Like the Phoenix, I rise from my own ashes. Coming out of the flames is a new being, rising above the embers. Given the gift of self-destruction, all that is left are memories…stories that happened to someone else.

Phoenixes don’t rise with old friends, lovers, and habits clinging to them. They begin anew. The begin as any newborn does – naked, with nothing. Gone is the ‘I.’ What remains is this one. This one leaf on an endless tree, this one drop of water in the ocean, this one tiny cloud beneath the Infinite Sky.

‘I’ had to die first to get here. All the dross was left behind, burned away in the crucible. I had bowed again and again to Shiva, the Lord of Destruction. Shiva answered; that aspect of Divinity that prunes us down, clears the way for new growth. The old must be destroyed, removed to make way for the new. AUM namaha, Shivaya! Thank you.

Now this one is suspended, sustained. But first came birth. New birth is always painful. Change does not come cheaply, especially momentuous change. From the destruction of Shiva rises the ground of Being, that of Brahma, from which all things are born.

In having lost everything, there is freedom. Nothing left to lose. This is immunity of a sort. I am okay. Just like this. Nothing else needed. No lovers, groups, or support structures required.

Nothing required.

Ready out of the box…no extra ingredients or assembly required.

This ‘okay’ survives wars, pain, pestilence, death. It is not limited or constrained by situations or circumstances.

Of course, to get here I had to die a thousand deaths. I had to wander through hell, cold and alone. I had to give it up…all my hopes and dreams. I had to drop it, my attachments and expectations.

No guru or God can help in this….this task must be done alone, can only be done alone, when nothing is left.

In pain and despair, as well as in euphoria, there is only the Seer. Just that remains.

Gone also is the clinging to meaning, the desire to Do Something, to contribute something, somehow. Nothing need be done. Just be. Be what ‘I’ am. Once the idea of doing something is out of the way, something can perhaps be done. But not by me, myself, or I.

Phoenixes don’t do anything…they just fly. Unicorns have no purpose or mission, they just ARE.

If the ‘right action’ the Buddhists speak of is required, it will happen…naturally, without planning or pushing. No one will be doing the actions, performing the tasks. No hero will arise, to take credit or shoulder blame.

No one there.

No one home.

Just this mythical and magical phoenix.

To the logical and empirical, all there is to be seen is a pile of ashes…maybe just one final ember rising. No phoenix. Phoenixes do not exist in that world.

That is not to say they don’t exist. They just don’t exist in that world. If they did, people would hunt them down. But they would keep rising, just out of the grasp of their slayers.

Rising out of the fetters of this world, into the expanse of the new one…it appears to be the same place. New and old, as one. What was it the holy man said? Salvation is at hand. It is always here, always within reach, this new world. Its seed germ lies in the old. Heaven is here, now…the only place it could possibly be.

In those fields of Elysium, phoenixes soar and unicorns romp. There dwell I.


Speak to me with your eyes.

Show me with your smile.

Let’s see it in action.

That’s where I feel you. That’s where I know You.

Tell me with your tears.

Let the stories slide from your fingertips.

Share me in your primal scream.

Then I know you; naked.without your mask.

Just one heart.

We meet in the place where wordsvibrate into action.


Yes, there.


Mist, drifting. Enchantment airborne.

Magically transporting me back in time, to a youthful state of awe. Mystically obscuring the linear shapes of the mundane. Cloaking the world in mystery, transforming the ordinary into the unknown.

I have always welcomed fog, found it to be a special gift.

winter trees

In the fog, anything seems possible. Objects appear and disappear, figures and shapes loom out of it in an instant, just as rapidly returning to those concealing tendrils. The quotidian sounds of life become muffled, adding a sense of expectancy, of pregnancy to every fog-shrouded moment.

It seemed to me, when young, quite obvious that the realm of Faerie (if it existed) depended on fog, mist, and starlight. It hinged on twilight. If it was real, it was only real in the blurred realm of soft lighting, not in the harsh, empirical light of the midday sun.

Fog seems a gateway, a misty portal.


Walking the streets of San Francisco or London, enveloped in mist so thick it seems tangible, palpable, anything seems possible. Strolling through foggy rural Germany, the likelihood of trolls under bridges seems more certain than doubtful.  Hiking through the redwood forests, fog imbues the surroundings with the attributes of a cathedral, of a forgotten, ancient, and holy temple.

I know it is just a ground-hugging cloud, a floating sea of mist that refracts and reflects light according to the laws of physics. I know the silence is due to the attenuative effect of water on sound propagation…yet I still sense the magic. I know it is just a cooler air mass meeting warmer ground, not a mystical event.

Yet I dare my fellow empiricists to deny the sense of magic and mystery inherent in the fog. We know it may simply be reactions of our amygdalae at the unexpected distortion coming from the optic nerve…still you would surely jump out of your boots if an unexpected sight or sound arose from this fog.


Drifting in a North Atlantic fog bank, the rest of the world seems quite unlikely. In this misty soup, the philosophic question/statement of ‘cogito, ergo sum’ seems less ridiculous, the Zen koan of the tree falling unobserved makes a bit more sense. Without the reassuring visual and auditory inputs, the existence of another world beyond our senses (a ‘real’, logical, linear one) seems less likely than our logical brains tell us it is (the converse of more sunlit times).

In the enfolding vapors, the romantic are called to romance, the evil to evil, and the fearful to fear. In the obscuring shrouds, none of us sally boldly forth. No, the mist adds a sense of trepidity to our steps. In the refracted world of fog, we find humility, uncertainty made palpable.

If fog magnifies the sense of mystery in life, it also amplifies the awesome beauty of natural events; snow and fog or lightning/thunder in fog are even more awesome than without it. We’ve all (most of us, anyhow) witnessed the grace of snowfall, the power of lightning. But to behold them both at once is a gift given to few.

In the monochrome world of fog, shape gains a new ascendency, is highlighted by the simple background pallette of grays and white shades. Subtle, almost imagined contrasts impart an air of simultaneous hyper-reality and surrealism. The backdrop against which geometry manifests itself no longer distracts our eye. Objects spring forth in a sudden moment of stark clarity, then fade back into the obscuring vapors, where those once-stark shapes fade with distance into the blur of mist.

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None the less magical in the explainability of its source or physics, fog remains a large factor in our perceptions and mood. Regardless of its cause, fog retains an awesome power, one undiluted by the quantifications of science.

For understanding comes from raw experience, rises from the heart, the guts, and not the head.  We experience fog…and all natural wonders from the place of the heart. If we do not, we miss the gift of magic that resides there, in spite of the explanations and protestations of the head, of the ‘logical’ mind.

The fog has magic within it…whether we see it so or not.



Love 2.0…Made Manifest

Being in love is incomparable. 

When in true love, one based on the Divine, a couple ascends to what is perhaps the highest state of human development. In that sacred being/state called Us, we find completion of our purpose…to worship and serve the Divine together, to create a fusion of beings in love (with love radiating out to all), to become instruments of, no, manifestations of the holy and Divine. 

In that state of grace, we function at previously unattainable levels, in the physical, mental, and spiritual realms. We can reach these levels only together. The wisest guru, on the highest mountain, in the deepest state of enlightenment cannot hope to equal this state…alone.

Individually, I saw my skin fill with life (and Hers, as well). My face glowed, and age dropped off me like an unneeded carapace. The sails of my body and soul were filled with the magical, mystical, holy power of Love. Yes, love…the power to heal, to rejuvenate, to grow in places and ways never before imagined.

Subjectively, I was only an individual insofar as I manifested Yang to Her Yin. We were One, inseparable. I was like a flower, drawn irresistably to my sun, concerned only with it. Some psychologists may call this a case of extreme cathection, of an alarming and DSM-quantifiable disappearance of ego boundaries…those who have never been in love like this. 

Neither of us fell off the potato truck yesterday, and we can both distinguish between puppy love and the power of God coursing in and through Us. 

I was full of power…the power to heal myself and my Beloved, when joined with Her awesome power. The power to nurture and pamper and care for Her. I had the strength and motivation of ten men…if directed towards the good of my Love, of Us, of the marvellous present and shining future we envisioned together. 

In that magic synergy of will and intent, the Love we created…the Love we shared…became sanctified, powerful beyond any that could be conceived or manifest individually. 

It was a gift to behold, to experience…together, the only way it can be experienced. It was the pinnacle, the core, the essence. There, we drank the nectar of life, kissed and flowed together as only lovers can. There, we merged at a cellular level, a quantum level, an ethereal level. We were metaphysics in action, God and Goddess, sacred kinetics brought to life. 

There, we blazed. There, we shone. We were eternity. We were harmony.

I have experienced no shallow loves in my life. Every woman was holy, every woman special. The Us we created was always magical and mystical. Yet no other relationship felt this sanctified, this holy, this…ordained. 

No other relationship was this short. Most of my few relationships have had longevity; they shined for years. This is one of the first since my youth that shined for weeks or months. Was it any less eternal than the others? Did we become any less One, merge any less, go as deep or approach each others’ core any less? 

My heart knows the Truth of that, as does Hers…and yours.

Of the myriad beautiful things I learned with this woman, one of the most profound (and obvious) is this; sacred relationships have no precise recipe. They have no timetable or guaranteed lifespan. Their lifespan is up to Us…and to fate, statistics, the Divine, the Tao, whatever you want to call it. No guarantees, despite our best efforts or intentions.

Sacred relationships are a gift…from the Divine, from the Divine within us. Gifts cannot be clung to, just gratefully accepted, allowed to blossom through their lifespan, whatever that may prove to be.

The only response to such a Divine gift is Divine gratitude. My heart overflows with it, as it did (does) with that Divine love.



Love 2.0

I am here to manifest a newer, better love…Love 2.0. All my life experiences have prepared me for this. All my lovers have prepared me for The Lover, for She who will come.

I manifest this new love, sacred and holy, that I may share it with her and the entire world. I make myself ready. One of my previous loves once told me that if I could just operate from the heart  instead of the head that I would be love on a stick. I listened and learned…and am.

This love is within me, within all I behold. It shines forth like a note, waiting for it to resonate and harmonize with another. Should this gift come, I will start every day with renewed joy, dedicating myself to nurturing and sustaining this newfound love.

This love burns in me, hot like the core of the sun, cool like a mountain stream. It contains passion and peace, the space to grow. It contains the strength to ascend, and the vulnerability to be open and present. It knows how to listen, how to feel. It remembers that the one before me is my Beloved. It shines with my essential and authentic truth.

This love abides. It is true, solid like a rock yet flowing like water. This love is meant to be shared, in sacred and holy communion. For a communion it is. When we make love, we unite on a chemical level, on a spiritual level. With this act of love, She will be within every cell of me, Her scent and her essence. Her laugh will echo in my brain and heart and core for eternity.

Eagerly, I prepare the temple for Her, prepare myself – heart and body and soul. I await Her like the king awaits the arrival of his queen, like a lover awaits his special One. I had mistaken my previous loves for The One, but they were merely handmaidens for Her, preparing the way for Her  – teaching me to make artichokes and make love like none other, teaching me to grow food and grow relationships. They taught me well, and I am ready to unite with Her. Together we will make music, explore the world, discover a love like none other.

I won’t wait around for Her, nor spend my time searching. I will live my love, do the things I love , shine my true light and She will find me. I will not mourn past loves or yearn for future ones. I will be love. If I do this, a Shakti will arise naturally to meet my Shiva.

With a sense of calm, I know She will not appear perfect before me, nor I before Her. I will see and invoke that Divine angel in Her, as She will in me. Together we will uncover and reveal the beauty within each other, polish each other like diamonds in the rough.

Knowing love requires constant attention, I will tend my love like a garden, husband it like a herd. Together, we will plant and sow…and reap the bountiful harvest of love. I will move in Her, and She will envelop and move with me, merging in every cell. I will be strong when She requires strength, and gentle when She requires that. I will always respect and honor Her, treat Her like a queen…for She will be my queen, and I will dedicate myself to Her.

I will place her on a pedestal, but I will love and accept Her as She is – a normal human being with strengths and weaknesses. I will adore Her – yet accept every imperfection as part of what makes the unique beauty of Her. I come with an open heart, an open mind, free of expectations or ptions. I come without ego, knowing that in humility and unity we can frow. What could the individual I want that is more important than Us? Nothing.

I lay my head down to sleep, dreaming of Her, although I’m not sure if I’ve met Her yet or not. I lay my heart down, open and free of past loves and pains. Fly away, for  queen comes and we must make ready.


Written Oct 6, 2013…not long before I met the person I thought was Her.

Some Quotidian Highlights from My 2013…

In the previous year (2013), I had some great new experiences:

For the first time, I got my legs into Garundasana (Eagle). 

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This may sound trivial, but it is miraculous, considering I thought this to be a physical impossibility at the start of the year. I am sure my orthopedic docs would consider it impossible, considering the state of my knees and hips, and the numerous injuries they’ve  sustained. It was also virtually impossible, given the state of my mind, spirit, and resultant attitude. Only when I accepted some hard   realities in my life and released them with gentle understanding, did I reach a state where this type of contortion was possible, a state that required not only physical flexibility, but also a more open heart, mind, and spirit.

For the first time, I got my body into Ardha-Padmanasana (Half Lotus).

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This appears to be trivial as well, but is actually a huge step for me. Not only were the physical ‘limitations’ of my knees and hips factors,  but also the series of unexplored muscles in my groin and pelvis, and the (perhaps most importantly) state of gentle acceptance of Self  and others that is a prerequisite to achieving rest in this pose. Like with Eagle, I wasn’t trying to achieve this pose when I did – that attitude  would have precluded any chance of being there. Instead, it just sort of happened as I was being gratefully and gently present in my body,           exploring my ‘edge’ of performance, of being. I never imagined I would ever be able to be in this posture. And it is definitely a posture: physical, mental, and spiritual.

For the first time, I performed Hurdler pose.


Hurdler is an improbable pose, at best. I wasn’t even trying to perform it; the (magical) teacher just gave the cues and I did what she said (without expectations) and…viola! there I was. It was beautiful; only to be experienced from a state of strength, grace, and allowing. Unlike  Eagle and Lotus, I haven’t been able to (or haven’t really tried to) duplicate it since.

I learned to truly rest in Scorpion pose.

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Scorpion is a beautiful pose. In my current expression, my legs just dangle over my head. In theory, some day my spine will be strong and flexible enough to allow my toes to touch my head (second picture). For now, I just be here, where I am. I learned to do this pose first in  2011, and refined it in 2012. It wasn’t until this year that I came to the point where I could genuinely rest in this pose, savoring the energetic benefits of it, and sublime experience of being it. That is huge…to me.

I began blogging.

Although I began sharing notes on MySpace and Facebook (to selected aurdiences) after returning from Afghanistan, it was only this fall that I made an actual blog, and opened my heart to share it with the world. That is an intimate thing, and a big step for me.

I taught my first Yoga Nidra class, and my first classes at the Neurosculpting Institute.

Yoga Nidra is a super-helpful and easily accessible method of deep relaxation. It is immensely helpful and healing to all of us, especially those who have suffered trauma (PTSD, TBI, etc). It is rarely taught of utilized. I gave my first class on Nidra at the Neurosculpting Institute, which was in itself an honor. Teaching (sharing, guiding) such a powerful method is immensely rewarding. I plan to do more of       this in 2014…

I made my first organic smoothie, and got a Ninja Blender.

With my first organic juice and purchase of a juicer in 2012, I followed up in 2013 with acquisition of a Ninja blender and began to make organic smoothies. I love this method, as juicing leaves a lot of unused roughage, stuff I suspect my body needs. Smoothies leave all those good kale and watermelon ‘leftovers,’ giving my digestive system something healthy to chew on. This may sound like another trivial and questionable benefit, but its implications for my lifelong health and performance are incredible. Bring on the phytochemicals…

I got a garlic press and a vegetable steamer tray, and made my first viniagrette dressing and my first artichoke.

Okay, this one is trivial. Perhaps. But to a single guy who had only the basic cooking utensils around, it is important. Now I can make a  viniagrette dressing for my guests, or steam an artichoke or broccoli for my sweetie, if She comes over. That’s huge.

I began to practice slack-lining.


People over fifty rarely (or rarely used to) take up new sports that could result in falls, accidents, or injuries. People over fifty usually experience reduced strength and balance, too. That is not going to be me…at least if I can help slow down that inevitable decline. I got my grandson a Gibbon slackline for Christmas, and we are both learning it together (as we are those shoes with wheels on the                       heels…heelies). Not only is this helpful, but fun. I hope to keep it up, and some day be this incredibly old man doing yoga poses on a slackline.

There were many other great things in my year, perhaps not ‘firsts,’ but beautiful nonetheless:

I reconnected with three old junior/high school friends, one of them one of my best friends of the period, one a lover, and one my first love.

I accepted my lover as she was, with all her ‘faults’ and decided to love her not only in spite of those, but because of them.

I began snowboarding again after a five year break, something I love and previously did a lot of.

I learned a lot more about recent development in neuroscience, and about PTS(D).

Naturally, a little rain must fall as well, if nothing else but as for leaven for the high points.

I broke up with my last girlfriend, someone who made a special impact in my life and development. Even though mutual, it was very hard.

My relationship with my brother shattered, partly in conjunction with the above-mentioned breakup.

Overall, it was a pretty good year – hard, but ultimately good.

Perhaps the most important thing I did not mention, perhaps because it is early and perhaps inappropriate to speculate on the future at this point:

On a Friday the 13th, after more than five months alone, I met the woman who is my koan; in Her presence, my mind stops and I drop instantly into the heart. I met the woman I suspect could be the woman, the partner and soul-mate I have been looking for all my life. If this is true, then meeting Her would be the most important event of the year, if not of my life.


An Addendum/Review/Afterword:

These activities (achievements, experiences) are all relatively mundane, in the big (or even smaller) scale of things. Yet they are important to me and my personal development, or reflective of it. As I look back, the things I’d like to have added to this list are not fascinating journeys or trips to far places, not material or career related. The ones I want to have on next year’s list are about service, to society, to others, to myself. They will be examples of where I helped in practical, tangible ways to make this world a better place.

Sure, making the world a better place starts with making yourself a better, nicer person; I know that. Yet I find a desire (need?) to effect change in more positive ways, more directly helpful ways. Still, the three primary foundations of positive change are effecting it in self, in family, and in intimate relationships. From that basis, we can then branch out to help others.

I am excited to see how next year’s list looks, and to experience the things I plan to add to the list.

Stay tuned…

“Some people pray to God: be here now to help me. I pray: help me to be here now.”

Mark-Francis Mullen