Brooding things upon us, Weights as heavy as the headsman's hands. Brutish and forceful blows befalling, As freedoms become the sentencing. In solace we find only insanity, Inciting fury as bellows upon a fire. Shall whom may we call upon to lure us, And be enticed as from the wicked.
If it is a wound That which brings me down, Let it cut me to my knees, Laying bare my bones of contempt. Let it be wide and gaping, Allowing those who delight In seeing my blood spilled, Their thirst to be quenched.
May the wound be deep And allow my blood to spew. Pouring forth from live and coursing veins, To drench those who cry for my end.
These very veins, Through which life surged so brilliant, Crimson as the liquid there within, May they now pulse silent As my breath stills.
Let the blow which takes me down Be harsh and be it swift. And if it is so I shall receive it, As if slain by a warrior Who was well versed in death.
But let it be known For if it is he, the coward Who slays me, He who tears me down Without looking into my eyes.
Let it be known He is fearful And not worthy To spill my blood Upon our ground.
But do not fret, And know I will not worry. For there is not a grave Which is too shallow, Nor a pit too deep, To contain my life within.
You may burn me or bury me, Or ditch my body into the sea. If you are the true coward, I will see you on the other side With a caldron for your bones.
Those on which we climb, gouge, and claw, shattered and scared from sieges of trust, who still seek us out, unbent by attempts of displacement. Fear torn from their eyes. Pain so deep it screams without sound.
Eventual conversations speak truths seeking reality. Once accepted, the pain vanishes, Replaced with thoughtful forgiveness. Thankfulness inexpressible with words, conveyed through tears of joy. Relief resulting from a state of being.
Movie dreams of Kings and Queens, legends, stories, and myths. The peacock strut, gasoline and coconuts, as long haired hookers on motorbikes whiz by. ’Throwing Bones’ and ‘Delicious Dimples’, It all depends on how you view it. Whether you are a Humane Being, or just being human, It takes a certain Kind Human to exist. One needs to be missed before they are missing, while the sharks are being fed with the carcasses of sheep.
Some people write to tell a story, while for some the purpose is to dispel a myth. Perhaps for most it is for reasons of posterity, passing knowledge to future generations while organizing their thoughts, questions, and intuitions into a better understanding. No matter the reason for which it begins, the end result is to communicate how our interactions amongst people effects the connectivity throughout communities.
There are topics we choose to acknowledge and those we discard. Particular subjects give us pause for being taboo due to our lack of understanding and respect. In order to gain understanding of something we must first acknowledge it, then speak of it to allow us the process to cope and come to terms with that which seems so finite.
Death seems to me that which frightens most.
The funny thing about death is you can’t live without it. It is everywhere. It surrounds us. You can face it or fear it, love it or hate it. You can try to run from it, chase it, or even allow it to chase you, but you can never hide from it. Eventually it seeks us out like an old friend pining for reunion, beckoning everyone and everything of this Earth with no exceptions. Neither morbid nor morose, if you were born, you will die. This one simple fact has captured our fascinations and spurred numerous theologies which attempt to rationalize, explain, and ultimately come to terms with it. Some are trained to live in fear of it, born trying to stave off eternity while grappling for a formula of longevity. But, there are others who learn to greet that old friend as someone they have known and recognized since childbirth, with gratitude and respect.
Human mortality rates stay relatively consistent throughout the ages, but there may be times we might feel more riddled with the presence of death within our personal circles than at others. As time continues its fervent progression and we step deeper into new calendar years, we can choose to leave it behind and not dwell on only the passing, but of the knowing. We might not shed its grief entirely, but we go on living.
I am death, and I've come for you. I shall not wait, though you beckon my mercy. Being life’s final prophecy, I am never full.
Fear me not, if you have given your all. Into your final slumber, the time has come for you to fade. Find solace in this your waning moon.
Weep for you they should not, For you shed not a tear, As the pleasure of your flesh, Finds you no longer here.
Do not cry for us, or morn our loss, While we lay him to rest, In a sea they call The Andaman. Although now we may suffer, If not forever, but for a great long while.
Until we are privileged to meet again, What can bare us not to pass? From out of this misery we shall grow, And make our peace forgiving.
If from ashes all need rise, Then why are you not smiling? So too we shall, as friend or foe, Find death amongst the living.
-- Do not go heartless to your grave As once upon our times will come, We shall all be paid the visit The importance lost not on one.
Sometimes there may be violence, Shattering our morbid peace, Do not dread the day, or forsake the journey, As we are all equal in the final count.
Fair a life we all must find, Before being cast amongst the waves, For those who never learn to live, It is for them we all should weep.
Do not bid me a fond farewell, Nor engrave a tomb, lay flowers in wreaths. In neither dirge, eulogy, or requiem Lay me down to that restful sleep, The peaceful slumber of the years.
If you are an overly sensitive, self-entitled individual, who suffers a meltdown when things don't go your way, I suggest you forego reading this article unless your therapist is on emergency standby.
I’m a product of suburban Americana, which at no time found me on the streets suffering for survival. Loving parents and supportive siblings raised me in the comfort of a good home, fed me nourishing home-cooked meals, and provided for my health, education, and overall well-being. Thanks to ‘Mother and Father Inc.’ I always had more than I needed.
Most importantly, my parents instilled the notion to work for what I wanted. They taught me to always try my best, and to keep pushing forward when my best wasn't good enough; never give up until I am satisfied with the results. Now, there seems a pattern of socially accepted mediocrity in the hope of sparing young children the emotional unease of failure.
The relatively new concept of young children involved in competition all being declared winners, regardless of the outcome, sparing anyone the unpleasantness of being labelled a ‘loser’ is ridiculous. Just because you failed to win doesn’t mean you are a failure. To me it teaches children they don't have to try too hard, because they will always succeed. It should come to no surprise when little Johnny needs a therapist by the time he gets to high school when he doesn't make ‘the team’…because he’s not good enough…because he has never been pushed to excel. Perhaps a better message would be, “Although you failed, it’s important you gave it your best, and you can be successful if you persevere." Offering a child the necessary lessons needed to develop the confidence and abilities to improve is a better option than simply ignoring life's difficult trials on the pretext of avoiding hurt feelings.
Some will argue the myriad acts of global violence are proof we need a bit of ‘softening’ to reduce conflict and intentional malice, providing a safer environment in which to live. Perhaps, but interspecies competition is a force of nature, and nature is neither kind, fair, or non-violent. Life’s brutality demands we are vigilant, and we cannot allow arrogance to elevate our species above other animals within our kingdom. If we are to overcome adversity and ensure the collective success of our species, we must teach our children mental toughness with acuity acquired through education and experience. Humanity reveals threats to our physical survival with menacing individuals who prey on the weak, sick, and the disadvantaged through acts of cruelty and brute force. In association with children, many wrongly describe these tormentors as ‘bullies’, but the distinction between the childish, verbal taunts of a bully, and the flagrant acts of a criminal must remain clear; We must stop calling true acts of violence bullying!
The role of a bully is to taunt, mock, and ridicule; a longtime accepted right of passage for generations of children hoping to provoke feelings of hurt. These relatively harmless acts are meant to toughen our skins, giving us the ability to recognize outside minor threats before they become serious confrontations. With stock retaliations, we managed to navigate our way through the school house gauntlet, and emerged a little tougher as a result. Have our skins become so thin we can now barely withstand harsh words against us, or is the level of violence so great it has lessened our willingness to accept ridicule?
We have witnessed bullying amongst our youth escalate from verbal harassment to physical violence, with guns and knives replacing sticks and stones. A learned behavior, bullying manifests itself in individuals lacking proper education, respect, empathy, and consequence, with most continuing this behavior long after their days of schooling. Therefore, we must demand equal resolve to recognize and defeat those threats, passively or not. Attempts of resolution through blames of cowardice or pity are futile, and fail to recognize legitimate violence. If children are better educated from an earlier age, perhaps both ‘sides’ of society would benefit and both suffer less. We cannot eliminate conflict entirely, but preparedness lies at the heart of resolution, and recognition of a divide is one key to understanding the complexities of social interaction.
Modern technology has given us the convenience of instantaneously shared information alongside numerable means of entertainment and stimulation. The vast array of computer devices and virtual social networks diminish levels of active human discourse and tolerance. A growing reliance on electronics for constant connectivity is debilitating to both children and adults, decreasing development of the proper mannerisms needed for a social environment containing actual human beings. Parents, ever reliant on electronic devices for convenience, and a bit of peace and quiet, decrease their chances to educate an independent thinker who can raise themselves above the level of being a pack animal. Massively integrated social technologies require long periods of time before any negative consequences can be thoughtfully eliminated, but it should be obvious, artificial reality is only meant as a temporary distraction and must never replace the experience of satisfaction gained through accomplishments in the tangible world.
With certainty I can say everyone wishes to provide their children with the best possible education and support to become adults with the needed skills for independence, but In our attempts to create a more accepting environment, are we allowing society to dictate parental control in the hopes of better raising our children? Has the collective whole become so overbearing we prevent each successive generation from experiencing the true realities of natural selection, thus propagating the weaknesses we are trying to overcome?
Never having children of my own, I admit I lack complete understanding of the efforts involved in child rearing. However, it does not discredit my attempts to understand nor mean the complexities elude me. I agree it’s nice to coddle the ones we love, and lavish them with the fruits of our labors, but we must not forget the priority of preparing our offspring for survival, durability, and success.
There is nothing quiet about nature and there is seldom silence in the struggle for life. Though we may find moments of tranquility and calm when we dislodge ourselves from modern disturbances and human interference, the silence of serenity is broken by the brutal finality of the end.
These words are not meant to be morbid or morose, as mother nature and father time do not discriminate when choosing. They are used as a reminder to find encouragement and take advantage of the time we have at present.
Every story has multiple points of view, and each point of view carries a different story to tell. On a day I am reminded of our mortality, this is how I choose to tell mine:
'Paradigm' The individual stages of our lives are governed by critical emotions dominating our viewpoint and growth. As bewilderment transcends understanding, we phase out of one complexity to be blinded by the next. Our education of the surrounding world in which we operate revolves on never ending waves of lows and highs.
Birth splashes us upon the dirt as dribbling infants with an emptiness of mind we continuously seek but never seem able to regain. With wide-eyed wonderment filling our days, we are easily astonished as we clod and prod to understand the tactile world just in reach of our minute grasp.
Clawing through adolescence, hope is our testament to living. We hope for understanding, we hope for acceptance, we hope for desire, and we hope for escape. We hope to begin our life recognized as developed individuals forging our paths beyond known borders.
As young adults, life is fervently pushed under the pragmatic bus of life only to be run over by a caravan of responsibilities. Duties and expectations amassed upon the shoulders of newly exposed individuals lacking conceptualization and the fundamental skills so utterly needed in the looming world. There is but one choice, determination or fear. You must choose now. Quit or proceed. Step forward or step aside please. You have to keep on trucking or it will leave you by the wayside ragged and soiled.
Poof! In a flash it’s gone and middle age is looking you smack in the face of regret. Could-of, should-of, would-of rolls off the wagging tongues of the defeated as the eternal epithet of a life half gone. Regret leaves no room for happiness to dwell as it crowds the lodgings of our minds, filling crevices previously known only to its contents under pressure. With no room left for elbows, it nudges us out of our present existence in hopes of reliving a past setting faster than a winters sun.
Perseverance, and bit of help from Mr. Dumb Luck, finds ourselves stumbling upon the proverbial age of wisdom; golden years to shine down upon us with rays of enlightenment and reflection. Truth is, reality shortens our insightful reigns as sages atop mountains of genealogy as the tolls of age begin sapping our minds of the vital information we have fought so hard to gather. As our fall from grace strips us of our dignity and independence, we must come to terms with a life soon to pass. As we search eternity with a yearning for the meanings of existence, we exit as blissfully unaware as the day we began. These are the voyages of a starship called America in the valley of the gun.
I have always been amazed at the extraordinary amount of people who are perpetually in the habit of minimizing their daily food budget in order to afford non-essential items such as the latest model smart phone, fashion accessory, automobile, or other, material accessory. What has driven people to the point where appearing to be healthy and happy is an acceptable replacement for actually being healthy and happy? How did it come to be that fresh produce purchased at a local market can cost more than two semi-meat patties, topped with ‘secret’ sauce, shreds of lettuce, some kind of melty ‘cheese food’ with onions and pickles on a bun, all engineered to the point to never mold, rot, or decompose? There are those who like to point fingers and blame a capitalistic society based on consumerism blah, blah, blah. Yes, we can agree the continuous marketing and advertisement schemes allowed me to recall a catchy tune promoting fast food hamburger sales some 40 odd years after its inception, but you must ask yourself, what demand are they filling? Businesses don't just appear out of nowhere, thrive, and become international brands on a whim. They are simply supplying a demand of the people. You asked for it, you got it! (name that brand) Convenience; Thats what people want, so thats what people get. As time has passed, more and more people don’t want, or cant be bothered, with preparing a meal for themselves or for their family. How insane is that? One of the most important aspects of remaining alive, eating, and people look for the easiest and fastest option available! Correct me if I'm wrong, but after oxygen I believe the first three needs for human survival are water, food, and shelter. FOOD is number two people! Sounds to me that would make it fairly important and deserving close attention to quantity and quality!
Good, clean, healthy, non-processed food is not difficult to make, but it does take some of your time. If you are not willing to dedicate a small amount of your time to eating well and good health, what worth does the remainder of your life have? Quality food does not excluded or prohibit based on economic status. It is available to all who are willing to dedicate the time to source proper ingredients and prepare them. (Yes, I used the word dedicate twice in this paragraph because that is what it takes)
Some people say because I cook for a living that makes it easier for me to acquire higher quality products at a more reasonable price. Ok, fair enough, I do have access to prime ingredients from all over the world at wholesale prices, but the last time I checked there are a fair number of ‘box’ stores selling in bulk offering wholesale prices to the average consumer. When not working, I also scour the local markets for what is available and fresh.
Case in point: Recently a friend and I purchased three beautifully fresh Tasmanian salmon which were on special. Sharing the costs and the labor of butchering, we ended up with more than 40 portions of super fresh, wild caught salmon for less than $3.00 U.S. a portion! At the same time we also made three dozen fresh flatbreads, fresh hummus, baba ghanoush, and tzatziki, all in about 4 hours! We have been eating like kings for two weeks.
Now I ask you, do you think it was worth the time?
I recently had the good fortune to meet up with an old friend during one of his many transient visits to Samui en route to the nearby island of Phangan. As former band mates, partners in crime, and all round trouble-making-good-bros, we met for some drinks to see what hell two aging misfits could raise. It was quickly evident this was not one of his multi-annual detoxifying sabbaticals he uses to escape the environmental rigors of living in a metropolis struggling to cope with their economic revolution and the consequential industrial boom. No, this was a time for revelry and a time to act out our wanna-be rock-star-chef-writer aspirations. But wait, this dude is a rock star! When you talk about someone dedicating themselves to his craft, art, being, or whatever, this guy is it! Yes, this dude has talent, but he puts in the work required to hone it, continuously, and as a result he can play the guitar like a motherfucker ringing more bells than a Chuck Berry Christmas choir! It’s what he believes in. It’s his faith, his religion, his testament to being alive and walking this earth, and without it he would soon wither and fade. So off we went, full speed down the familiar road of toxicity! First, he made it a point to congratulate me on the recent publishing of my book and to say he and many of our friends were proud of me for seeing the project through completion. Damn! Thats cool I thought! Immediately he then razzed me a bit about being a ‘blogger’ but that he was into it and advised me to incorporate a bit of my book into the blog to help promote it. Fair enough.
It’s a reminder that friends can push us in the right direction when we need help and when we’ve gone astray of our originally intended path. Friends can encourage us when we are full of self-doubt and self-destruction, and friends bring us back to reality when we allow our ego to get the better of ourselves. True friends find inspiration through your desires and accomplishments without jealously or hate. True friends help coax out your true aspirations.
My point is this; Each one of us is living the life set out before us, and whether you believe in fate, faith, or hope, good fortune, good luck or bad luck, hard work, determination, or some big calamity in the sky, very few of us go through it utterly alone. Regardless of the nature of some relationships, we are all born to a mother and father. Some of us have siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. If we are fortunate over time we accumulate teachers, mentors, lovers, and those we call our friends. None of these relationships are immune to the strain and harsh realities life will inflict upon them. Some of them will endure the tests of time, others will not and fade into our past. This too is ok, for they have all shaped us into who we are at present. Now on the advice of my good friend, I will bluntly and shamelessly promote my book with the inclusion of a short excerpt from the introduction. Using food as the great denominator of humanity, it too touches on the importance of friendships and how something so intrinsic to life can allow people to set aside their differences and recognize our shared difficulties while focusing on similar ambitions.
‘The Traveling Chef’ from 'Baking Bread for the Genius' 'As cooks, we learn, borrow, copy, and interpret recipes from our family, friends, teachers, mentors, employers, colleagues, peers, and professionals. I owe my culinary knowledge to everyone with whom I have ever shared a kitchen or from whom I have ever borrowed a recipe. Their influences and recipes can be found throughout this book. In this book, I share recipes given to me by a special few I have been fortunate enough to have known and whose cooking I have enjoyed for many years of my life. A funny thing about the many cultures spread throughout the world is their never-ending ability to replicate themselves in familiar ways. Whether separated by an ocean, a continent, mountains, or the sea, the human’s adaptability for survival universally finds itself repeated in the many forms of foods it depends upon for sustenance. Breads are no exception.
As travelers, we give ourselves the opportunity to experience other worlds, communities, and cultures as seen through the lives of the multitudes of peoples inhabiting our world. We can travel blindly, without pause for thought or consideration, or we can welcome what is offered with open mindedness and acceptance. In choosing the latter, we allow our own knowledge and understanding to reach beyond its previous limitations, and we begin to understand each other. We share the same struggles and collectively strive for the same common goals. Each of us is someone’s son or daughter, and we all want what is best for our loved ones. As we search for acceptance, we seek the work necessary to support our families. We search for individuals who can share in our success, and we hope to find at least one individual connection that will stand by us through the good times as well as the bad. Throughout it all, day and night, we find ways to satisfy our hunger. Of all things human, nothing is more consistently the same as the never-ending search for nourishment. There are few experiences more rewarding than sharing a good meal with family and friends, and nothing shows a deeper sense of hospitality than the offer to sit at the table of strangers and share their food. As a cook, it pleases me to travel the world and learn the foods of every people and culture I have the fortune to encounter. It is the surest way to make new friends and exchange stories that give value to a lifetime. My opportunities in this regard have been many.'
Sitting down to write. That's all you have to do and it will come. Don't force it they say, just do it and the angels of the muse will come to help you. They recognize your need and your desire, your willingness to put in the necessary work required and they reward you as the vessel of its creation. This is their pleasure. So that is why I am here. I am here to write what flows through me from wherever these energies are sourced.
The preceding paragraph was inspired by my recent reading of Steven Pressfield’s ‘The War of Art’, a copy I acquired some time ago via an email from a good friend who resides in Spain. As it is an electronic version, I filed it away and kept telling myself to remind myself to read it as soon as I finish the book I was reading at present. Needless to say, a good deal of time passed before I actually got around to reading it, two years to be exact, and you know a lot can happen in two years. As usual for me, there has been a bit movement in my life since receiving that book.
For starters, I was knee deep writing my first book, ‘Baking Bread for the Genius’. In the middle of writing that book I took a few weeks to help some friends sail their boat ‘Free Spirit’ from Tortola, BVI in the Caribbean to Hampton, Virginia. After I returned, I went to visit my sister Jacquie and her family in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for a week and then I flew back to Maryland to finish the initial manuscript. As I was scheduled to move to the beautiful island of Samui, Thailand in July of 2014 I was on a deadline and needed to complete it before the end of June.
I buckled down and managed to complete all my recipe testings, measurement conversions, story writing, picture taking, and societal ranting on time, bid my family and friends farewell (again) whilst packing the least amount of clothing and equipment required for a minimalist chef to move and survive on a tropical island literally half a world away. I was ready, my tickets purchased, and so I set out on the road one more time.
After getting settled in I began working with a friend and chef I met while living in Beijing, China. He and his Chinese wife operate a small catering company specializing in boutique wedding receptions, private villa celebrations, and other special events requiring culinary finesse and delicacy. Like most jobs in the hospitality industry, the hours are long and demanding, but the climate and the island lifestyle make it all the more rewarding. As worked passed so did the months, and as I got more comfortable and adjusted I began thinking of ways to carve out my own niche.
In time I have been able to establish my own small venture specializing in meat and seafood barbecues, drop-off catering packages, and ready made meal service for training athletes as well as those looking for healthy, prepared, convince meals. I also offer my services as a private chef in holiday villas and for private yacht charters. For the times I am not working, I have found a small, but personable gym and training facility where I can keep fit and continue practicing the martial arts I love, Muay Thai and Jiujitsu.
It has been two years since I began writing my book and eighteen months since I submitted the first manuscript. After months of countless messages and emails, rewrites and edits, we were able to combine all the text, recipes, and pictures into an agreeable layout design allowing ‘Baking Bread for the Genius’ to finally see publication in December, 2015.
After years of scribbling notes, one-liners, and verse for my own predilection (and a few select others) it is gratifying to see the fruits of my labors come to print for everyone to read. Im relieved, but not satisfied, proud but not content. It is an accomplishment I am worthy of but was not a card I saw in my hand. Who knew? How did this happen to me?
Reinvention is constant and rife throughout nature and I find myself consistently seeking out new ideas, philosophies, concepts, and knowledge. If one asked me 'what do you do', or ‘who are you’, my response has grown in twenty-odd years from ‘Im a cook’ to ‘I am a cook who loves to play drums and percussion while writing about my travels as I sail the waters of the world and train jiujitsu’. Am I an artist? Am I a musician? Am I a chef? Whose to determine? Some say you shouldn't have to ask that question of yourself. Either you know or you don’t. Either you are or you aren’t. But who are they to challenge your point of view, your stance, and what do they know of the path which has brought you to this particular point on your particular journey, on this very present day?
I’ve never been one to sit around idle and I suggest you motivate yourself to find that which makes you happiest in life. Stop asking questions and just do. Take the time to discover who you are and be that person, no matter how far away it takes you. ‘It’ must be allowed to come out and breathe its own life because there is so much to be said and we have to get everyone to listen, but first they must listen to themselves. There are books which are game changers. Authors like Hemingway, Gibran, Robbins, and Pressfield changed my game. Who will change yours?