Saturday, April 29, 2017

Winds of Change


So it has been almost 10 years since I first started writing here as WitchDoctorJoe, and almost five years since I archived the blog and walked away. It is interesting to look back and realize how different I am although I am still the same person; and how much my life has changed, yet stayed very much the same. Like taking a trip back to an old house or apartment that you used to live in years ago; familiar yet, strangely distorted by time.
So, here am I am, writing a new article for this old blog, from a new computer, on a new desk, in a different room of the same house. My kids are still my kids, but they’re not children anymore. They’re all growing up and going to college and I am already feeling the feelings of the emptying nest. My kids entering college as I have just finished. Since I have been gone I have completed my Bachelor of Science in Psychology and my Master of Arts in Counseling.
I am still very happily married to a spicy hot woman, but she’s not the same either. We have both continued to evolve, change and grow; and we have managed to grow together, rather than grow apart. But change is never easy, as the saying goes: “if you want to change you must be willing to be uncomfortable.” And along those same lines, undesired change is equally uncomfortable, arguably more so.
My personal spiritual practices are generally centered around the operative application of speculative tools for the purpose of my own edification. And that’s how this new chapter began, with the application of a tool. The tool represents a lesson, illustrates a piece of knowledge and contains a wisdom which can only be obtained through the experience of use. It’s an experiential process.
That process caused me to step back and look at my life at the time. To question everything I was doing, and explore my personal motivation for doing it. It was then that I realized that there was an extraordinary amount of things in my life I was doing for other people, for no other reason than my own false perception of obligation.  I realized that I was pouring a significant amount of my resources into doing things for other people. Resources like my time, my money, my energy when I was present, and my thoughts when I was absent. For people who were not family, were not really friends, and really shared no kinship with other than a shallow superficial relationship largely based on me doing something for them. This perception was verified when all these people wandered off after I stopped doing things for them.
Years later the phrase "False Kinship" would cause the hair on my body to raise from the skin. But that's a topic for a future post.
I realized that my resources are precious and that I was not placing the appropriate value on them, and therefore, neither was anyone else. Nor was I being prudent in choosing those with whom I shared my resources, most of all, my precious and limited time on this earth.  I realized that although my motivations where very altruistic, they were too altruistic. Foolishly so. 
I realized that while I spent money out of my own pocket to pay for gas to drive for miles to spend my days in a prison with complete strangers - my kids were growing up, building rockets and preparing for launch – and that was a mistake I would regret if I continued to make it.
So I stopped. I retired, “effective immediately,” from prison ministry and never regretted it. I loved the work I was doing, and I miss it, but I like missing it. A few weeks later I shut down Mill Creek Seminary; a brick and mortar 501c3 where I taught 13 month courses in my religious tradition and hosted open community rituals and provided pastoral care to my community for over eight years, all self-funded.
When you see the ball rolling towards the street, it’s not terribly difficult to project its trajectory, and in kind, it was only a matter of time before I closed my home as a Coven-stead and cocooned myself a closed circle of family; took a 2nd and 3rd job, and an onslaught of college courses geared at improving my station, for myself and those I have a responsibility to provide for.
And that’s when things really got interesting..

Monday, March 6, 2017

Predestination

I had a lot of time to think as I drove to the hospital in Chico and back yesterday. Most of my days begin at 4 a.m., making breakfast for a client, packing his lunch and taking him to work. After that I usually Goruck three or four miles, hit the gym and make it back to the Nichterhof by 6:30.

But yesterday after dropping off my passenger I filled up the tank with gas and hit the highway. I like to drive with the radio off when I’m alone. I’ve found that there is a profound difference between Occupied and Unoccupied Awareness, and driving occupies my conscious awareness but not my cognitive thoughts. And, that difference, the space between them, is my sweet spot which I call the "cradle of intuition.”
Time plays an interesting role in our consciousness. Anticipation and anxiety are merely ghosts of the future, while gratitude and regret are born from the past. During the drive up state, I felt my emotions reach forward into the future, and then claw deeply at the past as I drove home.
Sitting in the Neuro-Trauma Intensive Care Unit and staring at the tangled life supporting tubes and wires, I realized that it is mostly pain that keeps my occupied awareness locked into the present moment more than anything else.
That’s why pain is such a great motivator. It commands our attention.
One day back in 2014, while driving down the highway with the radio off, I had a glimpse of the future; and it wasn’t a pleasant vision, but a painful one. That pain motivated me to make several changes which were necessary to steer the timeline towards a more desirable chronological destination.
Those changes began with my retiring from active Pagan Prison Chaplaincy, then closing Mill Creek Church, then the Seminary, eventually the Coven, and finally withdrawing from the Pagan community almost entirely.
I am still amazed at how difficult it was to change these things. I honestly had no Idea how deeply ingrained into my life, and into my identity they had become. So much so that I went through a moderate identity crisis. As a result, I don’t consider myself “Wiccan” anymore, and have not for some time now; which is an interesting subject that deserves its own post, but we'll get to that later.
It has been five years since I have written anything here. So much has happened, so much has changed, yet so much has remained the same. Like sliding back into bed with an old lover; I am writing from a new computer, on a new desk, in a different room, of the same old house. I still work the same job, but now I own the business. My wife and I are celebrating the twelfth year of our Happily Ever After, and the sex keeps getting better. Our kids are still our kids, but they’re not children, they’re legally adults now; helping out with the family business while they’re all primarily occupied with college (parenting win). And speaking of college, I'm shopping for a nice fancy frame for my new Master’s Degree.
But all those things faded away as I stood beside the bed in the Neuro-Trauma ICU, my eyes poured over his broken body. Riddled with scars and covered in tattoos.

Just like me.

But not like mine.

We are a so very much the same, yet we went in very different directions. We both went to prison many times, but for very different reasons. I was almost him, but I chose not to be.
In 1992, I had a glimpse of the future, and I didn’t like what I saw, so I altered that timeline and became who I have become. Many of us have tried to get him to alter his timeline for many years, and this last Thursday, he finally did, but we’re not happy with his choice of predestination.
He painfully reminds us how intricately our timelines are interwoven; that although we may be years and miles apart from one another, we are still tethered, and that through our actions we still tug at each other.
I have altered my timeline and I have arrived at my desired Predestination. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you, but it was necessary for a greater good.
In kind, I am willing to be inconvenienced by any positive changes you want to make to your timeline.

The question is... are you?