The Lives We Live as Leaves


I have told this story many times, but I’m “feeling it” today.

One of my greatest life lessons came from a man named Mike Sullivan with whom I worked when I lived in Rhode Island. We worked for a boss that always expected you to cover his ass and make sure his work day would go smoothly. But that boss would always hang me and Mike out to dry and force us to fend for ourselves. The two of us often talked about how good a working relationship we had while in that environment.

One day, Mike said to me, “All we ever have is each other.” I asked him if he meant the two of us, looking out for each other while dealing with our shithead boss, or if he meant something larger, something greater–a bond connecting person to person on this mixed-up world.

He said, “Both.”

Those words will always resonate with me, and I hope to help them resonate with others I encounter, especially in times like the ones we face. The state of the one world we have, socially, politically, environmentally, and so on, is growing more and more precarious every day. We need to wise up, we need to care, and to support, and to love more. We need to build, to truly create lasting and meaningful connections with ourselves, our fellow beings, and our only source of life.  We must, before it’s too late.  Everything is connected.  We are all connected.

“All we ever have is each other.”


The Tree

The Tree of Life links everything,
And all the souls its branches spring,
Connected by such fibrous thread,
Swell by what each limb’s been fed.

The Tree of Life, it branches wide,
Connections growing at each side,
And when one sees the common boughs,
It’s limitless what growth allows.

The Tree of Life has many leaves;
Sometimes one falls, and someone grieves,
And though there will be growth again,
A gloom remains within the glen.

So many fruits sprout on this tree,
And some fulfill prosperity,
While others come to waste and rot,
And their branch ends in pitted knot.

So each bloom needs to see the ties
That bond each bud and to realize
That all we’ll have is other leaves
As every Life branch interweaves.

And as my own now ages on,
The truths that I have come upon
Have made me praise the leaves I see
Have helped me grow my own life’s tree.

© Jordan Alan Fox


Where Does the Responsibility End?

TaleOfThe Fox:

As I go about putting all the words from my last post into my daily living–still the goal–this is a painful reminder of why I may forgive the fans for putting “team loyalty” above “decency loyalty”, but I don’t know if I can forgive the “man” that performed these acts.

Originally posted on Ray the Vicktory Dog:


Vicktory Dog Cherry’s dad Paul had an interesting post this morning:

“As I sit waiting for Cherry to get xrays, blood work, and other treatment needed due to his time at Michael Vick’s property that will cost in the $500 range (for the umpteenth time); I read this…

“That last pass is going to haunt me for a long time,” Vick said

Not once ever has this man utter these types of words or lasting thoughts about the dogs he tortured and/or killed. Not once…

Rant over”

I don’t think people are aware of the cost which adoptive families incur when they take on one of these dogs.  Don’t get me wrong. Paul is not complaining about paying for medical care for his beloved family member.  We all knew what we were getting into when we took on former fighting dogs.  The anger comes from the fact that the dogs continue…

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Letting Go of an Anger That’s Consumed Me

405175_346201918794220_1807893270_nThis is a tale of heartache, anger, release, and personal growth for me….

“Yeah, fine, I killed the dogs. I hung them. I slammed them. I killed all of them. I lost fucking millions, all over some fucking dogs.” ~ Michael Vick (from the article that inspired this post, and here is the link:

This is why I have such a hard time with the topic of Vick and the NFL, even refusing to watch for two years. It’s why I have such a hard time forgiving the franchises that signed him and forgiving the fans that root for him and his teams despite his deeds. Just seeing that Eagles logo (which is everywhere since I’m in the Philadelphia area) would ignite my temper.  The worst for me was seeing people who claimed they were huge dog lovers but continued to support the team, even putting Eagles-themed merchandise such as collars and doggie tees on their pets.

I’m trying, though, really working to move past the anger and disgust and disbelief I have over the millions he’s been paid since, the status he’s been allowed to re-obtain, and the indifference of the owners and majority of fans. It’s been difficult to comprehend that six points on a billboard sponsored by Coors Light matter more to the majority of sports fans in this area than what’s right. It may always be a struggle for me, but I’m trying.

I can’t see ever forgiving Vick, though, for he has never shown himself to be remorseful for his actions. I may never forgive those that gave him the millions, either.

But I know that holding the anger I have had toward the fans isn’t hurting them one bit, I’ve just been hurting myself. I will still refuse to support the Eagles, and will not support the Steelers, the team I turned to when the Eagles signed Vick and for whom he now plays.

I am now pulling for the success of a third team, one that regularly faces the Eagles, because I value morality over entertainment, period. I know that I am not alone in this, but I also know that I am not able to make those not of my inclinations see it my way, either. If anyone is to ever come to share my values at all, they must come to that realization in their own time.

So in the meantime, I will work on letting that anger go.

It’s important to note that a story of the NFL paying for injury research performed on animals factored into my decision to no longer watch. This increased the volume of fire generated by my anger. I have to get over the rage from this as well, hoping that change can be made to stop this from happening.  There is a petition for exactly that at the end of this post. One thing that has come to my mind recently is that I haven’t refused to take medicines for my health despite knowing they were tested on animals in most cases.  Again, I can can only work and hope others join me to stop this.

So in light of this, I watched football last night, my first game in years, rooting for the Giants, a team that has no known sexual or domestic assailants, child abusers, murderers, or horrific torturers of man’s best friend. Some have said that I “caved” or that I “couldn’t back up my convictions.”

But I know that’s not the case. I know what’s in my heart, and I know how deeply and strongly my convictions run. I know that this is me trying to move past an anger, an obsession even, that has only hurt myself and not the objects of my disdain. It’s therapeutic for me to attempt this. I tried watching a game last year, but once I saw that Eagles logo on the field and the fans in the stands, I had to turn the game off. The rage and disgust started brewing instantly. I don’t know if I’ll ever hold the same love of the game, have the same emotional investment in it that I used to. But I need to write a new page, for my own sake. I have to make peace with the things I cannot change, because I’ve damaged the innermost parts of me by setting emotional fires everywhere I could. My compromise is that I will not purchase anything which feeds the revenue stream of the league.  If I choose to replace a hat or t-shirt, etc., I will buy something used or something older off of ebay, which is actually a conscientious thing to do anyway. It’s a form of recycling.

As for Vick himself, I can only hope I’m wrong about his apparent lack of humanity, humility, and compassion. And as for those teams by whom he’s been employed since and the fans in question, they don’t want or need my love, nor do they care about my beliefs and principals. I’m going to have to learn to be fine with that.

The petition to stop the animal injury testing:


Awesome anti-dogfighting video (don’t worry, it’s not graphic):


Where you can purchase the “Pits Over Points” shirt shown above:

I Am. I Can. I Shall.

images (1)A friend of mine recently introduced me to a weekly Buddhist meditation group.  The attendees get together, and we have two silent twenty-minute sitting meditation sessions with a ten-minute walking meditation between them.  After the second sitting meditation, we recite some Buddhist philosophies and have an open discussion.

Meditation isn’t something that is natural to me.  I’m a high-strung, hot-headed, anxiety-carrying, self-doubting dude.  My brain never stops obsessing over minutiae of all the things in my life, over possible outcomes of different scenarios, over money and bills, over the wrongs of the world, over all the things I need to do.  I also constantly berate myself inwardly for not living up to the high standards, especially moral ones, that I have placed for myself.  Attempting to be “quiet” inside is a challenge.

I’ve been told that you can’t control having thoughts during meditation, but that when you catch yourself thinking about something in particular, you acknowledge to yourself that you had the thought, but not entertain that thought.  You must let it go.  It has been described to me as watching a train come to a stop in front of you.  You know it’s there, but you don’t have to board. 

Last Sunday night, one such thought came to me during the first meditation session.  The thought was six simple words:  “I am.  I can.  I shall.”  While I was supposed to be thinking of nothing, I was writing this blog post in my head.  But I will gladly accept inspiration whenever and wherever it comes, so I don’t mind having boarded this train. 

As I mentioned above, I’m an individual plagued by serious self-doubt, and self-affirming statements are an uncommon occurrence.  But there it was.  I am.  I can.  I shall. 

I wrote a poem in 2009, which was a bit of wishful thinking in rhyming form, and even as I was writing it, I wondered whether it was something I could actually enact myself, actually make real.

                              At Peace  

                   Peace from all the voices,

                   Peace from crushing noise,

                   Peace from inner rumbling

                   That mania employs- 

                   I seek way through the river,

                   I’ve turbulence inside.

                   I yield too much to chaos;

                   Within, my thoughts collide.

                   I pray to God and Buddha,

                   To divinities that may be,

                   To help me find the hidden path

                   To a peaceful reverie,

                   To be placid as still water,

                   To rest when things seem grim,

                   To endure as does the oak

                   Despite the weather’s whim.

                   As a rock amidst the rapids,

                   Though buffeted, still prevailing;

                   It’s time I learned to simply live

                   With all that Life’s entailing.

                   Too long at war inside my mind

                   (Often war begets no peace),

                    I become as stone and waters pass

                    ‘Til the voices simply cease….

Lines from this poem also ran through my head while meditating. 

There was a time after my separation from my wife when I would constantly wallow in depression, and I would try to pull myself out of it by repeating the word “endure” to myself.  It was like a lifeline that I threw to myself.  I’m not in the state I was at that period of my life anymore.  So perhaps it’s time I had a new mantra, not one to help me simply survive, but one to help me grow.

Will I ever find a greater level of inner peace, be in a better mental place with reduced anxiety and fear and greater self-assurance?  Will I be the better person I strive to be?

I suppose my meditating mind already answered that.

I am.  I can.  I shall.

images (2)

Our Words: “With Great Prowess Comes Great Responsibility”

6275825-a-pile-of-reference-books-isolated-against-a-white-backgroundI have a friend who said to me, “Words are powerful things.”  It was quite some time ago, but I believe I was saying something hurtful at the time.  And, as a writer (one of my few true skills), I had the ability to make my words really sting.

I’ve heard that there are studies in which the power of words was tested by saying “I love you” and “I hate you” to dishes of freezing water to see if there was any effect.  Reportedly, the ‘loved’ samples made beautiful crystalline formations, and the ‘hated’ samples made very fractured-looking structures.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I DO know what words can do to a person.

It’s rather hypocritical of me to be hurtful with my words, since I can still remember the things that were said to me as a child by my peers.  And let’s not talk about adolescence.  It’s because of that lingering pain that I have felt the need to amp up my words into a full-blown arsenal when I feel slighted.  It’s the desire to one-up the other and dish out more than you’ve received.

Words are indeed powerful things, and just as I’ve seen the hurt I can cause and have been caused, I’ve seen what KIND words can do and what my own have done for others.  I’ve had someone very important to me tell me how I always seem to say the right thing, the best, most perfect thing to help them stay grounded in that moment and maintain perspective.  You know what?  I like the feeling it gives me to have THAT effect on someone better than the scarring one.

I’ve mentioned a few times in this blog that I’m in a couple writers’ groups.  We ALL have this power, and ALL have this responsibility.  Even if you’re not a writer, the pain that words can cause can still last.  I’m sure the people that hurt me from childhood and on weren’t exactly Shakespearean in their verbal skill.  So may we all bear in mind the power of words, and pause before we do some damage to someone, because oftentimes that damage lasts far longer than it took to even speak.

Words: “With Great Prowess Comes Great Responsibility”   


Someone once said to me, “Words are powerful things”.

They can be used to help, or to hurt, an array that each one brings.

I’ve used my words in scathing ways, cutting deeply as I could;

I’ve also used them to let one know their pain is understood.

     I hope that when my time is up, what’s left when mine are heard

     Is something benevolent and sincere or else be deemed absurd.

     May others feel the light of love that’s hopefully interred

     Every time, from here on out, within my every word.

I have a gift to use my words in all the ways I do;

I’ve often been praised for all the shapes that I can mold them to.

But I must revere that power that I know they each contain,

Remember all the times they’re used, intent to cause one pain.

     May each sentence that I share leave no darkness that’s inferred,

     And if I fail in that regard, leave the recipient undeterred.

     Unless productive, taking flight like a paradisiacal bird,

     May no harm and only help be born by every word.

© Jordan Alan Fox 


Geek Chic

IMG_1903I guess you’d say I was a late bloomer; I hung onto my childhood vices of reading comics, watching and reading science fiction films, programs, and books, and playing role-playing games well through high school and into my 20s.  In fact, I’m not a great artist, but I’m above average, and I credit comic books for teaching me most of what I know about drawing and anatomy.  But this was something you didn’t divulge back then in the ’80s and ’90s….unless you wanted to be even more publicly ostracized than you likely already were and make those teenage years of being an artistic geek rather than a football player even more of a living Hell.

Flash forward 15 years, and I was driving past the comic shop I used to frequent, and, out of a sense of nostalgia, I picked up some comics to read while on vacation. The next thing I knew, I was back to reading them regularly.

The difference is that now the universe has turned on its ear, and geek culture is about as mainstream as anything can possibly get.  There are gym rats working out in Captain America t-shirts, adult-sized hoodies that look like superhero costumes, sci/fi and superhero movies are the hugest box office hits, and people don’t think twice about any of it.  Target, Old Navy, and various stores at the mall sell Star Wars and comic book t-shirts, hats, and accessories.  Somehow, inexplicably, even the British cult television show Dr. Who has made a major surge into American popular culture and acceptability.   Would a show like Big Bang Theory have had such popularity and such an impact on merchandizing 20 years ago?  Would Game of Thrones be the best thing on T.V., viewed, discussed, and anticipated by so many?  I can’t honesty see either as having happened, but somehow escapist fantasy has taken over.  It’s so weird to see the things for which I worried about getting beaten up becoming ‘the new black’, to see Geek Chic become the norm.

But I want to be clear that I’m not too bitter about this development.  I think it’s wonderful to be able to wear an Iron Man t-shirt, or say that I loved Guardians of the Galaxy, without being looked at as an immature man-child.  It’s relieving to see things I’ve enjoyed for most of my life finally becoming something everyone loves.  There are folks that like to play at being some rebel, liking a band when hardly anyone knows them, but resenting that band once they achieve a measure of success.  I think that’s a pretty pathetic mindset, and I won’t have that attitude about the Realm of All Things Nerdy opening its portals to the masses.  I instead choose to rejoice in the fact that my childhood and teenage loves got their due.  I even got back into the role-playing games 2 years ago, and hardly anyone bats an eye when we meet in the food court at Wegman’s to play.

I suppose that it’s all because Star Wars as a franchise has thrilled so many despite the terrible ‘prequels’.  Or maybe it was that, as later generations picked up on the Star Wars franchise, they also had their imaginations piqued by Harry Potter, the fantastically written and portrayed series (I consider it the Star Wars for their time).  Maybe it’s just the fact that so many of the superhero movies are so entertaining.  Perhaps it’s because of a major confluence of all these things, and more.

I’m not sure how it happened; I’m just glad it did, that things I’ve enjoyed for most of my life are finally getting their due and being enjoyed by so many.  I love that NERD is the word, and that GEEK is chic.  You know what?  Maybe this means that I was actually an early bloomer after all….