Sunday, December 20, 2020

What a Mind F*#K!

What a Mind F*#K! 


In an attempt to understand why my dearest memories, those moments spent with family, friends, and colleagues that remain crystal clear to me, vary from others I shared these experiences with, I began reading about the brain and reasons for memory loss. The more information I gathered, the more amazed I became. To be honest, it's overwhelming what the brain is capable of and, thankfully, there's a wealth of information addressing the infinite facets of this magical organ!  


Much of the brain functions are like a thief in the night stealing moments our conscious mind doesn't register. In less than a second, it anonymously retains anything you see, touch, or smell, without cognitive control. By utilizing automatic responseit stores information derived from all of our senses.


Research shows we articulate our memories differently to different audiences. That seems obvious to me since I don't mind spinning a yarn and injecting a bit of drama and humor, with a pinch of exaggeration, always taking into consideration the audience. An example might be a college reunion attended with my old classmates as well as their wives and family. Some of the tales might require some editing so they're more appropriate for the venue.


The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology states that not only do the stories change on these occasions, but the memory is now changed. Furthermore, each time the memory is recalled it will be altered. This is known as the "audience-tuning effect".  


I question the latter theory for it has been my experience that the stories we hear from family and friends on Thanksgiving, Christmas, barbecues, or other family events are tedious in their consistency. I appreciate that stories might be embellished considering the audience and the libations being consumed, but they inevitably return to the same boring tales we've come to love. There are numerous explanations as to why embellishments might happen every time we recall a previous experience, taking into consideration what we believe to be true and what we want to be true!


Published on November 20, 2018, in Nature Communications, the findings offer new insights into the mechanisms of both memory and decision making. According to Columbia University researchers, the brain plays back and prioritizes high-reward events for later retrieval and filters out the neutral, inconsequential events, retaining memories that will be useful to future decisions.  


If that's true, why do I still remember my first wife?!?



Four Types Of Memory Loss 


According to the Terra Vista Foundationmemory loss isn't a simple thing, and there are many factors at work when considering the process of memory loss. There are four different types of memory: sensory, short-term, working, and long-term memory.


·      Short-Term Memory—Short-term memory loss is one of the first symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. You might recall your loved one asking the same question multiple times in the course of a day, or a couple of days. This is commonly described as the inability to recall information that was just recently given to you. The amount of time concerning 'short-term' can be from a couple of seconds, up to a few days.


·      Sensory Memory—Sensory memory is considered the 'shortest-term' memory. It usually is only 3 seconds recalling sensory experiences (memories related to seeing, hearing, tasting, etc.) Sensory memory is often not referred to so much in detecting Alzheimer's because it is subtle and these memories are too short.


·      Working Memory—Working memory is also noticed in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, as it is closely linked to the short-term memory. Working memory is what allows our brains to keep limited amounts of information stored up long enough to use it. It helps us to process our thoughts and to form plans, as well as to develop ideas. As you can see, the short-term memory and the working memory work together.


·      Long-Term Memory—Long-term memory is usually visible in Alzheimer's patients later on in diagnosis. These memories are from a few weeks to early memories from life. The process of memory moves from sensory to short-term to long-term. This explains why long-term memory is the last to be affected in the disease.


It's inconceivable that the human brain isn't considered the wonder of creation! Especially since it weighs just 3 pounds with billions of nerve cells that exchange data with other neurons faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive. While reading this blog, your brain is carrying out an immense number of highly complex functions including guiding the muscles in your eyes, adjusting so you can see with equally sharp clarity in changing light conditions.


The capacity the brain has to store and disseminate information, to mention just a few of the plethora of its capacity, totally BLOWS MY MIND MAN!



Through Whose Eyes Will We Experience The Truth?


If in fact our memories do change simply by recalling and sharing them, how do cultures who document their history with only paintings and stories rely on these traditions to maintain a consistent message as time passes? Since much of the truth has been omitted from our history books, is the truth now a lie? If men wrote the Bible from information gathered from other men, or from their own memories, why would anyone be surprised when its content is questioned? One example is the debate between the Old and New Testaments.


The ability to question and inquire into other’s beliefs is a gift of free men and women. To blindly believe everything we’re told is naïve and troublesome to me. Since the truth has become so subject and vague, we must teach our children to have an open mind and to utilize that mind to find their own beliefs. If they don’t, they will spend their lives living someone else’s truth! 


Back in the day, in most grade school history books, Native Americans were either portrayed as ignorant for selling the Island of Manhattan for beads and trinkets, or savages who needed to be stopped from slaughtering the settlers. How many of us read about "The Trail of Tears" in the school history books when we were growing up? 


"The Trail of Tears" was a 1,000+ mile journey on foot that claimed the lives of 4,000 Cherokee Indians as they were forced to move from their tribal lands from as far away as southwestern North Carolina and northwestern Georgia out to the new Indian Territory of Oklahoma. This tragedy silenced a culture that could have taught us how to respect the earth so it could continue to thrive, and to take only what we need from it.  


But I don't recall hearing any book reports read in class addressing the "Indian Removal Act" created by Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, specifically to exile Native Americans from their ancestral land in spite of agreeing to never remove them from said land, while also banning the use of their language and traditions. Their language and traditions expressed who they were, and without them they would cease to exist as they once were!


With all the information gathered, it appears truth is a subjective thing in spite of the fact that it isn’t subjective at all. When antipathy befriends indifference and ignorance, it allows the haters to commit unthinkable human rights crimes; therefore, the plight of the Native Americans happened!


The truth we learned came from the perspective of progress being sacrosanct, capitalism taking precedence over fairness, and the Anglo-Saxon perception of superiority. This allowed them to look at the fate of Native Americans as collateral damage.


Historic Indian tales and mythology teach appropriate behavior and the repercussions of not following the laws of nature. Native Americans who have abandoned their traditions in order to embrace mainstream culture and the American lifestyle are now encountering an increase in disease! Almost a century ago, there was virtually no diabetes in the Indian communities, but today it runs rampant except for those Elders who continue to observe their traditions. 


Brain Fart


My personal concern involves short-term memory loss, for this has become my Achilles Heel surpassing trips to the bathroom. I perused through my collection of Reader’s Digest and found nothing relevant so I located a 1959 edition of "The Bronx Journal On Short-Term Memory Loss and Potato Latkes Recipes" and found some pertinent information.


I'm sure many of you have found yourself in a room wondering why you're there! There is a name for this dilemma and an answer to why we find ourselves in these situations. It's referred to as "Event Boundary" in the mind! Research shows that when we pass through a doorway leaving a room and entering another, one set of thoughts end and/or separate from the next thought. 


Meaning: Your brain files away the thoughts you had in the previous room, and prepares a blank slate for the new locale. The thought you had to go to another room and turn out the light could very well evaporate once you pass through the doorway from one room to another, leaving you wondering why you're there! 


As we can see, there is so much we can't fathom about the brain, but knowing its importance must be conveyed to all of our youth for it is the touchstone to all they will achieve and aspire to. The brain is the “Holy Grail of Knowledge” and a healthy wellbeing! Not integrating basic moral standards and spiritual guidance to the brain, nor nurturing it with positive information, a healthy diet, physical stimulation, and ethical boundaries is naïve and dangerous considering the havoc it can create. 


The mind runs the show, writes the script, and, ultimately, will direct what part you’ll play unless you create the best part available utilizing the unending, wondrous, and magical things your brain is capable of!



Friday, November 27, 2020

Dual Personality


or simply adapting to social and career environment?


My earliest memories of the necessity to adapt to my circumstances was at home with my twin sister, Nancy, and my mother, Elizabeth. Mother wanted calm and quiet for she worked up to three jobs to provide for us. Being thoughtful was a requirement! This was my first of many encounters adjusting to my surroundings to better fit in and thrive. 


The process of adapting can be more difficult as you mature, developing into who you ultimately will become and/or whom you perceive you are. That being said, it is not uncommon for introverts to become extroverts at their place of employment and other competitive settings, often without even realizing it! 


If you find yourself bored to tears, you might peruse through information regarding the most accepted model on personality and the five basic personality attributes that can define us as individuals. 


·      Openness

·      Conscientiousness

·      Extroversion

·      Agreeableness

·      Neuroticism


These “Big Five” traits all have a cluster of related traits that shape our emotions and behaviors in a wide variety of situations.


In 2014. Deloitte reported that 61% of employees do some form of “covering.” Though it has a negative effect on one's sense of self, it is seen as a necessary evil for career advancement. Employees don't want to hide who they really are, but feel they need to, due to pressures from leadership or company culture.


In an attempt to explore a personal belief, that I dramatically refer to as "THE PHENOMENON," I offer this somewhat crude and simplistic comparison of one facet of bipolar behavior as it relates to introversion and extroversion, specifically regarding the extreme differences between the highs and lows of bipolar disorder as well as the divergence of demeanor and conduct by introverts and extroverts.  

  • Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health problem that often goes undiagnosed, misdiagnosed and untreated. Untreated bipolar disorder can lead to social, emotional and financial problems as well as substance abuse and suicide! Symptoms include both extremely elevated moods called mania and episodes of depression. For more information, check this article from Healthgrades. 
  • “Introversion and extroversion,” according to Dr. Juli Fraga, “are personality characteristics and often influenced by nature and nurture. Because they're widely discussed in business, social, and relationship circles, they're often misconstrued. Extroversion and introversion refer to where people receive energy from. Extroverts are energized by socializing in larger groups of people, having many friends, instead of a few intimate ones while introverts are energized by spending time alone or with a smaller group of friends." 

For my hypothesis, I'm looking at what scenario best fits my multi-tasking subjects, how they best thrive, and what gives them energy.


“THE PHENOMENON” previously referred to occurs to those who at some point make either a subliminal or conscious decision to assume dual personalities in order to accommodate the two distinctly different and separate lives they now find themselves living! During these episodes of persona alteration, the time will inevitably come when there are no longer any attempts for balance, nor adaptation from career to family life, for a new, more dynamic, charismatic you is coming to life! A you that is now unwilling to share the spotlight with even the other you!


There is usually an imposing "Yin to the Yang," a harsh downside to this social experiment of self-indulgence and deceit. I found it fascinating observing the point when push comes to shove and it’s time to decide what character best suits your family and business associates, for your dual role is beginning to crumble them both!


Even more fascinating—many choose the character that least fits them, even though it has kept them in harm’s way with their family and peers, especially if they no longer see the world through sober eyes!  It is my experience most choose “The Extrovert” vis-a-vis the high mania experienced with bipolar disorder.  



When someone is experiencing the manic highs of bipolar disorder, they feel overly excited and energized. They're unusually friendly, outgoing, and very productive. They generally report feeling incredibly good. During a manic phase, people feel on top of the world, as though they're unstoppable, invincible, and destined for greatness. Unfortunately, they also undergo compulsive behaviors such as binge shopping, excess use of alcohol or drugs, or promiscuous behavior to name a few. 


Extroverts exhibit similar behaviors being sociable, talkative, action-oriented, and enthusiastic, but can also be easily distracted unable to be alone, and attention-seeking. Ultimately, are we capable of discerning who we truly are along with what persona most accurately represents us and feels the most natural and comfortable for us to sustain? Or, will we find ourselves swept away with the allure of fantasy and excess? 


Possibly even more heart wrenching is having to assume an identity in order to fit in at a mundane, unfulfilling job or relationship.  What is the percentage of people who misrepresent how they think and feel, not only in their career, but in their most intimate relationships?     


I found myself searching for the answers to some of these questions once I became a member of Three Dog Night, one of the most prolific and successful bands in Rock & Roll in the late 1960s and throughout much of the 1970s. Even in today’s landscape of successful artists, our achievements more than hold up! 


·      60 million records sold

·      7 million-selling singles

·      10 platinum and 14 gold albums

·      18 Top 20 and 21 Top 40 hits in a row


You learn a great deal about people you travel with, live amongst, and depend on! In fact, you'll recognize the subtle, sometimes obvious, changes in them long before you're aware of the alterations to your own personality and moral compass. 


It was becoming obvious that we all were making subtle adjustments to our image, possibly unbeknownst to us, morphing from one character to another. Accents changed as we traveled from The North to The South and country to country. We were having fun taking in this new adventure—seven musicians, one road manager, and a roadie crisscrossing America! At first, we were in a small, old bus and then in a station wagon. 


It's unnatural to be adored, admired, respected, desired by people you have never met for they have no idea who you truly are! They definitely have their own idea of the magical person you are, someone you could never live up to! 


The person I was becoming while on the road didn't compliment my life at home. As we toured more, it took time for me to become comfortable again with the slower pace and predictable routine at home. When I began to understand why I was uncomfortable at home, I attempted to mentally prepare for this drastic change and enjoy the time off in between tours.


The majority of my life was now spent touring, recording, making TV appearances, and the cornucopia of events made available to successful artists. For the most part, I spent my life in fourth gear and was learning how difficult it would be for me to downshift only to be required to rev it back up whenever necessary. Going home had become a reprieve from my real life, from recording, and from being on the road. Each time, it was taking longer and longer for me to acclimate, slow down, and adjust to the different physical and emotional pace that my family adhered to when I was gone. 


As time passed, I realized many of my choices while touring had left me restless, irritable, and discontent when I was separated from them. It was becoming simpler, and preferable, to remain balls to the wall and the object of your affection! 


Now, I truly believe we all assume the most affable face we can and adjust to our circumstances when need be—It’s part of life! For the most part, people are kind, adaptable, and have the capacity to find their way through most of what life throws at them. The journey from quiet detachment to jubilance requires little more than a loving glance or thoughtful remark! We are blessed with the capacity to emote as many feelings and display as many personas as necessary for us to feel a part of something, to fulfill our rolls as partner, parent, lover, and business associate while still feeling good about ourselves. 


Embracing coveted fantasies of great wealth, celebrity, and romantic conquests on the surface may seem more compelling than Sunday dinner with family and friends, but more often than not, there is nothing more fulfilling and comforting then being loved, accepted, and permitted to be yourself with the most important people in your life…





Saturday, November 7, 2020

Karma--Holy Compensation



From an early age, I always felt the presence of a Higher Power that made me feel special and safe.  Even though there was never any talk of spiritual matters at home, nor did we attend church or other religious functions, my faith was a part of me. The only divine intervention in Apartment 4F in the Bronx was corporal punishment which put the fear of God in you. 


Of late, I've been struggling with the demons of my past life as an addict and pathetic human being. These feelings of despair were brought on by a few situations in my life—one being a project my wife and I undertook in hopes of helping addicts, parents, and significant others of those suffering from addiction. 


In June, 2020, Ami and I began a video series, "Three Dog Nightmare Revisited," which consisted of reading chapters from my book in conjunction with contributing candid conversation on the content of the chapter being read. Casually taking on this endeavor has reopened deep wounds that had long since faded away! How could I have forgotten the two years it took me to recover from writing Three Dog Nightmare (TDN) in the first place? I honestly feel the waiter has come with the check, AGAIN, in the form of an intimate Karma brought on by shame.


It is my sincere wish that you may find something helpful from my book! At this time, I find it personally humiliating, unconscionable, pathetic, and grossly offensive to have been capable of the acts described in TDN especially since I walked away clean and sober with so many more chances for a new life than anyone should expect, while others live with my bad choices! I'm writing this as a first step in my recovery from the shame and disdain I have for myself! The ultimate goal being acceptance and a pathway to forgiveness.

The philosophy of Buddhism related to Karma and certain Christian principles are similar in that it is believed one’s actions determine their life in the hereafter!

KARMA—Action, seen as bringing upon one’s self-inevitable results. The sum of a person's actions in this state of existence viewed as deciding their fate in previous, current, and future existences. 


Karma is not an external force, not a system of punishment or reward dealt out by God The concept is more accurately understood as a natural law similar to gravity. You do bad things. You get bad things. You do admirable things. You receive the same.




Reaping and sowing are essentially about blessings and consequences—accountability for one’s actions! The Holy Bible teaches grace. Grace is where you get what you don't deserve. Grace is unmerited favor. It is love and mercy bestowed upon us by God because God desires us to have it. 


“Cheap Grace”


“Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church's inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap…”

                                                                                                --Dietrich Bonhoeffer


NOTE: This theory of “Cheap Grace” is coined in the book, The Cost of Discipleship, written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian who is considered a classic of Christian thought. 


Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

                                                                    --Galatians 6:7-8


Much religious doctrine is based on the fear of retribution and the Wrath of Godrighteous judgment against sinful humanity, which has been a motivating factor in promoting a spiritual life, the fear of Hell, and eternal damnation. God's desire is that all be saved (1 Timothy 2:42 Peter 3:9), but those who refuse will suffer the consequences of that refusal.


Grace is the Hebrew word chanan, or the Greek word charis, meaning "the state of kindness and favor toward someone, often with a focus on a benefit given to the object." (Strong's Greek 5485.) The Grace of God is employed in various forms of religious-inspired rituals with the goal being absolution, utilizing penance, and repenting which has also proven to be a powerful attraction to Christianity. Sadly, it would not shock me to hear that much of the younger generation sees the latter as Voodoo, or hypercritical nonsense. Nor would it surprise me if some Sunday, one-day worshippers utilize the ease of absolution as a “Get Out of Hell FREE Card!” as if absolution was a divine hall pass, enabling you to continue on whatever path you have chosen with impunity. 


Most Christians address their sins by asking for God’s forgiveness for He is the ultimate judge! However, our actions on this plane are consistently judged by others, despite God being the ultimate judge, so asking only for God’s forgiveness and not making amends to those we have injured, lied to, stolen from, cheated on, or abused emotionally, mentally, and physically, doesn't seem as significant as making amends to those we have harmed. 


On September 17, 1991, while in Cri-Help Recovery Center, I was struck clean and sober by a loving and forgiving God. I began striving for balance in all things in my life despite the difficulties and my many failures in doing so. I found myself adapting to spiritual and religious principles that best suited my belief of God’s will on my journey with Him—a God of my understanding!  



UNCONSCIOUS SELF-IMPOSED INTIMATE KARMA—An unsought involuntary act of self-reflection evaluating your life and worth as a human being. A Karmic encounter caused by one's subconscious coming to light. 


This intimate Karma will be difficult for those lacking in faith, humility, as well as the desire and/or tools in making amends. Those with sociopathic tendencies and others who simply don't care who they've harmed CAN GO TO HELL! Those who have Ignored the ethical and moral principles throughout their lives, those meant to control our actions, may be exposed to distressing episodes of conscious and reflection. I certainly was!

AMENDS—An amendment, a transformation from your previous, unacceptable behavior to that of an honorable person! This is much more than an apology. It’s a commitment to change!

Acceptance that a moral and spiritual debt is owed in the form of amends for the damaging deeds others have endured on our behalf is paramount in one’s pursuit of God’s Grace and good Karma! The Cowardly usually balk at the previous suggestions for courage isn't their strong suit, however, if these timid souls see how asking for forgiveness and making amends will benefit them, sincere amends might be made! 


The act of making amends is not just meant to simply help you clear your conscience so you feel better, and definitely not to further injure those you have already infringed upon. (A crude example: You should tell the person you stole a watch from and return it to them, but you would never inform them if you had an affair with their spouse for that would be devastating to both families and perhaps cause irreparable harm.) Once you have asked for God’s Grace your Amendment would be to cease being a thief and an adulterer!


When our self-will assumes control, God becomes a distant memory for we are now the ultimate judge! WE are all things, driving the bus WITHOUT A LICENSE nor the skills to navigate through the bad roads ahead! Hopefully, we will encounter a willingness to be accountable for our weaknesses and embrace our strengths for the rings on the tree that you and your first-love carved a heart in are many now, as are the wrinkles on your face! If we allow God in our consciousness, we will be guided to a better existence. Life as God planned it! 


Forgive and ask to be forgiven!

Tell those who need to hear you say

“I LOVE YOU!”, that you love them!


Pray for guidance and it will come and...




Most of my contribution to this piece was stimulated and gathered from reading The Big Book for Alcoholics Anonymous and The Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text.