These are stories from the life of Steven Barnes, science fiction writer, martial arts expert, hypnotherapist, teacher, public speaker, father, and lover of life.

Romeo and Juliet’s Journey #8: The Leap of Faith

Romeo and Juliet’s Journey #8:   The Leap of Faith




“Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavoury guide!

Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on

The dashing rocks thy seasick weary bark!

Here’s to my love! Drinking. O true apothecary,

Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.


And with those words, Romeo commits suicide.


And here comes the moment which, if these lovers had not been children, tragedy could have been averted. Romeo found Juliet apparently dead, and at that moment, the pain of living without her exceeded the fear of death, and he chose death. She awakened and found Romeo dead, and her pain of living without him made HER choose death.


If Romeo had possessed the wisdom to know that his broken hearts would heal, he might have taken a different action. Then Juliet would have awakened, and they live happily ever after.


His problem was a lack of faith.   IN this context, faith is a deep conviction in one of three things:


  1. Faith in himself (that would be able to heal and love again)
  2. Faith in his companions (perhaps that there would be another woman he would one day meet as fair and perfect as Juliet
  3. Faith in a higher power (perhaps that God would not make only one perfect partner for us)


Any of these would have saved the story from utter tragedy. Probably made a lesser tale, however.


Romeo and Juliet FAIL their “leap of faith.”  Too much pain, too narrow a view of life and love.


My first marriage had died, and it absolutely tore my guts out. I felt as if I had totally failed as a human being, that no one would ever love me again.    I just wanted to work my way back into the dating market, find happiness–but the problem was that I had no “game

I discovered that I had no “game”.  I’d never picked up a woman in my life, and my efforts to make connection with the ones I knew just seemed to end up with one disaster after another.


The breakthrough came when I realized a simple reality: you can create a relationship with someone on your “frequency”, at your level of integration and evolution. NOT someone below or above that level.   I was attracted to confident, beautiful women…but I was not confident or balanced myself.   A lioness wants a lion.  My very need for love was crippling me.


I remember laying in my bed in my solidary room, thinking through all the pieces of the puzzle. To create a relationship with a powerful woman, I had to be a powerful man, and not be “bleeding” emotionally all over the table. I couldn’t the love I craved unless I didn’t NEED that love from another human being. I could WANT it, sure. But if I NEEDED it…I was screwed.


What could I do?  I couldn’t get it if I needed it. And I’d need it until I got it…


Wouldn’t I?  And I remembered the words of Ram Dass:   “All that you seek is already within you. In Hinduism it is called the Atman, in Buddhism the pure Buddha-Mind. Christ said, ‘the kingdom of heaven is within you.’ Quakers call it the ‘still small voice within.’ This is the space of full awareness that is in harmony with all the universe, and thus is wisdom itself.”


The love I sought was within me.     I remembered a very special visualization/meditation designed to heal and evolve the heart, and began to apply it to my own life.


And in a few weeks, things began to change. It was rough at first, I’ll admit. My head was filled with doubting voices, and at times I felt silly.  But I kept the FAITH, and soon I was HAPPY.  Happier than I had been in years. I no longer chased after women: but had a sort of detached curiosity and interest, combined with an affectionate respect. Saw them as complete human beings who might be very interesting to know better, but were complete in themselves.   And to my astonishment, removed from any sense of lack, I became UNCANNILY  attractive to women, getting the reaction I’d always desired.   And that lead directly to meeting the woman of my dreams.


That “missing link” of self-love, self-respect, healing, I continued to refine over the years, finally teaching it at a high-end stress clinic in Santa Monica to millionaires and movie stars.  And called it The Ancient Child.


As a means of connecting to the love within you, it has no equal.  And if you have ALL the love you “need”, flowing from within you, you have the freedom to have “choice” in what you want, what you DESIRE, from outside you.   You are free, and confident, and self-contained.


Most of the “Pick Up Artist” or “Get A Man” courses are about FAKING this state of health and happiness.  FAKING genuine confidence and balance. But…why not actually BE healthy?


If only Romeo and Juliet had been better balanced, healthier, wiser people…we’d have been denied one of the great literary works of the Western World.  But…your life is not an amusement for the crowd.  It is YOUR LIFE, and you have the right to be happy. Moreover, every person who seeks and finds happiness helps others see the possibility. Your fire lights the way for the rest of the world.


Have FAITH that within yourself you have the strength and love you’ve sought from others.

Have FAITH that there are others who are looking for someone just like the healed human being you have the potential to be

Have FAITH that the world is not so cruel that there is only one human being out of billions who could share your path.


Have Faith.


Love yourself…and share the love!


(you can get a free copy of The Ancient Child meditation.  Just go to:


Romeo and Juliet’s Journey #7: The Dark Night (and “the last dog on Earth”)

Romeo returns from exile to find his Juliet apparently dead.  He commits to death.  Juliet awakens from drugged sleep and finds Romeo dead. She too commits to death. This is their “Dark Night of the Soul.”–


O, here

Will I set up my everlasting rest,

And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars

From this world-wearied flesh. Eyes, look your last!

Arms, take your last embrace! and, lips, O you

The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss

A dateless bargain to engrossing death!”

― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet


I think we’ve all been there. Lonely, we felt a vague ache within us that we might not even acknowledge. Then…we meet someone, so beautiful, so attractive to our eyes that we can feel something within us say: YES!  THIS ONE.  We see our fate, our destiny stretch before us.   The notion of spending our lives, making love, sharing dreams, raising a family, growing old together with THIS ONE is almost overwhelming.


So we try things.  Meet. Court. Open our hearts. And at some point…it all goes to hell.


I remember the very first girl I ever asked to “go steady” with me. Her name was Sonja, and we were in Junior High together.   Just the cutest little thing.   I was too shy to ask her directly, so I asked a mutual friend, Neil, to ask her for me.  He called me and said she would give me her answer the next day.


All day long I had butterflies in my stomach. I saw her glance at me in our classes, and giggle with her friends. It was just a crush…I was only about fourteen…but I imagined us having lunch together, going to school dances together (maybe she would even teach me to dance!) study together, walking home holding hands. If I was very very lucky, maybe I would even steal a kiss or two.


All day long I could hardly concentrate on my classes. When would she give me her answer?  Yes?  No?   Was this the beginning of something wonderful..? She even SMILED at me a couple of times: oh, frabjous day!


Then in the last period of the day, she passed me a folded piece of paper. It passed from hand to hand until it reached me, and with trembling fingers I opened it.


“Dear Steve,” it said.  “I wouldn’t go with you if you were the last dog on Earth.”




Boom. There it was. The bottom falling out of my stomach. The very first heartbreak of my life.  I wasn’t’ even angry with her…I blamed myself.  How dare I try to fly with such an angel?


Depression, despair, fear. Fear that no one would love me, that I was broken, that the happiness I saw others experiencing was never to be mine.   All the burning acid in my gut, all the sense of shame and guilt and embarrassment, knowing the others were laughing at me, that all my friends knew what had happened.


I spiraled into the depths of the “Dark Night”, which is the place where it seems that all of our abilities are insufficient to reach our goals and dreams.


I never should have asked her!  I should have had the courage to ask her myself!  Everyone else in the world was happy except me!  How dare I even dream of being happy, thinking that an attractive woman would ever be attracted to me!  All the voices in my head, screaming at me. Laughing faces sneering at me, scratching cat-claws of her laughing friends ripping my heart to pieces.


And…I knew that somehow, someway, some day I would be happy.  SOMEHOW. I didn’t know how.


But there was a voice deep inside me. It was a younger Steve.   The one who, long before, at the age of five or six had had no father, who looked at every man my mother dated (and there weren’t many of them) and wondered: Are YOU the one? Will you be my Daddy? And when they went away, curled up and cried and wondered if I was so ugly, so broken, that no one wanted me.


That younger me…that part of me is the part that writes, that plays, that has the joy in life.   I heard his screams and something inside me rose up.


IF NO ONE WANTS TO LOVE ME, I WILL LOVE MYSELF.  I looked at the women I was attracted to and realized that ALL of them were attracted to larger boys. Stronger boys. Smarter boys.  Older boys.  Athletes and leaders.   And at that moment, I could have taken the Incel path, and resented them.  It’s not fair…


But that was the screaming of the “Child” within me, a boy some eight or nine years younger than I was.  And I realized that I was not that child…I was the one who had to PROTECT that child.  Somehow…instead of resenting Sonia, resenting the lovely girls who liked the older, stronger, more confident boys…


I DECIDED TO BECOME ONE OF THEM. Somehow, in some way, one day I would BE one of those boys who attracted the kinds of girls I yearned for.   Somehow, instead of blaming them, I congratulated them on the self respect to go for what they really wanted and needed.


Somehow, even then, I sensed that Sonia knew my timidity did not make me a good prospect.  She was holding out for more, as was her right.  And in the depths of my pain, it was hearing the voice of the even younger child within me that gave me STRENGTH.


One day…I will be strong.

One day…I will be confident.

One day…I will have the power to build my life, and be a good prospect for a pretty girl looking to build her life.


One day.


Not today, thought. Not then.  And I didn’t know how I’d do it.  But I did know that the only other course was either being alone…or “settling.”


You know the people: “well, she was all I could get.”  “Oh, he ain’t much, but I guess he’s mine.”


That’s not enough. You want to look in your lover’s eyes and know she ADORES you.  You need to look at her, hear her voice, watch her move and feel your heart SING.


I didn’t make Sonia’s heart sing.    And if I really liked her, really wanted the best for her…then I wanted that for her.


I cried at night, yes. But somewhere, under the tears I was thinking:


One day…


And one day finally came.


Love yourself…and share the love



Romeo and Juliet’s Journey #6: Confront Evil, meet Defeat

Look for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man“–Tybalt.   Wm Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet


Imagine the horror Romeo feels at the moment his best friend Mercutio dies.  In rage, he slays Tybalt (Juliet’s cousin), and is banished from Verona.  In a moment, the play spins from being a light romantic comedy into a tragedy. There is no coming back from this event.   A game for children has become a deadly serious adult matter.


Love into hate.   Faith into despair.  Rather than two families united, they are torn further apart.   The ultimate ending begins HERE.

It is important to grasp that “evil” can be an overstatement here. The forces that oppose us can be fear, confusion, ego, desire, values conflicts, mistaken beliefs.  With that understanding lets go forward:



I loved a woman once, and had dreamed of a life with her.  I was in heaven–it seemed the very best life I could imagine.  All my hopes and dreams, come to life.


Then one day I got a phone call telling me she had made a decision that seriously endangered both her, and our chances of a  relationship.  There was nothing I could do.  In that moment, I saw that our values were either totally different…or she had made a dreadful error.  There was literally no way to come back from what had happened, and although both of us knew it, we pretended to think otherwise for a while. The horrible telephone conversations, strained visits, and mutual accusations ripped my guts out. I wanted to act, but there was nothing to be done: she wouldn’t accept my help.  Every day that passed felt like another death: of dreams, of hopes…and of my own judgement.


Why hadn’t I seen it coming…?  And that, ultimately became a salvation.  If I was in horrible pain, if I could just keep my eyes on the ball: I will love again. I WILL find my way through this.  And…if I can learn the lesson here, I never have to make this mistake again.  What is the lesson? What is the lesson?


I remembered something NLP expert Tad James had said: If you learn the lesson, you can release the pain. The pain is only there to get your attention.


The lesson was that she hadn’t made a mistake. She was just being who she was. What had happened was a natural outgrowth of other decisions. She was on HER journey, not just a puppet on mine.  My martial arts and shamanic studies teacher Swiftdeer had once said: “Do not trust people.  Instead, rely upon them to do what they see as their own self-interest.  It is up to you to determine what that is.”


It was MY problem.   Not hers.  She was just being who she was. I HAD CHOSEN HER.   If I had attracted her, more importantly been attracted TO her, she was a mirror for my own heart and soul.   If I could look deeply enough into that mirror, learn that lesson, I could both support her in whatever way it was healthy for her to let me do that, and also go my own way.


If I loved her, let her go.  Don’t try to control.  IF there had been something I could do, then obsession might have had some point.   But if there wasn’t…well, loving her was fine, but didn’t I love myself as well? Didn’t I love that child in my heart enough to nurture him when he was screaming in pain?


Even though I was in agony, I could see that if I could learn the lesson…if I could nurture my own heart…if I could find my way out of this dark, frozen cave I had fallen into…


That on the other side of this I would be a stronger, better, healthier person.   Capable of making better decisions.  If SHE learned too…well, perhaps we would be able to meet on the other side.  BUT LET HER GO.   If I didn’t, and she was in a death spiral…I was going down with her. And if she was on her own journey, and had rejected my help, was I not infantalizing her to say she needed to take it?  And if she was that infant, what was I saying about myself, if she was the best I could do at that moment?


No. There was no way out but to find a way to die and be reborn.  God, I didn’t want to do that. But if I didn’t…I was finished.


And tomorrow, we’ll talk about the road back.



Love yourself…and share the love!


Romeo and Juliet’s Journey #5: Allies and Powers

Romeo and Juliet’s Journey #5: Allies and Powers


“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”

-Romeo, in Act 3, Scene 2, as Mercutio offers to protect Romeo in battle




The fifth step of the Hero’s Journey, “Acquiring Allies and Gaining Powers” is simple acknowledgement that we must learn and grow. Do different things, see the world in different ways.  If you do what you’ve done, you’ll continue to get what you’ve got. If you want different results, you MUST do different things.




I recently got a query from a student (“George”)  who had become enamored of a lady on a social media site.  They had corresponded, they had some mutual social media friends, and when she finally agreed to meet him in person, his heart was about to pound out of his chest.   He had wanted love, connection, passion for years, and here was the chance right in front of him!


She had expressed a desire for a fancy smartphone, and he decided to buy her one, and present it at their first date.  With his heart full of hope, he did just that…and then watched as she took it and then backed away, “ghosted” him, leaving him confused and angry.


It is easy to say that “George” made a mistake.    Harder to put your finger on what he could have done differently.  Wisdom is the result of experience, and experience is painful.


If “wisdom” is one of the “powers” Romeo needed to keep from committing suicide (the knowledge that the love he felt for Juliet came from within HIM, if he was complete within himself, he wouldn’t’ have killed himself, knowing that he would recover, his heart would heal and that he would find love again.   Paradoxically, allowing Juliet to “go” would have resulted in her awakening and a joyous reunion.)


How do you get wisdom without the experiences?  ASK OTHERS WHO HAVE BEEN ON THE JOURNEY.  It is simple, really. So simple that we forget that ALMOST EVERYTHING we’ve learned in life we learned by modeling the behavior of others: how to walk, talk, ride a bicycle, read, write…everything.


Love is no different.   The beautiful thing is that even among people our own age, experiences will vary.  You will be more advanced in certain arenas, your friends in others.  But the very best mentors are people who are older, who have experienced the journey of life for longer, and are further along the road.


“But things are different now!” yeah.  They always are. But there are things that are the same.   FOCUS ON THOSE.


I had the extraordinary pain of courting the woman of my dreams and watching it all fall to ashes.  The more I gave the faster she backed away.  Sound familiar? As my marriage had recently gone the way of the dodo, I felt horrible, desperate, confused. Was there something broken about me?  Was I so ugly and stupid?   What kind of idiot was I, that everything I tried to do was wrong?




WHY DID IT HAPPEN?   I had to learn by painful experience: relationships have a thing called “rapport”.   Each person is traveling at a given pace, in a given direction.   If they have experience, they know that people lie, and cheat, and wear masks.


So if a beautiful woman has had any experience at all, she knows that there are predators, men who will pretend to be what they are not.  And she will reveal herself one bit at a time, an unfolding, like a flower spreading its petals slowly.   Imagine that each of you is holding a deck of cards.  You put down a card: “Hi!  My name is Steve!” she puts down a card to match you:  “my name is Mary.”  And you proceed, putting down one card after another: what you do, what you like, where you’ve lived.  Bits of your relationship history, your hopes and dreams and values.


One at a time. You put down a “card” and then she does.  MAYBE you put down two at a time.  If she still only puts down one…OOPS! Slow down.


The “power” there is awareness of incremental progress. Building rapport and not breaking it by moving too fast.   You learn either by experience, observation…or modeling friends and mentors.  ASKING.


What had “George” done?  The same thing I did.  I gushed out my guts, dumping them on the table in a steaming pile: I LOVE YOU!!


From the way I’d come on, I had to be either a fool or a predator.  George had gone from zero to Engagement Gift before they’d shaken hands.   There is no way a

woman with self-respect and experience would not look at that and wonder what he wanted.


And if SHE was a predator?  A user?  He’d simply fallen into a trap. She got the goodies and ran.  If either of us had unfolded more carefully, revealed ourselves more gradually, MATCHED THE PACE OF OUR PARTNER…


A lot of pain could be avoided.   I asked, and observe, and finally learned. Applied what I learned. And when I had integrated that understanding, almost immediately I met the love of my life.


How do you learn?  ASK. Find people who have been married happily twenty years or longer.  Talk to them.   A LOT of them. You will begin  to see things in common, form your own theories.  Compare them with others.   This is a game for awake, aware, adult human beings. You are playing with the circuitry that creates helpless baby humans.  Whether you are using birth control, are gay, or even beyond the time of reproduction, the circuitry, more ancient than human thought, is still there, make no mistake.


If you have problems in an arena of life…if you want to rise to the next level…you need to find guides along the road ahead.


If only Romeo had done such a thing, that immortal play would have been a comedy rather than a tragedy.   Probably a minor work, yes.  Don’t let YOUR life be memorable for its tragedy.   Please


Love yourself…and share the love!

Steven Barnes

Romeo and Juliet’s Journey #4: The Road of Trials

The course of true love never did run smooth.“–Midsummer Night’s Dream


The fourth step of the Hero’s Journey is called the “Road of Trials.”


This is basically everything that the character does to bridge the gap from where they ARE to where they want to BE.


In my own life, I was alone, broke, and overweight.    Living in that one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver, Washington.  In order for me to prepare myself to meet and bond with my eventual Soulmate.


I had taken one major action: met the girl of my dreams and actually lucked my way into dating her. I had figured out two of the major flaws that kept me from being on the level of the woman I desired.  One was that I had lost my spiritual center.  It hit me hard, but I couldn’t deny it was true: I had stopped meditating, cut myself off from the source of love and deep energy in my life. Probably one of the reasons I was so attracted to this amazing woman: she HAD that energy.  I was at risk of being a vampire, because I didn’t have my own source.


I asked “what should I do?” and came to a decision: the spiritual guru I’d studied with, had a group of followers up in Seattle.  I could connect with them, and hopefully re-center myself.


I called them and it turned out that they met every Sunday to work in the kitchen of a restaurant they owned, and also play and congregate. With a heart full of hope, I drove from Vancouver to Seattle, smiling and singing.


The people were gentle, sweet, loving, filled with light and joy.  If the guys seemed a little “yin” to me, and the women just a little…bland?  No makeup, no “flirt” energy…oh well, that was fine. Maybe I was seeing something important, right?


We cleaned the kitchen, served and cooked food, and played vollyball. Great, great time.  And after, we had a feast.   I was so happy, felt at home, felt  my spiritual heart opening.  Everyone was talking about their plans for the week.  Someone asked me about my own life.


And I said that I was feeling great, and that on the way home, I was thinking of stopping to see a woman I knew, very attractive, and that I was feeling optimistic about the potential connection…


And the room went SILENT. Boom. Dead.  People gave me the side-eye and edged away from me.   WTF?


Slowly, the sound in the room picked back up again, but people weren’t talking to me. One of the seniors came up to me and asked if they could speak to me outside for a moment.  I said sure.


My stomach was filled with butterflies.  What was going on?   The guy looked embarrassed.  “Steve…” he said.  “Didn’t anyone tell you that Guru wants us to be celebate?”


If you had dropped me off a ladder onto my head, I couldn’t have seen more stars.  Oh CRAP!  THAT was the energy I’d been seeing.  And no, no one had said a thing to me, nor was it stated in any of the books or videos or lectures I’d seen and heard.  I instantly “got it”: these people, radiating a spiritual energy, were balanced in the male-female sense within themselves.   Heterosexual relationships are about creating that balance between two people. In THAT sense, from THAT perspective, the more balanced you are, the less energy there is for sexuality to release!


I was devastated.   Here was the greatest spiritual path I’d ever found, and it wasn’t for me. Why?  Because I am a sexual creature. That’s just the truth. And my attitude is that if God didn’t want me to have sex, he would simply take away my ability to physically respond, if you know what I mean and if you’re an adult I think you do.


Confused, disappointed, but just a critical bit enlightened, I realized that I had a challenge: to simultaneously open and deepen my spirituality AND stay connected to my sensual and sexual energy.


I had made a commitment to a journey (find love)

Along it I had learned I needed to grow (enhanced spirituality) to be an appropriate partner for the kind of woman I desired

I connected with my past spiritual path (driving to Seattle)

And discovered that it was no longer appropriate for me.


Was it ever?  I saw it was.  That there was a reason I’d not been told about the celibacy: because I needed something from it, a glimpse of something very special, which the Guru really did possess.   What I needed was to find that same energy while walking a path of loving connection to another human being.


I needed to find a new balance, something I’d never found. Something I wasn’t even totally certain existed.  But…others had found it.  I believed that with all my heart.


So it was out there.  And driving south that night, angry and frightened and more aware, I swore I would find that balance, a way to be centered in the divine without losing my fleshly hungers. There HAD to be a way for all those things to balance.


What seemed true was that I wasn’t going to be able to follow a clearly marked path.   My journey was MINE.  The masters had left clues, bread-crumbs, but no clear path for someone like me. And realized that  it was possible that this is just the way of life: if you are to live authentically, eventually you reach the end of the marked path, and must travel alone…for a while.


And with faith I proceeded, alone, and began to learn the lessons I seeked, and get the results I craved, until I was ready to emerge from the forest onto the path…where I found another soul who had been wandering, and we joined hands.


The road of trials.  You will have your own journey.  I can speak of mine.  And you can talk to others and get their perspective. But ultimately…you will walk alone, at least for a while.


Make your peace with that, and the rest is, if not easy, as natural as putting one foot ahead of the other.



Love yourself…and share the love!


VOTE! And how to spot sleepers and snakes…

I try to avoid politics when I can, but “what is true?” is more a matter of the philosophical.   As today is voting day, I see no rational reason any American shouldn’t stake out their position, so I will.


There are many issues concerning America right now, but it is said that the most important issue in this election for Democrats is health care.  It is such a partisan issue, like many others. But here, at least, (unlike racial and gender issues, immigration or even climate change)  I believe that there is something very close to black-and-white clarity.     More than any others, less room for honest debate on the core statistics (even if there IS room for discussion about what should be done with them)  and I suggest it can be used as a standard, a litmus test of clarity, honesty, and degree of politicized brain-freeze.

Here’s my notion: IF you believe these stats are as clear as I do, then beware of anyone who tries to twist that truth, confuse that reality.  They CANNOT be trusted on issues with less clarity.


We’ll look at the major arguments generally offered in public, repeating some things I said just a few days ago.   Repetition is the mother of skill, and this is too damned important not to hammer it in a bit:



  • Universal Health Care produces inferior results.



To those who wonder if UHC is superior to private insurance, the stats are clear.

The World Health Organization uses lifespan and infant mortality to measure the health of a people.  Let’s simplify and stick with the first: Lifespan.  Here, the U.S. ranks 26th, and EVERYONE ahead of us has UHC.  So anyone who says it “doesn’t work” will try to distract you from those numbers. Don’t let them.  Hold onto them, because there will be a torrent of rhetorical distraction.


Let’s zero in on one country, close to us geographically and demographically. Canada.  Not precise, of course: what is?  But its just across the border, and frankly, when I’ve been there, if I hadn’t known I was out of the U.S. it would take me some time to realize it.  And another simple statistic: Average life span is 82 years to the U.S.’s 79.


People will tell you that we’d do better statistically if not for those pesky minorities and poor people, who apparently WANT to die. Want their children to die.  Rip off the mask of that argument: just what the hell are they really saying?   Don’t argue with them, just let them tell you who they really are.  Decide if that is who and what YOU want to be.



  • UHC is too expensive.  We can’t afford it.



The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) believes Canada spent approximately $228 billion on health care in 2016. That’s 11.1 per cent of Canada’s entire GDP and $6,299 for every Canadian resident. 


U.S. health care spending grew 4.3 percent in 2016, reaching $3.3 trillion or $10,348 per person. As a share of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, health spending accounted for 17.9 percent.


Please look at those numbers.  They are clear.   It is NOT more expensive for the country.

Anyone who uses either of those arguments is, IMO, either asleep, or a snake.


Here’s a bonus: “Obamacare didn’t deliver these numbers. It won’t work in America.”


Yeah, well, Obamacare wasn’t UHC.  It was the closest anyone had been able to get in a half-century of struggle, a spavined camel compared to the sleek race-horse of single payer. The tactic was pretty clear: make it impossible to get to UHC, then act as if the Frankenstein patchwork that COULD get through the legislature represents what people really wanted.     If you don’t grasp the difference, I have to suspect you don’t WANT to.


That’s not to say there are not legitimate arguments.   There are several I can think of offhand:


  1. What IS true is that the money will be shifted from the private to the public sector.
  2. It is also true that there will be individuals whose very specific circumstances might not be as well served by public as private policies. These will need special insurance “riders” which might well increase their expense.    But OVERALL, for the average citizen expenses go down. Way down.
  3. You might simply say: “I don’t want my money going to help other people.”  I can understand this, and have a certain degree of empathy for it.  It is at least honest. Very few people will actually say this directly. Usually they will say it is too expensive, or doesn’t work.  In other words…distort the truth for personal or political gain.  My attitude is that government spends money on LOTS of things I’ve not approved of, including military actions that killed tens of thousands of people.  I live with that as a cost of living in a democracy. You can’t expect me to be more upset about you
  4. You might say that you are afraid of government overreach.  Too much power in too few hands.


As long as they are aware of the stats, and admit to them, this conversation is actually a useful one, as is the discussion of whether health care fits into the “Promote the general welfare” thingie.  That can be an honest, heartfelt conversation between awake, aware human beings who differ on some basic questions of life and society, but are committed to communication and inquiry into the truth. THOSE people I have little problem with, and think we can work this out together.


But people I know and love have DIED after a lifetime of working and paying taxes, for fear of medical bills.  I’m not prepared to compromise on this.  I will discuss with honest people who are aware. Sleepers and snakes need not apply.  And remember: there are monsters lurking.


Again: if you believe as I do that these basic stats are important and valid, then note the people who argue, try to confuse them, deny, try to argue about what the meaning of “is” is.  Sleepers and snakes.  Do NOT trust them on more complex issues if they can’t communicate clearly and honestly on simpler ones. They will simply try to drag you into deep water and drown you with irrelevancies.

And once again: VOTE!!




Romeo & Juliet’s journey #3: Accepting the Challenge

So we know the story: against a background of family strife, the two lovers meet and BOOM!  Fall instantly in lust.  I mean love.  Juliet feels the pull as well, but quite sensibly insists that Romeo announce his honorable intentions. Overcome with lust (I mean love) he agrees to her terms, and opens his heart despite that family strife, and despite his general caddishness.


(by the way: this is why they are so young.  Juliet is only 13!  Romeo at least 18 or 19.  He is clearly immature, and while she is actually more mature than Romeo in many ways, still a child. This explains the explosiveness of their emotions:


These violent delights have violent ends

And in their triump die, like fire and powder

Which, as they kiss, consume


They are struck by the core, central inter-personal human drive: love and sex, combined in the same package. Devastating. But it is also the driver of human life, the creator of families, the creator of children who must be protected.  And the dawn of society, which exists to protect those children.


This force is second in universal experience only to personal survival, and once you have children, most parents will sacrifice even personal that survival for their welfare.


It is the door to adulthood.   The opening of the heart to wish the same good for your love that you wish for yourself.  It is sacred, and wonderful, and also disorienting and destructive if we don’t handle it well. Sex and love combined with faith (not necessarily in the religious sense, but that also) can move mountains and change lives. Who hasn’t struggled, worked, suffered for love more than they would for their own dreams?


We grow when we love. And eventually, something very close to ALL of us feel this pull, and wish to connect.   What if you are gay? Or beyond the reproductive years? Or simply don’t wish to have children?


I suggest it doesn’t matter. The same “wiring”, programming, biological, psychological, social or spiritual needs are there to CONNECT.


Do you remember that first moment when you felt mature love?  Not just attraction, but the sense that this person might be the other half of you? That you were willing to change your life, change your mind, become something better than you have been?


In the words of Peter O’Toole in “Creator”–do you see your unborn children in her eyes? Can you see yourself walking together and helping each other along the road of life after youth has fled, and animal passions died from a roar to a gentle nudge?


If you combine love, sex and faith in a future together IT CHANGES YOU.  And the first time you experience it, a door of perception opens that you might not have even known existed.


Eventually, you will accept the challenge of loving, or admitting you want love. The only thing then is to prepare yourself.  To be the very best “you” that you can be. To be as healed, and strong and beautiful as you can be, to be able to nurture and gladden. To find someone whose standards for power and beauty are enough like yours (and to live up to those standards!) so that you can relish each other, without the slightest sense of “settling” or “making do.”


Start with loving yourself. Really, thoroughly, deeply loving yourself, and you will know the value of your heart’s gift.


My bounty is as boundless as the sea,

My love as deep; the more I give to thee,

The more I have, for both are infinite.”


THAT is the true gift you have to give.  Do not doubt. And do not squander it.   It is more precious than anything that can be given one human being to another.


Start by giving it to yourself, and you will never mistake its value.


Love yourself…and share the love!


Romeo’s Journey #2: Rejection of the Challenge

“My only love sprung from my only hate!

Too early seen unknown, and known too late!

140Prodigious birth of love it is to me,

That I must love a loathèd enemy.” — Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 5

So we started looking at the ten steps of the Hero’s Journey, related to finding a relationship. The first step is to confront a challenge. In this case, it is to find a mate, to admit that we want a life partner, a love, a passionate connection.

Once you admit that you want something that is out of your reach, it is perfectly natural that fear will bubble up. Why? Well, if may be “hard” or demand “sacrifice” or carry risk of “failure” and rejection. It will be a bumpy road.

And there is another reason to reject: IF the goal is something large enough to transform our lives, then our old self-image cannot survive the transition. We must become a new person. If THAT is the case, then no matter if it is a positive or negative change, it can trigger terror. We have to find a way to move through this fear, or develop a healthy relationship with it, or use it to motivate ourselves to examine WHY we are afraid, and perhaps develop sub-goals: “I want to become a Formula One driver, but first I have to learn to drive.” Smaller goal.

“I want the love of my life, but first I have to convince her father I’m a good guy” is a pretty common obstacle in romantic comedies. In Romeo & Juliet, probably the most famous love story in literature, the obstacle is made glaring: the families of the young lovers are deadly rivals and hate each other.

The lovers have to overcome this, and in a comedy, all would have been well eventually, and the families would have come together in a wedding at the end. Surely the delivery of the first grandchild would have done it.

I don’t want to spoil the story (!) but the road to true love really doesn’t run smoothly. But we’ll save that for another time.

The point is that when you think “I want my perfect partner” you might well run into a raft of emotions. Journaling them out could be a terrific exercise. What precisely do you think stands between you and the thing you desire?

  1. You’ve been hurt before. Rejection.
  2. You feel that you aren’t “good enough” for the type of person you crave to be with.
  3. Fear of scarcity: “There are no good men/women.”
  4. Fear that you will learn something unpleasant about yourself if you try.

There are others. List them. Look around you at other people who speak of love and relationships, and ask THEM what they are/were afraid of. Look carefully for the other labels fear hides behind: guilt, shame, anger, rage, resentment, anxiety, shyness, etc.

Fear has a thousand faces, but there are just two core emotions here: fear and love. And the good news is that once you identify what is stopping you, you can then ask:

HOW did I develop this phobia?

WHO was involved in the creation of this association?

Does it still serve me?

Is it true?

What is it trying to protect me from?

And so forth. The better you get at this, the more precisely you define the problem, the easier it is to know what resources you will need to get through it.

Keep your eyes on the ball. What you want, what you desire, is a life partner. What you NEED here is clarity of what is going on inside you, even if the answer is: “what is clear is that I don’t know why I am afraid.”

That’s fine as well. Admitting it will send you searching for resources. A subject we’ll return to soon.

But first, dig in. What is the fear? Where does it come from? What is it trying to protect you from? Understand that, and you are half-way home.

Love yourself…and share the love!

Steven Barnes

Sunday Morning Musings: The “Three Gates” and UHC and Quasi-Living Things

Sunday morning musing time.   Its fun being a science fiction writer.  I can string together ideas and see if they fit, in the context of internal logic rather than convincing anyone that something is “actually real”.  And a flow of notions this morning connected in an interesting way.




This will connect with some basic notions: you’ll spot them as we go along, but they include


  1. The “three gates” of speech:

Is it true?

Is it useful?

Is it kind?


  1. The notion of human equality between groups defined by race and gender
  2. A wilder notion, something called “Big Body Heuristics”: that the actions of large organizations are best understood as if they are demi-lifeforms with dim consciousness and survival motivations.


Let’s have fun.



I think I see a cluster of exaggerations that one side thinks kind, and the other side finds useful.  It involves UHC, Universal Health Care.  Something that the Left says works just fine everywhere in the world but here, and the Right says “it doesn’t work” and “it is too expensive.”


I think we can put the raw facts out pretty easily:  Let’s compare the U.S. and Canada, shall we?


The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) believes Canada spent approximately $228 billion on health care in 2016. That’s 11.1 per cent of Canada’s entire GDP and $6,299 for every Canadian resident.


U.S. health care spending grew 4.3 percent in 2016, reaching $3.3 trillion or$10,348 per person. As a share of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, health spending accounted for 17.9 percent.



People who say “we can’t afford it” wouldn’t’ seem to be looking at the same numbers.   They also can’t say “it doesn’t work, as the relative life spans of Canada and the U.S. are 82 and 79.  The World Health Organization considers longevity and infant mortality to be the most basic indicators of a country’s health.   Beware of people who try to complicate or distract from this.



What’s the problem, then?


I think that the main problem with UHC is that the Left doesn’t want to say “your taxes will go up” and the Right  doesn’t want to say “I don’t want my money spent to help strangers stay well.


There is a…shall we way “clarity gap”  because the raw stats show very clearly that it is more efficient and effective for producing the core indicators of health, and cheaper per capita. But…there is a shift of money spent from the private to the public arena.  THAT is definitely true.


So…people confuse the truth.


Your taxes will go up…but your expenditures will go down, on average.   THAT would seem to be the truth.


Government would get bigger (assuming nothing else shifted) so the “government can’t do anything right” people are of course up in arms.   Note that they have to ignore a raft of evidence from around the world that UHC  gets better results.     Usually they will counter with anecdotal, or mention some specific disease where people are better served by private insurance. They’d HAVE to exist, just like there are living cells in that hamburger you just ate.    But keep your eyes on the ball: longevity and infant mortality. Watch them argue about what the definition of “is” is. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.


So…Cui bono?  Who benefits from the confusion?


Let’s see…there would be some on either side. I’ll try to present what I see as the possibilities with as little editorializing as possible. I can’t deny I have a perspective, but I’ll try to be as objective as possible.  I DO start with the assumption that the statistics offered are roughly accurate. They can be checked very easily, which is an advantage. NO ONE WHO DENIES THESE BASIC STATISTICS could possibly agree with what follows, so your opinions are predictable and IMO irrelevant to the discussion.


Why might someone deliberately distort the truth?


  1. Left: people who want UHC and are willing to twist the truth to get better health care.
  2. Left: people who want government to grow larger.
  3. Right: People who don’t believe the statistics, and believe that UHC is less effective or more expensive for a nation.
  4. Right: People who don’t want their tax dollars spent in this way, for “those” people.
  5. Right: People afraid of larger government
  6. Right: People afraid that their specific health needs will be less effectively treated in such a system.   The cost of taxes PLUS a health rider policy might reasonably be higher than the cost of a basic private policy alone.  This is not an hallucination, and is an honorable objection IMO.


All of these have to do with “people”. What individual human beings desire and fear. But…there are other entities involved.  And here is where we veer into SF territory.


View “Governments” and “Corporations” as demi-life forms, large and complex enough to have quasi-consciousness but certainly the “desire” to survive and grow.  Each contains the same human beings (consider them like “cells” in the overall body) and each is ideal (IMO) for different aspects of human life.


But…they both cooperate, and are in competition. In some ways, deadly competition. Private industries seem better for almost any consumer desires and products, governments better at infrastructures and critical services.    Governments put limitations on Corporations through laws and taxes…and Corporations feed the notion of deregulation and distrust of governments through donations to political groups and advertising.


Oh, it’s fun to watch.  I do remember listening to Communists talking about how all the industry should be under the control of government. They seemed unreasoning fanatics to me.  Now I hear people talking about how government can’t do ANYTHING right, and THEY sound just the same: unreasoning fanatics.  Of course, as you modify that POV, you get more and more reasonable: a debate about which form of organization is better for what result at what time by what standards is perfectly fine.


But beware of people who enter the discussion with that “government can’t do anything!” attitude.  Treat them like Communists or Flat Earthers and I think you’ll be safest.


Look for the real arguments under the lies: yeah, taxes will go up.  But overall expenditures will go down.  Look for the people who understand that, and   obfuscate.


And ask yourself: what is the future of our culture? Our species?  Our planet?  What do you consider the basic social contract?  Speak of that honestly, without lying. The truth is enough. If we speak the truth, we will, I believe, come to the best decisions.


Unless…you look down on the “common man”.  Think that there is a hierarchy of value and capacity that prevents Democracy from working, or even a Democratic Republic from really functioning.  This is definitely the “nature” side of the argument. It will rarely speak its truth, as some of the conclusions are things we’ve decided are anathema to the dream of America.  There is a toxic aspect to the other side as well: the notion that everyone should get equal results.    On a group level dealing with race and ethnicity, I agree that with a level playing field you will get roughly equal results.    On an individual level…not so much.  And if you believe that it would be equal, even for all individuals, then the force of Government to bring that to life would be oppressive and toxic.


OF course, there are people who believe a level playing field would bring equal results, AND DON’T WANT THAT.    They want that nice advantage.  They just won’t say it out loud.


And there are others who just don’t believe that ‘those’ people are equal. They will generally hide that behind defining equality as social, or legal, or “in the eyes of God” or “I treat people as individuals.”   That’s fine. And many of them are fine, moral people.    But watch out for those phrases, and be aware of what is hiding behind them.


And be aware that when an organization of any kind grows to a certain size, its actions might best be interpreted as those of an organism: hungry, growing.  And at a larger size, with sophisticated communication…one might wonder if its actions might be considered those of an organism developing a central nervous system…or even awareness.


The tobacco industry certainly looked out for itself rather than its customers.


Those who believe in AGW would certainly consider that the petroleum industry seems to be more interested in its own survival than that of human beings (short sighted, yes. But I didn’t say that demi-organism was smart)


And the Insurance Industry, seeing its power threatened would certainly (from that odd quasi-life form perspective) join with other corporations looking to suppress the power of the only “life” form on the planet which rivals and controls it.  “Smart” enough to support the political/philosophical positions that fear government.  Enough to get people to ignore relatively simple statistics, and vote against their own best interests.


But that’s just morning musing, just asking what perspectives make sense of different events.  Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed. Not just between different groups of human beings, but between human and non-human entities.


Its fun being a science fiction novelist. I don’t have to convince people of anything except: “Isn’t this a fun story?”


Well….isn’t it fun?





Romeo’s First Step

If we want to apply the “Hero’s Journey” model to relationships, it is valuable to be specific, so let’s start with the first step.


  1. The hero is confronted with a challenge.  “Come with me, Luke, learn the ways of  the Force” was the call to adventure in the original Star Wars film.


What is it with relationships?  The urge to model Mommy and Daddy?  Loneliness?  Sexual hunger?  The urge to reproduce or maintain social standards?


In the most famous love story in all of western fiction, ROMEO AND JULIET, Romeo is apparently a bit of a cad, who woos and wins and tosses women away like disposable napkins.  He speaks of Rosiline’s chastity and beauty, but we sense it is a childish thing, a “starter” relationship. He’s playing at it.


But it is when he meets Juliette that he is fully engaged, struck with “the challenge” of forming a mature (well…MORE mature, anyway) relationship.  Not just for sex or social position, but because his heart has been turned inside-out, struck by “the Thunderbolt” as the saying goes.


This urge hits us on the sexual and emotional levels. It has biologically reproductive as well as socially conditioned aspects.  It hits HARD, and it would probably be reasonable to say that about 99.9% of people, deep down, crave it at some point in their lives.


We do so much as a culture preparing our children for this “Thunderbolt”.  We know it will happen one day just like it did to Bambi and Thumper: you’re going to get “twitterpated”.



Do YOU remember the first crush?  How about the first time your crush looked at you and “crushed” back?  That sense of Oh My God, when you realized that someone who was beautiful to you found you attractive?  That can be one of the most intoxicating feelings in the world, and if your values are clear and your self-respect high, it can be one of the most valuable and transformative feeliings of your life.


In the classic self-help book “Think And Grow Rich” Napoleon Hill says that the combined emotions of love, faith, and sex combine to create extraordinary drive and clarity of mind, and have lifted countless people to highest of genius and accomplishment. THAT, as Huey Lewis once sang, is The Power of Love.


So the very first step is to tell the truth: you want it. Crave it.  And are willing to begin the journey to have it.  Without that admission, you cannot have mind and heart in alignment.  And that can be dangerous, because, as the saying goes…the heart wants what it wants.


Better to figure out which way the river is going, and then get yourself a boat.  Swimming upstream can be exhausting.


Although salmon seem to dig it…



Love yourself…and share the love!