The Stories We Inhabit

We all have stories.
Some of them are true.
Many of them are real
but not necessarily true.

Taken together they make up
who we hold ourselves to be -
in the past, in anticipating the future,
and as we breathe in and out 
in this present moment.

These stories don't exist independently from us.
We are the ones who keep 
breathing life into them.

We are the ones who offer them power.
Oh these stories are such a burden.
Oh this story brings such guilt and shame.
Oh how to escape my past.
Oh why can't this be like it used to be.

Not all are dark and shadowed.
Some indeed are light and uplifting, 
but have you ever noticed how 
shadows often obscure the sun?

This question I would pose to you -
How might we meet these stories head on?
Do we invite them in to take a seat?
Do we let them hide in the closet 
and come out whenever they choose?

Naming them is a way to 
shift your perspective, 
create some distance and
make some space around the story.
 
You can acknowledge a story 
but set limits on when it can intrude 
and when it needs to back off.

This is more than a delicate dance. 
 It can be a way to interrupt the pattern
 of responding that keeps a story alive.

And if you don't quite understand
what I mean by "story" -
Well then, that's another story...
   


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Bird Migration

Yesterday in the rain while walking
through Union Square park
a huge flock of pigeons
startled me as they all lifted up in flight
circling round and round
the statue that overlooks
the center of the park.

The birds broke into smaller formations,
swirling this way and that.
Some crossed each other's path,
weaving back and forth as if riding air currents
until slowly, gradually, they all landed on the ground
in the center of the park.

It was really quite a display
and I wondered
Was there a purpose to their flight?
Or was it just for fun?
Were they following a leader?
Or rehearsing for a show?
Should I have applauded?

Or is it that since these New York City pigeons
do not migrate, their DNA still nudges them 
to touch into their migratory skills 
now and then
and show off to those of us who think 
we know all there is to know
about pigeons in the park. 

 

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Sweet Talk at COP27

If sweet talkin' be song
we are definitely livin' it
when we should be killin' it.
Really.

Here's how it goes...
"You know I care about you
I wouldn't do anything that
would hurt you, and besides,
you need me."

This is the song that the Fossil Fuel Industry
uses to keep us attached,
keep us dependent and
trusting of their so-called good will.

This is the song that an abuser 
uses to keep his victim
from rejecting the relationship.

We are all victims of these songs,
sung to us by the corporations
who are invested in coal,
oil and gas.

How do you break away from an abuser?

First you must stop believing he will realize
the damage he does and change.

Second you must accept you are
not responsible for the lies
and destructive actions he does.

Third you must seek help from others
who are aware of and share understanding
of the situation.

Fourth you must realize you have been
and will continue to be manipulated if
you do not end the relationship as it is now.

And most importantly remember
this is a situation where he has 
power over and nothing will change
until that changes.

This, sadly, describes our current relationship
with the Fossil Fuel Industry.

And if you didn't know, now you know. 

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At the Expense of Your Vote

We are truly living
in a time that challenges us
to find moments of calm

Sadly we find our focus is on 
issues that seem to grow big
and weigh us down

Our energy gravitates 
toward the divisions 
wrenching us apart

Country vs country, state vs state,  
community against community,
between family members 
around the kitchen table

Fear and anger have 
taken up the space
between people.

Give yourself over to the energy 
of anger and fear and you 
give away your power to a point
where you won't get it back

Beyond not getting it back
your power will be used against you
by others with more power

Remember that the ability to 
cast your vote and have it counted
is a Right in this country

A Right that we must hold with care 
or it will die at the hands of those who 
care nothing for your rights

Why is this so hard to understand?

**No photo here - you just need to VOTE!







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Tous les Jours

Everyday
the terrible news of gun deaths
shatters us and once again we think
this must be the moment that
changes everything.

Everyday
more evidence emerges of the thriving
systemic racism in our country
and communities 
but we pretend it will end.

Everyday
the levers of power among
corporations and politicians
prevent us meeting the climate challenge
and we pray science will save us.

Everyday
we must embrace the bigger picture
of a greener more equitable world
in whatever way we can.

Everyday
there are efforts to work toward
these possibilities but they mostly
escape our Twitter feed.

Everyday
we must take the next step
even when we lose trust in the outcome.

It's our hope for the future,
depending of course on what we wish
for the generations to come.

Each of us must make that decision
Everyday.

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Where’s the Map?

Often these days
I find myself saying
In our culture we are not prepared
for aging and death.

Ours is a culture 
that denies and denigrates
growing old in so many ways.

My lament, however, is about 
seeking a way to accept 
the aging process and inevitability of death.

How do we go about
living and dying at 
the same time?

How do we navigate
this end of life realm
without direction?

There are expectations of course.
Most of them focus on 
an endless list of abilities lost.

Where is the expectation that
we gain wisdom and grace?
How do we move past 
the invisibility of personhood
that surrounds us?

I've often offered to others
that they trust the process,
but this process requires a level of trust
that exceeds what may have been needed before.

Loving what is - this is the phrase that 
keeps nudging my mind
Easing into what may come,
Taking one step at a time.

Slowing down and 
being more deliberate
has its advantages.
(aka the tortoise)

Maybe less mourning the losses.
More gratitude for the gifts.
Expect transitions to last longer
and let go your idea of what's to come.
Spend more time appreciating the present.

Maybe, just maybe, this has the beginnings
of the map I've been seeking.
Now let's see if I can keep 
from losing my way...

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Perfectly Clear

The weather notice on my phone 
 is telling me 
"It's perfectly clear right now"

So my mind responds -
perfectly clear to whom?
Not to me I'm afraid

And exactly WHAT is it that's perfectly clear?
When one is feeling overwhelmed
with the political landscape, the climate crisis
and the myriad daily issues percolating in front of me -
it requires great effort to see what's clear

Maybe what's clear is the background
against which all of these issues
are playing out

Maybe it can be comforting to know
that clarity can be seen behind
the fast moving pieces 
I often find difficult to grasp

Perhaps one can choose which to focus on
Perhaps this background is the constant,
a particular aspect of living 
one can trust and have faith in

We do need some solid base 
from which to navigate, to take a stand,
to rest in when we're overwhelmed
and exhausted

I suspect that it's from this perspective
that clarity arises and gives us 
the energy we need to keep moving forward

toward a day when it is perfectly clear.

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This Garden of Living and Dying

There is a quiet
among the plants in my garden
in early day of Summer

Unlike the closed-in warmth-conserving
heaviness of Winter,
this quiet has a rhythm all its own

In the Spring the energy of growth
pushing up and out
brings tentative shoots
raising their sleepy heads

But by the time of early Summer
there has already been much
birthing of newness and
the slow fading away of aging blooms

There is a settling into this sequence
of the pulsing of new life in one spot
followed by a curling into itself
in another

A time of both living and dying
repeated over and over,
a rhythm that continues into
the chill of Autumn

Would that we could ride these waves
of living and dying 
with less angst 
and more like these flowers in my garden.

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Another Day of Murder

Nineteen children this time dead
We are not at war
We’re just having a normal day 
sending our kids to school

Something is terribly wrong
when nineteen children
don’t come home and 
are shot to pieces instead 

So what the fuck do you think that is?

It’s not mental illness  
It’s not that we don’t love our children
It’s about making money and
preserving power

What will it take for us
to realize that we really can be 
a loving and compassionate people?
How to turn from the direction we are heading?

What medicine cures the sickness
now afflicting our politics?
How to make politicians realize 
it’s in their interest to do whatever works
to prevent further mass murder 
of children?
It sickens me even to ask these questions.

The answers cannot be to sell or 
buy more guns
We are not going to ask that 
teachers be armed
because no one else is standing up 
to protect our children.

Nor can it be just offering 
thoughts and prayers
There were 78 incidents of gun violence
in our schools this year 

The answers are really quite easy
We know what works to limit gun violence
but it means electing politicians who
think that controlling gun violence
is worth the effort.

Difficult to imagine that this 
would be a challenge for them
or that it would not be worth doing
WHATEVER IT TAKES!

But there it is.

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We Are Little People

After all the seeming of our trying
In an effort to make ourselves big
and more important, more powerful
more of whatever is more than what we have
or what we are now

We are still little people
who are mortal.

Every effort to compare and judge,
each time we throw ourselves into
competition with another,
whatever we think we've won

We are still little people
who are mortal.

When we objectify others,
when we engage in war on them,
when we rape, torture or kill

We become even smaller,
less significant and
still very mortal.

Want to know 
what makes us bigger?
Basically Compassion and Insight
are the tools that work best

Compassion because it enlarges
our Heart-Mind to include
all other beings

Insight because it grows
our perception and understanding
of how to be in relation with
ourselves, all other beings
and the Earth

And that I believe is
how we may change from
always showing up as little people

And sets us each on the path to
become a Bigger Person
though we still be mortal.

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