Thursday, January 31, 2008


So ... what goes through the mind of that weird guy who drives around your neighborhood, in the early-morning, pre-dawn, hours ... throwing those newspapers from his vehicle onto your driveway? Well, My Friend, here is what was happening between my ears as I made my rounds this morning.

It is my fervent hope that I never again find my

Self subjected to the agony of sharing … a bed,

with someone who is completely indifferent to my

presence … an automobile drive, in the company of

someone who elects to stare in silent declaration

of their unspoken desire to be elsewhere, with

anyone other than me … a dinner, or café table,

with someone who is merely attending to the

necessity of a meal and only enduring my

presence as a obligation … a romantic dance,

in the arms of one who is distanced from me by

rejection of my individuality … a concert, movie, or

play, with someone who doesn’t sense the emotion,

passion, or beauty of the experience with me …

any precious moment, engaged in any sort or

variety of enterprise, with anyone whose thoughts,

inclinations, and motivations are directed away

from that time with me.

That really doesn’t seem like an unreasonable

set of desires … does it?

And there you have it! Your very own "listen in" to my mind's meanderings this morning. One never knows where One's Muse will lead.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Towel and basin in hand, I await visitors to this site … that I might “wash their feet”, and remove some of the caked-on, unwholesome, and unpleasant deposits, that each of us tend to acquire in our daily walk. And then … when all that would impede our return to the state of comfort and enjoyment that we knew, when we last met, has been cleansed away … I relish the thought that you (each and every one of you who grant us a moment together) and I can celebrate (if even for the most brief of moments) our spiritual kinship.

This is the picture that the scriptures paint. The image of One who is “cleansed” of all that lies without the confines of a particular place of sanctuary … having to go back out into the madness, mayhem, anger, fear, and confusions of the world outside. Then, upon returning to that place set aside for an intimate harmony with souls sharing common bonds of affection, understanding, and agreement … that One is invited to allow one of their Kindred to give them the gracious and generous gift of symbolically “washing away” all that would hinder their oneness of spirit together.

And … please take particular note here … it is the one, who has remained in the unsoiled atmosphere of the shared place of refuge, who insists on washing the feet of the other who has spoiled themselves in their other-worldly enterprises. The one who has enjoyed the safety and comfort of shelter does not demand of the traveler “Why can’t you leave that work stuff at work!?” or “Why must you bring all of those problems home with you!?” Nor are there recriminations for the very fact that the traveler has, indeed, actually picked up layers of accumulated detritus whilst going about their outside business. There are no condemnations of “You were free of those entanglements, those inappropriate behaviors, those commissions of wrong-doing, when you left. How can you be so unreliable and weak as to bring all of that into our place!?” Oh, no, My Dear Reader, there is a spirit of healing, serving, and forgiving acceptance in washing away someone else’s “dirt.”

And this is the province of the one welcoming the traveler home. With a quiet embrace … a foot massage that relieves the tensions and pains acquired whilst going about all of those endless chores, deliveries, appointments, and meetings. A favorite beverage … offered in silent love with the gentlest of smiles. Inviting the children to busy themselves elsewhere whilst she, or he, takes a moment of respite. All possibilities in “foot-washing.” That they might rekindle, renew, and, again enjoy, what is most precious and lasting … their oneness in spirit.

This lesson was demonstrated, in scripture, with the story of Jesus insisting on washing the feet of one of his disciples. The disciple was most indignant and demanded that the one who was considered to be Master should never wash the feet of the one who assumed the role of servant. And Jesus made the point that I have been seeking to convey, when he told his disciple that they could never know the joys of an unblemished and perfect oneness of spirit unless the Master be willing to wash the feet of the Servant ... and the Servant be willing to humbly accept the washing. Which reminds me of my version of an old adage “There are no big “I’s”, nor little “U’s” in the alphabet of a loving relationship."

So, Dear One, please allow me the honor … the profound compliment … of washing away from your spirit-feet, all of life’s clutter, anxieties, fears, and confusions (or at the very least rinse the excess away) … with each photo, word of reflection, poem, and insight that I humbly make available here … as you return for each of your kind and caring visits to this … my little blog-sanctuary. To that end, I happily remain, Your willing Servant and faithful Friend.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Improbable Plantings

Those tiny, seemingly-fragile plants! How can they possibly manage to grow … even beyond that … actually thrive, on the surface of such inhospitable and daunting boulders? How can that beauty and delicacy, that is theirs, present itself on a stage so forbidding? While I relish the innate reflex of sensory celebration of this miniscule presentation … I hear that quiet whisper of my Muse, “What you see there is a portrait of every healthy relationship. And even the elements of a healthy absence of relationship.” And I pay heed to more than the visual stimuli offered.

I see that the very inhospitable nature of those deposits from one of natures past upheavals, provides a barrier against any would-be intruders that would threaten the plants calling this place home. Had that tender plant been attempting life in some other environ, all manner of more dominant species would present a constant danger to survival. And, yes, I have known such relationships. Unions in which the severity of one mate protects the other from life’s predators.

And I am made aware of the irrigation equilibrium provided by the rock’s surface. Here, beneath the constancy of the waterfall’s flow, all of the moisture, that would saturate the soils of other settings, is kept in balance by the continual drainage of the stone surface. Likewise, the mate who does not become drenched in their partner’s life dramas, be they familial, career, or social, can, certainly offer such an outlet for potential emotional, mental, or even physical overload. Thereby mitigating the potential drowning that would threaten their over-absorbent partner.

And, I am reminded, there are merits to being in something of a solitary situation. A lone specimen, isolated from a bed of others of my ilk. For I do find that the absence, of the responsibilities of a relationship, serves to open windows of possibilities that give me opportunity for my own growth and individual examination and development. While I am absent the array of possibillities found in a bouquet ... I do realize the full sunlight and undiluted assets of every day.

Is this the “ideal” location for the propagation of such plants? Certainly not! Would these plants (if capable of making a rational, informed choice) elect this environment for their life-setting? I would seriously doubt it. Just as I see couples who are struggling with the “garden” in which they find themselves yearning to blossom. As surely as those precious little plants are seeking to make the most of a seemingly hostile patch of life … many are the relationships in which one or both partners are searching for some discernable element of their setting that will support healthy, vibrant growth. And those of us who are single, would often not elect this for our state. For, My Dear Reader, ’tis just as true for us human folk as for those improbable little plants … sometimes, we, for countless, myriad reasons … have, as our lot, the challenge to simply grow, blossom, and produce beauty where circumstance has planted us. And, it is my sincere hope that I can make available just a bit of the by-product of my musings to help nurture, encourage, and sustain your personal growth in, and enjoyment of, your individual surroundings.

For … as we can plainly see evidenced … extraordinary beauty and wonder is possible from the mating of even these most unlikely of contrariant elements. As Alexander Pope said “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”

And all of this, these little illustrations of “Life Stuff”, is right here. Demonstrated in Theater that is beyond peer. I am now not only delighted with this photo’s sensorial delights … but pleased with a bit of a fresh insight. And all because I am willing to listen … to Life’s whisper.

IMAGE is yet another of Jon Sullivan's amazing works available from

Sunday, January 27, 2008

No Bounds

Yet another reflexive response to one of Jon Sullivan's wonderful works ...

“Where does it end?”
“Tell me … show me the limits … that I may prepare.”
To these concerns I can tell you, My Love.
There is no end

Go ahead … look to your left … and your right …
Gaze, to the limits of your vision, into the heavens above.
And you will still find … beyond every horizon …
Past all of the clouds, stars, moons, and vapors …
That my love for you knows no bounds.

So rest, My Dear, and be at comfort.
Take refuge in the steadfastness of my devotion.
Fear no circumstance … be anxious for no happening.
For my adoration rests on neither whimsy nor fanciful chance.
But is cemented in my simple election to give, to you … Me.

IMAGE through the union of generosity and talent in Jon Sullivan,

Saturday, January 26, 2008


The cacophony of the world’s madness …

Is replaced by tiny percolations …

As water droplets meet unyielding stones.

Theirs is the symphony of Tranquility.

IMAGE through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton,

Friday, January 25, 2008

Safe Harbour

Shhhhh! We must whisper in this newly discovered place.
This place of organic fragrances that speak of seasons past.
A place that embraces and invites us ...
To huddle in quiet peacefulness.

Secrecy must be maintained … lest this nest of privacy be spoiled.
So, My Dear, let us burrow into the warmth of these surroundings.
And allow all, that is without, to pass us by …
Unaware of our safe harbour.

IMAGE: Samantha Hill, BBC News

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Let's Face the Music ... "

When I found this picture, the lyric of a song came, immediately, to mind ...

“There may be trouble ahead,
But while there’s moonlight and music and love and romance,
Let’s face the music and dance."

Irving Berlin (Israel Baline)
Let’s Face the Music and Dance (1936)

IMAGE through the generous courtesy of Ian Britton,

Sage and Youngster

In some aspects of my being, I am a sage. Often called “wise” by some along my life pathway. In other aspects, I am but a youngster, just learning to recognize, and respond appropriately to (and how to recover from inappropriate responses to), the new-to-me environment of an independent man.

Yes, I am all too familiar with my physical chronology. I am appreciative of my emotional and mental prowess … and am grateful for my attained perspectives of and understanding of my place in the universe, time, and, indeed, eternity. I know my Self. But Consequently, I am also quite aware of, and respectful of, the chronology of my male personhood. And, My Dear Friend, that area of growth is a world of experience and development apart from all other aspects of my human totality.

You see, I forced myself (by virtue of choices made, consequences stemming from those choices, and accepted responsibilities toward those consequences) to put aside, retard the development of (if you prefer to say) my individual maturation in and skills in relating to my world as a man … independent of the needs and requirements of a spouse and children.

I married, in large part, into an unspoken arrangement in which I could continue to exercise my strong suite in generating and supporting relationships with others. I was a guy who was well received by and even greatly admired by most of those in my social, business, religious, and communal world. But I had absolutely no idea of how to take care of the “business” of living. The details (how I detested that word) of maintaining a household with all of the nagging necessities associated with day-to-day living. I am a “conceptual” and “visionary” person, by nature. Hence I had an undefined, but recognized, need for someone to assume the management of my daily living. And the woman, who I married, was quite comfortable with the management of day-in and day-out details and household management … but lacked the social magnetism and charisma that were my natural gifts. She had a natural gift for, and desire to engage in, managing and controlling a home ... and a marriage. So, I made life fun … and she made it run … and we shared in the fun and comforts of a well-run life.

And all was going splendidly well until my son was diagnosed (in his first year) with cerebral palsy. That changed the entire dynamic of our world. For, you see, I was confronted … on the day of his diagnosis … with a new reality. Everyone was going to pieces … and my precious son had an IMMEDIATE requirement for a solid, sure, constant rock upon which he could count for his best shot at whatever potentials his uncertain, now-fearful, threatening, and potentially overwhelming future held. And I was, by obvious default, elected. No discussion with anyone (everyone was too occupied with hand wringing, emotion venting, theory swapping, tales-of-woe sharing, sympathy harvesting … and on, and on … ). So I flipped some unseen inner switch, and assumed, from that day on, the solitary (and excruciatingly lonely) role of Gibraltar. The rock!

No one (save my partners and the staff of the agency that I sold life and health insurance from) knew of the three months of isolation that I went into as I wrestled, in solitude, with the enormity of this non-negotiable responsibility that was suddenly upon my, heretofore life-detail-management-incompetent, shoulders. For, I would, every day, just prior to time for leaving the office, go into the men’s room, wash my tear encrusted face, straighten my neck-tie, and ready myself for “The Rock’s” return home. This was done with such success and unwavering steadfastness that, when my son was five years old, his mother commented to me “We have all been worried about you for a long time now. You have always been the sensitive and emotional One in the family. But none of us (meaning her parents and sister, as well as friends) have yet seen you shed even one tear over your son’s disabilities and handicaps. This is so very much not like you that it causes us to worry.” It was then, for the first time, that I told her of my chosen resolve and commitment, in response to the chaos and madness exhibited by everyone else, to the role and responsibilities that I had assumed for our son’s benefit. And she agreed to the reality of all of the elements of my choice.

And, Dear Friend, that role and commitment held true until circumstances brought about the current isolation that exists between my children and myself. I made the very conscious choice to ignore my personal and individual wants, appetites, needs, and desires in favor of those of my children. I am happy with that election. And … might I add … I bow, in honor and admiration, to all of you who are presently … and have, in the past, made that same selfless commitment. This little memorandum today is to encourage and, hopefully, help sustain you.

My son is now thirty-four years old, and all that I invested in him has paid dividends in his growth and development beyond even the most optimistic fantasies forecast by the most positive specialists along the way. So, it is cool!

Now then, to this “empty nest” question. Yes, the development of my present circumstance presents my very first opportunity to step into the world as John-Michael … free of any and all encumbrance and/or demands by anyone. And none of those powers … none of the maturations … no part of the image or the role that I was known by and seen as … is transferable. I am learning from the primary level. And it is, sometimes, humbling. Often trying. Occasionally daunting. But never dull! It is, in fact, quite an adventure! Always learning.

Hence, you have accompanied me here, as I revisit some of my experiences as I recall them now … whilst I re-examine their meanings, import, significance, and potentially-translatable insights into my current growth and development. All part of this new adventure.

Thank you for traveling along with me. I am humbly grateful for all of your enabling, encouraging, and delightful remarks and comments. I will continue to truthfully and faithfully keep you abreast of the emergence of this newest aspect of my ever-developing Self.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Romantic Lunch ... Sidewalk Cafe'

“If you could wave a magic wand toward Ontario from Florida and grant my fondest wish… I would wish for a romantic lunch at a sidewalk café… with you.”

These were her words to me over the telephone. We knew each other in only a strict business relationship. We had met in person on the one occasion that brought her and her husband to my city on holiday. They had come by my office in response to my offer of hospitality when she told me (in the course of our routine business transactions over the phone) that they would be in our area for their vacation.

I was so smitten with her grace and beauty that I locked an ironclad focus on her husband during the entirety of their visit. I knew that my overwhelming attraction to her would be unavoidably obvious to him if I allowed even the briefest of glances in her direction. The thirty minutes of their stay was excruciating. Upon her return to her post as a contact person between my office and the Head Office of our employing company, no mention was ever made of her visit.

Then, after the passing of several weeks with no reason for contact, I phoned the Head Office in Ontario to resolve a technical problem. I did not notice, when I placed the call, that it was the noon-hour when the majority of staff could be expected to be taking their lunch break. After she answered her phone I apologized for the inconsiderate timing of my call and offered to call back at a more convenient time. Whereupon she insisted that I stay on the line with the statement “No… please continue with this call… I haven’t any special plans for lunch today.” My response (hoping to demonstrate my appreciation for the generosity of her personal time given) was “If it were in my power, and if I had a magic wand with which to accomplish it, what special ‘lunch-wish’ could I grant you?” Then came her aforementioned reply.

I telephoned her later that afternoon (after scooping the scattered elements of my emotions into some semblance of order) and said “Please know that I live my life with the major part of me sealed in a vacuum. I must ask that you not toy with the seal on that vacuum lest you be pulled into something that is far more powerful than anything that you might want to deal with.” This was the first time in my life that I had ever attempted verbalizing something that I was acutely aware of but had no definition for. She then indicated her desire to remove the ‘seal.’

Herein lies the importance of this story for you, Dear Reader; you, I, we all have unexpressed; yet vividly real feelings and convictions lying deep within the core of ourselves. These are far too frequently pushed aside, discounted, ignored, and even rejected outright because we have not created a forum for the healthy consideration and honoring of them. I had not been introduced to the understandings available through “temperament” or “personality styles.” I had yet to be introduced to myself by the words of David Keirsey in his Please Understand Me II;

“Idealists are looking for more than life partners in their mates… they want soul partners, persons with whom they can bond in some special spiritual sense, sharing their complex inner lives and communicating intimately about what most concerns them: their feelings and their causes, their romantic fantasies and their ethical dilemmas, their inner division and their search for wholeness.”

And here I was, for the first time in my life, verbalizing, in the only terms with which I was able, the most powerful force at the most central part of me. And I knew that the person who brought this recognition to the surface of my awareness was the single person in my world with whom I could be totally honest and unabashedly candid in the exposure of this aspect of Me. What a moment!

Note: This is an abbreviated excerpt from Chapter 5 of a book in progress.

For Romance

For Romance! That is why I am moving to Eastern Europe. I have postponed the romance, that my innate temperament and personality craves, for long enough. This is the year that will make my Social Security income available. That income will be made significant in the Bulgarian economy. And will now allow me to seize the remaining decades of my time here, and gleefully pursue romance … with the means to do so.

I eagerly anticipate the joys of all of those wonderful exercises … in “keeping company,” “courting,” “dating,” “wooing” (now there is a word that I haven’t seen or heard for ages [smile]), with lovely and charming ladies. Exercises that I have never before had an opportunity to enjoy. I am enthused about getting to know individuals and families who live life at a pace reminiscent of a much slower, more thoughtful, gentler, and kinder time. Though I fully well know that my Idealist inclination paints these images in colours that are richer, deeper, and more vibrant that reality may live up to … I still permit myself the anticipations not unlike those felt when considering the joys of playing in the fantasy worlds provided by Disney.

I am eager to learn traditional folk dances, and make a complete idiot of myself in participating. I am impatient to envelope myself in the aromas of freshly baked breads prepared in small shops … fresh vegetables and products of local farms, as they are offered at the weekly public market. Having been subjected to the relentless background noises generated by an endless stream of motorized traffic (living, as I do, on one of the busiest thoroughfares in this county), I find delight in my anticipation of horse, or donkey drawn vehicles … ahhhhhh! The “romance” of silence!

And with all of these considerations playing giddy games in my imagination, I am reminded of the words from my darling little three-year-old friend, Madison, whilst we visited in the Wal-Mart yesterday. She watched as I spoke to a passing child who was riding in the shopping cart navigated my his mother. “I think that you really like children!” Madi-Lou (her alternate name variation) declared. And nothing could be more true. She had just demonstrated, at her Mom's prompting, her recall of what she and I had discussed over a year ago. Such a mind! I have a definite intent to contribute, in whatever way I can, to the education and development of children and young people in whatever village or hamlet I ultimately reside in. And to bask in the delights of their voices, noises, and energies. This is yet another expression of “romancing” my world.

So, My Dear Reader, I hope that this provides, at least, something in the way of satisfying your curiosities about my motivations to relocate to a world that I have never before seen … with an alphabet that makes absolutely no sense to me … employed in a language completely alien to me … encased in a culture that relates to nothing with which I am familiar. What an adventure! And you may consider this to be my permanent invitation to you to visit. All you need do is secure transportation to my location … and you will have a place of welcome and hospitable congeniality … for however long you care to visit. I would love to see you!

All Images from PUBLIC SOURCES

Saturday, January 19, 2008


On rare occasion, I read a line from a book, or hear a line in a presentation, that resonates in my Soul. Such was the case when I read ...

"Loneliness had been the trash-can-fire he huddled around for most of his life."

The powerfully significant message here is that this character did not surrender to the cold of loneliness whilst dreaming of that fantasy of a "picture perfect, home and hearth" to warm himself in (though it, most certainly, is a wonderful and ideal fantasy). But he, somehow, recognized the potentials in the condition that he found himself in ... embraced those circumstances ("he huddled around") ... and found warmth in what would commonly be considered to be an inferior "trash-can-fire".

This gave me a smile of recognition and appreciation.

quoted lines spoken by Harry Bosch/character
Michael Connelly's "The Last Coyote" (page 24)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Chosen Confinement

I tucked him into his bed, kissed him on his forehead, moved the hair from his face … only as an excuse to linger for another instant … and then with a “Goodnight Son, I love you.” , I moved down the short hallway to his sister’s room. Because I understood that she had an intense aversion to intimacy, I simply sat on the carpeting, beside her bed’s headboard, and gently jiggled her mattress to the rhythm of whatever tune I chose to hum. She could feel my presence through the “rocking” of her bed … hear the soft tones of my voice … and drift off to sleep, aware that my love for her was, yet again, her guardian and escort as she traveled from “here and now” into Dreamland. I would then steal away into the darkened living-room, sit in the rocking chair, and weep my tears of agonizing loneliness … until weariness drove me onto the sofa … where I would go to sleep for yet another night. This was my routine for the last many years of marriage.

My children had not so much as an inkling of a hint that their home was anything but a comfortable, peaceful, supportive and sustaining place of nurturing and care. I had made a conscious commitment to that end, and never allowed any other voice or influence to be known. Yet this cocoon of warmth and love that they knew … was the place of my chosen incarceration. I was held there by self applied bonds of commitment to my responsibility to provide the very best of worlds for their individual and joint development and growth. The bars of my cell were installed by me, and known only to me … but had the strength and security of the toughest of maximum security facilities. But to the world outside of my perceptions, mine was the ideal setting of the happiest of families and homes.

And it was worth it! My children did indeed grow and thrive in their own settings and in accord with their own abilities and talents. The mission was being accomplished. So, then why do I recount, to you, My Dear Reader, the picture of what lived behind the façade of working imagery? Because I know, for an absolute fact, that there is, all around me, a world of similar imprisonments lived out every moment of every day. And no one is even daring to whisper about their reality.

What I refer to is what I consider to be the noblest and most honorable of sacrifices that one human being can make for another. That of giving every element of one’s self for the betterment and good of another. And this is what a loving parent does with every decision; every choice; every election that life places before them, when they choose to put first the needs, desires, and best interests of their children … often at the expense of their own fulfillment and happiness.

I did consider the option of “breaking out” of the prison. I heard the rationale of our culture’s opined view that “we can only offer our best to our children if we are being our best for ourselves.” And I actually researched the subject … actually interviewed single parents whose spouses had chosen to follow other dreams and fulfill their individual callings with their commitment to their children taking a lesser place of prioritization. And then I discovered an article in one Sunday’s “Parade Magazine” supplement to the newspaper. In that article, the scientists who had given birth to the “the children will detect an unhappy marriage and be wounded by it … the healthier choice for the children is to separate the home and allow the children to develop in two happy environments” theory. Those two men were publishing their revised conclusions (after twenty years of “follow-up study”) … chiefly (after thousands of interviews with hundreds of children of homes divided as a direct result of their earlier postulations), that it is far better to permit children to learn skills in conflict resolution, in a less than perfect environment, than to teach them that “cut and run” is the best of interpersonal skills to develop. On that day, I closed my “Marriage/ Yes-No” file (which I looked at just recently [yes … I do keep all of these things!]) … and chose to bind myself to the better interests of those in my family who had no vote … my children. And the unyielding doors of my emotional and spiritual tower closed with a resounding clang.

That you, whether you are one of those who can relate to this story from personal similitude, or one who was, prior to this writing, unaware of the reality of such circumstance all about you, may know that yours or your neighbor’s song is, by no means, a solo, I submit this expose'. For, unhappily, I can attest to the fact that their lives a virtual chorus … choir upon choir … of such voices … borne of those who, because of the nature of their commitment, cannot make themselves heard. So, today, I speak … I sing … I cry for them … and bow to their courage and marvelous expressions of consummate love.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Return to "Four Loves"

In response to your questions (seemingly related to recent postings) I am re-posting this submission from 12 April 06

I have, on four occasions in my lifetime, allowed myself to cognizantly, and with some measure of mature discretion, fall in love. In each of the circumstances, I was, initially, caught up in the euphoria of the spellbinding enchantment of Her and the moment. But, at some point in each episode, I became subtly aware of the infinite reality that there was no possibility of long-term union for us.

The first of these experiences was quite short-lived. After the epiphanal upheaval of emotion that encompassed the experience had elevated to the point of a “next step” expectation, I went to her, at her place of employment, and said (in a state of bewildered resignation) “I care for and respect you too much to allow you to build any expectations of me… I must tell you that, in a short time from now, I am to be married…I simply admire you far too much to lead you on with any false understandings.” I will never, no matter how long I may live, forget the kind, gracious, loving look in her eyes as she took my face in her hands and kissed me on the cheek. Had there been anyone in my life at that time with the wisdom, understanding, and willingness to mentor me on the significance of that moment, I have no doubt that I would never have followed through with that scheduled marriage.

I recall the exact moment when, in the case of my second of these engagements, I frustratedly attempted to dissuade Her from her love for me with the declared “This can not possibly go anywhere…we are both married and neither of us is willing to terminate that commitment.” What I had presumed would snap Her into a rational awareness only caused her to consider me even more lovable for my concern for the care of her heart. And I found this acceptance to be even more compelling in my love for her. The plain fact that we were both temperamentally predisposed to a yearning for romance that was not shared by either of our spouses left each of us acutely vulnerable to the other. And discovery of each other was a treasure the likes of which neither of us had ever anticipated experiencing. The parting of our lives’ paths severed our physical proximity to each other and the next time that I heard from her was to receive an invitation to her wedding to the man with whom she enjoys a full life (God willing) to this day.

My third license to love I granted myself when I was presented with an invitation to romance. Romance in all of the idealized splendor of possibility and hope. After what a learned Friend and counselor defined as “A run-away train” (I still have the cassette tape with the ‘Runaway Train’ song on it that he mailed to me…fond memories) had run a dizzying course of other-earthly magnificence, I became aware of a gnawing certainty. “Our ‘train’ is going to slow… then stop at a point at which you are going to want to… need to disembark. You are going to want to set out on a new life path. You will be uncertain of and insecure with your ability to walk this path alone…I will walk with you. You will still feel a need for some of the ‘baggage’ of your past…I will carry your baggage for you. At some point you will say ‘I don’t need that stuff any longer’… I will cast it away for you and it will be gone forever. You will become stronger, grow in confidence, and recognize your powers more clearly… you will not be able to ask… I will turn and go back to the ‘station’ alone… knowingly and lovingly.” These are the actual words that I shared with her. She wept and demanded “Never…No… I will never want that to happen” but I understood that blended in with her tears of fear and love was the recognition that what I said was inevitably true… she had sensed it to. And so it was.

The fourth of these openings of myself came only recently. I am far wiser now… I have had the mellowing of fifty-eight years and many miles of experience with matters of my heart to serve as instructors to my willing student of a soul. So, when presented with this opportunity to lay myself out… open to all of the possibilities of and vulnerabilities to freely loving… I said, “Go ahead Heart.” I understood fully that she was in no position to return my love. Her circumstances precluded any possibility for reciprocity… so “Why” you might ask. “For her” is my answer. I would allow myself to ride that whirling ride of ecstasy and delight with no expectation of anything that would satisfy this world’s definition of ‘benefit’… but would I not indeed benefit from the joy… the fuel for the soul…the energy of emotional expression… the ultimate delight and fulfillment in giving the gift of my Self to Her? Yes… my Self as I know myself… an eternal spiritual Being not limited to the confines of geography (for she is thousands of miles away), or time (for she is of a younger generation), or of culture, nationality, religion, or native language. No, My Friend, I am limited by none of these earthly considerations… for I have committed my life to the reality of the infinite Eternity… and this short pilgrimage with all of its ‘limitations’ means not a thing in that scope of life. I, therefore, willingly gave my heart to her with full knowledge that when she reached a point, in her own pilgrimage of progress, she would feel me an awkward encumbrance to her progress… be it an hour from now… a day…month…whenever… it matters not. She will have the knowledge that she has all of the elements of Being that enchanted, mystified, engaged, and swept this old Romantic completely off of his silly old feet... and he fell willingly.

I have given my heart away four times in my lifetime… I repeat. I know many who have never had the blessing of knowing that thrill and satisfaction even once. I am blessed… and happy. Happy in the understanding and knowledge that four lives are, in some measure, better for the introduction of my heart into the recipe of their life. Their fulfillment and individual successes in each of their chosen paths gives me satisfaction. And, while there will forever remain a chamber of my heart that is warmed by the glow of recollection with each of their names on the door, a part of that chamber will forever ring with the hollow echo of emptiness…

Love is never without cost.

JMB (Originally penned 26 Nov 2004)

(IMAGE: Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton,

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Runaway Train

“Every time that I have been here, you have instructed me to sit comfortably and then you have introduced your intended agenda …” I said to him, “Today, I would like for you to make yourself comfortable, and I am going to tell you what my agenda has been …” And I did. I told him about her. I told him about “us”, and how we had become “us.” And this remarkable man, who had guided, coaxed, instructed, advised, listened, exhorted, admonished, and cared about me, as my psychologist and friend, for years … was thunderstruck.

“For all of these years, I have learned all about the make-up, the elements, the structure of You. Over that time I have witnessed you trying to do all of the right and best things in life. But this is the first time that I have ever seen you ’alive.’ The lights are on and you are ’at home.’ You have been a human … doing all of your life’s required and expected things … and for the first time, I see you as a complete human being.” I listened to his summary statement … and responded, “So, I have evolved from a “Human Doing”, to a “Human Being.” And we shared a mutual smile of acknowledgement and agreement.

Since that day, I have been focused on my responsibilities to that Being that I now understand myself to have been wondrously created to be. And have assumed the posture that all of life’s required “doings”, the “stuff”, the details, will be well and rightly taken care as a natural out-flowing from my being my very best Me. As Ghandi so beautifully put it, I “must be the changes that I want to see in my world. Hence the license tag on my vehicle that reads “justbeingme.” Just as my Email address is “", and this blog is “Just-Being-John-Michael" as my testimony to whomever may be open and sensitive to the message suggested there. For, My Dear Reader, that is what I was best created to be … Me. No other person can be this individual that I alone am. And Life holds no one else responsible for being all that I am capable of being … other than Me.

I went, that day, long ago, from his office alive, aglow, and being those things from the inside, out. He said that She and I reminded him of a “runaway train”, and mailed me a tape of a song so-entitled (which I still have and smile every time that I see it.) That runaway train did as all runaway trains must do … it eventually surrendered to natural forces, circumstances, and elements … slowed … stopped … discharged its passengers, one at a time, at different stations, for them to pursue their own individual purposes. But I now write, and live, in the residual power of what I retain from that illumination, that life energy, and that sense of being that she and I discovered on our beautifully wild and wonderful train ride. And I will forever love and respect her, and all of my memories of that gift of our moments together.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"What do you want?"

I was , recently, asked, by a new friend (as she discovers just who I am) ... a very special lady introduced to me by Steven (my Darlin' Brother) ... "What do you want?" A very fair and honorable question. To which I responded with an Email containing the little summary that I now share with you.

Why? I share it with you because it occurs to me that we could have a delightful time allowing ourselves to get to know ourselves better ... and enjoy ourselves even better ... if we candidly examined our first "knee-jerk" reactions to that very fine question.

So, my Dear Reader, I submit my bit of a response ... and encourage you to do what I did, this morning, and jot down your own spirit's reflexive responses to the question.

So ... what I want is ...

INTIMACY ... in thoughts, ideas, conversation, feelings, and shared activities.
CHILDREN ... Their sounds, curiosity, silliness, struggles, laughter, and hugs. To know their sense of security and comfort in the bosom of my presence and care.
TOUCHING ... Fingertips, arms, face, neck ... freely, often, comfortably, gently, appreciatively, and spontaneously.
KNOWING SMILES ... Private, quiet, random, filled with meaning and fun, lingering and savored.

And as the song goes ... "These are a few of my favorite things."

And then there is what I said in ...

Now ... while I DO appreciate, and enjoy GREATLY your comments on what you see and feel to be the merits, usefulness, and value, to you, of any of my "meanderings of the mind" ... please don't respond to this by clicking on "comments" if you want to have a bit of a chat on the subject ... for, as you have probably noticed, I do not employ that area for "chatting." But if you do feel like a good chat on this (or any other topic) please accept my invitation to Email me at ... , and I will happily answer.

'Til then, as always, I remain your faithful Friend and caring Servant

Friday, January 11, 2008

Living in Bed

“We can’t live our entire lives in bed!” was her response to an uncomfortable moment in our relationship. And we both understood that her words were not the literal rendering of her conviction at that moment … so when she amended her comment (a short moment later) with “But it would be worth trying to.” We smiled with our unspoken agreement in those unspecified truths that she was making an effort to articulate. And now, nearly twenty years later, I am still considering the import of what she was, then, trying to express.

“We can’t live our entire lives expressing our unguarded desires and emotions in an environment free of demands, requirements, expectations, or conditions. We can’t know, as our common experience, openness and candor … hilarious gaiety … whilst resting in our trust of all those surrounding us. We must deal with the conflicts and intrusions brought upon us by the roles, positions, and responsibilities imposed upon us by the world outside of ourselves. But it sure would be worth making the effort to make it otherwise!” This is what she was trying to say. What I have been considering all of these years later as I reflect on the lessons presented to me by that circumstance along with the myriad others in my life-curriculum.

What I share with you, My Dear Reader … as you search for a vocabulary to give voice to those impulses and inclinations that are perking within your spirit … is in the hope that I may, in some very small way, enable you to understand, accept, embrace, and ultimately celebrate a healthy realization of your innermost yearnings. That you may enjoy (YES, it is possible!) every element (or, at least, most ) of your life.

As I, simultaneously, hope that She has found the language to communicate Her desires to the one to whom she is married … and that they, together, might be basking in the glories of a life joyfully fulfilled .

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bayou's Memory

They were tiny gems … scattered randomly amongst the dunes of business detritus that constituted daily demands. Each one deposited with care … and having its own worth and value particular to its source … a poem … an inspirational quotation … a personal encouragement … the lyrics to a song. One by one left on my desktop … in an unmarked envelope … awaiting my discovering.

These were my immediate recollections upon seeing the photo of that particular bayou in Monday’s newspaper. That bayou where She was married to the man who became the father of their child … and is, these nearly forty years later, her husband. But at the time of her gifts to me … she was my soul’s hope … the lifting inspiration to my beleaguered Spirit. She believed in me when I had neither confidence nor belief in myself. She knew, in that beautiful core of her sensitive Self, the crushing weight of conflicts that besieged me. And she reached into my conflicted life with quietly deposited gems of healing, awakening, regenerating insight and hope.

Hers was the freely given gift of unqualified and unencumbered love. Expressed in unobtrusive ways that were never-before experienced by me. I had no knowledge of the poets, nor of the philosophers, nor of the thinkers whose words she knew would minister to the agonies of my daily battles between my unrestrained idealism and un-tempered spiritualism, and the world in which I worked. Hers was the gift of, first, small “flotation devices” to keep me from emotional drowning. Then timbers of ideas and perspectives with which I could begin building bridges between my romantic idealisms and the stark demands of the corporate beaurocracies that my work thrust me into. And when I would see her in the hallways of that place in which we worked … she simply smiled. A smile that said “you are OK! … and I believe in you.”

That you, My Dear Reader, may know the permanent and ever-endearing power of allowing yourself to acknowledge that Still Small Voice within you when it whispers a message of concern for another … and then responding in whatever small way you find available to you … I recount this treasured memory that will forever reside in my heart. She did not resolve my conflicts … She did not conquer my personal demons … She simply, in love, let me know that I was not alone … and that someone cared, and believed in me. I am forever grateful and blessed.

IMAGE: Jerry Maloney Art

Sunday, January 06, 2008

My Ride

“I have been watching you as you pass by … and I want to see what it would be like to share in your traveling experience. My present circumstance does not afford opportunity for my spirit to fully express itself … and I have fantasies about the potential joys awaiting our traveling together.”

This is the condensed and abbreviated message spoken to me by 'Her' … 'She' being in the person of several with whom I have shared my life journey for varying lengths of time, and in various forms of “travel modes.” What has been universally true of all of them is that She eventually relegated me to a role as chauffeur and/or guide whilst She gazed longingly upon other travelers, as they passed by Her window, in their vehicles of other description and circumstance. And I have repeatedly refused to be relegated to traveling in an environment of indifference and uncaring, disattached, aloneness. So, I have always found an emotionally safe place to discharge Her from my presence that She may pursue her interests and desires unencumbered by my presence.

What I have learned is that I, by far, prefer making my life-pilgrimage in solitude (though my deepest core yearning is for intimate romance as a constant presence and companion) … to having to accommodate the presence of someone who is perpetually in search of some “improved” status, comfort, or image that may be gained through some other association or modification to Her association with me.

This is, no doubt, what I find so charming about the image of the person traveling in a make-shift donkey cart, down a highway built for the latest and most advanced of state-of-the-art vehicles. The message to my soul, in that image, is one of the most intimate experiencing of a journey … taking in, at a soul-friendly pace, all of the elements of the environment traveled through … smelling all of the fragrances … feeling each bump and vibration of life‘s highway … hearing all of life’s soundtrack … tasting and savoring Nature’s aliveness … and having the time to permit all of it to register and be recorded in the treasury of my mind. Hence, I still travel alone … knowing, full-well, that the world … the culture … the society in which I walk my personal walk … is one of constant, comparative evaluations and judgments based on material standards set by never-satisfied economic forces. For I have not, as yet, discovered Her … that person who would opt to … would have the desire to … could not wait to tune out the prevailing voices of the surrounding world to know the fun and joy of traveling with me for the sake of simply being an integral part of me in my unique life-walk.

So … Dear Friend, I travel solo for this moment. And I find ways to form thoughts like this into language that I can share with you. Hoping that by doing so, I can awaken a fresh awareness, in both you and myself, of aspects of our inner Beings that have a hunger for attention … but have lacked for a forum for expression. And that has made you a valued partner in my journey and in my life. Your responses to my seedlings of thought give rise to the germination of more refined strains of realization. And, as these blossom, I will continue to share the fruits with you. For we share a magnificent Spirit within us … and that Spirit … with Love’s motivation … has the potential for you and me to make our personal world a bit better for all who are touched by our presence. And this is a worthy venture.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


“Cavorting!” … This is the word that proclaimed itself to my mind in the instant of my awakening. And that is what Dad and I had just been doing. Then I awoke … and had the immediate realization ... “Dad is dead!” (for this is, in truth, the fact.) Yet I was stilled for a moment by the suddenness of my recollection. What I had just been enjoying was something that had never been a reality for Dad and me … “cavorting together” … though he and I had a long-running, tacit agreement that we would have loved to.

The closest that we ever came was on that Thanksgiving Day, some years ago, when I showed up, at the home that he and Mom shared, with the promised Thanksgiving feast purchased from a restaurant. All of the side dishes were prepared and ready. All that was required (as I now recall) was the baking of the turkey that the restaurant had made ready in a pan.

Given the fact that a span of a few hours was needed for the roasting of “the bird”, Dad and I obtained the reluctant approval, from Mom (who did not like the idea of participating in an excursion just for the joy of it), for the two of us to set out on an exploratory drive in my new Jeep Cherokee. So … off we went. And I do not remember having ever seen Dad have such a child-like delight in an adventure. Lighthearted laughter and freedom of spirit were our companions.

We drove to a spot that had a view over the Bay to the flashing light of what remains of the Egmont Key Lighthouse where his Dad (my Grandfather) had served as Assistant Lighthouse Keeper in Dad’s youth. We read the inscription on the memorial to the sailors lost in the sinking of a Coast Guard ship … whilst savoring the distinct aromas of the head-waters of the Bay. We treated ourselves to some silly snacks from vending machines (something that Dad had always considered an expense far beyond rational reason.) I showed him new avenues of travel made possible by the construction of bridges and roadways that he had no idea existed. And we arrived back home later than Mom had allowed was considerate of her.

As I spoke with Dad through the open window of the Jeep, upon taking my leave and subsequent to a very miserable evening of strained submission to an air of guilt and reproof, Dad said only “I’ll never do that again!” And, of course, we never did.

But we did cavort! Just that once. But it was enough for me to have a recollection, just now, of how wonderful it was.

I miss you Dad. (And I miss all of the cavorting that we never did.)

[Definition: “Cavort”/ To act or behave in a jovial and exuberant fashion. ]
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