Running. With a Red Butterfly.


I run. I write. I post. In that order. With few gaps. Typically. But not Saturday. No. No. No. Disbelief. Fatigue on overdrive. Just not real. 

I marinated in it for days.

And then Rilke prods: “ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: ‘must I write?’ Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple ‘I must,’ then build your life according to this necessity.”

So I must.

And I write.

A series of interlocking coincidences which only rose to consciousness after a replay of events played forward from daybreak.

5 a.m.

A short reading. It was Leonard Bernstein, from Dinner with Lenny: The Last Long Interview with Leonard Bernstein:

I am frequently visited by a white moth or a white butterfly. Quite amazingly frequently. And I know it’s Felicia. I remember that when she died, her coffin was in our living room in East Hampton … and just a few of us were there—the family and a rabbi and a priest, because she’d been brought up in a convent in Chile. We were playing the Mozart Requiem on the phonograph. Everyone was absolutely silent. And then this white butterfly flew in from God knows where—it just appeared from under the coffin and flew around, alighting on everybody in the room—on each of the children, on the rabbi, on the priest, on her brother-in-law and two of her sisters, on me … and then it was gone … though there was nothing open. And this has also happened to me here, sitting outside in my garden. … White.

The appearance of a white moth. Or white butterfly…White.

7 a.m.

From somewhere, an unbeknownst longing for a punishing trail run. It had been months. I’m in the car. [Read more…]

Imagine an infant lying in its cradle, discovering its voice, purring and murmuring MMM to itself


Bernstein reminded me that the word “education” is related to the Latin educere—“ to bring forth what is within”— and then added: “Though I can’t prove it, deep in my heart I know that every person is born with the love of learning. Without exception. Every infant studies its toes and fingers, and a child’s discovery of his or her voice must be one of the most extraordinary of life’s moments. I’ve suggested that there must be proto-syllables existing at the beginnings of all languages— like ma (or some variant of it), which, in almost every tongue, means mother— mater, madre, mère, mutter, mat, Ima, shi-ma, mama. Imagine an infant lying in its cradle, discovering its voice, purring and murmuring MMM to itself… […]

Whether teaching children or adults, Bernstein understood that loving and learning are inextricably linked, that real knowledge is a concomitant of the desire to know, and that music itself— a meeting of living creator and creative listener— is one of the most efficacious vehicles for teaching. As a conductor, Bernstein experienced the relationship between himself and his orchestra as that of a lover and his beloved. As he remarked at the conclusion of his 1955 Omnibus television broadcast “The Art of Conducting”:

“The conductor must not only make his orchestra play; he must make them want to play…. It is not so much imposing his will on them like a dictator; it is more like projecting his feelings around him so that they reach the last man in the second violin section. And when this happens— when one hundred men share his feelings, exactly, simultaneously, responding as one to each rise and fall of the music, to each point of arrival and departure, to each little inner pulse— then there is a human identity of feeling that has no equal elsewhere. It is the closest thing I know to love itself.”

~ Jonathan Cott, Dinner with Lenny: The Last Long Interview with Leonard Bernstein

Notes: Original Source – Brainpickings

Running. With Crystal Light.


Whether you snort white powder, or you shovel crystals down your gullet, the consequences are…

June-ish, 2016.  It was the last leg of the morning commute, on I-287. The heart starts to race, this followed by a pinch, with its roots pushing outward like the tail of a lightning strike.

Doctor’s diagnosis: High Cholesterol. Root cause? Diet, with any 3 or 4 of following occurring on any given day:

  • Yogurt. Fruit on the Bottom. Jacked up with two heaping tablespoons of Smucker’s Strawberry Jam.
  • Fruit.  Sliced bananas. Floating in Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. Sliced strawberries, same. Blueberries, melon, raspberries, same.
  • Hotcakes. With Canadian Maple Syrup, and a dollop of Raspberry jam.
  • Drinks. Orange Gatorade. Florida Orange Juice from the carton. Artificially sweetened Lipton’s Green Tea, 2 bottles at a time.  Diet Coke(s). Cranberry Juice, swigged from a 1 gallon jug.  And oh let’s not forget, Welch’s Grape Juice, one could bathe in it.
  • Ice Cream. Pint of creamy Chocolate Haggen Daz in a single sitting.  Breyer’s Vanilla Ice Cream, topped with chopped nuts, chocolate sauce and several shots of Reddi Wip Cream.
  • Coffee. Spiked with 2.0 (yes, two) packets of Nutrasweet or its brethren.
  • Hot Tea. Golden Bee Honey from a squeeze bottle swirls to and coats the bottom.
  • Snacks. Semi-sweet chocolate chips (in pantry for cooking) by the handful. Entenmann’s glazed donuts. Mini Snicker Bars by the handfuls.
  • Sandwich. PBJ, mostly with J, oozing on all sides of enriched and wholesome white bread.
  • Cereal. Including Raisin Bran, supplemented with a handful of California golden raisins and hopped up with a heaping teaspoon of white sugar crystals sweetening the 2%.

And the pre-bed-time sedative…which warrants its own paragraph, not a mere bullet. Grape Jelly trembles as it waits for the tablespoon to dig deep and scar its surface. Jelly coats the teeth and slides smoothly down the throat. A trace lingers on the lips. The body settles in, calm now, with its fix. Bed time. [Read more…]

Running. A Blossom Rupturing.


It’s dark, I grope, I grip the wooden arm of the bannister at the top of the stairs. I’m about to take the first step down and here it comes. Not just one morning, every morning.

Must be Mandelstam’s Blossom. It hovers. It hammers. It is now.  It is not. It ruptures and raptures. I try to turn, to turn away to Light. Yet and yet and yet, it pulls me back. A beckoning for what? To what?

55° F. Saturday morning. I’m on the front porch. Rain is spitting Autumn, the season has turned.

Mile 2:
I look down. Gray shirt. Gray shorts.  Gray water bottle.  Gray and Blue shoes. I look up, Gray skies. Synchronicity – cosmic alignment. [Read more…]

I have packed my bags, I am out of here. Gone.


I have had it with perfection.
I have packed my bags,
I am out of here.

As certain as rain
will make you wet,
perfection will do you

It droppeth not as dew
upon the summer grass
to give liberty and green

Perfection straineth out
the quality of mercy,
withers rapture at its

Before the battle is half begun,
cold probity thinks
it can’t be won, concedes the

I’ve handed in my notice,
given back my keys,
signed my severance check, I

Hints I could have taken:
Even the perfect chiseled form of
Michelangelo’s radiant David

the Venus de Milo
has no arms,
the Liberty Bell is

~ Father Kilian McDonnell, “Perfection, Perfection” from Swift Lord, You Are Not 

Notes: Photo by Ravshaniya (Uzbekistan) (via Mennyfox55 and

We want to be called to our best selves. We long to figure out what that would look like.


I’ve traveled a long way since my early life in Oklahoma— far enough to know that I might be accused of taking this virtue of hope too far. So be it. My mind inclines now, more than ever, towards hope. I’m consciously shedding the assumption that a skeptical point of view is the most intellectually credible. Intellect does not function in opposition to mystery; tolerance is not more pragmatic than love; and cynicism is not more reasonable than hope. Unlike almost every worthwhile thing in life, cynicism is easy. It’s never proven wrong by the corruption or the catastrophe. It’s not generative. It judges things as they are, but does not lift a finger to try to shift them. I experience the soul of this moment— in people young and old— to be aspirational. This is something distinct from ambitious, though the two may overlap. I’d say it this way: we want to be called to our best selves. We long to figure out what that would look like. And we are figuring out that we need each other to do so. This listening for the calling, and the shining, fragile figuring out, are tucked inside the musings I hear from young people as much about how they want to be and who they want to be as about what they want to be.

~ Krista Tippett, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living

Running. With a Mystical Moment.

parec simon

The eyes pan the green carpet of the unmarked plots at the Spring Grove Cemetery. Geese feed silently, showing their respect. The Police station is to my left. The Public Library in front. And there’s four miles of track ahead.

I slow my pace.

The eyes are drawn to the flock of Canada Geese.  It’s a large flock, fifty or so.

The eyes spot a difference. I’m awed at how the eyes can hone in so quickly on “what’s off.” I begin to hum the Sesame Street jingle: “One of these things (is Not like the others).” (Your mind works in mysterious ways, friend. Wow.)

She’s limping, badly. Her children, late season goslings, furry now, trail behind her.  Their necks are all down, pecking at seeds, the grass.

It’s been a week now and the image remains fresh.

Was it a car that hit her?  Or was it a scar from fleeing from the clutches of a predator? A hunter’s bullet grazing her webbed foot?  Or was she simply born lame? There’s no emergency room for repair. No splint or cast to heal.  No morphine to cut the edge. She limps. She lives. She protects her family.

And it’s Sunday. And your morning sermon doesn’t come from the inside of a Church, or from a person of Cloth, but from a Book.  This Agnostic is deep into his readings of Thomas Moore and his teachings of creating a personal religion. It’s as if he opened this chapter speaking to me: [Read more…]

Saturday Morning


In one of his insightful talks Zen master Shunryu Suzuki said that in your practice you should walk like an elephant. “If you can walk slowly, without any idea of gain, then you are already a good Zen student.” There’s a mantra for your religion: Walk like an elephant. It means to move at a comfortable pace. No rushing toward a goal. No push to make it all meaningful. The sometimes inscrutable texts of Taoism and Zen teach that it’s important to do what you do without trying to accomplish anything. One of the benefits of a religion of one’s own is its ordinariness and simplicity. You don’t need a magnificent ceremony, a specially ordained minister, or a revered revelation to give you authority. You don’t have to get anywhere. There are no goals and objectives: nothing to succeed in, and nothing in which to fail. You can sit in your house, as Thoreau did, and be attentive— his suggestion. “We are surrounded by a rich and fertile mystery. May we not probe it, pry into it, employ ourselves about it— a little? . . . If by watching all day and all night I may detect some trace of the Ineffable, then will it not be worth the while to watch?”

~ Thomas Moore, A Religion of One’s Own: A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World.


Running. Some Rain Must Fall.


“Fragment Palooza.”
“Repetition” in words and in theme. “Tiresome.”
“Lacks flow and rhythm.”
“Lacking depth.” (This one cut.)
“Can’t produce more than 500 words?”
“Have you thought of a creative writing class?”

I’m two miles into my morning run. The unsolicited feedback is swamping Audible’s narration of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle: Book 5: Some Rain Must Fall. And chirping in, is Brian Blanchfield’s new book of essays written without the internet and any reference sources.

I twist the earbuds deeper into each drum, turn up the volume and hope to drown the sh*t out.

The words from Book 5 continue to pump. Knausgaard’s autobiographic detail and flow is hypnotic. There are five published books in his series, with each averaging more than 500 pages. He goes back more than 40 years and walks us forward stone, by stone, by stone. (There you go again, with the repetition.) [Read more…]

The most important decision of your life


He wants to write a book about “the most important decision of your life,” which he considers choosing to be happy every day. We are programmed to look for what’s wrong to fend off danger, he says, but instead we should decide that life is too short to live in a “suffering state.” He wants people to tell themselves, “I’m going to find a way to find creativity and gratitude or growth or joy in every moment.”

– Alexandra Wolfe, Tony Robbins Faces His Fears

Source: Ruby Wax Quote – Thank you Steve Layman.

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