Saturday, November 2, 2019

Too Late Smart?

The English language seems to have enough words; over one hundred and seventy thousand at last count, yet there is a feeling I have these days with no word to describe it accurately. One word comes close - peace. Yet that word has too many other connotations. This sort of peace isn't the one that contrasts with war, for instance. It is better thought of as a calmness, a feeling of assuredness; no matter what goes on or how bad it seems, all will be well. Maybe serenity comes closer. Is there some word that is a combination of peace and serenity?

In order to experience this feeling, I have a 'feeling' that one has to live long enough and have done enough things that one has regretted. After all of that, one needs to have accepted all of those follies, too. It might help to have done enough things that fall under the category of necessary but not generally acceptable

In the Bible we read about a peace that passes all understanding. Keep in mind that I am not a religious person. In fact, I actively eschew religion in favour of a spiritual experience of eternity. Even so, it seems that this peace I feel is comparable to that referred to in Philippians 4:7, giving me a calmness of spirit, even though I feel no specialness because of it. 

There is still so much to learn; this isn't about being done or perfect in any way. This post is here because it seems to me that if I can manage it, this sort of peace must be accessible to anyone. What exactly one needs to do, other than live long enough, I cannot say. There is no recipe or religious experience that can do the job. 

A very good school friend's father had a plaque in the living room with a saying that always amused me. Now that I am older than his father was then, it is starting to make more sense. 
Ve git too soon ohlt und too late Schmart

Even Lucy knows how important serenity is ...

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Just a Walk

The temperature was perfect, with a slight breeze; the sky, clear with just a few fluffy clouds down on the horizon; a bright cheery morning for a walk to the grocery store. 

My wireless earbuds were beckoning. I have at least ten podcasts on my phone that have been waiting patiently to be heard. Yet something said, just walk, listen, and see. 

There is always something interesting if you look about. I wanted to say something to the teenaged boy who passed with his head down - he looked as though he had lost his only friend. I didn't of course, even though my imagination built a scenario that started with "Hello there ... you look like you need an ear to listen. Maybe someone who won't judge you, like me, would help? ... and ended with, ... thank you so much for saying hello this morning. I feel so much better!" 

Of course, I live in a city, not a small town, so speaking to a stranger could just as easily end badly. A sad comment on modern life. 

The antics of the dogs playing in the dog park as I approached gave me a chuckle, then I almost laughed out loud as they came over to the fence, not to bark at me, but to greet a friend they were clearly expecting as she was getting out of her master's car.  Hi!! Hi!!!! good to see you ... Hi!!! come and run and play with us!! 

Heading down the hill, I paused to have a short conversation with a very busy member of the community; Ms. Rabbit. 

I see you left your dogs at home ... very good 

... mmm this one is very tasty ... 

wait a second!! I smell dog ...

She waited until a dog walking his mistress got just about in striking distance and then zipped into the undergrowth, without even saying nice talking with you

Those podcasts can definitely wait for another time and not while I am enjoying a walk. So many other things to do. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Wherever I Find It

"There is no problem so big that it cannot be run away from."... 
"You're quoting Snoopy the dog, I believe?" 
"I'll quote the truth wherever I find it thank you."

- Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

“It says in the brochure," said Arthur, pulling it out of his pocket and looking at it again, "that I can have a special prayer, individually tailored to me and my special needs." 
- "Oh, all right," said the old man. "Here's a prayer for you. Got a pencil?"
- "Yes," said Arthur. 
- "It goes like this. Let's see now: "Protect me from knowing what I don't need to know. Protect me from even knowing that there are things to know that I don't know. Protect me from knowing that I decided not to know about the things that I decided not to know about. Amen." That's it. It's what you pray silently inside yourself anyway, so you may as well have it out in the open." 
- "Hmmm," said Arthur. "Well, thank you"
- "There's another prayer that goes with it that's very important," continued the old man, "so you'd better jot this down, too, just in case. You can never be too sure. "Lord, lord, lord. Protect me from the consequences of the above prayer. Amen." And that's it. Most of the trouble people get into in life comes from missing out that last part.”

― Douglas Adams

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Ends of the Earth

I often wonder why it is that we, as a species, spend so much energy thinking about things that only matter when we imagine ourselves to be in some sort of extreme situation, even though we spend most of our time nowhere near the ends of the earth.

On his television program The Day The Universe Changed, James Burke repeated a story. It seems that someone once observed to the philosopher Wittgenstein how stupid medieval Europeans living before the time of Copernicus must have been that they could have looked up at the sky and thought that the sun was going around the earth. Wittgenstein was said to have replied yes, but I wonder what it would have looked like if the sun had been going around the earth? The answer is, of course, that it would have looked identical. It is only because we are told what is "actually going on" that makes us think as we do.

There are some folks who still believe the earth is flat. For the most part, observation would agree with them. I've been in a plane at 30,000 feet and it only seems to be slightly curved, but I suspect I noticed that because I believe we live on a huge globe. It must be discouraging for that group that nobody has ever taken snaps while standing at the ends of the earth, which I think they believe to be along the Antarctic ridge that circles the earth with a circumference of ... oh well, never mind that. And let's not even get started on the great space program hoax that has been foisted on us all. The National Enquirer is missing a trick there for sure.

Darwin's observations on the origin of species caused an uproar because they eventually changed the way most of us think about natural history. I do have to wonder, though, for the average person, why it matters whether species have evolved or species were created in an instant by some supernatural power.

The belief that the earth is a globe doesn't make us do anything differently, apart from airline pilots who plot great circle routes believing it will save fuel. The sun still "rises" and "sets" for everyone apart from those who live in the far north or south, and that circling about phenomenon can be explained - somehow - I guess.

More particularly, I often wonder why I spend so much energy wondering about those sort of things, when, quite obviously, so many of my fellow travellers on this orb seem to be absorbed by more immediate and important things; things such as what some movie star is wearing, or who they are courting, or what team is winning on some "reality" game show, or how a favourite sports team is doing.

At the moment, two young men who are the subject of a manhunt in northern Manitoba desperately need an epiphany to help them live a bit longer. If we believe the news, just for kicks, they murdered three people along highways in British Columbia, then fled in a stolen SUV across the prairies toward the east. I'm not really sure what to do with that information.

I believe all of this stuff (about how planets move because of the curvature of space-time for instance), and yet for all the wonderful-yet-not-very-applicable beliefs I have, none of it does me a bit of good when trying to help my children and the rest of humanity cope with this crazy world.

I do have some spiritual beliefs that protect me, in the very long term, from falling into despair, but they are ends of the earth beliefs, not here-and-now-I-can-help-everyone-get-through-this-trauma beliefs.

Just in case you need to escape from reality (some fuzzy bunny distraction as Coline and I call it) here is a link to a topic that is so unimportant to the daily lives of people on the planet as to be laughable. I will admit to being fascinated by it all. It makes me happy to visualize the planets circling about - the earth rotating once a day with its moon slowly circling. It helps me to think there are things I might actually understand. I definitely cannot fathom a world where those two young people managed to come to this end; hiding from death at the hands of so many soldiers and police, somewhere near the ends of the earth.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Shame on Us

We are an amazingly diverse species. Our diversity and adaptability has allowed us to survive and then thrive, spreading over this planet of extremes. Interestingly, the fact that humans have moved to those less comfortable parts of the planet might come from our tendency, as a group, to drive away those who are most diverse; those who are not 'like us'. The most diverse, and therefore, the less desirable folk became pioneers.

Ironically, one of the last great migrations, the one from Europe to North America, fuelled, at least partially, by religious persecution, seems to have given rise to one of the less tolerant populations of the world. 

Historically, those who are different, even if their differences cannot possibly harm others, were liable to be treated badly. That word is taking the place for a variety of ways we treat those seen as other.

A good example of treating someone badly is enslavement. After all, why not take advantage of being in the group with more power, to get others to do all of the work you would rather not do? Better still, make them do it for free, and while you are at it, give yourself a real treat and do unspeakable and harmful things to that slave under the pretext of superiority. Holdover behaviours in the present from times of slavery in Canada and the United States are subtle and pervasive, but I digress. Hold that thought ...

Badly might mean assuring those whose diversity makes them part of the LGBTQ spectrum live in shame, and if possible, making laws to control them, just in case they don't care what you think. 

Religions have used the laying on of guilt to assure what they see as proper behaviour. Of course, threating hell and other sorts of fire was their technique of choice up until the 17th century. Religions were in the vanguard in the area of law-making, telling the "faithful" that if they gave comfort to those diverse folk, they would be treated to the same sort of punishments. These days, churches that specialize in shaming members into toeing the line are by far the most popular and rich, while liberal churches have found their congregations dwindling. 

It seems to me that rather than being angered by seeing someone who is of a different from them in some way that truly shouldn't matter at all, people should get angry at others who do really stupid things, such as throwing their rubbish onto the street rather than putting it into a garbage container. Maybe that person who leaves their shopping cart in the middle of a parking spot or in the roadway instead of putting it where they found it should be shamed for treating the rest of us as though we don't matter.  

Perhaps we should shame those who carelessly reflect the failings of our past, bigotry large among them, in their behaviour today. Personally, I wish it was possible to lay a bit of 'shame on you' on people who try to control how others live their lives. Shame on anyone who advocates cuts to public education and medical coverage while at the same time telling us they are "pro-life". 

Better still, get upset and shame someone who writes silly blog posts, railing against human behaviours that may be so entrenched into our cultures that we cannot hope to leave them behind. 

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  ~  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

And for something to lighten the mood, a cartoon by Paul Kinsella

History of Religion

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Moving On or Moving Forward?

Major life events are hopefully joyous, sometimes earth-shatteringly devastating, and mostly in between those emotional extremes. Transition was, for me, a combination of things in that middle range. 

Lost family, and people who I thought of as friends closer than family, who are gone because I finally acted on impulses that had driven me (mostly crazy) all my life, are always with me. I cannot forget the pain of loss even if, from their point of view, it was all my fault. These people are with me just as my grandparents, who raised me and died decades ago, are with me daily. 

My spouse of forty years who couldn't stay in love with me as a woman isn't someone I hate. Memories of our times together, places we went, and people we only knew together are always going to be part of me. The love we had is part of me.  

There is so much for me to be happy about now; including a spouse who I know inside out, and who knows me the same way and loves all of me ... wow! 

Because I have continued to live and grow since the time when loss occurred, I do not feel at all guilty for the joy I feel now. Why should I? After all, that joy has to do with all the experiences, sorrows, and happiness I had before.

So, when they see that I'm happy, some might say, "you have moved on". I've never felt that way though. Moving on seems to imply forgetting. My experience is more like moving ahead. 

Nora McInerny knows about loss at a scale none of us want to experience, and she knows about moving forward with it, and expresses these feelings and thoughts eloquently in this TED talk

Monday, May 27, 2019

Fixing a Hole

After the doctor's appointment, I headed back to my car. Rounding the corner to the area where I had parked, slightly preoccupied, I was forced to swerve suddenly to avoid two women standing right in my way, cigarettes in their hands. I didn't have time to notice the trash can with a nasty bit of sharp metal sticking out. The good news; it didn't connect with any part of my body. The bad news; it caught a bit of the bottom of my blouse and there it was - a 1 cm (3/8 inch for my US readers) wide hole, ruining my blouse! Grrrr... I liked that top, and now it was garbage.

At home, K reminded me of the suggestion Tom sent in an earlier post to my other blog. His wife Lucy mended his shirt in a decorative way. The problem became an opportunity!

Here is a snap of the repaired blouse:


Don't you love it when a plan comes together?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Accepting Responsibility

Life can only be understood backwards;
but it must be lived forwards

Søren Kierkegaard
While in university, many decades ago, as part of first year studies at a university that believed in a well-rounded education, I took my first humanities course; Ancient Near Eastern Studies. While I had never enjoyed a history class before, this was a revelation. In retrospect they were right to require such a course in a bachelor of arts program; it turned out most of what I studied of value while at university had nothing to do with mathematics, and I ended my stay there with a  bachelor degree, major in mathematics and minor in humanities. At any rate, in second year I studied existential thought. Required readings included Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling and The Sickness Unto Death along with some of Sartre's writings. 

Under the heading of wondering where ideas come from, I intend to re-read some of Kierkegaard's writings, if only to see how closely the author's understanding of religion and submission to a higher power parallel my own (or vice versa, I suppose). 

A couple of things that I took away from those readings years ago stand out. First, they reinforced my belief that, although the religious in society didn't want you to accept this, one isn't less of a Christian if you keep your devotion private. In fact, the true Christian is privately devoted first, and publicly devoted second - if at all.

The other thing I took away is that one should accept responsibility for the consequences of their decisions. Perhaps I should have found more balance in this part of my education. As a people-pleaser, taking responsibility came way too easily to me. In retrospect, it would have been a good thing for me to have given some blame to others. I might even have showed anger (heaven forbid) at their behaviour as a way to clear the air. A good argument might have made some relationships stronger. Sadly, you can't go back and fix things. 

It seems to me that a positive result of being determined to take responsibility through one's life is a fearlessness when contemplating consequences. Because you have faced and accepted tough situations without blaming others, you tend to be more decisive when facing choices. Oh, I always gather as much information as possible, but when my mind is made up, it takes me no time to act.

In the future* I intend to remember that taking all the responsibility for situations and being decisive aren't necessarily ways to make lots of friends, in fact you may lose some.

*I've heard the phrase "Going forward" used instead of "In the future" so often lately that it came to mind. I really dislike that phrase but I'm not sure why. 

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Where Did All the Crap-Detectors Go?

There is a phrase young folk use that I really like. When someone is saying something that they know can't be true, something that sets off their crap-detector, they tell them "I'm calling bullshit on that!"

The term crap-detector might have been coined, and was certainly used, by Earnest Hemingway, writing about the qualities a good writer must have. My personal use of the term stretches back into my youth. Young folk should always be suspicious and I certainly was.

In my opinion, the purpose of a good education is to give young folks the ability to think critically and, especially, to think for themselves. As a parent, this was something I made sure both our children had.

These days a crap-detector is more important than ever, with so much nonsense on the internet and in the media, cleverly cloaked to seem plausible and factual. Some might think, because the big lie has made such a striking return in the past three years, that concern in the educational community about this is new, however, here is a good article from 2013, "The Art and Science of Crap Detection".

In the last few decades, educators in North America have been pressured to devote less time to encouraging critical thought by the introduction of standardized testing (a process of finding how well a student can regurgitate any form of nonsense put before them) by a series of neoliberal governments. Even when standardized tests include problem solving, the type of problem is predictable - designed so that students can be coached intensively. All of this coaching involves an emphasis on certain narrow skills. It does not involve development of the young person's critical thought processes.

There is little doubt that politicians and power brokers want, more than anything, to have a population that is easily led. A population taught to mindlessly regurgitate nonsense in order to pass a test is a perfect recipe for their ideal; a mindless and gullible electorate.

It seems to me that a trend in leadership for the mainstream political parties has been to select a front-person who can do the best distraction dance.

Some of these party leaders are quite amazing. Imagine a person who has had money and privilege all their life, who has openly stated their disdain for the poor in the past, managing to convince large groups of poor that in spite of the voting record of their party, they are "in it for the average working-class stiff". That sort of shell game works best on a populace that cannot manage, or be bothered, to know that the legislation being passed is almost exclusively designed to keep them poor and ignorant, and put more money into the hands of those who already have too much.

Can we find a way to move the focus of whole electorates to the truth of the bait-and-switch that is going on? Can anyone retune and set off the long neglected crap-detectors of whole nations?

I will not blindly trust information I find online. I will not ...

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Midlife - Crisis?

In general, a midlife crisis is thought of as a bad thing; a time of insanity. To me, nothing could be farther from the way things turned out, although there are likely many who will say insanity won out. 

In 2016 I started this blog with transcriptions of notes to myself written in my mid-thirties. Even then, truth was bubbling over and trying to get my attention. By my early sixties there was a choice to either pay attention to the voice (by then shouting in my head) or shut down the connection and wait for another lifetime to be authentic. 

Unlike a whispered voice in your head, when you write a blog, or a post in any social media, your thoughts may or may not reach someone who needs them. It is an act of faith, and, some might say, daring. 

I will freely admit to mixed feelings about social media. I have dabbled in one of the photo-sharing ones, mostly to see snaps and videos of my children and darling granddaughter. I went on the Face thing app years ago because groups I was part of were sharing ideas and snaps and what-have-you there. 

Once, social media did something wonderful for me. It changed my life by allowing one person I cared about very much to find me after a very long time. 

Mostly social media is good - for me - because it lets me know how people I hardly see are doing. 

And then there is this:

For those who are using a translated version, the text is included below, and here is a link to an article, the The Midlife Unraveling, by Brené Brown that includes the source of this quoted section. It is a wonderfully written article that takes the idea of the crisis and explains it so much better with the word unraveling

It seems to me that when the universe whispers, it speaks uniquely to each of us. In my case, she said "When you are lying on your deathbed, thinking your last thought, will it be of how happy you are to have led a safe life doing what you believed everyone else wanted?"

Going on your adventure isn't likely to make others in your world excited or even happy. They have to be responsible for going (or not going) on their own adventure. Not every adventure is pleasant at all times. They don't always have happy endings either. 

Caveat Emptor  

~   ~   ~

I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:

"I’m not screwing around. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go. 

Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen."

~ Brené Brown

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Discovering My Dog Nature

Every now and then, our 'girls', three miniature dachshunds, seem to be staring at something or someone we can't see. Sometimes they even bark at 'it'. The idea that they are aware of something that I am not doesn't surprise me. Their sense of smell is very different and their hearing is very likely much better than mine - why not their eyesight too?

The ghosts that surround me are very different. Unlike the ones that cause the girls to react, these ghosts are neither seen nor heard. They haunt me nevertheless. Decades of taking everything to heart and wanting things to be good for everyone else (and failing miserably it seems for the most part) have left me with regrets*. Slowly, however, with much help from friends and my dear K, I am letting them pass by when they visit. Frustrated with my newfound indifference, they come to visit less frequently.

The girls are doing their best, I think, to teach me dog nature. Dogs never live in the past and they rarely seem to anticipate beyond the next meal. The girls and all of their kin live in the moment. They give other creatures (well, maybe not squirrels) the benefit of the doubt, until they are shown to be best avoided, or eaten.

There is good evidence that the domestication of wolves and the domestication of humans happened in parallel. Some even suggest friendly wolves domesticated us! At the very least, they are more than our best friends; they have the capacity to change us for the better.

*Regrets are silly things, and if you don't have them, think nothing more of it. You are much better off. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Harder Than Rocket Science?

When one has ideas that they might understand how the universe works, they should probably take a pill and lie down until it goes away. But no, I have continued to dive in.

It seems my focus has finally narrowed to one suspect who raises her ugly head too often; Quantum Mechanics. A warning - what follows will not include mathematical formulae, but it might as well for all the sense it makes in the real world. As some early twentieth century scientists were variously quoted:

"Reality is not only stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can possibly think."

Here goes:

A fellow by the name of Einstein got it started with his General Theory of Relativity, published in 1916, by inspiring others to consider that classical theories of space and time had got it wrong. Space and time were instead connected into a continuum he called space-time.

In the 1920s a fan of Einstein's named Schrodinger, who famously seemed to dislike cats, developed his Probability Wave Function which has been used successfully in many applications since to describe our world. It is not a formula that tells you everything, but instead it is used to tell you the probability of things being a certain way at the atomic level.

We used to think the world is solid right down to the tiniest things, but we now know that all there is, way down there, is a cloud of possible things that might be. Fortunately, the probabilities work at that tiny level, and at the macroscopic level where we live, a table, chair, or the floor are all quite solid because all those possible-things-that-might-be cooperate to keep us from noticing that the chair is, in fact, a cloud of seemingly uncountable non-existent atoms.

In a thought experiment designed, some say, to illustrate how preposterous this situation is, Schrodinger described a situation in which a cat was confined in a box where poison would be released if a detector recorded the decay of a particle of radioactive material. According to the wave equations, there was a certain probability that the cat would be alive when the box was opened. In order to satisfy those who wanted the world to be "normal", it was postulated that until an observation occurred, the cat existed simultaneously in those two quite different states; alive and dead. However, (and this is the concession to the fans of 'normal') since we assume the observer lives in only one world, the probability wave was suggested to "collapse" when an observation was made, and from then on, the cat was either dead or alive but no longer both.

The whole thing begs questions, including "What is so special about the act of looking?" and "What if a hyena had looked inside instead, then either had eaten or not eaten the cat? Is a hyena's power of observation good enough to collapse the wave function, or maybe, (and this is important) would the hyena have then lived in two parallel universes with the cat, having either eating the carrion, or wandering off looking for a meal?" And the best question of all, "what if ... everything obeys those probability equations of Schrodinger's and we also live in a set of parallel universes where either we saw a dead cat or a live one?" That would mean that we are conscious of only one of a multitude of universes that exist, since these sub-atomic this-or-that decisions are constantly being made. An idea referred to as Quantum Entanglement suggests that we are conscious of only one of those universes at a time, because we become entangled with only one at a time.

These ideas came into current thought as a result of a paper written by a graduate student, Hugh Everett in 1957, (rejected by the physics community of that time, but since accepted) referred to as the Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. To emphasize, it says that everything obeys the probability equations, not just the sub-atomic particles in the cat box but every bit of matter. We are all existing in a multitude of universes, but are entangled with only one.

Further to this, consider that our brains are part of the physical structure of the universe(s) we live in, and so, our thought process is entangled as well.

I have often asked where ideas come from. Perhaps what all of this means is that all ideas exist but I have only become entangled with a few of them.

Wouldn't it be interesting to find a way to observe those other roads not travelled?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

As a Child

There are some articles on brain development that suggest there are good reasons why memories of childhood, before the age of four, are foggy.

It seems to me that one of the reasons we don't remember has to do with how much more observant a child that age is. In order to learn, we take everything in. As preschoolers we are easily distracted, and as a parent and now a grandparent I say thank goodness for that, but preschoolers process everything. Because we don't try to understand as much as we accept, I believe that is the time in life when we are as connected to the unseen world of the spirit as we ever can be. We need love as much or more than any other nourishment.

In the New Testament, it is recorded that Jesus taught that we must become like little children. This was likely included in the collected scripture because the passage suggests that children take a low position and accept authority, and so, therefore, should we. I believe there was much more in that teaching to be child-like.

The world is filled with so many distractions for us all - distractions that keep us from noticing or believing that there is any real magic around us. We are convinced that becoming "grown up" is our most important task in childhood. We are taught to label and classify. Our appearance and behaviour are monitored and criticized in such a way that we are loath to stand out in a crowd - a crowd that has been similarly cowed into accepting that there is no such thing as magic.

It is no wonder that a guide or teacher who sincerely desires that we should remember and connect with that hidden spirit would encourage us to be childlike. In adult terms, they would encourage and teach us to meditate, allowing the distractions of the world to fall away. Sadly, because we seem hardwired to look for community, the ultimate intervention happens. We find a church, mosque, or the like, to become part of a community of faith. The spirit that came to us easily and naturally in our own calm place, is given a name. We are educated in the finer points of what it means to be part of that religion. The ego is satisfied and what follows is a loss of the very openness and child-like innocence that allowed the spirit to find us.

I do not know how one can teach such a thing to another, but I do know that, for me, adopting an attitude of indifference to the opinions of others was essential to finding self-love and acceptance. These things were a bi-product of my search for wholeness. I knew my life could not long continue as it had. Breaking from the norm was my only option.

As though I had somehow hit the psychic jackpot, I was changed, and a child, locked away for decades, came forward to run the show. Not labelling and classifying the world - most times not even fully comprehending what goes on, I am able to accept, nonetheless.  A belief long held, but pushed away, has become a centre-point to my personal faith. Maybe it is a cliché, but if you think that bothers me, you need to read the paragraph above more carefully.

Love Is

Monday, February 4, 2019

Mystical Connections

In the light of brain studies and sensible theories on the evolution of thinking and feeling creatures, it has become hard to justify expressing a feeling and saying it comes from the heart. What seems to be from that muscular pump must instead be originating in the brain. But that collection of cells can't travel through time, can it?

I was pre-school age, much too young to have any idea of history, when I dreamed of being a monk in a monastery. I remember that "I" had never learned enough to perform the duties I was given. Unlike most dreams, the feeling of dread being that man wouldn't leave me. I never dreamed of that monk and his stress-filled existence again, yet memories of that past life taught me that I never wanted to have a job I wasn't thoroughly qualified to do.

Such musings might be in the same category as "Where do dreams come from?" or "What did that dream mean?" And I know that the brain that I'm carrying about now couldn't have been alive hundreds of years ago. The only rational explanation is a very active imagination; or is it?