Author Archives: Eric Walker

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.

I believe

I believe in one good spliff

I believe in unlikely origins, unanticipated success, fathers, freedom and redemption. I believe in destiny, heroic journeys and making the right choice when the chips are down. I believe in what endures. I believe in childhood. I believe time tells many stories from a single choice. I believe there exists in us all a relationship between good and evil. I believe in rebellions. I believe in being audacious about hope and committed to liberty. I believe in human rights and the resources of community. I believe in all the complexities of relationship. I believe in rituals to live by, tradition, pride and Santa Claus.

An important thing to do each day

Journaling is how I clear the fog

Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter. And lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.

—Jack London

This is how I’m journaling right now.

The reason I am committed to journaling every day is because I know that when I am finished, I am centered, I am calm and I am primed to do the actual daily work of living a meaningful life.

I’ve been reading a lot from authors who describe the way they journal. So this approach to journaling isn’t original to me. It’s cobbled from a few different virtual mentors of mine whose approaches I’ve been learning. I’ve been writing this way for a week or so.

For me, first thing in the morning is best for journaling. That isn’t always an option so choose any quiet moment throughout the day. To be thoughtful with this, you’ll need 15 minutes of vigorous writing or 30 minutes of contemplative writing.

Here’s how I’m journaling right now.

First, I Find My Six People (Every Day)

  1. Someone to love. Write the name of the person, and why you love them.
  2. Someone to thank. You could call this person to thank them. Or, just write their name down and why you’re thankful.
  3. Someone to be grateful for. It’s okay if they are dead or gone from your life.
  4. Someone to forgive. You don’t have to tell them. Or you could. The point is to just forgive and notice how it feels on the inside.
  5. Someone to forget. In other words, no need to be angry anymore. Maybe not forgetting, but definitely moving on, even if their actions were unforgivable.
  6. Someone to admire. Think of a person you can admire and/or emulate.

I learned this from James Altucher, and I think it’s great. I recommend his books Choose Yourself and Reinvent Yourself. In the seven days that I’ve been doing this, I never have run out of people to include. If anything, it’s hard to keep it short, but makes me look forward to the next day.

After I’ve found my six people, I move onto a different format.

The next three sections are designed get the hand writing something / anything down to stops things from ­going around and around in my head. The idea is to put things in perspective, to stop myself from obsessing and help me make sense of the day to day jumble of thoughts and feelings.

Section 1

A. One sentence about the day that passed.

No time to elaborate. Keep the summary of your day before short and concise.

Section 2

Thoughts and responses about the following:

B. Yesterday’s workout or food intake. I do this because I have a new fitness goal I seek to accomplish that requires the elimination of certain foods and gradual increases in weight training.

C. Notable occurrences

I’m finding that here is where I do a lot of bitching about shitty interactions I have with people that leave me feeling annoyed, angry, frustrated or hurt.

D. What I want to get better at

For example, the other day I wrote:

I want to get better at saying “No” to people who want favors from me that are, whether consciously or unconsciously, exploitative of my time, my resources and my capabilities because in doing so, I am stripping my ambition from myself and using for someone else, which is akin to me turning my back on myself.

E. Where I am succeeding?

Section 3

You don’t have to respond to all of these prompts below. Some days I might only address one or two of them. On other days, I write thoughts for all of them. Here they are below.

F. Where am I standing in my own way?

G. What’s the smallest step I can take toward a big thing today?

H. What blessings can I count right now?

I. In what area of my life do I seek validation. Why?

J. What is the harder choice I’m avoiding?

K. Do I rule my fears, or do they rule me?

L. How will today’s difficulties show my character?

Credit to Ryan Holiday for this approach.

I’ve been journaling since 1994, mostly just for me, with words that don’t see the light of day. I feel it’s the most cost effective therapy I’ve ever found. Life is full of muddy, maddening, confusing thoughts – worries, jitters, and preoccupations. Why not put them on the page so you can face your day with clear eyes rather than slopping on others.

The old roaring me

The old roaring me, the one that lives off gut:

the original face of my true intuitions
the one that knows before it listens
the one with instincts that don’t lie

that small being of my already always conversations
that almost knows what I already sense, and finds its way
through frozen mud, hunting through cold darkness by scent

where my thoughts cross unmarked snow toward home.

That’s the old roaring me
the one that lives off gut