I use song titles as blog post titles a lot. It’s not laziness, but rather these few words tend to capture feelings so well. Feelings that are hard, like grief.
Twelve years ago today I lost one of the most central people in my life. My head understood she was very sick and suffering; my heart was (and is) broken in ways that can never, ever be fixed.
My aunt Helen died quietly at her home in the early evening hours of the last Friday in February, after a short battle with leukemia. There are some memories that never leave you, and the night of her passing is one of those, even a dozen years later. Sitting there in the (virtually unchanged) house of my childhood, making awkward conversation with her rat-bastard of a husband as I tried to adjust to the idea that the person who was so much a part of my memories and my life was with us no more.
We had no hint (but should have) of the storm that was to come. Ugly, needlessly cruel but ultimately pointless.
Like the Paul Simon song says, “When I think back on all the crap I leaned in high school, It’s a wonder I can think at all.”
With my last child slogging his way through high school and questioning why he needs to learn some of these things, I find myself wondering. how much of what I was taught in those days has stood the test of time?
Wow, when you start to list it out, it really was a lot of crap. The real learning didn’t start until college. I remember on the day I graduated I was sure I’d never have to study, my learning days were behind me, except they weren’t. Far from it.
I’ve learned more since I left that building than I ever did inside it.
Makes me wonder how much of what my own children were taught in those hallowed halls of high school might one day (maybe soon) be proven untrue, be labelled crap.
I expect a lot, I readily admit this, though I find the term, “high maintenance” supremely insulting. A way to put down a woman who knows what she wants and is not afraid to tell you. Luckily the man I share my life with understands my expectations (for myself as much as anyone), appreciates it (can you believe that?) and admits to benefiting from it.
Having high expectations can ruin you, if you let it. The ability to distinguish between reality and your expectation is key to keeping yourself from being disappointed. Be realistic in what you expect… perfection is great in your dreams but pretty hard to achieve in real life. Get as close as you can. Understand that things can, and do, go wrong sometimes and that’s okay. Greatness can still be possible too, just not the greatness you expected.
Admit to it or not, we all do it. Gossip that is.
Maybe it’s to distract ourselves from our own troubles. Maybe it’s to remind ourselves that we are not alone in facing the travails of life. Maybe the fact that gossip is frowned upon makes it that much more alluring — who doesn’t like to be privy to special knowledge about other people?
Just think about how Hollywood thrives on gossip. Science, as you might expect, is studying gossip — using it as a way to understand what’s normal for a particular culture, to encourage cooperation and build bonds (unless you’re the subject of the gossip, of course). They suggest gossip as a way of learning — which comes into play when you’re new on the job and need to learn the lay of the land. Fast.
As I write this, the NH Primary is less than a day away. Sometime tomorrow I will walk into my polling place, ignoring the earnest greetings of sign toting volunteers along my route to the door, and go into a booth to face my choice alone. Who do I honestly think will be the best President? By Wednesday morning the polls will have closed, the results announced, speeches made and hotel rooms checkout out of. The 2016 Presidential Campaign will lumber on without a backward glance.
We in NH can have our state back. Of course I realize the First in the Nation primary brings lots of money and attention to a state that’s often overlooked. I know why we fight to keep it. Without an income tax, NH needs all the help it can get to earn revenue — even annoying, self-serving help. A winter without snow has shown us how unreliable Mother Nature can be when it comes to drawing skiers to the slopes and money to our coffers.
And nobody minds (including us) being paid attention to, having (however brief) influence, making well-heeled politicians and press slog though the same slushy streets we do.
I’ve written before about how I truly think the meek deserve to inherit the Earth, as they put up with all the self centered foolishness of the rest of us. Quietly, without complaInt. Today I’m focusing on the quiet souls of this Earth who go about their business without a sound.
I am one of these quiet souls, have been my whole life. As a chold my mother (bold and brash and beautiful) chided me for being so shy, having nothing to say. I never could make the change she wanted, I was not wired that way. It’s not that I don’t have opinions, or that I think they are not valid — it’s just I have no urge to blure them out.
Ask and I’ll glady share, don’t and you’ll never know.
There are some things that are impossible to forgive or justify. I’m not talking about that big stuff here, but rather the things that are big in our own lives. Intentional hurts. Insults. Bad behavior. Things that reasonably can be forgiven.
Probably (if experience is any guide) not ever entirely forgotten.
There’s a reason that old saying combines “forgive” and “forget” in one expression. It seems to me that you can’t have forgiveness, true forgiveness, unless you have been able to forget (as much as possible) the hurt delivered to you in the first place. Forgiveness is far easier once some memory loss has taken place.
There are times in life when everybody wins. Everybody but you.
One of the hardest, loneliest of these is where a “win-win” is joyfully proclaimed and celebrated by everyone, except you. Whatever misgivings or concerns you might have are brushed aside, not even making the radar. No one sees what you do. The siren song of victory is calling to them all, no dark clouds in sight for anyone, but you.
If there is a lesson in the bad times in my own personal journey, I’ve yet to find it. Perhaps I’m a slow learner. Or a hopeless pessimist. Or lack true faith that things are unfolding as they were meant to.
It’s not often that we get the chance to do something good, really truly good, for someone. I got that chance today and I’m the happiest person alive.
Give yourself bonus points if you’ve done a kindness for someone you don’t know. Double bonus if you get no credit whatsoever for the deed. A lack of recognition does not diminish the deed or the feeling that comes from it one bit. In fact, in my humble view, it makes it better.
Especially fulfilling is when the recipient is a child. Who can resist that urge to help? You’d have to have a heart of stone to ignore the needs of an innocent who is young and wanting.
What you learn when you do good is just how amazing it feels. It puts a smile on your face, a lightness in your step (not to mention your heart) and gives you a wonderful feeling of cooperating with the forces of good in the world.
Like many people, I spend more time than I should feeling downright sorry for myself. My burden is too heavy, I think, though in truth it is no worse (and a whole lot easier) than the troubles faced by others. These days I’m often uncertain, stressed and in demand, worrying about things that have not, may never, happen. Of course, as you do, I realize that no one person has any more “life stress” than anybody else.
Through it all, I long for a the time where all is well and I am free. Anybody else?