Sitka Soup for the Soul

How do we imagine life leading us somewhere, and the randomness of it all. The synchronicities and consequences of our actions? Unless we, looking over our lives, reflect on who we are, and how we got to be this person, we might miss the importance, the value others have had on our thinking, and as a direct result, our lives, and experiences.

This world lost the presence of a great soul Easter Sunday morning, while so many of us were celebrating the resurrection of one, I found myself reflecting on the loss of another. Will Swagel and I met at New York University – we grew up barely 20 miles from each other on Long Island, but it took 18 years of life for our sacred contract to bring us together. The day I walked into room 601 at the Brittany Dorm on 10th St. was one of those rare occasions where, when you meet someone you feel a connection, in the minds eye, that goes back centuries, millennia. Thinking back, it may have been to the wisdom schools of Greece, because to me, it was as much philosophy (love of Sophia – knowledge) as it was friendship. It was Will who put Isabel Hickey’s book Astrology: A Cosmic Science in my hands. He introduced me to the poetry of Joni Mitchell, and Marshall McLuhan’s – The Medium is the Massage, James Joyce, Beethoven’s Symphonies, and there is the night to remember in New Paltz, NY, under a icy, starlit winter sky, where we concluded that Prometheus may have given us fire – but that “Man took the fire, and there was hell to pay”.

Will was born in the sign of Aquarius, the water barer, in the crisp cold electric air of winter, and I a Scorpio, a fixed water sign – ice … We had a connection. Aquarius, Hickey says, is the most human sign of the Zodiac, and while we all have flaws, Will’s humanity lives well in my mind; He freely shared whatever was his to offer, he had a unquenchable thirst for knowledge, a love of the arts, and literature, and of course his own self-expression in his assenting voice and always through his writing.

In the 1970’s everyone drove Volkswagen’s, and another connection we had was “Jerome” (named after Jerome Ave in the Bronx, NY) a sky blue 1967 VW Beetle – any collector today will tell you they were the best year made and he proved it. When we left NYU, Will and his two closest friends, Renee and Jerome left to go on a cross country adventure, while I turned wrenches at at Bell Bug works and listened to John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High. But our bond remained and not more than 6 months after they returned Will and I were roommates again on Misty Road, Rocky Point, NY – Cats and kittens, lot’s of maryjane, and endless conversation about the meaning of life. We both drove our beetles, rode my motorcycle, and listened to a collection of LPs, many of which I still do. We read a lot and we never owned a TV. It was the end of the Vietnam era, and our country was changing, as were we – leaving Misty Road to continue our education, me to the car dealers, and Bill to SUNY New Paltz, to finish his degree.

And so we grew, up and apart, but there were letters, photographs, phone calls, and families to raise. I admired his move San Francisco, he knew what was right, and did it, he knew how to love, and shared it well.  I always felt our connection, no matter the years, a phone call always brought us back to our own Ode to Joy.

Step by step he was lead to Sitka – the old Russian Capital, this Russian Jew, who got beat up when he was a kid for killing Jesus, found his home in Sitka. The ocean, the nature, the people. I always felt a warmth from him when he talked about his life there. The place that held him warmly in its heart, as I know he felt the same.  I can only wonder at what fond stories his neighbors will tell, but I do know this man, who lives as a brother in my memory.  He will be missed, by me and by people I will never know, in ways too numerous to describe, except that we share a common bond; We knew the man, his sometimes sly laughter, his cigarettes, his unbuttoned coats, who wrote ten times ten thousand words, touched just as many hearts and will live lifetimes over and over in all of our hearts.

The Blame Game

Is your story a Comedy or Tragedy, this is what I want to know … Honestly I could say it is probably a little of both, depending on where you are in life, and what you choose to believe.

I am sure everyone has heard the expression – “We can’t choose our parents” … To be truthful, my research (and my intuition) tells me otherwise. That we actually do choose our parents, and that we get everything we want out of life, both because and in spite of it. Pause a moment and reflect, even the most ardent agnostic has to admit there is now some very compelling (physical) evidence that there is intelligent design going on in this universe, and that Homo Sapiens is one of the ultimate examples of it.

So why do we play the blame game? First of all it is what we are taught, and by taught I mean programmed to be. Blame is a prime factor in modern life – Look at the Billboards along the highways, the TV adds “INJURED? WE CAN HELP call 1-800-GET-SUED and we will get you everything that is coming to you.” So you see, we are taught to blame others, otherwise we would have to take responsibility for our own actions, our own lives, and that would mean that we were attempting to find our own destiny, to becoming truly hu-man; Spirit-Man.

Dr. Wayne Dyer tells one of the best stories in this regard – He is interviewing a patient and after some number of minutes he tells this person “Stop! I’ve heard enough, what I want you to do is leave now and go and get your mother”, The patient is surprised and asks why?
“Well” he says “I want to get your mother in here so I can straighten her out, and then all of your problems will go away”

And there it is – The perfect example of where we have gotten to. It’s not my fault, it’s my mother’s, or my father’s, or anyone else’s who came along that I let program me, and even though I run the programs, I am not the one who wrote them, so I am not responsible.

Now hear this – it’s a free will universe – I have to tell you that any Computer Professional would not care who wrote the program, if it is defective, it is the owners fault, and the consequences of a faulty program can lead to disciplinary action “up to and including termination”.

Destiny, free will, fate … All words we use to justify our abdication of our own free will in the blame game, when the reality is our destiny is shaped by it. And yes, we make choices from the time we prepare to come into this world, and each and every moment thereafter. So choose wisely. Write your own program, it feels the best to run your own, and there is no one to blame for it but ourselves …


there is no love
without consciousness
there is no life
without love

how do we tear
ourselves apart
with only a word
come to be

what could I say
to forgive you
of yourself
and the weight

the burden you bear
for no other reason
than the comfort
of its presence

like the yoke
of the oxen
without it
life undefined

purpose in being
ours to decide
will we be
what we will

the past is buried
a windswept tide
washes the stains
from our lives

each day a flower
waiting to bloom
from the burden
buried before …


Where would I be?

‘Graycliff’ – Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect – Evans, NY, USA

Where would I be,
were it not for lovers quarrels
and their moments of passion
in the night?
Some seeking, longing for love.
For all that earth employs
and gives of us –
Where would I be?

This, then my question –
Such thoughts meander
and surround me,
wandering in the emptiness
of space, filling in
the vacuum of my mind.
There is my reality –
in That I am whole.

Dance with a lover of life,
wrapped in the arms
of an almighty presence,
contemplating I’s.
Where time is lost
and life stands still
waiting to begin again,
there I’ll know you.

Here, where I am
I have always been,
no other place.
This is all that I dreamed –
to have stepped from forever,
into a moment,
a light on the path
of a long journey home.

For more information about Graycliff visit the website at

Growing into Love

There’s a universe of feeling
we live inside of here
within this dream made real
(to think of who we are)
and here I read a word or two
something someone wrote
about the way she felt inside
(how hard it was to try)

to stop the world revolving
making everything take flight
into a topsy turvy place
(only children seem to know)
yet still they understand
what it’s like to be adult
and they don’t want to grow up
(‘cause they see the way we are)

I didn’t want to either
(and I still deny the truth)
that age gave me the way I am
and who I am to you
but still the ways I hurt you
are all ‘bout parenting
and I forgive my mom and dad
(as you’ll forgive yours too)

because the thing you’re learning
is the reason why we love