Monday, September 28, 2015

Featuring the depths of the rainforest: Going Midworld by Alan Dean Foster

In the rainforest there are many layers of life, and levels of existence.  The top of world is called the canopy, and it is visible from the air.  You cannot see the floor from there.  Birds and bats and other avian creatures live there.  And from there down to the floor of the green rich forest there are levels of existence.  Each level is dominated by various life forms adapted to their environment.

The amount of life is immense because nature allows for changes and specializations of species in such a rich environment.  The humans who live in such a place are specialized too, using ancient methods of hunting and survival that have kept their existence small, but sustainable for millennia. 

This planet earth has seen arguments over the destruction of rainforests, over the reduction of areas that used to be wild.  We have untold dangers of losing wild habitats that will deeply affect the future of our planet's health.  Untold DNA and plantlife that has been undiscovered might be lost with the death of such areas, along with the enormous amount of clean oxygen the trees and regions produce.

Alan Dean Foster's mind created a planet where the planet itself and life forms are all literally connected.

"Born was a child of the rain forest that covered Midworld, part of the primitive society that the peaceful jungle planet had sustained for hundreds of years. He was wise in the ways of his world, and he knew well the precarious natural balance that governed all things.

Then one day the aliens came. Giants.  They knew nothing of the Upper or Lower Hell -- and they cared less. Born had risked his life to save them, to guide them through the myriad tangled boughs, past unseen, unsuspected dangers lurking in the underbrush. But worse than their ignorance of how to survive, the aliens had plans for Midworld, plans that could utterly destroy the globe-spanning forest that his people called home.

As the days passed, Born realized his mistake. And as he had once hunted only to live, he knew now that he would be forced to live only to kill..."

Here are the various covers across the years of the book Midworld that is creation of Alan Dean Foster, and by a number of great cover artists.  The German translation is literally "The Thinking Trees"

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Having Dreams is Dangerous

“A poet should leave traces of his passage, not proofs. Traces alone engender dreams.”  René Char

In the aftermath of cancer, a memory robbing brain disorder, and two other issues that might kill me, even soon, I began to and still sleep more every night than I had each night in the previous 12 years.  The reason for that was likely because I had written and used the internet for 80 hours a week, and going without sleep had left me exhausted.  Being without sleep left me vulnerable to many different attacks, issues, and health problems.  Being without sleep also left me without dreams.  

I missed having dreams.  I missed them for the chance to relax, to recuperate from life's pain, and to turn my days from insanity to sanity again.  I have enough meds to deal with the issues that my mind faces, but, there are natural issues that only sleep could settle.  Since entering into a period of time of writing, but without forcing myself to over work, I've slept, I've dreamed, and now, I've begun sleeping in enough hours to dream enough to recover.  

I do have migraines and health issues that have interrupted my ability to sleep due to pain.  This is not the same as issues falling asleep.  When out of pain I have no problem.  Being out of pain, of course, is an entirely different thing.  But that isn't the point I am making.  A number of people in my life were unfortunate to treat me poorly at this time in my life.  When they had made a comment, I likely blocked them, deleted them, or in person chose to not be their friend or acquaintance any longer.  I didn't have the mental resources to deal with them, and being patient was a virtue I no longer possessed.  

However, I am now charging batteries, sleeping more, and entering, at last, the realm of sleep.  Dream is a lot like the realm of hope, because when you dream, you can escape and return.  And that is a good thing. 

“Some of my youthful readers are developing wonderful imaginations. This pleases me. Imagination has brought mankind through the Dark Ages to its present state of civilization. Imagination led Columbus to discover America. Imagination led Franklin to discover electricity. Imagination has given us the steam engine, the telephone, the talking-machine, and the automobile, for these things had to be dreamed of before they became realities. So I believe that dreams — day dreams, you know, with your eyes wide open and your brain machinery whizzing — are likely to lead to the betterment of the world. The imaginative child will become the imaginative man or woman most apt to create, to invent, and therefore to foster civilization. A prominent educator tells me that fairy tales are of untold value in developing imagination in the young. I believe it. “ 

L. Frank Baum

“The pain was maddening. You should pray to God when you're dying, if you can pray when you're in agony. In my dream I didn't pray to God, I thought of Roger and how dearly I loved him. The pain of those wicked flames was not half so bad as the pain I felt when I knew he was dead. I felt suddenly glad to be dying. I didn't know when you were burnt to death you'd bleed. I thought the blood would all dry up in the terrible heat. But I was bleeding heavily. The blood was dripping and hissing in the flames. I wished I had enough blood to put the flames out. The worst part was my eyes. I hate the thought of gong blind. It's bad enough when I'm awake but in dreams you can't shake the thoughts away. They remain. In this dream I was going blind. I tried to close my eyelids but I couldn't. They must have been burnt off, and now those flames were going to pluck my eyes out with their evil fingers, I didn't want to go blind. The flames weren't so cruel after all. They began to feel cold. Icy cold. It occurred to me that I wasn't burning to death but freezing to death.”  

Arthur Guirdham

Friday, September 25, 2015


I eat too much food.  And I am fat.  I eat too many calories.  Despite having lost weight and taken up a more healthy diet, I remain fat and I remain a meat eater.  I am, however, growing unconvinced that what I do is moral. Eating more than my share, is not evil, more careless, but eating meat is a subject I am preparing to deal with.

I believe that at one time we were meant to eat meat, and that as we were growing more intelligent we were allowed to eat meat, but now, when we can feed more people with the grain used than it takes to feed the meat to feed people, there is a moral paradigm that is changing.  Meat has become a math problem that doesn't work any longer.

I know people will argue that humans were given stewardship over the earth, and by that animals are lower upon the list than humans in God's eyes, but I might argue that it is only in degree that we are brighter, and only by degree that we should consider ourselves intelligent.  I do not believe that the reign of humanity over the earth is one that would be blessed by God, nor is it one that can last long in its present state.  We are on a path to oblivion, planetary oblivion.

After all, if you remove consideration for the soul, every animal, every being including humans is made of meat.  Nothing else.  It is only by the intellect we've built by saving our accomplishments and building upon them, and by our self awareness and language that we are higher in form than other beings of meat.  And when you look upon our record of kindness, of humane treatment of our own kind, we do not even look good in comparison to many of the creatures we consider ourselves to be superior.   Meat is meat, human or otherwise, and how we treat other humans, and animals, displays how evolved and how morally developed we are in our spiritual and moral development.  I see precious little.

First they inspect the corpses, and upon the approval, that the body was good for consumption, they flense the corpse, and toss out the left over remains. The process is too bloody for some to watch, but is done behind walls to hide the process from eyes that might be offended.

We string up the animals and hang them upon hooks, for the flesh to drain of blood, and for ease of the preparing the corpse.  Meat hooks make it all work so easy.

I wonder if we are marching the companions we share the world with, off the death camps.  If you accept that we are in authority over their care, I have to say, yes.  And it reminds me of a very deep sorrow humans committed upon other humans, as if we are all meat.

I am not of a mind that other people should take up my cause, and change.  This is my personal conviction, where it begins, and why I am.  When I can I don't eat meat.  When I have to, I reduce my intake.  People all have their own reasons, and I am not here to debate the issue.  As always, my views are simply speaking out loud explaining who I am, and how I came to be here.  I worry that the issues of the day are often inflated with ego and meaningless sacrifice, but I believe the issue here is real.  Our choices of how to treat each other have to play from beginning to end, when nobody is looking and into public view, and as someone who is trying to be moral, I have to walk that path, even if I like to eat the thing that I should not.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Favorite book and lovely covers

The book Cachalot by Alan Dean Foster is one of my favorites.  Mostly because it begins with a world where whales have been given a planet of their own, to live upon and control, as a means to apologize by humans for the destruction we've caused.   I love whales, maritime mammals emotionally move me, and the plight of the whale and the story of conservation is very moving to me.  At one time I thought I'd become a person who would fight for the ocean mammals through art, but I am not that talented.  Mr. Foster is though.  And I loved the book. 

These are all pics from public domain, particularly a US government website.  I was going to use them as facebook cover pics, and then thought, why not use them along with the covers of CACHALOT found below to show the awesome.


I've been a fan and reader of Alan Dean Foster since I began reading science fiction or fantasy.  So it is not a surprise for me that he has books in my all time favorite list.  His work belongs there.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

First breath to the last

Who do I need the approval of?  Is there anyone?  If there is no one, why should I feel so judged by society, and I do.  Am I flawed so greatly that my being should cause the society to be embarrassed? Or that I should be to be as part of the whole?  Am I so fatally mistaken about my worth that I think I should be welcome in society?

I have heard people say I never asked to be born.  But I think they don't realize how ironic that plays in the days of modernity.  We are less than what we should be, because we've told society that we should be treated as individuals with rights and choices.

I hear ticks of the clock as seconds pass, and time will harvest me some day, it is not a mystery.  Everyone dies.  And this temporal passage between first breath and last is not something that has to be difficult, unless we want to make it more than it is.  And there is the problem.  We can do nothing, and get through, relatively easily, perhaps do nothing, but get through to the end.  But, I want more.  And to have more, you have to do more.  And to do more, you have to expose yourself to threats and danger.

And why should we?  Unless there is something worth it in the end.  And who decides it was worth it in the end?  You'll be dead. Who wants to be dead?  Well, I don't exactly want to be dead, but there are a buttload of times I'd prefer to not be here in this world at this time...  But that will pass.  I have stuff to do.

If this sounds hopeful, it sort of is.  I was told to expect a certain result after a certain blood test returned with a result that seemed to indicate a positive result.  However, it was considered a-typical and needing a retest.  It resulted in a negative result.  I found out I had a number of other equally bad things to worry over, but, I can more easily deal with them.  I feel as if I had a reprieve.  So, I have stuff to do, and I have hope.  Have hope.  Always have hope.

Bhagavad Gita

Chapter 2, verse 20

"na jayate mriyate va kadacin nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah
ajo nityah sasvato yam purano na hanyate hanyamane"


"The soul never takes birth and never dies at any time nor does it come into being again when the body is created. The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless and is never terminated when the body is terminated."

Friday, September 11, 2015

Falling, But Maybe it is Worth it.

“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage."   Seneca

I am alive, and I wish to fly.  You might think that the Ness guy is going off on another bender, or is again proving he is insane.  But no, that isn't the case.  I am simply saying that life without risk is not life, and that while I've failed many times, I am not going to stop, and I am going to go forward again.  Life is a choice, I wish to fly.  I say this because I truly intend to make the next decade worth having survived those things that sorrowed my life.  I choose therefore to not only endure and survive, but to take these things and use them to help me thrive.

I have not the money to buy my success.  I have not the fame to arrange for my success by means of popular support.  But, I do have a talent, it is called perseverance.  I write 60-80 hours a week.  I've done this regardless of my health.  When I had cancer I still did this.  It is part of my world to write.   It is my calling, however flawed.

Without a cause rebellion is worthless, but with a cause, a person can endure anything.  Icarus was meant for greater things than simply flying away from incarceration.  He was given wings and his father gave him instructions, but once free, he felt alive for the first time, and nearly reached the sun.  To be alive and so free, dying was a small consequence. I point this out because there are points upon a timeline, or life map where if you had simply been given wings you'd have taken them and flown from your station.

I am alive.  I am not insane.  I wish to fly, whatever the consequences.

"How much do you know?" she said. "Do you know that dreams are illusion?"
"Of course I do," I said. "Every one knows that."
"Oh no they don't," she said, "the mad don't know it."
"That is true," I said.
"And do you know," she said, "that Life is illusion?" 

Lord Dunsany

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Crimes of the mind, but not of the heart

“Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet's eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.” 


Sometimes in life events crush you.  Other times, your lack of self esteem does that job.  But I am a person who tries to be utterly honest with myself.  And so, I recognize that I've not made an enormous amount of friends in life, and that most people do not think of me in a personal, close, or friendly way.  There are reasons for this that I could explain, but I don't feel like writing a book regarding it.  Suffice to say, I hold people to unfair standards, perfectionist standards, and I never really saw that before because of my own moral perfectionism.  I do not judge others for their lives, or beliefs, I would for how they treated me.  My list of former friends is bigger than real friends, by far.  I am ashamed of that.  But, I can't change certain things.  It is very hard for me to have the freedom to choose a friend, or stay a friend, and have that person betray or hurt me.  Once that is done, I tend to jump out of the plane yelling Geronimo, with, or without parachute.

So, at some point it becomes a good idea to list what you know, and reflect.  This isn't because you know what is wrong or right, but the very opposite.  By looking at the things you believe and how it affects others, you can make changes.  Unless you don't do that sort of thing.

For example, here are some reflections that I have considered.

I am not anti-wealth.  I am against giving the wealthy advantages that others with far less money or opportunity do not receive. 

I am not anti-immigrant.  I am against people taking what other people dutifully earned.  America is truly stronger in my view for its multi ethnic fabric.  We should encourage legal immigration, and do so in ways to advance the idea that we are better for a new voice, but that we refuse to listen to any voice, unless it has gone through the steps we present for fair reward of citizenship.

I am not anti-science.  I simply think that the absence of evidence is not absence of existence.  I believe in an unbelievably ancient earth, and I refuse to accept that humans have only been here mentally intelligent for 5 or 6 thousand years.  I am unable to prove anything, but has to do with the catastrophes that destroyed civilizations, rather than their non-existence.

I am not anti-social.  I am an introvert who is hurt and caused pain by interaction socially.  I have mental disorders that combine to make numbers, input, and volume a concern of mine in social situation.  If I am unable to control my setting, I often get panic attacks and get overwhelmed.

Although I am working towards happiness, I am not happy.  Sadly I have chronic and acute depression.  It robs me of many moments of joy.

I am not able to give to others what I do not have.  While I mean this socially, and inter-personally, many believe that if they want something they deserve getting that.  I am not saying desire of something is wrong, but I avoid desiring things so greatly that I lust for them, whatever the object of my desire might be.

I am not alone.  I have friends, family and beloved people in my life.  I cannot really explain it, but, although I am a mess regarding my mind, heart and flesh, I am content that I've lived and done mostly my best considering.

All I can do thereafter, is pray, reflect, and try harder.

“Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one. At one time it had been a sign of madness to believe that the Earth goes round the Sun; today, to believe the past is inalterable. He might be alone in holding that belief, and if alone, then a lunatic. But the thought of being a lunatic did not greatly trouble him; the horror was that he might also be wrong.” 

George Orwell

Monday, September 7, 2015

A Break in the narrative

"The tyrant dies and his rule is over; the martyr dies and his rule begins."  Søren Kierkegaard

Recently a person hit my blog and sent me about 2 dozen emails asking questions and demanding from me a variety of answers. Since I am not working upon a current entry, I'll speak to the questions asked.  I was invited by that reader to debate the existence of God.  He told me that if I could convince him of the existence of God that he would convert immediately to Christianity.  My requirement according to the reader was that I should denounce my faith and practice not discussing my beliefs whenever I write.

“"Let me light my lamp", says the star, "And never debate if it will help to remove the darkness”  Rabindranath Tagore

He called for facts, and I never ask for debates.  He asks for arguments to sway him, and I am convinced and not interested in a dialogue about that which I know in my soul.

“You always have to defend the imagination against idiots.”  Ursula K. Le Guin

There is really only one thing that needs to be said, which is, I am not an apologist, I believe in God and do not use statistics and facts to support it, because I would never assume that a holy book is meant for scientific answers to questions.  Also, I have said that I believe that God is so enormous, so powerful and beyond my understanding that humans could have evolved by a direction of the almighty, and every aspect of existence follows natural laws that could only exist if there was an architect behind the universe.  I am not someone who pushes my views on people.  I am someone who speaks about what I believe, but beyond that, I assume humans were not made to blindly follow, but to use their intellect to advance the betterment of humanity.  (For reference see Proverbs 26:4-14)

"It occurs to me that artists go forward by going backward, something which I have nothing against intrinsically when it is a reproduced retreat — as is the case with the better artists. But it does not seem right that they stop with the historical themes already given and, so to speak, think that only these are suitable for poetic treatment, because these particular themes, which intrinsically are no more poetic than others, are now again animated and inspirited by a great poetic nature. In this case the artists advance by marching on the spot. — Why are modern heroes and the like not just as poetic? Is it because there is so much emphasis on clothing the content in order that the formal aspect can be all the more finished?" Soren Kierkegaard

I think that there are a large number of Christian people who are lumped in together with the assholes of the crowd.  Westboro Baptist church hates gays and hates most anyone who have different views, different lifestyles and different beliefs.  A large number of self identifying Christians do disagree with gay marriage, with the advancement of a variety of social agendas that are considered left of center.  But, just as Christians are called to show tolerance and acceptance by the world, so too the world should understand, there are many flavors found in the Christian chalice.  Some are legalist, some are liberal, some are joyful, some are fearful, but all have views that involve emotional connections to a being that is supernatural.  My faith profile has been one of search.  I was baptized a Lutheran, confirmed a Methodist, spirit filled in a Charismatic non denominational church, and joined a Mennonite home church to express my desire for social justice. 

"And when night Darkens the streets, 
then wander forth the sons
Of Belial, flown with insolence and wine."

John Milton

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

I understand the power of, and use of debate between friends and lovers to better their relationship.  Marriage is one fashion of this.  Parenting cooperation is another.  Best friends do not always agree.  But disagreeing about important ideas and beliefs isn't necessarily detrimental to friendship or other sorts of relationships.  Acceptance and tolerance of ideas is important but, more, respecting the person who has the ideas and beliefs helps.  So, I hope the person wanting debate understands, I am not an apologist for any faith.  I believe in God, and that does not make me less intelligent or able to speak to others or write about my life.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Monks and Common People

It was formerly thought, from the start of the organized church to the middle of the Protestant Reformation, that the excessively faithful should enter the ministry or monastic life.  The thought was that the common person was not morally strong enough to be good enough to live a moral/holy life.  But I do not agree with that assessment.  The further a person considers themselves from being able to be moral, the less they try to be moral.  If they assume morality is impossible, they never bother to try.  This is a false belief, and one that contributes to losing followers of the faith.

Monastery Graveyard in the Snow
I am not a moral perfectionist.  Perfection is not the standard we follow however.  We assume our flesh is sinful, which is why we require forgiveness.  We do have to aspire to a higher moral standard.  I believe that most people would suggest that the falling church attendance in the 1st World is due to the standards of morality that comes in conflict with the standards of morality that individual decision making creates.

“When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Saint Sebastian
“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

The standard of being a Christian is to be a Saint.  That sounds difficult, but, we do not have a caste among the faithful, with uber faithful, faithful, and the sort of faithful.  We are all called to believe, act in faith, and be transformed.  So, while I am not perfect myself, and I am aware that I've made numerous mistakes, committed sins, I continue to move forward without feeling that I should stop being a Christian.  The standard of faith is to be in constant state of prayer/conversation with God, be in repentance for my sins, and to act in the faith that I have.  I do that.  I am not a monk.  I am not a living saint.  I am a knight of the almighty highest King.

Monk and Knights

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Dichotomies and Questions

“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”  Friedrich Nietzsche

I have degrees in Ancient, American and World History.  I have degrees, minor fields, in Political Science.  I've lived one half of a century.  As a poet I've observed and recorded my view and thoughts about the world, both in fiction, and autobiography. I've tried to understand the world that I live upon. But I don't understand it. I see so many paths people take, and so few that reward more than momentarily.  And almost none of those paths do I see being taken by people that will reward them outside of monetary or leisure pleasures.  In this time I've seen humans express great things, love, peace, hope, and more.  But I have seen precious little of people trying to accomplish those things.  

“All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”  Friedrich Nietzsche

A bacteria or virus on Mars would be thought to be a form of life, but a fetus in a womb is not considered to be a life.  As a child of rape I look upon the world of the present as many things.  I have no qualms about saying that if I were to be egg and sperm fertilized now, I'd be blown out of the womb before anyone could count to ten.  I am not, btw, an arch- conservative politico suggesting my birth mother should have been forced to birth me.  I was a burden upon her.  She suffered for my sins and that of others.  Nothing she did earned her the trials of my burden.  Modern life has changed in many ways.  It has permeated culture that decisions of life and death ought to be given weight to the sufferer versus societyAs some people have said to me, abortion choice or not: I exist.  And as such, I know the seed of life can not be logically made to fit moral frameworks.  If I die in the womb, and was wanted, I am life, but if I die by the abortion doctor's hand, or by natural selection, I wasn't life?

"One should die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly.”  Friedrich Nietzsche

In the world outside my door, people have fretted about crime, despite violent crime trending less by the year.   Many critics of the criminal justice system point out that an inmate is given hundreds of opportunities to express his case, and a victim of murder is not. I've been told that Capital Punishment is wrong.  And I've seen stories of wrongful executions.  At the same time, I've seen society mince about when they have an avowed murderer trying to wipe the needle for cleanliness sake, and I can even imagine them postponing the date of execution, due to poor criminal's current state of health.  Why bother?  Dead is dead.  Lethal injection was complained about, and due to the desire to make the death "humane" and civil, and as a result, a number of lethal injection have been botched.  The best answer is honesty.  A guillotine would be an instant form of death, humane, and is only considered cruel in the thought of it, but not in the deed of it.  Being killed painlessly and instantly is the goal of execution, right?

"Let us beware of saying that death is the opposite of life. The living being is only a species of the dead, and a very rare species." 
Friedrich Nietzsche

With society growing so modern, so secular we will face more decisions about life that are not based upon the values and morals that belief in church/mosques/synagogues, teachings, god/s had helped define.  I am aware, well aware, that while atheists, agnostics and people of different spiritual views can be moral, the change is deep, has been fast, and is confusing even to the people who were not moral activists on any sort of issue.  The world, the western world in particular, is changing its mind, its thinking regarding where it gets it's values.  Sanctity of the individual seems to be the most important component to modern western civilization.  I have questions about life, and my answers are informed by my experiences, beliefs, and my hope for the future.  There will be people who disagree with my views, will even tell me I am wrong for "thinking/believing" something.  Yet, that is my right, or domain, according to modern society.  Free speech is truly not, so I am saying these things here, with the realization that few will read, and that I control my content.

Modern society means the individual is the decision maker though.  Yet, we have lived in a world where for many years suicide was illegal.   Modernity focuses upon the individual?  Well if you consider that Political correctness is a function of being approachable to the herd of people you agree with, no.  Herd instinct magnified is modernity.  And when humans realize this, it might be far too late to correct its tendencies to allow freedom and choice again.

"He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying."  Friedrich Nietzsche

The stage then we act upon is small, we do not go far beyond our world, and the actors are not allowed much leeway to speak freely rather than their prepared lines.  We then celebrate the individual and claim we are our own director, our own master.  We hold the power over our own lives.  But, not really.  We have people who want to leave the theatre early, and the ushers say no.  We have people who are desperate to not leave until the last moment of the play, and they are escorted out. And then the curtain falls, and do we applaud, or do we sit in wonderment at what we've seen?

Der Gehenkte an der Glocke

Lord Byron

"There is the moral of all human tales;
'Tis but the same rehearsal of the past.
First freedom and then Glory – when that fails,
Wealth, vice, corruption – barbarism at last.
And History, with all her volumes vast,
Hath but one page..."

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Price of Knighthood: Tolls, Temptation, Tests

 "Thou Sir Launcelot, there thou liest, that thou were never matched of earthly knight's hand. And thou were the courteoust knight that ever bare shield. And thou were the truest friend to thy lover that ever bestrad horse. And thou were the truest lover of a sinful man that ever loved woman. And thou were the kindest man that ever struck with sword. And thou were the goodliest person that ever came among press of knights. And thou were the meekest man and the gentlest that ever ate in hall among ladies. And thou were the sternest knight to thy mortal foe that ever put spear in the rest."   

Sir Thomas Malory

As a person who sees my life as that of being a warrior in the service of the king, with perhaps only words as my weapons, and my faith as my shield and armor, I have been tested, often, by events in my life.  I have never run from a battle, I've not been a coward, but I have as often failed as I have found victory.  I've shown kindness to the people who were against me, I've not bragged or puffed myself up in conceit for the few victories I have won.  Most of all, while I've been neither perfect nor able to be a great example, I try not to lie, even when my personal and spiritual ego would be hurt by the truth, and publicly I might fail to meet the expectation of others.  I have failed, but I try to overcome my enemies or obstacles in my path with courage.   But, courage is different than hope.

In the vast emptiness that is the place where I used to hope, and it is there where I now house my hurt.  Too many times when I've offered succor to weak, to the hopeless and to those without a choice,  I've been attacked by those very people.  I will never stop being who I am, nor will I stop offering such kindness.  However, at some point when a person is used for the pleasure of others, or used as a tool to assist, only to be cast out, and cursed, I see no value in that.

I am a sensitive person and hurt easily.  At the age of 51 I've reached a place where I refuse to enter into the transaction that leaves me the worse for being kind.  Thus, while I continue in my journey, follow the path, I have to be concerned for my own well being.  As I fight through health issues, such as cancer, a form of inflammatory bowel disease, migraines, and more, I haven't the energy to deal with the needs of others as much as used to have.  I have been called selfish and self absorbed for this.  But, when life has cornered you and you have only to fight your way out, you can not be responsible for spilling blood on the carpet.  It is the case that life can hurt.  

I have recently been receiving letters from people suggesting that I write about and think about death too much.  But while I agree that I write about and think about death a great deal, I disagree, vehemently that I do so too much.  Knowing that life is short, painful and fleeting, gives you a reason to be sure you do the right thing, do it now, and be firm in your actions.  Being lazy allows you to believe that you have a luxury of time, and that life is endless, when it is not.

I have now, in 51 years had more than five times when I've been told that the health issue that I went through was one that I should have died or would likely have died without various events happening to avert them.  My wife and my doctor of the present, both have clearly helped me survive.  In a beautiful way, they've broken the grip of fate, on my biological mother's side of the family tree no male lived beyond age 49.  I am living proof that modernity is a better era for health, and my wife is a brilliant woman.  She is lovely as well.

But, despite the near misses, and despite my awareness that I am lucky, blessed or however you wish to phrase it, I still assume I might die at any time.  Because it is the truth.  I do not believe that there is a shield protecting me from damage or violence or stray events that might kill me.  But I believe now in destiny.  And, that test, whatever destiny makes of that test, I am willing to see it through, without dying prior.  No early exits for me.

"The man who would be a warrior considers it his most basic intention to keep death always in mind, day and night, from the time he first picks up his chopsticks in celebrating his morning meal on New Year’s Day to the evening of the last day of the year. When one constantly keeps death in mind, both loyalty and filial piety are realized, myriad evils and disasters are avoided, one is without illness and mishap, and lives out a long life. In addition, even his character is improved. Such are the many benefits of this act."  Daidoji Yuzan

"Bushido is realized in the presence of death. In the case of having to choose between life and death you should choose death. There is no other reasoning. Move on with determination. To say dying without attaining ones aim is a foolish sacrifice of life is the flippant attitude of the sophisticates in the Kamigata area. In such a case it is difficult to make the right judgement. No one longs for death. We can speculate on whatever we like. But if we live without having attaining that aim, we are cowards. This is an important point and the correct path of the Samurai. When we calmly think of death morning and evening and are in despair, We are able to gain freedom in the way of the Samurai. Only then can we fulfill our duty without making mistakes in life." Yamamoto Tsunetomo