If You Are A Writer, Call Yourself A Writer!

I was at a luncheon, where the speaker’s topic was “Becoming a Writer”.

During lunch, before the speaker spoke, the gentleman next to me asked:

“What do you do?”

“I’m a writer in my retirement,” I said, and all the other six people at the table suddenly looked at me with raised eyebrows.

“Are you now, and what do you write?”

“Non-fiction, short stories, blog posts and I’ve written three novels.”

“Anything published?”

“Two articles for a magazine a year ago. Now, I publish blog posts on the internet and I self-published three novels in three years.”

The chap smiled and said:

“Should you really call yourself a writer if you’ve only been at it three years?”

This guy was getting under my skin. The others at the table were waiting for my answer.

“Of course I’m a writer and I have a pile of rejection letters to prove it! Only writers who write and submit can get rejected. What do you do?”

“I’m a doctor.”

“That’s nice, nobody at this table is going to ask you to prove it!”

Everyone laughed.

“It’s interesting that writing is one of the few jobs where people put the “burden of proof” on you.”

“I guess it’s a form of identity,” one person across from me said.

“Yes, you’re right. I look at myself in the mirror and say, “I am a writer”. It’s a way of interacting with and viewing the world.”

“I guess if you call yourself a writer, you have to write often, probably daily,” said the doctor, humbly.

“That’s right, a writer has to produce. Nobody will ever miss something you didn’t write. Writers have to create their own motivation.”

“You must have to discipline yourself to write,” someone said.

“Yes, a writer must have self-discipline. Writers are people who write!”

“What about writer’s block?”

Questions were coming from all directions now!

“Well, questions like the one the doctor put to me, “Should I call myself a writer?”, contribute to writer’s block!”

“What do you mean?”

“All writers have a little negative voice in the back of their heads saying:

“Are you really a writer, maybe you should put your pen down and walk away from the table.”

“Writers hear voices?’

“Yes, so do you, it’s the voice of self-doubt!”

Everyone at the table nodded their head.

“The doctor’s controversial question just fortifies that voice, which is the enemy of writers and really the enemy of all art.”

“Well, you sure know a lot about writing. I’m sorry I said what I did,” said the doctor, shaking my hand.

“Apology accepted.”

At that moment the M.C. announced:

“And now, ladies and gentlemen, our speaker: Writer Dave.”

The applause was deafening. I GOT UP AND WENT TO THE PODIUM!

P.S.-This post is the 206th on my blog: www.writerdave.com

Existential Crisis!

One day, when I was feeding the birds in the park, I realized everything I was doing and thinking about lately, was an existential crisis!

My friend told me not to worry:

“If you get up in the morning and then do what you want to do during the day, you can sleep easy because you are living right.”

I was still skeptical.

Just the other day, I was thinking: I was a living, breathing, fragile functioning persona that was going to die one day! That’s scary!

Someone called me an old git last week. Am I really a bitter old person? Am I having an “Old Age Crisis” also?

It seemed like I was questioning the very foundations of my life, whether it had any meaning, purpose or value!

I have experienced the death of loved ones and had traumatic events in my life. But things have come to a head now that I became a senior citizen. Now, I’m always looking for answers!

I’ve gotten very emotional recently. When I’m reading a book or watching a movie, I get tearful. Also, cemeteries have started to bug me. “I’m going to die,” I think. So now, I avoid cemeteries!

The other day I felt my heart skip a beat. Oh no, is it now, so soon? Hypochondria looms!

I’ve started reading existential novels and watching existential movies, in order to find answers. All these goings on was becoming like a “Dark Night of the Soul” or “Ego Death”! What can I do to handle this crisis?

My friend told me to “Anchor” onto something I could be passionate about, something to focus my attention on consistently.

So I started writing articles, short stories and novels full time. It worked and I’ve never looked back. In other words, I’ve created my own meaning and purpose in my later years.

My friend also told me, it’s important to have a sense of humor. So he told me a joke:

“Descartes is in a tavern having a beer. The bartender asks him if he would like another. “I think NOT,” he says and disappears in a puff of smoke.”

“Very funny,” I said.

DID YOU GET IT?

The Day I Met Nietzsche!

Imagination is a wonderful thing. I closed my eyes and when I opened them, this man was sitting opposite me in a large leather armchair. He had dark hair combed back in a sort of quiff. He also had an enormous walrus mustache and penetrating eyes. Good golly, I was staring at Friedrich Nietzsche, the philosopher I recently read about. He must be embedded in my subconscious!

“Are you Friedrich Nietzsche?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Can I ask you some questions? I’m in a state of confusion.”

“You may.”

“When you said, God Is Dead, what did you mean?”

“I meant, science has seen off the concept of God! The religious systems of thought that humans created to make sense of the world are gone.”

My jaw dropped!

“Mr. Nietzsche, does this mean that now, with his death, life is meaningless? I mean, God has been the source and keeper of all values and meaning for the world, so now what do we do?”

“Yes, my son, with God dead, you lose all that and with that all gone, yes, life is meaningless!”

“But, Mr. Nietzsche, what’s to become of us?”

He smiled beneath the monstrous mustache and said:

“Be brave, my son, after the death of God, you will be able to face the meaninglessness of the world.”

“But how?” I cried nervously.

“You will take responsibility for creating your own meaning and direction in your life.”

“That doesn’t sound easy to me,” I stammered.

“God has done the job for over 2000 years, so it will take a while for you to get the hang of it.”

“Mr. Nietzsche, sir, what is your Number One principle that I can use as a guide?”

“My Number One is, To Make One’s Own Laws For Oneself.”

“Oh, I see. Don’t become your Master’s shadow because the Master is dead.”

“By jove, you’ve got it! Be Master of your own shadow! You, and you alone, are Master of your destiny. Set your own goals and create your own meaning.”

“I feel better already,” I said smiling.

“Sure you feel good. You will become an “UBERMENSCH”. A man in control of your own world.”

“Sounds good to me,” I said, expanding my chest.

“I hope some of your confusion is gone, my son.”

“Oh yes sir, by the way, what are your favorite sayings?”

“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger, and He who has a WHY to live can bear any HOW.”

With that, Nietzsche disappeared.

I was left whispering to myself:

“I am an UBERMENSCH!”

The Chicago Picasso

It was August 15th, 1967. I remember it like it was yesterday. I had just picked up my new girlfriend. She was quite a catch for me. I don’t think I ever had a girlfriend as beautiful. She was blond with a long ponytail.

Well, anyway, to get back to my story. The plan was to go to downtown Chicago, wander around, have lunch and maybe take in a movie. But we got caught up in a crowd at the Civic Center Plaza.

“What’s up?” I asked a bystander.

“They’re unveiling Picasso’s gift to Chicago.”

“Oh, he’s the guy that paints those funny pictures.”

“That’s right, but this is supposed to be an iron sculpture.”

“I can’t wait to see what it looks like,” said my girlfriend.

“Well, according to the papers, it will be a sculpture for people who like to laugh at the ridiculousness of the human condition.”

Up on the podium, were the Mayor and several men of the cloth, giving speeches. I thought that strange because Picasso was an atheist.

Then the Mayor pulled the ribbon and the covering fell away. My girlfriend and I stood there with a thousand other people with our mouths open. There was some applause but most of the audience were silent!

“What is it?” my girlfriend whispered.

“I don’t know,” I stammered.

Before us stood a three-dimensional, cubist iron sculpture standing 50 feet tall.

“It’s a big ugly metal thing,” someone shouted.

“If Picasso did it, it must be wonderful,” someone else exclaimed.

“It looks like a horse from the front,” a teenager shouted.

“Chicago now has culture,” someone said sarcastically.

My girlfriend and I walked around the metal thing to see it from different angles. Most of the people that were still there stood completely blank-faced.

Some people wandered off shaking their heads.

The eyes of the sculpture had a cold mean look. One man said it reminded him of Al Capone!

We were at the side of the sculpture, when I said:

“It looks like you in profile with your long ponytail.”

My girlfriend stared at me in disbelief.

The guy next to us said, “No, it looks like a baboon.”

My girlfriend walked off in a huff and got lost in the crowd. I never saw or heard from her again!

A month later, when I happened to be walking past the sculpture, I thought about the girl with the ponytail…

This is Chicago, land of the mob, home to scarface Capone, anything can happen. She’s probably just another victim of the Chicago Nightstalker, one of many that disappear in Chicago and are never heard from again. So I can’t blame myself for insulting her, it wasn’t my fault. If she didn’t like the Picasso, she had no soul!

It’s funny though, as the years went by, Chicagoans came to love the IRON LADY!

You’re Being Watched and Watching the Borders

Subtitle: “Better Surveillance and Less Immigration”

“You are being watched!” There are over 60,000 CCTV cameras in the UK. Walking around big cities like New York or London a person could be filmed 300 times a day!

These cameras were perceived to be a great help in stopping terrorism and crime. Now, we even have “face recognition” systems similar to number-plate recognition cameras.

I would hope this technology will help in the fight against terrorism and crime. But what bothers me is that only 15-20% of the cameras are monitored from a control room. I think more should be monitored.

***

Since 9/11, we recognized the need for better surveillance. The Americans and the British have become very good at collecting dots (data), but NOT very good at connecting them to find a target in advance.

With the advance in computer technology we have redefined our definitions of privacy and security. We need total information awareness, which hopefully, will help predict when and where terrorist attacks will come.

Today we can intercept a lot of cyber chatter. Phones can be cloned so data from one phone is transferred to another phone. Calls and texts can be received by both phones and tracker systems are better.

Now, we have arrived at a higher plateau of “better surveillance” because…

Now we have a “machine” in the form of the new NSA Utah Data Center. This machine is supposed to “connect the dots” to identify suspicious patterns.

This machine is a warehouse that contains information about every person in the United States. It monitors internet searches, websites visited, emails sent and received, social media activity, phone GPS location data, phone call records, facial recognition data from CCTV surveillance cameras, etc. The UK could use one of these machines.

The final thing is to share info between your allies and with other intelligence agencies. Before this machine, the intelligence agencies were amassing data on a scale no human or agency could keep up with. But now, with the Utah Data Center that problem will be rectified. Maybe, just maybe, we will have “better surveillance”.

***

The immigration crisis and the EU open border mandate has to be dealt with before our infrastructures are completely ruined by the increasing pressure of too many people coming into the country.

There is an uncontrollable wave of migrants marching across Europe. It’s uncontrolled because no one is doing anything to solve it! There are people that say we must be compassionate and charitable toward the migrants, but the reality is that we can’t cope with the numbers! Compassion and charity begin at home! The people in this country need to be taken care of first. In my opinion the only way we can control our borders is to exit the EU!

350,000 people signed a petition to stop immigration and close the borders. Closed borders means strict vetting of incoming people and turning back the ones that shouldn’t be in our country.

According to reports there probably were another 250,000 people that agreed with the petition but didn’t sign because they thought the powers that be would just kick it into the long grass!

So, that means 600,000 people are fed up with the situation. If we wait much longer to close the borders, the situation will get worse, and it is unsustainable now!

Every time people raise legitimate concerns about their country and express their anxieties, they are labeled as racist or bigots. The majority of the 350,000 people that signed the petition are NOT racist or bigots. They are people that are concerned about their country. It doesn’t matter what religion or ethnicity the migrants are, the bottom line is that this country can’t cope with any more people. We are OVERPOPUATED!

There are, in England, 450 people per sq. kilometer! We are the sixth most overcrowded country in the world!

Brussels allows us NO CONTROL over this migration. Several terrorists have entered Europe posing as refugees! Our borders are porous, the holes must be plugged!

We have to tackle mass uncontrolled immigration. It must be strictly measured and controlled and the way to do that is with closed borders and the way to get that is to exit the EU!

With mass immigration you get pockets of different cultures segregating themselves and with infrastructure breakdown, people get angry. Social cohesion breaks down and then the worst might happen – full scale social unrest on the streets. In some parts of the UK extremist groups have built no-go areas for white Brits. This is social unrest rearing it’s ugly head.

British citizens have three feelings about migrants:

  1. People come here to claim benefits and live a lifetime on them.
  2. People come here to get on in life, they want a job and look after their families.
  3. People come here that have evil intentions and want to destroy our way of life.

The trouble is we get all three sets of people coming in!

We must check integration, so that people who come here are NOT setting up a new community, but want to become part of an existing one.

***

In conclusion: I hope the “Powers That Be” will take notice of the petition, “Stop Mass Immigration and Close the Borders”, that was signed by 350,000 people. The majority of these people are NOT racist or bigots, they are concerned citizens and permanent residents of this country that are frustrated and angry at the way government is handling these important issues and they want to be heard in the halls of Parliament!

The open borders are exposing us to the risk of terrorist “sleepers”. Now, we want to further fan the flames of terrorism by bombing Syria. We haven’t learned our lessons from past interventions. Lets hope we do before things get worse!

***Please reply right on the blog. Thank you.

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Old Age and Existentialism

Writer Dave is an Existentialist. I have been one for the last fifty years! But back then I probably didn’t know that I was.

Subtitle of this blog: “Interview with an Elderly Existentialist”

Question: What does existentialism mean to you?

Answer: It’s always been a challenge for me to live an existential life. Since I’ve been an adult, I’ve created my own purpose and meaning in life. I’ve always tried to assert my will rather than allowing myself to be swept along by circumstances. I knew that I had to take responsibility for myself and what I do.

Question: What is your definition of Existentialism?

Answer: You are a free agent, responsible for making your own meaning and purpose in your life. In other words, YOU MAKE YOURSELF.

Question: We’re talking about Old Age and Existentialism. What does that mean to you?

Answer: Being elderly brings many existential challenges. You have to come to terms with the transitory character of life. Life is not permanent. You must find a way to cope with your approaching death, possible illness, loneliness and depression. You have to be ready to respond to the basic questions of existence.

Question: Wow! That’s quite a list to cope with. Can you elaborate on dealing with your mortality?

Answer: Well, with my time growing shorter, I’m confident I can and will adjust to the boundaries of human existence.

Question: Faced with life’s limits, as you get older, and the changing conditions of life, what questions arise?

Answer: For what do I still live? I live for my writing and to be a companion to my spouse. I am still productive and creative.

For what have I lived? It was good, I was productive in my work life and I contributed to society.

Question: The previous questions, do they lead to the question of meaning?

Answer: Yes, they do. The question is: What meaning does this life have which ends in death? I have created my own meaning through my work life and now through my retirement, and I’m happy with it!

Question: What is the question that MUST be answered to ward off old age depression?

Answer: The question is: Is there something beyond this life?

Without a PERSONAL answer to this question a seed of unrest will be with you and could lead to depression for the rest of your days.

Question: What is the final thing you need to face the “last straight”?

Answer: Personal maturity. This is the ability to “let go”, which is possible if you have done what you wanted and lived for what you wanted. Through my existentialism and my writing I am continually discovering my inner self, which helps me in the “letting go” process.

Question: What would you say in conclusion?

Answer: The old person, like myself, faces the basic questions of existence, regarding it’s limitations and transitory character and in doing so, has the responsibility to live as fully as they can until the “back nine” is finished! Growing old successfully allows a person to develop their inner self for a death that is THEIR death!

TO END ON A LIGHTER NOTE:

“A natural death is where you die by yourself without a doctor’s help!”

and another one:

“The nearer the time comes for our departure from life, the greater our regret for wasting so much of it!”

Identity–Who Are You?

This is the 200th post on this blog. There are over 1100 comments over more than 4 years!

Congratulations to Writer Dave, at least for his blog longevity!

Now to the nitty-gritty of this post:

Identity defined- the characteristics determining who and what a person is and distinguishing them from others.

The Cycle– Nothingness- Birth- Life- Death- Nothingness.

The “Life” in the middle of the cycle is where we find identity.

Do we find our identity in the stages of our life?

Early Adulthood-18-45—Making major life choices- marriage, occupation and style of life.

Midlife- 45-60- Loss of youth and changes in psychology. Start to ask profound questions such as: What have I accomplished? Increased wisdom, maturity and reflection. Start to face up to personal mortality.

Late Aduthood- 60 -65- Retirement, bodily decline, forming new interests.

Old Age- 65-80- Enhance the state of being whole and unified. Make peace with yourself and your mortality.

These stages are only partially where we find our identity.

A person must know who he is. He is the “writer” and the “object” of his actions. You are the center of your own being.

How do you know: Who you are?

Your identity grows out of the interacting of three factors: The sociological, the psychological and the philosophical.

Sociological—the relationship of oneself to others and society as a whole.

Psychological—the roles of the Id, the Superego and the Ego.

Philosophical—existence – what is and is to be. Existentialism- we are free agents, responsible for our own actions.

***

We are in the situation of a person in a world which they never made BUT are always making.

We all experience, “Existential Anxiety”, a philosophical view of Identity.

What is that, you say.

Well, lets say we are walking in darkness and feeling various emotions, knowing that the darkness was before one lived, and that there will be darkness when one lives no longer. In between these two darks, we must live our lives, we must dare to act and we are responsible for those actions. This is the anxiety.

***

Understanding identity through the psychological viewpoint of the “Id”, “superego” and the “ego”, using Freud’s terms.

The “Id” is the instinctual urges of a person.

The “superego” is the commands and prohibitions of one’s parents and society, which the child takes on board.

The “ego” is the way a person orients himself toward reality.

Your personality and identity develop as a result of the interplay between the id, ego and superego.

***

We are in an age of disintegrating values and rapid change, which is creating instability. In the family, parental authority grows weaker and the ideals of society are undermined.

The superego’s role in forming identity is in decline. So, the ego is lacking in direction from the superego and there is now identity instability which creates stress. The forces of the id are closer to the surface of people’s personality. In this situation of stress, the individual is likely to experience an identity crisis!

So, how can we deal with this crisis?

It probably will continue because we have to live in a culture that is unstable and affords the individual little external support.

The answer is: we must distinguish the important from the trivial. We must realize that our stability and sanity depend on the extent we can find advice and help within ourselves rather than in others and to continue to indulge in critical self-questioning.

Take this idea to heart and remember:

A MIND STRETCHED BY A NEW IDEA NEVER RETURNS TO ITS ORIGINAL DIMENSIONS!

 

 

Me and My Shadow

“I have several story ideas that are about the dark, negative side of humans. I want to learn about the “Shadow Self” so I can write about it intelligently. Where do I start?” said my writer friend over dinner.

“I, too, was interested in the “Shadow Self” for writing purposes but, in researching the subject, I got into it on a personal level also.”

We finished our meal and I ordered another bottle of wine. When our glasses were filled, I continued:

“I started my learning process by asking:

“How can I be a well-rounded writer without learning about the shadow I cast?” We all must have a dark side if we are to be a whole person. So I wanted to become conscious of my shadow.”

My friend looked perplexed. We both sipped our wine.

“I’m confused about the conscious and unconscious minds, the ego and the persona,” said the confused one.

“Well, the conscious mind comprises what we are aware of and the unconscious mind is the hidden part, what we are unaware of. The ego is your sense of worth and importance. The persona is the part of you that you show to the world.”

“Thank you for that. But what is the “shadow?”

“As I understand it, the “shadow” is the negative side of the personality, the unpleasant qualities that we would prefer to hide.”

“When I was at school, my teachers, and at home, my parents told me what to do and not to do. This instruction was to make me “domesticated”. In other words to hide my shadow, is that right?”

“You hit the nail on the head,” I laughed, “The powers that be want to tame our untamed dark side so we can become “normal” in society.”

“Wow! This is interesting stuff. How can we integrate our shadow and bring it into the light?”

“We’ve been conditioned to cast our shadow as the villain and we are the victim. With this perspective you shut down any possibility of learning anything that the dark side might offer that could open up new ways of thinking so you could know yourself more deeply. I would try to look at all your negative desires, emotions and impulses that are in your shadow and recast the shadow from villain to teacher and see what you can learn.”

“I get it, we might become more humanized through the exposure of our shadow.”

“We all have a “shadow” and you and I, as writers, want to be more creative, so we must integrate our shadow into our conscious mind and be aware of it. This makes us more creative and well-adjusted people.”

“Boy, this wine is bringing out all the answers,” my friend smiled.

We both sipped our wine and pondered our conversation.

“Now, how can we relate all this to our writing?”

My friend was silent.

“Well, we conceal many things with our “shadow” and that creates mystery. There is meaning in mystery and this needs expression. The work of the writer is to articulate what is concealed.”

“I think I’m getting the gist of this. When we writers refer to “character flaw” we are really referring to the character’s shadow.”

“Bingo! You’ve got it,” I said laughing.

“The shadow is present in the conflict and obstacles of the story. We feel the presence of “The Shadow” in that which , in the story, is hidden, unspoken, and within, but is present.”

“So, as a writer, my best friend is my “shadow”. It can inform my stories.”

“I have to go now,” I said, emptying my glass, “But in conclusion I will say:

“That to a writer, life is a battleground. Life consists of opposites, light and dark, birth and death, good and evil, happiness and misery. We are not sure which one, at any given time, will prevail. BUT IT IS ALL GRIST TO OUR MILL!”

 

Group Think and Double Think

Group Think and Double Think are two similar concepts. In the disturbing novel, “1984” by Orwell, he coined the term “doublethink”. It meant the way people carry on living with contradictory ideas, ideas they don’t believe in, in order to survive under a dictatorship.

Group Think is when people want to CONFORM and stay with the “group” to such a degree that they ignore different views and end up making poor and imperfect decisions.

With Group Think, independent thinking is suppressed. The “group” supposedly takes the moral high ground and everyone wants to conform, nobody wants to be the “bad” guy standing in the way.

I think Group Think has been responsible for government’s bad decisions in many areas. I will cite three examples:

  1. The Migrant Crisis that is going on at the moment. Politicians, pressure groups, and privileged people are all jumping on the “group” bandwagon to open our borders to tens of thousands of refugees and immigrants. I don’t think it’s the right thing to do for the good of the UK or for the people involved!

The people who don’t agree with the “group” big wigs get denigrated. The leaders seem to NOT acknowledge the impact all these people coming in has on services, schools, health, housing, welfare and the country’s culture.

This opening borders decision, because of the “caring” group thinking, has the danger of encouraging many more people to risk their lives on excruciating and sometimes deadly journeys.

  1. The Age of Intervention—Group Think is responsible for the way governments have intervened militarily in the affairs of other nations. These interventions have been dubbed “humanitarian wars”. But we’ve seen the evidence that this jumping on the bandwagon thinking just makes things worse!

When the Cold War ended, the West’s governments wanted to create a sense of purpose for themselves, so they became the world’s policemen.

Because of Group Think, the intervention hasn’t made the world safer, it’s made it more dangerous!

And now, we have the migrant crisis, a mass movement of people from countries that have been meddled with.

  1. The Right to Die Debate—Group Think has continually overridden the

“right to die” advocates. Who would condemn terminally ill people or people who have no quality of life, to months or even years of pain and suffering? All they want is an end to their suffering. But the Group Thinkers push aside the people that want the right of choice to cry “enough” to constant pain.

I think we own our bodies and our life, so it is only human to crave death when there is no hope of a good quality of life. The right to die is a personal choice and has nothing to do with anyone else! But the government group thinkers still don’t express the will of the people in law! They don’t want to give us the choice to have dignity in the end.

***

Because of this phenomenon of Group Think, rational debate is shouted down by people that want to show how “caring” they are!

 

 

A Conversation With The Grim Reaper!

I was sitting on a park bench minding my own business, when up pops the Grim Reaper sitting next to me. I think I was the only one that could see him because the passersby paid no attention.

I kid you not, there he was black-cloaked from head to foot, with his scythe and hourglass. I noticed it wasn’t running out of sand yet in the top section.

“You haven’t come for me, have you?” I said, nervously.

“No, no, you’ve got some time left. I’m just resting.”

“From what I can see your face is quite bony.”

“It’s a skull, it represents the decay of earthly flesh.”

“Your robe and hood are entirely black, is it because you don’t like color?”

“I like black because it is the color of death and morning.”

“What’s the scythe for?”

“It’s for cutting the flesh and extracting the soul.”

“Wow! No wonder they call you, “GRIM.”

“And before you ask, the hourglass represents a person’s life and reminds them that their days are numbered!”

I sat wringing my hands.

“We are the only species burdened with knowing the truth about our biological destiny. WE ALL WILL DIE, SOMEDAY!”

“That’s right, you are very perceptive!”

“Do you have anything less grim to say?”

“Well, I’m not a very upbeat guy.”

“You can say that again.”

“How’s this for upbeat? Humans try to deny the reality of death, by “living on” through their legacies.”

“Oh, do you mean I will “live on” through the novels that I’ve wrote?”

“Exactly! You can also be motivated by me standing behind you.”

“How’s that?”

“As long as you are breathing, and are aware of me behind you, you will really live life to the full and enjoy every moment.”

“Well, Mr. Reaper, I do suffer from Time Anxiety. I fear it might be too late to do all I want to do. I am, after all, 76 years old!”

“My friend, you have to learn to squeeze a lot of life into a little time.”

“What do you recommend?”

“You’re a writer, so write! Through your stories you can weave your life into a coherent and meaningful pattern. You’ve still got time to think about your life and what it all meant. Your story could contain a mix of factual and fictional parts. Keep writing!”

“Thanks for straightening out my situation. I’ve got so many questions for you.”

The Grim Reaper jumped up and said:

“I’m sorry, I’ve got to get going, I’m late for an appointment!”

As he was leaving, I said:

“I HOPE IT’S NOT A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH!”