Friday, May 12, 2017

Roses n' Shit Haiku


I believe in this: 
the power in our stories ~ 
how shit grows roses

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Springtime - 11 yrs later

Life is good.

Reminder

One of my favorite paragraphs from one of my favorite guides writing one of my favorite books: 'Creativity - the perfect crime' - by my patron saint of the Seemingly Impossible, the Conquistador of the Useless, Philippe Petit: 

"In chaos, all is possible. Every incoming idea is welcomed, with no regard for reality. Forget time, money or reason; embrace a brimming universe! Because if you start with rules, your creation will be stillborn." 

                                                                                                                  by Quint Bucholz

Saturday, April 22, 2017

March for Science/Earth Day: Remembering Paul Pittman - September 23, 1955 - January 8, 2017

Fierce. That’s the word I use to describe my old friend, Paul. And smart. Very smart. Never the arrogant kind of smart looking down on others who perhaps had no idea what he was talking about when he would begin to unravel the mysteries of science and the universe, but a matter-of-fact smart that shared his knowledge with all who would care to listen. When his listener’s eyes would begin to glaze over, he’d laugh and his eyes would twinkle even more than usual, which could be somewhat disarming given the fact that his eyes didn’t exactly match aiming in the same direction - one of those pairs of eyes where you never quite know where to look in order to look the person in the eye.

Yesterday I attempted to find him. It had been a few years since our last contact and I wasn't even sure where he might be, so I entered his name in google, found his photo looking like his impish self - only now an older imp. Hitting the link I was shocked to find out just three months ago he was snatched away in a flash while riding his bicycle - killed by a Ford Explorer crossing his path in a split second of inattentiveness, something he wasn’t prone to being. Right behind the shock of hearing the news was being impressed that he was still commuting by bicycle at age 61. I was reminded how he always had a bicycle as his primary transportation when we were younger, and apparently still did. It was a way of his maintaining physical strength and health while saving on gas. I'm sure he probably had calculated his carbon footprint of every mile he drove and tried to keep that to a minimum.

Paul was an innate, instinctive teacher - a man of knowledge, philosophy, and extreme curiosity that was relentless in its search. When Paul had a question he researched the answer - and that was long before any of us could appear to be an expert by googling answers. He would do serious research - from the micro-biology of nutrition, to in-depth chemistry, to the workings of the nervous system or the solar system, to saving the diminishing rain forests. He grounded the information he found in hours, weeks, years of serious work. It was just how he was wired - a curious geek with lots of humor and lots to share. A good man. I wish I’d had the chance to tell him that one last time.

We knew each other over a lifetime - going all the way back to being young bucks fumbling our way into adulthood as we discovered our worlds unfolding.

To me, Paul’s brilliance was his outstanding feature. For the average person meeting him for the first time it was more his physical appearance - the limp when he walked; the steel prosthetic hook that replaced his right hand, hung by leather straps around his shoulder and chest allowing him to control opening and closing the pincer hook like a crab claw; and his remaining left hand and arm, a reconstruction that left him with a thumb and two fingers. What he could do with his two upper appendages and their limitations was impressive and amazing - both in ability and in educating others quietly — long before any such things as disability awareness. His road was simply ‘awareness’ - and disability was a part of his package.

Back in the day, I knew Paul and his hook very well. To know Paul well meant confronting your own discomfort, get past pretending not to notice — and get real. Paul lived on Planet Real. That was a gift he gave freely.

He taught me how gentle a metal hook could be as I watched how he cradled our baby boy in his arms over 35 years ago.

He also showed me the fierce, ‘I can do anything’ side of himself as I rode ‘shotgun’ next to him in his little sports car as he drove like a wild man down a curvy country road letting his reckless spirit fly. He grabbed the stick-shift with his hook as he showed me his speeding driving chops as he wove our way through the winding countryside - a favorite pastime of his until one night he drank too much alone and crashed the car down a hillside, stopping just short of going into the river. He escaped without a scratch - the next day taking me down there to find the scene he couldn’t quite clearly remember.

Okay, just because you’re smart in some areas doesn’t mean you’ve got it covered in all areas! But he learned. And I learned. And we got older.

A few years later, another questionable choice of both of ours was when he offered to create a fireworks display for a 4th of July party we were having.

“Wow! Sure! Sounds cool!” I said.

The night of the party Paul set his fireworks up. About 50 kids and adults gathered around. His fireworks were homemade, but the fact that he was a chemist and seemed to know what he was doing — coupled with his saying “these are just tiny little fireworks for the kids” led us naively into what quickly became one of the wildest, most out of control, kids and parents screaming and running from fireworks randomly shooting sideways and raining down displays I’ve seen — all in our yard. 

Lesson learned: no more homemade fireworks. Even if your most brilliant chemist friend is involved.

Yes, he could be both brilliant and dangerous - not an unusual combination at all.

But then I also remember him many times sitting with curious children in conversation. He enjoyed kids, and kids being kids and forthright as they are, he always found refreshing. They’d ask him straight out things most adults wouldn’t dare, like asking about the obvious - his hook and his damaged arms. He’d suddenly turn it into ‘Show and Tell’ demonstrating how the leather straps over his shoulder allowed him to control the gripping grasp of his hook - which always led to being asked, “How’d you get this way?” and he’d give a variation of the story depending on the age of the crowd.

It takes little imagination to consider what kind of a boy Paul was. I’m sure his inquisitiveness could drive a parent mad on occasion in trying to keep up, protect, and keep him safe. It’s a relentless job when you have a relentless kid with relentless drive. And somehow they managed to survive all that, but just barely.

The story as Paul told me was that as a young teenager he brought home chemicals from a school chemistry lab. He was down in the basement doing experiments, mixing chemicals, crouched down on the floor over a container when it exploded, blowing off his right arm, parts of his left and parts of muscle of his lower legs that were close to the explosion.

The fact he went onto study and earn a masters in biochemistry says volumes about him. He became a chemist and mastered the world of chemistry that altered his very being.

His road of recovery was long. Life-long and relentless. And with good humor and grace - right up to his end riding his beloved bicycle.

I learned his most recent area of research was about the diminishing rainforest. His life’s work ending on a global note. As the organization ‘Rainforest Partnership’ said in memoriam: “Paul hoped that his findings would contribute to the conservation of tropical rainforests. It is our sincere hope that by publishing his work it might reach a broader audience and raise awareness of an issue that was close to his heart.”

He was a good man. I wish I’d had one last chance to say that to him — and for all that he taught me, “Thank you.”

Friday, March 17, 2017

Keep Breathing

"As long as you can still grab a breath, you fight. You breathe. Keep breathing."
                                                    ~ from 'The Revenant'

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Old Zen Story

In the final hours at Standing Rock





  (r)Evolutionary Haiku

Grand things are ahead
worth living, worth dying for.
Life's seasons in flow.







Thursday, January 19, 2017

"Better is the enemy of good." 
     Italian proverb popularized by Voltaire

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Dragons

Our fears are like dragons guarding our most precious treasures. 
                                                                      - Ranier Maria Rilke

It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him. 
                                                                      - J.R.R. Tolkien

Friday, September 30, 2016

Autumn Equinox(ish) 2016 - 11 years later....

"I am a tenacious little rat who doesn't take the impossible for granted."   ~ Philippe Petit

                                                              ~ banksy

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day - The Complicated Holiday

We were talking tonight about Father's Day, my wife and I. She's taught 3rd and 4th grade for many years. Each year she scans the fresh young faces sitting before her, doing a quick assessment of their home situation each Mother's Day and Father's Day. Is there a Mom at home? Is Dad in the kids' lives? A proactive measure before doing anything as reckless as making a card or a gift for the holiday. Not everyone has an active, present, or alive Mom or Dad. If it's too complicated for even one child, she'll skip making the cards or gift.

There was only one year in all her years of teaching that Mother's Day had to be shelved so as to not bring attention to the fact that a child's Mother was far from "Best Mom in the World" material. Only one year. In fact, some kids have had to make two cards for their two Moms who are their parents.

But Father's Day? I hate to say it guys, but our gender isn't representing so well. It's a lot easier for a man to walk away in one form or another.

She looks over her class each year and sees the ghosts of men that some families have for a father. There's the drunks; the missing in action fathers; the inactive ones; the ones in horrific, hateful battles with the mother; the dads who have a restraining order on them and are court-ordered to stay away from the family -- and the men who don't need a court order to stay away because they left long ago on their own.

There was the year that a child's father, who was also a heroin addict, overdosed right before Father's Day. The boy was told by family that he died from taking too many vitamins. Oh, the stories we tell ourselves and our children to explain the men who've disappeared. It's complicated.

She said to me tonight: "Thankfully Father's Day comes the last week of school and there's so much else going on that we can ignore it entirely. It's too complicated for too many kids in class."

There hasn't been one Father's Day in all her years with 8 & 9 yr olds that she could look out over her class of kids and naively take them down a warm and fuzzy path that would lead to their fathers. That path is too riddled with landmines for far too many.

It's too easy for men to 'hit and run' - leave some sperm and carry on without looking back or forward, hitting the door running, escaping - leaving their sperm donation and children behind. They make us look really bad, fellas.

Of course there's some very good Dads out there, too, and today we honor them. Many of them will get a bit of recognition - a favorite breakfast, a card, a hug, a day off... But the Fathers who deserve that recognition? They don't need any of that; it's not about what recognition they'll get. For them, it will be another day of giving just like every other day, filled with the daily sacrifices it takes to earn that title of Father.

So, for you men who have earned that title of Father, the faulty, imperfect, very human men teaching their kids by example how to rise above our collective brokenness, still trying your damnedest every day to simply show up and be present - We salute you. We recognize you. This is for you, your kids, and our future: Michael Franti singing 'Forever By Your Side" -- Yes, indeed. 

Recognition also to the Grandfathers, Uncles and Other Men who step in when a Father is absent. It's all about the love and making a little patch of this earth and our human family better.

Happy Father's Day, gentlemen. You know who you are.

Friday, June 3, 2016

"I Want" - Alejandra Ribera

You had the gun, I had the horse. We took a photograph.
Now I can’t find my way back. And all I’m grieving was a dream.
I’m down this rabbit hole. Even the madness cannot shield this soul. 
There’s so much labor just in breathing lately. 
There’s so much labor just in breathing lately. There’s so much labor just in breathing.
I want the ocean open up before me. I want the aching of a melody.
I want a comrade to share this with me. I want, I want just to want just a little something.
I want to feel the power of a song. I want the light to carry me along.
I want to feel the wind upon my skin. I want the life-force back in my blood again!
I want the ocean open up before me. I want the aching of a melody.
I want a comrade to share this with me. I want, I want just to want anything.

Take these seeds and burn them all. So they don’t take root in me.
I cannot face upstream. He abandoned ship to join a war. Hope he’s victorious.
The water level is rising in this Styrofoam cup.
There’s so much labor just in breathing lately. 
There’s so much labor just in breathing lately. There’s so much labor just in breathing. 
I want the ocean open up before me. I want the aching of a melody.
I want a comrade to share this with me. I want, I want just to want just a little something.
I want to feel the flower of the song. I want the light to carry me along.
I want to feel the wind upon my skin. I want the life-force back in my blood again!
I want the ocean open up before me. I want the aching of a melody.
I want my comrades to share this with me.
I want, I want just to want anything.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Warm Hearth Haiku

warm tea, cold morning
the returning sun climbs high ~
another day blooms.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Frida Kahlo Gives Loss the Boot!

Toward the end of a lifetime of rising above the brutalities of her lifelong physical battles, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo had to have a leg amputated. Always one to stare her demons straight in the eye, she didn't shrink back. Instead, she designed her own prosthesis with a style that was truly her own. Only Frida would think of decorating it and adding bells to it to make it sing with each step. 

She was both defiant and boldly accepting to the end! 














"Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?" 
                                                    Frida Kahlo

Friday, October 16, 2015

Philippe Petit - Patron Saint of 'Tenacious Little Rats'

From the "poet who writes in the sky," wire-walker, Philippe Petit, a personal inspiration through my last 10 yrs of my own 'Balancing Act': 

“I know in my heart and body that I will successfully do the last step and, therefore, there are no question marks. Maybe there is a forest of exclamation points but I don’t ask myself: 'Oh my God, I hope the cable will support me.' I go there because I am solid. It is this solidity of the most fragile action a human being can do on a little wire that inspires people.

“So it’s really life-affirming. I don’t risk my life. I do something maybe mysterious but very noble and carry my life across.”

The word “impossible” doesn’t faze him, either. “I am a fighter,” he stressed. “I am a tenacious little rat who doesn’t take impossible for granted.”





Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Breathing Lessons



....been trying to change my funky nervous system wiring [result of chemotherapy, cancer, and meds that are a double-edged sword] through regular meditation practice. Book recommendation: 'You Are Not Your Pain'. This poem, a reminder:



Breathing Lesson

Breathing in I see the world;
breathing out I know I’m alive.

Breathing in I hear the world;
breathing out I know I’m alive.

Breathing in I smell the world;
breathing out I know I’m alive.

Breathing in I taste the world;
breathing out I know I’m alive.

Breathing in I touch the world;
breathing out I know I’m alive.

Breathing in I know the world;
breathing out I know I’m alive.

Breathing in I feel the pleasure of the world;
breathing out I know I’m alive.

Breathing in I am content with the world;
breathing out I know I’m alive.

Breathing in I release the world;
breathing out I know I'm alive....

Friday, June 19, 2015

Lymphomopoly Haiku


...roll the dice, pass 'go'.
collect two hundred dollars.
chance card says: s'all good.