“If the only prayer you say in your entire life is ‘thank you,’ that will be enough.” Meister Eckhart

Today I will try not to be selective in my gratitude. I will be thankful for it all. Whatever may be; whatever may come.

A Summer “No-Self” Reading List

One of the major themes in Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now is how we live driven by the “little me.”  Our actions, our thoughts, our feelings flow out of this one tap:  the ego tap.  And does it flow!   It keeps us stuck in patterns, it leads us blindly into mindless pursuit of meaningless pleasures, it strips us of our ability to relate to each other.  It plain old makes us miserable.

It’s a big undertaking to move to a maturity of spirit that allows us to put our ego in its rightful place.   Because once we do that–Wait!  There’s more!  We’ re still not done.   We may finally get to the stage where our ego is in our pocket, safely tucked about, to be pulled out to comfort us like a hankie, or played with like a set of keys.  But many spiritual traditions talk about emptying our pockets and moving into that realm of no-self.  In Buddhism, it’s called anatta, which recognizes the illusion of identification with the self.   In Christianity, the goal of no-self is union with God–breaking down the boundaries that separate us from God and merging into the Divine.

I think of an egg, as beautiful a solid as a solid can be, being cracked, broken, and then folded gently into the Oneness of God.

So, here are a few books that I’ve found to be helpful in understanding this a little more.   Maybe not light summer reading, but great reading nonetheless.

No Self, No Problem by Anam Thubten This book is very easy to read–twelve short chapters address such things as Meditation, Inner Contentment, Mindfulness, Acceptance, Transcendent Wisdom.  I noticed I have a few dog-eared pages with quotes I particularly liked:

Liberation is the cessation of all mistaken beliefs.  Mistaken beliefs become obsessions.  Obsessions are ego’s shameless effort and struggle to once again sustain its flimsy existence. Our thoughts are taking us for a ride without our permission We are hiding under this shell of ego, protecting ourselves from that divine rain.  We are afraid of that rain because it is going to destroy all of our illusions.  So we are hiding constantly under the shell of ego, trying to escape from the divine shower.  We are being blessed in each and every moment so we don’t have to do anything ultimately.  We don’t have to go anywhere.  All we have to do is come out o that shell called ego and let ourselves take a break.

 Stepping Out of Self-Deception:  The Buddha’s Liberating Teaching of No-Self by Rodney Smith I read this book about Insight Meditation earlier this year, carefully and with lot of highlights.  He talks very conceptually, and building these concepts (such as “Primary Intention” and “Secondary Intention”) takes a bit of time, but if you put in a short amount of time to grasp these concepts, you will be paid off in insight.  His writing style does make it hard to find a good sound-bite, but here are a couple of good ones:

Reality is not fixed, but instead changes depending upon the perceiver.  We actively configure reality by what we think about it; we see what we want to see and become what we want to become.

Intention through seeing the absolute necessity to change, which is born from insight.

Insight usually takes a long time to integrate its way into spontaneous action and starts out as something we saw, and therefore something we ‘should’ do.  But the energy of the insight cannot become integrated into the body through a ‘should’ because the insight is being arrested within a mental paradigm.  What integrates insight quickly into consciousness is deliberate action.

The Path to No-Self:  Life at the Center by Bernadette Roberts This book is a road map to the unitive state, in which the endgame goes beyond joining the self to the Source/God to a place where the self ceases to exist.   Once again, this is quite conceptual and dense reading, and in my mind it bears some similarities to St. Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle.    Bernadette Roberts takes us on her own journey on the mystical path she took, and despite the ineffability of this path, like St. Teresa, she is able to articulate the six unique phases to union with God in the progressive death to self. Her journal entry at the moment in which she felt her self as being gone–absorbed in the unity of God–tells what the feeling is like:

What has happened is more than a union of wills, more than silence and peace; it is the total union of the faculties wherein I am only capable of attending to the present moment.  No thought ahead or behind.  To keep in this state I seem to need only remind myself of what I am doing.  I say to myself: now I am driving, now I am shopping, now I am writing, etc.  My mind seems incapable of wandering.  To wander is fruitless and unnecessary, and to force the mind is a sin.  So as long as I lose myself in the present moment, all is well; but to think of the past or future is like kicking against the goad and causes unnecessary suffering.

I have long had one of Bernadette Roberts’ quotes on my bulletin board in my home office.  It says to me so assuredly that “all shall be well,” in Julian of Norwich’s words.  This quote is actually from a follow-up to The Path to No-Self, called The Experience of No-Self:

Until we go beyond our notions regarding the true nature of life, we will never realize how totally secure we really are, and how all the fighting for individual survival and self-security is a waste of energy

Beyond the Self: Teachings on the Middle Way by Thich Nhat Hanh  If you only have a long weekend at the shore and you don’t have time to get into Bernadette Roberts, read this little discourse by Thich Nhat Hanh. In it, he focuses on a couple of core Buddhist teachings like The Sutra of the Middle Way and Dependent Co-Arising,

Dependent Co-arising is sometimes called great emptiness (mahasunyata). The word ’emptiness’ means free from all notions, ideas, and attachments. You can’t’ say phenomena don’t exist, you can’t say they do exist, you can’t say they’re born or they die, you can’t’ say phenomena are the same, you can’t say they’re different; all phenomena lie in their nature of emptiness and cannot be grasped.

If we look carefully into the twelve links of Dependent Co-arising, we will see the teachings of emptiness. The Buddha said, whoever sees Dependent Co-arising sees the Buddha, and whoever has seen the Buddha has seen Dependent Co-arising. In our daily lives, we may ask, “Wo am I? What am I doing here? Where did I come from? Where will I go?” These are philosophical questions. The Buddha said the reason we ask such questions is that we are caught in the idea of self, in the idea of me and mine. If we can see Dependent Co-arising, we will not ask these questions anymore.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse  Great classic, great “long weekend” book, and great if you’re really in the mood for fiction, because profound spiritual truths are conveyed in the form of a story of the life of Siddhartha. I just re-read this recently and it was like good leftovers–much  more satisfying the second time around.

Think on These Things by Jiddu Krishnamurti  Back to some mind-bending ideas. Krisnamurti was well-known as a spiritual teacher and writer in the 20th century. He had a “conversion” experience in his youth which brought him to a place of mystical union. From that point on, it was difficult to see division in anything. He said the “truth is a pathless land.”  Here are some of the notes I have highlighted in this book:

The mind that dies every day to the memories of yesterday, to all the joys and sorrows of the past–such a mind is fresh, innocent, it has no age; and without that innocence, whether you are ten or sixty, you will not find God.

If your heart is full of love, then you never ask to be loved, you never put out your begging bowl for someone to fill it.

The man who is joyous, really happy, is not caught up in effort.

There is fear as long as you want to be secure.

There are a few more I could mention, like Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda, and Cutting through Spiritual Materialism by Chogyam Trungpa, but alas, I’ve run out of time for today!

Happy reading!

81 days for Peace, Justice, and the Environment

Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House is conducting a wonderful novena starting today: 81 days of intercessory prayer, reflection, and action for justice, peace, and creation.

I am a long-lapsed Catholic, and haven’t prayed a novena for decades, but this is a novena I am compelled to do, and I will be working it in with my daily prayer and meditation.

I really like how each novena is dedicated to inspirational social activist leaders and saints: the first being Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. I also love how there is an ecological “Caring for Creation Action Step” for each 9 day set: the first one is to pick up trash in a public place:

..often we think only of our selfishness and do not take the time or the care to do the right thing by Creation and reduce our impact on the planet by recycling. Examine your conscience! Do you sin against God’s Creation by your casual attitude towards waste?

OSHO: What moving into silence is like and why we avoid it

OSHOToday’s meditation: Today I practice stillness, moving within and listening to the sounds of life.

I am following a wonderful 21-day audio meditation by OSHO called Meditation for Busy People. I recommend it highly–it is provided by Mentors Channel. This is Day 15, but you can still listen to the last six days for free, and of course, continue to hear the next six.  Sign up here.

In today’s meditation, OSHO explores many themes related to outward silence and inward silence. Today’s meditation was particularly enlightening: it talks about

  • How fear keeps us engaged in busy-ness,
  • The one thing you need to do to learn how to meditate
  • What you will find if you are patient enough to work through the meditative process
  • How listening can be a bridge between the outer world and the inner world

The description of moving inward, and why we avoid it, is very similar to what all mystics and practiced meditators report–it starts out difficult, almost impossible. You resist, you become impatient, and if you accept the challenge you are accepting a confrontation with yourself. And so busy-ness becomes a diversion–an escape–from meeting yourself. If you’ve ever read  St. Teresa describes in the first and second mansions in Interior Castle, you would find that the 16th century Spanish saint and this 20th century Indian guru say exactly the same thing!

There are souls so infirm and so accustomed to busying themselves with outside affairs that nothing can be done for them, and it seems as though they are incapable of entering within themselves at all. St. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, translated and edited by E. Allison Peers

People are busy without business. People say they would like to rest but nobody wants to rest because if you rest really it automatically becomes a meditation, you start falling inwards. You start moving toward your inner center and fear grips. You become afraid.  OSHO

The set-up for the daily meditations are such that OSHO’s meditations are bookended by an introduction and a meditation exercise which is available as a pdf, and which in itself is very helpful. Today’s exercise was in “Listening Cheerfully”:

Even if you are listening to something that you have never thought of as worth listening to, listen to it very cheerfully – as if you are listening to a favorite melody –and suddenly you will see you have transformed the quality of it. It becomes beautiful.
And in that listening your ego will disappear. Whenever the body and the soul are really together, in any act, the ego disappears…and with this “listening, cheerfully” there is no distance left between the body and the soul.
So today, just stop and listen for a couple of minutes. Stand on that bridge between the outside world and the inner one. Listen to the symphony of life.

This morning I wished I had a camera

I wished I had my camera this morning. Spring was aborted in the Northeast by a winter encore performance. This event was very annoying, frankly.

I dragged out my boots and hats and mittens out from the landing spot for the “off-season” bins and left the house with Nessie for our 6:30am walk.

Standing on the bridge crossing the creek I wished I had my camera. It was that time after a snow storm when the sun first reveals the skyfall of snow, but hasn’t had time to dismantle it yet. The tree branches are outlined with white. Sounds are muffled. The grey creek lies still waiting for the ducks. My footprints and Nessie’s are the only disturbances in the snow.

And then I go and wish I had my camera. Yup, I still haven’t learned.

Silence is when you don’t need a camera. You let go of the disappointment that you can’t take the gussied up trees home. You let go of the desire to make what is impermanent permanent. There is no digital copy for this moment in time, and there can’t be. I’m slowly learning that.

I'm not cheating here--I took this picture last week! I needed SOME picture for the blog post, didn't I?

I’m not cheating here–I took this picture last week! I needed SOME picture for the blog post, didn’t I?

Silence is simply deep seeing the simple beauty of the snow; deep listening to it crackling on the branches, deep being, with no desire to shove the moment in my pocket with my camera.

It’s the wanting things to last that breaks the silence.




Silence in the Vertical World

Here is where 99% of us live 99% of the time.


This is the horizontal world, according to Rodney Smith in Stepping Out of Self-Deception: The Buddha’s Liberating Teaching of No-Self. This is a great book, by the way–one of my favorites.

Anyway, signs you are living in this horizontal world are:

  • You think about the past
  • You carry emotions from the past, like regret, pain, or nostalgia
  • You think about the future
  • You carry emotions about the future, like expectations, hopes, and fears
  • You frame your beliefs according to your experiences in the horizontal world
  • These beliefs, or concepts, are the “right” ones, because you’ve rationalized and compartmentalized them
  • To you, the present is simply the chronological spot between the past and future

Here, Rodney Smith says “you go on excursions through time.” Getting to work, checking to-do lists, checking bucket lists, reliving past accomplishments and embarrassments, conversing, spectating, jumping from distraction to distraction.

What else is there?

The vertical universe.


The vertical universe is more than a spot on a timeline… it’s like a doorway to timelessness, and that timelessness is huge. It’s the place where we don’t leave the horizontal world–we bring those suitcases with us, but we live fully in that “4th dimension” of space. I can’t really interpret it, but I have found that others do a pretty good job:

Rodney Smith:

The vertical perspective of the here and now is very different. Since the moment is not being squeezed between the rock of the past and the hard place of the future, it is open and expansive. In fact it is infinite and total, encompassing all rings including thoughts about past and future, because all thoughts are occurring here and now. So the vertical universe actually encompasses the horizontal universe. Nothing could possibly escape the moment or ever be outside it, so the vertical universe is always abiding and hover moves. Things move within it, but it never moves. Moment after moment we are taking birth in the vertical universe; the problem is we think we are in the horizontal. Occasionally we pause sufficiently to see the intersection of these dimensions and not merely think our way past them. It may be in a moment of wonder, mystery, beauty, or a moment too precious to deny. –From Stepping Out of Self-Deception, Shambala, 2010: pg. 27

Thich Nhat Hanh  speaks of it:

I have arrived. I am home. My destination is in each step.

The environmentalist Derrick Jensen enters that vertical space, I believe, when he talks to the trees:

 I’ve been stuck in my writing for several days. Each paragraph I write goes nowhere, and then nowhere again. I ask the trees for help and they give me words. Did they enter my mind, or did I enter theirs? I ask my muse for help, and these words come. Who is writing? Am I possessed? Are my fingers writing on their own? Is my mind  writing on its own? –From Dreams, Derrick Jensen, Seven Stories Press, 2011

Perhaps the vertical universe is inhabited by the Third Eye, that mystical place that goes beyond ordinary perception.

Perhaps it is experienced through what psychologist Abraham Maslow calls “Peak Experience.”

William James has spoken of the vertical universe

The whole drift of my education goes to persuade me that the world of our present consciousness is only one out of many worlds of consciousness that exist, and that those other worlds must contain experiences which have a meaning for our life also; and that although in the main their experiences and those of this world keep discrete, yet the two become continuous at certain points, and higher energies filter in.From The Philosophy of William James, New York: The Modern Library, pg. 232.

Perhaps St. Teresa of Avila introduces the way in to the vertical universe when she teaches her sisters:

For we ourselves are the castle: and it would be absurd to tell someone to enter a room when he was in it already! But you must understand that there are many ways of ‘being’ in a place. Many souls remain in the outer court of the castle, which is the place occupied by the guards; they are not interested in entering it, and hove no idea what there is in that wonderful place, or who dwells in it, or even how many rooms it has. You will have read certain books on prayer which advise the soul to enter within itself; and that is exactly what this  means. –From Interior Castle, translated and edit by E. Allison Peers, A Doubleday Image book, pg. 31.

The point is: many have spoken of this vertical universe, but because it is a still place, how can it be defined? It is bound to be, in a sense, an individual experience and in another sense, a completely universal one.







Pico Iyer Speaks on Stillness with Oprah today

Today at 11am EST, essayist and novelist Pico Iyer is on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. If you miss it,  you should be able to watch the full episode for a short period of time on her website.

This is a tie-in with his book and TED talk, The Art of Stillness.  I have not yet read the book, but if anyone else has, I’d love to hear comments.

My three free jalapeño pepper plants

A gift from my local garden center.

This is just a quick post to give Madeline of Maple Tree Farms a thank you for the three jalapeño plants she gave me.   No charge!  She said, “Ah, they’re just three plants.  Take them.”    I had just told her that they were going to replace three pepper plants that cutworm had destroyed in my garden.

There is a connection here to a few other things I would like to discuss in future posts having to do with the possibility of the growth of a gift economy.  Last month I read Sacred Economics by Charles Eistenstein, and The Man Who Quit Money by Mark Sundeen.

Very provocative reading, and it all ties in with Madeline and my jalapeño plants.  More to come.

Rethinking the Retirement Paradigm: Matt and Joan Get Weird

Picking up from the previous post,  Joan can do one thing to escape any future “golden handcuff” trap.  For that matter, Matt can do the same thing.

Matt and Joan can simply rethink living beyond their means, and instead, live far below them.

Why do we have to go toe-to-toe with others in our cultural and professional circles?  Why do we think we have to wear our promotions on our sleeves, over our heads, in our driveways?    The reason is not real surprising:  Humans are social beings who have a hard-wired need to belong.  We belong by blending in, wearing the “uniforms” of our tribes, making sure that our peers will not question our choices, and we can seamlessly fit by matching our possessions with the trappings of our peer group.

And let’s think about the expectations for the social hierarchy.  Typically those who are one step above us in our social circles are one step above us in material possessions.  You go to your boss’s house for dinner.  You expect him or her to have a nicer house than you do.   What if Matt’s boss, a vice president, invited Matt and his partner to dinner.  On the way, the two of them anticipate the McMansion, the Lexus in the driveway, the stainless steel and granite kitchen big enough to prepare meals for a city block.  Instead, what if they pulled off onto a dirt road and found his boss living in a one-room cabin?   What if the boss had one bathroom, not two and a half?  What if the boss had no microwave, and offered beverages, not out of a stainless steel built-in beauty, but out of a decades-old white Frigidaire?    Matt would be thoroughly confused.  After all, our possessions are important cues about our status and our relationship within the social structure.

What is the cost of Matt’s boss breaking this stereotype?    Probably not much.  He’s free to spend his money the way he sees fit.  As long as he doesn’t wear a hard hat and construction boots to an executive board meeting, no one will ding him for his living choices.  But his peers and his subordinates will gossip and question his choices to live far below his means, because to them, it would be weird.

Dave Ramsey raises “weird” to a badge of honor when he encourages his audience to live below their means for a greater purpose.   In doing so, he acknowledges the reality and the pull of the status symbol, as well as the difficulties of breaking the material ties that trap people in lives of debt and wage slavery–just so that they “fit in.”  But he also acknowledges the pay-off.

He tells people to “live like no one else now so that some day you can live like no one else.”  He is telling people that there may be a price to delayed gratification now–even a social price, but there will come a day when your peers will be like the albatross while you will be like a sparrow.   If you live beneath your means, you are a swan among ducks.

So, what is the paradigm shift for Joan and Matt?  What can they do to be able to be responsive to their lives, rather than encumbered by them?

Here are some broad strokes to bend the paradigm–and this is not a to-do list–it’ a to-think list:

  1. Master your desires.  One of my favorite books is The Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing–a couple who moved to Vermont, and then Maine to set up homesteading and build a new kind of community.  They built their own home, stone by stone.  They ate out of a wooden bowl and with a pair of chopsticks.  They worked 4 hours of “bread labor” a day and spent the rest of the day in leisure and community work.  I always assumed that they were just always happy with this simple life.  But in the book The Making of a Radical, Scott Nearing admits that he always grappled with his desire for more stuff.  But he never gave in–he simply tamed it.  Recognizing that having a desire for more doesn’t mean more will make your life better will help direct your life.  Lower the ceiling on “enough.”
  2. Live deliberately:  The myriad of distractions today keeps us in a tizzy.  It was bad enough just a decade ago, but now we have a new culture of social media and an online life  that splits our attention like light through a prism.  Work on mindfulness.  Learn to tame your mind.   Choose wisely where you direct your thoughts and actions.     What do YOU want?
  3. Redefine luxury.  Find beauty is subtraction, not addition.  Consider the hypothetical situation of the dinner at Matt’s bosses wooded cabin.  The paradigm in our mind dictates that this cabin is inferior–that the boss must be crazy, or maybe he got involved in an expensive divorce, or maybe this is his hunting cabin, but his real house is somewhere else.   But what if Matt’s boss lived here?   This is Innermost House, and it seethes with beauty.  It’s luxurious in simplicity; luxurious in peace; luxurious in balance and harmony.   It’s the kind of luxury that will set us free.

The less we own, and the less we are accountable for with our future, the less we’ll have to worry about retirement.    The less we own, the less we’ll have to spend our days in meaningless work now so that we can spend our days in meaningless activities later.

We do not content ourselves with the life we have in ourselves and in our own being; we desire to live an imaginary life in the minds of others, and for this purpose we endeavor to shine.  We labor unceasingly to adorn and preserve this imaginary existence and neglect the real. — Pascal

Instead of developing techniques for maximum profit, try to develop those that will give the maximum of freedom.  –Simone Weil

Simplicity of life, even the barest, is not misery but the very foundation of refinement. — William Morris

Be interested in the universe.  Do not cling to this world.  Do not want to possess anything.  Never think of your pension. — Okada Torajiro

Challenging the Retirement Paradigm Case Study 2: Joan, the elementary school principal

Blessed are those who enlighten the rest of us with their quest for quality--and get paid, too!

We need to consider that some people may not want to “retire” because they like their jobs.  As Confucius once said, if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life.   Many of this type of worker is a professional in a service industry, or they are lucky enough to earn a living off of their art or other passions.

I ran into Joan at a restaurant one Friday night.  I hadn’t seen her in several years, but I had actually helped to hire her decades ago as principal of the school that my kids went to.   We chatted and while we were catching up on family and life events, I was doing the math in my head and calculated that Joan was well past the point at which she might have collected her pension and retired from her lifelong career as an educator.

“So, Joan, are you thinking of retiring at all?”  I asked her.

“Well, I could, but my job is getting easier, so I figure, why retire?”

“It’s getting easier?”  I asked, surprised.  After all, a lot of educators I meet complain about the lack of support they get on every level, as well as the challenges of their students who often are distracted from learning by familial, social, and economic factors.

“Yes,” she continued.  “There are a lot more Asians in the neighborhood now, and they make my life easier.  The parents are supportive and involved and the children are motivated.  So, it makes my job easy.”

Joan is not going anywhere soon.  She may as well continue being of service in the community as long as she enjoys it.

Most of the early retirement how-to books I’ve seen are proponents of being completely financially independent so you can quit your job and travel and go wherever the wind blows you.  If you have a job that lacks meaning and you have no intention of seeking greener career pastures, working for financial independence with the goal of not working at all is a great goal.

But wouldn’t it be heaven to be able to accept the money you earn as kind of icing on the cake–not the pot at the end of the rainbow?  Who wants to chase that rainbow, anyway?   You totally miss the journey if you do.

Shortly after Steve Jobs died, I read his biography by Walter Isaacson.  One thing that struck me was Jobs’ ambivalence towards money.   In fact, this ambivalence manifested itself in some nasty fights with his Board of Directors at Apple.  While the Board of Directors and the stockholders a healthy profit as their “True North,” Jobs saw profit as secondary.   His True North was always Quality.

Steve Jobs relentlessly pursued Quality–in much the same way Ayn Rand spoke through architect Howard Roark in The Fountainhead, and the same way  in which Robert Pirsig maintained his motorcycle in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  In the meantime, he made money.  Lots of it.

If you are lucky enough to have gotten to the apex of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and are profiting from it, you are in company with Steve Jobs and Howard Roark.   But most of us need to earn money in more mundane ways while working on actualizing ourselves.  (By the way, for inspiration on that front, I highly recommend a visit or revisit to those two classic books I mentioned above.)


It’s also worth noting that even the shine of idealism that motivates people in the service professions tarnishes.  In the book Rethinking Retirement–How to Create the Life You Want Without Waiting to Retire, the author, financial planner Keith Weber, talks about one of his clients, a teacher:

I learned Jeff was covered by a state pension program that used the ‘Magic 75’ formula where he would qualify for full retirement benefits when his age and years of service combine to equal 75.  At age 57 with 17 years of service, he was just a few years away.  You can imagine my surprise then, when he responded to my question, ‘When would you like to retire?’ by saying ‘I want to leave at the end of this year.’

‘But why?’ I asked.  ‘You’re so close to being able to retire with full benefits.’

Without missing a beat he said, ‘Keith, I just don’t love the little bastards anymore.’

So, let’s look at someone like Joan–who has dedicated her life to worthy goal–getting thousands upon thousands of kids to learn and grow.  Let’s just say she is ten years from retirement, and her job hasn’t gotten easier–it’s gotten harder.    She’s burnt out.

There are two scenarios for her situation now.  Scenario 1: she has lived her life as if she was going to have to depend on her salary until she retired at a normal age, which means she lived like most.  She bought as much house as the bank was willing to lend, and she’s furnished it to keep up with her academic friends.  She finances her cars to get to work,  She loves to travel and on her few weeks off during the summer, she loves to go to exotic places, as justifiable sabbatical and mental stimulation.  She usually charges the trips and pays them off throughout the year.

But now she’s stuck.  She’s servicing debt, and while she’s hovering on the line of living within her means, she handcuffed to the salary she’s built up over the past twenty years.   She either has to find a way to work through the burnout (maybe with another expensive trip next summer), or she has to cling on miserably until she can figure out what else to do.

On the other hand…[to be continued]

Next Post–Joan’s alternate scenario