Just for fun. Not at all professional quality….but the joy is evident.
I’m currently frustrated with people. I don’t like them much.
My current inclination is to hole up and not engage with other people at all (well, other than my family and a few close friends. That friends list gets shorter by the day.). I’d be a hermit of sorts. Stay home a lot and read or go out to hike in beautiful places of solitude. It would make life easier. It would be far less frustrating. It would be peaceful.
But I can’t. That’s not why I believe I am here. I believe we are here to engage in life and work together to create a good life for ourselves. A good life for everybody.. Our neighbors. All of our neighbors. Our community. Our world.
But there are days I simply want to give up. Now more than any time in my life. People I have respected are supporting this rude, thoughtless, unloving, unkind behavior, and engaging in it way too often. It hurts my heart.
I don’t like Republicans. I don’t like Democrats. I don’t like liberals. I don’t like conservatives. I don’t like people with opinions different than me. I don’t like people who think exactly like I do. I don’t like people with no opinions at all. I don’t like those who speak up. I don’t like those who remain silent. I don’t like friends. I don’t like strangers. I don’t even like Christians…the folks who are supposed to be my brothers and sisters in Christ. Quite frankly, sometimes I dislike them most of all.
We have become such a rude, intolerant people. We spout, but don’t listen….unless it is to slam the other speaker, for what we thought they were saying, because we certainly didn’t listen beyond their first sentence. We take facts out of context and espouse them as truth. We do no fact checking. We speak far and wide on subjects on which we have not educated ourselves. We don’t care whether what we are saying is right or wrong. We only care about scoring points and winning people to our side. It’s all about the spin and the win. The manipulation. We know we are right…..and our minds will not be changed. There is little civil debate. It has been replaced by personal attacks and mocking and condescending attitudes. There is no thought that perhaps we don’t know it all and maybe if we talked to people…..those who believe as we do, but also those who don’t…we may learn something.
I don’t want to hear your opinion about our new president because your emotion leads to the behavior already discussed. Your behavior has often rivaled his. Some of you will consider that a compliment. It is not meant to be. If you dislike his style, make yours different. If you like it, take a long hard look in the mirror. Are you really someone who respects this behavior and chooses it for your own?
I wish it was just politics. But it is not. There just seems to be a “mean girl” attitude among both women and men. I despair of the kids being raised to hear some of you spouting off. I’d like to cover their ears…..and ban them from Facebook.
What completely breaks my heart is there are times I feel there is no one to talk to. No people who want to truly find solutions. Strong solutions that come as a collaboration of different thoughts, ideas, backgrounds, experiences, and education.. People who love learning they are wrong at times because it opens up their world and gives them more possibilities for solutions. People who want to make this world better, even if “better” may not be their current vision, or the vision they were raised to believe is “right”.
We bury ourselves in our smart phones and in our small little social circles. We don’t look up to see if we are about to mow someone down. And if we do, we don’t care. It’s their own fault. They shouldn’t have been in our way. We have also forgot the most important part of an apology…..not to just utter the words, but to make a plan to not do it again.
I may not like you at the moment, but I will get over it. Because you are in my world and though I do not like you all the time, I do love you. Let’s reconcile. Let’s put away the personal attacks. Let’s not focus on our differences, but instead find common ground. Let’s solve problems, one by one. Using all of our knowledge and experience. With open minds, but mostly open hearts. Letting kindness be the rule, and not the exception.
Look in the mirror…..who are you? Have you forgotten? What do you value? How should you behave?
I’m going for love, kindness, and reconciliation. Because I think those things are what will really change the world. Not a derogatory comment about someone’s intelligence, weight, or hairstyle. Those make you look dumb. And I don’t believe you really are. When it gets down to it, if more of us resolve to jump off the crazy train and act as mature and wise adults, something good can be accomplished. In spite of those who choose ridicule and unbalanced rants as their communication of choice.
I want to like you. Should I?
My parents were hand holders. It always made me smile when I saw it. It was one of the first things people noticed about them.. More times than I can count I had friends call and say “I saw your parents. They were just walking along and holding hands. They are so cute.” And they were. It was almost like a game of “I spy.” “I spy the McKinneys holding hands. Again.” We grew up seeing it, but I got so many of these calls I soon realized what a rarity it was. I loved it about them and what they taught us through this one gesture.
As mom points out, leaving dad was never a practical option, so they had to work things out. Growing up we learned that in real life relationships you love, honor, and respect each other….but sometimes you also get angry. But you work it out. You don’t hold grudges. You are always loyal.
If you had met my dad, you probably wouldn’t have thought of him as a hand holder. He wasn’t what you would consider a romantic. Romantic gestures were not the norm. If left to his own devices he would most likely buy my mom a gift on the level of a vacuum cleaner or a mixer. That may be a romantic gift to some, but not to my mother. Yet he could surprise you….on the occasions when he ended up buying her jewelry, he bought her beautiful things. He had wonderful taste. Well, except that time he listened to the opinion of someone else. That was not a good idea. I think he learned his lesson. The one piece of jewelry he bought mom that she never wore.
There was a certain level of emotion my dad just didn’t possess. He was a classic engineer. Logic trumped all emotion. He could not care less about what anyone thought about him. This was on a level I have never encountered in another human being. It never occurred to him that it was any of his business or even something worth thinking about. I mentioned this to someone recently and they said that sounded like me. Oh….I so wish it was. It used to be a foreign concept, but I have learned from him in time. No, first I have to feel the pain, but then blessedly the logic I learned from dad now creeps in. Why should such a thing really matter to me? Unlike my dad the feelings are felt, but in my life I am blessed with plenty of love. I’ve learned, however, it doesn’t have to come from everyone. I won’t waste precious moments of my life worrying about it….instead I will enjoy and celebrate that which I do have. It is enough.
My cousin and I were talking when my dad was in the hospital about being raised by these McKinney men for whom the words “I love you” just weren’t often said. Yet we never doubted their love. (So OK, there were those times growing up I knew my “real” royal family were going to come for me and take me away from my Cinderella life….but maybe the thought that I read too much during these years was correct after all.)
My dad was in the hospital since November 8. Much of that time is heartbreaking. Some of it was full of great beauty. My mom lovingly feeding my dad vanilla ice cream underneath his oxygen mask after he had what would only be his first surgery that day. (He savored each bite. I am so glad…vanilla ice cream was his favorite and it was his last real food.) Mom sitting in a chair next to dad’s bed, holding his hand as she slept with her head on his bed. Each of his children, and many of his grandchildren, kissing his cheek and reaching for his hand as they visited with him. Him squeezing back. Until he couldn’t. Then us just squeezing extra.
I had several friends who during these last days advised me to make sure I told dad I loved him. Does it sound weird that I didn’t find that to be important? I never have doubted, never will doubt, that he knew. Oh, this man of logic knew. It wasn’t because of us saying the words (because as I said before, those didn’t matter to him). It wasn’t because of my ability to be the best daughter (because he really didn’t require much from me as his daughter….and we all know I was his favorite anyway.). It wasn’t because of gifts I gave him…..I realized years ago he took no pleasure in gifts and it was a kindness not to make him open things and appear grateful. It was a burden to him and not a pleasure. No….these typical things others may need were not a bit necessary for him.
I was part of this man…..and him part of me. He knew I loved him just because I did. Would we all have liked more days together? Certainly. Are there more things I wish I’d either had him tell me about or I wish I had listened closer to? Oh yes. But my logical dad wouldn’t comprehend wasting time on regrets. He accepted what was. I will do the same.
When we first moved my dad to the Hospiçe House last Friday, and I reached for his hand, it was cold. It was a bit disconcerting. Later that night the radiating warmth returned. The last time I saw him on Saturday afternoon I held that warm hand for what would be the last time. As he and mom taught us, that’s what matters. These McKinneys are hand holders. We are forever unified. He is a part of who I am and forever I’ll feel the warmth of his hand in mine. No regrets understood or allowed. I loved him and was loved by him. That will never end. I am grateful for the gift.
I had someone question me recently about someone in my life. Someone I love. This person had issues with some things that the person had done in their life. Things about that person’s character they thought were wrong. They evidently thought if I heard enough “evidence” I would completely wipe that person out of my life, ostracize them, and make them dead to me. I heard them out…until it made me tired….but it made little difference. I knew some of what they said to be true, didn’t believe other things, but overall was just floored by their hate. They, of course, denied hate….but it oozed out of every word. Their words didn’t change my mind, except to show me I didn’t have the energy for a relationship with this “reporter” right now. But I still love the imperfect person they were reporting on.
Love is not a warm and fuzzy feeling. In fact, if you only love those for whom you have warm and fuzzy feelings, there is not much power in it. If the people in your life only love the perfect sunshine-y you, and you only love them when you are around the perfect sunshine-y them, see it as it is. That’s called conditional love. It’s a weak love.
I am after agape love. The kind that loves people “even though”. The love that is there even when we are gross, making bad decisions, falling short of the mark, and getting the gossips talking. Loving when they don’t necessarily love us back the same way. I hope I continually am learning to actively love others through it all. And loving myself that way. Because that’s how God loves….and the kind of love he wants us to demonstrate when he tells us to love him first, and then to love others as ourselves. Let’s work on increasing that in our lives. It’s a beautiful thing. Even when the blind folk tell us it’s not.
It’s been one week. One week since my dear great nephew left this earth. I still feel like I am in a fog. I can function, and have accomplished what I needed to do, but things happen that show me I am not quite myself. My mind, if not kept in check, goes to worry…..and to images of his last minutes, the last seconds. I was not there, yet the images still fill my brain. God does take them away when I ask. I suspect it is me who brings them back.
Sara continues to amaze me. I watch her dogged desire to make sure Kaelan is remembered for what made him unique. I watch her looking out for her daughters and making sure they are OK. I see her writing down what she is thinking, believing that talking about it openly will help people…. hoping that in sharing her thoughts it will help others understand. Knowing that writing about it helps her as it helps me. Our therapy. Even better for us than talking it out, because our brains are so cluttered with thoughts they need the editing of thinking them through to make sense out of them.
Yesterday we lost the life of my great nephew Kaelan, my niece Sara’s boy, my sister Dana’s grandson, to suicide. That is how he died, but I hope no one sees him as just another statistic. That doesn’t tell the whole story. There are always so many layers. He is so much more than how his life ended. His story ended tragically, but he was full of life. That life is what we will choose to remember.
“I am what I am. I love me! And I don’t mean that egotistically – I love that God has allowed me to take whatever it was that I had and to make something out of it.” Stevie Wonder
“The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.” Jeremiah 31:3-4 King James Version (KJV)
If we are drawn with lovingkindness, why don’t we see that when we look in the mirror? And why don’t we grab those tambourines (tabrets) and celebrate this great masterpiece of the creator? Why don’t we love us? Will you love you, if I love me?