I was having lunch at a restaurant with a friend and he was telling me about an acquaintance of his that was sick and would require a long drawn out treatment. The treatment would not be pleasant and it would go on for weeks!

“He knows he will have to endure it to the end so he can feel good again.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, but there are ways of thinking to help him get through this bad period.”

“What are they?’ My friend asked eagerly.

The waiter came over and asked if we were ready to order.

“Not just yet, but you can bring us a bottle of the house red wine, please.”

“Well, let me start by saying there is something in the center of our being that is a kind of wisdom that sees beyond sickness and unhappiness. It is the part of you that is POSITIVE. It is the part of you that isn’t disturbed when the circumstances of your life go sour.”

We both took a sip of our wine.

“How does this deep part of us stay positive?”

“This place I’m talking about is the center core of you where contentment lives. It is NOT interested in what happens, it is interested in how you RELATE to what happens. In this case your friend’s sickness that requires arduous treatment.”

“How do you tap into this deep core?”

“This core is concerned with your healthy functioning. You have to think good thoughts and you can do this because you are the creator of your thoughts.”

My luncheon mate looked worried.

“But my friend is feeling quite a bit of emotional pain, having to face up to this treatment.”

“That’s why it’s important to concentrate on what kind of thoughts you are having about the illness. It’s the negative thoughts about the condition that creates the emotional pain!”

“I’m confused, it’s so difficult to deal with illness!”

“Of course it’s difficult, BUT, the fact that you MUST see the treatment to the end is all the more reason to think positively and live through it with a peaceful inner feeling, rather than to be eaten up by the illness.”

“Okay, how do you get this good feeling even though you are ill?”

“You vow to yourself that you are going to enjoy every moment as much as you can regardless of the illness and treatment. Think thoughts that inspire you to soldier on. The treatment isn’t going to last forever! Good thoughts will make you feel good. Such is the power of THOUGHT!”

My friend was shaking his head.

“Okay, so how do you get rid of negative thoughts?”

“Your DISMISS them and put good thoughts in your head. You have that CHOICE.”

“It seems to me you’re talking about denying your illness.”

“No, I’m not talking about denial. I’m saying if you are sick you must face the truth. But you don’t have to ruin every moment with bad thinking about your condition. Negative thinking breeds suffering. Try to enjoy the present until the end of the treatment. It will pass quickly. Remember, the NOW is all anyone has.”

“So what’s your final thought on this matter before we order lunch,” said my friend, looking relaxed.

“Know you have the choice to feel good through good thoughts. Live in the present and enjoy it.”


The Marvels Of The Classics!

I was in my Scriptorium (study) writing my second novel when the doorbell broke my train of thought.

It was my Long Lost Cousin (LLC), who I hadn’t seen for a few weeks. I almost thought he was going to become “long lost” again after we have been re-united!

I ushered him into the lounge.

“Hi cousin, what have you been up to lately?” he asked nonchalantly.

“Well, I just finished posting my current blog.”

“Oh, I was going to ask you how you come up with your blog stories? They are very interesting.”

“Well, I try to write blogs that are relevant and topical, about issues that affect people. I create a character with a problem that puts them in conflict with themselves (in their mind) and others. Then comes the narrative and dialogue tension. I try to help the character through their problem (through research) which is interesting information for the reader. I inject some humor, but there is always a serious side to the story. I do all this in about 500 to 600 words!”

“Boy! Cousin, that’s a terrific recipe for a short post.”

“I think so,” I smiled.

“I notice a few classics on your bookshelf. What is a classic, anyway? And what makes them interesting to you?” LLC looked pensive.

“You are full of questions today!”

“Yes, I feel like expanding my brain today!” LLC said laughing.

“Not so long ago, I met an interesting fella at a literary lunch. He told me he had read many of the classics in literature in his life and he talked constantly about them.”

My cousin looked very interested in my tale.

“This chap held all of us at the table spellbound! When we mentioned a book he would tell us the deeper meaning of the story in his opinion.”

He was better than all the speakers that day!

“This chap whet my appetite to do some study of the classics myself. And the first question I had, was just like you, what is a classic?”

“Well, I’m glad I asked an intelligent question,” smiled LLC.

“Shall we have a drink, cousin? Whiskey on the rocks?”

“Oh, that sounds great.”

I brought our drinks and we both savored our first sip!

I continued, “A classic is a written work that is TIMELESS and TIMELY! They’re NOT stale and dusty as some people think. Many of us have grown up with these stories but really didn’t understand their deeper meanings.”

“So cousin, reading the classics will help us understand history better and make it come alive.”

“That’s exactly correct. The classics have insights in them that challenge us, today and tomorrow!”

“So, the ideas in the classics are timeless and topical.”

“Right cousin, hence, Shakespeare is for “all the ages!”

We both pondered that thought while we took another sip of our drink.

“What are you into at the moment as far as studying the classics?”

“At the moment I’m into the American classics. Reading these books is like a window into the culture of the time the author was writing in.”

“So, you will learn a lot about America?”

“Right on, cousin. The American classics are the STORIED past of the country.”

“What will you be reading about?”

“I’ll be reading about the Salem Witch Trials, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Gold Rush, the Great War of 1914-1918, the glitzy 20’s and the depression 30’s. Stories of human experience in these times, so we understand them better.”

“So, they will supply you with the “inside” story.”

“Yes, they will because the events will appear to us through the author’s writing, as the dynamics of living people in the stories, rather than facts and dates that people memorize!”

“It all sounds very interesting. I think I will get into the classics.”

We both finished our whiskeys.

“Yes, by all means get started on the classics. You will learn so much. For example, the decline of values after WW1 and then the Great Depression come to us in the descriptive writing of Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Steinbeck. These authors speak in their moment and give us understanding of the past that echoes right up to the present!”

“I can’t wait to get started.”

“Good for you, cousin. Enjoy the world of classic literature.”

There was a moment of silence as if everything we were discussing was sinking into our minds, like a sponge!

“Someone once said, “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say!”

“Hey! I like that quote,” said LLC as he was leaving.

“One final thought before you go:


Identity Crisis!

I was perched on a green padded stool at my favorite watering hole waiting for my Long Lost Cousin to join me. We were recently re-united after fifty years!

After a few minutes, he climbed up onto a stool next to me and said in a choked voice: “I’m a bag of nerves since I retired.”

He did look pale and drawn.

“What’s the matter?’ I said, signaling the bartender for two more beers.

“I don’t want a beer, get me a whiskey.”

The bartender served up our drinks in record time.

“Now, that we have the drinks we want, what is all the anxiety about?”

“I had a dream last night and this voice kept asking me questions.”

“What did this voice say?”

“Well, it started out saying: “Now that you’re retired,” and then it continued, “Who are you? Where are you going? And where do you belong?”

My cousin’s eyes were bulging out of his head!

“Oh, it’s the old bug-a-boo, “Identity Crisis.”

“Yes, it’s a crisis alright! Ever since I retired from my job of 25 years, I’ve been at loose ends.”

My cousin drank his whiskey and ordered another!

“You retired a couple of years ago. How did you cope with those questions?”

LLC stared at me waiting for my wisdom.

“Well, I think it boils down to identity management, in other words, changing your identity. Get out of the work box you were in for 25 years!”

“Okay cousin, I repeat, how did you answer those questions?”

My LLC was pushing me for answers. I hoped I could satisfy him.

He broke into my thoughts and said: “And another thing, I feel like I’m invisible since I retired. People seem to ignore me! Why is that?”

“Boy oh boy, cousin, you’re really bombarding me with questions. Maybe we can tie both problems together. The identity crisis and the invisible feelings.”

We sat in silence for a minute. My cousin was shifting his weight on the stool.

“Well, lets start with the thought that we live in a “youth-obsessed” society and also a “work-oriented” society. So, when you retire, people tend to think you’re no longer a person of interest! Your opinions are not noteworthy! That is a prejudice that many people hold.”

“That’s a nasty prejudice to have,” said my cousin, angrily.

“Granted, but it’s a fact of life!”

“So, what do we do about it?” LLC was demanding.

“We have many identities, but when we retire from our life-time work, we lose that framework identity. So, we have to grow another identity, so to speak.”

“How do we do that?”

“By cultivating different interests. Every action we take has meaning to us and to others. This is why it is critical to shape our identities to our present circumstances.”

“I’m confused,” said LLC, rolling his eyes.

“Well, our identities are not fixed, they can be changed. Your new identity could bring more pleasure and happiness into your life. It’s great to explore new realities and ways of being.”

“It’s starting to get clearer.”

“Okay, let me answer those questions that I came to grips with when I retired. Then you can use my example as a guide.”

“When I retired I knew I would need some interest to fill the hours and to fulfill me as a person. I was always interested in writing but my daily work life used up most of my time. Now, I was free to create another identity. I began writing again.”

“That must have been a great feeling.”

“It was cousin, now let me answer the questions:

Who Am I?-I’m Writer Dave, a writer who gets great satisfaction out of creating stories and having them read by others. I belong to writer groups and I attend writer conferences that give me a wider social context. I also feel that I am a separate and unique individual, which is very important.”

I took a deep breath and continued:

Where Am I Going?-I’m directing my life toward learning how to write better. My goals are to write my blog and more novels in the future.

Where Do I Belong?-I belong and am accepted in the writer circles that I circulate in.”

“Wow! That’s great cousin. You sound very satisfied.”

“I’ll leave you with this, the older I get, the more I understand how my mind works. My identity is an essential part of my being which gives me satisfaction and stability in my life.”

“Cousin, I feel better already.”

And with that, my LLC left the building!