Love is within us. It cannot be destroyed. It can be ignored. To the extent that we abandon love we will feel it has abandoned us.
Denying love is our only problem, and embracing it is the only answer.
Through the power of love, we can let go of past history and begin again.
Love heals, forgives, and makes whole.
Forgiveness by Sri Chinmoy
If I cannot forgive myself
For all the blunders
That I have made
Over the years,
Then how can I proceed?
How can I ever
Move, I must, forward.
Fly, I must, upward.
Dive, I must, inward,
To be once more
What I truly am
And shall forever remain.
There is more power in the open hand than in the clenched fist. – Herbert Newton Casson
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift”. ~ Mary Oliver
“Ray, I’ve come up with a great idea for your blog today.”
“This ought to be good, La Flor*. Last time you suggested a blog topic, you wanted me to write about the health benefits of wearing Christian Louboutin high heels. All I could think about were the impending lawsuits.”
“Start thinking about an attitude shift, Ray. Your blogs need to be edgy. They’re not. Your blogs should be groundbreaking. They’re not. Your blogs need to focus on the alt ego market share. They don’t.”
“Thanks for the blog critique, La Flor. The alt ego market is virtually untapped.”
“Now you’re thinking.”
“Okay, La Flor, I’m game, what is your idea for today’s blog?”
“La Flor, PI is on duty 24/7.”
“I get that. That’s your idea?”
“No, that is not my idea. But, because I am on duty 24/7 I found the dirt on your species that is going to make you World famous.”
“I have no desire to be world-famous.”
“Yes, you do.”
“No, I don’t.”
“Yes, you do.”
“If we keep going, I’ll have my blog. You have dirt on my species that no one knows about? Do you know what you’re talking about?”
“Ellen and Oprah will be all over it. Movies will be on Oxygen. You’ll need an agent. I have an alt ego friend who’ll do me a fav and take you on”
“You’ve got to start thinking and talking Hollywood, Ray.”
“Okay, I’ll think Hollywood, if it will help us get to the end.”
“When we went to the Y today to work out, I discovered something about your species that no one knows now but me.”
“Are you sure This is going to be new and groundbreaking?”
“I made videos with my iPhone to show on E!”
“I didn’t buy you an iPhone, where did you get it?”
“One of my friends at another blog understands how tight you are with money. She had her creator write me in a blog and give me an iPhone.”
“Wait a minute, you were written in the blog without my permission.”
“No, they had your permission, I signed your name to the permission slip.”
“You forged my name, then took photos of my species. I hope you didn’t go into the locker room.”
“What kind of beautiful, tough, and edgy private investigator do you think I am?”
“I plead the 5th Amendment.”
“I didn’t go in the men’s locker room. But, I did observe eight of your species for 20 minutes. And, when I give you this information it’s strictly on the QT.”
“I can hardly wait,” I said, trying to keep myself from dozing off.
“All eight of the members of your species were lifting weights.”
“That’s not unusual at the Y. I don’t consider that groundbreaking or earth shattering.”
“Do you know what they were doing while they were lifting weights?”
“I have no idea. I was busy on the elliptical machine. And, BTW watching ESPN.”
“Your species is narcissistic. Each of the men, while they were lifting weights, was staring at themselves in the mirror and watching their muscles go up and down. I don’t understand your species. Do they think that that turns women on?”
“I don’t know, you’ll have to ask your species.”
“Oh, for heaven sakes, Ray. No, it doesn’t turn us on.”
“Give my species a bit of a break, La Flor. There are few things in life we truly enjoy. Football, Fantasy Football, the NFL draft, waiting for football season, and watching our muscles while we lift weights at the gym.”
“I will never understand your species.”
“Don’t even try La Flor. It’s a mystery, even to me; and, I’m one of the species.”
Trying to understand why someone does something is a natural human phenomenon. Yet, it often results in faulty conclusions, incorrect judgments, and inaccurate responses. Even where the relationship is trusting, open, and honest, both parties may never fully understand the why of behavior. If it causes problems, resolve not to do it again, ask forgiveness, reconcile, and move on.
* La Flor is a fictional character and acts as my alt ego. Her character has evolved over the blog posts. She began with a single letter as her name. Her name gradually grew to two letters, then three before she settled on La Flor. She liked the name because it fit her idea of a beautiful, tough, and edgy feminine PI. It is my interaction with her persona that serves as the source of these blog posts. I have no notion how La Flor will continue to evolve. It is an adventure for me as well as the reader.
I’m in favor or second and third chances. Maybe, because I’ve been the beneficiary of second and third chances more than once. Well, more than twice.
“How many, Ray? Let’s be honest,” said Y.
I roll my eyes. Honestly, I’m not a trouble maker. Somehow, growing up, trouble seemed to find me. I could be down by the river far enough away I couldn’t hear my dad or mom call me to do chores. What is wrong with that? I didn’t know it, but I was finding my peaceful place.
“You want me to tell you what was wrong with that?”
“You finally got it right.”
“Leave, I’m writing a serious blog.”
“Can I have another chance?”
“Oh, you are such a manipulator.”
“And, good at it, Ray.”
“It could have been when I was in the Army and left a day early on weekend pass. The First Sergeant only ripped me a new one, if you know what I mean. He gave me a second chance.”
“I don’t. Can you be explicit?”
“It’s a family blog.”
“I’m giving you a second chance, Ray.”
“A second chance for what?”
“Being a bit more sensitive to the characters you create. Once we’re created, we have our own life. I don’t like being threatened, erased, put on a shelf, deposited in a digital file.”
“What did I do to deserve you?”
“Beat me. It’s like winning the Powerball, Ray. Come on, turn up those corners. Unclench the fists, pry open your jaw. That’s better. Now take a deep breath and breath out slowly.”
“You’re not my life coach.”
“You need one. Can I have a second chance?”
We all need second chances.
We all make mistakes, saw the wrong things. Hurt others. Second chances are another word for forgiveness, letting go of hurts, and working to rebuild a stronger relationship. I like second chances and third chances.
Three cheers for the weekend! I got two cheers out and then …
“What happened, Ray? What blocked the third cheer? Was it something I said? Something I was I supposed to say but didn’t?”
“Listen up anonymous poster, this blog is not about you. It’s about me.”
“Being kind of self-centered, a self-imposed sense of self-importance, correct me if I’m wrong.”
“Give me a break. I watched the same episode of Dr. Phil as you did. My excuse was that I was at the gym on the elliptical and bored. What was yours?”
“I’ve not known Dr. Phil to ever be wrong. You fit his description. I thought of you as soon he started talking.”
“Why am I talking to you? You can’t talk unless I write down what you’re saying. Go stand in the corner until tomorrow’s post.”
This is what happened to me, an interruption. A good interruption at that. A phone call from a friend. I stop unpacking my new toaster over. My good interruption led me down a path only the foolhardy will follow. It’s called the man path. I’ve been down this path many times. Each time I head down the path, I neglect to read the warning signs left every twenty feet along the path. The warning signs all repeat the same warning.
“Read Directions Before Using.”
I bought a toaster oven. I brought it home in time to put it into action before lunch. How difficult can it be to work a toaster oven? First issue: Taking the toaster oven out of the box. Do I take it out carefully in case I want to return it? Or, do I show the packing and shipping department who’s boss? The answer: it’s easier to recycle in small pieces.
Why is there a plastic wrap around the cord? Is it sterile? Am I not supposed to touch it? Then there is a tiny plastic wire tied around the cord. The poor thing can’t breathe. Off with them. No prisoners. I hope I didn’t hurt the toaster oven. I hope the plug still works.
I’m staring at it. The toaster oven glances over at the directions. I’ve never seen a toaster over glance, but this is the digital age. It’s all possible.
I pick up the directions and flip them into the shredded box pile. Don’t need them. I will never need them. They are there for the insecure. They are there for those who can’t figure things out on the fly. First thing. Plug this baby in. So far so good. Did I need a direction for that? I think not. In fact, I’ll wager the directions say, “Read this before plugging the unit in.” Duuh!
The smoke alarm is peaceful. Hmm, it has a couple of knobs. What’s this tray thing? It must go inside. Okay, Ray, pull the handle down, insert tray thing. What’s this other thing? It looks like a small pan. They probably threw in something extra. I wonder where this was made? I can’t read the writing on the side. It wasn’t made in San Antonio, that’s for sure. If it was, it would have come with an enchilada recipe.
Speaking of such. I pull out a tortilla, put some tuna on it, slice a tomato from my garden and put a few slices on the tuna. I sprinkle it all with nonfat mozzarella. I am admiring my masterpiece. I look in the toaster oven, all I see are grates. You’d think they’d give you a pan. Oh, they did. What did I do with it? Did I take it out to recycle? I know, I’ll put my tortilla on a glass plate. It’s looking good. I wonder what’s a good temperature to do a tortilla? I think I’ll play it cool and put it on broil. I don’t have time to waste. What do you think? Five minutes should do it. I figure out the timer. I have the broiler going. I’m going to chill until I smell the ….
I promise, I promise, I promise, I will read the directions. I think I shredded them.
There are directions important to read.
There are directions important to follow.
There are things we know without having to read or be told to follow: Love everyone, forgive, reconcile whenever possible, and lend a helping hand to all who need one.
There are things I don’t understand. Many times I accept the explanation of experts. How does electricity work? I don’t care. I do care it works. Where does my bodily waste go and how does it get there? I don’t need to know. I’m happy it gets to where it is going. How do they grow coffee? I don’t know. I’m happy they grow it and I get to drink it. Why does asparagus make my urine smell? Pass the citrus spray, por favor. But, I still like roasted asparagus. Enough of these trick questions. Don’t let them keep you awake tonight. Here is a truly puzzling question:
Why do some people stop talking to each other when they are angry when the only way to resolve their issues is by talking?
Here’s how the conversation goes or doesn’t go.
“I’m angry with you.”
“Okay. I’m angry with you too.”
“You are so, so, so … I won’t say it, but you know what I’m thinking.”
“I know what you are thinking and you better not be thinking what I think you’re thinking.”
“Well, I’m thinking it and I’m going to keep on thinking it. What do you think you’re going to do about it? I know what you’re thinking and don’t you dare do it.”
“That’s it. I can’t take any more of what you are thinking and they way you are thinking it. I’m not only not going to think about you. I am not going to speak to you.”
“Perfect. When are you going to start? Oh cute, zipping your lips like a first grader. I can do that too. Before I do that, I am not only not going to think about you. I am not going to speak to you. And, I will not take Lil Bitty out for a walk when it rains.”
She clutches her heart, “Don’t bring Lil Bitty into this. She’s innocent.”
“Well, Lil Bitty won’t lick your face when you’re sad.”
“Come on, you know I like it when Lil Bitty licks my face when I’m sad.”
“And, I like it when you rub my feet.”
“What were we fighting about?”
“I dunno. I think it was about some dumb question the guy who writes this blog wrote.”
It stops here readers. It’s a family blog.
Arguments. Keep speaking. Most of the things we squabble about don’t stand the test of time. Forgiveness heals. Love heals. And, if you have to move on, it’s possible to forgive and move on.
“That’s what people do who love you. They put their arms around you and love you when you’re not so lovable.” ― Deb Caletti
“I sustain myself with the love of family.” ― Maya Angelou
A family has always been a big deal for me. When I was growing up, it was a place I called home. I felt wanted, loved, and encouraged. Was it perfect? Not by any measure. We all held our measure of imperfection. It didn’t matter, it was family. Mom and dad always held an open door and waited for me with open arms.
When I married Babe, we decided we would be a family filled with love. We wanted our five girls to know their mom and dad loved each other and modeled their love for them. We loved, we laughed, we celebrated, we cried, and we forgave. Through it all, we remain a family.
All through Babe’s suffering and death, the five girls rallied around me. They sustained me. They did it because that is what loving families do.
All through my grieving period, their love was the foundation from which I gleaned strength, courage, and determination to go on. Why? Because it is what loving families do.
Family is the place we come from and where we feel we can always return.
Family is the place where, in spite of differences, when the chips are down, we count on each other.
Not everyone has the same experience of family as I did. It is never too late to create a sense of family. It takes two people who care deeply about each other. Two people who dare venture into tomorrow. And, two people who will always have each other’s back. I found strength in my large family. I hope you find strength in your family.