A Peephole into my Reality Tunnel
Conversations on Consciousness
Hey folks. This is just a quickie to let you know about The Present Dimension Podcast, a series of conversations my partner Molly and I have been doing in recent months.
As previously announced here, The Present Dimension is the creative brand which runs adjacent to this magazine. While what you read here is always rooted first in the written word, The Present Dimension Podcast, conversely, is driven by the power of conversation.
Thus far Molly and I have talked to musicians, poets, therapists and more, diving into their stories and their ideas through the same filter of consciousness which has marked what you've heard here over the last year. Similar gist, but simply through the iris of others.
Having landed in North Carolina a year ago with a non-existent social network, the project of finding comparably-curious souls has proven surprisingly exciting. Making friends as an adult is its own adventure, and The Present Dimension Podcast has been part of that process.
Perhaps Life simply is the function of all the people we meet.
You can check out these conversations on Spotify or Apple Podcasts or at ThePresentDimension.com.
Finally, regarding these emails, I always invite your feedback: Is there something you'd like more of? Questions you want answered? Mysteries which demand pondering 🤔 ? Let me know.
Thanks for your support and have a stellar day.
This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit thispresentmoment.substack.com
The winter nights were dark until Christmas came to play,
Then strings of squinty stars lined every window frame.
All plugged in, Suburbia would electrify in glow,
Illuminating diamonds sparkling in the snow.
The lights, the love, the pristine pines, red bows and mistletoes,
Our little world was swirled into a Hallmark snow-globe.
A candy-cane cacophony of sugar snow and gifts,
This wonderland met its myth in the man who had the list:
A bearded saint, we were told, knew of all our wishes—
who we were and if we were good—with a God-like omniscience.
And unlike dusty legends now dead to time,
We left cookies for Santa: He was very much alive.
I recall one Christmas Eve, amidst crisp midwest wind,
My eyes saw some moving light that could have—possibly—been him:
A celebrity sighting up in the sky! Look! It's St. Nick!
(The drift of distant satellites blinks like Rudolf to us kids.)
Everything was possible inside our boundless minds:
We Believed it when Nat King crooned that "reindeers can fly."
With such imagination I would sit beneath our tree
Plucking off its ornaments to make-believe littles scenes.
Kermit the Frog, some plastic kitsch, was my heroic figurine.
He'd glide through all the branches to save his tree-crossed Queen.
And all of it felt real, a free flow of belief.
A reality we created through the one our mind's see.
The years carried on and we left that world behind,
As cold rationality clogged those magic minds.
Like when Pan returns for Wendy, to fly to Neverland,
And she replies: "Peter, I am Old ... I can't."
Those memories of guileless possibility
Seem some distant miracle to a grown man like me.
Now we may not be so young, but Christmas never changed.
It's still all red with gingerbread and the elves still look the same.
There's this Christmas-y motif which we collectively create—
A sphere of sounds and senses centered around this date,
A global covenant bigger than its Faith,
Like the whole world jingles if just for a day.
I don't know much history about this holiday.
We're told it's some dude's birthday—a holy man, they say.
A carpenter out of Nazareth who simply served and loved,
And realized our potential to channel kindness from above.
Sure, it's been commercialized and diluted into goo,
But the Spirit which speaks through it is the realization of this truth.
It's that spark of meaning lit inside of Scrooge,
Or how the Grinch's heart grows to make him someone new.
It's that oft-forgotten Knowledge It's a Wonderful Life:
That we're all angels earning wings, trying to do what's right.
And as Clarence reminds us, 'No man is poor who has friends.'
Perhaps real wealth is Community in the end.
And of course we all know that December bath of cheer,
Where chipper songs about chestnuts steal 'n tickle our ears.
How every melody and caroler's so merry it's almost weird,
As if Christ—whoever he was—is through the music somehow here.
Like under every Christmas song is a divine little twirl,
A smirk from his reality that sings joy to the world.
Today we gather under those old creeds,
Even as we blabber and eat mindlessly
And open random presents we don't really need.
But we find such triviality are the binds of family,
Where the tiniest dearest thing holds something sweet—
As we sit around a table enjoying my mom's toffee.
All the while a star shines atop a tree,
Winking to a child who beams in full belief
That his world will be lifted to magic on this night,
As a song behind him whispers, "Let your heart be light."
And when he becomes King he may reclaim this bliss,
Which hides inside the simple phrase: Merry Christmas.
This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit thispresentmoment.substack.com
Into the Mystic
Last month, the actor William Shatner was launched beyond the Texas skies via Blue Origin, the nascent rocket company helping pave the way for a new era of civilian space travel. At 90 years old, Shatner—aptly famous for playing Captain Kirk on Star Trek—became the oldest person to ever exit Earth's atmosphere. After piercing through the stratosphere, floating above it weightlessly, and looking down at our planet, the TV icon emotionally recounted what was a transformative experience:
"To see the blue color go whoop! by—and now you're staring into blackness!" he exclaimed. "That's the thing!" He goes on:
This covering of blue ... this blanket, this comforter of blue that we have around us ... Suddenly you shoot through it—as if you whip off a sheet while you are asleep—and you're looking into blackness. You look down and there's the blue down there, and the black up there ... [Down] there is Mother Earth and comfort, and [up] there is ...
He pauses, puzzled. "Is there death?" he wonders, pondering what the black beyond our sky holds.
"Is that the way death is? Whoop and it's gone? Jesus! It was so moving to me."
Captain Kirk's whole monologue is worthy viewing, for it's a message which beams upwards towards a most inspired future: the ever nearer possibility that we and the universe become one.
In 1902 William James released the immensely influential book Varieties of Religious Experience. It was and remains a landmark synthesis of psychology and spirituality. The book investigates the various interior phenomena which accompany what is known as "the mystical experience."
The "mystical experience" is, by James' account, almost impossible to define. It is in the truest sense ineffable.
... But words are all we got right now! So, James said that the first marker of a mystical state of consciousness is that we can't articulate it. It evades language. Poetry can gesture at it, but basically ya-had-to-be-there.
As we will find, this was a mystical experience being had by Mr. Shatner. "I can't even begin to express ... " he says, struggling to lay words on the indescribable. "This experience is something unbelievable."
In fact, astronauts have their own term for this: The Overview Effect is a well-documented shift in awareness often realized by travelers who exit the reality tunnel of Earth. To witness our world from a wider perspective stirs man into "an explosion of awareness," as put by Apollo 14 pilot Edgar Mitchell. He describes:
There was suddenly a very deep gut feeling that something was different. It occurred when looking at Earth and seeing this blue-and-white planet floating there, and knowing it was orbiting the Sun, seeing that Sun ... set in the background of the very deep black and velvety cosmos, seeing—rather, knowing for sure—that there was a purposefulness of flow, of energy, of time ... in the cosmos … I suddenly [saw] the universe as intelligent, loving, harmonious.
This Overview Effect bears the indelible markers of the mystical, a tilting of the mind which reveals some magnificent meaning beyond the veil.
In fact, Edgar Mitchell was so changed by his experience that he ended up devoting the rest of his life to studying the science of human transcendence. He explains:
When I got back to Earth I started digging into various literatures to try to understand what had happened. I ... eventually discovered it in the Sanskrit of ancient India. The descriptions of samadhi ... were exactly what I had felt ... An overwhelming sense of oneness and connectedness … accompanied by an ecstasy … an epiphany.
Such experiences of unity consciousness—whether we call them samadhi (via Eastern philosophy) or mystical (from Western)—are the common seed out of which all religion bursts. They entail a noetic insight, as William James called it, which brings about an intense realization of meaning which reaches, it would seem, well beyond the boundaries of the brain. The function of life death an
Modern life is tug-of-war between the digital world and the natural world. For some of us the pull is the daily news, for others it's Instagram. Perhaps for you it's your inbox or the financial markets or the metaverse or whatever turns you on. Most of us are victim to some covert digidiction (digital-addiction) which tempts our minds into a wormhole of endless satiation.
I have many of these technological hair-triggers, which rip me from the present and drop me into a digital mist of my own choosing. My favorite is certainly YouTube, which offers me mindless relief with the movement of a finger.
Bored? Anxious? Tired? Pissy? There's a remedy for it all! Just open YouTube and Boom!—an hour-long interview with Bob Dylan that I didn't know I needed! Phew! As the video begins, my digital desire is satiated and I can finally tune out of that tactile world around me.
Whether it's on our phone or the TV, this digital datascape offers solace from the real world by proffering us a fake one.
Of late I've dove body-first into Bikram yoga. I leave my phone in the car, turn down the day and enter into a space void of this digital haze permeating so many parts of my life. In Bikram yoga, one embodies 26 postures over the span of 90 minutes in a room heated to 105 degrees. It's basically a super intense stretching session in a sauna. It's as stifling as it sounds, but this roasting is designed to loosen the body and strengthen the mind. And it works!
To maintain this simmering studio, the yoga instructor places an oblong blockade underneath the door to prevent cool air from sneaking into the space. Bikram is one big heat trap.
But occasionally someone sneaks out to refill their water, and as the door swings open a brief wave of crisp air unexpectedly clutches my skin. Ahhhh. 😌 For just a moment I'm awash with the tender touch of this fresh wind, teasing me with the relief that will reward me beyond the studio doors.
Certainly you've felt the cooling power of an unforeseen breeze on a sweltering summer day. It soothes our senses, calms our minds and refreshes us in a manner more deeply-drawn than anything we find inside a screen.
On such sweltering summer days, I occasionally enjoy a masochistic afternoon run in the peak of the midday humidity. By the time I return home I am of course so blazingly thirsty that a cup of ice water brings bliss to my body and a break to my brain. When we really need it—when it is earned—there is nothing more nourishing than a simple gulp of water.
I recall my daily jogs up New York's East River wherein, after six sticky miles, I would be so desperate for H2O that I would cast my eyes to the river, and in its sun-gleamed waves I would envision myself becoming a boating captain. Literally, I would begin to believe that my next career move should be to pursue a life at sea. "Water! Water! Water!" I would dream.
Eventually I would arrive back home and violently fill two glasses with ice. The feeling of frosty water kissing my lips, caressing my tongue, and tracing down my throat like a glacier into my stomach is an elation unrivaled inside the air conditioned comforts of our digital day.
Of course, after quenching my thirst, my fisherman dreams would dissolve and I'd trudge back to my computer for "work."
At present I'm sitting on my porch while my dog lays in the front yard basking in the pleasant September sun. A rambunctious pooch unfit for our unfenced yard, Rooh spends most of her days indoors. But like any animal—and that includes humans— she's most relaxed when given the time to revel in the warm embrace of the midday sun. As it beats against her fur and her body breathes against the grass, I know she is happy. And as the wind streaks against my flesh, I am happy with her.
Later I will inevitably play fetch with her. She will get thirsty and eventually seek the cool air inside, where a refreshing bowl of water awaits her.
Within these delights we find our common roots—man
The Present Dimension
Hey there! Forgive my hiatus, but I was stirring up something I'm very excited about.
I am thrilled to announce the launch of a new brand I've created:
In the loosest sense, THE PRESENT DIMENSION is a type of lifestyle brand. It's an adaptable agency designed to explore and expand consciousness—in whatever form that takes.
For instance, this writing series itself is a sort of bloodline to the brand. The ideas we explore here give life and conviction to the ethos of this new company.
Because beyond being just a name, "The Present Dimension" is also a living philosophy which articulates a genuine 'dimension' of our individual and collective reality.
It's what I call a Universal Space.
The Present Dimension: A Universal Space
This Moment is the pinpoint where the past culminates
And flips inside out into the future we create.
In this present flippening, the world stands still
And a whole new Dimension is suddenly revealed.
It's that collective magnetism that joins us in breath
As we gaze up at the wirewalker dancing over death.
It seeps out in the gleam of a newborn baby's eyes,
Or from the pregnant pink of a new day's morning sky.
It slides through every Moment, and hides in the mundane,
Like the multicolored prism beams from a drop of rain.
It's the waterway to Love—and it resurrects our Inspiration,
As a line drifts towards rhyme in divine collaboration.
This Dimension's all around, yet it's always freshly found.
Like an inner-diamond dug from our ancient common ground.
It may tease us with a twinkle, or arrest us in luster
When some strange providence ignites our Sense of Wonder.
Each journey finds its road is lit by glints of glory,
As cosmic coincidence casts meaning onto our Story.
Put more simply, it's the Feeling of Being Awake—
To the Beauty that flows from the folds of every day.
Whatever makes us feel alive, whatever passions capture us,
Whatever flutters of the heart lift us and enrapture us,
Any Moment of Awe, or natural human connection
Can be a Turnkey to The Present Dimension.
And if we choose to Meet each other in this Center-Place,
We'll greet a grander world in a fantasia of embrace.
For there's a timeless mystery within this very Moment.
And when our eyes are Open, it Shines in — And we Know it.
It's breathing air. Its body's there. A Kingdom comes clear:
You're Alive. We're Alive. Wake Up! We are here.
This Brand is a wayfinder that gestures towards that ↑ dimension.
Another leg of this brand is apparel. We're beginning with a line of premium tee shirts sourced from an inspiring manufacturer named Known Supply. Known Supply's all about ethical fashion production, and each of their shirts are hand-signed on the tag by whoever crafted it.
And bringing this personal touch into even more immediacy, I've had the shirts embroidered across the chest—by a local artisan here in Asheville—with the phrase Presence is Power.
In a world drowning in Noise,
We each have the Choice
To rise above the chaos
And use Presence as our Voice.
From the original hand-maker to the embroiderer to The Present Dimension, each step of these shirts' creation has been infused with a human touch. And now it's your turn to carry on that spirit.
As you can see, The Present Dimension is many things: Aside from being a brand and a philosophy—this is also an art project. It's also an experiment in language. It's also, at its most metaphysical, a participatory hologram aimed at drawing a vibrational hyper-space out of the morphic field which—Ah, I digress! More on that one some other time! 😜
But at its most personal, The Present Dimension is a prism to shine Life through. What beams out the other end is the wonder within you.
The process of developing this brand has been the most enriching experience. I must thank Nick Gertonson for assisting me with the web side of it all—a more generous friend I could not ask for. And thanks to my loving partner, Molly, who's intuition and support is a well o
The Glow of Summer
Welcome back to a summery edition of This Present Moment
Preface: June 2021
The Year is born out of winter, and Spring brings it to bloom.
Its flowering unfurls into this month of June.
Now, Life is everywhere. The Year is finally grown.
It's matured into Summer, its splendor fully shown.
As the Earth has opened up, so too have we.
Suddenly there's crowds babbling in the streets.
Live music's traveling, filling the evening air,
Carrying a Normalcy back into our ears.
America's regaining her collective senses.
She's stretching out her legs and kneading out the tension.
Our faces feel free, our bodies touch when we meet,
And the bounding Pulse of Life once again beats.
Summer's here again, and so too are we.
We reunite with friends and hug our families.
And we all play together, in dreams forevermore,
In the sacred common ground of our Great Outdoors.
The Glow of Summer
You Know that Feeling during a Perfect Day of Summer?
Where everything around seems to burst with Life and Color.
A glimpse out of your window strokes your heart to flutter,
And you're seduced to go outside, as if glanced by a lover.
This universal invitation of a Perfect Day of Summer
Calls forth a world of Strangers to commune with one another.
Like everyone has joined in worship of the weather.
It is this clever way in which the Earth brings us together.
Sometimes those Summer Days arouse a kind of glow,
A joie de vivre which follows everywhere you go.
You find you're greeting passersby with genuine Hello's,
And sometimes they'll reciprocate as if they too glow,
Like they are vibing with you in that Summer Flow.
On the specialest of Days this multiplies and grows,
Like some secret's got around and everybody Knows.
Because everybody senses that vivacious Summer glow.
As an example I recall a certain memory:
It was a Perfect Day and I was vibing on that energy.
Prospect Park, in Brooklyn, was dancing with activity.
I stood amidst a meadow, surrounded by the synchrony
Of many little characters in their own little lives,
Culture's many dots in a portrait pointillized:
A Hipster tickled his Son, a Fat Man pushed through a run,
Yogis moved to djembe drums, and a dog basked in the sun.
It was as if The Artist had painted a Perfect Day,
Like George Seurat's "Sunday on La Grande Jatte."
There's something simply Right about a World at Play,
Where the whole Human Drama lifts above the fray.
The meadow felt in perfect balance, like fireflies at night
Who from a frenzied flurry flash together in one light.
Hiding in simplicity is Beauty beyond compare.
We almost always miss it, but it's always right there. ☞
As I took in this Moment, a disabled man came my way.
"Developmentally challenged" I think is what we say.
He bounced on towards me as elated as can be,
Radiating out this innocent giddy.
He beamed me a few words: "It's a Beautiful Day!"
"Yes it is," I said. And he skipped along his way.
It was the tiniest exchange, but the realest connection,
To meet him in vibration in that Present Dimension.
At my worst I can get swindled into that illusion
That for my wits and intellect I am somehow more "human."
This man and me are given different looks by our society.
I, with my "intelligence," am privileged to its niceties.
He we can't make "sense" of, so we offer him our pity,
As if our hard-scrubbed Vanity will keep our conscience pretty.
But this charade falls away and the walls come down
In that lifting of the lid of the Here and Now.
We all share in this secret, yet we all forget we Know.
But on the Best of Days you may feel it start to grow.
Rising from the Earth it thus blossoms to bestow
A reminding spark of Radiance which sets the world aglow.
There is something sacred in a Perfect Day of Summer,
When Man lets luminosity and timeless Beauty govern.
It takes hold of his consciousness and Life feels rediscovered,
And just for that brief Moment, Paradise is uncovered.
This story took place in a meadow near the southern end of Prospect Park.