Friday, February 19, 2016

Some Idle Wednesday

"Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blind side you at 4 PM on some idle Tuesday."

True, Mary Schmich, true. Those are lines taken from her hypothetical commencement speech, Wear Sunscreen, that was published in the Chicago Tribune in June, 1997, which I have read over and over through the years, because her advice is so spot on.

It wasn't a Tuesday, but close. It was Wednesday. The chest x-ray showed a large mass in his chest. I watched as his face whitened and disappeared into some underground foxhole, as the doctor calmly explained the different types of cancer it might be, the different treatments that might be applied, and explaining that now he needed to go get additional ultrasounds, blood work and CT guided biopsies. I was trying to be his ears and eyes, because I knew this was skimming his surface. But I couldn't hear all that was being said very well either. There was a loud pounding sound making it hard to hear. I think it was both of our hearts.

Blindsided - yes and no. You know these things are coming. One day. Or another. You know it happens every day to so many people. Just not you. Or the people you love. And all of a sudden, life as you know it, is no longer anything that you've ever known. All the plans you've had get shaken out in front of you, like that party game, Total Recall, trying to remember what all was there. You frantically grab for maybe a couple of the really important pieces, because now you just know, there might not be time to get to it all. To make the plans a reality. A wake up call the size of Alaska, slamming into you, reminding you of the fragility, the preciousness of life.

Afraid to go forward, to see what might be up ahead, you start working backwards. In little baby steps. Looking and stepping back on the years, failed relationships, careers that went nowhere, wasted time, all the things you wanted to do while waiting for "someday." And it's hard not to go there, even though you do know that negative thinking will get you nowhere. Right? Yes, of course, refocus, pull it all in. Gather your courage. Soldier on. I mean, really, it's just life, right? Those words ring loudly now in my head. How many times have I heard that? How many times have I said that? It's just life. Like it's no big deal. But oh my, it is such a big deal.

Life - I read that without an end, life really wouldn't have any meaning. that if our lives went on forever our choices would be without ramifications, utterly without meaning; life without death would be meaningless.

So I lie next to him, in his restless sleep, and I close my eyes, clasp my hands together and go to that place where I go when there's nowhere else to go - sending out my thoughts, concerns and requests to hopefully, a God that is listening. And as I send my wimpy, apologetic airmail to the heavens, "Yes, I know, I only come here when I'm desperate, I'm sorry. But what am I supposed to think? Why would you grant me any favors? One out of three deal with this, and with all the mountains of suffering in the world, why would I be special?" I'm not. But I will try anyway to use all of my bargaining powers, this for that. A fair trade.

Then once I am sure he is in a deep sleep, I quietly sob. I know sobbing is usually a noisy affair, but I do it very quietly, under the covers, holding it in, while my body does a few convulsions rivaling that of some Russian contortionist. And then I compose myself, give God the benefit of the doubt, and hope that I might have caught him in a moment of weakness.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Two-Faces of Facebook

Facebook - what’s wrong with everyone? Posting about being in love, sharing all these photos of their children, the food they ate, the food they made, their political views, their vacations, their complaints and woes, their illnesses and losses.

The thing is, nothing’s wrong. What’s wrong, I believe, is how we judge everyone. Maybe that’s fair game, a risk we take, when we are putting it all out there. 

I’ve heard it from so many people and have been guilty of this myself. “I don’t need to know about that” - “Why the hell is he sharing this??” Technically, we probably don’t NEED to know about any of it. But like it or not, the world has changed, the way we communicate has changed, and this is the way we do things now. And right or wrong, we all feel it's up to us to establish the rules of engagement here, to lay down some kind of posting etiquette

Who gets to make the rules?

We all find that we use Facebook (or any social media site) for different reasons. Some find it like a newspaper, with articles and photos about people they know, pure entertainment, their substitute coffee klatch, a diary that they secretly wish someone would read, a form of connection, a cry for help, the only friend they feel they have, the old fashioned grapevine, or the word on the street. Whatever it is to you is ok. And the people that are complaining about the posts on Facebook, are people that are posting their stuff on Facebook! It’s kind of like a high school locker room ~ we’re all here, and we’re all talking behind each other’s backs. And you know what? It bores me.

If you don't want to "unfriend" people, there is also a way to “unfollow” your “friends” so that you can keep that all important friend count up, but don’t need to be privy to any of their posts. If these posts really bother you, if you really don’t care what your “friends” are doing, feeling, and thinking, then unfollow them. Simple. There's really no need for us to bash each other. So let’s lighten up and perhaps even see it as a privilege to be let into other people’s worlds. Let’s enjoy the photos - the recipes - the words of wisdom - the news, whether it's good, bad, or things we don’t agree with, maybe view these posts with a little bit of kindness. I mean, truly, it they are our “friends” wouldn’t we want that? And if it’s all too much, if it has become a chore, a burden to read, it’s so very easy to simply sign off.