Sunday, March 30, 2008

One thing gold can stay...

I was not yet three when I was hit by a car, crossing the street in front of my home on Pear Drive. Possibly my earliest memory- very vivid still, the fearful shouting of my parents, looking up to see the tire on my leg, covered with blood, my dad holding me in the hospital and singing to me... fragments, but clear ones.
Fortunately, I was spared skin grafts, although much of the skin on my left leg had been scraped off. The skin and my ankle healed. Somehow healing happens.
I was a very happy child, they tell me I scooted around like a crab and tolerated the bandage changing well, I recall it was painful, and I can still picture my mom and a friend popping open vitamin E capsules and squeezing them onto my leg, my mother's voice low and soothing.
In this picture I smile on my grandmother, Melba's lap, the mummified leg forgotten. I guess I didn't take the injury to my leg personally or as a sign that I deserve bad things. I hadn't learned yet the lie that tells us we are worthless if we are treated as if we are and that bad things only happen to bad people.
I marvel at how well children adapt to the bumps and bruises. We seem bound and determined to be happy when we are little. We come thinking we are pretty great and deserving of love- we were right. Little Jack has taught us that the most. The surgeries, the disadvantages, the pain...and he is so sunny and happy. He looks in the mirror and smiles with genuine delight- he hasn't learned to be ashamed of himself yet. He loves baby Jack. Sometimes self love becomes harder as we age- for various reasons we lose the belief that we are fabulous and loveable "as is"- thus losing our ability to be happy. We think love is to be earned or achieved like success...and like happiness. We try everything in the pursuit of happiness- we are so bent on having and holding happiness that we become unhappy in the very pursuit of its elusive and twinkling ray. Is it inevitable that happiness fades even in our reaching?This reminds me of a poem:

Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
-- Robert Frost

Most of us are convinced of this on some level. But, what if our perception of happiness isn't what the season or the weather says? Not the things that happen around or even to us? Could we hold it then? What if it lives in us, like an immortal firefly in a jar, indifferent to outside conditions.When we are happy in spite of pain and suffering is it always denial or some coping mechanism? Maybe too often it is.
I believe that true, steady happiness comes of trust and faith. Trust that good times can be reborn and that a bump in the road does not mar our life like an omen in a Greek tragedy- where the inevitable end is misery and doom. Perhaps it is more important to remember that nothing horrible can stay either- unless we invite it to. And faith, because we know there is a fire living in us, the love of God which knows no seasons, it is endless and timeless and we are pieces of him. God is the one gold that stays. If he is our defense and our protector we have no need for defense mechanisms of our own destructive making and if the truth is that He loves us unconditionally there is no reason for denial or masking the truth. And if happiness is His free gift we do not have to chase it- just accept it.
The hardest part of a trial is when we see no end in sight- looking down that dark tunnel for a light at the end- it isn't that we cannot endure it- it is the fear that it will endure us and we will collapse before it is all over and never come out the other side. We get overwhelmed and we lose heart waiting for an outside light source. The light is in us- dim or bright- it is there and will not be snuffed out entirely. A happy past can haunt us if our present is miserable- we mourn the loss. If we don't have a happy past to look back on it seems impossible the future could be any different- but the potential is there in us, if we could only see who we really are and not what we have been led to believe of ourselves.
Nothing gold can stay- but who is to say the silver and the copper cannot be endured for awhile like the seasons, things always come back around -sunset to sunrise. So childhood passes and so does midlife crises. We can't control what goes on around us or to us and the attempt to do so in order to feel happy is ironically what brings misery and makes us nuts. If we let go- we will feel the pain we fear and mask but as acute as the pain can be- the joy on the other end of the balance is just as great.(As Alma Jr. found out)
A lot of good things and a lot of bad things have happened in my life between the time a car hit me and now and I fully expect more of the same. As a child I trusted my parents when they told me I would be ok after every injury- and God has to replace our parents as we grow up.With faith and trust we can experience it all, the bad and the good,- fully, honestly, externally- so the light inside remains true and constant- like God's love for us which is unaffected by anything we do or anything that has been done to us. We are loved exactly as we are. A happy thought.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Self Esteem


"You can stand tall without standing on someone. You can be a victor without having victims."-- Harriet Woods

"Self-esteem must be earned! When you dare to dream, dare to follow that dream, dare to suffer through the pain, sacrifice, self-doubts, and friction from the world, you will genuinely impress yourself."-- Dr. Laura Schlessinger

"Whoever you are, there is some younger person who thinks you are perfect. There is some work that will never be done if you don't do it. There is someone who would miss you if you were gone. There is a place that you alone can fill."-- Jacob M. Braude

"It's lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself."-- Muhammad Ali

"The first great step is to like yourself enough to pick someone who likes you, too."- Jane O'Reilly

"The longest journey is the journey inwards of him who has chosen his destiny."-- Dag Hammarskjold

"There is nothing stronger in the world than gentleness."-- Han Suyin

"Life's most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?"-- Martin Luther King Jr.

"When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you."-- African proverb

"If you think you're too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito."-- Bette Reese

"Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be."-- Clementine Paddelford

"Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world."-- Helen Keller

"If a woman is sufficiently ambitious, determined and gifted -- there is practically nothing she can't do."-- Helen Lawrenso

"If you think you can do a thing or you think you can't do a thing, you're right."-- Henry Ford

"With confidence, you can reach truly amazing heights; without confidence, even the simplest accomplishments are beyond your grasp."-- Jim Loehr

"The willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life is the source from which self-respect springs."-- Joan Didion

"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong."-- Joseph Chilton Pearce

"Youth is not a time of life, it is a state of mind. You are as old as your doubt, your fear, your despair. The way to keep young is to keep your faith young. Keep your self-confidence young. Keep your hope young."-- Luella F. Phean

"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Team: "T.E.A.M. (T)ogether, (E)veryone, (A)Achieves, (M)ore"

Team: "We become successful by helping others become successful."

Team: "None of us are as strong as all of us."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

As the world turns...

I had a random thought at the zoo yesterday. There is a fountain near the entrance, a large round stone, etched like the earth that rolls on a gusher of water. Children are mesmorized by it. They run their hands all over the smooth, wet sides and push with all their might to move it. If there are enough children they can get it rolling pretty well, causing the water to roll and run too; a pleasant and enjoyable activity on a hot day. Well, yesterday, a bearded, backpacked, college student with a black-leather-silver-studded belt began vigorously pushing it, hand over hand. His whole body into it, wet up to his elbows, to impress the girl, hiding behind bangs who stood coquettishly behind him. The earth spun faster than I had ever seen it do, sloshing the water more than usual all over the surrounding children who laughed but tried desperately to stop it, their little hands sliding over the the rounded shining surface with what seemed like an abortive effort. But, more children, attracted by the fuss came around, my boys included and being more determined, began by some unspoken accord, working together to slow the mad spinning. The college student snorted a smile and took it as a challenge, giving the world a whirl again, the children responded quicker than before and slowed it down to a saner pace, grinning in triumph.
A small, random occurence in passing with no importance. But it seemed significant to me. I am reading a book (as those near and dear to me know) called Bradshaw: On the Family. This little episode tied in with what I am gleening from this book. The generations before us, bigger, older can sometimes send our world, as children, out of control. Who knows why- fun, anger, hurt, power...and the new generation is made to scramble and grapple with a slippery, insane world, putting all their efforts into survival, ending up wet and exhausted. But, in this there is hope, too. Our kids, some of the new generation, will be a part of the solution.
It brings to mind the song by Billy Joel "We didn't start the fire, it was always burning since the world was turning...". true- we didn't but, we will continue the bad traditions if we don't question and oppose them. I hope I do and can at least help my children desire to, and as long as some of us are not the cause of the problem, our effors can attempt some balance.We have one shot at this life and one world- how do we want to spend it and what do we want our children to inherit? I want to end up soaked, arms sore and smiling in triumph, making it all better for the people to come.

"And I think to myself...what a wonderful world..."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

grin and bear it

I am still adjusting to my new braces- ow. The best diet plan ever- it hurts to eat and cleaning them is such a bother- eating seems like more trouble than it is worth.

Lately there has been so much going on. Rushing around, appointments, church obligations, scouts, Jack's various classes and sessions, school stuff, out of town guests...
and somehow the Holidays were just yesterday, but March is half done. Zooooom!
I have not had a chance to work on my novel in way too long. There are things in the family to worry over- health, finances,harmony etc. It snowed again today. Time for a big sigh and a regrouping.
My kids are really individualizing lately. I enjoy seeing them use their time to find themselves. Kids use time much better than we do as adults. They really live in the moment and seem satisfied with things as they are. They experience more joy. I gotta remember to do that more. I will squeeze that into my schedule.

Friday, March 7, 2008

What we think we know...

I watched out my window.
The brown hills rose up like the backs of basking cows, the patches of white snow in bovine pattern , liked spilled milk, shone in the afternoon sun. These sleeping, heaped cows lay penned in by the gothic, ragged cathedral of stone cliffs, layered and scored by years of sediment and the elements carving their designs. As I drove past them, winding along, my toes still numb from a day recreating in the snow, I suddenly thought of how small I was and how fleeting- like the melting drifts of snow, surrounded by ancient giants of landscape. Just a flea lost in cow fur who thinks he is central to the universe, but who would not live to see even a few inches of erosion or change in the setting. Pull out further and the hills are mere pimples on the backside of an old earth groaning slowly through space, rotating to keep time with infinity and taking us to our inevitable future from season to season. What do we even know, as small as we are- can we even comprehend what we claim to know about our place in the galaxy? Anymore than a dust mite living in our eyelashes knows about us, as a whole bodied human with all the complex workings of organs and systems and seasons of our own? Sure, he can see the hair, may know how to gather sustainance there and thinks he has it all worked out in his life span of a day...but how can he know what he doesn't realize he doesn't know?
I am rambling. But, I had a conversation with my children once about this very thing. Can we be living in the eyebrow of God, so to speak, and claim he isn't there because all we see is the eyebrow and we think we have that all figured out? Do our dust mites believe in us? Or do they merely exist, survive, thinking that what they see and experience is the extent of reality? I suppose I could never presume to say that something or some "One" out there couldn't exist. The hubris we humans have...the specks who know a few things and jump to all sweeping we proudly decipher part of the code in our rudimentary labs, with our plastic toy instruments, we ignore that that code was written and programmed by something bigger and smarter than we are. Why? Has anyone ever sat and listened to the intricate flowing sounds of a symphony coordinating harmonies and imagined it "just happened"?
Anyway, it is funny what can set my mind off on random tangents. The world is a beautiful and thought provoking place- and as one flea to another- don't be afraid to explore the possibilitites and keep an open mind. There is more to all of this than meets the eye.
Maybe all we know is not what we think we know.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Ring, Ring! For whom the BELL tolls...

Today is March 3rd. On this very day in 1847 Alexander Graham Bell was born. He was an innovative genius of a man. His most notable accomplishment was his invention called the telephone. Just think how that has changed the world! Look at what he started for long distance communication. What would he think if he could see cellphones and the internet and satellite...? Amazing. So honor him today by reaching out and touching someone. Call a loved one and think of old Alex G. Bell.