Autumn’s Bounce

3 11 2017

Biscayne Bay NP

The cool breezes have arrived at long last in the southern reaches of the United States.

Battered by hurricanes, Floridians are picking up the pieces of a life that seems to consist of at least one dangerous weather pattern a year. The Governor is well versed in crisis management. The Winter White House must be protected, after all.

And at any cost.

Looking inward, a self assessment seems in order. Why is America here? Who decided it would be such a great thing to settle 20 million people in a swamp?

If there are advantages to such stressed living conditons it must be an enduring ecosystem immune to certain invasive species. People do want to come here — for a variety of reasons. I’d prefer to push into South America and learn why that is.

Meanwhile, David says to trust God. He does his morning yoga poses and goes off into the community eager to serve. Working two jobs at the age of 70 while volunteering countless hours to the democratic party. He continually amazes me and I am eternally grateful for him coming into my life — and staying.

I am giving more time to friends who care about our shared health and well being and less to those who do not. That should be automatic but is much harder to practice in reality. I do not think I can make a difference, I know I can. Thus comes responsible action and deeper understanding.

Ah maturity.

Having recently celebrated my 45th birthday, I am aware of how satisfied I should be at this stage of life.

“You are still here,” our couples’ therapist said to me.

Yes, I am still here and it is quite remarkable considering all of the adventures. Coming to South Florida was an assignment in learing how to rebuild and make a way beyond familiar ground. I have learned a great deal about politics, the environment, minority communities, recovery, celebrity culture and the list goes on. I am beginning to learn what marriage means. Raising children is next.

I am by no means broken but very aware that no one goes through life unblemished. The perfect image Americans insist their leaders have was destroyed during the last presidential election. In the world of geeks, it’s Kingpins over Spidermen. Superman is truly a myth and the Jedi have been driven into exile.

Spooks own the hour now. The news still carries at least one mass terrorist attack story a week. But we forget about it after a few weeks and the dead become linked to a city or a school or a nightclub. It will depress you if you let it.

I choose not to. I am also choosing my media, information and entertainment outlets very carefully.

It has been a tough year. For a lot of us. I am thankful the holiday season is approaching and I can decorate the apartment. Maturity brings awareness of how precious life is. Now is the time to cherish our loves.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements




Ocala Can You Hear Me?

10 07 2017

OcalaFarm

In search of healing we were introduced to Ayahuasca by a Brazilian shaman. Geraldo arranged it. We drove north into horse country to find it.

I was surprised to get the last minute invitation. It came via a text late Friday night after I had deactivated my Facebook and realized I had no clue where my next paycheck would come from. Before I could wallow in self pity Geraldo rode to the rescue.

His best friend from South America was here.

Cristina was her name. She was powerful and wise. A mother of two children. Girlfriend to Carlos. Healer of many.

Before Geraldo and I found Cristina’s campground we drove through the rolling hillside farm country. Some of the farms were quite immaculate with freshly cut lawns and thoroughbred horses grazing the fields. The oak trees in this part of the country were large with thick clumps of moss hanging from their branches. They were an oasis for cattle herds from the sun’s mighty rays.

Geraldo had been in Ecuador. He was a heavy man now. He said our trek into the North Florida farmlands would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. He described it as an circle of healing — spiritual not sexual. That was good enough for me.

David gave his blessing and we left Pompano Beach in a brand new volkeswagen jetta. Early July and the heat in full effect. We made good time on the turnpike pushing into Ocala around the four-hour mark.

“You’re going to drink with us, John?” she asked as we approached the campfire.

“Yes,” I said.

Geraldo warned it could get ugly. Vomiting, diarreha of the worst. He advised I fast the night before and refrain from drugs and eating meat. This was a cleasening, he said…to decide who I wanted to be and to release the demons of the past.

Cristina helped with that. She wore a yellow feather in her hair. At the ceremony she dressed in a beautifully beaded long red dress. Carlos was ever at her side. He was standoffish at first but when we spoke was assured the cleansing from this Amazon vine was what we all needed.

Carlos, Geraldo and I gathered wood for the fire. For the ceremony, I laid on my wolf blanket from Yellowstone. The one Anne gave me. Four candles were placed around the fire pit. After lighting the fire, Cristinia offered the Ayahuasca. It was bitter and hard to swallow. I took one sip and gave the cup back. She encouraged me to finish the cup and I did.

Once the drink had been passed around the circle, Cristina began to sing her native songs with accompaniment on the drums and guitar by Carlos. Her chants were passionate and in dialects I had never heard before. She moved around the fire, always stablizing herself in a yoga-like pose before another cry into the night. The Ayahuasca began to take its effect and soon my ears felt unclogged from years of swimming in cholrine dosed pools.

My senses began to peak. I could hear other sounds from the wild near and far. I could hear my heart beating again. It was a full moon rising….

TO BE CONTINUED

 

 

 





Retreating into the Heart

25 10 2011

The word ‘retreat’ has always bothered me.

I don’t like the whole concept, really, as it puts one into a defeatist attitude. Nevertheless, I went on a retreat this weekend — deep into the North Florida woods — where a group of gay men gathered to talk about their past, present and clouded future.

Baggage was brought and left and I am much more enlightened for the experience.

The group was assembled across generational lines. I wasn’t the youngest there, but not nearly the oldest. Some of the men were accompanied by their significant other, partner, lover or husband. Whatever term you prefer.

Others came alone and it showed.

We were assigned cabins and received three meals a day inside a mess hall style kitchen that reminded me of my summer camp days as a happy go lucky youth. I was so care free then, unaware of the issues awaiting in grownup life. Now those issues were staring me in the face.

Each day of the retreat featured a ‘heart circle’ in which the participants would gather under one roof and talk about whatever came to mind. Sometimes, the confessions carried tears.

As legend has it, men are supposed to be strong, especially men of the wilderness, but, true is, we are all granted a few tender moments. As I listened intently to each man tell his story, I searched for empathy and, at times, it was difficult.  The last few years have hardened my heart and I wonder if I have lost the ability to grieve. Or maybe, I have grieved too much. Is this what a doctor experiences?

Death and mortality, subjects of popular discussion during the weekend, and yet I came away from the retreat feeling more alive and empowered than ever.

On the final night, we were asked to gathered around a fire pit. A cold front had sweep into the Florida Panhandle over the weekend making conditions unusually chilly this time of year. Such made the fire pit an even more welcome venue.

The facilitator asked each of us to write down something that we wanted to give up on a notecard and throw it into the fire. David had passed me his note just after dinner. He would not make it to the fire that night, but both of our notes went up and flames and, God willingly, we are both free of weighty problems.

All in all, despite a somber feel, this weekend was a good experience inside a valuable support group. I learned a lot, but above all, I learned that gay men face many battles throughout life and because of that, a retreat, however difficult, is required.

 

 

 

 

 





Writing for Courage

29 09 2011

Thursday morning listening to Adam Levine’s “Moves like Jagger” and writing cover letters to editors. And it goes like this:

Physically I have never been stronger. Wisdom, from years of surrounding myself with mature friends, is starting to pay off. My social network has opened doors that were no doubt locked a few years ago.

A recent trip to Philadelphia opened my eyes to the current climate of the media business. Newspapers continue to cut staff and lay off journalists, while the blogosphere gradually grows and builds influence.

David, my stalwart companion, has been preaching this tune for some time now.

“You have to free yourself from that ‘working for a paycheck’ mentality,” he continues to say.

Meanwhile, David continues to carry the load for the two of us financially and while this has always bothered my manly, independent pride, it has also allowed me to regroup, rebuild and demonstrate that I am, indeed, capable of producing again.

On the political scene, I’m still attending meetings and staying active in the community. My presence as a voice on the Left is very much needed in Panama City, if nothing else to contrast the chorus of angry rhetoric from the Right.

In that respect, I have established my niche here. My Twitter profile says it all: “I’m a Kennedy-esque Liberal living in the belly of the GOP beast. Send food and help, please.”

It’s amusing to most and by using not-so-subtle humor, I have found a way to reach people as my following on Twitter continues to rise.

“You need to be writing more,” David says.

And, of course, he is right. Writing is what I was born to do. The block, however, is hard to overcome sometimes.

I never want to offend anyone. My inner Libra is all about balance and in the current political climate, writing to not offend can be a difficult chore.

And then I am reminded of that oh so familiar line, ‘You have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.”

What I stand for is Compassion, Honesty, Caring, Community, Family and Faith. Easy subjects to get behind, sure. But to articulate those views one must first have Courage.

And with that, I’m off to see the Wizard. Let’s hope he’s read my cover letter.

 

 





My Valentine

14 02 2011

Breaking out of my lil’ depression now. Listening to the brilliant Pandora app on my I-phone. When I think about my life, it is silly to wallow in self defeat.

Yes, I’ve experienced Ammmmazing things through the course of three decades. Been to exotic places and met incredible people. It’s high time to be grateful.

I am most grateful for David. He has seen me at my worst, heard all the stories, rumors and half-truths and still manages to see through it all. I know it hasn’t been easy for him, these last two years.

We met when my world was falling apart. And he still let me drive his BMW.

David is truly a gentle soul. A believer in overcoming obstacles and moving mountains. He rebuilt that sporty ’89 BMW and restored it to classic condition. It was a blast to take out on the campaign trail.

There was a moment, during the sultry summer, at the Fourth of July parade in Lynn Haven, that sticks out in my mind. David had suggested I stand in the BMW — through the sunroof — and wave at the crowds. This idea, at the time, seemed foolish. My confidence was weak then. Instead, I donned a T-shirt for the Governor candidate and marched with the party faithful.

Looking back, that was a mistake. The Beemer would have probably got me noticed more. It’s a cool car and I especially love zooming through traffic in it. David enjoys talking about the work he’s spent restoring this ‘ultimate driving machine’ to tip-top performance.

He’s done the same with me.

When I came back to Panama City, after failing in New York, David was there to pick up the pieces — shattered ego, bruised body and all. I know it hasn’t been easy for him. He has made many sacrifices.

And no matter how hard I fought to remain independent, he kept loving me. All those times, I railed against the system, complained about my plight or sinned for the sake of sinning, David stood by me.

The campaign was, for all intents and purposes, a very public trial. I learned a great deal about my community and found true friends. There were days when I didn’t feel like getting out of bed yet David always managed to motivate me to be better.

I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve him. I’m just happy he chose me.

Happy Valentine’s Day Lover!