Tent poles & Intimacy

On Tuesday, HugNation’s topic was digital vs. physical intimacy. I also blogged about it.
On Wednesday, based on recent blog posts, I was invited to a local Philosophy Meetup happening that evening a few miles away.

How poetic!

“I’ll go!” I thought.
I had expressed that I wanted to be amongst the people more, and here an opportunity has found me.
But as the day progressed, I found one reason after another NOT to go.
I even stalled subconsciously – and almost gave myself the excuse, “Now I’ll never make it on time.”
I came up with 2 more reasons to turn around while driving to the coffee shop where they were meeting – I felt like I was literally debating with a voice in my head.
“But what if…?”
“Look, even if you don’t like it, it is STILL a excellent use of your time.”
Etc..
But I went. And I made it on time.
And I enjoyed myself.
Take THAT, stupid voice in my head who hates leaving the house!

After everyone suggested topics, the group voted to discuss, “digital vs. physical intimacy.”
Digital discussion leads to physical discussion leads to this digital posting…anyone else getting dizzy?
The perspectives from the group were diverse and insightful. And I’m really glad I went.

I’m still trying to figure out the right balance of online & offline attention. But Brody summed it up pretty wonderfully in a comment on my blog:

“I see digital intimacy like guy wires for a tent… and physical connections as tent poles. The tent & poles can probably survive without the guy wires, but the tent and the guy wires are useless without the poles themselves.”

I’m going to continue working on finding the ideal balance between physical and real worlds…and the best way for me pitch a tent.

Tent poles & Intimacy

On Tuesday, HugNation’s topic was digital vs. physical intimacy. I also blogged about it.
On Wednesday, based on recent blog posts, I was invited to a local Philosophy Meetup happening that evening a few miles away.

How poetic!

“I’ll go!” I thought.
I had expressed that I wanted to be amongst the people more, and here an opportunity has found me.
But as the day progressed, I found one reason after another NOT to go.
I even stalled subconsciously – and almost gave myself the excuse, “Now I’ll never make it on time.”
I came up with 2 more reasons to turn around while driving to the coffee shop where they were meeting – I felt like I was literally debating with a voice in my head.
“But what if…?”
“Look, even if you don’t like it, it is STILL a excellent use of your time.”
Etc..
But I went. And I made it on time.
And I enjoyed myself.
Take THAT, stupid voice in my head who hates leaving the house!

After everyone suggested topics, the group voted to discuss, “digital vs. physical intimacy.”
Digital discussion leads to physical discussion leads to this digital posting…anyone else getting dizzy?
The perspectives from the group were diverse and insightful. And I’m really glad I went.

I’m still trying to figure out the right balance of online & offline attention. But Brody summed it up pretty wonderfully in a comment on my blog:

“I see digital intimacy like guy wires for a tent… and physical connections as tent poles. The tent & poles can probably survive without the guy wires, but the tent and the guy wires are useless without the poles themselves.”

I’m going to continue working on finding the ideal balance between physical and real worlds…and the best way for me pitch a tent.

Droplets of Intimacy

I spend a lot of time at home.
I am one of those people who feels pulled home nearly all the time. When I am out and there is a lull in activities, my instinct is to head home.

One big reason is because of the web.
The internet and it’s source of infinite pseudo connections.
I am well aware that a textual “(hug)” is not the same as a physical one, but it does contain trace elements of connection.
Every status update from a friend.
Every comment or reply.
Every email.
Each of these digital connections has a tiny bit of emotional charge.

I can be physically alone for long stretched and never really feel “alone” because of those digital connections. But it takes a lot of them.

Meeting a friend for coffee is like gulping a refreshing glass of Love water.
Whereas drifting through Facebook, and the online worlds of friends is like tiny drops. Not nearly as satisfying – but enough to stay hydrated.
The downside is that it takes LOTS of drops to equal a glass.
And I find myself constantly foraging for droplets.

I am trying to transition my thinking so that I leave the house more.
I want to try to drink more full glasses and spend less effort foraging.

Part of this process for me is shifting my mindset, in parallel with shifting my actions.

And one way I am doing this is by forcing myself to analyze the difference between physical and digital intimacy.

This is especially hard since I have spent many years as a champion of digital intimacy. (www.digitalintimacy.com)

But after 15+ years of posting my life online, I am aware that my patterns are out of balance. Time to shift more of my energy and attention towards the physical world.

That doesn’t mean trees and rivers, although it could.
I just mean that I want to go to the store more, and to amazon.com less. I want to walk the streets, interact with people, and most importantly, interact with people I love.

The reality is that all interactions are with people I love – on some level. And I’d like to get to a point where I am fully hydrated with human connection. Spreading and feeling the divine love that flows between us all.

(Hopefully the interactions won’t diminish my optimism in people. I realize that Idealized people are much easier to get along with than actual ones.)

One perspective that is helping me re-focus towards the physical world is a modification of an idea I read in “Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”

It has been 20 years, but I remember a passage that made the distinction between a painting and a print.
One is art, it maintained.
The other is a picture OF art.

One has the energy, magic and intention of the artist trapped in the physical object. It contains history. It is bottled up time and effort. Each brushstoke groove has a story.

But a print is just a picture of that story. You can still get the gist of it, but you cannot feel it in the same way. The artist’s energy is muffled via reproduction.

I was powerfully affected by that idea. In fact, I have had only original art in my home ever since.

Last week I realized that the same distinction could be made between physical interactions and digital ones.

Interacting with the world via a terminal is like interacting with a picture OF the world.

Yes, the @replies, comments and ((hugs)) are connections…but they are are like photocopies of connections. They are abstract symbols that amount to little more than droplets.

To be clear, I am still a HUGE proponent of digital intimacy. My life has been transformed by the love I feel via the web. But I have gradually shifted to a life that depends on a constant stream of tiny droplets.

Huge amounts of my time is spent grazing the digital fields to ease my thirst.

I am working to understand better where the glasses of water are in my life.

Things like:
Playtime with my nephews.
Lunches with friends.
And random smiles in the streets.

I still love the web. I just want to shift back into patterns where a terminal is a tool to enhance my walking in the world – not replace it.

Tiny drops. Baby steps.

Love,
-john

I am thankful for…

I have seen several people posting ‘one thing they are thankful for’ every day.
I love this idea.
But I become overwhelmed when I try.
What is the first thing on the list?
Consciousness? The ability to be thankful?
What next? Every moment feels like something to be thankful for.
In fact, every day before meals I thank the universe for the miracle in every moment. I ask the universe to help me to be aware of these endless gifts. I remind myself to focus on all the amazing things in the world.

But if start to get specific, I feel a flood of thoughts.
My body alone seems to be overflowing with gifts:
It’s self-healing nature.
It’s mobility and dexterity – even after 38 years of use.
The ability to taste, touch, and sense the endless treasures of experience.
The lists seems endless.

And if I go outside myself, it feels even more infinite.

The Sun’s warmth – and every leaf photosynthesizing sunbeams into energy.
Every animal converting a plant into fuel.
Every cloud that decorates the sky and distributes moisture.
Every interconnected living thing that consumes or decays to maintain the miraculous checks and balances of each ecosystem.
The divine cosmic plan – born of billions of years of evolution – that “governs” these infinitely complicated natural systems.

and then I’m caught in a loop – As I am back again thinking of the checks and balances at work within my body. Each cell serving it’s perfect role as white blood cell or part of a bile duct or nerve ending or intestine.

Maybe these lists work better as reminders to look at the wonderful (but always transitory) human conditions that we find favorable:

I am thankful for my soft, fuzzy robe on cold mornings.
I am thankful for hot coffee with too-much hazelnut flavored creamer.
I am thankful for running water, on-demand.

But really all I need to do is think of a few of the miraculous people in my life before I feel blessed beyond measure.
Jim, Jen.
Caleb, Carter.
Mom, Dad.
Shonda, Deron, Brandon, Dmitry, Scott, Alan, Meg, Ed….

Maybe it isn’t so overwhelming, after all.
In fact, just making an attempt at the list has made me feel calm.

Like floating in the ocean and surrendering to the vastness. Even though you know it is simply too big to comprehend, it still feels mind-blowing to jump in and swim around.

Thank YOU for being a part of this miraculous sea of experience.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Mr. Saboteur

I went to a Life Coach.

During our first hour, I was shocked how often I said the phrase,
“I do not deserve…”
“I am unqualified…”
“I don’t feel entitled to…”

My coach said that was the voice of my “Saboteur.”

This feeling of being unworthy is why I have worked to be a big fish in a small pond for most my life.
For years, I was focused on a pretty niche area: Where web technology, sex, and spirituality met.
I worked on Globalgasm – an event that used sexuality as a force to generate love energy and unite people.
I used my own sexuality as a canvas to share ideas.
I believed that I did not deserve to talk about spiritual ideas all by themselves. There are way too many people more qualified than I.
They read more. They study more. They practice more. They meditate more.
In comparison, I simply have no right to be blathering about spiritual topics.
Plus, I like to party, I take medications, I eat processed foods, and am generally not living a life deserving of any emulation from a spiritual seeker.
BUT, if I narrow the realm into something much more niche-specific – say “Spirituality at Burning Man” – or Sex & Spirit – well, that is something I can speak to with authority and without embarrassment.
As far as Burning Man, techno-tribal, neo-hippies go… I *am* a qualified expert.

It is the same reason I relied so heavily on my body & appearance.
There is a 5 year period of time where you would be hard-pressed to find a photo of me with my shirt on.
For some reason, I felt like the higher the charisma, the lower the bar needed to be on the content I shared.

To be fair, I am getting much better.
My attitudes were much worse before my chapter with Grandpa.
Over the last few years, I have built up my confidence and broke down my ego… at least a little bit.
In fact, as I find myself recently single I realized how dramatically my sense of self has changed.
I used to define myself as a sexual being. Whether overtly or subtly, my public self was strengthened by my looks and “mojo.”
Not so much, anymore.
I still feel sexy. But not in the “drool-inducing abs” way. More in an “older Paul Newman” way.
This is a very good thing. As I approach 40, I become more and more aware that the tide of aging will topple any ego built on vanity.

This is an ongoing process that affects many areas of my life. Motivations and patterns crumble and shift – Not always gracefully.
For example, if I no longer care about *looking* good, then I need to shift towards a different motivator for exercising. “Feeling good” is the obvious answer, but it isn’t such an easy switch.
And just because it is something I know I SHOULD do, doesn’t mean I am motivated to do it.
The more I thought about it, the more I became aware of this feeling of, “it’s what I SHOULD do.”

I looked over the list of things I told my Life Coach I wanted to add to my life:
Reading
Writing
Yoga . fitness
Meditation
These were not because I *WANT* to do them… but more that I feel I should. I SHOULD be doing those things if I am to be qualified to speak about Belief Buffet things.
Hmmm.
While it would be great to be doing all those things, it seems ridiculous that I see them as qualifications for speaking my truth.
I had no idea my Saboteur was so strong.
I had no idea so much self-judgment was going on.
Wild.
I still want to pursue a more healthy spiritual and physical path, but I need to add “pursue a healthier self-image,” too.
I must learn to respect my own path, value my perspective, and forgive myself for failing to meet my ideal self-image.
If I can forgive myself in this area, I will be free to connect more deeply to all the people in my life.
Looks like we’ve got a showdown ahead, Mr. Saboteur.
Watch your back.

Why I like paying for TV shows

*inspired while enjoying No News Day*

Ad-supported media is a TRAP.
The cost is way too high.
Well, I’m not speaking about “advertising,” specifically.
Because advertising is just “getting the word out.”
If you suffer from dry feet, you might be aided by the knowledge that foot moisturizer exists.
The real danger is “Marketing.”
Marketing is what convinces you that your feet are too dry.
And that people are laughing at you because of your ashy skin.

Try carrying around a notepad throughout your day and jot down all your consumer desires.
Then watch TV for 3 hours (the US average) and jot down all the products and services that appear desirable.
If there is anything on the second list that is not on the first, then your free TV is too expensive.

“Want” is an endless pit.
“Want” is the carrot we never reach. The itch we never scratch.
And to have a profit-driven, conscious-absent entity stoking your “wants” is a dangerous thing.

Not just stoking it, but strategically picking at the psychic weak spots they’ve discovered through massive tests, studies, and experiments on human brain processing.
How valuable is your peace of mind?
Because “free” TV costs the price of contentment. You may save $3 in rental fees, but your mind is now unsatisfied until it gets a $5 burger. Your free night of “must see TV” just put you $2 in the hole.

The obvious answer is Tivo.
And bleep, bleep, blooping through the Want Attack is a great start. But as the industry begins to counter-attack, it is important to be aware of the stakes.
Itunes and Netflix are beginning to make lots of ad-supported TV available as paid viewing. It is time to start looking at those options as bargains.