No genie required


One day, you stumble across a magic lamp in a back alley—you just had a feeling something special might be under a trash pile back there so you walked into the dark to check it out. You rub its golden side, because that’s what you’re supposed to do with magic lamps, and then, sure enough, out floats a genie.

“So do I get three wishes or what?” you ask the genie.

“No,” the genie says, “I’m not one of those omnipotent genies. I can’t give you whatever you want. All I can do is travel into your past and change it. If you so desire. Just say the word and I’ll reach back through space and time and alter a little something, or a big something. What would you have me do?”

Do you command the genie back into your past to change something? It’s a roundabout way of wondering: Is there a version of your life that you think might be better had something else happened that actually didn’t, or had something not happened that actually did? Which is, in turn, a disguised form of the question: Do you believe there is an unrealized version of you that might be better? Stumbling upon this question, another question now has to be asked: How could you possibly be better than you are now?

Perhaps the only better version of yourself is the one who is capable of loving even more than you are now. Forget about being wittier or wiser. Forget about improving your body, as if that were possible. Forget about getting more money and power. Forget about getting altogether, and consider love. What is it? What if the only better version of you is the one who can embody more of whatever love is. Include more. Stand more. Care for more. Whatever or whoever you reject or loathe or get annoyed by now, the better one would respond in and by and for love instead. That’s the better one, the one who doesn’t get snagged by pettiness, doesn’t get sucked into fear, doesn’t shut down from believing in Not Enough—that there’s not enough time to love, not enough money to love, not enough energy to love. Believing that you are not enough to love. The better one doesn’t believe that. The better one loves.

If that is indeed the only possible better version of you, then this is good news, because you don’t need a genie to become that better one. That one is available now, waiting for your welcome. Every thing that triggers you, that is the invitation to welcome that better one, and become it. When you feel the hate inside you, the aversion, the judgments, that’s the better one asking to be midwifed into being. Commanding the genie back into your past to change something with the hopes that it might make you some better version of yourself neglects the fact that becoming better, becoming love, is work. Is labor. And that labor is always now.

And the quiet part of you that actually believes there is a better version of yourself out there, the part of you that is ashamed of yourself as you are now—horrified at your own pettiness, humiliated by the judgmental tyrant inside you, exasperated at just how limited you seem to be, overwhelmed by your smallness, all the ways you choose not to love but to hide instead, or hoard, or harass, in your own private mind or in the outside world—that part of you that wishes you were the better one and not the one that you are now, that is the one that wants and needs to be loved. And, incidentally, that’s how you become the better one, the one who is capable of loving more, by loving who you are now, exactly as you are now, including the part of you that wishes you weren’t you, that wishes your life wasn’t what it is. Especially that part.

So, you didn’t find a magic lamp in some dark alley, and there was never a genie. You don’t need the genie because you are the genie. Now what?

*Galaxy by SamDakota

If you get tired

One of the best pieces of advice I received before I set out to walk across America was this, from my friend, Ben: “Remember, if you get tired out there…take a break.”

Taking a break this week, folks.





I was talking about all the ways I scare myself last night, those little gnarly thoughts that strike and stick, that grow into stories about “what it means” and “where it’s going,” that then become entire worlds after just a few seconds of following them, worlds created and reified by the attention they’ve stolen from me, the attention I’ve given them. I called it fear, this dynamic of getting struck by and stuck on certain gnarly thoughts.

“Huh,” my younger brother, Luke, said.

“What?” I asked.

“I know what you mean, but I wouldn’t call it fear,” he said, and then went quiet again.

“Well, what would you call it?”

He thought for a few seconds.

“Possibility,” he said.

So that’s what I want to do this week, ask “What’s possible?” when I find myself fearing.



Growing yourself such that you don’t need to know what you’re going to say before you say it, don’t even care to know anymore. Becoming yourself in such a way that you trust whatever comes out, however and whenever it comes, trust that it is serving somehow, trust that it is enough.

Growing yourself such that you don’t have to say anything at all to know who you are. You can lavish the people around you with your care-filled, attentive silence, and at last they have some space to sing their own song in ways they’ve never sung it before, discover riffs they never knew they had in them, that never would have come out if you’d insisted on singing yourself. You are so yourself that you can sing yourself with silence.

Growing yourself such that you’re not looking for anyone to tell you who you are, and when they do, with praise or blame, you are so grown into yourself that you see they are telling you as much about themselves as they are about you.

Growing yourself such that you are not threatened by other people who have deeply grown into themselves, so yourself that their way of living love is not in conflict with the way you live it, that you no longer need affirmation or agreement or anything at all to abide in your own unique way.

Growing yourself such that you know you are not something you have to do or figure out, and certainly not something to hold on to. You are so yourself that you let it all pass through, so yourself that you are through.

Growing yourself such that you no longer loathe and deny the truth: that you do not, in fact, exist alone, original, untouched, that you are an ever-shifting mix of the people surrounding you and all the people surrounding them, and everyone who came before all of you. You are so yourself that you do not claim what you create, don’t clamor over the credit for that which has long been preparing itself to finally arrive in you.

Growing yourself such that you aren’t afraid of yourself anymore, so yourself that you’ve forgotten how afraid you were trained to be. You might remember your training sometimes, might remember it so well you actually begin believing you’re afraid again, but you are so yourself that, upon remembering, you are able to drop it and come back home, the way a hungry child drops her toy on the dirt outside when Mother calls her in for dinner.

Growing yourself such that the conversations you have become explorations instead of duels, unconditional and agenda-less investigations of this thing you both have in front of you, this thing that neither of you can see the whole of on your own. You are so yourself that you’re no longer interested in being right anymore, would much rather be wrong, in fact, see something you’ve never seen before than hemorrhage yourself in the endless, fruitless chore of defending yourself.

Something to grow into, you.

*Reaching by SamDakota

Disarm yourself

Revelation 16-3.jpgTo the presidents, generals, soldiers, police officers, snipers, assassins, gang leaders, NRA members, executioners, and anyone else willing to deal out death with the slightest movement of your pointer finger or to command it through the pointer fingers of the people who choose to follow you:

Weapons are weakness. The choice to rely on them for security is a symptom of fear, which is insecurity, so how could they possibly protect you? How could something that is born of insecurity bring about security of the lasting and reliable sort? It’d be like expecting an apple tree to bear you an orange, or darkness to offer you light. Apple trees bear apples, darkness offers darkness, and weapons make fear, first and foremost in you. It is a paradox, strange but true: by relying on weapons for your own security, you are building insecurity into the very foundation of your consciousness. Fear is unreliable building material. By veining it into the bedrock of how you think about and move through the world, you have set yourself up for collapse.

The weakness of relying on a gun for your safety isn’t the unavoidable, obligatory, and beautiful kind of weakness that the human experience asks of all of us—the vulnerability of living in a body that will get sick and injured, of having a heart that will get broken and a mind that will suffer. Not that kind of weakness. That kind of weakness isn’t weakness at all, if lived fully. It’s just who you are—breakable—and if you live the truth of who you are, unafraid of the non-negotiable reality of your fragility, you are finally living unafraid of yourself. Living this kind of weakness is to accept that you are not a god after all, that you will hurt, and lose, and die. And you’ve stopped needing not to. You are at your most powerful when you don’t have to feel powerful anymore, or don’t feel the lustful compulsion to show it when you are. This is freedom, when you can be yourself in this way, inclusive and expressive of the quivering fear inside you, unattached to the power when it comes.

Living by the gun, however, is the kind of weakness that vainly protests against the way things are, the way you are. It is a terrified kind of weakness that doesn’t know how to look truth in the eyes and say, “I am going to die, and everything I’ve ever loved is going to die, and all the people I’ve ever cared for will all die, too.” Carrying a gun with the willingness to kill, you become the kind of weak that would rather take than give, the kind of weak that refuses to learn how to love, that believes it’s easier to kill than to care.

It’s always a good idea to love, or to at least do the work of learning how to love, and if you don’t believe that, then somewhere in your consciousness you’re believing a lie—although you can hardly be blamed for that, as it’s a lie so intricately woven, spun from so many different threads by so many different weavers that it has become the commonplace truth of these times. Of course you believe a gun will make you safe, and that it is easier and often just to kill another person, and that some people are impossible to love, or shouldn’t be loved because “they did something terrible,” or “they’re about to do something terrible,” or the millions of other less legitimate reasons we come up with to hate people and kill them. Of course you believe these delusions! Billions of other people are right there with you. But now that you’ve heard this, you can’t lie innocently any longer. From here on out, your lies about righteous murder and justified violence are all chosen, and your choice to live these lies is literally killing us one by one—on the streets, in the battlefields, on the streets-turned-battlefields, wherever a life is taken in retribution or fear disguising itself as reasonable defense.

Weapons of any kind—physical instruments, words, facial expressions, or body movements—if used to take life when that life’s death is not absolutely necessary to fertilize more life—when weapons like these are carried, you are feeding your own weakness. If you want to be strong, if you want to be brave and heal the world by your bravery, if you want to save yourself and protect the lives of your loved ones and of the enemies you haven’t yet learned how to love, if you want to be a hero, then walk this earth naked as the day you arrived here.

“No fucking way. They’ll just kill me if I go out there unarmed.”

They’re already killing you, aren’t they? And a part of the reason why they’re killing you is precisely because you are armed. You set yourself up to be attacked by assuming that you would be. To arm yourself is to speak from the part of yourself that is scared shitless, and it speaks to the parts inside others that are scared shitless, too. Of course we injure and kill each other when we meet like this—one tiny movement will set either of us off like a spooked deer. Disarm yourself. It is the most disarming thing you could do, because it speaks from the part of yourself that knows how to trust and love, which speaks to the parts in others that want to do the same, even if they don’t realize it yet.

*Watch me speak this piece here
*Revelation by SamDakota

what a drag.jpg“You’ve got to hide for many years, from the moment you begin to suspect that you’re not who you thought you were, the moment you see that you’ve never actually seen yourself. This first moment of uncertainty is the gateway through which your magic will enter, and it is your life’s work as a wizard to keep that gateway open by protecting the uncertainty, the great I-Don’t-Know. But at first, you won’t know how to not know because that’s all you’ve been taught, to know. You’ll still have that death grip instinct to grasp for certainty and solidity and security, and you’ll betray your magic by clamming onto the first thing that touches your soul’s palm—an idea, a philosophy, another person. These are the tender years, when you are learning how to be yourself. You are impressionable, easily impressed by what you think might be you, and you’ll grab at anything that will fill the void of the certainty that has left you. And so you’ve got to hide, take refuge, find shelter out of the storm of your own seething desire to know yourself, and of everything that’s trying to exploit this innocent longing by telling you who you are and how you’re supposed to be. Go into hiding, alone, and find out for yourself.”

“You’re not hiding from that which will challenge your understanding of who you are. Not at all. You are hiding from that which assures you that you already know, and from anything else that tells you how to be you, or what it means to be you. Anything that tells you who you are is dark magic, and you must hide from it until you’ve become acquainted with yourself and the magic you were born to be.”

“The dark magic is everywhere. It gets hurled to and fro everyday by millions of witches and wizards, most of whom don’t even realize they’re trafficking in the stuff, or don’t see that it’s moving them and speaking through them. In the tender years, you can’t quite see the dark magic yet, even though you know it’s out there. You haven’t learned to sense it when it’s happening, which means you can’t know when you’re absorbing the radiation. The only way you know how to protect yourself is to shut down, which is why you have to hide for a while: because you mustn’t live that way, shut down.”

“Once you’ve spent enough time alone outside in the dark; once you’ve become acquainted with some of your own soul’s silent wonders; once you are capable of being yourself instead of seeking yourself in everything you hear and everyone you see; then, you don’t have to hide anymore. In fact, when you have met your magic like this, you have to come out. It is your obligation to be witnessed doing the work of being yourself, to walk wide open in the world, untouched by the curses and hexes of ‘you’re supposed to be this’ and ‘you should be that.’ Disenchanted. Bewitched no more. When you are you in this way, the simple work of being yourself will become an invitation for others to take up the work of being themselves, and that’s the highest magic of all: to be me in such a way that asks you to be you, and to be so truly you that I am obliged to really be me.”

*Shadow Walk by SamDakota

no evil, color.jpg

What if God wasn’t something invisible and faraway to be worshipped and waited for, but something you were, in fact, obliged to be? Something you needed to be, and were needed to be? Not something out there that would eventually take care of you sometime in the future, but instead, something in you that was asked to take care of something in me, right here, right now, and vice versa, me for you?

What if the Kingdom of Heaven was the world in which my first question was always, “What can I give?” instead of “What can I get?” and in which that was always your first question, too?

What if to be God wasn’t to be all-knowing, or all-powerful, or everywhere all at once, but simply to proceed as if the person in front of you were God, and to then touch them that way, with your hands, your eyes, your mind, your words, your breath—each God requiring something a little different, and so listening intently to every one?

What if little children weren’t constantly told to be good? What if they were told to be God instead, without an explanation as to what that meant ? What would we learn about God then?

What if being God was not a blasphemous proposition, but a lifetime’s labor, inclusive of the pain that comes with both work and birth?

What if we weren’t fed God, but were asked to feed God with our wondering? What if?

*Feel No Evil by SamDakota