Last week I woke up thinking about Donald J. Trump. That is not a good thing.  So I decided to put into place a practice of Trumpless Tuesdays.  I am going to take one day out of the week to not focus any energy on the circus that is the Donald J. Trump presidency. It went pretty well.  Today is week two.

I am very engaged politically, maybe too much so. I spend hours every day debating politics, trying to inspire people, watching political coverage and thinking about politics.  Sometimes It gets to be too much. Taking a day a week to at least not think about this particular politician and his cabinet is important for my mental health. It’s impossible to control all of my thoughts on this or to completely avoid coverage. But, the practice is to not engage in or initiate anything giving energy to this.

I did my mediation which was very restless today.  I had to pay some bills which prompted me to look at the bank account, which these days sends me into “What can I do now?” mode. After I took my shower I decided instead of doing what I normally do which is rush to my desk and start making phone calls and working on putting things on the web, I was going to just sit.  I normally do my meditation in the afternoon, after lunch after I’ve had my busy morning.  But, I decided today that I was going to switch it up and sit.  Meditating when you know you have a lot to get done is challenging. What I find interesting about my meditation time is I enjoy it, but I look forward to it being over when I can stop “just sitting” and get up and “do something”.

I’m doing a 365 day meditation challenge which has a guided meditation for every day. Guided meditations are easier for me because they give my mind something to do. I can follow the instructor’s voice. I concentrate on what the instructor says to concentrate on and I’m not wondering “Am I 5 minutes in?  10 minutes in?  How much time is left?”  Today’s meditation was a yoga nidra meditation that is supposed to help you sleep.  Not exactly appropriate for 10 o’clock in the morning, but I tried it.  Maybe it would help me relax. When I realized it wasn’t working, I decided to go back to just a timed meditation with ambient sounds in the background.  25 minutes of just me and my thoughts with no guidance, at a time when I feel like I really need to be doing something, now.

A few minutes in to the mediation, things started coming to me.  “Call Joel and push him on getting the conversion done.  Call Jessica and check to see where the progress is on the marketing.  Call Drew.  Check with Tomoson.”  I wanted to stop the timer and get up right there and then and get these things done. But, I convinced myself nothing was so urgent it needed to be done in the next 25 minutes. So, I sat.  And, I gently pushed these thoughts aside.

When I got downstairs, I noticed a few people had commented on my Facebook post about Trumpless Tuesday.  A few people are trying it with me.  Several commented about how hard it is when it feels like the world’s on fire. One person even said she was trying, but “We know there are some things that cannot wait.” I know it seems that way, which is why it’s important to sometimes when things feel that way. When you have to do something now, to follow the practice of deliberately doing “nothing” to break that cycle of monkey mind.

So, my friend and I were going to this restaurant to have breakfast.  The place was huge. The choice was to either go to the breakfast bar and take what was prepared or to go to a place where you could custom order and have it prepared especially for you. The price was either $0.99 or $1.99 for the breakfast bar and it was $6.99 for the prepared to order.  He went for the breakfast bar, but I wanted my eggs over easy, so I went to the other side. I couldn’t find anyone to serve me though and I started getting frustrated.  Then, I noticed the time. It was 7:40 AM.  I was in college and had an 8 o’clock class. I knew I did’t have time to wait for the custom breakfast and make it to class.  So, I started thinking about how I would handle missing math class.  I could read the lesson in the text book and figure out how to do the homework.  So, I waited for a little longer.  Then, I got impatient and I decided to go to the other side and just eat the crappy breakfast with the powdered scrambled eggs.  As I exited the custom side to head back over, I ran into my father and his twin brother. We talked for a while and I decided I would wait after all.  I’d just miss class. To get back in thought I had to exit the building. When I left, I found myself lost.  I could not get back to the building. I wandered around for a while, then I noticed how beautiful it was outside. It was a bright summer day and the sun was beaming down on my back. At that moment, I realized it was a dream and I was pretty impressed with the complex scene I had created. I had become lucid in my dream  I stood there just soaking it in.  Then, I decided to just lie down and enjoy the weather.

That’s when I woke up.

I think I’ve figured out what the most useless word is in the English language. It’s a short word. It only has two letters, only one more than the minimum.  At least it’s not a waste of a lot of letters. The word is “If”.

I spend a lot of time and energy on this word. I think about the past and if this had happened or if that had not happened.  I worry about the future and if this will happen or not happen.  Pondering the hypothetical world that never was and the world that probably won’t ever be, takes up a lot of my brain capacity.

I wonder what the world would be like if we had discovered Shayna’s heart condition. The cardiologist says we probably wouldn’t have treated it.  As it is, she had two surgeries. We did everything we could possibly do.  Those surgeries were not for the condition that they think probably led to her death. What if they had done a more detailed imaging of her heart? Would they have discovered it? Would we have been able to save her?  Would we have at least had a clue that she might have an event that would take her life? I wonder what if we had known she was going to die.  Would we have done anything different? Would we have spent more time together?  Would we have taken more vacations?  Would we have treated her better?  If, if, if…

The fact is the past is the past. What is is what necessarily has to be. There is no going back and changing it. There is no alternative past to visit.  And we don’t really know if (there’s that word again) a different past is even possible.  What we do know is the past is basically set in concrete.  It can’t be changed. We don’t even know if it could ever have been changed, when it was still the future. So, the pondering of “if” is a complete waste of time that can only lead to regret, sadness, and guilt.

The other problem this if thinking raises is worry about the future. “What if this happens?” occupies the part of my time when I’m not trying to change the past. I worry about all kinds of things that have never happened, but I’ve spend decades worrying about them anyway, just in case.  Maybe the future is just as set in stone as the past appears to be.  We think that we make decisions every moment and that sets us off on a different path. The future is wide open.  There are many possible futures. The future can be anything. But, there is only one future, only one path, we will actually take.  Just because we don’t know it doesn’t mean it’s not already just as concrete as the past.  While planning for the future is a necessary part of being a human being, worrying about the future is a total waste of our time and energy.

This idea has been rattling around in my head for the past couple of days. I’ve been meditating on it and trying to figure out how to eliminate some of this if thinking from my life. The more I can accept the past and not spend time thinking about changing it, the happier I’ll be in the present.  The more I can plan for the future rather than worry about the future, the less stressed I’ll be in the present. The ideal would be to come to a point where I totally accept the past, just as it is.  And, I face the future, just as it will be. But, by then, I’d be a fully enlightened being and would probably just ascend to heaven in a cloud.

Yesterday, Mikhail Gorbachev was quoted as saying the world seems to be preparing for war.  Trump has prompted China to say they need to build more nukes. Trump has fired the first round of shots in a trade war with Mexico by threatening tariffs on their goods.  The doomsday clock has inched closer to midnight. The EIU has warned the US is no longer a full democracy.  Ted Cruz told a little girl a few years ago “The world is on fire.” and she cried.  Today, many are crying.  But, as I pondered the “If” thing, I was reminded of possibly my favorite song by an old group, “Bread”.  The song is titled simply “If”.  It’s a short song, just two and a half minutes long.   My favorite part is the last line.  No matter what the world throws at me, it can’t destroy my soul.

If a man could be two places at one time,
I’d be with you.
Tomorrow and today, beside you all the way.
If the world should stop revolving spinning slowly down to die,
I’d spend the end with you.
And when the world was through,
Then one by one the stars would all go out,
Then you and I would simply fly away

Percey Shelley Quote

No more let Life divide what Death can join together.- Percy Shelley

So, I’m here with the family and we’re having an intervention for our teenage daughter. She’s been acting a little off lately, taking risks and not acting like herself.  I’m sitting in a chair and she is sitting in front of the chair on the floor with her back leaned up against my legs. The rest of the family is seated across from us and we’re expressing our concern for the way she’s been behaving.  She’s got to stop living so dangerously.

As we’re talking to her, she goes from being defensive to being deeply sad and troubled.  Then, it comes out “I’m afraid I’m running out of time.  I don’t know how much time I have left.”  We’re all thinking the same thing. This is ridiculous.  Running out of time?  You’re a healthy, teenage girl.  “What if when I had my slip I hadn’t come back?  I would never see you guys again.”  She bursts into tears.  The slip, I seem to recall, has something to do with a horse she was riding. She took a bad fall, but she is fine.  There’s no reason for her to be acting this way. She’s got a long life in front of her.

I stand up and I pull her towards me. The face I see is the face of Yara Shahidi, the girl who plays Zoe, on Blackish.  (Zoe is the name I had chosen for Shayna before Tywana vetoed it.).  I pull her in close and I can feel her chin snuggled in that area where my neck meets my shoulder. I gently put my hand on the back of her head and I lean down so our faces are right next to each other. I whisper to her “No matter what happens.  We will be together again.”  I feel this surge of energy go through not only me, but through both of us.  It’s a rush that I can’t put into words. I can feel what she’s feeling.  It’s as if we are one.  Then, it hits me who she really is.

I wake up in tears.

When something goes wrong
I’m the first to admit it
I’m the first to admit it
But the last one to know
When something goes right
Well it’s likely to lose me
It’s apt to confuse me
It’s such an unusual sight
I can’t get used to something so right
Something so right

I wish it were something so right I was trying to get used to.  I’m looking for that something so right to be confused by. This is a dark time, literally and figuratively.  Here I sit on January 26th. I barely slept last night, which is unusual for me. I could not get my mind to slow down.  It seems everything is spinning out of control and my brain wouldn’t stop looking for a solution.

It’s been gray for weeks with barely a peek of sun. I saw in meditation yesterday afternoon and, for about five minutes, I actually felt the sun on my skin for the first time in days (seems like weeks).  I like walking early in the morning to watch the sun come up, but I haven’t seen a sunrise in over a week because the sun’s always blocked by clouds.

Most of my friends are freaked out about Trump.  You would think it’s the ed of the world.  And, some headlines would have us believe that. China has announced they need more nukes so that Trump will respect us.  Trump seems hell bent on destroying the environment. He’s trying to go forward with his Muslim ban and his wall, something most of us thought was all just bluster.

I’ve got friend dealing with cancer (multiple), friends dealing with divorce, friends dealing with kids in mental hospitals (multiples), friends dealing with depression from above factors.

Right now it seems like the sun will never shine again.  Let’s hope it does and I have to start getting used to something so right.

Once you accept who we are, immortal beings having a temporary human experience, the next question is why are we here?  Not why do we exist per se. Why are we here on this ball of confusion full of pain and suffering?

Some say we’re here to learn and to grow. If we’re already immortal beings living in a carefree world, why learn the lessons of Earth?  To build character? Maybe.  Maybe it’s simpler than that.

I look for analogies. Think of this. Some of us love to play video games. Video game programmers know that people will only play if the game has a certain level of difficulty. This is absolutely essential for any good video game.  If the game is too easy, people will only play for a few minutes and quit. There’s no challenge. So, there’s no enjoyment. If the game is too difficult, you get the same result. People will play for a short time. Then they quit because they know they will never get anywhere. Video game programmers have to find that sweet spot where the game is difficult enough to be challenging, so when you achieve a goal it provides some sense of accomplishment.

Maybe we’re just all playing the ultimate immersive video game.

I’m reading a book, by a grieving father who happens also to be a medium. In the book he gives advice on how to survive this situation that none of us wanted to find ourselves in.  One piece of advice that comes up over again is to let go of the physical addiction for our loved one who is now in spirit. It makes sense. When the person we love is no longer in the flesh, the desire to have them in the flesh is about as useful in our lives as the desire to fly.  It ain’t gonna happen.  No amount of wishing or hoping will bring their physical form back. So, the smart thing to do would be to let go of that desire.

On an intellectual level, this is easy to understand. And, if we begin to develop spiritually and realize that the forms we see ourselves and each other as are merely media through which our spirits manifest, we can begin to see beneath the surface of ourselves and our loved ones into their true nature. However, the leap between that and feeling the love of our loved ones who are no longer here to express themselves physically is a leap across a giant chasm.

We got to know them by their smiles, their wit, the spark in their eyes, the sweetness of their voices. We kissed them good night. We hugged them.  We wrestled with them.  We cared for them when they were sick. All of these things are done in the physical realm that we are stuck in.

I skipped my walk yesterday because it literally rained all day long.  It’s been a very long, very gray winter so far.  I can’t recall the last time we had a day of full sun. Yesterday, it was like the sun didn’t rise at all. This morning I got my five miles in while listening to an interview with another medium. Once that interview ended, I decided to listen to Kenny Loggins’ Leap Of Faith album which has been one of my favorites for over 20 years now.  The album came out before I even had children.  The theme is about his love for his daughter and his son. After Kayla and Shayna were born the album had much more meaning for me than it did when I first heard it in 1994.  Now, with Shayna’s passing, it takes another level of meaning, especially the song “Sweet Reunion” which brings torrents of tears every time. I haven’t cried in a while, so the cry this morning was cleansing.

I wish I could say I have had some sort of breakthrough on this physical desire thing. I have not. The only solution I can see is to look forward to the day when I break the chains of the physical.

This weekend was Trump’s first weekend in office.  He was inaugurated on Friday, said he was taking the weekend off, and was going to report to work as President today- Monday.  Many protested his inauguration simply by ignoring it. The inauguration was lightly attended, but Saturday there were marches around the country, organized by women. Estimates are that approximately 3 million people participated in those marches (ironically just about the number of votes that Hillary Clinton got more than Donald Trump).  Trump just could not stand this. So, on Saturday afternoon, he summoned the Press to the White House briefing room and sent his Press Secretary out to scold the press on the “false” news that the inauguration had been so lightly attended.  This was the first White House press briefing of the new administration, the critical story of how many people were in attendance to pay homage to President Donald J. Trump.

Tywana went out and did the Cincinnati women’s march. It seems like most of the women I know were marching in their respective cities. The moods of the marches were very upbeat. People are fired up and ready to go to fight the Trump agenda.  As a political junkie myself, I’m sitting here wondering where all of this enthusiasm was in November.  I’m wondering where all of these people are during the midterm elections.  Then I started to think “Maybe we’re addicted to drama.”  One of my friends suggested the cure to Trump’s narcissism and gaslighting us is to simply ignore him.  That’s a great suggestion. There are just two problems. The first is it’s a little difficult to ignore the most powerful man in the world, especially when he’s a Twitter addict. Second, I think we’re addicted to drama.

We went from No Drama Obama- the most squeaky clean President and administration in my lifetime, to a man where we literally wonder what the hell he’s going to do or say next.  Trump’s cabinet picks and Trump himself were embroiled in scandal before he even took the oath of office. In his first 24 hours officially in, he has already started a war with the press.  He went in front of the CIA on Saturday and called the press liars again.

It’s almost as if we said “This is boring.”  Under the Obama administration, by almost every objective and relevant measure things in this country improved. So what happened.  Those who supported Obama and his agenda got complacent. Some said things didn’t improve enough. Those who didn’t support Obama said things were going to hell and bought into Trump’s dystopian view of America. His inauguration speech is known as the “American Carnage” speech. They have bought into the notion that America is not only going to hell, America is hell.

Now that Trump has taken office, the marches have begun. The moods of the marches was interesting. As I said earlier, they were very upbeat.  People seemed to actually enjoy having a cause to rally around.

These next four years will be “interesting”. The old Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times.” applies. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we know it will be anything but boring and it’’ll be filled with drama.  I can’t help thinking we brought this on ourselves.

People speculate why we incarnate in the first place. Is it for “spiritual growth”? Do we place ourselves in hardships to become better people?  Could be.  But, I’m wondering more and more if maybe it’s just because we are addicted to drama.  After all, we write books and make movies where the heroes always get into scrapes before they are saved.  Do we create real drama in our real lives for the rush of being able to work our way out of it?

I’m a silver lining kind of guy. My belief is that Trump represents a dying breed. I see him as a T-Rex (tiny little hands and all).  He represents the death throes of an era that we are ready to put behind us. But, we needed this last hit of drama to really seal the deal.

A couple of days ago I listened to a podcast with my friend Cyrus Kirkpatrick.  I call him my friend.  I think we need a new term- cyberfriend.  I “met” Cyrus after hearing another interview with him about his book “Understanding Life After Death”. I’ve never actually met him. I’ve interacted with him quite a bit on his Facebook group. Cyrus takes a no-nonsense, hands on approach to life after death.  He wants to understand the mechanics of it.  As such, he is an OBE traveler.  He can leave his body and travel the astral planes, which he claims are where most of us go after we depart this plane.  Cyrus insists the new age belief that we all become balls of loving light, non-feeling enlightened masters, at the moment of death, is nonsense.  Cyrus, like many mediums, says that when we die, we essentially remain who we are.  Then, last night I was reading a book by Steven Joseph, “The Tall Medium”, and he was saying emphatically that when we die, we leave all “negative Earth” emotions here.  Anger, jealousy, regret, all of it, it’s just gone. We become loving, balls of light/energy or something. There is no physical existence in the afterlife or between life realms.  I guess we just float around- disembodied.  He also said that to break the grip of grief we have to let go of the physical attachment to our loved ones and accept that they are these energetic amorphous things now. To connect with them, we have to clear ourself of this physical addiction, give up all addictions (alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, processed foods, etc.) and then we can maybe reach some sort of connection.  That wasn’t resonating with me at all.

It’s interesting to hear such dogmatic views of what lies ahead for all of us.  The afterlife that Steven describes sounds like the boring heaven I imagined as a kid.  It’s nothing like Earth.  We were taught about “streets of gold” and milk and honey (I don’ like either).  In this paradise, we have nothing to do really other than sing songs- “When we’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.”  Arggh!  Really? Shoot me now.

People who have astral projected, many mediums (most?) and even many who have had NDEs, say that we go to a “place” that is very similar to Earth. And why not?  Earth is “good”.  As far as I’m concerned, Earth is almost paradise.  There are three major factors keeping it from being a place I’d like to spend a very long time, if not eternity.  1.) The need to “earn a living”.  We spend so much time and energy just trying to keep these meatsuits alive. We have to pay for even the most basic things- food, shelter, even water.  Those things cost money and money has to be “earned”.  I couldn’t give a percentage estimate of how much of my time is spent in pursuit of providing a living for myself, Tywana and Kayla, but it’s way up there. If I’m not working, I’m thinking about what I should be doing.  If I didn’t need to earn money, I’d still do “productive” things.  I’d still help people. I’d still want a sense of purpose.  I envision a world where people do what needs to be done for love and a sense of fulfillment rather than for money 2.) The constraints of time. There are so many times I think of how I haven’t seen a friend for a very long time. There are so many things I’d like to do.  But, there’s never enough time.  We all know we only have so many years. In addition to not having a large number of years, in prime health especially, we can only do one thing at a time, only be in one place at a time. I don’t know how time works on the other side or if it exist at all, but I’ve been told it’s very different.  We are not constrained by time. We don’t have to fight it.  We can take our time and do the things we enjoy.  Unlike here, where time is our most precious thing, there time is not our enemy.  3.) Sickness, death and separation- I put these all together because they are so closely related.  One of the reasons time is so precious is because we know that sickness, death, and separation is coming for us all.  If it hasn’t hit you yet, it’s only a matter of time.  These are things I believe we come here to experience because they don’t exist in the other realms. They bring life into sharp focus. They make us appreciate the good times.  They still hurt like hell though.

If I could remove those three things from this world, it’d be pretty OK.  The notion of a non-physical existence of being a loving, ball of energy with no capability to feel anything other than some blissed out existence doesn’t sound appealing to me.  When people say they like what they have rather than something else I often question if they know what they like or if they like what they know.  Maybe that existence is superior and I just can’t fathom it from where I sit now. Maybe. But, the astral planes sound pretty cool to me. I could hang out there for a few hundred years at least.