I did a public reading from Clockwork Purple

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Today was the official launch of Clockwork Purple and five of us gave a public reading of one story each. I was asked to read my story based on the prompt “Just who will you be?” (page 133) That was a story I wrote just after reading about Winston Churchill’s method of presenting his orations. There is a photograph that I had seen of one of his famous speeches, and it was written in a poetic format. His reason for doing that spacing style was that it made it easier for him to pace his speaking pattern.

I posted that story on September 12, 2016. “Just who will you be?” It has the poetic formatting, whereas the style of spacing was stripped away for the paper publication. I read the story from the book and at the conclusion people clapped, and later a few said they enjoyed the story. If I ever read that story again in public I am going to read it from the original poetic formatting. I just now read it, in the quiet of my writing room, and it flowed much better than when reading it from the book.

I did have some trouble reading into the microphone. I have a soft voice, so it is necessary to get within an inch of that thing for me to be properly amplified. A further complication was that the light for reading was directly above my head and the mic cast a strong shadow onto the book I was reading from. I didn’t feel uncomfortable reading to the group and sometimes the flow was very pleasant. I need to get more public experience, not because Clockwork Purple will ever become a great success, but because I am writing Love Your Life with the intent that it will reach a very large audience so it may become necessary for me to develop at least a modicum of that skill.

I enjoyed reading “Just who will you be.”

I’m not a perfectionist but I like some things to be right.

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I’m not a perfectionist but do I want my book Love Your Life to be right! It is important that it be right if it is going to reach the audience it must reach if it is to help them to cope with their problems. I have spent a lot of time on the cover and the first few pages because it is important to find the right tone. The book is intended to give some ideas on how to cope with a problem and then give some workable suggestions. The thrust is about previewing a problem from a safe distance where one can practice the coping methods and have some success with creating a workable habit before confronting the real problem. This isn’t new and I doubt if anything in this book will be new, but it is intended to put a way of doing the necessary actions into practice.

I have attended a lot of group discussions on various human problems and it seems most people have a basic understanding of what they want to do and give examples of what they do to accomplish these ordinary things. It all seems so reasonable and logical and doable, and then you look at the results of their efforts and see a considerable contradiction and obvious shortfall. I hesitate to say failure but the level of success, when compared to the powerful-sounding convictions of the rhetoric, is pitiful.

I don’t condemn these people for their shortfall, nor do I pity them; I just attempt to observe the reality of their situation and try to find a workable solution and present my idea of a solution in such a way that it can at least be understood and tried. It is an attempt to —

Treat others better than I treat myself.

 

Love Your Life new page spreads

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I’ve been showing the progress on my new book Love Your Life to my friends to get feedback. It has been very productive of cleaning up little subtle imperfections and finding the truly novel things that need further development and amplification. For example, my writer’s group members were challenging the science behind my assertions. To which I replied that this book wasn’t discussing the scientific experiments and laying out statistical proofs of what things worked and what didn’t work. There are many diet books that give a superabundance of those kinds of arguments. The strange thing is that the science seems to prove contradictory things depending on which data the author chooses to emphasize.

Another complaint was that the book didn’t concern other problems such as alcohol, drug addictions, and adverse childhood experiences. They thought these problems were too deep to be affected by the simple ideas being presented in the spread. If dedicated groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, the Betty Ford Clinic, Adverse Childhood Experiences remedial groups and federal government programs can’t cope with those problems, how can I hope to even influence them in a tiny way?

Love Your Life is based on a simple idea that a person can control their future behavior by practicing some simple mental exercises now. Even while scanning the book in a store, a person is encouraged to practice the exercises. If a person does that even a single time, it is likely to influence their behavior when they encounter the situation discussed in the spread. The book uses diet as the basic frame on which to build a whole system of personal control. It will bring into a few page spreads as many of my personal discoveries as possible. The language is going to be designed to be easily accessible to everyone and to be easily translated into other languages. Jerry liked the idea of each spread having a couple of bullet point ideas. The spreads I already have are condensed thoughts, but by bolding a few key phrases each spread will become even more eye- and mind-catching.

Where will this whole project be in a few months or a few years?

What our emotions are really saying about what’s happening.

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The conversation this morning was about emotions. Where do they come from, what do they mean, what do they tell us, how do we control them, and should we even attempt to control them. Several of the participants are or have been professional people helpers of one sort or another so the conversation proceeded with some degree of profundity. It was generally agreed that the emotion of fear locks people into a narrower band of usually defensive and hostile responses and that the emotions associated with love bring on more open and mutually constructive actions. It was also said that these emotions were coming from within the person and their bundles of past experiences which influenced how individuals responded to the situations confronting them. A stoic would agree with these statements so far but would continue that the responsibility of the individual ends with their ability to influence the situation. If they have no influence they have no responsibility and must only control their emotions and their internal responses to the ongoing situation.

Perhaps an emotion isn’t what our conscious mind is thinking and feeling, but rather what that vastly larger entity our subconscious mind is “thinking.” It seems appropriate to put the word thinking in quotes because it would appear that our subconscious mind isn’t really thinking, it is a summing up and flowing together of everything that seems relevant to the moment. That probably is a vast array of subconscious habits. That is, habits that are never seen in the form of external behaviors but nonetheless interact with the multitude of other subconscious habits and create a unified action. There must be a technical term for what so obviously must be happening within the brain. If the brain is doing anything, which obviously it is, then there must be large numbers of routines and subroutines interacting with one another.

When an emotion percolates to the fore as a felt thing, it must be coming from an interaction of all these inner things. However, there are probably compelling habits that underlie emotions of fear and the other basic emotions.

The emotions focus our attention on what is important at the moment.

Clockwork Purple – Emotional Dalai Lama

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Book chosen by Ahonu – Crystal Therapy – How to Heal and Empower Your Life with Crystal Energy – by Doreen Virtue, Ph. D., and Judith Lukomski

Randomly chosen unseen page by Aingeal 50

Randomly unseen line 8 chosen by Linda

“Now that you have strong sense of the emotional components”

Alexa set timer for 47 minutes – 47 minutes starting now, 10:52 – 11:38

The current Dalai Lama and University of California-Berkeley professor of Psychology Paul Ekman were walking along the Berkeley waterfront talking about their favorite subject. People. People and their emotional relationship to this world. Ekman had just published a new book. His current book is more inclusive, Telling Lies, Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage. His previous books became the foundation of a TV series called Lie to Me, which ran for three seasons. Their discussion along the beach I later discovered was about asymmetrical facial expressions and their relationship to lying.

Unbeknownst to any of us they were walking past my residence at that time, dock 28 in the Berkeley Marina, and my dog Tiger began barking at them and ran over to them to check out their smell, as dogs typically do, and thus began my short conversation with those two men.

I could tell by their close attention to my facial expression that they had noticed my face was partially paralyzed. I immediately told them that I had had a severe cold a month before and the infection had hit my trigeminal nerve and paralyzed it. The technical medical term for that condition is Bell’s palsy. They both were familiar with the condition so the discussion progressed quickly to what we were all interested in,  the observation of asymmetrical facial expressions and their relationship to truth and emotions.

I was telling these strangers about the problems I was having with my friends because of my Bell’s palsy. It happened when I would tell a little joke about some foible of my friends. They would call it sarcasm, but I thought of it as humor at the minor expense of my friends, or sometimes of me, but because of the Bell’s palsy my face would take on weird expressions. My friends were accustomed to my sarcasms and were fairly tolerant of them, but they would see this new and bizarre expression and would be subtly freaked out. We all laughed a bit and went our separate ways.

This happened in the Berkeley Marina and now that you have strong sense of the emotional components of that conversation you can see why I value –

My conversation with the Dalai Lama and Paul Ekman, which was brief but memorable for me.

What is the ideal number of choices to have?

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There is some energy behind the idea that when you have no choices you are in a state of bliss. But there is also energy behind the idea that having perfect freedom of choice is the ideal condition. There are stories of monks choosing to go into absolute isolation so they can dedicate themselves to union with the ultimate. There are also stories of people coming out of solitary confinement claiming that experience is extremely painful and to be avoided.

Others claim that the middle path is to be chosen because that route leads to maximizing one’s chances of finding a life of contentment. In contradiction, there are people I know who claim that hiking alone in the wilderness, where one is totally dependent on their good judgment to avoid death, gives meaning to life. This strikes me as contradictory because it seems bad judgment to thrust one’s life into risky situations simply to be in risky situations.

Others might be willing to take chances but only for a good reason and where the potential payoffs far outweigh the potential catastrophes. These people would also seek to have a reliable fallback position from a failure.

These ideas all seem fraught with some pre-existing personal need to get more out of life than life is able to give them in ordinary situations. It feels like a desperate grasping at life and a willingness to risk everything for an illusion of victory over death. Those seem like black and white choices: either they get their glimpse of heaven and then feel they have gripped ultimate reality or they die trying. Or is it just bragging rights that they have cheated death? That is their reward; that is, if death doesn’t win the gamble.

All choices come down to a decision in a moment of to act or not to act. It is the proverbial fork in the road. Even in the supermarket breakfast cereal aisle where there may be over a hundred unique boxes to choose between, there comes a moment of deciding this box is the one I take home. Somehow we have narrowed the number of options and, presumably, every one of those narrowings was some kind of a choice, some kind of a this not that. Even if the choice is between this vast number of boxes versus that vast number of boxes, it is a binary decision. It is a fork in the road choice. That choice is followed by another choice, even though the choice may be very nebulous, and so it goes until a single box is in your hand and soon in your home and soon in your breakfast cereal bowl.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it, and take it again until it is a dead-end and then quit.

The ideal number of choices to have is none.

 

A super-trivial quibble with Carl Sagan’s star stuff

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This is meaningless, but I have been annoyed for years with one of Carl Sagan’s most famous statements, “We are made of star stuff!” He made that semi-accurate statement because by mass (by our body weight) we humans are made of elements that came into being by exploding stellar processes. In many stars, the hydrogen created in the earlier processes of the expansion and cooling of the original matter of the Big Bang gets compressed into the other elements that make up the periodic chart of elements seen in science classroom walls.

My quibble, and I too will insist that it is nearly meaningless, is that the greatest number of atoms in the human body are hydrogen atoms. See Wikipedia, Composition of the Human Body, where down in the chart and text we discover that 62% of our atoms are hydrogen. These hydrogen atoms are little and they are light, but they are numerous.

The greatest number of our atoms were not made in stellar processes but in the condensing of matter from the Big Bang. Most of the atoms that we are made of were in existence in the form of hydrogen even before the stars formed. We would not exist without all the elements created by stellar evolutions but even more basically we would not exist without the abundance of hydrogen that preceded the formation of stars.

Most of what we are preceded Sagan’s star stuff. We are the offspring of the Big Bang.

Another day, another page of Love Your Life

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I’m getting a better grip on what my new book “Love Your Life” must do to reach a billion people. My friends say I’m setting myself up for a big disappointment if that’s my goal. A best seller may reach a million people, but what I’m aiming at is a thousand times bigger and that’s obviously impossible. Although it may be impossible in the practical sense for an old guy in a remote little town, it is essential for the health of humanity. It is obvious to everyone who thinks about the human situation that something must be done immediately because it is impossible for any living species to consume vastly more than its base is able to produce sustainably.

“Love Your Life” isn’t about my wants, it’s about your existential needs.

 

Learn how to be happy and healthy when young.

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Yesterday, in Epigrams about Health, I wrote, “To maximize a long, happy, healthy life, learn how to be happy and healthy when young.” That seems like a sensible bit of advice, and most people would probably claim they are following the path. They would claim they rarely do anything that would imperil their health or sanity, and yet when I listen to older people talking about their lives, which I do quite often, they often mention the risky things they did when young. Usually, these stories are told within a setting of mild hilarity and are accompanied with statements that they wouldn’t do that again. And yet, when they tell their current problems as anecdotes they seem to be following the same general life strategy. They talk about the problem people they encountered as youths and then talk about the problems they are having with the people they now associate with.

I see a pattern in their actions when they were young being repeated in their old age, but it appears they don’t see it. What can I say? What can I say that would be heard by them? More importantly, what can I say that younger people would hear and act upon?

Find and interact with happy old people and avoid angry old drunks.

 

A Dictionary of New Epigrams – Health

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A Dictionary of New Epigrams

Health

Happy, healthy, wise and wealthy are worthy goals and health is the one that is most available to your conscious behavior, but they all support one another.

Happiness comes with the situation of the moment and contentment with the relationship with one’s personal environment, but health can be ruined by risky actions.

The knowledge of how to be healthy is half the way to being healthy.

Most disease and bodily failures are more easily prevented than cured.

It is the height of foolishness to risk one’s health when it is possible to walk away from disease and danger.

The goal of wisdom is to acquire and maintain happiness, health, and wealth.

It is the heart of morality to treat others well, and treating your body is a moral obligation as important as treating others’ bodies well.

With health, you have the energy to pursue happiness, wealth, and wisdom and without it those wonderful things are distant dreams.

That slogan of the 1980s,”Don’t worry, be happy,” might have been more productive of happiness if it were “Avoid worry, seek health.”

Keep your body as healthy as possible; you might need to use it for a long time.

For most of us, health is not something you get — it’s something you don’t lose.

Look ahead! To risk life and limb for silly things is surely to lose important things.

To maximize a long, happy, healthy life, learn how to be happy and healthy when young.

Our bodies are constantly being assaulted with diseases, but if we keep our bodies healthy we can win those battles.

He who has health has the potential for positive action and growth.

With health, we can certainly earn money but with money, we only might possibly buy health.

Money helps you feel good when you are spending it, but health lets you feel good all the time.

Health is greatly improved by eating and walking the right amount.

Sustained worry weakens a man and deep fear sets him up for death.

Health is acquired and maintained by doing the right things and avoiding doing the wrong things and generally, that means moderation in all things.