Mapping in Time

Sansaku: Mapping in Time


“If you want to give god a good laugh, tell him your plans.” I heard this in a movie that had this theme: We have no idea when or where the big thing happens. I once procrastinated buying yogurt and ended up in a different universe.

Last night I dreamed I had the ability to look at a map like the way Google can zoom in and out of Durango. I could shift scales by focus and attention. The two-dimensional would come to life. I saw geologic layers forming over time and how we got here.

Affective forecasting is notoriously poor and seems to be getting worse. We think we know what gives us happiness and direction. The unconscious, like god, gets a good laugh. This is no exaggeration.

Be honest, where does happiness reside? How do we chart our course and way into the future, the person we will be?

I try to imagine a higher race that is much better at affective forecasting. It means they’d have access to time travel. Moving forward and back, they could see how it all connects.

When Hollywood designs an alien species, they usually amplify what already exists. Too often it looks like some Frankenstein abomination. The aliens are as self-centered and war-like as we are. Quick to attack, quick to defend. Volatile and herd-like. Moving in panic and lust.

We’re not that cool a species in the conventional way the media paints the picture. It’s why I try to slow it down, get close. What really matters, what counts? I liked the way Superman landed in a cornfield in Kansas and looked like a mild-mannered reporter with the dorky name of Clark Kent. No wonder kids love superheroes.

I liked Kane, the Kung Fu master, living in an inner city. He looked like a long-haired bum who gardened, played flute, and kicked butt.

Why would an advanced species come to earth in the first place? If they came to rape, pillage and plunder the earth, they’d be just like us. I seriously doubt they’d want to conquer, exploit, and lord over life. That’s what we want to do.

I bet they come as the teachers, the healers, the artists and dreamers. They come as mothers and fathers, lovers and friends. They come as the old guy down the street, who hides in the bushes and dances like a bear when we see him.

Humans like to solve unsolvable problems with the push of a button. The internet reinforces this tendency to the max. But I’m guessing aliens who were truly advanced, wouldn’t indulge in quick fix technology. Instant happiness in a bottle, a pill, a make-over.

Evolution gets weird when it takes big jumps. Mary Shelley called her Frankenstein story the modern Prometheus.   She saw it in a dream. We think we know, we don’t.

I’m back to affective forecasting.  Peck said that mental health was about map revision and a dedication to reality at all costs. Jung said therapy was about repairing our relationship with reality. The unconscious doesn’t suffer deception well. Dreams map it.

Rogers talked about congruence and what happened when it was or wasn’t present here and now. Symptoms point to glitches in the map. Drive here and this will happen. Don’t get stuck like a record that repeats and repeats and repeats. Bump the needle.

My higher order beings are patient and take the time to hear what the symptoms have to say. They have maps to guide them.

I think we can live like mosquitos. Our lives are days and not the other way around. The higher order beings have a slower frequency and there’s great space between words and action. A day lasts a lifetime.

Maybe they’ve entered our consciousness and spliced their way into the DNA and genetic code. Saying, “Let’s throw in some good stuff, like humor and imagination. Let’s throw in love and empathetic joy.”

Faith is a form of knowing the unknowable. How do you know? I don’t. I have faith. Faith in what? Not what exists and always has, but faith in how things could be. Time traveling makes sense to me.

Love looks blind in standard time, “What a fool, can’t she see?” But love has eyes for the long-run, just see how it all turns out.

The way Jung describes complexes they could be alien consciousnesses within the psyche. They take on human form, our faces. He said, “We think we have them, never knowing, they have us.”

He did his best to map them. They exist in time. And that’s more than enough for today.








Invading Aliens

Sansaku: Incarnating Aliens


Because I walk around doing nothing, I get asked all the time, “What have you been doing?” I walk around doing nothing. It’s what I do. But then I get home, take a shower, and turn on the tube. Lately I’ve been streaming a BBC series about a time traveler and his companion. It’s an interesting love story.

It turns out there’s a lot of alien life-forms on Earth and most of them walk around fairly well disguised, not always. They’re mostly hostile and rarely evolved in the psychological sense. They aren’t very loving. They’ve spent more time developing weapons than the higher levels of consciousness and emotional development.

I keep hoping the show will incarnate a species more evolved, one with considerable inner character and development. What kind of people would they be like? I think I’ve known a few. Their smiles gave them away. They had that inner voice.

Odd how a smile and the voice can be used to deceive or reveal.

I tend to find our species a rather rough and uneven one, but I’d like to imagine the aliens as an ecstatic race. They say it feels so much better to be loving, kind, and funny. You have to agree it sounds better. And they’re in for the long-haul, like a Bodhisattva, it needs to feel good.

I doubt they have to armor-up and shield themselves, as the show’s threatening species display. Instead, they’d have one of those heaven-protecting weapons, a deep and loving soul. They mean no harm, but tend to come across as trouble-makers. Why is that?

I think they’ve invaded my psyche. I’ve seen those smiles in dreams.

I described one yesterday and tried to hold on and stay with her. No wonder the woman in the series wouldn’t let go of the meddling Doctor who was also a time traveler.

Where would you go and what would you do?

The aliens on the show are probably wise not to make themselves known. They take on human form. And for the most part, humans have no idea how many life-forms and higher levels there are out there.

It seems Earth has been advertising itself with every space-probe missile, every nuclear warhead. “Look at me, I’m all grown up.” I can only imagine what those eternal ones think. “What the hell? Does somebody want to volunteer and go down?” They all raise their hands.

I don’t know when they entered my psyche, but they had good reason. I was shouting, “Look at me, I’m all grown up. I’m ready.” It usually means it’s time for a ritual, an initiation. Are you sure?

When I first came to the college, I thought I was all grown up. Far from it. It just so happens I walked into the right place at the right time and saw the time machine. A bunch of us climbed in.

There’s a reason most rituals are secret.

I never advertised the dream groups at the college, because I wanted to keep them sacred. We were hard to find. It usually took some accident of fate. Serendipity. We were playing hide and seek.

That silly TV show has helped me conceive of the group and room as a time machine, a way to travel with others. Now I use a journal and the group has gone within. If given a chance to do it all again, how would you do it?

The world’s at war and we’re not at peace with ourselves. I know where I need to start.






Sansaku: Wrestling


I don’t wrestle with every dream that comes along, but I’ve got ahold of this one and won’t let go. I’m looking for a blessing, not an answer.

In the dream, I’m wrestling with a sentence. My writing practice seems to have slipped through the boundary and entered the dream world. I reword the sentence at least five times. “She eats mosquitos and shows me the source of the river.”

The place is an ideal vision and mythically deep. The river flows over and around water-polished rocks that are soft and sculpted. The aspen grove on the far side is lush with wildflowers. There’s a newborn elk calf. She’s nursing. The cow knows we mean no harm.

The woman has no name.   And for all I know, she could have elven blood. Bugs don’t bother her in the least, she eats the mosquitos with love and pleasure. Both sides know what’s happening. It’s clearly a give and take. This connects.

I think back to the dream sentence and why it bugs and bothers me. I know what I need to do.

About this time last year, I wrote a Sansaku about wrestling with a dream. I briefly told the story of Jacob wrestling a blessing from the angel. He wouldn’t let go.

In Greek mythology, if you wrestle with old Proteus and don’t let go as he changes from form to form, you can ask him a question. “What do you want to know?” What’s with the changing from form to form?

I titled that Sansaku, “Something like Gratitude.” That’s what the blessing felt like. “I’ve slowly come to realize our everyday life is the practice and small details look holy and large through the inner eye.”

I want to get up close, it’s like wrestling and holding on. I’ve been re-iterating the sentence in the dream, “She eats mosquitos and shows me the source of the river.”

When I started Sansaku, I took the time to tell a couple of long stories, “Jumping Mouse,” and “Green Eyes.” There’s a reason I wrestled with both of them so long. And there’s a reason I haven’t finished the story about Dow, Dahl, and Em. I’m still learning how to enter.

My favorite places have really strange boundaries and if it’s hard to get in, it’s hard to get out. Good love stories are like that.

Some dreams are dark epiphanies that come as warnings. Be prepared. Mine usually lead me on.

The epiphany comes in the form of open-eyed shock and realization: “How could I have missed it? The wonder of it all.” But it goes beyond words and I keep writing the sentence over and over. I want to get it right. It’s important in the dream.

Everything is holy, everything is sacred, everything is right. It’s the feeling at the source of things. She’s eating mosquitos.

Fall asleep, wake up.

Most artists wrestle with perfection, which is said to be the sworn enemy of art. Just try to be and do your best and see what happens. The artist says, “Bring it on.” It’s just out of reach and they never let go. Hold on. It’s not a win, lose, or draw sort of match.

Meditation wrestles with the mind. I used to think I could control the sneaky beast and trick it to get what I wanted. But I didn’t know exactly what it was I wanted. It turns out there’s a better way to get the desired response.   Hold on and ask for a blessing.

It’s why I wrestle with love.








Drifting Toward Deep

Sansaku: Drifting Toward Deep


I’d always fall for the question, how to go deep. It’s one of those ideas I like to iterate, to ask again and again, starting over and over. It’s going to the most vulnerable and dangerous of places in safety and trust. It’s the secret to connection. Go to the places that scare you, go to the places you hide, share secrets. I’m just warming up.

Why go deep? That’s part of the inquiry. Recall the times and tell a few stories. I was ridiculously deep that year and any number of people accused me of being dramatic and shallow. “Get over it. Get on with it. Get a life.” What could I say?

How to go deep with our narrative? Deep takes time, takes details, and sometimes all at once or not at all. Marriage is deep, even when it’s not. There can be a silence and routine that drowns, and a silence and routine that swims. Both are in the deep.

It doesn’t look deep to eat the same food each morning, to walk the same trail in the afternoon, or to sit for hours on end in the studio. If it’s shallow, it’s not repetition’s fault.

According to Bly, Kabir said, “I laugh when I hear the fish in the water is thirsty…What is most alive of all is inside your own house. Go wherever you like, if you can’t find where your soul is hidden, for you the world will never be real.” That’s a wake-up call. He asks if we walk from one moment to the next with a confused look on our face.

Heraclitus wrote, “You cannot reach the limits of the soul by walking, even if you pace off every street, it’s meaning is so deep.” Lao Tzu, who was writing at the same time 2,500 years ago, said the same thing but called it Tao. Now it’s words that never reach. What does?

Therapists are trained to go deep by going deep themselves. Jung said it’s hard to take someone someplace you won’t go. He’s called a depth psychologist and encourages those who are called to dive.

Dreams belong to the deep. The psyche has directions and deep is one of them. There’s depth everywhere if you know how to look. There’s a door into depth. It’s not always dark, but seems to take eyes to open.

Rilke said conflict is second nature and lovers are always approaching each other’s boundaries. It’s how we go deep. I live in a border town. Japan is just across the ocean and the room.

She’s taught me wabi-sabi and Japanese ways of going deep into natural beauty. I see wabi-sabi out the window. It’s the wood pile and the stump I use for chopping. It’s the old apple tree and blossoms.

Irma’s ashes are in a small glass vial on the window sill, they’re the color of clouds, her hair. Emotions carry knowledge and I pay close attention to mine. I’ve learned the most from ecstasy.

How to go deep? I spend hours and hours each morning alone. I read old journals and write in the new. I sip tea and look out the window. I stop for the sunrise. After Sansaku, I eat the same breakfast.

A ritual is as hard to see as a routine is easy.

I have my morning clothes, house clothes, walking clothes, and clothes for going out. If you only saw me on the River Trail, you’d swear I never changed. Does he even wash them?

The crow and magpies wear the same clothes every day, no one asks them why. My inner voice has something to say, “It’s okay to look like yourself.”

It all looks routine until we go deep. It’s a feeling choice, an experiential direction. No one need tell us.












Sansaku: Intrigued


I messed up yesterday. “One Hundred Pots” is not number 23, it’s 18.   So, what’s the BFD? I quote Chyako in that very Sansaku as saying, “Don’t try to correct mistakes… Find the accidental beauty. The mistake may not be a mistake. Imperfection is fundamental to Japanese aesthetics.” This is how I go back and correct.

It’s not that the Japanese are careless or try to make mistakes. Far from it. That’s not the way. Trains run on time to the second. Basho took a trip to Fuji and wrote a haiku. The weather was bad, the mountain lost to clouds. Intriguing.

Chyako asked how Sansaku was coming. I told her kind of slow. It’s the fish and chips from the night before. We’d gone out and I ate too much.   She said, “You could have brought the left-overs home.” I tell her, “I’m not that smart.” Intriguing.

And today I meet the new housing staff. I help to prepare them. “This job will undress you. Do you know what that means?” I practice my bullet point prompts, using the journal as target range. Their job is not what they think or expect. They’re entering an intense gossip field.

Let’s talk about housing culture from an anthropologic perspective. It’s kind of unnatural. What do you think happens when you crowd a diverse group of adolescent adults into crappy living conditions? I’ve been in those rooms. I know why the kids called them ghetto.

I lived and worked at a boarding school that was twice as bad. I know what they’re getting themselves into. It’s an absolute set-up to live and work at the same place. This is rarely directly addressed and processed. You’ll be like family until you’re fired. Learn the rules.

I don’t like the term “residence” applied to life or halls. And to call these wild and living things “residents” is worse than a set-up. It hides the truth and ruins our relationship with reality.

Do you remember being a freshman and life in the dorm? It’s like a halfway house with cramped rooms you have to share with a complete stranger. I came from Boulder, the sixties, and my roommate was a sheep-herder from Craig who came to college to get drunk and have a good time.   He called me Beethoven and flunked out after the second quarter. I didn’t say good-bye.

My next roommate, Bill, decided to ferment wine which exploded in the closet. The smell even worse than the stains. I can’t believe he wasn’t caught. I wanted to ask the RA, “What’s wrong with your nose?”

I feel badly now about Bill and my lack of relationship. I haven’t thought of him in years. He had a painfully bad complexion and eyes that avoided looking to see if you were looking. I tried not to.

After we stopped kicking kids out for pot violations, the number of incidents went up and the VP called me into her office to explain. I told her I was pleased. She didn’t understand. I said the RDs and RAs have had to look the other way. They didn’t want to punish with banishment. Now they can confront and engage.

It’s the same with most problems. Make it safe to disclose. The VP was impressed and said, “You’re thinking like an administrator.” I told her, “No way, I’m thinking like a counselor.”

When I used to talk to the big groups I had a couple of codeword phrases. Set up the radar, pay attention to foreshadowing. How to care, be aware, engage, relate, and confront.   I figured if they centered on those few concepts, they could derive the rest.

I’ll be intrigued, I’m sure.




Five Hundred

Sansaku: Five Hundred


I’ve had a few relationships that started, “Before you get involved with me, you should probably know this.” Sometimes it comes a little too late, “I should have told you earlier.” Sometimes we just jump in and start to drift.

I wrote the “About” and “Sansaku” entries toward the end of the first month.   That was 24 and now it’s 500. What a chaotic mess I’ve left behind. Not even I can find things easily.

But I’m staying fairly true to my zuihitsu pledge. That was the day before, number 23, “A Hundred Pots.” It’s sampling slice-by-slice.

It doesn’t take long to know my issues. This reminds me of Trump. He should come as no surprise. He didn’t need to say, “You should know this about me.” No excuses there.

I’ve saved too much and now that I want to give-away, I’m forced to put stuff out on the street. Please take it. They’ll be more tomorrow.

I’ve been a hoarder of experiences and reflections, more true than real. And I’ve tried to be specific when I generalize.   I have no idea who takes the stuff I leave out on the curb.

What we call a mandatory disclosure in counseling is the formal and legal equivalent of “before you get involved.” On the one hand, it’s no-nonsense necessary. “If you try to kill yourself or another, I’ll need to do something about it.” On the other, magnificent. “Here’s what you can expect from me. I’ll do my best to love and support you.” We take great care to explain. Therapeutic love is different.

I could write a hundred entries on that simple sentence, “You should probably know this about me.” It’s not far from what I’ve been trying to do with Sansaku.

How many lines or curves does it take to draw a landscape, a person? And how many colors and shades?   Not only is the whole greater than the sum of its parts, the whole grows. It’s an organic thing.

Since I’m at five hundred, I should probably go back and look at twenty-three and four, when I thought I knew what I was doing. Is there anything I’d tell myself? Would you do it the same way twice? Back then I wrote, “I’m throwing a hundred pots and trying to improve.” Five hundred later it’s time to keep on throwing.

I suppose I wanted to start a cascade of notes and images in the hope of limbic attunement, resonance, entrainment, coherence, the doctrine of affective empathy and emotional connection. Touch.

Michelle Obama had a few jewels she tossed out at the convention last year. Everyone remembers, “When they go low, we’ll go high.” It’s not hard when they go so low. But she also said, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.”

When I started “Best Slowly” I wanted to go far. I wanted to take the long way and all the detours.   I’m reading about my campaign promises for the first time in a long time. I go back daily and search my journals for roads not taken, but I haven’t been doing that with the blog.

And I still don’t like that word, blogging. I’m drifting.

Anyway, I don’t keep to the 500-word limit now that I’ve reached 500. It’s closer to 600. And I realize I didn’t go slowly back then. I was trying to cram it in. That bread is so dense, so thick, it’s hard to chew. I guess I wanted the reading to go slowly too.




A Left-Hand Path

Sansaku: A Left-Hand Path


When I learned to keep secrets, I learned how to lie. I know this doesn’t sound right. My parents would ask, “What are you going to do?” I’d say, “Nothing,” and say it with an edge. It wasn’t the truth and they knew it. I told myself they didn’t want to know. Interesting.

This evolved in stages. One of the tipping points occurred in high school. I needed to know the difference. I was starting to confuse truth with secret. I could be lying to myself, who was I to trust?

I think it made me weird. My parents complained I was choosing the wrong kind of friends. “What do you mean?” I’d ask. “They’re nonconformists.” The word sounded attractive to me. I was drifting towards the edge and could probably be blamed with the same.

The more George tried to initiate me into his version of adulthood, the more I resisted. He was not the mentor I needed. Irma knew better than to believe she could guide me into my selfhood. She was far too conventional, but she knew something I did not. My father.

No one needed to tell me that my father was different. This prefaced every story. I didn’t understand until I met him; he wasn’t just different, he was real. When he looked at me, I could feel the eyes inside. It’s like he’d been there. He knew his way around.

“I can see you’ve arrived,” he said to me. “I’ve been waiting.” He was interested and wanted to know me in the way I knew myself.

He didn’t need to say, “Tell me secrets. You have my word.” He belonged to the secret world and knew the things I needed to know. I wanted him to share. I’d had friends who walked a left-hand path, but an adult and parent was something else.

Because he abandoned responsibility, he said he was free and didn’t feel any blame. I asked about that. He said, “Everyone blames me for what I did, this life I live. It’s the price I paid.”

I could tell him things that would have shamed a normal parent. And I came and went as I pleased. It wasn’t up to him. I’d drive down and enter his world, he never came up to mine. I wouldn’t have wanted it. I needed to keep him secret.

For someone who loved to read, he owned few books. Friends dropped them off, all kinds; he quickly and efficiently devoured them, then passed them on. He gave me a few. Their heroes were flawed and colorful. He wanted to make a point.

I was often in relationship trouble and he supported me by wanting to know the details. It’s one of the secrets of counseling. I didn’t hesitate and he always took me deeper. He said, “I’ve done far worse.”

“Don’t confuse love with sex, even when they go together.” He had some really good stories. I asked about alcohol and the role it played. I didn’t expect he’d done any drugs. I was wrong. He’d tried both pot and peyote. He liked peyote better.

He described the night in full-moon magic. He was with his friend, Omer, and they were staying in a sheep camp somewhere on the reservation. “We sang all night.”

We mostly drank, smoked cigs, and talked. He took no responsibility, no blame. Cards on the table, we played with the left-hand open.

“If you love somebody it doesn’t mean you want to have sex, but it could. And wanting to have sex doesn’t mean you love them, but it could. And sometimes you need to keep secrets.”