Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) wrote one of my childhood books, “The Jungle Book,” the gripping tales of the feral child Mowgli and his animal friends Bagheera, the leopard; Baloo, the bear; Kaa, the python; and Mowgli’s deadly rival Shere Khan, the tiger.
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A reader turns me on to a blog site by therapist Dr. Robert Glover. I like him. I like his encouraging energy. He reminds me of me, the way he is always writing, reaching out to the world and saying, “Hey, let’s think about this together!”
I’ll always remember my favorite clinical supervisor as Wild Bill, though I never called him that to his face. But he had a long, shoulder-length mane and mustache that recalled my favorite boyhood Old West hero, Wild Bill Hickock.
In 1979, author William Styron gave us the novel “Sophie’s Choice.” In 1982, director Alan Pakula gave us the film by the same name.
Self-esteem. Self-worth. How do human beings come to feel worthwhile? Or, to risk living as if they are worthy, even if they do not yet feel themselves to be?
Merely on the whim of a friend’s suggestion timed neatly on a Sunday afternoon devoid of Green Bay Packer football, I went to a meditation class. Like, whatever.
The presence of affection is, in the end, no valid measure of whether we love. To the contrary, the fidelity and quality of love is most fiercely tested in the absence of affection.
The best, most justifiable divorce is hell. It goes downhill from there in a big hurry. Which is why I admire people who can negotiate that hell with honor, justice and equity.
Everything we need to know about how and why Adrian Peterson could and did deliver a savage beating to his 4-year-old son is summed up in the words of Peterson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin: “Adrian is a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son. … He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in East Texas. Adrian has never hidden from what happened.”
When it comes to behavior in life, context is everything. More to the point, the relationship is everything.
As I ride the express elevator down the back nine of my life, I do what a lot of middle-age baby boomers do: I seek, treasure and cherish regular doses of nostalgia. Nostalgia is what finally takes me to see the film version of the Broadway hit “Jersey Boys,” a jukebox musical telling of the band the Four Seasons.
Here comes The Speech. I can see it on his face. I can feel the words gathering in the air between us. One part plea, one part protest, one part lamentation.
Celebrity is a calling. Fame is nuts. I think of this as I grieve the death of actor/comedian Robin Williams.
Trust isn’t something we learn. Trust is something we risk. Or don’t risk.
There is in my house a bookshelf reserved for “the museum.” By “museum” I mean a collection of books that have been, at one time or another, hugely important to me. Books from my childhood, my youth and then adulthood. From “Pippi Longstocking” to “Frankenstein.” From Mark Twain to Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
1993. Two days shy of his second birthday, my firstborn, Jonathan, is exploring the grassy area behind the apartment building. His legs, alive with energy and joy, make the swish-squish sound that is the signature of the modern disposable diaper. I watch him from a distance, sitting on a concrete staircase, guitar in my lap, dreaming, resting.
Sooner or later in long-term therapy, most adult patients will drift — or dive — toward their family history. They begin to take a more comprehensive, more honest and accurate inventory of realities they faced as children. The strength and weaknesses, health and unhealth, justice and injustice of the families in which they were reared. Because all families have some combination of all of those things.
I tune into the World Cup final just as Germany and Argentina head to “extra time,” deadlocked in an epic, scoreless tie. My son, Joseph The Football Player, says, “I didn’t think you liked soccer, Papa.”
The summer sun yields to the crest of the mountain. The shadows deepen, then darken.
I’m sitting in a room with 50-plus people who are very different, yet have one very important thing in common. We are seekers.
When I stand back and observe law enforcement and military service in the United States, the sheer swath, depth and breadth of options is impressive. It’s a continuum that begins with mere presence and ends with a thermonuclear strike.
The sun cracks the horizon on my 23rd canvas of our tent. Curled in my sleeping bag, I notice I’m cold. It’s mid-June, and I am cold! Later today it will be a billion degrees in the Mojave Desert. But right now, camped on the shores of Navajo Lake in Kane County, Utah, the thermometer registers 36 degrees.
I once tried to craft a definition of spirituality that could be universalized. That is, the definition would not and could not be “owned” or dominated by any particular religion.
Fistfights were something I managed to avoid during childhood. See, boys come in varieties.
Let me be clear that, until a few days ago, I had never heard of The Western Center for Journalism, which describes itself as “a vigorous watchdog that reports on government corruption and abuse. … We believe that informed public debate requires quality journalism and reporting.”
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