Latest entries

Serious medical issue will limit
my writing here for six months

by David McElroy

My hospital room

Eight days ago, I went to an emergency room because I was having trouble breathing. Tests determined I have bilateral pulmonary emboli, which is just a fancy way of saying I have multiple blood clots in both lungs. I’ve been told that such clots kill 30 percent of those who have them before they’re even diagnosed.

I was very lucky.

I haven’t posted any new articles here in almost three months. I’ve known something was wrong, but I didn’t know what. I’ve had extreme fatigue, lack of energy and a general feeling of full-time exhaustion. I woke up exhausted each morning. Just walking my dog a quarter of a mile would drain me. I’ve been doing the minimum I had to do to survive — and then simply collapsing at home.

I knew I’d gained weight lately from stress-eating, so I attributed the physical symptoms to weight gain and the mental lethargy to depression. But I now know that another problem was building, although it’s impossible to say when it started.

Blood clots in the lungs make it difficult for the body to absorb oxygen from the air we breath. The blood vessels in our lungs normally take oxygen from the lungs and move it to the rest of the body. Since the blood vessels of my lungs were becoming more and more blocked, my body was having trouble extracting the oxygen from the air I was breathing and sending it to my brain and muscles and other organs. This accounted for the fatigue, both mental and physical.

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My new photography portfolio website is live in a beta version

by David McElroy

David McElroy Photography

The site isn’t finished, but the first version of my new photography portfolio is now online at DavidMcElroyPhotography.com. The sections for homes and people are in pretty decent shape, but the variety is sparse in the animals and nature sections. So the samples on the site will evolve, but it’s a start.

The site will work on mobile devices, but it will look best on larger screens.

I’m available for freelance photography assignments, primarily of the editorial style for publications such as magazines and newspapers.

Mundane expressions of love matter more than the Hollywood versions

by David McElroy

Father and daughter

A family almost made me cry tonight — not because they did anything wrong or bad — but because of the love I saw they had for each other.

Most families tend to depress me when I observe them. The dynamics I see — between husband and wife, between parents and children — frequently range from shocking meanness to simple indifference. (I’m never sure which is worse.) Sometimes the man is a sullen bully. Sometimes the woman is a bitter complainer who’s eager to criticize everyone.

There are dozens of variations. The worst are the ones in which you can see confusion and fear in the faces of the younger children — and cynical copies of their parents in the older children.

I see so many families which are some version of this, where the ugly realities of choices they’ve made have left them resentful and hollow at best. They’re people who seem defeated by life — and who are determined to take out their frustrations on the people they live with. Because I see this so often, it makes me happy to see something which appears emotionally healthy and positive.

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Selfish? ‘I love you’ frequently says ‘I’m desperate for you to love me’

by David McElroy

Please love me

Why do so many people murder those they claim to love? Why do we call these murders “crimes of passion”?

Could it be that much of what we call romantic love is really the need to control someone else? And could it be that when most people profess love, they’re really saying, “I’m desperate for someone to love me. Will you be the one to love and accept me?”

Here’s the real question that’s been bothering me lately. Is love always ultimately selfish?

At heart, I’m a romantic, in both the narrow sense and the broad sense. I identify with the line in the Postal Service song called “Clark Gable” which says, “I want so badly to believe that there is truth, that love is real.” I’ve believed in love — and continued to believe in love — at times in my life when it didn’t make sense. I need love to be real. I need for someone who says “I love you” to mean that she loves and accepts me — as a person, the way I am, for better or worse — rather than it simply meaning, “I like the attention you’re giving me.”

I’ve always ignored evidence to the contrary and made the conscious decision to believe in people who’ve said they love me, even when the evidence suggested otherwise. Am I idealistic in the good sense and just waiting for real love to triumph? Or am I in denial and setting myself up to be disappointed in people who are merely serving their own selfish purposes — for however long I meet their needs?

I don’t know, but the question has been haunting me.

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Facebook leads to marriage for couple whose love never died

by David McElroy

Reunited couple

When James got a Facebook message from Wendy in 2013, he didn’t know what to think. More than 20 years after a nasty high school breakup, he was afraid she was still angry with him.

James and Wendy were high school sweethearts in Forest Lake, Minn., a small town about half an hour north of Minneapolis. They fell in love and seemed to have a strong relationship. Then Wendy got pregnant but lost the baby.

While she was in the hospital, a friend told her lies about James — that he was cheating on her and that he had told people she had had a coat-hanger abortion. By the time she got out, the angry young teen wanted nothing to do with James. She wouldn’t listen to his denials.

They graduated from high school together in 1991 and then went their separate ways. They both married other people. James spent years in the military. Wendy had three daughters and ended up in Alabama. By 2013, though, each was alone. That’s when Wendy sent James that Facebook message.

Wendy told him that she would be in Minnesota for a visit and she wanted to see him while she was there. James said he didn’t know what she might want — “Maybe she still wanted to tell me off,” he said — and he turned her down without much of an explanation.

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Missing someone creates incredibly intense physical sensations in heart

by David McElroy

Lonely night walker

It starts out as a vague discomfort. Your brain knows something is wrong in your body and there’s an immediate running monologue in your head.

What’s wrong? I can’t tell what’s wrong.

Maybe your heart beats a little faster. There’s a gnawing in your chest. There’s discomfort in your gut. It’s almost as though there’s something inside you with an urgent voice of its own.

What’s going on? Someone tell me what’s going on.

But you have no answer for the voice. You’re confused. You don’t know what you need. You don’t know what’s wrong. You just feel a growing sense of dread and panic. The sensations in your body are growing more urgent.

What do I need? Am I hungry? I must be hungry. I need something. What do I need?

The feeling of missing someone can create incredibly intense physical sensations in your heart and in your gut. The discomfort usually starts in the gut, but sometimes it starts higher — in the chest around the heart. It all works together, but you’re not even sure what’s going on. You end up guessing.

This is about her, isn’t it? Why am I thinking about her? Was I thinking about her or something else?

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Kind words can make big difference for stressed parents at Christmas

by David McElroy

Stressed mother

As I pulled into a parking place at Walmart Monday evening, I could hear crying and screaming. A woman and her two children were at the van next to me. The youngest child was crying at the top of her lungs. The other child was yelling. The mom was screaming back.

I immediately didn’t like her.

“Get in the car and stop screaming,” she screamed at one child. “No, you’re not getting that. Just get in there and shut up, both of you.”

I sat in my car for a moment, silently judging her for being out of control and screaming at her kids.

As I got out of the car and looked over at the woman, I saw someone who looked exhausted, angry and stressed. She didn’t seem like a bad person. She just seemed like someone who was overwhelmed and snapped at her children because she had reached the end of her rope.

There’s a part of me that has a whole bundle of pre-made judgments for someone in such a situation. Her children are out of control because she hasn’t taught them how to behave. She should know better than to yell at them like that. She should act like the adult. She should be in control.

The list goes on and on.

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Yes, Trump is scary and crazy, but fear the immoral system, not him

by David McElroy

Trump pointing

I’m terrified of what Donald Trump might do as president, but I’m even more terrified of the system that has the power to set him — or anyone else — up as a ruler over me.

As Trump makes statements that are increasingly insane and scary, I see people all over social media posting those words and pointing out how scary they are. Their outrage makes it clear that they’re saying to Trump supporters, “See? Don’t you get it? The man is crazy. Quit supporting him!”

I’m starting to realize that a lot of people can’t accept that a substantial portion of the voting public — a vast majority, I’d argue — are delusional in very serious ways. They believe that if Trump supporters just understand how monstrous his beliefs are — and how insane he is — his support would evaporate.

They’re wrong.

Trump is exactly what a huge percentage of people in this country want. Think about that for a moment.

Millions and millions of people want a “strong man” who will promise to fix all their problems. They want someone who will “stand up” to other governments, threatening those nations, bullying them and bombing other people who don’t bend to his will. They want someone who will protect them from foreigners who scare them. They want someone who will pander to their darkest, ugliest prejudices — because they are too ignorant to know how evil their beliefs are.

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Understanding Trump phenomenon requires empathy for his supporters

by David McElroy

Trump supporters

Donald Trump scares me. As long as he’s a private citizen, he’s just a narcissistic buffoon with money, but he could be uniquely deadly to the world if you hand him the power of the U.S. presidency. So how did we get to the point that this dysfunctional clown leads current presidential polls?

As this is written, 28 percent of likely Republican primary voters say they support Trump. For those of us who listen to the man and immediately realize that he’s at least borderline insane, this seems preposterous. When people first mentioned him as a candidate four years ago, I said it was an indication we had reached “Idiocracy.” As it became clear that he was being taken more and more seriously this year, I compared the situation to Germany’s 1932 election.

For many of us, it’s easy to see why he’s dangerous. It’s easy to see that he’s crazy. What’s not so easy to explain is why so many Americans passionately support this man.

Trump’s supporters are angry and they’re part of an ugly movement. Pretty much every ugly movement in history is an overreaction to something bad that’s happened in the lives of the people involved. Such groups tend to feel angry and marginalized. If you don’t understand their underlying grievance — whether they’re right or wrong — you won’t understand what’s going on — and you’ll have no hope of solving the problem without massive bloodshed.

The fact that Germans in the 1920s and early ’30s were angry, desperate and humiliated led them to turn to Adolph Hitler, a minor demagogue who promised he could fix their problems. How much grief could the world have been spared if the needs and fears of desperate Germans had been taken seriously by the world after the “war to end all wars”?

You don’t have to agree with people to understand their motivations. You don’t have to take their side. You just have to understand what the world looks like from their point of view.

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‘Pretense of knowledge’ is leading the world down a dangerous path

by David McElroy

Paris attacks-woman views bodies

I don’t know how to make angry jihadis suddenly quit hating westerners and wanting to kill us. I don’t know how to stop everyone from doing evil things. I don’t know the perfect response to the attacks in Paris Friday.

But I have a pretty good idea that “bomb them back to the Stone Age” isn’t going to work.

After a bloody attack such as the one in Paris, the first instinct is retaliation. That seems to be human nature. The French have already sent tons and tons of bombs to blow up rocks and sand in the desert city which is considered to be the capital of the Islamic State. (Some western politicians say we should call the group Daesh instead, but I’m not going to get into that naming controversy.)

Dropping bombs on remote desert cities is popular with scared and angry voters — whether they’re French or American — but even if you kill the right people, you’re playing whack-a-mole. As you kill certain leaders and fighters, new ones emerge to take their place. (It’s a lot like the War on Drugs in that respect.)

When terrorists attacked this country on Sept. 11, 2001, there was a cry for blood, too. Soon afterward, George W. Bush sent U.S. troops to invade Afghanistan and overthrow the government there, because it had given sanctuary to the training camps used by terrorist groups. Shortly after that, he also invaded Iraq, even though Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks on the United States.

How has all that worked for us?

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Start over here

When this site launched in 2011, it was intended as a way to find others who were sick of partisan politics and wanted to connect with like-minded people who were ready to go beyond politics and find ways of escaping. It has shifted focus in ways that reflect my own shifting thinking. I’m less interested in politics and more interested in looking at the things that make life worth living, such as love, creation, self-understanding and connecting with others. Every article I have posted since 2011 is still in my archives, but everything I write is a reflection of my current thinking. Sometimes I’m wrong — and that’s fine with me — and I don’t always end up agreeing with what I wrote five years ago. For now, you can still read what I wrote about the site’s purpose in 2011, but I should rewrite this. Read more.

Contact David

David likes email, but can’t reply to every message. I get a surprisingly large number of requests for relationship advice — seriously — but I don’t always have the time to respond. Besides, with my own romantic track record, maybe my advice isn’t worth taking. I’d like to find a wife one of these days, so maybe I should add an “application.”
I’m currently taking a break from Facebook, but I periodically use Twitter, although I have very little to say that takes 140 characters of fewer.
On Twitter, it's @David_McElroy.
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