In ReVUE.

What can I say…I did not watch the ball drop at midnight, I imbibed no alcohol, I did not situate myself amidst major crowds, I am…boring.

I played Words with FRIENDS, beat my mother for the 6th straight game, wrestled with both my boys, and cuddled my pug till  fell asleep at 10 pm.  I was at work at a gas station bright and early, listening to large groups of men complain about their lives, wives, town, and occupation.  FUN  Then another group comes in, spending their whopping 75 cents while discussing their upcoming colonoscopies and the prep they must endure to undergo such procedures.  I wanted to scream at them that I have done at least 6 of them in my life in the last 10 years, but I opted to keep quiet this time and simply observe.

I watched this morning as the Facebook posts reiterated the plans people have for the upcoming year.  I have made no plans, no definite ones anyway.  I have things I would like to see happen, but I find if I make the plans, they have a tendency not to come true and then I am left feeling guilty about my lack of initiative.  I have hope for the first time, I think the first time I can remember.

It has been a whirlwind of a 2012.  I can honestly say that I have learned more this year than in years past.  So, what did I learn?

Well, graduating from Seminary does not mean that one has an instant pass around the Monopoly board.  There are many hoops to jump, some man-made, some that require time and contemplation.  At the end of 4 years, I have read more, analyzed my psyche’, written more papers, and questioned myself more than I have in any other year.   What I thought I would be doing, where I thought I would be going, I am not.  Fortunately, the ride is taking me some amazing places, so I ought not complain.  Although the planner in me would like a bit more control…

Family is not what I thought it was either.  I am not sure what my definition is, but suffice it to say that what I thought and the reality are 2 different animals.  I have people to whom I am related that I have not had contact with in decades.  There are immediate family members with whom I have not talked with or interacted since 1993.  I find that sad, but am coming to a different conclusion.  I also have other family members that I can go months without speaking to them, I hear about what they are doing, but there is no conversation.  I find that sad too.  However, I think I may be growing up a bit.  The other day I said aloud that I was done trying to put myself on someone else’s radar.  It hit me that the only one who suffers when I try to do that is me.  If I am not on the radar to begin with, their life is unaffected and unruffled in relation to my existence one way or another.  If I try to place myself in a position where I may be noticed, whether with affirmative or negative responses, the only one who gets hurt is me.  They still remain unaffected and I am left holding the empty bag of my expectations.  That was a rather painful realization to come to this week.  That means there will be a response…I will withhold my connections with those people and wait for their cue.  Am I a horrible person?  No.  We just do not see life in the same manner and I am sick to death of trying to make myself fit every stinking mold out there so that someone else feels comfortable with me.  To quote Popeye “I am what I am.”

Family looks different…there are people who have traveled hours to see me preach, they did not have to do that.  I have people at the station where I sub who have asked me to officiate their weddings.  I have 2 scheduled for 2013 already.  Preacher ME!  I have brothers and sisters who have no blood relation to me, but who chose to have more to do with me than my family.   That is by their choice, not my force.  They have shown me time and again what community looks like.  WE are willing to climb in the muck with one another and get dirty…and love each other through it.

My boys are the 2 most precious and best things I have ever done.  Sometimes I struggle with how I am doing as a mom, priorily learned methods of parenting sneak into my head, but I work like a dog to make sure they are loved.  Not a day goes by that I do not tell them at least a million times that they are loved.  I hope it is enough to cover them when I fail to live up to all they think I am.  It is amazing to see how they are coming into their own and becoming the people they are meant to be.  It is also humbling to see some of my personality visited on them…that mother’s curse is certainly alive and well in these two.

Health is something that has plagued me the last 38 years and it looks like I may have a handle on it…FINALLY!  From my past biological parents, I had suffered a lot of internal damage which causes much inflammation and scarring.  To make a long story short, there was not a day that I did not double over with stomach pains, cramping, and a host of other issues.  I have had every colonoscopy in the book, eaten radioactive eggs, done more barium drinks than I can count, and had most of my insides that are not major organs removed.  All that is left are those that HAVE to be there and my appendix.  I entered into a drug study as a guinea pig and it looks like the drug is actual drug and not placebo.  You have no clue the relief I feel not having a stomach ache every single day.  I told a good friend the other day that I was ready to give up, I was ready to give in and let it overtake me.  I will write more about that later.  From the physical sense, I felt trapped in a body that would not let me do what I wanted, did not give me the energy that I needed, and I wanted nothing more than to crawl into my blankets and lose myself.  I still have a ways to go to heal all the damage that has been done, and a good share will never be healed, but I feel better than I have in years and actually look forward to next year at this time.

Understanding people alludes me, but I am learning.  I am more apt to listen and watch than I am to respond.  I am choosing more carefully what I respond to and in what manner.  As a candidate for Ordained Ministry in the United Methodist Church, I hold to the concept of Social Justice with all that I am.  I am watching closely what I see and discerning what I hear and what my response should be.  There will be times of action, of contemplation, of learning, and of surrender.  I hope that I am wise enough to know the difference and to heed the counsel of those I trust.  More times than not, my impassioned heart and mouth can get the better of me, I need to temper that with quiet confidence and allow that to lead.  As I age, I am less tolerant of intolerance and find those who intend to hurt simply because they can not worth my time or energy.  I am coming into a more working knowledge of what ADVOCATE means.

2012 has taken me for a ride…catapulted me to depths of understanding and confusion that I did not think possible.  There has been loss, joy, frustration, forgiveness, understanding, and resignation.  I am more hopeful for this year…I am gonna try and just BE for a while and see how that goes.

SHALOM

cahl

 

 

I Got YER Back

So the title motivates many a conversation.  Is it supportive, truth, a platitude we throw one another and never have any intention of following through on as we speak it?  I tussle with that as I contemplate my place in family, business, faith, and community.  What does that look like?  Maybe I am the only one that thinks through these ideas, but I recently posted a question on my Facebook that has generated some response.  I asked:  why do people do “good” things for others…is it because we are so motivated and cannot help to do so, or is it an ulterior motive? Please answer and provide rationale…..there is an ulterior motive to my question.

The responses were quite varied.  From some who admitted that there is always an ulterior motive (altruistically or not) to what we do.  Some contend that it is unavoidable, others contend that it is a “given” or that others are “programmed to serve”–it comes naturally without thought or regard as to what they may or may not attain as a result.  I think this an intriguing concept in this day and age.  As I contemplate the current political and social atmosphere, this ideology of community has been lost.  I wonder about that. 

I have been a teacher for many years and one the “perks” of the teaching world (be mindful the age-long debate of adequate compensation will NOT take place here) is that there are some days that teachers have for either sick leave, medical leave, and if lucky, there are 2 days available as “comp” days.  Often there exists a chance to contribute to the bank of days that are available in the event a serious illness or family situation arises.  I never batted an eye when it came to whether I would donate 2 of my days to the bank.  It never crossed my mind that others would question the concept either, it is interesting to note how many deem this an uncommon practice.  It baffles me, actually.  As I speak with people in my parents’ generation, I am shocked by the reticence contained in their reasoning as to why they would not donate.  It does not even cross their mindset that a donation of such magnitude would exist.  Interesting.  I asked my mother one time what she would do and she remarked that she would keep each day for herself.  I speak with young people my same age, (keep nearly 40 age jokes to a minimum) and the idea that they would come along another is unheard of, it does not exist.  Regardless of what one believes about health care, the idea that I would contribute to a common “pot” in order that more benefit seems contrary to most of my generation.  The idea that someone, anyone would be in need and that I could contribute is an honor.  The idea that I would not come along and meet a need, no matter how slight or the plight never matters.  It simply does not register for me to consider another option.

This idea of community is one I continue to explore.  What is that?  If I look at the denotation for the word community, it is one of a unified group of people striving toward a common cause.  From a connotative exploration, it implies so much more than that.  It implies relationship and giving and a natural offspring of that is acceptance.  Acceptance of what exactly?  Is it receipt of said relationship and giving and so much more?  If one extends the hand and it is not accepted, what does that do to the other?  Is it a slap in the face? 

I am guilty of such an action.   I look back at the last statements and paragraphs I have penned and am shamed.   Not shamed necessarily, but conflicted.  Hiding behind the well constructed sentences and verbage is often the easiest course of action when I come upon a subject matter that is too close to heart.  I can tell the stories of others and loved ones with passion and vigor and I am uber-joyed to do so.  Yes, I said uber-joyed, I love that term-uber.  The reality is that I do not have a clue as to how this community thing works.  Yup, I just admitted the great and powerful cindy does not always have a clue.  There is a scene in the musical, RENT.  Roger and Mark are screaming at one another, Roger about to leave the group and head to parts unkown in San Fransisco, he has sold his guitar, left the woman he loves, and is ready to wash his hands of the whole community that enveloped him.  Mark, the ever-observant narrator calls him on his shit.  Yup, I just said shit, too.  When confronted, the two clash–makes for wondrous dramatic interludes.  The comments from both in this moment are so raw, so real. 

Mark “For someone who’s always been let down, who’s heading out of town?”

Roger “For someone who’s longed for a community of his own, who’s with his camera, alone?”

Ouch.  Busted.  In walks Mimi, Roger’s intended, his soul.  “You don’t want baggage without lifetime guarantees.”  Anyone else feel the emptiness there?  I do and I can hear the pain in those interactions.  It is not simply a moment of Cindy living vicariously through an outstanding musical theatre experience, (thank you Jonathon Larson) I willing to admit it is as part of my heart’s cry.  I believe, furthermore, that I am not the only one to feel that.  Humor me some more as I reveal more of this RENT (ed) motif. 

MARK
Don’t Breathe Too Deep
Don’t Think All Day
Dive Into Work
Drive The Other Way
That Drip Of Hurt
That Pint Of Shame
Goes Away
Just Play The Game

You’re Living In America
At The End Of The Millennium

You’re Living In America
Leave Your Conscience At The Tone

And When You’re Living In America
At The End Of The Millennium
You’re What You Own

ROGER
The Filmmaker Cannot See

MARK
And The Songwriter Cannot Hear

ROGER
Yet I See Mimi Everywhere

MARK
Angel’s Voice Is In My Ear

ROGER
Just Tighten Those Shoulders

MARK
Just Clench Your Jaw Til You Frown

ROGER
Just Don’t Let Go

BOTH
Or You May Drown

You’re Living In America
At The End Of The Millennium
You’re Living In America
Where It’s Like The Twilight Zone

And When You’re Living In America
At The End Of The Millennium
You’re What You Own

So I Own Not A Notion
I Escape And Ape Content
[What You Own lyrics on http://www.lyricsreg.com%5D

I Don’t Own Emotion – I Rent

MARK
What Was It About That Night

ROGER
What Was It About That Night

BOTH
Connection-In An Isolating Age

MARK
For Once-The Shadows Gave Way To
Light

ROGER
For Once The Shadows Gave Way To
Light

BOTH
For Once I Didn’t Disengage

MARK
Angel- I Hear You- I Hear It
I See It- I See It
My Film!

ROGER
Mimi I See You– I See It
I Hear It- I Hear It
My Song!

MARK (On the phone)
Alexi – Mark
Call Me A Hypocrite
I Need TO Finish My
Own Film
ROGER
One Song-Glory
Mimi
Your Eyes

mark
I QUIT!

Dying In America
At The End Of The Millennium
We’re Dying In America
To Come Into Our Own
And When You’re Dying In America
At The End Of The Millennium
You’re Not Alone
I’m not Alone.

Oh, dear readers, let those lyrics slide over you, let them engage who you are in your souls.  Listen to the essence in those words, hear the admission of community, the need, the desire for connectedness.  The chance to give oneself a break and live in the moment and to accept not a hand out, but a hand up!  There is such a difference, I have to believe there is a difference.  Whether I admit it or not, this fierce independence is killing off my individual essence and the chance to connect to a community.  Wow, that realization just hit.  I am part of a generation and a society so stilted to do it on their own, to accept help from no one and to help no one that we are dying.  We are dying to know self.   I keep telling  myself, “Just keep truckin, keep working, achieving, choke down emotion…RENT….don’t own emotion.  Don’t own it, RENT IT.”  Ah, how wrong I am, how wrong we are to do this to one another.  I hurt for this concept.  Hear the cry we are sending out….from people desiring the instant fix, the disconnection with real emotion, the inability to love one another…what are we doing?  Why are we smiting our communal noses in an effort to remain disengaged, unfeeling, and safe?  Why are we killing each other with words of hatred, bullets of shame, and isolation?  Why do we accept it as status quo?  Because it is what we know.

You know, the risky and ballsy move is acceptance…not insolance, but redemption.  Renewal is terrifying, it is easier to destroy than to create.  Creation takes time, vigilance, blood, and tears.  It is some of the most painful and rewarding work I understand.  To shake myself from a peaceful and stagnate existence into one that embraces community and a like-minded journey reveals me for what I am.  Scared.  Yes, from the self-proclaimed egghead, know-it-all, enough German to be a stubborn butt…I admit, I am scared.  I have no idea what community looks like when I embrace it, I know only the fly over crop dusting that is rental.  What a sham.–note that I said sham…not shame.  There is no shame in admitting being scared, there is shame in knowing that there is something different out there and doing nothing to embrace it and making it available to others.

What do I glean from this moment of creation….I have much to learn and I am not ashamed to tackle what that means.  It means that maybe I have made a first step in changing a mode of thinking I have ingrained in my understanding for nearly 38 years.  It means, maybe, just maybe…I’m not alone.

shalom,

cahl.

 

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