May 7, 2021 • 17M
Beyond the Wilderness of Noise
A Creative Magazine on Awe Mystery Meaning and Spirit
Welcome back to This Present Moment. It's been wonderful connecting with many of you through the first issue—and as always, feel free to shoot me any thoughts.
Now, today's piece rhymes. And it's about a time When Beyoncé's world and mine became oddly intertwined. And I became confined to the clamors of my mind. And now that you're primed ...
I. There lies a Wilderness of Noise, overgrown and tangled. The daily din of cracks and drones which interweave and mangle. It hollers from our TV sets and grips us from the Web. It rips from us our silence, and rings out through our heads. It's the blare of The Biggest Story! from the glare of The Newest Screen. This racket deafens us to Wisdom and stirs us from our Dreams. The Noise, you see, it seizes us. We're cast under its spell, Luring us against our will into the woods in which it dwells, Eventually we call it Home—the Noise becomes the norm. Around then the thunder starts. We're battered by this Storm! This Noise scrambles our compass, and we lose all direction, Rambling evermore into this dense dimension. Bewitched by our desires and how we must be seen— More money! More Things! More Likes! More Me!—We reach for some prestige! Our Thoughts battle our Hearts, and we're stuck in between. This Wilderness turns dizzying, the Noise twists into screams. Don't! Don't! Don't! the culture wars. Do that and you'll sink! Don't! Don't! Don't! your ego scorns. What will they all think?! The babbling of our brains, here, protests every whim, As a mad world howls at us—from outside our minds and in. Crippled by this mania, we wrestle every choice. Which way now? we ask confused, searching for that Voice. Muted under all this Noise, we feel its gentle cry, The "quiet desperation" as life is slipping by. I've lived inside this Wilderness. Perhaps you may have been? Reality there's a prickly place. The game is, above all: Win! You choose a role, and learn it well, and then you run a race. A Contest for Status, or Who Has The Prettiest Face, Or Attention, or Wealth, or Wit. Just focus on your chase! Keep sprinting towards the future. When you get there you'll be safe. Now this is all just nonsense. You know that's not the plot. Your story is much more than this, you feel that in your gut. That just beyond this Wilderness—There are Open Seas. Of Clarity. Of Mystery. Of Possibilities. At times we may dispel that hex, and clear the noxious Noise, To surf those effervescent waves some call our "inner-voice." I'll tell you how I've been helped in finding Open Sea, In navigating through the Noise and learning to be free. But I am just one Average Joe. "Learning" here is key. I'm purely aiming to explore and see where that takes me. And, yes, that Land does jerk me back, too often and too fast. The Noise is always ticking, ticking, ticking from my past. But in This Present Moment, I write you earnestly From a space of openness—that space we truly meet. My stories are a-plenty and we haven't time to share All the minute little tales that bring this Truth to bear. So one short bit will have to do, and I hope that it shines through That if we Listen to our Truth, our world is made anew.
II. Years ago, as a scrappy kid, I somehow landed in this gig Working for Beyoncé. I was pretty unqualified, But I was bright and down to grind. So I got to stay with Beyoncé. My life got turnt before my eyes, And a slick, new phrase came to reprise: "I work for Beyoncé." Around the world I went and back, As this vogue lifestyle came to pass. My identity became "Beyoncé." Artists were all around within her vast Creative Team— An ecosystem of geniuses driven just like she. It was tirelessly demanding, but the work was so unique. Its reach was outstanding, and it honed my technique. I got to watch her Manifest, saw her flesh out instinct. And saw the stunning power that forges her mystique. Plus, girls thought it was dope that I was with Bey. And that badge means you're cool in NYC. And I thought it was dope that I knew Jay-Z. That shit means I'm cool to me! It was an era which emerged so unexpectedly, Into this fertile stretch of dazzling opportunity.
I can't complain, I know. But in time something shifted. And I became unsettled by this job I had been gifted. Maybe it was the endless hours, staring at screens for days? Maybe the Actor In Me sought a different kind of stage? I just don't think I cared enough to sacrifice my Being— Even for a visionary, even for the Queen. So the thrill began to fray. I gotta get out. Beneath my breath this mantra played: I gotta get out. It looped throughout my every day. I gotta get out. And loomed behind the digital haze. I gotta get out. But I got paid. And so I stayed. I stayed for the cool stuff I made. Such as, I worked on Lemonade. I stayed for all the accolades. I stayed because who wouldn't stay? But really I stayed because I was afraid. You see, giving up salary at the "coolest job around," To almost everyone looked insurmountably unsound. By any normal standard, I was winning at the game. I'd always wanted stardom, and now I was six feet from fame. More Money! More Likes! More Me! There was no bigger place to be Than in Beyoncé's crew at the age of 23. It was an addiction, impossible to drop. The Noise roared Beyoncé—and I couldn't get it to stop. Sucked into a vortex of my own desires, The Ego was loving it, but I felt like a liar. Drawn into that Wilderness, cast under its spell, Nothing mattered anymore. And that seemed just as well. The weeks became mechanical, and nothing felt real. Years were sliding by, as I ignored my Heart's appeals. I knew it in my gut: I gotta get out. But that there threatened The Ego, so he muzzled all those doubts. And as is wont to happen when we muffle our Flow, The pilot light began to dim and living lost its glow. A friend back then said "I'm so happy." In some misplaced zeal I retorted: "I don't think that happiness is real." I recall another talk with my Mom and Dad: "I feel dead inside," I vented. Why was I so mad? Of course this wretchedness went deeper than a job. I had nothing under me. No meaning, no god. Dust to dust, and nothing more. Just running that race. It drained me of my courage to take a leap of faith. That mortality within us fears all Unknowns. Yet that's the only place where we genuinely grow. So I could not move forward, because I became weak. As I was now a prisoner of my own ennui. Now, I get this was no Tragedy! It's not like someone died. I wasn't under some duress, or working in the mines! (Charge me with my "Privilege!"—and that may well be true. I'm grateful for what I was offered. That I assure you.) But sometimes suffering slithers from behind; It slinks in quietly and hides within the grind. At some point it bites everyone. No matter who or why. Pain can not be measured, though it seems we try. It's reduced into metrics, and split down party lines. I have it worse than you! squawks our tribal whines. We weaponize our agony and obscure our Design: Love is to Realize we're all One Big Mind.
III. We were doing a show in Vegas, and I was burnt out to the max. It was 18 hour days for months, and I was desperate to relax. I lurched to my hotel room, and got pinged to come back to work. It was midnight. On a Friday. And I legitimately went berserk. Fuck this shit. I'm so tired. Fuck it all to Hell. I looked at myself in the mirror and erupted with this yell: A PRIMAL SCREAM OF ANGER FROM THAT WILDERNESS. A VOLCANIC CRY OF DANGER FROM DEEP IN THAT ABYSS, WHERE SOULS HAVE LOST THEIR NATURE AND ARE BURNING TO A CRISP. And in the mirror—in crimson face—I think I saw a stranger. This rupture snaked around my mind and left it with a hiss ... The fever of this breakdown kept me in a shiver. When I got back to New York, I walked to the East River. The moon refracted off the waves in that sparkling way Where every burst of glitter is some secret kept at bay. I was not a man of Spirit then. An atheist, in fact. But that night I asked for a Sign, and I made a pact: "I'll change my life. I will. But I just feel so trapped. I'm in this hard reality and don't know my way back. The Self Who Stands Above Me knows this is not my Path But Little Me can't take the Risk. I need more faith to Act. I don't know what's Beyond me, but it seems I have to Ask: Send a Sign that says: "Go forth. This fear shall pass." "Ask and it shall be given. Seek and ye shall find." The next morning I awoke to a text cosmically timed: "Hey Joe! It's John" (A college friend.) "You just popped to mind. I work for Bravo! now doing video and design. We've got months of overflowing work: Do you have any time?" Whoa! An open door ... I asked and here's the sign ... Bravo, indeed! I thought. A wondrous magic trick! Well, now I had no choice. I had to act on it. I stayed in that vibration and rode it to the office. Holding that conviction, I gathered up my bosses. "Thank you for it all," I said. "And sorry I've been grumpy. I think I need to leave. I don't like who I'm becoming." And that was that. So simple. It felt like almost nothing. It almost turned this melodrama into something funny! I headed home at rush hour, and I just started running Through packed Manhattan sidewalks. My Spirit was buzzing. I must have seemed a lunatic, weaving through the passersby. It was that unbridled vigor of finally feeling Alive. For 30 blocks I ran. I'd rarely felt so free. I had escaped my Wilderness and was setting out to Sea. I know this seems theatrical. I was just quitting a job. But looking back on it, this is what it wrought. I played victim to my limiting beliefs That I was powerless against the plague of my own grief. And in that extra push from past The Great Divide I began to Realize the universe is on our side.
IV. Life unfolded afterwards in many glimmering ways. Reality rewards us after diving into change. Curveballs, decisions, and hard times never cease. But there are these messages that shepherd us to peace. They're whispering beneath the Noise, guiding our way out: That electric spark of joy or a knowing sense of doubt. In the years to come, I've Listened for these signs. Sometimes it's just a dash of bliss which teases more to find. Or perhaps it's stranger, like a call perfectly timed. The webwork of reality seems weirdly intertwined ... Call them odd coincidences or call them divine, There are White Rabbits everywhere, even in this rhyme. Maybe that's the real game: We simply have to Listen. Easier said than done, I know—sensing intuition. In hindsight, though, we tend to say "I sensed something was off." So it follows that right now it's possible—somewhere—we're lost ... Perhaps we're always being Signaled to that Open Sea. But we can't hear beneath that Noise that's hexed us devilishly. We get trapped in Wilderness—that scraping in our head, Those painful thoughts that we avoid, that sprout up into dread. And the world becomes that prickly place where everything is sharp, Shrieking in anxiety and splitting us apart. And the things that scare us most are what we most lack. For as Jung said: "Where your fear is—there's your task." Our Task is never easy. But we each have the choice To Listen—beyond the Wilderness of Noise— To that song that plays outside of time and space. A melody that carries us beyond this mortal chase. It sings through the Universe in quiet chimes of grace. That mysterious compass that we may as well call Faith. The feeling that Something knows who you're supposed to be. Even before you know it. Before even you can see. That Voice that tracks ahead of us, singing "Wake Up! We are free." It surfs the open waters laughing playfully. Life glistens when you listen—so tune yourself to thee, Which know which way the wind blows and directs you out to Sea.
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