Dear Friends, Here is the Umbrella project to manage my life design for this year. Out of this so far has come a whole new expansion of Radical Honesty in the world. I will tell you about that in the next Radical Honesty Rag ezine in a couple of weeks. Love, Brad
P.S. Bernie Sanders and I have the same birthday, only I am a year older than him. We have made something of our lives by taking what we were given in hand and using it rather than being used by it. I am proud of my younger brother in the faith and I hope that young whippersnapper keeps up.
CO—CREATING A LIFE OF PLAY AND SERVICE
Theme for the year: That people want change so much is heartening. And that they want to make things better for others as well as themselves is touching and inspiring. That they know so little about what actually needs to change is depressing. We can do something about that, so let’s do that. We need to gather ‘round and ongoingly do some deeper work together and change the way the world actually works for all of us. So the theme for the year is called: Changing The Way the World Works for All of Us.
“Do we see who we are, finally? Do we see, behind the curtain, the scars and insecurities that have controlled us? And when we see them and look them squarely in the eye, do they lose their power over us, backing down from their bullying bluster? Indeed they do. We become free to take our life in whatever shape it has become, and find a good and enjoyable use for it, serving others and ourselves.”
Granny D (Doris Haddock)—(The woman who walked clear across America to advocate Campaign Finance Reform when she was 90 years old. She just died a few years ago at age 100. I miss her.)
“Each one of us holds transformational capabilities to engage the world constructively through the images of the future we hold in our mind. Our thoughts have power. The power of intent together with action transforms our lives and our world.” Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich, (wishing us a happy new year 2007).
“You can have anything you want as long as it doesn’t have to look like you thought it would.” Werner Erhardt
This document, which has in it my plans for 2016, follows a structure. I have divided my life into 5 Domains, and then listed and written up a number of Projects under each domain. The Projects are all managed by this overriding Project write-up called The Umbrella Project, which is the first to be read in this document. The structure of all the project write-ups, INCLUDING THIS UMBRELLA PROJECT, is:
Project Title: the name of the project
Brief History: what has happened so far
Background Commitment: values I am coming from
Vision: picture of what could be that inspires action to bring it about
Committed Listeners: the main friends to help keep the conversation alive by talking with me about it over the course of the year
Network of Support: a whole bunch more friends who will help
State: choices reflect the stage of development of the project: formulation, concentration, momentum, stability, BREAKTHROUGH!
Measures: Signposts along the way, milestones, signs of progress
Description of Overall Plan: Summary rephrasing of the project into a laser statement of what it is so that any one can get it.
Action: “To Do List” to add to, revise and update as we go—what to do and by when.
Date Printed: to keep track of which version this is, so the most recent upgrade is the one being used.
(You are invited to steal this form for the write up your own life design—and there is more detail about its use for conscious life design in the last part of my book Practicing Radical Honesty.)
The headings for the project write-ups are underlined and in red throughout this whole Project write-up system, so anyone can copy it, starting with the Umbrella or overview project, and continuing through each of the projects, subsumed under the 5 domains.
This structure is the RIVERBED of my life’s energy this year. Shit that happens that I didn’t plan for falls into this river. Having a river for the shit you didn’t plan for to fall into is what a whole lot of this is about! A few years ago I made a river to change the world and three workshops and the Occupy movement fell into it. Who knew? It helps to have a river you can bank on, and vice versa. Let’s river on!!
UMBRELLA PROJECT 2016: A Project to manage all the projects for this 75th year of my life.
Project Title: Changing The Way the World Works for All of Us. Working with other people to bring into being, out of our co-intelligence, common vision, service and leadership, a world that works for everyone.
Brief History: Turning Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones. (This is a bit of the story of my personal history. A river of memories and stored experience I swim in, and can use to design my future with.)
My father died when I was six years old. My brother was four. My sister was 12. My mother remarried when I was seven to an alcoholic veteran of World War II, who was shell shocked and a wife beater and child abuser. My half brother was born when I was nine, and at the same time my sister left home to avoid being sexually molested by my step-father.
In this context I developed skills for dealing with my life circumstances, which required me to take care of my younger brothers because my mother and stepfather were often too drunk to do so. And my step father and his friends were not only no help but a part of the problem…namely a danger to the kids, my mom and each other. I learned to be wary, alert, and quick to respond to cues to help me predict mood and likely behavior changes in drunks, so I could keep them from hurting one of the kids or killing each other. I learned when to avoid, confront, demand, threaten, fight, run away and take control with weapons if need be.
I considered myself a smart kid and a hero and I couldn’t afford to admit to being scared and feeling sorry for myself. Because of this good and bad luck, I was raised in such a way that I became sensitized to subtle cues about human behavior, and wanted to help people who were hurting. So I have been designed by my life to be a helper who wants to help those who are already hurt and keep them from being hurt more.
As I grew older I ended up wanting to help people, take care of them, teach them how to take care of themselves and each other, and show off my perceptiveness. I resented people if they didn’t appreciate me a lot, do what I said, and turn out the way I thought they should. I purchased allegiance by helping others. I charged this allegiance to the helpee in an inexplicit way, such that a vague sense of obligation bound them to me, protected me from them, and got me praise. I am, by nature, a manipulative, co-dependent, lying survivor. My life has been organized around letting people in general know they had better not fuck with me or anyone I cared for, and letting women know they could fuck with me, and showing off some hoping they might be interested.
As a psychologically reactive, homemade, individual humanoid, I have here a hand-built, home-built set of neurotic survival techniques, my carried-around-with-me-at-all-times way of getting along feeling protected and surviving tool kit. By transforming my relationship to this system of survival instead of being victimized by it, criticizing it, and resisting it, or trying to “fix” it, I can choose to serve people of my own free will. I can use my presence and my history much like the Greek mythical hero named Sisyphus learned to use his.
Albert Camus, in The Myth of Sisyphus, wrote that Sisyphus’ condition of being condemned for all eternity, to roll a big boulder up a mountain and have it roll back down again, was a perfect analogy for the human condition. We are all condemned to engage in completely futile tasks that take everything we’ve got. We have memories and minds that make comparisons, and that is a gigantic challenge.
Sisyphus, who used to be a hell of a man on Earth and a hero like Hercules and Pan all rolled up into one, was condemned for eternity to roll that rock up that mountain and then have it roll all the way back down again as punishment from the Gods. They were pissed off because he fucked a Goddess. Humans were not supposed to fuck Goddesses. He was thrown into this hell of complete futility that takes everything you’ve got, forever, just as we, who were once happy as children, have been thrown into the hell of the meaningless meaning-making machine of the mind and the absolutely insane obligations of so called adult life.
If we are to discover the secret to happiness as human beings, said Camus, we must be able to imagine some way Sisyphus could come to be a happy man, while living right in the middle of that special hell.
So, if we were to catch a glimpse of him just as he turns to walk back down that mountain to find his rock and push it up again, we would see a beaming smile on his face! How could that possibly be?
Camus said there was only one way that man could be happy, and by implication, only one way any human could be happy—which was by choosing to do what he had been condemned to do.
Sisyphus was condemned to the hell of rolling that rock up and having it fall back down, for all eternity, as his punishment, but he conquered hell by transforming his relationship to what he was condemned to do by choosing to do it. When Sisyphus decided to choose to do what he was condemned to do, he said, “this is my job, this is what I do for a living, I am good at it; it is what I do. I roll my rock up my mountain and back down again. This is what I do and I’m doin’ it.” He owned it.
Sisyphus could have been rolling that rock every day, saying, “Damn! I wish I had a glass of wine! Damn, I haven’t been laid in a looonng time! Damn! I wish I could go back and see my old friends!” Instead, he took on what his present life was; doing what he was condemned to do. As Montaigne said, “A person is not hurt so much by what happens, as by his opinion of what happens.” (Like in the movie “Groundhog Day” when the lead character finally surrendered to having the day happen over and over again without resisting it, it finally became a new day.)
So I can choose to serve people as a design for my life simply because it is a good choice given my design, which I am condemned to live with. I can escape the oppression of the historical personality that drives me, even though I cannot escape the personality itself. In other words, the meaning made for me without any choice on my part from the life, times, family, and culture I was born into and formed by, was not under my control. What is under my control is (1) the use of that personality and history as a creative instrument and (2) what I use it to create.
By using the equipment I have available to me, I can choose to serve people, envision how to do it, and make it happen. So lets try that: I learned to survive by protecting my mother from beatings, taking care of my little half-brother and my brother and some other people by being wary, paranoid, aggressive, and defending against other people who could hurt us. I will always operate from that mode, and I have no choice in the matter. Still, serving people can be a choice for me and can be very fulfilling and fun instead of constant struggle. If I own that built-in system and choose to use that model I can use it consciously to create my life with!
If I consider myself to be this being in the moment who is typing now, and my history to be something my present-tense self possesses, I can use my memory, in the present, for ideas and images to design a future to live into, and with help from others! Rather than continue to react to the past that designed how I should live at about age seven or eight or nine, I can transform my life by my own design, by choosing to do what I have been condemned to do, and use it. I can design the projects of my life, using my developed skills in surviving to bring about the results I plan to bring about for me and my friends.
I can use my personality and case history and reactivity to bring about my dreams for the future. Instead of trying to fix myself, or change my self, I can simply use my self to create the life I want—and to contribute to others the way I want. And one of the main ways I want to serve people is to present to them the possibility that we are all alike in the way I have just described—we can have either an unconscious, reactive life or a conscious, creative life.
The key is to generate a conscious vision for the use of our life. Unless we create some vision to hitch our wagon to, we automatically fall back into being controlled again by mind-made reactions and defensive moralism—based on formative experiences in which we stored ways to survive. Otherwise we are left with just our minds and beliefs and standards of operation based largely on survival in fearful circumstances. But our circumstances now are not the same as they were when we worked out how to deal with them when we were little.
Most of these ways of survival that worked when we were children no longer serve us as adults but we persist with them anyway. After we bang our heads up against the wall long enough we either (1) become more conscious or (2) join a group of permanent adolescents—as in most organized religions and political parties and their ilk—where we simply avoid thinking about it and work to keep from becoming more conscious like a God damned ignorant shit for brains Republican.
Now and then some of us transcend our childhoods and our groups of permanent adolescence called a culture. These moments of transcendence are usually temporary. Then, even after these moments of transcendent enlightenment, we become merely neurotic again, and all wrapped up in bullshit belief, just like we were before we last escaped the jail of the mind. Each time we regress to automatic survival and belief, deliverance is always at hand when we acknowledge the truth of our experience in the moment out loud, and then assign our mind a job to so it has something to chew on other than it’s own ass.
We can free ourselves from the relentless taboos and controls of our unconsciously built systems of survival through using two things: 1) honesty and 2) employing our neurotic minds to accomplish the projects we design for the future.
This transforms a life of obsessive preoccupation with survival and avoidance to a life of creating. Each of our lives becomes a conscious work of art. And a life lived in a community of people who know and practice this is the life of an artist, artfully lived.
This Life as an Artist is a choice that provides an alternative to the usual civilized and depressing way of living. To remain free of our culture means living outside of our mind in the world of noticing, and giving our mind some bone to chew on to keep it busy and out of our way.
We need to give our minds work to do, in obedience to our heart’s desire, and continue to share with each other honestly about our goals and our rackets, in order to create, and keep creating, what we want in life, consciously, together.
This conscious choice to do what one is condemned to do is called transformation. My life is transformed by my choice to serve people because the purpose of my service is no longer to manipulate and control them to get what I want based on my old story, but to contribute to them and affiliate with them toward our common vision—to be both leader and servant, usually at the same time. And that is what I want now, after all, really.
Starting from Being Already Satisfied
As a being, who notices, who lives in the moment and is satisfied in the present, I already have what I want. What I’ve got right now is enough. By giving up the demand that other people make up for how I was deprived, I stop living from unfinished business from the past and am quite happy with the opportunity to face what I’ve got in the moment, whatever the moment brings.
So, being of unsound mind and using that to create a future, (as my grandmother used to say), “I DO DECLARE!!” This is what I do declare: MY LIFE IS TO SERVE PEOPLE! (Not because I was psychologically built to be a caretaker, Jewish social worker, superman, savior neurotic, and etc. but) SIMPLY BECAUSE I FUCKING SAY SO!
Declarative speaking comes out of nowhere. I assert it. And what happens from it is because I say so, using the accident of my upbringing rather than being used by it.
This umbrella project is a declaration of intentions that the context for my life in 2016. It is also a model to be copied by others who want to use it, to inspire and empower all of us to contribute to people we know, and have the effect spread until heaven shows up on earth for all of us.
What follows now, in all the domains and projects I will list, are details about what I will bring into being out of this following vision, which is a declaration. This vision for my Umbrella Project is my life purpose statement. (You can write your own if you go to Chapter 16 in my book Practicing Radical Honesty.)
Vision: The purpose of my life is to use my perceptiveness, intelligence, love of children, love of people, love of life and sense of humor by writing books, designing and conducting workshops, giving talks, making video and audio recordings, sharing honestly with friends, being with my family, and helping with the raising of children and grandchildren in such as way as to create the possibility of a lifetime of play and service for every human being on the planet.
Because of how my family and friends and I live and raise our children and love and teach and care for them and each other, this world evolves to the place where every little baby born on earth gets welcomed into participation with the rest by being played with, loved, fed, sheltered, and interacted with in a family and community of functional, loving human beings. War ends. Pure greed based economics no longer controls government. Compassion does instead. We play in heaven.
As this vision grows from the mutual effort of millions of us, I do my part by conducting workshops, making public appearances, writing books, keeping web sites going, launching online workshops, doing television shows and actively engaging and loving my own children and grandchildren. My books, now published in 14 languages, are read and talked about and quoted by business and political and intellectual leaders of the world.
Before and after I die and get frozen and then revived through cryogenics (see the proposal that follows, in my Health and Well Being Domain, called “Come Again?”), most of my work will be to support people engaged in coordinating the work of major institutions, associations, corporations and nation states. Our job will be to consciously help evolve a system of world wide organization in which the distribution of opportunity and the distribution of wealth are coordinated to bring about the elevation of all human beings who were formerly in poverty of goods or of mind, to a luxurious minimum standard of economic and psychological security.
I will be a part of the founding group of the first world government based on stewardship of all beings and the sharing of the freedom, creativity and compassion of all of the world’s people. If we humans don’t wipe ourselves out, this is what we could have.