We’ve moved to a new community out in the countryside. We are now living in a small town called Benalmadena. I’ve mentioned it in a previous short story I wrote about a trip we had taken earlier in the year before the days of the mask. The patio home we chose to move into has a small garden and lawn area, a patio downstairs and a terrace up with fabulous views of the Mediterranean Sea from both upper and lower floors. So far, after just a month of being in the new town, we rate it higher–better on everything compared to the previous town. It probably should be rated higher because it is located in a much more expensive part of Spain. Though we are still two cities east of the most expensive part of the southern coast of Spain (Marbella). For those of you who know me well, you know that’s where I’m headed — one day in the not too distant future. Let’s just hope I don’t outlive my money or I’ll have to move in with you.
The expensive living in Spain along the Mediteranean Sea is precisely why we moved here. I mean, it was not an easy decision to leave our sons and daughter behind and move to a new continent. However, the costs were a huge part of the decision for us. Even when we compared the most affordable areas in the USA to here in these most expensive areas in Spain, the costs here were a third of those USA costs. How could we resist? We have family in the USA but we also have technology to stay in touch with you all. There was nothing to keep us from retiring early and spending the rest of our lives exploring the world. It’s been a great first year.
Warning: Political humor ahead. Proceed with caution!
In the first year here we’ve traveled to somewhere in Spain, almost one new city each month. Up until February to June when Trump started a pandemic to destroy the world and kill everyone. We have visited 8 cities so far. Plans were to have been to the Danube, and to Bordeaux by now but, again, thanks all you people hating Trumpsters for trying to kill everyone. We are back to traveling again now starting last June but we are still hesitant to go outside of Spain. Last week we went to Marbella for a few days and we were very inspired by the city.
We don’t have a car and I still have not pursued a driver’s license in Spain. We mostly walk everywhere and when necessary we take the bus. The public transportation in Europe is good enough and the longer I go without a vehicle the less I want one. When we were in planning stages, prior to getting here, I planned to get a BMW 1800 motorcycle. I imagined the thrill of traveling through Switzerland, Germany, Hungry, Bosnia, etc. on a big touring bike. Now that we’ve been here a while I’m thinking it’s better to let someone else drive while I watch the view out of the window. Maybe, all we really need is a scooter, just for getting around town for those late night concerts and shows at the casino.
I have learned some more about the Spanish language and particularly for the accent found in southern Spain. In Spain the letter c is generally pronounced as a th. Gracias, for example, in Mexico we would say graw-see-ass, but in Spain you would say Graw-thea-ass. Also the x and z are enunciated as a th sound. Sanchez for example is pronounced San-theth. Which is, by the way, the name of Spain’s Socialist President: Pedro Sanchez. Who is a great leader when compared to Trump who is an asshole idiot and makes every other leader on Earth look brilliant. I apologize for being so passive, but I don’t want to get the few mentally damaged readers who worship the orange kleptomaniac in an uproar. It’s so easy to insight violence with this horrible-horrible person, so I keep the dialogue gentle. Anyway, the words we speak in English tend to be grouped into syllables and follow rules for how the letters are sounded out. In Spanish each word makes a single sound rather than groups of letters and syllables. It is very difficult for the English trained ear to hear the spoken words in Spanish. Most of the time,to me, it sounds like everyone speaks with a lisp.
Wrap it up here. I’m retired and have a lot to do so I can’t just sit here writing these words of wisdom all day. Pronunciation time:
Benalmadena: English = ben-all-ma-den-a Spanish = benalmadayna (Think, Al Bundy, and madonna only with an i instead of an o).
Standing on the balcony of our highrise apartment looking out across the Mediterranean Sea, as I often do these days, struggling with thoughts for now and then. Words are powerful and can convey so much but only when the words are grouped in perfect sequence. I always have a lot that I would like to share, but I seldom have the confidence that I know that perfect sequence. It helps that I’m inspired by this view, by this country I now call home, and always by the idea of ideas. The high bar for me is that when I write I truly desire to share thoughts that are as beautiful as the sunrise. Often however, my thoughts are more like war torn battle fields illuminated in the sunrise. There is a tangible inspiration from these illuminated awakenings that sometimes spur me on despite my lack of confidence. A sunrise metaphor is my goto for a starting point and philosophically speaking, it is my preference. The dawning of a new day and the hope it represents is that today will be better than the day or days that came before it. The sunset, by contrast, represents the termination, the end of all that once was. The sunsets on everything that is now and forever gone. Though I’m certain all the conservatives will agree nothing good comes from the future. Conservative mids know all the best days are long gone, there’s, they will tell you, was the best generation. The world is going to hell in a handbasket, they often say. The best of days have all been sunset. While the future in the eyes of the conservative holds nothing but the doom and end of life, certain death. I’m going to disagree with all of those conservatives and present the dawning of the day. The hope each morning brings about a better day. The past — which has proven to be ugly, full of hate, violence war, separation, bigotry, religiosity, and which is filled with death, war, murder, killing — is gone. This new day comes with the possibility of a future better than the icky old days and those nasty old ways. A collective phewy on tradition.
Can you see that battle ground now? The war torn fields fully illuminated by the beautiful sunrise? If you can please accept my humble bows and read on.
In the late 1980’s I had just ended a six year contract with the United States Navy and I was busy rediscovering civilian life. I’m reminded of those days, especially the last six months of service in the Navy, today as we are now day 17 of the chinese pandemic lockdown. It’s the mental difficulty for being confined for long periods of time in a small area and a lot of unusal stress just as it was when onboard Navy ships. One morning on the ship, I had just finished reading Alan Watts book, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, the night before. In this book, Watts works with the following Hindu concepts: that all is ultimately Brahman or God; that our lack of understanding this is because of the magic of maya (Mara in Buddhism); and that figuring it out is lila, a playful game. He likens the game to Hide and Seek in which God, who is all, hides by pretending to be all the various things in the world including each one of us. However, Watts says, “when the game has gone on long enough, all of us will wake up, stop pretending, and remember that we are all one single Self, the God who is all that there is and who lives for ever and ever.” Anyway, I was standing on the 4th deck balcony of the tower looking out at the Indian Ocean. I recall the beauty of the water, the sky, and the clouds. I had just stepped out of the final preflight briefing that had been very intense. Today the strategy and the flight missions were especially more dangerous: aircraft fully armed, and we were going into day 9 of the war with Libya. The view made me stop and recall the game, “lila.” For a moment as I stood there I thought, “wake up. Game over.” I love this concept of the future being so much better and a lot more fun. It makes each and everyday into a notable, perfect and obvious illusion.
Most of the USA baby-boomer generation embraced a lot of those far-east cultures such as Hindu religions, Buddhism and Taoism. Too many wars, and a history of too many egomaniacal, narcissistic men turning country after country into populations where men are used as war-tools for killing and as objects to be slaughtered, tortured, and forgotten on the battlefields. Even though those eastern cultures had treated life and men just the same as the modern day Saudi Muslims and Italian Christian religions, we sort of loved the Hindu and Buddhist messages better. A Buddhist sunrise came for me one morning while I was taking out the garbage. Standing at the trash bin, I was looking at the city of Dallas in the distance. I could clearly see the skyscraper high rise office buildings as if they had majestically sprouted up out of the ground into the glorious blue sky. It was two years later from that morning when I was standing on the ship’s tower balcony. I could still recall the sensation of fear for being killed and the dread for the lives I would be destroying that day. As I stood there looking at the city so far away, with a memory that still seemed so close by, In my hand I held a framed picture intended for the garbage. It was actually a framed letter. I had the letter matted and framed and had kept it hanging above my rack on the ship, and in my living room when I wasn’t on ship. This morning it was time to embrace the future and let go of that past. The letter was from my mother’s minister. The minister of a christian church had written to me because he wanted to let me know that he and my mother had decided to kick me out of their church. Apparently I was no longer worthy of their love, nor of their Jesus’. As I tossed the framed letter into the bin, that mental battlefield was vivid in the sunrise. It was ugly and disturbing. And as I write this today I can tell you this was the third time since the day I physically tossed it into the garbage that I’ve thrown that letter away, and hope this will be the last time.
Now is a difficult concept in some ways. The aggregate adds to the difficulty for the majority of us. Aggregates are one of the tools Mara uses to keep us blind to reality. When I think of aggregate as a bad thing I use the word car as a tool. When we think about a car we imagine the thing we use to go places. That’s the aggregate concept of — car. The reality of — car is it is metal mined from the ground but hundreds of people, rubber from trees cultivated by hundreds of people, plastics processed from oil pumped from the ground by hundreds more people, copper, aluminum, sand, cotton, etc. We seldom imagine how everything we use in our every day from the food we eat, house we live in, clothes we wear, car we drive, etc. are the result of everyone and everything on this planet. When we think of — now many times we aggregate the awareness of the current political scenes, the global economy, the various wars, day of the week, time of the day, etc. This isn’t what now is. Now is not an aggregate like –car. It’s much more than that. Now isn’t a bunch of stuff all at once combined as an aggregate. What now is? You cannot define it. As soon as you apply a word or a thought to define or describe it, you’re already wrong. Maybe this will place your mind on the correct path; It’s the sound of one hand clapping.
Then, is also an interesting aggregate. We can often use — then to refer to what has already happened. And we can often use — then to refer to what is yet to happen in the future. Whichever way it [then] gets used, the narrative of the future and the past is where it is critical for understanding now. If there’s a means to nudge a person onto the path of discovering the illusion of — now and — then it’s eastern philosophy which has often discovered the way. The idea for guiding each person to discover the illusion and awaken to the understanding of reality is wholesome and sound. When someone tells us the answer to a complex question we will often reject the answer and question it. But, when you discover an answer on your own the awakening is an epiphany and will change you forever. One path that I find amazing is the concept of — then when referring to the past. The past isn’t something that doesn’t exist anymore. It cannot not exist anymore. It’s impossible to be both present and nonexistent. So we cannot think or say there was a past but instead we have to realize there is a past. The same must be understood with the future. We cannot think or say there will be a future or that the future is not yet. Clearly and quite obviously there is a future. The correct narrative, or the reality if you please, is that — everything is now. Enjoy this journey.
Seems like an unusual topic, doesn’t it? Of all the places on the Internet to think of lessons in the law, Facebook would probably be at the top of most people’s list of least likely sources. The journey there (to the lesson) will set the stage for the soundness and perhaps a touch of good humor. Let’s hope for the best. But first let’s get to the delicacy gone past.
We live in some exciting days. To say the least! With the latest disease spreading virus brought to us -once again- from the land of too many, Covarian Virus, or SARS part 2. You and I know the trilogy (SARS part 3) will require a global effort if we have any hope to avoid it. But, I’m sticking to the current release of the killer threat from our overpopulated and heavily polluting sisters and brothers from China.
WARNING — This post is not my usual lighthearted and full of fun material.
Meanwhile in the land of greed and prolific bomb development it’s another media frenzy election year. There is no other sensation that can come close to the elite controlled media’s game of deception and diversion than the presidential election. Not even Hollywood’s grammies can compare to the total lustfest the U.S. elite wallows in during the presidential election years. An overabundance of totally exposed money thrusting and gyrating about is too-to-much for them to resist.
Designer Killer Germs
It was 1968 when China first made me sick and tried to kill me with their pandemic called “The Chinese Flu.” I was 10 years old and I can recall my mother on the phone with her mother discussing my 104 degree fever. How can I forget this near death experience and the opportunity to lay in the bathtub of cold water trying to break the fever? When Pink Floyd later wrote lyrics for their song, Comfortably Numb, “When I was a child I had a fever. My hands felt like two balloons.” The Chinese Flu was that experience. I recall the hands feeling just that [balloons]. The cough was horrible too. I remember mom calling to me from down the hallway at 2 or 3 am. “Rollover,” she called out, “You can’t stop coughing laying on your back. Try sleeping on your side.” They tried to kill me with SARS too. These Chinese designer germs tried to take me out with SARS 1 and I’m sure I’ll be in bed for a week with their current attempt soon. The next time you are in a public restroom and see someone of Chinese descent please show them the soap and demonstrate for them how to wash up. We can be proactive and share some knowledge across cultures.
Perhaps rather than just tariffs, and name calling the U.S.A. should require the Chinese government provide soap to their population. They should adopt an aggressive effort to teach and enforce the washing of hands, regular bathing, and their shops, markets, and restaurants should be continuously cleaned and regularly inspected for cleanliness. It wouldn’t hurt anything to instruct their population on healthy eating habits and unhealthy eating habits. Let’s take a proactive approach and start to include a case of soap and hand sanitizer with every shipping container we send them– free. When you look at the cost to the world for the sickness and deaths they spread globally, providing these free of charge won’t actually cost us at all.
A bit harsh? I don’t think it is. When someone hits you in the face and it takes a month or two before your eye swelling goes down and your vision returns,and then they hit you in the face again. Now, you see them coming at you a third time again, the time for delicacy has past.
An Activist Anarchist
Exciting days indeed. As an activist and a humanity first advocate myself, I can’t remember a time when so many causes were out begging for donations at one time. The combination of Covarian, the need for more bombs, and election season have seen a ten times increase in the number of, now daily requests. Each of which ask for me to send them money a few times every year. The Free Tibet society, Future of Life society also ask for money a few times every year. Two years ago I started supporting Andrew Yang for President when he announced his candidacy for the Democratic Party. Without too many details for why I would support the Yang presidency I’ll just add in a high level bulleted list:
Universal Basic Income
Humanity Centered Capitalism
End of GDP and Economic Growth Financial Measures
Fast forward to the election year where Yang has several millions of dollars in donations per month regularly coming his way, and a huge number of individual contributors. He’s refused PAC money and has succeeded in qualifying for 4 of the first 5 Democratic debates. Wow? Yes, wow! However, after failing to win the first two state primary elections he immediately resigns from the race. He says it was a party unifying intention.
Okay, so let me try to pull all these strings together and start to put a bow on the Dharam lessons in Facebook.
Presidential candidate, Yang, has a support group in Facebook where there were, at the peak, 315,000 (plus) members. That’s a solid fanbase. Keyword, fanbase. While the logical approach to all government elected individuals should be policy driven, most of the U.S.A. treat politics like a sporting event or a Hollywood movie. I cringe every time a post mentions someone’s “love for Yang.” It’s nothing short of absolutely wrong. It’s a direct result of the Ronald Reagan, 1980’s policies to dumb-down America. There were, however some members who tried to reign in the passionate and stick to the policies that were the platform. When Andrew Yang suspended his run for the presidency the heartaches flooded the Facebook wall. Angry posts were prominent, and many were saying they would never follow another candidate again.
For The Love of Another
It got worse. Because Yang had qualified for the primaries his name is on all of the state ballots despite his dropping out of the race. With every primary going forward many of the Facebook fans would post a picture of their primary ballot clearly showing Yang’s name on the ballot with the box checked indicating their vote. Logic clearly fails in these cases because the “love affair” continues beyond reason.
It got worse when Yang later publicly announced his support for Joe Biden. I responded to the Facebook group’s post that announced the endorsement:
Mark Bertrand Excellent. Best thing he's done since dropping out. Very reasonable and sensible. Excellent!
I’m in agreement with Yang and five other once presidential candidates who have since suspended their candidacy and also endorsed Biden. The Democratic National Committee has, perhaps, learned that a policy of diversity that lost to both Bush and Trump is perhaps not a good policy. The DNC is now pushing hard to ratify a party to endorse a single candidate and early in the elite-media-frenzied-lustfest election year. I had a reply to my post, as follows:
Randolph Kramer Mark Bertrand hahahhahhahahhahahahahaha Reasonable Too funny And sensible The fuck you smoking besides bidens delusional dick
Wow, yes the reply is rude. I took a few minutes to consider the opportunity to address someone who is obviously not a supporter of Biden’s policy. This could also be someone who is at the emotional “love Yang, Hate all others.” So I wrote back:
Mark Bertrand Randolph Kramer first we have to get the orangutan kleptomaniac out of the white house. We can't do it with a two party Democrat ticket. We have to unite with one candidate. Then, you need to get your state to go blue. Then replace all state judges, all lower court judges get removed by voting in your local elections. BUT - First, remove the orange kleptomaniac! Then guys like Yang who support humanity first can have a chance.
The next reply back was the start of the Dharma lesson I got from Facebook.
Randolph Kramer Mark BertrandThe name calling and not listing specific issues and solutions by a any canidate, i will not be a party to Thanks for your insight
A Monk Ripe For Arhat
The last reply made me think and I recalled a lesson that I had learned from the Dhammapada. In my mid-twenties I first read the Dhammapada. For those who don’t know what Dhammapada is, think of it as the law for Buddhism. It consists of many stories that took place when the Buddha was alive. I recalled a story that was about a monk and the granddaughter of a prominent supporter of the Buddha. I’ll paraphrase the story here.
The prominent supporter had established a residence where the monks could come to find shelter in the rainy seasons, good food when they were hungry, healthcare when they were ill, etc. On this particular day the granddaughter was taking care of the monks while her grandmother was out taking care of the fields and the livestock. The young girl had served this particular monk his rice, and as she picked up the water pitcher to fill his cup saw her own reflection in the water. She laughed at her reflection. The monk noticing her laugh also looked in the litcher and laughed at his reflection also. The grand daughter said, “A cut head laughing.” The monk sprung to his feet and chastised the girl; “How do you criticise and mock a monk? Calling him a cuthead! Have you learned nothing from your mother?” The young girl ran to the kitchen crying. When her grandmother came in finding her granddaughter crying asked her why. The granddaughter told her the whole story.
The grandmother approached the monk and asked him why he would chastise the granddaughter. The monk said, “You know it is our tradition to shave our heads and to wear the robes of our traditions also cut short. Our rich heritage is followed strictly and with necessary discipline for all to benefit.” At that time, the Buddha was taking his seat at the table and had overheard the monk. Buddha said, “There is no place in the world for heedlessness.” The woman was grateful for the Dhamma lesson.
It was the name calling comment from the last post that made me remember the lesson. And I have to admit that I have a sarcastic wit. Many times I think it is fun to be sarcastic and to add in euphemism to make the sarcasm sting and a bit more funny. In this case I called Donald Trump an orangutan and also accused him of being a kleptomaniac. Truly heedless. A world of holy human beings does not have a place for name calling. It’s not at all funny, ever.
I’m now aged 62 years and still have so much to learn and master. Always, stay alert and watchful; lessons come from all directions.