Rising from the Ashes

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The road unfolds before me but I barely see it.  After days of trudging through the desert, this morning finds my mind full of words.  I am awash in a flood of ideas.  My fingers clutch the steering wheel more tightly as the feathers of a mythical phoenix flutter down before the lens my imagination.

I think of the city in Arizona.  I shake my head to clear it.  Flames rise up and turn my soaring symbol to ashes.  I think of Ash Wednesday and of rising again.  My phoenix rises from the ashes and soars into the heavens.  Quickly, I am thrown back to earth.  I think of all the problems plaguing so many people, so many of those close to me.  I think of the problems that plague myself.  A desperate prayer escapes me.

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Pearl Harbor or My Waterloo?


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For as long as I can remember the events of WWII have always seemed especially vivid to me.  Even as I child, I would dream about WWII.  An especially vivid dream found me swimming in the English Channel.  The sound of explosions is deafening.  Atop the water, the oil from downed planes fuels flames of fire that cut into a dark, hellish sky.  I swim because my life depends upon it.  Giving in, giving up is not an option.  As I swim, my tears trace jagged lines through the soot on my cheeks.  All innocence is dead.

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Maximizing One’s Talent


A recent stroll between the shelves in the library resulted in my finding a book called Talent is Never Enough Workbook by John Maxwell.  (This is a companion workbook to his book by the same name.)   I’ve been hearing Maxwell’s name lately and as the laws of serendipity and synchronicity would have it, I found him when I needed him.

It’s no secret that I tend to be passive when it comes to life.  I’m more likely to let things happen, roll over and play dead or go with the flow than I am to really work to shape my own destiny.

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Thanksgiving is tomorrow.   As much as I’d like to feel grateful, I have to settle for cultivating an attitude of gratitude and hoping that the feelings will come later.

It is possible.   For the last few weeks, it’s been difficult to find the words to write.  I am in a dry spell.  I force myself to maintain the discipline of writing because it is a good idea, not because the words flow out of me effortlessly.  I’ve been consumed with self-doubt. I feel confused, lost, adrift on the ocean of life.  I fear the coming storm and feel helpless against it.

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Confronting the Enemy

The morning mirror reflects back my own worst enemy.  It is me.  I chew on this reality.  It tastes like stale unsweetened breakfast cereal.  It may be good for me but it doesn’t taste like it is.  My experience is not sweet.  I chew on sawdust.

Over the years, I’ve had an external enemy or two.  This always surprises me.  I do not consider myself a very good opponent.  I am a lover not a fighter.

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Let the Story Tell Itself

This last week, I had the task of breaking down the process of getting words on paper.  I found the act of writing almost impossible to explain.  The best I could do was to advise the student to

“Get out of the way of the story.  Let the story tell itself.”

I doubt he understood.  I don’t really.  When I begin to write, I never know where my words will end up.   They fall out onto the page, one after another in ribbons of meaning.  Looping and coiling, they slide across the page like frenzied dancers swaddled in brightly-colored tendrils of thought.

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A Thank You to My “Belived” Life

The desire to write has been absent this last week.  The words inside my head are practicing an unusual economy.   They demand little attention.   They have been very quiet.

While I miss their antics and their company, it has been nice to have a break.  My body has taken advantage of the break and has invited a cold to come take up residence in my head.

Maybe if I’d been paying more attention to my body and less attention to the demands in my mind, I would have taken better care of myself this last year and not been an easy home for a steady stream of illnesses.  Since life demands to be lived forward the price of many of the best lessons is the cost of a past mistake.

As I was typing that last sentence, I typed belived.     Don’t we have the word beloved?   The word belived doesn’t seem so out of place. It seems a likely English word.

If beloved means dearly loved, then belived could mean dearly lived.

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I See the Moon

Around 9 p.m. the dog woke from her usual evening slumber and danced and scratched at the door.    She had to go outside.  She can never be expected to go alone.  She requires the presence of the “potty coach.”  At first, this need irritated me.  No creature should need a potty coach.

In time, I gave in to the coaching.  I realized that for what ever reason, that is what my dog needs and I can give it to her.  It’s not hard really.  In the act of encouragement, I find a certain comfort and peace but this was only found under layers of resistance.  I had to stop thinking about what “should” happen and simply accept what was happening.  This last sentence is easy to write but very difficult to live.

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Fire and Ice

“To live, Ben felt, was to be on fire, lest one turn to ice.”  David Guterson  East of the Mountains.  

I love this book precisely because of lines such as the one I quote above.   Not every book has a line or two within it that rides around on your back for days and demands some attention.

Sitting in a high school English class with a few minutes to spare, I rediscover the quote written in the margins of my notebook.  I took it out and played with the sentence for a few minutes.





These are the words that fell from that play.  I begin with a rough adaption. Some times, I play a little roughly.

To live is to be on fire, lest one turn to ice. 

The words wrap around my mind like a tightly wound coil.  Swirling loops of emotion, I can not express.  They sleep fitfully inside me.  Silently, I watch them breathe.  The gentle rise and fall, a signal that  life is resting here.

My attention disturbs their sleep.  They shift restlessly under my gaze.  They awaken and stare up at me with fire simmering behind their eyes.

Great lakes form beneath as the ice begins to melt.

My life, my heart, my mind is on rapid defrost.  Warmth seeps down into my fingers and toes.  Is the sensation I feel pleasure or pain?

It is both.  The Great Chill is ending.  My life burns.

I am the person behind the words printed here. I write because my heart will not allow me the option of NOT writing. It has taken me half a life time to discover this basic truth, but now that I have, writing is as natural as breathing. This is where my breath takes the form of words.


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The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
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