Category Archives: Life Lessons

It’s not ok.

I love dogs.  Actually I love animals.  Throughout the years I’ve had rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, birds, fish, dogs, and a cat.  I’ve rescued baby squirrels and baby birds.  I’ve gone to great lengths to avoid hitting possum, raccoon, birds, and butterflies.  I think that animals are more real than people.  You know where you stand with a dog or a cat.  Your social status never impresses a pot-belly pig.  A hefty bank account will not encourage a horse to follow you.  Animals know what’s important and what’s not.

I know that everyone doesn’t share my love of animals, and that’s ok.  There are people who leave their cats shut in a small room all day while they’re working.  They tie out their dogs in all kinds of weather.  They forget to feed the hamsters, and expect birds to be happy in a half square foot of space for their entire lives.  I’m not happy about that, but I can’t fix the world.

Other people have a burning hatred for animals.  These people kick dogs out of their way.  They toss cats out of cars on country roads.  They go out of their way to step on bugs.  And some, for reasons that are alien to me, kill animals.  Like dogs.  Like my dog.  Like Buddy.

Buddy and Lucky (another of my dogs) were out in the back yard and discovered a small hole in the fence.  Being the free spirits that they are, out they went.  Lucky came back soon.  Buddy didn’t.

Jeff searched as long as he could.  Galal and I looked for a couple of hours – all over White County from halfway to Monticello to Brookston and along Highway 43.  It got dark, and we had to stop looking.  I was going to continue looking on Saturday morning.  Before we left the house to look on Saturday, we got a phone call.  A woman’s husband had been driving north through town and saw what he thought might be Buddy.  I had placed a couple of notices on Craig’s List with a photo.  Jeff got into the car and drove to the spot.

Buddy was there.  But he was dead.  We don’t know if he was hit by a car or if he was shot.  He still had his collar on with my cell phone number engraved on it.  Jeff and Nate (son-in-law) came back home, got a tarp, and brought Buddy home.  We buried him under the apple trees with his cow toy.

Being the type of person who stops to make sure birds that fly into my windshield are ok, I naively think that other people should stop if they hit an animal.  Had the person who hit Buddy stopped right then, they would have found his tag and could have called me.  Buddy might have lived if he’d gotten medical attention.

If he was shot, which is what it looked like might have happened…why?  Aside from being a large dog (St. Bernard/Collie mix), Buddy was the sweetest, most gentle dog I’ve ever known.  The only thing strangers were to Buddy was friends he had yet to meet.  His tail, all plumey and beautiful, never stopped wagging.  No matter how many table tops he cleared with it.  If you’ve never seen a dog that size plop down into a puppy bow, you don’t know what cute is.  Why shoot a dog – or any animal – and then walk away as if the dog was so much roadside trash?

What makes people do things like this?  The world is such an incredible mess.  There are people dying because the food they need is being used as political currency.  Other people are dying for a religious war that no one can win.  We hate this group because of their skin color.  We hate that group because they have a different opinion of how government should work.  We hate yet another group because they fall in love with the “wrong” people.

And we shoot dogs…just because.

What hope is there for this world, when there is so much wrong, and so few people really doing anything to fix it?

Day 5 – Yes…I’m one behind.

Time keeps on slipping away from me.  I’m a day behind, and I’m not entirely sure what was so important yesterday that kept me from writing.  This seems to happen a lot these days.

Time is such a fluid concept.  It’s quite concrete when you talk about a clock, or when you have to be at work, or when you’re sitting in the dentist’s chair.  It’s more obscure when you’re engaged in something fun or engaging.  I find that I often run out of it.  And since you can’t borrow a cup of minutes or a quart of hours from the neighbor – once it’s gone that’s it.

Sometime it passes in a blink.  Sleeping is one of those times.  So is reading a good book.  It can go so fast that you look at a clock, and then it’s several hours later.  Now is a concept of time in the past tense, since as soon as you are aware of it being "now" it’s already "then."

Other times it drags by, like a heavy sack you’re dragging around with you.  When you want so desperately to sleep, and it just won’t come.  When you’re waiting for something or someone and it or they don’t show up when expected.  In those cases, "now" stretches out in an endless elastic string.  Even then, though, when what you’re waiting for arrives, time snaps back and it’s like you never waited.

Time took longer when I was a kid.  Summers flowed on and on, until we were so ready to go back to school that it seemed like September would never arrive.  A school day was so much longer than six hours.  Trips to the grocery store lasted a lifetime.

Now, not so much.  Now I get up in the morning, go through my day trying (and failing) to be present in each moment, only to find that it’s 10PM and time to go to bed again.  The night passes more quickly than the day, and it all starts over again.  How to make each moment longer seems to be the theme of my life now. Just a short time ago my children were young, and we were living in the small rental on Chaucer Drive.  Micah was a newborn with soft dark hair and big brown eyes.  He still had soft dark hair and big brown eyes – they’re just several feet higher in the air.

How do you make life slow down so you can fully experience it?  That seems to be my big question tonight.

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Day 3 – Shana Tova – שנה טובה ומתוקה

To all my family and friends – the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindi, and Atheist – שנה טובה ומתוקה – May you have a good and sweet year.

Rosh Hashanah is (one of) the Jewish New Year(s).  There are others.  I’ll explain another time.  Rosh Hashanah happens on the first day of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, making it the “head” of the Jewish year.  Much discussion and many rabbinic writings on this, so feel free to look it up.  Ten days from now, we celebrate (perhaps not the best word)  Yom Kippur , the Day of Atonement, when Jews repent and atone for misdeeds and sins in the past year.  It’s the holiest day of the year for us.  Even though I’m not religious, and don’t observe my Jewish faith in most ways, I still feel a pull at this time of year to reflect on the past year and the promise of the new.  It is said that on Rosh Hashanah it is written (in the Book of Life) and on Yom Kippur it is sealed (in the same book, as in your fate is). 

Things I’ve done this past year:

Taken my friends for granted.
Told lies and half truths.
Been malicious in my thoughts and words.
Way too many things to list here.

People I’ve hurt/let down/transgressed against:

Most

For almost everything, I’m truly sorry.  For some things, I’m only regretful.  For a very few things, I feel no remorse.  Being brutally honest here, so in the spirit of the day – don’t judge me.  I think that there are times that all of us falter and let the baser side of our nature surface without really regretting it.  Times when we’ve been cut off in traffic and swear at the other driver as we pass him.  Times we’ve walked past a homeless person and instead of helping in some small way, we’ve just felt thankful that it’s not us in that situation.  Other times when we’ve deliberately dodged a phone call or a visit because we just wanted to be left alone – but we lied or mislead the caller or visitor.  Then there’s the big stuff.  I’m sure you get my point.

Every major religion has a time of introspection and atonement.  Some religions only require you to confess to a priest or person-of-the-cloth to obtain forgiveness.  Other’s require only that you be sincerely sorry in your heart.  Many require some sort of penance, or sacrifice to absolve your misdeeds and transgressions.  Judaism requires you to take personal responsibility for your actions, and apply directly to the person you’ve wronged for absolution.  G-d can only forgive those actions that were against G-d.  Each person needs to have the opportunity to hear your apology personally.  I’ve only occasionally risen to that challenge.  I’d like to say it was because I didn’t want to cause further hurt by admitting to my family and friends that my reasons were selfish, but who are we kidding here?  They know.  The real reason is that I don’t want to be there when they DON’T forgive me.  Because deep down, I’m pretty sure I’m a horrible person who doesn’t deserve forgiveness.

Before you all comment that “that’s SO not true!” and “you’re not!” let me tell you that like very other person in the world, my own perception of myself is rarely based in reality.  I know, on an intellectual level, that I’m not a horrible person.  I’m no worse or better than anyone else.  But why take a chance?  Why open myself up to that potential glaring criticism. 

So, while I have no intention of going to each person individually to apologize, I want to say that for those people I’d ducked visits and phone calls from – I’m sorry.  To the people I should have visited and didn’t – I’m going to try harder this new year.  If I didn’t say the right thing, I’m sorry.  I probably had no idea what to say, which is usually the case.  That’s not to say I don’t care, or am not sympathetic.  It just means that I probably couldn’t put that into words.  Writing is easy.  Talking is hard.

Hopefully, most of you will accept this blanket apology.  For those who don’t – I understand, and someday I’ll come to you personally and ask for your forgiveness.

 

 

 

Training – Day 2

Day 2 of training. 

An interesting point was made by my son.  I posted an article about a woman in Saudi Arabia who has been sentenced to 10 lashes for driving a car.  Other women have been detained for the same thing, but this is the first one to be sentenced to corporal punishment.  I was not happy when I read it, and said so when I posted it on Facebook.  Micah commented that we shouldn’t be judging other cultures.  A friend, Ed, explained to Micah that it isn’t a matter of judging, it’s a matter of not tolerating bullies.  Micah, as is his way, stuck to his convictions and didn’t budge.

I have mixed feelings about the whole discussion.  On the one hand, I feel it’s wrong to treat women as lesser people.  I feel that by requiring women to cover their faces and hair, never leave the home without a male relative along for the ride, not allowing them to drive, or vote, or support their families, it devalues them.  That comes from my own upbringing, of course.  I’m a daughter of the 60s and 70s, and it is engrained in my soul that women can do anything men can do – and should.  Feminism runs in my veins.

Micah is a millenial child.  He’s too young to remember the women’s and civil right battles we experienced in the United States.  It seems to me that equal rights and opportunities don’t have the same value they had when I was growing up.  My mom was one of the very few who worked, let alone had a career.  I never expected to be supported by a man.  I’m an IT manager and my sister is an attorney – both traditionally male occupations.  While it may not occur to Micah that women don’t always get equal treatment in the business world, and there are still some big stereotypes we operate under, I would have thought he would understand on some level the struggles that still go on, albeit in a much quieter fashion.

Tolerance is something I’ve always tried to instill in my children.  Apparently I’ve done a good job with him.  But I want him to know there’s a difference between cultural tolerance and tolerating bullies.  It’s not tolerance to sit by and let half of the population of a country be kept locked away.  Tolerance is not turning your back when  someone is being put down.  Every person deserves the opportunity to make their thoughts and needs known, and be able to live their lives free of oppression.

This issue is doubly interesting because we have an exchange student this year.  He’s from Yemen, and is Muslim.  We’ve had a few discussions, and he agrees with some of what I think and disagrees with other ideas.  That’s ok.  We can agree to disagree.  But where do you draw the line? At what point does tolerance become tacit approval?

Obviously I’m not going to fix the world with a blog post, but maybe it will make someone think more deeply, and change a few minds.

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