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Observer. Thinker. Mindful Human.

What we do not forgive follows us

Mysterious sliding stone at Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park
Mysterious sliding stone at Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park

When I was much younger, I met a wonderful woman, and we decided to get married. We had a nice celebration, and everyone toasted to our lasting happiness. For the next few years, we shared everything — hope and despair, success and failure, joy and sorrow — all the moments that make up a life. We were strong together, and life presented no challenge too large for us to manage.

Over time, however, we began to follow our own paths, making choices that prioritized new and separate interests, until one day, not recognizing each other any longer, we decided to…


The lasting effects of being betrayed by your mind

I was so excited for New York City.

I had been a few times before, and so the standard tourist attractions were not my concern. This time, as a newly blossoming chef, my focus was more singular. In spite of my floundering bank account, I had eight restaurants with a combined 14 Michelin stars in my sights.

It was going to be epic.

The night before my departure, I dreamed of vintage champagne, briny caviar, seared foie gras, braised pork belly, sweet buttery lobster, and silky Bordelaise. Mmmm…

So much for dreams. …


A humorous story of love and tolerance while traveling

Downward view of a large spiral staircase
Downward view of a large spiral staircase

Rachel swears she likes to travel. No matter that she is deathly afraid of flying, does not enjoy trains, is prone to seasickness, and saving the particulars for later, detests my driving. Motorcycles? No way. Buses? Rather not. Subway? Out of the question. Mopeds, skateboards, zeppelins? Nope, nope, nope. Biking is good. Walking is better. Funny thing, though, she rides her bike on the sidewalk and walks on the bike path. This is a personal pet peeve of mine and seems dangerous, but to her, it makes perfect sense. Forget the wide-eyed, terror-stricken pedestrians who unexpectedly find themselves in the…


Capturing the complexities of being human

Close-up of a purple leaf with raindrops on it.
Close-up of a purple leaf with raindrops on it.

There’s something nearly indescribable about the sweet smell of night-blooming jasmine — its intoxicating fragrance, like no perfume could ever replicate.

I think it’s because it comes over you all at once, surprising you with its powerful awakening, every time.

In summer, on an after-dinner stroll about the neighborhood, you’re suddenly enveloped by it. It perks up your senses as you stop to wonder “Oh, what is that?” before remembering how jasmine works its pollination magic at night. Closing your eyes to inhale deeply, you try to take in every flower’s offering.

All this from a single scent.

There’s something…


Crossing the ocean of existence

Cresting wave at sea
Cresting wave at sea

I begin in the depths, where all waves begin, in an entity larger than themselves, a part of something, a part of everything, a part of nothing, apart.

I am drawn by a force beyond grasp or control, unknown yet unmistakably present, a silent, distant cry. It pulls the thread, at first softly, then taut, until I am on my way. I am my way.

As I move, I feel the potential within. Smoothly I rise and fall, always beneath the surface, all the while gaining.

I encounter many as my path is wide. Some run from me, others dive…


Overcoming false tolerance to free your authentic self

Retro branding stamp with the word “authentic”.
Retro branding stamp with the word “authentic”.

It can be argued that intolerance is at the core of nearly all conflict. From religious wars and ethnic cleansing to political stalemates and social unrest to failed relationships and family grievances, intolerance breeds divisiveness and hostility.

Tolerance, on the other hand, is a pathway to resolution and peace.

But what does it mean to be truly tolerant? What happens when we misrepresent our inner feelings? How does our self-image affect our capacity for honest communication? How can authenticity free us from denial and enable true connection?

Like so many of life’s grand questions, the answers lie within ourselves.

Intolerance, Tolerance, and “False Tolerance”

Most…


Using literary bait ‘n switch to earn more, lose weight, improve your sex life, and be happier than your ex’s new girlfriend

Red illustration of a mouse click on yellow background, surrounded by bags of money
Red illustration of a mouse click on yellow background, surrounded by bags of money

Let’s face it. You can’t make money on Medium. Wait a minute, that’s not what I meant. You can’t make money on Medium if no one reads your articles. Yeah, that’s it.

And the one surefire way to attract and retain a massive audience who will read everything you publish until the very end is by using clickbait titles.

Readers LOVE clickbait titles. Duh.

Because there’s nothing like the feeling of being fooled. We revel at the thought of buying into an investment only to find out it’s a Ponzi scheme. And who doesn’t love the joy of an Amazon…


Trust me. You need it right now.

Photo of the author, wearing a cardboard crown, taken with a desktop computer camera, using a filter to distort the image
Photo of the author, wearing a cardboard crown, taken with a desktop computer camera, using a filter to distort the image

I consider myself an aspiring writer of literary nature. Not a blogger. Not a content generator. Not a frivolous poster of crap.

I also consider myself a decent photographer of artistic nature. Not selfies. Not cats being cats. Not a frivolous poster of sunsets with crooked horizons.

Given the nightmare of COVID-19 and the amazing decline of the US political system, however, I’m having a hard time focusing on my literary and artistic endeavors. The remedy for getting out of one’s head and clearing the detritus?

Laughter.

Many years ago, undoubtedly after too many glasses of wine, I discovered my…


How to go undefeated in life

Tennis player raising his arms in victory.
Tennis player raising his arms in victory.

When I was younger, baseball was my first love, and because it conflicted with tennis season, I never played high school or college tennis. It wasn’t until after I entered the workforce that I began to play competitive tennis, and it quickly became one of my favorite activities.

I was just starting out in my adult life so my weekdays were dedicated to figuring out how to excel in my newly-launched career, but my weekends were spent on the tennis court, trying to improve my game. Surprisingly — or perhaps not — there was substantial overlap.

Like every tennis newbie…


What are we thinking? Oh, right. We’re not.

Full-color satellite image of the Earth.
Full-color satellite image of the Earth.

Standing on the moon, I see the battle rage below.
Standing on the moon, I see the soldiers come and go.
~ Jerry Garcia & Robert Hunter

When I look at the world today, I see chaos, greed, misdirection, hostility, senselessness, fear, anguish, repression, depression, aggression, conflict, irresponsibility, avoidance, denial, selfishness … BIG problems.

I see military machines balancing on a thin wire of humanity, economies artificially propped up to favor the top echelons while the masses struggle below, and nations jostling, diplomatically or otherwise, for an upper-hand. …

Michael Whalen

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