Solitude & Devotion.

November 28, 2020

It could be worse…

Soft and feminine, you adore it. It has become your companion. Palpable. Serene. Lovely. You have a long-term relationship with solitude, which almost never gets old. So many people abhor solitude, likening it to loneliness, depression and even madness. Especially women, who feel others in ways you’ll never understand.

Like many parents, Sarah fears the impending emptiness of her nest. She’s not sure you’ll be in it. And neither are you. But that was the least of it. The girls. They are her everything. And soon they will be gone. Remy was in college and the other two right behind her. The girls. Sarah answered to their endless chirping like a calling. She lived deeply in their experiences, feeling every bruise, celebrating all victories, and worrying herself sick. How would she ever replace that? With you? Please.

For you, it would not be an empty nest. It was solitude.

There will always be a wall between you and devotion. You built it for protection against cruelties, both real and phantom. Over time, the mortar hardened. Now, it was virtually impenetrable. Like your father, you eventually surrendered to the fact that intimacy would never come to you the way it did for others. And like your dad you found a way to compensate. You became an underwriter. Enabling your family to have deep and fantastic experiences, even if you couldn’t.


Years later. These woods. The fading sun casting long shadows. In this moment on that bend on a slope you envision your ideal death. You imagine a mountain lion. The beast still existed and in these very woods, albeit rare. They were still here. Avoiding extinction, through guile and guts. Still here.

Again, you hear the rustling. Could it be the wind? No. Everything about you is motionless. Most likely it’s vermin scuttling within the leaf bed. Or is it the great cat, with claws and fangs and yellow eyes?

Could it be?

It comes from deep inside, almost like a prayer, a fantasy or even a nightmare. In a way it is all of those things. Let it be a cougar that takes your life, right here and now, pouncing on you and ripping apart your throat, feeding upon your flesh. You would welcome the pain as penance for everything you’d done. Dying in the mouth of a lion. Such a magnificent death! Your body becomes a sacrament. Something holy. No more fearing the end like everyone else: how it might happen, how might it hurt? Between his claws you would make your peace. Then fall backward onto the ground, bleeding into it, as the lion tore out your heart.

Only a squirrel.

Chattering, it scurries across your path. Unless you slip and fall, you will not be dying on this trail. Your magnificent death remains a waking dream. Yet, you feel an odd lightness. You’ve discovered an idea of death you can live with.

New chapter soon…


Like many introverts, you find serenity in nature. Retreating into the woods, the hills or simply out on the lake fishing. Leaving the company of people. Entering a better place.

Drugs and alcohol once took you away from people. False prophets, malicious guides into dangerous places, they drew you inward. Left you there. Isolated. Like they say in AA, your brain is a very dangerous neighborhood.

So you go outside. Marin County has so many trails. Within minutes you are free. In nature means you’re never alone, even by yourself. It’s both hard to explain yet obvious. Solitude is company. You hike. You walk. You stand perfectly still. You can feel yourself breathe. No more waiting to exhale. Not here. The monumental redwoods and fragrant cypress are profound company. Called “The Sleeping Giant” by locals, Mt. Tamalpais lords over you like a sentinel.

Exaltation. Elevation. No matter the circumstances, if you open the door you will always feel better. It never fails. Misery comes when you forget that it’s here.

To be continued…

The Flicker Inside (7)

March 29, 2020


You’ve seen the ankle bracelets before, the hospital wristbands, the white van from the county jail. You’ve signed many court cards. You knew damn well not everyone came willingly. But you’re pitch was for the next time or the time after that.

“Woody Allen, of all people, once said 80 percent of success was just showing up. Well, I wanted to be here with you more than anyplace on earth… I pray you feel the same way. Thank you.”

When the meeting is over, the Chairwoman hugs you, is beaming. “You really delivered. I can’t thank you enough.”

“Not at all,” you say. “It was the least I could do.” Not false modesty. Given all the program has done for you it was an undeniable fact.

Read from the start go to “The Flicker Inside (1)”

Bad stock photo for elusive great feeling…

Not including sex, when was the last time you were so excited about something you couldn’t think of anything else? We all get angry -at politicians, at bosses, at our significant others. But that’s not the excitement I’m talking about. I’m talking about finding thrills in everyday stuff. Is it even possible? Life coaches tell us to live in the moment and embrace serenity. But, dammit, I crave excitement.

Which is why I love writing. When I’m in the zone –whether personal or for a client- nothing compares to it. Turning ideas into sentences and then better sentences is something that genuinely turns me on. My body buzzes. I lose all track of time. A Diet Coke on my left and a cheap cigar to my right, my fingers dancing across the keyboard, I know nothing as satisfying as that and I never will.

Oh, wait, yes I do: pitching. Lots of creative people dread presentations but I’m not one of them. Yes, your audience might not like what you have to say but I never think about that when I’m walking to the podium. I’m too excited. If writing is like the perfect marriage of heart and head than pitching is a one-night stand. I never feel so alive as when I am standing in front of a crowd.

The ad game, or whatever we’re calling it, is still about creating ideas and presenting them, which is why I can’t wait to do it again… and again and again.

What makes other people tick? Seeing their children born? That’s the Hallmark card answer but, honestly, how many of us (men) truly remember it? I was wired, tired and scared, secretly wishing it were 1962 so I could go down the hall and smoke cigarettes. Ladies- I can’t imagine what giving birth is like. Creating life! It’s like being God. Yet, you were pretty miserable doing it. Hence the epidural.

For a lot of us, sports provide unmitigated excitement. Racing downhill on skis. Setting the hook on a monster pike. Catching the perfect spiral for a touchdown. Maybe that’s why sports are so damn popular…because it’s one of the few times and places where civilized men and women can experience excitement. So potent, it even translates to spectators.

In the end, I like writing and pitching. What about you, Gentle Reader? What makes your motor run?