John Michael

Life Is a Sweet, Tender Bruise IX

John Michael continues his series, reflecting on life and people encountered, with three new stories about being genuinely happy, thoughts about heaven, and liking the quiet.


Love Yourself, Folks

I was at the Mystic Cafe tonight for the open mic and I was being my normal charming self. Doing the best I could to make others around me feel comfortable and happy.

A while back I had the thought, Always there for others, like maybe that was not the best way to be in the world. Which took me off guard, because that is something I actually pride myself on.

I am not much on jargon and the phrase “New Age” has become an overused, maybe now meaningless, term. But if a New Age is to be born, the old one must die. I imagine it is the same for individuals. What I do know, based on my long, long, long healing journey is this: If you want to unite with God or become enlightened, so to speak, anything in your personality that is based on fear or is used as protection eventually has to die.

Now, I am aware of me trying to keep my true heart or my true self hidden from people, and maybe more acutely so with women. Each person has their own journey and we all do as we will and as we can.

In a family that was rarely happy … well, for them to see me unhappy, made them unhappy. So, I tried to always be happy so that they would be happy with me. At some point, I just learned to bury my grief and provide a bright and happy face for all the world to see. Well, not only is that a false protective self, it is fucking exhausting.


How unhappy you become trying to keep another happy.


So, I am going to resist cheering people up for a while, feel and process my repressed grief and rage as it comes up, and enjoy the things I enjoy doing. If my family and friends are not happy, me trying to cheer them up may actually help to bury what they are feeling.

Maybe I secretly thought that if those around me were unhappy, that it was somehow my fault, and also, you know, we all have a genuine wanting for those we love to be happy.

I came up with a new Metaphysic down at the Cafe as I was panicking watching my personality dissolve into the ethers: How unhappy you become trying to keep another happy.

The goal, of course, is to be a genuinely happy person. To be happy being sad and happy being angry on occasion knowing that they are temporary and passing. If we don’t feel safe to feel certain emotions and they get buried, well, that is what can make our beautiful world look bleak and even scary.

Love yourself, folks, allow God to love you, and know that things may feel panicky and fearful but true healing is a journey with a happy ending.


Heaven Arises Only When

I love affection more than any other thing this world has to offer. I do not come from an affectionate family and I don’t think the American culture is comfortable overall with affection.

My crown chakra, to use a spiritual term, has been well connected to God since my seventh year on the streets. However, every other energy center was filled with repressed emotion, shame, guilt, hate, anger, grief, etc.

I have had a very emotional fall and winter, letting go of things that no longer suit me. I have had a couple of dark nights of the soul the last couple of nights.

You get molested, then you feel like you have to hide it. And on top of that, just normal male sexual insecurity and some good fun Christian guilt. Well, let’s just say I have been viciously attacking myself for any sexual feelings that may arise in me. My main prayer subconsciously is, Just please, God, just make it go the fuck away, sex that is.

I have experienced crying jags, rage moments, and pure panic trying to open that center of my body again. Sex is related to pleasure and I even punish myself for enjoying a cigarette, a bath, or a novel.


Heaven arises only when you feel you are worthy.


Ultimately, I want to work from the heart, but to also allow for pleasure. It is amazing to me that an instrument so capable of peace, joy, love, and affection as the heart can also produce such shame, rage, fear, and grief.

I learned self-reliance on the streets and pride myself in that somewhat. But I had a very vulnerable moment seeing and admitting I need other people’s help and, maybe more important, company.

Well, after these dark nights I am much lighter and emotionally free today, but honestly still a little shaky. One of my big fears on the streets was that I would not be allowed into heaven, heaven is within as Christ tells us, and honestly, I get a whiff of it now and again. I entered for just a minute this morning as I was having my first cigarette. I heard the thought, You are welcome here.

Well, if this old sinning hobo is allowed into heaven, most certainly you are as well. I wrote a Metaphysic a while back: Heaven arises only when you feel you are worthy. Despite all the hells we put ourselves through, Christ has a sweet affectionate home for all of us, right here while we are still breathing.


I Am Starting to Like the Quiet

An old carpenter used to show up at the ranch in Weippe, I think his name was Chet Paffille. I remember his white coveralls, white painters hat, and white hair. He had a kind presence I was drawn too. He would give me some putty to play with as he went about repairing window panes, or whatever he was working on.

There was some angst living at the ranch as my mom and dad could not escape each other and my brother and I could not escape the storm between them. Chet seemed to be able to shut out the world around him and go about his business in a very calm manner.

I am sure we spoke, but I honestly don’t remember talking to him; just hanging out and playing while he did things. His presence assuring me that things were calm somewhere.

A lot of my dreams are surfacing and I am not sure if I was interested in carpentry or just like it because a man I admired did it for a living. I am just now understanding that I felt rejected by my father as a kid. I don’t know why it is occurring to me now, but there is certainly some grief behind that thought. Regardless, I love my dad who has made some real strides in emotional life. But what I allowed it to do was suck out any confidence from my life. The confidence is being restored and I am taking more risks in areas that I used to think were beyond me, like music and painting.

I am starting to like the quiet. I experience it after dancing around my place, painting, or writing. The idea of a calm life is starting to feel realistic. To have a studio out back and a shop for building things is appealing. I just remembered Chet used to whittle toys for me and my brother. I honestly can’t remember what they were, but I remember being excited to get them.

But, you know, to make something with my hands for children and to be a calm presence for kids in distress, not a bad life I should think.


John Michael

Hello, good people. I am rarely sure how to describe myself. If I say I am a Christian, many things may arise in your mind that ain't necessarily so. I was homeless for seven years and learned more about myself in that stretch of time than in any other segment of my life. I read the Bible a lot out there and came across a passage in Proverbs that has shaped my approach to life: "A man's pursuit is his kindness." I am well educated with a Master of Social Work degree and have worked a wide variety of jobs in my 52 years. None have lasted too long however. When I was homeless, the beauty of Texas wildflowers made me decide to want to live again. Along with kindness, beauty, play, and self-expression are life-guiding ideas. My shadow contains things like feeling sorry for myself, a truckload of defiance, a desperate need to please women, and no small amount of cruelty. A quote from Luke also has had a lasting effect on me: "For God is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." When I read that I thought, "Hell, I have got a fighting chance." I am here to tell you, you have a fighting chance as well. Besides Christianity, practicing Buddhist and Shamanic techniques inform my relationship to God and the world.

Related posts