Ten Things I have learned in life. (So far!)

1) It is your life. Live it.

2) Learn to forgive.

3) The hardest person to forgive, is yourself.

4) You are going to make mistakes, miscommunicate with someone you love, and fail at something. So is everyone else.

5) There are no perfect people: there are people perfect for you!

6) If you are lucky enough to find love, enjoy it.

7) Take some time to empty your mind.

8) If you can’t find someone you love, find something you love.

9) Learn as long as you live.

10) Find some Art to appreciate: music, painting, theater, writing, nature, the medium doesn’t matter- it might even be math, or science, or construction for you- but find the ART.

Now I lay me down to sleep: “perchance to dream,” to quote the Bard….

And now I lay me down to sleep. Perchance, to dream (with my regrets to the Bard).

I think about the day, this day, the one ending. It was a grand day, filled with the ordinary, which makes it extraordinary. Just a day. Like any other day. Or was it?

I find that I always think about the next day, just before I sleep. I wonder what it will hold, or what I can do to make it a day shaped by me. By my thoughts. By my deeds. Or will it be one of those days, where the things I thought I would do, I didn’t. Or things I never expected to happen, happened. Will my day control events, or be controlled by them? I don’t know, it isn’t that day yet, It is still today.

When I was younger, I could dream about all the days ahead. Now, even though I look forward to tomorrow- and even farther in the future than that; there may not be one.

I don’t find that morbid, or disheartening- instead, I find it encouraging. Why? Because it makes my day, to day, this day- special in a very wonderful way- I had it to live. Yep. The whole day was mine. I could squander it with dreams, or fill it with busy. I could even – if I was so inclined- lost it amongst alcohol, anger, regret, remorse, guilt, or self-righteousness. I didn’t. I spent it; to quote a great friend:
“In my own backyard.” And it was grand.

So, as I close the day, with plans that may take months to come into focus ( I promise to write a blog about some of the thoughts and conclusions I have come to in my Sixty First Year on this plane of existence), I can’t help but be a bit uncertain about tomorrow. Not with the uncertainty born of an inability to direct my own destiny, but with the uncertainty of what may, or may not be.

Like a letter opened, or an email clicked on, or a Facebook posting- tomorrow is filled with; well, with what you might never know. Tomorrow works in the same way that drives you to keep checking your Facebook, your in box, your emails, your text messages, and your tweets; inconsistent rewards.

It might be the day you get six minutes to change the course of your life. Or , it may be the day where you finally move those rose bushes to the side of the house. Or, it may be the day, where that lifestyle change you have been failing at- clicks. Or, it might be the day, that you get that email that sends your heart soaring, a new job opening, or a picture that makes you smile.

Or, It might just rain.

So, I go to sleep tonight, with thoughts of my future fading into dreams. If I awake, as I usually do, those dreams become the stuff that makes me want a tomorrow. Today, was yesterday’s tomorrow. Tomorrow will be today, and then yesterday, comes again. So, I lay my head down to sleep- “perchance to dream.”

Or, it might just rain.

If we become immortal, what form would religion take?

“What if we could live forever, what form would religion take?”

That was the query I received from my friend Bruce in an email. It delighted me with its many implications. Imagine living forever. Science is marching towards that goal with alarming intrigue. It is a multiple discipline approach, since we don’t really know what causes aging. Free radicals? FOXO gene? Eroded teleomeres? Or imbedded on/off switch?That, as they say, is beyond the scope of this essay. What we want to think about is what effect would immortality have on religion?

My first thoughts, upon reading Bruce’s missive, tumbled out. There would be no delayed gratification; i.e.: Hell, or Heaven. No longer necessary. You would have to make do with life here on earth. And now. All the things we assign to the “next life”, well, we would have to bring them into existence in this life- if we wanted them. Mansions in the sky, all our friends around again, seeing folks we love later, well, that would be gone.

Death, for immortals, would be almost unheard of. Maybe by accident, or maybe, after living a few thousand years, people would “opt out”. I already know people who are tired of life, and ready to “go”; after just 80 years. What would centuries do to them?

Oh, and another thought popped into my head; we are talking about life with the spring of youth, as eternal as life. You would not be an old guy with aches and pains, wrinkles, and bad knees, no teeth, failing eyesight, hearing, and libido. You would be young and strong, and vibrant, running over with piss and vinegar; but you might be 793 years old. Or older!

So the concepts we hand off to the afterlife, would be ours now. Perfect bodies; or at least, bodies free of any ailments or disease, or defects, our own bodies at their prime- forever. So, that whole idea of becoming perfected after we die, would have to be scrapped. In fact, a subtle shift would have to take place; because we would live forever, we would have to make this place a “Garden of Eden”; other wise, we would find ourselves buried in our cumulative wastes. We would have to solve each and every problem facing mankind, in order to live out our lives.
War? Done. Water, food, education, energy…each problem would have to be solved , and since we live forever; the bright folks would figure out ways to solve those issues.

Religion, would have to become in the moment. Not a concept of the next life, or a way to achieve immortality, or perfect bodies. It would have to become a spiritual attitude in real time. Loving now, and learning to love now. There would be no need for sacrificing now for a delayed greater good. No suffering for a reward.

Sin would have to be reconsidered. Society would have to be reconstructed. You can’t have a young man, looking like a fit 20 year old ; who actually is 280 years old, hanging out in a bar with a woman who is actually only 21 years old. It wouldn’t be “fair.” LOL

And how would you handle things like, birth, sex, marriage, employment, career, parenting? Immortality would make birth as rare as death. Sex couldn’t be considered a sin anymore, or probably wouldn’t. How would you even keep the libido alive for thousands of years? I know folks who need a different partner after just a few months.

In fact, would sex even remain a drive in immortals? Even those of us with short lifespans, less than a century, learn to love beyond the capacity of just sex to express it. For some, sex is a distraction. For immortals, it would become something they did in their “youth”, or only occasionally. All the sin, and virginity concepts would have to be dropped, or modified. Maybe some nuts, would decide to try and be “virgins” for eternity. That might be a form of religion. Or monogamy. Maybe some religious cults would try and hang onto that. Two thousand years with the same person? No other friends. Just a couple- together for eons? Not sure that could be done.

But, maybe the opposite could be done. You know, a century or two with someone, and then a few centuries later you could meet them and go: ” How are you?” And have genuine interest. Interest bereft of guilt, and anger, and malice. Those negative feelings, and the concept of sin, would (I think) have to be erased in a culture that could live thousands and thousands of years without dying.

Perhaps the new religions would go the other way. Instead of fire and brimstone, and guilt and sin, and remorse; maybe the new religions would elevate gracefulness, and compassion, and elegance to a new level. Maybe the religion of immortals, it to have a cup of tea in a perfect setting, with the perfect conversation, and perfected silences. A contemplative moment, shared.

Would taking your own life become a ritual shared at the end of a long journey? Or would it be the ultimate crime? Would we even keep our bodies as they are? Would we invent ways to change form, or switch bodies, or even inhabit other life forms? Would that become forbidden by religions of the future?

What would become of music and art, when artists can live for millenniums? Where would Bach be at now? Just a mere three centuries into his life? What would a Michael Jackson concert be like a thousand years from now, if he hadn’t died? Would we sculpt with DNA? Would we have art that not only contained visual stimulation, but emotional, and pheromonal stimulation. Maybe even direct experience?

Would God even be important to anyone, except as an intellectual curiosity ? Wouldn’t we, in actual fact, have to become the “God” we envisioned, in order to survive? Merging our technological, medical, and biological advances into something resembling “God.” Wouldn’t we begin creating the world we want? Socially, we would be forced too. Would “elders” become the leaders, or relegated to a different level of society. So, that folks under a 1,000 years of age, live with gay abandon, and then, like High School students, they get released to the wider world, only to find out how limited High School really was.

I am so glad I have smart friends , like Bruce, who with a single comment, can unleash a stream of consciousness (which, by the way, we would probably figure out in a couple of centuries of eternal life) to question wether or not religion would survive the evolution of mankind. Would it just take new shapes, or disappear completely? Who needs a god, if you are one. Or so like one that the difference becomes truly academic.

As the wicked witch said with her dying breathe : “Oh what a world, what a world.” And it would be.


Some thoughts about Hope.

Aloha my friends,

Yes, you think deeply and well. I do know where your going – because I have been/am there- in so many ways. Wanting to make sense of the world- may be one of the worst things you can do to yourself. Like many – I belong to no religion, no faith, no sense of knowing the answer; or that the Man in the sky, set it all up perfectly. It just is. However, like you, I do think all that is – may be the real intelligence.

How the human mind works ( and no one knows) seems to me, to be very similar to how anything that uses energy – or “eats” works. I think the Universe itself – is “intelligent”. The connections between stars in a galaxy, and the connections between Galaxies and their local groups – fire and oscillate- just like the human brain. I am constantly amazed at simple things- when I took a biology class in University; it amazed me how they skipped over things – that, to me, were profoundly life altering. Things like, we have something like 256 separate SPECIES of bacteria living as one unit – a human being. That we have DNA that every organism on the earth has ( A template – if you will) and a lot of it, isn’t human. That even though these 256 different cells cooperate – not a single cell is “smart”; yet, they all stand up together.

Yep. 10 trillion cells make up your body, and you can stand up. Try and stack just a few thousand pennies! Ten trillion cells, less than a billionth of an inch thick, can form well YOU. They glossed over that. How do they “know” to stand? Or even stick together? A lot of them are still “eating” and “fighting” to survive – as was pointed out in an email. Is intelligence an emergent property from putting enough things that eat, into the same space, and then forcing them to cooperate in order to survive? Or does each cell have a native intelligence? Or, is there a larger organism, of which we are all part – that just like our 10 trillion cells, uses 10 trillion stars instead? And even thought the temperatures are much different; we are made of Star Stuff. A bit of every star, is in every one of us. Are Stars are next step? Besides being made of star stuff, maybe we become star stuff. Then that Star Stuff, become Galaxy Stuff, and then the massive local groups, finally “GET IT!” Who knows? Heck, how do we know anything? How does a stupid, blind, and hungry collection of independently formed, and separate organisms; stand up and say: “Hello everyone, I am Kevin.” Where is the “I” ?

Okay, now I am drifting off of the point ( Really? Me? Which me? LOL) I also liked the idea of Terrence’s, or maybe the Stars sent It to us:  of eating chemicals, that then caused us to connect our cells in such a way, they could transcend eating. Way cool.

When I met Joe, it is his humbleness that struck me. This was no boasting Christian, or spiritual guru- this was a guy who got two messages out, maybe even three: Love, Hope and the thrill of having even a single moment of either. He himself, assigns no special powers to his wound, yet is not averse to letting others draw whatever hope, or peace they can from bringing their “man” with them. That is why I sent his story on. I am not a good enough writer to convey the simple humanity of the man. As I said, even with that experience, he never joined a church, nor a religion. Like a lucky few, Death does not scare him. For me, I choose life. I know how death hurts those that remain – the process of dying , I am not looking forward to. It doesn’t scare me. I have no fear of death. What I do have, is a tremendous will to live, and love, and understand. I haven’t even lived long enough to “know” anything. Even things I knew, have changed, and that is if you just count the things I once knew as facts.

The early humans worshiped rocks and trees. Then Nature. Then they made natural things, divine. Then (briefly, twice in mankind’s history) they worshiped themselves, then a single god. Then they used mechanics to describe the Universe, then Math, now Information; so I “know”, that there will be yet another description of what is- and another guess at why it is.

I don’t know why mankind even exists. Heck I don’t even know why I exist. I don’t have a clue to my purpose in life. What I am – so far- pretty sure of , is this; The more you can love, and the more you can forgive, and the more you can let people be exactly who they are- the closer you get to being human. Whatever “you and I’ ARE, it is bigger than the 10 trillion cells – and maybe the Star Stuff in us “Knows” that.

Okay, I am thinking again, so I must go eat. LOL Thanks folks,  for your thought provoking, intelligent, and wonderfully exciting emails. I do enjoy reading them, and answering as best I can. Smiles and hugs to you all. Kevin at sea

Dreams, not the Sleepy kind of dreams, the Dreams that keep you alive and Hoping.

Dreams. They are funny things. Not the sleep type dreams, that will have to be a whole other blog. The dreams I mean, are the everyday ones. The ones that border on Fantasy. The kind of dreams that place that wistful smile on your face, as you dry a plate or coffee cup. The ones that make you stop, just before you put that plate on a shelf, and make you freeze for a second, as a wave of pleasure, or almost being in the dream for a moment- and shudder with a pang of delight. Those dreams. The working man’s dreams, the housewives dreams, the dreams of kids everywhere, the dreams that show us a world we may never reach, but carry all of the time. The ones that make us think…”Someday.”

Some people call them “daydreams”,  cynics call them “pipe-dreams”, other folks call those kinds of dreams- “Fantasy.”  I call them: “Fuel for the soul.” What those dreams do, is act as the embers AFTER the fire dies down, to lay smoldering, until a thought, or deed, or action – makes them flair up into reality. Dreams like those, are not the fire dying down, but the fire waiting to catch.

These dreams keep hope alive, smoldering, sometimes just a small ember of hope remains of the dream, but, it is enough. If it catches, your world can change.  These dreams have  held marriages together, that should have failed, until the ember catches, and the hands reach, and the contact brings the dream into existence. Sometimes, the dream keeps the stress of everyday life – at bay. Sometimes, the dreams lead to experiences you would have never thought possible.  A trip gets taken, and you find a calling or a purpose; perhaps one not even related to the dream.

One of the best years of my adult life, came in the year I only chased my dreams. I had no bookings, no place to work, just enough money to survive a year without a job. In that year – I got so creative, and energized. Weird things that didn’t work, but allowed me to dream. It allowed me to work with folks from India on a project that broke exactly even. No profit, but very profitable in other ways. Another “failed project” that year, involved getting a book published in Japan, on cell phones- just the lessons in negotiations , and working with another culture; were worth the effort and risk.  Getting up each day, excited about what to do – that isn’t possible without the Dream.

How powerful are these dreams? They can change lives. They can restore hope, motivation, purpose. Oh, they are not simple dreams, even though people think of them as daydreams, a pleasant way to while away the hours of mundane existence. “Oh, Nay, Nay.” to quote one of my favorite comics (John Pinette).  Let me show you how they work in real life.

My best friend and I , had a dream back in the late 60′s and very early 70′s. We were going to get a beat up old VW Van and drive from Cleveland, Ohio, to San Francisco, California. That dream gave us many long conversations- and hours of : ” Maybe this will happen…or that….or we could…or let’s invite….and we could take odd jobs….visit this place on the way… .” All those wonderful “What ifs” , and , “Wouldn’t that be cool?”  so luscious to swirl around your mind, leaving you with an aftertaste of possibility. We didn’t go. Life, as they say, got in the way.

Flash forward years, in fact- decades. Two old guys, still wondering how our lives would have turned out; had we taken the trip in that old beat up Van. Dreams gone by. Dreams past. Yet, the dreams remain- giving us many more hours to talk about what might have been, could have been, and maybe even; should have been. Suddenly, a new dream starts from the embers of the old one.  “Hey!” We think. The new dream flares up. “Why don’t we get a nice slow old airplane – and fly the old Route 66? Just you and me.  We could take 3 weeks, rent a plane, start in Cleveland; then fly to Chicago, head down Route 66, from above!” “Cool we say.”  The dream bubbles with excitement. It is happy again. Dreams are flowing like rivers of champagne on New Years.  We could camp under the wing, if there isn’t a cheap motel. Oh, yeah, and we could fly over meteor crater, and take pictures.  We wonder if you are allowed to fly over the Grand Canyon – we assign each other tasks to look up. “You find out if we can legally fly over the Grand Canyon, I will find out how far meteor crater is from Route 66. Oh, and try and find out the hours for the Cadillac Ranch – where some Artists, buried Cadillac cars with fins, up to their back doors.”

The dreams inspire planning. The planning inspires actions. We talk about how to make it happen. We set a date – June 2013. Will it happen? Will it remain a dream? Who knows, a year and half, after the age of 60 , well lots of things could happen.  The dream though, has already had an effect, on both of us, bringing us closer- making laughter and preparations, fun and challenging.  How do we buy fuel, when do we stop to pee ; after all , we are both over 60, with the proverbial melon size prostrates and walnut size bladders. How many hours a day should we fly. The dream has taken flight , without a single thing done in real life, except for dreaming about it. It will be fun. It will be exciting. It might not even happen. Who cares? The adventure has started- As a dream. The dream will carry us for a year and half, and maybe, the Dream will fly – and so will we. Dream on. Dream On. DREAM ON.