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 HP Non-Fiction Contests

HP Fiction Contests



  We are happy to announce our winners of First Human Potential Non-Fiction Contest.  

Mark Meincke for WHY NOT ME? The keys to unlock your power, and release your potential
has been awarded the First Prize
  Fred Meissner for On the Nature of Being or The Effect of Myristoylation on the Structure and Stability of Hisactophilin, a close second. As the second place was of high standard, we decided to extend the publication to second place also.  



The keys to unlock your power, and release your potential

by Mark Meincke

In the Hindu religion, there is a sharp focus on Dharma. Choosing your Dharma is choosing to walk the path set for you by the Supreme Being. If you follow your Dharma, you will no longer be a fish out of water, or a round peg trying to fit in a square hole. When you are doing what you are meant to do, you will then be utilizing your natural skill sets and talents; thus, success will be inevitable. Finding your Dharma is like falling in love. If you're ready for it to happen, then when it happens, you will just know. And nobody will be able to talk you out of it. If you aren't sure of what it is you should be doing, just make sure that you are in the ball park. Close is good enough for a start.

One way to find your Dharma is to write a list of what you don't want in your life. Most people have an easier time identifying what they don't want than what they do want. It will still take courage to cut these items out of your life, but at least you will have a list to use as a reference when you are deciding on one path over another. The closer you are to your Dharma, the easier and more enjoyable your life path will be.

The best example I can think of to illustrate Dharma is to talk about my dog, Abby. Abby is an English Springer Spaniel or "Springer" for short. Springers are born and bred to hunt and flush out game birds such as grouse and pheasants, which is the prime purpose for me choosing this breed. From her normal behavior, most people would assume that Abby is a happy dog when they meet her. She is a bundle of excitement when she greets every guest, and she is even more excited if she recognizes who you are. She's an indoor dog who is well cared for, pampered, and loved as much as any dog could hope for. It's true that our little Abby is generally a happy dog who is in good spirits. However, she wasn't born and bred to be a family lap dog.

Abby suffers from arthritis, and at home she needs help to get up on to the couch or into her favorite chair. She climbs the stairs with some difficulty and discomfort, but she can do it on her own. In this environment where she is merely content, this is the demeanor of our precious friend. One would never suspect what she is capable of when she is placed in the environment she was born and bred to be in.

When the short two weeks of pheasant season comes around, I'm ready for it. The pheasant area is a two-hour drive south of my home. Consequently, for me to be there for first legal shooting light, I have to get up bright and early. The moment I grab my hunting jacket and my shotgun, Abby perks up and starts to look like a different dog. Suddenly she is able to fly up and down the stairs without any sign of pain, and she has a look of anticipation in her eyes that can only be described as sheer joy. On the drive down to the pheasant area, she calms down. But as soon as we get within ten minutes of our regular area, Abby starts to fuss with anticipation. Even though we only go about three times a season, she recognizes every tree and bush within a fifteen mile radius. By the time we start down the final dirt road, Abby is jumping out of her skin with excitement. The moment I park, I open the door for her, and she bolts out of the vehicle as if she were on fire.

Once I get all of my gear prepared and the clock tells me that it's time for legal shooting light, we're off to hunt. My little arthritic dog runs full out, weaving in and out of the bushes without any encouragement for three hours straight. Even in the deepest bush (which Springers are renowned for), Abby will crash through the thistles and leap over the logs and deadfall as if she were four years younger and much fitter than she actually is. When Abby does find a bird or rabbit, she lets out an uncontainable yelp of excitement as she chases after it for me. Each time she finds a bird, she is re-energized and unstoppable.

This is the power of Dharma. Hunting is what Abby was born and bred to do. It is the reason she was placed on this earth. Although she can be relatively happy without hunting, she will never be so happy as when she is hunting.

When you are traveling the path you were meant to travel, the one you were designed for, you will then be at your happiest as well. If I could hunt with Abby all year round, I would. It brings me enormous joy to watch the excitement she experiences during the hunt. Even when we aren't successful at finding any game, she is still far happier pursuing her purpose than being at home on the couch. She doesn't lament that she has failed in her attempt; instead, she relishes the fact that she had the opportunity to try.

"One's real life is often the life that one does not lead." Oscar Wilde

"A musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a poet must write if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself." Abraham Maslow




The Effect of Myristoylation on the Structure and Stability of Hisactophilin

 by Fred Meissner

That subtitle, in case you're wondering, is the title of my son's "thesis requirement for the degree of Master of Science in Chemistry." In his "Acknowledgments," Joe recognizes the support of his colleagues and his wife, Karen; he also gives a nod "To [his] family-thank you for all your love and for pretending to understand [what] this project is about." So I read my son's thesis, summed up in the final sentence of his "Abstract" as a discussion of "the molecular consequences of myristoylation on protein stability and structure, as well as the molecular basis for [a] pH dependent myristoyl switch." I even find myself nodding sometimes as I read his work, trying to make some sense of it. "That's my boy," I think, pride flaring up as I struggle with the concepts, but no sooner do I put his paper down and any understanding I might have quickly slips below the horizon of comprehension.

Lately I've been intrigued with the metaphysics of the sun. Just what, exactly, is this presence that I walk toward each morning as I make my way to work-a twinkle in God's eye? The place where all retired Buddhas go? Some kind of cosmic fireplace? We're like one great big global Dick and Jane family stretching out our hands, wiggling our toes, warm in our hearts on the hearth of planet Earth. But metaphor can get a little dicey here, or just plain sappy; let's turn to science to give us some kind of accurate description of what the sun's all about. On "Bob the Alien's Tour of the Solar System" website, under "Eleven Facts about the Sun," we are informed in "Fact Two" that "if the Sun was brighter, it would be hotter and would have burnt off its hydrogen fuel billions of years ago. This means that, if the Sun is any different to how it is now, life on Earth would not exist. It is the perfect size, perfect age, perfect distance, perfect temperature and perfect brightness for life to exist on a planet like Earth." What I find incredibly flabbergasting about the information in this paragraph, given the enormity of what is being implied, is that Bob has used neither italics nor an exclamation point anywhere to emphasize the significance of his statements.

My son, Joe, has assured me that not one exclamation point appears in his thesis. He does, however, in my opinion anyway, use the semi-colon quite effectively. For example, Joe states: "Despite its rather unusual core structure, non-myristoylated hisactophilin is a relatively stable protein; adding a myristoyl group to the core may likely affect the overall stability of the protein." The semi-colon emphasizes the delicate balance needed for a particular set of circumstances to take place: the stability of a protein; me trying to read a scientific thesis; life on Earth and the energy of the sun. The Dalai Lama calls this kind of relationship "dependent co-origination," a "term used to signify that phenomena do not have inherent existence but exist only in relationship to causes and conditions."

In "Fact Four" from Bob's "Eleven Facts about the Sun," we are informed that "if we could remove the bright, glowing surface of the Sun, we could see nothing other than blackness. Only the Sun's outer surface shines brightly. The inside of the Sun is complete darkness." That's not a bad analogy for the progress I'm making on the original idea for this essay; however, if I was Bob's editor, I would suggest a semi-colon after "brightly" rather than a period.

At www.nineplanets.org I learned that "conditions at the Sun's core . . . are extreme. The temperature is 15.6 million Kelvin and the pressure is 250 billion atmospheres." "The Sun's energy output (3.86e33 ergs/second or 386 billion billion megawatts) is produced by nuclear fusion reactions. Each second about 700,000,000 tons of hydrogen are converted to about 695,000,000 tons of helium and 5,000,000 tons . . . of energy in the form of gamma rays." I'll refrain from any comment on the punctuation.

I remember one day when our Joe was just a baby, I came home to our apartment to find an ambulance in the driveway and Terry's terrified face telling me that Joe had had a seizure. We'd find out later that it was a fibral convulsion brought on by a fever that had spiked too quickly, but at that time I only thought we were going to lose our son, this small, wee form that we'd brought into the world; I rode with him in the ambulance; I held his fever-wracked body at the hospital; I refused to let him out of my sight while the doctor and the nurses worked with him, unable to comprehend the possibility of a life without him.

In his "Summary," Joe states that "further denaturation experiments will allow for not only a better understanding of the stabilizing effects of myristoylation, but potentially an understanding of the energetics of the myristoyl switch. Implementation of careful control experiments may help to uncover the free energy required for the switch to occur-which has not been completed for any myristoylated proteins." Someone else, it seems, will need to carry on where he's left off. Maybe our understanding of anything in this world needs to work that way. Our comprehension of the nature of being may reside at the molecular level in the free energy in the beta-barrel of a protein; it may be discovered in the vast mass of the sun's core; it might be found in the sudden realization of how precious this life is; everything's a perfect, precarious balance that I think we have a responsibility, at the very least, to be aware of; regardless of how insignificant we feel in this incomprehensible space of the universe, we are part of it; maybe we need to remember that we exist semi-colonially; there's no place for periods here; I find some kind of warm comfort in that