Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just Beneath the Surface

As you begin this new week ...
Please allow me to challenge you to slow yourself ...
Take a healthy, cleansing breath ...

And go just a bit beneath the surface of the experiences,
offered to you, by Life, this week.

For, My Dear Reader,
I promise you that there is beauty, and exquisite wonder ...

just beneath that superficial conversation ...
that surface phone call ...

that exchange with co-worker, family member, neighbor, or friend.

If you will but simply relax for a moment ...
and permit yourself to drift, with the current of the instant,
and discover the wonder that lies just beneath the surface,
of your life's fleeting happenings.

I am anxious to hear, from You, about the treasures that you find ...
as you enjoy this adventure.

These IMAGES are from the BBC's presentation of winners of a photo competition sponsored by the conservation group Reef Check … (celebrating special life forms found on Australia’s coral reefs.)

The UPPER IMAGE is by John Natoli, and the LOWER IMAGE by Justin Gilligan

Sunday, September 28, 2008

No Barriers

Life knows no barriers. Geography, culture, language, religion, politics ... none of these are even recognized by Life. And as I awakened yesterday ... with mind and Soul fertile from an evening listening to political debaters exchanging view on peoples and places that neither had any personal knowledge of, involvement with, or intimate participation in ... I was quite ripe for an introduction to Ghazala Khan with The Pakistani Spectator. Her introduction of herself, with its request for an
Interview, found a ready mind and heart. Thusly, I, first, went to the site that she is a participant in ... read several postings there ... commented on one of them ... then, granted the requested Interview.

I now have a delightful new friend. And look forward to the fruits of my agreement to submit works, on topics of interest to the site, for publication by The Pakistani Spectator. All because I chose to respond ... to all that I was deluged with by the Debate participants ... and to the vacuous emptiness, devoid of comfort, that their remarks left my Spirit with.

Life is just so very cool!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Choice of "View"

Some call it a “Romantic” view of life. They insist that to see the beauty, to hear the harmonies, to feel the gentleness and opt for kindness is to be “unrealistic” in perspective.
Their argument would have us devalue the very real presence of life’s best. But alas, Dear Friend, for us to adhere to what is proclaimed by news media, public forum, and religious rantings as the “factual” and deny the always-present good and lovely … is to harden our Spirit’s ability to respond to the elements of living that nurture, encourage, stimulate, and enliven its existence.

I choose (and it is, My Friend, a matter of individual choice) to embrace every small moment of joy … to proclaim the merits of all that is beautiful;
to encourage and celebrate each act of kindness, thoughtfulness, loving generosity, and selflessness that I am aware of … to all of the world that is so starved for hope, happiness, peace, and loveliness.

Does this mean that this old Romantic is oblivious to the overabundance of mean, unkind, greedy, ugly, and even evil forces and influences that are a constant presence all about us all? Certainly not, Dear One! All of those aspects of life on this ever-shrinking globe are options that constantly clamor for my focus … but I choose to protect my soul from the excessive pain, discomfort, and agony that would accompany my opening of my Self to their influence.
Again, it is a matter of disciplined election.

So, in keeping with that understanding, I send these hope-filled, spirit-stirring, and deliciously inviting images to your Soul and Spirit today.
Because I do, indeed, love You … and am committed to contributing all that I can, to a joyful and peaceful Today … for You.

These IMAGES through the gracious courtesies of Ian Britton (upper and lower images), FreeFoto.com; and Jon Sullivan (center 2 images), PDPhoto.org

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Life's Meaning

“Is this what gives meaning to your life?” A question that I have oft asked of myself. “Is the energy of this moment the defining power of your living?” “Is the music, inspiring your life’s dance, the melody that most honestly speaks the desires of your heart?” “Are you being true to all that is the precious core of You?”

I do not grade or rank the worth of the task or activity in which I am engaged. No, Dear Friend … I, instead, weigh the merits of my heart’s intention‘s in my engagement in any enterprise. And … only then … do I ascribe my own quiet appraisal of value in my endeavor.

I will not accept anger as my life’s meaning. Nor hate. Not even irritation. And certainly not malice. How dreadful I would feel if I felt that my life’s meaning could be defined as any one of those or their miserable cousins; bitterness, contempt, hostility, or vengefulness. I can not even consider carrying the burden of such as my daily baggage. For I opt, to the contrary, for a daily walk made lighter by the lifting spirit of a heart made glad by contemplation of all that is good. I am, you could say, made lazy by my addiction to easiness of spirit.

I write of these things today, in response to what I have recently seen and heard in the lives of some with whom I share my life path. I have witnessed the pain of their insistence on dwelling on all of those crippling voices of dark considerations. And I cannot bear the destructiveness of such a walk. Finding myself in proximity to such an environment of negative waste tears me down and renders me weak and useless. So I remind myself … as I refresh your memory … in the recollection of one of my favorite scriptural formulae:

“Whatsoever things are true;
Whatsoever things are honest;
Whatsoever things are just;
Whatsoever things are pure;
Whatsoever things are lovely;
Whatsoever things are of good repute;
If there be any virtue;
If there be any praise;
Think on these things.”
Philippians Ch4, V8

There you are! What, I ask you, could possibly be simpler? For how can we allow a seed of anger to be “planted” in our mind … and then ask why we are not reaping joy? Can we rationally expect peace to be the fruit of our allowing hatred to take root in our thinking? Does frustration and anxiety render a harvest of satisfaction and contentment? Please, My Dear Reader, permit me to suggest the beauty of the simplest and most rudimentary of formulae. Only cling to what you want to embrace as worthy of your life’s meaning. And gently turn your back on all of the world’s encouragements to devalue yourself with tabloid noise.

In the hope that you find a bit of encouragement in these considerations, I remain (as always) your loving and caring Friend and willing Servant.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Love ... Friendship

"Love is just Friendship ... set to music."

E. Joseph Crossman

IMAGE: Alan Rengger, BBC

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Perhaps you have had the pleasure of a moment that, at the time, was so delightful that words to express your emotions escaped you. If so, you will understand the motivation behind what I share in this expression of a moment lived 29 September 1989 that I attempted to portray in the words of "YOU."


To have 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 can express themselves in an environment of safe acceptance …

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

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

John-Michael/ 29 September 1989

IMAGE (of Torre del Lago, near Lucca, Italy) by Neil Jones, BBC

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Peasant Food"

"You eat Peasant food" my French pastry-chef Friend told me. And his comment refreshed a memory of the label of "Potaje" that was visited on my daily fare by a Spanish Friend who explained that I enjoyed a sustenance that was traditionally enjoyed by the Peasants of Spain who threw all of the ingredients of their meal into a pot ... and concoct a meal that is the result of whatever that blending produces. This "potage," or "thick soup," of life is what I do, genuinely, enjoy. And that is a very good thing! For it is what constitutes the mainstay of my diet.

Which is what I had come to mind as I considered the variety of “Ingredients” that Life has brought to my “Bowl of Life.” My daily experience is richly blessed with a diversity of Individuals who have no obvious commonality with my life. I have my experience enhanced by a range of Peoples whose life-styles, experiences, educations, cultures, nationalities, religions, native languages, and customs, are all of a scope of such magnificent range that I could never have dreamed of garnering such folk by any concentrated effort of my own. But they are, each and all, a comfortable and completely delectable ingredient in the Potaje of living that nourishes, nurtures, sustains, and enhances my every day.

All of this became a clear and glorious reality of Awareness just now … as I was writing a response to a heart-warming comment left by a gentleman who has become, in a very short, and marvelous time, a dear Treasure to the very core of my Soul. Jim Sullivan (also known as “SulDog”) is a man who first captured my heart by his unfailing habit of always referring to his wife as “MY WIFE” … all in capitals … every time. His openly … even overt … love and respect for this lady, and the beautiful relationship that they share, won my instant and total admiration and respect. I fell in love with this “SulDog” guy. And all of that emotion and regard began spilling out from the keyboard, as I typed my response to his comment, this morning. Which, in turn, spilled over into this posting.

I began reflecting (with happy gratitude) on the assemblage of folks who I have written notes to in just the most recent days. And I am quite aglow with loving appreciation and delight in the assurance that we … each of us in our own very unique and individual respects … share genuine respect for, love of, and comfort with … each other. I am so very blessed!

So, my Dearest Reader, I am giving you a window through which to see the wonder of Possibility that Life brings … to Any and All who are willing to make available their own “cooking pot” of life, to the richness of “Ingredients” that Life has waiting and ready for our support, encouragement, and happiness. I whole-heartedly recommend, to each of You, the Wonders and Joys of “eating Peasant Food.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Responsibility ... Unyielding, and Unavoidable

You see, the hell of it is that I do not want any more responsibility … not of any kind, sort or description. I am weary, tired, spent, and yes … probably lazy. But I want to avoid any entanglement in individual accountability. I am through with campaigning, crusading, and the championing of causes. I want to blissfully cruise through the remainder of my decades here on this mortal globe sipping delightfully cold and refreshing beverages and basking in the company of funny, pleasant, and complimentary companions. This does not seem, to me, to be an outrageous desire. I am not holding out for riches, lavish accoutrements, or decadent comforts. A simple diet of daily pleasantries and niceties will do just fine (thank you.)

But alas… life is not served up in accordance with my stipulated selections, on my individualized copy, of an imagined ‘room-service menu’ for living. And on 20 December, of 2006, I was confronted with the nasty little reality of personal responsibility, yet again. There I was … ensconced in the Intensive Care section of a local hospital … feeling myself to be very much the weak, wounded, and greatly in need of nurturing and care, Victim of physical mishap. When, at the unearthly hour of midnight, as I was having my “vitals” measured yet again … there appeared before me the figure of some strange Being who looked upon me as one would upon a stray dog wandered into One’s back-yard, uninvited and unwelcome. No introduction was offered … no overture toward civility or gentility … just a demand to see “the wound.”

I surmised that this person must be the surgeon that I had been fore-warned of (by the physician admitting me to the hospital), by surveying his attire and comportment. He was clothed in surgical garb, head to toe (including the shoe-coverings, at the floor end, all the way to the hair-covering, surgical cap.) And he presented himself with the dictatorial finesse of something between John Wayne and George Patton (with just enough Donald Trump to trigger near-nausea.) “You must have immediate and aggressive surgery to stem the spread of that infection and you must have it as soon as possible.” was his proclaimed summation of my state. “But you have no idea of the progress that the antibiotics have already made, against the infection, since just yesterday” I offered. “Makes no difference,” he declared “you have no idea what can become of something like that if we do not go after it with aggressive and thorough surgery (then he went into graphic descriptions that I will spare you here … all with an attitude that bespoke a desire to intimidate, overwhelm, and make me as subservient as possible as quickly as possible.)

Well! … (as those of you, who know me well, know, all too well) intimidation, overwhelming, and/or rendering subservient, have never been tactics that have met with any measure of appreciable success, with me. And the combined experiences visited upon me by the United States Marine Corps; a legion of doctors vying for control over my son’s life over the 30+ years that we managed his cerebral palsy treatments, care, and therapies; plus the untold vagaries and abuses of dealing with and surviving the corporate world; have tempered the fabric of my Being, far beyond any possibility of malleability, by the performance staged by this individual. So I told him “No!” (a word that he was obviously not accustomed to hearing.)

My point here is to let you, My Dear Reader, know that I was (prior to that moment) very much in the mental/spiritual mode of “Woe is me … I am not well … I am wounded ... Please care for and nurture me back to health … Take from me all responsibility and rock me in the cradle of blissful dependency.” The visitation of the aforementioned individual snapped me back into the reality of life’s continuum of individual accountability … Damn!

What followed was five hours of lying awake in the solitude of that hospital room reflecting on a range of considerations including (but not limited to) my Dad’s death in March of 2006, from the very same kind of infection that had its hold on me (and how that outcome may have differed had he been able to act on his own behalf)… the total aloneness that was mine in that moment in my life (with recall of many other such moments from youth, to then, when isolated solitude was my awareness) … the blessing and wonder of loving friends and family that I have as my most treasured resource … and other stuff … all of which concluded (at 5 AM) with my determined resolve to kick butt, and take renewed charge of my life, straightway.

I write this bit of insight so that you may see that I too have those “moments” that you may feel are yours alone to struggle with. I want you, in the stillness of this moment, to know that we … you and I … are in this “life thing” together … along with all of our accompanying accumulations of doubts, fears, wearinesses, discouragements, and confusions. And we can have a giggle and a sigh of understood unity as we make this shared moment one of mutual acceptance and understanding. For this, My Dear One, is why we are brought together in our pilgrimages … to make the journey more enjoyable, entertaining, and pleasant for each other. To that end, I remain, as always, Your faithful Friend and constant Servant,

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


I would that my comportment reflect, in all respects, far more, the workings of my Heart … than the trappings of my environs.

Vorrei che il mio comportamento riflettere, in tutti gli aspetti, molto di più, il funzionamento del mio cuore … rispetto alla trappings del mio dintorni.

Θα ήθελα να μου comportment αντικατοπτρίζει, σε όλες τις απόψεις, πολύ περισσότερο, η λειτουργία της καρδιάς μου … από το ενός ΜΟΥ περιχώρων.

Ich meine, man widerspiegeln, in jeder Hinsicht, weit mehr, die Funktionsweise von meinem Herzen … als die Merkmale meiner Umgebung.

Je voudrais que mon comportement reflètent, dans tous les égards, beaucoup plus, le fonctionnement de mon coeur … que les atours de mon environs

09 Sept 08

Monday, September 08, 2008

An Alternative View

In the course of the past week, I have had two, of the dearest people in my life, ask me heart-felt questions borne of similar circumstances in their respective lives. I have, separately, and individually, responded to each as my Lovely Muse has directed and encouraged me to. But, as we know all too well from past experience, She does not allow any matter of Life and living to pass away without lingering consideration and lessons. So, my Dear (and persevering) Reader, I share what continues to inhabit my mind with You.

Both of my lovely Friends are lamenting, and seeking healthy and constructive ways to deal with, the insidious (though quite natural) ravages of time and wear on the health and lives of Parents. It seems that both of these Parental Figures are frustrated and discouraged with their respective health problems. And their Spirits have lost what had been, heretofore, joyous and enthusiastic outlooks and attitudes. My one Friend asked for help in “finding” her Mother. She is seeking a way to recapture and breathe new vigour into the energy levels and perceptual powers of her Mom. She is saddened by the presence of a wearied and dispirited woman who was “only yesterday” a font of liveliness and creative intensity. My second Friend asked that I suggest a way for her to help her Dad (who, as a result of several recent strokes and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, is not faring well) to find a renewed and invigorated Faith and sense of imminent Wellness.

Though I offered completely separate, and seemingly different ideas to these two caring and loving Daughters, I am, now, seeing a harmony in the theme of what I brought to them. To the first, I suggested activities that would engage the Daughter, the Grandchildren, and the Mother in exercises of revisiting and celebrating memories of past moments of enjoyment and accomplishment … while recording them in some tangible forms that would provide an indelible record of and resource for revisiting the memories. To the second Daughter, I brought the thought of bringing her Dad a new and fresh view of his life and circumstance through eyes and perspectives of others (including the Daughter) who have a concrete and realistic awareness of Beauties and Possibilities, stolen (by the pains and disconsolations of his illness) from her Father.

And, I now realize that I have suggested, to both of these exceptional women … the same basic thing. A different way of sensing Life’s elements. See it all differently. Guide your Loved One in discovering the Optional (for it is readily available … at our option) Awareness. Smell the Fragrance that is hidden behind the stench of the Obvious. Feel the Comforts that lie behind the curtain of Pain’s insistence. Engage in all that seems repugnant and worthy of discard. I am suggesting something that runs contrary to all that seems natural and “normal.” Embrace these aspects of Life and Living! For they are natural and worthy of respectful consideration. Just see the beauty that is hidden in their potentials. Do not allow the ultimate Monster of Fear to cripple your steps along this part of Life’s pathway. Know the victory of pushing away Fear’s blinders … to permit Life to illuminate new vistas.

I know that my enthusiastic enjoyment of the fragrance of the pungency of decaying organic matter … would seem to be strange (at the very best … if not, weird) to those who are ‘turned off’ by what they consider the stench of “rot.” But I find encouragement in the magic of Life’s reminder that nothing passes away without offering new life, in the form of composted nourishment, through the “passing away” of what was Before. So, I find genuine enjoyment in walking through bogs and swamplands. And the fragrance of that “passing away” is the nectar of new life and rebirth.

Whilst I listen to others of my generation bemoaning the loss of their former levels of physical and emotional abilities … I relish the wonder of the “fermentation” of my past experiences and circumstances into what I have determined to transform into a “vintage” that will give satisfaction and joys to any who wish to spend a moment savouring my presentation of the elixir of my experiential brew. All of those fresh elements of past happenings have far more worth and merit as they are distilled in vats of time and perspective. And I have chosen to celebrate them not as something lost … but as something turned into the fine wine of new worth. I get a nice buzz off of what my past has created. [grin] Don’t you see, My Dear reader? It is a simple matter of accepting the readily available “eyes” of Life … instead of the popular offering of our world’s more common view … death. I choose Light over Darkness.

So, this is what I suggested to my two remarkable Friends. I was offering the idea that they might find some ways to invite their Loved Ones out onto the balcony of new vistas and views … offer them a glass of a refreshing beverage distilled from lovely memories and delightful experiences … and have an intimate celebration of the wonder that is Life. Life as it is … right now … and right here … built on and made up of all of the magnificent collection of all of those harvested and fermented experiences and circumstances. This is what is available to each of us … if only we choose to make it so.

And it is just that simple … a matter of choice. Energized and brought to bear with a bit of applied effort. For, don’t you know, effort is required. This is not something that is presented on a platter of convenience. We do not hear any frequent voices of encouragement to see and hear Life’s possibilities. For, alas, all the world about us is voicing the same song of discouragement and despair. So, effort and creative energy is required … but more than well worth all that is invested. I promise!

Monday, September 01, 2008

A 'belated' MeMe

Because some unknown Force cast (some while back) a shadow … blocking the beneficial rays of the Sun of Goodness from my life … I was “blessed” with the “Gift” of a ‘MeMe’ assignment. Had it been sent by any, other than the One, who so endowed me … I would have (no doubt) put it on some remote “back burner” of my stove of life. But, alas, it came from One who holds such regard as to command a response (though well-belated.) So … I comply, in keeping with the following set of guiding “rules.”

1 – Write the title to your own memoir using exactly six words.

2 – Post it on your blog.

3 – Link to the person who tagged you.

4 – Tag five other bloggers.

Hence, the Title (in “exactly six words”) of this supposed memoir might be:

“How I Came To Be Me.”

And (by virtue of the fact that you are (as we ‘speak’) reading this … I have met the requirement of “Rule 2.”

In adherence to the rules of this exercise (inasmuch as I am one who unflaggingly adheres to all “rules” [save all admonishments against lying]) I acknowledge the Giver, of this Gift Assignment, to be none other than the ever-auspicious SulDog hisself.

Also, in keeping with said “Rules” (whilst remaining in concert with the guiding principle of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”) the five “other bloggers” who I tag with this assignment are: Anonymous 1, Anonymous 2, Anonymous 3, Anonymous 4, and lastly (but by no means Least of the group), Anonymous 5. And, yes, they, each and every one of them, will remain forever in my debt for the honour.


Your Voice

You have, within you, a Voice … a whispering Messenger awaiting your attention. It’s constant desire is to give utterance to your Soul’s higher aspirations. But, alas, the cacophony, of your life’s daily requirements, drowns out that Voice’s requests for attention.

It is into this place that I step. It is in this place that I have chosen to respond to my heart's calling. For, you see, I am compelled to devote my energies to the provision of a receptive and advantageous stage for your inner Voice. A stage that will feature your Spirit’s finer motivations. This is the reason for this blog. And, in this blog, I offer whatever staging; whatever “orchestration”; whatever environmental enhancements I can provide … to support your appreciation of … your respect for … your celebration of … your own individual finer instincts.

For, My Dear Reader, I am aware of those finer potentials held within you. I relish those nobler thoughts and choices available to you. And I will do whatever I can to allow you the same awareness.

And, all the while, I thank you for your willingness to invest a moment of yourself in visiting this site and opening your heart to my entreaties. For, I remain, as always, Your constant Friend and loving Servant.

IMAGES through the extraordinary talents and gracious courtesy of Jon Sullivan, PDPhoto.org
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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.