Showing posts from May, 2014

Mutant Terrorists

Imagine feeling a little peckish, going to the doctor, and finding out that your body has been invaded by an army of mutants. They have set up encampments in your lungs, brain, and nestled into bone outcroppings. These terrorists strike with a vengeance, robbing the indigenous population of nourishment and life force.

The battle to drive out the alien forces must be fought on all fronts, with tactical savvy and superior technology. Like a once free country whose borders have been overrun by hostile forces, it will take a Herculean effort to vanquish the voracious and deranged beings now inhabiting your sacred land.

This, my friends, is called cancer. To wake up one day thinking you simply have a back pain fixable with physical therapy, to finding out that aliens have landed in your body proper, is shocking. Hard to grasp. We see but we don't believe. Not me. Not my loved one. No!

And the Buddha's words come to mind. The cause of all suffering is birth, old age, sickness and death…

The Long and Winding Road


Love Thy Neighbor Like Thy Dog

If one were to quote the phrase, "Love thy neighbor like thy dog" in certain quarters of the world, it would probably be considered an insult...or even grounds for murder. (Remember the Sochi Olympics where Russian authorities killed stray dogs who dared to linger around the burgeoning stadiums looking for food scraps.)

However, at least in the USA, people's dogs are likely to be the central topic of conversation, adored and doted upon like a single royal heir - especially among the young unwed or the elderly empty nesters.

Let's face it. The dog, if well socialized, can be infinitely more loyal, patient, obediant, and protective than most humans we know. And if the canine love of your life kicks the bucket, you can always go to a rescue shelter and find another noble being hankering to be your best friend.

The Kindness of Friends

A rather strange phenomenon happens when sudden catastrophic illness befalls one. Having been the recipient of one of these marvelous events (late stage cancer) and survived to tell the tale, my observations are thus:

Some of the people with whom you are closest seem the most distant - or the least comforting - while others in this category are the closest and most comforting. Acquaintances with whom you have had warm interactions but not intimate daily contact step forward with so much love and zeal to assist that it can take your labored breathe away and bring tears to your eyes. And the ones who get the booby prize seem like the type whose own lives are so fascinating that they can't take a moment to lean into yours and lend an energetic zap of love.

One of my dear friends who suffered through multiple life-threatening illnesses simultaneously - while being single and broke - noted that her only twenty something son did not show up very much to help with her care. I asked her if …

Leaning Into the Curve

One of my struggling friends recently remarked, "Why is life always throwing me a curve ball?" My first reaction, which lasted a few days, was some knee jerk philosophical jive about life's uncertainties and so on and so forth.

For some insane reason, this complaint about curveballs and my pat "life is full of ups and downs" answer didn't sit right. And then I figured out why. If you keep getting curve balls, then goddamit, learn to adapt and figure out how to lean into the curve and synchronize your movements to it. Then it won't be a curve ball anymore. More than likely it will resemble a tai chi movement or a Martha Graham choreography.

The trick: when that unexpected turn of events spins you around, flow with it and become an expert at spinning. (If Sufi mystics can do it, so can you.)  Otherwise you will flip out, spin out, and live wildly out of control. And that wouldn't be nearly as fun as holding tight to the center of the centrifugal force .

What Is "The What Is?"

Good advice for all people under all circumstances is accepting "the what is." A reality-based strategy, it implies a clear-eyed assessment of factors both physical, mental, and environmental that are currently in play. This acceptance does not imply apathy or acquiesence. In fact, without knowing where you are, how can you have a direction in which to take your next step?

But then there are "what is's" that effect us, but of which we are not aware. For example, dogs can hear sounds and smell smells that exceed the human capacity, yet do exist in a more subtle realm. In order for us to evolve into a state of atunement that gives us more information than the basic five senses, a certain level of training must take place for those doors of perception to fling open.

Perhaps if the human race were to activate some of that junk DNA, those extra strands just lying around, we could acquire marvelous abilities to turn on and tune into our vast potential.

In the meantime, …

Health or Wealth

Woody Allen once quipped, "Rich or poor, it's good to have money." Another favorite is, "Reality is the only place you can get a good steak."

Both are germane to the question. Would you rather be here - wealthy or healthy?

Anyone who has ever had a serious ailment or even a sprained ankle would most likely answer healthy. At least if one is sound in body and mind, functionality lends itself to self-help. And you don't have to be a brain surgeon to know that life sucks when pain or immobility dominate moment to moment reality.

However, like so many other things in life, there isn't a yes or  no pat answer. In this country with its highly unsocialized and unsociable medicine, wealth becomes quite intrinsic to maintaining health, or at least being able to hire a legion of specialists of all stripes to suite the pain of the moment.

In the long run we will all end up a bag of bones, but in the meantime, may all beings be privileged to get their needs met in a lo…

Write on Water, Carve on Stone

A wise saying, originating somewhere in the Arab world, goes as follows: "Carve in stone the good others have done unto you and use your finger to trace on water the bad."

How many of us marinate in anger over a wrong done to us in childhood by a parent, forgetting that they clothed, fed, and protected us when we were helpless babes? Or broken off a friendship based on a snide or judgmental comment, forgetting about all the shared life experiences? Worse yet, a parent disenfranchising a child or vice versa, based on unexpressed feelings and miscommunication?

Most of us have experienced some version of the above. If we have a choice to remember the good and let go of the bad - forgive and forget (or at least forgive and let go of obsessional thinking about the past), perhaps our stories will have happier endings.

Anthony Bourdain Has Balls

OK, so I just posted a blog a few days ago about this uber-popular television figure; rehashing a figure in the media usually breaks the rules of original ideas. However, as spontaneous thought arises this morning, it is impossible not to sing his praises yet one more time.

Thanks to my technologically savvy daughter, who loves to DVR all her "Housewives of....." on our home set (thus clogging it up with this drivel), she also kindly DRVed a bunch of Anthony Bourdain's epics.

My husband and I are totally turned off when we turn on CNN Breaking News (a.k.a more non-news about Malaysia Flight 370), so in desperation, we found Bourdain's show on Russia in the "recorded" section of our new-fangled TV setup. Michael could care less about cooking shows, even though he's French. But with an encyclopedic knowledge of history and current events, he was willing to take a stab at the show on Russia.

Our foray into the Menu section was well rewarded, as most of this e…

Little Ms. Road Ragers

One of the most arrogant, entitled, aggressive, bullying drivers is an affluent woman driving an SUV in Westlake Village, California. For twenty-fold years, this observation has held so true to form that it is now safe to stereotype this class of human beings.

Behaving like certain types of short men, these ladies perch high up in leather seats, protected behind the tinted windows of gas guzzling tanks of steel. By asserting their dominance on the highways and byways of this lily white suburban community, perhaps they are compensating for that useless Masters degree they earned as they drive the kids to ballet and soccer and lunch with girlfriends and white wine.

Today, after being denied the normal courtesies of road etiquette when driving beside one of these female Tyrannosaurus Rex's, my patience came to an end. My inner road rage persona roared forth, albeit silently, addressing no one but myself. I fumed, "You fucking assholes, get the fuck out of my way."

And then it …

I Love Anthony Bourdain

It's been said that women of all ages are swooning over Anthony Bourdain. Is it the debonair gray hair, so hard to pull off with panache? The blue jeans with shirt tails hanging out ever so casually? The allure of a man comfortable in his surroundings no matter where he takes himself, courtesy of CNN?

As for me, my own husband has enough pizzazz to keep me from swooning over Anthony Bourdain's physical appeal. It's more Bourdain's honest mind and it's transparent quality that is so engaging. What started off as a show about world cuisine has morphed into a serious commentary about life and death; the local cuisine simply part of the social fabric where the dramas, traumas, and celebrations of life take place. 

Bourdain takes the metaphor of food - we all need to eat to survive - and uses it as a springboard to shine a light on the underbelly of the worlds into which he voyages. He also reminds us that local culinary creations, shared meals, also strengthen bonds of c…

Pride, Tribal Style

Tribalism and its grander form - nationalism - have long been known to be a cause of collective pride and unity as well as a destructive force that considers "outsiders" inferior. In contrast, I am an anarchist by temperament; even at age six in first grade, I refused to say "the pledge of allegience to the flag" because in my little brain it didn't jive with reality. My sense of belonging expressed itself to animals (especially my beagle Floppy), and to the jack-in-the-pulpits that popped up by a stream every spring in the woods surrounding my house.

As a teenager, that allegiance went to the riding stable where the great honor was being allowed to muck out the stalls and flirt with the stable boy, whose confidence in the barn gave him a kingly stature. But despite anarchistic tendencies and the impulse to walk to a different beat than the masses, I was shocked to discover that I am indeed tribal.

The New York Times reported today that a horse named California C…

The Naked Truth About the Dark Side

I have a daily ritual, thanks to the wonders of modern technology and clever 21st century business people. Called streaming, it allows the viewer to instantly watch a movie or some such thing on a big television (providing the right gizmos are installed to allow this miracle).

Every day around 5PM, instead of having the proverbial scotch-on-the-rocks to celebrate the transition from day to night, I lay myself down on the couch and peruse the "instant play" documentary options available within the flatscreen universe. Although my habit started with random selections, my targets became specific in the past month; "picks of the day" have centered around serial killers, genocidal leaders with their wars, and Adolph Hitler plus his main Nazi henchmen.

This choice of movie fare has puzzled my family members and friends, who know me as the queen of avoidance when it comes to watching violence in the field of visual arts. But tonight, as I watched a documentary on the only k…

Truth is Always True

My family of three adult children, one husband (and me) exemplifies freedom of religion. Without divulging who is who, we have a Pantheist, a Kabbalist, a Light Worker, a follower of a charismatic Christian church, and a Buddhist.

Tonight we all talked late into the night, not arguing about one path being better than the other, but trying to find bridges to each others' spiritual experiences. It was peppered with curious questions and sincere explorations, but only one conclusion could be gleaned from this interesting bunch.

No matter what you call it, the fundamental reality remains the same. Truth can only be true if it holds up under all circumstances. Whether it be God with a "he" ascribed to the gender, Great Spirit, Light, Jesus, or Buddha nature (and more), the need to give and receive love transcends it all. Philosophical doctrines fall away in the light of the human heart in all of its complexity and simplicity.

How to Grow a Psychopath

The mere sight of the word "psychopath" activates a churning, unpleasant feeling in my gut. Most of us recoil at the thought of a person without remorse; one who can lie, cheat, steal, even kill without self-reflection or a guilty conscience.

Of course there are the officially sanctioned psychopaths such as rogue prison wardens, policemen and soldiers that kill, maim and torture simply because the system in which they are trapped encourages this behavior (unofficially of course). But since they belong to socially acceptable organizations, very few are held accountable in the criminal justice system.

Then there are the"official" psychopaths - usually loners that belong to no one but their own alienated selves. They are more vulnerable to incarceration simply because no framework exists in which to justify their heinous actions. But how does one become a psychopath? Aren't all babies born inherently good, albeit with personalities (already a dicey proposition)?


The Frog in the Pot

If a frog is placed in a pot of cold water that slowly heats up until the boiling point, it never uses its meaty long legs to hop out of the cauldron before the temperature becomes fatal.The frog will acclimate to the rising heat, never realizing that the water has become a hostile environment until it is too late. (My only hope is that the cruel people who conducted the experiment at least dined on this cute little boiled amphibian, so that his death was not in vain.)

On the otherhand, if a frog is invited to leap into a pot of already boiling water, he will decline, knowing that it would not be an auspicious swim. While we humans consider ourselves to be the crown of creation, in actuality we are no more savvy than the frog sitting in the slowly warming pot.

The forward thinking, intelligent folks on the planet are like the frogs who saw the pot boiling, a.k.a GLOBAL WARMING, and said that this "inconvenient truth" must be addressed before we are vanquished. However, the con…

Bite the Hand That Didn't Feed You

Yesterday, my son's girlfriend's dog Donald bit my sister's hand while she was trying to stop her dog Gracie from biting Donald (whose big dog ear was in the tiny jaws of the petite pup). Mr. Big was not about to take shit from the little lady, but unfortunately my sister's hand was between Donald's retaliatory bite and her little pooch.

Said dog with the big chompers missed a major vein in her hand by a millimeter, but his teeth marks displayed their dental pattern on the top and bottom of her now distressed appendage. With one especially deep tooth penetration, it was an honest to god bona fide dog bite, not a little warning scrap.

At the time, first aid was swiftly administered thanks to my well-stocked medicine cabinet. (I had recently been in a Third World country and had taken a pharmacy with me, luckily with leftovers when I returned). As it was Mother's Day, my sister bravely said something to the effect that this was par for the course, being…

Are Your Feelings My Problem?

The answer to the question Are Your Feelings My Problem? begs deeper analysis than a simple "yes" or "no." For those who vote "yes," the affirmative boils down to two possibilities:

-- You are a bodhisattva, one who incarnates in order to relieve the suffering of others. Whether a Mother Teresa, a animal rescue worker, a neo-natal nurse, or an angel in human disguise with a near infinite resume of job descriptions, the urge to compassion-in-action seems legitimate. Without empathetic humans, many lives would end in hopelessness.


-- You are co-dependent. Like a wolf in sheep's clothing, the co-dependent person claims to be on the look-out for a significant other, while in fact they feed off of his or her problems in order to avoid dealing with their own fears and lack of boundaries. In this case, the co-dependent becomes infected by the other, or as Leonard Cohen penned, "I caught the darkness drinking from your cup."

In the spirit of a de…

Ego Versus Love

Would you rather be "right" and insist on polarizing a situation? Or maintain flexibility and keep a friend (or lover, partner, family member, neighbor, etc.)? Sometimes our perspective becomes so important that we would rather forsake someone close to us rather than surrender our point of view for the sake of the bigger picture - loving kindness.

This does not imply that one must become a doormat, a feeling stuffer, amoral, or a victim. Rather, a rational person with heart-centered consciousness can afford to be magnanimous and allow a stronger version of reality to prevail, one where harmony and peaceful coexistence are paramount.

In the end, isn't love what we all long for anyway?

Born Into the Light

Many people believe that you have to die and go to heaven before you see the Light. This myth has been busted by many a person who has sailed into the Great Beingness and come back to tell the tale.

For all those who suffer in the dark prison of the mind, do not despair. The door to freedom can be pryed open with persistence, focus, and singular aspiration.

Whoever Saves a Life Saves the World

Whoever saves a life saves the world is a saying which derives from the Judaic tradition. A beautiful and meaningful philosophy, when enacted upon, it becomes a powerful gesture of love, compassion, and commitment to the sanctity of life

Although the first thought is that these words refer to humans saving humans, it is applicable to all beings. Case in point: although I screamed hysterically when a giant hairy black tarantula appeared in my living room, sitting on the carpet like an invited guest, it was touching to see my husband tenderly usher him into a bag and set him loose in the wilds of our suburban compound. The next night when he or his clone appeared again on my carpet - same time, same place  - the screams that ushered forth from me were more deep and powerful than I ever thought possible. This time, I got a broom and pinned it down until said husband finally heard the howling.
When I lifted the broom for Michael to shoo it into a bag, the monster was dead; squashed rather …

Mysterious Flowers

During your lifetime, some naysayer has probably wagged his or her finger at you and said, "Be careful what you wish for." This ominous warning, though somewhat of a kill-joy reprimand, does have merit. The things we hope will bring us happiness often turn out to be red herrings on the path to enlightenment (or basic peace of mind). On the other end of the spectrum, a positive or light-hearted wish can come true, bringing with it a sense of destiny fulfilled. And then there are magical moments when the inscrutable universe bestows it's kiss of Grace in the most unexpected manner.

Last night at our weekly family dinner, when the "kids" come over for grub and free laundry services, a discussion centered around surprises of all kinds. I remarked in my usual emphatic manner, "I don't like surprises." Then, remembering that any attitude of aversion usually has a boomerang effect, I decided to soften the negative karma with an antidote. "Well, I wou…

Racial Profiling

If you are a hot blonde female with a hot body under the age of thirty, no worries. You can get away with murder. (Well, maybe not that.) On the other end of the spectrum, if you are a twenty something black male, chances of becoming the target of suspicion and abuse rise exponentially.

While most Americans have a hunch that racial profiling exists, the below video, staged by actors as a kind of "Candid Camera" experiment, proves the point in the most graphic terms.

Please watch...and then watch your own mind as it analyzes people based on color, creed, sex, or religion.

The Day the Earth Ate Cars

Among the many scourges that afflict humans beings, one unconsidered fear is that the earth will simply open up and swallow whatever sits in the path of its voracious appetite.

Take the example of a man who was peacefully snoring away in his modest house in the state of Washington. A hidden sink hole gave way and buried this fellow and his bed more than fifty feet deep in the earth, never to be seen again. The rest of his house was intact. (That karma beats being struck by lightening by a longshot.)

And then the case of the famous rock star, whose Los Angeles mansion's central hallway sank overnight - luckily while he was residing at another mansion in Europe. The aftereffect resembled an image in an amusement park mirror, with the left and right side of the house tilting at an angle towards its long gone epicencer.

The most recent example occurred in Baltimore, where an entire string of parked cars simply fell away in a matter of seconds into the adjacent river. Caught on video and …

Round Midnight: a Late Friday Blog

For the first time since this daily blog was conceived on August 16, 2013, its mother simply forgot to write a missive. Head in the clouds, a dying friend, family members converging for varied reasons, all served to utterly distract me.

Technically, it is no longer Friday as the time of this writing is one hour after midnight (as in early Saturday morning, in case the reader is mathematically challenged). Nonetheless, let's count this as a late-Friday evening encounter.

As the hour is late and the morning early, my thinking brain is as dull as a butter knife. So, l end with a little black humor conceived by a human being who obviously lives in the land of plenty.