Thoughts: Stay in touch….

When was the last time you actually touched the person to whom you said, “Hey, stay in touch!”

I think it was Bob Hope who said, “People who throw kisses are hopelessly lazy.”

Here’s a little two minute essay, telling the story:

Choose one….

For some reason, I remember Wayne Gretzky saying, “You miss one hundred precent of the shots you never take.”

Don’t get caught up in the choices. It’s what you do, not what you choose, that matters.

Choose one, and shoot! (said the Great One.) Photo by Ian Byington, in Cook Street Village, in Victoria, BC.
Choose one, and shoot! (said the Great One.) Photo by Ian Byington, in Cook Street Village, in Victoria, BC.

Whales: Twenty years after “Free Willy,” what have we learned, and what have we missed…

It was twenty years ago, today....(actually, July 16th....)
It was twenty years ago, today….(actually, July 16th….)

Do you remember where you were, the first time you saw Free Willy? For me, it was in a movie theatre in Eugene, OR, USA, with a packed house that screamed & cheered & clapped when Willy gets away at the end (see the poster at right, for spoiler). It was a football game where the home team won, a fairy tale that wasn’t Grimm, it was a tale of justice, unpeeled. It was awesome.

One of the byproduct events of the movie was the eventual real-life release of the whale who played Willy, a captive killer whale named Keiko. Was this a good idea? DId it work out? Did humans learn anything from the experience about orcas, or about themselves?

I got to shake David Kirby’s hand last summer when he was passing through Friday Harbor (WA) on a promotional tour for his new book, Death at SeaWorld. I found him thoughtful, articulate, and an impassioned warrior against marine mammal captivity. Reading Death at SeaWorld made want to read the article linked below.

He shares his take on what we could have learned, what we missed, and perhaps what lies ahead in this penetrating essay. Let me know what you think.

Here’s the link to David Kirby’s remarks about Keiko on the 20th anniversary of Free Willy.

And…. here’s the trailer for the movie, back then.

Music: Make me an instrument of your peace….

Francesco, in action....
Francesco, in action….

This little prayer (known to monks, worldwide) is attributed by many to St. Francis, and is notable in that it doesn’t “ask for something;” instead it simply asks that we be allowed to channel peace to the people around us.

I’ve always thought it was a pretty robust expression of that little bit in the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Thy will be done.”

Which means we get out of the way & let it flow…and I love the job Sarah McLachlan does with her musical version of it, below.

Let it wash over you….

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


Poetry: Far better things…..

Let the tears wash your sorrows into the new day beyond....
Let the tears wash your sorrows into the new day beyond….

Part of the path to purification is walking (or running, if you’re fast that way!) through the fires that burn away the stuff…that keeps us from pure love. The fires are tough, usually painful, sometimes unbearably so – but there’s always another day. There’s always another sunrise. There’s always later…which is a great place to look back from.

Here’s one of my favourite expressions of this, from Rumi:

Sorrow prepares you for joy.
It violently sweeps everything out of your house,
so that new joy can find space to enter.
It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart,
so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place.
It pulls up the rotten roots,
so that new roots hidden beneath
have room to grow.
Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart,
far better things will take their place…


Writings: Remember to celebrate (maybe this will help)

Get it write the first time....
Get it write the first time….

I know you think monks just sit around thinking up jokes & stories to make their point, which is hard because they don’t get out into the world enough (some monks, you know).

But it’s really not like that – here’s one of my faves:


A young monk arrives at the monastery. He is assigned to helping the other monks in copying the old canons and laws of the church by hand. He notices, however, that all of the monks are copying from copies, not from the original manuscript.

So, the new monk goes to the head abbot to question this, pointing out that if someone made even a small error in the first copy, it would never be picked up. In fact, that error would be continued in all of the subsequent copies.

The head monk says, “We have been copying from the copies for centuries, but you make a good point, my son.” So, he goes down into the dark caves underneath the monastery where the original manuscripts are held as archives in a locked vault that hasn’t been opened for hundreds of years.

Hours go by and nobody sees the old abbot. So, the young monk gets worried and goes down to look for him. He sees him banging his head against the wall and wailing, “We missed the “R”, we missed the “R”. His forehead is all bloody and bruised and he is crying uncontrollably.

The young monk asks the old abbot, “What’s wrong, father?” With a choking voice, the old abbot replies, “The word was CELEBRATE!”

Look ahead….


There are a number of uplifting & inspiring people on the Internet, and one of them is Gigi Young.

Check out her YouTube essays & website, and you’ll get the idea.

She posted this about a week ago, and it’s been echoing in my head ever since….I kept catching myself wanting to understand the past before I felt I could move ahead with the task at hand.

This kind of thing helps.


Looking ahead....
Looking ahead….

As the harvest moon rises….

The moon rose tonight through lowhanging clouds over Ross Bay below Victoria, up the night & the seas reflecting her by Ian Byington.
The moon rose tonight through lowhanging clouds over Ross Bay below Victoria, BC….lighting up the night & the seas reflecting her beams….photo by Ian Byington.

Beautiful moon tonight, hey?

Here’s a song to go with it: Play here! (It’s me singing “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” for you….)

Happy Harvest Moon to you!

Starpeople: Why I’m checking on them (and maybe, why they check on me & us)


When I was a kid, the big excitement in the early 1960s in the States was space. We were going to space & to the moon & the stars, and we were making the rockets to get there. We were also making the people to go there, and they were stronger & smarter &  tougher than the average bear, because they had to be. They we going into space!

The Mercury 7 were the early heroes of all this, and I knew them & their stories just like I knew the stats on my baseball cars & the details of all those Hardy Boys books we read…and I loved them.

One of those astronauts, Gordon Cooper, became one of the leading proponents of his belief, based on things he had personally seen, that the Earth was being visited by folks from other planets. You can read a quick version here, and here’s a short video of Col. Cooper addressing this:

Other astronauts have reported seeing things as well, with perhaps the most prominent & articulate being Dr. Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon (Apollo 14). In this interview with James Fox, he reviews his thoughts & experiences regarding what’s there, and the possible reasons people want to deny it.

Over the last few years, people have asked me what I think, and I usually respond that I’m curious, like everyone else. It’s as simple as this: I’ve personally met over two dozen people who have described their encounters with ETs (extraterrestrials), both visual & actual contact, and they’re reliable witnesses, far as I can tell.

That’s the sort of thing I would like to share, here.

So, being curious, I keep asking questions. Hope you do, too.