Thursday, March 29, 2007


To be part of a kindred spirit… a like soul… with whom I can loose the chains of my normally well-controlled performance…

To be able to rest in the assurance that my inner-most secrets and desires are free to express themselves in an environment of safe acceptance…

To enjoy the liberated expression of long-desired, waiting to be experienced, wishes and fantasies in concert with another who hears, knows, and shares…

Such is our time… such is the feeling… the reason for the joy… the source of the smile that has accompanied me all this day… ‘Inner Sunshine…’


(originally penned 29 Sept 89/ revised 29 Mar 07)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

We Can

We can

achieve to

the limits

of what we

are able to


We can


to the



what we


We can


all that

we are



to discover.

(31 December 2003)

IMAGES all by BBC News Viewers; (Top) Ivor Bond, (Center) Gareth Williams, (Lower) Purvi Shah

Monday, March 19, 2007

Daring to 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!

(originally penned: 24July2005)

IMAGES through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton,

Friday, March 16, 2007

Thorns and Blossoms... In Balance

My thoughts today are the confluence of four separate streams of truth contributed by sources both of today and many yesterdays. I am grateful to Life for my conversation with SA wherein I offered something akin to “All you need do is BE available to the new and desired circumstances that Life will bring to your awareness.” Her response was “And I will not be available if I am busy with the old and undesirable.”

Then I was given the gift of a vehicle-to-vehicle visit (him, on his way to work… me, finishing my newspaper deliveries) with BLY and his offering of “It’s all good… all you have to do is find it.” He then smiled a knowing smile and added “There… that will give you something to ponder.” And I admitted, to him, that I would, indeed, ponder that thought (or, as he added further “That will be a new cud for you to chew.” as he smiled again and drove away toward his work place, and I continued on my newspaper delivery route.) Life was, once again, speaking through the insights and in the inspired voices of special lives in my world.

By the time that I had finished my delivery duties, I was certain of what I am obliged to offer to you, My Dear Reader, today. Four elements from four sources (two of whom I have already revealed.) The other two are the biblical psalmist, and Dr. Alfred Adler (both of whom I have quoted in previous messages to you.)

Beginning with SA’s “And I will not be available if I am busy with the old and undesirable.” I reflect on the imperatives that demand the attention of our minds and insist on the focus of our activities in our daily walk. These imperatives are (for the most part) forces that we are not even conscious of. They are instilled in and reinforced in us by the voices and pressures demanding our attention from our earliest moments of life. I liken them to life‘s “thorns.” These are the teachings and warnings of family, peers, significant others of all sorts and description (including the “voices“ blaring at us from all forms of the news and entertainment media)… all insisting that we conform, adhere, and mold ourselves to their perspectives on every element of our lives, if we want to stay safe from undesired consequences. These are the aspects that warn us of life’s threats and survival demands. But they have, as well, their own potential for inflicting emotional, physical, material, and even psychological harm if not balanced with an appreciation of, and an openness to life’s “blossoms”, or what BLY referred to as the “all good.”

But… and it is very big BUT, indeed… we need to pay heed to maintaining a healthy balance between our focus on life’s threats and requirements for defense, and an openness to all of life’s offered wonder, majesty, and beauty. For us to internalize the thorns to the exclusion of the blossoms… the “all good” of life… is to create an inner monster that will cripple and slowly devour us. I cannot count the number of individuals, who I have had opportunity to share life with, who have had themselves damaged, stunted, lamed, and/or (at the very least) hindered by the words and actions of significant others in their lives. Thus triggering the survival response of focusing solely on the threat of supposed thorns of self-worthlessness, inadequacy, incompetence or other limiting mind-traps that have made their lives a miserable succession of unhappy attempts to overcome imposed shackles. And they, in that state, are not “available” to the beauty and joy of the blossoms present in their lives. Those blossoms of talents, gifts, abilities, and personality traits that are right there all the while… but not in what Dr. Adler called “our realm of phenomenological awareness.”

What he refers to is… those phenomena that are the always-present “good” but do not even exist to our awareness when our focus is locked on the “thorn” which can become the entirety of our existence. Great is my joy when I can reveal a glimpse of the bloom to someone who has been languishing without a prior awareness of its presence. When I can awaken and expand the view of one who has been blinded by the thorn-meisters of their life.

So, I must slightly amend BLY’s thought to read, instead, “It’s all good… all you have to do is be available to it.” And… yes, the thorns… the details… the demands… the necessities of life are also good and proper in life’s balance. And therein lies the key… BALANCE. All that we know (and all that we have yet to discover) is created in a wonderful balance and with a glorious purpose. This I am absolutely certain of, Dear Friend. Thus, I can, once again, present the imperative of the Psalmist; “Be still… and know.”

Be still… and stop the repetition of behaviors that leave no opportunity for awareness of the new. Be still… and permit yourself the refreshment of discovery of the “all good” that has always been present… waiting for your acknowledgement and celebration. Still yourself… step off of the treadmill of habit, custom, and familiarity… and breathe in a fresh breath of the “all goodness” awaiting your appreciation and embracing. BLY is quite right… “It is all good.” SA is quite right… “I will not be available if I am busy with the old and undesirable.”

IMAGES through the gracious courtesy of Jon Sullivan,

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Mountaintop

There was no rationally defensible reason for our display of unabashed hilarity. We were two individuals; seated at a round patio table (perhaps with an umbrella stemmed in its center… some tables had them… I do not recall if ours did); on a fall afternoon in a town whose name I no longer recall; overlooking an unknown river; and both caught up in a giddy bout of laughter that was triggered by our notice of some tattered and frayed remnants of curtains fluttering from the window of a nondescript, abandoned building across that river. The silly fluttering of those window rags seemed to express the fluttering in our hearts. We looked at each other in silent agreement and understanding of our shared feelings, and just had to laugh for joy. The simple fact was that … we were happy in a childishly simple and innocent way! We were expressing a new-to us-both wave of free and unencumbered delight. This was an experience unlike any that either of us had ever known. It was a glorious mountaintop moment! And it spoiled me forever.

For, My Dear Reader, I can never settle for anything less. I have been to “the mountaintop.” And she and I considered our moment carved from the routine “time and space” of our “normal” lives. “We cannot live all of our lives on the mountaintop” she said (some space of time after the “laughter moment.” ) And as I considered her point, it became clear to me that living on a mountaintop is not a reasonable expectation. For (as was pointed out recently by a world-class Climber, whilst being interviewed by Charlie Rose, on PBS) the impact of weather’s vagaries is unbearable near the mountain’s peak. He made the point that a prudent and wise Climber knows to establish a “base camp” within easy striking distance of the peak… while being situated in a position sheltered and safe from the buffeting winds of the elements.

And, so it is with us. Those of us who relish the pinnacle moment of the crest of life’s mountain, know that we are best situated for all of life’s changing seasons, at some distance from the top. We can always see that high point… we can savor its recalled thrills… and we maintain our sense of our moments of glorious ecstasy as we revisit it. For, Dear One, once we have known that place of highest experiential reverie… we can never compromise for anything less. Again, in the words of Charlie Rose’s guest “From the top of the highest peak… everything else is Down.”

Thusly, I agree with that wonderful Love of my life in her estimation that the peak is not a place for residence. What I now seek is a place within view of Love’s summit that offers shelter from Life’s storms of circumstance… a “base camp” of day-to-day living… and that requisite, special Someone who makes it possible. The Someone with whom spontaneous and unbridled laughter is as much a living norm as breath itself.

How could I possibly accept anything less?

IMAGES through the gracious courtesy of Jon Sullivan,

Thursday, March 08, 2007

One Year Ago... Dad's Moment

It was, Monday last, one year ago that Dad left us physically. This week has been filled with the normal "stuff" of life... and even a special gift from Life... and through it all there has been the ever-present awareness of Dad. So, I share with you my recollections as written on that day... one year ago.

There have been many ‘false alarms’ over the course of the past week or so. ‘False’ to our limited awareness… but right on task in the controlled scheme of the I AM. We all (the attending family members keeping the vigil with Dad) were very much in need of the dissolution of the ominous presence of the ‘Unknowns’ associated with Dad’s departure. With each occurrence of “This is THE MOMENT” we all became more confident of and comfortable with our individual abilities to respond to life’s ultimate “Farewell.” Touching… weeping… singing… embracing… all became beautifully orchestrated to the theme of a common affection, devotion, and consummate love that found its expression gradually woven into a soft and comfortable fabric of shared intimacy in this … life’s moment of summary.

Thus, when the HOSPICE nurse gently summoned us into the family room in which Dad has spent his final days of earth occupation… we were able to respond with an ease and peace that gave freedom to realize the genuine quality of our individual relationships with Dad. With my sister Linda on the right side of Dad’s face, Mom on his left, myself and Dad’s twin brother, Uncle Joe next to Linda and Dad’s elder brother, Uncle Charlie next to Mom we ushered Dad to his next adventure to the sound of Mom’s gentle tears and Linda, Uncle Joe, and me singing the lovingly sweet and tender song written by Linda just for Dad’s Moment. To this accompaniment… Dad let go of his tired, ill, and weary body at 3:05 PM, Sunday, 05 March 2006.

My brothers Steven (who at Dad’s Moment was airborne on his way back to his wife and children in Missouri) and Tracy (who was in transit from attending to his responsibilities with his wife and daughter), with Mom, Linda, myself, Uncles Charlie and Joe… all would have each of you who have cared, loved, expressed, and demonstrated your support in these past days, to know that each of you is appreciated, loved in return, and not in any way forgotten in our hearts. I can assure you… each of you… that the theme of this moment is expressed in the old hymn “There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit in This Place.”

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Pre-sume /verb/ suppose that something is the case on the basis of probability
[The New Oxford American Dictionary]

He went forward on the presumption that He had the necessary understanding of the situation to equip himself for success. The elderly gentleman (assumed to be the next-door neighbor) told him that after the locked door was overcome with the assistance of the ax offered by the gentleman for that task, He would encounter some resistance due to the rug that the occupant of the house customarily kept rolled up against the door as a deterrent to cold draught. And, indeed, after smashing the lock mechanism with said ax, He did, in fact, realize a firm, but yielding, resistance quite natural to a heavy rug. Hence, after persuading the rug to allow the opening of the door for a distance barely sufficient for his body to crawl through, he flattened himself to the floor and projected himself into the smoke-filled room and made his first attempt to evaluate the situation.

Having never before confronted a burning building, He was encouraged by the realization that the long ago learned (from sources not remembered) theory that there would be a space at floor level where the smoke would be eight or ten inches above the floor itself. And surely this was the reality that He encountered as into that narrow space He crawled and inched toward the room where He could clearly see the flames hungrily consuming every element and surface. This was the room that the neighbor had told him that the three children were normally in. Three small children who had been left by their mother who had gone for a quick visit to the store that was but around the corner. Three small children whose voices had been heard screaming for help just a short while before he had appeared upon the scene.

And now He was trying, through the acrid, oxygen-starved haze of that narrow corridor at floor level, to locate the children. Back out of the room He came to recharge his lungs with air. Choking, spitting, and coughing out disgusting remnants of that life-denying gas, He steeled himself for another entry. Again, He pushed past the rug-impaired opening and extended himself still further into the kitchen and toward what seemed to be the now fully consumed dining area of this small tinderbox of a dwelling. No luck… nothing… not a single child in sight and the heated chemical residue of all that the flames were converting into toxic gases scalded his eyes and his throat.

Back out, across the tiny deck that served as the back porch and into the small yard that was itself becoming engulfed in the stench of the fog of the fire. This time the neighbor was there with water (from some source that was not noticed) and offered to cool and wash his face. The water was gratefully accepted and used to wet his handkerchief, which He placed over his now-parched mouth and nose for his last foray into the hellhole of that inferno. He could only think of three small children who had not been heard from nor seen for what was beginning to seem like forever. Cursing the bulk of that damned rug for its bulky resistance, he pushed yet again into now known territory and this time beyond until his lungs demanded retreat. Failure! With the mucous of a pulmonary system ridding itself of intruding threats pouring from his mouth, his nose, and even his eyes, he heard the arrival of the fire fighters.

To the first Firefighter to come into the back yard (where he and the now still and silent ancient neighbor stood) he yelled the information that he presumed to be a statement of all pertinent facts. The Firefighter gave him a look that was a puzzlement to him though it lasted but a fraction of a second. Then, to his astonishment, this huge (or so he seemed clothed, as he was, in all of his fire-fighting equipment) fellow simply took a seat on that self-same tiny porch. The Man just sat there… “How absurd” He thought. He had just moments before used that surface as a launch area for entry into the chamber of unspeakable horror. “How can he be simply taking a seat and not doing anything?” He thought and wanted to scream.

Then… calmly… with measured deliberation… that Fireman leaned back, reached behind himself, around the still-open door, and, obviously (from the grimace of effort registered on his face) grasped that rug that had thrice been such an impediment to the would-be rescuer, and pulled forth not a rug… oh no… a small boy! Cradling the inert form in his arms and hurrying toward the waiting medical equipment at the front of the blazing structure, the professional Angel of Mercy looked at the pair of dumbstruck observers and said “The children always go to the nearest door… and that’s where we usually find them.”

He had gone past that child three times. He had presumed the bulky weight to be what he had been told to expect there. He had presumed that He had all of the information necessary to do his best for the best outcome. He was ignorant of unknown probabilities. It is now thirty-seven years later and He still feels… really senses the actual awareness of the soft, ungiving weight of that little boy’s body as he pushed against it. He had cursed it for its impediment to his efforts to reach the children. Every time He hears or sees a fire truck on its way to affect a rescue He instantly relives that moment. That boy would be somewhere around forty five years old now… but he is not. He never had a chance to be. And I… that’s right, I… will never stop regretting the presumptions that I made that day.

If there were no other reason for my efforts to share my perspectives… my ‘lessons learned’… my little insights into this business of life... the provision of an expanded set of possibilities for your consideration would be reason enough. I will do everything that I can to equip you with a wider understanding; a broader scope of outlook; an awareness of a more useful set of possibilities for your use in your entering into whatever areas of unknowns that present themselves to you. I can never accept the possibility that my reticence could leave you vulnerable to the pain, the unhappiness, the disappointment of missing the potential blessing of any experience… because your presumptions were left minus an expanded scope of possibilities that I could have offered you.

When I pledge myself to you as “Your Friend and Servant” (as I so frequently do) there is always, in my soul, an awareness of the weight of some ‘rug’ against which you may be pushing in your life. And I must help you see the life potentials that could be there if only you know where to reach… what to grasp… how to react.

To that end, I remain, as always, Your faithful Friend and willing Servant,

(originally penned 29July2005)

(IMAGEs: Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton,

Friday, March 02, 2007


Even in the most inhospitable of environs…
Where there is enlightenment, there is life.

IMAGE through the gracious courtesy of Jon Sullivan,

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Another Scoop of Rum-Raisin Ice-Cream

I do not like Rum-raisin Ice-cream!

There, I’ve said it.

There is nothing more to say on the matter (yet you and I know that there will, most assuredly, be more said.)

You see, Dear Friend, I do not begrudge anyone else their preference for Rum-raisin Ice-cream. I hold no grudge against that flavor. There resides no bitterness in my soul toward the combination of elements that constitute that particular blend. I would never counsel anyone to disallow themselves the opportunity to sample that product nor would I undertake to undermine that dessert’s place in the universe of food products.

It is, quite simply, a fact that my own, personal, individual, particularly unique taste buds do not enjoy Rum-raisin Ice-cream. And that is perfectly all right, for there are myriad other choices offering themselves for my delight.

Yet... when my Friend, of many years, informed me that she is hesitant to allow herself to openly and publicly be my friend because of her children’s reservations about me, I was disappointed. My big old twenty stone (sounds so much better than the equivalent in pounds) of feelings got themselves hurt. Why? Because... (here is where I identify with Rum-Raisin Ice Cream)... I am who I am. She doesn’t understand why I can’t mitigate myself to accommodate the sensitivities of her children. “Aren’t you denying them the opportunity to know you by insisting on Being you?” she asked. “Why can’t you soften up your presentation of yourself?” “They think that you are being ‘phony’ because you come on so strong.”

“But who will they know if I present another image to them?” I queried. “Will the presentation of a ‘moderated’ me be an honest portrayal?” Yet my friend persisted in the idea that we must ‘respect’ other people’s ‘space’ by adopting behavior that accommodates their sensitivities.

I lived the first four decades of my life in the daily practice of ‘accommodation.’ I was never relaxed. Every encounter was a ‘performance’ for the benefit of, and to gain the acceptance of my ‘audience.’ Consequently, no one (including myself) knew me. I had no intimate relationships. There existed no place where I could go to, firstly, know who I was and, secondly, to be that person in comfort. The accepted social norm was that this was (and is) proper. I reject that norm (for myself.) I also embrace the consequences resulting from that rejection. One of those consequences is the reality that I will be (and am) sometimes rejected as a person. That too is absolutely OK. For my Dear Reader, Rum-raisin Ice-cream is not for everyone. But it is there for the individuals who have a preference for it. And the Friendships that I now enjoy I enjoy without reservation, in all of the intimate, passionate, and exuberant freedom that is ME.

Thank God for selections to choose from (for they (we) are, after all, His creations.)

And I am John-Michael [and… Who are you?]
(Original journal entry: Thursday, 29 July 2004)

IMAGE Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton,
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