Max …

“Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


It’s said that we humans create memories by our brains making neural-networks meant to capture moments. Such networks connect a myriad of pieces … touch, smells, light, color, and the “feelings” experienced in those captured moments.  Our brains assemble them and their impact upon our bodies so that moments may be “relived” once again sometime along our journey.  These packages of memories are placed upon our library shelves, awaiting retrieval and recall … recall triggered by a host of possible conditions.

I have many such packages resting upon my shelves.  But there is one deeply etched, emotion filled collection that revisits me often.  A trigger … a song … “Colors of the Wind” … consistent in its ability to reach and retrieve a collection of memories surrounding a powerful moment in my life plays out with predictable consistency.  When played, this song evokes a memory package producing sharp, clear, and deeply penetrating reactions … relived feelings no different than those original feelings at the inception of this memory.

Max … a “big old” Malamute mix … a wonderfully loving dog … left me and my former spouse one late evening many years ago.  His body had been suddenly stricken by a condition diagnosed too late to correct, and even though emergency surgery finally occurred, the damage done simply overwhelmed his body’s ability to bounce back.

His final passing took time, and time allowed us to comfort his suffering and impart to him the deep, penetrating love we held for him … this creature of the earth.  It was the first, powerful journey I had shared with death, and I learned that it was a privileged moment as I sat on the floor of the veterinary hospital cradling his head in my lap … softly stroking his rich, grey fur as his eyes slowly became empty.  To this day, when the trigger recalls the memories, I “feel” the sharp, emotional sting of the moment while also deeply feeling the magic of he and I looking into each other’s eyes and reaching into what seemed some deeper place of connection … a place rarely visited … a place where souls touch.

Though it took me years to fully understand what Max gave me in those final, shared moments, I learned that late evening that love can take only the forms we give it.  I learned that opening one’s heart and allowing one’s soul to flow from within to some other place … some shared, connected place … is possible within the human condition.  I learned that such a connection, even when incredibly sad, sears a uniquely indelible image of memories that never seem to soften yet always seem to enrich.  This special memory … gathering of sensations … neural-network of the brain is now carried with me as though it lives.  When triggered, it brings forth a vividly clear reliving of a powerful experience along my journey.  And each time this occurs, I am gently reminded of how touching souls in love can change one’s personal fabric forever.

“Here Max!  Come here boy!” … come remind me of how deeply one can love.  “Good boy … good boy …”

The plight of a urban mountaineer …

“Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, days in whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God.” –  John Muir


Another sunrise … one recently experienced as I joined close friends camping in the lower sierras for several days.  Another sunrise … one purchased by rising early to take in the unique, golden glow offered me by a beautiful location among the pines and granite.

Sitting here in my beloved sierras, the emotions within me expand and swell.  Early rising had offered me a spiritual window made of stained glass colored in greens, oranges, yellows and soft whites.  A window flowing with colorful essence and allowing witness to the sun rising over the granite ridges and blessing the world beyond.

Another sunrise … a gift from the universe that now means much more than in earlier years.  Another day to spend wisely since the days ahead of me are far fewer than the days fading on the trail I leave behind.  Another moment … to allow what beauty and energy it brings to penetrate my soul and release feelings demanding me to answer a call … a beckoning to “go and venture” into the high country where each breath brings such deep, rich good feelings.  Feelings that within this “urban mountaineer” offers immense impact upon a soul and heart in a humble man of 7 decades.

And with this sunrise, the rays of sun write their good tidings before me.  A message only shared when I stand within the cathedral of the granite gods.  But the ink of the sun’s writings quickly fades and never returns in quite the same way.  And I realize this moment was a message, personally delivered to me with the intention that I take in these moments … this sunrise … this brief, faint scene … and soak in the joyously rich feelings gifted me by the universe. Let it reach down and change me … change not only my thoughts but my being.

I’ve come to learn that when my inner music plays so loudly … when my internal compass spins then points so clearly towards a chosen horizon … I must answer.  It signals the direction of my true essence … some part of me that reaches to the ends of every root that plants me to this spinning sphere of clay and magma.

So I must go … take small steps to bring small feelings of increased excitement and joy.  Take steps … a day dream … a calendar entry … a talk about plans … a picture on my desktop … a reservation … piling clothes and equipment together in a place where more action is taken.  All and more … acts creating movement towards the compass heading leading me to immerse myself once more in nature and to stand among the granite gods in their domain.  Go and not only stand among the gods but allow their domain to become mine.  Yes, this urban mountaineer must go, and will soon go, and will rejoice as he joins the chorus of nature’s choir of rock, trees, and sky.

Reframing …



gerund or present participle: reframing

  1. place (a picture or photograph) in a new frame.
  2. frame or express (words or a concept or plan) differently.


I am on a journey.  Many miles lay behind me, and fewer lay ahead.  Each day the steps of my life reveal more of my self-vision … the picture I see of myself … my essence within the frame defining “me” at this moment in my time.

At times I struggle with this picture because I “feel” it doesn’t accurately capture me.  The frame doesn’t fit.  It’s an older frame trying to hold on to a picture that doesn’t belong, one reflecting what once was.  And this mismatch causes me emotional pain … a sense of failure and diminishment at times.

What’s within the frame is real, portraying a maturing man whose life is currently expanding into richness never experienced.  A life offering new discoveries blended by new freedoms and capabilities, strength, and connection.  Also within the frame lives a man where his outer shell ages, whose muscles ache more even though his fitness grows, whose need for occasional naps increases, and whose wisdom increases because he knows as his time remaining narrows, reflection offers calm and clearer understanding of his place in the universe.

But the frame surrounding this picture causes discord.  It reflects something in-congruent and out of phase.  It tries to define me using the tones of youth rather than reflect a more unique palette suited to “me” in this moment.  And over time, I realize more and more that the secret to gracefully aging … to continuous and harmonious growth in years … is to reframe this picture so that the man I am inside … the inner picture … aligns more with the man I see surrounding it as the frame.  Change the frame so that it moves and marches in step with the changes in me.  Refresh the frame so that it doesn’t reflect an earlier “me” no longer relevant or achievable, but offers new shapes and colors matching what’s held true within … a new and powerfully rich, fresh statement of me moving into my 7th decade.

The frame must change so that the new complete picture of “me” remains in harmony with my essence.  I must become friends with the concept that my “wrapper” (frame) of skin and bones must change as cells grow and decay, but my true inner physical and spiritual strength is quite different and much more powerful than the wrapper might imply. The challenge is to reframe how I tie it all together … the frame and the picture … the wrapper and the inner me.  It is the dance I must now learn.

Skin may sag but strength increase.  Muscles may ache while capabilities increase.  Superficial thoughts may be replaced by deep reflections.  And with practice, I can reveal a more harmonious picture framed by acceptance of the “wrapper” while celebrating the expanding essence of the inner picture and conditions.  If I don’t, then the discord created reduces the joy I experience each day.  So I must accept … no embrace reframing so that harmony is preserved.  The result is an ever changing and adjusting picture, a reflection encased within a morphing frame offering harmonious context to my essence.  A picture and frame proudly displayed on the wall because it offers holistically rich, joyful feelings.

Yes, an aging life must constantly form a picture in an ever-changing frame.  It is one of many tasks before me, but one that deserves attention and priority because it seems fundamental to many other tasks carried in my pack.


“I don’t believe in ‘thinking’ old. Although I’ve transitioned through many bodies – a baby, toddler, child, teen, young adult, mid-life and older adult – my spirit is unchanged. I support my body with exercise, my mind with reading and writing, and my spirit with the knowing that I am part of the Divine source of all life.” –  Wayne Dyer


Reframing … as with breathing … on-going in every moment lived.

Time away, yet messages and thoughts always lingered

Many months have passed since this writer has shared reflections of what’s held deep inside.  My life’s journey continued to take me forward, sometimes in desired directions, sometimes not.  Clear, joyful days where mixed with days of doubt and disappointment.  But that is what life offers, contrasting days assembled into our story.  And along the way, we travel the journey knowing the road is paved with solid ground, rocks and potholes.

For me, the space and distance from writing seemed needed.  And though the yearnings to “write” and share through this blog faded over these recent wanderings, messages and thoughts within me arose and lingered.  A collection of my mental stories reflecting feelings sparked by my “thinking” … my living life … my “feeling” feelings … and my relationships with the planet and those standing on it.  Observations about the “why” of life blended knowingly by simply accepting what is.  And the time and distance … away from writing … now seems to be “enough”.  Enough space for breathing … enough time for wandering, reflecting, but not sharing.

I’ve learned to listen to my inner voice, so I now “pick up the pen” and once again write.  Write for myself and for the feelings created as I set my inner thoughts free.   Feelings spawned from expressing thoughts from within me, knowing time continues to dance across the face of my life’s clock.

And it is time moving at an ever quicker pace that whispers to me to once again write and feel.  Blend these cherished acts into my moments.  As stated so well by one out among the stars (at least in our imaginations) …

“Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey.  It reminds us to cherish each moment because it will never come again.  What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived.” – Captain Jean-Luc Picard, from the file “Star Trek Generations”

It all feels “right” in this moment, and fully living in each of my moments is a song I hum as often as possible these days.  So I once again “hum” my song of written words …


The freedom to speak from my heart …

“When you speak with your heart as your trusted friend, you will find all the goodness and wisdom, and you will know the truth.” – Gwen Boudreau


Recently my journey has revealed a subtle yet important internal shift.  I am developing the freedom to speak from my heart.  It’s a noticeable difference and a wonderful feeling each time I now express a thought, or respond to a question, or simply carry on a dialog, knowing it’s content sincerely reflects the way I “feel” and not some external story.

It’s taken time and effort to connect the pathways between feelings and expression so that it becomes my natural way of being.   As with any skill, conscious practice enables a new behavior to become a habit so that it operates at almost a subconscious level.  And working in partnership with practice is trust … trust that my feelings are real, and trust that using my feelings is the way to navigate my life.  And the “dots” connecting my feelings and words … these pathways are now increasingly clear and sharply connected, creating this new, observable and freshly felt freedom of genuine expression.

Though now a process used often, it remains a work in progress.  As such, questions still arise such as “How does it change my movement through life and the world?”  And as I look deeper to offer answers to such inquiries, I see this increasingly direct connection delving ever deeper into my heart and clearing fragments of old obstacles that filter or color the purity of what is retrieved.  I clearly “feel” that which is revealed, and even more clearly “feel” what is directed from the heart to the outside world.  And each utterance is surrounded by an intense sense of calm, lightness, and brevity.  It “feels” like it flows directly from mind-thought to utterance, smoothly and without residual friction … feeling effortless, unfiltered, and immediately and enthusiastically released.

And how did I achieve it?  Yes, through my personal work but also through my choice to seek immersion into a life experience that saturates my mind with all that resonates for me … saturates my total daily experience with an avalanche of triggers that inflame intense good feelings … inflames feelings that have been sought for many years but only now are being realized.  And as I stand in that place, life becomes flooded with rich moments offering the purest feelings of what’s whole within me.  The lightness of seeing and feeling my inner joy … and expressing it as I connect with all around me.  Such a wonderful song to hum as I continue walking my journey …

The opening of doors …

“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” –Unknown


Change has been my companion for several years now.  I’ve written about it several times within this chronicle from many different directions.  At first, I resisted it thinking that “stability” was life’s goal for living a good life.  Since those earlier days, I’ve come to find out that it is not true for me … my life actually thrives on change and the renewed awareness, self-growth, and new life experiences it brings.  Yes, pockets of “stability” are needed and may be nurtured, but it needs to be blended with healthy portions of change for my life to be lived richly and holistically.  And change offers an added bonus.  Change pushes open new doors … doors leading to adventures revealing totally unanticipated aspects of myself, and doors leading to rich, loving, and joyful experiences that would have been otherwise missed on life’s journey.

And of all the treasures offered by change, the one I find most exciting is the opening of doors.  It’s made change an even closer friend than before.  It’s like a sweet, rich piece of candy unwrapped and handed to me … one that is now my favorite.  Each day I seek opportunities where tossing in some unanticipated changes (planned changes too) might open a door to some new side road on my journey.  Each road offering a chance to enrich my life in ways never dreamt.  Roads that may be smooth, or unpaved and rough, but still incredibly rewarding because they contribute to what’s necessary to give me something desired, or provides some surprise that stirs my soul.  And it’s that soul stirring thing … the swirling that emanates from deep within, that reflects deep emotions and connectedness … that creates this wonderfully magical feeling within me.  And it’s my firm belief that “soul stirring” creates a life well lived.

So … I now try energizing my life through change.  I use that delicious piece of candy as a tool.  I blend change with touches of stability as I morph myself to increase my joy from living a meaningful life.  Change that creates surprises and opens doors into opportunities never thought about but now joyfully lived.  Let’s hear it for “change” … !!!  Oh boy … there goes another door … “squeak” …

Feeling the Holidays …

“Life is a journey and it’s about growing and changing and coming to terms with who and what you are and loving who and what you are.” – Kelly McGillis

The holidays are officially upon me now, bathing me in warm feelings, busy schedules, and memories of days past.  It’s what the holidays do to this boy of 6 decades.  And though predictable, each year offers new experiences that provide fresh insights into who I am and what makes me “Me”.

When opening myself to it all, I realize more and more that the holidays serve as a lens … a focusing lens allowing a sharper convergence of the fragments of my life’s journey.  A fresh chance to review and reflect in a more wholistic way.  And the resulting view creates feelings … some intensely sad, some incredibly joyful … but all rich because they remind me of a life well lived, and a life yet to be lived well.  It’s all a collage of days then and now spent in childhood, as a young adult, and as a maturing man moving through his seasoned career and finally finding himself as a person of meaningful purpose, deep feelings and even deeper connection.

It’s all an early gift … one with a large red bow … a gift that fits easily under the tree while shining more brightly than those surrounding it.  And once opened, it reminds me to live each day … live fully in each moment … discover and appreciate the simple things … embrace exploration and change … and move forward to add to my ever-changing collage of the richest life I can possibly live.  Yes, walking a path … a path that opens new, exciting doors to fresh feelings of wellness that signal the worth and wealth of my journey.

Flying high and forever thankful …

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha

Wow!!  I truly feel blessed in this moment!  The realization overtakes me … suddenly bringing deep feelings usually tied to more traditional, emotionally touching life scenes.  But here I sit waiting for a plane able to whisk me back to home and friends … sipping on a coffee … listening to music over a phone able to guide me on streets and touch the world web … and I clearly see and “feel” that in this instant I couldn’t be healthier, more complete, or more filled with joy.  Wow … such a bright, brilliant light of joy whose boundary reaches no farther than the skin surrounding this humble body of many years.  Yes … the brightness pours from within and clearly needs nothing more than me listening for the song from my senses.

Yes … I’m returning to a city ravaged by flame, bills to pay, and life to sort out day-by-day … but in this moment and instant I’m overwhelmed with all that I have in this moment.  I can’t ignore that my life is so very rich.  So I celebrate it … !!!  And though it’s a party of only one, the sounds and feelings truly move my senses like any other festive event.  My rich life … my good fortune … my moment and all it offers.  Whoo-Hoo …!!!!

Reaching back for feelings …

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie


I am on an adventure.  A journey offering both planned and spontaneous moments to visit, then “feel” times past.  The experience is something liken to engaging a time machine, a device able to place me back into a time already lived.  A device able to afford me an opportunity … create the needed conditions … to open my emotional center and extract from its archives feelings from the past.  And it’s the feelings I seek because my life now revolves around feelings … feelings used as guides and feelings used to dig and work a deeper understanding of me.

A reunion … one reflecting 50 years since departing high school … is the focused event.  And while the event itself occurs this evening, I’ve trigger my time machine many times over the past couple of days as I visit old, now unfamiliar places where I once lived, played sports, attended school, encountered romance, and met with younger comrades as we traveled the early days of our life journey together.

And even though physical changes reflecting the time passed make old places hardly recognizable, enough remains to trigger the feelings from those past moments.  A walk down a high school corridor now surrounded by new, extensive buildings never seen … watching the current team engage in football with a neighboring school and recalling how it felt when I ran out upon the very same field … standing in front of the home I grew up in, seeing how in today’s standards it might be called a slum … seeing mile upon mile of new buildings now standing where only vacant desert once prevailed … each context significantly changed but still able to create a moment of feelings tied to the past.  And each feeling refreshed in my emotional archive, ready for use as I move forward with my life.

I’ve met several nice people along the way, all willing to allow this out of town traveler an opportunity to touch his past and carry away feelings collected like rocks along a field trip.  And as I collect my bag of rocks, there arises within me a sense of closure.  Closure of these doors leading into my past.  Recognition of the joy I was given as I grew up, and the richness of the stories surrounding each day.  Appreciation of the role these stories played in forming me … delivering me to a place along time where personal work now reforms and builds a new me from these earlier laid cornerstones.  But I feel my moving away … hear the doors closing … and sense my time now turns more and more to living in the “now” as I continue taking new paths towards the life I choose to walk.  This new life, built upon the old but so totally different.  A life influenced by both old and new feelings, all richly available as guides but not driving who I am.  A life now creating new feelings, richer than I could have ever imagined, carrying me towards my final chapters.

The saints above …

“There are no greater treasures than the highest human qualities such as compassion, courage and hope. Not even tragic accident or disaster can destroy such treasures of the heart.” – Daisaku Ikeda

My community is on fire.  Incomprehensible numbers of homes destroyed, areas burned to the ground, and devastation created now fill the record books and bring pain to the hearts of all, especially those displaced, made homeless, or even killed.  Its scale is beyond description … and the experience is something I’ve not encountered in my lifetime.  And it is far from being over for the battle rages all around me.

I am blessed for I am safe, without some utilities but still having a home and able to be in it.  For so many, it is a much different story.  And as I stand outside, seeing the smoke fill the horizon, planes fly over me … saints from above risking their lives to help beat back these dragons consuming my community and others nearby.  And I pray for these saints … pray for their giving and pray for their safety … pray for the ones in the air and those on the ground … all risking their lives to stop the inferno consuming my community.

For me, this event has rocked me to my core.  It has overwhelmed me to a degree never anticipated, and caused me to slip and tumble into past scripts and touch old, long hidden feelings causing pain, suffering, and negative views of the world.  One moment I feel like I’ve regained balance, then the next I fall over an emotional cliff.  While shopping today I saw a fire truck and crew from a far off city parked while buying provisions.  My inner voice moved me to walk up to the crew and thank them for all they are doing and when I did, I began to cry … overcome with an up swell of emotion.

And here comes another plane … another saint has graced the sky above me.  And I weep … I touch old feelings and new … I challenge my process but quickly allow myself to move through this incredible event in my own way meeting my own needs.  And I work to allow the negative focus to flow through me, remembering all the good I’ve witnessed from my community as it rises from the ashes like some Phoenix.  These are moments in my life I will never forget.

And yet another saint from above approaches … and I pray … and I process … and I weep … and I take a giant breath in preparation of joining my community in the rebuilding … rebuilding that will bring positive change from the ashes of emotional despair.

And here comes another saint … and I pray … and I process … and I …