A lament: On the shortness of time

Photo by Ihor Malytskyi on Unsplash

Our time here in these bodies is short. Why do we spend so much of it peacocking, posturing, and one-upping? Why do we fill our precious minutes comparing, positioning, and straining?

I know my culture tells me that I have to differentiate myself from you. My survival instincts and the cultural collective — they command me to play chess with my personal relationships and focus on coming out ahead. Or at least capitalizing on every interaction.

I pray that I can become free of this curse. 
May I never forget that this very breath is a gift. 
Help me to love. 
Help me extend comfort and joy and caring.

Why is this so hard to do?

We are beloved children of God. We have been free and forgiven since before our first breath.

Our harmless flaws and imperfections are beloved and our hurtful transgressions are unnecessary.

Only human senses and the voice of the accuser — Satan — can define us by these things.

But God only sees the anointed one in us, no matter how much damage we inflict or how far we think we stray.

God, help keep me turned to you. And help me remember that this is impossible if I don’t turn towards my siblings here on Earth.


This lament was first published in The Jonas Letters.

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Time is running short — love hugely

Photo by Jedd

This one’s short — a little reminder, if you will…

It can seem that there are so many wrongs to right. So many dragons to slay. So many minds to change.

But just like the length of this post, our lives are also short. Therefore…

Life is short. There’s not much time left to love others.

We humans can do this. We can love, purposefully and deeply, with no reason at all, against improbable odds.

Don’t rob yourself of this sacred opportunity.

Time’s a-wastin’.

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More from the heart than by the book

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I’m reading a book by the late, great Fr. Thomas Merton called New Seeds of Contemplation*. I’m on page 141 of 304 and am noticing something…

Fr. Merton — one of the most esteemed contemplative monks in modern history — has not used one Bible quote yet.

I. Love this…

I’m of the belief that it’s great for clergy to understand theology at a super deep level, but when it comes to sharing their ideas, testimonies, accounts, and confessions for the general populace, they’re better off using their own unique God-given words.

What if clergy spoke more from the heart than by the book?

Especially nowadays in our postmodern world. We’re so far removed from the historical context of biblical times. Even for someone like me who loves geeking out on this stuff and is dedicated to studying it, it’s a stretch for the brain box.

I believe the stories, poems, and accounts shared in the Bible are timeless (even the horrid elements of it), but it’s such a stretch for people living in 2019 (let alone in America!) to be able to decipher it without strain. It’s almost like clergy and theologians need to speak two languages, each at the appropriate time.

In our church, we have 2–3 short readings (just enough to stay rooted in tradition — which is fantastic) and then the sermon is a very human, personal account from the pastor. It’s a sermon, not a technical Bible study or teaching, per se (it’s a subtle difference at times, but important).

For example, when I go see a doctor about my knee, it’d be weird if, during my appointment, she pulled out her huge textbook from medical school, plunked it down on the table, and started reading from it in order to get me to believe that she knew what she was doing.

No, doc… I’m already here. And I don’t want you to teach me how to be a doctor. My time, attention, and trust are valuable. Connect with me on a human level. Let me know you care. Make me feel safe. And then… fix my knee. I’m not here to be dazzled by your book knowledge. I’m SO glad you understand this stuff, but it’s not my role. My role here, as your patient, is to be healed.

(It’s a rough metaphor, so please hold it loosely.)

Now, of course, there are folks who want to go deep into biblical texts. For them, yes… Make space for them to bust out the good book and geek out.

There’s a difference between a personal reflection on the text and biblical inside baseball.

Most of us want our hearts moved instead of being brought up into our heads more than we already are in life.

[This is another note-to-self; not a critique of any particular individual.]

  • This book is blowing my mind, btw — methinks it’ll have to be a book study for Patreon supporters soon (link in bio).

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Only those with ears to hear

Photo by Monika Kozub

If you’re a teacher of any sort, it can be frustrating that not everyone gets everything you’re teaching in exactly the way you intend it to land.

People don’t hear things they’re not ready to hear.

If the change you’re seeking to make hasn’t already happened inside of them — if even in some small way — they’ll be like teflon to your idea.

So why do it? Why do the hard work and undergo the vulnerable act of teaching and sharing if you’re only getting across to people who are already on the way towards where you want them to go? Won’t they get there anyway?

Because they need you to say it...

All they have now is a whisper on the inside. They need a proclamation that comes from outside of them to complete the loop and make the change they seek to make (and sooner than later is better, so you may as well teach them now).

Be the needed voice to those whose ears are ready to hear it.

Everyone else will have to wait.


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A prayer of release

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

Dear God, 
none of it 
is mine to keep.

Please, take it all.

I sit here 
hands open 
and gazing towards you.

Take it, dear Divine.
Leave none of it sullied by my fumbling hands, 
shaking knees, 
or cracking voice.

Take all of it up into you, dear Lord.
I have no idea what I’m doing.
I’ve failed in so many ways.

However, I know 
that your love is branded on my soul
and your mercy and grace,
inescapable.

I turn to recognize
you now, 
dear Lord.

I breathe a sigh of relief
as my shoulders are lightened.

No matter how deeply my sins have cut,
I know that all is redeemed
in you.

Please, God 
may your guiding hands 
direct my trembling ones

I hold this life, 
our shared one, 
in deep reverence.

May I be assured 
that none of this has been affected 
by my small, 
false 
self
But is rather part of a larger sphere
a more expansive realm
that remains untarnished by my pettiness and fear.

Oh lord, I pray
that you take it all

And may I be open 
to your healing and grace

Amen.


If you’re enjoying The Jonas Chronicles and can support me to keep doing this work (while enjoying some perks), click here to view my Patreon page.

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The work of a prophet

Photo by Viktor Juric

The prophet doesn’t end conversations…
She starts them. This is her motivation.

She’s not approaching this like an accountant, a surgeon, or a trial attorney. The point here isn’t to wrap this thing up nice and tidy.

There will be feelings hurt and relationships lost. Bridges will be burned and tears will flow across the most unintended cheeks. She isn’t getting out of this without an emotional flesh wound (maybe even a real one).

The prophet approaches her work with the posture of starting a fight, not finishing it.

The prophet knows her place. She isn’t a mercenary. She knows that physical violence just keeps the evil in circulation. And she’s not willing to let that happen. Her words are her missiles and her rapidly beating heart is her fuel reserves.

She taps into a well of wisdom that runs far deeper than her short history on this earth.

The prophet knows she may never live to see how things turn out. When the dust settles, she may be in the ground.

But without her voice — without her being the living and breathing impetus for this conversation to start — the corruption her soul rails against will remain intact.

And she can’t live with that possibility.

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I am the lava monster

Photo by Daniel Ruyter on Unsplash

You’re the dad.
That one.
The one at the park with your kid and wife.
You leap from platform to platform.
You climb with great speed up the ladder.
And slide with deft down the twisty slide. 
All the while
Shouting with glee.

I’m the lava monster, yaaaaahhh!!!

Us other dads have clearly been outmatched.
We have never been
Nor will we ever be
As fun or as lively
As you.

We look at each other
Hands in our pockets. 
Some of us try to step it up. 
We run a little.
Some of us clap.

But we all watch…

Watch as you fly across the zipline.
Feet kicked up high.
Will it hold?
Or will it snap?
Sending you to the earth
Knocking the wind out of you
And bringing the lava monster
To its demise.

Your dockers and wingtips are like a professional dad uniform.
Amazing, the support they provide
As you jump off the top level by the steering wheels and drums
Landing far below.

That one was a little much.
Pretty sure that was against park rules.
Other kids are copying you now.
Mothers are angry.
And I see it might have hurt your right knee a little.
But victorious you rise
Arms outstretched and hairy belly shamelessly revealed
To all the dads who bow at your feet
As you shout Braveheart-style…

I am the lava monster! Yaaargh!!

Now you’re on the see saw
Having so. Much. Fun.
Bouncing higher than ever.
Face red.
Smile beaming.
I’ve never seen a see saw move so violently.
Your little girl flew off.
I think she might be hurt.
Nope, she’s good.
You leap off and run to the rope ladder web thing
Where you scale to the top
So fast
So fast.

You run up the twisty slide.
Pretty sure that’s another infraction.
Other kids follow your lead.
More angry moms.
More angry moms.

You are that dad.
You are the lava monster.

Now my little girl is asking me
Daddy, can you be the lava monster?

No, honey, I can’t. 
There is only room enough for one at this park.

She’s disappointed, I know. 
She turns away and stares at you
As you spin around on the spinny thing
Maxing out the weight limit.

Bold move, friend.
Bold move.

You shout and you growl and you spit your fire
Just like a real life
Lava monster.

Other dads are starting to leave now
Clearly defeated
Clearly outmatched
Clearly out-funned.

Sweat oozes out of every pore of your brow.
Your work clothes aren’t the breathable type.
They might be great for selling insurance
But not for owning the role of
The lava monster.

You’re spent now.
Good show, old sport.
I want to walk up and shake your hand.
Good match. 
But that might just be weird.

You gather your clan.
Jump in your van.
And off, you speed.
Another day won.

It’s just me and my daughter there now…

I am the lava monster!!!!! Yaaaargh!!!!

And she says it…

Dad… Stop acting weird.


Jonas Ellison is a writer who blogs about his life over at Higher Thoughts, one of the most popular single-author publications on Medium. Subscribe to his daily-ish missives and musings at JonasEllison.com

Independently Wealthy

“A man in a suit jacket tying his tie” by Andrew Worley on Unsplash

I was reading an interview with Irish poet/philosopher/overall badass, David Whyte. The interviewer asked him what people’s reactions are when they ask him what he does. Here’s what he said…

I either say matter of factly, “I’m a poet.” I know that will always lead on, so sometimes I just say, “Oh, I’m independently wealthy.” Which is actually how I feel. That has another kind of accuracy.

I just love that.

“I’m independently wealthy.”

Hell. 
Yes.

This is why Whyte is so insanely creative. Because he carries this consciousness throughout his work and his life.

We’re not talking about dolla-dolla bills here. I’ve known monetarily rich people who live like prisoners. What we’re talking about here is creative freedom.

Creative freedom doesn’t happen when you’re trying to win someone over or gain their approval.

What if you could carry this knowingness with you? How would your life be different? How would your work be different?

Maybe you’d write what you really want to write.

Maybe you’d laugh off those nascent worries.

Maybe you wouldn’t base your entire body of work on that one angry email you got from an anonymous reader.

Maybe you wouldn’t feel the need to pander to them.

Maybe you’d be freer in your word choice without feeling the need to over-explain.

Maybe you’d be more clear and direct.

Maybe you’d just say the damn thing.

Maybe you’d loosen up a bit.

Maybe your inner wealth would reflect the innate inner wealth of others.

Maybe others would really dig that. (Even though, they very well may not — but it doesn’t matter because you’re independently wealthy, remember?)

I know I would.

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All of it is perfect

Photo by Jonathon Young on Unsplash

Poets and mystics have long pointed to the notion that every single thing is an integral part of the perfection that is… life.

By ‘perfection’, we’re not just talking about things that makes use warm, fluffy, fuzzy, and happy inside. That would only be half — at best — of the grand puzzle.

I’m talking famines, lice, tics, rashes, boils, poverty, constipation, cancer, end-of-days-style weather, senseless crime, fraud, deceit, bad coffee, unexpected phone calls from your kid’s teacher, warm beer, the Hallmark channel, botched haircuts, reruns of Maury Povich at the dentist, bad hair, stubbed toes, bitten tongues, and chicken pox.

I’m also talking about that unexpected windfall from your industrialist grandfather, all green lights in one day, that perfect parking spot at Trader Joe’s, straight-A’s, expressed love from your child, winning at Scrabble, cleansing bowel movements, groundbreaking conversations, raises at work, and dying in your sleep the evening after running a 5k at the age of 85.

And sandwiched in between those things is… you. The divine bubble of your consciousness. In that sacred space lives your innate desire to improve conditions.

Your desire to improve conditions is part of the grand perfection of life.

We’re constantly being called to step up.

This won’t ever stop. Life won’t ever stop asking for more through us.

So we may as well just relax into our roles, right? Stop stressing about it so much.

Maybe then we could just put one foot in front of the other and engage with life knowing this isn’t some urgent race towards a finish line, but rather a surrendering to a divine tug that pulls us towards the next step of our unfoldment in this ever-expanding universe.

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It’s all around you

by Eduard Militaru on Unsplash

I’m not making this stuff up... Many have said it before... Being open and connected to the moment-to-moment spontaneous unfoldment of life is essential to creative growth.

We get stuck when we just sit and stagnate in our heads. And more of us today are doing ‘thought work’ where we spend large swaths of time doing just this.

I live on a slow street in Chicago. At a glance, it might look like a normal, workaday scene at any one moment — parents and nannies walking kids to school. People parallel parking (badly). Those annoying advertisement newspapers in pink plastic wrap being thrown onto porches like mass drive-by litterings.

Most of it, I don’t even notice. I might peek out every once in a while. Check on the weather (from inside — which is peculiar). And then it’s back to work.

But when I mentally step out of my self-obsession — if I can just press pause on my incessant and endless inner Netflix drama of, “How am I and how is my brilliant career going?” — long enough, I can see that there’s more going on right here than meets the eye.

There always is.

Kids are growing up. Parents are proud but terrified at the same time. The newspaper delivery folks are doing what they can so they can go home and hug their kids over a warm meal knowing their bills are paid for another month.

When we’re in adulting-mode, yeah, we see this stuff. We notice it. But we don’t allow ourselves to be swept away by the rich depth and density of life. We neuter our enthusiastic connection with it and keep focus stayed on our ambitions. We put the fearful, insecure ego in charge of telling us how our lives SHOULD unfold. And all the while, we miss the way they ARE unfolding (or are trying to if we’d just let them).

In our digital world, it’s more important than ever to get out of our self-absorbed patterns and admire the physical life happening around us.

When I think that this apartment is over 200 years old, I’m blown away of how many baby diapers have been changed, deaths have been grieved, job raises have been celebrated, and Christmas trees have been erected. Suddenly, I’m taken out of the littleness of my life and tossed into the largeness of ALL of life.

“Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music — the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself…”

— Henry Miller

This is where the good stuff comes from. Not from scanning through Instagram. Again. (Much love, Insta, you’re still my favorite.)

I mean, think of how many shortcuts you take. You take the highway when you could cruise through that really interesting, diverse, and quirky neighborhood you’ve been wanting to explore. Yeah, it saved you seven minutes, but what did it rob from your experience?

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it!”

— Charles Dickens; A Tale of Two Cities

(And here we have an administration turning higher education into vocational career training — ugh…)

Forget yourself.
Forget yourself.
Forget yourself.

It’s when you forget yourself that you discover yourself.

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Be like the fingers

Photo by Eduard Militaru on Unsplash

A lot of our strife as creatives comes from the flawed notion that we, as individuals, are on our own. That we’re left to dream this stuff up through our isolated individual will.

This is a terrifying inner-state to put ourselves in. And it’s totally unnecessary. (But we’re free to do it.)

This is, in a large part, where spirituality comes into play. It gives me a wider, more expansive view of an intelligent, creative, resilient force that’s underlying my existence — our existence. One that’s pushing up through us wanting to express itself in the form of our lives.

Close your eyes. 
Can you feel it?

Something wants to live and create through you.

In fact, it hurts to not let it.

This is far beyond you or I.

Just like my index finger is a thing, in and of itself, it’s also nothing but an inert piece of blood, bone, and flesh without the greater hand, arm, and body.

If I were to keep going, that body is nothing without the thing that beats its heart, its hair, its fingernails. That thinks through its brain and creates through its spirit and actions.

The finger is nothing on its own. If it could have a free will where it just did its own thing, there would be a problem.

Sometimes, after a few Belgian ales, when I try to play the piano (because, well, Belgian ale), I believe this is the case. My fingers just do what they want. They have a ‘mind of their own’ (in a bad way).

But for those who keep practicing, soon their fingers become more attuned with what the mind is instructing them to do. Before too long, they’re playing Jerry Lee Lewis without even looking at them.

This is when they have a ‘mind of their own’ in a good way. A way that’s aligned with the musician’s spirit.

Wow…

Now, my focus shifts from forcing, manipulating, striving, and fighting to…

Allowing, surrendering, extending, and connecting.

Much better for the work and life I have ahead.

Maybe it is for you as well.

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Block Party

Photo by Ben Rosett

There’s just something about walking unimpeded through city streets…

We had a block party tonight.

Kids playing in streets.
Bounce House.
Popcorn, hot dogs, chili, pizza, 
drinks, drinks, drinks.

The neighbor down the street is a Chicago Mounted Police Officer.
He and a couple other officers were gracious enough to make an appearance.

We had a block party tonight.

Summer heat
humid breath
inhale, exhale
kids petting horses
big eyeballs
don’t poke it, kiddo.

Being from rural Nevada, these block party shenanigans are new to us. But apparently, in Chicago, they’re the norm. A big reason why we moved out here was that we wanted a more community feel. Out west, people seem to drive straight in the garage and zombie out inside for the evening.

We had a block party tonight.

Families on stoops
Cubs hats
strong midwest accents
whose toys are these
go ahead
they’re yours
so nice to have you here
we’ve been here for 6 years
25 years
firepits
s’mores on the sidewalk
sweaty handshakes
more drinks.

We lucked out moving to this street. Not all streets in Chicago are like this. But this is what community feels like.

I could hang out with everyone on my block for hours. Such kind, quirky, classy-but-comfortable, down-to-earth-but-not-bumpkin people.

Tonight reminded me that community is a human thing. Our souls yearn for it. It’s dangerous to be isolated. That’s coming from the fingertips of someone who, just a few years ago, was one of the most hardened individualistic introverts around.

Community
family
home
welcome
greetings.

We had a block party tonight.

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Another poem on love and God

Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

I don’t know if I can say that God IS love.
But, who knows? 
By the end of this piece, maybe I can.

So many of us (me included) have a wretchedly insecure and weak grasp on love that I’m afraid that if we equated God to love, we’d be equating God to insecurity, shame, helplessness, and manipulation.

Let’s not do that…
Not today, at least.

What I can say is that God is like Love. 
Love with a capital ‘L’. 
Real Love. 
The Love that emerges before the ego gets a hold of it.

Because you can’t see, touch, or taste love. 
But love calls everything into existence.

Love is not the animated.
Love is what animates.
(You can just switch out ‘Love’ for ‘God’ in those last two lines.)

Love isn’t the bottle of wine. 
It’s the thing that brings meaning 
and intention 
to the wine.

When the Love is gone, 
the bottle of wine is a bad habit, 
at best.

Love is not the wine.
Or the chocolates.
Or the flowers.
Or the… 
Nevermind.

Love is the formless something 
that brings the lovingness 
to these things.

This is the nature of God to me. 
Before the forms and objects.
The source out of which 
the Love emerges
the Life emerges
the Good emerges.

(I could go on.)

Damn it…
We’re all out of chocolates.

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Tuning the channel

It’s not just the spiritual/new-age
Like Abraham
Seth Speaks
A Course In Miracles 
Conversations with God

and the plethora of channeled works out there.

The everyday Joe hears about channeling
Rolls his eyes,
Sits back down
With his USA Today
Clears his throat
And he’s gone.

The wall is up. 
But…

Athletics
Music
Writing
Business 
Love-making
Cooking
Yoga.

All is better 
When stepping aside
And ‘something else’ taking over.

You’ve had this happen.
Although you didn’t notice it
while it was happening.

You were
Consumed.

In the flow 
With the spirit 
Of the moment.

The Oversoul has entered stage left
And your named self 
Has exited
The building.

The ego gets us so far
But channeling 
Launches us.

The only thing weird 
Is when we deny it.

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Let me lollygag

Walking the dog
around the block
takes me ten minutes
takes you an hour.

You pick up sticks, rocks
pieces of plastic that resemble toys
bugs, leaves, marbles
all of it, fair game
for your collectability.

My adult brain fights this.
It wants to go
go
go
Keep moving. 
Get there on time.
C’mon, kiddo.

But you’re crouched down 
in a perfect 
ergonomically correct
squat
as you gape over the object
in your tiny grasp.

Your eyes like galaxies
they beam at it.
Wow, Dad…
Can you hold this?
And this?
And this?

The stick family
piles up on the front stoop
one family member after another
filling up a warm corner of your mind.

No, I said. 
But part of me now sees
how I’m ‘correcting’ the 
inquisitiveness 
behind those eyes.

Let them lollygag.

Lollygagging is beautiful.
It rails against the clock
and says
time is for me
time to wonder
time to explore.

Your dinner party be damned.
Your lame adult deadlines
are nothing to me.

I am free of this.
I was born free of it.
Please don’t numb my curiosity.

One day you’ll wonder why I don’t stop
to smell the roses
or why I’m so busy 
chasing that carrot 
that you chase.

You’ll wonder
why I don’t ask questions
or why I can’t enjoy the simple things.

I am, Dad. 
I do this naturally.
Please don’t train me
away from myself.

Let me lollygag.
And I’ll take you places
you’ve never seen before.

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You’re on the way

You,
the thing I want
that I desire
that I obsess over…

I want to acquire you
so my ego sets out to get you
to fight for you
reach for you
stretch for you.

And along the way
you change.

You morph from a divine pull
into a man-made, forced human object.

From an effortless and infinite starting point
to an impossible goal.

The more I willfully pursue you
and especially when I get you
the less I want you 
and the more frustrated 
and disappointed
I grow.

What if all the forcing I’m doing
is unnecessary?

What if the fact
that I’m drawn to you
is a notice from life
that you’re already here

and if I can just stop striving for you
you’ll effortlessly show up 
and express through me
in a number of beautifully infinite
and spontaneous ways?

What if all the shit
I put myself through
to get to you
only keeps you
buried?

What if the key was to 
fall 
back 
into you…

and let you take me?

Can I surrender enough
for your magic to happen?

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The cushion

The other day, I was sitting with my daughter on the couch. I forget what we were doing, probably watching another pony video on her iPad or something.

And it struck me. Intense. Existential. Sadness. Dread, in fact.

I don’t know if you’re a parent and if you’ve ever been smacked in the jaw with this notion, but I feel it’s an underlying one that we all dance with. One that, as soon as we see even a peek of it, we stuff it back down. Deep, deep, down where it can’t scare us anymore.

What hit me was the fact — the fact — that one day, I’m going to have to say goodbye to her. That one day, death will likely meet one of us first (hopefully me), and…

I won’t be able to look at her soft cheeks. Her little button nose. Her eyes that resemble gray/blue/green galaxies that swirl like twilight. I won’t be able to hold her marshmallow hand as we cross the street together. I won’t be able to follow her command to watch me, daddy again and again and again.

Even if she’s 40 or 50 or 60 when it happens, she’ll still be who she is to me.

This dread is so intense. I follow it down. I let it take me there.

Why are we put in this situation? All of us. The more our love increases, the more we dread this inevitable leavingness and the more the temporary nature of being a human becomes apparent.

I struggle to write this.

This loving dread passes over just as strongly to my wife. It carries across to my friends, my extended family — hell, even my dog…

Being a human is so… Sad.

As I write, and through fogged eyes, I feel I’m through it now. And I’m noticing…

That towards the bottom, beneath this dread, lies an underlying cushion. Something that tells me — a knowingness — that this is the illogical beauty of human love.

I see how wrong life would be without this sadness. And I feel blessed for following this dread to where it’s designed to take me.

Here.

Which makes me wonder how much we humans push away. A lot of our lot, on the surface, is dreadful. Temporary. Fleeting.

But I know now that there’s a cushion underneath this existential free-fall. There truly is beauty and mercy in this design. Because if we can love in the face of all of this, our souls can rejoice in the fact that who-we-truly-are is absolutely unstoppable.

We can love big in the face of it. We can love fully in the face of it. We can love regardless of the fact that it doesn’t make sense.

I’m also struck with the notion that there might be more. That we’re in this for the long haul. Although the idea of an afterlife is there, it’s merely speculation. But it feels true.

She’s waking up now, so I have to go say good morning. Give her a hug. Hope she won’t see my puffy red eyes and put two and two together.

And love. Because that’s what I am. And in spite of this bastard called human death, that’s what I’ll do.

Forever and ever. Amen.

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Read poetry

Ihate to admit it now, but I grew up with an aversion to poetry.

With the exception of Shel Silverstein (because what kid doesn’t love Shel Silverstein), poetry made my eyes glaze over with boredom and confusion. My teachers tried to force it on me all throughout grade school and I resisted with a stubborn disinterest.

It made no sense. 
They pay people to write this stuff? I always thought.

But now, as of recent years, I’ve fallen deeply in love with the art. I don’t know if it has to do with me getting older, but nothing makes me well up with tears like a good poem.

What’s strangely awesome is, I have no idea why most of the time.

Poetry strikes the chords of emotion at a deeper level of consciousness than the logical mind can understand.

Great poetry just… works.

I love the freedom of expression possible with the written word. It’s a refreshing contrast to the blogging/tabloid world of today, where everyone (including myself) is so focused on clearly spelling things out for people. There’s a start and a finish and you’re done.

With poetry, there’s massive depth. You can hang out on one line or one stanza for an afternoon. You can savor those words and they mean something different, but personal, to everyone who reads them.

Poetry, if you let it, can open you up.

When I work with people on writing/blogging, I suggest everyone read poetry.

There’s a rhythm and cadence that poetry offers that’s not present in any other written form. And it doesn’t need background music. The music lies in the words themselves.

Even the physical arrangement
of the words
make for a quite spectacular
experience.

So, please… Read poetry. 
Allow it to sweep you away.
And infuse your writing with it when you can.

P.S. I’m reading this poetry book by Sarah Kay now and loving it.

Meditation

I am open to the poetic. My mind is receptive to words of a more lyrical, rhythmic, wayward bent.

Poetry creates the space for me to hang out in the mystery of life. Because when I’m okay with things not being so literal, I leave room for deeper personal meaning.

I see the poetic in my life. Maybe if I were open to the poetic, I’d not search so hard for the period at the end of each line of my life. Maybe I’d be okay with things being more
open.

Because when I can resist the urge to fight so hard for the hard-stop periods, I leave room for the divine to enter.

And to take me deeper.
And so it is.

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The effects of home

Photo by Ehud Neuhaus

Do you remember the last time you felt truly at home in yourself?

That sounds really condescending. But I mean it sincerely. Because I know you can recall at least once (if even in very distant memory) when you felt that sense of being comfortably at home in your own skin that being tuned into source can bring.

Maybe you felt free…
Alive…
Unimpeded…
Blissful…
Powerful in your defenselessness…
Sexy…

Go ahead and extend this list as long as you’d like on your own. It’s all great stuff. But there’s one thing to realize about these qualities.

Positive qualities and feeling states are the effects of being at home in yourself, not the cause of it.

It won’t help to go out and try to find aliveness, bliss, freedom, etc. because these are all results, not the causes, of this state we fall into when our personal thinking quiets down and we fall into the thing that can’t be described: the infinite space within where source energy takes over.

Chasing after these positive qualities and feelings would be like trying to go out and find the flames of a fire when you have a lighter in your back pocket. It’s impossible and it’s unnecessary.

This is a falling-into, not a seek-and-destroy mission.

When we’re home in ourselves, all we know is that… we’re there.

And there’s no place we’d rather be.

There’s no place like home. 
There’s no place like home.


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Pssst: Mind if I walk you back home to yourself? 
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The cork floats perfectly on its own

Photo by Oscar Söderlund

I recently realized, this is my job as a person who works with others to get out of their own way. As a coach, I’m a professional cork floater.

The next insight was, coincidentally, that’s the job we all hold for ourselves. So that’s why I’m sharing this metaphor with you here…

Okay… What does this whole cork floating thing mean, right?

Well, when you throw a cork in the water, it does one thing… It floats. Naturally. Without our help.

The problem comes when we think we need to do things to improve the floating capabilities of said cork.

Because it really shouldn’t be that simple (note: far different than ‘easy’). But it is. And it pisses us off.

I mean, we do all this work to make it float better. We shame it. We walk it over hot coals. We take substances and change zip codes, partners, hair styles, meditation poses, diets, and careers to make this thing float better.

All instead of just stopping and allowing ourselves to bask in the miracle that this thing floats perfectly all on its own.

Wow.

Now, those zip codes, diets, partners, careers, etc. become… Fun. They lose their urgency. But we’re human. And we like to do stuff. This is the position we’ve found ourselves in as spiritual beings living a human experience.

Our innate well-being is like a cork in that all we must do for it to float better is get out of its way and let it do its thing.

Everything we add to this process only adds another level of anxiety and friction. It interrupts the mechanism that’s already built in.

Maybe you’ve proverbially tried to build a bridge-like structure across the pond to rest the cork on so it floats .00876" higher above the surface. Maybe you’ve hired a truck to come out and dump a load of sand in the pond so that it raises it a little higher.

But none of this changes the floating capabilities of the cork. And at a certain point, it’s not really floating anymore.

This is what the ego does when we give it sole control over the one mechanism that innately serves as our saving grace. Our ever-present innate mind — our source.

Send the dump truck back and take a seat next to me by the pond. Looks kinda cool floating in the moonlight, doesn’t it?


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