“Wicked cool” is what I thought I’d be when I was 17 and was about to attend a Greek Orthodox wedding for one of my cousins in Queens, NY. I refused to wear a tie to go along with my suit. Instead, I put on “love beads.” You know, the ones that hippies were wearing in 1960s. I was a hippie wannabe. I wanted to protest the institutional requirement to look one way when I wanted to express myself another way. That is, to be in love with everyone and to share that love with all for whom I was going to come into contact with. Continue reading
Flying from the ground on up has been a persistent dream of mine and I wonder if I was some sort of bird in a previous life.
Don’t laugh. I believe in reincarnation and there is something about the company of birds I really like. Whenever I saw a bird I feel it is a good omen. Continue reading
“It was the third of June, another sleepy . . . day . . .”
With that phrase starting one of most memorable country songs in the 196os, I began my life as a man, a soldier and a leader of an infantry platoon in the Vietnam War. Continue reading
I wanted the driver who cut me off to crash and burn.
For a brief moment, I thought of praying that he would immediately die for cutting in front of me as I was doing 60-miles-an-hour on the expressway behind a car just five lengths in front of me. I beeped my horn and flashed my high beams at the driver. I relished in the hatred I felt burning inside of me. I loathed him from the bottom of my heart and wanted a bloody accident to befall ‘em. Continue reading
A fellow I worked with got a luke-warm endorsement for a man running to be the next district attorney of Philadelphia and I believe it will go a long way in ensuring justice is served in my old home town. Continue reading
I heard the word “Satsang” yesterday and it reminded me of a journey I started a half a lifetime ago when I had hit rock bottom and sought answers to the meaning of life.
Satsang is a Sanskrit word that means “gathering together for the truth” or, more simply, “being with the truth.” According to sources from India, Truth is what is real, what truly exists. Continue reading
One of my playgrounds when I was growing up was the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the Fairmount section of the City of Brotherly Love. Continue reading
Today we have the Dollar Store but when I was growing up we kids enjoyed theold Five and Dime Store. Continue reading
Thích Nhất Hạnh looked at me from the most sorrowful eyes I have ever seen and I understood what it was like for a person to feel all the suffering the world is experiencing.
I had attended a five-day silent retreat at Blue Cliff Monastery in upstate New York with some thousand others who meditated morning, noon and night. Someone would ring a bell as you walked through the monastery grounds and just like clock-work, everyone would stop what they were doing and rest in the present moment. Continue reading
I’d like to buy peace for the world even for just one day. To see Muslims hug Jews and Protestants smiling and shake hands with Catholics would be a wonderful site.
Have Greeks and Albanians forgive and forget what the Turks might have done. Let the Irish march this St. Patrick’s Day with British royalty in the streets of New York. Continue reading
“Use me” I cried out to the Universe when visualizing myself spread out on a cross while meditating with a small group in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. Continue reading
I shed twelve pounds in less than six weeks.
Can you believe it? I did it by visualizing myself getting into a shirt I haven’t worn since I put extra weight on. It’s part of a course I took entitled “Tap Into Your Genius” and is based on the teachings of a Dr. Joe Dispenza. Continue reading
I slept through the night last night.
To me, it’s a big deal for it is something I haven’t done in quite a while. You see, I got prostrate problems. I got diagnosed with it while at the VA hospital and I take medication every night, but no matter what I do, I still have to get up in the idle of the ight and take a pee. Continue reading
I experienced the Presence of God when I was 12 years old but didn’t know it until some fifty years later when I meditated and realized how much the Divine had filled me when I was praying for a girl I had just met on that glorious pre-teenage weekend. Continue reading
Living in the right side of the brain can be uplifting most of the time, but you could face deadly consequences if you try it too much while driving. Continue reading
My mind’s a blank.
I can’t think of anything to write about. I feel lost, adrift, less than human.
That is what happens when you make writing your life’s love. You want to write all of the time and never be too far away from what writing can do for you. Can do to you! Continue reading
“I could have been somebody!”
“I could have been a contender!”
My criminal law professor just died and I cried like a baby this past week. I couldn’t help but look at the photograph taken of him presenting me with a trial advocacy award upon graduation in 1988. The framed picture rests on the mantel of an old wood—burning stove in my dining room. It is one of my prized possessions. Continue reading
I cannot recall the one and only time I saw myself perform on television with my singing group even though it was one of the highlights of my life.
I sang bass for a Doo Wop group in the late 1960s as we appeared on the Super Lou Dance Show. We sang two songs which were recorded by a film crew. Continue reading
Someone from 100 different countries has viewed this site and my flag counter can attest to number of nations represented here.
I started to write a Blog some seven years ago and hooked up with a link that not only counted the number of persons viewing Contoveros, but determined which country that person was from. I placed the flag counter at the top of my Blog so that anyone — including myself — could readily see it on linking into Contoveros.It’s at my home site. (See Flag Counter for the latest count up to this minute. Trinidad is the latest country added to my list!) Continue reading
A Tibetan Singing Bowl rang out just now. It called me back to the peace inside despite the noises of harshness my life has heard played out for me in recent times.
Oh shit. I did something on the computer and I can’t get into my G-mail account. Continue reading
Alexander giggled like a schoolboy as 40 of us met in a service Sunday and quietly tried to meditate for some 30 minutes.
Wait a minute. He is a school boy. Alexander was all of 14 years old yesterday while attending the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia along with his mother. I was sitting next to the youth and about halfway through the gathering, a sound erupted from the other side of the room. It sound like someone adjusting a metal chair on the wooden floor, but to a young mind like that of Alexander, it also sounded like someone farting. Continue reading
I learned to meditate while riding on a train.
I had tried sitting mediation alone and with others, but was successful only once, and I really don’t know what I was doing. I was following a guru – a 15-year-old teacher from India — before I had turned 30 and I mingled with aspirants in an ashram in Philadelphia. I never touched Nirvana or reached the level that others seemed to rise to. Continue reading
I could die really cool when I was a kid.
I’d pretend that I was a soldier on a mission with a rifle in my hands as I made my way through enemy territory. I’d carry a tree limb most of the time and walk through pathways in a jungle we called Fairmount Park. Continue reading
Each day I get down on my knees and tell the Universe how grateful I am for at least three things in my life. Continue reading
I don’t think my son knows enough about me to write a good obituary. And so for 2017, I hope to sit down and look back on my life and offer highlights to appear in the Philadelphia Inquirer if it should still be publishing years from now. Continue reading
Writing opens me to a world within that I usually don’t visit unless I’m asleep or go into a meditative state. I let go of most thoughts except the one that crops up as I focus on a subject or rather it reveals itself to me. Continue reading
A “dead-dog-loser” is the name trial lawyers gave to cases no one expected you to win in court. I had a few of them and always tried my best to get a defendant to plead guilty before making a fool of myself and him by calling his case “ready” for trial. Continue reading
There is a message I receive every time I travel to the IKEA store and visit the “As Is” department. I get a feeling that the Universe is telling me to open myself to the message the Swedish furniture store wants to share with the rest of the world.
Accept life “As Is,” it softly calls out to me. Continue reading
Chocolate was my favorite flavor Tootsie Roll Pop. Cherry was my second. I don’t remember the first time I licked one. I must have gotten the candy at age five or six years old. Continue reading
Want to change the way you see?
Close your eyes. Take three full breaths.
Visualize a loving moment.
Stretch out the feeling.
Extend that feeling to the entire world when you open your eyes.
Do it until you do it!
– a student of Losang Samten. Tibetan Buddhist Monk
My greatest concern when I placed the political signs on my lawn was whether they would offend someone in my neighborhood. I live in a working class section of Pennsylvania, some 15 miles outside of Philadelphia. It was dependent on steel and manufacturing for many years but eventually saw a decline as jobs left the little borough of Conshohocken for elsewhere. Continue reading
Dear Mr. Trump,
I never felt “weak” when I started feeling the rage that grew in me from Post-Traumatic Stress following 25 years after leading an infantry platoon in Vietnam. Continue reading
My Uncle Mike was a grizzly white haired Greek who spoke little to no English when my father invited him to stay in our house in North Philadelphia. I don’t know if he really was a blood relative, but he was one of the meanest mother-humpers I had ever come into contact with as a child. Continue reading
If I had a magic wand I’d wave it all over my body, magically ordering it to relax and begin to accept all the good and the bad life has to throw at me
I would want to treat it all with equanimity. Continue reading
September 29th is Michaelmas Day, the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, when everyone with the moniker of Michael will feel the roots extending from our favorite saint. Continue reading
When the Good Lord created the universe He created order out of chaos. He instilled Free Will in earthlings, something he withheld from the angels of whom He created first. Continue reading
I wanted to shoot the political sign I saw outside of Philadelphia the other day but ended up feeling sorry for all of us who react violently against the person we demonize on the other side of the aisle. Continue reading
If I had my druthers, I think I would have made cats and dogs more like people and make people more like the other animals.
Yes, as God, I would have changed the book of Genesis and created the dog first and then taking a rib from the first one, I would have created his loving mate and good friend, the cat. Continue reading
I had my recurring dream again last night. For several years, I have gone to work at the daily newspaper dreaming the deadline for submitting copy was just minutes away and I had typed nothing about my story for the day. Continue reading
You’ll never find me here. I learned years ago that I could hide away from you whenever I feel you’re looking too closely at me or expecting me to act a certain way that I really don’t want to act, to speak, or to even think. Continue reading
“Twelve Angry Men” influenced my decision to practice law more than any movie I can remember while growing up in a working class neighborhood of Philadelphia and being the first in my family to go to college. The movie has done more for understanding the workings of our criminal justice system than any books or school classes could possibly provide. Continue reading
“What the hell do you have to lose?” Donald Trump shouted to the all-white audience while pretending he was asking African Americans to vote for him last week.
In response, Chris Rock responded with one word: “Everything.” Continue reading
I was unashamed of the tears that fell while watching the father of a young soldier describe the sacrifice his son made for America the other night. Khizr Khan, a Muslim immigrant, spoke with pride at the Democratic Convention and I couldn’t help but see my father in him and the love all parents felt for children called by our nation to defend it. Continue reading
“The First Dude!”
Well, what do you think? Continue reading
Playing is something I do quite well, if I do say so myself. I enjoyed it ever since I was a kid and don’t see how I could truly enjoy my life if I didn’t incorporate some sort of play in my daily living. Continue reading
I’m stuck in the middle of the Vietnam War and I don’t know how to get out. I got the beginning and the end of the story completed. It’s the middle that is causing me problems. I want to show how I got to where I was, and then what happened when getting out of there alive. Continue reading
“I didn’t mean to hurt you. I just thought you needed to know, that’s all.”
Peaches said nothing as we sat on the floor of her vestibule. I saw her eyes water up a little and I wanted to cry myself.
“I still love her” I continued without looking at the young girl I had shared such an intimate moment with at the young age of 19.
“I guess I never stopped loving her, if you want to know the truth.”
“You were her best friend in high school and you knew her as much as anybody did” I said, asserting a belief that neither one of us could deny. “I would break up with her, but we’d always got back together every time. You knew that when we first dated.”
“I should have been honest with you. But I liked you, I still like you. And wouldn’t hurt you for anything. But I don’t love you. I love Peggy, and I guess I always will.” Continue reading
I cried when I saw a woman comforting a black police officer who was helping others get hospital treatment from an assassin’s attack in the streets of Dallas last night. The cop was like many I knew in the legal profession, good guardians of the peace who laid their lives on the line every day to protect us civilians, particularly those of us in the inner cities. Continue reading
Can someone become the “muse” of another?
Could my reckless and often unabashed “agitation” be the instigation for another person to find the voice she needed to speak directly from her soul?
I like to think so. I believe I might have sparked a keg of memories that were waiting for the right moment and touch to manifest and explode for the world to finally see. Continue reading
“You can’t replace Trouble, no matter what you say,” I said to Wendy. “He was my favorite cat, the only one that could not only catch those dirty squirrels, but also behead them and leave their carcasses behind, sans their squirrely little heads. There’ll never be another one like him.”
‘No, I’m not trying to replace Trouble,” my wife answered me. “It’s just that our son Nicholas could use another pet, and the one we found at the Kitty Cottage is so adorable, I thought that any pet lover would welcome her into their home. Give her a chance. I know you’ll warm up to her and treat her as a member of the family in no time.”
Sundance is now this cat-lovers’ most lovable feline ever!
(For more, please see: Unconditional love from a cat.)
It was Saturday morning, May the 19th of 2012. I awoke that early morning feeling well rested. Since the beginning of the new year I had started working Monday thru Thursday, having Fridays off. In the past, when working a full week my Saturdays were spent sleeping in and catching up on the many hours of sleep lost during the week. Continue reading
The following is the first draft of a writing a friend from my high school recently wrote after we commemorated our 50th reunion recently. I can’t wait to read the next excerpt and see what happens! Continue reading
“Don’t do it Michael,” my ex-wife told me when I began planning for a debate between the candidates running for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania in 1978. I didn’t listen to her and I spent too much time and money in an effort that failed miserably and kept my dreams of entering politics a nightmare that I never again wanted to materialize. Continue reading
“My grandfather lied to my grandmother. I guess it runs in the family.*
But I never got married while I still had a family. That’s what I’m talking about. He lied about being married at the time he married the only grandmother I ever knew Continue reading
I saw the singer and songwriter Paul Simon last night and he’s “still crazy after all these years.” Continue reading
I’ve never been so proud of being an American as I was the past week when some forty members of the Senate held an unprecedented filibuster and it was followed up by Congressional Democrats who took the House Chamber hostage for a“sit-in” protest against our nation’s inability to halt the sale of high-powered weapons now being used for mass destruction. Continue reading
“My fingertips write like a boy left alone at home.”
He senses a freedom that he has sought for so many years, but never realized he had the ability to dig into until the moment he wrote his first sentence to a story.
Was it in grade school that he first discovered the secret? It could have been Sister Josephine Francis who instilled the love of writing while guiding the boys and girls writing with or without the Palmer method. Continue reading
Why is anger my “go to” emotion? Why does it crop up whenever I’m confronted with something I don’t understand or something I feel threatened by?
“Crop up” is not the right phrase to use. My anger “erupts.” It goes from zero to sixty within the span of a mini-second. It always seemed to be that way, even as a kid. Now at last I think I know why. Continue reading
If you could go back in time to attend a Meet-Up in Jerusalem with the famous rabbi from Nazareth to share some bread, wine and good conversation, would you sign up and go?
How about traveling back some 2,600 years to give a listen to the Four Noble Truths in northern India by a fellow who some claim had reached enlightenment? Would you agree to meet weekly to discuss life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Continue reading
You don’t fly?
You don’t buy!
It should be as simple as that! If the federal government has reasonable suspicion to place you on a terrorist “No Fly List,” you should also be barred from buying guns.
No ands, ifs or buts. Continue reading
Cut back, Michael J. Simply cut back like the sandlot football running back you played as a kid while scampering on a field in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park.
You can’t go “cold turkey” on a lifestyle you’ve been living for more than 30 years. But you can choose to limit the amount of news you take in on a daily, or even an hourly basis. Continue reading
I took a deep breath and knocked on the door.
Peggy’s mother, Mary, answered and said “Hello Michael.” She didn’t invite me in, but smiled and I kind of smiled back. Continue reading
“The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.”
I typed this over and over again, hoping that I’d learn the fine skill of typing as I sat in a class with all girls. Young women, I should say. I was the only male in the Delaware County Community College course of study and I never once felt out of place or unusual.
I wanted to be a journalist, you see. So, I figured I had to learn the fine art of typing in order to file my stories. Continue reading
You should never call a woman a bitch.
Particularly if she’s wearing a long black robe and has the power to throw you in jail for anything deemed to be contempt of court. Her Court, that is. Continue reading
I love Coca Cola. It has been my favorite drink since I don’t remember when. I guess it all started with the small little green bottles that you had to use an honest-to-goodness bottle opener to crack open. Continue reading
My second wife stopped breathing shortly after they placed her in the emergency vehicle en route to a hospital some eight years ago. The day was six-months to date of her first bout with an emergency wagon when she fell in our Conshohocken, PA, home suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
She remained in a coma for more than five days then. This time, however, they were more certain that she would not recover from her latest, unplanned date with Miss Fate. A nurse or a social worker at the Hospital suggested I contact a priest to say the last rites for Wendy. Continue reading
My son, Nicholas, just didn’t seem to understand how much pain I suffered in Sutcliffe Park when I took him to see fireworks on clear and starry night sky on the Fourth of July some years ago.
At first, I enjoyed the rockets zooming into the air. They were a colorful red, white and blue explosions that took your breath away with gasps of wonder and awe.
Soon however, they took on a menacing demeanor, however, as each blast began to remind me of the Vietnam War and the rounds of mortar fire that fell on me and my platoon some 30 years earlier. Continue reading
I’ve opened my mind to a new way of seeing and I am free as long as I can keep my peripheral vision on anything but the object of my focus.
What I do is distract myself from looking at the car in front of me when I’m cruising on the highway. I set my gaze off in the distance where I take in the beautiful blue skies interrupted now and again by a while cloud. Continue reading
As soon as I turned 18 and got a draft card, I rushed to my printing shop at Dobbins Technical Institute (aka Dobbins High School) and commenced to committing a federal offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
I didn’t now it was against the law, a federal law at that, but I guess I should have known you can’t change the date of birth on your Selective Service card to show you’re 21 years old rather than 18. Hey, it was the best way of getting served in every Philadelphia bar in 1966. Continue reading
I see my life through the eyes of a kid who grew up in Brewerytown, swashbuckling my way through fights on the streets and later the jungles of Vietnam before finding my true calling as a spiritual clarion who wants all North Philadelphia children to return to their God-given Nature of Love. Continue reading
I’m Sorry, Please Forgive Me, I Love You, Thank You!
I meditated yesterday with members of the Center for Contemporary Mysticism in Chestnut Hill and found love hidden beneath a wall of pain I build up with my first wife.
I asked her to forgive me after telling her how sorry I was for hurting her, and that I always loved her and wanted to thank her for all she did for me. Continue reading
I lost the damn wallet again.
It was the second time in about a week it turned up missing. The first time was in Korea and I never detected it’s loss. The Reverend Lee, the WON Buddhist minister leading a pilgrimage in Korea last week, had approached me with a black object in her hand. She looked worried and I couldn’t figure out what caused her distress. Continue reading
I want to stop wanting!
All my life I’ve been brainwashed into wanting something. Now I want it to stop. Do you hear me, old Wizard of the Universe? Stop . . . my . . . wanting. Stop Me!
I never wanted a cigarette as bad as I did when I got thrown into a “lockup” after getting kicked out of the courtroom by a judge whose ire I had raised by raising my own voice at him. Continue reading
Julie traveled all the way from Chicago and came to the Lotus Flower Island with a question about her life’s purpose. By the time she left the privately owned spiritual retreat, there was no doubt whatsoever that she found the answer she was looking for.
She’ll return to this rustic hideaway hidden away off the mainland of South Korea and, remain there, devoting herself to serving others from around the world who are searching for similar answers. Julie’s newfound happiness will be in helping others suffering from too much technology and not enough love. Continue reading
“I don’t know” is soon to become my life-long mantra.
It has helped me immensely in calming the “monkey mind” after a wonderful Korean woman introduced it to me and it took a full day for me to understand its profound ramifications.
For me, saying “I don’t know” is a way of humbling myself and admitting that I know very little about the world I live in and what really matters in the scheme of life. No matter how hard I try to “get it right” through searching and throwing myself into one spiritual path after another, the end result brings me no closer to any definite answer and it’s okay to let it go and simply say “I don’t know” to the world.
I’ve been to some ten different Buddhist temples in the mountainous regions of Korea taking in the rustic, centuries-old magnificent works of art and spiritual creations of man. I felt uplifted when entering doorways that millions, perhaps billions, of others walked through in search of peace and calm on their way to a potential enlightenment.
None however, have inspired more of a majestic feeling inside than the new WON Center in Seoul, Korea, where a bolt of soft and pure lightning once again struck me with what I can only describe as a divine presence that’s humbling and elevating at the same time. Continue reading
“Namuamitabul” is a Korean Buddhist chant that means “The Buddha of infinite light, infinite life, and infinite wisdom.”
This chant is recited numerous times by participants in a WON Buddhist meditation as part of a routine that involves chanting, sitting meditation and walking meditation. Continue reading
My all-time favorite Philadelphia Judge was James Lineberger, a no-nonsense jurist who’d scare the hell out of many a defendant I’d bring to the bar of the court, and one time caused one of my clients to pass out when he sentenced him for a heinous crime a jury found him guilty of committing.
Judge Lineberger could also be as warm and fuzzy as a teddy bear who would leave the bench at the top of the courtroom and float down to the metal bar when spotting a Korean woman. He could serenade in her native tongue while gazing out from his big lovable and loving eyes. Continue reading
“Dark Night of the Soul.”
I have no idea what Saint John of the Cross meant when writing about his spiritual struggles several centuries ago, but I feel as if I’ve been going through one all day today. Continue reading
“. . . Killing me softly with his song!”
I never thought I’d start off a meditation tale by using the word “killing,” but in this case, I believe it is somewhat appropriate. Killing the “dis – ease” is more like it.
Killing it softly, one breath at a time, that is! Continue reading
Pride cometh before the fall.
What’s it like being in the presence of a holy man?
Exhilarating yet humbling. Emptying while also fulfilling. Joyful but just a little bit sad. Most of all, however, it is loving. Loving from that person both through him and in him. Loving for yourself and for those fortunate enough like me to be in the individual’s presence. Continue reading
Korea opened me to another world in the Far East and I can’t understand why the United States of America has not adopted some of the more useful and expeditious activities here. Continue reading
Ad Deum Qui Laetificat Juventutem Meam!
That’s one of the prayers I would recite as an altar boy at St. Ludwig’s Roman Catholic Church and I’ll never forget it ‘til the day I die. Don’t ask me what it means. I never figured it out, but I loved to say it! Continue reading
Korea awaits me next week as I travel more than a thousand miles to find myself and discover reasons why I am still here on planet earth.
Yes, I’m joining a group from Philadelphia, New York and Chicago that will fly to Seoul, South Korea, to take part in the centennial celebration of the WON Buddhism founding by its master on April 28th, 1916. Continue reading
In recent days I received a visit from Kyrgyzstan at this site called Contoveros.
Kyrgyzstan is a small Asian country that revolted in 1910 against the Russian government and then was taken over by the former USSR until reacquiring its independence in 1999.
The Beatles got it right in the 1960s.
“All you need is love.”
“Love is all there is.”
I couldn’t agree with them more, particularly after experiencing the warm glow and gentle caress of a bunch of lovers who helped me to open my foolish heart to “A Course of Love.” Continue reading
Getting old is a real pain in the ass.
It’s a pain in the hip, the shoulder and the lower part of my back, to tell you the truth.
I recently learned that I have arthritis. It’s killing me. Continue reading
Carly Simon sang it . . .
The Heinz ketchup bottle illustrated what it could look like . . .
And I have fallen victim to it whenever I try something new and start to visualize what could possibly go wrong. Continue reading
Collegeville may or may not have been named after a religious school called “Ursinus” in the central part of Montgomery County. . . Or some long ago seminary school. I really don’t know, but I rode through it when traveling to one of the last outdoor movie theatres, the one located in Limerick, Pa, a drive-in movie just outside of Pottstown. Continue reading
I heard a banjo strum as I fed the birds outside near the plum tree in my yard this morning. Banjo? Strumming? Where could that have come from, I wondered?
I went within and felt nothing this morning. I knew this day would come, but I thought I would put it off until the day I’d die. Yes, I thought I’d have enough juice within to tell my story until I took that last breath.
But Life fooled me. It hit me upside the head, showing me you can’t take anything for granted. All things are subject to change. All phenomena is transitory, all is impermanent. The only permanence that exists is the Love I believe that energizes us and the world we all live in. Continue reading
Day 7 – Total Balance Is Natural Balance
Question 1 of 4
Describe three sources of inspiration in your life that keep you aiming to be a better you.
— Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra’s Free 21-day Meditation
If I had a magic wand I would wave it and remove all of the hate in our land. It would take away the hurt all felt throughout the ages of man from the beginning of time when Cain killed his brother and when a stupid Esau sold his birthrate to his brother Jacob for a lousy bowl of soup. Continue reading