14 Oct
October 14, 2015

A report from the Slow Lane

Like Mystery, everything seems to be shot through with wonder! The spaciousness that flows from these places, within all parts of reality, leaves me breathless. I am disturbed, by living within so much magnificent mystery. Because this is so, I’m finding it harder and harder to think and comment about anything. Probability seems to dictate that no matter how I look, or which way my attention is drawn, I behold a certain amount of wondrous uncertainty. Its all so much, so mysteriously undetermined, while being solid, that I wonder if I can even sensibly write about it.

Reflecting, as I am, on this aspect of my experience, and trying to find words for it, is, no doubt, part of the foolishness I was born with. Somehow, without any intention on my part, I’ve become aware of something so thoroughly palpable because it isn’t there. I mean, rather crazily I’m sure, that what isn’t there is what seems to accompany what is. And, even more strangely, gives it shape, dimension and meaning.

I was never prepared for this kind of perception. And it seems, that uttering anything about it is hopeless. Still, I keep thinking that there should be someway to talk about it. There seems to be something about reality that contains a probabilistic something that keeps everything connected and free. How is that possible! I don’t know, but I have noticed. The perception thrills me, and it leaves me befuddled. I can’t adequately articulate this aspect of my reality, yet it is so awesome I can’t ignore it either. I feel compelled to share it, and at the same time, I am aware that I am not really able to describe it.

So, what am I talking about? I can’t really say. I am trying not to use, over and over again, the words mystery, uncertainty, wonder and unknown. They need a rest, and only dimly refer to what vibrates in the background. I want to convey, and hear other’s perceptions about, this quick-silver facet of each moment, because somehow sharing such befuddlement is deeply reassuring. Maybe that’s what I’m doing here, noticing the wonder that keeps my heart beating.

Anyway, it seems like, in my dottage, this awareness has come on stronger than any past point of my life. I have a mixed reaction to this awareness. I love it. It seems so freeing. I have been released from all assumptions about what is going on here. Simultaneously, I feel a sense of foreboding. It is making me a more eccentric old man. I am being herded by Life into a smaller and smaller corral. Becoming more unique, is hard on a social animal, like me.

All I can say, honestly, is that I am growing more and more impressed by the sense of wonder growing in me.  My life is changing. I can feel it. Maybe this is death setting in, or maybe, I’m finally coming to Life. I no longer can say. Whatever is happening, is unbidden, I know that, or do I, maybe in my childhood, I called in this late-life sense of wonder. All I seem to know now, is that the flow is carrying me, through this canyon, where the walls are made up of a kaleidoscopic experience that bedazzles and befuddles me.

I could say Life is wondrous. That seems true. Putting that awareness alongside of my awareness of how cruel, destructive, hateful and arbitrary Life can be, leaves me on-edge. I teeter between hope and hopelessness. I don’t know why I can see all of this, but I do. Some days it hurts, some days I feel so lucky. All I can really say, and think, is, isn’t it a wonder!?


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For more pieces like this, go to www.elderssalon.blogspot.com (2010 thru 2013) and http://www.elderssalon2.blogspot.com  (2014 on)

To hear archived versions of our radio program Growing An Elder Culture go to www.elderculture.com

To read excerpts, or otherwise learn, about Embracing Life: Toward A Psychology of Interdependence go to http://www.davidgoff.net


Thoughts From My $499/day LTC Bed

23 Sep
September 23, 2015

I’m back at Phoebe Ministries for another round of recuperative therapy and rehab following my third pneumonia smack-down in as many years. Phoebe, located in Allentown, PA stands as a testament to the concept that skilled nursing care is not an oxymoron. Yes, the food still leaves something to be desired (I was here exactly one year ago), but the people are nothing short of amazing – I’ve never met more dedicated, helpful and happy aides, nurses, doctors and admin staff. I highly recommend the 100+ year-old Christian chronic care/rehab community.


I watched the 3-hour Republican candidate’s debate. It was delicious. “The Donald” was as entertaining as always in his clown campaign to save democracy from itself. And he appears to be succeeding.


Almost everyone I’ve ever shared my dreams with has described (in detail) what I’ll call the “ill-prepared test” scenario as a recurrent theme. That’s where you find yourself walking into a classroom with a sinking feeling that you failed to study for an immanent exam (My version of the dream includes me standing in my underwear) . I find it surprising that so many successful baby boomers seem to share a gene for this kind of self-repression slumber. Any comments?

Same Ol’ Same Ol’

19 Aug
August 19, 2015

download (1)

LGBT equality groups getting shut out of Pope Francis meeting in Philadelphia

Washington Post

LGBT groups planning events in Philadelphia around a massive Catholic family gathering there next month – which Pope Francis will attend – say the parish hosting them has reneged after a conversation with local Catholic officials. The news Tuesday follows the announcement by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput that people advocating for gay equality would not be given a platform at the World Meeting of Families, a once-every-three-years global meeting about family issues in the church.


This post addresses the uncertain post-Windsor legal landscape from the perspective of LGBT elders and older adults. The demise of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) has enhanced access to federal benefits, but it has also increased the complexity that LGBT individuals and their families face as they begin to plan for retirement and beyond. Additionally, marriage equality-even when it is recognized nationwide-will not help LGBT elders and older adults tackle many of the obstacles they face when trying to navigate the challenges of aging. Fully addressing these challenges will require comprehensive legal reform and social change that includes greater recognition for chosen family, legal protections that span the life course, and broad-based cultural competency awareness with respect to LGBT aging and related issues.



23 Jul
July 23, 2015

There is a well-established relationship between Parkinson’s Disease and mental illness.

I know.

After 20 years of Parkinson, and a life-altering medication mistake by an Emergency Room physician, I’ve endured my share of neuro-psychiatric demons.

I’ve also felt it’s a truism that the “creative brain is a troubled brain,” but I’ve never had the science to back it up.

Until now.

A genetic link between creativity and psychiatric illnesses


The idea of a link between “madness” and “genius”, no doubt brings to mind a few notable examples: Vincent Van Gogh, the recently deceased John Nash, Virgina Woolf, the list goes on. Added to this, previous studies have shown that psychiatric disorders tend to run in families where creative professions are prominent. Despite the seemingly obvious connection of psychiatric illness to creativity, scientists have not been able to pinpoint whether the association is due to common genes or simply shared environmental factors. That is, until a recent study published in Nature Neuroscience found a common genetic link between creativity and the development of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, implying the underlying mental processes also partly overlap. The results were based on an analysis of genetic data from 86,292 people in Iceland; revealing genetic risk scores for both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were significantly higher among those defined as ‘creative’.
Would you be defined as ‘creative’?

Researchers define ‘creativity’ as someone who takes “novel approaches requiring cognitive processes that are different from prevailing modes of thought or expression.” In the study by Power et al., creative individuals were defined as those belonging to the national artistic societies of actors, dancers, musicians, visual artists and writers.
Does this answer the age-old question of “nature vs. nurture” for certain psychiatric illnesses? The answer to this question may best be put into words by the author himself, Dr. Robert A. Power: “Our findings suggest that creative people may have a genetic predisposition toward thinking differently which, when combined with other harmful biological or environmental factors, could lead to mental illness.”
Power et al. (June 2015). Polygenic risk scores for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder predict creativity. Nat Neurosci.






The Family Of Man

15 Jul
July 15, 2015


As we stand on the brink of extinction, we become mindful.

In a Petri Dish, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with seven billion, we become mindful.

Living in a house of cards, whose foundation is the threat of terror and the fear of scarcity, we become mindful.

Watching children become joy-resistant strains of self-detonating predators, we become mindful.

In a country where 6% of the planet’s population own over 50% of its wealth – and are chronically unhappy – we become mindful.

In an Oval Office where the name of the Nazarene is passed around like Pez; and biblical scholars and theologians search in vain for the elusive reference to collateral damage, we become mindful.

In the offices of corporations who turn shares of Plough into swords; and men with tiny hearts live on glaciers of ambition, we become mindful.

Seeking refuge in the unity of nations, we turn to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, only to discover they are the world’s five largest arms dealers, we become mindful.

In becoming mindful, we rise above our feral nature to discover the the pure, inexhaustible waters of compassion, and learn to turn that stream of compassion inward.

In becoming mindful, we open ourselves to transcendent hope: kernels of human potential and opportunity that exist in the vortex of challenge and adversity.

In time, mindfulness becomes an indefatigable commitment to wisdom, personal courage and self discovery despite the psychotic brutality of terrorism: the ultimate act of anti-evolution.

The Family of Man reaches out like an empty hand to remind us of a simple truth: the source of our greatest strength is without shape or form, subject neither to birth nor death. And that which is beyond birth and death is also beyond terror. And no IED or car bomb in the universe will ever alter that.


16 Jun
June 16, 2015

Joy Loverde

Virtually every day for the last ten years – barring overextended itineraries(hers) or medical emergencies(mine) – I log into Skype about 6:00 AM EST  and place a call to my dearest friend on the planet – Joy Loverde.  Author of The Complete Eldercare Planner. This successful author, mother and eldercare advocate is not only my friend; but over the last decade our friendship has blossomed, like a special flower, rooted in mud and pond scum, to rise through murky waters and become a Lotus.

A couple of  weeks ago, she configured her smart phone to stream video and treated me to a visit at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo – just two blocks from her home. I enjoyed the virtual tour immensely, especially in the moments that this fearless woman spent with the zebra, lion and tiger. As we approached the protective barrier for each animal, they seemed to stop what they were doing and focus completely on Joy. What I’ve learned from this amazing woman is the topic for another post.


Today, I’d like to introduce you to David Goff’s Salient Risk.

Salient Risk

A report from the Slow Lane

There is only one way I know that takes my worries and anxieties and turns them into growth and maturation. This is a move that, in my mind , is equivalent to turning a pile of straw into gold. This, however, is not a DavD-tale task, it is a real-life escape into freedom. When it comes to living fully, balls out, gut-extending, risking, then I think that one has to make an intentional effort. And when one does, by actually going to bat for oneself, then one has to use their head and come up with something I call “salient risk.”

A salient risk is one that is personally cooked-up for the express purpose of putting one’s sense of self on the line. The personal part is where the salience lives. This is the kind of risk-taking that can only come from the inside out. That makes it a rare form of risk, which many people have a hard time conceiving of. It takes self-knowledge. Real self-knowledge, not the kind made-up to make oneself feel good, but the kind that unfailingly haunts one, with more than one wants to know about one’s self. This kind of self-knowing, the kind that isn’t based on certainty, resides in our self-doubts.

It is not-knowing, feeling greatly uncertain, being dubious even, about one’s own character, which makes this form of risking so powerful, and so on-target. There is a hair-raising, harrowing quality, that is extremely germane, central even (to one’s fears), that empowers this kind of risk-taking. It is like a ropes course, only without the safety harnesses and nets. People go to this extreme, in themselves, because they love the idea of being themselves. And one cannot find out who one is without salient risks.

This is the self-administered test, the one where there is really doubt about the outcome. Strangely, the benefits that come from this kind of risk-taking, are exactly proportional to the amount of uncertainty aroused by it. This is both the confidence-builder, and the test for hubris. The good news is that one gets a better, more accurate picture of reality no matter what. Simply risking everything, throwing one’s self into the grave, has the paradoxical impact, of strengthening the self. So, one of the best formula for growing the self is putting it to the test through salient risk-taking.

I first came up with the idea of salient risk when I was learning about ways of undermining chronic anxiety. You know, the “what-if” stuff that keeps one anticipating some disastrous future. I found that a burst of acute anxiety, anxiety grounded in the reality of the moment, had an effect upon one’s ability to tolerate chronic anxiety, so it didn’t tend to run the show. The effect is, that by weathering the storm, the spike of real in-the-moment acute (higher than usual) anxiety, one develops one’s tolerance for anxiety, and this feels like being less anxious. There isn’t really any important change in one’s level of chronic anxiety, but there is a new level of tolerance of anxiety, and this translates subjectively into a greater confidence.

I didn’t know it yet, but I had stumbled into a discovery of the emotional immune system. It turns out, that each of us is equipped, by Nature’s providence, with an on-board system for dealing with the emotional character of this ride through Life. In other words, each of us can become more solid, and resilient, by looking for anxiety-provoking circumstances of the right magnitude, and putting ourselves through them. Later, I realized this was a kind of self-building process. After that, I have been on the look-in for these kind of opportunities.

Maturation, it turns out, is partly self-directed. We are all like our cousins, the salmon. It is our desire to be all that we can be, that takes us out to sea, but it is the even greater desire to fully be ourselves, which draws us back to the source. Risking ourselves is how we swim and develop the capacity to deal with obstacles.

We live in a society that doesn’t provide many ladders, that has very little idea of the source, that doesn’t easily regard inner evolution. So it is up to each of us, to create for ourselves the wherewithal to turn ourselves free. The real ladders, desire and source are all within. Salient risk unlocks the inner door, and each of us must muster the courage, in the face of the pressing unknown, to motivate ourselves, and enter.

There are no free lunches. There is no ride through life, where Life itself, doesn’t ask things of us. Salient risk-taking is one of those things. One can live without it, but how one lives, and how much of Life one embraces, depends upon the saliency of the risking involved


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For more pieces like this, go to  http://www.elderssalon2.blogspot.com  (2014 on)

To hear archived versions of our radio program Growing An Elder Culture go to www.elderculture.com

To read excerpts, or otherwise learn, about Embracing Life: Toward A Psychology of Interdependence go to http://www.davidgoff.net



09 Jun
June 9, 2015

Voices by Martin Bayne
Wikipedia | NY Times | Washington Post | Health Affairs

Recently, I had an insight that has changed the way I think, feel, and respond to nearly every component of long-term care.

It all began during a conversation I had five days ago with a fellow resident we’ll call ‘RF’, a woman in her mid-90s who was having significant assisted living transition issues — loneliness, helplessness, and despair had become her 24/7 companions. At some point in the conversation, she folded her hands in her lap, looked me in the eye and said, “I appreciate your kindness, but all I really want to do is die.”

In previous conversations with others, when I’d reached this juncture, it was as if a black hole event horizon had been breached – and deep within the canyons of my mind, klaxons sounded and a loud voice repeated the warning:

 “DANGER – Possible Suicide Risk. Proceed with caution. Notify the proper medical authorities.”

But the shouting never materialized.

Not five days ago. Not yesterday. Not today.

Why? I haven’t a clue. All I know is my inner voice has changed. Yes, there’s still a voice. There’s still plenty of ‘back-chatter’, a vast array of demons still occupy my cranial space, but it’s a kinder cranial space – not as much yelling and screaming, and the default communication’s bridge, the primary interface to my fellow human being, simpler, yet metamorphic. It whispers eight words that change lives forever:

Living brings delicious dangers,

dying is completely safe.

Later that evening, just before falling asleep, I stumbled onto the following passage in a book I hadn’t picked up for a year:

Nothing real can be threatened

Nothing unreal exists

Herein lies the Peace of God

The outcomes from the Inner Voice are already clear. When I walk by a resident sitting in her wheelchair in the lobby; sitting in exactly the same spot she sits all day, every day, I’m less likely to judge her, to form an opinion that says: Something is wrong with this woman. She’s not engaged. She’s not living her life to the fullest. She might as well be dead.  

Well, maybe she IS dying. And perhaps, just perhaps what we perceive as resignation and despair is nothing more than a desire to listen to that still, small voice within – a need to surrender everything tangible and intangible in preparation for the journey home.

In short, is it really necessary to make dying that complicated? We trust nature and the Eternal to bring us into this life, is it that incongruous to believe they can safely guide us out?

Yes, I know. What about the resident who is mentally ill? How do we determine if the behavior we witness with our resident is catatonic or cathartic?

How will we know?

We will ask her.


Copyright Martin Bayne © 2015




12 May
May 12, 2015

Slowing Down

A report from the Slow Lane

Two major sources of grief, and one delight have come over my horizon. They haunt me. As much as the world is changing, I have detected very little movement regarding these first two matters. And, I am elated by the last one, a surprising development, which alters everything, despite efforts for or against it.

This brings me to explain. I started sharing the Slow Lane writings, some 10 years ago. They evolved from being sections of my journal, which I felt moved to share with my community, to what you see appearing here. I gave these written reflections the title of The Slow Lane to emphasize my awareness that slowing down, something the stroke and brain damage did to me, revealed other important aspects of reality. My altered time sense was my motive for sharing this new (to me) perspective.

As I mentioned, it is now 10 years, since I began sharing the wealth that came to me, because fate slowed me down. Every year, to celebrate the importance of the altered perspective that I have been introduced to, I have written one, or more, of these Slow Lane pieces, emphasizing the dangers of speed. I wanted to give words to how life-changing this awareness is. Sadly, one of the grief’s I have, is that life keeps speeding by. My humble words have made little difference. The bubble of my naivete has burst.

This loss of narcissistic hope has furthered my second grief. I have a sense of what is being missed as the cultural and commercial worlds speed along. I feel the ache of all, that isn’t just slow, but moves at something other than the machine speed of our times. The grief I feel— is the grief of Life — being overlooked and overridden by the cultural exigencies of the moment. There is a little piece of everything that is dependent on relationship, which expires under the pressure of speed. I ache in all the places, where I know connection lives. I feel the violence inherent in hurrying.

Living under the weight of racing — I long for the freeing relief I am finding — as I am aging. Decrepitude carries many gifts. They all aren’t about the illusion of being somehow young. Some just creep into life, slowly transforming it, into the miracle it is. I have been pleasantly surprised to discover, that along with greying and wrinkling, comes time. Time to move at the pace of authenticity, to genuinely go the speed that satisfies.

So, this is my delight, a feeling of elation really. Life has conspired to create an era of human life, whereby we humans, despite our culture-of-origin, wealth, education, or position, are slowed down, and confronted with our own existence. For a while we, humans, become human beings (as opposed to human doings) again, naturally. Life delivers an age of integration, a delicious interlude, a chance to catch up, a glimpse of the big picture, and noticing, suddenly becomes intelligence. Old age isn’t a sentence. It is natural democracy. Anyway, I like it, because it provides lots of slowly unfolding perspective.

I’ve written, too many times, that “speed kills.”  I’m not so young, or naïve enough, to believe in efficiency anymore. An inconvenient truth, is that the slow way is actually the fast way around. I’ve learned that we are more complex than most of what motivates us.  The truth is, that the lie of efficiency, and doing things faster is, that what matters to me, the subtle signals of relationship lines, and fields of connection, are de-valued, and like the old, are dismissed and abandoned. This is waste not efficiency! What delights me, is that Life has taught me this, and what grieves me, is that I live in a cultural world where this important lesson has been largely ignored.

The truth about speed, in a Universe that has taken billions of years to get to this moment, is that it misses what really has gotten us here. The Universe had the patience; one might even say the wise necessity — to unfold Life within the bounds of time. It takes time to create a miracle, while it takes almost no time, as most hustling businesses believe, to innovate. Slow is actually the sign of quality, while speed only delivers short-term benefits (and then only to some).

Try panting your way through life.

I’m tired, all the hurrying wears on me. I don’t have to participate. In fact, I can’t. But, I’m still affected. The rejuvenating relationships that feed, and sustain me, are under assault. I worry about the future, about the young, the planet, life as a whole. And therein, lies a darkness, I am not in a hurry to get to. Instead, I want to bask in the ever-present glow of enoughness. Eternity is right here, right now.

If, I go slow enough, I sometimes perceive the stealthy timekeeper, the one who has a moment for each existence. When that happens my fears dissolve, and breathing becomes easier — as does all life. If only I can develop enough immunity, to what is going on around me, to not forget, and try my version of hurrying too.


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For more pieces like this, go to  http://www.elderssalon2.blogspot.com  (2014 on)

To hear archived versions of our radio program Growing An Elder Culture go to www.elderculture.com

To read excerpts, or otherwise learn, about Embracing Life: Toward A Psychology of Interdependence go to http://www.davidgoff.net



24 Apr
April 24, 2015


In 1981, if you had stopped Dr. William Thomas on the street and asked him for a brief summary of stomach ulcers – the Harvard-trained physician would probably have (1) described the anatomy and physiology of the stomach and small intestine, (2) elucidated the likely causative agent of ulcers in the stomach and duodenum and (3) presented treatment protocols. (For the purposes of this discussion, it should be noted that in 1981, stress, diet and dysfunctional HCL acid receptors were thought to be the primary causative agents).

A year later, in 1982, Barry Marshall, a physician and research biochemist, would discover and describe an unshakeable relationship between the ulcers and the screw-like bacterium Heliobacter Pylori.

Doctor Marshall was ridiculed, mocked and derided – his colleagues would not even publish the original study for five years.

Then, in 1994, with overwhelming evidence now supporting Dr. Marshal’s conclusion, the National Institutes of Health convened a consensus panel that issued guidelines for the management of ulcer disease, taking H. pylori into account.

Arthur Schopenhauer, perhaps the most influential philosopher of the nineteenth century, described the three stages in the recognition of any truth:

First, it is ridiculed; next, it is resisted; and finally, it is considered self-evident.


            Let’s shift temporal gears for a moment . . .

In 1972 I read the book – Be Here Now by Ram Dass (Richard Alpert) – from cover to cover, standing in a book store in Middletown, New York. For me, the most seminal concept the book offered was a simple one: Beginners mind is  free and uncluttered mind.

            I bought the book, made a couple of phone calls, and a week later was on a plane to California for a two-week workshop entitled Selling Water by the River. My host for the two week class was Shasta Abbey, a Soto Zen Buddhist monastery in the Serene Reflection Tradition.

As it turned out, my stay was not weeks – but years. And what did I learn during those years as a monk? I learned to ask the following question of myself every morning as I sat in the meditation hall


            As my training deepened, this question was the single most important one I asked of myself as a monk.  Ultimately, there was no way to avoid it.  If we are to discover who we truly are, during this Great Age of Disruption, we must all stand toe-to-toe with our demons – imagined or real. Saint John of the Cross and the Dark Night of the Soul; Jesus of Nazareth in the desert; Shakyamuni Buddha in zazen under the Bodhi Tree; David standing against Goliath; Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. arm-in-arm in Selma.

And the day will come when we find and muster the courage within each of us to accept the challenges and rewards of growing old. And during those great days – even as we are born, live, grow old and die as Nature intended – we will discover who we truly are.

Let’s Make Sure She Hits the Ground Running

15 Apr
April 15, 2015


Dear Ms. Clinton

Can you even imagine what it’s like to be housed in a facility filled with floors of fellow residents crippled with disabilities and struggling to keep their head above the ambient despair of depression, dementia, and death?

I can.

Although I’m only sixty-five years old, I’ve spent the last thirteen of these years as a resident of an assisted living facility (Young-Onset Parkinson’s).

Recently, I was struck with an idea so simple, efficient, and powerful, I was compelled to call my closest friends to share the idea with them. To the person, they responded – “How can I help?”

Now, I’m going to share that idea with you – with the sincere hope that you, too, will call me with one simple question . . .

“How can I help?”

THE 2017 CARE ACT                         

This legislation is designed to create an entrance strategy for foreign nationals who wish to become US citizens, while simultaneously easing the burden of long-term care on American families.

The program itself is straightforward: a person seeking US citizenship applies for a visa under The 2017 Care Act. This special visa binds the applicant to an American family for “x” number of years – a negotiated period of time (minimum value for x is five) in which they will care for a member of the family who needs long-term care.

During this period, known as the “care stage”, the applicant is responsible for the care (Activities of Daily Living – bathing, feeding, transferring, etc.) of the family member for the agreed-upon compensation and number of hours/days/week.

The host family is responsible for the applicant’s housing and meals during the care stage. Ideally, the applicant has familial ties to the host family.

At the end of the care contract, the applicant has satisfied his/her portion of the contract and is free to live out the remainder of their life as an American Citizen with no further obligation to the host family.