I get spam…

This one was really fascinating to me. It reads almost like poetry. Like its intentional, not someone who isn’t fluid in English ramming random sentences together.

“Attractive component of content. I simply stumbled upon your site
and in accession capital to say that I get actually
enjoyed account your weblog posts. Anyway I’ll be subscribing
on your augment or even I achievement you get entry to persistently rapidly.”

I am definitly looking forward to entering persistent rapid.

If it doesn’t have an MOE, its not the Truth

We talk about “truth” a lot, especially in politics. And what I’ve noticed is that we seemed to have blurred the lines between the things that are true, and things that are not. That is, there appears to be little separation between the things that can be verified as facts, and the things that are opinion. My secret pet theory about the fruit on the tree of knowledge (you know, the whole Adam and Eve story with the Serpent and the fruit) is that by eating it, it allowed us to mix up fact and opinion.


So the other evening Teri and I were sitting in the office at our respective computers, doing something like surfing the net or writing email, when Trevor walked in and start sniffing us. First he came up behind my back, and sniffed around my neck and shoulders. Then he went over to Teri, and did the same to her. Its a bit unnerving to have a 10 year old walk up behind you and start smelling you, but we are used to our son being slightly eccentric. (For instance, he will not refer to either Teri or myself as Mom or Dad. He only calls us by our first names.) Since it was near his bed time I think we both thought he was tired, and trying to get our attention so he could go to sleep. Rather than be upset, we both stopped and turned to him asking “What are you doing?”

“I’m sniffing,” he said. “Sniffing for guilt.”

* * * * * * * * *

I wrote this back in August of 2011, and for some reason didn’t publish it. Today, while doing some maintenance for this site I found it, and had to share. Trevor is 13 as of this post, and just as wonderfully strange.

Skepticism as an Anitivirus

I went to a movie with some friends the other night and afterwards we fell into a discussion on alien life on our planet. One of us brought up that an ex defense minister of Canada believes there are E.T.s living among us. What’s curious is I found myself taking up the position of the skeptic. Apparently something I do. A sort of devil’s advocate to friendly discussions. Perhaps this is because of the way I was raised, at least in part, but I think there more to this going on.

We live in a world of belief. We see things and apply belief to them. If you’ve read Michael Shermer’s rather wonderful The Believing Brain, then you’d know that belief is our default mode to understanding. Rationalization comes later. We literally believe things, and then rationalize them, not the other way around. And this is true for everyone from the most ardent scientist, the the most delusional religious zealot. The only difference between them is not the way they approach what they believe, but how they prove to themselves the things they believe.

Let me unpack this a little bit. Both the scientist and the zealot will disbelieve things that run contrary to their understanding of the world. This is understandable. If I tell you the moon is made of green cheese, you will disbelieve me, because this information is counter to what you already believe. But what if I tell you something that is untrue, but is similar to what you already believe? That’s where we run into trouble. Again, its not just you or me, but all of us. When we get information that is similar to what we already believe to be true, we are far more likely to accept it as true. And, heres the important part, when we get information that proves false something we believe to be true, we ignore it, or we try to tear it apart, usually via a whole host of false arguments. We say the author slept with his cats (which is called an ad hominem), or the author obviously didn’t consider the intergalactic aliens (a red herring) or we claim the author cannot be correct because no “real” scientist would make such a claim (a no true scotsman), or a whole host of other logical fallacies.

My problem isn’t that people believe in things, or that belief is dangerous (belief can be dangerous, but it can also be helpful). Its that we believe too easily the things we like, and believe too dubiously the thing we do not. Belief than becomes a way to keep our ideas consistent, but not necessarily correct. There’s no built in system to determine if what we believe to be true is actually true. From the inside our own heads we cannot tell.

Worse still, when we’re exposed to information that is close to what we belief, then we are prone to spread it around. Think of an idea as a virus, and our brains as their hosts. If you’re brain is infected with the belief that X is true, you will pass on this notion to other brains. But only those brains who believe similar ideas will be susceptible to your virus. So brains that believe X is false will probably not get infected, but brains that think X might be true could get infected. Again, this is not bad in the main, but there is no way to determine if what we’re spearing is true of false.

(as an aside, this is the whole idea behind the concept of memes. The idea was that ideas spread like viruses, passing on their information. Since ideas don’t have genes (that is, they don’t replicate with genetic material) the way to explain them was to develop the ideas of memes. A meme being the genetic material for ideas, sort of like dna.)

So what we have are all these beliefs being passed around, with no way for the those infected with these beliefs to tell if their beliefs are true or false (or in-between. Assuming everything has to be true or false is yet another logical fallacy called a false dilemma).

What’s interesting to me is what doesn’t get passed around as easily: Anti-belief. By this I mean the entire logical structure needed to eradicate a belief. For instance, If I say Global Warming is a hoax, I’m not passing around the proof that climate change is not real, rather I’m passing around my belief that it isn’t. In other words, I’m nearly passing on my belief. Anti-belief does not come in an easy to digest packet that is readily consumable. Moreover anti-belief is highly specific to the individual. The information that may cause me to no longer believe that X is true will more than likely be different for you.

So what does one do when presented with belief? Especially when we are constantly bombarded with belief, and have to work hard to find anti-belief. The only solution I can think of that we can do as individuals is to attempt to disbelieve every belief we encounter. That is, to be skeptical. Mind you, this is much easier to do when we’re exposed to things we don’t believe already, and much harder when exposed to things we’re more susceptible to. But still the only way to stop being infected with some beliefs is to attempt to not be receptive to any belief.

Does this work? What do you believe?

Democracy: War by another means

In case you missed it in the news, Scotland has apparently decided to stay with the U.K. a little longer. To my mind this election was a resounding success. I’m not talking about the decision to stay with the U.K. Frankly I’m so ignorant of the whole thing that I really could not give you a compelling argument for either side. Never the less, I think the election was a resounding success. I say this for one particular reason; a great political decision was reached, and nobody died.

Can you imagine how this would have been settled 400 years ago? How many people would have died (either by civil war or military conquest)? How much industry would have been lost? How much harm would it have inflicted? How many people would have starved to death? This is unsettling idea, but an important one. We used to solve political problems by killing people. Sometimes we still do. But we’ve also learned to solve them in a way that is bloodless. In the western world, this is perhaps our finest achievement.

Way back in November of 2008 I wrote a short piece about the election process for a group of guys who liked to discuss politics on the internet. I was struck by the use of language from both sides as they talked about the election. It seemed like there was a strong reliance on military metaphors, and it didn’t take much of an imagination to conclude that either side was more interested in a coup more than election. Fortunately this has never happened here in the U.S., but it did make me wonder, “where do these militaristic ideas come from?” In fact, the real question should be, “where do these democratic ideas come from?” For militaristic solutions to political problems predate democracy by thousands of years.

The piece can be found below.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

from 11/2/2008

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s an election going on. And this one, especially as evidenced in the race for the Presidency, is proving to be formidable both in terms of the piles of money spent, and the heat of overblown rhetoric. Watching all the recent news specials and polarizing images on FaceBook reminded me of an idea I had the last time Obama was running for office.

You see, I believe that a democratic election is a war, albeit one with no weapons (save words and money) and no death. Its not like our modern wars with our vast and impressive professional military, but more like the kind of war that was invented right alongside the birth of democracy. Its my belief that this was no accident; that democracy and hoplite warfare were both born out of the same need: to solve political problems quickly and at little cost.

The practice of democracy, and the word, both originated on only one spot on the Earth, and at one time. The time was some 2500 years ago, and the place was a little peninsula sticking into the Mediterranean Sea we now call Greece. This was back before the golden age of Athens, and well before Socrates (a famous solider in his day), Plato, Aristotle, or even Alexander the Great.

The practice of democracy started amongst the many Polis, or city-states. These Polis were poor enough that they couldn’t collectively support a large monarch, but rich enough that they could support a broad middle class of yeomen, or small farmers. Because of this, defense of each Polis necessitated the use of the local people banding together to form a militia. Political problems with neighboring Polis were often settled with their respective militias.

There’s a problem with this, though; farmers make lousy militia because they can only be away for a short period of time between sowing and harvest. So if a Polis had to use farmers in their militia, they were forced to fight their battles on an accelerated time-line. They didn’t have time for draw-out campaigns, or long sieges because the crops had to be harvested.

To solve this problem, the Polis developed hoplite warfare. A type of warfare that is essentially a giant shoving match.

Both cities would line up their hoplites a short distance across from each other. At some point they would charge into each other, shields interlocked, and with multiple rows of men, pushing towards the enemy. Think of the front line in a football game (American style), only the line would 5-10 men deep, and extended 1/4 mile long. The combination of armor and interlocking shields meant that almost no one would be injured, at least at first. At some point, one side or the other would fail, their line would crumble, and the victors would give chase. Most fatal injuries were to the back, and even these were fewer than you’d think.

What’s important about all this is that only one battle would happen, and both sides would agree to some kind of political resolution depending upon the outcome of that single battle. Much like having a lawsuit settled over the results of a football game. The best part is, the enemy never had to actually take over your land to win, (no Sherman’s March) they only had to win the battle.

So the farmers would come out, line up, smash into each other, patch themselves up, and go back to the harvest.

What is fascinating is the similarities between hoplite warfare, and democracy. Both require a middle class society of free men, both revolve around a single event to effect a political solution, and finally both allow for rapid political change, but in a manor that conserves precious resources.

For those that like to read, Victor Davis Hanson has an excellent book about Hoplite warfare, farming, and how the western world developed the concept of winning a war by winning a single battle. Its called “The Western Way of War“.

Even though Victor was the one who taught me where the word democracy comes from, and more importantly, why, I can’t recall him ever characterizing democracy as a kind of warfare.

Anyway, I posted this because these past few weeks have gotten pretty interesting around here, and I noticed the behavior has gotten pretty hostile. In fact it looks more and more like two opposing sides in the midst of a war. Which isn’t all that inaccurate a description, if one thinks that we are in fact at war; fighting to determine which side will get to set the political agenda for the next 4 years.

Oh, and the thread title is a spoof on Carl von Clausewitz.


The other side of the creative process. The one they don’t tell you in art school.

There’s a thing about art that they won’t tell you in school. What they don’t say when you’re getting a degree in creative writing, or in a performance art. There’s something that happens between the tour busses and the ballet barre, between the late night ads and the morning coffee shops. There is a price for pursuing the creative process, and that price is fear.

Imagine if you will that we live on a world perfectly divided in half at the equator. On the north side, there side where we live, there are plants and trees, houses and apartments, cites and farms. It is light and sunny, exactly like our world, with one small difference, the best fruit, that is the fruit that everyone wants to eat grows on the fabulous trees near the equator.

Now the south side of the world is dark and populated with monsters, horrible and terrifying ones that will happily chew you up and spit you out. We are a delicacy to them. These monsters mostly keep to themselves, but they like to come over to the other side now and again to get a nice snack of human. So what they do is hide near the fabulous trees at the equator, waiting out of sight for the humans to come and pluck the fruit.

A few other things. The fruit from the fabulous trees grows sweet just about everywhere, but it is sweetest the further south you go. It needs a certain amount of darkness to be sweet. Also, the trees you first encounter, that is the trees furthest to the north, have fruit that is already very sweet. From there the amount of sweetness increases slowly as you travel south, the difference being more and more subtile the further you go. So when you first step up to the fabulous trees the fruit is wonderfully sweet, but you cannot get too far south until you’re not sure if the fruit from the next tree is going to be as sweet, or sweeter then the one before. Eventually you find yourself having to pass 3, 4, 8, or more trees to find fruit noticeably sweeter then the previous. And all the while it is getting darker and darker.

And of course, the further south you go, the more likely you’re going to run into a monster.

For me, being a retoucher is like picking fruit right near the beginning of the fabulous trees. The fruit is sweet. Sweet enough, and I make a good living selling it to the people who have neither the inclination or ability to reach the fabulous trees. The nice thing is it is a fairly safe place to pick the fruit. The monsters have to travel a long way to get you, and you can usually see them a mile off. There’s plenty of time to pick up your bags and run. Also there are a lot of fellow pickers around you. This makes it easier as you can watch over each other like a herd, and gang up on them if they come. Mind you, there are retouchers who pick their fruit further south than me, some of them much further, but the difference in price they get for their fruit is not all that much higher than mine, and of course they work at a greater risk.

This is not the only time I’ve traveled to the fabulous trees. I’ve been there before as a musician and songwriter. Back then I was too scared to go very far south, and too ignorant to know the difference between the sound of an approaching monster and that of someone picking fruit a few trees ahead. This ignorance was costly, and eventually convinced me to give up fruit picking all together, at least as a musician.

What I didn’t realize when I started writing stories is that I’d be working much further south than before. And I’d be working alone. And this is the price that you pay as a creative. Sure my appreciation for the fruit has grown stronger. I can now detect the subtile differences in flavor that used to baffle me before, but I got that way by picking fruit closer and closer to the monsters.

The people who never pick the fruit know all about this of course, but their knowledge is perforce limited by their experience. They think the line between the safe side of the equator and the other side is a clear and distinct. Like its a line marked on the ground with one side being light colored, and the other dark. But those of us who travel deep into the trees will tell you there is no line. The world does get darker the further you go, but the differences eventually become so subtle that it is almost impossible to tell. Worse, the change is so subtle that its easy to get turned around, and head the wrong way. You can think you’re walking home, and instead head straight for the monsters.

Sometimes when I am out there I can hear the monsters. The ones I fear the most are depression, paranoia, and schizophrenia, but there are other ones nameless to me further in. Depression I’ve battled so many times he almost counts as a friend. Sometimes he captures me, sometimes I kick his ass. But he’s a devil I know, so I fear him, but I also understand him. Its the other two that really scare the shit out of me. And I swear to you, there are days when I can feel them out there. They are just over the horizon. I can smell them. Hell, I can point to them. Sometimes, to pick the fruit of a particular nice fabulous tree, I find myself up on a rickety ladder, my body extended way past what is safe, clinging to the tip of the tree with nothing but thin branches to break my fall if I should make the slightest mistake. And all the while I’m up there with my back turned to the monsters. When I up high like that, I can feel them. I can hear them slithering around just beyond my vision. And I know If I make a mistake, they will drop on me in and instant.

But the fruit….

Things I am grateful for, Day 2

Today is Day 2 of the 5 Day Gratitude challenge that was passed on to me by Dennis Dunbar, and Laura Tolladay.

The idea is to list 3 things you are thankful for, each day, for 5 days. You’re also suppose to challenge 3 people each day as well, but I completely ignored that part. You’re probably supposed to do this entirely on FaceBook, which is where I started this, but I ignored that as well preferring the writing environment of my blog. You’re also supposed to do them sequentially, day after day, but I failed at that too. 

Yeah, I suck at rules. So what?


In any event, here is my second day. Considerably longer, but much more to my satisfaction.

1) Story and History

Pardon me while I get all META for a moment.

We live in a world of story. Stories surrounds us, they imbue us, they are the very thing that makes us up. If you think of words as atoms, then stories are the molecules those atoms make. They are the amino acids, vitamins, etc. that give us life and keeping of going. Stories are to humans what water is to a fish; ubiquitous, unseen, and yet utterly necessary.

Don’t believe me? Take a step back and look at your day. You wake up and your spouse/significant other/fuck-buddy-for-the-night asks you, “How did you sleep?” You respond with something like, “Pretty good. I woke up at 3:00 because the neighbor’s dog was barking, but then I went back to sleep.” This is a story. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It even has direction, and a point. Mind you its a bit short, and the protagonist is unstated, but no matter where you go in this world, and no matter what language you use, if you tell this story the people there will know exactly what you mean.

The you get to work and someone asks, “How was the traffic?” by which they mean “How was your journey?” You respond with a story. You might start with, “Some jerk cut me off at the Mulholland Exit…” or, “There was an accident at La Cienega…” or sometimes even, “I met the nicest lady on the bus…” but all of these are the start of a story. They are all ways of describing your experience with you as the protagonist. We don’t just say a string of events like an ersatz grocery list, we stitch those events together into a story with ourselves playing the leading role.

At every point in your day, if you are communicating with another human, you are using story.

Ever since my mother started reading to me at a young age, I have always loved stories. Big ones, little ones, jokes and novels. Large characters, and small. Smart stories and dumb ones. Spoken, written, or acted, they’re all one to me. But I didn’t really understand how ubiquitous stories are to us until I started learning to write them.

I remember clearly the first time I was able to step back from a story and look at it from above, to see a story in its constitute parts rather than be caught up in the narrative. To see the meta story. It was at a party, at our home. I was somewhere in my middle school years, 7th – 9th grade. My mother had some friends over, although I cannot recall specifically who was there. All I remember is that she had had a glass of wine (or two), and was telling a story.

For those that don’t know her, my mother likes to tell a certain kind of story. In her stories she is always the protagonist, and the antagonist is always an idiot. Each of these stories starts with a normal conversation that somehow goes wrong. The antagonist has decided to block my mother (for any of a handful of reasons), and attempts to frustrate her from her goal. These stories always end with my mother battling this lesser opponent, and brutally vanquishing them using words alone. They always end with her moving on to her goal, no longer impeded by her foe who has left the field in disgrace.

Over the years I have heard literally hundreds of these stories. They are amazingly consistent to her. I don’t think I have ever visited her for longer than 5 minutes without hearing one. So its no surprise that she was telling this kind of story on that evening. The thing that made that evening unique to me was that suddenly, while she was knee deep in the story, I suddenly knew how it would end. It was as if someone had pulled back the curtain of the narrative, and shown me the Meta story that lay within. Until that moment I had no understanding that each of her stories, for they were always slightly different and populated with new people, were in fact simple variations of the same one. After that point, I could never hear one with also hearing the others resonating inside, like verses of a song sung over the top of one another.

I’ve always enjoyed people watching, but it was when I started to write stories that I understood why. People to me are stories. They are walking, breathing, animated stories. I don’t kneed to know the person (in fact, meeting them often ruins the story I’ve made for them) I just need to look at them, hear them, smell them, and their story pops into my head automatically. While riding the bus, or sitting out on a street corner watching a crowd, these little stories will pop into my head like the bubbles in champaign, and they fizz and effervesce quite nicely. Most of these stories will pass me by without much attention on my part, but occasionally I run across one so interesting or so outlandish that I have to know more. I need more detail, or I need to find the end. So I’ll talk to that person trying to gently capture their story with the butterfly net of my mind. It is these stories that often end up becoming characters in my own stories. They are wild stories, captured in their native environment, and tamed by language into something I can use.

Many people don’t know that the word Story and the word History both come from the same Greek root. If you read the first history book by Herodotus, you can’t escape this conclusion. Herodotus was happy to mix story and history into one big mess, leaving such ideas as “factual representation” or “the line between direct knowledge and hearsay” to be discovered later on. To me, history has always been about story, which is why I’ve liked it as a subject for so long.


2) Language (more specifically the English Language):

Yesterday Teri and I took Trevor to a fair near us called the Sylmar Olive Festival. There were a variety of reasons for going, but the primary one was to see the Legion VI Victrix camp. You see our son is what his friends call a Romei: That is a fan of Roman history, but the term is used to include pretty much all forms of ancient history. Trevor got this way from playing the Total War video games series (think of the board game Risk, but on steroids and with a heavy emphasis on the ancient world), but to be fair a certain amount of his inclination probably comes from my own interest in the ancient world and military history.

So while we were there that night, hanging out with the sixth Legion like groupies after a rock concert, one of the guys (Matt) was talking about doing a show for an upcoming Greek festival in ancient Greek armor. Since he didn’t know the Greek names for the armor he started listing them in the language he was used to, Latin. With the exception of a few English words, it was a conversation that could have happened in AD 100 just as much as today. It was also a very typical Roman way of looking at the world, Rome being known for taking ideas from other cultures, refining them slightly, slapping on a Latin name, and parading them about as their own. Mind you, we’d been standing around a group of people dressed to the nines like Roman Legionaries in a Roman camp with practically everything within reach designed to look authentically Roman, but it was this turn of conversation that struck me as the most authentic part of the experience. For some reason this tickled my funny bone, and I started to laugh. Matt looked at me inquisitively, not knowing what he said that was funny, so I tried to explain why it was funny to me, but found it a bit of a challenge.

Language is like that for me. Its not just a tool to communicate, or a way to express my needs. Language to me is also fun, and funny. A veritable playground or words, ideas, puns and jokes, that surround us like sparkling diamonds, and tart up an otherwise dull and roughed up world. Language is not just something I do or use, a tool like  a hammer or a saw, it is a source of fun and humor in its own right.

I don’t think a day goes by without me making up a pun, or laughing at a turn of phrase, or marveling at a line of poetry. Language can pierce my breast like an arrow and go right through my heart, or it can lift me up when I’m feeling low. It is both my first love and a big glorious sloppy mess of a pig pen in which I like to wallow. Its no accident that Language is the first thing I turn to when I start to feel depressed. Language is the North Star for me, it remains fixed in my heavens always directing me towards my home and away from the rocky shores.



3) Death

For as long as I can recall, I’ve always been fascinated about death. I can’t imagine I’m particularly unique in this regard either. It has never been about the death in a personal sense, I’m not into that kind of pain, but more about death in the abstract. Death as a thing, a cultural construct.

We all seem to fear death. We as in society. This always struck me as silly. One cannot stop death, any more than one can stop life. They are twins, life and death. Each one dependent upon the other. You cannot talk about one without eventually running into the other.

Mind you, I’m not the least bit interested in dying myself (thank you, but I have a lot on my plate right now, and I’m pretty sure that plate will never empty), nor do I wish death upon others, even my enemies. Especially my enemies. But death does happen, and we do have to deal with it, even if dealing with it means denying it exists like a child screwing her eyes tight in a dark room and reciting over and over, “there are no monsters, there are no monsters.”

But death to me has also become less abstract. It has become personalized.

It started when I was working on my first novel. I had an idea for a protagonist who was cursed with a super power he didn’t want. Without killing anyone he somehow became the center of their death, the locus upon which their sins spun down into their eventual and terrible end. A very literal translation of Saint Paul’s abstract, “the wages of sin are death.” Somehow I knew this guy had to be a priest, and a good man too, not some asshole who rapes children. But in creating this character I had to come up with a reason for him having this curse. I mean priests don’t suddenly become cursed for no reason, especially if they’re wearing a white hat. So it was while I was working on this part of the novel that I discovered Santa Muerte.

At first this saint Death was just another thing you put in a novel. A name, an abstract concept. Something to move the plot along. But almost immediately she stopped being an abstract and became a character herself. I could see her in my minds eye. She could appear as an old crone, or a sexy young girl, she was both the bride and the king, both dependent upon us, and our master. And always she was the great leveler. Rich or poor, saint or asshole, we all get to face her, and we all get the same experience. We all must die.

Since then she has become the center of a group of short stories I hope to eventually finish and publish. They all revolve around death because death is not only the period at the end of our live’s sentences, but death is also a force for change.

Back when I was a Christian there was a common phrase that went, “Whenever God closes a door, he opens a window.” The idea being that the ending of one thing is also the beginning of another. Its a conceit which I believe to be true, although it usually takes a large dollop of optimism to see it. What I discovered in writing about death, in personifying death in my stories, is that she indeed is the grand opener of windows. Death closes one life, but also opens another, or part of another. One begets the other. Or more importantly, you cannot have one without the other. Like I said way back at the beginning of this essay, death and life are inseparably paired. They are the yin and yang of our existence.

To move away from the abstract here for a moment, I’d like to talk about death in the personal. When my father died, and a few years later my father-in-law, it ripped a curious hole in my character. I had the strongest feeling that in the circus of my life, the high-wire act had suddenly torn away its safety net, yet I was expected to keep up the same demanding performance schedule. It was a very unsettling feeling. I counted on these men, even if I rarely called upon them. For some reason they were still buried in my foundation. Once they were gone I was left feeling their absence painfully. And yet, there was nothing I could do. Short of putting them in stories, I could not bring them back from the grave, and I had a sense that even if I could resurrect them in this manner it would not end well for anyone.

So I did what we all do when facing grief. I moved on. I kept going. I had a business to run, a family to look after, bills to pay, taxes due. I wrote stories, I talked to friends, I saw movies, and in private with just my wife I cried a lot. We both did.

But a funny thing happened. A door closed, and a window opened. I became stronger. I grew. Somehow I gained a sense of self I could not have done with these great men around. Their shadows cast too far, their greatness was too much. In short, I became a better man.

In any forest, when a large and mature tree finally dies, it leaves an opening in the canopy which allows more sunlight to fall to the smaller trees below. This extra sunlight causes a burst of growth, as the smaller trees suddenly expand in size until they grow to fill the available open space. At the same times the old tree slowly decomposes, becoming the nutrients upon which the new trees use to grow. This is exactly what happened to me (although really it was to both of us). We grew, we became better. We literally sucked the nutrients from the bones of our ancestors, and grew both in size and in stature. 

Mind you, this is nothing I would wish upon anyone. It was immeasurably painful, and the process was at times excruciating. But we did grow. And with its passing I cannot help but feel that this step was an important one. That one cannot really know the full extent of their character unless and until they go through this crucible.

One day we will pass, and the ideas and culture which we hold dear will pass on like nutrients to our children and our children’s children. This is the way of Death. It is the way of Life.