on Uncertainty

Are you aware that men almost never make eye contact with each other, unless they are in a social setting?

Why not?

Well, to us men it is simply way too overt an aggressive act as direct eye contact between men is an outright challenge.

This is one of my longer and more penetrating posts, however if you have the time please struggle on through.

Are the above statements my opinion, or are they verifiable facts?  They are neither, they’re assertions of something I believe is self-evident.  That is what my blog, my tweets, and my book[s] are about.  They are about Truths as I see them.  Contrary truths, truths others might not see, yet they are all truths to me –  like the tag line of my website says, what I offer is “Another View, of True ©“.  Although it seems to contradict my previous sentence, something interesting about truth is how for something to be true it must be true for everyone, everywhere, all the time.  Doesn’t that mean Truth can’t be contradictory?  No, it doesn’t mean that at all.  It means that truth is modified by perception.  Something else about truth is that it must still be perceived to be true when investigated with an open heart and mind.  I’m going to try and do that, but first let me set context by using an excerpt from the second book in my work, “Malmaxa“. What is Malmaxa? Its an obscure tome in a genre that doesn’t exist, a genre I have labeled Philosophy, couched as Fantasy.

Ryntam immediately countered, “Many listen, few hear, and even less understand.  The truth in this matter… discern it.”
Jalgar noted the imperative in his child’s voice and smiled.  A heartbeat and a pace before he spoke, “You ask that I discern the truth in the matter of the Chundrah.  I shall attempt it.”
Ryntam knew full well she had demanded, not asked.  She glanced at her father.  The levity of his tone fortified his words, which clearly showed he would not bow to her simply because of her blue Chukrah.
Jalgar spoke unhurriedly, “To the Elder, the Chundrah is heavy.  To you, it is light.”  He deliberately rephrased her words, ensuring she knew he grasped their meaning.  After a pause for emphasis he continued, “These truths expose a quandary.  How can two things seemingly opposite, both be truth?  Is truth not absolute?”
Thoroughly enjoying her father’s reasoning, Ryntam pursed her lips as she nodded slowly.  In consideration, not in agreement…
Jalgar continued in the same measured tone, “Can there be only a single truth in this matter?  If so… is one perception a lie?”
Ryntam chuckled in delight before nodding to acknowledge he had fulfilled her request.  After a few paces, she murmured, “Perception, indeed.  Perception modifies truth.”  Another quiet chuckle, “Yet there is another matter which troubles me, Father.  We agree that to the Elder, the Chundrah is heavy.”
Jalgar agreed, “Yes, that is the Elder’s truth.”

Now, back to the investigation of my opening assertion.

We should never take anything at face value, and we should never take anything for granted.  This is especially true of the things we are not permitted to question.  After all, if something cannot withstand even rudimentary questioning then it simply cannot be true.

I asserted that men almost never make eye contact with each other, unless they are in a social setting.  If you question this, which you should, then verify it by watching the behavior of men outside a social setting.  How often do you see two men who don’t know each other look directly at each other?

Women will find this exercise easy.  Men won’t.  If you’re a man, I think you’ll find it quite difficult since it entails you being covertly aggressive toward men you don’t know – men who will be aggressive toward you if they notice you’re watching them.  Of course the ultimate, though extremely foolhardy test of voracity for men would be to actually do it yourself.  How?  Walk down a street in which you don’t know anyone and stare at every man you see.  Actually… don’t do it.  Why?  Because whether verbally, physically, or by a third party, you will be assaulted – but you men already knew that didn’t you?

Like so many truths we investigate, this brings us to another interesting question to ponder.  Why do men feel challenged when other men look at them?

Could it be a left over genetic prerogative from caveman days?  At first glance that seems like a reasonable assumption.  However cavemen wandered around in social groups, so the assertion doesn’t apply.  Did they attack and kill any other groups whose menfolk looked at them?  Though that is a romantic notion all too often promulgated by fantasy, I seriously doubt it.  Why?  Because if they had we wouldn’t exist today, we’d have died out from lack of genetic diversity. {Another assertion to question, but I’m afraid you’ll have to investigate it on your own :)}  However, I don’t doubt bloodshed ensued when a group of cavemen encountered another humanoid group they perceived as different from themselves.

And there it is…  Wait…?  What…?

Uncertainty of course!  We have a very powerful distrust of people we perceive to be different than ourselves.  Men, the defenders of their womenfolk from the attentions of other men, are much more prone to this uncertain distrust.  I’m very confident we’re hardwired to react aggressively to any perceived threat – like many other animals I think our instincts insist it is better to be safe than it is to be dead.  So we immediately prepare something I’d like to think of as heightened preemptive awareness.  Unfortunately this state is also pretty aggressive and pretty irrational, of which neither emotion is pretty at all.

Irrational people are easily manipulated.  {File that thought for later consideration.}

People who are distinguishably different make us uncertain.  When we are uncertain we feel unsure.  When we’re unsure we don’t feel safe.  When we don’t feel safe we feel afraid.  When we feel afraid we act irrationally.  When we act irrationally people get hurt.  We can’t help ourselves.   Please don’t accept any of this, question it all.  You deserve to discover your truths for yourself, and I believe the only way anyone ever manages that feat is by investigating and questioning everything – including and especially themselves.

We can’t help ourselves…  Did I say that?  Did you believe it?  I really hope you didn’t.  You see, the truth is that we can help ourselves.  Yes, we are genetically encoded to feel certain things in certain circumstances.  That is an inescapable fact sometimes referred to as a biological, or genetic imperative.  I believe one of those feelings causes uncertainty when we encounter something we don’t recognize, something like people who seem completely different to us.  But what I believe doesn’t matter.  What you believe matters.   But how do you know what to believe?  Easy.  By questioning until you’re completely satisfied you grasp the truth.

And the truth to me, is that we can help ourselves.  We can overcome our ingrained prejudices, regardless of whether their source is genetic, social, religious, cultural, national, or whatever.  We can overcome our uncertainty, along with everything that negative feeling leads to when left unfettered and uncontrolled.  However we can only do so if we’re willing to ask ourselves the hardest questions, and then keep on asking until we answer with our own personal and inescapable truth.  Until we answer, not until someone else gives us an answer.

What is the inescapable truth?  There isn’t one – there are many.   However the path to enlightenment begins with the first question to which we find our own personal and inescapable truth.

One of my inescapable truths is that although every human is unique, fundamentally we’re all the same.  We are all genetically compatible.  Any fertile, gender diverse pair of humans from anywhere across the entire Earth can mate and engender a child.  Try as hard as you like, for as long as you like – you will be unable to disprove this.  It is an inescapable truth.  We. Are. All. The. Same.  Surely there is more to humanity than mere genetics?  Of course there is, feelings and emotions are at the root of how how we define ourselves as “human”.  But that doesn’t matter – we’re still the same!  We all love, hope, hurt, and fear.  There isn’t one of us anywhere, any time, who doesn’t.

Unfortunately there are powerful people who profit from uncertainty, and it is precisely those people who control the media, the governments, and the corporations that treat people like commodities to be bought, used, exploited, sold, and discarded.  But for people to be controlled it is necessary to fill them with uncertainty, along with all the negative emotions uncertainty brings along as baggage.  I believe this is why those powerful people cast seeds of uncertainty through the constant assertion they are different from us!  Those power mongers lie.  There is no us versus them, there is only humanity and we are all the same.  Dig deep in your heart and you’ll find this is inescapably true – fundamentally, we’re all human.

The power mongers tell us we’re different to make us feel uncertain of who we truly are.

Oh, to be wise enough to know which parts of us are us, right down to our core, and which parts of us are built on patterns other draw…

Take away all the lies, misdirection, and hysteria and deep inside yourself you’ll find you’re human, just like all the rest of us.

When next you feel uncertain ask yourself if that is really you who feels afraid, or if fear is a feeling you’ve been taught to hold.  That man whose eyes you won’t meet, for fear he is different to you?  Look deep enough into our shared collective past and you’ll find your truths, and your truths will set you free.  One of my truths is that the man who I’m afraid to really look at is a brother from a long distant past, all I need do is care enough to recognize him.

Now let me leave you with these thoughts, and hopefully a lot of other questions to explore…

Enlightened people constantly struggle with ingrained distrust, while the unenlightened spare distrust not even a single thought.  I wonder into which category of person you think you fall?

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on Change

No matter who you are, you won’t enjoy this post.

What is it about?  It’s about a world changing for the worse, it’s about the abject failure of the US political system, and most important of all, it is about a turning point for humanity.

My youngest daughter, Julia, asked me, “Why bother writing it if all it will do is make people angry?”  A guiding principle in my life precludes me from remaining silent the way far far too many of us will and are already doing, “All it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.”  I already have a terrible struggle believing I am a good man.  Indeed, that statement isn’t quite true.  I know I am not a good man and I have a terrible struggle keeping guilt at bay.  That is how it should be.  We should not receive a free pass from our conscience, for if we did then what purpose would our conscience serve?

Divided we conquer, united we fall.  No, I didn’t make a typo, that is the way the political “elite” play with the minds of the electorate.  Those in power and those struggling to get into power know the best way to stay or get there is to divide the voters.  When we are divided, they conquer. When we are united, they fall.  They divided us, and they have won again.

We recently elected an example of all the most despicable traits humanity possess rolled into a vile ball that goes by the name of Donald Trump.  Only we didn’t – the Electoral College did that.  The majority of Americans, myself included, did not vote for Donald Trump.  Trump lost the democratic vote by around 2.9 million votes.  Trump lost, but he is going to assume the role of President of the United States anyway.

Is this democracy?  No, it is not.

Ask yourself how it is that some people’s votes are worth less than others?  How is it that where we live determines how much influence our vote has?  I wonder if anyone else sees the similarity between this abominable fact and the early days of the US Constitution, in which certain people were counted as only three-fifths of other people?

Let me be clear.  I did not vote for Hillary Clinton, I voted against Donald Trump.  Like the vast majority of Americans I am sick of the “politics as usual” spew both political parties ram down our throats.  I am tired of the divisive nonsense that rears its ugly head every election year.  Was I enamored with Hillary Clinton?  Not by a long chalk.  However from virtually the first time I saw him on television I have been utterly appalled by the nasty little man who will now assume the role of President of the United States of America.  In my personal life I don’t tolerate erratic vacillating liars, braggarts, racists, sexists, bullies, or bigots – and as evidenced by the spew that constantly issues from his own mouth Donald Trump is all of those, and worse.

How about Hillary Clinton?  Let me put it this way.  I read a lot of propaganda that alienated me against her {it now turns out a significant portion of that propaganda originated from Russia}.  However every time I saw her on television I saw a consistently thoughtful, considerate and polite person, with whom I often did not agree.  To me it soon became obvious that the “evidence” against Clinton was allegation, misdirection, and blatant propaganda.  I ultimately realized there is an enormous difference between hysterical allegations made by biased people, and evidence that pours out of a bigot’s mouth – ugly and plain enough for everyone to see.

Trump continues to condemn himself with the horrible, abhorrent things he says.

As for those of you who voted for this despicable monster?  You don’t get a pass.

You can’t brush your choice aside by saying, “I’m not like the small group of racists at Trumps rallies.”   You heard and saw Trump inciting racial, religious, and sexual bigotry multiple times, yet you still voted for him – therefore you are like them.

You can’t allege Trumps democratic loss by around 2.9 million votes is “Sour grapes from sore losers.”  Those are definitive votes cast by people who should have an equal say in the election of their President, however they don’t.  If you say those votes shouldn’t count equally, then you have abandoned the guiding principle of democracy.

You can’t allege “voter fraud“, because if such a thing truly exists then logic asserts that as much of said voter fraud will exist on both sides of the political divide.

Let me me ask you some simple questions.  Would you leave someone like Donald Trump alone with your wife or your female friend?  What would you do if you discovered your boss habitually sexually assaulted your fellow workers, while blowing off  his behavior as “locker-room talk“?  Would you stand by and do nothing as a vindictive bully attacked people and principals you respect?  Would you want someone like Donald Trump for a friend?

I think your answers to those questions say an enormous amount about your character.  I wonder if you’ll still be able to convince yourself you’re a good person when you realize you voted for the precise opposite of a morally decent one?  I wonder if you’ll be able to open your mind enough to realize what you have done, and where it leads not only the United States, but the entire world.  I wonder.

Does Donald Trump deserve a chance?  Since he has already squandered multiple chances, he does not.

Remember, all it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.  Staying silent about Donald Trump’s abhorrent behavior, is doing nothing.

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a new lease

As promised, one of my personal favorite excerpts from Beltamar’s War follows this post.  It’s from a section titled “Of Dragon, and Eternity”.  Things are not as simple as they first seem.

Although my writing doesn’t pay the bills, it does sooth the soul.  Recently my soul has been in sore need of soothing, so I took up the paused editing of “Malmaxa II – The Pilgrimage” in earnest.  The fruit of my efforts is its re-release – links appear at the end of this post.

Four years of editing is a long time…  However that time has let me come back and experience my own writing as a reader might.  When did my writing get so sad?  It didn’t get sad, it has always provoked thoughtful sadness.  That is just the way it is.

Just the way it is…

That statement makes me reflect on what my writing actually is, which I’m going to share.  Since I can only speak for myself it might mean something completely different to you.  I’d love to hear what you have to say about it.

Malmaxa is published under the Fantasy Genre.  But is Malmaxa fantasy?  No, it isn’t.  So why did I publish it as Fantasy?  Because there isn’t a genre that fits what Malmaxa really is.   In a world that seems to demand conformity, Malmaxa simply doesn’t conform.  I’ve called the genre into which it might fit, “Philosophy, couched as Fantasy“.  However Malmaxa isn’t really even that.

So what is Malmaxa?

Malmaxa is a look at the nature of people.  It is an examination of motive.  It is an investigation into love.  It is a tale told by an alien soul.  It is a love story, a mystery, a tragedy, but more than anything Malmaxa is a work that tries to provoke introspection.  It is something that attempts to teach us about ourself, about why we are the way we are, about why we do the things we do, about why we embrace self-deceit, but above all those things Malmaxa is about why love is the meaning we’ll find in everything that truly matters to us.

A young author I respect wrote a review I really enjoyed reading, her name is Amira Makansi and her review of Beltamar’s War is here.  Amira described it as a book in which “Nothing really happens“.  I smiled.  You see, that description provoked a line from Malmaxa, “Perception modifies truth.”  In a way, Amira is right – in fact her review is spot on, she sees the questions the book raises and raises meaningful questions about what she sees.

In my opinion our society places inordinate value on action, a perception that has seeped into our thinking.  We’ve been taught to expect “things” to happen, if you’re looking for that sort of traditional action, you won’t find much of it in Malmaxa.

So, no action?  🙂 Another smile…

The vast majority of the action you’ll find in Malmaxa happens in the minds of the characters as they try to make sense of the behavior of other characters.  Indeed, if my writing works, you’ll spend a lot of your time in the heads of a lot of people, and you’ll be as confused as they are.  However you’ll be confused for an entirely different reason.  Why?  As the reader you’re privy to the thoughts of every character, you know what they’re all thinking.  Malmaxa’s characters aren’t, they are restricted to what they see and what they think, and worse, they are restricted by what they think they see.

In our minds is where we construct the world in which we live, and the world in which we live is different for us all.  I guess that is what my writing is really about.  The fictitious world of our private thoughts that are more real than the ground beneath our feet.

Where do you really live?  On the Earth?  Or in your mind?…

Where do you really dream?  In your bed?  Or in your heart?…

That is what Malmaxa is really about – the places we really live, and where we really dream.

Now, since I said I’d include one of my favorite parts of the first book in this post, here it is.  It is from a section titled “Of Dragons, and Eternity”.

۷۸۷۸۞۷۸۷۸

Of Dragons, and Eternity

TimeLine: Night, Freyjasday, 2nd sixday, 9th Luna, 3600.

Selene sat up and looked about curiously.  From the dim light and the overhead rock formations, she knew she must be in a cavern, but had no recollection of how she came to be here.

She felt nothing.

No heat, no cold, no breeze, just… nothing.

Vaguely concerned, she looked down at her legs.  They lay flat on the ground.  Lifting one, she let it fall.  It smacked into the stone floor with an audible, meaty smack but with no sensation of impact.  She stood up, disquiet increasing, clenched her fists, and looked at her hands.  Nothing unusual struck her, they were just… her hands.  With her right hand she took a fold of flesh on her left arm and pinched, hard.

Nothing.

Now thoroughly alarmed, Selene heard her heart thumping loud in her chest, yet she could not feel its beats.  Frantic, she glanced about.  Her mind, normally so disciplined, had become almost incoherent with fear.  In an attempt to calm herself she breathed deep.  She realized she could hear her breath, but not feel it.

Strangely, this knowledge soothed her.  She relaxed, hearing the muscles in her neck lose tension with slight, crackling pops as she rolled her head.  I can hear, but not feel.  What a strange way to live.

Another thought immediately followed.

It seemed somehow foreign, Live?  You do not live, prey.  You walk the pathway to Eternity.

The thought echoed, as though reflected back from the cavern’s walls.

Surprised, Selene thought, Why would I have thoughts…  I do not have? 

With an element of mimicry, the foreign thought responded, Why would I… converse with prey?

Hearing a scraping noise, Selene turned toward the sound.  An enormous form lumbered toward her.  Its golden eyes, split by the vertical slash of a pupil blacker than pitch, fixed upon her.  Its forked tongue flicked in and out as it sampled the air.  It seeks my scent!

Selene froze motionless in place as she thought, A Dragon!

The foreign presence responded, Dragon?  Does Dragon move, prey? 

Selene’s fear filled mind screamed, Yes!

The Dragon stopped.  The thought presence, again, Does Dragon move, prey?

Heart thumping.

No sensation of its beats, but heard, and loud, so loud the Dragon must surely hear.

Fearfully, lest Dragon hear her and attack, Selene whispered her thought, No…

The foreign thought, I… am Dragon.  You… are prey.

Selene’s knees buckled beneath her.  She sat with an audible thump.  Although her teeth clicked aloud from the jarring impact she perceived no pain.  Resigned to her fate, she looked directly at Dragon, It will kill me now.

The return thought came immediately, Kill you, why?

Selene’s surprised thought answered, To eat me!

Dragon responded, Eat you?  Why, when it grants no satisfaction?  I cannot taste your flesh, catch scent of your blood, or feel the joyous crunch of your flimsy bones breaking between my jaws.

Selene relaxed, This is just a dream.  I’m safe.

Dragon responded, You are wrong, yet you right.  This is no dream, prey.  You are already dead, as am I.  This is the Hallway to Eternity.  Yet you are indeed safe, for nothing can harm those who are already dead.

Again Selene asserted, This is a dream!

Thoughts whimsical, Dragon responded, Would that it was.  This is the path between the instant that is life, and the Eternity that is Death.  My mate and I spent our moment in life.  Preceding me into death, he traversed these halls before me.  I seek his scent, that I might share Eternity with my beloved.  Yet, I smell nothing.

The Dragons forked tongue flicked out, tasted the air, and retracted.

Though wordless and without coherent thought forms, an intensely emotive emanation issued from the Dragon.  It conveyed enormous sadness, along with deep distress.

Watching the Dragon’s actions, while perceiving its pain, brought Selene to pity, Poor thing, to be trapped in this strange dream with me.

Surprise sufficient to displace the distress immediately registered in the foreign thought.

A heartbeat of stillness.

A moment later Dragon’s thought came, Strange indeed… to be pitied by prey.  Do not pity me, prey, for I… am Dragon. 

Indignant anger flushed Selene’s cheeks, I am Selene, not prey! 

Surprise increased in Dragon’s thought, Prey… bear names?

Selene pointed to her mother’s mark with one stiff, angry finger, Yes!  We bear names!  I bear the marks of my family, all named.

The Dragon took two quick strides toward Selene.  Each pace would easily have covered five of Selene’s.

Involuntarily, Selene scooted back on the ground, fear immediately replacing her anger.

Dragon halted its approach.

A soothing thought, Fear not…  Selene.  I wish only to behold these… these much-loved marks.

Selene relaxed as best she could.

The Dragon approached, very close.  Tilting its head to the right, the massive beast turned to looked down at Selene through its left eye.  The vertical slit of its pupil contracted then widened slightly as the Dragon struggled to focus on Daniskira’s mark.

For several heartbeats, nothing.

Finally, Dragon’s thought came.

Thirihshhastra.

Confused, Selene formed the strange, sibilant word in her mind, Thirihshhastra?  I don’t know this word.  Yet, it is pleasing, and soothing both.  I would know what it means? 

An inexplicable thrill filled Selene.  She repeated the name in her mind several times before speaking it slowly, and aloud, “Thirrr eeeh ssshhh huhzz trahh.”  The way it rolled off her tongue proved even more joyous than its echo within her thoughts.

Surprised, Thirihshhastra thought, A sound, reminiscent of my name. 

Selene turned to look directly into the Dragon’s eye and thought the name as she vocalized its sound again, “Thirihshhastra.”

The expression within the enormous eye conveyed unmistakable amazement.

Thirihshhastra thought, Selene!  You have the gift of speech?

Filled with a joy she could not comprehend, Selene grinned broadly and vocalized her thoughts into joyous words, “Of course I can speak, Thirihshhastra!”

Thirihshhastra took two quick paces backwards, shock and dismay evident in her responding thought, The prey curses my name!

In an instant Horror erased Selene’s grin.

Selene snapped her mouth shut, and thought, No!  No!  I only spoke my thought aloud.  Sorry, Thirihshhastra, I am sorry.

Conflicting emotions filled Thirihshhastra’s emanation.  Anger, fear, suspicion, and most dominant, confusion.

After a few loud, unfelt heartbeats, Thirihshhastra’s thought came, While baring your teeth in attack, you made terrible sounds and uttered the likeness of my name.  What could this be, but a curse?

Selene quickly covered her mouth with her hand to hide her relieved smile.  She suppressed her desire to speak the words and thought them instead, I smiled with wonderful joy, and said the words rather than thinking them.  It was no curse, believe me. 

Thirihshhastra’s pensive thought, I am in your thoughts, Selene.  Thoughts cannot lie.

After a few heartbeats of hesitation, Thirihshhastra’s further thought came, After the joyous sound that was the semblance of my name… well, that such a horrific noise is your speech surprised me.  Adding to my confusion was your, ‘smile’. 

Puzzlement evident in Thirihshhastra’s emanation, she contemplated the strangeness of the tiny being before her.  After a few moments her further questioning thought came, Your kind bears its fangs in joy, not in readiness for attack?

Brow creasing in concern, Selene thought, I was happy so I smiled, nothing more.  If you are prepared…  I shall do so now.

A hesitation.

After a few moments, Thirihshhastra’s thought, I am prepared.

Selene uncovered her mouth, her smile erased by Thirihshhastra’s distress.  Gazing into the Dragon’s eye, Selene once more spoke her name, gently, “Thirihshhastra.”

The joy within the sound brought back Selene’s smile.

Thirihshhastra’s thoughts bore understanding, though she flinched at Selene’s smile.

After a moment’s hesitation Thirihshhastra again approached close to Selene, focused her eye on Daniskira’s mark, and thought, Selene, you say the marks of your family are all named.  What is the name of this mark?

Puzzled, Selene responded, All in my family are named and I wear their marks, with honor.  The mark you look upon is the symbol of my mother, Daniskira.

Comprehension filled Thirihshhastra’s thought, along with surprised pleasure, Daniskira?  A beautiful name, worthy of Dragon.  It rolls… like thunder in a distant storm.

After gazing at Daniskira’s mark for several heartbeats, Thirihshhastra lowered her eye, And what of this mark?

Selene checked where Thirihshhastra gazed before thinking, That is the symbol of my grandmother, my mother’s mother.  Her name is Zunesan.

Thirihshhastra backed up slightly.  Head still cocked to one side, she looked one-eyed at Selene, And where is your symbol, Selene?

Selene smiled at Thirihshhastra, who barely flinched this time.

After a brief pause Selene realized the Dragon was not joking.  She shook her head, I only get my mark when I am twelve cycles old, silly.

Thirihshhastra thought, When you are twelve cycles of cold?  How many cycles of cold are you now, Selene? 

Puzzled, Selene thought, Cycles old, cycles of cold?  Yes, from winter to winter is one cycle.  I gain my sixth marks on the morrow.  I will be six cycles of cold very soon, Thirihshhastra.

A veil fell over Thirihshhastra’s mind.  Though Selene perceived no discernible thoughts, tangible sadness emanated from the Dragon.

In order to distract herself from the Dragon’s distress Selene thought of Eden and their mischievous play together, Our grand adventure with the Segattoo blossoms.  How did that end?

Thirihshhastra interrupted Selene’s thoughts with her own, guarded and framed in careful forms so strongly reminiscent of decorum that Selene forgot about Eden as she concentrated on the Dragon’s thoughts.

The name of my mate is Hithrathra.  We have borne three progeny, Selene.  I will not name them, for they are still trapped in time’s flow and alive.

Knowing Thirihshhastra shared something important, but confused as to what it might be, Selene instead framed a polite thought in as decorous a fashion as she could.  Hithrathra, a beautiful name, and fitting for one so mighty as a Dragon.

The emanation of sadness from Thirihshhastra deepened, Hithrathra… would that I could taste his scent, one last time.  But it is not to be.  

Sympathy filled Selene, The memory of Hithrathra brings you great sadness.  That I provoke such thoughts fills me with regret.

Mind still cloaked with a guarding mist, Thirihshhastra looked into Selene’s eye, Though young, you are a powerful being, Selene.  Your every thought inspires.  It is not my thoughts of Hithrathra which sadden me, Selene… it is my thoughts of you.

Emotionally, physically, and spiritually, Selene slumped at this.

Thirihshhastra responded immediately, her wordless emanation gentle and filled with reassurance.

Still puzzled, but with her heart lightening at the Dragon’s emotional support, Selene thought, But I don’t want to make you sad, Thirihshhastra.

For a long while, the Dragon looked at the tiny, yet magnificent being before her.  Her thoughts remained guarded, and inaccessible.

When Thirihshhastra’s thoughts became perceptible once more, they were carefully composed and again filled with decorum, Selene, I would that you remember well what I shall impart.

Selene immediately straightened from her slumped position, indignant the Dragon thought it necessary to instruct her to pay close heed, I am listening!  Do you think that I might forget?

Thirihshhastra’s emanation contained humor, Very well.  You bring me great joy, Selene.  Strange… for until our meeting your kind was less than nothing to me.  It is not you, but my thoughts of you that so sorely trouble me.  I disclosed my name, secure in the knowledge you had departed time’s ever-flowing river and now sit on Eternity’s still bank, beyond life.  My mate’s name I imparted, perhaps foolishly, yet in hope that should you meet him herein you might remember me to him.  Hithrathra is slain, thus he is beyond mortal harm, and forever safe.  Careless as my disclosure may have been, it can bring him no ill.  However, you Selene… you walk these halls long before your rightful time ceases.  You should not be here, you are… you are but a pup.

Selene could not help but puff her chest out and sit up straighter, making herself larger than she was as she framed an indignant thought, I am no pup!  I am nearly sixth-marked!

Thirihshhastra’s thought came, filled with joyous mirth, And you deserve your sixth marks, Youngling.  And your own symbol, when that time comes.  Me?  Well I lost interest in counting my age when I matched Hithrathra, many long cycles past.

Selene instinctively attempted to console the Dragon by framing a reassuring thought, You are not old, Thirihshhastra.  My grandfather?  Now he is old!  His name is Jalgar.  She thrust her right shoulder forward and pointed to its second symbol, Were Jalgar my father’s father I would wear his mark here.  But Toppie is my mother’s father so I don’t wear his symbol, save within the confines of my heart.  Toppie becomes an Elder this Convocation…  Why, he will be thirty-six cycles old!  Oh… Zunesan will be as well, though she seems young compared to Toppie.

Thirihshhastra’s humorous pleasure was evident in her eye and in her thought, How strange, that your kind can bear two names.  Is one name not sufficient? 

Selene frowned, Toppie bears but one name, and that is Jalgar. 

Thirihshhastra’s massive eye twinkled, Yet you named him twice.

Selene’s frown deepened as she tried to understand the humor filling the Dragon’s emanation.

Thirihshhastra’s eye became serious as she considered what Selene’s puzzled aura imparted.  After a long pause for reflection she framed a question, Is one his true name?

Selene’s face reflected her confusion, His true name is Jalgar, but I cannot address him thus, least not till my twelfth marking.

Puzzlement formed within Thirihshhastra eye.  After a moment she pressed the matter, You wear his mark in your heart, though not in your flesh.  You named two names.  Though your mind shows the truth of your thoughts, which proclaim he is Jalgar, within your heart’s bounds, his true name is Toppie.  Is this boon in return for me naming my mate?

Utter confusion reigned in Selene’s mind as she struggled to wrap her mind about the thoughts just presented.  After a few heartbeats, she smiled in comprehension.  Taking care to cover her face with her hand, lest her broad grin distress the Dragon, she thought Perhaps, in some way.  Yes.  Toppie is our secret name for him, Eden’s and mine.  It is used and known only within our family.

Thirihshhastra leaned forward and gently rubbed Selene’s shoulder with her massive jaw.  Gratitude accompanied that tender touch, along with the thought, Your Toppie is but a pup to me as well, Selene.

After a few heartbeats of contemplation Thirihshhastra framed another thought, its tone once more replete with decorum, I ceased tallying my age with my first progeny, granted me in the cycle of my match to Hithrathra, at three hundred.  My youngest is over that age, long since.

Selene’s eyes grew wide.  For a moment she thought the Dragon jested with her, yet Thirihshhastra’s thoughts held only truth.

Thirihshhastra slowly backed away.  As she did she unveiled her thoughts completely, Selene, I would linger with you here.  We could watch the river’s flow and perceive the changes in its depth, together.  We might walk Eternity’s banks, traversing the future and all that is yet to come, for only time before we escaped its flow is denied us.  This would be an Eternity of joy fulfilled, for your every thought brings me delight.  Sadly, I fear another moment here is too long for you.  I grant you my memories.  From my birth to my demise.  When you are ready… seek them as though they are your own.

Selene felt nothing yet perceived a flow within her mind as her memories seemed to shuffle.  The puzzling contradiction of feeling an actual sensation within her mind thoroughly distracted her.

Thirihshhastra noted Selene’s distraction, Now…  I do what must be done, to undo what should not be.  I regret we part thus, Beloved, yet I can conceive no other way to turn you back from these halls.  Selene, hold my memories and our names unto you alone!  Farewell, Friend.

With the last word, Thirihshhastra’s demeanor changed in an instant to baleful rage.  Jaws wide, monstrous fangs exposed, the Dragon charged Selene with a primal, deafening, and terrifying roar issuing from her gaping maw.

Selene saw Thirihshhastra’s charge and knew it heralded death within the Dragon’s fearsome jaws.  Horrific comprehension filled her.  Terror overcame her.  Sudden warmth flooded her thighs.

The frightening image of Thirihshhastra enraged clouded within Selene’s mind as she fainted from fright.

۷۸۷۸۞۷۸۷۸

Here is a link to the free sample of Malmaxa I – Beltamar’s War.

Below are the links to Malmaxa II – The Pilgrimage.

The Pilgrimage

Amazon Kindle

The Pilgrimage

Paperback

If you you think my writing might be for you, please read them in sequence.

Thank you!

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on Our Soul’s Counsel

How can you not hear your soul?  Or, perhaps to you the question is “How can you hear your soul?”

In a way I don’t have an answer to either question, yet in another way, I have answers to both.

If you’re fortunate, then at some time in your life something will happen to encourage you to realize there’s a whole lot more to life than mere animated hunks of flesh lumbering about in search of their own hedonistic pleasures.  That moment is when you’ll realize you not only have a soul, but that your soul speaks to you.  If you make the connection and realization which follows it, then you will be fortunate indeed.

Why?  Because everything will change.

The need to claw your way to the top of the heap, regardless of who your talons touch, suddenly falls away.  I wonder if you have any concept of how liberating that is?  Sadly, the majority of people don’t.  How can I say that?  Look at the world and you’ll see… so many who think adornments worn on the flesh are more important than feelings that dwell in their hearts.  So many who think that things they hold in their hands are more important than those they hold in their heart.

At the time of writing this post I’m halfway through my fifty-sixth year.  I was fortunate enough to experience this about five years ago, and it did indeed change everything for me.  My old age is good news, since it means it might not be too late for you.

I’ve always tried to be understanding – I haven’t changed, I still try, but now I try harder.
I’ve always tried to be compassionate – I haven’t changed, I still try, but now I try a lot harder.
I’ve always tried to be tolerant – I haven’t changed, I still try, but now I try a whole lot harder.
I’ve always tried to be forgiving – I haven’t changed, I still try, but now I try so much harder.
I’ve always tried to be loving – I haven’t changed, I still try, but now I try to show it, where before I tried to hide it.

I didn’t really believe in souls, but then something happened and I realized the connection we humans have is simply not “normal”.  I think that is when I realized what a soul is, and how important they are to our overall well-being.  If you’re lucky, something will happen that makes you change.

Life is not an “accident”, it is something wonderfully mysterious, and it truly matters. All life, not just ours.  Please think about that.

I listen to mine soul now, and I can’t imagine what it would be like to live without its counsel.  I hope you hear yours, and that it changes your life as positively as hearing mine has changed mine.

Oh, and no.  This has nothing to do with religious dogma, as evidenced by the multitudes of the religious who blatantly flaunt their worldly wealth.  No, it has only to do with your soul.  I wonder?  Are you one of the fortunate?  Of course you are, yet which type of fortunate are you?

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on Life

No job is worth a life, yet in the USA more and more jobs demand precisely that.  Indeed, to me it seems likely many countries that have embraced capitalism as the basis of their social system make similar demands of their citizens.

Are these harsh words?  I don’t think they are, but they will certainly be unpopular.  Why?  Well, something that fascinates me is how fanatical capitalists are about the merits of their chosen system.  Sadly, that fanaticism reminds me of religious dogma.  Have you ever noticed how religiously indoctrinated people are incapable of questioning the most rudimentary inconsistencies of their religion?  Furthermore, they seem incapable of differentiating questions about the fundamental basis of their beliefs from attacks upon their deity and themselves.  Unfortunately, dogma is that powerful.

In the USA capitalism has become the most prevalent dogma.

Do you doubt me?  Let me illustrate my point by invoking a single word.  Socialism.  Socialism is bad, right?  Why?  Because it isn’t capitalism?  That is dogma – you’re not allowed to even consider alternatives.   When you have difficulty thinking about alternatives without feeling you’re somehow betraying your fundamental beliefs, you have been indoctrinated by dogma .  {I’m going to revisit this topic in future posts, count on that.)

But, for now, let me get back to the opening assertion in this post

I wonder how many lives have been shattered by the demands of unreasonable employers? I wonder how many people have sacrificed their families and/or their relationships for their jobs?  I suspect the number is vastly higher than is morally acceptable.

Am I making this stuff up?  Unfortunately I am not, I’m speaking from personal experience gathered over the last two decades.  Twenty years spent watching in horror as the quality of the life of everyone I know degrades.  It has been particularly bad recently.  How bad?  Well, in the twelve weeks preceding Thanksgiving, my hands down favorite holiday, I was home for seven days.  Total.  To be clear, that wasn’t a week of ease spent at home, that was a total of seven days spread out over several bits.  But it gets worse.  In the two weeks preceding Thanksgiving I worked 162.5 hours.  I didn’t have a choice my principals could let me live with, I had to do it.  And no – I didn’t do it for the overtime, I did it because my conscience would not let me let the customer down.

My job did that to me, but I will never let it do so again.

So I guess I’ll have to get a new job that allows me to live…  It is long past time.

Please don’t think I’m looking for your sympathy, I’m not. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but I do know that many of you have your own horror stories about what work has done to you or those you love.  So no, I’m not looking for your sympathy – I’m looking for your understanding.  Sadly, I suspect understanding might be even harder for you to grant.

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on Doing Well

There is so much happiness to be found through the presence of our children.  I’m a fortunate man to have been been blessed with four such sources of wonder.

Blessed…

Blessed is such a difficult concept to comprehend.  If we are blessed, who are we blessed by?  Life is a gift.  I know that beyond any doubt, however I have no knowledge as to its source.  Life isn’t a gift from some all powerful entity, I know that as well – for many reasons I won’t raise now as this post isn’t about dogma.  {Perhaps another time, or perhaps I’ve already touched on it elsewhere in my posted thoughts.}

So, if we aren’t blessed by some divine entity, then by what are we blessed?

By our children…

They are each unique.  They are each wonderful.  They are each frustrating in how they are capable of so much more than their efforts or their insecurities indicate.  Some children take a lot longer to realize how their own actions shape them for the future.  As their parents it is very difficult not to fall into the traps set by a system in which the social hierarchy is based on monetary wealth and inherited acclaim.

We desperately want our children to do well, but in the context of current times doing well doesn’t mean “do good things“, it means “make a lot of money“.  What a sad state of affairs that two of the most prevalent meanings of “do well” are so mutually exclusive.

I hope your children do well, by themselves and also by others.  I hope they seek and find happiness, and in their quest they bring happiness to others.  I hope they experience compassion, and freely grant it to others.  I hope they feel your love, and learn to love well.

After all, aren’t happiness, compassion and love the source of themselves?

Here’s a final chain of thought to take away.  This isn’t a chain to bind, it is a chain to help set you free.

Our children are the only things we truly create, for without us they could not be.  Our most profound blessings are our children.  We create our own blessings.

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on Tricks, with Time

The most fundamental reward of love given, is how often love is returned.

I wonder why it takes us so long to learn lessons like this?  Such are the lessons of life, simple lessons some seem destined never to learn at all.  Sadly I think this lack of learning of life’s most fundamental lessons is more widespread now than it ever has been before.

Why? Because of tricks played with time…

First, we are tricked into thinking we have no time.  Then we’re tricked into selling what little time we do have, for inadequate reward.  Then, because of the inadequate rewards granted by the second trick, we’re tricked again into taking precious time from those we love and literally giving still more of it to corporations that simply do not care.  We’re tricked into leading such ridiculously “busy” lives we find we lack time to think about the things that really matter.

Those things we’re tricked into believing we don’t have time to think about aren’t really things at all… they’re people, and living beings, and life, and love, and liberty, and happiness, and truth, and so much more.  They’re the essential things that make life worth living.  Unfortunately not one of them is something which the money we get in inadequate exchange for our precious time will ever allow us to buy.

Everyone should know the true reward of love given is love returned.  If you’re reading my blog, or my books, or my tweets you already know that without needing anyone to tell you.  You know beyond any doubt that love’s reward is love’s return.

Now I ask you this question.  What is the reward of money?

The answer is simple – the reward of money exchanged, is things.

Too bad those tangible things we receive in exchange for money aren’t any of the things that make life worth living.  Why?  Because only love buys those.

Perhaps the skeptics might gleefully ask, “But what is the reward of money retained?”  I have an answer for that as well.  It is a hoard. Now there’s a fascinating word – hoard.  Look it up to refresh or fix its meaning in your mind – I think you’ll find hoards are generally rather selfish things. {Generally…}

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on Intuition

We spend years learning to suppress our instincts, then more years teaching our children to suppress theirs. Why do we do things we regret?

Many scientists say we have “intuitions” all the time, however since they are usually wrong and we don’t like admitting we’re wrong even to ourselves, we forget them. They believe that only occasionally are our intuitions proven correct, therefore when that happens we tend to remember and emphasize them.

I say nonsense.

I don’t have intuitions often, but when I do I am always very very aware of them, and they are virtually never wrong. Indeed, I think they are never wrong, though sometimes I cannot know whether they would prove true as I listen to my gut and either get out whatever situation invoked them, or entirely avoid whatever it was that raised the hackles on the back of my neck. Unfortunately I sometimes ignore my intuition, which is when regret comes into play.  In an attempt to understand what caused them, I also tend to analyze them afterwards. Seldom do I find definitive answers.

What do you think? Is intuition arcane nonsense we are better served without, or do we have senses other than the scientifically defined five?

Personally, I’m inclined toward the latter.  Oh, and yes – I did use the plural, “senses“, not the singular “sixth“.

We like to simplify things because doing so lends itself to easy understanding. But things are seldom as simple as we make them seem…

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on Miracles

It strikes me that most women are fascinated by a baby’s feet.  Women and men are different.  Me?  I’m fascinated by a baby’s hands.  They bring home how miraculous life is.  Perfect little hands, with perfect little fingers, tendons, muscles, and bones.  Tiny little functional replicas of our own.

With everything that can go wrong, if that a single child in a million is born perfect isn’t a miracle I simply don’t know what is.  Miracles are everywhere, we only need look at any form of life to see them.

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on Nature’s Lessons

It has always fascinated me how nurturing little girls are. Playing at being mothers is a skill nobody teaches them, they simply have it. Then they lose that skill about age ten or eleven, or shortly before puberty, and take a dozen years to get it back. Nature is a strange, mysterious, wonderful thing. It teaches us skills we don’t know we have, lets us forget them, to eventually relearn them anew. I wonder if, when the second lesson comes, we learn it as well as nature taught us first time around?

As for men? Well I’m fifty-six and only {re-}learning to be nurturing now. That lesson feels familiar, somehow.

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on Ill-Will

I recently learnt someone I truly despised had died. Many thoughts ran through my mind at this news, not least of which was how we should bear the deceased no ill-will.

Ill-will…

Hatred is an emotion that grasps us in a cruel, yet clever grip. It convinces us we are righteous, that it matters, and that we should embrace and sustain it. It twists us until we think that something so wrong as hatred, is somehow something right. Hatred breeds, with the foremost of its offspring being intolerance and spite. Hatred hides in plain sight, wearing its many guises well. Yet once we recognize it those clever concealments soon fall away. You’ll find hatred and its progeny everywhere, from sporting events to religious teachings to political rallies to virulent atheism and most places between.

Ill-will is everywhere, though it serves nobody well.

Back to the person who recently died…

How strange to bear another ill-will right up until the time of their demise, then feel our hatred morph into pity.

Pity strikes me as a far better emotion than its inverse, from which it sometimes springs. Indeed pity might be kin to compassion, an emotion I hold in high esteem.

Ill-will takes too much energy to hold as tight as we do. Compassion takes no energy at all, indeed it gives it back.  Release ill-will, and embrace compassion. I think you’ll be relieved when you do. I know I am.

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on Matters

Everything I write, is written because it matters. This is true for my books, poems, blog posts, texts, tweets, beliefs, and emails. It all matters to me, the question is what matters to you?

Do truth, integrity, compassion, understanding, and love matter to you as much as they do to me? Or are those just arcane concepts people wrap with words, but not with thoughts?

An interesting idea that receives a great deal of attention in literature is the concept of doing wrong for the right reasons. I like interesting concepts because they allow me to weigh them in the balance scales within my mind. I wonder if you have similar scales within yours? You know, those two opposing voices that argue the merits of everything you encounter? Those voices are your inner scale of justice, and they aren’t blind.

Doing wrong for the right reasons… Is it okay to do something morally repugnant if the end result seems attractive?  Is it okay to do something wrong to get something right? Is it okay to be a little bad to ensure something good?  Let us investigate this by considering three examples.

Scenarios

  1. You haven’t studied, it is crunch time, and you’re about to fail your final exams. If you fail, your parents will have to pay money they don’t have for you to redo the semester or you’ll have to drop out and take a minimum wage job.  Is it okay to cheat?
  2. Military Intelligence has caught a suspected terrorist, they believe a brutal attack is imminent, but the suspect isn’t talking. Is it okay to torture the suspect?
  3. You know your boss is a liar who has been defrauding the company with something he shrugs off as “creative accounting”, but he promised you a raise if you remain silent, and without the raise you can’t afford to pay your rent. Is it okay to keep quiet?

Conclusions

  1. It isn’t okay to cheat.
  2. It isn’t okay to torture anyone, for any reason, ever.

Yes, those little voices in our head can come up with some pretty convincing arguments to justify something we know is wrong.  Indeed, we are able to justify almost anything. However the thing about justifications is that if a matter is truly just, there is never a need to justify it.

Oh, and lest you think I forgot the conclusion to the third scenario, I didn’t. In actuality that third scenario is the purpose of this entire post.

It is not okay to keep quiet when you know someone is a liar, a cheater, a thief and worse. Donald Trump is a liar, that isn’t an opinion it is an irrefutable fact. He has  cheated countless people by refusing to pay them. He claims to be billionaire who, by his own admission, does not pay Federal tax.  Your silence in the upcoming election is not okay. Your failure to vote in order to ensure this repugnant lying bigot is kept out of the highest office in the United States is not okay – no matter how you try and justify it to yourself.

So you’re a dedicated, lifelong Republican?  Who cares? Conformity is the ultimate abdication of personal responsibility.  Just. Don’t. Do. It.

 

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on Abuse

Love is a powerful thing.

Indeed, it is powerful enough to overcome abuse.

I struggle with that. I don’t understand how anyone can love someone who deliberately injures them, either emotionally or physically. For me this is one of those things it is incredibly difficult to grasp.

It is also one of those things in which we tend to blame the victims by saying or thinking they choose to remain in an abusive relationship when they should move on. I wonder if they realize they have a choice? If they don’t realize they do, then I’m inclined to think they don’t. If they think they have no choice and we blame them for remaining, instead of showing them they do, then I wonder if we’re adding to their abuse?

I think we are.

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on Busy

We live in a busy world full of things we simply must do.

But must we?

I smile as I write that.  Things are not people, they are just things and things don’t care whether they get done or not.  On the other hand people do care.  Yes, many of the things we do, we do for others, but perhaps the others we do them for might prefer the time we spend doing those things be spent on them.

A parents work is never done…

You know, I think the world would be a much worse place if parents ever began to feel they have done enough for their children.  However that “enough” relates to giving our children the skills to succeed and the love to feel secure.  It doesn’t mean we give them the clothes off our backs because they lack the ability to get their own once they are grown. That said, we most likely will anyway…

Some things should change, and some things should not.

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on Tough Love

I recently posted this thought on Twitter.

I wonder why we encourage our children to toughness, not tenderness?

In loving relationships between adults practicing “tough love” will quickly end such relationships.  With that thought in mind I’m tempted to ask the question “Why is being tough toward our children acceptable?

I’m tempted to ask, but instead I’ll explain why I think we tend toward being tough on our children.

Because we love them and we want them to be successful?

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? We think showing our children a hard hand or heart will somehow strengthen them and prepare them for a hard world. But will it? Or will it merely show them how to harden their own hearts?

The older I get the more I change my view toward the later way of thinking. After the physical necessities of life, the things our children most need from us are love, compassion, and understanding. Perhaps not in that order, but definitely all three of those difficult to define, intangible, yet absolutely crucial emotional elements.

How does “tough love” fit into any of those elements?

Should we teach our children discipline? In some ways we must. However, must is not necessarily the same as should.

The ways in which we must, and should, teach our children discipline are in regard to the physical necessities of life. We must teach them not to be greedy, not only because greed is immoral, but also because greed is unhealthy. If evil has a more accurate name, that name is greed.

On the emotional scale, we must teach our children to be cautious. We must teach them to be wary. We must teach them to listen to their instincts. We must teach them to always question, most especially the things they are told they may not question.

And then there is the question of when we should teach our children discipline in the matters of love, compassion, and understanding. I’m sure if I wrack my brain I can contrive some circumstance in which we should discipline our children to not love, to not be compassionate, or to not be understanding. Perhaps I could, however I suspect those circumstances would be precisely as I’ve already described them – contrived.

Perhaps instead of teaching our children discipline in the emotional elements of life we should teach them to be indiscriminate in the depth of those emotional constructs?

Unfortunately, in this shallow world where material possessions have assumed paramount importance I don’t know how to begin that lesson. How can I, in good conscience, teach my children to be generous toward those who exhibit greed? I cannot, however I can teach them to not take more than their share, and I try to do that every day.

Perhaps the essence of tough love is teaching our children to deny themselves the material desires so many mistake for needs?

Perhaps… is such a good word.

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