Someday


Today is different for me than most. A day to reflect on the inhumane treatment of animals and the continual sacrifices they must make to feed humans. I hope someday it stops.

And the centuries old disrespect and disregard of Americas Native people. It is one of our truly disgraceful periods in history.

Sure, I have plenty to be thankful about–but on this particular day, I would rather reflect on these two topics since they tie into this ‘holiday’. It has been a hard day for me for many years; today I am saying so.

May the future bring more comfort and peace to lives of those we take for granted.

 

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Clarity


Seeing people for who they really are, whether they are homeless or our closest friends/family, can often be challenging. As humans, we spend a lot of time trying to create comfort around us, and this may include internal comfort also. Living in a world where situations can bring us discomfort, our brain will do as much as it can to remove the ‘bad’ stuff; erase memories or twist pictures before our eyes into something we’d prefer to see.

Seeing the world around us without our rose-colored glasses can often be painful, on a personal and global level. It may reveal our own child as a drug addict or a fellow human as hungry, neither snapshot as something we want to see.

But both these things are truths before us and must be acknowledged. They are drastic cases of what we see when we choose to have our eyes truly open to people around us. How do these things make us feel about these people and how do we react in response? Afterall, it does not change the fact that they are both humans still…

What if what our eyes remain closed to simpler truths about someone else? Things that just make them who they are, but different from you and I? Have we truly listened and accepted what someone has told us about their feelings or needs? Or are we trying to change them to fit into our agenda?

It can be a challenge to accept someone just as they are; especially when they look or act differently. Each day the world seems to become less and less accepting and we drift farther apart from our shared humanity.

Respect and listening. If we felt heard and respected, no matter how minor the role we may play in this game called life, then we can feel here, human and a part of the whole.

 

 

 

 

 

Joy Through Sacrifice


Watching an interesting TED talk today about a young Arctic surfer (yes, you heard me right, that was Arctic surfer), he said something that really struck me–not about surfing, but about sacrifice. As you can imagine, someone who surfs in frigid waters does a fair amount of sacrificing.  He does it in part to get away from the normal tropic crowds, but also to take these amazing photographs. To paraphrase very loosely he said something like: most things worth any kind of real joy usually involve some kind of sacrifice.

That gave me pause.

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I began thinking about some of the things that take sacrifice but bring joy:

  • 9 months of carrying a baby: the worrying, the weight gain, the hormone shifts, the vomiting, the swelling, the potential dangers involved…
  • being in a relationship: any kind really. It’s constant ups and downs, bargaining (with the kids, partners, co-workers, family members), tears, give/take, compromises, giving away parts of yourself at times
  • having a dream or goal: these can take huge amounts of time, money, changes in lifestyle and re-evaluating ourselves for the final outcome
  • moving somewhere new: leaving friends and family behind; leaving a career or job, doing something scary, taking a leap of faith
  • starting over (with a job/a person/or alone: leaving your comfort zone, stretching parts of yourself you may not know you had, or totally remaking yourself
  • helping others or someone else: living with less than normal, learning about other cultures (which maybe is uncomfortable), focusing less on “me”
  • giving up something completely: getting used to life “without”, feeling what it’s like when others perceive because we are now “different”
  • changing our point of view for the greater good: getting into arguments (political/family?), battling within ourselves over the old point of view, reconciling what’s right/wrong
  • coming out: about our sexual orientation, addictions, mental health, illness, abuse, political view or anything else we’ve been keeping inside for fear of judgement, shame or condemnation
  • sharing our home with animals: limiting our work day, getting up in the middle of the night, cleaning up hair, poop and vomit off the floor
  • Waiting: for anything you want, it can be excruciating at times because we are a culture of wanting everything now, having patience is like hot iron swirling in our bellies…the loss of precious time while we wait
  • standing up for what you believe when others around you don’t agree: this can be going to rallies or being a vegan, it can bring agitation or arguments from others, confrontations or simply tiresome questions
  • sharing our home with children: never having peace and quiet (or rarely); suddenly realizing you have to sacrifice so much and become a very good teacher when you hardly know yourself (or much else for that matter…)

There are so many more things…what can you add to the list? And it all comes down to mindset like anything else really. We give to get. Nothing comes easily really.  It seems like many things feel like work these days, and trying to pick out the little pieces of joy can be tough. But when you think about the sacrifices we make all adding up to something beautiful–that it’s the wrapping surrounding the gift inside, then it doesn’t feel quite so much like drudgery. 

So when you are climbing that next mountain and it feels like hell: the boots are giving you blisters, the sweating like a banshee and the mosquitoes buzzing around your head: remember that when you get to the top you will see this incredible view of the world below. Every step you took to get there was worth what lies before you as you look out. See it as you breathe the joy and try to remember that you couldn’t have experienced the splendor without a bit of pain.

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Drifting


Today struck me as a day to reach back and reach forward. So I sent out some emails to folks I have lost along the way: partly on purpose, partly because life just happens. Feeling disconnected might do that to us I suppose…make us want to see who is still out there; those that were a part of our lives in the past. It’s interesting to see if they still care at all, how they are and what they are up to and if the connection still lingers. Sometimes the world can seem an insulated place.

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And one email was sent for future connections: to put a feeler out to see about a Friend’s Meeting at a Quaker Meeting house not far from where I live. I’ve attended them before and would like to check it out. Who knows if it still exists–they are often small gatherings in out-of-the-way places. So rather than go, I figured I would see if I could find anything out first.

Moving into my second year in this new place, I still feel alienated in many ways. While many things are good in my life (like the wonderful relationship with my Mother), there are other things that feel hollow. I’ve heard repeatedly from folks that this area is a hard place to feel a sense of community or to make friends, but I don’t completely blame the area. It’s my mental space too.

The older I get, the more introspective I become and the harder it is for me to find my tribe. Even one friend can be a challenge. Sometimes the confines of my four walls are a space that give me a comfort that can be hard to replace with other kinds of satisfactions. Being home is sacred, comforting, safe and peaceful. But I know the danger in being lulled into never venturing out.

So, I push myself to reach out: to the past (although it took dropping some walls on my part) and to the future which means letting go of some fear of not fitting in, to see if this sense of drifting I feel at times can settle down.