April 16, 2014

20 Comments

Radiation Oncology

It’s Passover and after four glasses of wine I was determined to write an uplifting post, but I recently discovered something I had written many years ago during a dark period of my life. It’s not uplifting but I thought it worth sharing in the spirit of thankfulness. _________________ “Thank God I don’t have to […]

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March 29, 2014

35 Comments

Dying To Live

  I have spent the last three weeks watching someone I love die horribly. It is over. We cannot choose the way we die, only the way we live, so I flew home yesterday and used the time to reflect on another way  we might be said to die. Life is lived at the edge. […]

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March 15, 2014

37 Comments

Visiting The Gates Of Hell

I am writing this post on my phone, in a waiting room, just outside the gates of hell, and I’m delighted not to have been invited in. This particular hell is an English intensive care unit (ICU) and all the patients inside are in constant pain or extreme discomfort, and have either been or are very close […]

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February 9, 2014

29 Comments

Is The Ocean In The Bone Vault Only The Bone Vault’s Ocean?

My friend from Asia has powers and magic, he plucks a blue leaf from the young blue-gum And gazing upon it, gathering and quieting The God in his mind, creates an ocean more real than the ocean, the salt, the actual Appalling presence, the power of the waters. He believes that nothing is real except […]

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February 1, 2014

48 Comments

What Does It Feel Like To Lose One’s Mind?

Someone I love (let’s call him RT) is scared he is losing his mind and, given certain behavioral characteristics since childhood, he may be right. He is currently in a psychiatric hospital, a location which, to my naïve and unprofessional mind, is a sure way to speed the process of complete detachment from the wider […]

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January 26, 2014

34 Comments

The Person You Divorce Is Not The Same Person You Married

The title of this post applies to anyone you are going to war with through the court system. It could be your spouse or even your business partner, but at the end of the day you will not think he or she is the same person you knew before, and the likelihood is that they […]

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January 19, 2014

53 Comments

Life is Not a Dream But Much of it is Built on Illusion

Life is not a dream but much of it is built on illusion. Our thoughts like to run in safe, accustomed grooves, without crossing the chasms of paradox and subtlety necessary to understand the real world. For example, although wealth accumulation is not necessarily a zero-sum game it’s still true that the prosperity of one […]

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January 11, 2014

23 Comments

‘Parades’s End’, A ‘Downton Abbey’ For Grown Ups

I have just finished reading what is, perhaps, one of the greatest 20th century novels in the English language. The author, Ford Madox Ford, is certainly not unknown, particularly as Parade’s End came out as a successful BBC miniseries in 2012, with the protagonist played by Benedict Cumberbatch. However Ford Madox Ford is certainly not a […]

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January 2, 2014

30 Comments

Poverty, Dignity and Happiness

On New Year’s Eve my teenage daughter wrote me a card which said, among other things: “Thank you for being my dive partner! I love our crazy adventures, in or out of the sea. You’re my adventurer! I know we have our silly squabbles, but I love you to the moon and back and we […]

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December 22, 2013

46 Comments

Sex Twice A Day

When I first read Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships (henceforth referred to as Dawn) everything appeared to fit into place. It seemed to tie together all the random thoughts I have had over the years about marriage, the nature of sexual jealously and the role […]

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December 13, 2013

40 Comments

The Smile That Redeemed The Human Race

Many years ago, in a different lifetime, I was hurting emotionally because of the actions of someone I loved. The exact cause is irrelevant. My face clearly showed anguish. As I was driving along I stopped at some lights and another car containing two young women stopped, facing me in the other direction. One of […]

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November 25, 2013

22 Comments

The Peregrine: Escaping the Human Perspective

Most nature writing is understandably from the human perspective, how nature affects us, the challenges it presents and what benefits we can obtain from it. The problem with this approach is that we cannot escape the constraints of language, and our stories about literature, religion, poetry, philosophy and drama tend rather to emphasize our separateness […]

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November 18, 2013

37 Comments

The New Silence

Before our local Borders bookstore closed I used to wonder why so many students would choose the ‘silence’ of its noisy café to do their homework. Visit your bustling local coffee bar and you will see it full of people who have chosen to do work that they need to concentrate on. Many of us […]

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November 13, 2013

11 Comments

Our Visit From An Earth Mother

Last week our family’s house guest was an Earth Mother. She actually lives in a wind-swept land of magic and music but says that she comes from nowhere in particular. Sometimes as invisible as an experienced couch surfer and sometimes larger than life, she appears to be completely self-contained, having the ability to find stillness […]

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October 27, 2013

45 Comments

What Is Your Relationship With Your Future Self?

Most of my financial planning clients feel strongly that they are willing to forgo present consumption for the sake of future consumption i.e. they are willing to make sacrifices now to ensure a financially secure retirement for themselves in the future. However, a few have no desire to make this sacrifice and simply don’t feel […]

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October 16, 2013

40 Comments

Are We Just Naked Apes?

While on a scuba diving course last weekend I was told, quite correctly, that in the marine world we are guests, and as over 70 percent of the world’s surface is covered by water it’s presumptuous of us to call the planet ‘earth’, rather than say, ‘oceania’. The instructional video also talked about our delicate […]

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September 29, 2013

42 Comments

The Myth of the Dark Ages

I recently watched Agora, the movie about Hypatia, a female mathematician, philosopher and astronomer in late 4th century Roman Egypt. In the film Hypatia struggles to save the Great Library of Alexandria from destruction and is finally murdered by Christian bigots. The film suggests what Stephen Greenblatt clearly states in his book, The Swerve: How the World Became […]

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September 21, 2013

50 Comments

The Importance Of Getting Lost

Your friend Steve gives you the key to his drink’s cupboard and tells you that if he asks for the key in the next few days you are not to give it to him. A few days later he asks for the key and you remind him what he originally said to you. He replies […]

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September 15, 2013

18 Comments

The Dystopia of all Dystopias

The abrupt change in J.D. Ballard’s life, from a youthful pampered existence to a struggle for survival in a Japanese internment camp, has been immortalized in Steven Spielberg’s film Empire of the Sun. Later, Ballard went on to become a well-known English writer of dystopian novels, such as The Drowned World, The Burning World and […]

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September 6, 2013

35 Comments

Secret Writing

The political philosopher, Leo Strauss, argued convincingly that most of the great works of philosophy and political philosophy before the Enlightenment cannot be just “read” because they were written to conceal as much as they revealed. This makes sense, because before the emergence of secular liberal democracies authors had to be particularly sensitive to the […]

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September 1, 2013

48 Comments

Solitude, Backpacking and the Art of Leadership

Solitude is not the same as loneliness. It is only when we long for company that we feel lonely. It is as if our life consists of many pieces of music, each in various stages of composition. Sometimes we are content with the music we have but sometimes we become aware of our loneliness only […]

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August 26, 2013

23 Comments

Eulogy to my Hiking Boots

The time has come for me to live and you to die and we both know which is best. Your waxed form never again to face the thudding Sierra nor the blistering desert. Never again to feel the living earth nor the hellish hail. My friends, your wizened and cracked faces bring comfort, but a […]

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August 17, 2013

25 Comments

Native Moments

Native Moments NATIVE moments! when you come upon me—Ah you are here now! Give me now libidinous joys only! Give me the drench of my passions! Give me life coarse and rank! To-day, I go consort with nature’s darlings—to-night too; I am for those who believe in loose delights—I share the midnight orgies of young […]

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July 27, 2013

34 Comments

Focus

It’s 2:30 am on a virtually moonless night. We are roped together and attempting  to summit Mt. Shasta by climbing a steep wall of snow and ice only illuminated by our headlamps. The scene looks surreal but we are totally focused on placing our cramponed feet in the depressions made by the person in front. […]

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July 21, 2013

23 Comments

A Sense of Wonder

Lying under the stars in the Sierra Nevada and having a front seat at the greatest and longest running celestial production, I can’t help but feel a quickening of the pulse, a swelling of the heart and a suspension of breath, the usual accompaniments of a profound sense of wonder. Richard Dawkins has described wonder […]

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July 12, 2013

21 Comments

Shopping as Theater or Grind

I recently watched a film in a movie theater in a ‘transitional’ neighborhood in Oakland and was more than pleasantly surprised on walking through the unimposing entrance to what could have been a very large garage. The scene opened up to a cheerful combination of café, pub and pizza parlor. Orders could be eaten in […]

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