WHEN A WINDOW OPENS

Every time I hear “God opens a window when he closes a door,” “God will take care of it,” ” Have faith, God will save you” I wonder if we are so helpless we can’t, in the face of difficulties, do anything more than pray for help. 

75-RoxburyWindow-NIK-1Why should helplessness be comforting?

What makes you think God closed that door? Maybe the wind blew it shut. Maybe some passerby gave it a push.

God may take care of you in a spiritual sense, but practically speaking, for every person I know who feels God saved them, there are many more who didn’t survive. I prefer “God helps them who help themselves.” Because it suggests we have the equipment to survive. that we are not entirely at the mercy of forces beyond our control.

So when that door closes, walk over, brace yourself, and open the window. You don’t need to ask God to do what you can do yourself.

I believe with free will comes responsibility. If scripture means anything, God gave us gifts — intelligence, reason, creativity. We know right from wrong, understand good and evil.

I don’t believe clouds have silver linings, but I believe storms are okay. We need rain and wind. It’s part of life, the normal ups and downs. Rain is not worse or less valuable than sunshine, only different. You may not like rain, but the earth loves it.

There are many things over which we have no control. The road we travel is unmapped and full of potholes. We can’t fix all the broken things and death is the only certainty. And those pesky taxes.

But while we have life, we have choices to make and responsibilities to meet. If we can’t make everything go as we want, we can do the best we can to take care of ourselves and each other, do the best we can with what we have. Pick good occupations and partners. Make friends who will support us through good times and bad. Look for solutions to problems and treatment for illness.

We don’t have to wait for a higher power to take care of us. We are grown ups. Expecting God to take care of every boo-boo is infantile.

Do I think prayers get answered? Uh huh. But sometimes the answer is “No.”  No one — mortal or deity — promised to make all the bad stuff go away or said life would be easy. So, I’ll continue do my best to take care of me and mine as long as I’m able. Because I think that’s what I’m supposed to do.

LIFE IN REAL TIME

When I was little, I had imaginary playmates. I talked to them. They followed me around. I was never bored because I had friends who really understood me. After I started school, my shadow friends left, never to return. Instead, I got a narrator who has been my lifetime companion. Whatever has gone wrong in my life, I suggest you blame in on the narrator. It’s all his fault.

“Narrator?” you ask. Before you decide I’m schizophrenic, a lot of writers have one or more narrators. I understand the narrator is my voice. He has just one story to tell. Mine. My job is to live. His is to tell the tale. His is the eye that sees all but isn’t involved. He witnesses — but causes nothing, changes nothing, makes no suggestions except to correct grammar. I wish he were a better proofreader.

stone church window

My narrator does not instruct, chastise or judge. He records, remembers and fills in the back story. I’m in charge except I can’t get him to shut up. He gives me a third person perspective on my life. I’m so used to hearing the running commentary, I don’t know how else I could see the world. I’ve grown fond of the old guy.

There are narrators and then, there are narrators. You can get into serious trouble if you forget the narrator is you, not an “other” entity. Should you find yourself listening to a narrator who is telling you to blow things up or kill anyone, you might want to drop by someone’s office for a little chat. Just saying. Of course if you know it’s God talking to you, who am I to interfere?

Through the years, the narrator has filled the holes in my life story, adding “He said, she said,” describing action and scenery, “novelizing” reality. I have grown fond of my narrator and wish he could type. It would save me so much work. A couple of years ago, the narrator left for a while. It was a particularly turbulent period, so maybe the noise in my head was too loud and I couldn’t hear him. Eventually, he came back. There a correlation between when I’m writing and the narrator. If he’s gone, so is my creativity.

The narrator is distracting and I have had to learn to not let him derail me. He does not respect the moment. A running commentary in one’s head during sex makes it difficult to focus. Men take this personally and trying to explain always makes it worse. They then think you are not merely disinterested, but also nuts.

A narrator can take the fun out of parties. You have to make an effort to participate, not just observe. With the narrator describing the surroundings and each person, occasionally arguing with other narrators (sometimes I have more than one), it’s tricky to connect with people. When narrators argue, I have to step in, settle the dispute, tell all but one to shut up. Problem is, there’s more than one way to see stuff and when a lot of points of view clamor for attention, it gets noisy in the brain-space. It can keep you up at night. It can keep your partner awake too

I’ve learned a lot from my narrator. I’ve learned to see life as an endless story with chapters, back stories, weird incidental characters, tragedy, romance, hope and despair. My job is to live it and not forget to write it down. And fix the typos.

AND THEN I SAID BAH HUMBUG!

What is your least favorite personal quality in others? Extra points for sharing your least favorite personal quality in yourself.

I really hate ignorance, bigotry and stupidity. Even more? Self-righteousness and people who judge others — while oddly enough, never judging their own behavior.

Me? I wish I were less impatient with ignorance, bigotry and stupidity and less likely to try to tear out the throats of those self-righteous twerps. Probably I’m guilty of the same behavior from a different perspective, (Begin irony.) but that’s different. Because I’m right. How do I know? I just do. Trust me. (End irony.)

TapeI don’t really want to do violence. I just want to tape some collective jaws shut. With gaffer’s tape. Or whatever it is they use in packing departments that I can’t open without a machete. That would make me smile. Thinking about it makes me feel good. Happy. Downright seasonally joyful.

Can I tape up all the commentators on Fox News? Puleeze?

DON’T PRINT THE LEGEND

Dusty Streets of Tombstone

I love westerns. I hate westerns. I grew up wanting to be a western hero, maybe the Lone Ranger. Never mind the gender issue. I knew by the time I was 5 that boys get to do a lot more stuff than girls, so I wanted to be one.

When I was a kid I didn’t know much. I didn’t count bullets and wonder how come they didn’t reload. I had no idea how many bullets there ought to be. I didn’t notice prejudice, bigotry and the near-genocide of Native Americans … hey, I was a kid. But I’m not a kid now. I know what it means when someone says “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.”

I understand westerns are not historical documents and I don’t need them to be. I’m used to historical manipulation, ignoring facts to make a story work. But I can’t seem to ignore cruelty, mass murder and the adulation of psychopaths. The claims of heroism for what are really acts of malice, stupidity and greed. It doesn’t roll off me.

Big things bother me a lot while small things bother me proportionately less — like an itch I can’t scratch. “Print the legend” does not work for me. I can’t wrap my head around the myth. There are exceptions of course … but mostly … westerns have become painful to watch. New-style and cynical — or old-fashioned and racist — it’s the same. The only difference is style. For me, it’s no longer entertainment.

It just hurts.

Afternoon walk - Tombstone

GUNS PROTECTING GUNS

Red Ryder BB gun

Our family weapon. It’s a classic.

When I see a story about folks who’ve gotten busted for having an arsenal and because, as my husband puts it, “they have toys in the attic,” I notice most of them are poor. Living in squalor.

They live in trailer parts, rural shacks or crumbling buildings in cities. Or in a perfectly regular house in some suburb, maybe right next door. They don’t have much, but by golly they have guns. Lots of guns. Maybe if they didn’t spend all their money on guns, they might be able afford furniture and some food in the fridge.

There was a time when Garry and I talked (briefly) about acquiring hand guns. He was working all kinds of hours in dangerous places. I was coming home from work alone, in the dark. So we checked out what a decent handgun — one that won’t blow up in your hand and will hit a target when aimed — costs.

More than 20 years ago, a reasonably good handgun from a legitimate manufacturer cost a thousand dollars or more. Maybe you could do better at a gun show or pawn shop, but we don’t know enough about guns to buy that way. How do the gun hoarders accumulate all those weapons? We couldn’t afford them even when both of us were working and earning good money.

I suppose it’s a matter of priorities and what’s important to you.

 

It seems to me — correct me if I’m wrong — these people are passionate about their right to protect their stuff and feel they need an arsenal with which to do it. But the only thing they have that’s worth protecting are guns. So they need guns to protect themselves from people might steal their guns. Have I gotten that right?

Guns to protect guns.

These whack jobs abound in every area of the country. You can find them in mountain hideaways, rural villages, big cities, and suburbs. They are hoarders, obsessed with owning more and more weapons, the bigger and more lethal, the better.

Too much fire power for my comfort and too many weirdos owning them. Their presence in my neighborhood does not make me feel safer. They are not protecting me or mine.

I want them to go far away and take their guns with them.

FEEDING THE HUNGRY – UNSUNG HEROES

Community Food Bank_0There are still some heroes in our midst, many of whom work at local food banks. In big cities and rural villages, they do their best to feed the hungrySupported by religious organizations of every denomination, with help from local groceries, businesses and private citizens who don’t want their neighbors to go hungry, they provide food for people who otherwise might not eat.

Food banks operate quietly in almost every community. These are the places that make it possible to not send the kids to bed hungry. They give food without requiring a lot of paperwork. They help while trying to let those they help maintain their dignity. They do not judge. They are friendly, smiling, and act like what they do is no big deal. Think nothing of it, they say. Being poor is not shameful in their eyes.

There is nothing scarier than knowing there is nothing to eat and no money to buy food. Poverty is painful, humiliating, and frightening. The big bad wolf is not merely at the door, he’s in the house.

Poverty isn’t limited to the lazy, drug users, or any particular group or class. It is part of the daily lives of the elderly, a familiar companion to anyone on a fixed income. It haunts the working poor, the disabled, and many who have been hit by “life accidents” from the closing of the plant where they used to work, to illness, fire, flood, or other calamity.

What all these people have in common is they have been assaulted and beaten by events over which they had no control. Government agencies are not user-friendly and frequently so rules-bound it’s impossible to live long enough to get help, even if you theoretically qualify.

The people who run food banks — the staff, organizers, local businesses and plain folk who work to make food available to those who need it — are unsung heroes. I would just like to thank you. You have kept many of us going when we had nowhere else to turn.

You’re the good guys and we need more of you in our world.

DAILY PROMPT: FEAR FACTOR – EEK!

I’m afraid of spiders. Not because they are dangerous, though some are. Not because of the potential toxicity. I’m afraid of spiders because they are creepy, make my skin crawl, and make me scream like a little girl.

Carolina wolf spider with spiderlings, large

EEK, I shriek and jump straight out of my chair with my heart pounding like a trip hammer. The loudness of my EEK and the hysterical pounding in my chest is in direct proportion to the blackness and largeness of the spider. Bigger is scarier. Big, black and hairy might actually kill me from sheer panic and irrational terror.

A friend of mine was attacked by a wolf spider while sun bathing on her patio in Arizona. The thing was the size of a small dinner plate (dessert plate?) and landed on her breast, then proceeded to take a chunk out of her. The pain was one thing. The fear was so intense she promptly sold her house and moved to a place where there are no wolf spiders. I’m with her.

Big Hairy Spider

But today, I am a warrior. I have power. I do not go EEK!

I went into my bedroom to change my clothing this afternoon. There, in the middle of my white blanketed bed was a medium-sized black garden spider. Did I scream in panic? Did I even go EEK? NO! I rallied my womanly strength, balled up my clean pink tee-shirt that I had just taken from my cupboard and squashed it. Kept squashing until it was nothing but a black smear of used-to-be-a-spider. Then, I put the tee-shirt on.

I went and told my husband. He gave me a proud thumb’s up.

I wear dead spider proudly. I am woman. Hear me roar.