Steve Bivans

Author, Fear-Less Life & Self-Publishing Coach

Category: Bivans’ Best (page 1 of 4)

The best articles I’ve ever written, all in one convenient category.

Captain Larry LaFeet: The Land-Pirate of Decatur Street

 

I lost my pride on Decatur Street.

This isn’t one of those, somewhere, sometime, thangs, either. Hell no, I know precisely where and when I lost it, my pride that is.

It was liberated by a buccaneer, a pirate, on Decatur Street, in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Thursday the 23rd day of March, 2017.

When I say ‘buccaneer,’ I ain’t talkin’ about a swashbuckling, sea-legged pirate, either. Nope. He was a Land-Pirate, a Boot Buccaneer.

The Story Begins…

On our first trip to the Big Easy–our only trip so far–Paysh caught a nasty stomach bug, which I mentioned in another article on Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar. The bug, or whatever it was, really knocked her down on the second day of our trip, and while it subsided somewhat during the week, it was a factor the entire vacation.

By the next to last day, Thursday the 23rd, she was feeling a lot better, if not quite 100%, and we headed down to the Quarter in the afternoon to stroll around, eat dinner, and see the sights.

We had dinner at The Gumbo Shop, which was quaint. I had the jambalaya, which was pretty good. Paysh–thanks to her gut parasite–opted for mashed potatoes, which really sucks ass if you’re in New Orleans at a place called The Gumbo Shop.

It was a very cool place, though, with an open courtyard in back with plants and palms and a fountain and sculptures.

gumbo shop new orleansWe sat in what was probably the colonial kitchen on the backside of the courtyard, a brick structure with French doors, old wooden tables, the remnants of the fireplace, a gumbo pot on the old, brick stove next to the fireplace, and pots and pans hanging on the walls. The setting was superb.

After dinner, we strolled around Jackson Square looking for a mule carriage to ride, but had very little luck finding one.

No matter where we went, we seemed to have just missed them, kind of like surfers seeking the perfect waves, “Shoulda been here yesterday, man.” Ce la vie.

A Pedestrian Pirate Attack

New Orleans is reknowned for its pirates. Pretty much everyone knows of Captain Jean Lafitte, spelled with an ‘i’. But have you ever heard of the most famous pirate of all? Larry LaFeet? spelled with two ‘e-s’? Probably not. pirates on Decatur Street

Here’s the story…

We had pretty much given up on procuring a carriage so we decided to walk up and check out Artillery Park , overlooking the Square, when I was attacked by Larry LaFeet the Land-Pirate.

Artillery Park  is a raised area overlooking both Jackson Square to the north, and the mighty Mississippi to the south, and was the position from which Big Easyites in a more violent epoch, could fire flaming cannonballs at approaching, hostile ships sailing up the river to attack the city. Some of those ships were flying Union Jacks, and some of them Jolly Rogers.

On this fine evening, however, the cannons were apparently un-manned, because one of those pesky corsairs slipped the net.

As we were climbing the ramp up to the park, he sprang from the dark cover of a palm tree, on to the path.

“Hey brother!” was the shot across my bow that alerted me to his presence.

At that point, he was flying friendly colors, though he had a Jolly Roger in his back pocket, as I was to learn soon enough.

“Those are some nice shoes!” was his second shot, closer to the hull of the ship, but still friendly.

My suspicions were both eased AND tightened at the same time, if that’s possible? I was disarmed somewhat by his amicable nature, but suspicious of his admiration for my footwear.

They were just Red Wing boots: nothing special about them. They were certainly not worth shanking me to steal them, which lessoned my alarm, too. But why would he give a rat’s ass about my shoes?
To say I was taken off guard is a gross understatement. I wasn’t knocked to the floor, but nothing in my upbringing had prepared me to respond to surprise compliments from a Cajun pirate.

I say he was a pirate, not because he was dressed as one or anything. He didn’t look like Captain Jack Sparrow stumbling along with a finger hooked in a bottle of rum. I’m not sure what he was wearing, actually. It was pretty dark.

“Thanks?” I replied.

“How y’all doing tonight?” he followed, quickly.

“Uhh, pretty good,” I was beginning to regain my composure, I thought, and asked the obvious question, “What can I help ya with brother?” Hey, I was in his city, so trying to be polite and give him the benefit of the doubt. I’m that kind of tourist. The kind that doesn’t request Piano Man in a touristy bar, or treat the locals like a nuisance.

“Those are some nice shoes,” he repeated, “Betcha I can tell you exactly where you got’em, the state, city, and street where you got’em! I betcha. Hey, this is how I make my livin’ man, ya know, I don’t beg, or sell drugs on the corner, I got kids to feed at home, I’m just out here shinin’ shoes and talkin’ ta people ya know, whatcha say? Betcha $20 I can tell ya where you got them shoes!”

Now, let me just say in my own defense, that you’re reading this stuff at your leisure, so don’t judge me too harshly for what happened next. I wasn’t reading this shit; I was trying to follow his offer, challenge, whatever it was, in the dark, taken off guard, and he wasn’t waiting around for me to ‘get it’ either. He was a mutherfuckin’ fast talker, and I mean really fast. It was mostly a blur of syllables flying by of which I caught only every 4th or 5th.

I’m quite certain that the dialogue I remember is faulty as hell, since I didn’t hear or comprehend 90% of it, even as I was hearing it for the first time. My memory of what transpired is colored by the aftermath. In retrospect, I have cobbled together what I think was his tactic:

  1. Catch me by surprise. CHECK
  2. Keep me off guard. CHECK
  3. Always keep the initiative. I never had a chance.

Once a pirate has you against the gunwales, you’re fucked.

And I was definitely about to walk the plank.

I was shark food, chicken of the fuckin’ sea, even if I didn’t know it, yet. He had me in a corner, and there were fins to the left, and fins to the right.

“Whatever, man,” I said, half out of breath from trying to follow his turbo rant. I was thinking to myself, He can’t possibly guess that I got these from Robert Street in West Saint Paul. My accent definitely doesn’t give it away. I’m not from Minnesota, and you can get Red Wing boots, anyfuckinwhere.

“Betchatwentydollars and if I’m right you owe me twenny and twenny for shinin’ yer shoes too. Whatdayasay? ThisishowImakealivindon’tchaknow? Got kids to feed, I ain’t pushing drugs or robbin’ nobody? It’s an honest livin’ whatcha say?”

I’m tellin ya, he was throwing cutlass jabs and firin’ hot lead as fast as he could sling it, and I was starting to smell like blood in the water. My brain was reeling from the barrage of questions and his speech was almost hypnotic.

I felt at this point that we had somehow ‘bonded’ though that doesn’t make any fuckin’ sense, I know, especially in the post mortem. But in that moment we were two dudes understandin’ one another, I think? Fuck if I know.

The Curse of Pride

This is where my pride got me, I think. It was all about pride.

I pride myself as a pretty smart guy, usually. And my mother raised me with a very acute bullshit meter—though she would never call it that. I can smell a scam a mile away, or so I’ve always thought.

But this time, the pride I’m talkin’ about isn’t in my ability to catch the con, it was in my general affability, sense of fair play, and belief in the basic goodness of humanity.

The problem with that pride, in this instance, was that I was in a fencing match with a pirate in a dark alley, and he had the advantage, because he knew something I didn’t, and he was a master of language, as you’ll see.

Larry LaFeet the Land-Pirate had engaged me in a conversation, or at least that’s what I thought at first. But the speed of that exchange was such that I never had time to gather my wits. He came out of the dark, opened the exchange and took complete control of all of it. At no point did I ever really regain the initiative. He was a master of conversation.

Or at least the ‘con’ sans ‘versation.’

He employed all his wits and training to maneuver me, my sense of humanity, and my pride to the edge of the plank, with salt water and tiger sharks swirling in the surf under my feet. Metaphorically speaking of course.

The magic of Yes

Every great salesperson knows that the key to closing the deal is to get your prospective buyer to answer a series of simple, no-brainer questions in the affirmative. If you can get them to say ‘yes’ several times, then it becomes increasingly difficult to put a stop to it, and one more ‘yes’ is almost assured.

At this point, I’d said ‘yes’ too many times to say no.

I had been tricked into giving away several yeses by Larry the Land-Pirate, without even realizing it.

It was like subliminal messages in a 1970s movie that make you want to eat ten pounds of popcorn and become a diabetic drinking five gallons of Coca Cola to wash it down with. Larry had included several tiny, barely noticeable questions in his rapid-fire con-versation:

“I’m just makin’ a living right?”

“I’m not on the street sellin’ drugs, know what I mean?”

“Everybody’s gotta feed their kids, right?”

By the time he got around to the final thrust on the origin of my shoes, I said,

“Okay, Bring It! Deal!”

And the tigers of the sea feasted well that night.

The word deal had no more rolled off my tongue when he ran his cutlass through and I tumbled into the salty, sea, encircled by sharks, and staining the waves a crimson hue.

There was no hesitation in Larry LaFeet the Land-Pirate’s victory lunge. He didn’t wait for me to change my mind, deliberate on the question, or to scream for help. The sands of the hour-glass had run out.

His sword was like a flash of lightnin’:

“You got them shoes, on your feet, on Decatur Street, in New Orleans, in the State of Louisiana!”

As the word Louisiana came out of his mouth, he lunged to the ground with a squirt bottle in his left hand and a rag in the other, squeezed some white-ish looking foam on the toes of my boots and proceeded to ‘shine’ them with the cloth.

I was struck dumb and motionless, like some troll in a Tolkien tale, caught by the sudden onset of the sunrise and the spell of a wizard.

“FUCK!” I said, utterly flummoxed.

I had fallen victim to a simple play on words.

Because I had been taken by surprise, and kept off balance, and given too many yeses, I’d paid no attention to his choice of verb.

There are at least two definitions of the word, got.

One, is the past tense of ‘to get,’ to obtain something in other-words, and that’s the one Larry had implied in his initial challenge:

“I betcha I can tell you where you got them shoes.”

I knew precisely where I had obtained them: on Robert Street in West Saint Paul, and was supremely confident that there was no fuckin’ WAY that he could deduce all of that.

But what I should have done—and would have if I hadn’t be on the ropes the entire time—was to remember the other definition of got: to possess something, or to have something in your possession: i.e., I’ve got shoes on my feet.

“Damn!”

There I was, a writer, fuck, a best selling AUTHOR, standing in the dark, on Decatur Street, in the French Quarter of New Orleans, outwitted with words by a con-man land-pirate.

Fuck me.

I was out of my depth at that point. I had been taken by a simple play on words, something that I do to other people all the time. Hell, I do it almost every evening at the dinner table. I learned it from birth.

My dad is a pun artist. He lives by the pun. If there’s an obvious, cheesy pun lying on the table, he’s always gonna pick it up. Doesn’t matter if it’s a can of Cheez Wiz, or stinky bleu; Sam Bivans is always gonna pick it up and voice it out loud. He did it every single day of my childhood. He’s still doing it. And I learned the art from him, though mine are usually a fine cheese: like Irish Cheddar or Brie.

But there I was, on Decatur Street, out-punned, out-witted, and out-worded by Larry LaFeet the Land-Pirate, a boot buccaneer with maybe a high school education. Hell, he might not have even finished that!

Of course, he might be an out of work English professor as far as I know. He didn’t look like one, but I don’t actually look like someone with almost a PhD in history, either.

To Pay or Not To Pay?

I really wanted to squelch on that bet, since I had obviously been bamboozled.

But he had appealed to my pride, to my sense of humanity. I mean, he had kids at home, or at least he claimed to have them. Who fuckin’ knows if he actually had kids. But I’m quite certain that he was banking on the chance that I might.

Nothing plays on a parent’s emotions like the thought of kids going without in a hard world.

Kids or no, I tried to wiggle out of paying him for the shoe shine part of it, since I couldn’t really remember if I had agreed to that part or not. I can’t accurately convey the confusion he invoked in my mind. He sounded more like an auctioneer than anything else I could liken it to. It was machine-gun like. So, I tried to get out of half of the bet,

“I’ll give you twenty,” I said without conviction, “but not forty.”

“Nope, the deal was forty dollars, man. Everybody gotta feed their kids.”

If I had pushed it, he would have had little recourse, short of violence. But unless he had a gun on him, he was gonna lose that fight. I had 150 pounds on him, and if it came to that, he would see a different side of Steve Bivans….the Blackbeard side. I’m secretly a land-pirate, too.

But my pride and sense of fair-play–even if I felt I’d been hornswoggled–won out in the end. If I reneged on the bet, I would have had to relinquish all of that pride, and that wasn’t something I was willing to do.

After a second or two, I turned to Paysh—who was probably just as shocked as I was that I’d been bested in a game of words—and said,

“Give him the forty, bebe.”

I was defeated and confused.

I’m still trying to figure out how anyone could possibly con ME out of $40. And he tricked me with a play on words, a simple fuckin’ pun.

Got.

Unfuckinbelievable.

Epilogue

I somehow managed to survive the sharks in the water, though I was definitely limpin’ around on a stump, Captain Ahab style. I’ll be limpin’ for awhile, I reckon.Artillery Park New Orleans

Sans my pride, Paysh and I walked to the top of the hill to see Artillery Park, took selfies of ourselves with St. Loius Cathedral in the background, and then consoled ourselves with beignets at Cafe du Monde, which is a pretty good place to massage a bruised ego. Nothing a few donuts covered in mounds of sugar can’t cure.

At that point we realized that there were no more mule carriages carting tourist, pirate-bait around, so instead we opted for a bike taxi tour.

The funny thing is, that  the next day, on Friday, we were back in the Quarter, and no less than two times that day, I was approached by land-pirates with the same opening thrust,

“Hey man, I like your shoes!”

Ha! I think not.

“That only works the first time, man. Good try though!” and I kept walkin’.

So, if you’re ever on Decatur Street, in New Orleans, in the State of Louisiana, especially at night, keep an eye out for Larry LaFeet the Land-Pirate and his compatriots.

Then either leave your pride at home, or wear some ugly shoes.

If you enjoyed this one, check out my other Big Easy Adventures:

  1. The Big Easy: First 24

  2. A Pirate’s Revenge: An Evening at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar

  3. Cafe du Monde: Feed Your Powdery Addiction

Steve Bivans is a FearLess Life & Self-Publishing Coach, the author of the Amazon #1 Best Seller, The End of Fear Itself, and the epic-length, self-help, sustainability tome, Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth: the Guide to Sustainable Shire Living, If you want to learn how write and self-publish a book to best-seller status, crush your limitations and Fears, and disrupt the status quo, contact Steve for a free consultation to see how he can help you change the world! CONTACT STEVE

Punkin’ n Rocky: the Great Kitchen Chase

[The following is another excerpt from my upcoming book, The End of Fear Itself, and will probably be in the section on real Fear, i.e., the fight or flight kind. It’s been polished a bit, but I’m sure there will be additions, subtractions, and revisions to come before the final version. Enjoy.]

There was a disturbance in the kitchen.

There was a rustling sound, a hiss, then a cacophony of pots n pans spilling across the floor.

I was sitting at my desk, typing on my laptop, just as I am right now, one day last year, when I heard a crash in the kitchen. I had been writing for nearly an hour, I suppose, without incident, when the kitchen exploded.

You see, I’m a writer, obviously, and I work from home most of the time. We have a small house in St. Paul, on the West Side. It’s only about 11 or 1200 square feet in size. The downstairs consists of only three rooms: the living room at the front of the house, the kitchen in the middle, and my home office, at the back of the house, overlooking our deck and garden through a large sliding-glass door, which that morning was fully closed. This is an important fact, as you’ll soon see.

I was peacefully writing that morning, when all of a sudden, the kitchen erupted in a violence and a ruckus unlike I had ever heard.

“What the fuck!?” I yelled.

I hate being interrupted when I’m writing. It’s hard enough to get into the dance with the Muse, as it is, and when that dance is interrupted, it’s really hard to get back into it. The Muse doesn’t like to be troubled with shit from the sidelines. She really loves to dance, but brooks no distractions.

And the clashing and banging from the kitchen was more than a distraction; it was like dropping a bomb on the dance floor.

I lost concentration for a second, let loose my curses, then realizing that it was probably just the Viking Pirate Kitties—Punkin’ and her troublesome, aloof sister, Squish—I turned back to the task at hand: writing, with the thought that I’d deal with the clean up when I was finished.

I knew the sound well enough, I thought, even though the one that morning seemed a bit pronounced compared to times past.

In the kitchen, under one of the windows, there is a radiator, that supplies ample heat to the room in the Long Dark that is our Minnesota Winters. Over the radiator is a metal cart with a butcher-block top that we use to support the toaster, baskets of bread, usually a cookie jar, and various other sundry that collects on a kitchen counter.

It was spring or summer when this incident occurred, so the windows were open to let the fresh air waft through the house. They were protected by screens, to keep the Skeeters—that’s mosquitoes, for those of you not from the South—from wafting through the house along with the breeze.

As I said, in that first second of disturbance, I cursed, then directed my attention back to the keyboard and the masterpiece I was working on at the moment. The cats were always screwing around on the radiator, and just below it, on the front edge of the cart, was a wire shelf, a narrow one, on which sat a small sauce pot with lid, that Paysh used to make popcorn.

There are also a couple of cast iron bacon presses next to it. It was customary for the Pirates to jump down off the radiator and knock all of that shit right into the floor, and that’s what I surmised had happened on the morning in question.

I was wrong. Partly.

Something much more intense and deadly was at work: a life and death struggle, and shitloads of Fear.

Just as I turned my attention back to my writing, a second or two after being interrupted, something smashed into the sliding glass door to my left, and slightly behind me, over my left shoulder.

BAM!

I jerked around in my office chair, banging my right knee on the desk in the process—which occasioned a string of profane curses only heard on board Naval and Fishing Vessels around the world—only to see the blur of a grey fur, and a long bushy tail as it rebounded off the glass, to be met by a blur of ginger fur, and slashing claws, and hissing teeth.

There was a squirrel in my house!

There was a little grey squirrel loose in my house, and he was in full flight mode. This was real Fear, my friend, not the bullshit, projected Fear that most of us feel when we need to ask for a raise, or think our spouse is upset with us. Hell no, this was life and death Fear and Rocky the Squirrel had quickly abandoned the fight response for the opposite one, ‘run like fuckin’ hell!’

And run he did.

Right behind him, catching up to him as he bounced off the rear door, was Punkin’, the runt of her litter, half the size of her sister, but fast as lightning, and with claws and teeth sharp as razors. She has drawn more than a few pints of life blood from the humans in the household, and that was only while playing. She wasn’t’ playin’ with Rocky. She had one thought in mind: KILL HIM!

And she was on him like ugly on an ape.

It was in that moment—when I realized what was going on, only a second or two after the clash in the kitchen, and at the moment the Rocky rebounded off the glass door behind me—that things really sped up.

The rest of the incident that I’m getting ready to relate to you, took no more than 6 or 7 seconds in real time, 10 at the very most, but I would bet on less than 6. It was a blur of action like I’ve never seen in my life, and I’ve seen a lot of action.

As I leaped from my chair, knee screaming in pain from jamming under the desk, I let loose another curse, “What the FUCK!? There’s a squirrel in my house!”

By the time I had said this, Punkin’ had leaped onto his back, clawed him, bit him, he shook free, and they were off! back out of the office, into the kitchen. I ran, limping after, thinking, “I have to get a door open, let out the squirrel, but not Punkin’! How the fuck am I going to pull THAT off!?”

As I ran into the kitchen, I saw Rocky launch up over our sofa in the living room, and half the way up the blinds on the front window, with Punkin just behind, hissing and slashing with her deadly claws. She was really into this, man. I thought ole Rocky was done for, and for only a split second, wondered where Squish was, and her dog, Bubble. “They must be asleep, I quickly reasoned, or they would be down here in middle of this, and Rocky would be fucked.”

Before I could finish thinking all of that—which simultaneously occurred as I was reaching to open the front door–Rocky gave into Newton’s Law of Gravity, and came back down the window, bounced off of the side table next to the sofa, and kicked into turbo drive on his way back towards my office with the world’s fastest lioness on his tail, blood in her eyes.

It was then that an idea flashed into my head, and it was a good thing, for Rocky anyway.

Before I could fully formulate my plan, I yelled at Punkin’, “PUNKIN’! STOP!”

And luckily, for Rocky, Punkin’ responded to her daddy’s voice.

Punkin' sucking her tail...

Punkin’ sucking her tail…

You have to realize that Punkin’ is the cute, sweet Viking Pirate Kitty. When she’s not chasing squirrels, or mice, trying to disembowel them and rip off their heads to leave as trophies at the foot of mommy’s bed, she’s usually curled up in a ball, sucking on the end of her tail like a baby, binki. It is simply the cutest thing in the history of cuteness.

But when she’s on the hunt, forget about it. She’s deadly, and relentless. But she does love daddy, even if she doesn’t really listen to commands. She’s a cat, after all, far superior to the so-called, advanced species of monkey that humans think themselves.

But the force of my command caused her to pause, for just a second, which was long enough for me to reach the French door to my office, and slam it shut, just as Rocky careened into the sliding glass door at the back of the house, again.

I stopped. Sucked in some air, and looked back at Punkin’ who was staring up at me, not a little irritated and hurt that I had interrupted her hunt. Her blood was up, and she was not happy that I had intervened on behalf of her prey. Maybe for a second, she thought that I might be trying to assist her.

A part of me wouldn’t have minded if she had killed the squirrel, though I have no animosities towards the species. I don’t want them in my house. Once the wild get in, they’re fair game for the Viking Pirates.

But I had no relish for the aftermath of such a hunt. The entire house might collapse into dust, like 10,000 Jerichos, from such a chase, especially if Squish and Bubble were awakened to join in. God only knows the damage they would have inflicted in the pursuit of little Rocky. Luckily, I had contained the problem, and the damage. But Rocky was still in my office, with no way out.

I took a few steps towards Punkin’ to ensure that she retreated a bit, and then I opened the office door, and plunged in, closing myself in the room with Rocky, who was probably pissing himself, metaphorically, if not literally.

He was all over the place, knocking books off shelves, jumping up on chairs, and trying to get out of a door that wasn’t budging.

I raced to the back door, unlocked it, slung it open, and managed to the get the screen door open just in time to avoid Rocky blasting right through it. He was off, and free, to race across the backyard.

I’m certain he didn’t stop runnin’ till he reached the rocky shores of Washington State.

Somewhere out there, in the misty forests of the Great Northwest, there’s a squirrel named Rocky, with an eye patch, and some nasty scars, sitting at a squirrel bar, drinking nutty squirrel ales, spinning the harrowing tale of the day he broke into a monkey house, only to be confronted with a vicious, enormous lioness, who he only just managed to escape thanks to the philanthropic aid of a large, ape, in shorts and Birkenstocks.

How did he get in in the first place?

Once the excitement of the chase had subsided, I asked myself the same question. And since the chase seemed to have begun near the radiator, in the kitchen, that’s where I focused my Sherlockian powers. And there, in the corner of the window screen, was a hole, no more than 2 or 3 inches in diameter, that Rocky had managed to rip open.

If only he’d known ahead of time what was on the other side, he’d have saved himself a lot of Fear, and a very long run to Seattle.

Steve Bivans is a FearLess Life & Self-Publishing Coach, the author of the Amazon #1 Best Seller, The End of Fear Itself, and the epic-length, self-help, sustainability tome, Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth: the Guide to Sustainable Shire Living, If you want to learn how write and self-publish a book to best-seller status, crush your limitations and Fears, and disrupt the status quo, contact Steve for a free consultation to see how he can help you change the world! CONTACT STEVE

215 Yds with a Lady & an Antique Putter: Golf is Life, pt 4

[This is part 4 of the Life is Golf series, in which I attempt to impart words of wisdom from the links. It is also part 8 of the Tick Tock Series. All things blend into one…]

I once hit a 215 yard drive.

Big fuckin’ deal,” you say.

And I finish by saying, “…with an antique putter.”

And you say, “Oh!”

It’s the truth. When I was a teenager, probably about 17 years old, I was out playing golf with my dad and my brother, Dave, at our home course, Shamrock Golf Course, in Burlington, NC.

I was not having a good round, either. I was in every pond, hit every fuckin’ tree on the course, and missed every putt. Not really, but that’s the way it feels when you’re on a golf course, things aren’t going your way, and you’ve  been sucked into a whirlpool of piss. Remember those? Yeah, I was swimming in whirlpools at 17. Nothing like learning your trade early.

So the game wasn’t going very well, to put it mildly.

I had just triple or quadruple bogeyed hole 14 or so, and the ole blender was spinning on liquefy, without a top to keep in all the dog shit n crackers, so it was slinging all over the course, hitting people in the face and generally stinking up the place, when I came to a brilliant conclusion.

My Antique Putter

I say brilliant with a large dose of sarcasm, mind ya. Because nothing truly brilliant slings out of a Waring Blender that’s full of canine excrement and feline pee.

I came to the conclusion, after much logical deliberation, and inward contemplation, probably some un-bendy meditation, that I could do no worse on the last 4 holes, if I just played every single, fucking shot, with my putter.

I stated such to my father and brother, who laughed, cautiously mind you, because I was not in a good mood, so they were afraid to push the button on the blender too much, but couldn’t hold their mirth inward completely. I don’t think they actually believed I would do it, or at least for a second they didn’t–though they should have known better, and probably did. When I make up my mind to do something, especially enough to state it out loud, emphatically, just get the hell out of the way.

It’s best. Trust me.

My dad, the saint that he is, tried one last ditch effort to pull the plug on the blender, “Son, it’s just a game. Just try to have fun with it.”

“If it’s just a game, then it doesn’t matter what club I use, does it?” I shot back with daggers: at least four or five very sharp ones.

The next hole was a par 3.

shamrock1795555_264228873768643_8304650894705632787_n

“Easy peasy,” you say.

Yeah, not this par 3. It was one of those uphill par 3s, steeply uphill, so much so, that if you didn’t manage to get the ball to the green, or over it on the backside, or lodged in the green-side bunker, then your ball was gonna roll all the fuckin’ way back down the hill, almost to the tee.

I hated that fuckin’ hole.

But I was determined at this point, to play it out, with my putter.antique putter

Now, luckily, my putter was an old antique one, more like an old fashioned 1 iron, than a modern putter. It actually had grooves across the face, and just the slightest hint of loft to it. Not enough to see, really, but it was there.

I teed up my ball, swung, made contact, and the ball rolled up hill, almost to the top.

There it sat, four or five feet from the edge of the green, for several seconds, or an eon, until it quivered, every so slightly. I’m not sure if it was the wind, or if Satan himself was lying on the dancefloor of the 15th green, gently blowing sulfurous breath across my ball, but the ball began to move, and not toward the green, either, but every so slowly backward, like the trickle of a raindrop forming on a cold window, gaining more and more condensation, and weight, until it can no longer hold surface tension, and breaks free, like a tiny stream, then a creek, then a mighty flowing river, like the Mississippi, roaring to the sea. Yeah, that’s what it was like.

My ball began to roll, faster and faster, back down the hill, straight to the bottom.

I’m pretty sure that my father, and more than sure that my brother, both gained some sense of satisfaction from this. Hell, I would have. There’s nothing quite as ego-boosting, as being right, after all.

But I was undeterred. My blender was on gasify at this point, if there is such a thing. The dog shit n crackers had certainly passed by liquid stage a couple of holes back, and was now wafting around the course like a cloud of green, methane. I’m sure that someone should have called in a toxic waste disposal team, but no one did.

Instead, I just stomped up to my ball, putter in hand, set my feet, and swung away!

Up the hill it went, like Jack and his girlfriend, and down it came it again, crown broken, and tumbling pail, sans water.

I repeated this two or three times, I think. I don’t really remember now, but it was comical in the extreme, if you weren’t me, that is.

But I didn’t start this story to talk about the Jack n Jill par 3. I came to talk about The Drive.

The Drive

We finally arrived at the final tee: hole 18, which was a par 4, dog-leg right.

When I say dog-leg, I mean it took almost a 90 degree turn to the right, about 180 yards out from the tee.

In the middle of that bend, to the right, and guarding against any attempt to take a short cut to the green, was a very large forest of Southern White Pine trees. To the right of those, behind them, was the end of the driving range, which was enclosed in a large net in an attempt to stop balls from escaping the range and rolling into the trees.

It did neither.

The entire forest area was littered with hundreds, if not thousands, of golf balls with the red stripe painted around them to distinguish them from all the hundreds of golfer’s balls that had managed to find their way into the forest, only to be eaten by wolves, witches, lions, tigers, and bears.

Not a few of my balls had come to rest in that dark forest in the past. It was like a magnet, that silvan hell. I had a tendency to slice my drives, and the forest had a tendency to suck them in, and swallow them whole.

It wasn’t that the trees were difficult to walk through, so in theory at least, you could go look for your ball, and find it, but thanks to all the range balls, and other hapless spheres that other luckless golfers had added to them, searching for one particular ball, was in fact like digging for the proverbial needle in a stack of needles. Best to just lay a ball out in the rough, take your penalty, and move on.

So, I stood there, putter in hand, ready to smack the shit out of my ball and drive it into oblivion, when my father, kindly saint that he is, decided to try one more time to extricate his prodigal son from the whirlpool.

“Son, why don’t you try the driver?”

This only got him the stare.

Now, I realize that most of you haven’t seen the stare. Count yourself lucky.

I inherited the stare from my mother, and it basically means, “STAND BACK! DO NOT SPEAK! DO NOT ATTEMPT TO INTERVENE! THIS IS VERY DANGEROUS TERRITORY!”

I say I got it from my mom, but actually, my father is pretty good at the stare, too. In fact, he might be better at it, but it takes a lot of doin’ to get my dad to exhibit the stare. If you can get him to that place, it ain’t good. You’ve really screwed up at that point, and it’s best just to run like hell in the other direction. Not that he was violent or anything, but the punishment comin’ to you wasn’t something you wanted, especially if he decided to give you a talkin’ to. Those were the worst.

But I digress.

I gave my father the stare, he quickly zipped lip, stepped back, got the hell out of the way, and I yanked the putter into the back-swing, whipped it down at the ball, made perfect contact, and the little white sphere launched upward, and outward: not for the fairway–a place with which I had only the vaguest acquaintance–but for the forest, my second home.

At this point, I was beyond pissed off. You know that point when you have decided that your whirlpool of piss is starting to taste and smell normal?

I just grunted, walked back to my bag, and rammed the putter back into it, and waited for my dad and brother to drive. Dave ended up in the woods, as well. So we both headed that way to look for our balls. Dave didn’t find his, quickly gave up the search, left me standing outside a sinister gingerbread house, and went up around the bend of the dog-leg to drop a new ball.

I was determined to find my ball, so I could smack it out of the woods, pinball style no doubt, with my trusty putter. But I couldn’t find it among all the bloody, red striped range balls.

I was just giving up hope for finding it and resigning myself to a life of gingerbread and witches brews, when Dave yelled down to me from the fairway, around the bend of the forest:

“THERE’S A BALL UP HERE!”

“What is it?” I yelled back.

“A LADY TITLEIST!”lady titleist

“No way!” I told him. I thought he was just fuckin’ with me at this point. He knew I had been playing that ball, and yeah, I know, it was a lady’s ball.

“I’LL EAT MY HAT IF IT ISN’T!” Dave yelled back at me.

And I’ll be damned if it wasn’t.

There, in the middle of the fairway, 40 yards from the hole, was my Lady Titleist. How it threaded that entire patch of Southern White Pines, I’ll never know. It was an impossible feat, but there it was, right where it should never have been: couldn’t have been.

We subtracted the 40 yards from the total length of the hole, and I took credit for a 215 yard drive, with a antique putter.

And the Moral of the Story Is…

I’m not exactly sure what the lesson is in this story, but I’m gonna try to extract one, so hang on to your pails of water.

If you focus too much on the goal of the game, whether that be golf or life, or whatever game you want to play, then you lose sight of what really matters: the game itself, the shot before you, the moment and place where you are: the NOW.

Somewhere in that game, that day so long ago, I found the shot, even in the midst of my frustration and anger, and I’m not sure how that happened. I think that at some point, determination, however it is fueled–and in my case it was fueled by rage and fury–can inadvertently pull us into the present moment. The emotion of anger, in that fraction of time, focused my attention on the ball, on driving it to its destination, on the other side of that forest of pines. I simply willed it through.

The fact that I was able to do it, broke my anger and frustration and replaced them with astonishment and humor. As I stared down at my Lady Titleist, all I could do was laugh, and my father and brother joined me.

After a minute or two of full-on guffawing. I pulled out my putter and approached the Lady.

My father, once more, tried to dissuade me, figuring that if I had finally managed to hit a good shot, even a great one, that I shouldn’t ruin it by messing up the rest of the hole.

I gave him a stare, but one with a smile, and said,

“This putter got me here, and this putter’s gonna take me home!”

I think I bogeyed that hole, but it was the best bogey I ever scored.13238984_474197749438420_4808396043425231599_n

Sometimes, I think, if you’re in a whirlpool that’s particularly strong, and you can’t seem to stop it, just give into it. Ride it like some tornadic, tidal wave, all the way to the beach. Drive that thing right through the forest, past the witches, the lions, the tigers, the bears, Jack n Jill, and Hansel n Gretel, until you come out the other side. Don’t pass Go and don’t stop for gingerbread.

I think it’s the resistance to our bad days, our whirlpools, that makes them stronger. Maybe if we just acknowledge them, and sometimes even give into them, we can find our way out?

On days like that, just grip your putter and swing away my friend.

Also read, The Most Important Club in the Bag, Life is Golf, pt 3, & Bud-nippin’ n Dog Shit, Sans Crackers, Sans Blender: pt VII of the Tick Tock Series

Steve Bivans is a FearLess Life & Self-Publishing Coach, the author of the Amazon #1 Best Seller, The End of Fear Itself, and the epic-length, self-help, sustainability tome, Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth: the Guide to Sustainable Shire Living, If you want to learn how write and self-publish a book to best-seller status, crush your limitations and Fears, and disrupt the status quo, contact Steve for a free consultation to see how he can help you change the world! CONTACT STEVE

How I Write #7, First Draft: Storytelling, Monkey-brains, and Cousin Eddie

[The following is episode 7 in my How I Write Series, and an example of a very first draft, with absolutely no editing, spellchecking, or grammar check. Actually, it’s one of my better typing examples, lol. As I read through it just now, I was like, “Damn! That was better than usual!” To put the piece in context, it’s part of a chapter from my upcoming book, The End of Fear Itself, which will be released to the public on September 22nd. I give it to you, my lovely readers, in its raw form, to show you, as Hemingway once said, “There are no great writers, only great rewriters.” I think I will return to this once I have cleaned it up, to show you the before and after. This is also, Day 17 of the Year Long Daily Blog experiment, if you’re keeping count. I have given you the audio recording below, if you want to listen. Enjoy!]

 

Our minds tell us stories all day long, and even when we’re asleep. We are essentially storytelling monkeys, with less hair. Well, some of you have less hair; I’m pretty hairy. I hate bananas, though. Just in case you were wondering if I was going to swing down out of a tree or something.
As mentioned earlier, we developed the ability to tell stories so long ago in our evolution, that the origin is lost to us. first draft monkeyThis was probably a monkey-brain development, when we started to distinguish a Past, from the Present. With that ability to remember past events, and dangers, our ancestors were able to construct mental—if not verbal—stories about those events, and bring them to mind when confronted with similar situations in the Present. This helped them to avoid dangers, like King Cobras, lions, tigers, and bears, not to mention stampeding wildebeests. And if you’ve ever been run over by a bunch of pissed off wildebeests, you know it’s something to avoid. Our ape ancestor—let’s call him Clark—probably sat in a tree, a coupld million years ago, saw a not-yet-stampeding herd of beests-of-the-wilde and rememered the story he had constructed in his mind of when cousin Eddie—not the one from Christmas Vacation standing in his bathrobe emptying his camper toilet into the storm drain while smoking a cigar, but just a monkey version of the same guy, well, a more monkeyesque version anyway—was messing around on the savanna one day when he inadvertantly, accidentally mind you, kicked a wildebeest in the scrotum, for fun—because that’s what cousin Eddie type, monkey ancestors woud do—and occasioned the entire herd to run rampant, leaving Eddie lying in a pile of bones, blood, and wildebeest shit. This simple, if amusing monkey story, kept Clark alive, and that’s aweomse for us, because he’s our grandfather, maybe the great, great, great grandfather of Adam, and Eve! He passed down that storytelling ability to us, and now we can avoid being stampeded by wild beasts on the savana, and sneak out the back when Cousin Eddie arrives, uninvited, for Christmas dinner.
It’s a handy tool to have, storytelling. But we can also rewrite our stories!
Yep, that’s what I said, rewrite them. And that includes the stories we tell about our fears, and doubts, and past failures and insecurities. We can, instead of seeing them as finished stories complete with THE END at the the so-called end of them—turn them into serials, continuing sagas, epics even! Why end the story when we’re still alive? Ive always thought that the whole ‘the lived happily ever after’ was bullshit anyway, not to mention, boring. Do you leap for joy when your favorite television show finally comes to an end? Fuck no. I don’t. I want it to keep going. I hated the crap out of it when I got the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for instance, or the abrupt end of the first season of Firefly. I hate that shit.
And I hate it even worse when the ending IS happy. If yuou’re going to end my favorite show, kill everyone! I mean, go all Billy Shakespeare on the entire cast! Let’s have a Hamlet-esque ending! Burn it all down! Or, keep the story going.
Our story is still going; it has not ended. In fact, there’s only one story in all of the history of the Universe: the Big Bang. It’s still going on. We’re part of it, and so is our personal story. So, let’s rewrite our stories to give them more positive direction, not endings. Instead of saying, “I’m a failure” for instance, let’s say, “I failed to accomplish that thing, but I really want to succeed at it, so that was just an experience of failing, and I learned that the way I did it doesn’t work! Cool. Let’s try something else. Kind of like Edison and his lightbulbs.”
Or, “That didn’t work out. Maybe I’ll let that be, and do something entirely different, taking the lessons from that previous experience with me.” That’s an entirely different story, a continuing one, unlike the pathetic, crappy, “I’m a failure,” where we turned ourselves into a victim, and a noun, to boot. Let’s not OWN failure, pain, or Fear. We don’t own them, and let’s not let them own us. Instead, think of failing, feeling pain, and fearing, and realize that they are transient experiences, not good, not bad, just experiences, part of the fuckin’ story, and let’s reframe the entire story of our lives, as heroic, courageous, epics like the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, or Rocky. In fact, cue up the theme to Rocky and try to feel like a failure. It ain’t gonna happen, especially if you’ve ever seen the movie. It’s gonna pick you up and make you feel like you can kick Fear’s ass.

 

Steve Bivans is a FearLess Life & Self-Publishing Coach, the author of the Amazon #1 Best Seller, The End of Fear Itself, and the epic-length, self-help, sustainability tome, Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth: the Guide to Sustainable Shire Living, If you want to learn how write and self-publish a book to best-seller status, crush your limitations and Fears, and disrupt the status quo, contact Steve for a free consultation to see how he can help you change the world! CONTACT STEVE

Darth Vader and the Return of the Balrog Blender: Part VI of the Tick Tock Series

The tick tocking stopped.

I’m not sure exactly when that happened. At some point, in the last year, the Warring Blender of dog shit and crackers, the sucking whirlpool of piss that was my brain, began to slow down, and then, mostly stopped altogether.

[If you’d like to listen to me read this, click below]

 

That doesn’t mean that I never get negative thoughts, or that they never spin out of control. But now, I am AWARE of the process when it begins, even if I haven’t been able to stop it. But for the first time, ever, one night this January, I was not only aware of the whirlpool, I managed to slow it down, stop it, and then—the most amazing thing—turn it around 180 degrees to create a positive mindset.

And here’s what happened.

I had just had a conversation with Paysh, lying there in bed, about the fact that my brain-spin had really subsided lately, and that I was generally a much happier person.

And then things went South, or North—whichever place really sucks.

It’s funny, that just when you think you’ve turned some corner, a Balrog, or demon from the ancient world as it were, is there to meet you. Almost as soon as the words “don’t suffer from brain-spin anymore” left my lips, and I closed my eyes to go to sleep, BAM!, there I was on the Bridge of Kazad-Dum (for you Hobbit-Tolkien geeks), (or for those who aren’t,) the Abyss, all over again.

I was asleep for about an hour, when I decided to turn over, toward Paysh. That’s when I slipped into the chasm, and it started with a hissing sound. That would be the hose on my cpap machine, or as I call it…

My Darth Vader Maskdarth vader mask

I suffer from sleep apnea, a condition that—without the machine, which forces air down my throat to keep it from closing off—would kill me, one way or another. I’d either drive my car over a real chasm, bridge, or into the path of a speeding Balrog in the form of a semi-truck after falling asleep at an inappropriate moment, or, I’d blow my own brains out from the lack of real sleep. I came close to that 8 years ago right before I was officially diagnosed with the condition.

Anyway, I rolled over in the bed and the air hose on my Vader mask slid off of the mask housing-tube-thingy. This was the source of the hissing sound.

Normally, it wouldn’t bother me that much, except for the fact that it’s been doing it a lot lately. So much so that I had begun taping the hose to the mask using black electrical tape, which really didn’t work worth a fuck. Hence, the hissing that night.

So, I pulled my mask off, pushed the off button on the machine, uttered several incantations that sounded more like the banter on a pirate ship, “Fuck, #$%^&*()!,” which woke up Paysh, to inquire of my sanity and well-being. To which I uttered more curses and incantations, not so much at her, but because she had been woken up at all.

That’s when the whirlpool began to spin…

At this point, I probably could have stepped in to minimize the spin, and maybe reverse it, which is in and of itself, an amazing feat. But that night, I was unable to stop it. My frustration and anger was only just beginning.

I got out of bed, naked, with the mask in hand, and proceeded to dodge Bubble (our lab-chow mix)—who has taken to sleeping at my side on the floor, so that I have to employ my Spiderman eyesight when I step out of bed in the morning dark, in order not to step on her, which would lead to even more spinning because then she would want to go O.U.T. to pee and poop—and it’s January, in Minnesota, nuff said. That’s Duke’s job, and he can fuckin’ have it. That doesn’t mean I never do it, just that I avoid it like the Bubonic Plague, much like my brain-spin.

I miraculously managed not to step on Bubble, stumbled and swayed to the door, managed to get it open without pulling the antique door handle off of our side (something I failed to do the preceding morning). That would have ensured a whole string of F-bombs, curses, and the sucking, ammonia-smelling, spinning, mass of bodily fluid. But the handle stood firm, this time.

The door squeaked, but I knew that was gonna happen, though it did elicit a short, whispered ‘bomb’ of the F variety.

I then quietly made the three steps across the tiny upstairs hallway to the bathroom. I turned on the light, which in itself pissed me off.

Things were going really badly.

I could feel the centripetal force of the spin, as I looked at the mask, and the tightly wound electrical tape which was supposed to have secured the hose. The tape looked just fine, except there was no hose attached. That, of course, was the fuckin’ problem. So I began to try to unravel the rubbery substance from the hose-housing that protrudes from the nose-area of the mask.

As you may know, if you’ve ever employed electrical tape, it isn’t the stickiest of tapes, but once the ‘free’ end has been slicked down, it’s nearly impossible to find that end to unravel it, and that morning, in my spinning mental chaos, it wasn’t happenin’. I could not find the end of the tape, to get it off.

Then, the alarm went off…

Nope, not my alarm clock; I don’t own one. Who the fuck needs an alarm clock when you have dog shit and crackers spinning around in your brain every night? No, the alarm was outside, somewhere. Actually, I knew exactly where it was. There are some neighbors, around the corner, who must revel in ‘accidentally’ setting off their fucking car alarm, all, the fuckin’, TIME! Actually, this hadn’t happened for possibly months, until that night. I’m so lucky.

So, there I was, trying to get tape off of the Vader mask, cursing to high heaven and all the demons of the ancient world, when the alarm started honking into the winter night. Sound really fuckin carries in January, in Minnesota. And that’s when things really started to suck, downward. I couldn’t get the fuckin’ tape off. So, I reached in the cabinet and pulled out the scissors. Cussing up a storm now, I fairly quickly snipped the tape off, car horn honking through the dark, frigid air, me swearing.

Then it stopped.

Not the whirlpool of piss. Hell no. The car alarm shut off, finally. And I tossed the mask on top of the toilet paper/fine literature basket. It’s not really that fine, the literature. Mostly it’s just a couple of Southern Living Magazines that my mom gives to Paysh every Christmas—which she enjoys, thank you mom—and two volumes of the Sabine and Griffin series of books, which I’ve never read (I have a penis, and testosterone to go with it). But for the moment, they served as a resting place—if not final—for my Darth Vader mask, while I steamed, fumed, and uttered more curses, and tried to figure out how to remedy the situation so I could go back to sleep. It was only about 11:30. Too early even for ME to be up for good.

I stood there, naked, in my bathroom, breathing smoke, if not fire. The Balrog had nearly taken over at this point. So I rode the smoke back into the bedroom, yanked the hose off the back of the machine, fumbled around in the bedside table drawer for the tape, and fumed back into the bathroom to ‘fix’ the damned thing. I was feeling reeeeaaally Un-Zen at that moment, to be sure.

There was also, no Mr. Dao present, either, I assure you. Those two calm, composed gentlemen had ‘left the building.’ All that was left was a smokin’, cussin’, Balrog Blender, whirlpool of urine. Boy, this felt really familiar, and not in a good way.

So, I re-taped the hose, attached it to the housing, which then decided to pop loose from the mask altogether.

That was awesome. Really fuckin’ awesome. Do you live in outer Mongolia? Did you hear a really loud sucking sound, one night this Janurary, at about whatevertimeitisinfuckinouterMongoliawhenit’s11:30pminStPaul? Yep. That was my brain. Sorry if I woke up your horse, cattle, goats, and upset the equilibrium in your yurt. I owe you a skull full of fermented, horse-milk next time I’m visiting.

So, I’m standing there, naked still, remember. Sorry if that’s a disturbing thought. And if you’ve ever seen me naked—and I realize that’s a small percentage of you—then you know just HOW disturbing that can be. There I stood, smoke pouring out of my ears, nostrils, and other orifices, holding the hose and housing in my left hand, and the Vader mask in the other, because they decided to part ways, just as I thought I had mended the breech.

I almost opened the bathroom window at this point, and launched it all out onto the driveway. I’m sure, that if I had, it would have bounced across into Bubble’s Bathroom—which resides on the other side—and landed on top of a frozen pile of ACTUAL dog shit, sans crackers. But, I did not open the window and toss.

I not-so-calmly, managed to pop the housing back into the mask, under a slew of further curses.

That’s, when Paysh woke up.

Great! I was really happy then. Now I’ve managed to wake her up, and Bubble is soon to follow. She carefully crept up to the outside of the door—it’s best to be careful when approaching Balrogs and demons—and whispered,

“Bebe, are you okay?”

To which I responded, “Fuck no! I’m trying to fix this damned, #$%^&*()__)(*&^%$#@#$%^&*()(*&^%$# mask!”

At this point, I had mostly accomplished it, but was so pissed off that sleep wasn’t going to happen. The Balrog Blender was officially on liquify.

I opened the door, apologized, gruffly for waking her up, and then stomped back into the bedroom, reattached the mask, while slinging dark, voodooian curses in the direction of the engineer who designed my mask.

I’m pretty sure he lives on a Death Star somewhere in a galaxy far, far, away.hqdefault

Not the first Death Star, because Luke destroyed that one by flying down the trench, after having figured out how to bring down the force-field, OR the second one, which was also destroyed by Luke by flying down a trench, after Han and Leia figured out how to bring down the shields, OR the third Death Planet (totally different thing) which some Luke-like dudes destroyed, by flying down a trench, and lobbing lazer thingys down a hatch, after Han, what’shername, and the escaped, reformed, Stormtrooper, brought down the shields and Han died, facing his son/Vader/Balrog, and was tossed into the abyss of KazadDum, or where ever it was.

Sorry, I digress. That was my micro-critique of the new sans-Lucas sequel. Not sure how we got there, oh yeah, the Vader Mask…

So, Paysh went back to bed. I grabbed a robe, so as not to frighten everyone in the neighborhood, and stormtroopered myself downstairs, to try to regain control of the sucking whirlpool of piss.

Sucking Whirlpool Self Awareness

As usual, I wasn’t having much luck. The piss kept swirling, and my temperature was rising. The only difference, this time, for some reason, was that a tiny part of me—a very fucking microscopic part of me, to be sure—was aware that this was just a whirlpool of the piss variety. And that, was all the difference needed.

I slumped down in my favorite chair, in my home office; threw my right leg over the arm, and sat there, fuming. I was soooo fuckin’ pissed off at this point. But that tiny part of me—a part that has never really existed until recently—was whispering,

“This is just a sucking whirlpool of pisssss; it’s not real; it’s just dog shit and crackerssss.”

And then, slowly, my conscious mind began to listen, and respond.

“Yeah, this is only a bunch of negative bullshit! This isn’t real.”

That was just enough conscious thought to slow the downward spiral to the land of sewage. And once it began to slow down, it was easier to stop. Within a few minutes, the sucking spiral of urine had stopped.

Don’t get me wrong, or take that too far, mind ya. I was still in a really shitty mindset, somewhere at the bottom of the toilet bowl, you know, in that narrow tunnel at the bottom, where all the crap sticks to the sides and always seems just too tight for some, special loads to pass, kind of like the Bridge of Kazhad Dum, in the Land of Plumberoom, or something. Well, that’s where I was, sitting, slumped in my overstuffed chair, sprawled out, all but naked in my robe, steam coming off of my head. But at least the downward pull had stopped.

The question was what to do next.

“How can I pull myself up out of this toilet bowl?” I thought. “What will work, that has never worked, or not been tried?”

Then I remembered my lessons from the Happier App. And for that, you’ll have to wait for Part 2 of this article, which is like part twenty, or something of the Tick Tock series.

[This was day 12 of my Year Long, Daily Blog experiment]

Read Pt VII, Bud-Nippin & Dog Shit, Sans Crackers, Sans Blender

 

Steve Bivans is a FearLess Life & Self-Publishing Coach, the author of the Amazon #1 Best Seller, The End of Fear Itself, and the epic-length, self-help, sustainability tome, Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth: the Guide to Sustainable Shire Living, If you want to learn how write and self-publish a book to best-seller status, crush your limitations and Fears, and disrupt the status quo, contact Steve for a free consultation to see how he can help you change the world! CONTACT STEVE

Seeking Zen for the Unbendy & The Dao of Dishes: Part V of the Tick Tock Series

Day 8 of the Year Long Blog

[If you want to listen to this article, click below]

Meditation has always been a challenge for me.

Okay, I suck at it. This is mostly because I’m very unbendy, meaning that I don’t bend, at all. I’m like an I-beam with legs, walkin’ through life. Or like Treebeard from the Lord of the Rings, who slept standing up. That’s me; I’m fuckin’ I-beam-Treebeard.

Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but only just. I’ve never really been able to sit in the traditional lotus position, like you see the big, fat buddhas do.

Hell no! Not Steve Bivans. I don’t think I could do that shit even when I was 2 years old! I’m pretty sure I never sucked on my toes, for instance, which is pretty fuckin’ disgusting anyway, and not a childhood memory I really want to dredge up, even if it happened, especially if it did. If you’ve ever seen my toes, you’d know why.

And that brings me to another question, “How do those old fat guys get into that position to begin with?” I mean, I’m fat, and old! Maybe it’s just my genetic makeup, I reckon. Doomed by DNA to a life of Unbendy-ness.

No, I don’t bend. But I’m still seeking Zen for the Unbendy.

zen for the unbendy, dao of dishes

Want this shirt? Go to T-shirts: Bivansian Badassery!

And I think I’ve found it!

Not that I’m all enlightened, and Zen. I’m no fuckin’ Zen Master, that’s for sure. Is there such a thing as a Zen NOVICE? Like the yellow belt in Karate Kid? Maybe that’s what I am: a yellow belt, Zen Novice. Wax on, Wax the fuck off. No, I’m not the master, not yet anyway, but I have found the path to the sound of one hand clapping, I hope.

As you may know, if you’ve been reading along on this series of Tick Tocking, I’ve struggled with meditation for many years. I know I should do it, but I really suck at it, or sucked, I should say. Now, I’m beginning to ‘get it’ if that’s possible.

Enter Alan Watts and Eckhart Tolle.

I talked a bit, last time, about Watts and his use of Daoism and Zen to interpret Western science, religion and philosophy, and how that helped to slow down my Waring blender of dog shit n crackers. Now it’s more like cat shit n crumbs, or maybe even rat shit n rice. How’s THAT for some alliteration to put in yer coffee?

Watts also helped to demystify meditation for me, as well. He often mentions in his lectures, which you can find on YouTube, that people would come to him to ask him ‘how to meditate.’

He would promptly ask them,

“Why do you want to meditate?”

“Because I want to attain enlightenment!”

“Who is this ‘I’ that you speak of?”

And you can guess where THAT went.

Watts often said that he would never tell a student or follower how to meditate, because they’d go off and start a ‘school’ of that particular form of meditation and call it the Watts method, or something absurd like that. He was fond of quoting another Zen master who said something to the effect, that “If you can’t meditate while standing on a busy, city street corner, then you don’t understand meditation.”
This resonated with me, somewhat, but it was while listening to Eckhart Tolle, one day, that I realized exactly what this meant.

Mini Meditations and the Master of Dao: Mr. Now, Eckhart Tolle.

Eckart Tolle employs meditation all the time, and like Watts, has no problem with the traditional styles of meditation: i.e., human pretzel, kama sutra, spine-snapping, lotus position stuff. You know, Zen for the Bendy.

But Tolle’s philosophy is that you can and should turn everything into a meditation, or at least, be able to meditate on anything, or on any action at any time, what he calls, mini meditations. It was Tolle’s explanation of meditation that has resonated the most with me, because it isn’t about not thinking or eliminating thought or staring at a fucking candle flame for 20 minutes in a position unfit for the human anatomy.

It’s simply about being present in the moment, not letting the mind wander to the Past, or into the Future. Meditation is simply about being in The Now. Experiencing the present moment. That’s it.

How fuckin’ simple is that?

Dirty Hands, Soapy Water: the Path to Zen?

Tolle’s favorite example of mini meditation is washing your hands. Feel the water and the soap. Focus on that moment, even for just a few seconds. And then do this as often as possible during the day, in as many other actions as you can.

Focus on your feet as you walk around the block, on the feel of your toothbrush, the sounds of the house, without labeling them. Listen to those sounds as if they were a symphony, music.

This is the coolest way to meditate, ever! Because you don’t have to sit still. You don’t have to stare at a fuckin’ candle! And you don’t have to wrap your legs behind your ears and throw out your fuckin’ spine and spend millions of dollars at the chiropractor to straighten that shit out later!

The Dao of Dishes

dao of dishes

Steve Bivans, Zen Novice

One of my favorite, Tolle-esque, mini meditations, is what I call the Dao of Dishes.

This one is simple. I turn on my mega boom, bluetooth speaker in the kitchen, bring up Spotify on the computer, find my ‘China: Land of the Dao’ mix—a collection of Chinese traditional folk music—and push the play button.

Then I do the fuckin’ dishes.

Now, trust me, I really don’t like to do the dishes, but now I’ve turned it into a meditation! The music is very calming and brings my attention, my cat-shit-n-crumbs brain into the present moment. I then get into this really cool flow of doing the dishes.

I focus on the feel of the water, of my hand holding the plate, or my steps from the dishwasher to the pot rack. But instead of calculating my every, future move—like I used to do when I was tick tocking all the time—I’m just enjoying the motion, in the present. I don’t even have to think very much. It’s very Dao-y, very flowy, like a river moving through a valley. There’s no coercion, no resistance.

It’s fuckin Zen for the Unbendy; it’s the Dao of Dishes man. Dig it.
So, next time you’re thinking you can’t meditate: think again! Or better yet, stop thinking, stop wrapping your ankles around your head, and do the Dao of Dishes. Try some mini meditations. If it works for Steve Bivans, it will work for anyone.

Read Pt VI, Darth Vader & the Return of the Balrog Blender

 

 

Steve Bivans is a FearLess Life & Self-Publishing Coach, the author of the Amazon #1 Best Seller, The End of Fear Itself, and the epic-length, self-help, sustainability tome, Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth: the Guide to Sustainable Shire Living, If you want to learn how write and self-publish a book to best-seller status, crush your limitations and Fears, and disrupt the status quo, contact Steve for a free consultation to see how he can help you change the world! CONTACT STEVE

Older posts

© 2017 Steve Bivans

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑