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The red van, the strawberry blonde, my brother, and me.

It was the weather that reminded me. Or the time of year, or the feeling that I’ve been having lately that my future is hidden in my past. At any rate, as I lay on the couch last night, there it was, in the front of my consciousness, clear as if it happened yesterday instead of 30 years ago. My brother and I are standing in front of a gas station in nowhere Utah, next…

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When it comes to religion, breaking up is hard to do.

Most of us are born into our religions. You are born a Jew, a Catholic, a Muslim, a Protestant, and unless you engage in deep soul searching and questioning, that’s likely the affiliation you will retain, with greater or lesser degrees of piety, all of your life. I was not, however. I am the son of a former high Episcopalian altar boy turned atheist, and a generic Protestant. Religion had no great place in my…

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Never give death the middle finger. Ever.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the meandering approach of death as one grows older. In that essay, I mentioned early on how Death is an unwelcome visitor, and that I did not fear him, but only felt his presence as a challenge. Well, the grim reaper apparently took exception to my comment and decided I needed a bitch-slap or two. So, a week after publishing that story, I awoke in the morning, and…

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The Throw

There are dozens of stories told by O’Sensei’s aikido students of being thrown by the master. They mostly follow a pattern: Upon attacking O’Sensei, they would be drawn into a black void, from which they would be hurled out onto the mat, gasping for breath. One of the best descriptions was written by Mitsugi Saotome, who went on to become a famed sensei in his own right: “Still now, I don’t understand receiving ukemi from…

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In the winds between heaven and earth.

There is nothing as lonely, desolate and beautiful as a New England lake in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, at the beginning of fall. The Labor Day motorboat crowd has left, with its mindless rushing from one end to the other, and the skiers are finding the water a bit too cold to their taste. Fishing is past it’s prime. So the lake is absent of gas-fueled artifice and…

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A message for beyond the grave.

Nobody knows exactly what lays beyond death. Atheists would argue that the death of the body is the death of the self. Buddhists cogently propose near-endless rebirth until the energies of attraction (to the material world, to the senses, to the self) are expired. Jews are closer to Atheists in their belief that when it’s over, it’s over. Pagans believe — well, Pagan beliefs can be all over the place, but often it is agreed…

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