49. To Tell The Truth

September 17, 2020

In a few days I will send out the email book-launch announcement about my book, Victory Is My Name, a Memoir. The introduction says, “This  book will not be everybody’s cup of tea.”

Everyone who loves to read has a favorite flavor and brew. Maybe it’s romance novels with passion, sex, and reliable happy endings. Or Sci-Fi, that transports us to another place with different possibilities than this messed-up world we’ve let build up around us on planet Earth. Or detective mysteries– I do love British period-mysteries like Agatha Christie’s Inspector Poirot. I enjoy trying to guess who-done-it, knowing that the odd little man will always figure it out. For others, maybe it’s “Thrillers.” They sell like hotcakes. Or murder tales of Blood and guts galore. (No thanks, not my cup of tea.)

This book is not about any of that. Not a beach-book, not a tell-all, not entertainment. This story, at risk of failing to win the approval of a great many readers, is about telling the truth. It’s about making mistakes, and doing the best you can with what you get. Life is not an even playing field. It’s not always fair. But my granny told me “Life never gives us more than we can bear” and because I was innocent enough to believe that, in my life ahead, I did do more than anyone else thought possible.

It must be said that every novel carries some essential truths at its core, but memoir is the only genre that is obligated, expected, and pledged, to tell the truth. I don’t write fiction, mostly because I have never needed to. Real life is constantly exploding with stories to be told and shared. We all, as human beings, learn about life, in the long run, from life. Our own and each other’s. But these are the true stories about real life that we as a social species, are usually constrained not to tell.

But I say, Why not tell the truth? You can’t please everybody anyway. Trust me, I tried for the first 26 years of my life. It never worked. I did that while trying to hide and protect myself, so people wouldn’t hurt me. They hurt me anyway. (But that’s another story…)

Fair warning: If you read my book, you may be offended, annoyed, even angry with this person, the storyteller/protagonists/myself, for being so naive, and so stupid. Or you might cry real tears when she makes the same mistakes you did. But you will likely also be inspired some too, and heartened by her courage, and her large and small victories that defied the odds and proved in the end a truth beyond dispute: girls can.

In the last decade or so, memoir has become recognized as a serious literary genre that can take many different creative forms. Since books like Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life and Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club, and Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, authentic well-written memoirs are drawing a new crowd of readers who are willing and even hungry for the truth.

Like myself, Author McCourt became a writer late in life. He wrote a different kind of memoir, and when he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Literature, he said, “All I had was this story. It took me two years and all my life to write it.” I understand exactly what he meant.

I believe the world is ready for truth, and tragically acutely in need of it. We are in the grip of a humanity-wide need for a different choice from the lies we are drowning in now. Humanity is getting many urgent wake up calls from the techno-sleep we have fallen into. A clear un-distorted, un-photo-shopped window to actual reality, and real life, must open.

Many of us, like lemmings that have already gone off the cliff, are swimming in an ocean of confusion, longing for something we can hold onto. something we can believe in. Most of us have a disturbingly deep need to get our feet on the ground again, like back in the day when ethics were clear, when we knew what mattered, and we knew what was what. We had been introduced into what life was supposed to be by real live people, parents, or early schoolteachers. Now most children of the last generation were socialized by the ethics of video murder-games, casually committing murders and mass-murders mentally six or more hours a day, starting a age five. This was presented as “normal.” And we are seeing the harvest of that on the Breaking News. These are tomorrow’s leaders, but some of them, we can dare to hope, are today’s readers.

I was fortunate to grow up in the 50’s, when things were simpler, and Presidents, businesses, and ordinary people had values and decency. Those days are gone. We need to start where we are, and meet each other honestly for the first time. Tell the truth about what life is, and how it matters. That’s what Victory is about.

This will probably be called a “women’s book,” though its truths apply to all of us who struggle to fit Who We Are into What The World Expects/ demands from us. In Victory there are painfully honest truths that apply to all genders, about the imperfection of human beings, personal courage, the value of mistakes, the inner spark of sacredness, and the flickering but undying pilot-light of faith.

Victory Is My Name, a Memoir
Book One: The Burning Barrel
$4.95  E-BOOK 978-0-9841730-4-4
$15.95  PAPERBACK 978-0-9841730-9-9
The E-Book is available now,
the paperback will be available Oct.1, 2020
from online or brick & mortar bookstores.
More information, Publisher’s Page & Sampler

50. Learning From The Pandemic Year

March 20, 2021

The thing that stands out most, is that most things are not as much fun to do by yourself. Without other people, nothing really matters much. We are herding-animals at our most basic level, and we don’t do well alone, apart from our pack, our herd, our flock, our tribe. Even those of us who enjoy our private time, need a dose of some together time too.

I worked in ER for 20 years, shoulder to shoulder with brilliant people who were dedicated and compassionate caregivers. We got to help people, which felt good for us. When I retired in 2010, I lost that, and I had to learn to manage with a much smaller “family” of friends. Then the coronavirus came, and suddenly without warning, it separated millions of us from each other, all over the world.

If there is one simple and truly profound thing I’ve learned from this, and I think many of us have learned, it’s about the value being together with other human beings. People who never really thought about it before, now are really wanting so much just to hug their Dad, their Mom, or their Gramma. Or go to a bar or a bowling alley, and just be immersed in the sights and sounds and fascinating life of our species.

Even though it’s probably true that the most common causes of all our conflicts and problems is each other, it’s also true that we are life’s most precious gift to each other. Without each other, we are amoeba floating in a cosmic petri dish. Things don’t matter much. We are static, inert, unable to grow. We don’t care.

This worldwide tragedy has forced us to notice the value of each other. And the unaccustomed solitude, when the ground as we knew it dropped out from under us, has given us not only the opportunity but the necessity to turn within, and think some thoughts about life itself, that we never needed to slow down for, before. To think about what really matters to us. Now, every human being has been stopped and slowed down by an inescapable terrifying danger: the possibility that life might actually suddenly end for us, or for some people we care about. And so the primary issues come up with a new urgency, along with the ancient questions.

Who am really? And why am I here? Why are any of us here? The universe is so huge, and this planet Earth is so incredibly tiny in it, how can we even matter at all? And who or what do we matter to? Is there a God we can talk to? Or is there a judging grandfather in the sky? Or is God really just an unimaginably immense Great Consciousness who knows how to do all the math to create all of this, and us? 

Those of us who are here now will probably not find the answers in his lifetime. And if we as a species don’t change our direction and commitment to honest concern and respect for each other and the planet, there there may not be many more generations to learn how. The plague years will finally pass someday, as others have done, and when we are together again, I hope we will talk about some things, seek to know what really matters, put aside what really doesn’t, and ask these questions together.

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If you are finding some questions drifting around in your mind, you may find Barbara Marx Hubbard’s work in Conscious Evolution fascinating, illuminating, and rather reassuring. Author, speaker, co-founder and president of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution, Hubbard posits that humanity is on the threshold of a quantum leap, if emerging humanity chooses to integrate the scientific, social, and spiritual capacities we now have, to address global crises.

48. Shelter in Grace

April 19, 2020

There is a global shift going on. It’s been coming for thousands of years, and here it is. There were other world-changing shifts, like World War I and World War  II.  Times when all of us were forced to make hard choices about who and what we wanted to be as a human species. Worldwide tragedy, loss and suffering drew us closer together, heart by heart, in spite of everything. Now, that closeness is harder, but we have come too far to abandon ourselves or each other.

Our stories have created our world. What will our new narrative be? Will we still be blind-sided by techno-toy video images and “virtual” (but not real) worlds in which mass murder is casual and violence is what everybody naturally does? We have allowed some terrible things to happen. Human societies and systems worldwide are crashing and falling apart. We are now being given an incredible opportunity to rebuild our world in a a better way, a world that works for everybody, not just a few. Now as you shelter in your quiet place, there is time and space to think about it.

We will have to choose very soon, and the outcome is up to us who are not fooled, not asleep, and not hypnotized by the loud, rude, false, cheap-shot Tump propaganda we are now struggling to get thru. Wake up, get up, and get out of the quicksand of the “not me” delusion. You are making a difference one way or the other, whether you know it or not. Please know it, and choose what you want. Don’t let your world be just somebody else’s default.

47. “Now is the time, and we are the ones”

April 10, 2020

Something is happening in the universe. There’s more to this than surviving the pandemic.  I won’t propose any magic-crystal woo-hoo miracles, just common sense and principles of the cosmos. I’ll share some notes I scribbled from a Sunday service (via Zoom now.)  The speaker is Rev. Joan Steadman, the congregation is one of many new thought churches, Agape Bay Area. Her talk addressed the awesome reality of the catastrophes in our world, the pandemic and others, that humanity, is now suffering the agony of.

“The comfortable normal has been stripped away suddenly, and now an immense life energy is being released and seeking form. What will we choose to do with it?

“The field is fallow now, ripe for cultivation. Change will come, either through revolution or evolution. We make peace with it by our faith and practice. Things will never be the same after this. We have a choice now— what direction are we going to go?”

“What kind of energy do we choose to grow? Rage and greed? Hatred and revenge? Or  kindness and patience, and a general standard of decency and fairness as the primary way of life on our planet? What about those things our grandparents so courageously fought and died to give us– like democracy, honesty, decency?”

In the last 2 days I’ve gotten 34 scam emails offering to sell me face-masks! Is this who we are? Careless, remorseless greedy cheats and liars? Yes, a whole lot of us are, and frankly, most of us who do care, just turn our heads. Meanwhile they and our so-called “president” scramble to  make money, pushing thru shady deals to set up offshore oil-drilling and illegal political power-grabs while we are all focused on the global human catastrophe. He is busy turning the distraction of the pandemic into an opportunity to underhandedly grab  more power and income for himself. Have we already forgotten, that’s exactly how Nazi Germany happened? Most of the people went along for a while, they let it go, or looked away, and then it was too late, and 6 million innocent people were murdered in the most horrible ways in human history.

“We have choice, and the power to change, and the time is now.” Rev. Joan said. “The time is here, and you and I are here to make a difference. It begins on the inside of each of us and influences the conscious universe.”

“Stay firm in the truth: We are one family of God. To abandon the truth in the hour of greatest need is to prove that we do not know the truth.”

We do know the truth, but for circumstantial reasons we have too often denied, rejected, or just looked away from some realities we didn’t want to see, the “official”  lies, power grabs, and insatiable greed for power and money. We have always let these things take over the rest of the world. It wasn’t our fault, we were too busy to be aware. It was just benign neglect. Most of us didn’t want a world order of violence and death. Now, it’s our own country too. We are in an irrefutable crisis of change, just like World War I and WW II, hard decisions will have to be made. Everything hangs in the balance. What will we choose?

Reality is exploding in our faces. Not just in the pandemic, but in the “New Great America,” the lie that we have allowed it to take over, crush democracy in every form, and become our first  brutal dictator. He has shown the world his utter disregard for humanity, and his unimaginable incompetence. He cancelled our pandemic-preparedness program set up by Obama and funded by Congress, and he used the money for something else that he personally wanted. (His Mexican Glory-to-Trump monument wall?) The people of America never mattered to him. No human beings mater to him. In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, he singlehandedly cut off all U.S. funding help to the World Health Organization! He claims they didn’t tell him about the pandemic! The woking class people here are the millions he now wreaks revenge upon, because we did not elect him. He lost by 3 million of our votes. (Did you know that 7 of the last 8 Republican presidents all lost their elections, but took office anyway?)

KQED (community-supported educational channel)  “Hitler promised the people everything they needed. They were mesmerized by his violent loud rhetoric, endlessly repeated simple lies, pounding them into the people’s minds.” ”Simple answers for complicated problems, he promised he could end all problems, and soon!” Undeniably exactly the same style and technique of Donald Trump. 

We never thought it could happen here, but it has happened. We have a lawless, unprincipled, unscrupulous, dishonorable, dishonest brutal dictator like so many poorer countries. Our democracy has been stolen, piece by piece. Turns out, we are not separate from the world, richer-than, better-than, more powerful-than. We are humanity too, and we have failed each other.

I have often called the human species God’s most interesting but most risky experiment. We have been given free-will and the ability and power to create and control our world. We made this mess, and now we are drowning in it. Only we can change it, and the time for stalling is over. Like my Granny would say, “Pray, but row for shore.”

It all hangs in the balance now. What will we choose? Think carefully. Wake up your mind and spirit, and be aware. This is not just a worldwide disaster, but a species-wide existential crisis. What you feel, and do, and think about, what you give harbor to in your consciousness, that’s what will create whatever comes next.

Be brave. Dare to claim what your heart knows is right, and make that the foundation of your faith, your words, and your actions in the world, even the small ones. It matters, and you matter much more than you  know.

46. Rain

December 2, 2019

It’s chilly this morning. A soft rain is falling, almost a mist, barely disturbing the surface of the puddles. The blessing of it is that there will be no new raging wildfires today like the ones that have ravaged California all year.

There’s a close and comforting quality about rainy days, as if winter has finally turned the calendar page and now we warm-blooded creatures have taken our refuge indoors, those of us who are blessed to have a refuge in the warm dry lovely safety of indoors.

I try to let go of my sadness, for a little while, for the others who don’t have this, the homeless who are camped not far away on the other side of the park. The little village there has grown to about 40 tents and makeshift shanties now, right next to the sidewalk on Broadway, across the street from the massive multi-million-dollar Kaiser Hospital’s newest and biggest complex. I think the money they spend on toilet paper every month would probably feed these people for year. But that’s not the way corporations work, and Kaiser is still calling itself “not-for-profit” and so paying no taxes on its millions.

But the homeless somehow bravely soldier-on, camped right in the faces of the millionaires and other strangers passing by in their cars, hurrying to their business and their lives. Right there on this arterial street, right next to the sidewalk, where the world cannot help but see them and be forced to think about how wrong this is.