You Got To Experience Shit Fully

For the past few weeks I have spent an inordinate amount of time asking the same question.  I asked this question to others and myself, never getting a good answer.  Then from a Zen Chaplin the answer was given to me.

I spent the last hour having a conversation with this gentleman.  We meet every so often and talk; just talk about whatever is on our minds. I always look forward to these discussions because I know I will walk away inspired and full of life.

I am standing by the front door getting ready to leave, my coat is on, my hand is on the door knob and I am getting ready to say goodbye. He then proceeds to tell me a story he hadn't yet shared with me. I am standing in a room filled with books and a Jackson Pollack poster hangs on the wall.  I never really got Pollack; people ask me my thoughts on him all the time and I am sure my ambient photography has subtly been influenced by his work. The Chaplin tells me the story of the Ox Herder painting in the Buddhist culture. With an exhausted breath laden with laughter he releases the words: “you need to experience shit fully”.

My question:

Why do we make the decisions that we do? Do we understand the repercussions of our decisions? Question that thought.  More times than not, when we choose on the side of “doubt” we choose sin.

The struggle to answer your own thoughts is the hardest thing that you will ever have to do.  To sit and listen to what your mind creates; to sit with a thought.  But did you create that thought? That thought that you are having right now? Yes, that one right there. Did it arise or did you create it? Are you the manifestor of that thought or merely the witness to what is arising in your conscious?

My answer: “you need to experience shit fully”.

I smile, thank him for his time and walk out into the cold air and bright sun knowing I just had one of those “A-ha!” moments.  I sit in my car and scribble notes down quickly in my journal.  I write “Do more, do less, experience shit fully.” I race home and try my best to describe the conversation to my wife. I am never good at this. I just had this life awakening God-slap-moment and when trying to get the words back out of my mouth in some sort of order it sounds so simple. Mind numbingly simple...it is always simple. Why is it that when you have a sudden realization of a great truth that it sounds so maddeningly simple when you say it out loud??

If I ever made what would be considered a pilgrimage, it was to City Lights bookstore in San Francisco Ca. The mecca for some of my favorite writers: Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and Henry Miller all spent time in this store, both socially, politically and to sell books.

It was some time in the early nineties when I found out that I would be going to San Francisco.  I would be flying out of Pittsburgh, my first trip ever to the West Coast for a photography business trip. It still feels odd after all these years to use the words photo and business in the same sentence, but you gotta pay the mortgage.

Ok, so this is the early nineties, before Google maps and before I had money to pay a taxi driver to take me to City Lights book store before I had the common seance to route out a plan. I had a map of a bus station and a page torn out of the yellow pages taken from my hotel night stand.

I stayed at a hotel over by Fisherman’s Wharf.  The bookstore is a short jaunt by car or long walk right down Columbus Ave. in the heart of San Fran. Three bus stops later, and being lost for over 2hrs, I discover the closeness of my proximity.

This is life: experiencing shit fully, lost in a city and living the words of my favorite writer trying to find my way. This memory came back to me after the Zen Chaplain spoke those words.

Life is about non-stop creating.  Do not give up on being human. This has been my message that I have been shouting from the mountain top. If you stop creating then you give up on being human.  The body wants to be in creating mode at all time.  Creating itself anew is the basic condition essential to support biological growth.  This is how we are made up; the blood never stops flowing.  The body does this on its own.  The mind needs help. The mind will shut down and stop trying if we do not guide it, feed it, place effort and purpose into it.

Creativity is the fuel that move us...internally and externally. 

We create purposefully or the body creates disease, that is what our conversation was about.

Question that thought…is it really true?

It's odd to be told that your are healthy. People get put off when they are told that they are well.  "No, not me I have this problem, I have this ache, I take this pill", they will say.

What is healthy? No fatigue? Good blood work? A small waist line? A person who takes no pills? A person who sleeps well? A person who says their prayers and eats their vegetables?

Good health is experiencing shit fully. Do more, do less, change your routine, get off the treadmill of redundancy, stop reliving Groundhog Day.

Create something new.
Share it with somebody.