when truths are exposed
judgement of others is swift
but what of ourselves?
by Melissa Kro.
My son is churning through Bizet’s “Les Toreadors” on his 3/4 tuba, stumbling over the high notes, huffing in frustration. He picks at a valve, sighs deeply, and begins again. Solo and Ensemble is a mere 2-1/2 weeks away and in his twelve-year-old mind, he is in deep.
Repetition is the key, we know as adults. Those things that drove us nuts in our younger years often formed the base of our habits, our goals, our desires. Our schools, sports, and activities forced us to show up, to cooperate and perform. Practice makes perfect, right?
Then we become adults and aren’t told what to do anymore. We have jobs and educational demands and the related responsibilities, but it is on us to meet those demands and our free time is just that, free. Generate a family, and things get even more complicated.
Years ago, I remember thinking, “what happened to me? I used to be so driven”. I was in my mid-twenties, newly married and not particularly interested in my career. Chris was in art school and working full time, and we were definitely not equipped to add children to the mix. I needed something structured, and upon the urging of a friend, we enrolled in graduate school together. Once again, practice, repetition, pattern stepped in and although stressful, life felt good. Whole.
Years or maturity have set in since then. I now understandthat keeping busy helps quell my propensity toward anxious thoughts. There are times when finding a goal and focusing on the next minute, hour, day is exhausting and all-consuming. Fortunately, a lot of life is good and pure and full of surprises despite the best laid plans.
As adults we can so easily lose our community. A cross-country move or one simply across town. An overwhelming job, a failed marriage, a troubled child, aging parents, demands interior and exterior to our own. Introvert or extrovert, we are inherently social beings. Can establishing patterns – perhaps in those things that bring us pleasure – make us whole and help draw us out of our shadows? I think so.
I am an A Minus/B Plus. This means that I need a plan, but not a mandate. I’m somewhat driven and kind of lazy but only in managed doses. I’m stubborn and rigid but kind and compassionate.
This writing experiment is an example of pattern and purpose.Words and notes and thoughts, it is my Bizet solo.
It’s Sunday night and the chores are done; dishes washed and dried, children tucked into bed, lunches packed and clothes laid out in anticipation of a new week. The tinny cackle of laughter from the downstairs television pings about the hallway. Here I sit, laptop ajar, combing my memory for those things I swear I would write about when I just had a moment.
Those moments are swept away in the everyday. I honestly don’t know where it all goes. Sure, I’m busy. We are all busy. Each week is a hurtle through space and time that accelerates ever faster. Or so it seems.
Why is it that time seems to pass more quickly as we age? A little bit of research tells me that we have two classifications of memory vantages: prospective and retrospective. Our prospective memory is filled with the here and now, the often mundane. The retrospective memories contain the highlight reel of sorts; new experiences, peak experiences. As children and young adults, we are doing and learning so many new things and our memory records thusly. When our daily experience begins to blend together, with many moments that are routine, our memory records fewer new points.
What is the lesson in this? More memories = longer (slower) perceived time.
Being present is difficult for me. There’s always something else that needs to be done. I never thought that my inner drive to get things done could impact my perception of life.
This one is To Be Continued…
Today the New York Times ran an editorial piece titled, “Why Rural America Voted for Trump”. Most articles and editorials that have anything to do with the election fallout (either way, mind you) have been splashed across Facebook or retweeted ad nauseum and like most folks I know, I have HAD ENOUGH. However, this piece popped up on my phone and I took the bait.
The author, Robert Leonard, is a native Iowan and self-professed somewhat liberal man who wants to understand just what makes up the difference between the masses that voted for Donald Trump vs. Hilary Clinton. He makes a lot of valid references to rural and city disparities, and further develops insight into the red/blue dichotomy within the geographic areas. Relevant points. I may be losing you here, since like I said before, most of us have HAD ENOUGH. Then I read this, which hit me square in the noggin:
For me, it took a 2015 pre-caucus stop in Pella by J. C. Watts, a Baptist minister raised in the small town of Eufaula, Okla., who was a Republican congressman from 1995 to 2003, to begin to understand my neighbors — and most likely other rural Americans as well.
“The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans believe people are fundamentally bad, while Democrats see people as fundamentally good,” said Mr. Watts, who was in the area to campaign for Senator Rand Paul. “We are born bad,” he said and added that children did not need to be taught to behave badly — they are born knowing how to do that.
“We teach them how to be good,” he said. “We become good by being reborn — born again.”
He continued: “Democrats believe that we are born good, that we create God, not that he created us. If we are our own God, as the Democrats say, then we need to look at something else to blame when things go wrong — not us.”
Now, put all of the election b.s. aside. Read that again, ignoring the party labels. Strip away the religion. Remove race, gender, age, ability, religion, education, wealth, etc. – you get the point – and we are just humans. Are we good humans, doing bad things and blaming others, or are we bad humans, trying to rise above our evil selves? We have all pondered the glass-half-full optimist and his pessimistic twin, professing polarizing views of the world around them. This goes even deeper, a core foundational philosophy that shapes how we see people and how we relate to them and the world that we share. Perhaps that is why I can’t stop thinking about it. Good People gone bad. Bad People gone good.
Do you believe that people are fundamentally bad, or fundamentally good?
Here’s the link: Why Rural America Voted for Trump – The New York Times .
Our Christmas/New Year’s/Winter Break holiday was less than optimal this go around. W. fell ill with a fever and sore throat combo on Monday, which morphed into hives by Friday and in the span of one week necessitated three doctor’s office visits. R. had his impacted wisdom teeth removed two days after Christmas, which resulted in some interesting moments for him and for us. When New Year’s Eve Day rolled around, I was itching to get out of the house and run some errands, leaving my loving family to lounge in their pjs and catch a break from my incessant nagging. Cabin fever is real.
My list contained grocery items (lemons, french bread, hot sauce), sparkling grape juice for toasting at midnight, and doggie odor neutralizer. Not a lot of fun, I’ll admit. As I made my way to the Frank’s Red Hot, a box of fortune cookies caught my eye. Into my basket they went. Except I didn’t have a basket; I have developed a habit of going into the store for a few things and exiting the store balancing many, many items. In fact, last summer I carried 90 pounds of VCT tile from the back of Home Depot to the register because I was in a hurry and didn’t need a cart. Alas, I digress. The fortune cookies tucked nicely between my chin and piled-high arms, and were ushered into our home for part of the NYE festivities.
We opened the fortune cookies and laughed at the absurdity of some. Soon you will be sitting on top of the world. This weekend will bring you a surprise. Yawn. Then I opened mine. You have prepared well. Your opportunity is coming. That old familiar stomach-twisting feeling came rushing back.
Fortune cookies and horoscopes and tarot cards have different meanings to everyone. One thing is universal, though – we can’t help but see what we want in them. It’s an irresistible urge for order, to make sense of what is messy or out of control or just wishful thinking. Desperate for a sign? You will find glimmers everywhere you look.
There have been times in my life when I was really planning for something. Reaching adulthood. College. A wedding. Graduate school. Jobs. Babies. Marathons. Pets. School activities. But it’s been a long time since I felt like I was functioning on a plan other than just keeping my shit together. (Working full time and attempting to meet a family’s needs is hard work). I am taking this little glimmer-of-a-message as the confirmation that this newborn journaling practice is p-r-e-p-a-r-a-t-i-o-n.
You have prepared well. Your opportunity is coming.
Here’s the kicker: your opportunity is always coming. Time marches forward. The trees go full and green, whispery and russet, naked and lonely, and then green again. Opportunities come every day and sometimes they are thinly veiled as choices. Have you prepared? Have you prepared well?