Fitting the Pieces in the Puzzle of Life

I remembered some powerful relationship guidance from the Abraham Hicks Relationships Vortex Meditation that really helped me recently. This meditation is a series of divinely inspired statements to help align ourselves with the best vibration to attract good relationships into our lives. It has been 11 years since I first listened to them, and they keep coming up over the years with new layers of lessons and understandings. Two of them have came up for me in the time since writing my last post, and they have really helped me transform the little funk of isolation that has been nagging me.

The first goes something like this: “Do not to try to change to people to please you. Accepting them where they are will bring you ease.” The second suggests: “if you can release all concern for how others feel about you and focus only upon how you feel about them, you will discover who you truly are and what freedom really means.” I’m going to get to those lessons pretty soon, but first I want to talk a little about the picture of the squirrel in my Mom’s bird feeder, which illustrates some of the things I am learning about relationships.

My mom is 80 years old now, and she has been working in her garden for 50 years since she and my dad bought the place from my grandparents in 1972. She loves to watch the bird feeder and sits endlessly waiting for the return of a painted bunting, which I don’t think we’ve actually seen since about 1983. She is in relationship with the squirrels, who are big fans of her bird feeders. Every time they figure out how to get into them, my mom goes out and changes things around to defeat them. This is a kind of dance enjoyed by all sides. I went over to see her the other day, as I often do for iced tea, and we witnessed the most recent evolution of squirrel acrobatics and this fellow’s “first ascent” into the glory hole of the bird feeder.

I don’t really think this is bad news for my mother, who I believe actually enjoys leaving some opportunity for them, just so she can watch them figure it out. We went outside and lowered the back of chaise lounge which squirrel had used for a launch pad. Now there will be more time to sit in the Florida room with a glass of tea watching as the squirrel tries leap from a thin branch or other support. It’s a cycle that repeats itself, each time a little higher. This is the relationship between my mother and the squirrels. The squirrels do not change to please my mom, and she accepts them more or less how they are. They just go about their bird feeder dance. And judging by the fat belly of this particular offender, the deal isn’t working out so bad for him either.

These two lessons have helped me resolve a had kind of a funk that I was feeling around the time of Easter. As is so often the case, the funk we feel shows what is coming up for healing and growth as we make another cycle in the spiral of our lives. A teacher of mine once pointed out to me that we see the same situations in our life come around again and again, and if we pay attention and stay on the path of spiritual evolution, we will be a little higher on the spiral each time we go around. This is the gradual path of spiritual evolution that is the central purpose of our life here.

This mechanism works when we apply our learning and experience to the situations that continually arise. Every time we go through a challenge, we can learn more tools and skills that help us the next time. We can develop vigilance so we see our reactions before they take us over, we can develop humility so our ego’s do not carry us away, we can develop acceptance so we do not fall into the trap of self pity, we can reach for gratitude so we can look for the good in things, and of course, we can learn love. When we learn to look upon people and situations with love, then we can stay in our own vibration and not be consumed by external events and the reactions of other people.

I had been suffering from feelings of isolation, which had manifested in the sorrowful lament of “nobody wants to listen to me” which also means, “others do not value me.” This is an easy trap for me to fall into. I talked through it with a couple of my close relationships. Indeed, I was trained as a lawyer and as a negotiator in business. If I wrote a letter to an opposing attorney demanding the production of some evidence, they would never say, “you know the way you asked for those documents really made me feel dismissed, I’ll give them to you, but can you be a little nicer about it?” Nobody ever said “I understand that you are going with a competitor, but to tell me that in an email instead of in person felt cold.” I was deeply trained to focus on the matter at hand and to speak frankly about it. I was always trained to focus on the subject matter, not on the way it was delivered.

But relationships are so much more complex that business transactions! In relationships, the subject at hand is actually the interpersonal dynamics and the topic is the context in which they are played out. For example, a topic might be “where to order take out for dinner with friends” and the dynamic might be a power struggle over who gets their way. If someone is feeling ignored or abused, they will fight about where to order dinner. This deeper way of understanding communication is difficult for my masculine brain. I always tend think it’s about the pros and cons of sushi versus Indian cuisine.

It’s easy for me to tell myself a story that because I’m that way, that others just don’t like me very much, so I may as well not try. That’s the negative polarity. But that is a path that leads to nowhere. It is a path of self isolation and a joyless existence. It is far more interesting and fun to have a life of nuance and complex interpersonal relationships, and I am determined to continue learning. I think there are probably a lot of seven year old girls who are more advanced in this area than I am, and so for me, little bits of effort can produce big improvements. It’s kind of a converse way of thinking, but there is a certain joy in recognizing our weaknesses and working there, because it is there where we can find the greatest improvements.

My wife, Stephanie, and I went to Austin over the last weekend to celebrate the wedding of a dear friend who we have not seen since early 2020. We stayed in a cool AirBnb out the Hill Country with four other couples and spent the weekend together. I had never met our friend’s new husband, nor had I ever met two other men who were in close relationships with two of the other women there. So of the eight other people in the group, I knew only one of the men.

The trip was pretty short. We arrived Friday evening and left Sunday morning. Saturday we spent most of the day outside and then we had planned a festive wedding celebration Saturday night. By the time Saturday night arrived, I had met everyone, but not really made a connection. There had been too many outdoor activities, and not enough time yet. My wife was not feeling very well at the beginning of the evening, and so she had retired to our room to rest. Everyone else was down in the kitchen and on the porch, and I was feeling isolated and a little bit negative. I sat out on the porch by myself for a while and went into prayer and tried to connect to the force that was around me and inside me and look into it for lessons, and I got a good one.

I saw that my isolation was self imposed. I had a difficult experience in prior relationships where I was often subjected to harsh attacks and criticisms for friendships I developed outside the relationship. This dovetailed with an easy habit to assume that people don’t like me very much. I had internalized these reaction and agreed with them, and put myself into isolation. I myself felt resentment that I was not allowed to have friends, when my wife has never placed any such restriction upon me.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. One of the secrets to the relationship I enjoy with my wife is that we live in a tiny box of sacred intimacy that we share only with each other. And since that tiny box is so strong and secure, we are both free to enjoy our lives and have friends. My wife was feeling a little under the weather, but this did not mean I had to sit by myself. I resented the feeling of having to sit by myself, but it was only myself who had imposed this limitation. I was in a prison I myself had built, and I held the key in my own hand.

I saw another tendency that I have, which is to try to stretch my existing relationships to fill all the needs I have in the puzzle of my life. Some of these are rather personal, but I can give a broad overview. I love to go sailing, and this requires a few people. The boat is 50 feet long and in the best winds, it’s nice to have four people on board who know what they are doing. Stephanie, however, does not like to go on the boat unless it’s relatively calm and sunny. For her a good boat day is a five to ten knot wind, a short sail, a nice lunch and swim at anchor, and an easy sail downwind back home.

If I try to stretch Stephanie into sailing in heavier weather, I’m not going to do anything good for either of us. Instead, I need to accept her where she is, and then let other relationships come into my life to fill the gaps. This is true of other relationships. If I accept people as they are and celebrate the good energy they bring into my life, I don’t need to stretch them to fill parts of myself that are empty. Instead, I can leave them empty and sit in gratitude, and they will naturally fill themselves.

As I prayed for some understanding in the force that was surrounding me on that porch, I had a vision of a puzzle piece, on a blue sky background, with the image of a man sitting in meditation painted on it. The man had a serence smile. Around him in the blue sky were other pieces that were fitting together and also gaps where pieces were missing. I interpreted this as a metaphor for the relationships in our lives.

When we work on a puzzle, we do not file down the knobs or open up the holes or file down the corners to get the pieces to fit together. We do not stretch them to force them to cover empty spaces. We do not change the pieces to please us. Instead, we accept all of the pieces as they are and trust the divine to give us all the pieces we need.

The man at the center of the puzzle in this vision, was of course, myself. I could find peace by sitting in the middle, in a state of ease and appreciation of all that was going around me. I could focus on the divine love that we all have within us, and radiate this out through my eyes on the pieces that were around me. I did not have to worry about how they felt or reacted to me. Their lives would mesh with mine where there was harmony and that was fine. People who have strong negative reactions to me will be repelled from me. I do not have to get involved with those negative reactions, and I do not have to change them.

All of the people in our group were happy and friendly and the whole purpose of our gathering was for us to meet and get to know each other. My own negative thoughts and resentments were serving no one, least of all myself! I was self isolating, and then feeling lonely, and then resenting that loneliness. So with a little bit of prayer and a little bit of divine guidance and a little bit of remembering the vortex, and a little bit of force, I was blessed with an insight that I was able to act on.

So maybe the last time I was in that situation, I did not do quite as well. But this time around, I improved. Baby steps. This time I was able to find the gratitude and abundance in my heart, to look upon my friends from the lens of how I felt about them, which was good, because it is my nature to like people. But in order to like them, I had to let go of concern for how they might feel about me, which for many of us can be delivered in the form of fear that others will not like us. The second lesson has helped me to accept my relationships as they are, and not try to stretch them to fill what I perceive as gaps in my experience.

Now I have these understandings in my tool kit. Writing about them here helps to solidify them. In summary, I was given two keys. The first is to accept people as they are, and not try to get them to change to please me. The second is to focus on how I feel (or want to feel) about them, and not on how they feel (or how I fear they might feel) about me. With these two mantras, I can sit in the middle of the puzzle of my life and let the other pieces do their sacred dance. I hope this is helpful for you too. I hope it helps my mom and the squirrels too.

Peace.

Easter Letter to Myself

Do you ever get stuck in a funk of feeling unappreciated or ignored? Does it sometimes happen to you that people want to tell you there problems, but not listen to your solutions? That should not come as a surprise, because most people who tell you their problems are not really looking for your opinion as to how they can make their situation better. Most are just looking for some level of understanding that they are dealing with a situation that they find frustrating or difficult. So instead of offering them some sort of practical solution, a better response would be to say something along the lines of “wow that is a challenge. I hope you work it out.”

You are naturally a problem solving type of person, and it can be difficult for you when people do not want your advice. It may sound to you like people are complaining about situations without really wanting to improve them. A lot of the time, it might seem to you that they are dealing with the same basic pattern over and over again, and falling into the same traps of ineffective responses. Maybe it seems clear to you how they could improve their situation. But the hard to understand truth, is they really don’t want to hear about that. What they really want is to talk about their situation to someone who will listen, and if you are the one who is listening, the best you can do is lend a kind ear and hear them out. You are not going to fix anything for someone who does not want a solution.

This is an important lesson for your new voice, the voice that was born again on Easter. In the past, you have always thought that the value of your knowledge was to share it and help people to move forward in their lives. This was especially true for you as a father, because you raised four sons, and it was in many circumstances, up to you to guide them. But your sons are not children anymore, so now it’s time to respect their independence and let them figure things out on their own.

But sometimes something special might happen. Sometimes, if you let someone struggle with their situation long enough, they might grow tired and actually seek advice. This is a process that you need to let happen. It is the real life experience of trying over and over that will eventually either lead to a solution that they find on their own, which is best, or lead them to seeking advice.

But the key for you is to not want to give the advice. There is some part of you, that is in your ego, that wants people to listen to you. That wants people to do as you suggest and that wants them to follow your advice and then be successful. You see that in yourself do you not? After all, if you give someone advice, and then they follow it, and become successful, then some measure of their success can be credited to your smart idea. You can see how you can become attached to people doing as you suggest and then become attached to the outcome of their venture. This is the source of a lot of entanglement on your part in the affairs of other people, and this is likely as not to end badly. And when it does, if you imposed your advice, it is not credit that you will receive, but blame.

This can even be in very minor situations, like when you suggest a move to an opponent in a backgammon board. If they go on to win, then you have robbed them of some measure of their success, and if the move goes bad, then you are responsible for the bad outcome. They have a hymn for that. It says “You should not give advice to people who do not want to listen”. This is not a negative statement. The hymn goes on “to you we give this instruction, leave them be!”

It is important in learning to use your new voice that you learn not to use it, and to not use it happily. Sometimes you say “fine I’ll just shut up if nobody wants to listen to me.” There is a little bit of a hurt tone underneath this, like you are going to go pout in a corner and say “nobody wants to listen to me.” Well you are just exaggerating when you say that, because it’s not “nobody” that wants to listen to YOU, it’s simply that most people want to figure out things for themselves, and that YOU are really no kind of master. So take your refuge in humility.

Don’t you remember that clear instruction that you have received so many times over and over? Humility is a refuge not a personality trait. When you have hurt feelings because people do not recognize you as wise or smart or knowledgeable, and you take that personally, you are looking for affirmation from other people that you possess these characteristics, when you yourself should know perfectly well what you know and what you do not know. And you, being as you are, fully incorporated in this world, are no better than a fish in a fishbowl. Perhaps you are a very smart fish, but you are still in the fishbowl and have extremely limited perspective. You do not know what is going on in someone else’s head. You do not know what is going on in their lives or what challenges they are facing. So to you, a piece of advise might seem obvious or helpful, but really you might simply bet telling a fish how to go about climbing a tree.

Remember A Course in Miracles. Remember The Manual for Teachers. Remember that it is up to God to bring teaching and learning together, and that all teachers learn exactly what they teach. So if you are blessed with a teaching situation, do not forget that it is you who are the student. You are never superior to anybody. Any lesson you have to offer to even the smallest child is a lesson you really should heed yourself.

Do you remember that T-shirt that you were shown a long time ago that a man was wearing in Coconut Grove…. it said in big letters “Always Lead, Never Follow.” You laughed when you saw that and you thought “does that apply when you are with a group of people in a city that you have never been in before? Does that mean that you should lead and not follow even when you have no idea where you are or where you should be going?” Well that’s the case in most people’s personal problems.

First off, they are only telling you what they want you to hear. They are likely only telling you the part that will provoke the response that they desire from you. One such response might be for you to think highly of them. Another might be that they want you to feel sorry for them. Another might be that they want you to tell them that they are perfectly justified. Another might be that they simply want to feel loved. But it does not matter, because you are only seeing a part of the picture, and then that small part is interpreted by you according to your reactions, experiences and desires. So you are seeing a small portion of the truth through distorted glasses and then you are going to offer advice on how to proceed? It is just like that patently ridiculous T-shirt telling you to always lead and never follow.

You see, if ever there were a strange city that you do not know your way around in, it is someone else’s psyche. The inside of someone else’s experience is no place for you to be a leader. So what can you do? You can offer your experience perhaps. Like in backgammon, don’t ever tell somebody what they should do even if you think they would benefit from your advise. If they ask you for your advice, then you can tell them what you would do if you were in their position, and then let them decide what they want to do. Do you see the difference in the energy there? It’s not about what they “should do.” It’s up to them to decide that. All you can say is based on your understanding of the situation, this is what you would do.

Backgammon is a light example, but sometimes you are talking about people’s finances, and you can get yourself into some trouble if you start telling people how they should invest their money. You have no idea what their true appetite for risk is. You have no idea what they will do when they have an emotional response to market turmoil. And you have no ability to direct their actions in the future. So, instead of telling them what they should do, be careful to offer what you would do based on your understanding of the situation. Let them be the one to take responsibility for their decisions, and then they will be responsible for the results.

But the best advice for you is this. Do not be attached. It is not for you to seek to be large. It is not for you to seek a following. It is not for you to publish a book telling other people what they should do to have a happy life. The spotlight is not there for you. What is there for you is a path by which you may learn to lead a good and happy life for you and your family. The people who come into your life are there to teach you what you need to learn. It’s not the other way around.

So that is a key lesson for you with your new voice. The power of your new voice is not to tell others what to do. The power of your new voice is to speak with humility and learn what it is for you to learn.

Peace.

Lessons From My Dog

PhoDOGgraphy

I was reading through some of the great articles available here, and found one were the author had unapologetically posted several pictures of her dog. I commented that I love PhoDOGraphy, and often personalize shots of landscapes or points of interest with our beloved Frankie. Here he is in early March on a trip up to the frozen Bear Creek waterfall in Telluride Colorado. I wanted to feature one of these pictures of Frankie, and then to write a little bit about some of the great lessons he has taught me.

I may as well disclose that I have undertaken a spiritual path which includes the commitment to make one’s spiritual evolution the most important value in one’s life. If this sounds extreme, it’s tempered by the view that spiritual evolution occurs through participation in the school that we all find ourselves in here in this world and in this life. Our path is not one of going into a cave and seeking to find union with a divine force, but rather to develop by fully incarnating our spirit in the here and now. This is not to cast any disrespect on those who follow a path of long and deep meditation, and of course meditation and prayer are very important in any spiritual practice.

But for me, it’s 80/20, meaning that I try to spend 80% of my time fully engaged here in this material world, and maybe 20% in a broader vision. One of the first things we learn in any meditation based practice is that we can look on ourselves from a higher perspective, I have heard this described as realizing that the “I am” is the observer of our thoughts.

Frankie, on the other hand, lives right behind his eyeballs, and this is my favorite lesson from him. I walk him frequently, and he’s always completely in the flow of his immediate adventure. When he finds a stick on the side of the path and pulls against the leash, his focus is complete. He is not wondering whether he should want that stick, or whether sticks make him happy or any of that. It’s just Frankie and the stick.

I am not a practitioner of Zen, but I have studied it a little, and it is my impression that this is what they call present mindedness. It is the “Be Here Now” that Ram Das talks about. I love to witness this, and now in my own life, when sailing, or skiing, or running or sitting in the woods, I try to adopt this way of being absorbed in the present moment.

There is a really great teacher that I have had the pleasure of learning from. His name is Alex Polari. Alex has an amazing history in that he was part of a group that kidnapped someone from a foreign consulate in Brazil in protest of the military dictatorship there, and then was captured by the fascist military police and spent 8 years in prison there. When he got out, he dedicated his life to the pursuit of spiritual study. Alex explained to a group I was participating in that the our purpose here on earth is to fully incorporate our higher self into this material existence.

I’m not sure if I have this just right, but the feeling I get from this is that we are here as witnesses to creation. Elon Musk often talks about the simulation. If you created a world of an amazing simulation, would you not want then to immerse yourself in your creation so you could really experience it? The idea would be to fully incorporate your consciousness from the higher realm into the experience here. And so Frankie is a good teacher of this. He is definitely fully incorporated here.

Another thing I really admire about Frankie is his capacity to accept (and ask for) praise and affection. I take him with me a lot as I go through my day, and so he has met many of the people I encounter on a regular basis, and he always shows his joy in encountering them and ends up getting his belly rubbed and lots of love and affection dumped on him. He has no reservation or doubt about this. I am not this way at all, and that’s probably a good thing. We offer to each other a tepid peck on the cheek and an A-frame hug, and exchange faint praise. This is not at all Frankie’s style. He’s all in for love and attention.

I do recognize that my life is better because I can spend the other 20% of my time in reflection and see myself from a higher perspective. But I’m not sure we are really all that happier on account of all the thinking we do about everything all the time. Maybe if we just spent our lives in pursuit of a good belly rub we’d all be better off.

Peace.

Bamboo Blooms Once and Dies after 50 Years

I remember my fourth birthday party at the Navy Base in Corpus Christi, Texas. We lived in one of the top apartments of a quadruplex. There was a balcony between the top two apartments that overlooked a small yard with burnt grass, and on the other side of the yard was a large oval shaped stand of oleander. I learned to ride my bike when I was still to short to put my feet on the ground, so I would just crash into the oleander and trust its slender branches to hold me upright. My birthday is early February, and so for my party my mom bought two of the same books of punch out valentines day cards. (I remember this, because I punched them all out when I found them, and got in some trouble for it.). My Mom hung the cards from one book on the oleander bushes, and passed out the other set to the kids who came to my party. I remember there were quite a few of us. With card in hand, you had to walk around the bush until you found your match, and then you received your prize, which I remember being a balsa wood airplane with a rubber band powered propeller. I remember it flew surprisingly well from the balcony above the yard.

And then my Dad went to Vietnam, which I really did not know or understand. I actually was not even really aware that we were in Corpus Christi because he was in Officer Training School. But I know now that he had been drafted as a surgeon and had been shipped off to Vietnam and assigned to a division of Republic of Korea Marines where he put bodies back together in a M.A.S.H. unit that was never more than a mile or two away from the front lines. He learned there to be a brilliant vascular surgeon. If my Dad could not save somebody on the table, then they were just going to die. Plain and simple. He had no restrictions on the need to try novel approaches, and he had to work fast. I think he was chief of surgery at every hospital he ever worked at after that.

My Mom took me and my sister to my father’s parents house in Miami, which was the same house my father had been born into, and was about a mile and a half from Doctor’s Hospital where I was born in 1967. My fifth birthday party was at that house, and I remember this because we had a pony. So it was sometime between my fourth and fifth birthday that we moved back to our hometown of Miami.

My Mom has always had an amazing green thumb, and to pass the time, she would volunteer at the Fairchild Tropical Garden. David Fairchild had been a close personal friend of my Grandmother. So had most of the old Miami families, because back in the 1920s there were not any people in Coconut Grove except those who could stand the heat and the mosquitos. My parents bought the house from my Grandparents, and they moved to a smaller house with more land near snapper creek. This sets the stage for my story, which revolves around a stand of bamboo.

My Mom brought home one day a bucket from an exotic plant sale at Fairchild that had bamboo in it. We planted it in the jungle that was the front half of the acre where the house was. On this land, back in the 1940s, my Dad’s family had dug out the soil from a sink hole and used it for a victory garden, and so in the front yard, which was a beautiful lush tropical jungle, there was this excavation of what we called “The Big Hole”. It’s still there today, and it’s about 15 feet deep. It looks like it was some sort of spring from ancient times. Mom planted the bamboo at the back of the big hole, and I used to try to make blow guns out of it. I also used to sit on the edge of it with my BB gun to shoot toy soldiers that I would set up on the rocky coral ledges on the other side of the hole. I had green good guys who were the American soldiers and grey bad guys who were the Germans. World War II had left such an indelible print of good vs evil that we did not have with Vietnam. With Vietnam, war was the bad guy and the people who fought it were all victims.

This stand of bamboo grew and grew. As the stalks got taller and thicker , they started to sprout horizontal sticks with sharp thorns, and created a completely impenetrable thicket. For many years cat birds would nest inside the thicket. I’m sure several generations of the same family lived in there. They would pop out and coo to me while I shot my BB Gun.

It was there in the big hole that I sat on the day of my wedding to Stephanie and prayed and listened over and over to a hymn called “I Invoke My Master” which talks about being a son of the truth and living in integrity. It was just the right vibration for the start of a strong marriage. My kids grew up going down there too. My Mom put a concrete alligator statue in the bottom, and the kids all believed it came alive at night and wandered around the woods. Maybe it did.

That was 50 years ago that my Mom brought the bamboo home in the bucket. Last month we were all delighted when it bloomed, as you can see in this picture. But then the towering stand of bamboo started to break and fall over. We did a little research and found that this is the end of the life cycle for the bamboo. It lives about 50 years, and grows to 70 feet high with thick rods of bamboo about six inches in diameter, and then it explodes into a giant geyser of bamboo rice and flowers, and then the whole stand dies.

A couple days ago, I went and looked around the base for new shoots, and there simply were none. I remember years ago seeing new shoots protruding from the ground as the stand spread, but now there are none. I had thought that each shoot of bamboo was a separate organism, like a bunch of trees growing close together, like an aspen grove. But the entire stand is a single organism, that blooms and dies.

This amazing creature was planted when I was a boy of five years old. I am now a grandfather of 55 years old, and it feels so poignant.

I often write here about astrology, and for me a lot of astrology is like a clock that measures the progress of our life. We have our twelve year cycles of Jupiter returns, our 29 year cycles of Saturn returns, our 84 year Uranus return, and on the shorter scale we have our 29 day lunar months, our four times a year Mercury retrograde, our beautiful oscillating Venus clock as she moves from the evening star to the morning star and back again, and the faithful sun marching out one year at a time… never in retrograde, like the march of a maracá.

This bamboo takes me from my early childhood almost right up to my second Saturn return, and its demise is a milestone in my life. I have been going through a personal process of letting go of being the one who does all the tasks, the Dad role, and of assuming the role of the Grandfather. In the Tarot, this is the fools journey from the Knight to the King, where the Knight is in the battle swinging the sword and the King exerts influence from wisdom and moral authority, but no longer is the one taking the actions.

The other day, when I walked down to the big hole to take these pictures, I could still feel the presence of my little boy spirit with the BB gun. I could still feel the cat bird’s soft coo in the bamboo. I could feel the strength in my heart on my wedding day as I listened to that hymn, and I can feel the incredulous gaze of the children as they pondered the concrete alligator. All this happened under the shade of this big bamboo, and now it is casting those memories into the air in an explosion of flowers.

My Mom, she was about 30 years old when she brought home that bucket from Fairchild Garden, is 80 now. A whole lifetime has passed, but so little has changed.

It makes me feel peace in my spirit. I hope this story brings peace to yours too.

Peace.

Spring brings all of the planets to the dawn sky

As I have mentioned before, I am a big fan of Astrology, and my favorite part of the study of Astrology is the connection it brings me to actually going outside to view the planets. They are the path of brilliant shining stones, the universal treasure, the light of the firmament, and they will all be there in all their glory for us to see this Spring. You may have felt the powerful energy of the recent conjunctions of Mars and Venus with Pluto, and for those of you who are waking up before sunrise with daylight savings time, Mars and Venus have been putting on a spectacular show with the dimmer Saturn just below them. All you have to do is look to the eastern sky before dawn and Venus will immediately catch your attention.

But this is just the beginning of an amazing spectacle that continues throughout the year, as if we are being rewarded for the passages we have all gone through in the last couple of years. And so here I would like to outline some things you can easily observe in the sky to help you feel connected to the rhythms of the celestial clock.

My favorite aspect of this is Jupiters path through the zodiac over its twelve year “synodic orbital period” (the time it takes for Jupiter to go all the way around the zodiac from our perspective on earth, as opposed to from the perspective of the Sun). I remember I was in the middle of the Amazon Rain Forest in the spiritual community of Céu do Mapia with my son in late June and early July of 2019. During that year, Jupiter was at opposition to the sun during this exact period. I took the photograph that you see above simply by placing my camera on the ground facing straight up into the sky at midnight. Because Jupiter goes all the way around the zodiac almost exactly every 12 years, it reaches opposition one month later from one year to the next. So in 2020, Jupiter was opposite the Sun in late July and early August. In 2021, Jupiter was in opposition in early September, and in 2022, Jupiter will be there again in October.

So if we watch Jupiter in the night sky, we can see the passage of years. I always remember my trip to Mapia was with Jupiter in this position in late June during the festivities surrounding the Summer Solstice.

As I said up above, the planetary show for the spring of 2022 is already underway in the pre dawn sky, with Venus, Mars and Saturn being the main attractions. But Jupiter is right there in the glow of the rising Sun. The Sun goes through the zodiac 12 times faster than Jupiter from our perspective, so every day at dawn, Jupiter will be a little higher. Soon it will start to be visible through the glare of the morning Sun, and then every month it will rise about one hour earlier, and therefore be about 30 degrees higher in the sky each month. I love to watch the advance of Jupiter across the sky, so I will be out there in the morning when I walk the dog looking for it.

Venus, on the other hand, travels through the Zodiac faster than the Sun. It happens to be at about the point where it is highest in the morning sky. One really interesting fact about Venus, is that it’s never visible at midnight. Think about it. Venus is closer to the Sun than the Earth, so it can never be on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun. Instead, Venus oscillates in a beautiful pattern between being the morning star and the evening star. Right now, Venus is as high in the sky as it can get, and now it will start diving back into the sun, until it goes behind the Sun and reappears as the evening star.

But first, it will pass both Jupiter and Saturn. So we have these conjunctions to look forward too. First Venus will pass Saturn, and then it will pass Jupiter. It already passed Mars and Pluto. All you have to do is go outside before dawn and you can see this for yourself!

Something extraordinary is about to happen, and that is that in early June, all nine planets will be present in the morning sky. Of course, only five of them are visible to the naked eye, but they will all be there. You can try to find them with a telescope (I’m not sure if this is possible with Pluto and Neptune, but it is possible with Uranus), but for me, I am satisfied just using a Star Gazer app on my phone to locate them. Then I just ponder the sky and it’s not hard for me to imagine the presence of the planet there. I’m quite sure I can feel the energy of it. Even if you could see it with a telescope, these far outer planets would be simply dim points of light.

But Jupiter and Venus have much more to offer with a telescope. Jupiter will offer up its Moons to a casual observer. I remember the first time I saw the four principle Moons of Jupiter through a telescope. It was on a field of icy snow in the dead of winter in Sun Valley, Idaho. I was astounded and humbled. What a beautiful and profound hidden treasure. I remember the four Moons were all lined up on one side of Jupiter, and I was surprised at how far their orbits took them from the planet. I remember a couple weeks later taking my sons outside to repeat the observation, and was so surprised to see two Moons on either side of the planet. It had never occurred to me that they would change their orientation like this, but they did sure enough. Again I was astounded.

Most recently, I set up a telescope to observe the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in December of 2020. This was on our chocolate farm in Bahia Brazil, that offers and amazing view of the night sky. There again were the Moons of Jupiter, and within the arc of their orbit, was Saturn. Just by putting my eye on a simple telescope I was able to directly observe Saturn so close to Jupiter that it was encompassed by the orbit of Jupiter’s Moons. I will never again see that in this lifetime, unless I travel through the solar system on something other than Earth!

Venus (and Mercury) also offer some grand spectacles to an observer with a telescope. These two planets, because they are closer to the Sun than the Earth, have phases like our Moon. So when you look at Venus, it can appear as a bright crescent. The same is true for Mercury, but be very careful not to let the morning Sun get into the view of your telescope our you can really fry your retina. Best only do this before dawn.

So in early June, all nine planets will be in the sky before dawn at the same time. I don’t remember the last time this happened. But this is not the end of the show! Saturn and Jupiter will continue their path toward opposition. Saturn, with its slower orbit, will reach opposition sooner than Jupiter. Without looking, I was say this will happen in late July. Then, Jupiter will reach its opposition in late summer, which will be the best time to see its Moons with a telescope.

And Mars, don’t forget Mars!, will be putting on a show too. Mars will reach its opposition in early December and it will be huge and bright and red and also fun to look at with your telescope.

You can read all about the energies of all these events in a good blog. I recommend Astrobutterfly on this platform. But I find sometimes that I just need to sit in the quite while I gaze upon these shining stones, and the energy speaks to me directly. I think you will find you can feel in your heart the power of our celestial neighbors.

Enjoy the brilliant spring. Pray for Peace. Show gratitude. Love your neighbor, and enjoy the celestial beauty, the universal gift of the firmament.

Peace

Venus, Mars and the Butterfly Effect

It’s amazing how fast the days go by. It’s been quite some time since I last sat down to write, and there are a few topics that come to mind. The first is the array of planets visible in the morning sky on the eastern horizon, which I had the fortune of seeing this morning. Frankie (our dog) woke up about an hour before dawn, and I had already been lying awake in bed, so when he asked to go out, I put the leash on him and walked down to Biscayne Bay to see Venus in the morning sky.

Venus made its transit of the Sun sometime back in January I think it was, and thus it switched it’s role from the evening star to the morning star. I had brought my telescope with me to Telluride so I could look at the Mars transit that occurred on about March 6th, but alas, Telluride is in a box canyon that opens to the west. On the east side is Ajax Mountain, and Venus, at least from our perspective, does not clear the mountain ridge before the sun comes up. I was not able to see it while we were in Colorado.

But this morning I did get to see Venus, still pretty close to Mars. It was so bright like a diamond. Mars was down and to the right a little bit, and then Saturn was closer to the horizon. It’s so pretty when we can see several planets in one view. Pluto was also there, but not visible to the naked eye. Jupiter, in Pisces, was still below the horizon, and I was cold and wanted to go get back in bed, and did not wait to see it rise. But Jupiter will start gaining prominence as the year progresses, until it reaches opposition, I think in September this year.

Have you already started to feel the shift in energy after the conjunctions of Mars and Venus and Pluto? Remember COVID, which suddenly left our headlines to be replaced by constant news about the war in Ukraine? Finally we are through with this pandemic it seems. Funny that the only exception to this is China, where they struggled so hard for years to prevent the pandemic from landing there. But all they succeeded in doing was to delay the inevitable. For the rest of the world, we now have some immune protection and the pandemic will go the way of all pandemics, all the way back to the plague of 1655, which tend to last about two years.

For all the ineffective and pointless reactions we had to the pandemic, we succeeded in shortening it’s duration by about exactly zero. Sometimes I think we would all have been much better off had they never identified COVID as a novel virus and had just written it off as an unusually harsh flu season. If that sounds cold hearted, it’s really not. People who get sick and die from the flu are just as deserving of compassion as those who got sick and died from COVID. The recognition that our responses were ineffective does not reflect a failure of compassion. When you compare the response in Florida, which is led by a regrettably pro-Trump governor, to that of California, you can really see how ineffective all the responses were. Florida eliminated mask mandates and lock downs state wide, while California leaned into every available restriction on liberty, and California fared no better than Florida. Futility of the fight against nature.

Another concept I wanted to touch on is the butterfly effect. I was talking to Stephanie the other day about the war in Ukraine and about how the USA did exactly the same thing in Iraq. Also, in the 1980s it was Russia that invaded Afghanistan and fought for twenty years while the USA supplied stinger missles and other weapons to the “freedom fighters,” but then these same people that we supported in their opposition to the Russian invasion became our enemies, and so we invaded their country, and faced people we had trained and armed. But now they were not freedom fighters anymore, they were terrorists. Same guys. Same pile of rocks.

Of course all war is barbaric, and if you follow the dollars, who is making money off the war, it’s always the same oil and gas companies, arms suppliers and corrupt security firms like Haliburton and Blackwater who make the billions of dollars. Another war drives the price of oil above $100 per barrel, and suddenly talk of the Keystone Pipeline and shale oil are back on the table.

So Stephanie told me to write a post about it, and I commented that while I do really appreciate that there are a few people who read this blog, I suggested that my audience was not wide enough to have a material effect. I said I can blog about it but it won’t change anything.

And then she made a point that really stuck with me. She said… but remember the butterfly effect. I loved the book “Chaos” which describes in detail how sensitivity to initial conditions can give a small input great power over time. There is a point to writing some of these things down, because even affecting the consciousness of one other person in a positive way can be like the effect of a butterfly flapping its wings and changing the weather.

I hope we can all “change our weather” by awakening our consciousness. Every email I send out has the signature “The expansion of the consciousness will be able to save the Earth”. As my beloved God Mother teaches in a hymn that she received… “we must pass through the suffering and aggression that humanity is suffering without the least bit of need.” All this suffering is actually not necessary. We have everything we need in the material world to take care of everyone alive on this planet and to take care of the planet too. But instead we have wars and all this suffering and aggression. It is only a small shift in the consciousness that is necessary and we can all wake up from this bad dream. Flap your wings butterflies. Let’s change the world.

Peace.

Ego, Karma, Personality, and Forgiveness – freedom through the examination of your conscience.

It’s a super rainy day here, and I came to my office by myself to listen to vinyl records and do some writing. I sat for a while before opening my computer in anticipation of the barrage of notifications and distractions I would have to wade through on my way to this blank screen. It seems there are so many forces out there constantly taking us out of the present moment and transporting our minds to distant conflicts. I often admire my little dog Frankie because he lives right behind his eyeballs. Constantly present. Here I am already distracted thinking that I need to cancel a meeting I had planned to go down to the marina and measure the depths of the boat slips at low tide. It’s pouring down rain on a Sunday. That’s done, and now I’m back here. Small distractions everywhere.

One of the ideas that has been sitting with me is the interplay between our ego, our personality, and our karma. I often hear a lot about these topics individually, but I do not very often here about them being talked about together. So what is the relationship between our ego and our Karma? To me it seems like one creates the other, much like the ancient image of the snake eating its tail.

There was a spiritual master from Brazil who lived from the late 1800s until 1971. His name was Mestre Irineu, and from the time he was very young, he had dreams of a celestial mother who would keep her eye on him. If he did something wrong, she would come in his dreams and punish him. She would roll him in the hot sand or in the mud of a rice paddy with sharp rice shoots pointing up. It was not for him to steal or take advantage.

Mestre Irineu has many hymns that he used to sing that talk about his mother is always watching him. I used to think that meant that there was a benevolent supernatural force that kept track of him and made sure no harm would befall him–kind of like a guardian angel queen of the forest. But when I heard the story of the mother that would appear in his dreams, I knew it was much more than this. She would watch his every step and hold him to account. There was no escaping her watchful eye.

This is like our Karma. We can never get away from it. We often try, as they say, we do our tricks down low, thinking that the master does not know. But of course he does. Everything is recorded in the record of our own karma, because our karma is our own conscience. We can deny the truth, we can avoid the consequences of our actions, we can hope that nobody finds out the truth, but there is no escaping our own conscience. We might fool even ourselves, but never our karma.

Let’s say for instance that we tell a little lie to someone and make up an excuse for not doing something that we did not want to do. We may very well have been justified in just being upfront and saying, for instance, I know we had plans for dinner tonight, but I’m feeling tired and would rather not go. But instead we say we had a headache and could not go. It’s probably not even morally wrong to do that because it really does not cause any harm to anyone, but what does it do to us?

The psychology of this is very interesting. The next time someone tells us they cannot do something because they have a headache, we will doubt them. We will wonder what the real reason is. Because we ourselves told a little lie to smooth out a social awkwardness, then we will see this in the world. This of course happens all the time. Do you not frequently receive excuses that you know are not true in the absolute sense? “I’m sorry I was late, you know, traffic.” Like you did not know there would be traffic in Miami at 5:00 on a Friday? Ok sure.

But we can also let this go right? Do I really care if someone has a doctor appointment or if they just don’t want to go to lunch that day? Does it matter? The important information, that I’m glad to receive in time to change my own plans, is that for some reason that my friend does not want to explain, lunch is not going to happen. Maybe they have to go do something else that they don’t want to talk about. Maybe they have a job interview and don’t want to tell anyone that they are searching for a job. It really does not matter to me personally what the reason is, the simple fact is I need to make new plans for lunch.

But the point is that we record our own actions in our own memory, and this becomes the lens through which we see the world. If we steal from our neighbors, then we expect our neighbors to steal from us. If we hate other people because of their race, we will be afraid when we walk past people of that race, because we will see them as feeling the same towards us. If we cheat in our relationships, we will be unable to trust. Our actions become our Karma in this way. It’s the collection of our past actions that is stored in our conscience and frames our perspective on the world.

This in turn, becomes our ego. It becomes who we think we are. It becomes how we see the world. The ego is a very illusive being that lives inside our conscience. It wants recognition, approval, acceptance, and to be admired. But it also knows the truth about what we deserve and what we have earned. So, often, what we want and what we deserve do not really align, and we experience distress. And it is this distress that often leads us to seek a solution.

And so it is that the ego is the patient that shows up at the door of a therapist, it is the initiate who starts a 10 day vipasaana, the ego is the seeker who holds its first cup of ayahuasca, it is the lonely soul that starts the Camino de Santiago. And the first thing the ego bumps into on this path of self discovery an objection to the notion that we are receiving just what we deserve. We don’t like this medicine very much. We often want to point to other reasons for our failures in business, in relationships, in school, in overcoming addictions, in whatever we are failing at. We don’t like to think that we deserve what we get. But the ancient wisdom is unrelenting. You reap what you sow, and that is what we all deserve.

The first lesson in all of these paths is to learn to examine your own conscience. It is all written there just as clear as a book, for those who want to see. But we usually don’t see it. And this is where good friends really come in handy, because they usually see things from a little different perspective. Sure our friends have their own distortions in their own lenses, but it’s not the same distortion as the one we have, and so another perspective can help us to see the truth. If we want to.

Have you ever had a friend who complains about the same thing over and over? Another lousy job? Another lousy boyfriend? Another excuse for why they did whatever they always do? Continuations of self defeating behavior? A good friend can hold the light on what we don’t want to see, but it’s up to us to open our eyes.

Our egos hold onto wounds and resentments like little treasures. These are little treasured bits of evidence that prove that the world is unfair and out to get us. They are the stories we tell to ourselves, and to anyone who will listen, that justify us. These stories paint us in favorable light. How could we have been expected to do better given the awful circumstances? Of course we could not. These become the stories about who we are.

And so it is that our actions, in this life and in others, are recorded in our conscience, and this becomes the lens through which we see the world, and this forms our ego. And our ego then manifests itself as our personality. The personality is how this complex presents itself to others in the outside world. Karma is our history, ego is the result, and personality is the display.

We come into this world already with a Karma from our previous lives, or at least that’s what the ancient wisdom traditions of the east tell us. We come into this incarnation with the karmic baggage from our previous incarnations. We continue to play those same stores out in this life time, until we dissolve these karmic blocks through the process of forgiveness. Forgiveness was preached by the spiritual master known as Christ in the Judeo christian frame of reference. It comes as compassion and non-attachment from the east. All of the true wisdom traditions have the same prescription, even if the colorful stories are different. It does not much matter whether you believe in a god with an elephant head and a human body, or a god in the form of a man who was born of a human woman through immaculate conception. Stories of God coming into human form exist in all wisdom traditions, and the most important message they bring is the message of forgiveness.

This was a difficult topic for me initially when I started my spiritual path. I was super angry and feeling the victim. I was feeling misunderstood, and I thought the treatment I was receiving was unjust. And so when the notion of forgiveness was laid at my feet I initially did not understand. Why forgive people who continue to do me wrong? Turn the cheek so you can slap me again? That sounds like a sucker to me. But here in the battle, it is the sword of forgiveness that cuts the most.

Forgiveness is simply the ability to leave behind the treasures of resentment that the ego holds onto. It is the release of the stories about how we were wronged and did not get what we deserved. It is abandonment of the idea that we live in an unfair world that is out to get us. It is simply the determination that we accept the world and our role in it, and we are not going to carry around all this baggage anymore.

My favorite teacher of this is an imaginary baboon that is a friend of mine. This baboon friend is ornery. He lives in a tree and shouts insults at any who walk by, and if you stop to take issue with his insults, he will bombard you with monkey poo from the top of his tree. You can stand at the bottom of the tree and point your finger and yell, while he throws monkey poo down upon you. You can walk off and tell your friends about what a bad monkey my baboon friend is. You can hold onto your resentment, and you can judge other baboons to be the same way, and maybe some of them are. But really, would you argue with the baboon? Would you want to hold on to resentment?

It’s easy to say “no, of course I’m not going to hold resentment towards a baboon.” We can all see that there is no point in expecting the baboon to behave any differently. Baboon gonna do what baboon gonna do. But what about your coworker who routinely fails to show up and leaves you holding their shift? What then? Well “what then” is you tell your boss that your coworker’s delinquency is not your responsibility, and you don’t take their shift. And you smile and go home.

See this dynamic? If you stay and take the shift for your delinquent coworker, your boss might be happy, and your coworker will thank you and give you a great story for why this time was different, cause their phone was not charged and their car died. You will be left holding the bag of resentment with a story of how you are the victim. But it is your own action that causes you to suffer. Or maybe, having embraced your power, you might choose to take the shift, for time and a half. Your choice. No resentment.

Let’s say you were looking forward to seeing someone, and they stand you up. Ok that’s a bummer right? Your lunch did not go as expected. If you are quick, you can still make the best of it, but let’s grant that it’s a disappointment. But the next time, bring a book. Because if they stand you up again, it’s your own fault if you are disappointed. Forgive but don’t be a victim. We all have this power, but most of us don’t see or appreciate it.

So if we examine our conscience, we will see how we sowed the seeds of our own harvest. We can forgive the rolls others have played in bringing them to pass, and we can modify our own actions in the future. We can plant new seeds next time.

And so through a process of self examination and forgiveness, we can clean our conscience and release our karma. It’s as easy as that. And as we relax our karma and let go of our collections of resentments, as we clean the lens through which we see the world, we get lighter and lighter. We expect peace, harmony, love, truth and justice in the world, and we receive it.

And after practicing this for years and years, we can start to get a little quicker. When someone cancels on us with a flimsy excuse, we don’t dwell on it. We just bask in the divine love of the sun that is always there for all of us. May the sun shine down on you.

Peace

Birds and Giving the Best of Ourselves

This essay starts with a picture of birds, but it winds up talking about how they can teach us to give the best of ourselves. But first, the birds. I have always enjoyed photography, and some of my favorite blogs are about photos people have taken of birds. So yesterday when I saw these guys in the palm tree in our yard, I smiled at the opportunity to participate. A growing family of blue gold macaws live in our neighborhood, and they love to eat the palm nuts from the royal palm trees.

It’s a funny thing to write a blog. There are so many blocks to writing. In fact, it starts with a block! As soon as I open a new page, it asks me for a title, but how am I supposed to think of a title before I’ve even started to write the post? It is hard for me to just leave it blank and move on to the body, and so today I started with the photograph, even if the picture really does most of the talking for itself.

We have a pretty outrageous assortment of birds here in our winter home in Miami. Peacocks and parrots in our yard. Exotics to be sure, but they have been here since I was a child. There used to be an amusement park down here called the Parrot Jungle. It was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and a lot of the birds got loose.

Turns out the blue gold macaws do very well here on their own, and so now they are breeding. I few years ago there were only two of them that I would see very occasionally. Yesterday I saw nine in one group, all squawking at each other from the tippy tops of the palms. I do not know how long ago it was that the peacocks were introduced, but by now they are everywhere. Peacocks, it appears, are like the wild pigs of the bird world.

So the title of the blog post is one obstacle that I have to overcome to start writing, but that’s not such a hard one. Far harder is Mr. Hoodafukaru. Mr. Hoodafukaru sits on my shoulder and questions my writing; he questions my “right” to write at all.

But it’s not just writing. It’s photography, art, singing, playing guitar, painting, dancing, pretty much anything. I don’t think I am the only one. How many people believe that they should refrain from singing? How many people are shy to dance? I remember growing up believing that I could not sing. And I remember pretty clearly the day in art class in like second grade where my efforts were not appreciated and so I was determined to be not good at art either. And so for many years, I did not do either of these things.

I imagine that many other people have had similar experiences. Singing is a particularly painful example for many people. How many people out there are shy to sing? If someone asked you to sing a song right now, on the spot, could you sing a song? Or maybe we would utter a couple refrains from Free Fallin’ or some other choice sing along, and be all to glad when the ordeal was over.

I remember standing by quietly during the singing of Happy Birthday. I was so convinced I could not sing, that I literally did not sing. That all changed a few years ago when I started to gather with a spiritual group centered around singing in Portuguese. What? Yes, you heard me. We get together with others who follow a Brazilian Eclectic Spiritual practice, and we sing together in a circle, in Portuguese. This was the start of my many adventures in Brazil, and now I enjoy it so much.

It’s been almost 13 years, in fact, February 2nd with be my 13th anniversary of the first time I joined this group. On that day, our group tends to sing hymns that are dedicated to the Orixá Yemanja, because that is her feast day in Bahia where we have a chocolate farm. When I first started sitting with this group, I did not sing at all, nor had I ever spoken a word of Portuguese. But Brazilians are an incorrigible. Sit with them long enough, like 15 minutes, and before you know it, you are part of the fun.

And so I felt myself croaking out a few syllables. I was given a little hymn book that had English translations on one side, and so I could sing along phonetically with the Portuguese and kind of read the English translations. This was the start of an amazing journey, and there are so many things I could write about it, and maybe I will as this practice of writing develops.

But there is one lesson that I received about singing that comes from a little mockingbird. He was perched upon a telephone wire in the evening light after a rain storm had passed, and from his perch on the telephone wire, he sang. And sang. And sang. He sang all of his songs, and then repeated some of them.

In our group, we always sing in unison. That means everyone sings the same thing at the same time. We don’t have rounds and harmonies and different parts. It’s really very simply and folksy, but there are nonetheless some amazingly talented musicians and singers. Normally, there is a leader of the singing, referred to as puxadora, which is the person who “pulls” the hymns. The puxudora starts the singing, and is the one everyone else is supposed to follow. In our style, the puxadora invariably uses a maraca to set the rhythm with a very simple three or four count, depending on the time signature of the hymn. All ears are on the puxadora and the maraca.

It can be a little intimidating to step into this role. After all, everyone will be striving to sing exactly with the puxadora. There are slight variances in the way some hymns are presented, and so it’s important to listen to the puxadora instead of just trying to sing the same hymn at the same time in your own style.

One day a friend who was shy to pull some hymns was expressing her reservations. She felt like she was not good enough to start the singing, to open her voice into the silence and have everyone listen and then join her. And the mockingbird came to me.

The mockingbird does not have this reservation. It does not worry if remembers perfectly the songs it picks up along its journey. It’s not like most birds that have a single song to perfect! It sings all the songs it hears. The mockingbird sings with joy, on cue, to the best of it’s ability, without self judgment. I shared this with my friend. Sing like the mockingbird sings I suggested, and she did, and it went fine.

All we can do is give the best of ourselves in any given moment. We must prepare, we must practice, we must study, but when the time comes to present ourselves, the “I’m not good enough” refrain is of no service to anyone. We simply must give the best we have.

This is not the same as having false or unjustified feelings of grandeur. It’s not to think that we are better than we are, it’s just to accept that we are what we are. Out of love and respect for the others on our team in life, we study hard and practice and stay in shape. But when the time comes to present ourselves, we give the best we can in that moment, and that’s all we have to give.

And so that’s what this photo was at the start. I would love to have a telephoto lens on a tripod to take a better one next time. I would love to have a better vantage point. But what I did have was my iPhone and some pretty birds in a palm tree. I hope they bring joy to whomever sees them.

Thanks for reading. Let me know if you are a bird photographer and if you like the macaws.