Mistress in My Mind


©Robert J. Harris PhD July 7, 2022

I was compelled to sketch this little story ten years ago when I had just completed surgical replacement of both knees a year apart and was about to move to Baltimore to be near my famous Jazz Musician Son while I focused on writing fulltime at 71 years old. I just had a need to process a very busy long life on the cutting edge of profound change (internal and external). I had spent a lifetime “out of the box” learning, creating, thinking and writing for CEOs of large and small companies alike to help them stay a step ahead of the future, whose pace was rapidly accelerating. Now, I was faced with doing the same for me as my “last client.” The “good news” was the same as the “bad news: “I could do whatever I wanted.”

I would be living that old joke: “A man who has himself as a client is a fool?

(To be LIVE or to beLEAVE may be the most basic choices of existence!)

Recognizing this dilemma, which I had seen countless times in client companies, I was forewarned of the difficulty ahead of me. Then it occurred to me that I could do what had been so successful for me for all my life: Create a richly imagined Reality of my powerful CEO client’s world, including, CEO and employees focusing on how they were trying to fit into the rapidly changing worldof 8 billion people. It started with him or her. I focused on each client’s company ACTIONS first, kept plugged into world changes, and then focused on staff TALK second to understand their worldview without pre-judgement. Finally, I had to know and understand what their aspirations were and figure out how I could help them meet their needs.

Could I do all that for myself? That is my story. It starts with a random insight ten years ago that persists: Football, or sports in general, going back before when humans first walked on two legs a million years ago, is a metaphor for LIFE’s fundamental existence. Here is the edited conversation that popped into my head in 2012.

Football: Metaphor for Life

Hey, Robert, I have a super insight for you at this moment.

Leave me alone, I am watching the NFL playoffs.

Are you sure that’s what you want to do?.

She hissed seductively like the snake from Eden to focus my attention on her.

Here it is: You are just watching someone else’s work-life, not living your life.

(Little bitch; she made me cuss her angrily so I put my private thoughts in black italics type to keep her out of my head for a while.)

“We have important work to do,” she murmured; fun work that you love to do that makes you happy.  Come join me for a virtual drink; let’s have some fun.

Shit! Andrew Luck just fumbled the ball, the Ravens recovered and now a boring TV commercial.  Well, at least I successfully ignored her this time. I will get a little glass of wine.

Come to think of it… (EXCUSE ME HERE! I WAS SPEAKING!) — she is always there coiled up in the back of my mind trying to get my attention. She never sleeps and stays ready in her seductive pose offering exciting glimpses of new feelings and understandings of Reality by providing me access to her magical world of possibilities. She always holds out the promise to open it wide for me if only I will come out and play. I am hardly the first to yield to her charms.  Shakespeare’s first draft of his most famous line ever may have been:

“To play or not to play, that is the question! “

Actually Robert, that was his first draft; not bad for a 15th century innovator, but I got him to clean it up for posterity. To be fair, Shakespeare also wanted to avoid being laughed at, so he changed the word “play” to the word “be,” because after all, he was trying to write a bleeping famous PLAY, for God’s sake, when nobody knew what a ‘Play’ was!” Just shut up; I get it.

Damn it, you did it again and I wasn’t even aware of it! A brief gap in a TV commercial is all it took for you to worm your way back into my consciousness.

Excuse me! I know you are just trying to be left alone to watch a stupid football game (She is a subtle, but very powerful force that never stops.) I am proud to say that I am ultimately the source of your pain and pleasure, and their mutual conflicts: any money you have ever made or lost; the diversity of your many works, bad to good, in life; your emotional experiences; your loved ones, friends and enemies; endless rivers of excitement and sadness; what you give to and receive from others; and most importantly, I am here as your personal guide to help steer your life’s path. So, PAY ATTEMTION!

Ok, Ok!!! You are the Mistress in My Mind.  Your name is Curiosity.  I will call you “Curio.”

Shit! Now it’s is halftime with a score of 10 to 6 and I have no idea how it happened.  Bad, bad Curio; I will always love you and can never leave you for long, but you must give me some space for earthly stuff from time to time.  So go seduce another soul for a while.  I know I am not your only one. (That’s ok; You are NOT my only fantasy guide!”)

(Curio whispering reassuringly) “Chill Robert; the score is still 10 to 6, with the Colts driving at their 30-yard line,” (She continued with a mischievous grin.) I called on others from my realm to keep the game boring for you while you did this little piece of writing, which I triggered for you, by the way; You know…strange loops, tangled with other strange loops, tangled to infinity and back! Sorry. I am sharing too much.  I’m just saying “Hang in there Bucko.” You will Need and Have all of us when the time is right. 

(to be continued)

Hope For The Future


©Robert Harris, PhD                                                                                                                                               


After the past two worst nightmare years ever from the Covid pandemic, my best hope for humanity going into 2022 is for us to focus the awesome power of our human imagination to find new and better ways of loving life and each other.

“Conflict” has always been at the heart of “living” because without conflict, there would be no “change” of any kind: good, bad, or ugly; no reason for living! We desperately need each other because we are all different and curious to some degree of what others think and do. Hello! The “collective death” caused by isolating individuals physically from one other is the worst we can do to others. This is what Covid did to all of us.

So how have we collectively responded to this isolation? We blame and fight each other as a collective roar of disappointment with our isolation. We have met the enemy and it is us! In the last two years world civilization has seemly regressed back to humanity’s beginnings fighting just to survive.

Fighting to the death is so millions of years ago! Leave “fighting” to professional sports for pleasuring the reptilian parts of our brains.

Maybe humanity just arrived at a critical tipping point when Covid-19 hit our frictionless world riddled with new global instabilities triggered by changing times and technologies?  Imagine we are poised at the tipping point of witnessing and living through a historic transition from the Industrial Age to a new epoch.

I believe this new era is already visible, and maybe we are half way there. It is easy to imagine that the underlying explosion of rising conflict all around the world is similar to the way the artistic Renaissance (14th century) era merged with the scientific Enlightenment era (16th century) to challenge society norms of the times.

Civilization has had a good 250 year run of the mechanical Industrial Revolution leading up to the next tipping point of change. We have learned the Industrial Age’s good, bad and ugly impacts; now it is ready for a major overall.

I have been fortunate to make a good and interesting life for 80 years living in the future during the present time of this exciting era according to the famous dictum of SyFy writer (Neuromancer 1984), William Gibson: “The future is already here. It’s just unevenly distributed.

I am calling this new epoch the Smart-Magination-Revolution (SMR) of the Frictionless Age.

I write about the three main things I have learned during my 80 years of “living in the future:”

(1) Mechanical knowledge alone is useful and predictable, but is ultimately boring;

(2) Artistic knowledge alone is pleasing and unpredictable, but is always exciting;

(3) Practice improves both Mechanical and Artistic knowledge, but there exists a natural blend between the two for each person that is perfectly satisfying.

This post starts a new series of essays on my Life, Work, and Meaning blogs in the new Frictionless Age.

My View of Reality in 186 Words


©Robert J. Harris. PhD

Why does a new born baby cry? It’s the only language it has to let the outside world know:

I am hungry, thirsty, wet, too hot or cold, scared, and lonely!”

These seven deadly survival needs will persist throughout the baby’s adult life. A new life of learning begins for the baby as it forms its personal ever-evolving view of Reality – IT’S SELF, as it constantly evolves from personal experience through many nested levels of internal and external change until it dies. What is left “alive” by the baby’s lived-life after death is the net difference between what the baby took out of the universe during its life, and what it gave back to “Wholes.” All “parts” are temporary (short half-lives) parts of any“Wholes” (longer half-lives) allowing wholes to continue being “longer-term” temporary as both Wholes and Parts dance with each other as all undergo constant change searching for ever higher Total Net Value for all.



Our World View Persective (Paradigm) Shapes our Reality

Wha t yous ee is wh aty ou get b ut w hat yo usee is h owyo u see; YOU SEE: We loo K throughfilters wede sign wit hlove o F0B Jects wede sire.


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RJH Tweet from November 22, 2017


Surprising, Laughter, Thanks

Written November 27, 2021 ©Robert J. Harris, PhD

It’s Saturday morning at 10.05 am, two days after Thanksgiving. In two hours, #2 Ohio State and #5 Michigan will square off to see who wins with a chance to compete for the National College football championship of 2021. Ohio State has beat Michigan the last 8 yeaars. I can’t wait to be surprised!

I turned on ESPN TV to confirm the time and channel for the big game. Six talking heads had already started blaring their individual “Choreographed Competing Celebrity Professional Opinions” (CCCPO’s) across each other on which team will win and why!  It was definitely a good time to dash out in the cool, crisp, and sunny blue sky of Baltimore to stock up on essential weekend sports snacks.

I returned with snacks and I was preparing to let my writing mind wake up and search out whatever magic ride it held for me that day.  I turned my TV down to barely an audible hum.  I was about to untie the imaginary rope anchoring my mental ship of state, but what materialized in my consciousness was a strange, brief and surprising encounter I had earlier on this Saturday morning with a stranger I met in my apartment lobby as I was going out for football snacks.

The lobby was empty except for one person, a 60-ish man sitting in a motorized wheel chair situated inside the alcove next to the door. His face opened into a friendly expectant smile as he made inviting and friendly eye contact. But something did not feel right! Was he friend or foe? My senses were off after the world went bat-shit crazy during the last two years of covid death, disruption, and deceit. How could you tell if a “surprise” was a conflict or a blessing?

I nodded with a “Good Morning” and a smile as I approached the exit door. Then he beckoned me to come over to him holding out a single piece of printed paper in his hand. I approached carefully. He spoke slowly in a broken sentence as he handed me this piece of paper, saying to me: “I had a stroke and can’t read any more,” as he pointed to his brain.

I ask him if he wanted me to read it? He said yes with a big smile, shaking his head up and down, handing me the piece of paper. I settled into a cushy lobby chair and read it slowly as he read my lips. The paper was a “personal” Fingerhut mass mailout advertisement that said he had been approved for a $700 credit card with these terms: “The more he charged each month the more his credit to spend would increase.” My first thought was:

This is the crack cocaine of credit cards!

I asked slowly and clearly, “Is this a card you are planning to use?” He smiled, shaking his head side to side signifying “no” and then said “No!” loudly and defiantly, chuckling with a smile. I then spoke my silent thought out loud slowly:

“You know, this is the ‘crack cocaine’ of credit cards. The more you spend the more credit you get to spend, and the more you spend until you go broke!”

He laughed uproariously, shaking his head up and down in an agreeable fashion, muttering “crack! crack!” I joined his laughter. Then we said good goodbye and I left for snacks.

I reminded myself to write a post on my blog of this strange encounter as soon as I got back to my apartment.  Three words instantly jumped into my head:  Surprising. Laughter. Thanks.

This was just a reminder of what just happened. When I got back to my apartment, I sat down to write and cranked up my laptop.  I typed those three words in the title position of a blank virtual page as a place holder. These words did not sound like a title to me; I could always change them later, I silently thought: 

What is it that we love and hate about conflict?

Perhaps we are drawn to “Conflict” because it “Surprises!” us, by stimulating our imagination, making us think, comparing our lives to see where we fit on the spectrum of “possible.”

Perhaps we are drawn to surprise because it encourages us to give “Thanks!” when we run into it, or participate in it, or even create it ourselves (the best?).

Perhaps because conflict is the “heart of surprise” it represents exciting new possibilities, making us laud our positive surprises with our deepest appreciation for adding both mystery and happiness to our lives.

Perhaps we “Laugh” to celebrate the happiness that the novelty of the surprise brings to our ordinary lives to make us smile and laugh out loud.

However, these deeper possible meanings of – Surprise, Laugh, Thanks – did not really occur to me until I had started slipping down the rhetorical rabbit hole of my life on many versions of this recurring question:  

“WHAT The Hell is REALITY Really All About?”

This question first took root in my 26-year-old mind (with a PhD physics diploma in my back pocket) 55 years ago as a deeper non-physics question: “Why do humans (including me), as well as all objects and ideas, tend to be drawn towards conflict? (e.g., America’s governing constitution rides on conflict resolution between Conservatives and Liberals, neutral matter tends to clump, charged matter (+/-) is either attracted to opposite charges (-/+) or repelled by the same charge (++/- -) just like politics.)  Physics had no answer to this deeper Reality Conflict question until the last few recent years.

I will explore my path to answer this question in future blog posts, starting with the “narrative lie” I was taught that “electrons buzz around a nucleus like our moon circling our earth” which, in retrospect, caused me to adopt a career in society away from an academic scientific career.

I would like to thank the lobby stranger I met for sharing his Fingerhut letter with me, to the laugh we shared at my “cocaine sales letter” comment, and to the surprise initiative that he took to ask me for help reading the letter to him, which I gladly provided. This surprise was not a conflict, it was an opportunity for two strangers to meet, commune and have a laugh together.

By the way, Michigan won 42 to Ohio 27 in snow after a long drought!

Recovery From Hip Surgery

Letter of Thanks to Medstar Union Memorial Hospital Staff

©Robert J. Harris, PhD

September 20, 2021

©Robert Joseph Harris PhD

On August 18 I left my 12th floor apartment on Bolton Hill and sauntered out of my building at about 6:30 pm, full of optimism after a productive day of writing about “Reality.” My work day had ended in a brainstorming phone session with Steve, a brilliant free-spirit IT expert living in North Carolina. I just needed to get a quart of milk from Walgreens across the street for breakfast the next morning. As I left my building’s entrance, mental alarm bells quickly replaced my optimistic mood; a homeless man was walking briskly toward me, not really looking at me, among other apartment residents milling close by on this lazy sunny afternoon. Why was he looking down and walking toward me?

The closer he got the louder my alarms rang. At the last moment as he almost ran into me, he suddenly lurched down toward my feet.  I quickly pivoted back on my right leg to see what he was doing as he picked up a still-lit cigarette on the pavement near my foot and took one last draw, exhaling casually as he stood up, and asked: “Got any change Buddy?” At the same moment, I began to fall down as I muttered, “Sorry, no cash.” My right leg crumbled dropping me to the pavement.

Two kind neighbors next to me (a man and a woman) reached down to help me up on my left leg. But when I put any weight on my right foot a sharp pain shot up my leg to my hip.  One of these folks called 911 and I was whisked away to the Medstar Union Memorable Hospital in minutes.   X-rays showed that my hip socket ball had snapped off from my right leg bone (femur) and would have to be replaced. I would soon meet Dr. Mark Richardson, the attending Orthopedic Surgeon who would repair my hip with his team, and Dr. Jim Parshall, with Medstar’s Geriatrics Center for Successful Aging (I turned 80 in 2021).

The main purpose of this letter is to acknowledge and personally thank each person who cared for me in the Hospital.  Although each of you had different skills and roles, collectively, YOU ALL felt “connected” as an intangible web of coordinated caring.  Each person patiently answered my many questions with empathy, concern, and knowledge as you all focused on the job at hand, knowing that: “I was not your only patient that day.”

(Last minute thought: I drafted most of this letter during the first week after I was released from the hospital about three months ago when my feelings and experience were most vivid. In retrospect, as I look back three months ago, I believe I may have been in some kind of “shock” based on how I talked to close friends by phone during my hospital stay, as well to hospital staff.  For what it is worth, my close friends who know me well volunteered that “I was unusually chatty and more far-ranging than usual.“)

At any rate, during my last 3 days in the hospital after I recovered from “surgery La-La Land,” I decided to ask each person to sign their first name and role in taking care of me on a piece of paper so I could thank them personally and collectively in a kick-ass “thank you” letter. This is that letter. Each person agreed with a smile, without hesitation, and told me something about themselves when I asked. Here is the list in the order signed, including one I forgot to ask late one night:

  1. GabbyOccupational Therapist (“learn baby steps”)
  2. ConnieEVS-House Keeping (“It’s natural to be nice to people.”)
  3. KellySaturday Nurse (“Technology Multitasker – cleaned up my IV drip”)
  4. KarenPhysical Therapy (“I had to pass fake car test.”)
  5. StaceyCertified Nurse Assistant (Doing what needed to be done without being asked.”)
  6. Cascara Nephrology (“Asked about, and knew, my Kaiser Kidney Doctor, Dr. Mishra.”)
  7. KristenCharge Nurse (“Lots of experience with emergencies, back up nurse.”)
  8. KatieOrtho Resident (“Drip bell going off, checked ok.”)
  9. MarkAttending Ortho Surgeon (“Patiently answered all of my questions; loaned me his eye glasses.”)
  10. Jim – Geriatrics Advisor (We explored all aspects of staying healthy and happy with age; use your mind!)
  11. Amy – Nurse (“Double-blind confirmation of my blood specs with Kelly before 1st transfusion.”)
  12. Abena Nurse (“She simultaneously raises boy 4 and girl 1 with 12 hour shifts and husband.”)
  13. CardellaTech (“Happy working there since 2021.”)
  14. CatherineTech (“4 years on job; likes it.”)
  15. NawrasMD Internist (“Crisp to the point. Worried about low white cells. Treated me in 2017, two stints.”)
  16. TyliaHousekeeping (“Recreated order from disorder daily and nightly with a smile.”)
  17. Carli Physical Therapist (“All PTs are Super Ft, super nice; Must pass fake car test to leave hospital.”)
  18. Daaiyah – CNA Orthopedics (“Quietly efficient, partnered with Tywanda.”)
  19. Tywanda Tyson – Phlebotomist (“Double blind-check my blood specs with Daaiyah for 2nd blood trans.”)
  20. Mizceru – Food Supply (“Lots of delicious fresh fruit and salads!”)
  21. Stephanie – Occupational Therapy (“Baby steps, no quick movements, patience.”)
  22. ED and Natali – Nurses (“Trainer and Trainee.”)
  23. Laura H. – Pharmacist (“Detailed med documentation booklet + briefing, including replacements.”)
  24. Felicia – Primary Nurse (“Prepping me for discharge; getting ready to go home.”)
  25. Nina – CNA (“Ditto above.”)
  26. Jessica – Housekeeping (“Eight-point check list card completed 8-20-21.”)
  27. Connie – Housekeeping (“Eight-point check list card completed 8-21-21 and 8-23-21.”)
  28. Mystery Needle Magician: Senior Nurse (She left before I asked her to sign the list. She was called in during the middle of the night to find a vein on my hand two others couldn’t find for a new drip after multiple attempts.  She said a prayer and found a vein on her first prick. I asked how she did it and she said, “It’s a gift from practicing over and over until I get really good at it, like my hobbies: hiking, skiing, motorbiking, etc. But I always say a prayer just to be safe.”)

Laying virtually helpless in bed reminded me how much it took to heal me: At least 28 people working 24/7, an eight-story building stuffed with the latest technology and medical knowledge, and a coordinated team all to repair a particular broken part of my 80-year-old human body. (If I accidently left someone off the list I apologize and ask you to send your name and role to me at rhmetagolf@gmail.com to add to the final letter to be posted on my “Life as it is Becoming” blog, https://slicesoflifeblog.com/ .

 The existence of such an amazing state-of-the-art medical process took a couple of centuries to perfect and I am its grateful recipient. In truth, however, this process represents a crude version of what each human body silently does automatically every nanosecond in every cell of human life, and has done so for millions of years during which average life expectancy has increased from 20 to 100+ years. We humans may be the smartest creatures on earth so far, but we have only existed for a very short time in earth’s 13.8-billion-year history. We are just getting started!

I sincerely thank each and every one of you for caring for me with your particular skills, but especially for the invisible net of collective human concern you all provided which put me at ease, allowing me to trust my mind, body, and life in your hands.  Conceptually, your care felt to me like a warm, safe, smart, competent blanket wrapped around a damaged and vulnerable “me” 24/7. Thanks also goes to Kaiser Permanente, who has been my excellent personal health provider for decades, as well as for my company employees before I retired. Kaiser promptly picked up my post-hospital in-home rehab services and hospital costs.

While in the hospital I was reminded of an early experience as a college freshman of this warm and safe feeling while I was so vulnerable. I shared this story with a nurse one night as the first time as an adult on my own I ever felt this feeling when I was an 18-year-old full-scholarship-basketballer at the College of William and Mary. Our young coach, 30-year-old Bill Chambers, created a web of belief in me and our team that W&M, a little-known college in sports (although the second oldest university in America founded to in 1693 after Harvard in 1650), could beat any team.  The best team in my freshman year 1960 (West VA University) just happened to be in W&M’s conference, and just happened to be the best team in America.  WVA also just happened to have the best player in America, destined to become a super star with the LA Lakers. His shooting profile has long been the NBA logo of Jerry West.  He was a senior in college, 6’ 3” 175 pounds, when I was a freshman at 6’ 4” 200 pounds. My vertical leap was 30 inches and his was 46 inches. I could barely dunk and he had to avoid hitting his head on the rim.

Couch Chamber’s approach to beating any team, including the WVA powerhouse, was simple: Shared mind-work (“playing together as one mind”) of good players can win over individual stars. Especially in basketball since the ball is moving in air much of the time! Coach designed a mind-share strategy to make Jerry West have to pass the ball to teammates.  We were in a special dream state and played a perfect game defensively and offensively spreading the ball around with balanced scoring; We led by over 20 points at halftime, and we beat them soundly, as summarized in my blog. My unranked W&M team beat #4 nationally ranked West Virginia 94 to 86 on January 30, 1960, ending WVA’s 56-game winning streak.  I was a wide-eyed freshman and scored 6 points as a fierce defender. We collectively believed in a dream, executed a strategy selflessly, and played as one mind for 3 hours.

My joke line is that “I held Jerry West to 42 points, while scoring 6 myself.”  In both cases (basketball game and hospital emergency game) integrated human intangibles can win the day if everyone is “engaged on the same page each and every moment when it counts most.”

I was asked by several people caring for me at the hospital what I did for a living; I just mentioned that I am retired and write about my experiences with “Reality”. Asked if I have published anything I replied, “Not publicly, except blogs and twitter, because most of my writing has been done privately for clients creating original concepts and strategies for them to succeed. I have been extremely curious all my life. I would most probably would have been clinically diagnosed with the disparaging words “attention deficit disorder” and “hyperactivity disorder,” implying that something was broken in me, and must be repaired. Fortunately for me, ADHD was not a mainstream idea when I was a child. I am fortunate that my loving and supportive mother allowed my imagination to soar with my only constraints coming if danger seemed imminent.  I never stopped learning and growing, even now 

I ended up getting a PhD in elementary particle physics at 26 with a wife and three kids while in college, joined a California tech startup in 1970, and left after 8 years with SAIC becoming my first client (and for a lifetime until the founder, Dr. J. Robert Beyster, passed in 2014 at 94).  I formed my own 3 companies to provide Strategy, Training, and Communications advice to CEOs of all kinds and sizes of companies during the next 35 years. This period included a two-year sabbatical at George Mason University in 2001 -2003 to teach entrepreneurship, work with Nobel Prize winners, win research grants on the power of Intangibles with emergence of the Internet, and be an executive assistant to the Dean of the Business School, a world class psychologist.

I retired after replacing both knees, a year apart, and moved from the DC area to settle in Baltimore in 2012 to be near my Jazz-musician Son, Michael Joseph Harris, and to write about my life experiences. Essays can be found in my Three Viewshift Blogs – Essays on Life, Work, and Meaning – plus my related twitter account: @viewshift (Robert Harris PhD).

I am now 80 and “new stuff” still just keep happening as a constant reminder that life is a forever-changing flow of possibilities and uncertainties. The more we know the less we know of the “whole” because each new piece of fundamental knowledge opens vast new vistas of new possibilities we can’t yet understand.”  [For example, quantum mechanics is century-old physics Einstein help birth, and has never failed an experimental test, yet violates every common-sense experience of Reality.] I personally believe this is why humanity is at an inflection point in which everyone seems open to having their own facts. We are all trying to figure out the next great leap. Humanity will never be bored if it keeps an open mind! Here is the working title of the book(s) I am writing.

In Search of Reality: From the Possibility-of-Certainty to the Certainty-of-Impossibility.