Monday, March 31, 2008

"Walking Through"

Today I am sharing an article from DailyOM. This message is communicated so beautifully that I could not hesitate to pass it along. Therefore, it is with credit to DailyOM and my thanks to S.A. for sharing it with me, that I offer,for your consideration, the truths contained herein.


When a door opens, walk through it. Trust that the door has opened for a reason and you have been guided to it. Sometimes we have a tendency to over-analyze or agonize over the decision, but it is quicker to simply go through the door and discover what's there as that's the only way to know. Even if it doesn't seem right at first, opening this door may lead to another door that will take us where we need to go.

Doors open when the time is right for us to enter a new space, metaphorically speaking, and we can have faith that walking through is the right thing to do. Sometimes we linger in the threshold because we are afraid of leaving our old life for a life we know nothing about. We may have voices inside of our heads that try to hold us back or people in our lives saying discouraging things. These voices, internal and external, are known as threshold spirits, and they express all the fears and doubts that arise at the beginning of a new life. Nevertheless, none of these voices can hold us back, and they will fall silent as soon as we cross the threshold.

There are many doors that open in the course of our lives, leading us into new relationships, jobs, friendships, and creative inspirations. Our lives up to this point are the result of all the doors we have walked through, and our continued growth depends on our willingness to keep moving into new spaces. Every time we walk through an open door, we create a sense memory that encourages us to move into the new fearlessly. When we enter the new space, we almost always feel a thrill and a new feeling of confidence, in ourselves and in the universe. We have stepped across the threshold into a new life.

Remember, My Dear Reader, the message of the 5th and 6th verses of the 3rd chapter of the book of Proverbs...(I paraphrase) "Trust in the Almighty without reservation, and do not depend on your own abilities to understand. In all of your ways, acknowledge the supremacy of The One who created you, and your paths will be directed... your doors opened." As you so often hear me say... "Listen to and trust that still, small, quiet inner voice that carries Life's messages to your awareness." I bid you a day of welcoming thresholds.


IMAGES through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton, FreeFoto.com

Fine (Mental) Dining

I awoke one morning (not too long ago) fascinated by an awareness of the workings of my subconscious mind. With the knowledge that our subconscious uses the time of our sleep to process the accumulated “input” of data from all that we sense during our waking hours, I find the ‘catalog’ of subject materials (that I scan through, in my dreams) amazing in its scope. On this morning in question, for instance, I was conscious that I was experiencing a “dream-segment” that incorporated two subjects (each having their own fascinating and/or entertaining elements) … Tony Bennet and … the mafia … in my pre-waking moments.

Reflecting for an instant, I recalled seeing Tony Bennet on an afternoon chat show (Oprah, in fact) and later that same afternoon, a report on BBC (I think) about the apprehension of “The Don of Dons” in Sicily. And there they were … in my dream. How about that brain! Is it not an amazing device? It records all that we elect to introduce into our awareness … with a complete trust and confidence, in our careful exercise of prudence, in using our willful choice in selecting the Matter to be stored in our minds. Our faithful subconscious has no reservations in welcoming all that we choose to allow access to it. Which set me to thinking. (Yes, I hear you … “Here he goes again! [sigh]”)


It seems that, in this age of diet consciousness, we are being inundated with all sorts of admonitions regarding our eating behaviors … in the complete absence of any note being made as to our ‘feeding’ of our other senses, and the effect of our careless abuses of them. I can not recall anyone presenting news reports on the current trends in Data Dieting … which is the “label” that I would affix to the care and nurturing of our minds through responsible listening, or reading, or visual stimulations.

Yet, are we not just as susceptible to overindulgence and/or bad choices leading to poor ‘Attitudinal Health’ and/or mental stagnation? Is it not true that we ingest so much ‘stuff,’ in the course of any given day, that we find ourselves so bloated with imagery, sound-stimulation, and other sensory overload that we cannot function with any degree of effectiveness? Or is it just me who has to create times of “sensory isolation” when I simply cannot allow any sound … any conversation, any new imagery of any sort to have access to my “Sensory Processors?” For I am, in those moments, completely overloaded with all that I have taken in and have not had adequate opportunity to “process,” or “digest,” if you will.


And is this not the very same dynamic that brings us to a point of physical bloated-ness? Do we not grant out taste mechanisms the freedom to run rampant in the pursuit of satisfaction, to the demise of those trusting bodily mechanisms that operate in the understanding (or misunderstanding) that we are applying some measure of appropriate proportion in our intake? And, just like our bodies, our minds accept and store all that we collect relying on our wisdom of choice. While it is lacking in glamour and romance, it seems to me that some measure of prudent selection can benefit our minds as well as our bodily fitness.

Hence, as you may have noticed, I make an attempt to offer an assortment of postings here. Following my posting of a thought that may be a bit ‘heavy’ in content, I try to post something that is a bit easier to the sensibilities … then an occasional treat for the pure enjoyment of the moment. Trying to be ever sensitive to our abilities to comfortably ‘digest’ it all while following my desire to serve you a ‘buffet' that will nourish and encourage your individual walk through life.


Quite often, I encounter individuals who are in an unharnessed pursuit of some measure of Peace and Satisfaction for their troubled souls and minds. It is the frequent case that these folk cannot bring themselves to “sit at the table” and have a pleasant “dining experience” with one course of thought. They, instead, place themselves in an endless and altogether unsatisfying pursuit of sensory remedies that and engage in a race from one “cuisine” of thought and ideology to another with only a cursory sampling of the essence of any one potential answer to their quest. They pursue a course of ‘fast-food’ moments, experienced at an assortment of ‘drive-through’ windows of suggested relief. Then, completely exhausted and frustrated from the expended effort, they throw up their hands in hopeless despair and proclaim that they are forever lost. All the while, they have ploughed through countless chances for contentment and peace … had they only allowed themselves the gift of “digesting” any one or more of many possibilities blown through in haste.

So, My Dear Reader, I offer this bit of insight in the hope that you have not “scanned” this page … but have granted your mind … your spirit… your soul, the chance to reflect on and take notice of your care of your Self… mind and body. Please give consideration to and have patience … yes, most especially patience … with the presentations offered to you, by Life today. Permit yourself to take in just a bit… just enough to adequately allow complete and satisfying “digestion” for the nourishment of your whole Self. For, as I was reminded this morning, it is all recorded and will be processed in some way. Every element of stimuli that we grasp has the potential to fuel healthy growth and function … or be stored as harmful and slowing excess. I bid you a healthy and fulfilling day today… and in all of your tomorrows as you exercise responsible exposure to life’s wondrous array of possibilities.

(And, please try to remember your "after-dinner" pause for reflection as you allow your Spirit to simply "digest" what you have taken in. Just "Be still and know ..." )

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Passing Clouds

Welcome… I invite you to join me in a spiritual time and place… a place where we are unencumbered by any of those pesky elements of life known to us as ‘responsibilities’, ‘schedules’, ‘expectations’, and/or ‘imposed distractions’ visited upon us by ourselves or others.

In this place we are the lone occupants. Think of it as an open patch of ground (in my youth it was a vacant lot between my home and our neighbor’s.) And here we are … nowhere else to be … no sense of demands or requirements… just this moment and the presence of those clouds overhead. All of those slowly passing, ever-so-present objects in our otherwise uninvolved consciousness, drawing our attention to the myriad possibilities sculpted in their ever-changing forms.

You can see a [--whatever you see --] in that cloud, and I see something quite different. You try to demonstrate the legitimacy of your interpretation and solicit my agreement, while I point out the clarity of my perception and entreat you to acknowledge the viability of my interpretation. With extended explanations of our individual definitions, we can both admit the possibility of one another’s validity. All the while we are enjoying the shared stretching of our imaginations and the intimacy of our willingness to expose our minds’ mutual expressions of themselves … and the clouds, themselves ... are changing.

There is present, in this special moment, no criticism, no condemnation, nor any hint of disrespect for one another’s perceptions … quite to the contrary, it is our differences that make the game so alive, so challenging, rich, and so very enjoyable for us both. For, you see, we respect, appreciate, and honor one another’s diverse views without preconceived prejudice borne of any academic, ethnic, political, religious, or other outwardly-imposed bias. We are freely open to our own inward inclinations borne only of our individually-private inner voices. We are celebrating the expression of those spiritual voices in our translations of passing clouds.

Passing clouds are, after all, in the eternal scheme of things, all that our past experiences, exposures, happenings, and circumstances amount to. They had, in the moment of their dominance, absolute form and definition. But they have since passed on (just as this moment, with all of its priorities and demands, will, at the next blink of our collective eye, be but a memory.) And, just as this moments vexations and troubles are destined to "blow away" with the winds of life's continuance, history will relegate all that is, today, so demanding (when read on the pages of our newspapers, or viewed, or listened to in other media) into indistinguishable forms tomorrow.

Therefore, I, (in the little essays and thoughts that I offer) drift some of my ‘clouds’ through the sky of this moment that we are sharing. I express to you, my Dear Reader, the shape that I see in those clouds. Not that I hold my definition out as “the one true perception;” but only my own perception, subject to all of the failings and vulnerabilities of my knowledge-base, experience, and temperament. And, in so doing, I encourage you, Dear Friend, to accept the legitimacy and worth of my views, and the equal worth of the views of all of our fellow pilgrims, in this shared adventure known to us all as “life.” It is my hope that this gentle, all-accepting, unassuming presentation of my perceptions will awaken, in you, some awareness that will make your life pilgrimage more pleasant, spiritually rewarding, and, perhaps, even more enjoyable.

So, as you peruse these articles that I offer ... it is my hope that you will be able to turn everything else off … shut all else out … and allow yourself to be occupied with the consideration of what my private inner voice (my Muse) describes, and interprets, from the shapes of life’s clouds ... as they have appeared in my life.

NAMASTE



IMAGE through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton, FreeFoto.com

Saturday, March 29, 2008

So ... How Is YOUR Day Going?


I simply couldn't help myself... this one made me smile, and I HAD to share it! (Her expression is PRICELESS!)



Edith Hoeltenschmid cuts bread as she sits on a chair fixed to the side of a house in Hagen, Germany, as part of a performance by artist Angie Hiesl.


IMAGE: AFP/ BBC NEWS/ In Pictures

Friday, March 28, 2008

Artfully You

A great and grand Gallery,

This world of mine.
Replete with fine works,
Masterpieces sublime.

Each element in balance.
All placed and arranged.
Familiar works, well known,
Some new, as yet, strange.

And here I find You,
Placed alone in this spot.
Not fitting with others,
An Unknown, like as not.

You have seen me admiring
All manner of style.
Heard my laudations,
You wait with a smile.

Accolades and tributes,
Easy flow from my lips.
You await my attention,
As my focus now shifts.

Afresh and anew,
You capture my gaze.
Acclamation and awe,
I pay homage and praise.

Yet again, I‘m astonished.
The Master has done.
A creative wonder,
My adoration you’ve won.

An excited awareness,
Life’s gift, fresh and new.
Creation’s perfection,
Artfully sculpted in You.



John-Michael
28 March 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

In Little Ways

I received, not too very long ago, a plea from a Friend who was burdened and feeling overwhelmed by the immensity of mankind’s currently demonstrated disregard for others. The meanness, cruelty, and abuse reflected in the news was discouraging her heart. “What hope is there? How can we make any difference?” her wounded spirit cried. So, today, I offer these two snippets from my own past as demonstration of some simple, easy, and readily available ways that we can reach out to the world that lives close to us.

My sensitivity to this matter of opportunities in my immediate personal world came into play the day that I entered an elevator in one of the up-scale office towers in the mid-town business district. There amid an assembled group of up-and-coming ‘corporate wannabes’ was an elderly gentleman of very slight physical stature who, in contrast to the group of “G.Q. - Trendies" parading their fine “haberdasherie“, was quite “off the rack.” It was immediately obvious that the man was more than a little uncomfortable in these surroundings and I was acutely aware of his discomfort. To add to the dynamic, the group around him were all much taller than he and looked down at him with more than just a physical air of disdain.

“Please forgive my intrusion, my friend” I began, (I love the gift of this means of introduction… [Thank you Leo Buscaglia]) “but, if you will allow my interference, you are only one small adjustment from being perfectly tailored.” I then reached over without a moment’s hesitation and (as though I did this sort of thing as a routine matter) turned down the standing collar on the back of the neck of his suit. After smoothing the wrinkles away, I declared “There you are Sir, quite dapper. And, if I may say so myself, perfectly ready to enjoy your lunch.” (For the elevator was on its way to the top-floor (private club) restaurant.) The gentleman looked up at me and said (to the accompaniment of the warmest and most gentle eyes imaginable) “You are from around here, aren’t you?” Knowing that he was trying to communicate a felt sense of community with me, I responded “Yes sir, you and I are a couple of local folk and I am happy to know you.” He responded with a smile and as he exited the elevator (exuding a newly-found sense of confidence and belonging) bade me a "good day." And it was, indeed, a good day.

In that same building, there was (at the top of the entrance escalators) a desk for the use of the building’s concierge. At this desk a young woman fulfilled the role of attending to the needs (some real, but far too many supposed) of all coming to that place to conduct business. Day after day I observed this person as she greeted each passing person with a genuine smile that never wavered nor faltered no matter the lateness of the hour or the crush of the masses.

Many were the times when I exited that 'conveyor belt' of humanity to have my spirits lifted by her gracious “Hello.” Then, one day, for no particular reason, that I can now recall, that Little Voice (within my spirit) said “she needs encouragement today.” No further discussion was required.

To the floral shop (around the corner from the concierge desk) I went. Having secured a small bouquet, I attached a card upon which I wrote a note expressing my appreciation for her uplifting and encouraging contribution to my work life, and with a “Please forgive my intrusion” I delivered it to her and promptly took my leave. I have no idea what matters she was dealing with that day. There could have been any of innumerable difficulties that she was confronting. The point is that none of that was my business. It was only my responsibility (to that Power that spoke to me) to respond in a caring, human, but unassuming manner. Herein lies the core of my personal voice ... as I have discovered it ... and learned to use it.

In any number of the smallest of ways, You ... and I ... and Love ... can change our world. You just wait. Just watch. You will see. We can do this thing! (And it is so much fun in the doing!)


IMAGES: Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton, FreeFoto.com

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hush Me

I am speaking too much.
My enthusiasm is intrusive.
This Energy I radiate, I know, is tiring.
So, please, just ‘hush me.’

Only one finger, across my lips,
Or to the end of my chin,
Will draw my attention to your eyes.
And they will just ‘hush me.’

When I ask too much.
Delve too deeply.
Suggest too frequently.
I beg you … just ‘hush me.’

Draw my arm close to your side.
Place your head against my shoulder.
Take my hand in the tenderness of yours.
My heart will draw to you, and just ‘hush me.’

I can sing ... I can dance;
Devise all sort of elaborate plans;
Make noble statements ... proclaiming my Love.
All goes still and silent … when you just ‘hush me.’




John-Michael
23 March 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Family Memories

On this weekend-past there was a focus on rejoicing in the birth of a fresh start of Life's cycle of regeneration. And, for many, there was an enthusiasm for the creation of moments spent in the bosom of Family and Loved Ones. Much attention was given to, what was hoped to be, moments worthy of permanent recollection. Many family conversations were sprinkled with "Do you remember when ...?", and some notable moment would be, yet again, revisited in (oft embellished) detail. Which brought, to my recollection, this moment in the life of two family members who ... even in the midst of the world's focus ... are, still ... Family.

I can not help but wonder if Prince Harry will ever forget (or be allowed to forget) the rather obvious delight enjoyed by his grandmother, the Queen, in her ability to bring a radiant blush to the cheeks of her grandson as he graduates, as an army officer, from Sandhurst. Regardless of station, strata, or position ... Family always knows where those "buttons of response" are just waiting to be pushed. I do love the intimate and very real emotions shown on the faces of both participants in this "Family Album Moment."

I do hope, My Dear Reader, that You, your family, and all those for whom your heart has a place, are enjoying the creation of worthy and delight-filled moments and happenings for both your present satisfaction ... and future reflection.


IMAGE: Dylan Martinez/ Reuters/ BBC NEWS/ In Pictures

Monday, March 24, 2008

Still ... "Making Love to My World"

A dear Friend, Ray, an elderly gentleman who I noticed as he walked silently by (week after week… going about his business in a dignified, stately, and private manner), made an impression on my Spirit, with the beauty of his Spirit. “Please forgive my intrusion, My Friend” I said with a hand raised in a ‘please stop’ gesture, “but I am compelled to tell you that your eyes, your comportment, the very countenance of you, all speak together to say that the man behind all is a man of worthy and noble character. I want you to know that your regular passing of this spot, where I sit, has blessed me and made my world a better place for your presence in it.”


Ray (being a very shy and introverted man) blushed with this extremely out-of –the-ordinary declaration and thanked me. “You are quite welcome” was my simple reply and I immediately returned my attention to the work that was before me so that he would feel no requirement for further engagement. This “sense it, say it, leave it” (my words…not his) methodology was gleaned from the teachings of Leo Buscaglia, a Teacher, Lecturer, and Motivator of the mid-to-late 1900’s. The key elements, as taught by him, were to ask (and by the asking make clear your respect for and appreciation of the ‘space’ of the other) for “forgiveness for the intrusion.” Then, after your message has been stated, remove yourself straightway to make clear the absence of any hidden agenda, thereby giving a complete sense of safety to the individual upon whom you have just intruded.


Ray and I, over time, became quite good Friends. And it was on one of our more lengthy visits (which, with Ray, were hardly more than fifteen minutes [for him constituting something of a marathon of dialog]) that he and I had the following exchange. “John-Michael, I have to tell you that I envy the frequent and varied relationships that you seem to enjoy. I am so shy and retiring that I could never be as open and free with myself as you are. It is clear that you do genuinely love all of these people with whom I see you interacting and they, you, in return. That is something that I must say that I do envy.” “Ray, My Dear Friend, I make love to all of the world around me every moment of every day. But, Ray, you speak of the glory and warmth of your relationship with your wife who you clearly adore. And by your comments, make clear, to any observer, the fact that she participates equally in her adoration of you. You go home, Ray, after witnessing my daily love-fest with life, to her. And you immerse yourself in the totality of that love. I go home alone. Ray… I envy you.”


“Making love to life” is the most accurate portrayal of my living. The intimate engagement in the most compelling of life’s elements … the core of life (for want of a better term) … is the level at which I sense, acknowledge, and respond to my world. I take no notice of roles or titles for I have played many roles in business, religion, society, and family … and have done so wearing the many varied ‘hats’ appropriate to the roles (and did it all quite well and even to the laudation of each relevant world). And, in the doing, I learned the temporal nature of such things … passing; for the moment; and then to be gone as though never there. But love, whether revealed in unspoken, distant appreciation or intimate exchange for the briefest or more prolonged engagement … is forever.


I am simultaneously saddened and challenged by the climate of today’s social, political, religious, and cultural atmosphere. Anger, vehemence, criticism, castigation, condemnation, confrontation, and refusal to respect, appreciate, or even consider the perspective of another is the comfortably accepted norm. I simply cannot participate in (what I consider) this sickness. The twisting of the soul of a participant is the price-tag for involvement that I would rescue all within my domain from paying. I have chosen to demonstrate the satisfactions, joys, happiness, and comfort of embracing others in the exercise of admiration, recognition, appreciation, adulation, and yes, even love.


This choice of behavior is not without pitfalls. I have found no models after which I may follow. There are, to my knowledge, no systems for the practice of such behavior that would have all potential misunderstandings and miscues worked out. I, therefore, find myself blazing a new trail with all of the elements of risk and even danger befitting such an adventure. But the quest is far and away worth the scrapes and bruises encountered along the way. I can endure the passing looks of skepticism, doubt, uncertainty, and even rejection encountered (with extreme rarity) amongst the more frequent, and almost-constant, smiles of appreciation, satisfaction, enjoyment, and even surprised delight that my behavior evokes. This is “making love to my world” as I am called by the conviction of my heart to practice it.

(originally penned, 2004)


IMAGES: Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton, FreeFoto.com

Sunday, March 23, 2008

the Significant YOU



In that moment when you feel that your surrounding circumstances render you insignificant...


(AS THE HIKER WALKING THE STREAM)


by the overwhelming magnificence and wonder (or terror) of it all.




Consider this…


Perhaps, you are
so very significant
that Life has blessed You with a gift.

The gift of the ability to recognize and appreciate. That you may celebrate this mural of overwhelming beauty and majesty.

And have comfort in your awareness of your individual place in it all.

Giving you reassurance of the truth ... that You are eternally significant.

Because Life considers YOU worthy of nothing less!


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

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Absence

Here I am, several hours past the time when I should be asleep. But, No! She will not let me sleep. She stirs, prods, and insists that I recall, refresh and make anew my first introduction to her. My lovely, ‘mistress of my mind’ … Lady Muse. It is with an inexplicable sense, of undefined urgency, that she demands that I set before you, Dear Reader, something of long ago. Something that proved to be the emergence of, what I now comfortably know as, my passion to write.

I had dealt with this whispering and hinting ‘inner voice’ all of my life. She patiently endured all manner of labels and titles for many years. Some philosophical, others religious, and yet others social in basis. And she, undeterred, kept faithfully opening windows of revelation and insight; throwing illumination on dark and obscure ideas. Until that day of her “coming out.”

For many years I struggled with trying to form a coherent image ... an understanding ... something that I could relate to in expressing the particular need, that I was aware of, for a specific, and uniquely suited, woman to complete me as the man that I yearned to be. Then, on 06 September of 1989, at lunch in a fast-food restaurant, it came to me. (And I became aware of my Lady Muse then.) I turned my paper place-mat over and on it penned this expression. I truly hope that it gives language to your spirit as I share with you ...


THE ABSENCE

He walks proudly, as the sovereign of beings,
Parading confidence in his very presence.
Seemingly he needs none other than himself…
The power exuded in his solitude and might,
Bespeaks no requirement beyond his own strengths.

Yet, with him, each step of the way, is a powerful Absence;
Just as real and tangible as any presence, this Absence has form,
Size, Dimension, Breath, Warmth, Character, and Being.
And… in its existence, the Absence holds power and authority
Equal to all held by its host.

Indeed, he is but a fraction of what he is capable of being…
With this Absence keeping pace with him… stride for stride.
While he seems fully equipped to dominate, control, and enjoy his term as master…
His ability to measure up to the illusion, the expectations, is diluted…
By the Absence that denies him the power that would be his, in Her Presence.

Her Presence, in displacing the Absence, fills his every void …
Those of need, desire, inspiration, motivation, fulfillment and joy.
And serves to energize him toward all that is expected of so grand a Creature as he.
Her Presence, in displacing the Absence, makes of him all
That the image of him proclaims … providing the substance to support the vision.

Her Presence … but, oh, such a void when it remains the Absence …
Waiting, hungering, echoing for the filling… when…

“THE TWO SHALL BE AS ONE.”




John-Michael
06Sept1989
Revised: 25Apr2001
Revised: 10Aug2004
Revised: 21 Mar 2008


Now that I have concluded my preparations of this bit of Me, for posting, I am aware of a sleepiness that had been kept from me ‘til now. So, Dear Reader and Friend, I bid you the sweetest of dreams; and solutions to whatever vexation that had you seeking when you retired for the night. So, for whomever Lady Muse instructed me to prepare and post this perspective, I do hope that, in this work you will find your own peace (feel free to as your own Muse for help in this undertaking ... that's why she was created ... to speak these truths to you, and give you a confidence in all of your tomorrows.)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Life's "Sweet Shoppe" People

There are few places, in the course of our lives’ travels, where we enter in with the foreknowledge and predisposition that we are there for the express purpose of indulgent fun and pleasure. The Sweet Shoppe (also known as the “Candy Store”) is, without question, one of my favorite of those places. Even the anticipation accompanying the opening of that door brings a moment of giddy delight. Then, upon immersion in the surrounding sensory overload of fragrances, colors, shapes, and possibilities I find that I can be quite sated with just that experience alone (though I, admittedly, never stop at that.)

And so it is with some of the “Sweet Shoppe People” in my life. These are individuals who stir a smile at even the notice of their name in my address book. A momentary consideration of all of the treats incumbent to their individuality brings a delight not unlike that momentary giddiness (yes, even in the soul of a crusty old relic like me) at the door of the Sweet Shoppe. And, then, in the environment that surrounds contact with them, I am brought to a completeness of satisfaction that begs no activity, nor exchange beyond the gift of that Presence.

So, this morning, as I permitted my inner voice (that is the voice of Life) to speak clearly to my waiting spirit ... I was reminded of that treasure that is my life’s assortment of “Sweet Shoppe People.” And then, a sense of urgency to bring this thought to you, My Very Dear Reader. Take a look about you … spend a moment in reflection over that cup of coffee, or during that boring meeting or class (you didn’t hear it here), or with your own address book … and relish an appreciation of your own Sweet Shoppe People.

Then give your heart license to respond to that appreciation in some way (a phone call: “I appreciate you”; a potted plant sent with a note of appreciation; an Email with a quick "I love you"; a passing squeeze of a shoulder; or a 'comment' left at the threshold of a post made by your friend on their blog; or any other gesture acknowledging your appreciation of that individual.) Open your heart’s window of expression to the beautiful light of opportunity. Present a “Sweet Shoppe Moment” to that person.

Indulge your Soul’s “Sweet Tooth.”


IMAGES through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton, FreeFoto.com

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My Dialect

When I speak … I speak in the dialect of my interlocutor.
When I write … I write in the dialect of my soul.

The two are slowly ... tediously ... becoming one;
That I may know ... and be known.



IMAGE: Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton, FreeFoto.com

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The "Rear-View Mirror" Couple

As I slowly progressed through one of the busiest intersections in our community, I noticed the couple in a modest mid-sized sedan that turned the corner and took up position behind my car. There was something irregular about them. Curious, I watched them (in my Rear-View Mirror) as we drove slowly along. It was the most beautiful thing. These mature, and obviously well-ensconced in a long relationship, people were enjoying each others’ company. There was that air of “first-date” engagement in each other that was displayed in a quiet, comfortable, and completely natural way. I was so taken with their extraordinary harmony of inter-relating that I found myself enchanted. When it became evident that we were headed for the same grocery market, I decided to speak to them. As they parked and made their way to the store, I remained in my vehicle in a position that necessitated their passing.

“Please forgive my intrusion, My Friends” I spoke from my car’s window “but I could not help but notice the lovely inter-play between the two of you as you rode together in your car. Your obvious affection for and enjoyment of each other compels me to thank you both for encouraging my heart and making better the world that I live in. Bless you both.” I then returned their smiles and quick expression of thanks while slowly driving away (to reassure them that I did, indeed, respect their right to privacy and security.) I did not see them again until something around a year later.

On that occasion, I, again, looked into my rear-view mirror… and there they were. Now, mind you, there had, in the interim, been myriad faces in the view of that mirror. But these two… these among the certainly hundreds and possibly thousands that I had seen there… stood out like that well-clichéd lighthouse on the shore. And, as before, I could not let the opportunity to let them know that they had touched someone‘s heart pass. So, inasmuch as the traffic light had just turned red, I told my son (my passenger on the occasion... and well-accustomed to Dad's spontaneous expressions) that I would be back directly, and got out. Quickly moving to the driver’s window, I expressed my sentiments and turned to leave… whereupon, I heard the lady exclaim “Oh Dear… it’s the “BEING ME” (the license number that I chose for my vehicle) guy!” It pleased me that they recalled our earlier meeting as we exchanged farewells and I hurried back to my car.

So, what in all of this is of value to you at this reading? A few considerations. First… there are, sadly, so few in our world that share obviously healthy and openly dynamic relationships that they are easily spotted. Secondly… there is hope and encouragement to us all that there is possibility for just such a blessed union. Then, there is the encouragement, that I offer you, to pay attention to your own world… notice… care… involve yourself… speak the message that Life puts in your heart (lest you have one of those frustrating “I wish that I had” moments later.) Encourage! This is something that every one of us can do. And allow yourself to reflect on the You that is projected into that environment effected by you. Is there a joy within you that is obvious to your world? If “yes” I celebrate with you… If “no” you have my heart’s wish that you discover where that joy lies… and claim it!

No sermon here. Just an opportunity to consider. I bid you a day filled with joy and love.

Monday, March 17, 2008

But ... Was It Marriage?

I have been engaged in a silent, stubborn, and reluctant struggle throughout all of this day. Those of you who have done me the honor of reading my heart’s expressions, have been so kind as to say things like “You are a rare man who is willing to ‘put it all out there’ without hesitation or apology." Well, my Dear, trusting Friend, I have been hesitating all day today.

My usual course is to post a fresh thought prior to leaving for work each morning. I often hear the guiding voice of my Dear inner Muse late in the day before putting an idea to paper. (That’s right … I do like to feel the heft of sweet old Waterman between my fingers, and the tactile delight of that magical ink being pulled from the nib by the waiting page.) I have all night to allow myself to listen to my Muses guiding revelations as I “sleep on” some topic that is usually completely alien to all that I have had on my mind during the days previous. Then, in the early hours, I assemble it all and type it into the computer. Not so today.


For, You see, Dear Reader, today I was not pleased with what Friend Muse had suggested last evening, and reinforced this morn. No, indeed! “It will be misunderstood!” I argued. “What will my new friends think of me?” I whined. And so it has gone for all of these past seventeen hours. “Who are you writing for?” that unyielding Muse insisted. “For your own popularity and acceptance, or for that One who is in need of what I have put on your heart to offer?” (and the “You self-centered coward” was silently implied, though not spoken)

So, here I am. Defeated! And damn glad that I am. For, you see, I would never have a moment’s satisfaction in failing to follow what I have committed my Self to … listening to Life’s leading; sculpting Life’s truth in a way that can be received and accepted; and humbly offering said Truth to whomever is trusting Life to hear their prayer and provide some helpful, sustaining, shred of hopeful insight that will allow them to take the next step in their walk down life’s pathway.


So, this evening, as shadows gather and weariness steals into my being, I offer what I have been so tardy in bringing to … that One who has been waiting.


But … Was It Marriage?

Yes! We exchanged rings. But… I was never… in my awareness; my innermost being; my soul and consciousness; married. Oh, if you looked in the County’s record books, there would be the indication that the person, known by all to be me, was legally married to the other person named there. Yet that person and I had acknowledged to each other the reality that we did not recognize our lives in the same way. We knew life and all of its elements through senses completely alien to each other.

We lived lives of accommodating separateness in the same dwelling for many years. We devoted our attentions and energies to the parenting and nurturing of our two children with a great measure of success and enjoyed the shared fullness of satisfaction in seeing our children flourish as individuals. But there existed absolutely no intimacy of conversation; shared time; spiritual awareness; physical contact; or interest in common, beyond the interests of our children, and the material requirements of daily life. For me, this bears not even the most remote, or distantly abstract similarity to marriage. Hence, I was not married. I was, however, in a relationship of committed necessity, born of devotion to the overriding needs and concerns of my two children. And that commitment; that mission; that devotion was the single constant source of joy and satisfaction in my life.

I am now (after many years of self condemnation borne of ignorance) conscious of the absolute reality that my most basic makeup; my innermost self; the element that drives my emotions, desires, needs, and tastes is, beyond all else, that of a certifiable, unchanging Romantic. This irrefutable fact has been clinically established by years or counseling, testing, and observation; documented and verified through experience. I am, therefore, constantly and perpetually vulnerable to the inclination to intimacy with every person and in every situation in my life. I am romantically predisposed toward life. This is common to all identified … (initially by Hypocrites and then by Aristotle, Plato, and myriad others after them … using differing labels … but all with the same definitions … ) as Idealists. I am one of them.

With this present awareness (which I was not conscious of during the first forty years of my life and was, therefore, left to cope in blind frustration) I can now understand the filter through which all of life’s experience has been known to me. And, furthermore, why I have always been vulnerable to the energies of those with whom I have shared life’s moments. And I would never wish to change even one of those often-painful moments at the cost of denying the Person that I now know and understand … the Person that was wondrously and specifically created to be … Me.

I write this to breathe a breath of hope and encouragement into the Spirit of One who may be struggling with conflicts between their inner senses and the preponderance of voices instructing them in the way that they “should be.” To you, Dear Reader (whoever you are) I say from the depths of my soul, BE who You are … embrace the wonder of who You are … protect and defend the unique and marvelous Individual that You are … and patiently, with gentle loving care, help those who share your world with You to know and accept You. This I write in hope and trust in the validity and worth of … You.



IMAGE: Doug Hough, The Lens flair

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Glass-Wing Butterfly ... and Me


I was , some while ago, given the gift of a group of photographs, of a butterfly. “Not so remarkable.” you might say. But my, oh my, you would be so very wrong My Friend. For, you see, this particular butterfly is devoid of any colorful markings. No spectacular hues adorn its wings atall.

For this creature is blessed with transparent wings. That’s right! His (or her … as the case may well be) wings are outlined with the barest of borders giving just a brief splash of decoration in the form of a small white feathery-looking mark against a brown background that forms the exterior edge of each wing. Just enough to remind one of the intricacy of Life’s design capabilities while not detracting from the lace-like frame-work supporting the entirety of the wing. Thusly, this creature highlights the beauty of every surface upon which it settles (including the fingertip holding it in one of the photos.)

None of the vibrant colors of the garden in which this marvel of nature travels is obscured by its presence… only highlighted. And that Voice within me speaks in response. “
This is you… in your world.” And I am immediately and clearly mindful of the significance of the message illustrated by the butterfly. For this is, indeed, my place in my world. To go about seeing to the needs of the blossoms and blooms in this, my personal corner of Life’s garden. And to do so ... as I am placed and impressed to do ... and in the order and method appropriate to each set of particular requirements ... for that Individual’s healthy development and growth. All the while to maintain a transparency that permit’s the showing forth of each Creation’s glory and excellence by maintaining personal obscurity.

To those who do take a passing notice of me, it is my place to present only a sufficient framework of evident design necessary to reinforce the understanding of the perfect symmetry and form of Life’s constant control and timing. Mine is not to be the resplendent bouquet of the totality of the garden… but to transparently see to my minuscule contribution for the betterment of those with whom I have occasion to make contact. And how I do savour my role!

Yes… all of this from the image of a butterfly. I am so glad when I remember that there is a wealth of insight … just waiting for discovery by all who will simply agree to “
Be still and know …

Saturday, March 15, 2008

At Week's End

Yes, another week written into our life-journal. We have joined the 'materials,' given to us by Life, for this stage of our construction of the edifice that is to be defined as “Our Life.”

An appropriate time to sit back and allow the words of my favorite poet to guide our reflections on what we have accomplished ... through our application of talents, efforts, perspiration, and, perhaps, a few tears ... in the space of the past few days.

I give you, in Love, “The Builders.”


The Builders
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

All are architects of fate,
Working in these walls of time;
Some with massive deeds and great,
Some with ornaments of rhyme.

Nothing useless is, or low;
Each thing in its place is best;
And what seems but idle show
Strengthens and supports the rest.

For the structure that we raise,
Time is with materials filled;
Our todays and yesterdays
Are the blocks with which we build.

Truly shape and fashion these;
Leave no yawning gaps between;
Think not, because no man sees,
Such things will remain unseen.

In the elder days of Art,
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part;
For the gods see everywhere.

Let us do our work as well,
Both the unseen and the seen;
Make the house where gods may dwell
Beautiful, entire, and clean.

Else our lives are incomplete,
Standing in these walls of Time,
Broken stairways, where the feet
Stumble, as they seek to climb.

Build today, then, strong and sure,
With a firm and ample base;
And ascending and secure
Shall tomorrow find its place.

Thus alone can we attain
To those turret, where the eye
Sees the world as one vast plain,
And one boundless reach of sky.





IMAGE: Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton, FreeFoto.com

Friday, March 14, 2008

"My Brain Doesn't Work"

“My brain doesn’t work” was his answer to the question posed, by the one person in his world in whom he had a trusted confidence, coupled with an affection, that motivated his desire to be understood. I sat on the other side of our booth in the tiny restaurant and observed this exchange with over thirty years of accumulated emotion founded in love, devotion, responsibility, invested effort, and parental pride. My son was seated next to Annie. To appreciate this scene fully, you must have a sense of my son’s fondness for this young woman … his guest for lunch.

In one of my constant series of created exercises, designed to prod and reinforce the development of a brain that cerebral palsy had affected, I made it a “game” to challenge my son with questions that were playfully presented as attempts to catch him unaware. “Well, Son … yesterday I … or let me see … was it yesterday? … what day is this? … Oh … and tomorrow will be? … Oh … OK … so the day after tomorrow will be? …” and on it would go. (I had learned that “sequencing” was one of the functions of his brain that was severely impaired by his handicap.) When he would proudly cut the game short with correct responses, I would “high five” him and say “Wow! Tried to catch you, but you are too sharp for me today” And he would do the “guy thing” and put on a smug smile of victory.

So, it was very much 'in character' when (as we were driving toward our daily visit to the workout facilities at the neighborhood YMCA) he asked “Dad! What is today?” I employed a few staged hesitations feigning calculation and proudly announced “Monday!” “Nope!! It’s Annie!” was his response with a wistful smile of romantic anticipation. For, you see, Annie was his trainer at the YMCA. And my son was completely enchanted with his “Annie!” And we were on our way to be with her.


With that understanding, you will appreciate his delight when I asked him who he would like to invite to join us for a lunch made possible by the cancellation of his regularly-scheduled speech therapy. There was not so much as a moment’s hesitation in his reply of “Annie!” Thusly, we were in the company of this lovely young woman of delicate sensitivities and grace on the day and at the time of note. After expressing her happiness that we had the opportunity, made possible by the cancellation of his therapy, Annie’s question to my son was, as she called him by name, “Now, why, exactly, do you go too speech therapy?”

He looked at her with such a tenderness and sincerity that it is, all these years hence, still fresh in my recollection. And with an openness that projected his desire to be completely understood he responded with the aforementioned “My brain doesn’t work.” Then, after a moment of profound silence, he looked to me with a look that said “Help me here Dad, I don’t know how to explain further.” I was doing my best to maintain my composure. (I must note here that, prior to this moment, my son had never acknowledged… in any way… any level of awareness of his disabilities. And here he was, at over thirty years of age, revealing a depth of awareness that was profoundly complex in its scope. So, I was torn between the pain of hearing the love of my soul verbalize his burden … and the desire to cheer and applaud this demonstration of a mental grasp that had never before been revealed. But I was in the moment that was his … and my reactions and emotions were secondary to his moment.)

“Well Son … you are a very smart guy. You are quite intelligent. But cerebral palsy has made your brain so that it sometimes ... doesn’t cooperate. And that is what the speech therapy is helping us to find out … ways to make your brain cooperate when it doesn’t want to … by getting your brain to show us what it has a hard time with. And you are getting better at making your brain cooperate by taking charge of it and showing it that you are the Boss. That‘s why we are going to speech therapy.” “Yeah!! That’s it! My brain doesn’t want to cooperate!” he responded, with a look of victory, and discovery that illuminated his Being.

And from that moment forward, he and I had a “frame of reference” that gave him a “tool” to use when frustration and exasperation wanted to overwhelm him. He would, frequently, say “Ohhh… my brain isn’t cooperating today!” And he didn’t, any longer, have that so-long-silently-held concern that he … the person … was flawed. It was simply “that uncooperative brain” acting up again.


So … My Very Dear Reader … why have I subjected myself to this exercise of pained agony, in recollection of the emotions incumbent to the reliving of this event? Simply because I have pledged, to you, my faithful presentation of lessons learned, in my pilgrimage, that have the potential to be of assistance to you, in your walking of path. And I know that you, just as I, have times when your brain … your subconscious … your self-image … your deeply-held concept of yourself … “doesn’t cooperate” with your wished for … your intended … your hoped for images, of who you want to be ... what you want to do … how you want to live.

And just as was true in the miniscule moment portrayed (in uncomfortable detail) for you, you can take control of your “uncooperative” thoughts. You can assume responsibility for the management of your thought processes, and take the reigns of mastery of your “mental behavior” just as my son (who lives with a permanent impairment, that he could easily fall back on and allow to provide an all-too-easy excuse for irresponsibility) did.

I do not suggest that this is easy. I do acknowledge that practiced history may shout discouragements that try to drown out the voices of determination and desire. But I, simultaneously, offer the quiet reassurance to you that, even as my mentally impaired son has done, you can experience ever more frequent moments of victory and conquest over the obstacles and hurdles of any prevailing circumstance. Please try. Please choose to make that effort! The YOU within ... that wondrous YOU, with all of your treasury of unique 'irregularities' that are your individual gifts from Life ... awaits your determined and resolute choice to Be ... the Being that you can enjoy being.


And I pledge my unfailing and unswerving support and encouragement, as I remain, Your lovingly faithful Friend and constant Servant.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Another look at "Who Are You?"

In response to a comment from one of you, I am offering, for your consideration, this bit from a couple of years ago. The tender and painfully-caring remarks of my kind and loving Friend, yesterday, brought this meaning-filled moment immediately to mind. And, after "sleeping on it" and allowing my Muse an overnight consideration of the matter, I awoke convinced, that what I would have told my sweet Friend, yesterday, I simply must present, today ... for You. Here 'tis ...

“Who are you?” was the question thrust upon me by the challenging five year old kindergarten student as he set his back stiffly in its most erect pose. Pretty impressive stuff from a child toward a physically imposing adult male who was a total unknown to the child. Not to be channeled into his obviously well-rehearsed performance, I countered with “More to the point, (pretty cool, eh… using phraseology that was alien to the lad) … just who are you?!” Now we were engaged in the stand-off. Two duelers faced with the unspoken, but clearly understood standard that 'he who gives the answer first is the loser.’ But, here I genuinely wanted to know just who this fellow was. Not just his label … his name, but who he wanted me to know him to be.

We waited. Others at the service desk of the elementary school library ... waited. All eyes were now fixed on the young lad. He was, quite obviously, uneasy with this turn in a game that had historically garnered for him control of those upon whom he leveled his attack. Then, into the breach came a young man (an 'advanced’ age of eight years… but clearly an 'upper-classman’ in this arena) who turned to the boy (who for convenience, I will call Robert) and said “Hey man, the guy really wants to know who you are … you know … like what kind of a person are you?” I was shouting a silent inner cheer for this interceder who so beautifully cleared the air.


“I am bad” came the reply from Robert’s not-so-defiant lips. I was stunned … silence reigned at the library counter. All … students, and staff … were stilled with this declaration from a five-year-old boy … and I knew that this was a moment of pivotal significance. Not only for Robert; but also for the lad who had prompted him into this announcement; for the children who stood in silent recognition that this boy had made an honest, candid, and obviously painful statement of his inner perception of himself. I looked into Robert’s eyes ... really looked … focused into him. I gave him a moment to recognize the fact that, for me, right then, in that moment there existed no one in the world but Him.

Then I smiled a smile of appreciation and respect and said “Wow!, You are really smart! You are making a really good joke on someone! I am impressed! You must be … like a movie actor or something. Because I am a really smart man. And I know about how people are. And I am really good at spotting good people, and bad people (I then turned to the librarian and asked her to validate the truths that I had just stated, as to my credibility … for The Moment was at hand.) I can tell that you are really a very good guy … I know this… I can tell every time. So you must be making a super good joke on someone to make them think that a really good guy … is bad. I think that you must be a terrific actor.” And, My Dear Reader, I wish that I had at my disposal the ability to adequately portray the look of utter … Hope … that came across Robert’s face. Here this person of a mere five years was … soundly convinced that he, a human being, just the initial sprouting of an individual … was inherently, hopelessly, and forever bad. And some big old, imposing, white-bearded man was telling him that it was but a joke … a misunderstanding … a folly. I asked him if he would do me the honor of being my friend and we exchanged names and a bit more about ourselves.


I will not drone on about the comments from teachers and counselors who later shared notes with each other about this transformed young man. He had, obviously, made some adjustment in his game and had decided to only 'fool’ others into thinking him to be bad on selective occasions. And we enjoyed seeing each other and complimenting each others’ roles when I had the weekly opportunity to read to his class in the library. But the point in this is not this isolated happening.

The message, so clearly and eloquently communicated by Robert and his Moment, is this. We all … every single one of us … have an inner sense of who we are. Like Robert, we have been given this “script” by otherwise loving, caring, well-intentioned (yes, I do know that I am being generous here) Significant Others throughout the course of our lives. And … we buy it. We give these people our trust, our confidence, our faith in their 'superior’ powers of judgment, and we live out the roles that they hand us.


I ask that you put yourself in the person of Robert when I asked him “Who told you that you are bad? Was it someone here at school? Or was it at home? Who did you fool into believing this joke?” and ask yourself, Dear Friend, “Who am I listening to? What qualifies that person to fix a defining label on my spirit? Why am I succumbing to this influence? Wouldn’t I enjoy taking up a script of my own choosing and playing a new role that meets my inner desires?” I do not suggest that this is as easily accomplished in the well over-rehearsed and time-reinforced role of the more experienced adult. But I do offer the hope.

And in that hope, I remain, as always, Your loving Friend and willing Servant.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I Do Love You

Yes… ‘Tis true.

Immediately your inner reflex is to say “but you don’t know me” or perhaps (as is true to the majority of those to whom I am sending this note) “we have never even met … it is not possible for you to love me.”

Oh, My Dear Friend, I
do love you because I choose to love you. I love you because to do so is the inclination of spirit that I have opted for in my living of life. I love you because you and I have been introduced… our paths have intersected… our spirits have bumped into each other in accordance with the direction of the Power that orchestrates all of the universes both known and unknown. This is an eternal and immutable fact, that I am as certain of as I am of the blink of my eye, as I type these words in this moment.

You may be one of those to whom I have been sending messages for a while and have never heard a response … or heard from once or twice when your spirit was touched by a particular note of harmony with my thoughts. Or, you could be one of those with whom I have an intimate and constant contact and am involved with every element of your life. It matters not what circumstance surrounds our knowledge of each other. What is of imminent importance is the reality that Life has blessed us with each other. And with that awareness … with that gift … with that singular window of opportunity comes the chance for the exercise of Will. My choice is to will myself to embrace you, without reservation, and give, to you, the election of your own response … free from expectation, requirement, anticipation, or even, in many instances, knowledge of who you are.

Yours is the opportunity to know something that you may be completely unfamiliar with (for I know that I have had no model, in my experience, to follow). You can enjoy the availability of a Friend for whom you have nothing to offer beyond … simply, your friendship … and only as much, or as little of that as you wish. And, better yet, this gift to you is not even contingent upon your friendship offered in return … it is a gift without strings … no requirement for any reciprocation or even acknowledgement. This is my choice for my heart. This is what I give my Self … my very Soul … license to do with every opportunity offered by Life.

It is my desire to make every effort possible to give away every bit of love that I am capable of mustering. My delightful experience in this quest is that there is an exponential multiplying of my capacities to love with the exercising of the option. (How cool is that?)

Mind you, I am not talking about a ‘socially correct’ kind of ‘community caring.’ I know that the fulfillment of my yearning … the satisfaction of my desire … the attainment of my goal … is only possible if the love is genuinely for You … the individual person that is the entirety of You. And, while this is a concept completely foreign to and perhaps unacceptable to the world about me … I am convinced that the days that are mine on this globe are granted to me for the purpose of planting, nurturing, and encouraging seeds of genuine love in the hearts, minds, and imaginations of every life brought my way.

So, My Very Dear Friend, perhaps now you have a little better idea of why I continue to communicate with you … why I smile when I see your name in my e-mail address book … why I express feelings, thoughts, and impressions that seem, at times, to be a bit apart from what you feel is the ‘norm.’ Loving each other is, sadly, not our world’s norm … but it is the norm for the One who created us … and I enjoy, thoroughly, communicating that eternal norm, that overriding and all-encompassing norm that will outlast all of the strife, doubt, anger, bitterness, mistrust … every fruit of Love’s antithesis conceivable.

There you have it … now another piece of that puzzle in your mind is provided. I am grateful for, and thank you for, this opportunity to share my view of this life that we share … together. My sincere desire is for the genuine intent and commitment of my spirit to be known to you … at this moment of your reading… for, don’t you know …
I Love You.

And, I remain, as always, Your faithful Friend and willing Servant.



(originally penned 29 April 2005)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Did I Do Something?

When Garrison asked Concert Pianist, Andre Watts, if he would be unnerved by the presence of any significant individual at one of his performances, the gentleman said that the presence of his last teacher, a Mr. Fleischer, would give him some apprehension. “I would imagine that he would be saying ‘I told you not to do that’.” Mr. Watts said.

What concerns me here is the revelation that Mr. Watts' thought was centered on the possibility of condemnation… a recognition of “what I did wrong.” Why, I wonder, do we instinctively anticipate a negative critique? All too seldom, to my thinking, do we think that the appraisal of another will be in the theme of “Oh… how pleased I am that you did those good things so well!” Is not a positive endorsement of more worth and value than a “constructive” criticism (or, at least, of value equal)? Why, oh why do we feel that a correction is of more merit than the recognition of the things done well? No!… and again I say “No!” to this habit that we have adopted to feel compelled to offer only a “helpful” suggestion as our first and primary comment when presenting our impression of the performance of another.

Consider with me, if you will, yourself in the tender embrace of your Partner after a particularly intimate interlude. You respond to the “How was it for you?” question with “It could have been worse.” “Unthinkable!!” you say, and of course I agree. It is “unthinkable” that you would be so insensitive, and so just-plain-stupid. Unthinkable because you would never be so uncaring for the feelings of another. And unthinkable for the simple, self-serving reason that you would not want to jeopardize your hopes for a welcoming reception to that ’venue’ for some future ‘performance.’ So, I ask, why would we apply a different criteria to the world around us in our everyday experiencing of life’s ‘concert?’

How could we be so insensitive to the feelings of those who are performing their daily tasks, or accompanying us as fellow members of our life’s ‘audience’, that we respond to some negative imperative and point out the “It could have been worse"s that are an always-present part of living. The news media has a compulsion to point out what could have been the extreme loss of life in a situation that, in fact, was blessed with no loss of life. The weather reporter is driven, by some dramatic urge, to declare whatever could be, or has at some time in distant past been, the absolute worst scenario remotely relatable to a present set of benign indicators. We are inundated with a deluge of “glass half empty-isms” when all we really want, or need, is a sip of encouragement to relieve our thirst for some joy in life. Who even asked for a full glass in the first place?

Isn’t it possible that we could, instead find that act of kindness, in the sea of meanness, to point out with “Look … what a lovely thing!” Is it so difficult to focus on the small wild-flower in the field of brambles, and as the butterfly does, fly over the painful, clutching thorns of “realities” that would demoralize and discourage … and savor the sweet nectar of something just as “real” (though more rare), that sustains and nurtures our souls. Does that mean that we are somehow unmindful of life’s ‘brambles?’ Certainly not! It simply means that we have the option, moment by moment, to see what Life has provided for our happiness and fulfillment … and are willing to pull free of the defeating and spirit-crushing brambles, to fly to it, tell of it, and celebrate the joys of it … whatever it is and for however long it can be enjoyed.

I ask that you consider the response of this famous and well respected concert master of world renown… our aforementioned Andre’ Watts… who has all of the talent, training, and experience that could, reasonably, establish him to be above vulnerability to any anticipation of the criticisms of others. The majority of us, at any age, are not nearly so well equipped. Thus, for him to reveal his susceptibility to an unpleasant critique, serves to accentuate how pervasive (and even, possibly, irrational) this common fear is.

Please, Dear Friend, listen to yourself when next you have occasion to comment on the behavior or performance of another. Let’s agree to lift one another up on the arms of kind consideration. Wouldn’t it be a marvelous thing to have others hoping that You will be the One in their “audience” in life … because they know that You will be supportive, appreciative, and respectful of them?

It is my intent that I will be such a person in your life.



IMAGE (Our "Inner Child"): Martina Brandstetter, BBC News

Monday, March 10, 2008

Loving Frank

It will soon be two years since Frank’s spirit set itself free from his weary and worn body. Frank is (Yes! “is” for our spirits are eternal) my friend. We met in the early morning darkness, as I was delivering a newspaper to the lady across the street from his condominium. I was taking my customary care to toss the newspaper either close to the lady’s gate, or, when possible, over the gate. I had noticed that she sometimes didn’t pick the previous day’s paper up, as I delivered the current day’s. So I deduced that she had some physical limitation that made going out to the parking space sometimes-difficult… hence the ‘close to the gate’ ritual.

On the particular day when Frank and I met, I had completed the lady’s delivery and was backing my van out of the parking space when in the corner of my eye I saw movement. Here came an elderly gentleman, shuffling his feet with what was obviously some effort, and doing his best to, simultaneously, wave a “wait” message to me. So, I waited … and waited … and (well, you get the picture.) After what seemed a passable version of ‘forever’ he arrived at the window of the van.

When he had established his balance and reclaimed some semblance of normal breathing, he introduced himself and asked me for a favor. “That lady that you deliver the paper to is my daughter. She doesn’t read the paper, but has it delivered for me to read. I have, sometimes, had a difficult time getting out to pick the paper up. And, sometimes, you throw it over her gate and I can’t get to it. If you would just throw it out in her parking space, I can get to it there. I would really appreciate that.” Well, you can imagine how I felt. Here I had been laboring under the assumption that I was accommodating someone with physical limitations … when, in fact, I was creating an insurmountable hurdle for this very gracious gentleman.

From that day on, I pulled up into Frank’s parking space and threw his paper (a loving gift from his daughter) just as close to his back door as I could manage to. And while Frank and I never had the opportunity to visit in customary terms, we formed a bond of deep, quality mutual respect. We shared frequent waves and salutes when I made his delivery. He often made a special effort to be at or near his door when I came. And we had infrequent but rich occasions to exchange lingering handshakes flavored with verbal expressions of appreciation for each other. I had the opportunity to give Frank a few “I love you, My Friend.”s and he voiced his, more reserved, sentiments. I was given the gift of assuring this fine and gentle man that he was noticed … that he mattered … that he was admired … that he had worth … that he was loved. I will miss his presence. There is, still present, a “Frank shaped hole” in my world.

“So,” you ask “why do you tell me all of this?” I tell you, Dear Reader, because I am frequently presented with statements like “I’m just not like you … I can’t express myself to others the way that you do” or “I am just not comfortable with doing the things or saying the things that you do.” or, “People just won’t understand what I’m doing … or why … like they do with you.” And here is, for your reflection, an illustration of just how easy and simple and uncomplicated it can be for us to touch our world for Love. It’s like the words of the old song “You gotta have heart… there’s nothing to it but to do it” . That’s all, My Friend, simply listen … allow yourself to see … take the moment … take the moment … take the moment … (see there, you were already getting impatient with that illustrative repetition … GOTCHA! [chuckle])

Please believe me … you and I can make a difference in our individual little worlds … with Love and Willingness. You just wait. You will see. In tiny ways, life will become more enjoyable and internally (in your own private and intimately personal core) ... richly rewarding.

Trust me, OK? We Can Do This!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Not SomeTHING ... SomeONE

"How many cares one loses

When one decides...

Not to be something...

But to be someone"

Coco Chanel




IMAGE: BBC News

Saturday, March 08, 2008

My (annual) Return to a Metaphor for My Life, "My Cafe"

As I sit here…at my table on the sidewalk of this modest little ‘café’ that is my life…I read, I listen, I observe, I feel, I think (a lot), and people pass by.

Occasionally, someone will wave a “Hello” to which I respond appropriately. At some times, an individual will stop by and chat.


There are moments when someone will pass by in traffic and speak through their open window or even pull over for a moment in the temporary “Load/Unload Zone” and visit at greater length. Rarely, a chair will be pulled out and occupied for an extended time and we will speak of deeper and fuller things.

All the while, the world passes by… doing all of the things that need to be done and going to all the places that require going to… while I can be counted on… even want, more than almost anything, to be counted on… to be in my spot for whatever kind of invitation is deemed necessary by whomever deems it so. And I am delighted to be there for each and every one.

What I yearn for is someone to share my table with… permanently. Enjoying the sights, sounds, fragrances, pains, joys, and events that visit our place. Happy to be with me… of me… in me… and never jealous, resentful, or envious of the complete focus that I give as my loving gift to whomever requires a part of me. This I yearn for hourly.

[I note here the fact that this "Revisited" article was originally posted 14April2006. I present it, again, to allow new readers to have this perspective and insight... that they may know me better. JMB]


(IMAGE: Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton, FreeFoto.com)
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