don’t call it a comeback: white throated rail!

“The Aldabra white-throated rail, a flightless bird that lives on its namesake atoll in the Indian Ocean, doesn’t look like anything special at first glance. But the small bird has big bragging rights, because it has effectively evolved into existence twice after first going extinct some 136,000 years ago.”
Vice magazine

why does this story make me tear up and exhale? why does it activate all the science fictional hope in me? what is this flutter of earth adoration?

perhaps extinction all along has been a way of the earth tucking into herself the precious secrets which we refuse to handle with care.

perhaps she is saying, “if you want a simple life, if your tendency is towards the rudimentary, than i will pull into my body all of the most complex beautiful things. you butcher down and extract from me my magnificent wooden breathy life, and then cover me in boxes, flat concrete, boxes full of rows and boredom and lost hours. so i let my dream (and the bones) of the dodo bird hold safely near my heart – i don’t make permanence. that’s the only unnatural thing, you know, that which attempts to defy change.”

when i hear the news of your revolution, white throated rail, i wonder if you’ve only came to tell us that it is possible – not to not fly, to be defined as flightless (can you imagine making such an epic return and then every story about you includes the thing you don’t do?) – but to remind us that we are the only species who limits our creative wonders.

i think so many humans are terrified/hopeful/terrified to consider that she who made everything will remember how to make the world again, after us, after this foolish phase of us. or maybe we, too, will go and come again, more humble from the evolution years in the dirt?

i feel for the white-throated rail in my bones, the tasmanian tiger in my lungs, my black rhino skin, my mammoth heart. what i mean is: i wonder if i too carry the essence of forgotten miracles!

there is an edge (ode to radical imagination)

There is an edge
Beyond which we cannot grasp the scale
Of our universe.
That border,
That outer boundary
Is imagination.
The only known edge of existence
The only one we can prove by universal experience –

We can imagine so much!
We can only imagine so much.

If perhaps it is a function of our collective minds
A dream of our endless nights
Then there will be abundance so long as we can imagine it –
Abundance on earth
If we can imagine it
Or abundance of earths
A sphere for every tribe
And every combination.
And to have it all
All we need is to remember
there is an edge
And grow our dreams beyond it.

– inspired by #ArtChangeUS

what’s the new-old?

you know i often hear forrest gump in my head. “i may not be a smart man, but i know what love is.”

this economic moment has been crystallizing that phrase to me. i’ve been thinking a lot about what love is, and what it is not. in the face of the fall of wall street, the fall of our mega-corporate banking systems and the crumbling of the faith of american people in false wealth, it seems imperative to point towards the light, to remind ourselves how to love.

problem is, the actual situation we’re in is so murky to the masses that we feel collectively stupid and angry, and we have contracted our love muscles.

now i have always had a difficult time understanding the american economy, because it all seems made up. for a long time, money had to be associated with gold, a tangible resource that the paper money represented. i would argue that seeds or water should be seen as more valuable than gold (when stranded on a desert planet), but whatever, at least that made some sense. when you spent money to buy something you were literally giving them a certificate for some gold. that was already a delightful bit of imagination, since for most folks you were never gonna see your gold, just believe in it. but we’re a country of faith, aren’t we?

that said, the majority of resources that move now are too intangible to me – promises, ideas, stuff we print and trade and sell. there’s no real gold, seed, or land behind it. people live their lives dreaming of their perfect home – physical and spiritual – where they will have everything they need and be able to take care of their loved ones, where others will know them and think well of them. and it’s literally people’s dreams and perceptions that fund our economy. one peek behind the curtain shows us the fat wizards laughing at us, clicking away on our yellow brick roads. i’ve often felt like the kid on the side pointing out that the empire has no money.

the wizards succeeded in creating something real, and its called a recession. all the charts i have seen show that it could be the longest recession we’ve ever experienced. our dependence on credit and debt makes it hard to feel this yet. we keep stacking up that paper that’s tied to nothing, that debt that accumulates like body fat, easy to gain, hard to lose.

our response to the naughty wizards was a bailout. taxpayers didn’t decide to prioritize AIG bonuses over our retirement funds, our mortgages, our employment and health care, our kids schools; those who allowed the situation to come into being developed a solution that doesn’t actually change anything. but we did turn to corporate restorative solutions to stabilize an irrational system. and this is the question we should be asking ourselves…do we want to restore a system that does not love us? do we want to restore a system that does not value human life and the power of relationship and community? you know my answer is a big hell no. from an action perspective, i think its time for massive public spankings, and guerilla solutions.

there is another way already emerging, i’m thinking of it as the new-old, (a specific economic component of the Great Turning). tons of people my age are out of work, and are turning to each other, cooking with and for each other, turning their roofs into secret gardens. single income homes are becoming multi-generational homes. we have all done this before, every people on the planet have ancestral experience (and many have current experience) of getting by as a community.

this isn’t to say we shouldn’t fight for our monetary resources. wall street has stolen the shoes we saved up our whole lives to buy, they stole them before we got to wear them, and now they are dancing in them, scuffing the soles.

there is a day of action that has come to my attention (thanks Miguel) called Take Back The Economy. there are actions happening all over the country on March 19th – check it out and get involved! there’s another day of action April 11 (thanks Kat!) called a New Way Forward which i am learning more about and will keep you posted. i am looking for folks interested in engaging in this fight!

at the same time as we protest, we must remember there is another way to demonstrate our desire for an alternative. that is, we know a way to be barefoot and happy. and now we have technology to link us together in ever larger networks of skill and shared value, to supplement the knowledge we may not have, to show us what to grow, when, where, how; to teach us about jobs we could do that would feed our families and replenish our home planet. we’ve been right all along that vast inequality leads to no good end, so this is a time to rejoice in the better elements of our humanity, and to understand the thinking of wall street as something akin to gills…a survival mechanism for a world we’ve evolved past. let’s stop trying to run backwards through time – let’s walk on our two feet, with dignity, in community, towards the next phase of history.

“human evolution has ended”

i just read a blogworthy sentence in the december 2008 Harper’s findings, which is my favorite part of the magazine. it used to be harper’s index near the front, which – some months – would be the only page in the magazine i read. then i found the Findings on the back page, and my heart leapt. the conclusions, the minor benchmarks of science and math, the accumulation of research of the sort i would never do, as it takes years and degrees (and i have no intention of spending the former to get the latter).

at some point i realized that i couldn’t find any sources for the findings, no name of who collected the information, they could be made up and i would still believe. i like to imagine that collector in a trench coat, sidling up to secret laboratories with a notebook, flipping through files with a camera hidden in his/her watch, submitting each month’s findings as a bullet-pointed handwritten list.

often the findings give me hope, or at least an explanation for some illogical behavior i observed myself or other humans engaged in. but this one…:

“a prominent geneticist concluded that human evolution has ended.”

i didn’t think this was possible. evolution is the only exit strategy i believe in! the idea of being stuck with this many arms and this pattern of behavior is mindnumbing. if we cannot change at the gene level, then my whole language for learning and changing has to morph. is the gene level where we advance our capacity to emote? does compassionate behavior evolve over time? that is, do living creatures learn to be more compassionate, more accommodating?

our story since our nights in the caves has been one of establishing territory, and then spending our lives protecting or expanding that territory. but i thought that was a temporary calling. i thought at some point we would start to see earth as a only a starting point, a galactic womb, that we were Octavia Butler’s ‘earthseed’. and that we would have to evolve in certain ways in order to make it possible to go into the rest of the universe. alongside my dream for us to begin to see each other as fundamentally valuable (which would literally be like an On switch at the molecular level, jolting us out of the darkness of competitive mindless accrual), i’ve envisioned the addition of capabilities in our anatomy that make us opt in and out of gravity, or have an expanded ability to experience very high or very low temperatures, or a knowledge in our hearts of how to process the vast matter of space as if it’s breathable air.

the popular or experiential education models i engage in have always been grounded in the idea that reflecting and learning wasn’t just tied to things we already knew, but to learning in ways that expanded the knowledge of the collective, building off the wisdom of ancestors, towards the great discoveries of the future. if human evolution has ended, if this is it…

well it would account for that funny feeling i get sometimes, when it becomes apparent that a person or group of people is reverting to the lowest common denominator as a mode of bonding, i.e. racism that allows patriotism and the sense of belonging to a set of ideals (even if those ideals never manifest, i do write this as an american after all). or that other feeling that there is nothing new under the sun.

i have scraped myself out of that hole of meta-familiarity with the cycles of life by remembering that the internet came into existence in my parents’ lifetimes, and so i can at least be patient and creative because something i cannot possibly yet imagine will most likely change my world completely before i die. but assuming something is evolutionary because it is fast or easy or awesome might be my error…maybe the internet has only made us lazier, and less likely to evolve! what i have experienced as a different way to defy time and physical constraints in terms of communication has perhaps begun our process of devolving, our bones forgetting how to survive, our hands and spines shriveling into new shapes, running without purpose or distance, our memories and eyesight deteriorating, even our language reduced 2 tha shrtest pssble thng u cn txt.

this one line makes me rack my brain for evolution stories – we crawled out of the muck, went through an awkward monkey phase, and developed a capacity for reason instead of flying. birds share the bone structure of some small dinosaurs, and when certain frogs are left in a monosexual environment they develop a skill for immaculate conception (makin’ babies minus all the fun part). maybe our species just isn’t up against the wall of extinction yet.

perhaps its because we treat every sort of different human like a mistake, and it’s stunted our cellular creativity. perhaps our concepts of normal and beauty have convinced our genes we are not interested in evolving anymore.

the only way i can read this sentence as uplifting is if the “human” aspect is seen as a flaw, or the distinct characteristic of repeating mistakes – with mistakes being grand things like war, domination, nation building, jealousy. if we’re “only human, born to make mistakes,” then i can let it go. so human, as a distinct species, has reached its endpoint, and now the next evolution will be to shed the useless tendencies which only lead to our ultimate self-extinction. and a new species is set to emerge from us – enlightened in some way, bound by new rules. yes maybe we are the matter for something utterly different to come forth, butterfly style, a new word for a new DNA, cocooned in this moment after crawling around for years on 100 tired legs.

human could then be a term like limbic, a phase of development we move through, post reptilian, post-mammalian, carried in us but not nearly all of the brain, and we move to accessing 50, 60, 80% of our brains, the next species focused on completely different experiences.

like flying.

and pollination.

i can get with that.

on a much less geeky level, i took some friends to Butta tonight, the oakland convergence of lgbtqwoc. the level of grinding and popping and push-up bras and stud posturing and winding hips and role play and role reversal and spilled drinks is truly intoxicating, and for a few hours there is a completely merged space where class walls fade away, everyone in an undulating mass, massive butch, femme and everything-in-between-and-beyond smiles in all directions, beautiful gay men deferring in corners. whenever i am in this space, or another space categorized by a gender challenging, sexuality-embracing post-normality, i think that we are not done evolving, because we still think the world is a this-or-that world, black-or-white, male-or-female, us-or-them. its such an untruth, its such a vibrant gray world, all things can coexist in constant transformation. the biggest threat to our survival is not external, its the internal surrender of the knowledge that humans are complex, that all things physically and emotionally possible in all of humanity are possible in each human, given the proper accepting space.

if we were an accepting species, then we would not war with each other over difference. knowing the pain it is to Be all that you are, the lifelong journey of developing belief systems and survival skills and a tendency towards joy, we couldn’t begrudge another life, couldn’t take life, couldn’t judge so much. in an accepting world – even a temporary one – it becomes easy to see how beautiful everyone is, which unilaterally improves the experience of life.

i am not a geneticist, but i have experience of genes, and i have something in me still yearning for the next internal, psychological, spiritual evolution.

or maybe that’s just the feeling i get when i dance.

i cooked a lot of carrot soup today, as i hold a dated belief that it will help me regain my 8 year old 20/20 vision. its delicious.

tomorrow is MLK, Jr day, and i’ve so far seen over 20 different groups claim their work is the continuation of king’s ideas. was he a genius, or are we taking him out of context…after all, radical agape is hard to find anywhere right now. perhaps tomorrow i will write on that.

no promises, i promise.

frost/bush

just got home from seeing frost/nixon, and was really impressed with the story, how it unfolded. it’s impossible not to transpose some bush, some reagan onto the nixon character – the story is all about acknowledgment.

which is not to say that if bush had been apologizing for the last nearly-8 years, that that would be enough. i don’t have a lot of patience for sorry, i read ntozake shange too early in my life and it’s made me never be too interested in “sorry” when improvement is what’s called for.

that said, it is deep to me how forgiveness, redemption, and apologies work. that is – they can’t be skipped. when a great violence has been done, or a great crime against humanity committed – when it can’t be undone…that acknowledgment is one of the ways we begin to pave a new path. to apologize is to say – i have learned, and i won’t do it again. to apologize and then repeat the offense? well then you are the boy who cried sorry, and no one cares.

i have never thought it was a weakness to apologize when you really did something wrong. but i also don’t think it’s good to get guilty-minded, and start apologizing for everything. there’s a sweet and genuine spot called ownership. i think as a leader it is particularly important to hold that space.

today i got an email from someone i love dearly, with some important feedback in it. i have sat really thinking about this email, about the critical feedback in it and how to appropriately respond – where is the appropriate place for apology, how do i acknowledge my power in the situation, and what are the changes i need to make to ensure this doesn’t happen again? time, as i’ve experienced it, doesn’t move backwards. this is why actions matter to me so much more than words.

i’m no nixon, i’m no bush…and yet, we all make decisions every day that have impacts beyond what we can see immediately. if we are to exist, coexist, and evolve in this chaotic incredible world, we have to stand fully present in the experience. that cognizance gives us the ability to reckon, and that reckoning gives us the ability to learn, forgive, be forgiven, and grow.

onward and upward.