New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Near-Death Experiences

October 04, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Missy Beattie

To Bee or Not to Bee…

by Missy Beattie

I have a neighbor, F, here in the Kingdom of Cross Words (and puzzling entanglements), who’s been depressed and medicated off and on for months.  The genesis of his anguish is twisted adoration for a female who clutches him closely and then hurls him away with language and equivocation that would send most in the direction of sanity. Seems this woman-like object holding the deed to F’s underwater soul has torture down to an artistic science. And despite my disdain for his willingness to accept abuse, F and I have managed to talk each other up, and by up, I mean elevated from death wishes. Plus, he tolerates my radical political views without recoiling or criticizing.

Recently, F announced he had a story for me. I thought perhaps he was going to report that sunlight’s truth had illuminated his sensibilities as well as his sensitivities and that finally he’d used the word he and his fixation once selected to signal THE END.  But no. (more…)

Raw Diamonds

July 20, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Mary Sojourner

Being Changed With Every Breath…

by Mary Sojourner

“… the Jeweled Net of Indra, a metaphor from the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, which portrays how all beings are interconnected across time and space.  The image, a vast net of inter-connecting threads, describes how at all intersecting nodes there is a diamond-like jewel that represents all sentient beings — human and other — that exist in the universe.  Each jewel reflects every other jewel in the vast net.  Whenever suffering occurs anywhere in the great, luminous net, a tear appears.  In times of trouble, people respond, and their compassionate response helps the net to reweave around the places of suffering.” — Olivia Hoblitzelle, “Get Your Dyin’ Done Early,” Inquiring Mind, Fall 2008

An older friend is afraid for his mind.  I am seventy-two and have been afraid of losing my mind since I was eighteen.  Olivia Hoblitzelle’s husband, Hob, had intended to give a talk on Indra’s Web at the Cambridge Insight and Meditation Center.  He was more than qualified.  He’d trained in Buddhist meditation and was a lay monk in the Tiep Hiep Order.  He’d taught for fifteen years. (more…)

Assisted Humanity

April 18, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Guest Author

End of Life Doesn’t Have to be Drawn-Out and Meaningless

by Curtis Johnson

I’m spending my final days among the Monarch butterflies in Pacific Grove, CA. Their life cycle dictates that they will die here in February. They have no choice. I too will die soon.  For I have rapidly progressing ALS.  There is no cure in sight and it is 100% fatal. Yet, unlike the Monarchs, I have a legal choice as to the timing of my death, at least in the state of Washington.  That choice, however, is seriously compromised in my case.

That I have a qualified choice at all is because a few years ago compassionate, progressive liberal and libertarian voters in this state approved an initiative allowing for assisted suicide, or Death with Dignity (DWD) for individuals with terminal illnesses.  Problem is, the level of assistance is minimal. It has to be self-administered. So ‘assisted’ is a misnomer.  It renders the law completely useless for those who most need it.

In those few states, neighboring Oregon being one of them, statistics show the annual exercise of DWD to be in the low single digits.  Most people with terminal illnesses don’t consider it out of ignorance or for religious reasons. (more…)

The Barbara Tree

February 16, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Family, Robert C. Koehler

How Do We Face the Future Against Impossible Odds?

by Robert C. Koehler

My daughter went jogging to the lake. When she came back, she reported: “Dad, someone hung a bird in the Barbara tree.”

When I went out to investigate, sure enough, it was still there, a brightly painted, reddish-orange papier-mâché bird, daggling on a wire from a low branch.

I live in the far north corner of Chicago, half a mile from Lake Michigan. Some years ago, I donated money to the Chicago Park District and they planted a tree of my choosing (a linden) in honor of my late wife. This is the Barbara tree, which I visit regularly. It has no plaque announcing its name or status; it’s just a tree, barely more than a sapling, standing on a tiny rise in Loyola Park, overlooking the lake. About 12 feet away stands the Fred tree, a silver maple, planted in honor of my sister’s late husband, who died a year and a half after Barbara did. Both died of cancer.

I haven’t written about these deaths, or the nature of grief, in a long time. Life goes on, unfolding unpredictably every day. My long-ago sense of irreplaceable loss has been given over, in many ways, to the tree, to life, to my grown-up kid, to the column I write and to a wary optimism that love is shaping the future despite so many reports to the contrary. (more…)

Of Humans and Rights

May 20, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, David Swanson, Politics

Let’s Celebrate Life and Liberty, Not Death and Dehumanization

by David Swanson

U.S. newspapers sometimes print what they call the total death count from one or more of our wars, and all the dead who are listed are Americans.  They aren’t all the Americans.  They don’t include contractors or suicides or various other categories of dead Americans.  They certainly don’t include those who died for lack of basic needs while we dumped half of our public treasury into wars.

But they also don’t include anyone from that 95% of humanity that’s not from the United States.  In our current wars, well over 95% of the dead, even in the short-term, are from the countries where the wars are fought.  Some get labeled combatants and some civilians, but they’re all left out of most body counts, and when they are counted they are counted low.  Our government pretends not to count them at all, and only thanks to Wikileaks do we know otherwise, that the military has counted some of them. (more…)

Grape Popsicle

April 12, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Family, Mary Sojourner

Savoring the Perfection in Every Moment

by Mary Sojourner

This is Eskimo Nell’s story.  I barely know her.  We met at a gem and mineral show in the Little America hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona at least fifteen years ago.  I have not seen her since then.

I bought a raw opal from her.  She gave me two more for free — a brown opal and a sunfire.  She had dug them from her little claim in Australia.

The brown opal was the size of the nail on my fourth finger.  It was a tiny puddle of glint, green and pale blue against the rough brown of its matrix.

The sun fire opal was a rough blue cylinder no bigger than the first joint of my little finger.  The surface was matte.  She had chipped off a sliver so the gleaming interior was visible.  “Put it in water,” she said, “and set it in a window in natural light. That way you’ll see the fire.”

I can’t remember the nature of the third opal.  I think I gave it to someone — a gift beyond measure. (more…)