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FORMS OF BLISS

I once did time in a provincial reformatory for shooting a guy. It’s a bit of a long story but the gist of it was I was attacked from behind and beaten with nunchucks over a girl. Not any girl, she was runner-up Miss Nude Ottawa and a good friend of mine. I wasn’t even fucking her, then.

To shorten the story, the owner took a dislike to me sitting there with all the strippers at my table drinking and snorting lines with the girls. I ended up a little drunk with a high school buddy who happened to come in looking to see pussy. The owner  waited until the afternoon lull before picking a fight, then siccing the headwaiter on me from behind with nunchucks. I went down but not out and left.

I came back and shot one of them and tried to kill the other one. Fucker kept throwing beer cases at me and hiding behind people as I fired, until I had only one bullet left which I kept to cover my exit.

I got away but turned myself in a few days later once the cops had raided everyone I knew. I was holed up at a gal’s place who was not my girlfriend, being looked after. From there, I arranged arrest on my terms, after a hospital visit with my lawyer to sew up my head 48 hours after I was injured, something rarely done..

I got bail after a few days, thanks to my brothers and sisters stepping up to vouch for me. This despite my having not lived at home for several years. It was also the one time my folks were not in town I found out later. My eldest brother even pledged his motorcycle as surety for bail. I guess you could do that in those days. We used a lot of the “out of character” phrase, a mantra for some time afterwards.

At the preliminary, I was suddenly thrust into a waiting room at #1 Nicholas Avenue with all the people who were going to testify against me. So, I went downstairs with my gal to the coffee shop and bought about 30 coffees and sandwiches to serve my witnesses. While asking if they needed creamers or sugar, I had a chance to give them my side of the story, impressing upon them this was “out of character” and resulted from being attacked first.

Not only that, the guy who had hit me from behind and whom I’d shot, taking out his spleen and leaving a bullet lodged up against his spine, suggested we make a deal. He’d admit he hit me first if I’d testify for him later at a criminal compensation hearing. I agreed.

Whereas my lawyer had told me straight up I’d get at least five years, waving the book with the attempted murder statute under my nose, I ended up with a deuce less. That is two years less a day. Which means I was in a reformatory. No pen time this bit.

As I returned from court and was being re-booked into the county jail’s maximum wing on Innes Road, one of the guards was a little impatient with me as he demanded yet another search at the Max Rotunda. “Turn around, hands against the wall, spread’em,” he said gruffly. I noticed some broad looking at me and stared back her with contempt, thinking she probably liked to see me humiliated in this way.


photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia

Not an hour went by before I was called out of my cell to speak through the bars at the top of the range to this very lady. Apparently, she was our new classifications officer and wanted to hear my story. Prisons were being staffed by women suddenly in our rush to progress.

Of course, I told her it was all a mistake, that it was an overreaction on my part after being brutally beaten for no reason other than petty jealousy. I did my best to convince her it was “out of character” and told her about my jewelry and furniture businesses.

By the end of the week, I had buddies deliver letters attesting to my businesses and how I was needed outside to keep things afloat. I got out within ten days of being in. The guys on my range—many of whom I knew from the outside—couldn’t believe it. I left them the rest of the hash I’d smuggled in up my ass on the day I was sentenced.

That worked out well for a while. I was in a halfway house out on Riverside, with an apartment on Innes just a few miles down the river. Meanwhile, my buddies had rented a place further out the river for the summer. I bounced between the three places.

Peanut Haven out by Manotick it was called, and I rented half of one of the three cottages with my buddy Flo. Every morning at ten while at the halfway house, I’d dress in a suit and tie, grab my briefcase and go outside to meet my partner. He’d show up in our Cadillac dressed in jeans and a T-Shirt with bulging muscles. He looked like my body guard and we didn’t deny it. Then I’d either go deal dope one place or another, the time away barely causing a ripple in my schedule.

Sometimes, my partner had other shit to do so I’d drive the Caddy around and take care of business myself. It so happened I walked into a buddy’s place to collect some money one evening, just as he was being raided. I’d almost forgot about this until my high school reunion a few months back. Someone there reminded me they were there when it happened.

I knocked on the door and when it opened I saw he was being raided and ran. They caught me on the stairs and found my keys. They searched the block and tried the locks until they found the right one. My partner had left a few ounces of pot tucked into a construction boot in the trunk without me knowing. I was busted.

I remember the ride downtown in the wagon with the other guys. How I had to push my handcuffed arms from behind my back and under me, and how they had helped me get my legs through one at a time, so I was cuffed from in front instead of behind. I remember that.

I was returned to the county bucket and reclassified. I kept telling them it was all a mistake; the pot wasn’t mine and was left there by mistake. It was still, “out of character,” despite how it looked!  I even had someone else claim the pot as theirs. We took a shot at it. The guards started calling me “silk.” My poor classification officer gal listened patiently and told me she’d send me to the easiest place possible. I was shipped out to a minimum-security joint.

No sooner than I arrived at what we called Burritts Rapids, I immediately applied for a half-way house. I remember that interview with the warden. He called me a con-artist and reminded me of the silk nickname which had followed in my classification reports from Ottawa. He denied me outright and told me to do my time. I told him I was happy to re-apply again later.

I worked at it. The thing was, you could be denied and re-apply the next day. So that’s what I did. I was turned down over and over for transfer out to the city. And the food at the Rideau Correctional Facility, as it was known officially, was terrible. By far, the worst food I’ve eaten in prison and where I was introduced to hickory tasting coffee. Horrible, I found punishing.

So I aimed for and won a day-job working at a local developmental hospital in Smith Falls. They had those at the time, since closed. I’d be bused to the hospital every morning and spend the day there working as a pool porter. I’d get a voucher where I could eat cafeteria food which was ten times better tasting than joint food. I’d also get to wear my street clothes and talk to women, good smelling gals. I could also swim in the pool if I wanted, with women lifeguards who worked there, and were nice to me! It was a good go, as they say.

 

 

 

 

 

It was there I saw what they used to do with all the kids no one wanted. There were kids wards and adult wards, male and female. They even had a series of cottage style buildings where some of the more high-functioning kids could live. I never met anyone from those.  Blind, deaf, dumb kids were dumped here by families, encouraged by doctors.

Autistic headbangers occupied whole wards, banging their hockey helmeted heads on the floor all day. Many were in diapers, toddlers who screamed and self-harmed in their self-soothing attempts, but some were older. None of those kids swam that I remember. Or if they did, I was sent to fetch them strapped in a wheelchair and brought them down one at a time.

Several wards held schizophrenics, separated into male and female. Those places were nuts at times, depending on when the meds had been given out. The male wards were tough. I saw attendants dressed in while smacking people in desperation when they were attacked, or someone was stealing an ashtray or a smoke. It was an angry place when meds wore off.

Many Down Syndrome kids and adults lived there. Every developmental issue was represented at the Rideau Regional Centre. If you had never encountered anything like this in your life, the only thing I can reckon it to is the freak shows at the ex. In those days, families gave these kids up to the state, to be institutionalized. The place had to house a thousand, I bet.

Whole wards of alcohol damaged individuals, Korsakoff Syndrome and tardive dyskinesia had a place there. Wards with people in straight jackets for their own protection and the protection of the staff. The developmentally delayed child who lives becomes a developmentally delayed adult in a place like this. Without good stimulation in these warehouse-type institutions of old, it becomes a horror story, far beyond Steinbeck’s, “Of Mice and Men.”

Everyone smoked in the place, and during the day it had clouds of smoke in every hallway and in every dorm, cigarette butts everywhere on the floor. I remember a kid who had really bad brain damage from a car accident. He was one of my first pool-porter patients. Because of him, I learned to walk on the right side of my charges with my left hand on the back of their neck and my right hand folded across my mid-section and holding on to their right forearm. This way I could pivot them one way or another in a hurry.

Big and tall and you could tell, once good-looking, Stephen was pica. And he was addicted to any stimulant, not just tobacco. He once got away from me and ran into a ward and grabbed their instant coffee and started to scoop it into his mouth by the handfuls. The attendants freaked and physically intervened and taught me how to hold on to him.

He’d run through his weekly allotment of smokes in a day or two and nic-fit the rest of the week. He’d gesture to me, two fingers tapping his mouth slowly while saying in a deep and clearly brain-damaged way, “mokee? mokee?  moke?” with a twinkle in his eye. Sometimes I’d oblige him, and become his new best friend. He could answer questions about his accident, but it took a great deal of effort. I’d bust his balls about how all the girls must have liked him.

I’d be walking him down the hall to the pool and I’d sense him looking at me out of the corner of his eye, sizing me up, getting just slightly more anxious. First time it happened he broke free and dove upon a cigarette butt on the floor and gobbled it down before I could stop him. After that, I see him start to twitch a bit and look ahead and spot his target, taking precautions.

In one of the male adult wards lived Birdman. Staff would get him up in the morning and dressed. Soon he would strip naked and sit up on the window sill in a crouch for hours and hours. His whole body, from head to toe, would turn blue from the constricted blood vessels while his tongue would dart in and out like a lizard. His penis would hang down over the side as well,  a vestigial long dong of blue. He was mostly catatonic, staring off into space.

I happened to be there when a kid with cerebral palsy sued the government for the right to make his own decisions about where to live and how to spend his monthly stipend. I can’t remember his name (Mike?) but he won in Ontario court while we were all pulling for him.

He used a Bliss board, and I had several wonderful conversations with him in his wheelchair, a big board of symbols in front of him like a table, and him awkwardly but effectively using Blissymbolics to communicate. He had a goofy smile and an intelligence in eyes that twinkled easily. I gave him my best props and pep talks as he waited his own reclassification. He was an amazing guy, really inspiring.

Perhaps it was these kids and adults who first awakened in me a dormant caring I’d suppressed on the street for many years. They were doing time like I was, society’s refuse, shuffled aside and locked away. I was a prisoner and so were they. We were on the same side, with me at Rideau Correctional Centre, while they were at the Rideau Regional Centre.

In 2013, the Ontario liberals awarded survivors of the Rideau Centre 20.6 million. David McKillop, then 63, placed there when he was just four years old, was the representative plaintiff. “I got beaten up by staff, sexual assault, everything… You couldn’t do anything about it… You couldn’t say anything about it at that time” he told the CBC after the settlement. “I still dream about memories about it… We’re going to get help for that too.  I wanted to make sure the government paid for it, what they did to us.”

Bless your heart my man. Seeing what I saw late 1970s during the day when it was at its busiest, I can only imagine what it was like at night. It’s horrifying to think of now.

It was later while studying behavioural sciences in the late 1980s where I was exposed to the Cornwall project, an initiative to keep developmentally challenged kids with their families with the support of the community. I attended “People First” meetings and became friendly with some of these charming ambassadors living with their families of origin, or in small community-based housing. It was better than what I saw by far.

We’d learned by then the more stimulation challenged kids gets in the first few years, the better their chances later. It was also admitting the best place for a kid is usually at home. At the same time, it was forcing families to take greater responsibility for their offspring, despite the problems, but with support from the state. With that, the stigma of the retarded child began to disappear. I like to believe I witnessed that turning point when my little buddy and his bliss board won his court case.

As for me, I kept applying for release and getting shot down. Each week or two, I’d appear before the warden flanked by two guards and make my case. He’d say no, and compliment me on my improved story, with a smirk on his face. Off I’d go to my dorm.

Then a miracle happened: a prison strike. The Canadian Army were called in to man the security of the province’s prisons. And you guessed it: anyone with an application for early release or transfer to a halfway house in town was automatically approved.

I was out again. Fuck you warden.

A few years later, I encountered the guy I shot at a bar, Billy’s on Somerset where I’d taken my new gal for an afternoon beer. He was still dragging one foot as he walked and thanked me for not killing him. Turns out because he admitted he attacked me first from behind in the preliminary hearing transcripts, the criminal compensation board turned him down for any award. Tough break lad.

Besides the kid with the Bliss board, and Stephen the pica, what haunts me most from those times was pulling up every day at the Rideau Regional Centre in our prison bus and seeing a big black hearse at the back of the place. I don’t remember not seeing one there in the months I was privileged to work outside of prison among these brave souls.

Sometimes the worst places teach you the most. Without contrast, what would we know about bliss?

Stay powerful,

Christopher K Wallace
© 2018, all rights reserved.

www.advisortomen.com

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TO BE OR NOT TO BE

It’s About Words 

Gents, this is not a post about Shakespeare. Though reading the bard gives leaves me feeling a bit dizzy, searching for levels of meaning I missed, I still appreciate him and his talent.

What this post is about is the words we choose. It’s a post about one of the two superpowers of the Chain of Being. Focus and Language transcend the Chain, affecting both physiology and thinking. I want to talk about word choice.

My father was first a newspaper reporter in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He resisted going into advertising, something which would have been a natural fit for him considering it’s what his father and uncles did. Estranged from his dad for most of his life, he challenged himself elsewhere as a wordsmith.

Eventually, he wrote the style manual for the Canadian Armed Forces, and then chaired the group which developed the Public Service of Canada’s reference of the same name. Often, books would arrive at my home asking dad to review them for an author. In retirement, he served as editor and proofreader at a local outfit near his home, the Grunge Press.

Our family grew up surrounded by books. Indeed, I have many of my father’s old volumes, now added to my own collection. It’s interesting to see the differences in writing styles from his era and before, and now to today.

The Right Words

During my childhood, my father would ALWAYS correct me when I spoke, helping me to find the right word to express what it was I was trying to explain. It wasn’t enough for him to rely upon, “You get what I mean.” Nope. The old man insisted on the exact word to best describe your thoughts and to fit what was said.

To that end, most, if not all, of our conversations entailed corrections, rewordings, clarifications and more rewording. When I was young, this was annoying. Often the words he used I did not know, not very well anyway. But those small exactitudes helped me be more precise. The problem was this: his precision often had to do with how I somehow came up short on something.

But overtime, especially as I learned to read more complicated books in my teens, these subtle differences made for deeper understanding. And it helped me explain myself to others better. I’m sure it got me laid.

Language needs precision because of its ability to carry memory. As you know, the Chain of Being starts with Physiology, which creates an Emotional State, upon which the brain predictively derives Feelings based on past experiences and finally, Thoughts, best understood as bodily explanations. All of it is done surreptitiously, beneath awareness, with body, state and feelings lightning fast, thoughts coming up at the rear later, then measured up against reality.

Words with Extra Bullshit

Because of our various histories, words can become loaded, meaning they can carry more meaning than just their dictionary versions. Use a word too many times for the wrong purposes, or in an exaggerated way, and it quickly loses its power. Words like “awesome,” fantastic,” and many others no longer carry the same weight they once did. They become a cliché, part of cultural memes no longer tied to their original meaning. They lose power.

It’s hyperbole. Now there’s a word. I first encountered this one selling magazines door to door when I was sixteen. A customer refused my sales pitch and said, “I’m not taken-in by your hyperbole and my answer is no,” as he shut the door. I had no rebuttal for this one because I had no idea what he’d said. Later, my manager, a college grad, gave me a definition but I had to go look it up myself to get what kind of dismissal it really was.

“Awesome” and “fantabulous” are hyperbole. My customer could have just cut to the chase and used the word, “bullshit.” That one I understand.

Thinking or Feeling?

We also fool ourselves with language in every day speech. When we say, “I feel that…”, we are not telling someone what we feel at all. We are telling them what we think. Only, we are using the “feel” word to manipulate the listener, hopefully so will be more accepting what we say. After all, a feeling is personal, and each person’s feelings are their own. There’s no accounting for them, so hiding behind “I feel that…” is a great way to dishonestly deceive another. It’s loaded.

We are also hard on ourselves when we insist on using the sometimes self-flagellation words “should” or “must” but just as often these are used to demand something from others. “You should…” or “We all should…” have a place in life, especially in the context of suggesting an approach we favour, one that will result in a better world. But we must be careful about allowing should and must to tyrannize our souls with inadequacies, the kind amounting to “I’m not good enough.”

You’ve no doubt heard it said as “coulda, woulda, shoulda,” the triumvirate whips of coming up short. Be on guard for these insidious perversions of language. Know them for what they are, often petulant demands of ourselves and others.

“Have to” is another one. Nobody “has” to do anything. Make sure you are deciding you “have to” and not lamenting you “have to.” Big difference. One is agency and power, the other is self-pity and weakness. Know which is which. Better still, why not just make the commitment and say, “I will?”

Then, there’s “I can’t.” It’s another devious one. I can’t fly. This is partially true. I am certain if I jump off a tall building and start to flap my arms I’m going to hit hard far below. In this case, it’s a statement of fact. But I can certainly fly in an airplane along with another hundred or so passengers and come and visit you.

If I don’t like flying in airplanes, and refuse to do so, a more honest statement is “I won’t fly in a plane.” Now, it’s a decision. Can’t means won’t. It’s tricky, and it’s one of the ways a man allows bullshit to creep into his life.

To Be and E-Prime

What about “to be” verbs? These are a mess of trouble. The ones we need to discuss are as follows: Being, been, be, was, is, am and are. Problems arise when we use these because they describe things as fixed entities.

He was “being” a baby. You’ve “been” fooled. Don’t be mean. It “was” wrong. I “was” better..  He “is” wrong. I “am” OK. You “are” OK. These are all examples of pronouncements, fixed state qualitative judgments. What about “I am not good enough? Where’s the possibility of transformation in that?

Not great for communication, you and I both still use them. Only, now you’ll be aware of their extra power. They don’t easily permit change, or a fluid state of affairs which would allow dialogue and compromise. They suggest a fixed state of being not easily moved forward into something else, something more.

You could try the above these ways: He’s struggling to find his maturity. If you were fooled, what did you learn? Can you be nicer? It wasn’t the best response given circumstances. You excelled today. His answer might not produce the result he’s looking for. Today, I feel good. I think you look OK, are you? Now, you’re introducing the possibility of change, of levels of quality, of fluidity.

Based on E-prime language from a fella named Korzybski’s book from the 1930s, Science and Sanity (available online as a free PDF), Mel Schwartz gives a bunch of examples in his essay, Change a Word, Change a Life. Among the examples he uses are these:

It’s hot.
I don’t feel hot.
Now if I said, it’s not hot, I’m in for an argument. Instead, I’m just reporting from my personal perspective.

I am stupid.
Maybe I’m not so stupid… but have often felt this way. Why?
This opens possibilities.

I am nothing
I feel like nothing
Now, it’s just another feeling to deal with, to examine for origins and why it is being used predictively by the brain in certain situations. To create new feelings, create new experiences. Now, there’s possibilities.

You are so selfish.
You seem self-centered to me.
Why do you see me that way? Now discussion can happen.

I agree with Mel’s advice when it comes to broaching a subject we think might get pushback. We all know times like this. The tendency is to be ballsy and just step and take a swing. But saying, “You’re an idiot,” is unlikely to produce dialogue and compromise. On the contrary, it’s likely to make things worse.

May I, I think, I feel

Better to open with a qualifier, “Do you mind if I give you my two-cents,” can go along way to breaking down at least a bit of people’s natural barrier. Assuming you’ve been given permission (not that you need it but you’re being diplomatic—the art of letting someone else have your way), follow it up with either “I think” or “I feel|” as you give your impressions and how whatever it is impacts you emotionally.

Make sure you take the high road and don’t resort to the “I feel that…” mentioned earlier. If you say I feel, tell them an emotion. If you say I think, tell them your thinking. You don’t do anyone any favours by introducing deceit into discussion.

Try to keep Korzybski’s E-prime advice in mind. Use less “to be” verbs, and more “I think” and “I feel” instead. Catch yourself making pronouncements at your own and other people’s expense.

Watch carefully for the kinds of demand words making it into your speech. Should and Must are the big ones, with “Gotta” not for behind.  It’s one thing to influence, it’s another to close possibilities in communication.

You’ll find by the elimination of an untruth like “I feel that,” you take greater responsibility for your life and impact on others through your words.

Language is a special Chain of Being force affecting your belly and your mind.

Think for a moment about different words, and how they may have been used to hurt you, to punish, to harm or to cause you pain. Now, think of words which have been used to compliment, to boost you and to reward you over time. It’s easy to see there is both a physical effect to words, and a mental one too.

The Better Man is aware of the power in his words. My father may have known the power of his words but not in this way. What my dad lacked was how to discern how restrictive they can be. We didn’t know how words keep us stuck in a cycle of bullshit over time. In the ensuing decades and the advent of word psychology, we know better.

Not worth your time? Can’t be bothered?

That’s fine: just realize can’t means won’t.

Stay powerful,

cw

©ckwallace 2018 all rights reserved

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FEELINGS LIVE IN THE BODY

 

Notice there are videos showing up about feelings and the body lately on social media? I must have seen five or six in the past month alone. Let me tell you why I think it’s great.

I say it’s a good thing because finally people might at least start getting on to a whole host of physical issues which have at their crux the feelings they carry each day.

Feelings live in the body has been my assertion for 30 years. How do I know this? My back… and Fritz Perls.

Fritz Perls was this old bearded psychiatrist who with his wife Laura founded Gestalt Therapy back in the beginnings of the great psychological heyday, mid-last century to present.

Never mind the details of his approach, it was this one thing he mentioned which struck truth in me. It was the idea of carrying around a gunnysack of anger. How it would eventually bend you over with its weight.

No kidding Fritz, cause my freaking back was killing me at the time and I was often really pissed off!

That’s when I made the connection. Just as exhilaration is manifested physically with butterflies in the belly, a quickened heartbeat and breath, and a flushed face and wider eyes, so too does negative emotion have an effect in the body.

Only, it’s more than that. It’s not just the frowns and the downturned mouth and focused eyes. And that’s because of the second thing old Fritz taught me: unfinished business.

You know what unfinished business is like, it drives us nuts! You mean to get something done but there it lies halfway done and you have to leave it and hope you remember how to get back into focus when you finally have time.

Start to learn a new platform on your computer at some point. Be it Photoshop, WordPress, or this one: C-Panel.(*!%&!!). Go take on one of those as a complete rookie and then leave them alone for a time and go back. It’s a start over.

Do it halfway through a project that got put on the shelf and it’s likely the frustration factor goes up, WAY UP.

Hell, switch from a PC to a Mac. Don’t use it often and every new thing you try is a whole other learning curve. UGH!

OK, so we agree on unfinished business in general. And what about emotional unfinished business?

See, the problem with us humans is we need each other to get along. In fact, our need to belong drives most of our psychology. So, what happens when we interact, and those connections don’t happen to our liking?

Sometimes, let’s face it, we can come across as assholes. I’ll be the first to admit this. And sometimes other people are assholes. In my experience, they are the last to admit it. But that’s besides the point.

And that is where the gunnysack of anger and unfinished business meet: In the body.

It’s in the body because of the Chain of Being. Your existence is run on Physiology, Emotional States (comfort/discomfort, aroused/relaxed), Predictive Feelings (based on experiences) and Thinking.

The Vagus Nerve Complex connects the brain stem and the organs. Most of the neurons lining the gut and heart and elsewhere signal towards the brain, but some run the other way. When we have unfinished business, the body records it.

It does this protectively, and predictively. It wants to avoid future pain and so, beneath awareness, registers our pain and holds on to it for future reference.

There are two ways to intervene in the Chain of Being. One is through the body, the other is through thinking.

And you could say there is both a fast way and a slow way of impacting the body with feelings and emotional states.

Trauma is one way. When we experienced something significantly scary and are able to fully express our fear physically (crying, running away, being comforted by people) and resolve it with those around us, our sense of safety is restored to some kind of balance.

When we are prevented from doing this, when our natural defensive mechanisms are thwarted because of circumstance, we can become stuck in a defensive position indefinitely, depending on how far along we were in the vagus signaling.

And then, there is the insidious piling on way. That’s when we build up unfinished business over time to where it becomes as burdensome as trauma. It’s quantity over severity. And it can be just as devastating to physiology.

The brain ascertains what’s going on with the body, then predictively creates your emotional state using the databank of your previous emotional experiences before you are even aware. It all happens beneath awareness. Only afterwards is this measured up against social reality and made open to correction.

Carry around that gunnysack of anger and the Chain of Being is polluted with negativity. The body remains tense, emotional states remain aroused, feelings are neutral or negative. And thoughts, which Peter Levine in “In an Unspoken Voice” says are explanations from the body, are similarly influenced.

Now, you’ve got yourself a classic loop. A vicious cycle of negativity and eventually, the possibility of despair.

Hence, my bad back.

Medical science has known for a time some guys with two ruptured disks have pain and others with the exact same condition don’t experience the same level of discomfort, or any at all. How can this be? It’s either broken or it’s not, I thought.

Well, so much for the notion of a separate brain and body. Nope. One system.

Hopefully, you have an address, a place to put all your stuff and collect your mail, a place you call home on some street, in some town or county somewhere. No doubt, you have a number out front so people can find you.

Let me tell you something: the true universal address of your existence is in your body. That’s where you, (insert name here) really exist. It’s like the turtle who carries his home with him. You’re no different. That body of yours is your domain.

Four things main things I learned over the years to fix my back. Oh, there are plenty of subtleties I’ve picked up since then, but these were the broad strokes which saved me from being bent over like an old man every day in pain.

You can intervene on the Chain of Being at two places, physiologically or thinking. You attack it from the ends.

So, when I’m feeling tension build up, I do ten burpees. Nothing releases trauma from the body better than movement. And going at the body is fastest. Engaging the body causes a chain reaction all the way to thoughts at the other end. As my home, as the place where I live, I take care of it.

The second thing was a decision. I learned this under the influence of an old preacher who wrote a book called “The Power of Positive Thinking,” way back. it’d been out for a long time before I got around to it. I’d just left a psychology class in the mid-80s and was walking down the hallway when it hit me: “Happy is a Decision.” I’ve been telling myself this since.

Thirdly was something my psych prof taught me. Anita Roy was a Gestaltist herself and a real fire-cracker of a teacher. She embodied the Gestalt Prayer I’ll include with this essay.

She explained something which changed my life. It was that people always make the best decisions for themselves at the time, If they could have made a better one, they would have.
You can’t fairly apply hindsight to yourself or others, it’s a bullshit ploy. It’s a judgment not available in the moment.

And with that understanding, I learned how to let go. People bring their own histories, locked and loaded into their bodies and predictively being operated by feelings derived from old experiences, and are doing the best they can.

Sure, they come up short. And don’t we all?

It’s here where I was lucky, perhaps more than most. I’d lived such a faulted life to that point, how could I possible judge someone else’s? That’d make me even more full of shit than I already was while accusing someone else of being in the wrong.

No, couldn’t do that. That avenue was closed. Which left only one possibility. Forgiveness. Well, I can’t tell you how annoying it was to come to THAT conclusion. WTF!

You mean, I’d have to let it all go? Because my anger had driven me for many years. There were secondary gains to hanging on to my bullshit, to my complaints, to my judgments and excuses. I’d have to let them go too.

So, I did. I used these four strategies and let all of it the fuck go. Gone, out. Shot to the moon in a rocket. And my back got better. Not cured, but damn it, WAY BETTER!

Which by way, the moon helped too. I’d picture myself up there sitting near the “one filled with cheese” during my first meditative experiences, and picture my life far below, a metaphorical ant climbing around down there somewhere on planet earth with all the other humans as ants too.

Gave me perspective. Powerful perspective.

Take care of that body.

Stay powerful.

cw

https://www.facebook.com/groups/advisortomen/

CKWallace
©2018 all rights reserved

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THE CHAIN OF BEING

THE CHAIN OF BEING

Let me tell you how I best understand the fundamental links of being. These four variables together comprise something I call the being chain. It is these four factors which operate mostly unknown, influencing everything, especially how we think and interact with each other and the world.

Contrary to what most people believe, we exist emotionally and then use our brain (usually the left brain in right handed people) to rationalize things later. We tell ourselves a story of why.

Emotions occur faster than the brain can think for good reason: If a threat is present, we don’t have time to weigh the pros and cons of a situation. Instead, we’ll use our fight or flight system to prepare to either escape or resolve the danger immediately. OK, basic enough.

Out and about, we exist in a mild fight or flight state most of the time.

The human brain is a prediction machine. It uses the body’s needs, and prior emotional experience to make sense of the circumstances in the environment. Everything we do, our perceptions, our actions and our learning is based on making and updating expectations.

In fact, all our disappointments are driven by our expectations.

Even sight is based on predictions and expectations.

What you see comes in through the eye and hits the visual cortex at the back of the head. Most of the signaling goes from the eyes to the vision center there.

But, some neurons go the other way, coming and going from higher levels of the brain (the cerebral cortex) down to the visual cortex. These are thought to carry predictions. If you have seen it before, you are likely to see it again. If you can’t identify something, your brain will fill in the blank from memory until you see a more accurate picture. This is helpful remembering a route home, but also allows us to see imgaes in clouds on a summer’s day.

The brain uses interoception to gauge the body. That means it checks what’s going on with you physically through its special sensors. It does this primarily through the tenth cranial nerve, the vagus system, which is connected to the heart, gut and organs.  It uses something called proprioception to gauge where you are in a space, and exteroception, which gives you an awareness of your surroundings and stimuli derived from it like light and sound, etc. We focus mainly on interoception.

For example, 100,000 neurons line your gut, another 40,000 exist in the heart. More than 80% of vagus neurons are afferent, meaning they signal towards the brain. These give the brain a constant update of what is going on physiologically, in the body.

From this, you get two general emotional states: valence and arousal. Valence is simply comfortable or uncomfortable. Arousal is either on or off, alert and agitated or resting.

Feelings are predictive, not reactive. Long before we become aware of feelings we have, they have already taken hold of our body’s system. The brain is constantly trying to predict what will happen next to prepare you for circumstances.

You probably remember overreacting to something on incomplete information. We all do it. It’s a natural part of what it is to be human. It’s only as things unfold can we tell if our reaction was appropriate or not. We are constantly adjusting. The better we understand this, the easier it is.

Feelings are predictive responses to the body’s needs based on prior emotional experience, then tested against the social reality before you after the fact.

We learn emotions first as babies, and they become increasingly complex as we are exposed to new experiences. Contrary to the idea we all possess the same emotions, it is more that we experience many of the same things which produces a similar storehouse of emotional responses.

Every experience you have as a young child onward contributes to your bank of feeling states. These are called upon predictively (and mostly below the surface of awareness), allowing you to face whatever situation is in front of you.

It’s a best-guess system, corrected after the fact.

Even as you read these sentences, you are trying to predict where I’m going with this. In conversations with friends, you are doing the same; that is, trying to guess what they will say next. You’ve caught yourself finishing other people’s sentences more than once. Others have done the same with you.

Prediction is why when you first gaze upon a scene, you may see things you know from memory before seeing what is actually before you. That’s the brains prediction system at work!

In any given moment, your brain is using its vast storehouse of recalled emotional experience to determine the future—and the best emotional state in the moment to keep you safe. You are also using the same basic mechanism to predict and understand the people around you.

We sometimes jump to conclusions based on beneath the surface feelings about something. Other times, we under-react because our experience doesn’t signal the current situation as a threat or familiar.

No two people’s emotions are quite the same, simply because no two persons have lived in the same way. In the case of anxiety or anger, you may now understand how prediction is the real cause of our discontent and pain.

You can imagine all this brings great advantages. Recording old emotions in the body for future use is a handy evolutionary adaptation. Having feelings directly connected to your sympathetic system means fear can safeguard your life.

The sequence is this: Physiology (body) to emotional state (valence and arousal) leading to predictive feelings (based on old experience) and finally, thoughts. This is the chain of being.

Think of thoughts as an “explanation” for what’s going on with the body.

This is why we adjust after-the-fact. The body is way ahead of us, and thoughts come last in the chain of being. Where do we feel fear the most? In the body. Follow me so far?

By understanding feelings as imperfect guesses based on old experiences, we can take responsibility for them by countering their effects and letting them go.

What’s the best way to create new feelings? Create new experiences.

Doing new things gives you new feelings to store away for later. This is also how we break an old fear pattern by implementing new strategies.

Doing this gives you a deeper repertoire of scenes and emotional data points—which your brain will automatically employ and test against the ongoing reality before you. That’s also what maturity is about: Life gets better as we get better at life!

It’s worth repeating: all our disappointments are driven by expectations. Not only is this true, everything else about how your body and mind deals with the world is also driven by expectations. Changing expectations is going to the source of things.

To consciously change your state at any given moment, you can change what you think or change what you do.

DOING AND THINKING

The chain of being: Physiology, emotional state, predictive feelings, thoughts.

That’s your approach to life, factoring in your consciousness. Here’s something else: You can intervene at each end of this chain to tackle anything. You can change the body, thoughts, or both.

Focus and Language: two special forces bridging the chain of being

We simply cannot take in all the information around us and record it. Nor can we mentally attend to but a tiny fraction of the stimuli in our environment. The brain is amazing, but it has its limits.

Imagine looking around you with a large magnifier and only seeing through its lens. You would see some things straight ahead clearly up close, the rest of it at the sides would be blurry and faded. That’s what your brain’s ability to focus is like.

Focus is both mental and physical. You use your eyes to focus, and you turn your body towards what engages you in the environment. And, pictures from what you see engage your mind physically at the visual cortex. The rest of your senses operate on focus as well as you touch, smell, strain your ears to hear or taste something.

What you are telling yourself, your self-talk, your thoughts, are under your free-will ability to control by way of focus. So is your imagination.

It can also be either/or. You can stare at something new and for a moment, register no thoughts. In these instances, you can almost feel your brain trolling through its databanks trying to make sense of the scene. Other times you can stare into the distance and see nothing, while vividly day-dreaming about something unrelated.

Where you decide to focus works at both ends of the being chain. You can use focus to take control of fear by determining what your body will do and thereby, what thoughts come to mind.

Language: a bit of both worlds.

If you were born wild without language, it is thought that you would soon develop one to communicate with those around you. Like focus, language has both thinking and doing aspects to it. It straddles the divide between the two ends of the chain.

You speak a language, in which case it’s a physiological thing. Add to this you can whisper, and you can scream, you can also sing, and you can whistle. There’s a remote village in Italy where some of the old-timers whistle to each other to communicate. Whistling to them is a language on to itself.

You will often think in images, impressions, even feelings, and taken together, you often express these with the use of language in thought. “I told myself…,” we say to others as we explain ourselves. “What I was thinking was…,” is another. And all of our rationalizing, the story we tell ourselves after the fact to explain why we have acted, felt, or thought something, is expressed in language.

While what you do and what you think are the main doors to your chain of being, both focus and language play special roles.

Focus means you cannot remember much of your past. You can only recall a tiny part of your history depending on its significance and emotional intensity. What this tells us is to put full stock in a remembered past is a mistake, necessary, but rather weak grounds for making conclusions about the present.

That’s not to discount or dismiss the past entirely. After all, part of the richness of your life and most important lessons resulted from what you remember. It’s likely there was both pain and pleasure derived from your history, and these experiences added to the fullness of your existence.

But it’s important to realize the remembered past is a faulty record, and therefore accord it the skepticism it deserves. Studies show just talking about our past experiences changes what we remember in an exercise in reconsolidation. It’s said every time we revisit a memory, we put it away just slightly changed. We put a different spin on it as we reconcile the past through today’s eyes.

Again, it’s the power of focus, a great deal of which is not under conscious control as the chain of being rules.

A similar case can be made for language. When I was learning to write, my father used to tell me how important it was to get the wording just right. In fact, this is one of the best challenges of writing, or communication in general. Getting it right when we describe our situation or thoughts to others is far more effective when we find the exact words to express what we are trying to say.

And so, it goes with our thinking. If I tell myself I always get nervous meeting new people, chances are I always will. If I tell myself I can’t, what I am really saying is that I won’t. If I mention I am “outraged” when the word “concerned” would have done just as well, I pay for it physically in higher emotional arousal. Inflammatory words cascade through the chain of being and cost me, exaggerating their physiological effects in the end.

Talk angry and the body is angry too. Speak fearfully and the body cowers from life, afraid, protective, tentative, hesitant and weaker than needed.

The body is the universal address of your existence. Living in the present is the only way to live life effectively. The past is but a distant memory.

Sure, keep an eye on the future but spend most of your energy in the present—where the real action takes place. It’s all any of us can control anyway, right?

Similarly, you can tackle the chain of being at the thinking end to reframe things, thereby providing answers which create better feelings and a more relaxed emotional state.

Letting go of ill-will towards someone or something often results in a noticeable relaxation of the body’s musculature or internal process. It can stop our guts from flipping. It can make a headache go away.

I have two ruptured disks. I’m in pain every day. Yet, medicine knows of others who have two ruptured disks and have very little pain. The differences between the two might be found in my chain of being.

I know if I carry anger towards someone, my back will hurt more than usual. I had to learn this over the years. Now, I’m very careful to not carry ill-will or suffer the consequences. Part of my self-care is to not make things worse by triggering the chain of being with shitty thinking.

Another cool example of the chain if being is smiling. Even better, smile facing a mirror. The brain will sense your smile and release hormones to match the body’s condition. Suddenly, mood elevates. Every time you brush your teeth, smile at yourself in the mirror to finish, hijacking the chain of being in your favour.

I used to bridle my door to door reps’ mouths with a pen. Having a bad day? Sit in the truck with a pen across your mouth, forcing your face into a smile for 10—15 minutes. Sure enough, when I put them back out to work, they’d start selling again. I’ve done this successfully too many times to question its merits as an intervention.

Anyone in a full-blown panic attack can kill the pain of anxiety in ten minutes by going for a jog. There’s something about putting one foot in front of the other while staying upright at speed which negates the future-focused thinking characteristic of anxiety. Soon, the body takes control and releases the tensions held by thought.

I tell you all this because we often forget the body. Instead, because we tend to think in language, or in pictures and music, we focus only on our thoughts and convince ourselves this is where we should put the most stock.

But when you consider the chain of being, it’s plain to see the natural order of things starts at the body and ends with thoughts. When people experience trauma, there is a disconnect in the chain of being. Heart rate variability will lessen and tension may hold physically indefinitely. Unexpressed defensive postures usually employed at the time of trauma may instead by internalized in the body and cause problems later. This is why activities like yoga are so effective in this case, the breathing and body awareness allow for a reconnection of interoception pathways.

The chain of being is why I put the body first when I consider areas of my life. It’s body, spirit, people and work. It all begins with the body. Routine habits like good posture while sitting or walking, or activities like dancing, can elevate your emotional state and provide immediate benefits.

You may think you live at some street or avenue or town somewhere. While this is true as a place where you rest, put your stuff and get your mail, it doesn’t give the real picture about where you live.

The universal address of your existence is in your body.

Go rattle that chain…

Stay powerful.

Christopher K Wallace
Advisor to Men

https://www.facebook.com/groups/advisortomen/

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HASSAN’S FORTUNE

 

The old man sat down on a tiny stool he kept a bit back from the dry cleaner’s counter where he served his customers. He thought for a moment about how many years it had been since he hung up his sign, Quality Cleaners. That was back when the plaza was first built in tiny Manotick, Ontario, a satellite village just south of Ottawa on the banks of the Rideau River.

It had been a small community of horse lovers, and cattle and cash crop farmers, and even had an operating mill well into the 20th century. It was for these people, still now numbering only a few thousand, and a few others who didn’t mind the commute from the inner city for the chance to breathe fresh air in wide open spaces, that the village had survived.

However, in the last decade and a half, like many of the places around larger cities in North America, little Manotick had new subdivisions nipping at its periphery. It even had a gentrified core which made it look a little trendy.

This was good for dry cleaners, he thought. Maybe the extra volume of people will help offset the trend that saw less folks getting their clothing dry cleaned regularly. It had become expensive, no doubt. He liked to say he paid all his bills in dollars but only collected nickels and dimes in return.

At 73 years old, he remembered proudly he will have been married to the same women for 54 of those years on a Sunday soon. This brought a slight smile to his face as he remembered her, then and now. More than half a century and going, praise the heavens, he thought.

A customer pushed open the door. It was mid-afternoon on a weekday and so, he wasn’t very busy. In fact, he hadn’t had anyone in in over an hour. It wasn’t a regular, but he recognized the person as someone who had been there before.

Turns out the man lived a few miles east on acreage and couldn’t find a dry cleaner close enough to his house and so had come here. Happy to get his business, they struck up a conversation.

Soon, each reminisced about how long they’d been coming to Manotick. The man had grown up in the south end of Ottawa when the village was a forgotten outpost except to those who lived there. Comparing notes, each remarked how it had somehow survived and was now being developed.

“The new Vimy Memorial Bridge is a marvel,” said the man. “Yes, they finally got it built,” replied the shopkeeper. “I remember when we used to rent a property with 3 cottages on it just a few yards from where it crosses the river,” said the man, “boy oh boy, has this place changed. When I was a kid, there couldn’t have been but a few hundred souls out this way.”

Soon they were engrossed in comparing notes about what came first, which area developed best, and where it was headed.

He liked this stranger, but then again, he liked all his customers. It’s not just that he wanted them to spend money here, it was just part of his nature. After all, you can’t devote as many years as he had serving a community in dry cleaning, of all things, and not like what you’re doing.

He told the stranger about opening his tiny little shop, mentioning he’d come to Canada as a much younger man from Uganda. “Oh, Uganda, I get it!” said the man. “Idi Amin really left that place a mess.”

Agreeing with him, he counted how long since then. It had been 34 years of service to this small community, and his mind was immediately littered with events and faces as he felt all that time go by.

“I commend your commitment to your town,” said the man. “There is something about serving other people that gives a man’s life meaning,” he said.

“Yes!” said the shopkeeper, “that’s exactly how I feel about it.”

Soon they were exchanging testimony about helping their fellow man. Not at all in a way to stroke egos, no. More in a matter of fact way, as if they were reassuring each other this was how it’s done.

“I will tell you something,” said the shopkeeper after a while to his customer. “You know, last month, I went for a chest scan.”

“Oh really?” said the man, his voice concerned.

“Yes, they told me something was wrong, very wrong. It was a rare case and I was going to need experimental medications costing 25,000 dollars. Can you imagine? I’m not a rich man,” he said.

He remembered how devastating his wife of more than fifty years was at hearing the news. He remembered her face, her pain, her worry, and he winced at the memory.

“OHIP wouldn’t cover it. Too experimental, they said. So, I got on the phone with the pharmaceutical company. They agreed to provide the medications for free through a local pharmacy. Only, there’d be a $912 fee to dispense the medications here in Ottawa. We talked some more and soon, they agreed to waive this fee as well.  I felt very fortunate.”

“Wow, nice going,” said the customer, listening intently. “Let me get this straight: you not only got the pharmaceutical company to cover the cost of the experimental drugs, but you also got them to waive the local dispensing fee. Almost a grand?”

“Yes, that’s what happened,” said the old man. “And then, I got a referral to a top thoracic surgeon in Toronto that same morning. Only, I couldn’t get there with my health. There was a waiting list too. So, we did a teleconference at the medical centre by Billings Bridge. You know where that is?”

“Yes, I do exactly,” said the man, “I’ve had conferences with Toronto doctors myself from those same offices about my liver.”

“You know, then,” said the shopkeeper, “these doctors are busy.”

“Get this,” continued the shopkeeper, “I get on the video conference with the thoracic surgeon in Toronto and he says he knows me. “What do you mean?” I asked him. He says, “I remember having dinner at your home more than 30 years ago and afterwards, doing the dishes.””

Turns out when the shopkeeper was a much younger man, part of his service to his mosque was to mentor young people, especially new immigrants to Canada. He and his wife often hosted a dinner Saturdays at home and counselled arrivals about settling into their new country.

It was a way to help people transition, to provide a like-minded person of faith as a contact in the community, and to impart sound values to the newcomer. The surgeon, then a student, was one of them, and he remembered him well. The shopkeeper told the stranger about how his students at one point wanted to host a dinner for him in thanks and he refused the accolade on principle. He told them it was his natural duty to help them all, and they should focus on doing the same for others in the future.

“You can imagine my surprise,” said the shopkeeper. “I wasn’t sure what this meant but during the call, the doctor told me, “Either your heart is trying to divorce your lungs, or your lungs are trying to divorce your heart. You will need a transplant.”  He would put me on a list, he said.”

“The Toronto surgeon says the transplant will have to happen in Ottawa where it just so happens he has a friend at the Heart Institute, because my health is too frail and makes the trip too risky,” recounts the shopkeeper, “You can imagine how worried my wife was.”

“I can’t even grasp how difficult that must have been for her. How long have you been married?” asked the stranger.

“It will be 54 years next Sunday,” he replied.

“Bless you both my friend. So, what happened next?” enjoined the stranger.

“Right away,” he continued, “The Heart Institute here in Ottawa called me and said I had to be there in one hour to see the doctor. You know where that is?”

“No, but I can imagine we have good people here. I know the first Canadian heart transplant was done at the Civic. Is that where you went?”

“Yes, it’s right beside there now. It was another surprise,” he replied.

“How do you mean?” asked the stranger.

“So, I get to the Heart Institute,” he continued, “and I am by myself. There is a line-up to get into the parking, about six cars ahead of me and time is ticking by. A young guy comes to my window and asked for me by name.  He said the doctor sent him and he took my keys and told me he would take care of my car, and to go in immediately to see the doctor. He went off to park my car and off I went to see the doctor.”

“And so, you went in?” asked the stranger.

“I did go in, and he sees me. First thing he did was sent me off to get another scan in 30 minutes on an emergency basis. Then, he wants me to go home and prepare to be admitted any moment because they had a good candidate with viable lungs dying within the next 24 hours.”

“Wow, all this on the same damn day! It’s no wonder your heart didn’t give out!”

“I’m not finished,” the shopkeeper continued, “you won’t believe what happens next.”

“Uh-oh,” says the stranger.

“I get lost on my way to the MRI room. Can you believe it? I miss my test!” he exclaims.

“Oh no!” says the stranger.

“You know how big and confusing these hospitals are. I get there and I’m about 30 minutes late. The waiting room is full of people, some of them look sick, much sicker than I felt for sure. I went up to the lady at the desk and apologised for being late. Turns out she was a long-time customer of mine here at the dry cleaners. She tells me not to worry and puts me to the head of the line and I get my MRI!”

“Wow again!” remarks the stranger. “I hesitate to call this luck in the circumstances, but so far so good!”

“Yes, I was overwhelmed but I did notice it. You know, I thought this is how one should die. Like going away in a parade, everyone waving at you, but knowing they are being nice because you may be leaving,” he says solemnly.

“But, …,” replied the stranger, lost for words.

The shopkeeper continued, “Off I go home to pack a few things and explain all this to my wife. She is very worried. We’ve faced many challenges together, but this is the biggest.  The mood at home is very sombre, very sad. A little while later, I get a phone call. It’s the first doctor, the one who made the original diagnosis, requiring me to be at his office first thing the next morning at 8:30 am.”

The shopkeeper explains how he spent the night in prayer, reassuring his wife, consoling her fears, and trying to get some rest but knowing at this point, it was out of his hands. Fed up, he determines to leave it up to greater powers than he. God-willing he would be alive the next day. He decides this is a test of his life-long faith… and he must not waiver.

But in his darkness he dared to have a secret wish: it was to make it to a few Sundays from then to celebrate his wedding anniversary with his bride one last time.  He thinks to himself: we should be grateful for our 54 years together, whatever happens tomorrow. He pictures her face in his mind’s eye.

With that, he drifts off to a restless sleep, the anxieties of the day leaving him sapped of physical strength while his mind wished to remain awake and alert.

The next morning, he is at his doctor’s office on time. “You know what happened?” the good doctor asks, “you’re not going to believe me when I tell you.”

“I have no idea,” replied the shopkeeper as his mind raced with possibilities, none of them good.

“The doctor says, “I am very sorry, but I have made a mistake. You were misdiagnosed. I read someone else’s chart who was terminal and thought it was yours. It’s our fault. We have made a grave error, I hope you can forgive me,” his face filled with remorse.

“I was frozen in place, not believing my ears,” says the shopkeeper to the stranger.

“Oh my God,” says the stranger, “a mistake? That’s outrageous! The news alone could have killed you. He’s lucky he didn’t cause you to go into cardiac arrest from fright.”

“You know what I told him?” said the shopkeeper in a sly kind of voice.

“This I got to hear,” said the stranger.

“I said simply, “I forgive you, and thank you.””

“Wow, thank you? really?” replied the stranger, “Now I’m inspired. How did you come to that?”

The shopkeeper went on to say, “The doctor looked at me puzzled, mumbling something about how this was an unforgiveable error on his part and that he was ashamed of his office. He wouldn’t be surprised if I were angry and complained. Again, he said he was sorry.”

“I just smiled and repeated to him the same thing: “I forgive you… and thank you,”” said the shopkeeper, his voice now confident and relaxed, his eyes a little brighter, a beatific smile on his face.

Then, he told the doctor of his journey. “Did you know I was able to suggest the pharmaceutical company waive costs for their experimental medicine for humanitarian reasons and they did? That is an unusual arrangement, you’ll have to agree.”  And the doctor agreed it was unusual. “And then they waved the local dispensing fee of almost one thousand dollars on top of it,” even more unlikely.” The doctor sat still.

“If it were not for you,” I told him, “I probably would never have been thanked for giving those Saturday suppers all those years, and to know one of my students was a top surgeon in Toronto,” explaining now how he knew his surgeon.  “Wasn’t I glad I’d refused any accolades for doing this and thereby set an example to my charges? Look how this returned to me in my time of need,” he continued.

The doctor was fascinated by his good fortune, nodded and stared at him blankly.

“And doctor, how lucky was it that the surgeon in Toronto had a friend in Ottawa?” and, “did you know the Ottawa surgeon sent a parking attendant to park my car and usher me into his offices?”

“Yes, he’s a very well-known doctor, one of the best in the world,” answered the physician.

“And something else doctor, what are the chances, of all the people who work in a hospital imaging lab, one of them would turn out to be a long-time customer of mine. When I got lost and missed my appointment, with a double lung transplant operation a few hours away, it was she who made sure I got in despite others still waiting? Can we still call this luck?”

The stranger could only imagine what must have been a dumbfounded look on the doctor’s face.

“It was because of that appointment we are sitting here this morning, instead of at the hospital preparing for surgery,” the shopkeeper said matter-of-factly to his doctor.

The doctor agreed, adding the donor candidate will die that morning and his lungs will go to someone else who is already waiting for them in that very moment.

“Doctor let me again say, if were not for you, if it were not for your misdiagnosis, I would not have found out about all the wonderful people around me. What is the price of such a thing? Can you tell me? All these various people from different areas came together somehow to show me kindness and respect, and I owe all of this to you.  It is me who needs to thank you now.”

The doctor, tears in his eyes, blinked at the remarkable man before him and thanked him.

“And that was it,” said the shopkeeper.

“That’s quite a story my good man, mind if I write this one up?” asked the stranger.

To which the shopkeeper replied, “Oh sure, please do. Just remember we are all brothers and sisters.”

“You bet, I will never forget today. Do you have any more advice for me?” asked the stranger.

“Yes, I do,” replied the shopkeeper. “I will tell you this: Even the homeless on the street, don’t pass them by. You don’t have to give them money if you don’t want to but you should always look them in the eye and say hello at least.”

And the stranger was not at all surprised by this last bit of wisdom.

“Do you need these shirts by Friday or can you wait until Tuesday?” asked the shopkeeper.

“Tuesday is fine,”replied the stranger.

Christopher K Wallace
Advisor to Men

©2018, all rights reserved.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/advisortomen/

Hassan Ismail, shopkeeper

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Vote Trump: many people will die

handy model

 

First off, blame the bankers. Several hundred years ago one European kingdom went to the banking system to fund a war against a neighbour. Soon, all Europe did the same. It wasn’t long before realms began to accept banker’s paper money as payment for taxes. That changed everything.

Since then, banks have used interest to create scarcity and competition.

It no longer is about growing up amongst your people, living in large and small ways, affecting your culture with whatever legacy your talents allow, knowing your brethren exist in you during your time here just as you existed in them, and that it will always be so down through the ages. No. Now, you are forgotten, lost like a molecule of protein powder blended into a morning smoothie.

What about Hirsi Ali memorizing 900 years of her Somali ancestors? Meaningless: all gone.

What about the idea which brought comfort to our forefathers of a life in the hereafter? It has been obscured by science and the incremental demands imposed by a system hell-bent on using every possible resource to live today in service, or worship, of money.

We don’t pray anymore; instead, we use Emotional Freedom Techniques and… tap.

Will we get ours? Our share? It is THE question, with a person’s success or failure judged by whether they have met some measure of this in a system, coincidentally, gamed to accrue benefit to the top 20%: the elites. It’s rigged you see. Rigged. What, they’ll say, you weren’t an elite? And why not???

Our tribes are lost and scattered. Economies demand a growth rate of two percent per year at a minimum. Each time you make interest money someone else loses the same amount. It’s zero sum, that advantage is borne on the backs of our brothers and sisters… somewhere. Fewer corporations own larger and larger slices of the economy as they gobble up rivals. Barriers to trade are smashed down behind closed doors at the behest of the controlling oligarchs.

And you and I become mere… externalities.

Princeton’s Gilens and Page showed more than a decade ago the average American vote is meaningless unless it happens to coincide with elite desires (read corporations). Imagine that? Get this straight: The only time your vote counts is if it’s coincidental to what the corporations want. Straight up.

Then, Safa Motesharrei’ s HANDY model showed we are doomed in the next few hundred years (estimated at 300-400 years). That’s his graphic up top. There are always those who will take a piece like that and call it faulty science. Of course, the elites pay them. Look around for yourself: Just how IS Mother Earth doing?

Go back to your city of origin after living away for 30 years (as I recently did) and tell me what the trend is; tell me what it looks like now compared to before. I bet it’s growth at all costs: Quaint pastural scenes at the outskirts now filled with urban sprawl.

Scientism is a form of magical thinking. It’s the, “we’ll think of something, science will save us” mentality. Not likely: too many people, not enough resources to sustain growth, too wide a gap between rich and poor, and less power in the ordinary citizen’s hands.

And antipathy: No motivation, not enough pain.

Moving to the stars is not possible. It’s just too great a feat and there are no candidates within fathomable distance. None within range with even 300 years in which to make headway on space travel and all the rest this entails. That’s how far away the rest of the universe is.

Disposable earth? Nope. Not an option.

And the elites, those top 20% will never permit change because that would mean giving up their advantageous positions. Don’t be fooled by Bill Gates donating his fortune one day, or enlisting Buffet to follow suit. Noble gestures to be sure, but no cure for our ailments (no pun intended given the Gates Foundation’s work on diseases across the world).

The real controllers of the world economy will never agree to a redistribution of wealth, a slowing of growth, or the decisions necessary to preserve our environment. It won’t happen.

The way I see it, despite the economists’ fancy calculations and the books in my library about world money and affairs-—replete with lovely glossaries so the jargon is crystal clear—the math they turn away from, in what I can only call hubris…is the simplest addition.

Even 2% per year adds up to a lot of growth over enough time. Say… 350 years.

We’re in a bind. So if I was you, and I sought to be free and happy, I say just make a decision.

Decide to be happy in every moment and fulfilled or unfulfilled in each day. Because all you have is that: dominion over your thinking, feelings and behaviour. It’s all any of us control—and only in part as it is a given that we feel first, and then rationalize. Embrace Nietzsche’s Amor Fati like there is no tomorrow, because there may not be one.

Note: if you’re a determinist, even that modicum of control is illusory.

Then get back on your economic treadmill and start running like a good little hamster. Like a caged hamster, you’ll look like you’re having fun. You’ve seen those right? Happy little suckers aren’t they?

One more thing, a very remote one but a possibility:

Given the current US campaign idiocy, there’s a real chance that Trump is good pals with Bill and Hillary and promised them the presidency at that wedding they all attended a while back. “If I run, you’ll win, I promise you,” is the kind of sinister possibility we’ve unfortunately become inured to in this era. Too crazy to consider? OK, then how about this:

There’s hope in this morass: Help get Trump elected.

He’ll screw things up so badly that surely it will be a CATASTROPHE. Many may die, there’s no two ways about it. They’d be future heroes from where I sit. But it has to happen.

It could just be the catalyst needed to get the kind of numbers of people involved in overthrowing the system. If we hurt bad enough I could see taking this monster we call capitalism and scaling it back, with all its consumerism and deceit to boot. You’ve heard the wisdom: sometimes things need to get worse before they get better. In this case, much worse.

He could be our only hope. Trump could be this generation’s dictator… or something.  We’ve come that far. Unwittingly, he could fall right into Chris Hedges’ hands and deliver a full Wages of Rebellion which might soon spread around the world.

So now that I’ve cheered you up. Carry on.

Make America Great Again…

©ckwallace, 2016 all rights reserved.

Contact me here:https://ckwallace.wufoo.com/forms/zwjcdyn11scnz4/
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  • The HANDY model grapic up top is from: Methodological and Ideological Options Human and nature dynamics (HANDY): Modeling inequality and use of resources in the collapse or sustainability of societies Safa Motesharrei a, ⁎, Jorge Rivas b , Eugenia Kalnay
  •  Oligarchy conclusions are from: Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens
    Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page
  • INFIDEL, by Hirsi Ali, Free Press, 2007
  • Banking system comments are based on wide readings but one you’ll be interested in is: Rethinking Money: New currencies turn scarcity into prosperity, by Bernard Lietaer and Jacqui Damme, Kindle version
  • Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer prize winning author and reporter who writes for Truthdig. He calls for an overhaul of the system and goes into great depth in his book, Wages of Rebellion, of how the corporate state is running things to the detriment of mankind.
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