Burning the Map

Expectation is premeditated disappointment. —Sogyal Rinpoche Everyone’s life journey eventually arrives at a precipice or fork in the road. At some point we will come to the end of a path and no longer know our way. Hard as this is, this is where the inner journey begins, when all we’ve carried has served its purpose and now we must burn our expectations to light our way. This is when we assume our full stature in order to see what’s... Read more

The Two Tribes

As we approach Inauguration day, I want to offer a deeper, broader context for the divisions we are facing as a nation.   The Two Tribes In the beginning, when the first humans came across each other, it went two ways. Upon seeing someone different, the more fearful one said, “You’re different. Go away.” The other, upon seeing someone not like him, said, “You’re different. Come, teach me what I don’t know.” While our reasoning has grown more complicated throughout... Read more

On the Way to Coney Island

I was eight or nine, rummaging through her basement, through my dead grandfather’s books, when she appeared at the foot of the old see-through stairs, nostalgic and moved that I was searching through his things. There were no windows, and the only light came flooding down the length of stairs over her massive shoulders, giving a sheen to her matted gray hair. When I turned, she seemed an immigrant deity. I ran to her with this relic, so worn that... Read more

Finding Solid Ground

John’s father had built their home when John was a boy. It was perched on the side of a mountain overlooking the sea and John wanted to stay there as long as possible. But over the years, the ocean had worn away the shore and compromised the integrity of the foundation. No amount of repair could hide the fact that John would have to live elsewhere. He faced a heartbreaking but essential turning point in his life. He had to... Read more

Look Around

If you try to comprehend air before breathing it, you will die.   If you try to understand love before being held, you will never feel compassion.   If you insist on bringing God to others before opening your very small window of life, you will never have honest friends.   If you try to teach before you learn or leave before you stay, you will lose your ability to try.   No matter what anyone promises— to never feel... Read more

The Great Wave

Sometimes we seek refuge from our pain in the habits of life, as if sheer routine can put our wounds to sleep. But the habits of life can make us all a little squirrelly, and soon enough, we don’t want our little nest messed with. We don’t want anything unexpected or different to disrupt the little box we live in. We don’t want anything to unearth the pains we’ve buried. And just about the time we’re most inflexible, some great... Read more

Walking North

No matter how I turn the magnificent light follows. Background to my sadness.   No matter how I lift my heart my shadow creeps in wait behind. Background to my joy.   No matter how fast I run a stillness without thought is where I end.   No matter how long I sit there’s a river of motion I must rejoin.   And when I can’t hold my head up it always falls in the lap of one who has... Read more

At Stadium and Drake

I was waiting to make a left, to get out of traffic. She was across from me, in a red hatchback, waiting to enter. The cars whizzed by like hornets. Our eyes met briefly and the whole journey was suddenly evident: always going somewhere, always unsure how to get there, waiting for the chance to join, to lead, to follow, relieved to make our way, till we miss our exit and wonder, “Where to now?” The speed of the traffic... Read more

Accepting This

Yes, it is true. I confess, I have thought great thoughts, and sung great songs—all of it rehearsal for the majesty of being held.   The dream is awakened when thinking I love you and life begins when saying I love you and joy moves like blood when embracing others with love.   My efforts now turn from trying to outrun suffering to accepting love wherever I can find it.   Stripped of causes and plans and things to strive... Read more

If You Want a True Friend

Just open your hands and say, “I don’t know.” Say it softly and wait, so your other can see that you mean it. Give them a chance to drop what they think is secret. Let them come up with a cup of what matters from the spring they show no one. Let them sigh and admit that they don’t know either. Then you can begin with nothing in the way. Go on. Admit to the throb you carry in your... Read more