Why is this man smiling?

It will be a while before I’m ready to post an account of my week at The Monroe Institute’s Discovery program, but here’s a photo my friend Steve Winchester took of me, wired up, ready for Mind Mirror to record my brain waves while I attempt to perform certain mental feats.

 

You can’t tell from this photo, but four electrodes are attached with goop to specific places on the back of our skulls, and the headband slipped over them to help prevent them from becoming detached.

With 16 people to be wired up, four people to a pod (that is, each group of four wired to the same machine), it could take a while to get going! That’s my friend Dirk Dunning on the gravity chair behind me, already wearing his earphones (you can see mine on the table in front of me) and, like me, waiting for the show to get on the road.

 

Are we all multiple personality, so to speak?

My friend Andy Walbert sent me this very interesting link.

https://www.salon.com/2018/06/23/could-multiple-personality-disorder-explain-life-the-universe-and-everything_partner/

Guidelines

The Monroe Institute’s five-day Guidelines program (assisting people to get into touch with guidance in their everyday lives) includes on its schedule of activities two designated speakers, celebrated remote viewer Joe McMoneagle on Monday night, then me on Wednesday night. So, last night I drove down and spoke to the class, beginning a little after 7:30 and leaving (after a little socializing) at 10:30.

As always, before I began I felt an undercurrent of nervousness — not acute, but persistent — because I do not prepare a talk except in the loosest way. If you want to stay in the moment, which is how I find that I can connect best with people, prepared remarks can get in the way.  Besides, as I always tell them, I don’t regard myself as the entertainment and them as the audience, but instead I think of it as us thinking together. That means staying in the moment.

Last May, when I taught my weekend program there, at one point I heard someone refer to their ordinary life as “the real world,” and I took issue with that, pointing out that it was only in the safe protected environment of a program in the TMI environment that many of them felt safe to express who they really are, what they really believe, as opposed to society’s rigid if incorrect assumptions. That being so, which one should be called the unreal world, the place where they could fully interact as they are, or the place where they feel they need to hide, interacting with others who are also hiding?

So, here in the real world of a TMI course, I did what I could to give them the benefit of what I had learned through 25 years of trial and error. In other words, through 25 years of making mistakes and learning from them. I handed out the crib sheet I had developed for my weekend course, listing the bad models, bad habits, and useless questions that hamper our everyday ability to experience guidance, and gave them my book A Place to Stand, transcripts of the ten black-box sessions that laid the groundwork for everything that has followed.

Yak, yak, yak, all about me. That’s what it felt like, as I gave them my personal history, especially the work I did with Rita Warren and what we learned from it. But then we moved from focusing on me to what should always be the real focus of the talk, them. As always, it was highly interesting. I learn at least as much from people’s questions (because of the need to respond) as they do from my answers, I often think.

So today they move into the final day of their course, then off to the Unreal World, while I prepare for the Discovery course (using Mind Mirror) that begins Saturday night.

Life is good.

About the mind mirror

The Monroe Institute course I am about to take (beginning the 22nd, continuing to the 29th) is all about using the Mind Mirror software combined with TMI’s SAM technology, to help us not only get to unusual mental states, but chart them.

I wrote a brief article about Mind Mirror for The Echo World magazine: http://theechoworld.com/

For the past couple of years, I have written something nearly every month, but I never think to mention it here. The URL above will take you to their website. You will find some fascinating material there.

•Chasing Smallwood — Conclusions and beginnings

[A book with four interlocking themes:

  • how to communicate with the dead;
  • the life of a 19th-century American;
  • the massive task facing us today, and
  • the physical world’s place in the scheme of things.]

Conclusions and beginnings

So much goes on behind the scenes in our lives! Living in one direction, as we must, we often have little idea of the real reason why we’re doing things. When I went to Oregon in September 2005, I hadn’t any idea that a major reason for my trip was to spend an afternoon in a working port on the Columbia River.

 

Since I associate Oregon with Joseph’s journey in the 1840s, naturally I had him in mind even before I got off the airplane. On my first afternoon in Portland, I tried to find a trace of him in the archives of the state historical museum. As usual, I failed to find anything. That night, after a nice supper with my niece, I abruptly changed plans and decided to head out to the ocean instead of heading toward Mount Hood as I had intended. The next morning, I took a different road than I intended (the one I took being the only one I could easily get onto) and as a result I came into Astoria from the west rather than from the east, which gave me an entirely different sense of it than I might have had otherwise. As Joseph mentioned, I saw it immediately as a working waterfront, much as he would have seen it 160 years earlier.

Six weeks later, I arranged and began a sabbatical to write a book about healing and guidance. Six weeks after that, I went quickly from trying to find some validation of Joseph’s story to being haunted (I don’t know how else to describe it) by the words and tune of “Marching Through Georgia,” and then abruptly I was talking directly to Joseph, thinking while doing so that I was goofing off from my “real” task. That shows how much I know ahead of time about where my life is going! In retrospect, the connections are obvious. They weren’t obvious ahead of time.

And, as the material should have made clear, the journey isn’t over yet! We started out simply thinking to talk to Joseph about his life and perhaps accumulate some clues that would enable me to verify his existence. Before you know it (as Joseph would say) there we were, hearing that our time has a huge task ahead of it and that what we are and what we do is important to the other side.

Big jump, especially considering that even at this end of the process I don’t feel that I have proved anything about Joseph. After all that conversation, all that exploring in public and maybe sawing myself off the limb publicly, still I don’t have enough evidence to hang a dog on. So many things I can’t check! “Jackie and me and Bill and Tom,” Joseph says, I have no idea about any of them beyond their names. And so many details I haven’t checked. Was John Muir’s family in Eau Claire? Did people use terms like dirt busters, tree skinners, river roughs? Did people call it the Supreme Court of Slaveholders? I’ve never heard anyone say something was “as strong and willing as a box of bears,” or that raw corn liquor had been “aged in the ear,” and the way Joseph used the term “skunk hollers” doesn’t seem quite right to me. But how could I know? It might all be right, it might all be wrong. No way for me to prove it either way. I end up where I started up: The material resonates, that’s all I know.

Well, that’s not quite all I know. I also know that the process is worth learning, and that you can learn it yourself if you care to, and that it would please the other side greatly if you were to make the attempt.

What makes me say that you could do it too? Experience. I have been doing this since 1989, experimenting, questioning, doubting, testing, arguing all the way. Fortunately, it isn’t necessary to know ahead of time what you are doing or how it works. I had to learn – and you will have to learn — how to bring it through and not choke it off, that’s the hardest part of it. Once you learn how to balance between making it up and choking it off, the rest is easy. You know, just as it was for me! Seriously, though, once you learn how to bring it in, you will probably face the same issues you’ve seen me face: your need for verification, your worry that some other part of your mind has invented the information and the characters you’re talking to, your temptation to pretty up or tidy up the information – which is a pretty reliable way to go wrong.

All I can tell you is, get the story as best you can, and check it as best you can. Test it, don’t just accept the first thing that comes to you. Ask yourself, repeatedly, does this resonate? The fact that information resonates doesn’t prove that you’re on the right track, but I’d say that if it does not resonate, you can be pretty sure you’re on the wrong one.

The closer I looked, the more I realized that there’s very little we can prove about the source of any kind of knowledge, be it ever so conventional. No matter what we think we know, it can never be absolutely true, and what is true in one context may be untrue in another. Our scientific outlook, our religious outlook, our anti-scientific or anti-religious outlook, whatever, can only be provisional. That’s just the way it is, and you might as well get used to it. “Perception versus story” may not be as obvious in everyday life as in matters of psychic exploration. But consider –

Consider first the sciences. Sciences poke around among phenomena, looking for the reality beyond appearances, seeking to deduce the laws of behavior that produce the phenomena. In other words, a science may be described as the abstraction into “laws” of the deduced causes of observed behavior. As each successive layer of phenomena is abstracted and understood, successively more internal layers are investigated and comprehended. Sometimes the new layers make it obvious that previously accepted rules of thumb (so to speak) were too generalized, too rough and ready, and so the previously formed laws are refined. Sometimes new investigations trigger a landmine that blows up the previous structure, or part of it, as for example the discovery of x-rays.

Now, what is this process but the ongoing construction of story to connect perceptions? The story is modified to fit perception, and is modified repeatedly — and in fact scientists are proud of the process, thinking they are all the while advancing upon “truth” which in a way they are. But they advance less by constructing new story than by discarding previous story! That is, scientific investigation may be looked upon as an ongoing demolition of previous story. (It rarely is looked at that way, of course, but it validly might be.)

The fact that a story can be elaborated and modified and even partially torn down and rebuilt differently is no guarantee that it is anything more than a story connecting perceptions! It should be obvious that the more the elaborations (mathematical and otherwise) on the story, the more persuasive it becomes, and the greater the investment in it people have, particularly those whose livelihood depends on it, and who have invested years of intellectual investment in it. But science is not truth; it is story constructed around perception.

Similarly, metaphysics, and religion. The perceptions are real and cannot be doubted by those who have experienced them — but in the nature of things, the structure built upon them is — story. To say it is story is not to say that it is fiction. It is merely to repeat that it is the result of people playing connect-the-dots around what they know or sometimes think they know. Of course we can’t live in the world without story (express and implied), because story is how we make sense of the world. But it is useful to remember that there is a difference between story and reality.

A society is built upon many stories, and a society that tries to live by contradictory story at the same time wracks itself to pieces, as we see around us. Our sciences are essentially materialist at core; our religions are essentially dogmatic; our arts recognize no responsibility to express the deepest truths they find, nor do they have any firm basis for expressing what they perceive. The arts, sciences, the religions, are all headed in different directions, within themselves and when compared one to another. Does this not tell you that they are ungrounded in reality? They are built upon sand, and the shifting of the sands will destroy them. They cannot build upon rock while their story tells them either that there is no rock, or that they are already upon rock, or that we cannot yet tell whether rock exists, or that whether rock exists is a matter for personal opinion.

And that brings us to the question of the other side’s purpose behind these communications.

I could ask, “why me?” but I know that the answer to that question is that I was (1) able to learn to communicate in this way – I don’t need to feel that I know what I’m doing in order to do it – and (2) willing to do my learning in public, risking embarrassment.

Besides, it isn’t just me. People have been doing this for a long, long time, and in our time others are learning to do the same thing, and are gaining confidence to do so in public, just as I did. One purpose of these communications has been to encourage various readers – you, perhaps – to begin to do the same thing.

And why is that important to those on the other side? Well, they made that clear enough: What we do impacts them. Their reality is affected, as much as ours is, by our struggles – or our lack of struggle – against what Joseph calls “hog-ism” – selfishness in its many manifestations. That thought is startling, perhaps, but after all the world’s spiritual traditions have always insisted that we in material reality do matters to the non-physical world.

Lincoln said that he realized – after death – that America’s destiny was not to become an impossibly perfect society but to become a model of an ever more inclusive society. To some extent we have become that. Yet as he and others have pointed out, we are lacking a vision of what we ought to be struggling for. Struggles of Democrat versus Republican, conservative versus liberal versus radical versus reactionary, do not penetrate to the core of the real issue of our time.

That’s one reason why America was tormented by the race issue and by the question of how to deal with the Indians. Fortunate circumstances. and our own resolution, had freed us of the relics of feudal society that still burdened England and Europe – but the race issue assured that we couldn’t just rest on our laurels, and say that we had achieved about as perfect a society as was possible on this earth. Whatever Jefferson meant to do by stating that “all men are created equal,” and whatever the Continental Congress meant in approving the words, the ultimate effect was to promote a transformation far more broad and sweeping than that could have imagined; a transformation continuing today.

But I don’t know if the guys on the other side care so much about whether our social arrangements are fair, or even sustainable. They’re after larger fish. The spiritual crisis of our time, they’ve said, is not political or ideological or economic, but centers on the ongoing death of materialism and the struggle over what is going to replace it. I well remember Lord Clark (Kenneth Clark) 40 years ago ending his television series “Civilization” with these words:

“The trouble is that there is still no centre. The moral and intellectual failure of Marxism has left us with no alternative to heroic materialism, and that isn’t enough. One may be optimistic, but one can’t exactly be joyful at the prospect before us.”

Well, no, it is hard to be joyful when one can’t see the way ahead, and perhaps that is characteristic of a time when one civilization has not quite died and its successor has not quite been born. But we are forty years on from that point, and we are that much closer to the birth of the civilization that will replace what Clark called heroic materialism. We can see the way ahead a little more clearly. And we can see, a little more clearly, the ways in which we each, as individuals, play our part in the great transformation.

* * *

The guys upstairs have said, more than once, there’s no need to go halfway around the world to find out what we’re supposed to do. The next thing is always right at hand. Take the next step and the way opens.

That’s the way it worked for me, for sure, beginning in 1987 when I first made the acquaintance of my higher self. In short order came stories of past lives and then connection with the guys upstairs. Years of on-again, off-again effort deepened the connection; then came external validation of the stories, and help in unfreezing my latent psychic abilities. More years of work, more practice, and I came to direct connection with Joseph Smallwood. This book that resulted from that contact, though, was not the end of the story. From Joseph and David and a few others my contact broadened until sometimes it seemed I had tapped into the cosmic equivalent of the Internet.

Those communications had a purpose. My visitors weren’t just slumming, and I wasn’t just indulging in idle curiosity. But that’s another story, another book.

End

 

 

Mirror neurons

I found this dozen-year-old report in my files, and thought I’d share it.

 

 

Cells That Can READ Minds!

Mirror Neuron Cells Shake Up Science World!

SPECIAL CELLS, CALLED MIRROR NEURON CELLS, CAN READ MINDS!

STUNNING DISCOVERY SHAKING UP VARIOUS SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINES AND SHIFTING OUR UNDERSTANDING OF PHILOSOPHY, LANGUAGE, AUTISM CAUSES, IMITATION AND PSYCHOTHERAPY!

By Sandra Blakeslee, N Y Times Staff Writer, Tuesday, January 10, 2006

On a hot summer day 15 years ago in Parma, Italy, a monkey sat in a special laboratory chair waiting for researchers to return from lunch. Thin wires had been implanted in the region of its brain involved in planning and carrying out movements.

Every time the monkey grasped and moved an object, some cells in that brain region would fire, and a monitor would register a sound: brrrrrip, brrrrrip, brrrrrip. A graduate student entered the lab with an ice cream cone in his hand. The monkey stared at him.

Then, something amazing happened: when the student raised the cone to his lips, the monitor sounded — brrrrrip, brrrrrip, brrrrrip – even though the monkey had not moved but had simply observed the student grasping the cone and moving it to his mouth.

The researchers, led by Giacomo Rizzolatti, a neuroscientist at the University of Parma, had earlier noticed the same strange phenomenon with peanuts. The same brain cells fired when the monkey watched humans or other monkeys bring peanuts to their mouths as when the monkey itself brought a peanut to its mouth.

Later, the scientists found cells that fired when the monkey broke open a peanut or heard someone break a peanut. The same thing happened with bananas, raisins and all kinds of other objects.

“It took us several years to believe what we were seeing,” Dr. Rizzolatti said in a recent interview. The monkey brain contains a special class of cells, called MIRROR NEURONS, that fire when the animal sees or hears an action and when the animal carries out the same action on its own.

But if the findings, published in 1996, surprised most scientists, recent research has left them flabbergasted. Humans, it turns out, HAVE MIRROR NEURONS THAT ARE FAR SMARTER, more flexible and more highly evolved than any of those found in monkeys, a fact that scientists say reflects the evolution of humans’ sophisticated social abilities.

The human brain has multiple mirror neuron systems that specialize in carrying out and understanding not just the actions of others but their intentions, the social meaning of their behavior and their emotions.

“We are exquisitely social creatures,” Dr. Rizzolatti said. “Our survival depends on understanding the actions, intentions and emotions of others.”

He continued, “Mirror neurons allow us to grasp the minds of others not through conceptual reasoning but through direct simulation. By feeling, not by thinking.”

THE DISCOVERY IS SHAKING UP NUMEROUS SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINES, shifting the understanding of culture, empathy, philosophy, language, imitation, autism and psychotherapy. Everyday experiences are also being viewed in a new light. Mirror neurons reveal how children learn, why people respond to certain types of sports, dance, music and art, why watching media violence may be harmful and why many men like pornography.

How can a single mirror neuron or system of mirror neurons be so incredibly smart?

Most nerve cells in the brain are comparatively pedestrian. Many specialize in detecting ordinary features of the outside world. Some fire when they encounter a horizontal line while others are dedicated to vertical lines. Others detect a single frequency of sound or a direction of movement.

Moving to higher levels of the brain, scientists find groups of neurons that detect far more complex features like faces, hands or expressive body language. Still other neurons help the body plan movements and assume complex postures.

Mirror neurons make these complex cells look like numbskulls. Found in several areas of the brain — including the premotor cortex, the posterior parietal lobe, the superior temporal sulcus and the insula — they fire in response to chains of actions linked to intentions.

Studies show that some mirror neurons fire when a person reaches for a glass or watches someone else reach for a glass; others fire when the person puts the glass down and still others fire when the person reaches for a toothbrush and so on. They respond when someone kicks a ball, sees a ball being kicked, hears a ball being kicked and says or hears the word “kick.”

“When you see me perform an action — such as picking up a baseball — you automatically simulate the action in your own brain,” said Dr. Marco Iacoboni, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studies mirror neurons.

“Circuits in your brain, which we do not yet entirely understand, inhibit you from moving while you simulate,” he said. “But you understand my action because you have in your brain a template for that action based on your own movements.

“When you see me pull my arm back, as if to throw the ball, you also have in your brain a copy of what I am doing and it helps you understand my goal. Because of mirror neurons, you can read my intentions. You know what I am going to do next.”

He continued: “And if you see me choke up, in emotional distress from striking out at home plate, mirror neurons in your brain simulate my distress. You automatically have empathy for me. You know how I feel because you literally feel what I am feeling.”

Mirror neurons seem to analyzed scenes and to read minds. If you see someone reach toward a bookshelf and his hand is out of sight, you have little doubt that he is going to pick up a book because your mirror neurons tell you so.

In a study published in March 2005 in Public Library of Science, Dr. Iacoboni and his colleagues reported that mirror neurons could discern if another person who was picking up a cup of tea planned to drink from it or clear it from the table.

“Mirror neurons provide a powerful biological foundation for the evolution of culture,” said Patricia Greenfield, a psychologist at the U.C.L.A. who studies human development.

Until now, scholars have treated culture as fundamentally separate from biology, she said. “But now we see that mirror neurons absorb culture directly, with each generation teaching the next by social sharing, imitation and observation.”

Other animals — monkeys, probably apes and possibly elephants, dolphins and dogs — have rudimentary mirror neurons, several mirror neuron experts said. But humans, with their huge working memory, carry out far more sophisticated imitations.

Language is based on mirror neurons, according to Michael Arbib, a neuroscientist at the University of Southern California. One such system, found in the front of the brain, contains overlapping circuitry for spoken language and sign language.

In an article published in Trends in Neuroscience in March 1998, Dr. Arbib described how complex hand gestures and the complex tongue and lip movements used in making sentences use the same machinery.

Autism, some researchers believe, may involve broken mirror neurons. A study published in the Jan. 6 issue of Nature Neuroscience by Mirella Dapretto, a neuroscientist at U.C.L.A., found that while many people with autism can identify an emotional expression, like sadness, on another person’s face, or imitate sad looks with their own faces, they do not feel the emotional significance of the imitated emotion. From observing other people, they do not know what it feels like to be sad, angry, disgusted or surprised.

Mirror neurons provide clues to how children learn: they kick in at birth. Dr. Andrew Meltzoff at the University of Washington has published studies showing that infants a few minutes old will stick out their tongues at adults doing the same thing. More than other primates, human children are hard-wired for imitation, he said, their mirror neurons involved in observing what others do and practicing doing the same things.

Still, there is one caveat, Dr. Iacoboni said. Mirror neurons work best in real life, when people are face to face. Virtual reality and videos are shadowy substitutes.

Nevertheless, a study in the January 2006 issue of Media Psychology found that when children watched violent television programs, mirror neurons, as well as several brain regions involved in aggression were activated, increasing the probability that the children would behave violently.

The ability to share the emotions of others appears to be intimately linked to the functioning of mirror neurons, said Dr. Christian Keysers, who studies the neural basis of empathy at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and who has published several recent articles on the topic in Neuron.

When you see someone touched in a painful way, your own pain areas are activated, he said. When you see a spider crawl up someone’s leg, you feel a creepy sensation because your mirror neurons are firing.  People who rank high on a scale measuring empathy have particularly active mirror neurons systems, Dr. Keysers said.

Social emotions like guilt, shame, pride, embarrassment, disgust and lust are based on a uniquely human mirror neuron system found in a part of the brain called the insula, Dr. Keysers said. In a study not yet published, he found that when people watched a hand go forward to caress someone and then saw another hand push it away rudely, the insula registered the social pain of rejection. Humiliation appears to be mapped in the brain by the same mechanisms that encode real physical pain, he said.

Psychotherapists are understandably enthralled by the discovery of mirror neurons, said Dr. Daniel Siegel, the director of the Center for Human Development in Los Angeles and the author of “Parenting From the Inside Out,” because they provide a possible neurobiological basis for the psychological mechanisms known as transference and countertransference.

In transference, clients “transfer” feelings about important figures in their lives onto a therapist. Similarly, in countertransference, a therapist’s reactions to a client are shaped by the therapist’s own earlier relationships.

Therapists can use their own mirror system to understand a client’s problems and to generate empathy, he said. And they can help clients understand that many of their experiences stem from what other people have said or done to them in the past.

Art exploits mirror neurons, said Dr. Vittorio Gallese, a neuroscientist at Parma University. When you see the Baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s hand of divinity grasping marble, you see the hand as if it were grasping flesh, he said. Experiments show that when you read a novel, you memorize positions of objects from the narrator’s point of view.

Professional athletes and coaches, who often use mental practice and imagery, have long exploited the brain’s mirror properties perhaps without knowing their biological basis, Dr. Iacoboni said.

Observation directly improves muscle performance via mirror neurons. Similarly, millions of fans who watch their favorite sports on television are hooked by mirror neuron activation. In someone who has never played a sport — say tennis — the mirror neurons involved in running, swaying and swinging the arms will be activated, Dr. Iacoboni said.

But in someone who plays tennis, the mirror systems will be highly activated when an overhead smash is observed. Watching a game, that person will be better able to predict what will happen next, he said.

In yet another realm, mirror neurons are powerfully activated by pornography, several scientists said. For example, when a man watches another man have sexual intercourse with a woman, the observer’s mirror neurons spring into action. The vicarious thrill of watching sex, it turns out, is not so vicarious after all.

——————————————

© Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

 

Angels to each other

[In the course of going through old journal files, I came across this from October, 2004, which may be of interest. It looks like I sent it to friends. Can’t remember now who. I could equally well title this entry “God’s hands.” I am well aware of what a blessing friends are in our lives.]

Friends,

Over the weekend, a reminder of how we are angels to each other.

Last weekend I was scheduled to do the Universal Life Expo in Columbus Ohio, sharing a booth with Books Etc. (an Orrville, Ohio bookstore owned by my friends Charles Sides and Jenny Horner) and, on Saturday, speaking and doing a workshop.

The trouble was, I got sick  the week before, a cold that developed into asthma. It kept getting worse, even at the airport waiting for my flight out. Flew out, and on Saturday gave the talk, gave the workshop, and had a fun supper with Richard and Tara Sutphen (but felt myself getting sicker as the night went on).

Sunday by pre-arrangement I slept late, hit the show about noon, toughed it out through the afternoon. (First time I ever did a trade show sitting down.) Got back to Charles and Jenny’s in Orrville, had kind of a hard night, coughing up phlegm – or trying to – for most of the time. Even sicker Monday morning, but had just one thought in mind: Get back home.

I have been dealing with asthma for more than half a century. It has been a continuing challenge to my self-reliance and independence. Many of my friends think I am far too resistant to getting medical assistance, perhaps not fully realizing what my life looks like from inside. It is often hard to be sure that independence and self-reliance have not passed into pig-headedness, and I have to make the judgment call one incident at a time. When in doubt, I usually have erred on the side of independence, regardless of discomfort.

Monday became decision-time, in a big way.

Charles and Jenny drove me to the airport. I was stopped by security (turned out to be my inhaler causing the beeping) and could scarcely stand unassisted during the wanding. Had to sit and rest before and after putting my shoes back on. It was hard getting to the plane; the few steps down and then up wore me out. The stewardess saw me sitting white-faced and rigid in seat 1A, smiled and asked if I were nervous! All I could gasp out was “asthma.”

It is only a short flight to Pittsburgh but by the time I’d gotten into the terminal, totally breathless, I had to grab a couple of seatbacks, and wait to be able to continue. I had an hour between planes, but didn’t think I could get to the other gate. I flagged a cart and asked for a ride, which represented a first crack in the do-it-yourself-at-all-costs philosophy. Asked if I could pre-board. Second crack. When the plane arrived in Charlottesville, I thought about how far away my car was, and asked the stewardess if they could get me a wheelchair and wheel me there. Third — major — crack in the structure. They did, and as they wheeled me out to the car the guy persuaded me that we should have the guys from Pegasus – a sort of air-rescue unit – check me out. I thought about it and said okay.

The Pegasus guys gave me oxygen and a nebulizer treatment, took blood pressure, pulse, etc., and strongly suggested that I go to the hospital via ambulance. I fought the idea, figuring I could drive home (driving isn’t actually much physical exertion; nowhere near as much as walking, for instance) and then see my doctor. I had just about decided to do that, but then thought that it would be muddle-headed to overrule so much strong advice from so many experienced men — at least half a dozen by then – who were there to help me. And the ambulance was already sitting there. So I gave in, and the rest of the day, and the next day, was a luxury of being cared for by others instead of having to struggle through it by myself.

The entire stay was interesting and I may write about it, but all this is merely leading up to this. There is an old saying that God has no hands to work through but ours. Regardless of your theology, surely you can see that the saying is not only true but obvious. It is never more obvious than when your life is in another person’s hands, which is more often than we usually realize. I watched the functioning of the emergency room for several hours, and what it amounted to was that all these people – doctors, nurses, orderlies, various technical types – are there every day, waiting to help whoever comes in needing help. I woke up early today and put into the form of a cinquain.

E.R.

No breath.

Resource’s end.

Surrendering control

To these calm strangers, knowing them

God’s hands.

 

Be well, my friends. I send you my love.