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Regardless


by

L.P. Stribling

Start over, you need to start over.

Not entirely, but with your thoughts,

With where you think you need to be.

Start over.

’T’s cold outside. Empty.

Don’t see many people walking around.

You’re not them. Focus on you.

You’re ready to meet your own people,

Remember, we’re starting over.

I’m a writer. Regardless.

Regardless of what words are,

Written on my lanyard, of what it says

on my driver’s license, my résumé,

or what comes of the mouths of my loved ones

Pertaining to the question of “what it is I do.”

I’m a writer.

And I recognize that,

Because I’m starting over.

Quick drive down. Cut the engine.

Now I’m with them – the only ones who know

Who I really am. I know them too.

We smile, we laugh as we snack.

Because we all get. Regardless.

Regardless of what words are used out there.

We’ve started over.

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The Language I Live With


Without going into the sparkles and glimmer of the situation, let’s just say there are more than Kerrie and me in our house – quite a few more.

We got home today and Richard popped out of his space to say hello. Some nights he’s chatty; others he’s not. Tonight he was in quite the mood. English isn’t his first language and this is the gem that came up this evening:

R: Kerrie’s a life-saver. She saved my life.

L: I agree. She saves lives.

R: I was gonna knife my couch, and she stopped me.

L: Well, wouldn’t that mean that she saved the couch’s life?

R: Yes, but she saved my life too.

K: You’re so sweet, Richard.

R: You’re a light saber.

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Dr. Dyer On New Year’s Resolutions


This is from Dr. Wayne Dyer, one of my great spiritual teachers.

My love to you all, one day at a time.

-lp

—–

i-am

Today is the dawn of the New Year. So you’re probably working on a list of things that you’d like to get done in 2015. Well, I’d like to ask you to forget about making these resolutions. Forget about deciding on the first day of January how you will be conducting your life in September, some nine months later. Any resolution that involves making decisions about future behaviors is a waste of time. It also reinforces the self-defeating notion of living in the future.

For 2015, wouldn’t you rather live in the present moment?

This day that you’re living right now is the only day you get. Period. You can resolve to be skinny when next July rolls around, or to quit smoking next month, or to write that book you’ve been meaning to, or to embark on your overdue exercise program by the end of this year. You can go about resolving until the cows come home, and you still have to live your life just like everyone else on the planet: One day at a time.

You can only live minute to minute. You can certainly use up your present moments thinking about what you’ll be doing in the future, but that doesn’t change the fact that you can only live in the now. The important question to be asking yourself is:

How am I going to live in the present moment this year?

Will I waste these moments reviewing the way I used to behave? Will I waste these moments reviewing how I would like to behave in the future rather than resolving to live each day to the fullest?

The New Year is a good time to initiate a plan so you can make some changes and help live your life to the fullest. See if you can practice thinking differently. Decide very specifically what it is that you would like to change about yourself in 2015. If you have some goals in mind, vow to work on them day by day rather than making them a year-long project.

When you set up day-to-day goals for yourself, you can begin living this way for the rest of your life. Remember this little piece of advice, which will be extremely helpful to you if you can incorporate it into your life: When you go for one entire day without eating sugar (or not smoking, or being assertive, or any other new behavior), you are a totally different person at the end of that day. What you must learn to do is let that totally different person decide on the second day whether to do it again on this new day, rather than letting the same old person decide today that it is going to be difficult in a couple of days anyhow, so what’s the use. Always let the New You make the decision, and then you’ll be living your present moments.

Remember, you are in control of all thoughts in your head. When you are using up your present moments to worry about the future, constantly reviewing the past to come up with how you should have done it differently, or contemplating disaster, remind yourself that you are wasting this particular present moment.

Practice cancelling out negative thoughts for a few minutes at a time. Vow to enjoy the next five minutes regardless of what has previously transpired or what you think is about to happen. Remind yourself of the folly of wasting your present moments on mental activity that focuses exclusively on your past or imagined future. All of your thoughts about what you should have done, or how terrible things were in the past will not change one tiny slice of the past.

As you celebrate this New Year and each precious present moment, here are 10 reminders to help you live in the Now:

1. Remember that habits are changed by practicing new behavior. By practicing new thinking every five minutes, you’ll soon begin to master the art of present-moment living.
2. Do an honest assessment of your “problems.” You’ll very likely discover that almost all of your problems are really in your head and not located in reality.
3. Take time to be mindful of everything around you. Begin to look at your entire surroundings in a new light. Observe every detail on every face, every building and every object. If you do this often enough it will become a habit that will facilitate your being alive in every moment of the year.
4. Change your attitude. Begin an attitude-redevelopment plan. That means practice enjoying everything you do.
5. Be specific about what you want and take action. Decide on one thing that you would like to work on and do it today. Work at it daily, rather than making it a long-range objective.
6. Create a self-improvement agenda for yourself. Put on your agenda whatever activities you’ve always thought about but never had time to do. Do them now.
7. Rid yourself of mundane chores that are not really that important. Spend more time making your life a pleasure.
8. Eliminate procrastination as a lifestyle. Instead of talking to yourself about what you are going to do next week or even tomorrow, use this time to start a new task.
9. Don’t give up control of your life to others. You cannot enjoy the present moment if you are busy trying to make everyone else like you. People respect you more when you operate from a position of strength and self-reliance.
10. Feel good about yourself. You are a magnificent human being. Always feel good about that self that you are always with.

For 2015, as I have for many other years, I vow to be fully alive and see the world the way Walt Whitman described it to be many years ago: “To me…every cubic inch of space is a miracle.” I really believe that.

I wish you a New Year filled with many miracles. May you live a long and productive life—one present moment at a time.

Love,
I AM,
Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

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Goodbye, Brittany.


I cannot remember a time, I’ve heard the voice of Courage this loud – LP

“Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more. The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!”

Brittany Maynard
1985 -2014

 

 

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Choosing to Die


Brittany

I just learned several days ago about the young woman in Oregon, Brittany Maynard, who has chosen to end her life on November 1st of this year. If you don’t know the story, you can read the rest of this piece or go to her web site.

Her story started with headaches, minor at first, and then stronger and stronger until they were unbearable. Who knows how many times she went to see a doctor. Think about it, every time you go to a new doctor, you just want him/her to tell you that the previous six doctors didn’t know what they were talking about – you’re gonna be fine.

But it’s not, at least not according to the seventh doctor. Maybe an eighth?

Brittany’s condition was one of those rare beasts which asked the medical professionals to reach into the dusty section of their bookshelves, and thereafter figure out how to tell the family the unpleasant news.

“You have cancer – one of the worst.”

And then…

“Six months at best.”

From a social standpoint, can it get worse? Sure. She’s 29, and she just recently got married.

The short and sweet of it is that Brittany thought about it and thought about it, and in the end decided she didn’t want to put her family through that. With the support of her family and friends, she came to her own decision, that she would end her life on November 1st this year.

In understanding Brittany’s story, I look again at the silly notion that some countries have suicide is illegal, or at least any attempt at suicide is illegal. Why? I don’t get it. Okay, don’t kill anyone else; yeah, I get that. Every person life is their own and no other person has any other right to take the life of another. Got it.

But what’s the deal with making it illegal for someone to take her/his own life? What do you care? I don’t mean that disrespectfully, but if someone wants to go, there’s no one, family or otherwise, who has any right to tell them that they’re not allowed. Their life is their own.

I find myself in admiration of those who see their road ending prematurely and choose to ride it out to the end, simply because its their road to walk and no one else’s. They don’t want to switch paths; they don’t want to ride on someone else’s path; and they don’t want to spend the time trying to go against the Universe and make a completely new path – one the Universe never intended them to have in the first place. There is a great deal of admiration I have for these people. Aside from Brittany’s tale, how many of these types of people have you heard about? It’s not all that often that we get to hear of people who take full responsibility of their lives at all costs.

The reason I say this is because the goal for most in our society is live a long life. We often forget that along with the ‘long’ bit we want to live a healthy live. It’s not so much important to live long as it is to live well. But that’s beside the point. The thing is, in her video she talks about what she’s doing to enjoy life before she passes.

She talks about what it is like going through this. Her parents talk about it, how hard it is to deal with it, and amid all of it, there is a constant return to how much pain there is involved. But the pain mostly comes from her parents (her mom). Brittany herself seems to be at peace with it all, which seems natural in a sense. It’s sort of the kind of strength one would expect her to show considering her state.

She has talked about what she has decided her final resting place to be, where she will pass, who will be there, the music that will be playing. It’s almost romantic in its finality.

We wonder, when we hear stories like this, what it must be like for the family, her husband, certainly, to whom she has been married for a year now. What is it like for them, those who will be around her when she passes, being there with her, to hold her hand and watch her transition from the world of the living into whatever comes after that.

It’s weird even for me, to write this about her here and now. I’ve never spoken with this girl, never heard of her, and if she weren’t terminally ill, I probably wouldn’t think twice about her. I don’t mean that in a disparaging way, of course, but just seems like it’s the truth. But here I am writing this about her now, and I feel somehow connected to her. Not that we understand each other, but that there is a wavelength, a thread, somewhere in the picture, the picture that none of us have been able to make out in our human history. I feel connected to her in that I’m connected to all of us, as we all are connected to one another, and I am saddened by the forthcoming loss of a piece of my spirit. John Donne said it so poignantly in his poem No Man is An Island.

                        If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less,

                                                                        …

                      Each man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind,

I write this in celebration of Brittany Maynard. You inspire me and I have a great deal of admiration for you. Thank you for another reminder of how beautiful and precious life is. May blessings and love sing you into eternity.

 

 

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Ebola or Not – You’re going to die anyway


Why are you worried about Ebola? Why?

Seriously, the whole world is worried about Ebola. Everyone’s freaking out, but at the end of the day, what’s the point of worrying about it? Let’s go over our options.

Option A: You get Ebola – If you get it, then you’re probably going to die, after which point, you won’t be worrying about it anymore.

Option B: You don’t get it – Hey, great news. You’re still alive. Get back to work.

The Media sensationalize things. It’s their job. That’s what they do. How many of us really know what the deal is, really know what’s going on in the Ebola-ridden areas of the world. Hasn’t it recently been confirmed that Spain does NOT have Ebola? There were all these reports going back and forth about Ebola traveling (first class) to Europe and now the rest of Europe’s going to have it, and we’re going to go back to the Black Plague and the Spanish Flu and there were screams and crying going on world-wide.

 

My gosh, people, settle the hell down. Just because the Media say it does not make it true. That means, just because it’s all over every magazine on the shelf at Barnes & Noble does not mean you should believe it. In fact, I would argue that there are many other wondrous areas of B&N that you should be exploring that are much more interesting than the magazine racks. Ephemeral literature has its place, sure, but that’s all stuff that’s going to be recycled and old news within the span of a week or so, but the books on the shelves, those are the ones that are (more-or-less) timeless. I guess I would much rather get caught up in fiction than anything non-fiction out there. It’s much more interesting.

How many of you remember Y2K? The Hauntavirus? Al-Qaeda? And now ISIS? Some believe that the U.S. Government will take away our 2nd Amendment? ..and the list goes on.

You can find all kinds of things on the Internet these days. I’m not saying any of them are true, nor am I saying they’re false. I’m saying they’re all there. Human beings have this strange fear of all kinds of things. Some believe that Aliens will invade us, that there’s a strange Planet X (or whatever the planet’s new name is) out there to destroy us all and then Earth’s civilization will be no more and we’re all going to die! AAAHHHHHH!

Okay, well let’s look at it in a different way, if you die, so what?

Seriously. So you die…..

Okay….

So?

Whether you die today or in fifty years, guess what. You’re still going to die. So, if you don’t know when you’re going to die, isn’t I a better idea to get all the shit done that you want to get done knowing that your check-out date is unknown?

Stop Reading and Believing Dumb, pointless shit! Go out there and live your life. I don’t care if you like knitting, playing video games, soccer, eating pizza, studying languages, spending time with family or friends, as long as you’re enjoying what you’re doing, isn’t that the point?

You’re going to die. So, either you can spend from now until they nail up your coffin or dust out the still-cooling crematorium cell to worry about it, or you can just enjoy what you got and go out they way your natural life has intended for you to go out. I really don’t care about what you decide. I just want to whining and the bitching to stop. I mean, if I get Ebola, then….well….I guess I have Ebola.

You do the best you can and that’s all that you can do. You take steps to avoid certain dangers and the game will play out the way the game plays out. I’ve heard the complaint ‘I don’t want to die,’ I don’t know how many times. I’m sorry to break it to you, but you’re gonna die. I don’t know of anyone in human history who’s evaded that obstacle.

But, think about it, we have the potential of dying at any given moment in our lives. We could go out there and get hit with a car, an asteroid, a bullet, a random flying blade, or a coffee cup tossed in the heat of a fraternal or sororal dispute. But the fact remains, we are all mortal (at least for the most part), and we do have our frailties.

Can we please just stop caring about when, where, and how we’re going to die? When we’re dead, we’re not even going to have to worry about it. So, why worry about something that we’re not going to have to worry about anyway?

Ebola or no, I’m going to enjoy today.

 

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You’re going to die


I’ve told you about how much I love Chuck Wendig in the past. This is another example of his stuff. He writes all the time and is one of my prime inspirations in the writerly life.

I haven’t written in a bit, but it’s still there and I’m still at it, tackling the big piles of the distractive life as it fires it’s photon missiles at me when it thinks I’m least expecting it.

This post is a reminder, Penmonky style, about living for the moment.

There is no such thing as later/tomorrow/the future/ afterwards. There’s only now.

I know you know this, but we’re always the cocky fuckers who forget and think we have time, which is never the case, is it? It’s always Father Time who’s got us, by the nethers…the perv.

lp

YOU ARE TOTALLY GOING TO DIE

Many Broken Graves
Over there? That’s your gravestone.

It’s there, on the hill. Or in the valley. Maybe under a cherry blossom tree or by a babbling creek. Or maybe you’re a sack of kitty-litter-looking ashes on a mantle somewhere. It doesn’t much matter because, drum roll please, you’re dead.

Or, rather, you’re going to be dead. One day.

No, I’m not threatening you. I don’t have to. Life paired with time have together earned that pleasure. Unless you’re some kind of vampire, you were born with a ticking clock whose watchface was turned inward so that none can see it.

You are totally going to die.

I’m not Miriam Black. I don’t know when. Might be 50 years from now. Or ten. Or ten weeks, days, minutes. I certainly don’t know how. Cancer might juice your bowels. A hunk of frozen shit might fall off a 747 turbine and crush you in your recliner. Bear attack. Meth overdose. Choke on a hot wing. Stroke. Heart attack. Robot uprising. No fucking clue. And I don’t want to know the specifics. I don’t need to know the specifics because we are all given over to the universality of a limited mortality. The one aspect of our lives that is utterly and irrevocably shared is death.

That’s grim shit, I know.

I’ve spent a goodly portion of my life worrying about death. Or, more to the point, about how it’ll get me. I picture death less as a comical specter and more as the black dog of myth, always hounding my steps, ducking out of sight as I look for it, but always regaining my scent and waiting for the opportune moment to strike. Sometimes this manifested as a kind of hypochondria, a condition no doubt exacerbated by a Reader’s Digest Medical Guidebook I found in my house when I was around 10 years old, a book whose graphic flowcharts aimed to help you discern the truth of your symptoms — though of course they usually ended up convincing me I had some kind of rare tropical doom parasite. (For a while I seriously thought I had worms in my face. For no reason other than my teeth had left marks on the inside of my cheeks and became convinced that these divots were WORM TUNNELS. So, y’know, thanks Reader’s Digest.)

If it wasn’t hypochondria plaguing me, it was sheer existential terror. The realization that one day everything I know and everything that I am would one day hit an invisible wall and drop off into a deep, black sea trench, never to be reclaimed. And maybe never remembered — after all, all those who care about me would one day be dead, too.

I know. WHEE, right?

There comes a point when all this either was going to keep pinning me to the ground like a heavy boot or it was going to be the thing that I could push past or even use as a springboard to fling my dopey ass forward. One day it occurred to me that this revelation about death could be viewed as something representative of freedom. A grim, unruly freedom, one with a somewhat grisly underpinning, but freedom just the same. Because we all share this thing. We all share the reality of an impending death. We are all dying. Right now. All part of a cycle of birth, life, decay, death, all part of the washing machine tumble of chaos and order, structure and entropy, light and dark.

None of us — not a single one — are promised tomorrow.

We share that because we share the possibility of death.

But we share something else, too.

We share This Fucking Moment Right Fucking Here.

This one. The one with the masking tape across it and the permanent marker signifying:

NOW.

We all get now.

We all get the moment in which we exist.

A lot of you are writers. (Or “aspiring” writers, a term I hate so bad it causes a sudden chafing of my testicular region as if some surly ghost were rubbing a spectral bootbrush against my nads even as I sit here and type.)  And whenever I talk to writers and we get down to the nitty gritty of what they’re doing or hope to one day accomplish, they’re often mired in a sense of fear. Paralyzed sometimes by the what if’s and the big blinky question marks that look as much like a swooping scythe as they do a piece of punctuation. And a lot of writers are forward-thinking or future-leaning, expecting that the day will come that everything will work itself out and life’s magic highway will present them with an endless series of green lights…

…and they’ll finally get to do what they want to do.

My father lived his life in preparation for his retirement. Set everything up so that he could retire a bit early, move out West, and live his remaining years with the pleasurable, simple life for which he had waited. Of course, he died a few years into that retirement — so, while he had the privilege of living some of his dream, it sure wasn’t much when seen in the shadow of an entire life prepared for it. Too little time in the sun, too long in the anticipation of it.

Writers, artists, anybody: you are not promised that time.

You are promised right now.

I’ve said this before and I like to give a lot of these go forth and do it, please excuse my Doc Marten firmly ensconced in your spongy squat-grotto talks, and this one probably isn’t all that different from things you may have heard me say before. But it’s a thing I sometimes like to remind myself, and since this blog is primarily me-yelling-at-me, it’s a thing I’m going to remind you about, too.

You’re going to die, writer-types.

But you have now, right now, so use it.

And you may think that this advice for the aspiring-types only, for those novitiates on the Sacred Penmonkey Order, but it’s not. It’s for you story-seasoned word-brined motherfuckers, too. Because writers with careers short and long, we sometimes get a little lost in the weeds. Lost in things outside of us. Trends and markets, industries and Amazon rankings. We find ourselves jealous of other writers or fearful of the uncomfortable arranged marriage between the forces of art and commerce. Sometimes we forget that we have things we want to do, stories we want to tell, and we lose that in that the briar-tangle of uncertainty and anxiety and existential unease. Because just as we can as humans worry about the very nature of our existence, we can worry about our existence as writers, too. We worry about how long we’ll be allowed to do what we do. We wonder when someone will figure out that we’re stowaways on this ship, imposters at this party, strangers in our own chosen lives.

None of that really matters. I mean, it matters in little ways — in intellectual, commercial ways. But it doesn’t always help you to tell the tales you want to tell. It doesn’t always force that quantum entanglement between your ass molecules and the chair protons so that you can create some motherfucking art quarks, does it?

You can’t control a lot of the things you’re worried about.

You can maybe adjust them, or nudge them.

But you can’t control publishing. Or the audience. Or bookstores.

You can’t control whether a fridge-sized shit-glacier will drop off a plane and kill you.

What you can control is the height of your chair. You can control a little of your comfort as you sit at the desk — or stand, if you prefer. You can control which word processor you use, or which notebook you prefer. You can control what words you put down, in what order, and what story grows up from those words. You can control the work. That’s yours. Everything else is open to your occasional influence, but the one thing you can control is that you are writing this book.

And you have that control right now.

In this moment.

Not tomorrow.

Not in ten years.

Because you don’t know what happens then.

You do know that one day, it’ll all be over. And I can’t speak to what comes after — Heaven, Hell, Hades, Happy Hunting Grounds, Toledo — but that’s not the point. You don’t live for the end. You live for the moment. You live for this thing you want to do.

So, do it.

Right now.

You’re temporary.

Use that to create something permanent — or, at least, closer to permanent than you.

Let death motivate you. Let your inevitable demise impel you forward.

Go. Create something. Be the best version of yourself. Now. Here. This very second.

While you’re still alive.

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When death takes you


Grim_Reaper_by_GraffitiWatcher

How old were you when you first came to the realization that you were going to die? I’m not sure I can conjure adequately the words here, but thinking back, I would have placed my mood somewhere in the “oh shit” range. My brother told me that he remembers the thought, and how when it came to him, he broke down into tears.

Not that I’ve read it all, but I would venture to guess that not one page of humanity’s recorded history finds a being whose physical body has not returned to the earth. It’s this destination to which Emily Dickenson refers in her beautiful poem, “This Quiet Dust”

This Quiet Dust

By Emily Dickenson

This quiet dust, was gentlemen, and ladies,
And lads and girls,
Was laughter and ability and sighing,
And frocks and curls,
 
This passive place, a summer’s nimble mansion,
Where bloom and bees,
Fulfilled their oriental circuit,
Then ceased like these.
 

Whether your conviction is that you can control when you die or not, the matter is plain; one day, death will take you. And should there be someone on the other side, my thoughts are that she will ask you in earnest, “So, what did you do with the time that was given to you?”

And what will be your answer?

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Hip in the Hamptons


Has it been that long? Jesus. Well, if it matters at all, I have just had the first break in a long while this past weekend. Here’s the gist of it – my job is great. My wife and I live in the Hamptons in an incredible house….and a pool. That’s it. Okay, no, that’s not it.

The people are great. The job is excellent, and the food is sapid!

But yes, I’ve been out of touch for long bit. There’s been little time to keep in touch with friends and family, but that’s quite all right; we’ve been getting the phone calls and we loved the birthday wishes.

 

Thank you for those.

Classes are great. I teach Mandarin to all levels 7th through 12th and the kids ask me things like, “Are you going to make the test hard?”

 

That’s basically it – life is great.

 

We found a Barnes & Noble this weekend, which was a welcomed respite. I needed a nice browse around a ‘bookseller’ after spending the last couple of weeks planning lessons non-stop. Got a couple of magazines (Wired and The Writer – have you heard of the former at all?) and had a round of appetizers at the Cheesecake Factory. I love that their menu’s like a novel.

Still reading The Desert Spear, and would like very much to get the 29th volume of the One Piece series. Yes, I know there are upwards of 70, but I’m treating it like BUD/s, one evolution at a time.

Working on reconnecting with regularity.

He puts the Win in Baldwin
He puts the Win in Baldwin

P.S. Oh, and did I mention I saw Alec Baldwin with a three-day beard pushing a shopping cart through a parking lot? Funny guy.