This book wasn’t written merely in the eight years from conception to printing, but in the lifetime that preceded the writing. So first I would like to acknowledge with gratitude all my teachers. Charlie Biddle, my first mentor, who taught me that “writers write to heal themselves” and that all writing is political. Thanks to Julia Cameron, whose book The Artist’s Way started me on the path of journaling some 7000 days of “morning pages” ago and without whose inspiration I may never have begun the journal that is the basis of this book.
Bows go to my primary Buddhist teachers. Pema Chödrön whose pre-school class I sang with each day at Pacific Primary School in San Francisco in 1974, and who introduced me to meditation and the love of children. Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche—translator, poet, way-shower. Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche for his clarity, wit, and insight. And a special thanks to Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, “You are like a candle.”
Deep bows of gratitude to Marilynne Chöphel who joined me on this journey in 2007 and who has been a constant source of inspiration and understanding ever since. One could not ask for a better collaborator. No one has a finer eye for detail or a keener sense of what was needed to be done to enhance our message. I am forever indebted to her trust and wisdom. Namaste Marilynne. I bow to the spirit in you!
I acknowledge the great contribution of our superb and exceptional editor Shoshana Alexander whose amazing vision is responsible for finding the thread that turned my journalings into the form and structure of this book. Shoshana, we could not have done it without you. You have taught us both so much.
My great appreciation to the men of the Lost and Found Men’s Council—Jeff, Bruce, Cory, Bill, Gill, and others come and gone. Also to the great progenitors of the “men’s movement” Robert Bly, James Hillman, Michael Meade, and Malidoma Patrice Somé. And to all men everywhere who lead “lives of quiet desperation,” may they be blessed to find such a meeting of men as we have found in our brotherhood. Thanks to brother Dean Chambers for your friendship, support, and strength.
Many thanks to Rachel Neumann and to her editorial staff at Parallax Press who believed in our healing message and assisted us in its publication. Likewise deep bows to all those who have taken the time to read our manuscript and shared in its vision with their endorsements.
A special thanks to my wife Amy M. Samuelson (AKA Samuelsoine) whose love, understanding, laughter, humor, beauty, impatience, and tenacity propelled me while I was immersed in this project. Amy is a fine writer in her own right and her brilliant insights have made my path clearer. I love you up to the sky and beyond.
My thanks and appreciation to all dogs everywhere. You are what Spencer Quinn calls “the nation within a nation.” Thank you Dizzy, Buddy, and Frisbee for just being you.
Finally, my eternal love and appreciation to you Larry – my brother/ my teacher. This book is a part of your legacy. May the healing go forth!
I bow with deep honor to Larry who has inspired this book that may offer a path to healing and well being for so many left behind.
With gratitude, I bow to the wisdom and compassion of Pema Chödrön, a primary spiritual teacher for many years. It was at her 2007 retreat, Practicing Peace in Times of War, where Robert Lesoine and I met and recognized a common ground from which to help ease the suffering that arises from great loss.
I am deeply grateful for Robert, his courageous heart, deep spirit, inspirational creativity, all embracing acceptance, and for the ease and grace of countless hours that we entered the current of unfolding truth, existential and spiritual exploration, and creative expression. We were blessed with the masterful editing of Shoshana Alexander, her clarity and wise perspective, gentle heart, spiritual depth, and dedication to healing. Both are courageous survivors, warriors of the heart, bodhisattvas of service, dear friends, and comrades on the path.
The sacred ground from which I have contributed to this book, has been inspired by many companions of the heart. The many clinical, spiritual, and life teachers and guides who have walked the path before me, stretched me beyond limits, inspired my awakening, and believed in me. Heartfelt gratitude for my clinical sangha, the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute faculty and colleagues, with whom I have walked through the trenches to learn the treatment of trauma from a ground of mindfulness, compassionate presence, and a reverence for the organic unfolding healing and wholeness of every being.
I bow with humble gratitude for the sacred honor of sitting at the edge of inquiry and discovery, at times at the edge of life and death, with countless clients and students through the years who have opened my heart and transformed my work with their courageous transformative journey of awakening to their deepest true nature and authentic expression.
The very ground from which I write and work and live is inspired by the vast teachings and practices of meditation and yoga that welcome what is, and transform through the mud to the lotus. And every day is blessed by a reverence and passion for the wilderness that welcomes the changing weather and seasons of life and always responds with wisdom and perspective and beauty.
I am forever grateful for my dearest friends who lovingly and consistently have held me through my losses and limitations, the lessons and transformations of body and life circumstances: Lee Ann Huntington, Linda Graham, Penee Field-Feinberg, Sue Mironer, Francine Lapides, Lynn Robinson, Dana Snyder, and many others who I have been blessed to sit with, learn from, grow and play with, and call my friends. I’m also grateful for the love and support of our Gourmet Poet Society visionaries and poets who for many years have inspired the poet and writer in me and shared in the joys of sensory delights.
I have been blessed to learn from a family whose wisdom and compassion meet the grit and joys of life with an all-embracing love. For my sister Bonnie Ross, who showed me the raw courage and determination to go on following the unbearable loss of her daughter, and to transform her despair into compassionate service to ease the similar suffering of so many others. For my niece Andrea Ross who taught me to love like there is no tomorrow, and her sisters Jennifer Johnson and Debra Oliver, who have grieved such traumatic loss and lived their hearts into love and laughter again. For my brother Randy Ballment, who teaches me acceptance and humor to gently embrace all the twists and turns that life brings. For my grandparents Leonard and Ruby Foss, who showed me the joys of loving passionately, and for my grandmother Ruby whose heart and hearth welcomed and loved all. For my father Norris Ballment, who believed in me. For my mother Eleanor Blanton, who gave me the precious gift of unconditional love that holds all and the joy of uncontained laughter that sets free the heart and lightens the spirit with whatever comes.
Most of all, with a smile and heart filled with love and gratitude, I humbly bow to my sons, Brian Moyers and Kevin Moyers, kind teachers and trusted companions on this life path. They have shown me the ease and power of integrity, dedicated leadership and service, great wisdom and joy, unshakable loyalty, and love that transcends all form.