Thursday, February 28, 2013

Contemplating the Fertile Ground of Politics

The doomsday clock clicks down, 3 days and counting. On Friday, March 1st the U.S. government will begin to cut federal spending, bluntly slicing programs affecting nearly every citizen in some way or another. The coming sequestration fills me with anxiety and angst from so many perspectives, and so provides fertile ground for practicing the dance of grasp and release, of desire and being.

            I work seasonally with the National Park Service, as do nearly 39% of its’ employees. The running joke we share when starting a day of work, invariably starring across some beautiful landscape, is “just another day at the office”. It hints at the reality of my work. I work in America’s playgrounds. Collectively these national treasures stand to loose $183 million in federal spending if our congress continues its hands off approach to doing their job. It’s been three years since they last passed a budget. But lest I digress and follow that tug…

            Our Parks are not merely playgrounds. They act as a respite and sanctuary for a city weary and nature-deficient America.  When the hordes descend on Memorial Day, some in the park service adopt an air of cynicism, but most of us see the deeper message. People yearn for a re-connect, to feel bare earth, to soak in cold streams, and for just a minute to close their eyes, move beyond themselves and experience truly awe inspiring creation. I love being a caretaker for the places that give us back our human perspective. Come Friday, thousands of jobs like mine will disappear.

            That is the grasp, and now the release.

Along with the nonsensical cuts to programs that feed our kids, house the needy, fund science and spur innovation, the vast majority of the federal spending cuts will be born by the Department of Defense. As a nation we are addicted to violence and these cuts were purposefully structured to scare a congress to compromise, to talk… and actually listen to each other. No congressman (or woman) wants to loose Defense dollars for their district. It’s un-American. And here I see a silver lining in the coming torrent. Could this be start, just a small unavoidable start to really beginning a conversation about America’s addiction to violence and war? Could these budget cuts mean that we actually have to rethink the ease with which we start a war, drop a bomb and hold ever so tightly to our guns, to the idea of control? Could this mean one less morally justifiable drone strike on collateral kids. If so, I’m in.

It seems a rather strange choice though.

            Which leaves me with desire and being. I wish for a world where these artificial choices don’t leave me struggling with a cognitive dissonance, struggling with a sane place to rest my mind and sit. I desire a world where we replace the uniform of aggression with one of stewardship. I desire a country that treasures its’ common spaces and natural wonders, within everyone of us, as well as those on the outside. The ones we call national parks and natural treasures.

            So Friday will come and this is where I have found myself to BE. I hope over the next year everyone gets out to enjoy our parks, to our forests, mountains, deserts and beaches. Go recharge and explore and take a minute to breathe, IT in. I really hope to see you there, SERIOUSLY! But if perchance I don’t, I hope, bow and sit for the silver lining.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Leaning Through My Wall

 I frequently find myself struggling with the chasm between how things are and how I want them to be. Right now it’s appearing in relationships, waiting for the perfect job, wanting more security in finances, and the little gnome on my shoulder incessantly whispering self-doubts. Sound familiar?  But this letter is about struggling with a relationship, and the insanity of continually banging my head.
A few nights ago this poem came in my dreams.  It’s a work in progress, but this is what crept in, at 5:14.

“This is a brick wall.
Though highly useful
in segmenting
what’s mine from yours,
it’s not a soft feather
nor a sandy beach.

Physics says
it’s mostly space.
And ever useful
as a slate
to write the future.
It’s effect is
I’ll save my head the pain”

I think it was a prologue to another early morning missive from two years ago.

“straight lines
rarely show
in a natural land.
Bend your mind”

This morning I was taken back to teachings from my childhood, the Bible’s book of Matthew, chapters 5 through 7, known as the Sermon on the Mount. Here Jesus asks that we love our enemies. That we judge not, that we remove the sliver from our own eye, and I think most importantly, that when struck, we turn the other cheek. Basically the sermon is the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have done unto you.
            It finally dawned, through personal test, that these truths are not for the benefit of others per se but as a way to experience first hand the transformative power of compassion in action.  Removing the brick walls as a form of Maitri. An unconditional love and friendship, starting from within, and from there opening to the world.
            As I resist the nature of a situation, I am a mason, laying row after row of brick on which to hang mirrors for projection. If ones’ intent is to “push against”, then walls are a must. But when I respond to that anxious space, that pain, by turning the other cheek, I remove myself altogether from the karmic dance. It’s a way to “lean in”, as Pema Chodron would say. With the wall gone, there is nothing left to push against, and space opens up for something new. A new space for myself.
            Today I know that trying to live the golden rule is like yoga for my heart, bending and stretching me beyond comfort, beyond myself. It takes my love to the edge, where we meet, and smile.

02/10/13 c


Saturday, March 31, 2012

A bell un-rung

They say you can't un-ring a bell
that words once said
like deeds once done
life once lived
cannot be un-made

But every sound like all creation
has a birth
and a journey to end
in echos
that only we sustain

What is the sound of a bell un-rung?
The din of yesterdays dramas gently fading
to rustle and whisper
across falling leaves of who we were
but are no more

This is the sound of a bell un-rung
like an empty desert night




Let compassion be our ears to hear


Monday, February 20, 2012


Hi Love
I see you
Beautiful in full
With cuts and holes
Where light shines in
And you peer out
To show the world
Radiance and love
Being you in the world
The unique, quirky
Strong, with needs
Imperfect perfection
That is you

Hi Love
See me
Whole and beautiful
With past and scars
That steal my breath
To let me sing
Good days and not
With heart and hands
Being me in the world
The unique, quirky
Strong, with needs
Imperfect perfection
That is me

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Peace by Piece.... thoughts on 2012

     By training I am a paleoecologist.  I study how our environments evolved through time in response to all the forces, large and small, that conspired to create the world in which we live.  What we know is that the type of response we see in an ecosystem is related to the scale of the mechanism at play.  Our continents move ever so slowly with shifts in tectonic plates at a temporal scale of millions of years.  Glaciations lasting tens of thousands of years once covered huge portions of our planet, carving the landscapes I look at today.  Rain and wind scour away our plateaus, sending them grain by grain back to our oceans.  Fitting, as they were once the beds of ancient seas, long, long ago.  Piece by piece everything we see in our world today, the mountains, deserts, trees, oceans forests, birds, and even we humans, all come from what was before.  Everything that makes up my body today was once a breath of my ancestors.  They were once mountains, and one day you and I will become a drop of ocean.  But, this is our stuff, our bones, and skin, and sweat.  What of our souls?  What of who WE ARE?
    I think perhaps that like our bodies, our personalities, traits, habits, cultures and societies are all a monument to what has come before.  Piece by piece we carry aspects of yesterday with us as we move into tomorrow, as individuals and societies.  Some are obvious.  I have much the same schedule today as I did yesterday.  I have the same interests, hobbies, passions strengths and faults.  Some of these I am aware of and as such can actively choose to carry with me and pass on to tomorrow's world, or let be.  Others are far subtler.  These are the aspects of each of us buried deep within, passed down from generation to generation.  Combined they create culture upon culture which in turn become the moirĂ©s of our societies, over and over again.  Cycle upon cycle of building and rebuilding the backgrounds of how we act, what we do, what we expect, what we contribute, and what we pass on.  For the most part these pieces of the world we create go unnoticed, and we design it to be so.  Ours is a world created to distract, created to entertain us as we endeavor to build ever more enticing shiny trinkets, physical and mental, that sustain a jumbled mind and utterly confused societies. 
    However, some of our machinations become horrific.  We unleash our darkest aspects as we kill each other in ever more industrious fashions.  We celebrate the creation of a drone so that pilots are now out of harms way, but the bombs are still dropped.  We close our eyes, look at the commercials, and pass this into our future.  We strap bombs to our chests in crowded markets to slaughter innocents, all the while praising our gods, and pass not into paradise, but into our future.  We pillage our only world, enslaving billions, so that a select few can find a level of distraction that is truly awesome.  We create global systems of money and war to sustain graft, greed and excess for the super select, while building fewer schools and more prisons for those whose needs are meager.  We tell ourselves it's THEIR fault, vote for Mr. Perfect, turn our heads to the commercials, and pass into the future.  Turn after turn, cycle after cycle, this has been with little exception the path of humanity.  Our foundations were laid long, long ago and our founding fathers and mothers are many.  And yet we continue, piece by piece, building tomorrow. But not all we build is corrupt and not all bricks we lay are done blindly.  On certain scales there is no shortage of thoughtfulness, insight, compassion, empathy and love.
    Why this essay now?  There are many that believe that we are in a unique period in human history, a time of endings and beginnings.  Much hype and speculation exists with the ending of the Mayan calendar one year from now.  For many it's a fearful time with visions of catastrophe.  The more common understanding of the Mayan calendar however is that this time is simply the ending of one cycle and the beginning of not just the next one, but a new one altogether.  I like this interpretation, regardless of whether or not I believe in the 2012 realm as a whole, and this is why.
    Knowing that everything we are physically, mentally, spiritually, culturally and as societies has been built on the foundations of what came before, I like the possibility of an ending to this cycle.  What if each one of us decided to truly use this time to be conscious of what we pass forward?  What if we truly took note of and responsibility for our actions, words, thoughts, judgments, and habits, of how we as individuals navigate this world.  It starts with the tiniest of seeds in each of us but grows exponentially as we come together as friends and families, in a spirit of compassion and hope in action.  At the level of community, be it physical or virtual, we have the potential to imagine a world far greater than any one of us could imagine alone, and from here we transform our societies, and the future.  Peace by piece, pun fully intended.  It's not the goal but the path, because with each thoughtfully placed addition to our common future, we have succeeded.  In essence to see our future as William Blake wrote, "To see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour". Peace by piece we can end those cycles that need to end and move into this New Year, this New World as truly invested creators.  Namaste my friends,  I see the beautiful creator within you, and thank you for being a part of my world.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


For every exhale
You are my breath In
I could no longer
stop my heart beat
than not breathe
You in Love.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Delicate Flower

There is a delicate flower
residing on a hill not far from the stars
puzzled by the twinkles
it asks "why don't I sparkle as well?"
silly beautiful flower