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poetry in motion

Leonard Cohen has a way of summing things up for me.  Not much more to be said about a life well lived, albeit, very heavy at times; and often, more mindless than mindful.

First there was the meditation involved with creating the template–totally mindless.  I was absorbed in the quality of the feel, as the pen and ink dug into the paper and at times seems to effortlessly glide over the page so that a single stroke felt like it went clear across the pad and down the center to the very bottom of the page.

Then there were those comments when what to write went blank.  It went blank for months.  Gibberish. Then one day the journal was open to this unfinished page and Cohen’s meditation looked like it would barely fit on the page but it did. I thought it might sit well as an edited image.  It comes together as text-and-image and combines a number of moods while fulfilling its mission to be published.

Serenity is the outcome, but it seems too far away when I am carrying a grand-piano down a mountain of theory.  I am sitting with a young girl, fair and beautiful as she crawls to the couch.  I almost do not want to let her go there; but I do, and she emerges walking, maybe a half-inch taller than when she arrived; but how much growth can we really expect in an hour.  I hope she waters a few of the seeds awakened while we sat by the sea, chatting and untangling backlashes from yesterday’s fishing lines.  The wind seems to blow westerly in every season, and to every season we attach a new moment adding them up with an abacus left dusty besides the slide-rule, made of wood and brass. But here, I am the instrument of research.

Her life opened like a book on our laps.  I don’t count the way I use to. I don’t count on things and other objects–no, I think on myself now. And, I  thank myself graciously for the compassionate care that I often find capable of giving to myself.

I settle into that place of relative silence and slowly she enters, tentative at first, willing, ambivalent and scared.  But, she is strong and she does not want to let on that she is so vulnerable that she does not think she can take one more step.  Exhaustion and fear and insomnia and disease and helplessness and hopelessness will devour her if she takes even one more step toward life.  The piano is too heavy to carry.

She is addicted to the tune, that is how I know she will come back.
poetry in motion in brown


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The Road Map Is Not The Landscape



Van Gogh tells a story of a countess who commissioned him to do a portrait.  When the portrait was finished and it came time to unveil the canvas to his subject, she had a startled response.  “My God, she said, “that is not me!”

“No, Madame, you are quite right that is not you, that is a painting of you.”


Frequently as we meander through life, we internalize images and thoughts and these images and thought are stored in a “consciousness-storage” container.  Some place in the brain-body matrix we have visions and we hold on to these visions as memories.  They take on an internal life of their own.  We can close our eyes and see a light we saw ten years ago, or we close our eyes and we see a person saying something to us.

At times these visions of our internal world become so real that they appear to us to be our reality.  In fact these visions and memories are simply symbolic representations of those people, places or things.

What is contained in our minds represent the world outside of us, but it is not the world outside of us any more than a road map of the eastern United States is the landscape of the eastern United States.

We can find Flint, Virginia on the map, and a good map will represent the way to get to Flint Virginia, but, it is not Flint, Virginia.  In the same way we often have a dialogue with ourselves and that internal dialogue takes a form that resembles reality.  We can become convinced that this internal dialogue is life, when in actuality the internal only symbolically represents life.

If we go looking inside ourselves for our souls, we will find inside a representation of our souls, but our souls are not in us.  We are in our souls.  The soul, what Emerson called the Over-soul is something that we reside in.  It does not reside in us–we reside in it.

It is an important philosophical distinction because if we can not let ourselves know that life is out-side of us, we will continue to believe that when we find Flint, Virginia on a broad map that is all that there is to Flint.  Guide-post exist inside of us that we can use to find the world, but we ought not confuse the map for the reality.  If we only find our selves on the map we will fall far short of the satisfactions that the universe can provide.

Let’s give it a shot.  Let’s go find ourselves in the world rather than remain content with the representational, symbolic world that exist as a chemical matrix within.


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The Problem with our problem is that we think we should not have problems.

The Problem with our problem is that we think we should not have problems….other than that I think most of us do fine with our problems.

We awaken each day with one of two goals in mind–I am here to make it through this day and I am here on a mission to find and sustain joy to the best of my ability.  I will run into problems that will attempt to de-rail me and I will run into problems that do de-rail me; but I want to remain deliberate about my belief that joy is in me waiting to be employed by my decisions to aim for well-being.

Or, we awaken a fuck’en miserable mess, put the covers back over our heads and lament that it is cold, it is too early, it is dark or what ever the lamentation of the day happens to be.  We think we are obligated to do something that we hate and we are victimized by our inability to console ourselves and we proceed to be unhappy (out-loud) and hope that we can snag at least one somebody to drag into the gutter with us.  Misery does love company.

That about sums up the two positions on waking up.  Now, let’s examine awakening for a moment.

Hoping that you as reader are interested in the former, I want to spell out a few guide-posts for you to keep in mind while you begin your meanderings through the day.  First, there are only two states that you need to be aware of:  1)  I feel good, and 2)  I feel awful.  Each of these are paradigms that exist in the mind and are there fully formed waiting to be employed.  If you are aware that you are in a negative state, say anywhere from 0 to 90 on an applause meter, you must deliberately decide that you want to bring that number up somewhere between 90 and 180 on the applause meter.  The closer you get to 180 degrees the more likely you will be chosen as Queen for a Day.

The glimpse that we have a positive state within, ready made and ready for us to use, is the perception that is necessary to shift from under-the-covers to into-the-light-of-day.  All you need to know is that you want out of the negative state and some aspect of the positive side of life will appear.  I have a friend who calls these apparitions angels.  But, regardless of what we call them, we recognize it by its benign, comfortable and casual nature.  In this state nothing is right or wrong, perceptions are about effectiveness not judgement.

So, we need awareness–subjective awareness.  Next, we need a glimpse of the better feeling state, and after that we need to make a deliberate decision that that positive state is the state that we want to be in.  It is the state from which we want to watch our problems develop, emerge, and fade.  Problems follow the course of life, they are a seeds that grows, have a life, flowers and begins to wither and eventually decay.  Problems are no better at life or no worst at life than we are.  Problems have a life of their own and we need to respect that problems will arrive and depart like the tides, and the morning sun.  Problems come and go they have a life cycle. There is nothing unusual or abnormal about a problem.

Do not be afraid of a problem, its purpose is to educate you about your character and to give you clues about the nature of your drives.  So, give yourselves a loud round of applause and watch that meeter climb and surpass even your most unexpected dreams.


The choice that is ours to make has to do with nudging the negative numbers below 90 degrees into the positive numbers on the other side of the radius. We get connected with our more perfect self by deliberately wanting to be rid of what ever the misery is.  We get connected by being persistent in our yearnings and in believing that allowing ourselves to let in the good will eventually over-power and eradicate the negative. We know there is a positive state in the mind someplace.  You have to find it.  It shows itself as a smile over a thought, or a scent that has you recalling a day in the third grade, or perhaps you hear a song that recalls a man you loved or a pet you lost.  The positive state is not loud or even jubilant; it is a murmur, a whisper, a breeze.  It can be anything as long as it reminds you of something pleasant.