MR. BRAY

Studios, LLC

503-334-7521

       MR BRAY

A boutique design & animation shop that dissolves the line between studio and agency.

The Camino Opportunity

My hearts been broken for the last month and half. My wife and best friend for the past twelve years decide she no longer loves me, left me and filed for a divorce. This has been an emotional whirlwind. So to gain a fresh start I'm moving to Southern California to be closer to more animation opportunities, particularly with doors now opened for me to work with Netflix. 

With the scale of relationships tipping one way and the career potentials swinging the opposite direction an even more sober opportunity for me has emerged. The Camino! 

Now if you're like me until recently I had zero clue of what the Camino was. I knew of a couple from a church I once attended that mentioned they had walked across Europe and may have vaguely heard the word Camino pop up in conversation. But I paid little to no attention to what they were raving on about. This only comes to mind now as I start my homework for this trip in September.

During this incredibly difficult time of separation my older sister flew up to spend a few days with me. She helped me pick myself up and handle this tragedy of my divorce. I know I'm not alone, a lot of people have been divorced, heck my sister had gone through it and even more alone than I was. However, like thinking you're never going to get cancer was the total shock to my system that I'd be losing my best friend. I always thought that would of happened with one of us passing away in our old age not twelve years into our life together. Yet here enters my absolute blessing of my sister. She's a travel writer and even works with a touring company. Specifically they take people on pilgrimage trips, particularly the Camino. And with an amazing grace her company has reserved a space for me to go with their upcoming group in the fall.

Now the Camino is this millennium old trek that involves following the steps of the saints that brought the bones of Saint James the Greater, disciple of our Lord Jesus, up from Jerusalem to a believed resting place of his remains. While I wasn't raised Catholic I was raised Christian. Albeit from a quasi-cult like crazy hippy Christian church in southern Oregon. Nonetheless I connect with the power of reflection and spending time to work on your inner self. My spiritual journey has been a steady and providential thing in my life. My faith has brought me through the roughest of times. So while I'll be spending this upcoming time preparing for The Camino the work I'll really being doing is inward as I let go of my broken heart to the maker of my soul. 

I begin this new chapter with a step at a time. A step followed by an innumerable host of sincere and hurting people looking to find a healing deeper than they could of imagined.

-Jesse

Visiting My Mom

When I close my eyes I can still see you. In my dreams you're alive and full of life. It hurts that near the end we were so estranged and that we never got to really know each other. 

I see you in my dreams and it makes me happy. All my dreams about you are me doing almost pointless things, like ordering food at a restaurant, and you appear. You're full of joy and enthusiasm. Once you spot me you smile from ear to ear and rush to hug me. You interrupt what random task I'm doing and we share both the light and the heavy things in our hearts. We can finally just sit and talk.

In my dreams I goto heaven in my mind and I see you Mom. You're always the same age when I see you, the same age you were when I ran away, oddly the same age I am now. I might only be dreaming, yet in my dreams when I see you and Papa it brings me great comfort. It's as if you're helping me through a storm like a patron saint. If it is you reaching me, thank you. And if it is just my psyche helping me to metabolize my pain, I'm fine with that too. I love you Mommy and can't wait to see you even if in my dreams again.

Your son,

-Jesse

Hurt

When your best friend is gone it leaves holes in your life. Some greater than others. While there's much I'm missing today the simple things are what ache the most. 

I miss holding your hand as we walk down the street. I miss sharing popcorn and candy while we watch a movie at the theater. I miss cuddling on the couch before bed. I miss Saturday morning breakfast, when we'd go to your favorite spot for biscuits and gravy. I miss hearing your voice in the morning and helping you get ready for work. I miss listening to you about your day and rubbing your back and feet while you unwind. I miss opening the door with take out for dinner and seeing your smiling face. I miss your laugh and the way you'd make me laugh. I miss looking at your face and your deep blue eyes. I miss you curling your head under my chin.

I miss you and I wish you weren't gone. But I've lost you and heaven and earth seems not to care. I miss you and I'm not ashamed to say I love you even though you don't love me anymore. My love was always forever, always genuine, always there and never anything less than my whole heart and soul.

I miss you even when I'm hurt by your absence. I miss you and my heart feels lost without you. I miss you and time feels slow without you. Hours feel like days and minutes like hours. I miss you more than I ever could imagined. I'm not over you and I still love you. 

This is my heart on my sleeve and I'm sharing it for no other purpose than to express my inner truth.

Broken hearted,

-Jesse

12 Years

Here I was sleeping on a yoga mat on my office floor. The soft folk sounds of David Gray filling the space between the road noise and the hum of street lamps. I had been in this scene before. Except it was almost 12yrs earlier.

Before I met my soon to be ex-spouse I lived in the corner of an attic with no less than seven room mates. My bed was also the floor, a small blanket and a ragged pillow. To the side, a very small handful of clothes, and my only other two possessions; a old Mac G3 and an acoustic guitar. Each night I'd soothe myself to sleep with the sultry tunes of David Gray. He always reminded of Bob Dylan with a modern flair. Not as prolific of a song writer as Dylan but still brilliant nonetheless.

12yrs ago I was a part time janitor and a fledgling folk musician. I dreamed of touching souls of people across America. I wanted to extract the musical art from my life like a serum and inject it into other lonely persons. At that time a casual melon collie painted my life in a way like an old familiar shirt. It felt natural, it felt even comfortable.

12yrs ago I thought I was a poet and a bohemian preacher. 12yrs ago I was delusional but sincere. Yet, 12yrs ago I had found love. Or at least looking back at our failed marriage I had found an object with whom to be devoted to.

I threw myself into our relationship like I threw myself into my dreams. With reckless abandon. Eventually I placed music down to pursue an older and more genetic calling, visual arts. Something I was too afraid to run towards before. 

I've always loved story telling. There's just something about a narrative that's intoxicating. From the early days on my grandpa's knee when he would tell me his navel adventures, to religious lectures about supernatural Jewish prophets. A story is even greater I discovered when it's told with the intent to be believed. Faith is like that, there's a balance between belief in something, and belief of something. I never believed in divorce yet it happened to me when I was a kid. My parents got divorced. I always believed in forever love yet my partner stopped loving me. Regardless of what we believe in sometimes belief is just not enough to avoid what's actually happening. I don't believe in divorce yet I'm living through it as I write this. I don't believe that love dies yet I'm witness to it's death right in front of my face. 

On Saturday August 25th 2007 I heard the greatest and most profound story I had ever believed. It was my partners wedding vows. They weren't loquacious or overtly elegant. Yet they were poignant and powerful. They dripped like honey onto a scorched heart. My life felt complete. I felt like a soldier returning home for good never having to fight again. This was a taste of that vow and the depth at which I believed it. Yet this vow turned out to be a lie.

The forever love wouldn't last. The sickness and health was really only in health. The rich or poor was just for the rich. The support was fragile at best. Our marriage was a one sided promise. I swore and pledged my soul yet my partner buckled.

Sure this makes them out to be the villain. And perhaps they are. But I love them and still do. I will always love my now ex-partner. I'm still in love with them. And someday I may no longer be in love with them, yet I don't see that happening anytime soon. My heart is broken. My heart has been betrayed. Yet there is still hope. 12yrs and my worst nightmare has come to life. Yet I am still alive! This is why I have no fear left.

I have grit. And I have love to give to the universe. My heart will heal in time and I'll choose not to let my wounds guard me from loving others. So while 12yrs closes this chapter of my life. I'll mourn this like a funeral for a love I thought I once had. Yet, while my heart may be broken it is also incredibly open.

Thank you for being with me on my journey.

Stay Present,

-Jesse

Six Realms: The God Realm

As we approach this final realm I want to get really personal. Life happens all around us and it's impossible to truly separate ourselves from what we're going through and the work we're doing. For me there's been an intense amount of change that's been taking place. My spouse and partner for the past twelve years left me and filed for a divorce. This has all created a whirlwind of events, especially since it came as such a surprise. The state that I reside in is particularly unique as my divorce will be finalized in as little as a week or up to 30days. The speed and the shock of this event has rattled my cage. I was living in an emotional ivory tower. Now that tower has been burned and torn down. I wanted to frame this post with this reality. All is not lost in my life, in many ways the complete opposite. However losing my best friend has been both heart breaking and emotionally sobering. To echo a teaching I've steadily been learning through these Buddhist lessons that "anything external can be taken from you". 

Let us begin with a little story I call "The Marble Man".

Looking out from his tower was a life of luxury. No want nor need ever crossed his mind. If anything he felt complete in all sense of the word. He lacked nothing and even felt both insulated and enlightened. Here was the Marble Man. Full of grace and supernatural wisdom, at least from his perspective. The Marble Man would often look below his tower and at times take a detached pity on the struggling commoners, as if they were ants busying themselves about in a pointless flurry. He knew they lived a worry filled existence. He knew they fought and clawed for everything in there lives. And he knew they had it all wrong! 

Until one day this Marble Man awoke from his comfy bed with a strain in his neck. Throughout the day the kink never loosened. Actually the pain grew worse and even spread across his back and shoulders. By evening the Marble Man's whole body was racked in pain. He went for the mirror and what he saw terrified him. He was no longer the man chiseled of stone in perpetual health no now he was an aged man drained of all youth. He was old. This eventuality of his death struck him to the core. He had been given all the comforts and graces one could possibly of imagined. Yet none of that would reverse the inevitable. The Marble Man was like all things in nature reaching his end.


The story of the Marble Man is a picture of all thinking that places us in the God realm. When we're insulated we become detached from our own mortality and from the suffering around us. This is not to say that all comforts are inherently evil, heavens no! Yet to quote a lyric from one of my favorite bands, Remy Zero, "fine living makes us slow". The God realm is in my opinion the realm of the comfortable blind. When we're blind to suffering, be that from a false sense of certainty we will stumble on our own mortality, at least eventually. As I framed this story with the backdrop of some excruciatingly painful life events I'm going through - in many ways the level of certainty I had in my partner was an illusion. No one person, at least no mortal person can ever truly be a rock or complete certainty to us. And it's this faith in these impermanent people and situations that blind fold us from reality. Everything that is external can be taken from us. So the real solution is to find balance with the certainty of uncertainty. To love ourselves first before we can begin to love others. And to hold on loosely to things and others lest we become dependent on them not changing.

Thank you so much for listening to me on my journey.

Stay present,


-Jesse

Delusion or Death 💀




Delusion or Death 💀 

Nightmare at the doomsday cult

Here I was in a long line of people working my way through this large room of a library of a conspiracy theorist gift shop. Books, pamphlets, votives, statues all random articles claiming secret truths and end of the world prophecies. 

As the line moved deeper into the building the pathway became a spiral carpeted stair case. Until the line of people came to an abrupt stop obstructed by a large tub that recessed into the floor. Then a large booming voice started speaking "delusion or death, delusion or death, choose! Delusion or death!"

Peeking into the large tub I see a shallow pool of toxic water and what clearly looks like rotting flesh submerged in the pool. The person ahead of me sets a foot in the water and immediately begins to transition into a living decaying monstrosity.

Across from the tub is a rows of other patrons in, this now clearly a temple of death, are other rotting humans. Each in further layers of decomposition. Again I hear the booming voice say "delusion or death, delusion or death choose delusion or death!"

At this point I turn tail and begin to race through the crowd towards the entrance of the building. Almost to the exit an usher begins chasing after me and says "stop STOP you're NOT allowed to leave with any items." The usher pulls some literature from my pockets as I slip past and narrowly escape outside.

I wake up safe and sound in my bed. Yet I still hear the echo of the booming voice saying "delusion or death, delusion or death choose delusion or death!"


-Jesse

Saying Goodbye


Saying Goodbye...

I've been currently going through a very painful legal separation with my partner of 12yrs. This has caused me a lot of distress and heartache like I never known possible. Yet a strange sense of beauty has emerged. Friends and family have been so overwhelmingly supportive and comforting. These amazing relationships, many who don't live within a thousand miles of me have slowly been melting away my thoughts and feelings of isolation and aloneness. While this hurt is a bit too fresh to speak of at lengths. I am hopeful for the future. I can't say at the present where I'll physically be in next few months, however I feel pulled both by opportunities and necessities to leave Portland, Oregon. 

My life here has transitioned and my new chapter is across the sea or states away. I'll always have a piece of my heart in Oregon. But the universe is in a very real sense calling me away.


Stay Present,


-Jesse

Six Realms: The Titan Realm

The battle raged on for ten years. Each side inching back and forth from victories. Until the mighty Titans hatched the ultimate scheme! To overthrow the Gods of Olympus they decided to stack one mountain upon the other to literally gain the higher ground in the fight.

However what the Titans didn't anticipate was the new Gods had been given magical weapons of mass destruction. With an invisible helmet Hades soared into the air dive bombing from above into the spines of the Titans. Poseidon, with his triton sent tsunamis in all directions wrecking against the Titans bodies. Then the final blow was given by the God of Thunder himself, Zeus. Raining down an electric storm like canons of static and lightening, he struck down the remaining Titans as if they were parchment. The war was over. The Titans had lost and now were doomed to Tartarus and the underworld.

The Titan Realm. 

The story above depicts the literal Titans of Greek myth. Yet it is this constant over reaching or stretching that can be described when we're in the Titan Realm. The name Titan means "stretcher". When our lives become this constant battle, or never ending competition we're living in the Titan Realm. Nothing is good enough and everyone is a foe to overcome. We make war for the sake of having more. This is a prison of always needing to compete.

Years ago I remember a tacky yet popular bumper sticker that said "Whoever dies with the most toys wins". What a sad existence to just be living to undermine the next person or collect the next useless toys.

The ancient Egyptian God of the Sun, Ra was also known in the Greek tongue as Helios. Helios, the Titan God of the Sun. After the Greeks conquered Egypt it's a pretty clear picture that the battle of the titans and Olympian Gods was the rise and fall of two religions. The old weaved into the new but ultimately being subjugated to the new faith. So while there's a clear historical context of the Titans reflecting a changing societal upheaval the desire to war can happen from fear of change or fear of losing control.

When the urge rises up inside us to war against others especially for neither noble or enlightening things it robs us of the present and it teleports us to the ever struggling Titan Realm.

 When we stop the war within us we leave this realm and learn to be in the here and now.

 

Stay Present, 

 

-Jesse

Six Realms: The Human Realm

Let me tell you a story... There once was a homunculus, a creature brought to life by supernatural means, that lived in the forest. This homunculus, or person made from clay eventually became lonely. The homunculus wanted someone to have and hold, spend time with in the forest and everything in between. Until one day guided by the same supernatural means plus a piece of their own clay fashioned themselves an equal partner.

Now these two homunculi spent day and night together. Enjoying each other and the beauty and bounty of the forest. Until one day they came upon a special plant. This plant had a spell on it like no other green thing in the forest. Even more so the supernatural force, that aided in their creation, threatened them to avoid this very plant, especially the fruit it produced.

Now the homunculus' partner being momentarily separated from each other walking by the plant saw a lizard. This lizard, seeming friendly as any of the other creatures in the forest, began to speak in the most elaborate speech. The lizard seemed special yet looked so ordinary. This lizard possessed wisdom the homunculus had never known. The lizard knew the homunculus's inner desires for the magical food from the cursed plant, and persuade the homunculus to eat. So the homunculus ate the fruit and gave some to their partner. It was at this point both of the homunculi realized they were made of brittle clay. And as much as they loved life nothing in their power could keep them from one day crumbling to dust.

The End? 

The above story is my personal retelling of the book of Genesis's "Adam & Eve". I deliberately framed this story devoid of loaded gender specifics and casual human terms to illustrate some Buddhist teachings. That of death, impermanence and "The Human Realm".  The picture above is not to disparage those that choose to read the "Creation Of Humans" literally but to expound on the universality of the story. The truth here transcends denominations.

You see Adam was, according to medieval scientist also know as alchemist, a homunculus or a Golem. Really the first Golem. A Golem is a statute often made from stone or clay in the likeness of a humanoid creature, though not always. In the biblical/Torah telling Adam is made from dust then the breath of the Creator gives him life. Later on Adam is lonely so the Creator removes one of Adam's ribs and makes a partner for him.

It is a basic tenets of Buddhist & Taoist teaching that nothing lasts forever and things are always changing. In the forest the homunculus' realize through the magical food that they're made of dust and won't last forever. They discovered their own mortality. 

In the picture of the Six Realms the Human Realm is the realm of pleasures or desires. Now typically this is the most difficult realm to recognize as dangerous. This is the realm that says it's ok as long as it makes you happy. Wanting more and more is fine as long as that's something that feels good. 

The Buddha said that desires lead to suffering. So while we're busy running about finding new and exciting pleasures eventually we'll have to come to grips with our own mortality. If all you're living for is pleasures what happens when those pleasures run out, or it takes more to give you the same high? This is where the human realm becomes the highway to all the other realms. The human realm is also the gateway to addiction. Once the cravings aren't being quenched you can get angry which teleports you to the Hell Realm. Or you feel deprived, off you go to the hungry Ghost Realm. Yet you can say I'm too busy working to enjoy these very things I want so boom you're in the Animal Realm. What about the other two? The Titan and the God Realms we'll chat about them later but when we describe them you'll see how easy they are to find. 

 

Now the human realm is all around us. From cinema to society. Having more and feeling good is an American virtue. Plus the human realm is so much fun. The story of Adam & Eve, or the way I see it, is about the awakening of the human race. Adam was lonely, or bored, or looking to mate. From the way I gather there's really only three categories of Christian sins: eat it, own it, hump it. Or as King James Bible fans would put it "lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life". Eve spoke to a reptile that persuaded her of the very things she, and later Adam wanted. The desire was already within both of them. Adam's desires were to become his sins and so were Eve's. This becomes more obvious in my retelling as it's devoid of blaming all of humanity on a specific gender. Which is just ludicrous! Humans were always going to die. This story is a picture of that awakening.

Now when we're awaken to our mortality we're free to live life more fully! Not hanging onto temporary pleasures but inner joy, compassion, loving kindness and equanimity. We can be free from living only for unquenchable thirsts. Desires can blind you from the present. This is by far the more complicated of realms for me to understand. Yet as we've mentioned earlier being awake to these realms is our first step. 

 

thank you for following this journey, 

 

Stay Present

-Jesse

Six Realms: The Animal Realm

Before we move onto to this next realm I want to pause for a moment. This blog and this exploration is not something I expected or let alone desire others to read dogmatically. This is just a playful and sometimes painful introspective discussion and thinking out loud.  

This following realm, the animal realm hardly limits itself to Buddhist teachings. The same ideas and illustrations that describe this realm are talked about in great details in Taoist teaching. Which I'm presently enjoy the charming book called "The Tao of Pooh" by Benjamin Hoff. It's easily the most precious and peaceful experience I've discovered in the arena of philosophical stories. 

 

Back to the Animal Realm. The animal realm is the pattern driven person. They're out of breath in their first sentence because they've already queued up there next nine talking points. The animal realm is the realm of racing for survival in an "eat or be eaten" mentality.

You've encountered people like this, if not yourself been there innumerable times. The animal realm is similar to say a gazelle that's in a consistent search for food and a constant alert for predators. People in this realm are  often unreachable. They can't take a break because there's too many fires at work and if they can't finish everything it means the end of their career! They're in a hurry to nowhere. 

Its easy to get caught up in this mess, especially as you allow fear to grip you. When fear is your motivation you're incapable of inviting in a bit of rest and relaxation. The animal realm also turns you into a thoughtless robot. Your life becomes automated. 

 

Here's an experiment to see if someone is in the animal realm. Ask them a motivational question, say why are you doing your task this way in a nonjudgmental tone? See if they have a clue. Ask them about their day or their weekend and see if they can give you anything other than a stock reply. If they only give the stock answer you're currently looking a a robot. They've disconnected for reasons, none of them truthful. 

The animal realm is the realm that makes you stupid! You're to busy to see the world or things around you. The problem is we can all get captured by this thinking. Being busy is not a sign of quality in our lives. Being anxious about our next task then the next is mindless and inhuman. Running and running around and completing to-do lists won't awaken you to the presence of being. Further I challenge you to think of a quality decision you've made under extreme anxiety and fear? That's guaranteed to be a poorly made decision or solution.

How to we break away from this realm? It's quite simple. Slow down and pay attention. Not everything is a fire and exceptionally few things are actually life and death. Looking busy so management or professionals or social media excuses you to just be you is ridiculous.  

I'll leave this subject with a picture. Imagine you're a flowering plant 🌱. At first you begin life as a seed in the ground which eventually breaks free from the soil. Reaching upwards and outwards you're fed by the rich nutrients in the earth and the warmth and light of the sun. Your existence is both out of your control and half unseen. Beneath the soil is your roots. Your history, life events, friendships, heart aches, childhood and adult experiences that brought you to this moment. Yet none of that can be seen. All that can be seen is your leaves and flowers, your external accomplishments, projects, possessions, etc... You're here today because of yesterday's roots. Inner growth is always needed for outer growth. Life is bigger, better and far more wonderful that not taking the time to stop and smell the roses.

There's truly no need to be in such a hurry, we'll all get to our own end in time. Lastly to give my favorite quote from the "Steve Jobs" biography "the journey is the reward".

 

Stay present, 

 -Jesse

Six Realms: The Ghost Realm

Continuing our conversation about the six realms, starting with the Hell Realm now onto the Ghost Realm. Often referred to as the hungry ghost realm. This particular realm has probably the strongest resonance with me and I believe many people who've grow up in extreme poverty. Just to recap according to the Buddhist teaching the six realms are the following:

  • The Hell Realm
  • The Ghost Realm
  • The Animal Realm
  • The Human Realm
  • The Titan Realm
  • The God Realm

Note: none of these realms are realms to want to reside in emotionally. Nor are you confined to one particular realm. As we'll chat about later we can transition from one emotional realm almost fluid like. The point is these realms illustrate what our desires and emotions are experiencing. And hopefully how to better or help ourselves be awake and present.

 The Ghost Realm is in my opinion one of the most intriguing realms. In the Ghost Realm you're always hungry but never fed, always grasping but never attaining. It's really no surprise when Hollywood and timeless stories portray ghosts as these formless apparitions unable to reach out to the living. It's when we feel unfortunate, without, or in constant need that we're living our lives as hungry Ghosts. It also encompasses a toxic hope I refer to as a "lotto mentality". Always looking for more and more with a magical mind that says you'll be happy when or if these wishes come true.

People that have experienced poverty get what I'm talking about. You want to spring from your circumstances but nothing seems to come your way. You're thirsty or hungry or naked or without some necessities. When you're in this emotional state you're in the Ghost Realm. But how do we get out of it?

Only within this last year did I realize how deeply I was plagued by this poverty mindset, this hungry ghost realm. How I had been forcing myself to live in this Ghost Realm. Where I felt in constant need. However the truth is, it's not need but greed that keeps me in this realm. 

There's an innate desire to always make ourselves look good. It's something deeper than I can fully understand. Yet there's also a cultural nobility at least in America to always look busy, to be productive. This pattern like behavior leads us into all sorts of troubles and when we touch on the other realms it's pretty obvious. However this constant push for more and more in our lives, and believing that that desire is noble, is in my opinion the greatest emotional evil that keeps us in the hungry Ghost Realm. Thinking what I'm craving is a need when in reality it's GREED! 

 

My father was the prime example of greed for me. Throughout my life the lion's share of our conversations revolved around his two favorite topics: lust and money. How to have it and how keep it. His whole world was painted in that light. Now for myself growing up in many ways diametrically opposed to my father on almost every idea, I still felt the effects of my father's greedy passive aggressive sentiments. While I was a penniless artist, musician, and naive hippy Jesus freak. He was a stuffy self serving amoral business man, always looking for an angle to exploit people. As I mentioned in previous posts I didn't have much of a relationship with my father, especially before I was 13. My father was a force in part of my life. All parents or parental guardians are. He was also much a force of evil and his efforts left a mark. Of that mark was for quite sometime a broken record in my head. The record said to me my worth was external. That I didn't have enough, or that I didn't matter until I had enough. 

To be completely candid you can see even here why it was beneficial for me to remove this toxin from my life, regardless of him sharing DNA with me. This ever unsatisfied person imbued a poverty mindset that clung to my early extreme experiences of being poor, homeless, hungry and alone. You see the hungry ghost realm keeps you there by many methods but all of them are lies. Being homeless isn't the end, what is home but an external comfort. Anything external can be taken from you. And a poverty mind makes you an emotional prisoner.  

Perhaps these ideas are too simplistic for you. Yet for me escaping the hungry ghost realm or at minimum realizing I was there for so long helped dissolve the fear and greed that tries to keep me there. 

 

I'll leave with one last story. When I was a child I would often have a series of reoccurring nightmares. One particular nightmare was that of being trapped in a dark windowless room with a terrifying floating head. This head would rush towards me to frighten me. And I would lose all since of direction. Years later I would discover this prison with the scary face was a manifestation of my childhood lack of agency. I was as a child unable to change my circumstances. I was forced into someone else's will for my life much, like all children. Yet I'm no longer a child. I'm not helpless. You're not helpless. Hope, real hope, hope to be awake and present is but a breath away.  And when I see a conditional happiness I can see it's truthfully greed not need that keeps me in chains. 

 

thank you so much for following my journey. Be well and be encouraged. 

Stay present,

-Jesse

Six Realms: The Hell Realm

During my mindfulness journey I discovered a fascinating teaching called the six realms. It is a wonderful illustration which emerged from Buddhism. Whether you think of them as literal or figurative they reflect real human experiences we all have. The six realms are the following:

  • The Hell Realm
  • The Ghost Realm
  • The Animal Realm
  • The Human Realm
  • The Titan Realm
  • The God Realm

Each realm represents a metaphorical and emotional reality. Many of these realms can even interweave throughout your day or within the same experience. Just to give a birds eye view on this idea of the realms we'll start with the hell realm and work our way through with each post.

The Hell Realm is as you might of guessed it, Hell. Fire, pain, agony and anger. When you're angry you're in the hell realm. And what the hell realm teaches us is that anger is ultimately about feeling alone. Now there is an immense amount of literature on this subject but I'd like to keep this subject as personal as possible. One of the beautiful things about Buddhist teachings is they deliberately ask you to test their ideas and not to swallow them mindless or dogmatically.

 

Growing up in a Christian home I was told basically that anger was bad and that angry people are bad. Which made sense to me. Angry people do violent things and violence is bad. Right? Well this is where I've evolve my own ideas. Anger is just an emotion, and emotions aren't really bad or good they're just emotions. And these emotions have greater underlining meanings within ourselves that requires a deeper reflection to begin to understand. 

Let me explain. For most of my life I considered myself to be a very even tempered person. Outwardly cool, calm and collected. When someone would cut me off or was rude to me I never said anything cruel or reactionary in response. I just outwardly held my peace about it. Thinking all a long, "look at how nice I am letting other people act a fool" and me not saying anything. Now little did I know that I was actually feeling superior to these people, a feeling akin to the god realm, a self righteous attitude. So I ignored feeling frustrated to jump to being holy.      

You might be thinking, I'm having trouble tracking. Well I wasn't escaping my anger by ignoring it or displacing it with false piety I was treating a natural human experience as if the very idea of getting upset reflected something fundamentally wrong about myself. Anger isn't good or bad it just exist. Why we're angry is a far more insightful exploration.  When I was being wronged, then immediately ignoring my anger I was missing out on the revelation that anger brings. I was feeling alone. Someone or something upset me and isolated me. We'll get into the other realms later. But for years I thought I wasn't an angry person meaning I don't get angry, so I'm a good person, I was in reality lying to myself. Anger like many other emotions are a kind of litmus tests of your spiritual health.

Your body isn't healthy because it's not currently fighting an infection. Your body is constantly fighting microscopic battles night and day. You're body is considered healthy when those infections aren't overpowering your life. Such is anger. This is not to police your emotions but to learn from them, to dissect them pattern by pattern. Examine them. Understand and validate them. This doesn't mean we indulge them but we learn from them.

Perhaps why I was angry with a careless driver is because they scared me and almost caused myself or someone else harm. Perhaps underneath that anger is a frustrated, hungry, or scared person using anger pretending it's a shield of courage. 🛡  

Anger is like the hot water that draws out the flavors of a tea. The hot water isn't what I'm after but the flavor of the tea. The hell realm is often just around the corner, but knowing that anger teleports us there is a power in itself. When we're angry and stay angry we're burning in a type of hell. I'm sure there's hours of conversation about anger triggers but perhaps we can learn to look at anger face to face  and see the deeper pattern within. The why we're angry and not just the reaction. We all get angry and this doesn't fundamentally reflect anything greater about ourselves than that we're human. It does however have the powerful potential to bring about greater insights into our being.

 

While I'm chewing on the topic of the six realms I intend to break down the other five realms in future posts. So I invite you to stay tuned.

 

thanks for following my journey 📖 

Stay present, 

 

-Jesse

First Job

The other day I got to chatting with some folks about their first jobs. One person mentioned food services another person mentioned labor. And it got me thinking my first job was a pretty odd one. I remember it quite vividly. Aside from pulling weeds or mowing lawns my first job was illegal. 

My step-father had me at 10-11yrs old go around door-to-door selling hot phone cards. Hot as in they were stolen(a fact I'd later learn). And here's the crazy thing I knew my step-father wasn't gonna let me keep a penny and I'd get a beating if I didn't sell them all. So I jacked the price up on each stolen phone card I was selling by a few bucks. 

It was a odd job for sure. But doing odd jobs would later become a bit of the usual for me. Perhaps I'll share more on that at another time.

Life has a weird way of driving us in all sorts of directions we never would of thought possible. But we all have to start from somewhere. And you really only get one first of something, be that a bit boring or a bit bizarre, Thanks for following along.

 

Stay Present, 

 

-Jesse

Visited By Ganesha

Recently I've been really digging meditation. Like big time. Seems like a silly thing to brag about. I often half close or close my eyes for anything from a few breathes to several minutes and just focus on my breathing. It's a sweet way to chill and be in the present. Not all sessions are equal by any degree. But they're always beneficial to helping me focus on the here and the now. I could go on as to why I struggle with that but honestly I'm not unique to this. We all have this monkey mind so to speak. A brain train that doesn't want to slow down for a second. A mind that's desperately clinging to ideas, subjects and objects in a frantic sorta way.

However, sometimes I have these far out experiences when I meditate. That even while it's important not to get attached to them I still like to write them down as a reference. An experience is an experience. And that's worth noting in my book. Even if after a session I just cleared my busy thoughts or struggled with gaining attention. An array of experiences helps me to let go of all the stuff and just be. 

Like I mentioned recently I've been digging meditation. This one time I met Ganesha. Now I'm not Hindu and never really versed myself in Ganesha lore or literature. At least not before I met the dude. Now don't get me wrong I know I met Ganesha in my mind but it was real and very powerful.  It was a next level experience that I can't quite shake even though I should. Especially since  meditation teaches us to let things go.

I had been wrestling with some heavy stuff so I decided to really dig my heels until I was in a particularly focused state of meditation. I saw myself shoot up into the inky black sky like a comet. All around me were constellations. Each constellation formed a familiar shape then in the distance I saw a cluster of stars that made the silhouette of Ganesha seated in the lotus position. I took a closer look and out from the stars appearing before my very eyes was the physical form of Ganesha. He placed his trunk on my right shoulder and I felt a transmission of energy. Like He was downloading cosmic secrets into my being. I felt calmer and more at peace than I could remember. I even smelt a sweet aroma in the air and warmth of His trunk on my chest. I opened my eyes and He was gone. But not really. I felt Him strangely with me for the next couple days. The warmth and the smells would randomly reemerge.  

Later I would dive into some homework on my Ganesha and discover He's the deity of removing obstacles, among many things. And it was clear in my mind why He visited me. Be that a vision, or visitation Ganesha placed a peaceful mark on me and it helped me down the road of my spiritual journey. 

You might think I'm some crazy hippie. To be candid I for the most part consider myself a Christian. Albeit when it comes to spirituality I'm honestly more into the mystic vibe. I want an experience not a ritual. Be it Lao Tzu, Buddha, Christ, Kabbalah, Krishna, Zarathustra, Mohammed(PBUH) or beyond if they've got something to offer me via wisdom, peace or presence I'm listening. I'm not here to pass judgments on what people encounter. I'm not after artificial abstracts or dogmatic truths. I'm after experiences, and reality. So when I share this very personal experience I get its odd. But it's also strangely cool.

 

Thanks for following my journey, 

 

Stay present! 

-Jesse

 

Revisiting Old Tales

In college I wrote a children's book called "The Oak Tree". The story is about a tree that falls in love with a fox and what ensued afterwards. 

The class was a lot of fun! It was taught by a professional that worked at Dark Horse comics. He did an exciting and inspiring job of teaching the ins and outs of graphic storytelling like I had never understood before. He also brought in a slue of guest artists and professionals to mead out industry tips and insights. 

One particular guest was an editor at Dark Horse. She went around the room giving healthy edits to people's stories. It was an incredibly rare privilege. Now I was a bit different than much of the classmates in that I was creating a kids story rather than a traditional comic book. When she read my story she was moved to tears. Inside I leaped for joy in that I had struck an emotional chord with her. 

However, I was puzzled. I asked what's wrong? She said it was a great story. Yet I was still confused. I asked her directly if the story is so great how would I present it to Dark Horse comics. She said while it's a great story it's unfortunately not a fit for Dark Horse. I was completely side smacked. Here I had hope she enjoyed my story or at the very least hoped she had minimal suggested edits. Now starring me in the face was someone that enjoyed my story so I naturally assume what's the next steps? Sure I'm hardly leaving this kids book in this post at the moment so it might be hard to feel the resonance of what I'm saying. 

 

Yet my point being I felt had found an audience with a creative gatekeeper so to speak, and in this context a positive one at that. However I was mistaken. I had written a children's story in a comic book class. Sure many comics are kid friendly. But this story was the wrong format for the wrong audience. I had thought I was being clever, or perhaps all along I had really just wanted an excuse to tell my story. 

Here's the interesting takeaway. Regardless of the audience or the format or really if the story was even good or not. I had a weight on my heart that needed lifted. I'm nobody special nor do I need to be to express my feelings to the world. I want to create emotional connections with people that's all. While I've positioned my mind to revisit this kids story and hopefully release it to the public, it's the alleviation of my creative burden that fuels my soul. Sure financial security has an allure but there really is no such thing as security in uncertainty. And life is always changing, always uncertain.

Resting in this uncertainty has been my new zen. Not my efforts, not my desires, and not the circumstances around me. Creating when there's a weight that needs lifting only through creating is what matters. Connecting in real ways are what matters most. And acknowledging and dispelling the burdens of success or failure. So while I'm revisiting old tales I pray to glean new respect and brighter sensations from the experience they bring instead of the silly possibilities they often never bring. 

thank you for following along 

Stay present,

-Jesse

The Temple

I dreamt last night that I was climbing up an enormous mountain of stone steps towards a Buddhist temple. Step after step I saw and passed many other devotees heading in the same direction.

Finally as I approached the entry way I could see a billowing fog of what looked like incense as patrons poured in and out of the doorway. Crossing the door way I was ecstatic for what was about to happen. I had the anticipation of an experience of zen or pristine awareness in store.

As I walked through the fog I saw inside this temple was in reality a massive buffet as far and my eyes could see. Here was the hustle and bustle of a hoping restaurant and everything looked so delicious! It's at this point I woke up to the sound of my own laughter.

 

Sometimes a dream is absurd sometimes it's a cosmic joke - this seemed to be a bit of both. Thanks for following along.  

-Jesse

Untold Stories

If you've read much of this blog you might think otherwise, yet I have an inner battle when it comes to sharing my personal stories. I believe I'm by no means alone in this feeling. Nonetheless the struggle is real.

 

Not so long ago I was having coffee with a friend and we started sharing some deeply personal experiences. At the end I said to him how much I appreciated our chats and tagged on a bit of preachy advice. I said "it helps no one for us to keep these stories bottled up inside". Clearly I'm a hypocrite just by my apprehension to do that very thing. 

Yet as silly as it sounds to take my own advice I kept thinking on this idea. Everything changes, nothing lasts forever. We're all going to die and in 100-150 years everyone alive  today won't really matter. Unless we make today matter. Today is technically all we have. And for many today might be their last. 

Now this might sound bleak or depressing to some, yet to me it gives me strength. If today is all I have then, what I choose to do today is far more important than what I did yesterday and tomorrow hasn't or may never happen. So it's this resolve that I'd like to uncork untold stories and I encourage you to do the same. 

Imagine what that could do for you or myself if we just intentionally shared more? If we all said today is a good day to be at peace with giving this to the universe. 

Thank you so much for following along. I wish you peace and courage as you choose to share your untold stories. 

 

-Jesse

What is Your Everest?

I'm a dreamer to a fault. I think the impossible on a whim all the time. This might make me sound like some innovator or visionary. But those are just silly words for a head in the clouds dreamer. As a society we glorify these imaginative people in media, tech and beyond. However it often boils down to two things that give these people worth: wealth and opportunity. 

Take any invention from the creator of radio to television to electricity many people were simultaneously developing the same idea at some other location. Yet the winners like Farnsworth, Edison, Disney & Jobs weren't the originators. They were lucky or affluent enough to find their voice or product to become the loudest. Such is business.

 

You have a great product, story or idea which might even be able to help better the world but there's really no guarantee your projects will ever see the light of day. Yet we still create. We still dream. Why am I seemingly lamenting about the plight of the dreamer? Well two reasons... 

1. Talking about this reality helps me be at peace. 

2. Speaking a dream out loud regardless of how wild and impossible feels profoundly cathartic. 

 

One particular dream that's been a labor of love and heart ache has been an animated children's show I've been developing. The show is called "Kafka & Normie". It's about a beetle and worm that live in the attic of a library and they go on literary adventures together.

The premise of the show is somewhat reminiscent of that classic live action kids show called "Wishbone" with that adorable dog that re-enacts stories from books. I absolutely loved that show as a kid and I can honestly say that it was one of the few programs aside from Mr. Roger's & Reading Rainbow that actively gave me a thirst for reading. 

You see while I've mentioned this in previous posts I grew up much of my childhood homeless. However these shows when I did view them ignited a flame inside be like no other. I was obsessed with libraries, still am! Even being homeless and not in school I tried to go to the library whenever possible. I would often get there when the doors opened and stay till they closed. The library is the simplest and purest way for anyone to feel rich! They offer access to the greatest wealth and depth of subjects and knowledge from history and around the world all at your fingertips. 

This is why this silly animated kids show means so much to me. It represents my salvation. The library saved me. And it's through this love of adventure of reading that I want to share that same spark. If I can hopefully reach even one child in need, like I was, I can truly leave this world fulfilled. So for me my Mt. Everest is this animated kids show. Albeit more of what the kids show represents to me.  

 

So I ask you this question: what is your Everest? What is a great labor of love that you do regardless of the outcome?

 

thanks for reading along 📖   

-Jesse

 

Printing Kidneys

We live in a pretty incredible time! It seems almost like there's a never ending technological miracle happening every day! 

 

At the beginning of the year I started doing some freelance driving gigs for supplemental income; Lyft & Doordash particularly. I just want to frame this post with a bit of a confession. We all have seasons in our life and there's no shame in having a side hustle to make ends meet. I struggled with this at first because I felt it might override my mind or make me feel low because not all of my time was being allocated to my favorite work. That was hugely incorrect. The truth is my industry and many others is often feast or famine. You'll work 65+ hours one week then maybe  zero hours the next week. A side hustle can seriously help you have a bit of financial balance. Plus you don't have to commit to anything longer term or on going. One of the greatest things about those freelance gigs aside from the total flexibility is the opportunity to meet new people.  

One such person I met really impressed me! He was a doctor. We got to chatting like usual and I discovered he was a kidney transplant doctor. He shared with me some fascinating details about the difficulties of his job, especially in context to compatible donors. Apparently a donor even if they share the same blood type and are related still face the possibility that there might be trouble with the host rejecting the new kidney. 

This is where having read an exciting article in Wired years prior in college I brought up the topic of printed organs, such as kidneys. Well to my amazement my rider immediately perked up and said "that was me being interviewed in that Wired article!" Here I was a graphic designer  taking a morning Lyft shift and I got to meet someone who performed miracles! Total highlight of my day and beyond! The doctor continued to explain the complexity, much of it over my head, of how they create the matrix required to grow tissue and organs.

To me this experience is a reminder that we're all continually surrounded by extraordinary people doing extraordinary things! Some of us like myself get to share their stories, others get to create the stories, all of us are more connected than we realize.

 

-Jesse

My Eyes Are Bigger Than My Stomach

Sometime last year I got a wild hair and wanted to create my own LMS (Learning Management System) for a FREE animation program. I've had quite a bit of success in the past teaching, especially animation and design, so I thought out loud "what if I could do the whole thing myself and for FREE"?

 

Well reality set in and I started to pull apart the hiccups to create this program all on my own. I thought perhaps I could use the exercises and projects I've had my interns create over the years or even rework my previous course work for this platform. Then I got seriously stuck. 

 

While I'm an animator and graphic designer, the hurdles to create this sort of online FREE "Animation Boot Camp", I needed to sort out more than just lessons and examples. Teaching the materials wasn't my problem; time, costs and technology were the real problems.

 

Firstly time is the most significant and the most limited. I'm just one person, and when exactly would I be able to pull together the extra 40hrs a week on top of my work and life to build this thing? This dream project requires a great deal of time and energy.  

Secondly I've gotta keep the lights on and working on a FREE animation school isn't going to pay the bills. Even if I had unlimited server credits on AWS (Amazon Web Services) and it was 100% free to build (which it's by no means) I need some upfront costs to build it.  

 

Lastly, and this is my most persnickety point, technology. While there is amazing technology available, the cost of the greatest tools are the immediate barrier that cause would be animators to miss out. From Toon Boom to Adobe and beyond these softwares have a steep learning curve and a hefty price. While they're amazing software and I'm confident I can teach them to anyone; basically I would be creating free advertising for an existing animation software company. 

 

Which got me thinking why not create my own tools? Why not create animation & design tools that are free to use?! Well that's my current ambition. I personally feel a quality educator, cares so deeply for their students, they're passionate about removing as many obstacles as they can so their students can learn uninterrupted!  

 

So what does that mean for the future of "Mr. Bray Academy/ Animation Boot Camp"? Well I haven't abandoned my dream project. In many ways I've just refined it. However I'll mostly likely be creating course work that is flexible and modular for those limited to just an internet connection and interested from multiple entry points. I've even been playing with the idea of creating a character animation course using, CSS  (Cascading Style Sheets) & JavaScript, web languages that in many ways are a whole different animal to the classical digital animation approach.

 

Also you might be thinking why not create the course on Udemy or Skillshare or an existing LMS site without having to deal with all these technical issues. The truth is currently I'm really disappointed in their lack of functionality and boilerplate approach to learning. Most of those sites allow you to show a slide, have a fill in the blank or multiple choice quiz, play some audio or a video. Which is fine for some learning but animation is highly, highly interactive. The people that are often drawn to animation range greatly too. I've taught people from hundreds of different countries, from ages six to sixty and beyond and each person has a very unique learning style. So my hope is to create an LMS that's adaptive to peoples own learning styles. Something that's smart enough to allow people to approach a problem differently. Not always the linear approach, and in a way when they finish the course they'll be empowered to create beautiful animations, films and even teach themselves. 

 

This is my basic disrupt thinking. Remove the old lecture then test model and get the learners involved! This might be beyond me to finish I have no idea at the moment. Yet I have a clear vision for it. Animation is in my opinion is one of the most exciting subjects you could possibly teach. And being that animation is inherently exciting that means the bar is exceptionally high to begin with. This LMS can't be just another string of YouTube playlist tutorials. I need a platform that's built for interactively, that I can add my own custom code and measure and refine the course materials.

So as you can see my eyes are clearly bigger than my stomach. I want to revolutionize how animation is taught and hopefully how stories are told and shared across the globe. Perhaps this might eventually mean a pivot in my companies business model or even an offshoot non profit. I'm not sure yet. I personally don't like the paperwork and administration aspect with the whole non profit idea. I'd like to not have this project be dependent on tax deductible donation or grants. In my mind's eye I can see a dozen ethical and positive revenue options for the school. But I don't want to sacrifice the educational experience and I don't want this to only cater to people that could already afford conventional learning.

There's lies the creative nut I'm trying to crack and there's your long winded answer for if you were curious what happen to the Animation Boot Camp. If you're interested in chatting more about this or if this idea excites you please feel free to reach out to me via email: jesse@mrbray.com

 

thank you so much for following along. Have an excellent day! 

 

-Jesse