Funny, but there are probably just as many stories about someone doing the right thing and winning as there are about someone doing the right thing yet losing. Both are inspiring not for their outcomes but for their decisions to deliberately do what is right, regardless the outcome. When we do the right things, outcomes cease being the climax, focus, meaning or purpose of the story but the doing of the right thing is itself, the sole author of the inspiration. Outcomes are too often overrated, mostly by those who don’t live by faith and so doing, learn nothing about still having joy in endings unknown.
I was a junkie. The cravings were unbearable.
I was using day and night around the clock and my mental health was suffering.
I had dealers all over.
Podcasts, TV, talk radio, the internet, subscriptions written everywhere.
I was addicted to politics.
It nearly ruined my life and made me an angry, contentious man nobody wanted to be around anymore.
Then on the road one day, frantically pushing buttons on the dial for yet another fix,
I found the news and this time it was different. It was good news.
It was the SOS answer to prayer when I was at rock bottom.
I started with a few minutes a day on the way to work.
Then took another 15 on the way home.
I got hooked. My attitude changed. I have friends who like me again
and I’m up to more than 30 minutes a day.
I’m Don M. And I’m an SOS addict.
Spiders, clown faces,
And bridges collapsing.
Burglars who break in on me
While I’m napping.
Slivers and big dogs who
Foam at the mouth,
These fears turn all my anxieties south.
Zombies and barfing
Free falls from high places,
Tornadoes, lightning and
Tightly closed spaces,
Birds that attack and
All things that sting,
These are a few of my scariest things.
When there’s alley fights,
Entries with no lights,
When I’m home alone,
These are a few of my scariest things,
All fears of the great un-known.
IRS letters and CPS knocking
Nightmares I’m falling
And empty chairs rocking,
Faces in windows when I’m in the shower
I can think up most anything scary at this hour.
Whether naked or afraid
In the most desolate of places
In the loneliest of moments
Or darkest of spaces
Not a penny to your name
Nor coat on your back
Not a crumb in your stomach
Nor morsel to snack
Closest to death
And the end now in sight
On your last breath
And losing the fight
It matters not time
It matters not place
You can always find humor
And a smile on your face.
So who cares if it’s Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday?
I didn’t send a card, but neither did everyone. We were all too busy making plans for an extra long weekend we did nothing to earn, to get out of town, party longer, harder or just get stuff done. Ask the younger crowd and most don’t even remember the guy. Fewer will actually spend no moments celebrating the life of one who refused injustice, abhorred inequality and remains the outspoken icon from a world and a time when virtue and purpose were more important than life itself. He was a black man in a white world, making his battle even more unthinkable, and a quick and easy target…which tragically it became.
Fortunately, our society has evolved, but at a snail’s pace. Injustice and inequality are still our social issues, outspokenness is just the unnecessary rocking of a boat for those whose ignorance means another paid day off on the calendar or an extra night to drink away what remains of our deep social ills.
To actually remember the achievements of a dead black guy and the world today had he not stood up and spoke out might be a buzzkill for the plans of most. But I do hope some will wake up Monday morning with prayers, dreams and hopes for which they still might willingly die, or at the very least, a pause to send up a thank you for one who did.
There was a time when peoples’ politics defined much of who they were—morals, character, virtues, fund of knowledge, their understanding of complicated world events and their personal empathies. Their beliefs weren’t always agreeable but were at least well-defended by deep roots and informed convictions.
Disagreements were conversation points revealing sharp differences yet with respect for the other person and a craving for depth and understanding of their opposing view.
Discussions were exited without driving wedges or assaults on character. They were deliberate, genuine attempts at bridge building though neither one might admit it in the moment.
To understand another’s fundamental politics was a desire to understand the entirety of the person. Conversations weren’t punctuated by sound bytes, innuendo or irrelevant periphery. They weren’t permitted hiatus on vague or shallow arguments and were always less about the party and more about the mind and heart of the person.
The end game was to evolve new ideas and solutions for all rather than digression into single issues of personal preference with feet dug in.
They embraced ‘what-ifs’ not as threats but as the creative bridges they were and ‘why-nots’ as opportunities to lay new stones for a unifying path, not for casting at one another across their divide. Indeed, they were dialogues of dream-builders engaged in the pursuit of a better life, a better world and prosperous opportunity for the all versus the one.
It was a hot day in August 56 years ago when a man spoke “I have a dream” and unified a sharply divided nation of a lesson that had yet to learn. That dream can still come true in this polarized world if people want it bad enough. Meaningful change waits for those who firmly grasp the fact that under the veneer, what we all want has more in common than not, and in many ways, is much the same thing.
Inside each conscientious writer is a tiny astronomer glancing upward to the skies for just the right word to change the hearts of men.
I spent 10 days with my daughter over the holidays and left for home a very proud dad and grandpa. I wrote this on the plane…
She hears every breath
And smells every smell
Sees front and behind
Months ahead just as well.
A Jill of all trades
A mistress of none
Not a moment she fades
Not even just one.
Her life is a calendar
Planned down to the minute
With dates for all others
But herself not in it.
Earns nothing in wages
But paid daily in love
Working harder and faster
Than we’re aware of.
Laundry playtime and dishes
And all tasks in between
She meets everyone’s wishes
While hers go unseen.
She’s a mother and wife now
First my little girl
Making good on her vow
She’s everyone’s pearl.