5 Things Voters Need to Know From Dragon Ball Z

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With elections around the corner, fear, hatred, bitterness, and deception have again reared their ugly heads on the public stage. Who can we look to in order to support values we can believe in? I say if the candidate isn’t preaching what Goku and his friends taught us, then they’re not worth listening to.

  • There is always more strength within you. No matter how beaten, bruised, bloodied…you can always dig deeper within you to overcome what faces you. That is life. Truly, we have two choices, die or overcome. Ultimately so many relegate themselves to death. It is not always a physical death in which things end for them on earth, but a mental, emotional, spiritual death in which the things that make them human wink out. Goku taught us that only we have the power to choose not to be a shell of ourselves. When you are lying on the ground looking at the feet of the enemies in life that would see you defeated, grit your teeth, ball your hands into fists, and find the power within you to rise up against the things that would see you and your dreams crushed and ended. Vote for a candidate that encourages you dig deep and become the best version of yourself.
  • No matter how strong you are, you need family and friends to back you up, inspire you, and remind you what’s important. So many times in Dragon Ball Z it is the supporting characters, not the main characters that act in such a way to bring about victory. Against Frieza, it was Krillin’s desperate cry for help that pushed Goku over the edge and ultimately pushed him to become a Super Saiyan. Against cell, it is android 16’s words that help Gohan release his power, Goku’s coaching that force all of his energy into his attack, and Vegeta’s blow that distracted Cell so that he could be overcome. Against Majin Buu, the Namekian dragon balls restore Goku’s strength so that he could overcome the monster. In life, pour into the people who back you up. In your time of deepest need, they will return the favor. And when you need to revisit lesson 1, often times it is your loved ones that help you find the strength within you to keep moving forward. Vote for a candidate that exemplifies the spirit of working together.
  • Death is not the end. How you live your life will leave a legacy long after you are no longer on the earth. Whether the afterlife is an eternal training ground or countless choirs singing Hallelujah, or nothing at all, your actions while you are still breathing will change the world. Decide if the world will be a better or worse place because you were in it. Despite most of its citizens being in the dark about it, Goku saved the earth on multiple occasions and because of his actions the whole universe revered the life of him and his family. Vote for a candidate that looks to impact the future further out than their own short life.
  • Humility, selflessness, and having fun are the shortcut values that lead to a full life, and just because these are your defining traits does not mean you cant be a fierce warrior. If you constantly recognize the need to improve yourself, give your all for others, and have fun doing it then you will never stagnate, never be an island, and you will never take anything too seriously. Vote for a candidate who humbly has fun at no one else’s expense.
  • Money, fame, fortune, materialism are literally valueless in an unfeeling universe. Nothing that matters in Dragon Ball Z is the stuff that so many around are striving for. In fact, the Z fighters could care less what they accumulate. They are focused on their training, their relationships with each other, and facing the things that threaten their world. They are never compensated for how they defend the world. They are never recognized for their sacrifices. But they train on. They keep sacrificing. And they do it for each other. And they do it for themselves. Vote for a candidate that doesn’t spend time or energy accumulating material things.

The list is short and sweet, but so is the deep message of Dragon Ball Z. Work hard in your community to find the power within you and others while creating a legacy that can overcome the struggles that the universe puts at our feet—do this without getting distracted by the things that don’t really matter. Vote for a candidate that jives with that and we’ll be ready for the next Cell or Frieza or Majin Buu. In the meantime though, lets simply settle on defining which of the leaders vying for our support will help us be better; Dragon Ball Z style.

The Pinnacle

The air is cool and clear with the dew of 6am. A dazzling sun rising in the east with a bright yellow and orange dampened by the moisture of the air will be a fiery contender before long. I look heavenward to measure up my coming challenge. “The Incline” they affectionately and respectfully call it around here. A solid mile of distance coupled with 2,000ft. of elevation. In layman’s terms, over 500 stairs without repose climbing the side of a mountain. If ever one could hope for an elevator. And yet why? The struggle is real, and it is good. One foot, steps in front of the other. Everything has a beginning. Let’s climb this thing.

I am a finely evolved biological system. Of the mammalian species, I am blessed with the next step of evolution. A pattern-seeking, neurobiological construct that has generated a primitive sense of self-awareness that we call consciousness.  A brief strut through our known history will show that since the time of the big bang order struggles against disorder in a universe where forces known and unknown are always walking a delicate balance. Matter, anti-matter, gravity, distance, space, time, supernovas, and black holes. All of it at war in a sense in the largely unseen expanse of the material world that we know. Our little universe.

In those endeavors, stars formed, and were destroyed. Planets the same. And for all we know, other writing, thinking, playing, frivolous species’ like ourselves grew from other primordial soups light years away and have since breathed their last breath. But here we are. Made of the stuff that stars created in fusion and during their explosive, cataclysmic deaths. Primed, ripe and ready for a chorus.

Earth with all its water and goldilocks anthropomorphism hatched lipid bilayers, RNA, organelles, DNA, then multicellular organisms. In a burst of extraneous activity, life wrung itself from the unfeeling mixture of physical and chemical components dancing the beautiful, unappreciated dance of material world. And it was off.

Invertebrates begot vertebrates which begot a plethora of fish, then amphibian, then reptile, then mammal, then primate. As a stone when given momentum rolls down a mountain picking up speed, so did life. More variety, more complicated outcomes. Taking advantage of all the uncompeted-for resources that had built up on such a fertile planet, life boomed and order prevailed for a time. Giving birth to us the only possible outcome of such a competitive system: Intelligent, conscious life.

One foot in front of the other. Breathing is labored up this hill. The sun is beginning to grow hot in my struggle and I can feel my lungs burning with it. Where is God in all this?

A divine orchestrator is necessary, though not for the reasons we now seem to struggle with. Look around, everything seems to have been planned, right? Bees pollenate to keep the flowers reproducing. Thanks God. Gravity continues the orbits of heavenly bodies in order to allow for the existence of life. Thanks again God. Bad things happen when someone does bad things to others. Karma exists. Thanks again God.

But these things do not require a creator for themselves. We close gaps every day understanding how to climb up mount improbable to find that the only problem solving skills and creativity inherent in reality is that of trial and error, randomness, and meaninglessness. The universe is simply. Not for any reason in particular, but because it is. Ultimate beauty. Existing without purpose, but bothering to exist anyway.

We require a creator because of the inherent pattern-seeking mechanism evolved within us. The very thing that gives us the advantages we need to morph the world around us with tools, create and improve languages, set to rationally solving a problem, build complex social structures, and know what others are thinking without them saying a word, OUR BRAIN.

The neocortex, limbic system, and all accompanying parts are “pattern-seeking” mechanisms evolved to allow us the advantage of anticipating, learning, and adapting through competition and cooperation with other biological and inorganic entities. This mechanism served us well and now we are at the top of the food chain with no other contenders beside ourselves. Struggling to find a higher meaning to our existence much of our population has exited the squalling and brutish fight for survival that is biology. What do we seek a higher meaning with? The same pattern seeking tool that we use for everything else.

A pattern-seeking system finds meaning in everything. God is necessary for us not because the universe, its content, its meaning, and our place in it require him, but because we look through predisposed lenses. A pattern-seeking system will grind and grind and grind on every detail until it arrives at a conclusion. Have you ever pondered something, mind racing away such that you can’t even sleep though you are exhausted? That is your brain at its best…a side-affect of its function. Racing until it wears out or finds a solution that meets the pattern’s needs.

It would be like climbing these stairs on this incline but never making progress. The brain works and works tirelessly (much more tirelessly than my legs) to explain a pattern, solve a problem, generate a meaningful explanation of the world around it. Unfortunately for my legs and lungs, there is no God shortcut to this climb and so I march on.

God evolved with our brain. The ultimate cause. The explanation for everything when there is no explanation. God exists because we could not be adaptive with our often-malfunctioning, but awesome system. God had to be there in order for us to explain a pattern that we did not have the evidence or experience to comprehend fully. A shortcut to an inherent bug in the system, religion’s settlement on God’s existence in his many forms is the necessary result of our evolving a pattern-seeking, conscious, and productive mind. Possibly, it was precisely this adaptation that allowed homo-sapien to rise above other homonids because we spent less time explaining the unexplainable with buggy, pattern-seeking minds (attributing it all to a higher being or beings) and more time on things we could control.

Why do I keep climbing? What is the point? I’m halfway up and it hurts simply to stand. Sweating and tired, I want to go down. I want to go back to the safe start where everything is as I know it, the air is experienced by all, and everyone is comfortable. But still I press on.

Why does He persist then? In many ways, God’s purpose has not changed. He still fills the gaps, they are just narrowing. The most untenable though is that of meaning. Why are we here? In those four simple words is the greatest void and most unanswerable question. Probably deepest and most central to those who are self-actualizable since WHY is the belief center, affecting everything you do.

And there is no answer. No neon sign near the crab nebulae to be discovered with the “meaning of life” etched on it. Nothing higher math or artificial intelligence can tell us. And so God rests heavily in that unbridgeable gap until our consciousness collectively evolves to accept that there is no meaning and we must make that for ourselves if we need one to exist.

And need one we do. Without a purpose, the pattern-seeking system could not survive, but being conscious allows us to choose whether or not to use our gifts. So if our species would press on, it must have a purpose. No matter how learned, sophisticated, or primal. To spread our genes. To seek pleasure. To find joy. To be there for family. To create something wonderful. To serve God. To do whatever our culture says is important. To fly…etc…

So here I am, almost near the top, in awe of all that has been “created”. Not mostly because it is awe-striking, I am struck that it exists despite its implicit meaninglessness. That the mountains roll on snow-capped in majesty, that the trees spring up in the sunlight with such a deep green, and that the sky extends forever in my eyes…the birds chirp, and in the numinous of the top, my heart sings the worship song of creation. Even aside from the whole creator bug…and it is all even more amazing.

And yet we are the pinnacle. A biological system evolved against chaos and disorder to the point of intelligent self-awareness. And we are privileged to drink in this life knowingly even if only for a short time which in itself is beautiful. And God says to us “Blessed are you, oh man, who, though you are merely a shadow and a vapor, feel the kiss of the wind, shake in the awe of mountains, delight in the love of another, and looking upward, behold the ethereal and ambivalent eternity of the stars.” Is there another in the expanse of these billion billion billion twinkles so favored as to be charged fervently: “Find meaning in it all.”

The Narrow Way

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I walk the narrow way.

Among thorns and thistles
Winding through the forbidden wood
Around my head, around my heart
A venomed vapor whistles

I walk the difficult way.

The path is rooted and trenched
Barely a trail, no shelter here
Through the rain
My soul is drenched

I walk the lonely way

My eyes locked among the thorns
In the dark and all alone
Praying for the will within
To rise above and be reborn

I walk the only way

Though ahead it’s only black
Like a flint
My face is set
I know there’s no turning back.

I walk the painful way

I will not wince or cry aloud
The strength within
Will not give in
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

I walk the winding way

Light not at the end, but the start:

An Indomitable spirit was lent
And I chose to walk
The narrow way
Until my soul is spent

And few there’ll be who find my heart.

St. Lucia Sunset

Waves lapped peacefully onto the beach sparkling the dark shimmer of Caribbean light fading purposeful into the night. The sun hadn’t set yet, but it was purposefully on its steep descent holding vainly to day with hopeful flickers of its brilliance only visible in the surrounding wisps; they were a tired lavender, a burnt orange, and a quiet but angry red.

This sun is setting on my marriage.

I sat with my toes in the sand with my hand atop an uninterested companion’s. As always, she was more taken with the environment of our romance than the actual romance or the subject of said affection itself. She had just pointed out a crab burrowing up from its home nearby and was watching him intently for the 20th time to come up out of his hole.

There is a difference between childish wonder and looking for something to distract you from facing reality. Those who understand the difference recognize the latter with annoyed disdain. Those without understanding miss their childishness.

“I need to talk to you about this”. The crab that had just surfaced, darted back into his damp shelter at the sound of my even tone.

“Why do we HAVE to talk about it during the last sunset of our trip?” because it’s important that we also acknowledge what else is ending. “Can’t you just enjoy the moment?” I always thought that moments were about the people around you who were sharing them, not literally everything but.

Wish I could show you now. Show you how deeply and unhappily you’ll learn…Why must we only learn from pain? Is there any other way? The crab darted out for a crumb. Out and in again back to its dark hole in the ground.

“Ok.” A soft whisper of breeze from the ocean joined my internal sigh while I gazed upon the paradise before me.

Lush green forests covering and cresting the island mountains that rimmed the bay. Quaint fishing vessels with dreamy captains floated lazy and essential just off the ports of the small village they called home. Such promise of a life worth having among the tropical mountain palms and serene ships. Just out of reach it seems. Always moving toward it and it always moves away. Like a ghostly crustacean you’ll never catch though you get many glimpses.

Deep in consideration of the weight of the irony, war and peace. Paradise and the hell of inner turmoil. My insides shown on my face.

“God, can you at least LOOK like you’re happy to be with your wife on the beach at sunset. People are going to think you hate me.”

That’s right, picture perfect. Only in an art gallery is what’s in the frame the finished product. Photographs are only as good as the stories they tell. The vast pasts that made a story worth telling. And the eyes of a bright future to give value to the memory of a moment.

Snippets of the moment. That’s what my ‘wife’ wants. Your perfect picture would barely take up one page in ten thousand of the epic that is my book of life. How very sad to only skim through the pictures and miss the story. God would be ashamed.

The crab must’ve caught my disgust. Like a fleeting hope that would rather hide in gloom than be exposed. He didn’t come back.

“I apologize”.

I used to read the last page of a book first to understand if it was a book worth reading. I’ve glanced at final page. It’s a good book, though I don’t know how it gets to the ending: Strangely, you’re not mentioned.

I reach over, feign a smile, and hold her hand. “It really is beautiful out here.”

Beauty, like life, is beautiful because it does not last forever. All flowers fade, butterflies die, mountains crumble, and thunderstorms breathe their last mighty breath. Elegant existence in the face of no other purpose than to exist. The eminent end of its duration seems to make beauty even more powerful.

My eyes are wet.

She thinks I am caught up in this moment for her. “AWWWW”. A Smile. A Kiss. She doesn’t know it is the last.

In the distance a galleon appears. Majestic with its full array of sails, it poses against the dimly lit backdrop. Picture perfect lighting. “Look at THAT!” She gets her masterpiece: A silhouette portrait of man’s ever-adventurous spirit carried on the breeze over choppy seas. I know she won’t see that but still wonder at the sadness of missing out on such stories while snapping so many pictures.

The sun sets.

The light disappears behind the crystal water.

The scurrying crab, the dreamy fishermen, the tropical mountains, and my pondering tears are gone.

And in the darkness, like an unanchored frigate swift among the shadows, my heart finally moves on.

Atlantic Shores

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Wind, like a torrent, rips harshly through the crashing waves

Birthed unknowing from sources unknown

Thrust the soft clouds

Pound the rocky shores

Twist the weary trees

Placed as if by accident, squalling into circumstance it lashes out

Angry not at what, but why

The deepest frustration is existence without purpose

Such fury, like life, cannot last forever

White, foaming crests, rolling heavy and spent into the shore

Thundering. Powerful packets of rage. Each a fading sign of life before death.

The hotness cools, the rage dies, the fighting calms. Struggle gives way to stillness.

Land accepts the resignation of the wisened, dying gust

Having spent its holy anger, it flits almost peaceful

Grasses sway in green and yellow waves undulating over the seaside meadow

Ripples of somnolence. Again unknowing.

And so breath breathed gasps mightily into existence

Unfettered, it fights and struggles raging without purpose

Spending itself to build waves that will fall on unaffected shores

But who can shackle even the weakest breeze? When has a gust lent itself to a prison?

Invincible liberty. Every breath ends in a meadow without a trace.

Unknowing, we die.

But freely, we live.

Smile

What have I done to deserve you?

Well, everything I know how.

The smile of your mouth

Opens wide the sky

The clouds roll back as a scroll

And I marvel.

—I laugh–I cry—

How is it that one such as you exists?

You’re too perfect. You must be fake.

Am I going to wake up one day

And find that you’re not real?

Break the mold.

That’s what you’ve done—

Break the mold for everyone.

Nobody is like you, in form or grace

Nobody’s beauty can match that which shine’s from your face.

I want to wrap you up in my skin.

Hold you close. So tight

So tight that you’ll never be away from me again.

Walk with me, my skin as your coat,

We’ll walk through the mountains

We’ll walk through snow

I’ll keep you warm. Even if it wears me out.

I was made for you.

The perfect fit—Strapping, Strong, and Stout.

Under cearulean skies our laughter echoes.

Over the cliffs, trees, and valleys.

Over streams and lilies and mountain meadows.

Why does that make me cry?

….am I scared of losing you?

Will we both make it through?

How long will we live?

How long will we be young?

How long until the sting of death is stung?

I pray forever. I pray eternity. God Himself is the only force that can take you from me.

You are bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh. Our sinew and muscle and soul and spirit mesh.

Bless the day that you took form.

I was there.

Even before I was born, I fluttered above you in the air.

—Winged cherub, Son of light.

Was it for this woman you gave way your flight?

Yes, Oh Lord, yes with all my heart. I traded my eternity for a human start.

I crawled into my mother’s womb and sucked my thumb.

I let mortality render me deaf and dumb.

I grew in leaps. I grew in bounds.

I ate cheerios, and crawled around.

I grew in a home of fatherlessness, to learn to be the father I didn’t have.

I loved a mother who was husbandless, to learn to be the husband she didn’t have.

I prayed for compassion and love and strength of spirit.

I wanted you to be attracted to my heart. I wanted you to want to be near it.

I laid the foundation for the love of my life.

I laid the bricks for the home of my wife.

I asked direction. I saved myself the best I could.

I wanted to lead you well. I wanted to be good.

You grew sweetly and blossomed young.

You’re youth marched to the beat of a different drum.

You looked around and thought you were strange.

You looked around and thought you were to blame.

You’re height, your weight,

Your hair, your hips,

Your breasts, your waist

Your gentleness, your thoughts,

Your humor, your glory,

Your dreams, your hopes.

Your love

Sweet darling, you called me with these things

Called me down from above.

Drifting like a snowflake,

I

came

tumbling

down.

Melting into a sea of snowflakes.

I’d be happy just to stick to your shoe.

But I landed squarely on your eyelash. Your heart.

You saw me for a moment, before you could have blinked me away.

You saw the beauty that is me. You saw the leap I made for you. You saw that I only want to cover you. To rest on you. To melt on you. To be one with you.

–You didn’t let this snowflake touch the ground.

I’m still flying–

Dance with me, my darling.

Beneath the wintry sky.

Let our laughter echo.

Let our tears run dry.

I want to eat this life with you.

A giant handfull of snow.

And if its too cold to eat at first—I’ll throw it at you.

Because life looks better as snowflakes scattered in your auburn hair.

And you’ll smile that smile.

Melting my heart.

Dripping

–into the white blankets on the ground.

Melting the world.

You’ll smile.

And I all I want is to wash over you forever. Wash away your hurt. Wash away your worry. Wash over your perfection and add glisten to your shine.

You are an angel. Your love is wine.

Intoxicated, I will flow into you.

Over you.

Through you.

Smile again, darling—you are forever mine.