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SHATTERED FAITH NET

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THE FORWARD BY YVONNE PERRY

The thought processes of some people don‘t always allow for the possibility that the round peg may fit the square hole if the square hole is big enough.

Round peg, square hole? That’s me! My eyes perked up when I read that comment by Nick Oliva, and I knew I was going to enjoy reading the rest of this book.
Nick. Me. Neither of us fit the expected mold and both of us have little use for the practices and dogmatic beliefs imposed upon society by organized religions. All my life, I have butted heads with people who find it difficult to relate with me because I have an alternate viewpoint due to the mystical experiences I’ve had.

Nick chose to remove himself from the abuse of controlling religious leaders. I was “removed” from religion in one fell swoop when the universe (spirit, my soul, God, higher self, or whatever you want to call it) booted me out of the church, its teachings, my marriage, my sense of security, and the belief system that I had tenaciously clung to for forty years. I took what was left of my paranormal ass and went to the corner of my pigeon hole to reevaluate what was working in my life and what wasn’t. There was a lot of garbage to sort through as I examined each piece of black-robed ideology and researched modern Christianity back to its roots.

Nick nailed it when he wrote, “I‘m trying to get people to understand that they are responsible for their actions, not―the Lord.” That’s what I’ve been trying to help people understand for the past ten years. When my life fell apart, I soon discovered that it was up to me—not God, the church, or anyone else—to put it back together. What a difference that discovery has made for me. But, try explaining that to folks who have a rigid indoctrinated view of how life and death should operate.

As one who has had two near-death experiences (NDE) and lived to write a book about them, I was very interested to read what Nick had to say about his own near death experience, which occurred when his heart stopped beating for fourteen seconds as he was literally trying to take a shit. You laughed, I heard you! And, you’ll laugh at the wit, logic, and satire Nick Oliva uses to battle the philosophies of the Atheists and Christians who harshly responded to his posts in an online forum. You may also feel angry when you read the chapter titled “The Real Story of the Christian Bible, or that Black Book You’re Holding Isn’t What You Think It Is.” Seventeen hundred years has made a big difference in the “sacred” text!

I can understand Nick’s hesitancy to write about his near-death experience. Maybe that is why he left it for the last course—like a sweet dessert for this meat-heavy meal.

Death is not something most people want to talk about and yet it is something every one of us will ultimately have to face. I’ve never met any Near Death Experiencer who doesn’t tell me that their experience changed his or her life.

The author’s account of his other-world experience gives us encouragement that our fears about what lies beyond the grave are merely preconceived notions passed from one generation to the next. Those, who like Nick and myself, that have experienced an NDE, may find a metaphysical view of life and death more in line with the laws that are written in their hearts rather than on tablets of stone or in the New Times Roman, black leather, gold-leafed, silky-pages of the King James Version.

I’m glad to have found a friend who is brave enough to write his story and approach the fallacies of religion. I hope this book will open some eyes that have been nailed shut like the coffin they avoid peering into. I know of nothing that is deader than someone who will not allow room to question his or her beliefs. As Nick writes, “To not acknowledge the fact that one could be wrong is to show the greatest ignorance to life itself.” Yet, when it comes to discussing anything spiritual that does involve Jesus Christ, Christianity, or religion, Nick’s reason and logic will probably hit a brick wall—especially when presented to fundamentalists who want to legislate their staunch morals through political leaders.

You may think that I hate those who fill the church pews on Sunday or preach the “not-so-good-news.” I mean, what’s so good about being told that you’re a sinner bound for hell and that you must believe a certain way to avoid damnation? I don’t hate anyone, but I do hate the behavior of some. Like Nick, I can accept anyone who treats others with love and respect. As long as he or she doesn’t try to convert me to his or her way of thinking, it really doesn‘t matter to me what he or she believes or does—as long as he or she does no harm to anyone else in the process.

“If we all could keep our fear, greed, and pride at bay we could accomplish great things in the course of human history.”…Just imagine how the world would change if we took Nick’s words to heart and started practicing them.

Shattered Faith: To Believe or Not To Believe truly is a gift to humanity. If only we would heed the advice this book contains. I invite you to put down your weapon (fear), stop hating those you don‘t understand, and prepare to be tolerant as you delve into this gift.

Yvonne Perry

Author of RIGHT TO RECOVER: Winning the Political and Religious Wars Over Stem Cell Research in America and MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE: True Stories About Death, Dying, and Afterlife

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waterfall

Photo by Nick    View to a Thrill    Mt. Charleston

I sit and write as if the time is short
I take the time to listen to the waterfall’s echoes
Knowing that the water will cease for a dry summer
I race against that last drop
To capture its wisdom before it is absorbed into the earth
It enables my path to grounding the electric
to a place where it all began
to where I will go
to make the planet green
you gotta let go
you know……

gd1

A 1990’s PHOTO. A MOMENT FROZEN IN TIME

The rain wore on day after day and one could only describe the sky as bleak and bursting with moisture. My hopes of bringing my niece to her first experience at a Dead concert, Grateful but for Jerry Garcia, long gone, was dimmed as to her getting the full experience of the last 45 years that started with the hippie tail-gating parties, that were long established before the football game feasts of John Maddenish times. This night was to be special. The Spectrum, home to such legends as Bobby Clarke and Julius Erving was to be torn down soon, but those fellows in this band had played here every decade since the sixties. This was to be their swan song; two nights of one last goodbye and possibly their last tour together as time takes its toll.

Arriving early while it was still raining, we turned into the lot at the Wachovia Center and by the time we got out of the car it not only stopped raining, the sun began to peek through those dark clouds. It actually came out and it was glorious. The tents were up, the illegal vendors of grilled cheese, hamburgers, chicken, Tye-dyed T-shirts and nitrous oxide were out in full force, along with two completely instrumented rock bands playing in full regalia, hippie buses, modern Prevost million-dollar luxurious cross country rigs, women in their forties hawking illegal beer, wine, and mixed drinks, and purveyors of pipes, paraphernalia, and pot were circulating like pasta on a table for an Italian Sunday meal.

Dominque, the namesake of my father’s eyes opened wide and amazed but I knew this was only the preliminary party. The walk up those old worn concrete Spectrum stairs and the entry into this place brought me back to an age of youth years even younger than hers. The high school nights of The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, Yes, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Pink Floyd, and many, many others for a pittance of $8.50 a ticket came back as if it was yesterday. I have seen the Dead countless times across the country in California, Colorado, New York, Maryland, Washington, and so on and had seen them in this building more times than I can remember. Enough to know where to negotiate a great seat for sight lines, sound, and of course for the lack of much younger crazed high screaming, testosterone-laden Dead-Heads that my old frail body could not fit in the mix or blend easily without serious consequences to my health.

It was the same old game that came back to me. The seats half empty predicted a low turnout, but the bustle around the legitimate indoor lobby’s vendor stands was body to body. The lights came down and the first move began by the band to get them to their seats and of course it worked. There was not a seat to be had. One by one each band member gracefully entered; went through their pre-show preparations and people hustled to their seats or to light up leaves of a weed to tune them in, and in this drug-paranoiac age of hysteria, no one would have expected them to do it, but then how can you arrest 15,000 people? And this was the way it always was, and everyone knew it and didn’t care. Obviously no one was stupid enough to stop them. So billows of smoke not tainted by cigarettes floated upwards along with those consciousnesses that inhaled it. And then it began.

Opening with “Playing in the Band,” morphing halfway to a series of unpredictable incredible renditions of old sixties, seventies and eighties lyrical Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia songs, and then those of Bob Weir, the dose of the Dead’s sound, the interplay of pure improvisation, free-form jazz, spirit, and energy took over; And they were on that locked-in wave, shooting the tube and taking chances like I’ve never heard or seen before. Every note was on-beat, on-tune, on-pitch and Bob Weir didn’t even miss a lyric, as the crowd didn’t either. Every human body was dancing, singing, swaying, whirling like dervishes dancing to the Eternal on top of the world in Nepal. It was an incredible experience of communication between the band, the fans, the place, the space and all cylinders were firing hot, heavy, and hard. Can you imagine 15,000 people all singing every complex lyric to every song and being able to be in the middle of this human verbal “wave” of emotion? I think not unless you were there feeling it run through you. Hearing the earth and stadium tremble at the cheering of every familiar song, bar, and phrase. These were fans that any band would die for and that allegiance was rewarded in kind by those gentle men that gave, received, and gave back those emotions in an endless circle of time for the essence of music, spirit, and the vibratory movement of life.

My niece was in awe of the entire gestalt. And after three and a half hours of precise and precision musicianship, even Phil Lesh, now 70 years-old, played with the abandon of that of a human at 18. It all began with the Grateful Dead, the Further Bus, the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tests, 420 Time, the audio man/then legal LSD manufacturer Owlsey Stanley, the counter-culture revolution of the Romantic Age of our time. They were the cause and draw of the lore of the Haight-Ashbury summer of love in 1967, while they snuck out of their house in the Haight before the hordes of a lost generation of seekers invaded and destroyed the very thing they were looking for as a Time magazine cover propelled the impetus even further. Ken Kesey, Neal Cassady, Kerouac, Ginsberg, and the beat generation’s finest minds were here this night, wrapped up into an experience of vulnerability and chance mixed in with the old and familiar. It was life imitating art, imitating life.

The best part was that after it was all over, I had previously paid for the CD recording at a vendor’s stand for an official record of what I just heard, and picked it up shortly after the concert. This would prove I wasn’t just breathing the sweet air and exaggerating and misinterpreting the amazement of what I heard emanating from that old familiar stage. This was one of the top five concerts I had ever heard, without any doubt and many smiles and conversation with others confirmed it, as did the CD afterwards. What an initiation this was for my niece.

To describe this communing with this band is rightly impossible to do, however an old cliché’ came to mind and that is, “There Is Nothing Like A Grateful Dead Concert” and whatever name they’ve morphed to, there never will be. I am honored and truly ‘grateful’ to have been there on a night that the band knew was special as well as acknowledged by Phil Lesh saying, “It’s been a long time, we’ve forgotten how intense you all are here in Philly.”

So did I Phil, so did I.

ROUND, ROUND, ROCKIN' ROBIN ROUND

ROUND, ROUND, ROBIN RUN AROUND........... PHOTO BY NICK OLIVA

The wheel is turning and you can’t slow down
You can’t let go and you can’t hold on
You can’t go back and you can’t stand still
If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will

Won’t you try just a little bit harder
Couldn’t you try just a little bit more
Won’t you try just a little bit harder
Couldn’t you try just a little bit more

Round, round, Robin run around
Gotta get back where you belong
Little bit harder, just a little bit more
Little bit further than you gone before

Small wheel turning by the fire and rod
Big wheel turning by the grace of God
Every time that wheel turn round
Bound to cover just a little more ground

-Robert Hunter

sun1

We strive our whole lives to bring meaning to our consciousness, to feel as though we are here for a purpose; to have that meaningful relationship with ourselves, our beliefs in external entities of whatever one’s vision of God is, and to counter the selfishness that is programmed as a survival mechanism that usually gets out of hand, in old accustomed, and therefore generally excused, behavior of tacit acceptance or outright deviousness of our human race causing the suffering and death of others.

It is this “meaning” that eludes most both the stringent atheist and emphatic Fundamentalist religious fanatic.  It is not about the self, it is about giving of oneself to help those less able to cope with life; to give them hope and some small piece of time that brings happiness, laughter, and the stirring of endorphins that can make a difference in the short abstract of time we are all bound to on this planet.

Normal people as a matter of normal behavior take psychotropic drugs, anti-anxiety medication and force themselves to carry on through routine day-to-day set patterns to cope with the false sense of security that everything will be fine.  When one convinces themselves that it is real fact, inevitably life proves to them otherwise and the fall from this altruistic grace is a much farther distance than if one just realizes we are human and our time is short.  Make each day count and stop worrying about things you have absolutely no control over and live every day to its fullest – and while you are at it, stop feeling sorry for yourself.  Go to a local Children’s Hospital and look into the eyes that know they are going to pass quickly. Feel their reality instead of dwelling on your petty perceived problems that don’t amount to a piddling compared to these unlived lives.  Visit a hospice and see those who are about to pass on from this world and have no choice but acceptance.

 Enjoy your “salad days” of youth and take each moment and treasure it, instead of worrying about anything else that hasn’t happened yet or living in the past that you have no power to change.  Be good to yourself and then do the work of the divine by helping those unable to have anything close to your chance of happiness that you may be denying yourself because you can’t see the forest for the trees.  Pain is part of life, accept it.  When you get on in years it is the aching in the morning that is a sign you are still here.  Embrace it, fight it, and rail against giving in until the waters of the ultimate journey overwhelms you.  Then acceptance and return to the energy of our source will take you home.  Till then, be here now.

This country-no, this world has evolved to a point where we need to transcend the human selfishness and give of ourselves to others who are less fortunate.  Money cannot save us and the quest for money is not a quest for happiness, so one should be careful what one wishes for in their lives.  True happiness comes from within.  My message for you in 2009 is to find that happiness and share it with everyone you come in contact with in your life.  Make it a life worth living for others and feel the goodness that goes beyond perceived human ideals of “what is” and what you think you are “supposed to do.”

 

This is dedicated to all of my nieces and nephews.  The road is long and always leads to another one.

When I was 5 years-old I was in first grade and fully energized by those of my age together in the playground where a hierarchy of order was made plain by class, color, and wealth.  It was the beginning of abuse by bullies who were stronger and lean compared my to husky size from my mother never allowing anyone leaving the table unless all the food was eaten, and she cooked for an army.  I learned that mass hysteria was easily accomplished on the playground. I watched a mentally retarded brother manipulate my adult parents with ease.  I learn the subtle art of psychology without even realizing it. There were three ‘Nicks’ within two houses next to each other.  We used to laugh when someone called and all of us answered.  Big Nick used to take us fishing.  My best friend Little Nick’s father, Big Nick’s daughter’s husband, died in a boating accident and it was kept from me.  I couldn’t understand the crying and sadness around me.

When I was 10 years-old I was beaten many times in the school yard and to and from home. My hormones kicked in early and I began to lift weights and body build.  A short time later those same bullies, who were expelled from the school system for beating me, wouldn’t come near me.  A few years later in Catholic school the pastor sexually abused me and many others, a long buried event that only came up when I was writing a novel and I used that experience when writing the key element of the main female character.  As an altar boy, I learned that praying was not a substitute for action to solve my problems.  I had to act or allow myself to become merely fodder for those who were sadistically stronger.  I learned to question all authority be it religious or otherwise. I watched as my intransigent brother was put into an institution for threatening my two infant brothers.  I watched as my mother blamed my father for it.  I grew up quickly because of their rift caused by pure manipulation.  I learned to hide fear well.

When I was 15 years-old I was a high school starter in football as a center, odd as I was the smallest guy on the team, and then attempted wrestling due to a coach’s pressure.  I hated it, and got out by exaggerating an injury.  I had become a bonafide athlete. I threw discus and ran track, and girls now became an attractive force of nature, but I knew there was danger in paradise.  I learned how to play drums.  I learned that although I had a far superior education in Catholic school, emotionally there was a vacuum inside.  I sought acceptance and allowed myself to be used for that purpose.  I felt like the poor boy at grand banquet and didn’t deserve to be there.  I learned that I had to begin an ongoing process, to rely on me, to love myself before I could go further.  I learned how hard that really was.  Big Nick passed away as did two of my father’s brother’s and I was in a state of denial for all of them.

When I was 20 years-old I drove a forklift, made a bunch of money, went to Jamaica by myself, didn’t come back when I supposed to and was fired by Scott Paper.  I then went back to college after dropping out after the first semester with the college being on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City due to a construction strike, and earned a degree in music two and a half years later. I gained strength from adversity.  I learned how to really play the guitar and piano.  I came from knowing nothing about music to graduating in Who’s Who in American Colleges in a very short time.  The immersion of myself into knowledge and technology at that time made it the most incredible part of my life.  I learned that I possessed incredible passion and  it made me go for the seemingly impossible as I truly began to believe in the spirituality of a force within me.  I studied the subject of religion voraciously, and cared not about what anyone else thought of me.   I learned I had the power within to do incredible things when I surrendered to that force and allowed the energy to flow through me.  I learned to be vulnerable and to accept failure as a temporary setback to success, and then realized that it was an inevitable part of it. I learned that listening was more important than talking, that being smart was being secure in being smart, without having to prove it or impress anyone else.

When I was 25-years-old and ready for a career after graduation in 1977 the recession and the “gas crisis” made for a harsh time and I shoveled coal at the local utility company and my rental home in the farm area of South Jersey was burglarized and we lost everything that my girlfriend and soon-to-be wife had owned.  We lived in a tent on a friend’s property for the summer.  My favorite Uncle was able to secure for us an old chauffeur’s quarters behind a former mansion that was now being used as an American Legion Hall for $90 a month in Pleasantville, N.J.  We began to play music in the clubs in and around Atlantic City.  I enjoyed the night life and playing great music for appreciative audiences the experience was soul satisfying but paid comparatively little.  I learned not to depend on anyone but myself in all matters and that certain old friends were best left as such when they become toxic.  I realized that the pain I went through as a child now made me better able to handle the bitter parts of life that I could not change.

When I was 30 years-old I was now working for a casino as an Audio Technician and learned my trade both from books and being on the job.  It was a new age of growth for the area with the incredible expansion of casinos, but like anything, greed begets greed and the corporate structure killed the golden goose. The political and corporate stupidity was constantly at work and I learned that what “appears to be” is much more important that “what is.”  I watched my father die over a few months. I learned to accept my mortality and cried for the time back. I saw what seemed so much time wasted and was bitter, I still hadn’t learned the understanding and enlightenment to be at peace with it.

When I was 35 years-old I was now married for some time and had bought a house in the country with way too much grass to cut and I developed severe allergies that would not be discovered or even checked until 5 years later. It was a time of false bliss, of thinking that possessions and money could bring happiness.  My move to the Taj Mahal nine months early to prepare for the opening was to be the beginning of both “The Donald’s” and my demise in that era of the 90’s.  Chasing corporate dollars was a pastime and not really a career that was fulfilling although it provided just enough comfort to not take a chance and remain safely in the corporate cradle.  I learned that physical pain is never understood by anyone but those who have been through similar pain. Headaches got worse and workloads were excessive.  I learned to have trust in but a few key fellow workers.  I learned that one must proactively terminate a threat before it cannot be overtaken regardless of the personal circumstances.  I learned brutal bloody coldness from the very best management that Donald Trump offered.

When I was 40 years-old my health worsened, the headaches went unabated and my high school football-worn knees could barely handle the constant humidity of the East Coast.  Without work I went into depression and then my left arm went numb from a C-4 nerve impingement that no one figured out for 8 months. By that time my marriage was asunder, I was out of a job and I went to Las Vegas with less than $1000 and searched for work while I knew my wife at the time would not go with me.  My divorce soon followed when Merv Griffin called and needed an Entertainment/Technical Director for his new place in Mesquite, NV.  Of course, greed got to those owners as well and they went belly-up.  It was when I moved to Las Vegas that I was diagnosed as having bubble-boy allergies.  The severe headaches and cysts were keeping me in misery, and I was put on allergy shots for the next six years…..this after two futile operations back East without even testing for allergies and two more operations in Las Vegas.  I worked both at the Sahara showroom AND the Stratosphere (pre-opening) full time and made bank to make up for the losses of those previous years.  I learned that the world when confronted by the truth always looked the other way and offered trite solutions to complex problems because they really didn’t want anyone to know anything that could take their corrupt advantage away.  I learned that living in the now was the most important thing to understand.   My past was unchangeable, the future not here yet.  I began to understand the wisdom of the past leading to what was the “now” and the inevitability of what could only be, based on choices that I made. 

When I was 45 years-old I had been working at the Tropicana in Las Vegas and ran audio for the Folies Bergere and then after 3 years completely revamped and operated their Convention Services Technical Department.  After much turmoil from the past, I would marry a woman that I knew for over 24 years and had her band booked many times in Atlantic City at the Taj Mahal and other places.  The irony was that her band would have played for my first wedding but they weren’t available, but I did book them for my brother’s first wedding……her family was from a place 20 minutes from my New Jersey childhood home….I met her in Las Vegas at the Riviera lounge one night..…so it is indeed a small world.  A few years later an emergency operation was done on my skull to stop infection from reaching my brain and holes were drilled into the area above my eyes to drain the poison, like I needed two holes in my head.  Obviously, it worked. I watched as my mother died at age 67.   I learned that the number of people I could really trust, I could count on one hand, as my father predicted and warned me 30 years earlier.  I never gave up on myself.

When I was 50 years-old I planned a big birthday bash and made out the invitations with a picture of a man in a wheel chair on an IV, and being tended to by a nurse.  Little did I know that I would be in a hospital fighting for my life because of an emergency operation for a spinal infection.  I did in fact flat line and die, but was given a choice to fight and come back to the pain and bittersweet experiences of life, and I took it, despite the painless beauty of that afterworld experience.  The nerve damage disabled me but I took this as just another challenge that life has doled out for me since I was that beaten-up child.  I learned that love does truly conquer all and the love I had for my wife brought me back to the land of the living so that I could tell her and others that I was alright on that “other side.”  Despite the best efforts of the doctors and the hospital, I survived and checked myself out after 5 weeks in intensive care.  I also learned “patient do thy own research” and don’t trust “practitioners.”  Irony upon irony was that I had already written a Near Death Experience in my novel 10 years earlier that paralleled my real experience.  I learned to laugh at death, to embrace life’s preciousness and I allowed the epiphany of living, in its own right, to saturate my every action.  I finally published my novel, I opened a restaurant with my brother, and I took chances without fear of the consequences.  I was finally free to be who I always was and dared to do things without fear and was supported by those who cared without judgment of success or failure.

 

Now I have now turned 55 years-old and I am happy to be alive despite the paralyzation and pain from the surgeries and I know that life itself is all that counts.  There is much more to my life than these highlights, there is no describing the passion, the intense work and rewarding outcomes, the dreams that became reality and the dreams that still live on.  It is the how that is much more important than the what I have done.  There is no great secret to how to live your life other than to survive and make lemonade from lemons.  Those of weak minds do not survive and cannot be stable unless they begin to realize- this is it, this is not a rehearsal.  You get one chance and only one chance, so why care about what anyone else thinks?   I have learned that relying on pure hope without the effort of one’s self is an invitation for disaster, but in the overall human existence, it is the singular most powerful emotion that brings us the strength to face another day, then another, and then another.

Now on the day of the First of November, I’ll raise a glass for my diabetic-ridden ass, to drink to the thoughts on my special birth-day of celebrating my life, my wife, and for my parent’s sacrifice to have brought me into this world, and lastly for the suffering and sacrifice to all those who are brave enough to have offspring in this world of unknowns. To my nieces and nephews and to all others, I leave you with this: Do what makes you happy and in the words of Joseph Campbell, “always follow your bliss.”  Anything less and you have no one else to blame for your misery.  Accept the pain and deal with inevitable and then rejoice for your existence every day.

There are some people that think that writing is easy and effortless until they attempt to link thoughts, ideas, language, prose, and a pulse that is identifiable as “rhythm.” All of these things make up the “voice” of the writing as the words are merely abstracts that can mean different things if the writer is not precise in all aspects of the above. Even when those parameters are followed, creativity is required to make it interesting enough to read, but not too complex to be understood. It all sounds so easy doesn’t it?  Staring at a blank piece of paper and allowing the mind to congeal and spill forth contiguous and conjunctive thoughts that add up to some conclusion and/or moral of the story, if that is the writer’s intent and end result. I have some difficulties with a few people, and some young people in general that think when I present problems I am being negative and they don’t understand or comprehend what I am saying. One young site called Bright Future that I was posting my blogs on -without notice other than a matter-of-fact letter- pulled off over 8 blogs that you can read right here for yourself for supposed “negative attacks and general negative tone.”  The one they left “They Should Have Built It On the F…… Sun” was the most negative one I wrote, calling the last three generations at fault for allowing government to abandon alternative energy sources-that one they left…..go figure…..I cancelled that one myself because that was the best example of a negative tone of any I could see.  Here’s the list of censored blogs, if you can find those negative attacks, let me know:

The Road Taken (The Balance of Life Through Centuries)
A Life or Death Issue (Stem Cell Research book)
Mirror, Mirror, The Spirit is Nearer (The Science of Spirituality)
The Future Use of Digitization-Part I
The Future Use of Digitization-Part II Copyright and Issues
The Future Use of Digitization-Part III, Immortality
What is Really Hip? (Ecology)

“Please, Pay it Forward” was about doing things for people to help those in need. “What is Really Hip” was about the hippie generation initiating the groundswell of the environmental movement that I was a part of.  What was I, negatively attacking myself?  Absurd, and I had to really think this out as to how anyone could be that off-base.

 Another wanted a more “rounded” approach, that translates to “make it pretty for the reader.”  I got pretty depressed about for a day until someone whose opinion I greatly value said some very nice things and encouraged me to write for me and the hell with who wants what. This is what I wrote to her:  

I have become very discouraged and about to give up writing blogs completely, as all the efforts made seem to count up to nothing and I am so tired of fools that just don’t get it, much less those who just don’t care. …….  I was never looking for fame or fortune, just a small group of people that enjoyed what I’ve written to make it worthwhile.  I have tried to connect with a younger audience, but I have found that they think the world is just going to be a beautiful place with no pitfalls or reason to think about anything negative happening.  They haven’t experienced half their ass being chewed off as “life experience” yet, so without me writing it up as a “pretty” piece with truth and justice for all, including dessert-I get cast as writing negatively.  When I try to explain the Ying and Yang are what life is, that all decisions one makes can be cast either good or bad and can also be both “good” or “bad” at the same time if one can even classify what is good or bad- it just is, period.  Inevitably any decision anyone makes will have it’s drawbacks and successes, and they just don’t get it

And my friend commented:  “I don’t think you’re negative. Like I said, I think you are brilliant and I respect you.”  Of course, I could never take a compliment well, not that it didn’t make me feel better, so I wrote her back this short poem that came forth quickly and right from my heart:

Of what use is a song that isn’t heard
the sweet melody of a bird
The joy of painted scenes
where no one has ever been

Of course the artist’s art
comes from their inner heart
but no more grace does one know
when just one sees their show

for in the end, the artist…for all….it is indeed the ego.

Today is a new day, I feel better and who reads this, reads it; and who doesn’t-that is their loss.  My perspective is that of what is and to deny the bad things of this world is  pretending they don’t exist and the “Bright Future” website acts as if the world will all be wonderful with no suffering or struggling. Posing problems and solutions without including touchy- feely “happy” articles is not their forte.  Without questioning from whence the problems came deprives any reader of what is really behind the problem to begin with and is not in my opinion negative but is seeking the truth.  In situations where there are already obvious answers, posing questions is a moot point.  Why bother?  The detriment of denial is that the “solutions” become shallow and without deep reflection as to “why” the situation is what it is from the beginning to the problem’s present position.  A problem is there because decisions were made and the past adds up to what is now.  A solution requires the examination of the past to truthfully and definitively answer those questions without bias.  Good or bad is irrelevant, action and reaction are.

It is the questions that are not answered or not easily answered that pose the complexity of reality and allow stimulation of the human mind.  I am disappointed there are younger people whose intent is good but their focus is so narrow as to not allow the freedom of expression other than “happy” news with simple and/or obvious solutions.  The real mature thought process of science and the arts doesn’t just solve problems, it theorizes and postulates while stimulating others to question as well.  The Ying and Yang, the process of BOTH SIDES of life remain regardless of one’s personal wants and accompanying censorship to force their “un-negative” idea of what really is.  If there is any problem to be solved, someone or something has to be causing that problem.  To deny that, is to deny reality. To call history and events “negative” is childish.  On top of that every deed done, every action taken has both good and bad effects relatively for the human race, -always has, always will.

 While we look at the touchy-feely, the warm and fuzzy, there could be negative and/or evil standing right behind you and your touchy-feely, warm and fuzzy may be the damn cause of it.  You refuse to want to see for the sake of wanting the world the way you want it, sterilized of “bad” things.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  This theorem just doesn’t apply in physics, but to all in the physical world.  Ignore it at your peril.

 Waves of Eternity (Photo by Author)

Dedicated to the late  William N. Hilderscheid (Billy)

There comes a point in one’s life when looking at obituaries and seeing your parent’s friends and acquaintances through the years changes gradually, and those names you are reading become your friends and acquaintances and the mild emotional twists in your gut become major ones.  You begin to hear the internal clocking ticking and your steps are more cautious, less risky as the body is not as lithe and the time for healing longer-and more painful in all aspects of life-financial, physical and mental.   

Jackson Browne’s lament “Running on Empty” from the early seventies seems a tad over-reactive worrying about such things at such a young age, but he was very aware of what the future held.  Unfortunately, no one expects the “salad days” of youth to disappear, even when one writes and sings about it.

“In sixty-five I was seventeen and running up one-o-one
I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on….

In sixty-nine I was twenty-one and I called the road my own
I don’t know when that road turned onto the road I’m on…”

And then there’s the great lyricist Robert Hunter:

“The wheel is turning and you can’t slow down
You can’t let go and you can’t hold on
You can’t go back and you can’t stand still
If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will”

Great artists see things that the general population does not.  They destroy their art to create new art.  They may be tortured souls with the information that they discover, that most have no time or inklings to ponder……..but sooner or later will have to deal with, as the ravages of time move forward and Mother Nature clears the forest for the younger saplings to survive.  The question is-Do you have any drive or wants to “pay it forward?”  Do you want to give something back to humanity to counter the greed, fear, avarice, and selfishness of the world and begin to sow seeds of kindness, confidence, selflessness, and the surrender to the forces of the fate and spirituality?  Do you want to even try and give something back before you dissipate and your temporal being vanishes from the planet?  If you do, then do it now.  Don’t wait to tell someone you care, don’t wait to lend a hand or give someone an unexpected positive boost.  What is it that you are you waiting for?  Is it because no one did for you?  Is it the bitterness and the rejection of youthful dreams because it “just didn’t work out?”  Time is short, don’t wait until you are alone in the world sitting or laying in a nursing home with a stranger wiping drool from your cheek.  DO IT NOW!   You might make a huge difference in someone’s life, even if you can’t make a damn difference in your children’s or your own.  The circle goes round, you can’t go back and you can’t stand still……………..best to give of yourself and whatever you can, while you can.  It will feel good to watch the change occur as the same investment you make takes hold, just don’t expect anything back and keep on, keepin’ on.  Give back in any way you can, be it holding a door open for someone to handing a sandwich to a starving homeless person.  No one’s asking you to open your bank account and clear it out, although those who have made more money than Croceus do for the most part set up foundations and trusts to help their fellow humans.  Do what you can, when you can.  It’s not hard and it’s contagious.

 The Greek God Narcissus who fell to his death by falling into the water to become closer to what he perceived was his essence. 

I read two different articles this week that are at first glance not linked, but in my own warped thought process are integral to each other.  The first was sent to me by a old friend and was about how we perceive ourselves in a mirror. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/22/science/22angi.html?_r=2&th&emc=th&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

Essentially what it says is that what we “see” in the reflective image inside that mirror, the brain percieves as reality and that reality is shaped by our own perception of who we are.  Therefore “what” a person “sees” when they look into a mirror is not what is real, it is the perception of what the person that is seeing believes is real. To quote a pertinent paragraph:

How can we be so self-delusional when the truth stares back at us? “Although we do indeed see ourselves in the mirror every day, we don’t look exactly the same every time,” explained Dr. Epley, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. There is the scruffy-morning you, the assembled-for-work you, the dressed-for-an-elegant-dinner you. “Which image is you?” he said. “Our research shows that people, on average, resolve that ambiguity in their favor, forming a representation of their image that is more attractive than they actually are.”

The second article was in Psychology Today and centered on the physical effect of seratonin on areas of the brain that emit “spirituality” which is not of the organized religion aspect, but the hope and connection to a metaphysical entity that exists in the mind, with no discrimination of that mind being atheist, religious, aboriginal, or ignorant of any organized faith.  http://psychologytoday.com/articles/index.php?term=pto-3252.html&fromMod=emailed

Here’s a quote:

Well, the researchers believe that it provides evidence that religiosity and spirituality are not defined necessarily or entirely by environmental or cultural factors, such as upbringing. Basically, those with a higher concentration of serotonin receptors will therefore most likely show a stronger inclination towards spiritual acceptance.

Now here’s where I get in trouble.  Since my own Near Death Experience, that had provided great credence to what I have always believed most of my adult life (this after being raised in a Catholic School, wanting to become a priest and then studying enough to know none of it added up by the age of 12) that the mind perceives what it wants and if we exist and therefore perceive what we want in the form that we want, then the perception is relative and has to be by the laws of nature uniquely our own and ultimately when we do not exist that perception is gone.  Believers of a common religion do not have the same perception of God, of Christ, of Allah, etc.  It must be of the mind and unique, there is no other way to perceive in the human species.  So where am I taking you to in this diatribe?  What is the answer to the age’s old question?  Do you really want to know?  Are you sure?

In the end, you have the choice to believe in the self and your ability to draw on the energy inside and that is the essence of the metaphysical and hence religion’s essence as well, it just that we externalize those wants and feelings to solidify our security factor in numbers and the manipulative power mongers and opportunists take advantage of it as they have throughout history.  Is there a God?  I think so, therefore there is.  Atheists may cringe at that thought but again, there is no absolute proof either way and to reduce the debate to the usual Spaghetti Monster tactic doesn’t prove or probe what is deep seated in our human psyche. God? In what form? The answer is the form I choose as I can only think for me.  Only I can live my life and die when the time comes. No matter what your choice, your brain decides what imagery you choose, it is the only thing you have, you are the only person that can be in your reality of life on earth to think. I have no use for man-made ditherings of belief so I believe in the energy of life (God) and myself as the two are inseparable. 

It takes conviction and the path is only for those who are strong, as it is the road not taken and it is the one path that gets the most abuse from both devout believers and atheists (believe me).  I don’t really care, my life is full and my worries few.  I’ve died and gone over and as beautiful as the experience was, it is much better to be alive than absorbed by eternity. 

Some of my favorite quotes:

The sole meaning, purpose, intention, and secret of Christ, my dears, is not to understand life, or mold it, or change it, or even to love it, but to drink of it’s undying essence.–Henry V. Miller

Dreams are the substance of reality–Henry V. Miller

“Causing the right amount of trouble is an art form.”  Judith Coche

One last question.  Does the lack of seratonin uptake biologically cause a human to gravitate to an organized religion in the place of natural spirituality?  Does depression and sadness lead to a hope outside the self? That’s an issue for another day and much more research than time allows today.

This article may be reproduced in all or part with permission as long the author credits are maintained.

I was recently asked to be a featured blogger by The Pakistani Spectator (“I hope you are fine and carrying on the great work you have been doing for the Internet surfers. I am Ghazala Khan from The Pakistani Spectator (TPS), We at TPS throw a candid look on everything happening in and for Pakistan in the world. We are trying to contribute our humble share in the webosphere. Our aim is to foster peace, progress and harmony with passion. We at TPS are carrying out a new series of interviews with the notable passionate bloggers, writers, and webmasters. In that regard, we would like to interview you, if you
don’t mind.”)
     -and the following is a post of that interview.  The person behind this blog on the other side of the world is:

Ghazala Khan-She has been roaming the corridors of Blogistan for the last two years, and herself started blogging from March, 2007 because she wanted to let the world know her passionate views about the judiciary who started struggling to gain freedom. The movement of lawyers for judiciary carried on and so is the blogging streak of her. You can reach her at ghazala.khi@gmail.com.

The original published interview with translation errors in punctuation and grammar (hey, it’s tough tranlating languages) is at: http://www.pakspectator.com/interview-with-blogger-nick-oliva/

I am honored to be allowed access to another culture and the interest in my opinions and I thank Ghazala Khan and all others at the Pakistani Spectator for publishing them.

Here is the interview with the corrections:

Interview with Blogger Nick Oliva

By The Pakistani Spectator • Jul 18th, 2008

Nick Oliva (O-lee-va) has been a musician, composer, photographer, an audio engineer, an Entertainment Director and Technical Director for over twenty-five years and is a successful self-made money manager.  He lives in the mountains outside of Las Vegas.

Would you please tell us something about you and your site?

The site is about my book “Only Moments” that was published recently.  On the site you can look at my autobiography, the backstory to the book, and the link to my ongoing blog also called “Only Moments.”  www.onlymomentsbook.com and the blog www.onlymoments.wordpress.com

Do you feel that you continue to grow in your writing the longer you write? Why is that important to you?

The evolution of any being is continuing to do things either better or differently than in the past and as the saying goes “practice makes (near)perfect”..perfection is rare.  Self-satisfaction is a wonderful thing.

 

I’m wondering what some of your memorable experiences are with blogging?

I have met many wonderful people all over the world that think and don’t just accept the quantified norm of a outlook that “the powers that are” impose to protect their collective asses.

 

What do you do in order to keep up your communication with other bloggers?

I have personal letters that I send to keep in touch along with the blogs.

What do you think is the most exciting or most innovative use of technology in politics right now?

YouTube without a doubt is very innovative, but it is also a lazy way to skip the art of writing and reading.  I’m afraid that the instant gratification of today’s youth will allow them to grow up illiterate as part of a new online “boob tube” generation.

Do you think that these new technologies are effective in making people more responsive?

They are timely, they are effective, they are fast, but beware they may be bullshit planted for whatever motivations a commercial company or political body wants you to believe.   Look at all the internet lies about Barack Obama that people truly believe because they read it on the internet. There is much disinformation daily and it is purposely put out there to slander people without having to be tracked and found out.  Evil makes it way to every form of communication and technology cannot take the place of the human heart.  That’s one of the themes of my book “Only Moments.”

What do you think sets Your site apart from others?

Most bloggers have not written a book that ties directly into the gestalt of the blog and vice versa.  I have no commercial ads or google adsense boxes and keep the blog commercial-free so I do not have to answer to anyone, or be beholden to a sponsor.

If you could choose one characteristic you have that brought you success in life, what would it be?

Passion, passion, passion

What was the happiest and gloomiest moment of your life?

When my book was published and the gloomiest when my mother died.

If you could pick a travel destination, anywhere in the world, with no worries about how it’s paid for – what would your top 3 choices be?

Greece, Nepal, and The Temples of Ankgor Wat in Cambodia

 

What is your favorite book and why?

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
It is a timeless story of humankind searching for the answer why and the generational suffering of the coming of age between a father and son.

 What’s the first thing you notice about a person (whether you know them or not)?

Their aura of being.  The eyes are the windows to the soul.

 Is there anyone from your past that once told you you couldn’t write?

No, but I never thought this would be what I would be doing when I was very young. I’m 54 and still wondering what I will be doing when I grow up.

How bloggers can benefit from blogs financially?

I’m not the person to answer that one.

Is it true that who has a successful blog has an awful lot of time on their hands?

No, the successful blog or blogger has passion and the writing skills to create universes that implant the ideas that they wish to trigger emotional responses in other human beings whether to ponder, motivate, emote sympathy, excitement, or sadness.

What role can bloggers of the world play to make this world more friendlier and less hostile?

One can only affect those with whom they have touched, and that is why writing is so important.  The Guttenberg press changed the world and brought enlightenment and the Romantic Age into being. Unfortunately we may be living in the dark ages if our youth does not carry on and take the baton to keep this important human tool alive despite technology that makes video so accessible.

What is your perception about Pakistan and its people?

People in general are not like the government that they are subject to follow.  I see the youth of the world coming together electronically to overcome the tyranny of censorship and that’s the first step to freedom, as there are degrees to freedom, it does come slowly as those in power die out. The outlander tribes must be educated, and not supplied with weapons to stop the age-old fighting amongst themselves.

Have you ever become stunned by the uniqueness of any blogger?

I really admire Charles Eisenstein and this one blog in particular as I have studied worldwide religions.  http://www.realitysandwich.com/original_religion

What is the most striking difference between a developed country and a developing country?

Education, awareness of the diversity of people, the realization of not just different ethnic but moral and ethical standards as well, and the acceptance and appreciation of those that provide not just diversity but controversy.

What is the future of blogging?

I don’t have a clue, but I’ll still keep doing it.

You have also got a blogging life, how has it directly affected both your personal and professional life?

It keeps me sharp and on point in my verbal skills.

What are your future plans?

I will be writing another book on my near death experience along with stories of celebrities that I have dealt with in my life as an Entertainment professional

Any Message you want to give to the readers of The Pakistani Spectator?
Keep positive and true to yourself.  Follow your bliss and if you are young and looking for direction, any road will take you there, so just do something instead of looking for the perfect path.  All roads lead to self-enlightenment if you let them.