Monthly Archives: May 2009

Do We Care Enough to Act?

Global warming, it seems, is much like the weather: everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything. Well, that’s not true. Some of us are driving more fuel efficient cars, riding our bicycles, recycling our newspapers, reading by energy efficient lightbulbs. Some of us even buy carbon offsets to ease our burdened consciences.

But in our hearts, we all know that we’re not doing enough. We look to big industrial plants in China spewing their poison into the air, and think: “What’s the use?”

Well, ponder this:

“In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation… even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.” —Great Law of the Iroquois

What if we considered the consequences of every action we took as it would impact our planet 140 years hence? Would we trample as much of our environment as we do? Would we have as many children? (Would we grant celebrity to status to those who have 8, 14, 18 children?)Would we enact stricter laws so that our children’s children’s children (x7)… would have fresh water, clean air, fertile crop fields, a healthy ecology and abundant wildlife?

Consider the two-generation effect of damming a couple of important rivers in the west.  Salmon runs are endangered because the salmon can’t reach their spawning grounds. Sea lions hang at the fish ladders and eat their fill, so we shoot the sea lions. The bears can’t eat the spawned-out salmon and poop their nutrient-rich waste into the forest, which nourishes the trees.  We put one dam on the river and we’ve upset the entire applecart. Do we blow up the dam? No. Damn the seventh-generation! We need electricity to run our air conditioners! 

Would the Iroquois have dammed the river?  How about shooting wolves from airplanes? How about planting genetically-altered corn? How about sucking all the oil from the earth and replacing those empty spaces with salt water? How about throwing our chemical waste in the lakes, rivers and oceans? How about storing our nuclear waste in leaking underground bunkers? What, pray God, will be the consequences of all these actions in 140 years?

A seventh-generation amendment to the U.S. Constitution has been proposed, but the language is too vague for me. I fear for its viability in our greedy, litigious society. It reads: “The right of citizens of the United States to use and enjoy air, water, sunlight and other renewable resources determined by the Congress to be common property shall not be impaired, nor shall such use impair their availability for use of future generations.” So it isn’t perfect. Let’s work on it.

I ask you to do something concrete to help our planet and our species. I ask you to spend some time seriously considering the seventh-generation consequences to each of your actions today, and then make your voice heard. Call, fax, email, write your legislators, both state and federal. Write letters to the editor.  Pass along this blog link. Call the president. Call Al Gore.

I’ll be doing all those things and more.

Listen. The Iroquois knew what they were talking about, and we should have listened long ago. If we work hard now, we can perhaps avoid global catastrophe.  If the time for this idea has come, their words could sail around the world in a viral fashion and we just might be able to mobilize the masses. When that happens, change occurs.

Let’s do it.

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Filed under Bicycle, Discipline, Possibilities, Social Consciousness, Spirituality

Farrah’s Story

I just heard that Part 2 of Farrah’s Story is in the works.

For those who didn’t watch the 2-hour documentary on NBC last Sunday night, it chronicled Farrah Fawcett’s two-year battle with cancer. She said that the purpose of filming and screening her horrendously painful treatments was to educate, but what did we learn?

Not much. We learned that Farrah is a fighter, to an astonishing degree.  The cringe factor in her treatments was extreme.

But we didn’t learn much else. We only learned the type of cancer almost as an aside (squamous cell carcinoma). We didn’t learn anything about squamous, how it grows or spreads. We didn’t learn how she discovered this tumor. We didn’t learn anything about her treatment options or why she chose the ones she did. Instead, we learned about her iconic hair, and how the doctors tried to perserve it. Good grief.

So, Ryan, if you’re not out to exploit the pain and suffering of the woman you love, use this platform to do some serious education. We all know that chemo makes people puke. That’s not the type of learning we’re after. We want to know the medical stuff of treatment. We want to know what trials are being done. There’s not a one of us who hasn’t been personally affected by cancer, and we’re after answers. Show us her scans. Have a doctor explain them. Show us alternative treatments and experimental treatments and how they work, and why they didn’t.

We all know and love Farrah, but her story has so much more potential to save lives and educate people than what we endured by watching her incredible suffering on Sunday night.

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Filed under Cancer, Dying, Honesty, Memoir, Spirituality

What Makes a Film Great?

I just saw Star Trek, and I’m still high.

Let me start by saying that I’ve been a big fan of the original series (yes, I’m that old) and all its syndicated reruns for all these years. I enjoyed NG, but never really warmed to it the way I did Kirk and Spock and the crew. I own all the movies, and my hour really came when Picard and Kirk were on horseback together, Picard looking pale and fey and Kirk robust and an obvious horseman. Not that they were competing, except in my mind, but there was no competition for my affections. I’ve been very clear on this blog what a fan I am of William Shatner; when I look at his face, I feel like I’m looking at my big brother. I am a true fan of his entire body of work.

So when I heard they were coming out with a Genesis-type film, I got scared. How could they capture the real affection and amusement of the original cast? How could they come up with a story line that befit such a monumental task? How could they cast such important roles? I know that you know that I’m not the only one who knows pretty much everything about these people.

And they pulled it off, in what appeared to be effortless fashion. The casting was superb. The writing perfect. The effects breath-taking. The bad guys truly bad. This film was a thrilling ride.

Last summer I blogged about the Sex and the City movie, how I had grown accustomed to the well-wrought women and their relationship, and how the movie–while I was nervous about that, too–pulled it all together and became a brilliant piece of filmmaking. I am scared that they’re moving too fast with those girls to put out another movie so soon, but we’ll see what happens.

Regardless, I can not wait for the next Star Trek film, especially if it involves the same cast and crew, because they’ve got it down.

If you haven’t seen Star Trek, see it without delay, whether you’re a fan or not.

The only sad note is that Shatner didn’t recite the famous lines: “Space…the final frontier…”

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Filed under Fun, Personalities, relationships, Writing

Is Anything Better than Hanging with Writers?

Another Ghost Story Weekend has come and gone. Fifteen of us this time (two over the limit) showed up at Siltcoos Station on a brilliantly beautiful weekend to write the dark and horrific, and we all did an excellent job.

The Surviving Members of Ghost Story Weekend 2009
The Surviving Members of Ghost Story Weekend 2009

As usual, there were stories of vampires, of haunted places, of mysterious ghosts, of friendly ghosts, of helpful ghosts, of harmful ghosts. All ghosts were welcome, and they came in well-considered abundance.

But what could be better than hanging out with other writers for a weekend? We ate together, laughed together, camped out in cabins like the adventurous souls we are, and tried to scare each other silly. And in so doing, we became better friends.
This was the 19th annual Ghost Story Weekend, and one attendee, Christina Lay, has only missed one of these annual fests. This year she brought finger food (literally). I wonder what she would have brought to that missing weekend. Maybe we’ll find out next year.
Meantime, I can’t wait for another spring to roll around and I put out the call for all ghost story writers to converge on a hopefully-haunted boathouse on the spooky Oregon Coast.
It’ll be another great weekend, I’m sure.
Join us?

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Filed under Friends, Fun, Ghost Story Weekend, Possibilities, relationships, Short Stories, Writing, years

Getting Hung Up on an Attitude

I’m stuck.

I have a small, smoldering resentment and it has sucked all the fun out of my life.  The thing that is so infuriating is that this situation is insignificant. Tiny. Teenie, even. And I’ve given it the power to interfere with my  joy. Last night, it even interfered with my sleep.

So it’s time to take action. I know precisely what I need to do to put paid to this situation, but I have to say, it’s taken me a couple of weeks to realize what I need to do. This situation needed to simmer. I needed to get past all the angry words that were backed up in my throat and my head. I needed to realize why my little girl inside was saying, “But what about me?” which is what all angry words really say.

So I’ve taken responsibility for my part in this teensie little thing that has disrupted my serenity, and today I take steps to rectify the situation. It will take a couple of days, actually, but I can see my way through it, and I won’t be acting in haste, or in anger, or from an indefensible position of mock outrage.

Wow. How adult of me. It’s those twelve steps, you know, that work in my life when I’m too out of control to work them.

I may not have control over much in this life, but I do have control over my attitude. And right now, my attitude sucks.

So I’m going to fix it.

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Filed under Personalities, Possibilities, Prayer, relationships, Resentment, Spirituality, Truth, Twelve Steps

New Cover Art!

The cover art for my new book has just been released. I’m very happy with it. Stay tuned for more details.

Darkness Cover

Darkness Cover

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Filed under My New Novel

Let’s Talk About Dying

No, really. Let’s talk about it. Let’s everybody talk about it.

We’re all going to die sometime, and while I’m not advocating hastening anybody’s death, I think death should be met with as much grace and anticipation as birth, puberty, or any other naturally-occurring event in our lives.

I participate on internet forums where people are spending their families into bankruptcy, making themselves sick beyond comprehension, all in a futile effort to stave off the inevitable. I can understand that when the sick person is a youngster, or a young person with children, but when the victim is elderly, has led a long and fruitful life, why not go gracefully to the other side? Instead of encouraging them to cling tenaciously to the physical body, we should be holding graduation ceremonies for that person and celebrating their contribution to the world.

I don’t get it. I really don’t. Except, perhaps, we don’t talk about it enough. My family knows (at least I think they do, I hope they do, I will make sure they do) my wishes about how easily I intend to slip beyond the veil to the other side. I can’t imagine that there is anything to fear there. We’re all going to go there, so why would anybody want to be dragged kicking and screaming, making it an unhappy, miserable event for everybody?

I hear people who have incurable, terminal cancer say: “I’m going to fight this with every ounce of energy left in my body, to my last breath.” And I say: Why? Does the God of your understanding have something horrible in store for you? I doubt it.

I ask you to think carefully about this topic and bring it up around your dinner table. Make certain that you understand how your loved ones feel about their deaths, encourage them to put those feelings in writing so there is no mistake about it, and make some arrangements for yourself while you’re at it. There’s no question that the death of a loved one or family member is an emotional time, and illness is a very stressful time. So that is not the time for these decisions to be made; that is not the time for these discussions to take place.

Watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyHLxPlQ_To

Get your mind right and get your earthly affairs in order. Then, when the time comes (and we never know when that will be), things will be easier on everybody.

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Filed under Aging, Death, Dying, Social Consciousness, Spirituality