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Posts Tagged ‘perspective’

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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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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Truth alone will endure. All the rest will be swept away before the tide of time. (Mahatma Gandhi)

The bedroom clock is off. Ten minutes slow. I rely on those large bright digits. However, a clock can be forgiven, adjusted. It may be faulty but doesn’t have motives.

Recently I found myself forgiving someone—before I had come to terms with my own feelings about a simple incident. Yes, I believe in forgiveness, but truth needs to be faced first. I can’t begin with the second, higher flight of stairs. I need perspective. How I wish it came naturally.

That pause. That time to breathe and allow myself to recognize this moment, the next, and then the whole. Sure, I’m grateful not to be the hothead who begins with a lash-out. There is less repair later. However, I forget that as a tool for the greater good, rust spots in the mind ruin effectiveness.

Truth. Pure in its definition. Harassed in real life.

The world scene. The government in my own county. The greed, hate, horror, ignorance. People dismissed inside a prejudicial label. Never touched so that they can be viewed without names and lives. Left versus right when the two need to work in the same body.

I watch the injustice and fight despair, give what I can and let truth endure. Eventually. The world’s clock is off as toxic waste is dumped into the earth’s water. The less people have the more they pay. Yet many conned, poor, uneducated individuals honor a man who leads them into further destruction.

Somehow, with the help of hands willing to join, truth endures. I pray not to give up. A fight doesn’t need fists to be real.  The world doesn’t need debate, an I’m-right attitude. It needs integrity.

 

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Hygge is about having less, enjoying more; the pleasure of simply being… Louisa Thomsen Brits, The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well

Hygge time. A Danish concept. Moments when we are grateful and aware of the now. Not yesterday or tomorrow. Snow falls while Jay and I sip coffee.

He tells me about someone he met at the pool. “I killed two kids,” the man told him.

My first thoughts are DUI or an accident, but this is my time to listen. The man is a veteran. He followed the command to shoot. Children sometimes carried explosives. The dead are not people; they are the enemy. Saved by the military.

Jay tells him it wasn’t his fault. He did what he was told to do. The man answered, “But I pulled the trigger.”

Now that moment explodes through the man’s head. A mantra called PTSD, created by the battlefield. Guilt with no place to go. He wants someone to apologize for the command. Jay can only listen, a powerful tool for the moment. Not an immediate answer.

The man left the pool.

I had been looking out our front window and watching the lines formed by the houses in our neighborhood. The homes. I look for the focal point I have been discovering in art class. As a student at age 73.

Even a simple line remains true and honest, then easily misunderstood by point of view. A tilted camera. An I-already-know attitude. In the photo I didn’t want a picture of my car, the house across the street. I didn’t want the half-iced street. This tilt is obvious. Not every slant is.

In the picture I know the difference. In real life, perception can be blurry in ways that have nothing to do with eyesight.

The whiteness won’t stay. Neither will ten o’clock on a February Saturday morning. However, I hope the integrity inherent in a few moments on an ordinary couch, remains and grows into whatever I need to be now. Into tomorrow. Into each giving opportunity as it opens.

 

 

 

 

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At the end of the day, tell yourself gently: “I love you, you did the best you could today, and even if you didn’t accomplish all you had planned, I love you anyway. (Francois)

Turn on the news. Try not to scream, or worse, cry in despair. Integrity has been attacked. The legal system in the United States has been destroyed. Untrue statements repeat as valid, creating powerful weapons against justice. Absurdity and hate reach a crescendo.

And the notion that an honest tomorrow is promised, falls short.

So, why try to fight evil? Because I have value. You have value. The folk who have been misled have value. I remember a picture I took in County Clare in Ireland a year and a half ago. During a drought. A plant was growing through a hole in a rock. The growth didn’t happen quickly. It did happen after persistence.

To remain capable of giving even as the world seems to crumble. To smile, honestly, at a critic. Not easy. And no, I haven’t earned a halo. I have done the best I could today. May the rock break open just a little bit more. With the counter-weapon of compassion, while continuing to speak truth.

 

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Listening to and understanding our inner sufferings will resolve most of the problems we encounter. (Thich Nhat Hanh)

An old black car with temporary tags sped up our street during Saturday night’s rain. Hit and run. My rear-view mirror is no longer facing the rear without the help of duct tape. The glass cracked but didn’t escape onto the road to puncture tires. My car’s left side has superficial wounds yet lacks an immune system. It won’t heal itself.

My husband and I were not home at the time. However, two neighbors witnessed the event. They chased the driver. Later they identified her. The next day a police report was filed with my neighbors’ help. I am humbled by their steadfast assistance.

“You are loved,” my daughter-in-law says. And I pause, aware of the goodness of my family. Friends. One of the witnesses I barely recognize. The other has assisted my husband and me many times.

Cecelia, my daughter-in-law, and I speak often. I am more than twice her age. It doesn’t matter. Sometimes I encourage her. Then we reverse roles. Ego isn’t the decider. Being the best of who we can be, is.

Sometimes, insides break open like the interior of this near-dead rear-view mirror. It’s complicated inside and needs protection. Not smooth, matching the meant-to-look-perfect whole. Time to face what is, not what I want it to be.

I think about this person who used the street as a speedway. And I can’t judge. Old. Young. Color. None of it matters. Besides, I don’t know the answer.

I pray she no longer needs to run. From whatever, to whatever. The messiness inside the whole. A job that isn’t mine. That doesn’t mean I can’t care enough to wish her well. In whatever way a blessed journey can lead.

 

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