Alive Until We’re Dead

We’re alive until we’re dead, I know that. Sometimes death happens suddenly, but sometimes there is a significant transition. Who knows, I may be in transition for the next 20 years, but I sense a general cultural resistance to admitting the reality of the dying phase – unless you’ve got a certifiably fatal disease like metastasized cancer (“life,” though universally fatal, doesn’t count).

“You’re fine, just get new lenses in your eyes, a new hip, a new shoulder, a 5-way heart bypass, dopamine replacement medication, serotonin reuptake inhibitors,…” Can you feel the denial?

Reincarnation is the ultimate organ replacement plan but even that requires that we die first.

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Beyond the river
Beyond conclusions
Beyond optimism
Beyond love songs
Beyond progress
Beyond questions & quests
Beyond failure, shame & regret

Written at 16th Annual NC Men’s Spring Gathering
Chestnut Ridge Camp, Efland, NC

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Lift up the self by the Self

Lift up the self by the Self
And don’t let the self droop down,
For the Self is the self’s only friend
And the self is the Self’s only foe

Bhagavad Gita
Chaper 6, verse  5

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Setting the Sofa on Fire

[story to be added later]

Young Assistant: David Ramp
Streetwise Manager: Ed Mooney

Soon after I started with Kennametal I rode in a car from one Kennametal location to another – about a two-hour drive on a four-lane highway. Ed Mooney was driving.
Also in the car were two or three Kennametal salesmen – all sound asleep. I was sitting directly behind Ed. About every 5 minutes Ed would fall asleep and the car would slowly drift off to the right until the tires hit the rough paved shoulder of the highway. Ed would wake up and get back in his lane. After a couple of times I offered to drive but Ed said, “Nah, I’m alright.” I offered several more times and got the same response. If I’d have been a little older and/or wiser I’d have threatened to set the front seat on fire if he didn’t let me drive. Alas, I hadn’t heard Dave’s story yet.

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Fail better

Morality implies free will. Assuming I have any free will at all, my first responsibility is to accept that I can’t know what is moral in advance, or perhaps even in retrospect. To act morally as I step into the unknown that is the next moment, I must listen to the “other” as I listen to my self and to my Self, ask for guidance/inspiration/creativity and wisdom, and then offer my actions, stillness, words or silence in service to Wholeness. To be willing to, “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Quotation is from Samuel Beckett
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I Am a Man Who…

I am a man whose father never had a home.
He was an only child & an orphan
For at least four generations the Men of my family
Have moved once a year, or more.
Nomadic Celts, but without the security of the tribe.
Central Europe, Gaul, Normandie,
The British Isles before the Brits,
The United States.
We’ve been homeless a long time.
I am a man whose home is not a church, or a mosque.
Not an office building, or a school.
I’ve been homeless with a wife and children in a house in town.
I’ve been homeless in the midst of 100 good men.
I don’t know if my searching helped, or hurt.
I certainly did hurt.
I don’t know exactly how, or when
But I did something my father never could
I came home to myself.
April 28, 2002
Written at 7th Annual NC Men’s Spring Gathering
Chestnut Ridge Camp, Efland, NC
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Not Knowing

Everyone knows, but I pretend.
I’m ashamed of being an impostor
So I pretend I’m not pretending.
I pretend so long that I “forget” that I’m pretending.
This “forgetting” doesn’t end the shame,
Denial doesn’t hold.
I admit to myself I might not know.
I find the courage to admit to another
that I don’t know.
I survive.
Shame abates.
I discover I’m not the only one who doesn’t know.
Voices say I should know – whose?
I dare to not know, anyway.
I discover that not knowing opens doors,
Doors I didn’t know were there.
I see now that knowing prevents experience.
I realize that knowing is not the answer.
I have a sinking feeling -
If I already know, real connection
With an other, or with my self,
Is impossible.
But connection means change,
Change I can’t predict.
I may be changed in ways I can’t control.
Can I live naked and exposed?
I begin to see that knowing is armor.
Then grief
I’ve been betrayed – but by whom?
The loss washes over me.
Knowing was an illusion,
A heavy, encumbering illusion.
I grieve how much of my Self I sacrificed for that illusion.
I’m a locust emerging from his armor after seventeen
dark years in the ground.
I’m soft and vulnerable in the blinding light.
But I feel alive in a way I can’t name.
Knowing feels safe but essentially dead.
I put the armor on so long ago I don’t remember doing it.
But now that I’ve taken it off, I can choose,
I can put the armor on or take it off.
Off, on, off, on, off.
I see that living without armor is
A possibility, an opportunity, not a burden.
A hundred times a day I get scared, hurt or angry
And I fall back into knowing.
I accept loss forever – and go on.
revised 09/28/2010
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