All Apologies

My dear, your apologies are well written and seem quite thoughtful with the right amount of remorse.

I often wonder when you will ask why I never acknowledge them.

My reasons are two fold

  1. Apologies are acts of contrition in the loosest sense. They serve more to the apologist than the one receiving the apology.
  2. Words are meaningless after, say, the second apology given for the same transgression. I’ll accept an apology when I know that you mean it. Showing me you mean it is never doing the thing that prompted the apology in the first place. One is not truly sorry if they keep doing that thing that hurts or offends.

Words are powerful, yes. They can inspire, demean, inhibit, motivate, thrill, or even kill a person’s spirit.

Actions…now there’s the proof to the pudding! Actions show intent. As that adage goes “Actions speak louder than words.”

Resolving to do the thing your words promise in an apology and really following through; is in fact, the apology.

The Importance of Dating

“Dating” means you’re going on dates. You are actively getting out there and meeting people and spending time with them. “Dating someone” means you’re seeing somebody specific, with purpose and on a regular basis. … You’re spending time with a person (or persons) in hopes of finding a committed relationship.” – Source Zoosk
 
 
So yeah, when you seemed perplexed as to why a married couple would carry on the ritual of dating based your belief that only the latter part of this definition was applicable, I must respond.
 
 
Actively getting out with your spouse is a concerted effort in keeping the relationship fresh and alive. It is an effort to appreciate the company of your partner in a mutually enjoyable activity/outing.
 
 
One could argue “Why bother? You are already committed to one another for life and you live together. You are with each other all the time.”
 
 
I can counter argue, “Do you ever take someone for granted because you are around them all the time? Do they become furniture to you or just a fixture/constant that you forget what fun you have with them when doing things together?”
 
 
A lot of marriages fail due to the couple not taking time out to refresh or revisit the reasons why they committed in the first place.  The relationship gets lost in the daily challenges of life, family, and job commitments. One partner may feel invisible to the other or unappreciated and then a distance forms between them.
 
 
To close that gap, we have to consciously choose to identify that a gap is forming and want to reconnect. What better way to reconnect than to resume dating? Focus on each other in the moment over some romantic lighting, good food, maybe a great show or a walk in the park after a coffee date?
 
 
Yes, initially dating is the act of meeting new people and exploring whether or not they are someone with whom you would like to enter into a committed relationship. That is where the latter part of the above cited definition holds true.  However, one should not become complacent once that commitment is established.
 
 
From my own experience, becoming complacent does cause a distancing, resentment, uncertainty, and ultimately an ambivalence within the relationship. If someone could have tapped me on the shoulder to tell me how important it is to really enjoy the company of my partner and celebrate it every day, when life got in the way; I believe we would have had a jollier time.
 
 
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing more satisfying than a quiet evening in the presence of your partner just quietly being with them where no words, affirmations or physicality are really required to feel total and utter contentment. Those moments are important as well.
 
 
I just want to express the importance of the fact that relationships require attention – just as a garden would require tending to be fruitful.
 
 

Lobbing My Bombs

This morning I woke up knowing that this is my second day into year 52 and it was a Sunday. Scanning through the headlines or propagandist matter that floats through my media feeds, I realized in 52 years I have been leading a life filled with lies and hypocrisies. Some I have known long ago and some I have learned over the years.

I am sad and angry at the same time but you know that.

I think you’ve asked me a couple times indirectly, why I no longer go to church. It’s simple. I don’t believe that my faith in god requires me to present myself to a gathering other others to prove I believe. I go in there and all I can do is look around and see a bunch of poseurs just gracing each other with their presence in their finery and to me, it is purely superficial.

“When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for
they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the
corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most
certainly, I tell you, they have received their reward.” – Matt. 6:5

I believe every action and word is a prayer/offering to god. The omniscient ever present deity sees what is in your heart and all that you do. And although I should not, I do judge those who show up and posture in the churches and on the street corners –shouting/singing the loudest as if they think their volume lofts them closer to their place in heaven.

That’s why I do not go. I invest my time and money in the immediate community regardless of their faith because I believe that is what we are meant to be doing. And I am not looking for recognition for any of it.

This goes to my next bomb. I don’t think people need a pat on the back for every good deed turned.  Being a decent human being is not a show which requires some sort of compensation/reward.  I think that’s why it irks me to see people filming themselves doing good in the world as a sort of self promotion. Dear lord! If you have to be seen doing it otherwise you won’t, then you’re lost far beyond what a map can handle.

I will also stand by my avoidance of all things evangelical. I should not force my opinion on you or anyone else. I can tell you what it is, but I am not going to expect you to believe the same thing. Everyone has a choice to do good or not. It is not up to me or anyone else to coerce others toward a path to be a decent human being. Ultimately, one will face their deeds on their last day.

I will say it has taken a number of years to put aside my vigilante ways. Fighting against those who have done wrong to show them the error in their ways. I felt it was a cause I needed to front. Sometimes I was able to deal the punishment for the crime, but sometimes it backfired on me and I should have taken that as my hint to leave it to their last day as it was not for me to exact the retribution.  I know now it is not up to me.

I know we part ways on the next bomb and that is that I believe a woman has a right to choose how she handles her own body. If she chooses to terminate a pregnancy, prevent it from the onset, remove her reproductive organs, or change her sex completely; it is her choice and not yours or mine. What you do with your body is your business and yours alone and what I do with mine is mine alone. We do not get the right to decide how others should manage their own bodies.

Nor do we have the right to decide who lives or dies. This is ultimately not for us to make. No murder, death penalties, wars are something we should promote or participate.  That said, I do not decide your fate nor you do mine…

BUT….

I do decide my own, as that is my body – my choice. I will not serve to decide if someone gets the death penalty. I will not kill someone in self-defense or in times of war; but if my condition becomes so bad that I will be a burden you or anyone else I will find my way out.

The one other thing that I believe is that the guiltiest of guilty are the most vocal and exaggerating in their piety.

“The lady doth protest too much methinks.”  – Hamlet (Shakespeare)

Being an observer of people — when one overcompensates (too goody goody) or is totally vocally condemning and overly pious, there is a strong chance they are hiding something which is the opposite of their posture.

After all said, I am no saint and I know my fate if everything I have studied is correct. I would rather be a sinner than a hypocrite.

Less Than a Month To Go…

In less than a month, I will hit the milestone year which aligns with my father’s collapse at work and his resulting brain cancer diagnosis.  He did not last a year from that diagnosis. His half-sister, Cindy and his brother, Tony also had the same kind of cancer originally found in my father which caused him to have a kidney removed. Cindy survived. Tony did not.

Last month, my voice had become hoarser with all the speaking I had been doing at work and my neck and sinuses have been inflamed. Each year, a new set of symptoms present themselves and I struggle and carry on; but I often wonder if I won the genetic lottery and I am going to get the same diagnosis as those before me.

He died at age 53. I turn 52 in less than a month and I am finding it hard to enjoy things while I feel less and less like myself. I am not steady on my feet after prolonged sitting. I don’t quite trust myself on trips alone for fear of collapsing one day myself.

I’ve noticed changes as I get closer to 52. There is an odor to me which is unlike the natural scent I have always known. It is strange and putrid. My skin is an off shade. (Don’t get me wrong, I knew it was changing since 1999 when I got paler and paler) Now the pink hue is missing and it is sallow. Really notice it in my lower limbs and my left arm.

And oh how I am tired! I’m not eager to run errands on weekends or nights after work anymore. I’m now having the groceries delivered most weeks and ordering supplies for the house online.

On a good day I take advantage of what I’m given and do as much as I can. The good days are not as frequent as they were a year ago. I am struggling.

You might have wondered why I’m going on about all of this. One reason is the genetic factor of what killed my father and his brother and how to identify the onset should I be the one.

Second and most importantly, each day is one better than the last; and even if I struggle and I am barely hanging in there it’s a gift. I cannot stress this enough: don’t waste a single moment. Enjoy it like a fine meal–savor every second you have.

Each Birthday after this point is a huge milestone and I’m going to appreciate the hell out of the day each year.

Never Have I Ever

Remember when I offered you advice on manners and you considered that advice bullying?

Yeah, well buckle up dear buttercup, because I’m sharing more and take heart– this is not you this time, but the acts of others which are teachable moments:

Never…

  • Tell someone the price of a gift you have given them.
  • Pick a fight over politics at someone’s mother’s wake.
  • Crash or tag along to an event if you’re not specifically invited.
  • Express disdain over the food served to you at a dinner party which you do not like.
  • Express ingratitude when given a gift you do not like.
  • Be unkind to someone struggling.
  • Ignore the request to RSVP to an event.
  • Be late to an appointment.
  • Keep someone waiting for a handwritten thank you or an expression of gratitude when you’ve been given a gift or assistance.
  • Act put out if someone asks you for help.
  • Avoid apologizing if you have clearly wronged someone.
  • Never throw someone under the bus to advance yourself in earning esteem.
  • Expect recognition, material compensation or tips for good deeds done

These seem obvious but, in case I am not around let this tidy list of etiquette be a handy guide to living better.

On Fearing the End

My mother tearfully told my sister she knows she is dying and she feels that it’s too soon and she doesn’t want to leave us.

I agree, it is too soon. But unless someone comes up with a miracle cure for dementia with Lewey Bodies, it is what it is.

I feel as though she is being given a powerful lesson on the gift of life. It is not to be wasted. I can only feel extreme sorrow for her situation.

As I read the Qu’ran this year as part of my annual reading challenge; I’ve come to understand that this is as prescribed for her. It states that we will all come to know the hour of our death when it is time. And God will reveal our destiny based on our deeds.

I’m eager to give her some comfort in knowing that her destiny lies ahead after her death and all of this suffering, the blindness, her hallucinations, her inability to find balance while mobile, her loss of memory are part of this journey and will be nothing but a relief when the end arrives.

Logically, it is something on which to look forward. Shedding this suffering for peace. Joining those who’ve departed before her.

Personally, I’m now looking forward to being able to shed my attachment to this material existence just after reading what I have so far from this book which offers so much comfort and something more concrete than the holy texts before it.

The problem I have is that now that she’s in a nursing home I cannot find the pocket of time to convey what I feel might bring her comfort and hope. Being so far away makes it difficult because when I can call, no one picks up or she is asleep.

So I’ve chosen to send flowers with messages of comfort every month with the hope that these messages will be read to her and bring her some peace.

I wish that someone could visit with here in a therapeutic capacity to help her process her feelings. Ease her fears and help her cope. I trusted that my sister would arrange for that level of care but she also is in need of assistance to process what is happening and cope with the stresses of this situation.

I pray that my sister finds the strength to ask for help instead of believing she must go at this alone.

Why I Study Religion

As a child, I had a series of recurring nightmares which began always in a similar manner. I could feel myself sinking in a tunneled blackness and I knew it was about to begin. The vision of this man whose face was splitting apart endlessly. He smiles as it happens; but it was so horrifying to me as a youngster. It seemed like he was right there in my room.

I would scream and scream and my Mom would rush in; turn on the light and he would be gone. As soon as the light went out, he would reappear and his face would continue to peel open revealing face after face. Smiling at me.

This occurred night after night. Quite a stressor for a 5 year old.

At some point my mother convinced me that he was not real and the dreams discontinued toward other recurring dreams fueled by the normal stressors most go through. Teeth falling out, falling from some endless height, the deaf and blind girl being mowed down by rolling logs in the darkness…The usual.

I didn’t really connect the first dream to anything spiritual until now. You see, I follow the work of Takashi Murakami on Instagram and he was doing a tribute to the statue of Hoshi Washo and I immediately recognized the statue as the figure in those recurring dreams of my youth.

It is so strange that it has come up now. But I think it is part of my quest.

When I was born, my parents had me baptized in the Roman Catholic tradition. Although, I was not immediately raised in that faith. We hopped from church to church. Unitarian, Lutheran and some neighbors who were Southern Baptists were adamant, that I needed to be “saved” and I was baptized in a backyard service in their peanut shaped above ground pool.

By third grade, my mother decided that the public school’s open classroom curriculum was doing no service to my attention deficit tendencies so I was enrolled in a private Catholic school. From there, I learned more about the Roman Catholic faith from grades 3-12.

During my last year in high school, I had a comparative religions course for one semester where we were tasked with attending services and reading texts of other faiths to compare and contrast with Catholicism. I chose to read ‘The Prophet’ by Khalil Gibran and my foundation of understanding was blown apart.  In a very good way.

I became fascinated by world beliefs from that point.

I chose to attend a private Presbyterian College after high school which had a diverse international student body. Exposing me to a variety of cultures and belief systems.

By far, my best decision in life was attending that college.

While visiting family on a holiday break my freshman year, I had another dream experience where I was in the blackness and in the distance a man in robes was approaching me. I knew in that moment I was meeting who I believed to be Jesus and I figured it was my time. I begged, pleaded and bargained for extra time to make more out of this life if I was given the time. He nodded and walked away and I awoke with a start.

In the back of my mind I have always believed that there is one God, one life creating force which ties us together. Every living thing — great and small.

It breaks my heart to hear the single minded, speak in the manner that they do about how their faith is the true faith and everyone else is wrong.

I simply cannot accept that.

What I can believe is that we were given a message from a variety of prophets all over the world and how we interpreted it over the centuries is what fractioned us unto the various believers we are today.

I love Paul Thorn’s song regarding faith, “You Might Be Wrong” (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IFRM4oJwLdc
) which is why I continue to study.

Every year, I make it a point on my annual reading challenge to find books which explore and explain faiths of various cultures.

In my journey through this beautiful life, I have met people who are the closest to the ideal of what it is to be the embodiment of God’s message and not every one of them are of one particular faith. I’m in awe of them.

Some much closer than others. Because of that, I feel more certain that all who walk this earth are bound by one.

Now, I must reveal who Hoshi Washo represents and why now I should have not feared this face peeling spectre of my dreams.

This statue shows/represents the moment a monk reaches enlightenment. More specifically, in Japan, this is commonly referred to as the incarnation of Kannon (aka Guanyin aka Avalokitesvara). Kannon, as the stories tell, was actually a monk before he achieved enlightenment and became a Buddha.

So, I believe that I was being shown my path or rather, my purpose.

No, not to become a Buddha; but to pursue enlightenment. I think we are all called to be better versions of our prior selves and the peeling I witnessed was the act of discarding my old ways for better ways.

Heavy, no? I’m choosing to believe my course is to truth and I will forever be a student of faith and self actualization.