“May such calm of soul be mine, so as to meet the force of circumstances”Aeschylus
I’m feeling the weight of my humanness.
You know what I mean?
Maybe it’s because we recently celebrated the crucifixion of an innocent man, or all the suffering splashed across our television screens, or the simple fact that wearing masks has morphed into a moral issue.
What do I know?
It seems to me that piss poor judgment is the root of all evil.
Well, that and our inability to empathize with each other, which is sort of the same thing.
I feel sticky with anxiety, especially today, as I return to my doctor for test results. She took a lot of samples from my person and I’m hoping she’s satisfied. What’s stressful to me might be a cakewalk for you and visa versa. But no one is exempt.
We all suffer, pay taxes, and die, but that my friend is only the beginning of our story.
I judge others when they don’t do things the way I do but at least I’m nice about it. You can’t say that about everyone. For example, when Larry and I are closing up the lake house before returning home I have a no-tolerance policy for touching something more than once! I blame my mother, of course, she was an organizational anomaly.
I can already feel you judging me.
Here’s the deal ~ why would you (aka Larry) bring a potholder in from outside and set it on some random table in the lanai? Put it away, in the drawer, where it belongs. Done. Don’t gather cups from around the house and leave them on the kitchen counter. Put them in the dishwasher. Or when you unwrap a string cheese to fuel your clean-up efforts and dump the wrapper in the sink. The garbage is three inches away. Makes me mad as a wet hen but I cover well.
I could go on but you get the gist. Touch it once!
Where I’m logical, others are erroneous, it’s my cross to bear, but let’s not resort to labeling. It’s crass. Not that I’m judging. But seriously. I am.
If I find potholders, dirty glasses, and cheese wrappers annoying you can imagine how difficult it is for me not to judge the guy who set Home Depot on fire. What the hell was he thinking?
Another example, on my walk this morning with Sue we passed a house on Ridgely, just blocks away from our homes, swarming with fully geared swat teams, police cruisers were parked haphazardly on the neighboring lawns, with at least twelve officers pointing assault rifles at some poor forsaken front door.
I grab Sue’s arm and scream, “Holy shit Sue, we need to turn around, there’s going to be a shoot-out.”
She waves her hand nonchalantly and says, “there’s no crime scene tape.”
“Crime scene tape, they’re holding assault rifles.”
“It’s fine, they’d tell us if we couldn’t pass.”
“They’re a little busy don’t you think?”
We walk (I trot) quickly right past all the drama and join a group of neighbors gathered on the street corner gossiping as if a murder of crows. After listening to all their observations we conclude it must be a drug bust. But you never know? Personally, I’m thrilled that there are brave men and women willing to risk their lives to protect mine?
The last thing we need is a meth lab in the suburbs!
You’ll be relieved to know I made it home safe, but I don’t have time to worry about the dismantling of meth labs, I need a new pair of jeans for our upcoming trip to Branson! Talk about stress. (Yes, we’re going to Branson, Missouri to spend some time with my cousins, Mike and Gail, Dolly Parton, and apparently, Jesus will be there live) Jim and Sue are coming too if we don’t get shot on one of our morning walks.
My jeans put up a good fight but eventually, they ripped, may they rest in peace. Some people like that look. I do not. They were very, very, very old, and several areas were as paper-thin as my skin, but damn, they fit like OJ’s glove, and that might be why they ripped. Shrinkage.
So I sent a text to my daughters asking about brands that are “friendly” to older women.
Julie says you should try Not My Daughters Jeans, it’s a brand for mature women. But she warns me I should wait until the fall because the styles change so quickly. As an afterthought she adds, “and BTW skinny jeans are out. Do not buy another pair!”
Skinny jeans are Out? Who is she? The fashion Gestapo.
Kelley says I’m not an older woman.
I threw caution to the wind and ordered a pair of skinny jeans from some off-brand that was on sale. I’ll be out of fashion but at least they won’t be ripped. And if I’m not annoying my daughters by wearing antwacky clothing they’ll have nothing to squawk about. It’s a huge sacrifice but I do what I can.
As I’m writing this Julie pays us a visit from across the street. She comes over with my granddaughter Audrey who’s overly excited about her photo being featured in a local magazine that is advertising the services of the Campbell Community Center.
I come into the kitchen to see what all the commotion is about.
Audrey shows us the magazine with her featured pictures and immediately runs to show Nono who just pulled into the driveway.
So I tell my daughters about nearly getting shot this morning, and after rudely mocking my dramatic retelling, I’m accused of glancing in the mirror while I was talking.
I made myself a cup of coffee and returned to my room, feeling unfairly put upon by my own creations. Now I know how God feels.
It makes me empathetic to Larry for like a second. But it also makes me consider how we callously bait each other or maybe I have a lousy sense of humor?
I didn’t think so either.
The thing is I’m sensitive. I know this about myself. I have to be diligent about boundaries or I overindulge as if I’m a sponge, absorbing the emotions around me, and I have no filter.
I set up a makeshift desk in my room by slapping a board across my armchair, placing my coffee within reach, and connecting via Zoom to my weekly Gecko call. Praise be to God. I could use a little cheering.
This delightful group has been meeting weekly for over two years and today the focus is the book I’m trying to publish. I sent everyone a PDF of the manuscript a week ago and today we’re going to evaluate, critique, and assess its merits and mishaps.
By the end of the call I was floating, literally, a silly ass smile plastered across my face, feeling slightly more popular than Stephen King, and quite possibly just as talented. That’s the Gecko magic. I came away with a new title, a new genre, and a purpose for putting this work into the world.
On Amazon this coming June!
Speaking of Good News, I found out my expiration date has been extended. I’m not prediabetic, my cholesterol is elevated but not alarmingly so, my kidney and liver continue to function, and my asthma has significantly improved. She told me to lay off the animal fat, get a little exercise, and she doesn’t want to see me for six months.
After my appointment, I drove straight to the grocery store! I don’t mess around. The thing is it’s not considered abnormal to walk away with a deli sandwich, an entire roasted chicken, a pint of pasta salad, and a few boxes of sushi. I am an emotional eater, celebratory and otherwise.
What if we figured out a way to harness our emotions instead of gorging on them? What if instead of breaking each other down we built each other up. What if we allowed every experience to break open our hearts, and like the Campbell Police, protect and serve each other.
This is the human predicament. We might forget, but we are connected in ways we’re only beginning to understand. And I have to believe this is how we suffered, died and rose again with that innocent man from Bethlehem.
We are wonderfully and gloriously made, one creation, one heart, with a singular purpose. If you only get one chance to touch each other, do so tenderly, with great love.
With three simple words, “it is done,” he put everything into place, once and for all.
I’m Living in the Gap, touching things once, join me in the comments.