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It’s About What You Believe

kind2I learned to love Kurt Vonnegut decades ago, based on reading only six of his earliest and most famous works. Much later, I tried to read Breakfast of Champions and couldn’t get through it. I never even tried his later novels. He’d changed. I’d changed. Or maybe, I’d just gotten from him the one message that I most needed to hear.

For all that I loved his cynicism and his humor, this one quote was it. The words have stuck with me through decades of living.

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” — God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965)

That’s right. All that wit and imagination of his, and this was my main take-away. I wouldn’t blame you if you thought that was disrespectful, although I think Mr. Vonnegut wouldn’t have minded a bit.

I’m attempting to summarize what I do believe in and it’s been an interesting exercise. Am I dying soon? Planing to run for public office? No, neither. I just really liked the movie “Wonder Woman” and it got me thinking.

What do I believe in so strongly that I want it to shape my behavior?

At this point, you might be concerned that too much of my personal philosophy comes from science fiction, but I’ll argue back. Stories of a speculative nature throw out a lot of societal constraints found in other frameworks, making it a fine realm in which to develop one’s code of ethics. It is absolutely where I have developed mine.

And I have the fictional Eliot Rosewater to thank for my most central belief. If I can’t be anything else, I want to be kind.

 

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2017 in being better, other authors

 

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Hugs and kisses?

From the bridal website Just Jen

From the bridal website Just Jen

No, the title of my first novel is notHugs and Kisses”, and the truth is that my story could probably use a few more of them. Rather, the title of this book has always been “One” and its plot has always been about the ways humans are alike. You know, at some level we all are one.  Somehow, that theme wasn’t as conducive to love stories, much less hot sex scenes, as the themes of my other novels. Hopefully a suspenseful plot makes up for the relative lack of kissing in this book.

So why isn’t it called “One”? Well, somewhere along the way I decided that “One” had been used too often for it to be my book title. One is a wonderful sounding children’s book about colors by Kathryn Otoshi. One is a metaphysical fable for adults by Richard Bach (remember Jonathan Livingston Seagull?)  1 is the exact number of people it takes to make a difference in a delightful 80 page treatise by Dan Zandra and Kobi Yamada. One is an exciting sounding new suspense thriller from J.A. Laraque. You get the idea.  And that’s not even thinking about books called “The One” which are another whole matter.

So in an attempt to be clever, I decided to call my first novel “x raised to the power of zero”. I’m a geek you see, married to a math teacher, and x raised to the power of zero is one. Isn’t that cute? What I wasn’t counting on was (a) an awful lot of people have no idea what x raised to the power of zero is and (b) you can almost never type a superscript anywhere that matters. This includes on my own blog, and anywhere at Amazon, Goodreads, and every other avenue for publicity that a beginning author can turn to. Out of necessity my book became x0 because I couldn’t get it to show up any other way.

Worse yet, at smashwords (the other main sales outlet for independent authors) it is required that the title start with a capital letter and include lower case letters, meaning that one cannot call a book either x0 or X0. Unless one contacts a smashwords rep directly and pleads, which of course, is just what I did.

So now family and friends call my book “ex oh” and strangers sometimes call it “hugs and kisses”. It gets confused with Ashley Whitaker’s book xo about a woman with Turner’s Syndrom and Aspergers and my searchers often find Jeffery Deaver’s thriller xo about a stalker instead.

You’d think I would have learned my lesson about giving a book a title with a superscript in it. But no, apparently not.  I went and called my second book “y raised to the power of one”.  Why? Because it equals y.  But that’s another story.  Please visit my other blog Fire Dancing for Fun and Profit to hear more.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in x0

 

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Understanding compassion

At the Mind and Life XXVI Conference-Mind, Brain and Matter: Critical Conversations Between Buddhist Thought and Science

At the Mind and Life XXVI Conference-Mind, Brain and Matter: Critical Conversations Between Buddhist Thought and Science (click to visit CCARE Facebook page)

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
–– His Holiness the Dalai Lama ––

My empathic hero of xo finds that the more she understands how others feel, the more compassionate she becomes. As a young woman, she hopes that someday her empathic gifts will be studied and understood every bit as well the physical sciences that she also loves.

I was surprised to discover today that Stanford University has a Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and they are trying to understanding empathy. According to their webpage they are ” striving to create a community of scholars and researchers, including neuroscientists, psychologists, educators and philosophical and contemplative thinkers around the study of compassion.” They also have a facebook page filled with fascinating links, photos and art.

As Lola makes the transition from empath to telepath, she is concerned about whether she will be able to maintain her concern and compassion for others with the barrage of suffering now coming at her.  She worries that maybe a true telepath can only survive by becoming cold and isolated.

handsImagine my surprise at finding a link on the CCARE website to an interesting article by C. Daryl Cameron called How to Increase your Compassion Bandwidth.  It comes from the University of California at Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and it deals with the exact issue of compassion overload, and the ways to cope with it in an age of electronic communication that sort of makes us all psudo telepaths. Also please note in the photo above the wonderful mixture of technology and humans striving for wisdom. I love to see how the two can indeed go hand in hand. 🙂

 
3 Comments

Posted by on January 21, 2013 in telepathy

 

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