Purpose Statement

Exploration -> Experience -> Feeling -> Awareness -> Understanding -> Transformation -> Liberation

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Snow Birds

Had a lovely day in the desert yesterday photographing snow birds, not too far from the sprawling metropolis of Douglas, AZ. There was snow on the ground and it was chilly when the wind blew across the muddy water. The big attraction is the sandhill cranes; big, beautiful, prehistoric birds. Supposedly there were 20-30,000 of them at this location, although I don't know how anyone could arrive at any sort of realistic estimate. You certainly couldn't count them one by one.

The cranes have a lovely song and I am inspired to get a digital audio recorder so I can record their song to submit to NPR's Sound Clips.

There was quite a flock of snow geese as well and when the smaller white geese flew with the larger gray and brown cranes, they looked like diamonds in the sky.

I shot almost 200 images with my new telephoto lens, mostly of the cranes flying overhead, but right at dusk the local boys started hooting, so I ran over and caught these guys in the trees of the swamp before they headed out to look for dinner.

Just before sunset, the cranes gathered in a field east of the lake, thousands of them, and they all stood facing west, as though they were watching the sunset. Then, at twilight, there was a mass ascention, all of the cranes singing and flapping - it sounded like a some sort of industrial process it was so loud. They all flew over to the lake shore where apparently they spend the night so that they only have to watch 180 degrees for predators, mostly bobcats and coyotes.

It was very soothing to see such abundant life, to listen to the honking geese, the hooting owls and the trill of the cranes, and to take photographs. The only negative of the experience was the mud - thick brown mud that somehow cakes several inches on the bottom of your shoes - but that was a minor inconvenience. I am definitely going back.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Amplifying from corporate to societal

It occurred to me tonight that the dilemma of the corporate environment - being true to one's self vs. being complicit and rewarded - is simply a micro version of the same societal macro dilemma.

A few weeks ago I was leading a group of 14 year olds in a conversation about what they wanted, what their dream life might look like. One young woman cut right to the core of existential angst when she confessed to the group that she just wanted to be pretty so people would like her. And there it is. We just want to be loved.

But society doles out its rewards just like corporations do and few people get rewarded for being their true selves.

You know, people give a lot of lip service to admiring people like Mother Teresa, but look at who our society rewards. The social workers and school teachers can't earn enough money to buy a home while egomaniacal liars and thieves are promoted to be CEOs of the most powerful institutions in the world. Nope, our society's values are no values at all.

And yet we take on false personas, we become people of the lie, so that society will reward us, so that people will like us, so that we might be loved, because we don't love ourselves, because we believe we are unworthy and unlovable.

What does a person look like who completely accepts and loves his/herself? Are they the ones on the extraordinarily narrow road?


My new lens, in the living room, the mother-of-all-lamps.

Looking underneath - SUPRISE!

My cell phone service provider suffered a small catastrophe a few days ago, so if you are having trouble contacting me, email is your best bet.

Photography buddy BillyD has a great image up at a photog magazine’s web page.

So I have lived without heat in my house for a decade or so, but between this being a severe winter and my body fat being lower than it has been in 2 decades, I broke down and dropped a small fortune to have a new heat pump installed. The HVAC fellows were here this AM to remove my old heat pump and they had a little surprise when they found a rattlesnake wintering under the condenser. I caught him with my handy string-in-a-pipe and took him out in the desert and released him. It’s a good thing it is cold because he was quite unhappy being disturbed and if had been warm he would have surely been more aggressive.

Last night I was reading before I went to sleep. Synchronicity at work:

The selective withholding of one's opinions must also be practiced from time to time in the world of business or politics if one is to be welcomed into the councils of power. If people were always to speak their minds on issues both great and small, they would be considered insubordinate by the average supervisor, and a threat to an organization by management. They would gain reputations for abrasiveness and would be deemed too untrustworthy ever to be appointed as spokesmen for an organization. There is simply no way around the fact that if one is to be at all effective within an organization, he or she must partially become an "organization person," circumspect in the expression of individual opinions, merging at times personal identity with that of the organization. On the other hand, if one regards one's effectiveness in an organization as the only goal of organizational behavior, permitting only the expression of those opinions that would not make waves, then one has allowed the end to justify the means, and will have lost personal integrity and identity by becoming the total organization person. The road that a great executive must travel between the preservation and the loss of his or her identity and integrity is extraordinarily narrow, and very, very few really make the trip successfully. It is an enormous challenge. – M.Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

Exactly my experience inside corporate institutions. I must confess, I never found the extraordinarily narrow road. I was the insubordinate, threatening, abrasive, untrustworthy fellow.

And for the tail end of this post:

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Running Meditations

Once upon a time, I worked for a big, political, bureaucratic corporation. The CEO came to talk to my department once a year. One year he asked us, “What is out number one priority?”

“Safety” was the first incorrect reply.

“Customer satisfaction” the second.

“Customer value” the third.

Finally the CEO gave us the correct answer, “Shareholder value.” Since he was and is one of the largest shareholders, this makes perfect sense in retrospect.
There was a big power struggle that resulted in a reorganization of the management of my department. The guy I liked fell from grace and was stuck in a corner. He’s lucky he didn’t get fired. The guy who was made king was a bit of an unknown, but I was wary and skeptical. My peers who swore fidelity to the new king were promoted. I was not, which was quite an ego blow.

One day, the king called me into his office for a little chat and the nexus of what he said was this; “You can be right or you can be effective. It’s your choice.”

It made perfect sense and I had proof of its validity right in front of my eyes, but I could not bring myself to get-on-board. I wound up leaving the company.

I’ve thought about this a lot. The king’s maxim is quite accurate. The question comes down to, which choice will I make? This last year, I did a lot of work with the ultimate big, political, bureaucratic corporation, the US government. For engineers who like efficiency and accuracy, they should put a sign at the entrance to all government offices – Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. Ah, if only Virgil could have guided me through the circles of the government. I was ecstatic when I was able to be mildly effective.

So being effective might not be such a bad option after all. Plus, you get rewarded. Who doesn’t want to be rewarded?

I did a 16 mile run today and I was contemplating the king’s maxim and my choice when the following words rang in my head as clear as if Susan Anderson Smith spoke them right next to me; “Get behind me Satan!” I was stunned. Then I remembered the stories - Satan tempting Jesus, Simon Peter tempting Jesus, Mara tempting Gautama Siddhartha – all with the same rewards.

When I got home, I looked up the quote; “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” And there it is.

But I live in the world of men most of the time. Jesus also said “Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's” so the correct choice must be some ambiguous shade of gray where you are sort of right and sort of effective.

I tell you this; All the paintings of Satan tempting Jesus that depict Satan as horned and hoofed and bestial; they are all wrong. Satan is the most beautiful, suave, sophisticated, elegant, charming fellow you will ever meet.

We of the promethean mind forget that Lucifer is a Latin word meaning "light-bearer," a direct translation of the Ancient Greek eosphorus ("light-bearer"), having mythologically the same meaning as Prometheus, who brought fire to humanity. It was Satan who illuminated our minds. Metaphorically speaking of course.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A different kind of Love

Shameless pork in my backyard, shamelessly porking

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Time to love again.

Sadie I'm advertising here in Tucson that I am available to rescue BTs.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Almost, at times, the Fool.

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
- from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot
Peace to you LAGarooni and many blessings.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I wish I was Andy

Seemingly random thoughts, but they are all connected together:

Every Sunday in church we say, “Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart …”

Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote that what eludes us “… is as a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

My butterfly is:

To know who I am and what is my bliss.
To be at peace in that knowledge.
To be filled with desire to be my true self and follow my bliss.
To have the strength and courage to become my true self and follow my bliss.
To be my true self and follow my bliss.
To be at peace as my true self.
To accept and love and relate to life and other people as they are.
To be loved as my true self.

And now for something completely different.

Hawaiian triathlete acquaintance Andy Baldwin (who you remember as CA’s most eligible bachelor) has been selected as ABC’s The Bachelor and he has put up a fan site for us to love him. I am so inspired, I have started doing sit ups and lifting weights. When my physique is chiseled enough, I’m going to put up a myspace page to solicit lusty women. As I’m sure Andy will prove on his TV program, lusty women only want to love men like Andy and me because of the beauty of our true inner selves. And if that is not the case, I’m sure Andy is having a good time anyway.

Monday, January 01, 2007

An interesting beginning

Last night I dreamed of most beloved Boston Terrier Mandy, a troubled little girl from Chuuk (Micronesia) I used to work with at the homeless shelter in Honolulu, and Jean Michel Cousteau. I woke up with Phantom Walls by The The in my head (lyrics).

I have to go to the grocery store today to buy black eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread for my traditional southern style new years meal.

Happy New Year

Ah, the melancholy of the new year. The passing of time. Death. All captured in a lovely song that I cannot stop playing. Over and over. I even sing along.

A little parable for New Years 2007

Once there was a puppy who loved to play ball, even to the exclusion of food and sleep. No one could ever wear her out. The person throwing the ball always got tired or bored before the puppy was ready to quit. Chasing the ball made her a sleek and beautiful athlete. She would leap into the air and contort her body like an acrobat chasing the bouncing ball.

One day a hunter bought the puppy and took her to a new home. The puppy of course wanted to play ball, but the hunter wanted to train her to retrieve birds he shot out of the sky. For many weeks there was a battle of wills, the puppy trying to get the hunter to throw her ball and the hunter trying to teach her to retrieve dead birds.

The hunter had no use for a ball chasing dog. He wanted a dog that would work for him, pointing at birds hiding on the ground and diving into cold water to retrieve birds he had shot. He started beating the puppy every time she brought her ball to his feet. She soon learned that ball chasing was not an acceptable vocation.

She learned to retrieve dead birds. The hunter was very pleased with her, but she felt no joy bringing the dead birds to the hunter. She grew to be a subdued dog, always lying at the hunter’s feet. Her sleek athletic body grew round and soft and she lost her acrobat’s flexibility.

One day she was leading the hunter, following the scent of quail. When she finally found the quail, she froze and pointed, just as the hunter had taught her. Usually the hunter would approach and flush the quail, but he never came. She waited an eternity before she dropped her point and turned to see where the hunter might be. She listened. She looked. The hunter was gone.

She searched everywhere they had been that morning and returned to where the hunter had parked his truck. The truck was gone. She was very confused and afraid.

She roamed around the countryside for several days, not exactly sure where she was going or what she was looking for. She found water to drink on the ground, but she was very hungry. She came upon a farmhouse and rather sheepishly approached to see if she could find something to eat. A boy came out of the farmhouse and called to her. He scratched her ears and talked to her and took off her electric shock collar. He knew she was a lost hunting dog.

The boy’s parents said that if the hunter did not come looking for the dog, the boy could keep her. The boy bathed and fed her and the hunter never came looking for her.

A few days after arriving at her new home, the boy produced a tennis ball and waved it in front of her nose. He asked her if she knew how to play ball. He tried to excite her and make her playful. He talked to her in a silly voice. He stuck the ball in her mouth and pretended he was wrestling it away from her. He jumped around and faked throwing the ball. Finally he straddled her shoulders and embraced her head and neck, rubbed the tennis ball in her face, spoke to her in a crazy crescendo that culminated with him leaping up and throwing the ball.

As she watched the ball leave the boy’s hand, she was not sure who she was or what she wanted to do. Was she the ball chasing puppy? Was she the beaten, obedient retriever? Did she want to chase the ball or did she want to eat and lie at the boy’s feet or did she want to do something completely different? What is this new life with the boy to be?

She was paralyzed with confusion and fear.

We shall find out what happened next in 2007.