Contemplation

Thursday, December 15, 2016

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I Chose to Fall Silent


Yesterday, a cold, blue-sky day, I made a trip to the local grocery store. As I entered the store, I smiled at passersby (and received warm smiles in return), collected my coffee and other items and headed to a checkstand. 

As the man in front of me (male, white, about 30, clean, casually dressed) turned to leave with his groceries, I noticed the back of his black T-shirt emblazoned with:

Image result for i am the infidel allah warned you about

I had never seen the slogan before. The words, along with the skull partially camouflaged by the American flag, chilled me.  Of course, I am well aware of the extreme animus and hatred brewing in our country (especially toward persons of color or different ideologies). 

For some reason, I felt the need to engage this young man. So, while the clerk rang up my purchases, I took the opportunity to ask, in a non-confrontational manner, "What's the meaning of the words on the back of your T-shirt?" 

He stopped, turned, looked at me with dark, stern eyes and said, low and forcefully, "It means I hate Muslims." 

"You hate them? Why is that?"

He continued arranging his groceries in the cart and matter-of-factly stated, "They're murderers, rapists ... I hate them."

I had ventured into what was, for me, uncharted territory and my instincts were to pull back. I fell silent. I titled my head to the side, looked at him quizzically, and, tight-lipped, turned back to the clerk. 

I wonder what his response would have been if I had offered, "I am a Muslim, do you hate me?" 

I have fantasized that his response would have been, "No, I don't know you," leaving the perfect opening for me to say, "Exactly."

Many of my friends, with love in their hearts and conviction in their voices, would have definitely asked that question. 

I am not Muslim, they are not Muslim. However, we stand solidly against the pervasive blanketing of a culture, religion or ethnicity based upon the heinous acts of some members or adherents. 

Today I took the opportunity to Google the phrase I'd seen on the man's shirt. I clicked on a page that took me to a site so filled with hate, categoric falsehoods and venomous words, I felt as though I had thrown my entire mind into a pile of excrement ... and the stench might even be palpable.


          I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
~ Martin Luther King



Saturday, December 10, 2016

Perseverance

A recent  obituary in our local paper told of the life and death of one Happy Hieronimus who was born in 1930 and died of "terminal old age." Right away, the name "Happy Hieronimus" intrigued me, and as I read her obituary it became clear her name fit her personality. Quite a lady!

It was the phrase "terminal old age" that set my mind turning and churning. Of course, we're all "terminal." But, we don't think of our life that way, do we? 

David Eagleman, a neuroscientist and writer at Baylor College of Medicine, where he directs the Laboratory for Perception and Action and the Initiative on Neuroscience and Law, was quoted as follows:

“One of the seats of emotion and memory in the brain is the amygdala. When something threatens your life, this area seems to kick into overdrive, recording every last detail of the experience. 

The more detailed the memory, the longer the moment seems to last. This explains why we think that time speeds up when we grow older, why childhood summers seem to go on forever, while old age slips by while we’re dozing. 

The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.”

On a conscious level I don't think of "something [threatening my] life," but I certainly know I am not going to live forever. 

This assessment of Eagleman's answered several questions my friends and I (all around the same age) have often asked ourselves and each other. Well, maybe not "several questions" answered--maybe it simply explains the one we wonder about constantly: where has the time gone?? 


Spring passes and one remembers one's innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one's exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one's reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one's perseverance.
~ Yoko Ono


Friday, December 9, 2016

Learning CPR

I never did learn how to "do" CPR, cardio pulmonary resuscitation. Years ago, the dental office staff had more than adequate instruction. I just never mastered the correct rhythm; which made me feel more of a dummy than the CPR "dummy." 
        However, I feel I have come very close to mastering another type of CPR: learning how to be calm, patient and reasonable with myself. 
  
In this crazy, mixed-up world of ours it's not easy to remain that way: calm, patient and reasonable. It seems as though we're being pummeled on all sides by dire news and the admonition to be afraid. Afraid and fearful and wary.
        My semi-religious upbringing occurred in the Christian Science Church. As limned in several earlier blog posts, in an attempt to live what she felt were the tenets of that philosophy, Mother would not allow in our home any discussion of, mention of, word of, the world's strife, war or upheaval. Dad seemed to relish dwelling on the same. Talk about a Yin and Yang household! 
      (Yes, I am aware that Yin and Yang, together, create wholeness and completion and for over 63 years, until dad's death, Mom and Dad seemed to epitomize this philosophy.)

My thoughts of late regarding calmness, patience and reasonableness have less to do with the impact from the outside world and more to do with my sometimes frightened and unsure interior mindscape
            I'm learning to be patient with my physical self and its ever-enlarging litany of limitations. I'm practicing ways to stay calm when my mind wants to wander to new worries and concerns. I'm concentrating on being reasonable, not beat myself up, when I now and then forget a word or have a momentary lapse about where I placed my car keys.
            The more I practice my own type of CPR, the more often my breathing calms and my mind clears. So, this "dummy" is just going to keep on practicing. Yet, what an odd world: when I finally feel I've gotten my mind together, my body sometimes feels as though it's falling apart.