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Imagine Apologizing

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I have this fantasy about my old boyfriend – the guy I dated just before I got sucked into the cocaine-infused, alcohol-drenched political whirlwind of Washington, D.C. We are in the dairy aisle at the grocery store, surrounded by toxic-tinted green and orange Jell-o and stacks of bright yellow butter boxes.

Don’t worry. It’s not one of those butter and Jell-o fantasies. I wouldn’t share it, if it were.

No. We’re just standing there, leaning our elbows on our shopping carts.

I say, “Do you have a minute?”

He says somewhat dubiously, “Yes.”

Then I apologize for being such a bitch back in the day. I’ve had this fantasy for twenty-five years. A quarter of a century.

This meeting happens in reality every year or so – not the apology part, just the part where we run into each other at the community grocery coop – we live in the same town. We’ve met amidst the Jell-0, but more often by the cat food. We exchange pleasantries, and he tells me about his kids.

I always feel like there’s this huge chasm of unspokenness between us, but I never place any meaningful words into it. He asks how many cats I have now. I say “two.”

Every time I see him I think say it, just say it, but I never do.

The Question

This fellow and I were an item for two or three years back in college. I was very fond of him – nicest guy you would ever want to meet. I was a bit older and more experienced than he was and spent considerable time trying to untie his mother’s apron strings.

After a while the challenge wore off, and I was bored. No drama, no tears, no excitement. Just a quiet, stable relationship. We read a lot, played Scrabble.

I graduated and made my way into the big world while he continued his studies to become a librarian archivist (a perfect job for him). I went to work on Capitol Hill and met congressmen and senators and hung out with heavy-drinking lobbyists and attended oh-so-important press conferences and oh-so-sophisticated political fundraisers.

Then he became even more boring.

About this time, he asked me to marry him. I panicked and pretended he was joking. I laughed uproariously, and then he laughed. And then I had a decision to make because the question still hung in our mirthless laughter.

Hanging

The Decision

“Think I should marry him, Mom?”

“He’s a very nice boy, Melanie, always sacrificing himself for other people. He is the kind of person who would bring his aging parents to live with him. I’m not sure you would be happy with that,” Mom said.

She knew her daughter, and she knew what she was talking about. Mom had sacrificed much of her freedom when my grandmother moved in with her.

I asked my roommate, an old high school friend. He put it more bluntly. “You would be bored, Mel.”

They were right. I dumped my boyfriend unceremoniously. The guy was just too “good” for me, in the truest sense of the word. I had a lot of partying to do and a lot of ego to feed, and he did not fit into my plans.

Regrets

I don’t have many big regrets in my life. But the way I treated him is at the top of my list.

By regret, I don’t mean I feel I should have married him.

God, no; I would have made him miserable. I had so much screwing up to do before I opted for sanity.

God has been gracious in the intervening years, allowing me all the rope I needed to hang myself. Dangling there at the end of my rope, I learned something about humility. All the screwing up, every bad choice, has helped me to grow up and see myself more clearly.

Problem is, when you begin to see more clearly, you can’t help but notice the wreckage you’ve left in your wake. That college relationship — which had I been kind, might have been a pleasant memory — is a mangled mass of shame, guilt, and regret.

Freedom in the Ho-Hos

Still, I could never bring myself to say those simple words.

Until last night.

We met in the Obesity Aisle next to the Hostess products, and the cloying smell of yellow plastic icing with hard white swirls was almost overpowering. We smiled as we rattled our carts towards each other.

I didn’t think about it. My heart wasn’t racing, and there weren’t words crashing into each other in my head. I just said:

“Do you have a minute?”

He nodded, looking curious but also as if he wanted to bolt.

“I treated you like shit many moons ago, and I just wanted you to know I’m sorry. It’s one of the biggest regrets of my life, the way I treated you in all my dysfunction. I was a mess, and I’m sorry.”

“Well,” he stammered, “I don’t even remember it like that. But we were all a mess.”

“Yes, and I wanted you to be more of a mess than you were. Thank you for being kind to me.”

Then he started talking about his kids, and how one of them was “having issues.”

And it was over. I had done it.

In my fantasies, I never even considered the “after” part.

I don’t know how he felt. But I felt immediately – immediately – lighter, as if I had dumped several shopping carts full of shame back by the Ho-Hos and cupcakes.

I can’t believe it took me so long.

So there you have it. A simple story; no big deal.

But if you’re carrying any of that shame crap around, you know that it is a big deal. I hope you’ll learn from my experience and make amends.

Read more about shame crap here

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Musical Spirit

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I chose the clarinet as my instrument in fifth grade because I wanted to be like my big sister Lannie. I remembered that she had played the clarinet. Only she didn’t. She had played the autoharp, which, being black and white, I mistook for a clarinet. Lannie was in college by then, anyway, and I doubt she was impressed.

Clarinet with a Boehm System.

Not an autoharp (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Autoharp

Musical Heritage

My mother was a lead soprano in college and wanted to sing professionally. Her mother wouldn’t allow it, because no daughter of hers was going to be a show girl. Maybe that was why Mom stopped singing, or maybe it was because she married my father and had us kids instead. She always loved music, though. She sang when she cooked, and she sang when she cleaned. She hummed when she mended our clothes. She would put on classical albums, and we would dance around our big Florida room.

Tickling the Ivories & Guzzling the Strawberry Hill

I started playing the piano to make my mother happy and in the hopes that my father would like it and stop drinking so much. I loved playing the piano, but wasn’t especially good at it. Still, I was better at that than at the clarinet. I didn’t much like playing the clarinet, even though Mom said that maybe one day I might march in the inaugural parade. I couldn’t bear to be seen in the high school marching band uniform, though, so I stopped playing when I was fifteen. Besides, I discovered boys and Boones Farm Strawberry Hill wine, which were way more interesting than band class.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Like a Rolling Stone

I sang in our church choir, too, and the leader was impressed with my voice. She called my mother in one afternoon to listen to me sing. She said I could hit a high B flat. Whatever that meant. I liked singing. But I also liked the boys and the wine, and I started smoking cigarettes to complete my image. I quit the choir. I quit the piano.

Led Zeppelin, Grateful Dead, Traffic, Steppenwolf. Drugs. Sex. You know, life in the seventies.

I got a guitar for Christmas when I was sixteen or seventeen, but never learned to play much more than Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone. I gave it to a long-ago boyfriend, I think, a guy I used to accompany to the bars where he played for tips.

My mother ended up getting dementia and accidentally sold our very valuable piano to some workman for a couple hundred bucks. It was the only thing I had ever told her I wanted after she was gone.

Oh well. Life, again. And death.

The Spirit Plays On

A few years ago, I got a used piano from my dear friend Brian – my former pastor, fellow environmental justice agitator, and a fine musician. The piano has a spirit all its own. My fingers also have a memory all their own. Although I struggle to read music – it’s been so long – my fingers recall the classical music I used to play for Mom and Dad. It’s miraculous, I think, as if there is this music running through my veins that I’m not even aware of.

New Year’s Eve, my buddy Lucky gave me his old, well-loved guitar. Guitar great Leo Kottke played it when he and Lucky were in the Navy together, about the time I discovered boys and Boones Farm. I’m going to get it re-stringed and maybe take some lessons.

It’s time to re-acquaint myself with making music. Not to emulate my cool big sister, and not because I want someone to pay attention or to love me. But because I have music in my genes, and it’s in my heart, and it makes my spirit whole.

 guitar 001

I wrote this post in response to the Daily Prompt Challenge. Thanks, WordPress, for the question:

What role does music play in your life?

Extremism in Defense of the Planet

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“The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. The Nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”

I might have agreed with Dr. King’s statement when I was a teenager during the Vietnam War, but it’s nothing that would have been ascribed to me as an adult.

Martin Luther King leaning on a lectern. Deuts...

Dr. King

Like many people, I have been taught to be wary of extremists. Stick to the center, stray neither to the right nor to the left, and you won’t get yourself in trouble. People won’t respect you if you stray from the comfortable middle. You won’t be listened to.

Unless you are an athlete or an energy drink, you don’t want to be viewed as extreme.

When I worked in environmental messaging and communications on Capitol Hill, we learned that the best way to side-line someone was to label them as an extremist. “Out of step” is a good phrase. Likewise, industry PR reps labeled all environmentalists as extremists — “elitist tree-huggers who want everyone to freeze in the dark.” We tried hard to represent ourselves as mainstream. Just a bunch of soccer Moms over here…what, you think I hug trees or something?? (I do, get over it.)

I’ve noticed that right-wing commentators are even calling the National Rifle Association “extreme” and “out of step” these days. Curiouser and curiouser.

In Praise of Imbalance

Last night in my spiritual book group, we got to talking about whether or not we can really make a difference in the world. Should we focus on our inner growth, become the best humans we can be, and trust that this will make the world a healthier place? Is it better to march in demonstrations and wave signs? Do you have to go to Africa and build an orphanage? Or is it the simpler things that count, like working at a soup kitchen or helping with Habitat for Humanity?

“Balance,” several intoned, followed by much nodding.

This may true for individuals; I’m not sure. But I am sure that balance doesn’t help a society or a world that is badly in need of change. Balance doesn’t lead to change, it maintains the status quo. In order to move from the status quo, you’ve got to have people out on the edges tipping the scales. The type of people who go on hunger strikes, who march in the streets, who refuse to sit in the back of the bus.

The comfortable people in the middle won’t like these troublemakers on the edge; they knock things off kilter. They will label them:

Extremists.

Getting Out of Step

I’m headed for the edge. I’ve changed my mind about extremists — I’m with Dr. King.

Look where “the norm” has gotten us. If enough people don’t get “out of step” pretty damn quickly, our planet is in big trouble. It’s not enough to just vote anymore.

Hand holding a world on fire

The oil and gas industry has more money than God, and they are willing to spend whatever it takes to stop action on climate change. It is up to “we, the people” to make this change.

Even my former employer, the well-respected but slightly stodgy 120-year-old Sierra Club, has just announced that it will engage in civil disobedience because the time is so short and the stakes are so high.

Creative Extremism

I think that when Dr. King talked about “creative extremism,” he might have been talking about the kind of extremist that creates new things, builds towards a new vision, rather than simply deconstructing and criticizing.

It seems we finally have a leader willing to lead towards that kind of vision. In case you missed President Obama’s inaugural speech on Monday, he spent more time talking about climate change than any other issue:

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”

“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”

THANK GOD!

There’s going to be a huge climate rally in D.C. on February 17th. I’m going to make some signs and go act like an extremist. Will you join me?

Find out more about it here.

You can also make calls to help turn out other extremists — ahem, activists.

And check out this video:

America’s Suicidal Personality Disorder(s)

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“Your son and daughter are going to die in a car crash!” The short, red-faced man is poking his finger at me and standing way too close for comfort. This might feel like super-bad mojo if I had kids. It still feels a little crazy, as so many things do these days.

I had just left the grocery store and made a friendly comment to an older fellow on the sidewalk. “I love your overalls – you don’t see enough of them anymore.” He smiled, his chubby cheeks rounding. “Very practical,” he said.

From behind me, a voice said, “Pretty soon we’re all going to be dressed the same.”

“Excuse me?” I turned to see Short-Angry man hurrying to catch up to me.

“Yeah, in drab, gray jumpsuits like the Russians when the Communists took over.”

(I think he was talking about the Chinese, but hey, what’s the difference?)

I hope Obama still lets us wear heels!

“Oh,” I said, now understanding what I was dealing with. “I don’t see any indication of that. Now excuse me while I go get in my car over here with the Obama sticker.”

Short-Angry followed me to my car. “You know, he wants cars to get 50 miles-to-the-gallon!”

“Yeah, wouldn’t that be awesome?” I said. “We would get a lot more gas for our money.” I didn’t mention climate change or air pollution, not wanting to have to physically defend myself.

This is when he cursed my non-existent children. “Your son and daughter are going to die in a car crash! The cars will be made out of all light shit, and we’re all going to die!” This might not have been his words exactly, but I caught the gist and exclamation points as I closed and locked my car door.

I might have just chalked this up to some sort of mental imbalance, impulse control, whatever, except that I’ve been hearing and seeing so much of it lately.

It seems America has a raging personality disorder.

 

 

Diagnosing the Patient

I used to think it was pure Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Some of the characteristics used to identify NPD are vanity, conceit, extreme self-centeredness, arrogance, bravado, entitlement, grandiosity, and self-righteousness. In the extreme, this can result in exploitation of others, manipulation, isolation, and rage.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my country, but I do see signs of this disorder from time to time. It can be more or less apparent depending on who is president, but there’s a poisonous streak of it in our DNA, I think.

Poisonous Pride

Lately, I’ve come to believe that our diagnosis is more complicated. There’s a touch of Borderline Personality Disorder, surely. Swinging from one extreme to the other every election cycle, blaming others for our ills, and believing that our version of reality is the only possibility and anyone who doesn’t agree is evil or delusional. And worthy of a few drone attacks, or maybe going to Hell.

These days, there is a strong streak of Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as multiple personalities. Red state, blue state. The media feeds this – journalists are taught to look for conflict, not harmony. “The People,” though, are sick of it — even as we often engage in it ourselves. My finger is pointed at myself, here.

Suicidal Nation – Guns & Climate

Sadly, this combination of chronic disorders becomes seriously acute when gun control or climate change gets mentioned. This has literal life and death consequences.  We can’t get our fingers out of our ears and stop yelling, “Nyah, nyah” at each other long enough to stop our own suicide.

I don’t believe in climate change. What school shootings?

I’ve ranted on climate change in this space before. Today’s irrational, reality-denying, suicidal issue is gun control.

Setting aside the National Rifle Association going completely over the sanity cliff and the conspiracy theorists who say that Sandy Hook was a hoax, here is an authentic recent offering from a “Friend” of mine on Facebook:

“I’m talking about our government dictating what our rights are, taking them from us when the constitution guarantees them for us. Spouting it’s for our own good. Ok. Then… Outlaw cigarettes. They are cancer causing and addictive (and I don’t smoke so others shouldn’t either) No reason for them. Outlaw alcohol. This would eliminate drunk driving and related health issues (or did they try that already). Outlaw fast food. Causes obesity and no reason go it [sic] (I don’t eat it so I don’t care about it). Outlaw muscle cars and sports cars. They are designed to go faster then the national speed limit and have no place on the road. And since I don’t own a corvette or any other car like that then others shouldn’t either. Outlaw them all !!! I want the government to step in and regulate our lives, tell us where to go, what to eat, control what TV we watch and take that and the Internet also (yes, other countries control all of that). There is a huge band wagon out there which has spun as politically correct which everybody is jumping on… You better hope your [sic] right, and I want to see how every body [sic] who does jump on it reacts when the government we have strips you all of something you believe in… Let’s take religion. If the government feels like it wants to control how we pray, or if we can, or to who! How would you feel. It’s in the construction [constitution], but hey, that can be changed apparently. And Obama is stating he can step over the congress to do so with out giving them a say in the matter. Don’t think that could happen? It’s happening right now on another issue that you don’t care about. Wait till it happens to one you do. It may be to [sic] late by then…”                                                               

How is that anything but certifiable paranoia? He forgot the part about all of us dressed in “drab, gray jumpsuits;” otherwise, he’s done a good job of channeling the red state psyche. (In southern Virginia the other day, I saw an “O’Vomit” bumpersticker. Har, har, har.)

I don’t believe my response to his rant was paranoid, but I will own up to being passive-aggressive. For my “gun-toting friends,” I posted this:

Another friend pointed out that “gun-toting” might not have been the most constructive term. I meant it as tongue-in-cheek, similar to the way they call me a “tree hugger,” but OK, I’ll try to behave.

Anyway, I’m willing to lay down my sarcastic, passive-aggressive behavior and take my fingers out of my ears if the people in the red states would be willing to admit that maybe, just maybe,

WE SHOULD NOT HAVE FREAKIN’ MACHINE GUNS IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS!!!

That’s my humble opinion. What’s yours?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination on the Porch

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I am not supposed to be blogging during this weekend writer’s retreat in the hills of Virginia.

The Porches Writing Retreat

The Porches
Writing Retreat

Seeking Focus and Illumination

I won’t say that blogging is not “real” writing, because I do not want to be drawn and quartered. But for me, personally, blogging is a different kind of writing. I do not spend time in mental and emotional preparation; I do not write and rewrite and revise and fuss. Blogging is more like journaling with (it is to be hoped) less navel-gazing. I don’t have to make myself sit down and focus on it – I have to drag myself away from it.

This weekend I’m to be focused on my “real” writing.

This weekend is about illumination. Finding my truth through the fog of everyday life.

Through the Fog

Through the Fog

So when I saw the Weekly Photo Challenge was Illumination, well, I just had to tap out a few words.

This morning I was up before dawn, sitting on the porch drinking black tea and watching the light break through the mist.

Sunrise at The Porches

Sunrise on the Porch

Illumination

Illumination

My friends and I arrived at The Porches last night and sequestered ourselves for several writing hours before coming back together in the kitchen to share a supper of soup and salad. We read some of our writing aloud, about Sylvia Plath, a guy masturbating in a movie theater, and the magic of a perfect sentence.

But I’m not supposed to be writing all this. Focus, Mel. I just wanted to share my photos and a bit of illumination that I had this morning.

Divine Dissatisfaction

I wrote once about a bittersweet elemental longing I find is brought on by the calls of migrating geese and migrating trains. This morning, I found this wonderful phrase that describes it:

Divine Dissatisfaction — don’t you love it?

Here is the full quote, which actually has nothing to do with geese or trains. It is included in the welcome packet at The Porches:

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and (will) be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” 

Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille

Sitting on the porch, I pondered the idea of divine dissatisfaction and gazed at the brightening horizon. I heard a flock of geese approaching, their melancholy yet hopeful calls reaching me through the fog. In the distance, I could hear a train approaching, leaving behind and going towards.

And I must get to writing! May you be illuminated!

Chapel in the Fog

Chapel in the Fog

How Do You Measure Success?

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What does success look like to you? Is it a “bitch-goddess” that causes “moral flabbiness,” as philosopher William James once told H.G. Wells? Success is often just another word for wealth, and it’s this “squalid interpretation” that led James to call success “our national disease” over 100 years ago. Certainly Mr. James would declare it a terminal case if he knew the Supreme Court had blessed the notion of corporations being people. Wealth at any cost — is that success?

In Cash We Trust

At least I’m in no danger of achieving that sort of success. Compared to people I’ve met in Central America and Africa, yes, I’m outrageously wealthy. But in the U.S., going from nonprofit environmental work to freelance writing to (potentially) a teaching position pretty much ensures my “failure” in this area.

Dying to be Successful

To some, success means getting other people to do what they want. That might mean voting a certain way – a successful NRA lobbyist. Or buying a certain product – a successful firearms ad campaign. Those outcomes also involve cash, either directly or indirectly. Many firearms dealers give cash to the NRA, and the NRA gives cash to members of Congress to get them to do what they want. “Morally flabby” success, indeed.

What about Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi? In a sense, they got people to do what they wanted – a Civil Rights Act and an India freed from Britain. But they got murdered in the process. I guess that was successful. There’s no “moral flabbiness” in a martyr’s success, but it’s not something I hope to emulate.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civ...

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, look on. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and ...

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
Credit: Wikipedia

Was Jesus successful, also murdered for his beliefs? The story of his resurrection started a major world religion over two billion strong; but that isn’t what he came to do. He came to give individuals the power to change and to be transformed into the free, fully loving, healthy people they were created to be.  I can’t help but wonder how successful that’s looking from a cosmic perspective.

Adam

Transformative Success

I believe this is an ongoing story, that there is hope for all of us. While success is usually associated with outcomes, I’m thinking it has more to do with trusting the process and doing what we are all called to do each day to grow into our best selves.

This unfolding story of spiritual growth and transformation comes closest to my personal definition of success: becoming who I was meant to be, not giving in to the fear of being judged by others, letting go of my need to control outcomes, and reaching for the stars.

I have to believe that there is even hope for the “Christian leaders” who sputter through their TV make-up, judging others, pretending to be what they are not, and using fear tactics to prevent people from reaching their own glorious stars.

Reaching Our Potential

In 2013, I’ll measure success by how much freedom I give myself to become me, neither compelled by others nor trapped by my own crap.

Speaking of which: I enjoyed these ruminations from author Gregg Levoy on getting beyond our crap and reaching our full potential —

“It makes perfect sense that we should be called to go beyond our limits, because the One that calls us is beyond all limits.

I suspect that all the energy we have bound up in resisting our own potential is more energy than we’ll need to reach it. It takes as much energy to fail as it does to succeed.

The strategies are legion:

  • Hiding behind the tasks of discernment. By analyzing a call to death and picking apart all its varying implications and by poring over calculations that would put an actuary into a coma, we lose all the heat from the heart through the head, as if we had been in the bitter cold without a hat.
  • Waiting for the Perfect Moment. Waiting for just the right combination of time, money, energy, education, freedom and the ideal alignment of the planets….
  • Telling ourselves lies. For instance, “I can’t afford it….” [when] the truth was, “I won’t afford it.” I won’t reprioritize my life, won’t make sacrifices….
  • Choosing a path parallel to the one we feel called to. One that’s close enough to keep an eye on it but not so close we’re tempted to jump tracks. We become an art critic rather than an artist, a school teacher rather than a parent, a reporter rather than a novelist.
  • Attempting to replace one calling with another. Because we don’t like it, our parents don’t like it, it doesn’t earn enough money or prestige.
  • Immediately turning a call into a Big Project. Thereby intimidating ourselves into paralysis.
  • Self-sabotage. We feel called to go to art or medical school but are so afraid of finding out we don’t have what it takes that we “forget” to mail the application until after its deadline has passed.
  • Distracting ourselves with other activities. We suddenly become inspired to finish old projects we haven’t thought about in ages.
  • Playing “sour grapes.” We believe we won’t succeed … or will suffer unduly, so we try to convince ourselves we don’t want it anyway.
  • Trying to make ourselves unworthy of a calling. Hoping that God will decide we’re not the person for the job and take it back.

The degree of resistance is probably proportionate to the amount of power waiting to be unleashed and the satisfaction to be experienced once the “no” breaks through to “yes” and the call is followed.”

Source: Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life

Reach for the Stars

What does success mean to you?

What stars are you reaching for?

If you aren’t reaching, what’s holding you back?

Connecting to “The Other” — A Daily Prompt

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“The happiest life has the greatest number of points of contact with the world, and it has the deepest feeling and sympathy with everything that is,” according to the father of modern horticulture. I have to share that with you, because I was told to do so.

The WordPress Daily Prompt asks:  “Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?”

Daily Prompt: Quote Me | The Daily Post.

DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO

I have mixed feelings about the WordPress Daily Prompts:

  • I don’t need new ideas to write about — my problem is that everything in the universe prompts me to write, and I have to pull myself away from the computer. I have enough I’d like to share without some amorphous power in the cloud-sky giving me suggestions.
  • This makes clear another issue I have with the Daily Prompts : I am not a fan of authority figures, and YOU CAN”T TELL ME WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT! I know this is my baggage, but there you have it.
  • I also don’t like following a crowd; I fancy myself a one-of-a-kind blogger, which is, of course, ridiculous. Not only that, but I also have a great need to belong that is diametrically opposed to what I just said about not being part of a crowd of Daily Prompt writers.

Anyway, enough of my stuff spilling out onto the page. I do love that quote from Liberty Hyde Bailey, so I thought I’d share.

Liberty Hyde Bailey
Photo: Wikipedia

PLANTS, HUMANS AND OTHER ANIMALS

“The happiest life has the greatest number of points of contact with the world, and it has the deepest feeling and sympathy with everything that is.”

I believe this to be absolutely true. Although the deep feeling and sympathy can sometimes lead to grief, I do not believe that this conflicts with happiness. Because grief and compassion make us more fully human, I think that it ultimately results in a deeper, more genuine happiness — joy.

It’s fabulous that a horticulturalist said this. I imagine he was talking, at least in part, about plants. Still, his sentiments have caused me to murder more plants because they drove my decision to become a vegetarian. I want to walk gently on the earth, and cause as little pain and suffering as I possibly can, beginning with sentient beings. (Sorry, zucchini.)

I once believed that I had “too many” friends because I was too busy. But God kept putting new people in my life that I found fascinating, beautiful, comforting, or fun. I once went on a retreat with a bunch of other people in their 30s and 40s, and one woman said to me, “Let’s pretend we’re Buddhist nuns, OK?” I mean, how could you NOT want to be friends with that person?

File:Taiwanese Buddhist Nun Black Robes.jpeg

Buddhist Nun
Photo: Creative Commons

I now realize that my particular personality is created to have a great number of points of contact. It is how I connect with the many aspects of the Divine. What a wonderful, diverse world we live in! I have had the incredible joy of swimming with dolphins and sea turtles, harvesting spring asparagus and peas, debating spiritual truths in my book group, and being deeply in love with a musician, a historian, and a woodworker. Seriously – I am uber-blessed and intend to keep experiencing as much of life as God cares to show me. I just pray that my eyes and my heart will remain open.

MAKING PEACE

Because I have signed on to be a Blogger for Peace, I will warn you that these points of contact complicate life immensely. Not only could you find yourself eschewing veal or factory-bred chicken, you might have to start paying attention to what your government is doing. For instance:

  • How do we choose between killing Palestinian children and Israeli children? Do we just adopt policies and produce weapons that will kill both, to even things out?
  • U.S. drones are murdering countless innocent children without Americans risking as much as the finger that pressed the launch button. How un-connected can one be? What percentage of your tax money goes towards building drones?
  • Abortion: wherever you are, has it occurred to you that the people on “the other side” care deeply about the life and well-being of others? Could you imagine really listening to them, instead of judging and condemning them?

~I wish you joy, peace, and connection in 2013~

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