Distraction


Tis the season for jing a ling and tra la la. Lots of shopping and running around. Too much Christmas music, tinsel and glitter or gathering for Hanukkah gelt and food of all kinds. Or whatever your holiday is, this is the time of year for…well, distraction.

Many of us may find much of this holiday season annoying: too much traffic, too many crowds, too much stuff and just plain too much consumerism. The holidays seem to have gotten away (in most cases) from what they were really supposed to mean and what all the symbols are meant to represent. I bet in many cases folks don’t know anymore. It’s just become: buy, buy, buy and rush, rush, rush and what’s on sale. They may know the basics, but unless you are deeply entrenched within your religious community, it’s all just Hallmark nonsense.

It’s exhausting and sad and often stressful.

But this was the first year I had an insight to it all.  Because the world has become such a harsh place and each year it only seems to get worse, maybe we all need this nonsense. Between the natural disasters and man-made horrors of the world, I truly believe we all suffer, on some deep level, from a global/connected/deep-seeded depression. Most of the time when we tune into what ever we tune into (our preferred media source), it’s some new calamity bombarding us. All year-long we must endure hearing about our fellow humans suffer, or our planet dying or animals being exterminated. It’s a wonder any of us get out of bed at all.

And then, along comes the holidays. Time for our own little fantasy world of tinsel and glitter, pretty lights and toys. And even magic and a crazy man, elves and reindeer bringing happiness to the whole world. And even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you may still have your own holiday celebration within your own religious belief; one that brings your family together, one where you can remember better times and get time off from work.

All these holidays have one thing in common: they help us remember our past, not only our personal one when we were young and things were simpler and maybe happier; but our human past. That’s why they were celebrated in the first place; to acknowledge an important event in history.

And the days when many of us are celebrating our respective holidays on those special days specifically set aside for these historic days from our past, we are not thinking about all the terrible things going on presently that usually occupy our minds. This may be the most important gift of all.

For those precious moments at least, we can let our hearts and souls fill instead with the sounds of our families, children and homes (after the rush and stress have died down). The smells of cooking, the visits from those we haven’t seen, the familiar decorations all give a sense of well-being and safety. These feelings may be rare for us these days. So we lap it up in the swell of the holiday tide. This is the part we take for granted, the feelings, but this is the part of life we are missing every day in this painful world. This is what the holiday season gives us.  Positive feelings.

So, for the first time in many years, I say: go ahead and enjoy. Play the incessant Christmas music. I get all the lights and sparkly stuff.  Sure, I would still rather people not buy so much ‘stuff’ because it’s not good for the world, but I do understand better why they do…it’s for the feelings they produce. But mostly, I just understand the whole ‘thing’ of the holidays more this year: instead of global depression, it’s global jublilation.

Maybe that’s why they call it a magical time of year.

Advertisements

The Dalai Lama


dali lama

 

“Sometimes we feel that one individual’s action is very insignificant. Then we think, of course, that effects should come from channeling or from a unifying movement. But the movement of the society, community or group of people means joining individuals. Society means a collection of individuals, so that initiative must come from individuals. Unless each individual develops a sense of responsibility, the whole community cannot move. So therefore, it is very essential that we should not feel that individual effort is meaningless- you should not feel that way. We should make an effort.”— His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from ‘The Dalai Lama’s Book of Love and Compassion’, available from Snow Lion Publications.

Bring It Inside


Today I did something I don’t often do, but like to do when I can. I went to Church…yes, Church. I go occasionally to the UU…or Unitarian Universalist Church that is local to me. I used to go years ago when I lived in Syracuse, NY and loved it. I loved it for its welcoming and open community. It is an accepting and loving place without emphasis on God or Christianity. This was a comfort to me as I am not a Christian, raised by a Jewish Mother and Protestant Father and coming out pagan myself.

So when I found a ‘church’ and a ‘religion’ that was more a community of liked minded people where I could meet folks that did good things, said interesting things and often had interesting classes, I was willing to give it a try. It was an easy fit, without the religious jargon that so often gave me the willies other places did when I visited.

When I came to New England, my family and I tried the UU Church here. The building was much more ‘church-like’ than the one in NY, having a steeple and pews. This was at first a bit of a put-off, but I decided venture forth anyway.

Honestly, I’ve never found it quite like my NY family, but it has it merits I suppose. I’ve never quite gotten as involved though. It has never grabbed me the same way and even put me off in some ways. As a spiritual person, and one that keeps evolving, I won’t give up hope.

So today, I had gotten enough rest and decided on a rainy NE day, it was a good day to listen to someone say something poignant. It’s always lovely to hear the music also and maybe even meet someone nice. Being single does get lonely, and having a community is something I am trying to find.

This month is ‘inclusive’ month there: including others–gays, disabled, people of color, transgender etc. It was interesting listening to the minister talk about this (and other short talks) while sitting among an all white audience of people all over 50.  I’m willing to bet there were no transgender people listening today (although I could be wrong), and I didn’t notice any gay couples either.

One problem I’ve always had with the UU community, especially the one around here, is that they talk a big game, but don’t seem to walk that talk. One gentleman did mention the fact that we were all white and maybe we should work harder on attracting people of other nationalities. Could be tricky where we live! Hey, I’d be happy to see some young people! Most everyone looked over 70! It doesn’t seem a stretch they could attract younger people with a credo talking about inclusiveness!

So I guess my point is: it’s all well and good to say stuff, but you have to live it too. If you have a credo, don’t just read it every day, but do the things it says! Believe it, feel it, emote it. Whether you are Christian or UU, it doesn’t matter! Or even if you are an atheist–be strong in your beliefs. Get out there and beat the street.

I know I’ve always had a big mouth–my third grade teacher called me chatterbox. Hopefully now I put it to good use. And hopefully my ethics and belief system is one that is based on fairness, equity and equality. I’m not always perfect and catch myself plenty, but I try to take each person as they come. And I always open my big mouth when I feel something isn’t right.

Maybe if I keep going to this UU Church I can help them get more diversity. It’s all well and good to tout diversity within four walls of a church, but we have to take that credo to the streets and bring it inside!

Filling My Dance Card


There has always been this weird thing about me, but I am feeling it so much more clearly in my golden years. It’s the dual part of me that is part loner, part socialite. It’s the oddest thing and at times creates great conflict within me.

Sometimes one of these personas claws to the front and that will be the cloak I may wear for a while. If it’s the loner woman, then I feel very at odds if I’m in large groups for some reason. No-one would really notice this, because I always had a pretty good way of hiding this fact.  But I would feel myself draw in on myself, sort of like a movie character fading out of scene. I was there, but not really.

When I’m feeling the opposite, then I literally can’t stand being by myself anymore. I start hunting for connections of all sorts: one on one or larger. My personality becomes bigger than life and when I’m in a group I seem to draw people to me. I once took a test of “How Charismatic Are You” and I scored off the charts. And a friend once told me I do this “Marilyn Monroe” thing where I just turned on the sex appeal-just like a switch. I believe that’s this part of my dual personality.

These two sides clash and so it becomes hard for others to know who they are dealing with at times. Most think I’m warm and friendly. It’s the side I try to put forward. But I really tend to see myself as very comfortable alone, and sometimes even preferring it. It may come from being raised an only child–and a latch-key kid at that! I spent many, many hours with nothing but my imagination for a companion.

As I get older, it get scarier to think about living alone the rest of my life. I have many friends all over the country. I make friends easily and keep them. Talking to strangers is something I’ve always done, maybe because I grew up in New York City where personal space is much closer than New England where I live now. It’s harder to make friends here I find. And definitely harder to find intimacy. Or maybe it’s me? Maybe my need to be alone so much is detected and can’t be incorporated into a relationship?

I would think by middle age most people would need lots of personal time and space? This doesn’t seem like a lot to ask. I’ve learned how to balance my social desires and my “I vant to be alone” moments much better than years past. It used to be that I might shut down or close people out because these times crept up on me.  But now I realize that my need for internal quiet is simply a necessity for me and I can identify them maturely.

In analyzing myself (which I do ad nauseam), I could link the fact that I was abandoned by my birth mother quite young to the fact that I learned to be a loner at an early age. It was a survival technique I suppose. And yet I also had to learn to be social in order to survive within the environment where I was left so people would care for me. So this constant internal juxtaposition has always been at play.

I’m currently in a place, as summer reaches its apex and we plummet towards fall then winter, where I don’t want to be lonely during the cold days. So I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands and find a community and make some new friends…hopefully. I’m going back to the Unitarian Universalist Church in a nearby town to see if I can stir up anything. I used to go there years ago, and was a member of a UU church when I lived in Upstate NY. They are welcoming, liberal and socially active. And that’s the other thing: I want to be more socially active. Time to walk my talk more.

So, no more sitting around weekends feeling sorry for my lonely self. Time to take this charismatic personality and step out into the big world (or small town) and say “here I am!” Hopefully the other self won’t come creeping around and try to steal the show while I’m filling my dance card.