In the eighties I took all my earlier, darker attempts of visually documenting my life-discoveries to the dump, where I watched the scavengers come and take my “old” works. These people, poor and without any outside semblance of artistic taste, looked like pack rats scurrying off with leftover crumbs. The crumbs that were paintings made by my own blood, sweat, and tears.
That day at the dump in East Hampton, New York, symbolized the day I was ready to say “No” to the old, useless, no-longer needed part of me, and to say hello and “Yes” to the new, improved, better version of myself.
When I committed to living a sober life I wanted to start all over. A fresh start. It took awhile, but finally I was ready to do it. I loaded my car with all my pre-sober art — feeble attempts (some of them astounding really, and because I’ve always kept photographic records of my art work, none are forever lost) — to the public dump in the fancy East Hampton where I was living at the time. I hid behind some big bulging objects and watched as the gray-faced human scavengers came, and grabbed my brightly colored, weirdly surreal depictions of … dare I say … fear trying to beat up trust. What an exciting subject, eh? Not! If I had to describe what the theme of my “old, pre-sober” work was, it depicted the inner battle between me and my demons. For a subject. boring; but art work astounds without having to benefit the viewer. Nonetheless, I never regretted throwing the crap away, not for a minute.
That day, a new “me” was born: that part of myself I like to call my own Hybrid Vigor. Back when I was a botanical illustrator and assisting with Phd studies, my friend Tim Plowman — then the world’s most renowned authority on coca, the plant from which cocaine was made and the subject of the US Federa; study Harvard was involved in at the time — taught me what a hybrid vigor is, in biological terms.
“If you take two plants of a species which exhibit far superior qualities than any others, and breed them — their offspring is a new, better, vastly improved version of what their parents were. This new plant, a unique sub-species, is a hybrid vigor.”
That day at the dump — getting rid of what didn’t work for me any more, things I didn’t need — I felt reborn. My commitment to living according to a higher code of ethics became my reality. No longer would I abuse myself, nor would I allow anyone else to. I sealed that new reality by sending all my “babies,” my old art, representing years of hard work, learning, experimenting, yet unfortunately also delving in the dimensions of fear and despair, but beautifully, I’d like to think — sent it all far far away from me. By “dumping” these old works I let myself be free, be reborn. Ironically, East Hampton’s dump happens to be in one of the most affluent and fashionable towns in America, so you might be seeing some of these early works on mine as an anonymous collector’s “find” one day.
By ridding myself of what I didn’t need (about my own work, part of my own being) I willed myself to become a hybrid version of myself. I did this without having to physically die and be reborn, to my great good fortune!
I know, I know, this all sounds very fantastical, but this is the way I prefer to see life, as magical, and ever-changing. All things possible, and all that. Technicalities aside, I did become a better, improved version of myself that day.
And so I put to each and every person I can communicate with: you too can become a hybrid vigor version of your old former, no longer needed self, and give birth to your new Self, just by wanting to
When the day arrived, in 1984, when I was ready to get real, get honest, and put down the two decades of trying to self-annihilate the innate sense of connectedness I’d had since childhood (and which I’m sure all children are born with, before losing it due to life’s outside circumstances) — the time had arrived, two years before the dump episode, when I finally decided to get sober. It took that long for me to get clear enough, in my mind, that letting go of old stuff was what I needed to do. Finally, when I took my old “babies” to the dump and gave them to perfect strangers, that’s when I really started living for my true life’s purpose. This what I mean by the “hybrid vigor” version of myself. Not the old, blaming, shamed, victim-one I’d been for thirty-six years previously.
Something similar as what happened to me goes on all the time with the rest of the world. Demons abound. In people and in governments, but like my own former demons (the subjects of my old work), they’re all illusions.
When stress or crisis strikes, we humans have to let our fears out. We have to watch ourselves scream, demand change, prepare to battle the demons, and make known to everyone that evil does not deserve to reside on earth without a damn good fight. We who have conquered our own demons must help others to not hide theirs within their hearts. Or blame others for what every person alive has the power to change within themselves.
My hybrid vigor self says this: Express the fear, speak about it, share with others. And in that the Light of consciousness will dissipate whatever demon you have, whatever mask fear wears, simply by no longer allowing it to be hidden within your stony, hopeless heart.
Do not pretend fear doesn’t exist. Let our society, our trusted leaders and elected officials know that each and every one of us is responsible for the state our social climate has sunk to. If we see, hear, or feel someone to be mentally in a fragile, dangerous state of murderous rage, it’s our responsibility to get involved. To ask that person who’s in distress if they want help, then go for help. Hybrid vigors speak our fears aloud, because then, because they are not real, the ugly demons inside us run and hide and disappear from the Light of awareness being pointed at them by our own inner Light.
Our job as human beans is not to be paranoid, or worse, pretend fear doesn’t happen. Our job as hybrid vigors is to celebrate great and glorious things, yes! but also to face the evil shadow that lurks beneath the fabric of everyday life and call it what it is — demonic. And then prepare to do battle to slay the demons, one by one, until they are all gone.
I sometimes like to think of we awakened hybrid vigors as “the Army of Love” and I’m one of its active lieutenants. This images makes me smile. So I’ll keep working with that idea.
When more of us (the Army of Love increasing every day with the awakening of humankind happening in vast numbers) can all admit that yes, there is a shadow of hatred in some hearts, we can lovingly help each other heal from this breach, this tear in the fabric of our toxic, fear-filled world. With each unfortunate, next violent senseless action, another rip happens in the fabric of our human civilization, as if our Oneness is a gigantic weaving of humanity. We are all One. We can help each other heal, re-build trust, mend our brokenness, but only when we’re able to admit that fear must be spoken about, in order to eradicate it. Only then we’ll come to trust that love is much much stronger than hate.
Fear remains in our hearts when we haven’t owned how we are all responsible for helping each other to climb higher, let go of mistrust and embrace a higher way of living. Hybrid vigors helping others to peel off their lesser shells, and step out into the Light of their new, better, higher Selves.
Together, we will get over our individual and collective fears. As hybrid vigors we will all thrive on the same level of awareness — of openness to our highest potential. We must trust that Universal Love, also called Compassion, and Oneness. Love in its most expansive, inclusive form is bringing us together for a reason.
We must never pretend that all is well when it’s so obvious that our society is sick. Every bit of energy we spend to help heal our human condition is worth the endeavor.
First, we must firmly believe our world, its environment, humankind’s fear-based structures, are completely heal-able. This fact of our toxicity is proven each times a person, or a leader, goes off, gets unkind, does scarry and unreasonable things with others’ trust. When life’s evil and darkness is revealed, like it is during a mass shooting, or a bizarre politic event as have occurred in recent time, we must trust that the worst, most depraved individual can be mended. And if one person can change themself into a hybrid vigor, so can all of us.
Every person who has ever put down a negative, addictive way of thinking, for instance, is proof of that.
When the world comes together by means of our combined, positively-focused minds, focused on fostering healing energies instead of endless manifestations of fear — our world will take the giant leap to our next step in spiritual evolution.
Send healing wherever it’s needed. Even to the most deranged, hopeless individual. Even to a scary leader whose volatile nature nobody trusts.
The group is much greater than any individual. We are all connected.
We can heal anything. We can spread the balm of love as surely as some try to deny its existence.
How can I say these things?
Because it is my reality. It is how I have chosen to see life. After experiencing the other side, I have the authority to speak like this. I no longer care what others think of me. Fear leads nowhere but to self-destruction and I no longer choose that. People kill other people because they want the ultimate control over whether they live or die. Control and and Kindness are antithetical. If a controller can’t control others by simpler means, they sometimes do simply because they don’t have the courage to end their own lives, the ultimate control one has over themselves: taking themselves out. Suicide.
We can heal any darkness by focusing on the Light. Speak uplifting, kind words to one another. Spread joy and hope; say no to fear, blame, and anger. It takes practice, but changing fear into trust is the way I have sworn to live. There is no other choice for me. And I’m willing to take whatever consequences may arise, as a result of my being so sure that allowing ourselves to become a hybrid vigor, right in this lifetime, is the saving grace, the future of humankind’s survival.
Call me crazy, but I’d rather be crazy within infinitely expanding love than frozen with constricting fear. That former life of mine sucked.