Sunday, December 27, 2009

Rinse and Repeat

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with a sense being on a too-familiar path.

I conceived of this religion from a point of desperation, a borderland where hope for humanity and the expectation of happiness seemed in danger of falling behind me, while ahead lay only desolation.

Have you been to this place? Have you seen too clearly the warts and wickedness that people choose to show the world, while joy and decency appear only as far-off heat shimmers in a desert? Having reached and been disappointed by too many mirages, do you now doubt that the desert itself has any end at all?

Well, if you are reading this, then you have proof that things are not so bad as you fear.

I am no mirage. I am real. I care about people -- I care about how the world turns out. If you feel the same way, then we have cause for jubilation. This life is not all carelessness and hurtfulness and callous disregard for others.

You are there, and I am here, and between us, I assure you there are a thousand like us, a legion caught by our own ability to imagine a world much better than this one.

What we must do, you and I, is to stop seeing that imagination as a curse that holds us in a place ever-inferior to our mind’s green landscapes, and see it instead as a gift and a tool.

For without those who can imagine a better world, how can the world ever improve itself?

Let us step off the path that leads into the desert -- because the desert, too, is just a figment of our imaginations.

Stand with me, clear-eyed, in the real world, and remember that all our imaginings have been spurred by true things, by things we have actually seen. Having seen good, we can create better. We must simply have the will to try.

Thank you, goddess of love, for the ability to recognize, to remember -- to rededicate.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Philosophy from a 1914 Pulp 55

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with a not-so-literary reference to a book that I have not actually read. Nonetheless, it is a source of wonder to me.

The interior world

Vivid ever with its unsetting sun
a realm of eternal day


wild with life of every imagined sort
and with those too

that have yet to be dreamed

gloried and mysterious
shrouded in stone

A sky inside - impossibilities made real

Fear not

Doubt not

Find your way ...
to Pellucidar


Thank you, goddess of love, for Edgar Rice Burroughs, a man who walked a fascinating path between the real and the fantastic -- perhaps because he understood that what is real is also fantastic.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with a bit of the spring taken out of my step.

A few days ago, in another forum, I let myself be egged into saying a mean thing. I knew as I said it that it was a mistake, and yet I somehow bought into the delusion that expressing my frustrations in a mean way would make me feel better. Other people had been saying plenty of mean things, and crazy things as well, and I let myself get dragged into it, trying to show them what was what.

Predictably, the whole thing ended up with me feeling even more frustrated, disgusted, and angry than ever, but with the added benefit of feeling guilty and entirely foolish as well.

I relearn this lesson every once in a while: that it is the particular talent of real evil to suck even well-intentioned people into a vortex of anger until they find themselves infuriated with one another even though there's no good reason for it. It's a stupid thing, once you're in that vortex, to swim deeper into it. But at least in that instance, you have the excuse of already having your judgment clouded.

Far stupider is to stand outside that vortex, see the raging blatherers within it, and then dive in to tell them how ridiculous they're being.

Thank you, goddess of love -- not for the first time and probably not for the last -- for humbling lessons.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A Touch Across Miles 55

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with the following wish:

Be well, because the world needs you.

Be well
in body
in mind
in heart
in soul.

Be well, because the world deserves you
and you do not deserve its rough handling

its slings
its arrows.

They will strike at you.

But let them touch not
that shining brilliance
within you.

Be well,


Thank you, goddess of love, for friends faraway and any chance that I have to help them.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Let Us Raise a Glass

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you from those strange borderlands that lie between happiness and discontent.

It is human and natural to yearn for an improvement in our lot -- to want more of what we have that is good, and less of what troubles us. I've experienced some exceptionally good things this week, and yet I find myself chafing at the fact that these have been irregularities and exceptions, not dependable parts of my everyday existence. I wish for a life that consists more of such high points. I wish for a way to keep them near at hand, accessible upon demand -- comfortable and familiar instead of surprising and rare.

My everyday existence is perfectly fine. It mixes a considerable amount of physical, emotional and financial comfort with only a modest dash of stress and aggravation.

Why, then, does the exceptional moment so make me pine for a more exceptional life?

In part, I suppose, it is because I desire the fulfillment of dreams. I write my novels and dream of publishing them and earning a living at it. I listen to music and watch movies and dream of existing in a constant state of aesthetic satisfaction. A great deal of my life is lived inside my head, and because there are so few limits in there, I find myself constricted whenever I return to the confines of the real world.

But in part, it is also simple greed: a failure to be satisfied with the riches within my grasp.

And what does it really take to overturn that greed? I think that it can be done with just six words, if they are taken and held to and believed.

"Look at all that I have."

It's not merely a question of whether the glass is half-empty or half-full. If you think about it, all glasses are always full. It just happens that sometimes they're partly full of air. And no, you can't drink air -- but you need it to live, and it's all around us.

Do I have a full glass of sweet and blissful nectar? No. But the portion of my glass that holds no nectar is not empty. It overflows with the stuff of the world. It is filled by an atmosphere that I need to live.

Even if people occasionally pollute that air with their smoke.

"Look at all that I have."

Thank you, goddess, for a world and a life that are always full -- and for drinks that may not hold all the volume I would like, but sustain me and bless my tongue with flavor nonetheless.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee

Monday, July 27, 2009

Strangers in Need

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with a story.

Earlier today, I passed a woman crying on a bench in the Denver airport. She had her head in her hands, and for a moment I assumed this was simply another stranded passenger among many, waiting exhaustedly for a delayed flight. Then I heard her sobbing, and I knew better.

An instinct struck me, to ask if she was all right. And then, just as quickly, that instinct capsized beneath a wave of doubt. Would she be angry at the intrusion? Embarrassed? Would I do more harm than good?

I walked on. I checked in at my gate. I pondered my noble impulse and the cowardice that had tripped it up.

I walked partway back.

She still sat there, wiping her eyes now. Had she recovered from her moment of grief? I looked out the windows at planes on the taxiway.

I looked back down the hallway again. Other passengers walked by the woman. One glanced at her with a look that suggested she must still be crying.

I made up my mind to do what I knew I ought to do. I walked over and asked if she was okay. She didn't quite hear, and asked, "What?"

I repeated myself. "Are you okay?"

She nodded and said something quickly, "Yeah" or "Uh-huh," just enough to shield herself from an admission of her pain. Her eyes met mine with an uncertain mixture of confusion and gratitude, as though she couldn't quite understand why a stranger would be expressing concern.

"Good luck, then," I said, "with whatever it is that's bothering you."

She said, "Thank you."

And she meant it -- I knew she really meant it, even though she didn't say anything else.

Sometimes you can tell these things.

I hope she's okay.

Thank you, goddess of love, for the opportunity to help -- even if only in the smallest of ways.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee

Friday, July 17, 2009

The World 55

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with a quick poem.

You cannot change the world.
It is too big. Its ugliness is too ingrained.
There are over six billion people upon its ancient surface,
each of them flawed, many of them badly so,
especially some of the ones in charge.

You're too small
and too weary.

You cannot change the world ...

But we can.

Thank you, goddess of love, for help.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Masonry of Thought 55

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with 55 words that I hope may come in handy.

You can make yourself believe a great many things, simply by repeating them over and over and over again.

Good things.

Bad things.

Wonderful things.

Terrible things.

Lovely things.

Hateful things.

Keep that in mind the next time you start to tell yourself something.

Is it really the kind of thing you want to stick?


Thank you, goddess of love, for positive focus of mind.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Sea

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with a soft whisper, like water across sand -- hushed, yet as unstoppable as the tide.

A wave, you know, is the transfer of energy. We see them breaking upon the shore, and we think that they are nothing but the ocean's indecision: forward, retreat, forward, retreat. But that is because we think of waves as moving water, when in fact water is only the medium through which the waves travel.

Each wave is its own phenomenon. It is born of wind or tide and then moves ever forward from the moment of its birth. Its swell may appear indistinguishable, to us, from the swells of its infinite brethren, but it will crest and break in its own unique way as it arrives at the shallows, and it will reach to its own unique height upon the sand as it flows and slows to its final stretch.

Our lives, too, carry energy. And move forward. And seem, at times, to be mere erratic vibrations back and forth.

But we must not fall prey to the illusion that we are mere blind repetitions of a cycle. The world is the medium through which our lives move, just as the sea is a highway to the waves.

By reaching, and reaching, and reaching -- as far and as high as we can go -- we help to give the world its beauty. To remember this is to be at peace: to know that we will end in a cool sigh upon the sand, to the sound of birds and the caress of the sea breeze, with a very blue sky high above.

Thank you, goddess of love, for the sea through which I move.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee

Monday, June 15, 2009

Two Choices

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with something that I am normally leery of: a dichotomy.

On my jog this evening, I was listening to “Arrows from the Sun” by Therion. I can’t tell you what the song is supposed to mean -- frankly, the lyricist for Therion is pretty whacked out. But I hear the words as an ode to the light of human creativity, so it started me thinking about the choice to create.

As I jogged, I couldn’t escape this conclusion: if we do not choose to create, then we choose destruction. There is no middle ground.

The reason for this is simple. The universe operates on a principle of increasing entropy. Things wear out. They fall apart. That which is useful turns into that which is utter flotsam, if we do not act to maintain it.

It would be nice if we could simply leave things to their own devices and expect them to keep humming along, whether those things might be automobiles, systems of government, or personal relationships. But the truth is that if we don’t expend energy on a regular basis, things collapse.

So we can either choose to create -- to invest ourselves in the world around us in order to prop it up and keep its polish shining -- or we can choose decay, degeneration, and eventual chaos.

And once you recognize this fact, it’s no good complaining about it, because complaint is a destructive force, and destroying, even in an off-handed way, will only leave you empty and likely to engage in other acts of destruction.

So I choose to create. It’s hard, and I don’t always succeed at it. I backslide. I mope. I let myself coast for days at a time. But eventually the truth becomes inescapable: I cannot be happy if I am not bringing some form of light to the world -- even if it’s only cleaning my bathroom or weeding the lawn.

Thank you, goddess of love, for the spark that lets us fight entropy.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with an armful of reassurance and a strong hand upon whatever lonely shoulder you may turn my way.

It has been my experience that people are kind of lousy at showing affection. This is not true of all people, of course. My sister and mother and brother are all pretty successfully affectionate. But I have other family members whose affections have always been conditional, and I've been involved with people at various times in my romantic life who've had difficulty showing affection.

And I myself am no wizard at warmth either. I'm bad at consoling people who've had a misfortune. I can never figure out what to write when a coworker loses a family member and the sympathy card goes around for signatures. I get very nervous when saying goodbyes to people who are on that boundary between "friend" and "just an acquaintance." Do I hug them? Do I shake hands? A friend expecting a hug might find a handshake disappointing. An acquaintance expecting a handshake (or just a "see you later") might find a hug overfamiliar. This should not really be a dilemma, and yet I find it vexing on a regular basis.

Still, it seems to me that the most important thing about affection is that we try.

There is a certain good that is done to the world when a friend receives a hug at a moment when he or she really needs it, and I think that creating such a good outweighs the occasional discomfort of an acquaintance who expected only a wave and a farewell.

Yes, affection is a signal, and people can misread it, and all sorts of confusion and disarray can sometimes result. But it makes the world a warmer place, and the world could really use that.

Thank you, goddess of love, for the bravery that it sometimes takes to be affectionate, and for the glow we feel when that bravery brings light into another person's day.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you a bit damp with sweat and in need of a shower.

I jogged tonight, instead of walking. That's because I got some crummy cholesterol results today -- my "good" cholesterol, the kind that's raised by exercise, was in the toilet, and my triglycerides had shot through the roof. So apparently just going out for a walk every night wasn't exercise enough.

I found it strangely harder to think while jogging than while walking. Maybe all the blood was going to my muscles and my heart instead of my brain. But that ended up being a good thing. Sometimes I think too much and it doesn't do me a lick of good, but when I back off and just zone out, things seem to settle into place.

The fact that I bothered to jog, and the jogging itself, and the zoning out while jogging, may have helped a little with my attitude, which has lately been unpleasantly fatalistic. I've been in a major "what's the point" mode for a while now, and although I've kept up with many of my activities, it's been a chore to do so and much less fulfilling that I would hope. 

But I jogged anyway. I jogged because, even if there seems to be little point at the moment, it would really suck to hit 50 or 55 and rediscover my zest for living and then keel over from a heart attack. Even worse would be having one of those heart attacks that leaves you disabled, from a blood clot or other complication. I jogged because I want the chance to enjoy life, even if there are big chunks of my life that I'm not enjoying right now.

I'd like to tell you that I came home feeling great -- riding a wave of revelation, ready to take on the world tomorrow. But I actually just came home feeling okay. And then I sat down and wrote out some notes on the next thing I need to do in my book, which had been eluding me for some time, and I felt okay about that too.

Now I've written a nice big post here for the first time in a long time, and I'm feeling okay about that as well.

And while "okay" may not be great, it does beat the heck out of "what's the point?"

Thank you, goddess of love, for a working heart and for small victories over nihilism.

Lovingly yours,
A devotee

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sometimes Small Things Are All You Can Do 55

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with the holy word, "Love." Here are 55 words I came up with tonight.

I have worked today. Devoted time to family. Written at my novel. I am hurt, in wrists and arms. In my psyche. I am tired. Yet I take pains, now, literal pains, to write this for you. You deserve to know someone cares. May I ask, please -- go and let someone else know it too?


Thank you, goddess, for the strength to make an effort, even if only a small one.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee

Friday, April 24, 2009

Goddess 55

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you in a spirit of observance. I wrote the following in my journal, and when I counted it out, it was exactly 55 words without even trying, so I figured I'd post it.

She lives in every moment that joy lights the eyes. She dwells in those places of laughter, those smiles of contentment. When the heart stirs, she is there, and also when the warm glow of sleep in a comfortable bed holds us half-conscious at the cusp of awakening, while pleasant dreams wind themselves to conclusion.


Thank you, goddess of love, for serendipity.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I Am Moved

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with a kinetic enthusiasm -- a vibrance that is born in momentum.

While out walking tonight, I found myself thinking how important it is to be in motion. 

(In the interest of full disclosure, I had this epiphany while listening to “Girls on Film” by Duran Duran, which may undercut both my philosophical credibility and your faith in me as an aficionado of rock and roll. But if it’s any help, my iPod followed that with “Crush ’Em” by Megadeath.)

Few things deaden the soul so thoroughly as the sense of being inert. Stable becomes static becomes stagnant, and when we feel that we are stuck, everything else begins to turn grey -- regardless of the circumstances in which we have become entrenched. Stillness closes in on us like a trap.

Yet even as we decry our immobility, the urge to move, to work our muscles and propel ourselves, somehow eludes us once we reach that state of entrenchment. We feel that we have been deserted by our winds, abandoned by the stars that might have shown us our way across the sea. The world becomes an endless, flat sargasso, dull and hopeless, where we wait and wait for a new breeze, slowly consuming our stores of water and sustenance until we risk desperation so great that we might drink of the brine and descend into madness.

We forget, somehow, that a brisk walk creates its own wind. That our thoughts can, if so directed, travel in paths that are not circles, to reach destinations that are not bleak.

Remember this: it is better to wander -- utterly lost but determined that you should find something -- than to sit and bemoan your paralysis.

Thank you, goddess of love, for a sense of progress, and for a mystery that I can progress toward.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Seize What You Believe

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with a challenge that I am attempting to live up to myself.

Objects come and go. You may attain them, they may please you, and then they may break or become lost or develop a depressing malfunction.

People come and go. They may like you, they may love you, they may betray you, they may desert you.

Circumstances come and go. The job you hate may pass; the job you love may hand you a pink slip. A favorite club may close. The town you have come to know like the back of your hand may suddenly put itself in your rearview mirror.

But none of this means that life is a ceaseless parade of dangled hopes and lost possessions. The fact of transience simply is. It is not good or bad, but merely a fact.

And in one critical way, you can stand firm against transience -- against the ephemeral nature of this world.

You can believe in something, and insist upon believing in it, and hold fast to it.

And who knows? Maybe someday that adamant conviction, if properly displayed, will win you the perfect job that you can ride right through to retirement. Will carry you to a place where you can settle until the end of your days. 

Will attract someone who sticks and does not leave.

But even if it doesn't, your belief alone will get you through -- if only you grip it tightly enough and refuse to let go.

Thank you, goddess of love, for the knowledge that I can be larger than this fickle, fleeting world, as long as I simply demand that I be so.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Importance of Being Unimportant

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you from a whirl of chaos, left by the near passing of catastrophe. But I don't intend to write about that.

A very wise person recently suggested to me (not in so many words) that we serve our friends best by being ourselves.

We are important to our friends because of who we are -- not what we do or what we say. They are drawn to us because they enjoy the kinds of things that we naturally do and say when being ourselves.

They need us -- to the extent that they do need us -- because something about the kind of people we are calls out to them.

In good times, this principle requires no conscious acknowledgment or thought on our part. We do as we do, our friends do as they do, and through that wonderful synergy and coincidence, all of our bright lives are made brighter.

But there is a challenge to this simple truth that occurs when things are not so smooth. When a friend is hurting, when a friend could clearly use some comfort or aid, we begin to search for the right thing to do to help. This is not necessarily bad, especially if we are the kind of person who ordinarily spends a lot of time thinking about the right things to do.

However ... if we pressure ourselves, if we insist to ourselves that it is SO important to find the right thing that's needed to help, two insidious things can begin to occur. First, the pressure may cause us to drift from that state of simply being ourselves -- of behaving in the way that caused us to be important to our friends in the first place. Second, our brains may play a little trick on us, perform a little slip that takes us from thinking, "It is SO important to me to help my friend," into thinking, "I need to help my friend because I know how important I am to them."

In pressuring ourselves, we distort ourselves. In focusing too much on the importance of helping, we inflate our own sense of importance. Soon, despite having started from the best of intentions, we have moved into a mode of behavior unlike our ordinary one, a mode which may or may not bear any resemblance to the behavior that drew our friends to us in the first place.

The lesson is, be there for your friends -- but be there by being yourself. Remember that you can't fix your friends, just as they can't fix you. But if you brighten their world by remaining true to the person they find so entertaining or engaging, then you may help them find the support they need to fix themselves.

Don't worry about how important your help might or might not be. Just be as you are, and if you're the right kind of person to start with, your friends will find all the help they need in you, on their own, and naturally.

Thank you, goddess of love, for humbling experiences, and for friends who stick with you even if you go off the rails sometimes.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee