A Wild Beast or a God?

Whosoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god. – Francis Bacon Solitude, my refuge as a boy, felt like imprisonment for much of my later life. From my last year in high school and through my 20s, I struggled ceaselessly to avoid it. I structured my life to reinforce connection. I hitch-hiked across the United States and Canada to force myself to ask strangers for rides and places…

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Now, Be, Here

I was 20 when I first encountered Baba Ram Dass’s square, purple-covered Be Here Now, the book that launched many of my generation on an Eastern-inspired journey. I was walking though the student center of the University at Buffalo when I ran into a high school friend sitting on the floor outside the bookstore, guitar at his side, leafing through it. He handed it to me. Be? Here? Now? More than 40 years…

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How the light gets through

Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time. – Georgia O’Keeffe In August, 2003, I attended a five-day, mostly silent retreat with Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh (and 900 others). I thought of it as “Buddhist boot camp.” We awoke at 5:30 a.m., exercised with Thich Nhat Hanh or one…

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Looking for a few good … opinions!
(And offering a giveaway)

Thanks for your thoughts on The Art of Balance title earlier this fall. The book is moving through its early pre-release stages. I’m busily getting feedback, making revisions, building a new website for Transformations Press, and investigating ways to network. But before I can get much further, I need a good cover! 1. The Scene: You’re feeling stressed and you’re scrolling through books on stress relief in the hope of finding a solution…

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Garbage and Flowers

  For the last several years, I’ve found myself attracted to the dead leaves I see on the ground as I walk, particularly those in late fall and winter. I’ve taken thousands of pictures of them. A friend’s mentioning to me the concept of wabi-sabi helped me understand why.     For the last several years, I’ve found myself attracted to the dead leaves I see on the ground as I walk, particularly…

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Time: Visible and Invisible

  My first experience of time as a continuum occurred when I was about ten years old. Before that, I think time was invisible to me. I was riding my bike past Johnny Sybulski’s house and I stopped, suddenly, for no particular reason. I looked at the simple brick facade, the white trim, the unkempt bushes, and I became aware of myself looking. I thought, “This is just one second in my life,…

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First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is!

A recent trip to Vermont reminded me that, although I’m still enamored of the mountains north of Santa Fe, NM, New England mountains also have their particular, softer charm. Some views of the Green Mountains, north and south             P.S. If you find what you read here helpful, please forward it to others who might, too. Or click one of the buttons below the blog entry. Comments always…

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Love Lives On

The gaze of love is not deluded. Love sees what is best in the beloved, even when what is best in the beloved finds it hard to emerge into the light. – J. M. Coetzee When I was 25, living in Manhattan, and trying to jump-start a career in writing and photography, I visited my parents and brothers in Buffalo two or three times a year. On those trips, I also saw my…

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Electrocuting the Ants

I did terrible things to insects as a child. Like many other boys growing up with nothing better to do, I tore the legs off Daddy Longlegs, incinerated pill bugs with magnifying glasses, and set fire to more than one ant hill. But I didn’t stop there. I was a kid scientist. Spurred on by the early space program and largely ignored by the adults around me, I dreamed of one day voyaging to…

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How to leap tall buildings in a single bound

The only way to find the limits of the possible is by going beyond them to the impossible. – Arthur C. Clarke During much of my childhood, I lived in the realm of possibility: machine intelligences, aliens, mutants, future worlds, alternate pasts. Infinite possibilities. My first science fiction book was Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot. I was 10 when I found a copy at a Temple Sinai rummage sale. It opened the universe to…

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The Cast of Characters

NOTE: I’ve been working with an illustrator on the characters in my forthcoming book on balance and thought you might be interested in what we’ve developed. Here’s the cast of characters and a brief introduction to them. Know thy self, know thy enemy. – Sun Tzu, The Art of War This is a book about balance: What disrupts it, what restores it, and how to keep it going. It is also a story,…

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Miracles

There are two ways to live: You can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle. – Albert Einstein I am a miracle worker by trade. Or more precisely, a facilitator of miracles. I state this with humility. My powers are as ordinary as those of the Wizard of Oz, whose only real magic was tricking Dorothy, the Tin Woodsman, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly…

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Got Anxiety? How to Help

NOTE: This article first appeared on lifehack.org, where I am now a columnist. In Part I of this two-part series, we looked at what anxiety is and how to tell if you or someone close to you is suffering from an anxiety disorder. Now let’s explore the causes of anxiety disorders and the treatments for them. We’ll also delve into the best self-help strategies anxiety sufferers can practice themselves and how their friends and families…

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The Two Faces of “Anxious”

NOTE: This post first appeared on lifehack.org, where I am now a columnist. “Anxious” is a word with two faces. Sometimes it means eager excitement. “I’m anxious to see you!” we say, as we get off the phone with a friend who’s coming to visit. The other side of “anxious” is a bit darker: “I’m anxious about that test,” we say, when we’re worried about the results. We call the second meaning “anxiety,”…

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My love affair with Georgia O’Keeffe

For many years, people have pointed out that my Flower Mandalas must have been influenced by the flower paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe – which, of course, was not lost on me. But it was not until I traveled to Santa Fe and then north to Abiquiu and nearby Ghost Ranch that I understood how deep that influence was. I feel more at home and at peace (and at the same time, as the…

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How Art Makes You Stronger: Creativity and Madness

I’ve just returned from an incredible week at the Creativity and Madness conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I wanted to share a little about the conference itself and what I presented there. The conference is the creation of psychiatrist Dr. Barry Panter and Mary Lou Panter and is currently run by Dr. Panter and his wife, Jacqueline Berz Panter. Barry began it 35 years ago as a way for health and…

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Be the Change

A man cannot step into the same river twice. – Heraclitis of Ephesus I came of age in the late ’60s, the era of the first man on the moon, the Vietnam War, Woodstock, free love, civil rights marches, and the assassinations of iconic figures including Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X. It was a time of reinventing the mores, values, and attitudes of the Depression-era parents who raised us. Bob…

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5 Topics: A very short manifesto

        “There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War An editor at lifehack.org recently asked me what topics I would choose if I could write about only 5. The question brought meaning and purpose into sharper focus. These are the topics I chose: Acceptance, Gratitude, Perseverance, Self-Love,…

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The Gratitude Cure for (Almost) Everything

Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul. – Henry Ward Beecher During my recuperation from a brush with death, a high school friend sent me a letter. In it, he hypothesized that as a survivor of near-death, every moment for me must be exquisitely sweet, a precious gift, in ways he could not imagine. At first, he was mostly right. Despite the pain, my initial response was celebratory. But the…

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When Failure is an Option

Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat. – F. Scott Fitzgerald In our success-driven culture, there seems to be no end of helpful adages for dealing with failure. But “failure is not an option” is small comfort to those who believe they have already failed, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” seldom encourages the already discouraged, and “we learn more from failure than from success” is scant consolation…

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