Reality Check

taking a fresh look

104 When one size does not fit all

Three degrees In Article 89 a monkey, a dog, and a chicken try to get through a fence. The monkey finds a hole in the fence, the dog follows the monkey, and the chicken stubbornly bangs against the fence. Plato used the myth of the metals to assign attributes to different people. Today we will perform the exercise using the collection of animals: invent, follow, and deny. Degrees In my upbringing, heaven includes three degrees: the highest for enlightened people, the middle for faithful followers, and the lowest for practitioners of willful rejection. Pondering this theme has taught me that …

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100 Labor for heaven here and now

Heaven in progress Come walk with me through the outskirts of heaven, a metaphorical staging area. We can stroll through the prototype together. Rearward view First, let us reflect how I got here. Before my earliest days of marriage and fatherhood, I had dropped out of a free clinical trial after ten sessions with the psychiatrist at student health. The rest of my psychoanalysis has been autodidactic. That means I had to figure it out for myself. Occasionally, after tuning a piano for a social worker, I would bounce around some ideas. I had long before figured out that the …

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99 What is so good about heaven?

Heavenly relief You know the song, “Is there Mogen David in heaven? If not, who the __ wants to go?” There is a reverent way of looking at the lyrics. They anticipate that heaven is a pleasant sensation akin to the effect of mild intoxicants. The very question suggests that both items are favorable and asks assurance that they will be enjoyed together. There are countless portrayals of heaven as the place of rest—but nicer than the grave. They appeal to the human sense of overwhelm. We seek an end to stress, relief from external pressure to perform. I compare …

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92 Think about infinity like a child

Space and time Early in life I realized that I was not the same size as some people even though I looked much like them. Gradually I became aware of things beyond myself and developed a concept of small and large. That was easy with physical objects. Sensing different sizes of time intervals was a completely different experience. At first it seemed everything took a long time. Eventually I realized that some things take longer than other things. That probably was the beginning of comparing spatial to temporal measurement. Because I see motion, I conclude that time is passing. Objects …

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89 What is the cost of progress?

Stories of costs Travel Senator Adlai Stevenson III told us that it was easier to send a man to the moon than to rebuild a neighborhood because there was no housing to tear down on the way to the moon. Do you ever avoid the pain of parting with the old to make room for the new? The great interstate highway system rolled through my hometown of Hood River, Oregon on its way to linking the whole country with upgraded transportation. The old highway to Portland required two hours to traverse; the new, just under one hour. There was pain …

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87 Gentle lesson

The German way On our visit to Germany, our hostess, my mother’s sister (my Tante) Elsa, served delicious Leberwurst (liverwurst). I cut a circle and spread it out across my bread. Tante Elsa firmly remonstrated, “In Deutchland drueckt man nicht die Wurst.“ (In Germany one does not press the sausage.) To the postwar Germans this generous serving was an affirmation of sufficiency—affluence, compared to what they had endured. My aunt was asking me to conform to local practice. It was polite for her to teach me manners. In German culture, that was not only acceptable; it was required. We had …

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86 Nervous about being relaxed

Today I discuss three systems that promise to reward users generously. Each has an undercurrent flowing away from the intended result. The unconscious mind receives a message opposite to the stated purpose of each system. Each proposed cure is a barrier to achievement. Health Promise While in high school, I read an article about controlled sleep. That was a routine to establish complete relaxation all night long. It began with strategic placement of four pillows: one under each elbow, one under the head, and one under the knees of someone lying on zir back. The subject was instructed to repeat …

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77 Do not kill unbelievers

You already know this This is self-evident: People who lean on you for validation are so insecure that they beg for your reinforcing belief. “I know beyond a shadow of a doubt” hides “I am trying to convince myself (and I’m not succeeding without your help).” Anger is a defense mechanism even when there is no attack. Being upset that I do not believe always reveals the upset person’s weakness, doubt, and uncertainty. The person fears the weakness, not my unbelief. Appropriately withholding belief is an act of generosity: Galileo contributed to science by refusing to believe the geocentric model …

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75 Who will tie the bell?

Story 1: mice The mouse convention proudly announced their best safety measure to date: tie a bell on the cat so that they always have warning of the predator’s approach. The jubilation halted abruptly when an elderly mouse asked the body, “Who will tie the bell on the cat?” In this happiness blog I have floated many ideas for improving the world. Article 74 urged applying all real wealth to improve quality of life. That was a setup for the above question, which is now “whose resources do we use?” The maxim “gold is where you find it” makes the …

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