All Over the Place–
It’s not easy giving a Siberian Husky a bath. On Saturday, it was Trooper’s turn and with Beth on the mend from a surgical procedure last week I got to do it by myself. This isn’t Trooper in the video but this is Trooper when we wash him. He hates it. He does okay for a few moments and then begins to howl, run away, lay down, sit down, and walk in circles. The most frustrating is when he begins to shake the dingy water and soap off. It gets all over the place. He does this over and over again until the washer is as dirty and wet as himself.
Last week, and the last month, the politics of America have been making me sick. It was never so blatant as the confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh. Both parties were hostile to each other, insulted their colleagues and those who supported or were against the judge’s selection and election to the supreme court. Protestors from both sides fought with each other, senators exhibited outrageous and unacceptable behavior, used people to further the agenda of their political party, staged dramatic and outlandish speeches and stunts. The President of the United States mocked a victim of sexual assault.
The toxic political environment of our country is poisoning us all. The corruption, lust for power, uncaring for others, bad behavior, hate speech, is spilling all over the place and none of us are immune.
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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Yesterday, almost one million students across the United States of America, walked out en masse to protest school shooting and the inability of adults to agree upon how to make our schools safer.
There were two types of protests that were happening. One was #walkout which encouraged students to leave their school classrooms and #walkup which encouraged these young adults to find someone who seemed to exist “on the edges” and talk with them eat lunch and begin a conversation that hopefully would develop into a relationship. I supported the #walkout and the #walkup protests and thought both had merit and could change lives. Neither was a perfect way of protesting but each one was worth doing.
However, I noticed that many folks were for one or the other. Not many looked for balance in the two approaches. Students were either labeled #walkup or #walkout. It seemed not much conversation was happening between the quickly diverging groups. This made me sad. The reason the students were protesting is that adults can’t talk to one another, find a compromise, work together on behalf of our nation’s youngest and brightest. Now, it was happening again.
I am sick of litmus tests that divide us as a nation, community, and families. I am tired of people not being able to listen to one another even if we do not agree with the other. There is almost always a middle way where we remember we’re all human, deserving of respect and kindness instead of disdain and meanness. Perhaps one day we will realize we have more in common than what we allow to tear us apart.
Sound of Silence –
For the last few days, the sounds of rain has been bouncing off the tin roof which covers our porch. I love the sound but hour after hour, day after day, and you’re ready for a break. Finally, today around noon, the rain stopped. I sat in my living room and listened to the limbs shed their build-up of water and after a while, there was only silence. I wonder if this was how Noah felt being the Ark, listening to the pounding of the rain and the waves and when it stopped did he pause and enjoy the sound of nothing falling on his big boat?
There’s been flooding in our area, yards are swamped, the drainage ditches are overflowing. Even though rain is a wonderful act of creation you can only handle so much of a good thing. Reflecting on the silence I also thought about what we desire in our lives. Most of us do not desire the “bad” with the “good”. In our imaginations, if we had all the power, we wouldn’t face the difficulties, the challenges, the mountains we climb on our journey from the cradle to the grave. Everything would be smooth with no setbacks or failures. If life was this way would we get sick of the “good”? Would we grow? What kind of person would we be?
There’s no way to honestly answer these questions but I do wonder if life would be worth living if we got all the things we think make life worth living for.
Secrets can destroy lives. Secrets can make enemies of friends. Secrets have a way of eating at us, not giving us any peace and taking over all we say and do. Yet, most of us still hold on to them for fear the secret being found out is worse than the misery it causes each day.
Several years ago I had a friend who was ready to leave his current job for a “better” one. We went out to eat and he laid all his grievances out about his current job. He disliked his occupation, didn’t agree with his boss about the direction of the company and was sick to his gut every day he came to work. To others, he was the model employee but secretly he desperately wanted to go somewhere else. After he finished making his case he took a breath and we talked about the new opportunity and I told him I would be happy to give him a recommendation.
A few hours after our lunch my cell phone rang and it was my friend. We chit chatted a few moments and then he said; “I forgot to ask you, what do you think about me leaving?” I told him it sounded like a good job, the move on his family would be disruptive but manageable and to remember wherever he went he was taking himself with him. I went on to explain that some of his unease and difficulty with his present position was not just the job but were the secrets and burdens he carried with him. “No matter where you go,’ I said quoting one of my favorite wisdom teachers, ‘there you are. “
Don’t carry your secrets and burdens with you.
Last week a sick bug knocked me down and stole my energy, motivation and my weekend. I am recovering but the one thing I still haven’t gotten back is my voice. It’s going in and out doesn’t take much for me to sound like I am entering puberty all over again. This week I have also been scheduled to give presentations to varying groups, along with the classes I teach, and so protecting what little voice I have has been a priority. I am trying to keep my throat moist, mouth shut, not speak unless I have to, not sing along with the radio and have rescheduled a few appointments to avoid any unnecessary vocal use. I have a class this evening and a lecture to give tomorrow then a few days of good rest and recovery. Hopefully, my voice will be better by the end of the weekend.
I’ve reflected today on being extra vigilant about not speaking. I’ve avoided giving unsolicited advice, passed on putting my two cents into a conversation, kept quiet when I might normally insert a joke or insight. My extra words don’t seem to have been missed and when it’s been pertinent to say something I used a careful few when normally have may have been more generous.
I begin to wonder how the world might change if more people were afraid of losing their voice?
@Bri anLoging (Twitter)
It started yesterday morning. I got up and while getting ready for work noticed my throat was scratchy. As the day went on my head started hurting, body began aching, eyes watered and a cough developed. I was sick.
The weather has been unpredictable since January. Its been rainy and cool the past several days when it was balmy and almost 70 degrees not long ago. Many people in the office have not felt well and my wife has been battling bronchitis for while now. I also connect with a lot of folks during the week and any number of them could’ve re-gifted their germs to me. “Sigh” I guess it was just my turn.
What hurts the most is not the aches, pains and chills but that it is a beautiful day. Blue skies with brilliant sunshine mock me as I lay on the couch. I’ve been waiting for weather such as this but today there’s nothing to do but hope more are around the corner and getting well is more important than being out and about.
Life is unfair or at least ironic. Wisdom teaches us that patience in all things is important. There are special days, moments, seasons we look forward to only to have them taken away by unforeseen circumstances. We can begrudge our luck, become dismayed at the turn of events or trust that there may still be better days ahead.