Free Books to Celebrate

I can happily say I had my second Covid-19 vaccine dose two weeks ago. According to doctors, I currently have immunity. I feel like it is a second birthday of a sort. The pent-up tension, stress and anxiety have been slipping away. Being alone for the past six months has taught me a lot about myself.

Over the next four days I will be offering a series of my writing for FREE on Amazon. If you download and like the book, please leave a review, or even better, buy the book and leave a review 🙂

April 15 – Chinese Dreaming – The collected thoughts of China’s Millennials

This is a collection of writing from hundreds of former students. The world’s relationship with China is more important than ever before. Discover insight into the future of China through the writing of hundreds of millennials from one of China’s richest provinces.

April 16 – Unboxing Your Soul.

We are all wandering timelessly through paradise. Unboxing your soul reveals who you truly are. After a miraculous epiphany changed my life forever, I wanted to share what manifested in my life after I unboxed my soul. I hope by reading this book you can discover your own unique way to unbox your soul and manifest a brighter future.

Saturday April 17, Searching for Su Shi – Discovering the genius poet’s final transformation.

Enjoy this journey of discovery. Read never before translated recipes for medicinal wine and Dongpo Pork created by the happy genius poet/artist. Learn about the two thousand year old Taoist meditation known as “sitting and forgetting”. Follow the writer’s journey of self-discovery and love after suffering two massive coronary events. Travel far off the beaten path in China with the author and his wife on his final trip after twelve years as a lecturer and editor in China. Over one hundred photos are available as a supplement to the essay.

Also Saturday April 17 – something for younger readers share it with your young family and friends.

Pony Anne and the Silver Lantern Express: The untold story of the only female pony express rider

Pony Anne and the Silver Lantern Express is a fanciful historical fiction about the only female Pony Express rider. On Christmas Eve, 1860 Anne takes the reins for her injured fiance and delivers the mail. Along the way Anne meets a helpful, but mysterious stranger named Klaus driving a sleigh across the deep snow. The stranger gives Pony Anne a magical silver lantern that helps her family through hard times for generations. Enjoy this charming Christmastime tale of: courage, dedication and love set on America’s frontier.

And on the anniversary of the daring Doolittle Raid in World War Two

Sunday April 18- When Thunder Comes: The untold story of the Doolittle Raiders Chinese rescuers.

On April 18, 1942, sixteen American B-25 bombers audaciously attacked the Japanese mainland in what became known as the Doolittle Raid, and afterwards fifteen crews were forced to make emergency landings or parachute into China. By the middle of the summer of 1942 an estimated 250,000 Chinese people were killed in retribution for assisting the Doolittle Raiders, and tens of thousands more died or were permanently disabled by the lingering pathogens of the Japanese biological weapons used in further retaliation. When Thunder Comes includes many never before translated details from provincial archives related to the Doolittle Raiders .

You can see the my archive of photographs that go with the book by going to: https://cewheeler.art/raiders/

My wife and I did a lot of field research in the Chinese countryside and helped document the crash sites of two of the Raiders B-25s. I spent time with many old people who were witnesses to the Doolittle Raiders evacuation from China. Much of the information in the book has never appeared in English before.

Enjoy all these free books and thank you for reading. It’s great to be here on this side of the pandemic.

The Plasticide of Mother Earth

I have coined a new form of ecocide: Plasticide murder by plastic

This morning I found something lying on the beach that sent shivers down my spine. Walking along the high tide line, I noticed a piece of plastic with unfamiliar writing on it. I was shocked to see what turns out to be Jawi script – the writing system used for the Malay language. Looking closer, to my utter amazement, I discovered this was a one kilogram bag of pre-fried and quick frozen French Fries. But real fright washed over me after I read what was on the back. This bag was from Brunei. And the French fries had been produced and packaged in Belgium on MARCH 26, 2021 – SIXTEEN DAYS AGO!!!

Someone had imported a kilogram of French fries, which were packaged on March 26 in Belgium. The bag must have been flown to Brunei Darussalam. Someone bought and ate the bag of fries. The package somehow ended up in the Pacific Ocean. The bag floated through the South and East China Seas and perhaps the Philippine Sea. The bag must have been carried into the Kuroshio Current past Japan and out into the North Pacific Current. This 25cm by 35cm (10 in. by 14in.) plastic sail scooted past both the Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches. Overall, this piece of trash traveled over 12,000 kilometers (7,450 miles) across the Pacific Ocean in a matter of days. That doesn’t include the 11-12,000 kilometers by air to get from Belgium. In other words, this bag went from imported food to trash and traveled more than half way around the world in two weeks.

The sheer scale of globalization presented by this litter scared the living crap out of me. That is when I thought of the word – plasticide – murder by plastic. I pondered it for hours now. Did you know that Belgium is the world’s largest exporter of frozen potatoes? Over five million tons in 2018. The processed potato business is worth over two billion dollars. Apparently the growing middle class in Asia has increased demand for Belgian potato products. And the short time it took for that one kilogram bag of fried potato product to become trash is terrifying. I worried over this new form of ecocide – plasticide – all morning.

Every single day our earth is ravaged by hundreds of types pollution. But plastic pollution is a global concern. Nearly half the plastic that washes up on the world’s beaches comes from discarded fishing gear. I gather up as much as I can. I’m still trying to figure out a way to turn it into art. I try to remove plastic as I find it, because since moving to the coast, I have discovered a deep kinship with the ocean. And the discovery of this square foot of terror has upset me more than any other single bit of plastic pollution I have found.

I suppose the most disturbing element of this story is the lightning swift speed the imported French fries went from table to trash on my beach. But we cannot give up the fight. It is strange how much this has freaked me out. But a few dozen paces away I found something less shocking. As I wandered along knocking the sand off the french fries bag, I found a dollar. I hope it is a sign of a more positive future ahead.

Art is the Soul’s Inner Pictures

Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye.. it also includes the inner pictures of the soul.Edvard Munch

Imagine a scene: A clan of Ice Age people huddle together in a cave shelter. The dim sun drops below the horizon. Bitter winds howl through the valley below. The light of the communal fire carves deep shadows into the walls, and the scraps are tossed to the dogs guarding the entrance. The seer glances over his shoulder, before lifting his torch and journeying once again into the dark bowels of the cave. By squeezing through narrow gaps and crawling along tight passages, he reaches the sacred chamber. As the torch consumes the oxygen, hypoxia connects his expanded mind to the magical realm. Fundamental spirits are summoned and captured by charcoal sticks and red ocher. The link between worlds is maintained for a thousand generations. Today, when modern electric lights reveal the ancestral soul’s inner vision, art reconnects us to our primal nature.

Recently, scientific research has shown that ancient cave artists may have entered ecstatic states by knowingly deprived themselves of oxygen in order to create. Some of the most fantastic cave art in the world lies in deep narrow recesses far from the cave entrance. The lower levels of oxygen cause the brain to release dopamine. This can create a sense of euphoria, hallucinations or out of body experiences. Scientists conducting the research have experienced some of these symptoms from the low oxygen levels. It seems artists sought out these extreme conditions in order to create. For example, most of the art from one cave in France was painted 730 meters (about 2,400 feet) from the entrance. It would seem the conditions of the cave were a catalyst for the art.

Throughout history, artists, writers, and truth-seekers of all types have sought out the right conditions for their solitary endeavors. Some have been aided by intoxicants, exhaustion, meditation, etc. For all artists, repetition, routine and resolve return them to their muse. An inner radiance lights the way. They descend through the caverns of their conscious minds into the border lands of inspiration. Guided by an inner compass, artists find the spiritual ley lines to the well of their soul where they slake their thirst. All of you reading this are truth-seekers and artists. You found your way here in search of understanding. I welcome you, and try to share some of the inner pictures from my soul.

We all have had flow experiences, where our actions moved effortlessly from one to the next. It is like improvisation in Jazz. As the intoxication of the peak experience increases, the “oxygen” of normal experience is reduced. Athletes are said to be “in the zone”. And nothing beats the thrill of discovering that skill or art bubbling up from deep within you. The same can be said of yoga or meditation. In a way it is a paradox that, inspiration can be found all around us, but we must journey within to transcend our individual self.

The next time you enter your sacred space, take out your modern day charcoal and ocher. Sketch a portrait of what you see there. Share that creation with those you love and care about. If they don’t already know the way, help them on their path to understanding. The passion to create is far older than the most ancient cave paintings. Art is as fundamental to life as oxygen.

Here are a few links to recent scientific articles about cave art

Science Alert: https://www.sciencealert.com/ancient-cave-artists-might-ve-knowingly-deprived-themselves-of-oxygen-to-paint

CNN https://www.cnn.com/style/article/cave-art-study-scli-intl-scn/index.html

Poem: Soul Outpost-Cantos 5,6

Canto V: Peering over the Edge

Tantalized lifeblood flows from the Great Mystery

Shift along the shadow border

Between the known and the unknown

The heart trills like a soaring songbird

A succession of defining moments arrive

Reality tears away the fancy

Consideration gives way to acceptance

There is a surrendering to the Real

Rudely roused from the edge of sleep

The mirror reveals the journey taken

New layers formed around the eyes

The alterations – gossamer thin at first

The map of passage drawn upon our face

We survived the first barriers

These slippery shadows of reality

Are mere reflections within a house of mirrors

Dense cultural bonds alter the fabric of reality

Various societal estuaries are traversed

Schools/bookstores/restaurants/buses/supermarkets and sidewalks

Allude to endless potential interactions

In commonplace settings we meet face-to-face

Realized similarities shatter assumptions

Raining reality splinters and shards of truth

Into awakened psyches like a thought bomb

Canto VI: Potency and Potentiality

Weekly I pour the potent wine of poetry

Attempt to ensnare a few attentive students in its lyrical mesh

Poetry can convey deepest human thoughts

Or drop one into a yawning trench of bewilderment

Results are determined by individual interpretation and valuation

Metered feet dance across soul-lines and heartstrings

Lofty ideas concoct the ambrosia of self discovery

Grand voices chant illuminating incantations

Poet’s flesh and bone rendered down to essence

Sighing restless souls stir the air

Meaning strikes the awakening minds like flint to steel

And ignite sparks of inspiration and illumination

Chinese artists create a metaphysical little universe – 小 宇宙xiǎo yǔzhòu
Their ingenious artifacts discharge this little universe

Penetrate the minds of admirers and critics alike

Imaginative fragments catalyze inspiration

From my little universe beside the Grand Canal

I gaze upon an ancient transforming realm

For a time in this rapidly shifting dominion

I make my home

Poetry: Soul Outpost Cantos 3-4

Canto III – Luminous Clarity

My downstairs neighbor sweetly strums the Guzheng after Sunday breakfast

The radiant music flows through the cement floor into my tiny cloister

In the room next to me, my future wife teaches English to anxious middle school students preparing for their monthly exams

Their critical class rank measured down to the fourth decimal point

I drop Southside urban blues into the mix

The interplay of guitar, guzheng and grammar weaves a magic spell over my keyboard

Transitory illusions float about the unheated 8×10 room

A flint-hard bed, cheap wardrobe full of flotsam and tarnished vanity occupy the space

I stretch out in a corner on a 120 kwai (about 18 dollars) rope webbed lounge chair, looking at my reflection in the soot stained de-silvering mirror

Warm myself over my laptop as I peck away – chasing after quixotic dreams

Ponder the bare nature of existence

A distant spectral lighthouse

Beckons from shadowy shores

Commands from the gloom

Relinquish the soft sanctuary

Besieged by rough aggregated necessities

From the emptiness comes the real

Coalescing from disparate energies

Balanced on the head of a pin

Poised on the razor’s edge

There, gleaming beyond the shoals

Rises the miraculous morning star

Brilliant, white heaven’s fleck

The emptiness falls away

The void fills with light

The interwoven thread spun on the karmic wheel

Traces ephemeral patterns in corporeal space

The same energy that pulls tides around the planet

And lifts gossamer wings

Returns to heaven with each baby’s breath

This ripe potency powers all-from nothing

A divine light pierced my ever-questing heart

The imperfect darkness was illuminated

As I crossed the threshold

My old path was obliterated

Immutable sparks flared

Birthing moments of luminous clarity

With my new track consecrated

Hunkered down in my soul outpost

I gaze towards the blue horizon

Canto IV – Skyborne Heart

We first revealed our vulnerabilities in a guarded manner

Hard-fought habits transformed into trust and faith in the future

Wounds healed and laid to rest – we nurture one another

The heartbeats of half a lifetime grant us scope to explore

Hoping to discover a course through to the infinite

Pray the metaphysical landscape reveals unknown portals

Out of which, we create moments everlasting

These lustrous threads of forever are ours to weave as we will

Love now sings through golden wires between us

I so avow – part of my heart will e’er be skyborne

Together we fashioned a mote of immortality which grants us its splendor

Basking in the vivid intensity of love’s grandeur

At night we hold hands in our sleep

Reassuring each other that even as we dream

We are not alone

My love’s waking eyes deliver my soul from dim night’s extinction

Here in the dawn of our new life we found a splinter of paradise

On which we float about the turbulent chaos of the everyday

Our revitalized faith in the future has brought us peace

I push to make my mark

Scratch my name into the pantheon

So that I can drip my essence into the altered emptiness

And claim a speck of eternity for her

Love’s titanic tides roll across the face of the deep

A blue-green expanse sparkles over the eternity of devotion

Circling round the framing fire – I lift the shadow-veil

Touch of light against dark fills my mended heart with hope

Melts the delusion from my eyes

Open the Way forward

Watch me fly

Poetry: Soul Outpost Cantos 1-2

Canto One: Divergence of Paths

Gleaming field of white marble monuments

Mom’s with Presbyterian cross

She will eternally bunk with her sailor boy

When he lays himself down to sleep

Accompanied by my two beloved daughters

I visited the day before leaving for China

A remnant of preserved plums

Blessed before Chinese ancestors’ tomb

Delivered across the deep

An offering between bloodlines

Shades fall across familial tablets

Fractured earth opened into an offering slot

Bronze I-Ching charm dropped into darkness

From the depths uncoiled a blue-gray spirit

Risen to bless the journey and pledge protection

Airport farewell awash with tears

Steadfast daughters must turn away

Brave souls and strong hearts overflowing with blessings

Love and assurances illuminated the path ahead

Our lives once all-one beside the other’s footsteps

A divergence of paths towards a distant reunion

Soar above the Bering Sea on destiny’s back

Before plummeting into the smelting pot

Nothingness remained

Soft ambrosia of love – an amber glow ahead

Rooted upon the known, the unknown blossomed

Disembarking, spirits coalesced

I stood in an inherited future

Testament to the enduring human spirit

Confirmation of the unbreakable will to survive

Those who held the line against annihilation

Did not surrender to death’s shadow

I too had survived devastation

My mortal spark twice nearly extinguished

But their blood granted me strength

A portion of their soul remained intact

Outside the maelstrom

Their vital energy blazed a trail and

Drew the outline of my unborn being

There could be no “I” without “them”

This mortal coil is bound to their spirits

My heart-fire is the glow of their posterity

Canto Two: Uncover the Way

Laborers eat beneath the steam-canopy of handmade noodles

Makeshift sidewalk restaurants brim with red-scarved school kids

A hundred brilliant golden caps explode from the crowd

Ramshackle facades charred with grease and motor oil

Overlook specter-farms

A thousand arcing novas erupt across the landscape

Dusty rubble piles of past homes delineate the future

As life flourishes in the cramped dominion of the jostling masses

From over the western horizon comes the hint of unfamiliar scents

Risen sun, crimson against the hoary deep

Offers no warmth to the muddy ground

Skeletal steel sentinels stretch the skyline

Clamoring higher upon ashen vapors

Orange clad street sweepers

Crumpled papers folded into their soles

Insulated against the bone-chill

Floating white heron

Featureless gray walls

Plum silhouette on a window shade

Corrugated blue ceiling

Green plastic panels

Black ceramic tiles

Brown iron pipes

Gray gutter-water

Red azaleas

The old, ever-shatter, discard and hammer out a place for the new

Disregarded and discarded the pulverized past paves the way to the future

Sidewalks crowded with bicycle carts and jerry-rigged three wheeled farmers’ cars

Hawking inexpensive vegetables, textiles and trinkets to put meat in their woks

Modernity has little impact on essential human nature

Dark beams jut up from ancient alluvial planes where

Over-spilling pestilential drainage ditches fill with waste

Subtle pathways slip through traditional landscapes

Floating temples drift overhead on a supernatural sky ocean

Inherent potentiality emerges to transform posterity

Notebook paper softens – its recycled content trying to convert back to sticks and old newspapers

The pen gouges into the page like a twig writing on a leaf.

Seepage – hidden agendas, restrained emotions, and constrained thoughts seep through crumbling mortar

The grit that now restricts brick and slab a past edification

Stones prevail against time and tide over a lifetime and so people become stones inside

Atrophying souls grow dense, smooth and cold from social-acid-wash

The pliable power of changing times moves like a trickle or a torrent – depending upon the resistance met

Instance streams to insistence to patience to coexistence

Ecologue

It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become. – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

This morning I added a new word to my personal description – ecologue. Eco – meaning ecology, which is derived from the Greek oikos – extended family. Logue – one who is immersed in or driven by. Some of my earliest memories are of nature. My mom used to carry me around and point to different plants and tell me the colors and names. Our yard had a fence around it, so I was allowed to play outside almost as soon as I could walk. I reveled in the natural world down to the smallest details of ants’ antennae, the saw toothed edges of grass, and the citrus tang of sassafras leaves.

As a kid, I was fortunate to live next door to my beloved grandpa – Buddy. Buddy was born in the backwoods of Kentucky, and was a hardworking child of nature and dirt farmer. When I was about four years old, he and I would walk down the ally to the liquor store. Along the way he would point out different aspects of nature, the erosion of topsoil, wildflowers, and the best grass for chewing on. Those early childhood lessons were etched on my soul. He is the one who told me the water in our bodies has the same concentration of salt as seawater. And one night he taught me how to sense the moon’s tidal effect with us.

What scenic spots have stirred your soul? To be scenic does not necessarily mean to be grand in scale. To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour William Blake Think of your favorite local nature spot. What makes it so pleasurable to be in? I am fortunate because as I write I can look out the window onto a small woodlot. A soaring fanfare of birdsong triumphantly proclaims the arrival of spring; as formations of Canadian Geese raucously pass overhead. Later, I will enjoy the symphony of the sea’s surging crescendos rolling up into the imperial purple heavens.

Another term I use to describe myself is neotranscendentalist. Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of the first American writers to advocate for Nature. His transcendentalist view believed Nature promoted spiritual nourishment. As he said, Every spirit builds itself a house; and beyond its house a world; and beyond its world, a heaven…. In peaceful moments, our spirits tend to float into the clouds and drift along on currents of wind and water. With the coming of warmer weather, take off your shoes and wiggle your toes in the cool grass, or soft sand. That sense of temporary enchantment is transcendent.

The flourish of springtime, paint my view increasingly green as various blooms and blossoms emerge. Time and again, it has been proven that green space is essential to humanity’s well-being. One cannot truly be well without nature. We should resurrect the simple lessons we learned from our parents and grandparents But far too many people take advantage of the seemingly endless bounty and never lend a helping hand to the natural world. We must all become advocates for Nature. Human beings need to feel the sweet caress of nature upon their face, hear the call of the wild. This weekend release your spirit into Nature.

To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Chasing Moonbeams

May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.J.R.R. Tolkien

This morning I was awakened by moonglow. Pulling back the curtains not only shined a light into my dark room but into my heart as well. The moon, like a radiant pearl, illuminated the midnight blue sky. The black silhouettes before me were nothing more than paper cutouts. While my mind attended to the multiple realities of waking/dreaming/sleeping, my spirit soared from the inner darkness into the light. Fierce winds rattled the windows and shook the roof. Nonetheless, I followed a trail of moonbeams to the shore. My goal was to take photos of the bright moon out over the ocean, but nature had other plans.

The baby bat / Screamed out in fright, / Turn on the dark, / I’m afraid of the light. – Shel Silverstein

As I hopped into my thermal underwear, I checked the weather and the tides. The weather radar showed no clouds on the horizon. Minutes later, as I pulled onto the beach, that was proven to be untrue. The moon had just stepped behind a cloud as if yanking on its robe. I managed a quick peek before it demurely ran away. Gale force winds blew from the northwest to southeast, the clouds raced from southwest to northeast, as the ocean endlessly rolled west to east. I faced the brightening day with hope. Several times the glory of the moonlight walked past the cloudy curtain. Each fleeting glance shorter than the preceding one. At last I leapt from the car and received a spoonful of grit in my teeth for a final one second glimpse.

I cheered myself up by watching seagulls flying backwards as they negotiated their landings. I was not disappointed for long, as the clouds the radar could not see opened up and poured icy rain. For all our technological advances predicting the weather is still just that – a prediction – a forecast. Content to just be out of the rain, I thought about how we try to forecast the near future every day. But there are always forces beyond our control like clouds on the horizon. For the rest of this day, however, I am going to be as cautious as possible. Tomorrow I get the second dose of Covid vaccine. And I don’t want anything to interfere with that.

For the past six months of quarantine, nature has been my sanctuary. I’ve wandered along the solitary beach and been serenaded by songbirds outside my window. Grand parades of clouds have marched overhead accompanied by sublime sonatas rustling through the trees. Through the window, glorious fresh perfumed breezes brush my face as I paint and write. Half a year has passed with my only living companions being a few plants in the window, the world outside and occasional voices over the phone/internet. So I chase after rainbows and moonbeams, sunrises and sunsets. I have left a half million or more footprints in the sand and taken thousands of photos. Along with over a dozen paintings, I’ve written a novel, nearly one hundred blog posts and more. But I cannot truly forecast how these months will follow me into the future.

It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but that you are a conductor of light.Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Some teachers will tell you the answers you seek lie within; look inside yourself to discover the Universe. But that is only partially true. After finding that light within, you have to be willing to then turn around and shine that light into the darkness around you. Just as the moon reflects the dazzling sun, you must mirror the marvelous for others. Tomorrow afternoon I will joyfully experience a metaphysical sunrise on the rest of my life. I am reminded of that old poster – Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Let your light shine all around.

Visualizing the Future

Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic. – Carl Sagan

Happy Weekend. I want to share some of NASA cool data visualizations with you. The videos in this post are part of NASA’s sonification data visualization efforts. They are best listened to with headphones to enjoy the full effect. The supreme geeks at NASA take photos and electromagnetic energy data and turn them into sounds. In this way, they are trying to feed people’s imagination.

I have been a huge space nerd since childhood. Let me date myself a bit. When Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, I was camping in my best friend’s backyard. His dad called us in to watch Apollo 11 on TV. After witnessing one of the most astounding events in human history, we went outside and tried to see Apollo with our low powered binoculars. It didn’t matter that we couldn’t see the ship. Because we fell asleep that night beneath the Milky Way knowing something that no human had ever known before that day. Along with nearly a billion others, we knew what the surface of the moon actually looked like through human eyes. Back then, I used to stay up late with my dad and watch Star Trek in re-runs– just me and my dad. My sisters and brother weren’t interested. My war hero sailor father enjoyed how the crew worked together, the Navy military ranks, and what planets looked like from space. When he was working in the factory, some guy asked if he would take a ride on a NASA spaceship. Without hesitation, he said “Hell yeah”. I agreed. And I still would. We could visualize the trip in our minds. He taught me that.

When my dad was in high school, he sketched a jet airplane on his notebook. Since jets didn’t exist back then, I asked him about it. He still had the notebook. He said he visualized how a plane would look if it had rocket engines. A year later, he was an eighteen year old flight mechanic churning the air thousands of feet above the Pacific Ocean. As he put it, hours of boredom followed by a few minutes of absolute terror. As they hurtled along the edge of the troposphere, he saw every part of that plane in his mind’s eye. He said all his senses combined as if he became part of the plane. As a mechanic, my old man could visualize every part of an engine and could sense it’s condition. Being able to transcend our everyday senses is one of humanity’s greatest gifts. And it is that same visualization ability that stirs our souls when we look out over the horizon, or gaze up at the stars. We all are explorers. Exploration inspires the human mind to see beyond the senses.

You are living on a space ship. And that spaceship is rocking. The Earth rotates at about 460 meters a second or around one thousand miles an hour (measured at the equator). We are rotating a little slower here where I am (about 750 miles an hour). Our planet-ship is traveling around the sun at 66,000 miles an hour (about 106,000 km/hr). Our solar system is really hauling ass as it rotates around the galaxy at 220 kilometers a second, almost 500,000 miles an hour (around 800,000 km/hr). Strap yourself in, because our Milky Way Galaxy is screaming through the Universe at 2.1 million km/hr or 1.3 million miles an hour. Our planet-ship/solar system/galaxy/ moves in the direction of the constellations Leo and Virgo towards what is known as the Great Attractor.

The great thinker Buckminster Fuller used to teach little kids about the earth. Buckie would take the kids to the top of a nearby hill and teach them how fast the earth was turning. They would stand with their feet apart, hands outstretched, and Fuller would ask the kids, “Can you feel the earth rotating towards the east at hundreds of miles and hour?” All the kids would stop for a second and shout, “YEAH!” That is what all these visualizations do for me. As a space geek, my imagination devours NASA visualizations. Several years ago, it was my honor to have once been part of NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth environmental education project. I got to see some cool stuff and shake hands with some astronauts. One of them asked us if we would like to journey into space, and I answered enthusiastically” Hell yeah”, just like a kid and my old man. Take a journey in your mind.

Your Personal Renaissance

An artist must have his measuring tools not in the hand, but in the eye. – Michelangelo

According to the dictionary, a freehand drawing is “done by hand without the use of instruments, measurements, etc”. You use your hand and observational skills. All children know how to do this, and some remember how after they grow up. As I’ve written before, Art has been a lifeline for me during this godawful pandemic. Isolated and alone, I picked up a pencil and began to freehand draw. When that went well, I got some paints and paper then canvas. The world dissolves and the eye, in sharp focus, connects to the pencil/brush. A metaphysical bond forms with the medium – paper, canvas, wood, stone. The art and the artist blend together and are unstuck in time. The same is true for writing. When I write, the words flow out from a dimensionless space into this world. Painting is just another way of keeping a diary – Picasso

The awful pandemic of 2019-2021 forced us to sharpen our observational skills in order to take care of ourselves and our loved ones. This heightened awareness has been coupled with hands-on living. In a very real sense, we have freehanded a new future. As societies quarantined, people turned to DIY haircuts, meals, minor repairs, and a thousand other tasks and artistic pursuits. Many people are reassessing where they see their lives heading post-pandemic. The outpouring of art, pent up energy and desire for change can lead to your personal Renaissance. It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.Ernest Hemingway

One of the catalysts for the Renaissance was the Black Death. The Bubonic Plague devastated Europe in the late Middle Ages. The disease spread rapidly in cities and many fled to the countryside. My daughter would be a good modern day example. She moved out of LA last month due in no small part to having to suffer through the pandemic in one of the world’s largest cities. Many young people are migrating away from big urban areas. Like today’s pandemic, the plague killed millions and devastated the economy. As the plague faded, and life began to normalize, trade and cultural exchange gave rise to new ideas. Today, people are anxious for change and to live their lives more creatively and fully. Make those changes – soon. Why wait?

The Twenty-First Century is defined by information technology. Right there in your hands you have access to: millions of libraries, museums, art galleries, the digital studios of artists, musicians, movie-makers. And you have a creative toolbox that practically boggles the mind. Online training is finally here. Back in the mid-1990s I worked on internet-based education. But those efforts were always limited by the technology. But now, with wifi, broadband, 4G and 5G, the doors to millions of cyber class rooms have swung open wide. DIY learning has arrived. And with that knowledge you can harness your creativity in life-changing ways. Transform your corner of the world.

I don’t need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me. – Ray Bradbury. Nearly every one of my pandemic days have been like that. At first, the thoughts were desolate to varying degrees. My wife was gone. My children far away. Nature cheered me every day, but many days I woke with shadows clouding my thinking. Then I began to really create again. Writing, drawing and painting were my wings. And now, hundreds of millions of people are waking into a new reality. The creative energy produced for survival can be turned towards a global renaissance movement. There will always be naysayers and doubters. But think about the alternative future into which we have awakened. Years of change have happened in months. As society re-emerges, do not fall back into the same old patterns that limited you in the past. Grab hold. Take stock of your life and reshape it into your renaissance. Your redesigned future awaits.

PS

Google “Sloth in a tree” Does this piece of driftwood and odd beach stone look like a sloth, or have I just been alone too long 🙂 I guess it all depends on how you see the world around you.