"I dream of a time when we are no longer limited by systemic roles (brick-in-the-wall type work), in the name of accumulating tokens, and are instead free to follow our own passions and curiosities and develop them according to our will, and contributing toward the whole in a manner which brings everyone joy. I feel that 'the system' might be slowly evolving into something that could afford us all such. To me wealth is free-time, options, choices, and doing what you please when you like. I know within my soul that it is the birth right of all humanity."
Another young blood with an old soul, this spirited video blogger, poet, writer and revolutionary is all about spreading the message of truth, freedom and love to all he meets with Facebook and YouTube as his main platforms. Charles Town is just in his 20s but already he is devoting much of his time on spiritual formation and on seeking deeper truths about the world at large. This inner work has led him to invoking and channeling the many wisdoms he shares on a regular basis ... with emphasis on ascension, what it means to him and how to prepare oneself physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually for all the changes related to it. He is here to assist us all in raising our vibes. He is also a huge advocate of plant medicine, sun gazing, meditation, yoga, Martial Arts, animal care and raw food.
I think just the fact alone that some very young people like Charles are here on Earth right now, empathetic, 'in tune' and driven by inspired action, just roaming the planet, cleaning up the house and doing what they're doing at a very crucial time in history gives us all a clue as to what the future is going to be like -- BRIGHT and VIBRANT and EXCITING... and a glimpse of what kind of world we are about to witness, if we simply open our eyes and ears and hearts a little bit more to their boundless love and light, we'll find that EVERYTHING'S GONNA BE OKAY.
WHO IS CHARLES TOWN? WHERE IS HE NOW ON HIS JOURNEY?
My life has brought me many places and has been very miraculous at times. I’ll start by mentioning my OBE (out-of-body experience) as a child which affirmed a certain fluidity and strangeness of life which lead me down peculiar paths. I started to become more conscious of these paths while I was studying at the University of Iowa. I was around my third year in school then, studying Finance, when I started “waking up”. I think it was mainly a culmination of two things in particular, which brought about this process. One of those things was my new found interest in natural health, healthy living and raw foods which I now realize helped my consciousness grow by giving my brain and body an elevated level of nourishment. I went from a standard American diet to a 100% natural diet, to a vegan diet, and then to a raw diet and it was through this transformation of my body and mind that I became more aware, particularly of the innate intelligence and healing ability of nature. This awareness translated into a radical change in mindset with my studies. As a student of finance, and as someone who was enrolled in challenging investment banking oriented courses, an internal struggle began within the old paradigms my mind was evolving out of. Prior, I had no concept that financial decisions made in the name of profit and return to shareholders actually had might have deleterious effects on our world at large. I became so sucked into a world of numbers on paper that I forgot about the real world. It is the general nature of the financial world itself, the system, which promotes ignorant self-gratifying behavior. I started to understand how we were sucking mother Earth dry and literally exchanging our planet's future for pieces of paper and meaningless material pleasures. I began reading alternative health news courtesy of a new found interest in health (Natural News with Mike Adams) which crept into talking about how large financial corporations were making environmentally unsound decisions in the name of profit and I became alarmed at how regularly and quietly such decisions were carried out. Most of the poverty and suffering on this planet is result of an ignorant financial sector. I realized I couldn’t partake in this.
From college on was really when my awakening sped up. I’ve had a few different work experiences and have met many people who have contributed to my conscious development – in the form of music, venues, herbs, books, videos, and conversation. I got into juicing thanks to Dan McDonald (Life Regenerator) as well as bikram yoga thanks to a reiki master/yogini who attuned me and introduced me to spirit channeling. I attended a group called “The Marys” here in Chicago and had fantastic experiences. I was led to a practicing druid who happened to be a co-worker and I learned about druidery, paganism, Egyptian mythology, sleep paralysis, out of body travel, and was introduced to some cool Facebook groups talking about these subjects from which I could expand. I’ve been really fortunate to have some great teachers come into my life to guide me forward. Throughout this process of sharing and growing I began to identify with the eternal energy dwelling inside of me, my spirit, more than my current embodiment of Charles Town. The path of expanded consciousness is a brave path for we are quick to realize our own shortcomings in addition to the shortcomings of our society. Despite these shortcomings, there is pleasure through personal growth.
WHAT KEEPS YOU BUSY THESE DAYS?
To be honest I haven’t been in the busiest phase of my life recently. I find little bits of work here and there - I’ve been doing some construction type work and basic stuff like that, certainly nothing to wave around of brag about. More power to the ones who are. Sometimes I feel like the traditional work roles are more fulfilling, and they are certainly difficult, because they require the use of intelligent thought, imagination, and some degree of free will which together aren’t found in the more monotonous, repetitive jobs that society offers. The whole concept of jobs and work has been so far deranged from the honest contributing tendencies of a natural-healthy-balanced-functioning society. I dream of a time when we are no longer limited by systemic roles (brick-in-the-wall type work), in the name of accumulating tokens, and are instead free to follow our own passions and curiosities and develop them according to our will, and contributing toward the whole in a manner which brings everyone joy. I feel that 'the system' might be slowly evolving into something that could afford us all such. To me wealth is free-time, options, choices, and doing what you please when you like. I know within my soul that it is the birth right of all humanity.
TELL ME HOW YOU STARTED VIDEO BLOGGING.
I have my friends to thank hands down for the birth of my video boog. They inspired and encouraged me. Putting myself out to the YouTube world has very much changed me for it has restored my voice. It has given me a platform to express my passion and to connect with other like-minded people. It can be very challenging when we first “wake up” and it’s comforting to know that there is an online community that we can reflect, learn, and grow with. Together we get stronger: together we keep informed: together we energize the new seeds of civilization with our passions.
WHAT INSPIRES EACH OF THEM?
Well it’s nothing to make videos really. The hardest part is finding the courage to put your face out there, where people might see it. Once you’re “out there” it’s only a matter of speaking about the topics you think are important and what you are passionate about. Once you practice it a few times you get over the initial stage fear and it becomes just another thing. The subjects for my videos and writings are usually whatever my heart thinks everyone should know at the time… or possibly an understanding which I recently learned… or information received in a “download,” I have this crazy idea that if everyone speaks and everyone shares, “our reality” will get better and better.
ON SETBACKS & CHALLENGES.
Yes. Sometimes the energy doesn’t feel quite right and this feeling can occasionally bother me. Sometimes I feel a tragic energy or an ominous energy. It can also be difficult to find a quiet and private space and time in order to fully let my mind unwind. Other times it is hard to choose topics because there are so many important things to talk about with all the chaos occurring around the world. I really feel like the solutions to the problems we are facing are already here in the form of ideas and exist within our very minds, together. The most difficult thing we must do is to choose a new path that leads to unity and embraces and acknowledges the immeasurability of compassion as part of the whole equation.
WHAT OTHER PASSIONS ENRICH YOUR SPIRIT?
I know a lot of people, younger generations included, are paying more attention to the internet and digital platforms as information portals. Slowly steering people toward the light, “waking people up,” is a big passion of mine. I also enjoy yoga and meditation. I enjoy quiet reflective, still time. I enjoy martial arts, jumping on trampolines, long walks, and other forms of activity. I enjoy grooving to music, surfing the web, and reading. I love learning about nature. I admire its innate intelligence and grandiosity. I am passionate about helping others find their inner master and to re-learn to hear the voice of their own intuition. I think by elevating the individual our society will benefit. We must encourage and empower one another in order to reach a peaceful and happy living modality. I have love and appreciation for humanity and existence and the joyous wonder which our imaginations are capable of conjuring and co-creating: peace, freedom, happiness, and abundance through recognition of oneness - with each other AND the environment. I am passionate about a better world because I know it is in our potential. Passion is power. Passion is meaning. Passion is cause. Passion is joy.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU?
I think that within our collective knowledge exists all that is needed to create a better way and that our best course of action is to work together, with our complete index of knowledge working for the common good. The ingenuity and creativity of mankind represent part of that hope-bringing unknown quantity which we all search for. I am motivated by the evolution of our society from its current form into a new form which can utilize the global system of distribution and production that came to exists toward the benefit of humanity rather than the detriment. We must proceed as a united humanity by the concepts of love before we may choose the direction our society travels. I believe the easiest way to proceed is by maintaining a familiar societal structure in the beginning phases of change so that stability is maintained in our daily lives. Societal stability is in all of our best interests, whether we admit it or not, for we have all grown very much reliant on it. It would make sense to try to keep the fabric together in somewhat similar of a fashion to allow continuance. Through this continuance I believe it is possible to evolve out of our current decaying structure through a journey of steps that faith will carry us through. Ideas like advanced energy generation and the inquiry into other existing technologies, made private by the military industrial complex, hold a particularly compelling catalyst to our evolution. I feel like this shift will also somehow tie in large-scale growth of hemp and use of military forces as makers of a global, sustainable, and clean societal infrastructure. We have the resources and the manpower and it is not too late, everything is practically laid out already. Our modern day pioneers are already creating it! The same path that leads us down the wrong direction can also lead us back toward the right one.
I want to see private big-money interests evolve from their imbalanced mindsets of financial gain into one of inter-connectedness and oneness, by any means necessary, to achieve a more healthy ensuing societal structure. Pulling the weed out by this root will allow for tremendous new life to flow within our garden providing many opportunities. I believe this grand blooming is happening right now, slowly, but surely, despite flares of darkness, and it is likely to take us in a direction we as a whole have never experienced before.
WHAT IS YOUR CAUSE? Peace. Harmony. Zen. Balance. Beauty. Light. Grace. Compassion. Respect. Knowledge. Freedom. Love. Joy .
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM THIS EXPERIENCE?
I have learned inner strength more than anything. I had to find balance inside before I could see it in our world. The gift of inner strength is a blessing untold. I learned faith, too, in grander things conspiring in our good, whatever you call them, and to whatever level you realize them. I have learned the beauty, connectivity, and transforming power of love.
WHAT HAVE YOU UNLEARNED? I am unlearning judgment for the sets and characters of the grand soul play inspiring our collective learning through this “dance of spirits.” I am also unlearning inadequacy, uncertainty, jealousy, frustration, and fear. I suspect I’m not alone.
IF YOU CAN CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT THIS WORLD WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I would like to see our money system change for I believe the fundamental imbalance within our society may be traced to fractional-reserve banking and the issuance of money as debt. I understand that by ending the Federal Reserve, and changing our money policy we will be pulling out the financial establishment’s roots, stopping the force of soulless competition which results in environmental and human detriment. This current detrimental operational mechanism constricts humanity and our ability for inspired creation, evolution, and healing. Our future well-being recognizes the whole as one and emphasizes respect for nature and this is currently not true of our society. I would like to see such an experience of how abundantly life within balance of Mother Earth can be. I would like to see this society use the most advanced technologies for the betterment of everyone without ties of nationality. I want a society that respects the tenants of life and treats everyone as equals and one which respects the plant and animal kingdoms. I see a system that is monitored by the measure of love between members and by the love experienced by an individual, having nothing to do with pieces of paper. I think we all want to get there, somewhere inside us. The visionaries, the dreamers, we will tell you that better ways are possible if we recognize and choose them. This can be a beautiful unfolding – a blossoming – of the society that is to come should we each allow, within ourselves, this occurrence. The unknowns are our best friends for the unknowns are the blank pages to be written. As crazy as life is becoming it is very comforting to acknowledge the great amount of knowledge we possess and all the possibilities of that collective knowledge.
WHAT IS LOVE? Love is the force which causes me to better myself – for it is realization of self in others in recognition of the grand self. Love is giving and sharing. Love is resonance. We are grown with love. Love is the very fabric of matter – of frequency and vibration. Love is rhythm. Energy and love go hand in hand during creation. This is as true within us, as beings, just as much as it an evident formula through all forms of life. There are different variants of love; it is the water which fills all forms – it is the morphing fluidic fabric of energy itself. We can describe it but not contain it. We can feel it. We can give it. Beyond all other words lies the power of love – vibrating energy we continually attempt to gain the most basic understanding of. Love dwells within us and brings out areas of our beings we never thought existed before. Love transforms – it alchemizes. It renews and restores. It expands and creates. It breathes the longest deep breathes. It is the natural aim of life itself - to go cannoning toward the omnipotence of love, the warm embrace of the sun, the heart beat of a lover held close, the times where you laugh so hard you cry, to soar with open arms and hair blowing, yelling at the top of your lungs,
“ALRIGHT!!”, “WE’VE HAD ENOUGH!!” “WE CHOOSE JOY AND LOVE AND PROSPERITY (IN THE WAYS IT REALLY COUNTS) AND ABUNDANCE AND ONENESS” “WE CHOOSE SOMETHING BETTER!” “WE CHOOSE SOMETHING BETTER!” “ENOUGH OF THIS NONSENSE” “ENOUGH OF THIS!” “ENOUGH!” “WE ARE DONE WITH THIS AND WE ARE READY TO EXPERIENCE A SOCIETY WHICH ENCOURAGES OUR CONNECTIVITY AND COOPERATION TO CREATE A NEW WAY AND A BETTER FUTURE” “WE ARE READY FOR PEACE AND ABUNDANCE AND JOY” “WE ARE READY FOR FREEDOM” “WE ARE READY TO TAKE STEPS IN THAT DIRECTION NOW” “WE CAN AND WILL CREATE THIS OUTCOME, TOGETHER, WITH A LITTLE FAITH AND WILL” “I AM UNAFRAID!” “I AM UNAFRAID OF MY OWN POTENTIAL” “I AM READY TO EMPOWER AND BE EMPOWERED IN WAYS PREVIOUSLY UNIMAGINABLE! “WITH MY CONSCIOUS WILL I AM CREATING THIS REALITY EVERY MOMENT OF MY LIFE AND DURING EVERY INSTANCE OF SPIRITUAL CONCENTRATION” “I AM UNAFRAID OF WHAT WE CAN CREATE TOGETHER AS EARTH’S CHILDREN!”
These are some of the words of the courageous love which dwells within us all – our saving grace.
YOUR DREAMS AND ASPIRATIONS. The dreams and aspirations that I have are more collectively oriented than personally. It can be difficult to find a working passion. Primarily, I want to see a global societal shift happen and I really want to co-experience a free and abundant life which encourages the diversity of interests and passions of its people. I would be happy to devote my life toward the construction of such a reality.I am passionate about large-scale change and do not look forward to “more of the same,” one iota; it’s a pathetic reflection of our true potential as imaginative beings.
My dreams see humanity living in an intelligent, nature-focused, abundant, and free society in which adults retain their childlike countenance and playfulness all the while. I have a dream of humanity where all participants’ expressions are valued and where there is no, or little, worry or stress plaguing our minds. My personal dreams and aspirations include a life of traveling and exploring, particularly to warm semi-tropical environments near the ocean where I can watch the sun set peacefully and happily every evening while I munch of fresh tropical fruits. Of course I’ll be happy with whatever comes my way, but that would be a particularly nice direction to be taken. I would love to live in a cobb house or some other natural building material (maybe hemp-crete) with beautiful flowers and fruit and veggie gardens growing around it; something close to nature. It might seem a stretch, but I would really like to serve as an E.T. ambassador (assuming a post-disclosure world). I feel a sense of responsibility to oversee The Great Shift and to direct my energy and intelligence where needed along its unfolding. I think there is many of us here now who watch over the world carefully and attempt to coax its rigid form into something softer and more malleable by the imaginative potential of the mind and the innocence of the child.
YOU'RE FACE TO FACE WITH YOUR 10-YEAR OLD SELF. WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WILL YOU TELL, YOU?
I lost for you a long time. I forgot about you somehow and I’m not exactly sure when it happened. I went through many years of my life not knowing what wasn’t there (you)... and felt emptiness… loneliness… I felt something missing. I felt un-whole, like a shell of my truer, deeper self, and looked for something more visceral to grasp onto for reassurance and balance. I looked for something to take me out of the shallow, passing, existence of which I found myself imprisoned. It was a very long, dark night without you. I looked for you in other people, many other people, and like a chameleon I hoped incorporating into me the bits and pieces of others would fill the void. When I learned to look within I heard the soul of the world whisper into my ears and this gentle breath triggered a process of transformation within my being that has changed me forever. I know those of you who have gone through a similar process will know exactly what I am talking about. When I began to explore the depths of my soul, and all that constitutes my individual being, I re-membered you piece by piece. I’m not sure who I was without you. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for your fearlessness and your innocence. Thank you for your joy. You have enriched my life, and my existence. The kingdom really is built on the inside.
IF YOU WERE AN ANIMAL WHAT ANIMAL WOULD YOU BE?
There are so many animals and different forms of existence! A lot of us have certain affinities for animals and we make feel like we share something special with them… perhaps some sort of connection, maybe even energetically. I feel this way about lots of different animals! Animals rock! If I had to be any animal right now in this moment… I would go owl because I want to stay up into the night and glide around the dark. I also like elephants. They are really an incredibly intelligent species with enormous amounts of compassion. It’s probably fun smashing through the jungle, and grasses, not having much to worry about (beside those maniacal humans of course). I feel the feline energy strongly – the joy of having claws… wow. This game is dangerous.
IF YOU WERE A SONG WHAT SONG WOULD YOU BE?
I don’t think I could name any one particular song. One of the ways that I talk with the soul of the world is through music. I am gifted many messages and synchronicities through music. I can’t go a day without music. It soothes me. One song that I’ve been vibe-ing to recently is “I am the Highway” by Audioslave.
TELL ME ABOUT THE BEST FEEDBACK YOU RECEIVED FROM A SUBSCRIBER/READER OF YOUR WORK.
Well, I try not to pay much attention to that kind of thing because I think it’s easy to get wrapped up in which takes focus away from the real importance of putting your soul out there. On the fundamental energy level the world benefits by everyone releasing his or her soul and by sharing theirs with the soul-of-the-world; our world literally becomes more spiritual. By offering our divine essence to something larger we reclaim something, long missing and long forgotten, which empowers and inspires us. I appreciate all the feedback that I get, and those who support me in some shape or form. Keep dreaming dreamers, never give up.
WHAT'S SOMETHING THAT NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY PROBABLY SHOULD?
I get worried and scared too. I feel weakness too. I have doubt too. I question. I wonder. I hope. I pray. I cry. I fear. I anger. I frustrate. I fall and I get up, with help more often than not. I am a big nerd and I love researching and learning about curious things. I’ve learned to let go of much fear, though I still have much to let go of. I’ve dealt with depression and apathy. Disheartenment was part of my path, my dark night to walk through – my dragon to slay. I’m proud to say I’ve become rather an expert. I used to be scared of the type of person I have become – a soulful being – because I didn’t know or understand that awesome potential existing within me too.
WHAT DOES 2012 & THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
I think 2012 is the year our future will be handed back to us. It is something that I feel is guaranteed by the rising consciousness levels of humanity. This can be accomplished through the recognition of our common fate and literal unity, or “oneness”. We will learn to make the right decisions and focus on how we can benefit the world, how we can improve things for everyone and all forms of life: a way that might promote the biodiversity of the earth as well as maintains our needs. I can assure you the potential of the imagination to shape different realities still exists within each and every one of us waiting to be reignited. This ability has the power to lead us in beautiful direction; a re-emergence of humanity and an evolution of our current societal operating system. I see growing pains along the way with this bright potential.
YOUR ONE MESSAGE TO THE WORLD.
We’re all in this together. We’re in this place through our own ignorance and the sooner we learn how to cooperate and work together, regardless of any differences that we face, the better our outcome will be. I feel most of us are willing and ready to cooperate, and that it may just be a few who are stubborn in their thrones, but they will budge eventually and we can make that happen sooner by showing them a loving path on which they may surrender their illusion of control. Many of our souls could truly be their disappointed parents, and we can forgive and encourage right choices. We cannot have “oneness” without oneness. When all is said-and-done there is much more reason to be hopeful than not. There are all sorts of medicines and cures, which nature provides, to remedy diseased environments and persons, mentally, spiritually, and physically. We can restore ecological order. We can restore all of our imbalances through seeking harmony, balance, and nature, and through appropriate application of technology.
Opportunities exist as they always have and always will. Each step will reveal itself one at a time. We must take a leap of faith, together. There are many, many beings/spirits that are helping humanity in ways undetectable to our senses, from different dimensions which are like frequencies. This may sound very far-fetched, I realize. I wouldn’t have believed my own words two years ago but I had a spiritual awakening and it’s changed my views on everything in an extremely short period of time. From my experiences, these higher dimensional beings are very loving and wise spirits who share their wisdom with us as they always have by utilizing the back doors of consciousness not yet discovered by fully by our science. As we return to unity consciousness it is only normal for us to be put back in touch with our ancestors as regular communication with the ancestors used to be an integral part of society. This type of connection must be re-examined, accepted, honored, and regarded. Another important message is to never give up hope! There are so many amazing people out there already showing us how to build the new future. You’ll find many of them right here on this beautiful blog. The technologies exist, the capacity exists.
Make sure you look at what people ARE doing to help, because people ARE helping and ARE planning and ARE designing and ARE sharing and ARE creating a better future, already, as the old paradigm crumbles the phoenix rises from the ashes. We’re experiencing the end of a chapter in the never ending story of humanity. The efforts of a dying existence to maintain itself in an already blooming new paradigm pose little threat to galactic shifts. We’re at a very important crossroads. GO HUMANITY! GO LOVE!
I think it's a given how as children we have that 'knowing' or that sense of what's true or not, that's why children never lie or if they do it won't take long til they spill the beans or reveal it through their eyes... you'll see how open they are really. But I'd like to think that we're all kind of explorative beings too, because when you tell kids something they'll somehow seek to find out what the opposite is like or react adversely. That's probably why they call it 'reverse psychology' in the academe.
We are all, as Einstein terms it 'passionately curious'. Just wanting to learn and seek out the answers to our own questions , see what we don't see or know what we don't know, experience what we haven't experienced no matter what the cost or circumstance, it is this intuitive mind and this open heart that makes this path what it is, and constantly sets us free.
Still trying to figure out this lesson and come to terms with all the healers and intuitives and teachers and guides building ' top secret groups'.
I honor their causes and feel that there is a wealth of inspiration shared in each one , but I do want to understand, why the exclusivity? If it is a cause worthy enough, why hide it? Why should only a chosen few people be allowed to view the beauty and wonder? Why should only a chosen few be allowed to share? What is keeping us from letting the energy of love flow freely? I don't really rant much, but this one I feel so passionate about.
We humans are the only species in this planet who thought about building walls and prisons and asylums. We are the only ones who are ruled by ownership and exclusivity and taking that always to the next level.
Pretending is an art that's second nature with me,
but don't be fooled,
for God's sake don't be fooled.
I give you the impression that I'm secure,
that all is sunny and unruffled with me,
within as well as without,
that confidence is my name and coolness my game,
that the water's calm and I'm in command
and that I need no one,
but don't believe me.
My surface may be smooth but
my surface is my mask,
ever-varying and ever-concealing.
Beneath lies no complacence.
Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this. I don't want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
That's why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
a nonchalant sophisticated facade,
to help me pretend,
to shield me from the glance that knows.
But such a glance is precisely my salvation,
my only hope, and I know it.
That is, if it is followed by acceptance,
If it is followed by love.
It's the only thing that can liberate me from myself
from my own self-built prison walls
from the barriers that I so painstakingly erect.
It's the only thing that will assure me
of what I can't assure myself,
that I'm really worth something.
But I don't tell you this. I don't dare to. I'm afraid to.
I'm afraid you'll think less of me,
that you'll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
I'm afraid that deep-down I'm nothing
and that you will see this and reject me.
So I play my game, my desperate, pretending game
With a façade of assurance without
And a trembling child within.
So begins the glittering but empty parade of Masks,
And my life becomes a front.
I tell you everything that's really nothing,
and nothing of what's everything,
of what's crying within me.
So when I'm going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I'm saying.
Please listen carefully and try to hear what I'm not saying,
what I'd like to be able to say,
what for survival I need to say,
but what I can't say.
I don't like hiding.
I don't like playing superficial phony games.
I want to stop playing them.
I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me
but you've got to help me.
You've got to hold out your hand
even when that's the last thing I seem to want.
Only you can wipe away from my eyes
the blank stare of the breathing dead.
Only you can call me into aliveness.
Each time you're kind, and gentle, and encouraging,
each time you try to understand because you really care,
my heart begins to grow wings --
very small wings,
With your power to touch me into feeling
you can breathe life into me.
I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me,
how you can be a creator--an honest-to-God creator --
of the person that is me
if you choose to.
You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble,
you alone can remove my mask,
you alone can release me from the shadow-world of panic,
from my lonely prison,
if you choose to.
Please choose to.
Do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach me
the blinder I may strike back.
It's irrational, but despite what the books may say about man
often I am irrational.
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls
and in this lies my hope.
Please try to beat down those walls
with firm hands but with gentle hands
for a child is very sensitive.
Who am I, you may wonder?
I am someone you know very well.
For I am every man you meet
and I am every woman you meet.
by Charles C. Finn
I read a version of this poem on Leo Buscaglia's well renowned book: "Living, Loving & Learning" To read the full account for yourself, or simply to enjoy more of Charlie's poems, visit www.poetrybycharlescfinn.com
"I was just really scared of sharks back then. I started to read about them because I didn't know what else to do. I became fascinated by what little we knew about them at the time. The mantra at that point was that 'the only good shark was a dead shark'. That was really what people thought... they were monsters, and there were so few people out there trying to understand them, really only a handful. That sparked my life-long love for and passion for this misunderstood creature."
Dr. MIKKI McCOMB-KOBZA
Fort Pierce, Florida
She is a shark biologist who has so far devoted more than 10 years studying about sharks and bringing people together to share the same space with this great creature. Dr. Mikki McComb-Kobza joins me to talk about her research and wonderful experience with these sharks. Hats off to all our scientists like her who have chosen this noble task understanding what we have known all our lives as 'predators' or objects of our fear -- they play a key role in spreading awareness that helps in conserving this ancient creature that has been here on earth for millions of years.
WHO IS DR. MIKKI?
I grew up outside of Denver, Colorado, which was right by the Rocky Mountains. I had my mom, dad and brother. I spent a lot of my early years hiking and camping and spent most of my time outside, exploring and learning. I became a lover of nature and shared all those experiences with my family. It was a really great childhood.
What really shaped my life though, and it was kind of a funny thing, was when I was about 7 years old and I saw the movie "Jaws". That movie as you know, was all about sharks. I was literally scared to death. I left the movie and I would sit with my legs up at the kitchen table because I thought sharks were swimming in the carpet and they were gonna eat me. I remember I had to try out for the swim team and I had to swim at the deep end of the pool and I swam so fast because I thought sharks were gonna come out of the drain. The guy said "Oh you're on the swim team, no problem!".
I was just really scared of sharks back then. I started to read about them because I didn't know what else to do. I became fascinated by what little we knew about them at the time. The mantra at that point was that the only good shark was a dead shark. That was really what people thought... they were monsters, and there were so few people out there trying to understand them. Really only a handful. That sparked my life-long love for and passion for this misunderstood creature.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM YOURSELF FROM THIS EXPERIENCE?
I had a sort of a twisty turny road. I went into the corporate world and spent a number of years there. I was very dissatisfied with the feeling that I wasn't going to make a difference. At the end of the day when I looked in the mirror I didn't feel like I was contributing to the world in a way that was soul-satisfying and so I made some choices to change that. I decided to follow my passions and I became a scuba instructor around the Florida Keys. I felt that introducing people to sharks and having them share space together would be a fantastic thing to do. I left the corporate world and followed my dream. That dream evolved over time into pursuing an education. That was something I didn't have. I ended up getting a Ph D and was able to travel all over the world and work with extraordinary people who are passionate and smart and are making huge differences in shark conservation. It was sort of a windy road but fantastic road. Things have happened to me that I never could have expected., and some of the things I've been able to see and share with others I never could have dreamed.
WHAT HAVE YOU UNLEARNED LATELY? That's a good question... In the scientific field there is a lot of competition and I know that's also true in the corporate world and other fields. Sometimes when you're competitive you can almost be happy when people don't succeed and that's a pretty horrible thing. When people do their best and are trying, I've learned how important it is to share in that happiness for them and even if they don't meet their goals or even if they don't do what they were hoping to do, to just share in that triumph of trying... To not be jealous or competitive. It doesn't help anything to do that. That's one thing I've definitely let go of.
TRUE.. "BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO ARE GENUINELY HAPPY FOR THE HAPPINESS OF OTHERS". Yes! It takes someone really genuine to be happy for the happiness of others, and that's not an easy lesson. People sometimes don't understand that when you're genuinely happy for them they're suspicious or they're not really sure how to take it. It is definitely something we have to work on. The other important thing I've learned is to be empathetic. Not only empathetic to other people but as a scientist and a biologist, I'm empathetic to all species on the planet. It's a difficult life. It's not easy to be out there in the wild trying to eat and find mates and all the things that animals do. You have to have a degree of empathy and understanding that each of them are on a journey and that they deserve our respect and good treatment.
YOUR MOST MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE WITH A SHARK. The one that left me the most breathless was that trip to South Africa where I was able to go diving with Great White Sharks. That was something that I had wanted to do since I was a kid. I got to do that and I went by myself . I went down in the water and it was a little murky. It took a few minutes for the sharks to come in. There were three of them. When I saw them swim by I was breathless because they were what I didn't expect to see they were-- as graceful as dolphins. That just blew my mind! They were just incredible. That was probably the most amazing moment with a shark. And I'd have to say swimming with all types, from Tiger Sharks to Bull Sharks to Hammer Heads...I've seen so many. But I honestly have to say it's a privilege to share space with them. They are very ancient creatures. 400 million years old. To share space with them and to look at them and be in the water with them... It's truly an honor. It's an amazing feeling.
IF YOU CAN CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT THE WORLD WHAT WOULD IT BE? I think the saddest thing that is happening in the planet right now is just the disparity in wealth and I think poverty drives greed and greed pervades so many bad decisions for our planet. When it comes to sharks, right now the biggest crisis that they face is humans, and the crisis is that they are being killed for fins. Fishermen cut their fins off and throw them back alive and sell the fins for shark fin soup which fetches quite a bit of money. It's a really unsustainable cruel practice. It occurs because there's demand and because there is money involved. There's even been evidence saying that there are actual mafias now that's out there, because there's so much money to be made. So if there was one change that I'd like to see it's this-- To see more respect for sharks... To see them not finned and tossed aside with no regard. These are ancient animals that have been around so much longer than we have. They're just cast aside like trash and it truly breaks my heart to see that.
SHARKS ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN THIS. IF ONLY PEOPLE KNEW.
Yes. If you look back in ancient Polynesian art they used to have clubs with shark teeth. They used to believe that the dead spirits of family members would transfer to sharks .They're mysterious. They're scary. They're beautiful. Sharks have been revered through the centuries. There's no doubt... We hold the shark and other predators high because they can wipe us out. Look at bears and tigers and wolves. Those are all predators. We've revered them because they do have power.
WHAT WERE SOME OF THE INTERESTING DISCOVERIES THAT YOU FOUND JUST BY BEING WITH SHARKS?
As a scientist I've done a lot of experimental research with sharks. I spent a lot of time trying to understand how they work, what's it like to be a shark, how they experience their world. Some of the work that I've done with them is trying to understand how well they can see, how well their visual abilities allow them to see their environment, how fast their eyes work, what their visual abilities are in terms of sharks like Hammer Heads that have eyes pointing straight out-- can they even see straight ahead when they're swimming. We measured their visual fields and what we found was crazy. We found that Hammer Heads actually have binocular overlaps. Both of their eyes can see straight ahead and they have overlaps of the right and left eyes' visual fields even more so than normal sharks and it's all because their eyes are positioned at the end of that crazy head allowing them to have excellent depth perception.
Also, one of the things you might not know is that Hammer Heads are the most recently evolved sharks on the planet. So they're the newest 'editions' I guess you can say. We don't really even know why that head shape appeared. One of the things that I've been looking at is what are the ramifications of having such a strange head shape in a shark, and what does it mean?
HAVE YOU EVER WORKED WITH SICK SHARKS? I have not worked with sick sharks. Only those injured by people fishing for them or those injured in captivity. I do know that several researchers are looking at disease resistance in sharks and why they may have a low incidence of cancer.
THAT'S REALLY INTERESTING MIKKI. ALL I'VE EVER HEARD ABOUT THE SHARK GROWING UP IS THAT IT CAN SMELL BLOOD, IT'S A PREDATOR... MEDIA HAS JUST BUILT THAT FEAR BUT CLEARLY THERE IS ENOUGH FASCINATION & BEAUTY ABOUT THEM. MANY DON'T SEE THAT. THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND.
That's absolutely true. I can tell you that I've gone diving in the Bahamas along with Caribbean Reef Sharks and they will literally sit right next to you and you can pet them. I'm not joking... YOU CAN PET THEM. These are sharks that are 7 feet long. They're bigger than I am. They were just coming in to be touched. This would blow people's minds. This is something you would never have thought of fifteen years ago. You would think that you would immediately be eaten.There's a video of it. I'll send you the link. It will make you cry. It's just beautiful... miraculous. It will make your heart glow. Two species sharing space in an improbable way. Here is a person and a shark spending time together in an intimate way. How unbelievable and how wonderful that those moments are shared! You can look into their eyes... I lay on the bottom of the sea floor with my scuba gear and look at a nurse shark and pet them. I know that they're looking at me. I know they're thinking "What are you?" but its still an amazing experience. They're not the monsters that we've all been led to believe that they are.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AND THE WORLD AROUND YOU, SAY TEN YEARS FROM NOW?
I think the most important thing we can do collectively is to realize that WE SHARE THE WORLD. It's not just ours. We share this planet with so many other species. It's not just ours to trash, to take from un-sustainably So I think in the future people will become more aware of that and simply because we have over 7 billion people in the planet. Our impact is huge. We need to understand how to try to minimize our impact as much as we can. I think we're going in that direction.
I think in the next ten years we'll see green technologies take off. We'll see alternative fuels. I think we'll start to see people understand the importance of the ecosystem and how we are inextricably intertwined with it. It is part of who we are and we have to take care of it just like we take care of ourselves. My vision is to take my passion and education and experience and try to energize other other people into having that excitement about what's out there. Life is amazing you know. Don't sit inside, go experience it, Go out there.
WHAT OTHER PASSIONS OR ACTIVITIES DO YOU DO YOU ENJOY OTHER THAN WORKING IN THE FIELD OF SCIENCE?
I think the biggest thing that has happened to me is that 3 years ago I had a little boy and he changed my universe. I didn't think that I would have a child and I did. I'm a little older in life. I'm 42 years old. He has rocked my world. It is the most unbelievably satisfying thing to just sit with your child and watch them and hug them and kiss them and just ...(sigh). I don't even know what to say. That's my biggest kick right now... Just spending time with him. It's just wonderful. There's no connection like it in the world. Your child is a part of you. There is no way to explain it except to experience it.
ARE THERE ANY SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE CHILD REARING OF HUMANS AND SHARKS?
You know it's fascinating . Sharks are 4 Million years old. That's when they first appeared and they have every single reproductive mode you can imagine. From laying eggs and swimming away to having live young that form as eggs inside. In Hammer Heads , they actually have live young but they have inside a placenta and umbilical cord very similarly structured to what you and I have. This is absolutely incredible. It's maternal provisioning in a way very much like we have. The investment that they make in their babies is huge and they can have 2 to 30 pups depending on the species. There hasn't really been enough parental care observed from the sharks but they do pup in shallow nursery areas to give them the best shot at surviving. Some Sting Rays which are the close cousins of sharks have been observed to do parental care. Again , they are not the heartless monsters that we've made them out to be. We just don't know that much about them. it's difficult to observe what's happening out there. Those are questions we still don't even have the answers to just yet. There's over 400 different shark species. What we say for one might not hold for another.
WHAT IS LOVE? I think that after having a child I've learned what love is. It's when you care more for someone than you do yourself unquestionably.
WHAT KIND OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO OVERCOME THEIR FEAR OF SHARKS? That's a great question and I would say that there are over 400 different sharks of which maybe 3 to 4 different species could actually hurt you. Your chances of ever going to the water and even seeing one are remote. And your chances of going in and having one actually come to you is even more remote. So I would say in one lifetime the chances of ever being hurt by one are so minimal. You have more chances of being hit over the head by a coconut and killed than you do by being attacked by a shark. So I would say go into the water. Experience it. Look around. See what you can see. If you see a shark consider yourself lucky and blessed to share space with them. Again, the chances of being hurt by one are so low. I don't think people have anything to worry about. You don't wanna swim at dusk and dawn and you don't wanna do risky behaviors. If you use common sense you'll be fine.
YOUR ONE MESSAGE TO ALL.
The most important thing to understand is to be empathetic to the other species in the planet and to know that we share the space with them. It's our responsibility as intelligent beings to protect them and to make sure that we give them the respect and the space that they deserve.
This beautiful photo was shot by Mikki herself.
Dr. Mikki McComb-Kobza
Ocean Exploration and Deep-Sea Research
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University
For thousands of years, our forefathers ate seaweed for optimum nutrition. Seaweed is an ancient super food and was our ancestor's secret to health and longevity.There were times in history that sea vegetable gardens where kept specifically for the rich. And seaweed has been considered a perfect food in china for over 2000 years.
It is sometimes referred to as the perfectly balanced natural food. Packed with minerals and trace minerals, these sea veggies have access to all 92 minerals that sea water naturally contains. In fact seaweed contain 10 -20 times the minerals of land foods, an abundance of vitamins and other elements for metabolism.
Seaweed draws an extraordinary wealth of mineral elements from the sea that can account for up to 36% of its dry mass. This food is high in iodine, calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamins C and A, protein, Vitamins B, fiber and, alpha linoleic acid, EPA, and so much more.
Nori includes almost all the mineral elements, which are used effectively in our body. This common seaweed contains more vitamins than fruits and vegetables. It is abundant in dietary fiber.
With soils being depleted of nutrients, our food is less nutritious today. The best seaweed health benefit is that it is one of the best sources of nutrient rich, non-toxic foods with which we can nourish our bodies - a food that hasn't been tampered with or altered with genetic modification.
Seaweed Health Benefits
It contains a wide variety of concentrated protein and healthy carbohydrates
It is an excellent source of iodine
It can assist in keeping the body's pH balance with the alkaline forming effect
It is low in fat and very low in calories
It is high in glyconutrients
High protein content: from 20% in green algae to 70% in spirulina.
High mineral content, especially: iodine, calcium, iron, magnesium.
More vitamin C than oranges.
Natural iodine maintaining a healthy thyroid function.
Polysaccharides: important in the prevention of degenerative diseases including cardiovascular and diabetes 2, increase the amount of feel-good chemicals in the brain, improves liver function, stabilizes blood sugar.
Healthy hearing, improved memory, clear skin, good eyesight, dental health, healthy thyroid function, improved immune system, prevents allergies and infections, lowers blood pressure, nurtures healthy heart vessels, normalizes cholesterol levels, support bone health, aids in waste movement and digestion.
Protection against cancer. - sea vegetables contain large amounts of lignans which are plant compounds that protect against cancers of all kind.
Support healthy thyroid function - low thyroid function is often related to the lack of iodine. Kelp is the richest source of iodine which is the component of the thyroid hormones thyroxine and triidithyronine. Kelp can help to regulate proper thyroid function.
Source of calcium - 1 teaspoon of cult mixed in a glass of water contains 10 times more calcium than a glass of milk.
Protects against birth defects and cardiovascular disease - Ocean vegetables contain folic acid which is important for the prevention of birth defects and spina bifida. Folic acid is also known to break down homocysteine which helps to reduce high blood pressure.
Anti-inflammatory - high magnesium levels present in seaweed act as a natural relaxant and anti-inflammatory.
Relief of menopause symptoms - Lignans are found in seaweed act as a weak oestrogen and along with magnesium may help to restore normal sleep patterns and reduce hot flushes.
Detox from heavy metals - it is believed that some seaweeds can help cleanse the body of toxic pollutants. The science behind it states that because these plants have high levels of alginic acid, they bind with any heavy metals in the intestines. This makes the heavy metals indigestible and so can safely be expelled from the body.
Powerful aid to continuous detoxification because as well as being a natural nutritional supplement it contributes a) a unique food source of all the micronutrients that improve metabolism and b) support for a healthy gut flora and condition of the gut wall, and deters bad bacteria
Common Types of Seaweed Available
Wakame - long hard strips that can be softened with water.
Dulse - a soft chewy, dried whole leaf of a reddish colour or flakes for seasoning.
Nori - This seaweed is well-known in sushi and is dark purple or green coloured sheets.
Kelp - popular as a health supplement. Kelp is light brown in colour and usually available as flakes or in powder form.
Arame - comes in a lazy, wiry form and is sweet and mild in taste.