Dead Man's Forest

Dead Man's Forest
Dead Man’s Forest is a weekly conversation about the unique wisdom and knowledge each of us possesses. Will you share yours?

50: A few thoughts to roll around while we’re apart
Jun 26 • 15 min
I’ve decided to set Dead Man’s Forest down for a while to focus on some business goals I set for myself. Give a listen for more details, and for some parting thoughts. I’ll still be around, so you are more than welcome to contact me at…
DMF49.5: Quick hello while travelling
Jun 19 • 1 min
I hope that you’re having a meaningful week.
49: Colleen, continued—thoughts on connecting with that inner “yes” and on being heard
Jun 12 • 29 min
The conclusion of my conversation with Colleen (and of the interwoven conversations with Colleen and Tbird). She shares how she learned to listen to her inner “yes” and “no,” and how living her life aligned with “yes” has allowed her to feel alive in each…
48: Tbird continued, on catching up with himself, and on learning to acknowledge what is
Jun 5 • 40 min
Tbird and I finish our conversation. He wraps up his story on re-gathering the parts of himself he left behind as a child and in his 20s, and how his worldview has changed because of those experiences. He finishes with some powerful thoughts on living…
47: My friend T-bird shares a story about depression and recovery, and how “business as usual” has distracted so many of us from what really matters
May 29 • 27 min
T-bird is an incredibly passionate and caring man who has some remarkable experiences to share with you—and reflections on the lessons he’s learned from those experiences. This week’s episode is a bit of an interruption of my conversation with Colleen.…
46: Colleen talks about the inner “yes” and how it helped her realize that the path she was “supposed” to be on wasn’t the one she wanted to be on
May 22 • 27 min
My good friend Colleen shares some of her experiences in facing the choice that she had between the life she was “supposed” to live based on how she was raised and a life that aligned more closely with her inner spirit. Mentions: Steven Levine:…
45: The truth may lie between the worldviews
May 8 • 22 min
The things we learn over the course of our lives are largely determined by where and when we were born. Given the huge amount of potential knowledge, and the tiny slice of it any one of us happens to possess, it seems the things any one of us believes we…
44: An inherent conflict between two equally valid worldviews
May 1 • 22 min
What can people do when there’s a conflict between what you believe you should do and what someone else believes you should do? And when, from each person’s perspective, they’re right?
43: Conclusion of my conversation with Joyce: some personal examples related to authenticity, courage, forgiveness
Apr 24 • 14 min
I hope you have enjoyed the past couple episodes’ conversation with Joyce. Today we wrap it up with a few personal examples. I think we all have something to learn from people who live with authenticity, such as Joyce. No mentions that need links.
42: Continued conversation with Joyce on death and authenticity
Apr 17 • 19 min
Joyce talks about her love for spring, and about how mindfulness of our mortality can help us be more present and more authentic. Mentions: Death Cafes
41: The importance of connectedness and the cycles our lives go through: a conversation with my friend Joyce
Apr 10 • 19 min
This is the first part of my conversation with Joyce, who has some wisdom to share about why connection—to all things—is important, and how the disconnection our Western civilization teaches us is harming so many things. Some mentions: Grandmother’s…
40: Creativity in art and science; and how love powers it
Apr 3 • 15 min
I recently changed some of my ideas about science based on reading an important book called “The Beginning of Infinity,” by David Deutsch. (Well worth the read, by the way.) I had what I now think are some misconceptions. I attempt to describe them in…
39: Jared Jacobs (aka Gold Yeller) on sharing, family, and the give-and-take of life
Mar 27 • 29 min
Jared Jacobs, perhaps better known on the internet as Gold Yeller, makes stop-motion videos of sports highlights using Lego. Take a few minutes to listen to him talk about some of the lessons he’s learned from his work and life. If you want to see more of…
38: Short Update, two tweaks to some previous DMF ideas that will be returning in future episodes
Mar 20 • 7 min
I couldn’t record a full episode this week, but I’ve still been working on some thoughts. This episode will keep you abreast of two of them: first, that in the vision of the Dead Man’s Forest that we are both the person AND the dead landscape—that we feed…
37: A conversation with Emily Marvosh, continued: classical music, art, and the humanities and their place in our lives
Mar 13 • 33 min
The conclusion of my conversation with Emily Marvosh, where she talks about what classical music is and what continues to interest and excite her about it. You can read about and hear Emily’s work on her website,
36: Emily Marvosh on listening, staying flexible, and making music
Mar 6 • 22 min
This week I speak with Emily Marvosh about her experiences and what she’s learned from them. She shares several lessons that have been important to her throughout her education and career as a classically-trained singer. You can learn more about Emily on…
35: Relating with love and compassion is, perhaps, the core tenet of all religions
Feb 27 • 13 min
I suspect that love and its fruit—life—are the core goals of all religions. I find it sad that in religion we often lose sight of that, instead making our faith more about being right than being loving.
34: Why love might actually be the answer
Jan 30 • 24 min
From the perspective of your relationship to the universe and to civilization, and from the universe’s perspective of its relationship to life—including human life—it seems possible that love could be the thing that makes all this go. Let’s discuss.
33: A few thoughts on how we might respond to the truth of our mortality
Jan 23 • 16 min
Last week we talked about how Michael sometimes gets emotional about his death as the ultimate goodbye. This week brings some ideas about how we can live in response to the fact that someday we will die.
32: How death can show us that life is wonderful
Jan 16 • 16 min
An emotional episode today, recorded on a walk over very crunchy snow—an experiment that turned out a little noisier than I hoped it would. But, I’ll get better at it. I hope you get something out of it.
31: A story about emotions
Jan 9 • 10 min
In this episode, I wrote a short fable to illustrate the lesson I wanted to share. I hope, should you choose to incorporate the lesson into your life, that my story helps you remember it.
30: A short hello wishing you a happy 2019!
Jan 2 • 3 min
After getting up to the mountain today I found myself unable to collect my thoughts due to some external circumstances. Rather than fumble my way through a full episode in which I wouldn’t be able to be fully present, I decided to keep it short and simple.
29: A Conversation with Patrick, Concluded
Dec 19, 2018 • 15 min
Patrick and wrap up our conversation with ideas about fear, binary thinking, and a couple sports analogies.
28: A Conversation with Patrick, continued
Dec 12, 2018 • 28 min
Patrick and I continue our discussion. This week we cover dogma and guiding principles, fear and selfishness, iteration and innovation, and being true to the person you want to be.
27: A conversation with Patrick
Dec 5, 2018 • 30 min
My friend Patrick and I discuss language, ideological lenses and unconscious bias, and a couple of his experiences with these things. More from Patrick in coming weeks.
26: Gratitude, Privilege, and Ownership
Nov 28, 2018 • 16 min
Coming out of his conversations with Jason and sharing the Thanksgiving holiday with his family, Michael reflects on some important ideas about a couple of the modes of moving through the world available to us, that we might not always examine so closely…
25: A Conversation with Jason Young, Part 2
Nov 21, 2018 • 25 min
My conversation with Jason took an unexpected turn in its second half. The conversation turns from worlds and worldviews to religion. Give the episode a listen to find out what he asked me and how I responded. If you have any thoughts about this episode,…
24: A conversation with Jason Young
Nov 14, 2018 • 36 min
Jason Young, author of Maturation and Transformation Through Vision Fasting (an abbreviated title for this description), shares with us what he’s learned about how worldviews shape worlds, and how we can use that knowledge to, each in our own small ways,…
23: Closing thoughts on letting go, play, and growing up
Nov 7, 2018 • 23 min
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve visited the mountain to record, so today I made time to drive up there and reflect on the last few episodes. I weave the threads of conversation from DMFs 19-22 together, reflecting on how these conversations have fed me…
22: Nancy Buffington, continued: more on fear, her father’s role in her life, and what’s next
Oct 31, 2018 • 23 min
The conclusion of my conversation with Nancy Buffington. Thank you, Nancy, for sharing your story with us! If you would like to keep up with what Nancy is doing, check out her website,, her band’s website,…
21: Nancy Buffington on messiness, fear, and taking her life back (part 1 of 2)
Oct 24, 2018 • 25 min
Nancy Buffington is a wonderful and generous woman who I am privileged to know. She spoke with me about her experiences as a introverted girl and the effect they had on her life as a woman and an academic. She has put in a tremendous amount of work over…
20: A Conversation with Stephen Warley of Life Skills That Matter
Oct 17, 2018 • 18 min
This week Michael talks to Stephen Warley, a wonderful human being and the man behind the podcast, website, and coaching business he calls Life Skills That Matter. Stephen talks about how he has spent many years aligning himself with himself, making his…
19: Beauty in death, and letting go
Oct 3, 2018 • 23 min
Ruminations on the beauty of fall colors, their relationship to transience and mortality, and on how letting go is part of living fully.
18: We are the stories we tell ourselves
Sep 26, 2018 • 21 min
After a few weeks off (car troubles, and recording and editing my first guest conversation), Michael returns with some more thoughts from the Dead Man’s Forest about the different paths we all take to truth, and how the characters we play in the stories…
17: Lessons from John Poelstra
Sep 19, 2018 • 24 min
A conversation with John Poelstra of
16: When conflict comes to stay
Sep 5, 2018 • 16 min
Struggles in conflict situations, the complexity of multiple perspectives, and the stories we tell ourselves about the things that happen to us.
15: You belong in this place
Aug 29, 2018 • 11 min
Back after a short hiatus, Michael reiterates the story behind Dead Man’s Forest and shares some thoughts on belonging.
Aug 1, 2018 • 12 min
The 14th episode of Dead Man’s Forest.
Jul 25, 2018 • 18 min
The 13th conversation from the Dead Man’s Forest.
Jul 18, 2018 • 9 min
The 12th conversation from the Dead Man’s Forest.
Jul 18, 2018 • 18 min
The 11th conversation from the Dead Man’s Forest.
Jul 18, 2018 • 24 min
The 10th conversation from the Dead Man’s Forest.
9: The impact of certainty about our worldviews
Jul 18, 2018 • 28 min
Vision and emotions could be similar: it feels like they are experiences that are derived from our environment, but several scientific subjects and experiments suggest they are not. Rather, they seem to be experiences that are entirely constructed in our…
8: The limits of thought; and thoughts on enlightenment
Jul 18, 2018 • 25 min
The world we live in limits what we can think. Is enlightenment just contentment and the absence of self-sabotage? And is it something we have access to? We will all die; we have been given a death. Even the forest changes.
7: Imagination, reality, and how we create the world
Jul 18, 2018 • 24 min
Followup thoughts on the creation and destruction that are in us (and all things), and how these two things tend to stay in balance. How does memory work? What is the past? Is it connected to imagination? And what, if anything, does that have to say about…
6: Creation and destruction
Jul 18, 2018 • 21 min
We are beings who wield both creation and destruction, and both of these are a part of all existence. We know practically nothing. But if we wish to become wise, we must work towards that goal, knowing that perhaps it is an impossible one. And we learn…
5: The balance between understanding and appreciation
Jul 18, 2018 • 21 min
Thoughts on our vulnerability as mortal beings. Considering how a deconstructive mindset (which we use to understand the inner workings of things)—which can be very useful—nevertheless has diminishing returns and cannot help us with meaning and purpose.…
4: Science hasn’t yet explained what it feels like to be YOU
Jul 18, 2018 • 21 min
Followup from episode 3 on how the goal is not the point, on why to practice perspective-taking, and the importance of honest conversation. New topics on how science’s attempt at objectivity (on obtaining a “universal” perspective, so to speak) can…
3: The value of different perspectives
Jul 18, 2018 • 21 min
Reflecting on existence and nonexistence (both our own and that of other things), how such reflection could make the world a better place; the value of truth (whether or not it’s real), and a perspective on different perspectives.
2: Fear of meaninglessness
Jul 18, 2018 • 20 min
Is truth real? Or is it something humans invented? DMF 2 wrestles with this question and its implications, and what we can do to use our fear of meaninglessness to better ourselves and our lives.
1: The Dead Man’s Forest
Jul 18, 2018 • 23 min
Michael introduces himself, the Dead Man’s Forest, and starts the conversation.