Have you seen the movie Hector and the Search For Happiness? Okay, so it may not be for everyone. It’s not like watching Pulp Fiction or Star Wars, but it was interesting. Surprising. Hector’s a psychiatrist and he’s forgotten how to be happy. Typical. And yes the quest for happiness is expected. That’s not why I found it surprising.
There was one scene that supercharged me. Hector is in China and he meets a beautiful girl in the upscale lounge that evening. It’s sexy and seductive. She spends the night, but Hector ends up falling asleep. He asks if she will meet for lunch the next day. As they are sitting in the rough marketplace, she talks about the taboos of her society. As a prostitute, she is no longer allowed to go to her family home. She can no longer see her mother, father or siblings. Hector is shocked because he was referring to the drinking of tea he was witnessing of the other country families in the marketplace. The thing that this woman was not allowed. At just that moment, the girl’s pimp rides up on his motorbike yelling at her. She was purchased for the previous evening only. The girl rides away.
We forget that in our western society we have wrestled to make this not a taboo. Not necessarily regarding prostitution, but shaming any person that is considered an “other.” This is what excited me. That we are still wrestling with it. And we are willing to keep on with the struggle. I am proud of that gumption we have. The tenacity that we have to keep down the tyranny of those that wish to call themselves superior and like to use shame. An “other” is anything that you are not. We are all puny others.
None of us got here, this healthy, this strong, this smart by ourselves. Be thankful and be proud and don’t stop the struggle.
Be thankful for what you have and don’t forget to help someone else. It’s my motto for every day of my life. And I want to always remember that every step upward I take in this life is taken upon the shoulders of another, whether it was a woman suffrage or a soldier on the battlefield or a scientist discovering a cure. None of us got here, this healthy, this strong, this smart by ourselves. Be thankful and be proud and don’t stop the struggle.
The one thing that I believe I got right coming out of the religious world was a healthy dose of discernment. Even when I was neck deep in religiosity, I kept the same council as I’m going to bring out in this short blog today. I say short because a truth is simple usually. Once you know the truth of a thing, you stop worrying and get on with your life. When you’re uncertain, as in how to drive a car, you question everything. What if I mess up? What if I’m doing it wrong? When you’re an adult, and you drive to work, you get in your car and you drive to work. Sometimes you drive too fast, but you don’t sit around worrying about checking your brake pedal or your accelerator pad every five minutes.
End of Days – Again?
Know the truth and you will be free. So what’s this big truth? Love. Joy. Peace. I’m quoting the Bible because that’s the book I was given to read as a child, but I know that’s not the only holy scripture that teaches these truths. How do you know if a person is right? How do you know that they are wishing good things for you? Jesus’s disciples asked him how they would know if the other preachers were disciples of him? There were so many people performing miracles at one time it became confusing. His answer was easy, check their character. Not by their miracles, but by their fruit. Checking a person’s characterwas my first test when I was a child. I was serious as a kid.
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Matthew 7:15-20
If you’ve been hugged in the warmest of bear hugs by a grandparent and loved, you weren’t feeling afraid at that moment. If there were any fears, it would only be for their well-being. Love brings with it a sense of satisfaction and safety. Love is my second test.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18
So for all of the Christians that are following the Blood Moon fear mongers, STOP. They are selling you a paper bag filled with lies and it’s dripping of fear. I am tired of calming my family down from it.
Those that get off making others afraid – like Tom Horn and even the Christian TV broadcasters like Pat Robertson and John Hagee, they are sick sadists. If you buy into that shit, then you might as well pick up the Sunday horoscope column and follow their advice every week.
I think we as a society have forgotten something here. It’s not about the task in front us. How fast can you finish your spreadsheet? Are you a democrat or a republican? We sold more doohickeys than you. Is it about the people? Is it about the job? Is it about the thing?
Most jobs at their start were about helping, or at least solving a problem. Nutrition. Water. Disease prevention. Somewhere along the line they lose their focus. It’s easy to forget. If you’ve ever worked in a daycare with more than five children, you know how that feels. Children whine, they cry, they poop, and they need. It’s constant. You forget that you cared about these noisy, fussy children. At one time, you wished to nurture them. Now all you want to do is stop the noise. Suddenly it’s about the thing. The diapers.
It seems to make sense to prioritize in order of priority.
Do the urgent stuff first. Deal with the cranky customer who’s about to walk out, the disenchanted and difficult employee who hasn’t had the right sort of guidance (lately), the partner who is stomping his foot.
The problem with this rational prioritization is that it means that the good customers, the valuable employees and the long-suffering but loyal partners are neglected. And they realize that they should either get squeaky or leave.
If the only way to get your attention is to represent a risk, people will figure that out.
(The other problem is that you end up spending all your time with cranky, disenchanted, difficult people who are stomping their feet.) – Seth Godin
I think it’s important to check ourselves and ask it’s still about the people, right?
We once knew, but we’ve forgotten. Families lived in one household or at least in one village. Maybe it was because grandma couldn’t make it otherwise, or she was respected. For whichever reason, it kept more hands available when it was needed to help raise the children. It was easy to describe your family.
I’m currently redefining family. I may be doing this for the rest of my life. I have a reel to reel that plays in my head. It looks somewhat like a small village, maybe too communal to some. There are children playing in a courtyard. The housing is surrounding a grassy area, and the commons area is a safe place. Here children can grow up with many caretakers. Many parents can care for them. Yes, they know their mother and father, but if there is a stressor in their household such as a new baby, it’s easy for another family to take them into their home.
In my vision of society, life is built for the good of people, not commerce. People are why we are here. Does it matter if there is money if there are no people to spend it? Economics is the most worthless of studies if sociology fails. And look around us. Our sociology is failing. What do we need to fix it? We have made some steps towards repairing it. We’ve recognized alternative families. Do you think this is unrealistic? I don’t think I’m alone in my thinking.
This week we filled the sky with waving flags, but it isn’t until next week that my country celebrates its independence from British rule. This week had its own colors and controversies, as many have noticed.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it once again. As a child, I’d walk naively, without the knowledge of borders, not understanding the concept of North side and West side. It’s only as adults that we learn where we supposedly belong or don’t belong. I’d walk inside and outside with a large mirror in my arms, facing upwards so I could only see the ceiling. I liked the openness, the uncluttered feeling. There are moments that I still feel the wild child inside of me stir. She gets restless and wants to run and be free, hating the constraints of the 9 to 5, the should of the day-to-day life. Living in this society means coming to terms with the borders and the rules placed by civilization, but it doesn’t mean being completely tamed. We are never meant to be slaves.
I believe human conventions, pre-conceived notions, religion and the world’s cacophony do not stifle creativity, neither should they. Rather they serve as breaking ground manifestations of the limitless parlay of ideas floating the grand mass called ‘space.’- CLNgwe-Nwi A Multi-faceted Creative from her About me page
Life is untamable. Life is wild. Unpredictable. There are no permanent borders. No true boundaries. We try so hard to put up fences. To keep out the bad guys. To grasp on to what we love. But it’s not possible. Somewhere in there is righteous reasoning, but if we aren’t careful, we become like the zealots who kill everything good. We kill instead of healing. There’s a line that get’s crossed, and it has nothing to do with a flag or a country. It has no heritage involved. There are no lasting borders, only love and hate. No flag representing a heritage of shame should fly. Put it in a museum with the other items of shame. But let’s not wave our dirty laundry on the top of a flag pole for all the world to see. Please, America. Let’s have some modesty.
This post is a short glimpse into a friend’s life. She was much than this. It’s my attempt to say goodbye to my friend who we lost this last week in a car accident. She will be greatly missed. — Janet
When you’re ten-years-old, life is simple. Everyone around you is an uncle, an aunt, a brother, a sister, a mother, a father, or a cousin. Other than a family member, you are a stranger until you become a friend or a neighbor.
I grew up in a small town. And that small town raised me. Collinsville had only a population of 3,009 by the time that I was ten, by the time that Sheila and I decided to figure out if we were just friends or if we were family now. It was about bonding. It was about how we mattered to each other. And it was important. Who wants to be just a neighbor when they can be a friend? Or a cousin? Only friends and cousins can do sleep-overs or know secrets.
We were at Sheila’s house. We attended school together since forever but something was different. My brother was dating her cousin. I’m not certain of the relations, but at the time we were solemn about this. We had to be cousins, she had decided. We must be cousins. We discussed it around and around and looked at it from both sides of the family tree. Surely we were cousins if my brother married her cousin. It made perfect sense to our 10-year-old minds.
Hours went by and running out of time, we decided that maybe it didn’t matter. That just maybe we’re all cousins or sisters because God was our father. From then on we were friends and family. I remember several times afterward calling out to each other, “Hello cousin.”
Thank you, Sheila, for being my friend and for being a friend to so many. You gave so much love while you were with us. You were the expressed image of friendship and family. Open arms and a warm heart. You are missing from us today.
Quit – over thinking. Quit – trying to make it work. Quit – wishing, thinking, pushing, willing, trying so hard, all of those things that make you seem like a fish flopping on the shoreline, out of his comfort zone, out of his life zone. That’s not you. We all do this. We act like we’re afraid. We act like that poor fish, gasping for air. We are not desperate. We might be afraid, but we aren’t desperate.
I have so many questions sometimes when I try new things. I start with, I’m ready. I’m excited. I crouch down like the jumper at a sporting event and I’m ready to take off, but then the questions start. How much pressure do I need to push-off? Do I land on one foot or both? Do I dig in with my toes? You get the idea. So many questions that I start doubting if I can do it or if any of it can happen. Can I really make it work? Am I just daydreaming? We all go through this struggle. We worry. We fight the fear, then we fight the desire by telling ourselves, ‘Well, I don’t want it anyway.’ We try to shut the emotions down because they can be so raw. The open heart can feel so exposed.
I was sitting down with a guy I see regularly and without telling him anything he starts saying things such as, you know you can’t be happy unless you’re with someone who meets your needs. You have to have someone that lets you have room. In essence, it was all the things I’ve been mulling over in my head. Was he reading my mind? Sometimes I wonder. Is the world around me really just a hologram of my own making as the new-agers say? Matrix overload. Tilt. Tilt. Beep. Beep.
I’m afraid. I’m in the open, but I know I’m not alone here. I just have to wait. I did that thing I do so often, I got here early. I got over excited. How did I say that before? You can read that post here: Overeager.
Here are a few items I ran into in the process of writing this blog. I love how when you start pulling strings, the blanket starts coming towards you.
I never wished for sisters. It’s not something I really thought about. Maybe that’s how we all are. We only know what we know and don’t know anything else. I played with dolls. I wore dresses with ribbons and flowers. I was mostly a normal girl. The main difference that I noticed growing up with brothers was that there was no codling. Moms do that sort of thing, cushion you. Brothers don’t. Brothers roughhouse. They wrestle. We fed the animals. I tried to help them work on cars.
My brothers taught me take up for myself. They taught me how to be an individual. I learned to change my bike tire and how to fix a flat. I learned from watching my oldest brother that manners were important, things like saying, thank you and please were expected. I learned from my middle brother that it’s okay sometimes to do things for yourself if you need to, because people won’t always do it the way you want, or won’t always listen to you. I learned to be who you are even in the face of resistance.
I did wish at times I could live closer to my cousins. I missed the times we all got together and played hide and seek in the trees in front of their house. Late at night, when the lightning bugs were out and the grownups drank their coffee, it all seemed magical. We played for hours. During the day we’d play basketball or go fishing in the pond. Here’s an excerpt from a book I’m reading.
Thinking we had to talk to connect, I asked her if she’d rather swim in a pool, a lake, or the ocean. Betsy sat up, dangled her feet off the dock, and said she’d rather swim in the ocean. She grew up going to Florida with her cousins and they’d spend the entire day playing in the waves, poking jellyfish with sticks and eating peanutbutter-and-jelly sandwiches with sand in them. She and her cousins would lie in bed at night and giggle because they could feel their bodies lifting and falling as though they were still in the waves. Those were some of the greatest days of her life. She asked whether I would rather swim in a pool, a lake, or the ocean. I said I’d rather swim in a lake. “Why?” she asked. I said in a lake you didn’t have to deal with the jellyfish and the seaweed and the sharks and whatever else. Betsy thought about that for a moment then reminded me that trying not to get stung by a jellyfish was part of the adventure. Betsy ran her fingers through my hair and kissed me on the forehead. I told her I’d put some jellyfish in the pond if she wanted me to. “It’s worth it to get stung by a jellyfish every once in a while,” Betsy said. “For the occasional sting, you get to go to sleep feeling the waves and you get to giggle with your cousins.” – Scary Close by Donald Miller
Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy
Mind we know. Body we get. But, what is spirit? Grace, kindness, joy, love, peace? Things you can’t see. Spirit doesn’t mean it’s a ghost or even that it will live after our body dies. I can believe in spirit without believing in Jehovah, Thor, Ahura Mazda or Allah. I believe those things named above are spirit. These live on after we have left the building. They are in the memory of every love letter you wrote, every kind word you said, and every cookie you baked. Think about these two things for a moment: Using your body to pray. Acts of kindness as gifts.
Grace is a power that comes in and transforms a moment into something better.
— CAROLINE MYSS
Yes, I know that love and joy and anger and confusion are emotions, ruled by chemicals. Our language and concept of self came at a time in history before we had knowledge of chemicals. At that time we often loved with our bowels. Spirit described anything or force that could not be seen or explained, but the chemical response in our heads never belittles the reality of love. It only shows it’s ours.
But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? I John 3:17
Never underestimate the power of kindness. You never know when a smile or a kind word or hug could save a person’s life. We are social animals. Even me, sometimes. We are meant to interact and bounce ideas off of each other. Without this we are stagnant and we die. If you don’t think you have anything to give, think again. Any kind act, any kind word can change someone’s day.
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia
I use my physical body as a way to express my love. Seanne Corn – On Being
Set your intention. What prayer would you pray with your actions or your movements? Do that today.
What if you only had one year of pleasure with someone who you loved deeply? One year with your favorite person. One year to sit beside them, hear their voice, listen to their stories, but one year only. It ends. It wouldn’t be enough but I think it would be better than not ever knowing them. You’d grieve. You’d cry. Would all the joy you shared be worth the pain of it ending?
What about a passion you enjoy? If you could pursue it but never complete it, would it still hold the same fire? Would it be alright to have one hit only? One song, one novel, one win or one great speech? These are the weird thoughts I think of while quiet and alone, which is probably too often. One of the reasons why it’s not good to drive a long distance by myself. I once had a dental procedure and the nitrous oxide made me think some deep thoughts, but unfortunately I don’t remember them. The meaning of life and the secret knowledge of we are all one.
For most of us we never have this choice. For most we never know the outcome when we start, whether a relationship will end suddenly or if it will die in monotonous, day-to-day living. Maybe the questions are wrong. Maybe I should be asking, if you got bored after a year would you still be fired up about the new project?