The Many Words of Love

Sansaku: The Many Words of Love


I promised Chyako I’d sing the song on her birthday. Since I often change the words, this is only one version of many. And because of this, I’ve never been able to memorize and the lines come and go.

The song sounds like a chant, I sing with a hush; there are changes and repetitions, but the three-note chord progression stays the same. It’s like singing a spell and trying to weave strong feeling. I want the mood contagious.

The words are meant to be symbolic, the language of the soul. I’m singing about the love that goes beyond me and learning how to listen. The source of all we know.

I don’t practice songs, because I sing in solitude not company. She knows what it means when I do. I might have to sing the country style song next year on her birthday, but she’s the kind who opens all of her presents early. I’d better be prepared.

The Many Words of Love

The lessons that we live/ Living side by side/ Even when you’re gone/ Whisper in my ear… The many words of love/ I know that you can hear/ The many words of love.

The language lives in time/ And never seems to stop/ A circle and a rhyme/ The source of all we know… The many words of love/ How I learned to feel/ The many words of love.

I try my best to know/ And still I can forget/ But I see it in your face/ I’m learning all the time… The many words of love, the language of the soul/ The many words of love/ The many words of love.

Chyako tells me the country song sounds more like Woody Guthrie than Blake Sheldon. I can turn it into Dylan. It’s another one of my songs that changes. Like most of my songs, this version is just one of many. I think I’ll add a verse.

Songs don’t read, but the words do. I read out loud, very slowly, with a pronounced rhythm and beat. Knowing Chyako’s headed for a trip down the Grand, I tell her I’ll be singing them. “Just wanted you to know. It’s your birthday.”

I’ve Given It All to You

I’ve given it all to you/ I’ve given it all to you/ My pockets are empty/ But my heart’s feeling full/ I’ve given it all to you.

I never would do as I was told/ I ran away from home/ My life was my own/ How could I know? I’d give it up for you. I’ve given it all to you…

I gambled with money/ Wasted my time/ Lost more than I had to lose/ It doesn’t matter now/ There’s nothing left to lose/ I’ve given it all to you. I’ve given it all to you…

I used to keep what I felt inside/ Nothing that I would give away/ Then you come along/ Don’t even ask/ And I give-it-all to you. I’ve given it all to you…

My voice quivers with emotion and I whisper-sing a few new lines: My pockets aren’t empty, which is strange/ Have more than I had before/ The more I give, the more keeps coming back/ I’ll give-it-all to you…

The thing about dreams, even songs, they need associative commentary and life context in order to bring the symbolic meaning to life. What matters is meaningful.

I don’t like to sing or speak in public, but don’t mind the exposure that comes with words on cyber waves. I just want it real.








Shake It Up

Sansaku: Shake It Up


Anais Nin practiced writing what she wished and most wanted to say. She often quoted Jung, “Proceed from the dream outward.” She’s all about connection.

I love opening her books at random. I have The Novel of the Future on my desk. She combines the mysteries of an oriental city with dreams and timelessness. “Memory makes a journey.”

The way I understand Japanese aesthetics, landscapes need to be entered from many directions, seasons, time and weather. It’s why stories can be read from the middle or the end.

Anais used the image of a labyrinth. “The unconscious is a maze and the conscious mind will find, there are many detours.”

Hokusai crafted thirty-six views of Fuji, near and far, out to sea. No wonder impressionists copied his realistic abstractions. He seemed to know what mattered. It changed the same from place to place.

I didn’t know that artists in Edo felt free to change their names and did so with abandon. Hokusai gave himself thirty. This is worthy of contemplation. Great Wave. Under the Bridge. Mountain Lake Reflection. I can think of many.

Corder didn’t have as many names as Hokusai, but few were easier to judge. He had shadow projection written all over him. He called himself a reflective personality, which meant people saw themselves in him. And not the side they knew.

Besides looking like a cerebral satyr, he flaunted convention and was completely unrepentant. He used charm like a dark art and when he noticed my deviance-display invited me to join.

His relationship with fate was developed and while I lacked growth-rings, fate-lines, character and wrinkles, he knew I had potential. Psychology maps the levels and stages of personality growth. The insane to the spiritual. Fate becomes amour.

The idea of depth and development is archetypal. Articulation and differentiation take place at every level of integration and there many types and ways. The path becomes the story.

When Picasso painted Gertrude Stein, she said it didn’t resemble her. He said, “It will, it will.” Anais said the secret of abstraction is in the selection of important details. We live in a world of too-much-information. Meaning flooded out.

I spent summers in the mountains for most of twenty years. Money doesn’t count for much up there and city-life looks small and insignificant. What bothered me down there? I can’t remember. We brought two hits of acid.

We were camped at a lake named for the rock that was used to start fires. Beauty gets in trouble. The place was so over-used and abused, camping was forbidden. We respected the lake, not the law, and hid our camp. We set up the tent in the dark.

We packed early to disguise our trespass and spent the day as interlopers. From the far side of the lake, we saw our backpacks leaning against a perfectly weathered old limber pine. Waves of clouds crossed the ocean in the sky.

Hokusai says the image is a good one, “Choose a new name.” Kumo is a word that means both clouds and spider. Nami means wave. Kumo-nami practices dream yoga. His closed eyes open.

Anais wrote, “It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see.” Shake it up.













I Shouldn’t Be Surprised

Sansaku: I Shouldn’t Be Surprised


Certain moments resemble who we are and they reflect significant soul dimensions which mirror our entire history and life.

We wake each night in dreams to find ourselves in a strange reality. It’s like entering into someone’s else’s consciousness. We don’t know where we are or how we got there. It’s very mysterious, like destiny and fate.

She arrived in Buffalo, seventeen and still in high school. We walked at night along the shore of Lake Erie. The Niagara Mohawk powerplant with it’s towering twin smokestacks reminded her of the lights on the mosques and minarets. She’d spent her junior year in Turkey and this was her first night back.

I asked what she learned. “I’m no longer an Oregonian, I’m not even an American.” She’d lost her nationalism and found universal belonging as a woman. We talked about types of people and those who are kin.

The house where we stayed in Dunkirk had bats in the attic. The woman who lived there went half mad when the bats invaded her dreams. Adrienne had the same dream and I woke to her scream. We talked for an hour. She asked, “What does it mean?”

I’d had my own dream that night, one that repeated for years. I was high on the roof of a temple, directly over the door, terrified of falling. It makes no sense, I stood-up to hold-on. I would need to come-down.

I’m not in control of dreams, even when I’m conscious. It’s a bit like riding the drunk-driving river with Corder. Then comes the dream gap and when I look down this time, it’s not all that far. I jump and land. People have grown small plots, like the rice fields in Japan.

I had just finished a book by von Franz, Puer Aeternus.   The clouds on the cover were familiar and so was the subtitle, “A Psychological Study of the Adult Struggle with the Paradise of Childhood.” It was a bit disconcerting. I fit the type, too close for comfort.

She used St. Exupery and his beloved Little Prince for the analytic material. Garon had given me the book in high school. I practically knew it by heart. Although I hadn’t crashed in the desert, just yet, I would. It’s what happens to puers and those who try to fly.

I got a call from Durango. A madman moved into my cabin. He told everyone I’d given him permission, I hadn’t. I saw it as an omen. On my desk his cracked marble sculpture – a man holding fast to the tail of a fish who has swallowed his feet. It’s a troubling mandala.

Since consciousness and light are practically inter-changeable, according to particle physics we exist as solids with substance to our being, but also as waves, traveling at the speed of light, across endless oceans of time-space consciousness.

The leitmotif question in many lives is the one about potential, what happened? I talked with Corder, how he dealt with the come-downs in life. His fall from grace was mythic.

“Do you know the parable of two waves?” I didn’t and wouldn’t have told him if I did. His stories and mine weren’t the same. He made it short this time. “As they approached the shore, one said he feared the crashing. The other said, don’t forget, we’re the ocean.”

When I returned to Durango, I learned I had a new job at the college and thought about the dream. I was coming down to earth. But I wasn’t quite there yet. I might have found my small plot and planted the field of dreams, but I didn’t know the karmic seeds would sprout so soon. I shouldn’t be surprised.








Sansaku: Quaaludes


He told his Quaalude story of going overboard and a friend said, “I have two Quaalude stories and you’ll know why I don’t have a third.” As for me, I was at the old Denver airport and the plane to Phoenix was delayed. A wild-eyed girl asked if I wanted a drink. No way would I stay behind. She offered me a pill.

I chased it down with two road-runner cocktails and the drug mixed well with the booze. I was flying by the time we took off. She was headed to Tucson and I’d be getting off. We both understood what that meant. I told her stories I don’t usually tell.

She wanted to meet Corder. He’d be waiting to pick me up. She said he sounded unreal and I assured her he was more. Once again, the plane was delayed and she was able to briefly depart with me. I knew where we’d find him and looked for a bar.

He treated this girl who has no name as if he’d known her forever. They talked about me in the most intimate ways and I listened. This didn’t often happen. She needed to catch her plane and kissed us both good-bye. She whispered in my ear, “Thanks, you were right.”

Then he turned to me, “You’ll have to drive. I’m plastered.” There was no way that would happen. I felt disconnected to my body. He said, “I can’t see.” I said, “We’re in trouble, neither can I.” I’m blind in the best of conditions. I’d never been so impaired. Prescott seemed far away.

He thought the two of us might make one and together we drove into the night. We were almost there when he flashed a cop with his high-beams. He couldn’t find the button. The cop turned around. Suddenly the windshield wipers started flapping and I yelled, “Stop fucking around and stop.” He said, “I can’t.”

He was actually calm and explained when he stepped on the brake nothing happened, except for the wipers. It was ridiculous. He tried to reason and had almost resigned to fate, when he finally hit the brake. We screeched to a stop and the cop screeched behind us.

I lit a cigarette in the hopes it would camouflage and the cop couldn’t smell. But Corder the Cool had his wallet out. He handed the cop his license and registration before the officer asked. This surprised him. He obviously expected drunk resistance. Corder was gracious.

“Aren’t you going to ask me why it took so long to stop?” In the most- sober of voices he told the cop he’d had some trouble with the button for the brights, then when he hit the brake, something was crossed. He described the wiper phenomenon. “Sir, step out of the car.”

I thought we were doomed. He might be able to recite the alphabet backwards, but no way could he walk a straight line. There’s a lot of no ways in this story. The cop held a flashlight in my face, then looked under the dash at the floor. “I’ll be damned,” he said, “there are two pedals.” Between the brake and the high-beam button was a smaller pedal for washing the windshield. The car was out of fluid.

The cop let us go with a warning, “Glad you boys weren’t drinking.” Corder said a little too loudly, “What do you think is wrong with his nose?” But then he got serious and said, “I see my self and my face in you, son. And you know what I’ve done; one thing, don’t you ever deny, who you are, what they say, walk your way.” I stuck it in a song.

Corder was wild in ways I’d never be, but then he told me something else. “I’m proud of you, son. You’ve stayed on the raft and haven’t dropped an oar. You’re a good man to ride the river.” I stole that line from him and used it countless times.

This story began with a Quaalude. I only needed one.









Sansaku: Divergent


Emily Dickinson said, “The only commandment I ever obeyed – consider the lilies.” When it came to the business of yesterday and tomorrow, Christ said, “Take no thought.” There’s a higher order of meaning to be sought. “O ye of little faith.” Emily had religion.

When it comes to words, the idea of meaning applies big-time. If you can’t read or don’t know the language, it doesn’t mean the words are meaningless. Take hieroglyphics. It might look like a crane. In Greek, the root of the word congruence is crane. What does that mean? It’s an idea with wings.

The dictionary definition is one level of meaning, but what it means at the psychological is another. It’s why dreams are relevant. Words have associative meaning. I just had a dream.

I drove through a city last night. I missed the turn at Market Street. We didn’t notice until we arrived at the far side of town. We started to return, but then something happened. I missed the turn at Market Street and ended up on Cannery Row.

There’s a lovely scene in Sweet Thursday. Doc is playing chess with Joseph and Mary, that’s his name; he runs the store that sells bread and whiskey. When Doc turns his back, the shopkeeper moves some pieces to his advantage. Doc knows. He tells Joseph and Mary, “That’s the thing about chess, you can’t cheat.” It reveals how you think.

After Steinbeck published Grapes of Wrath, he took a turn down Market Street. His friends in Monterey thought he’d changed with the money. It’s the idea of impasse. If he brought jug wine to a party, he was cheap. But if he brought high class liquor, he put himself above. He moved to New York. I missed the turn at Market Street.

In dreams the words are symbols, which means they’re intensely meaningful. Market Street, a missed turn, the road not taken. I know exactly how I feel. I come from a divergent family.

I recently found a book at the thrift store a teenaged friend had recommended. I could have ordered or gone to a store, but I didn’t and then forgot. That was a couple of years ago.

A few months back, thinking about writing, I looked up divergent thinking which, like brainstorming, precedes the critical and convergent decision. It’s a creative thought process that google describes as spontaneous, free-flowing, nonlinear. I wrote this down on a scrap piece of paper and added it to a pile on my desk.

When I started the book, Divergent, I needed a bookmark and wouldn’t you know, I pulled out that scrap. When I read the note I’d written to myself, it had a new meaning in addition to the old. Synchronistic.

I’ve just started the book, but I know the five castes and types. From my point of view, it’s a dystopic society. Sixteen-year-olds are forced to choose from the five factions and it sets their course and meaning for life. A convergent solution to the problem of war.

“Those who blamed aggression formed Amity. Those who blamed ignorance formed Erudite. Those who blamed duplicity created Candor. Those who blamed selfishness made Abnegation. And those who blamed cowardice were the Dauntless.”

Her name is Beatrice Prior and she doesn’t quite fit the mold. She’s like Anne of Green Gables, Katniss and the Hunger Games, or Dorothy in Oz. The ones who refuse to be limited to less than who they are.

When Chyako reached the age in Japan, she was forced to do the same and prepared to take the notorious entrance exams. Her parents were Erudite and expected her to choose. She didn’t. She diverged.








Not Depressing

Sansaku: Not Depressing


There are stories that need retelling and some we need to stop. This is sounding like a start and it’s how I ended the TEDx talk. Beginnings matter. I was sick from what I’d learned in grad school and needed to quit. Economics is called the dismal science for good reason.

When the limit is pushed, shit happens. Times of revelation and apocalypse, some more obvious than others. I’d reached a limit and it wasn’t graceful. I didn’t say good-bye.

Heading west out of Boulder, I left my pride and a girlfriend behind. I felt fortunate to escape with my tail still intact. I was living in an old Ford van. January is a bad time to camp in the canyons. The nights are long and cold; the ink in the pen froze. I couldn’t write.

I sat around the cedar-pinon fire, wrapped in a blanket and coat. I stayed up late, hoping to shorten the night which was long as the stars were bright. It seemed like the time just after death, but not yet dead. My mind was far from peaceful. I’d been there for days with the same old thoughts I couldn’t stop thinking.

Feeling useless and stuck, I was trying to figure things out. I didn’t lack material. That’s when the dream came. It wasn’t dissimilar to Chuang Tzu’s tree, although much more inclusive.

I watched as the western wilderness and paradise was paved. The development rapacious and fast; I hadn’t seen it coming. The trees all cut, the rivers dammed, the mountains mined and leveled. This is hard to exaggerate. I’d lost all hope. It felt like death.

It’s time for a pregnant pause. Death is pregnant with meaning and potential. What happened next, I would have never predicted.

The Earth laughed. Seriously. The laugh was full-bodied and the great voice teased, “You have little faith. The roots of life are deep.” Earth let me watch. The industrial asphalt vomit that seemed to cover the Earth cracked and disappeared in lush weedy growth.

The rivers ran high and a new range of snow-capped mountains stood shining in the distance. The world re-evolved, creation complete. I imagine California once looked like this. It was clear.

John Muir believed he could stop the destruction in Yosemite if he could just get people to stay long enough to feel the beauty of the place. For Muir the experience was religious and transformative. And he was devastated by so-called growth and progress. Only the sage knows the use of the useless.

When Jung designed his word association test he expected meaning, not sound, to govern the response. Some words conspicuously slowed reaction time down. Even the subjects were surprised. When Jung said bloom, the subjects responded with blood, not flowers. It surprised them, bloom and blood. What do you make of that?

Playing with words comes easy for most humans. We can jump from learn to listen in a heartbeat, then slow it down with love. Jung would have noticed the hesitation, love’s a complex emotion.

If society chooses the good and useful person to respect, it tends to dismiss the mystics, like Chuang Tzu. He didn’t seek respect and said it’s the wrong direction. “Just live plain and simple, true to your nature.” It’s a destination location.

Mystics can’t help but teach and tend to say stuff like this: “Find your mud. Drag your tail. Once you discover the inner connection, you need nothing else.” I heard the Earth laugh and watched the life cycle complete. It was not depressing.









Sansaku: TEDx


I called the talk on dreams, “The Useless Tree.” It’s in honor of Chuang Tzu, the Taoist sage who told the story. I’ve taken my version from the many versions I’ve read. It’s about a carpenter and his apprentice. The two are walking down the road. It’s a hot day and they spot a tree.

Sitting in the shade under the old giant, the student asks the teacher, “What kind of a tree is this?” The teacher scoffs, “It’s a stinkwood and absolutely good for nothing. You can’t build, you can’t burn. The wood is full of knots and the smoke stings your eyes. It’s useless.”

The student wants to process, but the teacher falls asleep. He meets the spirit of the tree. “Useless human, who are you? If useful, I’d have been cut down and used. But because I’m useless, you’ve left me alone. I’ve been allowed to live my own life.”

The carpenter woke up and told the dream to his apprentice. He said, “This tree is sacred and we’re going to build an altar.” Chuang Tzu had something else to say. “Everyone knows the use of the useful, but only a sage the use of the useless.”

I like the fact the story is about a teacher, a student and the teacher’s teacher. The student asks a question and the teacher thinks he knows what kind of a tree and what it’s good for. But he’s a good-for-nothing human and doesn’t have a clue.

Chuang Tzu understands that dream experiences can be meaningful and true.  They cross-over from psyche to cosmos. The fact the tree has a voice, why is that is that so strange? It’s a wisdom older than ours and still lives in branches of the body, the vessels and the nerves.

There’s so much that’s coded in the use of the useless.

Dreams are growing lush in the garden of useless trees and given how they’re devalued and dismissed, guess what they have to say?

I discovered dreams in a dream, they weren’t taught in school. Since I’d always had them, I found the dream-denial strange. “You’ve got to be kidding? You don’t consider them real? Really? Have you had one?”

This perplexed me, but since I have a secretive side that likes to hide, I kept dreams mostly to myself. They taught me an uncomfortable secret: I could enter through a hole in the basement wall. It’s an inter-connected world. I’ve never gotten out. They didn’t seem to notice.

I started to talk in high school. I had a lucid dream and wanted to know. “WTF was that?” I was in an ancient temple and the words on the walls were the most profound I’d ever read. I wanted to wake and copy them down, but I couldn’t hold the wisdom.

I’ve been loyal to the journal since my senior year in college. I started to search. CSU had little to offer in the way of dreams and I never met a specialist until I decided on a self-directed course of study and began my own analysis. Praise being a fool.

I dropped out of economics, which is considered a most useful career, and chose to pursue work with dreams. I was told more than once, “WTF?” But I had that dream with the Useless Tree. And now that I’m older, I’m taking the time to build an altar.

I can imagine the carpenter becoming more of a teacher and deciding to stay with the tree. There’s a small muddy stream near the place. He likes to wade barefoot and sit with the tree. He cares for the altar.

When I gave the talk at Fort Lewis, I wanted to argue my case and used the dream tree as a witness. I tried to say to say too-much in too-little time. Information can help solve a puzzle, but this a mystery and information only adds to the mystery.