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1,000 WORDS (2nd attempt): DAY 58: Culture Contrast, The Music Business.

I was born in the third world, right by the equator, in a country so hot and so violent you might think you’re in hell if you came to visit. If you looked a bit closer though, you might find that it is also a place of peaceful villages, a place of family harmony, a place of love for God and all his children. It’s a crazy contrast, to see all the messages about God everywhere, on the buses, on the buildings, banners, yet to hear of so much crime and death. Organized crime and gangs, as well as corrupt police and government, keep this country unsafe and unable to move ahead. For better or for worse, I was born in Honduras, and when my parents told me we’d be leaving to Canada, immigrating there, I threatened them by saying that I wouldn’t watch TV any longer when we arrived there, since it would all be in English, and I wasn’t about to watch TV shows I couldn’t understand. This was the most important thing for me, I was almost ten at the time, and I have a vague memory of that day when we said goodbye to my grandparents. We were at this very same property which I’m back in today, writing to you all from. I’m back at my birthplace, and over the past two years I’ve gotten used to the heat, to the bugs and the roaches and flies all over again, to the loud sounds and funny smells as well. Everything is hot and sweaty, everything is vibrant, like an endless summer. I’m back in Honduras, I came back to be reunited with my wife, or actually to make her my wife, who I met on a previous visit back here. It’s great to have different experiences, and to stop having some of the things I was previously so used to. I know I’ll experience some of those really great things again when I get back, such as readily available high grade chronic, or being able to hike up the beautiful B.C. mountains. I also hope my connect for shrooms can hook me up like he did in the past, I haven’t kept in touch with him these two years, and I’m looking forward to getting into the music scene again, giving it one more shot perhaps. I’m about to be twenty-five, and I might as well give music a shot again, since Vancouver provides a somewhat supportive environment for artists, and since I doubt things will be able to work after I’m thirty. At the same time, due to the spiritual path I feel I’ve embarked on recently, I’m in this whole thing about not letting expectations overwhelm me. I don’t want to set such high expectations about how things will be, I just want things to be as they are meant to, to ride the wave of life, and to thank God in every situation. The music business requires so much effort on a person’s part, to keep up with a certain image, to create and image for oneself and to make it into a brand, to commercialize it, to make it cool. How can I focus on that which has no image or form, when I am always supposed to be thinking about how to promote an image of myself, the brand or reputation I’ve created for myself? These are all things I think about, and sometimes I think it might be best to just leave the entertainment industry to the side, and to just focus on cultivating the right mentality in life and with finding the Spirit within us all. I wonder sometimes if it could all be a delusion though, and if I should really focus on becoming successful, and not so much on matters that are not of this world, in a sense. Could it be that life is passing me by and I just feel that I’m being spiritual now or living life better? I don’t want to fall into this trap, so this time that I’m back in Honduras has really been a time for me to reflect. I haven’t gotten to a final decision yet, but I’m thinking of giving the music a shot once I fly back, and attempting to include the concepts I’m learning about within my lyrics in more creative ways. I can’t give up my chance to do something I love for a living, especially in this internet age when it’s easier than ever to promote one’s music or literature, but I also can’t give up on my spiritual pursuit of the truth of life. I have to keep a third eye open, I know, if I wish to stay on the right path and to really try to get into the entertainment business, into the music business. One can’t avoid life however, and I was born with the talent I was born with for a reason, just as all of us are, so I can’t let it go to waste simply because of fear of stepping off the path, of falling into temptation. I feel that I’ve been working on self-control for quite a while now and that it’s finally starting to pay off in a big way, so I’m really conserving this motivation within me so that when I get back to Canada I can create content and constantly promote it. I moved to Canada at an early age, I learned English and I learned to rhyme, I took a break for some years since I had to clear my mind of such negative ideas I held before, and now I need to incorporate the new positive ideas I’ve been learning about for the past few years, into my music. To me it’s all meant to be, it’s all part of a process which is about to take new shape. Only a few months left and we will see, but for now I keep on managing my expectations, and taking it a day at a time while I’m here in Honduras. 

To be continued tomorrow, on Day 59.

~ Rebel Spirit

1,000 WORDS (2nd attempt): DAY 18: Hatred and Hip-Hop, Lessons Learned from Party Days.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been more or less aware of the unnatural state of the life we live, of the wicked way the world works, of the way the whole system runs. I was afflicted by the hatred and violence I would see on the news that my dad would watch every day, by the corruption and poverty, the incessant and unnecessary pain and suffering of so many, by the hypocrisy of the world. I would hear horrible stories of gruesome deaths taking place in my home country, gang members dismembering business owners for not being able to pay a monthly sum. I couldn’t imagine people living in such conditions of fear in the country I had been born in. Except it wasn’t only in Central America that this was going on. I often watched videos of another powerful, international gang, the police, attack people on video as well, tackling and killing unarmed civilians, and I was absorbing all this hatred and internalizing it subconsciously. I would show these videos to my mother, who always advised me not to let hatred affect me, that nothing good comes from witnessing injustice. I just kept making offensive remarks about the police officers, about how they should be severely punished, and that there should be no police at all, since all the officers are just as corrupt as any of us regular people without a badge. I was filled with a stupid, self-righteous hatred at all the injustice, I was becoming an extremist, not acknowledging that there are good and bad people in every profession. I knew that hip-hop was the perfect venue to express my hatred, hip-hop having been long associated with protesting and fighting the system, and also the police and the government, for a cause. Meanwhile as my hatred grew, I also absorbed lyrics which casually discussed guns and drugs on a daily basis, thinking I could just vibe along to the rhythm and the rhymes scheme, not internalizing what was being said. I was naïve and didn’t know at that age that our soul is always listening, paying attention behind the scenes. I hadn’t yet learned about the unconscious mind and how it registers everything and applies it in our daily life. Not surprisingly to my current self, I normalized these behaviors and overall lifestyle in my mind, and I started doing the same things that I listened to, since they naturally arose anyway when I entered high school. I’m not saying that I did anything I did directly influenced by music, but once certain ideas about life are normalized in a young person’s mind, it’s more likely that they will succumb to such behavior, especially when it presents itself as a great temptation. My group of friends consisted of a gang of crazy kids who were involved in fights, drugs and problems with police. Many came from broken homes and have parents who are in and out of jail, or came from families with serious financial problems, or substance abuse problems. I was raised in a different way than them, at least at home. My parents always taught me morals, which endure to this day, and those morals have kept me from going over the limit many times if I’m honest with myself and with you all. Maybe my friends’ decisions to live these kinds of lives were not influenced so much by music or the media, but by the people in their own lives who they saw as role models, as well as their peers, and who resembled those characters in their favorite songs. In my case, my parents could never have imagined that I would do some of the things I did, especially at such a young age, so they trusted I wasn’t doing anything wrong. They had done everything they could to prevent my brothers and I from being in the company of anyone they believed was living life wrong, who would influence us down the wrong path. Kids in Honduras don’t start getting fucked up with their friends at 13 or 14, leaving home, getting in street fights and getting arrested, unless they are already entering into the gang life, one which they will never escape from. My parents were used to a very conservative culture where children grow with their parents and family is always close together. This prevents any unprecedented danger since the family moves as a pack, and values are mutually agreed upon and enforced. My eyes were open to a whole new life, to what I thought was unlimited freedom. I spent the summer after the eighth grade getting extremely intoxicated on various substances and partying in many different places, with many different people, while my parents thought I was at the mall all day, or swimming, or at the beach. Not to say I wasn’t doing those things, or that I wasn’t at those places a lot of the times, but definitely not under the conditions they imagined, that’s for sure. Life was just too exciting to pass up, a daily adventure; drugs, booze, girls, friends. This brought along everything that usually comes with excessive drinking and too much partying with too many people; fights, lost items, broken items, police problems, and all kinds of other problems. Except to me they weren’t problems, because I simply didn’t care. I lived my life as a young adolescent based solely on pleasure, chasing thrills on the daily. My parents were the ones who suffered in the background, and this I couldn’t see, as I was clearly blinded by the thick veil of ignorance I had decided to cover my eyes with. What was my parents’ suffering at home, in such a distant place, when I was here now, in the moment, drugged up, tripping, feeling like I was part of a crew, part of the fun we were having, part of an unstoppable force, the unfiltered energy of youth? I realized that my music was shifting, it was no longer so much about solutions, the lyrics I was writing had ceased to be about finding a solution to the world’s problems. My rebel energy was being incorrectly applied, it was becoming confused and intertwined with this reckless and restless energy which surrounded me. I thought that we were going against the system, and my music was defiant, as if this was the life that truly free individuals were meant to live. I was so, so blind. I couldn’t see that my friends and I were simply victims of the system, rebellious kids full of anger and rage and the desire to let it out, full of dissatisfaction, drowning in alcohol and drugs, avoiding any real self-reflection. I felt like I was on top of the world, and it was only much later when I realized I had been living in a very low state for much too long.

To be continued tomorrow, on Day 19.

~ Rebel Spirit

1,000 WORDS (2nd attempt): DAY 17: Why Hip-Hop? (Part 1)

I was born in the beautiful, extremely hot and tropical country of Honduras. Honduras is a small third world country in Central America, and apart from being an amazing country in many aspects, rich in natural resources, it unfortunately also suffers greatly from ongoing gang activity and violence, as well as shameless government corruption. For various reasons my parents emigrated to Vancouver, Canada in 2004, at the time when I was around ten years old. That changed my life in various ways, both good and bad (although I see now that nothing is really bad in the end), as I grew up getting myself into tons of trouble due to my rebellion and stupidity. Years and years seemingly were wasted on pointless pleasure and pain, pleasure and pain over and over again. However, what I’ve come to realize over the years is that eventually, all of life’s victories and failures, all the mistakes we make, everything realigns into perfect harmony, and everything balances out. We need to make mistakes in order to learn, and if we never acted stupidly, we could never analyze our past behavior with much depth, since there wouldn’t be much need, and we might never feel deeply motivated to change at all. I see this clearly in my own life. I still have a lot of changes to make, but I’ve changed a lot in the past few years. Most people who I meet nowadays would never guess that I used to live the way that I did before. This shows me that we all have the power to change, even in a small period of time, through small efforts, through daily goals which increase our willpower, and in turn our overall well-being. It’s an exciting idea to discover, and I thank God for being blessed with the power to make it real in my life. The supposed ‘misfortunes’ that life has presented me with have actually provided me with an insane number of examples of my own previous stupidity. I keep these safely stored in my memory, as it is clear to me that if I never lived through some of the things I have, I probably would have never felt the need to change my self-destructive behavior. Many people who have never lived through such negative experiences, or who have but haven’t applied the necessary importance and significance to them, still continue pursuing nothing but pleasure, awaiting the day when they will have to pay for all that pleasure with much pain. Others who were close to me have let their life of pleasure take them out of this world much too soon, whereas I have at least begun to try to change. I am far from perfect, but now at least I have a goal to achieve in life, which is constant self-improvement, and improvement of the world around me. Changing the world is something we all do at every second, at every single moment and with every interaction. If you or I had not been born on this planet during this exact lifetime and period in history, billions of lives would be completely different right now and forever. Just contemplate the depth of that truth for a moment. The only way we can change the world day by day, action by action, is to work on ourselves on a moment-to-moment basis, on letting our inner light shine. This light is something spiritual, the very essence of being, and the inspiration for what I do. But I’ll stop getting ahead of myself now and get back to my story, to a time when I had no concept of these ideas. Growing up in Vancouver I became fascinated with hip hop from a young age. I just remember becoming obsessed with music in general, ever since the good old days when getting stoned was a novelty which felt almost like tripping, and music sounded so mind-blowingly great that I could pick up every note as I listened for hours in utter amazement. To this day, my love for all genres of music has grown and continues growing daily, but I mostly dig decades into the past as opposed to following the new music trends that come out nowadays. It seems we are slowly transitioning into an age in which music is not so much a tool for expression as much as a tool for financial gain and propaganda, but we’ll get to that sad subject again at another time. Although no music is as relaxed and uplifting as Bob Marley’s, or as psychedelic and epic as Pink Floyd’s music, there is nothing that can compare with hip-hip in a few specific ways, in certain aspects. Hip-hop has always blown me away since it makes you just get up and move, voluntarily or involuntarily, you begin to move. Your head, your feet, whatever it is. The rhythm of hip-hop has the power to move one’s soul. Rhythm is so important to rap, that the word “rap” in itself is actually an acronym for “rhythm and poetry”, or at least it is to me, and that’s what I titled the first mixtape I ever released. The other amazing thing about hip-hop is how much content can fit into a verse, more than double the content of what could be sung by an R&B singer on the same track. There are many examples of this in collaborations between rappers and singers. A forty-second verse of a track can be used to make a bold statement, if every syllable is packed in with a meaningful word, instead of resorting to blurting out curse words every five seconds in order to complete a rhyme. I often feel sorry for listeners of modern day rap, who have to bear the dumbed down raps of the so-called “entertainers” that are praised today and promoted by mainstream hip-hop culture. I try not to judge, as it’s part of my self rehabilitation and spiritual work, but the truth can’t be denied, and it must be expressed. It’s sad to see that music has been reduced to meaningless noise, to another petty product, packaged and promoted for maximum profit. I’m not saying that hip hop was all good in its ‘golden days’ either. It seems amazing to me now how I grew up on hip hop and knew all there was to know about it; rapping became my life, and ‘rapper’ became my early identity, something I identified as, but I couldn’t see the problem that was slowly building up within me. It turned out that along with my love for rapping as a form of expressing ideas and thoughts, feelings and concepts, I grew accustomed to a lot of negative aspects of hip hop culture, a truth which I finally came to accept after a great deal of introspection, much, much later in life.

To be continued tomorrow, on Day 18.

~ Rebel Spirit

1,000 WORDS (2nd attempt): DAY 10: Cannabis, Self-Reflection and Writing.

The culture here in Honduras is very different from the one I experienced and became a part of in Canada. Most of the experiences which have truly shaped my personality the most up to this point are those that I had in Canada after my parents decided to move there when I was ten, at least until recently when I returned here to be married to my beautiful wife Maria. I grew up in Vancouver, BC, more specifically in the Surrey area. Many things that I grew up seeing as totally normal were things that completely shocked and terrified my folks, such as my appreciation for cannabis which started at the young age of thirteen. My parents went through a lot of suffering due to my love for that sweet BC bud. I always had to, and did, keep in mind that my parents come from Latin American countries where illegal “drugs” are associated with tremendous levels of organized crime and violence; it is a business which is fully controlled by gangs. In Canada, on the other hand, everyone and their mom smokes bud, or even sells it. Seeing my mom suffer like she did when I was finally caught selling at school made me never sell weed again, at least as a job, even though I think the laws which make it illegal in the first place are completely bogus. I couldn’t be happier about the fact that cannabis is now legal in Canada, nationwide, since October 17th, 2018. This is necessary in order to break the stigma, in order to open the world’s eyes to the fact that cannabis is not a dangerous drug, but rather a powerful and potent plant in many respects. Just like everything in this planet, it can definitely be abused, so it must be used with moderation. Balance is something which needs to be applied to every area of our lives if we want peace of mind. My belief is that no substance in the world is completely bad or good. Some cause more suffering than the experience is worth, and some ease the suffering of many people as long as they’re used properly and treated with respect. It is all about the way anything is used, just like the internet, or the TV, or social media. Just because so many people feel empty and alone or misunderstood in this dull world so devoid of life to the point where they begin desperately abusing weed, or alcohol, or pharmaceuticals, or any other substance for that matter, is not a valid reason to label the substance itself as evil. And if this was the actual reason why a substance like weed was ever illegal then all pharmaceuticals would have been completely forgotten as soon as the dreaded opioid epidemic reached massive proportions. I’m sure glad the fight is over in Canada, but I’m also speaking for and to the rest of the world where people who just want to chill a bit, as well as people who really need their weed have their basic rights denied and as branded as criminals. In reality, most problems related to pot use are due to its illegal status, including my own problem with my school and even with my parents’ view of it. Apart from that some people say that weed makes you lazy. I’ve thought about this in depth and to explain I must tell a bit of my own story. Cannabis has been a trusted friend to me for a very long time. The effect one feels after consuming this plant can obviously vary immensely from person to person depending on mental state and many other factors, but its general effect is usually one of slight sedation as well as of comfort or relaxation. At times I’ve felt as if I were becoming completely immersed in a bunch of blankets, as if I were sinking into my warm bed or something as soft as clouds, as if I were fading away into a dream as I lie in under the stars, my eyelids slowly closing over my vision. Most of my most wonderful weed memories are from my earliest days with it.. One cool thing I notice is that although cannabis makes one feel so wonderfully comfortable, it does not blind one to the facts of life, and in a way it shares an important quality with all psychedelics: the ability to bring you into deeper contemplation of your own thoughts. Interesting ideas seem to envelop my attention to the exclusion of everything else around me. I started to figure this out for the most part after having the realization that I didn’t want to live a life of time-wasting any more. This realization hit me the most while high one day, when I realized that I was losing motivation to work towards my goals, and I couldn’t lie to myself about it. This thought made me evaluate my daily activities and be honest with myself about when I was wasting time. Then I would do something more productive during that time in order to improve at being productive. I realized that all the time I was spending on weed after work might be holding me back and preventing me from doing more important things ,along with time wasted scrolling on Facebook or partying with friends. After work I would walk two blocks from Homer Street over to West Hastings on the corner of Victory Square in Downtown Vancouver. After purchasing the product at the corner dispensary I would merely cross the street to the New Amsterdam Café, a lounge where anyone can come in, and for a five dollar fee, smoke freely in a comfortable and secure area with some trippy paintings on the walls. Music is always playing, munchies are for sale, and any smoking or vaping equipment is provided if needed. There are large spots with conjoined couches for big groups, and there are also individual couches for the more introspective stoners. I usually went alone since I went right after work, and plus I preferred to blaze alone in those days anyway my main reason for being back in Vancouver being to save up for my then upcoming wedding. I would walk in like I was home and remove my tedious tie and jacket with a sigh of sweet relief as I proceeded to plop down on one of the free couches. Then I would continue to unpack everything I needed: the weed came out of my pocket, the grinder and papers were in my bag along with the lighter, and I was already deciding what music I would listen to for the next little while om my 160GB iPod Classic. After deciding on an album or a playlist I would commence the rolling of the humongous joint which was about to be blazed up. Since I had been waiting all day to smoke (the job I was currently working allowed me no opportunity to wake ‘n bake), this session was always meant to take me all the way. I would properly pack up a full KingSize RAW paper and roll a fat joint longer than my index finger, ending it with a nice filter which I took my time to make with perfect precision. It was almost as if I were trying to last as long as possible without sparking the joint, as if the satisfaction were such that I just had to hold it off in order to feel it even more the second I lit it. It was during these relaxing times of stoned self-reflection that the idea of writing really began to take shape in my mind. More on this tomorrow though.

To be continue tomorrow, on Day 11.

~ Rebel Spirit