Friday, June 30, 2006

Tea Time

I am taking liberties with the traditions of “tea time.” I am indulging myself in a tall mug (yes… I know, “How crass”) of Chai (a blend of black teas, , nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, clove, cardamom, rum, and gingerbread.) To which I have added a touch of honey, and a dollop of ‘Friend’ Courvoisier.

Here, on the threshold of a holiday weekend (4th of July [independence declaration 1776... For my Friends not acquainted with USA tradition]), I opted to set aside the work that I had intended for today (just too ‘bombastic’ for my present mood) and allow my feelings to take charge.

So, Dear Reader, I invite you to join me in a moment of quietude and simple bliss as we share a work by Robert Browning. Enjoy… please.

Summum Bonum
Robert Browning
(Born 7 May 1812; died 12 December 1889)

All the breath and the bloom of the year
in the bag of one bee:

All the wonder and wealth of the mine
in the heart of one gem:

In the core of one pearl all the shade
and the shine of the sea:

Breath and bloom, shade and shine,…
wealth, and… how far above them…

Truth, that’s brighter than the gem,
Trust, that’s purer than pearl,…

Brightest truth, purest trust in the universe…
all were for me…

In the kiss of one girl.

With my heart and care to you, Dear Reader, “Cheer”
Your constant Friend and Servant, John-Michael

Posted by PicasaIMAGES: Bee: Ian Britton,, Gem: Public Domain

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Presumptions and Potentialities

My marriage jumps to the fore in my consideration of major life presumptions. Now please bear with me here… I know that, in the light of today’s understandings, this is going to seem to be outrageously naïve and perhaps even a bit (dare I say) stupid. But I did truly believe that we all have the same inborn yearnings. It was my unspoken, never-discussed, somehow gut-level conviction that the feelings and desires that were mine were universally shared by all human beings. I was convinced that if I set the stage, created the atmosphere, permitted the dynamic to spontaneously happen… romance would erupt in my marriage. I was wrong.

I was not misinformed… I was uninformed. I had absolutely no information… no education… no hint of the dramatic differences between the four major groups of human beings (forget the more subtle variations between the sixteen subgroups.) I was ignorant of the existence of the absolute reality of different temperament types and personality profiles. And I am writing now in the awareness that most of those reading these words are becoming aware of those differences for the first time.

I believed that the restraint exercised by my betrothed prior to marriage was an expression of her religious convictions. Again, I was wrong… as was graphically demonstrated on our wedding night. For her, the time of courtship was over and the business at hand was the commencement of the building of all of the accouterment of a family and a home. That time of playful teasing and romantic overture had served its purpose and there was the more serious business of the next level of adult behavior… that of ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ were to commence. You see, Dear Friend, my bride knew and was completely comfortable with who she was.

And that person, for her, is what Aristotle identified as the ‘proprietari’ or one whose focus is on the procurement and protection of the ‘things’ (or properties) of life. This is the natural and appropriate function-set for those known to Kinsey as the ‘Guardians.’ I, on the other hand, was clueless as to my own identity. I had spent the first twenty-two years of life in the accommodation of the ‘audience’ around me… tailoring myself to meet the needs, expectations, desires, and tastes of whomever had, at that moment, my focus. Hence, as what I later learned was part and parcel of my Idealist temperament, I was constantly involved in ‘healing’ that individual’s self-need of the moment.

Thus, I never gave any consideration to what was at the core of me. I really thought that what I felt… everybody felt. What I desired… was the desire of all. I interpreted the wedding night as a happening that I had failed to set the tone, or the environment for. I was, therefore, entering the (allow the metaphor) fires of marriage completely unaware of the fact that my bride wished for the comfort of the structure of ‘Marriage’… yearned for the belonging associated with the organization of ‘Family’… and was an individual for whom the intimacy that I craved was intrusive, uncomfortable, and innately unpleasant. While I, to the opposite extreme, cared nothing for organization nor structure while harboring the fantasy that marriage would remove all impediments to a life as lovers and intimates in all of life’s considerations.

Oh yes… the wedding night was a stark revelation! But I had no way to interpret those presented realities. I had only my absurdly ignorant presumptions to operate by. Hence, I set about making dramatic gestures and outlandishly gallant demonstrations that I presumed would create the environment necessary to allow my wife to be comfortable with expressing those yearnings that I falsely believed we shared (again, laboring under the presumption that we all share the same desires in life.) I chased that false belief for many frustrating (for both of us) years.

When a friend told me of the intimacy and joy shared with her spouse while riding their motorcycle together… I bought a motorcycle (which my wife wisely (given the safety considerations inherent to cycle riding) refused to ever so much as touch [even though I had purchased matching helmets for us… who could possibly pass up an opportunity to wear helmets that match the bike?].) When another friend told me of the intimacy and romance enjoyed with her husband while camping in the wilderness… I bought the largest (which I surmised would be the most accommodating and comfortable) canoe manufactured by the Grumman company. I outfitted it with teak floor runners (to keep our feet dry), cushioned seats (for obvious reasons), indeed… every accessory available for such a craft to insure that we would have the optimum ‘togetherness experience.’ When my wife asked where the restroom facilities were to be found while in the ‘wilderness’ I knew that this too was doomed. These forays into ‘environment creating’ exercises included home décor, furnishings, landscaping, clothing, career and on and on until rejection became my interpreted conclusion. I was simply not the person with whom she could ever join in that transcendental relationship of ecstatic bliss that I continued to believe was the desire of everyone. And I labored under the mantle of belief that this less-than satisfying reality was entirely a product of my failing.

All of these areas of focus were approached with the sub-surface hope that the creating the ideal setting would translate into acceptance expressed in romance. I presumed that the responsibility for romance in our relationship rested entirely on my creation of a suitable, acceptable, and nurturing environment for romance. Hopeless assignation and despair followed those fruitless efforts. All of which could have been averted if only I had been aware of that one tiny fact… we are all created to be different. And that can be a very good thing when understood, embraced, and enjoyed.

Now… let me take a moment here to make quite clear the fact that I am entirely mindful of the discomfort created by the discussion of such painfully personal matters. Do not interpret my candor as some reckless exercise of insensitive callousness. Quite the contrary! Yet, I press on in response to the overriding consideration of the suffering that is now, or can be later yours. You see, my Dear Friend, there is no cost too great for me to take responsibility for in the mission to provide you with an expanded scope of understanding and/or awareness of potentialities. I would have you to know that, upon entering a potentially all-fulfilling and, simultaneously, possibly excruciating relationship, you will have more areas to consider than the best-intentioned friend or family member will be at ease discussing with you. I am making some of what I have learned (which is but a small bit, at best) available for your edification. Before you proceed into that place of testing I want you to be equipped with a little more than would have been yours without my added gift to you. I am still driven by that compulsion to insure against the future possibility of an “I wish that I had…” of cowardly neglect, should I fail to speak.

[This work is an excerpt from a book in progress... your comments are welcome]

Posted by PicasaIMAGES through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton,

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

"Let's Get Together"

“Let’s get together,” you usually say (the “you” used here is a general and plural form including several who are encompassed in the radius of the sphere of my affection.)

“I would enjoy that” is my customary response which is, most often, countered, by you, with a “Give me a call sometime and we’ll arrange it.” We then disconnect our telephone link with the unspoken understanding that I did "give you a call"… just now… and your plate of life’s demands and elections is too full to allow you to "arrange it" now, or initiate a call to me in the future.

This is quite OK. I am, after all, the one intruding into your activity agenda in response to my spontaneous “inner voice" and I live in the knowledge that Life’s purpose was satisfied by my willingness to reach out. This is my personal calling… my ministry… my purpose… my satisfaction and joy… my role in our relationship… this reaching out. And the reaching out is something that I can do to reassure us both that our friendship is alive and well.

I know that the moment just shared by us was a gift to us both and I enjoyed the gift. The love that we share makes it so.

So, Dear Friend, ‘til next time, “Adieu”
John-Michael/19 January 2002

Posted by Picasa IMAGE: Andrew Barr, BBC

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Your Most valuable Asset

You are doing far too much. You are involved in too many things. Your “plate” of responsibilities is absurdly overfilled. You are asking too many questions, of too many diverse sources. You are “spreading yourself too thinly.” And none of this is any surprise to you. You have, in fact, worn these truths as a badge of some kind of twisted honor. And, to add insult to injury, our world applauds and salutes your indiscretion. You are doing a lousy job in your Personal Resource Investment Plan… and the world is cheering you on toward spiritual and emotional bankruptcy. Stop it! Get a grip on your life. Become a miser with yourself… for, my very exhausted and frazzled Reader… Yourself is the asset that you will hold yourself (at some point, or points of reckoning) accountable for.

There is, in that world of finances and money matters that formed my universe for far too many years, a guiding principle that is universally known and foundational in its import to the concept of financial accountability. It is the “Prudent Man Rule.” And it goes like this:

prudent man rule
n. the requirement that a trustee, … must only invest [assets] entrusted to him/her as would a person of prudence, i.e. with discretion, care and intelligence.

It is my contention that there is no asset (for which you and I are to be held accountable) more fundamental than that of our Self. That is, our energies… our passions… our affections… our physical, spiritual, psychological, and mental resources of every type and description. And we are (forgive the vernacular… but it delivers the power of statement better than any other) “pissing ourselves away!”

That is right! We are casting elements of ourselves away to every supposed immediate priority that clamors for some of “us” with every meeting of our neighborhood council, charity drive, career enhancement seminar, church “study” program, sport activity, recreational offering, professional standards update, (need I go on… I could, you know.) And our peace of mind and spirit is nowhere to be known. There is NEVER any sense of lasting satisfaction or accomplishment. You have diluted yourself through “multitasking” (Oh how I do detest that evil concept that presupposes that no one thing [or person] is worthy of focus!) to an ineffectual and indefinable substance that is so lacking in individuality that you never “Know Thyself.” For thy Self is a watered down, dispersed, and indefinable substance-less form that is totally lacking in Being.

I invite you… right now… in this isolated moment of your reading of these words from the heart of One who cries for you (because you have neither time nor energy to cry for yourself)… please stop. Look at what your irresponsible scattering of your energies is costing the long-term value of that “portfolio” that is the worth of You. Look at how you are embezzling resources from the relationships that are losing value by the unavailability of some of You to be invested in them. Why? Again why would you spend ANY of You on some “reality” TV show that captures your emotions and leaves you spent… with nothing to show for your investment. Why are you following that tragic (legitimately tragic, mind you) news event that breaks your heart, angers and frustrates you, drains away large chunks of the core emotions of You… and leaves you unable to respond to the very near needs of a relationship that would return dividends of lasting value?

For, My Very Dear Reader, (now brace yourself for a shock) you are not immortal… you are not infinite… your resources and assets are, most definitely, limited. And I am calling you to an accounting of your application of the Prudent Man Rule in the one business that you are eternally responsible for… You. Please stop “nickel and diming” yourself away on fleeting and unsound exercises in waste. Value You. Look into your mirror (I mean it… physically do it) and look into the eyes of the one sole person who controls the “purse strings” of all that is the marvelously and wondrously created You. And begin, one “No!” at a time to deny all those who (for very ’noble’ and ’worthy’ causes) would diminish what you would most prudently invest in what is of lasting and permanent value to you and those who have partnered in this business of life with you.

This is the “prudent’ thing to do. This is being strong and purposeful in a world that knows no purpose beyond the moment’s allure. This is securing, for yourself, a legacy of infinite “returns” on your investment of that “limited edition” treasure… You.

Posted by Picasa IMAGES:(Top to bottom):Ian Britton,, Public Domain, and Getty Image

Friday, June 23, 2006

Real To The Puppy

The only Billy Graham column that I recall ever reading had a heading that captured my eye. If I recall correctly, it read “Puppy Love.” In his column, Dr. Graham responded to a mother's exhortation to “Please set my son straight and tell him in your column that he is too young to know ‘real love’. I have tried to explain that his ‘puppy love’ is not real," she explained further "but he will not listen to me. I know that he will listen to you.” Billy Graham’s response etched itself into my consciousness and altered my perspective on the legitimacy of the viewpoint of others forever. He simply said “It is real to the puppy.”

Thank you Dr. Graham!

I hit my thumb with a hammer yesterday… and do you know, it did not even occur to me to say “There are people in this world with far worse problems.” Oh no! What I said was “… “ well never mind what I actually said… that is more than you need know. But, My Dear Reader, I think that you begin to see where we are going here. That throbbing thumb did not get recognized with the cool detachment of some applied table of relative sufferings. It consumed all of my attention for not only that instant, but each time that I bumped it against something for the balance of the day. It was very real to this puppy!

And so it is with all of us. We apply every fiber of ourselves in whatever is served on our “plate of circumstances.” We do not adjust our response to some budget of presupposed priorities. When that circumstance is served up by Life to us… it gets all of our undivided attention. It is our responsibility, and we rise to meet whatever it requires.

Then along comes the parade of “supporters”, the well-wishers, those who deign themselves to be our care-inflictors. And they come with their endless variety of platitudes. “Well Dear, you know, don’t you, that it could be worse.” “I see, Dear, but, you know… I knew someone who had a far worse circumstance.” “Oh my, that is not nearly as serious a problem as ___” (and they begin to fill that blank in with stuff that amazes you in its voluminous quantities.) What about (I ask) a simple, brief, and sincere “I am so sorry.” How about a tiny bit of empathy! Hey folks… this is real to this puppy!

So today, Dear Friend, I ask not how your pain compares to the pain of others. I ask “Do you have pain?” And if you do… “I am so sorry.” For I would not that your life be aggravated, harassed, or vexed by pain, discomfort, or inconvenience of any sort or variety. My sixty years has blessed me with many and varied pains, confusions, unhappinesses, and miseries. I know how lonely suffering is. And I would lessen and even eliminate all or part of what you are now hosting were it in my power. What is, most certainly, in my power is my capacity and willingness to love and care about you. So, Dear One, please permit my spirit to reassure you that you are, most certainly, not alone right now… in this moment of your reading… you are thought of. Though I know not your name… The One who does know you knows the legitimacy of my care for you. And together… one moment at a time… we are in union to lighten the burden of your spirit’s load. This Puppy loves you.

Posted by Picasa IMAGES:

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Our Memory Treasury

Fat Jacque’s “Cajun Café”

Having returned to my sanctuary of silence,
I seek the renewed nurturing of the womb…
Encompassing me with security, warmth and safety…
And free from all of the threats, dangers, and fears outside.

Such is my weekly visit to my special place.
The surroundings caress me with natural peacefulness.
The staff are genial in a genuine and caring way.
The music playing seems tuned to my soul.
And my favorite spot is there… awaiting me.

Blessed respite from life… needed ‘time out’ called mid-game…
Fat Jacque’s… I’m back!

JohnMichael/19 October 1989

Unfortunately, this sacred hideaway is no longer in business. But I saved this reflection for the single purpose of retreat. I, occasionally, allow myself an immersion in the sensations enjoyed there through reading this. That is the wonder and miracle of memories.

I hope that I have “triggered” some favorite memory of yours with the sharing of mine. If so, you and I are sharing in an intimate “spirit moment” right now. Perhaps we can ease ourselves out into our respective worlds… and create a new deposit for our memory treasury. I will tell you mine if you will tell me yours.

Posted by Picasa IMAGE: Peter Hilton, Hilton Harbour,

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

When Talking To Yourself... Again

I have, For a very long time, engaged myself in a personal quest to expand my abilities to talk to myself. We all do it, you know (some more enthusiastically than others.) We commonly call it “Thinking.” That is right! Thinking is nothing more than our mind “talking to itself.” Hence, it has occurred to me that my abilities to think are either helped or hindered by the tools, with which I equip myself, for this exercise called thinking. For, don’t you see, our ability to think is limited by only three phenomena. They would be (1) Natural ability, (2) Input, and (3) Language with which to process the input through the natural mechanism.

Now, it is fairly obvious that I can do little to affect my natural mental abilities (other than to enhance through exercise or degrade through atrophy.) But I can darn sure exercise willful control over the input into the mechanism that I know as my mind. And, I can, further, equip that mechanism with more and better “tools” with which to do the processing by my continuous expansion and improvement of my working vocabulary. And I can, even further, have a direct effect on the world that is touched by me by enhancing its environment. This I do through the presentation of expanded concepts and perspectives… while equipping those lives with new vocabulary with which to engage their own thinking processes.

I, therefore, expose you, My Dear Reader, to what I hope are healthy and uplifting viewpoints on meaningful topics that are rarely presented by the world that surrounds us. And, in those presentations, I intentionally employ the vocabulary that I have adopted for my own mind and heart for an elevated inner discourse of the spirit. I may not be able to reach into the far corners of this troubled world, nor, even into the corners of the troubled mind of my next-door neighbor. But I most certainly can (and make every effort to) enhance the working environment of your mind while providing a vocabulary of love, caring, honor, embracing, and respect with which you can be kinder to yourself and all those touched by you.

It is, therefore, with my genuine love, respect, and care for you and that special world that Life has entrusted to your influence, that I bid you “Happy Talking To Yourself.” I say “Let’s surround ourselves with beautiful , majestic, artful, sensitive, engaged, and inspiring 'input'." Then let’s (together… for we are, indeed, in this together!) start using those words of power… "Love" (believe me please, it does become easier [and even enjoyable] with practice)… "Enjoy" (in place of ‘need to’ or ‘must’, or ‘should’… saying ‘I would enjoy___‘.) For it is this active engagement of your conscious awareness… in a willfully pro-active effort… an effort to make your inner and exterior world a better place in which to celebrate life… that you will generate a happier time of life for you and all touched by you.

"Man is made or unmade by [ his will ]. In the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself. He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace."
William James

Remember…Everything begins with a thought. We have the ultimate control over all that begins, with the way that we think… the quality of our “self talk.“ We have the power to create a better ‘everything’ in our personal world with the simple management of our thinking. I pledge to you, my personal best efforts in uplifting you with my topics of discussion coupled with the language that I use in my presentations. For it has been my living desire to make my world a better place ever since my history teacher (Mr. Tony Jonaitis) told our class in 1962 “If in the short time that you are on this earth, you do not leave it a better place for your having been here… you will have wasted your time.”

We can do this… one moment at a time… one thought at a time… just you wait… just you watch… you will see. And what better purpose could any of us pursue?

Posted by Picasa IMAGES: Neil Jones, Guy Thomas, Peter Meade, BBC

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

24 Karat Me

What I am in Eternity is ME.

No title, no role, no part in any process, just simply ME.

And the more that I become the unmitigated, unadulterated, 24 Karat ME, the more comfortable I am in my relationship with all that is Eternal.

With my hope that I have reminded you of the value and worth of that precious commodity that is YOU, I remain, Your Friend and Servant,
06 November 2003

Posted by Picasa IMAGE: public source

Monday, June 19, 2006

Our "Better Angels"

I cannot watch the news broadcasts on television... nor listen to radio presentations of the world's "news"... nor, even, watch and listen to interviews of world leaders, for more than a short while, before becoming overwhelmed by the mean-spirited, unkind, ungracious, and disrespectful attitudes that make for the theme of all that is swirling about all of us at this very moment. I must say... to you, Dear Reader (for you and I share with each other this moment in time and space as I write to you and you read with me)... please STOP! Stop listening to all of the accumulated din of the noise of nastiness. Stop the cacophony of madness that seems to propel itself through our awareness. And listen... Listen to a voice from our not too distant past. The voice of a man of note who bore the burden of care for a fledgeling nation torn by strife and anger. The voice of an unlikely figure who took upon himself the mantle of responsibility for the nurturing and guardianship of a people who were not capable of even knowing how much in need of care and nurturing they were.

Stop... and listen to Abraham Lincoln as he addressed his nation on the event of his first inauguration into office as President of The United States of America on Monday, 04 March 1861... and let your own "better angels" be encouraged today.

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Abraham Lincoln
First Inaugural Address
Monday, March 4, 1861

In this world that has become more intimate and familiar than Mr. Lincoln could ever have visualized, I would suggest that we are all... this common community of every continent of us... a new "Union" of humankind. Further, "We must not be enemies" but must, by all means, Be friends. And I would hope that we could rise, together, to the needs of us all in new "bonds of affection." One heart at a time... starting with me to you.

With my prayer for a more peaceful spirit within you this day, I remain, as always, Your caring and faithful Friend and Servant, John-Michael

Posted by Picasa IMAGE : Public Source

Sunday, June 18, 2006

My Father's Day

Well… It took me until 4:33PM, on this day that we recognize as “Fathers’ Day”, to get myself to the point where I can sit at the keyboard and deliver the thoughts that had me looking through tears as I delivered this morning’s newspapers. The source of the tears? An image. A clear recollection of Dad’s eyes on the occasion of our last exchange between each other.

As some of you already know, Dad died at 3:05PM, Sunday, 05 May 06. But the image that visited me this Fathers’ Day morning was from a moment when I was massaging Dad’s leg to help him deal with a severe pain spasm. We were, with Linda my sister, in a hospital room and Dad had been suffering terribly with those seizures of abdominal pain. To lessen the pain and reassure Dad that he was not alone in his struggle, I employed a technique learned in assisting the mother of my children with her child-deliveries.

As I talked Dad through each spasm and increased the intensity of massage to suit the pain’s demand, Dad looked through the fog of Alzheimer’s power and actually smiled at me in a rare moment of clarity. Though he could not speak, his eyes communicated volumes. Then, as the medications took hold and the intensity of the pain was mitigated, I started to withdraw my hand. Dad grabbed my retreating fingers and squeezed them with a ferocity that demanded attention. Upon looking into his eyes, I saw an eloquence in them that spoke with such clarity that I responded “I know Dad… Me too.” Again, he smiled… a sweet, calm, and tender smile that, in harmony with his gaze, spoke to my soul. “I love you too Daddy… I will be here and see you tomorrow.” He squeezed an acknowledgement… then released my fingers.

That was the last time that Dad and I communicated. And it was that face that visited me this morning. So, why tell you about this? Because my life is dedicated to urgently encouraging you to adopt a life practice of recognizing, respecting, honoring, and communicating your deepest emotions to those to whom that communication will have life-enhancing value. You see, my dad did not know how to do that. He was raised by a father (his Mom died when he was young) who demanded a denial of all emotion (save anger) and had a cruel disdain for sentiment. Dad never learned how to deal with his emotions. It was only in his last couple of years that he slowly allowed himself to respond to my unrelenting expressions of love for him. Culminating with the moment just recounted.

I want more for you, Dear Reader. I want more for those who look to you for instruction in healthy emotional living. I want more for those who have an unceasing hunger for your love and are crippled in their own emotional health by an absence of your assurances of affection. I want this because I lived for sixty years with a dad who had those emotions and sentiments caged within himself and was frustrated and vexed with his inability to release them. Dad would enthusiastically endorse my entreaty to you to take all possible measures to
Know Thy [emotional] Self.

The only thing you take with you when you're gone is what you leave behind.
John Allston

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Consider This

I did a little shopping this morning. As I was leaving the store, I saw the Manager talking with a group of the store associates. In response to that nagging little inner-voice, I left my cart-full of stuff, went over with hand extended “Good morning, please forgive my intrusion, but I want to thank you for the consideration that you are giving (and I named the associate) in this time of dealing with health issues. It is very kind of you and I want you to know that it is appreciated.”

I received, in return, a rigid handshake (not unlike what you would expect from any average store mannequin) accompanied by eye contact that is yet to be made. I left the store having accomplished my mission. For, you see, the manager had, in fact, extended no consideration to said employee. I could have approached him with a confrontational “I think that you should be more caring and considerate of the current physical challenges to a very diligent and devoted associate.” which would have put him on the defensive and put the associate in an even less advantageous position. A lose-lose-lose result. I opted, instead, to subtly let the manager know that his treatment of the associate did not escape outside eyes, that there was, at least, a chance that the associate was presenting him in a favorable light to the community, and that at least some, of said community, were willing to speak up for the associate’s interests a well as his behavior. And all done in a pleasant and positive tenor. As I went away from him it was with the word “consideration” on my mind. And it is the merit of that word that I want to visit with you today.

To show consideration for
To esteem; regard
To look at thoughtfully
To think carefully; reflect
To be occupied or concerned with

You have heard me use this word with more frequency than most words that I employ. The reason for, and purpose in that is that I have an urgent desire to encourage all of us (myself included… I too listen to my admonitions) to take the time and expend the effort to “show consideration for”, and “to esteem and regard”, and “to look at carefully”, and “to think carefully; reflect”, and “to be occupied or concerned with” ourselves, our lives, and our influence on the individuals touched by our lives. This is the core purpose in all that I write and live. It is the essence of being in each moment for to “Be” is to be considering all of the functioning aspects of our Being. That poor manager was caught up in Doing the stuff of his daily “to do list” without giving due consideration to the significance of his actions. He is missing life.

So, Dear One, I ask that you CONSIDER yourself and the significance of even this very moment… lest you miss the opportunity to truly live this moment.

"Consider the lilies…, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet… even Solomon, in all of his glory, was not arrayed like one of these."
Matthew 6:28.

Something worth considering. Your caring Friend and Servant, John-Michael

Posted by PicasaIMAGES through the gracious courtesy of Jon Sullivan,

Friday, June 16, 2006

Travel Companion

With all of this talk of “Life’s Journey” I’ve found myself considering the variety of traveling companions that I have had the opportunity to know. There are the “Getting the House in Order” individuals; the “Not the Right Time” people; the “Caution To the Wind” variety; your “Provide For All Contingencies” traveler; our “I Tried That Once” group; the “Oh My, What If” folk; the “I Heard About…” individuals; and the “Carpe Diem” pilgrims (just to name a few.) Let‘s “travel” with each of them, together, and see what kind of a life journey their accompaniment provides.

I must confess to not being partial to a companion who is constantly beset with the “Did we” (I’m being generous here… as we all know, it is more likely to be “Did YOU”) “secure the lawn furniture… you know that it is possible for a storm to come up while we are away.” Or “Did we (again…) contact the newspaper to suspend deliveries while we are gone?”… “Did we call the neighbor’s son to mow the grass next week?”… and on, and on. One can not help but wonder why this person has even bothered to embark on the journey. Wouldn’t they be far more at ease simply staying at home, confirming (as frequently as they desire) the status of the lawn furniture; the newspaper delivery; and the length of the grass? And what an enhancement to the sight-seeing experience of their companion (who has to graciously respond to each distraction) they provide!

But please do not be too readily dismissive of them. Do we not also know of someone who is beset with similar compulsions while engaged in their life journey? Choosing to fret about nagging details and, in the process, denying their companion the joy of the moment’s present offering and refusing themselves a legitimate opportunity to live in their own momentary gift? These sorts of diversions certainly do nothing to enhance the enjoyment of passing vistas nor do they add to the sense of oneness in the excursion. And the same applies to some of the (above noted) other groups. Too engaged in concerns about the “timeliness” of moving on… “Is this the right time?”… (whatever the dickens that means!) And then if they do reluctantly decide to move ahead a bit, it is with the constant readiness to (at the least provocation or challenge) say “I KNEW that I should have waited!” What a miserable experience for the companion of this reluctant participant in life!

You can translate the misery dynamic to those who are afraid to move ahead unless they have guarantees that all possible (whether seen and known or unseen and unknown) contingencies have been fully prepared for… and are then constantly on their guard for the possibility of any threats that may present themselves. Don’t you just know that their companion is reveling in the spontaneity of that trip! But the “Just throw caution to the wind” traveler is no more a source of traveling comfort. Knowing that your day-to-day experience of life is vulnerable to the irresponsibilities of a “shoot-from-the-hip cavalier does nothing to bring peace and comfort to a companion. One can be a “seize the moment” (carpe diem) traveler… accepting, embracing, and celebrating life’s offerings as provided by Life… without being irresponsible and careless.

But, oh my, how many of life’s opportunities are wasted even today, by those who either “postpone” their embarkation by clinging to, or cripple the journey begun by refusing to let go of the “I tried this once… and…” (always an unhappy recollection attached); or “You know… I heard about…(or) I know someone who…(or) what if…(or [God help us all… I’ve actually heard this one more than once]) I saw a movie where…” and they carry this sack of garbage with them as they travel… or embrace it as their comfort sack to justify not traveling on at all. Need I even comment on the tragedy of these lives?!

All of this having been said, Dear Friend, I write today not to condemn… not to make fun of, diminish, nor discount anyone’s individual circumstance. But my purpose is to hold up a mirror in which we (all of us… myself certainly included) can look at either our currently employed excuses for opting for burrowing deeply into our present circumstance… or examining the quality of our commitment to our journey… and its effect on those who have us as a traveling companion. It is my most sincere hope that these musings are of benefit to you as I remain, Your constant Friend, Traveling Companion, and Servant, John-Michael.

Posted by Picasa IMAGES through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton,

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Before Boarding That Next Bus

I am convinced that life is, indeed, a journey… all about the trip… little to do with the destination. And it is my observation that we manage, through a series of choices, to join ourselves to various “vehicles” for the facilitating of our tour here. There are times when we have an enjoyable travel experience… and others that are not saved in our photo album. All too often... the bus stops... not our choice... not in our control... but it (unhappily) does.
We frequently hear people question the wisdom of their selected traveling companion “How did I make such a choice… wouldn’t my experience have been more satisfactory had I chosen to travel with___”; the mode and/or style of their transporting “this is not the way that I foresaw my life being… I had a different plan.”; and their itinerary “I never would have chosen that… that is his/her idea… I am going along with this to avoid confrontation… I would have preferred something more to my liking… but you know how he/she is.”; and on and on (no… I have not been listening at your door!)

Then, when the “arrangement” falls apart and we “go separate ways” there is the forever… “How could I have made such a stupid choice?! What is wrong with me?! Am I incapable of ever making a good choice in a relationship?!” And, again, we could go on and on… (but I choose to let your own personal voices finish for me [those that you have heard and/or spoken yourself].) I ask you to STOP! Remember… J O U R N E Y. This is a series of progressions and that relationship serves to carry you from where you were to where you are now… there never were any guarantees of “Dream Destination Delivery” (as much as we ALL wanted and believed that we had made that bargain.) As a matter of fact… you (at the onset of each stage of your journey) were not equipped to forecast a definitive image of what your “dream destination” was. That too is a developing concept. (Does the term "Growth Pain" sound familiar?)

So, Dear Friend, how do you deal with the turmoil of recriminations, doubts, guilt, and frustrations that churn within you at this juncture. Here I offer a “tool”… an implement (if you will)… a “device” for your use in managing all of those issues. Think of each stage of your journey as a succession of bus trips… with changes of buses and bus routes as needed to take you each step of the way forward. One bus was, obviously, for Education (some of us are faster “learners” than others while some may require a few bus “transfers.”) Some of the vehicles of our progress we now (usually in 20/20 hindsight) know to have been an Entertainment Tour… replete with glittering lights, music, and (unfortunately) little substance.

The major point of this exercise is to bring you to a realization that there are (regrettably) very, very few “buses” that are chartered for an entire life journey. (Perhaps giving ourselves more of an opportunity to mature in our concepts of personal values PRIOR to boarding would help here.) Many simply “break down” for health or accidental reasons, thereby altering the travel plans of both travelers involved. But none of these considerations are final. None are “the end of the line.” They can be (if accepted in a healthy and constructive way) simply, progressive steps in our individual, personal journey. And as a fellow pilgrim, I am here to encourage you to consider your potentials… your options… your lovely choices from this point in your pilgrimage to some new sights to be seen… vistas to be celebrated… and joys to be claimed.

I speak not from some isolated, disattached promontory from which I survey all the struggles of those below. Oh no… I am right here with you, Dear One, stumbling along right beside you… grasping for an understanding of the moment and its significance… and reaching out to you to lift, push, encourage, and exhort you along with a silly song, a dollop of laughter, and a modicum of helpful insight when available. So, if you want a bit of a respite… ride along with this vintage bus for a while… at least until your blisters and bruises heal… and we will create a few memories worth the keeping… as Friends, Cohorts, and Partners in this beautiful adventure called … LIFE.

Posted by Picasa IMAGES through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton,

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The WOW Factor

My problem is… I have actually met them. When I first saw them, I was stricken with wonder… “They are real!” I thought. Then, to be sure… to confirm the sighting… I spoke to them “Please forgive my intrusion… but I could not help but see that love that you have for each other… it is so very evident that I am compelled to say ‘Thank you for your encouragement… you have lifted my spirit and given me hope.” Then I went my way with a fresh resolve to never settle for anything less than what I had just witnessed.

Granted… there are not many of them. I have, personally, witnessed only six sightings (and four of the six were repeat sightings of two couples.) Who are these extraordinary people? Well… I do not know any of their names. But I will tell you about my observations.

The first was in Naples (don’t get misty-eyed… it is Florida, not Italy.) I was seated at what had become my “favorite table” in my weekly visit to that charming, end-of-the-road little (and obscenely wealthy) community. In my role as the Regional Director of an investment products firm, I made a weekly circuit of the state of Florida, meeting with brokers and financial planners to offer them products that might fit the investment needs of their clients. Hence, I found my way to the restaurant in question for a respite and the necessary completion of paper-work details related to my appointments.

And… there they were. At the cashier… tending to their bill. Easily in their 80’s in years and unmistakably in their 60’s in their relationship… they stood together… he: tall… white-haired… erect and proud, but with a gentle and relaxed demeanor. She: tiny… white-haired… graceful and elegant, with a smooth and easy flowing of movement. They: harmoniously one. They spoke with quiet, nearly-whispered voices, in a comfortable and almost-choreographed rhythm… all the while maintaining a visual connection and thread of unity that was woven with a silent agreement to something akin to a private joke that was known only to them and had been their secret treasure for a very long time. I was mesmerized.

Then they turned and left the restaurant. Well… if you know me at all… you know that I recognized this as one of those potential “If I don’t… I will later wish that I had” moments. So up I stood…
followed them into the parking area… to their car (where slightly concerned glances were sent back toward me) “Please forgive my intrusion, Dear Friends… But I am compelled to take a moment to express my admiration of… my appreciation for… and my encouragement by the obvious harmony and joy that lives in that love that the two of you so clearly share. You have blessed my spirit today and I thank you.” I then quickly turned and took my leave (but not before acknowledging the slight smiles that they exchanged as they thanked me.)

The other two couples I will tell you about some other time… I, obviously, have no desire to abbreviate the telling of these tales to conform to my self-imposed limits on the length of these writings, so I will stop with this one. Ask me sometime, and I will try to recall the McDonald’s Restaurant couple… and the “in my rear-view mirror” couple.

My point, today, is simply this. I have witnessed the reality of long-term excitement and appreciation… with a blend of playful camaraderie… in relationships. The “WOW factor” can and does live on in shared lives… and I will never settle for anything less for myself.

Posted by Picasa IMAGES Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton,

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Go Ahead... Talk About Love

If you want to really scare someone… talk about love. People become instantly insecure, uncomfortable, awkward, inarticulate, stammering idiots when confronted with this little word that packs the punch of a nuclear warhead. While we can cope with the threat of all sorts of natural and/or man-devised ills, we find ourselves rendered helpless and terrorized with the presence of this ‘little’ concept. “You can curse me, threaten me, abuse me, belittle, ignore, and bring all sorts of hazards against me… but PLEASE don’t tell me that you love me. I just can’t handle that.” Or so it seems the world is saying.

And I, as those of you who know me well know all too well, bring, as a matter of natural course, this destabilizing force with me as a part of my chosen daily life manner.
I not only permit myself to love; I express that affection to whomever gives rise to the feeling. Why? Because I am convinced that this world that we share can only be made more pleasant, more enjoyable, more comfortable if we make love a customary companion to our daily considerations. Not, as its more readily known status, as alien… but as our comfortably welcomed norm.

But (there’s always a ‘but’, isn’t there?) you had better mean it when you say it. That’s right… there is no ‘faking it.’ I know when I am responding honestly to an impulse to love. And you can easily detect an insincere expression of affection more readily than any other form of subterfuge from me or any other. It takes a certain kind of courage to overcome the natural instinct to avoid the vulnerability that expressing yourself brings… and disingenuousness is too much to add to the burden of open candor.
So be honest, respect the personhood of the one to whom you are ready to reveal yourself, and say it (whatever ‘it’ is.) And a little, but critical note… listen to the guidance of your “still small inner voice.” If that inner voice says “Not this time”… cool it! Otherwise… act! Remember, Dear Friend, that this is not a dress rehearsal for life… this is, in fact, our singular opportunity to capitalize on the moments given to us… or lose them. “I wish that I had…” is a sad refrain to reflect back on. Far better, in this old man’s estimation, to look back and say “I gave that person the gift of my true feelings… not contingent on any expectation or requirement… but as a free gift from my heart.” And face the next day’s offerings without regrets for opportunities lost.

So, My Dear Friend, I hope that this little note will serve to dispel any trepidations that you have experienced when I have offered my love to you. I am not stalking,
perseverating, or plotting some outlandish agenda with you as my target of focus. I am merely enjoying the happiness of the love that you have engendered in my heart for you. So, please chill out, kick back, relax, and celebrate, with me, this gift of love that Life has made available to us. With a little practice, I can promise you that you will find the atmosphere of love a delightful one to live in.

Trust me… it’s fun... feels good... and improves the atmosphere!


Posted by Picasa IMAGES through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton,
Creative Commons License
Unless expressly stated, all original material, of whatever nature, created by J. Michael Brown (John-Michael) and included in this weblog and any related pages, including the weblog's archives is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.