This week we talk with Andre Rodriques – a wanderer, wonderer and a lover of life.  His abiding love of a great story has taken Andre to many First Nations clans where he has soaked up traditional tales and teachings, that he has in turn, shared with any willing heart and ear.  Dedicated to the ceremony of life, Andre honours the ways of old and revels in the modern ceremonial expression of music festivals.  Creating community through connection, this spoken word artist, poet, storyteller brings his dance from deep within.  Andre talks about finding himself in the middle of the party, the ecstatic dance and heart of it all, and discovering his truth:  depression, addiction and isolation.  It’s raw and authentic.
This is the piece that Andre shared with us today:

Call me Toto Andre’ : peacemaker

The way to peace, is not to make other people peaceful, but to find your peace, and then let it ripple. But lately, my peace has gotten away from me, disrupted by an illusion of confusion, surrounded on all sides by society’s and my own delusions in collision and collusion.
You see, I’ve been hooked on the sugar since I was 3. And since then, have developed an addictive personality. And now I’m juggling with struggling with an affliction of addiction, some drugging and drinking, but more so a pattern of thinking. I’ve been up and down like a rodeo clown, in an attempt to turn my frown around. It’s been a test. But with the support of family and friends, one i know i can best. It’s been a journey, a hard look of self-discovery, now in recovery, bolstered by the fact, that in this: I am not alone. There are many of us out there, at the end of our tether, if things get tough, just pick up the phone, yo-yo. I’ve reached out for help and developed new tools to cope, with my mental incapacity, with veracity. One simple list, made up of four goals:
1. calm. ease up on your nerves, be kind to your self, and know that one setback does not cancel all the steps forward you’ve earned. breathe. sink your toes into the earth, ground through your heels, are things I’ve found worked.
2. diet. eat well, be well. practice mindful eating, engage all your senses, and taste what you’re tasting. this, too, helps as a way to disengage from the mind’s mental loops. (as to life’s hoops that we jump, one thing at a time, and each box that is ticked, is an accomplishment worth mini-celebratin’ with chime..s).
3. exercise. go for a walk. engage in activities that quicken your heart, pumping blood to all of your parts that need healing, that drugs and alcohol may have been stealing. and dance, yo! dance like a mofo! and this, too, know: many of us drugged and drunk so we could dance like fools. so, if you skip to the dance, the trance will be freeing. not to mention, the money you’ll save while still attending to your spiritual/emotional wealth-being.
4. sleep. get much needed rest is a great way to deal with the stress. in dreaming, our brain’s way of untangling our synaptical mess.
Now, I’m not against drugs, they can be healing, a way of revealing pains we’re concealing. In a shadow world of our fears, people are cogs and gears, where everyone is playing, displaying whom they think they have to be, putting on masks, co-creates a fearful reality, not our true humanity. Over time,we’ve built up dams round our hearts, and part of my plan, is to break them apart, to release a flood of love in fits and starts. And our plant medicines and teachers can be great guides, but they’re just preachers, they’re wisdom without whys. In observation, in my younger days, when ecstasy was all the rave, what we loved was the loving emotion. All the drugs did was tear down the walls to the love that was already there. But if you kept seeking that love through a drug, you’d end up empty and impaired.
In life’s sweet irony, those who don’t probably need to, and those of us who do too much, might need to ease up a few. Personally, i fell out of touch, and a much needed break is a play, for me, to collect my thoughts that have been running away. Even their ability to access my creativity, in my naivety, forgot all they were doing was unveiling what was already there and waiting.
But now I’m baiting, that this affliction is just a reflection–a micro to the macro–of a society that is grating. Now to find your peace is to follow your passion, but to do so in this climate of quick-fix industrial complex can be degrading and deflating. A rare thing that angers me, so many bright lights disregarded so easily, wasting away in jobs decided by inflating inflation. So many of us, following our hearts and our passions, engaged with what life’s plan for us, our gifts to be giving, also found in this shadow world, we couldn’t make a living. And those making a living, their passions were stolen, and in their place, a hole left holin. So, many of us, in different ways, to fill up our days and find release to our silent pains, have engaged in a variety of addictions. Addicted to shopping, sports watching, sex, t.v., money and power. Probably, even, addicted to showers!
So, let’s get to the root, when in biding in our distractions, our subtractions, that which makes us weak, that which we really seek: to form connections and increase our confidence, to feel a sense of value, power, praise, and acceptance. Due to low self-esteem and a child’s mentality, which we’re kept in by powers that be, we’re constantly seeking approval to prove our worth, in a system that takes us and breaks us and leaves us dis-empowered, that often, without authority, while attempting authenticity, being brave, we’re treated as cowards.
But really, it’s just people expressing their pain, overworked and undervalued, trapped by a perspective of life as survival, gets us acting greedy and needy, set-up as rivals, no matter how much you get paid, just trying to save, against an uncertain future, an opened suture, the gap between rich and poor, not in morality but subjective reality, por favor.
Poor verse rich, blame and shame the name of the game, for the rich see the poor as lazy, i made it, so must they can be, blinded by their own grind and hard work, and then written off as jerks, as the poor see : the rich have so much, but just like drugs, this can put you out of touch. This aversion to diversity and misunderstanding has overwhelmed our humanity, and made us all crazy, the least, with some whose solution is to escape the city of this misguided beast; but this will only leave our brothers and sisters to their de-vices, and their delusion, left unchecked, it will not cease, and will spread and catch us, no matter where we run, an adult game of hide and seek. lost to be found. in all of us, we have to practice trust profound. We have to stand and stay, this will take time and space, but know it’s not a race. It’s grace. And to bridge that gap is not to battle and fight, but empathetic calmmunication, to cast the shadows with our light. What prevents us is the division, an illusion, what will save us, is a family reunion.
So what is the solution to our mental, physical, emotional, spiritual pollution?
Well, what lab rats and the Vietnam war has taught us, is that any addiction, left alone, will spiral into abusive dereliction, a destitute condition. But rats in community, same access to drugs, will only turn to it as an addition, an augment, to the joys of life, a highlight; just as soldiers returned from war, victims of heroin, if they had friends and family to support them, kicked the habit, an act of heroism. Or our addiction to violence, a language taught as a way of life, to child soldiers of the Congo, who engaged in the most violent of acts, escaped the culture of hate, with only their backs, uncertain of life if they left, found when they were met by villagers of villages, who bravely took them in, showered them with love and care, cured their despair and dis-ease, were turned the worst criminals into warriors of peace.
So, not abstinence or even moderation, sometimes a good binge is needed to let out what is kept tightly in, but the answer is simple, and starts with a c: community! With built in multi- relationships, a sharing of perspectives, ways to bide the time in loving experiences, what care can teach us. Community, built in with a sense of purpose and belonging, a positive reflection of self-worth, mirth, and sing-songing. Community, that which we do not build, but which builds us!
But who has the time to live out this rhyme? And since when did time equal money, when, in reality, time equals space. How did we get in such a rush and how do we change? Should we even try? So accustomed to habits and lies. In my search for re-birth, I’ve unearthed a model of change, that seeks to sought to explain the change game.
It runs this way: pre-contemplation, where we see no need to change. Then contemplation, where we weigh the benefits to rearrange. Then preparation, a plan of attack. Then action, the attempt of new tact. In this model, there was space for relapse–as we gather ourselves and recognize the struggle is real, 2 steps forward, one step back, is still a step forward, consider it a dance, toe to heal. Then, there is maintenance, until, again, we’re in pre-contemplation, an ever spinning cycle, a revolution of improvement and relation.
1. Pre-contemplation. In the example I was given, they used cigarettes, the woman on the video had no regrets: I like smoking. She said. Helps with my stress. I enjoy it too much. And it’s my social glue. And so goes, for most of our culture, change is impossible. That’s just the way it is. You earn what you’re due. And if you look around, we’re doing just fine. We have computers and cars and malls and electricity. We’re living quite happily.
2. Then comes the contemplative stage. Well, i do have this cough and am short of breath. It’s deep in my pockets and stains up my teeth. And, if you do look around, the symptoms of our society are out on the streets. In the impoverished, malnourished, forgotten, labelled: deadbeats. In our violence, in our wars, in our poisoned shores. In our cities, divided and separated, where the bigger we get, the more isolated, each struggling to pay the bills, poor or rich, all carrying the world on our shoulders like boulders. Our addiction to money fuelled by our debts. It’s no coincidence that debt sounds like death. With your value below zero, feel like one’s worth is lower than dirt. Which is a lie to your immeasurable spiritual worth. To those whom you love and love you, too. But a lie of imaginary numbers can enslave whole countries in the red into black and blue. Ones that cause us to rip up mother earth, turn her dirt and delights into smoke and toxins, eco-systems on the brink of collapsin, thousands of species on the verge of vanishin, and liked trapped mice, we’re boxed in.
Those of us who have been to festivals, gatherings, or rallies, engaged in gardens or are volunteers in our communities, cleaning up allies, have contemplated that things can be different. That something ancient in us had awoken, to our spirit something had spoken. That a different way of living, in collaboration, not competition, in supporting each other, not the other to overcoming, like a forest isn’t one big tree, but the mutual support of an entire ecology economy. Look to nature, not to our leaders, who are actually 5 years behind, the collective expression of our collective grind, the closer to the top, the tighter the bind, the less susceptible to change, the more violent the crime. Look not to the leaders, fighting for power, but to the people on the fringes and margins, far from the tower, the ones with broken dreams that don’t fit in, are ones that can find ways out from this predicament gym. As one can be blind to boats, those goats that are bloated, fat on their feral fear-based focuses, won’t see us coming–not from those they see as powerless–they’ll be as the Grinch, expecting calamity, so let’s, as the Whos in Whoville, dance our true reality–of hope, home, love, light, and wonder; it’s really the gift given us by our mother–whom gives us everything we have, everything comes from her, and she hopes us to share her plunder.
I sat in a sweat lodge, while outside they debated about the state of our environment deflated, when mama whispered, i waited: hey, don’t worry about me. She said. I am powerful. Help my kids. You help them, you help me…you’ll see.
I’ve been taught that the way to peace, is not to make others peaceful. But to find your peace and let your peace ripple. But, for me, the way to my peace, is through gentle revolution.
3. Preparation. Make a plan of attack, ways to bring about change. Swap celery and carrots for the oral fixation, gums and patches for the nicotine addiction, learn breathing meditation. In the 4 notes to follow are some methods and means to move people from pre-contemplation. For those of us who have been privileged to experience community, we have tasted it, so we can believe what we’ve already achieved. For most, without the experience, it’s divorced from their day-to-day living. It’s an impossibility, it’s just dreaming. Dreaming they have no time to waste in. So don’t waste my time with any of your hippie make-believin. So, what we can give them, is a taste of our medicine, based on the medicine wheel–mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual that makes up a whole being. (see: a circle with four equal quadrants) Recognize, that our societal lies are based on half truths (see: our symbol of peace) that reflects the slice of our pie, focused overly on the physical and mental, while our emotional and spiritual are squished close together, squished so tight they became our religions, they kept their beliefs like secrets, waged an us verse them, rather than, lets expand it into balance, again; to share our knowledge for the better, and knit them together like a well-knit sweater. A little emotional education will go a long way. A bit of spiritual connection will bring the impossible into the magically real clay. And with that clay, we can shape the experiences that will bring a new day. In the least, spark the impossible possibilities, with the goal, not the ends, but the means, the joy in the journey, an adventure of friends.
4. Action. It’s a four-year, four-part plan, something to do that says, yes, we can! (ada)
2017: the mental, of air, let ideas spread with unabashed care.
2018: the physical, of earth, putting ideas into practical practice in dirt, if we dare.
2019: the emotional, of water, a flood of love and the pitch for an irrigation, non-debt economy, where we share.
and 2020: the spiritual, of fire, of clarity, of miracle, where we dance with flare!
In the spinning of each year, four notions:
1) a seed of mentality: a bank like a tree–and why they call it a branch–and non-debt economology, moving from a well-system of distribution, to one more akin to an irrigation solution–and why they call it a curren(t)cy. With the practice of a part-time philosophy. That is: work less, do more. That work with family, friends, community, yourself, may not pay, but is an infinitely invaluable score!
2) a play of physicality: a soccer like succour–the ultimate game of sharing, where you are constantly giving and receiving. Where people of different skills and abilities work together to put the ball in the net, and why we call it: a goal. A physical expression and experience of community collaboration and celebration. An international language to demonstrate the difference between cooperation and competition, and at their own game to boot!
3) a welling of emotionality: a Children’s Revolution solution–where we learn from the master teachers of love, where we remember how to dance, and how to sing, how to hug, not shove. Where the walls between classes and cultures and creed and colours, the children will tear down in giggles and wiggles, with smile-wide rainbows on their mothers. Whilst planting the seeds of a new/old ways of being in the hearts of these wild, child up-starts of healing!
4) a spark of spirituality, through festivals, gatherings, gardens, and you! The secret of any religion is not in the steeple, but the people. Anytime people gather together, their collective energy is expressed, and with each new addition, a multiplication, of an ever exponentially growing zest!
Four more notes to go for the rest.
In the meantime, adieu, thank you, hi hi, domo arrigato, merci beaucoup, for meandering with me, journeying with this broke bloke dude, who’ll end with two observations on time and money and a new attitude:
one earth hour is actually experienced as 7 billion human hours.
And one human hour is not measured in dollars per.
Actually, money is more a representation of human energy. Money doesn’t make anything, people do. And unlike money, human energy can’t be measured on a scale of up and down value.
Beautifully, you can have two people who are down on their day. They see each other as not in the way, but in it together, so together, they hug! And just like that, their energy goes from down low to both picked up!
So hug more and share laughter, for laughter is the cheapest drug, and can give you the high that you’re after!!