Contemplating ESP

One benefit of being an eclectic reader is that once the cover of the novel about the sabotage of the electric grid system in the US was closed, the emergency was over. Not in real life perhaps, but as one reader pointed out, there are a million ways the universe is out to get us (since, after all, the end result of our lives on this planet is our death); 999,999 of those ways won’t get us, so why worry about them.

Now I’m on to another book-induced worry. Well, not “worry” exactly, more like a train of thought. This time about psychic powers, artifacts infused with psychic powers, and the ways these artifacts can be used for good or ill.

When I was young, I thought the various forms of extra sensory perception were an indication of a more enlightened being. I felt bad that I wasn’t one of the chosen, and I hated the thought of being just like everyone else. Now, I am exceedingly grateful for my normalcy. It’s hard enough dealing with life with the tinge of intuition I do have. Apparently, I have a built-in lie, manipulation, and insincerity detector, though it manifests as confusion in the case of lies and manipulation, and nausea in the face of insincerity. (Which is why I cannot watch any news, cannot listen to any politician.) The problem with such low-level perception is that often I don’t know what the lie is, just that it is. Which, of course, adds to the confusion. Even more confusing, it took me most of my life to realize what was going on.

I also have a bit of an ability to pick up vibes. For example, back when dancing with my class, I could feel the energy flowing in sync from all of us, as if it were lifting our arms and feet at the same time. I thought it was a universal feeling, that all the other dancers could feel the same thing, but that wasn’t the case.

Also, sometimes I sense an affinity with people I just met. Of course, we all have that sense of affinity at times. It’s just a matter of learning to trust it.

But to actually be able to read someone’s mind? To be able to move things with mental energy? To be able to see auras? To have visions, whether of the future or of things that have already happened? To be able to view things remotely? I don’t think so. If my life is steeped in confusion now, I can’t imagine the sort of extreme confusion I’d be afflicted with if I had such powers.

As long as I am reading the novel, I will be aware of such things and contemplate the possibility of extra-sensory perception, but I’ll be glad when the book is closed and I can go on to something more mundane.

Like a serial killer, maybe. Or perhaps covert activities. Or, even worse, a romance!

What about you? Would you like to have some sort of ESP? Do you think it would enhance your life or make it even more complicated?

***

If you haven’t yet read A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel of a quarantine that predated this pandemic by more than ten years, you can read the first chapter online here: http://patbertram.com/A_Spark_of_Heavenly_Fire.html

Buy it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0024FB5H6/

Download the first 30% free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842

Taking Life as It Comes

Are you doing anything to prepare for Armageddon or whatever the next national or international crisis might be?

If there is anything major, like the entire electrical grid being sabotaged in the United States as I spoke of yesterday or the nuclear threat of the cold war era, I doubt anything I could do to prepare would be efficacious for any length of time. To survive such a wholesale catastrophe would take a huge expenditure of time and money, to say nothing of skulking around to prepare in secret because if something did happen, the unprepared who knew what you had done would try to take you out to get to what you have.

But even without any sort of preparation, people can — and have — survived localized disasters.

I’m sure I’d be okay for a short time as long as I wasn’t ill or injured. I have one of those metabolisms created in less affluent ages, where systematic starvation was rampant. The less I eat, the less I need to eat without any loss of energy, which makes it almost impossible for me to lose weight, but in a time of hardship, I’d probably do fine.

Water would be a problem, so I do keep a few things on hand, like bottled water, a wee bit of food, and some common emergency supplies, such as flashlights and batteries, as well as first-aid supplies.

To be honest, I wouldn’t want to live in a time of chaos, where it is truly a dog eat dog or human eat human world. Though, also, to be honest, as long as I wasn’t in too much danger or suffering unduly, it could be interesting to watch such a scenario.

Either way, I’m not preparing for much of anything except my own uncertain future. (Uncertain because all futures are uncertain, although that isn’t exactly true. We know our ultimate fate; only the time, place, and cause are uncertain.)

It still amuses me the things people stocked up on when The Bob was first mentioned. Of all the necessary things, toilet paper wouldn’t even be on my mind. An old sheet cut into small pieces does the trick. Of course, you couldn’t flush it, but then, if civilization was in total turmoil, chances are no one would be flushing anyway.

I know I’m better off in my own house rather than in a high-rise in the middle of a city, so to that extent, I did prepare. I would never live in a highrise. If the electricity went out and I’m fifteen or twenty or thirty stories up, I’d be trapped. Nor could I ever live on a lower floor with a whole building above my head (an edifice built by the lowest bidder, I might add). I can just imagine my trying to sleep while feeling the weight of the building above me. Eek.

So to the extent that I think of such things and act on them, I do have a survivalist mentality. But for stocking up on toilet paper, stacks of canned goods, huge vats of fuel? No, that’s not for me.

If I’ve scared you now, and you want to prepare for calamity, there are all sorts of survivalist guides and kits out there. But for me? I’m taking life as it comes.

At least, I’m trying to.

***

If you haven’t yet read A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel of a quarantine that predated this pandemic by more than ten years, you can read the first chapter online here: http://patbertram.com/A_Spark_of_Heavenly_Fire.html

Buy it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0024FB5H6/

Download the first 30% free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842

Feeling Vulnerable

I’ve been doing a good job the past year or so trying to keep focused on the day rather than what might happen in the future, especially when it comes to my precarious financial situation and my advancing years, but the exorbitant increase in house insurance shocked me out of my complacency, and I’ve been feeling unsettled and vulnerable.

Knowing so many people who are getting The Bob adds to the feeling of things being out of kilter. It certainly doesn’t help that one of the library books I got was about electric grid of the entire United States being destroyed, which reminds me how vulnerable we really are. If the electricity goes out, so will heat, plumbing, communication, and transportation. Which means after a few weeks, people will be dying en masse of dehydration and disease and starvation since water won’t be coming into the house, wastes won’t be going out, and food won’t be distributed to the stores. Just what I do not need to be reading when I am feeling vulnerable to begin with!

I’m not sure how I would handle such a calamity as the book portrays, but I did buy some bottled water today to have just in case. I have camping equipment, including a little stove that works with twigs and other readily available bio-fuel, and a solar powered charger, so I could charge a phone, assuming there would be anyone to call. I have learned from camping that one can keep a whole lot warmer at night if you sleep in a tiny tent inside a larger tent, and I could set up the double tents inside the house, so my tiny sleeping area would be warmed by whatever body heat I could engender.

I also have solar lights outside my house, which, if necessary, could be brought inside.

It seems surprising that a book written in the past year or so didn’t mention the ubiquitous nature of such lights. The author just talked about it being totally dark at night. Around here, when the electricity goes out, there are still quite a few lights on because of solar lighting. But then, this is a relatively sunny area; maybe other areas aren’t as accessible to solar power.

For my own peace of mind, I’ll have to ignore the vulnerable feelings of the past few days and go back to believing (all evidence to the contrary) that I will be fine. Even if it’s an illusion, it’s still important for me to act as if everything will work out. Because who knows — things could continue working out for me, and it’s possible (at least according to some theories) the belief itself will make things come true.

And if all else fails, there are all those origami cranes I am folding to ensure my good fortune.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Insuring and Ensuring

The increase in my house insurance reminds me that when people put in false claims or otherwise defraud an insurance company, they justify their actions by saying it doesn’t hurt anyone; it’s just an insurance company.

What such larcenous folk don’t realize is that an insurance company will NEVER lose. If they do lose more than they have accounted for in any given year, they simply jack up the price for those who faithfully pay their premiums without ever submitting a claim, or they get the government to bail them out. Which means, everyone but the insurance company loses.

Not that I think there is any shenanigans going on with the insurance company when they raised my rates, at least not more than usual, but it is something I think about, especially now that I am getting older and don’t have a lot of resources. It makes me wonder about what I will do if I ever get to the point of needing a nursing home. Would I discontinue the insurance those last years, and deal with whatever comes?  After all, it will be the nursing home that gets my property, and I could use the insurance payment for one last fling.

Meantime, the sun is shining in this hiatus before the next storm hits, I have library books to read, and a roof over my head. And that, too, is an insurance of a kind. It might not be the monetary kind of insurance, but those things do help to ensure a good day! (I’m stretching things a bit here, since ensure and insure are completely different things, but I wanted to leave here with more positive slant.)

I hope you’re having a good day, or at least, as good a day as possible.

***

If you haven’t yet read A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel of a quarantine that predated this pandemic by more than ten years, you can read the first chapter online here: http://patbertram.com/A_Spark_of_Heavenly_Fire.html

Buy it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0024FB5H6/

Download the first 30% free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842

As The World Turns

Yesterday was not a good day. Leaving out the national scene and only dealing with my life for now, things were . . . unsettling. Not only did my house insurance rate skyrocket (and this area already is dealing with rates that are way above average), but my Nook died, along with the myriad books I did not purchase from Barnes and Noble. The e-book reader is out of warranty, so there’s not much I can do about. Allergy headaches, tiredness, and crankiness all added to the frustration of the day. (If folding origami cranes is supposed to be restful and meditative, I am here to tell you that so far it only adds to the frustration, but hopefully, as I get more proficient, serenity will come.) With all that, I certainly didn’t need today’s Tarot card (The Moon) to warn me not to be “deceived by apparent security.” I got plenty of real-life reminders!

But that was yesterday.

The tarot, as well almost every other philosophy, teaches that nothing is static. What goes down must also come up. (Physics says that what goes up must come down, though it doesn’t say anything about things that are already down.) The moon card certainly seems fitting today because (at least from a human perspective), the moon goes down, but inevitably, as the world turns, it will come up again. (That’s not to say that one day the earth will stand still; to the best of my knowledge, that has only happened once or twice — according to legend — and eons before my lifetime.)

Though my personal moon is rising, I can’t say much has changed today — the insurance rate remains the same, though my agent will try to find a better rate for me. We’re just at the beginning of the national changes, so the effects of the new regime haven’t struck here yet. I’m still dealing with allergies and my Nook is still retired from service.

There have been changes, however, including the delivery of a small package that had been swallowed up the black hole of the postal system in Denver (they do not like to deliver anything but letters here; everything else seems to be held until for several weeks until the mass of the mail equals the mass of the black hole.)

Most importantly, I went to the library! I recently heard that the library is open by appointment, so today I made an appointment and headed out to search for books. What a pleasure! I was the only one in the place except the librarians, so no other patrons got in my way, and I had my choice of books. (Take that, Nook!)

The sun is out, which also helps. Winter weather returns this weekend, with a possibility of snow, but I don’t put that on the negative side of the scorecard because the moisture is a plus.

And so the world turns . . .

***

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Unwanted Thoughts

It’s interesting to me that so many of my daily one-card tarot readings talk of good fortune, windfalls, and such. I don’t really believe what the cards say because each reading negates the previous one, and the cards aren’t always positive, but I have come to believe that things are going to go well for me financially. So when things don’t, I feel affronted. I mean, how is my house insurance going up by 25% good fortune? It seems like a huge increase, though perhaps with more people staying home there are more claims? Or the weather in the area has been more damaging this past year? Or the company took a huge hit because of all the wildfires in the Colorado last year?

This particular area has inordinately high insurance rates, anyway, but whatever the reason for the increase, it isn’t good fortune! Or maybe it is? I guess I could consider myself fortunate that I’m not one of those who had to deal with damage.

It’s things like this — huge increases in expenses that aren’t reflected by increases in income — that made me not want to ever own a house, but I’d be paying it one way or another anyway. If I were still renting, the rent would go up to reflect the current insurance rate.

Luckily, once I get over the panic and affront of the higher rate, I’ll be okay for now because I am working, and so will have enough to pay the bill. Even more luckily, once it’s paid, I won’t have to think about it for a year. It does make me glad I didn’t reward this particular insurance company by switching my car insurance over to them. I would have saved a bit on the house insurance, but my car insurance would have gone way up, so I’d still be in the same position.

I did talk to my insurance agent in case there was a clerical error. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an error, though she too was shocked by the huge increase. She’ll look around to see if she can find a better deal for me, but back when I first got the insurance, this current company was by far the better price.

I really shouldn’t even be writing about this — it’s not anyone’s problem but mine — but it is on my mind, and writing about what I am thinking is how I get rid of unwanted thoughts, and I really don’t want these thoughts in my head!

***

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Wish Culture

As someone who grew up reading fairy tales, I’ve never been one for wishing. The wishes so often turned out to be dross rather than the gold the wisher wished for. For example, a person who wished for enough income to live comfortably for the rest of his life might end up drowning. Or a person who wished for someone to know their heart might end up on the operating table of a heart surgeon. Of course, those examples are modern ones, just what I could think of off the top of my head. Back in fairy tale lands, there were no heart surgeons, and there was not talk of income, either.

People who did get a wish or three in fairy tales often ended up worse than they were, and I learned that lesson well, so I have no idea why all of a sudden I am interested in the culture of wishes. I made a wish box as a repository for the new year’s wishes people sent me as well as a couple of well-worded ones of my own. I’ve also become enamored of the idea of a senbazuru, which is 1000 origami cranes. The legend says that anyone who folds 1000 paper cranes will be granted one wish or happiness and eternal good luck.

And the explanation that came with the tarot deck I am currently using, said that today’s tarot card, the nine of cups, is the wish card.

So, lots of wishes and wishing!

Whether the cranes or the wish box or the tarot card will actually make all my wishes come true, however scant those wishes might be, it’s all about the doing.

I have a hunch it’s in the folding that one’s crane wish comes true — once a person has mastered the art of folding the crane, it becomes a mindless or maybe mindful activity, and that alone should bring peace and happiness of a sort. (Because deep down, no matter what one wishes for, isn’t it all about peace and happiness?)

So what does one do with 1000 cranes when they are all made? Pass them out so others can share in one’s good fortune? Leave them in strategic places for people to find? (But what an irony that would be, to be arrested for littering when one is only trying to spread a bit of happiness.)

One of the wishes I added to my wish box was selling thousands of copies of Bob, The Right Hand of God, though I have no idea how to get there except by wishing. It could happen.

Meantime, keep on wishing. As long, of course, as you word your wish so that it cannot be misinterpreted.

***

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

A Princely Pattern

I’ve been reading children’s books published around the turn of the twentieth century, and it surprises me how philosophical and mystical so many are, including two books I remember from my own childhood. One book, The Little Lame Prince, I remember reading several times; I even remember where it was place on the shelf in the public library. Years later, I went looking for the book in that library and couldn’t find it. Back then, I thought that libraries kept all books ad infinitum, but now I know that simply is not feasible. I must have told my mother about the book, because one day when I was in my forties, she handed me a red book and told me, all smiles, “Look what I found at a yard sale.”

Yep. The Little Lame Prince. Not surprisingly, I wasn’t impressed with the book. After all, it was a children’s book and whatever I had gleaned from it when I was young no longer seemed relevant. I don’t know what happened to the book. I’m sure I gave it away as I do with all my books once they’ve been read to saturation, though now I wish I had the book if only because my mother had thought of me when she saw it.

Now, oddly, the book seems relevant again. Or at least interesting from a scholarly point of view. The book is about — ta da! — a little lame prince. The author in no way panders to the child, either the character or the child who is reading the book, but instead instills in him the need to accept what he can’t change, that comfort came by seeing “the plain hard truth in all its hardness, and thus letting him quietly face it.” Such an odd sentiment (without being sentimental) for an old children’s book, but oh, so true! It’s what I’ve been saying about grief: it’s important to face it, to feel what you are feeling, and for others to let you feel the harshness of grief without their trying to cajole you into a better frame of mind.

Something else that struck me is the sentence: “The plan of this world is infinite similarity and yet infinite variety.” It’s something we know without actually thinking about. We know all snowflakes are alike and yet all are different. We know all leaves are alike in their leafness, and yet all are different. In such a way, all people are alike, too. I mean, if you see a person, you know immediately it’s a human being and not a starling or a star (of the celestial type). It’s this similarity and variety that makes it seem as if everyone grieves differently, when in fact, there is great similarity in the grief cycles of those suffering from the death of a spouse.

The other children’s book that particularly struck a chord was The Lost Prince. (Hmm. There seems to be a princely pattern here.) This book is very Zen or Buddhist or anyway, not a typical western way of thinking. The lost prince was brought up to think good thoughts, to be good, to find balance and peace in silence so that he can connect to “the Thought that thought the world.”

It shouldn’t surprise me that this sort of thinking didn’t mean anything in particular to me when I was so very young and reading these books for the first time. It’s possible I understood the message, but it seemed no different from any other message I gleaned from a book; when one is new, all ideas are new and all are treated the same. It’s only as we get older and supposedly wiser that we categorize ideas and things and people, which seems a very unwise thing to do.

It’s also possible that a steady diet of such books at a young age helped create my own rather mystical bent, or at least compounded it.

Whatever the truth of me, my mind, or these books, it’s definitely been a interesting experience, rereading these books and seeing in them the philosophies that helped formed my own life.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Wishful Thinking

I’ve never been one for wishful thinking. It seemed more important to deal with what is rather than what I wished it to be, but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about wishes.

It all started with a box that needed something to cover up a label I didn’t like, and I found a birthday card someone had sent me last year telling me to make a wish. Into this wish box, I put all the New Year’s wishes people sent me and the Neil Gaiman quote a friend made me pinky promise to follow (“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself). I also included a few of my own wishes, such as “selling thousands of copies of Bob, The Right Hand of God,” and a fabulous wish I found in a an old novel, “Something that I can be, but haven’t thought of yet.”

As I think of other wishes, and as other people send me wishes, I’ll add them to the box. It somehow seems that everyone should have a box of wishes, not necessarily to do anything with, but to put aside and save.

The old origami calendar I have that miraculously has become current, has reawakened in me an interest in origami, which also pertains to the whole wish thing. Supposedly, there is a Japanese legend that if a person folds a thousand origami cranes, either one wish will come true, or the person will have eternal good luck. (A single crane is called an orizuru; 1000 cranes is a senbazuru.)

It makes sense, actually — all that folding and concentrating one’s thoughts on the crane and the wish would seem a form of meditation, though traditionally, folding the crane was art, not so much meditation. It’s only in modern times that the two have been connected into what is known as mind-fold-ness. (Cute, huh?) It’s also makes sense that the origami crane is a symbol of peace and harmony, because if you are folding 1000 cranes, you are not out and about creating mayhem.

I’m thinking of doing a senbazuru — after all, that is only one crane a day for 1000 days. I’m already doing a one-card tarot study every day and writing a blog every day. It’s certainly no hardship to add another quick one-a-day project. The main problem comes in what to do with all those cranes. Is it the creation of them that creates the good luck or is the preponderance of the cranes themselves that draws luck to the folder? If the former, I could send them to an organization that is trying to do a senbazuru for a special intention (such as a cure for cancer). If not, I’ll just pack them away and then, figure it out three years from now.

Meantime, I’ll share one of my wishes with you: Wishing you peace and joy and all the good things of life.

***

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Peace Without Words

Someone asked me if I would purposely stress myself out to get into a creative mood, and my response was an unequivocal “Absolutely not!” I’ve had enough stress in my life to ever want to put myself in such a state, but I have to admit, being stressed out, in pain, or even just confused makes it easier to write. If I am in a mellow mood, which is where I try to be — balanced and in harmony with myself and my surroundings — I find it hard to find something to write about.

Writing has generally been a release for me. If I put chaotic feelings into words, they become more orderly and easier to deal with. There is also a lot to say when one is struggling to find one’s way, but once there, there’s not much to talk about.

Writing fiction is also a release of sorts. If a story is in my head and is struggling to get out, then I have to write it to put it and my mind to rest. But if no story wants to be born? Then there’s nothing really to say. (Though I suppose there will come a time when I decide to write another story just for something to do. In that case, I will then try to put a story in my head.)

So here I am, in a pleasant and harmonious state, trying to find something interesting to write about. After 480 days of straight blogging, I’m not about to give up for a lack of words. Nor am I about to grope around in my mind for the stress that once was there or to do something to unbalance myself (though I don’t know what that would be).

I’m lucky, actually, to be in such a state. There have been many years where I needed the words to relieve the stress that it seems ironic to think I would need stress to find the words.

Someday, I’m sure, there will come an upsurge of grief, a problem with other people (though to have problems with people, you have to be around them, and with this isolation, I hardly see anyone except the woman I visit a few times a week.

Meantime, I will enjoy the peace, even if the peace comes without words.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator