Thursday, September 21, 2017

Steve Gregoire’s Passing

It’s been a sad day for Herman and myself.  Today we mourn the loss of our dearest friend Steven Gregoire, one of the kindest, most likable guys we will ever know. They say you’ll be fortunate to have five true friends throughout your lifetime. Steve was one of mine. He and Herman were lovers for twenty-one years, and then he became our closest friend for the next twenty-three years. We’ll miss you terribly, Steve.
From left to right, Steven, Herman, Alan

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Belated B-day Dinner Get-together at Michelin Star Eatery

A festive B-day dinner at a one Michelin Star restaurant...absolutely well earned. Lovely food, lovely wine, lovely friends to share the moment.
Terrapin Creek Restaurant.

The line up of good friends looks like a motley crew

Salad of Charred Octopus and Roasted Cauliflower

HAMACHI Crudo - lovely raw fish

Local Miyagi Oysters
Liberty Farms Duck Breast - black forbidden rice, cabbage, English peas carrots, duck jus

Thank you Malcolm and Pic for this delicious wine.

A belated BD celebration for Herman with extra deserts from chef owner Andrew Tran. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Our Third and Final Wedding of the Year

This is the third, and final wedding we are attending this year. We drove up from Palm Springs into Livermore for the wedding, and we were in such a rush to get on the road, we forgot to pack the hanging bag with our suits into the car. So we ended up going to the wedding in SoCal Casual attire. Luckily, we were not the only casually dressed men, although all the others were forty years younger than us.

Meghann and Kevin make a wonderful couple. She is sweet and caring, he is funny and charming. It was a beautiful ceremony, and Meghann couldn’t have been lovelier. The ceremony was performed in a chapel, but the dinner and dancing afterward were outdoors.

 The happy newlyweds

 Herman and I with Meghann.

The newlyweds and Herman’s parents, the longest married couple on the dance floor. They'll celebrate their 70th anniversary next year. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Spiritual Transformation According to Tolstoy

The three life-conceptions are these: The first—the personal, or animal; second—the social, or the pagan; and third—the universal, or the divine.

1) According to the first life-conception, man’s life is contained in nothing but his personality; the aim of his life is the gratification of the will of this personality. 

The savage recognizes life only in himself, in his personal desires. The good of his life is centered in himself alone.  The highest good for him is the greatest gratification of his lust. The prime mover of his life is his personal enjoyment. His religion consists in appeasing the divinity in his favor. And in the worship of imaginary personalities of gods, who live only for personal ends.

2) According to the second life-conception, man’s life is not contained in his personality alone, but in the aggregate and sequence of personalities,--in the tribe, the family, the race, the state; the aim of life consists in the gratification of the will of this aggregate of personalities. 

A pagan, a social man, no longer recognizes life in himself alone, but in the aggregate of personalities,--in the tribe, the family, the race, the state,--and sacrifices his personal good for these aggregates. The prime mover of his life is glory. His religion consists in the glorification of the heads of unions—of eponyms, ancestors, kings, and in the worship of gods, the exclusive protectors of his family, his race, his nation, his state.

3) According to the third life-conception, man’s life is contained neither in his personality, nor in the aggregate and sequence of personalities, but in the beginning and source of life, in God.

The man with the divine life-conception no longer recognizes life to consist in his personality, or in the aggregate of personalities (in the family, the race, the people, the country, or the state), but in the source of the everlasting, immortal life, in God; and to do God’s will he sacrifices his personal and domestic and social good. The prime mover of his religion is love. And his religion is the worship in deed and in truth of the beginning of everything, of God.

These three life-conceptions serve as the foundation of all past and present religions.

The whole historical life of humanity is nothing but a gradual transition from the personal, the animal life-conception, to the social, and from the social to the divine. 

The history of the ancient nations, which lasted for thousands of years and which came to a conclusion with the history of Rome, is the history of the substitution of social and the political life-conception for the animal, the personal. 

The whole history since the time of imperial Rome and the appearance of Christianity has been the history of the substitution of the divine life-conception for the political, and we are passing through it even now.

Christ’s teaching differs from pervious teaching in that it guides men, not by external rules, but by the internal consciousness of the possibility of attaining divine perfection. That is the goal, to evolve into divine perfection. And in man’s soul there are not moderated rules of justice and of philanthropy, but the ideal of the complete, infinite, divine perfection. Only the striving after this perfection deflects the direction of man’s life from the animal condition towards the divine, to the extent to which this is possible in this life.

Over and over Jesus stressed (as did the Buddha) that the external world means nothing, that to follow Him means to focus inward, and not give a thought for the external world. 

Jesus said, “Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls or the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they? Which of your by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow/ they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink, or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof (Matt. Vi. 25-34)

Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is there will your heart be also (Luke xii. 33-34).

Go and sell that thou hast, and follow me, and who hath not forsaken father or mother, or children, or brethren, or fields, or house, cannot be my disciple. 

Turn away from thyself, take thy cross for every day, and come after me.  My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to do His work. Not my will be done, but Thine; not what I want, but what Thou wantest, and not as I want, but as Thou wantest. The life is in this, not to do one’s will but the will of God.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Finished Writing Everything You Ever Wanted

Yesterday I finished the final edits for Everything You Ever Wanted, a 400 page action adventure story that pits man’s greed against his lust for violence.

I’ve had this story percolating in my head for the last five years, and I’ve been writing this story for the last year and a half. It is, beyond doubt, the longest and most complex story I’ve ever attempted.

I am very pleased with the story, and thrilled it came out as good as it did. I know there are sections where the writing is a bit over-cooked. I dare say I could put it away, and then come back in a few months or next year for another round of edits, and I could make it better. But my feeling for now is that I’m so done with it. It’s time for me to move on. Today, I begin work on what I hope is a much shorter, less complex story. ;)