Monday, March 2, 2015

Treating our Children Like Criminals

Did you know that in most school districts across the nation, if your child misses more than a few days of class, they are automatically deemed to have failed the class?  Its one of those ridiculous "zero tolerance" rules that saves the very adults in our society who are entrusted to teach critical thinking skills to our children the burden of actually having to think critically themselves.

So, what is the underlying assumption in this absence policy?  Simply, your child is universally better off if s/he attends class.  Really?  Reflect on your time in school and tell me that you are better off for having sat in every single one of your classes or activities,

What if that class or activity is lead by an unprepared, uncommitted teacher/coach/minister?  What then? Yes, your child will still fail for choosing to do something more productive - even if it is to sit in the car and smoke a joint.  The benefit of doubt is universally awarded - earned or unearned - to the adult. The presumption is so engrained, we even have words for it - words like "elder" and "respect" - both of which have one-way definitions.

What if your child was out in the real world doing something of far greater value than watching the Disney animated version of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" IN ENGLISH as a French culture lesson - every day for a week?  And then in the following week, repeat the same activity with a different movie, this time Ratatouille, again in English - even though a French dubbed version is available.

Let's be honest.  There are two real reasons we have all these discipline issues - which create discipline rules, which create more issues, which create more rules - and neither of them have much to do with our kids.  

The first is that we simply don't trust our children because we are afraid that what they do will make us look bad.  We expect them to magically grope for boundaries, find themselves, "grow up" and discover their world under our care without ever doing something stupid or regrettable.  We react to the potential for being embarrassed fearfully, so we set unreasonable restrictions to which no un-coerced adult-to-be in their right minds would ever willingly agree.  Then, when they "act out" we turn teachable moments into criminal offenses.  We reinforce the message that they need to learn how to grope for their boundaries in way that allows us to be shielded by ignorance or at a minimum, be able to claim ignorance.

The second reason adults create this one-way power dynamic is that these "we-decide-what-is-important-rules" is our own need for self-validation.  If you can learn what you need to learn without actually being in school/church/home then school/church/home is pretty irrelevant, isn't it?

Some adults, including teachers, coaches and ministers understand this and work to create growth environments for children.  Some of us eventually see the error of our ways but don't have a clue about how to fix it.  Some live a whole lifetime without ever understanding this - or refusing to admit that they see it.

There really isn't an effective way of communicating "You know that culture of fear I brought you up in, I was wrong.  Please forget what you know."  So, we either mindlessly or hopelessly press on undaunted in our race to the bottom, busily creating the next hopeless and fearful generation.  All but a few of us base our actions in our fear and assume that any variation from the very lives we wish we could change for ourselves constitutes nothing more than an act of disobedient anarchy that needs to be legislated and litigated in a court in which we are the sole judge and jury.

We treat our children like criminals and then we're completely surprised when they learn to behave like criminals.  

We are stupid.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Burden of Strength

The thing is, you see these people around you and you see them escaping from shit in their lives.  Some of the shit is real, some of it is made up.  Some of it is their own faults, some of it is their shit, but someone else made it.

And you see them, there with their shit, using whatever they can to avoid it - drugs, sex, booze, exercise, pizza, fucking money - whatever it is - and you see them and you're you, and you're strong, and you're beautiful and, worse, you don't have any of their shit, nothing like their shit at all.  And you are or become aware that you really don't have any shit at all.  No shit that you can think of - or worse - you feel like you have shit, but its really all just the made-up-by-me kind and you feel double shitty, first for not really having any shit like they do and then for thinking you do and being embarrassed when you realize that your shit is just bullshit.

So, you're strong, and you're smart and you're beautiful and the world is a welcoming, exciting place for you and that pisses you off because you can't help.  You're supposed to be like Goddammed Superman, but you don't know what to do.  You see those people with all that real, shitty shit and you empathize with them, but that doesn't cut it, so you move all the way to transference and sooner or later their problems become real to you, but they're only real because you made them real.  In your strength, you find weakness and you become like them, but in reality, if only just a little, you know you're not. But then none of that really matters because soon, you're just as screwed as they are becuase now you can't shake the pizza-money-weed thing either and your strength and your empathy have gotten you to be as helpless as they are.

And you realize, after its too late, that you can't help anyone do anything in this place - not even you and despite that's how this all started - you trying to use your strength to help someone, if only a little.  And then, someone uses a bullshit term like "self-care" and you realize after like the nineteenth time you hear it that its not really a bullshit term at all.  Its real, but its also too late for you - or maybe its not because there you see the "new" you - someone just like you...well, just like you were at the beginning...and you see them and you realize that in their eyes, you're that person with all the shit.  And you tell them to make sure they take care of themselves because they're smart, and they're strong, and they're beautiful and they're your ticket back to being smart, strong and beautiful and if you ever get back there, you're going to jump in with both feet and be a life-preserver instead of an anchor to the next person you love with all their shit, so the "new" you needs to stay like the "old" you and take care of themselves and not become like the current you because nobody wins when that happens.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Prayer for the Day of Remembrance

Today is a day set aside as a Day of Remembrance so that we do not forget the internment in prison camps of 120,000  American souls of Japanese and Aleut descent during World War II.

The actual thing was called  Executive Order 9066.  It was signed by one of my historical heroes and one of the most progressive leaders in modern history, President Franklin D. Roosevelt -  a man who nine years earlier scolded us by saying:
"So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
Just to be clear, in America, we didn't have "prison camps" or "internment camps", we had "assembly centers".  Those "assembly centers" didn't have "prisoners" or "detainees", they had "evacuees".
 
It took another of my historical heroes to check back in with what we were thinking.  Thirty (30) years later, President Jimmy Carter established a commission to look into what we were thinking and subsequently apologize publicly and try to compensate survivors for their pain.

We allowed this to happen.  You and me. Because it didn't effect us at all.  What did we care?  Why should we care?   After all, we were fighting a war.


Right.  Why should we care?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Wanna Hear God Laugh? Tell him/her Your Plans.

What if, in the course of trying to right a large wrong, I should inadvertently create a smaller wrong?   

Worse, what if the small wrong I created actually justifies or rationalizes the original injustice - I not only created a wrong, but hurt my original cause.  Yikes. The original injustice still standing, maybe now stronger and me, its attacker, weakened.  What do I do?  Shrivel? Defend? Apologize?

It is so easy to lose site of the original injustice, now shrouded in a victim's cloak. So many instances come to mind recently.  Paris, Selma, Wall Street.  Even today, rapists persist in holding a victim of rape co-accountable for the rape itself.

In the end though, the false claim of victimhood works against the injustice, even renewing energy in the fight against it.  You and I, we know when injustice is happening - even when we are causing it - no matter how many lawyers, guns or money are deployed in self-defense.  [Actually, there is an inverse correlation between how much lawyers, guns and money are used and how strong a position is.  Injustice really needs oppression to be successful.]

Theodore Parker [more or less] said that the arc of morality is long - you can't even see the end from here - but it bends toward justice.  What he meant, in less poetic terms is that injustice is unsustainable, but the battle against it might take a long time.

So, what do I do?  

Shrivel?  Hell no.  In this case, shrivel = capitulate and I do not have the right to capitulate against injustice.

Defend?  Again, hell no.  Defending myself validates them.  I did not do what I did to validate them, but to erase them.

So, apologize, then?  Yes - because that's exactly what I want them to do, along with cease and desist.  But how I apologize is very, very important.  If I get all emotional and go too far I could reinforce their false sense of victimization.  I need to be very, very sure to apologize for what I did, but not for why I did it.

My path may have changed forever.  I may need new plans.  But if I feel tempted to wish to go back and erase what I did, then I don't deserve my plans.  I hear God laughing.

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Prayer for Saint Valentine's Day

I had a small revelation recently regarding my thoughts on how emotions control our actions and our beliefs.

Before this revelation, I considered fear to be the primary driver of human behavior and belief.  Fear is why we over-consume in one country while people starve in another one.  As a matter of fact, fear is why we have bothered to divide ourselves up into countries which emerge as a defense mechanism against oppression.  Fear is also why most major world religions believe in some sort of metaphysical cure for what ails us. I could go on, for example why we have:  currency and systems to accumulate wealth; pharmaceuticals that help people to live “normal” lives; even right down to why we have last names – all come from an urge to define - an urge which comes from a latent, a priori fear of “the other” who is presumed to be intent on doing us harm for their own benefit.  [Of course, this is often a reflection of our own intent, which is a separate topic altogether.]

My revelation is about the source of fear.  I became aware that the primary emotion driving human behavior is still fear, but underlying the fear is love – two kinds of love, love of and love for.  Love for others and love of stuff [which can include other people].  We love stuff, so we presume that others also love stuff and will probably try to take it, and in the process or as a result, harm those we love.  So, we build walls that start with definition to protect our loved ones from suffering harm. 

So, on this St. Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate love, I hope to be more mindful of whether I am celebrating love of, or love for.  Most things - emotions included - can’t cause themselves to exist.  They need an agent and for me, I am that agent.  I think that’s what the great religious leaders are calling for when they call for love. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Happy St. Groundhog Day

Says she:    Why do you like Groundhog Day so much, anyway?
Say I:         Saint Groundhog Day.  
Says she:    (Smiling) Right.
Say I:         (Smiling)
Says she:    Well!
Say I:         Well, what?
Says she:    Aren't you going to answer the question?
Say I:         Which one again?
Says she:    Why do you like “Saint” Groundhog Day so much?
Say I:         Ah that one.  Yes.  That's a very good question.  (Smiling)
Says she:    (After a period of silence.)  Well!
Say I:         Well what?  You seem so upset.
Says she:    I'm not upset.  Why won't you answer the question - and don't say 'Which question?' again.
Say I:         Isn't that fun?
Says she:    (After a puzzled look and a few moments of consideration.)  Isn't what fun?
Say I:         That.   What we just did.  Knowing roughly what might happen and more or less when, but having just a little detail left off to make it interesting.  
Says she:    (The look now was somewhere between puzzled and annoyed.)  I...ah...
Say I:         See, most people think and even say that they like certainty, that they like to know what is going to happen and when.  They think life is best when its like a play, when everything is laid out in nice little bite-sized pieces.  But in reality, they don't...because...well, that's boring.  We go whale watching and then we're amazed when we see a whale.  What would be amazing is if we'd seen a whale while trying on new jeans at Belk.  That would have been amazing.  Saint Groundhog Day reminds us that some awesome shit is gonna go down soon, but you don't know when or even what.
Says she:    Sorry I asked.
Say I:         Like hell you are.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Prayer for International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  A day set aside so that we maintain a collective memory around the events of the Holocaust.

I hadn't known of this day before.  It was brought to my attention reading an article in a local magazine.  I was reading that article because I needed a break from the project I was working on.  The project from hell.  It keeps coming back and just won't seem to move into the "completed" part of my checklist for all my efforts and for all the efforts of my team.

As read the article, I considered just how much effort would have been required to plan and implement something as massive as was the Holocaust.  How many individuals must have been involved?  The number must have been massive.  The details, the minor details must have been awe-inspiringly many.

Through all that, nobody said "Guys, I'm not so sure this is a good idea."  If anyone had said that, they didn't matter because any conscientious objectors were easily replaced by one of a throng of willing participants.

The leaders of the movement that planned and implemented the project we now call "The Holocaust" are renowned for their ability to control the population - to motivate the fulfillment of such a massive undertaking.  That manner of thinking wrongly puts the responsibility for the Holocaust solely on the leaders.  For the leaders to have this control, a mass dissolution of critical thought has to have occurred.

I wonder what that felt like.  I wonder what life looked like to ordinary people when the groundwork for the Holocaust was being laid.  I wonder what it felt like to be surrounded by people who simply repeat every thought a leader put into their heads without first letting it slosh around in there a bit.

I wonder these things because I want to know what they felt like so I can recognize them and stop them from ever happening again.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Throwing Over Those Money Changers' Tables

Recently, while doing some research for a project I was putting together, I connected two dots that I had previously not known to be connected.

Both Jesus of Nazareth and Martin Luther King, Jr had ministries that spanned years and ended in roughly the same way.  MLK's was longer than Jesus', but Jesus seemed to pack a lot more in a shorter period of time.
Anyway, its pretty clear from the three synoptic Gospels that if they were even aware of him, the authorities of his day tolerated Jesus' rebellious ministry right up until the time that he messed with their money - their source of power - when he pitched his fit in the temple and overturned the money changers tables.  A couple days later he had been arrested, tried and executed.
Following that same pattern, right around the time he probably considered to be the prime of his activist career - in his mid 30's after a successful campaign to bring about legal equality -  MLK shifted his focus to financial equality. He turned his attention to how the Vietnam war was being fought by the poor (mostly blacks), for the benefit of the wealthy (mostly whites).  At New York City's Riverside Church, exactly one year to the day before his execution, he delivered an address, in which he said this:
"On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth."
It was the 1967 version of overturning the money changers' tables.  This shift of focus alienated him from those who had been his allies - among them President Johnson and union leadership - who saw this line of thought to be dangerous.

They were right.  It was dangerous for Jesus and it was dangerous for MLK. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Prayer for the Epiphany

It is interesting how things you learn in book form or academically seem so simple and so reasonable when you learn them, but then you meet them in real life, face-to-face and they don't seem so simple anymore.

The other day, I met with a wonderful man. Through mutual friends, he sought me out for advice on dealing with financial matters.  When he told his story, I could only think to myself that this man has done everything that society asked of him, and now, that very same society has turned its back on him.  Society - to use a business term - "externalized its expenses" on this man.  It took everything in me to not tell him to simply re-externalize those same expenses on it by simply walking away and letting their problems be their problems.

In a nutshell, his story starts with something completely outside of his influence.  He was born at such a time that he turned 50 at the time of a crashing economy.  By no fault of his own, his company "downsized" him.  Of course, there was no hiring for several years due to the recession/depression, so he did what we are trained to do - he prepared himself for returning back to work by seeking and obtaining advanced education in his field.

Now, at the age of 55, he has come to realize that he is essentially unemployable due to his age.  Younger holders of the same advanced degrees will work for far less money, mostly because their parents paid for the advanced degree.  In addition to being unemployable, he has the burden of debt from seeking the education - an education which in retrospect he would not have pursued with his new understanding of the whole 55+ plus thing.  To compound this, he also has burden of debt from his recently graduated daughter's education.

So, I ask you:  What did this man do wrong?  He:
  1. Held down a good paying job for many years;
  2. Owned a reasonable house, car, etc;
  3. Helped his daughter get the tools she needed;
  4. Did the "right" thing preparing himself for his next chapter.
Here is exactly where he went wrong - all of which now painfully evident through the gift of retrospect.
  1. He should have saved more/spent less while he was working despite that being frugal is "bad for the economy";
  2. He should not have bothered to get his advanced eduction;
  3. He should have realized that at age 55, nobody would want him.
This is the grandiose message of living in the US.  Take heed of it.  It will happen to you.  It will happen to me.  Beware of society's apparent plan to externalize its obligations on you.  See it happening.  Be prepared:
  1. Assume you will be unemployable at the age of 55.  If you have a job, its a winner for you, but if you assume you'll have a job and don't, you're screwed.
  2. Be very, very frugal with your education spending.  Nobody cares where you went to school (within reason), especially undergrad.  That applies to your children as well.  Don't pay $100k for a degree that wins you the ability to have a job that pays $25k/year. I'm not saying don't study what you love, you should do that, but be very, very mindful of what you pay for it.
  3. Surround yourself with people who want less - people who find joy in life, not joy in things - people who fail dismally at quantifying success;
  4. Realize that you don't deserve anything.  Nothing.  Not a single thing.  House, car, wardrobe - all can be smaller.  So make it smaller before someone forces you to make it smaller.
  5. You will be abandoned by society.  Plan for it.  You will get sick two years after you're "downsized" and two years before you're Medicare eligible. It will run you into bankruptcy and the quality of your care will take a nosedive, and you will hobble sick and broke into Medicare eligibility.
  6. Lastly, keep in mind that you are not your money.  You cannot be accounted for on a ledger.  You can fail entirely at money and simultaneously be a success at life.  The system is set up to assume you will fail.  That should tell you something about your chances.



Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Good Bye, 2014

I am restless these days, frustrated with life's pace.  Too fast here, too slow there.  Impatience is such bother, I can hardly justify it, even when it is justifiable.  Co-existing with ambiguity is a "pissa" (to us a very New Hampshire term).

Taking pause to look back, 2014 had its moments.  I took a great course, met some great people, nudged the needle at work a little and did a lot of work helping my older daughter to launch herself onto a path of self-realization.  I came to realize that I did, in fact have a subconscious (my subconscious had previously been relegated to the bullshit pile) - sometimes like having a not-quite-comfortable-yet new pair of shoes and sometimes like having a new toy.

Some dreadful things happened around and even to me as well.  Unexplainable, unjustifiable illness, learning gone wrong and unhealthy self-congratulations still seem to make dynamic, if less frequent appearances.  There was some growth that comes out of pain and self-realization and I'm happy for its results, although the trail could have been less bumpy.

2014 was a lot like other years - equal parts "happy it came" and "happy its gone".

So, Good Bye, 2014, not in a "good-riddance" sort of way, but in a "see ya' round some time" kind of way.  You were good while you lasted.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The New National Security (sigh)

I generally avoid the media, partially by design and partially due to my schedule, but occasionally, I find myself in a public place where I end up being force-fed media.

This morning, I was force-fed some media.  Shaking of the head ensued.  I would have much rather watched Let's Make A Deal, but changing channels was not allowed.

The story that made me shake my head the most was about this whole North Korean hacking of the Sony corporation and ensuing threats over a movie - a comedy - that painted North Korea in a bad light.  [Note to producers:  Really?  Does nobody love you enough to point out the potential flaws in your plan?]

What got to me was a conversation between a news question-asker and a news question-answerer.  The line of questioning had to do with the US State Department's response to the presumed North Korean attack on Sony.

Sony.  A Japanese entity.  A privately held Japanese entity.

Why is the US Government even being asked about its response?  But no, nobody asked that.  What was going to be the State Department's response?  The answer was non-responsive [duh], but the point is that there was an answer that went beyond:

"We are sorry for Sony's business loss and we hope that the company's management will find a way to recover its losses and seal its internet exposure to avoid future concerns.  We do not consider a private entertainment company being the subject of an electronic attack to be a matter for State Department response."

Since when has a foreign private enterprise become a protectorate of the US Government?  Will the State Department be invoicing Sony to figure out their problem or fight their fight?  For that matter, is the State Department even for hire?  Will Sony be able to criticize the State Department for it actions if they don't rise to Sony's standards?

Maybe its a confession that the Department of State has about the same level of  electronic security as company who contributes to our society by producing and distributing movies, music and computer games?

Do you honestly think Trickle-Down economics is working?  If somebody hacks into my bank account, will the Treasury come running? 

Sigh.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Prayer

I have recently re-found something from my past and I am thoroughly enjoying it immensely.

You see, I used to be a Jimmy Buffet fan.  A "Parrot Head", as we are called.  In my 20's and maybe into my early 30's when my children came around, I would pack up the car with friends - always a different bunch - and head off to the summer concert.  It was like Mecca.  [OK, it wasn't much like Mecca except for the annual-ness, the spiritual fulfillment and the long trip.]

As the years rolled along, I found myself getting annoyed at the concerts.  People didn't dance anymore and a whole bunch of them didn't even know the words [blasphemy!].  Buffett had become corporate, or at least the Parrot Heads had become corporate.  Talking through the quiet songs and standing still through the lively ones.  Dancing in the aisles had all but disappeared.  How do you talk through "Come Monday" and not dance to "One Particular Harbor"?  Finally I figured it out.  These people, some still wearing their business suits [seriously?!?] were not attending to be filled with Key West-ern joy.  They were there to explore the coral reefer and be able to say they were there.  [The same thing happened at Fenway Park too, but that's another issue.]

So, Jimmy had sold out.  He had given in to greed and "gone mainstream".  A more appalling thought there could not have been.  My hero had turned into everyone else.  Shit.  I started to hear it in his music, I heard cheap echo-chambers and I noticed that he really doesn't have the best singing voice, and my soul wandered.  I never really stopped buying his albums, but I had demoted myself from Parrot Head to simply "fan".

This year I finally made my trip to my own personal Mecca - Key West.  Duval Street, Mallory Square, Captain Tony's, all the places that I so romanticized that they could not possibly have lived up to my expectations.  They did, they did, they did, and while I was there, my soul rediscovered Jimmy Buffett.

I have an iPad now, so I set it on random and let it play all of his music in no particular order.  Slowly, I came to realize that he, in fact doesn't really have a great signing voice and the production quality of his studio albums is a little iffy.  But they all were.  The new ones, the old ones.  What I realized was that his work really didn't change when all those suits started showing up to the minstrel Margaritavilles, rather it was me that had changed.  I had become a picky, high maintenance, judgmental shrew.

Well, I am back now.  I'm even thinking of buying the Parrot Head license plates from the state (if only I had a car upon which to put them).  I have shed my negativity and let the music and its spirit embrace my soul.

So my Holiday prayer for me and for you this season is that we find ourselves able to shed whatever it is that is holding us back from letting something or someone's spirit embrace our soul, or embrace our soul once again.  My joy is entirely up to me.

Happy Holidays.



[PS...If Santa is listening, another trip to Mecca wouldn't be a bad thing either.]

Monday, December 15, 2014

When the Fountain of Injustice is Justice


Say I:                 I wish they’d just made those police officers in Missouri and New York stand trial.
Says she:          Why?

Say I:                 It just looks like we’re covering up an issue rather than addressing it.
Says she:          Which issue?  I think there are many here. 
Say I:                Race is a huge issue, but I think it's bigger even than "just" race. One kid was killed because they thought he might have robbed a store.   Can you really die because you robbed a store or flee from the law or whatever he did?  The other one was selling illegal cigarettes or cigarette licence or something.  Seems like the response to the crimes in question was a little out of line.
Says she:         Yes it does.

Say I:                Did you hear about the 12 year old who was shot holding a toy gun.

Says she:         Yea, but you weren’t there.
Say I:                Right.  I wasn’t there for either of them and the safe thing is to presume that the media has this all out of whack.
Says she:         Sure, things may have gotten out of control.
Say I:                Yea, I know.  But isn’t that part of police training?  How to keep things from getting out of control?  Isn't that the point of policing in general - to keep what we can in some sort of order?
Says she:         Yes, but again, you weren’t there.
Say I:                I know.  I wish I had been.
Says she:          I know.  But really, what would the trial have done?  They didn’t do anything wrong.
Say I:                I know, I heard that expert talking on the radio.  It seems like all three were working under the rules of the law.  Makes me question the law.
Says she:         THAT is what makes you question the law?
Say I:                Yea.  I know.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Prayer for Pearl Harbor Day

73 years ago today, on a sunny Sunday morning, just before 8 am, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  2,535 souls died that day and 1,213 more were injured, but did not die.

Not quite 60 years later, on a seaonally brisk Tuesday morning, just before 9 am, the first of four coordinated attacks ended the lives of 2,997 souls and injured another 6,000.

The aftermath of that sunny Sunday morning in 1941 was in the next 1,346 days, an additional 3,228,504 souls lost their lives.

The aftermath of that brisk Tuesday morning in 2001 was that in the 5,566 days (and counting), another 198,354 souls lost their journey and another 121,811 have been injured.

As Pearl Harbor becomes a fleeting memory known only to those who studied it, I reflect on September 11 and hope.  I just hope.




Monday, December 1, 2014

Everything is Mostly Relative

Recently, I had a health issue that slowed me down for a few weeks.  

The early stage meant spending two entire days sitting in a chair, dredfully reluctant to so much as move.  This was "my" chair.  On any normal day, I can't sit in this very same chair for more than an hour or so before my butt starts to ache and my body gets impatient.  Not this time, though - immobilized by a demon, my butt had nothing at all to say.

I shall never again allow my butt to think a bad thought about my chair.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Day-After-Thanksgiving Prayer

I sat yesterday around the table with family and friends.  It was good to be with those people.  And the weather was beautiful (in Tampa, Florida).  It was quite easy, actually to feel gratitude all around me.

I know its un-American, or unpatriotic and there is always the fear that because of it, the terrorist will probably win something, but I really don't see what all the excitement is about with that food.  Potatoes, squash, bread - all made with love, care and butter - but there isn't enough love or care or butter to transform that food into something that merits all the hooplah.  The turkey and carrots I don't mind but hardly raise to the level of praise traditionally attributed to it.

As I sat there looking at that dinner, upon which everyone else feasted like a Renaissance Pope (with silverware, of course) I considered what might have happened if a fierce storm had blown the Mayflower off course and the Pilgrims had landed in Miami rather than Plymouth.  Would there be shrimp and fish (snapper is nice this time of year) instead of turkey?  Would there be beans and peas (oh wait, I do like the peas, nevermind that) instead of all those apparently indestructible root vegetables?

One day, I might end up in charge of Thanksgiving and dinner will be jerked fish with coconut rice, and a huge (because bigger salads are always better) salad with rum punch and desert will be fresh fruit and maybe crepes.  

One storm away.  Turkey sushi, anyone?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Someone dear to me called me to thank me.  I listened while he talked.  It was part apology, part confession, part thanks, part promise for the future.  It was 100% beautiful.  

I've been thanked before.  This time I felt a real connection to him, I also felt a real connection to myself.  I felt a connection to all things.

I wanted to thank him, but I didn't want to take away from his moment.  I just told him that I was proud and privileged to be with him on his journey.

Dr. Amen makes the claim - based on his research - that gratitude can be more effective than pharmaceuticals against depression and anxiety.  Even if that is only kinda true, its remarkable.

We are all sitting in different seats on the same bus on one interconnected journey together.  I am thankful for that today.  I hope you on this day can feel my gratitude and feel your own as well.


Monday, November 17, 2014

My Epitaph

I was asked to describe someone (let's call him "Good Ole What's His Head") the other day.  Springing forth from my sub-conscious (thank you to Coy Callicott for providing me with my very own sub-conscious) came the following:
  • condescending;
  • dualistic (which is my language for "simplistic");
  • narcissistic;
  • pedantic;
  • ethically challenged.

Before I could say those words, but probably after my body language and facial expression gave away my thoughts, I felt terrible about having such low regard for this soul.

A few moments later, I simply did the Southern thing and said that Good Ole What's His Head was a wonderful person and most probably had a wonderful soul and would most likely be a valuable addition to any relationship.  The message was clear, in a very Southern way.

I wonder what would be on my epitaph if we could only use the first four or five words that sprung forth from your subconscious?