Why am I afraid of
Looking you in your eyes,
Diving into your soul,
And plumbing its depths?

I know just what I’ll find there:

It is all of me,
For we are truly one.

But I am still not ready,
I’m still lacking in grace
For myself
To face the entirety of who I am.

So I cling to your goodness
In fervent hope
That I’ll be reminded of the
Of Love and Beauty
That exist within me too.


The Seeker took Sophia’s hands into his own, and, looking deep into Her eyes, said:

“This Love we share is indescribable. But it needs to be shared with the whole world to foster understanding, healing, and growth. What shall we name it?”

Sophia answered, “Does this Love need to have a label?”

The Seeker replied, “For good or for bad, we humans have a deep desire to label everything we are trying to understand.”

Thus Sophia answered with ageless wisdom:

“We shall call it

P h i l o s o p h y.”

Philo + Sophy(ia)
(Love of Wisdom)


I would rather err
On the side of
Being over-the-top
With showing

At the risk of being called

Than to be too
In order to satisfy the
Of other people.

Little One

Welcome to the world,
Little One.
Why don’t you try on this mask for size?

THIS god, not that one.
Those politics are a little loose, gotta cinch them up a bit.
Always remember, *our* country is the BEST!
(at making money and war)
Pull yourself up by the bootstraps already!
Hurry it up, the shareholders are counting on YOU and the next sixty years of your life.

There are no questions,
There are no doubts.
There is only trust
That what we say is true.

You are most impressionable at this age,
Your brain like a sponge newly wrung.
Don’t mind us as we seek to impart (I mean cement)
Our prejudices and biases and narrow worldview before it’s too late!

What’s this?
You want to know more about this thing called Love?

First of all, remember that WE
(your parents, your politicians, your preachers and priests)
KNOW more than you.
We know better.
We’ve had YEARS of proper training
In the very serious art of
Taking things WAY too seriously.

So only listen to the steely sound of our reproving voice.
Pay no attention to the spark of * d i v i n i t y * held deep within you
From the very beginning.

You see, our Love is Jealous.
It is Insecure.
It hates change and despises growth.
Our Love is Possessive.
To love another is to attach our hooks into them,
So that the only way to separate is by tearing them apart.

To be the object of our Love
Is to be curated
>>>>>and manicured
>>>>>>>>>>and whittled down
Until the only essence you have left
Is that of an idol of our own making.

Isn’t this the same kind of Love
Proscribed by the
>>>primitive god(s)
In those
>>>primitive books
Written by those
>>>primitive people
So long ago?

No, don’t you dare.
No questions.
Doubt is sin.
The gateway to a (fictional) hell.

Get back in line!
Here, listen to the apologists,
People paid to tell us exactly what we want to hear.

No questions!
Stop trying to open your eyes,
There’s nothing out there that you need to see!
Let me help you with your blindfold there.
And while we’re at it, let me take a little reason off the top.
Trim off a few inches of
For your own good, of course.

Come back, Little One!
Out there is only heartache and loneliness, destruction and fear!
Because WE are not out there,
WE are in HERE.

United against the unknown, those dangerous paths.
(of thinking freely and openly)

Aren’t you scared of leaving us?
Of pissing off our (imagined) god(s)?

For if you leave,
If you take your reason and go,
You’ll be outcast and shunned,
Less than human,
Unworthy of our

(meaning: no, none)
(meaning: terms, requirements)

But hold on a second,
Maybe I’m sounding too harsh.
Here, let me pour you a nice full glass of
>>>Cognitive Dissonance
We’ve got a great stock, a nice old vintage, plenty to go around to keep the people
HAPPY (compliant).

And here’s a box of delicious
>>>Double Standards
To compliment your drink.
Tasty little treats
That you can pull out anytime you feel challenged or doubtful.
Because remember what we taught you, from the start:

WE are right.
THEY are wrong.
THEIR customs and beliefs and texts
>>>can be criticized
>>>and scrutinized
>>>and found to be untrue.
But OUR customs and beliefs and far superior, primitive texts
Cannot come under the same criticism, or scrutiny, or (fair) evaluation.
No sir!

It doesn’t work that way.
Remember the House Rules:

Heads, I win.
Tales, they lose.


See if we care.
That internal light won’t guide you the right way.
Pay no attention to that
Connecting you to an ancient * d i v i n i t y * we refuse to understand.

Love isn’t found outside this box (prison).
You’ll come crawling back here, I’m sure.


Gone, gone.
Little One is gone.
I tried my best to restrain them, to retrain them.
Don’t they understand how frightening the wide world is?
Love is best confined to these four rigid walls, isn’t it?

Little One left behind a mirror.
What does it show, I wonder?
One thing is perfectly clear:

I do not like what I see.


Short Story: “A Story of the Night”

The sidewalk glistened after the rain. The smell of tread asphalt, dusty graffitied glass, weathered steel, stale exhaust, incinerated weed, all assumed an almost fresh quality. A chilly, joyful breeze traversed each alleyway and street corner, bringing glad aromatic tidings of the recent rainwater that had fallen from the generous expanse above. Joyful breeze though it was, it remained woefully ignorant that much of the rain was lost for usefulness by falling on the porous fields of asphalt and the tar-thatched roofs of dirty strip mall buildings.

An oblong shape spanned half the width of the sidewalk in front of a shuttered performance theater, covered end-to-end by a damp quilted comforter, white in color in its better days. A passer-by had only to guess that some unfortunate soul was making a hearty attempt at slumber. Stepping to the side and continuing their way, perhaps passer-by would give a half-hearted thought to checking the shape for signs of life or, worse, expired life. But thought quickly returned to the mundane, the comfortable things of life, and no more considered the curious shape.

The shape moved slightly against the cold.

Dark clouds outlined dramatically against the twilight sky. The clearing of the air and the sparkling of the streets somehow made the approaching evening seem brighter than normal in the cloudy moonlight. It made the inner romantic desire to sit outside amid the rain-cleansed scenery, next to a loved one, to stay awake all night and see what the world did between the hours of 1:30 and 6:00 in the morning. To chat about beauty, to inhale life’s misty essence before it disappeared with the coming of the evaporating powers of the sun. To observe moving clouds and moving people, dripping tree branches, steamy breath. To feel inexorably connected to all, and yet removed from the nitty gritty of all. Lifted high by staying still, low to the earth.

An aspiring rock star hauled pieces of his drum set up the basement stairs of a nearby bar. The gritty stench of cigarette smoke and stale beer following him up after the conclusion of his band’s half-hour gig before a grand audience of nineteen people. He paused at the top of the stairs, stick bag in hand, to take in the fresh night with a deep inhale. If he wasn’t reminded why he loved life at this very moment, perhaps the twenty-five dollars in his pocket would help jog his memory. The night’s take was not as much as at other gigs, but at least he had enough to fill up his gas tank and grab a bite to eat on the way home to his wife and warm bed.

His car now fully packed, the drummer shared a final laugh with his bandmates before bidding them farewell until the next gig. He turned around to take in a final view of the downtown street and the boarded-up theater across from the bar. It was then that he spotted the oblong shape outlined brightly on the damp sidewalk, covered in dirty white. His right hand fingered the twenty- and five-dollar bills in his pocket, and his mind pondered. He frowned and turned his back, cinching his scuffed leather jacket tighter around his skinny frame; the laughing memory of raindrops filled his olfactory senses as he slowly walked back to his car.

The heady feeling of the bills in his pocket inexplicably slowed his feet down even further, as if by bewitchment. He turned back around and, struggling to make a decision, noticed that the shape had moved yet again in the cold just as a couple-in-lust walked by without even a glance. The shape was just another piece of street litter barely registering in the consciousness.

But the shape had a name, and it was called James. And James still felt the chill rain deep in his bones.

A moment to breathe

Just taking a moment today, January 20, 2021, Inauguration Day, to breathe deeply.

Wisdom, peace, understanding, integrity, and love to you, President Joe Biden, and to you, Vice President Kamala Harris.

It’s 2002 again, part 2…

In the ongoing saga of my quitting social media (I know, my life is that interesting to you lovely people), I’ve found that there are not, as of yet, any clearly defined withdrawals that I can describe so much as there is just a slight undertone of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out, for those uninitiated into Club Acronym) lurking beneath the surface.

Absolutely expected, of course.

I told my sister Jessica (you can find her at about the move away from the socials, since she has been sans social media for the better part of a year or more at this point. A wonderful in-person conversation ensued as we (my wife Talia, my sister, and my brother-in-law Luke) sat around the breezeway table and enjoyed the beautiful spring-like January day, surrounded by trees and green plants and the sounds of children playing Legos and going across the alley to feed the stray cat. I also had my first sumptuous cup of coffee in almost an entire week (see previous post. I’ve decided it can be a weekend treat now). It’s the little things in life.

There seems to be less holding me down. As if the world is mine to explore again, without the need to stay informed and abreast via social media. No, I don’t have to go see what everyone else is talking about. No, I don’t have to get my daily news from apps that cater my personal newsfeed by recording my every click, every comment, every second watching a video. No, I don’t have to be inundated with every meme on the planet just to find the humor in this weird life.

There’s a concept in eastern philosophy that entails removing attachments and entanglements in one’s life in order to be more free. The more attached we become to a thing, a person, a concept, a belief, the more drama we can create around it. The more expectations we have. And that attachment can create more and more attachments via whatever is orbiting that attachment’s existence. The more drama we have to deal with in our lives, the more inward-looking we become, slaves to our own self-image and self-survival just to make it to the next day.

So, just start removing some of those attachments. And trust me, watch the drama start to fade from your life. Watch how you can start taking the time to just breathe again. Watch how your gaze starts to lift up from the dusty ground to take in (in astonishment!) the deep blue sky and beyond. Hence, the front photo caption on this blog.

Maybe start with something as simple (yes, SIMPLE) as social media. Don’t let social media become this Kraken that you just can’t kill dead. If it is, perhaps use this opportunity to see how much of your own personal identity is tied up in an app or three. Bits and bytes. That all those apps are.

Yeah, it takes practice, and (duh duh DUHHHH!!! dramatic music) self-discipline. It takes guts to stand up to yourself and the social training you’ve received over your many years. But one of the most important things a person can learn for themselves is the power of the word “No”.

No, I won’t feel pressure to do what everyone else is doing. I am my own person.

No, I won’t let huge corporations spoon-feed me what it thinks is relevant to my life.

No, I won’t despair or let FOMO dominate my life. It’s my life, so it is I who controls how much contact I want to maintain with other people.

I’m sure this won’t be the last post on the social media thing. There’s tons I haven’t said yet. But I don’t want to obsess over it either, while having said that I was done with it. Oh, another one of life’s great ironies.

But I can’t wait to see what the universe puts in my path next, so that I, with eyes more widely open and paying attention, can know what to say “Yes” to.

As Ram Dass so wisely said:

“Be Here Now”.

Coffee, or the lack thereof

Owing to a pretty mundane series of events (nothing to write home about anyway), I have not had coffee for four whole days now.

That’s, like, a record.

Now initially, I had a caffeine withdrawal headache for about a day, on my first day without coffee. I just couldn’t find the time to go to my favorite coffee shop, much to the chagrin of my addicted brain, so I’m pretty sure that the tiny engineer in my head was throwing a little temper tantrum, like a toddler deprived of sugar, banging on the side of my head walls and screaming until hoarse.

Or maybe it was just another polluted high-pressure weather system in good ol’ Bakersfield.


In either case, the pounding stopped the next day. And ever since then, I’ve felt…



Not beholden to chemical comfort. A little less antsy too.

Will I keep it up? Perhaps make coffee an occasional treat instead of a daily necessity? Caress the sweet foam of a vanilla latte with gentle kisses from my lips on a rare day of splurge, as opposed to greedily guzzling the gastronomic gasoline on the daily?

I guess it’s too soon to tell. Humans are so wishy-washy.

But I’m honestly liking the results so far.

Short Story: “Of the Earth”

He escaped the sprawl of suburbia, those walled-off faux-resplendent stuccoed cul-de-sacs with high, noble names such as Stonybrook and Glenmarsh and Something-Oak and Laurel-Whatever, nature words designed to trick the mind into accepting the abundance of fake brick and stone and wood. He escaped with his family to trade speedy six-lane roads and barren sidewalks and strip-mall monuments for…what, exactly?

Crumbling bricks and drafty floorboards? Check.

Stolen bikes and wary glances from unwashed drifters? Check.

Mature plants giving much-needed shade and beauty in exchange for rich, sandy soil in this marshland-turned-metro? Well-used sidewalks with ancient memories of walkers and bike riders and barely holding down large tree roots? A diversity of peoples and incomes and housing, with no property the same and each chronicling a long history in its dusty bones?

Life? Creativity? Possibility? Togetherness? Appreciation for all things old and genuine and unique and natural? Moving to the city center, he found that he could tentatively check these all off, and that he could scarce be convinced to move anywhere else in town from that time onward.

After parking his car and retrieving his laptop from the trunk on a certain mid-April morning, he noticed that a cool breeze, fresh after a mild rain, played with the cigarette smoke curling into the air from the smoker’s patio attached to the corner coffee shop. The rancid aroma of incinerated tobacco danced intimately with the savoriness of freshly-ground coffee beans, and it flirted with the slight olfactory evidence of someone smoking a hidden joint of weed around the corner. Rainwater, now resting on the ground, had cleared the air of the ever-present smog in this typically dry valley town; it made temporary room for the sweet scent of the blooming trees nearby, and of grass, and of a reminder to look up and revere the oft-hidden mountains surrounding the city in the distance. The sun played peek-a-boo between clear blue sky and gray clouds that were ringed in silver-white. This orgy of the senses produced an offspring of organic thought in him: This is earth, and we are of the earth, and we ingest the earth, and we create the earth.

The coffee shop served as an eclectic collective of people and roles. Business was conducted. Old friends were caught up. New friends were made. Religious devotees hoped that their prayers and studies of their sacred texts, conducted in the open public, would bear good witness to all the unconverted heathens. Musicians hoped that their connections would lead to the next big thing. Artists hoped for their next commission, their next full tank of gas, as they stared intently at the incomplete shading of their paper creation – perhaps they should use a darker pencil for this part of the calf muscle…maybe a 7B?

Coffee baristas concentrated on uplifting the plain existence of hot water poured through the tortured remains of small tropical berries or plant leaves, like priests and priestesses performing a holy rite with the barest of earthly ingredients. They concentrated, yes, but they were not concerned with the art. No, they were concerned with their next car payment or with their son’s toothache or with their mother’s recent health scare. They were concerned about the belligerent druggie who would always come in for free water and leave a mess in the bathroom. They were concerned about the stabbing that happened last night up the street. They were concerned about what they were going to fix for dinner with the few staples in their kitchen. They were concerned about how many reactions their latest social media post received, and about trying to stave off the anxiety and depression that hounded so many of their fellow humans in the modern digital realities of hyper-connectivity and high-speed insecurity.

He entered the coffee shop and breathed in the familiarity. His second office, his second home. There, behind the counter, toiled his friends. All around, his family consumed and lived and created. And he joined the ritual, trading credits for caffeine, to sit alone yet not alone at a wobbly table in order to conduct his own business and keep the economic machinery lubed and running.

After a few hours, he had to pack his things away and put his mind toward the client that needed help on-location. He drove away from the city center, the center of his life, and proceeded over the bridge spanning the always-dry riverbed. Out of habit, he glanced to the right to take in the sight of the bare riverbed leading up to the eastern foothills and the now-clear mountains beyond. But today, he was witness to the very rare sight of water cutting a shallow path. He turned his head to the left and confirmed the happy circumstance. He smiled inside himself, and he thought: There is water in the river, and today is a good day.