It's either death and rebirth of a new chapter at this age or death and transition to whatever is next…
“Time is a great teacher… unfortunately it ultimately calls its students home ”
When you are shooting a movie or television series on location, a particularly time of day is refered to as the "golden hour." It is the one time of day that the location is bathed in golden light just as the sun goes down. I have been part of film crews who have waited patiently for that precise moment to get the perfect shot.
When it comes you have approximately ten minutes to capture the golden moment and then it is gone. I find myself in that twilight time of my life. That is not a bad thing, just another step in my journey towards that moment when I get to go home. And in the immortal words of the Grateful Dead… “What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been.”
This final “twilight” chapter contains my ramblings at this age about life and death, hope, despair and meaning. Hopefully it will stimulate some thoughts in you while you still have the blessings of youth.
My grandfather told me something once when I was about 18 years old that resonates with me now. We were standing in his semi-darkened living room after his wife Miriam (my grandmother) had died. He said… “you won’t understand this now, but you get to a point in your life when the entire world you have been a part of fades away. Some of that is your contemporaries dying as friends and family take their final breath and move on. But there is more to it than that. The world you have felt a part of is hardly recognizable to you anymore.”
That short interchange took place in the early part of 1967 before he died at the end of that year. The world at that moment, driven by my boomer generation coming of age, was truly being turned upside down. All the rules, social norms and cultural qualities that he had felt comfortable with were being challenged.
My Now and Future
As I write this, I am feeling a bit like that now. The circumstances brought on by the Covid Pandemic certainly haven't helped. I have experienced a profound loneliness since 2020 as a result of not working with creative teams like I have all my life. In addition, as I look out through my Internet browser into the world, it seems less and less like something I belong in anymore.
Or to put it another way, the changes necessary to create the world I want to live in, will take much longer than I have in this life to bring to fruition. I suspect that conditions on this planet are going to get a lot worse before they get better after I am gone. That is going to require you to step up to the challenges as they unfold from the impacts of climate change, the wealth gap, the state of democracy, racism and emergent technologies like artificial intelligence impacting everything. I have every reason to believe you will.
And One Question is….
One way you can look at the final chapter of your life is framed by the question… “why am I still here?” As of this moment I have gotten up on 27,658 days (use current number) and done something. Isn’t that enough one might ask? Why stay around any longer if my contributions to this extraordinary life which I have been gifted are diminishing at this age? This had certainly been on my mind for the last 3 years since my cancer diagnosis.
My life up to this point has been a magical mystery tour beyond my wildest expectations. Through all the ups and downs, successes and failures, I’ve been lucky enough to create a life I loved centered around my creative work, relationships, and a deep connection to the natural world.
And to the best of my ability, I have attempted to give something back to the culture I was born into. As I said at the top of this Exit Interview, my dream as a child was to live a life that was not boring. I think we can say with confidence that it has hardly been boring.
The Art of Letting Go
My experience with transitions in the past usually involved the question… “are you willing to give up everything you know to transition to what is next?”
Sometimes as past transitions came upon me it was hard for me to let go of an identity or a relationship or a job in order to open up to the next chapter. When a transition was under way I always felt it, but the question remained, was I willing to move out of my comfort zone.
Here are some examples from my life. You could say each of them could have happened in another way, but this is the way they unfolded for me. As I look back on all of it, I am amazed at the synchronicities that emerged that influenced what my life became. Metaphorically leaping off some pretty tall cliffs without a parachute. I am not suggesting this course of action is for everybody, but it is one way I found I could live and experience my life fully.
--- The first one is open to interpretation. Did I “choose” to be born San Francisco circa 1947. If so, I entered this life in the SF Bay Area environs as opposed to the other 380,000 babies that were born on my birthday who went somewhere else. There was a real advantage to being born in America after the Second World War, instead of in the rubble and poverty that plagued most other nations. And of all places in the United States, San Francisco and Berkeley were ideal landing spots.
--- I was flunking out in my sophomore year of high school. I just didn’t get how to approach the college preparatory instruction I was expected to excel in. Most of it seemed theoretical to me. Simply meant to be mimicked back on some test. I wanted to know why I was doing it. That resulted in me feeling like a round object trying to fit into a square hole.
For whatever reason “fate” stepped in. Berkeley High offered a, first of its kind, team teaching program in my junior year that was based on a practical engineering approach to problem solving. At first I worried about the social implications of being in this “special” class, but I took a chance and jumped in. At that point I had nothing to lose.
The Pre-Tech approach totally changed my whole perspective on learning. The practical aspect of writing up some proposal for a project I wanted to create and then using math, science and organizational skills to bring it to life made total sense to me. It taught me how to take something lurking in my very active imagination and bring it into the world.
The grades I got in my junior and senior year were just good enough to get me into college, but the real value of taking a risk on this program was simply doing something different. It led to a lifetime rule. “If something is not working, change your story about it.” This would influence 50 years of creative endeavors where I got to live out most of what I could imagine.
--- Even though I did well in my junior and senior years of high school my college possibilities were somewhat limited. San Jose State wanted me to play water polo for them, but I was tired of training in the pool every day. So I headed to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. Coming from a big urban upbringing to a quieter rural environment gave me a sheltered space to re-invent myself at that point, although I didn’t know what that meant until I got into it.
When I arrived at Cal Poly I had no idea I would be making my first record three years later with some very talented musicians I met on the Central Coast. It hadn’t even occurred to me when I came to Poly that music would be my first entertainment career. Now, this may have happened somewhere else as well, but the choice to go to school at Cal Poly led me to the people I was supposed to meet and gave me the opportunity to make it happen. This is how it unfolded.
In my freshman year in college an ex-girlfriend from high school wrote me a letter describing an event she had been to which sounded like some sort of weird tribal dance. I thought she had lost her mind in some drug haze. It turned out the event she was writing me about took place at the Fillmore Auditorium, the birthplace of the 60’s San Francisco psychedelic sound.
I went to see for myself. It was like a religious experience. Whatever this “electric” band thing was, I felt called to do it. Thus began 10 years of making records. Would I have stumbled on to this new music somewhere else. Probably, but this was the way it happened.
--- As I finished my senior year at Poly I had the expectation I would graduate and then set off to LA to continue my music career. However, I found out late in the term that I would need to take at least two more quarters of classes to have the credits to graduate. I’m sure in all the chaotic excitement of being in a band, making records etc. I missed the memo somewhere. I did not know what to do. My heart was already in Hollywood as a result of the experience of making my first record the prior year, but what if I needed a BS in sociology as a plan B, should I bite the bullet and stay and finish?
It wasn’t much of a deliberation, I headed to LA. You might ask, did I ever regret not finishing my degree later on in my life? Yes, sometimes, but IF I hadn’t headed south into the unknown of Hollywood at that point, I would not have met Jerry Corbetta and JC Philips and written "Green Eyed Lady" a year later. It might have happened another way, but creating GEL was partly a “being in the right place moment.”
My music career unfolded in LA over the next three years, but with the breakup of my band Sweet Pain I made the decision to go back to the Bay Area.
I was tired of being on the road all the time as much fun as the rock and roll lifestyle was a dream come true. So, I literally packed my car and headed north. My mother and my siblings had not come back to the Bay Area yet.
Because I had enough money to not to have to do anything for a while, I just jumped into new experiences, new friends, new music studios etc. but what really happened is that through a set of unforeseen circumstances I got interested in designing and building inflatable learning environments. Go figure.
Four more music albums were up ahead as well, but it was the three years I spent designing, fund raising, building and testing the inflatable learning environment idea that I eventually received a US patent on, that was the surprise that showed up because of heading north to the Bay Area after Sweet Pain. The inflatable work in the Mission District also brought something else. I met Jessica Britt, who would become my lover and lifetime friend.
Equally importantly she would later introduce me to the Esalan Institute and Dick Price. Dick was the therapist I did my first gestalt work on the traumas of my childhood.
How could I have predicted any of that heading north on Route 5 a year earlier.
• I hate blind dates with a passion, so five years later when a creative colleague pushed me to meet a women in Hollywood I resisted. She kept at it though and just to shut her up I promised to meet Jane Bay for coffee. That first encounter with Jane opened up a whole new chapter of my life that would include my first marriage, and finding the inspiration for the next 15 years of my work in Hollywood.
After I recorded my last album in 1975, I knew I was done with the music and song writing I had been doing for 10 years. Once again I headed out. This time on a whim to Colorado on a road trip that resulted in me discovering two places that would play a big part in my life much later on. Boulder, Colorado and the San Luis Valley.
Boulder would be where Jennifer, Matt and I would move many years later and the San Luis Valley became one of my favorite sacred places on the planet.
When I decided to go home from Colorado, I could have gone back to the Bay Area, but instead I headed to Hollywood on Jane's invitation. The time there exposed me to the film business. It looked like something I might want to try next.
• In 1976 Jane and I decided to live together in the Bay Area. Jane was an executive at Motown Films, but she was tired of making bad films. However, she had no idea what she would do in San Francisco. Once we put that choice in motion however, something happened that would change Jane’s life and led me to my next entertainment career.
Jane met George Lucas a week after the first Star Wars film came out while we were still in LA. He offered her the best job in film in the Bay Area as his chief of staff, He needed someone to help him build Lucasfilm which didn’t really exist yet as a real company. This began over 40 years of work for Jane with George and indirectly led to my next big entertainment chapter. Would that have happened if Jane and I had decided to head to the Bay Area. We will never know.
• I did spend some time in LA developing movies with some friends for about a year. However, I got bored with the “development” aspect of film making and not actually making the film. I also discovered most film and television “producing” was mostly an organizational job. I wanted to create my own stories.
I happened to have lunch in LA with Charlie Weber, who was the CEO of Lucasfilm at the time and he asked me if I wanted to do a research project for them looking into the “new” technologies that were emerging in 1980. That included satellite television, cable news, video game machines, and home computers etc. It meant I would fly all over the US and meet with some of the smartest people in the world about what was emerging next in technology and entertainment. Again, I stepped into unfamiliar territory.
One of those stops was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston Mass where I saw the first interactive movie that utilized laserdisc technology. This began 15 years of work for me helping invent the interactive entertainment business at places like Time Warner, Disney and Phillips Media. All of that could have happened another way, but the decision Jane and I made in empty space to move north put that potential into play.
• At the end of that chapter in 1985, my marriage to Jane ended. I had also met Joyce Mason, who was an old friend of my first love in college… Anita. We fell into love pretty quickly, but she lived in Del Mar just north of San Diego. As things came to a close in Marin, I packed my car again and headed south to live with Joyce and her kids.
Three things emerged from that choice. One, I discovered triathlons and trained for five years. It was the biggest physical challenge I had ever taken on but I loved it. The other had to do with my work. I could not find another place to create interactive entertainment like we had with the laserdisc arcade games that had crashed, so I thought I was going back into the film business. That was until Joyce’s brother showed me a game on the new Amiga computer made by a company called Cinemaware.
It was a game based on the Robin Hood movies called “Defender of the Crown.” As crude as it was the concept of creating games of the movies we loved really appealed to me. I went to work for them and first created the hit game series “It Came From the Desert.”
That led me to running interactive entertainment groups at the major movie studios...
All that from one decision to head south to Del Mar. I also got my first experience as a stepfather.
• Cut to eight years later, Joyce and I decide to separate. I was riding high in my career, but having numerous affairs on the side. When the last one ended I thought I would just focus on running the division at Disney, but out of nowhere I had a mental break of sorts and had to do a lot of growing up through some intense personal therapy. All this resulted in some past karma being burned away and prepared me to meet the Dali Lama and Jennifer Walton.
Sometimes, you have to go down the rabbit hole to see where it goes. This one was incredibly painful, but necessary for me at that point.
• By the time I got done creating my last interactive movie, “Of Light and Darkness -The Prophecy” I was tired of the grind. I had been creating interactive entertainment and games for 15 years. I had lived out all my fantasies of what it would be like to run a division for a major studio like Disney or Time Warner. Something else was also in the air. I don’t know if it was me turning 50, but I could not turn away from what was going on the world. As I looked out from my little, privileged Hollywood bubble, the world seemed to be challenged.
At the same time, the Internet also arrived and that meant I could work from anywhere… on what was not clear. Jennifer and I decided to move to Whidbey Island just north of Seattle. I had done a bunch of work for Microsoft and Nintendo while at Time Warner, so living on an island off the Seattle coast did not seem unreasonable. After we arrived on the island we found the Whidbey Institute.
It was sort of like the Esalan Institute, but more focused on the environment and cultural challenges. I sat for the better part of two years and listened to bestselling authors talk about their view of the future. I also collaborated with some very talented photographers on my first Internet project. They were doing remote viewing of “live” eco-expeditions that were taking place in environmentally threatened areas around the globe. They were uploading the moving images through an early satellite network. School kids loved having this “live” view of places and animals they had never seen. This laid the groundwork for building similar web properties later that would include Google Ocean. It was just the education I needed at that moment and set the tone for the next 20 years of work trying to give something back to the world that had been so generous to me.
• What we didn’t count on when we moved to Whidbey as Net pioneers was the first Internet bubble crashing. We had our own money invested in our web properties so it hurt us. A few of the big companies I was also consulting for went out of business leaving me without income. A transition had started again.
• I headed south in a big RV we had bought with my cat Zephyr.
The crash was hard on my relationship with Jennifer. We took a break from each other as she headed to Tucson AZ to help get a fancy wellness spa open. I went to San Francisco and ended up doing some work for an old friend. While there, he went to a conference and met a young filmmaker that had this crazy idea about guerrilla philanthropy. What he was imagining was a reality TV show with a heart that would help people in need picked randomly on the street. Even though I liked the concept and could imagine the web part of the transmedia play, I never thought we would sell it to a cable TV network. But we did and that launched Random 1 and the follow up documentary about what happened to us on Random 1… Lost in Woonsocket.
Something else happened on that show that would also foreshadow something I would get into when I got home to Boulder. I will talk about that in a minute.
• I spent part of my RV “digital nomad” period in the Southwest. I loved Santa Fe and the surrounding canyons. While there I met a woman who was running eco raft trips on rivers deep into the Colorado Plateau. On one of those trips we found a small, ancient Native American village built up into the canyon wall. The river was the only way to get to it. I had seen pictures of these kind of cliff dwellings before, but this one had a profound effect on me.
Humans had inhabited the Colorado Plateau for thousands of years and now it was having problems stuck between the needs of three cultures, Native, Spanish and White European. I got a grant to “storycatch” the principle players. That led me deep into the Navajo and Hopi reservations. Sitting around their hogan fires, I was transported back thousands of years. The experience completed my “medicine wheel” training.
• When I finished the Colorado Plateau project I ended up back in Boulder where Jennifer, Matt and I re-united. I only had one clue of what was next. I had promised myself to look up a priest named Father Thomas Keating when I got off the television show. Father Thomas was the leader of a revival of ancient contemplative Christian practice. Something I had known nothing about until it came up in one of the stories we were shooting for Random 1. He was the abbot at a monastery four hours from Boulder.
I was hoping he could help me sort out the mysterious “light” experience I had while meditating during the shooting of Random 1. I knew it had something to do with Christ Consciousness, but that was all.
So I thought I was headed towards Father Keating, but first I attended a media salon in Boulder that was being held at a local gathering place for tech entrepreneurs. I usually hated those things, but I thought I might meet some local media people. I did end up meeting someone, but he was not in media. He was a lawyer who worked for bestselling author, Ken Wilber at the Integral Institute.
In addition to my “spiritual” experience I had while doing Random 1, I also had a burning question at that point about why all the projects I had done in the last five years had only reached an audience who already agreed with us. It felt like I was preaching to the choir. We were not getting to the audiences we needed to convert.
It turned out Ken Wilber was looking for a producer type like me to run his media company. He also had answers to my questions about the different audiences I was wondering about. I thought I would stick around for a few months and learn what he had to offer, but I ended up staying over 10 years. This changed my life again. All that from one chance meeting at a gathering I didn’t want to go to.
So, as I write this I find myself at the edge of the cliff again. The 17 year chapter in Boulder is coming to an end and I feel drawn west to be nearer my siblings and their families. Where this next leap will take me is anyone’s guess.
So it Begins
At the end of 2018 I had made the transition from running Integral Life to going back into independent production. At the point, I had a good idea of what I wanted to do with Story Studio and there seemed to be financial support from those that found it valuable.
I wanted to make a contribution to America strengthening its democracy and I also had a personal web course I wanted to teach called… “Your Secret Stories.” The Secret Stories material had emerged out of narrative analysis work I was involved in doing the democracy project.
I also wanted to continue to chronicle the stories we were telling about the now and future. Hopefully to contribute something to an alternative future narrative that would counter the dystopian one we kept telling in our films, television, games and social media. You know, the one we were living into in this moment… as the red state MAGA movement pushes for a white, Christian Nationalist minority to rule America and the Blue State Democrats attempting to counter this move but not being very good at it.
I felt less than stable in this country that I loved.
Very quickly my view at the end of 2018 about what was ahead changed. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. In 2019 I had two major surgeries and as of August of that year became a cancer survivor. This was totally unexpected. I had just completed my medical tests in 2018 and everything seemed fine. In the follow up to the surgeries it appeared we had gotten all the cancer cells before they spread to other parts of my body. The death of my mother in 2017 and now this challenge brought me right up against… my own death for the first time. Mine seemed like it could come anytime now. Best case was what? Another ten years. That was new.
With all that was happening, the question loomed again… why am I still here? This inquiry was partially as a result of me attempting to come into relationship with my own death. I had always said that IF I was not making a contribution anymore, it would be time to go. I just didn’t see the point of taking up space or as my mother had said… “becoming a burden to others.” I was happy to engage if there was some purpose to it, but if not..???
In ones’ inquiry into death it’s hard not to include the question… “what is spirit up to?” I wanted to understand more about the experiences I was having at this age that seemed to be engaged with something larger than myself. Beyond my material existence. You might ask… why care? I had been through lots of changes in this life, but somewhere up ahead there would be a transition from this life to whatever was next. In that sense, I was curious about my place in that larger context of existence.
In my life to that point I had walked three spiritual paths. Very different from each other, but each making a contribution to what I was discovering now.
I had first found some experience of God in nature. Like my mother, the patterns that “lived” in the natural world of which I was a part were too beautiful and intelligent be happening randomly.
That path for me came to represented by walking the Native American “medicine wheel” below, – the power of Shamanism Animal Totems – and tracker training.
Working with Shamanic Animal Totems...
Number two: In the eighties I learned from a number of different teachers how to engage with the state of emptiness through meditation. This was very different that aligning myself with the forces of nature. In the nineties, I added Taoist microscopic orbit energy work and martial arts codas, air, earth, fire and water to this journey.
Three: In the 2000’s I re-discovered Celtic Christian practice which involved walking the labyrinth – evoking the wisdom way – and engaging with the Enneagram.
For the longest time I thought I had to choose between the three of them. However, when I met Ken Wilber he introduced me to the concept of the “Three Faces of God.”
I, We and It.
I = The individual inner work of Eastern Emptiness Training
We = The relatedness of Celtic Christian Practice
IT- The natural world evoked through Medicine Wheel practice
Each method of engaging with spirit had its own qualities. I began using whatever practice of the three seemed appropriate on any given day.
Beyond the Three Faces of God
In 2020 I began having some new types of spiritual experiences that were different from any of the three I mentioned already. In a sense this new experience felt like a larger field that the three other practices were included in.
What emerged for me was discovering the concept of the evolution of expanding intelligence that was wrapped up in the new quantum field discoveries. The teaching included the thought that intelligence was evolving outward from the original “Big Bang” ignition point into more complex and intelligent forms… not backwards or contracting to some perfect Eden. And I was a part of that expansion.
This evolutionary faith seemed like a much more positive story for me than the traditional one that somehow we had “fallen” from a perfect state into this world in sin. A story that is still very prominent in the tradition religions of the world.
The quantum realm piece of the evolution of intelligence story suggested to me that my life and the Kosmos unfolded in a field of many possibilities, all expanding out, not collapsing to nothing.
Philosopher Peter Sloterdijk described it as a field of “foam” with “bubbles” of possibilities. If you have ever watched a bubble as it moves in a field of foam or is moved by other forces, you know the outcome of its movement is totally unpredictable. What actually happened to me as a single bubble in this larger field was determined by a complex set of factors. My one bubble could combine and re-combine into a staggering number of iterations, each with its own outcome, including disappearing all together.
I read a couple of books that influenced me about this "evolutionary faith."
The main one was…
Evolutionary Faith: Rediscovering God in Our Great Story
by Diarmuid O'Murchu
This view positioned me in this life, as David, one small participant in the dance of expanding intelligence and complexity of 8+ billion humans on this planet. In this view, death is seen as simply a transition to another form of energy, but it also suggested that “my” evolution continued through many lifetimes and alternative realms regardless of how my death in this life took place. That could also include other planets in the Kosmos, not just Earth.
This view also suggested the traditional “churched” Christian notion of being judged for your actions in this lifetime was far too limited a way to think about death or the end of this life. My experience, and many of those I read on the subject, did suggest a kind of “life review” at the end that covered the events of the particular life that was ending, but only as a healing (clearing) process before the soul moved on to other existences. I had experienced a version of this process during my psychological break in the mid-nineties, where I re-visited moments in my life where I had caused others to suffer.
Other writers that influenced me concerning this evolutionary faith were: Thomas McLaine, Barbara Brown Taylor (The Luminous Web), Paul Davies and Ilia Delio. (The Hours of the Universe)
What I seemed to be discovering was this. Some of what happened to me in this life had to do with my choices and some had to do with everyone else’s plus the evolving conditions of natural world around me which had its own trajectory.
Once a choice(s) was made (the sum of mine or someone else’s) my field of possibilities updated based on that choice. Our life is a series of these choices along a time line. We never can know the outcome of the choices we did not make, only those that we engaged with.
In this view, my experience was not because of “random” unrelated events or “chemicals mixing by accident” or “directed by a higher power” but rather something closer to what I had attempted to tap into all my life. A flow of creative energy that ran through me that could manifest in many different ways depending on how it got activated. And the two forces always present in this field of creativity were the destruction of what already existed and the creation of what would take its place.
So, the last mission that was emerging for me was simply to recognize that I contributed something to this expanding of the field on this planet and could also add something novel to the creative force that was pushing everything towards more complexity. I know, so seemingly lofty, but it really felt quite simple as I was now experiencing it.
Folks that engaged with this path also pointed to the possibility of a yet to be discovered law of creative force pushing matter and energy towards greater complexity. This discovery would rival what we thought we knew about the universe because of the second law of thermodynamics. That law stated that all things decompose over time. That all energy and matter decreases in its complexity. The universe was on its way to collapse. The evolutionary faith story suggested the opposite. The new evidence, including the latest quantum research illuminated a universe that was rapidly expanding… out from a single big bang ignition point.
This expansion process did include a destructive force that caused the reduction of some forms of matter and energy, but that lessening was never to nothing. The reduction of that existing form merely cleared the way for the next new form. The violent implosions of whole star systems that we were witnessing through our Hubble and James Webb space telescopes did not result in less star systems, but MORE as the birth of new star systems emerged from the remnants of the old.
When I looked at creation on this Kosmic scale I realized that the odds that life evolved on this planet at all, were almost non-existent. Yet, within that narrow improbable window, something did evolve and we humans represent its latest project, although for how much longer is up to us.
Personal Spiritual Experiences
Since I began this twilight tome, I have mentioned my curiosity at this age is being triggered by personal “spiritual” experiences I am having. There have been three since 2007, each related it seems to one of the three spiritual approaches I was familiar with before I plunged myself into the larger field of quantum evolutionary faith.
Embrace of Unconditional love – Boulder 2009 – I was home from producing the Random 1 show and the LIW documentary and two years into working at Integral Life. Some of my early efforts at IL were staging large spiritual conferences called Integral Spiritual Experiences. These were gatherings of the Integral community facilitated by the many spiritual teachers in diverse traditions that were attracted to Ken Wilber’s work. As a result my morning meditations at that time were mostly in the Eastern emptiness tradition. In the middle of one of these however a bright, warm light suddenly appeared. I felt completely bathed in unconditional love. It was just a moment, but it took my breath away. This feeling resonated for six months.
Field of Christ Consciousness – Woonsocket, Rhode Island 2007 - We were back in Woonsocket, Rhode Island where the Random 1 story all began. We had arranged with our friends at Mobile Loaves and Fishes to deploy one of their food and clothing trucks for the homeless in Woonsocket. Our gift for the towns help.
A big crowd gathered as the truck pulled into the town square. Suddenly, for me it all went into slow motion. I was immersed in the field of love that surrounded this act of kindness. It brought me to tears much to the surprise of those standing around me. I later associated this event as being the energy of Christ Consciousness. It was a big, breath taking field of connectedness.
Kosmic Connection Between Heaven/Earth/Me – 2010 - Wonderland Lake, Boulder Co – I awoke early one morning and had the strongest feeling I needed to move. I dressed and headed out to Wonderland lake. There was a trail on the back side of the lake that led up a steep hill to a noll that overlooked the lake. I was literally floating towards it in whatever energy wave this was. I literally flew up this steep trail that normally took some doing and seated myself at the top of the knoll looking out on the lake. It was like I couldn’t get seated fast enough. I had this initial thought to take off all my clothes, but there were other people around and I thought I might scare them.
As I got seated, a beam of white light came down from the sky into the energy chakra on top of my head. It went through my entire body and then into the ground. It was like heaven to me to earth. I just vibrated in that white light. This continued for some time until the beam faded. I made my way back down the trail to the lake feeling like I was floating off the ground. It was a feeling of pure joy. If something was downloading in that white beam I was unaware of it in that moment, but I was not the same the next day or any day after that. One of those.
One of the things I liked to do as I got older was read the biographies of men and women that had made recognized contributions to the world in which they lived. I also interviewed quite a few world thought leaders that told me their stories of what had mattered to them as their lives unfolded.
I was as curious about their failures as much as their obvious successes. One pattern I noticed was… In spite of all they had accomplished, at the end of their lives, many of them felt irrelevant and that whatever they had contributed really had changed nothing. Some, died early and were spared this final lament, but many lingered on way past them feeling of use to anyone.
As I stated at the beginning of this Twilight chronicle, I was lucky enough to be called to something I loved to do relatively early in my life in the form of my music and storytelling. This work in its many forms gave me one reason to get up in the morning all the years.
I was mostly drawn to the adventure of creating something novel from nothing. Music, inflatables, television series, games, documentary films, transmedia projects etc. all were forms of that body of work. Through them I hoped to make some contribution to the world becoming a better place. Not only from the impact of the stories this work offered the world, but from the process of making the art with some very talented co-conspirators.
So, all good up to this point. The choices that I have made are mine and mine alone, whatever transpires from here. It has definitely seemed like a road less traveled at times, but also wildly expansive other times beyond anything I could have dreamed.
Whatever my choices portend for the future, the real question remains… given all that … why am I still here? To create another project, to be part of a team attempting to create something needed by the world, to explore my own personal development in an effort to become my better angel, to offer something unique to the people I love? What?
All noble pursuits, but IF now I am diminishing in influence, what is the point of me continuing to conjure up these kinds of projects? Was I just supposed to take up space until my body gave out. That was not a course I intended to follow.
This suggested to me that any thought I had about ending my life before my biological clock ran out (like my Mother had) was just that. A transition at that point to the next existence without judgement.
I had often wondered if the Catholic Church’s negative doctrine about “suicide” was just one more method they employed to keep their flock in their control, no matter how much they were suffering. If anyone could leave anytime without judgement, what kind of hold on them could a traditional church have?
What any of this means at this point in time is anyone’s guess, but while I am sorting this out, I thought I would share with you some thoughts that I have come across that might help illuminate your answer to this question of your existence when you get to the age I am now.
A Meaningful Death
My interviews with world thought leaders pointed me towards a strong narrative theme that had to do with having a “meaningful death.” This story tracked across a variety of cultures, east and west and many historical eras. It generally speaks to the desire for an individual’s death to have some meaning to them or to the larger world.
For example, we see this theme in the classic hero’s journey. The crusader sets off to bring something of value back to his/her community. Many times that can mean that the hero sacrifices themselves for others. In that final act, we say that individual’s death meant something.
We also see this narrative in accounts of war, where a solder sacrifices his or her life so that their comrades can live. Jumping on a live grenade or holding off the enemy so that the others can get away are just two examples of this kind of sacrifice that we celebrate.
There was also this. Many indigenous cultures during the tribal era of human development believed that when an individual could no longer contribute to their communities well being, they would chose to wander off and die. The thought associated with this act usually had to do with not consuming resources that others needed who were still making a contribution. This act was seen as a meaningful “sacrifice” so that the community could continue beyond the life of any one individual. There was something that appealed to me about this concept.
There is yet another type of death that many individuals in the world experience every day that we don't talk about much. Dying alone. When I came home to Boulder after Lost in Woonsocket was completed, I met an extraordinary woman artist in Boulder that had created a beautiful shrine in her home where she performed a daily ritual to honor the 150,000 plus individuals that die each day in the world. Her focus was on “remembering” those that died alone as they passed on to whatever was next.
The ritual was one of “deep grief" and celebration of the lives of the nameless individuals that had passed on that day without anyone noticing. The artist herself was suffering from a degenerative disease and it was her last wish, that the shrine and the ritual live on in a public place after her death. I tried with many others to help her to make that happen, but in the end there were no takers. She eventually chose to die with a broken heart.
In spite of her feeling of “failure” her passion and creativity lived on in all of us that had engaged with her. In other words, she made a contribution to me even though she felt she hadn’t. We can never know what impact we have on other people. Often times when someone has said to me that I made some difference in their lives, it came as a total surprise.
Burning the Boats Behind You
Here’s a story that demonstrates a type of leap of faith. When the Europeans were first “discovering” the New World they were faced with a alien landscape which contained few recognizable landmarks. A few of the Spanish conquistadors recognizing their men were hesitant about moving into this new land, burned their ships behind them. Their men had no choice but to push forward.
This story has been a strong orientating narrative for me. Sometimes, it has been easier for me to stay in a life, even though it no longer served me, than launching into something new. Yet, each time I have left a “life chapter” behind, the new circumstances have always turned out to offer something new, novel and interesting. Sometimes it took a while for this to happen, but as I look back on those transitions, it seemed they always led me to the next circumstances I was supposed to engage with.
Such a leap of faith is not without its own kind of pain. At first, it seems the new patterns will never stabilize and I always had to fight the instinct to retreat into old patterns, whether they involved work or relationships. After many of these of transitions however, I now know more about the powerful energies that come up during these leaps and hopefully I manage them better. However, this last chapter that will end with my transition from this life into other realms is a BIG one. The biggest according to those who have studied it, so there is that.
The March of Cultural Evolution
I’ve been talking so far about things that are personal to me, but as I said earlier the culture around us is also evolving. Integral Theory holds that we move forward as a culture through stages of development similar to the way we do as individuals. Ken’s map claims that we have done this 5 five times in the 50,000 years since we became reflective about our circumstances. These stages have names like tribal, traditional empire, modern industrial, information age and digital global network and???
Integral Theory also claims that we are in the middle of another transition as postmodern is failing to meet the challenges of the moment. I am also aware of the increasing speed at which this is happening.
We wandered around in small tribes for around 40,000 years. Just 5 thousand years ago we began to gather in larger agricultural empires, 300 hundred years ago we transitioned to industrial societies, and just 50 years ago we birthed the information age and then recognized we all are connected in a global digital village. If this is right, in my lifetime, I have been part of two such stage emergences, postmodern and this current one. Unprecedented in the history of humans.
Although this concept of stage development can be somewhat simplistic I have found the qualities described for each of these stages in Ken's maps accurate enough to support the concept that the evolution of intelligence is expanding outward into more complex and capable forms. In a sense you can think of this process as ripples on the pond moving away from the initial ignition point in ever expanding circles. Even though we can regress for a time, the course of human development (and the Kosmos) always seems to be expanding out into more complexity. (i.e. gas to particles, particles to atoms, atoms to cells, cells to multi-celled organisms etc.)
Integral Theory also states that when a new stage emerges it “includes” all the positive traits of the prior stages. At the moment there are three stages of development in 2023 America (traditional, modern and postmodern) that are vying for dominance. Hence, the current culture wars.
For any number of reasons, it seems to me that we humans have reached a key milestone in our developmental trajectory. We will either figure out a way to create a more sustainable world for everyone or we will continue to slip into the dystopian stories we tell in our movies, television series, video games and social media. If that continues, ultimately all we have created will collapse.
For the first time in our development, we humans have the choice to come into alignment with the natural systems we depend on or destroy them. If we do the later this does not necessarily mean that life on Earth will not go on. It simply means that we, as one life form, will not continue as we currently are.
Is Something Out There?
In our search for life beyond this planet there is also another question that is asked. It speculates that IF there are millions of planets out there that can sustain life, it stands to reason that intelligent life has evolved in other places besides earth. One response to this query is called the “Fermi Paradox”. One theory of the case it offers for why we have so far not made contact with intelligent life off this planet is that technological civilizations invariably destroy themselves just before or shortly after developing spaceflight technology. The physicist Sebastian Von Hoerner states that the progress of science and technology on Earth are driven by two factors—the struggle for domination and the desire for an easy life.
The former potentially leads to complete destruction, while the latter may lead to biological or mental degeneration. Possible means of our annihilation via major global events, where our new four global interconnectedness actually makes humanity more vulnerable than resilient. This can take many forms, including war, accidental environmental contamination or collapse, the development of biotechnology that spins out of control, resource depletion, climate change, or poorly designed/deployed artificial intelligence. We humans explore this general theme of the apocalypse in both works of fiction and in scientific hypothesizing.
Our science currently warns us that we are approaching a point in our development that is similar in magnitude to when there was a “great” extinction event a hundred and fifty million years ago. That one resulted from violent volcanic eruptions in the Arctic. The gases released in those eruptions traveled the planet during the next 60,000 years and eliminated 90% of the existing species. This “die off” resulted in the beginning of the age of dinosaurs that continued for another 174 million years until a comet fragment impacted the Earth in the Gulf of Mexico, ending the dinosaurs dominance and heralding the age of mammals, including us.
This time around we humans may be the volcanoes. The heat and the toxic gases we are releasing into the atmosphere are causing unprecedented warming that is getting close to creating the conditions of the great die off Earth experienced so many millions of years ago. If it comes, it will come suddenly (in geologic time) and impact the entire planet. If that happens, what will come after us?
Coincidentally, we are developing what we incorrectly refer to as “artificial intelligence.” There is nothing artificial about it. We are inventing it as we have with many new tool sets over the centuries. Some suggest that humans in our current form are now merely a transition species to this next stage of a “blended” humanity with technology.
Theoretically, these machine “intelligences” would not be burdened with all our mad monkey psychosis. If the planet did undergo changes like the last great die off, AI algorithms could potentially predict this event and protect themselves. This could include space stations above the earth or colonies on the moon or Mars or sanctuaries deep underground. Like the small mammals that survived in their subterranean tunnels when the comet ended the dinosaurs, this AI would eventually emerge with the institutional memory of humans and carry on some version of our evolution of expanding intelligence in the Kosmos. It’s just one possibility.
How Change Happens
When you consider that we may be approaching a fail safe point as a species, you can look at the potential timeline of that change and see two different patterns. One is incremental. Change happens slowly over time in small moves. Sometimes this incremental change is hard to pick up as it is happening between the cracks. The classic story that illustrates this incremental pattern is the frog in the pot of water. The water around the frog in the pot is incrementally heated so the frog does not notice the change until it reaches a boiling point and kills the frog.
WE also see periods where change happens very quickly, suddenly, often violently. We call these periods “punctuated equilibrium” where change spikes in intensity and brings forth completely new conditions in a short period of time. The Mayans had a phase for this type of change… “the end of life as we know it.” The more I live into the moment we are in currently, it feels to me that we will need such a spike to really transition to something more generative or die trying.
IF we do experience a sudden change like that, I sense we will not include past stages of human development this time. They will be left behind as new cutting edge proto-human emerges leaving the other stages of our development we have built our current existence on... behind. Perhaps we will become a new creature like Homo Sapiens were to Neanderthals or we will make way for something entirely different, perhaps enlivened by new types of machine intelligence. Either way, "humanity" could be unrecognizable when compared to what we are now, but the original seed of what we were will be in there somewhere.
Speaking of Change
When I have reflected on how change happens, one of the narratives that comes closest to my experience is “co-creation.” This story on the face of it points to our co-creating our existence within a larger field of “spirit.”
Star Wars called it “the force,” others call it the “divine light,” but whatever you call it is not some anthropomorphic vision of God the father or anything that would approximate human form. Its presence in my experience is indescribable in human language. It is more of an experience you have than anything else. Recently, a download from the subtle dream realm added to my experience of something larger than myself. This came to me as I was in the “waking up” zone from deep sleep on 5-29-2022. I have no idea if any of it is true, but it was a very, directed download.
What Made Itself Known
IF there is a Kosmic force that is engaged with the evolution of all things in the universe, then the unique capacity we have as humans to reflect on our existence would allow us to discover (again) that we are part of that larger field along with everything else.
This field is not directing me in a sense we think of an invisible hand, but rather it is simply present, pregnant with possibilities and my engagement with it, increases my own intelligence while bringing forth certain outcomes based on my choices.
You might ask if that is true… why don’t we remember this connectedness after we are born? My current feeble answer would be… Our “whole” presence is divided into two energetic signatures, male and female on entering this realm. We ‘forget” our wholeness as we enter as one or the other.
If my “intelligence” is evolving, then being part of this experiment in forgetting and then re-remembering could be part of my journey of “growing up” as a separate being. As this teaching goes…there are advantages to having this experience of separateness that you simply cannot have in your whole state. One of these is “conflict” between two opposing energies that causes us to grow up.
What this means to me now at age 75 is that it is up to me how much I want to continue exploring this material world as a separate being. IF I choose to embrace this “mission,” I can add my experience to the Kosmic archive/record that continues to expand. That could be “a” point of me still being here.
IF I do what my mother did when she ended her life “earlier” than her body clocks expiration date, this may mean I miss some opportunities. We can have no idea what would have happened if we had made different choices. You can only experience the result of the choices you make. And in this Kosmic frame, that could mean that my individual “soul” after this incarnation will pick up where it left off IF I am born into another life time. No harm no foul.
All that being said, this all may just be another one of my stories. As we keep saying, we will all find out one day as we pass from the life we inhabit here into what is next. I wrote this down for myself as much as anyone else, so when this next transition gets challenging, I am reminded of what might be so. No harm in that I suspect.
Thoughts on the Future - More on the Role of AI Development
When we consider the two biggest changes that are currently underway on this planet they are…
The development of artificial intelligence in all its forms and..
Humans developing the capacity for living off planet.
There is a third factor IF it happens. Disclosure that we humans are not alone in the Kosmos. Our current hyperbole about UFO’s and secret alien programs the "government" is running are some the ways we sort this possibility out at the moment. But if “contact” did take place it would change everything about what it means to be a human on Earth.
As I have said elsewhere in this Evolution of Expanding Intelligence tome, artificial intelligence is a game charger for humans on the level of the discovery of fire, the printed word and the establishment of global communication systems.
AI at its very least, can simulate possible scenarios much faster we can. It fails much faster than we do, which can lead it to a solution in a shorter period of time that did not seem apparent to us. Think about this. What if we gave our AI applications the benefits of our latest wisdom, but not our evolutionary mad monkey baggage. Let them carry on our experience and what we have learned without burdening them with our 50,000 years of DNA distortions. Give them the challenges we could not solve and let them have at it. Would that really be all that bad? Perhaps that is how the experience of us as homo sapiens will successfully “migrate” off this planet. As part of a new breed of proto-human memory bank blended with machine learning that does not have our destructive tendencies.
It can be said that the world we humans inhabit and create is a chaotic, violent mess. It just seems we can’t leave our primeval selves behind. Just the amount of money and energy we continue to spend on creating new ways to kill each other is staggering.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t many other things to enjoy about this life. There are. The one constant I have found through all the ups and downs is the beauty of nature. I have been lucky enough all my life to live in beautiful places.
I learned that the beauty of the natural world was always there whether I was happy or sad, rich or broke, depressed or elated. All I had to do was walk out into it and take in all that was constantly unfolding. It was always a welcome relief that brought pleasure to the day and night.
Here are some of my greatest hits of beautiful places I have lived or journeyed into...
San Francisco/Bay Area, Troop 4 Camp at Spicer’s reservoir, California camp grounds, Lake Tahoe, Avila Beach, The Big Sur coast, and the Anza-Borrego Desert. Marin County/Mount Tamalpais, The Marin Headlands, Maui, Greek Islands, Egyptian Deserts, Glastonbury, Stonehenge, the Black Hills, the beaches at Del Mar, the Canadian Rockies, the Eastern Sierras, Laguna Beach, Yosemite High Country, the Southwest, San Luis Valley, Santa Fe, Whidbey Island, Boulder - The Rocky Mountains – Gold Lake – Caribou Wilderness... just to name a few...