Table of Contents


Mistakes. Marriage was a mistake I needed to make. The wrong choice made for the right reason: to make progress. I can't make progress with love without mistakes. Mistakes are essential. They're what I learn from. Spiritual progress keeps me from making the same mistake over and over. Recreational drugs were another mistake I needed to make. Writing as a career was another, as was homelessness. My lives are littered with them.

Marriage was never for me. There was never a time I dreamed of settling down, raising a family. Marriage was something other people dreamed of. It seemed odd to me, a little distasteful. The words wife and husband always seemed unpleasantly presumptuous. A little too close to declaring ownership. I never wanted children. The thought made me wince. I didn't have an alternative I thought would be better. I just knew getting married and settling down was not the right thing for me to do.

Grow or die. I didn't want to grow up. Grow yes. I wanted to grow. But grow up implies an endpoint. Now I have grown up all the way. I'm a grownup now. Growing's all done. That means no more progress with love. That is spiritual death. Once I stop growing I start dying. Humans are the only animal like that.

Starting over. So I never grew up. I kept starting over, kept reinventing myself. I got to be a successful bureaucrat in Florida, excellent pay and great future prospects, and I chucked all that and moved to Boulder to study holistic healing. The holistic healing turned out to be a cult forming around a charismatic leader, so after giving it a really good shot, 12 years, I said fuck it, this is not for me and jumped ship. Then I went on a big road trip, checking out places to live. I never considered what to do for a living. I just looked for places that seemed conducive to making progress with love. I picked Seattle and reinvented myself as a partner dancer and dance DJ. Now almost twenty years after my arrival I've reinvented myself here as someone who lives alone. After living in other other people's homes since 1979. I'm already looking forward to whatever's next.

Hired gun. Here in Seattle I felt tired of writing as a hired gun. I tried to do other things for a living but kept getting drawn back to writing. It was easy for me, and good money, so I ended up going back to it. I now see that that was a mistake, but it was an inevitable mistake. Like marriage, it was a mistake I needed to make.

Lost horizon. I got successful at writing again. This time success overwhelmed me. I blame the success. Something made me lose my sense of adventure. Something made me go soft. Maybe it was the fear of old age. Whatever it was, I lost my horizon. Here's a sad waltz about that.

Here in Seattle, in my late 40s, I finally caved and thought, well maybe they were right all along, maybe I need to get married and settle down. I'm not getting any younger, after all; what am I gonna do when I get old? So I got married.

Dying. Marriage was comfortable, a miserable ease. I worked in the yard and put money in the bank. For the first time ever, I traveled as a tourist. A back door tourist, the cheesiest kind. I really got into alcohol, all three kinds: beer wine and booze. I got a CO2 tap and had my own keg of fresh beer from Big Time and elsewhere down in my beer cellar. I brewed my own beer down at Gallagher's. I hosted wine tasting dinners for friends. I bought high-end scotch. I got so comfortable that for the second time in my life I quit growing. As I stopped growing I started dying. I started treating everyone in my life badly. I became an asshole. I was no saint before, but I got downright nasty with the people I should've been kind and loving with. I wrote them out of my life; they're gone. I gained weight, drank excessively, and became dull and listless. I was circling the drain. It felt like my life was over.

Waking up a little. Then one day in February of 2006 I woke up just a little bit, enough to take an objective look at my life. I saw that I'd become an overweight asshole, unhappy in a marriage I'd sabotaged by withdrawing from it. I'd withdrawn but done nothing else; I had no motivation to fix my marriage or leave it. I had no motivation period; I was a loser. On that day in February, meditation seemed like the answer, but my meditation had been feeling flabby and useless, just like me. I had started thinking about finding a new meditation teacher or a group to join, when something unexpectedly strong inside me rose up and said NO! YOU KNOW ENOUGH! FIX YOUR OWN DAMN MEDITATION! That was the little bit of waking up: hearing that inner voice that so clearly wanted me to work hard and make a better life. I didn't know it at the time, but that was the voice of my wisdom.

Weight loss. Guided by my wisdom, I began meditating more & better. I started doing other things that strong inner voice said to do. I created a diet for myself, and over the course of a year I lost about 50 pounds, most of which I've kept off ever since. My blood pressure went down, and my knees stopped hurting. Amazing what a little weight loss can do.

Walking. As part of the weight loss program, I started walking, a lot. Walking would become one of my new media for meditation, tho' I didn't know it at the time. I just knew it felt great to walk. I started going on camping trips every other weekend to some campground where I would walk for hours every day. I wanted out of the house so badly; the camping trips were just the ticket.

TV. That strong voice inside forced me to look at how I spent my time. TV was a useless time suck, so I stopped watching TV, and I also stopped reading fiction. I didn't need other people's stories, I was once again working on creating my own. I sat in the dark alone instead of watching TV every evening. In those dark sits I could feel strength really beginning to grow in me. I was steeping myself in my wisdom, listening as carefully as I knew how for what to do or not do next.

Meditation. Because I was in touch with my wisdom, I was able to meditate, to wake up just a little in those dark sits, even though I was still an asshole and a heavy drinker at the time. My wisdom was showing me how to meditate, how to make my shitfaced sits worthwhile. My struggle with alcohol was yet to come; it'd be a doozy. As I sat there in the dark, I could feel strength building in me. Sometimes it was so strong I was trembling in my chair with power and delight. In those days there was a feeling I had every time I woke up, from a nap or a night's sleep. It was a wave of pleasure washing over me, as if I had returned to the waking state trailing clouds of glory.

Leaving. I had to work up the courage to leave my marriage, and it was not a pretty process. For years I wished I could do it over and be more up-front, and kinder, gentler. Now I realize I was just doing what I needed to do. I didn't have the internal resources I had later, when I wanted a do over. I had only rudimentary connection with my wisdom. I was just getting started with muscle testing. Body sensing was a dream of the future. I wasn't able to grok my body's feelings and sensations, much less explore the richness and nuance. I moved out in October 2008 and started my life over again in Crown Hill. I'm so very grateful life was still there for me.

Now the world makes a lot more sense. I understand the world a lot better now, thanks to thousands of hours spent meditating, much of it grappling with koans my wisdom gave me.