“Finally – I have found THE answer”

I do not know quite why it is that I keep believing: “Finally – I have found THE answer”. I long ago learned that is a fallacy. It is a statement that is nearly always wrong.

My journey to curing my arthritis is an example. It seems like a dozen or more times I felt: “Finally – I have found THE answer”. Each time has been hugely important. Each step filled in gaps. Each step accomplished a better solution. Yet each step was incomplete.

I am there again. Perhaps this is a part of why I have had difficulty writing my stories. More to the point – why I have had difficulty motivating myself to write my stories. The stories aren’t done yet. They haven’t finished with me.

I have been impatiently awaiting the arrival of several of Stephen Harrod Buhner’s books – two in particular. Both books cover co-infections for Lyme disease. The first arrived yesterday.

To the best of my knowledge I have never contracted Lyme disease. However, I was severely bitten by a cat when I was ten. My hand swoll to many times normal size. It hurt. The doctor gave me what seemed like a huge shot of penicillin.

I ‘knew’, or at the least I believed, for my whole life that that cat bite caused my 30 plus year battle with two rare forms of arthritis: Reactive Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis. They are twins, slight variants on one another. I had both. They turned most of my spine and neck to solid bone. They fused my sacroiliac joints. My entire pelvis is one bone. This hugely limits my flexibility.

Over decades, I told every doctor I met about that particular cat bite. I attributed my arthritis to it. They were never able to “hear” me. I also told doctors over and over that I was experiencing “bone crushing pain”, especially shin pain. It crushed my soul. A lot of my life’s story centered around that pain and it’s impacts. I lived with it crushing me day and night for over 30 years.

I tried all kinds of things to cure the disease, and to relieve the pain. Some worked a little. Most did nothing. Many were extremely dangerous. The pain was savage. It was unrelenting. Opiates merely seemed to cut the edge. Only in the last few years have I learned that my body doesn’t process opiates as most people’s bodies do. I lack a critically important enzyme. In truth, the opiates never did anything at all. For me they were and are placebos.

After decades of research I believed I found answers. I did. It was caused by bacteria. I killed them. It worked. I cured my arthritis. The anti-inflammatories shredded my intestines. I healed them. My immune system misfired and thought I was the enemy. I quieted it. The story though was bigger than I thought. It was simpler too.

The key was in the pieces that never fit. The shin pain was a biggest clue. There were others. Endocarditis. Skin conditions. Swollen lymph nodes. A chronic unproductive cough that lasted a decade. Repeated bouts of eye inflammation. And many more.

I was right all those years ago. It was the cat bite that started it all. It was Bartonellosis, an infection with bartonella henslae.

Stephen’s book details that. All of the pieces finally fit. Cats are often infected with the bartonella bacteria. Cats transmit it to people most often through scratches. That causes ‘cat scratch fever’. It is more than that. They also transmit it through bites.

In many ways the disease looks like Lyme disease, with a twist. That twist comes from my genetics, genetics that make me susceptible to arthritis.

All of my puzzle pieces now fit. Finally.

Stephen details the mechanisms, herbs and nutrients needed to fully resolve the disease. I am likely cured already. But the bug is good at hiding and waiting. So I will now embark on a journey to finally clear any last remnants of the infections, infections from more than half a century ago.

Here I am once more thinking: “Finally – I have found THE answer!” I know that is not true. This is just another step. It is a big step.

The journey has been long. It has taken me far afield. It changed my life. It dominated my life. Yet, I am so very much the richer for it, despite the decades of pain and suffering.

— Dirk

Whatever I want, I cannot have.

Whatever I want, I cannot have.

In a program at the Monroe Institute, I learned a powerful lesson: “Whatever I want, I cannot have.”

The Institute is an amazing place. Its mission is to explore human potential, to learn for ourselves how much more we are than mere matter.

The core of the experience is first-hand learning. Ask questions. Challenge yourself. Challenge what others have told you. Question some more. Find more answers. Test them. Repeat.

Part of the magic is the Institute’s sound technology. Part is the beautiful rural setting, away from the hubbub of life. The largest part comes in the magic of the group of people who come together to share the week. And I do mean magic.

It is more than a collection of individuals. Often – very often in my experience – the groups are and were connected in magical ways before they ever arrived, though they had never physically met or ever heard of one another.

But, as I say, I eventually realized that “Whatever I want, I cannot have.”

Though I saw this in practice in myself and others repeated time and again, it took me half a dozen programs to put it into words. The core of it was realizing that the wanting of something, of anything, triggers powerful emotions and thoughts. Both are important.

By getting caught in that wanting, that desire, that insistence, I was trapped. So too were the others in the groups – trapped by their wants, as I was by mine.

In becoming focused on the wanting, I, and they, could not let go. I was trapped in my mind’s patterns. I was locked in on remembering what was, or what I desired, or what I insisted must be.

It was only when I could finally let go of that wanting that I could truly explore and find truth.

In 1984 at the very young age of 26, my dear sweet sister Shawn died of primary Addison’s disease. No one dies of Addison’s anymore. Her death was one of the greatest tragedies of my life and my families. It shattered us all. Shawn was a poet and an artist. And we lost her so early.

I had an unusual form of arthritis that was trying its utmost to kill me. It had nearly succeeded several times by then. Then Shawn died. How was this possible? Why her and not me? I was shattered.

When I first went to the Institute in 1995, I went because I was fascinated by the brain and the mind, as well as hard science of all kinds and the esoteric as well. Here they were researching all of that – together. Little did I know then how much my life would be changed.

What I did not realize is that in going I was searching for Shawn. That wanting haunted me both in life, and in my time at the Institute. I tried many times to “find her”, with no success. Others succeeded in finding ones they loved. I did not. Why? For a while, I set that aside.

In a Guidelines program I had an experience with an Owl in my visions. Nothing that happened told me anything directly. But I knew with absolute certainty that my cousin Kristi was dying. I was distraught. When I got home I called her mom and her and we talked. About a month later she was diagnosed with cancer. From then and for the next year I spoke with Kristi every night.

We talked a lot about my experiences at the Institute, about life, about healing, and about death. Kristi was an astounding young woman. She, her cousin Yvonna, and my sister were the best of friends. And like my sister Shawn, Kristi died young at age 27. Her life in that final year was glorious.

About a year after her death I was back again at the Institute in another Guidelines program. The group was amazing. It included two dancers from Paris.

As the program went along, I found myself in Paris on a particular street beside a café late in the evening. I had thought that I must be in Paris for some reason related to the two dancers. That wasn’t it at all.

In the next exercise, I found myself back in Paris. I heard someone behind me. When I turned around, it was Kristi. I was both overjoyed and overwhelmed with emotion. We could only talk for a brief time before I emotionally lost it and came back to full consciousness with tears running down my cheeks.

In the third exercise of the morning, I found myself back in Paris again. This time I was not surprised to find Kristi. We had a fuller conversation. Toward the end she surprised me by saying she had someone she wanted me to meet. She took me around the corner. There sitting at a table outside the café on the late evening streets of Paris was my sister Shawn. Even now 22 years later, I am overwhelmed with emotion just remembering that encounter.

I had “forgotten” that I was looking for her. Oh my! I cannot even begin to tell you how important that was, or how deeply it affected me. I can barely see to write this through the tears.

In time in that program and later ones I met Shawn many times.

As I thought about all of that and so many other instances I realized that in wanting so badly to find Shawn that I had become trapped in my own thoughts and feelings about her here in the physical. I was entirely unable to let go enough to actually go find her. And then through two diversions – the two dancers¬, and my cousin Kristi, I finally did find her.
“Whatever I want, I cannot have.” For it is in the very wanting that I am trapped and blinded, and thereby prevented from finding the very thing I want, the thing I most desire.

I am ever mindful now of that lesson. When I get stuck, I stop and ask myself – what am I wanting so badly that I am stuck?

I have found this truth has wider application. It extends to beliefs, especially deeply engrained ones, and to lessons learned in school and life. Often those are subtly wrong, or even seriously flawed. But in being trapped into believing they are true, in accepting them, I am and we are trapped.

Recognizing that, I have learned to let go. Let go of the beliefs that bind me. It is then that the magic truly happens.

— Dirk

Alone against an empire

It’s one thing to declare independence, but another thing altogether to attain it. The English colonies had sheltered under the mother country’s wing for more than a century and a half. Their entire way of life, from language to religion to cultural heritage, proclaimed them Englishmen. Their economy was tied to the British empire in accordance with the mercantilist economics of the day. Their ships in foreign waters enjoyed the explicit and implicit protection of the world’s most powerful navy. They might be only subsidiary parts of a vast empire, but they were part of it. What would they be, on their own?

Franklin famously said that they would all have to hang together, or they would hang separately. But – could they hang together? The 13 colonies were of three types, as we shall see, with different economic interests, different thoughts on how the ideal society would be structured, and different religious outlooks. (And religion in their day, it must be remembered, still had the explosive power that ideology would have in the twentieth century.) Could they learn to understand each other and find ways to live together?

Beyond that, perhaps as many as a third of the population of the colonies (and perhaps less) actively sought separation from England; certainly a third, and perhaps more, sought to maintain the age-old association with the mother country. And another third – perhaps as much as half, if we knew their private thoughts – just wanted to live their lives in peace, not expecting to have any say in government and not much caring who governed provided that the colonies were protected from Indian raids, domestic disorder, and foreign aggression (which, with the elimination of France from the North American continent, no longer seemed much of a threat). Had the colonies been overwhelmingly in favor of independence, or of continued allegiance to the British crown and empire, there would have been no war. But as it was, each side saw itself surviving in the midst of domestic enemies. America was fortunate indeed that the persecution of Tories or patriots by their opponents was not more vicious and widespread than it was.

Nonetheless, after July 4, 1776, there was no turning back. Washington, Adams, Hancock, etc. were going to become founding fathers or they were going to go down in history as traitors, perhaps having their possessions confiscated, perhaps dying on the gallows or before a firing squad. (For instance, John Adams later learned that he was one of those explicitly named as being excluded from any amnesty that might be granted.)

The military campaigns between the declaration of independence and the Battle of Saratoga are soon described, or rather, easily glossed over. They center on the middle colonies, because British attempts in the South went nowhere, and they had tacitly given up on New England for the moment, other than occupying Newport, Rhode Island, as we shall see.

What war there was took place in the middle colonies. Washington, still learning his trade, almost lost his army before the summer was over. Seeing a British landing on Staten Island and desiring to prevent a British occupation of New York City, he set up defenses along the harbor shores – partly on Long Island, partly on Manhattan. This, against an enemy with command of the sea and a long naval tradition of amphibious assaults.

Late in August, the British under Lord Howe landed 22,000 men on Long Island, and decisively defeated the Americans, taking more than 1,000 prisoners in what would turn out to be the largest battle of the war. Washington was driven back to Brooklyn Heights, and if Howe had assaulted the position, all would have been lost. Instead, Howe began a formal siege – to spare the lives of his men, he said; others suspected that as a Whig he hated the idea of fighting Americans, and hoped for a soft peace. Whatever his motives, he let Washington out of the bag. He got his men and material across the East River to fight again another day.

Howe was slow in pursuing, as he was slow in all things. (“William Howe, Lord When.”) Instead, he called a peace conference, which proved abortive since the terms the two sides were authorized to accept were incompatible.. When Howe did attack, he took New York City without trouble.

Again, no reason to go into it in detail. Howe had two more chances to destroy Washington’s army; missed them both. As the Americans retreated across New Jersey, Howe sent General Clinton and 6,000 men to seize Newport as a base for the British fleet. Clinton thought this was a mistake, and it is hard to disagree with his argument that those men and those ships, brought down to and around Cape May, and up the Delaware River, could have severely damaged, maybe destroyed Washington’s retreating army. But, orders were orders. Clinton took his men to Newport, captured it easily, and might as well have been on the moon as far as interfering with Washington’s army was concerned.

You know what happened next. Washington got across the river safely, with fewer than 5,000 men. Turned right around on Christmas Day, crossed the river, won two quick victories at Trenton and Princeton, and somehow Howe let him have most of New Jersey, with the Continentals wintering in Morristown.

And by then it was 1777, and the British had big plans involving Howe going up the Hudson River, Burgoyne coming down from Canada, and the two meeting triumphantly half way,  splitting New England off from the other nine colonies. We know how that worked out. Saratoga brought the French alliance, and the Americans were no longer fighting on their own.

How did you find this blog? Call 2

My thanks to those who answered these questions first time I posted them. To others, a request: Please consider answering. Your answer will add to the picture and, for all you know, help us make crucial decisions about its future.


Talking with my brother about the post-Frank future of this blog, we concluded that it would be worthwhile to know the answers  to a couple of questions.  Please, if you would, respond to the first two questions. If you wish to respond to the others as well, great,  but the first two are the more important.

The questions:

  1. How did you find this blog?
  2. Why do you read it?


  1. What do you get out of reading it?
  2. What features or materials do you wish were here that isn’t?


Smallwood on making pottery

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Joseph [Smallwood], my friend, what’s up with you? I’m trying to get your story out.

And trying your hand at made work again. Fun, ain’t it? [Joseph said in his day they called things that were fashioned “made work.”]

Did you do stuff like that? Clay or something?

Did a little wood working to pass the time sometimes. You’d call it somewhere between scrimshaw and whittling, I expect. Remember how you were fascinated by the book about the mountain man in Tennessee who made so many things out of wood?

Alex Stewart. Had to dredge for the name. Yes I do. Drew up resonances, did it?

Well, it did, a little. Whittling or cutting handy little contrivances for camp life is a different thing from throwing pots or painting but you can see that it has its points of resemblance.

I can feel it more than conceptualize it.

Sure, and where do you suppose that feeling is coming from, but something welling up from within ? It happens all the time, to everybody, but mostly it goes unnoticed. I mean, the cause does, the feeling is sometimes felt sometimes unnoticed.

I reviewed that book going on 20 years ago. It gave me vague yearnings to do the same thing, but I never acted on them, and knew somehow that it wasn’t practical.

You remember Dion Fortune says it’s enough for the subconscious that you “show willing” as she puts it? That’s why. It’s a sort of acknowledgment, a bringing that into the light of day. Hard to explain why it’s important but it is. It’s a good thing to do.

I’ve reached a nice time in my life.

You’re doing what you always felt, just like young Churchill practicing oratory or young Lincoln feeling his way towards doing the thing that would make his name immortal. I don’t mean that you’re going to be famous, I mean that your real task in life echoes through your earlier years although you can’t understand what the echoes are saying. Until you get to that place, you aren’t comfortable, then you are, even if that place is the middle of a war.

I guess I couldn’t have gotten here any earlier.

All paths are open, all paths are good, you know that. Everything has its compensation as Emerson pointed out. Win something here, you lose something there. It’s just the way it is.

Well, it’s always good to talk to you. Unless you have something special for me, I guess I’ll go hang out at the pottery and study glazes.

Go ahead. Just don’t forget what you want to accomplish with your books – but you would do better with them if you get away from them sometimes. And pottery is as good a way as any.

Inner travel, outer travel

On the one hand, it is true that, wherever you go, there you are. On the other hand, maybe not. It depends upon which “you” we’re talking about.

Physically, sure, you are where you are. But that doesn’t mean you’re all there in the same place and time, especially in the age of jet travel and electronic fragmentation (also known as staying in touch, also known as cell-phone hypnosis). What sense does it make to travel 6,000 miles and leave part of yourself elsewhere? Yet, it’s easier to do that than to realize you’re doing it.

And just as it is easier to live fragmented than whole, so it is easier to post photos of the things around us than photos of the inner processes that may take so much more of our time and attention. I certainly find it so.

I went to Egypt ostensibly in response to Ruth Shilling’s suggestion that I do so. But really, I went because something within me said, “Yes, and it’s the right time,” and subsequently proceeded to calmly demolish each internal and external objection as it arose. I can take a hint. I went. But did I go just to see the scenery? I did not. What I went for, though, is not so easily explained.

Like many people, I have lived most of my life fascinated by Egypt, intrigued by its past, and feeling somehow connected to it. One of the disembodied presences I have held communication with, these past 14 years, I call Joseph the Egyptian. I know his internal life, or fancy I do, but I know practically nothing about his external life except that he was almost definitely a priest of some sort. Until I went to Egypt, I assumed he was from earliest times, perhaps pre-Pharonic times. Now I feel confident he was New Kingdom sometime, because that was almost the only era I was interested in. Of course, New Kingdom covers quite a bit of time! But it’s closer to definite than I was previously.

But did I go to Egypt to converse, or imagine I could converse, with a man from long ago? I did not, and in fact I was wary of making any such attempt, well aware that it would be easy to fantasize something and thereby lose a real connection. Instead, I set out to remain open to whatever came, without attempting to add content or suppress content. A difficult bicycle to ride, sometimes.

So, I post photos. How could I post photos of internal processes?

Not a bad backdrop for lunch, eh?

Photos really don’t give you a sense of how close the pyramids and the sphinx are to the city. But our hotel looked right out at the great pyramid. This restaurant where we had lunch offered this view from the table we were sitting at. Hard to get much closer than that.

After centuries, still silently staring

You can’t really tell it from this photo (and my camera battery ran out about here, so no more pix till I could recharge it overnight), but there is scaffolding in front of the rear legs of the statue. The authorities appear to be smoothing the surface by something like plastering (though I doubt it is that simple). The plus side of that is that it should give tourists a better idea of how the sphinx was supposed to look. The minus said is that it will remove evidences of weathering by water, though perhaps that doesn’t matter, in that the phenomenon has been well documented by this point.

By the way, after Emerson visited Egypt as an old man of 69 in 1872, someone at home who presumably found his works incomprehensible joked that the Sphinx said to Emerson, “You’re another.”

Ancient, aging, and modern, cheek by jowl

I liked Egypt (though Cairo least, in that I am no fan of large cities). I so recognized, from my youth in another century, that patchwork effect that results from improvements being made here and there, as money and time allowed. It seems inefficient, but it isn’t, really. It is the proper application of energies in a situation in which you always have a quart’s worth of work to do, and a pint’s worth of time and materials to do it with. It is life on a very human scale.

And, just to move from the sublime to the ridiculous (except, I rather like it), this piece of sculpture was on display in our hotel lobby, a reminder that life goes on in all directions, and that some of the weirdest travels take place (apparently) between the ears.

Dark Fire — already in paperback!

To my surprise, Crossroad Press got Dark Fire into print much faster than I dreamed they would.

It’s live on Amazon in trade paperback now, as well as an eBook.