Rants and Observations
We retired to a developing country, as many do. We chose Costa Rica.
Our lifestyle here includes employing people to help with the garden and the house. If we have resolvable health issues, we deal with them.
We keep fit by going to various classes and walking. My, time is spent writing books. Friends play games or have BBQs for other gringos.
In the past weeks, a Tico neighbor had a heart attack. His family were crying because there was no food.
As we enjoy our healthy walk, we see Nicaraguan workers and Ticos, some in their 80s hacking away at the sugar cane. In the coffee season, whole families, kids included, load onto tractors to do the work. Each one needs to support their family.
We read that in the USA, the greatest country in the world according to some, most people are one health problem away from Poverty. That is equally true in Costa Rica, unless you are a member of the privileged elite.
Ticos we know, are queued for long periods with chronic health issues. Gringos we know are able to work the system to get priority, even though they arrived relatively recently.
By what circumstance of birth and luck do we deserve to live as we do here? How should Ticos feel about, we strange beings who do not need to work.
Should we be surprised that our houses are being robbed and behind the facade many dislike gringos?
Part 2 (Part 1 appears below)
Asian gurus agree that we should focus on the present. The past exists only in a person's faulty memory. The future is just imagination.
Memoirs can be pretty boring unless the relevant person has done something extraordinary or is well known. Few others are worth reading, unless they resonate with one's own life in some way or are funny. Too many writers have the overarching egos to think others will be interested in their mundane stories.
Because of this, I am writing a book containing only funny incidents from my own travels and experiences. 'Memories from a Misspent Life.' The rest of my existence is only relevant to me. Much of it is sordid, warped and unfortunate.
I was advised to write everything and edit out the non-funny parts. This was an extremely bad idea. It is driving me into a depressed and psychotic state.
The problem is that from the perspective of old age, you can see how earlier events led inexorably from one bad or good thing to the next. Life is like a Pascal's triangle made into a pegboard. A metal ball is inserted between the top two pegs of the apex of the triangle resting on its base. Each row on the way down has an additional two pegs. As gravity pulls the ball down, it randomly passes down a route, till it pops out between two pegs among those at the bottom at the bottom. The particular route and exit are a matter of pure chance.
There is no going back. Once a route is started, the path forward towards the bottom is limited. Oh the errors made, the misery caused, the hurt to others that can never be repaired.
Knowing that depression can be caused by desperately trying to change the past is little consolation. Dwelling on the trauma, pain and heartache one has created is extremely harmful to mental health.
Delve into the darkest chapters of your past at your peril!
Unless that is you want to go completely barking mad, like my favourite artist. Salvador Dali. He developed a technique in which he drove himself into a paranoiac state. Well, it served him well. Maybe I should continue down that route?
Be careful! Writing can change your life Part 1
When in a youth drama group, I learnt method acting. Essentially, you put yourself in the place of the character and try to become that person. If you are doing it well, it spills over into daily life. The power of the approach came to me when I wanted to be the snarling, lycanthropic Duke of Amalfi in Webster’s play. I can still do lots of snarling and have even been known to bay the moon.
It is likely that the approach works by neuroplasticity, changing the neurological pathways in our brains. There may well be long term effects.
Well-practiced method acting can confuse polygraphs. You believe in the truth you have learnt.
About the time I adopted the pseudonym Aaron Aalborg, I began to apply the approach to writing. It is ‘method writing’, if you will.
The result was that I was developing multiple personalities. They varied according to the nature of my characters. One that is more stable is the personality of Aaron himself. He has crazy ideas.
So far, Aaron is restrained from acting on most of them by getting them into the text. Writing is therapy for what may be dangerous psychological disorder.
Brexit- Imagine, you are negotiating selling your house. You have a fair market price in mind. Various family members start shouting to the buyer.
"The dry rot will eat the place when we leave."
"That price is ridiculously high. Offer half as much."
"Wait till he is dead. I'll let you have it for nothing."
Then they blame the negotiator for not getting a good deal.
A writers' group had an excellent meeting this week.
-Listening to others’ readings always triggers new ideas for me
- We discussed how to avoid causing offence to persons living or dead. We misanthropes, doing exactly this. Unfortunately, there are sound reasons for curbing our malevolent desires.
One contributor shared that ‘Writers have no friends.’ This is due to them describing real people and experiences, whether in novels or nonfiction.
Group members shared that:
- The living might sue. One person suggested that hitmen might avoid libelling the living. At least we hope he was joking.
- In some countries, even the families of the dead might litigate for damages to the family reputation. In Costa Rica, for example a defense that works elsewhere, veritas, (truth), is irrelevant. Even if true and already published in the media, damaging a person’s or company’s reputation can result in a criminal libel conviction and jail. Legal costs are normally substantial and defending oneself can be a lengthy distraction.
- Relatives of the dead might be mortally offended or upset. That might be jolly too, but if they are family members the writer might be shunned.
Ways of avoiding these problems were shared:
- The usual disclaimer that any resemblance of the characters to persons living or dead is just coincidence.
- Changing names, locations and other details (Difficult for non-fiction).
- Adding an unpalatable characteristic, so that no one would want to claim it was them. An example might be that the character had an amazingly tiny penis.
Consulting those you are writing about was considered a bad idea. They would be alerted to what you intend to publish and attack. They are likely to want to alter what is being said. One person was kind enough to point out that as so few read many of our books we need not worry.
My novels are based on real people and events. Genders and locations are changed. I also blend characters together.