Line from a Bob Dylan song entitled It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding). The studio version of this song can be found on the album Bringing It All Back Home.

Bob has a clever double meaning, of course. The statement is literally true. But his intent is more to challenge us to be busy being born all our life; or face the alternative.

This line is popular with aspiring folk musicians, who think its a cool title for their albums. Gary Lucas, Terry Farmer, and Alan Horvath all chose to call an album "Busy Being Born".

Warm souled, well intentioned folks, who are in touch with their inner feelings and not afraid to show it, like to use the line. Al Gore cited it as his favorite Dylan quote during the 2000 Presidential campaign. Governor Jimmy Carter quoted the line when accepting the Democratic presidential nomination.

It's also popular with experts on "wellness". Such experts commonly dispute Western notions of health as being a "lack of sickness". Those with a holistic life outlook insist that we not just lack illness to be healthy, but we also need to be growing physically, psychologically and spiritually. The line is often quoted in promotional material for alternative medicines and treatments.

Bob Dylan himself has perhaps given up on this notion of constantly being born. His newest original single, Things have changed, contains the following refrain:

People are crazy and times are strange
I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range
I used to care, but things have changed.

On suicide and the end

of Rancho Nuevo's Third Era.

Told through the Mythic Language

of my personal mythology



"The old kingdoms have now fallen. You have no option other than surrender or destruction. All the queens have gone into hiding or been executued. The Third Age of Rancho Nuevo is at an end."

The White Jack was the harbinger of the end of the Third Era. She had been expecting him, as everything to come has already been written in the stories of the past. The Third Era had not been kind of Rancho Nuevo. The land was dying, the people went hungry, and a general malaise had settled in amongst the population. With decay came expanding stagnation and hopelessness.

"I abdicate the throne of the First Kingdom of Rancho Nuevo," she told him. "The throne is yours."

"No argument? No fight?"

"None," she said with a sigh. "Would a final act of defiance really make any difference?"

"You were never one for pretty speeches, your grace. I shall spare you, but you must renounce your royal lineage."

"There is something you have forgotten to account for, but it will become clear to you over time."

The Diamond Queen was walked out of the palace under heavy guard. These were the elite red riders, and they were in no way similar to the elite soldiers often seen in films that can be killed by hitting them in the forearm with a small rock, but they could have been old men and children. The queen did not resist.

"The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen," chanted the small group of people gathered to watch the Diamond Queen sent into exile.


*  *  *  *  *

The orders were clear. The Lisan Kingdom was to be reduced to ash. The Kingdom of the Grays was to be spared, but neutered. The other kingdoms would be reduced in stature, not more than a simple village in need of no more than a ceremonial mayor. Nothing was to be spared.

"The orders have purpose, riders. The Queens of Rancho Nuevo have failed and the land has turned against us. Rancho Nuevo cannot remain on this path. Purging the Queens in this way will clear the way for a new era, one of renewed prosperity. We need to cut out the rot and the corruption or these lands will become a wasteland."

"And the Jack of Hearts?"

"The Jack serves the Queens and the Queens serve the realm. Look around you, rider. The chain has been broken. The Jack has abadoned the Queens. The Queens have abandoned the realm. The land and the people have suffered. And now this Jack will serve the Queens who survive and this Jack will restore the realm through them. We are not yet lost. The Fourth Age may still be at hand. You have your orders. I now must make the journey to the Blackjack Saloon to meet with the Black Jack. Do not fail or we shall be swallowed by the encroaching wasteland."

"The edge of the wasteland has moved infinite minus four closer to us during the past cycle. The Unknown Kingdoms will soon be unreachable."

"Let the wasteland consume them, for they have too long avoided assuming their role in the history of Rancho Nuevo. The empowered kingdoms are my concern."

*  *  *  *  *

The Jack of Hearts was broken. He'd long ago abandoned his role in Rancho Nuevo, and that had led to him forgetting he even had a role. There was no point to anything in this place. He walked along the edges of the wasteland, staying just on the other side of it, watching it get closer and being resigned to it consuming all of Rancho Nuevo.

Rancho Nuevo is an engine. Each Jack is a different facet of the same entity. The apathy of one Jack soon spreads to the other. The Jack of Hearts' role was to serve the queens, and now he was unwilling to so much stand for them as they were forced to abdicate their thrones. It was part of his function to keep the wasteland at bay. It always existed on the perimeter where there were no stars, where dreams have no context and hope is a children's story. Now, he all but welcomed it.

Only three queens retained their thrones as the red riders swept over the land, imposing strict order and resetting the board in an effort to shepherd in the Fourth Age. It was their function within the engine of Rancho Nuevo. It was their function to prevent victory by the forces of entropy. They were the last line of defense when all else failed. When the very survival of the realm is threatened, the riders are unleashed to save the realm by clearing the board in any way they can so it can be reset before being consumed by the wasteland.

The three queens who retained their thrones were neutered, which meant that although they retained power over their kingdoms, their power was severely curtailed. Their kingdoms were spared, but for those queens who failed to serve the realm, and especially those who betrayed the realm, were not so lucky. What little remains of their kingdoms will be but a curiosity to those who stumble upon them. The Third Age had to end before the Fourth Age could begin.

The three remaining queens were stripped of all previous titles and were named Queen Regents of the Fourth Age until the Queens of the Fourth Age came into being. They ruled as placeholders for that which did not yet exist. Their only real role was to hold the throne. The realm was under the control of the red riders.

Three cycles into the Jack of Hearts' walk along the edge of the wasteland, the angel Anastasia appeared before the Jack. Ethereal and clad in white, she hovered before him as the living embodiment of a dream and smiled upon him. She knew her role. The angels serve the Jack, the Jack serves the Queens, and the Queens serve the realm. What serves the angels is too great to comprehend in reality's present tense.

"What is it you desire, Jack of Rancho Nuevo? The Fourth Age or victory by the wasteland?"

"Doesn't really matter."

"The White Jack commands the red riders now. He has chosen to spare three queens and to make them queen regent of the three ruling kingdoms. Only the Jack of Rancho Nuevo who leads the Jacks and who can inspire them to join with him instead of working against him can usher in the Fourth Age. You are that Jack, but you flirt with the wasteland instead of taking your rightful role."

"The First Age was shit. The Second Age was shit. The Third Age was complete shit. Why the fuck would I want to start a Fourth Age? I've had enough shit, thank you very much."

*  *  *  *  *

The Blackjack Saloon

High Noon

It was always high noon at the Blackjack Saloon. It was a running joke that was started by a patron who found the establishment's de facto approval of the frequent gunfights and vengeance seeking that went on starring the saloon's most unsavory characters. The loser always came back. No one died, although many wished they could. Order at the Blackjack Saloon was found in turning a blind eye to the most despicable forms of behavior one can imagine.

Blackjack knew his role. He was no more than a bartender and witness to the mayhem. He controlled the homeland of the Jacks of Rancho Nuevo. This was what had become of that homeland, complete apathy towards the suffering of others. The only action he took as a new arrival was gang raped on his bar was to wipe down the bar afterwards. This was what had become of the Jacks of the Third Age. It was why the White Jack saw destruction of the realm as the only way to save it. When nothing matters, everything is possible.

The news had come to him in the usual way. What one Jack knew, the others were soon to become aware of. The queens of the Third Age had abdicated their thrones, save for three who had been promoted and then neutered. The Third Age had ended, but the arrival of the Fourth Age hung in limbo. The red riders now served the White Jack who had no queen to serve. The destruction of the realm was at hand. The only question was whether it would be destroyed in a cleansing fire or if it would be consumed by the abyss that was entropy.

War was coming to Rancho Nuevo where it had only existed as a concept before. If the Jack of Hearts walked into the wasteland before the White Jack could destroy the realm there would be no Fourth Age.

*  *  *  *  *

The queen regents were well aware that they had no real power. The Just Queen, who held the throne of the First Kingdom, knew it was not hers and she did not desire it beyond a fleeting thought. As such, she did not know that it was now her role to start the war that would determine the future of Rancho Nuevo. With that would come the granting of her wish to be freed from royal duties and to live a quiet, simple life on the edges of the realm.

The angel Anastasia appeared before her, in a very different form than she took when appearing before the Jack of Hearts.

"Only a One Queen can inspire a Jack to have faith and hope."

"And only a Three Queen can save him, but I am not a One Queen and the Muse Queen is no Three Queen. She's known in certain circles as the Serpent Queen, you know."

"The White Jack has chosen you hold the thrones of the Three Great Kingdoms. Your duty is to serve the realm."

"And the realm is everything that isn't a Jack and isn't a Queen. I went to the Royal Academy like every other queen. Just because I hated it doesn't mean I don't remember shit."

"The Jack of Hearts will come to you in his most desperate hour, seeking absolution from the One Queen. You must decide how to greet him. You must start the war."

"I'm NOT a One Queen."

"It doesn't matter, he's convinced himself you are, and that is why the White Jack has you holding this throne. The queens serve the realm. If the Jack crosses over into the wasteland, the realm will be consumed by war. He will ask you to grant him a reprieve. As Queen Regent of the First Kingdom it is your decision whether or not to do so."

*  *  *  *  *

The Jack of Hearts approached the Diamond Castle with much trepidation. Wandering away from the edge of the encroaching wasteland to ask for a reprieve from the One Queen was a desperate effort. If she did, the Third Age would be restored, flawed as it was. The Third Age had not been kind of the Jack of Rancho Nuevo. It had been filled with failure, betrayal, and an unending sorrow that became a permanent state of malaise. So entrenched was the Jack's resignation to the belief that his own destruction was the only option aside from that malaise that he was incapable of hearing anything different.

Ah, the Just Queen, Queen Regent of the First Kingdom, she could give him clemency. He had once declared her "the true queen of Rancho Nuevo," shouting it from the rooftops even though he did not himself believe this. He'd chained himself to the idea of being in her service, and only in her service, and his request for clemency came with an offer of something in return. If the Jack was granted clemency then he had the power to declare her the true queen of Rancho Nuevo.

His mistake was in believing she actually desired that role, or that doing so would bring an end to malaise and stagnation. She could only grant him temporary clemency, not the real thing. The only one capable of granting the Jack mercy was the Jack himself, but he was chained to the idea that the Just Queen was the key to bringing a new golden era to Rancho Nuevo.

Clemency was not granted, and the Jack saw no use in mercy. The Great Angel War had begun.

*  *  *  *  *

As the war began, the Jack of Hearts traveled back out to te edge of the wasteland. Behind him, the angels who served the Jacks came down in force. The seraphs who drove the riders brought cleansing fire, as did the thrones who drove their mounts. They took control from the White Jack and exiled him to the wasteland. Blackjack watched his wretched little world shrink down until it became nothing but a memory, and he could not have been any less concerned.

With the fire at his back, the Jack of Rancho Nuevo walked into the wasteland.



This is the mythological version of my suicide and the events leading up to it, represented througho the metaphorical language of my unconscious. The Jack is a single fragmented entity. Blackjack represents my tendency towards inaction and complacency. The White Jack is representative of my desire to impose order upon my life at the expense of expanding beyond that order. They are representative of my two great sins against myself prior to my suicide. Instead of embracing and exploring who I truly was as a person in this frame, I came to surrender to the idea that following the herd and pursuing a standardized life was the only choice.

Working with the idea that we have an unconscious that transmits messages to us through what it basically a code upon which mythology is founded, what kind of metaphorical symbolism could my unconscious transmit that would convince me that there was a reason to go on in this frame of existence? It had to transmit images I could relate to. This is a significant aspect of personal mythology. The symbolism may be borrowed, and in most cases it is. Creating your own mythological symbols from scratch is plenty hard work, mate. This is why mythologies speak the same messages in all cultures but manifest themselves differently. They have to in order to be understood within a cultural context.

The familiar symbolism of death was there. The river Styx, or Lethe, or a representation drawn from them, was the first image to appear. A river comes with two shores. The shores were overgrown, representing my inability to understand what was there. People were being consumed by a blue flame, the cleansing fire of the red riders. They were in desperate need of help, these people who made it to the shoreline. I could do nothing. That is later transposed with my disinterest in doing anything as bartender of the Blackjack Saloon. In one case I am unable to help but feel the desire to be able to help. Never before had I really been that concerned with understanding the feelings of others, which was why I so often trampled on them witlessly prior to my suicide. They were supposed to play specific roles in my life. Girlfriend. Best friend. Boss. Whatever. They weren't supposed to have unique problems that I didn't care about because it detracted from my desire to imagine the world as a perfect place I just needed to find a way to fit into.

The sight of an infinite number of people being helplessly consumed by blue flames was an image needed to awaken that part of me that was capable of having a better understanding of people as unique individuals, not persons assigned to play a pre-determined role in my life. It was the image needed to awaken the desire and the ability to inspire people to empower themselves. And that was what was needed for me to believe that my life had purpose and that I was not simply a hapless clod who added nothing to the life experiences of others.

The passage through the white light can be interpreted in many different ways, from the literal passing from one frame of existence into the next, or as the appearance of an almost universal near-death experience image. Once an image is well known as being associated with something, the chances of it appearing in an increasing number of individiaul experiences increases. It is why people organize their religions. When the symbol is widely known as being associated with one particular thing, and you are being taught that it does mean that thing, the chances of it appearing in a greater number of spiritual experiences increases exponentially. It is the little trick of religion your mother never told you about.

The wasteland was the choice that represented suicide and my sense of self-worth at the time of it. This required another symbol, that of what you might call "possible future me." This was what my unconscious knew I was capable of becoming if I could find faith, not in any specific god or belief system, but faith that there was meaning to it all. That is a leap of faith which requires admitting you will never be able to understand it all, or the reason, while believing in the reason. At least a little bit of faith is required to keep us from going over the edge. Without any faith in there being some reason for it all, you'd just walk down the street shooting people in the head and then shooting yourself in the head.

All-natural, whole grain faith is no more than that. People bake bread and cakes with it. Got to dress it all up. Looks so cute in that pencil skirt, eh? Why is there a pencil skirt on the cake, Vivian?

Once I saw there was a possibility of more than the wasteland and turned around, this was was the beginning of my journey as well as the beginning of the Fourth Age. This is the story about how I saved my own life after surrendering it the night before.

The Fourth Age became a golden age.

That is how you play the game of personal mythology.



This began as an attempt to fulfill a reQuest

It is not what was requested

And so I shall be brought to the flogging yards for my arrogance.


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