Monday, April 30, 2012


Off to carry mail for the United States Post Office again today. I don't think I've mentioned this yet but I'm a substitute rural mail carrier. Which means I work an average of one day a year carrying mail. Given our lifestyle that's about enough for me.

Planted thirty-five red pine and an apple tree over the weekend. It always feels good to plant a few trees in the spring. Now the work begins trying to keep them alive through the summer dry spells.

Yesterday I got the chance to sit down and read close to 50 pages in All of the Above. I bookmarked a page so I could write down a quote(I usually do this but never write down the quote. Then I end up pulling books off the shelf looking for the quote that never got written down.)that I think would have went well with yesterday's post.

"It's the last thing he would have expected, but there it was. For the first time in a long time, Cole felt fully alive, as if the state trooper had given him a blessing instead of a fright. He could still feel the Earth moving majestically beneath him. And he could imagine himself standing straight and true on this slowly-spinning ground, as if, finally, finally, he belonged here. There were huge forces at work all around him: spinning underneath, flitting overhead, stirring deep inside. There was some vast story being enacted in the universe. He understood very little of it and he was scared as hell. But he was also needed. He was involved. He had a role. His actions now mattered in a way they never had before. Like a pupal moth beginning to form it's wings, Cole could feel the first hints of some new purpose he might serve in the wider world, some grander meaning he might discover beyond the caretaking of his family. Rather than finding the right script to follow before he could live his life, Cole now found himself thrust onstage with no script at all."--Timothy Scott Bennett, Pg.140, All of the Above

Although I wasn't married after I had read Ishmael, most of the paragraph describes how I felt. There really was no script to follow, and that felt odd but good. It still does.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


It's been a couple of days since I've watched The River of Vision - On the Works of Daniel Quinn, Author of Ishmael. It's got me thinking about the effects of reading Ishmael. One thing that I think happened to me after I read Ishmael is that I became one of the shipwrecked. Ortega y Gasset once said:

"The [person] with the clear head is the [person] who frees himself from all fantastic 'ideas' and looks life in the face....Instinctively, as do the shipwrecked, he looks round for something to which to cling, and that tragic, ruthless glance, absolutely sincere, because it is a question of his salvation, will cause him to bring order into the chaos of his life. These are the only geniune ideas; the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest rhetoric, posturing, farce...."

Come to think of it, right now I would say that I was shipwrecked before I read Ishmael and still am over a decade later. The possibility of the human species going extinct still looms on the horizon.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Quinn Quote Saturday

"The evangelist John wrote, 'You must not love the world or the things of the world, for those who love the world are strangers to the love of the Father.' Then just two sentences later, he wrote: 'Children, the final hour is at hand! You've heard that the Antichrist is coming. He's not one but many, and when the many of him are among us, you'll know the final hour has come.'"

"John knew what he was talking about. He was right to warn his followers against those who love the world. We are the ones he was talking about, and this is the final hour--but it's their final hour, not ours. They've had their day, and this is indeed the final hour of that day.

"Now our day begins."--Daniel Quinn, the last page of The Story of B

Friday, April 27, 2012

Videos: Ishmael and The Ripken Way

Again, immersed in learning baseball fundamentals The Ripken Way via CD Rom this morning. Last practice of the week is tonight. Our first game is next Wednesday. I have so much that I want to show the kids and not enough time to do it. A couple of the main reasons I don't have enough time is because the northwestern Wisconsin weather doesn't always cooperate(It snowed for awhile yesterday morning) and I live close to 15 miles from town.

I checked into Facebook to look for an idea for a post and found this YouTube video immediately. It's title: The River of Vision: On the Works of Daniel Quinn, Author of Ishmael. About 3 minutes into the video I wrote this quote down.

"What I have left is an invitation: Jump into the river that is already flowing and let this river carry you. Nevermind that you cannot know with your rational mind where exactly this river might take you. That, indeed, is the whole point. This river may be taking us to a million different destinations. This is something very different from being in control."--Timothy Scott Bennett

It's been over ten years now since I jumped into that river. I still don't understand what baseball and The Ripken Way has to do with it. I'm just going to go with it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Off the Ground

Off to carry mail for the United States Postal Service today. I'm feeling rushed and rundown. It's probably the combination of many things. Most of all, I think it's the result of running a Little League baseball practice last night and gearing up for the postal work this morning. I don't know how coaches can work full-time and volunteer coach, it must take an unbelievable amount of energy. It reminds me of this quote by Phil Jackson:

There was a time in my life -- I spent fifteen years in my career with New York and New Jersey -- where I always felt if I didn't get those three or four months in Montana to camp, to be on the land, to actually live on the ground and be connected with the ground, then I wasn't really connecting myself with my roots, with that pioneer spirit that is so deeply a part of me. Phil Jackson in Esquire

There is too much going on in my life at the moment to maintain connection with my roots. It'll pass, but it has to be recognized.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Time Alone

I spent my time alone* this morning watching Billy Ripken explain infielding basics on my Teaching Baseball The Ripken Way CD ROM. Like I said yesterday, I usually spend this time reading, writing and thinking. Perhaps I should call this time soulwork (The poet Robert Bly calls it tending the garden). I don't know. I do know that learning infielding basics doesn't feel like it should fall under the soulwork category. But I'm learning the hard way that if I want to focus on anything without a cluttered mind my time alone is the time to do it.

*I try to get out of bed a few hours before anyone else awakens in my house.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Baseball and Balance

I woke up this morning, sat zazen, poured myself a cup of coffee, went outside with the dog (He ran off and barked and I ended up yelling my head off to get him back to the house)and started a fire in the masonry stove. This is my usual ritual before I sit down to either read or write.

This morning my intentions were to read some of All of the Above (only 60 pages into it and I've had it for a week), but instead I ended up watching Billy Ripken explain infielding basics on our laptop until other family members awoke. I should have known better than to order AotA book from the library. Once baseball starts I have a strong desire to read and listen to baseball fiction and nonfiction. I also find myself(like this morning!)looking for ways on how to become a better coach.

So baseball slowly takes over my life in a way. I don't think it can be helped. I don't know if my character will allow a balanced approach. It's been that way since I've been a kid.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Number Two

I was going to write more on yesterday's subject, but I got sidetracked. Over the winter I read Carl Jung's autobiography Memories Dream and Reflections. And after reading and returning it to the library I remembered two quotes that I regretted not writing down, so I thought I would have to take some time during the upcoming winter to reread it. But while my wife was shopping at a local thrift store a few months back I found one of the Jung quotes while I was paging through Thomas Moore's Care of the Soul. I just opened the book up and there was the quote. I felt lucky. That day I ended up buying two good looking copies of Care of the Soul and Soulmates, both by Thomas Moore.

Well, this morning, the second Jung quote revealed itself to me when I opened up Care of the Soul:

"When I was working on the stone tablets, I became aware of the fateful links between me and my ancestors. I feel very strongly that I'm under the influence of things or questions which were left incomplete and unanswered by my parents and grandparents and distant ancestors."--Carl Jung

There are times when I do to.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Last Night

The other day I posted this. Yesterday he wrote back, and part of what he said was, "Do you have Ishmael? I am curious to read it."

Now for anyone that has read Ishmael you know this is the moment you have been waiting for. It's your opportunity to change a mind and help save the world. All you have to do is get them the book and the rest will take care of itself. Why? Because the books are tools to change minds.

Well, I sat and stared at the computer screen for an hour last night trying to figure how I was going to respond to that question. Here is what I came up with: "Sure, I have a copy you can borrow. Let me know when you have time to read it, I'll bring a copy into town."

Earth shattering, isn't it?

Before I get my day started here I can think of three reasons why I stared at that screen for an hour last night:

One is that I'm revealing to him a big part of who I am. The degree of vulnerability has increased. There is a good chance (He was born, raised and is a practicing Catholic) that he is going to sit down with that book and get part way through it, close it up, and wonder how I can buy into it. The irony in this is: I often wonder the same thing about Christians. The second is I don't want to see him walk away from his faith. I'm not out to convert anyone. And the third is I don't want to get myself into a situation where he will try to convert me. My soul doesn't need saving.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Quinn Quote Saturday

“Man's destiny was to conquer and rule the world, and this is what he's done--almost. He hasn't quite made it, and it looks as though this may be his undoing. The problem is that man's conquest of the world has itself devastated the world. And in spite of all the mastery we've attained, we don't have enough mastery to stop devastating the world--or to repair the devastation we've already wrought. We've poured our poisons into the world as though it were a bottomless pit--and we go on pouring our poisons into the world. We've gobbled up irreplaceable resources as though they could never run out--and we go on gobbling them up. It's hard to imagine how the world could survive another century of this abuse, but nobody's really doing anything about it. It's a problem our children will have to solve, or their children." ―Daniel Quinn

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Question From An Aquaintance

Opened up my email this morning to an interesting question from an acquaintance. He is a practicing Catholic.

"Do you or your wife have any faith traditions in your family- either now, or in your upbringing? Maybe a topic for another day...."

Given the quotes I've shared the past couple of days this question comes at an interesting time.

Here is my answer: No, neither one of us have experienced or currently practice faith traditions. You'd have to go back to our grandparents to find family members practicing faith traditions. Personally, I don't believe or disbelieve in anything. Perhaps another day we could discuss this, I'm always open to listening to other's stories and viewpoints. I will say that my thinking and worldview have been heavily influenced and shaped by Daniel Quinn's novel Ishmael.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Same Theme as Yesterday

A follow up quote to the quote I posted yesterday. It's been well over ten years since I've read Providence, and these quotes still resonate with me to this day. Part of why they do, I think, is they get rid of the idea that God will somehow intervene and save us from the problems we've created for ourselves, especially environmental problems like: human overpopulation, overuse of resources, and climate change. The idea that humans can go extinct and nothing will stop it from happening is very real to me. Quote below:

"Don't misunderstand me. The fact that the gods don't take our side against others doesn't imply that we have to do the same. The horse doesn't wait for the gods to intervene when it's attacked by a puma; it uses all its strength and every weapon at it possesses to save its life. We're free to do the same - as free as any other creature. If a lion attacks us, the gods will not defend us, because they're no more on our side than they're on the side of the lion, but we're at liberty to defend ourselves with whatever weapon we can wield. Our best weapon of defense is of course our intelligence. If there's a cancer growing inside of you, the gods aren't on your side against it, but that doesn't mean you have to throw up your hands and allow it to destroy your life; defend yourself against it with every resource you can bring to bear.

"People have written to me to ask: 'What can I do about the spiders that invade my house? May I kill them or do I just have to put up with them?' Such questions can always be safely referred to our neighbors in the community of life. A dog or a chimpanzee or a sparrow cannot be mistaken in such matters; they cannot mislead themselves with false, convenient arguments. Ask your dog what he does with the fleas that invade his coat, and he'll show you: He does his best to kill them. You can do the same, without apology. The gods will not take your side against the rest of the world just because you're human, but they will also not take the side of the rest of the world against you just because you're human." Daniel Quinn, Providence

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Beautiful Summary

The Jehovah's Witnesses used to stop by and do their best to assure my salvation by following their vision. Annie (my wife) used to hate it when they pulled in the driveway, but I didn't mind it so much. There was a part of me that admired their faith and dedication. And, of course, I got to talk about religion, philosophy and hear their stories (My favorite). Anyway, I remember vividly trying to explain to them why I didn't think an all-knowing and all-seeing God was looking out for me anymore than he/she/it was looking out for a red fox, so I didn't accept their vision. Below is a beautiful summary of what my perspective was.

"Another great supporter of Ishmael, Michael Belk, sent me a book called Disappointment with God and asked me what I thought of it. As the title suggests, it's a study of people's disappointment with God: Why did God let this terrible thing happen? Why didn't God respond to my prayers? And so on. I found it puzzling that he'd want my opinion of it, but by the time I was finished I realized that the book had given me an insight into my own relationship to the universe: I am never disappointed with God (or as I prefer to say, the gods). This is because I never expect the gods to take my side against others. If I come down with the flu, I don't expect the gods to take my side against the virus that is pursuing its life in my body. If I travel to Africa, I don't expect the gods to strike dead a mosquito that is about to have lunch on my neck (and incidentally give me a case of malaria). If a wildcat attacks me in the hills of New Mexico, I don't expect the gods to help me kill it. If I'm swimming in the ocean, I don't expect the gods to chase away the sharks. I have no illusion that the gods favor me (or any other human) over viruses, sharks, wildcats, mosquitoes, or any other life form. And if they don't favor me over a June bug or a mushroom, why would they favor me over another human being? If a friend of mine is killed in a random act of terrorist violence, I'm not going to blame the gods for this. To me, this would be nonsense. And I certainly don't expect the gods to suspend the laws of physics to protect me from landslides, lightning bolts, or burning buildings." -- Daniel Quinn, from Providence: The Story of a Fifty-Year Vision Quest

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Postal Service and Libraries

Opened up my email this morning to discover a library notice stating that a copy of All of the Above has arrived for me from Bellingham, Washington. That's a long way for a book to travel. Feeling the need to express my appreciation for the United States Postal Service and our library service. One helps put food on the table and pay the bills, the other helps keep new ideas flowing into our house. Mind and body satisfied.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Grocery Shopping

Awhile back, while sitting in the car in the grocery store parking lot waiting for my family to get done grocery shopping (Although rarely, there are times when I can't bring myself to go in push the shopping cart) I once heard author Thom Hartmann state that one of the reasons the right wing made war on the middle class is simply because when there was a thriving middle class in America the youth seek justice, and you get revolutions like you did in the 1960's. Some people on the right don't like that.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Digging Up The Past

Why is it, that after listening to Rush Limbaugh for about ten minutes on the mail route yesterday, that I felt the need to turn on this computer and dig up this perspective that was written almost 3 years ago about President Obama:

"It is said that Obama is wearing a mask, being a deceiver, as if he carefully pretended to be a progressive activist for a quarter of a century because a time traveler from the future told him that would get him elected president in 2008 so he could pursue his secret right wing globalist agenda. "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" -- but it's hard to imagine two presidents more different than Obama and Bush. The fact that the country is moving the same direction under each of them should tell us something else: the president is not the boss. Obama has never worn a mask -- Obama is the mask, and not a very good one. It has never been more obvious that America is an ossified dying empire with a suicidal inertia that no leader or movement can stop. If Sarah Palin, Dennis Kucinich, or Carrot Top were president, the system that the president pretends to run would still be bailing out banks and insurance companies, escalating wars, hiding atrocities, and generally chugging along to its ruin."--Ran Prieur, December 14, 2009

Saturday, April 14, 2012

DQ Quote Saturday

"In the ten years that have passed since its publication, no one (including me) has come up with a satisfactory way of explaining what Ishmael is "about." Franz Kafka once wrote to a friend that the only books worth reading are those that "wake us up with a blow on the head" and send us reeling out into the street, not knowing who or what we are. According to thousands of readers I've heard from, this is exactly what Ishmael does for them. What makes Ishmael important is not what it's "about" but rather what it DOES to you--and this is what you need to share with your friends. If it's taken you to a new place in your life (as many people say it has), then tell them that if they want to keep up with you, they're just going to have read it. Whatever it's done to you or for you, that's what will impress your friends, and that's what you need to convey to them."--Daniel Quinn

Friday, April 13, 2012


Ended up grabbing Doug Brown's Roadmap to Sustainability off the shelf this morning. I've probably done this a couple dozen times now. It just goes to show that thought is nonlinear, atleast my thinking anyway. I ran across this quote by Gandhi:

"The ideal of creating an unlimited number of wants and satisfying them seems to be a delusion and a snare."--Gandhi

This delusion runs The Economy.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Headed South

Yesterday afternoon we headed south to Rice Lake to do some shopping. Afterwards we decided to head 20 miles further south down to Chetek to listen to local author Micheal Perry speak at The Calhoun Memorial Public Library. It was well worth it. He is an amazing speaker and writer. His work has definately had an influence on what little bit of writing I do.

After returning home I picked up the pencil and scribbled down how I would be content visiting small towns throughout Wisconsin to spend a little bit of time at their library and local baseball diamonds. Don't know why, but I'm going to go with it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Control and Hope

Getting ready to carry some mail for the United States Postal Service today.

I came across this quote and interview that resonated with me over at Timothy Scott Bennett's Facebook page:

"I don’t think we need hope. I think we need imagination. We need to imagine a future which can’t be planned for and can’t be controlled. I find that people who talk about hope are often really talking about control. They hope desperately that they can keep control of the way things are panning out. Keep the lights on, keep the emails flowing, keep the nice bits of civilisation and lose the nasty ones; keep control of their narrative, the world they understand. Giving up hope, to me, means giving up the illusion of control and accepting that the future is going to be improvised, messy, difficult."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Daily Dose of Despair

A few months back I wrote down this line by the poet Mary Oliver: "Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine."

My despair for as long as I can remember has been The Secret Plan* remains a secret. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't feel some level of grief because of this.

*"Our secret plan is this: We're going to go on consuming the world until there's no more to consume. This does not preclude consuming it "wisely" or consuming it as slowly as possibly. It doesn't preclude supporting every conceivable conservation initiative. It doesn't preclude supporting every conceivable means of recycling. We're going to recycle, we're going to conserve-- but we're also going to go on consuming until there's no more to consume."--Daniel Quinn from On Investments

Monday, April 09, 2012


Woke up this morning feeling like I had to search this poem out:

Well, on the day I was born,
God was sick...
They all know that I'm alive,
that I chew my food...and they don't know
why harsh winds whistle in my poems,
the narrow uneasiness of a coffin,
winds untangled from the sphinx...

On the day I was born,
God was sick,
gravely.--Cesar Vallejo

As I get older I'm trying to accept this state of feeling.

Thank you to Robert Bly for introducing me to this poem.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Bunny Rabbits and Easter

The other day my 12 yr. old son asked: "Dad, why do we have the Easter bunny?" Of course, I didn't have the foggiest idea. But, lo and behold, while finishing up reading The Maiden King this morning, the answer appeared:

"The goddess of the spring equinox was Eastre, the hare was her ritual animal and the egg her fertility symbol. The image suggests the lasciviousness of the goddess, the sheer lusciousness of life, sexuality, and birth. And with the goddess, the moon, the luminous white of the moon that carries the imprint of the hare, shines."

"Moon goddess imagery carries the cyclic pattern; it is simply a law of life. The forest knows how to sacrifice parts of itself that have to give way to new growth. The grief in the dying gives place to the miracle of resurrection. The hare willingly sacrifices itself for the sake of spirit: unconscious matter sacrifices itself for conscious awareness.

"Farmers who know hares well think of them as sacrificial animals. When fields and hedges are burned off, they see hares who refuse to run before the fire reaches them, suddenly leap, their fur on fire, to run to their death aflame. The more we meditate on the hare, the more we love this animal that, like the moon, dies to be reborn." [Page 217, The Maiden King]

Perhaps it was moment of synchronicity.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Quinn Quote Saturday

"When our children start becoming murderers, we typically don't wonder what's wrong with the system that's turning them INTO murderers, we wonder what's wrong with THEM. Imagine an assembly line that out of every hundred vehicles turns out one that is horribly defective. Then imagine--instead of examining the assembly line--taking the defective vehicle out and shooting it. Then, when the next one comes along--instead of examining the assembly line--taking THAT one and shooting it. And when the next one comes along--instead of examining the assembly line--taking THAT one out and shooting it."--Daniel Quinn

I pulled this quote from this essay.

Friday, April 06, 2012

A True Coaching Inspiration

Revisiting this powerful article for some inspiration before baseball practices start next week. Mike Powell, in my mind, is a good example of a male mother for his players, and what masculinity is to some degree. He's showed the boys his wounds and in return they've showed him their wounds. I think it was the mythologist Micheal Meade who once said, "I'll show you my wound if you show me yours." I have learned through experience it is a challenge to lay your wounds out there for younger men hear, but they won't trust you otherwise.

Quote from article: "Powell's goal, as he told his friends, was 'for each boy to say that for the first time in my academic career I had someone who really loved me.'"

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Animal Souls

The other day our 12 yr. old mentioned that his friend informed him that animals didn't have souls, but humans do. Well, I said, I guess that all depends on who you ask.

“Many Indians have told me that the most basic difference between Western and indigenous ways of being is that Westerners view the world as dead, and not as filled with speaking, thinking, feeling subjects as worthy and valuable as themselves.” ― Derrick Jensen

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Giving up Money

I don't know if it was a good idea to read this article before going off to earn some money delivering mail.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Finding God?

The other day our 12 yr. old son mentioned that one of his friends asked him if he believed in God. While he was explaining his answer to me I remembered a moment a few years back when a friend of mine asked me over the internet if I was agnostic. I said I didn't think so. I wasn't familiar with agnoticism to give him a definite answer at that time. So what did I do? I visited the Ishmael Community. And I went to the question and answer section of the website and typed in agnostic. Here is what I read:

I'm simply saying that I'm unable to put myself in any camp with regard to the existence of God. I can't join the atheists (who assert that there are zero gods), I can't join the monotheists (who assert that there is one god), and I can't join the polytheists (who assert that there are many gods). Nor am I an agnostic; I'm not saying I DON'T KNOW whether God exists, I'm saying this knowledge is UNOBTAINABLE. It's not that I don't HAVE it, it's that it's NOT THERE to be had.

Or you could put it this way: God's existence is an object not of knowledge but of belief. It's possible to BELIEVE that there is no God, one God, or many gods, but it's not possible to KNOW any of these things. I should add that, while it's POSSIBLE to believe one of these things, it's not NECESSARY to believe one of them. One is to FREE to choose one of these beliefs to embrace, but one is not COMPELLED to choose one. --Daniel Quinn from Question #538

I put the quote above in my own words and answered my friends question. Why? Because it makes sense to me.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Fears and Doubts

My mind has been consumed with fears and doubts since three AM. They all revolve the question if I have what it takes to coach my son's Little League baseball team. This has happened every year since I first started coaching his team 3 years ago. It seems like as long as I remain a baseball coach I will have to go through this process before the season starts, and occasionally throughout the season. I'm beginning to accept this as part of my coaching experience.

Sunday, April 01, 2012


I try on a daily basis to check out Timothy Scott Bennett's Facebook page. For those of you who don't recognize the name, he is the author of All of the Above. I consider him to be an author with a changed mind*, and that's one of the reasons I follow his work. And to be honest I haven't read All of the Above yet, but I plan on it. The other day I had one of the librarians at our local library check to see if she could get it for me through inter-library loan. She located two copies: one in Missouri and one in Washington. She put the order in and said, "we'll see what happens." It's a long way from Missouri to northwestern Wisconsin, so I will probably just end up buying the book.

The point of this post, though, is to mention what he said on his facebook page yesterday. It resonated with me. It's what I've felt and what I've heard others express in one way or another. It's something that my great-grandfather(He was a Jehovah Witness) spent alot of time thinking and talking about, so I've heard. It's what Derrick Jensen means when he says that this culture has a death urge. Here is what I read on Mr. Bennett's page:

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the problem with "warning" that "civilization is at stake" is that, at a deep emotional, psychological, and spiritual level, and likely unbeknownst to the vast majority of people in which this is at work, the Civilized™ humans on this planet seem, to my mind, to actually be craving TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it.) I'd much rather we become conscious of, and speak about that possibility, and why that might be the True™.--Timothy Scott Bennett

My great-grandfather died when I was around a year old. But given the chance I would have asked him why he thought the world was going to end. I was never convinced by the "he was just a nutcase" argument. Why? Because I think at some level we're all craving it. It's just that some have better ways of expressing it than others.

*His work has been influenced by Daniel Quinn.