Offering A Life
"L'il Maxie" in St. Louis at 2, and 50 years later at
Whirlwind is as good a name as any to give more than 5 1/2 decades of human sensations, thoughts, feelings, words, actions, memories, intuitions, inspirations, desires and transformations.
Today I'm a 58 year-old man, living in the Bay Area of northern California. It often seems to me that a door opened around the time of my 21st birthday— age of "manhood"— that I'm still walking through it. It's been a life of wonder and horror. In retrospect, wonder predominates and keeps me going, imbuing me with a persistent need to try to share its glorious, silent, inexpressible essence. That accounts for the profusion of poems, stories,children's stories, paintings, prose pieces, humorous prose, jokes, original songs, and photos that you will find on these pages.
Life is beauty, joy, and suffering. Let us look on the suffering as "work"..."the labor of love to unveil your real Self," said Meher Baba. The beauty and joy speak for themselves, in Silence, yet somehow create the invisible reservoir that poets and artists have always drawn from, and always will."
For me, life was at first an unconscious stumbling forward. Each new activity was like a wrapped gift. I rushed to open every box, fumbling amid the ribbons with greedy fingers that could not move fast enough. Some of the boxes contained wonders. Others contained horrors. As I approached adulthood, I blasted myself out of my world with something I found in one of the boxes. I ripped away my life's fragile fabric of context and wound up in the depths of a black hole a million miles awy. A dream at the time dramatized this fact:
I walk an ancient, wooden bridge over a fathomless, black chasm, protected by "white beings" who are ancestors. The bridge is rickety, broken, and without railings in places. Trying to get across one of those places, assisted by the white beings, I nevertheless fall, into the black abyss.
How many of us have in our lives experienced utter ruin? More people than I once believed. Such an experience, like Dostoyevski's when he was condemned to die in front of a firing squad and his sentence was only commuted after the rifles had already been raised, shocks one into awakening. But how long does such an awakening last?
I've tried to stay awake. Every day I fight "sleep", the unawakened life. I win a round here and there, or there'd be nothing to say on these pages.
But there is! This site is alive! It's the rich record of 3 1/2 decades of a divine romance. The site will never, can never be finished, for the experiences it describes lead to the infinite.
"Come when you can, leave when you must": a poster with those words in vital calligraphy graced the back of the door of the living-room-like office of a college professor of mine— office that was open, along with tea, pillows, and beautiful books, for students 24 hours a day. I'd love it if these pages can be a refuge like that for you. I'll try to keep them alive, to do what I can to bring them ever more alive. If you have any suggestions for interactive features, please send them to me.
Art breathes the life it describes, and that life, unmasked, is Divine.
SPECIAL FEATURES ON THIS WEBSITE
the REALnothings Online Store— Finally, beautiful, high-gloss note cards of some of the
BIG photo/commentary/poetry essay:
ORDINARY BEAUTY, MODEST MIRACLES: Max's Travel Journal, Summer of 2008
"Memorial Day Riff In Downtown Oakland" another poetic/photographic excursion into the wonders of the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area, where I live. This one took place May 29, 2006. Note: The lay-out had been a little tricky, and I'm still working to get it right.
A Presidents' Day Excursion To North Beach, San Francisco— to treat myself like a tourist— a freelance photographer/poet. The journey was exciting. I hope you enjoy the results!
Oral interpretations of my poems by Andy Quinones , a gifted spoken-word vocalist. Recently, Andy and his musical collaborators have done "edgy" interpretations of my poems, "Love Letters in a Vault", "A Few Rooms", and "Fathers and Sons". Also, on his page, you can click on "Jazz Quartet", "Cities", and "Life Is Perfect, Sometimes", and hear them, too.
"School Days and Preschool Days, Too" a book of hilarious and touching anecdotes and essays about working and playing with young children as a preschool teacher and elementary aftercare staff member.
"THE POET'S LIFE", a humorous photo essay
To Climb Is To Fly: A Mount Diablo Adventure: a poem and photo essay describing a delightful Spring excursion to the massive and glorious landmark near my home in Walnut Creek,
The Hall of Famous Jokes: My dad, an amateur comedian, weaned me on hilarious jokes, some
A Whimsical Walk Through Berkeley, CA, March 29, 2005 , photo essay and narrative
Coming To Meher Baba , a brief narration of the experience, way back in 1971, that set me on the spiritual oddyssey which continues to this day. I could never do justice to the experience in words, but have tried to convey something of its essence.
Short stories/fables in streaming audio from a collection entitled "THE SOJOURN OF THE SOUL," written in states of spiritual intoxication in the mid 1980's.
buy! INSIDE JOBS: Stories for Adults and Other Kids , an audiocassete of 9 original stories including "The Dreamer" and "The Ballad of a Warm Cafe" You can listen to the latter by clicking the title, but this version doesn't include the cool sound effects and music that are on the tape itself!
Movie Reviews— love films and have written about a number of our favorites.
new! Mosaic Mandalas of the St. Louis (Missouri) Cathedral—I was only dimly aware, growing up, that my home town contained one of the world's great buildings. On a recent visit there, I took a few photos.
MORE SPECIAL FEATURES,
"A Day in the Life of a Courier" a whimsical little journal-book of writings from my previous job as a Delivery Guy.
Pilgrimage to Hamirpur, India ,which Avatar Meher Baba called "My Heart" (photos by Jonathon Burroughs, Ron Greenstein and Max Reif, commentary by Max, links to othe Hamirpur info on the web)
"Songs for Love" Songs by Max, dating as far back as 1976— streaming audio (on SONY's "acidplanet" site). I just re-listened to some of these songs. I felt it to be a kind of miracle, how
"Minstels of His Love", an essay about Meher Baba music since the 1960s.Bob Brown, Jim
new! "Journeys with the Divine Beloved" poems, now in streaming audio: I feel these are very special poems. They were a gift. (I wish I could write like that every day!) Best way to access them is to go to the "cover page" of this collection. The first poem is "The Search". If you click on the link at the top, you'll get to the recorded version. When you click "Play", a new screen will come up. Then you can back-click the recordings page, move the "Play" screen out of the way, and follow along with the text. Clumsy. Hope I can make it simpler some day.
Please introduce yourself !