Sunday, January 8, 2012
“God takes care of fools and babies.”
That’s what my father says when he wants to own up to saying something silly. Dad believes that God has a special place in his heart for, and spreads out his mantle of protection over, those unable to fend for themselves. I believe it too, because the classifications Fool and Baby pretty much cover everybody.
I see it all the time. We all get silly notions into our head that are just really bad ideas. We see something. We get a hankering for it. We devise and plot toward it. And all the while a little voice – a smart little voice inside our head – whispers: “Bad idea. Bad idea. Bad, bad idea.”
I want a convertible.
You have three toddlers. Bad idea.
I want to move to Alaska to be with that girl.
Cold weather makes you sulk. Bad idea.
Sure, I can have a shot. It’s after 5.
You work until 7. Bad idea.
I’ve been chasing that guy for months. What do you mean something happened to his last girlfriend?
Bad, bad, bad idea.
And we whine when we don’t get everything we want. And we shake our fists when God doesn’t answer every prayer. And then, if we are honest, and examine our desires with a ruthless lens, it becomes painfully clear that a great deal of what we want is just plain wrong for us. Not to mention those around us
But we want extensively and with abandon. Our wants reach into every corner of our being. They fill us up to the point where we are unable to see the pitfalls, the path veering into the briar, the rocky chasm yawning before us. We are fools, so blinded by an Aurora Borealis of desire that we trip down the road, blissfully unaware of all the dark shadows looming on the way to our own personal Shangri-la.
But God – or an undefined higher power, or our higher selves, or whatever you believe has a better vantage point from which to view our fumblings – takes care of fools and babies. We don’t get what we want. We get what we need.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
We humans are social creatures. But you would never know it from the all the ways we distance ourselves from each other. We keep each other at arms’ length. We divide ourselves into factions to ensure that we (OK, we really are just talking about our own individual selves, but ‘we’ sounds better) are taken care of. Us and them. You and me. Me and that other girl over there.
But unless you are a hermit on the mount or sociopathic lone wolf in the forest, you simply cannot get away. We build great societies. We construct vast public spaces. We encourage and celebrate our coming together in numbers large and small. Our saddest stories are of lost love and betrayed relations. We are made to be together. And I’d hazard to guess that both the hermit and the lone wolf are delighted when a seeker trudges up the mountain or into the deep forest for a bit of advice and tea.
But we want complete control over the means and participation of our relations. We want to say how much togetherness is sufficient, and where the impassable lines lie. We want to determine which parts of ourselves we share and withhold. We are, after all, unique, singular beings. We want connections, but we do not want to lose our sovereignty. We do not want to lose ourselves.
Yet while all those personal and societal rules of engagement help us to avoid offense and keep us on the right side of the line between good conduct and bad form, they also hinder our ability to understand each other. It is difficult to engage with another when you are worried about getting too close, staring too long, speaking too intimately. Better to demur when true understanding may require a depth of involvement best defined as ‘entanglement.’
Yeah. That state where our connections become hopelessly intertwined, snarled, knotted. Messy. (Gasp!) But really. How do you truly know someone unless you get close enough to smell them?
So I say: Let’s get involved! And not just on the socio-political-macro save the planet/save the world level. No – let’s get involved with each other. On a personal level. One on one. Down in the nitty-gritty where personal battlements are erected and reinforced. Down where our underbellies are vulnerable to claws. Let’s conquer our shyness and dance with the stranger. Let’s disengage our sensibilities and talk about politics and religion. Let’s belly up to the bar, invade each others’ personal space, and ask intimate questions that are none of our business. Let’s get our faces slapped. Let’s call each other out. Let’s laugh and cry, shout and sneer, glare and wink. Let’s talk long into the night. Let’s get so close that we can smell each others’ breath. Let’s get entangled like Romans at an orgy. Let’s get down on our haunches and stare into each others’ souls until we understand.
After all, we’re only human.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
You know. That thing, that energy, that art representing your [essential] self. All those shiny bits at hand to make you a better, richer, bigger, fuller version. All those personal treasures clamoring to be shared with friends and family and the whole wide world.
So, I have to ask: Is there anything worse than unrealized potential?
You know. Wasted talent. Ignored talent. Talent dumped on the side of the road when the pack became too heavy. Talent left on a sunny windowsill to dry out – choke out – for want of a splash of water to feed the spirit. Talent as blessed jewels thrown in a drawer of Someday. Talent pushed aside when reality got … real.
There’s a world full of people who bemoan wasted opportunities, wasted time, wasted lives. They curse decisions that took them away from themselves. Away from the promised opportunities whispered in their ears by Talent as they slept. Compromises that steered them from the golden roads that led to the golden lands in which their best selves (best artists and doctors and musicians and zoologists) dwelled. Golden roads now merged onto the serviceable macadam of obligation, practicality, and a faded Someday.
But, isn’t that just the way it is? We dream, we grow, we compromise, we understand. We put aside foolishness. We make do. We replace dreams with responsible choices. We construct lives of measured contentment. We become accustomed to the road. We travel on.
But, I say we travel the wrong way.
I say, we may abandon our talents, but Talent is patient. It waits for us. It waits because - even buried and ignored - it is an inseparable part of us. In every stage of life, from our Technicolor childhoods to the quiet blue evenings of our final days, it waits. It lurks, blinking at us from around random corners and peeping up from the hard soil of Too-Little-Time. It waits, ready to fly forth on the first breath of encouragement. And, if we ignore it, it lies dormant and waits. If we reject it, it lies dormant and waits. If we take the path From, it lies dormant, waiting for one thought, one look, one receptive ear, one indication that is time – finally time – to turn over that next clump of fertilized soil from which Talent can take root – again – and bloom.
Monday, January 2, 2012
Sunday, January 1, 2012
On this first day of the new year, remember who decides if you will have a happy new year.
It’s not the politicians or the bankers. Not your boss or club leader or mother-in-law. Not the police, your fitness coach, or your priest. It’s not even your wife and children. We all affect each others’ lives in ways large and small. We all impact each other with our thoughts (or thoughtlessness) and our actions (or inaction). But it is what YOU think and feel and do – it is how you act and react – that matters. It is you who decides the character of your year. And your life.
There are so many examples of the blessed who curse their own existences, and the down-trodden who rise above. Some face seemingly insurmountable obstacles and overcome, while others are stymied by the smallest of hurdles. More than anything, it is how they approach life, what they expect of life, what they DO with what they have that leads toward or away from joy.
So as you navigate the next 12 months, decide if you merely want to face the year or if you might embrace it instead. Perhaps instead of always reacting and responding, you might decide to act and initiate. Maybe you can carry the light rather than cursing the darkness. And, maybe your pursuit of joy might inspire someone else to choose a happy new year.
I wish for you great joy and an interesting year of light.
Happy New Year.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
This is the moment.
The trees have been trimmed. The wreathes have been hung.
The gifts have been bought and wrapped.
The traffic has faded.
The children are abed.
The last notes of “Silent Night” hang in the air.
And in this moment,
in this still moment,
there is time to pause –
not to reflect,
not to gather energy for the new day –
but to simply be.
And in this moment,
there is time to wonder,
and time to understand – if only for a moment –
what it means to be a child of God.
Silent Night, Holy Night.