As I was grappling with the idea of writing this work, I checked Amazon.com and found there were over two hundred books in printed and electronic form that are available using the search term “inner peace.” Had I checked that before I wrote this, I likely would not have attempted it; what else could I add to what had already been written, and covered in numerous retreats, seminars, churches, synagogues, cathedrals, religious gatherings, mystical courses, families, and late-night beer-fueled college bull sessions?
Many people will tell you how to attain peace, and their answers vary. Some have even suggested that peace comes from having sufficient means to provide financial support to worthy organizations to help attain this goal, which I support, and which is understandable.
Many, such as me, have thought there can be no such thing, and life can be seen as constantly striving for - and yet never attaining - peace. In addition, it is not unknown for people to avoid peace, since they consider it boring, no fun, and the real action is in the constant doing, no matter what it is that is done. Further, why would someone want to attain peace? What good is it, given that life is always changing, often challenging, and even occasionally if accidentally satisfying?
On a more serious note, I knew that I was really writing this for me, and if it interested others, so much the better. I would not be readily viewed as an altruistic person. I originally did not intend to publish it, as I knew there would be many personal and embarrassing things in it that I was not eager to share, although it would certainly not be complete without their inclusion. And so I tentatively embarked on a process to write what I thought I had to say, something that might be useful to me and even perhaps to others. I admit I have an ego, and I do think there are some thoughts within the book that might be useful (or at a minimum, entertaining). As someone once said: The destination is the journey. I readily admit to not always having seen the truth in that.
It turned out, however, that I did not write this book. Without being too ultra-spiritual or airy-fairy about it, the book actually wrote itself, or more accurately, wrote me. By that I mean that it flowed seemingly effortlessly from within, and more importantly, without my more rational mental judgement sitting on my shoulder offering unsolicited advice. There seemed to be little effort by me to allow the thoughts and words to place themselves on the computer screen in front of me, as if it were being dictated and I had only to transcribe it. I did make revisions, improvements, changes, and adjustments, mostly after the initial draft, but what you will read, if you so choose, is my journey. I suspect it is not very different from others, in that we are all human, despite some differing evidence, and we have more in common than we have those things that separate us, even if this is not experienced in your particular news feed at the time.
The perceptive and critical reader will note that my sentences are way too long, seem to run on interminably, but that is so you do not get hung up on any one thought or idea, and move along quickly. In addition, I like to write “stream of consciousness,” which is another way of saying I like to go fast to capture my thoughts. The Reader will note that I drop a few little bombs here and there, and move on quickly. I suggest a fast read initially, and then returning to the parts that made you angry or upset - or perhaps even interested - since there may be some opportunities for personal inner work on your part at those locations. I want to restate that my sometimes acerbic humor is meant to provoke and perhaps even enlighten, in the original sense of the word. My own inner work has resulted in this book; my outer work has resulted in more material and tangible things. I prefer this inner type of work now, augmented by the second kind to keep me grounded, clothed, housed, fed, and occasionally entertained.
This flow of words and ideas that resulted literally wrote itself, coming from somewhere beyond my self-imposed boundaries to enter my being, and then my mind, and I simply reproduced what came to me from that Source. Sounds a little weird, I know. Here’s your first opportunity to make a mental note that this is not your average “how to live your life” book, since I’m still plodding along that path, and once I get the answer, I’ll publish another book entitled “I Got It” and charge maybe twice as much next time, if the title hasn’t already been used (and I believe it has, but in a far different context).
I initially started to write this to document and record my reaction to being diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment, then with Cognitive Impairment, then with Mild Alzheimer’s Disease, and finally achieving full Alzheimer’s Disease in a final full blaze of glory. There are four steps since it requires returning to your doctor or mental health professional for another visit, which helps keep money flowing through the community. (I know, that was a cheap shot, and I only wanted to make sure you had not fallen asleep already. You are allowed to go now and express your anger elsewhere.)
I wanted to describe the experience of being presented with a serious medical diagnosis while I could still do it understandably in words. Even though I was told over twenty years ago that I had the APOe4 Genotype (an almost certain precursor to AD, which is the abbreviation for Alzheimer’s Disease which I shall use as shorthand throughout this writing), I dismissed this from my mind, thinking this only happens to old people, anyway.
I am now one of those old people (and I do not yet have an experience of being an “old person,” whatever that means, which actually means nothing) and so here I am wondering all the usual things that people think when diagnosed with a fatal disease. And I further thought: Why let a good crisis go to waste, as someone once famously said? Perhaps I can learn something from the process, share it with others, and contribute though my experience. I do know that a cure or remission is highly unlikely, and I have made peace with that, and learned from that how to live the rest of my life. Writing this is my first milepost.
Lest you think that this is a dreary thought, let me assure the Reader (that’s what I will be calling you henceforth, so you know who I’m talking to, and I sometimes write in the manner of the best – or perhaps worst - Victorian writers) that I have developed a certain weird sense of humor over my lifetime of seventy six years (as of this writing), and sometimes it puts people off, and other times it brings them closer, while most of the times they merely roll their eyes. In any event, I no longer have any fear of being thought a fool, since I have had much practice at that, and am very good at it, and often knowingly and occasionally unknowingly go out of my way to demonstrate it.
At this point, I want you to know that I know that humor can easily be overdone, and I will attempt to get to the point without further shenanigans, at least for a few more pages.
I chose this method as being the most practical way to do this, and will start with saying that I am in fact experiencing some of the supposed effects of the disease, such as memory loss and confusion, and my wife Liz agrees. I’m still in a bit of denial, as I ascribe those memory issues to natural old age, lack of sleep, inattention, and those sorts of things. These are not inconsistent experiences in dementia, and I’ve done enough research on this to consider myself an expert, and many physicians agree with my conclusion.
Also, some of my friends and acquaintances have said they also see this happening to me, and so I now reluctantly admit I have AD. I have learned to accept embarrassment and look at it as a symptom, not a character default (in Silicon Valley lexicon, “a feature and not a bug”). That was my first big step: This is not my fault, I am assured. Of course, there may be some other explanation, which might result in my ultimately assuming responsibility for my malady, should I be able to remember this.
The diagnosis was sometime in August 2019, based on two rather simple (to me) memory tests, each just a few minutes in duration, and from this my doctor and others concluded I was in early stage Alzheimer’s. This is initially called mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which mostly leads to mild Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). I do not dispute that, since I have had no experience with it, and after all, he or she (I’ve seen several, male and female) is my doctor, and a geriatrician, to boot. I have since tried other online tests with roughly similar results: Something is going on, but it is not progressing rapidly as I write this. Another term for this thought is “whistling in the wind.”
In addition, the Reader will note that I chose to entitle this “My Journey Toward Peace,” rather than “My Journey To Peace”. The difference is small but profound, since life is a journey and not a destination (not my line, but a very good one), and may it continue as long as Providence allows. (I encourage you to insert here Deity, God, Universe, or your preferred term for the unfathomable and possibly unknowable.) Further, I intend to take full responsibility for the end of the journey, whatever that means to me at the time. I hope to fully experience the end as much as possible, as long as it’s not fearful, scary, or catastrophic, as all deaths can and likely will be.
I take full responsibility (a pesky word that keeps creeping into my writing) for what I write here, and give sources for those parts I borrowed from others and used, with all due credit hopefully given. My goal has been to create something of use and pleasure through occasional humor, fueled by insights from me and from others, most particularly my wife Liz. My humor is often seen by others as overdone, but it does get me through the day with most of my sanity intact.
Also, I have completed writing this book many times, only to discover that there is one, and possibly two additional items to be added to complete the book properly. I then add those passages, recheck for accuracy, add more passages, check again, add some more, and plan on proceeding with publication the next day.
The next morning, usually about 4 a.m. or 5 a.m, I awaken with the dreaded yet energizing thought that there is something that must be added to make it a more complete and better book, and I lie there in bed composing what I will write. I get up around 6 a.m., make coffee (Liz gets hers served to her in bed by me, the lucky woman), the animals get fed by me, I head out to the studio (easily a seventy foot walk in the sometimes inhospitable Santa Fe prairie weather, sit down, and spend an hour or two adding not only the paragraph I write in bed in my mind at 4 a.m., but also a couple of others for good measure to help justify the arduous hike in the cold dark night. It helps set the tone for the day, at least for the first part of it.
Most of this book that you are reading was written after the initial draft. I’m not sure what that means, but I was amazed when I realized that as I write this. I do think I am enjoying and getting more value from this deeply revealing exercise than I ever have from almost any other single effort I have undertaken in my life, and it is instantly rewarding. It’s as if I have hit the Mother Lode. And so it has gone for over several months now. If you are actually reading this, then a miracle has occurred, and I have nothing else to say. For now.
So, enough of the disclaimers and wry dry wit, and on to the essence. By the way, this is about the sixteenth time I have revised my final draft, and the process is likely to continue until I force myself to send it off to the Great Printer In The Sky, or I run out of energy.
I will make a final note that this manuscript was originally published in an almost similar form through Amazon Kindle, but only in the electronic version. I decided that making this available via the website you are using provides greater access to more people, and allows me to make changes if appropriate after the initial introduction. If you are reading this on a tiny smart phone, you have my abject apologies, since it presents best on a desktop computer, even though I'm likely one of the last few human beings on earth to be using such an antiquated device.
I do hope that the information presented here will be useful, provoking, and entertaining. After all, it’s only life.