Saturday, July 30, 2016


It was when I was listening to Herman Koch in interview that a truth appeared to me in all its simplicity. Colm Toibin had, in fact, appraised me of the same truth in a similar styled interview, but at that time I hadn't thought of it as some sort of universal truth; rather a fact about his own mother and no more than that.

The more I hear novelists speak the more apparent it becomes that we all tend to do, more or less, the same thing. We observe people, very closely. Observing closely as we tend to do, characters for stories form. In my own case, the starting point is a name. The character simply must have a name and I spend considerable time on that, sometimes changing the name somewhere into the story because I didn't get that right in the first place.

A character is, generally speaking, a composite of a few different people, but not always. Sometimes, someone fascinates us so much that we more or less steal that person's personhood for our book character. I've been in endless discussions about the morality of this behaviour but in the end the consensus lies in the fact that it is fiction. When writing fiction you can get away with an awful lot.

However, I have been plagued with doubt at times at the correctness of this position and my main fear is that I should hurt that person. I had a small character for a chapter not yet written based on a real person but was being held back by that thought, until I discovered she had died and this opened the door, I felt, to write the character as I wanted to write her.

It was Koch together with Toibin who made it clear that scruples are entirely unnecessary, for this one reason. You can write the real life person just as they are, all the nastiness in full glory, and guess what? They won't have a clue that you have written about them. People often don't have the vaguest insight into their foibles and downfalls and won't pick them up in your novel. Now, maybe someone who knows them might wonder, might point it out to them, but in all likelihood even then they won't see themself in the character. Isn't that absolutely fascinating?

In Toibin's case, his mother came to him to register her complaint that he had used a habit of hers. Instead of setting the table for the family as all good Irish mothers did at the time, she had a habit of throwing the cutlery into the middle of the table and the children would fetch their set from the pile. She was most upset that he should have a character do this. Colm's response: 'And in the whole novel, in which you abound, that's what you noticed???'

It tickles my fancy. It terrifies me that we have so little self-awareness.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The mystery of desire

When I think about themes or ideas for stories that old theme of 'desire' comes up again and again. In the spiritual world desire is a bit of a dirty word, since the understanding that desire holds us back is considered to be fundamental to a spiritual awakening. Nevertheless, it's there, isn't it; the desire for some sort of intangible feeling of satisfaction, glow; vibrancy.  I don't narrow my thoughts about desire to a sexual experience because desire can be satiated in the head, the heart and the soul as well as in the loins.

To digress for a moment, I've been thinking about poetry lately and how those with a mathematical mind, or a musical mind are probably best suited to writing poetry rather than narratives, long pieces of writing. My mind doesn't work like that, rather soaring over ideas and then needing to write something down to make sense of them; almost to 'catch' them, or better yet, to contain them; put them in some sort of order, sentences. Nevertheless, thinking about poetry my mind played with two words: desire and admire.

I thought about what I desire. What came to mind was closeness, mystery (opposites!), puzzles, the other's focus. I also desire to admire. Whilst on an intellectual level it's obvious that we all fail sometimes and that we all have our failings, it's a downer for me to come up close and personal with them. Falling in love is such a wonderful experience because for those giddy months/years we can put the other on some sort of pedestal and study them with awe, much as we might study the Statue of David endlessly and find it perfect. It's quite a jolt when, on closer inspection, we might come to see a crack. We don't like it, not at all, because now the illusion is shattered and we find ourselves in the company of someone who disappoints. (N.B. I get that ideally a person loves, accepts and embraces a person, warts and all, but I'm dealing right now with what we think deep inside of our minds rather than what is ideal love.)

I wonder if this is why some people hold back from being known; that understanding that we desire to admire. Or, perhaps there is some other reason why some people are happy to be known whilst other people give so little of themselves but expect others to be quite transparent; an imbalance in the relationship.

Here's one of my failings. I much prefer to be handled than to handle. It's an imbalance that my husband considers unfair and unreasonable, which is why I try to push out of my comfort zone. He tries to push me out of my comfort zone too but relents when he sees how truly uncomfortable it is for me. I wish to be taken, to be revealed. I seek to reveal because when I reveal it is such a rare and liberating event. I am private, not privy to revelation (except here in an anonymous sense) and so to reveal is special. I offer it as a gift and hope that the receiver wants to experience what I have to reveal.

I have wondered if it is a dominant thing, or a male thing, or something else altogether as to why some people do not wish to reveal, rather encouraging the other to do that 'work'. Perhaps they enjoy the imbalance; the urging of revelations. Perhaps, through relevation of another person's mind, they have material with which to work; to tittilate, to seduce and to torment...

Back in the day when I was working at a financial institution a full size cardboard cut out was made of one of the Managers. He was smiling and looked personable. The idea was that customers who saw the cardboard full size cut out would get a sense that to ask for a loan from this person would be a pleasant, non-threatening experience.

My boss referred to the cardboard cut out as a "cardboard cut out of a cardboard cut out". What he meant was that behind the facade of the cut out was a person of no real substance. He wasn't hiding anything. There was nothing more to know. It was a naughty thing to say because everyone has a story, but perhaps it is possible that we ask to know more of someone and they refuse not because they are being difficult but because they simply have nothing to say, or they feel they have nothing more to say, or such a conversation bores them. They want to know about you because that interests them, or it is in their interests.

In the interests of doing my bit to save the world from a most unpalatable and even dangerous experience I note that Tony Schwarz who 'co-wrote' 'The Art of the Deal with/for Donald Trump has revealed that Trump was an impossible subject to interview. He offered next to nothing to the process of Schwarz gathering information about him and his business/life via asking him questions. Trump's answers were more or less monosyllabic. It was so useless an exercise that it was agreed that Schwarz would listen in on Trump's phone conversations at a desk just a couple of feet away from Trump and gleam what he could of the man and his deals in that way. Make of this what you will.

Could it be that desire emanates from mystery, the unknown? You tell all to someone and they eventually tire and move on, a phenomena of the current dating scene, I'm told, whereas they tell next to nothing to you. The mystery in which they enshroud themselves provides the hook for you to remain interested; perhaps forever, if you enjoy puzzles enough.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Working on yourself

I first came to know of Ram Dass when I saw him in a UTube clip in discussion with Eckhart Tolle, perhaps a year ago now. In 1997 Ram Dass suffered a stroke and in the clip I watched his speech was quite labored, slow and deliberate. So, I found it remarkable that the presentation was having such a profound effect on me. I immediately felt that I was watching someone with huge presence.

Perhaps seeing how Ram Dass has suffered - confined to a  wheelchair and with difficulty finding the right words and speaking them - made the words he did manage to speak very relateable to me. Here was a spiritual person in action, facing the limitations of his life but still  finding great joy and meaning in his life; unstoppable. It's the resilience that I respect in the face of whatever life throws at him. Since that day I look out for Ram Dass's words and I never fail to get something very positive from them.  I saved the following words:

"I think in relationships, you create an environment with your own work on yourself, which you offer to another human being to use to grow in the way they need to grow. Parents are environments for their children, lovers are an environment for their partners.
You keep working – you become the soil – moist and soft and receptive so the person can grow the way they need to grow, because how do you know how they should grow."

 I suspect that for some people of a dominant frame of mind, those who want to be responsible for and to control another person in a power dynamic relationship, there is an innate sense that they are creating the environment for their partner. It's not quite what Ram Dass had in mind, but a dominant is, in the best scenarios, creating an environment for (positive) change and/or growth.

Possibly force or strict demands are in place, and the dominant person would argue that this is entirely necessary and viable since they want the other person to change and grow in ways that please him or her, and/or in ways that would be best for the submissive and the relationship as a whole.

Is this the way this particular person should grow, was meant to grow? No-one can really answer this question, except, maybe, to say that the person is happier now under the dominant's tutelage; getting happier and more content all the time. It's hard to argue with happiness. But, let's try.

I think it is fair to say that we are all on our own particular and unique journeys through life. I like to say (to myself) that we are all walking each other home because as I get older and have been on this planet for longer, that is exactly how it feels to me. Some of us evolve towards an inner wisdom and calm within ourselves, perhaps an innate understanding of the whole process of life and death, and some of us do not go close to thinking about it much at all. Some of us are 'go go go' and some of us are introspective types. We are where we are at any place in time. It is as it is. We learn when we learn, or we don't learn much at all in this particular life. Or, maybe we are not all meant to learn much. Who knows for sure?

For many years I had a hard time with feeling that I was 'right' about something and yet I struggled to influence 'the other'. This is a tough place in marriage because a very bad decision effects both people, and the family. I don't so much blame this situation on a power dynamic dilemma as on my own limitations to have a voice and to assert my boundaries. I have such a strong desire to hand over decision making to the other that I reneged on my responsibility to say forcefully enough, when I vehemently disagreed with a decision, that I could not offer my support. This is a huge mistake and one that I won't make again. I have learned to speak my truth when necessary.

Having said that, I am the person I am, and I am in a power dynamic relationship of sorts. If push comes to shove I know I must withold my support when I absolutely disagree. Other than that, I have not found it helpful to insist, or even to expect, change or growth. For a time people will change a bit for you, if they must, but their strongest tendency is to return to their default position, to be their natural selves as they have evolved so far in time. The only person you can really change in a permanent sort of way is yourself.

This is not to say that there are no other tactics at your disposal because to change yourself is to create an environment for growth in the other. This is what Ram Dass is eluding to. When you create an environment where you grow, where you are receptive and open to the other's individuality, the other grows too. This is what I focus on.

To talk in generalities isn't helpful so I'll get specific. Over several weeks I've felt quite isolated. My husband is immersed in a project and is working particularly long hours, highly highly focused on it. This focus is 7 days a week, day and night. For a while I'm supportive and understanding but quietly, silently, over time, I become dejected. I need contact. When he doesn't provide it, I tend to isolate myself from him both emotionally and physically, as if to convince myself that it is less painful to go my own way. It isn't less painful at all and inside my own head I can feel myself breaking down, trying hard to find the patience and tolerance for his hyperfocus, but eventually and inevitably unable  to be a superhuman who is not troubled or effected by this behaviour of a spouse.

My mind tends to flirt with the worst scenarios. I imagine that he might become very ill through this overwork. I try to imagine my life without him. I can even imagine in moments that I would be in a better place on my own, not having to have these particularly painful thoughts and experiences of abandonment, or what feels like emotional abandonment to me.

Knowing that I cannot do anything to change his behaviour, certainly not permanently (see above) I began to meditate daily and to get closely in touch with my headspace. I acknowledged not just the difficult emotions that come with a sense of abandonment but I also investigated, through quiet, close observation of my thoughts and bodily reactions, where the thoughts came from. They came through fear.

I fear that things that have happened will happen again. I fear that there will be no growth, no change. I fear that we are stuck in 'park'. I fear that his behaviour is in a set pattern; rigid and dull. I fear that he simply does not know how to live life differently. I fear that, refusing to acknowledge or address his ADD symptoms, we simply can't advance to a more joyful and balanced state together.

Co-incidentally, my husband ruffed me up a bit on the couch two nights ago. He has this way of discombobulating me in the nicest of ways; reminding me that I am loved and belong, that I am safe. He told me a little of his plans, what he has in train, and whilst I can't be the eternal optimist that he is able to be; the resilient never-say-die guy that he is; I felt momentarily better just knowing that he is that guy and he's my guy and it will all be all right in the end, one way or the other.

Maybe, through the meditation and the calmness I achieved there, as well as an understanding of that fear that sits in my bones, I created the environment for him to approach me the way he did. And, maybe, by him approaching me the way he did, I was able to reach out to him in the middle of the night and embrace him, taking the chance that I'd wake him when he was dog tired. He told me on the phone just now not to worry about waking him, just to get the love I need when I need it.

These are small, but significant changes. The best I feel I can do is to create an environment for him to grow as he was meant to grow; not to grow as I would want him to grow for me, but to grow as he was meant to grow; to be his best self. I'm not in control here. Nor is he in control of how I was meant to grow. All he can do is create an environment to the best of his ability and focus where I can be as I was meant to be.

He most likely won't achieve perfection in my eyes and nor will I achieve perfection in his eyes. But, in respecting our uniqueness we are creating a space of belonging to one another at the same time as we walk our own paths through life and learn as we learn. There is a mismatch, there is no denying this. I continue to find ways to look at the mismatch and to work with and respect our different ways of operating in the world. I'm never going to stop wanting affection and tenderness in a regular sort of way and he is never going to stop needing a lot of his energy to be focused on his business life.

In many ways it is not unlike parenthood. A child is born and we experience its personality and traits. We, as parents of that child have a duty to honour that particular child; to appreciate the child as a unique being and to provide an environment for the child to grow as he or she was meant to grow. We steer the child this way or that, but if we are wise, we study the strengths and remind the child of those strengths at the same time as we quietly work with the weaknesses. We respect that the child has his or her own path to walk, not the path that we think is best. We accept the package at the same time as we provide a safe and nourishing place of shelter where the child may flourish with integrity.

I'd like to think that there are plenty of people out there who consider Ram Dass's thoughts before they take on the responsibility of a submissive, or a child. If the Dominant can't work on himself, or herself, to create an environment where their submissive can grow as she or he should, then what is created within the bond may have a false value.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

It is what it is

Back in the early 80s I felt moved to buy a book simply entitled 'Emotions'. I haven't spotted it for many years but I think it is still on a book shelf somewhere. Thinking back, I must have been trying to understand my emotional states from a young age.

I do remember in that era feeling my emotions very intensely - love, anger, frustration, happiness. I remember one lunchtime standing at a pedestrian crossing and looking up the hill of Collins Street and feeling a burst of light-headed happiness at simply being alive in that moment, in that spot, on Earth. There was no particular reason for the onset of that emotion. It simply came over me.

I also remember, in that same era, being very disappointed one day by someone's behaviour. I remember going outside in my little garden and sitting on a chair and not moving at all for an hour; just trying, by way of complete stillness, to overcome my deep feelings of discombobulation and despair.

I have made a study of these emotional states, mainly because I aim not to feel life so intensely. I am not trying to mitigate the positive emotions; the swell in my chest when the sun finally made an appearance this morning after weeks of grey sky and rain, or the delight I experienced when on my walk yesterday I came upon a group of young children making a film.

However, I really could do without the derailing emotional moments when I might feel, that if only some people could behave a little more like I wished they would behave, life would be so much better. I hope you smiled when you read that last sentence because I do understand how silly that sounds. But, it would, wouldn't it, be so lovely if people didn't disappoint us?! I've struggled with this so, of wishing for change that isn't likely to come.

I did a meditation with a group last night and in the group was a young man I know who has a touch of Aspbergers. I am not sure if this is typical of the condition but he was saying that he came in for a session with a healer type of person when he realized that the mayhem he had caused in a group of friends didn't trouble him. He realized that the fact that he wasn't troubled by what he had done, didn't feel guilty, wasn't right, and so he chose to do something about it. I think that is quite an evolved state. So many other people would choose denial, or defence, against their behaviour.

It's frustrating to me to feel that sometimes I am speaking another language; that my choice of words are not really going to make a difference to the outcome. I'm just not going to get through to some people. I struggle with the fact that they are not going to change. At all.

Years ago, going through a dilemma, I remember saying, 'Just tell me when it will end. If you can give me a finishing date then I can work towards that.' I meant that I wanted an idea as to how long I needed to hold on. The thought of being in turmoil endlessly was too much, so just tell me how long I need to be brave, and then I can measure it, control it, contain it; make do.

As time has gone by I have come to realize that some things don't actually change because it doesn't occur to people that they need to change. 'Oh, that's Mary' someone will say. Or, 'Jack is always late'. Or, 'Sally always put herself first'. Or, 'Meg would do anything for you. She's always been like that.' If you wait for someone to change to suit your specifications, you'll be waiting a long time.

I sat and contemplated my frustration for a time yesterday. I could feel the frustration sitting in my chest; bubbles of upset that refused to scatter. It became apparent over the day that being still wouldn't help me so I called the dog and off we went for a long walk. It's my own expectations and hope for change that causes me such grief. It's a sense of 'acceptance' that brings me peace; acknowledging the constancy of behaviours.

I understand that communication is considered the key to people coming to a mutually acceptable outcome, but what if only one person requires change; if the only mutually acceptable outcome is that there is no change. Isn't it then official that one person is left to sit terminally with their dissatisfaction? Does the offical status make it better?

Looking for answers, I read that when frustrated it is a sign that the way you are doing something doesn't work, and that this tells you that you need to make a change in the way you are going about it. This makes sense but it doesn't speak to the notion that to expect some people to change is to bang one's head against a brick wall, no matter which strategy you use. They have to want to change themselves, not you wanting them to change. What are the chances?

So, I think the change has to come from within. Accept that some things and some people don't change. Minimize the damage to your mind. It is what it is. That feels so much better.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Emotional states

Tuesdays is my day to take my meditation cushion along to a public space where I spend an hour meditating with people looking for peace of mind. The strange thing about this experience is that I could make myself comfortable by using a chair. Nearly everyone else sits on a chair. However, being mildly uncomfortable is part of the experience for me, overcoming discomfort and finding that place in my mind where I can tolerate, and even embrace the discomfort.

It must sound odd to the man in the street, embracing the discomfort, but so many submissives do just that on a regular basis. We are bound in odd positions with rope or chains; spanked, whipped, caned. Sex is sometimes not as prescribed in romantic novels. We may not say as much, but many submissively minded people don't mind, under the right circumstances, being choked a little, pushed or shoved against a wall; manhandled in a myriad of ways. None of this is exactly...comfortable.

I can't always make it on Tuesdays, so when I do get to sit on my cushion in that public space I return to the experience in a truly heartfelt way. It feels the perfect place for me.

'Give yourself permission to relax'
'There's no-one else who needs you and nowhere else you have to be.'


In the beginning, whilst I was learning to meditate, it was a restless experience. I'd sometimes wonder how I'd ever get through the hour. It took time to accept the discomfort, the roaming thoughts and the endless calling of my mind back to the breath. Now, the empty mind transports me to a deep peace.

Like us all, I experience emotions - happiness, sadness, frustration, anger. Emotional states come and go, rise and fall, but I didn't necessarily understand them. I'd feel, say, jealousy, and feel overwhelmed by the emotion. That is, my whole physical body would be involved  - the heart would beat faster and my head would feel foggy. Potentially, I'd react to the emotion; perhaps say something that I'd regret later, or perhaps just fester inside myself. I was aware that I did not want to react that way, but I didn't always have the tools to prevent a reaction, inner or outer reaction.

Very recently, someone said something and I could feel my instantaneous reaction - a small reaction - inside myself. I would best categorize it as a 'hurt feeling'. It wasn't earth shattering at all, but I felt it. It was very real. But, instead of allowing it to overcome me, or disable me, I asked a question.

'What was that you just felt? What was that hurt feeling about?'

I explored the emotion and quickly identified it as a touch of jealousy. I would have liked to have myself what he was talking about, his experience with another woman. Interestingly, once I identified the emotion, and then why the emotion had come into my internal world; that is, once I actually went to the emotion and felt it in its entirety, I found myself able to immediately let it go. I embraced it, then dismissed it. I felt strong and empowered.

It would be impossible for me to ever have a power exchange relationship with a dominant man who wanted control, but had no interest in psychology or a spiritual life; who did not have a deep interest in the inner world of the mind. For whatever reasons I am drawn inward, to a place of peace. A dominant who had no interest in that would really have a limited repertoire to offer me. Of course, sex in particular ways is an enticing thought, but sensory deprivation in various guises thrills me to the core. An empty mind, a mind at peace, is the ultimate goal.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Macro and micro decisions

The big, wide world doesn't factor into my writing in this web journal hardly at all. However, it is nearly impossible to ignore the world stage at this time which seems to be in more flux than ever (which isn't true, of course, but it can seem that way when big changes happen overnight). England has left the EU and that has caused great disruption on the world stage. As well, there's an unabating movement of people around the world now, something that was necessary for the safety of hundreds of thousands of people. Sovereignty is a thought in people's minds. Even here in Australia, well removed from centre stage, it might well be the case that England's removal from the EU may mean that we will become a Republic sooner than later. The American elections are also a worry. Did we ever think that a candidate for President would ever make such hateful comments?

At school, I loved my history. In my final year of school I studied the French Revolution. It seemed obvious to me that if you ignored the needs of enough of the people for enough time, they'd revolt. In my US days I remember hearing a dinner guest expound a similar, rather commonsense theory really, that you should always take care of the people lest they get angry and turn their anger on you. If no other reason stirs you, then there's the case of self-interest.

We're all people, made of the same flesh and blood, but in a democratic system, some people are going to accrue a lot more than others, and achieve a lot more than others. It is the way it is, the way it has always been and will always be.  But, we all deserve to be free, safe and to pursue happiness. The Founding Fathers of America did a great service in expressing these ideals.

It is why we hold a former Prime Minister of my country in great esteem, Gough Whitlam, because he made higher education free. I'm a 'baby boomer', a product of that free education, and so are thousands of people like me. We're also very attached to the notion of 'Medicare' here; that all Australians have medical coverage via a small levy on our income. This provides Australians with a level of respect; that they all count.

Recently, in the midst of all this changing of the deck chairs on the world stage, I was in Tasmania. You can't get much further away than that, unless you want to go to Antarctica. It's such a beautiful place, a time warp too, and it did go through my mind, as it always does when I am there, that it would be a lovely place to have a cottage.

As I walked along I found myself wondering why I wanted that. Well, it would be a simple, little life in a cottage in Hobart; space, lots of walking, close to the country; fresh air, cooler summers; access to plentiful fresh food and being surrounded by fairly chilled out people. It would be safe and there would be enough culture and people engaged in creative pursuits that I wouldn't feel alone, and in fact would have plenty of people around me that I'd enjoy.

Employment wouldn't be so easy, but my cost of living would be low, and maybe I could get busy and write something that might make me a little money. Anyway, the selling of assets here would give me enough to live on. I've devoted my life to family, not a career, and that was a choice. Money initially was, but is no longer, my thing. I'm more than aware that to bring up and educate a large family you need to focus on money for a lengthy period of time.

Right now, I'm influenced by having read 'Tuesdays with Morrie' by Mitch Albom. I finished it on the plane coming home and was in tears. It's such a sad but heartwarming story. Morrie, a professor at an American college for over 30 years is dying of Lou Gehrig's disease and his old student Mitch comes to learn about life from his professor once again. He visits him regularly, on Tuesdays.

Morrie always encouraged his students to create their own culture, to reject what it was about culture that doesn't work, or doesn't work for them. He lived humbly, but he was surrounded by the books that he loved, by the family he loved and who loved him. He'd developed a faith that took account of the philosophers. He encouraged Mitch to go to the heart of all his emotions, good and bad, but then to let the emotions go. He accepted his fate, but he refused to stop living until he took his last breath.

Born into poverty in the Bronx, but blessed with a step-mother who told him that education was the way out of poverty (yes!), he worked hard and made a good life for himself and his family. He encouraged Mitch to put love first, ("love or perish") and to be involved in his community. He imparted a common sense approach to a good life. It's a quick read, but it is one of the most important reads of my life.

I was living in the US in the early 80s when Donald Trump came to my attention. I remember Ivana Trump telling a reporter that first you make the money, and then you work on attaining power. I tucked her comment behind my ear and wasn't surprised when Donald chose to run for President of the United States decades later. I can only imagine that many people in the US feel disenfranchised; disenfranchised enough in a changing world that they think he, rather than your mainstream politician, has the answers for them.

Realistically, I doubt you can turn back the clock on an era where the world is more fluid in every way. I doubt that there is any one person capable of doing this. The strictures that were in society - sexual, gender, class, race - are all being broken down over many years. Change is afoot and this can evoke fear. Trump works with 'fear'. This fact alone concerns me.

I think that for many of us change is a very scary thing, but if you take the long term view, the world has always been changing, often very slowly and imperceptibly moving towards big changes. I think we'd do well to be less anxious; to see what is common amongst us rather than focus on what is different. I think we'd do well to take a breath and settle down.

A few afternoons ago, I was driving in traffic and stopped behind a tram who was letting passengers off. A parked car beside me started tooting his horn, which seemed odd, but I assumed he wanted to join the traffic (it was dark and I couldn't make out the driver) and so as soon as I had a chance I moved forward and to the side of the tram. That is, I made way for him to enter the traffic. Unfortunately, the car behind me decided he wasn't going to co-operate and I heard a loud bang and saw in my rear vision mirror that they had collided and were now holding up all the traffic behind them.

For what good purpose did that accident happen? Was it so much of an issue to allow the man out into the traffic? Would it have taken up a split second of the time of the driver behind me? Not at all. Morrie encouraged Mitch to let drivers in; that when they honked their horn angrily to simply raise his hand and wave. I do that. I wave my thanks when given a break in traffic and hope I spread the joy. As philosophies go, even political philosophies, you could do worse than aim to spread joy; to show some heart. There's an idea.

(P.S. Having published the above, I just so happened to read this. You won't spend five minutes better.)