Monday, July 6, 2020

You and Me Walking with Hennessy

A poem for my wife's birthday.




A stroll, a saunter, a daily journey through the park
Whether morning, afternoon, or just before dark
We mosey our way, in a timeless time gone by
Fresh legs, fresh air, open trail, open sky
Just a pooch, a couple kooks and some silly talk
Hennessy, me and you .... on our daily walk
There is no other place we'd rather be
Than you and me, walking with Hennessy

Escaping the grind of a world that has lost its mind
Let's go somewhere where there is something to find
Beyond the chaos that social media echoes out
Beyond all the voices who shout what they shout
The deluge of work, tasks upon tasks upon tasks
The silenced smiles hidden behind face masks
The riots, the lawsuits, the flame throwers, the looters
The governor whims, the orders, the stray shooters
Let us venture inward and onward towards sanity
Walking - you and me and Hennessy

On this birthday of yours, in this birthday poem gift
Let us invite in not upheaval, but rather uplift
Let us remember the illuminating light, forever sublime
Let us follow divine rhythms in every ever-flowing rhyme
Let us usher in a supreme power, found below as above
Let us embrace the one and only ever-present love
There is no other place we'd rather be
Than you and me ... walking with Hennessy

Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Invitation of the Cursor





Just look at that picture!
Is it not simply beautiful?
I sit back and just take it in.

I simply love it.

One of my favorite images I have ever seen.
  • The blank piece of paper
  • The clear, creative canvas
  • The invitation of the cursor

What I see is a wide open space, absolute unmitigated opportunity, cleared soil to plant a garden, an unconditional opening to express myself.

It's sort of like when I call up a pal and get their outgoing voicemail message.

Hmmm, voicemail? You mean I get three minutes to just speak without interruption? Just me and whatever comes to my mind? How cool is that!

Of course, knowing my audience, I know who will enjoy my creative rant and who will want to move along after 15 seconds or just immediately call back without listening to the message. (Timely side-note: thank you Andy, Jennifer, Laura).

Whereas that free three minutes can provide the open canvas to practice some creative "writing," there's nothing like that empty page of a Word Document, or a blog post, with that lovely blinking cursor.

I think it's using Morse code with that blinking. (Fact check me if need be).

It says:
  • You are free.
  • You can express yourself however you wish. 
  • You got all the time in the world.
  • I am here to listen and reflect back precisely as you've dictated.
  • Hell, we'll even put some red squiggly lines under some of your words that might need some spellcheck.
  • Don't forget to "save often."
OK, that last one may be just a stray thought I have logged after losing a document or two.

In any case, I am hoping we all have discovered our place to express ourselves. 

Where do find your blank canvas?
Who offers a clear invitation to share your life?
What opening do you find to express who you truly are?

Of course, there are those wonderful people who do this for us all.

And for me, as a writer, no matter the season, the time of day or day of the week, I also find it here: with this open page, this opportunity to reveal and share ... and this unconditional invitation of the cursor. 


James Anthony Ellis is a writer who can be found at www.LegacyProductions.org

Friday, July 3, 2020

Closing My Eyes To See



I've been practicing Transcendental Meditation for about 10 months. This piece was inspired by this journey.

I close my eyes
And I pray
In the silence, I instantly rush to a first thought
And then a second
And a third
Rapid fire
"You are not there"
"You do not care"
This anxiety and raging mind - could it be blind?
It is not kind
The surface waves crash, making thunderous sounds
Crashing and crashing
Upon the shore, and the surface of the sea
That is my mind
It is not me


I close my eyes
And I struggle
There is knocking at my heart
I hurt to even glimpse down towards chest wall
It aches for something I cannot comprehend
Not with these thoughts rushing through
And crashing
I want distraction, some temptation to guide me away
From this hurt
From this heart
From this head
And the knocking


I close my eyes
Keeping them shut
I do not move; I do not quake
I allow the waves to overtake me
As ... I ... awake
As I am submerged
Into the deeper place
A different space
Below the surface of the sea
In a world sublime
Colors
Coral

In stillness
Sunbeams silent hitting ocean floor
Could there be more?


I close my eyes
And though chaos rolls all around this bubble
That is my cave underwater
Yes
I am there
And yes I do care
It's all I really need
As heartaches soften into silence
And peace arises without a word
All that is left is all that I can be
Nothing really more to hear, think or say
It is me
Of this I pray



Thursday, July 2, 2020

Searching for the Gap


Yabadabadoo Fredflinstone GIF - Yabadabadoo Fredflinstone ...
My whole life I’ve been looking for the gap.

I'm actually looking for it right now.

And what is this gap? No, it's not the pants store.

It is the break, the time off, the vacation vibe. It's the window of time where there is no time.

It's actually the place of no time and space.


It's the gap between one obligation and another obligation.

Perhaps giving some examples and visuals may help...


I picture Fred Flintstone, upon hearing that whistle blow, screaming, "Yabadabadoo!"

I picture me walking home from 6th grade with Jamie Jordan, in mid-May, with this peace of mind knowing there was an extended summer ahead of us, full of timeless games on the lawn and long summer evenings.

I picture a family vacation to Magic Mountain, where we could run from ride to ride, especially after the sun went down when so many other folks had left the park ... leaving just us and the wild rides of the night.

I picture any holiday now - Christmas, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July - days when even the overlord government takes a day off and leaves us alone, allowing us to mainly focus on whatever it is we want.

Ah the gap.

That space that can be filled with just us and whatever our creative minds can dream up.

I recall as a college kid, after completing this immense journalism project - such as publishing an entire magazine - there would be this exhale, a sense of accomplishment, and then a belief that we could simply rest on our laurels for a bit.

How long was that "bit?" Oh, I don't know - a few weeks, maybe even a month?

I've noticed that over time, the busier I get, and the busier this world gets, the amount of time to rest on some laurels shrinks smaller and smaller.

Take yesterday for example. As soon as I finished publishing the Legacy Magazine as its editor, I spent a total of about five minutes enjoying the accomplishment ... before jumping right into the next assignment, task, obligation, deadline.

No real time to celebrate. No real opportunity to rest on laurels or on anything else. No real gap to fall into.

The deadlines encroached once again upon me, and I was off to the next task to busy this mind, pressure this heart and occupy this soul. The consistent need for income, especially as an entrepreneur with my own business, has me moving along the landscape of my life in this constant search, like a nomad, for meaningful and bountiful work. I feel like I must consistently be searching for money-making gigs in order to satisfy the money machine, which creates its own pace and non-ending supply of time-sensitive bills.

And so I long.

I long for that place I used to know, when the homework was done, the chores were complete, and I could just sit back with a David Letterman or a Conan O'Brien and just laugh a late night away. I long for the empty void of the deep night, where my creative muse greets me with a loving and gentle touch, reminding me of an eternal spring of magic.

I long for a world at sleep as I connect to something higher and bring forth words and inspiration not my own, but those of which I serve faithfully. I long for, and yet somehow avoid, the meditation and prayer that ushers me inward, ever closer, to the sublime timeless.

This is the place where I am happy and free. 

It's where I ride the Cyclone or Jet Stream of Magic Mountain. It's the drive south to San Diego on a lovely vacation trip. It's the long summer evening, playing beyond dinner time and right up until the streetlights came on. It's where I leave behind, for just the moment, the bills and financial pressures. It's the "Yabadabadoo."

And it's here where I remember. 

Yes, this is where I remember why I came here, where I came from, and the divine source of which we all originated and which we shall someday return...

... when the time is right. 


James Anthony Ellis is a writer who can be found at www.LegacyProductions.org.




Wednesday, July 1, 2020

An Update on the "One Force" For the Good of All



(Below is a link to secure a copy of "Keeping The Peace" for your local police agency).

As a US citizen, as a supporter of honorable law enforcement, and as producer of the "Keeping The Peace" movement, I do believe it is time.

Something must be done.

With unrest on the poorly governed streets, with people and businesses under fire, with homeowners having to guard their own, with officers being defunded, targeted, attacked and even killed ... this situation is gradually getting out of control.

Some mainstream media may use terms such as "mostly peaceful protests," but we are not fooled.

A nation built on laws - embracing law and order to maintain civility, peace and calm - is under attack.

Though I may come across as an alarmist, I'm still going to say I don't believe this is going to lighten up any time soon.

Not even clear exactly where all this organized chaos is originating from, I simply stand on "something must be done." And it must be done on a large scale.

Originally this project was designed to acknowledge the hard work of law enforcement, extend a hand of "officer wellness" in the form of a short educational film, and then challenge citizens and police alike to join in "one force" for the good of all.

Now we must rethink plans. The large-scale event "One Force - Keeping The Peace For All" originally set for May 2020 on the Qualcomm campus must reschedule due to imposed constraints.

Ideas presently being considered:
  • A sponsored video embracing diversity and inclusion - bringing a sense of a unified front, a common ground.
  • A 1-hour webinar guiding officers towards wellness and resiliency.
  • Market the "Keeping The Peace" video so that citizens can purchase at a discount and then gift to their local police agency.
  • Some form of large-scale campaign where those who see the vital necessity of police acknowledge the good with #thankyoublue.
Is it enough to silently support law and order in our country? 

Is it enough to hope others stand up strong so we can all have the protection we need?
is it enough there are some positive vignettes and news-blurbs here and there such as the ones found at THIS LINK?

Or do we need a movement? A campaign? Something involving you?

Perhaps these turbulent times are a simple pendulum swing that will settle in equanimity and balance. 

Perhaps some angry citizens are making their stand, and will gradually move towards resolution.

I hope so.

Either way - whether it starts to calm or continues to ramp up, whether political leaders support law enforcement or turn from it - community members will ultimately need to speak up. They will need to show their support with the drive to maintain law and order, to honor our officers ... and to keep the peace.
James Anthony Ellis is a writer and filmmaker who lives in San Diego. His short film "Keeping The Peace" can be found HERE. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Law and Order - And a Life Without It



As a producer and filmmaker, I've dedicated a portion of my career over the past two years delving into the law enforcement profession, notably in the support of the police force's mental, emotional and spiritual well-being, in what is known in the field as "officer wellness." Over the years, after being trusted and allowed into the fold as it were, I've shifted from someone who thought very little of policing and police officers to someone who realizes how challenging, how stressful, how unappreciated, and how needed their job is.

So in light of the most recent affairs - the attacks on police officers, the murdering of some officers without a mere mention, the canceling of pro-police television shows, the movement aimed at defunding or abolishing the police - I must speak up.

I can not go quietly.

And neither should you go quietly, if you have any clue about the importance of their presence, the battles these officers face day in and day out, and the vision and higher purpose the vast majority of these people hold.

Rather than focusing on the actions of one or two officers over the previous month, I'd like to start somewhere else. Let's start off with what citizens can do at this point.

Here - a brand new idea! How about we focus on what the citizens can be held accountable to in our society? How about they be held to something known as "law and order?" It's a concept that has been out there for ages; they even made a TV show about it.

Honestly, let us now call for our citizens to simply obey the law with honor, and when approached by an officer, indeed know our rights but also extend respect first and foremost. And without even being approached, let us extend appreciation for the hard job being done when we see an officer out in the neighborhood.

What would the results be then? What kind of society would we have at this point?

This relationship, grounded in respect, is a two-way street, and we can't expect one side to be accountable, while the other simply does whatever it wishes.

What has been asked of the law enforcement field is "police reform." Our president is even holding a press conference about it today, June 16. Not reported in the media or highlighted much at all is the reform work that has already been in process.

In my city of San Diego, there were strides already in place, and change was happening.
  • Body worn cameras
  • Transparency by the San Diego Police Department on officer involved shootings
  • The implementation of de-escalation courses
  • Officer wellness and mindfulness training
  • Expanding community engagement and connection with public events such as "Coffee With The Cops"
  • Working alongside California state politicians on legislature and bills regarding the use of force
It has been in the works!

I just so happen to be working hard at this time on a project that carries the concept of joining the public and police together on common ground, in what I call "One Force." MORE HERE.

Yet, you won't hear about the positive points from the media when it has flashier and more tragic news to broadcast ... when one lone psychopath human pulls such a tragic act in Minneapolis. Though the main focus lands on the outrageous and horrific, I hope to make it clear that much was already being done for the good of the profession and the community.

I have my my own reform ideas, which aren't to make policing wrong or non-existent, but rather to make it even more powerful and more appreciated. And sure, I've had my share of negative run-ins with the police:
  1. After calling the police for help with a certifiable and manipulative landlady, an officer planted the seed with the landlady of getting a temporary restraining order on me. Thanks.
  2. When I had a flat tire on the street next to my house, I was glad to park far enough away from the curb so that I could still change the tire. Even though the car was clearly on a car jack, I returned after a few minutes only to find a parking ticket.
  3. After having car trouble on the freeway, I was stranded on an off-ramp. Walking back from a gas station, I could see a policeman at my car and was relieved to believe he was there to help this stranded driver ... until I returned to see he had left me a yellow notice threatening to tow my car.
The rest of my run-ins were basic fines: one rolling stop at a stop sign, and a handful of speeding tickets. Nothing tragic, nothing to complain about, and for me nothing that would create any lasting positive impression of law enforcement.

So what changed? How would I arrive at a place where I so supported these amazing people? Two major reasons: 
  1. I imagined what a society would look like where citizens were left to their own devices, unaccountable.
  2. I worked with the officers, talked with them, and went on ride-alongs - and in the process gained a window into their own level of humanity and care. 
Regarding the former reason, it's not our interactions with officers that always matter; it's the fact a protective presence helps deter potential problems on our streets. My own neighborhood park has gone into disarray - off-leash dogs, smoking, illegal parking - because the city removed a simple park ranger.

Do we all want to find out what life would be like without some form of accountability in our nation an in our neighborhood? Are we that honorable, enlightened, awake? It's a nice thought, but I know we are not there. Look at what happens in areas where the people have taken over without policing. Without someone holding the line, our immature and unconscious populace, so far, appears to simply want to get away with whatever it can.

I recall I once went on a trip out into the desert where all these "free spirits" in this "free collective" were supposed to be all loving and sharing. Such a utopia! Instead, a dude got stabbed, some random folks stole our cooler outside our tent, and we rushed out of there as fast as we could. What a joke people can make of themselves.

Regarding the latter reason - the humanity level found within the majority of law enforcement officers - I have said it many times...

You go one thin layer below the surface of officers' game-face and professional stance, and you find the most caring and big-hearted people you will ever find in the world. Who else would run into harm's way to protect others? Who would risk their own lives, even with a target on their backs, so that others can walk the streets and enjoy some peace of mind?

Of course, this is quite a different image than we are getting fed nowadays from so many sources. 

The key to seeing the truth - besides not taking a few news stories as the broader reality - is to get below that surface layer protecting the officer. That layer exists for a good reason. And there is a reason you can’t get passed it. It is because:
  • You are judging them
  • You are screaming at them
  • You are spitting at them
  • You are calling them names
  • You are trying to hurt or kill them
  • You are lying to them 
Many people have not earned the entrance into their trust.

These are professionals who have a job to do, but they are also humans with basic human needs. These folks want to be able to go home to their families at the end of the day. They have to put up with the worst of human kind and of our society, and still hold themselves together.

What can you do to support this person?

For me, we can do well to: recognize that these are indeed human beings, know they are doing a hard job, live within the law and order that protects everyone, hold all of our brothers and sisters accountable to their best, and then offer appreciation for the job the officers do.

Oh, and one more thing: we can speak up and not go quiet at this defining moment.



James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer whose film "Keeping The Peace: Mental and Emotional Wellness for all Law Enforcement," can be found HERE.



Monday, June 15, 2020

The Art Of The Apology


From James Anthony Ellis'  upcoming book, a deep dive into the true nature of forgiveness and atonement. Here is a poetic expression regarding an act all too often misinterpreted.  

https://ggia.berkeley.edu/assets/general/Apology_2.png

The apology.
It is an art form; is it not?
How to deliver your regret?
How to bring your humility? Your responsibility?
And do so without the harsh clench of guilt, or shame or even blame.
How to deliver your regret, your pain?
Believing what you've done has affected another
Someone you call a friend, a lover, a love
How to deliver this?

Perhaps, just perhaps:
It takes a simple look, a simple prayer, a simple foundation at first
A foundation that sees us all connected
A knowing that at heart - we have not separated
A knowing that as spirit - we have not harmed a soul
But a knowing that in this physical realm - where we lean on one another and count on each other  - we can fall short
And in that falling - in that deep well we call humanity - we can bring our friend a gift
An apology
Not to make us "wrong" or "bad" or condemned to a forever hell.

But a gift that says:

·      I am a part of you.
·      I am connected to you.
·      I wish to be unified again.
·      What I've done has brought an adverse affect.
·      And for that I acknowledge my part and wish to offer regret and retribution.
·      From my deepest heart, allow me to do what I can to reinstate the One Mind and the One Power ... within us both.

This would be, indeed, a work of art ...