Mickey Z. -- World News Trust
"Music in the soul can be heard by the universe." --Lao Tzu
Mar. 27, 2012 -- When I was first booked to give a talk called "#Occupy for All Species" at the Jivamuktea Café in the Union Square area of New York City on March 23, I could've never guessed that the newOccupy Wall Street (OWS) camp would be in full effect right up the street.
This development added an exciting dynamic to the talk even if it kept some folks from attending. After all, why be indoors when a revolution is happening in a public park less than a block away... and it's 70 degrees in March?
Still, there were plenty of amazing, dedicated occupiers at the talk. For that, I feel nothing but profound gratitude. One such occupier -- who goes by the name of Eco -- later told me how deeply impressed he was by my presentation, and thanked me for what I do.
I joked about how I've been doing this for decades -- basically begging people to occupy without using the word -- and sometimes thinking that I was being ignored.
Eco smiled and I'll paraphrase his spontaneous response: "You were talking to the universe, Mickey. We all are. You weren't being ignored, but sometimes it takes a while to be heard. We hear you now."
Mic Check: One definition of epiphany is "a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by a simple occurrence or experience."
Such a revelation not only gave my perception a much-needed adjustment, it also helped me realize that if you talk to the universe, sometimes it talks back.
For example, in October 2011, OWS encouraged everyone to pull their money from the big banks. I had an account with a small local bank... but also had a Chase credit card. When I went to my local bank to inquire about getting a credit card from them instead, I was informed that if I signed up that particular day, I'd get a free gift.
"What might this gift be?" I asked.
"A blanket," came the reply.
"I'll be back in an hour," I promised -- barely able to contain my joy.
I went home, took care of a few things, and prepared for what had become one of my three or four visits each week to Liberty Square during the initial encampment. This time, however, I stopped at my bank, filled out the forms, and was handed a brand new blanket.
Smiling all the way from Astoria to Wall Street, I carried my gift directly down to the OWS Comfort Station and donated it -- but not before I shared this karmic story with Mae, at the Comfort table, who rewarded me with a smile so dazzling, I can still see it in my mind's eye.
Mic Check: Talk to the universe.
I could also tell the universe a little about someone else's OWS story, e.g. Stephen Baldwin, the minstrel of Occupy. He and I were friends long before OWS as he performed in a Beatles cover band I'd often go see play in Central Park and the subway.
When the Occupy camp sprung up, he focused his myriad musical passions there and we'd greet each other with a friendly fist bump each time we'd cross paths. One day, I asked him if he ever still played with the cover band.
"I love those guys," he told me, "but I don't wanna be in the nostalgia business anymore. I'm occupying the present now."
To which I added: "And preserving the future."
Mic Check: Tell your story to the universe.
After my talk on March 23, I walked over to Union Square to join the occupation until its nightly eviction by the NYPD. This time, however, the occupiers had a new tale to tell. They decided to create a People's Barricade prior to the midnight deadline.
As I stood with friends, Phil and Angela Rockstroh, waiting for yet another epic OWS spectacle to unfold, a local resident stopped to talk with us.
"I've lived around here 55 years, but I've never seen anything like it," she said.
"The occupation?" I asked.
"No," she replied, "there must be about 1,000 cops just around the corner."
We walked over and found a swarm of cops -- in riot gear. I took some photos and immediately showed them to someone from the OWS legal group. The game was on.
Having gathered folded-up boxes earlier, the occupiers set about opening those boxes and turning them into a barricade of sorts -- exactly where Bloomberg's Army normally places their metal barricades at midnight.
Just as the row of boxes was completed, a long line of riot cops entered the park -- immediately greeted by occupiers loudly humming the Imperial March from Star Wars. We all took our places on the outside of the People's Barricade, thus -- in a way -- trapping the helmeted storm troopers in the park... where they stood, twirling their batons.
A chant started: "Keep the cops in. Make New York safe."
Frances from the OWS People's Library yelled out that it was 10 seconds to midnight. Hundreds of occupiers loudly counted down to eviction and Bloomberg's thugs did not disappoint. They moved in, kicked over the People's Barricade, and replaced it with the State's barricade and promptly locked themselves into Union Square Park as the captive audience for the nightly OWS Barricade Burlesque/Eviction Theater.
Mic Check: Sing, dance, and perform for the universe.
One of my fellow occupiers that night was Ash Love. Earlier, she'd attended my talk and ended the event by having a little chat with the universe herself. Here's some of the story she shared with the room:
"When the occupation first started, there was talk of how the occupiers were just lazy, uneducated, and a bunch of dirty hippies. I am an occupier. I am only 22 years old. I worked a full time job and went to school full time -- and I still made it down to Zuccotti Park/Liberty Square at least three or four times a week. I've met some of the most selfless, positive, and motivated intellectuals and built relationships through the occupation that can't compare with anything. I've never had such heart-felt, more loving friendships in my entire life."
Mic Check: Make friends with the universe.
Two days later, I made my way to Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn to attend the fourth edition of Occupy Town Square -- which are "mobile, daytime outreach occupations, held in parks and other public spaces around NYC, building the movement for economic, social, and environmental justice."
Although I've lived in NYC my entire life, I'd never been to that park, so when I got off the subway at DeKalb Avenue, I opted to rely on the evidence of my senses and headed off in the direction of some trees.
When I saw two of Bloomberg's soldiers standing at a gate, I knew I'd found the park. But once I passed them with a sneer, I had no idea where the gathering might be found within a 30-acre park.
I stopped walking, got quiet, and asked the universe for help... and that’s when I heard it: the unmistakable sound of drums. Like a human may have done hundreds or thousands of years ago, I followed the drumbeat through unfamiliar terrain until I was back home with my tribe.
Later, when I left Occupy Town Square, I passed several occupiers making their way to the event. When they'd see my 99% button, they'd smile and ask me for directions. Each time, I'd reply: "Just follow the sound of the drums."
Mic Check: Listen to the universe.
These are just a few of my Occupy stories -- along with poignant words from Stephen and Ash. But what'syour story?
It's time we counter the media misinformation and 1% propaganda with a dose of reality -- the reality, the community, the solidarity, the creativity, the innovation, and the durability behind the OWS banners.
Send me a few lines about your experiences, etc. and I promise to create a regular series of articles called: The Voices of #Occupy.
Let's talk to the universe together so it can inform all who are listening that this is the Global Spring and they should fuckin' expect us...
#OccupyYerStory to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website called Facebook.
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