The Easy Button

easy-button

When friends stop showing up, it’s not because they are not good people, it’s because they don’t know how to sit with you in your pain says Glennon Doyle.

Sitting silently. 

Not judging.

Not advising.

Just presence.

We call it unconditional love.

As we age up in life we become acquainted with new arenas of suffering, like gladiators, we enter the stadium alone, unarmored, vulnerable. You look around and wonder where the hell is Russell Crowe?

I am not really into setbacks, hang nails, or snafu’s of any kind.

And now our friends are giving up bread, not drinking during the week, and fasting.

What the hell is going on here?

Is it me or is the planet rotating much faster then say thirty years ago?

I get up in the middle of the night and I’m actually dizzy? What I need is bread, butter, and single malt whiskey over ice. That’s right, I’m living on the edge, when I really should be afraid of heights.

All of a sudden I find myself lamenting about real or imagined pain instead of yammering about fashion trends and the Doobie Brothers. I used to laugh when my parents got together with friends and all they did was talk about their “issues.”

I don’t think this was what they meant when they say we’ve arrived?

What they don’t tell you is just when you crest the mountain, this troll with a linebacker complex takes you out, and you sort of free fall, bouncing off the jagged boulders, until you hit the canyon floor with an ugly splat. We call this aging?

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride! Hunter S. Thompson

Speaking of rides, I just got done with spin class, and believe me when I say I’m totally worn out, but nowhere near the, “Wow – what a ride” claim.

My body has major design flaws, I think it was an evolutionary bungle when we started walking upright, a small step for man, a huge step for chiropractors.

In fact my ears and eyes are underperforming as well.

“The brain cells that produce pain get better and better at producing pain.” Lorimer Moseley (what a loaded statement)

Just to be clear, I’m not a high maintenance person, I’m sensitive, it’s more of a spectrum issue, and that’s why I need what Glennon Doyle describes as an easy button. You know the ones they sell at Staples, something I can push when absolutely necessary, I’m sort of enamored with the idea. Aren’t you?

Aristotle says anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – and let me just say that’s my power.

Here’s what went down. Larry sent me a text, “we were charged $103 today for your gym membership.” (I suspended my membership over the summer, try not to judge, I was relaxing at the lake, and who can be two places at once?)

For context, I had my granddaughter with me, her school let’s out at 1:30 on Tuesdays, and they’re still trying to secure daycare. I have already gone to the grocery store twice, made play dough, shared my entire tiny box collection, and finally resurrected an old tea set. As Audrey spills water all over the kitchen floor I’m making a caprese salad.

I reply, “Yes, I’m back.”

He texts me back immediately with a very passive aggressive message, “so you’re planning on using the gym? I wasn’t sure?

I write, “duh,” I’m sort of busy mopping up the floor, shucking the corn, and slicing tomatoes, this seems self evident. I believe it’s more fun to talk with someone who uses short, easy words…like duh for example.

He is still in the dark, “Is that a yes?”

You can only push me so far and I go to the dark side. We have an Elk’s membership that is thirty yeas old. We never use it. I’ve been asking him to drop it for twenty-five years! So I say, “How about the Elks?” 

Oh Nelly, I hit the hot button, he writes back, “why are you in such a bad mood. I’m just alerting you to this charge? WTF”

I start looking around for the easy button, Russell Crowe, maybe a rosary.

I write back, “I’m not in a mood at all, in fact Audrey and I are having a snack, she’s telling me about her day. I am fully aware the memberships starts up today and obviously I plan on using it. I assumed you understood duh as a word used to comment on a statement perceived as obvious? Guess not. Is cussing really necessary?”

All communication seises. As you know the word text come from texere, which means to weave, as in weave yourself into a corner.

The family arrives, Larry pulls into the drive, and we proceed with our “pleasant” dinner plans. We purposely avoid each other, with minimal communication, “pass the corn please.” I smile excessively just to be annoying.

This might be the underbelly of unconditional love.

As we’re waving good-bye to the children, standing side by side on the porch, watching the light from their car fade as they move down the street, I give him the look.

He says, “what?”

“You’re so good at being annoying.”

He smiles like I gave him the biggest compliment.

“I ordered an easy button from Staples, and when it’s lite up, all you do is open wine.”

I hear him laughing on the way to to the kitchen, he pours two small glasses, and motions me to follow him out to the patio. It’s finally cooling off and so are we.

We sit silently. 

Not judging.

Not advising.

Just presence.

We call it unconditional love.

Without love
Where would you be right now
Doobie Brothers

I went to spin class a few days later to qualify the “duh.”

And then I ordered an easy button just to be funny, okay annoying, and it’s adorable.

I’m Living in the Gap, drop by anytime, we’ll practice living on the edge.

Anecdotes:

  • Things hurt more when you’re stressed or sad, and the increased pain makes you both stressed and sad. The way out of this vicious circle is a wholesale change to how you perceive fear, suffering and setbacks. Rob Heaton
  • All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity is easy. Stay away from easy. Scott Alexander (what does he know)
  • To find fault is easy; to do better may be difficult. Plutarch

13 Comments

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    1. Thank you Cynthia! So glad this was a timely post for you, it why we write, and why you should never “save up” your words. Send them out, someone might need exactly what you have to say, and how you say it. Write on…

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  1. My first reaction to reading this was that it illustrates the problem with texting. The introduction of this type of communication into our society has resulted in many communication miscues. The delicate topic of “gym and exercise” should definitely be handled in person rather than a text.
    My second reaction was the satisfaction of knowing that my “inability to throw things away” has been rewarded… I can put my finger right on the dusty Easy Button in our son’s bedroom, and it will be waiting for you😆

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Michael! You are so right, texting is risky, comes with a lot of “miscues.” My new favorite word! It might be that I’m a little sensitive about the gym topic, it seems to be a thing with us, but I appreciate the worthy material it gives my blog. What would I write about it everyone understood one another?

      I can’t believe you have an easy button! What the hell? I feel there’s a story behind this find?

      Looking forward to next weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Whew! Excellent. I’m doing better with this issue because I expect less production and demand more time watching Nature right outside my back door. Also more time one-on-one with close friends. I plan just a few goals a day and some days, like today, the goal is to catch up on email, take care of my Monarch nursery, and take a walk with Willow. I walk every day–sometimes a short time and sometimes a longer time. Sometimes I mix short walks with gardening or with strength work or yoga. I can’t do it all in one day. Why do I think about returning to that rhythm? It’s a mindless way to live. Thanks for reminding me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Elaine! So good to see your comment and I appreciate that you found me over here at word press. I’ve lost a few readers but I’m hopeful they’ll keep looking.

      You have such a beautiful rhythm for living. I too enjoy a good hike rather than being stuck in a crowed gym but during the winter I’m sort of grateful. One thing I do love is yoga and the instructor at my place is incredible, she’s worth the time and effort to get there.

      I love following your Monarch stories and the beautiful unfolding of life in your work and in your butterflies. You are truly an inspiration!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Opened your blog with my usual sense of anticipation, and read the first sentence. And it hit me. Hard.
    “When friends stop showing up, it’s not because they are not good people, it’s because they don’t know how to sit with you in your pain says Glennon Doyle.”
    This sentence caused me to reflect on when good friends had deep pain, and I let them down. Not through ill will, or a lack of concern, but rather an inability to cope. A fear of adding to their pain. An inability to share the pain, and ease the burden. I have lived with the guilt of failing to be there in a friend’s time of need, and that guilt has been a burden. After mom passed, I experienced an outpouring of love and support, that both uplifted me, and demonstrated that there is no right word or wrong word, but rather you just need a supportive word. Showing you care so overshadows the details of what you actually say. Recently I had a chance to rectify the wrong, and a burden has lifted. Now I will try harder to be there when needed. It’s important. After all, we are all on this lonely planet together.
    You state “As we age up in life, we become acquainted with new arenas of suffering, like gladiators, we enter the stadium alone, unarmored, vulnerable. You look around and wonder where the hell is Russell Crowe?”
    Hopefully you are not truly alone, with the constant support of your friends, family and faith.
    And since you brought it up, I will hit you the incomparable voice of Lisa Gerrard.

    Are you not entertained!?
    RIP Oliver Reed.
    Can’t wait to see you both.

    Like

    1. Hi Mike! I now know the difference between Gail’s replies and your replies. There’s always a learning curve with new adventures.

      It’s interesting because that first line I wrote down when I was listening to a Glennon Doyle talk, a few minutes in she said that line. I stopped the podcast and listened to those words several times before writing them down. Then I left the words all alone for several days in a draft. This is when the texting wars came to be and I sort of merged the stories although they weren’t a good fit. I was originally intending to go where you went, how difficult it is to lean into pain, especially when it is your beloved neighbor, family, or stranger for that matter. I have failed too. It is my hope that those words stand as a reminder to how and why we are to live in community with each other.

      But your songs now embed! This is such a plus! Thanks for my Russell Crowe fix and I’m sure I speak for others out there.

      The suitcase is out, I started with shoes and then we’ll see what I have left for clothing. Onward…

      Like

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