Saturday, February 27, 2021

THE BLINK OF AN EYE – And the Curse of Panception

You know those optical sleights of hand where you have to look at an image in a different way in order to spot the cryptic subject? Then, once you’ve seen it, you can’t not see it?

That’s the way many of life’s small wonders embed themselves in one’s consciousness. Things so elusive at first that they get lost in the surrounding noise—or so commonplace as to become invisible simply for their omnipresence. Like one’s own heartbeat or the muted tapping of fingers on computer keyboards.

Well, I’ve discovered another of these riveting minutiae: eye blinking. 

It was during an interview I recently watched on TV. I probably should have been listening to the dialog, but no, I had to notice the eyes. Turns out the guest blinked hers occasionally—maybe once every five or six seconds. But the host batted his eyes at about three times that rate—like every one to two seconds.

Now I suppose we could debate what accounted for the difference. But that’s not the point. The point is that now I can’t see, or hear…or smell anything but blinking. My God, what if I start obsessing about my own blinkin’ eyes?

I guess it’s just the curse of being what I call a panceptive. You notice everything, even stuff you might wish you hadn’t. A deal with the devil.

Is it worth it? Well, I’m overstating the price of panception just a little. So, attempts at humor aside, of course it’s worth it. Keep your eyes peeled, pay attention, be curious, expect wonder…

…and don’t blink.

   “In the concert of life, are you tuned in to the musicians? To the
     conductor? Perhaps it's the music, taking you far away.
     All that presence asks is that, wherever experience takes you, that's
     where you go—fully, gladly and all the way.”

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

BREATHING AS ONE – A Meditation Greenhorn’s Epiphany

Ages ago Sally and I took a community-ed meditation class. About all I remember is something our instructor called a “cleansing breath.” And that I enjoyed some of his guided meditations.

So I’m far from a sophisticated meditator, but with that modest intro I’ve devised my own technique which works just fine. It helps me relax and keep things in perspective during these nightmarish times.


I usually start a session by watching the “shape” of my breathing—visualizing it not as two distinct movements—in, stop, out, stop—but as one continuous, elliptical cycle.

Once that rhythm is set I picture the inhalations bringing in good stuff, like positive energy, light, abundance, healing… and the exhalations expelling all the bad stuff: negativity, darkness, scarcity and illness/pain. It’s kind of like a pump…or better a conveyor belt; you grab things you want as it winds in, and dump your trash on it as it heads back out.

     All time, past and future, has swirled together
     into this little present-moment eddy.

During this morning’s meditation I experienced something remarkable. I’d just gotten my breathing down when, suddenly, the space it occupied grew from arm’s-length scale to cosmic.

One second, I’m thinking of myself and my own respiration; the next, I have this profound sense that somehow my breath is commingling with other breaths, those of loved ones and ancestors, strangers on the other side of the world, and anyone who’s ever entered this sublime, out-of-body dimension.

I drift off magically through space and time, feeling deeply that everything under creation is connected, in me and of me. And that all time, past and future, has swirled together into this little present-moment eddy.

It’s not that I’ve never had this sense before, but usually it’s been more a fleeting glimpse, not there long enough to make the leap from the  intellectual to the emotional. This time it does though; it feels so powerful, so very real.

Curiously, as my soul soars like this, I’ve never felt more grounded, more centered.

One of my fondest wishes during the pandemic and the other convulsions wracking our poor planet has been that something good will come of it all. Something transformational about how we treat each other and our precious planet.

If it were nothing else, I’d settle for a very deep, broad, cross-cultural sense that we’re all—we and all of Nature’s miracles—connected as one. And a contagion of empathy.

I think that connection is what I experienced this morning. I hope I can let it percolate through me, flavoring not just my rarefied reveries, but all my comings and goings.

And I pray it might find the light of day, too, in you and in everyone, everywhere…and soon.

Sunday, January 24, 2021


WOW! Half a million visits!

If I had a nickel for everyone who’s dropped in here at my One Man’s Wonder blog, I’d still be poor. But it’s not about the money; it’s about the sense of connection with people—from 77 countries so far—who share my passion for noticing and celebrating small wonders.

Keep checking out my occasional ramblings, and keep walking in your own ways of wonder.

Many thanks to all!

Friday, January 1, 2021

HOPE IN A SNOWFLAKE – A New Years Eve Reflection

One of the innumerable reasons I count myself such a lucky man is the warm, wise, witty group of friends Sally and I have been fortunate enough to celebrate New Year's Eve with for the past decade or so.

Tonight, I've got to admit, I wasn't so sure I could be fully present with anyone via Zoom. But the kindness, creativity and openness—the preciousness—of these particular people cut through all the "remote"-ness and touched my heart. Ruth, Dan, Marty, Gary, Kathy, Randy, thank you for a wonderful evening!

One of the highlights of our New Year's together was sharing our reflections on the evening's theme: hope. Each of us shared a very personal take on the topic, from the reflective to the musical to the challenging to the poetic.

Here is the piece I wrote for the occasion:


What is hope? Is it anticipation? Expectation? And where’s it located? Is it all about something happening way off in the future? Must it always be about the future?

Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle likes to say, because the past has already happened, and the future hasn’t yet, that neither exists. That the only time that’s real is now.

So, what does hope look like, not when it’s about some distant outcome, but closer to now?

Well, of course there’s the kind with a capital H, that big, existential kind that’s just out there somewhere. But the small-h, everyday kind—is grounded in the here and now, resting not as much in fate as in our own hands, heart and spirit.

It’s really a choice we make, like love or happiness. But more like surrender, cut of the same cloth as faith.

If big-H Hope is the distant glow at the end of the tunnel, small-h hope is lighting candles in the darkness.

In these discouraging times, we need all the hope we can get—both kinds. Big-H Hope to put out there in the Universe as our sacred intention for ourselves and the world.

And small-h hope, which is often just putting one foot in front of the other. It’s there in the smallest details, minutia that might slip right past us if we’re less than fully present to call it what it is.

What is hope?
It’s a rustling in the brush along the bank of Peasley’s Slough
A glint of light through the forest ahead promising the end of the portage
Kneeling down to check the thickness of the ice
Swiping on a little blue kicker over your glide coat
Casting into that deep eddy just downstream from a rock point
Sticking out your tongue for a snowflake

It’s walking out with your choir onto the stage
Composing that exotic, dream itinerary
Readying your craft space with papers, scissors and glue
Checking how many students have shown up in your Zoom waiting room
Wrapping your finished lampshade arc around the rings
And it’s watching the garage door open and wanting so much for your partner’s car to be there.

There is hope in all these things, all of them signs of wonders about to happen.

So, as we face a new year, still groping our way through this tunnel of fear and uncertainty, may we take comfort in the glow we see at the end, and light those little candles. 

May we seek and find hope everywhere. Yes, up in the sky, in the big picture of what might lie ahead for us. But let us also find it in the moment, in the common, the constant. In each small wonder, each fleeting thought, each precious moment of 2021.