Saturday, January 30, 2010


Got a good chunk of a first draft of a Palm Sunday processional written today; stopped at about the 2/3 mark, but the last third should be the easiest part.

I'm noticing a new kind of "inertia," in a very Newtonian sense. You remember the First Law of Motion, of course, which says that objects in motion tend to remain at motion, and objects at rest remain at rest, unless some external force acts upon them to change their motion (or rest). Moving my legs has been getting very difficult; I don't know exactly what's up, but my experience of this experience is that they're increasing their inertia. It's not that they have "trouble" moving, it's as though they just don't like moving.

I hope it's just the weather, which has been brutally cold. Penetrating, and brutally cold. Right now, I'm sitting with my legs under a blanket, and wearing long underwear, and still my legs are cold. I should probably just lie in a hot bath, but... inertia. I don't even want to get up and move somewhere warm.

In lighter news, I just read an interesting blog posting from another MSer, on the "Cognitive Reserve Hypothesis." In a nutshell, she posits that keeping yourself mentally active provides a reserve, a buffer, against MS-imposed cognitive impairment, and she suggests ways to keep one's mind active and engaged on a constant, daily basis.

I've always said that working with my students is my best therapy; it seems that's true in more ways than I had realized. And here I thought it was just good for me because we have so much fun and they smile so much.

As is said so often in Hollywood, "It works on so many levels."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Odd side effects

Leaden legs, today. Especially the more badly impaired right leg; it feels like a balloon overfilled with room-temperature (or colder) liquid metal. And not a cool metal, like mercury. Definitely something heavy, thick, and boring. Lead. Definitely lead.

Had one of the most civil discussions I've ever had today, with someone who's pretty much diametrically opposite me on the political spectrum. We listened to each other. We respected each other as people. We spoke as though we were worthwhile people, even if we wouldn't choose the same approaches to the nation's problems.

And when speaking to each other, and listening to each other, we realized that we share a lot of common values. And common intentions.

Calmness. Listening. Blessing my brother whether I agreed with him or not.

I never would have done this before the diagnosis. Well, maybe a little... I'd like to think so, at any rate. But nothing like this afternoon.

MS does have weird side effects. Pity that I had to get MS to have them "afflict" me.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fire tending

A good treatment today; a block removed (one that I get not so frequently, I'm not as familiar with how this one feels), the Fire strengthened.

Bit of an oddly tough day. At times a physiologically bumpy ride... everyone with MS knows those moments that come by every once and a while, that you only feel good describing by obliquely saying "Well, that was ... odd. Unfortunate, really. But, mercifully... now it's over. Good thing, too." Moments that prove that when everything is said and done, God is merciful, but has a really twisted sense of humor.

Then again, laughter is medicine, too. Even if the jokes are really, really, strange.

I'm pretty pooped right now, if I'm lucky the treatment'll really kick in tomorrow and things will be better. I'm going to lunch, brainstorm, and prop-shop with one of my colleagues whom I really enjoy being with and really enjoy being creative with. I'm taking him to lunch at one of the best restaurants in Little Tokyo, lunch is inexpensive but fantastic.

Going on adventures whose entire purpose is igniting creative infernos is really, really fun. I'm really looking forward to this.

Been having an interesting (and interestingly allegorical) adventure with one of my students. She's shared some of her writing with me, and there's something about it that is very, very special. Being the age she is, she's got (as we all do) many things to learn, and I'm trying to figure out ways to help her discover improvements without endangering her marvelous creativity. My current tack is to talk about new pathways to explore, rather than whether the ones she's going down are limited. To create an awareness of yet-unseen possibilities.

If I could only catalyze that awareness within my own consciousness...

Physician, heal thyself.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Manifestation; terror

A day of both calmness and turbulence.

First, a tremendous change; I'm writing music again. Quickly. Easily. Not of the same scope (for huge chorus and orchestra) as I have in the past, but the notes are flowing. I'm having ideas--and better yet, ideas that I like.

This hasn't happened for months. Years, perhaps. I hope this is a sign that the Great Creative Drought is coming to an end.

I drove my wife to one of our favorite tea shops this morning. Completely without difficulty.

I made breakfast, for the first time in months.

Things were going so well, I decided to drive out to Claremont, to the university library I can still access thanks to their alumni library-card policy. To do some research for a piece for the high school, and for some other further-down-the-line projects.

I got about six minutes into my drive -- no problems, freeway busy but not bad -- and I suddenly felt... terror. It wasn't a "panic attack," I was still breathing normally, I was in complete control of myself and the vehicle, but for some reason, I was just soaking in terror.

Now, admittedly, this is a bit of a drive, 30 miles, one way. I can't count how many times I've done that drive, I went there every day for four years of DMA study. I do a 25-mile drive every week to see my acupuncturist, on less friendly freeways, and I never feel terror like that. I used to do twice that distance through worse traffic without even thinking about it, I've even done my share of solo four and eight hour drives. But somehow, today, it became a Big Deal. I spent the entire trip chanting various mantras just to soothe myself. I arrived at the library completely spent, and had not nearly the amount of fun that I had hoped to (although I did accomplish the the primary goals I had set for myself).

The ride back home was about 80% of the difficulty as the ride out. Bad, but not as bad. Stopped at the Chinese herbalist on the way home (who told me to be sure to eat pork or beef, and that good nutrition supports the herbs, neither can succeed alone but both work together--and also told me to sit in a jacuzzi, which my neurologist/acupuncturist also has told me to do, and when both of them agree, you know you gotta do it). From there went to the tea shop to pick up a drink for my wife, and at the tea shop I met a couple of magicians doing some really zippy finger-flinging card moves for each other--struck up a conversation with them, they were very nice, and that five-minute chat really lifted my spirits. The drive home was a piece of cake.

I'm not really sure what the terror was about... Definitely, I'm going to think about that for a while.... But more importantly, I gotta keep this "music jag" going. Being in a comfortable creative space is always good for me, and right now, it's really, really good for me.

And nice music gets written.

Everybody wins!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Answers and questions (and answers)

The weather, today, was simply brutal. Now, compared to what I lived through in Connecticut when I was going to school there in the 80's, back when we'd be grateful when it had warmed up enough to snow, it's nothing. But back then, I didn't have MS-provided cold sensitivity. Something about the wet, and the cold, and the cold, and the wet, was just excruciating. I told one of my students who was working with me after school on some project, that if I fall on the ground and look like I'm convulsing, I'm not--I'm just shivering. (Came a little too close to doing that, a time or two this afternoon.)

Before I received The Diagnosis, I came within a whisker's distance of being offered a job in Connecticut. I didn't get it, and at the time I knew it was the right thing to have happen; but OH boy, given what I went through today with rain and temperatures just in the forties, not getting that job was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me.

One of the things my doctor told me yesterday was that the Fire doesn't "just go out." Something puts it out. So, part of my job this week is to pay attention to what is extinguishing my Fire. Taking a brief TV break, I wandered from Good Eats (one of my favorite non-animated shows) to the Daily Show, which has in the past been very much a favorite... but now, I think it actually makes me unhappy, because I hear in great detail about the political nonsense that's going on. And I thought I felt a little something... going out, for lack of a better word.

In the past, I've tried to do "news fasts" before, and I've always backslid, but I think now more than ever it's really, really important not to look at anything political. At all. Not even "sort of. Not at all. That's not going to be the whole thing that's wrong, but it's definitely a component... and I have more than enough of my own problems (and my own idiocy) without borrowing other people's problems, or watching and taking affect from other people's idiocy.

And the question that keeps arising... what makes my heart joyful? What makes me happy? One of my fellow MS bloggers was fortunate in finding her answer, but I definitely haven't found mine yet.

For those of you who remember Babylon 5, it was the Shadows' question: What do you want?

Seems like such a simple question... Now, I know I said I haven't found it yet, and I was just about to say, "I don't have an answer;" but as I was typing that very sentence, I realized... I do.

I want to laugh. I want to laugh like I laughed in college. I was surrounded by very smart and very funny people. And we laughed. And we worked our asses off. And we did some pretty amazing things, things that forced our minds to expand in the process of doing them. Creative things. Very creative things. But most of all... we laughed.

That's what I want. I want to be around really smart people, pushing ourselves intellectually and creatively, engaging in work to create really wonderful, high quality things (whatever those things might be)... and I want to laugh.

I've been alone much too long. I've been a missionary in my own way, and done good works, and changed people's lives and wonderful things have come of it. I'm glad I did it, every minute of it. And there's still a lot of my work that needs to be done solitarily; in some ways, I'm at my best when I'm left alone to create. But I think I need to be around my own people, for a change... and also for a change, to work with people not below my level, but at my level. And above my level. People that are wicked smart, generous, kind, and really funny.

Because what do I want? I want to create. To transform myself in the creative process, and to create transformative things. To be around smart, capable, people whose energy is, for lack of a better word, lofty; and with whom I can really communicate, and in so doing catalyze changes in my own thinking. And, most of all... I want to laugh.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Things are better, in subtle and profound ways. I'm actually writing music again, and the end of the creativity drought is a very big improvement. With luck, the music will keep flowing.

As always, treatment day is as much dharma talk as acupuncture session. Learned some tragic things about the IV steroid treatments which are sometimes given to people having MS flareups (oh, I am so glad I haven't needed to face that decision), and also something odd but wonderful--about the way my MS is manifesting: my experience of MS, of ebbs and flows of energy/creativity/life worth and not worth living, but no clear and distinct neurological crash and burns, is most unusual. Not at all the "normal" MS pattern, according to my acupuncturist/neurologist. Right now, at least, I don't really get "exacerbations" (whatever the hell they are).

As Corrie Ten Boom's sister is quoted as saying, "Thank God, even for fleas." In the concentration camps, the fleas were awful, but they kept the guards away--so, in their own way, the fleas were a blessing.

This is the real struggle. I'm not yet truly, and truthfully, thankful for my MS. I don't think I can "go" there, but perhaps one day I'll find myself there.

Some other interesting things, on the "dharma talk" level... those need to cook awhile before they're sharable. Perhaps we'll talk about those in a few days, we'll see.

In the meantime... I'm trying to keep both my heart and head open to music. It has been going well for the past several days straight, I actually finished not one but two pieces, one expected by the performers, one a surprise (both to me and to the people I hope will perform it).

Let's see how long we can keep this streak going.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I have a very, very long list of "things that need doing," and a three-day weekend to do them in.

And I spent several hours just lying in my bed this morning, under the blanket, simply because it was warm and cozy.

Then, while browsing about on my iPhone, nice and cozy under the covers, I came upon an article from, about the crafting space of Paul Overton. It was nice enough, some clever ideas about hanging tools from chicken wire rather than pegboard... Then, this caught my attention:

"It's [my studio is] like my dojo. I consider it a spiritual practice to keep it organized."

Suddenly, I was able to get out of bed. And not just "able" to get up. I all but leapt out of bed. Immediately.

We "neurologicals" know that our nervous system is adapting constantly. Which means it's being trained constantly. By everything that happens. Every minute of every day.

My studio--my compositional dojo--is a sty. In many ways, so is my life, right now.

Our "practice" is what we practice in our living of every minute of every day. Our "training" is what we experience, every minute of every day, and what we learn from interacting with every minute of every day, no matter with what or with whom. Sure, we can specialize our training/practice by working on specific skills (shooting the bow, playing the organ, meditating) but life? We practice life constantly, simply by living it. And our "spiritual practice?" Certainly that includes meditation, movement, self-observation... but is it not also just as much the "moving meditation" of moving through life? The living of our lives?

Time for me to clean my dojo. Time for me to improve my practice. Time for me to fully participate in, rather than endure, my training.

What will you practice today? What will you train for today?

Friday, January 15, 2010


The last few days were simply wonderful. I felt quite nice; my life, the world was full of possibilities.

Today, all that wonderful full-of-life joy and ebullience... it's gone. I'm not depressed, exactly (at least I don't think so) but I feel ... crushed. Like a can crumpled by air pressure because the air inside it has been just sucked out.

I'd love to blame it on something concrete and, of course, external. Maybe... environmental? It was, by LA standards, oppressively cold and damp today. Gonna be that way for a few days, getting worse next week. The cold has really slowed me down. I'm pretty much condemned to be at best 50% comfortable, at this point... my core runs hot, my legs run cold, so when it's cold outside, my core is comfortable but my legs are absolutely miserable. Earlier this year in the summer, it was 100 degrees outside, my core was really suffering but my legs were so happy. From their point of view, it was finally warm enough. How convenient, to be simultaneously heat- and cold-sensitive.

This week's issue of Carnival of MS Bloggers had a nice mix of poetry and annoyance. Part of the "acceptance" of MS that I'm still struggling with is going to have to deal with how, sometimes... scratch that, make that a LOT... it sucks. It really sucks. And before I begin to go anywhere on the "acceptance" journey, I need first to admit that it sucks.

Well, let's see how well it works...

This MS thing? It just frakking SUCKS. I'vc had it with the stupid pointless inconveniences, the diminution of my life because it is stripping me of things that I love doing, it is completely changing what I always thought of as "me" and yes, I knew that age would do that eventually but dammit, this is too soon. It makes me miserable, I don't give a s**t about the "blessings" it may or may not have brought me because it's completely farkeling up my life, I don't want it, and it just frakking SUCKS.


That's the first time I've ever said anything like that.

And I don't think that even scratches the surface.

I'm not sure I know how to explore this territory.

Which probably means... I should.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


A little tiring walking with intention today, especially given that the day was cold and wet, but very enjoyable, trying to stay present in the air and the light, which were delightfully different from the usual Californian dry and brown.

Not being on much of a pharmaceutical regimen (I take one, maybe two, pills a day, I do no injections), I don't have a lot of ingrained "take your meds" habits. Or practice. So, this afternoon, I got to the usual 1:30 time-to-pack-it-in energy low, and I didn't have any matcha with me, and I didn't feel like slogging to Starbucks to spend $3 on something that I should have made for myself at a fraction of the cost, but I was feeling pretty good, so I say to myself, "Oh, I'll make it."

Nope. That bravura lasted until, oh, 'bout 1:43. 13 minutes of confidence, thereabouts. Big mistake. I hope that today's crash doesn't do me in until next week's energy treatments. But we'll see. I was able to finish a handbell arrangement this evening, and I'm still feeling pretty good about it/life/everything, so perhaps I didn't completely hose myself by forgetting a teaspoon of green tea powder.

In the meantime, I'm off to the next room to pack up some tea for tomorrow. No--my medication for tomorrow. Time for another new habit, it seems.

Live and (with luck) learn.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

So far, so good

First day of consciousness changing, signs point to "a very good idea." The small change of walking with intention, and maintaining awareness of the air and the light (both physical and metaphysical air and light) made today significantly different.

Good acupuncturing today. Very powerful. And again, very interesting conversation... doctor tells me, and I agree, that I need to embrace and nurture my Heart (that's the Heart official, and my spiritual heart, not my cardiac system). I said that if I only knew what to pull off the shelf (as it were) that would make my heart happy, I'd get it. He said, "You can't do that. You won't find it outside yourself. It has to come from within."

Another new direction to look. One I should have been looking in all along.

An experiment

It struck me this morning that I'm living in, as we would say in the Science of Mind community, a consciousness of depletedness. Whenever I walk, I walk slowly, gingerly; I describe my walking as "it isn't so good."

Now, simply deciding to have better balance isn't going to POOF! give me better balance or POOF! restore the missing strength to my legs.

But I can walk unsteadily with no energy, or I can walk unsteadily with intention and consciousness--and more, as the saying goes in the Science of Mind community, consciousness of abundance.

So that's going to be the experiment: change the way I walk. Even if I can't walk far. Or well. At least I can do it with a joyful mind and with presence and intention.

And I'm sharing it with you, as an additional "goad" for myself to actually do it.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The leak persists

Would have been a frustrating weekend, had I the gumption to get frustrated.

Had a very intense session with my qi gong practitioner, who usually does me a great deal of good. Previous sessions have been marvelously productive; I tell him my legs are cold, he pokes me in a couple of places, waves his hands over me, and walks out of the room. Twenty seconds later, my legs warm up. At least, that's how it used to go. He spent a great deal of time working on me, I could tell that something had happened--somehow, everything felt softer, more open to me and to itself. He told me that my Fire energy was very low (something my acupuncturist often comments on), and that usually he's able to fill people up and they do fine, but with me, it just doesn't stick.

He has no idea what's up. His other MS patients, he says he's helped much more quickly, but the fixes he does just don't stay fixed. "Very difficult case," he says. How many times have I heard my herbalist say that? Exactly those same words... "Little by little," they both say.

Well, the Fire's out again. Acupuncturist tomorrow, we'll see how long the good he does me lasts.

The kicker is, if I weren't seeing these people, I probably would be in unspeakably horrible shape. I don't get suicidal--do not be concerned, dear reader, I'd never do that to my wife, to my kids at school--but I've been drifting in and out of "you know, if I just died in my sleep, how bad would that be?" I can't imagine--actually, the scary thing is, I can imagine--what life would be like without the support I'm getting, even if it seems to evaporate way, way too soon.

Something good happened today, though. An experiment: I made myself some matcha, the fine-powdered green tea used at Japanese tea ceremonies and to flavor green tea ice cream, this afternoon at the time when I regularly enter a multi-hour energy nadir. Now, the stuff I used was something I got from a Hong Kong tea importer, it was pretty nasty tasting and way too speed-y, but surprise! It kept me out of the pit of anti-energy that I descend into starting around 1:30 in the afternoon, and I was actually able to take care of some long-overdue business, without any trouble.

I don't think it replenished my Fire energy (not at all, based on how I'm feeling right now), but a little bit of energy, even pharmaceutical energy, was a welcome change. I don't think I'm going to be asking my doctor for a stimulant prescription, because this tea stuff is easier to get, it's got a nice flavor, I can moderate the dosage myself with a minimum of fuss, it's probably better for me than some unpronounceable chemical, and has no nasty side effects. I have to be careful not to overdrug myself, I have enough problems sleeping as it is. But if it can keep me going a little longer in the afternoon, and postpone the inevitable crash just a little while, that is, as Martha Stewart is often quoted as saying, a Good Thing.

But this whole "being constantly unable to manifest creative work" is wearing pretty thin. I'm starting to visit anger and depression, on and off, from time to time. Which, I guess, is progress.

I think.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Kai (perhaps...?)

Kai. "Meeting." In kyudo, the last step before the arrow is released.

Many things have to meet at kai. There's the mechanical alignment of the body, allowing the forces in play between the body and the bow to flow between the body, the bow, the sky, and the ground. There's spiritual alignment, writing about which I'm not going to do because I'd just express it incorrectly, but all I'll say is that every motion is a gesture of connection, of giving, or of both.

My last kyudo lesson, the bow and the arrow showed me the difference between passive and active giving. My teacher told me not to release the arrow as quickly as I had been, but to stay in kai until I had actually come to "meeting," no matter how long it took. But not merely to stand there static, but to keep reaching, to keep offering the bow to the target. And on my last shot, I did that; even with the tension of the string and the bow pushing against me, I kept extending myself along the line of the arrow, stretching, reaching towards the target, trying to give the arrow to the target.

And suddenly, there was a rush of adrenaline--not in me, in the arrow. It came to life, it leapt out of my hands, it flew at the target, with an energy, an excitement, that I had never felt before. The arrow was truly happy. It really wanted to fly.

That was a week or two ago. But this only hit me yesterday: This is one of the missing pieces I've been looking for: active giving. Giving isn't just throwing something over the wall (as we used to say in the business world). It's about simply extending yourself towards the target, because that's what you have to do to really and truly give.

One of my friends in the Mystery School, in a comment to my last post, asked whether magic might be part of the answer I'm looking for. (That's the performance of magic, not hoping that some occult ritual will relieve my suffering.) The most interesting thing about that question was that my immediate reaction was not negation, but silence: the question stopped my thought process. Years ago, I had a thought that maybe magic might enable me to give something back to the MS community, but it had never occurred to me that it might be a path out of darkness. This, I've got to think about some more... It is a very intriguing suggestion...

But the challenge is the same whether it's performing magic or writing music; and I think the immediate challenge to me, here and now, is to start living and sharing the gifts of MS--not preaching, as such, but through active giving, simply extending myself towards the target.

Because there are gifts of MS that are worth sharing, and it would be an even greater gifts if they could be shared--and learned-- without stripping myelin, or whatever else this disease is doing.

And now, back to writing music. Currently, I need to complete a setting of one of the penitential psalms: "Out of the depths I cry to thee, O Lord. Lord: Hear my voice." I'm writing it for high-school students who will be performing it at a local church for a Lenten concert.

And my challenge is to write something that will catalyze their own active giving; not to help them proselytize, but to enable them to extend themselves through their singing to create... dare I say... magic?

Friday, January 8, 2010


Got something accomplished today at work. I think. Probably something in the category of "it needed doing" but not in the categories of "vital," "fun," or "rejuvenating."

Watched a couple of episodes of Dennou Coil with the anime club. They liked it. Energetically, I was already sucked dry by that point, I had to work hard to stay awake.

Got my hair cut--that, at least, I'm happy about, I've been grousing to myself about getting that done for days. Hmm... but I have to admit, it is kinda lame, when you think that "an accomplishment" is having enough energy to drive somewhere to have someone run a buzz-cutter over your head.

Went home. Lay down. Immediately sacked out for four hours. Woke up, had some of my wife's (quite excellent) soup. Typed this blog entry. Not sure what's up for the rest of the evening, but probably not much.

In the context of "you have to make a significant change to your life," and looking at the amount of energy that I clearly don't have as exhibited by today's torpor, things don't look particularly good for Our Hero.

But... there has to be a solution. There is a solution.

Now to find it.

And the first thing I want to add to that last sentence is "If I only had the energy to look."

And that immediate reaction, that "consciousness of deficiency" as they would call it in the Science of Mind church... is the first thing that's got to change.

I guess that means, the first step on the path has just been revealed.

OK then.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Some of my most intense moments of the week are conversations with my doctor during my weekly acupuncture appointment. Not about neurochemistry or the latest fill-in-the-blank or symptoms or prognoses, but about philosophy, about energy, about consciousness.

A recurring topic: My current set of symptoms (from an acupuncture point of view) clearly, screamingly, indicates a need for fundamental change. What needs changing, nobody knows. Certainly I don't. But he and I both agree, something needs changing.

Another recurring topic: I have no "refuge." Certainly I have a home to go to, and at that home a loving wife, a nice comfy chair, a nice warm bed. But I have nothing--no place, no activities, no refuge-- nothing that protects and nurtures me, the doing of which or being in which restores my essence. Some people find refuge in their hobbies. In reading. In their creative work. I enjoy my creative work (when I have the energy to be creative, which I haven't had recently, something that's a symptom of never recharging) but it doesn't restore me. It's work. Fun work, rewarding work, but it's work, and it's not restorative. Kyudo, I enjoy practicing. I find it enlightening. But not restorative. It's work. And the meditative practice I'm supposed to be doing... well, its practitioners all refer to it as "the work," and then in the next breath say "there's a reason it's called 'the work.'" Even the "restorative" yoga I've done is marvelous, and it's physically soothing, but for me, it's not soul-restorative. It's work.

Sure, a lot of these things fall under the rubric of "do the work, and let the work do you." And I do, and I do, and all these things do good things for me, I'm sure. But they don't restore me.

The Tibetan Buddhists (among others) open some of their meditations by chanting "I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the dharma, I take refuge in the sangha"--the meaning of "the Buddha" is obvious, the dharma is the teaching, the sangha is the community of believers, the pilgrims on the same path as you. Make the appropriate substitutions for your own belief system (for example, the Christ, the Gospel, the Church eternal) and you can see how powerful this can be. Personally, I don't find refuge in any person or personification, nice though the Buddha is, I'm sure. I do indeed find at least some refuge in the teaching; but I don't have a community, or even just friends, that I can take refuge in. Today, a singing group from Yale was at the school, and they did some skits between songs, and I felt incredibly at home with their humor, and I laughed like I haven't laughed since I don't remember when. I do have friends I could take refuge in... if I could only get at them. They're not accessible; like me, they're busy. Or even busier. Or even busier, and with children. Mostly, they're out of town--not just out of town, out of state. Way out of state. I'm not quite sure how to address this, except by travel, which I find difficult to do and, what with school and such, difficult (or impossible) to schedule.

The most interesting thing he told me was that there was a study of people who were trying to lose weight and keep it off. Of course there was diet and exercise and the usual stuff, but what turned out to be the thing that made the difference was that one group had simply decided that they were going to change their lives. And expressed their intentions in those terms. The exercise/diet/whatever programs for the groups were identical; the only difference was that one group approached the program with the specific intention to change their lives. His prescription: Yes you need to meditate, yes you should do kyudo and yoga, yes you should do all the things that you know you should do--but do them with the intention to change your life.

And also: just shake things up. Do "things" differently. At least try something. But do things differently. Because, after all: clearly, whatever I'm doing now, needs changing. Immediately.

Just talking about this with you... I'm starting to get a little scared. And I really don't know what to do differently.

But things have got to change.

And as the old saying goes: if not now, when?