Let 2018 Be the Year

A somber and sober New Year’s reflection on the increasing cynicism this last year of chaos and conformity has wrought.



Like the rest of you who remain tethered to glowing screens, this year has left me feeling constantly frayed. And like many others, my view of the internet, with its once attendant optimism for the future, has grown increasingly cynical.

I’ve been busy, of course, but peeling away that inevitable excuse, there’s also this to point to for my reticence in writing.

To write, to really write, is to break momentarily free from all that has come before to forge a pathway into the heart of darkness. To rediscover and lay bare the ancient byways that were already there.

But really, we — I — should have known better. Nothing is ever truly proffered for free. Every time we log into a browser, tap into an app, and affix our gaze onto a screen, our every click and swipe and clack of a key is harvested and mined for every last life drop of data. As William S. Burroughs, a professional junkie who would know, once said:

Beware of whores who say they don’t want money. The hell they don’t. What they mean is that they want more money; much more.

It all seems so banal, at first. But what a Faustian bargain it is. We grow not only reliant upon these ephemeral feeds, but addicted. The declension from creator to consumer occurs so subtly that we can almost convince ourselves that we are still creative gods as we color in prescribed, personalized templates administered to us in a drip line from the inner algorithms of a Forbidden City.

Those who control the data, who can mine them for patterns that will narrow the probabilistic outcomes for any given successive moments of time, grow stronger with every reinvestment of attention that we bestow within their encircled domains.

Yet here I am, freely spilling my branded pixels forth onto this particular platform which will be willingly disseminated via instant post grams in the hope that it may gain a stranger’s fleeting approval. So I keep clicking, and feeding, and posturing.

I — we — must still hope for something redemptive. Some Neo love Jesus transmutation that will imbue the raw bestiality of humanity with some kind of higher purpose and meaning.

But I know, we know, you know

that the greatest of power and riches lies within.

However trite, this is a diamond truth forged by star song. So long as this is kept just beyond immediate attention, we fumble in bonds.

Let 2018 be the year in which you and I and we dig closer to the inner flame for longer periods of time for a greater amount of good.

Maintaining My Equilibrium

I’ve been neglecting this blog even more of late, since I’ve been dedicating a lot of energy and attention–the little that remains at the end of most days–to my professional blog, Schools as Ecosystems. Unfortunately, my personal life in general has taken a big backseat to my professional life, and I can sense my creative capacity withering as a result.

In one way, I like losing myself in my work. It keeps me positive, focused, and motivated. I’ve been making some great connections with like-minded people. But I also feel that there is a danger in losing my sense of self and keeping myself grounded and focused on the bigger picture.

The bigger picture is god or nothing or all-is-one or whatever moniker we can come up with to rationally address something wholly irrational.

One way I’ve been trying to maintain my centeredness is through daily meditation. I get up at 5 and sit for 20 – 30 minutes, and this helps me to prepare for the stressful day that ensues.

But for most of my life, writing has been a necessary form of self-therapy, an outlet for catharsis, reflection, and discovery. In some senses, my professional writing performs these functions, but as excited as I am by my nerdy quest to create a new lens for education reform, the reality is that I need to write–just to write–to focus within and shed, or transmute, some of the psychic detritus of my daily existence, and to keep myself rooted.

To face the void that sits before me, the blank screen, and to charge myself with scribing words across that vast space, is a terrifying thing. It is belittling, it is demeaning, to sit and stare, fingering keys and knowing that nothing I could possibly ever say will be good enough, complete enough, to encompass the utter magnitude of one moment entire. Perhaps the proper word is humbling. This is why, I’m sure, my ego rears and kicks and strains to be elsewhere, anywhere, captivated in mindless consumption, reading Twitter, watching a show on TV. It takes humility to recognize in written form the great nothingness that is one self. To know that one self is nothing except as a part and parcel of one whole–that any accomplishment that one could possibly achieve is a mere subsidiary of a stream that is falling headlong into itself to realize itself as the ocean. Eventually, however, words must be chosen and strewn across the screen. And in the breadth of a sentence, perhaps, a glimmer, a sheen, a reflectant hue of the truth may lie. One can only hope.

It is the rush of words, the passionate night embrace of a drunken beauty that all too often ends solely in lonely morning, that drives the written dirge. The swelling of the tongue, the Dostoevskyian splay in the struggle to voice an ideal, the Wintersonian sexing of a passion for what can never fully be captured–it is this bloody, full-throated play that compels my quest to wrestle the unknown into this, ullage of words.

I will return to this space to spackle some more of my life here again. Because it is of necessity that writing occurs.

Buddha Nature

In order to write something, anything, my mind strives for some overarching purpose. But what is the overarching purpose of my life? Could this be defined? And if it could be defined, would it be worth writing?

It is better, perhaps, for me to recognize that writing itself, like life itself, is purpose enough, worth enough, to enact for it’s own sake – for my own sake – here within this very moment of being. I can write, so I will. I am alive, so I must live.

Writing is an act of transcribing waves of thought into the structured symbols our ancestors developed to amplify their minds. Through this amplification, they – and all their subsequent generations to the point of me at this point of now – enabled this text that sits directly before you on your phone or your tablet or your laptop or your desktop monitor, ferrying this current of my thought to you.

There are so many ways to amplify our minds in this day and age – due only to become ever more exponentially electrified – that it bears questioning as to what occurs when there is much amplification of little mind? Springing from that visualization (big waves circling outwards from a small pebble) comes the possible insight that the eventual zenith of all of this streamlined jetsam and flotsam is no mind. No mind as the end game of much effort applied towards mind amplification. This sounds koan enough that there must be some truth to it.

And as Meta as all of that sounded, it really is just an outgrowth of the overarching purpose from which this thought flow had begun, which of course could not be uncovered until I had allowed it to unfold without consciously steering myself to it. I commenced writing here on this post in order to calm my mind, which was preventing me from achieving the “no mind” of sleep. And in allowing myself to tap, however superficially, into the wellspring of my existence within the here and now, which is being for the sake of being, via writing for the sake of writing, I have found a sort of quietitude that will hopefully allow me to slip into the cover of my dreams. Buenas noches.

Unlocking Wilderness

We tend to lock ourselves in our own devices, then blame others for their design. Fits of animal lucidity that may appear madness to the habituated — such as going out for a run in the middle of the night, fasting for no external reason, or simply typing unpremeditated words into the stillness and emptiness of a blog — are perhaps wholly necessary to maintain some freedom from our own tendency toward confinement.

In the flurry of my working urban existence, as if that were any excuse, I have grown complacent, as I am wont to do, being human, in a perpetually exhausted consumptive silence, threading endlessly through the vision of others amplified on my outdated laptop screen. But there is a wind that speaks from deep within that cuts through concrete and forest alike, past and present, a sort of primal divulging light that trumps all, if it could just be heard. . .

I once struggled to understand the language of the ocean as it laps relentlessly against the shore, like a fish-eyed harbinger of hunger, desire, and the wild thrall that lies just at the boundary of death, a  3D sinuously pixellating sound of the loss of everything that had previously been defined, yet comes back again, never to be fully known except perhaps, fleetingly, as beauty.

Like San Narciso expulgated of meaning, there is simply, terribly what lies here, before us, utterly barren, utterly beautiful, utterly unknowable yet wholly tangible through shizophrenic descent into frenzied sensory and metaphoric experience. Here we touch the subway shuddering plastic lights that flash the graffiti of someone who has long since passed onto their way into everyday. . .

The image words of the ocean wind, cutting through the forest mountain of my mind, take me away to your place of desolation.

Something to Write About

Struggling to write something, I write about the necessary struggle to write.

I don’t know what to write. I spluttered out a few meagre sentences that fizzled before they could even hit a period. And as I stared at the blank screen, bereft, I recalled observing this struggle in my 5th grade students as they sat “brainstorming” something to write in class. It’s all right, I would tell them, this is something every writer experiences. There’s even a name for it: writer’s block! Just write down anything that comes to you, the first thing that comes to mind, and keep going with it. You can always go back and edit it or start something new.

And perhaps there is some smidgen of wisdom in those encouragements, even though all I’m really doing is trying to force them to write because I need something to quantify, something to show, something to assess. The wisdom being that we can’t wait for genius divine inspiration to strike – we have to just put it out there, now, while we have the chance, however imperfect and trivial it ultimately may be, or else we risk saying nothing at all, and holding it in, and losing an opportunity to better develop our capability to articulate what is within and to be understood. These opportunities seem like they should be legion, yet they really are quite rare. There is always something demanding our immediate time and shallow attention. Errands, family, TV, Facebook, email, video games, news, books. Something for us to become immersed in, for us to consume. For us to not be lonely, bored, depressed. For us not to confront the dire reality of our own solitary existence.

To create something out of nothing is indeed tough work. It demands humility. It demands that I lay down my pretensions and measure my distance from my own self and from others and step forward into the light of temporary understanding, thus opening myself to misunderstanding and belittlement. But beyond this threshold of fear lies love. An acceptance of my frail attempts to formally communicate myself. An acceptance of my humanity, however proud, however blind, however imperfectly stated. An acceptance that even though I don’t really know quite what to say, or how to say it, somehow I’ve still arrived at a better shore than the one I left but a moment before. And can now go to sleep feeling better relieved, slightly more whole, like I’ve taken one small step towards re-finding myself in the dark empty night, renewing the self that had been sleeping, hidden in the everyday veil of my movements. Enough. I think I’ve found something to write about.


The most valuable thing I may possibly possess is my attention. Everything else from each focal point flows: money, fitness, conversation, love. It therefore follows that the most pernicious power possibly wielded is inattention. Fallen along the periphery of lapsed perception lies barren decay, the detritus of abandonment. Grown all the more eventually loud and demanding in its rifted divisiveness.

Constant, unwavering vigilance is required, then, in the maintenance of integrity. To enlist an oblique reference from past popular culture, in Blair Witch Project, the moment of greatest fear lay not in the unseen scratching or indeterminate wailing in the woods, but in the closing shot of the friend in the basement corner with his back turned, posed monolithically, a presence assumedly known just a minute before but now no longer understood — for one moment abandoned and thus — in a subsequent moment of greatest peril and need — turned unreachably menacing.

In the ghettos of my soul, an unplumbed, thickened viscosity of malformed and unaddressed feelings can so easily build like malignant plaque. An accumulating pile of secondary priorities shoved into a corner of my awareness. My heart must be opened.

Our innards must be aired. Nothing good can happen unless all facets of each compiling moment are appreciated. The path, the journey that we make is hewn from the gravity of a complete and total immersion in what lies directly before us. The earth. The heated, desolate eyes of the public. Our bodies, our tongues, the sound and the light, unforsaken, believed in, cherished, compassionate,


One More Gin

I’ve almost forgotten how to allow my written words to surge from behind some unknown internal weir. Writing, once something I required in the formation of self-definition and well-being, now has become an occasional dirge or some type of social notification. But it is pointless to lament the loss of something one has sacrificed, whether deliberately or by way of necessity. My life is something sometimes beyond the scope of my own creation. I am formulated by forces that are chiseling me into some enmossed hybrid of scales and vascular tissue. The path before me, once a quiescent omega pull sensed only as the horizon, has become more greatly defined, even as it remains unknown. This means, I suppose, that I am simply gaining age, and thus, economy. A self-delimitation that oddly increases power.

This trivial taste of creation whets my will to allow for the vulnerability of writing to overtake me again. There is something of despair here, something of a rugged strength that draws one into a crumbled beauty, a traumatized clarity of vision. It can only inevitably be good for the soul.