FIRST, FORGIVE YOURSELF AND THE REST WILL FOLLOW – Marilyn Armstrong

One Sunday in church, Pastor’s sermon was about forgiveness. He asked everyone in the church to stand up. Then he asked those who had any enemies to sit down. Everyone sat down but one very old woman.

“You have no enemies at all?” asked Pastor.

“Not a single one,” she answered, nodding her agreement.

“Please, come up here and tell everyone how you reached such a great age without having any enemies,” said Pastor. A deacon accompanied the elderly woman to the pulpit and everyone in church applauded as she slowly made her way up the steps. The pastor adjusted the microphone.

“You must have done a lot of forgiving,” said Pastor. “Please, tell us your secret.”

The old lady smiled beatifically.

“I outlived the bitches,” she said.


Life marches on. You get older and after a while, you realize all the people you used to obsess over, the people who hurt you, are gone. By the time you pass 70, a lot of people have disappeared from your life. Good ones you loved and the evil ones you hated. The sickly ones with bad hearts.

Chickens come home to roost.

Crazy drivers meet their maker on a dark highway. Heavy drinkers, smokers, drug users find a sad end. It turns out that hating them was a waste of energy. Cancer, heart attack, and other diseases weed out people, the best and the worst, remorselessly and without no regard for personal qualities. Meanwhile, the older generation passes away, one funeral at a time.

Roaring Dam: Photo: Garry Armstrong

Time makes most of the fears and worries of living less important. It turns out, forgiveness is not about repairing relationships so you can be friends again. It’s all about letting go. Passing all that negative crap to your “higher power,” whatever that means to you. Acknowledging that you can’t fix everything and you might as well stop trying.

Realizing it’s not your job to fix it. It never was. Everyone told you that … even your mother, but you weren’t listening.

Shit happens. Some of it — unfair and unforgivable — happens to you. You can make it the center of your world and spend your life brooding and obsessing over it. Or, you can decide you won’t be defined by the worst stuff that happened to you — or the worst stuff you’ve done.

I know people who had wonderful careers full of honor and respect who lost their jobs and promptly declared themselves failures as if the one negative event — getting let go — negated everything which had gone before.

I know men and women who were abused as children who still define themselves as victims — 50 or 60 years later. They can’t let it go. I think — and I could be entirely wrong — that they are waiting for the chance to tell “the bad people” how awful they were. Get it all off their chest once and for all. The problem is, it doesn’t happen in real life. That’s movie stuff. In real life, the bad guys stay bad, never apologize, never admit they were wrong, never own up to anything.

Best choice? Love yourself. If you feel good about you, you can be pretty happy no matter what life throws at you. It’s that simple — and that difficult. If you begin the process of forgiving, forgive yourself first.

Forgive yourself for the mistakes you made, for the bad choices, the stupid decisions, the asshole(s) you married, almost married, allowed to mess with your head.

 

The jobs you screwed up, shouldn’t have taken, should have taken (but didn’t). The opportunities you blew. The unfinished manuscripts still lying dusty in the box in the basement, the unpublished stories that never went to an editor. The times you were wrong and didn’t apologize. Your failures as a parent, the books you didn’t read. All the “shoulda coulda woulda” you’ve accumulated.

If you throw it all out, you won’t eliminate all your problems. The money you don’t have won’t suddenly show up in your bank account. Youth and health won’t return. But, you don’t have to haul the past with you into the future and you can enjoy what you do have without obsessing over what you missed.

The sooner you do it, the better. Life isn’t forever, even if you live entirely on salad and never miss a day of exercise.

With a little luck, you’ll outlive the bitches.

GOOD TIMES, HARD TIMES, AMERICAN PROPAGANDA AND THE PAST – Marilyn Armstrong

I never thought America was the international good guy. Read far too much actual — not school — history for that. What I did think is that we had a fundamental sense of right and wrong and that when nip came to tuck, we’d do the right thing … and right had nothing to do with the Soviet Union, either. Remember, that Berlin wall came down when I was pretty young. I really thought — for a while until, like most illusions, it was shattered by reality — that the old U.S.S.R. might, without their antique soviet rulers, be free enough to make good choices.

I remember a world where people were more polite to each other and where however individually corrupt our pols were, they still believed in “the good of the country” above and beyond their individual agendas. That belief has been falling apart with the passing years. I really thought at least some of them cared. I wish I’d been right about that. We could use some caring.

This horror in which we live right now? It didn’t start with Trump. It started when we decided to create a nation, we would allow slavery and it was okay to slaughter the Natives. We sold our collective souls to the devil before we even had a constitution or anything resembling a country. Oh, we had a nicely written constitution and some idealistic people who did some good, sometimes, when they were allowed.

Overall? We have always owed our souls to whoever had the most money because that was what the slavery deal was about — letting the south keep slaves so they could hold on to their plantation and not (heaven forbid) have to actually work.

Standard Oil went half a dozen rounds with Theodore Roosevelt and theoretically, Rockefeller lost over and over in court, but really, he lost nothing. He literally laughed at the court rulings and nothing changed. J.P. Morgan had a good laugh too as TR tried to break up his ownership of the railroads and many other corporations.

Today’s Exxon is Standard Oil with a cooler name. It is bigger, uglier, and more ruthless than ever. Huge corporations never lose, not today or ever. Money is power.

I don’t remember that nearly perfect world, nor does Garry. Maybe only white middle-class people remember it. The rest of us were under no illusions about where we stood in the great scheme of things.

I do remember a world where there was more personal communication between people. There was also more opportunity to make progress in the game of life. Those opportunities have largely disappeared. The big corporations have bought out, sold off, or absorbed most (almost all) of the smaller organizations which had been the stepping stones for individuals trying to climb the ladder.

Today, we are feudal. If we are born a serf, we will die a serf.

There is an assumption by our kids including my granddaughter that we remember a perfect world.

We don’t. There’s a lot of assuming going on. Some old people want to remember that world. Maybe they lived in one of the white suburbs and never had to bump into a dark-skinned person and treat him or her as an equal.

Then again, maybe age has rosied their memories so now they remember what they wish it had been.

Yup. Lots of assuming going on.

I miss people being polite and talking — even arguing — together. I never believed our propaganda, probably because my mother and father didn’t believe it either. There’s a lot of youngsters out there who are so deeply ignorant they think the boomer generation destroyed the world. We did everything. Built the corporations, fought all the wars — even the ones that occurred before we were born.

All of the problems if this world were created by my generation. And probably yours, too.

The level of ignorance and stupidity going around the world is breathtaking. I think I’ve gotten past being shocked. Now, it’s closer to disgust.

War is never out of style. There has always been a war going on as long as I can remember, which goes back to Korea. I remember listening to the news of the war on the radio with my mother. I remember her talking about it, wondering why in the world we were there in the first place? What did we think we were going to accomplish? I must have been four or five, but I understood. How? Maybe it’s not my first life.

We destabilized Asia. That’s what we did. We are still trying to deal with the consequences. Mom was ahead of her time.

Then, later, I was in my mid-twenties. It was during Vietnam. There were protests and I was involved in some. Not most. I had a little one and a fulltime job, so there were time limitations.  I had friends, a husband, dogs, cats, and a house where sometimes it seemed the immediate nation congregated every evening. A lively social life.

I pointed out to my mother (like I had just discovered this, silly child) if we weren’t sending all that money to make war in Vietnam, there would be money to do things here, at home. Maybe we could do something about healthcare.

My husband and I went effectively bankrupt following my spine surgery and we had insurance. It didn’t cover everything and my surgery — and the four months in the hospital which followed — was wildly expensive. I remember asking Jeff if we didn’t pay them, would they take me upstairs and re-break my back? Because we couldn’t pay. We were going to have to pay them off, month by month for years to come.

Then Owen was born with two club feet. It was the final blow. Wiped out. We never rebuilt our finances. Even way back in the 1960s and ’70s, my issue was healthcare because everyone thought their work insurance was plenty. They hadn’t had a major medical crisis. They would learn.

But, I digress.

My mother raised an eyebrow and looked at me. She said:

Thus spoke my mother. Because cynicism isn’t always wrong.

I was taken aback. I thought she was being too cynical. But you know? She was right.

Wars end and the war-making money vanishes. Never does it go toward healthcare or education. It just disappears as if it never existed and no one seems to question it.

Just once more, I’d like to hear our politicians across party lines look for ways to do what’s best for the country and the people they serve.

GAME OF LIFE AND THE MEANING OF EVERYTHING – Marilyn Armstrong

I pick these up from Melanie B Cee at:

sparksfromacombustiblemind –
EMBERS FROM SOMEONE DOGGEDLY TRYING TO MAKE SENSE OF IT ALL

She gets them elsewhere so I’ll pass it upward and she can pass it forward or backward. Whichever. Chainmail has never worked well for me.

This is an interesting bunch of questions. I probably would have been more amusing with them when I was younger. I’ve pretty much settled down.

The Rules …

1] Leave the Permanent Questions [PQ] always in place PLEASE.

2] Reblog should you so desire

3] If you do reblog, a pingback would always be welcomed so l don’t miss it.

4] This is a non-tagger/ non-nomination game.

Today’s questions are perhaps a little bit more taxing, however, this is the way of life as we know it, and there is never anything wrong with a little bit of thought provocation is there?


Questions:


Q1] What is your take on ‘free will?’

I will restate something someone said to me many years ago. “Life,” she said, “is a room. There’s furniture there. You can sit on the sofa or a chair. Or even on the floor. But you can’t leave the room because that’s your room. And your life.”

Personally, I tend to view it more as a bus. We get on the bus when we are born and we go traveling. We don’t really know where we are going or when the bus will stop. We are not driving the bus and whenever we try to drive, we discover we actually don’t know how. Our attempts to drive are often rudely interrupted by a reality we didn’t expect. We can sit anywhere we like, enjoy the company of other travelers, and occasionally, when the bus stops for fuel, we get to wander around in some strange and new place if we so choose.

We don’t know how long the trip will take or exactly where we will end up. Somewhere. Hopefully somewhere we love.

The single thing we can never do is drive the bus. Whenever we are certain we are (finally) in control, we soon discover we are not. We have free will, but only to a point.

Q2] We all ask ourselves at one time or another what is the point?  So what is the point to our existence?

I’m not sure there IS a point.

Q3] What do you believe about Fate and Karma?

I don’t know. It depends on when you ask me. Mostly, I don’t know.

Q4] As a species, how do you think humans will become extinct or do you believe that we will not?

I think we will go extinct, but I also believe the universe will become extinct and the sun will blow up. Nothing lasts forever.

PQ5] What is your belief with regards the meaning of life?

Another “I don’t know.” Does life have a meaning? Or is life itself the meaning?

Q6] Ok, fess up, do you believe in aliens from outer space – is there really other life out there in the far-reaching galaxies beyond our own?

I assume there is something out there that is intelligent. I’m also pretty sure we either haven’t met them, or they dropped by, took one look, decided we were hopeless and left.

PQ7] What is your best quote for ‘living life?’

Life is short. Eat dessert first.

Q8] What doesn’t kill us – makes us stronger – yes or no? Explain.

That is one of those placebo explanations that people use when they don’t know what else to say. Many things ARE stronger than us and yes, it can and does kill us. Many people I loved are dead. “It” didn’t make them stronger.

Q9] What would you say have been your biggest successes in life?

Still being here when I’m pretty sure I ought to be dead.

Q10] If you could find out the exact time and cause of your death – would you want to know?

No.

Q11] Is it more important to help yourself, help your family, help your society, or help the world?

All of the above, but I think I’ve helped my family to the extent that I am capable of helping. I think I’d rather try and help our society, such as it isn’t and after that, what’s left of our world.

PQ12] If humanity was put on trial by an advanced race of aliens, how would you defend humanity and argue for its continued existence?

I wouldn’t. I think as a race we don’t deserve our world.

Q13]  What is the biggest waste of human potential?

Our overall stupidity.

Q14] We often see those that write ‘what would you say to a younger you?’ However, what would you say today to a future you?

I would run like hell. Anything I said would be a disaster. And undoubtedly wrong in every possible way.

PQ15] Why do you think that as a species, humans need to believe in something? Be this religion, fate, karma, magical, mystique and so on.

I don’t think we need to believe in something. Many people don’t and they are just fine. Right and wrong are not religious principles. They are part of our DNA.

Q16] If we could not retain any of our memories – who would we be?

Jellyfish.

Q17] Time is such an important part of our world, but do you think you would notice if time was altered in any way?

It would depend. Am I still in this world? Am I in a parallel universe? Am I suffering hallucinations? Dementia?

Q18] How important is playing in living a healthy and fulfilling life?

Critical to development. If we don’t play, we do not grow. It is during play that we learn to lose, learn to make deals, learn how to arrange life to suit our needs.

Q19] With no laws or rules to influence your behavior, how do you think you would behave?

Exactly the way I do now, except hopefully, with many fewer bills to pay.

PQ20] Are you deleting any questions, if so which ones?

Nope. Just went with the flow.

Q21] Should euthanasia be legal? Why or why not?

Yes, because I think if we believe a dog in pain needs to be let out of his misery, why would we be less kind to a human being? But that’s an opinion. Not a fact. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I will respect it.

SOMETIMES THE MAGIC WORKS – Marilyn Armstrong

So there you are, in your car on your to somewhere. The open road lies before you and you are cruising along at a comfortable 75 mph in a 60 mph zone. You aren’t worried. There are rules and then there are the “real” rules. Everyone speeds. The general rule of thumb is about 15 miles over the limit. Push it more than that, and someone might decide to ticket you, especially if it’s toward the end of the month and it’s time to fill up those books and hand them in.

You can usually get away with whatever you are doing — as long as everyone else in the lane is doing pretty much the same thing.

On this particular day, a car shot past me at what must have been supersonic speeds and cut me off and sped onward. It’s scary getting cut off at those speeds. It takes at least seven car lengths to nearly stop. To fully stop, add at least one more.

I breathe. I continue driving. There’s always some dickhead on the road who has something to prove.

About two, maybe three miles down the road, I see this same jackass pulled over by cops. He isn’t pulled over by one cop or even two. He sped right into a troop of police officers on their way to an event of some kind … and they ALL pulled him over. There are cop cars everywhere. Lights are spinning, sirens are wailing. This guy is doomed.

Everyone was writing a ticket. Dozens of cops. ALL writing tickets for different things. Dangerous driving. Speeding. Crossing lanes without a directional. Cutting off the police chief.

Whatever they could think of, he was getting a ticket for it. I figured it would be thousands of dollars before he found his way out of the storm into which he had driven.

He deserved it. I felt proud, yet somehow humble.

I looked at the police. I grinned at them. I popped up my thumb — and the cops popped up theirs. Karma.

Sometimes, the magic works.

FORGIVENESS AND OUTLIVING THE BITCHES

One Sunday in church, Pastor’s sermon was about forgiveness. He asked everyone in the church to stand up. Then he asked those who had any enemies to sit down. Everyone sat down but one very old woman.

“You have no enemies at all?” asked Pastor.

“Not a single one,” she answered, nodding her agreement.

“Please, come up here and tell everyone how you reached such a great age without having any enemies,” said Pastor. A deacon accompanied the elderly woman to the pulpit and everyone in church applauded as she slowly made her way up the steps. Pastor adjusted the microphone.

“You must have done a lot of forgiving,” said Pastor. “Please, tell us your secret.”

The old lady smiled beatifically.

“I outlived the bitches,” she said.


Life marches on. You get older and after a while, you realize all the people you used to obsess over, the people who hurt you, are mostly gone. By the time you pass 70, a lot of people have disappeared from your life. Good ones you loved and the evil ones you hated. The sickly ones with bad hearts.

Chickens come home to roost. Crazy drivers meet their maker on a dark highway. Heavy drinkers, smokers, drug users find a sad end. It turns out that hating them was a waste of energy. Cancer, heart attack, and other diseases weed out people, the best and the worst, remorselessly and without no regard for personal qualities. Meanwhile, the older generation passes away, one funeral at a time.

Time makes most of the fears and worries of life less important. It turns out, forgiveness is not about repairing relationships so you can be friends again. It’s all about letting go. Passing stuff to your “higher power,” whatever that means to you. Acknowledging you can’t fix everything.

Realizing it’s not your job to fix it.

Shit happens. Some of it — unfair and unforgivable — happens to you. You can make it the center of your world and spend your life brooding and obsessing over it. Or, you can decide you won’t be defined by the worst stuff that happened to you — or the worst stuff you’ve done.

I know people who had wonderful careers full of honor and respect who lost their jobs and promptly declared themselves failures, as if that one bad thing — getting fired — negated everything that had gone before.

I know men and women who were abused as children who still define themselves as victims — 50 or 60 years later.

If you like yourself, you can be pretty happy no matter what life throws at you. It’s that simple. And that difficult. When you start forgiving, forgive yourself first. For the mistakes you made. For the bad choices, the stupid decisions, the asshole(s) you married, almost married, allowed to mess with your head.

perfect path in the woods

The jobs you screwed up, shouldn’t have taken, should have taken (but didn’t). The opportunities you blew. The unfinished manuscripts, the unpublished stories. The times you were wrong and didn’t apologize. Your failures as a parent, the books you didn’t read. All the “shoulda coulda woulda” you’ve accumulated.

If you throw it all out, you won’t eliminate all your problems. The money you don’t have won’t suddenly pop into your bank account. Youth and health won’t return. But, you don’t have to haul the past with you into the future and you can enjoy what you do have without obsessing over what you missed.

The sooner you do it, the better. Life isn’t forever, even if you live entirely on salad and never miss a day of exercise. Then, with a little luck, you’ll outlive the bitches.

PASSING THROUGH – JUDY DYKSTRA-BROWN

Because you are you NOW, but who might you be in another time or place? Karma has long reach. No one is exempt from those sticky, curling fingers.


Passing Through

Do not jostle for your places, for you’re fully in our view.
We have the V.I.P. seats here in your cosmic zoo.
Perhaps you sense our presence, but there”s nothing you can do
to see us for it’s set up so we’re only viewing you.

We see who you turn into each time you’re born anew.
One lifetime you’re a Muslim, and another you’re a Jew—
your choice of birth determined by your placement in the queue.
It’s purely arbitrary which person will be you.

You might become the very thing that now you most eschew,
but there’s no one to object to. There’s no one you can sue,
for the world that you’re reborn to was made by folks like you,
and the life you’ve made for who you’ll be might be a life you’ll rue.

This revelation should not be coming out of the blue.
It’s one that’s often explained by the mystic or guru.
If you love this lifetime where the cat’s meow is you,
please hold onto your passport, for you’re only passing through.


The prompt today was passport.

Source: lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown: Passing Through

 

OUTLIVING THE BITCHES

One Sunday in church, Pastor’s sermon was about forgiveness. He asked everyone in the church to stand up, then he asked those who had any enemies to sit down. Everyone sat down but one very old woman.

“You have no enemies at all?” asked Pastor.

“Not a single one,” she answered, nodding her agreement.

“Please, come up here and tell everyone how you reached such a great age without having any enemies,” said Pastor. A deacon accompanied the elderly woman to the pulpit and everyone in church applauded as she slowly made her way up the steps. Pastor adjusted the microphone.

“You must have done a lot of forgiving,” said Pastor. “Please, tell us your secret.”

The old lady smiled beatifically.

“I outlived the bitches,” she said.


Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

That’s how I’m beginning to feel. Many, if not most of the people who done me wrong and about whom I used to obsess are gone. I’m not that old — not quite 70 — but as you age, you lose people. The ones with bad hearts, the heavy drinkers. The smokers. The ones who never learned to let go of anger. The strange ones who kept playing hockey with life, but refused to wear a helmet.

Chickens come home to roost. Crazy drivers meet their maker on a dark highway. Cancer, heart attacks, and other diseases weed out others. The older generation passes away, one funeral at a time.

The biggest baddest villain of my life was my father. I stopped talking to him long before he died. I wrote about his death before it occurred. Most people who got to know me in recent years and read my book assumed he was dead. He wasn’t dead — not physically — but he was dead to me. By the time he died for real, it no longer mattered. Other stuff, time rendered unimportant. When I look around, few of the people with whom I had a beef are still here. Time has made the rest irrelevant.

Forgiveness is not about repairing relationships so you can be friends again. It’s letting go of anger and grudges. It’s about passing the heavy stuff to your “higher power,” whatever that means to you. Acknowledging you can’t fix everything and realizing it’s not your job to fix it.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Shit happens. Some of it — unfair and unforgivable — happens to you. You can make it the center of your world and spend your life brooding and obsessing over it. Or, you can decide you won’t be defined by the worst stuff that has happened to you or the worst stuff you’ve done.

I know people who had wonderful careers who lost their jobs and promptly declared themselves failures. As if that one really bad thing — getting fired or let go — negated everything. I know men and women who were abused as children who are still defining themselves as victims 50 or more years later.

If you like yourself, you can find a way to be happy no matter what life throws at you. It’s that simple — and that difficult. When you start forgiving, forgive yourself first. For the mistakes you made. For the bad choices, the stupid decisions, the asshole(s) you married, almost married, allowed to mess with your head. The jobs you screwed up, shouldn’t have taken, should have taken (but didn’t). The opportunities you blew. The people who stabbed you in the back (you should have seen them coming). The times you were totally wrong and didn’t apologize. Your failures as a parent, the novels you didn’t finish or never started. All the “shoulda coulda woulda” you’ve accumulated.

If you throw that garbage out, you won’t eliminate all your problems. The money you don’t have won’t suddenly appear. Youth and health won’t return. But you won’t have to haul your past into the future. You can enjoy what you do have without obsessing over what you missed or lost.

The sooner you do it, the better. I wasted a lot of years hauling rubbish. Doing it sooner is better. Then, with a little luck, you’ll outlive the bitches.

My Karma Ran Over My Dogma

Somehow, despite all the weird and awful things that happen along the way, we end up where we belong. Destiny always takes us to the right road, even as we mourn for what could have been. This was too beautiful not to share.

lifelessons - a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

My Karma Ran Over My Dogma

IMG_0472 This picture was taken two sunsets ago from the porch of the beach house I’ve rented in La Manzanilla, Mexico. Not a bit of color editing has been done.

She felt the small disk glance off the steering wheel and land on her lap as they jolted over the rutted dirt road. She picked it off her leg before it was jostled off and onto the gray carpet covered with dirt, gravel and slips of paper containing quickly-scribbled lines of inspiration for future poems.  Quickly, she glanced at the words printed on its front. “My karma ran over my dogma.” What did it mean, this button she now stabbed back into the sun flap over the steering wheel of her dusty van?

She had thought it hilarious when she saw it pinned to the poetry sweater of the stranger at the reading at the L.A. coffee shop almost twenty years…

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I’LL BE A TREE

This prompt was offered just this past September. This was my response.


If I am reincarnated … if I am to go around the wheel again … I would like to be a tree.

72-cooperstown-ma_0451

I would live a long time at the edge of the forest, with my roots comfortably near the water and my tallest branching reaching up to welcome the sun and stars.

72-cooperstown-ma_195

Not a person. A slower life, measured in the time it take to grow a ring … no rushing, no running. No competition. The whispering companionship of others of my kind, growing with the world.

I want to be a tree.

 

ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART …

I went to live in Israel at the end of 1978. Garry was working and stayed, to no one’s surprise, in Boston. We saw each other once during that time, but he wrote me almost everyday. Remarkably, I didn’t see anything odd about it though since I came back to the U.S. in August 1987, he hasn’t written a single letter to anyone.

typewriter with glass sides -2Everyday I got a missive, typed on his newsroom typewriter, telling me about his day, week, what was going on in the news and his world. Telling me what a great person I am. It was a bushel of positive support. Given my circumstances living in Jerusalem with an abusive and none-too-bright jerk … it raised my spirits significantly and was the fuel on which I was able to keep going.

He came to visit for a week once. Interesting timing. It was my son’s (his Godson’s) Bar Mitzvah. Also the week the War in Lebanon started. Garry didn’t come alone, but was in the company of my son’s father (my first husband) — also Garry’s best friend.

The war came one night. We couldn’t go up North. Channel 7 — run then as now by a bunch of morons — refused to believe his scoop that a war had begun in the Middle East. Because it wasn’t on the wires yet. What IS the definition of a scoop?

Mass Broadcasters 12

So we didn’t get up north, but I toted him all over Jerusalem and Bethlehem — anywhere we could go without being blocked by tanks or troop movements.

When finally, my life in Israel burned to ashes, Garry was there to welcome me home and glue me back together. The rest, as they say, is history.

For just short of 9 years, I was across an ocean. Somehow we grew closer. Older, too. More appreciative of the relationship we had that somehow we hadn’t appreciated before I left.

Pretty soon (skipping past the complexities of him extracting one girl friend from his apartment and me getting a legal Israeli divorce while living in the U.S.), we got married.

We have rarely been apart for me than a few days since then, not counting my multiple incarcerations in hospitals for one or another near-death experience.

72-Portrait-Anniversary_4

Destiny. It gets you. You can run, but you cannot hide. I wasn’t running or hiding, but somehow, Garry and I kept passing each other on the way to yet another wrong relationship.

These days, I’m happy as a clam right where I am. Amazed that somehow, through time, space, and the weird twists of life’s path, we ended up where we belong. I’m not going anywhere. This time, it’s till death do us part.

LIFE LINES

The engines droned on and on as the fat-bellied plane continued on its path to a destination on the other side of the world. She was in a near stupor by now … the loud buzzing, the stuffy cabin, the narrow seats. It seemed the only defense was to slide into a state of fugue and let the hours slip away.

It took a little while before Maggie noticed the quiet little woman in the adjacent seat talking to her.

“I’m sorry, I was off in la-la land. What did you say?”

72-Sunrise-031815_01

The old woman smiled. “Hard to hear with all the noise. I asked you if you’d care to have your palm read. I have some small talent in such things … and I noticed you have an interesting pattern … Has anyone ever read it?”

“Oh,” she laughed, “Years ago when I was out in San Francisco. She didn’t know what to make of it because it didn’t make sense. She said I had the Sign of the Beast — whatever that means — but it didn’t matter because it was my left hand and I’m right-handed. But she wasn’t all that clear on the other hand either, so maybe she just wasn’t a very good palm reader.” She laughed again, a bit nervously.

The old woman raised an eyebrow. Maggie wondered how she did that. Raising a single eyebrow was so expressive, but she could never get one to go up without the other. Then, she sighed. “Which hand would you like?”

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Smiling, the woman answer “Your left. Of course. That is your soul. The right palm shows your life and events, but your soul … what you were given to do in this life … that is on your left.”

She looked at it for a long time then folded Maggie’s hand and wrapped her own hand around Maggie’s fist.

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“Your journey is long, complicated and unclear. You have power to change yourself and others, but many things, many people will take the power from you.” She looked sad.  Maggie twitched uncomfortably.

“Do you want to see the other hand?”

She shook her head. “No, it doesn’t matter. Yours is a unique path. Your story cannot be read on your hands. Or in the stars.” Then she became quiet, as did Maggie and the long miles drifted by in a loud buzzing of engines.

YOU’LL NEVER GET AWAY

Nothing really gets away. Everything I didn’t get at one point in life became part of my life in another way, some other time.

Autumn road to home

The choice I made to not go to Boston University in 1965 nonetheless had me living and working Boston twenty years later. Still here and not leaving anytime soon. The man who got away didn’t go far and has been my husband for 25 years.

Dirk Gently, in Douglas Adams’ “The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul” says “I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.” Douglas Adams had a point.

When life seems to be leading you along random paths, don’t be surprised to discover you’ve circled back and are just where you need to be.

DAY IS DONE. ME TOO

It was one of Those Days. Started out normal. We had to get up a bit early because I had a doctor appointment and even though we left plenty of time, we got out of the house a bit late. Time slipped away.

My appointment went fine. Next stop? Grocery store.

We couldn’t get to the store. There had been a fire. Or something. The street was closed. Not the whole street, just the couple of hundred feet in front of the parking lot. Other than the fire engine with the flashing lights, there was no hint of a fire, or any evidence of anything. No smoke. No injuries. No water on the street. No crime scene tape. A blocked street where we needed to go. They were allowing cars to drive through from the other direction. So there was no legitimate reason we couldn’t go a few dozen feet to Hannaford’s parking lot. But nope, we had to take the detour.

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Uxbridge not being a real city, a detour isn’t a quick trip around a city block. We were in Douglas before we could start looping back to town. By which time they had parked the fire truck and there were no official obstructions.

Shopping concluded, leaving town was our next trial. Civic excitement is rare in our little town, so everyone had to take a long look at the … what? Fire? Crime scene? False alarm? One of the rubberneckers was riding a bicycle. We were behind him, trying to drive at 1 mph. As soon as we (finally) got around him, someone pulled out of a side street, slowed down to about 10 mph. Directly in front of us. We crawled home. Karma is.

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Groceries unpacked. Television turned on. Surprise! Half our premium channels aren’t working. “Temporarily Off the Air. Try Again Later.” I call Charter. They’ve been having a bad week too and this is my third call in two days. Any day I have to call Charter is not a great day.

After a long hold, the agent assures me they are merely doing (more) repair work, but hope it will be finished any day now. They’ll call when it’s finished. Maybe even today. I go to make dinner and step in a pool of dog pee. I don’t know which of the little furry menaces did it, but I don’t get it. Why? They’ve got their own door and it isn’t even raining.

Eventually, dinner having been served, eaten, and cleared, the phone rings. Charter (recorded message) says “Repairs are complete, thank you for your patience.” But it is not fixed. Half the hi-def channels are “Temporarily Off the Air. Try Again Later.”

Any day on which I have to call Charter once is not great. Twice? Very bad. They tell me to reboot. They send a repair signal. My channels do not come back. They can’t get a tech here until Thursday.  I am grumpy, but make the appointment. I need to write it down, so I turn on the light.

The bulb explodes.

My day is done.

OUTLIVING THE BITCHES

One Sunday in church, Pastor’s sermon was about forgiveness. He asked everyone in the church to stand up, then he asked those who had any enemies to sit down. Everyone sat down but one very old woman.

“You have no enemies at all?” asked Pastor.

“Not a single one,” she answered, nodding her agreement.

“Please, come up here and tell everyone how you reached such a great age without having any enemies,” said Pastor. A deacon accompanied the elderly woman to the pulpit and everyone in church applauded as she slowly made her way up the steps. Pastor adjusted the microphone.

“You must have done a lot of forgiving,” said Pastor. “Please, tell us your secret.”

The old lady smiled beatifically.

“I outlived the bitches,” she said.


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That’s how I’m beginning to feel. Many, if not most of the people who done me wrong and about whom I used to obsess are gone. I’m not that old — just 67 — but as you get older, you lose people. The ones with bad hearts, the heavy drinkers and smokers.

Chickens come home to roost. Crazy drivers meet their maker on a dark highway. Cancer, heart attack, and other diseases weed out others. The older generation passes away, one funeral at a time.

The biggest baddest villain of my life was my father. I stopped talking to him long before he died. I wrote about his death before it occurred. Most people who got to know me in recent years and read my book assumed he was dead. He wasn’t dead — not physically — but he was dead to me. By the time he died for real, it no longer mattered.

Other stuff? Time made it unimportant. When I look around, few of the people with whom I had a beef are still here. Time has made the rest irrelevant.

Forgiveness is not about repairing relationships so you can be friends again. It’s letting go, passing stuff to your “higher power,” whatever it means to you. Acknowledging you can’t fix everything and realizing it’s not your job to fix it.

Shit happens. Some of it — unfair and unforgivable — happens to you. You can make it the center of your world and spend your life brooding and obsessing over it. Or, you can decide you won’t be defined by the worst stuff that has happened to you — or the worst stuff you’ve done.

I know people who had wonderful careers full of honor and respect who lost their jobs and promptly declared themselves failures. As if that one really bad thing — getting fired — negated everything that had gone before. I know men and women who were abused as children who are still defining themselves as victims 50 years later.

If you like yourself, you can be pretty happy no matter what life throws at you. It’s that simple. And that difficult. When you start forgiving, forgive yourself first. For the mistakes you made. For the bad choices, the stupid decisions, the asshole(s) you married, almost married, allowed to mess with your head.

The jobs you screwed up, shouldn’t have taken, should have taken (but didn’t). The opportunities you blew. The people who stabbed you in the back (you should have seen them coming). The times you were totally wrong and didn’t apologize. Your failures as a parent, the novels you didn’t finish. All the “shoulda coulda woulda” you’ve accumulated.

If you throw the garbage out, you won’t eliminate all your problems. The money you don’t have won’t suddenly appear. Youth and health don’t come back. But you don’t have to haul the past with you into the future and you can enjoy what you do have without obsessing over what you missed or lost.

The sooner you do it, the better. I waited too long, wasted a lot of years. Sooner is better.

Then, with a little luck, you’ll outlive the bitches.

PERFECT CIRCLE – TEEPEE IN ITS SEASONS

Daily Prompt: Karma Chameleon

by Krista on February 12, 2014

Photographers, artists, poets: show us CIRCLE.

My teepee, from its first day, all shiny and white, to it’s nearly final winter, rimed with ice and snow.

Other entries:

  1. Sight and sound of a cemetery | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  2. Karma By Another Name | The Jittery Goat
  3. Karma | Momma Said There’d Be Days Like This
  4. Daily Prompt: Karma Chameleon | Journeyman
  5. The Circle of Time – Daily Prompt | alienorajt
  6. Circle | Mara Eastern
  7. Daily Prompt: Karma Chameleon | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice
  8. cyclical not seasonal | peacefulblessedstar
  9. Daily Prompt: Karma Chameleon | The Wandering Poet
  10. slightly less | yi-ching lin photography
  11. there is room to do | y
  12. Who Watches The Watchmen? | The Dragon Weyr
  13. karma and unsought gifts | gaikokumaniakku
  14. Wednesday Words | Tommia’s Tablet
  15. Karma… We Need to Talk | Under the Monkey Tree
  16. Daily Prompt: Karma Chameleon « Mama Bear Musings
  17. Vengeance | A mom’s blog
  18. In a Circle | Ana Linden
  19. Circle | Sounds of Time
  20. Daily Prompt: Karma Chameleon | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss

Life 101

Someone asked me what lessons I learned in life. It seemed like there would be a lot of answers to that question but actually, after I really thought about it, I realized there’s only one lesson. It comes in many forms and wears a variety of disguises and costumes. It seems, on first glance, a simple lesson yet it is the hardest to accept probably because it is a lesson we don’t want to learn. We resist it, fight it, wrestle until we are bloody, beaten and crushed. It’s not what we were promised. It is entirely contrary to what mom and dad told us when they said we could do or be anything if we tried hard enough.

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It turns out that we aren’t the drivers of the bus that is our lives. We are passengers and whether we get a window seat or find ourselves scrunched up at the back with lots of other riders, we are far from the driver’s seat. We have not been advised of the itinerary or destination nor do we know the schedule or even if there are stops along the way.

We are free to ask the driver to take us where we want to go. If the driver complies, we assume this shows we are in control. If the driver goes somewhere completely different, we blame ourselves, the world, our parents, fate, whatever. After all, when things go wrong, it has to be someone’s fault, right?

But no one is at fault. Life happens. If life treats us gently, we are happy to take credit for our great planning and skill in life management. If things go poorly, we look around to see who we can blame.

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Control is our fondest, most beloved illusion. As thinking beings, we are irrevocably committed to making a good faith best effort to accomplish whatever we set out to do. If our goals align with what life intends for us, we get to accomplish some of what we planned. Regardless, sooner or later, we learn – easy or hard – we are not in control, never were, nor ever will be. Life is not a course we plot on a map. It’s not a route laid out with appropriate stopovers along the path.

Life simply is.

That’s the lesson. Where life takes us, that’s where we should be and where we need to apply our efforts. Our greatest success won’t be the result of how successfully we manage our lives but how well we take advantage of the opportunities and challenges life throws at us.

Free will is a limited franchise. Our life takes place in a designated space within which we have some options: we can sit in this chair or on that sofa. We can look out the window or chat with whoever is sharing our space. But we are not moving to another room. That’s the essence of Karma.

Your real task is to find satisfaction with what life gives you. Otherwise, you will waste your days pining for what will never be, angry because it isn’t what you want, and depressed because you feel cheated. There is always some good stuff going on, no matter how difficult it may be to find. This is not the answer anyone wants to hear. It seems so unfair.

Fair or not, this is the answer and the lesson. You are not obligated to like it. You are required to deal with it.