The Much that Calls for More

                                                                                                                           The Red Boats by Claude Monet


“The much that calls for more.” — Margaret Fuller 1810-1850

There are moments when The Mystery, through circumstance, opens the ledgers of our life revealing its accounts—the credits and debits of experience and expression—our daily commerce. At these junctures we are best served to sit well in our body—relaxed, body-centered, connected to Earth’s center and attend to here and now via our direct experience.

In this we are to allow non-intellect- and non-imaginative-based awareness to inform our understandings. In this we begin the accounting The Mystery is asking of us:
• Is my commerce buoyed on the agency of my resounding “Yes!” to Life?
• Or—is my “No.” leaving me subsisting in the wake of another? of circumstance?
• Is my commerce predicated on Awareness? Right Attention? Clear Intent? Mutuality?
• Or—does it ensue from my solitary impoverished self-interest? albeit unawares?
• Am I in love with Life?
• Or—do I favor the psychological over direct real-time sensory experience?
• Do I allow others into my inner circle?
• Or—do I hunker isolated behind rigid ramparts of my own making?
• Is my commerce suffused with me being gracious–with myself and others?
• Or—do I impose anguish or vitriol—though unawares—on those in my sphere?
• Am I giving myself love-based treasure which provides charge to my daily life?
• Or—do I rely on the currency of my cherished resistances to give charge–which of course I remain oblivious to the taxes doing so levies on me? on those near me?
• Am I equal to circumstance?
• Am I equal to the moment?

In this accounting we remember we are much.

In this accounting we can detect calls for more.


The Winds of Fate by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

But to every mind there openeth,
a way, and way, and away,
a high soul climbs the highway,
and the low soul gropes the low,
and in between on the misty flats,
the rest drift to and fro.

But to every [woman] man there openeth,
a high way and a low,
and every mind, decideth,
the way [her’s] his shall go.

One ship sails East,
and another West,
by the self-same winds that blow,
’tis the set of the sails
and not the gales,
that tells the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea
are the waves of time,
as we journey along through life,

’Tis the set of the soul,
that determines the goal,
and not the calm or the strife.

Leveraging Decency

I grew up in America’s mid-west: Mom from Brooklyn. Dad, rural Iowa. Dad never distanced himself from depression era losses. We all enjoyed THAT world. Mom struggled to imbue a fundamentalist Christian bent. WHEW! If that’s not a small box to add to impoverished thought… myopia and degrees of difficulty notwithstanding, the reconciling of a Self and Life can be achieved.

Sidebar: The American Mythologist Joseph Campbell said something to the effect that there is Light in every religion though their structure prevents most from realizing it. Though I know those who found it—none in my family—nor I. Now add this bit: The great writer, musician, painter and teacher Martin Prechtel reports that “Religion cannot be sold to happy people.”

As testimonial, my family and community ignorantly followed our marching orders furthering our unhappiness: We pursued ethics of hard work, self-sacrifice and restrictive/diminishing Christianity. Unwittingly we maintained the lie that girls and women deserve second-class status. Fear and unhappiness are fertile ground for religious currents—chilly though they were. You’d wonder what could grow THERE?

What grew in addition to our unhappiness—of which echos remain—pressure from the boot of patriarchy securely placed on the throats of girls and women. That’s what grew! To which every girl and woman can attest. Some men too, but too few.

Get this: The majority of us are unaware that the source of our daily exhaustion lies with our keeping those weighty boots in place. A place they don’t belong. Few if any have sussed this root cause out. Boots belong on the ground. This misplacement lies at the center of humanity’s denial of girls, women and the feminine. This also perpetuates the imprisoning of boys and men… gravely, this confinement is oblivious to nearly all.

Setting aside the pandemic nature of this obscenity, it is curious that my otherwise bright, intelligent, quick, clever and good thinking parents—as well as one can think within confines of fear and conviction—didn’t see though this. Hmm? Just goes to show that the intellect pales when considered in the context the Mystery’s Universal Intelligence—Wisdom and Awareness—which is of course, the province of the feminine—whether accessed by women or men. Stay the course, There is a point…

So, what helped me sort myself out? you wonder: The short answer is women. I’m serious. The disenfranchised themselves—being their genuine selves doing what they were impelled to do changed me enough to reset my heading.

It all started really with my 3rd grade teacher. She had me stand in front of her desk after class while she told me off for beating up my older brother while in the queue for the busses. Looking at her across her desk I realized that she was pretty cool. She was ragging on me for something I had done rather than for who I was. This was a first!

The next bit was my 5th grade teacher: She touched my shoulder once while queuing the class for lunch and I sensed her respect for children in general, and in this moment, me. Hmm? I already liked her yet this was a lot to take in. She changed me.

Nattering on a little longer, there were also three particular women on my paper route. When I collected for their paper I interrupted them preparing a meal or eating it. Irrespective, each was consistently gracious, kind and fully present. They were not polite. Instead they were real and interacted genuinely. Patiently. One of them worked at the bank where I took my loot. She was nice there too.

While my first wife was generally more Yang than Yin, she was equal to circumstance seemingly always: academically; and in her fluency with several languages; in her musicianship and as a school teacher, headmistress and university instructor. There simply were no longer grounds for me to stay the course of the less-than party line.

Oops. This actually began when I was nine when my older brothers and I got a sister. I was ecstatic when she arrived. She and I were and remain closely connected. Never understood this until the last few years when I realized that I was head-over-heels in love with the Feminine. No, I don’t know all of what this means. Nonetheless, it is the case.

What I’m leading to is bigger than the individual women mentioned. Bigger than all of us. It’s about letting go. It is about lifting the boot from female throats. It’s about ending the folly of women being less than. It is this: Our releasing girls and women from the place they’ve been relegated becomes the fulcrum providing the precise leverage to free ourselves individually, and what we regard as the world-out-there, from the humanity’s most insidious and pernicious juggernaut—which is imperiling us all. That’s a mouthful.

Intellectually indefensible? Yes!

Fact! nonetheless.

I do not offer this at the expense of men but rather advisory: Without each of us, women and men, lifting the boot of patriarchy, men cannot remove it from themselves… nor free humanity from its encumbrance…the one impeding decency.

P.S. Look to the bodies of work of these authors:
Aimie K. Runyan for lauding unsung heroines
Sara Pascoe for educating us on decency and gender

This piece is for my sister…

Choosing: Making Decisions—and Un-Choosing

“Whatever you do in life will be insignificant but it’s very important that you do it.” —Mahatma Gandhi

There can be madness in our lives if we allow it. Now—today—locally and globally—there are myriad circumstances that don’t jibe well with our lives. Or so we are wont to assert, but this is for another time.

Nonetheless, we possess the capacity to become Aware and consequently choose to avoid, or un-choose madness should we find ourselves in its precincts. We no longer need be the children of Hamlin lured by the omnipresent Pied Piper.

I used to train personal growth workshops. One block of instruction was on resistance. It begin: “What you resist, you create, exaggerate or become.”

I had numerous experiential examples justifying the claim—and that our circumstance improves in our letting go of resistance. What I didn’t know at the time was the phenomenology of Attention nor its incomprehensibly impactful role in our lives.

I did not know that consciously—with Awareness—managing the placement of our Attention is one of the differences that profoundly makes The difference in the quality of our lives—in our direct sensory and psychological experience—in expressing ourselves creatively and not.

The Pied Piper of today is of course social media and the news and the television and the internet and the entertainment industry and advertising and our politicos in service to their gods—and all our myriad personal and cultural crisis and disasters—small and large—whatever their cause.

The Pied Piper of today also consists of the energetic vestiges of our Karma/karma, and the Fates; and in our ancestral, familial and personal experiences—those that hadn’t gone so well. Our past and current wounds are present with us most generally in our subtle sensations of feeling heavy or unnecessarily pressured, or our fatigue or our feeling a bit unwell with seemingly no easily traceable cause—the sensations that we’ve become inured to—habituated to—lollygagging at the threshold of our awareness.

Everything that captures and holds our Attention without our Aware, well-reasoned conscious consent—or our well-honed Awareness of the non-ordinary realities, or our long tested intuitive knowing—is an invitation to an entrapping madness. Want to know more? Curious what directing our Attention has to do with choosing and un-choosing?

What do the following questions evoke?

1) Ever wonder whether you’re making the best decision? The “right” one?
2) Ever uncertain what to do now? Or next?
3) Ever allow your emotions to influence your decision taking?
4) Ever put decisions off?
5) Ever aware of of options yet unable to choose, decide and execute one?
6) Ever want or need to know the “how-to” models of choosing, un-choosing and
7) Ever wish you had a Whisperer or psychic to access what lies beyond your current
understanding and knowledge?
8) Ever want genuine insight? Authentic real-time Wisdom?
9) How have you unwitting chosen madness? (If you have.)
10) How did you continue doing it?
11) How do you un-choose madness?
12) How do you choose a resourceful equanimity instead?
13) How do you choose to more frequently engender a relaxed-in-your-body-for-no-
reason presence? and a fitting energetic/mental/emotional state?
14) How do you genuinely be yourself?
15) How do you discipline yourself to do the things you want and need to do?
16) How do you choose to love completely? And, what does this mean?

More in upcoming posts.

Three Ethics to Change the World

1) Do no unnecessary harm.
2) Do not presume.
3) Do not compare experience.

The world doesn’t need changing. We do. Read on and live the three ethics and be changed.

Do no unnecessary harm
We can’t live without harming someone or something. Though we can completely avoid doing unnecessary harm. This requires that we are intelligent and compassionately Aware in our state of being, that we embody our power while being gracious in the face of another’s. One requisite for this is being centered and grounded in our body—in the moment—here and now.

We need to be connected with and informed by the non-ordinary forces of the Mystery which guide our choosing and our decision taking—rather than making choices from our emotions and understandings. (The “how” of doing these things is another conversation.)

Do not presume
Nearly all or our difficulties are brought on by ourselves—save for being caught and injured in natural disasters, political or environmental calamities for example. Thinking we know is problematic: thinking we know more, or better, or what’s up when we are actually caught up in the folly of the fables we’ve told ourselves. This is the status quo for most of us. Everything we think we know is story—made up or adopted. Over the years my teacher, Paul Richards, passed these ethics to others and myself—without saying more than identifying them. Me passing them to you is an example of presuming—thinking I know.

Ethics are a model to guide us. The wonderful thing about a model is that we have a model. The problem with a model is that we have a model (limiting our creativity).

Do not compare experience
She’s doing better than me. I’m envious of so and so. I wish I had his job. She’s prettier. He is respected more than me. So and so has been published. I haven’t. I’m the better parent. At least I’m not a drunk. My life isn’t as difficult as his.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

• Psychological experience
Psychologists say “experience is what we do with what happens to us”. They’re correct if we limit the use of the word to mean psychological experience—thoughts and understanding—which is, by the way, a consequence of transforming direct sensory and extra-sensory experience into language and thought.

“I think I know what a strawberry tastes like…” — Jody Richard

But there is more!

• Direct sensory experience

“…until I’m tasting the one exploding in my mouth.” — Jody Rickard

We are sentient: We see, hear, feel, taste and smell things directly—before and without involving thought.

Again, there is more!

• Direct non-ordinary experience
We possess, distinct from our five senses, an array of perceptual faculties through which we experience the non-ordinary realities suffusing our lives. Generally girls and women are best at this, particularly when they keep them active—something patriarchy eschews. Too, there are sensitive boys and men in the world who perceive the non-ordinary.

“I awoke knowing I’d been selected for the promotion.”
“Out of the blue I knew something tragic had happened to so and so.”
“I saw her across the campus quadrangle for the first time and knew we would marry.”
“The phone rang and I knew it was her.”
“Suddenly I knew what I had to do…”
“The solution came to me in the shower.”

There are forces of the Mystery awaiting our detection… awaiting our collaboration… awaiting our co-creation.

Comparing experience is a thought-based-psychological undertaking. It’s predicated on values and beliefs which are themselves constructions of our own, or another’s. They are not real. In the right context they are useful. Others, not so much as they destabilize ourselves and others, impede intimacy, our connection to our creativity, to the Mystery.

1) Do no unnecessary harm.
2) Do not presume.
3) Do not compare experience.

The world doesn’t need changing. We do. Live the three ethics and be changed.

Self First, Unselfishly: A Study in Grace

Tree of Life — Gustav Klimt


“Poems are rough notations for the music we are.” — Rumi (Coleman Barks translation)


Rumi’s acumen in perceiving people as music is not such a stretch given that science describes reality


in terms of frequencies—waves of matt

er, sound, light, electromagnetism and so on. So our suspicions of not being who or what we’ve thought ourselves to be may be spot on. No wonder when left to their own devices children dance—do they still hear and feel their music?

Rumi also said there is an Awareness present in everyone that existed before the Universe itself existed; and it, and ourselves, came out of that Awareness. Not the other way round. Hmm? What if this Awareness is but a single notation? and what if this single notation is an original score? and what if this original score is a love song? and what if this love song—when audible and palpable in our lives counterbalances the juggernaut of disharmony in our world?

Musing further, I love the French concept of étude. It means a study in an instrumental musical composition, which is usually short, of considerable difficulty, and the étude is designed to provide practice material for perfecting a particular musical skill. Are we not composing our lives? Do we not by late mid-life appreciate life’s short duration? Do we not experience considerable difficulty in effecting our desires to help others? to be genuine in ourselves? and in our expression and movement?

So what specifically is our study?—our étude? What is the particular skill we’re here to perfect? It is to live in ways in which our thought and action reveal the luminosity and numinous beauty of the single notation of the extant Awareness within us? This Awareness, the one Rumi reminds us of—the one seemingly oblivious to us—the one that is The original score, it is—I contend, a love song.

Isn’t it odd though that such a love song—our love song—the what and who that we essentially are—is largely obscured and drowned out by our upbringing and the cacophonies of our time? I submit to you that it need not.

Let the beauty of the love song that we are move and resound and refract through the instrumentality of our thought and action. What practice need we undertake to develop this skill? Placing the self first in our lives and do so unselfishly. Honoring the integrity and dignity of the original score and the love song that we are. Doing this by placing ourselves at the front of queue. The top of the list. Making ourselves and meeting our needs priority one without entitlement or arrogance. Without injuring or shorting others. Without cruelty or diminishment.

What blasphemy am I suggesting? Is your psyche rebelling? If so, consider the resistance a measure of the mettle of our indoctrination, the rigor and strength of pressures to conform and domesticate and diminish ourselves—even though doing so occurs at our expense.

Placing ourselves first in our life is The prerequisite to fulfilling the promises of our life. It is:
1) Recognizing the imperative to graciously live interdependently in cooperative and creative collaboration.
2) Loving, valuing, supporting and making place for the feminine and her voice, standing, methods and motion.
3) To genuinely be ourselves living in our own way—which means:
a) actually and genuinely helping others while caring for ourselves equivalently;
b) opening to and participating in the Mystery Herself, the realities suffusing us all—not through belief or contemplation—but rather, through movement in Her realms, and being changed by these experiences; and by
c) making our lives themselves—and our unique creative expression—impeccable works of art.

We will not and cannot fulfill the promise of our lives without placing ourselves first! We will not be first among equals. Remember: No one is equal to another. There are always those more powerful and those less. We can, however, be equally gracious in our differences. We can live and work interdependently. And cooperatively. And collaboratively. But can only do so by placing ourselves first in our lives and doing so unselfishly. Putting oneself first is The Study in Grace—Our étude.

Look around: independent selfish agency and agenda prevail in the world. It is increasing at an increasing rate.

Bringing our love song to the fore can counterbalance the selfishness that is imperiling us all. The more of us doing so, the sooner the tipping point. The sooner global change. Whether we do this timely enough I don’t know. It’s worth doing so nonetheless.

Lastly, remember please that the now canonized never-take-no-for-an-answer Mother Teresa did everything she did for herself. She knew the power of placing herself first. She knew the benefits to self and others of doing so.

Happy New Year!

Grace Report

Mahatma Gandhi: “Whatever you do in life will be insignificant but it’s very important that you do it.”

A year ago this month my elderly father took his life ostensibly without letting others know what’s up. Yet, the morning my brother told me, I realized that my dad had been telling me as much for the last two months during our frequent phone calls. He told me not in words of course, but in the spaces in between. In his non-ordinary messages—those things communicated without words or para-verbals or physical analogue. He told me in energy. Women know about such communications more often than men. Nonetheless he’d been telling me and I remained oblivious.

He’d taken as much as he could stand. His death, and its cause, prompted (as soon as I hung up the phone) an immediate and involuntary response where my body dropped to the couch in loud explosive paroxysms of sobbing that were all too brief. Regrettably, my expression was interrupted and I couldn’t recapture it for six months. In the interim, my body expressed its sadness and grief and anger with four months of bronchitis. What needs moving finds its way irrespective.

The thing is, when grief rises, it all comes. All of them. The ones I’d long forgotten, and the existential ones—those I didn’t know I had. Along with these were angers and rages issuing from early childhood development breaches and ouches lying unexpressed beneath the compost of familial and cultural mores and other restrictions on my nature. This year I had the good fortune of having a good guide and workable maps to navigate the terrain of moving my emotions. To say the year has been difficult is an understatement. Though I talked about my dad with one of my brothers, and my sister and mom a day or two before the anniversary of Dad’s death, the anniversary itself passed unnoticed. I’m not yet through my many griefs and angers but this year, for the first time it seems, the gift my dad gave me in his death has enabled me to get to the bottom of things I’ve wanted to remedy for a long time. He hadn’t seen or met me in his life. He never knew me. He saw instead what he projected. A pandemic circumstance I think. One worthy of our healing efforts.

I was prompted by a dream in July to go to the Alvord Desert in Eastern Oregon. I went there by myself for four days in August. People who know me know that I’ve a mystical thing going on and have non-ordinary experiences, and use non-ordinary forces in my work. Suffice it to say that in the desert I had a significant intellectually indefensible experience culminating in an integration and a reorganization of whatever I am, for which I am wholly grateful. I’ve been utterly changed, and so too has my work.

Before leaving to work in Taiwan this fall I felt I needed to go to Kaohsiung in the south of the country, a port-of-call during the Vietnam War. Though the city’s skyline was unrecognizable, the mountain scape was. Attempting to put words to my experience this time round seems something I’m incapable of doing: all I think I know is that something moved and began finding its way back to me. Equally unexpected, the next day I had lunch with a Vietnamese woman and we talked of the war. I had no awareness that I had felt so betrayed in my involvement in that “Police action” as history euphemistically regards it. My dad had been in WW11. My grandfather in WW1. Something moved for each of us this autumn and I am grateful for the changes.

As to the healing power of illness, well, my wife’s recent foray into chemo infusions remains quite a teacher. Lesson one: don’t carry what is not mine. Two: stay centered and grounded here and now. Three: sensibly manage where I put my focus and attention. Four: Keep love in the foreground.

What sheltering Grace this life gives us. What Grace!

Patriarchy: I Wonder…

Patriarchy: I Wonder

“Whether all is really lost or not depends entirely on whether or not I am lost.”  — Vaclav Havel

I wonder:
Is the USA’s president hell-bent on acting out racist, sexist, homophobic, misogynistic, elitist and supremacy beliefs?
Is there an intent and design to his pattern of derision, divisiveness and exclusionary rhetoric?
Do we possess the means to deflect the echo of his skillful usage of disinformation?
Do his actions epitomize the worst aspects of patriarchy? of humanity?
Are his actions the problem or symptomatic of those things each of us have yet to reconcile within ourselves?

The tyranny of patriarchy is the long standing distinctive patten of humanity. Patriarchy is our dominant social operating system. Racism, sexism, homophobia, elitism, derision, divisiveness, exclusion and supremacy are—regrettably—humanity’s signature. Its dominant articulation and expression.

I wonder:
Are not the tenets of patriarchy our own un- and witting individual expressions? Mine? Yours?
Do we flinch at this thought—yet pretend it is not?
Is our pretense an obstacle? One perpetuating our denial?
Does our pretending continue our individual indecency? …that of others?
Does pretending prevent us from opening to and developing our capacities to Love?

I wonder:​
Do we not conform to patterns of we and they—us and them?
Are we each not patriarchy’s signatories?
Do we not speak of patriarchy when referring to those out there to distance ourselves from our own equivalent actions?
Do we really think the monsters are only out there?

Humanity has long traversed a course antithetical to Love. Is it so that no one advances spiritually until the whole advances?

I wonder:
Since we as individuals each live out The Hero’s Journey—the story where we must survive or die from a significant ordeal—be utterly tested and changed by it—must we, collectively, do the same?
Are we?
Has the USA now entered this ordeal?
What will be the impact on our world?

Though our ancestors reside in other precincts, were they to tell us things—they’d commend that we Choose Love in our lifetime. They’d acknowledge that they themselves had not. They’d acknowledge their witting and unwitting complicity in the plight of humanity. They’d say that were we to act with graciousness, generosity, kindness and compassion—were we to act inclusively without capitulation—particularly with those whose thinking opposes our own—we would experience more ease and beauty and joy—irrespective of the degree of our difficulty in our lives. They’d say humanity’s distinctive pattern would shift away from patriarchy—from our unloving routines. This is Choosing Love, they’d say.

I wonder:
Though unaware, do we not each deny our capacities to Choose Love?
Do we realize that our failing to Choose Love has rendered us lost?
Though unaware, do we each refuse Love?
Do we not say “No” to Life? to Love daily? Albeit unawares…

I wonder:
Do epochs of thought and action cycle in and out of favor?
Have we not transitioned into a different one now?
What type of epoch will we make it?

My next post will address pushback: resistance and counterbalancing forces, and other such imperatives.

Good Girls Revolt: Dignity Trumps Patriarchy 

                                                                                                               Photo credit Monika Nataraj

I just watched Good Girls Revolt, a fictionalized TV account of the discriminatory practices that prompted women employees to sue Newsweek in 1970. Women were denied opportunities to write, or if they wrote a piece for the man they provided research for, the women did not get the byline. They were paid one-third the salaries of men while being expected to enthusiastically and submissively support the functions held by men—whether they themselves were more highly educated or capable. The series revealed the many ways in which women were—and remain—treated less well well than men.

On March 22, 1972, the US Senate passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution banning discrimination based on sex. The States had seven years to ratify. Subsequently they were given a three-year extension. The Amendment was never ratified leaving half of us bereft of anti-discriminatory constitutional support. How ironic that constitutionally unprotected US women soldiers now serve in combat.

Nation states have their own security as their primary objective—not that of their population. State security is paramount as their charge is the interests of a particular minority—nothing more. States must remain capable to that end. As with traversing any course, there are degrees of deviation en route an objective. The 1960s and early 70s were a period of deviation—expanding benefits for the population. We exhaled a bit.

Since then though, The particular minority has been gradually taking back what they gave—and more—leaving many of us to hold our breath. A cycle of still tighter contraction is returning. Although an over simplification, high pressure always flows into low pressure. We live in a force/countervailing force Cosmos.

Irrespective of the degree of insolent or violent thought and action perpetrated on women—regardless of what’s being denied them—despite prevailing circumstances of oblique and undisguised systemic cavalier, dismissive and reckless disregard for girls and women—and the Feminine—the dignity, innocence and beauty of girls and women can never be sullied, impeached, abridged or expunged. I see this being true for boys and men too. I won’t go there now as we’re not at that point in our conversation.

Human decency—love and compassion, graciousness and generosity, kindness and respect, dignity, innocence and beauty—and the granting of standing, voice, and power to women—are not the province of the state, religion, politics or the law. This purview is ours alone! This responsibility is our individual sovereign duty! Quoting the comedian Amy Schumer “You will not define my story. I will!”

No one is a victim here. Patriarchy is equally dangerous to men albeit less obvious. Patriarchy has crippled humanity, retarded our growth, and is killing off possibilities to sustain life on our planet. By each of us having internalized patriarchal ethics we’ve created unnecessary divisions within ourselves, and between one another. Whether aware or not, we each are conflicted inside as societal ethics collide with our deeper Wisdom. It is within our capacities to wholly transform ourselves and change—for our betterment—from the seemingly perilous circumstances of our times—the larger system’s actions notwithstanding.

It’s not about “them” out there! Nor about what “they” are doing! It’s about us—ourselves. It’s about our own self-reckoning. Our accountability to our own sovereignty. It is our own responsibility to heal, grow, change and become the Beings and Forces that we genuinely are. Not to be at odds with “them”. But rather, to leave behind the invectives of others. To define our own stories. To celebrate and support our self-confidence and that of those around us. To identify and develop the capacities to give what we are here to give—then to give them. Not only for ourselves, but for those generations in the future.

Paraphrasing a master teacher of mine …a woman would be better off alone and starving in the desert than to remain in abusive circumstances… He is referring to the damage done primarily to the soul of a woman—the energetic aspects of her, distinct and beyond her psychologically, physically. This is equally true for men.

​I know and feel the heartbreak with every woman I coach. I see consequences of patriarchy in the men I work with too. I see its adverse effects in my mother, sister and the women I know or meet. And, I know this most intimately in my wife who survived my processes of awakening and maturation.

Here is a verse from William Stafford’s “A Ritual to Read to Each Other” //For it is important that awake people be awake/or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep/ the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe—/should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

Protecting your Radiance

“Who are the people, ideas, and books that magnify your spirit? Find them, hold on to them, and visit them often. Use them not only as a remedy once spiritual malaise has already infected your vitality but as a vaccine administered while you are healthy to protect your radiance.”
– Maria Popova —

Maria’s words “…protecting your radiance” means standing strong in your pursuit of answering the two most fundamental questions of our lives:
• Who am I really?
• What do I have to give the world?

These two questions lead us toward our promise: The promise of genuinely being ourselves; and the promise of utterly and completely expressing ourselves—in our existence, and in the giving of our unique talent—that, by its very nature—benefits self, others and the whole. Our desire to help, to contribute, is hardwired.

Caveat emptor! Pursuing these questions adds levels of complexity to our lives. Our cultures support and expect conformity not individuality. Our cultures shunt our energies to others’ ends and not to our uniqueness nor its attendant and awaiting expression. Whether seeking, finding and expressing our gifts, or in living lives of conformity, we encounter unpredictable pressure waves in our daily lives. Yet, I offer another spoiler alert: The alternative to pursuing our own life has costs too: we live lives fraught with the vicissitudes of confounding feelings of being unexpressed accompanied by an incessant and illusive sense of emptiness.

In the greater scheme of Life, one way of living is no better than another. Yet, each path renders consequences. One is a path of Wisdom. One is not. One is expansive. One contracts. Looking at our wold today through these lenses, we see the effects of the paths of the majority.

Being genuinely ourselves and expressing our unique talent fills us. Makes us more. We become whole. In this we are changed. In expressing the radiance of being ourselves expressing our gifts, others are changed. Yet too, we do not find ourselves nor give our gifts to change others. Rather, we become and express of out of the necessity of our soul. Anything less lends toward folly.

The word pentimento is, in part, a lovely word. It means a visible trace of earlier painting beneath a layer or layers of paint on a canvas. There are traces of earlier painting on the canvas of each of us. These traces are our ineffable Self. Our radiance. And, they are the paintings of our attendant and unique gift or talent–these brushstrokes issue from the Mystery’s palette. This is what we are to find with our questions of Who am I really? and What do I have to give the world?

Our pentimento is almost entirely concealed beneath the pigments of our ancestry, families of origin, and the cultural mores of our upbringing, education and training—the forces of our conformity. Culture renders our lives less vivid and less vital. Culture moves us away from ourselves and our great gifts. This is paradoxically necessary while simultaneously perilous. It is from this precarious layer we begin our search.

The not so lovely aspects of the word pentimento lie in its root: repentant. Little wonder so many of us apologize for who or how we are. Little wonder we often find it impractical to roll the rock of our becoming up the steep hills of our culture. Conforming seems easier.

Yet the Mystery orchestrates the placement of people and ideas and books on our path that, by virtue of their presence, rouse our awakening. Our remembering. They stir our self-discovery and becoming. Their visitations are vitally important. So too, there are people in our lives who see the loveliness of our pentimento when we ourselves have yet to find them. These people remind us apologies are devices of the culture and are ill-suited for us. They invite us to seek out who we are and our gift to give.

Yet, this discovery is, of necessity, our own undertaking. At times we require the assistance of others and we need ask for it. Help clearing impediments to our path. Too, they expand our awareness. Once we’ve sensed our gift, many of us must develop its expression through self-disciplinary arts that change us yet again in its process.

And you? Who are those people? those ideas? those books that rouse your radiance? Is it time to revisit them? Are you asking the fundamental questions of Who am I really? What am I here to give the world?

The Wild Rose

                                                                                                                                      Photo: Online

I’ve had a yellow rose bush in a terra cotta pot for maybe twenty-five years. I’ve dragged it from house to house. Two years ago I planted it near my front porch trimming it back severely. Last year its stems barely grew. I wondered whether the paltriness of its leaves could gather light or store sustaining sugars. I thought I killed it. Nonetheless, in the fall I cut it back but less harshly.

This spring it leafed out fully on long thorny stems—though thinner than those of its past. Returning home after work travel, it was awash with small deeply red roses. The bush had always borne yellow roses. The tiny red ones were gorgeous in a natural way—though quite unlike the corollas of its former domesticated self. I looked across the commons area into my neighbor’s yard: It was bursting with a plethora of large beautiful colorful roses—ones most of us have been taught to appreciate.

​I had killed my rose alright. Well, rather, I killed its domesticated yellow cultivated parts. Those bits long ago grafted onto a wild and natural red rose rootstock—in whose beauty I now reveled. The next morning my roses were gone. Deer got them, and they’ve dined on buds all summer. It’s late summer as I write this and autumn is in the air. As I look out my window, I see a wholly natural rose bearing long thorny stems and lots of leaves. Next year I’ll keep the deer away: I want this rose’s undomesticated beauty.

For years I stewarded my life as I had the rose being equally harsh with myself. I didn’t know this though, and am I’m only now getting it. Domestication is so opaque—so hard to see through.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve longed and worked assiduously to free my incarcerated self from the falsity and folly of domestication—though all the while being my own worst enemy. I’m changed and changing. I’m grateful. Something of wildness is flowering within.

Let’s toast to the growing and developing sufficiently to keep the ego in its proper place—that of serving our Essential rootstock.