Tag Archives: faith

Guest Post: Inside the Camera with The Aerial Horizon


Welcome to my blog post about another person. This particular person is a friend from high school who’s all grown up now and is a commercial pilot. He is also a phenomenally gifted photographer and all-around nice guy. While his interest in philosophy and life’s riddles share a place in my heart, it’s his imagery from 30,000 feet above the earth that has stolen it.

After maybe a year of viewing, lurking, “liking” and reading his posts, I had to know more. I picked my favorite 5 or 6 shots and asked him about them.

Putting this post together is a labor of love, we started talking about it in early June. Photography guest posts are also really hard to compile because you need to get the photo, save it to your desktop and then upload it… but it was worth it. Amongst our respective vacations, kids leaving for camps, his numerous trips taking him to the ether and touchdowns through turbulence you don’t want to know about, and the excitement in my life in recent weeks, it’s been a challenge and something I absolutely wanted to see through and share with both my readers.

Please welcome my friend Malcolm Andrews, the eyes and thoughts behind The Aerial Horizon where he shares his visions from one of the best seats off the planet. Click on each of the images to see it larger than the blog allows and if you’re able, zoom in…

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Me: Tell us about this image and why / how it started your sharing of your photography. Where and when and how it was The One that took you to where you are now:

Sun Setting on Canyon Walls (c) M.C. Andrews Photography

Sun Setting on Canyon Walls — (c) M.C. Andrews Photography

TAH: I shot this photo of Canyon de Chelly in December of 2008 while flying a late afternoon trip from Dallas to Los Angeles. The sun was beginning to set as we approached the canyon at 35,000 feet and I caught something with my peripheral vision that made me look toward the canyon. At that moment the low sun was illuminating the orange canyon walls in dramatic contrast to the snow covered terrain. It was an exhilarating moment and thankfully I had a camera in my bag and I took this shot.

The serendipity of this moment amazed me…the right place at the right time and something makes you look at the signpost in front of you. I shot this with a broken 5 megapixel Canon. Later I posted the image on National Geographic’s “Your Shot” web site and they picked it up in their “Daily Dozen.”

Me: !!YEAH!!

TAH: Until I captured this moment and NG shared it, I didn’t realize how much pleasure I could extract from sharing my perspective with other people. Shortly thereafter, I got a Nikon 35mm DSLR and started shooting in earnest and learning more about the technical aspects of photography. I still have a lot to learn, but I find that, through constantly self-critiquing and practicing the art, I am constantly improving.

The lesson of the broken 5 megapixel camera is that opportunities are always out there to capture something meaningful as long as we are prepared see them, regardless of what equipment we have on hand. I find it ironic that my old “happy snap” camera had far less capability than my current iPhone and yet it captured a moment that lit a passion and changed the way I look at the world around me.

Me: Sigh. How fortunate you are to not only have that moment, but to recognize it and then continue to honor it with more imagery. And have Nat Geo pick it up?! Holla.

Me: Tell us about photo 2: “A Delayed Homecoming” – I love flying home. I’ve never had the view of course that you do from the cockpit, and seeing this image strikes me spiritually — that “it’s all going to be ok” and yet it’s almost like an image from another planet. Why did you select this image, of all the ones you can take on a flight home, to share about coming home?

(c) M.C. Andrews Photography

A Delayed Homecoming — (c) M.C. Andrews Photography

TAH: Sometimes I can be struck by a photo that I think is just spectacular and I want to share it. Other times, it is less about that shot than the mood or the thoughts that the shot emotes. In this case it was all of that at once.

To address the coming-home aspect of this shot…Ordinarily, when I’m coming home I am also one of the guys flying the airplane and, though the sights coming in and out of my base are regularly spectacular, doing anything other flying the airplane and ensuring the safety of our passengers and crew is strictly prohibited. The end result is that most of my homecoming images are captured in my memory only.

On this occasion, I was a passenger hitching a ride home after attending my Uncle’s funeral in Boston. After leaving my relatives behind, I was in “go mode” and intensely focused on getting home as fast as I could…that didn’t work out. I missed the early flight and got bumped from the next one. Finally, I got the last seat on the last jet to DC that evening…My mood immediately transitioned from that of the frantic frustrated commuter to that of the relaxed and thankful traveler. The story is relevant because of the mood…

As we approached Mockley Point on the Potomac at about 2500 feet, the golden hour (just prior to sunset) had arrived and the light was spectacular. [This is the ideal time to shoot monuments in Washington as they illuminate in the same golden wash.] I was thankful to be a passenger and able to enjoy the moment. The scene filled me with emotion and I was at once relieved, relaxed, grateful, and reflective…Had I caught the first rushed flight home, I never would have experienced the range of emotions or the joy of the scene…For me it was another lesson in serendipity – Right time, right place, suddenly a purpose… When I looked at this image the next morning, it seemed to tell me that story so I had to share it.

Me: Sigh again. I can’t help but be moved by this; I know so much — we all do — that wonderful punch-drunk feeling of FINALLY getting home and dumping your bags to hug your family and flop on the couch. The gratitude is immeasurable.

Me: THIS PHOTO! I can’t get enough of these colors. Has this been altered? If so, do you have the original? I’d love to see what you’ve done with it. Regardless of any altering, the fantastic chunkiness of the clouds balanced by the trees on the left, the placement of the road, down the right part of the frame but the light in the center… it’s a great image. Very enigmatic and yet serene.

(c) M.C. Andrews Photography

Imagining the Trail — (c) M.C. Andrews Photography

TAH: I took the photograph in Culpeper, Va., looking down St James Church Road toward the Brandy Station Battlefield. The purple glow on the horizon drew me off the main road in an effort to get a better look. The sunset was trapped under the heavy cloud deck and the purple haze was very distinct to the naked eye, but only came clear in the photograph once I had applied a 50% polarization to the image and doubled the color saturation. Doing landscape shots like this one, I don’t like to over saturate the color too often as it can really start to look unreal and I start to lose other desired details. The line of buttercups pointing down the road was more distinct in the unmodified photo, but I had to sacrifice that to get the color of the sky back to what I had originally perceived. The other source of light on the right was from the headlights on my car.

Me: The original untouched image is below; I can’t decide which one I prefer. The first one is dramatic, the kind of thing you’d see in a movie. But the one below, the original, places me there… it’s not so impossible to imagine myself standing Right There taking in those buttercups.

(c) M.C. Andrews Photography

(c) M.C. Andrews Photography


Me: This image sends me. I / you / one can see colors in the stars — the blue ones to the right. I used to fall asleep in my parents’  astronomy and space photography books as a child. What’s going on in this image — it looks like cloud formations / or galaxies? And the ground lights — where were you guys? Coming in on a landing? Taking off? It’s fantastic.


Night Lights and Milky Way, (c) M.C. Andrews Photography

Night Lights and Milky Way — (c) M.C. Andrews Photography

TAH: I shot this photograph on a cloudless night while cruising over North Texas and the Panhandle. When I wrote about it, I tried to convey the sense of motion and light. There are three elements to this scene: the fixed stars on the horizon, the blurring lights on the earth, and the cloud-like stars of the milky way.

The camera really helps to tell this story better than our eyes do. Our eyes adjust and refocus, so we see each light as a distinct source while the camera focuses once and captures streaks of light. We can only differentiate between the colors of some of the stars and we think of them as white lights. With a long exposure time, the camera captures the broad spectrum of colors in the stars and we see them in the completed shot.

Thinking about photographing these lights is somewhat analogous to dreaming, seeing, and remembering….

We see lights on the distant horizon and they are as crisp and as clear as our dreams, but we can’t always interpret their geometry. When the lights are upon us, we are in the now and our perception of their reality is exact as we see them pass below us. We look down at cities, towns and baseball fields and we experience them in real time. However, as we try to capture these moments, “real time” passes by so quickly that the camera can only capture a blur of light. Meanwhile, on a perfectly smooth night, we look over our shoulders at the oldest lights in the sky and if we are lucky we can capture the blue cloud-like memory of the Milky Way. It’s a pseudo-scientific romantic way of interpreting the night sky, but it works for me. I’ve always loved flying at night and interpreting the lights.

My original post with this photo:

The joy of flying the red-eye is that we get to chase each new star as it rises in the East while racing past the lights that dot the landscape. The chase never ends and the race is always won. But what we don’t always get to see, unless it is very dark, is the Milky Way. Last night, the Milky Way expressed itself so brightly that it looked like a cloud bank we could reach out and touch. In this photograph, a portion of the Milky Way appears high above the horizon to the southeast while the lights of the Panhandle stretch across the dark landscape and reflect off our nose.

And now for the technical…A very slow shutter speed (20 seconds) at an aperture of f/1.8 was required to capture the cloudlike appearance. We were traveling at roughly 8 miles per minute. With a little simple bar napkin math, we can figure out that the lines of light from fixed sources on the ground are each about 3 miles long… fascinating, I know… and now it’s time for bed.

Me: Eight miles per minute … that’s roughly my jogging speed. >snort< And bar napkin math: nope. Not me. I’ll doodle thank you. 

As you can tell from these transmissions between Malcolm and myself, we can easily go meta. I haven’t seen him in at least a dozen years two decades, but when / if I do again, it’ll be very cool. We will need a set of rocking chairs and a blanket (for me) and I’ll play my kazoo.   

Me: I think this was the first image I saw of your photos. I have always had a “thing” for that utterly black expanse beyond the atmosphere. I admire it as possibly the sexiest thing about space — that boundary when we have our shell, our atmosphere that protects us and then … silence, the beginning of it all. It says, “silence.”

What would you say is your theme for when you not only shoot, but when you decide to share an image?

Winter's Approach - An Umber Scene in the Sierras (c) M.C. Andrews Photography

Winter’s Approach: An Umber Scene in the Sierras — (c) M.C. Andrews Photography

TAH: The aerial horizon and its curvature provide the dominant theme for my aerial photographs. I started shooting this way trying to get the most unobstructed and reflection free shots out my window. It was due to a physical constraint. Then I started realizing the effect of a longer horizon line in my photos…The curvature of the earth became more perceptible and more interesting. I think there are a couple of factors at play.. the change in orientation of the horizon starts exercising our brains and we stop looking at the horizon with our preconceived notion that it is a flat line, instead we study it and recognize the curvature. We are using both sides of our brain when we look at the scene set upside down…I find that scintillating. Shooting with a wide angle lens can also exaggerate the curve as the lines spread at the edges of the photo.

To get back to the theme, it’s about trying to communicate the scene as the story of a living planet rather than a snapshot of static landscape. When I am editing, I ask myself, “Does this picture draw me into the scene? Is there a motion to it?” I want to make the planet talk, if only in a whisper. I think my better photographs are beginning to accomplish that. I don’t have a set criteria for what I choose to share, but I try to share the shots that I am excited about.

Me: This one, “Settling Skies” — clouds! I LOVE clouds! They look like I could bounce on them down the sky and then fall asleep on them… The composition of the photo with the wide slant and angle of the horizon point … was the sun “setting” or “rising” here?

Settling Skies (c) M.C. Andrews Photography

Settling Skies — (c) M.C. Andrews Photography

TAH:  In this shot, the sun is setting as we cruise over a broken cloud deck over South Florida. These clouds are the remains of a failed storm that ran out of energy when the sun began to set. Flying relatively close to their tops, the light and shadows really accentuated the drama of the scene. Turning the wide angle lens at various angles helped me create a sense of motion instead of trying to capture a static sunset. The weather sort of speaks for itself and becomes the story and it is complimented by the light (rather than the other way around). We cruise around between 200 and 500 miles per hour (depending on our altitude), but it feels as though we are moving slowly. The fun part of flying around the clouds is that they are our closest source of relative motion so when we pass a nearby cloud, we get a sense of how fast we are moving and it can be exhilarating. By focusing on the clouds in this shot, I tried to share some of that sensation.

Me: The sun never actually “sets” or “rises” it’s the rotation of earth that makes those things “happen” — speak to that. So, you’re sort of chasing the sun, aren’t you? (Aren’t we all?)

TAH:  You have the right idea…as a pilot, I often find myself riding on a ribbon of light between night and day. We may take off after sunset only to experience it again once we get up to altitude. Depending on our direction of flight, that sunset might last a few hours. When flying to the west coast at sunset, I think of the trip as flying into a “perpetual sunset” as the sun will sit just above the horizon from the time we takeoff until we reach eastern Arizona. Not a good time to forget your sunglasses.

These flights also give us a great look at the shadow of the earth as it moves across the surface. The line it creates is called a “terminator” and it defines the twilight zone with an angular haze of purple light where the penumbral and umbral shadows meet. Avoiding the stare of the sun on these flights, we look left and right and see that we are riding in that twilight zone. It’s very hard to photograph, but the lighting effect is utterly fascinating. This is one of those things we see that make us feel like we have a secret to share.

Me: Sigh. FINAL question: I’d love to ask you questions about how your faith (if you’re OK with that) might be confirmed or chipped away by your experiences in flight when so much of it is science — how do you reconcile it? I see these images and it makes me totally believe in God; then I hear all your technical explanations and terms of art and science and then i swing to the science yet it loses none of the romance of mystery and faith. (Let me know if this isn’t making any sense…)

talk about scientific and technical... (c) M.C. Andrews Photography

where it all goes up and down… talk about scientific and technical… (c) M.C. Andrews Photography

TAH: If anything, I have to believe that my perspective has given me a greater appreciation of the world as a natural living thing. Its heartbeats are expressed in water through the arterial flow of rivers and capillary streams. Its breath is spawned by the effect of radiation on it surface causing variations in pressure combining with Coriolis forces that create ever-changing patterns of wind. Its memory is on display through the forms of landmasses and the geological scars that they bear. Science provides the explanations for the nature of our existence, but faith guides us through the atmosphere as we experience forces that influence our reality. What I find fascinating is that we are all influenced by the same forces, but most of us seek sum up our faith in a single finite explanation to address the mysteries (and science) of life in one tidy package of belief. I believe it’s bigger than that.

The concept of the Holy Spirit provides me more comfort with what I know of the world. The earth may have been born from genius or absolute chance, but the manner in which things intertwine and work synergistically to create a world that supports something as fragile as the life we know leads me to have faith that there are forces in, around, between and through us that, perhaps, represent the work of that Holy Spirit. That spirit sends us on a path that we follow if we are wise enough to see the signs. Putting a face or a name or a language to that force seems inadequate.

I feel a little heretical when I discuss this perspective. I feel as though the metaphysical power of prayer is a true expression of the Spirit between all things and that is more to the root of our existence. Putting a human face or a name on our beliefs satisfies a human need to understand but traps us in a small and divisive view of the world that does more to tear us apart than to better our existence. Rather understanding our environment through science and appreciating the mystery of “why” as being unanswerable leaves us with faith as our guide.

I find great comfort in knowing that all things are connected, but I am in awe of creation (and words cannot express this kind of awe that we feel in our nervous system…it’s butterflies, “pins and needles,” and sheer electricity) and I feel blessed constantly to have the gift of perspective that my work gives me. That is the expression I hope comes through in my photography.

[Aside: This all sounds pretty odd (I know) and I don’t know if it fits with where you want to go with this. On the faith front, I think I am becoming more of a Taoist and reconciling that with my Episcopalian faith…I have recently started becoming very “anti-dogma” and “pro-faith”]

Me: What you said… I get all of that. There is no ONE WAY to define faith for me; it’s so expansive, so to me, also should be my appreciation.

Here’s a picture I just nabbed for the fun of it:

Crossing Over the Moon (New Mexico) (c) M.C. Andrews Photography

Crossing Over the Moon (New Mexico) — (c) M.C. Andrews Photography

These photos are just a sampling of Malcolm’s talent and images. I grabbed mostly his aerial photography because it’s so compelling, but his terra firma shots are absolutely nourishing as well. His official website is here: http://mcandrewsphotography.zenfolio.com — check him out before he’s super famous.

Thanks, Malcolm.

Thank you.

30 Days of Brené Brown — Day 8: #faith #spirit #mystics


Welcome to Day 8 of “30 Days of Brené Brown.”

After wrenching through writing yesterday’s post (which I am glad I did because I got some kind feedback and my world has not yet crashed around me for going as far as I did there, which in my estimation was quite tame), I am eager to write about this quote.

Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.
― Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Faith. Isn’t it amazing? Mom used to say that faith is the greatest mystery of all. Why we rely on others, why we trust them, why we (some of us at least) rely on an unseen deity to usher peace and satisfaction in our lives, is truly one of the mind’s greatest spiritual gambits and communions.

This entire “conversation” reminds me of the post I wrote about Jung when I referred to my mom’s painting techniques. She used to say that sometimes we had to turn something upside-down to see all its dimensions. She used to also say that how a person sees another person is not how a mirror shows us to ourselves but as a three-way mirror would work: a reflection of that reflection. So, to be less obtuse, I’ll say this: I’m going to go at this from a different angle and first discuss my perspective of the omission of faith.

As far as I’m concerned, without faith, we have only ego. But then there’s an irony, for me anyway: when things go wrong, often we tend to blame outside circumstances: our history, the weather, a headache, the president, the car… whatever. When things go right, we tend to ascribe credit to   

Nope. It’s not working for me. There’s too much static in my head. I’ll just go straight in.

Faith is The Thing that keeps me going. For some reason, “giving up” is never an option; there is always a way through (not around). As much as I’d like to say my ego is the only thing that keeps me going, it’s really not. It’s much more my belief these days that things are unfolding as they should.

It’s simply much harder for me now, after the yoga retreat, the EMDR, the navel gazing, Mom’s death and cheap-seat views of my life to say that there’s no reason for any of it. I wrote about that here. All of it has a reason.

That’s the beauty of it though — it’s at that point that we can decide to analyze it to death (as I tend to do sometimes) or simply let it go. Doing both, to me, are acts of faith. Scripture tells of Thomas the Apostle who doubted Jesus. I dig that about Thomas. He was willing to go there and mete it out. Meting it out doesn’t mean you don’t believe or are absent of faith, it just means that you need a little more.

I’m re-reading the quote: “…to believe in something we cannot see and the strength TO LET GO(!)” [emphasis mine] — since when does letting go require strength? This quote has so many twists and layers.

It’s like spiritual lasagne.



Pass the tray.

Can we see fear? Why do we believe in it so much or allow it so much sway in our lives? What is it about fear that keeps us back, keeps us from seeing ourselves and our potential and from moving forward?

Strength to let go.

Yikes. Yes. Right?

What about another inversion: strength to hold on to fear? Tendonitis. It’s a crutch… fear is a crutch. This is flying at me so fast right now that it’s not mine. It’s coming from somewhere else.

I’ve said this before — that fear is a crutch. It allows us to stay angry and resentful. It harbors our darkest parts of ourselves for community. It’s truly the misery that loves our company. 

Standing still is one of the hardest things to do. To stand fast in the face of fear instead of run from it. That takes strength. Don’t believe me? Try standing fast — not locking your knees, eyes focused, arms at ease at your sides. Breathing. Try it for one minute without moving one millimeter. Soldiers are TRAINED to do this. It’s not so simple, so easy and so natural to stand fast and ready for anything. In yoga we call it “Mountain Pose” or Tadasana. You are encouraged to feel the earth with your bare feet, ready for anything: to act or to stand fast. After about 10 seconds of it you can feel your pulse. Then you hear your pulse. Your breathing slows, your gaze softens, your muscles at once firm and relaxed, experiencing what it means to Just Be.

Wake up! Back to Brown.

What is it about the unseen nature of faith that makes some people roll their eyes at the concept of giving one’s problems (control issues) and gratitude for life’s gifts (seen and unseen) up to a higher power?

What is it about the unseen nature of fear that makes some people nod their heads and murmur “Uh-hunh.”?

Why do we scoff at one, but allow the other?

Why do we allow the painful and inhibiting one but dismiss or feel undeserving of the joyful and liberating one?

Look, I’m not suggesting that we all run out into the streets and proclaim that we’ve given it all up to God/Universe/Fate/Spirit  what about faith in ourSelves? We’ve gotten this far, right? Sure we’ve had bumps, bruises, wrecks, mistakes and missteps. But we’re still here!

(Someone slap me.)

Fear of uncertainty.  Other than knowing that nothing is certain, ever, please… someone show me how being afraid of something that we can count on — uncertainty — gets us anywhere.

I am just saying that I think we ought to give ourselves more credit than allowing fear to run our lives.

Who’s with me?

Thank you.

ps – to yesterday: i’m going to go ahead and write the memoir. i don’t know about publishing. ha. look at me not caring about what i don’t have to care about at the moment.

30 Days of Jung — Day 26: #Anxiety, #Christianity, #Denial, #Faith, #Forgiveness, #Love, #Morality, #Psychology


Ooofda. When I compiled these quotes almost a month ago, I saw this one, this big, huge, chunky one and I thought, “aw, hell.”

Welcome to Day 26 of “30 Days of Jung,” my series, wherein (soon, I will start repeating myself, like now) I take a famous quote of Carl G. Jung‘s and try to make sense or refute or invert or disembowel it or where I turn into a heaping pile of mush because of it in 1,000 words or less.

If you don’t know who Jung is, he formulated the theories of introverted and extroverted personalities, the stages of individuation, the basis of the “Meyers-Briggs” personality (INFJ / ESFJ, etc.) tests. He’s the “father” of modern-day psychoanalysis. In short, he’s a badass. But he’s dead, so he can’t be with us today.

Here is today’s:

“The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the whole moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook on life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ — all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself — that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness — that I myself am the enemy who must be loved — what then? As a rule, the Christian’s attitude is then reversed; there is no longer any question of love or long-suffering; we say to the brother within us “Raca,” and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide it from the world; we refuse to admit ever having met this ‘least among the lowly’ in ourselves.”

― C.G. JungMemories, Dreams, Reflections

Yesterday, I rephrased his quote. Today, I’m going to blow it off altogether and try to get to the nut of it.

Amazingly, it threads a lot of what we’ve talked about this week. Well, since I began this, really. It is so rich, really. There are many fantastic elements for me.

Once I get past all the hyperbole and comparisons, to me, the essence of this quote is in the first sentence and the final clause:  “we refuse to admit ever having met this ‘least among the lowly’ in ourselves.” (I added the single quotes in the original and the excerpt for context and emphasis.)

When he says “whole outlook on life” I think he’s meaning Whole-whole as in entire-self, self-aware, self-actualized.

He’s talking about self-love. He’s talking about deep self-love and more likely, craven, feral self-loathing. I’ve seen that self-loathing in people I used to know; it makes their eyes as black as pitch and their voices thunderous and coarse and nothing is safe.

The timing of this is interesting. Preparing this post, I was trying to figure out my approach and then I happened up on the YouTube video of Dustin Hoffman talking about the making of “Tootsie” and a revelation he had while in make-up before the production went underway. Go ahead, watch it if you haven’t seen it already.


Now someone pick my face up out of the toilet from barfing too much and get me a washcloth to wipe off my mouth.

I read some of the comments on the video and one struck me most (paraphrasing): when women say this about each other, we get crickets. When a man says, it, we get applause.

Here’s me:

When an academy-award winning, classicly trained, stage, film, audio, musical ACTOR says it, up go my flags. Is this an anniversary for “Tootsie” or something? Has Hoffman, whom I respect greatly, not gotten enough love lately? (Don’t worry, I’ll get to Jung in a sec, like now, like I have been….) Hoffman IS showing us that darker, ‘least among the lowly’ in all of us; he described it in the retrospective and I dare say it that he’s doing it again IN THAT VIDEO. I’ll be a jerk and say it. I’m calling him out a little. The pauses and chokes were just … so nice. Couldn’t get the tears to roll though… he blew it on that one… he should’ve thought of puppies dying. 

I grew up with An Act-ress! She could man-i-pulllll-ate like a pack of wild dogs (a seemingly weak metaphor, but not really if you know what I’m talking about); I’d see her coming and I’d drop the steak, drop the toy, drop the candy…

It was folly trying to predict one moment from the next. In a comedic way, it was like living with Doug Henning, that weird 80s magician with the buck teeth and the long hair. As I aged, I really had no clue about anything she was involved in regarding my safety and operated at a DefCon 2 (code orange) at all times. I was locked and loaded, just not trained on my sight yet. After a while I eventually gave up trying to understand or trying to believe.

Those were moments of the ‘least among the lowly’ in my life. I refer to Hoffman because I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d like to believe him, and I might NOW rather than how he states it was then. Maybe he’s more evolved and I should be less least lowly; if what he’s saying is true, about his reactions and sadnesses and cutting out people (not just women — this is gender neutral to me) based on appearances, then it’s more than the OTHER people he’s talking about but not talking about. He’s NOT talking about his least lowly self, his arrogance, his perception that he was better than they were. His disconnection…. with this video clip, I believe we’re just getting to the proverbial tip of the iceberg in human relations. It’s not how OTHER people look/behave/say/do, it’s what’s WE, the receivers of that information, that intangible sensory data, do with the data.

Again, with emphasis, chins up: It’s not just because Hoffman didn’t notice women who were what he found to be considered beneath his view, it’s because Hoffman didn’t stop there. It’s not about women, it’s not about men and it’s not about OTHERS. It’s about us. The least among the lowly of us all — that arrogance, that belittling, that other stuff that prevents us all from self-love and thus from loving others. It’s not what he failed to see in others, it’s what he failed to see in himself which prevented him from seeing others. 

Wayne, I’m not done yet, so I sense you right now…

Jung uses “Raca” as a self-admonition and self-reproach. Raca is Aramaic for “worthless” and “vain”  and “empty.” It’s a derivation of “to spit.”

Pretty heavy stuff. What else can generate a sense of raca in others, than a sense of raca for ourselves? Jung is ALL OVER this concept — you can’t give what you don’t have.

How many among us can easily refer to ourselves as raca without daring to consider it about another person — we’d have to be really pushed very hard to say that about someone else. Personally, I have found myself saying raca about myself regardless of how much I do for others. How much I volunteer my time, how much I do for my family, how much I do for my community and for others.

Why, just the other day in therapy I was talking about my feelings of worthlessness which are based on fears of scarcity and lashing verbal threats of poverty that I endured as a child (please don’t shriek discuss dire matters of finance in front of your young children). And it was just yesterday I felt like I was “a suckhole” (my word, get your own) on my family because I do not earn income and I spend our assets on things (clothes, food, gas, entertainment). That despite all I have done in my life, all I have accomplished, all I have contributed and all I have yet to contribute and to serve, that I feel worthless, like a suckhole, like raca. That raca builds on itself.

Jung asserts that the reversal of the Christian attitude is a “rule” — that we say raca and condemn our darker selves from the world; we hide our suffering and our needs and refuse to admit — not even reject, but to repel! — that ‘brother’ in ourselves. That feels a lot like self-rejection to me.

I don’t know what to do with that, really. Is he suggesting that we are in denial of our self-condemnation or that we are silently suffering? “That which we resist, persists” – CGJ. If we hide our darker side and we act as if we don’t possess it…

Gah, I wish he weren’t dead.

I know that every one of us possesses a darker side and I know that I don’t repel mine, but I don’t like it; I try to work with it, soften it. But there is part of us that is pure animal, irrational, primitive and horrific. How do you tame that? Somehow most of us manage every day. In our American, civilized society we have laws, rights, rules, liberties, codes and mandates. They help a ton! Do they repress us? I don’t know. Could we be like The Wild Things without the rules? Even when King Max arrived, they bent to his laws. Is it our nature to need boundaries and guidelines? I think so. But I know that’s not real; if that little boy Max really went to an island with those creatures he’d be toast.

My session ended well, we talked about how my feelings of being a suckhole are steeped deeply in concerns dumped on me by my parents and their irrationality and their lack of control of their adult situations. That’s not my issue to carry anymore. I am trying actively to shed it; it’s a matter of getting my emotions to sync up with my intellect and it takes some time and some practice. Maybe I’ll spend money irrationally on something one of these days… 😉

 — that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness — that I myself am the enemy who must be loved —

…Stand in need of the alms of my own kindness.


Jeezus, yes. Hell yes. Arms outstretched, palms up, wide open, face up, tears streaming, vulnerable, waiting… for ourselves to be kind to ourselves. Yes, Jung is talking about a very deep part of ourselves that we at times seem unwilling to face or change. How wonderful would it be for us to release feelings of raca. How wonderful and how amazing we could be. How wonderful and amazing we already are.

This was almost 1800 words; this was a long quote and I don’t think I’m nearly done with it yet. I’ll let you guys take it from here…

Thank you.

ps —

when i saw that quote a while ago, i was struck by its size; it’s so much longer than all the others. but its length belies is intention which is quite simple but so hard to accomplish: love yourself too.


This. I Did This.


So I just did this:

holy shit, right?

holy shit, right?

I just entered a fiction writing contest. For people who are 45 years or older. I am 45 years or older. I am 45.56 years old. I’ve written some fiction. I submitted some of that content. So, like … heck to the yeah!

I’ve never done anything like this in my life.

If you knew me, you’d say, “Why not? You’ve a winning personality and a bright smile and a cheerful outlook on life… why wouldn’t you go for this?” and I’d say, “Because I don’t know. Because I suck. Because I have no confidence.”

And you’d say, “But you have this blog, you write all the time, you love to write and you wrote this whole story, that one about the poor kid who injected himself to turn himself into a tree, but he didn’t know why he did it himself, like why he felt this irrepressible urge to turn himself into a tree, but he learned later, you know in that scene you wrote… and that scene, man… holy shit, did you submit that scene?”

And I’d say, “No, I didn’t submit that scene, but I did submit the parts that led up to it; the parts that started the story because while that whole scene, and maaaaan, yes, the ones after it, painted such a … wow, a detailed and intense reason and like shed light on a whole slew of effed-up family history, like real intense stuff, I decided against submitting that part because I wanted to follow the moderator’s advice, which was: ‘always leave the reader wanting more.’ So I did. I did that. I left the reader wanting more.”

And then you’d say, “Well, that’s OK, but you should’ve submitted that scene, Mol. It was so good, so intense. What about the later one, at the cemetery? Did you do that?”

And I’d punch you in the face because I would feel defeated because I had already submitted the content. I’d say “No. Just the earlier parts… because I didn’t want to give too much away and I had to keep it to 5,000 words and I had to have the content stand on its own…”

And then you’d nod and smile and say, “That’s awesome, Mol. Good job.” And you’d pat me on the back and then you’d think a little and your face would make a squinchy expression, like you smelled something rancid in the other room, but just a hint of it and you’d ask, “But when will you find out if you placed or won or got an honorable mention or anything, Mol?”

And I’d say, “Humph. You know what…? I have no clue. It sorta doesn’t matter. Except for the fact that if I won $1000 for the competition I’d use it to purchase a publishing package … or yoga certification classes. But the more I think about it, probably the publishing stuff. Right?”

And you’d say, “Yeah, I mean you don’t need certification to teach yoga and that Bikram dude is a total perv and that John Friend guy is another perv, so yeah… do the writing thing.”  And I’d nod.

Yeah, so I’m stepping out of my box again. I have only one person to thank and she knows who she is. She lives on the other side of a fence line we share. Years ago she told me “I believe in you.” And she gave me this little card that said so. And if there were a little place to write a dedication for a content submission, it would be dedicated to her. So thanks, RICK. xoxo

So, if you’re on the fence to do something like this… just do it y’know? After your first writing contest what’s another one? The second… 😉 (I just said that to a friend of mine in a comment.) So don’t be afraid. I did this. You can too.

You can’t win if you don’t play. (That’s my motto.)

As for the rest of you: have a wonderful Sunday and a Happy Easter if that’s your bag; it’s mine, so I will.

Thank you.