Past to Present

After some months of work, the new version of my blog is fully updated and running, with some new additions, links and images. This new format allows for (and encourages!) comments, including for all posts that go back to 2014. And it’s a more welcoming interface for newcomers particularly. (Please note that I am no longer posting on social media platforms.) It also allows for printing and forwarding individual posts, something that some of you have asked for. My hope is to generate more conversations, including questions and new observations you may have about any posts from past to present. Your queries and comments also help to guide me toward specific subjects I can respond to and address on this blog.

During this extended period of time when it’s not possible to come together in a public event, I do hope that the themes and conversations we’ve shared are still pertinent and alive and helpful. In that spirit, below are links to a few old posts, which I feel are particularly relevant these days. I hope these provide some solace, relief and encouragement until we’re able to see each other in person. I’m keeping my eyes open for the chance to lead a public event soon, which I hope is possible within the next months. My appreciation for your continuing participation in my work, and I look forward to hearing from you.


A Great Conversation

Human Endeavor

Sublime Precision

11 Comments Add yours

  1. trueblue says:

    Thank you reinventing the blog as you have, and for offering some real, free and therapeutic handholds to make this pandemic time more livable, sane and connected. And thank you for the invitation to bring questions to the table.

    To your comment about your no longer posting on social media platforms – I’ve found social media increasingly exhausting with the mass of ads and scams, which has only gotten worse. In contrast to social media platforms, the platform you’ve created is clean and seems conducive to deep listening, something that seems virtually impossible to find online these days. It seems that the pace and actual structure of social media (emojis, likes, hashtags, no fact checks before posts are made) guides or leans one towards communication that is more reactive, less nuanced and more opinion-based. I wonder what trends you see in how people in the Western world communicate now versus before social media became popular? Is there any good news there?

    On a separate point, with the various lockdowns and social restrictions over this last year, I’ve understood how you’ve been forced to pause live events. To quote the great Joni Mitchell:
    “Don’t it always seem to go
    That you don’t know what you’ve got
    Till it’s gone.”
    I miss the ebb and flow of seminars, like seasons of the year – the chance to reconnect with the bigger picture of why we’re here and why I’m here, share something real with quality people, and come out revived. So, although we’re in a kind of hibernation now, please know that threads are still alive.

    1. “It seems that the pace and actual structure of social media…guides or leans one towards communication that is more reactive, less nuanced and more opinion-based. I wonder what trends you see in how people in the Western world communicate now versus before social media became popular.”

      Yes, I see similar traits driven by social media in general…”more reactive, less nuanced and more opinion-based.” Perhaps more grave than these is the mental and emotional toll of constantly fragmented incompletion – the time between perception and reaction is so brief that no subject is really engaged beyond a casual glimpse, and then move on to the next one. This rhythm of communication sets in motion a similar dynamic within one’s own personal thoughts (and emotions) that continues on, a kind of incessant internal fidgeting that sets up deeper agitation, depression and heightened superficial reactivity in general. Few people seem to notice that the corralling of emotional choices out of the thousands of combinations we actually have ( into five or seven given options to a post is a form of training the mind (and heart) to be rigidly trivial. None of that is free, because such patterns establish themselves as methods for how we then engage anything (even while sitting quietly in front of something or someone we really care about).

      “Trends”…are not limited to the Western world. China and India are first and second in social media use. In general, though, I have noticed a significant drop over recent years in people’s ability to hold with interest (and capability) particularly challenging and controversial subjects. Something that innately takes 10 or 15 minutes to begin to comprehend the complex foundation of a subject is less tolerated than it has been, say, when I began giving workshops 40 years ago or even 20 years ago. And I think obsessive rapidity with technology in general, and social media specifically, is at least partly responsible for this. As the great educator, Ken Robinson ( ) mentioned, “The World Health Organization estimates that by 2020 the second largest cause of illness among human populations, and disability, will be depression. That’s an extraordinary state of affairs, isn’t it?” A large part of that is about not being able to identify deeper existential questions we have (and the emotions and thoughts that spring forth from those), including what’s in the way of being happy or what one is depressed about, which require a longer, slower, more comprehensive evaluation than a few seconds of reactive triviality. If we are not able to look at something long enough to see and feel into its nature and origins, we are left to the simplified distractions and opinions that will inevitably perpetuate frustration, anxiety and disappointment…and not really know why.

      I like and appreciate your perspectives and bringing a sincere question into this arena.

      1. trueblue says:

        You said, “Perhaps more grave than these is the mental and emotional toll of constantly fragmented incompletion – the time between perception and reaction is so brief that no subject is really engaged beyond a casual glimpse, and then move on to the next one.” I hadn’t considered that before, but it particularly struck a note for me when I read and reread it. Absolutely, though… Also appreciated is your link to the article about our 34,000 emotions. How we can morally justify narrowing that comfortably down to 4 or 5 is another question on its own. Darrell, many thanks for your reply and taking my question seriously.

  2. Raphael says:

    If I may, I would like to take this opportunity to show my profound gratitude for the inspiration, joy, questioning, support your blog has provided these last few years. You have quietly held a free space that no one else is holding and that no doubt requires a lot more preparation, research and devotion than meet the eyes.
    I always enjoy your “care full” art and the unique music of our conversations.
    I especially love the way you creatively surprise me or take the time to assemble things that don’t always seem to be connected or simply show us a way to look at things from a very different angle of perception which is so important to find true resolution.
    I also love rereading old posts (and bravo on the new beautiful inviting look) it is sometimes like coming back in time to an unfinished mikado but now I can see what I didn’t see at the time, hear what I couldn’t hear then and possibly get a second chance (if needed be!) to quietly and gracefully get my stick out of that gorgeous messy bundle without a sound…

    1. Thank you for your affirming, appreciative comments. I’m encouraged to know that some of these offerings have value, including being worthy to return to over time.

      And nice touch in getting in there and making a gesture to get a stick off the big pile, which hopefully will give some freedom to others to make a move themselves (if not here, somewhere else). One great metaphor in that Mikado exercise is how our inevitable interconnectedness (anywhere) calls for a careful gesture to unlock an opportunity for someone else. That can place an uncomfortable pressure, for sure, but it’s how things start to open and evolve. Your voice in the larger conversation over time is definitely appreciated.

  3. J.R. says:

    I could echo much of the gratitude expressed already for the idea of this blog and the work behind its realization. There is a long history online-based queries and conversations leading up to it with the Newsletter and versions of the Forum that have been incredible sources of personal wonder and inspiration for years.

    Someone mentioned “hibernation” now, and I have noticed that symptom from the social isolation within this global health crisis…it seems with everyone. I have been communicating less across the board, although I know human connection is more valuable in times of struggle. So, thank you for this timely gesture to that purpose.

    The subject of compassion has been a significant conversation in events over the years. Reading the chapters on compassion in your last book, ‘In the Midst of Things,’ has given me a deeper appreciation for how complex the subject is. Recently, I’ve been wrestling with understanding the differences between sympathy, empathy and compassion. I realize that what I take for “compassion” is likely empathy at best.

    I work as an elementary school teacher (now all online) and am submerged in what you described previously as compassion burnout. I have poured everything I have into my students, personally closing gaps where our public school policies fall short (no support for student or family mental or emotional wellbeing), and I can see a real difference for my students. Perhaps my burnout is from reaching my limit of empathy rather than compassion. My question is: At some point could you talk more about the differences between sympathy, empathy and compassion?

    1. You’ve brought up a worthy question that I think may be relevant to a wider public, so look for my response in the next blog post here.

  4. Paul McGrane says:

    Thank you very much for this new and updated Blog site. I find it extremely inviting and accessible and everything about it suggests that those “some months of work” you engaged in, were extremely demanding and I appreciate this work you’ve undertaken.

    I love the design. The style. The layout. The colors. The Art work and imagery specifically and carefully chosen. The sensibility of (if I may be so bold) ‘sacredness’ that it elicits. It is classy and classical. It feels like a Temple of sorts where one has the opportunity to communicate, converse, contemplate, meditate, opine, observe or simply learn. I feel as if I should metaphorically remove my shoes and hat before I enter. It inspires in me a reverence and a respect for it’s contents, it’s participants and it’s visitors.

    I also appreciate your decision to avoid Social Media sites. For all those necessary reasons that you’ve illuminated. I like the fact that one has to make a specific decision and then undertake a ‘specific journey’ to visit this Blog, rather than just happening upon it during the browsing and scrolling of these times. I think it can encourage a visit with purpose, even if that purpose is just to observe.

    Plus the fact that we can go back many years to revisit and respond to previous entries, thoughts and sentiments. The amount, variety and quality of the content contained within this Blog is astonishing. It is heartwarming and life affirming. It is simply a Library for the Ages. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Paul, for such an enthusiastic, thoughtful, articulate and generous response to this project. It is encouraging to know that you like the details you’ve mentioned and that it hits the right underlying notes in terms of context and content. I especially appreciate you taking the extra time and care to express precisely what your experience of it is, which gives me some definite guiding stepping stones for future consideration. As you suggest, the hope is to provide something that will be worthy of being around for awhile and coming back to. Your own voice here helps to create more of a conversation rather than a static monologue, which was a key part of my original vision. Much appreciation…and more to come…

    2. J.R. says:

      Thank you for the inspiration, Paul. It could serve as a guiding force as to how to undertake any “specific journey” with generosity and personal presence.

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