The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tuesday: Talking to Stevie

You know, I have a problem with people who feel folks who used Napster in the old days had the right to do it because they disapproved of music prices or quality of albums or something. Had this conversation just in the last couple of weeks with a very intelligent lady. Sure that her attitudes make perfect sense to her, but I don’t get it. Yep, I’ve burned copies of music, but I never thought I had the RIGHT to do it. Just the ability. And I wouldn’t have protested had I gotten in trouble. I remember a time when I needed some research to finish a project. And didn’t have the money to buy the audio research material—would have cost thousands. And someone offered to sell me copies for about fifty bucks. Agonized, yes, but I took it. Just like if Jason was starving I’d steal bread. Doesn’t mean the bread is priced too high, or that I had the “right” to do it, or that theft should be legal.

Two days ago, I had this exact conversation with another guy who liked to use file-sharing software to build his music collection. “The music companies are thieves” he said. “All the money is going to the executives. The artists only get thirty cents an album.” So…wait for it…I asked him if, after getting his music, he sent that thirty cents to the musician. He grinned and said: “Naw. It’s only thirty cents.”

So in other words, if you don’t like the price, you can set your own, and if they don’t take it, you have the right to steal it. And then blame them for what you did, and feel that you are actually some kind of Robin Hood, taking from the rich and giving to…who?

I hated having to steal to finish a project. And have tried to make up for it by buying the stuff I copied, later. Am I a hypocrite? I don’t know. But I’m sure as hell not Robin Hood. I don’t think that a society, any society, can operate if people think they can set their own prices for anything they want, and then just take it if the owner doesn’t agree.
Hit a fascinating place in my meditation yesterday, and today. There is a child in there, near my first chakra. A little older than Jason. Maybe…Six years old. My suspicion is that this is the youngest part of me that can have an articulate, abstract conversation, that can understand the needs and goals and fears of my adult self. It talks to me, and tells me to be quiet and listen. I think that it is young enough to remember what it was like to be…well, to be born. To enter into this world, and put on a covering of flesh and ego. If I get quiet enough, he whispers that I shouldn’t trust what any older part of me says, because those parts get lost in a hall of philosophical mirrors (my words, not “his”). “He” doesn’t really exist, any more than any of my other “selves” exist. He is just another layer of the onion, but gets the “joke” better than “I” do. (This is pretty hard to write about. Sorry about all the quotes.)
But that part has me lined up in a very interesting way.
SURVIVAL: committed to my family, willing to die to protect them, grasping that my life does not belong to me.
SEX: committed to sharing this energy only with my wife, using the heat of our connection to melt ego, to align our energies, to focus toward the future, to create peace and joy and safety and a context for growth. Oh, and to have mucho fun.
POWER: a commitment to my maximal expression of my physical energy and aliveness. Intermittent Fasting has nailed this one. For the time being, obviously my intrinsic energy really believes I take this seriously.
HEART: All of my passion and fervor is directed to creating the home that Tananarive and I dream of…and making that a place of rest and re-creation.
These first four levels are critical. Finding the way to make the internal light not just shine in all of them, but to “thread the needle”—have them all line up so that a thread of consciousness can wind all the way down to the base…that’s like threading a needle in a whirlwind. You have to get very very calm. You have to find the eye of the storm. In the midst of life stress, it takes an act of faith and concentration at the absolute outer edge of my capacity for thought or feeling to believe that there is more value in sitting quietly in the morning and meditating than getting up and “doing something.” My god, everything inside me wants to “do.” Why is it so hard just to “be” even for a few moments?

When all of this lines up, it seems to work like magic. Life just happens. The goal stuff falls into place. Movement is effortless. Stress is there, but strain keeps its distance. But then, just when things are going well, the little voices come back and distract you from doing the very things necessary to keep progress. “You” did this, they whisper. “You” must work hard. “You” have no time to connect to your deep self.

And inside me, that younger self, “Stevie” laughs at me, watching me fall off the road again.

All right. Today and yesterday I am on the path. Let’s see how long “I” can keep my balance before my ego screws with me again.

Tell you what: I’m going to try to make it a single week. Let’s see if I can.

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