s Quests for Identity, Part 2

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by Nowick Gray, Editor of Alternative Culture Magazine

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Quests for Identity and Other Addictions: An Unfinished Manifesto


Day 2: Fall (September 22, 1999)

From the zero point at the bottom of this cone of becoming, opens another cone outward into the material world again. Here the principles I have called universal start to take shape again, to take on positive roles in my life. Indeed such terms as love and freedom are not meaningful in abstraction, but only in connection with actual external forms: love with my lover, thought with my particular thoughts; play with what I play at; freedom in and freedom from, as I care to define it; space in the form of wilderness or natural preserve; comfort in the small conveniences of home. To embrace the general does not negate the value of the particular: it just reorients our sense of self, our center of gravity.

The various addictions and identities I have discounted are tied up mainly with social life, with hunger for rank in the competitive hierarchy, with pecking order and status. They are costumes and masks, utilitarian attitudes, external behaviors. Yet there is a core value within these areas: a natural expression of life force, of personal identity unfolding day by day. If I more or less spontaneously choose to have sex, smell a flower, go for a walk, these are personal expressions of health, nature, space. The difference comes with attachment to results, anxiety about self-worth, dependence on the activity for happiness. It’s cart and horse, plain and simple. Putting intrinsic self-worth and the other essential values first, the material and cultural activities follow naturally. Otherwise, seeking identity through these secondary pursuits, or becoming habituated and dependent on them, we lose our grounding in the more fundamental validation of ourselves in universal terms.

So when I awake today, I take my easy breathing in bed beside my lover while she rests awhile with her dreams; lightly massage her taut back when she turns and hunches over; rise and do my yogic exercises and wash my face in cold water, but pass on the grueling morning run--instead checking my e-mail and baseball scores, while she writes in her journal, and abstains from coffee for the first half-hour. Then I go out to open the chicken coop, feed the cat, start making breakfast.

Today I will take up again the long slow process of writing a novel, now ten years in the intermittent making. My lover told me last night that after the core, at the very edge when anonymity becomes who I am, I write. The public image, the external forms, come later. At the beginning, is the expression I must make, the work I must do to express the very soul of who I am--the very soul of the universe as only-I, or I-for-instance, experience it.

musical interlude: Tonasket Road

day 3: October 25, 1999

© Nowick Gray

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Many of the essays appearing here are collected in convenient e-book format (pdf). Coming Home: Nature and Me and Other Essays is available now for free download.

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Rule Reversals (January 2003)

Telling it Like it Is (January 2003)

White Rabbit (February 2002)

On Novelty (February 2002)

An Open Letter to the Democratic Party after September 11 (December 2001)

Psychoactive Sacramentals: Essays on Entheogens and Religion (book review) (November 2001)

Forest Storm (September 2001)

Feminism, Poetic Myth, and Alternative Culture - An Homage to The White Goddess (July 2000)

Quests for Identity and Other Addictions (May 2000)

Wheel of Fortune (April 2000)

Great Writers and Street Poets (February 2000)

Upgrade for Speed Because Time is Running Out? (August 1999)

Retail Therapy: Decision Making in the Computer Age (August 1999)

Retail Therapy2: Random Brief Downtimes (August 1999)

Farouche Speaks (April 1999)

NetGlut: Notes from a cleansing fast (February 1998)

To Unix and Back Alive (January 1997)

Webness (November 1996)

Surfing Again (November 1996)

Bananas in British Columbia (May 1996)

Confessions of a computer addict (May 1996)

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