That Notorious Villain Mr. Death

I received an email with sad news today: a dear friend is coming to the end of her days. A year and a half ago, the doctors said she had only two months to live, but she managed to survive happily and with grace all this time. But now, the cancer is too advanced, and chances of her surviving much longer are slim.

One of the saddest things about living to a certain age is that death seems to have become a constant presence. So many people I’ve been close to for years are gone, and those I’ve met more recently, are also going. I’ve only known this woman about three years, but despite a bit of a language problem (she spoke English with an accent I had a hard time understanding), we became instant sisters. And now I’m about to lose one more person to that notorious villain, Mr. Death.

I seem to be beset by death today. I spoke to another friend, a woman who lost her husband to The Bob, and she mentioned she’d checked a couple of my books out of the library. She had tears in her eyes when she said that my books on grief were the best books she’d ever read on the subject. It’s good to hear that, of course, and I am glad I was able to help in any way, but I would have been even gladder if none of us were in the position of knowing so much about grief in the first place.

Interestingly, she’d recommended my books to another recent widow, and that woman went to the library, but instead of checking out my grief books, she got one of my fiction books. That would have been my choice! It’s hard enough being steeped in one’s own grief without adding another person’s grief on top of yours.

I was glad to know they got the books from the library. I’d donated the books, and I worried that if the books sat on the shelf too long the librarians would get rid of them. (In other places, I’ve seen new books donated by their authors that ended up on a sale rack for 10 or 25 cents, and I didn’t want my donation to go to waste. Luckily, so far, the library has kept them.)

I’ve been gradually shifting away from the original topic — the sad news about my friend — but truly, what else is there to say except that I was honored she considered me a sister and how sad I am that she’s nearing the end. My heart (and a few tears) goes out to her husband who has so devotedly taken care of her the past couple of years.

***

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.

Variety

At the library today, I found a notice that our county library district is bringing the Little Free Library program to town. I’ve visited these wonderful mini libraries when I was traveling and was delighted to see it coming here because it’s a great program for a reader. Then I realized I don’t need a little free library — I have a big free library that’s closer to me than any of the little libraries will be.

Still, those little libraries will give me an incentive to walk. I’ve noticed that as I become more settled into home ownership and garden caregivership (no one really owns a garden, one only takes care of it), I have a harder time walking simply to walk. I need a reason and a destination, and visiting a variety of little libraries will give me both of those nudges to get out and walk. That’s my hope, anyway.

After I picked up my books at the library, I bought a variety of items at the variety store. That’s what we called places like dollar stores back in my day, and sheesh. I can’t believe I used such an old-person cliché as “in my day.” Considering that I am still alive, all days are my days.

As I was wandering around the store, I had a brief episode of disorientation. It wasn’t a physical problem but a temporal one — I saw a few Christmas things and for a moment, I had no idea what time of year this is. Christmas? Already? What happened to Autumn? Halloween? Thanksgiving?

I suppose I shouldn’t make disparaging comments about seasons. After all, my Christmas stocking is up, though in my case, it’s not a matter of rushing the season but of forgetting to put the stocking away with the rest of my Christmas things last year, and then being too lazy to drag out the Christmas decoration box again to stow the stocking. This particular stocking was a special gift and is not the sort of thing I can just stuff in anywhere, so I left it hanging. I’ve enjoyed having it up, and anyway, who says a stocking is just for Christmas? This one is beautiful any time of year.

Keeping with the Christmas theme, when I got home and checked my mail, I discovered a wonderful present — wildflower seeds! A variety of seeds are included in each packet: globemallow, desert marigold, brittlebush, chocolate flower, firecracker penstemon, Arizona milkweed and rush milkweed — all perennials. Considering that these are desert plants needing little water and lots of sun (and might take a year to germinate), it will be a whole new gardening experience for me. Luckily, I was gifted with several packets of this wildflower mixture, so I’m set in case of mishaps. Even better, I have the perfect area to plant these seeds — one of the still uncultivated places in my yard. I hesitated to put anything there because I don’t much feel like adding any more time to my watering schedule, so these plants will be great once I get them started.

Whew! Lots of variety, today. And it’s early enough for even more variety to come.

***

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?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

All I Know

The title of this piece is rather a misnomer because all I know are the things I think I know, and I have learned not to trust everything I think.

Still, as a thinking, working, writing entity, I have often written about things I have learned from grief and from life. Most recently, I’ve been mentioning lessons I learned from gardening, such as:

  1. You get what you get and what you get is not always what you deserve.
  2. If you’ve done everything you know how to do to change things, then you have no other recourse except to accept what is.
  3. Take care of that which you can, and if things grow out of your control, do the best you can with that, too
  4. Be patient.
  5. Don’t be intimidated.
  6. Some things live, and some things die.
  7. Focus on the details, but also look at the big picture.
  8. Be adaptable. (This is one I have not spoken of specifically, but all of my gardening posts intimate the importance of adaptability.)

Those “learning” posts reminded me of a book I once read called All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. The author listed such things as: learn some and think some, draw and paint and sing and dance, and be aware of wonder. Those are good things to know, too, but I don’t remember learning them in kindergarten. To be honest, that was so long ago, I have only the vaguest notion of even going to kindergarten.

I do remember my first day of first grade, however. I hung my blue nubby jacket with a multicolor tiny-checked lining in the cloak closet — as it was called back then, even though no one even knew what a cloak was — then I sat down. To my horror, I discovered I was in the wrong classroom, and I bolted out of there. I have no idea how I got my coat back; all I know is that I was too embarrassed to retrieve it. So I suppose I could add this pithy bit from the first grade to these lists of “all I know”: Mistakes happen; deal with them . . . or don’t.

When I came online today to jot down my thoughts about all I know, the first thing that greeted me was the saying: “When it comes down to it, the only knowledge that really matters is how to purify water, how to grow your own food, how to cook, how to build, and how to love.”

So that’s something else to add to what I know — not how to purify water, which incidentally, I do know how to do; not how to grow food, which I know hypothetically; not how to build because it’s too late in the game for me to learn, though again, I know the basics hypothetically because I’ve watched a lot of building going on around here; and not how to love, though I do know that, or at least, I once did — but that the internet can read minds.

A final note on things I know — although it’s not something I know or even believe, I do take comfort in times from a line in the Desiderata: “And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

Looking over this post, it seems as if what I’ve written today can be summed it up with a simple credo: “It’s life. Live it the best way you can.”

O even more simply, “Live.”

***

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.

Love Lies Bleeding

There is an interesting plant in my yard that everyone who sees comments on. I had a couple of those plants last year, too, but I didn’t know if the plants were friends or foes (flowers or weeds, in other words), so when they grew too tall for where they were planted, I pulled them up.

This year, instead of pulling them up, I left them in place for a conversation piece. A couple of times I tried to track down the name of the plant, but apparently, I put in the wrong search terms because I tried again today, and the answer popped right up. The weird looking ropy red flowers are called foxtail amaranth. It’s an annual that seems to have been included in a wildflower seed mix that I threw out there last winter, so unless I buy more seeds, this is the only time I will have the flowers.

Here they are, along the fence behind the zinnias:

And here is a close-up:

The flowers are also called Love Lies Bleeding, a holdover from the Victorian era, when flowers were used to send messages. The message of this flower is hopelessness or hopeless love, which seems a mean thing to want to say to someone in words, let alone in flowers.

I was going to plagiarize another of my posts to fill out this tale of “talking” flowers, but instead, I’ll just direct you to this link if you want to find more “Meanings of Flowers”.

Love Lies Bleeding would be a great title for a book since the phrase could be used to set scenes and develop themes throughout the story: my loved one is lying there bleeding; you broke my heart, and now it lies bleeding; my lover lied and now is bleeding.

Unfortunately, many other authors had the same idea — that Love Lies Bleeding would be a great name for a book — because a quick check on book sites showed a whole library’s worth of books using that title or a variation thereof.

Of course, if I really wanted to use the title, there’s no reason I couldn’t since titles aren’t copyrighted (I could also legally name a book Gone with the Wind if I wanted to, but that would be nothing short of author suicide). I prefer using less trite titles, however, and anyway, there is no book in me at the moment, so a title is the last thing I need.

Not so the plant itself. There are a lot of “last things I need” in my garden — weeds and weedy grasses top that list — but even though the foxtail amaranth isn’t on that list, it doesn’t add much to my yard except as a conversation piece, which, come to think of it, is actually a good thing to have. And now that I know the name of this plant, it not only will serve as a conversation starter, but can become the whole conversation, because truly, Love Lies Bleeding is an evocative name with an interesting history.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

The Year of Soylent Green

This is the year of Soylent Green, or rather the year that Soylent Green was supposed to portray. The novel upon which the movie was based, Make Room, Make Room by Harry Harrison, took place in 1999, but the movie makers moved things forward a couple of decades to 2022.

I’ve come across a few articles (one of which was sent to me by a friend) whose authors tried to figure out where the movie got 2022 so wrong, because, of course, we have not devolved to the point where the population is so staggeringly immense, corporate greed so all-consuming, and human life so worthless that the masses are being fed a mystery product called soylent green.

I don’t know why these authors are concerned that the movie got it wrong — after all, most dystopian movies don’t come true. Although some books are burned and banned, the world is awash in books, unlike the society portrayed in Fahrenheit 451. Although Big Sib (have to be politically correct, you know) does seem to be watching us, we have not moved into the extreme totalitarianism of 1984. And although we seem to be living in a society controlled more and more by corporations and technology, we have not yet moved to the robotic social order of Brave New World.

Dystopian literature is about extending what is or what might be into the furthest reaches of imagination. It’s not supposed to predict or preach or even give us a glimpse into a world we are fated to endure. Instead, it’s supposed to expose — perhaps — the truth of humans and what we can or can’t endure, what we can or can’t control, what we can or can’t accept if we wish to retain our humanity. It’s no wonder that in all of these books the authorities, whoever or whatever they might be, show the worst face of us. That lone dissenter, either hero or anti-hero, hopefully shows the best of us. As for the masses — all the rest of us — if the literature tells us anything about ourselves, it’s that we will be corralled somewhere in the middle, just trying to get by.

What so many of the dystopian books and movies of the 1950s through the l970s seemed to be trying to show were possible results of an unchecked birthrate, and no wonder. The population increased 5.5 billion from 2.5 billion in 1950 to 8 billion in 2022. Technology and agricultural advances made it possible to feed all those people or a great percentage, anyway. Despite a supposedly adequate food supply, 9 million people starve to death every year, a totally unacceptable number, and untold other millions deal with malnutrition because so much of the food that is available lacks essential nutrients.

Even though the world did not become as insanely crowded as the dystopian authors seemed to prophesy, our population still increased exponentially, though suddenly, any talk of overpopulation, whether in the dystopian literature, the daily media, or think tanks (formal and informal) has become taboo, making stories like Soylent Green seem even more stridently fanatical. Also, despite periodic whispers of a population cleanse or worldwide genocide, it will never happen. Why? There’s no money in it. Big business makes money with growth. No population growth, no profits. (Is it any wonder that any time the USA birth rate dips the immigration rate rises?)

If instead of disregarding the dystopian stories, if instead of creating more dubious agricultural practices and food products, we had been able to curtail the world’s population back in the nineteen fifties and sixties, we wouldn’t be dealing with a so-called climate crisis now. But then, cynical me says that there are fortunes to be made with selling more and more green vehicles and other green technologies to an ever-greater number of people.

So did the dystopian stories of the early and mid-twentieth century get it wrong? Not really — they got it right for the times. They just weren’t cynical enough, relying more on shock tactics of population bombs than critical thought about what effects a slowly decreasing population would have on the world economy.

***

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?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

A Good One

When I was young, I had a five-book boxed set of Pollyanna books. Every time I got sick and so couldn’t go to the library for a fresh stack of books, I reread the ones on my shelf. Despite having read the Pollyanna books perhaps a hundred times, the whole “glad game” thing never took hold in my life. I simply could not see the benefit of being glad you didn’t need the crutches you received instead of the doll you wanted. I thought gladness should be effortless rather than a struggle to find something good about bad times.

Ever since Jeff died, though, I tried to play my own version of the game (though I didn’t know that’s what I was doing) by finding something to appreciate every day. I needed a way to ground myself because so often during those first years I felt as if I were teetering on the edge of the abyss, and without a firm footing, I feared I would topple into that bottomless black pit.

The lessons learned back then have served me well. I make sure to appreciate every flower that comes up, every blade of grass that shimmers in the sun. In a glass half full/half empty sort of way, I try to see what’s there rather than what isn’t. For example, to see the plants and sections of grass that are doing well instead of worrying about the areas of the yard that are desiccating no matter what I do.

Some days, however — like today — I find it hard to appreciate much. It’s been too hot for too long; it’s too much work trying to keep the weeds from taking over; and it’s too hard to focus on what is still growing rather than what once was doing well but is no longer thriving.

I took this same curmudgeonly attitude on my walk today to check out how my friend’s roof was coming along. The job site was deserted, but I could easily see why — the roof has been re-sheeted, ready for to be shingled whenever the rest of the roofing materials are delivered. On my way back home, I stopped to pick up an item at the dollar store, and when I checked out, the clerk said, “Have a good one.” Sometimes I can let that idiocy go, but on a day when I cannot even appreciate that I have glass, let alone whether it’s half full, I find it impossible to hold my tongue.

“Have a good one what?” I asked. The clerk had to think about that one for a minute, then said hesitantly, “Day?” The thing is, all the elderly people I have taken care of become fixated on their bowels (mostly because moving them has become a difficult non-daily task for them), so they are always pleased when they “have a good one.” Anyway, the clerk finally said, “Have a good day,” but then as I turned to leave, she said again, “Have a good one.” I just looked at her and shook my head.

Some things are just not worth dealing with.

Although I have temporarily given up on trying to keep the weeds in check, temporarily given up on caring about the less-than-appealing areas of my yard, I still do manage to find something to appreciate if only in passing, such as the lance-leaf coreopsis, pictured below. Now that was something effortless to be glad about — the original seeds were strewn three summers ago, and these perennial plants raise themselves without any help from me.

So maybe the “good one” the clerk told me to have was this flower. In that case, I should have thanked her for the pretty bloom instead of giving her a semi-rough time.

Anyway, have a good one, whatever “one” it is that you want to be good.

***

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.

Big Sibling

Detectives and other operatives in current mysteries and thrillers look to the internet and the sites where people hang out for clues, so much so that when an author fails to mention those social sites, the absence is glaring. Just as when they don’t mention cell phones. Because cell phones make our lives so much easier and make it harder to be out of touch, the cliché is that the character forgot to charge the phone or is out of range or some such excuse to put the character further into jeopardy.

Which reminds me of Judge Judy and how when defendants talk about a text conversation, and Judy wants to see the message, the defendants always say that it was on a different phone that got broken, and now they have a new one. It happens so often that it’s rather a running joke. But as amusing (or not) as that may be, this post isn’t about cell phones but the social sites.

Have you ever noticed I cannot bring myself to call it “social media”? The closest I come is “social networking sites,” which is what they were known as when I first got online. The “media” part, I suppose, is to make us think these sites have some sort of credence, which they don’t. Not only is the news (on any side of any matter) suspect, so are the lives people portray. As if they are better — or badder — than they are in real life.

In fiction, the lives portrayed online are counted as evidence, especially if someone tells a detective they hadn’t seen the victim in several months, and an online photo shows them together. Or if they say they have never been to a certain place, and a post says otherwise.

Since this happens in real life too, I have never been so naïve as to think that anything I post online is private. I have assumed from the first day that “Big Sibling” is watching me. (Trying to be gender neutral here.) To that end, I have never posted anything I wanted to keep private. In fact, I want people to see my posts and to get to know me in the hope that they will buy my books. Still, I do wonder what I am inadvertently giving away. Anyone can do a bit of detective work and find out where I live, but any official would already know that. Anyone can put the clues together and come up with my age. A few people know when I was born, but generally online I use a pseudonymous birthday. And anyway, that information is available in any official data bank, and especially is available to anyone who has access to my driver’s license, so it’s not much of a secret.

Those officials could comb Facebook for my friends, but then, they would probably already know who they were. And Twitter and LinkedIn? I have no idea who most of my connections are, and I have no interaction with them. In fact, my profiles on both sites are more or less moribund, though the link to my daily blog is posted on both sites. Or at least it’s supposed to be. I haven’t checked recently to see if that is currently the case.

I don’t post photos directly to Facebook, though I suppose they are stored on their servers anyway because of the link to the link to my blog that I post on the site. But that’s okay. Lately all I’ve been posting are images of flowers, not me and whatever victim I might be accused of victimizing. (Though my life is so boring, I’m sure if any official were to check with my neighbors, all they would have to say about me is, “Yes, I know her. Yes, I saw her. I don’t remember what day, but it doesn’t matter. I see her out in her yard every day.)

I am so used to telling the details of my small life that if I did have a secret, I probably wouldn’t have one. I would have blabbed it here, and a blabbed secret is no longer a secret. Though come to think of it, it’s possible they would think that anyone so bland would have to be hiding something (something other than blandness, that is).

Too bad. It would be fun to have a secret. Or maybe not, if fiction is anything to go by. People with secrets are often victims. Since that brings us back to the beginning of this post about officials who come to social sites looking for clues as to who might have wanted to erase the secret by erasing the victim, I’ve apparently come to the end of what I wanted to say.

I hope you have a very nice (and very private) day.

***

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?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Real Reality

I’ve been reading a book about cyber technology running amok, or perhaps people running amok using advanced cyber technology (so advanced, it hasn’t yet been created, though obviously it has been postulated by someone, even if only the author). To be honest, I’m not really sure what the story is about because unlike most books that I read at a single sitting or two or three (at most), the pages on this book aren’t advancing at all. I tend to think my slow progress has to do with my falling asleep while reading. (Well, no. I don’t “tend to think” that napping is the reason for the slow progress — I know it is.)

It’s no wonder the story isn’t keeping my interest. It’s hard for me to care about people —real or otherwise — who wrap themselves in the latest technology. I understand some body/computer interfaces could have (or for all I know, all ready do have) lifesaving capabilities, but I’ve passed my time of keeping up with current cyberlife. I use only a fraction of my computer’s potential, sticking with such basics as blogging, researching, shopping a bit, playing a game (though my interest in the hidden object game I was once fascinated with has been steadily waning). I certainly have no interest in the internet of things, a potential combined internet of things and persons, the metaverse, or virtual reality of any kind. I prefer to stick with real reality (or rather what passes for real reality since there is no real consensus on what reality is).

It is ironic, though, that despite my decreased use of social networking sites (I write my blog and spend about two minutes on Facebook going through the whole rigamarole FB has forced me into to post my blog on the site, but that’s it) I don’t feel as if I’m alone, though I actually do spend most of my time alone. It made more sense to feel as if I were with people back in the days where I was in fairly consistent contact with people, especially on the now-defunct writing site that was the best social networking site for authors, but now it’s more of a sense of being in contact rather than actually being in contact.

And then, of course, there are all those characters in the books I read that people my life.

I keep saying that one of these days I’ll start writing again, and I tend to think that day is coming soon. I was showing friends my zinnias yesterday, and it suddenly struck me that Zinnia would be a great name for a character. Later in the conversation, as we talked about lilies, it seemed that Lily and Billy would be great names for twins. Once an author has names, can a story be far behind?

I’m still “researching” the story. (By research, I mean I’m just living, but if I call my everyday life “research” then I can pretend I’m actually working as a writer.) Unfortunately, I still have no idea what story I want to write. It would be fun to write another “Pat” story, sort of a sequel to Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare. One visitor told me I have a ghost, so I’m considering a ghost story. One friend has told me a few of her experiences that makes me wonder if I want to write some sort of alternate reality tale. For example, a wildfire burned all around her house, and the people who used to own the place (who were still emotionally invested in the house) watched four tanker trucks circling her property, spraying the house and trees to keep the fire away. The firefighters working that day said they only had one tanker truck, and they needed it to keep them safe from the fast-moving fire. Even worse, they saw embers landing on her roof, and later told her they felt bad they couldn’t save her house. They were astounded when she told them the house hadn’t been touched.

It’s certainly interesting to speculate which reality was real — the former owner’s, the firefighters, or my friend’s. They couldn’t all be real, could they?

Someday, I am sure, a story — either this one or another — will gather enough strength that will compel me to write, and when that time comes, I sure hope the book won’t put people to sleep.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Wish Box

A character in the book I’m currently reading was given three wishes. She ended up giving two of the wishes away, which I didn’t know was possible in wish culture, but it was a smart thing for her to do since both those people became staunch allies when she needed them.

Any mention of wishes, of course, makes me wonder what I would wish for. I used to wish for enough money so that I didn’t have to worry about my financial situation, but that was easily taken care of. I decided not to worry. It doesn’t help my precarious situation, but at least I’m not worrying about it, and in the end, that’s what the wish was about.

Other than that, I’m not sure what I would want. I certainly wouldn’t waste a wish on world peace since politicians and other self-serving individuals would screw that up with their own wishes for dominance.

Then I remembered my wish box.

It’s been a while since I added to the box, though I should have been including any cards people sent me with wishes, such as wishes for a happy new year. Maybe I’ll remember to include such wishes later in the year. Meantime, I checked to see what my wish box included besides a couple of greeting cards.

The red origami envelope includes a wish for “something that I can be but haven’t thought of yet.” Hmm. Interesting wish. And a realistic one. Some of my best come-true wishes were wishes I never knew I had, such as taking dance classes, performing on stage, and owning a house. Limiting myself to what I know is simply too . . . limiting.

The other origami envelope contains a wish for me to sell thousands of copies of Bob, The Right Hand of God. Oops. That one sure went nowhere! But maybe . . . someday . . .

In the background of the photo is a copy of Neil Gaiman’s wish that a friend sent me: “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.” Some of that has come true, at least the part about reading, living as only I can, and surprising myself. I could do with more surprises, though. I wouldn’t like knowing that I know all there is to know about me.

I’m not sure where the stone heart came from, but “heart” certainly belongs in a wish box.

My favorite item at the moment is printed on the gray card with trees: small joys, simple goodness, hope renewed. It might not be worth wasting three wishes on those things (especially since I wouldn’t have any left to give away to people who desperately need wishes, as the character in the book did), but for sure, they are things for me to strive for.

***

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?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Liking What I Write

jockey

Sometimes I read an article I wrote, and I think, “I wish I had written that,” then it hits me that oh, wait. I did write that.

A case in point:

This morning someone left a comment on my post “Let It Ride,” telling me he was doing a podcast about the movie and wanted to know if I would like to join the discussion. Not remembering having ever written about the film, though it is one I like, I went back and read the post. The piece turned out to be not so much a rehashing of the movie (which the critics hated and apparently, so did the screenwriter, because she had her name removed from the credits), but a discussion of the philosophy of luck.

I generally do not like stories about gambling. They set my teeth on edge because of the inevitable slough of despair the character falls into when the addiction gets the better of him. Despite that, Let It Ride is one of my favorite movies, probably because although the story takes place at Hialeah amid the horse racing culture, it is not a movie about gambling. It’s the story of how the forces of the universe align to give Jay Trotter (Richard Dreyfuss) one perfect day, how he had the wisdom to recognize the gift, and how he had the courage to accept it. Not everyone accepted the gift. Even those who saw what was happening to him and were jealous, refused to follow his lead when he so generously offered to share the luck.

I think the part I liked most about that particular post was my summation: What does this philosophical vision of the movie teach me? Perhaps that luck — and life — should be taken as it comes, we should trust ourselves, and beyond that, we should just let it ride.

So, that was an example of something that I wish I’d written and had. On the other hand, there are a lot of things I read that I am very glad I didn’t write. The last book I read (or attempted to read) was a mystery written by a man from the point of view of an alcoholic woman journalist who kept sabotaging her life. It was a popular book, though I don’t know why. A writer struggling with alcoholism is such a trite theme; hundreds, if not thousands of books (though not a single one by me) have been written with that same generic character.

Another book I was glad I didn’t write was the one I read before that — a novel by a youngish white woman whose point-of-view characters were a flamboyant black woman and an old man (who turned out to be younger than I am). I thought such stories were no longer acceptable in a world where people don’t appreciate race appropriation.

I suppose I should be grateful that I like the things I write since there is so much writing out there that I don’t like. I also suppose I will follow through and email the guy about his podcast, though I’m not sure I’ll accept his offer. I really have nothing much more to say about the movie than what is already in this post and the one where he left his comment.

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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.