Brian F

brianfI was sitting listening to music on youtube..


date: Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 11:25 PM

I was randomly jumping from one tune to another,

saw an old song “Wish you were here” by Pink Floyd.

Then I looked in the corner of the room in my house

and saw a Ugandan lion spear that you gave me at Northfield Mt Herman in about 1972.

I’m guessing and spent about 1 minute looking on the web till I found you. Just thought I’d say hi.

I’m living in Pepperell, Ma. Married, two kids in college and a 5 week old daughter. SW engineer living doing okay, so I just wanted to stretch back about 40 years and say.. hope you life was good and hope the rest goes reasonably well, you were a good friend.

Attached is a picture of my pregnant wife (3rd.. Marcia – Brasilian) and the lion spear you gave me so many years ago. This was taken about 8 weeks ago.

Yes I read a very large part of your stories on line last night, looked at all the pictures. You do have an artist eye without a doubt and some amazing life stories.. I’m glad you’re still here, that’s a miracle in itself. and I thought my life was “interesting”…

I’m late for an appointment right now, taking me 5 month daughter into the Dr. so I can’t write much, will try more later. Yeah I am a software engineer, generally a pretty good occupation, but it’s been a bumpy road the last few years, was almost homeless, back to work for about 2.5 years and am out of work again at the end of next week..

Finished a bachelors in Software Engineering, and now at 55 still have another year to finish an MBA as it’s hard to stay employed as an old SW engineer, there are lots of them, but as I have found out it’s cheaper to hire a kid out of college or someone in Vietnam. …sucks.. but I’ll do okay, I always do.

Gotta go for now.. it’s great to hear you are alive and well.. I always wonder how many friends I lost contact with are not around anymore, had several suicides.. I’m in for the long haul, good or bad. Live is absolutely and adventure.. adventures aren’t always fun.. but they are worth hanging around to see what happens.

When I was 15 in 1973 I was going to Northfield Mount Hermon School in Northfield, Mass. My friend Chris and I dropped acid, I think this was the first time for me, or near the first time, it was called blue barrels. It was fairly powerful and I was hallucinating seeing colors and patterns everywhere. I was watching a fireworks display on the walls of a smoking room. I went to go see Chris at his dorm and was feeling very paranoid, I was sure people could see the colors around my head, so I put my hat on to help disguise it.

When I got to the sanctuary of Chris’s room, he told me I could chill on the top bunk while he was on the bottom. There was a colored sheet wrapping around the bed, so it was like a very secure little room. I knew Chris was about as tripped out as I was, but I was secure and felt alright. I noticed some movement at the end of the bed and saw a large 2-3 foot long black hairy tarantula. I yelled down to Chris about what I was seeing, he assured me it was an hallucination. It looked pretty real.

Chris was down on the bottom bunk laughing hysterically. I finally convinced myself it was a hallucination, and reached out and touched it.. AHHHHHH!!  It was real and hairy.. Chris was laughing so hard,  I was trying to tell him it was real.    After a few moments of playing with me, he let me know it was a stuffed toy… I wasn’t pissed, I was relieved and actually thought it was pretty funny.  I wanted to know where the hell you could get a black stuffed tarantula.

I had dyslexia and it was the 1970s. All my teachers said, Brian seems like a smart kid but he doesn’t try very hard. No one knew what dyslexia was and it wasn’t until several years later that I was diagnosed after graduating high school. It wasn’t horrible dyslexia, but it was bad enough at the time that I mostly failed my way through grade school, junior high school, and high school. I had learned the magic lesson that I could try and fail and be humiliated, or I could not try, go and party, and not be humiliated. Easy choice.

I got thrown out of Northfield Mt Hermon and went to Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, MA.. I managed to graduate, lost a friend there to suicide (actually did jump off the Brooklyn bridge) after spending about 6 months at Norwalk, a fairly infamous mental institution in NY.   After high school I moved up to Keene NH, lived with a girl up there for most of a year working at a camera shop.. lost the job when they sold the shop.  

I went back to Northfield and my parents’ house and worked stoned every night at a gas station. A townie friend of mine got set up for armed robbery, when he came back I was hanging with a some of pretty scary criminals so I got out the only way I could..

I went into the Air Force for 4 years. Immediately during post-Vietnam the Air Force was pretty fucked up and not very “militaristic”. It filled with stoners and good drugs, spent most of my time in Denver Colorado,  two years in Bitburg Germany where I lived part time at a commune off base, then in Ft Walton Beach Florida.. all good assignments.  

By the last year in Florida  I was 22 and was stoned almost all the time, mostly valium and smoke, I realized that years went by and I hadn’t done anything at all, it was just a blur. Go to work and come home and get stoned, every single day.   So I moved into a trailer and had and went clean except for one amazing very powerful trip I had taken with a Jazz Saxaphone player, Airman Lot, who went into the military to keep from starving.  

Contrary to popular belief, at that time the military rarely tested anyone for drugs (at least where I was).. I experienced only one drug test in 4 years, we were warned about it two weeks in advance, and it didn’t detect marijuana or acid, just coke, heroin,  and narcotics.  

I got out in 1981 and got a job in a high tech company.. still partied, but kept it mostly to the weekends.. I went through the 1980’s coke thing, but never took it too far, I saw friends self-destruct so I just mellowed out to an occasional smoker.  

Aside from rare occasions going to outdoor concerts, over the years I rarely did much else from recreation-ally smoke pot.  I worked in high tech and went to night school finished a BSCS, eventually became an engineer.. Married a girl from India, and had two kids.. I was married for 13 years got divorced and near suicidal.  

My still very hippy friend Bob (from Cushing Academy) got me to go to Guatemala in ’95 when I was a tight assed yuppie white boy.  We went through lots of places gringos don’t go, it really was fairly dangerous.. when up the river from Guatemala to Chiapas Mexico to a bunch of amazing Mayan ruins at Xachilan (need to punch that into google maps to see how remote it was).  

We were the only ones there for a few days aside from the caretaker and his wife..  There were still colored paintings from the Mayans on the walls and ceiling. We spent a few days in the warm jungle air blowing though the ruins listening to screaming monkeys in the trees.

There was no road access but a small runway where a couple of tourist got killed landing the year before. It wasn’t very well maintained and very very few people ever went there. You should go. 

Anyway, Bob introduced me to what I would call “bungie jump” traveling. You get a ticket in and one out, and then just go and figure it out, no reservations at all.  I have since been to a bunch of places like that, staying primarily in $1 a night hotels to get the real flavor.. In Guatemala, Mexico, Belize, Brazil, Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, China.    

My two favorite places are Brazil and Cambodia.. both are fairly mind blowing. It almost ruins you to an extent, once you spend a few days walking around the ruins at Ankor Watt or someplace like this, most other western countries are like going to a shopping mall in another town.. not really that exciting.  

When I was in Cushing,  I fell in with a bunch of Taoist  (similar to Buddhism).. Easter philosophy became a big influence in my life, probably did more to keep me going to far into drugs than just about anything. During this time we went to a lecture by Ram Das which I believe put me onto this spiritual path.

In 95’ after my divorce, I became a very heavy meditator.. usually meditating (Vespasian) up to about 1.5 hours a day, I kept this up for years and eventually had a minor satori.. I just ceased to exist at one point..

it is absolutely impossible to describe but I can tell you that it was the best thing that ever happened to me ( or not me.. in this case). This experience changed me profoundly, I was very paranoid of life and change in general, and afterwards I had very little fear.

I stopped mediating in about 2005 as my second wife and I were constantly arguing. The meditation kept me fairly peaceful, but I knew I was letting too many things roll off and thought about what a wasted life it would be to continue this existence for the rest of my life. It had gone on for years like that, it wasn’t likely to change. I stopped meditating intentionally so I could become meaner and not let things roll off so easy.. it worked.

A year later I was divorced.  During my first marriage 1983-1995 I was a Hindu as my first wife and her family were, and I never had much of an affinity to Christianity.. After the divorce, I became a fairly solid Buddhist.. Now I guess I am a non-practicing Buddhist. I am still a vegetarian  (except fish which is a vegetable in my world).  I hope sometime soon I can get myself to start meditating again, it does me a world of good.

Even spent 5 days at a lecture with the Dali Lama on the Heart Sutra out in Ca about 8 years ago.. I’m not a Tibetan Buddhist, I don’t necessarily believe in re-incarnation and all that supernatural hocus pocus.. as an engineer I’m kind of an empirical knowledge guy.

I believe what I experience.. so far aside from a satori, which is not mystical,  I don’t personally believe in anything like blue flying monkeys, an afterlife, or rebirth.  SE Asia has Theravada Buddhism is mostly what I have believed in.. just here and now. 

The best book to guide you I have ever found is “Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree”, but it would probably be a terrible starting point, I think it was several years of meditation before I picket that up and even then found it deep stuff.

When I got divorced I got a job with an unknown company in ’95 that shared the name of a food service company.. Cisco (Sysco),  I got a bunch of things I didn’t understand called stock options.. within a few years I was worth about 2 million,  then the stock crashed and  

I walked out with about nothing.. but all those neat trips with me or my and my friend Bob was paid for with it before it disappeared.. easy come easy go.. I don’t know to this day what caused more suffering, getting the money or losing it. 

I had also learned to be a luthier at this time (someone who makes musical instruments). I was a frustrated musician, basically I sucked but I wanted to be connected to music in some way. I made dulcimers and a half dozen acoustical guitars from scratch.

I loved it, and think I made some nice instruments. I got allergies to tropical woods and had to wear a full hazmat suit to make them at the end. When I got divorced, I sold off my basement full of luthier and woodworking gear, and will probably never make another one. But I am very glad I did.. it is a spiritual experience in itself.

Only other really noteworthy thing in my life is I was very seriously doing a documentary on capoeira (most gringos don’t know it).   Most fascinating thing in my life,  I wish I had known about this since Junior high school,  I would have been more addicted to it than any drug.  I dumped about $150K into it, shot in about 12 states over 3 years (east and west coast), and in Brasil..  

When the crash happened,  I lost everything,  I was literally down to about enough to stay afloat for one last month when I finally got a job almost 2 years later.  

So I have about 300 hours of HD film in interviews with capoeira Mestres and capoeira itself that will probably never get finished unless I find a good editor who can keep themselves afloat and is willing to do enough research into capoeira to understand what it is they have to work with.   

If anyone ever reads this, is a capoeiraista or will become one, and PROMISES to complete it, I may have an amazing job for you. No editing experience necessary, if you’ve been watching movies since childhood, that’s a lot of OJT.

It pays nothing but I’ll split whatever we can make with it and you’ll be immortalized as there is no good documentary in English on this topic… it will be the first. Contact Chris to contact me.

So last summer I bought a house with my third wife, a sweet Brasilian mulher who makes me very happy.  As I was financially wiped out, I got it on the GI bill as I had no money because I’m still paying to put 2 kids through college.  

I am out of job again and now have an amazing six week old daughter.  I will be studying for about 12-14 hours a day to learn what I have to so I succeed on getting reemployed I get my next interviews.  It’s an adventure.

There aren’t a lot of real truths in life, but a few I have learned I will pass to you. • Risk failure.

• Life is an adventure, adventures aren’t always fun, but they are adventures. As life goes on you will be thankful for as many adventures as possible. Try to survive them. “Life being an adventure” is true rather you believe it or not, but if you do view your life in this way it makes it much more interesting.

• Always push yourself into uncomfortable situations, do something you are really uncomfortable with. I went to Guatemala, Cambodia, Nepal, Brazil, I learned to make guitars, I started capoeira at 48 years old (as a 35 year smoker – I have since quit), I tried to make a documentary. During many of these things I have asked myself what the fuck was I doing.. I have never regretted any of it, but I do regret the 10 years early in my adult life when I did almost nothing except try to seek the approval of others.

• Become a student for life, never stop learning. I’m 54 and in an MBA program. I don’t necessarily mean get a formal education, just find something that floats your boat and dig in.

• Treat the least of your associates as the most exalted you meet. Learn equanimity and practice it.

Interesting stuff to check out 

Be Well! Brian F.

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