Two Minds

It was raining that day I met my friend at the pub.

“I have just lost my girlfriend over a heated argument because she was seeing someone else, behind my back, and wanted to break it off between us.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“I hate her and I never want to see her again. I’m better off without her. I feel free now,” my friend shouted.

But as he was saying this, tears welled up in his eyes.

“It’s funny though, I still feel sad when I talk about her. Why is that?”

My friend was looking for answers.

“Bartender, two beers here, please.”

The beers came and we both took long gulps.

“Well, my friend, we all have TWO minds.”

“Two minds? I thought I only had one,” my friend said quizzically.

“No, you have TWO. One that THINKS, the rational mind, this one is very aware, thoughtful and able to ponder, reflect and analyze. And one that FEELS, the emotional mind, which is impulsive, powerful and sometimes illogical.”

“So, how am I to know which one to use?”

“It’s difficult because we can be so reasonable at one moment and so irrational the next.”

“This is getting confusing.”

“Sometimes you don’t have time to decide which mind to use because the emotional mind is quicker than the rational mind, it springs into action without considering what it is doing.”

“Yea, that’s right, sometimes I jump into action and then later think, “What did I do that for?”

“That’s your rational mind kicking in.”

“How can I control these impulses?”

“Well, our feelings come to us as a fait accompli. A thing that has been done and decided and can’t be altered. But the rational mind can CONTROL the course of your reactions. So don’t be overly emotional and react, wait until your thinking can control those reactions.”

“Easier said than done.”

“That’s right, but it can be done if you get into the right habit of thinking before acting.”

“Not all our reactions are shaped by rational judgments, a lot are shaped by our distant past.”

“How’s that? Said my friend, looking perplexed.

“We have lots of automatic reactions left over from our evolutionary history. These reactions were the difference between survival and death.”

“Now it’s getting scary!”

“Relax, I will explain. In the Stone Age we were wired with these emotions(fight or flight) to guide us. It worked well for thousands of generations, but certainly NOT the last ten. The forces of evolution have shaped the way we react and it worked well for a million years, but with the rise of civilization, this emotional evolution sometimes hinders us. So, we confront modern dilemmas with the emotional reactions tailored to life in the Stone Age.”

“WOW!” My friend was gobsmacked!

“Another problem I have is that when someone scowls at me I react with fear.”

“Well, you told me once that you were beaten by your father when you were a child. Your father probably scowled at you before the beatings. Now, you react with fear when someone scowls at you, even though the scowl carries no threat to you.”

Everything you’re telling me is scary. Now you are telling me the PAST imposes itself on the PRESENT.”

“That’s right. But the good news is the two minds, the emotional and the rational operate in harmony for the most part and they guide us. There is a balance between feeling and thinking minds, with emotion informing the thinking mind, and the thinking mind refining and maybe vetoing the emotional inputs.”

We both finished our beers and walked out into the SUNSHINE.

The Man That Had All Three!

I was taking a walk in the park, enjoying nature, when I decided to take a load off my feet. So I sat down on my favorite bench. I regarded it as my bench because I sat there so often. When out of nowhere a bloke sat down next to me.

He seemed to be in a conversation with himself.

After a few minutes of distraction, I said:

“Are you okay, fella?”

He turned to me and gave me a blank look.

“Oh, I didn’t see you there. Oh yes, I’m okay, I just hear voices and see ghosts.”

“Oh, you have hallucinations?”

“Oh no, they are real.”

I was taken aback. My bench mate continued:

“I’m a very important person, you see, so somebody is interviewing me.”

Delusions of Grandeur, I thought.

“I saw a women sawed in half once at the variety show.”

“I think that was an optical illusion.”

“No it wasn’t, I know, I saw it!”

I wondered how I could help this fella.

“People don’t take me seriously,” he interrupted my thoughts.

“It’s no wonder,” I said, “You are an unusual fella in that you have illusions and don’t realize they are illusions. Also, you have delusions and hallucinations. You have all three things that defy reality!”

“What’s wrong with that?” he said, happily.

“Back in olden times they took these things as signs of madness,” I said, trying to shake him loose from his demons.

He smiled and then started laughing.

“Okay, what’s the difference between the three?”

“Well, I’m no psychiatrist, but here’s what I think. An illusion is like when your eyes play tricks on you. Something that seems to be something it is not. A delusion is a false belief with no basis in reality. And, finally, a hallucination is the perception of something, a noise, smell, a sight, that is not there.”

“Well, now I know how I think,” he said, laughing

“You should see a psychiatrist.”

“No, I’m perfectly happy the way I am, thank you.”

And with that, he walked away mumbling to himself.

That Shell Is Heavy, Break Out! Be Bold!

I was attending a Literary Lunch in London with my friend, Jim. He is a short story writer in his spare time and he is considering self-publishing a collection of his stories. I am a full-time writer in my retirement.

There must have been at least a hundred people milling around talking and checking out the books for sale.

We sat down at a table with four other people. After the introductions, I immediately told them I was a writer. All of them asked me about my writing and my books. Once they got me started talking about my passion they couldn’t stop me.

But, Jim just listened and kept quiet. The same happened at the lunch table!

Afterwards, Jim and I went to a pub for a drink.

“Jim, why didn’t you talk about your short stories and your writing?”

“I guess I’m not as bold as you are, Dave,” he mumbled.

“Jim, you have to break out and be yourself instead of being someone you are not.”

“How do I do that?”

“By talking about your passion, writing. Otherwise, your lack of boldness will cause the world to pass you by. Remember, boldness atrophies from lack of use.”

“You seem okay talking about your writing,” said Jim, glumly.

I smiled.

“Of course I am. I’m so wrapped up in my writing that I forget to be afraid of strangers and their judgments!”

Jim was silent for a minute while he contemplated his glass of beer.

“I fear people judging me.”

“You lack boldness because you fear being perceived as a failure. But, the paradox is your lack of boldness is failure!”

Jim was taken aback by that statement.

“I get so nervous when I’m mingling with strangers,” said Jim, wringing his hands.

“The trick is to use your nervousness to your advantage.”

“How do I do that?”

“Take a deep breath and think about your writing and how much you want the public to read it. That should motivate you to start talking. When you act with boldness life will be more exciting and meaningful.”

“Bartender, two more beers here!”

“Now, lets talk a little about our passion, yours and mine, and how it inspires me but so far hasn’t motivated you enough to breakout.”

“Do you recall the conversation at our table?”

Jim nodded.

“I said, “I’m a writer in my retirement.”

“What do you write?”

“Short stories, articles and novels and I have a blog.”

“I then handed out my business cards. I told them about my books and how I come up with ideas. The questions kept coming and I kept talking about my passion.”

“You sure looked like you were enjoying yourself.”

“Jim, you should have jumped in and told them about your short stories. But you kept your light under a bushel. Do not conceal your talents and abilities!”

“I don’t like criticism,” said Jim, sadly.

“You’ll always get criticism when you put your writing out there in the public arena. Most of it will be constructive and positive.”

“I’ll have to psyche myself out.”

“Someone once said and I remember it every time I don’t speak up when I wanted to. The quote is: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

“I see what you mean.”

“Jim, our passions are powerful motivators. They are a state of being. With passion we can accomplish boldness in life.”

“I think I’ve got it! I’m going to put myself out there.”

“Great! Putting yourself out there creates a sense of energy, accountability and support for you. It cements your dreams to be more possible.”

Jim was smiling now.

“Remember:

BE BOLD AND MIGHTY FORCES WITHIN YOU WILL COME TO YOUR AID!”

Self-Publishing Is Great!

I  HAVE  TWO  EBOOKS  AND  ONE  PAPERBACK  FOR  SALE  ON  AMAZON.

I  AM  WORKING  ON  MY  THIRD  NOVEL  AT  PRESENT.

WRITING  IS  A  SATISFYING  CREATIVE  HOBBY  OF  MINE.

NOW,  ANYBODY  CAN  PUBLISH  THEIR  WRITING IN  THE  SELF-PUBLISHING  WORLD.

NO  AGENTS  OR  PUBLISHERS  TO  VET  YOU!

HOLDING  A  BOOK  IN  YOUR  HANDS  THAT  HAS  YOUR  NAME  ON  THE  COVER  OR  LOOKING  AT  YOUR  TITLE  LISTED  ONLINE,  IS  A  WONDERFUL  FEELING.

AND  IT’S  GREAT  TO  EVEN  SELL  SOME  BOOKS  AND  GET  READ!

WHEN  YOU  WRITE  A  BOOK,  YOU  GIVE  IT  YOUR  BEST  SHOT  SO  YOUR  NOVEL  HAS  THE  BEST  CHANCE  OF  FLOATING  IN  THOSE  SHARK-INFESTED  WATERS!

SO,  IF  YOU  WANT A GOOD EXCITING  READ,  BUY:

“WEB  OF  GUILT,  A  CHICAGO  STORY”,  AN  EBOOK.

OR  “24  TRAUMATIC  HOURS,  TWICE!”  AN  EBOOK  AND  IN  PAPERBACK.

 

“I Get So Many Premonitions!”

I was sitting at the bar in my favorite watering hole, wondering what I could write about next. This wasn’t unusual because I am a writer in my retirement years.

Just then a nervous chap jumped up on the stool next to me.

“That looks good,” he said, looking at my drink, “What is it?”

“It’s a gin and tonic with ice and lemon.”

“Bartender, I’ll have one of those gin and tonics.”

He smiled at me and I noticed a facial twitch near the corner of his mouth.

“My name is Jonah, what’s yours?”

“Dave,” I said reluctantly.

“I’m very nervous today, Dave.”

My stool mate, Jonah, started to shake like he had Parkinson’s.

“What’s the problem, Jonah?”

“I’ve had another premonition. I think I’ve got a sixth sense. It’s scary.”

I smiled and ordered another gin and tonic.

“Psychic abilities are not recognized by the scientific community.”

“But Dave, there is so much evidence and support for ESP, even celebrities have premonitions. I get many of them.”

“Jonah, remember the old joke: one person says, “The food in this restaurant is not good.” And the other person says, “I know, and they don’t give you much on your plate either!”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” said Jonah quizzically.

“What the joke tells you is: people tend to think that a large quantity of something can compensate for the lack of quality. What was your recent premonition?”

“Oh, you mean because ESP is in the news so much, there’s got to be something to it.”

“That’s right.”

“My premonition was that I dreamt I would meet an old friend I haven’t seen for years and low and behold, I ran into them in a restaurant. They were at the next table!”

“That’s a sort of coincidence, isn’t it? It’s a coincidence between your dream and an event in the outside world.”

“I still think I have a sixth sense. And anyway, there is so many ESP stories reported in the media, it has to be true. ESP is a fact of life!”

My friend was getting excited now.

“Yes, I will agree that the media reports a lot of strange goings on, and that reinforces your belief.”

“There’s something inside of me that wants to believe in the unknown and the supernatural. Something is willing me to believe,” said Jonah, twitching more than ever.

“Jonah, I know it’s comforting to suggest a belief in, lets say, an afterlife. This can be a very seduction thought.”

“Oh, I had a premonition about that too. I think there is an afterlife!” Jonah interrupted.

“Of course you want to believe, because it opens up the possibility for some part of you to survive death.”

“Oh, wouldn’t that be wonderful, to survive death?”

Jonah’s eyes were gleaming.

“A lot of people would like a ticket to immortality if only there was evidence to back it up, but there isn’t any.”

Jonah looked demoralized now.

“When you say that ESP or any transcendental things don’t exist, you’re taking something away from me that I need,” said Jonah, shouting now.

“Relax Jonah, it’s human nature to want to believe in the unknown and the supernatural, but you’ll save yourself a lot of grief if you face up to the fact that science does not back it up.”

“I’m sorry Dave, I have to believe, even if it just ain’t so! I can’t stop these premonitions.”

Jonah got up to leave:

“I will probably be miserable and depressed until my 50th birthday.”

“Who told you that?”

“A fortune teller I know.”

“Will things improve then?”

“No, she said, “I’ll just get used to it by then!”

I never saw Jonah again!

Chicago Doppelgänger

“Chicago is, and always has been, a grim, violent city, a tough city of many tongues and curiously Chicago is proud of this description.”

This was the blurb on my guidebook to Chicago Crime.

I was on holiday, revisiting my hometown of Chicago. I was passing Holy Name Cathedral, which was on my list of crime sights. I walked up to the cornerstone of the church and touched the bullet hole from the North side gangster’s assassination in 1926. Hymie Weiss to be specific.

Before I walked away, another fella followed me and touched the bullet hole and smiled wickedly. He was a heavy-set chap with a round face, heavy eyebrows, dark eyes and thick lips. There was a slight mark on his left cheek. He was wearing a black suit with white tie and two-toned shoes.

When he was finished stroking the bullet hole he approached me and said:

“That’s where O’Banion’s old flower shop was, right across the street,” he pointed his chubby finger.

I backed away from him, wondering why this stranger was talking to me.

He continued:

“Weiss and his side kick drove to his office above the flower shop. They parked the car and walked past the church. Then Tommy gun fire came from the third floor window of that nearby building. The spray of bullets tore away portions of the church’s cornerstone. As you can see the hole remains today.”

He walked back and touched the bullet hole again and said:

“Pedestrians scattered screaming as the shots broke the silence. Weiss took ten bullets and died at a nearby hospital. His side kick died instantly.”

The stranger then walked away laughing, and seemed to disappear into the distance.

I stood frozen to the spot for a minute. I wondered was this Edward G. Robinson look-a-like really the ghost of the leader of the “Chicago Outfit”, Al Capone?

Did I have a hallucination because of all the crime stories in my head?

My guidebook stated that the police chief announced after the Weiss shooting:

“If people have to be killed, it’s good that the gangsters are killing themselves. It saves trouble for the police!”

I walked away wondering:

DO DEAD MEN TELL STORIES?

 

Write, Writer, Write!

At a literary meeting and lunch I attended, a chap at my table asked me, after discovering I was a writer in my retirement.

“What makes a writer write? Or to put it another way, why do writers write?”

We were all on our second glass of wine, so I wondered if this fella was trying to wind me up or was he serious with his question.

“Do you do any writing?” I asked probing.

“Not really, but I love reading.”

So I decided to take his question seriously.

“There are many motivations and reasons that writers write.”

“How about you personally?”

“Writing gives me great satisfaction but ultimately I want to be READ,” I said forcefully.

“Some people say writers just write in hopes of making lots of money,” said my lunch mate quizzically.

“That is simply not true in 99% of writers.”

“What do you like to write about?”

“My recent book, “24 Traumatic Hours, Twice!”, has a dark theme with plenty of drama and tension. I also throw in a bit of  philosophy.”

I reached for the wine bottle on our table and topped up our glasses.

“What are some other of your reasons for writing?”

“Well, I started writing full time in my retirement. It’s what keeps me alert to the world. There is so much ego food in sharing my unique voice and point of view. There’s a sense of fulfillment that comes with that. My mind is filled with characters and stories and I’m eager to get them on paper.”

“So, you keep a hold on life by writing?”

“That’s right! Writing also allows me to unload my emotions, impressions and opinions. My curiosity about life is my driving force. Writing is therapeutic.”

“Do writers get lonely when they’re writing?”

I smiled and said:

“Writers have a world inside their mind, usually more than one, and you’re never really lonely with all those characters and stories in your head.”

“What are the major goals of writers?”

“To entertain and to inform,” I said confidently.

“Can you elaborate, please?”

“Well, writers are driven by the need to Communicate. With that need is another need, the need to Share, and behind that is the need to be Understood.”

“Writers have lots of needs!” said someone laughing.

“Doesn’t everyone?” I countered.

“How would you conclude this interesting conversation?” said a chap taking a sip of his wine.

“Well, writers write because it’s the way we EXPRESS ourselves best. Everyone has their best method of expression. With writers, it’s words on the page and using those words to connect to an audience. We also desire to leave a legacy. We want to leave something behind that lasts.”

All the lunch guests clapped.

I continued:

“There’s an old adage that says, “The spoken word passes away; the written word abides.”

With that we all clinked our glasses together.

IT’S REMARKABLE!

My second book:

“24 Traumatic Hours, Twice!” which is in paperback and on

the Kindle platform, is selling better as a paperback than as an

ebook, so far.

It’s worthy of attention that many people still like their books in

paper print so they can hold them and turn the pages physically.

But it’s great to be READ no matter whether it’s electronically or

in paperback.

The Joy of Collecting

“Why do people collect things?”

This question was asked at a literary meeting I attended recently. It came up because the people at my table were discussing their collections of books.

“I have a collection of “self-help” books from the 70’s when “self-realization” and “self-fulfillment” were cultural aspirations,” I interjected.

“Oh yes, the aspirations of the Baby Boomers, I remember the time well,” said a senior citizen.

“Lets get back to the question of Why Collect?” someone said loudly.

“Well, I think the motivation sometimes is investment but mostly just for enjoyment. It’s a fun hobby. You can expand your social life by attending swap meetings or you can exchange information with like-minded souls.”

“All this talk of collecting habits reminds me of a story about an elderly lady that collected egg cups. She had 1100 of them in all shapes, sizes and colors.”

“Boy, that’s a lot of egg cups!” someone laughed.

“Well, this lady was a widow and she wanted a companion. She went to a dating agency to find some suitable ones.”

Everyone at the table chuckled.

“She eventually was introduced to a single gentleman who also collected. He had 1500 gnome statuettes!”

They got married and bought a house together. They put their collections in the attic, which was huge. It was the most bizarre thing you ever saw. 1500 gnomes, 1100 with an egg cup beside it.

“Isn’t this a beautiful sight?” said the gentleman to the lady while they were viewing the spectacle.

The lady smiled broadly.

“You’ll have to collect  more egg cups, darling, because 400 gnomes don’t have an egg cup beside them,” said the gentleman.

The old lady spent her remaining years collecting 400 more egg cups to put up in the attic!

This truly was a UNION MADE IN HEAVEN!

Shakespeare Fear!

I was taking a walk in a strange part of town when I came upon a pub named “The Bard”. I often took these walks into the unknown for a change of scene.

 

I decided to go in and have a beer after all I was a writer. The décor was a replica of Elizabethan England. Panels of dark wood on all the walls resplendent with large tapestries hanging all around. There was a lot of red and dark green colours on the booths and barstools. Also on the walls were oil paintings depicting all of Shakespeare’s 38 plays. There was very low lighting.

 

I sat at the bar opposite a painting of the Seven Ages of Man from “As You Like It”. The bartender brought me my beer and before I could take a sip a fella jumped up on the stool next to me. He looked like he was scared to death! He ordered a beer and a shot of whiskey, which is called a “boilermaker” because it will make you hot under the collar quickly! My stool mate gulped down the shot and then took a sip of beer.

 

“Boy, this place is spooky! All these tragedies hanging on the walls, even that picture of the ages of man is scary!”

 

“Are you acquainted with the bard’s work?” I asked, hoping he would calm down.

 

“Not much, I find his stories scary even the comedies.”

 

“Relax, these stories are about life, they are about the human condition. We all go through tragedy and comedy in our lives.”

 

“It’s the way he uses words, they go straight to your soul, it’s like being under analysis by a psychiatrist.”

 

I smiled, this chap was amusing and he didn’t even know it.

 

“You should try reading some of his plays because I’m sure you would enjoy his stories highlighting the human condition.”

 

“Well, I’ve been having bouts of insomnia lately and some hallucinations with voices in my head.”

 

The man needed help. Was Shakespeare the answer, I wondered?

 

“I’ve found that Shakespeare must have had an understanding of how the mind works because he inserted this understanding in his characters.”

 

My stool mate looked incredulous.

 

“You mean to tell me that reading Shakespeare can inspire me to be more reflective about my own behavior?”

 

“That’s right! Look at the symptoms you’ve just stated. They suggest impaired cognitive function and mild psychiatric breakdown.”

He was staring into space, now.

 

“What play did that come from?” He stammered.

 

“Macbeth, he had the same symptoms.”

 

“My father has dementia, any play with that in?”

 

“Yes, King Lear, his speech was impaired with madcap outbursts. He veered from not recognizing his own daughter to moments of clarity, all suggesting dementia.”

 

“Wow! All that from reading Shakespeare! I have a friend with bipolar disorder, any play with that in?”

 

“Yes, Hamlet, his mood swings and rage, his highs and lows made him melancholic and impulsive, which are indicative of bipolar disorder.”

 

“My God, this is amazing and spookier than ever!”

 

“So my friend, you don’t need to fear Shakespeare, just read him for an illumination of the Human Experience.”

 

“What about his confusing language?”

 

“He coined many words and phrases in the English language. If he couldn’t find the word he was looking for, he invented it!”

 

“Well, after listening to you I’m not sure if I should study Shakespeare.”

 

“Think it over carefully,” I told him firmly.

 

He walked out the door mumbling:

 

“TO READ OR NOT TO READ, THAT IS THE QUESTION!”