Monday, December 21, 2009

Not the End of the World

Not the End of the World

In the late sixties, in my late teens, I was staying with my parents at their summer house on Cape Cod (those were the days). Some friends from across the cove were over for cocktails—that’s what people did in those days, came for cocktails. I said to this older woman that I didn’t think the world was going to survive because things were so bad in the environment and nuclear weapons were poised to destroy us all. She looked at me over her bourbon on the rocks and said, “Everybody thinks the world is going to end in their lifetime.”

A few nights ago I was reminded of this statement when I was sitting in a restaurant with a group of longtime Buddhist activists, artists, and teachers. The topic of politics and more generally the state of the world took over the conversation. I sat quietly and listened as these 60’s survivors lamented that “the system was broken,” and how they didn’t want to be around to watch the world fall apart, that, basically, the best years of the planet Earth are over.

Weren’t we actually in more danger of extinction when the USSR and the US were one button-push away from nuclear war? I mean, clearly global warming is a disaster in the making, but worse than an ice age? The planet’s survived some pretty hairy situations—although loads of species have been wiped out. But, all of this is beside the point. My question is, why does each generation think that it will be the last on earth?

This stuff goes back at least to the Bible, right? Revelations and the Apocalypse. The word “armageddon” derives from the name of the site of a battle fought in ancient Israel. People have been predicting the end of the world since they realized that things had beginnings and endings.

I think there’s a simple reason for is: We can’t imagine the world going on without us. It’s much easier to think that it’s all going to end, that everyone else is going to die along with us than it is to think that we’re going to have to leave on our own and everyone else will go merrily along.

But that’s the way it is. We die and the world goes on. And, really, how selfish is it of us to prefer that everyone die so we don’t have to do it alone?

No, it’s not the end of the world, not now and not anytime soon. The lack of universal health care, the obscene bonuses on Wall Street, the horror of violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, and all the rest is no worse than what’s been happening since humans first picked up rocks and started clubbing each other over the head. Humans are violent, greedy, and selfish. They are also loving, generous, and wise. Are things really getting worse? Maybe. But things have been pretty bad before. Not long ago people in this country owned other people. In my lifetime, African-American’s couldn’t go into certain restaurants or ride at the front of a bus. Until recently homosexuality was classified as a mental illness by psychologists.

Look, the world is full of bad stuff and good stuff. The pessimists think the bad stuff is dominant, and the optimists think the good stuff is winning out. Are we evolving towards higher consciousness or descending into chaos? Who knows? But let’s not confuse our own ambivalence about our mortality with the end of the world. It’s not here.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Buddhist Recovery Network Conference

The Buddhist Recovery Network Inaugural Conference

The dry season is over in Northern California as a huge storm has hit us bringing car accidents, wet dogs, and a much needed drenching to the parched earth. I’m back in my office, with a view of the rain after a long weekend in Los Angeles at the Inaugural Conference of the Buddhist Recovery Network.

Two years ago the Network was just an idea—really it’s still just an idea, but now more people know about it and believe in it. We are creating a hub for those interested in connecting Buddhism with recovery from addiction. This includes people like me who are sober and into Buddhism, but also people like Alan Marlatt, an addiction researcher who studies the effects of mindfulness for relapse prevention—and who is also a longtime Buddhist practitioner himself.

The conference covered a wide range of topics, and what I found interesting about it is that it wasn’t aimed at just one audience. Most of the conferences I’ve spoken at were directed at therapists, counselors, or doctors—one professional group or another. The BRN conference had something for those folks, including Dr. Marlatt’s presentation on Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention, and his colleague Kathy Lustyk’s workshop on addiction and the brain. But we also had deep Dharma teachings from Santikaro, a well-known former Theravadan Buddhist monk who spoke on “addiction to self.”

Noah Levine presented his ideas for a Buddhist-oriented recovery program, non-12 Step and non-theistic. This work-in-progress set off a rich discussion in which Noah asked for help in developing something innovative and yet grounded in traditional Dharma teachings—“The Four Noble Truths of Addiction.”

We met Thich Dao Quang, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who works as a counselor in a treatment center for women in Baton Rouge, LA. Thay, as he’s called, is a remarkable person—someone steeped in the Buddhist tradition who has studied Western psychology and can as easily discuss attachment theory as help you let go of your attachments. His gentle and humble demeanor is linked to a broad-ranging intelligence, and, perhaps most surprising, a skillful presentation style that many public speakers would envy. As an immigrant, his efforts to learn, not only to speak English, but to speak it clearly and fluently are impressive. In some ways, he epitomizes what the Buddhist Recovery Network is trying to do. As Western Buddhists, it’s vital that we have a clear connection to authentic Asian Buddhism, and Thay gives us that.

The presentations were great, but ultimately the purpose of the conference was to bring us all together, to get us working towards making this a vital service organization. The last two days, this started to take form as small groups began work on various projects. The one that got the most attention was a group that seeks to help people start Buddhist recovery support groups. Many of these are already in existence in various forms throughout the country and beyond. But we all recognize that there is a much greater need for groups than there is access to them. We recognize that a fundamental tool of recovery is what the psychologists call “social support,” what AA calls “fellowship,” and what Buddhism calls “sangha.” Every town in the U.S. has dozens if not hundreds of AA meetings—and other 12 Step groups. Right now there are just a few dozen Buddhist recovery meetings all together. If we are going to become a widespread support organization, we recognize that the development of grassroots groups will be our core function. To this end a large committee was formed at the conference to look at how to support this happening. The initial focus is on creating a meeting “kit,” which would give individuals the basic tools and format they’d need to start a group—perhaps some readings, a CD of guided meditations, some suggestions for running a group, and other things. Will this work? Is this even wise? We don’t know. Buddhism is a historically hierarchical religion; 12 Step groups are historically non-hierarchical. Trying to blend the two is tricky. There is also talk of a training curriculum being developed for leaders and facilitators of groups.

This is just one of the shoals we’ll be navigating as the BRN moves forward. We are just an idea, and we don’t even know if it’s a good one. Our belief is that if we move forward with an intention of service and mindfulness that beneficial results will follow.

May all beings be free from the suffering caused by addictive behaviors.
To learn more, go to

Monday, August 17, 2009

Counselors in Prison

A few months ago I was asked to lead a Buddhism/12 Step workshop in Solano State Prison, in Vacaville, California. I was invited by Tom Gorham the clinical director of Options Recovery Services ( Berkeley, a street-level non-profit, where I first taught meditation to addicts almost ten years ago. Tom is helping run a program to train clean and sober inmates to mentor and counsel other addicts inside, and potentially outside. The ultimate goal is for them to become certified counselors by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC). I was intrigued by the opportunity, and drove an hour north to the prison on a sunny day in late March.
As I drove the freeway, I thought about the prisoners. Just the simple act of driving was something they couldn’t do. I was once in jail overnight and it was the most frightening event of my life. The horror of loss of freedom came home to me that night. Like our health, our physical freedom is something we tend to take for granted, but when it’s threatened, we realize how wonderful it is.
Besides contemplating their existence in prison, I felt some trepidation about meeting these prisoners. Who were these men? What would they think about a Buddhist? How would they respond to meditation?
Tom met me at the entrance to the prison, got me signed in and led me to the building where I was going to be teaching. We walked past hundred of prisoners hanging out in the yard, and everything seemed calm and peaceful. But I couldn’t help noticing the guards in the towers watching our every move—and, of course, that of the prisoners. I tried to walk with mindfulness, to observe the whole scene and to feel my reaction to it all and to the situation itself. I wasn’t terribly relaxed.
We had to go through another gate to get to our building. The prisoners I’d be dealing with were privileged. They had passed through various hoops to get here, and almost all of them were active members of 12 Step programs, sobriety being a pre-requisite for the program. As we got to the building, more blue-jean-suited prisoners milled around, but here there was a definite change, a marked friendliness, people greeting me with nods and smiles. I began to relax.
Inside everyone gathered in a typical institutional setting, folding chairs, fluorescent lights, and grey linoleum floors. Tom introduced me, and I looked around at this group of men, ranging from their early twenties to well into their sixties. Tom had told me that some of them were lifers, while others hoped to get out and be drug and alcohol counselors some day. The majority were black; several were Hispanic; a couple were White or Asian.
Looking at their open, eager faces I felt a huge rush of respect: these guys were living in the most oppressive conditions you can live in in our country, but instead of rebelling, complaining, blaming, or giving up, they were trying to do something positive with their lives.
“You guys are a huge inspiration to me,” I said. “You exemplify the Twelfth Step: ‘Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to help other alcoholics. . . ‘ You get it. You’ve realized that happiness doesn’t come by satisfying your own personal desires, but by helping others.” It was awe-inspiring to think of the transformation some of these guys had made.
As I spoke the heads nodded, the smiles broke out. I began to talk about my own experience with drugs and alcohol. Then I told them about mindfulness and we began to meditate. Again, I felt some trepidation. Were they going to get it? Were they going to think I was just some flaky white-guy trying to spread some exotic Eastern religion? As soon as the meditation finished and they started asking questions, my fears lifted. They had the same questions that any group of beginners has; they were excited and engaged and just wanted to know more. In fact, there was a graciousness and politeness that surpassed my typical crowd. And their gratitude was palpable.
Quickly I was reminded of other teaching encounters, with the homeless at the Berkeley Ecumenical Chaplaincy; with people in treatment in Harlem; and with the addicts I worked with at Options. Each time I went in with pre-conceptions about who these people were, that somehow they were different from me, a different color, a different class, different educational background, and each time I learned that they were just like me. The men at Solano State Prison were smart, engaged, aware. Many of them were well-read and spiritually sophisticated. They were hungry for my teachings, and I felt honored and grateful to be able to give something to them. I also knew that what separated us was not any personal qualities, but rather the privilege I’d been raised in and the lack of privilege most of them had experienced. I committed many of the same crimes as them, I imagine. And the one time I was caught, my skin-color and my family kept me from bearing any serious consequences.
Today I received an invitation to the “Offender Mentor Certification Program Graduation.” I’m told that more than three-quarters of them passed their exams. I’m proud to have been a small part of their education. I feel lucky. Very lucky.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Family Retreat

For the past seven years, since my daughter was five, she and I have attended the Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s annual Family Retreat ( My initial impulse for taking her was to expose her to Buddhism and pass on some moral/spiritual training to her, since I haven’t practiced any traditional Western religious faith since I left the Catholic Church as a teenager.

The issue of how to raise your kids with spiritual values is one a lot of us face in this time of great spiritual change in our culture. I didn’t want to raise her in some religion that I didn’t believe in, and yet, having no religion seems like not the greatest starting point. She actually went to a Jewish preschool even though we aren’t Jewish, and I was pleased that she learned some of that tradition and was in an environment that fostered positive values in an ancient context.

Spirit Rock, where I now teach a monthly Dharma and Recovery class, is a very open, Westernized Buddhist center. It was founded by Westerners and is mostly populated by them (us). Before the first Family Retreat I attended, I’d taken my daughter to many of their Family Days, so I had an idea what to expect: lots of singing, some skits, and a little meditation, followed by the kids going off with counselors while parents stay with the teachers and get in some sitting and more serious Dharma teachings.

On that first retreat with a five-year-old, I discovered that the retreat really was a retreat. The first day was very tough. My daughter was restless, tired, and didn’t like the food. In the meditation hall she wouldn’t sit still (surprise, surprise) even for the 45-second meditations. In our little room, she slept on the floor and I on a bed, all our stuff crowded into this small space. By the end of the day I was stressed, frustrated, and wondering what I was doing there.

The next day things began to smooth out. I met some great parents, started getting into the music that was played in the courtyard before each session, and my daughter started to get into the spirit of things—she was having fun. At some point that day I thought, “This is just like a ‘real’ retreat. The first day was a difficult settling in, and now the second day is getting easier.” As the retreat unfolded, there were a lot of ups and downs, but I began to hold it all in the realm of retreat practice.

This year, it occurred to me during the retreat, that this annual event has been one of the most important ones in the development of my practice. What makes it a retreat, and what makes it practice, is that everything that happens, externally and internally, is held in the context of the Dharma. My usual reactivity gets highlighted because I’m bringing that awareness in. Impermanence, suffering, acceptance, and lovingkindness are constant themes. Besides that each year there is a formal theme for the retreat. This year is was “Equanimity.” There were songs, Dharma talks, skits, and discussions all focused on the topic. With that kind of immersion, there’s a real deepening of practice, of engagement with the Dharma.

As we try to integrate Buddhism, or any spiritual practice, into our lives, finding ways to become more seamless in practice is vital. For years I had the idea that my “practice” was sitting in meditation. I imagined that once I became “enlightened” that I would just feel like I was in deep meditation all the time, that my “practice” would somehow just take over. The result was that after a retreat I would have a grace period of a couple weeks where I’d feel very connected, but then it would fade and I’d just accept that the normal state of semi-consciousness was impossible to change. For some years I tried to figure out how to move beyond this, but it was actually when I began my teacher training that something shifted.

Our Community Dharma Leader (CDL) retreats were the first time that I was in a retreat environment without silence. We did a couple hours of meditation each day, and the rest of the time we studied, heard talks, did interactive exercises, and got to know each other. During these retreats I started to get a taste of what living a mindful life meant. Because I was in a retreat environment and with other committed practitioners, I tended to be more awake and aware and to view my experience through the lens of Dharma. So, if a strong emotion came up, rather than being reactive, I would look at it, hold it, explore it, and let it go. And because I was interacting with people, lots of normal egoic reactions appeared. Instead of being in the protective cocoon of a silent retreat, I was encountering all sorts of things that were common to my life. So I started developing many more skills for mindful living.

The Family Retreat is another form of retreat that allows for this kind of experience. What’s even more rich about the Family Retreat is the abundance of love. That first retreat I found after a couple days that I was falling in love with the other parents’ kids. This was a first for me, this huge open-heartedness that spread beyond me and my immediate circle. The music, too, is very heart-opening. And the sense of community and shared values is a powerful support.

I still believe that there is no substitute for intensive, silent retreat practice. Certain qualities get developed and insights get revealed in that context that you can’t get anywhere else. If you want to have a deep meditation practice, you need this. But we are beginning to see that other forms are also important. On my own Buddhism/12 Step retreats, I’ve tried to take these lessons as guides to structuring the day. While we have considerably more silence than a Family Retreat, we also integrate periods of discussion and sharing that aren’t available on the typical Vipassana retreat. All of these forms are tools for spiritual growth, and exploring different forms and practicing in different ways is a huge support to uncovering and healing the many aspects of the heart and mind that need care and cultivation.

Monday, July 13, 2009



I’ve been re-reading the sixth Harry Potter book in preparation for the new movie. I’m not much of a fantasy-fiction reader, but I had read most of the books aloud to my daughter and fell in love with them (talk about addictive!). Reading The Half-Blood Prince I had an experience I recall from reading the books before: at some point I would start to long for a wand. It’s just such an appealing concept, being able to point at something and make it do things. In fact, when I get completely absorbed in the books, I’ll have moments of feeling as if I do have a wand.

Of course, this is what drugs and alcohol—and all our addictions—are, wands that magically make us feel the way we want to feel. It’s so simple, just pour a drink or light a joint, snort a line or drop a pill, and poof, everything changes. Most of us start acting out or developing our addiction as teenagers, and this is the time in life when fantasies are so strong—which might be why fantasy fiction, like Harry Potter is directed at and so popular with teens. In that awkward time between the magic of childhood and the reality of adulthood, a time when we think that adults are wet blankets, always trying to quell our dreams, getting high is the perfect wand. Our childish joys no longer inspire us, and adult satisfactions, like work and raising a family, seem so tedious and boring. Drugs and alcohol are the perfect answer—adult in their power, but magical in their effects. There’s no effort involved, other than acquiring them, and they’re exciting, illicit, and reliable.

Of course, the problem is the ultimate, unforeseen effects. I was telling my eleven-year-old daughter about booze and pot the other day, why it is that people take them. “They feel really good,” I told her. “They can make you feel wild and free and happy.” Then I told her that, unfortunately, those short-term effects don’t last, and that the longer term effects can be crippling. This is why they aren’t magic. The high is an illusion. You have to pay a price for it. Short-term pleasure, when pursued on an ongoing basis, leads to addiction and a life centered on getting the next high and avoiding anything that will interfere with your high or cause any discomfort.

One of the biggest challenges for a recovering alcoholic or addict is coming to understand that things take time, that getting anything or accomplishing anything in life is a process that usually takes longer than we want it to. Addicts want magic—we want wands. We want not only the immediate pleasure, but also the thrill of the big breakthrough. In my twenties I had a long-running joke with one of my girlfriends who was a singer: when the phone would ring, I’d say, “It’s the Big Break!” That’s what I wanted and half-expected, to just get a phone call one day offering me a record deal, lots of money, and fame.

Having attained some success in my writing and teaching, I’ve learned that it’s nothing like that. It took me a dozen years of writing to develop the chops to write a book. It took me almost as long to develop the ideas for that book—not to mention all the years of practice and program experience I needed to get those ideas. Then it took me a year to put together the book proposal, find an agent, and get a book deal. When the agent told me she’d sold the book it wasn’t some amazing piece of news. Yes, it was great news, and I celebrated, but it was just part of the process. And that “success” only meant that I now needed to write the whole book. Another year of writing, then six months while the publisher prepared the book for publication. When the book came out, it wasn’t “The Big Break!” It was another day in my life. A good day. And the truth is, even if the book had never gotten sold, just writing it would have been hugely gratifying.

Much of the happiness that adults experience is from work, not from magic or wands. We learn that life’s deepest pleasure come from our efforts to help others, to improve ourselves, to learn to be more loving and wise. The Buddha talked about progressive levels of pleasure: the lowest pleasure is sensual; then meditative; and finally, the pleasure of insight. Each of these is also progressively more subtle and more difficult to attain. But it is that effort that makes them worthwhile. If there really were wands, I think that a lot of the meaning would go out of life.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dharma of Recovery Retreat

Last week I taught my first retreat at Spirit Rock Meditation Center ( in Marin County. It was a remarkable event, only the second time they’ve had a recovery retreat there. (Last year’s was led by Noah Levine). 36 participants, three teachers, and the beautiful Spirit Rock land.

I was teaching with Heather Sundberg, with whom I’ve taught the Buddhism/12 Step retreat at Vajrapani for the past several years, and John Travis, one of the senior Spirit Rock teachers, and a remarkable Buddhist teacher. (All of our talks from the retreat are now available on Heather and I have developed a hybrid retreat form, using a blend of silent and non-silent practice. The morning starts with an hour sitting from 6:15-7:15, followed by breakfast and open time until 9am. From 9-12:30 we alternate periods of sitting meditation and walking meditation. After the 9am sitting there is a period for questions.

Afternoons have a period of 1 ½ hours for mindful speech exercises in which we offer people 12 Step topics to explore in dyads and small groups. After the silent practice time, these workshops tend to be very powerful. The workshop is followed by a period of guided lovingkindness meditation. The evening has another sitting, a dharma talk, and ends with an hour long 12 Step meeting. The meetings are really remarkable. Because we have people from many different 12 Step communities, there’s a sense of openness and sharing that’s unparalleled in my experience. This year, besides the usual alcohol and drug programs, we had folks from OA, SLAA, Al-Anon, CODA, and probably others. People would read from literature from their home program, which was very educational.

A retreat like this allows openings that are powerful and moving. Several people were in crisis around their addiction and the retreat had a hugely healing effect for them. Many others found themselves opening to deeper meditation experiences than they’d ever had.

Each participant got three teacher interviews over the week, one in a group and two personal interviews. In the brief one-on-one meetings a lot of work gets done. I was very moved by my encounters with the participants. It’s a gift to be able to connect with people when they are in this place of openness.

Heather and I will be teaching another retreat in September. For information, see my website,

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Get a self

The Sunday Times magazine had an article about a Zen "master" seeing a therapist. ( I put master in quotes because I have real concerns about how masterful someone who has such obvious blindspots really is. I know I'm not supposed to be judgmental, but it's been 25 years since I first heard the expression, "You have to have a self before you can let go of self." What this means is that if you aren't psychologically integrated and healthy to some reasonable degree, spiritual practice won't have the desired effect. It's what's called a "spiritual bypass," meaning, you try to use spirituality to solve life's persistent problems--relationships, work, substance abuse, etc. Meditation doesn't cure anything. (I can't believe I just wrote that. . . ). This Zen guy had been divorced four times--usually a big clue about lack of emotional health. The description of him is typical of someone who is attached to spiritual ideas. It's very sad, really, how he describes connecting with the idea of forgetting the self. He felt invisible as a kid, so a practice that suggested wiping out the self was perfect.

The Western approach to Eastern spirituality can be very romantic and naive, full of magical thinking. When I first started meditating, I thought it was not only going to cure me, but was going to result in fame and fortune--somehow, meditating was going to make me a rock star. Don't ask me how. When you can't face reality, when you don't want to feel your feelings or be responsible, what you do is come up with magic to believe in. It's about transcending reality, and believing that reality is all an illusion anyway, so why bother.

Getting sober and working a program gave me a whole different way of viewing spiritual practice. At first I didn't think of what I was doing as spiritual, getting a job, going to school, trying to bring some integrity to my relationships. But now I think of those things, and all the practical aspects of life, as being key to my spiritual life. After all, Right Livelihood is part of the Eightfold Path; Sila, or morality, is one of the three major components of the Buddhist path (the others are meditation and wisdom). I mean, what do I think my life is? Sitting on a cushion and feeling blissful? How I actually live seems like the real test--not how many thoughts I can let go of or how many breaths I can pay attention to. I love meditation and it's incredibly valuable, but it's only part of the path. If it's not supporting an integrated, happy life, then something's missing.

Buddhist politician

When I looked at Arlen Specter on the front page of the NYT this morning, I thought, this is a Buddhist moment. For decades he's been a Republican. Everyone knew he was a Republican. There was the "R" beside his name. He voted with Republicans, caucused with them, agreed with them. But yesterday he woke up and said, "I'm no longer a Republican." His identity, which seemed so fixed, so solid, was revealed to be an illusion. He wasn't a Republican at all. That was an outer shell he wore for convenience. It turns out he can be anything he says he is. Or nothing at all.

Isn't it amazing how reality is so fragile? And such a simple act, putting a "D" after his name rather than an "R" could have incredibly far-reaching effects if the R's try to filibuster O's programs. For me this is a reminder that how I identify myself can have enormous effects on my life and that of others. And, the way I identify myself is a choice, not a reality. When I chose to identify myself as an alcoholic, it turned my life around. When I chose to identify myself as a musician, it eventually stifled me. It's easy to stay stuck in ideas of who or what I am. The truth is, who I am is constantly changing (along with everything else), and it's up to me to stay current with that. Who know's, maybe tomorrow I'll wake up with an "R" beside my name---Noooooo!!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

nobody here

Years ago I was playing at a club in Burlington, Vermont on a Monday night. There were only a few people there, and I said into the microphone, "Since nobody's here, I'll play this song." Someone called out, "We're here!" That was a big lesson for me. Performers (and dharma teachers) like an audience--the bigger the better, so as to feed our egos--and our bellys. How many people would have had to be there for me to say that someone was there? I learned something that night. Partly I learned not to dismiss people or be rude to them in that way.

A few years ago I went to teach in Mill Valley, CA and only 2 people showed up. I was disappointed, but we wound up having a great evening where I could work closely with these individuals and guide their practices.

Last night, at the John Muir Medical Center in Concord, CA, the same thing happened. I was grateful for my experience because I didn't have to worry about how many people were there. We had a good evening, the three of us, discussing practice, and they were grateful for the opportunity to ask questions and have a conversation that we wouldn't normally have had.

It's easy to get caught up in "the numbers game," and think that it's a reflection on me or that it's not worth it to teach or perform for a small group of people. Realistically, it would be hard to make a living if my usual group were only 2 people, but that's unusual, so I've learned to enjoy it. One more opportunity to see the way my beliefs are contradicted by the reality of my experience.

Monday, April 20, 2009


The past couple years my wife has suggested I start blogging. I've run out of excuses, so here goes. . .

This morning I'm doing a final read-through of my new book "A Burning Desire: Dharma God and the Path of Recovery." The book is an exploration of Higher Power from a Buddhist perspective. As I ponder its publication, I'm a bit nervous out of a combination of my co-dependence--I want to make everyone happy and I want them to like me--and my fear of criticism--people are going to attack me. I'm someone who tends to jump into things without a lot of forethought. Just last night I was putting together an Ikea bookcase and kept doing things backwards and having to undo them and start again because I didn't look carefully before starting to screw and nail things together. This book is a bit like that. There I was wondering what to write about, "La, la, la, maybe I'll do a book on Higher Power. Sure, that sounds easy." Then in the middle of the beast I realized that God is probably the most difficult thing to write about. Too late. I already spent the advance. . .