"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Saturday, August 14, 2004
cloy Function: verb
Etymology: alteration of Middle English acloien to lame, from Middle French encloer to drive in a nail, from Medieval Latin inclavare, from Latin in + clavus nail
1 : to surfeit with an excess usually of something originally pleasing
2 : what too much concern does to a person
Lately, things have been a little harder than I like them to be.
Allow me to grouse a bit, if I may. Ah, here's a convenient box, let's grouse into that.
Lets draw a line in my life at about, oh, say a year and a half ago. That's when I find out that I have an illness, had it for probably thirty years, and it won't ever go away. And it's chronic and I'll have to deal with it for every day the rest of my life.
Okay. Lots of people do that. Sure it's tough, but sometimes things just are tough. No problem.
So we'll put that in our box.
Next, we'll add a co-worker who probably grew up as a bully, feels inadequate in his current position, is doing a horrible job, and needs a scapegoat. Of course, he picks yours truly, and specifically singles out my illness as a topic for ridicule and attack. Twice, three times a week he engages in vicious verbal attacks for no reason other than to make himself feel better. If these had been taped, any one of them would have been grounds for a major lawsuit against any company that allowed it.
But I'm not that way. I usually just look silently back and let him rage and curse and whatever. Plop, in the box.
Understand, I'm not complaining here, just filling a box.
Next, the company that I've dedicated twelve years of my life to is failing fast, at the moment because of the actions of that co-worker, and no matter how hard I try, how many figures I run, how many projections I do, I can't get the two people who could stop it to do anything at all. So it dives and pancakes right on the pavement.
I have not seen a paycheck since April. Now, there is a chance, just a chance, that the company might still be saved. But if it is, and the same pilot is at the controls, I don't want a boarding pass.
Plop, in the box.
Next, my daughter's sudden pregnancy, wedding and everything that surrounded it. Sure, that was a good thing, but it was still stress. So that goes in too.
My son is very ill and needs major surgery, and is out of money and unable to work until it happens, and no insurance. We paid their house payment with our nest egg.
My fifteen year old cat is dying of renal failure.
Everyday stresses and stuff...
This box is pretty full. I mean really full. There is not a thing in there under my control.
So now, I get to try to tape the thing shut and lug it around with me. Uuuuggggh! Oooofff! Gasp!
And off I go.
Now, if you saw me carrying that thing on my back, what would be the correct response? Would it be "Are you tired? Is that heavy? What's in it?"
Sheesh, of course I'm tired! Isn't that obvious??!? Yes, it's heavy, you can see that! And no, I don't want to drag out everything in the box and show it to you!
No, a better conversation would be "Wow, that must be hard to carry. I'm sorry you have such a heavy burden." And I would smile weakly and pass on, touched by compassion.
I'm probably not getting my point across as well as I would like here. Suffice it to say that questions are bad, statements are good.
Standing here with the box, because of course all of the above is in fact true, I am learning some valuable lessons. One of them is how to really show compassion for those with heavy burdens. Many times, a person may end up hurting far worse after someone's attempt to help, because the process has dredged up all of the old wounds and the old weights. It is far better to just have compassion, and to let the person who is hurting have their dignity.
Some of us don't want to focus on the pains behind us. Instead, we zero in on the sunlight ahead, no matter how hard the journey, no matter how heavy the load.
Tonight was the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Athens. I caught a story in passing that I wish I had the details on, but it was about a long distance runner who, in the last Olympics, had come in hours after the rest of the competitors. He limped in bedraggled, exhausted, bleeding, and they asked him why he had bothered to complete the race, since he was so far behind.
His answer: "I was not sent here to begin the race. I was sent here to finish it."
As for me, I intend to finish this one too.
If they'll just let me carry this darned box in peace.
[trudges off with box]
Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.
Leonardo DaVinci, Notebooks (c. 1500)