July 15th, 2008


(no subject)

The fog is in this morning, the air damp with kisses.  I was offered only one quick glimpse of the moon last night and then it was wrapped as though in precious cloth.   I saw one star.  It was more than enough.

I played with Zach yesterday.  We played Pooh and Piglet.   I was Pooh and he was Piglet and he picked up all the toys.   I saw how Zach takes everything in, like children do.  We need to be conscious of every action and word.   What we give is received, and this is most likely true with everyone, and yet, we don't always acknowledge.  Today I set intention to do so.

I spoke with a friend yesterday who just returned from almost a month in Africa.  When she said she was voting for Barack Obama, they said but he is not of your tribe.  They are very tribal there, marry within their tribe.  As we know, women are not well-treated.  We sat on a hill overlooking the bay and realized again how blessed we are to live where we are well-treated, all of us, and recognized the strides that have been made.  I think it is time to focus there.

I read that the comedians are struggling with Barack Obama.  He is not a buffoon, and the audience does not want him made fun of.  They don't want to laugh at him.  I see we are ready for a leader, ready for another jump.   Men and women are equal and valued in this country.  Each child matters.   Tribes are dissolving as our children intermarry in all sorts of ways.  All of this is taking us to a new place, and we are making progress.   Today, I honor the steps that have been made through the work of so many , through each of us, since each breath fuels what speaks in the world.  Today, peace, understanding, compassion.   May that be the fuel of my breath - peace, understanding, compassion.

This morning I stayed in bed and felt myself as a violin, made by Stradivari, as long as I'm dreaming, and I was being played,  life as easy as that.  

Here is the wisdom of Hafiz to guide the day.   May today be one where we work with Love.


Time is the shop
Where everyone works hard
To build enough love
To break the
Wise men keep talking about
Wanting to meet Her.
Women sometimes pronounce the word God
A little differently:
They can use more feeling and skill
With the heart-lute.
All the world's movements,
Apparent chaos, and suffering I now know happen
In the Splendid Unison:
Our tambourines are striking
The same thigh.
Hafiz stands
At a juncture in this poem.
There are a thousand new wheels I could craft
On a wagon
And place you in -
Lead you to a glimpse of the culture
And seasons in another dimension.
Yet again God
Will have to drop you back at the shop
Where you still have work
~ Hafiz ~
(The Gift -- versions of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky)
Book Cover

Vision -

Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of his Works Progress Administration, the WPA sent writers and photographers out to record the USA.  They created the American Guide Series, a series of travel guides about America.  Saul Bellow, Zora Neale Hurston, Eudora Welty and others participated in this program. 

William Yardley writes in the NY Times today that:

Retracing some of the routes of the American Guide Series, with the old books as companions, reveals how much the nation has been reshaped, from the decline of bustling manufacturing towns in New England to the rise of California into a global center.

These days the Depression-era guides are experiencing a resurgence of interest. At the Library of Congress, thousands of photos, manuscripts and audio recordings dealing with the Federal Writers’ Project and the New Deal have just come online. Here preservationists have revisited many of the places in the Washington State guide — a 687-page volume, first published in 1941 — and created an interactive modern-day travel companion.

There are a multitude of ways to enjoy the days.

Live like a child today where it is as fun to put the toys back in the box as it is to take them out.  In and out.   The air doesn't judge where it is in the journey as it hangs out in space and then is somehow chosen to draw into you, look around, and come out.

gentle waterfall

My intention for today -

So the question would be:

    Is there a state possible

    in which we can be without watching and without judging ...

             simply awake?

                   - Charlotte Selver

snow and ashes

the cost of this war -

Editorial Observer

Losing Private Dwyer

Published: July 15, 2008

The photo to the right captures everything that Americans wanted to believe about the Iraq war in the earliest days of the invasion in 2003. Pfc. Joseph Dwyer, an Army medic whose unit was fighting its way up the Euphrates to Baghdad, cradles a wounded boy. The child is half-naked and helpless, but trusting. Private Dwyer’s face is strained but calm.

Warren Zinn/Army Times, via Associated Press

If there are better images of the strength and selflessness of the American soldier, I can’t think of any. It is easy to understand why newspapers and magazines around the country ran the photo big, making Private Dwyer an instant hero, back when the war was a triumphal tale of Iraqi liberation.

That story turned bitter years ago, of course. And the mountain of sorrows keeps growing: Mr. Dwyer died last month in North Carolina. He was 31 and very sick. For years he had been in and out of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction. He was seized by fearful delusions and fits of violence and rage. His wife left him to save herself and their young daughter. When the police were called to Mr. Dwyer’s apartment on June 28, he was alone. They broke down the door and found him dying among pill bottles and cans of cleaning solvent that friends said he sniffed to deaden his pain.

He had been heading for a disastrous end ever since he came home.

Two of his best friends were Angela Minor and Dionne Knapp, fellow medics at Fort Bliss, near El Paso, Tex. For a while, they were part of a small, inseparable group that worked together, ate out, went to movies and called one another by their first names, which is not the military habit.

Joseph was a rock, Ms. Minor said, a guy who would change your oil and check your tires unasked and pick you up by your broken-down car at 3 a.m. Ms. Knapp said he was like an uncle to her son, Justin, who was having trouble in kindergarten and brightened whenever Mr. Dwyer went there to check on him.

Ms. Knapp was called up to Iraq, but Mr. Dwyer insisted on taking her place, because she was a single mom. He had no children at the time, and besides, he had enlisted right after 9/11 just for this. He went and stunned everybody by getting his picture all over the newspapers and TV.

A few months later, he was home. He was shy about his celebrity. He was also skinny and haunted. Ms. Minor said he was afraid. Ms. Knapp said paranoid was more like it.

It didn’t help that El Paso looked a lot like Iraq. Once he totaled his car. He said had seen a box in the road and thought it was a bomb. He couldn’t go to the movies anymore: too many people. In restaurants, he sat with his back to the wall.

He said that Iraqis were coming to get him. He would call Angela and Dionne at all hours, to talk vaguely about the “demons” that followed him all day and in his dreams. He became a Baptist, doggedly searching Scripture on his lunch hour — for solace. His friends knew he was also getting high with spray cans bought at computer stores.

“He would call me in the middle of the day,” Ms. Minor said. “I’d be like: ‘Why are you at Best Buy? Why aren’t you at work?’ I could tell he’d been drinking and huffing again.”

His friends tried an intervention, showing up at his door in October 2005 and demanding his guns and cans of solvent. He refused to give them up.

Hours later, gripped by delusions, he shot up his apartment. He was glad when the SWAT team arrived, Ms. Knapp said, because then he could tell them where the Iraqis were. He was arrested and discharged, and later moved to Pinehurst, N.C. His parents tried to get him help, but nothing worked. “He just couldn’t get over the war,” his mother, Maureen, told a reporter. “Joseph never came home.”

It’s not clear what therapy and medication could have saved Mr. Dwyer. He admitted lying on a post-deployment questionnaire about what he had seen and suffered because he just wanted to get back to his family. Ms. Minor said he sometimes skipped therapy appointments in El Paso. One thing that did seem to help, Ms. Knapp and Ms. Minor said, was peer counseling from a fellow veteran, a man who had been ambushed in Iraq and knew about fear and death. But that was too little, too late, and both women say they are frustrated with the military for letting Mr. Dwyer slip away.

Private Dwyer, who survived rocket-propelled grenades and shocking violence, made his way back to his family and friends. But part of him was also stuck forever on a road in Iraq, helpless and terrified, with nobody to carry him to safety.

Book Cover

what is going on?

I have a friend who has lived in her home near me for 35 years.   When she moved in 35 years ago, the house was new and she and her neighbor of the time planted a row of trees which, grew, of course, into huge, fruit trees.

A few years ago, someone bought the house next to her, and somehow got through planning with no notification a massive project with a six car garage.  He also did a survey that showed he actually owned part of her land and when she had her own survey done, it seemed that was true.   The person who built her house did not set it properly on the lot.   Still, she has rights because it has been 35 years.   Lawyers are now involved, but while she was gone, the neighbor cut down the trees that separated the two houses and started building up to her house.  He ignored the restraining order that said nothing could be done until the issue was looked into and resolved.  

I saw the results yesterday and it is devastating.   Her lawyer came to look at all this, and then went to dinner at a nearby restaurant to have dinner with his family, and while eating his car was broken into, and of all the files in the car, only my friend's file was stolen.  It seems suspicious.

She has decided she has to move and will rent her house for now, and is looking for a new home.  The negative energy is palatable and ugly.  She is frightened and cannot sleep.  The man who now owns the house next to her has done more to threaten her than I will mention.  

Every weekday I receive a book marketing tip by email from John Kremer.  I peruse it quickly to garner what may pertain to or be useful to me.  

Today he sends this:

I am having to cancel the Ten Million Eyeballs Event in Boulder, Colorado,
as well as the one in Atlanta, Georgia, due to a problem with our landlord
and the next door tenant for the townhouse that my wife and I reside in
right now. Because both the landlord and the tenant are highly irrational
people, I really have to stay here during this time to protect my wife
from harm.

What country are we living in?   The police did come when the man cut down my friend's trees, because her neighbors reported it, but the police, the sheriff actually, as we live in the county,  said it was a civil matter and there was nothing they could do, even though the man had been told he could not do anything until this was resolved.  Now, the trees are gone.

The man who has done this is known for buying small houses, taking them down, putting up monstrosities and selling them, but where was the Marin planning commission during all of this?  It is suspicious that no neighbors were notified before the plans were approved.  My neighbors and I have managed, so far, to keep this kind of thing from happening by using the words "light pollution."  By the time, developers learn they can't have skylights and must plant native, and we go through all the rules they must follow,  they have, so far, fallen away, but, this is done.   The hill is dug out, and metal scaffolding is installed.  Every bit of the lot will have layers of house.  I thought there were standards as to land ratio to house in our area, but they are not being enforced in this case.  Our children played on those open hills.  The deer romp and breed, and yet, the worst part is the loss of neighborliness.  How sad is that?

Remember Welcome Wagons.  Where did they go?

alan - purple flowers

How to live -

Karen forwarded this to me this morning.  It is from the Seishindo Newsletter

 About thirty seven years ago I was both unlucky and lucky enough, to be incarcerated for five months in a Greek prison during a military dictatorship. Myself and many other foreigners were swept up by the military government in an attempt to rid the country of "undesirables".

I say "unlucky" because even though I was never charged with a crime, I was forced to live in harsh and dangerous prison conditions. I say "lucky" because I met some of the finest people in the world while in jail, and learned much that has sustained me in the rest of my life.

I've decided to finally share some of my Greek stories with you, in the hope that you might benefit from what I learned "the hard way."

I would love some feedback to get a sense of how these stories reach you and touch you. Please drop me a line at
charlie@seishindo.org <mailto:charlie@seishindo.org> .


Today's story is offered as a gift to S. Roger and C. Scott.

       On becoming a man   

 My first day in jail I met an unshaven Greek man in his sixties. I had been placed in a holding cell, and spent 48 hours with this gentleman by the name of Stephan, and one other man. As it turned out, Stephan wound up in the same prison as me, and he was to become my benefactor and friend.

After sizing me up for an hour or so and saying nothing, Stephan sidled up alongside of me and offered the following gems of wisdom.

"You'll need to learn quickly in here" he said, "You have no choice."

"Life is not fair. If anyone led you to believe it's supposed to be, then they've badly misled you. Getting angry about what's unfair will not serve you. When you hear an angry voice in your head, know it as an enemy. Anger will only tend to make you act without wisdom."

"If you're not angry then you'll tend to have a good relationship with time. In jail, time is an ally. Time is all you have and you have to spend it wisely. When you're not angry and you're getting along well with time, you'll tend to get along well with people. Good relationships and strong bonds of friendship are crucial."

"If you're in a good relationship with time and people, you'll tend to be more patient. Patience is another important ally. The more you try and hurry the more likely you are to stumble. If you're patient you'll have more peace of mind, and you might even occasionally feel happy. The more you watch others who are impatient and try to rush things, the more you'll understand that impatience is a cousin of fear."

"It's important to cultivate a heart that's free from fear. When you're fearful you won't have the courage it takes to defend yourself and do what's right. Fear is not something you will easily overcome but you need to do your best no matter what, because you'll need to learn to endure pain and suffering rather than trying to run away from it. There is no place to run."

"When you're fearful you lose the ability to speak the truth at the times when truth is most important. In here you're going to need to learn how to live amongst thieves, murderers, and con artists. These people will talk all sorts of nonsense to try and get what they want from you. Because of this it's important you speak in a clear and simple manner, so people can feel the truth of your words. You need to defend the truth as if it was your child."

"It's not the bars on the windows and doors that keep you in jail, but rather the thoughts you hold in your head and in your heart. If you want to be free, you need to be thankful for the time you have to spend here. I really mean that! You need to have a sense of gratitude no matter what happens, and express your thanks by being kind to other people. You see, it's the expression of gratitude and kindness that will strengthen you to endure physical and emotional hardships. Gratitude and kindness reconnect you to the spirit that animates all of life. In the process you learn that even as there might be more pain and suffering in the future, there will also be more of you."

"And finally, it's important to know it's a strength to weep for others, while all the time never feeling sorry for yourself."

Stephan paused and stared into my eyes.
"Take some time with all that I say here. Sit by yourself if you need to. Breathe deeply and take in the signs of life and spirit, that are all around you. Find a way to ask for the things that cannot be spoken of in words."



If we can embody even a portion of these words, what a change in our life.