The Real World

 

Is as subjective as you can imagine.

American physicist Richard Feynman (1918 – 1988) commented on the puzzles and paradoxes of quantum mechanics, “ I cannot define the problem, therefore I suspect there’s no real problem, but I’m not sure there’s no problem.”

The subject of consciousness is all around us, and it reminds me of when I was growing in the mid-west in the Eisenhower years. Joe McCarthy was on his hunt for communists, questioning everyone’s loyalty to this country. His henchman and chief explainer was Roy Cohn, soon to be mentor of the young DJT.

McCarthy addressed the Senate making a list of outright lying claims and alternative facts which – after much tortuous equivocating, which cost lives, reputations, and livelihoods – were rejected by most and clung to by one Richard Nixon – among others – who saw opportunity in the making.

What consciousness is is not only not clear, it has forced many an illusion and conclusion. How, after all, can what we cannot define be defined. Prizes and papers are won and written for the palpable. Feynman was one of the few who dared – in his time – to express the inexpressible.

In his experiments with paths of quantum particles and their relationship with choice – to be a wave or a particle, for one example – the Hungarian physicist Eugene Wigner wrote: “It follows that the quantum description of objects is influenced by impressions entering my consciousness. Solipsism may be logically consistent with present quantum mechanics.”

You can see where I’m going with this. I have to think this time we are in has been our collective creation. Much as a cancer can take decades to show its invasion, “here we are,” always has a massive and complex history. Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you are doing or thinking is of tantamout importance. You are a vital piece of the puzzle we call the world or the universe and of consciousness itself.

What you are doing makes a difference. What you are feeling makes a difference. Your intention, your focus is titanic to your health and the health of all of us.

“As above, so below,” ancient wisdom/truth, tells me I am influenced by the quantum field as well. We all receive thoughts in the form of ideas, philosophies, needs – all expression – and we all influence.
So let’s step into this wholeheartedly. Let’s get to know our force. Who we are. What we think – when no one’s looking. Let’s go where we will go – for we will go somewhere, make it real.

If we are solipsism itself, let us be really good at who we are. If the world is bouncing off each one of us, let’s be the self we are. Step into you, I’ll step into me. And here’s the article from the BBC that started this riff!

Why Hillary Lost   part 2

At the Womens March this January, the word intersectional

was widely visible.

Google gave me this: “Intersectionality (or intersectional theory) is a term first coined in 1989 by American civil rights advocate and leading scholar of critical race theory, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw. It is the study of overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination.”

I believe this focus allowed men, women, children, dogs (I saw no cats) of all ages and sizes, economic interests and everyone who wanted to be represented there to be there. It was the most harmonious experience I have ever known; there truly was room for us all.
This mood/feeling was not active during the election. I saw in the young man’s rejection of Hillary (I mentioned yesterday) the cry for separation. Devotion to separation, to the isolation of our own type or group identity was the Cri De Coeur during the interminable period leading up to the vote last year. By the time we voted, we were ready to kill one another.

Last year wasn’t so much about age as attitude. The delicious taste of freedom to hate, to blame, to say things that hadn’t been said “for eight years.” To take ourselves to such an extreme focus as not to see anything else.

We must seek a better outcome. To be here in this human body, on this earth plane is to seek wholeness and the more we include, the better off we are. We depend on the tree, the bee, the lion and all who show up here. There is nothing among us expendable or valueless. Please join me in listening to the originator of this most useful word. Let Kimberle Williams Crenshaw speak from her Ted Talk to all our hearts.

I Know Why Hillary Lost

In reading and listening to a LOT of journalists and callers in, I want to propose the real reason people couldn’t vote for Hillary.

And yes, I just heard it.

I was listening to a young congressman from California field calls on NPR. One of his callers said – pointedly – “I am resigning from the Democratic party.”
And, as I was thinking, “so what,” he said why.
Which was the Democrats’ old-fashioned political stance had turned him off. It was all the same, he said, nothing new. He did like Bernie, though, and the congressman – somewhat taken aback said,” wait a minute, you like the oldest person who ran for president?”
Yes. It was not the age, so much, as the attitude. Apparently the caller had been nearby when Bernie was asked to have a photo taken with Snapchat. Bernie had smiled into the camera and said, “Hello Snap Shot!”
Now, what got the guy onboard with Bernie was this: when asked if he would take the photo over again because he had said the name wrong, Bernie said, “no, just leave it.”
That was enough to hook this millennial.

OK What’s my point.

It wasn’t that Hillary’s gender was an issue so much as what her training and history as a woman has led her to be. Think secretive and not forthcoming – yes, I see the redundancy.
Now you can say – my mother would have said Poo Poo – whatever you think, but in my experience of being a woman a little longer than Hillary and not being in a fraction of the light and focus that she has experienced – there is no way I wouldn’t have been able to second guess myself if someone asked “should we take that over.”
That would have been enough for me to question my whole existence. Now, Hillary didn’t get there and wouldn’t have got there with a thin skin. But her skin was thinner than Bernie’s and her mind was swayed to listen to advice he probably doesn’t even think about. And I think that advice lost her a lot of points. It’s not just women, btw, because I found the same thing was true with John Kerry. You could waffle him easily enough. (How could anyone have made him not a war-hero? #despicable #deplorable)
Younger women don’t have that vulnerability. And we are getting some depth of womanhood, thanks to strong women and men who were and are willing to take a chance.

Oh, and can I remind you of how Hillary was treated in the debates? Either this past year or in 2008. Misogynists unite whenever they get a chance, and they are not always men.

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In my small bucolic New England town sitting at the foot of rounded tree-filled mounds of earth we call mountains, I am nestled in the valley of the Housatonic with my fellows. Humans are not necessarily the majority of inhabitants here, although they claim to be in charge.
Some of us have been here a long time and some of us have been here longer. Personally I don’t think it makes a lot of difference. My own history in this place where I live now is very brief – I just moved in a year ago. Before that I was somewhere else I hadn’t lived long in and before that the same. I have always been welcomed as a native although that is hardly the case. Before my ancestors came here, they were some place else. Who can say otherwise?
It happens that here, where I live now, there are many we call Hispanic, they have been here far longer than I. They might have moved here, as I did, recently or years ago but they are only called Hispanic because the country I call mine invaded their country and won.
For some reason, perhaps because of the might of Teddy Rooseveldt and others, I do not call myself English-German-Dutch-French-Irish American, nor do I have to fill out forms or be counted as anything much. Demographics in this country have largely confined themselves to my gender and my politics, neither of which I have to explore to any degree.
I once did live in a place – Concord, MA, with three small, quiet rivers surrounding and running through my environs. It was only when they flooded and I had to drive thirty or forty minutes to get to a destination five minutes away that I noticed their existence. Time is relative until it isn’t and now the people I work with who far outdate my contribution to this area are being threatened. If not they themselves, their relatives, friends – you know what I mean.
Living here has become very stressful, we are being raided and rounded up. I used to ask my mother, “What did you think when you heard about the pogroms? About the raids? About the trains? What did you do? How did you act? What did it feel like?”
Her reply, like many of her answers to other questions, was more than disappointing. She didn’t know – about anything. She didn’t know what to do and she didn’t ask. In fact in her life she didn’t feel safe emotionally, I know that colored her heart. And she felt she had made her mark, made her life, even though she felt vulnerable in it as a woman. In truth if she had set herself free with her opinions and desires, she would have been shunned, pushed aside. She was pushed aside anyway and she didn’t invite more. It also wasn’t happening “here.”
Now it is. When Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) is pushed out of a meeting of his peers in the House of Representatives, we are in trouble. When my friends are rounded up all over the country –including the ones I know along this corridor between CT and NY – I am afraid.
Now is the time. This is on us.
People talk of Hitler and his ilk. They only mean they ones we know – Papa Doc, Idi Amin, Pol Pot – to touch the surface. But these days, this month, has caused me to think there are many Hitlers. We are surrounded. I asked a friend who lives in VT and has gone to Canada for decades – weekends visiting friends. She says that after this election when she comes back, they hassel her, take her phone, keep her and her husband pulled over. I asked after the tone of her interaction, what was on the minds of these agents who had been quiescent for decades. How could one person’s voice give them this power, this drive? Did she think they had been waiting for the chance? She thought it was that they could. Now, it was supported, they could be kings, they had a mission. That simple.
In such a simple world, I find simplicity too.
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This Day Is Every Day

This is the day the electors meet – in their separate states. I confess I didn’t know much about them until recently. I’m not sure what the larger reason there is to be an elector, what role they play in their respective parties, how they are chosen. I never studied it but the news I am surprised to find is that the electors take the heart of the election in their hands far more than I do when I vote. It is clear how much districting counts and how much Democrats lost in the last shuffle – I wasn’t awake – guess I had company.

And they have far more power than they use – or perhaps care to use. They must get something else with the role – I have not been able yet to ascertain what that might be.

This is the day they will send their posts to Washington. By horse or train, coach or truck, perchance to fly: the packages arrive in Washington, in the District of Columbia – another civics lesson unclear, to be opened on January 6th. – is this date the house and senate meet on due to travel time, Three Kings Day? Ponies from the states to D.C. marching with their orders?

Governance is not clear; neither is it necessarily sane or supported by reason. I found this out during my own parenting – and that of my parents’. Quite often thoughts seem to come from above us, or from our wisest place (wherever that is) but knowing anything for sure is a smokescreen as thick as anything growing over the densest of manufacturing cities. With great faith we kneel to a higher being forgetting that the thoughts that we will turn to action are ours and their seeming justice is but a thin slivered veneer of our own upbringing.

There is no person-made system to fix every system every time, forever. Much as we might try to insure stability through rules and habits, things change and we change, not always in sync with our times. Change comes when it comes, ask the glacier and the sun.

There is a saying about the tough getting going as the going gets tough. I would like to posit that the tough who resist change – in this case the browning of the world and the rise of differing states of being, are deepening their foxhole while the floodwaters rise.

There is no substitute for adaptation to what is. Our lives are directed by our thoughts and when wishful thinking is not recognized for what it is, suffering follows. My liberal heart knows this well, and in the suffering of my moment, in the pulse of my ideals there is a thread, a path to higher ideals and intentions that I will do my best to voice and walk.

Whoever you are, wherever you go, I will turn to look for you, no matter what. And in my mind and heart – my human, flawed, beautiful and political heart – I will remember the trend of this country’s young voters; pale blue, it was sparsely, selectively progressive and a beautiful shade of Robin’s egg blue.

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A Recent Letter

In my role as a communicator – all creatures, animals, your forebears, mine – I sometimes receive a letter. Since most are not handwritten – or written at all – I don’t have much trouble with interpretation. This most recent missive is from a dog.

By the way, I was going to write about the world situation, politics, ethics, (now, there’s a word that hasn’t risen its head for quite some time!) the beauty surrounding us this autumn, but I kept making draft after draft, never getting it quite right. And then, when I was looking up, I got this letter. I’m not sure whose dog it might be. I’m doing some research on that. In the meantime, see if it strikes a chord.

Dear my Now person with whom I live and to whom it might concern,

Why did you bring me here and what do you want?

Who are you? Perhaps I should have asked that first. Perhaps I should have had you fill out a form but I don’t know how to make one. If I were you that’s what I would do, I would make you fill out a form and then I would teach you how to sit up straight and beg and roll over. I wouldn’t show you off to anyone, that’s too embarrassing for anyone, even a human being. But first I would have you fill out a form. Now, back to you, why did you bring me here? Why weren’t you better prepared? Didn’t anyone tell you what it was like to be with a dog? I know you would use the expression “have a dog” but I don’t like being had. I like being with. I don’t know what you like. I don’t think it’s being with because you leave me all day and ignore me all night so, back to my question. Why? Why am I here? Why did you put me on a plane and drive forever to get me and drive forever to put me in this place you call home. I don’t know what home is. I never had one before. I always heard they were what every dog wanted. A home was what we dreamed of back in the kennel. We never thought of it in the wild, on the streets of the wild. We only were told about its existence when we were taken to the kennel. We thought it would be better than the kennel, we didn’t like the kennel much because it smells bad and the light is harsh. But we didn’t have to fight, that’s a relief, and we got food. When I think about it now, from this place you call home, that I have to call home – whatever that is – the kennel had some nice parts. People for one. People who were cheerful and I could tell they were doing their best, whatever that is. But I learned from those who were doing it that “best” means a smile even though it switches to a worry face as they go by. When they see me they smile and sometimes I smile back. I’m big on sharing, it’s something we did in the Pack. Being here, I’ve learned to appreciate that. Even though it’s not so smelly here and the light is better. I miss the smiles in the kennel. I don’t even know where the kennel is or whether I’ll ever see it. I don’t know whether I’ll ever see the happy face on the counter or the bowl of what I learned to call treats by the desk where people talked on the phone. I found out the phone is very handy. You can do all kinds of things with it and if you use it enough all sorts of things happen. Is that how I got here? Back to why am I here? Was it the phone? Back to my question. What do you want? Why did you come to get me? Why did you make such a big deal, drive hours and hours with that determined look on your face. I assume you looked like that before I was in the car. You certainly look like that now! Maybe I caused it all. That’s a terrible thought. This is truly a bad situation. What am I doing here? Why do you want me to be here? What do you want me to do? What do you want to do? How are we going to manage this? Didn’t they train you before you came to get me? Didn’t anyone tell you anything about what it would be like. They treat you like a saint, but you’re not. I won’t say I like the smell of the street wild or the lights and I won’t say it wasn’t confusing, but I learned things there. I learned where to go and who to trust – well, for the most part. I don’t know who to trust here and there is no place to go, no place to learn the ropes and no one to learn them from. Let me repeat, “Why am I here? What shall I do? Where is there for me to go? I saw you writing on a form they gave you to fill out at the kennel, what did you say? What do you know? How does it relate to me? What do you want? Why am I here? Why did you bring me here, all those miles, in that traffic, how did you decide to do it? Why did you decide to do it? What did you decide to do and what can we do about it?

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LET’S GET REAL

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not change the world of the black men and women – the grandparents of the men dying today and yesterday and the day before – who were alive in that year. But it did put the possibility of equal rights in our minds if not our hearts.
In 1963 I was traveling with my husband and four month old baby daughter across a vicious ice storm in the Oklahoma panhandle. We were freezing cold in the night of slanting sheets of ice, our VW Bus only heated with acceleration and we were hardly making any headway to bring on the heat.
Kennedy had just been assassinated and nothing felt sure or clear in our young lives. We were heading to Monterrey California to the Army Language School where my husband would learn French and probably be sent to Vietnam. (He ended up not going to Viet Nam – in its wisdom the army sent him to Germany because he already spoke German fluently.)
We saw in the storm ahead a glowing motel sign, it was late, our daughter was crying, we were bone tired after driving since four that morning. We walked into the office, there was a black couple ahead of us. The man behind the counter told them there were no more rooms. I pulled my husband’s sleeve. “Let’s go,” I said. He said, “wait,” without looking at me. I hesitated and stayed behind while he went to the counter. The man smiled, “last room, sir,” he said.
I wish I could say that I got the other couple and we shared the room but they were gone and I was shocked into numbness. In that moment I didn’t understand. I looked at my husband and was about to say something like, “but I thought they had no room.” Maybe I did, I don’t know. I only know my own confusion, my distaste for the experience and my wish for change.
There are thousands like me, who want change and who have ideals about how “things could be better.” But the walls I ran into, run into are like the ones from my childhood where I had to sit through movies like The Robe and others of that genre, scared, in a seat alone because the people who brought me could not sit with me. They were taking me on their days off because my parents were neglectful but they could not take care of me by sharing my space – or me sharing theirs. It would take me years to figure that out by myself, nothing was ever said and now I know they could have gotten arrested if someone had noticed. I’m glad children were not “seen or heard” while I was growing up.
This has not gone away.
Yes, there is progress, but the opportunities of the races are not the same, not even close. You know it and I know it. The difference between 1963 with no Civil Rights Act and after its signature in 1964 and years following, was none. Twenty years, thirty, forty – the motel manager – depending on where it was located – probably wouldn’t have gotten away with what he did. But I am very cynical about what people can get away with. The disadvantaged are targeted at the same rate they were when I was growing up, the banks, the realtors, the school districts are little different. How could we have so much “no change” if things were actually enforced? Why would we still need busing if we have equalized our neighborhoods? We haven’t equalized anything. We are awash with bullets now, then we had ropes and we still have the attitudes of the men, and the women behind them, in white sheets holding their ideas, their customs, their entitlements as shield and sword for their intolerant righteousness.
We need better. Too long have we looked upon most of what we see around us as “other.” Whether an animal or a tree or the earth itself, we think, doesn’t have sensations, feelings, intelligence.
Do yourself a favor, don’t name. It’s the first step in separation. We know enough now to have discovered that there exists communication – communion – all around us. Look for communion. Take it when you feel it. Let your nascent or sophisticated vision of your universe expand. Expand with it.
John Muir said, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he[sic] finds it attached to the rest of the world.” And don’t be looking to be right or smart, Muir walked through miles and acres of American Native cultivation thinking it was “wild” land. It was, we all have different ways to cultivate. Get to know yours.
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Beginning At The Beginning

Work on the creator of duality rather than the creation,” goes the opening line to a meditation session. This is the “practice.” This is about you. This is about me. This is how we live our lives, with integrity – and I notice as I write, the “grit” in integrity – or with excuses. There is a video circulating of Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts, asking questions of John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo Bank who was in office during that company’s scam on its clients.
Her inquiry is unusual in its demands that Mr. Stumpf own up to what happened under his leadership and make restitution. This is not what we have become used to. We are inured to details of horror and no body in charge taking that responsibility.
As usual, the minor employees are being blamed and losing jobs while the policymakers enjoy their unconscionably bloated salaries and bonuses. This is the creator getting off. Perhaps the bank is one of those labeled “too big to fail.”
I’m still figuring out what that means. But I know what not taking responsibility looks like. It looks like any parent not investigating what their child is doing or where they might be going because we don’t have time. It looks like anyone who is “above” the law. The visions of horror we see over and over of treatment by “public defenders” against citizens of this country who do not fit the criterion for equal justice is an abomination. There is no justification for our national racial conduct.
Our minds are the cause of confusion. That we insist on believing what we think and missing the point of how we got to that thought has become a national disgrace.
We hold onto our reactions without restraint. Never questioning what responsibility we have in whatever we see is wrong. From racial profiling to who is trustworthy and who is lying, we loose sight of truth in our avoidance of our own responsibility.
We can laugh at the Trump supporter whose ignorance is being exploited by a reporter asking him to explain why Obama did nothing about 911 – or any factoid manufactured for the occasion. But we don’t hold ourselves accountable – or the reporter – for telling the truth and asking questions that might inspire thought. It wouldn’t sell “likes,” or whatever the going coin is.
We don’t demand of ourself our own “truth in advertising.” Well, we can say, “advertising’s been corrupt for years.” It’s not that it’s not true, it’s that we are unlikely to believe anything and we don’t expect truth. Of ourselves even, which leads me to the “creator.”
We are the creator. No matter what you believe about how we got here, we are here, and we won’t do a good job of it until we take responsibility for ourselves and our lives. Until we stand up for what we believe – which takes knowing what we believe, which takes knowing ourselves – we are the problem. We are the projector and director. By not choosing our best selves, our greatest truth, our good hearts and holding the line there, we are the problem. When will you be ready to see what will benefit the most people, when will you act on that while you let go of your fears, your prejudice, your racism, your elitism, your advantages, your favorites, your indifference. When will you let your good heart have its path to your brain? There are more pathways from the heart to the brain than the other way around. Use them!
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Take A Breath

“If you really could take away the suffering of all the people in the world, taking all of it into you with a single breath, would you hesitate?”

Is that fair? Couldn’t you just donate a few dollars to CARE and have that be enough? Could whatever you are doing now count?
In speaking with clients I get that many of us are overwhelmed and generally feel disenfranchised from feeling helpful when we see something happening in the world we really care about.
So, when someone asks for help, then what? Do we give? Do we feel vulnerable? Maybe they will keep asking and asking. Maybe it will all get out of control. Maybe. Maybe.
Yesterday I was at an outdoor festival sitting with friends. A man my friends knew came up to us – he was going up to everyone – and gave us a slip of paper he’d printed to get help transporting people out West to help with a demonstration/confrontation on Native American land. We gave and it gave us a chance to do something helpful for a situation in which we all felt invested.
I felt elated. How often do I get to do something to help a cause I care deeply about. I’m guessing that’s the popularity of the “crowd funded” participation. It’s effective and we can all lend a hand.
Lending a hand is, I think, our basic nature. It is a source of power for us to see our effectiveness or lack of it.
This sounds decidedly like a transaction. If I feel good, I will be good. If I feel in control, I will be nice to you. If I feel out of control, I won’t.
Sound familiar? Kind of homey, isn’t it? Remember when mom or dad had a bad day and came home to kick the dog – or you? Or had to be alone or had to have a drink or had to do something because.
Small moments of altruism can have a big effect on both giver and givee. I certainly feel better today for my participation, however small, in a larger effort. I love giving small amounts of time and money to join a group of like-minded people.
How are you relating to your altruistic self? Have you updated your version of you? Are you willing to take a breath?
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Death, Taxes and Rebirth

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Is a real life perfect? Is your life perfect? Is your life real?

There is no way to know where you will see the most beauty in your life, or have the most profound experience. Battlefields and graveyards are as full of enlightening and profound, happy and beautiful life experience as the playground or, for those of us who love equines, the paddock.

When we are looking around for a life to live we often look to books. When I was a child I read every biography of every famous person I could find. My school had a series of orange-bound books to inspire young readers. They told the lives of inventors, orators, presidents, nurses and many more. I learned so much and could see myself and feel the passion stirring in myself so clearly. I wanted greatness, I wanted to make a difference. And I wanted to be different. These books helped me choose how to be different and make a difference.

That was in grade school. In high school I learned to swallow my pride, to be ridiculed and sometimes to be seen. Being seen was the thing I most wanted and most feared. I wanted to pick and choose, to have total control over other’s opinions of me. It would take a while for me to see that no one had control over opinions of anyone, even the ones we carried inside. We were all reading a script of what was acceptable and what was not and our comfort in our lives reflected our ability to be ourself and what that meant in our wider world.

It amazes me to think of what I felt in second grade. How I saw my world and choices opening up. I felt there was so much room for me, so much passion and verve and I would be able to be so forceful in my life.

In third grade our teacher started to bring the world in which we lived into the classroom. The newspaper was brought in. We read about current events. We were never asked to think about them much. We were told about choices we might have and we were shown what was going on beyond our familiar walls and walkways.

I felt as if my brain were being recreated from a passionate idealist to a pragmatic realist who would be molding myself to the task at hand, not creating that task. It has been a big slow leap to embrace a life that has much promise and much pragmatism.

When making a change, the change has to fit in where we are. Going from nothing to something or something to nothing happens, but for most of us the path is slow and takes its time. Even when change looks fast, it is often because we haven’t been aware of the steps.

Change is recognized and happens first in one place: our mind. Our mind is the body’s expression of our experience. Habits and personality make up our experience. The story that we tell about ourselves creates our personality and is our main influence in how we live our life.

There is no such thing as “hard-wired” when we speak of the brain. Our brain is 75% water and the consistency, in most of its structures, of a soft-boiled egg. In this blubbery environment there are over 100 billion nerve cells, neurons, wonderfully arranged and suspended and ready to be at our beck and call.

It’s easy to change the brain, it changes all the time. Unless, of course, you do the same things all the time. Tell the same story. Sleep the same way at the same time, function hurriedly through your hour, day, month, year – your life. Without changing anything you will not change – unless the world changes you, which it is prone to do.

Then what do you do? A cry for help is a good start. Back to the books you read in second grade, good too. Get someone to help you stick to what you want to do for yourself or help you find the goals you want and the will to achieve them.

Your brain is capable of processing enormous quantities of data. You have more RAM sitting in your brain waiting for your use that in any computer you couldn’t possibly afford and isn’t made anyway. There is nothing so flexible as your lovely brain, so willing and able to do the work for you.

What does it take to turn it on? What does it take to change your life for the best? Keep the good and pare away the not-so-great parts? A few new habits acted on with the passion of a second grader. Every start is a new beginning, nothing can’t be made better. Every neuron in your brain is ready and waiting for new paths to open up. Give it something to do, start the next moment of your life.