Monthly Archives: October 2013

Love does

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A recent Facebook study reports a dramatic change in the connectedness of society.  What used to be the proverbial “6 degrees of separation,” representing the number of people in a friendship chain, at least among the 1.2 billion Facebook users, is now 3.74 degrees.  Essentially, this means “when considering another person in the world, a friend of your friend knows a friend of their friend.”

It’s a small world after all.

The mathematical change in the friendship factor, however, is also accompanied by a definitional change.  We may, indeed, be closer in proximity to one another, at least in cyber terms, but are we also “friends” in the traditional sense of the word?  I think not.  I’ll be the first to admit that social media contacts are not necessarily as social as we perhaps would like.

In reality, we may be more acquainted with the world’s inhabitants, but we are no better connected in meaningful ways with people than a rogue bird joining a flock flying south for the winter.

“Meaningful ways.”

That kind of begs the question, doesn’t it?

What constitutes “friendship?”  Certainly it’s more than acquaintance or a mathematically equated number.  And if you’re on the internet, you’ve encountered thousands of memes, captioned in pretty pictures, describing traits of good friends.  Yawn.

Once, in my own mini-experiment, I posted two back to back posts immediately following one another. The first was a simple request of anyone who might be nearby at some point in the day, to give me a lift to a destination not a mile away.  The second was a funny kitten picture I had captioned.  Now, I live immediately off the busiest part of the freeway where traffic is constant and I made it clear that the very short ride could be offered at any time of the day that might be convenient.  My “friend list” on Facebook numbered about 600 at the time and it was a public post for widest possible reach to those who might make an offer, suggestion or even a good excuse why they could not.

On that first post for a ride, I received one “like” and no comments. The cute kitty got a whopping 36 likes and a dozen adorable comments.  I can only presume that the same people who saw the first also saw the next.

Certainly, this was no scientific experiment nor did it prove much at all except maybe my original point…that friendship is redefined, like it or not.

I have always been an advocate of what I call “revelational friendship.”  In my program of study for my graduate degree, we learned there are different levels of communication, with each successive level indicating a greater likelihood of commitment to a relationship.  The first level, cliché communication included basic niceties like “Good morning,” “How are you?” and “Nice weather, eh?” Basically, stuff one says to acknowledge another but not commit to a conversation or, really, much more.  The second level, “informational sharing,” would suggest a need to communicate a fact or notice to someone but without a need nor expectation for reciprocation. “The boss is out today,” “Joanie needs picked up after volleyball,” and “I’ll bring the main dish to the picnic.” The level of commitment to the receiver is minimal and no self disclosure beyond the facts is offered.  The third level, includes the “sharing of ideas” which thrusts us into a potential for risk. “I like the Rolling Stones,” or “Green is my favorite color, “ or “Let’s do it this way,” are all simple statements which could be disagreed with or disapproved of. In this level, the communicator takes a calculated risk that the receiver will not attack with an opposite or condemning view.

It’s at this point when I think friendship begins to emerge.

Now before I finish with the last two levels, think of the comments you observe on most social media posts you see.  Exactly. With a few exceptions, this is where most end.

The fourth of five levels: “sharing emotions.” “I feel a little scared,” or “It’s just sad that this is happening,” or “I can’t take it any more,” would be indicators that either you or the other party is endeavoring to trust each other with a highly rejectable and risky statement of feeling.  Remember, feelings, in and of themselves, are neither right nor wrong.  They are, very simply, your own. Most won’t share much on this level unless it’s with someone they trust or at least, would like to trust.  Have you ever seen a Facebook reply to someone’s emotional issue with “You shouldn’t feel that way!,” or “Don’t worry, be happy!”  These are excellent examples of why social media, generally speaking, is no place for expectation of intimacy.

There are many “friends” who elect to remain behind their cyber walls and profiles, never to meet, never to offer any meaningful response or assistance and very likely, never to receive any.

Friends in deed

are friends, indeed.

Recently, my church ran a teaching series called Love Does, titled after the book by Bob Goff.  The challenge was to reach beyond mere words of love to make them tangible demonstrations in our friendless world. As a culminating action, 2,000 of our men, women and children invaded our community with acts of caring, help and kindness.

Abraham Maslow proposed people can’t “hear” any bigger message than their current level of need allows.  Those without a bed to sleep in or a meal to eat simply cannot hear any message beyond until those basic human needs are met and satisfied.

So as friends of the community, all 2,000 put in a long day of concentrated, hard labor at a few select locations in the valley in order to make a dramatic difference in the lives of needy people and a demonstration of the power of people who, together, put their friendship into action.  Love does.

It’s a verb.

Let me summarize by suggesting a couple things.

First, lower your expectations for social media connections. It ain’t happening. Get out there and actually meet someone in person. Don’t expect social media friends to be a true reflection of your value, likeability or expectation of who will, indeed, come through at the toughest moments.

Second, invest most in those who invest most in you. This is not to suggest ignoring others, but if your money was time and you wanted to make the most of it, you’d put it where the best returns are most probable. Build a portfolio of friends at all levels and hold fast to those who take tangible emotional and behavioral risks to be there for you.

Finally, stop saying and start doing, regardless of reciprocation.  The world is becoming an evermore connected place of people open to influence.  If you have a message to share, first share yourself in deed to the other.  They’ll be more apt to listen to your words as a result.

Indeed.

LMSM,

Don

The 99.18% Chance of Survival

I woke up this morning. And I smiled.

Not such a big deal when millions do it every morning.

But today was different.

If you can get past the embedded morbidity of my following  thought, I believe you might just get the point.

You see, I had this not-so-fleeting sense upon waking.  I know it’s not uncommon to have, and I’ve had it before. Only when it happened before, I cried.

I had a sense that I might just die today. Very seriously, die. Croak my last and keel over. Kick the bucket, take  the big nose dive, whatever you want to call it.

No idea how or when. It could be in the middle of writing th

 

Okay, that was the extent of the morbid part, but it got me to thinking, as such things ought.

Statistically speaking, I have a 99.18% chance of surviving until tomorrow.

That means there is a high probability I will, indeed, finish this story and get it posted.

But I digress once again.

 

So why did I smile this morning when once before I cried?

I’m not looking forward to dying. I don’t do pain well, however, it’s an inevitability of living.  I suppose the smile comes at this point in my life because I am quite happy with who I have become.  Granted, it has taken nearly 53 years to arrive at this point but with most of my life behind me, I’m pretty set in my ways and I like the ways I am living now.

That wasn’t always the case

I’m far from having the most toys.  I own very little and I earn even less. I’m not well traveled. The most crucial part of my life’s education has only just begun.  I have my childrens’ weddings to attend, grandbabies to hold and very likely, many more sad moments of losing ones I have loved who will pass before my time. My bucket list, I am quite certain, will receive fewer check marks than I will ever hope to give.

But I pause to consider what I have.

If I were to beat the odds and die today, I would die with optimism, hope and vision.  I would die running with my life in hand and very little else, tangibly speaking.

I believe life is more than acquisition.

The gathering of experiences, things and moments make for great memories and fun.  We all will continue this gathering until we can gather no more, and that’s expected.

The difference for me is not a tally of these things but a knowledge I am firmly on the path to receive them should they come my way.  The path.

The path IS the destination.

There will always be one better toy, one better time, one better moment to be experienced.  But if you set your sights on these peripherals, you will die with regrets and an insatiable hunger for that one last whatever.

I now know my God when I once did not.

I’m reminded of the story about how His lamp illuminates only the ground underneath our feet as we walk through life. Rarely does He shine a flashlight into the distance along our path as we may become afraid to take the next step, fear the duration of our journey or retreat from what lies up ahead.

The path. That’s it. Period.

When you emerge from the underbrush and find that path, it is immediately apparent.  It’s what you have sought because you know where it leads. There is a peace and a calming pace. You enjoy what’s under your feet each moment. No concern for anything out of the light He provides you. No preoccupation with arriving.

Because you know you’ll wake up with a smile when you do.

 

LMSM,

Don

Something to think about on this Anti-Bullying Day

One of the most powerful statements I have heard in my life was this:

Hurt people

hurt people.

We may never fully understand why bullies do the things they do.

We may never get our apologies.

Perhaps our only consolation will be the knowledge of this fact.

It is not a defense of their actions nor an excuse for their behaviors

but it may help us gain perspective and engage us in prayer for those who are now or have ever been bullies in hopes that they will pause, if just for a moment, to think before they act.

LMSM,

Don

Johnny Lingo’s Eight-Cow Wife

The recent engagement of my daughter has caused me to reflect on many things.  Nodal moments in our lives often do. My own failed marriage was, in large part, my fault.  This story was something I came upon in its original publishing in Reader’s Digest in 1988.  I often referred to it in marriage therapy when couples in my office were at their most broken point.  It became a significant turning point for change in their relationship.  Because my musings of late have been about relationship, I decided I could write no better story to illustrate such a point.  I wish I had done things different in my own life but that is now in the past.  Perhaps this short story will help you at such a crossroads.  If so, it would also be redemptive for my own conscience.   Enjoy.  LMSM, Don

The Eight-Cow Wife

by Patricia McGerr,
Adapted and edited from it’s original appearance in

Reader’s Digest, February 1988, pp138-141

“Get Johnny Lingo to help you find what you want and then let him do the bargaining,” advised Shenkin as I sat on the veranda of his guest house and wondered whether to visit Nurabandi. “He’ll earn his commission four times over. Johnny knows values and how to make a deal.”

“Johnny Lingo.” The chubby boy on the veranda steps hooted the name, then hugged his knees and rocked with shrill laughter.

“Be quiet,” said his father and the laughter grew silent. “Johnny Lingo’s the sharpest trader in this part of the Pacific.”

The simple statement made the boy choke and almost roll off the steps. Smiles broadened on the faces of the villagers standing nearby.

“What goes on?” I demanded. “Everybody around here tells me to get in touch with Johnny Lingo and then breaks up. It is some kind of trick, a wild-goose chase, like sending someone for a left-handed wrench? I there no such person or is he the village idiot or what? Let me in on the joke.”

“Not idiot,” said Shenkin. “Only one thing. Five months ago, at festival time, Johnny came to Kiniwata and found himself a wife. He paid her father eight cows!”

He spoke the last words with great solemnity and I knew enough about island customs to be thorougly impressed. Two or three cows would buy a fair-to-middling wife, four or five a highly satisfactory one.

“Eight cows!” I said. “She must have been a beauty that takes your breath away.”

“That’s why they laugh,” my guest said. “It would be kindness to call her plain. She was little and skinny with no–ah–endowments. She walked with her shoulders hunched and her head ducked, as if she was trying to hide behind herself. Her cheeks had no color, her eyes never opened beyond a slit and her hair was a tangled mop half over her face. She was scared of her own shadow, frightened by her own voice. She was afraid to laugh in public. She never romped with the girls, so how could she attract the boys?”

“But she attracted Johnny?”

This is the story Shenkin told me:

“All the way to the council tent the cousins were urging Sam to try for a good settlement. Ask for three cows, they told him, and hold out for two until you’re sure he’ll pay one. But Sam was in such a stew and so afraid there’d be some slip in this marriage chance for Sarita that they knew he wouldn’t hold out for anything. So while they waited they resigned themselves to accepting one cow, and thought, instead, of their luck in getting such a good husband for Sarita. Then Johnny came into the tent and, without waiting for a word from any of them, went straight up to Sam Karoo, grasped his hand and said, “Father of Sarita, I offer eight cows for your daughter.” And he delivered the cows.

“As soon as it was over Johnny took Sarita to the island of Cho for the first week of marriage. Then they went home to Narabundi and we haven’t seen them since. Except at festival time, there’s not much travel between the islands.”

This story interested me so I decided to investigate.

The next day I reached the island where Johnny lived. When I met the slim, serious man, he welcomed me to his home with a grace that made me feel like the owner. I was glad that from his own people he had respect unmingled with mockery.

I told him that his people had told me about him.

“They speak much of me on that island? What do they say?”

“They say you are a sharp trader,” I said. “They also say the marriage settlement that you made for your wife was eight cows.” I paused, then went on, coming as close to a direct question as I could. “They wonder why.”

“They say that?” His eyes lighted with pleasure. He seemed not to have noticed the question. “Everyone in Kiniwata knows about the eight cows?”

I nodded.

“And in Narabundi everyone knows it, too.” His chest expanded with satisfaction. “Always and forever, when they speak of marriage settlements, it will be remembered that Johnny Lingo paid eight cows for Sarita.”

So that’s the anwer, I thought with disappointment. All this mystery and wonder and the explanation’s only vanity. It’s not enough for his ego to be known as the smartest, the strongest, the quickest. He had to make himself famous for his way of buying a wife. I was tempted to deflate him by reporting that in Kiniwata he was laughed at for a fool.

As we spoke a woman entered the adjoining room and placed a bowl of blossoms on the dining table. She stood still a moment to smile with sweet gravity at the young man beside me. Then she went swiftly out again. She was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. This girl had an ethereal loveliness. The dew-fresh flowers with which she’d pinned back her lustrous black hair accented the glow of her cheeks. The lift of her shoulders, the tilt of her chin, the sparkle of her eyes all spelled a pride to which no one could deny her the right. And as she turned to leave she moved with grace that made her look like a queen.

When she was out of sight I turned back to Jonny Lingo and found him looking at me with eyes that reflected the pride of the girl’s.

“You admire her?” he murmured.

“She–she’s glorious. Who is she?” (I couldn’t help, but think — if she was a servant, how difficult it must be for homely Sarita, having to daily be in the presence of such a beautiful woman. And what a temptation for Mr. Lingo!)
“She is my wife.”

I stared at him blankly. Was this some custom I had not heard about? Do they practice polygamy here? He, for his eight cows, bought both Sarita and this other? Before I could form a question he spoke again.

“This is the only one — Sarita.” His way of saying the words gave them a special significance. “Perhaps you wish to say she does not look the way they say she looked in Kiniwata.”

“She doesn’t.” The impact of the girl’s appearance made me forget tact. “I heard she was homely. They all make fun of you because you let yourself be cheated by Sam Karoo.”

“You think he cheated me? You think eight cows were too many?” A slow smile slid over his lips as I shook my head. “She can see her father and her friends again. And they can see her. Do you think anyone will make fun of us then? Much has happened to change her. Much in particular happened the day she went away.”

“You mean she married you?”

“That, yes. But most of all, I mean the arrangements for the marriage.”

“Arrangements?”

“Do you ever think,” he asked reflectively, “what it does to a woman when she knows that the price her husband has paid is the lowest price for which she can be bought? And then later, when all the women talk, as women do, they boast of what their husbands paid for them. One says four cows, another maybe six. How does she feel–the woman who was sold for one or two? This could not happen to my Sarita.”

“Then you paid that unprecedented number of cows just to make your wife happy?”

“Happy?” He seemed to turn the word over on his tongue, as if to test its meaning. “I wanted Sarita to be happy, yes, but I wanted more than that. You say she’s different from the way they remember her in Kiniwata. This is true. Many things can change a woman. Things that happen inside, things that happen outside. But the thing that matters most is what she thinks about herself. In Kiniwata, Sarita believed she was worth nothing. Now she knows that she is worth more than any other woman on the islands.”

“Then you wanted…”

“I wanted to marry Sarita. I loved her and no other woman.”

“But–” I was close to understanding.

“But,” he finished softly, “I wanted an eight-cow wife.”

Passing the baton

All things considered, she should have said no.

After all, that’s essentially what I trained her to do.

 

My oldest daughter got engaged last night.

She has fallen deeply and passionately in love with a man who did everything I never did.

Born in 1985, by the look on her face lately, you’d think her life began only a couple years ago.

I don’t know all the circumstances about how they met, how their relationship progressed or how he proposed to her last night, but I knew she’d begun getting past her past when she first called to introduce me to him several months ago.

“Hi Dad, are you gonna be home Monday?”

“Yeah honey, what’s up?”

“We wanted to come over and see you.”

“We? Who’s ‘we?’”

“Me and the man I’m probably gonna marry.”

 

Since then, I knew my time to pass the baton was coming.

 

You see, I didn’t run my part of the relay very well.

I provided her with many things she needed. I always loved her and I did a reasonably good job to instill in her a few good things as she grew up. Regretfully though, I also dished out betrayal, disloyalty and pain in doses that should have killed her.

How she could ever trust another man again after the beating she took from me has, for many years, been perhaps my single biggest concern as an old and graying  father.

A diet of lies and deceit, my contributions to her young life have been poisonous to her soul.  The one who was supposed to have modeled what to look for in a man who could take her from my arms and into the rest of her life intact, was nothing short of tragic.

But God.

It would take a miracle to undo all those obstacles I had erected.

But God.

And a guy named Ryan.

Redemption is an amazing thing.  It beats all odds.  It defies logic.  It crosses lines no one else can and slips through when nobody is watching.  Then suddenly, it appears and presents itself for the taking…or leaving.

My daughter is a remarkable woman. Against the odds, she has emerged resilient, tender and everything a dad like me could ever hope for in a daughter.

 

It’s the final leg.

I have since picked up the pace as best as an old man can to make up for lost time.

 

“Hi Don.”

“Hey Ryan, how’s it goin.”

“It’s good. I’m not sure of how to do this, though.  I don’t know the protocol and such, but I love your daughter and I want to marry her.  I really would like to have your blessing, though.”

“Ryan, any man who can put a smile back on her face after what I’ve done…and keep it there this long… deserves the prize. You have my blessing.”

I’m glad she could say yes.

I’m passing it on to you, Ryan.

Make her happy for the rest of her life.

Because life means so much.

 

LMSM,

Don

Consider the Geode

 

Consider the geode.

A geode is a hollow mass of mineral matter forming from gas bubbles or water-deposited minerals. The minerals which, over time, create the beautiful crystals in the interior of a geode, are present at its formation and leach into the center.  After rock around the cavity hardens, dissolved minerals are deposited on the inside surface. Over time, this slow feed of mineral constituents allows crystals to form inside the hollow chamber.

Beauty is only skin deep.

Daily, we encounter truly attractive people. Those with perfectly symmetrical features, great genes, sculptured faces and curves in all the right places.  Our society idolizes them. Some, in efforts to be more physically attractive, use botox, reconstructive surgeries, implants and other medical and cosmetic procedures to get that “born this way” look.

The  truly attractive person, however, is like a geode.

While they may or may not be among the more beautiful earthly creatures, they possess inner virtues at  conception  Over time, a slow, steady seepage of the dissipating outer beauty moves inward to the soul.  Their most sparkling physical features fade with age but are not lost at all.  They are richly transformed.

What may have once been young and beautiful on the outside,,

over time and with virtuous ingredients,

makes  truly handsome young  people absolutely gorgeous old people.

And when you get close enough to look inside, you see it.

LMSM,

Don

Like things, love people.

Things in life that matter most are rarely things.

Many moons ago, long before there was such a thing as an internet meme,

long before there was even such a thing as the internet,

I had an original thought.

I’m convinced that since then, it has been stolen, and happily so.

A father of three now grown and wonderful children, I have always been an advocate of teaching them important maxims to live by such as “do good in school,” “use the crosswalk” and “don’t do drugs.” Okay, well, I taught them other important things like “obey the law,” “save for retirement”…

This intro is not going well.

Many moons ago, I taught my young children this simple truth:

Like things and Love people.

How and when it occurred to me I couldn’t say, but since they were babies, apt to fall in love with their toys, I preached it. I’m fairly certain that I preached it so much, my tombstone will one day be inscribed with it. Many decades later, the saying is plastered all over the internet and I’m reasonably sure it began with me.

I failed miserably as a father and a role model. But I never got my “likes” and “loves” mixed up.

Love, the most important word in any language, loses its meaning and power when expressed to an inanimate object. Practically speaking, you can’t “love” or express the sentiment of devotion and commitment to something which by nature cannot hear it, appreciate it nor return it. A misapplication of this magnitude is a tragic error of the human vernacular. Love is not a colloquialism. It is not so cheap as to be applied to a banana or an Iphone. Bananas go brown. Iphones crack and die and neither has a soul. We throw them away or trade them in for new ones, only to express the same erroneous sentiment and devotion over and over again.

But Love.

Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth was written from a hellish jail, yet perfectly defines the uniquely human aspect of the object of love. We’ve no need to be patient, kind or selfless with a banana. We may like them a lot but we eat them at will and can stick one in our armpits if we want and the banana suffers no loss or shame.

To my defense, I “liked” drugs for eight years, but never loved them.

However, I have ALWAYS loved my children, even when I was spending time liking drugs more than loving my kids. Liking something is a temporal thing. It’s a changing taste that tosses aside the previous when something better comes along like a pumpkin spice latte.

Loving, however, is about a heart commitment and an emotion for someone that doesn’t change when they get ugly, act mean, cause pain, seem to lose flavor, or if I dare risk it, if they do drugs.

The one thing I did well as a father was to teach my kids to Like things and Love people.

I’m pretty sure that somehow, having repeated those words so many times so many moons ago helped them to forgive even me and love me anyway for all those years I was absent from their lives, liking meth.

Now, with another clean and sober anniversary just around the corner, I’m reminded of the time I was haunted and hunted down by my own lesson that saved my life.

Things in life that matter most are rarely things unless they can also love you back.

So, if you love this story, you already missed the point. Press like and try again.

Things in life that matter most are rarely things.

 

Irregular people

I rather like irregular people.

Ones dealt the most hands know most about losing and winning.

Ones most weathered tell fascinating storm stories with each wrinkle and scar.

Ones most alone are virtuosos of solitude and reflection without complaint.

Ones missing limbs are masters at compensation.

I rather like irregular people as they define compassion for others who will listen.

LMSM,

Don

 

Lessons from a Witch Hunt

My friend, Terry, likes to tell the story of having been accused of inappropriate behavior with two teen girls at school.
It seems the girls reported to the school authorities a couple instances wherein Terry reportedly made suggestive sexual comments to them during school hours and encouraged them to show their private parts. The incidents, as you can imagine, were reported to district authorities who launched a full investigation and completed it without Terry ever even knowing it was underway.

One morning when Terry showed up for school and entered the classroom, school police and other authorities were lying in wait. Without a word, they escorted Terry to a meeting room where a tribunal on the accusations was to be held without notice that very morning. Dumbfounded at what was going on, Terry texted a close friend to come and witness the event. However, upon arrival, he had to wait outside the door of the meeting.

The event began with the authorities citing written and recorded statements from the two girls alleging the crimes and the sordid details of each as well as the procedures of surveillance which had been secretly underway for weeks prior to this morning’s meeting. My friend was given no forum to talk or respond and it was quite apparent that the authorities were convinced of Terry’s guilt as police escorts stood by outside prepared for a trip to jail on the charges.

At the end of the hearing when they asked Terry for a comment before being taken away in handcuffs, the waiting friend was asked to be admitted to the hearing. The leader of the tribunal obliged and the friend emerged in the doorway. As he approached his imminently convicted friend Terry, he said “Hi honey, what happened?” and kissed him on the cheek.

As they stood there together, the “court,” so quick to arrive at a conviction, stared in obvious disbelief and embarrassment at what they apparently had overlooked. Without discussion, the proceedings were adjourned and Terry and his partner, a gay couple, were released to drive home without apology.

No more discussion on the event ensued. Ever. And my friend, so thoroughly disappointed in the leaders of his administration who failed to give him at least the benefit of the doubt, resigned his position and never returned.

There are any number of conclusions you could draw from this story.

Gender profiling, totalitarian tactics, abuse of authority, gay rights, due process…the list is wide open depending on what is most important and salient to you. In fact, as you were reading the story, which incidentally, is entirely true, you were probably drawing your own conclusions along the way, even though no reference was given to Terry’s gender or sexual preference until the very end.

The truth is, nobody listens without judgment. Processing information as a human, requires us to place some presumptive framework around it as we listen in order to be able to process the event as a whole, right or wrong. Stereotypes and primary assumptions have to be made to help the story make sense along the way. The unfortunate part of this is that when the story is completed, we stop there and oftentimes are quick to act on those presumptions of truth and begin our own individual tirades. It’s the difference between expressing an opinion and expressing an informed opinion.

Now go back and re-read the story. Terry (not my friend’s actual name to protect his identity) could have been a male or female, straight or gay, old or young, teacher or student, democrat or republican, and on and on.

Perhaps it’s our fast-paced lives that seemingly demand quick resolves to situations so we can move on to others. Maybe it’s our own individual histories and experiences which indelibly color our views and create knee-jerk responses.

Aren’t we a judging bunch.

But before we go apologizing all over the place for arriving too early and too definitively at sometimes wrong conclusions, don’t. For we are imperfect. Terribly and beautifully imperfect.

Personally, I think my buddy Terry showed great personal restraint and resolve and yes, grace, in the midst of his circumstances, which proved nothing short of a witch hunt. Knowledge of the truth of his innocence waited patiently while he was socially tortured and yet refused to volley the same kinds of judgments at his accusers as they were repeatedly spiking at him.

I believe he knew that at some point, the truth would be given a forum and by its own evidences, would trump the lies of his would- be enemies. This is much like Jesus did upon his accusation, arrest, conviction and crucifixion. He knew his innocence and while he had to suffer undeservedly, in a few days time, the truth would prevail.

I’m reluctant to try to drive home a single point here. There are so many lessons you might walk away with when you close your browser and move on with your day. I do hope, however, that you find one that applies to you. Perhaps how you’re a bit too judgmental and need to keep that in check today. Maybe you are angry at injustices which have been served you like those endured by my friend and need to let go of the hate for awhile. And maybe you will realize the value of a bit more patience in your day at work or home.

Paul Little once wrote, “Truth is Truth, regardless who believes it.” I believe that withholding judgments, exercising patience and managing your emotions, you might also find it to be true and when it comes time to render your own opinions on something important…and the time will come,…your opinion will be a fully informed one.

For those are the kinds of opinions that command respect, attention and admiration of others who still need to learn a lesson from a witch hunt.

Onward…

He climbed up on the sofa, put his arms around my neck, and loved me, furiously licking the tears as they streamed down my face after the phone call.  He knows this will mean we can’t be together as much anymore, but he’s seen me at my worst and loyal as the day is long, it was his way of telling me it’s all gonna be better. That’s just the way dogs are.

Eight months is a long time.  I’ve been out of work since March and living on $104.50 a week unemployment, the benefits of which are scheduled to expire next week. With the gracious help of my forever best friend and roommate, Craig, (who is not much of a reader and says he’ll wait for my stories to become a movie,) I’ve kept afloat.  I’ve not accepted charity or favors well.  I’m aware over the course of these months, I’ve denied some the blessings that come with giving.  Others have creatively found their way into my pantry, pocket and bank account when times were particularly tough.  I’ve been kidnapped and treated to dinner and a movie and found bills paid before they even arrived.

A man of words, I am at the moment without any.

The call came this afternoon officially offering me the job I’d interviewed for last week.  While I thought it had gone quite well, I also thought I might hear sooner.  But a couple things had to happen first.  Hindsight is 20/20 you know.

Through the course of the past several years, I have met and friended many new people. People of all persuasions, genders, colors, personalities, traits and states.  I had to.  After my divorce and the loss of my core of friends, many of whom were probably scared of their own issues, some of which were at the disputing core of my own, I found life kinda sucked being abruptly alone, disenfranchised from all I had known for 35 years.  In my new, but increasingly shallow and disappointing life, I was a subculture king, liked and loved …but for all the wrong reasons. Enter drugs. Exit drugs. Exit drug people. And most recently, exiting the remnant of drugless, but similarly unhealthy people from my life, the last of which occurred only yesterday.

Going from lots of friends, to no friends, to lots of the wrong kinds of friends, to no friends again, and now, a final sift of the unhealthy remnant…rest assured, if you’re reading this now, you probably made the cut and are part of a healthy contingent I need to be hanging out with these days.  I thank you for making my trip worthwhile.

Since my sobriety a couple years ago, social and emotional cutoffs from people has been nothing short of a slaughter, leaving me almost alone once again until a year ago when I got a new friend and let him in my life.  Puppies are the best teachers of love and trust. Instinctively, it’s what they do best. My roommate and close family have noticed a difference in my life ever since.  I have begun allowing people of my past back in, slowly, judiciously.

In my stories here, I have been raw and honest about things of my past and hopes for my future and reflective on some of the best times of my life.  Some have said I’ve been perhaps too open and detailed.  Humbug.

The way I figure it, I have maybe 25-30 years left here and I have vowed to pay all my bills and with what remains, do the best for myself and others and die with no regrets.  Naysayers and difficult people are too much work anymore. (That is, unless they are clients and I am getting paid to listen.)

The past eight months were a necessary post-sobriety curing period. When you are jobless, you have a lot of time to yourself to think, realize and change.  You learn humility, self-denial and frugality in ways only unemployment can teach.  And only when you are entirely ready do the planets align for you, allowing the dominoes to fall in rapid succession to make up for lost time, attempting to fulfill your destiny before you go belly up and six feet under.

To my new and growing posse of friends and the old stand-bys who patiently endured my whining while they waited for this moment, “thank you” seems a trite and inadequate response.  So how about this?

“Sorry, I need to get ready for work!”

I’ve waited for 8 months to say that once again.

LMSM,

Don