Marathon Guilt (ccr)

Blair Lewis, PA  wrote a book called HAPPINESS, The Real Medicine and How It Works. This is a pick-up-open-and-read kind of book, as well as a start to finish study.

Recently, I seem to be spending evening hours doing crosswords as much as I am doing book time, snatching paragraphs rather than enjoying chapters.    Reading requires focus on language, concepts and connections.  Crosswords require turning some connections upside down.

Mr. Lewis’ book is a haunt, his writing  a crossword turning my lifetime connections upside down.

My friend, Patti, once wrote, “Life is not a sprint but a marathon…”.

Mr. Lewis wrote, “Self-transformation is not a sprint:  it is a marathon.  To finish the race, you are going to have to find and organize all of your memories of success and survival.”

Patti’s thought is a ‘keep on keeping on’ kind of statement… even when life feels like  pushing down instead of forward, a one step at a time, handling what is there… kind of thought.

To Mr. Lewis, this is a ‘build on the best’ kind of statement.  He writes about the destructiveness of our thoughts focused on failures.  He writes about transforming the self by training the mind to see strengths and successes.

My lifelong religious training was a training in the guilt of sin.  From that original snake mess-up to weekly confessions of forgotten prayers, I  trained in sin.  That is so odd.

I have written about the Beatitudes and the Prayer of Francis.  To me, these are the basis of a spiritual look at life.  These two pieces of ‘prayer’ do not do sin.  Rather, they do strength and success.

One last comment lest a new Gentle Reader surmise that I am finding opportunities to disrespect my religious training and education.  Not so.

My Catholic education was amazing from elementary school through part of  college.  Dedicated priests and nuns , often brilliant, were some of the most generous and kind people it has been my privilege to know.   However, the institutional message was a message of sin even to the point of Jesus’ death because of my sins so many years before I  committed them.

Isn’t that putting in the fix, a finish line that precedes the starting gate?  Sprint or marathon won’t matter in the end if the guilt comes prior to the act.


Riddle Me This

Kind of fun to take the sidebar into the nonsense of the great mouse hunt.  Friends and family joined the quest even to the point of Martha telling me to name the critter, talk to it nicely and viola!– a new pet!

Because we have been friends since 1957, I resisted my true response.   Mickey (Opps,  I did name it!) moved on and the attempt at hiatus from truth has ended.

Some very odd things bring me up short.

I can sleep in our bed without the ache.  Our room is comfort.   I feel safe and cherished there.

Kicking through the leaves, that he would have mulched by now, is far too difficult. He loved this place.

Driving his big SUV is as driving my granny Buick, but being a passenger in his car is pretty close to unbearable.

The only music I can hear is Roy Orbison.  Everything else is too hard.

Getting through the aisles of our regular grocery store won’t be happening for a long time.  Yesterday I had to leave, fearing that I would give in and cry my way from produce to bakery.

Bob cherished his dad’s pocket watch and wanted it given to our first-born grandson.   The jeweler said the mark inside the back was either 1911 or 1921, wonderful old timepiece that he will clean and prepare for Christmas giving to Cain.  Fine.  Easy.   Next step was asking about changing Bob’s beautiful old watch band into a bracelet.   Slipped it on my wrist for sizing and I choked again.  Had to leave.

Cleaning out old Missouri Conservationist, National Geographics and Smithsonian magazines makes me angry and frustrated.  Clutter is an enemy.

Packing his collections of fishing, hunting, nature books ends with me apologizing to him for not saving all his treasures.  I am the enemy.

The ebb and flow will not be stopped.  I know that.  I am  blessed with several lives, two of them with good men.  The first marriage gave me five amazing children and years of joy being their mother, caring for our home and watching them become.  The grief at that ending felt impossible, too heavy, too sad, too riddled with failure.  Family and friends eased the passage.

Maybe this is that unbroken circle of easy lyrics designed for comfort.  Maybe the circle surrounds with family and friends, being held in whatever safety is needed at each moment.   Grief is consuming in the way it envelopes each day, but there is good in the process.   My family and my friends are that good.


Two Plus Two = More

Pinpointing this might be the dog vs. the dog’s tail kind of ramble, floundering as I organize what passes as my rational thought process.  A couple of blogs ago, I admitted to working on a piece about Time and the difficulty of pulling it together.  (Is my life truly measured in blog-time?)

Time is like the mercury I remember from Sister Rose Carmel’s chemistry class at Ward High School–hard to pin down and full of odd movement.  Time might give dozens of right-minded opportunities only to be ignored until Time withdraws every opportunity.  Time can fleet, offering no opportunity to think.   It happens.  It is gone.   Time is something that no timepiece can monitor.

Time’s first two passages:

A friend, a very dear friend, is in mourning.  This is not the four stage grieving of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ arrangement.  No bargaining, no acceptance will come.  Physical death is  not the event.  Profound sadness, consuming sadness, deep and painful sadness over what Time has snatched away and, quite possibly, destroyed.   Even accepting the reality of grieving is painful as it taints all the good Time that remains.  Why must she grieve for that which should never have been?

Last week, my husband visited his PCP.  “If he gets worse, take him to the hospital” was the final advice.  We struggled through the afternoon and evening.  When his weakness, spiked fever,  vomiting and breathing problems made it evident that I could not get him to the car, we called 9-1-1.   Within a very short time, the Platte County Fire Department responded and, to my mind, saved Bob’s life.   They were amazing.

Time’s second two passages

In August, we celebrated birthdays of my daughter, my son, my one year old grandson and my six-year-old grandson, plus my very special friend, Karol.  Time was celebrating, giving opportunities to be profoundly grateful for the people in my life.

My oldest grandson starts his college career this week.  I love him beyond my ability to express.  He is the first-born of my first-born, milestone births that directed my channels of Time. During an occassion scheduled for parents to visit the campus, my grandson expressed his thanks and appreciation to his dad–appreciation for both the gift of life and the ongoing gift of caring for that life.  My grandson expressed his thanks and appreciation to his step-mother for ‘being there for all the hard parts”, nurturing the insecure 3rd grader through Time and stages, bringing him to this confident and talented college freshman.

Two plus two.  Two moments of Time heavy with grief and profound sadness that have altered lives.   Two moments of Time rich with gratitude and profound appreciation for and to the people in my life.  As Dave Ramsey would say, “Better than I deserve.”

Two-Names’ Bullseye! (ccr)

Two-Names owns the title King of Connections.  After reading the blog, Not Even Sub Prime, which Two-Names calls a ‘lulu’, he sent a Rudyard Kipling poem entitled Tommy.

Tommy stands scorned from major participation in society, but is Handy-Andy for doing the scullery work.   Tommy is a soldier not good enough to embrace those of higher station, but good enough to defend with his life.

Sadly, the poem is an apt comparison to women’s place in the church.

I salute Rudyard Kipling for his poem and I salute Two-Names for his astute observations.

Rudyard Kipling’s Tommy
I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.
. . . .
We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,
But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

Raised To Be Sleek

In Michael Perry’s book Coop, he writes about the funeral of his young nephew, Jake. The room was oppressive with grief, the choking sadness of a child’s death.   Michael looks around at the ‘sunburned old dogs’ with Brylcreemed hair approaching Jake’s father.  Each man there, knowing that there are no words to comfort, nothing to ease the ache, but there because that is what we do.  Michael’s stray thought wonders at the juxtaposition of craggy faces, work-worn and weary, slicked with the grease and smell of hair.  He  writes, “At times like this I am grateful I was not raised to be sleek.”

I love that.

I love Michael Perry’s perception that grieving touches the heart, no matter the look of the mourner. I love the acceptance of everyman, no matter his dress. What matters is the need to share the grief, to do something to make the pain less crushing.

“…not raised to be sleek.”
My dad was born in 1910, a long time before education and experience brought us to our easy enjoyment of cultural diversity, our acceptance of everyman. But Dad knew all that without education and experience.

Some family lore has him graduating from high school and the flip side says he quit high school to earn money so he could impress Mom. Heads or tails, the story works.

Our Kansas City, Kansas high school (1950’s) had some cultural diversity though not the degree enjoyed today.  Wyandotte County definitely had class and color lines.  Dad saw color, but color had no other significance than shades of skin. His friends were as diverse and they often filled the big kitchen bantering with us and filling the house with laughter.

Dad was bandbox perfect in his personal appearance, but the scruffiest kid could come to our house and be welcomed. Dad really believed that idea that every moment is just that–a moment, a snapshot in a life.

Actually, the lingering aftermath of the depression probably prevented us from being raised sleek, even if our parents hoped for that. But I believe that Dad saw people as good, as a reflection of one another mirroring only the best.

I am grateful to Michael Perry and his book for reminding me of this wonderful part of who my father was, of the depth of this special side of his character.

Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes

Andy Rooney’s piece on the Super Bowl was lame…lame and perfect.  For the record, lame was Mr. Rooney’s word of choice.  I am agreeing with the perfection of the word.

On the flight to the Super Bowl,  he enjoyed a Delta bargain seat that was about $500.00 more dollars than the normal non-bargain flight.  In a panorama shot of people specks, he was a guy in the baseball cap.   The high dollar hotel room needed a 4 day minimum to book.

Andy Rooney listed the cost of his twentieth or so consecutive visit to the Super Bowl, give or take a few pennies, as $2,000.00.  Of course, that amount did not include his regular salary and the cost of producing his minutes long,  self-deprecating segment on 60 Minutes.

From the perspective of Super Bowl fans, the piece was lame.    As an honest reflection on a ho hum weekend, the perspective was perfection.  Maybe Christopher Hitchens and Andy Rooney should talk.

The Pursuit of Power and Freedom

by Katha Upanishad

One of my sons is a seeker.  He reads and studies to find a truth that fits his spirit.  Recently, he sent books that hold of piece of his truth.  The Pursuit of Power and Freedom had translations and commentary by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait.

The meaning and purpose of life is a constant theme portrayed in parable and in  conversational teachings.   In order to absorb these books, I will read and reread.  However, one translation of an Invocation is unusually meaningful to me.  In six lines, this Invocation speaks to the most precious beliefs surrounding the meaning of life.

  • “Om.  May we protect and nurture each other.
  • May we rejoice together.
  • May our strength and vitality grow together.
  • May our knowledge shine.
  • May we not be jealous of each other.
  • Om.  Peace, peace, peace.”

Takes me back to that hymn/song, Gentle Woman.   “Teach Us Wisdom, Teach Us Love”.