Rabbit Holes

I saw an ad for “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” the TV show, which is strange. We generally watch recorded or streaming TV, so seeing an ad is rare, but this one got through. I loved that book in high school and was thrilled to find out it was made into a TV show. I searched to find where it was playing…Hulu. We don’t have that. Darn. Over a year ago, I saw an ad for “Lucifer” which looked like an interesting show, but I haven’t watched it because I didn’t want to find it on the satellite, record it, and watch it out of order. I did find it on Hulu then but couldn’t bring myself to pay $12 a month for one TV show, so I let it go. And now there’s Dirk! Two shows, probably more when I get there and look around. I signed up! My sons are thrilled because “Rick and Morty” is playing there as well.

So, we’re flipping through to find out all that’s on Hulu and my husband finds “11.22.63.” Conspiracy theories are a fascination for most of this family, but not me so much. I’d watch it just because it had time travel! We watched it over the week, grumbling about time travel paradoxes, the lack of planning, and problems with the story. It was still a good show. We like shows we can pick apart just as much as ones that thrill us.

A week later, I’m having lunch with my Dad (also an avid time travel fan) and he tells me it’s a much better book. Of course, it is, but I didn’t know it was a book. I go home, look up the book, and find it’s a Stephen King book! What?! Maybe I should pay closer attention to titles and credits. Why is there so much going on that I don’t know about?! I guess I’ve had my nose stuck in classic literature and history too much to see the awesome new stuff coming out. I bought it instantly, along with “From Here to Eternity.” It was mentioned several times in the TV show, so I figured it was important to read that too. My reading list grows exponentially.

So here I am, reading and already loving it sixty-two pages in. But here’s what I really came to write about.

At the front of the book is this,

“It is virtually not assimilable to our reason that a small lonely man felled a giant in the midst of his limousines, his legions, his throng, and his security. If such a nonentity destroyed the leader of the most powerful nation on earth, then a world of disproportion engulfs us, and we live in a universe that is absurd.” -Norman Mailer

First of all, the “assimilable” bothers me. I can’t pronounce it, no matter how hard I try.

Second, the universe is not absurd. We are. Everyone lives in a world made up in their own mind. The rules we follow, i.e. all the “you have to” statements, are created by ourselves and then we voluntarily follow them. Everything we do is a choice, even not making a choice is actually a choice not to act. “Reason” is subjective to each individual. So, yes, something like a single gunman just walking up to a powerful figure and gunning him down might throw you for a loop if you believed that individuals have no real power. But we do. We all do. We all have an amazing power within us, but we’ve all been conditioned to believe otherwise. Think of “Finding Nemo” when the clown fish tells all the mackerel to “swim down.”

What if we all stopped? What if every one of us started to believe that we had power over our own choices? What if when we saw a hungry person we fed them, instead of complaining that no one does? What if we saw an injustice and refused to comply, instead of going along because the authorities say it is the law? What if we felt that something was painful or making us unhappy or sick and we just stopped doing it, instead of complaining about the difficulties of doing it?

It really is all up to us individually. “They” have no power over us that “we” don’t give them. “It” has no bearing on us that “we” don’t give it.

Advertisements

Big vs. Small Business

Why do we vilify successful business owners and revere the failing ones? The battle between big and small business.

A large, successful business that employs people (paying them wages and providing insurance), pays taxes to the state and federal governments, provides a service or product at a reasonable price people are willing to pay, creates a clean and orderly place of business in a town, provides for his/her own family’s financial needs, is generally seen as a villain. Why?

A local family business that is barely making it for one reason or another, working long hours away from home, usually can’t support his/her family without another outside job or income), has no employees or very few part-time ones, can’t afford to pay for its employees health care insurance, typically has higher prices for products or services they have to beg the community regularly to buy (under the guise of ‘buy local’), is considered a good thing, better than that big business. Why?

I like small, local businesses that cater to a community. I like the used bookstore because I like old books. I go there regularly, but I can afford their higher prices for books most people don’t want. If I were a student or unemployed, I’d probably get the book at the library or buy it on Amazon for half the cost. I also like the small yarn stores where I can ask questions and handle the products. If they don’t have something I want, they can usually order it quickly, but I can afford those products. If I were working at minimum wage, I’d probably buy online or at Walmart.

My point is that we kind of need and want both. Big businesses have a purpose and so do small ones, but don’t vilify the big because you can’t make the small work.

Meditation & Prayer

Do you meditate? I had heard about meditation as stress relief for years before I actually tried it myself and now that I have, I can’t imagine not having that time each day. I only wish I had started doing it years ago, like maybe during high school!

Something I thought of recently was how similar mediation is to prayer. We don’t do meditation, we practice it and in the same sense I believe we should treat prayer in the same way. Let me explain.

I learned early that you can’t fail at meditation. No matter how long you sit there and focus on your breathing, you will eventually begin to let your mind wander away. At first, those wanderings come quite frequently. Each time we realize our minds have wandered, we take a breath and bring our focus back. It’s practice and with each repetition, we strengthen our focus muscles, just like any physical exercise. As we get better at it, we can use that throughout our day, not just during our meditation practice. As the day’s stress builds, our mind races, information overloads take shape, we can take a breath and refocus ourselves, calming our mind and make better decisions. It’s amazing.

Prayer is very similar. You cannot fail at it. Each day we come to our prayer space or time, we practice focusing on the Lord. We can light a candle, read or memorize scripture, write out prayers and gratitude, or just sit and relax in His care. This is our practice. We are building up our prayer muscles. Throughout our day, each time those stresses build or decisions need to be made, we can go back to that focus by remembering our morning practice or taking that deep breath and pray. Each time we do, the length of time between our prayers gets shorter and shorter. We become proficient at looking to God when we need help instead of letting the stress build up until we’re a blubbering mess ourselves.

Want to know where to start? There are loads of meditation apps out there. The first one I used was Calm https://www.calm.com/ It is not a Christian source. It’s definitely more of a Buddhist base but it does give you a good start if you don’t mind.

A Christian based one that I found very nice is Abide https://abide.is/ I haven’t used this one as much but I did enjoy it for a few months. I enjoyed the scriptural focus but felt I didn’t need as much guidance as it provided. After all, there are only so many apps I can pay for each month!

And for you skeptics out there, the ones that don’t want all the “hocus pocus” of spiritual enlightenment but would like to try out some meditations anyway, try 10% Happier. http://www.10percenthappier.com/ I’ve actually found this one to be the most help getting started and really learning how to use meditation on a daily basis. For those Christians out there, it’s definitely better than the Buddhist focused ones and it isn’t condescending either.

All these apps charge a monthly fee but have a free trial portion. I’ve found the fees to be reasonable and VERY much worth it.

The Bible & Control

A “dishwashing” thought.

If the bible was created to control people, as some non-believers think, then why would the early religious leaders (after the first churches) stand between the people and scripture? Why would they not encourage people to read it for themselves if the words clearly pointed only to “obey your masters”? Only in relatively recent times have lay people been encouraged to know the bible for themselves.

Reaching For My Father

I raged at God this week and the complete unfairness of it all, much like a child rages about being asked to put down the game and come along to the grocery store. I had some errands to run, post office, grocery store, etc. I got in my truck on the verge of tears, started it, and headed for the driveway, punching the gas and spinning the tires as I pulled out onto our dirt road. I yelled and screamed, hit my steering wheel (which hurt), tears pouring down my face, sobbing. I turned the corner way too quickly and started to swerve, just like I’ve told my sons not to do on purpose. I righted the truck and slowed down, stopping just before the pavement. It felt good to drive recklessly, to do something at least slightly “dangerous.” When I was a kid I wanted to drive race cars just to see if I could. I always loved driving and believed myself to be pretty good at it.

Sitting on the side of the road, I hung my head and just cried out loud, deep heavy sobs, as if my heart was breaking. I felt it was and it wasn’t fair. What’s the point? Why do all the things you are supposed to do if the end result doesn’t come out like it is supposed to? Why can’t life come out like a math problem, 2 + 2 is always 4? Why did I bother leaving my “career”? Why did I get married and have kids? Why did I struggle to become a better person and try to do parenting better, loving better, being a better wife? I could have stayed in theater, designed shows, gone on tour, worked my way up. People may even know my name! And here I am, angry, looking at the future all alone. My children will grow up and leave me alone, my husband will probably leave this earth before me, and I’ll be sitting here with nothing left. No purpose, no outcome, just loneliness, and regret. Pretty depressing.

I just sat there and cried like a spoiled child. All that rage over what? I’ve had an amazing life so far. My family is wonderful and we have made some beautiful memories. “Blessed beyond belief,” doesn’t come close to this life compared to the one I left behind in the theater. I calmed myself a bit, still angry inside, and went to the post office to pick up a package because “through wind or snow or sleet or hail” doesn’t apply to three-quarters of a dirt road to my house. Yep. Still angry.

Next is the grocery store. I have a list. The next four days of meals listed along with ingredients I’ll need. Coffee and beer, for my husband. Milk and the granola bars that my younger son likes. Salsa for my older one who uses it as a vegetable. Everything planned out so that everyone has what they need…again. Someday soon I’ll have to adjust my shopping as my sons leave home and we’re left alone. I walk through the store. Seeing mothers with young children, I long for those days but want to walk up to them and say “Don’t bother trying to be a good parent. They’ll still grow up and desert you.” Yep. Still hurt and scared.

I load the groceries in the back seat of the truck and climb inside. I wonder if the people inside the grocery store were wondering what was going through my mind. Probably not, I come in here twice a week and I rarely catch the glimpse of recognition in anyone’s eyes. I might as well be a tourist passing through.

I stop. This is getting me nowhere, raging and pouting as if the world is coming to an end. I reach over the seat of my truck and pick up my package from the post office. I had ordered the book for a new bible study my friend and I we are going to do together. A new book of any kind usually lifts my spirits. I open it to see its cover, “All Things New.” It’s smaller than I thought it would be and very pretty. I’m reminded to pray, to seek my Father’s hand, so I do and I’m comforted.

I took out a pen and wrote these words inside the front cover.

“Change your attitude. Don’t make life difficult for everyone just because you aren’t getting your way at the moment. Pray for strength and enjoy what you have. The future is unknown. What you want right now but can’t have may be the worst thing in the world. Wait and see.”

Just like my Dad on earth has always done, my Father in Heaven is always there waiting to take my hand and comfort me the moment I reach out for help. He doesn’t hold my hand, he doesn’t insist on being visible, he doesn’t insinuate himself into my life to make sure I know he is there to control and save me from myself. He is just there, quietly waiting for me to ask for help and then kindly and lovingly comforting me. And when I do ask for help or reach out to connect with him (Dad and God), he is overjoyed to be part of my life, multiplying his blessings beyond what I could ever have asked for.

Parenting well is a wonderful example of God’s love. When I am at a loss, when I feel hurt, scared, or down-right confused about what to do next, I only have to look at my relationship with God to see an example and follow it. “What would Jesus do?” is not a rhetorical phrase in my book. It’s active and alive! At this stage in my parenting life, I’ll do what God does. I’ll walk alongside quietly watching them grow and become who they are meant to be. That includes the mistakes and pain, along with the joys and triumphs. And when they want me, when they need me and reach out to me, I’ll be there, like a handrail in the dark but with a whole lot of love wrapped up in it. It’s the hardest thing I’ll ever do but “With God all things are possible.” right? He’s comforted me in ways I never imagined possible and, if I can, I hope to pass that on to others, starting with my sons.

Following Politics

It’s all so bizarre. Facebook reminded me to follow all my state and federal representatives this morning, so I did. Instantly, my feed was full of boogeymen! “That guy is coming to get you! This woman is a monster! Look what awful things are happening here! And I am the only one between you and the nasty in the world! Let me fix this for you!” Ugg. How can they live with themselves every day? I suppose they believe they are helping the world, but I really think they are doing absolutely nothing. Or maybe worse, they are creating problems to fix and creating more problems. The whole world would go on rolling without them, and probably in a much better mood, if they just disappeared (other than their families, naturally). I’m speaking politically, not personally here.

Honestly, it’s enough to put anyone off their nut. They might as well come out and say “Gravity is deplorable! Death needs to be overcome! People out there might not have your best interests at heart! Don’t worry though! Give me money and your vote and I will keep you all safe. Ok, just most of your votes and then I’ll just put anyone in jail that doesn’t give me their money to do what we think is best to protect you from all the nasty things I’ve created to scare you!”

I love the internet and social media, but I sometimes wonder if it can be used for good without the bad. I wonder if people thought the same thing about newspapers and books when they became readily available? I suppose we’ll all get the hang of it eventually. Sometimes it wears me out how quickly and vehemently everyone online gets into scare and attack mode.

Making Mistakes

Has anyone in the history of the world ever convinced a person to not do what seems to them to be a big mistake in a way that is healthy for the supposed mistake maker?

“We learn more from our mistakes rather than our successes.” That’s what you always hear. And then we go around trying to make people avoid mistakes we see coming. But how can we know it’s a mistake for them?

What if we tried something else and just helped people? I know. It’s a strange thing, to do something different. I’m thinking of the definition of crazy here. We keep trying the same things over and over. Maybe the last generation didn’t do it right. Maybe I didn’t work hard enough at what my (insert authority figure) told me to do? Maybe if I just do the same thing they did but more, everything would turn out perfect? But what is perfect? What is good? What is normal, happy, successful? Doesn’t that change for every person?

I have an idea. How about when someone comes to us with a big plan, idea, or life-changing decision (maybe a child, husband, brother, parent, cousin, friend, anyone) and they are so excited about it, we just listen? We just sit there and hear the whole thing. We could ask questions about it, maybe offer our experience if we have any. We could even ask if they want help looking into it more, maybe we know someone we could put them in contact with or offer up a website or book we know of.

And then, here comes the hardest part, we let them (in a positive and pleasant way) do what they are going to do, live their life, learn and grow from their own experiences. This is really difficult. Watching someone you care about head toward something you have big reservations about is the most difficult thing you can do. Something we need to remember is that those are our reservations, not theirs. Our fears, not theirs. Everything about them is probably different than you. Who they are, when they live, personality, temperament, luck…all different. Even if they made every single choice you made to the letter, they wouldn’t come out the other end as the same person.

An amazing side effect of this may be that if it all goes to hell, you are there to love them through. AND if it all goes wonderfully and they become happy millionaires, famous for whatever, they come and share it with you because you were there for them.

There is no one that can avoid failure and pain. It comes with the territory we live in. What we can avoid is destroying our relationships and building walls between us.