Owning what’s inside…

***

Sitting here in a zone of my own after another Saturday breakfast that outdid last week’s, wondering what my muse(s) might have to say on a sunny winter morning. After days of single-digit pre-dawns, the temp was above freezing this morning so Kim was out early making his Mass Street foray, and upon arrival back home gave me the benefit of his well-chilled hands, a cheap thrill for both of us.

Our Jayhawks have a B-ball game at 11am, so Kim’s brewing a second pot of coffee and our brains are on sportsing high-alert. It’s shaping up to be a Saturday worth hanging around for, with things lying in wait that we don’t even know about yet. Meanwhile, my brain is already off on tangents while it has some free time. I’m remembering that someone who knows me pretty well told me recently that I terrify them. Really? Me? Have you seen me in this decade? I don’t have it in me to harm the creatures of the earth, so they must have been referring to whatever comprises my core, a place I’m just now really exploring at this late date. I must make them feel a little like this:

Jeez, lady, wha’d I do??

***

Let me just say that Mary Shelley got it.

***

It’s simply that when someone of the female persuasion finally gets to what Stephanie’s talking about, it comes out fierce and a little terrifying. Good.

***

💙💙💙

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Accountability…

***

It’s been a good week all up in here, with visible progress to show for it. On Monday I organized email folders, dumping over 5,000 messages in the process, taking the time to unsubscribe as I went along. This situation exists because I don’t really USE email anymore, therefore it slides off my cracker on a regular basis and clogs all the pipes and drains in the communication system. These entities are doing their darnedest to impart urgent information to me, the least I can do is give them a decent burial in the far reaches of space. So that was Day One. On Tuesday I made actual phone calls (GASP!!) to schedule overdue medical appointments, three of them, and lived to tell about it. The problem with procrastination is that it’s entirely self-sustaining — once set in motion it’s good to go forever.

So it’s like this…

***

Since Wednesday I’ve been sitting at the piano for about an hour every morning, which is just now possible again thanks to the spinal surgery. My sweet little concert grand needs a careful tuning, and the neighbors might be suffering since all the steel, concrete, and glass in our building conduct sound fairly efficiently, but it’s heaven to be playing again. Yesterday I combed through a book of show tunes, including some stuff from the 40s that my dad used to play, and it was a party of one, with people I remember well listening in.

Whatever hurts you, feel it and let it go. Music helps with that process. Especially if you’re lucky enough to love music.

***

My recently-adopted motto for 2023:

***

***

***

Having survived it for a while, I tend to yammer on about life, but here’s how it really is and you can take this to whatever bank you trust:

“Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends.” ~Joseph Campbell

***

For me, it continues to be about perspective in all things. And this makes me giggle:

***

This week, barring the unforeseen, I shall dispense with a short stack of unsorted mail and empty a couple of in/out baskets, so there’s no lack of inspiration or fodder on the horizon yet and nothing in this house is safe from the urge to purge.

Happy January. It’s almost over.

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The view from here, Week One…

Maria Alfie – Marbles III, 1983, oil on canvas

We survived it. If you’re reading this, you got through the intro to the 2023 dance, along with plenty of other brave souls. And if you’re like me, always going the extra mile, you may even have been recognized for your efforts.

The fresh new year is already bringing its daily load of challenges, and that will likely continue unabated, so remember…

*

Life comes at us without letup most of the time, and we each deal in our own way…

*

*

I found this yesterday and it’s so perfectly said that I sat here in silence for a full five minutes letting the truth of it permeate. It’s exquisite:

*

I did an uncharacteristic thing yesterday and clicked on a Facebook link to a “psychic reading.” Turns out they know me there.

Worth sticking around to find out.

*

So here we all are, putting one foot in front of the other because we weren’t offered another option, doing our best, hoping for the right outcome, human-ing like our lives depended on it. We know we don’t have it all figured out, we’re simply trying to get there in time to catch the last train.

*

A message to 2023:

The past decade has extracted a toll while providing growth and insight.

*

“In this universe we are given two gifts: the ability to love, and the ability to ask questions. Which are, at the same time, the fires that warm us and the fires that scorch us.” -Mary Oliver

*

*

Each new odyssey around the sun comes with its own unique set of events and circumstances, none of which humans are privy to before it happens, so if we want to continue our existence we DEAL, end of story.

BEGINNING of story… here we go. You’ve been warned, bright new year.

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Keeping things manageable…

*

Up at 5am on a Saturday because it was time to crawl out, I guess. My brain leads a life that diverges from what shows, and it loves to think in quiet darkness while morning caffeine gradually permeates my person. Kim’s out trekking Mass Street from end to end, so it’s totally silent all up in here and conducive to slipping down rabbit trails.

Fall is memory season, with everything drawn in vivid color so as to really stick good, and events of a lifetime come at us in a rush. We’re simultaneously children, hormonal teens, the exhausted sandwich generation, and plain freaking old, so it all hits different and too fast for a healthy sifting. I end up feeling blindsided every year by the onslaught of memory and emotion, stretching back to my birth into a family clan. If I get to live as long as my grandmothers there’s a book I have to write… after everyone I’ve ever known is… you know, gone… but as the 3rd-oldest grandchild in the dynasty, I thought all of it was forever, and that the love, trust, and sense of belonging would always be there. That’s the child talking… the adult part of me knows nothing is forever. But oh, how we wanted it to be.

Relative to this morning’s musings, I think all death, human and otherwise, should take place in the fall. Winter’s too miserable, summer’s too hot, spring breaks your heart forever… so fall it is, everything finished and neatly tied up before the snow flies.

*

I’d never really put this thought into words before, but when I read it, I knew that I knew, and that it was okay.

Therefore…

*

We all do this, thereby hurting each other in lasting ways.

*

There’s no way on this green earth to meet anyone’s standards but your own, so be kind, be goodhearted, and live your life.

Pollyanna says…

*

We haven’t seen chaos like this in our lifetimes, making it hard to accept that it’s our turn in the barrel for a while. But history shows that this doesn’t last forever, so we can’t forget how to really live. Happy fall, happy sifting…

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In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king…

Quick diary entry on a perfect Saturday morning in August…

The Farmers’ Market sets up a half-block south of us every Saturday from April into November and it’s a delightful place to spend part of a morning, with food and music and everything else you might shake a stick at. When we first moved here in 2013 we trekked through the alley most Saturdays to see what was spread out for sale, but soon it was just Kim who went… too much walking for me. This morning I included Lawrence Farmers’ Market in my random strolling and it felt good to get back. It was still cool out at 8am and the mounds of fresh fruits and vegetables looked like jewelry in the sun’s rays. A couple of gentlemen were playing zydeco, there was a young man coaxing music from an outsized accordion, and other small entertainments here and there, some planned, some not.

I walked the whole lot, checked out all the tents, bought a fat red tomato, and was headed home when I noticed a man holding a cardboard sign that said I NEED YOUR HELP. He was standing next to the street, at one of the exit points of the market, and looked bereft, to say the least. I stepped behind a trailer, found the loose bills in the bottom of my shopping bag, which amounted to only three, and turned back toward the exit, following a young couple and their two kids to the sidewalk. The man with the sign said good morning to them, a hopeful smile on his face, but they didn’t acknowledge that he was there. I was next in line with my scraped-together offering and I held his gaze as I said “Good morning. This is all I have on me right now, but I hope you’ll have a good day.” We both teared up a little as he responded “Thank you so much. God bless you, you too,” never taking his eyes off mine.

I know life is real shit a lot of the time and we can’t help burrowing into what we’re truly required to deal with, but how awful if we make people feel invisible in that process. Peter, an apostle in the Bible, said to a beggar “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” In place of money he offered the man healing. When we SEE someone, we recognize their value as humans, and thereby extend healing… all the better if we happen to be carrying cash to back it up. If there was a Jesus it’s what he would do.

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Reality intrudes…

This was a ridiculous week to run out of my antidepressant and forget to pick it up… the week the Supremes decided to burn it all down. And now I’m awake early on a rainy Saturday morning, reading headlines. Just saw one alluding to Evangelical Republicans’ delight and joy at the pain they’ve managed to cause for women, for the environment, for the security of same-sex marriage, for the warp and woof of U.S. daily life. Looked at the article behind the headline and its tone was one of crowing success, disdain for human emotions and conditions, and overflowing with we-won-you-lost glee. The fact that it makes conservatives so happy when we’re sad tells me it would be a long trek back to actual relationship, and maybe that’s how they prefer it… throwing it all in our face and walking away.

Words are so freaking cheap, made that way by improper and dishonest usage. It’s a trip of the tongue to say you love someone, a trick of the brain to vote for people who will hurt them. I see younger people saying again that both parties are the same, the mindsets are identical, nobody’s to blame for anything, everybody’s to blame for everything, none of it means squat. They’re mostly young enough not to have memories of what fascism did to Germany, was allowed to do, was invited in to perpetrate, so I don’t take their declarations very seriously. There are two mindsets at work in the nation, and they have little in common. One has heart behind it, the other fear and control. One leads to life, the other death. It’s distressing to watch people cling to lies and desperation… on the other hand, I cannot help them without removing their freedoms as ours are being dismantled. One thing conservatives aren’t taking into account in their celebrations is that the Supremes’ decision to sacrifice the environment in favor of money will affect each of them in equal fashion with the liberals they want to end. Unless we have a few kabillion extra bucks lying around, we’re all eventually going to die the same suffocating death, so maybe don’t laugh too hard or too soon.

It’s always about the meanness, the cruelty, about how much butt-hurt people can cause to fellow citizens who are just trying to get through life. Where does that come from? What shapes one party of people into a given mindset, world view, automatic response? What has molded conservatives in such a way that the first thought is to PUNISH? To make people PAY for their supposed wrong-thinking. To line all the ducks up with a laser and forbid them to move. Where did they get the idea that they need to tell every individual what to do and how to live? And that by not following their edicts, we’re sinning. Clarence Thomas, having scuttled women’s right to full personhood… the right of married couples to use the birth control method of their choice… and the right-to-life of humans who need to breathe Earth’s air going forward by quashing climate change response… now wants to take another look at the case which decided same-sex marriage. He of course hasn’t mentioned Loving v Virginia, which makes his own mixed-race marriage to Ginni possible. After Clarence leaves, they’ll dump that one too, if not before. If Ginni ends up being indicted for the 1/6 insurrection, all bets are off.

In these years, with every part of life in turmoil and all of it changing, I’m okay with the fact that we’re two nations. We always have been, so we might as well accept it, deal with it, and try to live through it since our basic differences haven’t always kept us literally at war with each other. Until the major issues can be resolved, the two-nation thing keeps us from grabbing each other’s throats in any organized way, so it’s a necessary buffer, which is no doubt why we’ve built it, all of us, working together. Imagine that…

***

And now we are here.

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The celebrations of life…

This weekend is Busker Fest in Lawrence America, a 4-day street-performer extravaganza that includes various sound-stages close to downtown, music everywhere, art parades, food booths, merch booths, contests, feats of derring-do, delights for the kiddos, Farmers Market, and untold other good stuff. It started the year before we moved here, and that’s probably the only one we’ve missed. What we love most is knowing it’s happening and that families are having a great time… we watch the steady stream of walkers heading from East Lawrence to Mass Street, and grin big… the underlying vibe here is a healing one. When I’m out driving or walking there isn’t a heavy sense that half the people around me hate what I love, or that I’m a minnow who somehow slipped into the piranha tank. Other than the occasional pygmy shark, there’s been no real threat detected most days.

Turns out early morning on a Saturday is a great time to drive across town, who knew? I had an errand at 7:30 and since everything around downtown is blocked off for the festival, I took different routes there and back, soaking up the cool morning air. There were people out everywhere but very little traffic, and I was truly in Free State Kansas. Tiny piece of unsolicited advice from The Big Sister… never shut down and give up on living, it’s hard to ramp it all up again and put things back where they belong. Pain started shutting things down shortly after we moved here… I stopped talking on the phone due to hearing loss… I lost energy for being social due to both of the above… and a senior neurosurgeon told me there was no way to stop the nerve pain in my body. Things… they happen. My driver’s license was expired for six months, which didn’t matter that much since I was never behind the wheel anyway, but another six and I’d have had to retake all the tests and jump through a few other hoops. There are small mercies…

Life returns, to bodies and to societies, although it’s sadly true that both usually have to hit rock bottom before coming back.

Key-change is key.
I’m grateful to the special people who’ve gotten me this far… and with a legal driver’s license even!

******

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The wind… it blows!

For three or four days running, the weather service threatened us with rainstorms, potentially severe… with no results to show… until my overriding thought became “Either do something or stop blowing about it, ‘k?” We finally got our rain last night, and a suburb of Wichita was hit by a big ugly tornado, so the weather people weren’t wrong, merely premature. The Andover storm, despite its fierce strength, did far less damage than a record-breaking tornado in the same town thirty years ago, which caused massive damage, as well as loss of life. It’s early in the news cycle, but what’s known is that close to a thousand buildings were damaged or destroyed and there are injuries, but no reports of fatalities so far.

In the country’s bread basket we take wind for granted… it’s part of the scenery. I’ve escaped to a corner of Kansas where it generally blows just enough to keep the air pristine… but it will always be part of living here. Wind is crazy-making, whereas rain opens the doors and windows to the subtle force that guides me… the germanic melancholy, the weltschmerz, imbedded in my DNA. We love rain, my muse and I, so empty promises in that regard are grudge-worthy, and since thunder, lightning, and rain give me something to write home about, I hope there’s a lot of it scheduled. No more tornadoes, though, thanks. Like my wise old UncaPhil, I hates me them tornadoes.

It’s a beautiful morning, cool with light breezes. Gonna savor it because guess what, our old friend Wind will arrive soon to blow us through the day. Looks like the grace period ends in approximately 5… 4… 3… so I’m appreciating it all in double-time!

The weekend’s here. Treat yourself to something fun, and remember…

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Add patience and wait…

Hi, just me over here waiting impatiently for spring to find a toehold. Our weather from day to day is schizophrenic, to say the least… warm, cold, rain, snow, wind, sun, low temps, mild temps.

Forecast for the week ahead:

My mission is to stop being a fair-weather walker and just GET OUT THERE. Stay tuned…

******

While I wrestle with my conscience and matters of health, I’m entirely awake to the unspeakable realities happening to fellow humans around the world, and to their lack of choice as to their living… or dying… conditions. My silent tribute to the proud and utterly courageous people of Ukraine, on a beautiful Saturday, in an alternate world…

******

“How wonderful to be alive. I am sorry for forgetting.”

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An almost-spring weekend…

Good morning on an absolutely gorgeous Saturday. It’s still cool out, but temps are heading for the mid-60s by afternoon, the sun’s shining, and something that feels suspiciously akin to joy is rattling around in my heart. Kim made The Breakfast, of course, and it was perfect… of course. He’s been making life as smooth as possible for the past 18 years… and now I can’t possibly thank him enough for never giving up on a fix for the spinal pain… it’s changed everything and given me my life back. There aren’t really words for that.

THIS GUY

I have the world’s best men in my life, and on this day 52 years ago, I gave birth to the absolute best human I know, who affirms along with Kim that I have reason to have existed. Happy Birthday, John Latta. Celebrate everywhere life takes you in the coming year.

Birthday guy at Hot Betty’s for breakfast this morning…

John with hospital co-workers and good friend Lanette, on his right.
Less outnumbered… by one, thx to Mike.
Lisa and her homemade banana pudding cake. That’s a stellar start to a birthday.

Good story to go with the photo above. John says, “There was a group of ladies celebrating a birthday next to us (I thought the birthday girl was in her 20’s, but she’s 46 today!), and I offered her a piece of the cake. Their table went crazy for it, so we had enough left over that they could share in the birthday love.”

******

With a one-sided terroristic war underway, and a psychopath killing as many children as his troops can find, for the sake of shock value, it’s hard sometimes to relax into what’s at hand… the life we’re privileged to live here, at least for now… hard to take joy in the smaller things without being guilt-ridden over it. But the chaos is there and we’re here, and a sanity-based approach to life tells us we can be of no assistance there and very little here. So what’s on tap for today is…

NCAA Basketball Tournament play, starting at 11am with Baylor and UNC, which leaves just enough time for a nice spa soak first. The KU Jayhawks play Creighton at 1:40, our fan-focus of the day, and then it’s endless roundball ’til the sun rises tomorrow, as far as anyone knows. You pick your escapist poison, we’re settled on ours. Which brings up a thought…

Don’t be like Pluto.

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A road marker…

Two years ago we were experiencing our last normal week and none of us knew it. We sheltered at home on March 13, and I started a pandemic diary in this space that ran for a year and accumulated some 233 pages. It’s already proven to be a valuable resource in sorting the details of what happened, because it doesn’t take long for the facts to get muddled, especially in a time of reduced input and impetus.

This morning’s article from CBS News about the pandemic death toll is sobering but not shocking… we’ve known from the start that a cover-up was prime, denial was paramount, and dealing with reality was above TFG’s pay grade. If the world survives, people will someday know the whole truth… it always surfaces with the passing of time.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-pandemic-deaths-18-million-study/?fbclid=IwAR2KqDKBqnGhkyZmVjPEmddPoy7peAK48jkIfB-U188_bzfV2xpNJnBQ9h8

Lies and willful ignorance don’t make for a healthy society, especially if they’re woven into the very foundation. What’s wrong in the world is bad enough… what’s worse is what’s conjured up.

******

https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution-transcript

From the pitiably dense to the primo-darling…


The Valais Blacknose is a breed of domestic sheep originating in the mountains of the canton of Valais in Switzerland (from which its name derives). They have been documented as far back as the 15th century, but only became a standardized breed in 1962. Their unique, fluffy appearance sets them apart – their distinctive black faces contrast with the white curls of their woolly coats. They also have black ears, knees, hocks, and feet, and both rams and ewes have spiral horns. 

These little stuffies are real and they exist in the same world as red-hat wearing MAGAs who are equally clueless for no legit reason and are not adorable.

Speaking of cute, Toodles takes the cake:

******

And since it’s Saturday in America, we’ll segue from cake to cheeseburgers…

Despite growing concern from the medical establishment, we’ll be subjected overnight to an industrial-strength circadian-rhythm disruption that is entirely unnecessary and probably detrimental. It’s 2022, we can stop this ancient (1918) custom now.

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How cold WAS it… ?

Good morning on a sunny, crispy-cold Saturday. Compared to yesterday’s predawn 5º temp, it was a balmy 20º this morning, so Kim walked Mass Street and environs, bringing me his icy fingers as he does after every winter stroll. I actually invite the delicious shock and brace for it, everybody has a good time, and I’m not the one who has to go out and earn it. Also, did I mention it’s Saturday. The Breakfast. The Soak. In all sincerity, if Dr. Carlson and staff knew what a huge role a simple kingsize jetted bathtub can play in the healing process, it would be prescribed during every post-op dismissal. I can hear my bones sighing as I sink under the water…

The world squandered the power to shock me some time ago, but this past week was surprising in its onslaught of book bannings across the country. Comes across like a sudden and spontaneous development, but it’s no doubt been underway for months and years because the banning of “seditious” books is a key element of fascism, whose proponents desire control like they require oxygen. However far this goes, it’s a honkin’ big yellow canary in the coal mine letting us know that none of what’s happening to democracy is benign, nor do the autocrats have our interests in mind in any way, best or otherwise.

When political actions call for less education, less knowledge, less awareness among the public… ask why.

Not all writing is journalism. Not all writing is truth. Not all journalism is truth. But this woman’s protest sign exposes what’s behind book-banning and the arrest of journalists around the world.

*****

I have only a passing knowledge of the thought processes of early psychiatrists like Freud, Jung, and others, but I do share an affinity with Dr. Jung for silence… the quiet of a tended mind. It makes surviving chaotic times doable. On that note, I wish you a peace-filled weekend, and may every cognizant discovery stay with you and affirm you in the space you inhabit.

I’ve shared this before, yes… probably will again.

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Confronting reality on a weekend…

It’s a sunny Saturday morning, 27º and headed for the 40s this afternoon. Monday’s forecast high of 55º will be a bit of a heat wave, and if the wind stays down and the sun stays out, imma plan a river walk, brief though it might be. Meanwhile, I’m quickly forming an attachment to the treadmill upstairs and we put in a solid fifteen minutes together yesterday. Gonna go say hey again before KU-KState b-ball this afternoon since the game will have me glued to my chair for the duration.

Lately I’ve been taking weekends off and deliberately emptying my head of thoughts that clamor for expression… but there are fellow humans in every area of life who don’t have that option and might never at any point. Not to play favorites, but if nobody was working at the hospital, for instance, when our weekend emergencies happened, we’d know we were in a world of hurt. The hard truth is, we’re IN that world now, we just don’t have the knowing yet.

We’re in year three of a pandemic that didn’t have to be like this… a disaster that could have been stopped in its tracks in the same way ebola, smallpox, rabies, polio, and the flu were dealt with… and if our early-detection systems around the world hadn’t been dismantled by TFG… or if any real measures whatsoever had been undertaken after we knew what it was… we’d be in a far different place this morning. But since none of that happened, a world more soberingly real than anything we may have imagined is right on our doorstep.

The brave new world that’s headed our way will register on people’s consciousness dead last here in the heartland, but it’s already being felt in the cities. I know someone who at one point was managing three hospital units including her own, and helping another manager with three or four additional units. Another nurse spent some time in a small African country where people in the hospital were lying on the floor, some of them seizing, with people simply walking over them. She knows it’s only a matter of time until the U.S. looks that same way because, to quote yet another RN, “At some point all of these customer service surveys and trying to turn the healthcare experience into a five-star hotel or resort stay will be shown up for the farce that it actually is. You either are dying and get the emergent care that you need and somehow find a way to pay for it, or you die. No more of this ‘my food wasn’t tasty enough, my room wasn’t clean enough, my sheets weren’t soft enough, the nurse wasn’t pretty enough, the nurse didn’t speak to me subserviently enough… ‘”

There’s a level of incivility toward medical personnel from patients and family members that inevitably bleeds over into interactions among staff and departments to the point that structure disintegrates… chaos eventually reigns… and Americans, of all people, sooner rather than later, walk into New York-Presbyterian Hospital to find fellow humans writhing on the floor for lack of beds and/or personnel. It sounds like a made-for-TV movie, but if you’re connected to the healthcare world at all, you know this country is right on the edge.

COVID and its children have only multiplied and strengthened, regardless what anyone wants to believe. It isn’t slowing down, it isn’t confining itself to the old and infirm, its voracious appetite for living its best life has not diminished. The world’s efforts to be stupidly valiant in its presence are laughable and thoroughly tragic. In my own formative years, we stared polio down and turned it into history, but 65 years later Americans seem to be devolving, most definitely to our own detriment. The vaccine technology that once saved us has become our enemy and I wish I didn’t know that about my fellow man. We are, of all species, most to be pitied, for we so richly deserve our fate. Sometimes you get what you ask for. Probably one of Murphy’s laws…

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A gift…

From my heart to yours this weekend… for all who read my “working through anger” post yesterday, and all who need the sweetness this morning.

John sent this, saying it makes him think of Kimmers and me, which puts me on the edge of tears before the music starts. Finneas, beautiful soul, is a brother to Billie Eilish and has worked with her from the start of her career. At the end of the video, their family silently gathers together…

How do you know
If you’ve done everything right?
Is it the love you have at hand
Or the cash you kiss at night?

How do you know
If it was worth it in the end?
Did every second really count
Or were there some you shouldn’t spend
On anything but anyone you love?
Was this the life that you were dreaming of?
A movie night, a yellow light
You’re slowing down and days are adding up

So don’t waste the time you have waiting for time to pass
It’s only a lifetime
That’s only a while
It’s not worth the anger you felt as a child
Don’t waste the time you have waiting for time to pass
It’s only a lifetime
That’s not long enough
You’re not gonna like it without any love
So don’t waste it

I’m unimpressed
By the people preaching pain
For the sake of some small gain
In the sake of someone’s name

I’m unprepared
For my loved ones to be gone
Call ’em far too often now
Worry way too much about mom

Don’t waste the time you have waiting for time to pass
It’s only a lifetime
That’s only a while
It’s not worth the anger you felt as a child
Don’t waste the time you have waiting for time to pass
It’s only a lifetime
That’s not long enough
You’re not gonna like it without any love
So don’t waste it

It’s family and friends, and that’s the truth
The fountain doesn’t give you back your youth
It’s staying up too late at night and laughing under kitchen lights
So hard you start to cry

Don’t waste the time you have waiting for time to pass
It’s only a lifetime
That’s not long enough
You’re not gonna like it without any love
So don’t waste it

–Finneas O’Connell

Find your joy this holiday season. Look for a handhold and hang on…

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Sea changes…

Whether we’re true believers, hangers-on, or equal-opportunity revelers, the holiday season from Thanksgiving to Easter exerts power over all of us. It’s hyper-represented, and thus misses the mark every year, by which I mean world peace is yet to be realized, and peace almost anywhere has become a myth.

For someone who likes to imagine herself a communicator, I’ve clearly done a piss-poor job of it over the past ten years or so. I’ve sat here at my computer, thoughts preoccupied with the immediate, and watched the world change, moment by moment, event by event… observed while the prevailing mood of the country rolled from benign tolerance to annoyance, to resentment, to violence… and I still have a hard time believing where we find ourselves at the end of 2021.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said “I don’t get it” in the past decade, I’d buy a lovely dinner for the first person who could map out a schematic of what’s happened, and why almost nobody wants to talk about it. I’ve had conversations with a few former stalwart conservatives whose thinking has morphed over the years, and without exception they’ve been happy to tell me what drove their change of heart… things like morals, ethics, concern for other humans, how people are treated around the world, money, greed, blurring of government and religion, crime at the top, and so on. On the other hand, no 2021 conservative I know has shown the slightest willingness to have an adult conversation with me about the world and their take on it. If I ask a question, I’m intrusive and threatening. If I answer one, I’m rude and aggressive.

“I don’t get it” is no doubt a huge tell in the age game, probably a thing boomers say. But I’m just being straight, I want to KNOW. I want to know why we ended up locked in this cage of solid lines, solid walls, a complete stonewall. Everything that happens in the world affects us from womb to tomb, and the past decade has been packed with trauma and upheaval, so why would we think life wouldn’t have changed us in the process as well? There are people I care about who are so transformed as to be unrecognizable, but I still care. If they’re close to me, or were before society started unravelling, I’ll ask them questions… because I want to know who they are NOW. It’s no secret that I’m not the same person I was twenty years ago – life happened and it set me off in all new directions, for which no apologies are owed. Okay… so I’m a different person, you’ve changed, talk to me about what took you down the road you’re on… human things, not statistics, not rants, not I’m-right-you’re-wrong… simply, here’s who I am now, and because I love you I’ll even tell you why.

Somebody a lot of people claim to worship said “You have not because you ask not.” I’ve asked to the point of being summarily kicked to the curb… or I simply know I’ve asked for the last time “Who are you at this age? Can’t we have a conversation?” and if I push the envelope one more time I’ll be locked out and blocked.

How then do we lower some of the walls, open some windows, figure out how to trust each other? I’m hanging out here in the wind, an open book, knowing my liberal friends and family have my back, and wishing those I love on the other side would be straight with me so our relationships aren’t permanently broken. How can a simple two-sided conversation be so threatening? After everything that’s happened, it seems disingenuous to pick up and go on as if nothing has been altered and pretend we still know each other.

Either I’ve asked the wrong questions the wrong way… the right questions the wrong way… or there was never going to be a right way to start with. Communication is by nature at least 2-sided, so I’ve obviously over-talked because what I’m hearing from the other side is crickets. People forget they unfriended me years ago for being liberal-minded, we make a chance connection, they send me a Facebook request, I say yes (oh, Pollyanna, girl… sigh), they see I haven’t altered my worldview since last time they disowned me, they confront me with what are later described as rhetorical musings (with question marks at the end), I answer (being an old bag with a heart o’gold), they take offense, and within three minutes I’m out on my ear again. Will I never learn? No, no I won’t. It’s just how I roll.

I make enemies because I care and I won’t shut up. I lose people from my life because I talk to almost everyone the same way… I say my truth and I don’t dilute it to a ridiculous degree to keep from offending. What I should have been saying to people I love is “Don’t talk to me about your politics or who’s done what and how much you hate it. Tell me what you care about, what keeps you getting up every day, what life means to you now… and talk to me like you want to be there. I’m not being confrontational, I just miss you.”

And then I remember that I’ve done it too… I’ve dropped people like they were hot after the second time they slammed me in front of the gods and babies on Facebook… and I doubt that felt right to them either. Doesn’t seem quite like comparing apples to apples, but I’ve been impatient and unkind plenty of times during this challenging era.

From birth we know who we feel safe with, who we want to be around, who our people are, where we find comfort and peace. We of course also know who we don’t trust, who makes us clam up and be an observer, whose views scare the daylights out of us, who makes us feel less-than… and ain’t nobody got time for that.

You wouldn’t think a person would forget a thing like this, but it slips my mind that there are fellow humans who genuinely dislike me, disavow me, and have no interest in hearing my name again in this lifetime. None of what I’ve said is about those people… they have personal freedom to stay off the path I’m on, and that’s how that works.

The world has shifted under our feet and relationships we once thought couldn’t be broken are in ashes. It feels necessary this morning to acknowledge that, accept it, and keep moving. I’m sorry for my part in the brokenness… but I don’t give up without a fight when something matters, so I’m sure I’ll continue to annoy and disgust people I don’t even know are looking.

For now… let’s think about holiday lights.

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