The Conversation that Arises Out of Everything: What We Feed in Ourselves Lives in Ourselves

When a conversation begins in our mind, what do we do? When we respond to such a conversation by just listening, wondering, then letting it go, we learn from it and it usually passes. When we talk back, or hold onto it, the conversation continues. Even if we step back from it for a while, it carries on someplace in us. What we feed, lives.


A feral cat has lived in our neighborhood for at least 6 months. For months, he kept coming to our house. He would show up at different doors of our home and call to us. He would hang out with one of our cats sometimes, or at least not get in a fight. But if we’d try to get close to him, or even open the door when he was there, and he’d run quickly away. He’d never let us close.


Then one day, my wife gave it food, despite knowing the likely consequences. It was just too painful to hear him cry or see his need. Then a few days later, she did it again. The cat appeared more often, but still ran when we opened a door and roamed without us seeing him for hours or days. Then my wife did it again. And then every day. Then twice a day. Then he let her touch him. Then he let me pet him. And now? Now he acts like he’s ours. He follows us around or hangs out by the front door on our deck, looks in the kitchen window with pleading eyes, and dreams of us taking him in.


It’s the same with the content of our mind. What we feed becomes us, or “ours.”


The painful follow up with the cat is that we took him to the ASPCA, who vaccinated and neutered him, but wouldn’t take him in for adoption; they were too full. We next took him to our vet, for tests and further treatment. It turns out he has feline AIDS. Now, we must figure out what to do next. We have two other cats, who are indoor-outdoor. Even though feline AIDS is not easily transmissible, and humans are safe from it, there’s still a chance he might infect our other pets. In fact, our vet said that if we took in the stray, infection would be inevitable. Plus, he would need to live only indoors so he doesn’t spread the disease or get injured himself.


He must’ve had a home, once. Did they kick him out of their home and cut him from their heart? Or did they just run out of money to care for him? I wonder if they even knew he was sick and were afraid of, or didn’t want to face, a cat with AIDS?


What we try to ignore or cut from our hearts stays with us. The cat might be physically gone for this person. But the memory? The pain? The guilt? Cutting out is just another and more harmful form of feeding. It’s feeding what psychologist Carl Jung called our shadow, the part of our self that we deny, won’t or can’t acknowledge and try to project onto others but carry with us as a weight. To let go proficiently, we must do it with awareness, care, compassion, even love. What we feed in us becomes us.


I have to say that hearing that the cat had AIDS hurt so much….



*To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.

A Convicted Felon, Finally: When the Language of Democracy is Used to Destroy Democracy, Or the Language of Legal Matters is Used to Destroy the Rule of Law

It’s been almost 2 weeks, and I’m still amazed to know DT was convicted, and so quickly and definitively by the jury. I heard the news just as I was worrying about the possible effects of a not guilty verdict. What a relief!


Yet, it was disturbing to hear GOP politicians continue to or even increase their desperate attempts to defend him from his conviction. Who knows what chaos and instability they might yet create? They echo DT’s baseless claim of a justice system “rigged” against him and the GOP, despite the blatant example of Hunter Biden’s guilty verdict being announced less than 2 weeks after DT was convicted. They do this despite the fact DT was given such special treatment, and treated so gingerly, and fairly, with breaks and delays that no one else would ever be given.


During the trial and afterwards, the GOP who tried to protect him did not spend much time presenting evidence of his innocence or pressuring him to testify in his own defense. Instead, they focused on attacking, seeking vengeance against anyone who tried to hold him responsible. Many GOP either lied about or attacked the justice system itself, the judge, his family, witnesses for the prosecution; and now they’re going after the jurors. One pro-DT forum accused Judge Merchan of treason and suggested that he should be hanged.


DT’s followers just revealed a blind obedience to their leader and a craving for power, calling for politically motivated investigations of Democrats. They cover their own weaponization of government (for example, using the power to investigate supposed wrongdoing by House committees) by accusing others of weaponization. For over a year they searched to find, or to create, something illegal to accuse President Biden of doing; and they found nothing. They recently went after Attorney General Merrick Garland, and for two years, they pursued Dr. Fauci, and they looked foolish in the face of witness testimony.


These GOP do this not only for retribution, but to undermine the rule of law itself. They want to hide the facts of this obviously fair jury trial behind clouds of distortions or lies. Maybe they hope to make this fair trial seem as suspect as their own investigations.


I should be inured by such acts by now, after 8 years of hearing DT and his followers spout ridiculous and malicious claims. On the street, they can get away with lying or saying almost anything that pops into their heads. In the courtroom, to say anything they must first meet a burden of proof.


Each of us who cares about having the vote⎼ or having the freedom and right to speak our minds⎼ the right to control our own healthcare, our own bodies⎼ the right to clean air and water and a livable planet⎼ the right to have free public education, not enforced religious indoctrination⎼ the right to have a jury of our peers and to be presumed innocent unless proven otherwise, instead of being presumed guilty unless we support a DT dictatorship⎼ each of us needs to do all we can to speak up and get out the vote in November if we want to stop the DT/GOP from taking all of this and more from us.


No matter how compassionate we are or try to be, it can be difficult to even look at him….


*To read the whole article, please use this link to The Good Men Project.

Aging Isn’t an Illness to Recover From: Lowering Our Resistance to Living with Kindness

As I get older, I realize the images and expectations I once held of “old” people were distorted. We are not those images. I can do so much more now at 65, 75 and older than I once expected I could do. And I sort of laugh gleefully. Aging is a more complex, engaging experience than I ever realized before.


The same applies to facing death. Our culture has a prohibition against speaking openly about the subject, which can be so damaging and isolating to us all.


I once imagined being older was a time of increasing feebleness or diminished capacities. That people spent more time looking backwards than forwards. And that except for maybe having more “free time,” there was nothing positive about it. A popular meme was “don’t trust anyone over thirty” ⎼ until my whole generation was way over thirty. I’ve found there’s plenty of looking back, but there’s even more of an appreciation of each moment now.


It’s true, however, that when I was younger, I might see a doctor once a year, at most. Lately, it’s almost every week. A frequent question that arises when I feel pain or physically “off” in some way, is whether the symptom is due to “normal aging,” or something else. In the past, when I was injured or developed some medical condition, I approached it as a problem to solve. Bodies could usually recover, injuries usually heal. But now, ankle or hand pain, for example, doesn’t heal as quickly as it once did, or at all.


Aging isn’t an illness to recover from. But our attitude or understanding of it is another story. We hopefully re-learn daily who we are. We re-learn what change means, what living means, that living is change. To even breathe we change, every second, taking in, letting go.


And as we get older, so many of those we know leave the world before us. I remember my father, who lived to be exactly 96.5, saying, “I’m the last of my friends, and the last of my relatives from my generation.” There’s an awful pain and loneliness in this. In each friend or loved one’s death we can feel friendship dying in us. We can feel loving is dying; loving is being vulnerable. To love is to make ourselves vulnerable to loss, yet we do it anyway. Dying is there in the loving itself; the two are almost indistinguishable.


So, every once and awhile now, I look up and see the reality of death getting closer. I can’t claim I’ve accepted it. Surprisingly, it doesn’t depress me, despite the moments when I experience intense fear. Or when I realize everything beyond what I can see in front of me right now, beyond what anyone can see, is an unknown we haven’t yet learned how to embrace or face. Maybe death is there as a sign, or a reminder, a message from reality.


And this reality touches and hopefully improves my relationship with everyone, with good friends and relatives, and especially my wife. My wife and I have been together for so many years, and the commitment to each other is as real, as clear as anything could be. As wonderful. As present. There is less judgment. Less impulse to distance. Just feeling.


Yet, different ways to trick myself into ignoring the reality of death still occasionally leap into mind….



*To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.

Healing Divisions, Both in Ourselves and With Others: The Brittle Weakness Exposed by Not Compromising

There’s the old, oft-repeated story, that if frogs are placed in a pot of water that is gradually heated, they will not realize the danger of eventually being boiled alive until it’s too late. However, says psychologist and science journalist Adam Grant, frogs will leap out as soon as they sense the heat. But we human beings are feeling the increasingly hotter world temperatures caused by climate change but are not leaping out and are not doing all we can to turn the heat off.


Maybe frogs are more intelligent than humans. Or maybe we are just too good at imagining reality as being other than it is?  At creating “alternate facts” and diversions? Or are too many of us just afraid of change? Or too traumatized?


How do we loosen the boundaries in ourselves? How do we let go of rigid ideas of who we are or must be or of what is real? And how do we help others do the same?


One of the biggest obstacles to changing anyone else’s mind, or our own, is realizing not only it can be done but it’s happening all the time. For example, before 2012, the country was opposed to gay marriage. In 2013, the majority supported it. In 2015, the Supreme Court struck down all state bans on same sex marriage.


Another science journalist, David McRaney, in his book How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Belief, Opinion, and Persuasion, argues we evolved to work to consensus, to helpful adaptation. But it can happen in punctuated spurts, times of great argument and division and no clear change, then a sudden burst of change. Hopefully, we’re near such an evolutionary adaptation now.


And lately, I’ve found in myself this same resistance to facing people with rigidly held opposing ideas. It seems impossible to reach or even talk with those who disagree with me about climate change, or the “Big Lie,” for example. With the global earth and ocean temperatures rapidly reaching such high levels, the increasing number of dangerous weather events, wildfires, droughts, and floods all make climate change seem so obvious. And I saw the 1/6 attempted coup and the big lie enacted live on national tv. It just feels like what seems so clear to me should not be so hard for others to see.


But part of that difficulty comes from the fact that for all of us, our beliefs and even rationally constructed understandings of the world are the ground our lives stand on⎼ or appear to stand on. To question those views can feel like we’re washing away the ground under our feet; it can feel like abandoning our sense of ourselves.


In Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know,  Grant points out we often prefer the “comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt.” We resist rethinking, or talking with those with different views, not only because of the time and energy required, but because it would mean questioning ourselves. Such questioning might add more unpredictability to an already unpredictable, often threatening world. We need to recognize that what we believe is not who we are. We’re a universe infinitely larger than our worst opinions. It takes courage, not only to face those with diametrically opposing beliefs, but to unlearn what we believe, or think is true.


Especially now, it’s become difficult to change our minds. It can even be dangerous. Politically, acts mislabeled as flip-flopping are considered by many cowardice, or a sin….


*To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.