Sign in

Thinker. Instigator. Explorer of edges. Author. Top Writer in Writing. Editor .. pour some coffee, stop in .. let’s connect

Which rocks to look under

I’ve been on Medium since 2016, so I’m a certified old timer. But some of my best work is buried in search results. Here are links to the good stuff:


MWC: Chasing Our Legacy | Happiness: 10 Essentials | Awaken | Marcescence: Hanging On | Secret Garden


MWC: Space for Possibility | Shibumi: 7 Elements | Complexity: in Nature | Forests and Trees | Kant’s 1781 C.F., Series: [1] Abstraction, [2] Rule Systems, [3] Into the Deep End, [4] Takeaways

Writing & Creativity

7 Deadly Sins (Writer’s Edition) | Redemption | Space for Inspiration | Minimal: The New Black | Tough Medicine: The…

Start over. Start simple. And learn what space can be.

North Carolina — Rush Hour © 2006 Amberwood Media

In the Western world, we often take space for granted. There’s usually enough to go around — except maybe at airports, where a six-foot radius for social distancing is getting harder to sustain.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, and that’s a dubious proposition at best, it may be a new appreciation for our personal space.

In the East, space is far more nuanced than “mine” and “yours”, and perhaps more valued. Why the difference? It may be rooted in how our respective cultures experience the world, and how much focus is invested on the spaces in between.


Any news yet? MWC entrants await © 2020 Amberwood Media

So how did it go?

We’re not here forever. Death awaits. So when is it too late to start measuring our value?

Twilight. A powerful metaphor for “Almost Over” © 2016 AmberwoodMedia

Living can lead to over-confidence. After all, we’re still here. We can safely declare, for the moment at least, that life goes on.

Eastern thinking has a way of cutting through that Western self-assurance, perhaps no more clearly than this:

“The trouble is, you think you have time” — Buddha

For many, our fragile comfort zones have collapsed, as the pandemic casts a long shadow on our self-confidence. Millions have been lost to a virus. An untimely death that once seemed unlikely now seems possible. We feign confidence. …

Where family comes to roost, leaving (most) differences at the door

Who’s coming for supper? © 2015 Amberwood Media

I’m definitely one for tradition. I was actually born close to the boomer / gen-X cusp, but wherever the line is drawn, I’m clearly a product of my generation.

Growing up, my family was steeped in German and Scottish traditions, infused with southern sensibilities. Holidays were for family visits, no questions asked. Dinners were at the table. Children would be seen, and not heard. The stories were mostly familiar.

So when I started a life with my own family, the goal was to put down roots, finding a comfortable place to raise kids over the long term, and to keep…

Are we taking enough time to count our blessings?

Outtakes from my happy space © 2021 Amberwood Media

It’s hard to feel happy when the world is crashing down around us. If we stumble on a stray smile, we almost feel guilty. And that’s a problem:

In a world full of uncertainty, we need our happy spaces now, more than ever.

I thought making a top-10 list of happiness essentials would be easy. But it took longer than I expected. Choices? I could go old school: raindrops on roses feels inspirational. But whiskers on kittens? Not feeling that one. I guess we all have our sweet spots.

For me, happiness is:

  • The Smile of an Angel. Allyson, my…

The simple beauty of the Japanese aesthetic, on a path to mindfulness

© 2020 Amberwood Media

As popular as mindfulness has become, the path can be elusive.

Stealing a quiet moment may help us recharge, until we succumb again to our social media feeds. We cling to the next bit of information, fueled by anxiety and a near obsessive need to consume more. Any true mindfulness is fleeting. Caffeine is the only flow we know.

We need another path.

Among the ancient arts of the East, I’ve found the Japanese tradition of shibumi offers intriguing alternatives to the overcharged mindsets that thrive in the West. Together, the seven elements of shibumi paint a warming silhouette of…

Closure for the crew of the A-Priori, learning the final dimension of Kant’s 1781 Framework

Jordan Lake, Chatham Co, NC © 2006 the author, Amberwood Media

It was a summer of adventures and some fascinating insights. Today was to be the last installment. The itinerary: a lake, a fishing boat, and the old man’s final thoughts on their favorite topic: Immanuel Kant.

The boat ride itself was not unusual for this trio. Both the old man and the boy were seasoned fishermen, the dog a loyal companion. The old man’s small craft, strangely dubbed the A-Priori, was sturdy and lake-worthy. So the dog piled in first without prompting, and the rest followed, claiming their familiar seats. …

The old man, the boy and the dog dive further into Kant’s Categorical Framework

Into the Deep End © 2021 the author, at Amberwood Media

It was starting to make sense. By now, the old man and the boy had grown excited about the possibilities unfolding in front of them. Step by step, they were using nature to navigate Immanuel Kant’s 300-year old model for knowledge.

Weeks back, while walking in the woods, they’d explored 3 levels of abstraction. Not long after, a campfire and piles of sticks provided fuel to discuss 3 rule systems.

Today brought them to a mountain river, the perfect setting for their next encounter. The boy was early. The dog, as always, was glad to tag along. …

In response to Sonja Blignaut

Dance of nature © 2021 Amberwood Media

Sonja Blignaut recently asked on Twitter — I hope not rhetorically — if there were non-academic, non-theoretical words that could describe the vast and generally difficult space that we know best as complexity.

Here’s what I offered her:

Complexity is the dance of nature, where connectedness and initial conditions shape what’s possible; patterns emerge; simple rules guide our choices; but in the end, the myriad, incremental changes of the world flow at their own pace, in their own way, leaving us to concede at last: control is an illusion.

Do you have your own perspective? Please share. …

CJ Amberwood

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store