Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kids and Drugs

**Note: I wrote this one maybe a day or so after the previous post. I tried to get this published in the Opinions section of the Danville Register and Bee, but the decision-maker never responded to my email. I may very well pursue this avenue again, but for different pieces.**

Kids and Drugs
Sean Michael Barker

In grade school, I was taught that journalism addresses the five W’s: who, what, where, when, and why. I emphasize the last one because a recent series of articles in the Register and Bee left me hanging, wondering why a group of middle school students are abusing and distributing Xanax. Surely, I am not alone in my bafflement. 

I’m no stranger to drugs. I’ve been exposed to alcohol and marijuana since my own middle school days, and when I went to college, I came across a vast array of psychoactive substances, from prescription pills to hallucinogens to cocaine and heroin. I’ll go ahead and admit to some experimentation, but I’ll leave it vague and say that, to this day, I feel very comfortable with the decisions I made. 

Still, I am alarmed that people in this generation that is only one behind my own (I’m 23) are using harder substances at increasingly younger ages—in Dry Fork, Virginia no less. Drug use in college makes sense to me. There’s something of a cultural imperative to “find oneself” in a context full of youthful agency and free of parents. Plus, at least at the school I attended (William and Mary), there’s a persistent pressure to succeed, and the professors don’t exactly make it easy to do so. Pretty much all of my college friends used something at some point to relax, to escape from a bleak day-to-day, to explore altered states of consciousness, or to bond with one another. And, around exam time, there’s an incredibly robust black market for study aides. Drug culture, I can report, has become the mainstream in the American university. 

But what on earth could a middle school student have to contend with that would impute drug use? What manner of lows are they experiencing that, for them, necessitate an artificial high? What are they so anxious or restless about?

One obvious possible answer is the ceaseless, pervasive problem that confronts every generation of Danville/Pittsylvania youth: boredom. Simply put, there is nothing to do here that appeals to young people, and the same-old patterns of school/church/consumption become tiring once the inevitability of adulthood and its promised “freedoms” come into view. When lacking other options, kids find their fun in all the wrong places. Maybe someday we’ll work with our young people to address this in a manner that suits all interests.

But I suspect that there is something much more serious at work here. After all, if boredom alone were the culprit, we would have been popping pills ten years ago. It seems clear to me that what we are seeing now is the coming-of-age of a new Lost Generation. And I for one can fully understand why they would be so lost. 

Since feminism, the double-income/no stay-at-home-parent household has become the norm in middleclass America. The 70s brought us the idea that women should be considered equal to men, while the 80s and 90s ushered in the modern era of rampant materialism and a somewhat grotesque obsession with ever-increasing access to technological niceties. Each year brought us a fresh wave of must-have gadgets and gizmos, new things that promised to make our lives richer and more fulfilling. Our culture quickly adapted to each onslaught of expensive developments such that luxuries became “necessities.” To keep up with the Joneses, mothers left the home and went into the workforce, where they were now welcome and—thanks to Affirmative Action legislation—nearly recruited. 

Though these parents meant well, and their kids did indeed enjoy having the latest video games, cell phones, and music-playing devices, the price of all this was ultimately much greater than mere dollars and cents. 

We have become a generation—now two generations—raised on fast food, internet, and cable television. Over half of us are the products of broken homes. For the overwhelming majority of us, the idea of a “home-cooked meal” means something that came from a box that a tired mother slapped together within 20 minutes after returning from her 9-to-5. Most of us probably ate that meal in front of a television set. Anything resembling “family time” was spent frustratingly avoiding real conversation, waiting for the chance to leave the table and chat with friends online. The art of domesticity has been reduced to another consumerist cult, and the idea of parenting as an endeavor has all but gone out the window entirely. 

Families run on auto-pilot these days, cycling through the same patterns of instituted separation, collective consumption, mutual avoidance, and sleep. Children become more identified with their schoolmates and with pop culture than with their parents simply because these are the forces that take up all of their attention and quality time. Similarly, parents think of themselves primarily in terms of their career, leaving little-to-no energy or attention to invest in the home. Parents and children have no basis for relating to one another, and plenty of distractions to occupy their time. And so they simply do not communicate with any degree of quality or depth. 

Is it any wonder, then, that today’s young people would look for something more? What do we expect from a generation who learn their values through Myspace, Youtube, and MTV? Have you seen the crap they put on television these days? 

And then there’s the question of access. The way I figure it, we either have one or more corrupt pharmacist in Danville, or these kids are stealing pills from their parents and relatives. Frankly, the latter seems the much more plausible possibility.  Middle schoolers can’t drive to CVS, after all. 

Caught up in the rat race of working and spending, and unable to handle the reality of the black hole of meaningless that has become their lives, parents are increasingly resorting to psychoactive prescriptions that enable them to persist without perceiving any of the problems that continue to build around them. If parents are buying their happiness in a bottle, why are we surprised that their children are seeking it from the same source? And who’s really to blame, when that’s the case?

What these young people and others like them who have yet to be caught need is not our punishment and collective public ridicule, but rather our compassion and attention. Certainly, an event like this is disappointing, but we must be holistic in our consideration of the factors that create such a grave situation. As much as these kids have let us down, we have let them down. Parents, pastors, community leaders, and, yes, even our schools have seriously dropped the ball with respect to these kids. Instead of shipping them off to alternative school, why don’t we ask them about their lives? Why don’t we find out what the root of this problem is, and address it directly? Surely we aren’t so dense as to assume that these 11 students comprise the entirety of the local middle school drug scene. If we allow this incident to drift into the recesses of our public consciousness, we will continue to see our young people resorting to destructive behaviors. 

Kids grow up fast these days, and the very concept of innocence has tragically lost its currency in the cable television/internet era. But what if we’re all still innocent, in a sense? What if these kids truly do not understand what they are doing to themselves, simply because they have not been taught any better? Who are the role models in their lives, and how do the words and actions of these adults influence their adolescents’ behavior? If you ask me, these students are only reflecting the reality of their environment. Rather than pointing the finger at them, calling them the guilty ones, perhaps all of us should examine our own guilt with regards to this matter. Until we do so, healing and progress cannot and will not occur. 

Danville and the Economics of Global Power

**I wrote this maybe three weeks ago. I hope to get this published in one of Danville's papers, but I somehow think that may be unlikely. Maybe even unwise. Comments appreciated.**

Danville and the Economics of Global Power
Sean Michael Barker

“Blind with the wickedness / Deep in your heart, / Modern-day wickedness / Is all you’ve been taught. / Lied to your neighbor / So you get ahead, / Modern-day trickery / Is all you’ve been fed.”  Lauryn Hill, “Motives and Thoughts”

Born and raised right here in Danville, I took a 5-year hiatus to go to college, have some adventures, and find myself. I moved back here at the beginning of this year, and I now see my hometown in a different light, with a fuller sense of clarity. I feel compelled to share my perspective with Danvillians, in hopes that it can offer solutions to the problems we commonly experience. I do not mean to offend herein, but I will not sacrifice candor at the altar of political correctness. 

When I look around this town, I see an endless string of depression. I speak here both of the economic depression that has been ours all the long and is now sweeping the nation, and of the deep emotional void that comes with a complete sense of displacement. We are a depressed community, from top to bottom, left to right, and black to white. In our collective numbness, we may not feel it from moment to moment, but our misery is recorded on our faces, in our bodies, in our habits, ideas, and in our self-presentations. We all are lacking and longing for something more, and we wear this reality as if it were a skin. 

Economics is but one facet of existence, and yet—here especially—it is one that wields an inexplicable, incredible power to affect all others. In Danville, Virginia, our approach to economics is killing us from the inside out. My education has provided me with a global perspective on the inseparability of economics, power, and oppression, and this is what I intend to offer here: a bird’s-eye view of Danville’s position within the global economic superstructure, how it affects us, and what we can do to change it. I will begin by providing a snapshot of the present-day manifestation of power on the global scale. 

Global power is best represented geometrically in the form of a pyramid. The few at the top get their power from the many at the bottom. The base of the pyramid supports the entire structure, and without it, the whole would cease to exist. The base represents the poor, the top represents the rich, and the gradients in between represent the middle classes who separate the extremes of have and have-not. It is no coincidence that the ancient Egyptians built the Great Pyramids using Israelite slave labor: the structures became the physical manifestations of Egypt’s hierarchical caste system.  

At the global level, economies are created and regulated to serve the interests of those in power. This is apparent when we examine the major political bodies in which we invest authority over ourselves: the rich rule the poor. Even in the United States, which purports to be the world’s largest democracy, it is clear that a hierarchy exists, and that only those who are at the top can have any real say in what policies are implemented and executed. America is unique in that it is possible to traverse from bottom to top, but only insofar as one is willing to serve the interests of the elite in exchange for material security, to “sell out,” as we say. Even then, there are people in this country who, simply because of the conditions into which they are born, will never have a real chance at success or any manner of influence within our political/economic sphere. 

People base their entire lives on trying to move up within the structure, to secure a greater degree of material comfort relative to their position of origin. Though on an individual scale, this struggle and its journey can be rewarding and, in a superficial sense, fulfilling, the realities of poverty and depression persist because everyone is only concerned with “getting theirs.” 

Though our pyramid is admittedly more fluid than most, it is still a pyramid, and the only truly variable segment is the middle class. Upward mobility generally occurs in the space between the top of the bottom and the bottom of the top. In other words, it takes money to make money. The system is set up such that the only way to get money is to play into it, to become party to the scheme that supports the ruling class. Middleclass people are thus more identified with the wealthy than they are with the poor. They long to become rich, and so they absorb the values fed to them by the haves in hopes of breaking into that bracket. On the whole, they shun the poor and seek with every effort to distance themselves from the very people who produce the capital that provides their relative comfort.

As the middle classes admire the rich and seek to become them, the rich shun and distance themselves from the middle class. To the wealthy, everyone below them is expendable and abject. The middle class functions to keep the lower class from uprising; it serves as a buffer that insures the safety of the rulers and their riches. They know this, and they do all in their power to keep the middle class identified with them, while simultaneously controlling who can and cannot break into their ranks. 

The people at the top of the pyramid are constantly crafting strategies that keep the system in place. Divide and conquer is the name of the game; they want us to be at war and in competition with each other, so that we do not unite against them. Any and all manners of splintering strategies are employed in this pursuit, and, on the whole, they are doing a really good job at keeping us working against each other while they sit untouched by our efforts. 

The rich and powerful are working singularly toward a penultimate goal: total world domination. This may sound far-fetched and melodramatic, but it is absolutely true and they are very close to succeeding. When you examine the progression of world affairs over the course of the last century, it is clear that power is shifting from the many to the few, and that World Government—once a very unpopular and supposedly unlikely idea—is gradually taking hold. A few basic developments that evidence this include NAFTA, the EU, the UN, the World Bank and IMF, Codex Alimentarius, and so forth.  Without going into detail, I will say that, having researched these topics extensively, it is my belief that the elite of nearly all nations are working together toward this end, and that their intentions are sinister and detrimental to most humans. From this point forward, I will refer to these people and their co-conspirators as “the Globalists.” 

In pursuit of a single government and total domination, the Globalists have created a system of economic interdependence that binds together nations all around the world in a web of trade agreements. When you wonder why 80% of the products in your home come from eastern Asia, and why our country is so indebted to China, this is the reason. Globalized trade necessitates globalized regulation, in addition to creating entire industries such as international shipping and distribution. Multinational corporations, most of which were seeded by old money, have a distinct advantage in a global market: the ability to operate on a large scale due to the enormous amounts of capital required to do so. Thus, increasingly, world trade is being run by super-conglomerate, privately owned firms that dominate and monopolize markets of all sorts. Each of these corporations employ the same pyramid structure that the Globalists use; thus, within any of these entities, the many at the bottom are working to support the few at the top. As their agenda progresses, fewer individual firms will be providing the basic needs to the world’s masses, and these entities—backed by World Government—will have the authority to determine the rules by which they and their consumers operate. Invariably, these rules will further enforce the agenda of the haves at the expense of the have-nots. 

So how does Danville figure into this picture? Though we have our own class structure locally, our own definitions of “have” and “have-not,” Danville is, on the whole, a city of slaves to the global system. The biggest employers in town are all national and/or multinational firms, and the wealth created by local employees goes, for the most part, to already-rich individuals and families located somewhere else. The average Danvillian works for someone (s)he has never even seen. Furthermore, the majority of consumer outlets here are similarly “foreign-owned” in nature. The profits received by these businesses also go somewhere far away from Danville. 

As an illustration, imagine that Joe Danville works 40 hours a week at Goodyear, as a typical, bottom-of-the-pyramid, factory-floor employee. He spends a great deal of his time and energy supporting a superstructure that does not care about him and will never compensate him adequately for his life’s work, which is, to him, meaningless. He then spends his earnings maintaining a home, a vehicle bought from a multinational firm (even the American firms are multinational), and the rest he spends on niceties and necessities most likely bought at Wal-Mart. So, the money he earned slaving away his life, in large part, goes outside of this region to support the efforts of rich people who want to be richer. Does anything about this picture strike you as inappropriate? Or at least unfortunate?

This is the reality of Danville’s economy. We have slowly been taken over by enormous corporate superpowers that do not have any vested interest in our community’s wellbeing and are literally siphoning off our very life-force in the name of greed. As a whole, we are the base of the pyramid providing the time and energy needed to generate the excessive lifestyles of the rich. In this game, we are the losers. 

And, as the losers, we are relegated to lives of misery and meaningless labor. This is the root of our collective depression. Our economy is weak because all of our labor is wasted on outside interests, and all of the goods we consume come from somewhere else, with the profits going somewhere else. Having a weak economy necessitates that each individual work longer and harder to make ends meet, and this leads to an enormous deficit in our quality of life. As we become more and more drained by this system, we take out our frustrations on one another and lose the sense of community belonging that characterizes a fulfilling existence. In a ceaseless effort to fill our voids, we resort to over-consumption of just about everything, and unhealthy behaviors. This only makes the void grow larger, in addition to further draining our already scarce resources. 

Perhaps the most psychologically damaging part of this reality is the complete sense of powerlessness created by this dynamic. I have heard many a wise local quip that, should Goodyear or any of Danville’s major employers decide to leave (a very likely possibility), the town would undoubtedly go under. “Depression” would take on new meaning. Our entire livelihoods depend on the whims and financial conjectures of people who are, again, far away and totally unmoved by matters such as our quality of life. We have forfeited our destiny to these capitalists, and we all know and feel this from the center of our being. 

I have painted a really bleak picture here, but I hope that by identifying the root of the problem, the solution is then clear. If we desire to take control of our destinies and improve our quality of life, we must take back our sovereignty from these entities and work for the good of our community. The truth of the matter is, no matter how powerful these corporations may be, they depend on us to a far greater degree than we depend on them. We are the base of the pyramid, after all, and they are only the tip. Our situation is ultimately determined by the sum of every decision that we, as individuals and as a community, make. 

If we stopped shopping at Wal-Mart and started supporting our local producers, our purchasing power would remain within our borders. If we stopped slaving away for the benefit of far-removed corporatists and started investing our energies in the betterment of the Dan River Valley region, our work would gain greater meaning for us, and our lives would improve tremendously. In short, we need to reject the pyramid in favor of a circular economic model. We have the ability to take charge of our lives, to take the time and energy we currently spend supporting rich outsiders and use it to build wealth within our community. We can start producing everything that we could possibly need right here within our region. We can then choose to support local production efforts and keep our money in local hands. Instead of going to an unknown destination, our economic power would stay right here. 

As more wealth is generated and kept here, our local sovereignty would increase as would each individual’s ability to build a life of great quality. We possess within us the possibility of becoming self-sufficient, leaving this mess of a life behind and building something better from the ground up. It would take a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but it would be well worth the efforts if we would only take the initiative and make it real. 

I ask the reader to examine his or her life within the framework that I have laid out here. What decisions are we making on a daily basis that contribute to our collective misery? How does each purchase, each hour spent at work affect your quality of life and that of your neighbors? Do you even care?

If we each start with ourselves, then move toward organizing and acting as a community, the path to freedom and self-determination will become crystal-clear. If we choose to love ourselves, our neighbors, and our community more than we love the comfort and security provided us by our captors, we will surely prevail over them. Our work is certainly cut out for us; everything about our culture is designed to prevent us from doing such a thing. But we can do it, if we choose to do it.

I ask you to believe in yourself and your community. I ask you to entertain the possibility that there is more to life than an endless cycle of meaningless labor and consumption. I ask you to view your life through a new lens and make changes that work to your and everyone else’s benefit. 

It all starts with one. If we change our minds, we change our world. Let’s make the decision to make life better, and let’s get to work. We won’t have the ability to choose to do so much longer if we don’t act now. 

The Erotic and the Thanatoic

**Note: I wrote this in October 2008, and it was the first essay I'd completed since college and I was quite proud of it at the time. I felt accomplished. I still like the essay, but my life has changed a bit such that this still applies, but not as neatly as it once did. In any case, I hope someone out there can make use of it.**

One of the foundational essays upon which I’ve built my personal life philosophy is Audre Lorde’s “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power.” I was a college sophomore when I first read this revolutionary piece, and admittedly somewhat dense and naïve. Lorde used this word “Erotic”—which I had previously associated primarily with Madonna and all that was risqué, forbidden, and abject—to describe a beautiful spiritual force deep within women that could guide each to her greatest sense of fulfillment and liberation. I found myself thoroughly seduced by Lorde’s conception of the Erotic and what it could do for women, though I was somewhat dismayed and jealous that, as I male, I was presumably excluded from its power.  

It was perhaps this idea that women had “something extra” within themselves, some access to mystical, non-rational truth that led me to explore gender and, for a period, identify wholly with all things feminine. In a peculiar reversal, I willingly relinquished my male privilege in the hope of finding this mysterious source of energy and knowledge. I centralized the feminine in every aspect of my being: my external persona, my aesthetic, my thoughts. I gravitated toward the great songstresses of the twentieth century, most notably Nina Simone. I would spend hours listening to ballads of love unrequited, lost, and abused and try to experience the artists’ pain as if it were my own. It was through this phase of my life, this identification with women and their emotional experiences that I came into my own as an emotional being. To this day, I find it incredibly unfortunate and counter-intuitive that my culture denied me this way of being by codifying me as a male, and that I had to suppress my masculine qualities in order to open my heart—but that’s a different narrative altogether. 

By allowing myself the space to explore traditionally “feminine” emotional experience, I opened my heart enough to be able to tap into the Spiritual and find the Erotic that was, surely enough, inside me the whole time. I know now that all humans have the ability to find this source of inner strength, and that Lorde’s characterization of the Erotic as feminine is accurate only to the point where emotions themselves are considered to be the exclusive domain of women. Indeed, I have found its clarity and its power to be a magnificent, even divine force within my life, and it is thus that I want to share it with as many people as I possibly can. With this piece, I hope to describe the Erotic and how one can activate it within her/his life. I’ll also explicate what I know of its “evil” twin, the Thanatoic.  

I’ll start with the feeling itself. Perhaps you’ve had points in your life where you felt completely at home. There is no fear, no doubt, no wondering. You are totally in the moment, well aware of your vitality and of the infinite value of the present. A deep warmth grows within you, and you can feel yourself relaxing and relinquishing all of your pain into the beauty that is the very substance of life. As a child, I would call this “the Christmas feeling,” because I’d experience it every Christmas at my grandmother’s house. This is what I would now refer to as an Erotic hot flash. They happen during the moments where we feel the greatest sense of Love. No matter what the impetus for the feeling—person, place, thing, or idea—the love remains the same and activates within us a powerful and comforting arousal. For me, it feels as if a warm hand from Heaven is hugging me, assuring me that everything is and will remain okay.  

I’m sure the biologists have their explanation for this phenomenon. It likely has to do with glands releasing chemicals that give us exactly what we need at that moment to ensure our greatest chance of reproducing. As a non-biologist and a non-reproducer, I can only account for what I feel when these moments occur, and give you my interpretation of where the feeling comes from and what it seems to be trying to accomplish. I believe in a God, and that there’s another side to this reality that we cannot perceive using only our designated “five senses.” I believe in destiny and synchronicity, and that, ultimately, We are all expressions of the same entity. At our core, we are perfect and beautiful. Each of us has an individual path, making us a perceptual cornucopia of diversity; but, ultimately, we all came from and are headed to the same place: eternal Light and Love. As created beings, we have the capacity to feel and interact with Creation—including those parts that we cannot see, smell, hear, touch, or taste. Those glands and their chemicals are the physical stuff that allows us to perceive energies that cannot come through any of the organs that receive the stimuli that we call our traditional senses.  

In other words, the feeling of Love does not simply generate itself within us; Love pours itself into us like water into a vase. When we inhabit a particular place in space and time, or do, think, or say something that brings us closer to everlasting Love, our Creator gives us an intense dosage, so that we remember the moment and the events surrounding it. These places, people, thoughts, and actions we love simply for their own sake are what we are designed for. We are creatures of Love, and with Love we wish to remain. If we simply follow our feelings, they will gravitate us toward Love every time. When we get these feelings of warmth, happiness, and divine protection, God is telling us that, as we delight, so does He delight with us. These are the moments that clearly guide us toward our destinies, letting us know that there is a Heaven, and that we can have it here on Earth if we only follow our hearts. Like moths to a flame, God guides us toward his warmth, and that is where we most want to be at the end of it all. We need only follow these moments to get to where we are going.  

As Lorde says, “The erotic is a measure between our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-respect we can require no less of ourselves.” Indeed, when it becomes obvious to us the reason we were blessed such an infusion of bliss, we can no longer deny the Truth within our bodies and still claim that we love ourselves. Striving for more of these moments, and for more of this feeling in our every moment, is the task that befalls us, for it is in this pursuit that we become most fully ourselves.  

Self-actualization is the place where our every decision, every movement is consistent with the core of our being. It is perfection—not in the traditional, homogenizing sense—but in a deeply personal and spiritual sense that defines connection to the Divine. Outside forces such as culture and the economy give us a laundry list of attributes to which we should aspire. To the extent that such intentions do not produce an erotic impulse within us—or, worse, produce an opposite effect—they constitute sin against the Self. By denying the person on the inside, we deny the Divine within us. We delay the process of self-actualization and bear false witness to the reality of our being. We should instead obey our core, and cultivate its vitality within us. In other words, we should seek with all of our energy in every moment to find Erotic quality in our existence. We should always move toward that which will most intrinsically please us. We must strive to be ourselves, and be happy. 

Sometimes, we slip so far into darkness, so far away from being our True Selves, that we cannot even fathom an erotic moment. Indeed, Iniquity is so powerful at this historical juncture that there are those among us who have never experienced such a feeling. Most of us—at least those of us who were fortunate to have an innocent and happy childhood—have known intrinsic pleasure, but have long forgotten it in the abyss that is modern living. In times when we are so far from the light that it cannot even touch us—let alone inspire, arouse, and overcome us---the Erotic’s twin brother steps in to guide us along our path. I have decided to refer to this as the Thanatoic, or the feeling of Death.  

Essentially, the Thanatoic is the same thing as the Erotic, but pointed in the opposite direction. It is what Freud might call our death drive, or our physical attraction to our own destruction. Its pull is every bit as powerful as the Erotic, but one instead feels the terror of heading toward his demise. When it hits me, it is the most fearful experience I’ve ever had. At its strongest, I feel nearly devoured by fear, holding on to life by a thread. More commonly, though, I experience an awareness of death, and my environment manifests a reflection of this awareness. Conversations, for instance, may turn toward the topics of dying or of those who have died recently. Whenever I get this feeling, I understand that my present situation is not ideal for me, and is ultimately serving to my demise. In order to avoid this sensation again, I must alter my situation and the pattern of behavior that created it.  

This moment, though horrendous in many respects, is in fact a gift from God. He has allowed me the clarity of understanding that my actions and decisions are leading me astray, and that the path to everlasting Life and Love is in fact straight and narrow. I must forfeit the falsities within my being and return to my true and most Self. The intensity of the feeling lets me know how serious my deviance has become. As I stray further and further, more death-consciousness enters my being, and eventually I get an overwhelming dosage of Fear that is jaunting enough to force me back onto the path. At that moment—in the state of emergency—clarity returns, and I remember that I am not owed a second chance (let alone a fourth or fifth). I come to value Life more, and the true Self within me, and I know beyond knowing that adhering to its principles and directives is my only real option. Moral ambiguity falls far to the wayside when one looks upon the face of Death.

Given my experiences with these two self-same, magnificent forces, I’ve come to develop a mental image that I feel precisely captures the human condition, as viewed through this lens. All of us exist in the space between infinite Fear and infinite Love. Each side is pulling us toward itself in a ceaseless metaphysical tug-of-war. Ultimately, both sides take us to the same place. We are always headed toward our next state of existence, which—within the sensory paradigm that restricts our thinking in this life—appears to be nonexistence. What we feel the moment we enter that next state of existence will completely define its nature as we will experience it. Everyone chooses which force he wants to submit to and effectively “die” into. Though all roads lead to the same place ultimately, I find that my experience of the Erotic is much more pleasing and comforting than my experience of the Thanatoic. Given the choice—which I am—I would prefer to die into Love and experience an entire lifetime of its energy than align myself with Fear and carry its weight for an eternity. Thus, I will obey the Self within, and persistently move toward the life-giving force of the Erotic as a lab rat moves toward cheese and as flowers grow faithfully toward the Sun. I know that, as long as I keep pursuing the Truth that is inscribed into the center of my being, the Almighty will bless me with His Love and Grace, and will one day take me into His everlasting embrace.

First Entry - Intro

Hello all!

For those of you who know me, you may or may not (probably wouldn't) realize that this is my first blogging venture since my early-college Livejournaling days. Back then I was a confused little lad trying to sort out my emotions in a public/voyeuristic forum, and livejournal was the perfect fit for those purposes. I must admit, as hokie as it was, and as embarrassed as I would be to even look at it now, getting things written down and having other people read them was quite helpful in its way. 

Things are different now. I am older, and have a fuller sense of self. I still have emotions, and the really complex ones still confuse me, but I have a much clearer perspective on who I am, what I want, and (sometimes) where I'm going. So, what I'm trying to say is: don't expect me to air the tumultuous details of my travels in Love, my family issues, or anything of the sort. This blog will be a different thing entirely. 

I'm creating this because I very much need a space to share my ideas with others. I've been doing a fair amount of writing since I graduated college, and have even completed some pieces. I want to post those, and to use this blog as a motivating force to write more. I'm not sure what sort of audience this will or won't attract, but I do hope to eventually have real readers who are interested in what I have to say and willing to offer useful feedback. 

I'll round this out by decribing my current position in life. I graduted from the College of William and Mary in May 2007, and spent the subsequent year and a half "finding myself" as they say. Through a failed pursuit, an emotional roller coaster ride, the right combination of common illicit drugs, and a lotta help from my friends, I got there. I found my center, met my spirit, and am now ready to offer whatever the world can use of me. Because I want to get to know my family better, I moved back to my hometown of Danville, VA and currently live with my Dad. I work as a waiter at the local Outback Steakhouse, and am *very* ready by this point to leave the food service industry. I have no regrets, but I can definitely appreciate those who make career-oriented decisions when picking their college majors and after-graduation plans. That was never my bag, and I'm satisfied with the hand I'm dealt. 

As far as career plans, I hope to pursue alternative healing/preventative medicine, writing, and performing. This is the year in which I invest in these deeply personal interests. I'm continuing a pursuit that I began over a year ago of perfecting my eating habits, and I joined a gym last week. In the near future, I hope to start taking Tai Chi and singing lessons. Gradually, I will get to the point where I can transition out of shitty, what-I-gotta-do jobs and into moneymaking ventures that further my personal goals. I have faith that this will happen.

I have a tremendous amount of faith in general. I feel the Creator in my every waking moment, and I trust her/his/its movements and design. Without a doubt, a big theme that will develop herein is my walk in faith and how it affects my personal life and my worldview. Many if not all of my posts will in some way relate to my belief in the Divine. Others will wax political and/or poetic. I'm not entirely sure what kinds of pieces will come out of this, but these are previews that I'm confident in offering at this point. 

I could probably go on, but nothing interesting would come of it. If you're real and reading this, thank you, and welcome to the little world that is my mind! Please leave a comment or something. And, I can always be emailed at 

Much love,

Sean Barker