Relax Cousin!

I answered my front door, it was late, 10 PM. There stood my cousin looking like he could kill someone!

“I’m so angry, I have to talk to someone.”

I ushered him in and sat him down. His eyes were bloodshot and protruding and he started cracking his knuckles. I got each of us a can of beer.

“Well, what’s wrong?”


“Relax!” I said.

“The other day I was late getting up for work. On the way in, some jerk cut in front of me on the expressway.”

“Cousin, this anger isn’t any good for your blood pressure.”

“I know, I’ve taken two high blood pressure pills before I came here.”

“What did you do when you were cut off?”

“I did what any red-blooded man would do, I kept on his tail and honked my horn repeatedly.”

“Cousin, when you get upset, you shouldn’t react with anger. You should act the opposite, it might help.”

He looked like he wasn’t listening!

“Then when I got to work, I started getting pains in my right leg. The company doc said it was probably happening because I was getting older! I said: “Hey, Doc, my left leg is just as old and it doesn’t hurt at all!”

He sent me home to rest!

“Then to top it all off, my girlfriend came over with reservations for a Mexican restaurant. I told her Mexican food gives me indigestion.”

She said: “I like Mexican food!”

My cousin gritted his teeth.

“You see, it’s all about her, it’s what she wants all the time.” He raised his voice!

“What did you do then?”

“I refused to go and get indigestion!”

“And your girlfriend?”

“She left in a huff and I haven’t seen her since. I’m so angry with her.”

“Cousin, breathe deeply, in and out. Now calm down.”

“What can I do to handle this anger?” he said, anxiously.

“Well, you need to learn some coping self-talk, a sort of self-instruction when you feel yourself going over the edge.”

“What do you mean?” His voice was shaking a bit.

“When someone, like your girlfriend, upsets you, you need to remind yourself to relax and manage your emotions.”

“Do I have to talk out loud to myself?”

“No, you can think your self-talk in silence.”

“Cousin, do you have some examples of this self-talk?”

“Yes, when you feel your anger rising with someone, say to yourself: I’m not going to let them get to me, or say: I can’t change them with anger; I’ll just upset myself”

“Thanks cousin, I think I’ve got the gist of it.” He actually smiled!

“You have to learn to control your anger before it controls you!”

“Thank you, you are so helpful.” He left smiling!

The next day, he called me and said: “I got an email from my girlfriend asking me to return her picture because she was breaking up with me. This didn’t bother me at all. I simply collected several girls’ pics and sent them to her and asked to please keep hers and send back the rest. I can’t recall who you were!”

He laughed out loud, “HOW’S THAT FOR ANGER MANAGEMENT?”

The Memory Party

I have a strong and continuing desire to write my life story. Why? Because I want to make some sense of my life and also, to leave a legacy.

The problem I am having is that I can’t remember events in my life too clearly. I can’t even retrieve them out of my memory, and if I could, sometimes, was it true or distorted!

So, imagine my excitement when I read this advert in the newspaper:



(Cash Bar and free Nibbles)


That night I went to the address in the paper. It was a high-class neighborhood. I was glad I wore my suit. I knocked on the door and it opened as if by magic. I walked into a large room with many people milling around. A tall old man approached me with two cocktails.

“Would you like a drink?” he said, handing me a cocktail.

“Thank you, I thought you had a cash bar here?”

“The first one is complimentary,” he smiled.

I took a sip of my drink, it was strong but delicious!

“Let me introduce myself, my name is Autobio Memory aka Event Memory.”

“I’m Dave Wilson, glad to meet you.”

“Lets go over to the bar and have a chat.”

Now I’ll have to pay for my drinks, I thought. Maybe even pay for Autobio’s as well!

“So, Dave, you’re having problems remembering things for your life story.”

“How did you know that?”

“That’s usually the reason people come to these parties.”

I was looking around for the free nibbles.

The old gentleman smiled and said:

“You know if you could live your life over again, you could write things down as they happen!”

I laughed. “I wouldn’t have the strength to live it over again!”

“Well, Dave, I’m an expert in replaying the events in your life. Do you remember how and when you met your wife?”

“Oh yes, it was on a blind date and we met at a party my brother set up.”

I turned to the barkeep and ordered another drink.  When I turned back to Autobio, another fella was standing there!

“Can you tell me what is 6×5?”

“Of course, it’s 30.”

My companion smiled, “You got the answer right away. I’m Fact Memory. I deal in the facts you have learned about the world.”

Another well-dressed man joined in the conversation.

“I’m Learning Memory. I’m the one who taught you how to orchestrate your motions to perform some behavior. Like you learned to dance or even talk.”

All of a sudden I was surrounded by many people!

“I’m Memory Cue. I make your memories come to the forefront via a cue. Memories don’t always come to mind on their own!”

I nodded.

“I’m Repressed Memories. I help people forget traumatic memories.”

I was starting to get dizzy!

“Hello, I’m Unreliable Memory. When you try to recall some event, a few highlights come to mind, but not everything. That’s where I come in. I reconstruct the rest of the memory, adding bits and pieces. This is how recalled events get distorted!”

“Hey buddy, you know me, I’m Memory Interference. When you learn new stuff it interferes with the older memories. So the old ones are harder to retrieve.”

I ran out the door and down the street. I finally stopped, out of breath. What was that all about? My mind went BLANK!

I decided then and there to forget about writing my life story! IT’S TOO HARD IF YOU CAN’T REMEMBER ANYTHING!



“Web of Guilt” by David Wise out now on Amazon Kindle

Hurray For Meditation!

One day my cousin came visiting unexpectedly.

“Come in, you look kind of haggard!” I commented, upon noticing his heavy breathing and pinched expression.

“My mind is full of voices, it’s like a committee meeting with lots of points of view, all wanting to be heard.”

I ushered him to a chair and sat opposite him.

“This sounds serious.”

“I’m in a constant state of frenzy!”

“You sound like you’re a candidate for meditation.”

“Is that where you just sit and do nothing?”

“It will make you flexible enough to kick your own butt, if necessary!”

He stared at me wide-eyed!

“I’ll help you get into it.”

“Thank you, cousin.”

“First, there is the position.” I took a cushion from the settee and placed it on the floor.

“What’s that for?”

“Now, sit down on the cushion cross-legged.”

My cousin proceeded to sit like an Indian on the floor.

“Now, you are going to pay attention to your breathing. Take deep breaths, inhale and exhale slowly, to bring calmness to your body.”

“Hey, that feels good and relaxing.”

“Now, you need to concentrate on your daily frustrations: When the alarm wakes you up, how does that make you feel? Do you feel minor aches and pains? When you’re in the bathroom and you look in the mirror, are you pleased with what you see? On your way to work, does the traffic bother you? Does someone at work say something to injure your feelings? How do you feel about that? So, at the end of the day, how did you handle life’s little irritations?

My cousin yelled:

“It’s the world that’s to blame for so many daily irritations.”

“I’m sorry, the world is not to blame. The problem is that you expect too much from the world. Now, relax and keep breathing deeply.”

“I feel a little better, but I have another problem. I’ve been thinking a lot about my own death recently, since I lost my mother. I’m afraid of aging and death!”

“Keep breathing, inhale and exhale. You must confront your feelings about death, to free yourself from the fear. You must liberate yourself so you have an appreciation for every moment, your have to get on with the business of living!”

My cousin had a gleam in his eye, like an inner light.

“Our culture conditions us to avoid thinking about death. We turn the dead over to a funeral home and they take care of everything, disposing of the body, so we don’t have to.”

“So, how do I face up to my own mortality?”

“You have to come to grips with the idea that our lives are transitory. You will have to repeat these lines over and over to yourself: One-I will get old, if I’m lucky, it’s unavoidable. Two- I am subject to sickness. Three-My death is unavoidable. Four- I will be separated from everyone and everything in this world. Five-Whatever I do, either good or bad, I will reap and leave as a legacy. Facing your own demise through reflection is essential to living a full, enjoyable life.”

“So, the more I repeat those lines, the less I will fear death, and I will want to get out there and enjoy my present moments and live.”

“You’re getting the idea now,” I smiled.

“Well, thanks cousin, for getting me started on meditation.”

“I’m glad I helped you.”

As he walked out the door he exclaimed:

“If I can survive my fear of death, I can survive anything! Death is hereditary!”

I shouted after him: “Keep breathing deeply!”



“WEB of GUILT” BY DAVID WISE, available on Amazon Kindle.

The Dreaded Drinking Habit, Plus Others!

One day, when I was perched on a green padded stool at my favorite watering hole, a fella climbed onto the stool next to me. He sighed heavily and said:

“My wife has threatened to leave me because of my nasty habits!”

His eyes were gazing upwards, like the answer to his problem was on the ceiling.

“What nasty habits do you have?”

He started drumming his fingers on the bar.

“I come in here after work everyday and have a few drinks, even on weekends. My wife says I have a drinking problem.”

“Why do you drink so much?”

“It relaxes me after work, so I can face the problems my “old lady” will tell me about when I get home. I don’t know what the answer is to my drinking addiction.”

“Well, alcohol is not the answer, it just makes you forget the question!”

He ordered a stein of beer. The barkeep brought his beer and he just stared at it.

“What’s the matter?”

“Well, my heart says yes, my brain says no, and I haven’t heard from my liver in a long, long time.”

He started laughing so hard he almost fell off the stool!

“It wasn’t that funny,” I said.

He turned to me and raised one eyebrow and gave me a glassy stare.

“That’s what my wife says, it’s number four on my nasty habit list. I laugh at my own jokes and they’re not funny to other people.”

He gulped down his beer and ordered another.

“I love these green padded stools, don’t you?”

“Yes, they are nice and comfortable,” I humored him.

I was wondering what kind of crackpot was sitting next to me.

The crackpot continued:

“Okay, number one, I have a drinking problem. Number two, I burp a lot. Number three, I pass gas constantly. Number four, I told you already. One leads to the other, but the others stem from my drinking, according to my wife.”

He drained his stein and ordered another beer. This guy wanted to get looped fast.

“How can I break the drinking habit and by doing that get rid of the other three?”

I thought to myself, I might as well try to help this guy.

“Bartender, bring my friend another beer.”

“Thank you very much,” said my crackpot friend.

He proceeded to take large gulps of beer.

“You see, you should have refused that drink.”

He shook his head in frustration.

“You have to learn to pace yourself. Drink slower and take small sips. That way you will also taste your drink better.”

“But I’m a fast drinker.”

The crackpot then burped and passed gas at the same time! He did have very nasty habits!

“You could try going “cold turkey”, complete abstinence.”

“I couldn’t do that, my brain wouldn’t recover from the shock!”

“How about replacing the habit with something else, like drinking fruity drinks instead of alcohol?”

“Oh God, I don’t know if I could face my wife cold sober! On second thought maybe my liver would start talking to me again.”

This guy was starting to scare me!

“Well, my final piece of advice is to wear a rubber band around your wrist and snap it hard when you feel the urge to do any of your four nasty habits. Pain will turn your attention away from your bad habits. But be sure to reward yourself when you stay on track.”

“That suggestion sounds alright. Bartender give me a rubber band.”

The barkeep supplied the crackpot with a thick rubber band. He put it around his wrist and gave it a good snap.

“Ouch, that smarts.”

He got off his stool and headed for the door, all the while snapping the band. His wrist is going to be raw after all his snapping, I thought.

As he walked out the door, he shouted:

“Mr. Liver, where ever you are, will you talk to me now?”



My novel “Web of Guilt” is out on Amazon Kindle.