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Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Good in the Bad

There are no "good guys", there are no "bad guys", and that's with a special shout out to Dave Mason's song, "We Just Disagree".  For many reasons, as a society we have a penchant for labeling people and situations as good or bad.  How many times in the last 24 hours have you found a way to demonize or Anglicize another person or event?  I have a particular fondness for giving the bitch eye to parents who allow their children to run amok in the grocery store and thinking unkind thoughts about people who leave their pets at animal control.  When one of my friends laments the status of her relationship with her in-laws, I picture the adopted relatives wreaking havoc without any concern at all for my gal pal's peace of mind.
But truly, one person, one thought, one idea, one position, is neither all good or all bad.  The split pea soup of life is a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  The reason lawyers have job security is because we can't see another person's position or perspective.  This last word is important.  Perspective is in the eye of the beholder.  We each of us comes from a collection of people, places and things.  Some of us grew up rich and others poor; there are those of us who faced discrimination and numbers who have experienced great pain and abuse.  I must also mention the select few of our masses who have lived a life of relative ease and comfort, which seems not to exist in the current media darkness, but I have met them and mostly they try not to brag when others are going through tough times.  One person's hodge-podge existence cannot match another and those events and their differences are what create our uniqueness and our disagreements.
Everyone fights, it's not the fight that counts, it is what you do after the fight that is important.  This is true in families, between best friends and after a nasty election.  Letting go of the need to be right takes herculean effort, I know this because I have been viewed by some, to hang onto a position until blood is drawn on both sides.  Why have I decided to give up my sword for a more "neutral" position?  Because I am so damn tired of the ugliness of prolonged war.
Honestly, it has taken spiritual and emotional exhaustion to get to this place of seeing beyond the right and wrong of it all.  Life just isn't simply black and white; there are colors and nuance, enormous wit, pain and beauty.  The astonishing odyssey is endless and vast.  To merely state that something is either good or bad is to diminish all that IS.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Change Your Life, Change Your Pants

Photo by Dakota

I’m not sure who told me the biggest lie first; perhaps it was my parents or other relative, it may have even been a teacher. The enormous lie, the grand-daddy of all untruths is that a good life is a “happy” life. The translation is that if all is well i.e., you are free of emotional jack hammers whacking at your psyche, have zero confrontations or struggles, you will be happy. This smooth sailing idea permeates and controls how one feels about change.

Shockingly I will state that change is good. Change is exhausting, frightening, ugly and grossly painful, but change means movement triumphs over stagnation. Ever smell a week old bag of garbage? That is stagnation. Emotional and spiritual stagnation stinks just as bad, but the fumes are deep inside a movement-less soul gumming up the works.

I am a pot stirrer. That means that when everything gets sloggy I show up with a big spoon and start scraping at the bottom of a pot of crap, looking for clues as to what has slowed down the process. As a child I would have been described by others as Chicken Little, screaming at the top of my lungs, “The sky IS falling”! In my case, unlike the poor fowl from the story, the sky was rolling around in the dirt and I was the only one willing to point at the disturbance. Being the only one to notice did not make me popular, in fact, it caused me to be ostracized. I shouted and shouted, pointing and hoping, until one day I couldn’t stand being on the outside looking in where everyone else seemed “content”. I stopped shouting, I stopped pointing, I stopped hoping that someone would look and I started burying the facts.

On the surface this meant that Christmas dinner went off without a hitch and I moved onto sharing a life with a husband and children, but inside it meant that a putrid stew was bubbling away on the stove, occasionally letting a bit of steam off to ooze to the surface in the form of bursts of anger and depression. This could very easily have been the story until I died without ever finding a voice to speak the truth. EEEK! Just writing that last bit scares the heck out of me. What if I had never heard “The Voice” all those years ago? What if I had never brazenly said, “Bring it on Universe. Break open my heart chakra? What if???

I see the faces of the unspoken in the pharmacy and slogging down the street with the weight of the words wrapped around their throats; that’s “what if” looks like. A human being trapped in a part of a stream that has been log jammed by debris is stagnant. The fear of what someone may say or do in response to a confrontation with the truth can be paralyzing. They may not love me or speak to me again. I may be alone.

For me, the debris in my stream was choking me to death. The artist in me, the new born baby excited to be born, the inner beauty of my soul was dying and I had no other choice but to find a new way to survive. I spoke the truth to live.

Speaking the truth is one big huge punch in the gut. Truth in the midst of a well orchestrated fallacy is rather like a nuclear bomb in a confined space. The initial explosion obliterates the immediate area and then the energy ripples out in tsunami waves pounding at anyone in the vicinity. Yep, it can get pretty horrifying. Blood and snot flying everywhere, with no real idea of up or down, just face smashed into a wall of water.

And then. And then the last ginormous wave passes through and the swells become a bit smaller and smaller until the undulations are gently caressing, mildly comforting, eventually ending with a shocking moment of stillness. That stillness is how I view God. He is here throughout the turmoil, but I can feel Him when the vast ocean of water is placid, the storm has passed and the change has occurred. So, so, SO worth it.