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fiction humor Science Fiction short stories

The Silver Sphere Part 5


If you haven’t been following “The Silver Sphere” or need a refresher, click here for part one and here for part two and here for part three and here for part four.

We arrived in New York City after a not-so-unpleasant drive from Daytona Beach. Most of the credit for the uneventful trip goes to my resurrected Mazda Miata. The last thing I needed was to be worn out from a difficult trip because my partner and I had a mountainous journey ahead of us.

Arcon, a super intelligent machine from the other side of our galaxy, was here to do a job of the utmost importance, and he had recruited me to help him. I’m certain, however, that he did not consider me as his partner. 

He, who is not really a “he,” but a highly evolved artificial intelligence packed in a portable silver sphere, didn’t have to like me. He didn’t have to consider me a friend, or an associate, or a co-worker, or anything else of that ilk. He had come to Earth to save us from a horrible fate. He had to do it quickly and efficiently. He had no use for extraneous pursuits such as cementing interstellar relationships because time was running out. In a few hours, the Earth would be reduced to fizzling cinders…unless we intervened successfully.

My name is Joseph Aleksov. I’m a writer by vocation and a Serbian by birth, not that it matters now. Metaphors tend to pop up in my oral and written communication. I use the word “mountainous” above for good reason. I have the unenviable task of transporting Arcon, undetected, to the very top of the One World Trade Center building.

A beautiful build resurrected on the ashes of the twin towers.

One World Trade Center was built to replace the Twin Towers destroyed on 9/11. It is one of the tallest buildings in the world, measuring 1,776 feet high. It is no coincidence that the size of the building exactly matches the date of America’s independence. Many features have been incorporated into the building’s construction to prevent the tragedies that occurred in the 9/11 attacks.

Arcon has assured me that the building’s security will not be difficult to navigate. I am, to say the least, doubtful. I have no idea how many layers of security we will have to pass through to reach the top of the building without arousing suspicion. I have read that there are four hundred security cameras mounted throughout the building, all of them running the latest anti-terrorist software. There are an undisclosed number of New York City policemen patrolling the building in any number of locations. I’ve read that the lower Manhattan police force has been beefed up to six-hundred-and-seventy officers. I imagine many of them are assigned to guard One World Trade Center.

I am reasonably certain of only three things: (1) I am not a terrorist (2) I’m no security expert, and (3) Although I am trying to save the planet, there is a high probability that I will be incarcerated, and shortly afterward, the Earth will explode.

A Pulsar From A Distant Star Destroys the Earth

With Arcon packed in wrapping paper inside a sturdy, innocent-looking shopping bag, I walked past the soaring white arches of the Oculus, an underground transportation hub. I was fascinated to learn about an interesting feature of the structure. Incorporated into its design is a lasting reminder of the attacks of September 11, 2001. It is in alignment with the sun’s solar angles on each September 11, from 8:46 am, when the first plane struck, until 10:28 am, when the second tower collapsed. Its central skylight fits this alignment and washes the Oculus floor with a beam of light.

Walking outside One World Trade Center near the entrance to the Oculus transportation hub.

Past the Oculus, I caught my first glimpse of the gleaming edifice known as One World Trade Center. Seeing the building in person added profoundly to my sense of urgency. The beauty and grandeur of this project is a testament to the resiliency and creativity of the human spirit. Seven other buildings have been constructed to complement the project. To imagine that all of this might be destroyed again by a random pulsar from a distant star is incomprehensible.

Neutron Star Supernova

To avoid waiting in lines, we arrived at the observatory entrance a few minutes after the opening time of 9:00 AM. Three soldiers in battle fatigues stood guard outside the entrance. A tag on their bulky vests identified them as members of the New York National Guard. Every inch of them, from their hats, to their pistols, to their machine guns, and down to their car-wax-shine-boots shouted: I mean business. Do not fuck with me. And, most importantly: DO NOT TRY ANYTHING STUPID.

Entrance to the One World Trade Center Observatory.

I tried on a friendly smile and a wave. It didn’t go over well. We passed through the glass and steel doors to the security gauntlet. I call it a gauntlet because it looked more ominous than a TSA security station at an airport. I purchased an expensive express lane ticket for the observatory. To my dismay, I realized the express ticket wasn’t going to make my journey through the gauntlet any easier.

I was most concerned about the complicated scanner. It was equipped with a laser scanner and a conventional x-ray camera. It looked powerful enough to examine Arcon right down to his atoms. I didn’t see how Arcon’s disguise as a Nineteenth Century Art Deco vase was going to pass muster. Attempting to pass through this formidable security array was sheer suicide. Then again, what choice did I have? I’d surely be dead if I didn’t try.

Art Deco Silver Vase 19th Century
19th Century Art Deco Vase

I placed the shopping bag on the scanner’s conveyor belt. I shed the required personal belongings one normally removes before boarding an airplane, and placed them alongside the shopping bag. I walked through the metal detector, certain that I’d be surrounded by policemen at the other end.

I made it through the metal detector without hearing any alarms. A heavily armed police officer approached me. I thought: this is how it is done. Politely lead the suspected terrorist away so as not to disturb any of the other visitors.

Instead of arresting me, the officer asked me why I was bringing the vase into the building. I told him that I intended to give it to my fiancée as a gift. I ad-libbed the part about my fiancée. It sounded more believable than “my girlfriend.” He looked at me with an entirely too serious expression. I was positive he didn’t believe my story. Then, he asked me how long I planned to stay in the building. With every ounce of my being, I tried not to look relieved.

I had no idea how to answer the officer’s question. How long would it take Arcon and me to do what we had come to do? I barged ahead, ad-libbing all the way. “I’d say six hours to be on the safe side, officer. Would that be alright?”

“Let me see your driver’s licence, or some other valid ID.”

I handed over my driver’s license in mortal fear that I had said something wrong.

“Collect your items and wait for me on one of those benches over there. I’ll generate your OWTC ID card and bring it to you. You’ll need the card for all points of entry in the building. Don’t lose it. If do you lose it, report it to the nearest officer or staff member. The card will no longer be valid after six hours, so watch your time.”

Passing through security into the South Lobby at the One World Trade Center

Collecting Arcon and my paraphernalia, I found the nearest bench. It was a relief to sit down after the harrowing trip through security. I spoke to Arcon in our customary mode of conversation; mental telepathy.

“How did you get through that scanner without your circuitry being detected?”

Arcon answered me in my native Serbian tongue. “I converted my insides into pure energy, and then I went into hibernation mode. I have a variety of energy frequencies to choose from. I used the most effective one for the pass through the scanner.”

“You could have told me beforehand. I was worried they’d find out you weren’t really a Nineteenth Century Art Deco vase.

Arcon made no immediate reply, which was unusual for him. He always had some sort of bouncy rejoinder ready when we spoke.

“I’m sorry. It didn’t occur to me to tell you.”

I was astounded by Arcon’s reply. Was he learning to have feelings in the same way he was learning the colloquialisms of the Serbian and English languages?

Before I could say anything more, the police officer returned. He handed me my ID card and pointed to a bank of elevators twenty yards to my right.

Entering the elevator to take a forty-seven second ride to the observatory.

“Take one of those elevators up to the observatory,” he said. “It’s a forty-seven second non-stop flight to the one hundredth floor.” He smiled at his clever little joke.

I smiled too. On the outside only.

To Be Continued…

Categories
issues Politics Uncategorized

We Turned The Lights Back On


We Turned The Lights Back On When We Elected Biden

Ever felt like you were in a pitch-black closet fumbling for a light switch you couldn’t find?

I’ve felt that way many times. More than ever in the last four years.

I was afraid four more years of The Trump Administration would drive this nation into chaos, uncontrollable violence, and eventual destruction. I’ve never been this concerned about an election before. I thought our country was teetering on the edge of the cone of an active volcano. Below us, bubbling lava and acrid, poisonous smoke billowing upwards. If we had taken a wrong step, we would have fallen to our collective deaths in the seething lava a mile below.

Fortunately, there are enough sane and prescient people left in this country to look beyond their limited perspectives and see the big picture. An image of a large, rudderless sailing vessel comes to mind, headed in a zig-zag direction towards a swirling whirlpool in the ocean. We just missed sailing straight into that black hole. Instead, we corrected our course. We turned the lights back on.

Whew! That was a close one.

I’m particularly encouraged by the stance the Biden Administration will take concerning the environment. I’m encouraged that General Motors recently dropped out of the lawsuit Trump initiated against California regarding motor vehicle emission standards. This is an early example that we are regaining our sanity. We are already playing catch up with the programs needed to foster and enforce clean energy development and greenhouse gas emissions. As it stands, we are losing the battle to save the environment. Radical action and a new level of commitment are required to reverse the trends.

Now, at least, we have hope, not only concerning the environment. We have hope that caring attention and fresh ideas will be applied in many areas plaguing life in these United States, starting with an intelligent, cohesive, and coordinated governmental response to the Corona crisis.

I could go on, but I’ll spare you.

If you didn’t like the way the election turned out, then fine. You are entitled to your vote and your opinion. If you wanted more lunacy, then I’m sorry. We’re not going there. If you don’t want to get with the new program, no problem. It’s a free country. JUST PLEASE: DON’T GET IN THE WAY.

And, if you liked the election results, let’s get back to civility. Let’s put aside our differences. (There’s nothing wrong with healthy, respectful debate). Let’s work together towards a brighter future. Congratulations on pulling off this nail-biter. Good work and…

…Shine on.

We Turned The Lights Back On. There Is Hope For The Future.
Categories
inspiration Making Changes motivation musings poetry

If I Dare To Leap


Clouds Interacting With Light. Lightness. Darkness. Hope. Despair.

“The path forward may sometimes be unclear. And it may be messy. But the shared heart is calling, and we have an opportunity to make lasting shifts toward love and justice in our world.”

Kristi Nelson/Executive Director of Gratefulness.org

On a rainy day there is no place to go

Except inside

To a safer place

To a better place

A place where I can spend days basking in meditation

Soaring close to the Heart Sun

Inevitably, I must arise and live in the world

Where the only way to move forward is to take a leap

Into the deep unknown

Into who knows what

Or where

I don’t want to jump

I’m not looking for trouble

Or confusion

Or more suffering

But walking in weary circles leads to “nowheresville”

As my Dad used to say

And holding on doesn’t work

So, a path cluttered with dried leaves is unveiled

Beckoning me towards a seemingly un-crossable crossroad

A paradox or a dilemma

The wise ones say, “Be who you are where you are”

Really? What if that place is constantly under water?

Unless I do something

Like making lemonade from demon lemons

I want to feel real love

I want to feel real peace

I want to feel real joy

If I take the leap

Will I find these delights?

Within reasonable bounds (if reason is necessary)

And so, I am pushed by unseen forces

To the edge of a cliff

Where I must decide

Without knowing

Man At The Crossroads. Decision Time. Jump. Cliff Edge. Dilemma.
Photo By Pagie Paige On Unsplash

Categories
Essays humor inspiration motivation

The Next Step


The next step isn’t always clear.

What an understatement.

Motivated people always know where they are going, the voice in my head tells me.

Nope. Wrong. Turns out we all must live with uncertainty. Talking to others more than I have in the past has served to underline this truth of daily existence.

Uncertainty is a driver. The question is: How do I keep it from driving me nuts?

Best way to beat it, I’ve found, is to stay connected to my family (thank God it’s functional) and to surround myself with people striving for the same goals. A community of like-minded people. I’m being deliberately vague here. Everyone has his or her unique tribe.

Most days I have a certain set of goals to accomplish. Some small. Some not so small. I always leave at least a little time to make it up as I go along. Some days are broad canvases waiting to be painted with…whatever. Other days are jam packed with things to do. Most of my days are consumed with a combination of survival needs and creative projects crying for attention.

Twenty years ago, I made the transition from the binding ties of a corporate job to the freedom of planning my days according to what I wanted to do.

Most people dream of this freedom, but I’ve learned that it comes with a price. Freedom is worthless without a purpose.

Without purpose, my mind wanders into bad neighborhoods. Worry. Anxiety. Depression. You know what I’m talking about.

I’ve discovered that my purpose changes as I change. I am like a sea captain adjusting my course as my inner landscape changes. My course also changes depending upon the feedback I get in response to my actions.

If I can’t get over an obstacle, I get around it. If I can’t do either, I find something else to do. When it becomes painfully obvious that I’ve hit a dead end, it’s time to move on.

There is a fine line between quitting and wisdom.

Recently, I had to admit to myself that, after spending twenty years writing screenplays and novels, it was no longer in my wheel house to do it. It hurt deeply to come to this conclusion. Once I got over myself, I realized that I’m much happier writing blogs to people who can appreciate them. I hope that’s you. I’m doing this for both of us.

Life is full of challenges. At this point, I believe the central point of human existence is to set up positive challenges as much as humanly possible. I don’t look for trouble. I try not to create unnecessary problems. Life is already hard enough, thank you very much.

Creating positive challenges helps to relieve my anxiety. They also take my mind off of the uncertainty.

I listen to my heart. I accept my needs and limitations. I move forward from where I am.

Still, the future remains stubbornly uncertain. All I am given is today. Let me make the most of it. I wish the same for you.

Categories
inspiration life Making Changes motivation personal growth

Money is Good (Happiness Too)


Spirituality and Money

I’m taking a ten-week online course about awakening to consciousness. One of the teachers in the course made some statements in a video about money and happiness that irritated me to the bone.

The teacher said, in effect, that the pursuit of happiness and money in our culture is the cause of many of the problems we are experiencing today. He also said our pursuit of happiness and money doesn’t work, and that we are undergoing a “paradigm shift in consciousness,” presumably to something better. He went on to indicate that the pursuit of happiness is not one of our primary drives. He said it is something that our culture has conditioned us to do. I thought my earbuds had malfunctioned when I heard this.

Because these statements are broad, they open the door to misinterpretation. I may have misunderstood what this fellow was saying, but the statements moved me to bring up a few points.

This teacher may be talking about the way we seek money and happiness, and there is a certain truth to this. But I also picked up from the discourse a bias against the acquisition of wealth and our traditional pursuits of pleasure.

It’s easy to get lost in the wilderness when we are breaking new ground.

While we can always do better, we have to use discretion in the ways that we effect change in ourselves and the world around us. Positive change is gradual. We don’t want to drive off a cliff and explode in a ball of flames. We want to be careful not to “throw the baby away with the bath water.”

We all need pleasure. We all need love. We all need happiness and, dare I say it, joy. We need them as much as food, shelter and clothing. And there is nothing wrong with having all of these things, not just marginally, but amply, in any pursuit, including awakening to consciousness.

I’m sure, at least in myself, that the search for happiness is my primary drive. The big “shift” came when my experiences as a young man taught me to look for happiness within myself first.

If I am happy and fulfilled within myself, then I will have something worthwhile to share with others. It may be that I can’t grasp and hold onto happiness, but I can surely point myself in the direction of experiencing more feelings of joy, peace, and love which, in my book, are foundational to well-being.

This teacher also makes a point that money does not provide security, peace of mind, or happiness. While it is true that money alone cannot provide these things, I am certain that a solid financial base contributes substantially to our individual and collective health and well-being. Not having enough money is a distraction. If I have to constantly worry about where my next meal is coming from, or the roof over my head, or having enough clothing to wear, there will be little or no time left for achieving anything besides survival goals.

And the sad truth is that most people in this world today are financially vulnerable to the point of distraction. With the added burdens of the pandemic, our survival needs are more than a distraction. We are faced with the threat of severe illness and death every day. Life was hard enough before the pandemic hit. It’s nearly impossible for many of us now.

However, if we take the pandemic out of the picture, and, at the risk of sounding unsympathetic, our economic problems don’t stem from our democratic government, our culture, or any other external factors. As Shakespeare’s Cassius said, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

We have the freedom to choose what we do with our lives. If our opportunities for economic advancement are limited, we have the power to change those conditions.

We all have resistances in our bodies and minds to the realization of personal happiness. With the application of intelligent free will, we can overcome these barriers.

Having enough money is a blessing. It is a resource that enables us to feed and protect our families, to have a semblance of peace of mind, to achieve higher goals, and to help others.

I’ve managed my life so that I am free to pursue higher evolutionary goals. I am not a slave to anybody or anything. I am relatively free. I’m certainly not free in the sense that the Buddha was free. But I’m free enough to operate in the way that I want to operate. If I screw up, it’s on me.

I’ve seen too many broke and unhappy “spiritual seekers.” They use their quest as a haven from their failures in life. It’s an easy trap to fall into. It’s a cop-out.

Whether or not we are actively pursuing an awakening to consciousness, there is nothing wrong with striving for happiness. Happiness is a choice and an attitude. It doesn’t fall down from the sky into our lap. It’s a constant learning process. It can be extremely tricky. It can be very simple. It requires discretion. It can be a struggle. There is only one obstacle that can prevent you from realizing our vision of happiness. That obstacle is us.

If we are on any consciously intentional path to awakening, there is nothing wrong with striving to attain financial security. We only have to know how to use money for our own betterment, and the betterment of mankind.

There is nothing to hold us back from achieving our goals besides the worn out saying that goes: “You can’t have your cake and eat it.”

You can.

Categories
Essays inspiration issues life motivation poems

This Single Moment


I don’t know anything anymore

I don’t know up from down

Or east from west

Or happiness from sadness

I don’t know anything

It’s becoming one big ball

One vast, amorphous something

In the midst of this single moment

I can’t turn away from my insignificance

Or ignore my greatness

In this single moment

Just hold me in the fullness

That’s all I want

All I need

All that matters

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.

Categories
Climate Crisis Essays humor inspiration issues life Making Changes motivation musings Self-Publishing Success Uncategorized Water Crisis

The Fine Line Between Success and That Other Thing


This is going to be a rant of sorts with some upside. It’s also going to be a little embarrassing. Maybe more than a little. Anyway, here goes.

I am a very active person. To avoid boring you with the particulars, let’s just say that I lead a busy life chock full of errands and enjoyable pastimes strung together with “work” that I try to make meaningful.  I put the word “work” in quotes because I believe that work has to be enjoyable to yield measurable, positive results.

I have done things I really didn’t want to do called “work.”  My father once told me that “you can’t always do what you want to do.” This is true, but I think I took what he said to an extreme.

I have read and observed that highly successful people enjoy what they do. They work very hard because they enjoy it. Now, “working very hard” has to be put into perspective in my case. I have never, ever, worked very hard compared to someone like Tom Brady, or Warren Buffet, or my investment adviser.

However, I have worked very hard (for me) at writing. I am passionate about writing. And looking back on forty plus years of writing, I see that what I’ve written has had very little impact as far as making the world a better place to live in.  This includes the latest novel I wrote with a subtext about the energy and environmental crisis (Micromium: Clean Energy from Mars.)

This bothers me because I have put a ton of myself into the three books I’ve written, particularly the last one which is available in digital, paperback and audio formats.  Another thing that bothers me is the world, not just the Amazon forests, is on fire.  We are facing extinction due to the environmental crisis we have managed to visit upon ourselves.  The environmental issue has finally become a big topic of discussion, but we aren’t taking the radical steps that are required to confront the problem.  That’s why I wrote Micromium a year ago, but it didn’t help.  Not the way I wanted it to.

So, if I’ve been doing what I truly want to do for the past thirty odd years, why isn’t it working?

Well, it seems that I finally have a clue.  I have not been as successful as I’d like to be because I DON’T BELIEVE IN MYSELF ENOUGH.  I’ve learned that a strong belief in oneself and in what one is doing is essential for success.  I’ve known about this principle for a long time, but knowing about it and doing something about it are two distinctly different things.¹  Just like the environmental issue.

Recently, I’ve found a way to significantly cut through my self-doubt.  It’s called Somatic Experiencing.  Since starting this training a month ago, my energy is more focused and it is coming from a deeper place.  I’ve already witnessed some positive results.  Nothing big mind you, but definitely positive in relation to myself and other people.  I’m in the beginning stages of this process, and I hope there will be much more growth to come.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll make some positive waves in this troubled world.  It’s never too late.

Thanks for reading this.  Hope it helped.

¹I’d also like to mention that it helps to do the thing or things you are designed for.  It’s important to find your true purpose.  This isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.

 

Categories
Essays humor inspiration issues life Making Changes motivation musings positive thinking reflections Success Uncategorized

Innate Goodness


There’s a lot of stuff happening in the world that is bad—really bad.  We know this, and we tend to focus on the bad stuff.  So, I’m asking myself: what is good?

For starters, we are good—even the worst of us.  The trick is; how do we get to that goodness?

I have found that it takes some work to get to the goodness.  In my case, it’s taken a hell of a lot of work.  It’s taken constant digging.  I know what I should do and what I’m supposed to do.  I’ve gotten pretty good at doing the stuff I need to do and should do.  For example, I’m thinking about working for the best democratic presidential candidate that I can find.  Am I excited about doing this?  Not really.  It’s just a matter of necessity.  We have to remove the lunatic currently occupying the White House.

Okay, so there are all sorts of things we have to do and should do.  What about the good stuff?  What about the place inside where goodness happens naturally?  It’s a feel-good place and the source of true inspiration.

When I meditate in the morning, I have, on many occasions, experienced the good place inside me.  I’ve experienced peace, love, and joy.  I like these feelings.  Who wouldn’t?  The problem is that these feelings fade away too quickly.  I often wonder how so many people do so many good things consistently.  I’m thinking of people like doctors and nurses, of gifted mental health counselors, of social workers, of accountants who work hard under heavy pressure to provide essential services to businesses and individuals.  The list goes on.  How do you guys do it EVERY DAY?  If you are a hard-working person, please clue me in.

Why do I wonder?  Well, I like to PLAY.  I try to make a game out of everything I do, except going in for a colonoscopy.  I admit that one is a bit of a challenge.  Not too long ago, I held down honest jobs in sales, marketing, and real estate.  I even did accounting for a while.  I worked in a family business for thirty years doing all of the above–not hard work, mind you–just plain old don’t kill yourself work.  After all of those years of (ahem) work, you would think I’ve changed, matured, and learned to accept that life is hard and full of work.  Nope.  I haven’t changed one bit.  I still like to play.  I envy people who like to work.  I imagine it’s much easier to live in the world as an adult if you like to work.  I wouldn’t know, of course.

Are you resonating with any of this?  If yes, please drop me a line or two.

Let’s get back to the essential goodness inside each one of us.  How do I (we) tap into it more consistently?  It drives me nuts how it comes and goes.  If I’m feeling more peace, more love, more joy, than I can be and do more for other people.  I’m working on making these good feelings more consistent.  If I can pull it off, I’ll be sure to brighten your day with some goodness first aid.

Update:  I have found a way to make this happen with something called Somatic Experiencing.  In my third session, I felt and visualized light pulsating throughout my body and mind.  Now, I feel more grounded.  I feel more ALIVE.  Since I know blogs are not supposed to be too long, I’ll write more about this in my next post.  Stay tuned.

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.