Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In Search of...a telling sign

I recently thought it a telling sign that Rocky Road has been my favorite ice cream flavor for as long as I can remember. Do I even have to wonder how this shows up in my life? Sure, I could point out the obvious: my music career, but the message was really driven home to me as I tried to open a window that was stuck yesterday afternoon, before the blinds came crashing down during my failed attempt, and before the rod that manipulates the blinds broke off and also fell while the window stubbornly remained closed.

That was the point at which I decided a glass of wine might be in order. Absent the Merlot I craved, I was left with the bottle of Manischewitz in the refrigerator - not was I was hoping for, but hey, beggars can't be choosers. And did I mention the computer virus on my "good" computer? This is truly a wonderful thing for a writer to have. Doesn't slow you down at all.

A lesser person would have just ended it right there for the day, but oh no, not me. After a few moments of tearful hysteria, I commenced the rehanging of the blinds while my father glued the pieces of the rod back together so I could rehang that, too. My window solution? Turn on the air conditioning, even if it is only March. The computer virus? Back up files on a hard drive and bring the dang thing in to be fixed somewhere.

Now, I could tell you that none of this fazed me, or that I was perfectly zen-like as thing after thing has gone wrong over the past few days, but who are we kidding?. The truth is I've been, at times, on complete meltdown, but that is a luxury none of us can really afford, and so, I put into practice the greatest take away I took from what might be lovingly referred to as a hippy-dippy workshop I took part in more than a decade and a half ago. Here's what I learned: You can be on complete meltdown and still function productively at the same time. This is a neat trick and possibly should be taught in elementary school to save us all a heap o' trouble later on in life. You can feel what you feel, but you have to take action in the direction of resolving the situation anyway.

And I'll let you in on my secret weapon in accomplishing this: friends. Call the ones who, though sympathetic, don't indulge helplessness, but rather, aid in finding solutions that can assist you. For instance, one friend found me every place to fix my computer within a 25 mile radius. My brother, God bless him, explained everything I needed to know about viruses and sent me all the malware links that would work. The blinds, well, they took some nifty "I can do this" affirmations while I stood precariously perched on the arm of the couch trying to rehang them. But I'm happy to say they are back up without looking too much the worse for wear.

Life throws all sorts of obstacles in our way. Some are small, like the blinds and computer; some are big, like illness and unemployment. It's not our circumstances that define us. It is how we deal with our circumstances in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

The same thing can be said of our government, our politics, and our policies. It is a telling sign of our character, both individually and collectively, how we handle the most trouble-ridden, poverty-stricken, help-needing people in our society. I am dumbfounded at "people of faith" who "don't want to give handouts." I'm not sure how you reconcile the teachings of Christ with a practice of letting people starve, ail, and die. But maybe that's just me. I subscribe to the trinity of beliefs that go something like this: there but for the grace of God go I, I am my brother's keeper, and we are ultimately judged by how we treat the least among us. If all that doesn't work, I also subscribe to the notion that karma's a bitch. Yes, these are the fundamental ideas I live by.

It is easy to give credibility to the negative. It seems so pervasive today. I'm not sure that I've ever seen a more hostile and selfish time in history. But I also know that there is an equal and opposite reaction to that as well. So if there is greed and hostility, then there is also the flip side; generosity and kindness. We just don't get those stories in the news. We love to build people up and tear them down. We want things to be different, but we don't want to be different.

So I encourage you today, to begin with a deep breath and a desire to be the opposite of the sign of the times. Be the one who lets the other guy who's signaling into your lane. Be the friend helping the friend who's on meltdown, the one who, through tears or no tears, takes action in the direction of fixing what's broken. Self esteem is gained only by doing that which we thought we couldn't, by developing muscles that heretofore have been atrophying.

I'm going to do this, too. Then, maybe Rocky Road won't be a telling sign of life choices, but rather, simply a desire for marshmallows and peanuts with my chocolate. It's the little things in life.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends. And have a great day!

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