Record Store Day 2015: Random Records, Durango, CO

record store day 2015 1

I love vinyl LP’s. I got rid of all my records after high school, not appreciating them like I do now… and jumped on the ‘cd’ bandwagon in the late 80’s / early 90’s. I regret that move.

Fortunately, there are awesome record stores like Random Records, in Durango, CO, to help me rebuild my collection.

Owner Kristian Luce is super knowledgeable, super fair, and super friendly. Just a cool guy to hang out with. Record Store Day 2015 was a huge success at Random Records. Just being there on Saturday morning made my whole weekend awesome!

I love this store!

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Foolish Cousin Ego (Chapter One of the forthcoming book There Is No ‘Other': Ego vs Heart)

CHAPTER ONE

Foolish cousin ego

Come back here and have a seat next to me. Sit here with me in the sunshine, here in the back yard. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Here, have some water. Have some sunshine. Have some lemonade. Have some delicious food. Have some company. Have some quiet time. Rest. Relax. You’ve been working so hard to find yourself… to take care of things in the way a man of goodness would, and does. You’ve been striving to do and be the right thing for so long… Sit and rest. Set down those heavy bags. No need to worry: I’ll have someone carry them to your room for you. Filled with anxieties and worries and concerns and deadlines and storylines and masks and passwords and keys and backup hard drives and floor mats and extra boots and windbreakers and an emergency sleeping bag and some backup cash for just in case.

You certainly are prepared. Or you seem to believe you are, anyway. Little cousin ego must be whispering in your ear again. Have you been believing his lies? He knows no other way, so we can’t really blame him, can we? But as good as his intentions might be, he is misguided, and has misguided you, time and again. He tells you that you had better be prepared; you had better be warned and cautious and on your guard. No place for vulnerability and openness here– in order to survive, you have absolutely got to grit your teeth and clench your shoulders as you walk, to make yourself look larger and more threatening to others, who would take advantage of you for walking down the sidewalk in a big, scary town like this. Haven’t you heard the latest news? Haven’t you memorized the latest crime statistics? Don’t you know your very life is in danger?

Yes… foolish cousin ego. He believes his own press, and that’s how he can be so utterly charming and convincing. But you’ve noticed, no doubt, that he can spin on a dime to turn against you, shaming and blaming you for all kinds of things, and then getting you to believe that he’s doing it all for your own good. Can you believe that? Would you ever put up with such attitude from anyone on the street? In the classroom? At the grocery store? Just imagine if your checkout clerk at the grocery store was checking out your items and started chastising you for what you were purchasing… what you were wearing, or for humming the tune on your lips. Would you ever tolerate such abuse, such lies, such incredible inhospitality? Of course not. You would talk to the manager, remove yourself from the unhealthy relationship as soon as possible.

So why is it that when this back alley bum starts whispering in your ear with its nasty breath, you immediately invite him to come sit in your lap? When he starts pulling your hair and scratching your face and slapping and pinching you, insults flying, curses spilling all over your favorite shirt, all you can do is thank him for his kindness? When he wipes snot and saliva all over your sleeve, and sneezes in your face, all you can do is congratulate him for being such a good ally?

No. This is not how it was meant to be. The next time your ‘kind uncle’ sidles up to you, blowing smoke in your face, with food stuck in his teeth and vomit on his breath… the next time he leans in to give you a big kiss on the lips, turn away. Refuse his advances. Don’t listen to him. He does not deserve your attention, let alone your acceptance. His game is to pretend that what he thinks is what you think; he whispers something in your ear, and if you repeat it out loud, he congratulates you for having such wonderful ideas. He tells you that you are a smart guy; a man of the world who can tell the difference between fools and heroes.

But trust me when I tell you, he does not have your best interest at heart. In fact, he has you serving him, when it should be the other way around. Long ago he applied for the job of butler, just to help out around the house and get things done. And you were ready for a little help; some guidance would be great, you thought. Better than having to try to make sense of this confusing world all alone. And so you hired him. At minimum wage. And he started out by taking out the trash… vacuuming the carpets… mowing the lawn. He did a pretty good job at first. But then he started playing the ‘expert’ card, acting as if he were still being helpful, but influencing you little by little to move in his direction– to take down some of those paintings you like so much and put up some of his favorite posters.

Over time, you ended up listening to his ‘counsel’ more and more. Soon he had you repainting the walls to his liking, while he sipped on a piña colada in your favorite armchair. At every turn he alternated between congratulating you for your wisdom, your hipness, and your cleverness, and berating you for being such a clumsy asshole. He laughed at you when you talked about bringing out those brushes and canvases again, reminding you that there was no WAY you were quite good enough yet to do anything like that. “Maybe wait just a little bit longer, then you’ll be ready,” he said with a confident smile on his lips.

And you believed him. You had a choice about it the whole time, from the very start, all those years ago, and you’ve been choosing to believe him, day in and day out. Eventually he climbed out of your favorite armchair and actually up onto your back, “just for a quick little piggyback ride,” he whispered. And you agreed. “Sure, come on up… it’ll be fine,” you told yourself. And he did.

Soon you were hobbling around the living room with this ogre on your back, pointing and shouting directions so loudly into your ear that you started to believe that his voice was your own voice. That his thoughts, ideas, and intentions were your own. That his malice was yours; that his layers of protective defense mechanisms were yours… that his selfish need for more love, more sex, more everything was your own. You took it all in stride. And you paid the consequences.

You forgot that the heaviness you felt every day, every night, every waking moment was this smelly, unbathed jerk riding around on your back. You told yourself (or was it him?) that you simply had to be strong, carry on… that it would all get better soon. And so, at his slightest suggestion, you threw open the windows and invited the clamor of the world into your living room. You ran outside and grabbed the lawn furniture from the patio and threw them through your beautiful plate glass windows. You gathered trash from the gutter and then scattered it around your kitchen. You invited rats and leeches and wild monkeys into your home, and when they threw feces at you, you told yourself that it was all just part of life.

You taped up black trash bags over the windows to block out all the light, and then you set fire to the curtains. The flames licked the ceiling, leaving charred black designs on the walls, ashes on the floor, and a stench in the air. You ate stale cigarettes for breakfast, and sobbed into your pillow at night about how unfair the world was. You poured gasoline on the lawn and set it on fire, then rode your bicycle through the inferno, weeping at the ‘cruelty of the world’.

You smashed your favorite guitar against the windshield of your car, until strings broke and the headstock cracked and tuning machines were hanging off and strange angles. Then you turned on your tape recorder and sang out-of-tune songs about heartbreak and weariness. You pounded nails into your car’s tires, then drove it around the block until hot black smoke poured from the wheels… You drove it up over the curb, through the front yard and crashed through the wall of your house and into the living room, smacking your head against the inside of your windshield, leaving a spiderweb crack in the glass and on your forehead.

You poured rat poison into the well of your home, then took a long, hot bath and cried because you felt so bad.

You wrapped your favorite baseball bat in rusty barbed wire and then chased the cat around the house. You made prank phone calls to your loved ones and cursed at them through the telephone, foaming at the mouth and throwing raisins at the tv set. You tied a blindfold around your head and then ran at the wall with a pair of scissors in your hand. You juggled open boxcutters. You stuck pennies in the light socket. You soiled yourself and then rolled around on the floor, laughing like a crazed man.

All the while, he was riding on your back, whispering all of these ideas into your ear. “This is what will set you free,” he promised with a smirk. You thought the smirk was your own– that somehow you were going to get ahead in life; that you would somehow get the best of this world. That the world, and everyone in it, would finally recognize your true genius and pay you what it owed you. And it owed you a lot.

For years this has gone on. Decades. And on a regular basis, you would throw your hands into the air, look up at the sky and cry, “Why me?! What did I ever do to deserve this?!”

But you missed something. In those moments of desperation, as you were crying your truth to the sky and the stars above, you didn’t happen to notice that the creep riding on your back was mouthing those very words along with you. Even those very words were not your own; they were his. You got so used to hearing his voice in your ear that you took it on as your own. You forgot the sound of your own voice.

Somewhere along the way, you noticed something magical; something long-forgotten that tickled a special place in your heart’s memory… just as the sun was about to set, or about to rise… just as storm clouds were about to roll in… just as you were about to brush your teeth, you recognized that something wonderful was just out of reach. Instead of the usual anger, sadness, fear, and despair at the awful state of things, this tiny, strangely familiar feeling of hopeful joy rose like a bubble from the bottom of the ocean and welled up in your heart. Your eyes opened wide, and you started in surprise at this feeling, which had a very different flavor than all the rest: it tasted like gratitude.

The guy on your back was quick to take the credit. “Oh, you felt that? Yeah, that was me. It’s a good thing you’ve been listening to me… following my recommendations… otherwise you probably NEVER would have felt that. Want some more? Let’s go raise some hell!”

And with that you would once again turn away from the silence that had brought the glimmer of peaceful, hopeful joy… your birthright. You went right back to the mayhem of the day. And the joy would dissipate back into feelings of despair. As hard as you tried to ‘grab and hold on’ to those special, magical feelings of belonging, of oneness with the world and everyone in it, they would only take the stage fleetingly, from behind the curtain, and would disappear just as quickly as they’d come.

One day you sat down, tired. Enough is enough, you thought. Something is not right. Something is not working. This cannot be what life is truly about… running around like a chicken with its head cut off, searching and dissecting and collecting and disposing and running into walls, bruising body and heart all the time.

“What if I take a look in the mirror?” That was the thought you had, and when you did, the guy on your back was startled. And angered. If you were to do that, especially for very long, you might notice him hanging on your back. And then there would be trouble.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” he said a little too quickly, trying to cover it up with an easy, dismissive laugh. “That’s just a waste of time anyway… your time is worth more than that. Let’s go blow some shit up instead.”

But this time, something about looking in the mirror, as uncomfortable as it might be, really sounded intriguing. “It can’t be any worse than what my life has been like already,” you figure. And you walk into the bathroom. You take a quick peek in the mirror above the sink, where you brush your teeth every day. But until now, you’ve only stared vacantly into the mirror, not really expecting to see anything different than your own chin, your own stubble, and the foamy toothpaste you spit into the sink. This time there’s no toothbrush. There’s no auto-pilot. You’re looking in the mirror to see if you can see anything different.

And you do.

You spot something peeking up from behind your left shoulder. What in the world…? A little tuft of hair poking up, and one eyebrow, trying to remain undetected. You turn around and try to look back over your own shoulder to see yourself better, but something is blocking the way. And an insistent voice is saying, with increasing intensity, “This is a big waste of time! C’mon, let’s go DO something!”

But on this day, you hesitate. You head slowly but persistently toward the bedroom, with its full-length mirror. Even though you feel the need to pour some more gasoline in the front lawn and shoot flaming arrows into it, you pause for just a few more moments. You turn to one side.

And there, right before your eyes, is a 240 pound beast hanging on your back with its arms around your neck, just barely cutting off your airflow. You see it there, with your own eyes. And it keeps looking away, determined not to meet your gaze, for it knows precisely what will happen if it does. It is shouting something– ‘waste of time! waste of time!’ and keeps trying to dodge and duck, working to spin you back around so you can’t see it.

All of its wriggling around causes you to lose your balance, and you fall awkwardly to the floor, gasping for breath and hoping like hell you’ll survive whatever this is that is happening. You wrangle with the beast, and it still has its arms around your throat. You manage to spin around under its weight so that you’re facing the mirror from the other side, and you catch sight of it again, in all its twisted glory.

“I see you!” you shout. It looks up in terror. And in that moment, you lock eyes with it in the mirror. It starts to scream and grabs a beer bottle and slams it against the mirror, which shatters and collapses upon itself. But you’ve already seen. You reach back and grab hold of hairy flesh and wrench yourself around and up into a seated position.

Face to face, you peer directly into the eyes of your tormentor. The kidnapper who brainwashed you into believing that he was your savior. The abuser who lied about caring deeply for you. The monster who enslaved you. The beast that locked you in a cage.

And suddenly, you can breathe again like never before. You take the deepest breath you’ve taken in decades, and you see its eyes grow as wide as saucers. You begin to smile, and as it takes one last gasp and tries to unleash its final battle cry, it disintegrates before your very eyes. No blood. No vomit. No urine. No stench. It vanishes completely, leaving no trace… no evidence of ever having existed. Except for the broken mirror, the monkey feces all over the walls, the charred front yard, the jagged shards of glass and rusty barbed wire littering the living room floor.

He’s not around to help you clean up. But he’s also not around to wreak havoc anymore. So you begin the task at hand. Slowly, you move room to room, sweeping, vacuuming, mopping up the mess… repainting, replacing windows, tearing down the black plastic, pumping out the poison water and upgrading the well.

And you realize that he was your choice. All along. You made an agreement. You made sacrifices, and you also received some sort of payoff, some reward for your part in the deal. Maybe it was fame. Sex. Glamour. Money. Reputation.

Or maybe it was poverty. Hunger. Sadness. Victimhood status. With rewards like these, there would never be a need to chase your dreams and face your fears, right? You could defer the act of stepping more fully into your power as a leader, an artist, a hero, a poet, a parent, a friend, a lover… and as your fully-realized true self. Maybe even circumvent that discomfort forever. It seemed like a pretty good payoff at the time.

But now you see a deeper truth. Now you sit in the eye of the storm, resting calmly. When it’s time to work, you work, but with peace in your heart. When it’s time to relax, you relax with peace in your heart. As the wind blows the curtains, as the storm outside blows trash down the street, as the wails of the police sirens cry out in the night, as fear and panic and worry and uncertainty work each other over in the alley behind your house to the sound of chains, broken bottles, switchblades and gunfire, through all of it you sit quietly and watch.

The inner calm of your divine living room is a sanctuary for your heart.

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Blue Lotus Feet on iTunes and CD Baby

blue lotus feet logo sticker 4 by 4 clear bkgnd

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bluelotusfeet

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My involvement with Mankind Project (MKP): 21 months later

Back in February of 2013 I wrote about my experience with the New Warrior Training Adventure:  https://triptopine.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/mankind-project-new-warrior-training-adventure-2/

How’s my life now? I’m glad you asked! Life for me has gotten better and better each day; not so much because I’m not dealing with struggle (wife’s cancer diagnosis 11 months ago, chemo for 6 months, doing well now); but rather, because now I am part of a larger community… not just a ‘lone wolf’ out there surviving a ‘cruel world’. (That’s how I used to see things.)

Since I wrote that initial MKP article, I have quit a job that had become a bad fit; spent a year doing part-time work and learning more about who I am; and then found my dream job. I’ve been there a little over a year now.

In addition, I’ve done something I would NEVER have done before MKP: I’ve begun volunteering, in a leadership capacity, for a local conference for preparing 8th grade boys for high school (character development… what does it mean to be a man…). In the past, I have avoided opportunities like this, because I believed that being a leader meant 1) having all of the answers; 2) telling people what to do; and 3) giving up all of one’s time. I thought it would lead to misery, because that’s what I saw all around me.

But the fact is, I feel more alive and energized than ever. I don’t need to have all the answers; I invite brilliant people onto our team. I don’t tell people what to do; I ask questions and offer invitations. 3) I don’t give up all my time; I invest in building relationships with people I admire and respect. It feels amazing.

Sitting in my weekly MKP circle has helped me to build strong relationships with other men in my community, and around the country. Before, I felt isolated, like no one could POSSIBLY understand my pain or sadness. Now I can pick up the phone and easily call 100 men and ask for what I need (knowing I might not get it). And there are MKP men I haven’t even MET yet whom I trust with my truth and my heart. I know they will be real with me, and I can be real with them.

This is the hero’s journey. This is YOUR hero’s journey. You are the hero of your own life. For thousands of years, men like you and me have heard the call of the hero’s journey, and for a time, we resist. That’s what EVERY hero does, initially. I can tell you I was invited to do the NWTA for 3 1/2 years before I decided I was ready to answer the call. And what IS the New Warrior Training Adventure? Simply put, it’s an initiation into the mature masculine.

A few times, I came close to losing out on life. Now I’m so much happier, even when it feels like things are not going my way.

For more information, contact me directly: timbirchard@gmail.com

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Releasing attachment to outcome

(Guidance regarding my recent struggles with someone I used to feel closer to.)

He cannot help but misperceive, out of hatred for himself and lack of ability to recognize his own brilliance– his own expression of my perfection. So everything he perceives reinforces his beliefs about himself, as incorrect as they may be.

Your gentleness will help him.

But release attachment to outcome. Know yourself that all comes to completion satisfactorily; ultimately, there is no “losing” that is possible. Your frustration is a reflection / indication of your lack of faith in me– misplaced faith in the ego. It’s part of your journey.

But you can choose to return home at any moment. “Open, says me!” and the door to the heart is thrown wide open.

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Intuition and intellect

Judgment is the enemy of connection. It starts with self and then projects out onto others, preventing deep, rich human connection that is so often deflected because of your judgments. Why is that?

We see the tactics of the small mind. We see the small mind does not want to run around unguarded. To have deep human connection is to allow oneself to be unguarded by having a completely open heart. To this the small mind must respond often with resistance by creating things that are untrue or unproven in order to place a deflector shield in front of the body… or around the body.

The deflector shield of judgment evokes responses of fear, anger, envy… all of which the scmall  mind uses as disconnects. The small mind says, “Don’t get too close; you’ll be hurt,” while the Divine Soul within you says, “Get close — you’ll be HEART.”

The thing about being in the heart is it requires that the small mind be alert, yet quiet. Here is the key to open heart and open mind: your small mind needs reassurance of safety and when the heart engages in deep connection the small mind becomes disconnected. You must be diligent in practicing integration of all parts of your being, including the small mind. This is the practice of Awareness and the practice of opening the heart at the same time. It is the practice of Wholeness. You could cut off a part of your body to be disconnected from it and that would be ridiculous… just as ridiculous as the small mind’s panic when the heart is doing its thing or the heart “aches” when the small mind engages in its scare tactics.

So the heart must invite the mind i9nto itself, and the mind must invite the heart into itself. It’s as if saying to the parts of yourself, “You are welcome here.” The din of the small mind is quieted by the sense of welcome and no longer needs to jump up and down while screaming, “Here I am! Here I am! Remember me? Ok– let me make my presence known until you pay attention to me!” BAM! There are your judgments, fears, and small mind tactics for attention.

We are not saying there is not a time and a place to pay attention tot eh small mind, for it can keep you safe through its wanderings. We want to remind you that your intuition is just as effective, if not more effective, at serving you as a divine guardian. It works quite well in tandem with an open heart to move you from one point to another without involving the scare tactics of the small mind. Intellect and intuition are two different things that serve different purposes. Intellect analyzes everything, while intuition simply guides you to the place where you need to be, without the need for reasoning. Pay attention to this and begin to practice listening for the difference between these two. See where your heart is in this process of exploration and allow it to open or engage and watch what happens. Don’t judge anything you see in this practice. Simply welcome the small mind and say, “I am listening.” Say this with a gentle smile to keep the heart open and reassure the small mind that all is well.

We also must remind you that self-judgment does not perpetuate an open heart, and that self-judgment spills out into your world through the process of judging others. We want you to pay attention to what you think and judge upon yourself, for that is what you invite into your connection with others. Your heart welcomes the presence of Love, while your judgments only create separation. you can quiet the judgments of the small mind through the love from your open heart. This is what we call you to do.

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The big mistake

“I’m not lovable.” (Also known as, “I’m not good enough.”)

Distill any unhappiness down to its essence, and you will find some variation on this belief. Common stories go something like this: “Someone inflicted trauma, therefore I am unlovable, or not good enough.”

It is understandable how you could draw these conclusions, erroneous though they may be. However, these beliefs (lies) can only be held as long as one perceives through the lens of dualistic (small mind) thinking.

“I’m not lovable” — holding this belief requires the perception that there are two distinct entities, subject and object, and that the subject (the giver of love) refuses to give love to the object (the starving, would-be recipient of love) because the object is not worthy of receiving love.

This is the big mistake.

The truth is not the opposite– “I am lovable” — the truth is “I am LOVE.” How can one not be lovable when one IS the act of LOVE?

“I’m not good enough.” The opposite is not “I am good enough”… the truth is, “I am GOODNESS.”

These misperceptions become habitual thought patterns when you continue to look outside of yourself for validation from external sources; sensory experiences such as relationships, food, clothing, movies, travel… the list goes on.

Your journey of remembering that you are the Source of Love involves healing this misperception.

Instead of looking outward for validation, turn inward. Look to your own heart. That is where you will find the truth that has always been with you: You ARE love. You ARE goodness. You ARE compassion. You ARE hope. You ARE divine wisdom. No matter what behaviors you have or have not exhibited on this plane of existence, your divine nature is unshakable. Unquestionable. Bullet-proof.

Go inward. Turn away from all that you see, hear, touch, taste, smell, and think about. This is known as releasing attachment. It’s perfectly fine to engage in daily life– just do so recognizing that all sensory experience is to be set gently aside… they are not what is important– they are not what matters– they are not what is real. Only the internal world of the heart is real.

Look inward and remember.

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