Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wondering about Being Linked In...

I was updating all of my social networking accounts, when I got to my LinkedIn account. I literally laughed in derision at my profile, which I’d put together some years ago. I’d modified it here and there after this current journey of breaking free of the cage of selling my labor to an institution. Looking at the profile now, I could see how I'd bought into this ridiculous notion of "selling yourself." I've done a lot of thinking over the years about commodification and this all just screamed COMMODIFICATION OF LABOR at me. It was quite a strong reaction and I knew I needed to capture that energy, so I recorded myself ranting about it. This became my debut episode for my video blog Journey of a Lifetime (follow link below to watch the episode “Are You In?”)

Since recording the video, I've solidified my thoughts and can more clearly articulate what felt at the time, but I'm happy with the video because it captures a kind of raw, visceral reaction. There's a kind of aliveness that comes through, even though my thoughts weren't as organized about it then as they are now. Other videos I do will be more planned, but I like that you can see something of my incredulity at this website and their blatant ethos of commodification, even in the blog that they have on their site.
This commodification of self, to me, is one way that we allow other people to tell us who we are and avoid or fear discovering who we really are. You might say we are modulating or attenuating ourselves to give our self a higher value on the job market.There an inherent disingenuousness about it. Marx argued that commodification of labor leads to alienation, and in particular to alienation from oneself. That, in my mind, is a key component to the kinds of unhappiness you see, of people forcing themselves to go to a cube every day despite the fact that they hate it and are miserable. It's something of a quintessential opposite of what I want to promote, and it was great to have such a thing as LinkedIn open up a dialog on what it means to live ones life fully.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Fool's Errand

The Fool card in the Tarot deck represents the first of the Major Arcana cards and is numbered at zero (0). Images on the card vary widely among the hundreds of decks available on the market today, yet many of the newer decks pay homage to the Marseilles Deck--one of the first, if not the first Tarot deck in the Western world--which depicts a man with a walking stick in one hand and another stick thrown over his shoulder with all of his worldly possessions gathered in a cloth at the end. A dog follows behind him, either begging to go along, or more likely to warn the traveler of the dangers of going on walkabout.

The second interpretation of the dog resonates with me. If we see the traveler going off to find adventure and whatever else may come his way, we can imagine the ego itself and its extensions in the world--namely other people, the state, the establishment and whatever internal need we have to impress this nameless and ubiquitous "they"--as a yapping, incessant nay-sayer.

The Rider-Waite Deck, the more readily recognized Tarot Deck in the Western world, similarly depicts a traveler with the high strung pooch following along, yet, it also shows the traveler heading toward a precipice, perhaps ready to plummet to the jagged depths below unless he awakens from his daydream and comes down to earth for just a moment to see what consequences his actions may have in the real world. In the third image above, we have a representation that harkens back to the Rider-Waite deck, but which shows a bubbly young woman and what appears to be a trailing rather than a warning hound.

The Fool card is the card of Journeys. It is the card that tells us that new opportunities for adventure, for change, for following a dream, for starting a new life are presenting themselves. We don't need much, and in fact, certain circumstances in life might very well reduce our wealth and possessions and force us upon an adventure. In part, the zero-ness of the Fool tells us that we are at a new starting point that is as yet undefined, that encompasses everything while having a distinct non-essence, much like the nameless Tao.

In practical terms, we may be at a point of having been reduced to nothing in financial, relational, occupational areas, as well as in relationship to our possessions or the number of ways we can think to get ourselves out of a jam. Once "there is nothing I can do" is accepted, it seems the door opens for endless opportunities that we couldn't think of or generate ourselves, or that we weren't previously willing to consider. Often these new opportunities entail taking that first step to adventure, to a spiritual journey to answer the big questions we may have not realized we were even asking.

The Fool beckons you to leave your tired life, the life of pandering to others, to the man, to the state, to God, to the church, or to any other thing that has you keeping a cap on your dreams, any other thing that has you saying, "I could never do that. It's just a daydream." The playing field has been leveled to zero. The road opens before you. Say "yes" to that nudge inside you that demands of you, "Trust me."

Monday, September 23, 2013

Choice: The Center of Being

There's always a choice.

It isn't always easy to see it though because fear has a way of making it appear as if there are no choices. Let me take an extreme example:  if someone told me that I should give her all my money or she'd kill me, I might later say, "I had no choice." Here the choice is between saving money and dying. Because of the way values tend to stack up, I think most people would part with their money rather than die. Nevertheless, by slowing down the process of being mugged, it's apparent that there is in fact a choice involved.

Recently, as I've had to think seriously about what I want my life to be going forward, I often come down to a dichotomy where previously I'd thought I had no real choice. Some of this has gotten extreme. Will I find a job or be homeless, unemployed, and shamed before society? Will I continue to pursue my career as a writer? Will I refuse to look for a job in a particular area because I'm fed up with those kinds of jobs? Will I pursue a life of personal meaning or accept the common declaration that such a pursuit is "selfish"?

This is an important realization for relationships as well. If I follow my life's path, will I find myself generally snubbed by others.


A theme that has emerged in the past few months is one of rebirth, transformation, death, change. Before I left Ohio a few weeks ago, it seemed that I could no longer stay there, as if a door had closed and it wouldn't open again. I felt the same way when I was standing at the dam in Rapidan, and sitting at MOA on the day I left Minnesota. It seemed this was the place to come, that I should make my way to LA. But now that I'm here, it isn't entirely clear what I should do.