Be kind in big ways and small even when it seems a tad difficult. Be present. Listen more, talk less. Close my eyes, turn my face to the sun or the wind or both at the same time and breathe deeply. Spend time on or near the water. Go on long walks with the pups. Drink life in. Be silly and dorky and unafraid to make a fool of myself. We are bombarded with information every day so choose wisely. Life is a matter of perception so remember I can see things in a negative or positive light. Act to change things in ways I feel I can. Meet the world with love and good intentions in my heart instead of fear and anger. Smile at people I know and don’t know. Bridge gaps. Notice a glint of sun. Appreciate the natural world. Think about what it might be like for others. Cuddle the pups often. Laugh and play with the grandkids. Write letters. Tell people I love them. Be honest even when it’s uncomfortable. Share. Recognize joy. Believe in hope. Dance. Cry. Be curious. Give lots of hugs. Accept compliments. Hold my honey’s hand every chance I can.
I walk down the hallway at night
Creaks and wind and chimes filter in
I’m at my in-laws house
There’s sickness here
And a kind of hope for better
… feeling better and being better
They love me
I feel that
I write poems at night when I can’t sleep
I don’t remember them in the morning
After sleep finally comes and washes them away
I think that night work is my best work
But it gets me through the hours
Filled with creaks and wind and stray whining cats outside
There’s something special to this forgetting
As if mysteries were revealed to me
Then taken away again
I know they are there
Just out of reach
But there nonetheless
It’s because of this I forgive myself
Forgiveness for the forgetting
I walk down the hallway at night
~ TJ Parker
Kindness. Hope. Love. Joy.
I’ve been thinking.
Today the sky is blue. It’s cold, but beautiful. The birds are at the feeders. The squirrels are trying to get to the feeders. The dogs are chasing the squirrels. They picked up our garbage and recycling today as per usual. I’m listening to music. We’re about to head to the gym to do some circuit training, then we’ll go grocery shopping. Tonight we’ll make dinner. At some point this afternoon we’ll try to take the dogs for a walk after we put the girlie’s sweater on, she gets cold. We’ll eat dinner and watch some TV or a movie, maybe one we will be picking up at the library as we do our errands today. My honey will work. I’ll do laundry, empty the dishwasher, clean up the media room. We will pet the dogs and cuddle them. We will talk and laugh and smile at each other.
I’ve been thinking.
It’s a great life. We have a great life. It’s nice to remember that.
Lately I’ve been struck by how much our culture has sadly moved to a do as I say not as I do philosophy. If you want to relate it to politics, it’s both sides saying about the other that this or that has been said and it’s terrible, unconscionable, awful, then they turn around and say something equally as terrible, unconscionable, and awful and somehow that’s OK. It’s as if people think they can say, post, write, whatever they want about a person or a thing, but others who might have an opposing opinion have no right or are somehow unamerican if they believe differently, talk about things differently.
One of the things I love about this country is the tapestry. We are different. We think differently about things, our lives, our problems, the solutions to our problems. And just because I may disagree with you, or you with me, doesn’t make either one of us wrong. We just see things differently based on our personal experience. This is where empathy comes in. Or at least it should.
We get so caught up in our own stuff. Our problems, our routines, the daily minutia of our lives. Of course we do. What’s happening for us on a daily basis can be all consuming if we are experiencing something tough in the moment. It can be all consuming just going through a regular day. Laundry and bills and work and dishes and cleaning the house and taking care of the kids and the kid’s schedules and our schedules and health issues and taking care of our pets and on and on. It’s easy to be buried under it. We have blinders on and get caught up in it all so that when we are speaking about something, looking at something and rendering an opinion about it, we tend to do it from our perspective alone. We forget that everyone else is going through the same thing, getting through it in their own way. That’s millions of people and millions of perspectives. Each based on their own philosophy earned from living their life.
So, what does all this rambling mean? What am I trying to get at here?
We need to somehow remember that our opinions aren’t the only opinions. That the views of other people mean something. If nothing else they mean something to them. Honest criticism is good. Honest criticism is necessary. No one individual opinion matters more than another. If you don’t like how I’m doing something, especially if it relates to you, or someone you care about, or a subject that matters to you, you have a right to speak your opinion about it. I would hope you do it respectfully. I would hope you would be genuine and sincere. But I would hope you would say something.
Disagreement is good. Calling someone out for doing something hurtful to others is good. Having a difference of opinion about how to run the government or raise your children or enhance education or clean up the environment is good. It sparks conversation. During conversation ideas are exchanged. When we exchange ideas we come up with more creative solutions, we go at problems from more than one direction. Things actually get done.
First though, we have to get over this silly notion of doing as I say not as I do. Let’s instead do what we say. Let’s expect that if we are critical, others might be critical of us in return. This does not make us unamerican. On the contrary, it’s what makes us an American.
People are good. Inherently good. For the most part.
I believe this. I always have.
We just got done watching the Star Wars films, by the numbers, not in the order in which they were made. Why do I bring this up? Because the whole Darth Vader story is that anyone, if they give in to anger, fear, and hatred, can become dark, can become a force for evil, for negative energy. Conversely, it also teaches us that there is hope, even for people who may be angry and fearful and full of hate. There is good in us all. Some of us may have forgotten it or refused to see it, but there is good.
OK, yes, this is corny. But, it’s true. Maybe not for the Emporer in Star Wars, who was so evil he could not be moved toward good, but even for Darth, there was hope. There was a part of him that was good. I know this is a weird time to bring up a character in a science fiction film, but I believe science fiction is often a good predictor of, and reflection of, where we are going and who we are, or could be. It’s why I love it.
Many people I know want to look on these as dark times. I guess, from a certain perspective, they are. I myself fight against that feeling some days. Yes, they may be challenging. Yes, there may be things happening in the world that don’t jive with a personal point of view, and that’s hard. It may seem dark. It may even seem like there are evil people out there trying to do evil things. Some of that is true. Some of them are indeed the Emporer. But, I truly believe mostly they are just people who don’t do things the way I or possibly you think they should. Does this make them evil? Inherently evil? No. It can make them scary, for sure. It can make them seem dark, absolutely, but they aren’t evil. Most of them anyway.
We need to be open. To remember to act with empathy. To try and see people for who they are, totally, realizing they’ve come from a place of having their own life experiences, instead of as just for what they’ve said or what they believe about a certain thing. We need to ask questions, to listen to the answers to those questions even if they differ from what our answers might be.
People are inherently good. If we start from that place, thinking that way, imagine what we could accomplish. Imagine a world where people gave each other the benefit of the doubt, instead of just doubting. If people acted from a place of understanding instead of fear. From love instead of hate. Darth might become Anakin all over again. What a happy twist to the story that could be.
It’s 2017. I’m happy about it. I kept waiting for it, ready to start anew. Ready for a reboot.
Last year was stressful. Surprising and tense and divisive and nasty. Many good things happened in my life, but I was greatly affected by everything happening in the world, and that stuff, the stuff splashed all over mainstream media, was frequently disheartening and disappointing.
K and I spent the last weeks of 2016 doing daily random acts of kindness. It helped both of us to be more positive. To look at things from a different, and more uplifting, perspective. We vowed, going forward into 2017, we would continue trying to look at the world from the place of kindness. Continue to do random acts as they presented themselves. I think we will. We both believe kindness is key, a necessity.
I was thinking last night about the news, being affected by it, getting upset, etc. After all, it’s still there. Just because we’re in a new year doesn’t mean it all miraculously goes away. I have friends who are so passionate about the state of things they are still posting political stuff on Facebook and Twitter. I get incensed about certain events, just as they do, but I don’t post them. It’s not my way. My way is to post things I believe to be positive, uplifting, and kind. It’s a different way of going at things, which is OK. Mine helps me, theirs helps them I’m sure.
In that vein I started thinking about the effect all of this information has on me. Bombarded with news reports and posts about news reports and political events and health crises and how this thing or that thing is bad for you. It’s easy to get sucked in, to focus on it all, to think that those things have significant value in my life. But honestly, they don’t. Yes, I do care about the world, I am concerned about a lot of it. I am. And K and I will be volunteering for a couple of organizations this year in order to try and step up and do something productive and positive. But if I spend too much time thinking every day about all of it I’m not living right where I am. I forget to look at what’s good in my life, there is a whole lot that’s good. I miss appreciating great sunsets and how beautiful the light is shining through the trees. I am not present.
It’s so easy to be distracted, to look outside my life and focus on what’s wrong with everything. But that would be a disservice to my life, and I definitely wouldn’t be honoring all the magic that exists in my every day. The way to honor my life, to live it fully, to be present in it, is to notice the magic. To soak up the moments. To put my focus on the people and the sunsets and the smiles. To pay attention when I’m having a great conversation, or when one of my grandkids laughs, or when my honey smiles at me a certain way. To honor this beautiful life I have to be responsible for feeling it, being IN it.
So to hell with bad news, crazy politics, and all the negative crap. I can’t change the whole world, I can only do my small part. I will act with grace, or at least try to. I will be present and faithful to this beautiful, amazing, glorious life I’m lucky to be living. That’s where my energy needs to be spent. On walks and dog loves and kisses and hugs and music and beautiful words and great meals with family and laughter with friends and taking photographs and writing and silly and kindness and joy and love.
This is what I will do. That is all.