Dealing with Death without the Supernatural

12 12 2014

tree and stars

I don’t go on Facebook much. I check every day or so to see if my friend Peter has played his turn in our on-going Scrabble tournament (at the moment, he’s beating me) and sometimes I’ll scan through the feed. I often find links to interesting articles or pick up news of friends. Most recently, I came across a friend posting an appeal about how to tell their child about a playmate who had died. The responses were what you might expect, mostly involving God, Heaven and angels.

I wrote a cynical reply, but thought better of it and deleted it. I don’t want to be one of those people who think that asserting “the truth” is more important than considering someone’s feelings. I have no sympathy for theists who whine when schools or the Government refuse to go along with their particular belief system. But death is tricky. It’s among the most difficult of Life’s misfortunes for any of us to deal with. I’m happy to debate religion under normal circumstances, and in fact, I feel an obligation to present the atheist alternative to counteract theist propaganda (We don’t all hate God, believe in moral anarchy, and suffer in bitterness and materialistic gloom). However, intruding on someone’s grief is just being a jerk.

We didn’t bring up our kids with the supernatural. Oh, we had fun pretending about lots of things. We made up games and imaginary characters. But when a child of any age looks at me in complete seriousness and asks to know the truth, I’m not going to lie. I’m going to explain things as best I can. No, Santa Claus isn’t real. But we can pretend.

That included all the awkward questions. No, you didn’t come to us by stork or cabbage patch. Might have been easier at first to go that route, but it only makes things more difficult in the long run. Withholding information is just prolonging ignorance. If the child is old enough to ask the question, they are old enough for a straight answer. Give them the truth from the start, and they learn that you can be trusted to be honest with them. Put them off with fantasy, and they won’t be sure when they are older if you aren’t doing the same thing when you talk about serious stuff like drugs and sex, lying to them “for their own good”.

But the whole heaven and angels thing is different. People really do believe, and if you contradict them they will only resent it. The tactic may even backfire, with them pitying you because you don’t have the comfort of God. There you both sit, pitying each other for exactly the same reason: each convinced the other is suffering because they can’t accept “the truth”. So there is nothing to be gained by scolding somebody for presenting religious dogma to kids as fact. They honestly think it is fact.

What I have trouble with is an adult doing the equivalent of handing kids a line about the stork, soft-peddling a difficult subject with a fantasy they themselves don’t believe. It starts with doggy or kitty heaven, even if the adult himself does not believe animals have souls. Then they comfort kids whose teacher dies suddenly, assuring them that God wanted Miss Ruth in Heaven to teach all the little children there. Even if the adult has only the vaguest notions of an afterlife, they feel compelled to default to the candy-cane version of Grandma with angel wings looking down on them from atop the Pearly Gates.

I agree, it’s tricky, and one has to consider what is developmentally appropriate for the child. Age figures into it, but the individual child does, too. Some get sophisticated much earlier than others, especially if they’ve been exposed to reality. Farm kids are savvy to where babies come from much sooner than suburban kids. Those who have seen a pet die have a better handle on death when their first close relative or friend dies. It’s always traumatic, but we adults do children no favors by sheltering them from the truth. We help them by being there for them, making sure they know they are loved, and explaining things as best we can.

To the question, “Where do you go when you die?” I think it’s best to admit we just don’t know. Nobody’s gone and come back to tell us about it. What we do know is that everything in the world is connected. The tiny parts that make us up, and make up dogs and cats and houses and toys, once came from stars, and those parts are never lost. They come together to make a person, and when that person dies, those parts go on to make trees, flowers, and other people. So when Mittens dies, maybe there’s a Kitty Heaven and maybe there isn’t. You can pretend if you like. We know Mittens becomes a part of the world again, to return as a bit of the bush that we planted over the place where he’s buried, and also to ride on the wind, to fall with the rain, to bloom in the garden. This much we know for sure.

And yes, some day you will die, too, because everything does eventually. But you, too, will go on. Parts of you will ride the wind, fall with the rain, and bloom in the garden. Parts of you will become another person, a different person, and life will go on. Death is, indeed, only a threshold, a transition. But it isn’t an immortal soul that lives on, some sort of ghost we can’t know about in some paradise we can only imagine. What transforms and goes on is everything that makes you who you are. Even the Earth will die someday, but still it will go on. All the bits that made up its people and animals, its oceans and mountains, will return to the stars from where they came.

No God, no Heaven, no angels. Nothing supernatural. And yet, it is comforting. I could share that explanation with my children, knowing its what I really believe to be true, and they will know it, too. Whatever their stage of sophistication, they can imagine some invisible part of themselves or their beloved pet riding the wind and falling with the rain, or they might understand the concept of atoms and molecules dispersing and recombining.

If they need to, they can pretend about Heaven. That’s fine. I’m here with honest answers when they need them.





Nothing in Heaven Functions as It Ought

21 11 2014

 
Nothing in Heaven functions as it ought:
Peter’s bifocals, blindly sat on, crack;
His gates lurch wide with the cackle of a cock,
Not turn with a hush of gold as Milton had thought;
Gangs of the slaughtered innocents keep huffing
The nimbus off the Venerable Bede
Like that of an old dandelion gone to seed;
And the beatific choir keep breaking up, coughing.

But Hell, sleek Hell, hath no freewheeling part:
None takes his own sweet time, none quickens pace.
Ask anyone, “How come you here, poor heart?”—
And he will slot a quarter through his face.
You’ll hear an instant click, a tear will start
Imprinted with an abstract of his case.

– X.J. Kennedy

I’m not much for poetry. I’m a story-driven reader and my preference is for prose. I’m also one of those tiresome people who likes their poems to rhyme. Otherwise, it just seems like flash fiction with lots of line breaks.

This poem hooked me, years ago, when I was still in college. My college years numbered more than most. I could have gotten my PhD for all the time I spent there. But finances dictated that I must go part time. Fortunately, I landed a job at the university, and in those golden days one of the staff benefits was the opportunity to take classes for free. So I browsed the catalog and followed my interests. Nearly eight years later I finally graduated with a BA in Philosophy and English with a minor in Religious Studies. That last one might seem odd for an atheist. I wanted to make sure I understood what it was I didn’t believe in.

I expect it was in an English class that I encountered “Nothing in Heaven Functions as it Ought.” And it resonated with me. Counter to theistic myth, with its perfect, omniscient and omnipotent god presiding over paradise, the poem presented version of Good that rang true, that reflected the stumbling, imperfect struggle of good people in the real world, their ideals constantly scuttled by circumstances. Good people and institutions, whose very compassion and gentleness, forgiving of weakness, tolerant of imperfection, makes them vulnerable.
Molloch

Then there’s Hell, pitilessly cranking in well-oiled, dehumanized efficiency, like the machines of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Hell is the Corporation, cutthroat and fiercely competitive, with no patience for the weak or slow, indifferent to suffering, concerned only with results and profit, human needs and frailty be damned. Hell is data points, high-stakes testing, winners rewarded and trap doors opened under the losers.

Many in my circles joke that they must certainly be going to Hell for their sins, but they don’t mind a bit since all the most interesting people must be headed there, too. We feel we’d be in very congenial company, especially if Heaven is populated with the righteously intolerant who are constantly judging the rest of us and finding us wanting. It has also been said many times that a Perfect God who would damn His creations to eternal torment because of the flaws He created them with is not worth our worship. I think most of us find idea of a mysterious God who is to be feared and sacrificed to, who regards us all as wretchedly unworthy sinners who can avoid eternal punishment only through His grace, is jarringly incompatible with what we understand to be the essence of Goodness. Many believers are on board with this, and have re-imagined God into a very different deity from the genocidal maniac of the Old Testament.

I recall my class discussing the X.J. Kennedy poem, speculating that it was a commentary on the industrial revolution and mechanized society, possibly even an indictment of Law or Science, or secular institutions. Good cases can be made for all these assertions. For me the meaning in the poem is much broader. Significant, I think, is the lack of mention of either God or Satan. Heaven and Hell are states of being, not mythological destinations post mortem, ruled by complimentary dieties. They are attitudes, philosophies, ways of looking at the world and judging what matters.

By placing the highest value on success, accomplishment, efficiency, perfection and zero tolerance for any deviation from the path towards the goal, we achieve Hell, sleek, smooth and shining. By placing the highest value on happiness, tolerance, compassion, creative expression and acceptance of humanity, warts and all, we achieve Heaven, where nothing functions as it ought.

I know where I’d rather be.





Being Right

7 11 2014

Seeing things differently

A friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in a while came into the Library. I was horrified to see the terrible swelling and bruises on her face and the bandage on her nose. It seems she had been out working with one of her horses and the animal had bolted, knocking her down and trampling her. This was a big work horse, too. She could easily have been killed. As it was, she got off with relatively minor damage, no broken bones or serious internal injuries.

“God and his angels were looking after me that day!” she declared. My first thought was, If God and his angels had been looking after you, my dear, the horse wouldn’t have bolted in the first place.

It would have been useless, and even rather mean, to point this out to her. She is an earnest and deep believer. To her, God and his angels are a very real force in her life. To me, they are as imaginary as unicorns, dragons, and fairies in the back garden. So who is right? And how can we possibly decide?

A great number of atheists have expended a great deal of energy explaining in lengthy logical detail why God is a delusion. Yet they are unable to convince anyone who wasn’t on the fence anyway. Theists, on the other hand, argue back with equal fervor. All right, some of their arguments are laughably flawed and silly. But there have been some genuinely intelligent and eloquent defenses of the reality of the Divine. Belief is not a matter of faulty thinking. Nor is disbelief a matter of spiritual poverty.

It boils down to this: We cannot help but believe what our experiences and worldview tell us makes sense. Period.

Fortunately, there are a great number of things we can agree on. The reality of the sun and its course through the sky, defining day and night, for example. But there have been and still are people who would laugh with disbelief at the assertion that it is the earth moving and not the sun which creates this experience. If I did not have the benefit of a science education, which has shaped my worldview, I would be among them.

I cannot know what convinces a person to believe in God, or in conspiracy theories for that matter. But I can generalize from examining my own reasons for belief that they, like me, accept what makes sense. And all the logical arguments in the world aren’t going to change their minds if they are certain they are right. They have had experiences of God, or met a ghost, or had some other insight that makes the supernatural real to them. Buddhists, whose wisdom I otherwise respect, believe firmly in rebirth. My Western, scientific worldview keeps me from being able to accept that as truth. Does that mean I’m biased? Wrong?

How arrogant of me to assert that no, I simply have a superior understanding of the world thanks to science. Arrogant, and yet, I can’t help it.

And neither can they. Or my friend with her God and angels. Understanding this helps me to be tolerant, and introduces a degree of humility to my certainties. It also makes me wince when my fellow atheists righteously heap contempt upon theists.

But, I remind myself, they can’t help help it either.





Making your mind a more pleasant place to be

3 11 2014

Criticism

We walk into a room full of people, and the first thing most of us do is start evaluating them. Much of this is just the mental process of taking stock of our social situation so we know how best to react to it. But a big piece of it is criticism.

That person doesn’t know how to dress; what an awful haircut; she laughs too loud; he’s an ugly slob; what an ignorant remark; how can she think that jewelry is attractive? At some point we realize that others are probably making the same sorts of judgments about us. So we struggle to make certain there is nothing about us to criticize.

We evaluate ourselves, and often come up wanting. Why did I make that stupid comment? I handled that presentation poorly. I drank too much at the reception and acted like a fool. I forgot his birthday. I forgot her name. My makeup looks terrible. My hair won’t behave. I feel like an idiot.

Judgments. Often harsh.

Some judgments are benign: I like the blue shirt more than the pink. I don’t care for Country and Western music. That picture would look better over the couch instead of in the hallway.

Some judgements are helpful: I’d best not have another cookie. It looks like rain; I ought to take my umbrella. That investment seems risky; I’ll pass.

But there’s a point at which judgments slide from sensible and intelligent into the realm of damaging and unhelpful: I am putting on weight. I ought to change some of my habits. Bad habits. I’ve made stupid choices. I can’t control myself. Look at how fat I’ve gotten. What a loser I am. No one is ever going to find me attractive or be able to love me.

Those are terrible things to say about yourself–or another person.

When you let this habit of judging get out of hand, it can make your mind an uncomfortable and unpleasant place to be. From the time you get up in the morning and critically appraise your face in the mirror, to your last waking moments as you lay in bed reliving all the mistakes you made during the day, you nag and worry.

Imagine living with someone who is always telling you what’s wrong with you, how you’ve failed, reminding you of your mistakes and predicting all the ways you might do as badly in the future. That person wouldn’t make you very happy, and your home would be an unpleasant place to be. You wouldn’t want to live there. You’d want to escape from it.

No matter where you go or what you do, your mind is where you live. There’s no escaping from it, although we have lots of temporary distractions and ways to numb ourselves from the noise of our thoughts and the suffering they cause. But no matter what we do, we have to live with ourselves. No divorce is possible. Better to find a way to make your mind a more safe and pleasant place to be.

So the first step is to back up a bit. Start listening to yourself, to the thoughts your busy, judging mind produces. Make yourself aware of it. Notice when it’s happening. Don’t just let it be automatic and business as usual. Realize what you are doing to yourself.

And here’s the tricky part: When you realize you are being judgmental, don’t criticize yourself for it. All that does is create an infinite regress. Instead, practice simply, and perhaps even with a touch of humor, thinking, Ah. I’m judging harshly again. Gee, there I go. Hmm. I’m being critical of myself.

Not beating yourself up for it. Not telling yourself you’re a bad person because of it. Just being aware that you are doing it. Seeing the line you step over when you go from observing that you need to change some of your behaviors to cursing yourself for not being perfect. Recognizing the difference between good judgment and harsh criticism.

That can be all you need to begin breaking out of the habit. That touch of objectivity. That bit of awareness. You can start making your mind a safer and more pleasant place to be.

And in the process, judging others less harshly, too.





The Glue is Holding

26 10 2014

FagenInYourFace2

It is sometimes difficult to meditate when you share a house with cats. I am sitting, trying to be mindful of my breath, of what is happening in this moment, of sounds and sensations, of thoughts passing through my mind, and I become aware of it. The soft patter of paws approaching. The purr begins. The weight of a small animal climbing into my lap. The sensation of a cat face pushing against my hands. Human, your attention will be upon me, now.

Like most animals, cats are perpetually in the moment. They spend little time in planning ahead (unless you subscribe to the theory that they are constantly plotting something nefarious, which their narrowed eyes often seem to imply) or dwelling on the past. For the most part, the present moment occupies them fully.

Humans, on the other hand, are constantly obsessing on what we have done and what we are going to do. We burn through our day on autopilot, getting things done and anticipating what to do next. We “multitask”, which psychological tests have proven is actually a frantic toggling of focus between several objects of our attention one moment at a time. At the end of the day we collapse into bed and inventory what we did, how well we did it, and make our list for tomorrow. Or we distract our poor frazzled brains with a book, video, or game. And still, while we watch, play or read, thoughts about what we did and what we need to do intrude, like a cat insistently crawling into our laps and nudging our hands.

I set aside time each day for meditation, at least half an hour, more if I can manage it. I sit and let my breath keep me in the present moment, quietly aware. The thoughts and plans, ideas and worries, come parading into my mind because that’s what human minds do. Busy, busy, busy. But instead of hopping onto these trains of thought and letting them carry me away, I just wave to them as they leave the station. More trains come. Some are happy trains, brightly colored, full of excitement and interest. Some are pretty awful, blowing dark smoke, hauling cargoes of guilt, worry and fear. I let them all go.

The demands and obligations of my life require that I pay attention most of the time. I’ve got to plan, got to evaluate what happened, figure out what to do next, just like everybody else. But meditation, and the habits of mind it encourages, gives my brain and emotions a break. It refreshes my spirit and provides perspective. When I was sick with depression, I couldn’t keep myself anchored in the station; one of those dark trains with its load of anxiety would arrive, pull me on board, and off I’d go. The more I rode them, the worse I got. It exhausted me to tears, because the damn trains never seemed to reach a destination. The problems were never solved, the mournful whistles just kept on blowing as the train rumbled on into the night.

I’m better at choosing the trains I ride, now. Better at climbing aboard the ones that actually take me somewhere useful and interesting. Better at sizing up ones that go nowhere, flashing the conductor a smile, and shaking my head no thank you.

In less metaphorical words, here I am, going into week six of the MBCT therapy course, and I can say with certainty that it’s working. I’ve put myself back together and the glue seems to be holding. So, cats willing, I’ll continue the practice and gradually begin reintegrating myself into the pressures of living that I’d put aside to devote my energy to healing.


For the geeks, here’s a link to an article on what MBCT is, how it works, and why it’s being studied as a possible answer to patients with long-term, treatment-resistant depression. For the less geeky, the gist is this: Mindfulness meditation helps people recognize when their mood is beginning to plummet, and to focus on their present experience rather than on fears of the future or reliving past negative episodes. In one randomized clinical trial, MBCT cut the relapse rate in half for people with recurrent episodes of depression. In another randomized clinical trial published in The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, people with recurrent depression who participated in an eight-week group course of MBCT were significantly less likely to become depressed again than people who continued on antidepressants without therapy. During the study, people in the mindfulness group reported greater physical well-being and enjoyment in daily life, and 75% were able to discontinue their antidepressant medication.





Asking the right question

12 10 2014

Curious Owl“Are you worth it?”

A challenging question, posed by a therapist, specifically designed to provoke a response. It’s meant to prod the ego, to summon a sense of defiance. Yes, I am worth it. I am worth this deeply painful struggle to recover a strong and healthy sense of self. I am fighting for myself, and I am worth it.

For many patients, this would be a good energizing tactic. But you need to know your audience. It’s not a good question to ask someone whose self-esteem has tanked. Because the response is not a chin-up, fist-shaking, “Yes!” The response is a pause, a frown, a plunge into anxious introspection. Am I worth it? What am I worth? What is my value? Is it found in the service I can be to others? Is it in my work? What I have created? If the sum total is unextraordinary, meaningless, then am I, too, unextraordinary, meaningless? Unworthy of salvation, as the theists might say?

And even presuming that my works have worth to those around me, how does that relate to me? Who am I, apart from what I do? How do I calculate the worth of the “I” in the center, the ultimate Subject, apart from all the verbs and objects?

In other words, here we go again. New material for the Ruination Chorus. Of course I’m not worth it. I can ruminate for hours on all the ways I’m not worth it. “FUBAR!” says the Owl.

Let us rephrase the question: “Is it worth it?”

This not mere rhetorical sleight of hand. There is a critical difference in the two questions, although they might seem to amount to the same thing. In the first, the subject is the person wrestling with the sickness. The second refocuses the attention to the struggle itself. Is the fight worth what might be gained? This requires only a moment’s reflection. The alternatives to continuing the struggle are, quite simply, giving up and living in misery, or ending the whole mess with suicide. The first alternative is unacceptable. No, I most certainly do not want to spend the rest of my existence in joyless despair and self-loathing. The second alternative is equally unacceptable. Not only does it end all possibility of future moments of joy and happiness, but it would leave in its wake profound damage to those I leave behind. I’ll be dead eventually anyway. It makes no sense to rob myself of what opportunities remain for me in the days I have left.

That leaves a firm “Yes” as the only possible answer. Even now, with the Ruination Chorus at my back, the painful memories, the sense of loss and regret, the fear of failure and abandonment, the whole bleak, tear-drenched march through the grey and gloomy forest, I still have moments of joy. I still can laugh. I can take delight in people and things. Slowly, it is getting better as my poor, age-addled brain, creaking with its loss of plasticity, trains itself to respond more skillfully and effectively to old bad habits of thought. In week four, going into week five of Cognitive Therapy and Mindfulness Meditation practice, I can feel the difference.

I can grin at the Owl and say, “Who you calling fubar?”





Colebrook Journal: Being There

4 10 2014

Curious Owl

I’m ready to go home.

It’s not that my work is done. I feel like I’ve barely started. But I have started.

Hiking the Western side of the Grafton Loop did not begin well. It was chilly and damp, and although it never actually rained, it might as well have. The trail and the campsite where I was headed were within the cloud cover. I hiked six miles in through gloomy, dark forest with mists trailing through the trees. Beards of lichen draped firs beaded with moisture. So I dug out my earbuds and iPod and played Beethoven (The Eroica, to be precise), pretending I was hiking though the Black Forest of Germany. I reached a ledge which my trail description said provided “limited views.” Oh, they were limited, all right. Limited to swirling mists and walls of featureless grey. I reached Sargent Brook Campsite, and in spite of the abundant water in the atmosphere, the brook was dry. Lovely. The three liters of water I’d packed was not going to last me the three days and eighteen miles I had to go.  Nothing to be done about it.  Just had to hope I could find water up the trail.

Next morning I packed up as well as I could in the dry confines of my little one-man tent, and emerged into the world of wet leaves and eye-level clouds. But part of my MBCT practice was learning to accept with equanimity whatever happens, dealing with it, not crying into my cold breakfast that things were not as I wanted them to be. They are what they are. Pack up and get going.

And lo, when I reached the summit of Sunday River Whitecap, the mists thinned and the sun burned through. Clouds still rolled through the valleys, but the tops of the mountains rose above. It was glorious. I found a sunny ledge, stripped off my wet gear, and laid out my tent to dry. Two hikers coming through going in the opposite direction told me that the brooks were running at the next two campsites, so not to worry.  In fact, the next two days were sunny and clear.  (The night got pretty chilly, which made it hard to leave the snug warmth of my sleeping bag in the morning.)

The trail between Sunday River Whitecap and my next planned stop was beautiful, easy to moderate grades through golden forests rich with the smells of autumn.  My goal was six miles away, which would leave me about another six miles to hike out the last day, including four hard miles down the other side of Old Speck. (FYI for hiking readers: besides the brook being dry, the bear box at Sargent Brook campsite was foul and the outhouse was even more foul. Makes me appreciate campsites with caretakers all the more. Bull Run campsite was smaller but cleaner with a lovely rushing brook full of good water.)

But this hike wasn’t so much about the trail as it was about the Practice, the therapy, if you will. More metaphor than exercise. I traveled slowly not because the terrain was difficult (although in spots it was) but because I was stopping frequently just to mind my breath and pull myself fully into the moment, practicing my awareness of what I was feeling and experiencing. Because of that, something happened that would not have, had I been motoring along at full stride, intent on getting somewhere rather than just being where I was.

As I stood, perfectly still, leaning on my staff, I saw out of the corner of my eye something silently come through the trees and settle on a branch. There was a screen of leaves between, so I couldn’t see what it was. I resisted the urge to move to get a better look. I stayed frozen. After a moment or two, a large bird flew to a branch just above me and perched. A barred owl examined me curiously, and inquired, appropriately, “Who? Who?” I looked back into its large, unsettling black eyes, remaining still and silent. It swooped down to get a better look, moving its head up and down, back and forth, scrutinizing this uncharacteristically motionless intruder in its territory, probably accustomed to seeing critters like me tromping along and chattering away to its fellows. Finally it concluded with a hoot which sounded very much like “Fu-bar!” and took off.

“Who you calling ‘fubar’?” I murmured, grinning from ear to ear.

Getting to the summit of Old Speck on the last day was pretty easy. I climbed up the tower at the top to make the requested calls from my cell phone to assure anxious folks at home that I was fine, had not fallen and broken my neck or been mauled by a bear (or psychotic hiker), and admired the breath-taking 360 degree panorama. Then I climbed down and shared my lunch with the inevitable pair of whiskey jacks (a.k.a. Gray Jays, famous for their trail mooching), and finally hoisted my pack and headed down.

Late afternoon. The wind is getting cold and the sunlight is slanting through the trees, rapid disappearing behind the high hills. The wind has taken many of the leaves off the trees and covered the ground, including the trail. It is hard to see what the terrain is like, easy to step wrong, slip or lose your footing. Loose rocks and roots lurk ready to trip the unwary. I had four miles of it, some of it very steep, much of it wet and slick. I was tired after all the miles I’d covered. A recipe for disaster, and boy, I knew it. I crept and crawled and tested each doubtful foothold with my staff. The light was fading but I knew better than to hurry. It was the longest four miles I’ve ever hiked in my life (except for Jefferson, but let’s not go there). At times I was almost in tears, the pack unbalancing me, the trail disappearing in the fallen leaves and fading light and still a long way to go. At times it was beautiful, emerging onto a ledge to see the moon rising over the peak I’d just come down from. (Now, which way does the damn trail go?)

I made it down, found my car unmolested in the parking lot, and headed home in the purple dusk, my leg muscles so tired I could barely drive.

Metaphor.

I’ve done hard work here in Colebrook. Good work. But just a start. If I’m not careful and let myself get distracted, I’ll slip into old mental habits. I’ll fall into depression again. Which is not to say I’m going to be happy all the time now. I won’t. Some days I’ll be sad. Some days it’ll hurt so bad I’ll think I can’t stand it. But I’ll keep going, accepting what I must, letting go of what I have to, doing what I can, the best I can, moment by moment.

Hiking the Trail.  Walking the path.








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