I like to think myself as seeing people as they truly are, looking beyond labels. This morning I realized just how shallow I can be.
I first heard about Sam a few months ago. He is one of my neighbor’s brothers and she told me he was getting out of prison just before Christmas. At the time I didn’t give it much thought, just conversation. She was excited she would finally get to see him again. I was happy for her, ’cause I’m such a caring, compassionate guy.
Today she was coming up the stairs while I was on the balcony, Sam was behind her. She introduced us. I remembered the conversation from months ago and realized he had just gotten out after an 18 year stint.
We talked for the next hour or so. About his plans. About how his life had changed in the time he was “away.” He was smart, articulate, positive. He owned his choices and was quick to point out life had been more than fair to him. He paid the price for the choices he had made and he believed he would also pay the price or reap the reward for the choices he is making now.
He’s a guy I could hang out with and have a good time.
But here’s what it showed me about myself I didn’t like. When I went back into Area 51 after our talk, I was surprised by him. Without me even realizing it, I had in my own mind a “picture” of what an 18 year ex-con would be like. Seeing himself as a victim. Unintelligent. Negative. Angry at what the world had thrown at him.
It made me wonder how many other “categories” of people I dismiss without realizing they are “people” not just a category. Political affiliation. Religion or lack thereof. Skin color. Geography. Socioeconomic status. Job.
In 2017 I’m going to attempt to see more “people” and less “category.” That might be the best Christmas gift I could receive. Thanks Sam.
Enjoyed this poem from John S today. Found it represented how I feel often. Comments are shut off here, comment at his blog.
Likened to an oval space
where I’m pressing to the wall
and move ’round its circumference
with caution and recall.
I sense it as a darkened play
just beyond my reach,
and substance in the shadows
are thin and disbelieved.
Her touch, in words, assuages fear-
a hold to ban the ill,
the empty holes and voids,
the impressions- touches fill.
Grip me with affection’s tongue
fast with lake and sun,
embrace me with your tumult
that leads us – come undone.
Such is this, caress’ way
in aftermath beyond,
a soothing wisp, a kiss she shares
and looming dark is gone.
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This is a piece I started a while ago. I am going to be writing another chapter this week. Let me know your feedback. Also, if you would like to be a “beta reader” and give me pre-publish input, comment below and I’ll send you a draft to eviscerate.
And G-d said, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”
– Genesis 22:2
Beginnings are important.
While it is often said and accepted as fact one can begin again, it is a lie. A lie clad in white but a lie none the less. There is one beginning of a thing. There is one beginning of a person. There is one beginning of a story. And the beginning of a thing or a story or a person will determine its course – and its demise. The beginning of this thing and this person and this story were all the same: 32 years ago Abigail Upton was born.
Everyone is born into a different circumstance. Abigail, unfortunately, was born into invisibility.
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Posted by LittlePiecesofMe:
The question is….If I could permanently ban a word from general usage what would it be and why?
Hands down the word for me would be “should”. I should get out of bed, I should have called my mother, I should have hit the shot, I should go to the gym instead of eating ice cream. “Should” is a horrible reason to do anything, it carries with it guilt and it does not motivate at all.
According to the dictionary “should” is the simple past tense of “shall”. I like the word “shall”. It implies conviction with a pleasant overtone, a promise for the future. Turn that “shall” to past and make it “should” and I brace against it. “Should” is a hollow uncertain auxiliary verb that makes no promises, but merely offers a weak excuse for a possible attempt at action.
Instead of doing something because we “should”. I think there should be real concrete and positive reasons to our actions. I am getting out of bed because it is a new day and I am happy to still be on the ride, I am calling my mother because she birthed me and I’m thankful for the life she gave, I didn’t hit the shot, but I will next time because I will practice and I will get better, I will go workout because I will feel amazing afterward.
I believe what I say to myself is very important and the reasons I provide as motivation for all things I do will come from a place of energy and desire, not a place of guilt.
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What if it were all true?
Not your fears but your hopes?
Not your nightmares but your dreams?
What if that thing you fear to do gave you no more fear?
What if the people you want to love would return the love?
How would you live?
How would you love?
This time, He broke up.
He had taken his time. Waited. Waited to figure out if She was going to be all-in. Waited to see if She would impose Her own curfew. 3 months.
Of course in waiting, judging, evaluating there is always a danger. Reading into action or inaction. Misinterpretation.
Miscalculations leading to pain. Pain leading to stagnation.
But He had decided. The pain needed to end. The lashing out needed to end. They needed to end.
He spent Saturday morning crafting and discarding emails. Looking for words. He wasn’t angry or hurt, He just wanted it to be over. To be as painless for both of them as possible.
His email to her was not eloquent. They both hurt each other, this needed to stop. He loved her, but neither needed the hurt.
He asked her to call. To talk. To put it to rest. She replied she couldn’t until evening. He, not being patient and wanting to just finalize, sent Her another, longer, more eloquent, more caring email. Loving her still, but believing They still must be done.
Later, she responded. By text. “I love you. I’m losing my boyfriend and the only one I want to comfort me is you. Come up.”
The words caught him off guard. He didn’t know She still loved. He didn’t know He was Her “boyfriend” – that was a level of relationship He assumed They left in May. What about the Others?
He drove to her Sunday. Confusion. Elation. Not having a plan.
Sunday, they talked. Openly. There were no Others in her life. But there was an issue. A reason She had seemed more distant. A reason She withheld words of care for him, A reason she had fought to not love him.
A reason she had never shared but loomed large in her mind.
Embarrassed and fearful of His reaction, She finally shared. If They were to go on, if She were going to be “all in”, if they were to move toward a life together, He had to make a change.
Surprisingly for both of them, He was not upset nor even surprised. He understood. It was a reason He had assumed had been there all along – even from one of their first texts. “Not everything is Porsches and rainbows, my life is messy right now.” He had known and been working to de-mess his life.
He had not made much progress. It scared her, rightfully so. A future meant something. She couldn’t tolerate a future of fear, of uncertainty.
He got that.
He would try. Willing to take new paths – or at least consider them. Willing to put His life together for Himself but open to Her gaze. She needed movement. That’s all She asked, to see.
He could provide. He already had to fix the problems in His life, and letting Her see wasn’t an issue.
He asked for change from Her as well. He wasn’t sure how She would react. He thought She would refuse to try, say it was just the way She is. “Sorry ’bout cha.”
But She didn’t. She was open and affirming and caring. She wanted to go on, try, make this work if it was going to work.
She wanted Him in Her life. He wanted Her.
Aphrodite is cruel and fickle. She gives us love, but always with pain. Fear. “But what if..?”
That night, as they lay together entwined, She said “I wish this was enough.” He wished it too, but He also knew They could do this. He could fix; She could attend.
He left hopeful for “a better…“
Last night I was texting with Waco.
As I mentioned in a previous post, she is dealing with some chronic health issues. She is amazingly strong and refuses to let those issues determine the course of her life. She has consistently chosen to push through whatever happens and live a happy, successful, fulfilling life.
But lately, those issues have been tough. Last night she declared: “I refuse to be limited!”
And she won’t be. She’s tough, determined, persistent and appropriately selfish. She’s also beautiful inside and out. I’ve been fortunate to have her in my life for the last year, to see her as she is.
But we also talked about reality. There is no magic bullet for her. She will have to make choices to maintain the life she enjoys long-term.
This morning, it got me thinking. Thinking about ways I procrastinate in life. Ways I pretend reality isn’t real. How I am spending my future happiness by not making the payments today.
Denial is a subtle liar. It seduces you into not making a somewhat difficult choice today even though the consequences will be paid with compound interest. Denial always whispers its alluring lies in the present, the only time we can take action, while lulling us into the warm comfort of “I’ll do that hard thing tomorrow, I’ll have plenty of time and health and energy and wealth then.”
Cats Cradle – only we’re our own fathers.
The run I don’t take today. The money I don’t save. The time I don’t spend building a relationship. The action I don’t take. These all live in the present but butterfly affect the future. My future can be sick and poor and alone. My future can be healthy and wealthy and full of love.
Today don’t call me between 9:30 and 10:30 – I’ll be on my run.