What Wood Are You Chopping?

Once upon a time a monk was walking in the forest. Suddenly, a tiger springs at him. The monk fled, the tiger right behind.  He came to a cliff, and climbed down until he was out of reach of the tiger.  He heard a hiss, and looked down to see a cobra coiled and ready to strike on a rock beneath his heel. He tried to climb back up, and the tiger swiped at him, barely missing his head.   Below him, the cobra hissed and flared its hood.


Then the vine he was holding onto began to fray.  He looked far below, hundreds of feet to jagged rocks.

The monk looked to his left, and there in the crack of a rock grew a wild strawberry.   He plucked it and took a bite.  

“Delicious,” the monk said.




I’ve been blessed to know, or be in the close presence, of many extraordinary people, some famous, some known only to their friends.  But there is an amazing commonality to them.  If that extraordinary aspect is their single focus, they are “imbalanced” in a way, but playing a very different game–they are happy when they are in the flow of their skill, but sometimes unhappy in the other arenas.


But if they are at least relatively balanced, there is a common quality I can best call “sweetness” about them.   The deadliest martial artists or  wealthiest men melt  in the presence of their wives or children   or grandchildren. The most spiritual men and women break into toothy smiles thinking of an ice cream cone they ate fifty years ago. It really is amazing to see.


The ability to access joy at will is one of the most critical things in life, for ANYONE. The capacity to access joy, or calm, or passion under stress is one of the keys to  that thing called “Mastery.”   Why?


Because “Mastery” is a matter of focused daily actions.   Remember Steve Muhammad’s definition: once you have your basics at unconscious competence, and have committed to your path for a lifetime, you are on the path of Mastery.  A Master.   There will be others ahead of you, some horizons distant. And others behind you. But there is just the Path.


You find the Path by being specific about your goals, and finding men and women who have accomplished those goals with honor and dignity.  Then do what they did.   The more of them you study, the more you will be able to discount the trivial differences to see the common core.


They all walk the path. Their excellence is found in their daily rituals.  What is your real goal, the real meaning of your life?  To be happy.


What you do in the world to reach or express this happiness is up to you, but it should be both long and short term.   It should cover your survival, sexual needs, security and expression of power, emotion, and capacity to speak your truth without fear.  A model of the world that guides your actions and thoughts.  A commitment to align with BOTH your childhood dreams and ultimate deathbed values.


To be the micro of the macro.   To be the change you wish to see in the world.


Whew. Take a deep breath.  How can you stay on that path? Do you grasp that the world will do EVERYTHING in its power to keep you asleep? To force you to function from fear rather than love?


If you don’t make “Emotional Mastery” one of your arenas of mastery, you can commit to all the positive change you want, and you’ll be able to stick to the path AS LONG AS YOU CAN KEEP CONSCIOUS ATTENTION ON THE GOAL.  The instant you are overloaded, however, your core programming will take over.  You will “snap back” to your normal state.


Under stress, people:


Abandon diets

Start smoking again

Revert to tribal thinking

Break promises to themselves

Bark at their loved ones

Stop balancing their checkbook

Stop meditating


And on and on.  They focus on what is “imperative” rather than what is important and generative.


Show me your morning/daily ritual of action and emotion, and you’re showing me where you are going in life.  In “Hero’s Journey” terms, this is THE ROAD OF TRIALS.


What wood are you chopping? What water carrying?


The meaning of life is to be happy.   Even if the tiger is about to spring. Even if the cobra is about to bite.  When you have done all there is to do, best enjoy the moments left. And…if you stay positive, IF there is a way out, you are more likely to find it.  Remember the “Dark Night of the Soul”?  It is the time when it seems that all is lost.  And the way through it is Faith. The reason is that a stressed out mind sees only paleness, only hopelessness, only defeat.   Stay positive and you can make connections, attract allies, see new possibilities.

Eating that strawberry reminds you that life is worth living.




Under stress, we revert to core programming.  One is, as mentioned, tribalism.  “We” are better than “them.”  It is one of the most basic and protective mechanisms, but also capable of fantastic damage.   It is child-programming, “my dog is better, my mommy prettier, my daddy stronger.” 


It requires ENERGY to achieve escape velocity.   As people age or tire, if they have merely orbited this programming rather than escaping its gravity, they crash back down.  Joy is energy.


The most common Tribes are things like race, religion, country, gender.  The ones I focus on the most are race and gender, as they have affected those closest to me, those I love, the people who anchor me to the world.  Take care of what is right around you, with both love and strength,  and encourage others to do the same, and the world will heal.


That child self tells a story that places it as central to existence.  Perfectly natural. Cultures do it too: whites give Jesus blue eyes and blond hair, the Chinese make Buddha a chubby Chinese, blacks argue that Cleopatra VII Philopator  was sub-Saharan African.     Then, of course, they pretend that its everyone ELSE who does this shit.

That’s what humans do.


White people who haven’t achieved escape velocity are terrified that the world is browning.   Believing in the “Great Man/Great Race” hypothesis rather than the flowing forces of history, they see the world ending.   Men who are more attached to their masculinity than to their humanity fear the shifting gender roles.


Both are afraid of being treated as they’ve treated others, so if there is guilt and fear in their hearts, these changes feel like death.   The flip side is the poor souls so battered by guilt that they are ashamed of themselves or their tribe. That’s actually sicker than tribalism.  And bigots feed right into either imbalance, trust me.


Blacks are as racist as whites, they just don’t have the power to make it matter much. Women are as sexist and flawed as guys, and its entertaining watching them guilt-trip guys into being ashamed of their testicles.   Over-emphasizing the value of Yin is precisely as imbalanced as over-emphasizing the value of Yang.


The answer to all of this is joy, and love, combined with strength and balance.


While this illustration is about “White supremacy” in my own “Lion’s Blood” universe you’d be able to flip the script to “Black supremacy”  100%.  No problem.


It would be interesting to see someone do the same thing for “Toxic Masculinity.”  I’m sure such a thing is out there.   But the real trick would be doing one for “Toxic Femininity” because if you can’t, you’re caught in the Matrix, and the demons are dancing with joy.




Start with joy and you can deal with the stress without it becoming strain. Do that, and you connect to the love and strength within you, and stop needing other people’s approval.  Which frees you to ask “who am I?” without fearing that you’ll find something hideous within, or that you may have to walk alone for a while as you figure it out.


All it takes to get everything you want is everything you’ve got.  Being willing to abandon your illusions. To do that, you have to know you’ll be fine, no matter what, and you CANNOT do that if your emotional well-being is externally focused.

Control your story.  And teach others to do the same.





On Love and “Deathbed” Values

A gentleman named Rob Pray wrote: 

9 hrs ·

“Nothing to post this evening. Just a quick history. About a decade ago I went through one of those fun events in life, a heart attack. I had ignored symptoms and in doing so I complicated things. My ventricle was damaged and I underwent open heart surgery. It was amazing what they could do. There was one point when, well when I was more aware of the world we can’t see, and in that place for some moments that seemed like a very long time I saw, felt such great things, about us all, about how we should live, it was oddly a wondrous moment. This was not about learning new things, but it was about knowing what trials I had followed and believed correctly, and where I had wondered astray. I knew life was best not feared. I learned I could not help everybody. I was not told what I must do, what I must say. I just knew fear was my own invention. I had to learn that we need not fear trying to help people see that above all things, kindness and understanding were simply the right way to treat one another. They smiled at me. “It is not his time yet.” That was when I awoke. |

Still, despite all the feelings shared with me in those hours, I did not learn how to deal with people who could not see beyond the hate. I don’t know how to get my words across. I don’t know how to help people become stronger. I can not stop hate, not alone. I can only ask my friends to listen, to follow the path to tear down the hate, the bigotry, the false anger in so many hearts. We were not created to hate! We are all of the same family. Lets build our family, not tear it down.

Love you all. I am so glad I have such friends in my life, such a strong family, and I will do my best to enjoy this life. I do not fear the next, but sure don’t wish to miss any of what we have here. I will find something to post to make you all smile, at least those of you who stick around to watch. *bows*”


Yeah, Rob. Take a bow. That was lovely.

I had intended to speak about rituals to anchor states in your body…but that is the “how” of the equation.   More important (by far!) is the “what” and the “why.”


Remember: the Path is to live your adult life in alignment with BOTH your childhood dreams and your deathbed values.

The paragraphs above are totally typical of deathbed epiphanies, “what’s really important”-type revelations.

Let me unpack it just a tiny bit.

  1. Life is best not feared.    We have fears, that is normal human stuff. But when they stop you from loving, or manifest as anger that cannot be immediately expressed as action, that fear can poison your life.


Fear that is a primary emotion is one of the greatest allies you can have.  “I am afraid.  Why?”   Just yesterday there was a horrid example of this, a reference to a story about a transsexual who only revealed her truth after having sex “of a kind” with a man.    And that man erupted in rage, stabbed the transexual 119 times, including three throat slashings.  The murderer got forty years.


How much rage do you have to feel to stab someone 119 times?  ANGER IS A MASK OVER FEAR.   Do we really need to dive into how terrified of your own emotions and responses you’d have to be to respond like this?  I mean…back in the day, something like this would lead to someone getting the hell beaten out of them.  I can “get” that response, even if it is still assault.   But 119 stabs?  That is a level of existential terror that, had it never been specifically triggered, would still have poisoned the killer’s life.


That’s what fear does.  And fear is usually produced by anticipation of something to come.  In the moment, there is action. In the past, guilt or relief.  But fear is about what might happen NEXT.  A breakdown of ego-shells.  One suspects that “I really LIKED that” implying something about your being that is in massive conflict with an ego identity, the sense that “you killed me! (My self image).  I’ll destroy you! (The evidence of my disgrace, and my temptation to future actions).”


I cannot calculate the amount of human misery that has resulted from such reactions.


Life is best not feared.    The tiger crouching in the grass can rip us to shreds, so it is important to be aware. But it is AWARENESS and PREPAREDNESS that keeps us safe, not fear.  Fear keeps us safe if it increases awareness and capacity for action.   Love can do the same thing.  Enough love to protect yourself, to engage with your surroundings, to pay attention to your emotions.


Your childhood dreams evolved from and affect your core identity. When you can live your day-to-day adult life in alignment with them, this is happiness. But when you can align both with the deepest values, those you will hold when all ego has gone, all competition is meaningless, the “game” is over…THAT is the door to a different level of human existence.  Kind of a “human laser”.


Love and fear compete for the same place in your heart.

Fear protects you…until you have taken care of your basic needs, at which time fear begins to consume you: you must shift to love.

Anger is a mask over fear.




So…to evolve toward “Lasing”, start by

  1. Loving yourself.  Enough to be aware and safe, with permission to protect yourself.
  2. Love another person.  Enough to begin the process of opening your heart and expanding your identity.
  3. Understand history without guilt, blame, or shame.  This does NOT mean allowing people to hurt you, or accepting bad behavior. It is learning to ask “why are these people behaving so badly?  What are they afraid of?”  And then, understanding, to…
  4. Find and nurture your tribe.  Do NOT waste your time engaging with trolls, or trying to wake sleeping children.  While you do that, snakes will bite the children of your tribe.  Take care of the people who have opened their hearts to you.
  5. Win.   With honor, courtesy and compassion.  Treating others as you would wish to be treated.  But seek to live a life in alignment with both your childhood dreams and deathbed values. What does that mean for a society, by the way?   I’d say to seek long-term pleasure and happiness through positive actions and exchanges with your community that keeps your eye on the fact that we are building something to pass to future generations.  Ensure survival, and then make room for self-expression and growth.


Easy to say, hard to do.  But…it starts with you.  If you cannot see the humanity in the people around you, even those who oppose you, you lose the right to expect others to see it in you.  And that’s a world that will drown in blood.



Our children deserve better, and so do you.




Loving pt 2: The Ancient Child

  1. Love yourself
  2. Love one other person
  3. Understand human history without guilt, blame or shame
  4. Find your tribe. Support them. Don’t waste time fighting with trolls.
  5. Win with compassion and integrity…but WIN.



I still remember the first time I formally applied the “Ancient Child” technique to a client.   Was working at the high-end clinic out in Santa Monica, and a wealthy, famous client came in.  You’d know his name.  This person was a movie star, and a sex addict who had destroyed relationships with his inability to be faithful.


My model of sexuality is that it is related first to genetic survival (reproduction) with a strong individual survival component (pair bonding) and health and pleasure benefits.  Very powerful tool.  The Second Principle is to “Love one other person” and the ecstasy of sex, the way love dissolves ego boundaries, the humanizing consequences of having children…all combine to make the experience of bonding with another human being one of the most powerful.


This person wanted to be able to love and be loved, to commit to another human being, permanently. I am not a therapist, I’m a coach. I don’t heal broken people, I help people who can already perform perform even better.


So my assumption is that there was a part of him that interpreted his current results as “winning”, and all I had to do was get the parts of him that had a better idea to speak to him.


That suggested a “parts party”, but I had a different idea.   I first had him take physical actions to anchor him into his body.  The Five Tibetans would have worked fine, but I used FlowFit until he was breathing strongly.   Then I had him sit and face the wall. Close his eyes.  Visualize that he was looking into a mirror.   Imagine the breath and heat in his body to be like light.


When he could see the light in his body, I had him gather it together into the shape of a child. As it happened, he could create a “light ball” about the side of a soccer ball.  That means maybe a six month old baby boy.  I had him imagine holding that little boy in his arms, while I told him a story:


Once upon a time there was a little boy who wanted to be loved.  He didn’t know how to just love himself, so he learned to judge how good he was by feeling and seeing the reactions of other people.  THEY could tell him how wonderful he was, and it felt good.   He ran after pleasure and away from pain, as healthy boys do.  And he had a problem: there were two kinds of happiness he loved: happy in his heart, and happy in his body.  And as he learned to be a very clever boy, he got lots and lots of chances to be happy in his body, and that was fine…except that what he really, really, wanted was to find a woman who would be like Mommy.  Who would love him and cherish him and be there for him, even when he wasn’t being the Clever Boy. Who would see that he wasn’t just a performing puppet, but needed love.  And that love was a lower, more constant fire than the body’s roaring flame, and sometimes seemed inadequate in comparison.


And again and again, he chased the blaze, and forgot to tend the gentler fire. And the women who might have really loved him could not compete with the body blaze, because their fires settle down after a while, to something that can warm a house rather than burn down a forest, that soul-searing heat that says: “Me! Me!  Choose Me!”


But all fires settle down. And there will always be a new blaze.   And since he wanted to find someone who would stay for him forever, he had to learn not to be distracted.


He had to grow up to the point that he was a father to the little boy within him.  And say: “I’m going to find you a mommy.  Someone to keep you warm.  It’s been selfish for me to chase after the forest fires. And unfair even to them: because each of those little girls sharing their heat knows that their fires will cool too. They have to, or the business of life cannot be conducted. So if they can take you away from another…they know that another can take you from them, as well. And the dance begins with fear, rather than love.”


He was crying by this time.  In a very open and vulnerable space.  I chose my words carefully.


“But there is a new opportunity.  To realize that every little girl is a woman, every woman a little girl.  That he needed to find a playmate for the little boy, a helpmate for the man.  A woman who could protect the child within him, but also let him protect her little girl. And that meant he had to be worthy of her.  He had to be able to hold her little girl and say honestly: I love YOU.  More than anything in the world.  And I will never, ever walk away from you, if you will make the same promise with me.  And I will keep my word to you. Tell me what you need.”


And he knew that the kind of woman he wanted for his little boy would have a little girl who would look at him with shining eyes and say: “be my daddy. My playmate.  My protector.” And her mother would say: “be my lover.  My helpmate. Be the one who will stay with me, after the bloom of youth is gone. Be the one who can see the girl I was, remember all I gave, and all I am.  Be that one for me, and I will be that for you.  And I love that little girl within me enough to settle for nothing less. It is what she, and I, deserve.”


And I let him cry for a time, and then I asked if that little boy inside him might have a secret message for him.   I didn’t need to hear it.  And his lips moved silently for about three minutes.


Then he was still, and quiet.   Slowly, I brought him back into the room, and we sat, and held each other.  And he thanked me, and went away. I never saw him again.


But…I do know that he was married a year later. And is still married to this day, so far as I know.






Loving Yourself part 2: Heartbeat Meditation



We have identified love as the primary tool of transformation and healing for yourself and the world.     John Steinbeck’s “Once There Was A War” is a collection of his   essays from WW2.  Brilliant stuff, of course. But there is only one scene that totally stayed with me. It took place on a naval vessel, during mess.  A huge rush of hungry human beings, and the food service staff that shoveled calories and protein into their empty maws.


An endless tide of appetite.   And Steinbeck referenced the expression on a cook’s face.  The description was priceless: “the expression of someone who suddenly realizes there is no way to feed a man once and for all.”


Remember that about meditation.  There is no way to do a “one and done” so long as the ego-shell continues to re-constitute, and for all practical purposes, that means EVER.   If you are going to love yourself, and deal with internal garbage, it will re-assert itself the moment you take your attention off it.  And it is IMPOSSIBLE to constantly remember to keep your focus positive.


So…the answer is a daily ritual. I suggest morning.  Morning AND night is better still. And if you are in an emergency?  Dealing with real issues?  The “Five Minute Miracle” notion of taking a short break to balance and focus once every three hours. And if I was in a serious funk?   ONCE EVERY HOUR.  Top of the hour.   At least sixty seconds.  Set your damned watch.




But what do you do?   Well, the single best meditation I know of is called “Anahata” Meditation.  Allow me to define terms, please.  Meditation is a matter of attention.  Consider it tuning your internal radio to a particular station. Sometimes this is focus, and sometimes relaxation, and often a combination of the two.   You can focus on a word (mantra), a sound, a sensation, a visual symbol (mandala), or other things. The intent is to produce a desired state of mind, which might be increased focus, decreased stress, increased energy, dispelled illusions, healing, structuring a new personality, dispelling illusions, brainstorming ideas, improving sleep and so forth.


It is the “pure” version of mental or emotional skills you might apply in a vast number of arenas: sports performance, anger management, writer’s block, artistic performance, memory enhancement, and on and on.  Spiritually, dispelling illusions and connecting with the deepest loving sensations or resolving dualities points you in the direction of healing and unity.


There are infinite different forms, but the most powerful ones are not totally safe for various reasons I’ve hinted at.  And the safe ones aren’t always effective. There are “placebo” meditations. They don’t take you very far, but deal with some surface effects.   The POWERFUL ones could, taken far enough, unravel the ego cocoon and dispell illusion to the point that that pesky concept “enlightenment” becomes a real potential destination.


Trust me: in all probability you don’t want it.  In all probability what you want is either having a nice dream, or what is called being “an adult, aware, awake human being.”   That’s quite enough. Really.


The first part of the  “consciousness continuum” goes (SLEEPING CHILD > SLEEPING ADULT) > AWAKENED ADULT


Inside the parenthesis is the “dream” state. The “Matrix”.  All racism, sexism, tribalism is inside this structure.  All politics and commerce.  Much human interaction, positive or negative.   Fun place to visit. Nothing wrong with it, innately.

But your first goal is to awaken WITHIN the dream, (which is why “lucid dreaming” is a powerful spiritual discipline: learning that you can awaken within a “dream dream” begins to hint that you can awaken within the “real dream” as well. But…I digress).  Your next goal is to awaken FROM the dream.   That’s a lot harder.


Your guilt, fear, anger drain your energy and lock you in the Dream, which is dualistic as hell.  The way out is to start realizing you determine your emotions, chose your action, can control the emotional filters that determine your perception of reality.

Two problems: if you don’t have compassion, you will start blaming others for their life situations.   RESPONSIBILITY is not BLAME.   Assuming you would have done better in their life is presumptuous as hell.   You are not who you think you are.  Most of what you are operates at the level of unconscious competence, a slow accretion of ego-elements gained by bouncing off your environment, mentors, experiences, at different points when your learning centers were ready to integrate the experience.


In other words, if you think that “you”, put into someone else’s life, would do better than them…you may be correct. But the trick is that “you” aren’t “you.”   And you have no @#$$ idea who you would have been had you had their experiences and resources.   “There but for the grace of God go I” is a damned fine attitude.


But the even worse problem is more primary: if you don’t love yourself, you won’t be able to look HONESTLY at what you’ve done in and with your life.

You’ve hurt people. Stolen.  Lied. Broken promises.   Lived in illusion.   Failed to live up to your potential.  Failed to learn from experiences, because you COULDN’T without admitting things about yourself you weren’t ready to admit.


Can you grasp the amount of guilt and shame you’ll have to process to reach your truth?


But…if you love a child, you will hug them when they fall down and skin their knee. You can change their dirty diaper a thousand times, without blaming them for the stink.  Hey, its just shit.  You can cheer them on as they fall down again and again, because your love opens the door to faith.  You have FAITH that if you give them the room to grow, to fail, while always seeing Mommy and Daddy smile and laugh and speak words of encouragement…eventually they will walk, and talk, and run, and ride bicycles, and navigate the social world, and learn to take care of themselves.  They will eventually fall in love, feel the ego-rocking ecstacy of sex, and have their own children…and/or watch their parents age.  Either of those things teaches the actual structure of life, dispels illusions. And by the time you have children AND lose a parent, most of us begin to see that structure, feel it, and become “restless in the dream” , glimpsing something beyond the schoolyard games.


And according to the Sufis, enlightenment is the clarity of perception that comes at the moment of death…the Seeker merely seeks to open that door before their final breath.  To “die before they die” as it were.


We all get there.  But sometimes it can be useful to steal glimpses from the end of the path to provide illumination at the middle.




So…that’s meditation. And while there are countless varieties, the one I learned from Sri Chinmoy is both powerful AND safe, and specific to this thing called loving yourself.  Simple, and deep.


Sit quietly. Head held as if by a string from above.   Listen for/feel your heartbeat.


That’s it.  Call it 20 minutes.  I could teach on this subject…well, forever.  But a few hints to start the conversation:

  1. Yes, you can do it for shorter or longer. But 20 minutes is, on average, the “sweet spot” for most meditators, the minimum recommended dosage.
  2. The first fifteen minutes you are likely to get nothing but mental garbage.  This is both the crap you have stuffed into your system AND your ego’s attempt to slow you down or stop you.
  3. Some days will be better than others.
  4. It will take most people about 100 days to really start digging in.
  5. The voices in your head will try to convince you that ANYTHING else is more important than this.  Cutting the neighbor’s cat’s toenails starts looking mighty good.
  6. You will hear the internal chorus of “this is pointless.  Why bother. This is bullshit…” over and over.
  7. You may have an almost overwhelming urge to go to sleep.
  8. Focus on the beating of your heart. Feel it in your fingers, your throat, your wrists…wherever.   The more you relax, the easier it is to feel it.
  9. Imagine yourself as an embryo, that your heartbeat is the beat of your mother’s heart.
  10. Be patient with yourself.   Your ego will try to tell you that if you don’t get results FAST, you won’t get them



Let me tell you a story.  When I moved to the Northwest, it was on the heels of a serious heartbreak. I had to lose a chance with the woman of my dreams to wake up to the fact that my damage had thrown me off the path (remember that you have to do your work DAILY?)


When I started meditating again, it felt as if I was squatting in a cess pool. Horrible.   Every day, I was dealing with a level of pain and perceived filth and unworthiness that broke my heart every single time.  All that kept me going was that I visualized my little boy in that filth.  “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” comes to mind. I would NOT leave him there.

I would NOT.


And every day I ran “the aquarium filter on the fish tank of my soul”.   The sump pump on that bubbling cauldren of emotional feces. EVERY DAY.  Day after day.  Week after week. Month after month. And then…one day I realized I could see the floor.  It was dirty, but I’d pumped out most of the crap. There was a crack in the floor, and up bubbled more filth. But now, by pumping every day, I could stay ahead of it.


And then…one day I realized that that little boy could run the pump himself. That he had learned how to do it.  Now when I meditate, the “basement” is clean. Cluttered, yes.  But that horrid emotional filth is no longer there.


If I had NOT gone through this, I can promise you:


  1. I never would have been worthy of Tananarive.
  2. I could never motivate myself to exercise every day.  Why bother protecting your body if you have a secret loathing of your physical existence?
  3. I could never have kept writing as I have, despite the endless roller coaster of victory and disappointment.  Baby might have tried to walk 100 times, but without the love and encouragement of my internal family saying “good baby!” I’d have given up.


That’s the truth. A simple exercise with vast breadth and depth.  Start here.  Every day.  It is a foundation that will affect every aspect of your life.


And if you don’t have 20 minutes?  Try 15. Or 10.  Or ultimately, five. If five, space it out to one minutes every three hours.


And if you don’t have five minutes?  YOU ARE LYING TO YOURSELF.  It’s taken you five minutes to read this.    If you’re on Facebook, you are blowing more than five minutes every day. The average television is on some six hours a day.  YOU ARE LYING and you have to get clear on why you are so afraid to look into your heart.


It will have something to do with a fear that, deep inside, you are not lovable.  Not precious.  Not wonderful.  In other words, the very poison the medicine will counter.  Your ego DESPERATELY wants to stop you.


Its kinda like internet trolls. If you take a strong stance on social media, you will be attacked by swarms of people who have nothing better to do than try to drag others down to their level. The level they THINK they are.  They are limited by their own fears, their own damaged, shar-edged ego shields.


In other words, people who need to love themselves, and learn to see themselves in others.


The best way to help those who can be helped?  Deal with them with BOTH love and strength.  Show them that it is possible.  And if they aren’t too deeply enmeshed in a walking nightmare…they just might wake up. I’ve seen it. It happens.  They will be tender, frightened children emerging into a new world. Be gentle with them


To do that, you must deal with YOUR fear.  YOU must come from love, not anger.  If you can do that…well, you can be the Awakened Adult in the room.


The world needs you.  So…love yourself.   Every day.  Then begin to see that your “self” is connected to every other human being on the planet.  And when you see anger, you are seeing a frightened child squatting in the cess pool of their own emotions.    You may not be able to run their pump for them…but you might be able to show them that pumps exist. That it is POSSIBLE to heal, and be loving, and still be safe.


No matter what, whether your intents are selfish, or global…start with loving yourself.


Don’t ever expect the world to be better than you are.


Because ultimately…there’s no one out there but you.





Boiling it down

To boil down today’s “Lifewriting Live”: committing to love yourself can be the first step in healing, if your family or social context was damaging. That commitment, just SAYING it, is the beginning. You might try writing
“I am my own mother. I am my own father. I commit to being that ecstatic, loving, strong protective parent to the child in my heart. Every day. For the rest of my life.”
And reading that to yourself, every day. Or you might simply look in the mirror and say: “I love myself! I like myself” without the slightest hint of irony, innocent as a child. Then…you earn the right to ask to ask: what kind of life would I want for my most beloved child? And accept only positive inner dialogue.
Then you begin to take those actions, measuring your actual love of self by how joyfully you can accept both joy and discipline. This is the first step. LATER, we’ll refine techniques and find the approaches that work for you best. Then, we work on expanding your sense of self to include others. But this is where we begin.
Sound good?
More tomorrow!

The Wisdom of Meatloaf

Storytelling  is the cross-referenced answer to “what is life?” by all the world’s elders, trying to convey their life wisdom to the children of the tribe.  The “Hero’s Journey” is an extraction of a core sense of how this all works, in the simplest form I know.


But it begs the question “what is the hero”?  A hero is a human being overcoming obstacles to achieve a worthy goal.  The bigger the obstacle, the more noble the intent, the more we admire that hero.


In general, the more universal the motivation, the more important I think it is.  Life itself, the urge to survive, generally trumps EVERYTHING, to the point that a human being capable of risking life to achieve a goal, or GIVING his life to contribute to his tribe or adhere to a value, is considered about as heroic as they can get.


Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends..”  Or family.  Our country.  Or the principles that blend him with the universe.


Such a love is the strongest thing in the world.



The core animal drive is to move AWAY from pain, and TOWARD pleasure.    The adult world is largely a matter of learning to postpone immediate pleasure to avoid future pain.  Major lesson. One we struggle to give our children.


We can do this for others. Men and women sacrifice their lives, personal dreams, comfort, and freedom to provide security for their families. Because they love their children.  We can see this, all over the world, men and women alike, if you’ll just take off your blinders.  We will run into burning houses, jump into storm-tossed oceans, cough our lungs out working in coal mines, starve ourselves so that others can eat…


And all we ask is a smile, a kiss, a hug, a connection to the protection and love WE received in childhood.  There is nothing sadder than talking to someone abused in childhood, criticized in adolescence, condemned by their own parents as adults. They sometimes have no memories of EVER having been loved, protected, treasured.  That is a lie.  Human children who are not nurtured in infancy don’t survive. It is called “failure to thrive” and they wither.


So somewhere in your past, arguably before you formed permanent memories (about 2-3.5 years old, depending on the study) you were the recipient of love and caring. Someone gave you food and shelter and hugs and kisses even though you could not ask for them.  Imagine floating in your mother’s womb.  All needs supplied: warmth, nutrition, shelter. The very definition of being loved.


You are born, ushered out into a world of sharp hard things, of cold and hunger, shocking in its intensity.   All positive things relate to “love”, all the negatives are things that can hurt you: loud noises (predators and natural disasters), falling, hunger, cold.   Fear.


Two emotions, of primary import.  When you are in total love, you literally or figuratively roll over and expose your tummy.  Forebrain shuts down. Pure sensation.


When you are in total fear you can curl into a ball, paralyzed, forebrain shut down..  Pure sensation.


There is an expression that there are two wolves fighting in our hearts, love and fear. Which one wins?


The one we feed.


Why don’t we live in  a state of love, if that is what we are endlessly pursuing (pleasure instead of pain)?  Because over time we learn that if we are too open, we risk emotional or physical injury.   Fear, even if it numbs us to pleasure, keeps us alive. The primary instructions, even more powerful  than “survive” for most  is “get your grandchildren into the gene pool.”


Even if you feel no love.  Enabling your children’s survival, for your children, IS a way of saying “I love you.”  In fact, it is a way of saying “I love you” that sacrifices your own hopes and dreams.  How many of you had fathers, or mothers (more common with fathers) who never said “I love you” but when you challenged them later will say “I put food on the table and a roof over your heads.”


Unsaid: “I had dreams as a child.   I wanted to explore, and be a hero, and have adventures. Be a cowboy, or an astronaut.   Instead, I had a family, and the instant I held you, I saw the reality of my life, that I had to do everything in the world to protect you. Even at the cost of my own dreams.”


And most of those men and women did. Their dreams often rotted within them, poisoned the joy they might have felt, the “care for your family” meme fighting with the “express yourself.  Life is short. Fly free!” meme.


If you’re a parent, you’ve felt this conflict, right?




The path to spirit is one of healing the more basic levels, providing your needs on the basic levels. Each journey: to survive, gain a steady supply of sex, control your environment, find and share  love, express yourself, build a map of the world…is a separate and overlapping “Hero’s Journey.”  You can be driven by pain and fear (survival) or by love.  Until you have your basic needs taken care of, it is perfectly reasonable to be MORE motivated by fear.  Simply pursuing what you love can rip your guts out, because the urge is to GIVE EVERYTHING.


And that attracts others who want to give everything, yes…but also predators, the halt, and the lame.


It is sad to watch open-hearted people limping from bad relationship to bad relationship. When questioned, they’ll often say “well, they deserve love, too.” Yeah, but it doesn’t have to be YOURS.


The question is: “would you want your own most beloved child to be in a relationship with this person?  Have this job?   Practice this habit pattern?  Feel these emotions habitually?”


No? Then to have a good life, something has to change.


There are many “secrets to life” and the most important ones are all saying the same things…



Once upon a time there was a fertilized egg. It grew in darkness until it developed a complex nervous system, and perhaps an awareness of comfort/discomfort.   It got the nourishment and comfort it needed automatically, and spent most of its time sleeping, at peace.


After nine months it was ushered into a world of bright colors, cold, and sharp hard things.  For the first time it knew what would later be called “fear” and “anger”, but all it wanted was to return to that sense of peace. When other human beings provided that sense of safety, nourishment, and connection, it was called “love.”


Both feelings come from within us, depending upon the way we interpret what happens outside us.  Pain and pleasure.  Fear and Love.  That’s where it all begins.


We grow, and as we do, worship the amazing godlike beings who give us pleasure, or can withhold it to give us pain.   All we want is to spend as much time in the Pleasure space that we can.   But we learn that if we stay there, we actually experience more pain.


It is a paradox. And the process of adolescence is learning to resolve it.  To be happy, we must be free to pursue our pleasures. To be free, we must take responsibility, learn how to follow rules in the adult world.  We must accept pain to gain pleasure. Must do what we fear to gain love.


What is worse is that we are raised by human beings injured by this very process, who grew as children thinking they would follow their dreams, do what they wished…but then to survive and satisfy their most basic hungers found themselves channeled into a world of discipline and responsibility.  They did what they MUST rather than what they WOULD.


In other words, unless they are very clear on what they are doing and WHY they chose to do it, it’s Meatloaf’s wonderful “Paradise By The Dashboard Lights.”  A seventeen year old boy, in response to a demand that he commit to a lifetime of fealty to gain access to a seventeen year old girl’s reproductive track:


“--started swearing to my god and on my mother’s grave

That I would love you to the end of time

That I would love you to the end of time

I swore that I would love you to the end of time!


Ah, and promises made in haste are repented at leisure…



So now I’m praying for the end of time

To hurry up and arrive

‘Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you

I don’t think that I can really survive

I’ll never break my promise or forget my vow

But God only knows what I can do right now

I’m praying for the end of time

It’s all that I can do

Praying for the end of time, so I can end my life with you!!”


You know couples like this, right?  Who fell into sex love and fought to make a life with a stranger “to protect the children” and keep their vows.   Both men and women are trapped by this…unless they can master their emotions, transform their stories into a tale of choices made for THEIR reasons, and service to those they love.


If they can’t, and they end that relationship, their chances of blaming the other person and carrying that mistake forward is enormous.


Self-love gives you the strength to tell the truth.  And the truth will set you free. And even if you need to let someone go, to realize they were YOUR choice gives you the power to change, and do better next time.





People blaming their children for their own choices.  Incalculable amounts of pain there.


That’s you, by the way.  You were those children.  Who, when those parents were not careful, were blamed for the lack of freedom, the death of dreams.


You may be those parents as well.   Who, when you are not careful, let your sense of disappointment poison your relationships with what could be the greatest joy in your life.


One way or another, everything you have ever done has been an attempt to move away from pain toward pleasure.  Even the things that brought temporary pain.  Even those things that risked your life. 


Pain and Pleasure

Fear and Love.


All tied up there. And just as social ills like “racism” “sexism” and “homophobia” can be related to the tribe trying to survive, fear and guilt and anger all relate to the individual trying to survive.


Trying to recapture the peace of the womb.  Of the cradle. Of the soft arms that once held us, singing, feeding us something sweet and good, so good.




We spend our whole lives chasing that feeling, and the most successful people learn to “eat bitter to taste sweet”: to exert mighty discipline to gain greater and greater senses of accomplishment and peace. The unhappiest people chase accomplishment for its own sake, not realizing that there is no level of external accomplishment that will give you the internal peace.


The happiest people START with the sense of internal peace, and then learn to extend it to those they love through protection and contribution.


To do that, they often have to “clear out” the junk ideas and corrupted reality maps and broken beliefs and conflicted values given to them by people who may have loved them, but were dealing with their own pain.


And if you are the abused child of a society that needs to demean and control you?   You are carrying TONS of psychic garbage.  Brothers and sisters, if you don’t clean it out you are building your palace atop a cess pool.


(One of the reasons why I will not allow victim blaming. When you see dysfunctional people, and your first thought is that they asked to be this way, or this is the limit of their capacity, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM if you don’t factor in their childhood.   And when you extend this to groups? When you ask “why do X’s have all these problems?” and don’t factor in their history, you are just as blind. The very worst thing is when the abuser pretends the abuse didn’t happen, and poor little Nephew Willie sleeping in the dumpster giving blowjobs for crack ended up there by himself, that it had nothing to do with those midnight visits.    Anyone who cannot imagine what I’m suggesting on the broader social level isn’t paying attention.  Blindness is just blindness. But if you are complicit, and pretend not to understand…that is evil.  And “complicit” is a very flexible concept.)


99.9% of inter-personal problems relate to this war of fear and love, pain and pleasure.  If you want to change the world, heal this within yourself.  If all attacks are defenses, and defensiveness is triggered by fear, then coming from love stops violence.


BUT.  To be open hearted also makes one vulnerable to injury and exploitation unless you are also strong, and love YOURSELF enough to turn away those who are not healthy for your “child.”


The “child” self should remain open-hearted, loving, optimistic, creative.  For this to happen, the “adult” self must be watchful, disciplined, willing to “eat bitter to taste sweet” and to have “thick face, black heart” if necessary–to stand up to criticism and attack to protect that tender child within. But this can go too far as well, unless that adult accepts that we are NOT individual mushrooms, we are the underlying micelial mass.


The child says “I am”.


The adult says “I must.”


The elder part of you, which has seen the whole game, survived the “roar of the glands” that channels those dreams into family, has seen beyond the drive to own, compete, win, accumulate…that part of you has the secret of existence.  And a the end of life, NO ONE wishes they’d spent more time at the office.  It is “I wish I’d danced more.  Helped more. Sung more. Been less afraid of being myself.  Taken more chances. Told the people I love that I loved them more…”


What the elder sees is that all is love.


And the secret to life is to have the enthusiasm of a child, the work ethic of an adult, and the wisdom of an elder, who knows that all the things of this world are merely games. Important games, sure. But they will not make you happy unless you listen to that child within you.   And will not ultimately give you peace unless your actions, every day, are also in alignment with your deepest values.


Open hearted.  But also safe. Do you want to know how to do this?


By tapping into the core “wiring” all humans have not just to survive, but to protect our genetic investment.   Twine THOSE two drives together and you have something amazing. Healing.   With total permission to SURVIVE.  The majority of abuse happens to people who don’t have permission to maim and cripple the ones abusing them.  


We KNOW that a parent, male or female, who s a blind eye to the abuse of their children, who would not fight to protect them, is BROKEN.    You may have had “broken” parents.


If so…then YOU must be the parent you wish you had had.   One who will love unstintingly, but also discipline.   An undisciplined child is a terror in his house.  And is IN terror. Because he knows that


  1. He is not strong enough to support and protect himself.
  2. His parents are not strong enough to control him.



NOT a good combination. Remember that fear manifests as anger.  And anger causes violence.    Both love AND discipline are necessary to create healthy, happy, children…and adults.


It is never too late.  All you have to do to start the process is admit that you are afraid (anger is a mask over fear) and then love yourself.  Totally. To start with a commitment:


“I am my own mother. I am my own father.  I commit to being  that ecstatic, loving, strong protective parent to the child in my heart.  Every day. For the rest of my life.”



A statement like this, written out, read to yourself in a mirror, can produce a flood of emotions.   We are our commitments. We are the degree to which we can trust our promises.   START WITH THIS.  The commitment.


The rest is “how?”  You have to start with “what?” which gives direction, and “why?” to give you the fuel.



WHAT: to love yourself

WHY: so that you can live the life of your dreams. To be as healthy and strong as you are capable of being. To we the wellspring of your own essence, to get all you NEED from within yourself, which gives you then the freedom to love because you CHOOSE to. To be an ecstatic parent or partner, who can give without needing in return.


Wanting?  Sure.   Nothing wrong with that. But no one can hold you hostage.  No co-dependent relationships.


It starts with WHAT.   Self-love.

And WHY.  What would be different about your life if you had a deep and abiding love for yourself?


This is where you begin.   Remember: all you have ever wanted is the peace you experienced in infancy. Or in the womb. Or if you are spiritual, in your original sense of connection to the divine.


That’s all you’ve ever wanted.  And the greatest barrier will be the realization that that is all ANYONE has ever wanted.


The implications of this are stupendous.  We’ll visit them tomorrow.


But for today…just write out what you want.  If nothing else, “I LOVE MYSELF” and hold that piece of paper up to a mirror and/or look into your own eyes and say those words until you can say them without flinching.


Because if you flinched every time you said that to your baby girl, your baby boy…


Don’t you think they’d FEEL that?  Don’t you think they’d know?    And don’t you think that would matter?


So…start there, and we’ll take another step tomorrow.






The Obstacle is the Answer

The most persistent obstacles in your life are constructed of your own psychological substance.  The answer is NOT “out there”.  It rarely is, since the purpose of life is to be happy, and happiness depends on what you’re doing in your head and heart, not just external circumstances.

Let’s look at this notion, first in fiction, and then in life.




JURASSIC PARK.  The problem is that “Life finds a way.”  Hammond creates a park stocked with extinct creatures, designed to prevent them from escaping or reproducing.   Ooops.   Let’s ignore the stupidity of the park’s design (blow a fuse and the greatest predators in Earth’s history are munching on the guests) and look at the immediate cause of the disaster: human greed.  Programmer Nedry compromises the security to gain access to the frozen embryos.


Life will not be contained–it used the tool of human greed to open the doors.


And then, as they say, the fun begins. The guests are in a mad scramble for survival, they discover that some of the dinosaurs are flipping genders so that they can create mating pairs and reproduce.


Again, life finds the way.


Ultimately trapped by the intelligent velociraptors, on the edge of being killed and eaten, the T-Rex arrives and asserts its primacy in the order of things.  Velociraptor is a genus of dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur that lived approximately 75 to 71 million years ago during the later part of the Cretaceous Period.  The T-Rex existed in  the Maastrichtian age of the upper Cretaceous Period, 68 to 66 million years ago.


Get it?  Humans and Dinosaurs were separated by sixty million years or so.  But T-Rexes and Velocoraptors were ALSO separated, by about five million years.    And if you mix them together, there will be a scramble for Dino domination.  The T-Rex won. The natural order reasserted itself, and our human characters were able to scramble to safety.

T-Rex > Velociraptors > Humans, at least in this context.


Life found the way, and the basic obstacle (there is no way to control life) became the answer (how do we escape?). Get that?

You didn’t have to think about it: it FELT right.  Imagine if Sam Neil and Laura Dern had found some super-weapon in the armory and blasted their way to the heli-pad.  Would that have been a fraction as satisfying?  Nope.




When I started my writing career, I had no direct role models, and my mother told me in no uncertain terms that I was placing my future at dire risk to travel that path.  This triggered BOTH fear of success AND fear of failure.  I had multiple occassions on which I did a fantastic job on my first assignment…and then blew it on my second.   I was afraid of failure, so I brought my A-Game.  But was also afraid of success (drawing too much attention) and so sabotaged my own efforts.


But the OBSTACLE was the SOLUTION, if I could look deeply enough.  The obstacle was FEAR.  It didn’t matter what the fear concerned–I was screwing myself over, and have plenty of examples of people who were programmed in childhood to have negative beliefs about relationships, money, or physicality and let that fear drive them all their lives, even after they are adults.


If FEAR stops me, controls me…but also drives me…it is like driving a sports car with its brakes on.  What would I need to do to TAKE MY BRAKES OFF?


In other words, if there is a negative pattern of action or choices in your life, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.  Only you were there time after time.

The bad news is that if this is a pattern…you are the problem. But the good news is that that implies that you are also the greatest ally you could ever have.


I was given  no simple answer to how to do this.  But somewhere in the martial arts, yoga, meditation, NLP, shamanic work and more I got enough control to keep going NO MATTER WHAT.   The “Ancient Child” may be the single greatest tool I’ve created in this sense, at least for me, because I’m a natural “daddy”–I’d do anything for my kids. So visualizing the “kid within” triggers that “fuck it, I’ll die trying!” urge that takes me though pain, and fear, and doubt.


And every time I do it, I gain a little perspective. There WAS no single answer. What there was was a clear vision of what I loved (the future I wanted) a clear understanding that giving up was NOT an option, and a willingness to take another step. And another. And another.


You can kill me, but you cannot stop me.  Once you make that commitment, and have connected with that little kid inside you, and really grasp that no matter WHAT you do, you can’t “play small” enough to avoid dying…the rest is details.


But, as they say, the devil is in the details.





Parable of the Shmoos: Violence in America




This is a very strong article on gun violence in the United States read it.


Because of the thousands of hours of research and thought I’ve put into racism, always careful to relate EVERYTHING to universal human traits, it feels as if some of those conclusions can help to peek beyond the “Matrix” of illusions driving human behavior, the “emergent strategies”, simple commands that lead to complex results.


I could be twice as smart as I am, working with a team of a thousand people even smarter than me for a decade with a billion-dollar budget, and still not get to the end of this. I don’t pretend that I have.  I cannot imagine a simple statement of such a complex subject that won’t be argued with. It is knowing that I could write a library of footnoted textbooks and still not cover my ass that allows me to say what I’m about to say. I APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE.  MEA CULPA.


But I do think that it is worthwhile for me to risk making a fool of myself and say what I think I see here.  Why?  Well, I’ll probably put that below.


(A “Matrix  notion ‘ is a lie or fabrication so deeply engrained into our consciousness that it seems to be self-evident truth.)


And here are the core “Matrix” ideas that seem relevant.

  1. Men and women are basically of equal worth and value
  2. They are  complementary, based on different biological/genetic functions and priorities
  3. Anger is fear
  4. Neither men nor women have ever been in control in the world–our genes have been. The real emergent instruction is: “get the maximum number of grandchildren into the next generation.”
  5. These instructions prevented extermination over the 250k+ years of our history, and have been deeply encoded in social principles, religions, and more, and explain much of the rigidity of social roles and principles about sexism, racism (tribal warfare), homophobia.
  6. There are two different basic human motivations: avoid pain, and gain pleasure.  Most of our behavior, for most of our history, has been “avoid pain.”
  7. We have new options.  But we have to forgive the past to embrace the future.



So…the best way to try to say this is to imagine a fantasy story.  Imagine a world in which “humans”   used to be a somewhat  different being, call it a “Shmoo”, undifferentiated into gender or race.   Each of these Shmoos was capable of reproducing, fighting enemies and animals, or living anywhere on the planet…more or less.


But just as a single Shmoo who made all his own clothes will own a single suit and a single pair of shoes, assembly-line specialization allows us to own a DOZEN complete outfits.   Similarly, the Shmoos discovered that specializing into baby-makers and hunter/fighters was more efficient.   The sexual dimorphism was relatively slight on a biological level, but social rules and fantasies reinforced and exaggerated the differences. Religions and laws evolved over time separated them even further.


The “males” and “females” were really pretty similar, except “females” could carry babies in their bodies, and “males” were more disposable on an individual (not a reproductive) level, which made it possible to kill off 90% of them without crashing the population.    We could send them off to die fighting Lions and Mammoths, or march them into cannon fire.  Over time, this dimorphism produced the maximum number of grandchildren, a situation that worked for everyone.


A problem, however: females and males selected each other for secondary sexual characteristics and willingness to play roles: nurturance, aggression, power…all sorts of things.    As males grew larger (due to breeding) and more capable of aggression and repelling aggression, they would naturally begin to ask: “why the hell should we be the ones to go off and die?

(And here allow me to step out of the storyteller voice. If you Google “have men always had shorter life spans than women?” you will get about ten times more agreement than disagreement.  As this notion, that due to both natural, social, and behavioral factors male primates have shorter lifespans on average than females, makes sense to me on every level.   You are of course welcome to believe the opposite contention: that women living longer is a relatively recent phenomenon. I believe you have to employ more epicycles to explain that one, but if it makes sense to you, so be it. This speculation simply won’t make sense to you.

So what happened?  What became convenient?  For males to consider themselves primary.  More important.  “We’re more important so its our obligation to die” is the really interesting contradictory set of instructions.   Literally “we’re more important so we’re less important” is the functional  result.)


I digress.



The rule that produced the maximum grandchildren is “men’s lives and women’s dreams are disposable.”  Both kept in their boxes, in a rather nasty game that really benefitted neither.  One of the results is that the measures of racism and tribal domination include life span–the dominated group lives a shorter life, and dies more often due to violence.


That’s men.

On the other hand, the dominated group also has less access to power, earns less, and so forth.


That’s women.


What are YOUR priorities?  I cannot tell you what they are.  But if life is more important than money, I suggest that the claim that men are in control doesn’t wash.  But neither does the notion that women are in control.


But it make perfect sense if NEITHER is in control, but we are designed to see direct rather than indirect power. Karate makes more sense than Aikido.    “Positive Space” in art is easier to perceive than negative space. “Jazz is what happens between the notes.”  We can’t see the Yin aspect with our eyes and intellects. We have to feel the pauses in our bodies.  Our HEARTS can “feel” both.


Back to the story of Mankind.  Created by Shmoos to make more Shmoo grandchildren, and damn the results to the “men” and “women” caught in the machine.




For a ten thousand generations, men and women, bifurcated versions of the Shmoos,  built up civilization.  Living, dying, having children, loving, fighting.   Concentrating on the DIFFERENCES between them, even though babies and old people are pretty much Shmoos.    Vive La Difference!


And we spread around the world, developed different phenotypes, and different cultures, each of which developed mythologies that they were the best.  Just as men think they are the best. And women think that THEY are the best.   It’s a big joke, and it keeps us asleep, and at odds.  And serves our genes, but not us.




But there are two basic drives, remember?   “Avoid Pain” and “Gain Pleasure”.   Most of our history has been about avoiding pain…survival.   Alcohol was a great co-evolved technology, because it serves both.   Jewish culture has a great, really GREAT saying about this “Drink to be happier, not to be happy” is the basic rule. In other words, it is healthy to drink when you are already happy. But if you are in pain, WORK your way out of that pain, don’t drink your way out.  Pain is important.  It is a signal to do something different.   If you take a drug to numb that pain, you won’t take the proper actions, and that will catch up with you one day.


The above is germane: we have rules that say that work is sacred.  Necessary.  Vital.  Because it is related to survival.  The tribe will starve if we stop hunting, freeze if we stop chopping wood.  So we evolved rules that said idleness is EVIL.   That’s the avoiding pain stuff, right?


But once we moved beyond hunter-gatherers to agriculturalists, we had whole seasons where humanity could pause after the harvest, and as a group ask an important question: what is it all about?  Oh, we probably always asked that question, but about thirty thousand years ago, human beings started putting themselves into their cave paintings, and I kinda think that might represent a sea-change in our thought patterns.


The “I am” woke up. Who am I?  What is true?


As these bifurcated Shmoos, programmed with useful lies, began to build sustained colonies and begin trade, those most directly on those trade routes began to exchange memes and genes most rapidly, develop the greatest complexity.  And of course, because that’s how humans roll, they also claimed that complexity is superiority. No, it is complexity, that is all.  Cultural bigotry was born.


But the questions about “who am I?” and “what is true?” were codified, written down, debated across cultures. As some members of those cultures became more specialized, philosophers and artists became separate classes, and could spend all their time asking these questions…and the notions of freedom, and democracy, the notion of human dignity and so forth became very real things.   Power had originated from the root, humans selecting leaders. But in time the leaders became their own class, and like all other human beings began to believe their own bullshit, and claimed divine privilege.


Why were so many of these leaders men?   Perhaps because those who organized most efficiently for hunting and war survived better, and the traditional way men choose leaders on the most basic level is “Who can kick my ass?  I’ll follow him”  (the more cynical would say that was actually “I can kick your ass.  Follow me or else.”   Because everyone has to sleep, and throats are easily cut, I choose to belief that there HAS to be collusion between leaders and led, or it simply doesn’t work.)     The wrestling circle is one of the most universal human institutions.  And the village’s best wrestler either became the leader or helped choose him/her.   That’s just basic stuff.


But as the notion of human freedom began being debated, lurking just offstage was the fact that much of this world-spanning complex of human societies was based on lies: “men and women are vastly different.   Different tribes are vastly different.  God loves MY group best.”


Useful for the grandchildren, horrible for individuals.




Once upon a time there was a country called the United States.   It represented one of the last major human migrations, to one of the last major chunks of fertile land, with such a difference in technology between the new and old immigrants that the natives were crushed.  Of course, the new immigrants ascribed this to genetic superiority and “God loves us best” rather than the fractal nature of progress and innovation.

Humans are like that.


And these new immigrants felt they needed labor, and stole human beings from one of those “technology differential” areas, and hauled them in chains and misery to the new land, and declared them sub-human.


Setting up a basic conflict.   Because this country was based on the mythology of human liberty, freedom, and equality.  Oops.   And the gap between the illusion and the reality blossomed into an incredibly violent and bloody war.

Waking up is hard to do.

The problem is that change effected through force doesn’t change the heart. The “losers” were able to continue to project their mythologies on the racial level.  Why couldn’t these illusions be maintained for as long as the gender-based illusions?

Because “Gender Lies” benefit both males and females with their most basic programming of genetic and/or  personal survival.  Tribal or Racial lies do not.   Men and women CANNOT exterminate each other.  In fact, I would maintain that the actual drive is to connect, to once again become that undifferentiated creature with both attributes, and that explains both the energy of sex and the power of love.


But tribes?  Can tribes actually exterminate each other?   Ummm…have you seen any Neanderthals lately?


So racially, there was fantastic motivation to destroy those lies. It was survival. And it has been horrifically difficult, fought against at every turn.


But lies are interwoven.   And once you begin to ask “what is true?” about one aspect of this, you either stimulate or join forces with other  questions, questioners and questionings.


  1. Must women stay in their social boxes?  Why or why not?
  2. Is homosexuality an ‘evil’ or merely labeled that way because of reproductive and social/psychological imperatives?
  3. Do we even need every female to make babies?  If not, how does that change what we are and have been?
  4. Do we need every human being to work?  What happens when our technology reaches the point where fewer people are needed to till the fields and work the factories?
  5. Does the notion of nations even make sense in a world with instant communication?  Wasn’t that notion just a geopolitical convenience?


And if you start with a country that speaks of human equality, and we start telling ourselves that limiting human options is evil, but people have associated their identity with particular roles…what happens when that starts falling apart?  Who am I?  What is true?


The ego thinks it is us.  If the ego is a construct, then when it begins to crack it responds as if it is dying.  That triggers fear.   We fear fear, so we mobilize and disguise it as anger.  Anger leads to violence.  Even the NOTION that anger is fear causes fear. The next time you are in a political discussion, and some politicized person says: “Those X’s are full of anger!” Ask:

“What are they afraid of?”   And watch the most politicized refuse to accept the possibility. They cannot. Because the instant they do that they have to humanize their opponents.   And acknowledge their own anger might be…ummm…that four-letter word that dare not speak its name.


See where this is all going?




Male violence. That was the subject. For tens of thousands of years, men have operated under the illusion that they were in control.  It blinded them to the fact that they were programmed for self-destruction…and that women were complicit in that programming.  Oh, yes.


Women aren’t more peaceful.  Look up the domestic violence statistics in lesbian relationships.  Or when women are larger than their male partners.

Nope, Shmoos are Shmoos.

Remember that pesky “equality” thing?   That means you can’t take yourselves off the hook, ladies. You can’t say you weren’t involved in the decisions and actions.  White people couldn’t keep black people in chains for more than 400 years before the lie broke down, even though they had a 10-fold power advantage.

Do you really think males could keep females in chains for THOUSANDS of years with a mere 30% upper-body strength advantage?   Really?  When men are just as afraid of death as you?  Really? Remember that thing about people having to sleep, and throats being easy to cut?

The real rule is that we’ve been playing a game: women have pretended to be weaker than they really were. Males pretended to be stronger and braver than they really were. 


It wasn’t good for either men or women. Great for the grandkids, though.




In almost  ANY boxing match, equally matched contestant will trade winning rounds. If you ignore all the other rounds, you can say “We’re the best!!!” because you’re living in round 8, ignoring that you lost half the previous rounds and are likely to lose half the rounds to come.   For hundreds of years, a blink in human history, Europeans were able to think themselves superior.   Ding Ding!

Here comes round nine.

Yea, Team!   Now…the largest single motivation of the Civil War was the gap between dream and reality, a dream that had existed for only a few centuries.


Guess what, lads and lasses…we are now dealing with a much, much larger illusion.  One all tied together in a rotten bow. One that worked GREAT until now…but is coming to an end.


It’s that dream of male superiority.  Of the primacy of the Working Man as the epitome of power, the exemplar.   Of America as the ultimate nation, the richest, best, most Beloved of God.

Get that dollar, attract that female with impressive secondary characteristics (Melania Trump was asked if she would be with Donald were he not rich.  She responded “would he be with me if I weren’t beautiful?”    That’s more honesty that some people can handle, right there)




If I was a white, heterosexual male tied to what has worked in the past I’d think the sky was falling.  All the rules that kept my ancestors alive are being challenged.  If women are my equal, and can compete with me for jobs, and get those jobs, I just became less attractive. Less able to convince an attractive female to mate with me.  Or, you know, come home, have a few drinks, and bump uglies.


If blacks are my equal, then they are going to want payback.  So I have DESPERATE motivation to

  1. Believe they are not equal.
  2. Keep them in a position where they can never retaliate.


If we no longer need all human beings to reproduce, then those pesky homosexual impulses I’ve fought my entire life can come bobbing closer to the surface, triggering guilt and fear and questions about who and what I really am.


If not every worker is needed (globalization and automation)…but we still guilt-trip people for not having jobs…and that leads to people insisting that things like welfare and UHC and a social safety net are actually BAD for people…then what happens when America is the last country to implement a medical safety net for its citizens?

Could there, in other words, be a clue in that very fact? That “Lack of Safety Net” X “Income inequality” X “social upheaval” X “lots of Guns” might equal a problem?

Just maybe?

Not all people will become violent, but…violence is caused by anger.  Anger is a mask over fear.  What “stuff” connected to basic shifts in our world could cause America to have an epidemic of violence, then…?


  1. The belief on both gun and anti-gun people that their position makes them safer (every shooting, “second amendment” people scream “the victims should have been armed!” and the gun control people scream “there should be fewer guns!”)  Core disconnect, and they end up screaming at each other.  Both afraid.  That fear masking as anger.  Tragic.
  2. The shifting role of women, destroying the balance of power/sex that has existed since…well, forever.
  3. The shifting role of minorities.  Not the lip service about equality, but the implications of the reality.  Whether you think “the monkeys are taking over the zoo” or “payback’s a bitch” if you have fear in your heart, it isn’t a pretty picture.
  4. The shifting role of workers as there are literally fewer jobs, while net wealth remains constant…but more collected at the top.
  5. The shifting role of reproduction in human survival.   Rational arguments against homosexuality are just…well IMO non-existent.


Fear.  Survival fear.  Genetic fear.  Sexual pleasure fear. Power fear.  Ego fear.  On every level, plus the utter terror that all you believe may be a lie.   Surrounded by enemies who take from you everything you thought you were. Combine that with the availability of firearms, and America is in a uniquely bad position.



That’s where we are.  Is there an answer?  Of course there is, unless you are so egotistical you think you are important enough that you happen to have a front-seat at the end of the world.  Oh, please.

From a billionth of a second after the “big bang” the history of the universe has been connection and complexity, with bumps along the way.

So it is easy for me to envision  a world on the other side of ALL these current problems. One with gender and racial parity, one in which both men and women are functioning not “moving away from fear and pain” but “moving toward love and pleasure.”   A world in which mankind, humankind is moving out of its adolescence and toward an intellectual and spiritual maturity.


All we have to do is love ourselves enough to admit to our flaws. Forgive ourselves for being driven by fear, however it masks. Forgive our ancestors, who were doing the best they could with the resources they had.  For man and women, black and white, gay and straight…to love each other…while remaining strong enough to resist the violence of frightened people.

There is an amazing future out there waiting for us.  If this generation of black folks is “the hope and the dream of the slave” then this generation of human beings is the hope and the dream of every ancient Shmoo  terrified by the natural world, fearful of diseases and predators and weather, bifurcating into a separated being to fight back more efficiently, misunderstanding the gender opposite just as we rarely understand the Yin and Yang of our own personalities.  Driven to work from fear rather than drawn by joy: the War of Art between management and artist.


America is in the Dark Night of the Soul. The way through is, as always, the Leap of Faith: Faith in ourselves, faith in our companions, and faith in whatever higher power or patterned universe you choose to hold sacred.


Faith that, if this is correct, freedom for women means freedom for men as well.    There is nothing to fear, once we throw off the chains that bind our thoughts.  It is possible that everyone born before effective birth control will have to die before we are relatively free of sexism. That everyone born prior to 1970 will have to die before racial equality is the real, dominant principle. Everyone born before a wide acceptance that the planet has reached peak population die before homosexuality is no longer stigmatized. Everyone born before Buckminster Fuller proposed that we accept a new paradigm for work and life before a Universal Basic Income becomes a human right.

Racism, sexism, homophobia, and the “Protestant Work Ethic” all make sense if they INCREASE survival.  But the instant they DECREASE it, lead to more pain than pleasure our brains will “flip the switch” and the new possibility will seem less and less crazy.


I submit to you that that switch has flipped.   But if you were born before the “flip” you may not be able to see it, feel it.  But…I trust those grandchildren. The Shmoos always knew it was about the grandchildren, remember?  And I think they’ll be just fine.


After more ugliness.  Oh, yes.   There will be more violence. Because people are angry. Because they are afraid. The world is changing.

Waking up is hard to do.

I see it, so clearly.  And hope that however flawed these thoughts might be, they’ve served their purpose…and you see just a little more clearly as well.





Are you “worth it”?

At the end of this essay, I’m going to give you the secret to having anyone you want. No kidding.   But you have to read the whole thing for it to make sense…so don’t skip ahead.



On another thread, Anasa Troutman proposed a “new rule” for relationships: “you get to interview the last two people they dated.”


Someone mentioned that T and I had done that, and when they tagged me, it brought the post to my attention.


I answered that we’d not QUITE done that, but close enough.   The first time she came to visit me in Vancouver Washington, I sat her in a room with my ex and my daughter, told them to talk about anything they wanted, and left for an hour.


I wanted T to have all the information she needed to make an informed decision.  She had that right.  More, I loved her enough to want her to be happy.


Anasa said:

Steven how did you get to that kind of selflessness? So many of us want to hide the things we think will drive the ones we want away. For many being vulnerable is still difficult after YEARS of marriage much less before the journey is hardly underway. Did you do this for her or did was that kind of transparency something you did for yourself because of some personal commitment or practice?”


This struck me as a question I needed to slow down to answer.  I’ll answer it from the framework of storytelling:  Here is what I call my CHILD’S STORY:


Once upon a time there was a boy who wanted three things when he grew up.  He wanted a writing career. He wanted to be a martial artist. And he wanted a family to love.  He was afraid he couldn’t have these things. Everyone told him he could not.  But he decided to try, and work a little harder every day, and never quit.  He found wonderful teachers along the way, and learned things. And still fell on his face. But every time he did, he found the faith to keep going, and got back up, changed his approach, found someone who knew better than him and followed their lead, and tried. And tried. And…one day he got it all. 



THAT’S my story.  The one I tell myself every day.  And this is how it applies to the specific question of finding a mate.  Let’s start with the failure.



When my first marriage went south, I was devastated. I had screwed up.  Totally, and swore I wouldn’t do that again.    I wanted a partner, a love, someone I could really share my life with, and would settle for nothing less.



I knew that the woman I desired was smart, ambitious, beautiful, sensual, creative, fun, fierce.  I wanted a lioness.   The natural reality is so damned simple people don’t want to look at it: A  LIONESS WANTS AND NEEDS A LION.  Bam.  No excuses.  Simple.


So…the question is: am I a lion?    What about all my fears and doubts and damages. Could I be a lion despite my doubts?





There is a story about a lion cub who was adopted by a flock of antelope.  He grew up, believing he was an antelope. Then one day the flock was attacked by a pride of lions.  They fled, and several were caught and killed. The lion cub was cornered, and trembled, awaiting death. The lions looked at it with curiosity, and the chief lioness suddenly realized what the problem was. She took the cub by the neck, and dragged it down to the river.  “Look at yourself!” she said.  “You are not an antelope!  You are a lion!”


 The cub looked…and was transformed.




What your heart craves is the mirror of your soul.   Meditation, going deeply into your essence and asking: “what do I crave?  Desire?  Want and need?” separating “wants” from “needs”, short-term pleasures from long-term joys…this is the process.


You have to know what you want. Believe that you can and should have it.  Love yourself enough to believe that there is a gift within you worth anything anyone could offer.


The group “Fifth Harmony” has a song called “Baby I’m Worth It.”  My son loves that song.



“Give it to me, I’m worth it

Baby I’m worth it

Uh huh I’m worth it

Gimme gimme I’m worth it


Just gimme you, just gimme you

Just gimme you, that’s all I wanna do

And if what they say is true

If it’s true, I won’t get mad at you

I may talk a lot of stuff

Guaranteed, I can back it up

I think I’mma call your bluff

Hurry up, I’m walkin’ out front…”



And all I think about when I hear it is that EVERYONE should feel that way about themselves–that we have a treasure in our hearts, worth ANYTHING anyone else could offer.


If they don’t see it?  Fine. Go with God, have a wonderful life and find happiness with someone who’ll be better for you.


You have to believe in yourself enough to see NO ONE ON THIS PLANET as above you. You know what the cost of that is?  To give up all sense that you are better than anyone else.  That’s it.  Think you’re better than others?  You will always fear there are others better than you.


Knowing that you are “worth it” doesn’t mean others aren’t. Can you grasp that?


So my task was to find that sense of self-worth.

What if the person you want isn’t interested? Well, either my judgement is off, or theirs is.   In either case, it’s nothing to stress about, AS LONG AS YOU ACTUALLY LOVE YOURSELF.  The “friend zone” stings a little, but its fine. I’ve “friend zoned” plenty of ladies who were interested in me, but weren’t the right fit. Only fair for it to happen in return. Nothing personal at all. We just didn’t fit.


If Tananarive looked closely at me and saw that we didn’t fit, it was her OBLIGATION to back away.  Hella better now than down the road ten or twenty years, don’t you think?




But to have that clarity, you have to start with the sense that you are precious.  You are “worth it.”   Perhaps with the sense that there is a precious child within you.  Why is this so powerful?    We are wired to protect children and see them as beautiful and filled with infinite potential.  THIS is the feeling we get when we go into our own hearts, find the light within us, and form it into a child-self.  And adore that child.   It might take time to do this, especially if we were not treasured as children, or if we have betrayed ourselves. We can do that by selling out our dreams, being in inappropriate sexual relationships, allowing people to treat us as less than precious.


It is a form of “inner child” abuse.  I did that once, and it took me a YEAR of daily meditations to heal.  But it was worth it.  A story for another time.


What if you are attacked by your culture, if the majority broadcasts images that say you are not as beautiful, wonderful, brilliant, sexy, valuable–the images they offer themselves and their own children a thousand times a minute on ever movie screen, television screen, video, song, and in every history book and billboard?


Well, then, you have even MORE work to do.   No, its not fair.  If you want “fair” you’re looking at the wrong world.  Stand on the shore and say it isn’t fair for the tide to come in and make your shoes wet.  You’ll get wet shoes.   SCREW “fair.”

You have to be willing to fight for your heart the way a mother lion fights for her cub.  Period.  Or that cub will look at you and say: “why, Mommy?  Wasn’t I worth fighting for?”

Hell, yes, that child is worth fighting for.  No compromises.  PERIOD.


If when you close your eyes and ask what you want and need in a mate you see someone fierce, ambitious, passionate and strong…you are dreaming of a lion.


Who wants and needs a lioness.  Or vice versa.

And here’s the beautiful thing: if you love yourself, and are working on yourself, you will grasp that you’re doing the best you can with what you have, and it is wonderful. And…you will be attracted to those at the same point in THEIR journey, who are as far from THEIR “perfection” as you are from yours. You are climbing the same mountain, at the same rate, on the same trail.   That feels miraculous, once you experience it.

The work to do is intense. You have to be willing to shed the illusions, dig down into your heart, ask that inner essence what you really desire and if it is in alignment with your conscious hopes and dreams and values…


Get to work.  Here’s a couple of game-changers:


  1. Admit what you really want. Stop compromising.
  2. Commit to becoming the kind of person who can attract and hold that kind of partner.
  3. Love yourself enough to forgive yourself for not being perfect.  No one is.  But the instant you REALLY accept yourself…you will open your heart to someone who is as far from their “perfection” as you are from yours.
  4. Find allies. Talk to people who are in love, and have been long enough to produce grandchildren (say twenty years or so).  THEY are the “winners” of the mating game whether they have actually had children or not.
  5. Talk to people who are as close as possible to your “ideal partner”.   Ask what they are seeking in a partner.   If you have chosen carefully, what they describe is what your heart truly wishes to be.  Not for “them”–but for you.
  6. The best meditation that is BOTH powerful AND safe is simply sitting quietly and “listening” to your heartbeat.  Keep bringing your thoughts back there, again and again.  All there is is love.   All other thoughts are the “stuff” you have to move beyond to connect to your essence.



In other words, believe you are worth it.

Oh,  I promised the secret to getting anyone you want.


Simple.  Can you see it?  Think about what I already said and try to guess what I’m going to say next.







The secret to having anyone you want?   DON’T WANT ANYONE YOU CAN’T HAVE.

No, this isn’t a word game.   By knowing yourself, you know your tribe.   Then simply look for members of your tribe who have their “green light” on–they are looking for partners.


Go deeply enough, know yourself enough, and all you’ll see in the world are wonderful human beings…and a few wonderful human beings with green lights shining.  Approach them.   If you don’t get the right response, you weren’t perceptive enough.  It’s YOUR issue, not theirs.  Do more work.


Here’s what I promise you…if you do enough work, you’ll hit a point where you stop making mistakes.  Do that, and it feels like the world is filled with people who want you, in the same way that if you buy a new car, suddenly you see that car EVERYWHERE.


Maybe you’ll play the field a little at this point. I sure as hell did, and it was fun.  But…I got tired of it.   Realized that what I really wanted was a partner, someone I could share my life with, who I could really BE with, without masks or games.


And I literally dropped to my knees and prayed for it, asked God or the Universe or whatever was listening that I “got” it, understood the game, understood how it all worked…and didn’t want it.  And was willing to wait for the rest of my life, if necessary, to find the right woman.


And…the very next morning, I met Tananarive.






“He bleeds too”


What is your empowering story?



Last Christmas, I gave myself the single best gift I’ve ever had: three hours of private instruction with a man who, for various cultural   and practical reasons, might well be the greatest martial arts instructor in history, Danny Inosanto. He was Steve Muhammad’s Kempo  instructor, Bruce Lee’s lead student, and considered the world’s greatest authority on the beautiful and devastating Filipino martial arts.  He’s eighty years old, travels the world teaching every weekend, and is still blur-fast and kinesthetically as perfect as a human body can be.  He moves more stiffly now than when I trained with him in the early 80’s, but when performing his beloved arts he moves like a teenager.  He is always training in something: currently Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Russian Systema, and Capoeira, I believe.


We worked sticks, knives, empty hands, push hands,  kicked the bags together, worked Capoeira footwork, talked Bruce Lee and training after fifty (a classic comment: “you can stay in shape as you get older, Steve…it just a little harder to motivate yourself every year”) and how I could continue to improve despite a busy life…specifically, daily training and taking frequent workshops.   He said that some of his very best students no longer attend weekly classes…but they work out at home, and come back to the school for intensive training a few times a year.




He is a master of masters.  No slightest question about it, and it is always fascinating to get close to such people.  In EVERY case, what I’ve seen is daily focused play, real love for the thing they’re doing, performed over decades combined with an encyclopedic knowledge of their field.   The only “talent” I see in common, ever, is the ability to maintain that focus and enthusiasm long after most people have given up and pretended they didn’t care.


This is why the concept of “talent” is such poison to me: I never see it lift people up.  Only to excuse why people quit: “I didn’t have the talent.”


But how do you do that?  Keep going over decades?  First, a clear outcome.  WHAT do you want.  Then, you have to have reasons to do it, and keep doing it, and keep doing it even after everyone else has gone home.   And that means you find something you LOVE and put everything you have into it. But…we are motivated by both PAIN and PLEASURE.  So the best of the best of the best will and do use both.


One of the things I do is to speak quietly and carefully to Masters, and discover what the core memories might be, the “Epiphany Bridges” that made the light bulb go off in their heads and realize that they had found a path to knowledge andpower which, pursued, would bring them joy in life.  “The purpose of life is to be happy” said the Dalai Lama.  Not just to “not hurt” or “not be afraid” but to be HAPPY.  FORGET “to do” lists until you are clear on your OUTCOMES and the emotional reasons you MUST have them.   Have enough “whys” and the “hows” take care of themselves.


So…what was I really about with Danny?  Why did I really want those three hours?  I wanted to know what motivated the master, that’s what.   (I’ve done this with Elon Musk and other ultra-performers, by the way.  Stories  for another time).


So…what is his core motivating memory?   He was in elementary school, and there was a bully who terrorized the playground.  Like everyone else, Danny was afraid of him. One day, this bully attacked a friend of his, and Danny jumped into it and got pounded.  The teachers pulled the two of them apart, and for a moment the bully was restrained and Danny was not.  Danny jumped in and punched him in the nose. Blood squirted and the bully howled.  As the teacher pulled Danny to the principle’s office, he thought to himself:  “he bleeds too!”


He bleeds too. That single image, of an apparently invulnerable bully who could be stopped, or hurt, by skill and courage and timing, has motivated Danny his entire life.    Wow.




Do you know the first time YOU got excited about the possibility of your chosen area of mastery? And if you insist you aren’t interested in mastery of anything…why not?   Why settle for “being good” or “being expert”?   Why not find the thing you love, put your energy behind it for a lifetime, and produce the results that would really make your “inner child” happy?  Because you can’t make money?  Money isn’t skill at your art…it is skill at marketing.  And a good marketer can market ANYTHING.   All that requires is 1) belief that you have something of value to offer the world and 2)lack of fear of rejection, 3) modeling successful marketers.  Develop these, and then decide what you want to do with your life, AND DO IT.



So…in your “Morning Ritual” you should have your “outcome” but also connect with the DRIVING EMOTIONS that give you power.    You can always tell when people do their job “for the money” as opposed to being fascinated and committed and passionate about the project.


If you want to make money, remember that money comes from sales and marketing, and sales is “a transfer of enthusiasm from one person to another.”  This is why people in business meetings so often say “we’re really excited about X…” because through practical experience they KNOW that they have to get excited in order to make things happen. Sometimes they’re just going through the motions, of course. But if YOU can be genuinely excited, you have a chance to infect THEM with that enthusiasm. And then there is no sales resistance, and the project can cook.




So…for me, three things are primary: family, writing, martial arts.  That means that the first thing when I wake up in the morning, I can remember the MOTIVATING FORCE OR IMAGE behind each of them. Tap into the emotions, the “why”.   Love and passion connect to the moment I realized that a lioness needs a lion.  T is a lioness.  If I want the fun and passion and contribution of being a worthy mate to her, I must be at my best.  I connect with yummy reasons to hold this energy.


Writing?  I remember the moment I realized I was born to be a writer, standing in front of an audience at Pepperdine University, having won a short story contest and reading it to the group, watching the Alumni smiling and applauding.


Martial Arts?   Remembering when I backed the worst bully I’d ever known down because I was willing to die and he wasn’t.  Stepping out into the middle of the street on Washington boulevard, inviting him to join me to continue the fight. And…he blinked.


The peace and power I felt, calm in the midst of danger, transformed my life.  The joy of holding the attention of these successful people transformed my life.  The memory of watching beautiful women walking with powerful men as hunting pairs transformed my life.


And there is another level.   If I rotate between these visions, these feelings, sometimes I can find a place inside me that resonates with all three.  I cannot quite tell you what it is–it is not a thing of words. But when I find that place IT IS HUGELY GENERATIVE.


THAT is the place I seek in morning meditation. In Tai Chi.  In writing. In connecting with my wife, or my son.


When I find THAT place I know I’ve hit something special, and when I tap that spring, it connects to everything else in my life.   It is amazing.


But it all starts with WHY DO YOU DO IT?


What is your “he bleeds too!”


Find that…and the door to mastery opens for you.