This interview of Michael Coleman was conducted by Chad Seidel. Photograph also by Chad Seidel.
C: Where are we?
M: Savannah, Georgia.
C: What are you?
M: Sky-watcher, tree-climber, dirt-digger. I am what I say I am.
C: Are you between places?
M: Never. No, I'm home. Always.
C: How did you get home?
M: Perseverance. Trial and error. Survival. That's it.
C: Why don't you want to get a job?
M: I already had a job. I had a great job. I had things that people would tell me were everything.
M: Yeah, success. I hit success. I don't feel successful. I don't feel wealthy. I'm rich, but I'm not wealthy. I went to Iraq. I did pretty brutal things to fairly good people, as a good person. It happens.
C: Do you…
M: No. Regret? No.
C: Do you feel like you have their souls locked up inside of you?
M: Every night. That's why I build dream catchers. Take the nightmare…
C: You take their souls?
M: I released their souls…and I'm jealous. I'm jealous that they're there. When I released them, I'm jealous of the release, not repentant of taking. I didn't take anything from them, I gave them…I gave them their release. I'm just jealous, not regretful.
C: Do you want to be released?
M: Of course. That's almost like the meaning of life. Live it, and go.
C: What is being released?
M: Leaving. Leaving life. That is the release. You have to deal with all this bullshit…and then you're released. You have nothing to fear. You have no more bullshit. No more sirens going down the street, no more people thinking that they're better than you, no more you thinking you're better than somebody. Ultimate peace.
C: What about love? Are you released from love too?
M: Love is the only thing that keeps me going on this planet.
C: Does that go when you are released?
M: I think so. Kindred souls and whatnot. I found people I met a thousand times before. I found them, and we talked about it. We can't talk in too much detail because we're crazy. But yeah, love carries on.
C: Old souls?
M: Kindred spirits. Old souls. Things that happen a hundred times before.
C: Have you lived thousands of lives?
C: So you will be released and then you will come back?
M: Sure. Re-spawn. Whatever it's called. Yeah, absolutely. It's not my last go-around, not my first rodeo.
C: How do you feel about your brain?
M: What do you mean?
C: When you think about your mind, and neurons, and memories, and storage…
M: It's just an organ. It's a muscle. Just a piece of the flesh.
C: Is it different from consciousness?
C: What is consciousness?
M: Beyond the brain. It's not there trapped inside your skull.
C: So do you think, DMT, is that leaving your mind?
M: No. Well, it's your consciousness leaving your skulleton. I mean it is, as far as a DMT trip goes…you only get two. By god. In your life's cycle, you only get to trip on DMT twice. One of them is through birth, one of them is through death. I didn't take DMT, I took an inhibitor to make it release again. Honestly, I feel like I may have cheated my death. Maybe my way out won't be so grand the next time, because I already figured it the fuck out. I already left my body…
C: And then came back.
M: Yeah. Twice. One through inhibitors, once through my engagements in Iraq. I died in Iraq, I bled out and died. I saw my creator. Worst pain ever. Worst nightmares you've ever seen. Ever. But, I was given the opportunity to never see those, never feel those… or, come back and feel them the worst, ever. And that's what I chose.
C: You chose to come back? Why?
M: I made a promise to my mother.
C: Why are we fighting?
M: Religious beliefs. Money. Cultural dissatisfaction. Ramifications for our ancestors, we have to pay. We have to pay for what they did, and that's why we fight.
C: Do you agree with that?
C: Look at those birds.
M: Drove, a drove of birds.
C: Those birds are following me.
C: They love me.
M: Birds do that.
C: So I've only traveled for two months of my life...
M: We wouldn't be talking here together so candidly if you've only traveled for two months of your life, if you're only twenty six years old you wouldn't get a chance to talk to me. Where else have you been?
C: I don't know. I can't remember.
M: I can't remember in specific instances but I know I have. If energy never dies… This is your first time around? Do you not get a shady feeling from a shady person? And don't have any contact with them, walk away… and later you see that shady person being shady to someone else who wasn't able to recognize it?
C: I can feel that.
M: Yeah. You can feel when somebody is shitty. Not shady. Shitty. You can feel it. "You are a shitty person, you are doomed to live like this." I am blessed to live like this. I thought I was doomed. I used to only think there was a sheep, a shepherd, and a wolf… we forgot about the sheepdog. We forgot about the man that's cool with the wolf, protects the sheep, and if the shepherd asked… he would kill the shepherd too. If the shepherd leads the sheep in the wrong way, the sheepdog will kill the shepherd. He only has one job, and that's to protect the sheep. But he's cool with the wolf and he's cool with the shepherd. He loves the sheep. It's a whole new class, age of enlightenment. Our generation is enlightened, we have the universe in our palm. Everything that has ever been said you can find on a computer in your hand. This is something I find amazing - we sent a rocket into space with human beings with a computer that took up half the rocket. We could do it with our smartphone now, the computer that was in that rocket is all contained in the palm of our hand. We can send a rocket to outer space with a smartphone. The age of enlightenment, we have been given every bit of information at a fingertip. This is what I want to see.
C: Tell me about feeling love.
M: I love the smell of dirt, I love the smell of dirt. Like pick dirt up, bring it to my face, I love how it smells. I love grass smell. I love seashells. I love oceans, the ability to walk naked into an ocean and never come out.
C: Never come out?
M: Yeah, you can walk into an ocean and you'll never come back. If that's what you want to do. I love that. That's freedom. I love it.
C: What's your plan?
M: Honestly, I'm going to write a book, cross-country. I am going to hike the trail of tears, I am going to force myself to march the trail of tears, I wanna see why everybody died. I want to see what about this land was so good for me to kill. I mean, I had an image in my mind from the picture books they gave me in school… the lies on the paper. But. I need to see why the fuck I did what I did, as far as killing humans. I hope that I can get generosity from other human beings that know what I'm going through, and seek the same things that I do. I don't want a million dollars, I don't want a million dollars. I have to be heard, I need a voice, I haven't had a voice…ever. Not one. I've done what I did and I do what I do, I never had a voice in this country. I had the ultimate say in others. Like a god. You live, you die. Pow. Yeah, I never got that here. I've never once voted for a president, none of our presidents have really been voted for.
C: What's happening?
M: Stick figures, marionettes, puppet-masters. That's all.
C: So you're going to hike the trail of tears, you're going to see, you're going to meet the people…
M: They're all dead. Those are the indians that we forced to death, we forced them to march to death. Yes, I will meet the people. Yes, I will talk to them. But not consciously. I went to sleep on an indian burial ground and woke up after the worst nightmare of my life knowing I needed to make dream catchers. I knew.
C: What do you want? Are you going for the journey? I don't get…
M: I'm bringing it back to the people I lost. Including myself.
C: So you're on an infinite quest…
M: Every time I see a veteran laying in the gutter, I will pick him up…if I'm not laying in the gutter next to him. Even if I am, I'll make him laugh. And then we will both get up. That's what we will do.
C: Do you have compassion for your self?
M: I hold myself to high esteem and sometimes I have let myself down. But. I forgive myself. I understand why I did it. Yes. I am compassionate towards myself, or else I would commit suicide. If I couldn't feel the compassion, if I didn't know what I was doing was wrong but be able to forgive it at the same time… I would have killed myself a long time ago. Also. I don't think that's how I am supposed to go. That's not the grand design. I tried, it just didn't work out. I mean, I have thoroughly tried and it just did not work out. It's not part of the grand design.
C: You think there is a grand design?
M: Yeah. There is a book written, but, I can't call it god, or allah, or muhammad, or whatever the fuck anybody calls it. There is a grand design. I mean look at it, we came from pieces of dirt. We started off as a single cell. A moss. A growth. A fungus. And then, over hundreds of thousands of years…look at us now.
C: I don't know what I'm doing...
M: Awesome. Perfect. Perfect. That's why we sat down here today. I don't know what the fuck I'm doing. I have a good idea, but, what the fuck man? You want me to build a house or… two point three kids or… two cars for only one person or… what's a car? Why is gas? What the fuck are we doing? Not for me. I like living in a tree. I like being in the dirt. That's where I'm from. That's where I need to be. I don't get all this, I don't understand it, I did, I used to, I used to hurt myself. I was a heroin addict. I could not figure out why the fuck… I didn't feel good here… I used heroin to feel good, in this. Heroin is available everywhere, I mean, It's been used thousands, millions of times. It's a medicine, but, in the sense that I used it… it was a medicine to take me away from all this. And then I feel guilty that I hurt myself so bad. That I got into something so bad because I needed to get away. To where, I'm not an addict, I need to get away… no not kill myself, just get the fuck away. I hurt myself thinking that I needed to live in this, because television bombards me, people bombard me. How are you going to make money? What is money? It's a piece of linen with ink. I can make ink, I can figure out how to make linen. I just didn't get it. I don't. I still don't get it. And I won't. Instead of taking vacations into the woods, and feeling good for a day or two, I'd rather live in the woods and take vacations into society and feel bad for a day or two. You know? That's where the fuck I am now. And I'm not weird, I think I have the right idea. I think I have the right idea. And if I don't, fuck it, I'll live with it. It's my idea.
C: What do you think about pacifists?
M: Live and let live. Don't stop me, I won't stop you. Stay the fuck out of my way, and I'll stay the fuck out of yours.
C: So I'm going…
M: What are you going to do? You're going down south…
C: I'm trying to figure out if there is a place I can live.
M: There is a place you can live, you have to find it. You have to build it. With your own two [hands]. You're not going to live comfortably in these comfortable houses. You're not going to sleep good on comfortable couches. You'll have to build your own. You'll have to build your own life. These people are tortured. They’re tortured. This woman here, god bless her, she's so awesome, she is a very good woman, hospitality out of this world, but, she has to go pick her car up from the shop. She has to pay her mortgage, she has to go see the bank, she has to, has to, has to, has to, has to. I don't have to do shit but stay white and die. I mean, it is what it is, I'm white and I have to do that. And then I have to die. That's the only two things I have to do.
C: Time is the only…
M: Maybe I could turn black, maybe I could stay away from death. Maybe I could stay alive forever. I don't think so, but… cut. Thank you.