Being a writer is a sort of curse, a sort of cosmic joke in the eyes of the Creator. He must have a sense of humor. He must…
I have a friend, very senior marketing and branding guy, who’s first question to me about my writing – and a good one I might add – is well who is your target audience? What a great question, but it nonetheless does have some assumptions built into it. That we write for someone else, someone other than ourselves and that we have some sort of a goal with the writing. Everything is goal oriented here in the West, capitalism itself is rooted in this concept. Everyone is running about doing stuff that will get them somewhere.
Where are we going? What if we are already here?
I can’t speak for all writers, I just know that my process of writing began as a sort of pressure valve release for the massive upheaval I had undergone in that period of my life – post divorce flung into the almost crippling world of dating in NYC which is for a very good reason referred to as a concrete jungle. Bring your shield and swords my friend for this world is not for the faint of heart.
As a spiritual person more or less, one who follows and believes in us as spiritual beings rather than as material, physical entities (the Kripalian Flip if I may coin a term), navigating around the world can be difficult. Navigating the professional world under these circumstances can be difficult but navigating the emotional/romantic world is more difficult because you are more exposed.
The writing became a sort of psychological release on the one hand, but also a mechanism for psycho-physical reconciliation on the other. What is real? What is true? Is there a spirit world? Are we all matter, destined to perish as entities upon death or is there something that persists thereafter? The answers to these questions drive the very core of our existence, underpin all of our decisions and ultimately provide the metaphysical foundations of our lives.
Many take this physicalism, this objective realism which I call it, for granted. Of course the spirit worlds is mumbo jumbo – the only thing we can know, be sure of, is that the world around us is real. Is this true? Have you really looked at these questions seriously? What are the results of NOT looking at these questions seriously? Snow Cone Diaries is the exploration of these ideas, what I have found and the documentation of this journey of exploration. It is here for entertainment or learning purposes, take your pick.
I am in the final analysis a (computer) scientist, a yogi (yes), a husband, a father, a tennis player (athlete), a mystic poet, a writer, and a flawed human all wrapped up in one big package working his way through this madness we call life in the best way I know how given my character, circumstances, desires, responsibilities and, perhaps the most important ingredient of all, knowledge of how this whole thing works. Knowledge that comes both from experience, and from the art of knowing which stems from my yogic practices more or less but also is a function of my writing. The text itself is an artifact of the knowledge gaining process, and in turn – following this hypothesis – becomes a sort of breadcrumb trail to the knowledge itself.
I claim no ultimate illumination or liberation but at the same time lay claim to my birthright as a child of the Creator. I am He, as a wave is a part of the ocean and as such while my understanding may be limited I still recognize myself as both a fundamental part of existence and at the same time an extension of the godhead themselves as an experiential and sentient being in this reality. This knowledge, this (level of) awareness, has come from years of study, years of (meditation) practice but most notably – and this is a point that needs to be emphasized because each and every one of us shares this capacity and has access to this sort of knowledge – through experience.
Experience is the best teacher and for some of us it is our only teacher. You want to learn the game? Play. You lose? Play again? Study the game. Keep playing. Keep improving, keep practicing. At some point you may reach a place where you have enough knowledge of the game to teach others. Or you may just care to keep the knowledge for yourself. It is all Good. Quite literally in fact. Plato had it right on this front (Timaeus).
This exercise of writing then, as a form of requisite expression of existence, is a sort of bane to my existence, activated by psychological (emotional) stress and then once activated (really opened up as a sort of channeling) necessitates use. I cannot sit on ideas. The ideas eat away at me. You must understand, there is no fame or fortune that I pursue here. It is a battle with demons. I keep these wolves at bay by writing. It has become a sort of coping mechanism with the sheer magnitude of the problem of both self-liberation and the liberation of the collective. The former is hard enough, but it is the reflection of the ignorance in the collective that feeds into the process.
Yet everywhere I seem to turn, people just don’t seem to get it. Not that I know everything, but I know some things. In fact, and I joke with my family members about this quite a bit, I know an awful lot about a very limited set of things – three in fact.
Tennis. I know a shit ton about tennis, I have played and coached pretty much my whole life. I played and competed at a high level, have one of my kids competing at a semi-pro level now and I just know this game. The game as it turns out feeds into the knowledge of yoga, that’s how I got into Yoga initially in fact.
This is the second thing I know a shit ton about. Yoga. I studied with Hindu (Ramakrishna) monks for years, was initiated by a senior monk of the Ramakrishna Order, and have been practicing meditation and reading about philosophy and metaphysics, and ancient mythology and religion, for over thirty years now. I know about Yoga, theology and mysticism. That’s number 2.
The third thing I know about is Systems. This is my trade. I have a Masters in Computer Science, I worked a software engineer for almost two decades, I know 5 or 6 programming languages, am proficient in both Unix and Windows systems (the latter being mostly the area I have focused on the last ten years) and have concentrated, both theoretically and academically and in my professional work postgraduate studies, on distributed computing and networking – basically building and maintaining massively scalable information systems. This is what I do for work and I have forgotten more in this field, this art form really, than most have ever known. I see patterns here that almost no one else sees. This is what happens when you become a Master.
So these three things is pretty much what I know, and it turns out that these three things, the knowledge that accumulates as one progresses in each of these disciplines, combines to form a sort of unique perspective on reality – one rooted in the physical and the practical (Yoga and Tennis), one which has a clear demarcation of effectiveness, as measured in terms of performance, which aligns with the discipline of systems engineering in the sense that it is a sort of physical engineering discipline. If you perform better you have a better chance of winning.
We’re not shooting for spiritual insights or illuminations (although for years I chased these ghosts) but more making life better and physically (and mentally) expanding my capabilities. Tennis is a sort of testing ground for yoga and systems is a sort of testing ground for metaphysics you might say. Each is rooted in the world – this physical and mental world and as you understand these engineering disciplines, which is in effect what they are (Yoga is the engineering discipline of the mind-body complex), you gain a very direct understanding of the world within which this knowledge operates.
Understanding the subsystems – us, ourselves and how to optimize our own performance across physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual dimensions – leads quite directly to an understanding of the whole, of the system itself.
And as I read and listen to all of these so-called experts, there are really very very few that have it all sorted out, and many who think they have it sorted out but just don’t. I keep waiting to find someone that has the same perspective as I do, has the same knowledge, who has conveyed it and shared it in a way that is digestible and understandable and every time I think I see this person, read their book, there is something missing.
And this is why I write now, why I feel compelled to put these thoughts into words and words into chapters and chapters into books – because everyone seems really bloody confused. Which I guess should not be surprising at all really given the circumstances.
 As I document in Snow Cone Diaries, Valdez 2014.