The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A little every day...

A month ago I turned sixty, and posted a picture I took that morning that people seemed to enjoy.

It's important for people to know that you don't have to fall apart as you age...and it doesn't have to take hours a day. In truth, I spend about an hour a WEEK on body-shaping, with additional yoga for health. But the most important thing I do, EVERY DAY is Scott Sonnon's "Joint Mobility" work. In fact, I make them a part of my "Five Minute Miracle" program, taking very short (90 seconds?) breaks multiple times a day.

For years I've talked about this stuff, and pointed people to valuable material on YouTube. How would you like to spend just a few minutes a day, and reclaim the mobility you had in youth? Be able to put your palms flat on the floor whenever you want? Have no pains in your back, knees, neck?

Well...THIS IS IT. I have promised to deliver to you ONLY technologies that are efficient, effective, and that I use personally.

In addition...I use these exercises with Jason, at least three times a week, to overcome his lack of attention, wake up his body, and create bonding. This is the core of my personal practice, and has been for almost ten years now. I cannot recommend it highly enough! Scott is bundling his AGELESS MOBILITY program with the "Be Breathed" course. This is what I suggest to my own family, what I use with my own son. No bluff. No B.S. Ask me anything you want about this: I put my reputation on the line that the "joint mobility" approach should be the cornerstone of your physical wellness practice.


Fitness over fifty! Rotating your joints through their full range for a few minutes a day can make all the difference.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Seven-Level Motivation

Now that I've created more of a theoretical model for multi-level goal setting and motivation, let's apply this specifically to the area of greatest external success in my own life: writing.

As a kid, I was told in no uncertain terms that I could not have a writing career. No role models, my own mother tore up my stories, I was mocked on all levels (although I did have a couple of friends who supported me and enjoyed hearing my stories. Thank God!) does this multi-level approach work?

1) Survival. I so so lonely, so desperately disconnected from my own life in so many ways. I felt abandoned by my society, lied about and slandered. I felt that if I couldn't find a way to have my voice heard in the world, could not succeed...I would die. Literally die. Be killed. I'm not kidding at all here. Whether it was valid or not, that was my feeling. More importantly, I felt that I would rather FAIL at being a writer than SUCCEED at anything else. That's some serious motivation there.

2) Sex. In school, I saw that the pretty girls I was attracted to were attracted to the successful guys. Athletes, guys with jobs, guys in leadership positions. Power. And right then I had a choice to make: I could either resent them, or just shrug and think it a natural, normal, healthy process. A lioness, I reasoned, wants a lion. So what I had to do was become a lion. At something. And then find a community of ladies who admired that particular type of power. If I could do that, nature would take its course. I am shocked that I had such clarity at such a young age...because it worked EXACTLY like that. The "hive" I chose to join? The science fiction fan community. There, my writing skills were appreciated. Thoroughly. Yum.

3) Power. I wanted to protect myself from the world. Nothing works like money in the arena in which money works. Try paying your water bill with back-rubs alone. Good luck. But also wanted to implement social change. To reach out and help others. There isn't a day of my life I don't get emails and letters from people who tell me I've changed their lives, helped them, saved them. Whether to care for myself and family, or have a positive influence on the world...Writing is my path.

4) Love. Emotion. Whether attracting a mate, or simply doing something I love, love absolutely love love love writing. Never happier than when enmeshed in a good story, and it's workin'. Love it.

5) Communication. Well, this is obvious. Speaking my truth, speaking to others, singing my song.

6) Intellect. Writing gives me an excuse to learn anything I want, and turn it into something useful and productive. To compare different reality maps. To associate with some of the smartest people on the planet. I am so blessed.

7) Spirit. Ultimately, spirit involves the question of what survives after the death of your body. Your soul? Your family? Your contributions to the world? Questions such as "What was the shape of my face before I was born?" is one way this quality is approached. What is beyond ego? The "flow" state which dissolves the subject-object relationship is a doorway to a deeper understanding. By committing to telling the truth, serving mankind, learning the best thoughts of those who came before me, attempting to create stepping stones for writers and readers who come after me...I am a link in a chain stretching back to prehistory and off to the distant future.

If the two most central questions on the spiritual path are "who am I?" and "what is true?" and every character in my writing is a version of me...and every situation is an exploration of reality...then my daily pages are just another form of meditation, and another step along the path.

So long as I keep my emphasis on my journey between birth and death, and take my work more seriously than my seems to me I'm on the right path.


Seven levels. Seven totally different types of motivation. Discipline is overrated. Give me pure, existential hunger every time.


Mult-level communication with Jason

Got a great email from a very old friend yesterday, in response to my thoughts on Jason:

"Not that I know anything about raising kids, but having to call dad "sir", I think that would suck, no matter what the situation. You're his dad first, and hopefully always, the army drill sargent is sir! Just my opinion. and since you're sharing, I'm sharing."

You bet he doesn't like it! That, of course, is part of the point: I'm using discomfort to show him the ranges of acceptable behavior. I tend to be very "conservative" about raising Jason, and look to methods that have worked for thousands of years, in multiple contexts. And one of them is the combination of carrot and stick. I got a note yesterday to take a look at a book called "Punished by Reward," the work of a psychologist named Alfie Kohn. Wasn't ready to run out and buy a book (Jeeze, I'm too far behind with the stack I've got right now) but did read three of his articles. Seems to be a very impassioned and intelligent argument for a very "Yin" or "Liberal" view of education, with the concept of rewarding behavior in children considered as a projection of the parents' own insecurity rather than a genuine gift to the child. A fun example was if a child would respond to the approving "good drawing, Mary!" with "good praising, Mommy!" to demonstrate how irritating that would be.

I chuckled. I see his perspective, and think he'd have to combine it with a very boundary-punishment model to create balanced perspective, from which appropriate tools could be selected for specific instances. Jason, for instance, is SERIOUSLY hierarchical in many of his behaviors and attitudes. I was quite surprised by this. I didn't have brothers, or a father in the home, or uncles, or male role models growing up, so I just made that crap up. Decided that if I couldn't determine exactly what "male" meant, I'd have to concentrate on "human" and let the rest sort itself out. Considering that I got exactly the results I desired from the "male-female" thingie, I guess it's worked all right.

But I was still taken aback by how hard Jason "pushes" at me, and it forced me to reinterpret a lifetime of memories about interactions with other guys. Times when they pushed at me, bumped up against me...and I interpreted it as aggression and hostility. No. They just wanted to know, NEEDED to know where they were on the hierarchy. Who was above them, and who below.

That is totally different, and quite healthy so long as you are not confined to that behavior set. In fact, it is just as healthy as non-hierarchical non-competitive behavior, which is just as unhealthy when taken to extremes.

I am communicating with Jason on EVERY level, because I don't know which "channels" are clearest. I take Thom Hartmann's opinion to heart: he considers that ADD kids are hunters in a world full of farmers. But I've heard Hartmann for years, and although he's smarter than I am, he also sees the world through a VERY left-leaning lens, and I suspect he has little understanding of the Warrior archetype. Warrior-Hunter is a fascinating position on the archetype wheel. There was nothing natural about my attraction to that position--I was forced to develop that due to external circumstances, and a lack of role models.

But Jason is a natural. Jeeze. All he wants to do every night is beat the hell out of me, or have me dominate him. He doesn't feel safe unless I do. When I ask him why he wants to slam me around, his standard answer is: "that's how boys play." Boggles my mind a little.

But if Thom Hartmann looks at the Hunter/Farmer split, and I'm right that there is a color of the rainbow he isn't perceiving, or isn't comfortable with, I'm not sure what the balancing energy is for Jason. Warrior/Healer, perhaps? And how is that in society? Male/Female? And could the fact that ALL of his teachers so far have been women have anything to do with this? If the boy was supposed to spend his time running, jumping, exploring, hunting, fishing and, yes, killing (let's not put too fine a line on it) in preparation for a life spent hunting and practicing the martial arts to protect his village, would his difficulty with focus have anything to do with that? I don't know.

But I do know it feels as if an energetic shift is happening/has happened in our society as female energy becomes more active in the external sphere. That's not something I can change, or even would attempt to. Or think SHOULD change. If true, it is just part of the cycle of life, and Jason has to learn to surf on that chaos wave.

How do I do that? Well...I have to make the assumption that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed in form. I'm also starting with the assumption that love and fear are the major emotions I have to work with, and his emotional flares are at least partially a sense that his "isness" isn't fitting the world around him

So...I have to help him learn to transform, guide, and flow his energy to fit the circumstances. Like a clever warrior. I also need to be certain he feels ABSOLUTELY LOVED at every moment. That Daddy's love is NEVER at risk.

But approval? Heh heh. That's another matter. I can love him without loving his behavior. Hell, I can love him without LIKING him from time to time. So let me march up the "Chakras" and look at how I'm knocking at every door he has:

1) Survival. I'll use pain to create aversion to some behaviors or responses. Physical pain. Not spanking or hitting, though--I have no moral opposition to spanking, but don't want to anchor a flinch response into him when I touch him. So I'll have him hold "downward dog" or plank position in situations my mom would have whacked me for. All the pain, plus learning a very very useful set of skills--for instance relaxation under stress, which has a positive effect on keeping emotional control. Control your breathing and you control your emotions.

2) Sexuality. Hey, he's at the "girls, yuck!" stage. But under that is the natural human awareness of these amazing and mysterious creatures, and the questions: what are they? What are they about? And while, of course, he wants nothing to do with them, discussions of why girls tease him flirt with the edge of that pre-sexual awareness. And of course, while he will never be attracted to girls, he doesn't mind the idea that they should be attracted to HIM. And what does that? Power, channeled into some arena they understand and admire. And focus is power. Booyah.

3) Power. He wants control of his body. Physical mastery. And boy, is he going to have it. He can already do things I could never do. At all. The sky's the limit. But I've made it clear: he will never master his body until and unless he masters his emotions and mind. And more specifically: if he's in a fight, the moment he loses focus, a lesser opponent will smack him down. He HATES that. There is absolutely nothing like pain to force you to learn. Can't wait until he is old enough to actually slow-spar with, so I can demonstrate this to him more. But right now, he needs stillness. Yoga, I think works great for this. Noisy on the inside...quiet on the outside. Until you are congruent.

4) Emotion. Daddy loves him. Period. Hugs every morning, every night, and the knowledge of that love never withheld. But as my friend noted, he HATES the more formal "sir." Great. I can literally withhold his right to call me "daddy" as punishment.

5) Communication. I noticed that one of his issues is talking in class without permission. So I flirted with forcing him to raise his hand before he speaks at home. More extreme, would be forcing him to WRITE OUT his messages to us. Slows him waaaaay down. Good behavior earns him the right to speak spontaneously again. Also...when he is on "red" he has to spend more time reading aloud. This is powerful on so many levels I can't count 'em.

6) Intellect. Lots of explanation of what I'm doing, why I'm doing. Examining the set of rules that seem to have the most impact on his behavior: specifically (at this point)

a) Pay Attention

b) Do what you're told

c) No talking (at school, without permission)

d) Do not think dishonestly

e) Keep your hands to yourself.

Each morning, we concentrate on just 3 of those.

7) Spirit. We meditate together EVERY morning. I cannot overstate how important "direct

transmission by congruence" is. In other words, you must BE whatever you seek to teach, for greatest efficiency. That means that if I see him to lack focus, I must concentrate on my own focus. If he has emotional issues, I must be super-calm. If I want his actions to be smooth and match the curve of energy and attention required for a specific task...I must exemplify it. Otherwise, it's like a smoking, drinking, junk-food junkie trying to get his kids to live a healthy life.

The most solid model I have for human growth is to align the dreams and needs of childhood with the wisdom of our elder selves. I now have the advantage of being closer to death than birth, and there is fantastic freedom and perspective in that. Jason is taking the very first, bare steps along that journey, with all the attendant fear and insecurity. He wants to trust and follow me. If I can create sufficient rapport, he will follow me through fire. But I must never, ever abuse that. And I must be the change I wish to my son, or in the world.

If he has more "static" in his system, then I must show him how to develop greater clarity and balance. That's all. If he has half as much as others, then I'll show him how to get three times the results.

I was asked: what if my child was actually autistic? Then, from my understanding (which is admittedly limited) I'd forget about the majority of the digital/intellectual pieces and concentrate on the physical aspects. I would go DEEPLY into yoga and/or martial arts, and breathe with my child, putting their hand on my diaphragm, with my hand on his. Work to find the way to achieve whatever rapport was possible, and communicate with him on that level. If there is a narrowed aperture of perception or communication...or a snarl...then I would seek whatever channels were open, and trust the human brain's fantastic level of redundancy. Find what is working, and start there. Go deeply within myself so that my actions were based on both intellectual concepts, kinesthetic knowledge and deep intuition.

Of course, I would have the widest, deepest circle of allies and professionals I could find. But I would take full responsibility on myself. I do not suggest that that is an approach others should follow. But I'm pretty sure it would be mine.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Zen Koan: what is the sound of one party imploding?

Anyone who would believe a man who would shoot a boy, then sit on his back as he bleeds out is beyond my understanding.

Jason's Double-Green

Bonding to Jason, establishing rapport with the "client" is of unbelievable importance. I'm kind of tough on him right now, and sometimes I worry about that. But I'll ask him: "am I being too tough on you?" And he'll look at me with those angelic eyes and say, "no, Daddy! You're just trying to help me!" Bless this kid. He's saving himself.


I have to journal everything I'm doing. The last two weeks, since I started the pattern of combining our morning "Om" meditation with little pinches when his eyes shift away from mine, I've notice what seemed to be a slow, steady improvement of behavior. Last Friday, he was on Red, so I was quite strict with him over the weekend. Yesterday, he was on "Double Green"--the best he's ever done. It may have been coincidence. Might just be the natural development of his mind. Could have to do with what we did over the weekend. Or the cumulative effect of the last weeks and months. Or something specific that happened several days ago (sometimes you get a time lag). Or some specific combination of things. Or...or...or...

Sigh. For the sake of the record, over the last few days, the following approach was used:

1) No talking over the weekend, without raising his hand first. That means no singing, nothing, without soliciting permission first. Every time he breaks this rule, he does five pushups.

2) In Aikijutsu Saturday, very strict. No playing. After class, he saw some of the advanced students practicing cutting straw bundles with live swords. I asked him if he wanted to learn that. He said YES. I said that he never, ever would. Unless he learns to focus. That he is being asked to take more of a leadership role in class, that the younger (!) students are imitating him. That he must focus. That in a real fight, the first moment he loses his focus, he is toast. Oh, yeah, the kid is motivated.

3) More reading. I think reading is of critical importance, and I admit that I haven't been pushing that as much as I should. Reading came so easily to me as a kid, tht sometimes I don't remember it is as important as it is. So we started with the second Harry Potter book, and he reads it aloud for 1/2 hour.

4) Punishment: pushups, or holding a "plank" position until his lower back muscles begin to tremble, showing me that his abs are about to give out. No, I don't tell him what I'm looking for.

5) He doesn't get "game" at night, which is code for his evening ritual of beating the hell out of his dad. I am ashamed to admit that there is a bit of relief associated with that...I'm only human, guys.

6) No television.

7) Oh! I had him perform the first movements from the Bikram yoga sequence. Yoga asks you to be still out side, even if busy inside. When you are still outside AND inside, the poses refine beautifully. The key (in my opinion) to Scott Sonnon's Prasara is to be still inside and move outside (the same with Tai Chi or "Advanced Tibetans.") That may be too much for him. Yoga. More yoga..?

Relaxing of rules depends on performance. Love and affection never withheld, but he has to call me "sir" instead of "dad", which tears him up. Ugh.

But..."double green"..? Keeping my eye on this.

Feeding your hungers

Feeding your hungers

"How are you so disciplined?" People ask me that all the time, wondering how I get up so early, hit the ground running, care for my family, manage my internet business, manage my career, do my daily pages, meditate, exercise, and so forth. Every damned day. And the truth relates to something I learned from my mother, a long time ago: the more reasons you have to do something the easier it is to "motivate" yourself to do it.

The answer I give people is: "I don't have motivation. I have hunger. I don't have to motivate myself to exercise any more than I have to motivate myself to order a spicy tuna roll." My mouth WATERS at the idea of a spicy tekka maki. I've told students for years that if you have a single motivation to accomplish something, you probably won't. If you have five or ten reasons? Better. How about a hundred? You'll do it for sure.

But you may only need seven. Look at the seven basic levels of your existence. If every basic goal connects to every basic level, it is EASY to maintain discipline. So choose goals in each of the four basic area: body, mind, relationships, finances. Then one at a time look at each of them.

1) How does your goal relate to your survival?

2) How does your goal relate to your sexuality?

3) How does your goal relate to your power and sense of security and influence on your environment and family?

4) How does your goal increase your ability to share and experience love?

5) How does your goal increase your ability to communicate honestly with yourself and the world?

6) How does your goal increase your capacity to learn and understand reality?

7) How does your goal create value that extends beyond your own death?

If your goals don't relate to all seven areas, perhaps you shouldn't have them at all. But if they've just found another secret.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Gay men aren't promiscuous. They're exactly the way straight men would be, if women would just cooperate, dammit!

Friday, March 23, 2012

I would be proud for my son to die as Trayvon Martin did

Ten Thoughts on Trayvon Martin

Ten Thoughts on Trayvon

I think I need to weigh in specifically on the Trayvon Martin case on a variety of counts, but I wanted to wait until I had more data. There are so many aspects to it that unless I wanted to write a book, all I can do is enumerate points and speak briefly on each of them. This isn't a research paper, so I won't be able to supply some of the references, but I'll do the very best I can to be honest at each step.

1) I first heard about the shooting two weeks ago. Unarmed black youth shot by white patrol officer, was the impression I got. In Florida. Well, this automatically played into my feelings about the South, and those feelings came from my parents (especially my mother) who had fled it, making it clear in no uncertain terms that, in their opinion, violence against blacks was institutionalized and supported as late as the 1960's.

2) When I found out Zimmerman wasn't even a cop but a "neighborhood watch" guy, I thought, certainly he would be arrested. Apparently, due to a Florida gun law, what happened was legal--if it was self defense. Hearing that Zimmerman observed and stalked Trayvon, confronted him, seemed to weaken that case. The fact that he outweighed Trayvon by over 100 pounds made him a coward and fool at the very best. And at worst...again, I didn't want to think about that. Certainly justice would be done.

3) The fact that Police Chief Bill Lee chose not to arrest him is police business, and I don't know the laws involved. But yesterday I heard an odd comment from Lee. This isn't a quote, and anyone who can find the original comment, please post a link. A rough quote was "If Zimmerman is exonerated, I hope the community comes together to help him recover from this. If it turns out that there are good reasons to charge him, I hope he is incarcerated for his safety."

I was following that statement, and fully expected the Chief to say: "and if there are good reasons to charge and convict him, I hope he is punished to the full extent of the law." But this? WHAT? I have literally, in my entire life, never heard a police representative more concerned for the safety of a criminal than the life of the child he killed. Never. A gigantic red light went off in my head. Lee was concerned with Zimmerman's welfare, not the life of the dead child. Not the family of the dead child. Not the local or national community who sees their own children in Trayvon, and feel fear. Could this happen to their own child..?

Why? Why would he empathize more with the shooter than the child (assuming my reaction had merit). Because they were both gun owners? No, criminals often own guns. Both police

officers? No, Zimmerman wasn't a police officer. Let's see. What else did they have in common....hmmm.

4) I cruised around the internet, looking at discussions about it. Saw a heartening amount of agreement on the vileness of this. Saw that agreement coming from whites, blacks, Liberals, and Conservatives. But there were also defenses of Zimmerman, and attacks on Trayvon. That wonderful human being Glen Beck had attacks on Trayvon on his blog, speculating that his suspension from school might have been because of rape or assault. What a prince. And I saw an undeniable fact: while sympathy for Trayvon and his family came from all quadrants, DEFENSE OF ZIMMERMAN came from a single quadrant that I could see: white Conservatives. Mostly male. Let me clarify: most white Conservatives seemed appalled by what happened to Trayvon. So Vin diagram wise, the set of people who were horrified included all quadrants. The set of people who defended Zimmerman and attacked Trayvon was totally within the circle called "white Conservatives".

5) I started noticing a distancing going on, a drive to label Zimmerman "Hispanic" rather than "white." And people seemed to have the position that it would be easier to criticize Zimmerman if they no longer considered him "one of them." Now, there is no scientific agreement on racial groups or divisions, and I understand that people divide things up differently, for a variety of reasons. In all honesty, I tend to look at humanity as having three primary colors (white, Asian, black) and everything else seems TO ME to be a blending of those. This is not "scientific" distinction, it is sociological. In other words, I've observed that actions and attitudes WITHIN those groups seems qualitatively and quantitatively different than actions and attitudes BETWEEN them. That every family knows the names of all their own children, but the family down the block is just "the Jones". So white people will (in my thinking) separate out Jews, and "white Hispanics" and Arabs, and so forth, while clustering Blacks together as a group without differentiation, even though there is more genetic and in Africa than the rest of the world combined. They don't care. Not their children. So this distancing seems emotional: "we will defend our tribe unless there is no choice at all. And if there is no choice, we'll do all we can to say they were never one of "us" in the first place." Does this make sense? I remember years ago, Jerry Pournelle talking about some exclusive club or organization. Perhaps the Masons, I forget. Anyway, they had the position that no Mason had ever been a criminal. And they could prove this because as soon as a Mason was convicted (if it was Masons he was referring to. I'm sorry) they revoked his Masonic cred retroactively. Cute.

A prediction: if it becomes impossible to pretend Zimmerman is innocent, watch the "hispanic" meme spread like wildfire across certain quadrants of the blogosphere and cable news. Faster than a speeding bullet.

6) Was Zimmerman acting from racial animus? It is impossible to mind read, or see what is in his heart. Looking ONLY at the actions that evening, some interesting things arise. If we study what Zimmerman said, during his 911 call and afterward, the fact of Trayvon's race seems to be very very important to him. When describing him, race came first, before age, gender, or anything else. At one point he says "he has his hand in his waistband. He's a black male." It is an assumption that these two comments are linked by some unifying thread, and not randomly thrown together under stress. If a description for the sake of police identification, why "his hand is in his waistband"? Did he expect Trayvon to still have his hand in his waistband minutes later when the police arrived 5-10 minutes later? Seems far fetched. I suspect he was describing WHY HE THOUGHT TRAYVON WAS A THREAT. "He has his hand in his waistband" means that he may be concealing a weapon. "He's a black male" may mean black and therefore probably a criminal. He brings up race again a minute later. Then when the 911 operator basically tells him to chill out, the kid is probably just walking (and she sounded like a white lady. I was proud of her!) Zimmerman began to flip, mumbling to himself about how "they" always get away with it. Which "they" would that be, Zimmie m'boy? Criminals in general? Boys in general? Let me see...

Then he mumbled something deep under his breath. There has been argument about what he said. Here is a link to a variously equalized version of it:

He says "fucking XXX." What is XXX? Room for debate. Someone said "tools." I heard a "c" or a "k" as the first consonant. Not a "t" at the end. Definitely an "n". Now, that first consonant MIGHT have been a "g". It really might. They're so close together. Say "goon" and then "coon" and notice how similarly your tongue positions itself. So plausibly, independent of everything else, he might have said "fucking goons." In combination with the other references, that becomes hard to believe, but possible.

I have zero respect for a grown ass man who voluntarily accepts being a Neighborhood Watch officer and chooses to confront a kid he outweighs by 100 pounds, and then wants me to believe that he felt so threatened he had to pull a gun and kill him. AUTOMATICALLY, this guy has lost all my respect, even if what he is saying is 100% true. I mean, if Trayvon was champion of his boxing squad, or a black belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu, I might have a good laugh about him getting his ass kicked...but there still is no excuse for shooting him, when you can lock yourself in your car. Or just not confront him in the first place, if you are such a wussie that getting a bloody nose gives you internal permission to kill. At the LEAST, he is a disgrace to gun owners, Neighborhood watch people, and men all over the planet. Good lord. And at worst? He was offended that this little black kid was in HIS neighborhood. Followed him, confronted him, and was not given the respect he thought he deserved. Started a confrontation. Either began to lose it and panicked, or killed the boy for disrespect, believing that the local police would look the other way. And he almost got away with it.

8) Enough about this piece of human garbage. And the police chief whose department has had racial problems in the past. And a part of the country that has a 400 year history of violence toward black people without the intervention of law enforcement, only curtailed in the last 70 years or so, when the Federal branch had to come in and shut the shit down...triggering that mealy-mouthed "States Rights" complaint. And while we're at it, may I assume Ron Paul believes the Fed shouldn't get involved, and should never have? Thanks, Ronnie.

9) Enough of that. This will play out the way it does. Perhaps justice, perhaps not. I don't know what "justice" is here, because I wasn't there (although witnesses seem to indicate that Trayvon was on the ground, begging, when he was shot. Maybe the witnesses are lying. Right.) I don't care about Zimmerman. Or Lee. Not really. What I care about is my own son. I've always known, or believed, that the institutionalized racism in the South (and elsewhere) placed me at greater risk for dying than I would have were I white. And before someone trots out the truth that blacks are capable of racism, and commit racist acts against whites, might I say that this is true: but they are hardly protected by the white establishment. Every stat I've ever seen says that whites routinely are arrested, convicted and sentenced for killing blacks at a lower rate than blacks are for killing whites. And that all other things held constant, if you are rich, white, and/or female you will be arrested, convicted and serve time less than if you are poor, black, and male. Anyone who wants to believe that whites are somehow at a disadvantage uses anecdotal evidence, and with that you can prove anything you want. I remember a white college (high school?) class in New York asked how much money they would have to be offered to start their lives over as black. The number they came up with was a million dollars. THAT was their perception of the value of white privilege. Kudos.

10) Lastly, and most importantly. What do you say to your children about this? Especially if your children are black? And male? I mean, I have a son who looks just like Trayvon to me. That could have been him, in our housing complex. This shit isn't theoretical at all. And I've had many, many friends, readers, and FB fans ask me what the hell they do. I had a flame war with a white guy who basically said Trayvon should have Yassuh'd his way out of it.

And what I'm about to say is un-PC as hell, but I hope everyone will understand that it comes from the heart:

I would be proud for my son to die as Trayvon did. Injustice of any kind depends upon fear, upon backing down. In other words, bullies and monsters count on never running into a warrior.

How do you make a slave? The same way you make a dog. You get them to forget that they used to be wolves. You capture human beings, and kill anyone who won't stop fighting. Shoot them, stab them, throw them over the side of the ships, whip them to death. Torture them in front of their families. Break them. Cull the later generations of any of that 5-10% of natural warrior archetypes. Convince the others that they are inferior. Why the hell do you think America was so reluctant to allow blacks to fight in their wars? Blacks came back from WW2 with the fascinating, visceral knowledge that whites were no braver or tougher than they were, despite centuries of conditioning to the contrary. That white boys cried for their mommas when their intestines spilled just like everyone else. That they died just as easily. There is no accident that after centuries of oppression, the civil rights era blossomed just one generation of black men returned from Europe knowing how to kill white men. Trust me.

Trayvon had every reasonable expectation that an adult who outweighed him by over 100 pounds would consider that sufficient advantage. And apparently, he refused to shuffle, drop his eyes, or act in a way that would have mollified Zimmerman. Which, apparently, enraged him to the point of homicidal frenzy.

Given what I know, or think I know...what will I tell my son? I will raise him to be a warrior, as I have been doing. To be strong, and confident, and deadly. The only mistake Trayvon made was not carrying a knife and gutting this cowardly cow-pie of a man.

And you know what? Jason might run into a Zimmerman one day. And Zimmerman might kill him. Oh, well, everyone dies. But here's the point: when one generation stands up, more of the NEXT generation survives. Being a man, being a warrior, increases the risk for that man, but decreases the risk for future generations, can you grasp that? This has ALWAYS been true for warriors: if you stand up, you might get shot down. But if you don't stand up, the forces of evil will take and take and take until there is nothing left. And then they will grind you into the gutter, and piss on you. And then they will say: "look at that broke, broken, stinking thing in the gutter. That is his natural state. He must LIKE being like that. Tsk tsk."

I've heard that all my life, and for most of my life I didn't speak my mind. I'm closer to death than birth now, and have run out of bullshit.

My son will be proud of who he is. He will offer insult to no man, but accept none. John Wayne is probably the greatest archetype of the white male. What did he say in his final film, The Shootist? How did he sum up his life, a credo I've heard countless white males hold up as the epitome of manhood?

"I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them."

How dare anyone suggest I should raise my own son any differently.

Trayvon is a hero. I say it again and I mean it: I would be proud for my son to die as he did. Homicidally angry at the system that raised Zimmerman to think he could get away with it...

but prouder than hell.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A mental game of hoops

I think that intelligence is one of those things hardest for people to separate from "worth." So they are afraid that people smarter than them are actually better than them, and so go into denial that anyone could actually be smarter than they are. To me, intelligence is like height in basketball. It is an important factor, but the real question is whether you can get the ball through the hoop.

Just a morning thought. I was going to talk more about the rewrite on SOUTH BY SOUTH-EAST, but when I woke up this morning, there was a note from my collaborator Charles Johnson, with whom I’m writing a little horror short story. He just read my most recent draft of the story, which I sent to him on Friday. And loved it. This is a big “win” for me, because I have massive respect for this National Book Award winning writer. I’m just a poor commercial writer, laboring in the trenches, and the respect of such a lion means worlds to me.

The point is that I was nervous as a kitten. After all these years, every single time I work, the voice in my head still tells me I’m not good enough. It will never die completely: I know that. But I also now understand that it is all right. That that voice doesn’t HAVE to shut up. It is not it’s job to be quiet. It is my job to develop a balancing voice, a sense of loving myself, and my process, and continuing onward, no matter what.

Monday, March 19, 2012

"Will you always love me?"

Saturday, my son played his first soccer game of the season. He was nervous, and I reminded him of his very first judo competition, two years ago. He was so frightened, and I knew that what frightened him most was failing to make me proud.

"What happens if I lose?" he said.

"Then we go for ice cream."

"What if I win?"

"Then you win. And we go for ice cream."

He paused. "What do I do tomorrow?"

He was only six then. So small and vulnerable, so desperate for my approval. I knew that this would be one of the defining moments of his life, if I could handle it properly.

"This is all I want from you," I said. "I want you to focus. To relax. To do the very best you can do. To act with everything you have. Then, if you win, be polite. And if you lose, shake his hand. If you need more work, we'll do it. But tomorrow? Play hard. This is the show."

His voice was a whisper. "And you'll love me, no matter what?"

"No matter what."

I kissed my boy, and turned out the light. In the morning, he came downstairs looking very serious. "I've decided what I'm going to do," he said.


"I'm going to be like a scorpion. I'm going to be very still. Then choose my moment...and strike."

I loved it. He went out there that day and, in his first tournament, tore his opponents a new one. Politely, of course. And brought home first place.


And Saturday? The coaches said he played better than ever. More blocks, more shots, more focus, more clarity. And his team won 5-0. Ouch!

That's my boy. But more than everything else, he needed...he NEEDS to know that I love him. That he is not risking that love. Then, he is free to perform.


And this is what you must do. You must come FROM love, rather than trying to EARN "lovability" through performance. Every morning, connect with your heart. Create an image of the child you were, and remember that YOU need that unquestioning love as much as that six year old imp I call "son."

You are now your own parent. Do your damned job!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Diamond Hour today! J. Tamar Stone, founder of Voice Dialogue technique
1pm Pacific.

(724) 444-7444

Friday, March 16, 2012

Newspapers are good for more than training puppies...

I was asked to do an article on writing for a science fiction writer's textbook. I love assignments like this, the chance to offer suggestions to newbies, as wonderful writers like Ray Bradbury, Larry Niven, Harlan Ellison and Gordy Dickson did to me, early in my own career.

I offered the concept of the "Machine" a way of organizing your writing life so that you are inputting ten words for every word you write, and writing a story a week or every other week. To accomplish this, you need a fluid flow of creativity, and fear will force many people into writer's block. As a defense against this, I suggested the "Newspaper" exercise, just for fun.


Open the newspaper and give yourself one minute to find an article upon which to base a story idea. You don't have to write the story, but DO block it out briefly. This kind of exercise gives you invaluable skills. It is important that you have confidence in your ability to think yourself out of any corner you might back yourself into, that you can generate a hundred ideas an hour for days at a time. And the only way you can do that is to practice generating creativity on demand.

You'll find hundreds of more practical, immediately applicable but generative ideas in the LIFEWRITING YEAR LONG course, available NOW!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

On being relaxed and erect...

In generating and channeling sexual energy--or all life energy, the key is to identify the most critical aspects of our personality. My greatest meditation Guru, Sri Chinmoy, taught that we can awaken our "internal energies" (again, don't attach too much to the language) from survival "up" or from the loving heart center "out" but we CANNOT do it by building a mental model of the world and then trying to twist our experience to fit it.

Survival drives are critical, and trying to operate in opposition to them is pretty futile. But unless we are experiencing love our lives are filled with fear and hopelessness.

Every day when I write these notes, I look at all the letters I receive, the email, the phone calls and posts, and try to find ways to address as many of these things as I can in the two hours a day I give myself for these communications (hey! I have another life, y'know.)

Here's what I know. When you betray yourself, cut yourself off from your own heart, you will give yourself away to others in the fruitless quest to fill the hole in your chest. You will give and give and allow others to take. You will attract predators and wounded desperate people instead of healthy, self-directed human beings, and be disappointed every time. And ultimately you will become embittered, believing both that love is an impossible dream and that the world is filled with horrible twisted people.

The bitterest people are the ones who began with hope, but not the self-respect required to say "no" to those who will not treat you with love and healthy regard.

So your quest for power, for control of your life, for a healthy and dynamic expression of all your energies MUST be based on aligning your survival drives and your love of self and life. When you "anchor" those two point, and then be certain that your sexual needs are being satisfied in a healthy, ethical way that aligns with survival (safe sex, or sex within a bonded relationship) and your emotions (respect, affection, responsibility, honesty, non-coersive, not desperate or needy, etc.). At this point, you have created the base for the generation of phenomenal energy that can propagate through the rest of your life and empower you in ways you may not have ever experienced or imagined.'ve experienced the "flutter" of slowing your breathing. You've also begun to notice the internal shifts that precede orgasm. Now combine the breathing with an exploration of your relationship with love and fear, by using "Heartbeat Meditation."

Heartbeat meditation is, simply, to sit quietly and "listen" to your own heartbeat. Keep your finger on your pulse if necessary, but as you balance your body (sit relaxed but erect, with your head held as if by a string from above) and let the tension go, you will begin to feel the "tremble" of your body with each heartbeat.

Now...and this is no joke: note the phrase "relaxed but erect." Consider that Viagra works at least partially by allowing relaxation of smooth muscles, enhancing capillary response. Consider that stress is a major trigger for impotence. Read between the lines, please: the ability to focus without fear is a route to enhanced performance across the board...and across the bed.

So take 15-20 minutes and practice Heartbeat Meditation. Your mind will jump and squirm in a thousand directions--this is totally natural. Then, you might find yourself going to sleep, nodding off. All of this is nothing more than the ego trying to protect itself. Love yourself enough to be ruthless!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Thing Itself

How do you begin to combine sexual energy with the energy necessary to power the rest of your life? The first thing you have to do is separate "energy" (and we're not quite using this term in the strict physics sense. Unfortunately, we just don't have the English language to describe these things precisely. We'll do the best we can!)

The search for "the thing itself" separate from its filligree or manifestations, or separate from our sensory or conceptual input about it, has been a central question in world philosophy. Not to get into these things from a Kantian or Buddhist view but rather an experimental and experiential view, what we want to do is extract from the "second chakra" experience of sexuality the experience of an energy that also pops up on the other six levels.

One way to do this is to connect everything with breathing. Almost every profound practice affects or is affected by breathing, in one way or another. It is a lovely unifying activity. Sexual energy is secondary. Survival is primary. Misinterpretation of Freudian theory makes it seem that he felt sexual intercourse was the most important thing in life. First, Freud seemed to use "sex" in the sense of union and passion, a connection with growth, becoming, evolving, and creation. Physical intercourse was just an aspect of this.

Second, if you think Freud actually meant that sexual intercourse was the most powerful motivating force, then you are simply saying that Freud was wrong. Survival trumps everything. Nobody stops running from a forest fire to get laid. Sorry.

The lovely thing about investigating survival and sexuality as aspects of the same thing is that it makes sense on a biological sense (sex is genetic survival, pair-bond partnership, and physical health) and removal of fear from the equation allows deep relaxation which enhances orgasm and makes erections easier to obtain and sustain, as well as allow relaxation of ego walls, leading to more intense experiences. There is simply no down-side.

The personal experiment you can conduct is to use breathing.

1) Go to a quiet place, where you will not be disturbed for 10-20 minutes. Have a clock with a second hand.

2) Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth. It is allowable to inhale and exhale through your nose.

3) Breathe deep in the belly rather than high in the chest.

4) Note the number of breaths per minute. Begin to slow your breathing.

5) For most people, when your breaths get down to about 3-4 per minute, you will begin to feel a "tickle" in your head as cardio respiratory distress kicks in--your body's need for oxygen. This is easy to interpret as fear.

6) Stay right here, balanced at the place where your body is uncomfortable, but not in panic mode. Observe your reactions. You are safe, but your mind is reacting on the edge of terror. See if you can separate yourself from the emotional response. What is your mind saying to you? Are there mini-klaxons screaming? Do you tremble? What images or thoughts come up?

7) Now...speed up your breathing until this diminishes. What is your mind saying now? Slow it down again. Go back and forth, tip-toeing back and forth across this line.

If you stop labeling this emotional response as "fear" you will find a feeling that is not just primary to fear, but as we'll discover next time, is also part of the sexual response.

Guess what? You've just opened the door to a fascinating internal world. See you next time!


Monday, March 12, 2012

On to Sexual Magic!

I am so happy to be finished laying out the basic principles for Sex Transmutation, the conversion of sexual energy into success energy. Laying down those basic allows me to start backing up and discussing

1) the freeing of sexual energy

2) the use of sexual energy to increase overall energy

3) The use of energy to advance life plans

And the applications of all these things in my own life, and the lives of my students. I'm being aided in this effort by my friend Mukee Okan, teacher of advanced yogic and sexual "magic" principles, and an all around terrific lady.

First, let's take a look at the question of united sexual energy with our other life forces. Steve loves the model of the yogic chakras, which postulates a series of "energy vortices" up the spine, usually seven. From the tailbone-up they represent survival, sexuality, power, emotion, communication, intellect, and spirit. In other words, every challenge of your life is just another version of the same basic challenge: to explore and master our inner and outer worlds.

As infants, we first learn to explore our world through touch, taste, and sight. We learn what is "us" and what is "not us"--we develop an ego shell to help us define ourselves. This is a very good thing. The trick is that this shell is not really "us." From time to time, we experience massive life shocks that disabuse us of the notion that "ordinary" reality or identity is absolute and real. Of all the common experiences that do this, survival threat is probably the most powerful and basic. But right next door to that is a powerful sexual experience. In other words, sexuality is a door to clarity of perception exceeded only by being in a car wreck or crouching in a fox hole. Properly addressed, can be a key to understanding who and what you realy are as a being.

More to the point, the quest to discover your true identity involves unraveling the "ego cocoon" and there by freeing ourselves from ordinary fears and timidity, dissolving the stress that can limit our sexual expression and leading to a positive spiral that can benefit everything. Energy is energy--it just manifests in different forms or "frequencies" if you will.

Raise your energy, change your life. We'll be back to this next time, but swiftly:

1) Clarify your goals. What will you DO with the energy when you have it? The clearer your goal, the easier it is to plot your path.

2) Have goals in all four basic areas: body, mind, spirit, and finances.

3) Rewrite your goals DAILY.

4) Be certain that one of your goals is to double your energy.

5) Passion is passion. Pursue your external goals with the same intensity you would pursue a sexual partner. Make love as if you are creating an energetic "child" composed of the very best of you and your partner.

6) If you are currently without a partner, make this one of your intents. Raise your energy with self-pleasuring, and visualize/mentalize your perfect life as your energy raises, and as you reach orgasm. Feel your body and mind "sizzle" with energy. And take this "sizzle" out into your life, every day.

7) From time to time, raise that energy without reaching orgasm...that enhanced hunger will add more "umph" to your efforts. "If I work hard today...I'm gonna get what I want." Or to put it the way one vulture said to the other: "Patience my ass! I'm gonna kill something!"

And no...we don't want you to kill anything. Except perhaps your false self image.

Friday, March 09, 2012

First Draft Finished this morning!

I finished the first draft of the script today! Wish I could tell you more about the subject, title, research, and so forth, but that has to wait a while. Unfortunately, people really do steal movie ideas. Books, not so much.

Anyway, I wanted to detail the sequence of action.

1) Coming up with the original idea. Writing it down.

2) Creating a stack of 3x5 cards, each card detailing one scene. Carry the cards with you, working with them at odd moments. This went on for about four months.

3) The creation of a pitch. This should ideally be about three pages. Read this pitch to friends, and see if they respond to the core events.

4) Expand this pitch into a short treatment, about 10 pages. Flesh out motivations and characters. See if the idea still works. Get feedback and comments.

5) Use Final Draft and begin to create a 1st draft script (I love Final Draft because it has an "Index Card" view that allows me to see the entire story onscreen at one time). Avoid dialogue, but discuss the meaning of scenes, subtext, events and so forth.

6) Add dialogue.

NOW...if this is a script, polish. But if you're using this process to create a novel, just copy the entire script into a text editor, expand the descriptions out, and create depth in the "inner world" of the characters.

It's worked for my last ten novels, and I may well be using it for the rest of my life. Its...painless, and efficient as heck.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Self-Love and creativity

Self Love

"I hate myself." Remember I said a colleague said this to me? And that it suddenly helped to explain an entire raft of negative results he had gotten in his life?

Thirty years ago, when I was a baby writer, an older, more established writer handed me a business card. It read: "(NAME). Freelance hack and literary mechanic."

Not surprisingly, this man was dead within eighteen months, due to alcohol poisoning. What kind of self-image was that? A hack is someone who creates material he himself would not read, or view, or recommend to anyone he respected. Someone who is not working at the edge of his ability. What does that have to do with self-love? Or success?


1) Success demands taking chances. Your optimal expression of skill and "talent" will always come when you are immersed in the experience of creation, and usually when you are walking the tightrope.

2) Working at the edge means you are constantly risking failure. You have to have a re-integration strategy in place, to help you when failure triggers depression and anger. And if you have genuinely invested yourself? Trust me, your negative voices will come boiling up.

3) Think about this emotional response in child terms. When your child fails, they hurt. They not only want to know you have confidence that they can "do" it, but reassurance that you love them for their own sake, separate from their ability to "do." To be able to take risks, they HAVE to know that there is a bedrock, something that they are not risking. And that is your love.

I don't love my son Jason, because he is a "human do-ing." I love him because he is my boy, and a divine gift, and a "human be-ing." We have to give ourselves that same gift of confidence and support.

No matter what happens. No matter if you fail or succeed. No matter what anyone else must love yourself. If you don't, you'll spent your life either bitter, or seeking that approval from others. And nothing anyone outside you ever does can fill your heart. People who expect you to "make them happy" are playing a nasty little con game. Don't be one of them.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Sport and Spirit


Last Saturday's Diamond Hour radio show was just fabulous. I interviewed former NFL linebacker David Meggyesy, founder of the Esalen Sports Institute, who teaches extensively on the connection between sport and spirituality, or higher consciousness.

This is yet another instance of high-level performance being linked to non-ordinary states of consciousness. One of the lovely things about David's work is that he has demonstrated BOTH that high performers operate in these odd mental realms, and that if you teach ordinary athletes to access these states, their performance improves.

David also said that if you "scratch an athlete, you find a mystic." That almost all these guys have experiences they are not comfortable talking about in the media, but that in quiet conversations they will discuss time distortion, perceptions of "unity" with opponents, ability to control pain and energy that has nothing to do with their ordinary, external lives...and that they rarely discuss publicly. David, bless his heart, is trying to push beyond that!

A couple of critical things that David believes help to access these states:

1) Taking responsibility for your personal experience. You are not controlled by external actions. YOU decide how you are going to feel on a daily basis.

2) A commitment to something larger than yourself. Team, society, God...something.

Further, he considers that these two things are actually two sides of the same coin. It was a great conversation! He mentioned that dealing with fear was one of the most important things to handle. I've mentioned the perspective that fear and love compete for control of your heart. Reduce--or reinterpret--the fear, and you leave more room for the positive emotions.

A specific tactic he suggested is having a "conversation" with the fear. Asking it what it wants, what it represents. Ask what would happen if you "felt the fear and did it anyway." And then take that conversation to the end of the line.

"What would happen if I did go skiing?

You might break your leg.

"And if I broke my leg, then what?"

Well, you might lose your job.

"And if I lost my job, then what?"

You'd be out on the street.

"And if I was out on the street, then what?"
You'd be humiliated and starving...

Really follow it down, see if it makes sense. Give your fear a voice, and youmight learn something valuable and liberating!