A Boy And His Wings…

Cheese and Whine

Life is tough, situations are hard, relationships frustrate, work sucks, and we’re not getting nearly as deep into life’s rich bounty as we feel we deserve.  Oh, and I didn’t forget that strangers usually don’t treat us well, the government is ruining our lives, and we’re all aging and aching more with each passing day – despite our efforts to look and feel like we’re 25 years old.  Poor, poor pitiful us.  Well little wretch of a more deserving hominid, it could be worse, or better perceived…

Jian Be Nimble

Jian is one of three children my brother and his wife have adopted from China.  Jian is 9 years old and looks vaguely Asian.  With round eyes, caramel skin, and a forehead trimmed by some bang-like fringe, Jian appears to be a boy on the prowl for mischief – but he is not.  Jian is shy, speaks softly, is sweeter than candy corn, and performs most of the tasks that you and I take for granted with his feet.  Jian was born without arms.  Just writing that sentence humbled me back into last week.

I went to lunch with Jian and his sisters last month during my summer visit to my brother’s home in the mountains of Colorado.  On being seated by the hostess, we requested a booster seat for Jian.  At an age when booster seats are no longer needed, the hostess looked confused.  The booster seat, turned upside down and placed on his chair, is so Jian can have a high, flat surface to sit on since he eats with his feet.  The booster seat is more like a throne than a tool for Jian – from that height it often feels like Jian is holding court for those around and beneath him. 

At a familiar restaurant, and seated with his mother, two sisters and I, Jian didn’t need to look at the menu because he already knew what he wanted for lunch – hot wings.  Yes, finger-foods, for a boy with no fingers, let alone no arms.  Now one might think some outside help might be needed – that his lunch of choice might be prepared for a better assault by him with help from his family.  Nope.  No help was required from his sisters nor me – not even for hot wings.  And he tore through them too, reminiscent of Fred Flintstone making short work of a rack of bronto-ribs. 

But what grasped me most as I watched Jian devour his lunch was the pile of white chicken bones he left on his plate – he cleaned every gram of meat and sauce off of them.  Straight up, I was in awe of his mad toe skills.  And then, I quietly cried to myself.  What right do I have, I wondered, to have a bad day, or a bad lunch for that matter…? Using my knife and fork, I continued to put away my steak salad, but suddenly felt quite pampered to do so.

Dancing With Them Who Brung Ya

Jian writes, draws, and colors with his feet.  He counts his money with his feet.  He pets his dogs and cats with his feet.  He flushes the toilet with his feet.  He holds and drinks cups of juice with his feet.  He even hits his sisters with his feet, but I guess technically we should still refer to that as kicking.  Jian does just about everything with his feet, and that which he can’t do with his feet, he can usually accomplish with the combination of his chin and his shoulder – together they pair up like a grappling hook of extraordinary dexterity to move, maneuver, or carry whatever he needs to, and he does so fluidly.

I pity the fool who tries to take the remote from Jian. Pity him....

So here’s the deal, you may think this is a story about Jian – a boy with no arms, and his lack of concern for something he never had.  It’s not.  It’s a story about me and you – our whining, complaining, and bitching our way through life, for all we think we don’t have, for all of our problems, and all we think we can’t accomplish due to our perceived limitations.  

This may be a bit lofty, but more recently in those times when I think my life most sucks and I exist in a sea of limitations, I try to think of Jian whom I have never heard complain – not once, about living life with no arms, and he probably doesn’t spend a lot of time pondering it.  And I wonder; if reading this will change the way you view your day today, will you allow that change last into tomorrow…?  Comments are open this week, and you’re welcome to share this by Twitter, Facebook, email, or carrier-pigeon if you think it’s worthy – I happen to think it is.  Be well.  rc


Please check back in two week for my essay, Trial Separation; Thoughts On My Love/Hate Relationship With Art Of Bodybuilding. 

Oh, and there is this gem; Adrian Belew and Martha Wainwright covering brian Eno’s, Heroes. Connections like this are what playing and watching live music is all about.  Enjoy…

Frozen Living Guy Days (tease)…

A mid-week tease for my upcoming essay on…  well, you’ll have to check back this Friday and find out.  In the meantime, here is an except:


Jian Be Nimble

Jian is one of three children my brother and his wife have adopted from China.  Jian is 9 years old and looks vaguely Asian.  With round eyes, caramel skin, and a forehead trimmed by some bang-like fringe, Jian appears to be a boy on the prowl for mischief – but he is not.  Jian is shy, speaks softly, is sweeter than candy corn, and has a much better appreciation for the term, limitation, than you or I ever will…


Please check back this weekend to find out what we can learn from Jian.  Oh, and there is this video of my nephew, being buried in hail last July — by his sisters.  Enjoy… 

Oh, and if you wonder why I chose the name Frozen Living Guy Days, Jian and his family live in Nederland, Colorado, home of Frozen Dead Guys Days — the best street fair on the planet.

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Taking Back My Potential, Part IV…

 For me, the term religion has become a synonym for fulfillment – the fulfillment of the potential within me.  My Religion Of One, will only be as real as the fulfillment of my intentions.  What it comes down to, is simply waking up each day and staying committed to the act of merging what I want to do, with what I can do, and creating results, despite the distractions and temptations which surround me.  I want these past four essays, (Taking Back My Potential, parts I, II, and III) to be more than words, because they are more than words – they have become my essence.

Priorities, And The Art Of Letting Go

Among my more immediate goals are to write a book, to volunteer in my community, to work more, to read more, and most importantly, to better nurture the relationships which matter most in my life.  I believe I have the potential to fulfill all of the above.  But I can’t approach it without disconnecting from some other aspects of my life, and that will be hard. 

Some relationships will suffer, that I better nurture others.  Some aspects of my personal time will need to be amended, others eliminated altogether.  Time will need to be maximized, and there will definitely be some “doing without” in my life for the first time in years.  Even my fitness agenda is going to be significantly streamlined.  Every aspect of my life, but for a few relationships and my business, are subject to the chopping block.

Discipline, And The Act Of Change

What I have lacked has been discipline.  I have lived the last decade of my life at standing at the intersection of Just Getting By, and I Just Don’t Want It Bad Enough.  My priorities, relative to my potential, have been atrocious. Work has been a low priority.  Though I work hard, I play in equal portion and I have not maximized the potential of my business.  Sleep has been a low priority.  Though I go to bed at 8:30, I take my laptop with me and watch lectures on i-Tunes, trade emails, or mindlessly Facebook into the wee hours, only to net about 4-5 hours of sleep over a 8-9 hour period.  That behavior must stop. 

Using money properly has been among the lowest of priorities in my life; such as the $16,000 I have spent on i-Tunes over an 8 year period (the equivalent of a used Lexus).  There’s also the $200 per month I spend on wine and tequila, the $300 per year I spend on chewing gum, or the $500 per month I spend eating out.  Those I truly love, and who love me back as much or more, have been far too low a priority; I need to reach out more. 

The forces at the heart of this lack of fulfillment have been laziness and selfishness.  That may seem harsh and excessively self-critical, but if the assertions in a prior paragraph is true, that I do have the potential to write a book, grow my business, and serve more in my community, then why have they not been fulfilled…?  Of course that is rhetorical, but I know the answer.

The Religions That Bind

So how have I made this stretch, within four essays, from building my own religion to simply fulfilling my own potential…?  Because fulfilling my potential has taken its place in the pantheon of my polytheistic madness, alongside exercise, love, creativity, and music, as one of my religions of choice – and I mean that in the most literal use of that term.   When my daughter was once asked by a friend, “What does your dad do for a living?”  She replied, “I don’t know, I think he’s just busy being Roy Cohen…” Indeed, and here I go again.

I say often that in a Mad Max world, I like my odds.  I have never been much of a church or synagogue guy.  Not because I don’t appreciate their value in society, but because I’m hard-wired to go it alone – it’s just always been that way.  I’m just a self-taught kinda guy, finally willing to admit that my religion too, must be self-taught.  And though I may be picking and choosing from the tenets of others, and may have ended up with a derivative faith, as Christianity is derivative of Judaism, at the end of the day, my faith is my faith and my brand is my brand, and they are both very dear to me.

When I look closely at those who have most inspired me, and they are many, among their common threads are the abilities to avoid distraction, to stay on task, and that they have been largely self-taught in the areas where they excel.  And for those who may wish to criticize me for taking this path, because the God you suggest is the real God was here before any of us, then wouldn’t he too have been self taught…?  And if that God did create me in his own image, then perhaps being self taught is one plausible direction for the discovery of truth…  Be well.  rc

Comments are closed this week, but feel free to drop me a line…


Please check back in two weeks, for a new article – subject TBD.  Oh, and there is this from  James McMurtry.  Enjoy…