I Have This Terminal Disease,
It Moves So Slow It Is Killing Me!
One of 25 Best Alzheimer’s Blogs of 2012
Mike Donohue is a brave man. Courageous, direct, and bold, his blog energizes readers with a passion for action. Dementia Endured gives a hint in the title as to the nature of this talented writer: he will endure. And with a personality like Mike’s, it’s easy to believe that he shall overcome, as well!
His life experiences are opened to the reader, and his journey recovering from alcoholism to adjusting to Alzheimer’s holds its own fascination for visitors to his site. Mike’s strength and determination will remind readers that dementias are one area in which it’s best not to hold any punches.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Yesterday my message was written in passion. Today having had 24 hours to settle I write again on the same topic, perhaps with less passion but the same degree of ardor.
I am posting two articles today in my archive.
• HYPERTEXT: SPINNING BIG PHARMA’S HUNT FOR PROFITS IN DEMENTIA
• ALZHEIMER'S/DEMENTIA CAREGIVING EVOLVES IN DARWIN, MINNESOTA
Click on each to go to it.
The first of the articles talks of the relentless search and spend mission of the for profit pharmaceutical business plan to loot and pillage on behalf of the advancement of financial return in research to Find the Cure. The writer in the Chicago Tribune, as I do, reads between the lines to see what it really said.
The commentator at http://alt-alzheimers.com/ who introduced this article described it as follows:
Since nearly three decades and billions of dollars of public money for basic and clinical research aimed at pharmacological treatment for dementia have produced so very little, how is it that such high hopes remain for a pharmacological breakthrough?
Part of the answer, of course, is the cultivation by Big Pharma of shallow and credulous journalism
It goes on with a survey of where things are now. As I said yesterday there was then, 1990, there is now, 2010, and they are no closer to finding a cure.
So much effort is expended on behalf of us to fund this cause. Although we would certainly enjoy the benefits should they score, one wonders about exercises in futility. Is this unduly strident of me considering the good of the cause? I am sorry if it sounds that way.
My concern making it sound strident is the severity of the conditions that are not getting attention. These conditions happen to be in our immanent future. Our Care, the Economy of which gets worse and worse with each day gets my attention. It is costing more and more each day that passes to get the care that mid and late stage Alzheimer’s Disease requires.
Each day also brings less and less resource to help all of us afflicted pay for it. The cost as it is for most of us will be ours, no other’s
One of the problems complicating the Economy of Care is our style of providing it. The large investments made in infrastructure to provide services drains all the funds available leaving nothing with which to pay the help. This inattention resulting in failure to competently care for the folks for whom the infrastructure is intended permeates the system of giving care.
Service is abysmal too often because the institutions simply cannot afford to pay salaries sufficient for numbers and quality personnel to provide the necessary service. This is because each development takes too much off the top by the Fat Cats and Profit Takers with the corner on funding and financing the projects.
My second posting on my Archive is about a program in Minnesota that breaks ground in doing something new that is helpful to us. It is becoming a formula for service that is catching on.
More is needed in operations that are small, responsive, and satisfying to the needs of the folks requiring assistance. Things like campuses of small domiciles housing limited numbers of AD affected where the sharing of service and facilities can be done with savings.
Tax incentives to supplement what Government is not doing with subsidies to services to help with the individual family and non-profit humanitarian groups, or other economy qualifying groups able to provide service at a savings.
We need so much more because the calamity coming is so very urgent.
This is the future for too many of us:
Saturday, February 27, 2010
I always rankle at the question the subject of the Blog today. It supplements the article from the Berkeley Daily Planet posted in my archive: Alzheimer’s Disease — How Long Before We Find a Cure? I thank my friend Rose Lamatt who posted reference to this article on Facebook.com. Click on the hypertext’d title to go there
To often my sense of it is: “C’mon already, so much more is needed that is overlooked by all the effort for fund raising!” Am I right? My paranoids get to flowing and I defend my position. I see all the ways and means of doing things from Washington D.C. to the Lobby Citadel’s of the alphabet named streets in Washington, to the Madison Ave agencies that are so good at shaping public opinion. I look at Wall Street and see all the subterfuge in generating money and using finance under the guise of doing good and lining the profit takers with even more booty at the expense of the task. The task of course which was to have received the benefit of what the fat cats get paid for.
Then I look at the Pharmaceutical Industry. From that my viewpoint narrows to the Bought and Paid for Senators and Congressman, the Banality in the Health Care Debacle, the Pillage for Profit by Prescription Pricing. What I see is incredulous.
Could research done to benefit the Drug Industry be starving because of all of this?
Are they victims too of the massive rake off being done in the name of Free Enterprise under the Holy Rubrics of Canonized Capitalism? (Caveat: Editorial Comment, I am not a communist, anarchist, or bleeding heart liberal. I am cursed with discernment that too often sees the obfuscation paramount in Mass Media Persuasion of today falsely termed Public Discussion)
It is for this reason I question the effort when noting in the article I posted which said: “1990 it looked so promising, but hasn’t gone further since as we look at it now in 2010.” Is that telling us something? I suppose it is saying “Patience my son, maybe your grandson or his son will not get what you got when finally we do get at a cure!”
There is so much needing done, so much inequity out there under the guise of service to our needs as Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) Afflicted. Competent care is out of our financial reach, those of us with enough money to be required to pay for it until our money runs out and our spouses also required to pay for us are left with out funds necessary to live on.
What care there is for all of us, public and government supported as well as private pay is inadequate and substandard because there are insufficient funds to pay for it after the costs of the development of care plans, facilities, finance and administration of it is paid for and of course their profit taken.
We need to get serious about doing something to care for all who are coming to need it in our short term future. The time is now, now, Now!
IT COULD BE WORSE!
Friday, February 26, 2010
Somewhere in all of the reading I do I have come across comments like, “You do it You become it!” This of course subverts the basic Irish Maxim on which I was raised and programmed for life: “Expect the Worst so you get the Best.”
Was it Norman Vincent Pearle who said, “Every day in every way I feel better and better,” or was that a variation of Dale Carnegie’s
The attitude behind this was something at which I always scoffed.
When I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) within days I wrote in my journal:
…I learned what my next challenge is. It was in the doctor’s office when it presented itself! I have Alzheimer’s disease! It was presented to me then and there! What I do about it will be my measure of my last days. I have five to eight good years to find that out, maybe ten or twenty years if I am lucky. I pray to my Higher Power that I have the strength, the fortitude to make the best of this time. I further pray that I may leave a mark because of this.
Now, 3 years 8 months later I can affirm I have lived my new paradigm (AD) accordingly. I am making the best of it, the best to this extent. I see it as my gift just as I finally was able to do with Alcoholism when I saw the wonderful results of recovery in AA.
My life is now better with and because of AD than it would have had this not occurred to me. It is because I am making something of it, which I find enjoyable, fulfilling and possible doing some good.
What did I have to do with this? My attitude was appropriate, it was directed. Did I make it happen? Hey, that ones beyond me!
What isn’t is this: The schools that see reality as a product of our mind’s as such the “Real Reality.” What we see as the world around us, encased in dimensions of time and space, is but our way of putting all we sense or see into an order we can make sense of. I believe Dr Robert Lanza author of Biocentrism said it. In making sense of what we perceive as reality, mistaking it for reality which is us, we can direct our response to it by forming and ordering it into something desirable as undesirable.
Buddhist in accepting all life is suffering make a peace with life that transforms it from suffering to blessing.
These are but a few examples that support the premise of the article I have posted from this mornings Alzheimer's Reading Room. Click on the hypertext of the room or the article "Just Feeling Blessed" to read
Thursday, February 25, 2010
It is wonderful to see the greater discussion growing about Artwork as a treatment for Dementia. I believe this but touches the tip of the iceberg of possibility that is there to be tapped to facilitate those with Early Stage Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) remain in early stage. Doing so has so many benefits, starting with the quality of life of that person afflicted with the disease and all of the loved ones surrounding that person who are affected by the disease.
I have posted yet another article pertaining to artwork on my Archive entitled: The Cleveland Clinic is Teaming up with the Cleveland Art Museum for a Special Program for Dementia Patients..... This article was carried recently on the Alzheimer’s Reading Room. Go to the Reading Room by clicking it in hypertext or go to my Archive clicking on the article’s title
Art Work doesn’t stop at the level of quality of life enhancement. It also, by keeping us in Early Stage (AD) longer, saves us and saves the community the cost of caring for us as we proceed in to the later stages of this disease. AD is quickly escalating into calamity numbers as Boomers come of Senior Age. This will produce a National financial catastrophe.
And in between all of this it just makes good sense should you stop and think about it. We know the brain can both develop new pathways when an old one goes into failure. We are becoming to believe the brain can in fact regenerate, producing tissue, chemicals, rearranging circuitry to perform activity that it has failed at. Less is known about this but more is becoming understood.
How does art, music, creativity in general, work as a tool in this regard? Is it different than playing more crossword puzzles or number games? I think it is. Then who am I to speculate? But I do!
The brain has two hemispheres. Some neuro experts say the left brain functions cognitively as the manager, calculator, data storage facility, logician, and categorizer of all that comes into the brain. It works sequentially and builds on what it does. The right brain is non-sequential, the dreamer, stargazer, intuiting part that sees all the data assembled on the left and assimilates it with the cosmos with which it seems to communicate.
In our life, short of the proverbial philosopher farmer on his tractor, performing his routine chores, who has time to think deep thoughts, the rest of us are busily involved in our daily lives fielding all the data storming down on us. We have no time to think, ours is but to react. As a result, we become mired working out of our left hemisphere having little contact with the right.
Brain damage of the slow, progressively chronic kind typical of many dementias starts intruding on the brain; the brain with its natural proclivity puts damage control into operation trying to overcome function as it loses it.
Does damage from dementia attack different parts at different times in its intrusion? Probably. Does it affect the capability of the left hemisphere over the right? Perhaps findings from many Neuro-Psychometric Exams (NPE) could be resourced to see. The NPE is a standardized battery, taking four hours to administer. It takes the raw date of answers and extrapolates that against all of the data produced in all of the exams and draws from that via data analysis to support conclusions as to how similar dysfunctional patterns are produced when patients have similar forms of damage in similar areas of the brain. (This is a very simplified explanation not meant to be dispositive of what it is.)
The end product of all of the data accumulated measures damage from a functional loss standpoint.
Looked at empirically, (my own experience,) which is seeing anecdotally, (namely, only me,) I theorize: Does the brain in re-routing and re-structuring detour around non functioning parts on the left and wander into the area of the right brain looking for functional tissue and supplementary function?
I sincerely believe this to be true. I find myself doing digitally generated artwork as well a creative writing since my diagnosis. These have become my major pastimes. Writing creatively, story telling, has been something I have always been able to. This is not true of art. I have no conception of space, ability to blend colors, ability to perceive pictorially. But I am doing just that and as I show it on my blog or on Facebook which I do often I get wonderful acclaim. I can’t believe it when I hear “Oh you are so talented artistically.”
Where I ask could have this come from. Artwork has become a major activity of mine and wonderful solace. I can spend hours working on detail, never in a hurry to dash to product, happier with the time spent doing it than with the product that has come of it.
To me it appears I have tapped into my right brain via a conduit that did not exist before AD.
I use this as an example of many things I observe myself doing that are new are different ways of doing things I no longer can do or never did in the first place. Although I am very aware of a gradual, spotty, cognitive deterioration happening in me, this is offset by many things so new and different they surprise me no end.
It is for this reason I encourage the movement to explore more artwork programs for Alzheimer’s Disease.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Stand Up While You Read This! to go there.
To post it is akin to burning a bridge behind me. In my new incarnation, “AD – Limited in what I can do and get around to” I have found it very satisfying to hang out at home. The chaise in my Condo overlooking downtown Minneapolis is just right for that. I sit and start reading the paper on the net via my laptop connected wirelessly.
I read a while than do some writing. Sufficiently motivated I will go downstairs to the gym in the building and do a half hour work out or swim. I try to do that at least three times a week for 20 – 30 minutes. Otherwise I keep sitting.
Eating breakfast with the paper, lunch just before or after workout, if I don’t go out with a friend, I then take a nap for an hour. I get up, do a little more writing, read and go to bed at 10:00 read some more and sleep 12:00 am to 7:00 am.
This is the routine to which I am accustomed and I thoroughly enjoy. I intersperse this with doing art work, listening to music while about another of my routines and that is pretty much it. Is this all bad?
My wife Diane worries. “You are just sitting all the time” she tells me. You see so few people; you never call anyone on the phone to talk. Well I do what I can, not more than I want, and I accept this. The seclusion is brought about by the attrition in social life and activities produced by my staying close to home and unable to freely move about.
“You have to get up and move around, you can’t just sit there and sit some more!” says she; God Bless her, not willing to let me alone.
The biggest part of it all is it bothers me not at all. I keep myself good company and have a pretty good time doing so. My writing is a god-send. I enjoy it; it is purposeful: I get a great deal of satisfaction out of it believing I am doing some good with it.
I have had all the glory and glitter. I stood out in my profession life. Highly regarded, I was well known. I was considered to be very a very successful trial attorney with a reputation nationally.
I joke in what I have written:
Back then I was this guy in his designer three piece suit, tooling around in his white Mercedes, I considered myself pretty doggone important! Now I am just another guy on the bus.
That is so true. What’s truer, it is so nice. I do not have to work at what I am.
But “my oh my!” I do have to get up and more around a bit more. I am gaining weight far more than is comfortable, sightly or healthy. I try to lose and for the past two years I can’t.
Why can’t I? I have been sedentary, confined home because of a fractured hip replacement and then a revision of that a year ago. I fractured it falling down. Part of my AD is I do not see things in my path, in plain sight. I tripped over a number of things putting myself in ER twice.
Since surgery I still have trouble getting up and around, although I am now used to it.
So, I’ve got to get up and around a little more. I need to listen to what is said in the article I posted! I no longer can excuse sitting on my butt!
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I read the reviews of “The Empathic Civilization.” I bought the book. I read this comment carried in Huffington yesterday. Now I really need to read that book waiting in my Kindle for its reading.. The article about that follows:
The idea of the he "Empathic Civilization" suggests an answer to the desperate quandary embroiling the thoughts and feelings of those of the older of us comprising part of our culture. Every day so many of us ask, “What went wrong?”
Why do we ask? Nothing is working. We pass from one crisis gridlocked from solution to the next producing the same result: insolubility. We successively pass from Crisis to Attempt to Cure Crises to be Subverted by Gridlock, and then we fall into Despair for any solution!
My concern is from my history and the safety that I once sensed from it. I was born in the Depression. My parents were tuned to the suffering that occurred during it, to the seeming insolubility of it all. Our mantra was “New Deal!” This captured in “Byte” what we ardently believed in fact: The experience of the Depression, the remedies enacted to prevent its happening ever again, will give us the protection we did not have that produced this violence and tragedy to our common psyche. Never could we be that insane to open the door to let that demon in again.
A leg of the foregoing statement proved to be wrong. We have been that insane. In 1980 and the years that followed we started on a determined program to dismantle the New Deal. By 2008 it was sufficiently dismantled for the occurrence of another financial collapse, the worst since the Depression.
Its happening was evidently caused by removing the regulatory controls over the financial, corporate and business activity in our country. The cure we needed left little question but to reinstate the controls that had been removed.
This process to cure (reenact this safety network) is disintegrating into stalemate by way of gridlock. There is little outlook for gridlock getting any less petrifying reality as it has.
Paul Krugman said it well in his column in the NYT yesterday. I have posted that in my Archive and recommend its reading:
The Bankruptcy Boys
Krugman states it started by way of proposal in the late ‘70’s and enactment began in the ‘80’s on the election of Reagan. The media byte explaining the proposal and its enactment was “Starve the Beast”, the beast: Big Government.
This has been going on for more than thirty years. The Beast remains alive.
Unfortunately the beast has grown paper feet. It can’t continue to stand. Its first trip was seen in 2008. More will follow until it collapses entirely. Our government, our economy, our free democratic system is due to fail is the singular conclusion I draw from the Krugman article!
Krugman takes the republicans to task for their universal opposition to anything that might help, anything that might cure. They won’t do it, they won’t suggest anything, they have simply stepped back to watch the beast die.
What do we then do? Let Bush or his Avatar ride in on the Big White Horse, seize the reigns of government, consign the Legislature and Courts to separate far pastures, become our “benign” dictator directed by the powerful Oligarchy behind him? This scenario is implausible, or is it?
This scenario, the fear of it, the vulnerability of its happening, is evidence by Jeremy Rifkin’s views as summarized in his Comment the copy of which I have posted on my Archive: ‘Empathic Civilization’: Is It Time To Replace The American Dream?. Click on the hypertext to go to it.
Rifkin suggests there are folks with a different view point. Theirs marks what I see might be a new paradigm similar that that started by the Emancipation which we live in yet today.
The viewpoint, attitudes and motivation to those on which we older ones have been honed no longer works and is no longer the view point of the younger members of our culture. Ours has been the view of the Emancipation, framed in its response to Christendom which had rigidly enforced its world view that man must is inherently bad and must be protected from his lower sinful nature.
The answer of the Emancipation was a free capitalistic system, the machinations of which, not the principles, would deliver us all to true freedom. It sounded good, America became its proving ground, it has served us well the last 2+ centuries.
It is apparent it no longer works. The “survival of the fittest” has occurred in multiples and they have exerted the power gleaned from competition to the kill that cat. They are the Oligarchs, and believe me, they are in charge.They have killed all competition in favor of their control delivered and assured by their inherent power.
Do the people matter?
Not really, excepting in this respect. What they will accept does matter. History tells us that. Look at every great era, every empire, they all ate themselves for dinner. America and Capitalism have a dichotomy going. In it Capitalism and America are avariciously eating each other for dinner. Who wins? Time will tell.
Unless the new paradigm of View, espoused by the young, puts out the fire burning in this Dinner of Destruction, pull the shade folks the last one out please close the door but forget locking it, doesn’t matter, hey!
What Rifkin said in introduced in the three paragraphs that follow:
Interestingly, a younger generation of Americans is growing up in a very different world than the one described by the Enlightenment thinkers. Their reality is being lived out on a digital commons and in social spaces on the World Wide Web. All across America, our nation's teens are performing hundreds of hours of community service as part of their formal educational requirements. In school, they are learning that every activity they engage in -- the food they eat, the car they drive, the clothes they wear -- comes with a carbon footprint and affects the well-being of every other human being and fellow creature on Earth.
Today's youth are globally connected. They are Skyping in real time with their cohorts and friends on the far corners of the Earth. They are sharing information, knowledge, and mutual aid in cyberspace chat rooms, apparently unaware of the so called "tragedy of the commons." They have little regard for traditional property rights -- especially copyrights, trademarks, and patents -- believing information should run free. They are far more concerned with sharing access than protecting ownership. They think of themselves less as autonomous agents -- an island to oneself -- and more as actors in an ever shifting set of roles and relationships. Personal wealth, while still important, is not considered an endgame, but only a baseline consideration for enjoying a more immaterial existence, including more meaningful experiences in diverse communities…
If we listen very closely, we can hear the whisper of a new dream in the making, one based on what youth around the world are beginning to call "quality of life". In this new world, the American Dream seems almost provincial, even quaint, and entirely unsuited for a generation that is beginning to extend its empathic sensibility beyond national identities, to include the whole of humanity and the entirety of the planet as their extended community. If the American Dream served as the gold standard for the era of national markets and nation-state governments, the dream of "quality of life" becomes the standard for the emerging biosphere era.
Read the rest you will be glad you did.
Oh! Perhaps redundant but... You ask what the foregoing is doing in and Alzheimer's Blog? My answer: My purpose in writing is to share my experience a perhaps help someone else in coping with this idiotic disease. I am trying looking to a better future in the short run. Part of that concerns itself with whether or not we even have a future!
Sunday, February 21, 2010
THE PROCESS OF ENLIGHTENMENT FOUND LIVING LIFE.
Ajahn Chah (an influential teacher of the Buddhadharma and a founder of two major monasteries in the Thai Forest Tradition 1918 – 1992.) defines Dharma (ftnte 1.)as "the truth of the way things are." This gets us a little closer. It's referring to the workings of the universe-not so much the physical laws, though these would be included, but what we could call "spiritual laws."
The reason these laws can be called "Higher Power" or even "God" is that, like the traditional concept of God, they are the unseen forces at work behind all of existence. They are truths that we are powerless over; they rule our lives whether we are aware of them or not. And perhaps more importantly, when we live in harmony with them, we reap the fruits of happiness and freedom.
The foregoing is from a wonderful book by Kevin Griffin entitled A Burning Desire, available at Amazon.com and other bookstores. (ftnte 2.)
I have footnoted this book including hypertext to click and find it at Amazon. I strongly recommend its reading as well as Kevin’s previous book, One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps.
I was attracted to both of these books because of the writer’s analysis of the AA program and its synchronicity with Buddhism. His conclusion seemed the same which I was coming to as I was circling it in my study of Existentialism and the AA Way. I had my epiphany about this when I turned to the biography of Buddha. I adopted this “Way” as my course as I studied on in Buddhism.
I have posted an excerpt from Kevin’s Book A Burning Desire, with his kind permission. This excerpt synopsizes what I see of Buddhism exemplifying the working of AA. It gives a supplementary road map to digging deeper into its spiritual aspect. It also is a wonderful stepping stone to delve deeper into the concept about which I am writing in this part, namely, “The Process of Enlightenment Found Living Life.”
See: Excerpt from A Burning Desire By Kevin Griffin, Hay House Inc 2010.
The excerpt of Kevin’s as well as both of his books say all I am saying with this series The Freedom of Now.
I have been following sign posts all of my life, taking all the turns I have encountered, dealing with each consequence of having done so. Now that I am nearing the end of that road I have been following, all of a sudden, I find a rack placed beside the road containing Road Maps. Looking at a map it shows where I have been going, where I am and where I can go from here. This road map as I study it gives sense to every step I have taken along it.
The Road Map is entitled “THE WAY OF BUDDHISM, A Good Map For All Who Believe In Doing What’s Right!”
Buddhism is about method. It is about how to go about life and gives its reasons why. It limits its offering to: “This is the framework in which you are operating. Here is why you find yourself here. This is what you do to use your time and the space you seem to occupy here.”
It is not a religion, it is not a faith, and it does not identify God nor deny God. God is not necessary to explain the part of life and beyond life to which it pertains. Your god is your God. His/Her/It’s Way serves wonderfully as your Mentor in following The Way.
In the excerpt I have posted you will find Kevin Griffin saying:
Dharma… "the truth of the way things are."
The reason these laws can be called "Higher Power" or even "God" is that, like the traditional concept of God, they are the unseen forces at work behind all of existence. They are truths that we are powerless over; they rule our lives whether we are aware of them or not. And perhaps more importantly, when we live in harmony with them, we reap the fruits of happiness and freedom.
In traditional Buddhism reference to God is not included. To try and understand Buddhism and include a concept of God I came to the following conception:
From the remarkable help evoked from ‘turning it over,’ particularly the fruit that came from that act of doing it, I ascertained power working in me to change me, that change me entirely! This was a power manifestly greater than I could comprehend.
In this way my god was an act that produced a return that was wonderfully beneficial the source of which was in no part mine. The Power acted from the outside on my Inside, and it worked (one day at a time) like a permanent marker. The mark thank God has not faded as yet in the past 35 years.
I carried with me the blush of an event that kept on happening in me that I have come to ardently believe is now part of me that was not a part of me before. Focalized into this context mine has been a remarkable experience. It is an experience I have seen repeated in others time and again. Having had this experience, seeing it continue in me, knowing its source not from me and above all knowing its fruit, this is God!
First my study of Buber’s Existential expostulation on living life and finding transcendence within that context gave me insight into AA’s remarkable gift. Finding Buddhism gave body to understanding it and provided formula for sustaining it.
All of this I realized was contained in that act made on my entry into AA in 1974. I turned it over! The rest is history, a wonderful beautiful history. A history that required me to become a slovenly abject drunk to earn my spurs to ride this fantastic horse that recovery is!
The questions How, Why, continued repeating. “God must work this way,” I thought. Then I wondered “Is God an act?” That seemed silly. “What is God?” I couldn’t answer that. “Is God?” resisted answer too.
Buddhism, as did Buddha, chose simply to not include god in the recitation. It was not needed to say what needed to be said. Theirs was to give the information necessary for the “Operating Manual.” They don’t go into the power or the source of the energy, the mechanism in the machine that makes the energy work, or, the history of its development. They deal with how the machine functions and how to keep it doing so. They describe the context in which the machine is able to work. That is all the explanation needed to say “Now do it!”
My western trained mind continues asking, “But where is God?” My Catholic mind keeps looking for the Last Four Things!
Within the perspective of what I had learned and put into practice I let this question go unanswered until I came across a statement of God that gave sense to the definition lurking within me:
I believe in God as an algorithm. A system of formulas or laws, like in physics, that explain how things have come to be. (Al Past Distant Cousin; Repatriation, Amazon, Kindle addition prts: 3281-84)
This repeats in a succinct way what the excerpt I have posted from Kevin Griffins say with equal simplicity.
Opening both statements on both ends explains both Buddhism and life as I see it and live it.
It is the nest in which I have undergone the chrysalis into the Freedom of Now. It is the place where I have identified the direction I was always going. It explains my object in living.
We are here in this algorithm produced in space and time to live whatever the time allotted to us to be here. While doing so we are required to immerse into this life, be part of it and grow from it. In so doing we have an option given us to do more with what we can while living it. We can use it to transcend what we were and become more.
We have the opportunity to do this many times, coming and going into dimensions similar to the current one in which The Algorithm placed us. As we go from dimension to dimension we carry with us a scorecard for which we are held to account. The Buddhists call this scorecard Karma. It tracks everything from good to bad we have done in the course of living the many incarnations we have and applies the burdens and the benefits to the incarnation we are living.
We are given this option to put to good use.
As I look at my life it appears to me more than just an option to be exercised. Events have continued to occur that I would have preferred not occurring. I didn’t choose them to happen the way they did. It seems they occurred of their own making or the result of many choices of mine the consequence of which never dawned on me.
Because of them I was induced by the pain and difficulty resulting which forced me into positive choices that were to my benefit. These choices I might have never encountered but for the painful interludes I experienced producing the choices I seemed forced to make.
The gift of all of this was learning what my life was all about. This took me out of my focalization into all things material and gave sight to all that available to me which is eternal.
This is life! I express this in a depiction of Life in the following way:
This picture I named torment because it depicts the beauty of encounter in life, which continually is occluded and intruded on by the vicissitudes that go into living it. Nonetheless, like a storm at sea it invigorates by its sheer intensity
Dharma, in Buddhism is described in many ways. I found it explained most simply in a list found in American Heritage:
a. The principle or law that orders the universe.
b. Individual conduct in conformity with this principle.
c. The essential function or nature of a thing.
d. The body of teachings expounded by the Buddha.
e. Knowledge of or duty to undertake conduct set forth by the Buddha as a way to enlightenment.
f. One of the basic, minute elements from which all things are made.
A Burning Desire: Dharma God and the Path of Recovery By Kevin Griffin Hay House; 1 edition (January 1, 2010) ISBN-10: 1401923216, ISBN-13: 978-1401923211
Saturday, February 20, 2010
I ask my reader kind and considerate enough be to reading this: does this make any sense to you? Do you see any truth in it? Or am I speaking a lot of nonsense and tripe?
Having given you all this manure now is the time to turn it over and see if there is a horse under it all.
If there is nothing more but life, nothing before nothing after, then all of this has been an exercise in futility. It has been like flapping wings but never trying to fly.
My proposition in writing is this:
There is something more about this life than meets the eye. All we need is to look for it, using whatever data available, and see what we find.
In the metaphor used in the previous part I described Chrysalis as the process that can occur with us as we live in this life.
The means by which we can effectively enter into Chrysalis is looking beyond all that is material and see it the material directs us to anything that might be out there.
I talk of recognizing a two fold process we have available through which to do so. The first is the material. We can and need to be very involved with it to live from start to finish in life to allow for the opportunity to do something more with life. This is where we enmesh ourselves in this life about us and live it fully.
We have a second facility we can use. It requires the first facility just to keep us alive, more to keep us directed, mostly to keep us acquisitive to something more than we receive on the level or from the first facility viz, that material part.
We can’t go out and look for it. We need to be open to it and when it happens in front of us as it will from fleeting time to fleeting time, we must grasp it as fully as it will allow.
This is when something more can be evoked from what we encounter looking up and out and sensing that fleeting something.
We have had moments of this: Walking in the woods finding a sense of holy. Listening to a beautiful piece of music and becoming one with its grandeur. In prayer or meditation sensing something greater, more, warm, touching us. My personal experience of discovery in recovery from alcoholism is such a moment extended into time; viz. using the tool of “turning it over” and sensing an ultimate cleansing and total change.
These moments happen. They are there and then they are gone. The sense of them remains however, forever poignant in us.
What happens that fails for words to describe it? What occurs that so abruptly affects, the origin of which passes us by? Our only true knowledge of it is in the retrospect we have of it. We see it happen, we continue to live with what it added to us and we cherish it.
Martin Buber in his seminal book I and Thou describes this as the two level encounter we experience in living. The world of “It” which is the material place, the water in which we swim. The world of “Thou” to which we have access. The first level we need to live he says. The second is optional. We can encounter in it and evoke much from it in the very way I describe the fleeting encounter with it.
Buber concludes that it is in the world of “I and Thou” we are able to engage, encounter, evoke, and ascend to something more than what we were. It is in this he describes our ability to transcend our finite boundary invoked by the material of which we are part, and there ascend to a transcendence not of this finite world, ultimately which is God.
He states what the mystics do but opens our door to access it. He describes our limited capability to involve with it and become more by reason of doing it. This all done in our capacity of living in this unique dimension we know as life. It is not necessary to go through the esoteric exercises of reaching for the Seven Heavens.
I read and re-read I and Thou trying to get a handle on it and a grip around it. I am still reading it and trying.
I could go to the Mystics look there and certainly find more.
As I studied and continue to study Judaism, the religious way I have chosen to follow, what I learned caused me to forego aspiring to an understanding of mysticism. My purpose in learning mysticism was to leave the boundaries of earth and enter the realms of the heavens.
In Judaism I learned a healthy respect of living this life in which we are involved to the fullest. It is there for us to use for our benefit. Looking elsewhere shortchanges our mission of looking here while we yet live. “Don’t worry about anything else” they said. “Stay in the Here and Now and exhaust all that has to offer!” “Pray, Do Good Works, for others, and study” “Within the context of living here and now the doing of these three will make you holy!”
That in a nut shell is the Credo I took as mine.
Prayer and Mitzvah (good works) and lots of Study are what it is all about for me. It was in the doing of this that I discovered this new and different mystical gift.
I experienced it first, concretely in AA: “Turn it over, Let go, Let God.” I learned it in the retrospective realization that it worked and it continued to work every time I put it to task on my behalf. This was real, I could feel it, touch it, know about it, and soar boundlessly with it.
I saw it work in countless ways in my life. The most recent manifestly concrete experience been in the coping with my diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). This too became my gift to do with it for the good of others.
My study trying to answer “why” intensified. I found myself reading Karen Armstrong’s Biography of Buddha. This provoked the flash of another light bulb in my head. “Hey, what Buddha said, what the Buddhists do, puts Buber’s insight to work. It gives formula to finding and having the “I – Thou” experience and all of its gifts.
Earlier I had sensed in reading Buber that AA and recovery were “I and Thou” in action. Now I found formula for inducing that in the form and function of “Living the Way of Buddhism.”
If I had soared before; if I was in wonder before, or what another philosopher calls “Radical Amazement” I was there in what I read. I was more there in what I studied. I had a real sense of arrival and total congruity with the whole of me as I put it to practice.
I remain a Jew. A simple formula attracted me to embrace Judaism. I wanted to be holy in a way that I could really be holy and sense it to be so. Prayer, Mitzvah and Study became my road map. Using it, with life continuing to produce experience for me, I learned and ultimately found Buddhism. Now I have more peace and serenity than I ever thought possible.
Being a Jew, I follow the Way of Buddhism.
All of where I have been, all of what has happened to me now makes sense. More than that where I am going even makes more sense.
In my next part of this series I will step more deeply into Buddhism, into where that fits in so magnificently with what is.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Religious speculate, philosophers and theologians analyze, and the everyday rest of us experience it. There is magic in this life. It happens. It works. It is wonderful. Put another way there is something more than meets the eye.
Intuition produces many great “Aha’s” in our life time. There are points during our lives when something all of a sudden is very clear. You know it; now you understand it, “why couldn’t I see and understand this before?” you ask.
Where does something like this come from? If like me you are sufficiently precocious
to ask “Why?” life can become a wonderful adventure.
My first insight in this was in Alcoholics Anonymous. I joined a club whose only qualification for membership was a desire to quit using alcohol. If you find yourself there wanting to quit this means you can’t or you would have quit before going there. This is The Last Man’s Club. Of myself and all the others there, I could see we had all wanted to quit, tried to do so endless times and could not.
We all were addicted to alcohol, caged in our addiction, utterly defeated and demoralized because of it. We had no place to go but down further in the direction we were headed.
We were told, “Turn it over to your higher power. Your higher power can and will take it over and cause you to quit.” I did, we did, we quit! WOW! Just like that! In varying degrees of simplicity to difficulty we quit, better than that we stayed quit!
This was beyond remarkable. All the effort I put to it, I couldn’t quit! How ever I tried, how often I tried, I couldn’t quit. Without the effort, with no more than the willingness and the act to turn it over to my higher power, I could quit and I did quit!
At the time I was astounded. Since the time I have asked “Why?” It happened to me, it happened to so many others, it never happened using the other formulas we had so many of which there were.
Since that time I have continued to ask, “Why did this work, so easily, when nothing else did?”
I examined my religion at that time; I was then a Catholic. There were answers: Sanctifying Grace, Faith, Holy Communion. All very good, but, why did they not work before when I tried them.
I became Jewish. In my continuing study of Judaism I discovered the existential philosophy of Heschel and Buber, supported by other Theologians, Christian, Eastern, over history.
I learned that we seem to operate in two frequencies. It is like we are in frequencies in which a two way broadcast is available over each. We both talk and we listen on each. The two frequencies are two separate broadcast channels, or stations, on which we are able to do this.
One station is completely in the world framing us and limiting us within that frame to all that is material in it.
The second is station is different, kind of quirky. There is mystery to it. We tune into the frequency for the station; we can sense it when we get tuned and are able to speak in it and listen to it. Still we can’t quite get it tuned sufficiently then keep it tuned to hold on to it as an open available channel. It is like getting a distant channel in the middle of the night. We have all done that.
On the first station, let us call it K-LIFE; we do our thing and have a full handle on it. We live day by day in it, with it, becoming more adept at it as we continue with it. It is our life and our sustenance. We need it to live and we love it.
The other station, let us call it W-MYSTIC is altogether different. It is there to use if we choose but gets along quite nicely with out our use. If you want to play at K-LIFE that is fine, go ahead, it tells us.
If we are curious about it we can stay and work with it. But it is peculiar. We get but snatches of its transmission, hear it only in part. Like a distant station, we tune it in and it slips right away.
When we are in connection, having communication, giving response, something really weird happens. What has transpired in the brief moment of tuning in, of giving to and getting back in the two-way broadcast, something comes of the exchange that appears all on its own, kind of like it is pulsating there all of a sudden between us and the transmitter.
That something is more, greater than what was being given by us or taken by us in the two-way transmission. It has mystery to it. It is so much more than was there before it emerged in the course of the two-way transmission. It isn’t the property of the transcription nor is it something that came from us. It is there in-between. Having been part of the exchange that brought it into existence during the transmission and stays with us becoming ours after the transmission.
It has added something to us; it raises us up over what and where we were. It makes us just a little different.
We don’t know quite where the addition came from or how it happened.
All we know is it did, absolutely, it is ours completely, it needed the communication with W-MYSTIC to have happen and it is real.
The foregoing exchange is exactly what happened when I tuned into Station W-AA, a subsidiary station of W-MYSTIC. Something more was added that wasn’t mine. That was abstinence. Along with the abstinence, a substantial change was produced in me. I acquired a formula wherein I learned I could apply the same principles that caused me to quit to living my life.
The change that flowered in me was beyond my imagination. That blossoming has continued every day since having its start thirty five years ago.
My experience and that of my fellow down and out drunks, who aren’t that any more, is not an accident, it is not unique to us. It is something that can, does and will happen too many living this life in ways that defy imagination.
It seems when and after we are born we grow into life and become integrally connected and bound into it. We are that life in it, around it. It is this life that sustains us as we serve it. This is enough and for many in life it is all there is of it from start to finish.
The fortunate ones of us at some point look up from the mire we are joyously muckering around in, as if to check the weather. When we do, if we are lucky, we see more than we planned on. We see there is something more altogether.
Whamo! It distracts from what was heretofore a pretty good deal. “Sure it’s muddy, you can’t have it all, but it sure as hell is fun mired here in the mud!” Why leave it? Why do differently?
The distraction will not go away. It keeps at us. The mud starts looking more like just that. There is more than just mud in which to play. We can have more. We can build on what we gathered about us in the mud and make it something more.
This is when we really tune into W-MYSTIC and commence real conversation, back and forth, with something growing between and becoming us, more and more.
It is that point that we transcend our finite bounds and look beyond what we’ve come to know as all there is.
It is as we leave the cocoon we entered as we started to look up that the Chrysalis is complete and another life in us emerges. We become something else, something different than we were before.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
In The Carnival Of Reality, Why Don’t We Just Get It Right At The GetGo?
The answer to this proposition is in the details. We are borne into a material world brimming full with trinkets, doodads, baubles and all kind of other attractive distraction. We are given the equipment with which to be in touch with all of these by way of our senses and our cognition. They as we are contained in a boundary of space passing through a flow of time. It is exciting to behold! It is exciting to be a part of this giant carnival of reality.
As babies we gradually tune into all of the bangles of space and time. We don’t have a clue but to use what we have to connect with all there is to embrace. And why not? It is there, it is all we know, and it pleases us.
Then begins our process of living, the doing of which starts another process of acquiring to ourselves aspects evoked from this world we encounter. We learn to talk based on what we see, hear and reason about. We remember about what we see, what we thing about it, what name we give and classify it, what relationship we have to it, it to other its, all of it in a whole and how that whole relates to us. This is our world, it is our reality, and we neither observe nor know anything else. This is our identity; it is who we are in where we are and what we are doing with it.
Making this identification we naturally become this identification. Trusting in our work of constructing this identity from the raw material in which we are, we trust it. It is with this trust that we let it then dictate what we do with it. This is when we become what we have been becoming. This is when we let our construct decide, based on how our construct works in this environment, how we maintain or modify what we have become.
It is at this point we suffer the risk of losing sight of who we are.
There is no magic to what has happened. As an example, put you as a little kid in the middle of a candy and ice cream shop without any supervision or rules. Guess what you do. You eat everything you can get your hands on. Not only that but you keep on doing this, not sopping.
Finally you stop because you are so full you cannot take another bite. Soon after your belly starts to ache and you get really sick from overdoing it. No one told you not to eat, at least not all of it. No one said “Be careful, don’t each so much you get sick.” You had no idea of this, you were free to eat it, you did and “oh my” the consequence.
This then becomes a learning experience if you have any kind of a brain about you. The next time you eat less, and after a few times you learn more of a monitor because of all of the other consequences such as getting fatter and fatter.
This kind of a lesson is easy. You act, you suffer the consequence, you figure it out and modify future actions as they relate to this action.
It is not so easy when the harm of doing is not as apparent by its consequence. This occurrence comes with the doing of a thing that is enjoyable each successive time it is done. In the process of having the pleasure should it be doing damage sufficiently obscure to go unnoticed, you simply keep right on doing it. At that time the damage builds to the point of being obvious you may well be already hooked or sufficiently inured to the pleasure of it there is little chance you can quit.
This can so easily happen to us, particularly at that time we step into the identification we have with it, we simply do life with all the ornament and think no further of it. It is the way things are, we have always done it this way, it makes me happy more than it does not.
If the gods are smiling a spark intrudes on all of this. That spark is the thought: “Is this all there is. Doesn’t anything come next?" Having this thought we recognize one thing for sure. Each event of pleasure ultimately ends, it gets over with. The series of these events in life ends as well. It ends absolutely the events stay we do not. The question that should follow is this: "Does the having of all of this wonder justify all the pain and effort of getting it and holding on to it just to lose it in the end? That ain’t fair!"
It is at this point we can open another set of eyes to see what our baby eyes did not see. These eyes are the eyes of how does this all add up? When we see all we have seen with our baby eyes, all we have done from with what we saw, what finally resulted, the question asks us: “There must be something more?”
It asks the same way the little kid did upon seeing a pile of horse manure who started looking believing for all that manure a horse had to be around here somewhere.
These questions that ask after we have exhausted the view of our baby eyes is metaphorically our search for the horse!
We can look in a lot of places, seek much counsel of many, and see what other folks see. There are any number of ways and places we can and do look. In fact it seems there is a parallel path often in process in which we are doing this very thing. A sincere adherence to a religious way, a serious spiritual sense, a study of theology, philosophy, history other topics are others.
Often our best Oracle is our own experience in life. Discerning through our own history what has worked, what has not, what has been counter productive. Let me assure you all of those are there in each of us.
There is much to be learned from our failures, more to be learned from what we did with them. Our successes are good too for the real and true satisfaction derived from the experience of them. (This is as opposed to the illusory pleasure duping us to do more that fails us in the end.)
As we discern and distinguish in all of this that which is ours; if we then analyze that to determine what if any sense can be made of it;
It is from this we can begin to understand inherent truths contained in all of this and determine such of them as are trustworthy for further implementation.
This is the point and the opportunity we have to change lanes and undertake a new, different and so much more fulfilling a life made available to us by being here.
This discussion will continue into what it is we can use to get where it is we want to go.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I finished the last post in Part 2 of FREEDOM OF NOW with this comment: “We no longer have any freedom. We are bound by what we have become to continue to do whatever it is directs us to do.”
Our journey has been this:
Having spent this time learning during that childhood period where “we wonder what we’ll be;” having established our modus operandi (working method) for making our way in this life; We find it works so well we work at it. It is in the period, the middle years “we work at what we’ve become.”
We identify with this so well we become it. What we become tells us what to continue doing to maintain and improve it. In this process we learn, we acquire skills, we acquire property, we acquire ego (our identification of self, based on the identification of what we have become.)
We work hard at this and the task of it is such that we have no time for anything else but the time involved in maintaining who we are. This will include family, community, job, relationships, etc; all of that going into “what” we are.
The measure of our success, ego gratification, view of ourselves is the scope of this enclosed universe we have created around us. It becomes for us all there is. We can’t get enough or it. We try to hold on to all of it. We are disproportionately distressed at the loss of any of it.
So, we just keep trucking along with our concentrated view fixed on getting and holding on to all that we see which to us is all there is.
Questions creep in occur at some point near the end of the middle years, if not before, in many of us.
The first question is why do we do this?
To be happy is the ready answer.
“Are you?” is next asked.
“Not really, I still feel empty. It is almost like I have been trying to fill an open hole. It is always as empty when I am done as when I start” many of us answer.
This answer produces the start of a new and different kind of an identification process. It is called identifying delusion!
The delusion once we see it, name it, look for its place in our filing system, forms the conclusion that all we have been working at amounts to no more than this:
What we have seen through baby eyes; shaped into working tools; have seen through our middle year; used by us to become what we have constructed; we then undergo a transformation in which we come to believe that is us. What we see of our result becomes our Mammon. We then commit to Mammon’s service.
Then dawns this apprehension; “Hey, this has clay feet too.” Much as I make, acquire, put away, hold on to, ego identify with, death beckons resolutely! Death will end it all and require we leave it here as we go! Death is coming. There is no holding it back. It is inevitable. It is the absolute “over!”
Nothing but nothing pours over beyond it. It is the final of finals.
Why did we go to all this effort just to get nil in the end?
Is there anything redeeming about our having lived?
Do Reacher and Kindred face the same quandary when all is done and over? I can say Reacher probably does not. He has nothing invested nothing lost. When it is over he can tell himself, “It was a good run guy, you stayed true to yourself each step of the way and helped others as you passed through their way!”
We do not have this consistent peace and purpose to us. We are too busy striving to let it in. There is no happiness or satisfaction in accumulating, acquiring, being what we are set about being. It starts out that way but always, always, falls short. It misses its mark.
We do however experience moments like this, this which Reacher has a lot of, moments of natural happiness, peace a sense that all is right and as it should be. Such of these are:
• At the lake for the summer holiday. Nothing to do but what you want to do. My metaphor announcing this was the slam of the back screen door at our cottage on the lake in front of a deep woods waiting further exploration by young boys like my brothers and me.
• Finding and becoming a part of a group of new friends who know nothing of you in the past. You must be fairly likable to be accepted into the group just as you are. You have no baggage but to be who you are.
• You leave home for college or a job. You are on your own. Yours is to be what you are going to be.
• You simply go on a vacation you are looking forward to and need the break it offers you. You are there and the time is all your own.
• Each one of these can produce an exhilaration based on the freedom from expectations. You need be nothing more. No yesterdays, no tomorrows just today.
This is the orbit in the Freedom of Now. The better each instance is measured by the number of old rules dispensed with and new rules not as yet in place. You are free just to be. No rules!
That is Reacher’s life. He takes each thing as it comes. He takes nothing from it. He moves on. His pockets are empty as they were when he moved in. He always has done something good the benefit of which he leaves there. The sense he has of that good is all that leaves with him.
That is the way life should be. We should leave it natural, unadulterated by monkeying with it.
Unlike us, Reacher is not mired in what has gone before. He is not mired in where he is going. He is not mired in getting or keeping while he is here. He is not mired in living up to his consequences. He has acquired the Freedom of Now and holds tenaciously to it with Acceptance of it as it is.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
In my last blog post I was describing the “THE FREEDOM OF NOW”
Reacher and Kindred live with the freedom of now. Our life is not so.
In the process of living it seems we are constantly creating limits for ourselves. We start out upon entry into our world limited by space and time. This is but the start of the the limits.
We live we die and do things in between. We have no conception of a before birth nor any after death. There is no evidential reason to believe there is more than that limit. We are what we do within the time between.
As we acquaint ourselves with our identity as infants we start learning and making identity with the materiality we sense we are in. We occupy bodies. We observe other bodies and other material things. We see differences about all of this outside of us. More data is observed the more there is for us to see.
We set about identifying the differences about the objects not us along with those characteristics which are us. We classify these for sameness, for differences, everything that identifies one as that one and those either as the same, similar or different from one another.
We soon detect everything about us has a name. Noting this we start learning the names of identification then the names of definition we hear said around us about each. We adopt that as the name for that thing. If we cannot do that we then produce our own name for it.
We put all of those names in categories and classifications drawn from the identification we have made of it as well as that we hear or see made by others. This name with its classification and what we have learned to be typical of that thing or that class or that category becomes our working knowledge of that thing.
Once that is done we know by what we have done with what we have seen, then identified, than filed in our memory banks. No longer do we have need to look at that and determine all there is to see and know about it. This is done in our filing system which includes all of our conclusions about it. This is a simple shortcut we do day in day out, having started the day our senses open and we input data through them.
By the joint observation and classification producing identity we limited ourselves in what we can know about what is around us and accessible by us.
The same process is true of learning how to do a task.
The first time we encounter and undertake to do a task we must figure out how to go about it, how to do it in the best most expeditious way and then go about performing the task. The observation, planning, reasoning and production of the how to formula takes up a great deal of the time necessary in which to do the task.
Once done we remember how we did it. We do this by remembering the formula, not the process of formulating that formula. No sense in that, once done, it no longer needs doing if you remember how to work it.
When next we encounter a same or similar task we don’t have to go about re-inventing the wheel. That’s done all we need to do is remember the how to formula. We would be considered and consider ourselves nuts if we sat down for figure it all out again. We have a shortcut in memory that works. Why not use it?”
This, like with words makes all the sense in the world. Life is short. If we fill its time with relearning something we already know and remember we are short cutting ourselves out of life each step of our encounter with it.
But again, we have limited ourselves from exploring further. We could have overlooked something, not looked far enough, found something new and different not seen the first time, or not evident by reason of its absence or be not ascertainable until we have learned other formulas for doing other things that when combined with this task could allow it to be done that much better.
We do not take the time because of the facility of the short cut.
It is from this foundation we start our life of learning which is followed by our life acquiring to the point where we become what we have learned, what we have the ability to do, what we have acquired, and how all of that fits into our view of ourselves. We have found our identity and then we become our identity. After that it is our identity that directs us having replaced us in the process.
It is somewhere in this process, in this altogether different paradigm of life we have entered that we lose the Freedom of Now.
What we have learned, what we know, what we have learned to do, what we have acquired, that directs our present and sets the goal of our future view. It does this so well that we lose sight of our future and become ruled by that which displaced it.
We no longer have any freedom we are bound by what we have become to continue to whatever it is that directs us to do.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Life in its simplicity.
I just finished a book, Gone Tomorrow by Lee Childs. This book is one in a series of stories about Jack Reacher an Officer retired from the MP’s. He was an army brat, stayed in making the military his career. He fit in. That is until cut backs invited him to leave. Mustering out finds him in civilian life where the book series starts with his experiences as a civilian.
He has no job, no home, no ties, no roots; he is attached to nothing. He has his retirement, no property, the clothes on his back, tooth brush in his pocket, ATM Card accessing his bank account for what little money he has and the lesser amounts he needs from time to time.
He never stays in one place, drifts from place to place with absolutely no purpose nor desire for any. He is happy and secure living by his wits.
His life is a series of his reactions to events as they seem to capture him. Each book in the series involves an event that calls on his skills as a Cop to untangle them when no one else seems able to or wants to.
He enjoys the challenge, enjoys the experience of finding the solution as he is guided by a deep, internal sense of right and fairness. Righting a wrong or helping another in need of his skill is the ignition that gets his motor running.
As I was finishing this tenth book I’ve read I wondered: Gee if he was paid in the end or was fulfilling some purpose I could understand it. But no, he walks into trouble, it envelopes him then he solves it walking out and on his way. How can I like these books I ask myself, the basic plot is unreal.
While reading this book I ordered another. This one, Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd is about Adam Kindred who is involved in witnessing the aftermath of a murder just done, where the guy just murdered asks him to remove the knife from his back whereupon he dies.
No witnesses, unknown on the backstreets of London, Kindred, acting against better judgment but motivated by facts in which he has become part, reasons he best disappear and find the murderer himself as expect the police to look further than him with his finger prints on the knife and the victims blood on his hand.
He disappears in the environs of lower London and acquires an entirely different persona in which to operate. The author noting an aside says Kindred begins to enjoy the freedom of his new identity unattached from the requirements of his real identity. Then the author goes on in telling the story.
There is a sameness to the two plots. Reacher has his identity just abruptly changed from the identity which had been his entire life. He lives this new identity and chooses to embellish it in no way. He takes no control over it. He just lives it, event to event, enjoying just the way things are.
Kindred has a new identity happen to him out of the necessity of survival. He finds the freedom of it and enjoys it.
What is this about?
Both of these books tell stories in a plot circumstance of real life, not the lives we live. Theirs are unfettered. They move from event to event, living only the event letting the outcome be whatever it might be. They exercise no control beyond their immediate actions/reactions. They don’t look for what they get into they don’t look out for what will come of it. They simply live it.
Do we live this way? No way!
We come into life and start acquiring, then start identifying ourselves with what it is we acquire. We than do what is expected of what we have acquired based on the identity it has made us, believing that is who we are. We become what we are instead of who we are.
We spend our lifetime working at and with this process of acquisition, becoming it each step of the way. At some point a transformation occurs and that identity created by our acquisition starts dictating to us instead of we to it.
The end of our life seems to be ungrappling from all of this.
I have written before which is so apt here:
A young person wonders what she/he will be?
A middle age person works at what he/she has become?
An older person wonder what it’s worth?
When we are older we either try to hold on to what it is we acquired then acquired us. Alternatively an older more introspective person tries to untangle it all and ascertain what life was supposed to really be about.
This later task is the far more natural and satisfying in crowning the purpose we had in spending this brief period here in this life.
What does this have to do with Reacher and Kindred? Unlike us they are tapping into life staying who they are and living life as best they can through each event the encounter.
When we start in life we are like Reacher and Kindred. We are on our own with no preconception or rules directing us. We are free to respond however we choose to what it is we encounter.
We have no have to’s, no that’s what’s expected, no expectations.
Then we complicate it with a lot of crap. The crap is that which we acquire to embellish our identity. Once embellished the identity rules and we are living up to it. No longer are we free.
When it is all done and over, as we see in the introspection retrospection and contemplation adding it all up, we come to realize that the what and the who were no more then distractions. We were the reality.
The consequence of having lived is found in the events we encountered and the manner in which we handled them. How the measure out is what our lives have been about.
If we could live like Reacher and Kindred and not complicate how much freer and nicer life might have seemed for us.
Friday, February 12, 2010
In the Huffington Report this morning Jim Wallis Founder of Sojourners; speaker, author, activist commented in an article entitled Elizabeth Warren and Goliath.
I am immediately reporting three paragraphs from the article and recommend you click on the title in hypertext to go to it in my archive.
Wallis speaks of his interview with Elizabeth Warren, Harvard economist who is also the Chair of the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel. In the summation of the interview Wallis noted:
Warren's narrative of the U.S. economy, and the banking industry in particular, was very clarifying. For most of U.S. history, our country went through repeated periods of boom and bust, with all the consequences of those cycles. But after the Great Depression, a number of new financial regulations -- rules for the road -- were put into place that were designed to protect average Americans in particular from the continued abuses of the big banks and the often terrible results in bad times for ordinary people. Two important examples were the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) to protect people's savings and the Glass Steagall Act of 1933 to prevent banks from speculating with depositors' money. And the new rules worked for several decades, creating both prosperity and security for many American families and an emerging middle class. But starting in 1980, the rules were first watered down and gradually removed, and banks were free again to engage in both the abusive and very risky speculative behavior that helped to bring on the Great Depression,
and resulted again in the current Great Recession.
We are now living in a "lawless" economic environment, according to Warren, where our biggest banks have become our most dangerous predators -- and with no protections for the rest of us against the "law of the jungle," as she puts it. The consequences for our economy, our culture, our families, and even our souls have been disastrous. This is not the way we should want to live, Warren says, and it is creating a world which we should not want our children to grow up in. She makes the urgent case for reform with the compelling analysis of a top economist, the family values of a grandmother, and the moral arguments of a person of faith. The sins of the financial world have become both a moral, and even religious, issue from the perspective of the Methodist tradition "which still shapes me."
Warren is the "mother" of the idea for a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA),which is in the current financial reform bill recently passed by the House of Representatives, and is now slowly making its way through the U.S. Senate. But the big banks are aggressively fighting back, trying to prevent their own regulation only one year after the financial meltdown for which they were in large part responsible. There seems to be no remorse, let alone repentance, from the big banks -- only record new profits enabled by their taxpayer-funded bailouts, and enormous bonuses to the executives who made the very decisions that brought the economic system down on the heads and hearts of so many Americans. The biggest banks in America are giving shame a bad name.
This gives perspective to the issue few of us deny. What has been allowed since 1980 is wrong. It is absolutely wrong. As much as we have heard the disingenuous characterizations by the right wing claiming to people of faith, ready to politically police their view of sin such as: homosexuality, birth control, gay marriage, etc. they have overlooked the sin at the core of their platform.
Unbridled capitalism without the controls of compassion in the form of regulation is basically sinful. But it is the god of the Right. Mammon himself!
Why am I raising this issue in my Alzheimer’s Blog? Simple, look at the looting being perpetrated in the name of AD support. Whether it is serving the Pharmaceutical Industry at the cost of care, the intolerable profits sucked by a few out of our Health Care System, or all the other scams perpetrated in the name of “We care and will take care of you!”
Do not misunderstand me. I do not fault the millions of folks who do care and who are doing something about it. My fault lies with the misdirected, manipulated by hidden agendas, calculated to suck the financial soul out of any steps funded by public or private grants.
How often have the capital expenditures for a development for caring for folks, ended, after profits are taken for the promotion, for the development, for the lobbying, for the legislation, for the finance, including the share for the brokers, bankers, finders and of course the lawyers and bond administrators. Then there is payment for the contractors, construction supervisors, materialmen, workers, unions, and the institutional administrators and representative for whom the care facility is built.
There is little surprise when too little remains to pay the help to take care of the patients the development warehouses.
This is wrong. Too much justification rationalizing greed intervenes and disrupts and defeats the duty we have to one another to care of each other.
Sound a little preachy? So it is. But I am tired of the other guy fleecing us in the name of their god!
Thursday, February 11, 2010
This article opens a door rather left closed by most with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) in their midst. It is embarrassing, takes issue where it might not belong, above all it is difficult to deal with!
The issue is sounded in questions asked to often:
Why don’t they care? Why don’t they visit their Dad? Why aren’t you interested in happening to me? WHY DO YOU DENY IT IS HAPPENING? What’s the matter, can’t you handle being around me any more?
These questions could go on the rest of the page. Those above speak best in describing the frustration suffered by those at home; those that are close; those that are doing it all!
There are so many reasons for this so few of which are understood. They deal with a dynamic in a family that is deep seated, generations thick, and overwhelmingly in control.
The article speaks of a few of these. Those of us affected by AD can tell you far more. Let the article open a discussion on this topic about which I invite comment.
Too often in our society the treatment given someone diagnosed with AD is: “Try this and come back in a year.” Than we are put out to flounder and float.
The organizations purporting to support AD, all of them, seem to be out raising funds to finance the Pharmaceutical Industry’s Search for a Cure.
No concerted effort is being performed by anyone in an organized fashion to help people between the time of diagnosis and the time they are consigned to the warehouse (Locked Ward of the Nursing Home) to help us cope with the total paradigm shift through which our lives have passed.
The discussion on family dynamics is but one example of the need crying desperately for help.
Since June of this past year when I was on a panel of AD afflicted and spouses appeared before the Federal Administration on Aging (AoA) jointly with the National Alzheimer’s Association conducting a fact fining hearing.
These two organizations were charged by Congress to find what was needed to treat and care for Early Stage AD. As part of the panel I presented the following recommendations:
Five Programs worth advocating for ESADIt was laudatory to see the direction given and the fact finding started and the opportunity given us all to offer recommendations based on our experience. It is disparaging to see the absence of any follow up or development with the exception of the change of The Social Security Adm. ruling allowing disability for Early Onset AD, which was in June well into process.
a. First Stop Programs: A Place With People such as Early Stagers that patients just diagnosed can come to and learn about AD and how they and families can deal with it. This could be supplemented to Alz.Assoc with a resource list of services. The existence of this should be circulated throughout the Health Care Community.
b. Support Groups: A Place With People where Early Stagers agree to attend with regularity and be open to the public designed for Early Stage offering support, camaraderie and regularity.
c. Volunteer Coordination: We need to put together a central source to find volunteer opportunities for Early Stage AD where they can be directed to do volunteer work in the range of their respective ability.
d. Structured Wage Earning Workgroups: Something comparable to Sheltered Workshops for Early Onset AD’s to provide both work and wage when they have lost their jobs, still need gainful employment. Not everyone has disability and not all disability is enough. Social security can take two years to get if at all.
e. Creative Programs: To Stimulate the Minds and Prolong Early Stagers in Early Stage. These need to be structured in such a way that they are social, creative, intellectually stimulating and such to capture a person still functional and in need of more than the distraction afforded by most day care programs.
Let’s hope more will come. Let’s hope effort will be re-directed. Let’s hope more will come aboard as the coming catastrophe becomes more evident and it is recognized early detection equals early care which produces prolonging Early Stage, which keeps us out of the costly Home longer.
Let’s hope too more concerted effort goes into finding Economy in Care for all of us before Consignment to the Warehouse.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Looking at the two acts capable of doing the same thing you quickly realize if your brain is slow like mine, taking some time to figure it, the two acts are one in the same said in different ways.
To cope with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) we are being told: “Eat right; exercise daily; participate in social and stimulating creative and intellectual activity.”
I have posted two articles on my archive which give cause to the admonition “Eat right…..” They are:
• MCI SYMPOSIUM: EXERCISE TO IMPROVE YOUR MEMORY?
• BOOST YOUR BRAIN HEALTH
Click on each article its hypertext will take you to it.
Both articles speak of what we can do to maintain our brain health, hold on to if not improve our cognitive acuity.
The first reported in the Tangled Web, a blog I strongly recommend, Mona Johnson reposts on a segment of the MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment) Symposium. This is the latest of a series Mona the operator of the Blog has run.
The report deals with exercise that is helpful, shows testing results of how it is helpful, and talks some of why it works. It reiterates with authority what everyone is telling us about the value of exercising.
Thee second article taken from AARP’s monthly magazine is more extensive on the issue directing itself to the entire admonition.
Among other things it speaks of cognitive reserve. That ability which allows folks with a high cognitive reserve to appear as if they do not have AD, or at least be high functioning with AD. It speaks of discovery of extensive findings of brain changes of AD with no or little corresponding symptoms. It speaks of the different kinds of memory loss and memory that can in whole or part remain quite functional.
It discusses anomalies typical of my AD which too often produces the comment “You can’t have it” which I accept as well meaning but hate nonetheless. “What do people think when they say this to me? Do they think I am faking this crap?”
On initial neuro-psychometric testing findings suggested damage in the frontal lobe and left hemisphere, as I recall. The first as well as the second neuro-psychometric test showed me as functioning fairly well in those areas of the back part of the brain where memory processes. This second test nearly three years later came out pretty much the same as the first.
I had distinctive loss in executive functioning, multi-tasking and visual perception, off the charts on the low side.
I do forget. What memory impediment I have is slowly progressing. But the progress of that as well as the other functions I see as impeded are minimal when measured in time and in degree. It occurs in bits and pieces, often so discrete I have to wait and see if that particular miss persists of not. It is so discrete that often my wife, highly perceptive and observant misses it.
In other words as to AD, “I have it!”
I am nonetheless lucky in this:
• My AD was caught early thanks to a discerning wife and doctor.
• Thanks to my AA training I accepted the diagnosis soon and resolved to make the best of it.
• I learned the Admonition “Eat right; exercise daily; participate in social and stimulating creative and intellectual activity” early and chose to really work on it.
• I added medication to the recipe.
• I must have a high cognitive acuity.
Taking particularly serious the admonition of activity I read, I wrote, I stayed engaged. My attitude was not to give in but to do because of it.
That has been good for me. My cognition is better for it.
The second article from AARP verifies so much what I believe. What it recommends, which I am doing, works immeasurably. Read it.