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Welcome

NP Journal for experimenting with ideas, Copyright © 2011-2018 LJ Frank. All Rights Reserved. 

 

Narrative Paths Journal

“We think we know but have yet to discover.”  Thomas Aquinas
“Narrative Paths Journal is a literary magazine focusing on new philosophies and ideas.”  Uriél Dana

 

NP Journal for experimenting with ideas initiated 6/2011 within the context of experiences – rooted in treks, voyages, studies and work. The access, content, design and overall vision of the journal are evolving with the goal of enhancing the reader’s experience.

The views and opinions expressed in the Journal are those of the individual authors. 

Update: NP Journal – over 2,700,000 impressions and views to date from over 100 countries.

 

CONTENTS

About Us

Brief overview of  the vision and people who offer their insights and expertise. Includes a list of NP Journal Group & Contributors: editor, assistant editor, guest columnists, writers, poets and photographers.

For comments, suggestions, questions, being a guest columnist, interviewee or photographer: Contact: L J Frank at narrative.paths@gmail.com

Announcements

Introductions and links to evolving ideas, philosophies, trends with both narrative and poetic reflections on diverse issues.

Interviewees, columnists and other contributors may list their publications and presentations – books, articles, book signing events, links to periodical, radio, television, YouTube, theater and film productions, talks, speeches, other programs and performances.

Art

Includes some of Frank’s works of abstract expressionism. Numerous works are on display in business, professional offices, non-profits and private homes.

Guest Column

We welcome guest columnists/contributors. Please note: We like to experiment with ideas and explore different philosophies, topics and trends. We offer links to your online sites and upon request updates to your writings/publications, social media presentations. Guidelines for the length of a written article – up to 1500 plus words, give or take. Much depends on subject matter and author. Photos, videos, film, You Tube, podcasts, art works, cartoon drawings and other formats are welcome. Contact us for questions, suggestions or comments.

Inquiries

Philosophical approaches in essay and occasional poetic format to a variety of artistic, cultural, literary, political, religious, scientific and social matters.

Interviews

Strives to offer insightful and thought-provoking observations of varying lengths in areas that are engagingly diverse and leaning towards the paradigmatic.

NPJ Book Review

Books from the past to the present reviewed within the inquisitive, exploring nature of the journal. All reviews are by L J Frank unless otherwise noted.

Publications 

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”  Lao Tzu, Daoist philosopher

Preview listing of L J Frank’s published books with links to retail availability. Frank is also ghostwriting and currently working on manuscripts.

Rhythms

Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home — Japanese poet, Matsuo Bashō

Contrasting shapes of experiences, ideas, dreams and thoughts primarily in the form of experimental poetry, short essays and conversations.The words amusing, romantic, disquieting, nonlinear, rhythmless, obscure and existential are a few of the descriptors for these jottings.

Witticisms

NPJ’s look at amusing, droll, absurd, whimsical and chimerical messages.

Index

Links to archived Contributors, Announcements, Guest Column, Inquiries, Interviews, NPJ Book Review and Rhythms.

NPJ Briefing

The Briefing includes updates on Visitors by country, region and union.  Also, includes the Publisher’s Log.

Please send Comments and Questions about N P Journal to the attention of L J Frank at narrative.paths@gmail.com

 

Gender Ambiguity in the Workplace: Transgender and Gender-Diverse Discrimination by Alison Fogarty, Lily Zheng (2018)

My read: What is the difference between sex and gender? The authors note that sex refers to the biological aspects or differences in a human being including genetics and genitalia whereas gender focuses on how a person identifies her or himself, their roles and self-expression.

Ambiguity is an insightful take on what occurs when a baby is assigned a biological and genetic identity that is in conflict with the person’s gender identity. Intolerance and prejudice are linked when any individual opposes the gender identity of another human being based on preconceived cultural, political and social notions of what a male or female is supposed “to be” in terms of behavior, as a result of their genitalia. “You are a biological male, so act and dress like a biological male,” as if there is a set of rules written in stone on how males or females are expected to dress and behave, let alone “biological definitions” of male and female as determined by a physician at birth. When not conforming to learned expectations, violent behavior and abuse may result, and indeed has so across the country.  Insecurity and fear are woven into the fabric of intolerance.

This fascinating study delves into the psychology of our biological and gender identity in the workplace and associated discrimination. The research is original and extensive and numerous examples from transgender people offer a very human aspect to the challenges they face in today’s work environment. The authors talk about “doing ambiguity” and implementing genderless and gender-fluid dynamics in the workplace.

This is both an individual and, an organizational workbook. The book is written for “leaders seeking best practices related to bathroom access, workplace transition, hiring practices, inclusive workplace culture, and more, this book offers guidance and novel policy recommendations designed to ensure the success of transgender employees.”

If an organization wishes to explore a gender-fluid policy this work is a good starting point. The authors have offered though-provoking and discerning insights not only in gender ambiguity but what tolerant, open-minded, human and humane means. Do to others as you would have them do to you, is an ageless lesson.

My question for the future is – will programmable, human-like AI or Artificial Intelligence help us become more tolerant or exacerbate human tolerance/intolerance through software defining what is a human male or female and the roles the male/female identify with? The question comes with any number of assumptions. My suggestion is this study helps expand awareness of what we mean by human and the difference between our biology and our gender identity.

 

Image for Writings

Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

 

It really matters not where the embrace took place, only that it did. Perhaps it was just a chimera, a spiritual mist left over from a previous engagement in the narthex of my mind. Or was it hope misplaced.

Hope can be a singular, optimistic, on the edge, dangling noun, if such a thing exists. Almost like hanging from a creaking tree limb, while noticing the ground is an unnerving, thirty feet below, or more precisely, betting on a card that you have yet to turn over at a Blackjack table with a stack of chips at stake.

Of late, the facts of a given day appear as an illusion. A surreal quality even with the television, satellite radio and computer turned off. The heart feels love, hurt, loss and gain. Memories recalled are filtered through time’s experienced passageways and the realization I have my suppositions, whether I want them or not. As I recall, a truth is generally based on a fact. I thought about it while noticing a woman in a short, black dress standing on the other side of the table looking at me, as if she knew who I was. I detected a smile in her large brown eyes.

I’ve come to realize that years vanish, as if certain moments never existed, even when I look in the rearview mirror to catch a fleeting glimpse of the passing scene and by then it’s gone. It’s not the same, the second time around. Detour ahead, my brain suggests. Chance and random occur unannounced even on a digital roadmap. Things happen outside my view and plotting is an impish game for the manipulative mind seeking its oasis of wealth and control. Is being a maverick also an illusion of a destiny?

As I sat at the Blackjack table an hour felt like two-minutes and cards flashed by my eyes like old black and white photographs from an unfamiliar past. Adult faces, flushed with excitement, affixed to heads and situated atop bodies clothed in tuxedos,  sport coats, slacks, jeans, high heels, boots, low-cut dresses and short skirts. Furtive glances around the table, Blackjack is played with cards; whereas with poker it seems you play the other person more often than not. What are the odds, is a favorite cliché.

The dealer asked me if I wanted a hit. I nodded. Nineteen was the total, two short, of twenty-one, when I felt a hand touch my shoulder. I looked up.

“Have we met on another occasion?” The  brunette in the short, black dress, asked me with a French accent.

“Perhaps.”  I said. I thought she looked vaguely familiar. Or, was the mere question a suggestive imprinting in my head?

She flirted and asked, “I’m getting a glass of wine, would you like one?

I returned the grin and said, “Thanks, red wine?”

“I know.”  She said with confidence.

“Hmm.” Where did I meet her before?

I was ready to move on. As I walked away from the table I counted fifty dollars in chips more than I lost. In a casino you win, if you break even. Entertainment comes in many forms even for people sitting in wheel chairs and on breathing machines or dressed in tattered rags with bruises on their arms and legs playing the slot machines. Hope is a dangling noun.

I started for the lounge when just outside the entrance the woman greeted me with a glass of wine in hand, and asked,  “Lucky?”

“Yeah. Thanks for asking.”

“You’re welcome.”

Our conversation was polite and suggestive. We found a small table in the lounge, sipped our wine and chatted about life. We never talked about the past, we were only in the present moment. I couldn’t figure out where we may have met before, if ever. Nor did she give a hint. When we finished our drinks we stood up, embraced and kissed each other. She kissed me as if we had shared a mysterious, intimate past, and then said, “adieu” and noted she was heading to Montreal.

I stood alone for a few seconds watching her leave when she turned and looked back at me. I’m certain my face portrayed my mind’s bewilderment.

“Perhaps,” she said above a whisper. And with that enigmatic pronouncement she smiled and walked out the door and disappeared into the night.

 

The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy by Greg Miller (2018)

My read: This is an autopsy – the brain, heart and soul of a democracy is on the examining table. I thought I knew in part what the “guts” and the “spirit” looked like during the 2016 election… BUT…Miller has caused me to rethink what I am seeing and reading about. This book looks familiar. It’s deeper than its looks, written in layperson’s terms so the general reader gets a glimpse of what’s inside.

Miller, a Pulitzer prize-winning author offers remarkable insights – the ties between Trump and Putin and Russia’s role in the 2016 election and the political machination of politicians, e.g., Senator Mitch O’Connell, etc. (Does the Senate still exist…my question?) And, the implications on nominees to the Supreme Court come into focus. The downstream effect on justice in this country is yet to be fully comprehended. This book causes one to reflect.

Trump’s promises were purposefully vague and a deliberate distortion of the reality and the truth as he saw an opportunity to deepen the political chasms along with his desire to divide and conquer the unwitting and those who felt increasingly disenfranchised. He understood people’s anger with established institutions and he capitalizes on it leaving the masses behind while gorging himself on his personal wealth. The masses continue to turn their cheeks. The president tapped into the darkest of desires and concerns. And Trump understands and appreciates the use of fear, lying, intimidation and bullying tactics.

The  spear-phishing/hacking by Russia  (Trump: “Russia are you listening?) on a naive Democratic party, Hillary Clinton, the political hesitancy of President Obama, the role of Putin and the “children” of Trump – motivated for greater personal wealth and the President’s personal debt to Russia along with the symptomatic Christopher Steele’ dossier are just a few examples with each page offering  a specific or detail carefully researched by the author.

Much of the information in this work is discussed in a variety of magazines, investigative reports, newspapers both here and abroad and watching the news on TV or a computer or other digital technology, etc.  The author organizes the information / knowledge and offers the reader an analytical look into the diseased body of democracy. The cure?

This work is disturbing, thoughtful, well-written/researched and accessible.

 

from the film – Nineteen Eighty-Four

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past” – George Orwell

“You don’t need to win the argument. You don’t even need to have the facts. You just need to have an argument. All you need is to offer your side an alternative story in which to believe, a story that makes you sound trustworthy and your enemies untrustworthy” –  Ezra Klein

 

 

” There is in us, an instinct for newness, for renewal, for a liberation of creative power. We see to awaken in ourselves a force which really changes our lives from within. And yet the same instinct tells us that this change is a recovery of that which is deepest, most original, most personal in ourselves. To be born again is not to become someone else, but to become ourselves” – Thomas Merton, Love and Living.

I once asked my therapist if I will ever remember the first time – the first time I was forced to endure a past life regression and tucked away into the corners of my mind. I wanted to know if I had to go back and do something to jolt my memory, and ask is this the truth or is it a lie? She, very calmly, looked over at me, and answered, “It’s not that important to remember, it’s more important to forgive yourself, to reconcile those emotions.” I had no clue what she meant.

You see, I have had no platform, no exchange of hurts, no cord to cut, to free myself from intrusive thoughts that I could shout down at my memory. I remember who you are. I can’t face you, you have no face, and I am not ready to forgive you. I don’t want to forgive you. You, who hurt me, who betrayed my trust. You are the lie looking back at me, through the looking-glass.

You made me afraid. You, who broke my heart. I always knew that someday I would see you again, because for too long I questioned if you really happened, and I know you did. I saw your shadow in the looking-glass. That frightening place, where you would like to deny the real potential of the looking-glass, the reflective element of the unspoken, one that blocks the storm that rages within you.

Did you see yourself? Did you forget when you let my heart speak, and you heard my spirit whisper for you to go away? Did you hear me? Did you look into the mirror, more than once? Or did your shadow just lay in darkness?

I don’t forgive you, and I forgive myself for it. I will stop letting you hurt me. My forgiveness belongs to me. I forgive myself for being a little defenseless child. I forgive myself for refusing to remember who you are. I forgive myself for the pain you caused me. I forgive myself as I look into the looking-glass……….because the reflection I see is me. So much is being debated, and I see my own struggle, and I reconcile my self-worth, my divine power as in the God of my understanding. That is who I see, when I look again, in the looking glass. I see me. Why is it brave when men come forward after so many years, to speak about what was done to them as little boys at the hands of that Catholic priest. No one doubts them. We are just as brave, we were young girls who were victims of an abuse we didn’t understand. Why are such events viewed differently? Does anyone have an answer? I guess I will run it by my therapist………She’ll know.

 

Credit: Innominate, photographer

 

Image for Writings

Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

 

Posture appears to dictate

be seated or stand as you wish

or somewhere in between,

perhaps the compassionate lotus position with deep breaths

will accommodate, free to think your thoughts;

as the curtain raises on the political theater

of your mind

interviews, interrogatories and the emotive sighs of a trial

simulation of democracy at work and play

for advertisers, investors, bankers and others

the deposits in accounts mount,

while platoons of soldiers fight endless wars

without meaning

save money, power, envy and blood lust.

 

And an underemployed college graduate

sits next to an old person and child in a cold alley

seeking a friendly, intelligible network

and eyes in a national courtroom dart sideways

listening as only a voyeur can,

while a few on the side suspected they already knew

at the gathering in the Federalist’s Society’s cloakroom,

another justice in waiting.

 

The hauteur from the Appalachian terrain revealed

where his horse feeds on blue grass

Old Abe was not his ancestor,

unrecognizable in a black robe

private conversations with a syrupy tongue

the fore-finger pointed toward those of a lesser God

he uttered

the poverty of the mind is self-inflicted

and ignorance is a blissful state,

yet across the street

a wanting and familiar stranger stood

with scraps tossed on the wet pavement

an inspirational, sacred metaphor misplaced

as the human is without wings.

 

Wash the brain with repetition

the emphatic tone of whatever the market will bear

yet an enigmatic echo in a distant cityscape

a communique sent in the middle of the night,

prudence no longer a relevant word

a democratic Republic is on private and public trial

that began yesteryear as a human thought

the ancient effects of it still exist

a provocative idea and act – without borders.

 


A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn (1980, updated edition, 2015)

My perspective: The elitism of wealth and power is like a cancer on a democracy. It fosters a meanness that eats away at the soul of humanity. The author focuses on the history of the under-privileged, women, children, slaves, native Americans, but the implication is disturbingly deeper and affects the very notion of democracy and liberty and the treatment in empty, sterile textbooks. And that is part of the problem and the point.

Whatever occurs to a few human strands of a democracy affects the entire web of human democracy. How can any man or woman be truly free when even one human being, purposefully and or from innate wickedness, is thwarted for reasons having to do with another’s wealth and power?

This is a well-reviewed book, albeit one that has achieved and maintained its somewhat controversial status since it first appeared in print almost four decades ago and updated several years ago. The author is a reputable historian. His concern – human exploitation and manipulation – since the earliest days of the country.

The story of the United States is about the history of power and money and the lengths people will go to achieve wealth and power. We the People was/is great if you are a wealthy property owner and generally of European descent. Today it generally means an elite group of wealthy and powerful and or have connections to that wealth and power. Times change, people have memories and inevitably revolt.

Though there are no footnotes the author’s bibliography is solid. Having heard him speak, Professor Zinn was a seasoned intellectual. He shows how men of wealth play poorer men and women off each other to retain their power throughout history. Has anything changed today? Records of dissent are periodically destroyed or buried if they undermine the existing order.  History is rewritten to assuage the populace and keep people in line. Is there nothing new under the sun?

Perhaps it’s time we eliminate history textbooks altogether and concentrate on what really has taken place in the United States rather than who and what state boards affect and determine what students should read as history. In other words teachers need to offer even more diverse source material beginning at a very young age – elementary school.

 

Image for Writings

Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

I drove west on the interstate under an early morning mist. I like Movement. It’s  core to my wiring, even when the liberty associated with it, may itself be a philosophical illusion. If I’m not physically moving my brain is still engaged in a movement that transcends the physical space around me. As a young man I regularly walked and bicycled both in body and spirit. Perhaps it’s the genetics of a high metabolism and the quest for a higher level of consciousness that I be closer to the earth around me. Walking or biking immediately connects my senses with the smells, odors, fragrances, noises and sounds. I know the word movement only points to a thing but is not the thing itself. Movement evolves into an experience and an awareness.

As I matured I better understood the physical and mental nature of movement –  from driving an aging sports car along the west coast and smelling the fragrances of the ocean, to riding a bullet riddled small bus across a sand encrusted terrain in the Middle East and wondering if I would make it to the next village, and being a passenger on an exotic train snaking through an Eastern European forest in winter, or experiencing a  two-mast schooner voyaging across the Gulf of Mexico and to flying in the co-pilot’s seat on a sea plane landing near an island in the Sea of Japan.  The physical experiences of movement like sitting in a lotus position and breathing in the images and exhaling the noise moves me to a higher spiritual plane.

Much of my adult life has involved trekking and voyaging across land and seascapes whether in North and Central America, Europe and Asia. Movement encapsulates the existential moment. A thought is a momentary movement in the brain and serves as a precursor to a potential act. And my ability to imagine it, is a form of movement. And I have found my vision is clearest in the midst of a mission, voyage or or pilgrimage. Quiet contains movement with each breath.

The more I traveled the more it caused me to study geography both physical geography and the geography of the mind. Maps of the ancient and Medieval worlds or present day digital ones offer insight into who we are as human beings. Cartography is a fascinating science of incredible detail – geographic, political, electronic, spatial, non-spatial, geologic, topographic, and multi-dimensional projections that allow a person to expand their senses as if being part of the map itself. Perhaps in the future artificial intelligence will allow an intensive physical participation in the map.

Mapping dates back thousands of years on clay tablets, papyrus scrolls and cave paintings depicting the night sky for clues to human meaning. To know more about her or his life and immediate surroundings, the creation of a map inspired a desire and wish to know more and explore further and experiment with varied modes of transportation. And to know about the world could inspire one to know about one’s place in it and how people, cultures and geography affect our connectedness or isolation – physically, psychologically, culturally and politically with the effect of channeling language, beliefs, rituals, myths, habits and customs.

It’s intriguing to speculate about the first human attempts at drawing the first map to get from one place to another. For some nomadic societies the journey was home itself. And, the historical record only shows what researchers know and not what they experimented with or of which they failed.  The primitive woman or man drawing a map in the sand or scratching the details on a piece of clay or writing with a dye on a papyrus to show members of his family or clan or tribe the direction to some place, recorded for the moment and not for the purpose of posterity.

Language influences how we translate movement and place. Some maps were part of oral history in the form of traditions such as literary, passed down through generations.  In a sense it’s the geography of human thought and memory. Are there other maps in enigmatic forms yet uncovered – buried hidden in some cave or tomb or site that is waiting, unearthed? Would there be some type of maps that we wouldn’t recognize as such? Which causes me to wonder. Would beings from another planet beam a map to some strategic location in a different form such as mathematical, diagrams, sounds or other visuals? Would earth’s telescopes and pieces of listening equipment already have viewed, detected or heard them – but have yet to recognize the potential numbers or images as a map?

While wondering about such things, I decided to refocus on my drive west as I glanced at the GPS or electronic map on the dashboard. The road ahead stretched towards the horizon with seemingly endless sticky black bitumen called asphalt and divided by short white median stripes that appeared as a long line depending on one’s speed. On either side of the highway were swamps, burned wooded areas, rustic barns, crooked trees and acres of corn, wheat and soybean coupled with vast fields of weeds and clumps of clay and a few coyotes camouflaged into the scene like four-legged, long-distance runners with tongues hanging out. I wondered if Earth was a cosmic aberration in design. Randomness in the universe makes its own statement.

The roads I have traveled like my journeys retain a personality of their own. Some are dull with endless billboards, pothole ideas and crowded scenic vistas. I know the liberty offered by the highway is elusive, as satellites circle overhead and with the ubiquitous voyeur purposed camera alongside the road, attached to a tower or a vehicle  or a hand-held device. Movement is intricately linked to an elusive idea of liberty in the quest of my mind. And, the wayfaring I discovered along the way, is the destination.

 

Rebuilding communities affected by disaster, Shelters International Disaster Response (SIDRS) is a registered Canadian charity, and soon will have its 501(c)3.

An adventurer and humanitarian, Laura Allan has been in disaster relief for 16 years, and administered SIDRS for 9 years.

Shelters International Disaster Response – we are “a grass-roots volunteer based agency that provides permanent sustainable relief after disaster has struck – from recovery to reconstruction – empowering the local community through training.”

For more information and/or how you can help:  www.sidrs.org

 

NP:  How did Shelters International Disaster Response begin?  How did you become involved?

 Allan: SIDR or Shelters International Disaster Response began in Morocco in the High Atlas, a mountain range in central Morocco, North Africa. When I saw people walking 20 miles for a simple pail of water, I returned the next year and found water and installed a gravity feed system. They now only walk a mile. That showed me simple solutions were easy to implement and they changed lives.

We respond to a variety of disasters – hurricane or typhoon related disasters in the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Haiti are but a few examples of our efforts in providing a meaningful humanitarian response. Our volunteers come from all over the world including Canada and the US.

NP:   As a volunteer organization what is the motivating factors for people to volunteer their time and effort? Do volunteers pay for all their own costs including travel to disaster area, meals and housing?

Allan:  A core motivating factor indeed is humanitarian. We strive to make an immediate difference in a person’s life that also involves the opportunity to explore a different culture.

As I’m massively underfunded all volunteers kick in funds for food. I’m the president and I pay my way on all levels. Yes, of course there’s housing if it’s Haiti. Elsewhere – it’s sometimes a tent, after a disaster. One shouldn’t take the remaining homes when others obviously need shelter. Call it a solidarity thing. Plus, the locals really appreciate you are on the same level of living.

NP:  How is SIDR different from other similar organizations that provide aid and relief? Does SIDR work with other organizations to compliment the need relief work?

Allan: We are completely volunteers and there is zero salary except for nationals affected. Bigger agencies have high paid expats and stay in high-end hotels plus office and administration in home country. That eats up a huge amount of money. We empower locals by training them and they are the ones who carry it forward. On rare occasion I can’t be in two countries at once. I work with small groups who roll the same way. Volunteer driven. Zero bureaucracy and just getting it done. No weeks of meetings. Just assess the need and dive in.

NP: What are your thoughts about the future of volunteer aid and relief organizations?

Allan: Grassroots movements are the ones making long-term changes. They stay longer and integrate into the communities. They are far more in touch in what’s needed and what’s effective by far. Bigger relief organizations tend to stay in air-conditioned offices and do rare appearances in the field. They hold months of meetings with each other while people suffer. People need to research where the money goes and not be led by television or media campaigns. Look up who is working on the ground and read about their work. Smaller is better – it’s driven by love and not by a paycheque.

 

 

Image for Writings

Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

 

Quelle: The German for source, spring, well, fount, headwaters, fountainhead, origin.

A single event in life can be more enigmatic than a work of fiction. This one occurred in August of this year while engaged in researching a ghostwriting project for a person in New York City.

A distinguished older man sat on a bench under the shade of a tree in Central Park. He may have been reflecting on what to write when he looked down at the cellular phone he held in his hand and began pressing the keys with his index finger. It was the last text message he would send. Minutes later, he appeared to rest, his head tilted back, and his cellular phone dropped to the ground as a breeze stirred the leaves. A young woman walking by noticed the man and called the police.

An early forties looking detective with thin hair and brooding eyes, who I met the next day, noted the dead man was probably in his late fifties, had messy white hair and wore expensive looking cordovan cap toe boots and a grey wool blend suit with an open collar blue shirt underneath. “He didn’t look homeless…except there was no wallet, no papers. No identification on the man.” The man’s cellular phone was a dated Blackberry cellular model and displayed only one message All other names and messages were deleted, save the text to me. There was little evidence the man ever existed except for his body and the message. A baby who perhaps was once cradled in his mother’s arms he now was just another older man who died alone in the city.

***

The sign read detour. Driving north on I-81, I would cut over to New York City. I was to meet a man who lived in Manhattan about a writing project. I was listening to some Bach on the radio and thinking about the project while driving. I wondered how it might relate to the previous potential book I was to collaborate on in the city. I had spoken with the person for over an hour on the phone. The story seemed riddled with glitches. My initial research suggested to step back. I did.

In the western sky low hanging grey clouds caught my sight. The city was still a couple of hours away. The rain would get there sooner. According to my android phone navigator there was a Starbucks at the next exit. I exited the interstate and within five minutes found the coffee shop, parked, walked in and ordered a cup of black coffee. I looked at my phone. There were nine messages.

Click. The first three messages were sales pitches for whatever. Delete.

Click. Message four was from a former colleague now living on the east coast outside the District of Columbia. “Just checking in. Are you still alive? If you answer I’ll know one way or the other. Lol.”

I text back. “Since I’m replying to you. I am. Good to hear from you. More later.”

Click. Message five. The name and number was unavailable. Delete.

I took a sip of the coffee. Click. Message six. It was an appointment reminder from a colleague.

Click. Message seven. A politician asking me for his vote. Delete.

Click. Message eight. A fundraiser. Delete.

Click. Message nine. “Within the journey you will need to find the Quelle…so close you can see.”  Signed,  “Manhattan gentleman.”

The following day I found the bench the detective told me about, where the man was sitting. I sat down, looked around. I could see a portion of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the distance. What else? I checked the few texts we exchanged before the last one including my jottings from our telephone conversations. Perhaps it was something else altogether. Time would tell.

*Excerpt from book Frank is currently writing.

 

Dream Yoga – Lucid Dreaming Fall Workshops

Dear Friends,
It’s hard to believe that the summer is almost over. As the days get shorter, it is a great time to explore ways to make the most of your sleeping hours.
I am pleased to be offering two in-person dream yoga workshops this Fall, as well as a six-week online dream yoga course with Tricycle Magazine.
Dream yoga provides a profound way to turn one-third of our lives into meditation, and to have fun doing it.
Happy Dreaming,

Andrew Holechek
Upcoming Workshops
Sept 7-9, 2018 (Fri-Sun):  Dream Yoga Weekend Program,
Shambhala Mountain Center, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado
In this program, you will be introduced to both the ancient tradition of dream yoga and the modern scientific research, techniques, and technologies of lucid dream practice.
You’ll explore how to guide your dreams, and use them for personal transformation and spiritual awakening. Open to all levels.


Sedona

October 29- November 4: Advanced Dream Yoga Retreat, Sedona Mago Retreat Center, Sedona, Arizona. 

From theory to practice, from science to spirituality, this program draws on the ancient wisdom of the East and the modern knowledge of the West to penetrate the mysteries of the night – and the wonders of the mind. You will come out of this program with a totally new relationship to sleep and dream, and learn how you can use every night for psychological and spiritual growth.
This is our second year offering an advanced dream yoga retreat. It went so well last year, that we have extended it to six days. Most participants have either attended one of my earlier lucid dreaming/dream yoga programs, or read my Dream Yoga book or have some knowledge about the basics of lucid dreaming.
Beautiful Sedona continues to be recognized as a place of healing and spiritual renewal. The Sedona Mago Retreat Center is nestled in the gorgeous natural scenery of the Sedona area. The retreat includes accommodations in either a private or shared casita, along with three healthy, delicious meals a day.
We still have some spaces available, so if you are interested, please register soon. Come join us and meet like-minded people while you learn about the deeper aspects of the nocturnal meditations.

Evening escape

 

Madame,

Your boots, slacks & sweater are on a chair next to bed,

the doors unlocked & ajar,

my car, full tank of gas, keys in the visor,

is in the street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image for Writings

Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

Recently, I was asked about my philosophical approach to dying and death by a person who works in an environment that serves people whose families are unable to care for their loved ones or those who were deserted by society and exist without family or friends.

My anecdotal thoughts: practically speaking, dying and death are inevitable. Death is the cessation of all biological functions of the human body. The social aspects of death can be viewed in funeral homes and cemeteries where people pay respect while the dead person’s blood at the funeral home is drained into the sewer system. I only mention that as ancient religious rituals maintained the essence of the human soul was derived from our blood and water and therefore it might be wise to retain the blood and water in the body after death. The etymology of the English word soul is Proto-Germanic – the roots of the word mean “from the water.” In the ancient Middle East, etymological roots of soul are traced back to “blood.”

Times change as do traditions, particularly when money is involved. Soul came to mean a mist like spirit rising from the body after death and beliefs evolved with elaborate rituals depending on one’s station in life.

As soon as a person is born they begin to die. It’s a scientific law. I know much less about what happens after death. Those that think they know are working with supposition, perception, belief, faith, hope and other insights. Some ideas can be quite deep and ambiguous. Personally, I like ambiguous. The claims of life after death would seem to require substantial evidence beyond belief. Experience suggests it’s a personal event to witness. Unless one experiences it, the “it” becomes second-hand and hearsay. The ambiguity may exist in being witness to such an event. I have no physical evidence for my perceived spiritual experiences though sometimes my face may betray an enigmatic expression. Life and death remain somewhat of a mystery to me, even within and beyond the scope of inspired literature.

To appreciate the impact of my dying and death is on some level to question the meaning of my life. The meaning is also dependent on the condition of my body and mind. I experience the body and its organs I was born with, though I may change and modify the organs for whatever reason. Regardless, I remain human through my memory, internal wiring, experiences, filters, studies, interactions with others, environment and all that affects who and what I am. My life gains meaning in relation to others. Hamlet observed to his friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that – nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so. In large measure his observation appears accurate until you try to reconcile unfairness and injustice, especially applied to dying and death.

In my travels I’ve noticed the various stages of how people live and die. All humans were babies at one moment in time umbilically – biologically and emotionally – attached to their mother. Who will be nearby at the moment of their death? What happens along the way for a society to allow poverty, homelessness, slavery, abuse, starvation, purposeful victimization and other forms of violence to occur? And, am I truly free when another human being struggles to merely survive let alone die, lost to anyone’s memory?

Compassion is what isolates and surpasses the predatory in the human animal and aids in helping transcend the physical nature of our inevitable transition. And, I hope it’s the imagery of our small successes and acts of compassion that out-live our mortal coil. Within the word compassion is the word passion. Compassion and passion are threads in the same fabric of human existence. How we incorporate them in our life helps define the meaning of living, dying and death.

Reporter: A Memoir by Seymour  M. Hersh (2018)

This is a fascinating and an exceptional memoir of a reporter’s reporter. Accuracy was essential in Hersh’s life that he learned early growing up on the south side of Chicago.  Striving for a sense of personal ethics affected his writing and observations. It was the story that he wanted to get right. He understood that transparency was always illusive. Having the time to research and write a story is a poignant reminder of journalism’s heyday considering today’s 24/7 social/news media cycle that reporters and correspondents face today. Digging deep and tackling stories others may not wish or have the time to research is a challenge that Hersh confronted head on.

There’s plenty of substance to this book – reporting demanded it whether it’s reporting the atrocities of Vietnam, the CIA subterfuge – undermining foreign governments and assassinations, the neocons (Neo-conservatives) and nationalists like Cheney, Rumsfeld and others like Kissinger who were not averse, to speaking from their teeth – to lie or obfuscate and disinform/mislead was a procedural matter. The private and abusive behavior of the presidents towards their own families is demonstrative of the effect of power on a “political leader.” The relationships, Hersh had With other journalists, is an intriguing glance into the man and his pursuit of a story, eg., Bob Woodward of the Washington Post is one of many examples. He called things as he saw them.

In exposing the truth, he ventured into dangerous territory on more than one occasion, the cruelty could be found if one chose to look – from the military, government, prisons, politicians, the list is long…the nature of humans is not always ethical or agreeable to one’s appetite but Hersh leaves few stones unturned when he’s after a story and his coverage shows it and he also shows how human he is.

This is a thought-provoking read.

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