Purpose Statement

Exploration -> Experience -> Feeling -> Transformation -> Understanding

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bindi's Kung Fu is the best

Fun things to do when sick in bed:

Boston Terrier Smack Down.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Gravity of Balance

I always strive to be elegant and graceful.

My riding technique is velvety smooth like Roy's voice.

Mountain Biking can be a Beautiful Experience

Behind my house, before work one morning.

My first images with my new GoPro HD HERO video camera mounted to my handlebars. Recording the video is fun and easy. Editing the video is a nightmare. It seems that if you want to edit video, you need a Mac, and a powerful one at that. I am doing it on my PC with Adobe Premiere Pro, but it is not an elegant solution.

The camera recorded at 1280x960p, but this little web video is only 320x240, very compressed.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Sandhill Crane Song

I finally put my digital field recorder to good use.

Photos are from Bosque del Apache a year or so ago. Sound is from Whitewater Draw yesterday.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ironman Returns

Went to Phoenix yesterday to watch Ironman Arizona. My college triathlon buddy, Chris Torregino, was there as a spectator cheering on his wife, Angie, in her first Ironman. It was great to see Chris after so many years - he looks great and is still as sweet as can be - and Angie had a great race.



Particularly inspiring was an amazing young man named Rudy Garcia:



The experience was so inspiring, I signed up for Ironman Arizona 2010 today. My goals are:

Finish Ironman Arizona 2010 under 12 hours 30 minutes (my 2007 time).

Finish Ironman Arizona 2011 in around 10 hours and qualify for Kona.

Race Kona in 2012.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Easy Targets

The problem with Christians.

But we should be grateful they give us such opportunities for humor.

Thanks to Andrea for sharing the laughter.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Banging my Spoon (On my Highchair)

Thanks for the emails. It’s not so much that I want to drop out. I want to change the rules of the game.

Some friends and I used to work together for a large corporation. One fellow did really well and will, no doubt, soon be running the place. The rest of us did not do so well and have moved on. The successful fellow immediately understood and accepted the rules of the game and very skillfully played his hand. The rest of us thought the game was folly (it was) and the rules did not apply to us (they did).

Obama is a very clever and shrewd fellow. He is very pragmatic. He has his ideals, but is willing to compromise. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just better.

I detest ideologues and fundamentalists, people blinded to reality by faith or belief. But it is a fine thing to have ideals.

So I guess it comes down to:
1. I have ideals.
2. I think the game, the system, is folly.
3. I recognize that the rules do apply to me.
4. I struggle to skillfully play the game to move the system toward my ideals.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bodhisattva

I had a very frustrating conversation a few weeks ago with a priest. Mental masturbation I would call it. Silly semantics. But it led me to this idea:

Take the whole of human experience – everything we are capable of experiencing (for if it is outside our ability to experience, what relevance could it possibly have for us?) – and split it into two categories:

Category 1: I stand in my backyard at night and look up into the sky. Gazillions of light-years away, hydrogen atoms fuse, a star burns, and photons zing across the universe at 3 x 108 m/s. Some of those photons strike my retinas and I see a star twinkle in the sky. Now I’m sure plenty of philosophers and theologians would debate what I am about to assert, but humor me and go with the flow. It seems reasonable to me that if there were no human consciousness to see the stars twinkling in the sky, the stars would continue to burn and eject photons, that is, they would continue to twinkle. So category 1 is this: All the things within the realm of human experience that would continue to exist, even if there were no human consciousness to experience them. So Category 1 things do not depend on human consciousness for their very existence.

Category 2: I went to my accountant yesterday. I had to file all sorts of paperwork for Hawaii General Excise Tax, the Arizona Department of Economic Security, the Internal Revenue Service, … And I was in a bit of trouble with a few of those agencies for failure to file the appropriate paperwork in a timely manner – I was three years late in one case. Following the law is not only tedious, but quite difficult. The laws are cryptic and obscure. It takes a specialist, a tax accountant or a tax attorney, who works with these laws on a regular basis to navigate through these nebulous obligations. But the government agencies want my money and we, collectively, have given them the authority to punish me for failing to share my wealth. And as I signed form after form, I thought, “How bizarre is this civilization we have created?”

The only way we know how to assign value is to monetize things. Global climate change is very real, yet we, collectively, won’t do anything about it until we monetize the problem with a carbon tax – cap and trade legislation. And what is money? Hold a dollar bill in your hand. It’s a piece of paper. It only has value because we say it has value. And legislation, the law, rules, and commandments … what use would they have outside civilization, outside of society?

And consider something like honor and shame. We have all had the very real experience of shame and yet, shame would not exist were there not human consciousness to create it.

So this is category 2: All the things within the realm of human experience that would not exist were there no human consciousness to create them; value, money, law, shame, good and evil, God.

I have not come up with good names for the two categories yet. My accountant suggested “Real and Artificial,” but rattling around in my head is something from engineering and mathematics like “Ordinate and Super-ordinate,” though I don’t think those are quite right either.

And here is my big realization: We, as individuals in society and collectively as a civilization, spend most all of our time and energy preoccupied with Category 2. Think about that. You spend most all of your time and energy preoccupied with things that are only relevant in the context of the human collective.

When I was in junior high, there was a girl, a classmate, Mary Lou Leggett. I don’t know exactly what happened to Mary Lou or what her clinical diagnosis would have been, but let’s just say she was different in such a way that many of the other children ridiculed and tormented her. It was horrible the way she was treated. I remember watching a kid who lived down the street from me, David McCaida, viciously tormenting her. One of David’s favorite insults was to call me a “Leggett Lover.” And while I never tormented Mary Lou, to my shame, I never defended her from the David McCaidas. I never was her friend. We, collectively, the children of Lake Jackson Intermediate, made life a very real, living hell for Mary Lou.

If memory serves me, I think at the end of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughter House Five, the protagonist is whisked away from earth and placed in a terrarium of sorts where he is studied by an alien species. This after surviving as a prisoner of war in a Nazi concentration camp. It’s been a long time since I read the book or saw the movie, but I think life was pretty good for the protagonist in the terrarium. Would that Mary Lou have been able to live outside us – society, our terribly uncivilized civilization, and all the Category 2 nonsense we create.

For me, one of the consequences of practicing Zazen, is that my mind becomes disentangled from Category 2, and I wind up contemplating Category 1. A contemplation of Category 1 goes something like this: I am, and the stars twinkle, and there is no ultimate essential difference between me and the stars. There is no difference between me and Mary Lou or David McCaida.

And yet when I leave the Zendo and go back into profane, civilized society, I have to function in Category 2. And I function quite well in Category 2. I’m no Warren Buffett or George Soros or John Paulson, but I do OK. Better than most. I have the potential to do really well, but here’s the rub: I disdain category 2. I would be a terrible lawyer or accountant or politician.

So what are my options?

Option 1: Drop Out. I have plenty of friends who have dropped out. They make just enough money to eat and live simple lives. They tend to be quite self-absorbed. Those who have successfully disentangled from Category 2 intentionally stay in the margin and thus don’t contribute much to the collective – as in monastic life. Most normally tread lightly and are not much of a burden to anyone, but they don’t have any sort of insurance or wealth, so when catastrophe strikes, they become dependent on family or society. Some are, in fact, parasites and they leech off their family or surrogate family (church). This seems like an easy escape from Category 2, but ironically, most of my drop-out friends are as preoccupied with Category 2 as everybody else.

Option 2: Sell My Soul. I could throw myself into finance, politics, and the pursuit of power, join the Young Republicans and the Moral Majority, and become a master of Category 2. Raise $20M to fight health care reform (true story).

Option 3: Schizophrenia. Live and function in the ego driven profane Category 2 and take brief respites to Category 1 at the Zendo. I think this is my current situation.

Option 4: Bodhisattva. To be in Category 1, yet function in the profane world of Category 2, contributing to the collective by working for everyone’s enlightenment. The ideal that seems impossibly distant. Geshe Michael. The Dalai Lama. Father Richard Rohr. Jacques Cousteau?

Option 4 is clearly the choice, but it seems impossibly difficult. There must be varying degrees of compromise a bodhisattva makes to be at peace and stay with the rest of us. It’s not black and white like Options 1&2. How does one find the right shade of gray?

Brother Norman recently commended a biography of Jacques Cousteau to me. I don’t know why, but I have a feeling my answer might be in the book. Or maybe just more ambiguity.

Oh, the irony. All meaning and significance comes from us. Meaning and significance are in Category 2. Option 4 is attractive to me, more so than Option 1, not only because it would be peaceful, but it would be meaningful and fulfilling.

OK. I’m done. For now.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Solar Power International

Our booth at the largest solar trade show in the world:

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Prerequisites for Acheivement

Meditation on a morning run:

1. Name/define the goal/dream.
2. Desire.
3. Confidence or Courage.
4. Discipline.
Sent from the field.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Truckasarus Project

When I was a young man, I had the svelte body of an athlete ...

and I had a lot more hair ...

and I took pretty girls on dangerous adventures to wild, remote places (where there were no toilets) ...

and my vehicle of exploration was the most fantastic Toyota 4x4 pickup truck. From the desert beaches of Bahia San Luis Gonzaga, Baja California Sur, to the hang glider launch at King Mountain, Idaho, my beloved truck carried me to my most precious memories.

I have been accurately diagnosed as a puer aeternus, a man with difficulty letting go of the paradise of childhood, Antoine de Saint Exupéry's "Little Prince." Venturing forth in my truck to explore some uncivilized place, to climb a remote granite upheaval, to fling myself off a mountain in my hang glider, to kayak around an island in the Sea of Cortez, was the adrenaline that made my bourgeois professional life bearable, and my truck was integral to my lifestyle, my very identity.

In 93, my poor little truck was very tired. I had driven a gazillion miles over unbelievable - a reasonable person would say "impassable" - terrain. The motor leaked and burned oil and the timing chain rattled like marbles in a can. I had the reasonable idea to put a new motor in the truck, but somehow, once I started the motor replacement project, I became obsessed. The goal went from motor replacement to building the ultimate exploration vehicle.

In 1990, there was an episode of the Simpsons where Bart and Homer went to a coliseum monster truck show to see the ultimate monster truck, "Truckasaurus." My project henceforth became known as The Truckasaurus Project. I own another 4x4, a Toyota 4Runner, that became known as "Junkasaurus" because it too shows the abuse of hard use, though I prefer Angel's more accurate nickname, "El Confiable" - Old Reliable.

When I moved to Tucson in 95, I bought a house and became a householder. Truckasaurus sat in my garage for the next 14 years while all my time and money went into my house. Not surprisingly, my wild adventures of exploration became fewer and farther between until I became a veritable homebody, only leaving the house to go to Home Depot or to work.

I recently paid off my mortgage and most of my home improvement projects are drawing to a close. Liberated from my monthly mortgage payments, I decided it was time to finish Truckasaurus, but I knew I would not have the time to do the work myself, so I decided to pay a mechanic to finish the project for me. We are two months and thousands of dollars into the project and while it makes no financial sense whatsoever, - I could buy a new truck and fix it up cheaper than what Truckasaurus is going to cost - finishing Truckasaurus will be good for my soul. I can already feel the wanderlust building and I am daydreaming of new adventures.

We added a snorkel through the wide flare fenders.

A Buick 231 cubic inch (3.8 liter) vee six with throttle body fuel injection powers a Chevy 700 R4 automatic transmission, a 4:1 Marlin Crawler gear reducer, and the 2.3 Toyota transfer case. The ring and pinions are 5.29's. Detroit Locker in the rear, Lockrite in the front.

Totally cool rear swing gate.

Roll bar in the cab will hold air compressor, welder, inverter, ham radio, ...

The cab will be beautiful soon.

So "Truckasaurus" has been a funny and appropriate name for the last 14 years, but once I realize the goal - the ultimate expedition vehicle - I don't want to christen my resurrected steed with a funny name. So I have been contemplating vehicle names:

Truckasaurus - Funny and appropriate for the last 14 years, but the finished truck will be a symbol of my explorer's soul, and I take that very seriously.

Rosinante - Don Quixote's steed, the fool's ride. Perhaps appropriate, but again, I take my future exploration seriously.

Jacaré - Jacques Cousteau had an amphibious yellow truck that he sent across Brazil when Calypso explored the Amazon. He named the vehicle "Jacaré," a Brazilian Portuguese word for an Amazonian crocodile.

Garuda - The winged steed of Lord Vishnu. Perhaps a more appropriate name for the ultralight airplane I hope to buy soon.

Borrego Cimarrón - Spanish for "mountain goat." An appropriate name for the ultimate rock crawler/mountain climber.

At the moment, I am inclined toward Borrego Cimarrón, though it is a long and complicated name, especially for gringos.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Laddie


This may explain my propensity for drinking and fighting.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Narcissus and Goldmund

Being good and being close to God are very separate experiences. There are many good people who obey all the rules and follow all the laws, and yet they are far from God. And there must be profligate sinners that are in intense, intimate relationship with God. So what is ultimately important? Being good? Or being in relationship with God?

And is this simply dramatic vocabulary for a choice between serving the collective (being good) and serving the self (being close to God)? Because what is "being in relationship with God" if not "realizing one's true self"?
Sent from the field.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

House-a-saurus

Bosque de los BTs.
La barda.

Garage-a-saurus.


View from the street.



Entry columns. Make me want to beat my neighbors with a bone. (I've recently come to realize that my humor is too sophisticated, at least, that's the excuse I'm using to explain why no one laughs at my jokes. So beating neighbors with a bone is a reference to the opening scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the monolith, ... If you still don't get it, try this:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lying with the Heavenly Woman

I heard this myth this weekend and thought it brilliant.

Lying with the Heavenly Woman is an African myth, where the heavenly anima and the mother archetype are often indistinguishable. This story portrays the double anima.

A father warns his young son that one night the heavenly woman will appear and ask to lie beside him. If the son agrees, warns the father, he will be dead the next morning. In order to keep this from happening, the father moves the family to another village. The heavenly woman comes to the son in the new village and he lets her lie with him. The next morning he is dead.

The heavenly woman is horrified because she had no intention of harming the boy. She persuades an old shaman to build a fire and toss a lizard into the hottest part of it, proclaiming that anyone who loves the youth enough to retrieve the lizard from the fire will restore his youth to him. Three people try and fail – the heavenly woman, the mother and the father. Following that, a plain girl who secretly loves the youth walks into the fire, retrieves the lizard, and the boy awakens.

The story doesn’t end here.

The shaman throws the lizard into the fire again and tells the boy that he must make a decision. If he chooses to retrieve the lizard from the fire, the girl will live and his mother will die. If he leaves the lizard in the fire, his mother will live but the girl will die. The story doesn’t tell which decision the youth makes.

In the Calm of Empty Spaces

A solo drive from Salt Lake City to Elko, NV this morning. Stunning, wide-open, empty spaces; big blue sky, Monet-esque reflections of the mountains in the heat shimmering above the salt flats. Memories of Mandy and LAG, the SPY kids on their mission trip to Mexico, of hang gliding and the enthusiasm of younger days. The MP3 player plugged into the car stereo; Cold Play, Joe Satriani, my beloved disco, ethereal meditations.

And the acknowledgement that we really do create our lives, that taking responsibility and consciously creating my future is scary, because the dream is perfectly beautiful and uncompromised, and exciting, because I almost have the faith to risk creating my bliss. And gratitude, that even though I have thus far unconsciously created my life, and in spite of my neurotic fear, anxiety and insecurity, I have been incredibly affirmed and validated.

I am a lucky man.

The future looks bright.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Heaven and Hell

Thanks to Angela for remembering this. I might slightly edit it to make it fit into Scott's World.

Heaven is Where:
The Police are British
The Chefs are Italian
The Mechanics are German
The Lovers are French
and it's all organized by the Swiss.

Hell is Where:
The Police are German
The Chefs are British
The Mechanics are French
The Lovers are Swiss
and it's all organized by the Italians.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Dad Goes Rock Climbing


Free climbing in Colorado.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Secret to Transformation

We do not think ourselves into a new way of living,
we live ourselves into a new way of thinking.

Fr. Richard Rohr

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Nailed by Marie Louise

For the time being one is doing this or that, but whether it is a woman or a job, it is not yet what is really wanted, and there is always the fantasy that sometime in the future the real thing will come about.... The one thing dreaded throughout by such a type of man is to be bound to anything whatever. - Marie Louise von Franz, Puer Aeternus

Rereading my essay On Karma, the part about following my bliss sent me to one of my favorite books where I rediscovered this quote.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Why are you so hungry?

Bones - a reflection on John 6:1-21
William Loader


Dust on her muddy feet,
still smeared from the wet and now blue with cold,
hands stretched out in a meaningless pose of begging;
for UN relief supplies reach the camp only late in the afternoon.
Drawn faced children with bulging bellies,
listless, some sleeping, many dying.
Time.. time to live and time to die.
Time to think - if only, but too tired, too undernourished,
time but no strength to be profound, to reflect, to meditate;
makes the dying easier, the pain less revolutionary.
So don't ask me to think.


Why do you want to tell me stories about food?
Why torment me with your miracles of plenty?
Where have the bread breakers gone?
If only there were such multipliers of loaves and fish.
We'll give them the fish. We'll offer the loaves.
But these are your fantasies,
romantic images of antiquity,
best left to their glint and passed by.
They never were a model for future followers.
At most they are remnants of propaganda,
stunning feats to woo the faithful,
who crown him king.


No bread left over for us,
all the baskets are empty.
All the bellies are full, bloated with nothingness,
crimping weak limbs.


Why are you so hungry?
Why so insatiable?
Why so greedy?
Why so obsessed to munch on stories of plenty,
meals you will never understand,
cardboard catering,
hamburgers and slick chicken served with chips,
feasts at every corner,
gorging without the world's consent,
consumption without communion?


Come with me to the dark places.
See the stones that cry out.
Watch him, poised to market bread from rock,
poised to fail, poised for fantastic feats.
Watch him pathetically hungry,
see his dark eyes,
hear his words, not even his own:
not by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
The mouth of God,
not all consuming,
but giving: words of grace, of hope, of counsel.


See him that dark night
upon the deep restless craving
that threatens to engulf him,
drawing him into universal oblivion,
the ocean of acclaim,
ready to drown the spirit,
swallow the word.
He beats a path on the deep,
the magic of the monsters
turned triumphant for good
and light and life and generosity.
'It is I!'
'It is I!'


Yeah, it's him alright.
Come on you guys, James and John,
Let's drag the boat up,
look at this pile of fish!
How many do you reckon? 153.
Funny kind of a breakfast, BBQ style.
And so it all began: the BBQ.
Put some more snaggers on there,
turn up the gas, makes them real brown.
Here's the tomato sauce,
bloody tomato sauce, can't do without it!


Bloody tomato sauce,
bloody good wine.
It's blue under my skin when I'm cold.
You can see it.
It sticks out, sometimes with little nobs,
bits where there's a crossover or a junction.
When you've got no fat,
you can see them like rivers, rivers of blood,
running down your bones.
One thing about bones;
everything else goes, but they're still there,
like coat hangers, coat hangers for corpses.


There's always this ache,
down here.
Always this ache.
You fill it with Coca Cola,
but it's still there.
It needs blood.
It needs wine.
It needs bread.
Why don't you feel the ache?
Why don't you feel the ache?


I am going to die, like my son.
Corpse, bones, innocent, unbroken.
Don't feed me, not now!
No offerings.
Just receive my word,
the voice of an old dying woman,
who has given birth.
And don't cry for me.
Cry for my children.
Here, look, my son, my children.
Here, look: bread and wine.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

On Karma

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” – Matthew 12:35

Several years ago, my shrink gave me a brilliant little book titled “Reaching Out” by Fr. Henri Nouwen. The gist of the book is this:

  • There are 2 ways of being in the world:
  • A positive way wherein you are confident, secure, and full of faith
  • A negative way wherein you are insecure, fearful, and anxious
  • Your way of being, positive or negative, determines how you relate to:
  • Your Self
  • Others
  • God

If you are at peace internally, you will create a beautiful life. If you are riddled with self-doubt and insecurity, if you are fearful and anxious, you will tragically avoid life. Great, I thought after reading the book. All I have to do is be confident and secure.

But the reality is that everyone is riddled with varying degrees of insecurity and self doubt, even the most beautiful, popular, successful people. When we are small and powerless, bad things happen to us - people use and abuse us, people we depend on abandon us – and we develop defense mechanisms to protect ourselves. We come to anticipate everything that could possibly go wrong, and we organize our lives to protect ourselves from those potentialities. One day, if we are lucky, we realize that in insulating ourselves from negative potentialities, we have also insulated ourselves from love, joy, and spontaneous creativity. Life has become too risky to live and we have become what Jesus called “the dead.”

Buddhism says that life, the universe and everything are essentially empty of any meaning or significance, and that we project meaning and significance onto our life experiences. The mechanism that determines what we project, Karma, is entirely a function of our past; our past thoughts, words, actions, intent. Karma predicts our behavior, our response to life, exactly as Nouwen predicts.

The good news from Buddha (and Jesus) is that, even though we are riddled with insecurity and anxiety and consequently run away from life, there is a method to transform our Karma from a negative projection machine into a positive projection machine.

“Hatreds do not ever cease in this world by hating, but by love; this is an eternal truth … Overcome anger by love, overcome evil by good. Overcome the miser by giving, overcome the liar by truth.” – Dhammapada

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” – Luke 6:27

It is completely counterintuitive, but the way you change your Karma is by giving away exactly what you want. If you want more financial security, give money to charity (like www.imagodeischool.org). If you want more friends, visit lonely people. If you want to be healthy, take care of sick people. If you want to lose weight, feed people healthy food. If you want to be smarter, teach remedial students. If you want to be confident and secure, validate needy people.

My favorite part of the Sunday service at Saint Philip’s is when we pray “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.” Translating this prayer into my own vocabulary: “Give me the confidence and security to follow my bliss.” You see, what I want more than anything is to follow my bliss, to pursue my dream, but I just don’t have the courage – yet. So in the meantime, I am trying to help other people pursue their dreams, and I can honestly say that I feel my self being transformed. Changing one’s Karma is a process of letting go of attachments and inhibitions and becoming receptive to change.

On Emptiness

“Shariputra, all things are essentially empty” – The Great Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra

“In the beginning was Logos” – John 1:1

The monsoon had blown itself out in the afternoon. A cool damp breeze carried the smell of wet desert and the sound of celebratory bird songs across my back porch. I settled into my lawn chair, a tall glass of lemonade at my side. The sun dropped below the mountains (or did the mountains rise above the sun?) and the bottoms of the clouds began to glow an intense orange and then a soft pink. My body still, my mind at peace, my heart rate slowed and I slipped into an accidental meditation. The colors that I saw across the sky; where did they come from - the sun, the clouds, my retinas?

Venus, the evening star, which is no star at all, appeared between the clouds and slowly glowed brighter (or did the sky slowly darken?). Stars twinkled, dusk settled into night, water condensed and dripped down the side of my glass making a puddle on the porch, and the fatigue of the day settled into my bones. Too tired to get up and go to bed, I rested in my lawn chair, eyes open but no longer seeing, mind conscious but no longer thinking.

A scream jolted me from my peace. A child! The neighbor’s child! The neighbor’s little girl is screaming! I bolted from my chair. She’s in the wash! She’s hurt! She’s been bitten by a snake! A mountain lion or a dog has attacked her! I fumbled with the lock on the gate. Keys. My keys are in the house. I turned back to the house, but picked up a shovel to beat off the mountain lion and turned again to hop the fence. But the screaming had stopped. What? Is? Happening? I noticed I was breathing, and my heart was pounding.

First I heard a solitary coyote yelping, but then the jamboree started. It sounded like 50 coyotes, but it was probably half a dozen. It was a celebration. They had killed a rabbit and would live another day. Their riotous yelping said, “Thanks be to God for the abundance of this life!”

I leaned the shovel against the gate and walked back to my lawn chair. The rabbit scream had been terrifying. It sounded just like a human child. The scream had said, “Oh my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Now full of adrenaline and energy, I sat down again and sipped my lemonade, the glass dripping moisture into my lap, and contemplated what I had just experienced. The coyote ate the rabbit; great for the coyote, but it sucks to be the rabbit. I thought esoteric thoughts about how life is simultaneously beautiful and horrible, about natural selection and the cycle of life and how a species transforms over countless generations, each generation making a seemingly insignificant contribution that somehow ultimately totals up to evolution.

And then it occurred to me that what had happened – the coyote ate the rabbit – was essentially empty of any meaning or significance. The coyote, the rabbit and I had all experienced the same event, but the meaning and significance of the event were very different for the three of us. I realized that meaning and significance are not universal and are projected onto events by the individuals who experience the events.

I remembered that 2500 years ago the Buddha told Shariputra that “all things are essentially empty” and 500 years later, St. John wrote that it all begins with Logos. Perhaps, I thought, Logos is the projector within me that projects meaning and significance onto the events of my life. The sun burns, the earth spins, clouds turn vibrant colors, and I have no control of these events - they are “in the hands of God” we might say. But it was clear to me that as I watched a monsoon sunset, I was creating my experience of those events.

The lemonade gone and my heart rate returned to normal, I got up to head off to bed, but one last question arose within me: If I am creating the meaning and significance of my life, am I creating something beautiful and life affirming, or am I creating something tragic, life avoiding, full of fear and anxiety?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More Monsoon


Climbing the Lemmon

Sunday's bike ride:


Distance: 23.4 miles up + 23.4 miles down
Elevation Gain: 6,404 ft
Estimated Calories Burned: 2,858 C

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dreaming the Whale Song

We acquire our perspective, our point of view, from our culture. It becomes so fundamental, it is (almost) impossible to perceive anything without looking through our distorted lenses. The Buddhist understand that everything is essentially empty and we get to create meaning and significance, but even with that recognition, what we are capable of imagining is still quite finite.

Our egocentricity gave us the illusion of dominion over all of creation - we have souls but the animals are for us to exploit. Anyone who suggests that humans and animals are not so different is accused of anthropomorphizing.

I hope someday to dream a human song like brother whale.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

April the Hunter

April just brought a dead quail into the house. I don't know if she killed it or found it dead in the back yard. She's quite the hunter.
Sent from the field.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Imperial Sensibilities 110 Years Ago

The White Man's Burden
Rudyard Kipling
1899

Take up the White Man's burden-
Send forth the best ye breed—
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild—
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man's burden—
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another's profit,
And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden—
The savage wars of peace—
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man's burden—
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper—
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark them with your living,
And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man's burden—
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard—
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:--
"Why brought he us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?"

Take up the White Man's burden--
Ye dare not stoop to less—
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the White Man's burden—
Have done with childish days—
The lightly proferred laurel,
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

All in the Family


Left to right:
Aunt Nancy, Dad's sister
Aunt Joan, Dad's sister
Uncle Ron, Joan's husband
The fantastically handsome fellow is me
Uncle Henry, Dad's brother
Mom
Dad took the picture.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday, June 08, 2009

Raki

Since learning how to properly serve Raki, I've taken to getting schnockered every evening while watching the monsoon sunset, sitting next to a fire in the back yard.
Sent from the field.

Dog Gifts

What do you say when your dog proudly brings you a dead lizard she has stalked and killed?

I think I said, "Oh dear."

And then, when she made sure the lizard was good and dead by violently shaking it, I said, "No more kisses for you."

What can I do? It's her instinct.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Call to Prayer

One of the most moving experiences on the Turkey adventure was having the Imam of the Green Mosque sing the Call-To-Prayer for us.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Barak Obama cok guzel

I'm not going to explain how we got in this situation or what happened, but I will say, it is good to get out into the world and experience what life brings.

Reunion in Izmir

Remember these pictures from 1963?


See the handrail that Dad is holding on to? Well here it is today:

The apartment building Mom and Dad lived in:
Address: Kabaalioglu (1403), Apartment #3, Penthouse
The building entry:
The back of the building showing the roof where the 1963 photos were taken:
The front of the building:
At the front door of their apartment. Dad wanted to knock. Mom did not want to disturb the school teacher who now lives there.
Another front view.
And then we met Mom's friend Jacqueline and her children for lunch. Mom and Jacqueline had not seen each other for 47 years.
Mom and Jacqueline.
Me on the left, Dad, Mom, Jacqueline, Sandra, Guido.
Izmir.