Reflections on a Life

Reflections on a Life

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Good Choices

Nate is spending a couple of days with me.  Every morning his mom has whispered to him to make 'good choices' before she heads off for her day.  He smiles and looks off in his six-year-old 'oh, mom' kind of way and says 'ok'.  And my heart is touched again and again as I think of this very tender moment and all its inherent possibilities.

Good choices.

Oh, what simple advice!  How completely life-changing if those were all that we made.  And why is it that we don't?  After all, most of the time, deep down we know what those good choices are. 

And yet.  We don't make them again and again, over and over.   Ad infinitum.  Ad nauseum. 

I think back over the years and can remember times when the good choice was in front of me, clear as the sky can be blue or the path is straight in front of me, and I made the less-than-good one.  The choice to say unkind words instead of 'I'm sorry' when my pride was hurt.  The choice to run away from a school rather than stay and work it out with a professor who gave me a less-than-stellar grade on a first assignment.  The choice to stay quiet when caught alone, late at night, instead of raising my voice and yelling for help.  The choice to marry the boy from college instead of admitting to myself I wasn't - at all - ready for that commitment.  And then the choice to run away when it seemed too hard.

More.  So many more.

The Buddha said:  "Why do what you will regret?  Why bring tears upon yourself?"

I wish I knew that answer.  Maybe poor choices feel like an easier path.  Maybe staying quiet feels like the 'nicer' thing to do.  Or lashing out means that we can score a point on the one that hurt us.

Maybe the 'bad' choices seem like they are more fun and we deserve to be happy once in a while.   Don't we?  Or, contrarily, the less-wise choice seems to be what we deserve because we aren't really worthy of that much happiness.  Are we?

What would this world be like if that loving mother's words to her small son could be the words we all engraved upon our hearts then - or now!?  Bullying would not occur.  Self-loathing, which is really the premise of all cruelty, would be diminished if not dismantled entirely.

If all our sons were raised to make good choices, there would be no woman anywhere who suffered violence at the hands of any man.  If all our daughters were successfully instilled with the message of 'good choices', there would be so much less suffering for the sake of acceptance.  

Buddha finishes his wisdom by saying "Do only what you do not regret,  And fill yourself with joy."

This is a good prayer for ourselves.

This is a great prayer for our world.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The People Who Knew Us When

I'm just home from another high school reunion.  My husband refuses to go to his.  So does my brother.  So do many friends I know. 

I understand why, I guess. High school to many was the epitome of painful memories and the wish that things could have been done differently if we 'only knew then what we know now'.

But to me, that's kind of the point of being with these people from my past.  They did know me 'when' in that once upon a time of my awkwardness and insecurity - tugging on my skirt and wondering if everybody saw me trip up the stairs or hear me when I snorted when I laughed. 

They remember the same teachers with their pants pulled up to their chest or tugging to release their knotted knickers;  the same smells from the donut shop across the street;  the same songs that still light my fire and make me think it's a little bit funny.

They remember the pale yellow corduroy skirts and trousers that were proudly painted and worn during our senior year - a tradition from years gone by that seems to be sadly lost.

They remember the old school with the fabulous basketball arena and the smell of the popcorn on Fridays and the cockroaches in the lockers.

They remember the downtown that was vibrant and crowded with shoppers and toy stores and actual places to buy clothes and shoes and vanilla-cream-cokes.

They remember the tragic accident on a cool fall night that left some of our friends dead, others badly hurt, all of us forever changed.  We held on to each other a little closer that night and will always remember where we were when we heard the news and the names.  We were not - were never - invincible, and now we understood that a little more absolutely.  

They remember a me that no one else in my family or my immediate circle of friends where I live now - who I love dearly! - will ever know.

There is something timeless in being with friends who share those same memories.

We kid ourselves that the dramas are long forgotten and that growing up has meant all of it is behind us now.  We are still feeling insecurities and disappointments and as long as we are breathing, probably always will.  There are still words to be said, tears to be shed and closures to be experienced.  And that's all part of the remembering that is also so sweet.

How lovely to actually be able to say 'I'm sorry' to someone about something that has haunted a place in memory for decades. To actually be friends with the people that were only a dream then.  Or to make friends with people that for some reason weren't walking the same hallways at the same time or were taking different classes, going different directions but now we found we pretty much all of us ended up in the same place.

How precious to laugh until we cry about things that can never be explained to anyone unless they lived then and there and knew us 'when'.

We grew up.  But we didn't outgrow who we were then and how it shaped who we were to become.   It is said that every experience - good and bad - makes us the people we are today and that it is important to embrace them all and be thankful for how all of it did shape us. 

And I am.  And I do.  And I love these friends - newly found and forever held in my heart - for the way being with them helps me feel more like me.

And, after all, that is and has always been my prayer, even though I may not have known it as such at the time.

To just be me.