Monday, October 30, 2006

The Old Pine Tree

After the asteroid struck, the majestic old pine reeled, its highest branches having been struck by the burning projectile. The earth`s friction had eroded the asteroid`s size and energy; by the time it reached the earth`s surface it was little more than a flaming speeding ball, not much bigger than one of the tree`s pine cones. After assaulting the pine, its descent took it directly into the stream that wound its way through the forest. As the water absorbed the molten energy of the asteroid it roiled and boiled, then quiesced. The asteroid settled to the stream bed, like a tumor at rest, dormant, yet capable of eruption.

For some minutes the forest was quiet; the birds had stopped singing, squirrels stood tall, unchattering, checking for strange smells. A family of deer was the first to disturb the stillness, ambling upstream to drink from the stream. Within moments the forest was again alive with energy; only the old pine tree seemed to have suffered any ill effects.

He stood stoically as always. Being the tallest and oldest of the living pine trees was a lonely existence. Other trees whispered to him through the wind, wondering if he was alright. The giant pine acknowledged the others and told them not to worry; he would be good as new in no time at all. Yet, within himself, he could feel immediate changes in his body. He could feel globs of sticky resin oozing down his trunk, filling in the injuries and fissures caused by the asteroid`s impact. The resin seemed to capture anything in its path, its only instinct to preserve the pine`s life. The pine tree, exhausted, closed its senses to the world and withdrew in itself, hoping to be protected by the resin while it healed.

It was only many years later, the pine tree had no idea of the length of his sleep, that he was roused from his slumber by a rushing of water encircling his trunk.The flow seemed to have started above his highest branches and seemed to be gradually moving lower, freeing his trunk from an ashy material in which he seemed entombed. For the first time in what must have been many, many years, the pine tree began to feel what in humans might be called happiness. He could once again feel a connectedness with the world and nature. He closed his visual sense, preferring the feel of freedom that was coursing down his length. And, could it be? The top branches were warming in the rays of the Goddess Sun! The pine could sense life pouring through his body; he could practically feel the beginning of buds bursting into life from his arms and branches.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Saul Bellow " RAVELSTEIN " pg 222-223. c2000

………………He had, however, asked me what I imagined death would be like ----- and when I said that the pictures would stop he reflected seriously on my answer, came to a full stop, and considered what I might mean by this. No one can give up on the pictures ---- the pictures might, yes they might continue. I wonder if anyone believes that the grave is all there is. No one can give up on the pictures. The pictures must and will continue. If Ravelstein the atheist-materialist had implicitly told me that he would see me sooner or later, he meant that he did not accept the grave to be the end. Nobody can and nobody does accept this. We just talk tough………………..

……………..This is the involuntary and normal, the secret, esoteric confidence of the man of flesh and blood. The flesh would shrink and go, the blood would dry, but no one believes in his mind of minds or heart of hearts that the pictures do stop……………………..

Saturday, October 14, 2006

On Meditation, Psychotherapy and Death Anxiety

My friend and I were talking yesterday, wide-ranging. We were speaking of death terror and the Tibetan Book of the Dead, of Meditation and Psychotherapy. A central issue here was the nature of the terror: was it of physical mortality? Is that which drives us to cloak ourselves in our characterological defensive postures? Or is the terror more Ego driven; do we hide from it in order to deny the meaninglessness of our life experiences?

From the beginning of man and his/her endeavors to make sense of the world, there have been attempts to deny our aloneness through acknowledging a higher Power, be it the Sun or the sun as a representation of that which has ever said “ I AM “. In “The Denial of Death” Becker has shown a courageous light on our historical attempts to appear heroic, to be more than animal, more than mortal. And yet, when presenting his personal solution to our predicament, Becker agrees with all of humanities` strivings; the solution to the terror of finitude is a bowing, a giving-in to That which has made us.

As we spoke, it became clear to us that the philosophy behind psychotherapy and meditation, expressed in metaphor, acknowledges the same central truth. In meditation, each person is given something to concentrate on; a mantra, breathing, etc. When the “heaviness” of their thinking becomes alarming, the person has a safe haven on which to concentrate, thereby becoming attuned to the absence of distress. The same principle is what psychotherapy attempts to teach: in metaphor, the essence of “wellness” is having a picture, a thought, a “lightbulb” that is instantaneously available to us. This “lightbulb” should continually have less of an ideational component as we approach “wellness”. In essence, mental health can best be defined as that mental state that continually attempts to deny energy to thoughts that exist for no reason other than to cause us pain.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Y O !!!!!

I`m not sure of all that has stopped me from writing since my hospitalization. I know of terror and I think of some of my readers who have been living with that knowledge. I look back at much that I have written about the universal denial of death and its primary importance in limiting us and our cultural world view. About Becker, and his amazing presentation that has so fueled my thinking. And I realize the utter truth in his words in my week-long hospital stay. Not just the knowledge that my life is limited but that the terror inherent in that knowledge, the abyss, the “sickness unto death”, is real and inescapable.

Even now, part of me wants to describe those nights of despair, of hopelessness. Perhaps some of it may make good poetry, maybe.

But I think of my readers, you know who you are. I think of the courage I find in your writings. Even in the darkest of those hospital nights I felt myself buoyed by thoughts of you, of your struggles to be, your acknowledgement of the terror. And my patients, and my son, and S.


Friday, September 29, 2006


It`s been a month since I presented myself to the Emergency Room of the Hospital closest to my home. Some six days before, I had experienced symptoms which were consistent with a diagnosis of TIA, transient ischemic attack, or a “Mini-Stroke”. I kept the knowledge of what I had felt to myself until the weekend four days after the experience. Absurd, rediculous, yep! On that Saturday I spoke of the symptomatology to two people very close to my heart. They both expressed their frustration with me and demanded that I be evaluated by Medical professionals.

I followed their advice and by Monday lunchtime I had been admitted as an in-patient for evaluation and treatment. For the next four days my presenting complaints were worried over and expanded. Every new test darkened the vision of my future, be it MRI`s, stress tests, echocardiograms, PT scans, transesophageal EKG`s, various Doppler screenings, etc.. My Attending Physician was very sensitive to the Specialist`s opinions, especially the surgical consults and I began to dread every meeting with him as he would explain to me the next diagnostic test to be performed, always with the underlying feeling that there was little positive to be found.

My mental state was negatively affected by the fact that I had not properly prepared myself for hospital admittance. I arrived at the ER with no phone numbers or email addresses and my son and his girl friend were in Iowa visiting her family. I couldn`t see how it would be helpful to call him when he was so far away. I did have my ex-wife`s number and I spoke to her. After a couple of days she stopped by on her way home from work but she was very worried about getting home to let the dog out. There was no one else at home to take care of him since our son was in Iowa. Psychologically, I found my stay in the hospital quite stressful. I had no one to speak to about my concerns about mortality; of course not many people are able to be open to those thoughts anyhow. I did feel concern and comfort from some of the nurses, something I greatly appreciated at 3.00AM.

{{{You know, as I sit here writing this drivel, I realize that I really have nothing new to offer my readers. I`m really just saying that I want, need others to admire, support me; to appreciate the pain and fear that I experienced. Classical Depressive symptomatology; the way of any Obsessive under stress. Well, no matter. At least I`m writing!}}}


Thursday, September 21, 2006


It`s been quite awhile since I`ve written anything here [or anywhere]. Once again, I`d like to thank everyone who took the time to express concern about how I`m doing physically. As many of you know, I suffered a TIA or mini-stroke, which caused me to eventually seek diagnosis & treatment at an ER. In many ways, this may have been the best thing that could have happened, since evaluation has shown the need for a cardiac catheterization [scheduled for Oct. 5th] and a carotid artery stenosis that needs to be cleaned up. In addition, I`m taking Meds for High Blood Pressure and Diabetes. All things considered, I`m doin` pretty well and following Doc`s advice on Meds & Diet. And today is my 25th day of Not Smoking! Woo Hoo!
OK, enough of that. Hugs to all!

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Aynetal3, VivianSulliNwank, Insight32, Krobbie67, Slacbacmac, OndineMonet, DEABLER3, Gbgoglo, Barbpinion, Globetrotter2U, CaRLy0042, CNEinhorn, Z7Snow Flake, IndigoSunMoon, TSGERKIN, Theresarrt7, Paisleyskys, JckFrstRoss, B4i8clover,, Bedazzzled1, JOuell3935,, Sgortercass,,

Taking a break from Siegfried, I wanted to thank everyone who has taken the time to express concern over my health. I have received Phone calls, Cards, emails and comments from so many people. I am deeply touched and humbled. I apologize for the concern and worry I caused many of you; when I went to the ER on Monday, Aug.28, I didn`t think I was goin` to be admitted. There`s work to be done to get me back in tip-top shape including a cardiac catheterization and carotid cleanout but I`m on the right meds and will follow Doc`s advice.

Ayn would want me to close with this------ No Cigarettes- 14 DAYS!!!!!


Thursday, August 24, 2006

" A PRINCESS TALE " Part Twelve

As soon as possible, the newly married couple stole away from the reception and withdrew to the Princess` quarters in her father`s castle. Her bedroom was festooned with the scent of jasmine, an odor that Johann was not fond of. He opened the doors to the patio to let in fresh air, then approached the Princess.

“Finally alone, my dear. And I have something for you.” Johann as Siegfried withdrew a small box from his vest pocket and presented it to Elaina. She opened the box to reveal a beautiful diamond engagement and wedding ring set. “My Princess should be wearing rings befitting her status, not that little ring of gold I gave you for our engagement.” He took her left hand in his and started to remove the ring from her finger.

The princess looked at him questioningly, “But Siegfried, this little ring of gold signifies our love. I have no want of other rings. Our ring of love is all that I wish to wear.”

Johann put his arms around her and drew her close to him. “As you wish, Elaina. Let`s say no more of it.” He bent down and kissed her passionately.

After more than a few seconds, Elaina withdrew from the kiss and stared into Johann`s eyes. “Is everything all right with you Siegfried? You don`t seem yourself.”

“I`m fine, my dear. I think it may be this infernal smell. This room is infested with jasmine blossoms, their odor is overpowering.” Johann sat on the bed after further opening the patio doors. “Come sit by me, Elaina. It`s time for bed.”

As she sat next to him Johann pulled her roughly to a supine position next to him, then moved his body over hers. As he brought his face to hers, Elaina put her hands in his hair and pulled the helmet Tarnhelm from his head. Instantaneously, Johann appeared as himself.

“What have you done with Siegfried?” Elaina asked as she stood up from the bed.

Johann approached her, stating “I`m sorry, Princess. You are too late to help Siegfried and if you know what`s good for you, you will hand over the ring.”


Thursday, August 17, 2006

" A PRINCESS TALE " Part Eleven

As Siegfried put his hand on the doorknob, he sensed a quick movement behind him. Johann pounced quickly and Siegfried felt the dagger penetrate his back, his place of vulnerability. The last perception he had as darkness overcame him was of a laughter, joyous yet malevolent. After moving Siegfried`s body to a closet that was practically invisible at the far recess of the room, Johann donned the magic helmet Tarnhelm and exited the room to meet his bride.

Elaina was standing in a reception line between her father and the King of Neder. Johann, now indistinguishable from his nemesis Siegfried, kissed Elaina on the cheek and approached his father, the Neder King. Johann bowed to the King and spoke, “Your Majesty, Johann has asked me to speak to you. To spare any embarassment, he has decided to leave us before the reception. I did my best to dissuade him, but he felt that his earlier rejection by Elaina may mar the day`s happiness. He said not to worry; he was going on a solitary hunt and would be home in a matter of weeks.”

The Neder King replied “Thank you, Siegfried. That sounds very much like my son, always thinking of others. I accept his decision and I say let us make haste with the reception. I know that you must want to complete the formal ceremonies so that you and the Princess may be alone.” Smiling, the King continued, “After all, even an old man like myself remembers his wedding night.”

His son, disguised as Siegfried, bowed to the King and took his place in the reception line next to the Princess Elaina. He smiled and took her hand, feeling the power emanating from the golden ring on her wedding finger.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006


The mnment the door closed, Johann fell to his knees. “Siegfried, I have a confession to make. My jealousy of Elaina`s love for you had overwhelmed my reason. It was only when I was to receive the Holy Eucharist at your wedding that my eyes truly opened to my calumny. In my state of envy and dishonesty, I was unable to accept the presence of God.”

Siegfried helped Johann to his feet and bade him to continue. “Oh Prince, I`ve traveled to your homeland in order to learn of your weaknesses, to know the means of defeating you. At the great river in your country I was awakened from sleep by the music of the Rhinemaidens. From them I learned of your defeat of the dragon Fafner and your capture of the golden ring and the magic helmet from his lair. I am aware of Tarnhelm`s power and I was going to use it against you. You see, the Rhinemaidens told me of your one weakness; that your Grandfather Wotan left your back vulnerable to death since he granted you the power of fearlessness. I was going to embrace you and use my knife to slay you, then use Tarnhelm to take your place. As Siegfried, I would tell my Father that I had left Neder for adventure since I had failed to win Elaina`s love. In that way, I would truly take your place at the side of the Princess forever. Your body would be hidden here until late this evening when I would dispose of it.”

Siegfried was shaken by this news, but asked, “It is at least possible that you could have slain me, but surely you didn`t think that the Princess wouldn`t recognize the differences in our character?”

“I didn`t think that far, Siegfried. My jealousy consumed me.” On the verge of tears, the Neder Prince continued. “It was only when I was to receive the Body of Christ in commemmoration of your wedding that I was able to see the ugliness of my soul.”

Siegfried moved closer to Johann, placing his hand on the Prince`s shoulder. “Come, Johann and join the festivities. The courage you have shown in this confession has earned my forgiveness.”

Johann bowed to Siegfried and replied, “Thank you for your forgiveness, oh Prince, but I have much more to tell of the Rhinemaidens. The lives of you and your bride may be in mortal danger! The golden ring holds the answer!”

Siegfried put his arm around Johann, leading him to the door. “I believe you, but the celebration and my wedding night await.  We will speak more of this on the `morrow.”


Sunday, August 13, 2006


Before the pledge of vows, the Cardinal first consecrated the marriage with the celebration of the Holy Mass. When it became time for the wedding party to receive Holy Communion, the Sacrament that allows the communicants to receive the Body of Christ, the Prince of Neder kneeled next to Siegfried.

As the Cardinal approached him with the Sacrament, Johann seemed to reel and he fell backwards, breathing heavily. Two groomsmen and his father`s physician rushed to his side but he recovered quickly and again took his place beside Siegfried. The Cardinal approached him again with the Holy Eucharist but Johann bowed his head, refusing the Sacrament. He spoke “I`m sorry. I think it`s best that I don`t receive the Body of Christ. My stomach remains queasy.” Siegfried faced his best man with a quizzical look, then turned back to the Cardinal.

The rest of the ceremony was uneventful and as the Cardinal pronounced Elaina and Siegfried man and wife, the entire church erupted with cheers of joy and happiness. The fainting incident seemed forgotten as the audience awaited the wedding party`s passing so that the celebration might begin.

As the newly married couple finished the procession and arrived at the entrance to the Cathedral, Johann approached Siegfried, “Before you greet your guests with your lovely wife, may I have one minute of your time? It`s very urgent!”

Siegfried frowned, then nodded, and the Neder Prince directed him to the private room they had used before the ceremony. Siegfried kissed his bride and told her he would be back in a moment, then entered the room. Johann followed, closing the door behind them.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

" A PRINCESS TALE " Part Eight

The Neder Prince returned home without incident, arriving one week before the Princess` wedding. He had just enough time to complete the preparations for his revenge.

On the day of the celebration, Johann arrived at the Cathedral with his father the Neder King. The Nederland was of such importance that their entourage was given the prized first pew to view the wedding. Moreover, as an attempt to assuage any ill feelings over Johann`s rejection as the Princess` suitor, the Neder Prince had been selected by the Princess` father to be best man.

After seeing his father seated, Johann joined the wedding party in the waiting rooms at the entrance to the Cathedral. Siegfried and his ushers were gathered in the smaller room to the right and Johann approached the groom.

“Good morning Siegfried. What a perfect day for your wedding. I just want you to know that I have no hard feelings towards this wedding. You have won the Princess` heart fairly and it is my great pleasure to serve as your best man.”

“Thank you, Johann” replied Siegfried. “Your father is the King`s most trusted friend and I`m proud to have you bear witness to our wedding.” Siegfried extended his hand in greeting and Johann shook it as the Princess` father entered the room.

Taking advantage of the opportunity, Johann spoke, “Since the Princess is already wearing the golden ring, my opportunity to serve you as best man is limited. Please, Siegfried. At least let me carry your helmet Tarnhelm to the altar. I pledge to guard it with my life.”

Siegfried seemed undecided but under the mounting marital pressures he gave Tarnhelm to the Neder Prince before turning to greet the King. Johann smiled within himself, “With Tarnhelm, my plan is complete and only awaits the moment!”

As the King left the room the Cathedral`s bells began pealing, announcing the wedding procession. The ushers lined up and began their walk down the aisle, Siegfried being preceded by Johann carrying the magical helmet Tarnhelm.

As they waited at the altar the bells silenced and an orchestra in the balcony began playing a wedding march. The Princess` attendants strolled down the aisle, strewing jasmine flowers in memory of Elaina`s first meeting with Siegfried.

The Princess arrived at the altar on the arm of her father who placed her hand in Siegfried`s. Wearing a pure white gown, simple in its sophistication, Elaina wore only three adornments; her Princess crown, her mother`s pearl necklace and earrings, and the golden ring. She carried a small bouquet of jasmine, which she gave to her maid of honor who was standing at her side. Elaina and Siegfried bowed to each other and turned to face the Cardinal standing in front of the altar, the maid of honor and best man at their sides.


Saturday, August 5, 2006