The Awakening of Russell Henderson

Every Sunday, I try to post an excerpt from my novel, The Awakening of Russell Henderson. Here’s another. The book is available at

He was then  silent for a long time, maybe to let that all sink in? It was getting to the point I was starting to feel uncomfortable. I was fidgeting and looking around, trying to distract myself from the silence.

“Russell? How did that feel?”


“My silence.”

“Well, it made me a little uncomfortable.”

“Embrace silence, Russell. It is a time for our mind to rest. I see many who cannot be with silence, but must always fill that space with idle chatter. Or cell phones like this,” and he pulled out a cell phone from somewhere inside his robe, “or some other distraction from the that empty space.”

It was hard not to laugh at the cell phone, but I contained it, but he blew my mind, this new concept, silence. I considered it. I hated vacuums. Time, space, whatever should be filled, to be utilize time was money.

“But, people need to be productive. I always tried to plan and needed to consider any decision carefully for best outcome.”

“But, life can’t be planned, Russell. I could die in the next moment.” He laughed. “Then you would be upset.” He laughed again like his dying was a big joke. “A heart attack . . .  you could have a hard attack.” He laughed like me dying would be a big joke. “There could be an earthquake and we could all fall into the ocean.” He laughed like an earthquake was a big joke. “There could be any hundreds of things that might end this conversation right now. Yes, we plan. We create objectives for ourselves, but do not get attached to them. Life is here, and life is gone. Just like that!” He snapped his fingers. 

“Use your life well. It is precious. Be flexible. We have to bend like the tree in the wind. Sway with good and sway with bad. Be mindful. Mindfulness . . .  mindfulness is very important. We need to be aware of where we are and how we are acting towards ourselves, to others, and to animals, the environment. We become mindful through meditation. 

The Awakening of Russell Henderson

Every Sunday, I try to post an excerpt from my novel, The Awakening of Russell Henderson. Here’s another. The book is available at

I got what I needed from the camper and locked it up. Like I need to lock things up here. And here I am doing, what? Settle down. It’ll do you good to relax. But I’ve been relaxing. Risk assessment? No talking? A month? I need to call Karen. Fuck!

I found my room. It took ‘austere’ to a totally different level. A single bed, a wash basin on a table, a straight backed chair,  a cushion to meditate on, and a window. No t.v., no computer, no cell phone, bathroom down the hall.

Maybe I should have stayed in the camper. Too many distractions. Go with the flow. Be adventurous.

I tried to call Karen to let her know what was going on, but the call went straight to voice mail. I left a message that I would be out of communication for probably four weeks and left the emergency number at the center with orders not to call unless a matter of life and death. I turned off my phone . . . for four weeks.


I should have given this preface when I posted this earlier, but, this is the house that I grew up in. It was built by my grandfather, I”m guessing in the late 19th or early 20th centuries. There, he and my grandmother raised nine children, my mother, and my aunts and uncles. When I grew up there, the house was surrounded by mature trees with thick pine groves on the north and west that served as wind breaks. There was an apple orchard and grape vines and a huge garden. The place was always alive with cows, hogs, chickens, horses, and visitors who drank beer and lemonade on the once broad front porch. Now, only three or four trees and a few of the old farm buildings still remain. Deserted, it stands as a stark monument to what once was, as does so much of our modern life which finds the old ways, old things, old times, something to be disposed of, destroyed, and forgotten. The darkening sky portrayed my feelings at seeing my childhood home, now most likely close to being knocked down and buried as is so much of our history, so as to gain another few acres to be farmed with environment destroying herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers, this all by complements of the corporate moguls: Monsanto, Cargill, Tyson and all the other corporate rulers of industrial farming, farming that now poisons the land and water, all in order to produce toxic food for the masses.

Deserted it stands
against a darkening sky.
All love now long gone.

The Awakening of Russell Henderson

Every Sunday, I try to post an excerpt from my novel, The Awakening of Russell Henderson. Here’s another. The book is available at

“Retreat? What’s a retreat?”

“I not only committed to work, but also a rigorous meditation schedule, study, and silence.”

“Silence? You’re talking to me now. You texted me. We talked. I don’t understand.”

“I know. I know. I’ve broken my vow. But I had to talk to you. I talked to Rinpoche about it and he encouraged me to contact you. Then to talk to you about — .”

“Who’s this, what, Rinpo . . . who?”

“I’m sorry, Rinpoche is the head of this center. He’s a Tibetan monk and teacher, incredibly smart and compassionate. I love him like a father. He’s helped me before and is helping me now. I can’t disappoint him.”

“Sounds like a cult.”

She pulled away and stood up, glaring at me with venom in her eyes, “Dammit, Russell! I thought you were over all that shit! It is not a fucking cult! When my retreat vow is over, I’m leaving with or without you. So you can fuck off if you want or be with me. I contacted you because he told me to.”

I sat there wide eyed, immediately regretting what I’d just said, “I’m sorry. That was a really dumb thing to say. I’m sorry, really, I’m sorry. Please tell me whatever you want and I’ll shut up.”



“Okay, thank you for your consideration and patience,” she said slowly and deliberately, letting me know to shut up and pay attention. “I have made a fucking vow and I fucking intend to keep it for One! More! Fucking! Month! Get it?! You can stay or Fuck! Off!”