My Falling Dominoes Odyssey

Lud Dimpfl's Sufi Mureeds (Initiated 1973)

Lud Dimpfl’s Sufi Mureeds (Initiated 1973)

(I’m in the top row, right in front of the door jamb)

(The sign above says, “God forbid that we should ever have to bear all that we are capable of bearing.”

–Old Jewish Proverb


Turn Around: Face the Sun

(To Lud)

It’s all done with desire wires
(Yes it’s marionettes)

But we can sing an along song
Just like an astronaut growing
Old and bold in his orbit

–Who can with his little jets
Turn around: face the sun–

(Like a cat for fun pounces)
“I’m flying this thing!”


“Failure never let anybody down.”
–Murshida Ivy Duce


Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Invocation:

“Towards the one, the perfection of love, harmony and beauty, the only being, united with all the illuminated souls who form the embodiment of the master, the spirit of guidance.”


Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Prescribed Daily Mantra:
“My thoughtful self: Reproach no one. Bear malice towards no one. Hold a grudge against no one. Be wise, tolerant, considerate, polite, and kind to all.”


Gentle Readers,
(This is another re-instated blog post from those which mysteriously and suddenly went missing. There were over a hundred posts in all dating from April Fool’s Day, 2013, and as I have occasionally mentioned, the vast bulk of them were wiped out by some apparently malicious entity who got access to the inner workings of my website. And as I have promised, I am gradually (and laboriously) reintroducing them, from back-up files. This is one in a series of those. Also, I should add, this whole debacle explains the gaps you will see in the Archives section.) I generally choose which to put back, by those which a new blog post makes reference to. And this series is mentioned in my upcoming (soon) new blog post (watch this space).

It’s funny, destiny.

John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you are making other plans.” I remember in my Sufi classes, led by my beloved preceptor, Lud Dimpfl (Lud rhymes with blood) once he was using the metaphor of our lives as if we were astronauts in orbit. And we had to perforce conform to our orbit but we had access to little jets that could swing the ship around, pivoting on its center of gravity. And Lud quotes the astronaut, “I’m flying this thing!” Funny how little then we notice that really we aren’t flying this thing.

Take for instance my own falling dominoes odyssey. As I have mentioned, I started out as a marijuana-smoking hippie. I got busted of course (when it was a severe felony) and to afford a lawyer I switched from dish washing to apprentice carpentry. And I got off by a miracle (Long story, interesting but not enough spiritual theme to it to include here. Except that, as I said, it WAS a certified miracle. As I’ve had many times in this life, chief of which you can read about in the “About” section of this website (see above)

And I stayed with carpentry because:

Union scale.

Three raises a year. (From apprenticeship promotions)

And what else could compete? I had no college degree or skills. (I had dropped out of U.C. Berkeley) But something always kept me from getting on steady for any one company. You don’t have to, because the union keeps sending you out on new jobs. But only the fine work interested me, and though I single-handedly installed the walnut in the U. S. District judge’s chambers in San Francisco’s Federal Building, the quality of my carpentry ran hot and cold and also I was neither very good at nor interested in cozying up to bosses.

So I could never get enough jobs in my specialty and was often forced to go back to concrete work and other horrors.

But I had a girlfriend whom I got hired as an apprentice carpenter. She loved learning new things and was excited by the possibility but then discovered she was only being used for the federally mandated “girl hours.” They just gave her a broom and used her for a laborer, violating the unwritten contract that an apprentice be put in positions to learn carpentry in action. So she quit in disgust, resolving instead to study nursing. And I nursed her though the needed night school prerequisites, especially English. And she became a nurse. And so I too pulled a nurse reverse.
She couldn’t be a carpenter but by God maybe I could be a nurse. (I was better at her prerequisite studies than she was). So I went back to school and studied hard, acing all the prerequisites, and got accepted at Humboldt State, where I only lasted half-way through the three year program.

But here I want to make an aside, that women sure do seem to be nicer than men. The men were total shits to my girlfriend when she tried to be a carpenter. But when I tried to be a nurse, the nurses and professors (all women) and fellow students (In my class 22 women and 8 men) all were sweet to me, and encouraging.

But though I aced all the exams, etc., I flunked out. I bet I am the only one in the history of the Humboldt State Nursing program to ever flunk out with two nursing scholarships. True, they were based on academic performance not whether you could thread the needle on the floor of the hospital.

However, I once saved a homeless man’s life (from the clutches of a mis-diagnosing doctor), but that was all canceled out by the fact that I was drowning out there, working way too hard for just two patients, and not even enough time to make their beds. I just was not organized, blood made me dizzy, and my hand shook while I was giving an injection. I was a nervous wreck. They rightly pointed out that this was with just two patients. Next semester I’d have six (a full fledged nurse has 12). So they said they had to hold me back, not knowing that I was out of financial aid, and could not afford any such delays. I literally cried when I heard the grim news that I hadn’t passed.

Funny how one can be so attached to an outcome which in retrospect would have been utter disaster. I would have aged ten years for every year I was a nurse, always assuming that somehow I could have figured out how to be one.
But by God I was determined to at least finally get my bachelor’s degree at age 50. I took 18 units so I could graduate in the one semester I had remaining with financial aid, cobbling together a liberal arts general major with smidges of history and political science and literature and such.

So the dominoes were falling. I’d failed as a carpenter but it led to nursing. I failed at nursing but it led to a degree. I felt it would be a depressing defeat to go back to carpentry yet what can you do with a degree in “Liberal Studies?”

Teach, of course.

So I became a first grade teacher. And I didn’t even have to work as a student teacher. I just waded in with an internship credential (and a starting teacher’s salary) in the inner city where they couldn’t find anyone but untrained half-nurse carpenters willing to do it, (Another unshining example of racial discrimination) all while studying the craft in night school.

And so the next domino had toppled.

Next week: How I got to Guatemala, flirted with art, but got married to poetry. (I think I may have promised that last week, but you know how it is, when you have an expectation . . .)

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

About Eric Halliwell

I am the creator and sustainer of, a website which features (among a few other things, like interesting and inspiring quotes, and Sufi stories) my poetry and illustrative blog posts, about one 1000 word essay a month. It is Sufi-themed, probably because for seven years I was an officially initiated Sufi mureed, in San Francisco circa 1970’s. My poetry has appeared in these publications: Penwood Review, Ascent Aspirations, Umbrella Journal, (since defunct), Shine Journal, Ashé Journal, Berkeley Poetry Review, and Tipton Poetry Journal. I can be reached at

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