Sunday, December 31, 2006

End Of Year Review...A Few Thoughts

I've had a good year and I feel sorrow that it is ending.

Big on my list for this year was starting this blog and entering the world of blogging. As the slogan on says, "55 million blogs...some of them have to be good," and it has been my good fortune to have come across a number of them already. I have started leaving comments on a number of blogs and in the coming year I hope to continue visiting people in my new neo-community. I hope that others also find my postings interesting and worthwhile.

OK, now here are some of my first thoughts from this past year. I'm happy to say that I've been implementing these and not just "jawing" about them - but there is much room for improvement. Yes, it's all about on-the-job training.

Most important preserve your health - walk, eat better food and minimize junk food, get enough sleep, manage your stress levels well

Know what you're eating

Turn off the TV

Work less at work

Love what is

Every day cultivate a sense of appreciation

Start each day with a walk followed by meditation

Stay present for longer periods of time

Be aware of the dance that in continuing and evolving around you

Choose joy

Use peace of mind as a compass reading

Appreciate the present abundance

Be aware of how most of the comforts of our society weaken us

Pay down all debt

Have a kitchen garden and grow as much as you can (this is way up on my list for next year - a totally new endeavor for me)

Accept uncertainty as a fact of life

It's all about energy

Nothing goes in a straight line for long

Consume less

With dependencies, proactively go through withdrawal

Develop mental toughness

Laugh more

Learn skills that will stand you well in arduous times

Be useful

Compass readings are generally more valuable for me than specifics

I will rush no more!

Happy New Year, and let's do our part to make the world a better place.


A Brief Comment On Sunning Yourself And Proprioception

For those of you who are interested in keeping your balance - literally - I added an additional brief comment in the posting on Seasonal Affective Disorder dated 11/26/06.

Beautiful sunny day here in Massachusetts. Go Pats!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Seemingly Quiet Pause

I haven't posted anything for several days partly because of the Holidays and, well frankly, I've been indulging in some laziness.

But there's a further reality here and that is that there is so much I want to express, and the topics are so important, that I am having difficulty choosing which ones to go with first.

A peek into the queue in my mind:

Reactions and thoughts about the video "the Future of Food." The implications for going towards an organic diet become more and more important. Kitchen gardens will similarly become more important for self-sustainability and health and well-being.

Questions about the peak debt and peak oil. Along this line I have been reading a blog: SuddenDebt and anyone who is thinking about the financial picture of the U.S. and the world would do well to take a look and give some thought to what is presented there. By the way, I left several comments on that site as: SimplyTim

Along the line of "waking up" and "elevator pitches" I have been wondering if large numbers of people are simply in trance states, and if that is accurate how that comes about and what people can do to come out of that state. (One definite hunch that I have is that television may be one of the major portals both into, and out of, those states.)

Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

"How do you think it's all going to play out?"

I went for a late lunch at Harry's Pastrami Shack on Route 9 in Westborough. I like going around 2:30 in the afternoon because my favorite booth is open and I don't have to feel like a hog sitting there all by myself because there are plenty of other places available.

Walking in, I notice a man who reminded me of Mr. Clean from the old commercial sitting at the table next to "my booth."

My "Mr. Clean!" got a smile in response.

My plan was to have some lunch and read a few pages of Dmitry Orlov's essay: Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century. I was in the part where he says that "an equally useful quality in a crisis is apathy," when my mind was being drawn to the conversation between Mr. Clean and a couple at the counter.

Counter Guy: "People complain about having to reset their clocks when there's a power outage. (On the TV they were talking about the storm in Denver) But it's much more serious when it's much more serious."

Mr. C: "Big changes in the weather."

Counter Guy: "the spring was worse with all that rain. I work for a pool company and we couldn't put in the pools. We were down $100,000 in receipts by July and there's no way you can regroup after that."

Later, and after Counter Guy leaves, I say, like out of the blue: "how do you think this will all play out?"

He looks at me and I say: "with the weather, the changes."

Mr. C: "Ya don't know. We haven't been there before."

I start talking about my previous posting about climate change and talk about Jim at Big Bear, California (he knew it instantly - I could see him 20 years ago growling up the mountain on a good old fashioned hog) and Laura in Sasketchewan. He listens attentively.

He tells me about how there was "flowering going on, on the north side of PJ Rhodadendruns; 6 months early."

He then goes on talking about the melting arctic ice shelf and how that's all fresh water and how it will upset the current (that circulates from the North Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico and then up the Eastern seaboard of the States.)

You really have to wonder how this is all going to play out.

For my part I liked how I got into the conversation with the elevator pitch of "how do you think this is all going to play out."

His comment of "ya don't know, we haven't been there before" is incisively spot-on

The other thing I took away from this conversation was how easy it actually turned out to be to "get at" what was going on beneath the surface with the right question.

He offered his hand, we shook and I left.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Needed: A Few Good Elevator Pitches for Global Warming

Here in the northeast the weather is just lovely. Mid-50's today and the Patriots won. What more could you want for the week before Christmas?

On the other hand, all this continuing and truly unseasonable weather is further evidence of a basic planet wide system which is moving further and further "out of whack."

I started Friday by reading a "rant" by Jim at his blog. It's probably not a good idea to starting off my posting with a suggestion that you go and read his post, but that's exactly what I'm going to do. Go now; it's the posting for 12/15/06. While there also read the comments section. Especially the entries from Arcolaura, and mine under the name of SimplyTim. Oh, and by the way, don't forget to come back here for the rest of my post.

Now, where to go with all this. I tested the waters with several people over the past few days. The form of the brief conversations was:

"Beautiful day."

"Yes. But so unseasonable."

"I'll take it anyway. Rather this than snow."

I would put in a few comments, for example, "I wonder if this is what they mean by Climate Change," or "It reminds me of Al Gore's movie - 'An Inconvenient Truth,'" or "Changes are happening."

Well the truth is that I thought those last three comments but didn't give voice to them. Why? Why not say it? Why is it that with so many people who have concern about global warming that they are hesitant to bring those concerns up for discussion? I point the finger at myself as much as anyone else, maybe more so.

The simple truth is that the people I mentioned it to clearly weren't interested in going any further with a serious discussion, at least at that time. (In some of my previous posts I easily went into what could be called an elevator pitch by saying that I had recently taken a "vow...I will rush no more." In those instances, the conversation went from there easily. Why not with this topic? Maybe it's because with rushing almost everyone can identify with it and have multiple examples in their mind. With the weather, with climate, it's too abstract. Maybe that's the real problem here in terms of mobilizing people towards action, towards outrage.)

With one person I said after a pause: "the change is coming."

He said: "Yes."

I had the distinct impression that he was just saying that winter will get here eventually. But there was a question in my mind as to whether he saw what I was saying in a much larger picture but didn't want to get into it.

And that's where I am wondering what some good "elevator pitches" would be. People in business and politics and activists do it all the time. Why are there so many others who are so reluctant to get the message down pat and practise it so that it can bring the conversation a few steps further. I would love to hear what some of your thoughts are.

Arcolaura said that she tends not to come up with quick responses while some others can. My sense is that there was so much depth and perception in her comments that it would be hard to spontaneously come up with them on the spot. That depth requires time and mulling over. However, her ideas perhaps could be shunted back to some of the spinmeisters to polish "pitches" which can break through, or invite more discussion; not just of the presence of changes, but of the implications and also what can or should be done.

Some other thoughts:

1. On NBC nightly news tonight there was an "in-depth report on global warming." I didn't time it, but they think 120 to 180 seconds is sufficient for an in-depth analysis. I won't even say it - yes, I will, are they for real?

There was a "chilling" reference to a new report that it is now thought that all of the ice in the arctic may be gone by 2040. I want to say: "WOW!" But the reality is that I don't know what that really means. I can imagine that it is big but what does it really mean? Maybe that's part of the problem with taking the discussion further with lots of people. The implications for most people are unclear. And with that lack of clarity, it's easier to keep doing business as usual.

A few moments later one of the scientists put it well: "It's what we don't know (about the implications of continued global warming) that concerns me. What are the surprises waiting for us?" Well said. There was a report in the paper yesterday about how they can't find any more dolphins in the Yangtze river. The end of a species, they wondered. I'm sorry, I can't relate to that. Maybe I have this gigantic blind spot but what does that really mean to me? I know it's important but there's that blind spot again - it's like I can't just see over the horizon. Maybe that's where the spinmeisters need to help out with scripts that will move conversations and me as well.

What would be a good example of a sound bite or an elevator pitch which captures one's attention, and seems to stop opposition? Well, when vice president Cheney said: "the American way of life is non-negotiable," it seemed that all discussion stopped for a while. That's powerful. It had the effect, I think, of stopping alternative thinking and by default, let things go on as usual.

Thankfully the discussion didn't stop in my mind and just possibly it didn't in the minds of many others. It takes time to look at that and to see behind the words and the rhetoric. Could it be that in the recent elections that is what the electorate was saying, that the non-negotiability of it all, and the raw power which is used to maintain that position is inherently wrong. Following that logic, the majority of the people didn't really know what has to be done, but they knew that a change had to take place, and they voiced that with their individual votes.

A lot of maybe's here, but maybe that's why the collective "we" don't take the real discussion further, why we don't make a collective decision to slow down, to change direction, because the vice-president was right, that there is a part of us which doesn't want to change. We'd collectively rather rush forward towards maintaining so nothing is lost. But remember, there is the other side in that same collective mind which knows it has to change...but the path, the route, the actions are not as collectively clear. Maybe my elevator pitch to that when combined to global warming is: "I wonder if global warming gives a hoot about the non-negotiable American way of life?"

In a somewhat disjointed way, I keep thinking about that frog in the movie, An Inconvenient Truth; if the heat keeps going up very slowly he doesn't do anything. He doesn't jump until it's a reflex - is that what we're talking about here? It will take a surprise, a threat to not the American way of life, but to the safety of the planet to then change? The nation know that we are collectively taking in too many calories, and yet look at the obesity rates. Now change oil for calories and wonder what would get the "collective" to change. The mind-set which is perpetuating the current direction is monumental and pervasive. The change will have to come from within. It will be a simple awareness, perhaps captured by the clarity of an elevator pitch which is so direct, so stealthy in it's clarity, that it leads vast numbers to shift direction in one way that will make a difference. Then legislation will help the mind-set to move in a direction, not the other way around.

2. As far as I can tell the government has been doing nothing substantive to deal effectively with this problem. Individual politicians appear "green" and will posture this way and that way, but as a whole, the government is deadlocked as usual. I'm basically a pretty conservative guy, but really, the political process on this matter is a joke. Yes, I know how that is a terrible overgeneralization but that's just how I see it. The bigger joke is, I suspect, most people know it, just like most people know that we are witnessing climate changes, but don't know how to move the process forward, for real. What we need is a good "meme" which in it's simplicity changes everything in a positive direction, at least with to the question of global warming.

3. A step in the right direction would be to do what the province of Quebec did, change the speed limit to 60 miles per hour. AND enforce it! Not with giving a ticket if you go 5 miles over the limit, but if you go 1 mile over the limit. My solution would be not to give a financially crippling ticket, just a modest ticket, but take a long time to give it. And then do it again 3 miles down the road, and repeat the process over and again. That would work. It wouldn't solve the whole problem but it would be a step in the right direction.

4. Remember that the basic rule of storms is that they continue until the original imbalance which created them is resolved. If CO2 is one of the major culprits, and we keep producing more and more CO2, and ...

5. A good piece of news may help. I went to two stores today looking for a copy of Al Gore's movie: An Inconvenient Truth, and both stores were sold out.

Addendum: 12/18/06 - My elevator pitch is: "I will rush no more! " Here's why that is so sweet: with that the emphasis is off global warming, and yet it's related. Everyone can identify with the natural balancing which is contained in the mantra, it gets underneath the usual counterarguments. And since rushing is essential to the perpetuation of the life style which we have all been inducted into, to change that piece, from within, one individual at a time, the possibility of "viral marketing" is very real.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sitting in Traffic

A few days ago I hopped in my car and went out for a sandwich. It was 2 in the afternoon and the weather was just great. I only had 2 blocks to go, and one traffic light. It should be no problem, but guess again.

Getting through that traffic light took 3 light cycles. No problem for me since I was in no rush. I let one woman enter traffic from the right, got a smile from her and an angry honk from the man in the car behind me. No problem for me because I was in no rush and it still took another light cycle before I was at the light. I wonder if my doing some neck rotations while sitting there got him even more angry - he thinking that I might miss a possibility to "move like lightening" if the 15 cars in front of me should somehow magically disappear. The poor sucker, doesn't he know that time pressure kills - slowly?

While I was waiting for my sandwich I watched all the traffic on the major roadway. It was endless. I felt there was some insight which wanted to happen. What came to me was that it would have made much more sense to have walked rather than ridden. My feet, eyes, heart, muscles, my everything would have had more enjoyment had I walked. The problem, and it is a problem, is that even for short distances it is as if we don't even consider using the doggies for transportation any more.

It must surely be a conditioning thing. The hidden expectation is that if we ride, we will be more comfortable. We will save time. We will be protected from "the elements." We will be seen by others riding in a powerful, sexy, well polished car which is not impeded by traffic, and if perchance we stop at a traffic light a stunningly beautiful or handsome member of the opposite sex will admire us. Oh my, what a crock of baloney!

In this instance, for a short "trip," I was comfortable in my car, but not more comfortable than if I had had a leisurely walk. I didn't save any time. And like I wanted to be separated from a beautiful day?

I think it's a conditioning thing and as with all conditioning, it becomes habit and one of the prime characteristics of habit is that, after a while, it is automatic and does not require thinking to intervene. It gives a certain speed and efficiency, but at what cost? At the cost of being alive and conscious and, yes, free. We think we are free because of our cars. There is some truth to that. But on the other hand, what I observe is that most people are captive to their daily "trips." Where is the freedom in that?

I am not yet ready to be car-free, but I do wonder about what it would be like if my wife and I shifted from 2 cars to one. Perhaps 1 car and a bike. Perhaps this spring. Yes, that will be good and it will bring me a step closer towards a further goal I have of being "cage free and free to roam." Why should the chickens have all the fun?

(Addendum - 12/12/06) Another beautiful day today with just a touch of chill in the air. Walked for my sandwich today. Smiled all the way!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

New CategorIes for Blogs I Regularly Read

I have begun switching and adding blog categories on the right side of my blog.

Addition #1: Blogs About Lives of Conscious Simplification.

Addition #2: Contemplating BIG Changes.

From time to time I will add more based on relevance, quality of content and the reality that they have been "presented" to me and have earned a space in my mind.

The addition to #2 today is Dmitry Orlov's blog. His material is simply outstanding and I suspect I will be drawing from it in future posts.

Addendum: 12/9/ "presented to me" I mean that they seemed to come to my attention without any effort on my part. For some time now I have somewhat trained myself to pay attention to these, shall I say, events, or comings together of readiness and opportunity / information. Another such event was in the dream which I partly related in my first entry when I started this blog.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"What if, just what if..." Scenarios

I've been thinking about putting up some "what if" scenarios on my blog as a way of stimulating thinking and discussion about how things could change, sometimes almost in an eyeblink, and what the impact of those changes would be for individuals and also for large groups, even societies. In doing this I walk a fine line because I don't want to produce unnecessary anxiety in those who are prone to excess anxiety. Yet, this type of "exercise" may sharpen our appreciation for the abundance we presently have, and also to recognize the fragility of this complex system when a pivotal piece of the whole is no longer available, or is jeopardized.

The first topic comes from a presentation made by Dmitry Orlov and entitled: Closing the Collapse Gap. In it he discusses the collapse of the Russian empire at the end of the cold war, and then makes a general statement that one of the lessons of history is that empires come and empires go. They all go, and some of them collapse fairly rapidly. The collapse of the Russian empire was a clear case in point.

He then asks an interesting question: "what lessons could the United States learn from the Russian collapse?" He explores that question through a "compare and contrast" process. In walking you through a series of slides he draws some conclusions which are disquieting to say the least.

Let me take just one of his observations. He says that the suffering experienced by the Russian people was terrible. No doubt about that. But he also says that as bad as it was, it in a sense was made easier because of several factors. For example, he says that they had no expectation that the Russian government would come to their rescue. They never had that expectation based on decades of experience. After the collapse they experienced terrible despair and apathy and confusion but they knew they would have to deal with it on their own. There was to be no "methadone" for them in that crisis; it was a "cold turkey" withdrawal. By contrast, he observes that in the U.S. there is a pervasive sense of entitlement and also a belief that the government will come to the rescue of the country, no matter how big the crisis or disaster. He questions that possibility given a sudden collapse and as a result feels that the suffering would be even more profound here.

For the purposes of this posting I am neither agreeing nor disagreeing with him. I am wondering out loud in the shape of "what if, just what if...?" For me, it fits in with James Kunstler's thesis elaborated in his book: The Long Emergency. It also heightens my desire to develop realistic self-sustaining practices and to develop connections with like minded people, to be a part of developing neo-communities. Finally it motivates me to continue to reduce my debt level, and to seriously cultivate a life of conscious simplification and non-overconsumption as a strategy for positioning myself for coming through difficult times. And if those difficult times don't come (in my lifetime,) then I will still have enormously enriched the quality of my life and the life of my family and community.

I encourage you to look at his presentation. I feel I can almost guaranty it will rivet your attention for an hour.

Let's see what discussion / comments come from his observations.

Addendum: 1/16/07...In the text above I said that for the purposes of this posting I was neither agreeing nor disagreeing with Mr. Orlov. The rest of the story is that it is my considered opinion that he is bringing our attention appropriately to pivotal issues which deserve our It is my opinion that hard times they be a'comin. I'll be writing more about this.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Societal "Know How" and Memory

I have been thinking about the implications of "peak oil," climate turbulence, quality of life and how to shift from living life on a cultural treadmill of running to just stay "caught up." Then I started thinking about some practical steps to increase my sense of self-sustainability. That led me to a startling conclusion. I realized that I have no cultural knowledge of how to grow any - ANY - of my own food. None, zero, zippo, nada!

I've put down some grass seed and a year ago I threw some clover seeds on my lawn. I was jokingly saying that I was going in the direction of biodiversity. I suspect I did that also because it reminded me of my good friend Gil who died last year; he had clover all over instead of grass.

But it also got me thinking that if I can throw down some seeds and let them do the work on their own and then enjoy seeing them grow and spread, then maybe, just maybe I could do something similar with a vegetable garden. Bright guy that I am (at least in my own mind) I figured that it can't be all that hard and that made it easy for me to keep coming back to it in my mind. Then I started asking people if they had gardens or if they grew any of their own vegetables and I sat back and watched their faces breighten if they did. I would ask questions like how big an area would you need for potatoes, have you ever considered asparagus, which herbs do you grow, how do you keep chipmunks from eating the roots, etc., etc. With every answer I received I filed it away in my mind and my "possibility mind" said maybe, just maybe I could do it.

Sounds funny doesn't it. I'm a fairly accomplished person. Clearly well educated in an academic and professional way. But the simple step of taking this step towards growing my own food seems so big by comparison. I guess that's why I'm saying that we are at risk of losing cultural awareness of how to do these things which are SO basic.

My parents didn't teach me how to grow vegetables. I never saw them do anything like that. Maybe that's where the broken connection was made even more broken. If I can learn to do this maybe then I can pass my new found knowledge on to my children and to others. It will show that it is possible. Of course I know it is possible, yet it seems like such a big step. The image that comes to mind is that of a rock formation on the Maine Coast (Nubble Point) where I saw a child hesitating to step from one part of the rock to the other even though they were separated by only a foot. The problem was that the child was looking down into that foot-wide divide which was many feet deep. The cross-over is easy - once you've done it. Before that it's surprisingly more troublesome. The knowledge that it really is not that big of a deal makes it more difficult rather than easier until you take that step.

On a slightly different note I came across a reference of a seed depository which Norway is establishing to ensure that our world does not lose the diversity of seeds which our planet already has. What are they thinking of which leads them to do this?

Cultural memory will not be found in the supermarket. Seeds once lost in the Amazon may well be lost forever if it were not for what the Norwegians are doing. Gardening is just gardening until no one remembers how to do it. Then we would be in deep compost.

By the way, I have found the book called: All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew and also the website to be invaluable. They have taken me many steps forward in having a plan laid all out for me for putting a garden in my back yard this spring. I will wait and at the same time I can't wait.

By the way #2, if YOU have this knowledge, pass it on to several others. Don't wait. You may take it for granted but take it from this guy who has never had a green thumb that it is important to share your hard earned know how with others.

Seed Depository Reference:

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Dimming the Sun and Seasonal Affective Disorder

I just wonder if there might be a relationship between the dimming of the sun (see previous post of 11.25.06) and mood state. My wife and I have both noticed that we are more effected by the shortened days of winter and by several consecutive days of rain. Also over the past several years I have heard more people talking about also feeling similarly. I am not saying that everyone is feeling this but for those who are vulnerable to it, it may be a factor.

I have also noticed that it is not simply a question of winter. I remember commenting several times that during the winters when there is a lot of snow that stays on the ground, even if it turns to "freezer frost," that my mood is not influenced by "the winter." This was never a problem for me in my first 60 years - I'm working on my second 60 years now - and when I heard about the "dimming of the sun" phenomenon it occurred to me that there may just be a correlation between the two given the fact that it is a new phenomenon.

You may be wondering why having snow on the ground for longer periods of time may have an impact on mood. Well, it's really simple; the snow will reflect more light and thus will act like a natural antidote to the impact of less light.

I have also noticed that I am less vulnerable to the winter blues if I "sun" myself. This is one of the exercises recommended nearly 100 years ago by Dr. William Bates. His book: Perfect Eyesight Without Glasses has been of interest to a number of people over the years although it is clearly not part of mainstream thinking. My only reason for mentioning it is because he recommended that people close their eyes and look towards the sun as they gently swing to the left and then to the right with their upper torso and head. It is a very pleasing and relaxing exercise. It also has the effect of letting a considerable amount of sunlight impact on the retina without hurting the eyes - BE SURE TO KEEP YOUR EYELIDS CLOSED. On a bright day my retina is bathed in bright red. It is a very pleasant exercise and I have never felt any discomfort doing this. Remember also that there is no rushing when practising it. Try it, you may find it helpful.

One other thing we have done is to a buy balanced spectrum reading light for our home. It is wonderful to read by and, yes, it reflects more light off the page we are reading.

Another observation I have made is that I have never heard of a person who went on vacation to the Carribean during the winter who came back to New England and complained of feeling depressed while there. Maybe when they returned, giggle, but maybe that is not just related to going back to work but also related to less light again.

Just wondering. I would be curious to hear if others have noticed a similar process.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Dimming the Sun and Climate Change

I watched a movie called "Dimming the Sun." It was produced by NOVA and was on a national public television station.

The long and the short of it was that in certain parts of the world the sun is not as bright as it used to be. I'll briefly describe the interlocking themes. As they say it will just be the top level of what was presented and discussed. Don't hold me to getting it exactly right but what I will describe is the gist of it.

Theme #1: About 30 years ago a scientist was asked to look at the ground temperature and the amount of light hitting the ground in Israel. He painstakingly kept records from multiple sensors over a period of time. This data revealed about what they had expected but now they had actual scientific data to support their hunches. It was important because they were going to use his findings to make informed decisions on how much water was going to be needed for national irrigations projects.

Several years ago and for some reason or other the same scientist went back to take the measurements again, I presume to see if there was any interval difference, or whatever. He was stunned to discover that the amount of light impacting on the ground had decreased. He was amazed. (ok, ok, I know the details that you want aren't here, but you can rent the movie and see it in its entirety and then add your comments to this entry.)

Naturally he wrote up his findings and published it in a scientific journal. He was surprised to find out that it drew virtually no response or interest. In the movie or on the basis of my own interpretation, I think that happened because it flew against the grain of the growing body of data on global warming. In science that's not surprising for two essential reasons. First because when ideas become popular, even with scientists, there is a ground swell which eventually becomes somewhat established dogma and this can lead people to disregard information which doesn't fit that pattern. Secondly, if you do enough research it appears that you will find some information which is different just from a statistical probability point of view. There I go again, and I was trying to keep it simple.

Theme #2: Then there was a climatologist in Germany who did a similar study in Germany or that part of Europe. She had no knowledge of the first bit of research above. She was similarly greatly surprised to find similar trends and she also published it. Once again there was little interest

Theme #3: Then there were two climatologists in Australia who were interested in studying rates of water evaporation on the surface of the earth in their area. I think they also had interval data which showed that the amount of "pan evaporation" had gone down since the time of their first measurements years previously. (They called it "the pan" because they filled a pan with a measured amount of water and then later measured how much water had to be added to the pan to bring it up the original level.)

I don't recall this part but I think they were saying that they were perplexed by the "apparent anomaly" because the temperature at the surface had increased and therefore they would expect that the pan rate would be greater also. They went to publish their paper describing this and quite "by chance" they came across the publications from Themes 1 and 2. They then ran some more experiments and found that the "pan rate" was determined by temperature, wind and the light intensity of the sun on the ground. They expected that the wind and temperature would be more important but they discovered that the light intensity was in fact the most important factor influencing the "pan rate."

Theme #4: The above themes plus a few others were then combined with some studies which looked at the influence of the amount of pollution / debris in the atmosphere on global warming in different parts of the globe. This multiyear study took place off the coast of India in a sprawling area of small islands collectively called the Maldeves. This area was chosen because on one end of the Maldeves the cloud cover was heavily influenced by the pollution coming out of China and India. On the other end of the island chain there was relatively little pollution in the cloud cover.

When the data was finally collected and analyzed it was found that the amount of light under the "polluted" clouds was less than the other area. This also had the effect of lowering the temperature in the areas of higher contamination. The explanation offered was that the particulates combine with water droplets in the atmosphere (clouds) and then the droplet-particles act as tiny mirrors which reflect the light back out towards the sun / space, with the net effect of "dimming the sun." (Please don't ask me why the particles don't reflect light off each other and then to my lay persons interpretation they would have a net effect of zero, i.e., an equal amount would be bounced or reflected equally in every direction.)

There was one other experiment which looked at the above theme in context of the influence of particulates and water vapor coming from the contrails of aircraft on light levels and surface temperatures. That was equally fascinating and was able to be conducted sadly because of the events of 9/11 where all air traffic was prohibited for a few days till things got sorted out. I'll leave that story for you to hear when you watch the movie.

The implications of this are important on a number of levels. What I understood was that the movie and the scientists were saying that pollution lowers the amount of sunlight impacting on the earth and by virtue of that lowers the temperature greatest in areas of greatest pollution. So does this mean that global warming is not happening? No, it means that the effect of dimming the sun is to lower the temperature in those areas of greatest pollution. Now here's the catch 22: pollution has to be lowered because of the significant impact on the health of those people who live in the areas of greater pollution. But in doing that the further effect will be that temperature will increase even more rapidly in those areas. Ironic isn't it that as the United States does a good job of decreasing the overall pollution of the atmosphere over the continental states, that the downside of that will (may) be a disproportionate increase in temperature. There were also other discussions in the movie of the impact of decreased evaporation at the surface of the earth on climate. How all this will impact on farming is of importance and perhaps some can comment on this.

This is a long post but I think it further points out how the climate of the globe is an integrated whole; what influences one part influences other parts. One moral of the story is that any one little piece of pollution may not have all that much impact, but the sum total is enormous. These researchers deserve a gold star for their tenacity.

In my next entry I will give you some of my thoughts about "dimming the sun" and Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Struggling vs. developing my voice in these blog entries

When I look at my last post I know what I am saying but it also seems too complicated. When I'm talking with someone directly I am more to the point. I'm ok dealing with complex issues, in fact, I really enjoy them but only if I can find a simple design contained within the complexity. But when complexity becomes complicated, well, yuck!

Writing for my blog is a new process for me. It's like I'm still finding my "voice" and my primary drum beats. It's ok that I don't have it all together already in the sense that this is just the way it is. Trying to get it right - right away - misses the reality that this process develops over time. Grappling with something is fine and actually fun for me. Struggling, a habit I know too well, is self defeating. Struggling ultimately reinforces the trying, not the learning. Struggling puts more energy into the struggle and it is all an energy game.

The strategy which makes sense to me is to catch myself as soon as I can in the struggle, and then acknowledge the struggle, watch it for a few moments, then "release it." " How to release," you ask? By letting go, by bringing your attention to your next exhale. Do that for a few moments / minutes / decades and then place your energy on something which draws your attention and which is appealing. That way I / you are not putting more energy into a process which has already stopped being a lively experience. It takes practise but it is a way out of the struggle.

In that way then, the struggle becomes a cue to watch and experience differently. It becomes an opportunity to lighten up and then the struggle is accepted for what it is, a short circuit which blocks further and easy development. A struggle is then just part of the process, like a punctuation point which gives a hint that there is rushing going on, a trying to make it go faster. Better to ease off the throttle and shift gears before getting back on track. Better yet to refresh the compass direction before setting out again.

I feel better now.

And the gift from this is an awareness that the original intent is still there:

  • To talk about shifting consciousness from rushing and hurrying to a pace dictated only by the reality of the current situation and not impaled on the demands of the external system, which for sure seldom has my / your best interest at the forefront of their agenda.
  • To hear from others about how they came to a shifting point and how they followed through with it.
  • To recognize and share information about the perilous times we are in from the point of view of impending changes which will occur to our society as climate change continues and the peak oil process progressively plays out the reality of how utterly dependent we have become on that substance.
  • To recognize how we have been ultra conditioned to over-consume and to hand our lives over to specialists and how we give away our life-time to make money to pay for all that.
  • To reconnect and rediscover basic skills necessary for self and group sustainability.
  • To explore how people form new circles of common interest around the sustainable process.
  • To integrate complex issues and to say it in plain english.
  • To cultivate our inner sense.
  • To clarify our values.
  • To live the good life and to be in harmony with our surroundings

I suspect that should keep me busy for a while.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

An unexpected dividend - no pressure in a pressure situation

Here's the scene: I'm checking out at a self serve checkout aisle at B.J.'s. It's my second time through one of these "time-saving" alternatives to the regular checkout process. Every checkout line was long except for mine. I lucked out!

It all looked fairly easy and I'm sure it is after you have done it several times. My turn came and since I had only one item it seemed a cinch that I'd be through lickety-split. Yeah, right!

Off to a good start, the machine recognized my B.J.'s card. Then the system seemed to break down for me. I think it was because I put my debit card in first instead of scanning the item, or the reverse of that. Not to worry, the machine assured me that a sales person was coming to assist me. Not so. I noticed people shifting to my left and made the mistake of looking over. What had been the shortest line was now, you guessed it, as long or longer than the others. We need to insert in here an audio sound for pressure building up but I don't yet know how to do that.

I go through the process again. Same outcome. Then several scenarios raced through my mind. 1. Just walk away from the checkout line. 2. Take the item - a package of flashlights and throw it against the wall. This had a feeling of an impending volcanic eruption. 3. You'll love this one: Take your time, there IS no rush, and figure it out.

Drum roll please; 3 was it. (1 was still a contender and 2 was tempting) It wasn't like standing my ground. I wasn't sighing or doing things to make nice-nice to the waiting hordes. I just took my time. I figured it out and after I got my receipt I turned to those in the line and said: "I think a round of applause would be appropriate." No clapping (sigh, it would have been a perfect ending) but I did get a "that happened to me last week."

As the title said, this was a delightful dividend from continuing with the "I will rush no more" mantra.

P.S. The flashlight was one of those windup models which don't require batteries. This particular model had a mode where the white light flashes and there are two side panels which have red lights which also flash as a hazard light for the car. Neat.

P.P.S. As I was leaving the next person in line was having as much trouble as i had. If I had cards made up I could hand them out - and then make a quick exit in case they are considering option 2.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Walden Pond - Walkabout

It's been thirty years since I last visited Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. About all I remember of that visit was that there was a small hut and a pond, and that it had something to do with a writer called Thoreau. Looking back it is like I was going through the motions of "seeing something" mostly for the purpose of checking it off on the list. I thought then that I was seeing everything with such clarity. Now I am amazed at how naive I was, and how the invisible blinders blocked the deep sense of appreciation which the location warranted.

Since the day was in my mind an officially designated "Walkabout Day," I walked from the train station to Walden Pond, altogether about 2 miles. It was a near perfect Fall day which made it easy to be in no rush.

First stop was in the Shop at Walden Pond. The T-shirts caught my attention the most. Loved seeing Thoreau's sayings printed on different colors: "Simplify, Simplify;" "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them;" "Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes." I took one other to heart for the moment: "Do not trouble yourself much to get new things," and managed to get out of the shop with all my money still in my pocket.

The replica of Thoreau's single-room hut was a short distance away. Outside was a bronze sculpture of the man - it looked to me as if his clothes were made of tree bark. Perhaps the artist was trying to convey the strength of the natural man. I loved the simplicity of the hut, 12 feet by 15 feet with a window on each side, one door in the front, and a stone fireplace for the back wall, with a wood box to the right of the fireplace. There was a single cot, a desk and chair, and a round table with another chair. The wood burning stove had pots for cooking on the top. I could see a reflective person walk into the house and easily live there - Thoreau did for 2 years. Some books, perhaps a radio, definitely no television. It is a dwelling to come back to and to live around. Perfect for "the woods."

The pond, longer than wide and with several small coves, is beautiful. The water is very clear. An easy 1.7 mile walk circumnavigates the entire pond. It took me 2 hours to finish the walk, what with carrying on conversations along the way and meditating at Ice Fort Cove.

Perhaps the most enjoyable conversation was with a pilgrim from Virginia who had driven up that morning, starting his pilgrimage at 2 in the morning. We spoke of cultural differences, the pace of life in America, the epidemics of diabetes, hypertension and consumerism. I asked if he wanted to walk along with me but he gently deferred preferring to walk alone. Of course: it was his pilgrimage; mine also, but I also learn through these conversations.

The surprise came when I saw a sign pointing to the original Thoreau House Site. It was a quiet "shrine" surrounded on three sides with low hills. Out the front door and slightly to the right was a view of the pond. I didn't have a compass with me but I was curious if the door fronted due east.

There was a plaque there which said it all: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." Walden

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Off to Boston Walkabout #2 tomorrow, with a twist.

The twist is that after I get to Boston, I am then going to Concord, Massachusetts and then from the commuter train station, I am going to walk to Walden Pond and "take in" where Thoreau built his cabin and hung out for a year. I'll walk around the pond and find a suitable time to "grok" it all out. I'll do my meditation there tomorrow instead of at the pond. I'll let you know how it turns out.

And to whet your appetite and mine, drink of the following from Master Thoreau himself:

Walking - ("Walking" began as a lecture, first delivered at the Concord Lyceum on April 23, 1851, and many other times, until it evolved into the essay published in the Atlantic Monthly, after his death in 1862.)

"The length of his walk uniformly made the length of his writing. If shut up in the house, he did not write at all." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I WISH TO SPEAK a word for nature, for absolute Freedom and Wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and Culture merely civil,—to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make a emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization; the minister, and the school-committee, and every one of you will take care of that.

[2] I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks, who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering; which word is beautifully derived "from idle people who roved about the country, in the middle ages, and asked charity, under pretence of going à la sainte terre"—to the holy land, till the children exclaimed, "There goes a sainte-terrer", a saunterer—a holy-lander. They who never go to the holy land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds, but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all, but the Saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea. But I prefer the first, which indeed is the most probable derivation. For every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit (1) in us, to go forth and reconquer this holy land from the hands of the Infidels.

[3] It is true, we are but faint hearted crusaders, even the walkers, now-a-days, who undertake no persevering never ending enterprises. Our expeditions are but tours and come round again at evening to the old hearth side from which we set out. Half the walk is but retracing our steps. We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return; prepared to send back our embalmed hearts (2) only, as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends,(3) and never see them again; if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man; then you are ready for a walk.

[4] To come down to my own experience, my companion and I, for I sometimes have a companion, take pleasure in fancying ourselves knights of a new, or rather an old, order—not Equestrians or Chevaliers, not Ritters or Riders,(4) but Walkers, a still more ancient and honorable class, I trust. The chivalric and heroic spirit which once belonged to the rider seems now to reside in—or perchance to have subsided into the Walker—not the Knight but Walker Errant. He is a sort of fourth estate—outside to Church and State and People.

[5] We have felt that we almost alone hereabouts practiced this noble art; though, to tell the truth, at least, if their own assertions are to be received, most of my townsmen would fain walk sometimes, as I do, but they cannot. No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom, and independence, which are the capital in this profession. It comes only by the grace of God. It requires a direct dispensation from heaven to become a walker. You must be born into the family of the Walkers. Ambulator nascitur, non fit. Some of my townsmen, it is true, can remember, and have described to me some walks which they took ten years ago, in which they were so blessed as to lose themselves for half an hour in the woods, but I know very well that they have confined themselves to the highway ever since, whatever pretensions they may make to belong to this select class. No doubt, they were elevated for a moment as by the reminiscence of a previous state of existence, when even they were foresters and outlaws.

for the complete essay:

Monday, November 06, 2006

Perilous Times and Choices

About a year ago I started a conversation with a new friend, Ted. We meet once a week and have coffee and talk about life, the world, values, choices, propaganda, and the good life. It sounds like heady stuff but the ongoing conversation is thrilling and we both look forward to it each week.

He and his wife are committed to growing some of their own food organically and living a simple life which moves in the direction of being self-sustaining. Neither of us are much into consumerism these days. Our conversations revolve around those topics and whatever else is on our minds. The conversations are intriguing and interesting to the both of us. Ted sometimes comments that his head is buzzing for hours after I leave, although, at times, I wonder if it's also because of the very strong mud / coffee he prepares for us. For me, it's like these conversations have become compost for my own movement towards a less hurried and more centered, value expressive life style.

Early on he introduced me to the idea of peak oil and we discussed its implications for the individual, the cities, suburbanites, and the world. James Kunstler's book, The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century, became the focal point for our conversations for several weeks.

Kunstler's message is simple: peak oil (the point at which half of all the oil reserves in the ground will be gone) is a fact. It's not exactly clear when it will happen but if it hasn't already, it will in the relatively near future, and when that happens, gradually at first, but with building momentum it will have nothing short of profound implications for our society. That is because we are inextricably wed to abundant and inexpensive oil. Our whole economy over the years was premised on oil being an inexpensive commodity. There was so much of it that we hardly ever gave it a second thought and with that it became more and more ingrained in our whole lifestyle. It was a positive development but we have inadvertently become more dependent on it in ways which we hardly notice. Some have speculated that if the typical office building suddenly hit a magical delete button which removed all the products which are based on petroleum or petroleum products that the building would suddenly become Lilliputian in size. Whatever the consequences for us, they will be even more significant for our children and their children. For myself I have adopted a belief that it will be a whole new ballgame in the not too distant future.

Some will say that this is too alarmist. I would say that it's risky business to keep certain blinders on. That's a good way to get mugged by reality. There is no doubt that we in the United States live in the lap of luxury. The basic needs generally are there - food, shelter and clothing. But let's take a peep behind the veil of abundance. The food on your table: you probably think that it comes from the supermarket a mile or so from your home. I dare say the younger children would say that is where food comes from. Obviously it doesn't. It was transported from other parts of this country and/or from other parts of the world. I've heard that the average piece of food on the shelves in the supermarkets travel, on average, 1500 miles to get there, and then we transport them the final few.

Or take a look at the labels on your clothes. Similar story there, too. My guess is that if I looked at the labels on all of my clothes, I would find that there is not one item that comes from within an hours drive of my home. That covers two parts of the basic trilogy; food, clothing and shelter.

I am not saying that all of this will change in a twinkling, or a moment. But if the premise is correct, and I think it, at the very least, deserves attentive consideration, that the present material abundance is premised and made possible because of accessible and inexpensive oil and petroleum products, then the implications of a reversal over time of that commodity will be, well, profound.

Back to the second part of the title of this little piece: ...and choices. Somehow or other, as individuals we have to become more self sufficient in many different ways. Kunstler's suggestion is to consider forming self sustaining communities. No one person has to do it all themselves and that simply wouldn't work for the overwhelming majority. But the self sustaining community part makes superb sense to me.

In a forum discussion on the website there was a question as to how much land (acreage) was needed for an individual or family to be self sustaining. One person told a story of how when she was a child her family had a large garden and farmyard and they grew much or most of their own food. In that sense, they had some of their own basic needs met, but it gets better. When a neighbor passed by, e.g., coming back from fishing, he would be invited into the garden and encouraged to bring home part of his supper to share with his family. But it gets even better, because after that person left they would find a freshly caught fish for their supper. That's an example of how self sustaining is not just about one family, but of several families, or a community all contributing in non-intrusive ways according to their talents and skills. Sounds good to me. But it also reminds me of how far we have moved from that sense of basic independence and community.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Disentangling from the habitual pull

It's one thing to think about making a change, it's another thing to do it. But the real development comes when we expand on the initial movement, and then continue on that path without getting lost in all the distractions.

For example, I have been thinking about creating and stepping into a less hurried and a more simple way of living my life. The thinking started a while ago and periodically I come back to it in my thoughts. There was then a progression where I started talking about it with others who have made the transition. Then came the critical part: how to continue on the journey in a more systematic way.

Here was the question: Do I make radical changes essentially all at once or do I make one change, watch for it's effects and then build on that. I opted clearly for the latter but left open the possibility that after following through with the "smaller" parts that at some point a "sea-change" event or moment may spontaneously present itself.

I look at it like the landings on D-day but without all the aggression. There were multiple landings at different locations and each one could help to boost the success factor, but if any one didn't materialize, the others could still move forward. In my mind there is a sense of purpose and a sense of mission with this process; but I've dropped the aggression. Compass readings to explore, yes. Force, no.

Here's the reality, however, no matter how appealing the new process may be, there is the force of habit which wants to pull you back into the old style. Everyone who has ever gone on a diet knows this. If it wasn't food, it was cigarettes, or alcohol, or buying. No matter what the dependency / addiction, the pull back towards the old pattern is always there. Maybe the D-day analogy is helpful here also. The bigger the initial wave, the bigger the undertow. The more forcefully something is pushed forward, the more forcefully do the counter forces attack back. From the outside, the pushback is from others who don't like or support the change. From the inside it the ease of unconsciously performing all the old patterns which slip beneath the radar which then deposit us back in the old patterns all over again. That's why the stealth approach holds more promise when it comes to following through.

Initially I chose the behavior captured in the mantra at the top of this blog. Then I decided to not buy a cup of coffee on my way to work in the morning. Then I started to think about how much pocket money I tend to walk around with, and I decided to carry instead only a few dollars. I noticed that with each of these decisions and actions there came a sense of freedom. In my mind the skirmishes were quite small. The victories were also equally small. But with the changes came an unexpected sense of freedom.

It reminds me of a quote I saved a while back, by Thoreau: "...for a man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let down."

Monday, October 30, 2006

Boston Walkabout #1

Shifting into an "I will rush no more" mindset calls for some action - to put some "feet under it." What better way than to periodically have a walkabout day. A destination, the briefest of agendas, an openness to melting into the experience and the time to let it all just happen. Sounds just about right.

The destination was Boston. The agenda was to take a day off from work, play hookey in a sense, and walk around the city.

I missed the early commuter train, ok, I felt like sleeping in an extra half-hour, but, hey, what's the big rush. Did my morning meditation and was surprised to feel some anxiety. Some of it was just plain excitement, something new, and some of it was apprehension. Like, how will it work out, will it meet my expectations, what are my expectations, will I lightly freak out without the structure? It was really just a little anxiety, but I think those were the components.

I drove to Riverside Station in Newton and found the last parking spot in the lot. From there I rode the MBTA into Boston. First real problem of the day was when I realized I wanted to tell people that I was on a "walkabout," I actually wanted to braodcast it, but at the same time there was this big social hesitancy. It helped the there weren't too many people on the train.

So instead I asked a question of a man across from me: How do I get to the Back Bay station? (It's not that complicated if you have a basic idea of the Boston train system but don't forget there was that song years ago about how a guy named Charlie got lost on the train and never came back - the refrain was: "no, he never returned, no he never returned and his fate is still unlearned." I can well imagine the same thing might happen if your name was Igor or Pierre and your English was as weak as my Russian or French.) He told me to get off at Copley and walk a bit. He then offered an alternate of transferring from the Red Line to the Orange Line and then rambled about how the Orange Line could "be dangerous" at times. I had the impression that he really wanted to say more but didn't quite know how to get into it. I had the same feeling and also felt that he was on one line and I on another.

I took the opportunity to make a tactical retreat to my seat.

At the next stop there was a rush of people and a woman took the aisle seat next to me. Same situation, I wanted to tell her about the walkabout day but felt she would have "freaked out." So I just looked out the window pondering how to get into a conversation. Oh, it dawned on me again, ask a question. We were passing by a beautiful park-like area so I turned to her and asked what that was.

Oops, her eyes are closed and she’s resting and I apologized but she said that it was ok. She said it was the greenway and that it was designed by a man called Olmsted, the same man, she thought, who designed Central Park in New York. A man behind us jumped in and said something about how it was the hospital area and I said it was good that "they" had the forethought to put aside park area in the city.

I had a sense that people were curiously listening to us but maintaining their own personal spaces of isolation.

I couldn't quite get it out that I was "doing a walkabout" but I managed to say that I took the day off and that I wanted to explore Boston. That seemed to work and I figured that people could relate to that and it wouldn't seem too odd and might increase the chances of conversation. One thing led easily to another and before long we were both gabbing; me about how I made a decision - how I will rush no more - and she talking wistfully about how fast it all goes and how her son owns a jewelry shop on Newbury Street and that she helps him out three afternoons a week. It flowed easily after that.

At her stop she offered me her hand. That hello and goodbye moved both of us.

I got off at the next stop. As I was leaving the original man made a point of wishing me well. I sensed the same pent-upness with him but enjoyed that he had extended himself. Two conversations, both real, one easy one less so, two moments.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Use it as a mantra

I have taken it on as one takes on any new practice or set of ideas. I repeat it often - "I will rush no more!" "I will rush no more!" "I will rush no more!" It has to be repeated in order to let it filter into my mind and then my body and finally to my actions.

Easier said than done as we all know. But I'm not sure that it's all that hard either as long as I remember to say it / do it. The hard part is that it goes against the whole cultural conditioning training of decades, of practically my whole life. The old adage that we don't break habits, we replace them, is helpful here. To try and extricate myself from the whole hurry system is a little like trying to get some fresh paint off your hand. The more you touch it the more it spreads. Better to let it dry and drop off as a solid blotch. Ok I know it's not the greatest analogy but you get the point.

One of the laws of physics states that for every action in the universe there is an equal and opposite reaction. That forms one of the core tenets of the Taoist approach to living also. It's taken me a long time to appreciate that and to apply it in my life.

So how do I, you, we change? By doing it. By remembering to do it, regularly. By doing it in a stealth manner - quiet and easy. Nike has it right -"just do it." The stealthy part helps to keep it under the radar so there isn't a major counterattack from the already established and overlearned pattern of behavior, i.e., hurrying, rushing, fitting more in, holding on till the next vacation, etc., etc.

I walk more slowly, except during my dawn walk. I pick and choose between the flood of ideas. I don't buy as much.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

It begins - the short version

It started about a month ago when the phrase "I will rush no more!" popped into my head. It came somewhat out of the blue, but not really since I have been thinking about quality of life and pace of life for some time now.

But the phrase caught and summarized a significant part of my thinking and it was easy to remember - that's a big plus. I started to put more energy into it by sharing it with some others and the response was very positive. They listened. They "attended" and became receptive and seemed to be trying it on for size for themselves, and wondering how that would manifest for them.

A few weeks ago I read an article in the Boston Globe about the trauma unit at Boston Medical Center. A senior nurse, Patty Harrison, was quoted as saying: "You're always so close to death here, I walk out of here with an appreciation of life." It reminds me of Don Juan of Carlos Castenada fame, who suggested that a person of intent, of power, chooses to make "death his ally."

I believe he was talking about cultivating a sense of immediacy, a sense of presence, a kind of fear and trembling and awe and mindfulness all rolled into one. A willingness to be, to do, and to move, at times fast, but not to rush.

Then last night I had a dream in which I was on the shore. I saw a "buoy" off shore a bit. Then I was on a wooden deck jutting out into the ocean with an old friend. The "buoy" was just about to hit against one of the pilings and I knew that could create problems but it was just bumping up to the structure. The water then was much closer to the deck and in the dream, I was looking at a very large wave which was coming right towards me. I took a breath and found myself saying "make yourself into a compact ball and see if you can ride it out."

I guess this was me connecting with an original part - the "boy" - in a context of a sea-change moment.

Let's just see how all this rolls and bounces.