Poem: Which Light?


What started as hard

could be easy in the end

Life is a gamble

where not knowing is a friend

 

Looking back is simple

and seeing all the pain

but to only guess the future

and its crazy moving train

 

Hoping that it goes forward

towards fields of golden light

and the tracks that lay behind

are now distant out of sight

 

Yet still we step upon this ride

without a future sure

and surf the bumps and valleys

through tunnels insecure

 

Then to take this trip

and the curves that may befall

because the only other choice my friend

is to not be here at all…?

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Poem: Sometimes I Forget


Sometimes I forget

when I am writing on the

steamy bathroom mirror

about happiness and joy

–my daily prayers

because life feels lacking

And I forget

when my wants

walk in front of my needs

I forget and I forget–

Until I remember

how close it was

the demon snapping at your heels

And every phone call feeling like dread

Or the day I looked in your window

and saw you lying on your mattress

on the floor

too still

Or when you first told me about

the problem

But then

I stop forgetting

and remember

and know that my life

has really been fine

since the moment

your life

got OK

 

Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come For You???


Some of you may be surprised to know that I am taking a 9 week course in my town that is a Citizen Police Academy. No, this doesn’t mean I will walk around with a gun or even a taser when I’m done. But it is giving me a close up perspective on what the women and men do on my city police force.

The idea behind this Academy is to build community between the citizens and the police department. Of course, the folks who show up for the course aren’t necessarily the ones they need to preach to–we are their choir already. But we’re also tax payers and some of us are future police officers, and it’s a good show they put on.

They give us all the bells and whistles; or at least dogs and flash bombs. Every section of their department gives a presentation from the marine unit to the SWAT team to dog officers. We’re up close and personal with equipment, loud noises…and maybe not too close to the German Shepards.  Not only do they present the history of this department, but of how certain units came to be initially; like SWAT units started during the race riots in the 60’s.

Having been a paramedic I’m used to working near the police, so some of the stuff is familiar. But I admit, this is a medium city and this department has some pretty big advantages. This also means different types (and more) crime. In some ways being in the class gives me the willies knowing what goes on around me, like the gang violence for instance. Who knew they are high school kids? But in other ways in is comforting to know these people are quite dedicated to serve and protect in some extremely dangerous situations.

An interesting thing I have noted is how many women work in this department; the Chief is currently a woman and one Assistance Chief too. Even one of the SWAT members is and the program is incredibly rigorous. It’s also a very culturally ethnic department.

This department does other community events like Coffee with A Cop where they meet the public at none other than Dunkin’ Donuts just to have open dialogue. Not a bad idea in these troubling times.

We get to sign up for two ride-alongs with an officer on duty. I’m looking forward to that one. Hopefully I’ll get some action that night. Maybe we’ll catch some bad guys? It might bring me back to my ambulance days…sigh. One (silly) man asked if he could bring his gun that night if he had a concealed weapon license; the answer was a resounding NO. Really?!

Anyway, a lot of effort goes into this course, and I know it’s really a bunch of PR for them, but they do have a hard job. My cop friends would tell me over and over that all they saw was bad stuff and bad people. It got old for them and some were pretty bitter. Maybe this is a way for these guys to do something good for a change? And to get a good rap for once? It’s not an easy job by any means; trying uphold the law when there’s so much negative stuff in our world these days. I don’t envy them.

And some of these Officers do this stuff on a voluntary basis simply because they love what they do and are committed to it. There are certain teams (like SWAT) that are voluntary to be on call until you’re called.  That’s pretty amazing when you think about it. And yet they train constantly! These Officers were not folks I would want to meet up with at any time! Yikes.

So, I’m learning some interesting and new things. And trying to look with an open perspective. Even though there are some police that don’t exercise good judgement , I wonder what it would like without any of them?

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Reality Shootings


It’s not surprising (to me anyway), that our society is crumbling under an opioid crisis, people suffering from mental illness or comfort eating and heart disease, plus all the many other myriad diseases and problems afflicting us nationally.

One answer seems obvious to me, part of it anyway. Many of us are suffering from PTSD and survivor guilt.

With all the horrible events that have been going on now for years, and I repeat, years—our brains are inundated from the media and our devices by the trauma of seeing the scenes of these events. Many years ago, we rarely would experience the raw horror that we do now–first hand (sometimes from a phone of someone right there): the noise, the blood, the screams, the carnage. And not just once, but over and over. How much can the brain  handle, day after day, year after year, without going over the edge? Mine is certainly on overload.

What is PTSD? It is caused by the triggering of traumatic events: disasters, abuse or any kind of trauma. It can happen when someone you love has been harmed also. Normally we don’t experience it ourselves unless we have been through the event, but what about now? Do you think it’s possible seeing footage from the phone of someone who was actually there during a shooting, would this do the same thing to us? How do these ‘pictures’ stay in our minds: people falling from buildings, human blood everywhere, kids running from a school or actually watching someone being shot…

Let’s face it people, if you are at all caring about your fellow human being, this can’t be good. We are pretty much experiencing these things as though we are there. It’s like reality shootings. Maybe they’ll make a new TV series. They might as well for as much as they play the stuff–and we watch.

What does all this watching do to us anyway?  How does it make you feel when you go out somewhere (or maybe you don’t even want to)? Do you check where the exits are now? Does your heart rate go up if you hear something weird? Are you simply numb to this stuff now? Are you mistrustful of others? Do you feel sad a lot?  Can you sleep at night or have your dreams changed? I know I have been greatly effected by the heinous crimes crushing our country.

Even if we weren’t at these places, we can’t help but feel: why these people? As we pour through their stories, it makes our story feel somewhat meaningless. When it’s a kid… there’s a collective: why so young and what if was my child? It’s so chilling.

And the roulette guilt of: I’m here, they’re not. I’m enjoying my life, those poor people aren’t anymore. My feelings of gratitude just get ruined by the extreme senselessness of it all. It’s just hard to hold those two feelings in the same space.

It’s all this nation wide secondary guilt because nothing is being done about it. We all just sit around waiting for the next one to happen, because we know it will, while law-makers tell us now isn’t the time to talk about any changes in the laws. It’s all so frustrating! So we just wait…holding our breath and wonder where will be next. What venue? How many? What city? Is there a person out there now contemplating it…?

How’s that for your health, while we think: will it be me next time or my kid? That makes my heart thump. This is why I don’t sleep. What about you?

So I ask: do we really need to see this stuff so much? Is it only me that thinks the perpetrators may sometimes do these things because they understand they will be glorified by the media? And all of us watching and watching and watching… Their sick moment of fame.

I’ve made a promise to myself: I will watch no more (or listen or read). What if none of us did? What if we heard about these awful things and said prayers for those dead (and their families), but didn’t pick up our phones, or look on our computers, or shut off our TV and radios? What if we refused? Could we demand from our media sources to stop flooding our minds with such gruesome images and sounds? Instead just report the facts and move on.

Sadly, I can’t seem to create change to laws by my vote, but I can do this one thing instead. It’s something that I do have control over: to reduce the bombardment of the grisly media show to my brain. And by doing this, allowing more space in there for good energy.

It’s ultimately up to us. I’m not saying we can stop people from killing, but maybe we can stop ourselves from becoming a more ill society than we already are, and if we do, maybe this in turn will help in the long run.

Only Silence


Once upon a time, many, many years ago–a little girl made a make-a-wish to go to Disney. It seemed like a pretty boring wish for her Mama, but she had her heart set on it (even though Mom tried to talk her into a more interesting wish), so the whole family was escorted to the ‘magical’ (plastic) world of Disneyland.

mickey

It was an odd trip for me (yes I was the Mama) and my other two daughters, going on a trip planned around a kid who wasn’t considered healthy. While my HIV positive daughter reveled in the attention, the rest of us noticed the “Alice In Wonderland” qualities of everything encountered. Sort of like a bad drug trip….

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But she wouldn’t hear of doing anything different. It was Mickey or nothing! So there I was: trapped in the surreal world of Americana, with no vegetarian food in sight and our nights spent in a ‘special’ place designed for all the make-a-wish kids. It was like being in the ward of pediatric hospital gone carnival. Spooky to say the least. My oldest daughter hated it. Well, so did I…

Today, that daughter is alive and well and 25 years old. Her disease is under control. HIV is more like diabetes now a days really. It’s quite amazing. No real cure, but manageable.

Unfortunately, she still refuses to listen to me–like most kids of course, but for her, this can be a slippery slope. She’s pregnant and it’s not a great situation. Her life is no Disneyland. She did not find Prince Charming and she lives more like Cinderella still. It’s a very sad, and often scary situation.

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She called today to say she had a car accident. Her fault, rear ending the person in front because of something careless on her part. I’ve been trying to coach her about straightening her life out to get ready for this new addition. But I’m more like the Cruella Deville than Mom…I get nowhere. So now she has no car along with the rest of her sad life.

Some things never change really….They do what they want when they are 5 or 25 but the choices they make at 25 can be much more damaging. Because now they are making choices for someone else.What if that baby was already in the car? Or what if she hit a child instead of another car? I get no replies when I ask these questions….

Only silence…..

Stones

In It Together


Complacency in today’s world, in my opinion, can be a dangerous thing. It’s not the same world it was when I was a kid. Sadly, I believe this to be true, while others choose to stay in a dream world.

The Internet, along with high mobility and  huge numbers of people, easy access to weapons and drugs, the fracturing of communities and the scattering of families make it easy for humans with harmful intent to do their business. And somehow, in a world of discontent, poverty, pain and disharmony–there seem to be a fair share of these types these days.

And they are everywhere it seems: sometimes lurking within our own work places, often disguised, at first anyway, as one of us. They may appear like the rest of us, just doing their job, until the day comes that something doesn’t go their way. That’s when the darkness in them comes out: whatever pain they may feel makes their true heart appear.

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If we’re lucky, they may only steal something, like we suspect someone did at my job. And then they just won’t show up anymore. They may get away with something. This makes them big shots. Or at least they think so!

But then real trouble, in my estimation, comes into play and that’s our complacency not to act! If we have a fairly reasonable suspicion (and maybe even some proof) that some crime was committed, then to look the other way is a crime itself. Because this is how the little things become big. The petty theft that the co-worker gets away with can become something greater at the next job. And who knows how much greater? I’d imagine it can become like a dopamine rush…an addictive sort of thing even.

In these trying days we need to think like this  guy. How they are raised to hero status in some ways by the media and some of them may feel justified by their acts. “The world owes me!” For us to simply turn our heads and say: “whew, he’s gone now because he was trouble…now he’s someone else’s trouble” is not only negligent but a reflection on the world today.

This kind of myopic thinking is contributing to these horrific events we read about. How many could be stopped if people didn’t stick their heads in the sand beforehand? If people who saw these individuals engaging in unusual or specifically criminal behavior and push the point? And I mean the managers of the companies who have the real power: the ones looking at the tapes, making the phone calls, speaking with the individual and monitoring the behaviors. Just to turn away and pretend none of it happened is like participating in the crime itself.

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This all is just another depressing aspect of today’s society. I’m sure this young man is suffering somehow. He may not be a true criminal, but someone who has strayed because of the usual breakdowns one faces in life’s path. We all make choices and his aren’t the good ones for sure (if indeed he’s guilty, which I do not know). But these stories are a dime a dozen today anyway.

The point is we all are partly responsible for this guy if he’s guilty: for why he did it in the first place and for ignoring it after. Because for us to be really human, we have to all be in this together.

Almost


Before me I stand on the brink of a three day weekend. Ahhhh. Today a lovely co-worker said some kind and thoughtful words to me–unusual in that cold and harsh world. Most days the words are indifferent at best and rude at worst. But a small miracle happened today and someone showed kindness.

I already went out tonight to eat with Mom and her friend. For some reason I can’t seem to slim down the way I had hoped here in the warm weather. My old bones and busy days seem to keep my athletics low key, therefore the pounds on. Dinner out doesn’t help. But it was a nice visit.

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Tomorrow, if I get the nerve, I may visit a Buddhist monastery/teaching center. It’s an open house so a good day to go. I need to see what it’s all about and find some different folks.

Then who knows….anything may happen. Or not.

On a strange note: my oldest told me that an ex-boyfriend of hers has been taken into custody for murder. Quite disturbing and creepy, but honestly not surprising. We all knew him at a challenging time in her life and found him to be a very troubled young man. Family issues and other grave problems have most likely landed him in this place.

That was a time when I kept him close to me so I would have my daughter close, while knowing it was like feeding a wild lion. But I felt I had no choice at the time–do that, or lose my kid. I gambled. Luckily I won, but I see now by this news how close I came to losing.

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