The Fault in Our Stars


the_fault_in_our_stars_by_teidebliss deviantart

In a recent interview with John Green, author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” he talked briefly about the title, based on the famous passage from William Shakespeare’s, “Julius Ceasar:”

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” — Act 1, Scene 2

Green believes that there are components from our experience of the world of fate (in our stars) and our choice of actions (in ourselves) that go into determining the outcomes of our lives, and it’s not simply in one or the other. We cannot control everything that happens to us (fate), but we can act definitively in our own best interests (our choices), in spite of whether or not we are required to do so by circumstances.


Caravaggio – “The Fortuneteller,” — circa 1595-98 – Paris – Musée du Louvre

Long ago, when our ancient ancestors had not yet developed a spoken language, communication between individuals likely amounted to posturing and body language which had to be interpreted by one another. By the time we developed sufficient brain capacity and skull architecture to allow formulating rudimentary speech, our intuitive instincts had already developed greatly, and in combination with speech, became all the more compelling as a means to further our ability as humans to construct language.

Two individuals, sufficiently open to intuitive responses today, can almost eliminate the need for speech altogether in the right circumstances, even though we often choose to confirm our intuitive responses through language. Locking eyes with another human being, particularly if it is being done in a positive way, can sometimes communicate far more efficiently than pages of detailed explanations. Under favorable conditions, especially between two individuals mutually inclined, an exchange of eye contact and openness to intuitive sensitivities can produce an urgency toward speech that might not have existed otherwise. This sense of urgency may well have been one of the most important factors in the development of language in the first place.


Emotional responses can also occur without an overtly obvious verbal stimulus and may be the result of intuition, independent of our deliberate intent or conscious choice, and even without our conscious awareness of its presence. When we pick up on intuitive responses, consciously or not, the fault may be in our stars as cognitive and emotional creatures, or it may result from viewing the stars themselves.

stars at night2

A while ago, I took out my telescope and stood out on the back porch gazing upward at the crisply clear wee-hours-of-the-morning sky. The moonless night is most advantageous for stargazing, and after a hectic day or a rough patch anytime, it feels good to connect with something far away. The heavens were dazzling this particular early morning, and as I stood under the canopy of darkness, punctuated by groupings of stars, I felt a twinge of awe. No matter how many times I look up at the starry vault, I can’t help but feel a bit humbled by the implications of the immensity of the world out there. Hundreds of thousands of light years away, some even hundreds of millions of light years distant, are suns of epic proportions, churning out virtually limitless volumes of intense energy, only reaching the mirror at the back of my telescope after a mind-boggling journey from unimaginable distances.


I am inspired by the stars because of the mystery they evoke, the beauty they embody, and the knowledge that they are, in many cases, enormously larger than our own familiar star at the center of our own obscure Milky Way galaxy, created by the same process that is responsible for producing our sun, which provides our life sustaining light and warmth, and governs the cycles of the seasons here on Earth. Our fault is not in our stars, dear reader, but it is not in ourselves completely either.

…more to come…

Reflections from Within

clouds water3

There’s almost no telling how love will unfold in our personal lives or as we move through the world-at-large. As we progress through our lives, we all seem to arrive at our own understanding of what it means to love someone. We learn first about love from our parents or primary caretakers whoever they end up being, and often it’s amazing to us as adults what sticks with us through all the changes and stages of growth we go through. In some circumstances, where our lives are most often in balance as we grow, we learn to appreciate the love we are given, and have a fair idea of how to demonstrate our love based on these experiences. For most of us, though, the balance is often tipped in one direction or the other, and it can take a long time to appreciate how other people might differ in their understanding of what it means to love another person.


I have often encountered circumstances in my life, where people have inspired me to feel a loving connection in one way or another, but who have a difficult time understanding how it could be that such a connection is even possible. I have often thought, that there should be some guidance in our educational system, particularly when children are approaching adolescence, to begin to appreciate the many different varieties of emotional connection that people feel, and to broaden the definitions of love across the whole spectrum of human interactions. It seems to me that, as a rule, we are far too rigid in our views of what reasonably might constitute a loving relationship between parents and children, amongst siblings, between extended family groups, and between the many different levels of friendship that we encounter as we age. Our best friend in grammar school can still be our best friend in our adult life, or they can vanish from our lives for any number of reasons, and every variety of circumstance can either contribute to the longevity of friendship or make it impossible to continue, just as every other sort of relationship can experience long periods of enriching and enduring affection, or be lost or mitigated by extenuating circumstances.

history of the world

The amount of time in which a life takes place, which includes everything from a few moments to, at times, nearly a century of life, is one of the least important measures of a life. Each of us is given a certain amount of time to live our lives, and none of us knows in advance how long it will be before we must relinquish our lives. This is the very nature of life–uncertainty. In some ways, uncertainty DEFINES life. If we knew about everything that would happen in our lives in advance, and the exact moment when life would end, there would be no mystery, no wonder, no sense of anticipation, no expectation, no reason to try anything. Because life is unpredictable, it is worth getting up in the morning to see what will happen! Life is about potentiality. When we DON’T know what will happen, or how long we will have to do anything, it’s up to us to discover how our lives will unfold. It is always sad, as an observer of life, when we see a life that is, from our perspective, cut short, before it has had sufficient time to unfold in the normal way. But really, each life, no matter how long it is, is precious, and worth every effort to live each moment fully, for however long we have to live it.


I am not an expert at anything. I am not a scholar, or a magician, or a superstar quarterback. Even though I attended two universities for more than four years, I haven’t translated it into a successful career or a particularly abundant life. What I can say about my life, given that the measures we normally apply to accomplishment, in my case, are not especially impressive, is that my life EXPERIENCES have been extraordinary. Every memory I have is precious to me. I have been the father to six amazing children. I have served my country in the military, traveled to Europe for two years, and met many extraordinary people. I have experienced great joy, as well as terrible sadness.


I have experienced hunger, deprivation, loneliness, bitterness, rejection, loss, and just about every sort of unhappiness imaginable, but I have also been a witness to and a participant in spectacular experiences of loving; I have attended feasts, and eaten at fine restaurants; I have vacationed in beautiful natural settings; I have attended family reunions with some of the most fabulous people on the planet; I have been satisfied in many different ways, and cried tears of joy as I held precious newborn children in my arms. As I write this, I am expecting the arrival of my sixth grandchild!

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I could go on, but you can see from just these few examples that no matter what we accomplish in our lives, when it comes right down to it, what we EXPERIENCE is what means the most to us; it’s what hurts us the most; it’s what drives us and what slays us; what we experience is more important than what we accomplish almost always, and all the skills and knowledge we acquire, as vital as these aspects are in helping us to function in and to understand our world, we must BE IN the world and experiencing our lives in order to make any good use of any of it. All of our choices in life, from the smallest to the most profoundly significant, alter the space/time continuum. One of the most vexing questions in philosophy is the issue of free will. If our minds are simply and only the result of neuronal functioning and the basic electro-chemical balance in our brains, then none of us can be held truly accountable for our actions, since we are at the mercy of brain chemistry and the endowment of adequate neuronal functioning.


My contention is that while we are clearly dependent on a nominally functional nervous system to interact in a meaningful way with other sentient beings, the delicate balance of brain chemistry and neuronal functionality only provides a platform from which we can launch our lives as cognitive creatures. There are other more subtle and more mysterious forces at work in our lives, some of which we may eventually comprehend and predict reliably, and others that are part of the divine life of the spirit within. The power to alter our lives at any time is within our grasp. We have the means to evaluate and discern which choice is best for us. We can choose to act in our own self-interest, or in consideration of what is in the best interests of others. Depending on our choices, a whole variety of alternate realities are possible.

The dynamics of each unique personal relationship has always been a subject of interest for me, especially since I began to explore the nature of human interactions as they relate to our very human spirit. As we make our way through our lives, we probably encounter hundreds of other individuals through our educational and social circles, but normally only a very select few become particularly significant to us in one way or another. We generally become aware of these connections when proximity permits sufficient opportunity to do so, but proximity alone can not account for the development of close, personal (and dare I say…spiritual) connections, particularly those which endure across great distance and long years. While there are many different foundations for our unique relationships, and much that is not necessarily self-evident regarding the psychology which supports them, the existence of a powerful personal and emotional affinity for another clearly infers a greater degree of connection not explicable by simple biology, psychology, chemistry or mere chance.

Our current social structure in the Western World has evolved significantly in the last hundred years or so, and we are beginning to understand and appreciate the value of our unique personal relationships as part of a broader and completely natural social adaptation, which has been part and parcel of our continued evolution as a species since upright humans first walked the earth.

As the story continues to unfold in Massachusetts, unique personal relationships suddenly become more important than ever……