Free Range

IMG_4207I have enjoyed a great deal of private correspondence with some amazing Sparkers around the world. Many of these people happen to write beautifully. For the first time, I am now beginning to openly share some of these exchanges — with permission of the authors, of course.

In the spirit of “Living ‘O,'” that is, living with a deep commitment to openness, we are beginning a feature we calling “Free Range.” Thanks to Amy Mason for coming up with that great name.

These are written or audio posts on sensitive topics so that Sparkers can talk with each other about EVERYTHING that is real for you as you each try to live a life of great authenticity and pleasure, as well as and impact.

The first of these comes as a wonderful response to my recent “Love Tea” post from one of my favorite people, who happens to be a gifted writer and storyteller. I will call him “Slim.” He lives somewhere in Africa, where he does meaningful work for change while also enjoying life with a playful spirit to complement his seriousness of purpose, a sharp wit, deep, provocative questions, and an inspiring eye for beauty.

Slim writes:

Delightful bit of thought provoking off-the-cuff narration, Jeff.

In terms of what constitutes my “Love Tea,” to take a page from our days of the Swiss apres-ski, it’s a bit of a Jaegertee, a spicy melange: a bit bracing in that it reignites the confidence and rattles the brain enough to calm the anxious indwelling.

One component is the submersion into physical work. From eight years old, I experienced this more or less weekly growing up in Alabama. Every Saturday, my father would wake us to work in the yard. We’d gas up the lawn mower, edger and weedeater and begin our tasks at 8am while it was still hot, but not yet sweltering. He would begin the day in light blue jean shorts and no shirt, allowing us to gauge the heat and extent of his effort through the gradual accumulation of sweat in his body hair. By 10.30, the droplets would begin to bead across his wiry coat, by noon the hair shirt was firmly matted across his chest, shoulders and back, dripping the excess condensation down the front of his frayed jean shorts.

By the time the shorts were dark blue, the yard was immaculate in the suburban fashion. We’d wind up the day with the obligatory steak, salad and potatoes. Our music was the clink of the highball glass – J&B with a touch of water.

At those times, we could actually talk. I think it was the exhaustion and the knowledge of a job done, which allowed him to down shift the steady whir of his mind and gave it time to wander. He would muse on the primeval beauty of fire, gaze softly at the lithe bodies of the pet store fish in the outdoor pond, and share the latest jokes he’d picked up – and usually modified – from some of the old boys down at the Singing River Electrical Co-Op.

I felt a similar feeling – release from the captivity of anxiety and self-analysis – after cruising the Indian Ocean in search of whale sharks. The physical dissipation resulting from the heat, combined with frantic swimming released enough endorphin, which along with a radically re-aligned perception outward – find the fish and stay with it – lengthened my stride and unlocked a bit of the charming ne’er do well.

So I suppose, it’s a solid dose of physicality and outward focus, with a dab of something accomplished.

I suppose the question then becomes, how does one brew this regularly?


chase and play;

lose myself in the details in a good kid-partnered doodle;

non-selfish eros with my beautiful wife.

Probably in that order.

Brew and drink regularly.




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Adam Kane’s Response to Jeff’s “Creating A Culture Of Connection” post


Check out these comments from Sparker Extaordinaire Adam Kane. Adam is working to do great things for the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium in St. Johnsbury, Vermont where he serves as Executive Director and for Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. As you will soon discover when we start to post Stories Of the Week in the forthcoming “S.O.W. What?!” podcast, he is also one of the best storytellers I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. His skill is outstripped only by his humility.

Learn more at

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