Father

Family Photo
Photo (1967)

“When a father, absent by day, returns home at six, his children only receive his temperament, not his teaching”…Robert Bly

My father is 83 years old this October.  He is about to move from the house he’s lived in the past twelve years.

His mind is leaving him but his body is strong.

I wanted to write something in praise of him, but realized that I really don’t know what to say.

He wasn’t available to me.  He still calls me Billy (I’m almost fifty).  We see the world very differently.

I will forever be his son.  Not his equal.  Not a man.

I’ve come to understand that I don’t, and probably never will,  really know him.

It’s not for lack of effort.  It just wasn’t meant to be in this life time.

But this I know.

He’s going to be 83 in a month.

A man who lives this long deserves some words of kindness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wisdom Path: the Search for the Storyteller.

Image result for robert bly quotes

(This is the first of a series of blogs related to a projected called the Wisdom Path Podcast. )

Storytellers are the individual responsible for keeping oral tradition and story alive.  Through their words and wisdom, they carry the water of life forward.  Giving us insights into the great mystery and ourselves.

But where are the storytellers of today?  Who now is responsible for holding and sharing the story?

This is why I’ve created the Wisdom Path Podcasts.  The primary goal of this podcast is to re-kindle the fires in all of us.  It is to resurrect the role of the storyteller and mentor.  Through candid, heart-felt conversation and sharing, we hope to engage a dialog that will reconnect those before us with those of us today seeking truth and congruence.  A bridge spanning the gap of time.

We also hope to re-build the relationships within the father/family paradigm.  To give a name to the pain and disconnect so many of us feel in our lives today.  This is a journey.  An exploration of an intimate kind.

We hope you’ll stay tuned for more on the Wisdom Path Podcast series.

One Man’s Trash

8:35 am and the driveway is a small marketplace. Dishes, a weed wacker, a pair of heavy duty waders, all the stuff that we have collected over the years as homeowners.  One dollar?  Two dollars?  How much do you want to pay?

As I watch things leave in exchange for cash, I am amazed how much stuff we had collected over the past eight years.  Things that we had to have, eventually lost their usefulness. Now this stuff was finding new life in the homes of others. Recycling? Perhaps, but did we really need any of it in the first place?  Clearly we didn’t.

Why is it that one man’s trash becomes another man’s treasure? The need to accumulate things seems to be inherent in our systems. People are always looking for a deal or the right this or that. Kind of crazy, this weird transfer of energy.  An underground economy that is never quantified as part of the GDP.

The people keep coming.

It’s 10:30 am. The selling continues, the stuff moves and we are released of our old ties to these things we once needed.  After awhile, my questions and curiosity gives way to the conversations born with each new visitor.  The exchange of money becomes less important.  Something that was $4.00 is now a dollar.  I am now having fun chatting with each new person who stops by.

The couple from Mexico with a small poodle named “Oso “(Bear).  A women, 80 years old, who could get to her storage unit and needed things for her home.  An elderly man shopping for his wife who was walking at a local mall. Families, couples, the lonely, all stop to look and chat.  A circus of humanity with no price for admission.

We will have spent an entire Saturday morning selling things maybe to make enough to cover lunch.    I can see now that it is the people who stop by that make having a garage sale  special; not how much we sell.  People may have taken tired, unwanted things from my driveway, but it is I, the seller, who obtains the real treasure on this day: the gift of human connection.

 

Daily Prompt: Fragile

I dream I am dying.  My last breath held tight, not wanting to let go.  The primitive urge to survive racing through my brain and sinew.  I know I have to let go, but can’t.  I want to live for one more day!  Why here?  Why now?

I’ve read that the death journey is most amazing experience we’ll have as human beings.  Yet I’ve been given this line about how it’s “the end”.  The damp, cold ground, the endless darkness.  This is the end I so not wish to meet.

As the intensity builds, I know I must let go of this last breath.

Exhale…

I experience the gap after the air is expelled.  It is known as the “dead time”.  A place were everything is known.  A crossing from here to there.

A line so terrifying, yet so fragile.

via Daily Prompt: Fragile

Spirits in the Material World

Recently, a man quietly left this world while meditating.  This man – who shall remain anonymous – left behind a body of work and a school, as a legacy to his time here on this planet.

To create such a gift for the world is precious. His corpus of spiritual content, I believe to be rich and significant; the stuff we need to build a better world.

I too wish to bring something significant to the world.  I want to be observant, yet respectful of the human condition.  I want to pass through the world intentionally, graciously, spiritually, yet all the while challenging the status quo.  I want to disrupt our belief systems.  I want to make the world a better place.

I believe this man did this in his own way and I admire that.

For the record, I never knew him personally; my knowledge of him passed down from those that connected us from a distance and my studies of his work (content in the form of books and Cd’s).  Yet, news of his death touched me deeply.   So  I find myself pensive about life and death.  I feel a longing to explore my own spirituality deeper, more intentionally.

Perhaps this is my quiet tribute to a man I wished I had known.

The Importance of Telling a Story

Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf? One of Aesop”s Fables that dates back to classical times telling the story of a shepherd boy who repeatedly plays tricks on his village. Do you remember this fable? What was the theme or lesson imparted in this tale?

Stories carry forward traditions, themes, ceremonies, and lessons from one generation to the next.  They are intentional attempts to pass something on to the listener.  In absence of the story, a community begins to lose it’s cohesiveness. The moral/communal fiber begins to unwind. We slowly lose our bearings.

Think about it – when was the last time you listened to or told a story with an intention?

I am developing a new podcast concept where telling the story is brought back into our lives as a way of conveying culture and tradition.

Stay tuned.

The Story

Words, shared from times past, pierce the empty space between two worlds. One gives from wisdom, the other receives from a place of wonder. Colliding, a thin line is broken and years collapse away to reveal a new order.

The story brings the past to the future. The story bridges generations. The story heals that which is broken. The story is where I begin.

What I Learned from My Little Bookstore

“A place isn’t a place till it has a bookstore”.…Gabrielle Zevin

Managing a small campus bookstore has been one of the most rewarding endeavors I’ve experienced in my life.  Small, full of exquisite little items, this bookstore became the community hub for the students of a small indigenous college.

There is something visceral about working so closely with a tight community.  To bring forward something different with the goal of total inclusion – no one left behind.  This was my grand experiment.

One of the important steps in starting this business was creating the vision of what the store would look like and be.  I started with the following mission and vision statements:

Mission

To provide the best possible service to the ___ campus while building a welcoming, thought-provoking creative space for the ___community to gather.

Vision

To create a community of respect and collaboration through:  Connection, Creativity, Conversation and Care

These ideals were the foundation for the store.  The store went from a dead space to a thriving student centrist bookstore where the community gathered in conversation and connection.  It was hard work, but the results were tangible.

So what did I learn from this experience?  I’ve boiled down my five years into these five bullet points:

  1. The bookstore was a “hub” and thus constantly has to have it’s “fingers on the pulse”.  Always tapping into the needs and concerns of the institutions populations. Changing when change was necessary, providing consistency when stability was required.
  2. Be proactive from the moment you open to the end of the day.  Constantly looking to improve or create “communal tension”  This keeps the customer and/or community in a state of “Wow”!  This mitigates possible impacts from outside influences and/or changes that may be perceived to be unfriendly to the community at large (budget cut-backs, layoffs, enrollment drops, etc.).
  3. Always be willing to engage you customers. Never think you know more than your customers or audience. Be willing to listen, even if it’s uncomfortable.
  4. Your creating a micro community. Take the high road and keep a holistic perspective.  Always approach the process with an open mind and an eagerness to unlearn what you think you might already know.
  5. Be creative. Never let the business languish or become complacent. Allowing creativity to happen creates dynamic energy. This energy keeps things fresh and alive. The venue will represent this in many tangible and intangible ways

I saw the potential for this small venue to build community.  I ran with the opportunity.  As I reflect back on my experience, I feel sense of accomplishment knowing the impact a mindful business can have on a community.  A business I built with an intention in mind.

 

Daily Prompt: Eclipse

via Daily Prompt: Eclipse

 

e·clipse
əˈklips/
noun
noun: eclipse; plural noun: eclipses
  1. 1.
    an obscuring of the light from one celestial body by the passage of another between it and the observer or between it and its source of illumination.

My son flew his first plane this past June.  Thirteen years of age and already he’s stepping out from underneath the shadow of his father.  I cannot remember being so bold and intentional when I was his age.  To go a step further, he shared with me his desire to move back east with his mother and stepfather.  As much as he knew he’d miss me, it was something he wanted.  I felt this in his words and emotions.  I agreed.  So now he’s in Maryland, loving his new surroundings.

 

When I gave Nate the permission to make his choices without judgement, Nate could then look and feel what was there for him and make his choice.  I was modeling the behavior I want to pass on to him as he grows into adulthood.  He has the answers to most of his life questions sacredly harbored, deep inside.  As a parent, by eclipse his light with “I know better”, I begin to disconnect him from that source.  I want to retrieve the genius from within my son, not fill him up with my beliefs, thoughts and constructs.

The  question that comes to the surface for me is how do I (or we) as a father,(s) help our sons and daughters move out from under the shadows of us as parents, to allow the true light of their genius to shine and grow?

For our children to eclipse us, should be a communal and individual aspiration.  This is a grand experiment for me.  I hope you as the reader will ponder this question for yourself and look at how you affect the world – especially the little illuminations around  you.

The Grasp Behind the Want

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Woke up this morning, grasping for a way to be grounded.  I wanted to feel different or feel something “better than” yesterday.  Feeling like crap and wondering if anything would ever change.  Questioning everything.

Have you ever woken up, wondering how is today different than yesterday, than last year, than five years ago?  Yesterday was one of those days.  My grasping – an interesting concepts that comes from Buddhism that explains what our mind does when it’s allowed to direct us – was super intense and oppressive. I was depressed and distraught.  I had emotions coming up for me left and right.  New and old.  Hard and soft.  I couldn’t get out of my head.  I believe “stuck” was appropriate.

There is a belief in the world of spiritual growth that the more we work ourselves, the more that we will experience the release of old, buried stuff.  It’s like stirring up the water in a pond and all of the matter that comes to the surface.  Grasping is a major part of this pathway of growth.  The mind wants to hold on to old patterns, ways of being, beliefs and fears.  But you must move through the “matter” of the mind in order to clear away the debris.  Stillness and clarity comes from sifting through the stuff of our lives.  With dedication and intention, one can move through this process.  Even when it seems like nothing is happening.

Part of my journey is bringing a deeper awareness to my experiences; the good, the bad and yes, the ugly.  Feeling into what is alive in me (when grasping) is a critical part of my pathway and so to look forward to such awakenings and not fight or suppress what’s there. Grasping is apart of our unconscious way of being in the world.  Catching the grasp is a sign of growth. Accepting what’s there when we stir ourselves, is a sign of awakening.

Peace.

 

 

 

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