Taming wild horses

"Racing the Shadow" by David Jewell and Rick Belden. Copyright © 2014 by David Jewell and Rick Belden.

“If you bring forth what is within you,
what you bring forth will save you.
If you do not bring forth what is within you,
what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

- The Gospel of Thomas, v.70, quoted from The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels

A couple of weeks ago, I published a post called “Loving myself through failure”. In the aftermath of writing that post, I’ve made some good progress toward resetting and restrengthening many of the long-term self-care patterns that had been eroded over the last year as the demands of being at my job every day have come to dominate my life more and more. I’ve found myself being quieter (when not at the job) and more reflective. I’m also getting more comfortable again, gradually, with some of my (un)favorite varieties of pain (boredom, hunger, anxiety, loneliness, etc), a process that has been a precursor in the past to breakthroughs in awareness, creativity, and healing.

Being quiet and listening to myself is a discipline I learned long ago and have continued to refine over the years, but I don’t always do it. I don’t ever stop doing it entirely either, but I do go through periods when I purposefully put my attention elsewhere because that inner dialogue feels so overpoweringly painful and ugly that I don’t think I can bear to be with it any longer. Of course, that doesn’t make it go away, and the volume only gets louder the more and the longer I try to ignore it.

In the end, there’s no making that crowd of pain-driven inner voices go away and there’s no getting away from them because they are all me, each and all, wounded and suffering as they may be in some aspect or at some age of myself. Taking notice of them, sitting with what they’re saying without trying to shut them down or quick-fix them into silence, is not easy, but attempting to turn them away never works for they are manifestations of the force of life itself, however tangled and twisted by injury, lack of love, and bad conditioning they may be, and they demand to be heard.

Listening to the storm inside, really listening without judgment and without prejudice, can be a deeply humbling experience. I want to be a certain way, to think of myself as a certain type of person that I would find acceptable. I want to believe that I possess certain qualities and do not possess certain others. I want to believe that I can rationally craft, from the top down, some perception and experience of myself and my life that will somehow transform anger, disappointment, hurt, and frustration into something lighter and brighter as if by magic, without ever fully feeling, owning, or understanding any of it. I still want to believe I can do that, and I still try to do it, even though I know better.

Fortunately, knowing better can lead, if we are willing, to doing better. In this case, doing better for me means starting to build a friendlier relationship with some of the wild horses that have been running, raging, and stampeding within me even as I’ve been struggling to ignore and disown them. That process begins with seeing and acknowledging them as real, alive, and autonomous, each with its own knowledge, history, and point of view. And as I’ve written before, naming things is important, so I’ve begun to give them names:

  • There is a wild horse in me named Envy. I don’t want to be envious of people who’ve been given, at least in my perception, the opportunity to live authentic, creative lives, to actualize their gifts, and to pursue their life’s work freely. But I am, and it burns away at me daily.
  • There is a wild horse in me named Impatience with Myself. Few things infuriate me more than having to answer to someone who’s pushing me to go faster and faster and do more and more all the time every day. Yet if I’m truly honest, I have to admit that I do the very same thing to myself. I could write a long explanation rationalizing why it’s necessary, too. Even now I feel the impulse to defend the necessity of pushing myself so relentlessly. But I won’t.
  • There is a wild horse in me named Not Appreciating Myself. This horse is the sister of Impatience with Myself. In fact, I’d say they are twins, sister and brother. Few things hurt me more than feeling unappreciated and unvalued, for what I am as well as for what I do. But again, if I’m truly honest, I have to admit that I don’t do a very good job of appreciating and valuing myself a lot of the time. The easy and obvious (and true) reason is that I feel I somehow don’t deserve it, but there’s also an underlying feeling or belief that I somehow haven’t done enough yet to give it to myself, and that if I do, it’ll make me lazy and complacent and I’ll lose the edge that drives me.
  • There is a wild horse in me named Lack of Faith. This might be the hardest one for me to own because there’s a strong element of shame attached. I believe with every fiber of my being in my work as a poet, a writer, a guide, a healer, an advocate for other adult survivors of childhood abuse, and a voice for men. I know that this is the work I’m here to do in this life. But there’s also a part of me that has no faith in my ability to do it, that feels incompetent and incapable of ever doing it, and cannot even realize that I’m already doing it and have been for years now. Worse than any of that is my ongoing lack of faith in the work itself, in both its quality and its value. When I allow myself to be fully conscious of that lack of faith in the work, I feel shame because I feel I am dishonoring the work more than anyone else ever could.

One of the reasons I write these blog posts is to provide concrete examples of how the processes of self-awareness and self-ownership can develop and progress. In this case, just sitting and writing about the four wild horses above has moved my relationship with, and understanding of, these dynamic, energetic parts of myself many leaps ahead of where I was only an hour ago. This sort of imaginative externalization of what lies within us, especially of shadow elements that we fear and do not desire, can be an extremely powerful means of healing and reconciliation with the self as well as a highly valuable component of a robust, creative self-care program.

Self-care, in my experience, comes down to one very basic question: “How do I treat myself?” In the past few days, I’ve found myself extending the question in a couple of more specific directions:

  • How do I treat myself when I’m under duress?
  • How do I treat myself when I feel like no one is there for me (whether that’s true or not)?

It’s been very instructive to keep both of these questions in mind as I go through my days because they’re simple and easy to answer from moment to moment. All too often, the answer to both is “Not very well.” I suppose I could find that response discouraging, and to some small extent I do, but mostly I see it as information. I can choose to use it or not use it. I know from experience that it’s better to face my discomfort, especially discomfort I might be causing myself, than to try to turn it away. I don’t always have the will or the willingness to face it, but both will and willingness tend to get stronger with experience over time, especially as I’m more and more able to focus on the quality of my relationship with myself as the primary measure of how I’m doing in life as opposed to any external criteria I might choose.

In my mind’s eye, I now see those four wild horses, and all of their as-yet-unnamed equine companions, looking right at me, eye to eye, keeping a safe distance, curious but still skittish, not quite trusting, waiting for my next move. What will it be?

Photo credit: Original photo by David Jewell with image processing by Rick Belden. Used by permission.

Related posts:
Being (and not being) with pain
Deep in the mud
The pain of being open
Poetry on video: “use everything”

looking for the perfect curve

my eyes
go where they want to go
and they're always looking
for the perfect curve.

my mind
knows what it wants to know
and it wants knowledge
of the perfect curve.

what is it about the female form
more perfect
than the quiet moon in the sky
or the gentle bend of a river
or the soft contours of waves
rhythmically caressing a beach.

without it
my life is all
straight lines and right angles
and every sentence ends in a period
never a question mark to be found.

the mere sight of it
lights my heart and lightens my day
it nourishes me
and reconnects me with the pure cosmic joy
of being a man.

perhaps only a fool is driven
by that which he cannot have
I'm an old fool now
getting older all the time
and most of the curves I see these days
are many miles
and many years
out of my reach
but my eyes still go
where they want to go
and my mind still knows
what it wants to know
and I'm still looking
for the perfect curve.

(PDF version)

Loving myself through failure

"Stop Hating Yourself" by David Jewell. Copyright © 2014 by David Jewell.

“You have to fail over and over in order to become a man.”

~ James Taylor, Time magazine, 1997

If James Taylor is right, then surely I must be a man by now. My failures are legion: love, work, family, finances, you name it. By any external measure, and by most of my own personal criteria, I’ve been an epic underachiever, and that’s putting it kindly.

I’ve written about much of this before, many times, so I’m not going to bore anyone (myself included) by reiterating my long list of failures (both real and perceived) here. That would be pointless. But lately the weight of those failures has been piling up on me in a way it never has before, and I feel like it’s time to pull the covers back and see if I can dig a little deeper into what’s really going on.

One of the issues that’s really been eating away at me this year is my failure to build and sustain an audience for my work. I understand some of the reasons for this. I lost my primary point of access to a larger set of readers when the consistently anti-male bias of the so-called “Good Men Project” finally led me to stop writing for that site back in January of 2013. My lack of availabilty to post on social media sites during peak hours (i.e., the part of the day when I’m at the job), combined with Facebook’s movement to a pay-to-play model requiring payment for posts to be seen by page followers, has also played a part in my failure to generate and maintain readership.

But that’s just surface stuff. Those are the easy explanations. I don’t know what else is or might be going on. All I know is that as others have been losing interest in what I have to say, I’ve begun to lose interest in saying it. At another level, there’s a part of me that’s been convinced for some time now that I could vindicate myself and my life by proving my worth through my work (a common core belief for men), and that part of me feels like I’ve failed. Maybe I have. Maybe that was never a reasonable expectation to have of myself anyway.

In any case, over the last few months, as I’ve felt my relationship and connection with my writing and all it entails slipping away, I’ve been retreating more and more into old patterns of escape: overeating, eating foods I know are harmful to me, drinking, drinking to excess, TV, porn, phone sex, strippers. But there’s more going on than mere escapism. It’s not just that I want to get away from my life and from myself. There are times when what I really want is to obliterate myself, to smash myself to pieces.

It’s sad, painful, and disturbing to me to see such a prominent vein of self-loathing so active in my life at this point after all the work I’ve done over the years to come into better relationship with myself. I often catch myself, most frequently during the day at the job, feeling a hatred for myself so intense that I can hardly control it. But I recognize it for what it is and I rein it in as best I can. “Rein it in” is the key phrase here; that self-hating energy is still with me and finds other ways to operate on me as noted above.

The root of this self-hatred lies in what looms largest in my heart and psyche as my biggest and most personal failure: I made a commitment to myself over 25 years ago to live an authentic life and I have failed, despite my best efforts to do so. I fail to do so every day when I have to be someone I’m not and pretend I care about things I don’t in order to make a living. I’m a good actor and my strong work ethic makes me a highly productive employee, so I’m able play the game successfully, but the personal cost is, and always has been, high.

Over time it becomes easier and easier to sink into the job trance, not just during the day Monday through Friday, but on evenings and weekends, too. After a while, I reach a point where I never really come out of it, unless there’s a long weekend, in which case I typically find myself beginning to wake up on the third or fourth day just as it’s time to restart the cycle.

But even deep within that ongoing job trance state (which is, I suppose, where most Americans spend the majority of their adult lives, whether they realize it or not), I find that I’m hating myself, and struggling not to hate myself, for being too stupid, not trying hard enough, making bad decisions, being lazy, or whatever it is that’s kept me stuck in this inauthentic facsimile of a life for decades. Perhaps most of all, I hate myself for wasting my life and my potential, knowing the whole time that it was happening and being unable to do anything to stop it. The fact that it’s still happening, every day, only adds fuel to that fire.

It is intensely painful to me that self-awareness, authenticity, and integrity, the qualities I’ve sought most fervently to develop over the years, seem to have little to no impact on my value in the outer world. To the contrary, I continue to find it necessary to downplay and even hide the better parts of these aspects of myself in order to function successfully in the world at large. At the same time, I’m aware that there are others who appear to be able to live out of their own authenticity and integrity fairly successfully in the very same world in which I’m living, and I wonder why they can but I can’t. Is it fate? Karma? Is it something in my own unconscious that I’ve yet to resolve, some old conditioning from family or culture that I’ve yet to discover and unravel?

That last question is the one thing that gives me some hope. If resolution (or at least improvement) of my situation lies somewhere in my own unconscious, in old conditioning I’ve yet to identify, then I still have a chance, and being the idealist I am, a chance is often all I need to keep me going. Fate and karma constitute a different sort of problem, but I’m not ready to surrender myself fully to that view of my situation just yet, although I do have my moments. Surrender to some external force like fate can be very tempting when I feel like the struggle has gone on too long already and my appetite for sitting with pain has been exhausted. But surrender, beyond whatever comfort it may promise as a temporary state, doesn’t sit too well with me as a way of spending whatever might remain of my life. Maybe I’m too dumb to know when I’m licked. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Maybe it’s better to go down fighting.

The one real constant in all of this Sturm und Drang is that, no matter what does and doesn’t happen in my life, no matter how many people come and go in and out of my life, I’m stuck with myself for the duration. I can’t escape myself or my failures, no matter how hard or how much I try. And I can’t cancel out all that hard work I’ve done to develop my self-awareness and to reparent and accept myself. I didn’t used to know when I was treating myself badly; now I do. I know now what feels good to me and what doesn’t. I know when I’m fooling myself, when I’m lying to myself, when I’m behaving reactively, and when I’m selling myself out for a quick fix that won’t really help me. It’s just sometimes hard to remember that I know all of these things when I have to force myself to forget so much of what I know every day to function in a system that doesn’t want me as I am.

As Peter Messerschmidt has written, “Society has an alarming ability to ‘steal the souls’ of Highly Sensitive Men, leaving them feeling sad and confused.” That is bedrock reality for me, the core truth that underlies so much of my daily struggle not to lose myself as I feel like layers of my soul are being burned away in the fire of necessity. The hardest thing for me in all of this, and the most crucial, is to keep loving myself. It’s a difficult thing to be able to see oneself and one’s life clearly without either looking away from the failures or over-emphasizing them. It’s perhaps even more difficult to take the next step and continue loving oneself with a full and uncompromising awareness of those failures.

As a man, admitting failure can often be a double bind because the admission of failure is itself experienced as a failure. This is a pernicious little trap that is further amplified by the common belief in men that failure equals defeat. And how is a man who is failed and defeated supposed to love himself? It’s easy to see how a man can spiral down the rabbit hole of despair when that sort of thinking takes over.

In his song “These Days”, Jackson Browne sings, “Don’t confront me with my failures / I had not forgotten them.” When I first heard this song at age fifteen, those words connected with me so deeply it was almost as if I could’ve written them myself. So I guess I’ve always had an acute sense of my own failures that probably goes all the way back to knowing early on that I was not, and would never be, the child either of my parents wanted me to be. It’s probably equally true, and equally important, that I also recognized early in life that, in a world where manhood is most often equated with very specific definitions of “success”, failures to meet those standards of success would also be perceived in the outer world as failures of manhood.

All of this brings me back to the James Taylor quote that began this post: “You have to fail over and over in order to become a man.” When I first saw it in the late 1990s, I was about five years into my fifteen-year walk through the wasteland during which I’d stopped writing and had no reason to believe I’d ever start again. Much like the Jackson Browne lyric above, it connected with me at a very deep level. But it also gave me hope because I’d never seen manhood defined in that way, and I’ve never forgotten it.

So here I sit, a 56-year-old man alone with his failures. Some of them are defined by social criteria and external measures. Those failures matter less to me than those defined by personal criteria and internal measures, but they still matter because I have to live and function in the outer world like anyone else does. If women don’t find me worthy because I don’t measure up to their criteria of success, it affects me. If readers don’t find my writing engaging and worthy of attention, that affects me, too. But there’s little I can do about either of those things, and if I give them too much weight, I begin to sink. If I allow them or any other externally imposed judgment (real or perceived) of my value to stop me from loving myself, I begin to drown.

In the end, that is the one choice I always have in all of this, in every moment: to love myself or not. Perhaps, to paraphrase James Taylor, the true path to manhood begins here:

“You have to love yourself over and over in order to become a man.”

In a recent blog post, my friend Kathy Barbini, producer of the excellent documentary Boys and Men Healing, characterizes self-care as “a hero’s journey for those healing from addictions, child abuse and trauma.” I think she’s right. And self-care, whether in success or failure, begins and ends with love.

Photo credit: David Jewell. Used by permission.

Related posts:
Being (and not being) with pain
Deep in the mud
The pain of being open
Rediscovering the original wound
Caught between the road and the sky
The poetry slaves
Go crazy or starve
Poetry on video: “use everything”

Updated preview page for Scapegoat’s Cross

"Scapegoat's Cross" by David Taylor and Rick Belden. Copyright © 2012 by Rick Belden.

I’ve just completed a major update of the preview page for my second book, Scapegoat’s Cross: Poems about Finding and Reclaiming the Lost Man Within. The updated preview page (available on my website) now includes the photo image shown above along with an enhanced set of links to numerous preview excerpts (including video readings) from the book.

I’ve known for many years now that each of my books has its own life cycle and its own schedule, and Scapegoat’s Cross, like Iron Man Family Outing before it, is proving to be a real test of my patience, my long-term commitment to the work, and my faith in its value and viability.

The manuscript I completed almost five years ago with great energy and optimism still hasn’t found its way to publication yet. It’s a tremendous challenge to continue holding a space consistently for a project that’s moving so slowly that it seems as if it’s not moving at all. Maybe the work simply needed time to mature, or cure, or ripen. Maybe, as was the case with Iron Man Family Outing, the work has to wait until the audience is ready for it. Maybe I wasn’t ready for it. I dunno. In any case, I’ve come to the conclusion that this second book, like the first, is gonna do whatever it’s gonna do whenever it’s gonna do it. My job is to be there for it when it’s ready.

In the meantime, previews are available on my website for anyone who’d like to have a look.

Photo: “Scapegoat’s Cross” by David Taylor and Rick Belden. Copyright © 2012 by Rick Belden. All rights reserved.

Men and masculinity series: Volume one

"Pontiac" by David Jewell. Copyright © 2014 by David Jewell.

Given that I’ve been blogging for a number of years now, and given that my circumstances haven’t permitted me to write anything new for the last several months, I thought this would be a good time to collect some of my previous posts on themes related to men, masculinity, masculine psychology, and the male experience into one place for easy access.

What follows is a set of titles and links for three dozen posts written at various points during the last six years, with a brief excerpt from each to provide a quick preview of content. Posts are arranged in a sort of rough thematic order, beginning with my most recently completed essay (“What is healthy masculinity?” from last March) and ending with a post (“My life with Iron Man”) from October 2010 that tells the story of how the unexpected return of a beloved fictional character from my childhood led to the creation of my first book, Iron Man Family Outing. In between, you’ll see posts on a variety of topics rooted in, and born of, my experiences as a boy and a man.

Most of the selections are essays I’ve written, but you’ll also see a few guest posts paired with my commentary. There are some posts with video as well, including video readings of five of my poems along with my written commentary for each one. I’ve also included one post each on writing “men’s poetry”, working with dreams, and body-centered awareness practices. All three of these activities have been particularly significant in my process over more than 25 years of engagement with men’s work (hence the name of my blog: poetry, dreams, and the body) and all remain substantially undervalued and underutilized as means to move into the heart of our experience, especially for men.

I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll have the opportunity to do some new writing later this year. Perhaps, if I’m fortunate, I’ll be posting a second volume in this series a few years from now. In the meantime, I hope folks find the material that follows useful.

Men and masculinity series: Volume one

What is healthy masculinity?
The primal aspect of male power can be very intimidating, especially for men who spent their boyhoods with men who abused or avoided their own power.

Poetry on video: “falling through”
Like every other boy, I knew that crying was the worst sin I could commit in public. On those few occasions when I was unable to avoid doing it, the shame, the isolation, and the horror I felt were beyond words.

The male wish list
It was great to see so many men sharing their most heartfelt desires in such a free and spontaneous way, and as the list grew, I felt I was beginning to see the formation of a running archive of communiqués from the deepest inner lives of men.

Angry like Dad
I, too, have been an angry man, although I haven’t expressed that anger in my life the way my father did. Where he tended to direct his anger outward toward others (mostly in the home: wife, children, pets), I’ve tended to direct my anger toward myself.

Broken bones and the Father Wound
As the years have passed and I’ve gained in life experience, I’ve found it easier to see him, not just as the father I knew and not just as the father I needed and didn’t have, but as a more complete human being.

Mother’s Day and the Mother Wound
For many men, there is nothing more terrifying (or unthinkable) than looking into their own Mother Wounds. I know my Father Wound well. It hurts but does not scare me. My Mother Wound terrifies me. It feels like a pit from which there is no return.

Good men in the real world
I’ve encountered an enormous number of women who are frustrated by their lack of success in finding a “good man”. I’ve also found that many of these women (and I’m talking about women who are independent, intelligent, and capable) have ridiculous expectations that many men simply cannot satisfy.

Poetry on video: “fused at the wound”
I just didn’t want to be the bad guy. I’d grown up with a man who was, that I perceived as, a bad guy. My mom basically did everything she could to reinforce the belief that he was the bad guy, and I didn’t want to be that guy.

Painful projections
A healing conversation between men and women is still possible, especially if we are willing to identify and take full ownership of our personal histories, projections, and fears.

A male survivor’s perspective on “rape culture”
The “rape culture” terminology, as I’ve typically seen it applied, brands all men and boys as potential or latent assailants and perpetrators who need to be “taught not to rape.” Any man who somehow resists the inborn imperative to rape is nevertheless still considered responsible for all the men who don’t.

Film review: “Boys and Men Healing (from child sexual abuse)”
So many men feel so terribly alone with these wounds. Men and boys who’ve been injured in this way need to know that they are not alone and that healing is possible.

What if he cries?
Touching, talking, and hugging may all be too overwhelming and, although well-intended, may actually shut down the man you are trying to reassure.

Men and grief
Male grief is all too often invisible, misunderstood, and unwanted, which leaves many men in the difficult position of having to deal with their grief on their own, if they deal with it at all.

Being (and not being) with pain
Healing is not for wimps. The real tough guys are the ones who can do the work, and if you don’t do your work when you’re called to do it, something bigger will come along and crack you wide open.

The body is the gateway
The physical experience of the body provides many rich opportunities for self-exploration and healing. Our stories are with us throughout our lives, wherever we go, waiting there in our bodies to be discovered, heard, acknowledged, understood, and finally, released.

Poetry on video: “body memory”
I’d been treating my body like a mechanism for most of my life, a strange and mysterious ‘other’ that felt external and separate from what I thought of as myself. I know now that this sort of separation and dissociation from the body is very common among men and boys.

What do you need right now?
Many men, when presented with the question “What do you need right now?”, honestly cannot answer because they learned long ago that their needs were not important.

A view through a cracked lens
What I’d learned caused me to reevaluate everything. Not just my relationship with this man I’d trusted so much, my memories of my time with him, and my feelings about him, but everything.

Coming to terms with an absence of elders
I’ve recently begun to realize that, in spite of the fact that I still feel incomplete, confused, and inadequate at age 52, I actually have something of value to offer younger men, and furthermore, that they see me as having something of value to offer them.

Why aren’t more older men showing up for younger men?
In the program ‘A Gathering of Men’ in 1989, Robert Bly said, “I never realized that young men needed anything I had to give them.”

Unhiding myself
Often the strategies we choose when young to survive and keep ourselves safe no longer suit us and begin to fail us later in life, and can even put us at risk if we adhere to them too long.

Crying in public
“One of the exercises I use in trainings for therapists is to ask the audience to imagine they are going to dinner at their favorite restaurant. There is a man who is crying. What is their response to him and why do they think he might be crying?”

A man ought to know how to handle something like this
The fear and powerlessness I feel right now is the very same fear and powerlessness I felt as a child, while the rage I’m trying not to feel right now is the very same rage I could not allow myself to feel as a child because it was not safe to do so.

Disowned male rage and its impact on society
“There is a tremendous amount of creative, sexual, alive energy freed up when we acknowledge and accept rage.”

Goodbye, masculinity?
Wounded men often seek out women to heal them, but much of what they need can only be found in safe male space with other men.

The boy is father to the man
“A boy learns he is lovable from his mother, but he learns how to love in the relationship with his father.”

“Poetry for men” and other problematic labels
How do I accurately communicate the depth and the breadth, the variety and the richness, the individuality and the universality of the transformational processes I’m attempting to illuminate and share in my writing?

Poetry on video: “tired of being a bullet”
Inspired by a little butterfly that fluttered across the interstate in front of me one morning as I zoomed along in my metal shell on my way to yet another day of “aim and speed and straight lines” at work.

I am a Highly Sensitive Man
It takes a great deal of inner strength and resiliency to maintain your sensitivity in a world that seems to go out of its way to beat it out of you, often literally. If that’s not a demonstration of strength, courage, and resolve consistent with any reasonable definition of masculinity, I don’t know what is.

Sensitivity in the lion’s den
Among other things, a men’s group can provide a great opportunity for a man to explore and express the more sensitive side of his nature and his experience, which may be embodied in a number of ways: vulnerability, tenderness, trust, compassion, grief, deep sharing, deep listening, awareness of self and others, perceptiveness, insight, etc.

Welcoming the new generation of Highly Sensitive Men
These young Highly Sensitive Men are all around us, and they are eager to be seen, understood, accepted, and appreciated so that they can more actively offer their unique gifts to a world that needs them.

Rediscovering the original wound
I formed my identity living in the shadow of two giants too blinded by their own damage and their own unmet needs to see who I was. I wanted to fix both of them, even if it meant sacrificing and forgetting myself.

Stepping out from the shadow of the father
I understand now that standing up as a man in this world doesn’t guarantee me anything – not love, not success, not companionship, not fidelity, not health, not safety – and this understanding has liberated me.

Poetry on video: “easter”
In the years since this dream came to me, I’ve gradually worked my way to a deeper, fuller appreciation and understanding of the circumstances of my father’s life, which has helped me heal myself in relation to my inner father, the father I internalized as a child and carry with me at all times.

A mini dreamwork primer
I’ve learned that the things that seem the scariest, the most threatening, and the most negative in my dreams often actually carry, contain, or embody useful information that I very much need.

My life with Iron Man
As a man moving into his thirties, I felt more than a little silly dreaming about a comic book character from my youth. But the dreams continued anyway, regardless of how I felt about them, and as time went on, I was more and more urgently compelled to understand why Iron Man had reentered my life.

Photo credit: David Jewell. Used by permission.

into atoms

everyone will leave
everyone will forget
everyone will betray
everyone will turn out to be
	someone else.

eyesight will fail
gravity will become weak
bones will fill with water
stars will turn to tombstones
sky will fill with dirt
raindrops will feel like knives.

hair will turn to smoke
lungs will be eaten by rust
soul will return to the wind
love will fall back once again
	into atoms.

(PDF version)

fading

fading butterfly wings in the wind
girl running away down the street
dead man working on
blue collar salvation to
no tangible end.

he sits watching the
children on the swings thinking
	yesterday
	that was me
and all his timestreams weave
in and out among one another
until everything is happily
all at once and he thinks
	maybe this is a zen moment
or maybe he's
just running short
on tomorrows.

(PDF version)

virtual modern

jagged disjointed experience of reality
out of step with the out of touch
trapped with wings clipped
in the non-stop hyper-efficient
speed freak pyromaniac starvation dream
of a lost civilization on suicide watch
where yesterday means nothing
today doesn't exist
and tomorrow won't matter tomorrow.

(PDF version)