“But, I didn’t ‘intend’ for that to happen!”


The very word itself creeps me out.

Can’t think of anything more debilitating than this four-syllable word. It ranks up there with “impotent.” At least to someone who’s always seen himself  a “man of action.” Military might have had something to do with me. Take action, is what I learned,  so that no one can see how unsure you really are at times. Whatever you do, don’t freeze. Even a bad decision is better than none; appearing immobile is just like showing  you’re “afraid.”

Oh boy, there goes another one of those words I hate to mention in public, “afraid.” How often have I been afraid to do something in life? Afraid to start something new, afraid to follow a different path. Afraid to Love?

Afraid that no one would care what I had to say or give a hoot if they even listened to me in the first place.

How, you may ask, did I get to this point? I can trace it directly to an article on “discernment,” provided by my internet friend, Steven Goodheart. Your actions set in motion your “intent,” is what I got out of this reading, and you before you act, you should know what “intent” you intend . . .

You understand that? Well, neither do I, and that is the crux of the matter. I don’t know what my “intent” is or what it should be in the first place.

I guess the bigger question is “what is one’s intention for life?”

Beats the hell out of me. And there’s the rub, as Shakespeare once said with his full intent aimed directly at me. I guess I’m looking for intent today. How can I choose to take a step, if I can not see where my next movement will take me, or what chain reaction it could possibly start?

So I’m stuck. Almost afraid to share this, believing that such an admission would only show weakness and make me too vulnerable to  what, I don’t know. See. I can’t even name the object of my fears! It’s almost as if I am waiting for something, someone to guide me, to point me into a direction to go, and give me a gentle little nudge.

And then I ask myself, “what would Woody Allen do in a situation like this? Because, that is exactly how I feel. Insecure and anxious. WoodyAllen-like. We share the same birth day, have the same biorhythms. Why not the same neurosis? (Or is that neuroses?)

Let me think about this. But not too long. I don’t “intend” to wait and hang around here all day! 

23 comments on ““But, I didn’t ‘intend’ for that to happen!”

  1. Thank you for stopping by my blog and for your kind comments. Likewise, there is much inspiration to be found here in your blog–and I will return again.


  2. spiritteacher says:

    Michael, I read about your distaste for the word indecision and this thought came to me. Indecision is the stepping stone to change. When we become indecisive we are then open to looking for another, better way of thinking. Just a thought. Peace, Sharie


    • contoveros says:


      You are so right! Some times you need to “sleep” on it — a decision — give it time to perculate or even to “incubate.” (Now that’s a great word, incubate. Sounds like you’re going to “hatch” something up.)

      In the end, the final decision can be more refined, altered or scrapped altogether.

      You think God was totally satisfied with His First Thought on creating “Life?”

      No. The Angels He breathed into existence went to war, as the story goes, and He made us, mere mortals, to pick up where They left off.

      Don’t mind being “Second Thoughts” at all. We would never go to war to prove who’s “number one,” now would we?


  3. tinapeacock says:

    Intention: noun – an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.

    Strange that a noun behaves like a verb. This is one of my most favorite words. Intention.

    Intentions are thoughts – sometimes we’re aware of them, and sometimes we’re not. Either way, we’ll get exactly what we intend. That’s the sheer power of our brains. We ARE what we think.

    That’s why it’s so important to be vigilant with what’s going on in your head. Feeling “stuck” is fear’s way of keeping you in it’s grasp. Just choose again.

    It’s a great thing to have a mind, for we can change it as often as we like 🙂

    I often ask myself “What do I want?” multiple times a day, even in little situations, especially when I feel some dis-ease or discomfort. I find if I consciously set my intentions in a specific moment, I flow through it much easier.

    A good friend of mine often says, “Flow through this life with ease.” And so, it has become my Mantra and my intention. I hope it is yours as well.

    Make it a great day!


    • Great points Tina—thanks for sharing. (Michael J – look at all the good energies your post and blog are bringing out!)

      Your saying that often, many times a day, and especially in uncomfortable situations you ask, “What do I want,” reminded me of the a process described in Nonviolent Communication (NVC). This process, developed by Marshall B. Rosenburg, has us look at: 1) The concrete actions we are observing that are affecting our well-being 2) how we feel in relation to what we are observing 3) The needs,values, desires, etc. that are creating our feelings, and 4) the concrete actions we request in order to enrich our lives.

      The whole Nonviolent Communication process has been revolutionary in my life and in healing my relationships. I highly recommend Rosenburg’s book, Nonviolent Communicaton: A Language of Life to help remove stress from the whole issue of intention. Steve


    • contoveros says:


      Please see notes to you, Karen and Steve below.


      • contoveros says:

        TinaPeacock has been difficult to reach lately and I am hoping that the computer gods smile with favor on me so that I can continue this dialogue (did I spell that right? You kinda wish you had a spell check to leave a reply. At all sites, not just your own. Maybe some one can suggest that the WordPress.)

        HEY WORD PRESS!!



        michael j

        let us know where your heart beats Tina.


        • Tina says:

          Am I hard to reach? Gee, I’m sorry … that was not my intention 😉

          What was the question again? lol…


          • contoveros says:

            Now we gotcha and we’ll never let you go.

            Well, until the next post!

            Good to see the “hyper link” is working. Couldn’t find my way before. I wanted to be “the man” to end life’s “alarm,” but I see I have to wait for another rescue attempt.

            Damsel in distress. Let me at ’em.



  4. Karen Velen says:

    I intend that each will be peaceful, that I will be calm, that I will be content, that I will see beauty in all things. I firmly believe that whatever is going on in your mind is what you are attracting, we are like magnets – like attract like. You become AND attract what you think. Every thought has a frequency. Thoughts send out a magnetic energy and people think about what they don’t want and attract more of the same. So I take that proverbial leap of faith and ……

    another stickie for you Michael:

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. I’m not sure who the first person was who said that. Probably Shakespeare. Or maybe Sting. But at the moment, it’s the sentence that best explains my tragic flaw: my inability to change. I don’t think I’m alone in this. The more I get to know other people, the more I realize it’s kind of everyone’s flaw. Staying exactly the same as long as possible, standing perfectly still? It feels better somehow. And if you are suffering, at least the pain is familiar. Because if you took the leap of faith, went outside the box, did something unexpected? Who knows what other pain might be waiting out there. Chances are it could be even worse. So you maintain the status quo. Choose the road already traveled and it doesn’t seem that bad. Not as far as flaws go. You’re not killing anyone? Except maybe yourself a little. When we finally do change, I don’t think it happens like an earthquake or an explosion, where all of a sudden we?re like this different person. I think it’s smaller than that. The kind of thing most people wouldn’t even notice unless they looked at us really, really close. Which, thank God, they never do. But you notice it. Inside you that change feels like a world of difference. Everwood


    • contoveros says:

      Tina, Steven, Karen,

      I have to ‘fess up about this post. I had “intended” to bad mouth my old religion, but thought twice, and chose to write about my “indecision” instead.

      I asked myself “what is my intent?” for saying how I felt about those who were so strongly (stubbornly?) committed to their faith, that they couldn’t see that other beliefs could have just as much good to offer as the one many of us may have been “brought-up” with.

      I was particularly hurt when I wrote a comment to a spiritual post, explaining how one of the writers of old must have felt when he mailed “letters” to “new” fellow believers, advising them how to deal with anger, frustration and the day-to-day problems of the old world. I felt that a similar “communion” could be found in the letters between people on the Internet, explaining their frailties and how they could allow Love to settle most differences. I felt my “Self” drop from the writing as a little bit of the “divine” made its way through the keyboard.

      When I got no reply . . . I believe my writing was “unapproved” and deleted . . . well, I wanted to point out that if I saw the Buddha on the road, I would kill him, as the old saying goes.

      As you are aware, that is meant to show that we have our own path to follow, not some one elses, even someone as venerable as him.

      But I don’t think they would do the same with their spiritual leader, should the leader return to earth. They would worship him and believe that they could never find “heaven” through their own “Divine Love.” There would be only “one way.” The way some old priests or preistess said they must follow when codifying their religion centuries ago. No room for other thoughts, no other paths. No mindfullness meditation.

      Kind of harsh, I thought, and wanted to point out the harshness in a scaving review.

      Now, I am glad of my “indecision,” and my “intent” to stay on the high road and not a lower one. Your reaction and your compassion have proven I made the right choice.

      — michael j


      • tinapeacock says:

        Every choice you make is the correct one. I’m glad you see that. It makes me wonder why I still spend so much time in decision when I know that I will always chose correctly.

        I admire and enjoy your process. Thank you for sharing so fully. I’m just glad to be along for the ride.

        …and what a great ride it is! (windows down, woohoo!)


        • contoveros says:

          You have the ability to make a child of the ’60s feel “stupid happy.”

          Thanks for riding along. It is my old ’57 Chevy from whose windows you are catching a breeze (woohoo, indeed!).


      • Hey, Michael! Thanks for your explanatory note. My heart went out to you when you explained what was going on “behind the scenes,” so to speak. I can totally relate to what you ran into and how hard that is when you are dealing with anyone, but especially former religious sisters and brothers. You totally took the right and high path, and you “instant karma” 🙂 was the loving, compassionate response.

        By the way, in dealing with this ex-religious stuff, in all my reading, I found nothing better, nothing more helpful and bolstering than the book “Leaving the Fold” by Marlene Winell. Really, it is hugely helpful, and page after page, you’ll find counsel (and her experiences leaving her fold) ringing so true, and making your heart and mind reassured and glad. Can’t recommend it enough to you, or anyone, trying to think for him or herself and seeing through the group mind-think and conditioning of religious upbringing. (It focuses on fundamentalism, but it’s really helpful for anyone leaving a group or cult that says they have the monopoly on truth.)

        Take a look, my friend, there’s real light and support in what this woman has to say, and she speaks with the authority of experience:


        Finally, thanks again for the post that brought out all this good energy and friendship. If we meet the Buddha on the road, let’s ask him to go for a ride in that ’57, and then join us for some good cheese, a sourdough baguette, and some great red wine! 🙂



      • contoveros says:

        I can’t get over how often we believe things change but in reality they remain the same.

        I can see this through the years as I look back upon reading this article particularly, this comment.

        I had written a short post for Facebook. It was a tongue-in-cheek type of story that had four or maybe five lines. This is what it said:

        “Please reelect God on primary election day May 19, 2015.

        I think she has done one hell of a job and deserves a new term.

        If you agree with me, Press the like button.

        If you don’t agree, seek forgiveness.”

        It got quite a few likes. And I’m sure a lot of people got a few laughs out of it, including one woman I had worked with at the Philadelphia public defenders office who is now running for judge of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

        What what I first wrote never appeared at the site of Facebook. Something happen preventing me from typing it out with my little finger.

        I initially wrote the following, “If you don’t like, go to hell!”

        I really didn’t want to say that. I felt it as soon as it came out. But something prevented me from publicizing those words. I like to think it was what Abraham Lincoln called my better angels. Another term could be my spirit guides.
        Things can happen in very mysterious ways, don’t you think?

        Michael J, a mystic in training


  5. squidlady says:

    wow! I’m so surprised you actually read my blog! I had kind of forgotten about it and stopped checking the comments — as long as I know I have one reader I’ll keep writing, I promise! That is, if you’re still interested : )

    Wow, I’m so touched that someone actually read what I wrote, THANK YOU!!


  6. Hey, my friend. Really good post, and thanks for your honesty and courage to talk openly about this kind of stuff. I want to offer some insight, so I hope you don’t mind my taking up some space here!

    At one level, and I say this as someone who has done and does the very thing you are talking about, your conundrum about intent is simply the result of too much thinking about the problem. Our minds always want to intellectualize what is in fact a simple issue of trusting our hearts and acting form our hearts to the best of our ability.

    In other words, here’s what we all do. First, one has one’s first genuine response to some dharma teaching—in this case, the idea that we can skillfully look at our intentions when we act. It rings true in our hearts. We get it, without mediation of the mind.

    And then, the old conditioned mind goes to work, with all of its hang-ups and habitual ways of looking at everything. Arising out of unhealed self-doubt and, frankly, self-hatred, it starts deconstructing what the heart just got without analysis or argument. And before long, it turns a helpful “finger pointing at the moon” into a hammer that pounds us with self-doubt, fear, and even self-loathing.

    Of course the conditioned mind wants to turn “intent” into a conundrum! Of course it would make intent into a an infinite regress of what’s the intent of my intent to have intent…blah, blah, blah, ad infinitum! It’s not a real problem with a new and skillful idea. It’s our old nemesis, (and best friend, if we see how to work with it), the conditioned mind, with all its ugly, heavy baggage.

    So, here’s what I say. Through up a big stop sign! Say, “Wait a minute, I know you! It’s my old friend fearful mind, self-hating mind, self-questioning mind.” The issue isn’t really about my groking what “intent” is all about. This real issue here is you, fearful, conditioned mind, the unredeemed ego. And your real agenda isn’t figuring out what ‘intent is all about. Your real goal is your reason for being—self-hate, self-loathing, which affirms your legitimacy.”

    As Zen teacher Cheri Huber writes in There is Nothing Wrong With You: Going Beyond Self-Hate, “Self-hate is a ‘how,’ not a what. If I am caught in self-hate, self-hating is the ‘how,’ the process. The aspects of ‘me’ that are being hated—body, personality, looks (the list is endless)—are the ‘whats,’ the content. In other words, I am not hating myself; self-hate is hating me.”

    None of this isn’t to say there aren’t questions we all have about intent, or that there are no legitimate points in what you ask. But to my ear, and pardon me if I’m wrong, what I hear is more about old conditioning than calm looking into what “intent” is all about.

    The wonderful thing about the dharma, is you really can’t ever get stuck. Everything is our teacher. All this is highly instructive. Don’t condemn your humanity. “Intent” isn’t about setting up yet another internal Judge to monitor every single fricking thought or action we do! What a horror! That way lies death! That’s not the compassionate way the Buddha showed us.

    So, just live and love. We all have a right to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes. No worries, no problem. Our heart in on the right path. Relax. Breathe in. You are alive! And what a joy that we can follow our hearts in every act we do, no one judging us or condemning us. That’s the way of the Buddha.


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