Freak Flag Activism

 

When I started going to Burning Man, almost 20 years ago, its place in culture was different.

It was underground. It was secret. It was taboo.

Now it is a part of cultural mainstream with frequent TV mentions and Buzzfeed lists of “Top Celebs at this year’s Burn”

20 years ago you could read everything publicly written about it in an hour and still have no idea what it was.

Now there are over 5 million Burning Man videos on YouTube.  (Of course, you could watch them all and still have no idea what it is.)

20 years ago digital photography was brand new and nobody had cell phones.  You could walk around naked and be confident nobody would see it in the default world.  

Now people post to Instagram all week long. Your corndog fellatio escapade could be a viral sensation before Burn Night.  Privacy is *not* one of the ten principles.

20 years ago, admitting to going to Burning Man was career suicide.

Now, so many respectable people have gone to (and praised) the event, that participating can be a badge of honor – if not a hiring requirement.

20 years later Burning Man plays a much different role in our culture. And I believe it has never been more important.

Radical Self Expression is no longer a decadence.  It is now critical activism.

We are the seed banks of culture – preserving diverse thinking and creativity.

As a cultural ice age takes its grip – we must persevere.  We must keep the fires going.

We must maintain our humanity by expressing our creativity.  It is our creative expression that makes us more than greedy, over-groomed monkeys.

I’m talking about true creative expression. Authentic expression.

That which may not be appreciated by the mainstream.

Because it is in these fringe nether regions where the transformational ideas take root. Outside-the-box thinking will only thrive when people are supported when they stray outside the status quo.  

And we may be entering an era when radical thought is ridiculed and persecuted.

But a bloodline and a culture both need to avoid inbreeding to stay healthy.  “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” said Albert Einstein.  So, without a healthy culture of non-traditional thought, we are doomed to stagnate in our woes.

Making art has never been so important. Living artistically has never been more courageous.

Now is when we step into our warrior roles.  

Fighting is more than throwing rocks and carrying signs.  It is staying weird, open-hearted and deviant – while the status quo is trying to crush you.  
Buckle-up Burners.  

Intro email to a coaching client

“Just to put it out there:  Personally, I often get the instinct to want to impress people, especially ones who impress me. But I want you to know that I love you profoundly, already. Your truth is perfect. Nothing you have ever done is a failure to me. No quirk is a weakness. Whatever you you are called to share is welcome.  If it is honest, it is impressive.
And I will work on remembering that for myself, as well.”

Authenticity. Create. Focus. Own. Honor.

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(click to hear me tell this story out loud)

On New Year’s Day, I was soaking in a heated pool with friends.
Sharon suggested a game. “What single word would you choose to be your mantra for 2017?”

David said, “Authenticity.”
I couldn’t help but smile. I met him a year ago and have watched as his life has transformed. Witnessed his courage as he made tough life choices in the pursuit of his truth. Now in the middle of divorce and uncertainty, he has a childlike glow about him. “I feel like I just woke up from a 15 year coma,” he said with wide eyes. “I’m having the best life of my life,” he told me all night long.

Edward ’s word was, “Create.”
Earlier, Edward had shared with me his feelings going into 2017. He had a fire and excitement that was contagious. The landscape is ripe he told me. “There has never been a better time for courageous creative expression!” he stated fiercely. His sentiment was echoed by a number of people throughout the night. It was such a good perspective for me to hear. So much energy had been spent lamenting 2016 that it was hard to avoid an element of dread as we begin the new year. But there is great fertility in chaos. Rather than walk into 2017 timidly, we should charge boldly make our voices heard.

Sharon shared, “Focus.”
“With so much inspiration and so many ideas pulling my attention, I find myself struggling to finish projects,” she explained. Everyone in our circle smiled and nodded. She also shared insights from a recent TED talk about how social media can affect brain receptors in the same way that drugs do. The world of 2017 is bursting with bright shiny things, dark prickly things, and a billion avenues of wonder. Without restraint, discipline, and focus we can never develop our skills, projects, and ideas to their potential.

Madison said “Own.”
“I am taking on a lot in 2017, and I need to own it. When I get to a place of doubt, I will remember that I can do it. I am enough.” Among so many friends, it is easy to remember. But on the dark and lonely nights our selves can feel much smaller. It can be easy to question our paths. I have an ego voice that taunts me at times with, “Who are YOU to write that book? Who are YOU to think you have something worthy to share?” I have to remind myself that I am the best me there has ever been. If I am trying to be a pro bowler, then “who are you?!” is a valid question. But if I pursue my truth, it is impossible to fail. I am the perfect person. I am the only person who can. I am enough.

When the game was introduced, the word “Surrender” immediately popped in my head. It has been my “go to” mantra for some time. When in doubt, surrender. Trust the flow. Trust my heart. Trust the universe. “Float more, fear less.”
But as each person shared, I was inspired deeper. Was there a word that would better serve me for 2017, specifically?

All of their words resonated deeply with me. Authenticity. Create. Focus. Own.
Pursue my truth.
Express from that truth.
Be committed to that expression.
Know that I am the perfect vehicle for that expression.

After sitting with these words, I have changed my word for 2017. (Oh, “Surrender” is still my primary. My life partner and rock. But we have an open relationship. I am poly-syllabic.)

My word for 2017 is “Honor.”

I will honor myself. I will honor my talents. I will honor the gift of this life.
I will honor my potential enough to be disciplined.
I will honor the divine enough to fully express my truth.
I will honor the opportunities of my privilege for the greater good.
I will honor my body temple enough to embrace healthy practices.
I will honor the gifts of my open heart, kind eyes, thriving body, and truthful words to do what I am meant to do: Spread Love.

Authenticity.
Create.
Focus.
Own.
Honor.

What is your word for 2017?

2016 Year in Review

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I like to look back each year and remember some of the major events. (Here is 2015’s, 2014’s and 2013’s lists) And here’s what happened to me in 2015:

Spoke at Lucidity, Burning Man, Trilogy, MOPS, Nephew Carter’s Classroom

Participated in LiB, YOUtopia, Symbiosis

Participated in my 1st International Regional Burn – Blazing Swan (Western Australia) 

Went to SF Decom and LA Decom.

Contributed more ‘Tips & Tricks” to the Burning Man Blog.

Attended Wisdom 2.0 (for 3rd year)

10th Aniversary of “The Pink Ride”

1st Saturdays – Celebrated our 6th year. Restarted 501c3 process.

1st Saturdays Antelope Valley started with gusto.

Spent  week at The Generator in Reno.

Attended Burning Man Philosophical Symposium 

Went out at did FREE HUGS for the 1st time.

Produced 23 Awesome News Network videos

Enjoyed a wonderful family reunion in Streamboat Springs, CO. (Went to my first rodeo!)

Started using outsourcing labor to improve my art/videos (transcribing and titles)

“Gift of Life” song came out from Blessed Beats / Dj Leif (with audio from Grandpa Caleb)

 

Appeared on Several podcasts of inspiring people

Consistently did the Hug Nation audio podcast. (on itunes & Soundcloud)

Beer Bottle Hunt went viral – (10 million views

HalcyonStyn YouTube channel broke 10K subscribers

Made a Morning Blessing MP3

Participated in Movember, raised a little $

Did the “Burning Man Regifting Project” experiment.  Raised $600 & spread dusty joy.

Had more hope, and more despair for the future than ever before. Most drastic year ever. Shared more tears online than ever before.

I’m so grateful to have shared this year with you. I love you.

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A Once Mighty Orange Tree

oranges

In my parents’ backyard, there was a magnificent orange tree. When I was a kid it was a barren seedling. But it grew to 10 feet tall and bushy with lush, healthy branches. Every year it would fill the yard with fragrant blossoms and then produce hundreds of big, juicy fruits.

Every visit to my parents would end with them handing me a bag or two of citrus. You never had to worry about scurvy in my house.

Then, two years ago, the tree got sick. It developed some fungus that traveled up its trunk and branches. The leaves became sparse, displaying a sickly web of sticks and thorns.

But it was still alive.

And the next summer it, once again, produced tons of fruit.

But the oranges were different. They were significantly smaller, and packed with seeds.

It was as if the tree knew it was dying.

It knew that it’s days of producing fruit were numbered.

Whereas it originally tried to produce the most delicious and appetizing fruit possible, now it was focussed on survival.

How can I preserve my bloodline?

So it made seed creation it’s number one focus. Changing the very structure of its fruit to address the situation.

“My time on this earth is almost done… go forth, children, and multiply!”

Jesse Gros posted today, “What’s the earth’s vision for our planet? We know the people’s vision… we are living it.” But what is the Earth’s vision?

I thought of that dying tree.

I wonder how many other places this biological reaction is happening?

What other shifts are occurring because of environmental distress?

Is the spreading of plant medicines from jungles through the industrialized world the planet’s immune system kicking in? Could shamans and ancient wisdom be traveling through the world like white blood cells? In Ayahuasca ceremonies and mushroom trips, is the planet healing unhealthy patterns and re-programming its cancerous human cells?

As sickness threatens the planet, could the explosion of conscious awakenings be Gaia’s attempt to “make more seeds?” So that even if this tree gets so sick that it can no longer produce fruit, the seeds will travel beyond the time and space of that specific tree. And the seeds of human consciousness will not be bound to the time and space of this sick planet in this specific dimension.

Or maybe I should just quiet my mind and savor the juicy, sweet magnificence of an orange.

Vote with your dollar

In addition to petitions and calls, I encourage everyone to do some “voting with your dollars” this week to causes that call to you.
Here are some places I’m personally supporting:
(Feel free to post organizations you believe in *that you have personally gifted money to recently.*)

#noDAPL
https://www.gofundme.com/standingrockcomposttoilets
http://www.redlightning.org/standingrock/
http://www.ocetisakowincamp.org/donate

Net Neutrality
http://donate.fightforthefuture.org

Civil Rights
https://action.aclu.org/secure/protect-peoples-rights-liberties

Men’s Health
http://MoBro.co/HugNation

Human Evolution
http://agapelive.com/store/donate-to-agape/

Facebook Filter App Developer
http://www.fbpurity dot com/

+ private gifts to friends in need.

#noDAPL

My Facebook feed is full of updates from Standing Rock and a number of my friends have even gone to join the water protectors.   If you are unfamiliar with the situation, watch the 1st video.
If you are unaware of the violence the peaceful demonstrators are receiving, watch the second video.  Facebook Life broadcasts last night showed Militarized Police using water cannons in sub-freezing temps, shooting rubber bullets and tear gas.

It must suck to be a grade school teacher this week figuring out a Thanksgiving-themed lesson plan.
“Teacher, aren’t we spraying the peaceful, praying Native Americans with water cannons in sub-freezing temps, shooting tear gas canisters, and shooting them with rubber bullets in Standing Rock RIGHT NOW, in 2016?”

“Shhhhhhhh….just keep tracing that hand. See? It’s a turkey!”

(Detailed coverage of last night’s violence)

The Unofficial Blog of John Halcyon Styn