2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper-monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Piano Guys Hanging Out With Some Seniors

ThePianoGuys.Com

The visual …

that goes along with the medley, performed by the Piano Guys is unexplainably moving, unexplainably important, a reminder of honoring those who have gone before us.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyPDQpel8bI&index=9&list=PL7496CDCFFD1B83AC

The theme of community: I am compelled to write about community; and the theme of community, swirls here, in this video.  Let us not forget each other.  

Piano Guys, hanging out with some Seniors. us105fm.com

 

Piano Guys For You: 7 Cellos

Good Morning.  Piano Guys, again.  7 cellos.

7 guys, 7 different cellos, working in conjunction, producing something so beautiful.  Is this a metaphor, a reminder, of what community could look like? 

People taking time to connect, and hear each other, and speak words of life into the hearts and lives of each other, and to support each other, on some level.

Again, good morning.

How Did We Get Here? (Dialog Series)

How did we get here?

“We”?

depression, man sitting on floor thinking with copy space - stock photo
http://www.shutterstock.com/s/depression/search.html

(Pause) … Well, you are here, aren’t you?

No, no.  No-no-no-no-no-no.  You are where you are at, and I am where I am at.  And believe me:  I wouldn’t want to be where you are at.

How’s the view up there?  Up above guys like me who don’t have it together like you?

(Pause) What are you were asking me?  And, I’m kind of in a hurry, okay?  So, tell me what you need, and I will try to help.

I was asking  you … how we … “I” … arrived here, at this place.

“This place”?

Our relationship?  Fading.  I have become isolated.  My addictions, like work; like books; like fast food.  And, life – – – I do not enjoy life as much.  That’s a picture of what I am talking about.

Okay.  (Pause)  I have to get going, need to be somewhere.  Take care of yourself.

You asked me about “this place” I am in, I told you, and I thought we were going to talk about it.  But, you … are just leaving, now.

(Pause) I am sorry about your confusion.  I can’t help you.  I don’t do well with others’ shame.  I don’t do well with addictions.  Your isolation is something you have chosen; your relationships evaporating  didn’t suddenly happen.  It’s been in the works for a while.   And your enjoyment of life?  Not happening?  I don’t want to have anything to do … with that.  (Pause) On top of all that, you wouldn’t even hear what I have to say.

Why would I not want to hear what you have to say?

http://www.shutterstock.com/s/depression/search.html?page=1&inline=197995073

Because you are right where you want to be.  And if you are right were you want to be, why talk about how you arrived at this place?  If you wanted to change all that, you would.  But, there is no change.  

That’s harsh.

(Pause with some hesitation) Uhhhh, maybe.  

You’ve got me all wrong.

‘Doesn’t matter.  This is your party, not mine. 

END

*

The dialog, above, is like a metaphor, representing some of the relational pain / disappointment that happens … on some level … in the human soul.  Our hearts, our minds … bring about different dynamics of expectations (realistic and / or unrealistic), an arcane blend of intimacy (healthy and / or unhealthy, whether it be physical or emotional or both).  The relationship and dialog happening up above is somewhat of a composite derived from my years working as a psychotherapist with married folks.  Lastly, the nuances / verbal clues accentuate the factors / themes we deal with in our society, and our relationships:

  • “I don’t have the time to have this conversation …”
  • “Don’t blame me for you problems …”
  • “I don’t have any compassion for you, now …”

True, this is a rather cold exchange happening between two people.  My hope is that one can see their thankfulness for being able to transcend such unhappiness, such insensitivity.  We all need help, at different times, and in different ways.  Here is a truth that is disruptive to many, and this truth applies to the “composite” dialog at the beginning of this post:

Something good can come out of this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hiding Writers, Reading

‘Revisiting some (old) lyrics, and a theme, previously posted, perused in one of the blogospheres (I don’t know how many there are) … A different direction emerged while the muse came by.  Two fellas, met up in 1953, the elementary school-scene in Queens (N.Y.) became famous in their school play, Alice in Wonderland.  One was the White Rabbit (Paul Simon) and the other was the Cheshire Cat (Art Garfunkel).  Actually, they did not get famous from their work in the theater, doing Alice in Wonderland.  They continued to be bro’s through junior high school and high school.  Simon and Garfunkel, their junior year, emerged as “Tom and Jerry” playing some good music.  Seriously?  Yes.  Someone in the recording studio brought up the “Tom and Jerry” thing … and it faded quickly.  “Simon and Garfunkle” was the balm, apparently.  Eventually, after “The Sound of Silence” which put them on the map, they put together this song, “I Am A Rock”, with the lyrics … here:

” … Gazing from my window to the streets below /
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow. / I am a rock, / I am an island.
I’ve built walls / A fortress deep and mighty … “

I really love these lyrics, for quite a few reasons.  One of my favorite writing quotes goes like this:  “My wife doesn’t understand that when I am staring out the window, I’m actually working.”  I agree.  Productive? Maybe not, but … still … working.  Because a writer is always watching, observing, taking it all in, appreciating (some) details, editing others.  A writer would take time to ” … gaze from (his / her) window to the streets below, taking notice of the freshly fallen silent shroud of snow …”  And a writer is also aware of how easy it would be to become “a rock … an island”, with “walls, a fortress …”  Such imagery.

” … friendship causes pain. / It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain …”

I believe that some writers struggle with friendship more than others.  I actually acknowledge my envy of individuals who don’t seem to struggle at all, ever, with friendships.  They seem to be sufficiently charismatic, cool, and people love to be around these individuals.  Friendships are sometimes hard, and I do think that such struggles contribute to a writer’s persistence in writing, and reading.   And that is why these lyrics, here, resonate for me.  And … a question emerges that I pass your way: would you say, on some level, that you “hide” with books? With poetry? And do you have your armor that you protect  yourself with?  

“I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.”

What is a bit weird is that I really find … asylum … with the spy novels (Thor, Ludlum, etc.) sometimes the Western novels (Johnstone, Lamour), and sometimes the good old mystery-“Who Dunnit”s (Charles Todd, Castle, Craig Johnson).  And there is that great line from Shadowlands (movie): “We read to know … we are not alone.”

So, yeah … I was just curious if you guys “hide” … from time to time … in your books, your poetry, your armor.

 

Relationships, Reality & Redemption

What do I know to be true?  Know yourself, and I will know myself, and if I come up short in that area, then … then … What?  Then what?  Oh, my!  Maybe the earth will rip off its axis and hurl into the sun!!!!

No, I doubt that will happen.  Here’s one truth about me: I am able.  I am able to do both good, and not-so-good.  I am able to empower (good).  I am able to enable (bummer, not-so-good).  I’ve walked with many folks over the last 20 years in the counseling context.  And in the realm of addictions, I have encountered the “enabling” dynamic a great deal.  And, if an individual is an “enabler”, that does not mean … that their heart is not good.  In fact, with every enabler I have sat with, there has always been a good heart.  We, with our good hearts, are able to miss the bigger picture, to mess up the smaller picture.  And we, with our good hearts, are able to walk with a soul and inspire, without many words.  We, with our good hearts, are able to run races with specific individuals who have come into our world who want to run well, with love in their hearts … a healthy love, an empowering love, a fragrant love, a tough love, a tough love not without honor, a tough love not without integrity, a tough love not without gentleness.

I am able.  I am able to go after myself with rocks and razored insults; rage and disgust.  There is a fancy word for it, I think: “self-contempt”.  Truly, I am not exempt from self-contempt.  And, truly, there is no exemption from redemption.

And, to use the title of one of my favorite films, “When a Man Loves a Woman”, there is an indescribably intense piece of fighting with honor and love and fairness and staying in the place of a safe place.  Not fighting with physical warfare.  Not fighting with psychological abuse; or verbal abuse; or emotional abuse.  No … this is a fighting where, at the core, is a deep authentic love for the other; caring for the other; and choosing to not let the other “off the hook” … because that is the last thing we need, to escape the responsibility of loving well and “doing relationship” well.

And that is all I’m going to say about that, for now.

We Remember, Eh? What Valentines is Made Up Of …

That woman,  there … with the long white dress, the cross sewn into the train … she has my heart, and it will always be that way.  Those on both sides of the aisle show a glow, reflecting the beauty of  this bride, an elegant one.  Her countenance has a fragrance that reminds me of the Don Juan Rose.

She and I both remember, and reflect on from time to time, the trip to the airport, a few days before Christmas of 1994.  I had met her in October.  We went out a few times in November.  And in December, we both needed to fly out of Denver … and somehow our flights went out on the same day (different planes, different destinations).  So I had a good friend drive us both to DIA.  We followed the creed of Christmas travelers: arrive early; thus, the pre-flight java before one of us flew south, and the other flew north.  Less than six months later, we had a wedding.

A safe place.  A commitment to live well with each other, and to love well with each other, and to look ahead, for the big things, with each other.  Life is  harsh, and we fight for each other.  And we when we don’t see eye to eye, we fight with honor, with respect.  We parent together.  We rest from the storms, and we heal from the wounds, our stories have redemption.  For my amazing wife, Happy Valentines Day, my love.  I have had a place in my heart for folks who are in marriages that aren’t working.  So difficult, as they don’t always know whether to stay or to go.  A million dollar question for some is “Can this marriage be healed?”  And in some cases, the only right answer is get out of the marriage.  All of this is so difficult.  I hope the best for all.  We all need peace; we all need hope; we all need to be safe; and we all need to be loved well.

T

Tis the Season … Greed and Need: Same Thing?

'Tis the Season.

“Tis the season …”  For what?  http://longisland.news12.com/features/holidays/tis-the-season-series-1.6494620

I need a refresher course on this; a refocus supplement.  I think I need to reconnect with what is important.   This world seems to be moving faster as I get a bit older.  I was thinking about what it is that I really need . . . versus what it is that I really want.  Here is an example: I have gone to the refrigerator more than once, peered inside … not because I was really hungry, but … out of my boredom, or melancholy, or some other emotion.  Thus the question, “What am I hungry for?”  Recently I came across an article that seemed to be more about “greed”, as opposed to “need”.   Here is an excerpt from the article.  I chose to replace the name of the subject with “Happy People”, to prevent any unwanted phone calls from someone who is angry that I called them out on their greed.

“(Happy People)‘s top execs are using their private fleet of jets to fly to some of the world’s most exotic vacation spots — and taxpayers appear to be footing part of the bill.
When they aren’t grounded at NASA’s Moffett Field, the search engine’s jets guzzle government fuel to carry (Happy People)‘s billionaire bosses to Tahiti, Hawaii and a host of private Caribbean beaches, according to a detailed analysis reviewed by FoxNews.com.
(Happy People) — and the government — say parking spaces and discounted fuel are justified because of the scientific research the company does with the space agency. But the data shows trips may be more about surf than science, said Drew Johnson, a fellow at the Center for Individual Freedom.”  http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/11/21/google-execs-soaring-to-tropical-destinations-on-your-tax-dollars/

Private Jet

These two words,”greed” and “need”, can be disruptive.  Example: parents of a special-needs child, who don’t make enough money to go on a vacation, who don’t have date nights because they cannot be away from their kiddo … Do they need some help?  And is it greed for the husband / father to want to take his wife out for a date night?  Is it greed for the husband / father to want to take his family on a vacation?  I realize that the link at the end of the excerpt might suggest what company the article is referencing.  

Dilemma: Excellent DVD / Catharsis Prevention

‘Wrote a post a while back about movies that can make a man weep.  Here is a safety-tip: try to analyze the title of the movie, maintaining a high level of awareness, to avoid the possibility of tears.  For me, my preference is to ALWAYS avoid movies that have the potential to make a man weep.  Hey: a movie can get past you.  Sometimes the Mrs. picks out the movie right?  I have an excuse for “Bambi” and “Old Yeller”.  I was a kid.

So, my dilemma with this DVD, is that it made me weep.  I almost pulled it off.  I reached the end, and then … it happened.  So, gentlemen, I will go ahead and give you the name of the movie so that you can keep yourself from getting drawn into a movie that might cause you to weep in front of your wife or your girlfriend: AWKWARD ! & BUMMER!   So here is the movie: “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
http://www.dvd-covers.org/art/Blu_Ray_Covers/Movie_Blu-Ray_Custom_Covers/Copy

I usually don’t recommend movies that bring about some degree of weeping.  Another dilemma: I normally stay away from movies that come ANYWHERE close to the 9/11 tragedy (2001).  However, the movie really is not about the 9/11 tragedy.  It is about profound relational dynamics that come up with loss, grief, confusion, and re-connecting. “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is a great movie.  I cautiously recommend the movie, with the understanding that even though this movie IS NOT ABOUT 9/11 … one could be triggered; thus, my caution.  The acting is top-notch / Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks.  I don’t know anything about the kiddo.  But he portrays an Aspergers kiddo.  And I guess that hits home, right in the breadbasket.  My son is an Aspergers kiddo.  Thomas Horn portrays the 9-year-old boy Oscar Schell, who is (in the movie) somewhere on the Autism spectrum, trying to make sense of everything.

 

The Boy

*This post is written as a way of encouraging parents of special needs kiddos.  My (life) experience has more to do with mood disorders and neurological issues.

THE BOY …

is watched over by angels, and I do not have the energy or the intellect or the salesmanship to convince you of this.  Its something that I just know.  Some parents might relate to this mystery.

And God …

gives the boy favor.  In my imagination I can see the Wild Man upstairs, the same One who created the whole deal, smiling when He sees the boy laugh, or when He sees the boy do something that is beautiful.  In that same imagination I can the Wild Man upstairs become pensive, and almost weep, when He sees the pain of the boy … and when He sees the pain of the parents.

There is a guy, Gary Numan, who said:

Gary Numan I have a condition called Aspergers Quote

The above image is from http://www.lushquotes.com