Showing posts from November, 2023

History of the Universe

 The history of the universe is the story of ideas. In the beginning, the Big Bang spewed the ides of physics that became the universe.  The idea of physics...light and matter and energy and how two atoms interact to form a molecule is the original origin story. In time, those physical reactions led to the formation of solar systems and planets.  On at least one of those planets the right combination of physical reactions led to biological life.  The idea of biology...information can be communicated through genetic codes.  Biological organisms were not simply reacting to external stimuli the way that atoms did.  They interacted.  Evolution describes how a biological entity adapted to its environment.  A butterfly adopts  a certain type of color to appear to be a butterfly that is poisonous.  This allows the butterfly to be fruitful and multiply.  Seeds from plants discover ways to spread their influence... Sticking to animal fur... Being eaten by birds to be deposited somewhere else...

The Problem with Modern Stoics

 Father, forgive the Stoics for they do not know what they do. “We forget: In life, it doesn’t matter what happens to you or where you came from. It matters what you do with what happens and what you’ve been given.” (Ryan Holiday) When you are in a place of privilege and comfort, it is easy to preach the philosophy of "suck it up, buttercup." Take the story of Jackie Robinson.  The first Black man to break the color barrier in major league baseball, Robinson is a true hero.   Robinson was the target of aggressive racism.  He was forced to play with people who were vocally racists and questioned his right to he there.  Robinson proved his right by not fighting back.  He never took a swing at those who deserved it or publicly gotten into arguments.  He even allowed himself to have his picture taken with out and loud racists.  By playing through the hostility, Robison opened the door for others.  If he had responded to violence and bigotry with aggression, it would have played i

You Do You

 You do you. There is no value in trying to be someone else. You do not need to compare yourself with those you admire. You do not need to contrast yourself with those you despise. In his semi-autobiographical book David Copperfield , Dickens writes: “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.” Dickens was being rhetorical in the sense that only you can be the hero of your life. There are other heroes that help advance your story. Friends. Family. Lovers. Enemies. But you and only you are with you from start to finish, womb to tomb. Do not fear about missing out.  Instead fear not being true to who you are. Be cautious of those who tell you this is the best way to live your life. There are many paths to success, and many ideas of success. The challenge of life is to find your path and your idea of success. Borrow from others what to do and what not to do and how to do it or not, But always remembe

Think Different

Originally an Apple slogan in 1997. Think different annoyed the grammar police. They wanted to think differently. But that misses the point. It is not about the process of thinking that should be different. The important thing is to think different thoughts. It is hard to rewire the way that the brain thinks. The manageable challenge is to change the content of the thinking. When we think different, we act different. When we think different, we become a different person. No not let the grammer police hold you back. Rules were meant to be broken. Think different.

The Failing American Dream

The idea of the American Dream has fueled the growth of the country. My ancestors came here first on a boat as Pilgrims seeking religious and economic self-determination. Later ancestors negotiated the purchase of land from native people in Massachusetts. Only six generations ago my ancestors homesteaded land in Michigan as farms. Three generations ago my great grandfather owned a bank. The bank is gone in the run up to the great banking collapse of the 1920s. I do not know if any distant cousins live on the farms. Probably not. Pursuing the American dream, people left the farms to move to the cities to work in industry. The idea was that if you worked hard and deserved it, the good life would come. Things did not work out quite that way, but reforms in the 1920s made things better Until the Great Depression wrecked it all. Then following World War II, things got better again. People of all races and ethnicities moved north to work in the plants where unions secured good wages and bene

Milton Freidman is not the Devil

Milton Friedman is not the Devil, but he is a high ranking demon. Friedman sold the world on the idea that companies have one purpose to make profit. Today, shareholders can sue a company and its leadership if it does something to hurt profits. This single focus requires companies to take any action that increases profit regardless of the actions. It does not matter that employees are hurt. It does not matter that the environment is hurt. It does not matter that communities are hurt. It does not matter that customers are hurt. Profit in the short term is how score is kept, meaning there is no interest in the long term. The system is designed to achieve the outcomes that it is designed to produce. A company can not forgo profits to take care of employees to generate loyalty. The pursuit of profit is a house fire in society that destroys opportunity and individual self-determination. It means winning at all costs. Yet it alone is not the root of all evil, though Chaucer warned us that th


Change is never required and always optional. The consequences of not changing though are determined. Change is driven by fear and/or hope. When the fear to stay who and what we are is to great,  We find the strength and path to move on. When the hope of something better moves us,  We find the strength and path to move on. Always, though, we confront three obstacles. Fear that we lose what we have and be worse off. Uncertainty that the change will provide us the promised value. Doubt that that we will have the ability to achieve the change. If our fear of not changing plus our hope for change does not create a large enough wave to overcome the barriers of resistance, change will not happen.

Angel in the Marble

Michelangelo said 'I saw the angel in the marble, and carved until I set him free'. Really this is a guide to living. See the angel in ourselves and carve away everything else until we are free.

Matchmaker Make me a Match

My poor little sister Rosie experiences an unending series of bad boyfriends. Like our absent father, they were musicians, artists, writers, and even poets. Much like Mom's experience, each was fun and exciting and passionate while they stuck around. Seeking a break in the routine, Rosie hired a Matchmaker. The Matchmaker digested all of her journals, social media, her listening and viewing histories.  All of our family photos going back even before we were born were scanned and analyzed. It promised to to use all of this data to find Rosie the soulmate she had not found on her own. Somewhere in a data center far away, patterns of correlations were formed and compared to terabytes of data.  Potentials were ranked and sifted to find the soulmate to fill the hole of our absent parent. In the end, the Matchmaker came back with recommendations that behaved just like Rosie's exes. Love and creativity are not patterns to be found in data.  Love and creativity require surprise and dis

Jack Swipeout

 J for Jaeden doer of dishes and taker out of trash. Daddy's original little boy. A for Aspen even though she does not use that name anymore. Our first artist who teaches and inspires her siblings. C for Chris. That's me! K for Kieler who is the youngest of the first five and oldest of the second six. He used to like to dance. S for Schaffer the loudest who once wanted to be a chef and might be again. W for Whitten the first born. I for Iyana the boss and walker of dogs. Also the toughest. And the bossiest. P for Pacey the youngest boy and quietist child. Daddy's second little boy. E for Eilka the mischievous one. She knows right and wrong but wrong seems more fun...when she learns to use her powers for good, she will be a force to be reckoned with. O for Okalani the youngest and most surprising. With nine older siblings you would think we have seen it all. She likes to prove us wrong. U for Uriella lover of horses and animals in general. She used to have the craziest curls

The Lost Poem

2:25 in the morning the Wednesday before Thanksgiving The vacationers next door enjoyed a loud pool party full of laughter It would make for a useful sound for an alarm clock While I tossed and turned, I tried to avoid thoughts of petty revenge In my head, I composed a poem of eight lines And  I thought to myself I would remember in the morning to write it down Four hours later when I woke again at my usual time The poem was lost.

Quotes from Genesis (2)

  I'm coming down, coming down like a monkey  (Genesis) Monkey, monkey, monkey /  Don't you know you're gonna /  Shock the monkey (Peter Gabriel) We've got to get in to get out  (Genesis) So, take a look at me now  (Phil Collins) Pass the word, it's a call to arms  (Phil Collins) Teach the children quietly /  For some day sons and daughters /  Will rise up and fight while we stood still (Mike and the Mechanics)

Quotes from Genesis (1)

I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh lord (Phil Collins) Son, " he said /  "Grab your things, I've come to take you home"  (Peter Gabriel) You know I want to, but I'm in too deep  (Genesis) I will follow you will you follow me (Genesis) Why are you shaking like a leaf? /  Come on, come talk to me (Peter Gabriel) In our secret world we were colliding /  All the places we were hiding love /  What was it we were thinking of?  (Peter Gabriel) Don't give up /  You're not beaten yet /  Don't give up /  I know you can make it good  (Peter Gabriel) I thought you'd always be there /  I almost believed you  (Genesis) I think I caught his spirit /  Later that same year /  I'm sure I heard his echo /  In my baby's new born tears /  I just wish I could have told him /  In the living years  (Mike and the Mechanics)

Words of Wisdom

Gandhi never said or wrote: Be the change you want to see in the world. Does the wisdom of the words mean less if the great person did not utter them? When we grant a monopoly on wisdom to a few great ones,  We diminish our own insights, the insights of the many, and the power of the idea. Moses, Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha were only wise and great teachers. But they are not the only teachers. Discovery of knowledge and wisdom did not begin and end with them. There is benefit in using this wisdom as a foundation to see further and understand more, But there is also a risk in not trusting ourselves to see further.


Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it. (Gabriel García Márquez) I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way. (Carl Sandburg) Searching for the Truth through words and speech is like sticking your head in a bowl of glue. (Yuan-Wu) The best way out is always through. (Robert Frost) It is more important to know where you are going than to get there quickly. Do not mistake activity for achievement. ( Isocrates) Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad: whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen. (John le Carre) Learning has to come from doing, not intellectualizing. (Derrick Jensen) Every spiritual master in every tradition talks about the significance of small things in a complex world. Small actions in social life, small efforts in the spiritual life, small moments in the personal life. All of them become gre

Reborn in a Smile

 In your smile I was reborn today. You are an unexpected angel sent to brighten my heart. Your eyes dance, and your smile cuts straight to my heart. I am reborn as new emotions flow through my being. Without meaning to, without effort, without plan, or intent your sweet, effortless smile opens my heart. I am reborn. What a miracle your smile is! In the single brief moment that your eyes danced and your smile opened my heart, I become new again. My voice had grown silent, But your smile stirred me from a deep sleep. Now I struggle to find the words to express my gratitude to you. Your smile has stirred my voice from its mute sleep without plan or intent, your simple gift has taught  me how to speak with feelings and not just words. Now I struggle not to speak, but to find the words to express my gratitude to you, my smiling angel. You are my angel from above showing me the way with the grace and light of your smile. February 28, 1999

Three Disasters

College sucked for me. Not the coursework...I graduated early with honors and distinction. Not the friends I still have today. Not the campus jobs that started my career. First disaster: September of the first year. I had a history of being a bad boyfriend. She was loving and beautiful and worth changing for. And I did. Unfortunately she made other choices. I could sense the distance that night, and it all unraveled. My heart was broken. Depression nipped at my heels. That February I stood on a bridge trying to find the strength to cross it to keep going. Second disaster: Three weeks after the bridge. My body broke. An infection in my liver. A week in the hospital. A year of recovery. Depression consumed me as my joints ached.  I kept going. Stayed in school though my grades suffered. One morning that summer I could not get out of bed. My knees no longer working. Finally good news. The biopsy showing healing. Disaster three: Four weeks after the biopsy. It was Saturday morning. When th


"Learning has to come from doing, not intellectualizing.” (Derrick Jensen) "Every spiritual master in every tradition talks about the significance of small things in a complex world. Small actions in social life, small efforts in the spiritual life, small moments in the personal life. All of them become great in the long run, the mystics say, but all of them look like little or nothing in themselves." (Joan Chittister) “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” (Jackie Robinson) "Do not follow where a path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail" (Ralph Waldo Emerson) "Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves." (Carl Jung) "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." (Philip K. Dick) "Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here, and you must treat it as a powerf

Skiing the Porcupines

Catch a lift up the mountain. Cross the ridge to a slope untouched by people. In the distance the lake they call Gitchee Goomie. Start my descent. Down the Sunset Trail.  Supposed to be easy. Not for me. Faster faster too fast. Lean to side fall in snow. No witnesses but the hemlocks to see my wipeout.  Back up and start again. No sound but the skis sliding through the snow. Faster faster too fast. Lean to side fall in snow. Never been so bad at something I enjoyed so much.

Limits of Teaching

 You cannot teach those who will not listen. The only gift we have is ourselves. Those who are hungry and thirsty are hungry in their own minds.  Only they have the power to fill their bellies and quench their thirst.

Path of Stillness

I need to find a path through a dark forest. Remember that the first rule is faith and the second patience. Together, they create stillness, and in stillness all options fall away to leave one clear path. August 18, 1999

One Line Wisdoms

 Salvation like enlightenment is a process not a destination. (May 18, 1999) My goals are bigger than my ego. Just because you could does not mean you should. There is a fine line between stupid and insanity, and some people have a foot in both. Sometimes incompetence can be mistaken for conspiracy. It is amazing how a crazy person can make craziness seem sane. Right hands at the right time.

February 7, 1999 Toronto, ON

I think about all the things we dreamed together, and I see those dreams dissolve. I'm not willing to do this -- but I have no choice.

March 28, 1997 Muskegon, MI

lucid delusions vibrant shades of grey obvious nuances

March 23, 1997 Saginaw, MI

At our house, I gathered a few remaining items.  Once I thought I heard cat paws on the basement stairs.  Another time I thought I heard a bird squawk.  I looked for Oliver to be watching and waiting at the front door.  I expected to see Maggie run-up to the fence.  All just ghosts and shadows conjured up from habit and memory of time and emotion spent in that place.

December 5, 1996 Washington, DC

 Stillness. There is a quiet place inside of us all. A stillness. I believe this place is the source of our strength. A connection to one's soul. We spend a lifetime hungering, thirsting, questing for something outside us when all along we need to look inside to find our own stillness.


There is the yin and the yang. Call and response. Duality. But there is also the In between. This is the trinity. The becoming that is not yet. The now. The Zen.

About Me

Student. Teacher. Coach. Hero of my own life journey. Lover of donuts.


  Sometimes you come around a strange corner to find yourself somewhere familiar A ghost place from the past with memories that pull at you Feelings leak from the strong boxes where they have been stored and forgotten

Poem for Tim

 Sometimes you lose someone. Two paths diverged in a wood. You took one and I took the other. You took the one I could not follow.   I slumped to the floor when I heard the news. I remember the last time we talked. Late at night. Your place. I dropped off the keys.   When you died a part of me died too. Not the best part, but a good part. When you died a hole opened in my heart. A part of me withdrew. You were the trickster, the funster, the outgoing one. And I lost a part of me that was tied to you.


 Graffiti seen from the train kids like us will be alone forever. August 19, 2008

Literary Band Names

 Literary band names. The Romance at Short Notice or Studebaker Cowboy. Not a musician I like sound of Jazz Vampires or The Delta V. Stephen King suggests Gogmagog and Flight Killer Fairytale villains.

Why Poetry

 It started in 1981. Mr. Nixon's th grade English class. Work done. Blank page. Start writing "On the high seat of Telar." Fantasy narrative. The teacher took what I was writing. I chased the old man around the room. Embrassed to share. For five years, wrote and wrote. Poems. A play. Lost it all when given to the person who I gave my heart. Then the darkness. Heartbreak. Illness. Loss. Depression. Futile attempts to find the person I had been. Academic and professional writing. Stale. Thesis. Dissertation. Presentations and articles. Memos, emails, and reports. Classroom posts. Two advice books published. Creative force invested in children. Ten in fifteen years starting in 2001. Pen name from their initials and their parents inititials. My mother was an artist. Paints. Pencils. Pens. Scuplture. Not me. My father was a storyteller. Better than I will ever be. My siblings took after them. Not me the youngest. Wanted to write short stories knowing a novel was too much. Poet