Sunday, December 27, 2009

Some after Christmas thoughts...

Now that it’s over, I think it’s time to discuss the issue of Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and such.

I have no problem when someone says happy holidays to me. None. I am a non-practicing Catholic, and I do know Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. So in the spirit of Christ- I think I can be magnanimous and tolerant and sensitive to people who do not practice Christianity- or any religion at all, if that be the case.

As always, I see more than black and white- I see a million shades of grey. (And yes I like to spell grey with an e.) I’m not sure why this is even an issue. It bothers me enough to write about though.

On Christmas day, my son and I went to the movies. I said Merry Christmas to the kid that sold me my popcorn and he replied in kind. “Merry Christmas to you too.” My son mentioned to me that he had no problem with Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanza (yes, we know Kwanza is a made up holiday) - he is an atheist who practices some of the teachings of Buddha, but not all. I had been thinking about writing this but had not discussed my annoyance with the general population over this issue, with him at all. Yet he too found it disturbing that people could not just be kind to each other for a few days over various intermingling holidays.

Jews, Christians, Muslims and Atheists alike have made this an issue, shoving their belief’s down the others gullet. And that makes me wonder why people can’t just take the month of December to be kind to one another. Be tolerant. I’m so sure that would be what Jesus would want, what Allah would want, what God would want, what Buddha would want- so why, oh why is this so difficult for people?

A Christian woman once told me – when my son was on his way to Iraq- that if he got killed he would not go to heaven because he was not born again. I wanted to smack her. I really did (although I never would do anything like that). I did not care if she was Christian… she was pure evil to me. Instead- I cried. She hurt me to my core. I was mad at all Christians for a long time after that. I didn’t understand that so many Christians themselves do not understand the teachings- the bible- and the spirit with which words were written.

To me- it’s insanity to think that God would choose any religion over another- or a God who would not let someone into heaven who put his life on the line for others. Yet it really mattered not- because my son himself does not believe in heaven.

I believe in life after life- I believe we continue to come back in body after body until we get life right. Until we let go of the material world, until we learn tolerance and love for all human and animal kind. I don’t know where I am in this imaginary scale- but I know I strive to get life right. And so does my son. The Catholic’s didn’t teach me this belief- in fact, I don’t know that anyone did, but I have always believed that my soul is on a journey. The day my son was born I looked into his face- his slanted eyes staring back at me like he had known me a million years and not just one hour and I said to whoever was there- he is an old soul. I believe I was right. While he has no one he calls God, he is kind, generous, and thoughtful and would surely lay down his life for another.

I have been to some dark places in my life, yet I have hope for humanity. I really do. Sometimes though, I feel like I am beating my head against a wall trying to understand why some people don’t do the things that would in my book at least, make them good human beings. I don’t mean the evil bastards that kill children, or the crazies who wipe out random strangers for sport. I know there is no simple explanation for that… I mean the Christian’s, the Orthodox Jews, the scientific Atheist, the Reverent holier than thou, who can not find it within themselves to say a mere thank you when someone holds their door open, or offer a smile at a ragged cashier at Safeway or say Happy Hanukkah or Merry Christmas and mean it.

So my after the holiday rant is actually a request. Think about this next year. I know it’s presumptuous of me to think I know what God wants… but I really he think that God does not have a preference for religious beliefs, or any type of people. He would rather we be kind to each other than buy each other gifts. He would rather we treat each other well then after church go home and kick the dog. In fact, you don’t even have to wait for the holidays. Start today.

Just be kind.

Friday, December 11, 2009

It's On the Tip of my Tongue

I have this thought… it’s on the tip of my tongue. I feel it embracing me, leading me and trying to help me understand what it wants. But I just can’t make out the words. Not unlike my life in real time- if my hearing aids aren’t in my ears, chances are I will miss what you are saying.

I wait for the epiphany that is sure to come. I look for it too on faces, in the news, even on TV. Sometimes I just sit quiet and hope it will strike me like lightening- only without killing me. I hope like crazy I am not one of those people who gets these amazing revelations 10 minutes before they die because that just won’t give me time to jot it all down.

Now I say all this but I have to tell you- I am the first one to tell other people to stop thinking about life and just do it. I hole up here with my sick and decrepit animals and my deranged puppy, living like a crazy old writer/dog lady, rarely going to social events or even a movie theater anymore. But I’ve done plenty, I lived 10 lives in my first 40 years and my goal now is to make sense of it all, document events before history changes them and find the patterns- break the molds, influence change, instigate hope- fix something.

It’s on the tip of my tongue- I just know it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thanks Mom

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of my mother’s death. She died far too young- only 53 years old. She also wasted much of her life on unhappiness.

I rarely write about my mother because it makes me sad. I do miss her and I wait for her to appear in dreams. It’s been years since I have had a dream conversation with my mom. The last one was a great one though.

I was sitting in a chair- and my mother pulled the chair backwards (how kids are wont to do). In the dream, I was scared I would fall- but then I asked her. “This is about trust isn’t it?” “Yes, it is” she said, “You need to start trusting people.”

That dream actually did change me- and how I perceived the world. I’m still wary- I doubt any city kid like myself can shake the innate knowledge that not everyone is trustworthy. But it changed how I viewed bosses, people I work with and relationships in my life. And it made me remember something someone else said to me once. “Don’t you trust me?” I asked my old boyfriend. “I trust you to be who you are.” He replied. Understanding who people are is truly an important aspect of trust. Understanding yourself though is equally significant.

So, on this 25th anniversary of my mothers death- I am trying to remember her lessons. The gifts she gave me never felt like gifts at the time. As hard to manage as I was- she predicted I would be a writer, and often said I could manage anything or do anything I put my mind to. She recognized early on that my stubborn streak would serve me well and become perseverance as I matured. I was her problem child, of that there is no doubt. I smoked, drank, and never asked for permission to do anything after I was 12 or 13. I was rebellious and if she asked me a question, I would defiantly reply with the truth. “Do you think your [step] father loves me?” She once asked me. “No mom- I don’t.” I did not hesitate one second. I can’t say I would answer any differently now.

My mother died from a virus that went to her heart. A broken heart really. My brother had died 2 years prior and most of her left then. If it were not for my brother’s daughter, born after his death, I don’t think she would have lived as long as she did. My mom, sisters’ and I took care of the baby (Joanna) for the first year of her life- then one day her mom picked her up and didn’t bring her back. My mother searched all over California for her- sometimes coming within hours of her location- only to come up empty, Joanna’s mom fleeing the scene. Her last search was in a horrible rainstorm in late November of 1984. I was pregnant with Nick and when I went to see my mom in the hospital, she asked me if I had found Joanna. “No mom, but I will.” I said. Then she told me about a dream she had. She dreamed she was a midwife and had helped deliver a baby girl. She said they named her Carol, for Christmas. She died a few days later, two weeks short of the anniversary of my brother’s death.

I found our Joanna 5 years later.

People that knew my mother will remember some good and some bad things. She was not well most of her life, suicidal and manic (gifts from her parents) she was hard to be around sometimes. Growing up with her was like walking on eggshells- we always knew a crack was coming. She was hardest on me. She had a great laugh and a sharp wit. She was smart. She was lost. She was broken. She was beautiful.

In retrospect, I see many lessons. Lessons about love; Don’t be jealous or petty or insecure. Lessons about parenting; be there, be there, be there. And don’t be so critical! Lessons about life; don’t waste it, it’s too short to be unhappy.

Earlier today, when I started writing this, I received a phone call from an old friend. It was an interesting phone call in that we talked about dreams (actual dreams not wants) and the power of the psyche to grab information from the universe. I didn’t mention I was writing this- but that was the direction I was going in when I sat down at this computer.

I think the best thing my mother ever gave me was my intuition. I tried to drown it when I was younger- but now I rely on it like the best friend that it is. Now when I think of someone, living or passed on, I try to send a message. I miss you, I love you. I’ll see you in my dreams.