Amy Hoag recommended Jared to participate here. He readily accepted and we made plans to meet at his home - a serene spot on a creek just a little outside of Bend proper. We dove into a big conversation before we started recording, which didn't feel at all like a typical back and forth conversation, but more of a search and rescue - a mission to uncover some of the deepest of emotions. What is the anger? What is the sadness? What is the frustration? What do they represent and where might paying attention to them bring us? I could have spent the day talking with Jared. In fact, he even offered to just scrap the recording and continue talking. Fortunately, for the greater benefit, I didn't take him up on that. We did continue talking on record, though, and I encourage you to listen to our conversation below. I transcribed much of it, as you'll see here, but there are some really wonderful parts that are better suited for listening.
JA: I like the idea of saying I was the son of Patricia and Jule Edward Anderson and I lived this life in St. Louis in middle to upper middle class. Then, my life was defined in a large way. I am a person who was born in a fire of great loss - I lost both my parents. Though that doesn't define me, the event, the movement that happened afterwards within me... maybe I got shown a vicious, violent side of life that then awoke me to life and life's reality and how I actually can turn in to that. How do I actually engage life now that my parents were tragically gone? I started to realize, though it took many and still is taking many years to understand, that my priority is to include all aspects of life wherever I go. So, I would say who I am is a person who loves authentic expression. Feels like I find myself in difficulty and I love hearing difficulty from other people. And I love connecting with people and places where culturally we're not supposed to go. And I think, in large part, because I fucking got this insane experience when I was 16 years old of loss, my soul sort of woke up in a fire. And I carry that with me wherever I go.
Like our conversation earlier, I love hearing your anger. And I love the conversation. And I love it when it's uncomfortable. Not because I want it to be, but because it is. And the discomfort is that we're not allowing a certain aspect of or elements of the conversation to come in. So, who I am is a person that likes to have a conversation and likes to include more and more depth, not because it's a novelty, but because it's essential. And because the resilience that we're asked to fucking have in this world - that we don't as a culture - is only going to come about the more we can include the shit that we will not look at. The shit that we don't look at, that interests me the most.
ACT: What concerns you? What affects you personally as you make your way through your daily routines? And what motivates you to do something about it?
JA: I have a meditation practice that helps me see what I'm actually doing to myself. So, on the first layer, what gets me fired up is when I realize that I am excluding my own voice as a trend, a precedent, a habit. And there's a subtlety to what that means to me. I usually wake up in a sense of fear or worry. And that's kind of a leftover thing that I had when I was a kid. I was very much a pleasing person because in my primary relationships I had to be a certain way in order to get what I needed. So, when I sit in a meditation, in a practice, I start to notice, Oh, shit! I'm destroying myself in a way. In my musculature, in my body, everything is tense and holds it. So I get to start to see it more. That's why I love my practice. It happens every day. It's like an amnesia happens where I don't notice this assault that I have - this inner assault against myself. And then, subsequently, I walk into relationships, my partnership, where I'm unconscious if I don't notice it. And so what fires me up is I want to become more awake to what I'm actually doing and these past trends that seem to take hold in the moment.
ACT: What does that personal awareness translate to? What does it do for the community at large and for humanity?
JA: Beautiful question. I have a practice, too. I'm a life coach and I run groups. My practice - meaning my capacity to be aware of my own shadows, my own stuff, my own capacity to be honest - is the ceiling in any group I walk into. Meaning, I am expressing my own practice. So, I can't actually help someone or show up for someone if I haven't done so internally. So, to answer your question, it's literally everything. If I sit with you and I haven't listened to my own experience, I haven't felt my own feelings, I can't actually stay with anything that surpasses me. I can't stay with you. But if I can stay with me more and more, then our conversation can find more depth, more connection, and more energy.
If I'm actually wanting to be an agent of change in the world, I'm gonna amplify whatever I got. And I can use this thing (picks up phone) and I could amplify the hell out of myself. But, to me, there's a lot of strange people out there amplifying what doesn't amount to a lot of grounded connection. It amounts to a lot of words. So, when I actually practice, if I amplify myself, which I do - doesn't matter if I'm on a small platform, a large platform - wherever I am, I amplify it.
So, what bothers me in the world is that people don't - this is my own righteousness, too - have that priority. So, we got about the world like, I want to change the world and fuck you for doing this or that. I can't believe you're doing this. While that whole adage, which is cliche, but it's cliche for a reason, If you're pointing a finger, you have three pointing back at you… Personal accountability, to me, is one of - if not the - cures, but people don't find that as a priority.
Let's say I find myself in situations where maybe I'm a mentor to younger people - and that always depends upon how they perceive me, not my fucking idea if I'm a mentor to them - I'm gonna teach them what I do. So, if we're actually wanting mentoring or healing or rites of passage, whoever's bringing it, how they are matters a lot. So much so. Like the head of any company. How they are, what their ideology and the belief system is, and how their energy aligns in their body matters. Just look at Trump.
I know that not because of some statistic or something I've read. I know that personally. If I practice every day, meaning if I sit and do my mediation, I walk into a conversation like this and I have more available energy to host what's happening and be aware of what's here. But if I don't, I don' have as much availability.
ACT: Why isn't this personal accountability on trend? What has happened to a personal value system or a code of ethics? Personal accountability is the fix to nearly all the problems, but it's easier to focus on everything else - on circumstance, personal gain, buzzwords, and whether or not you appear to be in the know or woke.
JA: There's a lot of layers to it, but I'd start with what you just said which was it's easier. Taking aside that people are fucked up or lazy, we are actually creatures of finding the easier path. And there's something very human and okay about that. But that is not condoning. We don't have a net to catch us. We don't have a community - and community is another fucking buzzword - as it would walk in terms of supporting the energy of you and all of your depths, all of your surfaces, and all of you. So, personal accountability isn't of value in our culture and therefore it's not caught in the net of what we call community. We have a community which is strange. It doesn't have a priority around personal accountability. It's priorities are kind of all over the place, but they don't seem to be about catching a person and really seeing a person.
ACT: Yeah, there's an easy road, but does it go where you want to go? The fact that it's easy doesn't mean it's the road you're even meant to be on. How does destination or outcome fall by the wayside for the sake of ease?
JA: One, there's just a natural human tendency toward easy, sometimes being lazy, or I don't want to 'cause it's easier not to. That's normal. And then there's also - and this is the hard part - is actually, when we walk around in the world today, there's a lot of weight inwardly from our past that has been handed down and psychically in our energy, in our body, emotionally - it is fucking hard. There's an energy there. So when we're like, I just want to watch Netflix at the end of the day...
This is also highlighting how important it is and how hard it actually is to step into more of a sacred vocation of I've got to work this way in the world, but it's understandable because it's hard. We're walking with the weight of unresolved trauma from many generations - cultural, large trauma, like in this country is slavery and homophobia and also the degradation of soul and community. These are all things that we carry in our body. So, when we choose in today's day and age to just find an easy route, at the first level it's got to be like, Yeah, I get it. Because I do that, too.
So, calling people out, it's got to be kind of tempered with a sense of compassion. And we have to find a balance where we're not condoning a sense of going away or disassociating, but rather understanding it as a cultural symptom [of] much deeper trauma and pain. 'Cause when you call out a symptom with abuse almost or tirade, it doesn't change it. They just go deeper.
ACT: What do we mean to each other?
JA: We are all holding a very special, important part of this whole reality - this human reality. What you mean to me is a lot - everything, in a way. Everyone is everything and there's nothing excluded. It's not your race or your religious orientation or even your ideals; it's your energy and my willingness to meet you. So, it's everything. But there's a million everythings. The meaning of our relationships has to be something we're willing to unveil 'cause it's there. We're connected in a way. And that can either be some New Age proverb, which is bullshit. Or it can actually walk, in a way.
I love drawing on older cultures. They knew and they still know how to actually be in a community. But in certain cultural practices, like ritual practices, everyone's participation was everything. In Burkina Faso there's a culture that says, If two people have a conflict in the village, the whole village has a conflict. So, there's nothing too small or too big. We mean to each other our willingness to see that we are all connected. And that no matter what you're going through, it fucking matters.
ACT: You mentioned everyone having a role. Is part of the challenge, then, that people have forgotten or have been made to disbelieve that? Have they forgotten their role? Or are they unaware of their role? Or have we through distractions trained that out of people? So now people are acting in ways that are detrimental to community as a whole because they don't believe in their own importance? Is part of healing community just reminding everyone that they matter? Not in this hippy love kind of way, but that they actually have responsibilities and roles.
JA: Community has to prioritize what is actually here and become skillful in addressing it, being with it. Not as an exclusion or a problem. Oh, you have a lot of grief? That's a problem because right now our priority is economy. Or today we're at work and so this is how we are. It doesn't mean you go to work and everyone's weeping. You have to figure out a structure. But community means, if it's an essential community, that we are focused on the skillfulness of being present to the dynamic energies within individuals and within cultures and that we respond to life that comes through rather than prefer the aspects of life that we like.
To all of your questions before, we lost a lot of aspects of it. And we're fighting for that. And I don't think it's people's fault today that they don't remember how to be in community or that they don't know meaning or their own roles. And I think it's our collective and individual responsibility to find that. And what a tough time to do so. And what an important time to do so.
ACT: Do you feel a sense of purpose?
JA: Yes. In conversations like this and when the conversation is active, I can feel it more. There is a purpose in my body, in my life, and the more I practice, the more I can feel it. And so, how I live depends on how much I feel that. What's cool is the search of like, What is my purpose? is a question that's answered as I allow my energy to unravel. And I'll just focus on projects. When my energy slows down and I can feel it, it just goes toward what it wants. To me, purpose is the result of being willing to pay attention to what's here - internally, externally - and like an energy naturally plugs itself right in to where it wants to go. So, yeah.
ACT: Sometimes it feels like we are inevitably headed towards a worse and worse and worse future. I don't see a lot of what we're doing as even a recognition of that or progress. It looks to me like we are taking the easiest road to the end - to devastation. And that might not even sound scary. But it's going to get super bad, right? Hate and violence and rape and murder and war and nuclear bombs - that stuff is all going to come with extreme pain like people can't even imagine. It's bad. It's already happening in places right now. Is it silly to hope to change that? Is it silly to hope to find the better way and to have compassion and build peace and live in community?
JA: That means that we are going to go into a nuclear holocaust or an environmental catastrophe and while that may or may not happen, what interests me the most around this conversation is our capacity to feel what it's actually like to be alive now and to feel these things happening. And not go too quick into story of that means this and that means that. But our capacity to be resilient in a time when we need resilience directly depends on our capacity to be with - emotionally, physically, mentally in a coherent way - what's happening. Be with what's happening. So, hope is actually I want something else. And can I hope for something else while this shit is happening? And while this shit is happening, I'm making up a story and I'm prophesying what's gonna happen. Ironically, it sort of comes out and does happen. But that's actually in part humanity's incapacity to actually be with what's happening. And a lot of people are, but a lot of people in mass culture aren't.
So, I think, how resilient can our response be to this catastrophe directly depends on our willingness to perceive it, to understand it, to feel it. And you're right, there's some things that are just horrid. And we don't even know. We're sitting in Bend, Oregon - we're not feeling it on a daily basis, immediately. Like, starvation or drought in this crazy way. But we can still be here and be present. The word hope is interesting. It's bugs me in a way because it does seem like we're saying, Hey, the mess is over here and I want something else.
A teacher of mine says, This problem is not in the way, it is the way. And only in our direct, non-judgmental but willful engagement of it will there actually be a way through with resiliency, with We can work through this. I believe this: we as human beings have way more capacity than we understand nor are accounting for. Your willingness to respect what you do matters. That you can actually account for what you do, that matters.