Sure Feet and Rocket Fuel

“To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation…Love is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world for himself for another’s sake, it is a great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things.”
-Ranier Maria Rilke
This is my favorite Rilke quote and it rings so true. Your near and dear inspire you to be the best version of yourself that you can be. Because of your love for them, you find the courage to make important changes and better decisions. Love makes us persevere. It gives us sure feet and rocket fuel. The bonds of marriage and family set us free because they unleash all the fierceness of familial devotion to expand past imagined limits and to create more interesting stories.

We All Drink Water

I woke up needing to pass water with a little mind movie of something that happened last night. I was in Blacksburg coming out of Kroger, where I had eaten a delicious baked salmon and veggie dinner. It came with a fountain drink and I had chosen water, but saved it for the road and had it sitting in the cup-holder in my cart. So, as I’m walking out the door, the water gets jostled, falls on the ground and spills.

A Kroger employee who was getting off for the day happened to be walking out at the same time I was. He stopped and looked at my drink spreading out on the concrete. “Oh, sh**, he said once. And then again, “Oh, sh**.” clearly upset and concerned for my loss and inconvenience. As I looked at him, I felt myself wanting to make him feel better. “It’s OK, I said.”Its only water,” But it wasn’t only water. I actually needed to drink one more water in the next hour, while I was driving home to Floyd, for health reasons.

In that moment, this man who was clearly of Middle Eastern descent and who no doubt was tired, and I’m guessing, wanting to get home to his family, was standing there worried about my needs. And I, who really needed my water, was comforting him! In the back of my mind something shifted in that split second. I flashed back to an NYC visit to see my son two weeks post 9/11, when I am ashamed to admit, I was feeling distrustful and afraid of folks who looked like this man. I’m sure they may have felt the same distrust and fear of pale faces like me, many of whom were acting out in random acts of violence and revenge. There was a lot of fear floating around. The moment of mutual empathy zapped the memory and washed my mind clean and fresh. He spoke again, “Please go back in and get more water,” he said. “It will be all right.”

“Thanks,” I said, “I’ll do that,” He went his way and I went back into the store to get a new container of the precious liquid.

I’ve been sitting here,drinking water in a tall blue glass. Now I’m going back to sleep, dreaming of a time when we remember that we all drink water and we all love our children.

Goodnight, Friends,


Remember to Remember

There are many plays on words hypnotists use to help their clients break free of imaginary blocks and move forward. One is about letting go of old baggage and limiting ideas: “You can forget to remember or remember to forget.” And the other is this wonderful  rhetorical question about letting go of procrastination and seizing the moment: “When would now be a good time?”

What if we put the two together? Here’s one to play with: “When would now be a good time to forget to remember or remember to forget any old baggage that no longer contributes to you living your best life?

Yes, it’s complicated and confusing to the conscious mind and it’s the opposite of “good” straightforward writing. That’s where  both the giggle and the point are, and that’s why it works hypnotically.

Because these plays on words take us away from the conscious and into other parts which *instantly* get the meaning inside the words. The beauty of our being is not in our rationalizations and the part of us that we think of as “intelligent” and oh, so much smarter than “the other.” It’s in our deepest souls and in the part of us which is connected to the vast Intelligence of the Universe, in which we are One and there is no Other.

When would now be a good time to remember to remember Love?

“Good Person” or Loving Person? Look, Listen, Feel

The appearance of being a “nice,” helpful and selfless person sometimes is what it is, only an appearance. Sociopaths, narcissists, sexual predators, and garden variety selfish people usually masquerade as pillars of the community. Jared Fogle, of former Subway fame, for example. Good deeds without a truly loving attitude, generous spirit, and deep compassion mean nothing. It is said that words mean little; it’s actions that count. Though actions certainly are a better barometer than words alone, it is important to pay attention to the whole array of actions, not just the charitable ones, because the charitable ones don’t cancel out the predatory ones. They are just attempts to mask them. Of course, you may not be privy to knowledge of that whole array. What you do have is intuition, and it’s important not to override it by valuing appearances over your own gut feelings.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am        become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal…And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing…And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”
From 1st Corinthians, 13 KJV

The Two Dos

I’m not the sort of wedding minister who puts couples through 10 weeks of premarital “counseling” in order to exert control over them in the belief (and church membership) department. In fact, I rarely share my thoughts about relationship at all in the interview situation. I’m asking them about *them,* so I can make the ceremony be about them.

They come to me as adults who know who they are and what they want and I respect that and celebrate it! Moreover, what they tell me about themselves and their love stories mirrors my own deeply held beliefs and observation, anyway.

There are two things that really matter in love relationship, be they romantic partnerships, parent/child, or friendships.

1. You have to be committed and willing to grow. You have to be willing to sacrifice your crazy to the relationship. Selfishness, fear, addiction, compulsion, habitual behavior patterns that harm others, like emotional stinginess. You have to love the other more than your desire to keep doing what blocks love.

and closely related…

2. You have to have be committed and willing to cultivate empathy and conscience. If someone says “ouch; stop that” you have to be willing to feel the ouch as if it happened to you, understand that you did something wrong, what was wrong about it, fix it, stop doing it, and anchor a new, loving behavior (see 1.). A man I know once told me, “My wife rarely gets angry with me. But when she does, I know I’ve done something wrong, and I need to make it right.”

This is what Joseph Campbell meant when he contrasted uncommitted affairs as inevitably disappointing demonstrations of self-gratification and personal stagnation, with marriage. which he referred to as an “ordeal.” He clarified this term as a spiritual one, in which you both prioritize your relationship and sacrifice your shadow stuff to serve it and you both grow.

May we commit to love, empathy, and conscience in our relationships, shining brighter and brighter as we witness and support one another, and as we walk each other home.

Mind Power

Anti intellectualism is a scourge, but at the same time it is a gift, because it challenges the sleeping to awaken from illusion. Your mind is sacred and it is your strongest weapon against world-be controllers at every level and relational circumstance. It links you to the vast intelligence of the Divine and to your amazing intuition. It gives you freedom and power. Never be ashamed of your mind. If you have little formal education, you can still access and expand your natural genius, if you are intellectually curious and are willing to explore, to move past preconceived notions and popular fallacies, and to think for yourself.  Education can be a great benefit and should be valued, yet, there are people with advanced degrees whose minds are closed and dull for lack of creative application and the humility required to connect mind with heart. Never surrender or abdicate the full use of of your wonderful mind and keep nourishing it. Pass on the love of reading to your children and encourage their critical thinking skills. May we turn our lights on and keep them on!

Look Deeper

Look deeper. The lion killer, the drink-spiking serial rapist, the badge gives me permission to pull you out of the car and light you up cop are all the same bully, terrified and desperate, haunted by self-hatred and the fear that he has fallen out of the universe and can’t get up, fear of punishment by a God he doesn’t believe could ever, ever love him. Fear of a vengeful and easily distracted God who will cast him even further into the pit unless he points towards someone else. His concept of God is as primitive as he is for both he and his imagined Cosmic Tyrant live for domination and take pleasure in the distress of others. You could call him pre-human, because his heart has not yet opened and he has not yet sacrificed himself to something bigger than his immediate gratification. He has many faces but one name: ego. We all carry at least a vestige of this guy within us. But moment by moment, choice by choice, we can participate in our own evolution by inviting Love to work in our lives and come into every situation. God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” May it be so.


Beamer, Bono & Beamers

I’ve been thinking about private people and their public personae. Last week, I was in line at the supermarket checkout with VA Tech football coach Frank Beamer. Despite his iconic status, he looked very much like a humble, sweet man shopping with his beloved wife. I could see that he knew I’d recognized him and probably was hoping I would not try to engage him in conversation, just wanting to be a private guy. I left him alone, of course. Though to be honest, it wasn’t much of a character triumph. Football isn’t my thing. If he had been Bono, I would have abandoned all self-restraint.

If you’re a person who makes his or her living in the public arena at any level: actor, sports coach, musician, author, minister, whatever… you’re not “on” all the time. Sometimes you’re in resting mode. If you believe in what you are doing, you owe it to that thing that’s coming through you to develop the the confidence and willingness to promote it. But you can’t be impressed with your “specialness.”

And it’s good for all of us who are consumers of the work of entertainers, athletes, teachers, writers, and spiritual performance artists to remember that we are as others. We are all on a conveyer belt to enlightenment. We are no better or more important than a pauper and no less so than a star. May we remember that we are Beamers of that light that shines within us all. <3

Ya Gotta Have Heart

Artists, writers, and singer/songwriters, and filmmakers offer a specific vision of life. Whether it inspires compassion, inspiration, fresh new thinking, and joy or whether it deadens, roils up hatred, bores, triggers horror, fear, or despair depends on the state of the creator and of the consumer. I think artists have a sacred responsibility to serve life and help us expand our vision.

That does not mean commerce cannot be involved, Some of the most inspiring creative excellence has come out of advertising. Nor does it mean that the shadow cannot be shown in the picture. it’s in us and in our world, right? And to ignore it is silly. But how does your protagonist deal with his own ego? How does he respond to evil when faced with it?

“Everybody counts or nobody counts” -(Michael Connelly’s) Harry Bosch

The best noir antiheroes have a flinty and uncompromising moral code. It may not be the one held by the systems within which they have to work (or which they work against). But the respect for human life is always there, shining like a diamond in the mud. Our stories need to be about bigger things than revenge, ego, the vicarious trashing of “the other,” or stylish, clever, yet empty cynicism. Ya gotta have heart.

#servicethroughart #servicethroughcreativity #spiritualart #creativitycoach

Always Offer Chocolate

Do’s and Don’t Dept: Don’t attempt to control, co-opt or try to reign on someone’s parade. Let the other dream his own dreams, and hold his own scepter. Yea, ye might even crown him, for when you do you are also crowning yourself and claiming your own rights to the kingdom of your own imagination. Sooner or later, we join our dreams together, by design or inadvertently, as our destiny is the Loving Oneness. But each of us must find our own way there and each has his own special tools and talents to light the path. Should our paths meet along the journey, leave a little space in your embrace for breath and mutual respect, And always offer chocolate, for it is the universal medium of exchange.