Holding Hands

Adam approached God and asked, “Why did you create Eve?” God replied, “So that you may love her.”

“Why did you make her so beautiful? I can hardly take my eyes off her.” “So that you may love her.”

“Why did you make her so kind and considerate?” “So that you may love her.”

“But Lord, why did you make her so stupid?” “So that she may love you.”

This opening joke is just that. But like all good humour there’s more than a hint of truth in it, don’t you think?

If men are from Mars and women are from Venus why are we attracted to one another? Is it because Earth is the meeting place, lying midway between our planetary neighbours? Just kidding. But it is not a wonder that men and women sometimes have difficulty understanding one another. Fundamentally, we are different.

Einstein once said: “Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed.”

Men and women are created equal but entirely different. As Woody Allen put it: “Men learn to love the woman they are attracted to. Women learn to become attracted to the man they fall in love with.” We all may speak the same language but we interpret the words differently.

Will men ever fully understand women? Will women ever fully understand men? Perhaps not, but there are many examples of where we have learned to live together. And as Neal Stephenson wrote in Snow Crash: “She’s a woman, you’re a dude. You’re not supposed to understand her. That’s not what she’s after . . . . She doesn’t want you to understand her. She knows that’s impossible. She just wants you to understand yourself. Everything else is negotiable.”

That may be a big ask. We can each strive to be ourselves. But will we ever truly understand ourselves. The deeper we look the more mysterious we become. But that shouldn’t stop us from looking. Life is relationship. Whether it be the relationship with our partner, our colleagues, our family, our friends, with nature, with ourselves . . . . It is all relationship and it is all a glorious mystery.

As Osho once said: ‘Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.’ Just live life. Don’t try to fix it. The problems keep coming. No point in looking for them. Just smile through them.

I’ll leave the last words to C. JoyBell C.: ‘The truth is that male or female, gay or straight— we are all people— we have all been broken and put back together in so many different ways . . . it’s really just about learning how to recognize the sound of the other one’s cracks.’

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com And In Search of Simplicty is now available as an eBook here.

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

“The author’s experiments and experiences working with nature simply amaze. . . . Beyond the Search is a treasure trove for those who enjoy planting and reaping as it seems nature intended, with respect for each animal and insect as belonging on the planet and therefore deserving of honour.”

Theresa Sjoquist on Suite 101


We humans have two great problems: the first is knowing when to begin,

the second is knowing when to stop.

Paulo Coelho, The Zahir

Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist is one of favourite books. Every few years I pick it up again to reread. It’s a classic fable—poetic and meaningful. A beautiful story about the value and magic inherent in following our dreams.

The Zahir is completely different. It seems semi-autobiographical like many of Coelho’s other books. In fact, the author states in The Zahir that any writer can only write about themselves. I extrapolate this to mean we can only deeply share that which we’ve personally experienced.

I love the book. I personally enjoy Coelho’s openness about life as a best-selling author. And I’ve received much insight from his comments about expressing and releasing the past. Here are a couple of excerpts from The Zahir on that subject:

“How does one go about abandoning the story one was told?”

“By repeating it out loud in meticulous detail. And as we tell our story, we say goodbye to what we were and, as you’ll see if you try, we create space for a new, unseen world…”


“When I had nothing more to lose, I was given everything. When I ceased to be who I am, I found myself. When I experienced humiliation and yet kept on walking, I understood that I was free to choose my destiny…”

Like Coelho, I believe in the value of sharing our stories. I also fully resonate with his words and feelings about the guidance we receive constantly if we allow it. The following words from the book beautifully summarize Coelho’s perspective regarding what I call synchronicity, what he calls signs:

I believe in signs. After I had walked the road to Santiago, everything had changed completely: what we need to learn is always there before us, we just have to look around us with respect and attention in order to discover where God is leading us and which step we should take next. I also learned a respect for mystery: as Einstein said, God does not play dice with the Universe, everything is interconnected and has a meaning. That meaning may remain hidden nearly all the time, but we always know we are close to our true mission on earth when what we are doing is touched with the energy of enthusiasm.

The Zahir is set in Paris and in the steppes of central Asia. I recommend the book for anyone interested in the modern human condition and for anyone interested in the art of relating to the one(s) you love. Next to  The Alchemist, this is my favourite Paulo Coelho offering. Read it. Once begun, you won’t want to put it down.

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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

Cerrillos Hills: Where Much of the Story Took Place

I haven’t posted anything here for quite a while simply because I’ve had my head down editing and rewriting my new book, Beyond the Search. It’s getting closer, but I don’t yet know when it will be published. I will post below the words, as they stand at this moment, from the epilogue of the book. Do enjoy. I’m happy to receive feedback.


Fashion is what you adopt when you don’t know who you are.

 Quentin Crisp


This story is a living affirmation that we are never alone. I chose to work consciously (to the best of my evolving ability) with the spirit that animates all that exists. I found this spirit prepared to help me when I asked and when I acted on the guidance I received. Help from the other side can be likened to the eagle that is only attracted to a moving target. Complacency repels assistance. Action is the magnet that pulls help to us.

The garden beckoned me to be a full and worthy participant in the playing field of nature. I’d discovered I was nourished as much by the fragrance of blossom and by the symmetry of form within the garden as I was by the quality of food that came from it. I came to see the divine in everything my eyes beheld and in every melody my ears attended to. Every creature, large and small, is love made manifest. The garden is a circle of love.  As I worked in the garden and feelings of gratitude welled up within me, it was as if I was able to absorb, reflect and transmit more of this love essence, thereby stepping into a larger, truer relationship with life.

Nature, given the opportunity will always help us discover who we are. The piñón pine and the possum simply are. They have no need to posture or pretend. They live in the present and find their beingness in that. We can too.

Nature constantly demonstrates that everything naturally exists and interacts in a state of cooperation, not competition. I wonder if Darwin’s ‘law of the fittest’ has been misconstrued.

Our landlady at Cherry Valley Ranch in Arizona once told me the story of the dialogue she witnessed between a hawk and a cardinal just before the larger bird captured the bright red cardinal in its talons and carried it away. Susan was absolutely convinced the hawk had requested permission from the cardinal to use its body for food. When the smaller bird consented, it relaxed and allowed itself to be taken for the sustenance of the predatory hawk.

We’d found that without the pervasive influence of advertising in the various forms of media we’d intentionally chosen to live without, our desires for the superfluous had fallen away. After all, many of our purchases are superfluous. We bought food, mostly organic and wholesale, that we didn’t grow ourselves. And we bought clothing, mostly second hand, when required. To this day we continue to buy underwear and socks new; I find it difficult to reconcile the purchasing of used underwear, even if it were available!

Sometimes the most conscious purchase we could make was the one not taken. After all, no matter how organically or greenly a product is produced, it still requires use of the earth’s resources. So, to prevent impulse buying, we would wait and sleep on it. If the desire remained, we’d see if the item could be acquired second hand. At least then, the damage had already been done, as opposed to when buying something new.

In learning to live with less we were given more. We were given something precious; we were given more time, time to enjoy that which is truly important. No longer for us over-busy weekdays and living for the weekend. Every day was the end of the week. Every day was to be lived with heart and presence.

We’d found that the simplest pleasures in life are free—a walk through the forest, the brilliance of a sunset, the sharing of a book or story, playing games on a winter evening by the warmth of a fire.

I was raised with the idea that freedom came with owning your house mortgage-free. I think there is wisdom in that. But on our journey, we sometimes owned and sometimes rented. No matter who owned the house we lived in, we treated it and the garden with love and respect. After all, ownership is an entirely human concept. At the best of times we only borrow any land temporarily from Mother Earth.

We’d found security didn’t just come from owning our own home. Security came from trust; trust that we would always be provided for, and we were.

Awakening to who we are is a huge part of why we are here. But we’d discovered that learning to live from an enlightened perspective was at least as important as awakening, and fraught with challenges. When we’d set out in New Mexico to live off the map, off the grid, outside the media loop and growing our own food we’d had no idea what was in store for us. Sometimes adventure finds us when and where we least expect it. Magic and miracles are constantly happening if we take the time to notice. There is a positive side to every bleak experience. We need always focus on what we have, rather than on what we’ve lost.

Living without media and the news was hardly a hardship. So often the news is a like a soap opera, with commentators adding a little more to a story each day until the initial excitement of the event grows stale and new ‘news’ comes to the fore. If something was truly important we found out. While in New Mexico, we received a call the day the Berlin Wall came down. Likewise we were told of the major earthquake in San Francisco in 1989. We didn’t need to know every nuance of these events in the moments they occurred. It is important to know what is going on in the world around us but it is not necessary to be inundated with negativity. It is also questionable how impartial media that is reliant on commercial sponsorship for its livelihood can be.

We’d found that to be free from the bonds of conditioning we needed to ruthlessly examine the past. We then needed to accept it and move on. After all, the past is just a story. It doesn’t have to dictate the stories we’re writing now. So, as much as possible, we left the past where it belonged, behind us.

We’d discovered that growing some of our food was possible wherever we lived. But to try to grow everything we needed was a trap, a trap that threatened to cut us off from others, from community.

We’d found that community is vital and nourishing to the human spirit. I believe we are all called to do something of greatness, but we are not necessarily called to do it alone. It is in the working together that our bonds of oneness are acknowledged and enhanced. Synergy is as strengthening to the individual as it is to the community.

We’d discovered that to love oneself opened the door to being able to love another. And to love another brought us face to face with the hidden parts of ourselves. To live in harmony together was hard work. To live in peace with each other brought a little more peace to the world.

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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.