Giving Credit where Credit Isn’t Due

It’s almost impossible to rent a car without a credit card, but it is doable . . . for some people. Just not me. I tried. It would have been easier to deal with this move out of the house where I am living if I had wheels, but no luck.

To rent a car with a debit card, you have to be able to pass a credit check. The catch here is that if you can pass a credit check, you probably already have a credit card. For me to pass a credit check with my history of paying cash, I would need to have a job. They don’t care that I’ve spent the past ten years taking care of sick, old, and dying relatives. It’s not a paying job.

walkingEven if I were to get a secured credit card, where I have enough money in a separate account to equal to the limit on the card, they could refuse me, and according to the person I talked to, they probably would. No house. No apartment. No job. Not exactly a stable customer from their standpoint.

One solution to the not-being-able-to-pass-a-credit-check situation is to get a secured loan, say for $500. I put $500 in a savings account to secure the loan at 1% interest. They lend me $500. I put that money in another savings account, also at 1% interest, and I use that account to pay off the loan, for which they charge me 18% interest. Since all of this is reported to the credit bureaus, it helps establish credit.

Still, I’d be paying them so I could use my own money. Huh? This makes sense? And if I do all this, maybe, someday, I’ll be able to rent a car. It seems as if there is ever such an emergency, it would be cheaper to buy a junker and then resell it for pennies on the dollar. At least I’d have gotten something for my troubles.

To be honest, I never believed in credit. Still don’t. I hate being in debt. And I always figured if I didn’t have the money now to get what I needed, there was no reason to believe I would have the money at a later date. And if I did believe I’d get the money at a later date, then it made more sense to wait.

The onset of debit cards has made credit cards mostly unnecessary, except when it comes to renting a car. Luckily, there are alternatives when one finds oneself temporarily without a car — namely feet and friends.

Luckily I have enough of both to handle the current situation.

There is another problem, though. Without credit, it’s almost impossible to rent an apartment. But I don’t want to think about that now, and anyway, I’m not ready to settle down.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Winging It

Yesterday was my last night of being homed. Today I start my odyssey as a homeless woman. I could rent an apartment (that is, I could if they didn’t do a credit check — I have no credit, never having borrowed any money, mortgaged a house, or bought anything on time), but I can’t force myself to do that. It just seems so terribly sad to settle down without Jeff. And then there is the problem of incipient stagnation. At first, I’m sure, I’d do things, but gradually entropy would set in, and there I would be . . . the crazy catless lady.

That scenario is not entirely accurate, but it feels accurate, and that’s all I have to go on . . . feelings. And my feeling is to wing it for a while. “Wing it” meaning to do something extemporaneously. “Wing it” meaning to improvise. “Wing it” meaning to fly.

And oh, I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive
And oh, I can fly, I can fly, I can fly
And oh, I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive
And I’m loving every second, minute, hour, bigger, better, stronger power

(Chorus from #thatPOWER sung and written in part by Justin Beiber.)

The most complicated aspect of this homelessness is that at the moment I am also carless. My vintage VW is in the shop being prettified (it’s one thing to be homeless, another to look like it). I have also promised to stay in the area until after May so I can perform in a dance program at the local college. We will be performing two of my favorite numbers, a trio of Tahitian Apurimas and a powerful rendition of Hawaiian War Chant, so the promise wasn’t hard to make.

People are being very kind to me in offering to house me for a few days (and even longer), which is especially generous because my situation is of my own making. As I said, I could probably find a place to live, and my carlessness isn’t due to an emergency. (It’s like trying to get sympathy for a hospital stay when the surgery is strictly cosmetic.) On the other hand, maybe it is necessary. These visits will help ease my way out into the world.

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens. I’ll try to continue to blog every day (or most days, anyway), but don’t get concerned if I disappear for a few days. Ah’ll be bock. (That’s supposed to be a phonetic rendering of The Terminator’s infinitely imitated accent.)

Thank you for your support during these past five exhausting, angst ridden, grief stricken, terrible and wonderful years. Wish me well as I start this new phase of my journey.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Leaving the Nest

The papers for the sale of my father’s house will be signed next Wednesday. The buyers came for one last walk-through yesterday, and as I sat outside on the small wall separating this property from the neighbor’s, I marveled at how little time these people had spent inside the house. Twenty minutes the first time they came to look. Ten minutes today. I suppose with all the information and photos posted online, it doesn’t take more than that to decide you like a house, but it seemed so little. I mean, I spend more time test walking a new pair of hiking shoes before I decide to buy.

But I have heard that buying a house is an emotional experience, not necessarily a logical one, and besides, there are appraisers and inspectors for the more practical side.

bowl of lightsThey still like the house and still intend to buy it, so there will be no last minute reprieve for me. Just as well. It’s time for me to leave the nest. Literally, the nest. I built a small nest of pillows and comforters in one corner of one room, and that’s where I’m staying. The rest of the house is empty.

It’s nice and nicely symbolic to have these few days in the empty house. No furniture, no clutter, not even many necessities except for my nest, a few personal items, and my computer. And my bowls of light. (Hey! I bet that’s why the house sold so fast! The magic of light!)

When the couple and the realtor finished visiting the house, I gave the new owner a small gift, hugged her and wished her much happiness in this house. That hug, too, was symbolic. A passing of the torch. And a more binding contract than the one they will sign next week.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

The Last Few Days of a Settled Life

Such a strange transitional state, these last few days of a settled life. I’m at my computer, perched on a stool at the kitchen counter, which is the only table-like surface in this empty house. (I’ve never quite got the laptop aspect of a laptop computer. Too much heat on my legs, and too hard to type.) Because of the uncomfortable stool, I have to get up every few minutes to stretch, which makes it hard to think. It’s a good thing, then, that I have nothing to think at the moment.

I had lunch with a friend this afternoon, who half-jokingly told me I could stay at her house when she took a trip, and as soon as I accepted, the joking tone disappeared. She’s delighted to have someone stay there when she’s gone. An empty house is an unstable house. What if a pipe breaks? What if the plants die? Well now she doesn’t have to worry. (Unless, of course, the plants commit hari-kari to get away from my black thumb and what they might see as a tortured death.) The dates are unspecified as of yet, but it will be good to have a plaangelce to alight for a couple of weeks.

Someone else told me about a “trail angel” job opening up. The usual trail angel (someone who helps those who walk the long-distance national trails) can’t do it this year, and he is looking for an angel to fill in. I don’t suppose I could be called an angel under any circumstances, but what an interesting experience for a writer — a completely different point of view about thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I can’t commit to the whole time (because of the afore-mentioned house-sitting situation) but maybe he’d be willing to let me do just a few weeks.

A nomadic life, at least for now, seems way more exciting than simply renting a room or even an apartment. Every week or two, circumstances would change, and perhaps new choices and challenges would present themselves, including teaching myself the rudiments of camping and backpacking. (There are all sorts of programs and books available, but only I know the circumstances of my needs, and in the end, everyone has to hike their own hike.)

The same friend (the one I had lunch with today) told me I was so very brave to go camping by myself, and I had to remind her that I am still all talk. I have yet to step into a tent or climb into a hammock, though I did sleep on the floor last night because I felt too lazy to drag the old mattress from the garage (where it had been stored) to the bedroom. Besides, sleeping on the ground will be good practice, though the half-dozen or so pillows I used to prop myself up probably defeated the purpose. Maybe a hammock would be better than a tent, but how does one hang a hammock in the Redwood Forest?

So many things to learn! So many places to go, trails to walk, parks to visit. And dances to dance. (The good thing about housesitting for my friend is that I would be able to take classes again!)

All of those things are still just words on paper, but someday . . . someday . . . the tug of adventure will call me beyond words to the reality.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Dipping My Toe Into Wanderlust

Some of you have requested that I not leave you behind when I go adventuring. Of course I’m not leaving you behind when I take off on my travels! I seem to have adopted the philosophy that an unblogged life is not worth living, so I will be keeping up with this web log as data plans, phone signals, and wifi spots permit. Besides, blogging is how I make sense of what I experience — so much of my life seems to take place beneath the surface, and writing is how I connect with my own subterranean world.

My first foray into a life of travel will probably have to be more planned than I intended. I will be heading north to visit a friend, and on the way I will camp out on at least one couch that I know of, so I’ll need to coordinate dates with both friends if nothing else. But it’s not just that. The truth is, I really know very little about the world. In some respects, being in a closely-connected and highly intellectual relationship was like living in a cloister or an ivory tower, and now I need to learn how to do things, and how to do things on my own.

Choices are endless in this electronic world. Motels. Couchsurfing sites. Car camping. Tents. Hammocks. Free campsite sites. Primitive campsites. Expensive campsites geared for RVs. I spend hours every day researching equipment, places to stay, sights to see and sites to experience. As someone who walks a lot, I know that around every bend, up ahead a few feet, and off to the side is an ever-changing feast of life. Multiply those few square miles by the vastness of the earth, and there is no way anyone can experience it all.

I know I don’t have to be some place pretty to succumb to awe, but I do have to be some place. I have to sleep somewhere. I have to be warm and dry and safe (or as safe as possible. I might be listening to the call of adventure, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to be reckless). Hence all the research.

I learn best by trial and error. I’ll probably need to buy my camping gear at one of those places that let’s you try things out and exchange what doesn’t suit. It’s the only way I will know what I need. But still, I’ll have to have an idea of what to buy, and that takes research.

I’m getting an inkling that this first trip will be a case of dipping my toe into wanderlust — not the start of adventure, but the start of preparing for adventure. I can sense I am headed somewhere — maybe on that epic walk I can’t get out of my head — and all this is but prologue. So much to learn. So much to become — better, stronger, wiser.

At the beginning, I’ll probably be coming back here to this desert town quite frequently to recoup. Get my vehicle checked over by the mechanic. Take dance classes to rejuvenate my spirit. Replenish my supplies. And then, the world again.

And through it all, I’ll be taking you with me.

Should be a wondrous adventure!

WANDERLUST

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Letting Myself Begin Anew

“Let yourself begin anew. Pack your bags. Choose carefully what you will bring, because packing is an important ritual. Take along some humility and the lessons of the past. Toss in some curiosity and excitement about what you haven’t yet learned. Say your goodbyes to those you are leaving behind. Don’t worry about who you will meet or where you will go. The way has been prepared. The people you are to meet will be expecting you. A new journey has begun. Let it be magical.” –Melody Beattie, Journey to the Heart: Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul

SunriseA friend sent me the above quote today. So very apropos! My brother and his wife came to help me move my stuff into the storage unit. It seems ridiculous to own so much stuff, but most of it is household goods and inventory from various businesses I’ve done over the years and may do again sometime.

It truly was a magical day, a day of synchronicity. A friend drove me to get the truck and sign the papers for my storage unit. When I returned, before I could even turn off the engine, my brother drove up. When we finished loading the truck, my father’s caregiver came to pick up some of the furniture (I know my father would be delighted that she wanted it), and so we loaded up her truck. Adding more magic — the weather is perfect.

Now I am keyed up and not ready to settle down into this almost empty house (Nothing to do anyway, my movies and books are packed away, and it’s hard to perch on a kitchen stool for very long to play games on the computer.) But a friend from across the city is conducting business only a few blocks away, so we’ll go out to dinner together.

Magic. Synchronicity.

I’m trying to believe in the magic of my life’s journey, too. I’d like to believe there is no need to worry, that the way has been prepared, that people will be expecting me, even if we don’t yet know each other. I’d like to believe I have a magical life ahead of me, a life of wondrous adventures, lovely people, new friends and favorite places.

I have ten days left in this house, and afterward, a couple of places I can stay in an emergency. I always thought when the house was sold, I’d take off, but I have people in my life, dance classes, and a performance at the end of May. And then . . .

My journey is taking shape. I am going to fulfill my New Year’s resolution to visit a friend up near the Oregon coast. I have a lunch date in Ohio with a friend who is also in a state of transition. And I am being offered an opportunity to go to the Amrit Yoga Institute in Florida and write a series of articles about my experiences.

In between, of course, I’d like to come back here to continue taking dance classes, but I’m leaving my life up to the magic and synchronicity of the journey, and let myself begin anew.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

The Imponderables of Life

A friend thinks I need to be empowered. According to this friend, people who are empowered “intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle them.” It sounds great, actually, knowing how to handle baffling situations, but all situations are potentially baffling, at least to me. Up close, things sometimes are clear, but if I step back and look at any situation from a broader angle than my singular point of view, the possibilities, parameters, ponderances are incalculable.

ripplesEach of our lives, each action of our lives, each interface with the world is like a stone thrown into a pond. All the ensuing ripples affect and change the course of all the other ripples. If you look at a single ripple, the situation is apparent. For example, if I were to spend my savings on getting my ancient VW restored, it would feel good for as long as I was concentrating on that ripple. But what if just beyond that single ripple is an accident, a theft, or some other ripple that would negate that hefty purchase? Conversely, I could keep the savings, deciding that it’s silly to waste money I will need for living expenses on such a gesture, yet the next ripple could bring a windfall that would make the savings seem minor.

Ripples.

The car is a silly example, I know, but it’s a situation I am currently dealing with. Oddly, the body shop guy I went to for an estimate was hesitant about my fixing up the car. He was horrified when I told that I wouldn’t have a garage, and he cautioned me about spending much money because the theft factor would be too great.

Whether I fix the body or not isn’t really a major problem, just a fun thing to think about. The car works beautifully, I have new tires, the rust and body damage from years of use are minor. If I decide not to do the body work, I have other options. Painting flowers on it, for example. I could always have it restored afterward. Or I could . . . whatever.

Beyond the triviality of such a situation, there are greater imponderables that totally baffle me. If I step back and look at the effects of even a single thrown stone, there is no way I can make sense of the endless eddying ripples of those imponderables.

Late yesterday afternoon I talked to a friend who had recently been released from the hospital. Her rheumatoid arthritis is destroying her lungs, and she’d been admitted for pneumonia and various other life-threatening complications. She coughed and hacked and gasped during our conversation, trying to breathe and speak through the pain. She is my age, still fairly young, and yet she is dying a painful and protracted death. The situation baffles me completely. How is it possible that she is dealing with such horror? She finds it ironic that she is now suffering the torments her husband had to deal with while he died, torments she blamed herself for, but I find the things life does to us incomprehensible. I have problems, but nothing compared to hers.

Then early last evening, I came across a heartbreaking blog post, I stand quietly about a mother who can only stand and wait while her child deals with the agony and bewilderment of a sensory processing disorder. How is it possible that some mothers have children who don’t have to worry about how their clothes feel against their skin? How is it possible some mothers can’t hug their child because that simple touch makes the child scream in agony?

How is it possible those two ripples touched my life on the same day within a couple of hours of each other?

Ripples.

The other night I was in an accident. A friend thinks I should sue, but I cannot swear I was in no way to blame. I can see my single ripple — I was driving along with my headlights on, noticing my surroundings, noticing the car that idled in the middle of a turn lane off to my left. I did not in any way instigate the woman’s turning abruptly and speeding directly across the road in front of me, as if I weren’t even there. She claims my lights were off, that she didn’t see me. I drive an old car. The headlights don’t wrap around as with modern cars, so maybe she didn’t see me. Maybe I wasn’t even there for that moment — according to the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics, until I was observed I didn’t exist. How can I comprehend all the ripples that brought us two women together in such a way? How could I have known before I left the scene, that the two of us would hug on parting? In my debates with myself about whether to get my car restored, I’ve been thinking about the possibility of an accident. Could those thoughts have somehow predestined a collision?

I intuitively made a decision that night. Since she didn’t want to involve insurance companies, I agreed that we would both pay for our own damage and end the matter there. It’s only afterward, when other ripples intruded, when people thought I was nuts for leaving even with the cop’s permission, when people thought I should have gotten her name and phone number and sued her that I became baffled. Not at my actions. I did what I wanted. But baffled at the imponderables. Do I believe that the accident was in no way my fault? Of course — I know it wasn’t. Do I believe that the accident could have in some unknown way been my fault? Of course — I can’t know that it wasn’t.

Ripples.

Still, whatever anyone thinks, I would so much rather be a person who hugs a transgressor than a person who sues. Maybe I do need to be empowered (whatever that means). And maybe, just maybe I’m doing fine on my own.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

A Fighting Optimist

I was on the yearbook committee senior year in high school. I can still remember sitting in someone’s living room looking for quotes to put under our classmates’s photos. We were laughing and having a good time matching our friends with the appropriate saying until it came to my photo. A few hems and haws and a lot of silence. I was never quite sure what silence meant, but I just shrugged and picked my own quote: The only truly happy man is always a fighting optimist. (I was naïve about feminist ways at the time and took “man” to mean “humankind.” I still don’t make an issue of such words — I include myself in even if the male-oriented words were meant to include me out.) Some people called me negative back then (or rather pessimistic since “negative” as a buzzword didn’t show up until much later) but I knew the truth: I was a realist who fought to be optimistic.

Double RainbowIt’s odd that I have remembered the quote all these years when so much else has slipped into the muck at the bottom of my mind, but perhaps it’s because I often think of it. This is a world where optimism and positivism are almost religions, and if you don’t believe, or if you believe in truth no matter what form the truth takes more than in being positive at all costs, you’re called negative.

My copy of the yearbook is long gone. (I lent my high school yearbooks to the son of my mother’s best friend because he wanted to look up a girl he was infatuated with, and I never saw them again.) So when that quote popped into my head again today, I looked it up online to see where it came from. The quote I used is only half of it. The full quote is: The only truly happy man is always a fighting optimist. Optimism includes not only altruism, but also social responsibility, social courage and objectivity. — W. Beran Wolfe, author of How To Be Happy Though Human

Natural optimists might be happy, but so often they live in a fantasy world where the truth is fogged in under a pink cloud of hope, denial, and lack of objectivity. (I’m not referring to you, of course.)

It’s entirely possible I misinterpreted the quote — he seems to be saying that to be happy you need to be optimistic and fight for what is right, not just fight to be optimistic, but either way, the saying seems to hold true.

So what does this have to do with my present life? Not much, I suppose, except that I notice more moments of happiness and optimism — feeling uplifted even when there is no particular reason to feel uplifted. It’s as if somewhere inside of me, something is smiling.

Twice in my life I heard a voice deep inside of me speaking without my volition. The first time was a few minutes after I met Jeff, the man who was to share my life for thirty-four years. “But I don’t even like men with beady brown eyes and blond hair,” the voice wailed. I didn’t hear it again until a year before he died. At the time, we knew he was bad off, just not how bad. I’d made a point of hugging him every morning, thinking that each hug would be the last. One morning I inadvertently touched his ear, and he shoved me away. (I now know the cancer had crept up his left side from his kidney to his brain, and every bit of that quadrant was one huge mass of pain.) We were connected in some profound way that neither of us understood, and I thought that when he died, he’d pull me with him. But that day when he pushed me away, I heard the voice again. “You might be dying, but I have to live,” it said. And I knew then that he would be dying alone.

I wonder if that’s who is smiling inside me, whoever or whatever it is that spoke those two times.

I’m sitting here smiling at the whimsical thought. Who knows? It could be true. Maybe someday I’ll even meet her. Or be her.

Meantime, during the not so uplifting times, I will still fight to be an optimist.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

A Life That Ambles

I haven’t been walking in the desert lately. I’ve been mostly wearing myself out packing, and when I do walk, I’m going to or from dance class on city streets.

daffodils

Cities have their advantages.

Where I used to live in rural Colorado, there wasn’t much in the way of amenities, except things for cattle and horses, like alfalfa fields.

alfalfa

So I enjoy the lovely and whimsical sights that cities offer.

20150311_141025bd

Class was cancelled today, and since there is little heavy work to be done to sap my strength, I took myself out to the desert.

desert

Walking in those barren, path-strewn hills, I was reminded of my life — lots of paths going nowhere, somewhere, anywhere. The straight path to . . .  wherever . . . is there, but it eludes me. I am left to clamber around the expanse, not knowing if there is a pattern to my life, not knowing if I am going anywhere in particular, not knowing much at all, if the truth be known.

And yet, hidden in the barren expanse are magical vistas,

desert

colorful gems,

cactus flower

and lovely surprises.

natural rock garden

There is a lot to be said for a life that ambles — literally and metaphorically — without a set destination. Such a life might not afford the luxuries that money provides, but oh, the benefits to such a life are beauty and joy.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Life is a Present

Someone reminded me the other day that life is a gift. Someone else told me that my deceased life mate/soul mate is in a better place. The juxtaposition of these two ideas used to perplex me. If life is a gift, why was it denied him? If he is in a better place, why am I here? I don’t think about this conundrum any more, at least not much. Somewhere along the line I conceded that he might have gotten the better end of the deal. (It was easier to accept his death that way than to think he was missing out.)

gift2Life, with all its pain and trauma, seems a dubious gift at best. It’s more like a present, something that was presented to us whether we wanted it or not. Or like a presence: being present (being here now) in the present (this moment).

Considering all the possible gamete connections, it’s amazing that any of us are here. (Though I suppose it’s like the lottery. Someone will win the lottery even though the possibility of any one person winning it is astronomically small.) Our presence could be deemed a gift, yet there is the matter of pain and trauma, angst and ill health, grief and stress and old age, along with all the trials of everyday life. (There’s no need to mention joy or wealth or friendship or any of the other wonders of life — we know those are gifts without ever having to look for a bright side since they are the bright side.)

Perhaps the gift of life is emotion — joy and sadness, laughter and tears and all of the thousand other emotions that we humans experience, both pleasant and unpleasant.

When my profound grief over the death of my soul mate started to wane, I missed it, as odd as that might seem. There was something so very immense about such grief, as if I were standing on the edge of eternity, one foot poised above the abyss. I also missed the constant life lessons grief taught me about myself, about will and survival, even about the workings of our bodies. Would I choose to feel such grief for the rest of my life? Of course not, though knowing I will always have upsurges of sorrow doesn’t bother me like it used to. Mostly, I am grateful I was able to feel such grief and to honor his life in such a way.

It’s rather a literary cliché, one that most of us have come to believe, that the more intelligent a person or species is, the less emotional. Mr. Spock from Star Trek and Lucy from the recent movie Lucy are two such examples. But what if this belief is not true? What if emotion is a form of intelligence, and the more emotional we are the more intelligent? Are ants emotional? Are cockroaches or rats or cows? I don’t think so. Some animals do feel some sort of emotion, but no other creature can experience the range of feeling we do.

(Even if emotion isn’t a gift, it probably has some sort of survival mechanism because otherwise, why would emotion have developed?)

Not even all humans feel emotion. Sociopaths don’t feel emotions, or if they do, the emotions are very shallow. (There could be 30,000 non-killing sociopaths for every murderous sociopath, so this is a fairly common emotional disorder. See: Your Mother-in-Law, the Sociopath.)

So perhaps life is a gift after all, including all the parts like pain and sorrow that we would just as soon live without.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, andDaughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

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