Maplewood Drive

Last night I dreamt I returned to the house on Maplewood Drive, where the old Oak tree spreads its branches over the front yard. In my memory the tree still keeps watch over the children playing in its dappling shade, even though it was uprooted in a terrible storm long ago, The vision of the sun on its golden leaves pierces my heart with gladness. It tells me my life was not lived in vain.

The concrete walkway which still divides the lawn, leads to the glassed-in porch rising above the bricked-in receptacle for flowers. After summer’s end the flowers will begin to die. The leaves will turn to gold and then brown as they fall, waiting for the rake to tease them into mounds for the children to laugh and leap into. Later, when the snow comes, when sunlight glitters on melting icicles hanging from gutters, the children will need new winter coats.

The house fit my vision of an older home, cheap, most likely in need of repair, but in a good location near a school; a used swing set would be found. The school lay just beyond three houses on our side of the street. An actual boon, as I often had to remind a child to watch for traffic before crossing the street.

When we bought the house its white paint was blistered by the sun, peeling randomly. Later, we painted it blue. Foreverafter, It would be called “the blue house” in a term of affection, even after it had been painted gray.

Maplewood was many things, to the children and to me. Also, in a different sense, to their father. You may later wonder why he’s left out of these passages—the reason being simple; his involvement with us was due to an act of generosity on his part, which, although bringing him gifts he hadn’t anticipated, derailed him from the life he’d sought.

When I told him of a time I’d felt downhearted but reminded myself of why I should be joyful, saying how it brought back my joy, driving the darkness away, he was shocked. “You manipulate yourself!” he exclaimed.

A brilliant man, he felt no need to monitor himself. Self-monitoring involves the ability to monitor and regulate emotions and behaviors in response to social environments and situations, being aware of your behavior and the impact it has on others.

Gratefully, I was able to cooperate with fate by modifying my lot so that today I rejoice in my memories of Maplewood Drive, knowing it was all worthwhile.  

Are You Among the Living Dead?

Napoleon is alleged to have said “History is a lie agreed upon.” But what of your personal history, the one you carry around in your head? Is it a lie? How often in recalling past events have you changed your mind about what you believe happened? Memory can be a funny thing,  allowing doubts to creep in and change your perspective. That’s because you’ve been learning new things, things which should’ve thrown past beliefs into doubt. You’re a living, changing organism, interacting with the world of people and events every day, which allows you to add the new things you’ve learned. If you insist on hanging onto what you once believed to be true in the past, in spite of new knowledge, you’re in danger of dying of old age before you’re old enough to suffer from dementia. Some people die of old age in their thirties or even twenties! You probably know some. They don’t even know they’re dead. They still carry the past, never daring to question what they once believed.

Welcome to the Age of Dissent

“Dissenters are often portrayed as selfish and disloyal, but Sunstein shows that those who reject pressures imposed by others perform valuable social functions, often at their own expense. This is true for dissenters in boardrooms, churches, unions, and academia. It is true for dissenters in the White House, Congress during times of war and peace.”  Excerpted from “Why Societies Need Dissent” by Cass R. Sunstein

In attempts to explain various periods of time, history books are riddled with AGES: the “AGE of this” or the “AGE of that”.  Will future historians call the times we are now living through the “AGE  of Dissent”? Or the “AGE of Stupidity”?

Being neither a historian nor a genius, I was led to ponder where I fit in until I finally understood I had become a contrarian—one who is, of course, contrary; we do not wish to fit in.

We’ve reached a dichotomy. The time will come soon when we must start anew. Find the best that’s in you and use it to start your New World.

A Little Bit of Nonsense

This is how the world ends, not all at once, just a little bit at a time.

 Why is J. D. Vance’s little bit of Jabberwocky making such a big splash? Twas brillig and the slithy toves –you know the rest–doesn’t everyone?

I’m appalled by this pandering to an opportunistic quasi-hillbilly who has indecently laid claim to the name. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised since it’s simply more of the same: disrespect for a people who fought to independently carve out a life for themselves and their children in the wilderness through their own labor.

Although I left eastern Kentucky many years ago in order to find employment I continue to be proud of my heritage. My ancestors were pioneers in eastern Kentucky, several generations (including one great great grandfather who was about two years old) coming into what is now Letcher County in the Adams Wagon Train.

I’m proud because I know what we stood for in the beginning and still do. I took my heritage with me when I left, passing my values along to my own children. I taught them to take pride in our ancestors who built this country from scratch. There may be a few bad’uns somewhere in our lineage but if there are, then God Bless Them.

The Bully Within

Do you often find yourself being attacked by a bully? I don’t mean the one at the office or the obnoxious one sent by the government to harass you. This bully waits inside you, usually until night when you’re in bed trying to sleep. He sneaks in with memories of your past trangressions (especially the embarrassing ones) using them to shame you. with. You try to chase him away but it doesn’t work. Your face grows warm, becomes buried beneath the covers.

Once this bully has your attention, it’s hard to get rid of him. “There’s nothing I can do about that now,” you say. “It was a stupid thing I did (or said). I suffered because of it.”  Or “It was an accident. I didn’t know a piece of toilet paper was stuck to my skirt. You should’ve told me instead of snickering to each other about it and pretending you didn’t see it,” Etc, etc. The things this bully has collected to shame you with knows no end. What do you do?

If a friend were to confide one of these incidents to you how would you respond? Would you feel compassion for your friend, assuring him or her that we all make mistakes and it was nothing to be ashamed of? How come it’s harder to express compassion for ourselves? Everybody needs support in healing and growth, so why shouldn’t it come from inside us?  You need to be a friend to yourself, getting rid of the bully who is set on shaming you.

The inner bully is a by-product of the lack of self-compassion. We struggle with shame and self-doubt until we are able to bridge the difference between how we treat our friends and how we treat ourselves. So kick your bully out in an act of compassion for the person you’ve become.