re: A funny thing happened to me…

 I found: peace. Not just peace, but a sense of soft contentment earned by hard tears. What I found , was this: I have loved, and been loved. I have failed, and succeeded. I have given my best and knew it. I have not given my best, and knew it. I have wronged, and asked for forgiveness. I have been wronged, and forgiven. I have been stupid, silly, daring, and courageous, often, in the same day. I have been kind, shallow, mean, and deep, often, in the same day. I am not the man I was, nor the man I could have been.I am not even the man I thought I would be, yet, I am still- a man. I have cried tears of happiness, and of sadness. I have lost while alive, and lost some to whatever is next. Grief has found me in many ways, but not in as many ways as joy has found me. I have comforted others in their hour of need, and held small babies so that their mother could sleep,  I had a mother who held me too. I have a family,  one of my own,  they like me just the way I am. Yes, a funny thing happened on the way through life, I found I had lived my life, with all that came my way-  if I screwed up a couple of things, or let them fester, I own them now. In fact, everything I am, is because of everything I did…and when I hug, it is open and honest, and trusting, even after sixty odd years. A funny thing happened o- I found peace. Smiles, Kevin

Change your attitude, change your mind: change your mind, change your life: in fact, a little change can do a lot of good.

Change.

It is everywhere. Even in couch cushions. LOL

Real change though, where a person, an outlook, or a way of doing things, changes, well that can be life changing. LOL

A change in attitude was taught to me early in my life by my Mother. She told me this after I fought a neighborhood kid at school:

“Kevin, if you knew one more thing about that kid, you could forgive him. If you knew one more thing than that, you could learn to like him.”

I did what she said, and wouldn’t you know it? He and I became friends.

My Dad told me this little gem, again after a fight in grade school ( I swear, I didn’t start them. I was small, as in truly really little, and bullies seemed to find me like the proverbial flies to honey.):

“Kevin, fighting doesn’t solve anything. Most people who fight, don’t fight out of anger, they fight out of fear, which looks like anger.”

I thought about that this week, when my friend sent me a whole story on that ugly incident in Missouri. As you all know, I do not watch the News for a reason. But big stories get through any of my defenses. Even if it is just a hint of what most folks watched, or read, or listened too. In Missouri, all they did was change the attitude of the people in “Authority” and suddenly, Peace. At least, so far. Why? They are still police. All that happened is the attitude went from one of complete control, with the crowds as the enemy to an attitude of : ” a wrong has been done, and people have the right to voice their opinions. A simple paradigm shift, the removal of displays of force, and the scene reverts from violence to sadness. My Dad was right, Fear often shows up as anger.

In my old world of Comedy, you only had so many minutes on stage, and when time got dolled out in three or five minute segments, well, lots of comics got angry. “I can’t do much with that short of time on stage. They won’t even know who I am.” I disagreed. Time wasn’t a constraint, it was an opportunity. I changed many a comics mindset with my advice- I know, because dozens of them thanked me for this little paradigm shift. Here is what I told them:
“You only have five minutes?  Great! You can practice your Television sets. Not only that, but you can practice the different lengths that a Carson, or Letterman, or Daytime Talk show would give you. How cool to have your “A” sets for TV, already polished, done, and your timing down pat. Not only that, you have an opportunity to develop your persona, your comedy voice, and your viewpoint, so that they all are apparent in five minutes on stage. Folks who like what they see, will want to see more. It isn’t a restraint, it is a gift to become a more condensed you. A chance to learn to sprint instead of doing a marathon. It is a chance to sparkle.”  A lot of comics listened, and doggone if they didn’t sparkle, and get more TV shots by just changing their attitudes from what they were giving up, to what they were getting.

I have another friend who is slightly overweight. All he did was remove sodas from his diet. That’s it. In one year, he lost 18 pounds. No other adjustments…he just quit sodas. I asked him how he felt. “Great Kevin. Just great. The secret is this, I stopped trying to lose weight immediately. I read a comment from a guy who said: “If you just quit drinking your calories through sodas or fruit drinks, or chocolate milk, in  a year, you will lose ten to twenty pounds. ” I thought: “That can’t be true. Who wants to wait a year to see results?” Then I thought: “What the heck. I didn’t lose any weight last year. Well…I did, but I put it right back on and ten more to boot! LOL  I challenged myself to just stop drinking calories, and then I would weigh myself one year later. One year later, just like the man said, I lost almost 20 pounds. This year, I am going off of fast food. Yep. Just fast food. If I lose as much as I think, I may simply disappear. LOL”  NOTE:  My friend lost another forty pounds in one year. Just by not going out for fast food. Want to know what his doing this year? He is not eating after 6 PM. That’s it. He is within 20 pounds of his High School weight , and he didn’t even diet. LOL

Now, for the one last bit of how powerful change is. This story is borrowed from someone who knew Stephen Covey (the Author of : Seven Habits of Highly Effective People). He said he saw Stephen give the most profound marriage advice he had ever heard. Apparently Stephen had given one of his mega seminars, and well wishers were crowded around, when an Old Friends of Stephen’s showed up to announce his divorce. Stephen pulled the guy aside, and said:

“Why are you ending a 25 year marriage?”

“I don’t love her anymore.”

“Then go home and love her.”

“But, Stephen, I don’t love her anymore.”

“Then go home and Love her!”

This , apparently, went on for some time. Stephen’s refrain to any of the guy’s complaints, grudges , and rants, remained the same: “Then go home and Love her!”

Exasperated, the guy did just that. 15 years later, at their 40th wedding Anniversary, the guy thanked his wife first of all, for not giving up on him. Then, very quietly, he thanked Stephen, turned to the Audience and said what Stephen said:

“Then go home and Love her.”  I did, and I do.”

Smiles, Kevin at home

re: When does love end? When does friendship end? Does it?

Most people I talk to say “true friends” , stay friends. That true love never dies. Well, to quote the Amazing Randy: “No amount of belief makes a fact true. ” You can believe that three plus two is six…and it never will be. Maybe, friendship and love, are the same way? Lots of people believing that the answer is not five.

How many friends  do you have that have been lifetime friends? Friends who’s closeness never varied? Friends who you always considered the most important people in your lives?

When you think through it, I think you shall find what I did: FACTS DON’T MATTER.  If you believe you are in love, you are. If you believe they are your friend. They are. Sadly, if you believe that they love you back, and they don’t, well, at some point it becomes obvious to everyone except the oblivious one. At some point, mental health comes into question. Yet, a truly mentally healthy person, has to love someone, or some thing, or some activity that brings passion and the juice of living with it.

So maybe three plus two is : Six.

It needs no proof. LOL

How to lose a friend….

I guess there are many ways to lose a friend, but not many ways to lose a true friend. To lose a true friend, well, you have to do something really stupid, like fall in love with them, or ignore their feelings. Either can work.

I lost a friend by getting so wrapped up in self discovery, that what we had built – the two of us, became all about my view point, and less about my friend’s feelings and thoughts. I got so hyped up in figuring out why I was me, I forgot that other people were there for the journey too. A lot of friends, especially when you are younger, tend to slip into that : “Oh dear, I think I love you,” phase. That leaves the one who doesn’t love you, but did like you – a lot, squirming as they try to defuse the situation and go back to being “just friends.” Which, of course, never happens, because the specter of  love either: denied, unrequited, or possibly flaring up again, lays in wait to spring up unexpectedly in the middle of an argument, often, the last argument- as friends.

Friends put up with a lot of your crap, as you do theirs. Sometimes, it hurts. You apologize, and they know you mean it. All is forgiven, and you actually grow closer. Once in a while though, the hurt punctures their soul, or their heart, the friendship bursts, leaving scattered pieces of guilt, shame, sorrow laying around amidst the : “I didn’t mean…”,  “wait, let me explain…”  and ” please , listen, I am sorry…” that are strewn about tripping any tiptoeing back into the relationship from happening. You have lost, a friend.

It isn’t easy to lose a real friend, and maybe, given enough time, you don’t. Yet, when the friendship renews, the roots are damaged. You can grow new ones, but the situation has changed, and the friendship needs to heal again. Sometimes it leaves a scar, other times, the scar is just a reminder, and a good story. Once in a while though, the scar is disfiguring, altering the friendship into a scared, timid, not very forceful shadow of its former glory. Housebound, in a small room, in an almost empty heart.

Friends can accept: “I am truly sorry.”  They can’t accept: “Oh, I am sorry. Did that hurt you?”

Cherish your friends. And your friendships. Don’t let them end without a fight, and don’t end them with a fight.

Re: I love you. How many times can you say that, to how many people, and mean it? I , for one, have changed my mind. True love is rare.

When I was younger, I thought that you could learn to love anyone, given enough time, enough in common, and close environs. Now, some sixty years on in life, I have changed my mind. True love, Romantic/Lasting/Deep love, is rare. It does take time, chemistry, and experiences, both bad, and good, to cement the foundation of love, to the scaffolding of life, and time. I have said: I love you, to two women in my life. Kathy , has been in my life for 34 years. Had she left after two years, I would have still loved her, I just wouldn’t have been with her anymore. My first love, well, is the reason I had a second love, I learned how to love.

Most chemistry type loves, end rather quickly, as soon as the passion wears off, it is over. Other loves fade once the kids come, or the careers come, or change comes. Think back to your “best friends” , a prerequisite for true love , by the way. If the one you love, isn’t also one of your best friends, your love is fragile, no matter how long it has lasted. Brittle. It can shatter in a moment. Without that best friendship, love is strong, but not flexible. So how many of you even have a best friend? Not a recent friend, not a work friend, not a church friend, but a friend , more than that, a best friend. One who knows all about you and likes you anyway. Not many of us have lifetime friends. They tend to be situational, locational, or occupational. Not best friends, they stay that way for life. If you haven’t seen them in 15 years, and you sit down to talk, it is like no time has passed since you last saw each other. That is how powerful best friendships are…the physics of time, space and duration, do not apply. I have a best friend. I have had him for more than 50 years. My wife IS my best friend, and I love her romantically too. I was given two loves in my life. A very lucky man. Some folks never even find one. And some, never even find a best friend. Some lucky people have two, or even three…after that, the circle of intimacy is to wide to support true best friends, I think. Unless those friendships have all kinds of attachments and limitation.

I call my best friend once a week, and have for decades. We never run out of things to talk about, and both our spouses are amazed, as He is not a talker, and I don’t have many new stories. Yet, we talk. Yep. We have a blast, and when we hang up , our spouses say: “What did you two talk about?”  “Stuff.” We really don’t remember, or we have plausible deniability. LOL So how many friends do you have? How many would you consider Best Friends? I thought I had two best friends a couple decades back…until an unfortunate disagreement over War, of all things, ended it. When he came to visit, and that was the visit that ended our friendship, my daughter said something truly profound, and she was only a new teen at the time. Here is what she said:

“Dad, are you sure he is your best friend of eighteen years, or was he your best friend eighteen years ago?” It turned out to be the latter. Yet, the women I loved, I still love. My best friend, is still my best friend. I have five close friends, and two of them, in my mind, could easily grow into true Best friends. The only thing my five close friends have in common, is that they all like me, just the way I am. So, not counting family, and children, and in laws; I have three true best friends, five close friends, and many good friends. My inner circle is one, than two, than five. Almost a fibonacci sequence. LOL I couldn’t handle more , I don’t think. Not and give them the love, attention and time, necessary to build the friendship, or love, to the point where time, attention, and love are no longer necessary. They have formed a black hole, and once you enter that loving inner circle, you are there for ever.

Love is rare, loving is not. Embrace love in all its forms. Make friends, for you never know when they may get sucked into that inner circle that never lets go…and always loves. Peace. Kevin

re: Hey how about this, marriage advice from a man, who is …well, married, and has been for a long luxurious time, to his Hero: Kathy

Okay, one of my friends sent me a couple of articles on marriage advice, mostly trying to get men to be what their women want them to be. And all of them skipping over the biology. So, here we go…and let the chips, and soda fall where they may.

First if your partner isn’t your best friend- good luck. Find some one you really really like, and learn to love them. If all you do is Love them, when the Love is over, it is over.

Second: Friendship and affection are the lifelong partnership builders, not love and sex. Now, loving, friendly, affectionate sex…is a great combination.

Third. Men, aren’t women, never will be, never wanted to be. I am sure women feel the same way, they want to be women, not men. I don’t know why we constantly ignore biology. It isn’t your destiny, but it doggone sure is a major player in how you feel, what your needs and wants are, and what things fill you with passion. A million years of evolution isn’t going to go away because you have an intellectual veneer that is less than one lifetime old.

Another note on this (in case Feminists – who have a major point or two to share, have their hackles up) if you are over the age of 15 , you have already figured out that smart people are exactly that. Strong people are strong people.  Kind people are kind people. You get the point, human traits don’t care about gender, on the other hand, women can have babies, men can’t. Period. Which, by the way, is another thing we don’t have. So, no, we don’t know how women “feel”, but if you live with a woman, you can learn when she needs your help, a kindness, a cuddle, or chocolate. Pay attention.

Fourth: If you get a place together, it is hers. You can pretend if you want, but look around, if you are a guy, anything you chose before she moved in, is now in the garage. If you are lucky enough to be a parent, and you have girls, get as many bathrooms as you can fit in your house! Believe me, a bathroom for every girl is not a luxury, and it will make life easier for all. LOL

Fifth: People change. Men and women are people. Ergo; you will change, both of you. If you aren’t aware of the changes, and adapt, you will be caught off guard when the papers come. Change does not mean you have to leave your partner. It just means the core is the same, but the outside has been added too, remodeled , or removed. Change is uncomfortable, awkward, sometimes painful. The analogy I use is puberty. When boys and girls are ten years old, they are almost the same creature…then, bam! Hormones. Five years later, it is hard to believe those cute little ten years old kids, have become young ladies and young men. By age twenty five or so, it is over. We are done with the plumbing and physical changes, and have become “adults”.  That decade of change was a powerful one, shaping our:  wants, ideas, bodies, and minds- so even with the aching joints, the need for sleep, the awkward moments, the cracking voices,  the new onset of periods, and dating- no one wants to go back to their prepubescent body.  Remember that when one of you changes as an Adult, and thinks your relationship has to end.

Last point; most of us don’t know what it is like to be five years older than we are now, and a decade older than you are now is beyond imagination. Aging, is coming. Yep. Some things will fade, some things will fail, or not work as well, other things will become more important to you. One of those things, is people. When you get older, you will support younger people in their dreams, and it won’t matter if it is your niece trying for a Basketball Scholarship to Connecticut, or your nephew hoping to start an interior design business. You will find yourself wishing success for each of them. At the end of the day, if you worked at your marriage, a project that never ends, not one time in your married life, can you sit back and say: “It is done.” Nope. It takes your input, your trust your love, and saves it all in an emotional bank account, so when the bad crap happens, you can withdraw some affection, or kindness, or forgiveness, and stay together.  At the end of the day, when you close your door to the outside world, the two of you can laugh, smile, and be glad you are together. We are.

Some thoughts on aging, and how close it is to being a baby. Yep. Except instead of everything being new, it is old. LOL

My thoughts may be a little jumbled, as this blog is more about free association of some things I am trying to link in my mind. Age, and Birth. It seems to me, that prepping for Death, is much like being born, at least as far as some of the insights, and processes go. If you find this confusing, welcome to my world. LOL

Okay, when you are born, you have to find your limits, an what you are aware of , and what things, people, and words mean. Connections have to be made between what you want to do, and what you can do. Limits have to be explored, experienced, and accepted. When you are a baby, it can be simple things, like focusing your eyes, attention, or mind. When you are older, it can be simple things, too. Like: focusing your eyes, attention, or mind. LOL When you are a baby, you trust very few people, until you know them. When you are older, you trust very few people, because you know so many of them. When you are young and a baby, your world is new to you, and you can’t wait to explore, forcing your self to crawl, wiggle, and even walk, to get to things you want to see, or to play, or just to see if you can walk  to it! When you are older, you force yourself to get to things you want to see, to play, or just to see if you can still walk that far!

In both your baby years, and in your Golden Years, you don’t know your limits. In one case, you literally do not know. Babies have no idea how big, and overwhelming life, and living really is, which is why, I think, the systems come on line so slowly, and why the brain takes more than 20 years to get to a pretty functional place. We move , as babies, from just becoming aware of ourselves, then our surrounding, then our bodies, then the cultural and societal surrounding, then the ephemeral concepts, like love, forgiveness, hope, things that require some real thought beyond the mere physical; beauty, truth, honor, become as real as steel and stone. In our old age, something similar happens, we have to be old to strip away: ambition, validation, competition, material things, and the past. Like the first passages into adulthood, where we struggle to find out who we are, and our place in Society and Family, well, as older folks we struggle to find our place in Society, and Family without the twin pillars of status, and labels. When we are old, we are free, just as babies are, to create our own meaning of what is going on around us. We no longer like people because we are told too, or because of their position, or other people’s opinions. Just like babies, we don’t like, nor trust, certain people- period. Unlike babies, we can vocalize. Depending on the context or situation, we simply do not tolerate, or associate, with folks that we don’t want to be with. Including family, or “friends”.  We don’t have the time anymore, nor are we worried about what other people think. Babies cry when they are hungry, and keep it up until they are fed. Us older people become much like that, in certain situations. We ignore the societal rules, and focus on what we actually want and need. Invite one of us to a party we don’t want to go too, and guess what? We don’t show up. LOL No explanations necessary. No apologies either. We followed the rules for so long, that we are numb to them, or have outgrown the need to rubber stamp your needs. Yet, if you need someone to listen to you, without judging, without advice, well, us old people are just like babies, we won’t take our eyes off of you, and you have our full attention. Like a baby, when you take your troubles, woes, and concerns out the door, they go with you. We don’t let monkeys jump onto our back, we are supportive, not co dependent. We gave up manipulative guilt a long, long, time ago. We will support you, but we won’t fight your battles, or make them ours. Yes, you can be truly sorry for someones predicament without taking it on. It is one of the many gifts of old age. What gift is that? You ask.

It is the gift of being able to see that human problems are created by humans, and they can find solutions. When you are old, you recognize that your own actions put you where you are, and only you can learn and grow from them by facing them. Old people do not support Learned Helplessness. We will commiserate with you, extend empathy, in rare cases, even some physical means of support or safety, but we won’t fix your problems. They are yours. You got yourself into debt, you will get yourself out- or not. Just like babies, old people have figured out that you don’t always get what you want, when you need it. Many a diaper has dried before its time. LOL

 

I like this being old thing. I am finding out, just like a baby does, by trial and error, how much I can do in a given day. What amount of activity is right for me. I have even learned a few limits that I know I can’t exceed. The equivalent of having burned your fingers on a hot pot. When you are a baby , it is a big leap to move beyond the concept of heat, and something is hot, to having reinforced that intellectual idea of hot, with the physical act of being burnt. Once you get that first blister, YOU KNOW WHAT HOT MEANS. Well, old people know what Loss means, what Love means, what Forgiveness means, because those are not intellectual concepts to them, they have been burned by Love, by not Forgiving, by true Loss. Very few 20 year olds can imagine what it means to lose someone you have lived with and loved for thirty years or more. Loss when you are young, is a Mom or a Dad, or a friend in an accident. It is a bright, shiny, grief. There is no way to get a grip on it, it is unfair, and shall stay that way your whole life. Loss at the other end, well, it is a deep, brooding, grief, that takes some of the color out of your life. Unfortunately , by sixty, you have (usually) lost your parents, no matter how much you loved them, or enjoyed them as friends – My Mother was not only , well, my Mom, she was one of my best friends, and up until the very end, I enjoyed our lunches and dinners, and quiet chats. Death has become familiar to you. You are truly sad for another’s loss. Yet, you know your own mortality grows nearer.

This is another of the gifts of old age, because you know the “End is near,” and not just a cardboard sign in a cartoon; you appreciate the little things, just like a baby. You are happy to pee, or poop. Just because you can. LOL And like a baby, sometimes they come as a surprise to you. LOL Which after the embarrassment , makes you laugh or giggle. The little things like a smile, a hug, a cup of coffee with a friend, a morning looking out the window, holding hands across the table, watching squirrels play, seeing children playing , or holding a grand baby, watching your wife read, when she doesn’t know she is looking. Having a good nights sleep. The thrill of waking up. Yep, all of these things make you baby like, with an adult brain to process it all with. I am, a big baby. I am glad. I don’t cry to often, because just like a baby, I am more curious than anything. Isn’t that curious:

 

 

re: Oh dear, must I resort to “Shut up. Take my money , please, and I don’t need to know , no matter why you think I do.” TV and gossip bump up against me …again.

Okay, I am in the grocery store, and I guess it was my fault as much as anybody’s. I am standing in line, ready to check out, the lady in front of me holds up one of those “People/Celebrity/Gossip” type magazines. Some actress is going through her third, or fourth, divorce, and is pregnant, and has decided to have the baby “without him.”   She says something along the lines of what a trashy guy this ladies X is, and how he would be a horrible father, and she hoped he didn’t try and get visiting rights. I say: “Must be fun to work for those magazines and just make up lies about what was said, or done, in someone”s private life, as if you know what they were thinking, or doing, every minute of the day.”

She stares at me for a second, gives me an awkward smile, and turns back to the counter. There is a newspaper there, with a blaring headline about the horrible death of a small child , the same story that made me run from the gym the other day. So, the lady and the cashier have a chat over this guy, and the gory details. I get out of line. The cashier says: “Where are you going?” I said: “I forgot some things, happens when you are my age.” We both laugh. In my head I am thinking I just want to get away from the conversations, when the lady in front of me holds up the newspaper and says:  “I suppose you think this is all lies too?” With a very smug look on her face. I smile right back. “No, I think it is sick and disgusting.” I turn and leave the line, with about four other folks standing open mouthed as I walk past them, for – it turns out, they were all listening to the conversation about the baby , and wanted to add their own two cents worth.

I walk around the store for about five minutes, and come back to a different check out. I pay for my groceries, and walk outside. And there, is that lady again. This time talking to two other ladies, and as I walk by she says: “What have you got against me?”  “Nothing.”  “Well, I thought you were very rude in there.”  The other two ladies are looking at me like I am a bugger on someones face. “Sorry about that. I am not usually considered rude. In what way, was I rude?” “You didn’t fool me, you left that line on purpose. You don’t have a single other item in your bag, then you had when you were in line. ” She stares at me accusingly. You know, looking back, I should have just kept walking. LOL

I say: “Miss, I don’t like to read , or hear about people I don’t know, have never met, and aren’t in their lives. I especially don’t like hearing about babies being hurt, or killed, as casual conversation. I just became a Grandfather again a few days ago, and I share the joy of a newborn, not the fear, hate and suspicion that stories like you showed me,bring about.” She says, and I am quoting here:

“Don’t you want to know what’s is going on the world? Don’t you want to see this horrible man punished? Don’t you want justice?” Now the other two women are staring at me along with this lady. I said: “No. Look at you. You are very upset, angry, and mad at me, and you never met me. All I did was politely leave the line, before I said something rude. Talking about dying , or dead babies, to a new Grandfather? Before breakfast, and before the Grand baby is even a week old? Why, why would I want to hear any of that?”

With that, I bid them a good day, and walked off. In a giant stage whisper, I hear her say (as did anyone within fifty feet of us. LOL) : “Look at that, rude twice in one day.” I kept walking…I am a slow learner, but I do learn. Luckily , I also overheard a comment from one of the two ladies who were listening to us talk. That lady said, in an equally loud stage whisper: “Well, he does have a point. He just became a Grandpa. ” After that, I was to far away to hear anything. Why do folks feel that their gossip is my business, and I have to have an opinion on it? I have my own opinions, and most of them have little to do with that kind of crap. Wait, I guess calling that stuff crap, is an opinion. LOL I wonder why no one ever opens a conversation in a grocery store with: “Man, did you hear they may have found the particle that makes gravity?” Or, “Man, have you seen the latest deep space photographs?” Or, ” Dude, did you know they have found over a thousand other planets, that there are more than 400 solar systems besides ours? And counting!” Or, “Man, I was listening to this TEDTalk the other day, and the lady gave a talk about the brain that was so beautiful, I cried.” Or, ” Did you hear about that albino humpback whale? It has like thousands of followers on its FAcebook page.” Or, ” You know, I was thinking of taking the day off, grabbing the wife and kids, and just heading out to the beach to play.”

Nope. Never. On the other hand though, I know all about Zombies, Fifty Shades of Gray, and Game of Thrones, from standing in lines. LOL

Smiles, Kevin who seems to step in it, even by accident.

re: I went to Hell once, and here is the story. Vision? Dream? Still don’t know….

I went to hell. Dream? Vision? Whatever, it messed me up for a while…

When I was in my late twenties, I went to hell. I found out that the devil was actually trying to stop us from doing evil. It was the most beautiful place I ever saw, and all the Devil’s were incredibly beautiful, dressed in silver suits, and silver dresses, and they were all seven feet tall. The floor was made of squares of clear diamonds, and each contained a Universe. If you looked closely enough. As I entered the Lobby, Lucifer came over, and he was taller and prettier than anyone there. He was crying. He came over to me and said: “I am so sorry. I tried to stop you from your uncaring pride and vanity. But, all my efforts were fruitless. You are in Hell, and my punishment is I couldn’t stop you from coming here. ” I asked what my punishment was? He said: “You have to go to your door, and find your own personal hell waiting for you.” I looked over, and there were thousands of doors.I walked to mine, which had a dolphin shaped glass handle. I looked at it closely, and inside the handle were dolphins! Somehow full size and inside the handle that fit my hand. And THEY were crying too! The whole host of Hell stood behind me, and sang: “Go. Open the door. We are so sorry, we couldn’t help you. ” I opened the door, and there was my entire life. But not from my perspective. Oh sure, I knew every little memory, and deed, and stuff I had done, but, I didn’t see it from that perspective. I saw it as a ripple through everyone’s life who met me, or interacted with me in any way. This is very hard to describe, but here is an example: When I was eight, I went to Catholic School. It had marble shiny floors, and metal wall lockers. The Nuns were very strict, and if you didn’t get into your classroom by the third bell (one bell at five minutes, one bell at two minutes, and a third bell at zero minutes!) They closed the door on you. Then you had to go to the Principal’s Office- miss class , and explain to your parents how you got a tardy for that day. Back in 1959, this was a big deal for a kid. So, my best friend Roddy, and our friend, we shall call her Elizabeth-but everyone called her “libby” walked to school together every day. This day, we were running late, and came to the hallway on the second bell. We were running. I tripped, and my book bag (which is what we carried back in the day) spilled open, and my lunch bag, my pencil box, my notes, all flew out, and skidded down the polished marble hallway. Roddy and Libby immediately started gathering things from under lockers, and down the hall. Libby, stuffed my lunch back in the bag, and said: “Kevin, I have to go! I am in the farthest class room.” “We know Libby, run! Thanks for the help!” And she scampered off. Since the second bell had already rung, we knew Roddy and I might not make it. Roddy said: ” Libby is such a cool person.” ” I said: ” I know, that is why everyone loves her.” Well, in my dream/vision- I was inside the spirit of Libby when she overheard us. I could feel her heart soar, and a warm squiggly feeling, and a giant smile fill her mind. Then I said: “To bad she is fat.” Instantly, I felt her feelings change, as she felt small, and ugly, and fat. I could feel the hot tears that flowed. But, Hell didn’t stop there. For the rest of her life, that buried memory of my remark, and its effect on her teen years, how she put weight on after her babies, her constant battles with weight loss and self image, all because of that one callous off the cuff remark. She never even remembered me saying it. But, I saw the damage it did for her whole life. And that was Hell for me. I had many examples of which Libby was the mildest. I realized when I woke up, and my wife had to wake me up, because she said she was scared..she said I was sweating, and she could see my pulse pounding in my neck. My heartbeat was over 200, and when she woke me up, I couldn’t breathe, I was crying, and we had to change the sheets on the bed. I was so wired. I couldn’t even tell her what I dreamed/visioned until weeks later. In fact, just typing this, there are only about a dozen folks I ever told this experience to. I am not religious in anyway, I am not agnostic, or an atheist, or a believer – I simply don’t think about it much. I figure when we die, whatever is next we will know then, and nobody knows now, they just think they do…so, I ignore it. That is why it surprised me, and anyone who knows me, that I would go to Hell, and find out everything we have been taught about the Devil, and Hell, was wrong. That Hell, real Hell, is caused by us not caring about others. That everything we say, or do, leaves a ripple through mankind’s existence. For a few years, that dream/vision altered my life…I tried to make sure that every word I uttered to other folks, was kind, uplifting, and supportive, and the truth,as I knew it. Then it faded. I still try to be kind as a default setting, but I am to human to make it all the time. I think it was as powerful an experience as Susan’s, just different. I have never had one like it since. More than 30 years ago. I have been interested in the brain ever since.One childhood event, and this event, combined to be two things that fired my curiosity about how we think, or how we even know: “I am me.” I have never done drugs in my life, I have never tasted alcohol, I have never smoked cigarettes, or any other substance. As I used to tell my kids while they were growing up: “Daddy never drank, smoked , or did drugs, and still I messed my life up. You don’t need that stuff.” LOL But, you asked for an experience I couldn’t explain, and mostly still cannot. Maybe my brain just fired an imaginary story to get me to be kinder. Or maybe I had collected so much guilt and angst , because I do have tremendous empathy ( I still cry when Bambi’s Mom gets shot) that the best my conscious mind could do: is use the endorphins, to combine with the over active amygdala, and the creative power of my temporal lobe, to induce a dream/trance/visionary state- which put my reticular activating system on hyperdrive. Or then again, maybe I was dehydrated, exhausted, and had finished a reading of Dante’s Inferno, and my subconscious revolted against the hierarchy of the Church. Or, then again, maybe it was just a dream with random firings from associative cortexes – or, to quote Dicken’s “… a bit of undigested meat, or an under done potato!” Or maybe, like the theme of Groundhog Day, I was being taught that until I learned to love without conditions, and to love life as it is, I was doomed to Hell for my unloving comments! Smiles, Kevin

re: The circle of life comes in all sizes…and at all different times…there is no script.

Today, I was greeted with sad news, the passing of a young man with his future before him, and very little past behind him, he had enough of this life, and chose to leave it. Not an hour later, I got a knock on the door, my downstairs neighbor had her baby, a little boy; both Mom, and Baby (and Daddy) are fine. Exhausted, but fine. An hour later, my daughter calls and asks if Mommy can come help her with her daughter. My daughter is expecting her second baby any day now. So, life throws circle after circle at us. Death. Life. Birth. Old. Young. In between. All in a mornings time. As my one friend said in his grief written note: ” Life’s equation balances out, in the same note I have to tell you about death, I am also compelled to ask if your daughter has had her baby yet?”

That made me really stop and think what the Mystics, and Spiritual People, and even Physics says: “It is all the same. Just different angles, perspectives, and times, but :”Dust unto dust,” is little different from: “Matter and energy must always balance out.” So what is death in a world without beliefs? Simply the transforming of one state of being to another. What is death with a belief system based on some form of spiritual existence? Well, it is the transformation of one state into another. Words get in the way, but they all say the same thing- what is…is. You can convert energy into matter, or vice versa, but you can’t gain anything on either side, they have to balance out. So what is that life energy that makes one thing living, and another bereft of life? Some folks call it a soul.

Yet, most of us hold onto life, even when it is painful, when it hurts, when it sucks, and when we feel lost and alone. Why is that? Rational thought would say: “If your life sucks and is filled with pain, the reasonable thing would be to end it.” After all, we actually put people in jail for letting a pet suffer pain and indignity, we advise them to “end its suffering, put it down.” And we do. Out of love. Yet the People we love; by law, we can’t offer them the same release, instead we subject them to the very pain, suffering and indignity of dying without loved ones around that would put is in jail, if we did it to an animal. In one of the most egregious of “crimes”, the penalty for trying to commit suicide, is jail. Your life sucked, so if you live through trying to take it away, we will take it away. Oh, dear.

I like my life. I have been lucky in many ways, that the joy of just being here, the constant amazement that I : “Am Alive!” Seems to outweigh the things that have brought me pain, loss, and suffering. Most of our suffering comes from our state of mind. As old Mark Twain once said: ” I spent most of my life worrying about things that never happened.” Yep, could be’s, would be’s , should have been’s, and would have been’s, well those are the conversations most of us have in our minds all the time. Today, the circle of life made itself clear to me- life may not be a choice, the little one that came today, didn’t ask to be here, he wasn’t even consulted. Yet, he has life. When he took his first breath, a young man, college aged, with his adult life in front of him, made a choice. For reasons known only to him. Endings, and beginnings, with a whole lot of middle, came smashing up against my life this morning. It is a circle, and I know not when my loop will close. I like it like that. I couldn’t choose to end my life, but I could, and have chosen to live it as long as I have it.

Kevin