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Hi. I’m Toni. I’m codependent. I’m working on it, but only if it’s okay with you? If it makes you upset that I’m becoming less codependent then I will stop – but if you approve – then I will continue. Are we okay? I’m sorry for even bringing this up.
Codependence can mean a few things, but one of the main elements is feeling responsible for the feelings of others – at least, that’s how it manifests in me most. Being an empathetic person, I can usually sense the vibes of others. When I intuit someone’s feelings I feel like their feelings are my fault, or my duty to solve.
That’s the main difference between a compassionate person and a codependent. A compassionate person can say, “Wow, I see that you’re suffering and that you are going through something disturbing. I can hold the space for you and energetically witness you’re processes of processing, but I will not take your problems as my own problem.” Where my tendency is to say, “Wow, you have an issue? Well don’t you worry anymore because now your issue is MY issue and I will take it on fully and solve all your problems for you!!!”
A drawback from being codependent is that I am an enabler. I facilitate all sorts of negative behavior patterns in others. I can be so desperate for approval that I lay myself down at the altar of their toxicity to sacrifice us both in my unceasing spiral of need to circumvent conflict. I contort my being into the origami expectations of others to fold my identity into a pleasing crane flying into the abyss of needing to be liked. I know. It’s exhausting.
Codependence is my instinct! If we were sitting in a field together enjoying the sunshine and you happened to get stung by a bee, my initial reaction would be, “it’s my fault.” If we were at a party together and I was having a great time and you weren’t enjoying yourself I would feel like we had to leave. Your being happy is crucial to my being happy because I can’t be happy if you’re not happy so it really doesn’t even matter at all if what we’re doing is making me happy if you’re not happy so we might as well just do whatever makes you happy so we can both be happy because now you’re happy. Get it!?
I always thought my codependent ways of operating in the world came from my conditioning and familial programming. I was the peacemaker in my household, and the youngest child, so it was my role in the dynamic to not cause friction or problems. As such, when I became a parent I wanted to create a different paradigm for The Munch. In fact, the past 9-years of being a mom has been the best training for me to work on these issues. I can’t be a codependent parent because then my kid would be an absolute asshole. If I took on all The Munch’s problems and allowed my codependent reflexes to be my default reaction, then imagine what a dick hole she would be!
Creating boundaries with my kid has been my healing because it has taught me the value of boundaries with all people. Kids thrive when they have clear boundaries, and my parenting journey has revealed that true unconditional love actually NEEDS boundaries to make it a sustainable relationship. If I allow a person to treat me as their emotional punching bag eventually I will hit a breaking point and knock them out of my life. But if I have boundaries and express them openly, that’s actually the most loving thing I can do!
The more I communicate my needs and feelings the greater potential for genuine depth in the relationship. It’s only through my sharing my thoughts that you can realize how your behavior is hurting me and therefor address it. If I keep everything inside and refuse to talk about my actual emotions because I’m too afraid that you will be sad that I am sad, then I’m actually creating distance. The more I fear your feelings about my feelings the greater the chasm, so in order to build the necessary bridge I have to fight my codependence and feel okay if my feeling bad momentarily makes you feel bad.
In my effort to socialize my kid differently than I was socialized, I have made many attempts to be an example of a compassion, but not codependence. I have tried to model my ideals in my dealings with The Munch. She is having a very different childhood than I had for a variety of reasons, and as such, I made the assumption that codependence would not be her cross to bear.
I WAS FUCKING WRONG!
The Munch is just like her mom. JUST LIKE ME! She refuses to talk to her friends about ANYTHING that bothers her about them. She will weep to me about how she’s treated, hysterical in her sadness, but will not address it directly with them.
Toni: Munchee, why don’t you just talk to your little friend and tell her how you feel?
The Munch: I CAN’T DO THAT MAMA! IT WILL MAKE HER MAD AT ME!
Toni: Dude, but your feelings are just as important as her feelings. It’s totally okay and reasonable to explain to her that her behavior hurts your feelings when you’re not being treated like a priority.
The Munch: BUT I CAN’T TELL HER THAT BECAUSE THEN SHE WILL CRY AND BE UPSET!
Toni: That’s fine if she cries and gets upset. That has nothing to do with you. What’s most important is that you practice sharing your feelings and talking openly about how her behavior impacts you.
The Munch. I CAN’T DO THAT MAMA! MY BODY WON’T LET ME!
My BODY won’t let me! HOLY MOTHER OF GAIA! My BODY won’t let me! Ummmm… did I pass down the co-dependent gene to my kid!? Was co-dependence so melded into my DNA that she has doubled down on this helix of emotional hell? I REALLY TRIED!!!
Look at the existential angst on her face!! I GET IT MUNCH!! I GET IT!
You ever go to the doctor and they tell you something you don’t want to hear? I recently went to a medical professional and the doctor kept insisting that there is something wrong with my liver and blood, which I found really irritating. I got so angry at her. I kept thinking to myself, “why are you telling me this? I don’t like hearing this at all!” That wasn’t on my agenda for the day! I was merely in her office to refill my lady cream prescription and there she was telling me I potentially had some disease. A disease!? Doesn’t that seem so dramatic? She was thinking either tick borne, genetic, or maybe I had slept with someone who shot heroine? That’s a pretty wide range of potentials! I tried to narrow it down in my head, but anything is possible. Ticks are all over the place, my genetics are a bit wacky, and who knows if I have some heroine sex disease from my past? I mean who hasn’t slept with someone who did heroine? Someone who hasn’t lived that’s who!
I left her office a bit perplexed and with a slip of paper telling me to get more bloodwork done. I then decided to consult my acupuncturist/Chinese herbalist to see what she had to say.
My Acupuncturist: Hmmmm. Your liver chi is very weak. Blood deficiency too.
Toni: Oh dear. Do you know why my liver chi is weak?
My Acupuncturist: Because your liver is cold.
Toni: Do you know why my liver is cold?
My Acupuncturist: Because your stomach is cold.
Toni: Do you know why my stomach is cold?
My Acupuncturist: Because your liver is cold.
I much preferred that line of thinking, don’t you? The dialogue with western medicine is too narrow – something is wrong with you thus you have a disease. Such a linear way of thinking, like a boner of rationality pointing me in one direction. The Chinese approach is much more palatable because is circular. The ovarian shaped logic that my liver is cold because my stomach is cold because my liver is cold – an eternal spherical insight into my health. I left my acupuncturist with herbs to warm up my organs and then thought about what to do next as I waited for the results of my blood work. So, I did what any responsible adult would do faced with unknown health ailments. I signed up to do San Pedro with some shamans in the woods.
I am a firm believer that the reason one has physical ailments is because our “higher self” is trying to communicate to our ego through the language of the body. I felt that higher self Toni was trying to tell ego Toni a message that just regular Toni wasn’t listening to. Supposedly the liver has to do with anger, but I wasn’t sure what I was angry at. I try to be a compassionate person that understands where people are coming from. I often visualize the Buddhist practice of picturing those that hurt me as a defenseless baby to remind myself that we are all victims of our programming. Yet according to my liver, I was angry so I had to let that out! Whatever anger that was inside me had to go! My anger at my family, myself, humanity, people from my past… The San Pedro was going to open my heart to it all… right?
I didn’t know much about San Pedro, but I have done ayahuasca before because of course I have. I decided not to look too much into it and instead just open my heart to receive whatever the medicine had to teach me. The ceremony took place outside and during the day, which was very appealing to me. I’d much prefer being in nature than stuck inside in some decontextualized setting where I would feel the absurdity of trying to recreate a traditional ceremony inside. When I had done ayahuasca years before I could not quite get over the reality that I was in fact notin the Amazon jungle, but instead in some yoga studio in Connecticut. At least with this situation I’d be in the forest which I found great solace in.
After drinking the San Pedro, we all got into a line and walked in a silent procession towards the river. It was about a mile and half journey and the whole time I was trying to keep myself from puking. I attempted to appreciate the beauty around me, but anytime I looked up from the soil, the nausea took over. I kept my head down and kept walking, trying to focus on my breath. It then dawned on me that I had NO idea what San Pedro was going to feel like. It had been years since I had done a new “drug,” and didn’t know what to anticipate. I did my best to exhale my fears and release the panic of the unknown.
Eventually we got to the river and made our offerings of tobacco, crystals, and sea shells. We then gathered around a tree to pray and connect to the spirit. The shamans were a husband and wife team which I really appreciated. It felt balanced – both the father and mother energy. They chanted, drummed, talked about our ancestors, and we prayed. I no longer felt sick, but instead lost myself in the quantum entanglement of those who came before me. I connected to my grandfather who I had never met. I did some healing with him and my grandmother around their very contentious divorce. I danced between worlds and held the hands of those that I shared lineage with. The female Shaman started talking about the importance of family, both through blood and humanity. Her voice cracked as she begged us to find our gratitude. My heart broke. I wept at their generosity. I cried tears for their sharing of their ancient wisdom and healing medicine with us white devils. I felt my whiteness profoundly. I sobbed at what white people have done to indigenous people, to nature, to themselves. I felt so much gratitude to bring my ancestors in communion with the ancestors of these shamans. I came to terms with life and death. “We come from our ancestors, and then we return to our ancestors. That’s where we go when we die – back into the arms of our ancestors that bore us. My life’s purpose is to do as much healing as I can of my past ancestors and myself. I then have to bring that energy back to them. The only purpose of my life is to be the best version of myself possible so as to help heal the past, and then to parent my child to be the best person she can be to help heal the future. Death is no big deal. It’s just going back from where I came.” It made so much sense.
After hours of praying it was time to silently walk back. I hugged the tree and started to follow the rest, and realized, “Holy shit Toni, you are tripping HARD!”
I could see the trees breathing. I could see the ground moving. I could have stayed and looked at the bark morph for hours, but I had to follow the rest of the group. I surrendered to my lack of control. I had no personal agency because the experience wasn’t about me. It was about the group. The collective. The family. The shamans were guiding us and I allowed that to be. I kept walking and noticed a leaf. I realized something. “Some people are just born men! They can’t help being born men any more than this leaf can help being born a leaf. They are just men! And men are okay! Men are doing the best they can with being men! And come to think of it, a lot of men don’t rape women. A lot of men don’t beat women. A lot of men don’t destroy nature. A lot of men are really trying.” And just like that, years of resentment, animosity, rage, and disappointment in men just melted away. “Men have something to offer!” I appreciated men in a way I hadn’t maybe ever. Because I have been so disgusted by the actions of SOME men it poisoned me to men. But it wasn’t men that I was angry at exclusively. I was also angry at myself for how I allowed men to treat me. I was mad at myself for what I had done for men. I was furious at myself for not asking more for from men. But men have value. Men are bringing something to this earth that is needed, even if some are corrupted.
We eventually made it back to where the camp site was. A sweat lodge had been built and it was time to enter. It was a cold rainy day, and it was hard to take my clothes off. The mud was up to my ankles and cold. So cold. The air was damp. I shivered. I walked towards the sweat lodge and entered. It was so low to the ground it was hard to sit up. There were so many people packed in, shoulder to shoulder, and in two layers knees to back. I squeezed in and as the next person came in to sit next to me I panicked.
“I can’t do this.”
I couldn’t handle the idea of being boxed in. Trapped. I quickly crawled out. Afraid.
Helper: What’s wrong?
Toni: I can’t do it. Too many people.
I stood outside of the sweat lodge flooded with emotion. I felt terrible. I felt like failure. I was a chicken. I thought I was such a strong person who could do anything, but I was weak. And not to mention, covered in freezing mud. I scrambled to find my clothes. I had never been more ashamed to put clothes on. I could hear everyone in the sweat lodge chanting, praying, and together. I hated myself. I tried to forgive myself. I tried to tell myself maybe I just had to listen to my body. I tried to tell myself it was okay. I tried to fight the fear of missing out. I kneeled by the sweat lodge. I prayed for the people in there. I wanted to support them. I felt like I had let them down. I had let myself down. I was spiraling.
Then, they opened the sweat lodge because they needed to put in more hot rocks! I didn’t know they were going to do that! Someone came out. They had had enough. That meant there was room for me!
Toni: Can I go in?
The helper nodded “yes.” I threw my clothes off and crawled into the collective womb. Maybe I was afraid to enter the womb. Maybe I never felt safe in there? When I sat down the shaman smiled at me. It was so warm. So full of love. His face free of judgement. They closed the door and the darkness overtook me. I felt safe. I closed my eyes and it was as if I was in the bottom of the ocean. Phosphorescent lights pranced before me. The sweat started to pour. The heat was overpowering but I was so grateful. I was so overjoyed that they let me in that the discomfort was meaningless. I was enveloped with appreciation for the experience. I was also lucky because no one was sitting in front of me because I was the last one in. Every time the helpers had to add in more rocks, I had to leave the tent to let that process happen. I got to have a break between each of the 7 or so rounds. Because I had this privilege I wanted to be there for everyone else. They were all trapped. They couldn’t leave. But I could. With each time that I returned and we went in for another round, I tried to hold the space for those that were suffering. I tried to hold them with my energy. I owed them that. The man next to me was a big tall man, and to be folded up like that was hard for him. His toe would touch me, or his elbow. For a moment I was annoyed. When I felt his flesh against mine it took me out of my out of body experience. I didn’t want to be grounded by his skin. I wanted to fly away into another dimension without my body. I felt irritated that he was interfering with my desires. Then I said to myself, “No Toni. Don’t be annoyed. He can’t help it. He’s just an uncomfortable man! He’s doing his best. He’s not trying to annoy you, he’s trying to get more comfortable!” He no longer bothered me. I sent him love and comfort. He deserved it.
In the end, I really enjoyed the sweat lodge. I felt so blessed they let me in, that there was nothing I could complain about – especially considering my position of freedom. Maybe it was okay I didn’t torture myself and found pleasure because then I could be a better support for others? At least that’s what I told myself. As I exited the sweat and smoke filled dome, I was rebirthed, covered in earth, and ready for whatever life had to offer me.
Of course, the next morning I woke up with a deer tick having bit me. I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony. Did I just to go a healing San Pedro ceremony to heal from my potential tick disease only to contract another tick disease? Hahah. I hope not. But if I did, there’s always next time.
What do you want most in the world? Close your eyes and picture it. Is it love? The caress of a person you long for to be eternally devoted to you? Is it success? The accomplishment of settling into your ideal career, or getting the job of your wet dreams? Is it money? Being so wealthy that you can use dollar bills as toilet paper? Which, btw, I do not recommend because that’s one hell of a place to get a paper cut. Is it the perfect body? Being so chiseled you could cut steak with your abdomen? What is it? Let your greatest desire, your deepest want wash over you. Do you have it in your mind’s eye? Are you holding that yearning in the palm of your hand? Stroking it like a flaccid soldier you want to harden for action?
Now guess what?
You will never get it.
You will never get what you want.
I’m not saying what you want won’t happen. It’s absolutely possible that it will happen. But once you get what you want, you will not want it anymore. Not in the same way. The wanting will evaporate. The initial bliss will be replaced by being accustomed to having what you wanted. You will get used to it, and it will be impossible to remember the yearning of before. What you wanted will no longer be a desire, but a familiar part of your life that is taken advantage of, unappreciated, and expected.
I used to want to be a published writer. Salon published my first article 7-years ago. I then wanted that article to be read more than it was. After that, I wanted to write for other publications. I did. But then I wanted my articles to go viral… frowny face. I got sick of writing for other people so I started writing movie and TV scripts. I made short films. I wanted my scripts and films to get into festivals. They did. Then I wanted my scripts and films to win awards at festivals. They did. Then I wanted some Hollywood big wig call me on the phone to tell me, “You’ve got the goods sweetheart. I’m buying you a ticket to tinsel town.” Still waiting.
I once wanted a boy. I got that boy. He annoyed me. I wanted to be free. We broke up. I was lonely. I wanted long hair. I grew long hair. It got tangled. I wanted change, I got bangs, too much change. I wanted to start a business. I started a business. It was stressful. I wanted chocolate crepes with strawberries. I made chocolate crepes with strawberries. I ate too much.
You will always have something to complain about when you are in the mindset of complaining. You can always find problems. You will always want the next thing. What you have will never be enough. Nothing will ever satiate the deep need for more that lives within us.
Unless you are an enlightened being, of course, which in that case, groovy.
I am currently not enlightened, so this paradigm is something I struggle with from time to time (every day). Yet I am aware of it, and that awareness makes it less painful (not really). Contentment is a very hard emotion to cultivate, and even harder to maintain. Yet contentment is what we all need more of. Not perfection. Contentment.
Maybe that’s not the sexiest concept? How are you today? I’m content. You don’t hear that very often. But we should. That is what she should be seeking. Not happiness. Happiness is an ethereal fairy that drifts around indiscriminately like a floating dandelion seed. A more reasonable expectation of life is having total acceptance for what is and an apperception for what’s in front of you.
Feeling genuinely grateful.
Yet you have to remind yourself to feel grateful. Daily. I don’t think gratitude is our default operating system. I think we have to upload it every morning. Have rituals to connect to it. My personal strategy to access gratitude is listening to 90’s hip hop or smoking weed in nature. We all have our methods. What’s yours?
How do you feel about the day of your birth? Do you enjoy being celebrated? Do you relish in being the hot dog for a day and nestle betwixt the buns of your personhood? Or does the concept of aging cause anxiety? Do you fear your imminent death and want to shove your head into the sands of time in order to avoid thinking about the unforgiving truth that soon you will be consumed by soil as worms slowly engulf your rotting flesh?
My particular birthday falls in a strange vortex of time – December 29th– this piercing eye amidst a cyclone of holidays, vacations, celebration, and darkness. There is a collective expectation for fun during this season, anticipation hangs in the air, and a mutual yearning coats those winter weeks. This particular year – as the day commemorating the glorious moment where I blasted out of my mom’s sacred internal oven approached – I began to feel an intense pressure. I was stalked by an unrelenting need to do something out of the ordinary. Something spiritual, something mind blowing, something that would shake up my consciousness and dip me into the quantum soup of our so-called reality which is actually just a hologram projected onto a screen of mutual mass illusion.
My first plan was to drink ayahuasca. I wasn’t particularly in the mood to do so, but there was an opportunity to. I have done ayahuasca before because of course I have I’m a white hippy, and a friend invited me to a ceremony that happened to be taking place on that exact day that I was spewed from my mother’s womb. Yet I had my reservations because I didn’t feel the personal needto look into the black eyes of my demons and crawl into the ceaseless vacuum of inner darkness that layers my soul, but I would have. Sadly, however, that event was cancelled, and I was left with no plans. Then another friend invited me to a Kambo ritual, which in case you’re not familiar, is the psychedelic frog medicine where a shaman burns the amphibian’s venom into your skin and you spend the next half hour or so vomiting and shitting out toxins – which sounded like a real party. But sadly for me, I had just gotten mercury fillings removed from my mouth and had spent the day taking benzos at the dentist the day before the Kambo was going to take place. I guess sedating yourself on medical grade heroine isn’t the best recipe for spiritual enlightenment produced through anal leakage, and I couldn’t participate in that event either.
I was starting to panic. I didn’t know what to do to satiate my yearning and had no idea how to spend the day venerating the instant where I disgorged from my mother’s birth canyon. I knew I had a feeling of wanting to connect to something larger than myself but was unclear how to accomplish that. I couldn’t ignore this feeling of restlessness. I yearned to dive into myself, to uncover a new layer. Tormented by this need I smoked a little weed and went for a night walk around the lake by myself with my dog, Luna, hoping I would figure out what to do with myself. The moon was full, it was the winter solstice, and the season had just turned to Capricorn. It was as cold as a witch’s tit, and the wind was unyielding. I walked around thinking about nothing important (myself) and contemplated this and that (me and more me).
Eventually I made my way to the graveyard and tromped through the snow to find the familiar place where my best friend Bitty’s grave is. I kneeled down and pressed my forehead against the bird bath which marks her gravestone, allowing the essence of her energy to enter my 3rdeye. I decided to listen to some music and put on my “Bitty playlist” of songs that all reminded me of her. The vibrations reverberated from my headphones and I entered into a trance as our favorite song from childhood, “Like a Prayer,” played. I started singing to Bitty so she could hear it too. The next song was “Tennesse” by Arrested Development, which in case you haven’t heard that one in a while, is worth the listen. I was moved to get up and dance. The song “Scatman” was next – a stupid club song that Bitty and I danced to at the disco in Hungary when we were 15. I closed my eyes and could see perfectly clearly the way she danced in my mind’s eye. How she’d turn her arms into a snake like a Michael Jackson video we loved. How she smiled at me, a drunken sloppy smile as we threw our bodies around to the beat. I could see it effortlessly – a memory come to life. Then the timeless romantic tune “Gimme that Nutt” by Easy-E was blasted through. I still remembered every lyric (Bitty and I memorized the whole song) and again felt compared to share out loud these tender words as I danced.
“That dick you know what so roll over girl while I stick it in ya But I’ll turn it wild while I’m ridin’ that ass scream and shout My name is the same Just another pussy that I had tah tame soooooooo…”
My ego subsided and I lost myself in my own ceremony – a personalized ritual and ecstatic observance of the holy. In that moment I was unwatched by anyone, even myself. The memory of Bitty blended into what it was actually like to be around Bitty – like we were hanging out again. I danced for hours with her that night. Pounding the ground of her grave with the stomping of my feet. I had assumed the cure to my existential angst was some substance-induced experience to catapult me into the space time continuum, but what I really needed was to spend time my best friend again. To allow the connection to feel alive. Letting myself love Bitty is how I unite with the divine. She is my spiritual practice because she is my god source. She’s part of the mystery of death, the unknown of the eternal. Spending time with Bitty’s spirit is like a cleansing of my cells. It shakes me to my core and wakes me up to life. I deeply I miss my best friend, and that’s not something I always let myself feel because it’s so much to carry. I can’t always find the state of mind where it’s possible to truly open up and connect to her. That’s why I seek the guidance of psychedelics to push me over the edge. Yet that night alone with my dog under the full moon, I allowed all the feelings to flow through me again. These emotions I so often contain and repress because to really feel them is almost unbearable – how much love can hurt when you can no longer make new memories with someone. Yet there I was, on December 22nd2018 dancing with the gravestone of my best friend Bitty, making new memories with her spirit.
After that night I no longer cared about my birthday. I no longer felt that internal push. I was calm, almost serene. The holidays floated by in a daze and on the day of my birth, the day I was putting so much pressure on, I barely did anything. I made a video about my new bangs and played one continuous game of “Chutes and Ladders” with my kid for 2 hours. It was the most epic game of “Chutes of Ladders” ever played. Neither of us could win. We’d get so close to the final square, but then down a slide we’d go. We’d go from the top of the board to the bottom of the board again and again and again in an incessant feedback loop. After about the 70thtime I realized that “Chutes and Ladders” is the perfect metaphor for life and is preparing kids for their inevitable future. You go up, you go down, you go up, you go down, you go up, you go down. That board game is the most brilliant physical manifestation of existence ever created. Our inability to get to where we wanted to go was pushing us to the limits of sanity. We started screaming at the board. I began to sweat with frustration as my eyes blurred from fatigue. I was unable to comprehend how many times we’d fall down those damn chutes. I may not have had the drug inspired birthday I was seeking, but that game of “Chutes and Ladders” was truly shamanic.
A schedule is a helpful asset to adult survival. It allows structure to existence so as to better enslave my spirit to the constrictions of the matrix. Yet every so often I can feel oppressed by the mundane predictability of life. Go figure! I know I’m not alone in this feeling of psychic enslavement. We all have our methods of mental escape. Right at this very moment there is a guy on the Internet buying a pair of panties from a lady who has worn them for 6 days without showering. For whatever reason smelling these sullied undies will bring this man joy he can’t otherwise access. I must be kind of a square when it comes to rearranging my headspace because even the thought of strange man’s underwear penetrating my nasal cavity makes me dry heave. As such, I instead turn to other sources of inspiration to mix up my mind…
Mushrooms have become very “in vogue” recently thanks to Microsoft engineers partaking in micro-dosing morning rituals. Many of the human androids belonging to Silicon Valley wake up, have a bit of coffee, and then ingest tiny licks of psychedelics with their Wheaties. The true breakfast of champions!
Psychotropic drugs are ever so slowly becoming normalized in mainstream culture as a means of healing and self-betterment. “Micro-dosing” is a developing phenomenon and method for partaking in this mind-magnifying ritual of psychedelic ingestion, and I am a big advocate of this happening! I’m pretty sure if the Republican party woke up every morning to a Grateful Dead smoothie instead of their usual breakfast of goat’s blood and virgin flesh, the world would be a much different place! Yet personally I’m not sure I can keep up with the micro-dosing schedule. I barely remember to brush me teeth in the mornings (read as never) so adding slightly tripping to the docket seems like an unreasonable expectation of myself. As such, I prefer my mushrooms the old-fashioned way. Eating a bunch on top of a mountain and hoping I eventually find my way down in the dark.
Considering not everyone can get their hands on some cow shit foraged mushrooms or a fresh sheet of acid, I figured I would share my top 3 most recent mental meanderings while on mushrooms with you. Who knows, maybe reading this will save you the trip?
1) Nature is excessively beautiful. It’s painful how gorgeous a sunset can be. Even when inside the moment of experiencing natural glory, there is always a part of me that can’t appreciate it fully. That can’t suppress this underlying sense of nostalgic mourning for what I’m observing. I look at how amazing it all is and simultaneously feel the loss that the moment is fleeting. This tragic knowledge makes me miss the moment even when it’s right in front of me. Everything ends and will be lost in a memory I can only vaguely access. That tragedy makes me never want to leave the beauty of nature and instead focus purely on how gorgeous it all is. Yet with nature, the beauty is endless. As day turns to night, which turn to day again, there is nothing but beauty to witness if your eyes are open enough to see it. How perfect a blade of grass is, or a butterfly wing. How remarkable it is the way ants move, or when clouds morph. Human beings had to develop an indifference to this beauty. It was crucial to not always see it in order to prioritize other things like eating, mating, and staying alert for the dangers of predators. It was an evolutionary necessity to build up an indifference in order to function, yet this muscle has been over-developed. It’s become grossly exaggerated, pulsing, throbbing, and taking up too much space with its excessive force. Now in order to relax that muscle we often turn to drugs to bring us back to that state of being. Drugs are how we access the ability to acknowledge fully just how magical it all is. We crave reprieve from this feeling of indifference yet it’s this same feeling of indifference that also paved the path for “progress.”
2) In a capitalist society class is so deeply ingrained in your psyche that it will forever stain your understanding of self regardless of what’s in your bank account. If you were born rich, you will always see yourself as a rich person. Even if you lose all your money, you will just feel like a rich person who happens to not have money. Yet if you’re born poor, that mindset will stalk you as well. Even if you make a billion dollars, you will still feel like a poor person who just happens to have money.
3) After I made it down from the mountain (SURPRISE) I of course sat under the stars. Looking up at the sky, I could see the energetic connections between the stars – this hazy blaze of luminescence that tied the stars together in a cosmic web of connection. It looked like the synapses that attach neurons in our brains. This made me realize that not only are the stars communicating with each other, but the structure vastly resembles the neural network of the human mind. So… check it. What if planet earth is just one neuron inside the head of giant conscious being, and every star in our universe (or multiverse) are actually neurons inside this giant conscious skull? And what if that giant being is part of a community of other giant beings and whatever planet they are on is just one neuron inside the scull of ANOTHER giant conscious being? Which means subsequently that every neuron in each of our brains are actually the stars of a smaller universes and in one of our neurons is a little planet like earth?
Aren’t feathers and clouds UNBELIEVABLE!! Isn’t it crazy not to spend your days staring at them and never doing anything else ever again?
There is nothing quite like crawling into bed, closing your tired eyes, allowing your breath to deepen, and then just as you’re about to drift off into a sweet slumber snuggled inside the encompassing embrace of Morpheus… you instead start thinking about everything you’ve ever regretted about your life coupled with enervating anxiety about your future. I love when that happens!!! As a life-long insomniac this is often my process in going to sleep, and it’s EXACTLY as fun as it sounds. Something about trying to lose consciousness makes me instead consciously obsess about all that’s wrong with me which then transmutes to all that’s wrong with the world. So relaxing!
I just got back from vacation, and during that time I was sharing a room with The Munch. Her method for settling down into slumber was to toss and turn in bed as if she were training for a breakdancing marathon. Go figure, but it’s really hard to sleep when someone next to you is engaged in a head-spin. The sounds of sheets rustling against her flailing body eroded my psyche and disturbed any chance I had in settling my soul. With every grand gesture she made, I fell further into the abyss of my own self-loathing. I began stressing about my career and overall lack of financial success. I then started feeling inadequate for all my political impotency. This lead to my being consumed by a deep sensation of dread for everything that was to come in not only my life, but in the future of humanity as well. Stories of the horrific news swirled through my synapses. It was a Kafkaesque nightmare of my own making, and my daughter’s thrashing punctuated my every concern as if she were mocking my anguish with rustling fabric.
Toni: Munch, I’m having a really hard time trying to fall asleep and it doesn’t help with all that wiggling you’re doing! It’s actually really loud. Can you stop moving around so much?
Munch: I just can’t stop thinking about sea glass?
Munch: I just keep imagining giant pieces of sea glass. In my imagination, I go to pick up a piece of sea glass and just the small corner is poking out, but when I pull it, I realize it’s actually a GIANT piece of sea glass. I just can’t stop imagining that. That’s why I’m wiggling.
AHHHH TO BE A CHILD!!!!
The beauty of her thoughts compared to mine.
As an adult it’s impossible for me not to envy the purity of a child’s imagination. A brain that hasn’t been burdened by social programming and conditioning… YET. This still malleable mind of the innocent that thinks beyond the confines of civilization. I was inspired by The Munch’s mental meandering about sea glass and equally lost in self-pity. To live in my mind feels like being trapped in Dostoevsky novel while also inside a Russian prison. Yet to live in The Munch’s mind is like experiencing a perpetual episode of Pee Wee’s Playhouse on acid. Her perception of existence feels unattainable for me to achieve because the corruption of culture has infiltrated my sense of reality. I can’t fathom the relief of a mind that focuses so deeply on the joy of finding GIANT pieces of sea glass that it kept me up at night.
Yet this lack of imagination, of creativity, of seeing how the world could be different, is exactly why we are watching the demise of this country. As annoying as it is to have my kid keep me up at night, at least my kid is fucking with me and not being ripped from my arms by the US government!
If you have my mental sensibility, chances are the world depresses the fuck out of you. The news overwhelms you. You fear for the future of not only your own life, but what is going to happen to mankind and the animals we are forcing into extinction. Sure, the planet will continue, yet I can’t help but want life to as well. Call me a romantic, but I like life. I think it’s nifty. It would be a real bummer if human beings annihilated it with their selfish greed. I don’t think this is the way things have to be. I think we are stuck in our programming and need a major reboot of how we configure everything. We need a lot more imagination when it comes to solving our political troubles. For example, the solution to this so-called immigration “problem” is not baby prisons. Let’s actually re-imagine how we structure society and get rid of borders.
I don’t understand why this is such an outlandish proposition. We already live in a global society. Our media is global. Our communication is global. Our trade is global. Why are we holding onto borders? What do they accomplish? Having borders means we have war. Having borders means we have EVIL anti-immigration tactics. Having borders means we have nationalism that promotes racist ideologies. What do borders accomplish that are good for humanity as a whole? Borders don’t even reflect the truth of how we interact. Borders are a colonialist structure that benefits those in power. Borders are a way to perpetuate capitalist corruption. Borders serve zero purpose to the suffering, and clearly only have value for those in power. Why can’t we instead develop a system that supports and admits our interconnectedness? What are we holding onto by maintaining this antiquated arrangement?
I want to see a political platform that is thinking on these levels. That wants to truly eradicate the infrastructure that’s designed for the rich to oppress the poor. Only then will I have a night where I can maybe think about sea glass instead of traumatized children.
To be fair munch is right, sea glass is pretty epic.
I don’t help people move. I do a lot of things in this world, but moving you is not one. When even my best friends tell me they’re moving, I just smile without teeth, nod, and then change the topic to myself. We all have our limitations. I will share my underwear with you, I will hold your hair back while you vomit, I will pick your toenails, clean your open wounds, and listen to you endlessly complain about your lover – but I will not help move that lamp.
When it came to be my turn to move, I knew I had to go this journey alone. I can’t ask people to help me do things I would never do for them. Even when friends offered, I had to deny their generous gesture because I didn’t want to be beholden to a future moment of retribution. Fuck you friend. I’ll lift this bookshelf without you because your bookshelves are your problem!
When I used to move apartments in my 20’s, I would get through the experience by doing bounteous amount of cocaine. I would fully pack and unpack a house in a 36-hour period and not stop once to sleep, eat, or even rest. The only thing I would pause for was of course, more cocaine. Yet now that I’m in my 30’s I had to approach this move like the mature adult that I am. Plus, I don’t have a dealer out here in the woods so…
I guess I could have smoked weed, but who wants to puff on a joint and then pick up a couch? That wasn’t going to work, because then I would just eat chips and think about space. I had to move sober and totally aware of every moment.
There are a lot of things I had to face during this 8-day process of moving, cleaning, and organizing from 8 am until 12:30 am. The first most glaring reality is that I am an ecological terrorist. The number of meaningless things I have accumulated over the years were frightening. The amount of trash that was produced as a consequence was utterly horrific. The frequency of dump runs was downright depressing. I am never buying anything again – except for white cut off shorts for the summer because cute right?
I also could not help but notice my own naivety and entitlement. Because I’ve never owned a house, there is a detachment I have in the places I’ve lived. In my parent’s house I’d do the obvious things to keep it clean, like put away my dishes and pick up my room, but if I spilled crumbs of the floor I’d figure someone else would deal with that. I wasn’t going to wash their floors or windows. When I lived in apartments with boyfriends, we’d just accept crumbs on our floor. I never cleaned my toilet, or my shower. I didn’t vacuum, or scrub. I didn’t care. I’d just look at massive dust bunnies as pets and brown stains as decorative. When I’d see mouse shit on my counters I’d just flick it behind the oven and move on with my day.
Throughout my 30’s I’ve had a cleaning person that has helped out with these nitty gritty details. I’d pick up for her and make things presentable, but I’d still assume that someone else would deal with things I didn’t feel like doing. This privileged perspective of “Oh, that will get done eventually, just not by me.”
My own ignorance became glaringly apparent to me when I realized there was a major moth infestation that had to be dealt with. Now, I’m not a total idiot. I kind of knew that you didn’t want moths in your house and something about putting cedar in closets. But I also simultaneously thought moths weren’t that bad, and just night butterflies. I didn’t realize that moths would eat the shit out of fabric and plague your belongings with their maggots! I don’t know if you’ve ever picked up a cushion and then realized that you’re covered in moth larva, but holy shit is that a humbling moment. I spent 6 hours of my life vacuuming, scrubbing, cleaning, vacuuming, and then cleaning moth larva – breathing in these miniscule fetuses.
So much of my stuff was covered in mouse piss from storing it that I had to clean every single thing I owned, including my cleaning products. I realized that I had to accrue a different awareness about my impact on not only the planet, but also how I approach my own relationship to responsibility. I can’t have the entitled attitude of the past, nor can I pass that on to my kid. As such I got her a dust buster so she can vacuum up her crumbs every time she sits down to eat.
Yet despite my spoiled complaining of how much it sucks to move, it was actually a truly profound meditation. White people pay for meditation retreats to find enlightenment (present company included) but the mundane process of going through everything you own, cleaning it, and then putting it in a specific place was akin to a mediation retreat on crack. This mundane work took me to a mindful place where nothing else mattered but wiping off a counter. Dealing with how in the beginning it felt so overwhelming to stare at everything you own covered in animal feces to slowly chiseling down the effort where not only is all clean again, but also put away in its newly proper place was truly transcendent. I didn’t listen to music, or podcasts. I didn’t talk to anyone or distract myself with drugs. I just focused purely on the act in front of me, even if it was finding an onion that had somehow been packed in the kitchen “box” and said onion had molded to a point of creating a new ecosystem of fungus.
I became so absorbed in this process that I forgot who I was. I forgot my ambitions, my anxieties about work, my depression about my unrealized dreams. I even forgot one of my best friend’s birthdays! I didn’t check email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. I didn’t hear about the news or the fact that WE ARE PUTTING BABIES IN DETENTION CENTERS AND OUR GOVERNMENT IS RUN BY IMMORAL MONSTERS WHICH ONLY HIGHLIGHTS OUR AMERICAN LEGACY OF SEPERATING FAMILIES THROUGH THE GUISE OF POLITICAL POLICY WHEN IN FACT ITS PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE AGAINST THE OPPRESSED!
Fully immersing myself in the mundane was a vacation from the mania of myself. I dove into my psyche at its core and scraped off the superficial concerns that usually plague me. Yet now I don’t know who I am. I sit in front of my computer and I question everything. I became Toni who vacuumed and scrubbed, and that Toni had a mental freedom that the Toni that writes, makes videos, talks comedy into microphones, and tries desperately to be noticed doesn’t have. Cleaning Toni can have a goal and accomplish it. Cleaning Toni can eradicate crumbs and handle moth abortions. Trying to get into Sundance Toni I’m not so sure about.
My stuff… still covered in pee pee of rodents
ecological terrorism 🙁
I also found such gems as the below old diary… where I not only practiced by alphabet cursive, but graded myself and A+ and decided I was “great.”
What do you guys feel about the “law of attraction?” Do you feel you attracted to it? Have you been able to attract the law of attraction? Does that word sound silly to you now? Attraction. Attraction. Attraction. AHHHHH LIFE HAS NO MEANING!
In simple terms, the “law of attraction” means the ability to attract into our lives what we focus on. If you direct your attention towards negative thoughts, then, that’s what you will attract. But if you focus on positive things, then suddenly you will be transported to a land of clouds made of cotton candy where fairies fart plum flavored pixie dust into your mouth and all your life’s dreams will be accomplished as hard-bodied lovers massage your inner thighs and kiss you tenderly with their eyes open to better gaze upon your magnificence. I don’t know about you guys, but I guess I must be a negative thinker because my life seems to be more of a series of mouth farts made by a burly guy that has heart burn and a penchant for sloppy-joes.
I have a law of attraction story (I think), but you guys have to help me better understand it.
The other day I went for a hike in the backwoods of my house with my friend, and we did what any two responsible mothers having a break from parenting would do – smoked a joint and started obsessing about how moss is spiritual. We were having a grand time pontificating about the splendor of nature and its endless capacity to incorporate the needs of all living organisms when the unthinkable happened – we ran into another human being!
These woods are technically private property, but, also are they? Can anyone really own the land, man? But what I do know for sure, is that this lady took one look at me dressed in my uniform of sweatpants, a buffalo plaid hunting shirt, a jacket 4 sizes too big, and my hair resembling a nest for baby possums, and questioned if I was an undeserving vagabond who didn’t belong in these private woods, relishing the forest floor, deliberating if mushrooms are actually God’s freckles. I live in a pretty snobby area where people are VERY concerned about the goings on of others and always trying to make sure if you truly BELONG. It’s the New England way to belittle anyone who you think might be poorer than you.
Lady in the Woods: Did you come from the highway down the road?
Toni: I did not. We came from the estate over yonder! Betwixt the lord’s land and the serf’s manor. And you my lady? From where did you emerge?
Lady in the Woods: Oh. My parents live up the road.
Toni: I’ve never seen another person in these woods before.
Lady in the Woods: Neither have I.
More awkward silence.
Lady in the Woods: So, what do you do about ticks?
Toni: Oh, ummm, nothing really.
Lady in the Woods: Well, I had Lyme disease so I’m extra concerned.
Toni: That makes sense.
My Friend: I make a yarrow tincture.
Lady in the Woods: I never heard that. I’ll try it.
As my friend and I walked off, I was kind of irritated. For one – I didn’t like this lady’s attitude. Even if we had come from the road does that mean we should be denied the opportunity to stroll amongst the trees?! It’s not like my friend and I had chainsaws and were hacking plants recklessly. We weren’t smashing beer bottles, or hunting wildlife. We were chilling! This lady’s energy felt so elitist, exemplifying the very selfish attitude of the wealthy that only THEY are eligible to experience pristine natural beauty while us peasants should instead congregate at “public beaches” and “public parks” to roll around in the trash of their corporate greed. Barf.
My second problem was that this lady made me think about ticks!
Toni: Who does that lady think she is? Being so damn proprietary! PRETTY SURE THIS IS MY FAMILY’S LAND!!! MINE MINE MINE!! Also… I wasn’t thinking about ticks at ALL before she said that, and now I can’t stop thinking about them!
My Friend: That’s a little nutty. You didn’t think about ticks once? This whole time?
Toni: NO! Didn’t even occur to me.
My Friend: Well, maybe you should think about them?
Toni: How is that going to make my life any better? I was having such a good time in my head not thinking about fucking ticks… and now that I’m thinking about ticks, I’m having a less good time!
My Friend: Still, it’s a little hubris not to think of ticks.
Toni: Aren’t ticks the physical manifestation of capitalism? These creatures that suck blood until they are so full they just fall off their victim and are forced to then lay on the floor, unable to walk away because their bodies become too bloated and their legs too short to touch the ground?
My Friend: This lady Susun Weed who has a podcast I listen to says that she just asks the part of her body and consciousness that feels things on her skin to communicate with her. She connects with that internal knowledge that has the awareness to let her know if there is a tick walking around.
Toni: Huh. That’s pretty smart.
My Friend: Right?
So, I did just that. I asked my body to let me know if there were any ticks on me.
I got home and suddenly my body told me: take off your socks and pants. Wouldn’t you know it… THERE WERE TWO TICKS ON MY LEGS! I got them off, and then asked my body again to let me know if there were any more. About ten minutes later I picked one off my head, and then ANOTHER off my neck!
Now here is my question!!
Did this lady save me by mentioning the ticks? After all, if she hadn’t said anything I wouldn’t have thought to take off my pants and socks to look for ticks at all. It’s because of that conversation that I became concerned about ticks and tried to connect to my body to give me insight on whether or not they were on me. Also, the fact that she initially offended my sense of morality made the conversation that much more heightened. So, in reality, her being a judgmental profiler made me listen even more.
Did this lady CAUSE the ticks? If she hadn’t said anything I never would have thought of the ticks at all! Did her mentioning the ticks made me think of them and there for ATTRACT THEM TO ME!? Had I never thought of the ticks, would I never have attracted them, and there for never HAD to look for them.
WHICH ONE IS IT??
(PS my friend had NO ticks on her…)
(PPS my friend was also using the yarrow tincture)
Ummmm, yeah, so as a white woman I’d like to put all call out there to other white women to maybe stop being so wack? I feel like you’re really diluting the brand and kind of ruining it for the rest of us. First, white women vote Donny Trumpy into office. Then, white women vote for molesty Roy, almost electing that handsy pervert who targeted underage girls. And NOW they keep calling the cops on black people that have the audacity to do things like: take a nap at Yale, walk with their baby in a stroller while peacefully appreciating the day, or (…gasp…) have a BBQ at the park!
Not only are women voting monsters into office, but they’re openly acting out racist paranoia and infringing on the lives of citizens by TRAUMATIZING THEM with unnecessary police visits. These fearful calls are indicative of a pandemic in this culture that is in no way new and has been festering beneath the surface of the media for a long time. Much like with police brutality none of its news to the black community that’s been living these nightmares. Yet right now because of social media there is a highlighter on these incidents of whites feeling emboldened to exploit their lack of fear of the police (because of white privilege) and inflict the police on the population that legitimately is least trusting of the cops. Does this mean that white women are more racist than ever because they’re engaging in this behavior? Nope. Just as racist as always, we’re just hearing about it more because it’s a news trend.
I want to understand why this is happening and better deconstruct the double helix of women who support the patriarchy as well as racist ideology. I try to avoid pointing fingers because there’s so much else we ladies can do with our fingers, am I right? Yet as much as I want to be an empathetic human, I’m struggling with my own judgements of these white women. The archetypal woman that is diving into the depths of her racism is also often deeply connected to a more conservative, patriarchal, and right-wing political background. Not that there isn’t plenty of a racist under-current with left-wing yuppy burners that have already planned the perfect outfit for “the playa.” Racism exists on the left as well as the right, but it’s a different flavor than the “calling cops on daddies pushing strollers” variety.
Left wing racism has its own insidious impact and shows up in white feminism, socially responsible investing, and all sorts of activist endeavors. It’s the kind of racism that seeps slowly from underneath the floor boards, like a Colonial Ghost in a haunted house. Right wing racism is a little more out in the open and feels deeply entwined with women that have internalized misogyny, and direct it at themselves and other women.
So, what’s up with these women calling cops on black people and voting monsters into office?? What are they thinking and why? I’ve come up with a few theories to try and deconstruct the motivations of these women of the alt-right. The women who vote for men that openly oppress and sexually assault their gender, and who’s racism fuels their alliance.
1) Theory number 1: Daddy Dearest – Perhaps their fathers are pretty right-wing, conservative, racist, sexist, and patriarchal within the family structure. They grew up being conditioned to think that “Daddy knows best” for he was the default king of morality within the house. Daddy’s ideology was the prevailing culture, and everyone else had to follow his lead. Mommy was perhaps Daddy’s servant and catered to his every need, never prioritizing her own, only polishing the pedestal he perched on. Mommy deferred to Daddy as the head of the house, therefor he must be the wise sage Mommy thinks he is! These little girls grow up with a programmed hero complex of Daddy and haven’t yet separated their psychology from his. They instead adapt Daddy’s beliefs as their own and are unware of the violence they are directing at other women and subsequently themselves because they cannot fathom the idea that Daddy might have been wrong, or a flawed man. If Daddy was racist, that’s because Daddy knows whites are superior. If Daddy thinks a woman can’t be president, that’s because women must be inferior – not that Daddy doesn’t understand how menopause works so his fears of menstruating heads of state are pretty unfounded. These women don’t want to see that Daddy could be wrong about anything, because then Daddy could have been wrong about everything.
2) Theory number 2: The Man I’m Fucking Can’t be an Idiot Because What Does That Make Me? – Let’s say you’re dating, or married, or love-making to an alt-right, racist, sexist. You’re letting him penetrate your body, and subsequently your mind. The last thing you want to think is that this guy is an idiot, because that makes you a dumb dumb for sleeping with him. To avoid self-reflecting, these ladies absorb the opinions of the man they are fornicating with, because to question him is to question why you’re letting his penis inside you in the first place. For these ladies it’s easier to fall into his line of thinking than it is to wonder “why do I let the dick of this dick poke me?”
3) Theory Number 3: Like Trauma, Racism and Sexism Are Passed Through DNA – Science has proven that trauma impacts our DNA and is passed to our offspring. Survivors of slavery, the holocaust, abuse, all have their genetic codes altered because of their experiences. Considering this, I have to wonder if it’s possible that hate can impact our DNA as well. I recently saw an experiment where a plant was bullied, and another plant was praised with loving kindness. The results were remarkable. The bullied plant wilted and was in a state of physical suffering close to death, where the celebrated plant flourished. It makes me think that it’s possible that strong feelings of hate can alter your DNA, and therefore be passed through genetics. Of course, if your socialized in a hateful house it will impact your psychology regardless, but I do question if there is a biological connection worth studying.
4) Theory Number 3: Brainwashed by the Patriarchy – The patriarchy is a social system where power is held by adult men, not only at home within the family, but also in the world at large. The word “patriarchy” is an ancient greek term that translates “the rule of the father,” and, for the past 6,000 years, has been the foundation upon which we’ve built our society. Skyscrapers of male dominance dominate the domineering skyline, supported by the scaffolding of the belief system that women are morally, intellectually, and physically inferior to men. Yes, in the past 100 years there has been major progress of addressing this reality, but the patriarchy is so entwined with “the state” that it’s impossible to “smash the patriarchy” and not “smash the state.” Women gaining power within the patriarchy (the state) is still supporting the system. Violence and the threat of violence is what props up the patriarchy and it’s manifested both in the macro and micro. The threat of nuclear war and the threat of men abusing/raping women loom over our psyches and beat us into submission. Both genders fall victim to the state and the patriarchy and sadly both genders reinforce its existence by participating in it. Women voting against their interests and electing a pussy-grabber into the white house is the same as the men voting against their interests and voting for an elitist economic tyrant. Racism is a tool of the patriarchy (the state) because if poor women and poor men of ALL RACES united into a 3rd party we would annihilate this illusionary two-party regime that has been ruling with little regard for the planet or the health of humanity. White women who operate with racist ideology supporting the very patriarchal rule that deems them inferior are mind-controlled victims of the reckless greed of the 1%.
5) Theory Number 4: Self-Hate – There has to be an element of self-hate with white women propping up the men that are proven to violate other women. There has to be a deep self-hate when you hate other races. Hate breeds hate. A super well-adjusted loving person who feels one with the universe and has dissolved their ego into the quantum field does not go around calling the cops on black people enjoying their lunch.
6) Theory Number 5: Capitalism – Whiteness is inherently more valuable within the capitalist structure. When black people move into a neighborhood, white people complain it brings down the “value” of the neighborhood. Seeing black people in perceived “white spaces” threatens the value, and thus their sense of self. This thinking of “I have to protect myself from you, black person, from impacting the value of my experience in this space. I as a white woman have value, and your being near me is impacting my stock. Your existence is degrading my space and the police will protect me from your impact on my economic value.” Racism preserves the white hierarchy because women are the prizes to be won by wealthy white men. As the objects of wealth they want to maintain their market price tag.