I can hardly wait to get back to “My Father’s House.” I have ‘til 1986 to go.

Since my accident, the process is a little different. Sitting at my computer eventually becomes too painful for my back, so I have to choose one of two ways to relieve it. I can lie down on my love seat with my feet elevated. That works very well, but it’s hard to stay awake. Or I can walk – these days outside in the lovely weather we’ve been having, or indoors on the treadmill. I suspect that’s the healthier method. Either way, it takes time away from writing.

So, why tell you this? It’s my excuse for being so remiss at caring for my blog.

Today, though, there’s something quick I want to tell you. Sometimes when I’m on my back I stay awake enough to read something. Right now it’s “The Compassionate Instinct: The Scientific Roots of Human Goodness” by Dacher Keltner, Jason Marsh, and Jeremy Adam Smith. It’s a collection of articles from the “Greater Good” magazine – the kind of thing I need to read to stay alive in this age of anger, cruelty, and violence.

I’m reading it on my Kindle which creates a bit of a problem, because I still haven’t learned how to cite a quote. But I think it’s OK here to include one short one. In pointing out the other way to understand human beings, not as competitive fighters or fearful victims, but as cooperators as well, they describe the other option as “…not to fight or flee, but to approach and soothe.” Then they go on to provide supportive scientific evidence.

I wish my colleague and friend, Barbara McEwen, were still with us to see this development. I learned from her many years ago that survival depends just as much on cooperation as on winning the battle. A physiological psychologist, her major interest was in oxytocin, a major player in the more positive side of our personalities. Don’t worry, that’s as far as I’m going with this little lecture. Just a chance to remember her.

This plays into the observation of “mirror neurons” which lead us to experience other’s emotions. Last night I took note of my doing just that while watching the end of “Wheel of Fortune.” The winner had solved a tough final puzzle with minimal cues and ended up with a big win, a huge smile, and a happy family hugging him on stage. And I noticed myself. I was feeling and looking as happy as a clam.

That’s the kind of thing we’re capable of. Let’s not forget it in the midst of all the negativity, and the assumption that the best thing to do to protect ourselves is to kill the other guy. I hope there are occasions for each of us when someone else’s joy gives us a happy jolt.

By the way, and totally off the subject. I was reminded again recently in conversation with a friend, of two important rules of therapy: (1) avoid triangles; (2) Use no more words than necessary.

I don’t think I have a triangle in this posting, but maybe I’ve used more words than necessary. I don’t want to spend a lot of time editing, though. While I am still sitting in comfort, I want to get my father through the entry of the United States into WWI.


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  1. Explain triangles, please 🙂 LOVELY to have you back, Mona!

  2. I’m with you on getting outside while the weather is good. Summer is too short not to enjoy it.

    • In the summer, I try to remember what it looks like in winter, and in winter vice versa. For some reason it’s hard to do. But the key, of course, is to do as you suggest — really enjoy what we have when we have it.

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