No Cause for Panic


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When things fall apart, it will be very sudden. Everyone will be taken by surprise. ATM’s will stop working. Recreational travel will cease. Borders that were once open will close indefinitely.

No one will be in charge, so there will be no one to complain to. People who don’t know any more than you do will try to reassure you that matters are under control, but they’ll be lying.

You won’t be able to observe much directly. You’ll see barriers that say “Road Closed” but you won’t be able to see why the road is closed. The reason for the closure will remain hidden. Rumors will fly, but no one will know the real truth. Most of what is said will be mere speculation.

It will steadily get worse. Food and water shortages will get everyone’s attention at once. Electricity outages, sanitation lapses, business closures, all will contribute to a mounting sense of panic. The more there is to panic about, the more the people who pretend to be in charge will say “there is no cause for panic.”

 

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King Addict


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He was an addict through and through, addicted to nothing so much as addiction itself. Any activity that caused him to keep secrets, spend money, and kept him in a permanent state of dissatisfaction would do. He could become and remain addicted to anything at all.

Shame was his constant companion. Remorse hounded him throughout the day, but especially at night, when he would review his addictive behaviors and promise himself tomorrow would be different. Tomorrow he would cut back.

But tomorrow never came. At least the tomorrow that would be different from today never came.

All activities, not just addictive ones, left him feeling empty. As time went on, he felt more and more numb. Always there was the hope that some new thing would come along, something he could really get excited about. Then he could abandon all reason and dive right in, smothering himself in the process. But instead of such a new thing arriving, the old addictions held on, and the possibility for excitement waned.

Nothing he was doing was worth the cost, the secrecy, the effort. The only way out of addiction is to go cold turkey, and that as millions of addicts will attest, is no fun at all. So he remained loyal to his addiction to addiction. No matter how bad it got, he never gave up.

Buddhist Lourdes or Fatima


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I began today by listening to Bertrand Russel’s 1927 lecture “Why I Am Not a Christian,” quite a brave thing for the BBC to broadcast at that time. I wish I had heard it when I was in grade school, for I wasted a lot of time practicing Catholic voodoo to ensure salvation for myself and others. Russel takes a dim view of Christian hell.

Today we went to the Wat Doi Kam, which is the Buddhist equivalence of maybe the Catholic shrines of Lourdes or Fatima. The Temple is located on a hill only a few miles west from our house. People come in droves to pray for good luck, facilitated in their efforts by a now-deceased holy monk. You say a short prayer three times, burn some incense, promising to return if your wish is granted and then leave an offering of fifty jasmine flowers. I’ve done it twice, once with my friend Nick last week, and today when I brought Wipa and Ken and his wife Jiew. So far I’m still waiting for results.

We all agreed it was a wonderful, colorful place, and not nearly as crowded as the temple on Doi Suthep which is serviced by tour buses.

Here are some pictures from it. A glorious day, puffy clouds, clean air, not too hot.

they’ve even got a golden statue of me in my present condition. How did they know I was coming?

 

 

 

Not Ready to Apologize


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Many of the Agent Orange victims of our war effort in Laos and Vietnam are still alive. They are still hideously malformed, requiring constant care from family members. We have never apologized, much less sought to make things right. We have never offered to pay reparations of any kind.

When you search the Internet for Agent Orange Victims, you come up with posts about our soldiers who were injured dumping Agent Orange on Vietnamese and Laotian civilians, and the forests and farmland in which they lived. Many people ask for compensation to be paid to our soldiers, but nobody is suggesting we pay the people on whom we dumped this toxic chemical.

Nor has anyone suggested that the stockholders of Dow Chemical or Monsanto (now Bayer) ante up. That was a long time ago, and even though we were embroiled in an undeclared war, those unfortunate people were “the enemy.”

Speaking of undeclared wars, the conflict in Korea was also such an affair “a United Nations police action” enforced by the country who gave the world napalm. We dumped plenty of the sticky, jellied gasoline on North Korea, and night-time bombing runs by Curtis Le May’s newly formed Air Force burned millions of civilians to a crisp as they slept.

Neither the Korean or Vietnam Wars accomplished what they intended. After hostilities ceased, the borders remained as they were at the start. Millions dead, billions spent, and few lessons learned.

The Final Curtain


Endure and thrive

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If you don’t know why you’re still alive, maybe there’s been a mistake. Maybe you’re not supposed to be here any longer. You’ve overstayed your welcome. You’ve passed your shelf life but nobody told you, and that’s why nothing much seems to be coming your way any more.

What to do? How can you determine for certain if this is the case?

Try stepping outside your comfort zone and see what happens. Magnanimously and gracefully bow, thanking the audience for its attention, then slip behind the curtain and into the wings. If there is no thunderous demand for an encore, then you were right, they’ve seen enough. Cultivate your newfound retirement. Resist all obligations and demands on your time. You have no more time, at least none that’s assured.

This is indeed the last act, the final curtain.

Leave them wanting more.

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Could Be Worse


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How lucky can one man get? I ask myself this occasionally, when I’m not actively focused on what I lack. How much time do I have left? There’s no way to know that, so I might as well act as if time were running out and I’d better hurry.

These are the ways I drive myself crazy. These questions and compulsions come from inside me, not from outside. The world isn’t insane, I am.

If you hang around people who seem content, either they really are or they’re hiding their inner turmoil. Maybe serial killers seem to have the Buddha nature. At least we’re sure they have the ability to create a plan of action and follow-through. Those are qualities I sorely lack.

And then there is the issue of codependency. I’m always worried what other people think of me, how they feel at this moment, and those worries preclude any chance I could champion my own interests. Again, serial killers suffer from none of that. They don’t care what their victims think or feel.

But I am lucky not to have been born a serial killer, nor to have become one along the bumpy road of life. Yes, things could be worse, much worse. For this I am grateful.