Thursday, December 27, 2012

What are we doing here?

Since the shootings at the school in Connecticut I've been thinking about the conversations I've heard about how such a thing could happen. Some people say guns don't kill people, people kill people. Some people say it's strictly a matter of getting guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. I am not anti-gun, I think it is both guns AND people that kill people.Unless we uninvent the gun, people are going to get killed by guns. Some would argue that we simply need more capability to help the mentally ill, which I can't argue with, but at what cost? And by that I mean, how many who have been diagnosed with 'a disorder' will suddenly be branded 'mentally ill'? It seems there are more disorders than there are people these days, so who gets to decide who is next in line for help? Won't there still be cracks for people to fall through?

I would argue that it is neither a guns issue nor a mental illness issue. It isn't something that we can eradicate with laws or an overhaul of our mental health system. It goes much deeper than that. I believe it is a condition called 'evil'. In some circles it might be called the depravity of mankind. We are evil. Yes, that said WE. While it's easy to point our finger at the violent acts around us and argue that surely we aren't THAT evil. I agree that most of us don't act in what's known in an evil way, but I'm talking about evil as an overarching behavior. For example: I saw a man walking down the street on Christmas Day with a ragged backpack on his back and what I suppose was supposed to be his sleeping bag in his hand and I thought to myself  'wow, how awful must it be to be homeless on Christmas Day'...and continued to drive home to my warm house. Not an ACT of evil, but evil, nonetheless. We tend to think of evil as if it's at the far end of the man made scale of  'badness'. Which one of us doesn't have leftovers in the fridge that will likely be tossed out soon while a large portion of our world starves to death? Evil? I think so. Perhaps the worst evil we do is to ourselves when we let the callous on our heart thicken and deaden our compassion for others. I am doing it right now by using 'we' instead of 'I'.

My point is this: We will not stop evil unless we are aware of it in our own lives and then strive, with the help of God, to use the heart He gave us to act kindly toward each other. We can't change the whole world, at least not in one fell swoop, but we can change to the point where our circle of influence is changed and each person's circle of influence touches someone else's circle and so on. Kindness comes from love. That is why, I believe, God tells us to love one another. It's the most important, most challenging thing there is. And while it won't reverse the depravity of man, it might just slow the swing the pendulum seems to be on.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

There are times when I have to challenge myself to overcome my sense of complacency. Is complacency a sense or a chosen state of being? Who knows. What I do know is that it isn't a good place for me.

My daughter and her husband live in Texas now and my sons are off at college clear across the state. While I didn't think it was possible, I am in a whole new level of alone. Now, lest you think I'm telling you this for sympathy, I must clarify that I am not. I'm am merely stating it as a matter of fact. Until everyone was gone there was always a chance that some level of interaction beyond a phone call or text message was possible. We'd meet for dinner, they would stop by to hang out, you know, sort of normal living. When they left, the possibility left. I must admit, I thought I was going to be okay with it. After all, I've been alone for 14 years. It is what I've done. But now I'm an empty nester. Not an empty nester, mind you, with someone staring at me from across the table asking, "who are you?", but one who has to ask the question of myself. And I'm not okay with that, because I can tell myself to shut up without much repercussion. This is where the complacency comes in. I can either do the hard work of answering the question or I can just see where this new level of alone leads me. I'm not sure I have the energy or endurance for either.

Maybe the first step outside of complacency is to sit here and write about it. Maybe.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Maybe This, Maybe That.

Having not written in a long while makes it difficult to know where to begin again. I guess the best thing to do is ask myself why it is that I am sitting down to write. Something must be up. Something must be stirring. There must be a reason I've prompted myself to finally try to recognize and organize my thoughts in a way that makes sense.

Maybe it's this: My youngest son just graduated from high school and will be heading off to college in approximately sixty-two days. That could be it. I mean, that's a pretty momentous occurrence. It means I'll be an 'empty nester'. Ha! That makes me laugh. I've been an empty nester for nearly fourteen years now. Well, not really. Real empty nesters have the advantage of another viewpoint, which, while it might not be seen as an ally, it really is. I have the mirror and my own words and thoughts, and, sadly, only the mirror is really accurate.Getting to spend time with my boy kept me fine-tuned even though it was only  for a few hours a week. The old adage that iron sharpens iron rings true. Our Tuesday nights at Taco Time in the second booth by the window, talking about myriad of subjects, ranging from politics to humor to how to be kind to his brother, will likely just be slid into the closet marked 'things we used to do'. And that's okay. Closets are made for storing things like that. It beats throwing them away. Maybe what's stirring is my fear and/or trepidation on what to do with this new level of aloneness.

Or maybe it's this: I got my first check in fourteen years that had a big zero under 'other deductions' (read: child support)! In the divorce decree I was entitled to pay until my last child graduated from high school. Now, while I'm not complaining, I must say that I've suddenly found myself thinking about spending money in a new way. I'm not sure I like that. I have the possibility of retiring in a little more than two years and this money could make it so that I could erase the word 'possibility' and put in it's place 'probability' if I do it right. But what does right look like? There are some strange ironies in it all. Now that I can afford new furniture, the people I would have done it for (my kids) won't be around to enjoy it. All the house-fixings that were back burner can be front burner now. But what for? I know, I know, for me. I'm not big on spending money on me. I grew up in a family that was austere before the world ever heard of the word. I'm not cheap, I'm frugal. And a couple of my brothers would laugh openly if they heard me say that because compared to them I'm wasteful. My point is this: I'm not going to spend more money just because I can. I want to be smart and responsible with it. I realize that its a nice problem to have, but it is, nonetheless, a problem.

Or perhaps it's this: My friends all know because they've heard me say, "I'll start dating more when the kids are all gone".  My friends are good people, but it seems like they're chomping at the bit to set me up with a friend of a friend of a friend. I know they mean well, but I'm not a fan of being set up. I have eyes of my own, and they work just fine. I know a pretty girl when I see one. (If you're a woman and reading this remember that it's very attractive that you be yourself--not what you think we want--authenticity is an aspect of beauty that is not discounted. You needn't be 'all that', you only need to be YOU.)   What's pretty to me might not be pretty to another. I think that's understood. What's not understood, at least by those doing the setting up, is that when you set two people up it's as if you've set up a judge and jury box and the participants are on the clock. I would love it if after being set up on a date as such, the person doing the setting up would simply ask, "did you meet?" and not ask for a verdict. Why is that not enough? What if I thought she was adorable but couldn't get past the fact that her name was Hazel and it always made me laugh when I thought of a TV show in the 60's. What if I thought she was sweet and kind and smart and I might call her again...sometime. Then what? Why can't the set-up be considered like any other gift? You give it in the hope that it is something the person wanted, needed or at least enjoyed for a moment.

Having not written in a long while makes it difficult to know where to begin, but it still seems obvious where to end. And this was that.

Friday, April 06, 2012

While this isn't how I feel today, it was how I felt on at least one particular day. I found this in a little notebook that I write in once in awhile. I'm wondering if I should name this notebook~ 'Not quite country songs'...

Why can't I turn off my brain
and be stupidly, blissfully happy?
Why can't I just drain off the pain
and sing a song all sappy?

The clouds keep rollin' in
The sky keeps not turnin' blue
I can keep on bein' somethin' else
But never somethin' new.

...or maybe I'll just leave it alone. After all, things left alone have a tendency to turn into something else.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Leg Up

I'm not sure how many legs it has, but February is definitely on its last one. I woke this morning to a strange invasion of light through the slats of my mini-blinds. When I finally mustered the wherewithal to drag my self out of bed, I peered through ever so carefully so as to ease the shock on my sleepy eyes, there, to my delight, was a double whammy surprise awaiting my eyes. Not only was the sun clocked in and on shift, but a light blanket--no, more like a throw--of snow had fallen asleep in my grass.

It may be its last leg, but is has enough left in it to go out in style.