Departure (Burning Man 7)

He slowly stood. The water was eerily calm again. Makara was magnificent and deadly terrifying at the same time. He looked into the large reptilian eyes and was frozen. In slow motion, like that of a long forgotten dream, the creature’s mouth came down around the solitary figure. Gently the crocodilian mouth enveloped Billy’s body. As a mother croc would pick up her young, he was lifted unharmed into the air. Makara tossed her head back and swallowed him whole.

All was dark. He felt a solid surface beneath him. The air was lightly perfumed with the smell of flowers. He was unafraid. It was very silent. A glow began to appear before him. How far away it was he could not tell. Space and time had become irrelevant. A sound. Yes he distinctly heard a sound. It was the same tune he had hummed to himself on the beach but he wasn’t humming. The glow grew brighter. He walked in the direction of the ethereal. Soon he could make out dancing flames. The flames took on the rhythm of the tune. The closer he got the brighter the fire rose. There was no crackling noise, just the hypnotic, methodical melody.

He was baffled at first but the closer he got he began to understand. Knowledge, hidden knowledge flowed into him. The fire resembled the colors of his opaline amulet. With every color of the rainbow the flames danced a macabre ghost dance. Sparks he noticed now. Millions of sparks swirled around the tips of the flames and disappeared into an infinite ceiling of night like so many stars of the outback where he had grown up. He stood entranced almost in rapture at this gift of light in the vast darkness.

Something touched him on the shoulder. He shivered in surprise. It was Eingana. The music emanated from her very being. Her body glowed with life in the darkness.

“Well done Billy there are only a handful from creation who have made it this far in mortal form.”

Eingana what is this place?”

“It is a place you won’t remember but also a place you’ll never forget. The flame you see is the beginning and end. Some call it the Qabalah. The sparks that dance are the souls of all that is living and all that ever has lived. Some will return to a form of life on Earth. Others will pass beyond the realm never to return.”

“Which ones return?”

Eingana laughed. “Billy you indeed ask the right question. The harmful souls will not return. The noble souls can choose to return. They may live again on Earth as the Universe decides their place.Those that are beneficent to living things around them are the right and noble souls. You have a choice now.”

Eingana there is no choice but to return.”

“Yes but that’s the riddle. Even I cannot foresee where you will be, who you will be or what you will be if you return. Neither will you remember this place except at moments when you feel the most uncertain, even then not directly. At those troubled and confusing times the Universe will guide you in the ways of life and preserving life.”

Eingana I choose life.”

“Of that I was always certain.” Eingana smiled and raise her silken arms above her head. The vision disappeared. All was dark.

Far away a man laid on his death bed. He was 103 years of age. He breathed deeply and looked at his grand surroundings. He was wealthy beyond measure. He had more possessions than any man could possibly use. Ruthlessly he had obtained this wealth and now it brought him no comfort other than his bed which even now felt like a prison. His body was worn out, his memories not a comfort. He reminisced of a time when he was a young man in Australia out among the bush. His Land Rover had stopped at a billabong. An indigenous Australian man was getting water. Beside him stood a young, nearly naked boy. His ribs were sticking out. He looked intently at the boy. Their eyes met. Billy turned away and grabbed his uncle by the leg. The old man was haunted by that boy as he lay in his bed. He could not get the image of him out of his mind. He took his last breath and died.

A red spark hurtled through space. It rushed through the firmament. It headed straight for a star. As it zoomed through space it passed a green spark that had been emitted from the second planet orbiting the same star. A green spark headed directly towards earth. A green spark full of consciousness and the essence of life itself.

Roy jerked suddenly in the waters of the Gulf. He had been falling in a dream. Thankfully he had not let go of the log he clung to. He looked up and saw the Coast Guard boat approaching.

CGC Heron (WPB 87344)

“Do the difficult things while they are easy, do the great things while they are small. The journey of a thousand leagues begins with a single step.” — Lao Tzu

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Wanted: Independent Leaders for the Republican Party

The Republican party of the United States is in dire need of a complete overhaul. Somehow they have gone seriously off course. By pandering to the far right of extremism and embracing such monolithic mouthpieces as Limbaugh, Trump and Fox News the party has become lost in a morass of discord and hatred. At least Mitt Romney had the tact to admit defeat graciously in spite of the fact that he led a devious campaign filled with distortions of reality. Now Fox News has the crazy people in their glorious team of social miscreants accusing the other side of playing dirty to win the election! Of course the blow hard Trump and Limbaugh are quick to join in this cacophony of blithering idiocy. Whoa to the Republican party if it continues to let these mental midgets define who they are!

The Republican party is in dire need of some person to step above this fray. Someone with the will and fortitude to stand up to and put to rest this creed of lobbyist Grover Norquist. A free thinker who can put the former Scranton weatherman Bill O’Reilly in his place when O’Reilly suggests that the Republican party failed because the majority of people in The United States of America have declining moral values. Stop making excuses that have no basis in reality! The American people are wising up to the Republicans distortions of reality and very bad math. Put forth a free thinker who without condescension can tell the truth to America and argue for a wiser form of government. If not the Republican party will continue to disintegrate into a party that relies on hatred, lies, distortions and name calling if they have any hope of further deceiving the general population and that is not a path to lasting success.

Unfortunately for now there seems to be no such person on the horizon for the Republicans. Any rising star they have quickly becomes part of the military industrial complex and puts on the jack boots of their party members. Even the so called mavericks of the party have been stilted. The tea party has turned into the fossil fuel party. Maybe a camping trip to Greenland in the summer time is in order to prove to the last of the nay sayers that carbon dioxide is indeed heating the atmosphere and something needs to be done quickly and completely to avert worse disaster. Republicans need to embrace science and stop pretending it is something made up to bewilder them and call their faith into question. The sooner the party realizes that it can’t bully its way out of every problem the sooner they might produce a capable and courageous candidate who will not only earn the respect of the American people they will deserve it.

“Conservatives define themselves in terms of what they oppose.” — George Will

“I have a very large Twitter.” — Donald Trump

“The only way to reduce the number of nuclear weapons is to use them.” — Rush Limbaugh

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Note: This was originally posted on November 7th 2012. It seems particularly relevant today as the Nation came precariously close to defaulting on its’ loans due to some delusional Republicans who had forgotten who won the Presidency. The message is the same.

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Art Brings Us Close to the Eternal

Just when humanity brings you down once again and you are at the edge of a cliff staring at the abyss; The storm has overtaken you and there seems to be no way out; Your most beloved has departed suddenly and for no rational reason; A work of art may pierce your soul. Art redeems the purpose of your existence. Art resuscitates you. The breath of inspiration fills you once again.

Art is what differentiates us from the animals. Its’ very existence is unique to the human experience. Art makes us laugh and dream. Art has the power to make us cry and then inspire us to create. It can transport us and give us hope. When the world has gone mad we can find solace in it. We can escape into a painting perhaps. Lose our breath at the sight of a sculpture. Close our eyes and hear the sounds of heaven with songs that seem to come from the angels themselves. We might very well read ourselves into a fantastic saga of trial and redemption.

Art lifts our spirits bringing us close to the eternal. It is no small wonder that many of the worlds religions have directly inspired our most wondrous and precious art. In these days of great confusion and delusion let us remember the artists. Let each one honor the artist in themselves to lift us out of our darkness or if more tribulations are necessary to turn them into an appreciation of our shared humanity and wondrous diversity.

“The greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules but by people following the rules. It’s people who follow orders that drop bombs and massacre villages”— Banksy

“I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.”— Banksy

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Google This; Be Wary of the Machine

In this day and age of Facebook and Google we tend to easily lose ourselves in a barrage of endless information. Caught up in being part of what we regard as “the Pack” we tend to engage ourselves by participating in an electronic reality where it is dangerously easy to become lost in a morass of sometimes meaningless data. Not only can this become a predictable way to express our own identity it can also quash our sense of individual worth. Some of us end up believing that we need to emulate the people we see on reality television to succeed or even the boobs on you tube doing various and assorted ridiculous stunts to draw attention to themselves in hopes of creating a “viral video”. The younger generation seems particularly vulnerable and decidedly numb to this type of exploitation.  Unfortunately the very same tools which can bring about so much potential convenience are the very same ones that can bring about a bridge of no return.

Not only are we being exploited on reality television we are also being exploited by what has become to be known as “Big Data”. As the use of electronic devices become necessary for our very existence in this highly competitive and technologically oriented world it is nearly impossible to “go off the grid”. Thus we are exposed to being tracked and marketed in every sense. Every website we go to, every store we make a purchase at, the types of products we use are tracked even our movements in retail outlets are recorded for future use. Our friends are tracked as well, the products they use, our interests, their interests — all of this information becomes valuable marketing data which is bought and sold like so many sacks of potatoes. Our privacy is gone. Today as this article was updated from a previous post the New York Times reports that Google is under investigation for illegally gathering data by scanning email from people using its “free” Gmail services. This includes an estimated half billion people worldwide.

The time has truly come to fruition were the marketers can now predict our behavior to a frighteningly large degree. Why is this new method of marketing so frightening? Simply because we are now considered commodities — as opposed to being individuals with unique thoughts and needs — we have now become the property of “Big Data” and are under their control with customized advertising geared to tell us what we need before we even know it ourselves. The ancient Chinese proverb says: “May you live in interesting times”. Well indeed we are and let’s keep up our vigilance to not lose our identity or our children’s identity in a pile of “Big Data” sponsored by your friendly neighborhood Google and Facebook where we voluntarily “feed the machine”.


“America’s Facebook generation shows a submission to standardization that I haven’t seen before. The American adventure has always been about people forgetting their former selves. Samuel Clemens became Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac went on the road. If they had a Facebook page they wouldn’t have been able to forget their former selves.” — Jaron Lanier

“All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.” — Marshall McLuhan

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween