Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mountain climbing

Alex Buisse captures the adventure of climbing and free-flying in ways you will never forget. Take a look at his portfolio.
If there is a mountain there is a mountaintop. Unless we know there is a mountain, and we know the plains, we will never know there are peaks and valleys. Without this knowledge the oceans are invisible and beyond the depth of our perception.

We can never know there is a destination unless we truly know there is a beginning, and a journey, and there is a home. This perception applies everywhere – meals are not real to us unless our perception is satisfied of being full, in some way, satisfied.

My Dad used to say, early in any meal (except breakfast) – what’s for dessert? My mother would wince, predicting, and sometimes throw back to him, What did you have in mind? With a hint of not just sarcasm but just a hint of pepper and spice, easily detectable and yet easy to pass over if you knew her and knew him, as he easily passed over it with some charm or other and she served the dessert she’d already planned, in her own time.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Roots, bones, and seeds

Roots, bones and seeds -
What wild seeds are sown
In the minds of men, giants of the earth
Who don’t know their provenance, their origins
 Except that they are created.

Much more time and we learned that we began as eggs,
as heat-seeking microscopic missiles calling to one other and joining forces.
The shadows stretch with them,
Reaching long into forests and sometimes deep into
Canyons, ravines, sometimes the depths of oceans,
Until their gnarled fingers and feet begin to slow down,
To notice the smooth swirls of tree bark worn by centuries
Of wind, all manner of weather and time; until the roar of Unknown
ocean deep also opens into the golden illumination
Of long spears of light reaching through time from the sun
And showing particles dancing like raindrops in air, like sparklers
At night, like dust in the wind when it carries dust more gently
But visibly, moving air tangibly to make new layers, new forms
Until it is built upon or wiped away, clean.

Wake up today and hear the power of their roar,
The seeds come to bloom and letting out sound
Along with flower. Each culture grows and shows its
Provenance, its struggle, its power and bloom in old and new ways,
A voice perhaps like a tower of sound, a boom of ocean change,
A pound of thunder sounding across time and eternity of challenge
And cultural pearls forming. The precision of sound
and word has always been a kind of music.
Pearls begin by being trapped into being by growing.
Grit grows into beauty, if the environment supports it
and we know the difference.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

All Good Things

I do not mean to be shallowly optimistic or habitually cynical. What I mean to be is informed, committed, intelligent, compassionate, open-minded, engaged, and interested in who I am, what I am doing, where we are as a culture, as a world, as human beings. There is so much happening on large-scale stages in our world today that demands and needs our attention, our understanding, our resolving.  I understand, now, that we do not have to know the infinitely changing physical details of each dramatic situation to understand what path we want to take and what energy we choose to contribute, just as we do not have to know each chemical within our bodies and the name of each muscle and nerve that makes us to understand the basis of who we are and how to support our healthy structure and energy of life. We do have to want to know, and begin to seek the knowledge that teaches us to know more about ourselves and what it means to support a good life, which supports a collective “good life” as we define it. We must be open to expanding our definitions of life, too, or we will not be able to go with the changes that offer the opportunities that life reveals to us every day, every moment, from “near” and “far.” What I contribute to the world is my life as I live it. Love more, love better, be love and think always of what it means to have the gift of being alive. We have to know what we want to create before we can become conscious of our power to create.  This is a beginning of wisdom. Choose wisely ... .Laugh lots. Bake cake, eat cake, toast all good things that come.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


My mind is prone to wander into mazes that may be playful and fun but not as productive perhaps as … so many other things and perhaps another look at habits of mind and remembrance. There isn’t anything so scary there anymore, in that dark path, where twilight once hovered and slipped into a sometimes beautiful blanket of dark and moon. Moon-shadows that light the ground like outstretched limbs rest in full length, awaiting full light. Heat returns as sun rises and all nuance of light and dark changes. It is the thrill of a page turning, lunar light over water. Absolutely captivating.

The thrill of a page-turning is as simply beautiful as a leaf turning, a leaf floating, borne by any wisp of wind or even silence, to the ground waiting below, where it will begin to dissolve, slowly, into pieces, fragments, becoming almost fossil-like if we know how to look. The map and story of that leaf remains, in memory – ours and the Earth’s and the tree’s – as we honor the simple turning of seasons.

The delight of glittering sunlight is like a glimmer of a smile on a face which lights with love, remembrance, memory of laughter, and the spark of what will come next, an outstretched hand, a thought as a bridge to new tomorrows, and the absolute joy of come-what-may, the adventures we create and are.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

"Excellent Sheep" and Spiritual Growth (More on What's Love Got to Do With It)

“Instead of being intervals of freedom, they are breeding grounds for advancement.” What are we trying to advance and why?

David Brooks writes about William Deresiewicz’s vision of what it means to grow up (I’m paraphrasing – he says “what it takes to move from adolescence to adulthood”).  What it means to be educated in an environment that encourages a mind to discover what it is that is “worth wanting.” He writes about how in Deresiewicz's view elite universities have been absorbed into the “commercial ethos.” Stephen Pinker, the much read and visible psychologist, suggests that the university’s job is cognitive. He says “… I have no idea how to get my students to build a self or become a soul.” Students should acquire specific, practical knowledge. Brooks articulates what we have before us, as these thinkers suggest: three distinct purposes for a university: the commercial purpose (starting a career); cognitive purpose (acquiring information and learning how to think); and the moral purpose, as Deresiewicz offers in his new book, Excellent Sheep:  The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life. Brooks articulates perfectly, I think, that “people in authority no longer feel compelled to define how they think moral, emotional and spiritual growth happens.”  Either they don’t think it’s their place or they don’t think they know.

I had a college education in the early 80s, after a boarding school education in West Africa. My first “classroom experiences” began in a converted carport where my mother taught us, her four children, and other children who dropped in at different times. She incorporated what was called a correspondence system, which homeschoolers will recognize. I was born the third of triplets and we had an older brother, so we had a good beginning for a classroom. We graduated from high school in Nigeria and returned to the US for college. It took me a long while to sift and absorb and understand and balance that college experience (as I’ve written about in my “memoir), but all in all the incubation and environment was a wonderful one for me to begin to balance all of the energies of life I’d lived so far and was introducing in this next big new phase of life adventure that college is and was. There were wonderful professors who were passionate about their mission to teach young minds as they embraced the big world of both people and ideas. There was enough of a range of students to always offer a new horizon to watch, engage, and learn from as one’s mind opened to all that was offered. I am eternally grateful for that incubation, especially the professors whose intense mission helped create a great and warm environment for learning and advancing the life of the mind along with the Life of the individual and the individual as part of a collective.

I also went to graduate school and, after a little meandering path, received a Master’s degree which was satisfying to me at the time.  With some struggle, I had accomplished a goal. Five or six years later, I was introduced to a woman whose career was as an R.N. and also began teaching what she called Spiritual Philosophy.  Though I had been born the child of missionaries and was deeply incubated in religious teachings and culture, I discovered I did not have a definition of the soul that was satisfying to me as a mind. I thought I knew what “the soul” was, yet after listening to teaching about the soul for a few years and being asked to define the soul, I discovered that my answer did not really make sense to me – it was simply something I had heard and been taught at some point, but it did not have any true meaning that was valuable to me as a mind, to continue expanding and exploring and make this definition useful in my everyday evolution.

We have this dual concept in our world about what is “practical” and what is “spiritual,” I think, which harks back to  our ancient beliefs about the material and the spiritual; the lofty and the low; the body and the spirit. What Spiritual Philosophy has given me, as I continue to study “the meaning of life,” is a definition of the soul (as the mind and emotions), what it means to be designed as an evolving spirit consciousness, and the structure of what we have given ourselves to follow as physical human beings who are made to “live a good life” – the Ethical Values which are our spiritual heritage and embedded as part of our physical design.

Just as with any system of beliefs, we can pick and choose what we want to learn and we may also think we already “know it all.” We may think we are open to learning but mightily resist being taught. Children and parents the world over may smile at this enlightening thought, as I do. I have learned that we are “attracted to” (curious about) what we want and need to learn, even if we are not consciously aware of why we need to learn it.  We are energy and energy must move and change. (We have learned that.) It is our soul (as our mind and emotions) that, as energy, is attracted to and by energy and attracts other energy.  If we think about “energy” only as natural gas, oil, or calories burned, we are denying our mind and emotions (as our soul) the satisfaction of coming to know itself in the thrill of its adventure of life and growth.

Once we are motivated to want to learn something new, we have truly begun to expand our mind. We commit ourselves to learning, to growing as a mind. Our body knows how to grow itself – as a mind, we have to learn to support our optimum physical growth. We also have to learn to support our mind and our emotions in their optimum growth. These realms of knowledge support our spiritual growth, just as our spiritual growth supports a healthy mind and a healthy body and a happy life. We don’t have to know how to “build a soul,” as Pinker writes – we do need to know that we are a soul, of dual mind and emotions, and that we are designed to expand our consciousness. Acquiring useful knowledge is a main mission of the soul; but how do we define “useful knowledge”?  The intellect is not alone in the Universe of our internal mass consciousness. The mind and the heart are not designed to act independently, just as we humans are not designed to live on an island alone, as our own universe. Until we begin to think about what is our human design, in more than just physical ways (how can we fix the heart; why do we have high cholesterol, etc.), we will gather a lot of data, but not necessarily be truly educated (civilized).  We will not have to spend lots of money to study, again, why drinking more pure water is good for our overall health, beginning with our cells; why neurotoxins defeat our design of being healthy and energized as; why being kind and compassionate to ourselves and each other is a lesson we are all invited to learn to better our human and planetary health. And so on.

We learn only when we want to learn. There is always more to learn.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Another Scrimshaw, Surfer, Art Form Connection

Another Scrimshaw, Surfer, Art Form Connection

I love this! Finding "real-world forms" as we go.

Peter Spacek -PS: "I know. It’s weird. As I started to cut up old boards, I began to see real-world shapes. A book in a rail cross-section, a smile in a fin curve, a perfect barrel in a delaminating glass job. The shapes themselves kind of told me what to etch on them.
RG: And unlike many surf artists, you actually infuse humor into most of your pieces.
PS: Well that’s always been my style, part of my “artistic persona.” Or to put it another way, I’m a sucker for a gag…so I saw no reason to stop." Surfer mag - check it out!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Just Listen.

Rather than suggesting logic while defying sense (as I read in a review of Laurie Anderson's Kronos Quartet collaborative Landfall), I like the suggesting sense while seeming to defy logic.

So much of what we sense becomes entangled in a maze of ... something that we try to identify in bits and pieces ... that we forget that we are the creators of our own maze. Hurricane Sandy made landfall and ruined so much. Laurie Anderson writes of seeing floating keyboards and such, and looking at the good side, that is, never having to sort through any of this stuff ever again. There is something restorative about such cleansing. About having to let go.

Instead of "convert or kill," what about cleanse?

Laugh. Paddle. Move. Dance, or something like it.

What if we had to register Poetic Licenses?

Climb a ladder, swim through a doorway, unearth an ancient cave, scale a tall building (if only for a selfie), identify a mountain, remember geography and the way topography teaches us to know our own journey, if we're paying attention.

Just listen.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Rhythm Kings

Thomas Willis-

Coined the term “neurology”-
Worked hard, diligently
I presume to solve some riddles
Of the relationship of mind
(thought) and body (motion, action, leading
To behavior).

Thomas Willis sometimes beat his patients over the head with
Sticks. Talk about finding a


Security and Insecurity

"As the inner self expands, the energy frequency expands and man moves forward in his understanding of self and his relationship to the Universe. All things are duplicated within all things. There is nothing new within the Universe. Indeed, the understanding of man is already there, it is only being suppressed by man because he is unaware of its existence. The memory has become overgrown with other material issues of the physical reality.

The advancement of all scientific technology in your physical world has occurred because of the soul memory that is being utilized by some souls now on Earth. All of man has soul memory. He only has to acknowledge that it is available to him, open the gates that fence it in, and he will then have total access to the inner mind."

Bridges of Consciousness, by Kathy Oddenino, p. 137.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Nadine Gordimer

Nadine Gordimer."It was not her country’s problems that set her to writing, she said. “On the contrary,” she wrote in an essay, “it was learning to write that sent me falling, falling through the surface of the South African way of life.”

Falling through the surface of our way of life is a wonderful description, I think, of what can happen when we take on a tool of expression which opens us to not only ever-expanding exploration and expression, but also to new awareness of the nature and energy of life itself. Nadine Gordimer is one of those giants with class, whose mark in our literary and social-consciousness will forever ripple into our collective consciousness. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

By Design

What got me going
is simply the life-
the everyday machinations and little miracles of
breath and step and word
and deed.
Touch and Go.

As "caregiver" goes - what a word
that is, like an Indian word, a naming
by deed and so much more-
"deer hunter", "tracker,"
"dog catcher"-
a defining of roles.

We the people define
for ourselves the divine
in simple physical terms
because energy is a hard
concept to accept as real
as bread, truck, beer, ice,
broken bone,
ice cream,

Challenging for a mind more than
a body, already engaged
committed, living
loving motion-
ingesting, air water, breathing, changing.

I love you life,
the body says in a
million infinite ways.
Let's go. Do.
I'll show you as you
show me.
Trust the inhale
to exhale-
We're made to.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Food, Sex, Sleep and Knowledge

I am nearly finished reading Donna Tartt's Pulitzer-winning, fan-loving The Goldfinch. Reading this 700+-page novel along with (in  manuscript) Kathy Oddenino's upcoming novel, also with notes of Hippocrates, MFK Fisher, and various other pieces online - reminds me how much our mind can take in, and how much our mind wants to be fed, especially when we can appreciate a healthy appetite. A friend recently remarked that, while men are said to think about sex maybe once a minute, what she thinks about constantly is food! What research shows, and which makes sense to me, is that food, sex, and sleep (our survival basics) are what we humans think about most often. We know how we respond to cravings, generally speaking, as individuals and as people - humans. Do we know why? Isn't this one way we define "knowing what we want?" Self-discovery invites us to understand the levels of our consciousness, of ourselves, more deeply, more intimately, and the rewards are infinite. If we accept that it is our mind that creates our reality as we experience "reality," then it follows that what we feed our mind is also a basic survival need. Good food, good sleep, and good sex make us happy! As I continue to learn and appreciate, thinking and speaking are our highest, or most developed senses. Without thinking, none of the food, sex, or sleep would have the status they have in our world. Would they? Knowledge is both appreciated and often misunderstood, it seems to me. Knowledge is a gift to us, to our minds, to our evolving consciousness. This is why teachers, beginning with our parents, are to be honored, respected, and valued throughout their/our lives and beyond. Memories remain after those we love die. As I think of my parents and the snatches of memory that flash into my mind every day, I appreciate ever more what memory means to us, and how sharing our lives is a gift that keeps on giving, not just "in the physical."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Scrimshaw - my new book!












      Scrimshaw by M E Martin

Scrimshaw by M E Martin



Monday, March 03, 2014



A typeface based on copperplate style,
The maps of the heart show our provenance,
The journeys we’ve made, what we bring,
What we have gained.
If not scrimshaw
Scroll work
Carving bone or ivory
Harvesting whalers’
Handiwork, byproduct of
What our DNA brings forward
As if carved into our
Choices as we make them,
Once we open our eyes
As we take that one step at a time.

Don’t wait.

If scrolls are not read
When they’re ready they become relics,
Turned to stone and bone fragments
To be pieced together by
of another time,
Whiling away a present to seek
Seeds of a story they have


from my new book

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Just Thinking

If the energy of our mind as we share our thoughts, ideas, etc., is simply to persuade others to share our view, then we are already seeing ourselves as “different.” We can be set up and set off by the ingrained pattern of “mutual hostility” or competition (hidden or overt belief).  This is a way that our male mind has seen itself throughout time, in many lives, as our ego has formed, developed, and strengthened as we have created beliefs to define or support our perception of life (the meaning of life).  This is one image that shows our belief in what survival means, rather than evolution. This is a dual image and as we learn and grow as a consciousness we enlighten ourselves with the loving image of who we are  – of us as male and female, rather than simply male or female, in the positive light of our creation as evolving consciousness. We come to know ourselves not as the Lone Warrior battling all forces which may obstruct us from obtaining our Holy Grail, but as the Pilgrim seeking to know himself as one within the world but sent and created of the Spirit – to be in AND of the world in its highest expression as evolving consciousness.

The “lone adventurer” ready to set off into the big, wide world, the Great Unknown that is full of danger, adventure, possibility. It is the same image of when we choose to enter another physical life – with all of the chemical poetry in motion as energy beings, reviewing, sharing, communicating in all sensory ways, then choosing the portal of entry, with consent, and “taking the plunge,” with full excitement as a soul to Begin Again – to learn, grow, to Be. This is the same image parents must have, and children must have, as babies are conceived, born, and nurtured until the day a child sets off for the first day of school – the new adventure, the precipice of a new life in a big world of other children, peers, beyond what we have experienced before. First day of school, first moment of awakening to a new spark of knowing, of knowledge, the first tying of a shoe, the first taste of… whatever awakens that love within us, the first moment of pedaling the tricycle faster and faster into a speed where we feel the independence of movement in a new way; jumping off of a high dive, diving into a pool for the first time, having a first haircut, a first kiss, singing a first song, or hearing one we instantly love, that sings to our cells in a way not like the others. All are part of this amazing Universal language of love within us and which we share through our interaction as physical beings on this Earth with its own expressions that we share and honor as we learn to love.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Stoner - I like Gatsby AND this "Anti-Gatsby"

John Williams
University of Denver photograph
I just finished John Williams’ 1965 novel, Stoner, a novel John McGahern describes in his introduction as “this classic novel of university life, and the life of the heart and the mind.” It’s a powerhouse of a book – I imagine even for those who have less affection and affinity for “university life” or the pull toward both the flashy polish of Gatsby and the austere precision of Stoner than I have.  Williams’ precise use of words to convey so much so simply is a true gift and a rare one.  He captures the truth of personalities and the energy of their expression in wonderful and thoughtful ways, and by doing so offers an endless palate of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to think about, appreciate, explore, and to learn from.  It is very sad in its seemingly relentless sense of isolation, yet reading Stoner is like an excursion into a certain kind of art gallery – old masters, the musty sense of reverence for “pure knowledge,” the life of the mind and of learning, and a persistent quiet reverie as the reader absorbs all that is happening in this intense microcosm which expands into a whole world and reverberates beyond. Love, lust, and learning all make an appearance, each given life in particular ways.  The “meaning of life,” of a particular life and lives, is laid bare for inquiring minds and hearts to know themselves. To read this is an honor – is to honor Williams for his creation, and to honor the gift of life itself, which we all share.  Without honor and the Values of the Spirit which begin with love and are expressed with a quiet but firm and growing dignity (which comes from learning and experience), we are left with sadness and the pettiness of confusion and the false power that the ego wields.  There is much poetic beauty in Williams’ language of “love becoming,” even as he describes the way the softness of snow, the whiteness of the sky suffused with snow, the permeating silence which invites the mind into a state beyond the nature it has known and experienced before.

The saddest thing to me may be what Tim Kreider wrote in his October 2013 New Yorker review - that wisdom is "perennially out of style." The popularity of the novel in Europe makes sense to me. Older sensibilities learn that loss does not necessarily lead to "failure."

“In his extreme youth Stoner had thought of love as an absolute state of being to which, if one were lucky, one might find access; in his maturity he had decided it was the heaven of a false religion, toward which one ought to gaze with an amused disbelief, a gently familiar contempt, and an embarrassed nostalgia. Now in his middle age he began to know that it was neither a state of grace nor an illusion; he saw it as a human act of becoming, a condition that was invented and modified moment by moment and day by day, by the will and the intelligence and the heart.” (195)
Something I wrote a few nights ago fit into the influence of his book more than I realized, until I read the last few pages.

                Spiralling into me.
The book between worlds
The pages
Walking the pages
As if struck by chords
Harmony falling
Sounding and falling
We are holding on
Thin wisps of light
Gleaming, powerful
Beaming like strings
                Into morning
A new day, hope
And words illuminated.