The Only Thing Constant

The Only Thing Constant – February 22nd, 2004

Coming home from a late-night gig, my fiancee and I happened upon this sign at the corner of Orange Ave. and Virginia in Orlando. Typically, it’s a useful means of advertising photographic specials for the camera store where it’s located. But at 3 a.m. on this cool, dark morning, it was the playground of jesters who must’ve spent an awfully long time trying to figure out what they could do with the available letters that sat in place that week. I do not recall what it said prior, but suffice it to say that the text “BUY CRAP ON ANY PENIS AND TITS – $50” wasn’t okayed by management for the display. I wonder if it increased sales at all?

This New Chapter

Back in the early 70’s as a child, I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and was prescribed a hearty breakfast and lunch of Ritalin, which my mother claimed turned me into a “zombie.” She didn’t like the effects of the drug and promptly ceased the twice-daily dispensing of it. I had no earthly clue why I had to visit the nurse at lunch for the little pill: I certainly didn’t feel sick. Back in those days, doctors were sure that ADD eventually went away, like a skin that you shed as you grow older. Nowadays, they’re aware of the fact that this is simply not the case. After years of wondering why I had problems focusing or completing tasks, battling spaz-oid episodes and crippling depression, I finally did a little research into the developing knowledge on what is now also linked to ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and found that my symptoms were extraordinarily classic. ADD. It’s not just for kids anymore. Right? After meeting a few adults with the problem and knowing a few more who self-medicated through marijuana and other stimulants in order to get through the day, I decided that it was time to get “officially” screened for what has been a life-long struggle.

Thank God for health insurance – and after being diagnosed with the condition, a prescription for Adderall XR was dispensed and I’ve been cruising happily along on it for several weeks now. The drug doesn’t go well with alcohol and I had been wanting to cut-off my booze intake anyway – so I quit cold turkey as soon as I began taking the 10mg pills each morning. It’s like a veil has been lifted. Sleeping comes easier, since my mind doesn’t race so much. I’m a much better self-manager of time and projects are actually getting completed with greater efficiency. The specialists say that those who experience combined symptoms of ADD/ADHD and depression are actually dealing with the mood swings as a by-product of their lack of ability to carry on each day like a so-called “normal” human being. By treating the ADD, the depression tends to clear itself up through accomplishment. Of course, this isn’t the case for everyone afflicted – but it’s a hopeful note for some who don’t want to ingest a cocktail of several different drugs just to get “straight” each day.

For you fellow ADD sufferers or anyone who suspects that they may be exhibiting symptoms – it is truly amazing just how different (and more fulfilling) life can be once you’ve gotten over whatever hurdles may stand between you and a healthier mental outlook. Fears of side effects from prescription drugs (including addiction) notwithstanding, the benefits, in my opinion, are worth the risk. If you’re considering going this direction, do a little research and give yourself a shot at rewarding change. The next chapter is always the most exciting, isn’t it?

How Green Is My Mindset

The only thing constant is change, we find out. Many people are scared to death of change because it represents a state of mind that is hard to get used to: you must constantly adjust in order to deal with the ever-cycling nature of this life. Have you ever made radical changes in your life only to have people use a template of you to make comments like “that’s so unlike you” or “who are you and what have you done with _________?” Chances are, these are folks who like to get used to someone as they are, find a comfortable place with their identity and then hope to God they never switch anything about their personality. I didn’t use to be a cat person, but now I’m a full-on feline fan. And I wasn’t always into plants (besides the kind that you smoke), but find myself gradually becoming something of a tree-hugger. It started with a few houseplants a year ago, and now every day seems to be Arbor Day. Ever laugh at people who talk to their plants? You’d be surprised what they can say back to you.

Since everything in life is connected, once you reach a point where this becomes a daily truth, then you start to see how Love really works. Not just among people, but among plants, animals, even minerals and the various elements. If you love air, air will love you in ways that you thought not possible, but that’s getting too deep for a Sunday morning. A good book to read is “The Celestine Prophecy” by James Redfield. In the conscious world, it’s easy to ignore the most amazing things, which are seemingly disguised, quite obviously, as elemental. A particularly revealing section of the book describes the narrator’s exposure to this reality:

“I stepped back in shock. Around each plant within my vision was a field of whitish light, visible, yet totally transparent, so that none of the plant’s color or form was obscured. I realized that what I was seeing was an extension of the plant’s unique beauty. It was as though first I had seen the plants, then I had seen their uniqueness and presence, and then something had amplified in the pure beauty of their physical expression, at which time I had seen the energy fields.”

The book goes on to describe the act of “communing” with the plants – sending out love vibrations and receiving their energies in return. It was this book that got me thinking more about horticulture and the human need to assist in the replenishing of our planet. Somebody call Greenpeace, the whales are next! Jae and I brought a lovely avocado back from Key West last year and decided to plant the pit in the backyard. After scouring the ‘net for some instructions on the care and feeding of a baby avocado tree, we stuck the pit in a bowl of water and waited for it to send out roots. This was late January. Pretty soon, the top of the pit had cracked open, sending a brownish shoot towards the light streaming through our kitchen window. Then, little bro took off and began growing at the astonishing rate of two to three inches a day. Each morning, I’d look at the plant, love it, and send positive energy into it. As it shot skyward, I transplanted it into a soil pot and added some fertilizer. At this point in time, it’s in the living room, quickly reaching the place where it’s too big to be inside the house, sitting on a table. About time to take a position in the backyard where, in seven years, it will drop its first fruit. Jae and I are excited – it’s like having a kid and watching it grow, leave the nest and then come back years later with stories to tell and gifts for the folks at seasonal times.

So, in all of this newfound love for all things green and growing, it was a mighty shock to be awakened this weekend to find that the next-door neighbor was having the big camphor tree that borders our fenceline cut down. This big, magnificent tree had provided a moment of otherworldly clarity one night as I stood in the backyard and stared at the sky. The tree overhung our yard courtesy of a few robust branches laden with leaves and across the yard was a similar tree, but maybe an oak, that had a full canopy spread some sixty feet in the air. Instead of forming a complete profile at the top, however, there was a little dent in the treeline. Surprisingly enough, the bit of overhanging foliage from the camphor tree neatly filled in this space with what appeared to be a jigsaw puzzle of outstretched limbs and branches, so in one particular space, the two trees, easily some 120 feet apart, seemed to interlock with each other. It created an epiphany in my head: all things are truly connected, no matter how un-related they appear to be. It was the reality that half of this ‘skypuzzle’, as I called it, would soon cease to be. The lady next door was having it cut down because her insurance company wouldn’t cover the house for the roof damage that the tree was causing.

At first, it infuriated me – it wasn’t her tree – they existed long before humans came along and then we decide to cut ’em down, tear ’em up, and then build concete and steel in their place. As Jae reminded me, however, at least I had gotten a chance to experience the magic of that revelation provided by the two huge souls. I spent the day photographing the process as workers came through with chainsaws and ropes, methodically trimming branches that landed with a sickening thud on both sides of the fence. At times, I looked at the crew, wondering if they felt what we were feeling: that they were murdering this poor tree. Still, as they labored in the midday sun, I took water out to them, to wash down the sawdust that coursed through the air like snowflakes. With each buzz of the saw and each toppling of branches that outdated each one of us by decades, I felt more and more sorrow, knowing that this sort of activity was a daily occurence somewhere in our so-called civilized world.

“treeafter 2″When all was said and done, the workers had lopped off just about every bit of the growth, leaving only one little baby branch of greenery. Assuming that the shock was endured favorably, we conceded that the tree would continue to grow despite its wounds, and would once again flourish, long after we were all dead and gone. It made me realize that we can try as we might to prune back the growth of the Earth – weedwhack the medians and margins of our society, clip away the threats to our power lines and mow the lawns of our accomplishments – but leave it unattended for a month, like the landscaping around dead houses, and it all comes back. Like the bits of grass that poke through the cracks of long-closed tourist traps like the Fun N’ Wheels on U.S. 192 in Kissimmee, the Earth will reclaim what was once paved over. We’d better learn to live with the plants – because they are an inevitable force that can provide us with more insight into living than any skyscraper can. Who knows? Perhaps in the reincarnation process, we actually cycle into the trees, to experience a lifetime of observing, slow growth, and the pain of having all of your limbs whacked off. Something to think about.

Are you sending me stuff or what?

I’ve already mentioned in this space that I’m ready to start shedding a light on some of the local happenings again, and if I don’t have any submissions, then I’ll just keep waffling on about things that are taking place in my ever-adventurous awakenings. Since the last column, I got ONE delivery to the P.O. Box, which is:

J.O.B. Entertainment Inc.
P.O. Box 560727
Orlando, Florida 32856

so, again I say – send your material to me – whether it be musical, conventional art, notices of what you’re up to, yadda-yadda-yadda. Help me to help you, as it were.

In the mail, I got this disc from Snafu, a band that I’ve seen live around town and thought were pretty decent. The release, entitled “Krumpt” is an insightful bit of rock ‘n’ roll edginess that dares to have a brain and a concept. Instead of simply rocking for rock’s sake, the band tackles issues that are relevant to everyone in this lifetime, like media saturation, the meaning of life, love, and self-improvement. Sure, this might sound like a real drag, but Snafu (Bassist Adam DeMange, vocalist/guitarist Phil Bonanno and drummer Ryan Plummer) delivers the goods with a blast of solid rock that dances close to hardcore whamm-o and then surprises with delicate dynamics and stylings that tread the fine lines between groove-rock, jazz-inflected rhythms and conventional four-on-the floor largesse. Some people will hear the tunes and bang their head, not even getting what the songs are all about – but I’m guessing that more than a few will hear lyrics like: “you never had consequence for all the bullshit you told/but now you see bullshit comes back in three-fold” and it will plant a seed in minds ripe for, here’s the word again, change. Music is such a powerful medium, much more than just throwing melodies into the wind for the purpose of making money, gaining notoriety or providing a distraction from the everyday. Though some will cringe at message bands, there can be messages in the music that serve to better life as a whole, as opposed to inspiring hate, anger, fear and hopelessness, though in a balanced sort of way, there’s a need for that too. Snafu manages to toe the line mercifully, with an ear for solid rock and a heart that begs listeners to look at themselves long, hard and close. We could use more stuff like this in the Orlando area. The band can be reached at www.snafuonline.com

Until we meet again…

Who knows what wackiness will transpire between this moment and the next time I hit these pages? But rest assured, it’ll be detailed here. My good friend (and sister in another life) Barbee Cain is starting an honest-to-God commune in Orlando, and if I wasn’t engaged to be married, I’d be one of the first people to move in. I’ll have more on her story in the next column, but for the time being, experience her own brand of love and encouragement at www.barbeecain.com Hopefully, some more of you artistic types out there will lay your happenings on me so that I can, in turn, lay them on the readers of this column. If not, more journal entries and jah knows what else. So until then, be well and mahalo nui loa for continuing to visit “Dark’s Corner.”

“bfsig”

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