Factory Girl

So glad to have visited the NICORA Shoes factory earlier this month, or last. I might've been sitting on these photos for a while now, either way, they're here, and totally industrial and glorious, and vegan. There are few things I love more than a good behind the scenes, and this is no exception. In the meantime, I, my dears, have big plans to go back to my trademark face masks, foot scrubs and the like. But, until then, enjoy all of the gritty shoe-making possibilities, and the hearts and hands that are behind them. 

Things I Love 10.1 + The Mastery of Love

I'm so in love with The Mastery of Love that I don't even know where to start. Um, also, if you don't like spoilers scroll down to the quotes, (or maybe further) because I'm about to write a novella about this book. I burned through the book in an afternoon, and then bought the audiobook, so I could listen to it all day. So, I'll start here, at the end, with the concept of The Stalker and The Dreamer. The Dreamer controls the dream, knows it's a dream, and The Stalker is looking to find the where the dream has been going. Now the term stalker has some pretty negative connotations, meaning that you follow someone around with the desire to, know them, at best, and conquer or harm them, at worst. But here you're not stalking another, you're stalking awareness, and not just any awareness your own private awareness. You do this in order to see where you've fallen. If your life isn't what it could be, you need this in your life. Because once you decide to unsubscribe from all of the little things that have been pulling your attention to and fro, you'll reclaim the energy that is rightfully yours, and it always has been, you've just been giving it to fear. 

So you stalk your reactions, all of them, and become committed to feeling the sensations of all the things that make you uncomfortable, and the things that bring you joy. But as we all know, the negative always seems so daunting. It's easy to go there first. So, every time your awareness becomes entangled with something that gets a reaction out of you, you sit with it. What have you created with this? What story have you told yourself around this? 

This has nothing to do with love, does it? After all, a book called The Mastery of Love, should be about love at least in some sense. It is, but you take responsibility for that love by working on each and every thing that is getting in the way of it. It's your love to give, keep, or share—although there is a bit in there about not putting it into the hands of others. Read it, you'll see. 

And fear, fear is such a huge premise in this book. There is a polarity of fear and love that he explains in a way that is pretty much undeniable, and once you learn it you can't unlearn it. I'm not sure why you'd want to, but yeah, it's real. Don't worry, I'll publish like half of the book here in quotes in a minute. Hopefully, you can get a sense for what it's about, and the magic that lies therein.

“You don't need to justify your love, you don't need to explain your love, you just need to practice your love. Practice creates the master.”

One of my favorite parts of this is explaining the meaning of respect. The idea that if you respect someone you deem them capable of handling their own lives. You give out a hand, but don't assume that they need you to coddle them because they are as capable as you are to clean up their own mess. The act of doing things for others, picking up their stuff, emotionally or otherwise, comes from the idea that they are somehow not capable of taking care of themselves, implies that you know better and that you have uncovered a power that they couldn't possibly possess. But they do, and if they're not interesting in bettering the situation that's on them. The ultimate point is that we don't try to change those we love, nor do we possess the ability to do so. 

“Life brings to you exactly what you need. There is perfect justice in hell. There is nothing to blame. We can even say that our suffering is a gift. If you just open your eyes and see what is around you, it’s exactly what you need to clean your poison, to heal your wounds, to accept yourself, and to get out of hell.”  

Hell is the dream, or it can be, doesn't have to be—that's kinda the point. The stuff that is in our external world is very much the reflection of what we have believed, or dreamt all this time. Those things we've held as truth, even if they're painful. Even if the younger versions of ourselves would want to shake us into a time of love, joy, and innocence again. We think that time for us is over. It's not.

“the real mission you have in life is to make yourself happy, and in order to be happy, you have to look at what you believe, the way you judge yourself, the way you victimize yourself” 

He makes such a strong case for this. All you have to do is look at what is bothering you and let the story you've told yourself around it boil up and feel all the feelings, and choose whether or not you want to continue living this way. I feel like the idea that everything is self-created really bothers some people, but I think it's liberating. I mean it sucks to have to take responsibility, but to know that life can be something so much greater, and easily at that—I think that's liberation. You do have to let go of a lot of the deconstructive stuff that has been propping you up. It's just a little discomfort, but similarly to Micheal Singer's ideas in The Untethered Soul, "pain is the price of freedom," what's on the other side is so much better. It's not a lot of pain, but you have to stop yourself and look at your relationship with your mother or sister, or brother, or money, of your job, or your lover, or yourself, especially yourself. Ugh self-abuse v. self-love takes up a big chunk of this book, for good reason. You have to look at the ways you're being a real jerk to yourself, and some of those things are self-created and some were the "emotional poison" handed to you through others. The black magic, if you will. The way others tried to cause you harm and you accepted because you thought maybe they knew more than you, or worse, that in some way you deserved this pain. You don't. 

“If you take your happiness and put it in someone’s hands, sooner or later, she is going to break it. If you give your happiness to someone else, she can always take it away. Then if happiness can only come from inside of you and is the result of your love, you are responsible for your happiness.”

This concept is a lot more romantic than it sounds. I bump up against the idea that only we can make ourselves happy, with the idea that love, as in love that comes from other people, can't make us happy. I think there can be both, but one has to precede the other. This is what I'm learning—you can have all the things, but first, be all the things. But living in a world where we are very distinctly taught to externalize our happiness, it's so hard to consciously realize money, success, clothes, relationships, romance, altruism, and kindness, those things are not happiness. Expecting kindness is not happiness. Happiness is an internal process where you start to see the beauty, and kindness, and love in others through the expression of it inside yourself. And you do this by clearing out the ways that you're keeping it from yourself. Because before conditioning, love is the natural state. 

“Humans hunt for love. We feel that we need that love because we believe we don’t have love, because we don’t love ourselves. We hunt for love in other humans just like us, expecting to get love from them when these humans are in the same condition as we are. They don’t love themselves either, so how much love can we get from them? We merely create a bigger need that isn’t real; we keep hunting and hunting, but in the wrong place, because other humans don’t have the love we need.”

Again, who is not in the endless pursuit of love and acceptance, if not from another person, then from a community, or finding a life they love? This hunt is everywhere. But through the application of Don Miguel Ruiz's principles, we grow it inside first and then see it everywhere else.  Life becomes very much what we make it, or rather, what me make ourselves. So with this end in mind, I diligently stare at my empty bank account, or a pile of dirty laundry, or a lull anywhere in my life and wonder, "Why does it bother me?" "What am I making this mean about myself?" It's a lot of work because a disorderly house, depending on where and how you were raised can mean so many things from the idea that you don't care about yourself and your home, all the way down to you have a disorderly mind. Cluttered home, cluttered mind, and all of that, but Ruiz explains this is just something you agreed to believe, and a pile of laundry can just be a pile of laundry. The disorder you associate with it is inside. So commit to moving the disorder and the sense of internal chaos and the laundry becomes something a lot simpler to deal with, and you won't put yourself through the hell when it piles up. This example sounds trite, but think of thousands of these things inside you, all having their own unique meaning and you'll see you've built a life on criticizing yourself for what you've left undone, making it mean something much bigger than what it has to. We can all internally find peace in chaos, but it's a choice.

“Life is nothing but a dream, and if we are artists, then we can create our life with Love, and our dream becomes a masterpiece of art.”

Someone once told me I wasn't an artists. It was one of the most painful things I'd heard, ever. But when I got it to move out of me, it dragged so much more with it. You can't make a living as an artist, for one, or that it's not a real job, for second. The daggers that others throw at us can be so revealing of what we've chosen to believe for ourselves, and as we stop accepting them as reality these wounds close up on their own and people can keep their own poison. Or find someone new to infect with it, until one or both parties decide it's time to stop living in hell. Whether or not people choose this will never be your responsibility. Ever. 

I'm happy to end things here because it's the final point. We paint our lives through our beliefs, and one way or another we choose to accept the truth that was laid out for us, and choosing something different takes a lot of energy, but I so believe it is possible to completely rebuild all of life, and maybe bit by bit, all the world. 

I am so grateful for all that I've learned and all the teachers out there putting pen to paper to make sure the world has even a little less suffering than before. 

Love. 

Possibly the most important lesson I have learned recently. If you don't feed your mind, someone else will. source: Always Sunny on tumblr

I need so much more bed yoga in my life. source: Zulu & Zephyr

I don't know what more a person could ask for. source: Southern and Sun Kissed

The world needs more flowers. source: Three Rivers Deep

I need to bring some of these windows into my dream. source: Killan and Co

Such a beautiful photo series. source: Adenorah

Always. source: Dallas Clayton on Instagram

Ugh, yes, again learning this very clearly through the works of Don Miguel Ruiz. source: June Letters

So grateful that my yoga practice has arisen much more organically these days. source: Boho Mixology

True, built it inside first. source: Killan and Co 

I've been trying to add more stuff to my photos. More styling or whatever, and this reminds me just how much I love simplicity. source: Silver Blonde on tumblr

Finding Purpose in the Words of Hunter S. Thompson

This finding purpose thing has been heavy on my mind. I would say for a while, but that's not entirely true. It's really just recently.

I seem to be doing the things I want, but what is the purpose? I recently rewrote my About Me page and it was about this basic topic, I know that I do the things I love because I love them and that is reason enough, but what about the mark I make? I think I've thought far less about that aspect of having purpose. My external purpose or what I want the work I do to be about, for others, specifically.

And I think if you don't have an outward purpose, it's easy to get lost or give up, or at the very worst, think you're not making an impact at all. Because making no choice, is still a choice. When you do have one [a purpose], even if it's just as simple as, 'I'd like to be as honest as possible,' or 'I'd like to inspire others,' or 'empower them,' it keeps you focused and it is so much easier to say whether something will enrich your life or distract you from your goals. 

So if something falls into both categories of something you want to do and love, and provides a value to others, I think you've hit the jackpot in the life purpose department.  

Oh, and finding the "9th path," I think everyone should. 

April 22, 1958

57 Perry Street

New York City

Dear Hume,

You ask advice: ah, what a very human and very dangerous thing to do! For to give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal — to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself.

I am not a fool, but I respect your sincerity in asking my advice. I ask you though, in listening to what I say, to remember that all advice can only be a product of the man who gives it. What is truth to one may be disaster to another. I do not see life through your eyes, nor you through mine. If I were to attempt to give you specific advice, it would be too much like the blind leading the blind.

“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles … ” (Shakespeare)

And indeed, that IS the question: whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in our lives. So few people understand this! Think of any decision you’ve ever made which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don’t see how it could have been anything but a choice however indirect — between the two things I’ve mentioned: the floating or the swimming.

But why not float if you have no goal? That is another question. It is unquestionably better to enjoy the floating than to swim in uncertainty. So how does a man find a goal? Not a castle in the stars, but a real and tangible thing. How can a man be sure he’s not after the “big rock candy mountain,” the enticing sugar-candy goal that has little taste and no substance?

The answer — and, in a sense, the tragedy of life — is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man. We set up a goal which demands of us certain things: and we do these things. We adjust to the demands of a concept which CANNOT be valid. When you were young, let us say that you wanted to be a fireman. I feel reasonably safe in saying that you no longer want to be a fireman. Why? Because your perspective has changed. It’s not the fireman who has changed, but you. Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.

So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything other than galloping neurosis?

The answer, then, must not deal with goals at all, or not with tangible goals, anyway. It would take reams of paper to develop this subject to fulfillment. God only knows how many books have been written on “the meaning of man” and that sort of thing, and god only knows how many people have pondered the subject. (I use the term “god only knows” purely as an expression.) There’s very little sense in my trying to give it up to you in the proverbial nutshell, because I’m the first to admit my absolute lack of qualifications for reducing the meaning of life to one or two paragraphs.

I’m going to steer clear of the word “existentialism,” but you might keep it in mind as a key of sorts. You might also try something called “Being and Nothingness” by Jean-Paul Sartre, and another little thing called “Existentialism: From Dostoyevsky to Sartre.” These are merely suggestions. If you’re genuinely satisfied with what you are and what you’re doing, then give those books a wide berth. (Let sleeping dogs lie.) But back to the answer. As I said, to put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.

But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that we can’t BE firemen, bankers, or doctors — but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires — including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter.

As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal), he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).

In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life — the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual.

Let’s assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let’s assume that you can’t see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN — and here is the essence of all I’ve said — you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH.

Naturally, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ve lived a relatively narrow life, a vertical rather than a horizontal existence. So it isn’t any too difficult to understand why you seem to feel the way you do. But a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.

So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life. But you say, “I don’t know where to look; I don’t know what to look for.”

And there’s the crux. Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something better? I don’t know — is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice.

If I don’t call this to a halt, I’m going to find myself writing a book. I hope it’s not as confusing as it looks at first glance. Keep in mind, of course, that this is MY WAY of looking at things. I happen to think that it’s pretty generally applicable, but you may not. Each of us has to create our own credo — this merely happens to be mine.

If any part of it doesn’t seem to make sense, by all means call it to my attention. I’m not trying to send you out “on the road” in search of Valhalla, but merely pointing out that it is not necessary to accept the choices handed down to you by life as you know it. There is more to it than that — no one HAS to do something he doesn’t want to do for the rest of his life. But then again, if that’s what you wind up doing, by all means convince yourself that you HAD to do it. You’ll have lots of company.

And that’s it for now. Until I hear from you again, I remain,

your friend,

Hunter