Monthly Archives: December 2017

The Solution for Being Offended (by everything)

“If someone succeeds in provoking you, realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation.”

–Epictetus

The quote above is 1,900 years old. Proof that even then we felt that it was easier to police the outside than examine our inside.

The real and fair solution is less politically correct but effective. It’s to stop trying to protect people’s feelings. Your feelings are your problem, not mine – and vice versa.

Real empowerment and respect is to see our fellow citizens – victims and privileged, religious and agnostic, conservative and liberal – as adults. Human beings are not automatons – ruled by drives and triggers they cannot control. On the contrary, we have the ability to decide not to be offended. We have the ability to discern intent. We have the ability to separate someone else’s actions or provocation or ignorance from our own. This is the great evolution of consciousness – it’s what separates us from the animals.

What also separates us is our capacity for empathy. Yet how empathetic the speech we decide to use is choice for each one of us to make. Some of us are crass, some of us are considerate. Some of us find humor in everything, some of us do not. Those of us that believe it and live our lives by a certain sensitivity cannot bully other people into doing so too. That sort of defeats the purpose.

Control and discipline of one’s own reactions make for a successful person and a functioning society. I don’t think you want to live in a world where that isn’t the expectation of each of us. I don’t think you want to see the things that will need to happen when the burden of making sure everyone is happy and not offended is put on the government or worse, a corrupt and bitter media system.

That media system – by the way – is paid by the page view. Thus motivated with real financial incentives to find things to be offended about. Because offense and outrage are traffic triggers. Some call them Social Justice Warriors, who, despite their sincerity of belief, also build huge platforms by inventing issues and conflicts which they then ride to prominence and influence.

This is called a Rage Profiteer. From the President down to the last kneeling football player. They get us riled up, they appeal to our notions of fairness and empathy (because who likes to see someone else’s feelings hurt?) without any regard for what the consequences are.

I’ll end with what I started with. Stop trying to protect people’s feelings. Your feelings are your problem, not mine – and vice versa.

Parenting reminder


Homework doesn’t matter, grades don’t matter – only what the process they represent matters. My children are not a reflection of me (their parents), they depend on me (their parents) to raise them into adults who can be reflections of who they uniquely are.

My PFC Natural Grocery Store of Kalamazoo


I really appreciate my PFC Natural Grocery here in Kalamazoo.

I thought about it today. I come to my PFC just about every day. I am making this post from the parking lot, talking into my phone, feeling appreciative.

Sometimes I’m here for breakfast on the run, in which case I get the breakfast burrito. Perfect for after a workout at the Western Michigan University’s track. And a coffee. They are getting better with their brewed coffee.

Often times, it’s lunch from the bar. They do the best chicken.

More than that, it’s the staples. The following items are part of my regular grocery list. I get them all at my PFC:

Ground beef, chicken thighs, eggs, milk, bread, rice, oatmeal, pasta, etc and whatever else might catch my eye that’s for sale. Like the ice cream sandwiches, which me and my kids bond over at the picnic tables located outside. Today it’s the organic fuel high protein milkshake with 26 grams of protein for $2.99. They always have deals easily marked.

At the co-op I can say to my children, “Get whatever you want as long as it is real food and it is healthy for you.” Then I will watch each of them do their thing, make their decisions and come back to the bar or the picnic table outside and we will eat together. As a parent I am happy about that.

Most of all though, it’s where me, my kids and my co-parent hang out together. It’s where we meet. It’s our community place. It’s where we know and where we are known. Kalamazoo would not be the same without this place and I will always support them. There is something for everyone here.

Lastly, I love what they are doing behind the scenes to support community, equity and justice for everyone in our town. I have been so excited about their change for change program, which is at check out customers are given the opportunity to round up their change to support a local non-profit.

Support the PFC Natural Grocery. They are the good guys.

Oh, and bananas are free for kids. Carrots are only a dollar.

Moving on

I am amazed at how we manage to recover from a harrowing event, how we can move-on from sadness and memory to laughter and joy — that resilience, and what it means when, say, six months later life has changed.

I am amazed at how our heart works, how it lives, how it beats beyond the moment and after an inciting moment. It keeps musical time until it feels where the old boundaries were, and pushes further out yet.

Our bodies follow and push too, and push further and further. In-sync with our steadfast thumping heart. Until we are so far away it’s as if whatever we’ve pushed out or pushed off from only exists in the story we tell ourselves and others.

I am amazed with my beating heart, and my body that follows a little further each day.

Most moments don’t preserve. They are no match for the consistency of a beating heart. Knowing that creates a dull ache in the pit of my stomache because I want to preserve everything. But eventually, the old boundaries are so far away that I begin to feel the pleasures of true freedom.

The one you long for

“If you become the one you long for, what will you do with your longing?”
–Rumi

Thank you, Rumi. Your impossible poetry grounds me after just one sentence

I might lack the art to decipher it, but I think you’re asking, What if you are the only one you seek and the only one to seek?

You are telling me that when I fall in love with myself, I reclaim my heart.

You are telling me that instead of seeking someone else to complete me, I complete myself.

You remind me that I love and honor myself for being exactly who I am right now

You remind me to keep turning the pages from my book of transformations.

You remind me that I am the center of my heart by being who I am, and more of who I am.

Sometimes I know things before I hear them, and when that happens, that’s why I am in the world.

You inspire me Rumi! Your words are why I am in the world today.

.

Ode to the Eastside


My kids ride their bikes in the road. When the cars approach, they slow down, veer off to one side, then wave. It doesn’t matter that their bass speakers are thumping and the muffler is dragging.

A gang of adolescents were walking down the center of the road with bottle rockets, fire crackers, cursing profanity, reckless. I see trouble coming so I meet them before they pass my house. I approach and ask that they politely refrain from such stuff as they pass my house. My small children are playing in the front yard. They respectfully oblige.

Midnight: an unrecognized car has pulled into my driveway thumping rap music. It’s rattling the windows of my sleeping childrens’ bedroom. As I walk out to the car, I smell the sweet smell of marijuana. I say, You can park here on two conditions:

1). you turn the music down and
2). you pass that joint to me.

Moments later, I’m high and listening to the quiet.

I live in one of Kalamazoo’s lowest socio-economic neighborhoods. Not enough is ugly. Black is the color. Some folks are forgotten in this neighborhood, but I have yet to see a child unhappily riding bikes in the road.

I strive to be

Whenever I feel embarrassed about revealing myself with people in the world, or at this blog, I rephrase the thought in my brain. It goes like this: I would be embarrassed if I didn’t because when I talk to people (you), I want them to reveal themselves to me also. It’s like, ‘Who am I to ask you a hard question if I won’t come forward first?‘ That’s the way I want to be in the world.