Posts Tagged ‘ancestors’


December 14, 2011

“No!” My mom shouted at the cat, which promptly ran into the house through the open door.

It was a fraught morning, the moving guys ready to roll, the house empty after 50 years of life there.

It was not our cat; grey and white; lovely, really.  We had never had a cat.

My brother and I had spent the day before and late into the night boxing up and tossing out, giving away and sorting out.  The last box we’d found contained the last of my old papers.  I hadn’t lived in this house since 1978.  Circa 1975, apparently, I was writing short fiction about suicide.  Nice.  That short story was right next to my summer camp photo book and a picture book about Dachau.  Nice.  Late at night, on the last night of anything, things can get a little wonky.

My earliest memory is a view of arching trees on the windshield of the moving truck that took us to the house my mom was now leaving.  Those grand Dutch Elms had long ago fallen to disease.  I never much liked my childhood house, but I loved those trees, the scream of summer cicadas, the gold-green light dappled below the leafy tunnel and was heartbroken when the Village of Lincolnwood chain-sawed them all down.

I followed the grey and white cat through my childhood house.  It went to my childhood bedroom, empty but for paw-prints of furniture embedded in the carpet.  I followed the cat to my parents’ bedroom, the gold shag carpet sad, worn out.

I followed the cat and imagined that it was a spirit, gathering spirit and releasing ghosts, completing a long chapter that was now closing.  I followed the cat back out the front door and down the walk, myself walking out for the last time from my childhood house.  The cat lay on its back for a moment in the morning sun on a cold, clear Chicago December Friday, and then it sauntered off down the sidewalk, heading east, completing something for me, with me—free spirits.

I led the way at the wheel of my sister-in-law’s 4×4, heading east, with the moving truck behind me.  The re-grown trees arched in the windshield behind me.  We had pulled up from the west, all those years ago, and now we pulled away to the east.

Transition is hard, but my mom is happy in her new place.  And I’m happy for her.

Namaste, BD



December 7, 2011

Andy and I are walking up Fryman canyon.  It’s a splendid morning, the mountains are clearly wrinkled across the verdant valley, echoing our own slowly aging faces.  This is Sunday in the park sans George in my LA circa 2011.

“This is a perfect moment,” I say, stopping to appreciate the view.  “Our kids haven’t yet left and my parents are still alive, I’m halfway up this hill with you…”

“It is a perfect moment,” she says as we walk on together.  I grow a tiny bit sad, “But it’s not your perfect moment—your parents have already passed and…”

“For me, every moment is a perfect moment,” Andy says, simply.  I take this in.

“Then you’re happy and this truly is a perfect moment.  And I’ve nothing to say.”

(except, perhaps, Namaste)

Native Spirit

November 23, 2011

What do the feathers of the fallen say?

On a branded monetized sanitized unoccupied day?

Due to the nature of entanglement, we’re best offering Thanks for this moment.

We’ve been every sort of bad and every sort of good, we’re the violence and we’re the hood.

The sacred and profane, they kinda get together, but in the light of day there’s an inclement “whether?”

So we run run away, yet there’s a luminescent tether…

Continue Reading

Peeling the Gibson (or, Why Brave Men Run in my Family)

September 21, 2011

“Gibson.”  Def.: A martini garnished with a cocktail onion.

I heard that Mel Gibson is planning a movie about Judah Maccabee, the Che Guevara of Hanukah (click for an amusing interview with Mel by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic).  I heard many Jews are outraged.  I hesitate to write about this because you don’t want to encourage bad behavior by paying attention to it.  But just as Mel can’t control himself when he gets loaded, sometimes I just can’t control my fingers at the laptop.



MEL GIBSON HOLLERS at a WOMAN COP.  We only hear fragments:

Continue Reading

Growing up as America

July 6, 2011

Here we are in July, two days after America’s 235th birthday.  Given that parenting requires us to consider issues such as autonomy, attachment, independence and development, perhaps it’s worth zooming out for a moment and considering our current state of development as a parenting zeitgeist and as a country.

Like stars forming from dust and later burning out and blowing up into dust again, countries are born and they also die.  The Roman Empire has dwindled to a tourist destination (an every-other-month cover of Travel and Leisure) while the sun pretty much does set on the British Empire; meanwhile China and India are growing vigorously toward dominance like well fed children… rising once again (if you look at long-term history).

So, where is America in all this?  America seems to be a country struggling to come out of a very long adolescence.  As a psychologist I have seen that insecure attachment leads to distrust, to problems with relationships—sometimes to avoidance of others, at other times to control and dominance and manipulation of others.  At a national level we have oscillated between isolationism and pre-emptive attacks on perceived enemies.

Continue Reading

Waiting for the End of the World… on the couch

June 1, 2011

We’ve made it well past May’s doomsday prognostications and mercifully into June.  Recent Rapturous predictions of the world’s end have, once again, proven to be greatly exaggerated.  So, now that we’ve dodged yet another kooky bullet, is there anything beyond mirth, snarkiness or the need to invent a new-new-Armageddon math to be learned from this age-old trope?

The freaky guy with an “End is Near” sign is, arguably, an archetype.  If so, Jung’s thinking would suggest that a doomsday figure (Grim Reaper, for example) coils embedded in our individual and collective memories, in our bones or at least in our more esoteric metaphysical collective unconscious.  The power of this archetype (think Darth Vader) is one way to make sense of how much media coverage an unlikely, and now failed, prediction was able to generate; even for a hundred million bucks (what Harold Camping spent) it would be hard for most multinational corporations to get so many of us to be aware of the same thing, even if it was to collectively joke about the same joke.

Continue Reading

“Three Sisters,” One Parent

April 27, 2011

Andy and I recently attended a performance of Chekhov’s Three Sisters.  As I mature, I find myself moved and fascinated by many of the things that once bored me to tears as a young, angry and impatient rebel with an allowance—a youth where I had the luxury of cynicism and grandiose artistic ambition, followed by a life of hard work in the wake of my father losing all his money in what turned out to be a blessing, at least for me, of the most liberating magnitude.

As I offer up these blog words in the service of love and encouragement for us all to be our best Selves (as parents and as “parents” of our shared world, as well as nurturers of, and participants in, its unfolding consciousness), I found Chekhov’s words, as well as his temporal and political context, incredibly resonant—prescient, modern and eternal.

The first director of Three Sisters was Stanislavski, the pioneer of naturalistic acting that came to be called “the method.”  Out of this school of radical authenticity, and interiority, on stage, came Marlon Brando, James Dean and later Pacino, Hoffman, Streep.  In a world of overwhelming falseness, sometimes the quest for what’s real must unfold behind the third wall of a stage… art itself being a living remnant of communing with spirit, with the Truth of what just is… of what we cannot, by our brains, hope to know.

As parents, we are often hammered by the mundane and conforming (not to mention race-to-nowhere fear-and-money-driven competition), and thus we must continually unearth and give flight to the transcendent and the luminescent, the compassionate and the connected, to be found and lived in the small moments of our big-enough lives.

Continue Reading

Dr. Rogers’ Neighborhood

April 13, 2011

I met Carl Rogers in a bookshop in Paris.  Well, I guess I didn’t actually “meet” him, but I did encounter him, by way of one of his books, “On Becoming a Person.”

I was on my honeymoon, having been accepted into a doctoral program in psychology, knowing that my days working thanklessly at a movie studio were numbered, and living a free man in Paris feeling through a magical string of lovely September days, when I wandered into a charming bookstore with an open heart.

When it comes to ideas, I love a vast and wild tangle of possibilities, but when it comes to shopping, I hate malls and too many choices all lined up by focus-group-driven statistics to guess my behavior, exploit my fear-gripped psychology and divest me of my capital (be it time, money or spirit).  Thus when it comes to shopping, I love small places that are run by curators of things—shoe-sellers with soul, booksellers who pick a few gems.

Continue Reading


December 22, 2010

Yesterday was the winter solstice and on this year it coincided with a lunar eclipse at midnight December 21st—at least on the west coast of North America.  Whatever this portends, as we approach Christmas I thought maybe we might dedicate this post to unity.  And in the spirit of unity—a story harking back 96 years…

World War One commenced in August of 1914 and by December 23rd the war was mired down in abject horror and misery; trenches of the British stood sixty yards from trenches of the Germans.  Rats, death and hardening mud were mainly what soldiers on both sides stood to get for Christmas.

Battered troops on both sides of the equation were losing their mojo for fighting and a live-and-let-live spirit was arising out of the broken lethargy, worrying British High Command (who hung out 27 miles away from the trenches in a chateau).  Suddenly, little candle-lit Christmas trees appeared along the crest of the German trenches against the darkening sky.

Continue Reading

Thanks for giving

November 24, 2010

Okay, so now that we’ve paved paradise and put up a parking lot… and then put a farmers market on top of that (and called it macaroni), where are we, really, this Thanksgiving?  Was this land really made for you and me?  And if so, why?

Sure the ghosts of Native Americans haunt and hover around our feast-laden tables and around the strip malls and tract homes that may have once been sacred lands, but where do we go from here if we are to live free of fear, guilt, shame and desire?  What might we learn from the spirits that surround us and inform our country’s karma, spirits which may well be our country’s karma?

In the context of impermanence, who can really be said to “own” a land?  Druids, Saxons, Gauls, Brits, Germans, Yanks, Indians, Native Peoples?  And what about when the icy fingers of glaciers tighten their grip once again upon a land truly owned by no human being?  We may, for all we know, ourselves be the spiritual descendents of vanished beings who have returned to inhabit confused western bodies and minds, to inherit the wind of this place and time.  Perhaps this might help account for our country’s general state of stuckness and malaise.

Continue Reading