Monday, October 19, 2020

Thoughts on Death

This came across my Facebook and it was too good to let disappear over time. I am documenting it here as well as sharing it with you.

I love you and am grateful that you are in my life.

Michael

• • • • •

"There is no birth, there is no death. There is no coming, there is no going. We only think there is.

When we know that birth and death are together always, we are no longer afraid of dying. What you call birth and death are only transformation."

~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Image may contain: one or more people, text that says '"This place is a dream. Only a sleeper considers it real. Then death comes like dawn, and you wake up laughing at what you thought was your grief." Rumi 0'

"When someone we love dies, we get so busy mourning what died that we ignore what didn’t." ~ Ram Dass


"Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there. I did not die." ~ Mary Elizabeth Frye


“Death is nothing to be sad about, it is something to be celebrated with songs and dances. It is a moment of rejoicing. Death is only the death of the body. But you will go on living in the universal consciousness, forever and forever.” ~ Osho


“A culture that denies death inevitably becomes shallow and superficial, concerned only with the external form of things. When death is denied, life loses its depth. Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to “die before you die” – and find that there is no death. Nothing that was real ever died, only names, forms, and illusions.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

"The real does not die, the unreal never lived. In death only the body dies. Life does not, consciousness does not, reality does not. And life is never so alive as after death.

In some cases, death is the best cure. Life may be worse than death, which is rarely an unpleasant experience, whatever the appearances. Therefore, pity the living, never the dead.
With death the idea 'I am this body' dies. The witness does not.

People are afraid to die because they do not know who they are and what death is. The moment you know your real being, you are afraid of nothing. Death gives freedom and power. The happiness of being absolutely free is beyond description." ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj


“The only reason why people have such a fear of death is they know nothing beyond the body.” ~ Sadhguru


"This form is just a costume for a while. But the one behind the costume is eternal. If you know this, you don't worry about anything. When you discover yourself as awareness, the fear of death will not trouble you any longer."~ Mooji


"If you are afraid of death, be afraid. And then comes the hitherto unbelievable surprise: you don't die because you were never born. You had just forgotten who you are." ~ Alan Watts


“Death is only an experience through which you are meant to learn a great lesson: you cannot die. The reality of your life cannot die for you are indestructible consciousness.”~ Paramahansa Yogananda


"There is no birth, there is no death. There is no coming, there is no going. We only think there is. When we know that birth and death are together always, we are no longer afraid of dying. What you call birth and death are only transformation.

When you lose a loved one, you suffer. But if you know how to look deeply, you have a chance to realize that his or her nature is truly the nature of no-birth, no-death. Pay attention to the world around you, to the leaves and the flowers, to the birds and the rain. If you can look deeply, you will recognize your beloved manifesting again and again in many forms. You will release your fear and pain and again embrace the joy of life.

No coming, no going, no after, no before, I hold you close, I release you to be free; I am in you and you are in me." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh


“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.
Death belongs to life as birth does. The walk is in the raising of the foot as in the laying of it down.
And because I love this life, I know I shall love death as well.
Man is immortal; therefore he must die endlessly. For life is a creative idea; it can only find itself in changing forms.
In death the many become one; in life the one becomes many.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore


"If thought turns its attention away from the objects which it seems to know, turns its attention back on itself, it ceases to be thought and is revealed as pure Consciousness. This open, empty, dimensionless, objectless Awareness that we essentially are, is not limited by any of the thoughts, feelings, sensations, or perceptions that appear within. It was present prior to the appearance of the body-mind, it is present during the appearance of the body-mind, and it remains present after the disappearance of the body-mind. That is not something we discover when we die. We can discover it at any moment. Nothing ever disappears. Only forms are constantly transformed." ~ Rupert Spira


“Consciousness was pre-existent and will survive the body. The body dies, but the spirit that transcends it cannot be touched by death. When a pot is broken, the space within is not. When the body dies, the Self in it remains eternal. The dead are fortunate. It is only those who are left behind who feel miserable. Discover your undying Self and be immortal and happy.”~ Ramana Maharshi


"Nobody dies. There is no such thing as death. There is only eternal life, and you are that.
You are dreaming the mortal dream! If you're aware that you're dreaming, are you going to react to anything? Will you react to situations if you know that you're dreaming? Of course not. You'll laugh! You'll see a war going on and you'll get in the middle of the battlefield and you'll say, "What are you doing? This is all a dream! Throw your guns away. You're wasting your time! Nobody dies, nobody is killed, nobody is born. It's all a dream.” And they'll probably shoot you for saying that! Makes no difference if they shoot you! You're aware that you're dreaming, so you're the witness of you being shot, and you keep laughing. And then you wake up." ~ Robert Adams

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Dining Out - Fiction

Recently I dined out at a new restaurant. I ate inside, did not follow social distancing, or wear a mask. But that was OK because the restaurant at which I ate was in last night's dream.

The restaurant was somewhere in Russia and I was with Gregory and friends Jill and Lincoln who live in Evanston and are also proprietors of a guest house, Casa Cielo Azul, in San Pancho, Mexico where I have stayed several times. 

Why were we dining in Russia? Dreams do create interesting adventures, don't they? It had something to do with a move, the truck was loaded and I remember thinking, "Glad that is done. Glad that I do not have to be involved with the unloading."

The restaurant was located in a rural area somewhere in Russia. The streets were dimly lit and we could see the place ahead as we walked towards it. There was a brick building that provided cover for the preparation services of the restaurant with an outside eating area. 

The dining area was under a wooden roof held up by beams around the perimeter. In between each beam were rolled plastic shades in case it rained and planters in which some kind of green bushes were growing. With exposed light bulbs crisscrossing the room, it was even more dimly lit than the street we had just come down.

There was an open gate that allowed entrance to the dining area. A small podium served as the hostess station, which was staffed by an overweight, buxom woman with long blond hair, dressed in a nothing special dress and decorated, if not overdecorated, with gaudy, cheap, not flattering jewelry: necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and broaches.

She said nothing but led us to a table for four. She left us there saying even less! Most of the tables were for four,  there were several larger ones that could seat up to twelve. The tables were made of wood which at one time were stained dark and sealed. They had seen better days. The chairs were also wooden and slatted in a sturdy but not necessarily comfortable way.

On the table was a repurposed food can with a roll of half-sized pieces of paper, which turned out to be menus, that had been ripped unevenly. Another can contained miscellaneously sized pencils, some with erasers and some sharpened over and over again down to nubbin size. There was an unlit candle on the table in a third, formerly tuna fish tin. The table, the chairs, and the cans were not necessarily as clean as I would have liked but they served their purpose. 

The waitperson approached us, glumly without any greeting. He was wearing common street clothes but his "uniform" was dressed up a little with a white, bibbed apron that reached to his ankles. His hair was a little messy but maybe that was the style. Matching his unkempt look, his fingernails were not clean.

He placed a white paper placemat in front of each diner. He also set out a napkin, which looked like it would not absorb much and would fall apart after wipe number three, a fork, knife, teaspoon, and serving spoon. He left and soon came back with a glass for each of us and a pitcher of lukewarm water. 

Pointing towards the can with the rolled-up papers, he said, "Write your order on them and when you are ready wave, and I will come and pick them up. He did not offer to answer any questions that might come up, and quite a few questions did quickly popped into our minds.

The menu left a lot to wonder about. On the top was a box with the label, "Table Number." We assumed that the waitperson would fill that in as it was not obvious what our table number was. There was a grid of up to twelve lines with columns across the top reading: Name, Vodka, Beer, Red. We assumed we were to identify each diner and check the beverage selection. There were no details as to brand, type, large, small, etc.

The columns continued: Beef, Pork, Chicken, Fish. We didn't know if we could check more than one. Could we create a "Combination Plate" by checking all of them? Finally, there was a column marked "Salad" and one marked "Dessert." Again, there was no further description and no prices listed anywhere.

When our beverages arrived, they were drinkable and served in stemmed glassware. The main course, after questioning the waitperson, ended up being various types of stew so there was no "Combination Plate" possible. They were, however, amply portioned and quite tasty.

After delivering the stews, he promptly returned with a metal basket of rustic, brown bread, no napkin keeping the bread away from the often used basket, and no butter. The salad, delivered last, was plain lettuce drizzled with oil and a dash of sharp vinegar.

There were not, he didn't apologize, any desserts available that evening. We wondered to each other if there ever were desserts available on any evening! And if there had been desserts what might they have been like.

At the end of the meal, each one of us received an even smaller, even more, unevenly ripped slip of paper which just had a number on it. 1,500 ₽, one thousand five hundred Rubles it said, approximately $20.00 US. We paid in cash, left the requisite 10% tip, and left musing over the unique, wonderful adventure of the dinner in which we had just partaken. 

The candle never got lit. 



Saturday, October 10, 2020

The Piano Ghost


Yesterday I had a minor surgical procedure to remove a benign lipoma from my neck. They grow quite commonly in my family and I have had a number of them removed over the years. 

DISCLAIMER and SPOILER 
(a photo of my wound is shown below)

But this is a story which takes place before my surgery. I woke on Friday at 4:00 am in preparation for being picked up by my housekeeper at 5:30 am to arrive at Evanston Hospital by 6:00 am. I am fortunate to have had Halina to take care of me for close to 40 years! She not only keeps my condo in shape but is there for me when I am ill or need special help.

When we arrived at the hospital, Halina dropped me off at the front door (COVID-19 style) and I entered the front entrance by myself and headed to the registration desk. There, mask in place, I was asked by the only other person in the lobby, mask in place as well, a number of questions about my COVID-19 experiences: no travel outside of Illinois, lack of temperature, lack of illness, lack of contact with others, etc.

The call I received from my doctor's team the day before surgery instructed me to then head towards the piano after I registered and take Elevator "B" to the third floor where I would see signs directing me to the Ambulatory Out-Patient Surgery Center. 

The piano was located in the lobby of a beautifully designed area which I guess was to make you feel good about being in a hospital. It soared two stories to the surrounding second-floor balcony and third-floor ceiling above that. The lobby was populated with luxurious, comfortable seating (socially distanced.) The lighting was soft and supposedly inviting, there was water bubbling out of a fountain on the wall into a stone basin surrounded by plants.

The lobby was NOT populated with people at that time of the morning and besides the person who welcomed me at the registration desk who did the COVID-19 interrogation (with a smile behind her mask, I could tell from the lilt in her voice,) I was all alone. All alone in this magnificent open air space with a black, baby grand piano ... with a black, baby grand piano which was playing itself. 

My first thought was not "How beautiful", or "How welcoming", or "What lovely music", but rather "Oh my, a piano playing itself,  there must be a ghost whom I cannot see playing it?" It actually was quite an eerie sight in a hospital which while it has as it's nature the saving of lives, most likely has also taken a number of them.

More eerie was the way the black, baby grand piano was playing itself ... without emotion, without feeling. Like someone had begun a metronome and instructed the piano to follow the timing EXACTLY as defined by the timekeeping machine. And the metronome was just a bit too slow for the music selected. It sounded like a young child who is accomplished at playing but who is too young to understand the emotions or feelings that must line any piece of music well played.

The piano was playing classical music, banging out one piece after another as it echoed through the soaring, empty lobby. After taking Elevator "B" to the Ambulatory Out Patient Surgery Center, its notes continued to reach me on the third floor with a drive and force that showed no feeling or emotion but rather commanding a strict adherence to a tempo set by a machine who only cared to make sure the piano kept up.

There I was the only one waiting, being a little too early even for the clerk to be behind her desk to sign me into the center. As I sat there, waiting for the hospital personnel to arrive, I tried to imagine what the Piano Ghost looked like. Male? Female? Young? Old? White? Black? Brown? or maybe, being a ghost, a shifting collection of all the above listed.

The experience did not cheer me up, did not make me feel welcome and/or comfortable, but did in some ways entertain me with its silly, inappropriate, metronomic, empty strands of Beethoven, Chopin, and others!



Friday, October 9, 2020

Curb Scrapers

When I turned 16, my father gave me driving lessons. The year was 1961. We were driving down McCormick Blvd in Chicago. I was behind the wheel, my dad was in the front with me, and my mom was in the back.

We were going around the curved run on McCormick, near Oakton. Apparently I had not “curved” enough, so I got too close to the curb and the feelers sounded.

My father threw a “hissy fit” or whatever the masculine version is.  I didn’t hit the curb and quickly corrected the car but my father still was exploding.

Shortly after, my mom decided that my father was not the best candidate to teach me how to drive so she signed me up for private lessons. Lessons in one of those cars that had two steering wheels, one for me and one for the teacher!

We could hardly afford the lessons but my mother knew that we could hardly afford the damage to my psyche he would cause and the possible heart attack for my dad!


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

The Fine Art of Failure

This came across my e-mail today and spoke to me!

The Fine Art of Failure
The ego wants resolution, wants to control impermanence, wants something secure and certain to hold on to. It freezes what is actually fluid, it grasps at what is in motion, it tries to escape the beautiful truth of the fully alive nature of everything. As a result, we feel dissatisfied, haunted, threatened. We spend much of our time in a cage created by our own fear of discomfort.



 

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

What Makes a Life?

Adeline (RIP 2010), Michael, Libbe (RIP 2020, Lou RIP 2005)

Libbe Maxine Horvich Berger
RIP October 4, 2020

With sorrow and love, I am sharing the death of my sister Libbe. She died peacefully in her sleep and for that I am grateful. It was a shock to the family because after a severe fall she was recovering so well. She chose to leave us on the same day my Gregory left us five years ago. Nice to know they are happy together and that he is there to welcome her home!

I find it amazing that in many ways, one doesn't really believe that a person you know and/or love is really going to die until they do. I think that even when a person has been ill for a while, their death comes as a surprise. When they die suddenly, it is even more surprising.

And then one has to deal with probably the greatest mystery of life itself, death! What is the process by which someone leaves? (Birth is pretty mysterious as well with imagining the process by which someone arrives!) Where has that person or their soul gone? What happens to all the energy that made the person who they were. What is the next adventure like for them.

So the question comes up, "What makes a life?" One is born, grows up, attends school, perhaps has religious confirmation, possibly goes to college and graduates, meets a love and gets married, buys a home, buys new cars, may choose to have children, if so eventually begins to welcome grandchildren, retires, and lives out the last years of life, hopefully in peace and comfortably watching as peers slowly die and leave the living behind.

One cleans house, does the grocery shopping, cooks dinner, goes on vacation, takes photographs, tells family stories, collects memorabilia, gives parties, hosts celebrations, visits with family and friends over a cup of coffee, buys new furniture for their home.

Interspersed with these milestones hopefully, a person leaves the world a better place when they die. And hopefully, they have been able to enjoy the time spent on this earthly plane where they shared their love with others, lived a life filled with generosity and compassion for others, helped those less fortunate then themself. Hopefully, they have been mindful of their time, kept aware of the good times, dealt with the difficult, and celebrated the joyous.

But it all seems to go so quickly by in a haze and looking back is not sufficient to really record the events of the years or the sum of a life. So the best approach, I believe, is to live in the now! 

Live for today (while of course preparing for the future) as all the time we really have is today. The past is gone, never to return. The future may never arrive and if it does we cannot be aware of what it will bring with itself.

My sister has left a lot behind. Besides the physicality of being with her family (and the family members are the ones that are affected most, obviously not her). 

She is on a new adventure, the likes of which we cannot begin to imagine. Even if we could, the words we would use to describe that next step are man-made words so they could not begin to be close to the truth.

Her neuroses and psychoses no longer exist, and she had many that affected the quality of her life. Her back no longer aches from her recent fall. She is no longer afraid to get on an elevator, she no longer is afraid of falling while out walking around the mall. 

She no longer has to watch her blood sugar and fight with diabetes. She no longer has to argue with her husband (don't all couples argue?)

She no longer has to worry about her children and her grandchildren as they move through their own version of life which at times frustrated her because their versions were in conflict with her's. 

She no longer has to lament lost opportunities, unexpressed emotions, past failures, unattained successes. She no longer has to wonder what if, or why and why not.

Above all, she no longer has to be afraid of death! Instead of missing her mom and dad, inlaws, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends who have predeceased her, perhaps she is interacting with them even as we speak. At least, she no longer has to miss them.

I believe that now, on the occasion of her death, Libbe has returned to her "pure self". She is now the essence she was before she began her earthly adventure: before as a child unknowingly the important figures in her life presented their truths as universal truths which they, in turn, received from the important figures in their lives and which were not necessarily the "truth", before her corporal needs interfered with her spiritual needs, before her health slowed her down, before her physical limitations took hold, before financial difficulties affected her lifestyle.

Rest in peace dear sister. What makes a life? You did and for the most part, you were good at it. You have left many people behind, who carry the love they hold for you yet, and will as long as they continue the work of making their own lives matter.


Sunday, October 4, 2020

Libbe Berger (RIP October 4, 2020)

With sorrow and love, I am sharing the death of my sister Libbe. She died peacefully in her sleep and for that I am grateful. After recovering nicely from a fall a month or two ago she was doing so well that her sudden departure was unexpected and a shock to the family.

She was able to be in touch with everyone in the family on her eightieth birthday which was the day before she died. 

She chose to leave us on the same day my Gregory (RIP 2015) left us five years ago. Nice to know they are happy together and that he is there to welcome her home! 

I also know she is happy to be reunited with her mom (Adeline RIP 2010) and dad (Louis RIP 2005) as well as all her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends who arrived on their new adventure before her.





Friday, October 2, 2020

There Is No Birth and There Is No Death - Quotations


This came across my Facebook and it was too good to let disappear over time. I am documenting it here as well as sharing it with you.

I love you and am grateful that you are in my life.

Michael

• • • • •


"There is no birth, there is no death. There is no coming, there is no going. We only think there is. When we know that birth and death are together always, we are no longer afraid of dying. What you call birth and death are only transformation." 
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

"When someone we love dies, we get so busy mourning what died that we ignore what didn’t." 

~ Ram Dass


"Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there. I did not die." 
~ Mary Elizabeth Frye


“Death is nothing to be sad about, it is something to be celebrated with songs and dances. It is a moment of rejoicing. Death is only the death of the body. But you will go on living in the universal consciousness, forever and forever.” 
~ Osho


“A culture that denies death inevitably becomes shallow and superficial, concerned only with the external form of things. When death is denied, life loses its depth. Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to “die before you die” – and find that there is no death. Nothing that was real ever died, only names, forms, and illusions.” 
~ Eckhart Tolle


"The real does not die, the unreal never lived. In death only the body dies. Life does not, consciousness does not, reality does not. And life is never so alive as after death.

In some cases, death is the best cure. Life may be worse than death, which is rarely an unpleasant experience, whatever the appearances. Therefore, pity the living, never the dead.

With death the idea 'I am this body' dies. The witness does not. People are afraid to die because they do not know who they are and what death is. 

The moment you know your real being, you are afraid of nothing. Death gives freedom and power. The happiness of being absolutely free is beyond description." 
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj


“The only reason why people have such a fear of death is they know nothing beyond the body.” 
~ Sadhguru


"This form is just a costume for a while. But the one behind the costume is eternal. If you know this, you don't worry about anything. When you discover yourself as awareness, the fear of death will not trouble you any longer."
~ Mooji


"If you are afraid of death, be afraid. And then comes the hitherto unbelievable surprise: you don't die because you were never born. You had just forgotten who you are." 
~ Alan Watts


“Death is only an experience through which you are meant to learn a great lesson: you cannot die. The reality of your life cannot die for you are indestructible consciousness.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda


"There is no birth, there is no death. There is no coming, there is no going. We only think there is. When we know that birth and death are together always, we are no longer afraid of dying. What you call birth and death are only transformation.

When you lose a loved one, you suffer. But if you know how to look deeply, you have a chance to realize that his or her nature is truly the nature of no-birth, no-death. 

Pay attention to the world around you, to the leaves and the flowers, to the birds and the rain. 

If you can look deeply, you will recognize your beloved manifesting again and again in many forms. 

You will release your fear and pain and again embrace the joy of life.

No coming, no going, no after, no before, I hold you close, I release you to be free; I am in you and you are in me." 
~ Thich Nhat Hanh


“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.

Death belongs to life as birth does. The walk is in the raising of the foot as in the laying of it down.

And because I love this life, I know I shall love death as well.

Man is immortal; therefore he must die endlessly. For life is a creative idea; it can only find itself in changing forms.

In death the many become one; in life the one becomes many.” 
~ Rabindranath Tagore


"If thought turns its attention away from the objects which it seems to know, turns its attention back on itself, it ceases to be thought and is revealed as pure Consciousness. 

This open, empty, dimensionless, objectless Awareness that we essentially are, is not limited by any of the thoughts, feelings, sensations, or perceptions that appear within. 

It was present prior to the appearance of the body-mind, it is present during the appearance of the body-mind, and it remains present after the disappearance of the body-mind. 

That is not something we discover when we die. We can discover it at any moment. 

Nothing ever disappears. Only forms are constantly transformed."  
~ Rupert Spira


“Consciousness was pre-existent and will survive the body. The body dies, but the spirit that transcends it cannot be touched by death. 

When a pot is broken, the space within is not. When the body dies, the Self in it remains eternal. 

The dead are fortunate. It is only those who are left behind who feel miserable. 

Discover your undying Self and be immortal and happy.”
~ Ramana Maharshi


"Nobody dies. There is no such thing as death. There is only eternal life, and you are that. You are dreaming the mortal dream! 

If you're aware that you're dreaming, are you going to react to anything? Will you react to situations if you know that you're dreaming? Of course not. You'll laugh! 

You'll see a war going on and you'll get in the middle of the battlefield and you'll say, "What are you doing? This is all a dream! Throw your guns away. You're wasting your time! 

Nobody dies, nobody is killed, nobody is born. It's all a dream.” And they'll probably shoot you for saying that! 

Makes no difference if they shoot you! You're aware that you're dreaming, so you're the witness of you being shot, and you keep laughing. 

And then you wake up." 
~ Robert Adams 


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Circus Train's Last Car―Fiction

The train arrived in town approximately the same time every year. Everyone in town knew that it would be there soon and day by day, one could feel the excitement building. When the circus was about a week away, posters with pictures of the train, the circus tent, and the entertainment midway began showing up on electric poles all around town. The circus was coming to town and being a small town, there usually was not much happening to excite its residents.

The most important part of the circus was the last car on the train. Yes, the circus train itself was of importance but after unloading the tent, bleachers, equipment, ticket and office cabins, food and souvenir booths, and providing housing for the performing artists and circus staff, the last car of the train was unhooked, the rest of the train moved a little way off, and the last car of the train provided a center around which the midway was staged.

The last car on the train was a hybrid attraction. It provided a calm, smoother experience for the younger (or young at heart) circus goers and a more adventurous ride for the older (or those a little braver at heart) circus goers.

Around the base of the train flatbed car, a small version of the circus train itself rode around and around on its miniature set of tracks. The engine was steam-powered so it huffed and puffed as it carried its passengers around the perimeter of the flatbed train car and periodically announced itself with a loud steam generated whistle. The five passenger cars housed two riders in each brightly colored; all be them dinged, smudged, and slightly faded; box-shaped train-type cars.

Built over the miniature train ride, a roller coaster ride took its riders; as well in brightly colored all be them dinged, smudged, and slightly faded box-shaped train-type cars; up and over and around! While not all that high the ride took its passengers on a rickety, rackety, rockety, more dangerous feeling adventure. 

The tracks were suspended up in the air on girders which were brightly painted, each supporting a waving colorful flag and wrapped in twinkling lights, which made the ride quite attractive as the centerpiece of the circus midway. 

The coaster's loading platform was at the level of the steam engine miniature train but then carried its passengers up to the highest point on the ride in a ratchet, ratchet, ratchet way as the cars were pulled to the top by a noisy gas-driven motor. Once at the highest point of the coaster, the steep decline which came next and, gravity carried the cars through to the end of the thrilling adventure.

The flatbed had a colorful banner announcing "Michael's Circus", flying even higher over the roller coaster and loudspeakers mounted on each corner of the base of the car. While on the midway, in between circus performances, calliope music was played loudly to add to the joy of the visitors.

An added feature of the last car on the train, and an added benefit, is that it did not need to be assembled when the train arrived in town or be taken down at the end of a run. So as the train pulled out of town and moved on, arriving at the next town, it served as an eye-catcher; and traveling signpost to say goodbye to one town and to announce that the circus was coming their way at the next. 

Now that you have this image of the circus train and its last car in your mind, watch for it in a dream coming your way soon. That is how it arrived for me at my destination!

PS: The photo above is of a wooden circus made in Germany. Gregory had this same circus given to him when he was nine years old (1957) by his parents on their return from a trip to Europe. The circus is now on display at Michael's Museum: A Curious Collection of Tiny Treasures, a permanent exhibit since 2011 at Chicago Children's Museum on Navy Pier.



Monday, September 28, 2020

Happy Anniversary Mo and John

September 28


Happy Anniversary Mo and John

And then the rain stopped
And the joy began
And the deer appeared
And the rain began again

Fond memories of so long ago 
Pre Gabe, Grace, and Amelia years
Pre Gregory slowly leaving us and RIP
Pre COVID 19 and quarantines and masks

Ups and downs, births and deaths
All the love that arrived as needed
All the caring that supported us
Wouldn’t have changed a thing

Because each step of the way
Brought us closer to today
And wishes for many more
Joyful, loved filled, caring times

Love you guys so much
And that has not diminished
Over the years and through
The trials and tribulations

Happy Anniversary to you both
Honored to have shared the years
With you and yours across the land 
Love Michael (and Gregory spiritually!) 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

A Reply to Kate



My friend Kate Swaffer, living "as well as she can with Dementia" in Adelaide, Australia, and being one of the fiercest advocates for Dementia/ Alzheimer's Disease whom I know, in a recent post in her blog, talked about her feelings of having failed to make a difference in her advocacy endeavors. 

Click here to read Kate's post. Opens in a new window.

I shared the following with her about some of the thinking her post caused in me last night as I tried drifting off (without ease) to sleep.

• • • • •

Dearest Kate, responding to: "As I think and write about the value of advocacy, I have come to believe that there are very few people who really benefit from it."

We may not have seen much change in attitude or support of people with Dementia and those who love those with Dementia, but thousands and thousands of people have BENEFITTED from your advocacy! 

Let me share what I will call HALF A DOZEN OF MY (boldfaced and underlined "MY" truths" (as I see them). 

PS After reading your post at bedtime, I spent several hours thinking about what you said, going over this in my mind, and coming up with these 1/2 Dozen Truths.

• • • • •

TRUTH ONE: Most people do not think or care about anything unless it directly affects their life or the life of their loved ones (and often the latter is less true!)

TRUTH TWO: Most people have a difficult if not impossible time dealing with a terminal illness, their own or their loved one. Cancer has a chance of "being beat," Dementia/ Alzheimer's DOES NOT. That makes it even more difficult to face.

TRUTH THREE: When an illness doesn't show itself physically, ie it is internal as in cancer, or a brain tumor, or depression: the outward expression of that disease is often looked at askance and can be called "faked." It can go unnoticed and unrecognized by those with the illness and those who love them. Its truth rejected by those affected and by those who love those affected.

TRUTH FOUR: Societal change moves at such a snail's pace that it is mostly unnoticeable to anyone who cares to watch. It can go on for generations and even then make little progress even though it is smoldering there in the dark. 

TRUTH FIVE: Sometimes an "explosion" of change occurs and suddenly the change we have been seeking seems to occur overnight (but really it has been fulminating over a long period of time.) Sometimes it seems like that change will never happen because there are so many other important changes that need attention and there seems only to be a finite amount of attention available!

Truth Number Six is the BIG one I took away from this post of your "Ineffective Dementia/ Alzheimer's Advocacy". 

TRUTH SIX: PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF ADVOCACY is to help those living with Dementia, and those loving those living with Dementia: be better able to understand the disease, deal with it, meet it head-on, avoid Prescribed Disengagement®, and live as high a quality of a life for the time left as possible. This is often accomplished on a one to one basis.

Whether you are the "advocator" or the "advocatee" the knowledge, understanding, techniques for dealing with, support in making changes as necessary, and unqualified love one person can have for another perhaps that is the best one can do and the best one can expect to do based on my first five truths!

As Teepa Snow says, "Until there is a cure, there is care!"

CAVEAT to MY TRUTHS: There are so many people living with Dementia/ Alzheimer's Disease who do not have close family, a partner, or friends and they are on their own at home, on the streets, or in a care facility. 

The same is true for the elderly and infirm. This part breaks my heart and needs attention. 

This brings the issue to a much higher, societal, global level in which we all need to take care of each other as fellow human beings and this is such a large issue that for sure the only hope is that each one of us does what we can for each other on a one to one to one basis. 

The stranger you help might be you one day!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Something to Think About


Taken from a friend's post. In order to defeat something, you must understand it. I encourage everyone to read this and understand it is many people's point of view. You may not agree with some of it or any of it. That is not the point. This is a very honest statement on those that back the President and what they feel and believe. Read and understand. 


If you are a liberal who can’t stand Trump, and cannot possibly fathom why conservatives would ever vote for him, let me finally fill you in.

It’s not that we love Donald Trump so much. It’s that we can’t stand you. And we will do whatever it takes — even if that means electing a rude, obnoxious, unpredictable, narcissist (your words-not ours) to the office of President of the United States — because the only thing we find more dangerous to this nation than Donald Trump, is you.

How is that possible you might ask? Well, you have done everything in your power to destroy our country, from tearing down the police, to tearing down our history, to tearing down our borders. You are systematically destroying our schools, and brainwashing our kids into believing socialism is the answer to anything (despite being an unmitigated failure everywhere), while demonizing religion and faith, and glorifying abortion, violence, and thug culture.

From calling us racists every time we expect everyone of any skin color to follow our laws equally, to telling us that our “tolerance” of lifestyles we don’t agree with isn’t nearly enough....no, we must “celebrate” any lifestyle choice or gender option (forget science) you throw our direction, or you think it’s fine to calls us homophobic or some other degrading slur — and ironically, all while lecturing us on hate speech. While you gaslight us about 52 genders, polyamory, grown men in dresses sharing public locker rooms with little girls, and normalize the sexualization of young children, you simultaneously ridicule us for having the audacity to wish someone a “Merry Christmas” or hang a flag on the 4th of July, stand for the national anthem, or (horror of horrors) don a MAGA hat in public. So much for your “tolerance.” Do you see why we think you are hypocrites??

We’re also not interested in the fact that you think you can unilaterally decide that 250 years of the right-to-bear-arms against a tyrannical or ineffective government should be abolished because you can’t get the violence in the cities you manage under control. Free-speech should be tossed out the window, history erased, and those who disagree with your opinions, are fair game for public harassment or doxing. Spoiled children with nose-rings and tats who still live off their parent’s dime should be allowed to destroy cities and peoples livelihoods without repercussions. That chaos, and lawlessness, and disrespect for authority should be the norm. This is your agenda. And you wonder why we find you more dangerous than Donald Trump?

Your narrative is a constant drone of oppressor/oppressed race-baiting intended to divide the country in as many ways as you possibly can. You love to sell “victim-hood” to people of color every chance you get because it’s such an easy sell, compared to actually teaching people to stand on their own two feet and take personal responsibility for their own lives, their own communities and their own futures. But, you won’t do that. You will never do that, because then you will lose control over people of color. They might actually start thinking for themselves, God forbid!

This is why we will vote for Donald Trump.It is not because he is the most charming character on the block, nor because he is the most polite politician to have ever graced the oval office. It is not because he is the most palatable choice, not that we love his moral character or because he never lies. It is because we are sick to death of you, and all of the destructive crap you are doing to this once beautiful and relatively safe country. Your ineffective and completely dysfunctional liberal “leadership”(?) has literally destroyed our most beautiful cities, our public education system, and done it’s damndest to rip faith out of people’s lives.

However bad Donald Trump may be (and he is far from perfect), every day we look at you, and feel that no matter what Donald Trump says or does, there is no possible way he could be any worse for our country than you people are.

We are sick to death of your stupid, destructive, ignorant, and intolerant behavior and beliefs — parading as “wokeness.” We are beyond sick of your hypocrisy and B.S. 
We are fed up with your disrespectful divisiveness and constant unrelenting harping and whining and complaining (while you live in the most privileged nation in the world), while making literally zero contributions of anything positive to our society. Your entire focus is on ripping things down, never ever building anything up. Think about that as there is something fundamentally very wrong in the psychology of people who choose destruction as their primary modus operandi.

If Donald J Trump is reelected, rather than blame us, look in the mirror, and blame yourselves. Because, you are the ones that are responsible for the rise of Donald Trump. You are the ones who have created this monster that you so despise, by your very actions, your refusal to respect your fellow Americans, and the things that are important to us.

You have made fun of the “fly-over states,” the people who “cling to their guns and religion,” the middle class factory workers and coal miners and underprivileged rural populations that you dismissively call “yahoos” and “deplorables.” You have mocked our faith and our religion. You have mocked our values and our patriotism. You have trampled our flag and insulted our veterans and treated our first responders with contempt and hatred.

You have made environmentalism your religion, while trashing every city you have taken responsibility for. You scream from the rooftops about “global warming” and a “green new deal” while allowing tens of thousands of homeless people to cover your streets in literal sh*t, garbage, needles and plastic waste without doing a single thing to help them solve the environmental crisis that your failed social policies are creating. But we’re supposed to put YOU in charge of the environment while gutting our entire economy to institute this plan when you can’t even clean up a single city?? You complain — endlessly — yet have failed to solve a single social problem anywhere. In fact, all you have done is create more of them.

We’ve had enough. We are tired of quietly sitting by and being the “silent” majority. So don’t be surprised when the day comes when we finally respond. And trust me it’s coming, sooner than you might think. And also trust me when I say it won’t be pretty. Get ready.

If Donald Trump is reelected, it will be because you and your “comrades” have chosen to trash the police, harass law-abiding citizens, and go on rampages destroying public property that we have all paid for and you have zero respect for.

If Donald Trump is reelected it will be because we are sick of your complete and utter nonsense and destruction. How does it feel to know that half of this country finds you FAR more despicable than Donald J. Trump, the man you consider to be the anti-Christ? Let that sink in. We consider you to be more despicable, more dangerous, more stupid, and more narcissistic than Donald Trump. Maybe allow yourself a few seconds of self-reflection to let that sink in. This election isn’t about Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden. This is about Donald Trump vs. YOU.

So, if on the morning of November 4 (or more likely December 29 by the time the Supreme Court will weigh in on the mail-in ballot fiasco we are headed towards) if Donald J. Trump is reelected, the only people you have to blame is the left-wing media drones and yourselves. You did this. Yep, you!"

Time to walk away! 

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