And this moment is my path

Monday, January 2, 2017

Looking back while moving forward

It's been a tough year. For many reasons, and I won't go into them. It's just been a tough one.

Anyway, now we're here.

One resolution for 2017--regain my health. The stress of 2016 left me overweight and overwhelmed. So, now I commit to getting back to my healthy weight, which requires losing 22 pounds.

Join me in committing to a better, healthier, fitter 2017. I think we all will need to be our best in these coming days!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

January 28, 1986

It took Russell a few minutes before he got to the part about Jimmy hitting the guy in the head with a brick and killing him.

We had only known each other for a few weeks, but had seemingly grown close enough that my apartment was first on the list for hiding from the law.

Hiding from the truth.

Russell and Jimmy shared a shower while I opened beers.

Wrapped in towels they told their tale.

Bored, borrowing (without permission) a friend's car to go into the city to dance.

In the cool, winter, Atlanta rain the scuffle escalated. The guy punched Russell. Jimmy stepped in. He was punched and fell to the ground. He reached out to support himself so that he could rise up.

His hand brushed the brick.

One slug into the guy's head. Lots of blood.


The drugs were still safe in the car.

They drove through the rain to my apartment.

We sat quietly until the sun rose.

The Challenger exploded a few hours later bringing the death toll to eight.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Say "Hi"

I believe in supernatural forces and beings. Gods, goddesses, spirits...

Unexpected friendships are supernatural forces.

Today, my friend Mark asked me to write something about all the political chaos in the world.

Two weeks ago, another friend, also named Mark, discussed with me our love, friendship, and serendipitous camaraderie. During that conversation I asked him to name two or three things he is great at. Caught off guard, we then had an important conversation about the question, and that I had asked it. He asked the same to me. I hope that those of you who are reading this ask yourselves and others.

One thing I'm good at is being a lover. Not in the simplistic term, but in the broad, humanitarian way. I love people deeply.

Politics are complex.
This is what I suggest we do.

Reach out to those you love. Grasp their hands. Build a support net that brings us close together. I'm not kidding. Tonight or tomorrow be sure to let others know that you care. You care about them, about our daily walks in life, about our harmony as we move forward in life. No walls, no discrimination, no violence. Just respect.

Drive with kindness. Buy someone a Klondike bar. Just be kind.

It starts with those things.

I met Mark, the first guy in this story, because he was going through a difficult time. I just sent a note on FB. And now we are soul mates. 
I met the other guy, also named Mark, because we were shaving next to one another at the gym, and I said, "Hey,"I'm Ric."

That's how profound friendships start. Say, "Hi."

That's how easy compassion is. But it is spectacular. And terrifying. And wonderful.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Allowing Change

One of the most important and useful skills one can gain in life is the ability to change (grow) in harmony with one's life situations. Allow dissonance to guide us to resolution. That is how the most beautiful music is written. Tension is built through extended harmonic modulations that create interest, but eventually resolve.

When being confronted with change, it can be helpful to remember that we're all teachers. When we encounter difficulties--uninvited change--we think, "how would I support my best friend, my brother, if they encountered this?" We then role model.

Today, when you face difficulty, ask yourself, "How would I support my best friend in this situation? Then be your own best friend.

Friday, July 8, 2016


Just over two years ago, John and I stumbled upon a chalet for sale in Canadian Lakes, Michigan. We were familiar with the area, as a colleague has a home near there and had hosted us for parties.

Canadian Lakes is a set of interlocking lakes sprinkled with chalets and other lake homes. Some homes are right on the water and others are a few minutes' walk away. Some are elegant and remarkably spacious and others more quaint. The one we found is in the middle. 

Marilyn, the owner had, along with her husband, Royal, built and enjoyed their chalet for many summers.  After they last packed up for the season--leaving everything as though they would come back the next summer--Royal died. Marilyn, now a widow decided to sell the chalet, fully furnished. We bought it for next to nothing, furnished and all.

We then entered a period of time where we looked forward to long weekends on Canadian Lakes, followed by the work week in Grand Rapids where we maintained our very large home. Over time, the balance between pool, lawn, and house in GR and deck, grill, and lake in Canadian Lakes became near impossible.

We simply had too much stuff.

So we sold the house in Grand Rapids. Well, it's pending.

We will downsize our possessions (look for an estate sale very soon) and reconcile our belongings so that we have what we need to live comfortably on Canadian Lakes. In two to three years, we will buy a simple condo in Grand Rapids.

We are pre-retiring.

We will continue to work (likely forever), but focus more on relationships and experiences and less on maintenance of stuff.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Good Art is Moving

ArtPrize 2014 has not officially begun and already there are protests about some installations. Silohuettes of armed gunpersons are atop the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA). Some are calling them "snipers." They look the same to me as the Secret Service Officers who patrolled our few tall buildings when then Senator Obama campaigned here...or when back in the 1980s while I was living in Macon, GA, officers held guns atop buildings when Ronald Reagan spoke. In both cases, I was very aware of them and respected their authority.

I did not know that they were Secret Service agents. They did not show ID. I just assumed and believed the media.

But this post is not about the media, nor the Secret Service. It's about the purpose of art.

The purpose of art is to make us uncomfortable. To re-think, reconsider, or feel differently.

Art provokes.

Art is music, literature, visual media, experiential, staged and spontaneous.

Art happens to me when:

  • I was 16 and heard the cadenza in the first movement of the Prokofiev 2nd Piano Concerto and worried that the pianist might die from passion and effort (he didn't).
  • I hear an overture of a Broadway musical performed exquisitely and think of the passion of the composer, because becoming a composer of musical theatre is nearly suicidal, at least in terms of making a living.
  • I hear Kurt Elling sing the words of Michigan poet, Theodore Roethke.
  • I see a person help another person, especially if that offering of hand is spontaneous.
  • My heart opens to love of a friend.
  • My heart breaks...because of loss or sudden, unexpected change.
  • I walk through the forest and see how many shades of green there are in nature.
  • I have a rough paddle down a seemingly calm river and friends and strangers offer advice and helping hands. And an elderly gentleman picks me up while hitchhiking back to my truck.
  • I arrange things nicely in our pop-up camper.
  • When I watch the news and see stories of how humanity is sacrificed for power.
  • I become so angry with the world that I weep.
  • I regain my faith in the present.
I hope that as a community, we can reconsider art. That it's powerful and can make us grow through being startled, uncomfortable, tearful, joyful, and gleeful.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A poem for Michael

Long Point's apparitional
this warm spring morning,
the strand a blur of sandy light,

and the square white
of the lighthouse-separated from us
by the bay's ultramarine

as if it were nowhere
we could ever go-gleams
like a tower's ghost, hazing

into the rinsed blue of March,
our last outpost in the huge
indetermination of sea.

It seems cheerful enough,
in the strengthening sunlight,
fixed point accompanying our walk

along the shore. Sometimes I think
it's the where-we-will be,
only not yet, like some visible outcropping

of the afterlife. In the dark
its deeper invitations emerge:
green witness at night's end,

flickering margin of horizon,
marker of safety and limit.
but limitless, the way it calls us,

and where it seems to want us
to come, And so I invite it
into the poem, to speak,

and the lighthouse says:
Here is the world you asked for,
gorgeous and opportune,

here is nine o'clock, harbor-wide,
and a glinting code: promise and warning.
The morning's the size of heaven.

What will you do with it? 
Mark Doty