We meet ourselves time and again in a thousand disguises on the path of life… In every adult there lurks a child— an eternal child, something that is always becoming, is never completed and calls for unceasing care, attention, and education. — Carl Jung
Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be… The destination of life is this eternal moment.– Alan Watts
Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness. — Allen Ginsberg
Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray. — Rumi
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. — Laozi
I was a lucky kid. My parents, Leo and Betty, are salt-of-the-earth heroes who taught me, along with my older siblings, Patti and Gary, and younger ones, Dave and Shawn, that love is the purpose of human existence. Whether or not you believe in fate, our parents were meant to be together. On leave from the Merchant Marine, Dad met Mom at a dance. She was being accosted by two guys when Dad, convinced they were bothering her, stepped in between and told them, “She’s my girl.” They’ve been together ever since. Fulfilling a longtime dream, Dad sought and bought “the perfect spot”–which he found by climbing a Scotch pine during a long hike–to build a house and raise a family. That spot was located on a hill overlooking Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell with all kinds of wilderness to explore. It is no wonder we all grew up with an unquenchable love of nature, or that we are bound by a mutual love of sunsets. I’ll never forget the last time watching one with Dad while sipping a 7-7 on the eighth floor of a condo overlooking the dunes of New Smyrna Beach. I offered him a heartfelt toast of gratitude for a remarkable childhood. There is nothing like sharing tears of joy.
I am a lucky old man. A born-again Daoist, faithful husband, grateful father, and retired professor, I recently survived a brush with death. After bouts with Covid, anemia, hypothyroidism, MYRSA, and an acute case of sepsis that recently put me in the hospital for a week, I had heart ablation surgery to treat my atrial fibrillation and flutter. As a result, I’ve done a lot of self-reflection and decided to use this website as a means to explore and express who I am, some things I’ve done, and what matters to me. Admittedly, this involves some self-aggrandizing as well as soul-searching. Besides citing student letters and evaluations, I have a page on my basketball career that includes lots of news clippings and a few video clips of high school games. Sure, it felt uncomfortable editing the games to highlight me, but I did it to promote my son’s career, so I figured why not do it for me. Besides, those clips are the only extant footage of my entire career, including all my college and European pro games. I was only 17 years old at the time, but the footage gives an indication of why basketball was so important to me. I am not the only one who wonders what might have been if not for all the knee operations. As John Lennon put it, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
This brings me to the main reason for the website: I hope to use it as a platform for selling books I’ve written and ones I’m working on as well as inciting interest in my poetry and potential blogs, videos, and podcasts. In other words, since websites are effective marketing tools, I hope you understand and pardon the self-advocacy. As I put it in Confessions of a Basketball Junkie, “Sorry about all the “I’s”; but what can a first-person narrator do if not shake daily characters in hopes of finding slices of self that potentially ripple? Not to dramatize things, but being an idea in progress, sitting in the living room with Strawberry Fields on Spotify, I ask Ulli if she knows what I mean. She glances quizzically at me from the other couch and asks, ‘What about the self? You sure you want to start a page like that?’ I’m not sure what she’s getting at because she’s on Facebook and not really paying attention to me; so, aware of what is secondary, I catch her eyes and tell her, you know I know when it’s a dream. ‘We’ are not confined by the parameters of our skin; consciousness is not ours—at least, not ours alone. It comes from somewhere else, long before you and me: we have always shared the same Self. Dictionaries are at least partly right, a narrator gives ‘an account of events,’ but when you think about it, January is an event, so is a garden, and a paragraph.” If you believe Alan Watts, the entire universe is a single event. Or, in Erwin Schrödinger’s words, “The total number of minds in the universe is one. In fact, consciousness is a singularity phasing within all beings.”
Do not resent growing old. Many are denied the privilege. – Author Unknown
The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected. – Robert Frost
The first 40 years of life give us the text; the next 30 supply the commentary on it, – Arthur Schopenhauer
We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing. – George Bernard Shaw
For the unlearned, old age is winter; for the learned, it is the season of the harvest. – Hasidic Saying
Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old. – Franz Kafka
The best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears. – John Lennon
None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm. — Henry David Thoreau
As the story goes, I was born on April 1, 1954, in Cadillac, Michigan. Yes, I am an April Fool and, as my wife, kids, and grandkids will tell you, I happily embrace the fool archetype, especially when it comes to nonconformity. I owe a lot to Dad and Mom. More than anyone else I know Dad embodies the hard-working and selfless father archetype—belly laugh and all—that inspires all who had the fortune to know him. He aspired me to dream, to seek excellence, and to persevere. Besides, if I didn’t start working at basketball camps as a counselor at age 15, I knew I would have to continue to trim, bail, and load Christmas trees for him. It was bad enough that we had to mow our eight-acre lawn with a push mower. I learned patience and the power of tenderness from Mom.
No matter how far we come, our parents are always in us. — Brad Meltzer
We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves. — Henry Ward Beecher
Let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence. — Plato
There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent. — Mahatma Gandhi
Everything depends on upbringing. — Leo Tolstoy
Parental love is the only love that is truly selfless, unconditional, and forgiving. — T.P. Chia
I love my Dad. He is the proverbial one-of-a-kind. He, Mom, Ulli, and I spent a lot of vacation time playing pinnacle. The most memorable vacation was when, after they watched Ulli dance ballet in Nurnberg and me play basketball in Munich, we went on a Greek cruise. Whether drinking Weizenbier in a Schwabing pub, listening to Greek folk music at an outside restaurant in Plaka, or sitting around a table on the ship deck, we would make bids as if there were no tomorrow. Especially Dad. He was the ultimate gambler. Born and raised with his brother John on a farm, he started his own washed sand and gravel business with a single dump truck, which he expanded into an excavating and landscaping business. He never stopped taking risks or talking to people. He loved listening to people’s stories, and he sure could tell them. Though I rarely cry, I teared up during the funeral in Big Fish because Edward Bloom is my Dad incarnate. Anyway, our cruise took us to five islands and the coast of Turkey. Though we hit most of the standard temples and museums, we went where we wanted. I’ll never forget the windy afternoon at Poseidon’s temple, when Dad, who’s extremely afraid of heights, leaned over the cliff’s ledge where the legendary Aegeus leaped to his death because he thought the Minotaur had killed his son. Leo loved to defy fear and limitations.
Dad lived the American Dream. His work ethic and faith in opportunity led to his venture into Christmas trees, whereby he could passionately cultivate the earth and bring joy into thousands of living rooms. He also made a good living, and not only taught us “the value of a dollar,” but also instilled in us that, with inspiration and perspiration, a good life is there for the making. Inspired by FDR’s New Deal, Dad was a lifelong Democrat and remained eternally convinced that everyone—from all walks of life—deserves a fair shake and a second chance. Like Dad, I feel blessed to be born and raised in the United States, a melting pot of so many cultures and a bastion of freedom, hope, and opportunity. He chose to serve in the Merchant Marine, and my sister Patti made us all copies of letters he wrote his parents while he was on his cargo ship in 1943 and 44. Most of the themes centered around the farm and agriculture, like when to rotate crops, what to plant where, and when to harvest. He briefly described a few of the places they docked but wrote very little about the war. He did mention being chased by a German submarine one long and dreadful night, and how lucky they were not getting torpedoed. Though he was on the beach of Normandy on D-Day, he never discussed it in his letters or in person. I remember watching Saving Private Ryan with him on a cold winter night in Cadillac while Ulli, the kids, and I were on Christmas vacation. I sensed him tense up during the graphic, 27-minute battle scene on the beach, and understood why many veterans underwent counseling after seeing the film. We were alone and I made a couple comments on the way out and asked a couple questions in the ice-cold Jeep, but it wasn’t until the truck was warm and we were almost home that he finally said, “War is hell.”
More than anything else, Dad loved life and was happiest when spending time with family. We lost him to cancer and my sister Patti to heart disease years ago. The rest of us were fortunate to be bedside with them as they passed. We also lost my sister-in-law Paula to cancer. We carry on their legacies every day. The following poem comes from Confessions of a Basketball Junkie:
Sensing the Sacred
On my father’s farm you would never find a plastic rose, just garden-pollinated wildflowers chased by gentle dreams pulling life’s course along streams meant to meander. He planted seeds aware rotated crops share our transformation in ways nature intended rotting mulch to turn sprouts upward. Mindful of each row he hoed he knew a good harvest depends on fertile soil for the same reasons blood cells flow and relatives love sharing holidays. I see him gathering blueberries and tasting the energy our atmosphere shares with rain-drenched corn fields spreading green truths every day we feel his presence traveling like roots through our psyche.
I love my Mom. She is 98 and just had her gallbladder removed a few days ago. She had gallstones and was in immense pain before and after the stones were removed and the infection drained. The doctors were amazed she was not in the ICU fighting for her life. True to her colors, she flirted with the doctors, had her favorite nurses, shared a few jokes, and kept singing, “I wanna go home.” Her hip and back severely limit her mobility but, despite some short-term memory loss, she is quick to share her opinion about politics, religion, and people past and present. I just talked to her on the phone and knowing I was going to write about her, asked, “How would you describe yourself?” She quickly retorted, “I have no clue… Who cares?… What a terrible question.” Along with her quick wit, she has a kind, patient, and giving nature.
Mom did everything for our family. Besides taking care of the house, she originally kept Dad’s books, planted a one-acre garden, taxied the five of us kids wherever and whenever we went, made every meal, and did so happily and selflessly. She lost her mom when she was four and her dad never recovered. Nevertheless, she had a wonderful childhood. Raised in the Upper Peninsula from five to seventeen by Aunt Lou and Uncle Jim in Laurium, she went to high school in Calumet. Lou was a full-blooded German, but like the rest of our relatives up there, she was a true Yooper. Jim got a car-factory job through kin in Detroit, so Mom moved in with Aunt Rosalie and Uncle Willard in Cadillac. At the time, extended families were just that. I remember visiting and being visited by aunts, uncles, and cousins, and camping with them. Her brothers, Bruce and Doc, lived in Calumet and played big band music. Our visits were always fun. As we got older, our sole destination became Copper Harbor, the tiptop town of the Keweenaw Peninsula (and all of Michigan, for that matter). You have to take an absolutely gorgeous thoroughfare, Brockway Mountain Drive, to get there. It’s Mom’s favorite place on the planet and she wants to be “spread” there. She’s getting cremated, so when she dies, we kids and our kids and our kid’s kids are taking her and Dad’s mixed ashes and dispersing them in Lake Superior, probably along Lakeshore near Harbor Haus. Our journeys belong together. The following poem is from Confessions.
Our Common Origin
Like a valley to the world, innocent and wise, she promises infancy returns to every heart receptive to virtue without trying. Mindful of birth pains and certain death renders no sting, she unlocks doors to the mysterious source of heaven and earth. Unconcerned with a beginning nor seeking an end, she is in love with life. Happy to share, she looks ahead and mourns what we have lost. Always keeping the One in many, she remains endlessly open, caring for everything and touching nothingness with all she has. Constantly changing, she stays the same. Like a river she gives and never runs dry. Home abides in her.
I love my siblings, their kids, and their kids’ kids. Altogether, counting spouses, there are 42 of us with another one on the way. It’s so cool how genes run through us in ways our parents connect progeny to ancient ancestors emerging out of the cosmic design that ties sisters and brothers to the kind of beings we all have the chance to be. The most patient person I’ve ever known, Patti was a painter, poet, teacher, and longtime principal at a school for secondary students with emotional/behavioral disorders in Orlando. A heart transplant survivor for over 10 years, Patti has three kids and three grandchildren. Her oldest, Dave is an unbelievably talented musician who was working as a grip for the movie industry in New Orleans when he met his wife Laura Jean, a sought-after costumier. Their son, Seth is a gifted student and a cool kid. Chris is a sensitive soul, cultivates an awesome garden, works on search engines, builds websites for a California company, and takes care of Mom. A radiologist, Taryn married Albinuz (who proposed in a hot air balloon). He is a computer programmer and they have two kids, Tyana and Elijah, who are in college and middle school, respectively. All four of them foster and find homes for rescue dogs. That’s the kind of compassion Patti inspired.
A distinguished neuroscientist, Gary married his high school sweetheart, Deb, years after high school. Their daughter Darby is an artist and also a sensitive soul; while their son Gary is a prodigious blue-grass guitarist and a professor with a Ph.D. in history. Also a Ph.D. and an artist, Deb worked in education, and administration, and started her own consulting business. Gary wrote grants and helped develop the Brain Research and Integrative Neuroscience Center at Central Michigan University, where he is the director. He also serves as executive director for the highly reputed Field Neurosciences Institute Laboratory in Saginaw. Ever since I can remember, beginning with a youthful discussion of Spinoza’s pantheism, we have shared the heuristics of the enterprise meaning our search for meaning resides on a scale that transcends good and evil and settles comfortably between yin and yang. In other words, Gary sparked my passion for basketball, initiated my fascination with philosophy, and personifies the big-brother archetype. Our families are getting together this Christmas!
The eternal return
We belong to a place where infancy remains
faceless and whole, where mountains incite
a sense of the sacred, where creeks freeze
and daylilies bloom, where each season
marks a rebirth of hope and memories like
the last time we spent all night in touch
with constellations inside each other.
Dave and I spent our childhood together shooting hoops, hiking, biking, playing with friends, and constantly spilling identity into one another. He owns and expanded Dad’s excavating business and is a golf fanatic. His wife Paula served as a grade-school teacher for nearly 20 years. They have two daughters, two sons, and two (soon-to-be three) grandkids. Lindsay is a patent paralegal, loves rock concerts, and has lived in Alexandria since 2008. Laura works for Dave and lives with her favorite ski-partner Ryan in a quaint home in the wilderness. A chemist and political pundit (whose perspectives I share), Andrew married his high-school sweetheart Emily and together brought little Jack Lando into the world we all cohabit. Matthew, a slam-dunking hoopster, married Christina with whom he collaborated in the creation of Carter and a baby about to grace his or her presence with the rest of us. Dave plans on making his grandkids drummers because he loves drumming even more than golf. I am serious, the lines between us are relative to what childhood means in terms of identity.
My baby sister Shawn is a passionate, fun-loving soul who reminds me every time we’re together life is a hallowed collection of moments. She married Steve, a builder of movie sets in and around New Orleans. He has a daughter Cristen from a previous marriage. Shawn is the mother of Ryan and Rachel from a previous marriage. Ryan, who works for his Dad’s construction business in Las Vegas, married Krista and together they have three boys–Hunter, Waylan, and Hank (they love their country music). Rachel has four children–Saydee, Baylee, Gracie, and Leo. They live in Slidell, not far from Steve and Shawn, and Chris and Mom. Every visit is a unique experience filled with all kinds of energy and solitude, activity and peace, and unconditional love.
I could go on about my family but I do that elsewhere on this site and in my books. So, to wrap up the “about me” stuff, let me share a few of the things I love to do. I love going to the beach:
I love hiking, biking, and canoeing:
I love traveling:
I love playing piano:
I love playing tennis, golf, and shooting hoops:
I enjoy eating delicious food and drinking good beer, wine, and bourbon with people I love:
I love and can never get enough of nature. Here are a few shots not far from home:
I love my wife and kids, who are the heart of the next page.