AN ALTERNATIVE PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE : A SPIRITUAL MESSAGE

AN ALTERNATIVE PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE : A SPIRITUAL MESSAGE

by Paul Schroeder

A spiritual message, in a time of need, illuminated a larger life path:
“The Spell of the Yukon”
               By Robert W. Service
“I wanted the gold, and I sought it;
   I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy—I fought it;
   I hurled my youth into a grave.
I wanted the gold, and I got it—
   Came out with a fortune last fall,—
Yet somehow life’s not what I thought it,
   And somehow the gold isn’t all…”
I rarely ever worked overtime, or sought spare part- time jobs to make more money, seeking blue skies above to doing work indoors, and I relished my poorer beer pockets without ever developing or resenting the absence of a richer champagne taste.
Those ambitious lads of my childhood who entered finance, medicine or law,  worked 24-7 towards a salaried lifestyle that flew them first class, overseas to luncheon meetings and purchased them mansions in the  glass sky towers of Manhattan.
Effete, they would confess,”Those who say that money can’t buy you everything, don’t know where to shop!”
I  became a college instructor teacher who received a meager pittance, but though  I relished my bankers’ hours’ 9 to 3  job, I deeply longed for the respite of work, each academic year, within a ten week vacation, over the summer.
During academic semesters I recklessly ate up all of my sick days and personal days, taking escapes in the sun at the beach, and landscaped land escapes in three and four day weekends, at mountain lakes’ sites to hike in virgin woods alone.
Others in Higher Education had instead garnered many days, ‘in their bank’, saved up jealously, to trade for cash, losing one day for every two saved, upon retirement.
To me, counter intuitively, non providentially, time away to think was worth more, as an escape valve,  than half of some obscure future money.
Work was onerous and exacting, and freedom was a hiking-in-the-woods- relief, from fluorescent overhead lights, and the grinding grading of incessant exams and papers.
For release,  the best part of my chosen vocation, I lectured and pontificated, teaching American and English Literature, in a large lecture hall,  chain-smoking unfiltered cigarettes, during class instructions, throughout, to self medicate.
I am presently retired, thirty-five years in teaching, and have a modest lovely home and property, and as for wanderlust, I  have long found that armchair travel is the cheapest kind of travel, content to read brochures, than take inoculations, to explore the world.
Money aversion- ennui got worse as I grew older.
 I soon preferred the sidelines of copious earnings, a spent man, seeking  to relax and to write.
Why was I, so different, to care little for “success”, measured in hard work towards riches?
I wasn’t remotely money excited,  as a child, dimly knowing on a subliminal level that God didn’t place us here, on Earth,  on a special mission,  to make money.
A spiritual message experience, I received, as a teenager, a homeless runaway at seventeen, running from a divorced household of violence and police- being -called -by- the -neighbors,
became a core influence for my slant on monied life, a purposeful one of just getting by, instead of working hard towards earning luxuries.
It was Christmas time in New York City and I was seventeen years old, homeless penniless,  and wandering.
I had exited  the Museum of Natural History on Central Park West, where I had feasted for hours, on museum eye -candy, but my stomach  had rumbled with hunger.
And now back on the street, I found that it had been and was now, snowing heavily.
I wondered worriedly where I would sleep, that night.
 A local movie manager,  a friend, Paul Gary, said that I could, when in Brooklyn, sleep in a little used old loft room in his movie theatre, the Loews Oriental, in Bath Beach, Brooklyn, in a dusty, haunted costume property room.
I was the inhabiting spirit.
The smell of freshly roasted chestnuts,  sold to passerbys from a kiosk wagon, near to the museum’s stone steps, in a blizzard of snow, wafted my way and roused me.
I had no money in my pockets; I salivated at the  sweet nutty perfume.
 Chestnuts were a seasonal treat I had  enjoyed, at this very museum’s site, when I had a bountiful existence within my cantankerous parents’ marriage’s deep pockets’ circle of influence.
I would ask my parents,  they’d  fish for loose change and I would relish the sweet flavor of fire roasted hot chestnuts, now a new symbol of want and the faded memory of childhood .
I was alone upon the streets of Manhattan, hungry and had no money.
The  snow covered shoulders and face of the man who stood behind the kiosk wagon, were wrapped in steam; he was small and dark, wearing mittens with holes for the fingers.
The snow fell heavily in sheets that made a city of asphalt shock look gentler.
I  came close enough to  inhale the dark aroma of roasted chestnuts,  a childhood memory token, an olfactory solace for my pangs of hunger.
 I  noticed that on one side of his kiosk wagon hung a large piece of grey cardboard with a blue magic marker message upon it, his philosophy of the moment, but on an unconscious level, one  for the rest of my adult life.
A raised consciousness was sparked.
It read:
“I really don’t like making money;
I don’t want to conquer the world,
and I don’t wish to ever be rich;
I don’t even want to set the world, on fire;
 I just want to keep my nuts warm.”
A spiritual message, in a time of need, illuminated a larger life path.
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IN THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES, CAMOUFLAGE PREVAILS

IN THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES, CAMOUFLAGE PREVAILS

 by Paul Schroeder

“Sex is not the answer.
Sex is the question.
The answer, is ‘YES’!”
(Woody Allen)

Since sex is less than five or ten percent of a marriage, those who marry just for sex, find imposing reasons later on in the relationship, to not confine sex, within the parameters of their marriage, but remain as faithful, as their options and opportunities.

 

After all, man DOES need woman for the artistry and complexity of friendship, for filial fun, cute socializing, profound partnering, and deep soul intimacy, but they may not ALL BE with the SAME woman.

Women wander sexually, as well, as statistics reveal, that every other wife strays to another’s arms, for love making.

 

I often thought that women had it better than men and that if I were a woman, without any love, I’d be down at the docks,  no underwear, waiting for the fleet to come in, with my skirt pulled over my head.

More and more women today, say aloud, that they “don’t need any man, anymore, even for sex, but that they DO need men , sometimes, but then, ONLY, to lift and move, heavy things around…

 

There surely HAS to be some more dignified way of expressing desire and passionate love for another human being, because the human body is a sad marvel, with its waste disposal plant, immediately adjoining its amusement park area.

Sex, is forever something that parents are loathe to discuss with their children; when I was a child of seven, they mentioned the fearful danger of sex, saying, “not to play around with sex, because it was,”playing with fire.”

At seven years old, I recall thinking,

“Well, I HAVE a hose…

But one who marries, just for sex, is buying a 747 jet, just for the little bag of peanuts.

Surely, there’s other ways to get peanuts, if that’s all that you really want.

Yes, men are more shallow than one would imagine, and will as soon marry for sumptuous breasts, than for love, an idea so repulsive and childish, that it takes much head shaking, to comprehend,  because spiritual
love is appreciating, sharing, empathy and giving, quite bereft of the pangs of lust.
Yet, for all men’s fascination with women’s breasts, should men themselves,  overweight  develop breasts, they  do chafe ingloriously, upset about those unmanly acquisitions.
                                                 

Men are more juvenile in primitive sexual drives and emotional makeup, and women are indeed, far better human beings, providential, sensitive, charitable, strong and beautiful.

This DNA primate difference can be demonstrated.

At a very young age, place a group of five-year-old girls, in a room together, and they will sit, talk and relate to each other with civil chatter, sharing, and often with surprising wisdom.
 But, place a group of five-year-old boys in a room together,  and soon they will roll all over the floor, like shaved gorillas, lost in individual and mutual combative power fantasies.

Our lingering social notion  that men are more important, more apt and more likely to be leaders, is still a hard social prejudice to quell.

Equality, in mutual passion, is easier to demonstrate:

When a cop on the beat encounters a young couple making love in the tall grass, in a park, he does NOT tap their shoes with his nightstick to angrily demand,

” All right, now, WHO’S in charge, here ?!”

Progress will turn HIStory, into HERstory.

 

Women remain naive and not the least bit aware of men’s glandular functioning concepts towards all women.

 

At a party or wedding,

men view a woman’s public, licentious exaggerated undulations in dance as her being naked,  and sexual fantasies unfurl

deep within men’s psyches.

 

Dance becomes sex in visualized fantasies of private encounters with these licentious, and actively lithe women on the dance floor.

For women,  few rarely grasp that their public dancing, is clearly nothing but public, overt, symbolic sex.

 

Perhaps this makeup makes it still a man’s world, because it’s much easier, in society, to BE a man:

Each solitary, individual feature on your face always stays its birth shade and original color.

 

Methinks, that If men wore makeup, most would be disconcertingly prettier than many women.

 

If a man chooses, he might, perhaps, consider a cosmetic shave, but ONLY to some parts of his face and neck.

You can always wear shorts despite how awful your legs do look.

 

Your last name, regardless of marital -legal battles, stays put.

 

People do not ever stare at your breasts and your nipples when you’re happily chatting with them.

 

You are genetically and socially blind to any but the biggest wrinkles in your clothing.

Calorie intake and belly size are never a crucial consideration.

 

You always have the consummate and total freedom of choice about the growing of a mustache.

 

You don’t have to remove all of your clothes just to pee.

 

You can wake up just as attractive as you were when you went to bed, rather than have your beauty somehow deteriorate, during the night.

 

You can more easily, socially, defend your space, with knee-jerk displays of violence.

Woman, as the pretty sex, is a relatively new idea:

 

Pirates who wore the perfumes, jewelry, silks and frills echoed this olden concept of male beauty; a classical nude in statue, was almost ALWAYS male, historically, in ancient Greece and Rome.
This classic maleness model of beauty oddly reversed itself in the eighteenth century and women became the “pretty sex”, instead.

Throughout the animal world, whether it flies or swims, the male is STILL the colorful sex, the female, the drab one.

 

But since the eighteenth century, sexual and cultural reversals have oddly persisted in human affairs, and women instead have become the pretty sex.

But “pretty” means, slim and skinny, as fashion dictates.

 

Today, women who carry a few extra pounds, live longer than the men, who mention it…

Straight men, do not adorn themselves towards being highly polished- exceptions exist for politicians, actors, sports-stars, head gangsters, and police detectives, for within these men, narcissism, a sinful sense of entitlement, and monumental ego all loom.

 

In those egomaniac ‘types’ , highly-polished, self-preening is always accompanied by bullying others.
But the question remains, for the sake of guile and deceit: how curried and airbrushed is too curried and airbrushed?
The first thing I look at, when I see a polished, curried woman, is her eyebrows; if they’re natural, it’s a blast of honest sexuality that curls my toes.
If they’ve been removed and severe Groucho-Klingon brows, of crayola, at odd sharp angles, or worse,  tattooed on, I experience an anxious ‘turn off’, a social warning of duplicity, and all of my ‘antenna’ are up, and waving..
Women with long lustrous hair have always been sought as mates, because hair grows slowly and vividly reflects one’s general health, so mating was preferred with shiny, long-haired lasses, who were lax with lasciviousness …
But the rub, is that many women who look like floss, patina and veneer, are mostly shallow types who a man has to pay, for an intelligent conversation, because
 they have long cared ONLY about their outsides, and not ever about, their ‘insides’.

‘Beauty’ television commercials and ‘beauty’ magazine ads feature graphics of highly curried women, extolling Western society’s virtues of vacuous, narcissistic women, who gaze back at us, made over into a man’s surreal vision of what ‘beauty’ should look like..

 

In Maine, at a lobster restaurant, I went to the register to pay and behind the counter, opening the register, was a tall, strikingly handsome, buxom woman, in a formal ballgown who sported a large handlebar mustache.

 

Her startling visage has stayed with me, for many years, resplendent and role indigestible..
It’s a cultural facade and mirage of the sadly discarded true value of beauty, which always comes from within.
 A man in our culture says,”You’re beautiful”, before he says, “I love you”, and thus a woman is wrongly taught , that if beauty fades, then love must also fade.
Poorly informed, desperately seeking love, she runs scared to the beauty parlor, nail salon, hair stylist, cosmetic facial and breast implant surgeons, willing to suffer to maintain an airbrushed, curried, artificial “beauty” , so that “love” will not also vanish.

Men perpetrate this hoax until they themselves believe it.

 

In truth, a woman is as sexy in bed as that woman was interesting, before bed, and interesting, after bed.

(“No man ever reached up a woman’s skirt, looking for her library card”)

Joan Rivers

 

But, for many non-self-respecting men, it’s all  just  about  a woman’s exterior patina, and veneer towards sex.

 

Men admit that they LOVE women who look hot and who act hot;  homespun, often unwilling women, by comparison, are like radiators, men have to keep touching, to see if the heat’s coming up.

Yes, men are more shallow than one would imagine, more vain than women and more duplicitous in satisfying their overwhelming hormonal drives.

Women thus feel that loss of beauty means loss of love, and then rush off to plastic surgeons, for tits and ass augmentation, nose jobs and liposuction, mascara and eyeliner alert, to avoid NOT being a love object..

REAL beauty emanates ONLY from within, something not taught in our culture, where women spend very much time on their outsides and little or no time spent, on their ‘insides’…

 

Women at an early age learn what dizzying effects their bodies have on men, and men’s sex drive,  and use THAT against them ; women culturally have been taught guile and deceit from a tender age, to ‘trap a man’, by using their physical, sexual allure:

 

They shave armpits,

 

shave legs and mustaches,

 

dye their hair,

 

use eye-liner,

 

mascara and false eyelashes,

face makeup,

 

(“Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy”)

 

 foundation-makeup,

 

earrings,

 

tints of rouge blush,

 

sport uplift brassieres,

 

apply perfumes,

 

apply lipstick,

go for Botox or plastic surgery to erase facial wrinkles,

 

 install Hershey-kiss silicone fake breasts,

 

wear high heels,

 

designer fingernails,

 

contact lenses,

 

  paint fingers and toes.
They put on things, to make them look bigger, and things that make them look smaller, but

then, they meet a man,

and  they want, …

“HONESTY!!”

Man, refuses to accept that makeup glamour fools the eye and deludes the heart, until he first awakens after the wedding, to see his bride without any makeup, and in shock thinks, “WHO is THAT?!”

Can such preoccupation with sexual camouflage avoid extra-marital diversion , and allow longevity and truthfulness towards a meaningful marriage?

 

Many couples who have lasted together forever, don’t have to work hard,  to get along  in marriage’.

 

When George Burns and Gracie Allen were asked how they remained so in love after sixty years, he said:

 

‘Marriage is a business.
When you work too hard to make the business of marriage work, you get tired, and when you’re tired , you get annoyed, and when you’re annoyed,  arguments start, and when arguments start…then, you’re OUT of business’ .

I remember once being stopped and asked at Disneyland by a graying and aged couple, to “photograph them”, for it was none other than their “fiftieth anniversary”.

 

I saw the way he held her hand and how they hugged and kissed as I struggled to find and frame the picture.

I wondered what wisdom and marital advice they might share, for too many, marriages end sadly in divorce.

 

These too many short-term marriages, for too many men, seemed to me,  just like a tornado:

 

in the beginning, there’s a lot of sucking and blowing , and later on … you lose the house.

 

Whatever happened to the romantic woman and to the romantic man who said that they could not live without each other?

 

He went East, and she went West… and they both lived.

My wife went over to speak with his wife to comment on how sweet they looked together, but when

I returned the camera as he made his way  over to me,  I asked him the $500,000 lulu question:

 

“What’s the secret to being married, so successfully, for so long?”

 

He looked confidential and wise and peeked to see if his wife was engaged in conversation before he spoke:

 

“You gotta cheat”, he whispered.

Men are like linoleum floors. Lay ’em right and you can walk all over them for thirty years. ~ Betsy Salkind

GRANDMA’S RUSSIAN ADVICE

Grandma’s Advice

by Paul Schroeder

Just before my grandmother on my mother’s side died at the age of 95, I whispered a kiss in her ear and thanked her for her wisdom.

One odd piece of advice, that she had taught me when I was a child, I had carried close to my inner ear, all of my life.

It had been an Independence Day warning, borne of a distant Russian wisdom, one that she had whispered to me four decades ago, when I was nine or ten years old, impressionable and the apple of her eye.

The imprecation that I got from her, the warning whispered in my small rapt ear when I was nine or ten years old had been an odd warning that ruled and guided my life, and through angst, had come to define a larger part of what I called my soul.

Her ‘Russian optimism’ for the world, was childhood overwhelming for me.
For her, life was always a cup of optimism, half filled ….. but, with something, that could  likely kill you.

Now, she at ninety-five was far from that woman who in giving advice could be ironic and poetical.

She had used lipstick as a rouge to color her cheeks and then decided that her whole face was of a pallor that also needed color, rubbed lipstick all over her face.

She was quite a shock when I got onto the seventh floor of the retirement home and turned the corner and saw her sitting in a wheelchair, as though apparently waiting for me.

 

She still had her sense of humor.

She earnestly asked with a childlike innocence if I could bring her some new makeup and some big diamond jewelry for her to wear to dress herself up, when I visited her next?

Cautiously, I had asked her, skeptically dubious ;”What type of diamond jewelry?” She had said;

“Expensive, fancy jewelry.”

She labored under the delusion that she was in a hotel in Miami, one that slouched in basic standards;

“The meals at this hotel are terrible, but what is a person to do?”

She did not ever surmise herself to be in a nursing home near the beach in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

A person’s senior mind can lend a type of psychic anesthesia that acts in many ways to protect it from uncompromising and painful truths. .

Now I was an odd adult.

I wanted her to know that I loved her, how her whisper had returned years later as my gratitude.

I had loved to cherish ideas; a rare few philosophers had touched my early soul .

Dr. Seuss had barely competed with grandma.

But, he  wrote : “Be who you are and say what you think, because those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind, don’t matter!”

 

But grandma didn’t recall her similar advice or the small pleasures and agonies of our past.

My other odd philosopher was sitting here in her wheelchair, armed and propped with a pillow/ alarm that would audibly alert nurses in the retirement home if she pitched forward and left her chair’s upright fixed position.

She was different the next time I saw her, the way she used to be ;

” Hello, Paul; sharp as a matzoh and twice as crummy!”

“How come you don’t call your grandma more often? Humph!!”

“Humph;You going to wait until I’m in the cemetery and THEN you’ll visit me?”

“I’m sorry, that you’ll be sorry, but THEN it’ll be too late!”

This was the same verbatim greeting that I had gotten from her over the years over the telephone .  I presumed that I was calloused to it all.

 

It always deeply riddled me with guilt but I never let her know, but instead I saw it rather as a good sign that she was still feeling feisty.

When she successfully aimed ring-toss-Velcro-guilt in my direction, I rationalized, she must be feeling much better.

I quickly tried to change the subject; ” Grandma I remember that boardwalk we can see here in Brighton Beach from a time when you were fifty years old and I was about nine years old and I still remember the good advice that you gave me, back then.”

“What advice did I give you?”

I told her.

It had stayed with me for many years as a token of her wisdom.

“You brought me to you on a bench on that boardwalk, in Coney Island, on a hot 4th of July afternoon, when the whole family was there suddenly hugging and kissing each other,

happy for once, to be all together and happy seeing the fireworks, and then you whispered it in my ear:

“Don’t get too close to people; you’ll catch their dreams,” You told me.

“What?”, she said, so I told her again;

“Don’t get too close to people; you’ll catch their dreams.”

 

“OH!”, she said,”I am VERY sorry, if I ever told you that!.”

“I AM very sorry.”

I reminded her, however, what an impact she’d had on me then.

“That whisper, as a recommended life philosophy, was both poetry and  true and that, your advice, really stayed deeply with me.”

 

Taken to heart, it had allowed me to remain aloof and separate from everyone, as a type of self protection,  to preserve my OWN dream.

 

“She looked at me as though I were some stranger in a dream.

I said it, again;

“Don’t get too close to people, you’ll catch their dreams.”

She was thoughtful and then looked worried.

 

She looked into my eyes.

“I never told you THAT.” …

 

“You shouldn’t get too close, because…”

“Germs”, she said.

” I said that you’ll catch their GERMS.”

“I told you and your sister MANY times;

“Don’t get too close to people, ’cause you’ll catch their GERMS.” she said, again.

 


“And YOU’RE supposed to be the smart one?!””Oh,” she groaned in pain.”
Take me over to the dining room; it’s still too early for the lunch, but I want to get there anyway, early.”

That wrong belief had overshadowed every relationship in my life with an ambivalence and a craving to just be left alone.

If one was alone, one was safe from what people could do to you, I had always reasoned.

But, I had been running away from my own shadow.

Two marriages and a dozen influenza later, I had realized her truth, too late.

SEX IN PUBLIC, OR SHALL WE DANCE?


Sex in Public Places is Fabulous or Shall We Dance, Instead?

by

Paul Schroeder

Sex in Public Places is Fabulous or Shall We Dance, Instead?
“Sex isn’t the answer; sex, is the question; the answer is, “YES!” (Woody Allen)
Mark Twain once said, “No sane person dances”.

Must one be crazy to dance,

publicly ?

I thought long and hard about that statement, approached it from different angles of thought and pondered it.

Orthodox Hasidic Jews, believe that wild dance, ensemble, is a way to approach sublime Divine attainment, most tribal and ancient.

Is it the case that

those who were deaf, could not hear the music and thus thought the dancers insane?
What makes a person gyrate sexually in front of strangers? I finally accept that dancing is publicly symbolic sex, with the exception of Lambada, which IS sex, most graphic in public.

Lap dances and belly dances enthrall men as consummate sex fantasies unfurled, and these reside deep within our psyches.

Men who routinely go to “topless” bars to watch naked women dance, harbor a wild and degrading fantasy, an addictive stimulant, that seems just as unwholesome as public sexual gyrations to music.

But sex, in public?!


Sometimes, watching people dance, at weddings and parties, in, you’ll forgive the expression, “ballrooms”, I can see the symbolic give and take sex act in dance.Waltzes and Tangos are elegantly choreographed and highly polished sexual moves in partner synchronicity and poised ‘give and take’.I do also think that alcohol loosens inhibitions on the dancefloor as well as in dating.

Why do you think that men are so very willing to buy ladies drinks?!

“On-stage dance takes from sexuality practices “off-stage” and imaginatively stylizes them and possibly reinforces or challenges these practices that include expressions of sexual identity and attraction, flirtatiousness, friendliness, exhibitionism, eroticism, and love-making.”

(Hanna, Journal of Sex Research / March-June, 2010 )

Would one who is a Buddhist and contemplative, dance or would he resist the impulse as unabashed sexy exhibitionism?

After all, what is,”sanity”, if “no sane man dances”?

Drinking alcohol during a “cocktail hour”, before public dancing at such affairs may assist the temporary insanity inherent to very public sexual gyrations called dance.

Sexual unabashed exhibitionism?

I can often resist the impulse to publicly gyrate, or to circle dance or line dance amidst a large group of people by recalling Twain’s sentence.

But, if dance is truly symbolic sex, the horizontal mambo, then group dancing brings to mind another quote:

“Sex between two people can be a wonderful thing, among ten people, it’s just fabulous!”

To me, having unabashed multiple polygamous sexual partners is demonstrated by line dancing.

Dancing in public, however symbolically obscene in its blatant sexual gyrations, is not likely to expose one to HIV or STDs.

For one like me who will not dance, I wonder about the biological absurdity of dance and of sex.

There has to be a more dignified way of expressing your deep love and affection for another human being;

the human body is a odd marvel in that it has its waste disposal plant immediately next to its amusement park.

I and Twain, shall instead, sit this one out.

MILITARY COMBAT MEMORY OF MY FATHER


COMBAT AND MILITARY MEMORY OF MY FATHER : I COULD HAVE TOLD HIM THAT I LOVED HIM

Paul Schroeder

Combat and Military Memory of my Father: I Could Have Told Him That I Loved Him
by Paul Schroeder
My father parachuted into Germany and was captured that same week; he and his Screaming Eagles company buddies were holed up in a farmhouse armed with machine guns when a Tiger Tank rolled up to it and put its muzzle into a window and fired.
He recalled his ferocious gnawing hunger and told me that at the prisoner of war camp at night, when he slept, mice would creep into his buttoned shirt vest pocket to steal the few crumbs of bread he had hidden there before he could awaken and slap his pocket.
He weighed eighty-eight pounds when he was liberated.
At another time, on a work detail outside and beyond the barbed wire fence, he saw a skeletal group of Jews, literally walking skeletons, and in abject pity he threw a piece of his bread over a fence to them, which they all frantically scrambled for.
The supervising German sergeant of those doomed Jews saw him do this and walked over to him and put a Luger into my father’s mouth and pulled the trigger.
The gun misfired.
Twice.
His mind and lifelong emotional mental state were never the same after that incident, and for the rest of his life he remained tortured, an unhappy and mostly unpleasant man.
He would, many years later, angrily retrieve moldy bread and brown wilted lettuce from the trash, raging about ,’wasted food’, and we all learned that for our peace of mind, food garbage had to be thrown into the incinerator, long before he came home, from work.
He told me that he witnessed the killings of women who had assisted anti-Nazi resistance fighters, women who were hung from piano wires in a slow strangulation that delighted and entertained the German Waffen S.S.
But he seemed calm telling me that it took some over an hour to die, in this fashion, from this form of German murder, for the the slimmest, most lightweight women who were hanged, struggled longer against their nooses.
The prisoner of war camp’s confinement had chafed his soul.
Even long after the war he could escape the inglorious restraints and confinements of marriage and work , by seeking the open ocean to fish for striped bass and bluefish.
He loved fishing more than anything or anyone, in his life, and ached for fishing, to be free and alone on a landscape of waves, with only gulls for company.
He spent all of his spare time, nights and weekends, alone on the open Atlantic ocean, a peaceful landscape of land escape, far from dangerous and murderous distant coastlines.
When he thought that I was old enough to be of assistance to him, he brought me into his escapist world of fishing solitude, and far out on the waters of the Atlantic, far from any constricting shore, told me his memories, of a horrific war. .
When I was young, eight, nine and ten years of age, my father woke me every Friday night at 2:00 A.M. and by three fifteen A.M. we were out in the waters of Long Island, in his boat, fishing for striped bass and bluefish until the sun came up and fish stopped feeding and taking lures.
We watched the gulls; wherever they were raucous and feeding, we caught many large fish, as schools were underneath, forcing the bait to the surface, which attracted the birds. It was a foolproof technique.
After the sun came up, we sat and jigged the bottom for fluke and flounders, languid bottom feeders, while we sat under the shade of the Marine Parkway Bridge.
Bereft of the engine’s roar and the slap of the waves against a speeding hull, we sat, and he would speak to me of the horrors he had seen.
Every weekend of my youth was spent this way, catching large fish.
I was agog and seasick for days afterwards.
The pitched sickness of the waves, the sharp sour stink of fish, the stench of gasoline from the engine, the foul pungent odor of the, ‘piss-can’ and his poignant recollections of the horrors that he had seen during the war, combined to make me deathly ill, each time that we fished together..
I envisioned deep trenches in the furrows of the waves, filled with sobbing, and doomed families of Jews, as German Waffen S.S. driven bulldozers, pushed tons of soil atop them, to bury them, alive.
Once, after listening to such tales, told to me in his low, monotone voice, I eventually noticed that each time I netted and landed a fish into the boat, the water would swirl and splash a few seconds afterwards, and I asked my father the cause of this bizarre occurrence.
He blithely told me, casting a lure from the boat, that the fish’s mate would break the water, seeking his lost mate, following after, in a futile search.
In that moment, with the boat at my feet filled with flopping fish, jaws gaping in airy suffocation, the horrors in his stories resurfaced:
dead children in the streets, who resembled dolls, their jaws and eyes open,
skeletal Jews with pleading eyes,
children murdered before their parents’ eyes,
of a Waffen S.S. who used his machine pistol to separate a close knit family, and of their wails of separation, which years later, would ring in my father’s head.
I suddenly realized, in horror, that each swirl and splash of water, after I had pulled one fish into the boat, was a mate and thus a broken heart, that fish were individuals, with feelings, and not just mere products!
The horror of fish, dead and dying at my feet, of loved ones’ final, forceful separation, in a frozen moment, broke my young heart, and I found and resolved, that I could no longer bear to catch, or to ever again, eat fish.
Recalling these memories is not a freeing and therapeutic catharsis, instead I feel a sad nostalgia, a morbid whimsy .
As a writer, it is difficult to capture the strained, forced familiarity of families’ troubled interactions, governed by fruits of traumas, into words.
I have carefully locked the vault door against the worst recollections, the horrors of living with him; he had absorbed the repeated brutality of his experiences.
Throughout life, he radiated the same heavy-handed violence to those all around him, using fists, where a word, instead, might suffice.
Those recollections, if unlocked behind my mind’s protective vault doors, would make these experiences, herein, pale, by comparison.
When I can hazard to open those vault doors, doors made of three feet of steel, therapeutic and freeing might then ensue.
Debriefing combat troops, is still nonexistent; one arrives fresh from combat to San Diego Airport or Kennedy International Airport.
The injuries that our most recent troops have sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan, unseen and unmeasured injuries, are deep and painful scars on their souls; many, after drug and alcohol addiction fails to assuage their grief, take their own lives, in suicides suffering from combat angst beyond words.
I recall General Patton coming under criticism for slapping the face of and calling a coward, a young soldier, in a field hospital, who was trembling, with severe shell shock.
Even the military fails to understand what happens to America’s young men who have been taught all of their lives,”Thou shalt not kill”, after they are trained to be killing machines and then aptly fill the job description for a tour of duty.
Americans must unite to reluctantly resolve to fight a broader world war with ISIS, for though America does NOT want war, WAR wants America.
America, is NOT at war, for America is busy shopping in malls; our military, however, IS at war.
Their souls are forever tainted, degraded and crippled by official legal murders.
How is one to understand?
Rather than wrongly judging that my father wallowed in these memories, he instead was surely drowning, within a deeper struggle, far removed from self pity.
Though he never once told me, within the recollections of the circle of my life, that he loved me, I found that I instead should have told him then, and often, that I loved him .
EPILOGUE:
Just before he died, at eighty-four, after a lifetime of no contact with him, I visited him at the Saint Albans Veterans Hospital Facility.
How I learned that he was there, is a paranormal story beyond belief, but one reserved for another time.
Even after a stroke and a heart attack, confined to a wheelchair, his bristling aggression and smoldering anger had still radiated.
He had angrily cursed God, when I did mention God, to him; he had repeatedly cursed God, saying that there was no God and as proof, offered me what he had seen, of the long ago mass murders of Jewish infants and children, by Ukrainians and Nazi Waffen S.S. troops.
He had repeated that because of raw evil allowed to run rampant, he was thus an atheist, one who didn’t believe a single word about God and then, he had openly cursed God, again.
I had chided him by saying that although God WAS all loving, that even God, might get annoyed, to be cursed so.
Slowly, I had realized an element of rescue,  a spiritual coup de’ grace; I had been driven by unseen forces, after twenty-five years of no contact,  to bring along to his bedside, a spiritual message to deliver to him.
I said that he was wrong; that the proof of God only seemed so invisible because it was too merged within our consciousness and within everything all around us, to be too easily detected.
I had told him that I had, over years of learning, away from him, become psychic enough to glean more:
that we are NOT people, having spiritual/ paranormal experiences, but are  undying spirits, within a DNA nanotech-contrived housing, instead, having human experiences.
That we ‘step out of’ our bodies at death, as we do our cars and our clothing, in physical life.
And we are no more our bodies, I had said, than we are our clothing, or our vehicles.
I had assured him that I had learned that our consciousness actually reincarnated often, to learn spiritual lessons, that God gives us many lifetimes to refine our souls and to learn lessons that we set out for ourselves.
With some pride, I had reminded him that his lifetime’s recollections of horrid war experiences, revealed a braver and nobler inner spirit, than most, to have chosen such harsh and horrid lessons.
He quietly listened, with no vague inkling of acceptance.
A week later, preparing to visit him, again, I got a phone call from the hospital that he had passed in the night from a second and final heart attack.
Some months later, while I was playing my bass guitar, (playing music, much like sleep, or hypnotic television watching seems to suppress my left brain’s blocking aspect, and paranormal experiences occur) in my living room, his face suddenly loomed into my mind’s eye and I suddenly felt his closeness.
Instead of an accompanying sad heaviness, his energy radiated a youthful joyous presence.
Stunned, I psychically acknowledged him, with love, but also with great worry; I cautiously admonished him for hazarding to linger so on this plane, and asked him to quickly jump into the Light.
His accompanying joy, a mixture of freedom from worry, from bedworn immobility, from war-time sadness, with an element of love and thanks, thrilled me.
Perhaps, I had I had been sought to deliver that message, to him, in much needed time.

GRANDMA’S ADVICE

Grandma’s Advice

Paul Schroeder

Just before my grandmother on my mother’s side died at the age of 95, I whispered a kiss in her ear and thanked her for her wisdom.

One odd piece of advice, that she had taught me when I was a child, I had carried close to my inner ear, all of my life.

It had been an Independence Day warning, borne of a distant Russian wisdom, one that she had whispered to me four decades ago, when I was nine or ten years old, impressionable and the apple of her eye.

The imprecation that I got from her, the warning whispered in my small rapt ear when I was nine or ten years old had been an odd warning that ruled and guided my life, and through angst, had come to define a larger part of what I called my soul.

 

Her ‘Russian optimism’ for the world, was childhood overwhelming for me.
For her, life was always a cup, half full …..but, of something, that might  kill you.

Now, She at ninety-five was far from that woman who in giving advice could be ironic and poetical.

She had used lipstick as a rouge to color her cheeks and then decided that her whole face was of a pallor that also needed color, rubbed lipstick all over her face.

She was quite a shock when I got onto the seventh floor of the retirement home and turned the corner and saw her sitting in a wheelchair, as though apparently waiting for me.

She earnestly asked with a childlike innocence if I could bring her some new makeup and some big diamond jewelry for her to wear to dress herself up, when I visited her next?

Cautiously, I had asked her, skeptically dubious ;”What type of diamond jewelry?” She had said;

“Expensive, fancy jewelry.”

She labored under the delusion that she was in a hotel in Miami, one that slouched in basic standards;

“The meals at this hotel are terrible, but what is a person to do?”

She did not ever surmise herself to be in a nursing home near the beach in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

A person’s senior mind can lend a type of psychic anesthesia that acts in many ways to protect it from uncompromising and painful truths. .

Now I was an odd adult.

I wanted her to know that I loved her, how her whisper had returned years later as my gratitude.

I had loved to cherish ideas; a rare few philosophers had touched my early soul .

Dr. Seuss competed with grandma.

He once wrote ;”Be who you are and say what you think, because those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind, don’t matter!”

My other odd philosopher was sitting here in her wheelchair, armed and propped with a pillow/ alarm that would audibly alert nurses in the retirement home if she pitched forward and left her chair’s upright fixed position.

She was different the next time I saw her, the way she used to be ;

” Hello, Paul; sharp as a matzoh and twice as crummy!”

“How come you don’t call your grandma more often? Humph!!”

“Humph;You going to wait until I’m in the cemetery and THEN you’ll visit me?”

“I’m sorry, that you’ll be sorry, but THEN it’ll be too late!”

This was the same verbatim greeting that I had gotten from her over the years over the telephone .  I presumed that I was calloused to it all.

It always deeply riddled me with guilt but I never let her know, but instead I saw it rather as a good sign that she was still feeling feisty.

When she successfully aimed ring-toss-Velcro-guilt in my direction, I rationalized, she must be feeling much better.

I quickly tried to change the subject; ” Grandma I remember that boardwalk we can see here in Brighton Beach from a time when you were fifty years old and I was about nine years old; I still remember the good advice that you gave me back then.”

“What advice did I give you?”

I told her.

It had stayed with me for many years as a token of her wisdom.

“You brought me to you on a bench on that boardwalk, in Coney Island, on a hot 4th of July afternoon, when the whole family was there suddenly hugging and kissing each other, happy for once, to be all together and happy seeing the fireworks, and then you whispered it in my ear:

“Don’t get too close to people; you’ll catch their dreams,” You told me.

“What?”, she said, so I told her again;

“Don’t get too close to people; you’ll catch their dreams.”

“Oy!”, she said,”I am VERY sorry, if I ever told you that.”

“I am very sorry.”

I reminded her what an impact she’d had on me then.

“That whisper, as a recommended life philosophy, was both poetry and  true and that, your advice, really stayed deeply with me.”


Taken to heart, it had allowed me to remain aloof and separate from everyone, as a type of self protection,  to preserve my OWN dream.”She looked at me as though I were some stranger in a dream.I said it, again;”Don’t get too close to people, you’ll catch their dreams.”

She was thoughtful and then looked worried.

She looked into my eyes.

“I never told you that.” …

“You shouldn’t get too close, because…”

“Germs”, she said.

“Oy, I said that you’ll catch their GERMS.”

“I told you and your sister MANY times;

“Don’t get too close to people, ’cause you’ll catch their GERMS.” she said, again.

“That advice, I ALWAYS told you.”

“And YOU’RE supposed to be the smart one?!”

“Oy,” she groaned in pain.

” Take me over to the dining room; it’s still too early for the lunch, but I want to get there anyway, early.”

That wrong belief had overshadowed every relationship in my life with an ambivalence and a craving to just be left alone.

If one was alone, one was safe from what people could do to you, I had always reasoned.

But, I had been running from my own shadow..

Two marriages and a dozen influenzae later, I had realized her truth too late.

IF I DIDN’T HAVE BAD LUCK, I’D HAVE NO LUCK, AT ALL

“IF I DIDN’T HAVE BAD LUCK, I WOULDN’T HAVE NO LUCK AT ALL”

By Paul Schroeder

(Author’s note:  the title is  from a Rodney Dangerfield routine..)
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You have certainly heard it said, that in our lives’ destinies, “All IS WRITTEN”? 
According to  reputable and gifted psychics, our lives are carefully planned by our spirits, beforehand, that we assemble spirit helpers and spirit guides, in Heaven,  to accompany us, long  before we jump into another womb’s prenatal body,  for yet another lifetime.
Life,  they assure us, is a series of pre-programmed events staged with proscribed boons and travails, specifically designed to grow us spiritually closer towards God, a God who gives us myriad  incarnations, to hone and perfect us.
Earth is our ‘school’.
Even a ‘deja vu’, a moment haunting in its odd feeling, that we’ve ‘ been ‘there’, before’,   psychics say, is precisely such a specially pre-inserted moment, in our blueprint,  a small  odd- feeling- ‘bump’, in time, designed to remind us, unconsciously, that we are assessed perfectly aligned, with our  pre-planned spiritual lessons, in that moment.
How, then, is one to understand spates of bad luck, that stubbornly seem to follow one throughout?
For some of us, and that includes me, day after day, week after week, awful little and large things happen in  doses that nag at us, and seem to resist  greater meaning.
The title’s male comedian, once complained:
“I have the worst luck all of the time; I have no luck at all.
If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all!”:
I miss buses and oversleep appointments lose my wallet and keys, stub my toes,  step in dog poo and bang my head underneath cabinets.
“Just yesterday, I woke up, got dressed, and a button fell off; I  reached for a closet door and the knob came off!
I grabbed my suitcase, and the handle came off;…
I was afraid,… to go to the bathroom!…”
If  it’s true, that “all is written”, how does one explain annoying and troubling
‘nothing is going right’ periods, that persist?
Many gifted psychics, privately affirm that since  ,’all IS written’, awful bad luck events happen, by no  accidents; aligned with spirit, bad luck, in a continuous line, is commonly backstage- orchestrated.

Large and small bad luck occurrences will happen everywhere, all at once, in one’s life, as a spiritual “sign”, an alert that one is sadly far from one’s prearranged spiritual path.
When one has strayed too far away from one’s Heavenly, towards God,  pre-planned ‘blueprint’, self delineated in intricate fashion,  bad luck will stubbornly continue to manifest.
Then, It’s no coincidence that you lost your wallet, spilled the coffee on the computer keyboard, stepped on the cat, had a bathroom pipe leak down onto the kitchen ceiling, got a flat tire and missed the train and that was only Tuesday!
“Nothing is going right!”, life malfunctions, reveal that something else LARGER at stake, down a long hallway, and somewhere else behind our ‘curtains’, is ALSO not right.

Bad luck in series, is the tyrannical effort of Heaven, specifically,
our spirit guides and spirit helpers, who are more than  just trying to get our attention.
I can actually, at this point hear the known cynics and pernicious doubters yet again exclaim,”Your thesis, to me, personally, is just nonsense!”
What about those people who have one good luck event, after another good luck event follow them?
When one is on one’s correct preplanned blueprint’s spiritual path, ‘everything just seems to go right’?
Yes.
If we are progressing correctly, according to “plan”, then all of the little confluences and connections in our life begin to seem to work, and series of fortuitous coincidences occur like perfect magic:
We catch the bus, right on time, we meet that person we were hoping to see, we gain hope and guidance automatically, from kind strangers,  we find that misplaced thing we searched for, garner the needed finances that we sought ;
wonderful coincidences gather like flies at our mustaches.
Only when one is much too far from one’s self-set goals, does all Hell seem to break loose, everywhere and all at once, repeatedly.


Chronic and persistent ‘bad luck’ isn’t the ‘disease’ itself, but is instead an emergent ‘symptom’, of a disease.
But, can it be all that simple?
After learning this, minor constant misfortunes that never seem to end, rather than blindly depress you, will enlighten and cheer you, because it confirms that our path, is indeed a pre-planned path, and that, “Yes, Virginia, there really IS a Santa Claus,”
on ‘stage’, and ‘behind our curtains’.
Consistent negative synchronicities, are messages and bad luck events, now alert us that we are NOT up on our spiritual ‘toes’.
Ask oneself:
Am I being helpful to others or self-consumed and impish?
Am I forgiving, or nurturing grudges?
Am I consoling someone who needs consoling or am I, not wanting to ‘engage’,  avoiding them?
Am I offering charity to someone in need, or cautiously sidestepping involvement?
Am I being supportive or judgmental?
Am I being loving or impatient?
The cessation of bad luck troubles, relies and depends on one’s spiritual shift- of -perspective, a recognition that will appeal to your spirit helpers and spirit guides.
Be calm.
Listen to something emotionally releasing, like taped wholesome standup comedy; laughing can reset brain chemical imbalances from angst and is a wholesome therapy, instrumental in stopping deepening fugue, about persistent bad luck events..
Large doses of laughter can jump start and stir the cheer of one’s lagging soul .

Essentially, one must recognize those backstage  spiritual influences; a prayer for guidance and enlightenment is now tantamount.
Pray, IN THANKS to your spirit helpers and angels, who do a mostly thankless job, most often, and then, ask them for spiritual assistance.
Prayer, to be put back on the ‘right path’  will suffice, and  then all at once, as though in answer, the confluent series of ‘ bad luck’ events will suddenly abate.
Then, be sure to react with love to the situations that next present themselves, to you.
“Why me?!” is always the wrong question.
“Why NOW?” is more apt.
Bad luck in a series of repeated events means that
we have missed the inner signposts of mercy and patience and forgiveness and are indeed far from our set spiritual goals at that moment in time.
Series of bad luck incidents in our lives are NO accidents .
“All is written” may sound facile and glib, but one’s spirit helpers can and will reach from behind the curtains of Heaven and appear almost tyrannical, as they attempt to fast turn one into another direction, like adjusting a human skillet frying pan by grabbing one roughly, by the handle…..
For we are not humans having spiritual experiences, but spirits, having human experiences.
Prayer, with feelings only of gratitude, strongly helps to bring a message for the cessation of travails, until one’s head is re-screwed on, properly, to extend love, in all endeavors, to others..
I think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird and not enough the bad luck of the early worm
*******