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Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. (Rita Mae Brown)

Stories, the real-life kind. I talk to a friend as she relays an incident involving someone whom she has known her entire life. The young man has mental illness. Voices led him to rob a bank. No gun. He doesn’t own one. He had a knife. And didn’t use it. The threat was enough. Yet, this seriously disturbed man has been the comfort and support of a woman who is severely handicapped. She is alone now. In another state. 

Now, the young man is in jail. The fate by law of a bank robber… I step down now from extreme examples. How often does anyone know the full story about anyone? 

I like to think I’m allergic to judgment. Yet, I’ve come to strong conclusions concerning far less.

These two examples may not be spoken, but they are nevertheless real.

“Turn off your cell phone and pay attention to traffic.” Yes, distracting calls on the road are a dangerous practice. However, do I know how important the conversation is? About the closest liquor store? Maybe. A lost senior citizen… A dying family member… Not within my limited perception.

“Where did you learn grammar? From bubble-gum pop music?” Okay. I admit it. I grimace when I hear, “I can’t wait no more for you.” Maybe this young man needs school before he marries Paula. Yes, it’s a judgment. But I know it.

I met an uneducated, yet wise woman years ago. I wrote about her and published a short story in an Appalachian press about her. The book I wrote remains in limbo. For publication someday, when the virus fog rises. However, when I remember Gladys, I gain better perspective.

During these enclosed, time-to-reflect hours, I may not be able to cure the world. I can cleanse my thinking. And expand my ability to care. Opportunity comes in strange forms. May I find it in the rubble.

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She generally gave herself very good advice, (though she very seldom followed it.) Lewis Carroll

Take one opinion.

Call it the whole.

Shout your words

with venom if necessary.

Cover your home,

your car, every space you touch

with bumper stickers, clever words,

succinct, biting,

so simple and transparent

an ostrich could strut

your message across a zoo.

Then flick on the television,

curl up in your favorite chair,

or lie on a distant beach,

and revel in the comfort of your truth.

Relax, with food and wine within reach,

your part completed.

 

(originally published in For A Better World)

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I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine. (Neil Armstrong)

 Sure, the word challenge has an encouraging, powerful ring to it. However, human experience adds a bite to it, the kind that draws blood, pain, or detours.

I was experiencing one of those Atlas-earth-carrying moments when I noticed an old homemade card on the floor by my bookcase. Huh? What is this? It looks familiar.

A birthday card from my father. He died more than ten years ago. He comments on the years since I was born, then mentions what a beautiful person I have become.

The how of the card’s appearance now, on a floor that was vacuumed yesterday, is curious. But the message is clear. I am worth the effort of any struggle.

I remember a night when I was sixteen. I hallucinated as the result of a dangerously high fever from a throat infection. As the fever rose I claimed the colors were wrong on my dresser drawers and stairs and needed to be rearranged. Now.

Both dresser and steps were an everyday, nondescript beige. Then I needed to take the number one million and convert it into a tangible object. Before morning. And take it to school. My arms churned as I counted. One-hundred-fifty, one-hundred-fifty-one.

My mother panicked as she hunted for aspirin, the fury of her feet on the floor amplifying my count. Somehow my parents managed to get me to swallow the small white tablet.

My dad told me he was good at math. He would do my assignment. Then, he would take care of the colored wood as I slept. After all, he knew a lot about paint. He carried me up the stairs to my room.

Somehow, that next morning I remembered most of the evening. The absurdity struck me as a nightmare, someone else’s nightmare. And yet, the loving response of my dad stayed with me.

I hold the long-ago card now. My father present in this moment even if he left the earth in a past decade during the last century.

“Thanks. I wouldn’t be here without you,” I whisper. My life is finite, too. May the heartbeats I have left, bring peace.

 

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Surprisingly lovely, precious days. What is there to say except: Here they are: Sifting through my fingers like sand. (Joyce Carol Oates)

Our neighbor came to our door with a ladder and a pair of needle-nosed pliers. We had a broken bulb in a ceiling light. My husband and I could fix it, but we have physical limitations. The job could take an unreasonable amount of time. Our neighbor came to bring light into our bedroom. He succeeded.

His wife had come earlier to help me with a task difficult for my arthritic fingers. Both husband and wife bring brightness into our home.

Precious moments. Simple, yet savored.

I recall times when friends come and share the difficulties in their lives. I listen. Blessed by more than sun. They trust me. I share my struggles. We recognize strength. Human bonds. Gratitude.

Ugly loses its power when the genuine person inside reaches for precious instead of perfect.

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Men are not moved by things but by the views they take of them. (Epictetus)

A sunburst strikes the windshield of my car and I beg it to stay. Cleanse my thoughts. Highlight the good. Too many people want to believe the earth can’t be affected by poisons tossed into the air. A man who disrespects other people and nations is okay—for anything.

And yet, judgment of any individual is not my right.

The sudden sun-brightness doesn’t stay. It never does. Peace, right now? Maybe not. I discover only smiles of encouragement and the assurance that integrity is always in season. Perfection, not as much. The bottom photos lean. May time help them. Direction isn’t the issue: peace is.

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If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient.
It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear. (A. A. Milne, Winnie-The-Pooh)

Sometimes a sigh says more than a paragraph can. Kim, a YMCA employee, tells Jay and me not to give up. We’ve come this far. I can’t speak for my husband, but I have more than fluff in my ear. Both ears, my knees, back, and hair follicles feel impaired. How long have Jay and I been on the phone with our insurance company anyway? Trying to get some number-code, one we didn’t know we needed for a new benefit. Exercise for older folk.

Jay says we have been in limbo for an hour. Including transfers, wrong departments, and a disconnected line. We can join the Silvers Sneakers Program, for free. However, we have only been given partial information regarding the how-to. Not enough to get us started.

I am ready to bolt. Go home. Clean the toilet. Scrub the trash can with an old toothbrush. Empty the leaves from the yard, one at a time. Anything would be a better use of the day.

Then Niecey appears. A tall, attractive, dark woman who doesn’t look old enough to be eligible for Silver Sneakers. She has just finished her registration. She offers to help. We abandon the phone for the Internet. Within minutes the task is completed. *

Kim appears ecstatic, as if we had joined her family. Personally. “See. It was worth it. Thank God!” We join in a half-sung halleluiah.

Patience. Thy name is not Terry. Irritation could fit better. An overall distrust for systems, of almost any kind. Time to choose a different perspective. Not simply because a problem has been solved, but because good people in the world exist. I have a choice—to celebrate the presence of angels or get lost in memories of miscommunications. A sure slide into bitterness.

Kim’s smile reveals an inner glow. Her tight black curls seem to dance as she hugs me.

How long can I hold onto the kindness of cherubs—envision it with the same eyes that view continuous, ugly news events? I don’t know. But kindness is worth the brain cell use. For as long as I keep the fluff out of my ears.

 

*Maybe this help link could be beneficial for general information about the insurance benefit. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all answer.

 

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If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. (Mother Teresa)

My grandson’s miniature cars speed across rug or kitchen floor and carry his imagination. I saw those possibilities for less than a few seconds as I waited in line at a local discount store.

As the couple behind me and I chatted, the man making his purchase, a one-dollar toy car, raised his voice. “It’s how much?”

I watched his dark cheeks tighten.

The cashier repeated the price in a barely audible voice.

I pulled out my wallet. Even if I had spoken before reaching into my purse, I would have been too late. I guess he expected the item to be further discounted. My mind-reading skills are rusty.

He ranted about how nobody likes him. Everybody hates him. Why doesn’t the store just call the police?

Nevertheless, he pulled out the dollar and more change than necessary to pay the tax.

I’ve been thinking about this slender, angry man and praying for him ever since. One dollar and a few coins couldn’t have saved him. He needed far more. An earlier justice probably. Love, when he was ready to recognize it.

He walked out. How easy such a simple event could have led to violence.

The cashier in the next lane hugged her fellow worker.

“That poor man isn’t well. You know it wasn’t you,” I added. And she nodded.

Yet, one tiny car travels somewhere. The only gift he could afford? I don’t know. No story is ever complete. May a blessing appear. Somewhere.

Since then Christmas hasn’t come and gone; it has come and begun. The day has nothing to do with a belief system. Presents. Parties. Enough lights to blind traffic. The ability to be peace transcends any religious border. Let it happen. Please.

 

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