Friday, August 29, 2008


There’s the growl of a chainsaw off in the distance this morning. Could be a menacing sound, or the sound of something important getting done, depending on the context, depending on perspective, depending on the way it’s framed. Could be an insensitive idiot recklessly devouring this beautiful land, but it could be someone cutting firewood to keep his family warm for the impending winter. Could be someone cutting down an old-growth redwood, but it could be a man with a plan clearing dead wood to enable new growth. Could be a developer clear-cutting land to build another strip-mall, but it could be somebody tearing down an old shack on the back 40 that had become a rat-trap and a fire hazard. Could be PG&E, or Comcast, cutting down trees for installation of another power cable, or the State building yet another road. But it could be someone clearing an overgrown deer trail to help insure safe passage for the wildlife through an increasingly populated part of this rural environment. Could be someone carving a totem pole out of a big old log in the back yard. Could be someone recording the sound of a chainsaw for a film, or for some other creative project.

I know people who view chainsaws only as weapons of destruction.
They are incapable of seeing them as tools.

The same way they tend to regard our military.
I do not share their myopic views.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Talking Contradiction

You might ask, how can I, on the one hand, embrace a sentiment like The Prayer of St. Frances, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred let me sow love. . . . . “ and on the other hand, write a scathing rant about the corporate aristocracy, spiritual pied pipers, or people willing to be rounded up and branded by the political elite? “That’s not very loving”, you might say. Isn’t it a bit hypocritical? Well, that would be a good question.
To modify a Kris Kristofferson song lyric just a bit,
I’m a talking contradiction, partly smooth, partly friction.
Y’know, anyone willing to open their mouth more than once and profess an idea, or an opinion, is probably going to contradict himself with the second thing that he has to say.

Too many people, knowing that, choose silence over humiliation or embarrassment. Personally, I don’t find anything wrong with contradiction. I find something wrong with practiced, and groomed, conformity of thought. . . . . Scientology, Cabala, if you will. In case you haven’t noticed, human beings ARE a contradiction. As embryo’s (developing people), we float, and swim around in our mothers womb, like guppies in a fish bowl, and then are born and can’t wait to get up and walk. HUH? Is that not a contradiction on the most primitive level? As children we are encouraged with “free to be you and me” kinds of cultural ideas, but trained in the path of conformity. Is that not a contradiction? And does either one really invalidate the other? Is it not a contradiction for a teen-ager to both love and hate his parents? But who’s to say that each of these feelings are not equally legitimate? Is it not a contradiction for adults to want to both protect, and encourage independence in their children? Can I not enjoy the warmth of the daytime and the mystery of the night? Do faith and doubt not co-exist for most of us at times? Or are we just too proud, or scared to admit it?

It is not a contradiction for me to rail against the narcissistic, and self-serving, Madonna’s, the Pelosi's, the Bill and Hillary’s, the Jackson’s (Jessie and Michael), or the Al Gore’s of the world, and then to also pray “Lord, where there is hatred, let me sow love”. It is, in fact, evidence of clear, and rational, thinking. These people (and many like them. You know their names.) pose and position themselves as our cultural, religious, environmental and political leaders. They use us for their own aggrandizement, pretending all the while to care about ‘our struggle’, but actually, they care about power, they care about money, they care about fame and adulation. Oh yes, and they care about writing their own versions of their place in history.

Love requires honesty, of purpose, and of practice. To remind you to not give your support to, or put your faith in, phonies such as these IS an act of love, in, and of, itself. In a world of contradictions, that certainly is not one.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

You've Changed

You’ve changed! Anybody ever say that to you? I haven’t heard it recently, although I know people think that about me. But I have heard it periodically over the course of my lifetime, always delivered with a negative connotation. Like change is a bad thing? Seems like it usually comes from someone who has not changed a thing in years. Hasn’t changed a point of view, hasn’t changed a perspective, hasn’t changed an ideology, a rationale, a conclusion, a family dynamic, their taste in music, or even the route they drive to work every day. It usually comes from someone who is either stuck in the 60’s and has never changed their drugs, or stuck in a pew and has never changed their dogma.

But it seems to me that change is an essential ingredient in living. Jeez, even rocks change, becoming shaped by water, wind, and the hands of time. If rocks, in all of their stoic resistance, succumb to the inevitable without kicking and screaming, surely the rest of us could embrace change with a little more dignity and grace. As I have always said “if it don’t change, it ain’t alive.” Actually, I’ve never said that, but from now on I always will!

The minutes of the day change, the weeks, months and years do the same. The seasons change. We change our clothes, our cars, our jobs, our habits and routines. We change our circle of friends, our hobbies, our magazine subscriptions, our television interests and our address. Eventually we get gray, wrinkled, blind and stooped. We see things differently. Along the way we change everything, and everything changes. And then someone say’s “you’ve changed”. DUH!

Seriously, when people say that, they’re usually referring to their OWN inability to relate to the changes that have taken place within you, or within the dynamic of your relationship with them. They’re not really saying ‘you’ve changed’, as much as they are saying ‘WE’VE changed’. Or ‘you’ve changed, and I haven’t’. I understand that such an awakening can be painful for someone whose expectation has been that ‘things will always be the same between us’. But things can never always be the same between people. It’s like saying things will always be the same between day and night. But between day and night is dusk, and dusk comes at a different time every day. It comes with a different sky, a different color, and a different temperature. So it is with people.

Mature people will allow their friends and family members to change and grow in their own way, in their own time, and with the clumsiness that usually accompanies new movement. Immature people will do their best to try and inhibit an individual’s growth to suit their own life of guarded, and habitual, conformity.

Next time someone says “you’ve changed” I’m going to try and remember to thank them for noticing.

Friday, August 22, 2008

We Might Be A Mirage

I have been paying attention, of late, to how everything seems to happen at once. By ‘at once’ I don’t mean ‘one thing after another’. I actually mean ‘at once’, at the same time. We are accustomed to thinking of ‘time’ as linear, that is that it plays itself out moment to moment. We are born, we live a series of moments, and then we die, and are gone. Like walking on a centerline down the road and then disappearing off in the distance. Vanishing like a mirage in the desert. I am beginning to understand, and appreciate, that it might not be like that at all. That in fact we might actually be that mirage.

Throughout the course of my life I have had an inordinate number of friends die suddenly, at early ages, and from a myriad of unexpected circumstances. Most of my friends. However, it always feels like they are not really gone, but living in the invisible world, around me, beside me, with me and without me. As if they are here, and as if they were never here. All of that at once. I suppose some psychologists would call it a continuing, and prolonged, sense of grief. Others might consider it a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But I think that there is no differentiation, or separation, between when my friends were here and when they died, or between when they died and how they continue to be here. I think it is all the same. I think life really does happen all at once. All in the blink of an eye.

I am reminded of the people who have had near death experiences, who have faced their own demise in an unexpected moment. Whether the instant before a head-on collision, or when a heart suddenly stops beating. These people will invariably say that their lives flashed before their eyes in a very brief moment, like a quick glance in the mirror, revealing their entire life as if it were in a single breath. That’s it. If it only takes a nano-second to review ones life, perhaps life is actually lived in a similar nano-second. Otherwise, even on ‘fast-forward’, wouldn’t you think it would take a bit longer?
Maybe that’s how life actually is. That it all happens at once. That there really is no such thing as time after all. That the review is actually the life, and that life doesn’t really happen, it just is. It’s difficult to think in these terms, kind of strains the brain, but if we think of time, as we know it, in relation to eternity, then the span of a lifetime is so insignificant as to not even allow itself to be measured. And if eternity happens all at once, which I think it does, can that same lifetime even be considered in terms of measurement at all? There is no time. There is only now.

Everything happens at once.
And we might be a mirage.
Don’t ask me how I know it,
but I’m pretty sure I do.

And I’ll probably lose a lot of readers.

Something else to try and wrap our heads around:

Scientists are now saying that there are more stars in our galaxy
than there are grains of sand on the earth.
And that there are more galaxies in the universe
than there are stars in our galaxy.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dance To The Beat

Life has rhythm, an ever-changing rhythm, but it has a beat of its own. Like in music, where the rhythm can be different for each particular song, the rhythm of life is different for each of us as well. I don’t really think that life changes to meet the movement of the individual, but that the individual, as a unique instrument in the band of life, finds their own rhythm, their own contribution, to add to the beat.

Ever notice how sometimes life moves along smoothly with no hitches, glitches, casualties or concerns? And then at other times every road seems rough, every view obstructed, every week seems like a struggle, every day an exercise in fatigue and futility? Like you’re not playing in time with the band?

Hey, I think that in those times, we’re actually not playing in tune with the drummer. There’s a timeless beat, a universal heartbeat if you will, that sets the time and the tempo for our lives. We move in and out of the groove like amateur musicians at a County Fair talent show, just happy to be on stage, sometimes oblivious to how bad we may actually sound. We might know that something doesn’t feel right, but are, essentially, unaware that we’re not playing on the beat. The results always have a cruel way of letting us know we’ve been a bit off.

And then there are those times when it all comes together for us, when we’re cruising, like in an old Pontiac convertible along Route 66 through the splendor of the Southwest, the wide open spaces and out-of-the -way places to destinations yet unknown. When we’re groovin’ with the radio, tappin’ our toes in time with the band, with one hand on the wheel and one eye on the road. No place I’d rather be.

Got to listen to the drummer, folks.
Got to dance to the beat.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

We Get Stuck

It’s always good to get away, whether one is getting away from the routine, the grind, or even the comfort. Doesn’t really matter. Change is good, or at least it can be if you let it. I had a week away from everything, and then another week of slow integration back into the life I temporarily left. Seems like whenever I do get out of here for awhile it becomes increasingly difficult to pick back up where I left off. I think that’s OK. It indicates to me, and actually reminds me, that life truly is transitory. That leaving things, leaving places, and even leaving people is a necessary part of life. Being stuck, whether being stuck in a rut, or stuck on the fast track, usually proves to be an uninspiring alternative. We get stuck in a lot of ways, and the thing about it is that when we are we usually don’t even know it. It often takes someone else to point it out, or some change of environment that would more easily enable a deeper self-reflection. We get stuck emotionally, socially, creatively, intellectually, spiritually, politically, and so on. Some people don’t mind that. It’s a comfortable place for them. They do better there. That’s OK also. Those who prefer a greater internal challenge, however, tend to whither on that vine and die. Or dry up and blow away across an increasingly barren desert, as would some forlorn tumbleweed, like dust in the proverbial wind.

I spent some time in the high desert with family, long conversations around the campfire, under a welcoming sky, stars blanketing the universe like the comforter thrown across my own bed. Milky Way dazzling the imagination, moon finding its predetermined path, and following it across a vast horizon, singing its own kind of traveling song. My cowboy brother-in-law telling stories to make us laugh, sometimes to the point of tears. Playing in the river with the kids, building dams for pools to swim, catching fish in a bucket, dogs splashing through the water like sea lions with legs, adding to the wonderful, but tranquil, pandemonium of life unrestrained.
A nice hike in the back-country, and a trail ride on horseback in our spare time. Cookouts in the evening, morning coffee by the fire.
Doesn’t get much better than that. Not in this lifetime.
Maybe not in the next.


While I was away I gave very little thought to my novel, my blogs, or even my songs. However, I did write a few poems, which I’ve posted for you on the 'Musings' page here on ‘The Old Coyote’ website. Check em out.

I’m back to writing again, having found some renewal. I’ll try to keep the thoughts fluid, flowing freely, like the river from which they emerge.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Well, I'm going on vacation. It's a lot of pressure trying to provide you all with something to read with your morning cereal. So, I'll be gone for a week, maybe two, am not sure yet. In any event, check back after about a week. I'm sure by then I'll, again, have someting quite irrelevant to write about.
But if you just cannot eat your cereal without my voice in the morning, then I encourage you to go back and re-read all 58 of my blogs, in ascending order.

And count the obvious contradictions in my thinking.