The Smell of a Tuna Fish Sandwich –
My wife came home early from work on Friday. She wasn’t feeling well and had a stomach bug. I’m not a natural caretaker but was able to get her settled in the bed and bring her something to drink with saltine-crackers. She slept most of Friday and Saturday was feeling better. She still wasn’t eating much and when I asked if she would like lunch she opted for a bland bowl of cereal. I, on the other hand, fixed myself a fresh can of tuna, with mayo and pickles. When Beth fixed her cereal I noted she was on the far side of the counter. “What are you doing over there?” I asked. “The smell of your tuna is not helping my stomach!” she replied and told me it was the last thing she ate Friday before getting sick. The smell of my Tuna Fish sandwich was threatening to make her sick again.
Scientists tell us that smell is one of the greatest memory triggers. However, all our senses, particular situations, certain people, can trigger pain, shame, emotional, mental and even physical reactions in us or others. This is why it’s so important making sure we don’t judge or label others who may react differently to events and experiences. The path of their life, which intersects ours, could be fraught with challenges and difficulties we’ve never encountered. Knowing each person has a unique path helps us be aware, accepting, adaptable, and non-judgemental toward each other.
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Common Thread –
Yesterday I told my therapist three distinct experiences that have happened to me since our last appointment. I do my best to remember or jot down events or emotional moments I encounter and relay them to her. I talk about how I felt, why I think I felt it, why I did something, what I thought would be the outcome, what happened to me and the result. I tell her these things because many times I’m not able to see the big picture because I’m so close to the events and experiences.
When I finished telling her my three stories she then asked a series of questions that gave me the ability to look at each one from a different point of view. I thought they were three separate, non-related moments but she was able to see a common thread and we discussed how and why I reacted in a certain way and the possible reasons they imprinted on me. It was an; “Aha!” moment that I was unable to see without the benefit of a pair of unbiased, professionally trained, eyes.
I don’t love therapy. I tolerate it. I know it’s an invaluable part of my treatment plan for chronic severe depression and a severe anxiety disorder. There are times I walk out wondering what was accomplished and there are; “Aha!” days. I don’t always like what I am shown or discover but I hope that every; “Aha!” helps my journey on this path called; “my life” be easier and worth the struggle.
For most posts, reflections and other writings, please visit; http://www.thewannabesaint.com
I was talking with a friend recently who believes in Bigfoot. My friend is intelligent, philosophical, pragmatic and practical. When I found out he was a believer in Bigfoot I was surprised. At one time he was an avid outdoorsman and through his study and interviews with other people has been convinced by Bigfoot sightings and other evidence. When we talked about it I told him I didn’t believe in Bigfoot. There simply isn’t enough proof that people have seen what they think they saw or that the “evidence” is purposefully or accidentally being misinterpreted. However, I always make this caveat with my friend. “Just because I don’t believe in Bigfoot doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”
Wisdom teaches us to be careful about our beliefs. Too often we want to force our convictions on another and convince them to think like we do. The first step on the path of wisdom is the truth that we know nothing. It is the first and only place to begin and exist. Wisdom is a paradox. The more we know, learn, practice, the more we don’t know.
We live in a world full of people convinced they see reality “as is” and if you don’t see it their way you’re wrong! Religion, politics, cultures, ethnicities, separate us into groups and life becomes about “us” and “them.” Maybe, if we listened attentively, spoke softly, and held our fragile beliefs as bubbles ready to pop any time and open us up to a world we didn’t even know existed, we’d celebrate humility instead of hubris.
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Pulled Up through the Roots –
It was late last night when I finally sat down and read scripture for the day. It was Psalm 1. I read it as rain pounded on the roof, truly one of life’s most beautiful sounds. We’ve been dry lately. The storms have passed us by leaving the ground, trees, and plants desperate for water. Earlier in the evening, I thought I heard raining so I turned off all the fans and listened as it pinged on our porch’s tin roof. I checked again before heading to the bedroom and it was still coming down.
Psalm 1 says this:
-The Two Ways-
Blessed are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or be counted among the malcontents;
their delight is in the of the Lord and his way,
and on him, they meditate day and night.
They are like trees planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.
The wicked are not so
but are like dry leaves and bark that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not be found innocent,
nor sinners among the people who are humble;
for the Lord watches over the way of all,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
I reflected on these verses as I listened to the rain and it was a great reminder not to be an unpleasant person, not to choose a way of life that only benefits myself, to be rooted in God, pulling up through my roots; love, kindness, humility, and bloom in a too often evil world.
For more posts, reflections, poems, and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com
He’s Somebody –
Last week I wrote about replacing grocery store carts in their rightful place even if I wasn’t the one who left it in the middle of a parking lot. (https://thewannabesaint.com/2018/07/26/youre-somebody-2/) This week, same time, same store, same parking lot I had finished buying supplies for a dad’s community group and pushed my grocery cart against the front of my truck. As I unloaded the cart I saw a gentleman, in a car next to me, waiting. When I finished retrieving the items from the cart the man got out of his car and grabbed my cart and began pushing it towards the store’s entrance. I figured he needed the cart and this was easier than getting another one from the cart bin. To my surprise, he wheeled it over to the bin, pushed in the cart, and then went into the store. He was somebody! (see last week’s post in the link above)
It’s striking when we see a wisdom lesson we are learning, or re-learning, put into practice before our eyes by another. It reminds us that the path we walk, though unique to us, is also traveled by others. It’s a paradox but so is truth.
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Project: Never Ending –
Today my wife and I hung the screen doors on our “never-ending project” we also call the porch. The doors made it look more completed and the end is in sight! However, we’ve said that before and then life gets in the way. Too many things to mention are more important than the project and we’ve set it aside several times to go and help others or have accepted the help of others during the past couple of years. When we finished hanging them we stepped back to the driveway and admired our work. Not perfect but not bad.
Wisdom teaches us that our lives may be never-ending projects but not in the same way as the porch. Those looking for truth accept that we will never stop learning, growing, if wisdom is what we seek. There will be breaks in between. Times when we need to accept our place on the path and rest. Other seasons where we focus our energies elsewhere by helping our family, neighbors, community, nation, and the world.
Finding balance is the key to grow, not at the expense of others, but with them.
What You Hear, What You See –
The new debate that is dividing the nation is no longer pro-Trump or Never Trump, democrat or republican, progressive or conservative, not even black and blue dress or white and gold dress. The division now is whether you hear; “Laurel” or “Yanny” when you play the following audio clip; (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDiXQl7grPQ). The numbers are almost even, 53% to 47%.
As I listened to the audio file and the scientific reason behind what and why we hear a certain word I also began reflecting on our brains and how they interpret information. There’s a quote that reads; “You’re unique just like everyone else.” It’s funny but also true. Not one person on this planet has lived the same life. We are all on this path called life but in different, never walked on before places.
I read an article last week about the “version” of ourselves we want others to see and how its impossible to successfully project this image to another. The problem is each person has experienced a myriad of choices, events, experiences, that have shaped who they are and how they see people. In other words, people see us mostly because of who they are not who we try to be. As many people as we know there are this many “versions” of ourselves.
The question isn’t “Laurel or Yanny?” but why do we spend so much time trying to be someone other than ourselves?
Sounds Like –
Twenty years ago this week an F3 tornado tore through downtown Nashville, Tennessee (http://www.wkrn.com/news/f-3-tornado-hit-nashville-20-years-ago_20180416214213/1126239206) We weren’t living in Tennessee at that time but we happened to be in Nashville chaperoning hundreds of teenagers at an annual talent and skills competition on the campus of Trevecca Nazarene University. When the announcement came down that all were supposed to seek shelter several of us ran to the different ball fields, tennis courts and other places where events were being held. Making sure to get everyone we saw to safety without a lot of chit-chat was important, however, one young teenage girl stopped and with fear in her eyes and voice asked me if we were in the path of the tornado? Guiding her inside as I answered; “I don’t know.” “How will we know?” she inquired. Not being a meteorologist I repeated what I once had been told; “A tornado sounds like a train!” Unbeknownst to my inquisitor, there was a set of railroad tracks behind the campus of Trevecca. At the exact time, I told her a tornado sounded like a train a train going past the school sounded its horn. “I hear the tornado! I hear the tornado!” I peered into her fear brimmed eyes, smiled and said; “Sweetie, tornadoes may sound like trains but they don’t come equipped with horns.” I got her with the rest of the students in a basement, shut the door and stood outside watching, listening for the tornado and laughing, thankful that even in this storm of chaos a light of joy can shine through.
Turning People Into Trees –
This week I had to drive into Nashville for a training. My destination was an hour and a half from the house so I made sure to leave extra early because Nashville is known for its snarling traffic. Each day I drove in, because I was early and not in a hurry I watched other zip in and out of lanes, speed past me only to end up at the same place as me when traffic slowed. People were eating, putting on make-up, looking at their phones, singing to songs. One woman was smoking with one hand and talking on the phone with the other. I don’t have any idea how she was steering. Everyone going in the same direction but getting there in a myriad of ways.
I reflected on the journey we share with others. Our path is ours alone and yet, paradoxically, we share it with many. It is easy to diminish, insult those who travel differently than we do. Wisdom tells us to be open and accepting not closed off and judgmental.
Touching Life –
I watched a video today about a woman, who is afraid of spiders, try to get past her fear by being in the same room, sitting close to one, and eventually touching one and allowing it to touch her. It was an interesting study of fear, facing what frightens us and hopefully overcoming it.
Being fearful keeps us from participating in all life has to offer. As someone with an anxiety disorder, I am acutely acquainted with fear, in fact, its one of my worst friends. I don’t know the source of my fear. One of the reasons I go to therapy is to hopefully one day discover it. Perhaps its as simple as a chemical imbalance and the right combination of medicines will mostly alleviate the ball of worry and stress which sits on my stomach most days. Maybe its memories or experiences which I’ve buried and one-day uncovering them will set me on the path to a more lasting peace.
Whatever the path I travel I want it to be toward knowing joy, not fear, connecting not being disconnected, living not simply existing.
Slowing Down –
The last few days have been slooooooooooooooooooooooooooow. We’ve had overcast skies, plenty of rain and this makes for a dreary season and spirit. April showers may bring May flowers but February showers bring time to a standstill. The last few months have been long. I always have a difficult time between Thanksgiving and Easter. It’s dark when you arise and when you arrive home in the evening. The darkness that surrounds me seems to permeate my emotions. As someone with Chronic Severe Depression and a Severe Anxiety Disorder the days slowing to a crawl, mess with my balance and threaten to send me over the edge into negative thought patterns and fixations on disappointments and failures.
The balance, of course, is not letting the anxiety get in there and make my brain whirl like a drugged up hamster on a greased up wheel. Again, it is balance. I make sure the things which help me; meds, exercise, talking to others about how I’m feeling, are done and not discarded even when tempted to do so.
The balance to keep life’s rhythm manageable is an everyday if not every moment discipline. If we let it we would be either swept away in a chaotic whirlwind of activity or mired in a despondent state of surrender. Slowing down isn’t the goal but balance and mindful living are what keeps us sane and steady on the path.
I sat and talked with a gentleman yesterday about a disappointing experience which had happened to him in recent days. We spoke about turning negatives into positives and how what we might label as “bad” doesn’t have to be a continuing negative experience. “What you do with this extra time, a time you might not have wanted, but have been given will go a long way in shaping the rest of your life. This time is either a blessing or a curse and the choice is yours.”
We underestimate the moments and seasons in our lives that are unwanted and seem to be working against the goals and dreams we have for the present and the future. Wisdom teaches us that every experience can enlighten us, give us knowledge and wisdom, and take us further along the path of life we all are traveling.
Go Your Own Way –
A friend of mine told me a story yesterday and I told her; “That would make a good blog post!” So, here goes…
My friend had a procedure done yesterday and needed someone to drive her home from the doctor’s office and to any other place she needed to go. However, on the way to her appointment, my friend’s friend was telling her to go and drive a certain way. On the way home, when my friend’s friend was driving she did the same thing. Because they are good friends and can tell each other almost anything they quickly made a deal. They agreed to allow the other person to drive the way they drive and to go the route they wanted to go. The one who was the passenger would only be a passenger, not a side seat driver. Problem solved. My friend made the comment; “She goes and does her way, I go and do mine. As long as we get where we need to go, the other stuff doesn’t matter.”
I’ve reflected on this story for the last two days. We live in a world divided. People argue and end friendships over big and small things. It makes me wonder why we can’t agree to disagree. We don’t have to be enemies with those who challenge our beliefs, think differently, walk another path, find peace and do kindness different from us. What matters is we all get where we need to go.