically, mentally, and existentially. Knowing this is more than half the battle. I also know that things invariably improve dramatically for me as the year winds down. So, there it is.
At the moment, I am (obviously) figuring some things out. Getting some catharsis and looking at a generalized direction to go with career, life, and more. I’m in a good place to do that. The small ranch I am on is quiet and gives me the space to think, explore, and write. Not to mention, I like waking up and doing the chores.
I usually wake up around dawn, make coffee, then go feed the horses, feed the chickens, water the gardens, and maybe ride around the place on one of the quad wheelers. Not bad for a homeless guy, right? It’s one of those situations that just came up and I happened to be able to say yes to. That’s one of the reasons prefer to keep my options open, because when something like this comes up, I can say yes to it.
Don’t get me wrong, this is very temporary, probably two weeks at the longest and more likely a week or so. I’m just thankful to have it. Especially in August. It’s so funny, most of the truly traumatic experiences of my life have taken place during the 8th month. The universe sometimes seems to stack things up like that.
And so it goes. I’ve got several challenges ahead of me. Personal, professional, and spiritual. On the personal level, I’ve put on some weight since getting to the U.S., I want to shed those pounds. On the professional level, I really want this job in Indonesia and I need to figure out how to make my blogging more than just a hobby, and on the spiritual level, Ramadan starts very soon and I will be taking the Feeding the Spirit journey. The nice part is that I can see how these three goals line up and work together.
So yes, August is a difficult month, but in truth, the only times we ever actually learn anything are when we are suffering. I’m grateful to suffer so that I can learn not to suffer.
The Scary Arab Clowns have agreed to give me a moment to address my friends and family via here and facebook due to the increased activity on both sites and the interest this has caused.
First of all, let me say thank you for all the congratulations, warm wishes, warnings, and announcements that I am out of my mind.
Of course I’m out of my mind. What kind of a person gives up his stock options to move into a VW bus and discover what it’s like to be homeless in the middle of a Northwest Winter? What kind of anarchist joins the Marine Corps? What kind of person moves to Hawaii with $100 and no plan? What kind of person starts to get his degree at the age of 35? What kind of person buys a round trip ticket with no intention of using the return and no plan of what he will do? What kind of person smokes salvia divinorum dozens of times in an attempt to lose his mind? What kind of a person reads the bible, the koran, the tao te ching, and even the Satanic Bible and finds truth in all of them? What kind of person wants money and fame and yet hates money and fame at the same time?
I will tell you what kind of person. A person that is out of their mind. So for those of you who are worried or concerned, there is no need to be. I am just as out of my mind as I have always been and that is not likely to change.
So here I am in Morocco. I meet a girl that physically, mentally, and spiritually is the woman of my dreams. There are no illusions here, she has issues, I have issues, we both are fundamentally flawed human beings and that is okay. As you no doubt read, I had red flags rising all over the place telling me to run, to wait, to hide, to give up, to continue moving on. So did she. So does her family. So does her community. But you know what? Shit happens. And so does love.
Sometimes you meet someone and you just know. Yes there have been other people I have loved, yes I have attempted to share my life with other women, and yes, I have failed in the past. You know where I have failed? I have failed by listening to those cautions, by listening to those warnings, by allowing my fear to dictate the terms of my life. Why should we wait? Should we wait so that we aren’t completely committed to each other and we can use that and fear as an excuse to drive wedges between us? Should we wait because we don’t know each others flaws well enough? Should we wait because commitment requires time?
No. Love happens. This isn’t a fairy tale, this isn’t a story, this isn’t a movie or a film. This is life. This is my life, it is Hanane’s life, and this is also your life. Some of you reading this are shaking your head and thinking that I am delusional. Maybe, but I will tell you what, you are delusional. You are all going to die, just like me, you are not going to live forever, you are going to die and it could happen in minutes or it could happen in decades. We are all going to die. You won’t be taking those bank accounts with you, you won’t be taking your cars, your houses, your clothes, or anything else. If we are all very lucky, there is an afterlife and we will be able to take some of our loves and passions and experiences on this plane with us, but we cannot know that. We can have faith, but we cannot know.
All we can know is that all of this ends for us at some undetermined time (unless you choose to end it yourself at a predetermined time).
So, why should we wait? Should we wait to tell the people we love that we love them? Should I wait to make certain my love for Hanane is real? How long? Six months? A year? Three years? That is insanity. I’ve seen marriages where they waited and failed and I’ve seen marriages where they didn’t wait and they still succeeded. The reason my past relationships failed was because of fear and because of not being willing to commit.
I fail when I don’t commit. We all do.
So again, thank you all for your concerns. I appreciate and love you. I hope that you all take a moment to consider that death could be waiting in your driveway or kitchen or workplace and commit yourself to living your life right now. The future may never come, but the moment is here, now. Take it because it is all you have.
So here is my recent history in very brief form, the clowns want me to write a book, I think it is a good idea.
I took a week to travel around Morocco and consider whether to commit or not. Trust me a week in a country where no one really speaks your language is like ten months in a place where they do because you get time to think. I traveled alone but made some friends along the way.
I thought and thought and thought and I realized that right now, right here, I have the chance to do something wonderful. I have the chance to commit myself to a woman who has told me that if I don’t want to become Muslim, she will still love me even though her religion frowns on this, a woman who speaks better English than me, who has overcome difficulties that most of you can’t imagine, a woman who knows that I am not secretly rich and who has dreamed of starting a life with her man with nothing so they can build it together. This has also been a dream of mine. She knows that I may not ever want to return to the United States, that I have far more debt than I know how to pay back, and that life with me will be more difficult at times than if she were to marry a man from her own culture.
Her employers and friends are concerned that she has lost her mind. They are warning her that I may be an exploitive foreigner who is only trying to use her body and steal from her. They are as concerned as some of you, perhaps they are more concerned. She is loved by her friends, her family, and her students. And while I have endeavored to not put her on a pedestal, those who know her certainly have.
So I came back to her and upon seeing her, emotions flooded us both. We spent the day talking and working and of course, because this is Morocco, eating with her family. We talked about waiting and we agreed that waiting is sometimes worse than not. For a week I had been writing about my fears, my intentions, my desires, and what it is that I want from life. I want this life with her. I know this. And so, I asked her if she would consider becoming my wife. She cried and she said yes. We talked about the challenges and difficulties (and there are many…believe me) and we both said yes.
This was only the beginning. I wanted to cook dinner for her family that evening so that I could ask her father for permission to marry her. So we shopped, we found her a beautiful ring and I bought ingredients to make pizza. That night, Hanane and I made pizza and thought it was hard to get his attention away from the TV news, I finally managed to ask Selim if I could marry his daughter. He said yes. Not because I am American, not because I am rich, not because of all the negative reasons, though I admit that I am sure these things help, but because I have lived here with this family, they have seen the way we look at one another, the way we talk, and the way we interact. To those who know us or see us, there is no doubt. I hope that in looking at the few pictures I have put up on facebook, that the concerns of my friends and family are also put at ease.
The next day we bought dates and a few essentials and in the evening we hosted a small engagement party for Hanane’s family and neighbors. Not more than fifteen people but an engagement is not an off the cuff thing here. There was ceremony involved where we put the rings on each others hands, fed each other dates, gave each other milk from bowls, and finally where henna was applied to Hanane’s hands and feet and to one of my hands. The whole family danced and sang and took part and we feasted on things that everyone had brought. As you can see from the pictures, Hanane is a Princess and on the day of engagement, a Moroccan woman is a Princess. So maybe this is a fairy tale after all…
And now, we move on with life…there are no guarantees. There are difficulties in each person’s life that no one else can understand…and joys.
As to religion. I am Muslim. And there is no problem at all with the fact that I still find truth in the words of Jesus, the words of Buddha, the words of Krishnamurti, or the teachings of any faith. Why am I Muslim? For one reason only, because I submit myself to the will of God and don’t have any illusions about being in control. Someday, we can discuss the particulars in email or in person and I will be happy to clarify. But publicly here, I make my declaration that I am Muslim.
The Evil Clowns are back from shopping and I have to go now….
Vago (the artist formerly known as Chris)
I know this may seem odd, but I am on the road again. Don’t worry though, I haven’t abandoned new found love. Instead, this is a practicality. Admittedly, I have wanderlust and Hanane understands this, so while she arranges her passport and completes some English teacher trainings, I am hitting the road. Today I took taxis from her house in Sifrou to Fes and then a train to Rabat, the capital of Morocco. I am astounded by the beauty of this country. Rolling green hills with millions of little orange flowers and lush fields. Its spring, I know. The cactus that stand in the fields reveal the dry conditions of summer, but man oh man. The view from the train was spectacular. I rode first class this time and admit it was worth the extra six dollars. It was nice to be left alone and have no one trying to become my new best friend.
I’ve checked into the youth hostel near the Medina. A nice place. Since I haven’t uploaded any photos, I’ll pull some from the web for you.
So here is the deal.
Chapter 1: The Vagobond leaves all he knows and sets off on a random journey that has no set destination.
Chapter 2: Somehow he ends up in Africa, in Morocco, and he meets a shepherds daughter and they fall in love. In ten days she captures his heart. There are complications, as there always are in love, one of which is his dim prospects as a shepherd.
Chapter 3: He leaves his love to search for fame and fortune telling her he will return for her. She sets about arranging her life and they part with a kiss.
And that is where we find ourselves now. The best part of this story is that it is really happening and if you appreciate being able to watch it unfold, please either use the donate button on the left side of the page (existensis.com) to support this real life adventure or at least
click on ‘bookmark’ at the bottom of this post at existensis.com and share this on Digg, Facebook, Myspace or other social networking sites.
This is my life and it is extraordinary. Please help me to keep it going. Thanks and now we can all hope for a happily ever after to come in the future.
I, like most of the world, am hopeful and excited about the future of the United States under President Obama. Until I saw the moment he took the oath, I had a huge fear that Bush and Cheney would stage some sort of catastrophe in order to seize power and keep the United States under their control.
What a gift to have such a man in power who can inspire so much hope, not just in America but in the world. It has been said that difficult times give rise to great leaders. Indeed today, the situation in the world is dire. The economic crisis is being felt everywhere, not just in America. Everyone I meet looks to the future with at least some trepidation. And yet, in this moment, we receive this gift of a man who seems to offer us what we need more than anything in this cynical world, the ability to dream of a better future.
SAN FRANCISCO – The Apple computer was invented in a garage. Same with the Google search engine. Now, tinkerers are working at home with the basic building blocks of life itself.
Using homemade lab equipment and the wealth of scientific knowledge available online, these hobbyists are trying to create new life forms through genetic engineering — a field long dominated by Ph.D.s toiling in university and corporate laboratories.
In her San Francisco dining room lab, for example, 31-year-old computer programmer Meredith L. Patterson is trying to develop genetically altered yogurt bacteria that will glow green to signal the presence of melamine, the chemical that turned Chinese-made baby formula and pet food deadly.
“People can really work on projects for the good of humanity while learning about something they want to learn about in the process,” she said.
So far, no major gene-splicing discoveries have come out anybody’s kitchen or garage.
But critics of the movement worry that these amateurs could one day unleash an environmental or medical disaster. Defenders say the future Bill Gates of biotech could be developing a cure for cancer in the garage.
Many of these amateurs may have studied biology in college but have no advanced degrees and are not earning a living in the biotechnology field. Some proudly call themselves “biohackers” — innovators who push technological boundaries and put the spread of knowledge before profits.
In Cambridge, Mass., a group called DIYbio is setting up a community lab where the public could use chemicals and lab equipment, including a used freezer, scored for free off Craigslist, that drops to 80 degrees below zero, the temperature needed to keep many kinds of bacteria alive.
Co-founder Mackenzie Cowell, a 24-year-old who majored in biology in college, said amateurs will probably pursue serious work such as new vaccines and super-efficient biofuels, but they might also try, for example, to use squid genes to create tattoos that glow.
Cowell said such unfettered creativity could produce important discoveries.
“We should try to make science more sexy and more fun and more like a game,” he said.
Patterson, the computer programmer, wants to insert the gene for fluorescence into yogurt bacteria, applying techniques developed in the 1970s.
She learned about genetic engineering by reading scientific papers and getting tips from online forums. She ordered jellyfish DNA for a green fluorescent protein from a biological supply company for less than $100. And she built her own lab equipment, including a gel electrophoresis chamber, or DNA analyzer, which she constructed for less than $25, versus more than $200 for a low-end off-the-shelf model.
Jim Thomas of ETC Group, a biotechnology watchdog organization, warned that synthetic organisms in the hands of amateurs could escape and cause outbreaks of incurable diseases or unpredictable environmental damage.
“Once you move to people working in their garage or other informal location, there’s no safety process in place,” he said.
Some also fear that terrorists might attempt do-it-yourself genetic engineering. But Patterson said: “A terrorist doesn’t need to go to the DIYbio community. They can just enroll in their local community college.”
The electronic cigarette has arrived. I was introduced to them by my friend Aaron Baron.
Mine arrived yesterday. I bought it on ebay for $27. I used it in the library as I explained to the librarian that it wasn’t smoking at all. The manufacturers claim you can smoke them on planes, in restaurants, and everywhere. I wonder if airport security will let it through, it looks terribly suspicious I think.
Here is a slightly more expensive version from Amazon
In any event, I was able to smoke in the library! And it leaves no awful after smell. People really like to give you stink eye if they think you are smoking though.
If I would have known about these a few years ago, I could have skipped all this debt that has piled up with college. By the way, I just became a Doctor even before I got a B.A. That was fast. Templar University- Get a degree now. For Free.
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Dudeism is a belief system that teaches us that the universe wants us to take it easy. Getting all worked up over nothing goes profoundly against the laws of nature, psychology, sociology, bowling and several tropical countries. It’s about finding ways to maintain peace of mind in a world with too many ins-and-outs and strands to keep in your head. And it’s about finding ways to keep your heart light when the bastards are trying to get you down. It’s basically Taoism meets The Big Lebowski, plus a big scoop of Humanism and a sprinkling of Buddhism.
See, Dudeism is about lots of stuff. And that’s why The Dudespaper is here – to discuss our philosophies from all angles and help promote the creed as a viable Art of Living, an ethos for its time and place.
If you feel like shuffling around, why not check out the explanation of our sections, or just go straight to our latest articles.
What’s more, if you figure yourself for a Dudeist philosopher yourself and you’ve got something to share, please check out out contribute page for some suggestions and guidelines.
Thanks for stopping by.
The Dudely Lama
As most of you read this, it is perhaps, one of the most significant days of our lives (like sands through the hourglass). As I write, it is already election day in the USA, though not yet in Hawaii. Today, Americans will choose how this new century truly begins. I’ve read that most centuries don’t actually start until a few years into them and I like to think that the excess, corruption, warfare, and greed of the past eight years have been leftovers of the bloody twentieth century and now we are about to begin anew in the 2000’s.
As most of you know, I have already cast my vote and I cast it for Ralph Nader. I will probably always vote for a third party as long as the USA is held between the rock of the Democrats and the hard place of the Republicans. Without a thrid party, it is too easy to let ourselves be manipulated and exploited by the firmly entrenched powers that control the gears of the two major parties. As a Buddish sort of guy, I seek the middle path. There is a way to create the best situation for all people.
For what it’s worth, here are my politics. I think that the government has a duty to seek peace throughout the world through diplomacy, trade, and exchange. I think it should provide all of the basics to every person within it’s borders and if possible outside of its borders too. Those basics are food, shelter, medical treatment including counseling, and education. All of these things should be provided free of charge by an enlightened government. I believe that such a government has a duty to arm itself to the teeth for defense only and when the defense is not needed that it’s citizen army should be working on infrastructure, providing healthcare, teaching children, and growing food for that nation. It is my belief that with such a system in place, a great nation such as ours would be able to provide for itself without any sort of individual human income tax being necessary. Imagine if every citizen were required to serve for two years and the proceeds of that time went to paying for everything above. It would work.
And without external wars, imagine the things we could build. Imagine the solutions we could create to the problems of the world. Imagine the assistance that we could provide to other nations. We could, again, be the light of hope in the entire world.
I believe that the corporations should be charged a tax of 50% and that the goods produced by corporations should be taxed with a luxury tax that would go to support the nation they are sold in. This would encourage investing in individuals and not corporate entities.
I think individual business should be allowed to work in a completely free market and that corporations should not. A corporation is immortal and accountable to no one. An individual is mortal and accountable to many.
As to interest and credit. There is a reason that all of the major religions warn against them. I would like to see these things regulated to the point where profits were no longer possible from them. Let the altruists make loans and fund new ventures. Certainly the Gates and Buffets are a shining example of what the world could be like.
So you perhaps see my problem. I am socially liberal in that I think it is the duty of all governments to provide the basics to their people (and other people if possible) and I am fiscally a nutcase that is against interest, taxes, credit. To confuse things even more, I support a total free market economy for individuals and a 50% tax on corporations with strong controls in place to take away their multinational/immortal advantages over us regular folk.
With all of that, you can probably see why I can’t vote for McCain who is a corporation man or for Obama who supports fiscal liberality with continued taxes (and who is also a corporation man.)
I can however, vote for Nader. And I have. He is the closest thing to a middle path we have. Consider, Obama is black, McCain is white, Nader is of middle-eastern descent. Obama is Democrat, McCain is Republican, Nader is Independent.
I know this makes me the world’s sunniest optimist, but I still think Nader can win. I still think it is possible for the USA to go to the polls, see his name and go “Yeah, Nader.”
Can you imagine? Take a second, imagine a country that says…yes. We want Nader! I swear I just got tears thinking about it.
Imagine electing the best man running. Imagine electing someone who no one owns. Imagine electing a man who has dedicated his life to peace.
Now go vote America. Change the world. No matter who wins, the world changes, but how do you want it to change?