Since returning from Antarctica where I recently had my mind blown, I’ve been trying to stay out of the rabbit hole of thought, yet get my head around what we humans are meant to be doing on this earth – and why. What’s our purpose here?
In my candid observations from my business traveler’s window seat, I can safely and temporarily conclude that we do indeed consume – a lot – namely for the purposes of earning a living; circulating our money, buying/trading, etc; possibly for the purpose of keeping barbarism at bay and/or for plain entertainment. That’s not to say that is our primary purpose, but I understand we have to do something while we’re here and consuming is what we’re currently good at. It seems happiness is a common pursuit shared by many a cult and culture, which you could say is the driving factor behind our rate of consumption as well as the specific items we might collect. Yet our desire to be happy doesn’t stop there. We also wish to be fulfilled, sexy, rich, smart, powerful, whatever. And for the 6 billion of us who have any money at all, let alone water, those desires way overshadow our needs. Obviously. So let’s just think about the happiness part. It’s free after all.
This got me thinking about art, which is also free (to look at)…usually.
Are we the only species who make art? My cats bring me dead rodents which I’ve always understood to be tokens of affection. This could be a kind of art or art form.
I also know spiders build amazing webs while whales have songs that are passed on from generation to generation, and monkeys can apparently compose a poem if given a typewriter and enough time – but do these creatures measure their creations based on quality, taste, imagination, concept, attitude or design? Do they critique their work or the work of other animals they way we do?
Then I stumbled on the videos below and starting sleeping more soundly. Behold the Bowerbirds; amazing creatures whose works of art and fine art collections are created for the sole purpose of seducing a mate. This is a fine example of art for the sake of art which in my opinion is the result of Love hard at work. Yes Love, the word I often use for Creation, seen here expressing itself in bird form, reminding us that humans are not alone in the quest for happiness. And while it is charming to think other creatures can create in ways outside of themselves revealing they too are optimistic, it also suggests that every living thing has the potential to experience a broken heart.
It is wise to keep your pen moving as well as your feet. Your hand is often a truer version than your word in that you get to speak in private with your present & future self. Don’t dam the stream of consciousness. Trust where your river of thought is going and go with the flow. I promise you will reach the ocean.
Flipping thru old notebooks recently, I came upon this journal entry that made me smile; dated January 1999:
One day they will call on me and I’ll get to travel the world all over. I’ll sail the seven seas, ponder the great wonders, meet and greet so many new and exotic faces, taste 1000 varieties of foods and host a postcard collection like no other.
I’m so grateful to the kid who wrote that. It’s one thing to see your dreams come true, but it’s another experience entirely to hold the receipt.
Gift your future self. Write that special person a poem, a note, a story, a novel, a check even, or perhaps a song, like the one included at the bottom of this post. ‘Run Boy,’ written and recorded in 1999, is another little glimpse of my past. Like breadcrumbs leading me home, I look and listen to these melodies and musings as the mantras that shaped my life; the possibilities that I created along the way. Thanks to this soundtrack and nearly two decades worth of journals, I am present to the long, grateful journey it’s been; and still how far we’ve yet to go.
Tour resumes and today we are in Dubai, UAE to take part in the Dubai International Jazz Festival. From my perch, the city appears lovely, dusty and warm; a climate similar to the smoky basements and speakeasies where Jazz was born. While I’m happy to be here, I’ll likely spend most of my time indoors, ironically working on a short film about melting ice in Antarctica.
Through the smog I can see the construction boom. And through the cranes I can smell the cargo ships. And through it all I can clearly feel the how and the why as the wind blows again and the climate shifts.
Nevertheless, our world at present remains home to our beautiful minds as well as our outrageous and exciting technologies. Here’s an example in film by Aaron Mendez titled, 3 Days in Dubai. Enjoy.
I farted during an interview once. Okay, maybe twice. Which is no big deal. Everybody farts. Some of us by accident and some by malicious intent. No matter which way it unfurls, it’s unlucky during an interview; a time when both sound and character are being recorded for posterity. YouTube has a wonderful variety of clips featuring news anchors and TV personalities (Regis Philbin) letting one fly.
Everyday, at any given moment, 500,000 people are on planes and in the air. And almost everyday, I am one of those frequent flyers. Whether it’s karma or comedy, I seem to be seated time and again next to the person on the plane with gas, forcing me to sleep & steep in their reverb. After years of trapping my family and friends in my car, American Airlines is giving me a taste of my own medicine, except there’s nothing medicinal about it.
In my observations, I’ve noticed one wearing headphones acts as though not hearing a fart is equal to not smelling it. The same rule can be applied when pretending to sleep. That being said, if one ceases to make eye contact, one’s crime is forever concealed. Therefore, do as you wish and celebrate however clever you are; able to hide your denial under a thin blanket, throw your voice, or compose your own sweet music. Like this guy.
I woke up early to be a guest on the Today show. The sky is still dark when the car pulls up and I ponder why the show isn’t called Yesterday. I’m convinced I’m dreaming when the loopy marimbas of my iphone alarm start into their merry number at 4:30. No! This is wrong I said. It only feels like 2. Where is this noise coming from?! I’d close and rub my eyes, scrubbing away the characters occupying my theta state, attempting to bring the actual time into focus. But 4:32 was the best I could do. Robbed of the awareness of sleep with the sum of all slumber occurring in a blink, I stumbled around my poorly lit hotel room looking for shoes, pants, and water, in that order, which is backwards, as proven by my inability to pull my jeans over my boots.
I’m reminded of Jill-Bolte Taylor’s infamous TED talk as I fail to make sense of my so-called-morning. …Right brain calling left, stand by for harsh reality… As my eyes and outlook finally come into focus, my first clear thought of the day is, why did I stay up so late? Great. My conscience is now guilty. Not the best way to wake up. I much prefer the usual light and fluffy state of consciousness afforded to those who wake up between 9 & 10. What I call gentleman’s hour.
But Matt Lauer and Al Roker are gentleman, and there they were at 7am warmed-up and well-groomed; ready to run the marathon of morning TV. I’m inspired. Tired. But inspired.
My mission is simple: Shine a light through music and laughter and enjoy being with people. That’s it. A little bit of love goes a long way, especially in a world crowded with individuals; a world where all of us equally are prisoners of earth, held down by gravity, struggling with 7 billion different versions of human triumph and human suffering.
(one fuzzy, snoozing seal)
(a zillion pudgy penguins.)
I believe when enough people hold the intention of peace, acting as beacons of hope for others, we will blanket the earth with love and the shift into a non-violent global community will be inevitable. As AVATAR as that sounds, I do believe we’re getting closer to that place everyday.
Soon, instead of stabbing, drilling, carving, and blasting our home planet to bits, we will work calmly and gently upon its fragile skin, using the creative minds Mother Earth has given us to power our cities with more respectable methods. We will not fight over land and money, instead valuing the world based on it’s resources and lack thereof; understanding the true cost of a happy-meal vs. a home-cooked meal of local ingredients. And the price of products and merchandise will directly reflect the price it has on the world as a whole; for instance, were we to add a tax based on how much carbon is emitted in shipping/manufacturing, that alone would greatly shake-up and reshape our material world… and yes, I am all for that. Can you imagine paying $50 for a burger? And that’s probably a cheap burger. But that’s what considering the cost of carbon means to our limited resources.
For the past week I’ve been in Antarctica, otherwise known as Earth’s Air Conditioner, wondering how I can make a difference that makes a difference to the 7 billion inhabitants to the north.
Of those 7 billion, only 40 thousand people get to see Antarctica each year, and many of those people are frequent visitors. People go there for it’s stunning, untouched, uninhabited beauty. It’s a location for those like myself who seek isolation and enjoy intense levels of silence. It’s also a place of exotic wildlife such as whale, penguin, and the eccentric burping/farting southern elephant seal.
(“It wasn’t me,” replied the elephant seal.)
One of the studies scientists have been conducting is to find out if tourism is hurting the wildlife there, and so far they’re concluding it’s how we live at home that causes more damage to their environment than how we act on visits to Antarctica; which from my experience, are carefully thought out expeditions that have strict guidelines and are well-executed. Visits to this region raise awareness about melting ice and depleting food systems caused by our high rate of energy consumption and fossil fuel burning – proving yet again you don’t have to live near the ocean to have an impact on it – and you don’t have to live near the ocean for it to have a impact on you.
Antarctica, which was set aside for science and peace in the 1960’s, is governed by nearly 50 nations, half of which make the decisions and control policy; proof that we as a world people can actually work together to preserve and protect the environment.
I have nothing riding on sharing this information other than a love and respect for all of life. I have no political agenda other than speaking up for that which doesn’t seem to have a voice we listen to; the voice of the natural world, complete with crashing waves, rushing rivers, rustling trees, bird calls, whale songs, and a howl in the wind.
If it’s in your means, go to Antarctica on the Explorer and learn about this special place from the scientists, biologists, naturalists, and generalists who’ve been studying there for 30 plus years. See the incredible landscape for yourself before it’s gone. Or at the very least, take a walk today and experience all that your environment does to support you.
(Whales are the record keepers; their songs are the recorded history of the earth.)