open wide the doors

open wide the doors
this one and this one and this one
and don’t forget that one
open them wide, fling them, waste no time
nothing is forbidden.

you don’t even remember
what you left inside there
you can’t quite recall
the delight the surprise
the warmth of each treasure.

each one locked away
safely hidden behind the doors
while you manage the mindless particulars.
i am that little devil on your shoulder
here to tell you the truth though:

you are running out of time.
forget about the heavy wagon you keep pulling
just leave it in the road, right there, for now
and run to those doors
open them all, now, 

while you still can.

epic journeys

veru11_28_18I stumbled upon a surprising and happy memory the other day.  Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia popped up in a post on Glenn and Lynn’s engaging Just A Bit Further blog.

I crossed paths with Peggy’s Cove many years ago while in the midst of an epic journey, double-handing a sailboat on a very long voyage. I wrote a little bit about it before here and here.

I carry many cherished images in my mind from that journey, Peggy’s Cove among them. Even more than the treasure trove of mental images, though, it’s the stories I love. In the end, it’s the elemental experience itself – the challenges and  unknowns I faced and weathered – that I prize.

That journey changed my life. It changed me.

There were so many life lessons and character forgings I could not quantify them.

That is what happens with epic journeys.

Not all epic journeys are lengthy ones. Sometimes it’s a few days or even a few hours. You know when you’ve been on one.

And every single time, you come out richer, wiser, closer to your own soul.

veru11_28_18bEarlier this year, I spent a couple of days hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail in California. I met some thru-hikers while I was there, and later I followed some of them via their vlogs. Talk about epic journeys!

It is amazing to see how these folks change and grow and adapt and meet challenges and face fear and injury and make friends as they hike those 2,650 miles.

A few years ago, I met a young man who set out to walk across the United States. His whole mission was to promote kindness – to oneself, to those we know, to strangers. Sharing a moment with him a little past his 1,000-mile mark in his solo trek made a surprising impact on me – a real-time glimpse into the power of his experience. By the way, he’s still on that mission, even though that particular journey’s over. Check out his website, Go Greater Good.

There’s travel, and then there’s epic journeys. Those are the ones that test you. The ones that demand you confront yourself. Learn your own amazing strength. Face your fears. See what really matters. Grow your resilience, fortitude, creativity, self confidence, determination, humility, compassion, capacity for joy.

They remind you that your own life is an epic journey.

I don’t think it’s about doing anything extreme or exotic, it’s mainly putting yourself in situations that call on you to respond with parts of yourself you may not know so well or that you resist.

Or maybe forgot.



I count curiosity as one of my core values. Over time, however, I have more and more retreated toward safety and sameness to the exclusion of curiosity. It doesn’t produce positive results. Reading books will only get you so far. Where we have core values, we’d best indulge.

It’s a funny thing – how easy it is to let your world get small. I understand what happened. There were forces at work that drove me into a safe, controlled, uninspiring space. The trouble came when I failed to emerge from that sheltered space.

If on some level I was seeking protection from hurtful things in life, that shelter as a long-term solution provides no respite. It is itself painful.  It’s not being fully alive. And it’s exhausting.

So, I am looking at making a move, at making my world big once again. I have been looking at it for months, not quite able to make the jump. It’s just too easy not to jump, and I am clearly fearful of the jump.

What precisely is scary about the jump? That I’d really like to understand. Is it just the unknown, the unpredictability? For Pete’s sake, it’s not like it’s outer space. Or is it the break itself, letting go of what you so thoroughly know, the comforts of habit? Maybe it’s failure, or perhaps success, that looms frighteningly before me. Not sure. And I can’t see how any of it really matters. Still, the anxiety is there.

Meantime, there goes life. From my window, I can see it. There it goes. I know it’s out there.

There’s just no excuse. Even I know that once I’ve jumped, everything will start clicking again. I am wired for it.

I think it’s a little like parachuting, and the whole thing would be a lot easier if the instructor went with me. There is, however, no instructor. Just me. And life.

good things

downsized_0421031331My little metronome goes beep beep beep, and my feet keep time with it. It’s the perfect cadence, and everything just works. I feel like I could just go and go and go. Why oh why have I not been running? It is my fix. I missed it and didn’t know it. I forgot how things click into place while I’m running.

Ai Weiwei bicycles installation

And other good things. The IMA – Indianapolis Museum of Art. The giant fountain out front, Robert Indiana’s LOVE, and Ai Weiwei’s According to what? exhibition.


I was taken by surprise to be moved by “Straight,” but then, how can one not be moved by that?

And you can’t help but be amazed by the artist’s abilities. He works in wood, or marble, or rebar, or tea, or ancient pottery, or chairs, or bicycles. He seems to know what to do with them, and how to do it. And always burdened with his message. How does one get that? Is it just being unafraid? Is it not feeling barriers?  The photography made me feel the same way. Here this fellow is out of focus, but I’m good with it, it tells the story.

Robert Irwin's Light and Space at the IMA
Robert Irwin’s Light and Space at the IMA

And then there’s the things he says. Like

“For artists and intellectuals, what is most needed is to be clear about social responsibility, because that’s what most people automatically give up. Just to protect yourself as an individual is very political. You don’t have to march on Tiananmen, but you have to be clear-minded, to find your own means of self expression.”

Watching for stars tonight, but, aha, not exactly in the country anymore I’ve discovered.

beyond that

IMG_7990It’s kinda crazy that I have to pick up and move and start a new job in a new place and not know anyone at all in order to find out that everything is exactly the same. And so, one finds themselves looking beyond the edges of the damned magnifying glass that’s been poised for too damned long over just ahem themselves. Because that, after all, would be the common thread. It was me there, and it is still me here.

IMG_7987So time to move on. Enlarge the scope of things, as it were. Who knows what’s true on Wikipedia, but I like to think that it’s an Einstein thing, this notion of somehow giving yourself over to something larger than yourself. At the very least, “widen your circle of compassion,” eh?

IMG_8001I am still not sure what form this is all going to take. I’m just going with it.

march eight two thousand one

We had named it long before we ever set eyes on it. To the boys it was a certainty; to me it was just a dream. Then, one day we drove by at 55 miles per hour. It was AW who turned the car around, drove up to it, and knew it for what it was. It was our place, our dream, our hope, A’s harbor, and J’s low-tech farm. To AW, it was perhaps unfettered messing about with old cars. It was every invention the boys had ever imagined. To me it was … open windows in the summer, birds wheeling overhead, space, time, freedom, paint on canvas, love.

And to all of us it was a delightful, unfolding mystery. We had no idea at the start of it all what a mystery it was. The house itself was at once a naked statement and a truly guarded secret. The past it held was hidden from us, but tempted us and drew us in. The land and its relationships, its actions, seemed so apparent from the road as we drove past, but proved to be a complex puzzle and, in a way, one that couldn’t be solved – though that was the daily battle.

Now, though still new to this life, we are immersed in it. We find that after all the other paths we walked down, and there were many, this one is new and it’s fresh and it’s a little scary.

One day, as the windows of my bedroom blinked without opinion upon me poised silently on my knees, I heard two words. My heart paces a little now as I think of it.

I am still wondering about those words. I’ve waited a while to comply, but comply I must. Halfway will not do the job.

Pray. Write. It almost frightens me to say it.

Pray. Write.

The prayers flowed, but the ink would not. Write. Write about what? Why should I write? What do I have to say? What, may I ask, do You have to say? There are many messages I could send with my pen. Unfortunately, it has been my conviction that the truths I’ve arrived at would just drift off into space rather than explode with effect on my targets.

Perhaps, though, it is possible that a finger is poised near the veil, ready to lift it off and let one see. I suppose that means I should be very careful about my target and my intent. I think I know, however, that it is not my intent at all here. And not knowing or understanding the will of that intent, but in humility and fear, I will write with love, out of love. Perhaps I may even find that it is I who wears the veil.

Writing is a journey in itself.

Words discovered hand-written on the two sides of a single page buried in what appeared to be a new notebook, the one I took with me to start my new job.

Pray. Write.

waves in the dark

I lay alone in this embracing bed, listening to the steady, relentless pacing of the waves. They come no matter what. Lake Michigan, deep and dark, mysterious and intimate, speaks to me beyond the safety of my gable room. In the dark, I get up to stand at the window. I can see the night-lit waves, the white of the rollers driving, completely unstoppable,  to the shore, pushed by a not-taking-no-for-an-answer wind.

The winter cold, the wind, the night. It changes nothing. You just navigate it.

I feel my hand on the helm, my body both tired and alert, cold all through. Almost frightened, but comfortable just the same, trusting in the dark – my compass, the sails, the rudder, the charts, my self. The boat just goes. I feel the cold wind on my face. I ache. I scan the dark, all I see and feel is the rolling of those waves. My eye watches the fill of the sail, the cockpit lifts me up, we slide and skid along as the night black water presses us up, up and then dishes us out for just a moment before the next push. The water hisses.

We are all alone here, me and the low light of the compass, in this vast, mysterious plane of constant motion. I have what I need. I am alive.


on the road

IMG_7279I nervously but happily wend my way down I-75, south, heading into Ohio. I have a couple of ramps and a box of straps stowed in the back of the pickup, lent to me by my buddy just before I left town. I’m on a mission, and it gives me a sense of confidence where I have often had little.

I stop for gas in a place strange to me. Hopping out of the truck, I realize I don’t need a jacket and there is no snow anywhere.

I negotiate the winding multi-lane pathway that is Dayton, and then just south of there, roll off on the exit and head for the truck stop.

Sure enough, there he is. My son stands larger than life, clad neck to foot in a yellow jumpsuit near his motorcycle. He has ridden it up from south Florida. It was one cold trip, and I can easily see the cold is not out of him. He has the Florida tan, but his young face is grizzled with the ride.

His numerous bags and various pieces of equipment are spread out in a long line next to the bike. He  arrived about 15 minutes ahead of me, and used the time to unload the bike while he tried to warm up. There is his tent, his camp stove, bags of tools, helmet, gloves. An umbrella. I guess you just never know when you’re going to need an umbrella.

I pull up with the truck and jump out to get him inside my arms. This whole cross country motorcycle thing is hard on a mom, you know. And here it is winter, and no one sees motorcycles on a good day, much less when no one really expects to see one at all.

People are looking at the small spectacle of his journey. One gnarly aging man hovers close, drawn into the experience as if by a magnet. He sports a smile, a work jacket that lets me know his name is John, and a black cap that announces that his boss is Jesus.

We set the ramps up, and between my son and John, the big bike is easily rolled up into the back of my pickup and set at an angle to fit. The box of straps is broken open, and the bike is tied down. I go in to the truck stop to fuel up with coffee, and then we head north to Michigan where we are expecting rain and freezing rain after the heavy snows we have lately received. Our new friend John gives us a happy nod as we pull out.

And then there’s about 5 hours of unadulterated one-on-one time, learning again who this amazing person is, who he is becoming. It’s both honest and brash, and gentle and tentative as we tread into each other’s lives again.

He puts his favorite CD’s in, and points out his favorite songs. He revels in the warmth of the truck after the many hours of frigid riding he’s been doing. He’s excited about where the road’s going. And so am I.

What a gift. I am startled when I look at him, to see the adult in his face at the same time I can still see the child. What a gift to have this opportunity to discover him again where he’s at on life’s road – to see him and share in this very moment. I am continually astounded and privileged to be witness to the unfolding of my children – to glimpse the soul inside of them. Simply amazing.

dreams return

handwriting practice, 8 yrs., J.

Today as I drove along, lost in my own thoughts, humming to music on the radio, it suddenly occurred to me that I really could dream again, that parts of me were indeed  beginning to engage on dream thoughts. I am delighted.

My dream thoughts are still murky, but I see trends.

Reading the log of my long-ago journey triggered all sorts of things for me. I had completely forgotten that I had taken the guitar, and played it, on the trip. I had totally forgotten that I used to easily understand the MAFORs and the Beaufort scale. That I routinely considered ebb and flow and riptides when planning a day’s journey. All the blue whales, humpbacks, belugas, pods of pilot whales that I had seen, the jet swooshing down the Saguenay, the bells I heard that made me cry below St. Anne de Beaupre. That I had seen Perce Rock from the sea.

I looked at images of Perce Rock online. I had a memory of it, but I was still astonished to realize I had seen it up close, from the sea. And, indeed, that day, in my log I noted my strange feelings about it – the realization that I was truly on an intrepid, mysterious adventure. As if all the ruggedness, the challenges, the unknowns had somehow escaped my notice until that day.

It would be kind of cool to see Perce Rock again.  Yeah, so there are places I want to go. And there are things I’d like to do.

Yes, the beginnings of dreams again. At last.

whales, waterspouts, wind

chart with course and fixes marked on it

from the log, down in Lake Erie

from the log, off the coast of Nova Scotia north of Owl’s Head

So with all this sorting and packing, I am discovering all sorts of little treasures, lost memories, happy mementos. Yesterday, I chanced upon the only remaining pages of the log I kept many, many years ago when I set out on a long sailing journey, double-handing a wooden yawl. It made me happy to see it.



For some reason, all that remains are some copied pages of the log, spanning about three months of time. The log picks up at Harbor Island heading into the North Channel at the top of Lake Huron and covers the trip to Owl’s Head Bay on the Atlantic coast of  Nova Scotia, via the St. Lawrence Seaway. The rest of the log, and the originals, are gone.

The rest of the log covered the rest of the trip, from Owl’s Head Bay all the way down the Atlantic coast to the Bahamas, then sojourning there for a few months before returning up the coast to the Hudson River and the Erie Canal. Those pages are forever gone, deliberately burnt in a fire long ago. Wish I had them now, though, because the incredible memories are getting fuzzy.

pen & ink I made of one of the views while sitting in harbor
pen & ink I made of one of the views while sitting in harbor


Anyway….. Fun to find these pages. I can see as I leaf through them how I grew comfortable with the cruising life, and how I enjoyed every damned day no matter the weather or the difficulties. Whales, waterspouts, wind, tides, locks, storms, mountains, fog, freighters, submerged rocks, cities, isolation, birds, people – it’s all there.

I was very alive, very aware. The whole point was the journey. It still is.