By my standards,
The water was slippery today.
I’d brag if I had done something,
But the truth is modesty
Should be a bigger part of egos.
If only the same could be realized
In places like, well, everywhere.
So I’ll keep my swim low key,
Right where it should be
As rocks very nearly move faster
Than I do.

“It seemed to exist only to maintain itself.” Joan Didion

Decisions are hard to make
Especially when feelings, egos, and basketball are concerned.
There’s enough alpha in these guys that they think,
Just maybe, they might become LeBron or Stephen,
So it hurts when they hear something different.

I learned coaching girls earlier this year
That there is something more to games than
Winning or losing and the sports are not coached,
People are.
That’s what makes a day like to today so difficult.

Hopefully, the guys not making the team
Understand the reasons why; we talked.
Hopefully, they will take on the next step of their journeys
With basketball in mind and resilience overriding
A temporary set back.

Ego is a heavy suitcase to carry.
Reputation is nothing but a ball and chain.
Escaping the clutches of either
Requires knowing that to become unburdened
Is to give up control.

THE THOUGHT OF CONTROL…
THE ENERGY OF CONTROL…

All of it…

Ego is a burden because it distorts,
Bending perceptions like overly ripe bananas
That sway out of the peel,
Full of suggestion, a temptation to weaker minds.

Reputation is a drag because it shackles,
Leaving a soul stuck in opinion
Where the judge and jury are governing over
Perspective, misconception, and thinking set in mortar.

Together, ego and reputation form “ER,”
The universal sound of frustration.
Both must be jettisoned,
Pushed far away from our reach
If “WE” are ever to reach our full potential.

Quotes are taken from “The Fifth Discipline,” by Peter Senge.

9

“You can have your cake and eat it too—but not at once…”

Power gets things done
Ego thrives from power’s seed
Separate beds, please

10

“Dividing an elephant in half does not produce two small elephants…”

Politicians know
Ideology divides
Duels end badly

11

“There is no blame…”

Meaningless voting
Trees pushed over by high winds
Sometimes things happen

All quotes are from, “The Fifth Discipline,” by Peter Senge.

5

“The cure can be worse than the disease…”

Like yearly flu shots
Voting inoculations
Don’t protect us well

6

“Faster is slower…”

Right time to get there?
Neither quickly nor “slothly”
Be there when it’s time

7

“Cause and effect are not closely related in time and space…”

Trees stand forever
Until their insides give way
Rot doing them in

8

“Small changes can produce big results—but areas of the highest leverage are often the least obvious…”

Leaders, look within
Decide while understanding
Ego is second

Quotes are taken from “The Fifth Discipline,” by Peter Senge.

1

“Today’s problems come from yesterday’s solutions…”

Obama was hope
The latest to lead us back
Look what that got us

2

“The harder you push the harder the system pushes back…”

Sure straw will give in
Right before the camel’s back.
Chaos does both in

3

“Behavior grows better before it gets worse…”

Keeping makeup on
Presents emperors as nice
He can change quickly

4

“The easy way out usually leads back in…”

Simple stays simple,
Eyes focused stay bright and clear.
Washington, D.C.?

Allen looked at Frank with a skeptical eye. “Who’s watching?”

Frank answered carefully, “At the retreat Ralph Hanby asked me to keep an eye on things. He wanted to know stuff about the high school.”

“Ralph Hanby? The same Ralph Hanby who…” started Allen.

“Who what, Allen?”

Sometimes our mouths get ahead of our judgment. Allen’s mouth had rushed far ahead of his thinking. He nearly said that Ralph Hanby had been the board member who forced Allen to send Frank to counseling. Because of his position on the school board, Hanby had access and authority to get what he wanted from the school district. Most board members respect their position, but Hanby recognized opportunity and felt emboldened by his power.

Allen decided to tell Frank. “It was Hanby who complained about you to Dr. Russell. He wanted you to be fired, but Dr. Russell stuck by your side.”

“Stuck by my side? Right. A girl makes up a story and I end up going to counseling. It was humiliating.”

“Better than getting fired,” joked Allen.

“Allen, I swear to you, I never asked her about her birth control. She offered up that she was using it so that she could miss class. I let her go to study hall and then I asked her guidance counselor what was going on. Her guidance counselor was the one who called the parents. Not me. I did nothing wrong.”

“I believe you, Frank, but Hanby was putting the clamps on Dr. Russell because his daughter who is a friend with the girl said you asked her if she was taking birth control. Dr. Russell had to do something to get Hanby to back down.”

Frank shook his head. For all the talk of the school district being a community and family, Frank’s experience had been that of a disowned child. The experience felt like a chunky rock being dropped on his foot. The pain radiated, but eventually went away. The memory, however, was recorded deeply in his ability to believe anything that was said about how the teachers, administration, and community were all in this education thing together. Hanby was a roadblock to Frank feeling trust in school again.

“Well, it would seem to me that if he didn’t get me fired and that’s what he really wanted, revenge might be on his mind. You and Dr. Russell let him down. Since he probably thinks I would rat you guys out, he came to me for dirt to use against you. I’d say his is doing more than watching.”

Allen was used to being the conniving one. Being on the defensive was something knew for him. He liked to think that he was the offensive person in most social situations, something Frank would have agreed to, but in this case he was caught off guard. There had been rumblings that the board was dissatisfied with the achievement gap between the lower socioeconomic groups and the upper crust kids. There was also a growing frustration in the community about the lack of success with the sports teams. He wondered if these could be reasons for Hanby to approach Frank. He also wondered if it was worth engaging Hanby at all.

“So what are you going to do, Allen,” asked Frank.

“Probably, nothing.”

“Are you going to say something to your girlfriend?”

“I don’t have a girlfriend?”

Frank chuckled, “I mean, Dr. Russell.”

“Do you think Hanby would go after her? Should I say something to her?”

“Allen, you do what you want, but I think Hanby is only thinking about Hanby. He wants to present himself as a community minded person. He has shown that he only thinks for the things that benefit his kids or his close friends. You need to make sure you account for every invoice, keep all of the chrome polished, and figure out how to make this PIOUS thing seem like a true innovation.”

“Or what?” asked Allen.

“Looks like counseling for you, son. I know a place with great rates.”

“Yes you do,” said Allen. “Will you keep me in the loop if Hanby gets back to you?”

“Sure, but I’m playing both sides. I may even talk to the union just in case. I don’t feel good about this.”

Allen extended his hand to Frank, “Deal and I agree with you. Something isn’t right.”

Frank shook Allen’s hand and said, “I wish I could just teach.”

I

Willful confidence
Endears egos with mettle
Creating false truths,
So it is for the unchecked
Who think letters mean something

II

A want of nothing
Lets change come naturally
To peaceful seekers
Who adapt to everything
Like it is nothing at all

After his dramatic night, Rory was unprepared for the avalanche awaiting him on Scotland Street. He punched a reporter, was arrested, and ordered to therapy. The judge allowed Rory to choose any therapist in Williamsburg, so he chose “E. Spernanza” who had a progressive practice on Merrimac Trail. Rory had always been intrigued by the store front. The rectangular sign was blank and turned on end. Flyers in the Val-Pak said that the clinic practiced “Disappearance Therapy.” Rory made his appointment.

As a teen, Rory had spent night alone in the clinic when it was a chiropractor’s office. The doctor allowed Rory bring a bunch of cassettes in for high speed dubbing. Today, the office was far beyond anything than it had been before. There were three horseshoes hanging upside down. They symbolized holding onto nothing. Two ninja suits hung on the wall, which would be used for an eastern styled confessional. A plain wooden coffin sat in the corner.

E. Spernanza entered the room and stared at Rory. Once they were friends, but that was a lifetime ago for both. Rory would fight the image of his old friend freaking out at a college party. E. Spernanza would say nothing of the event.

“Let us begin,” said E. Spernanza. He hit play on a cassette player and sounds of Grouper’s “Made of Metal” began playing. E., began chanting a line from Dolly Parton’s “Romeo.”

“‘Cause he’s got that special thang…, ‘Cause he’s got that special thang…”

The doctor’s assistant came out and put a cutting board before Rory with a bowl of olives.

“Pinch the olives, but don’t break them. Make a pile of pimentos to the side. When you are done you will know patience.”

Rory pinched. He touch became better. He felt calm.

The assistant came back with the ninja gear. Rory undressed and she helped him into the gear. E. Spernanza and Rory knelt before each other and stared through the caged masks.

“Rory, why you are here?” asked E. Spernanza.

“I slugged a reporter.”

“What brought that rage, Rory?”

“He had his damn camera in my face.”

“No, it was your ego. You drank the Kool-Aid thinking you are something. Release that part of your ego and continue your work.”

The assistant helped Rory out of the suit and led him to the coffin.

“Go in and listen. He will end your egotistical romance,” she said.

Rory stepped into the coffin. Grouper was playing again.

E. Spernanza spoke over the music, “You are a Spartan warrior, but the Spartan utopia is a mirage. No place is perfect. No man is perfect. We are good and bad. You cannot be enamored with yourself. You must be subtle. Thoughts of celebrity must disappear, “cause you’ve got the special thang.”

The music continued and Rory meditated. He saw simplicity and envisioned himself doing the little things. Ego is not necessary. He would go back to being a simple pilgrim.

Rory stepped out of the coffin reborn.