Monthly Archives: July 2008

The metaphysics of George Carlin

The metaphysics of George Carlin

Most people remember George Carlin for flaunting the unspeakable Seven Dirty Words on live television. Sure, he pushed the envelope and paved the way for comics like Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy. Yeah, he was Saturday Night Live's first guest host in 1975. Of course he was a prolific life-long comedian who put out 25 albums.But what I'm loving today about Carlin is something else.
I was listening to Carlin's interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and I thought I heard Deepak Chopra talking. Having just returned from traveling for a few months in India, I felt the reverberations of Indian philosophy in his words. He told Terry about his philosophy of molecular connection to all things.

(I'm paraphrasing here) Terry Gross: "Is there anything you do turn to to help provide a sense of meaning… or where you fit in or what are you doing here?"

George Carlin: "Some time ago I figured out with the help of some reading that I can't recall now that, if it's true that we're all from the center of a star, everything atom in each of us from the center of a star, then we're all from the same thing, and even a coke machine or a cigarette butt on the street in Buffalo are made out of atoms that came from a star. They've all been recycled thousands of times as have you and I. So, if that is true, and I am everywhere in the universe, in an extended sense, and therefore, it's only me out here, so what is there to be afraid of? What is there that needs solace-seeking? Nothing. There's nothing to be afraid of, because it's all us. So, I just have that as a backdrop, and I don't have to go to it or think of it consciously. I've kind of accepted the idea that I'm perfectly safe and that life, nature, have waves and troughs, ups and downs, left and right, black and white, night and day, fall and winter, positive and negative. Everything has an opposite. If I have a bad time, I'll have a good time coming. If it's a good time, I'm prepared to have a bad time to sort of pay for it. So, nothing really upsets me."

Terry Gross: "…It's kind of like a mix of narcissism and mysticism."

George Carlin: "The trouble is, we've been separated from being that universe by being born we've been given a name and an identity and being individuated and separated from the oneness, and that's what religion exploits…"

I saw Carlin for the first time on HBO's Comic Relief. When all the other eight year old girls were devouring Ramona Quimby, Age 8 books I was voraciously taking in Comic Relief over and over again, laughing at jokes I didn't yet understand.
I loved the sketches Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, and Billy Crystal did. There was a parade of comedians… Gary Shandling, Tony Danza (who told a street joke about the farmer and his favorite three-legged pig.) Sid Caesar did some physical comedy.
And then there was Carlin's routine on Stuff. With his five minutes, he packed in more jokes than most comics at clubs today. This quintessential rant on our attachment to the physical stuff that makes us feel at Home was truly brilliant.
He talked a mile a minute, he nailed every neurosis, and hit every emotional note with masterful facial punctuation. It somehow spoke to my inner cranky old guy in mid-life crisis. My parents are sort of packrats and junk-recycling artists, and whenever we traveled, it seemed we'd take enough extra stuff to set up an entire household on vacation.
This was the first time someone had taken my childhood thoughts and feelings about my parents junk-collecting and how out of control I felt, and encapsulated them into short bursts of hilarious insight in that inimitable comedian way of "saying what we're all thinking."
Listening to him gave me that sense of connectedness and oneness that Carlin talks about with Terry. And, along with Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles, George Carlin was one of the first deeply imprinted artistic influences that made me say, "That's what I want to do."

FYI: And in case you missed it, here's Carlin talking about death on YouTube.

Vision and Heart

Vision and Heart

In my creativity coaching practice, I work (and play!) with artists who want to elevate their lives to a new level.  I work with people who have never picked up a guitar but really want to play, and I work with people who are long-time artists who want to make a living at their art and finally quit their day job. 

I believe there are a million ways to be creative, and that the most important thing is to give your gift to the world.  It doesn’t matter if you make money at it or not.  That’s up to you, and if it’s your dream to make a living doing your art, I can help you with that.  Hell, if it’s your dream to make a living making sculptures from discarded subway signs, I can help you with that. 

I delight in guiding people along the path they set out for themselves.  It’s one of the most fun things in the world to watch someone truly, deeply want something, dedicate themselves to it, and achieve it.  And I’m going to tell you a secret:  the final goal is never as satisfying as the process… in fact, some of the biggest pleasures are in really feeling and articulating what you want. 

That’s why, the first thing I do with my clients is to get crystal clear on what they want.  We explore what sensations, what colors, what textures, what emotions, what values, and what truths you want to express.  We create a visual representation of that vision that you hold in your heart.  And then we create concrete aims out of that vision.  Your heart and mind are keepers of your vision, and the fire in your belly is the fuel.  When everything you do emanates from your highest vision, and your actions are aligned, you can’t help but find fulfillment, spread inspiration, and achieve your aims.

A great way to hold your vision is to make a collage.  Get a bunch of magazines, cut out the images that appeal to your deepest sense of yourself, paste them together, and then post your collage in a prominent place in your home. 


        "Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so you shall become.  Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil."

        -James Allen, As a Man Thinks

What is success for you?

What is success for you?

How many times has your concept, your idea of "success" actually gotten in the way feeling fulfilled?

Often, at a young age, we have a peak experience of freedom, aliveness, love, or fulfillment that occurs during an activity we’re doing.  And our young, child mind develops the concept that this feeling, plus this situation, plus the people around me who confirm this story, equal success. 

The truth is that the activity is the portal, the context through which we experience that expansive feeling.  And yet, as humans often do, we associate that feeling with the activity we’re doing.  Suddenly and unconsciously, it’s not, "I surrendered my body and mind to my activity, and I felt alive!" it’s, "I hit the winning home run, the entire crowd cheered, and I felt alive!"  We begin to form a concept about succeeding at baseball as the source of our aliveness.

Perhaps, years later, you "awaken" feeling unfulfilled (hopefully not, but if so, keep reading!)  Perhaps you have had a successful baseball career and yet never touched the heart of your original peak experience.  Or, you may have struggled for both success and fulfillment.  I often speak with comedians who are talented, funny, and accomplished (who also make lots of money at comedy and perform frequently), yet there is a lingering emptiness.  Often in America, we shy away from looking at this emptiness and want to leave it as soon as possible.  And yet, if we are willing to dive into the center of the "hole" in a safe context, we can come out the other side with our heart’s treasure.*

One way you can begin to release of your concept of success is to invite yourself to play again.  Set aside an hour with no interruptions and set out an open-ended activity that brings you joy.  You could play guitar, paint, make a collage, sing, roll down a grassy hill, skip rocks…  Find a way to re-create the joy, even for a few minutes, of a time when the activity was more important than the outcome.  And before you go back to your day, write about what happened during your experience and what thoughts or voices arose for you.   

        "Success is getting what you want.  Happiness is wanting what you get."

        –Dale Carnegie

*For further reading: A. H. Almaas, The Diamond Approach