“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”
In addition to saying nothing
negative to your (sons) again today,
do at least one unexpected gesture
as an act of kindness.
As many of you may have noticed, I am…ah… rather exacting over the meanings of words and sentences. I don’t do vague in day-by-day communications. The sentence means what it means. A ridiculously simple example would be the construction truck with the warning on the back – Working Vehicle Do Not Follow.
Okay. So the truck is working – usually a dump truck so I *assume* the fear is the back will give way and drown the close-following car in dirt or whatever happens to be lucky enough to be enclosed within.
Then my mind goes to work. (And yes, this will relate to the subject eventually…. sort of.) My first thought is, ‘So you can’t follow the truck…. for how long? A mile? Forever? Never?” Will all the traffic suddenly come to a stand-still while the truck drives off into the distance alone?’
The sign doesn’t even give you the respect of clarifying, ‘Do not follow behind this truck any closer than 60 yards. You might get smushed.’ There is still some vagueness here but never mind for now. You can undoubtedly see the point. I’m anal about words and grammar.
And now here is where I am going to make a flourish with my hands, say TA-DA, and suddenly spring a ‘new’ subject on you, even if I did just give you a hint of what was to come.
What does the Love Dare mean by Kind? Am I kind if I bake you cookies? How about if I mow your grass just because? Pick up your child from school so you don’t have to miss work? Send a card? Call? Flowers? Does kindness mean that I have to do something for somebody else whether physical, mental or emotional?
Or can kindness also be not doing something?
I thought about the ways and means of kindness this week, trying to figure out what kindness I could offer to my sons. Their suggestions would mostly likely cover the money or food avenue of giving them something of monetary value.
So, yes, kindness can be giving but must it always be giving?
Doing their chores for a day? What chores? The ones I have to threaten bodily harm to get done? Those chores? They wouldn’t even notice.
Take them to dinner? A dinner out would be kind if you mean kind as in ‘nice.’ But is nice what the Dare is asking me to be?
Nice is a ‘nice’ word. The sky is nice today. Tells me nothing about why the sky is nice. Or the clouds or the sun or your spotted dog. Nice really tells nothing more than the speaker doesn’t have the ability, time, care enough, or is afraid to, to say what is really meant.
I don’t want to be just *nice.* I want to show kindness with action or actions that are real and solid and meaningful. I want them to be able to say, ‘Wow, Mom sure was kind to me today. She…. fill in the blank as you wish.’
But kindness shouldn’t need shouting from the mountaintops. Kindness isn’t something done for praise. So maybe kindness should slip quietly into one’s life like a shadow, maybe not even realized until later.
Last Friday, as always, my oldest picked me up from work. He had just recently painted his room and I’d told him I would buy him a new rug. I was tired. I didn’t want to go to the store then, but he wanted to go and every other time I was off he had plans. So off to Kohl’s we go.
Found the rugs. He liked. We’re done. Right?
Ah, no. He’d been hinting that he needed shoes but I explained to him that was why he worked – so he could buy his own shoes. But I could tell he wanted something so I suggested maybe he might like to look at the clearance clothes. Instant smile and off he goes.
And there, in the middle of Kohl’s, I found myself in the middle of kindness. There is a reason why we disagree on clothes but it isn’t something I’m comfortable with at the moment. Suffice it to say, the greatest kindness I could have shown him at that moment was to tell him he could get clearance clothes and then walk away. To remain silent when he came up to me with clothes in hand, waiting for me to give the Mother’s ‘No.’
I said nothing except ‘do they fit’ and ‘do you want them.’ And then, ‘let’s go pay.’
At that moment, I was enfolded in the arms of kindness towards another person. Silent. Warm. And filled with overflowing love.
At that moment, I was kindness and isn’t that what the dare was really asking…
“We want to get there faster. Get where? Wherever we are not. But a human soul can only go as fast as a man can walk, they used to say. In that case, where are all the souls? Left behind. They wander here and there, slowly, dim lights flickering in the marshes at night, looking for us. But they’re not nearly fast enough, not for us, we’re way ahead of them, they’ll never catch up. That’s why we can go so fast: our souls don’t weigh us down.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Tent
(Not sure why this didn’t come through yesterday but…. better late than never:)
“Trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. ”
I have been challenged by a fantastic blogger, mamalisa4, to step up to the Love in Ten Sentences Challenge. Since I enjoy her unique point of view and posts immensely, I was glad for the honor. (And I told you that I hadn’t forgotten). While I do write poetry, I do not normally conform to such a strict structure so the challenge pressed me not only to write a poem, but to do so in a form that I was not comfortable using. No pressure at all!
The challenge requires one to write a ten line poem, each sentence four words long. Each line must also contain the word love. At the end, one has to add a favorite quote about love. I will pass this challenge on to others bloggers separately (when I finally figure out how best to do that).
So said, here goes:
Love comes from nowhere.
Rain looks like love.
Sand feels like love.
Winds blows like love.
Sun kisses like love.
Blue sky shines love.
Storm clouds cry love.
Moonlight glows for love.
Night hides for love.
Sun rises for love.
“The one you love and the one who loves you are never, ever the same person.”
Do there exist many worlds, or is there but a single world? This is one of the most noble and exalted questions in the study of Nature.
— Albertus Magnus, c. 13th Century
Lives begin only once. Stories are much more complicated. They can pick up, leave off, pick up again a thousand times. There is no beginning or end that way. And don’t even get me talking about the middles.
Hannah Barnaby – The Wonder Show
“There is no normal. I’ve never met a normal person. The concept is flawed. It implies that there is only one way people are supposed to be, and that can’t possible be true. Human experience is far too varied.”
― Maureen Johnson, The Madness Underneath
After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Deveaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance to get back to her friends. But Rory’s brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she’s become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades–the city’s secret ghost-fighting police–are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it’s too late.
Goodreads review –
I enjoyed this book. It started slowly, but the action picked up as the story moved along. I did have a harder time relating to Rory in the beginning and if I hadn’t read the first book, I might have given up. I didn’t, however, and I’m glad. Once Rory settled down and stopped being so wishy-washy, I was back with an old friend.
I loved the way the author continued to build on the plot from the first book. Though unexpected at times, the plot devices fit in so seamlessly I never lost the suspension of belief. True to form for a great book, the story left me wanting more and eagerly awaiting the third volume in the series.
“This is England,” he explained. “Tell someone it’s a procedure, and they’ll believe you. The pointless procedure is one of our great natural resources.”
There’s a funny thing about being invisible. The Invisible Man, Harry Potter and his Invisibility Cloak, One Ring to Rule Them All, The Tempest and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Being invisible has always been a popular item in literature and movies. When asked what superpower a person might like to possess, invisibility is usually high up on the list. But what if you were really invisible? Or what if you’d made yourself as invisible as possible all your life but when you decide you want to toss off the invisibility cloak no one sees you even then.
Growing up, I spend all my time trying to be invisible. I was horribly shy and inwards, mostly because of things that happened and because I’d never not known the feeling of depression. To protect myself, I became invisible, as skill I perfected over the years.
In college, I lived behind the mask of characters, terrified somebody would talk to me, I would freeze and look like an idiot. I didn’t trust anybody. I was afraid of everything and not just in that ‘I’m afraid of spiders’ way. I was drawn so far inward that I couldn’t make connections with the outer world.
And then I grew up. Don’t get me wrong, I was invisible well into adulthood and I liked it that way. It didn’t help that my ex liked me invisible. So, there I was, invisible until I had kids. I couldn’t be invisible with kids. I learned to speak up, defend them, because I didn’t have any other choice. The mother bear will protect her cubs even if she doesn’t want to come out of the den.
It took me years to come to the realization I didn’t have to live the life other people wanted for me. I could live life my way. Visible. I no longer had to be afraid. I was in charge of who I was and who I became. Not my Ex. Not my family. Not friends or acquaintances or bosses or TV or ads or anything else in the Universe.
I. Was. In. Charge. Of. Me.
Apparently, no one else got the memo. I learned quickly that once people lose sight of you, you don’t appear just because you’ve decided to appear again. I’m not talking about people I knew casually, but family. When I finally separated from my ex, they were glad. Why had it taken me so long? When I became my own person, they weren’t happy. I was no longer the person they expected me to be and they didn’t want that. They wanted me to stand on my own two feet but only if I stayed the same person I was before. But I wasn’t the same person. How could I stay the same and change? Not possible.
I’ve had to write the remainder of this post several times. Each former attempt came out bitchy and childish. I don’t mean to be. I like taking the higher road, but sometimes I just need to express myself, bitchy or not. I know what you are going to say. ‘Are you sure it’s all them?’ Probably not. I’ve never claimed I was perfect. I don’t return phone calls in the time frame they expect. Bad? Yes, but I’m not a phone person and when I get overwhelmed by things, I just ‘turtle’ and do nothing. Could I do better? Yes. Try harder? Yes. Do I want to do better? I used to say yes, but now, I’m not so sure.
Three examples (yes there are so many more but that’s where the bitchy comes in). One – I wrote and read a short essay at my mother’s funeral. Except for my Aunt, no one in my family acknowledged I had even spoken. No ‘thank you,’ no ‘I know this must have been hard for you’. Nothing. Friends of the family (and even people I didn’t know) came up to say how touched they had been by my words, wanting a copy. Family. Not a word.
Two – After years of cutting my own hair (not pretty I assure you), I got my hair cut and styled at a salon. Nobody in my family noticed.
Three- I lost a noticeable amount of weight. Did my family notice? Nope. Not a word.
Bitch over (maybe). Truth is I am hurt and angry. I am willing to do anything they need. All they need to do is ask. Do they? No, they don’t and then are angry that I ‘never’ help. To hear them, I am selfish and think of nobody but myself. So sorry for thinking we are all adults and should not expect mind-reading among us.
Perhaps I should accept that I am, and will be, invisible to them. The sad part is I am almost at the point I don’t care. Is it worth fighting invisibility in their eyes when I will never be visible for who I am? How many times am I expected to try to explain who I am and why? It is hard enough to fight depression every day without living up to somebody else’s expectations.
The sad truth is I no longer feel comfortable at family gatherings.
I am the invisible woman.
“We all do things we desperately wish we could undo. Those regrets just become part of who we are, along with everything else. To spend time trying to change that, well, it’s like chasing clouds.”
Everybody has regrets. We all live with the what-ifs, the should-have-beens and could-have-beens. I’ve had my share and more. Most have faded away, others remain with me to this day. The maxims suggest you live without regret. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time working that sentiment into daily life. If I deny those feeling, don’t I deny a part of me I don’t want to lose? I don’t want to live in the past, but how can I change my future if I don’t understand what molded my past?
I regret when my first tabby cat, Dandor, died trying to get to the bedroom to be with me. I was asleep and didn’t know until the next day. It was a natural death, don’t get me wrong, but that didn’t make it hurt any less. Didn’t make my regret any easier. I regret that I wasn’t more self-away when I first met my ex because then he wouldn’t have been anything to me. I would have seen through his lies and been strong enough to say, ‘I deserve better.’
Regret. Regret. Regret. So many regrets in one lifetime. I treasure these regrets because they are the building blocks upon which my life has been constructed, stepping stones to a stronger and calmer and happier me. That doesn’t mean I will never have another regret. I know I will and trying to pretend otherwise is like turning a blind eye to reality.
My biggest regret now is that I didn’t keep the last promise I made to my Mother. When we put her in respite care while my Dad was in the hospital, I promised I would take her home. Every time I saw her, I promised. She would cry and I would remind her of the promise and the tears would stop. When Dad got better, he realized he couldn’t care for her by himself any longer. The result – leaving her where she didn’t want to be. Promise broken. Not my fault. Not anybody’s fault. It was what it was. A broken promise never to be mended. An ache of pain which will linger for a long time to come.
How do we survive the avalanche of regret? One step at a time. One day at a time. One moment at a time. Forgiving yourself is a lifetime project. No one conquers those pains in an hour or a day. Sometimes it takes the lifetime. We learn to crawl, then walk, and then run from the hurt behind. Other times, we sit still and silent, letting the pain and regret settle deep inside us until we realized that, no matter how bad, the regret and the pain is not going to kill us.