20 years into this century
and the West burns,

the land inflamed, unceasing.

It burns in the forests
and the fields,
it burns in the streets,
with fires small and great
all stretching out for the same air,
all feasting upon the same oxygen.

But empires thus
are built of bone
and of sweat,

and within the elements
of things closest to our hearts,
from the private
to the pestilent,
we wait
and we watch
with dilated eyes
the assault and decay.

To breathe! Only to breathe…

The body has a finite amount of blood.
The mind can only take so much.

They will not stop, you see.
They will never


This is the desolation.

Oh rise now the midnight daughter,
oh rise now the twilight son;
keep your blades sharp,
your torches dry,
your eyes up.

Under the roaming haze
under a descending sun;
late now, the domain of summer,
and the long dark

There is but one bastion,
one shield,
one bulwark,
one fire in the night:

hold fast thy memory,
thy faith,
thy hope
and thy love.

You know
in your deep-heart
what is right.

All else is anathema,
all else is so much dust,
for there are no spells
with which to resurrect the dead.

In Memoriam: Patrick H Lee


Weathered Sign at the Mouth of the River Cave


If you’re reading this,
then please,
and rest awhile.

Before entering,
be aware that

in spite of
you’re actually
a very good individual,

regardless of
you are forgiven
and are loved by numerous people,

and that even
will not defeat you;
though it will try.

If anyone or anything tries to
you, or
for you,
recall the following:
– you are forged from stars
– you are made from oceans
– you are composed from music.

If you ever get lost,
refer to your map;
in time you will attain

So sit,
and rest awhile-
ye have come already so far
and into the dark beyond
ye must now go.

Listen- can you hear it calling?

Remember now, Traveler-
blade sharp,
torch dry,
eyes up.

artist credit requested

The Problem is Not Your Demons

– It’s How You’re Handling Them

Rather than scroll past this for fear of it ruining your Friday mood, I urge you to take it as a moment of focus. So let’s talk about demons, and about how an absolute tragedy can give us a little bit of light. Are you ready to meet the real enemy? I guarantee it’s not who you think it is.

Three days after fashion icon Kate Spade’s suicide, and a mere day after the CDC’s report revealing a 30% increase in U.S. suicide rates over the last 17 years, beloved, brilliant, charming, curmudgeonly chef extraordinaire Anthony Bourdain takes his own life.

Not that you need reminding, but it’s been nearly 4 years since Robin Williams did the same.

Perhaps the most commonly-asked question when people such as these decide to end their lives, is “why?” We, from the outside, see genius. We see talent. We see creativity, heart, passion, wisdom, curiosity, success… we see a lot of things. What we don’t see is the internal process.

Too often we assume that people who create beautiful things are filled only with beautiful things. I assure you this is not always the case.

And to be clear, when I say “create”, I’m not referring to the stereotype of the tortured artist. In fact, I’m not referring to artists at all. Raising children, selling houses, teaching students, building a business- these are all creative acts in a sense, because to do them well requires concentrated effort, passion, and sacrifice. For all acts that require purpose of energy are a form of creation. This is one of the realities of nature that connects all people.

In fact, it’s often those parts of us- the poison, the darkness, the demons -that drive us to create in the first place. We create because too often it’s the only way to hold up a candle against the night. In doing so, many find a sense of peace- or at least of stability -in the sense that they’ve come to grips with existence, with the past, with the future. To be compassionate, not only towards others, but towards themselves. To be mindful of, and grateful for, the time we have right now.

But for many more, the struggle to find that balance becomes a focus of pressure itself. And so the brilliant singer extinguishes her own flame before her song is ever truly sung, simply because she views her failure to conquer her demons as an inexcusable flaw, one rendering her unworthy not only of success, but of salvation. And the mastermind chef and teacher cuts short his own life, believing that the joy he’s brought to millions isn’t justification enough for his existence.

This is why you cannot fight your demons. There’s no possible way I can over-stress this truth enough.

Listen. I know you’ve been told over and over again that you must “conquer” your fears, and “fight” your demons, and “win” over yourself. But there’s a sinister, hidden flaw nested in this advice that will lead- and has lead -many into the realm of self-defeat. To imply that you can conquer the darkness within, that you can single-handedly slay your own demons, is to imply that you are somehow broken or tainted, and that with enough force of will, you will stand victorious. That you will reach a state of “completion”.

This can be, as today’s news shows, a deadly fallacy to believe. For as with physical life, our consciousness, our memory, our internal processes are in constant states of change and evolution. Having anxiety, depression, fear, doubt, blame, and guilt trying to crush your success at every step is, like it or not, an intrinsic part of being human. Everything from modern society to modern food to modern technology is both a product of and problem for the human mind. Our minds arise from each of our unique collections of cells, our neurology, and without literally lobotomizing yourself or using some kind of magic to physically remove the problem areas, you’re more or less stuck with yourself. There is no “completed” version of You.

But hear me out- that’s not a bad thing. That’s not a bad thing in any way, no matter what you’ve done or been through. You are not a failure because you’ve failed to construct an idealized version of yourself, a Jesus or a Buddha who lives without flaw and without fear.

In fact, because of the way our brains map themselves as we progress through life, everything that makes you “You” is tied together. You are a complex and beautiful network of knowledge and memory and dreams and flaws. So without the problem areas, you wouldn’t be yourself. In other words, take away the demons, take away your soul.

So the real question, the real battle, then becomes “How do we deal with our demons?” How do we mitigate- and integrate -the things that strive to kill our spirit?

After observing many situations like Bourdain’s, including some tragedies of those I personally knew, and including some horrific things I’ve experienced, I’ve come to a radical understanding about the nature of our demons.

Have them over for dinner. Sit down, break bread, speak with them. Barter and trade with them. Strike deals with, and in doing so, subjugate them. But nicely. They have to decide to. You have to decide to. They are part of you, just as you are part of them. They are you. Yes, they may have arisen from incidents, or been given to you by others, but now they’re yours. You have to decide how best to befriend them and make them work for you.

Every piece of light and dark inside you has a purpose, but it’s up to you to define that purpose. When you accept that you have control over this process, and that it’s an act of compassion and of negotiation, you’re free to succeed as you see fit because you’ve thrown away the youthful notion that an intrinsic, and perhaps unwanted, part of you can be magically cut out and tossed aside.

And now, the real enemy: your ego. Disregard the assumption that “ego” means power, desire, or confidence. Your ego is a vestige of primal competition, of battle, of survival, of “choosing sides”. Your ego wants to fight your demons, because it’s the screaming part of your personality that stands up and shouts “I’M ME, AND I WILL FIGHT ANYTHING THAT THREATENS ME!” Sometimes, the ego is a necessary part of survival- especially after any form of trauma or failure. But these things beget fear, and fear feeds your ego. And when your ego becomes trained to feed on fear, your outer strength becomes the killer of your true, inner self. Your demons then run rampant, because the truth is that Ego has a loud voice but makes a poor warrior.

And still, your ego will fight you every step of the way on the journey to yourself, your success, and your freedom.

Along the way, it will throw every lie in the book at you- you’re a failure if you don’t “conquer yourself”, you’re “not worthy” because you’ve committed sins or have been defiled, you’re “not successful” because you haven’t attained someone else’s version of success, you “can’t do enough” or “can’t do anything right”; and perhaps the most vile, insidious, and downright sad lie you could ever let yourself believe: you don’t need anyone.

Whether for attainment of a goal or a desire to become a better person, not one single person on this planet has done so alone. You are not God, you are not a god; hell, you’re not even a demigod. You’re human, and we arose and succeeded through connection, support, negotiation, and community. We are, in fact, “wired for help”.

Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book, once wrote:

“…for the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.”

To accept the lie from someone else, or from yourself, that your journey in life is a solitary battle of defiance against the world… well, that’ll kill you. You may not die in the literal sense. You may not take your own life. But a part of you- the part of light that shines from within, blinding not only your demons but those of others around you -will surely die. And so you become weaker, and the pack becomes weaker.

All because you believed that you’re broken,
that being broken is a bad thing,
and that you’re a failure for not fixing yourself.

So here’s the point, my beautiful people. Sit at the table with your demons, and talk it out. But be wary of this dinner at first. Demons have notoriously bad table manners. Some adjustment may be required on both your parts.

Take heart, though, and take note: this will be an ongoing conversation for the rest of your life. There will never be a point of completion. I believe you have the courage, and the compassion for yourself and those you love, to do so. The strength and elegance of character you desire, and the peace and success you want, are right now within your grasp.

Needing help from time to time does not make you weak; in fact, asking for help requires a much more graceful form of strength than does a brutish rebuking of the world, or a solitary march to war.

Talk to your demons. Question them. Learn from them. Own them. Ignore anyone who says you can kill them.

Give love. Accept love. Do both with wild abandon, and keep your eyes on the horizon. But keep distance, as well, from anyone who tells you to fire on all incoming ships.

Above all, remember this: even the best and brightest of us have defeated ourselves. As the winds and storms of life fill your sails, and you carve the waves of your own destiny…

…don’t forget who the real enemy is. Make that enemy your friend, and gather your crew.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
– ancient proverb

Audacity Beyond 2017: A Love Letter to the Human Race

Hope. Change. Love. Transformation. Luck. Finally.

Did these words bounce around in your mind as the clock rolled over to the new year?

I don’t blame you. Not one bit.

Our new culture is saturated with keys, triggers, signs; easy nuggets of hope that in turn saturate our subconscious, leaving us salivating for beautiful fruits that may never bear.

It’s ok, folks. I’m telling you, right here, right now, it’s ok.

I have walked with the hopeful, with the dreamers, with the expectant mothers and purposed fathers, with the wish-makers and wayfinders. I have also walked with the hopeless, with the downtrodden, the abused, the reckless and disillusioned, the cast-off chaff of this new world who’ve all but given up their faith in humanity.

Still, I say: it’s ok.

Are you calling me out on my BS yet? Please do. 

Bring me your broken dreams. Bring me your deaths. Bring me your fear. Bring me your burdens of blackness, your wreckage that writhes and grins at you in the night.

Do you truly believe, in your deep-heart, that an arbitrary number has anything to do with the timing of the universe, with the random dance of molecules or economies?

I don’t think you do. But it’s nice to believe, isn’t it?

That’s my point. Right there. I don’t care what you believe in. Just believe. The fact the you WANT to believe tells me your heart isn’t dead.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the symbolism. “New year, new you.” Fair enough. But I need you to do me a favor.

Accept that a new year, in and of itself, won’t change a damn thing.

Trust me. Knock it off. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment.

Set goals, yes. Retain hope in the future, yes. But you’ve just been handed an empty box.

Much like a new relationship, a new year comes with an empty box. What you get out is what you put in. It doesn’t come with anything. And this empty space is what’s important. 

We place value on the structure, but the space is what we use.

So what will you fill yours with?

I can’t stress how vitally important it is to define this concept. “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”? When did we become so lost in our hearts? It’s not wrong to hope, nor to have a back-up plan, but I’ll challenge you right here and now to “hope for what you want, but prepare for what you need”.

You hate this already. I can tell. You don’t need death. You don’t need disease. You don’t need loss. You don’t need breakups, financial hardship, hatred, betrayal, anxiety.

What you need is the hope of the undying.

Allow me to set you up for the pain of the coming year right now.


Some of you, this year, will lose something. Your car will get stolen. You’ll get divorced. Someone will die. You’ll experience betrayal. You’ll get diagnosed with something. You won’t get the job.

Can hardly wait, right?

Are any of you thinking of what could go RIGHT, though?

Hear me now.

In fact, how could we appreciate all that is Good without the absence of it? How could we grow in mind, in body, in heart, in spirit, without being broken on the altar of life? Without being hammered on its anvil? Would you wish for an easy life, or for the strength to endure a difficult one?

Better still, would you wish to walk through the flames and STILL COME OUT shining your light to the world, to hold out your scarred hand to a beaten soul and say, “come with me, for there is still Life up ahead”?

Would you wish, instead of being broken and clinging to your brokenness, of staring at your brokenness with resentment, to allow the light within yourself to shine through the cracks?

Only by being broken can we transform. In being broken, in being dealt a bad hand, we are given a choice; perhaps the most important choice in our lives.

You can choose to say “I didn’t deserve to be broken. I won’t trust life any more. I will exact revenge where I can, so I can reclaim some of what was stolen from me”…

…or you can choose to say, “I didn’t want to be broken, but I’m grateful that I did. Life has threshed my wheat from my chaff, has hammered my impurities from my metal, and if I alone can be broken again and again and AGAIN and walk away laughing, to love and hope and offer an outstretched hand, then I am glad.”

Peace is not found in what you get. It’s found in what you do with what you’re given.

Right here, right now, witness that I renounce all claims to what I think I deserve. I am not special. But nor am I a coward for losing faith, for wanting to give up. I am given a calling and a priceless gift. If I get what I desire, I will be grateful. If I do not, I will also be grateful. 

I will be lifted up on wings, and dashed on the rocks. My soul will dance at the coming dawn, and I will weep in my pain as I am broken again. I am being hammered on the anvil. I am losing myself, and I am becoming myself.

I will use my tears to wash the dirt from another’s face.

The universe will deal me the absolute worst hand, and I’ll say “Here, take my money. It’s time to play chess instead.”

I was so sure blackjack was the answer. But perhaps chess is the better path.

I renounce and refute my human inclination to be hurt by loss, to curl inwards, away from the world. To die from the inside out.

If my house is destroyed, I will wonder what my next house will look like.

Because if I don’t, if I hold on to my innate ability as a human for pattern recognition, and I apply THAT to what happens to me… can you guess what comes next?

Let me tell you. Listen.

I will be the victim of my own self-fulfilling prophecy. 

“See? It didn’t happen. I knew it wouldn’t.”

Bull. Shit.

I’m not advocating a relentless, creepy happiness. I’m not saying “be positive”. Nothing so trite and meaningless. In fact, I’d encourage you to stay as far as possible from sources that promote blind positivity. Or blind negativity, for that matter.

There is a middle path. And you need to walk it.

Good and Bad are cyclical. Sometimes, one wins out more than the other. And there is NOTHING, no matter what, that can take away your hope and the love hidden in your deep-heart unless you allow it to.

There’s always a choice.

We are such beautiful and horrendous creatures. Pitiful and incredible, we sacrifice out of love and wreak atrocities on each other in the same day.

Living for such a brief speck of cosmic time, staring out at the universe, we wonder. Why? If you find an answer that works for you, and you can be truly satisfied in your soul, then I commend you. If you don’t, then let me tell you again: it’s ok.

You need merely ask the question. That, in and of itself, is the mystery and the answer all in one.

The fact that you can ask is beautiful, even without a clear answer. The closure you seek may never come. But the closure you need comes from forging a new path, and to keep asking regardless.

Animals are blameless and pure. The angels some believe in are that also.

So here we stand. Brilliant and flawed, halfway between the ape and the angel, staring up at the night sky in hope. Ready to love and ready to fight in the same breath.

So as you watch the stars in this new year, and for the rest of your life, you might say “I wish for my shooting star, but it never comes. Maybe it never will.”

And you are right.

But this is not cause for despair.

Your strength lies in the ability to unceasingly watch the night sky, time after time after time, marveling at its beauty, drowning in the mystery and audacity of hope so that you might learn to breathe again.

And when someone else comes along, saddened and beaten, wishing for a star that may never come, you can say:

“Look! My God, just look at the stars! Can you believe we get to watch them one more night?”

This, then, is my only resolution I offer you: become a beacon of hope to yourself, and to others. 

Unfurl your banners of Light and watch the armies of death break themselves on your shields.


“Some day, you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

— C.S. Lewis

Rising Sign

I do not think
any longer should wonder
be entertained
in this waking dream
as we apart
seek that bridge that spans aeons
and even stellar cradles.

I have figured it
in the alchemy of
quantum entanglement,
on the blackboard of the heart,
inside the mandala of time.

for water seeks to give.
Waves throw themselves
on the shore of the land.
Rain falls to the skin of the earth,
liquid seeking the embrace
of the deep
and sanctuary of the bedrock;
and roots to drink it,
feeding the hungry pulse of life.

Water gives; so what is water
without a heart-receiver
but only a universal solvent?

Into water one may throw
infinite strikes;
ever will it resume its shape.
Onto water one may project
mountains of rage,
and it will only reflect
what you already know.

fire is simpler still,
and only seeks a hearth
with the fuel of an endless heartbeat.

while the free winds
strike their vastness upon the sky,
and paint what they will,
a vessel of water and flame
would be only placed at the altar
before the ancient tree
whose roots grow deep
into the sod and stone…

…combusting growth into dreams
and gifts eternal and warmth in winter;

and silently,
offering a song of praise
for the birth
of earth on earth.

a–b, or, post hoc ergo propter hoc

Two ordinary humans, set on a sidewalk, will
inevitably stand, and walk simply
of their own accord
to the next relevant business.

The same humans, when
approaching one to the other, falter softly,
precariously, as if on a ridge or trip-wire,
trying to shift about in a strange tap
of strangers bound by a curved ribbon.

And if curved, then on one
continuous loop,
not unlike the quantifiable outcomes
of a Mobius strip.

Causality would seem to be
the perpetual function
more of the effect
than the cause.